Recipe Corner: BBQ Chicken-Guacamole Sandwiches

Guacamole is made from heart-healthy avocados. This spread is bursting with flavor and keeps a lid on calories since the recipe calls for only a dollop per sandwich. If you are in a time crunch, use a few slices of fresh avocado (about ¼ medium avocado = 80 calories) to add a quick creamy addition to your meal.
Makes 4 Servings, 295 calories each
Serving Size: 1 sandwich with 4 ounces chicken breast & 2 Tablespoons guacamole.

Preparation: 10 minutes/ makes 1 ½- 2 cups
Serving size: 2 Tablespoons = 50 calories
¼ cup finely chopped white onion
½ cup finely chopped plum tomatoes
¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
2 ripe Hass avocados
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
salt, a pinch
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice, or to taste
1. Use a bowl and fork to mash the onion, cilantro, garlic, tomato, and salt with a grinding motion to form a course paste.
2. Cut the avocados in half, remove their pits, and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Add to the mixture and mash well.
3. Add lime juice to balance the flavors. Let the mixture stand for a few minutes before serving to allow the flavors to blend.
4 skinless, boneless, chicken breasts (3-4 ounces each)
¼ cup barbecue sauce (such as Sticky Fingers)
1 small tomato, thinly sliced
½ cup sliced cucumber
4 Pepperidge Farm 100% whole wheat hamburger buns (or “120” calories worth of bread per person)
PAM Nonfat cooking spray
½ cup guacamole (see recipe)
1. Prepare guacamole according to recipe. Spread each bun with 2 tablespoons of guacamole. Top with a layer of sliced cucumber and tomatoes.
2. Brush chicken with barbecue sauce.
3. Place chicken on nonstick skillet or grill rack coated with cooking spray.
4. Cook chicken 3-4 minutes per side or until chicken is done (no longer pink).
5. Place one barbecued chicken breast on each bun.
Optional: Melt 1 slice of fat-free American cheese on each chicken breast during last minute of cooking, adds 30 calories.

Looking for a substitute for chips to serve with guacamole? Wash and slice fresh vegetables such as bell peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers to dip in guacamole. For a light and sweet crunchy dipper, purchase fresh jicama (a tuber that resembles a potato). Simply wash & peel the skin, and slice into strips for a low-calorie treat (1 cup sliced jicama= 46 calories)


Hot Weather Exercise — Step Ahead’s fitness expert Noelle Lusardi explains how to exercise safely this summer season!

Outdoor exercise can be challenging when the temperature soars. Stay safe during hot-weather exercise by drinking enough fluids, wearing proper clothing and timing your workout to avoid extreme heat.

How hot weather affects your body:
Exercising in hot weather puts extra stress on your heart and lungs. Both the exercise itself and the air temperature increase your body temperature. To dissipate heat, more blood circulates through your skin. This leaves less blood for your muscles, which increases your heart rate. If the humidity is high, your body faces added stress because sweat doesn’t readily evaporate from your skin — which only pushes your body temperature higher.

Under normal conditions, your skin, blood vessels and perspiration level adjust to the heat. But these natural cooling systems may fail if you’re exposed to high temperatures and humidity for too long. The result may be a heat-related illness, such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heatstroke.

How to avoid heat-related illnesses:
To keep it cool during hot-weather exercise, keep these basic precautions in mind:
 Take it slow. If you’re used to exercising indoors or in cooler weather, take it easy at first. As your body adapts to the heat, gradually increase the length and intensity of your workouts. If you have a chronic medical condition or take medication, ask your doctor if you need to take additional precautions.
 Drink plenty of fluids. Your body’s ability to sweat and cool down depends on adequate rehydration. Drink plenty of water while you’re working out — even if you don’t feel thirsty. If you’re planning to exercise intensely or for longer than one hour, consider sports drinks instead. These drinks can replace the sodium, chloride and potassium you lose through sweating. Avoid drinks that contain caffeine or alcohol, which actually promote fluid loss.
 Dress appropriately. Lightweight, loosefitting clothing promotes sweat evaporation and cooling by letting more air pass over your body. Avoid dark colors, which can absorb the heat. A light-colored hat can limit your exposure to the sun.
 Avoid midday sun. Exercise in the morning or evening — when it’s likely to be cooler outdoors — rather than the middle of the day. If possible, exercise in the shade or in a pool.
 Wear sunscreen. A sunburn decreases your body’s ability to cool itself.
 Have a backup plan. If you’re concerned about the heat or humidity, stay indoors. Work out at the gym, walk laps inside the mall or climb stairs inside an air-conditioned building.

