Season 1 - Episode 6
October 16, 2018
Nicole: 00:00 Welcome to BFF with the Chef. I'm your host, Nicole Schwegman. Aloha, fellow friends and foodies and welcome back.
Today, I'm getting the chance to interview Colleen Kokx, a registered dietitian behind the blog, Mitten Dietitian. Colleen's blog is dedicated to providing her readers with the tools, tips, and recipes they need to live healthy lives. Colleen truly believes that diets don't work and wants her readers to stop worrying about food, and instead, embrace a no rules approach to eating that allows them to focus on their health and wellness. Colleen's a fan of intuitive eating and demonstrates how to live a culinary life that contains both carrots and cookies along the way.
Hey, Colleen, welcome to the show.
Colleen: 00:53 Hi. Thanks so much for having me.
Nicole: 00:55 Oh, thank you so much for coming on and I'm excited to talk to you today. There are some recipes that I've looked at on your blog and we're going to get to those, but first, we're going to start out with my three questions. So, you ready?
Colleen: 01:07 Yeah, I'm ready for it.
Nicole: 01:07 Alright. So, tell me about the last meal that you cooked for yourself.
Colleen: 01:12 The last meal that I cooked was brunch. Today's Sunday, so we have brunch every Sunday, and I made some blueberry pancakes and used Kodiak Cake protein pancake mix, which I had honestly never used before, but it turned out really good. They don't taste too grainy, and we went blueberry picking yesterday. We picked 13 pounds and so I put those in a sauce pan and made a little bit of a blueberry sauce and then put a little whipped cream on top and boom, that's what had.
Nicole: 01:50 Okay. We normally have those three questions, we're going to stop here for a moment because I love pancakes. They are one of my favorite foods, and my colleague was telling me about Kodiak Cake mix. Okay, so first of all, you said it wasn't too grainy. I haven't had this yet, I haven't had time to go to the store, I think they sell it at Costco, I haven't had time to get ...
Colleen: 01:50 Yeah, that's where I got it.
Nicole: 02:12 Okay, alright. Fantastic. I'm excited now. I got to go get this. I'll tell you, I love pancakes and, if you listen to me or you read my blog, you'll know that I am like butter is a food group for me.
Colleen: 02:12 That's all right.
Nicole: 02:28 But I will tell you that the last couple of times I made pancakes, I'm getting older, I can tell this because I used to be able to eat pancakes, Colleen, and then keep moving and the last couple of times I've made pancakes, I was telling my colleague this, I had to take a nap. It was not negotiation.
Colleen: 02:48 Yeah, it's like a food coma.
Nicole: 02:50 It really is and I thought to myself, maybe it's all the white flour.
Colleen: 02:58 Yeah, so ones ... we usually just use cheap old pancake mix but I was like, I really want to try these just ... then I'll feel a little bit better about eating this giant stake of pancakes on Sunday morning. And I mean I could definitely taste a difference between them. These ones are a lot more hardy but I also noticed that I was full a lot longer and I didn't have that food coma.
Nicole: 03:23 Yeah that's why I'm really excited to try them because I really love pancakes and I'm okay with it being a little hardier. I actually like a little bit of a hardier pancake and I've been meaning to try ... there's these wholegrain pancakes in Bon Appetite that they just, I guess they made it like the new staple which is wholegrain pancakes and they're just like, just throw any type of grain into them. And I was worried that they were going to be too grainy and I think this might be the middle ground where I don't want it to be ... I mean look I love a good regular pancake or [inaudible 00:03:57]. Pancakes are a thing here in Hawaii for sure.
Colleen: 04:01 I need to go there.
Nicole: 04:02 People love pancakes here but ... and waffles, cake in general. But ...
Colleen: 04:11 Sounds like we're [crosstalk 00:04:11].
Nicole: 04:10 I know right but I also want to go to the beach after the fact and go surfing.
Colleen: 04:15 Right.
Nicole: 04:15 Or go swimming and that's not happening after I normally make pancakes, literally I woke up like, oh my gosh it's 2 o'clock in the afternoon.
Colleen: 04:27 I know, I know.
Nicole: 04:27 Yeah so the fact that you've tried it and you like it and I know what you're saying, it's hardy, but it's not super over grainy. I don't want ...
Colleen: 04:35 It's not like you're eating a slice of whole wheat bread.
Nicole: 04:38 Exactly, I don't pancakes to taste like they should be good for me. I still love them to be ...
