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Healthy Bites with Holly: A Few of My Favorite Things

15 Apr

As I was shopping this week, it occurred to me that I have found new favorite foods.  Yummy, nutritious things to eat that are now my go-to foods.  You know those foods…the stuff you HAVE TO HAVE in your cupboards or refridgerator every day.   In order of importance, here are my must haves:

  1. Greek Yogurt:  Bar none, greek yogurt has become the food I most look forward to eating daily.  My preference is Chobani brand Greek Yogurt.   If you compare regular yogurt to greek yogurt, per ounce greek yogurt has only 2 more calories, but half the sugar and twice the protein.  This means that for just a few more calories, it satisfies me longer.  And feeling fuller means that I don’t want to cheat and eat a donut. (Photo Source)
  2. Edamame:  I love me some edamame!  You can buy these unshelled soy beans pre-cooked and frozen in small little packets.  I buy them from Costco and pop them in my freezer.  And then, when I need a little mindless snack, something to replace high fat, empty calories like potato chips, I just zap them for 2 minutes in the microwave and I have fun, tasty thing to eat that doesn’t pack on the pounds. The best thing is that edame is very low in sodium. It is also a good source of Dietary Fiber, Protein, Thiamin, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Copper, and a very good source of Vitamin K, Folate and Manganese. (Photo Source)
  3. Low Fat String Cheese:  Wanna play with your food?  And eat healthy?  Add low fat string cheese to your diet.  I love the different ways that I can eat it.  Sometimes, I cut it into little coins, and eat them slowly, one by one.  Sometimes, I peel off the strings, and eat them like a kid.  And sometimes, I zap the cheese for 15 seconds in the microwave, and eat it warm and a little melty.  My very favorite thing is to take a few low fat cracker, such as Low Fat Wheat Thins, and add a piece of string cheese, and then a piece of jalapeno pepper on the very top.  The crunch is satisfying and feels like a little hors d’oeuvre.  MM Good!
  4. Bananas:  I think the banana may be the most perfect food.  It is easily digested, contains nature sugars for energy, high in protein, high in potassium.  It is portable, has it’s own wrapper and contains almost 20% of your daily vitamin C need.  And it is great to help you regulate your, um, bathroom products.  Which can come in handy when you are first trying to lose weight and your body rebels.  I have at least one banana a day. (Fact Source)
  5. Water Bottles:  Technically, the water bottles I purchased are not a food, but they have helped me so much to drink the water I need every day.  At first, I tried to use recycled water bottles, but they were thin, and easily collasped.  The caps became harder and harder to screw on, and sometimes they leaked in my bag.   I found these particular bottles at Bed Bath and Beyond. They are thick, and easy to clean.  The caps are very strong and have a silicone seal to keep the water in the bottle.  These are designed to work with their new SodaStream soda maker, but you can buy them separately.

Do you have a “Go-To” nutritious food or product that has helped your healthy eating goals?  Drop me a line and let me know!

Holly is the mother of three grown daughters, and has recently embarked on her own journey of weight loss and healthy living. Convinced that the key to her success is smart, but manageable, eating choices, she is now a regular columnist for The Frugal Flambe- you can catch her posts every Friday right here! Join her every week as she shares her triumphs and successes, and maybe a couple of stumbles along the way. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be horrible- Holly can do it, and so can you.


Product Review: Sweet Mother Nature & GIVEAWAY!

22 Mar
I am a snack-aholic.
My kid is a snack-aholic.
And the hubbster? You guessed it. Snack-aholic.
With all the snacking we want to do, especially late at night we’ve had to branch out of our usual chips with sour cream mixed with salsa regimen. (Try it, it’s great. Or don’t try it. It’s addictive.) However, with me being pregnant, the kiddo being very persistent, and the hubbster being a grade-A enabler, you can imagine how difficult it has been to try and stay away from snacks altogether. And so I went looking for healthy alternatives. But here’s the thing, guys. The alternative had to not taste like an alternative. It needed to taste like a treat, but without the guilt of a treat.
And let me tell you, I struck GOLD.
Sweet Mother Nature, a store I found on, makes amazing snacks that will no doubt satisfy the inner-snack-aholic in you, just like it did for me. So I dropped Matt and Sheryl (owners) a line, and talked them into letting me review their awesome snacks on my new blog. (They were brave- the blog was three days old at the time.) Here’s the interview:

The Frugal Flambe (TFF): First off, let me just say, I love the idea of having healthy snacks on hand. And my kid loves your snacks!
Sweet Mother Nature (SMN): The first thing I have to say about the snacks from Sweet Mother Nature is – YES – KIDS DO LOVE IT!!!  Also a very smart choice for dieters. These are snacks that everyone can appreciate. Dehydrated goodies are perfect for snacking and a great replacement for candy and/or sugary, so-called, “gummy fruits”.

TFF: Well that certainly takes a weight off my mind when I’m feeding the kidlet. But hey, you say your stuff is healthy- how healthy?

