Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Banana Walnut Muffins

Yum, healthy banana muffins with walnuts.  Did you know walnuts are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids (those great brain builders) and improves your cholesterol?  And bananas pack on the potassium.  Enjoy these yummy muffins for breakfast, or any time of day.

1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Whole-Wheat Flour
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
3 Large Ripe Bananas, Mashed
3/4 Cup White Sugar
1 Egg
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/3 Cup Butter, Softened
1 Cup Chopped Walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Coat muffin pan with cooking spray, or put in paper liners.
2.  Combine the flours, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl.
3.  In a separate bowl (or your Kitchenaid--although using a mixer is not necessary for this recipe--by hand is fine), mix together the bananas, white sugar, egg, vanilla, and butter.
4.  Slowly fold in the flour mixture and combine until smooth.
5. Stir in the walnuts.
6. Pour batter into muffin cups.
7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until muffins bounce back when you touch them.


White Chicken Chili

Chili day calls for another version of chili!  This time I'm making it with chicken and white beans, and adding some green chilies, for a yummy White Chicken Chili.  Cuddle up and stay warm with a bowl of this!

1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1/3 Cup Minced Onion
3 Cloves Garlic, Chopped (or 3 tsp. Minced Garlic)
1 Can (4 oz) Chopped Green Chillies
3 tsp. Ground Cumin
1 tsp. Oregano
1 tsp. Chili Powder
4 Cups Chicken Broth
1 lb. Cooked Chicken Breast, chopped or shredded (I shredded)
2 Cans White Beans (I used Northern, but can use Cannellini or Navy)
1 Cup Monterey Jack (or any White Cheese)

1. Heat oil in large saucepan (or stockpot) over medium heat.  Add in onion and stir for a couple minutes. 
2. Add in the garlic, green chillies, cumin, oregano, and chili powder.  Stir another 2 minutes.
3. Mix in the chicken broth, chicken, beans, and cheese.  Turn heat to low and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occassionally. 


For freezing, divide soup into two large freezer bags.  Once at room temperature, cool completely in the refrigerator.  Once cold, put soup into a second freezer bag (better safe than sorry with freezer burn) and be sure to label and date the soup (I include the date I made it and the "eat by" date).  Freeze up to 3 months.
To reheat, dip the bag into hot water for 5 minutes.  Then, put soup into stockpot.  Cook over medium heat for about 25 minutes, or until hot, stirring occasionally.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Greek Pasta Salad

I'm always looking for healthy and yummy recipes that are good for work/school week lunches.  It's an added bonus if these meals don't have to be heated, since I have limited portable glassware and heating meals in plastics is a no-no.  So, this recipe fits the bill--heart-healthy Mediterranean foods (olive oil, vinegar, feta, peppers, olives)--and it requires no re-heating.  Plus, we have a fall BBQ at a friend's house this weekend and this will make a nice side dish for the burgers.  Thus, eat this salad as a side dish or as a meal!

1 Box Whole-Wheat Penne Pasta (or Fusilli, or Falafel, or whatever your heart desires)
1 Red Bell Pepper, Diced
1 Green Bell Pepper, Diced
2 Cans Sliced Olives
1 Can or Jar Artichokes
1/2 Cup Crumbled Reduced-Fat Feta Cheese
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
3-4 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar (or Red Wine Vinegar)
1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
2 Cloves Garlic, Chopped (or 2 tsp. Minced Garlic)
1 tsp. Sea Salt
1 tsp. Pepper

1.  Cook pasta according to package directions.  Rinse with water and drain.
2.  Combine the diced peppers, olives, artichokes, feta, and pasta in a bowl.
3.  Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, sea salt & pepper. Pour over pasta/veggie mixture.   Stir well or lightly toss to coat.  Serve immediately or chilled.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Mexi-Turkey Chili

I like to make chili a few times in the fall and winter, and have a few variations I like to do.  This one is one of our favorite versions--I use healthier ground turkey instead of beef and add in some Mexi-flavors with the black beans and corn.  It's filling and delicious and even better, it can be a great weekday meal.  You can brown the turkey the night before, then put everything in the crock pot/slow cooker before you leave the next AM and it'll be ready for you by evening!