Know when to call it quits:
During hot-weather exercise, be on the lookout for heat-related illness. Signs and symptoms may include:
 Weakness
 Headache
 Dizziness
 Muscle cramps
 Nausea or vomiting
 Rapid heartbeat

If you suspect a heat-related illness, stop exercising and get out of the heat. Drink water, and wet and fan your skin. If you don’t feel better within 60 minutes, contact your doctor. If you develop a fever higher than 102 F (38.9 C) or become faint or confused, seek immediate medical help.

Regular physical activity is important — but don’t let hot-weather workouts put your health at risk. For additional information, contact Noelle at

Recipe Corner: Scallops with Whole Wheat Spaghetti in Basil Parmesan Sauce & Sauteed Bok Choy

Scallops & Spaghetti
Makes 4 servings
Serving Size: 4 ounces scallops + ½ cup pasta mixture: 306 calories
1 pound large sea scallops (about 15-20)
¼ cup grated Parmesan Cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried
2 cups cooked whole wheat spaghetti
Ground black pepper to taste
Sautéed Bok Choy with Toasted Cashews
Makes 4 servings
Serving Size: ¾ cup sautéed bok choy: 83 calories
8.8 ounce package of baby bok choy (3 bunches), wash & trim away green leaves from white stem. Discard bottom 1-2” of white stem. Slice stem and green leaves into thin strips. Cook stems slightly ahead of green leaves.
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ounce toasted cashews (about 20 cashews)
* To toast cashews: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes. Remove and let cool.
1. Cook about ¼ box of pasta according to package directions, omitting salt. Drain pasta in a colander and measure out 2 cups. Combine spaghetti with ¼ cup cheese, 1 tablespoon olive oil, chopped basil, and pepper in a large bowl.
2. Heat remaining tablespoon oil in non-stick skillet over high heat. Add garlic for 1 minute. Add scallops to pan and cook about 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Set aside.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon peanut oil in nonstick skillet. Sauté sliced stems and minced garlic for 2-3 minutes. Add chopped leaves & balsamic vinegar and sauté 1-2 minutes until wilted. Stir in cashews.
4. Place ½ cup pasta on each of 4 plates. Top each serving with 4 ounces scallops (around 5 scallops). Divide bok choy mixture evenly between 4 plates.
The Skinny on the Entire Meal:
Serving size: 4 ounces scallops, ½ cup pasta, ¾ cup bok choy = 390 calories
Always take care not to overcook scallops. They toughen easily. As soon as they loose their translucency and turn opaque, they are done. You can also grill the scallops for 2-3 minutes per side.

Recipe Corner: Skinny Eggplant Parmigiana Sandwiches

Calorie Reality: A Dinner Size Eggplant Parmigiana entree from Olive Garden weighs in at 850 calories. Try this delicious classic Italian Recipe from the the healthy kitchen of registered dietitian, Sari Greaves and slash 550 calories!
Makes 4 sandwiches.

    The skinny per sandwich: 302 calories

You can use leftover baked eggplant from this recipe as a side dish (97 calories for 2 slices). Simply double the ingrdients for the “Baked Eggplant” recipe below, if using the whole eggplant.

Part I: Baked Eggplant

1 eggplant, sliced into 16 rounds—You only need 8 slices for this recipe (1/2 of a 1 lb eggplant)
¼ cup egg beaters
2 teaspoons olive oil
2/3 cup Italian bread crumbs
Nonfat cooking spray
Part II: The Sandwich
4 multigrain Arnold sandwich thins (or “120 calories” of whole grain bread)
4 teaspoons grated parmesan
1 cup pre-washed baby spinach
2 Tablespoons part-skim ricotta cheese
1 cup part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup pasta sauce
1. Rinse & slice eggplant. Place eggplant slices in colander; sprinkle with salt. Place colander over large bowl; let stand at least 30 minutes to draw out the water. Rinse & dry eggplant slices to remove excess salt.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.
3. Beat egg beaters in bowl. Arrange bread crumbs on shallow plate. Dip each eggplant round into egg and then coat with bread crumbs. Arrange breaded eggplant slices on foil sheet.
4. Drizzle oil over eggplant and bake for 30 minutes until crisp and golden brown.
5. Combine spinach and ricotta cheese. Heat for 1-2 minutes on nonstick skillet, until spinach wilts. Set aside.
6. Arrange 2 slices of baked eggplant on each sandwich thin. Top each sandwich with ¼ cup mozzarella cheese, 1 teaspoon parmesan, ¼ of the ricotta-spinach mixture and ¼ cup sauce. Bake sandwiches in oven until cheese melts, about 3 minutes.