Colleen: 04:38 Right exactly.
Nicole: 04:44 So okay exciting and so 13 pounds of blueberries.
Colleen: 04:49 Yes.
Nicole: 04:49 You just decide we're just going to go for it.
Colleen: 04:52 Well we had these big buckets and we filled them both and I literally I would have picked more but we actually could not fit anymore in them. In Michigan, the blueberries are so large, it took us maybe half an hour, 45 minutes to pick 13 pounds.
Nicole: 05:09 Are you serious? That's it.
Colleen: 05:12 Yeah, yeah.
Nicole: 05:12 Wow.
Colleen: 05:14 It's a lake shore.
Nicole: 05:15 How did I not know about this? I have a best friend from Michigan and she didn't tell me anything.
Colleen: 05:19 I know, you've got to make a trip.
Nicole: 05:20 That is like I've been missing out on this my whole life. Oh my goodness and my mother-in-law has ... she has a small blueberry farm herself.
Colleen: 05:33 That's awesome.
Nicole: 05:35 What's so awful is that I'm never around in the summer to ... one time she sent us, with my sister-in-law, she sent two huge frozen bags of blueberries.
Colleen: 05:46 Oh yum.
Nicole: 05:46 Oh my gosh, it was like hitting the jackpot and I thought to myself ...
Colleen: 05:50 Yes.
Nicole: 05:51 We got to do whatever we got to do to keep that farm in the family. But the idea of in a half an hour you picked 13 pounds of blueberries, what are you going to do with all of them?
Colleen: 06:04 I don't know yet. I want to ... I'm going to definitely freeze a lot, smoothies year round for sure. I'm going to make some jam and pancakes like blueberry breads, everything.
Nicole: 06:17 Easily.
Colleen: 06:19 And probably eat half of them just out of the bag.
Nicole: 06:22 I imagine they just taste delicious right now, this is the heart of the summer so by the time people listen to it, it won't be the heart of summer and they'll be angry that they're listening to the blueberries. They're going to want blueberries and they're going to be sad that blueberries aren't available because it's no longer summer.
Colleen: 06:39 I mean, they're $8 for a tiny little box.
Nicole: 06:42 Yeah exactly, I mean it's one of the reasons I love summer so much is just the amount of fruit that's available, just amazing. Oh mu goodness, okay. I know we're completely off track but that, I could not not talk about that. All right, what is a meal that brings you back to your childhood?
Colleen: 07:06 I definitely have to say, chicken a la King so I mean you're talking like a super creamy veggie rich meal served over carbs of some sort, biscuit noodles, I feel like everyone kind of makes it a little differently.
Nicole: 07:22 I know exactly what you're talking about too, yes agree.
Colleen: 07:22 But ... yeah, yeah so good but for me, my mom growing up always made it in a muffin tin and she takes slices of wheat bread and kind of stuff it in the muffin tin and then take the creamy deliciousness and stuff that all inside and then bake it. So I mean A what kind of kid doesn't love to eat food out of a muffin tin? And secondly, it just tasted so delicious and comforting that anytime I have it, it just makes me go back to my childhood and make me think of home.
Nicole: 07:54 Me and my grandma used to make that or she'd buy the chicken a la King in the little packet, then she'd [inaudible 00:08:01], she didn't understand the concept of a microwave.
Colleen: 08:04 Oh yes.
Nicole: 08:05 I mean she was born in 1910, so a microwave was like ... she just couldn't get the idea of a microwave and I remember her when I would come home from school, she would warm it up, the bag, in a pot of hot water. And then when she would do that, she would cut it open and pour it out over toast, like that.
Colleen: 08:28 Yeah, yes.
Nicole: 08:29 Yeah that's how we would eat it.
Colleen: 08:31 So good.
Nicole: 08:31 Gosh I haven't heard someone say chicken a la King in so long, actually I was watching ...
Colleen: 08:37 I know, right.
Nicole: 08:38 Do you know, actually I was watching Barry on HBO and there's a scene where Henry Winkler is talking to the female cop and he's like, you should have this chicken a la King, it's the best and I was thinking to myself ... In my mind I'm like ahhh. Anytime I hear a food reference on a TV show that I'm watching, that brings me back to my childhood, I'm like chicken a la King, I haven't heard that in forever, I always thought you eat it from little packets.