1 Tbsp. Olive Oil (or use cooking spray)
1 Pound Lean Ground Turkey

1/4 Cup minced Onion (or use regular onion)
1 (10.75 ounce) Can Low-Sodium Tomato Soup

1 (14.5 ounce) Can No-Sodium Diced Tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) Can Tomato Sauce
1 (15 ounce) Can filled with water
2 (15 ounce) Cans kidney beans, drained (I used one light kidney and one dark kidney can)
1 (15 ounce) Can Black Beans, drained
12 oz Frozen Yellow Corn (I have substituted with white corn before)
2 1/2 Tbsp. Chili Powder
1 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
1 Tbsp. Garlic Powder
1 Tbsp. Ground Cumin
3 tsp. Ground Black Pepper


1. Heat the oil (or cooking spray) in a skillet over medium-high heat. Place turkey and minced onion in the skillet; cook until evenly brown; drain.
2. Coat the inside of a slow cooker/crock pot with cooking spray, and combine the turkey with all of the other ingredients (tomato soup, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce,  water kidney beans, black beans, and corn).  Season with chili powder, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, cumin, and black pepper.  Stir well to mix.
3. Cover, and cook 8 hours on Low or 4 hours on High.
4. Serve hot with cheddar cheese or jack-cheddar and crackers or tortilla chips.

For freezing, divide soup into two large freezer bags.  Once at room temperature, cool completely in the refrigerator.  Once cold, put soup into a second freezer bag (better safe than sorry with freezer burn) and be sure to label and date the soup (I include the date I made it and the "eat by" date).  Freeze up to 3 months.
To reheat, dip the bag into hot water for 5 minutes.  Then, put soup into stockpot.  Cook over medium heat for about 25 minutes, or until hot, stirring occasionally.

Nutritional Info Per Serving:
Approx 8 servings; 280 calories per serving; 8.7 g of fat (1.9 g sat fat); 42 mg cholesterol; 680 mg sodium; 32.9 g total carbs; 21.1 g protein;
21% Vit A; 43% Vit C; 9% Calcium; 43% Iron; 48% Niacin; 20% Vit B6; 24% Magnesium; 54% Folate

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Carving pumpkins or using fresh pumpkin has a GREAT benefit you might not always make use of: the Pumpkin Seeds!  Pumpkin seeds are so healthy and tasty.  They provide about 50% of your daily value of iron, magnesium, and phosphorus, as well as give you healthy protein, healthy fats, zinc, and vitamin K.

The seeds in my photos are from the tiny pumpkins I used in the Sweet Potato Chutney Over Chops with Stuffed Pumpkin recipe.  I'll also be making the bigger seeds from our regular size pumpkins once we carve those.

Pumpkin seeds, cleaned of all pumpkin and dried.  Usually I use a strainer and a little manpower to get all the pumpkin off the seeds, then lay the seeds on paper towels to dry out overnight.

Seasoning(s) of your choice.  I prefer plain ol' Sea Salt, but you could use cinnamon/sugar, cajun spices, chilli powder, garlic powder, or whatever else you can come up with.

1. Preheat Oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Spray some cooking spray on a baking sheet.  Spread the seeds on top of the baking sheet.  Spray again with cooking spray.  Sprinkle your seasoning of choice on top of the seeds.
3. Bake for 15-25 minutes (or longer if you didn't dry them out) or until lightly browned.


Pumpkin Muffins

More pumpkin recipes!  These muffins are a healthy mid-day snack or morning breakfast.  I hope you like them!