SMN: They remain healthy because they retain their natural goodness including all the anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber. There are NO preservatives and NO sugar added. One more benefit is that dehydrated goods need NO refrigeration and last for months in your cupboard. Everything is made in a commercial grade dehydrator in clean, country home. Definitely better than CANDY – it’s Sweet Mother Nature.

TFF: How did you come up with the idea to start making these treats?

SMN: Snackers at heart, Matt and I are always on the look out for healthy treat alternatives. We wanted nutritious, low calorie snacking foods, but had trouble finding anything we liked, without added sugars and chemicals. Health food stores carry and offer healthy foods, but we find the prices did not always meet our financial budget. Living in the Finger Lakes area of New York State, we have a wealth of locally grown fruits and wanted to enjoy them year-round.

TFF: I can relate to the snacker part- where did the idea to dehydrate the fruit come from?

SMN: Well, we needed a way to make our fresh produce last throughout the winter months. Since we are very conscious about our electrical bill, we didn’t want to have to run a chest freezer all year. We also found that frozen produce gets mushy and some just can’t be frozen successfully – thus the dehydrating began!  You would not believe the combinations we come up with <lol>. Pineapple/Orange, Pear/Blueberry, Orange/Cranberry, Banana/Mango/Coconut – OMG the possibilities are endless.

TFF: So why not just keep the goodies for yourself? How did you end up selling these out of your home?

SMN: We had such a positive response from family and friends that we thought we would try selling at our local craft / vendor shows and online commerce sites. [listed below]

TFF: And have you been successful?

SMN: YES! We were recently approached by our first investor! Here’s an article about all the excitement: AND- You may be happy to know that we take special orders – let your imagination FLY!!

After our interview, Matt and Sheryl actually sent me samples of their delicious stuff- here’s what I thought:

  • Dried Bananas- Not crunchy like I expected, by chewy and sweet- like candy.
  • Dried Apples- Awesome- with a little dusting of cinnamon, the tartness of the apples was highlighted and tasted like heaven.
  • Pineapple Leather: Nature’s fruit roll ups, I kid you not. This was by FAR our favorite part of the whole testing experience. Tart, a little bit of sweetness, and chewy enough to satisfy my snacking urge.
  • Strawberry Leather: The kiddo dug this one- he literally ate the whole piece. Tastes just like strawberries in the summertime.
  • Dried Cherries- SO MUCH BETTER than the ones you buy at the store- tart and sweet at the same time, these were perfect.
  • Dried Papaya- Our least favorite of the bunch, but still great. It tasted like I took a bite right out a fresh papaya- you can’t ask for better than that!

And you guys- the best is yet to come! Sweet Mother Nature was so stoked about being featured at The Frugal Flambe, they agreed to do a giveaway! That’s right, FREE goodies for you and your family. Just leave a comment below, and on Friday, March 25, a random commenter will be chosen to receive this sweet prize- Honey Cinnamon Dried Apples (they literally melt in your mouth).

Like what you see? Shop to your hungry heart’s content at the Sweet Mother Nature’s Etsy Store.

Questions? Direct them to

A very special thank-you to Matt, Sheryl, and the rest of the Sweet Mother Nature Crew!


Now, I know you’ve all been clinging to the edge of your seats for this one: the Sweet Mother Nature Giveaway Winner!!!

According to the Randomizer, our winner is: Amanda!!!!

Congratulations to you, Amanda, and a special thanks to all who participated.

To the winner: expect an email from thefrugalflambe(at)gmail(dot)com within 24 hours- it’ll include the contact info of Sweet Mother Nature, and you can send your address directly to them to get your FREE bag of dried apples! Yummy!


Healthy Bites with Holly: Steel Cut Oats

18 Mar

Happy Friday! My name is Holly, and I am a recovering bad eater. I am a 46 year old empty-nester and in January, I was 90 pounds overweight. It was those damn Christmas holiday pictures that finally pushed me over the edge. I was shocked at how old and tired (not to mention large) I looked and I realized that if I wanted to have enough energy to chase after my 2 year old grandson, I would have to make changes. This isn’t my first time trying to lose weight–all other attempts were intense but short lived. My number one priority is this time around, I need to focus on making changes that I can live with FOREVER. Even if the weight loss is slower.

With this in mind, I started my journey by enrolling in my local Weight Watchers meeting. Keeping myself grounded by weekly weigh ins seemed like a good idea. Weight watchers has a great program, but they allow you A LOT of choices. And my choices in the past have not been that great. I needed to expand my food knowledge and expand my healthy food choices. So I started to research. I bought many of the popular diet books, searched for internet information, and I talked to all the skinny people in my life. I realized quickly that I didn’t have a clue about healthy food. I didn’t know where to buy it, how to identify the healthy stuff, and I certainly didn’t know how to prepare it.

I started slowly with Special K cereal for breakfast, frozen low calorie meals for lunch, and salads for dinner. But after only two weeks of this, I was craving more choices. Now that I was not overeating at night, I found myself ravenous hungry in the mornings. I heard someone talking about steel cut oats, and how filling and nutritious they were. Steel cut oats?? What is that? Well…I learned that steel-cut oats are whole grain groats (the inner portion of the oat kernel) which have been cut into only two or three pieces by steel rather than being rolled. The benefits to steel cut vs rolled is that you get more fiber and nutrition that are processed out in the rolled oats. Okay…that sounded pretty easy to add..just boil some oatmeal, and there you go. Off to Costco I went, found a big bag of “Coaches Oats” and ran home to check them out.

I started to panic when I opened the bag. Ummm…it looked like little pieces of chipped wood. NOTHING like oatmeal to me. My stomach started to rebel just from the look of it.

I read the package and was reassured that you could cook this stuff in the microwave in 4 minutes or less. The next morning, I made time to zap me a bowl. 4 short minutes later, I tried to eat it. It was lumpy and it was tough to chew. In short, I hated it with a passion. I was just about to throw the steel cut oats out in the trash, when I happened to mention my experience in the lunchroom at work. One of my co-workers suggested I cook the oats on the stove instead…and for a lot longer than 4 minutes. I wasn’t thrilled with this news. Cooking oats on the stove for 10-15 minutes every morning wasn’t going to happen.

I am happy to report that I have found a way to have my oats and eat them too (every morning) without standing at the stove every morning. I visited my local dollar store, and picked up 8 ounce plastic containers with snug lids. And on Saturday mornings, I boil six cups of water, and 2 cups of oats. I add in 6 packets of artificial sweetener (one for each serving) to make it taste yummy. (You can add more or less, according to your sweet tooth) and I boil the oats for at least 15 minutes. At the 10 minute mark, the oats are very thick, and I add one more cup of water to extend the cooking time. (The longer you cook them, the less chewy they become) .

And finally, in keeping with portion control and being accountable for what I eat, I weigh each portion (1 portion is usually 6.5 ounces-depending on how thick the oats are). My final addition is a handful of organic, flash frozen, no sugar added blueberries to each bowl. And voila! 6 ready to microwave bowls of nutritious goodness for every morning, filled with high fiber, protein, and anti-oxidants. This just might be the most perfect breakfast food on the planet.

My oats are the only the first new thing I have added to my food list. And I am happy to say that it’s been 8 weeks now, and I have consistently lost an average of 1 and half pounds a week. Every week I add something new to my diet…some additions are a great success, and some are total failures. The great news is that I am not bored…and I am learning healthy eating skills that will hopefully carry me to my ultimate weight loss goal of the whole 90 pounds.

Join me here every Friday and let’s continue learning how to eat healthy without your stomach going on strike.

Nutritional Information (without the blueberries): Serving size 1/3 cup dry oats. Calories: 160 Fat: 3g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 10mg Total Carb: 27g Dietary Fiber: 2 Protein: 6g

Holly is the mother of three grown daughters, and has recently embarked on her own journey of weight loss and healthy living. Convinced that the key to her success is smart, but manageable, eating choices, she is now a regular columnist for The Frugal Flambe- you can catch her posts every Friday right here! Join her every week as she shares her triumphs and successes, and maybe a couple of stumbles along the way. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be horrible- Holly can do it, and so can you.

Product Review: OXO Silicon Flexible Turner

9 Mar

I know what you’re thinking: “How much could there be to review about a spatula?” quite a bit, my friends. My everyday, always have it on hand, can’t-flip-a-fried-egg-without-it spatula is, in my opinion, the most important utensil in my arsenal. (And believe me, I’ve got quite the army of utensils.)

The OXO Silicon Flexible Turner, (whoa, what a name- from here on out it’ll be the OXO), promises to be perfect for flipping eggs, burgers, pancakes, crepes, and more. On that point, it’s totally correct. The silicon covering over the spatula allows it to slide cleanly right under your pancakes, burgers, etc. I did have trouble with it sticking to my fried egg, but fried eggs are better flipped with a toss of the pan anyway. I also appreciate that the silicon covering isn’t obnoxiously thick; I like a nice thin spatula, and this one fits the bill.

The OXO also features a stainless steel , (the part in between the handle and the spatula), with a rubber covered handle. The handle is great- seemingly impervious to heat, it is never too hot to handle. The trunk, however, is not non-stick. When one is spoiled with a spatula head that repels concrete, a stickiness-prone trunk is a drag. However, how often is the middle of the spatula dirty? Not enough to make this product unworthy of a place in your kitchen.

The high temperature threshold for the spatula head is awesome- never worry about it melting, cracking, or peeling. This stuff is meant to last forever. And while we’re adoring the silicon nature of this product, I’d like to mention how happy I am to know that this spatula won’t scratch my non-stick cookware. I can use it on any pan, pot, or cookie sheet I’ve got, and they all escape unscathed- even after repeated uses.

Unlike other spatulas I’ve used, the OXO is made of one piece of steel, so the head won’t fall off after extended use. This is also good to know for those who use an automatic dishwasher after cooking- this product won’t have issues in those high heat conditions as there are no jointed areas sealed with glue.

Overall, I would venture to say that this spatula is the best I’ve ever flipped with. It meets all of my rough/tough trials, and will stand the test of time. This is important because you know I’m not into wasting money.

OXO Silicon Flexible Turner Grade: A+

Click HERE to buy this product.

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