Colleen: 09:04 I know, it's so comforting and you just can't go wrong with that.
Nicole: 09:08 It is and creamy and delicious and simple, yeah that's why its great. I love that. All right and let's talk about an ingredient that you can't live without.
Colleen: 09:20 If I had to pick one, I would say garlic for sure. I am a garlic lover, 100%. I usually pretty much always double at least the garlic that goes into each recipe I make or I will just add it to a recipe that doesn't call for it.
Nicole: 09:39 All right so Mitten Dietitian, first of all Mitten, I want to hear where does Mitten come from? And then I want to talk about what was your inspiration behind starting this blog.
Colleen: 09:54 Yeah so, Mitten comes from the Michigan Mittens. So I have been born and raised in Michigan and if you look at the state, it looks like a mitten and whenever Michiganders talk about where they live, they hold up their hand like a mitten and show where throughout the mitten that they live. So when I was thinking about the title of my blog, I was like, well I mean I live in Michigan, I'm a dietitian, there you go.
Nicole: 10:20 Oh my goodness, yes my best friend lives ... she's from Michigan and that's right she would show me where on the hand she's from so on the mitten, that's exactly ... what a neat little ... I love that, I really ... what a neat concept and what made you decide to start this blog?
Colleen: 10:40 So I actually started blogging about five years ago when I was in college and I kind of just did that on a whim because some dietitian had told me that other dietitians were doing this and it was kind of a fun little creative outlet and so that's kind of what I started it as. I've actually gone through a couple different blogs, a couple different titles but I've been doing it since I was in college. And so it's always just kind of been this little side hobby, really my creative outlet and I would say within the past year I've kind of really taken on the Mitten Dietitian as more of a brand itself because a lot of people had been asking me about this thing that I've been doing on the side. And I didn't think anyone was reading my recipes, it was more of just a ... kind of a recipe box just for myself to keep track of what I've been making and all those little tweaks in the recipes that I make. But I would say Mitten Dietitian has been about the past year it's kind of really come to fruition and turned into what it is today.
Nicole: 11:51 Yeah I mean it looks very professional. I find a lot of bloggers that I interview, they say, I didn't think anyone was reading this thing.
Colleen: 11:59 Yeah.
Nicole: 11:59 And then they start looking at their stats and people are paying attention and I think consistency really is kind of the key to gaining readers, not that you did it for that but I think what happens is people have this interest in food, they want to have a place on the internet where they can store recipes and can share them with their friends and family and then next thing you know, you have these like minded other readers, the other bloggers, other readers, other foodies who are digging what you're doing and they're like yeah, I want to keep following this person and see what other delicious things they can teach me about. So I mean I think it's fantastic. So I want to go into a little bit, you talked about how this was a place for where you put your recipes, all right so I'm looking on your blog and you have this lower calorie pesto and I want to kind of dive into a little bit about your
PART 1 OF 3 ENDS [00:13:04]
Nicole: 13:00 I want to dive into a little bit about, you're a dietitian who doesn't believe in diets. I definitely want to get in to that. First, I want to talk about this pesto, because it's delicious, and I want to know what's in the pesto? How did you get this lower calorie? I eat a lot of pesto.
Colleen: 13:22 Basically for all my recipes, I just start with the basic full-fat, full-calorie recipe that you'd think of. Then I think, "How can I make this a little bit better for you?" Then, really weed out, like "Okay, what needs to stay in the recipe, and what can be tweaked?" Obviously for the pesto, I kept all the basil, the pine nuts, Parmesan cheese and olive oil.
Then, the simple thing I did, is I just cut the olive oil in half and added water. You're really just decreasing the calories that way, and the consistency doesn't change at all. You still get all of the flavor. That's what I'm really looking at in recipes, is, "Where can I make these small switches that you're not going to notice?" I'm not about sacrificing flavor.
Nicole: 14:08 That's kind of genius. I don't know why I never thought, "You know, you could just replace olive oil with water, and it would taste just as good." I mean, they [crosstalk 00:14:18] those fat-free sprays, which, to my heart's sadness, I realized, I don't know what I was thinking. Do you know what I'm talking about? You'll see a grape seed oil spray, and it will say "low calories".
There was a time when like, "That's impossible. What is that? Magic? Is it unicorn blood that's inside of it? No way it's possible." It turns out it's just aerated water with-
Colleen: 14:46 Yeah. It just makes it less dense than pouring it from a jar.
Nicole: 14:50 Yeah. If you can aerate it and you have bits of the oil within the water, it's still nonstick, it still works. I think if it's less than six calories per spritz, it's actually near zero calorie. Now I'm just blowing somebody's mind, right now. That's right, it's not zero calories, it's six calories a spritz. You're spritzing 35 spritzes. Times that by six and that's what you're getting. When I first found that out, I'm like, "Ahh, government."
Colleen: 15:31 I know, right.
Nicole: 15:33 Otherwise, I'm like, "How was that possible? What is in this? Magic?"
Colleen: 15:38 Flavored air.
Nicole: 15:39 I know. I mean, it makes sense, so what a great way to keep something super delicious, but still reduce some of those calories. There are folks out there who truly worry about that. I truly believe you get the right to feed your body the way you want, and I don't shame anybody. I'm big on that. Feed your body the way you want, but for those folks who are concerned about calories and who are trying to watch their weight, being able to make these small reductions here and there, I bet you they really add up.
Colleen: 16:18 Yeah, they definitely do.
Nicole: 16:21 I see that, one of the things you say is that you are okay with both carrots and cookies. I'm looking at this potluck corn salad. Can you make me that, because that looks really decadent.
Colleen: 16:37 Yes. That's actually one of my favorite recipes, that I have on there. Again, I just took the regular, I think it was Paula Deane's recipe, and looked at it. I'm like, "Okay, where can I adjust?" Decrease the mayo, always double the veggies. That's a super simple trick for any sort of salad, or really any casserole or dish. Double the veggies. It's super simple. You're going to decrease the calorie per serving, because you're bulking it up with the veggies. That's a super simple trick, so I did that. I mean, that recipe went over like a hit. I brought it to our block party, and the entire thing was gone.
Nicole: 17:16 I like that. I want to dig in to that a little bit more. I like how you said, you can eat the same things that you like, but just take these small tips, like increasing the veggies. I never thought about doing that. I am a big fan of veggies. I actually really enjoy vegetables. I don't know. I just happened to be in a family that enjoyed vegetables a lot. My mom always had a vegetable with dinner. There was always some type of veggie in there.
I will say, I am still not a big fan of peas. I'll tell you this story about my mom. She used to make this stew, and she still makes it. It's one of my favorite things that reminds me of home, but she would put mixed vegetables in the stew. In the mixed vegetables were peas. She would pick out the peas, because as a kid, I would not eat ... If there was one pea, I would not eat that entire ... I saw her years later. I came home from college, and she's making this stew for me.
She's picking out the peas. I'm like, "What are you doing?" She's like, "I'm picking out the peas, you don't like the peas." I'm like, "Oh, my God. I am 25 years old, you don't have to do that anymore."
Colleen: 18:28 What a good mom.
Nicole: 18:30 She's the best, I love her so much. I love the idea of you, just going back to how you can still eat a lot of your favorite foods, but just making those simple switches. What would you say, because you're a dietitian, what would you say is the thing that you recommend to people when they're trying to change the way they eat? It's really hard, I think, to change the way you eat.
Colleen: 18:57 Right, what I always recommend is, think about what you like most. I mean, if you really like the sweet things in life, then you can still eat those, but maybe drink less alcohol. That's a super simple calorie swap there. Or, there's other people who vice versa, maybe they would rather go out for cocktails than ice cream. You do that, instead of doing both. It's really individualized to everyone. It's honestly, what do you enjoy the most? You want to make your food the most enjoyable. You want to get the most out of it.
Nicole: 19:40 Okay. I dig it. Tell me, once we talk about food in your recipes, what are some of the meals that you cook over and over?
Colleen: 19:50 I cook a lot of stir fry's. Those are super simple, especially during the week. You get home from work, cooking dinner is the last thing you want to spend and hour doing. I cook a lot of stir fry's, and just changing up the flavor of the sauces or changing up the veggies you put in it, changing up the meat. You could do chicken, turkey, beef, shrimp. It can be a totally different meal, but really the same steps.
Nicole: 20:18 What are some of the stir fry's? Let's get specific. When you talk about sauces, because sauces can add a lot of calories to things, what are some of your go to sauces when you do a stir fry?
Colleen: 20:29 Definitely, my go to sauce is some soy sauce, garlic, all the way, some red pepper flakes, and then, again, some water just to add that bulk, so you don't need to add any more oil to that. That's it. That's super simple. That's definitely my go to.