2 Eggs
1 Can Canned Pumpkin
1/2 Cup Skim Milk
2 Tbsp. Cooking Oil
1/4 Cup Orange Juice
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

1 1/3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
3/4 Cup Whole-Wheat Flour
1/3 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 1/2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp. Ground Nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In mixing bowl (or your Kitchenaid mixer), mix together first six ingredients (eggs, milk, cooking oil, orange juice, and vanilla).
2. In a second bowl, combine the flours, sugars, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
3. Add flour mixture to egg mixture and  stir until moistened and combined.
4. Spoon batter into muffin cups (should make about 16 muffins).  Bake at 400 degrees for 12-18 minutes, or until the muffin tops are lightly browned and spring back when you touch them.

Enjoy warm, with a little butter or dunked in your favorite fall coffee or latte.  I'm loving mine dunked in my vanilla Soymilk.  Yuuum.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Salmon and Spinach Fettuccine

Spinach.  Salmon. Wheat Pasta.  Creamy Goodness!

I've been paying even more attention to what I eat lately, because I'm pregnant.  For any pregnant ladies out there, fish is long as you know what types are safe and recommended in pregnancy (avoid shark, swordfish, yellowfin tuna, and mackerel) and enjoy the low mercury fish a couple times a week (wild salmon, tilapia, haddock, or crab).  Mothers who ate fish (the healthy ones) in pregnancy 2x a week in pregnancy had babies with better vision, hearing, language and communication skills, IQ scores, cognition, and lower risks for other health problems.  The key is getting your low-mercury Omega-3s, which are building blocks for the brain.   Here is a helpful guide from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so you can choose the lowest mercury fish for your meal.  Here's a Mercury Calculator from NRDC to see if you're in the "safe zone" each week.

For the non-pregnant folks, salmon is still something you should be eating for your OWN health.  The Omega-3s keep your heart in check (helps protect against heart attacks, strokes, heart arrhythmia and more) and balance out good and bad cholesterols in your blood.  They can also fight obesity by secreting leptin (something that helps with your metabolism) and reduces inflammation.  I could go on MORE, but I'll stop...I think you're getting the point.  Additionally, don't forget about the disease-fighting benefits of Spinach and heart-health benefits of olive oil.    And besides all of that health stuff, this recipe is just simply delicious.  I hope you like it as much as we do!

16 oz. Salmon
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Package Whole Wheat Fettuccine
12 oz. Spinach (Could Substitute Peas)

2 Tbsp. Butter
1/4 Cup Sour Cream (FF or Low Fat)
1/2 Cup Milk (Skim)
1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese
Sea Salt and Pepper to taste

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.  Bring a stockpot (or large saucepan) of water to a boil on the stove.
3.  Baste salmon fillets in the olive oil.  Place on aluminum-foil lined baking sheet, or in a casserole dish.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until it flakes easily with a fork.
4.  Meanwhile, put Fettuccine noodles into water and cook as directed on the box.
5. While pasta is cooking, steam your spinach (I used frozen organic spinach and steamed it in my Pampered Chef Micro-Cooker--discussed in my Turkey Sloppy Joe's recipe).
6.  Once salmon is done, use a fork to flake the salmon into chunks.  Set aside.
7.  Drain pasta.  Reduce stovetop heat to medium-low.  Add butter to stockpot or pan.  Stir in sour cream, milk, and Parmesan.  Stir in pasta, spinach, and salmon.  Combine well and stir until sauce thickens.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Perfect Pumpkin Cookies

Time for another fall favorite--cookies meets pumpkin!  These cookies are really fluffy, cake-like and reminiscent of carrot cake, in my personal opinion...but with a pumpkin twist.  Using organic ingredients, wheat flour, mind-boosting cinnamon, and lots of pumpkin, they're not too bad for you either (of course, I'm assuming you can stop after 2 cookies)!

