Month: March 2022

How to Cut a Mango the Right Way – The First Time!

Mangoes come in all different shapes and colors including yellow, orange, red, and green – but one thing is for certain- they ALL have a large oblong central pit that can be quite an obstacle when trying to cut it.

  • Nutritionally they’re an excellent source of Vitamin A and C.
  • Good source of fiber and B6.
  • They also deliver Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folate, Potassium and Copper (~6-9% DV).
  • Also contain the antioxidant polyphenols and beta-carotene and one unique to mango known as mangaferin (axanthone).

How to choose a mango

Tip #1 – don’t go by the color!  Instead, smell the fruit at the stem end, where it was picked from the tree.  They should also give slightly when pressed firmly with your fingers.  (Careful not to bruise the fruit!).   If it has a faint tropical aroma, it’s ready!  If yours seem firm, let them ripen in your fruit bowl next to the bananas. 

Tip #2 – choose mangoes that are heavy for their size with firm skin, free from bruises. 

Tip #3 – if the fruit has a sour or alcohol smell, pass.  This means it has started to ferment. 

Storing mangoes

If the fruit is unripe/ firm when purchased, ripen at room temperature until the flesh softens a bit.  You don’t want it to be mushy though.  Once it’s ripe, store in the refrigerator to help preserve freshness. 

Tip :  Store mango in a paper bag on the counter to speed up ripening process. 

How to cut a mango in three easy steps

  1. Identify the large oblong pit in it’s center.
  2. With stem side up, cut down one side of the pit(slightly off center) from top to bottom, curving slightly with the shape of the pit. Do the same on the other side.
  3. Take each half of the mango and score the flesh in a grid like pattern (but not through the skin). Turn the mango out so the cube pop out. Cut them away with a paring knife.

Eat right away or store in the fridge for several days.  Cut mango may be frozen for several months. 

Watch for the full walkthrough on how to cut a mango.

How to enjoy mango

  • Eat it as a snack all on it’s own
  • Bake it into a crisp with apricots
  • Blend it into a smoothie with banana, cauliflower, almond milk and vanilla
  • Dice it into a salsa with jalapenos, onion, tomatoes and cilantro
  • Pair mango with apricot, avocado, chicken chiles, cilantro, cucumber, fish, jicama, lime or orange juice, pineapple, starfruit or tangerines. 

Nutrition benefits

  • Mangoes vitamin C content increases collagen formation. 
  • One UC Davis study found that women who ate ½ cup mango four times per week saw a 23% decrease in wrinkles after 2 months!
  • Polyphenols in mangoes have anti-inflammatory benefits that are responsible for lower blood pressure and improved A1C measurements in participants who ate about 400g mango daily for 6 weeks.  Another study found the same amount of mango had improved metabolism. 
  • Children who regularly included mango in their diet had higher intakes of immune supporting vitamins including A, C, B6, fiber and potassium. 
  • Both children and adults eating mangoes have higher intakes of fiber and potassium, than those who don’t eat mango. 
  • Mango consumption may improve glucose control and reduce inflammation when compared to other sweet snacks. 
  • One serving of mango contains 7% of your daily fiber intake. 
  • Mangoes contain over 20 different vitamins and minerals making them a nutrient dense choice! 

Learn how to cut a mango so you can gain all of these nutrition benefits!


A Secret Family Recipe for Creamy Balsamic Salad Dressing

Looking for a quick and versatile salad dressing recipe to add a pop of flavor to your favorite salad?  This recipe is a family favorite, in fact, it was the house salad dressing recipe for my uncle Kaz’s restaurant – The White House in Goshen, NY.  It comes together in just 5 minutes with basic pantry ingredients.  Gluten and nut free! 

Jump to Recipe

Creamy Balsamic Dressing Ingredients

To make this dressing, you need a total of under 10 basic ingredients! 

  • red wine vinegar
  • balsamic vinegar
  • dijon mustard
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • fresh garlic
  • dried oregano
  • olive oil
  • egg yolk

Watch how I make it in this video

Jump to Recipe

Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette Storage & Tips

This dressing is so satisfying because of it’s silky texture and gratifying mouthfeel.