Nicole: 20:46 You're starting out, when you're doing a stir fry. I want to do this, because there's probably some people, like you can do a stir fry. You can add a glug of oil to the pan, you can add some veggies, you can add some meat, but I want to go, for those people who are like, "Okay, but how is Colleen doing a stir fry?" Walk us through. Are you spraying the pan with that, what I call unicorn's blood, non calorie spray? What are you specifically doing to make that as healthy as possible, but also as delicious as possible?
Colleen: 21:21 Right. I always have, in one small pot, you know, it's me and my fiance, so we have two servings of either rice or quinoa, or some sort of grain, that we're going to use as our base. Then, what I do is I make my soy sauce and garlic water, and red pepper flake, a little mix. Usually it's chicken, I would say is what I use most. I'll chop that up in to little bite sized pieces, and put about half of the soy sauce mixture on top of that, get it all nice and marinated in that. Then, I do use some nonstick spray, on a big wok style pan, then throw in the chicken, and really just brown that up.
When that's just about cooked, then add in some veggies. Honestly, most of the time, I just use frozen veggies. Especially in the winter, super simple when it's not summer, and you don't have all these fresh veggies going on. Then, add the last half of the soy sauce mixture, and let it cook for just a couple of minutes, until the veggies are all soft. Then, put them on top of your rice, and you're ready to go.
Nicole: 22:31 Yeah. Is this something that you recommend to your clients to do? I know that, for one, when people think about food bloggers they think you're making corn salad every day, and that's not true. Everybody is busy, everyone is tired, and usually food bloggers are doing this as a labor of love. It's awesome to always hear about what people are making on the reg, but when you're recommending to your clients, is this something that they make a lot? Or, is this something that you recommend for them to try?
Colleen: 23:05 Yeah. It's not usually something that people, when they come to me, that they're making, but it's something that becomes something that they're making. Stir fry, it sounds like a lot of work, because there's a lot of different veggies that you can put in it, a lot of different sauces. It kind of sounds like this big, huge process, but when we really break it down, A, it's super easy, and B, it's a super great way to get in more vegetables. Yet, you're coating them in all this flavor, so it's not like you're eating a raw carrot, which no one wants to do that every night of the week.
Nicole: 23:37 No. I mean, I like carrots, I love carrot cake, I also love steamed carrots, and I love carrots that are roasted, but you're right. Raw carrots on their own every night, that's ... And, carrot juice, maybe, that's the closest it's going to be every night. Maybe a carrot juice. Even then, I don't think you should do that every single night. Maybe you would turn orange, I'm not sure.
Colleen: 24:02 I was going to say, that actually happened to me once.
Nicole: 24:03 Are you kidding? Please tell us this story.
Colleen: 24:05 No. I was in college, and I think I was just so busy, and I was eating the same thing every day. I was living in the dorms at that point. They always had fresh cut up veggies, and that was great. I remember, I came home, I think it was on winter break. My mom was like, "You kind of look orange," but I was just in the crazy busy college ways, and I just didn't realize it. I looked in the mirror, and I was like, "Yeah, I am kind of orange."That's because I was just eating the same thing every day.
Nicole: 24:41 My mom used to tell me that if you ate carrots you would have really great eyesight, so my thought when you were saying that is like, "Man, she should have been able to see in the dark."
Colleen: 24:52 No. I'm blind as a bat.
Nicole: 24:54 That myth destroyed.
Colleen: 24:58 There's the orange one, that's a different story.
Nicole: 25:02 Turns you orange, yes, great eyesight, no. I bet some of these are on your blog as well, as I look through, but what are some of these other recipes that you have on your blog, that you recommend to your clients. I think you probably get folks, who are trying to change your eating habits, and it's kind of like when you start on day one of a diet. You don't believe in diets, which I love. But, you start out day one like, "I'm going to change the way I eat."
You've got all the veggies, you do it. By day 15 you're like, "I'm going to get Mc Donald's." What are those things that you think on your blog, that people can come back to over and over again, that's easy, that's simple, and that allows them to move towards that healthier living?
Colleen: 25:54 Yeah. There's a couple of them. One that I always recommend is my "one bowl, healthier banana bread".
PART 2 OF 3 ENDS [00:26:04]
Colleen: 26:00 A healthier banana bread. A, because it's delicious, and just because it doesn't feel like it's healthier. That's kind of a good first one for people to try, because you can really see like, "Okay, this still just tastes like your regular banana bread, but it's a lot better for you." That's a good, I guess, taste test of my recipes, that I recommend.
Nicole: 26:26 Okay. I'm gonna stop you because I know I asked you to give a couple of different recipes, but banana bread is one of ... I love bananas. Walk us through this banana bread. What is it about this banana bread that you think it's healthier, it's a little bit better for you, but still really delicious?
Colleen: 26:47 For this recipe, it's actually my great-aunt's recipe, and I had made it growing up a million times. I mean, I have her recipe memorized in my head. I was always really interested in trying to make it a little bit healthier, because I knew it was such a great recipe, but maybe not the best for you.
This past summer I actually started really playing around with it. What I ended up doing, I tried so many different recipes for this one, to get it right. I think I took four or five, but I wanted to get it right and do her justice. I swapped in a little oat flour, add a little bit of extra fiber in there, swapped out the butter for apple sauce, and those two were probably the really big ones, and I cut the sugar because the bananas are so sweet, itself. You really didn't need the extra sugar in there, and those three things are really, I mean, all I did to it and it still tastes great, but it's just healthier for you.
Nicole: 27:50 Wow. Okay. I'm going to try that because I probably make banana bread once a week.
Colleen: 27:57 It's so good. Please tell me I'm not the only one who buys extra bananas knowing that they're going to get brown, so I have to make banana.
Nicole: 28:03 We are on point, together.
Colleen: 28:05 Good.
Nicole: 28:06 Absolutely. I will eat a banana. Actually, I love having banana and coffee. If I have a little bit of coffee, I'm slowly discovering that milk doesn't like me anymore, and I tell people who like, "If you're lactose intolerant and you're still not drinking milk, you're a quitter," but I'm getting, "Don't drink milk folks, if it's not good for you." But I really loved ... It's hard to replicate the creaminess of milk, although there have been some products, from Khalifa Farms, that I'm really impressed with. They're very close.
I love a banana and a coffee for breakfast, but I never get through all my bananas. I mean, I will freak. I mean, I've got tons of bananas frozen in the freezer, literally for the purposes of banana bread, maybe a banana muffin, but I don't know. I'm a purist. There's something banana bread. It makes a house a home.
Colleen: 29:08 I know. It does. It's like an air freshener.
Nicole: 29:10 Funky house? Make a banana bread. Also, if you're trying to impress someone. When I was first dating my husband, I would make banana bread because ...
Colleen: 29:20 I did the same thing.
Nicole: 29:24 He told me that he loved home cooked meals and I was like, "I've got to lock this down." Constantly he's like, "Do you love banana bread?" I mean, I did, but I was also just trying to win him over. "No other woman will make this much banana bread for you."
Colleen: 29:44 There you go.
Nicole: 29:46 All right. What are some of the other recipes on your blog, that you would recommend to someone who's wanting to move towards healthier living?
Colleen: 29:55 I have a granola recipe on there right now. It's flax and chia seed granola. It's super delicious and it's a lot lower in calories than the store bought versions. Why I recommend it, is because it's so versatile. You can put it on top of yogurt, you can put it in smoothie bowls, you can just eat it with a little bit of milk. It makes a big batch, so it'll last a long time, so you don't have to keep making it over, and over. It's so versatile, that you could use it on so many different.
Nicole: 30:30 It sounds delicious. I'm a big granola fan. Basically has carbs in it, I love it. I'm a carb princess. I love that you're not telling people, "No carbs," but if that's something you want to eat and consume, that you have these really great recipes that can allow people to eat the things that they love, but not have to have any unnecessary calories that aren't needed.
Colleen: 31:01 Right. Exactly.
Nicole: 31:02 What else? You mentioned a few more. Sorry. I keep interrupting you, because all the things you keep saying, sound delicious.
Colleen: 31:11 I have a butternut squash mac and cheese on there that is phenomenal, and I make that at least once or twice a week in the colder months, because there is nothing coming in from a walk with the dog outside in the snow, and having a nice warm, big creamy bowl of mac and cheese. It's a lot lighter for you, and you don't feel as weighed down is if you have all the cheeses that are melty and gooey. and goodness, but you still have that flavor, that same effect. It's so good.
Nicole: 31:50 I like the way that it's still delicious. It's still going to taste really good, but it's not going to be so heavy for you. I would say that, so far, I'm having such fun talking to you, because I liked the way you think. You're like, "I don't want to sacrifice any flavor, but I definitely want to make these meals that you still know and can appreciate, and remember from ... " In other words, you don't feel like you're giving up something-
Colleen: 32:21 Right, right. Life's too short for boring food.
Nicole: 32:23 I love that you're able to say, "Hey, you can have the mac and cheese. Just have the mac and cheese and, and let's make it a little bit lighter, so that you can go do the things you love." You said that, if you had to ... You have a bunch of great recipes and I can't wait to try them all, but if there was one recipe above them all, that you would recommend to everyone besides your amazing banana bread. I'm just going to go ahead and put it out there. Folks, try the banana bread, change your life. Maybe get you a significant other. Just saying. What is that one recipe? The king of them all on your blog?
Colleen: 33:06 That's a tough one.
Nicole: 33:09 Or, the queen of them all, I guess I should say,
Colleen: 33:20 I would think, I would have to go with the butternut sauce mac and cheese. In all honesty, that is the best one, because, A, it's delicious. The true test for me is if a recipe's good, is I test it out on my dad. That one I remember, I made it for him. They came over and I didn't tell him it was butternut squash. I just said, "Hey, we're having mac and cheese." He gobbled it down, asked for seconds, and thought it was delicious. For me, that is the true test and that one passed with flying colors, so I have to go with that one.
Nicole: 33:59 For example, if you're going to give somebody, a home cook, one tip that they could use in order to make better meals today, and given the fact that you're a dietitian. I love the fact that even though we've been talking about that, honestly, all the things you've recommended, they're not any different than from anyone else. I love that. But, what's one tip that you can give a home cook today, to be a better cook in their kitchen?
Colleen: 34:33 I would definitely say, don't be afraid to go rogue with a recipe. You know what ingredients you like, you know what you have on hand. It's totally okay to go off what the recipe is telling you. Put in vegetables that you like, put in different spices or seasonings that you like, versus what they're saying or suggesting. Not only is it going to fit your personal taste preferences better, it's also probably going to save you a lot of money, which is what I hear the most from clients saying, "I'd love to cook more at home, but it's so expensive." The reason that it's so expensive is because of these obscure ingredients that you're buying, that you'll use for recipe, but you're never going to touch again.
Substitute in things that you know you like. You're going to make it taste better to you, and your taste preferences, and you're going to save some cash in the process.
Nicole: 35:30 That's a great tip. I love that tip. Colleen, where can people find you?
Colleen: 35:38 You can find me over at [inaudible 00:35:40] dietitian.com. I'm also on Instagram and Facebook, Asthma and Dietitian.
Nicole: 35:45 Thank you so much. Get over to Colleen's blog. You're going to eat better. It's going to be better for you and you're going to like all the things that are on your plate. Thanks again for joining us, Colleen.
Colleen: 35:56 Thank you so much.
Nicole: 36:01 All right, I just talked with Colleen Kokx, who was so fun to talk with. I really love her approach to eating, and you should really check out her blog and Instagram. It will make you so hungry to follow it. Colleen and I talked about several recipes, including her butternut squash mac and cheese. That sounds so yummy and comforting right now, doesn't it? For most of you, you're probably in the thick of fall weather, the nights are getting cooler, your days are getting crisper. You're wearing cool, funky boots, and mac and cheese should definitely fit right in there, when you come home, and you want to make something comforting and warm.
It doesn't really get cold here in Hawaii, but we do get a fall type season. It's like at the beginning of November, you start to feel a little more like it's fall. I can't wait because I can't wait to meet this mac and cheese. I wanted to let you all know about the Facebook group. It's called BFF With The Chef Friends, and you should definitely consider joining. You're probably going to see some of the interviewees that I've talked with in the past, be in there. I'll be sharing some extra tips that I learned from them.
I'll also be sharing some cool recipes that they've had and that I have made myself. There'll be some other cool, interesting things going on in there, and you're just going to have to join to find out what those things are. I hope you consider joining. I would love to chat with you when you do join that group, because that's where you can ask me any questions that you have about the podcast.
Speaking of the podcast. If you like it, please consider giving us a five star review. Those reviews really help the podcast be found by other like minded foodies just like you, and it really helps out the show. Until next week, this is BFF With The Chef, wishing you a great week, and hoping that you've been inspired to go out and make something delicious. Goodbye.