Ms. Namita Nayyar:
Do you take some special diet or have a strict menu that you follow to remain healthy and physically fit? Also, tell us about your Top 5 Favorite Recipes.
Ms. Maria Menounos:
My diet always changes. Currently, I’m leaning toward a paleo diet of mostly greens, fish and red meat but I still splurge. As I said in The EveryGirl’s Guide to Diet and Fitness and The EveryGirl’s Guide to Cooking, I hold to an 80-20 plan. 80% of all the foods I intake are healthy with 20% less so. And I try eating things pulled from the ground. I am by no means strict with my diet. I love nachos and potato skins and the rest. I just try to limit portions and to move as much as possible in my day. Whenever I can opt for stairs instead of elevators I do. And when I walk around the office I do it at a brisk pace. It all helps.
Here are some of my favorite recipes are from my cookbook – they’re simple and super yummy (and I even include some food options for dogs)!
Breakfast: Cinnamon Swirl Oatmeal:
*for this recipe, you can use either old-fashioned or quick oats; there is no nutritional difference. However, because quick oats have been pressed to make them thinner (and thus more quickly cooked), they usually cook up into a mushier texture. As for the cream cheese “frosting”? That’s just for fun! This breakfast is delicious with or without it!
½ cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats
¼ cup raisins
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon chopped almonds or walnuts
1 tablespoon whipped cream cheese, at room temperature
2 teaspoons milk (any kind)
- Cook the oats according to the package directions. Transfer to a serving bowl and stir in the raisins. Sprinkle with the cinnamon and the almonds.
- In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese and the milk to reach a glaze consistency. Spoon over the hot oatmeal.
Lunch: Three-Bean Power Salad:
*Bring this colorful salad to your next picnic or potluck – it’s the perfect make-ahead dish and it tastes even better the next day. For heartier appetites, fold in a cup or two of cooked shredded chicken.
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup white wine or apple-cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Italian spice mixture or chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and black pepper
1 can (10 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 can (10 ounces) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (8 ounces) low-sodium green beans, drained and rinsed
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
½ red pepper, cut into small dice
½ cup chopped fresh parsley or dill
- In a large serving bowl, whisk the olive oil, vinegar, spice mixture, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste until blended.
- Fold in the chickpeas, kidney beans, green beans, scallions, celery, red peppers, and parsley.
- Refrigerate for at least 6 hours before serving.
Dinner: Crustless Chicken Pot Pie
1 ¼ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 cup frozen peas
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup nonfat milk
Salt and black pepper
1/3 cup bread crumbs
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Lay the chicken breasts in a medium saucepan; cover with water by at least 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low; cover and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the chicken is just cooked through. (Reserve 1 ½ cups of the poaching liquid; discard the rest.)
- Dice the chicken. In a 2-quart casserole, combine the diced chicken and peas.
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Cook the onion and carrots for 10 minutes, stirring. Sprinkle in the flour and stir until a paste is formed.
- Very slowly pour in the milk and the warm poaching liquid, stirring the whole time, until a thick sauce forms. (This can take as long as 10 minutes)
- Fold the sauce into the chicken mixture in the casserole. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover the pan with foil; bake for 15 minutes.
- Uncover, sprinkle with the bread crumbs, and bake for 15 minutes, or until hot.
Dessert: Best Banana Bread:
*You might think of banana bread as a breakfast treat, but it also hits the spot at the end of the evening meal, so don’t toss those black-peel bananas! Turn them into the moistest banana bread you will ever meet. The riper the bananas, the better the flavor.
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for the pan
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for the pan
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and lightly flour a 9-inch loaf pan.
- In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt until combined.
- In a large bowl (using an electric mixer, if desired), beat the butter and sugar until combined. Beat in the eggs and vanilla, then the mashed bananas, leaving some chunky banana pieces.
- Fold in the flour mixture just until combined. Fold in the walnuts.
- Scoop the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted into the bread comes out with a few moist crumbs.
- Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the bread in the pan; carefully remove from the pan. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
Doggy treat: Canine Mini Patties:
1 pound salmon
2 large organic sweet potatoes
1 large egg
½ cup rolled oats
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Boil the salmon in 2 cups water. When the fillets are cooked through, drain and let them cool. Once they’re cool enough to touch, shred each one with a fork.
- Bake the sweet potatoes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes. Mash the sweet potatoes together with the shredded salmon.
- Beat the egg and add to the sweet potato and salmon mixture. Add the rolled oats to the mixture, and stir well.
- Finally, make 1-inch patties (they can be a little larger, depending on you pup’s size and appetite!) with the salmon mixture and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven (you can break one patty open to make sure it’s cooked all the way through) and let cool before serving to your pup.