  • Keep dressing refrigerated when not being used. I like to meal prep it on the weekends and use it throughout the week. 
  • Don’t have olive oil? Use any neutral oil that you have on hand instead.
  • Concerned about using a raw egg? Those with a potentially compromised immune system such as children, the elderly, pregnant women and those suffering from cancer, are particularly susceptible to infection and should not consume raw eggs.  Instead, you can substitute a squeeze of store-bought mayonnaise instead!  When using raw eggs, the USDA recommends using pasteurized raw eggs only1.
  • Too much zing? If you taste your dressing after adding 2 cups of oil and feel it’s a bit too strong, you can add an additional ½ cup of oil. 
  • Instead of pouring onto your salad – Drizzle around the bowl and toss salad ingredients until coated. This will avoid overdressing and encourage consumption!  There’s nothing worse than a glob of dressing followed by dry greens. 

How to Use

  • Combine romaine, tomato, red onion, radishes and carrots
  • Try it on your favorite pasta salad
  • Pour it over chicken pieces and let marinate over night before grilling
  • Use as a dip for crusty whole grain bread
  • Drizzle over your preferred grain bowl combination

Benefits of homemade salad dressing

  • You get to control the ingredients and limit added sugars, salt and saturated fats
  • Those who eat salad dressings were found to have considerably higher levels of key nutrients including vitamin C, E, and folic acid2
  • Salad dressing improves the absorption of fat soluble nutrients
  • Dressings with monounsaturated fats such as olive oil are a good option for those looking for a lower fat salad dressing option that is effective in absorbing nutrients such as carotenoids3. Polyunsaturated and saturated fats were effective, but absorption increased as quantities of dressing increased!
  • Family favorites like my Creamy Balsamic Salad Dressing make salads crave-able and something we look forward to!

Common nutrients to gain from your salad!

  • Beta Carotene – a form of pre-vitamin A that is converted into vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is needed to help maintain a healthy immune system and eyesight
  • Lutein – form of pre-vitamin A that also prevents damage to the eye from UV light
  • Lycopene – high intakes of which are linked to a reduction in prostate cancer risk in men
  • Vitamin E – antioxidant vitamin which also protects the body from the damage caused by free radicals
  • Vitamin K – essential for normal blood clotting
  • Vitamin A – important for healthy vision and maintaining healthy immune function


creamy balsamic

Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette

This recipe brings me back to the days of working at my Uncle Kaz's restaurant. It was a signature recipe for the restaurant and I loved it. Flavorful and satisfying, I could eat it with a spoon.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Servings 15
Calories 180 kcal


  • 1 immersion blender or whisk!


  • 2/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1.5 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 6 cloves garlic or 1 Tbsp chopped
  • 1 tbsp oregano dried
  • 2 cups olive oil extra virgin
  • 1 whole egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup olive oil optional


  • Combine vinegars, dijon, salt, pepper, garlic, oregano.
  • Blend egg yolk and 1/2 cup olive oil.
  • With immersion blender, combine egg mixture with vinegar mixture.
  • Blend in remaining olive oil until desired flavor reached.


1 serving is 2T.  


Calories: 180kcal
Keyword dressing, sauce
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Nutrition facts for 30g Creamy Balsamic Salad Dressing

Salad dressings by nature are categorized as a fat. In this recipe you can see most of the fat is unsaturated, in fact it’s monounsaturated because the source is olive oil. This is a heart healthy fat and even has a heart health claim from the FDA.

From Instagram

Three Cheese Baked Ziti with Meat and Hidden Mushrooms

Baked ziti.  It is such a classic and easy crowd pleasing dish (plus kids love it!) so it’s hard to make major changes.  Today I’m making it a bit healthier by using 90% lean ground beef, lower fat cheeses and adding a vegetable that won’t feel out of place! Combining meat and mushrooms in this way is called “the blend” and truly, my kids and husband are none the wiser.

While this version doesn’t look wildly revised, making small changes can add up to big nutrition results.  With this recipe I focused on reducing fat and adding vegetables for added nutrition.

Sauce ingredients

The dietitian angle

Let’s talk about fat first.

The small modification of 90% lean beef instead of 85% lean can go a long way.  Lets compare different types of ground beef per 3oz serving:

  • 80/20 beef has 280 calories, 22g fat – 9 saturated
  • 85/15 beef has 240 calories, 17g fat – 7 saturated
  • 90/10 lean beef has 200 calories 11g fat – 4.5 saturated. (actually has less calories and total fat than regular ground turkey!)

Using 90/10 beef saves us 80 calories, 11g fat and 5g saturated per serving! Saturated fats is one of those nutrients that you want to limit/avoid if possible.  So I love this swap. Your supermarket may carry 93% and 97% lean ground beef so those are options to look for as well.

Beef is an excellent source of high quality protein.  This means it has all of the essential amino acids that your body needs to build and repair muscle.  It’s also an excellent source of b12 which is important for energy and zinc which helps maintain immunity.  It’s also an excellent source of selenium which helps protect cells from damage.  It’s also a a good source of iron and choline which help the body use oxygen and support the nervous system.2

Important culinary note about cheese

For this recipe I went with part skim mozzarella and part skim ricotta instead of their full fat counterparts. Which shaves off additional calories and fat without eliminating ALL fat. From the flavor perspective, I would not recommend this recipe with fat free cheeses unless you have a specific dietary condition that would benefit from that.

Per 1oz serving

Regular Mozzarella – 80 cal, 6g fat, 6g pro

Part skim – 70 cal, 5g fat, 6g pro

Going with part skim ricotta also saves 20 calories, 3g fat per serving.

Nutrition by Addition – with the blend!

Ground meat with hidden mushrooms is the key to adding nutrition to this dish! Adding mushrooms adds volume to the meat sauce, provides texture and a lot of flavor with very few calories akd “The blend”.

Mushrooms are also a leading source of selenium which is an antioxidant that helps protect the body from diseases and fortifies the immune system. 1  It basically helps activate the body’s own antioxidant enzymes.

If you wanted to even take it up another notch, you could easily substitute a whole grain pasta noodle instead of regular wheat.  My family likes the regular version, so that’s what I used here.  I hope you try my version of this classic and easy crowd pleasing dish!!

  1. Duyff, R. American Dietetic Association’s Complete Food and Nutrition Guide. Third Addition. Wiley & Sons. NJ. 2006.


Original Ziti NFP
Original Baked Ziti Nutrition with full fat meat and dairy
Nutrition Facts Panel for Baked Ziti
Complete Nutrition Facts for my 3 Cheese Baked Ziti

So here you’ll see the before and after. With the changes made in my recipe, you will get maximum flavor while slashing fat calories. It’s a big difference without sacrificing taste.


Three Cheese Baked Ziti

Crowd pleasing pasta that's full of flavor and less fat than your standard version!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 16 people
Calories 360 kcal


  • Standard Oven


  • 1 pound ziti


  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 16 ounces mushrooms chopped
  • 1 pound lean ground beef 90/10
  • 25 ounces marinara sauce
  • 28 ounces chopped tomatoes with juice
  • 2 tbsp italian seasoning
  • salt
  • pepper

For the Cheese Mixture

  • 1 pound low fat mozzarella cheese
  • 15 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp parsley fresh
  • 2 whole eggs


  • Preheat oven to 375F. 
  • In large pot cook ziti to package instructionsfor al dente.  Drain and set aside.
  • In large pot, heat olive oil, and garlic for30 seconds, until fragrant.  Addmushrooms and brown until water is released and have decreased in volume byabout half.  Do not salt them! 
  • Then add ground beef, about ½ tsp salt.  Cook until browned.
  • Add marinara and chopped tomatoes (and their juices) to the meat mixture.  Add seasonings, salt and pepper to taste and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • In separate bowl combine ½ mozzarella cheese, all of the ricotta, parmesan, salt and pepper to taste and eggs. 
  • Then add cooled pasta to cheese mixture and coat well.  Next combine noodles with 3-4 cups meat sauce. 
  • Finally, layer your baking dish with ½ noodle mixture, ½ the sauce and half of remaining mozzarella.  Repeat one more time. 
  • Bake covered for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until heated through. Remove foil during the last 15 minutes to brown top.



Calories: 360kcal
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Cheese and pasta image