1 Cup Butter
1 Cup White Sugar
1 Egg
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 Can Pumpkin (15 oz)
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Nutmeg
1 Cup Whole-Wheat Flour
1 Cup Organic All-Purpose Flour

Frosting Ingredients:
1/4 Cup Softened Butter
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp. Milk
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 1/4 Cup Powdered Sugar

1.  Preheat Oven to 325 degrees F.
2.  Cream together softened butter and sugar.  Beat in egg and vanilla, then canned pumpkin.
3.  In a separate bowl, combine baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and both flours.  Slowly beat in to butter/egg mixture.  Stir by hand with firm spoon if needed at the end.
4.  Drop by heaping spoonfuls about 2" apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool on wire rack.
5.  For frosting: Combine the softened butter and brown sugar, mix well.  Stir in the milk and vanilla, then the powdered sugar.  Add more powdered sugar for a thicker consistency, more milk for thinner consistency.

Spread frosting on cookies and sprinkle some cinnamon on top.  Feel free to get festive, and color your icing orange or green with sprinkles.  Or as an alternative to frosting, mix in some chocolate chips with the cookie batter before baking.


Baked Kale Chips

Kale--another one of those wonder foods!  It's filled with Vitamins A and K, phytochemicals to prevent cancer, and beta-carotene.  However, I just haven't quite been able to get myself to truly enjoy it (the bitter taste specifically).  The solution is to turn it into chips!  I've been reading about the Kale Chip craze for awhile, had yet to make it, until now.  I chose to modify Dale Barber from Bon Appetit's recipe (and recipes all over the internet) and give it a whirl.  This recipe is SO easy and healthy, and best of all--really really yummy.

1 Bunch Kale (I plan on trying many varieties)
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
Sea Salt, to Taste

1.  Preheat Oven to 300 Degrees F.
2.  Rinse and dry the kale.
3.  Cut the leaves (I took out the hard "bony" parts) into large pieces.
4.  Place leaves in a bowl with olive oil and sea salt.  Toss to coat.
5.  Spread the coated leaves on a baking sheet in a single layer.
6.  Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until crisp.  Let cool and Enjoy!

Love-Yourself Lentil Soup

Hearty soups, without hearty calories.  This quick-and-easy lentil soup is tasty and extremely healthy, with a variety of veggies and fiber, iron, folate, Vitamin B1, protein and potassium-rich lentils.  Health magazine named lentils as one of the five healthiest foods.  This is my first official recipe with lentils, so be prepared to get some more featuring this wonder-food!

  • 3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 4 Medium Carrots, Sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. Minced Onion
  • 1 1/2 cups Dried Lentils
  • 3 Stalks Celery, Diced
  • 2 Potatoes, Diced
  • 4 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 5 Cups Chicken or Vegetable (sodium-free) Broth
  • 1 Tomato, Diced
  • 1 tsp. Cumin
  • 1 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp. Black Pepper

1. Put olive oil in Dutch Oven (or large stockpot) over medium-high heat.  Once heated, add onion and carrots.  Stir for 3-5 minutes.
2.  Add in the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil.
3.  Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 40-50 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.

Season with sea salt and black pepper and serve with crackers or crusty bread.  Enjoy!

For freezing, divide soup into two large freezer bags.  Once at room temperature, cool completely in the refrigerator.  Once cold, put soup into a second freezer bag (better safe than sorry with freezer burn) and be sure to label and date the soup (I include the date I made it and the "eat by" date).  Freeze up to 3 months.
To reheat, dip the bag into hot water for 5 minutes.  Then, put soup into stockpot.  Cook over medium heat for about 25 minutes, or until hot, stirring occasionally.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Oatmeal Chocolate-Chip Raisin Cookies

I am in love with these cookies.  This will be my 2nd batch in less than a month.  By using organic ingredients (if you can--I did on everything but the sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla) and using part wheat flour with fiber-rich oatmeal and raisins and memory-boosting cinnamon, these cookies are a pretty healthy dessert also!  Great treat on a cool fall night!  Enjoy!

1 Cup Butter, Softened
1 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup White Sugar
2 Eggs
3 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
3/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
1/2 Tsp. Baking Soda
1 Tsp. Salt
2 Tsp. Cinnamon
2 1/2 Cups Quick-Cooking Oats
1 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 Cup Raisins

1. Preheat Oven to 325 degrees F.
2. In a large bowl (or your Kitchenaid mixer if you have one), cream together the butter and brown and white sugars until smooth and creamy.  Beat the eggs in, one at a time, then add in the vanilla.
3.  In a separate bowl, combine the whole-wheat and all-purpose flours with the baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  A half-cup at a time, slowly beat in to the mixture.
4. Stir in by hand the oats, chocolate chips, and raisins.
5.  Drop by the heaping spoonful onto baking sheets about 2 inches apart.
6.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Transfer to wire cooling rack and enjoy!

Makes between 3 and 4 dozen cookies (depending on how heaping your spoonfuls are)

Sweet Potato Chutney Over Chops with Stuffed Pumpkin

Fall is here!  My FAVORITE season (leaves, pumpkins, Halloween, football, crisp air, apple-picking, cozy sweaters, need I go on?)  Time for pumpkins and other fall goodies!
I was searching for a yummy and healthy fall dinner recipe and found some on Better Homes and Gardens. I didn't tweak the recipes much.  I suggest first measuring out "all of the ingredients" (pun intended, say it out loud and then read my blog title out loud).  Second, start making the stuffed pumpkins.  Third, while your pumpkins are baking (the 1st time), start on the chops (turn to broil after pumpkins are done the 2nd time).  The timing should work well then!
NOTE:  This recipe took me quite a while to make, so if you want to save time, I would serve the potato stuffing not in the pumpkins (save the time cutting, cleaning, and cooking them), but just in the casserole dish.  However, if you're making a dinner for good presentation, this (using the pumpkins) is it!  I  hope you like them!

Sweet Potato Chutney Chops
1/3 Cup Finely-Chopped Shallots
1/4 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper
4 Pork Loin Chops, about 1" thick
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tbsp. Dried Cranberries
1/2 tsp. Ginger (grated or powder)
1 Sweet Potato, Peeled and Finely-Chopped

1.  Turn oven to Broil.
2. Combine shallots and red pepper in small bowl.  Put half aside for now (for chutney).  Rub remaining mixture on both sides of the pork chops.  Place on broiler pan and set aside.
3.  Time for the Chutney:  Combine the other half of the shallot mixture, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, cranberries, and ginger in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Stir in chopped sweet potato  and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 10-12 minutes.  Stir occasionally.
4. While chutney is simmering, broil chops, turning once, about 3-5 minutes per side.  Top with chutney and serve with stuffed pumpkin (below) and some green beans.

Stuffed Pumpkins
4 Miniature Pumpkins
2 Medium Baking Potatoes (remember, organic if you can!), Peeled and Quartered
1/2 Cup Canned Pumpkin (ezier and quickier way)
1/2 Tbsp. Organic Butter
1/8 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
1/4 Cup Fat-free organic milk (or soy milk)
1/2 Cup Shredded Jarlsberg Cheese

1.  Preheat Oven to 325 degrees F.  Begin to bring water to a boil on stovetop in medium saucepan.
2.  Cut off the tops of the pumpkins.  Remove seeds and strings from inside the pumpkins (keep seeds for roasting!).  Place pumpkins, cut-side down on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until pumpkins are soft.  Set aside.
3.  While pumpkins are baking, place quartered potatoes into the boiling water and cook for 20-25 minutes or until soft.  Drain potatoes.
4.  Using electric mixer (I love my Kitchenaid!), beat potatoes.  Add in canned pumpkin, butter, and nutmeg to potatoes and continue to mix.  Gradually beat in the milk.  Stir in cheese by hand.  Sprinkle with pepper.
5.  Spoon potato mixture into pumpkin shells.  Put any leftover potato mixture into a small casserole dish.  Place pumpkin shells on baking sheet.  Loosely cover both shells and casserole with foil.
6. Bake for 15-20 minutes (uncover in last 5 minutes).

Add some steamed green beans. Bon Appetit!