Exercise of the Day, by Step Ahead’s certified personal fitness trainer, Noelle Lusardi

This is one of my favorite exercises because it targets so many muscles at one time… core, glutes, hamstrings, quads, lower back, chest and front deltoids. Begin by laying on a stability ball with head, neck and shoulders only… then lift your glutes as high as you can and squeeze them as tightly as you can. Do not release the tension on the glutes until you are completely finished with the exercise. *watch your foot placement… heels should be directly under your knees! Next, grab your dumbbells and incorporate a chest press… lift and lower slowly and in a controlled motion. Do 3 sets of 12 repetitions. Enjoy! Please contact Noelle at if you have questions/concerns regarding today’s “exercise of the day.”


Want flavor without lots of salt and fat?
Try this dish, which combines wine, lemon juice, and mushrooms into
a delicious sauce.
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup flour
1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup Marsala wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 lemon, juice only
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1. Mix together pepper, salt, and flour. Coat chicken with seasoned flour.
2. In heavy-bottomed skillet, heat oil. Place chicken breasts in skillet and brown on both sides, then remove and set aside.
3. To skillet, add wine and stir until heated. Add juice, stock, and mushrooms. Stir, reduce heat, and cook for about 10 minutes, until sauce is partially reduced.
4. Return browned chicken breasts to skillet. Spoon sauce over chicken.
5. Cover and cook for about 5–10 minutes or until chicken is done.
6. Serve sauce over chicken. Garnish with chopped parsley.
Yield: 4 servings
Serving size: 1 chicken
breast with 1/3 cup of sauce
Each serving provides:
Calories: 285
Total fat: 8 g
Saturated fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 85 mg
Sodium: 236 mg
Total fiber: 1 g
Protein: 33 g
Carbohydrates: 11 g

Recipe Corner: Warm Goat Cheese & Israeli Couscous Salad

20 unsalted dry roasted almonds
4-ounce goat cheese log, sliced into 1-inch rounds
½ cup panko Japanese breadcrumbs
1/4 cup egg beaters
6 cups washed spring mix salad greens
1 large tomato, sliced in chunks
1 English cucumber, sliced
½ cup Light Balsamic Vinaigrette (or any dressing = 25 calories per 2 Tablespoons)
2 cups cooked Israeli Couscous*
* found in specialty stores or order online at

1. Prepare couscous according to package directions. Basic Directions: Add 1 1/4 cups of boiling water to 1 cup of
Israeli Couscous. Cover pot and simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Beat egg beaters in small bowl. Dip cheese rounds into beaten egg, then into
breadcrumbs, coating both flat sides completely. Cover and refrigerate until
ready to use. (Can be prepared 4 hours ahead)
3. Combine mixed greens, cucumbers, tomatoes and toasted nuts. Stir in dressing and divide evenly among 4 plates.
4. Heat nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat with nonfat cooking spray. Cook
the goat cheese rounds quickly on both sides until browned on the outside but
not melted inside.
5. Top each salad with 1 warm goat cheese round, 5 walnuts and 1/2 cup couscous. Optional: Crush almonds with back of spoon to evenly disperse throughout salad.
Makes 4 servings The skinny per salad: 295 calories each (Serving size: 1 ½ cups of salad mix with 3/4 cup sliced cucumber, ¼ cup tomatoes, ½ cup couscous, 5 almonds, 1 ounce goat cheese)

    About Israeli Couscous:

Israeli Couscous is a small, round semolina pasta that should not be confused with the tiny, yellow North African couscous; it’s different altogether! Sometimes called pearl couscous or “maftoul,” it resembles barley, or very small, white peas. After being shaped and rolled into small balls, these semolina pearls are toasted in an open-flame oven. This distinguishes the couscous from most pasta, which is dried but not toasted. Toasting lends the couscous a distinctive, nutty flavor and particularly satisfying mouthfeel, and it also seals in the starch and reinforces the exterior, allowing the pearls to absorb liquid without falling apart. This is why Israeli couscous is ideal for saucy preparations – whatever the sauce or reduction, the couscous absorbs the flavor beautifully, and the sauce sticks well to every tiny pearl. It is traditionally served pilaf-style with chicken or lamb. Cook it with a little vegetable stock, and then add some petit black lentils, chopped peppers, olives, onions, tomatoes, herbs, a good squeeze of lemon juice and 1 Tablespoon of olive oil for a superb salad. Source: