Sunday, July 31, 2011

20(ish)--- Macadamia Nut Butter Blueberry Cookies

I still had a bunch of macadamia nuts to use after my Hawaiian Pesto. There's peanut butter, and almond butter, and hazelnut butter. What about macadamia nut butter? I guess I haven't really LOOKED for it, but it's easy enough to make on your own. Grind up some nuts and you get butter.

Now onto the cookies. These are lovely and not too sweet. The blueberries complement the macadamia nuts perfectly.

Again, macadamia nuts = monounsaturated fatty acids= lower cholesterol levels.

Macadamia Nut Butter Blueberry Cookies

Makes 24

1 1/4 cups raw macadamia nuts

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 egg, beaten

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup wheat flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 cup dried blueberries, chopped

Preheat oven to 365 degrees. In a food processor, chop 1 cup of macadamia nuts until smooth, ~2 minutes. Add in remaining 1/4 cup nuts and chop until small chunks are dispersed into butter.

Transfer nut butter into a large mixing bowl. Add sugars, vanilla and beaten egg and mix well with a hand-mixer on medium speed.

In a medium bowl, combine flours, baking soda and cinnamon. Add flour mixture into sugar mixture and beat at low speed until combined. Fold in chopped blueberries and refrigerate mixture for 15 minutes.

Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll cookie dough into 1" balls and place on sheet. Use a fork to press each ball. Bake, one sheet at a time, for 8-9 minutes. Remove from baking sheet and place on wax paper to cool.

Nutrition Info per 1 cookie: 92 calories, 3 g fat (1.6 g monounsaturated), 1 g protein, 14 g carbohydrates

Friday, July 29, 2011

80--- Green Goddess Dressing

Green goddess dressing is a favorite of mine. I have used mixes, bottles, and other potions to try and find the perfect restaurant-quality combination. You must make it from scratch. It is the only way. No mayonnaise was used in the creation of this lovely adornment to salads, fajitas, fresh tomatoes, pickled pigs feet, etc.

75% of the fat in this green goddess dressing comes from monounsaturated fatty acids. That is the reason for the 80 rating on this one! Monounsaturated fatty acids may have the ability to lower your bad LDL cholesterol and raise your healthy HDL cholesterol.

Green Goddess Dressing
Makes ~ 1 cup

1/2 large avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 green onion, chopped
1 tsp anchovy paste (you may use chopped kalmata olives as an alternative)
1 clove fresh garlic, chopped
1/4 cup low fat butttermilk
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp honey
1 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
3 Tbsp fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

Combine all ingredients into a food processor and puree until smooth. Place in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Nutrition Info per 2 Tbsp serving: 83 calories, 7.5 g fat (6 g monounsaturated), 1 g protein, 1 g carbohydrate

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Nutrition Tip: Observations of My Grandparents

My hubby and I went to Iowa last week to visit my grandparents. I am so lucky that I still have three grandparents, all in their 90s and living at home. Their generation has so much knowledge to share with us.

My grandparents are amazingly healthy. They have never been overweight. They have good eating habits not because someone told them that they should, but because that is just what they do.

We both (unknowingly) made some great observations about their nutrition habits on this trip. These healthy habits were not things that we had not heard before, but to see it in everyday action with truly healthy people was interesting.

Here are a few things that we observed:


They eat three meals everyday. They rarely snack. Skipping breakfast, or any other meal, is not an option.


Lunch is their largest meal (called "dinner" in Iowa-- crazy confusing). For "supper" they eat a small portion of what is leftover from "dinner".


They do not "restrict" anything, but their portions of everything are small. My dad reports that this has always been the case, therefore it is not due to decreased appetite that sometimes comes with age. My grandfather has a cookie with each meal. And he can.


When we asked them what their favorite meal was, they could not come up with one. They do not even make a special birthday meal. And not because there were too many foods to choose from. Food for them really seems to be more about necessity than desire.


If you told them that something was unhealthy for them, they would not eat it. Done. No argument.

This is the way of eating for my grandparents. It just is because it is. And it's working.

Monday, July 25, 2011

80--- Cumin Cilantro Corn-on-the-Cob

My hubby and I went to Iowa last week to visit my family. We brought home SWEET CORN! If you've never had Iowa sweet corn you have not lived a full life. It's still early season, but it is so tasty.

Corn is a whole grain! Fantastic! But we typically drown it in butter and salt which makes it much more of a 20 than an 80. This delicious twist keeps it as an 80! Cumin is a spice with anti-carcinogenic properties as well as iron and manganese, which makes it a terrific addition to any food.

Cumin Cilantro Corn-on-the-Cob
Serves 4

4 ears sweet corn, shucked
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
Aluminum foil

1. Soak ears of corn in water for 20 minutes.

2. Preheat grill.

3. Mix cumin and sea salt in a small bowl and set aside. Place 3 Tbsp in another bowl, then use a brush to lightly spread oil onto soaked corn. Sprinkle cumin/salt mixture onto each ear, then sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

4. Wrap each ear tightly in aluminum foil.

5. Place corn on the grill over medium heat for 12-15 minutes. Serve immediately!

Nutrition Info per 1 ear: 110 calories, 6 g fat (5 g monounsaturated!), 3 g protein, 17 g carbohydrates, 2.4 g fiber

Friday, July 22, 2011

80--- Grilled Taco Pizza

We harvested some beautiful salad greens from our garden. They are small and tender and so delicious. Most people would think "Salad!". My first thought was "Taco Pizza!".

I used raw tortillas for these pizzas. They are made by Tortilla Land and they are the only ones I use anymore! Fresh = Fantastic. Our taco pizzas were vegetarian, but you can add any variety of toppings to make them your own!

Grilled Taco Pizza
Makes 5

5 uncooked tortillas (you may use regular 10" flour tortillas if you must)
1 1/2 cup low fat refried beans, try mine
1/2 cup water
1 large yam, sliced into 1/2" thick rounds
1 Tbsp + 2 tsp ancho chile powder
2 tsp ground cumin, divided
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup white onion, finely chopped
1 small jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 cup tomato, seeded and chopped
3-4 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced into thin rounds (or feta)
2 1/2 cups fresh salad greens

Preheat and clean grill. Spray grill rack with baking spray. In a large dish, toss yam rounds with 1 Tbsp chile powder, salt, and 1 tsp cumin. Place yam rounds onto grill rack over medium heat and cook for ~2-3 minutes on each side, until just cooked through. Remove and set aside to cool slightly. When cool, cut into 1/2" cubes.

Place refried beans in a medium nonstick saucepan. Add 1/2 cup water, 1 tsp cumin and 2 tsp chile powder. Heat on low until warm.

On clean grill rack, place tortillas (two were all that would fit at one time on mine). Cook over medium-low heat. When grill marks appear, remove from grill. On side with marks, spread 1/3 cup refried beans, chopped yams, chopped onion, jalapenos (if desired), fresh chopped tomato, and cilantro. Place a few mozzarella slices (or feta) evenly onto toppings. Return pizza to grill for additional 3-4 minutes, until cheese is melted and tortilla is crispy.

Remove from grill and place 1/2 cup fresh salad greens onto pizza and slice into quarters. Garnish with salsa if desired and serve.

Nutrition info per 1 pizza: 260 calories, 5 g fat, 10 g protein, 40 g carbohydrates, 7 g fiber

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

80--- Hawaiian Pesto

Somebody who loves me went to Hawaii and all I got was a bag of macadamia nuts. Just kidding. That somebody was my parents and I was really stoked about the nuts.

Macadamia nuts have more monounsaturated fats (that may lower your LDL cholesterol levels) than any other natural food source. These little buttery balls are also full of vitamin E and selenium, both powerful antioxidants.

This pesto will take you to the islands. My husband said it was the best pesto that I had ever made. Ho'omaika'i 'ana (congratulations) to me!

I used mine as a sauce for some whole grain spaghetti and garnished with fresh shaved Parmesan cheese and viola blossoms (edible). This would also be terrific on a grilled chicken breast or on a turkey burger.

Hawaiian Pesto

Makes ~ 1 1/2 cups

2 cloves garlic, pressed

1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves, stemmed

1 1/2 cups fresh cilantro leaves

1/3 cup raw macadamia nuts

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/3 cup pineapple juice

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper

Place all ingredients into a small food processor or blender. Blend until pureed and smooth in texture.

Will keep in refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Nutrition Info per 3 Tbsp: 70 calories, 7 g fat (5 g monounsaturated), 1 g protein, 2 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber

Sunday, July 17, 2011

20(ish)--- Strawberry Mint Sangria Popsicles

These are not for kiddos. But they are adult-beverage/dessert perfection.

Strawberry Mint Sangria Popsicles
Makes 5-6 popsicles

1 cup dry red wine
2 Tbsp sugar
3/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
8 strawberries, stemmed and chopped
10 fresh mint leaves, finely minced

Combine the red wine, strawberries and mint in a small bowl and let sit for one hour.

Combine the orange juice, lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stirring occasionally, heat just enough to dissolve the sugar. Place in refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.

Set a strainer over a medium bowl and strain the fruit from the wine. Divide the strained berries and mint evenly between all popsicle molds (it will fill each 3/4 of the way). Whisk the cooled orange juice mixture into the wine.

Pour the sangria mix over the fruit in each mold, leaving a quarter-inch of space at the top. Place tops on molds or place molds in refrigerator for one hour prior to inserting sticks. Freeze overnight. Run molds under warm water to dislodge popsicles.

Friday, July 15, 2011

80--- Beautiful Beet Dip

Do not adjust the color of your monitor. This color had not been computer-generated and no food dyes were used in the making if this dip. Natural and amazing. A good friend of mine said that Lululemon needs to use this as a product color and call it Beet Dip. I would definitely buy a tank........ maybe even a hoodie in Beet Dip.

This dish is not only perty but delicious too. And nutritious. You can't ask for much else out of food. Oh yes-- it's easy too. I think that covers all of the bases of an outstanding appetizer. I suggest serving with Belgium endive spears or plain pita chips so that you can enjoy every ounce of beet goodness.

Beautiful Beet Dip
Serves ~8

3 large beets, peeled and chopped into ~1/2" cubes
1 medium red onion, sliced into thin strips
1 tsp olive oil
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 cup water
1 Tbsp honey
1 1/2 cups nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp salt

In a large deep skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, ~2-3 minutes. Add the beets and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring continually. Add water and bring to a boil. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beets are just tender ~5-7 minutes.

Whisk together vinegar, honey, and salt in a liquid measuring cup. Add the mixture to the beets and cook uncovered over high heat, stirring frequently, until the liquid has evaporated completely and the beets are soft, ~ 6-8 minutes.

Transfer the beet mixture onto a large plate and place in refrigerator to cool for 30 minutes.

Fold in the yogurt and serve.

Nutrition Info per ~1/4 cup: 55 calories, 1 g fat, 5 g protein, 8 g carbohydrates, 1.5 g fiber

Recipe adapted from Food & Wine magazine

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

20--- Adult Dirt Cake

It was my birthday last week. My ultimate favorite birthday dessert is dirt know, chocolate pudding mixed with Cool Whip layered with crushed Oreos and gummy worms. But I have now reached an age where my palate has refined a bit (a little bit) and I was wanting something less processed with a bit (a little bit) of an adult feel.

This fit the bill! Happy birthday to me.

Adult Dirt Cake
Serves ~6

2 Tbsp Dutch unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 cups half & half
1 cup skim milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
6 oz dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 tsp mint extract
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, chopped
12 chocolate wafer cookies (please do not use sugar free)
1 tsp black sea salt (Hawaiian sea salt)
6 gummy worms

Combine sugar, cornstarch, and cocoa in a nonstick saucepan. Whisk together half & half, milk, and vanilla in a smaller bowl.

Pour milk mixture into sugar mixture, and whisk until cornstarch is dissolved. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly, and cook until thick, 3-5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add chocolate and stir until chocolate melts, about 1 minute.

Remove from heat and add mint extract and butter, and whisk until butter melts. Quickly divide pudding, stirring constantly to prevent sides from setting up, among six 4-ounce glasses. Leave 1/2 inch of space at the top of each. Refrigerate until set, 1-2 hours.

Just before serving, place a gummy worm onto pudding. Place cookies in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Stir in sea salt, then scoop 2-3 Tbsp of cookie crumbs onto the top of each pudding cup and serve.

Monday, July 11, 2011

80(ish)--- Creamy Coconut Popsicles

Coconut water/ oil/ milk have been getting a lot of attention lately. This fruit does have lauric acid which is a wonderful antioxidant and also contains antimicrobial properties. Unfortunately, coconut is very high in saturated fat, the kind that can cause inflammation, increase your cholesterol, and lead to heart disease. So what is a person to do? Practice moderation.

That being said, these popsicles are perfect for your moderation practice. My husband loves coconut popsicles and he gave these a rave review (after a difficult hand-modeling session). So easy! Use your favorite popsicle forms or take a look at these:

Groovy Molds
Star Molds
Tornado Molds
Rocket Molds

These will not be my last popsicle post. I have some creations in my brain........... stay tuned. In the mean time these are fantastic.

Creamy Coconut Popsicles
Makes 7-8, depending on molds

12 oz low fat unsweetened evaporated milk

14 oz lite coconut milk

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup coconut meat, unsweetened and shredded

Whisk all ingredients together in a large bowl with a spout. Pour into individual molds, insert sticks and refrigerate overnight. Enjoy!

Nutrition Info per 1: 133 calories, 5.6 g fat, 4 g protein, 15 g carbohydrates

Saturday, July 9, 2011

20--- Candied Bacon-Crusted Peanut Butter Banana Bread aka 'Elvis Bread'

I know what you're thinking. And oh yes I did.

My inspiration is Elvis's favorite sandwich. Peanut butter.... bananas.... bacon. A few less of those sandwiches and his heart may have been able to handle all of the prescription drugs. Let that be a lesson to you. This is a 20. No doubt about that.

Candied Bacon-Crusted Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Makes 2 loaves

10 slices bacon
1 cup + 2 Tbsp light brown sugar
3 cups mashed bananas
2/3 cup plain low fat yogurt
3/4 cup peanut butter
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup white sugar
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup ground flaxmeal (a LITTLE nutrition, ok?)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup chopped dry roasted unsalted cashews

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the strips of bacon on an oven safe baking rack that has been lightly greased over a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil (for easy cleanup). Sprinkle brown sugar evenly (or as best you can do) over each strip of bacon (use 1 Tbsp total).

Bake for 10-20 minutes. About halfway during baking, flip the bacon over and sprinkle brown sugar over them again (1 Tbsp total). Continue to bake until crispy (do not burn). Remove from oven and cool the strips.

Once crisp and cool, chop into coarse pieces. Set aside.

Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees. Spray two 9×5-inch loaf pans with baking spray and sprinkle with flour. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, flax meal, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon and ground allspice.

In a medium bowl, whisk together mashed bananas, yogurt, and peanut butter. Stir in eggs and sugars. Blend mixture with a handheld mixer until smooth.

Pour the wet mixture into the larger bowl with the dry ingredients. Fold together with a spatula until no more flour bits remain. Fold in the chopped cashews. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pans and sprinkle evenly with candied bacon pieces. Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, covering with aluminum foil halfway through baking. Remove from oven when a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 20 minutes before running a butter knife along the edges of the pan and inverting the bread onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

80--- Paella del Mar

Alright land-lovers. It's time to take a little gastronomic trip to the ocean. The flavors of the sea come together perfectly in this dish. We have a fantastic fish market here in Bozeman and they receive shipments three times per day! That is a novelty in our landlocked state.

Mussels, aka "poor man's oysters", are a great source of lean protein. They are also high in omega-3 fatty acids and iron. These little creatures filter the oceans. Therefore, due to possible pollution in the area of harvest, I recommend cultured mussels (most typically found in fish markets and grocery stores). Make sure that your mussels are live prior to cooking them to ensure that they are fresh!

Paella del Mar
Serves 4

6 oz large shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 -6 oz small mussels
6 oz sea scallops
16 oz fish stock (or clam juice)
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 tsp saffron threads
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 green bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/2 large white onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed and finely minced
2 tsp paprika
1 large red tomato, seeded and chopped
1 cup Arborio rice (short grain)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400°. In a small saucepan, bring saffron, white wine and fish stock to a low simmer. Keep warm over low heat.

Combine shrimp and scallops in a bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish mixture, and saute for 1 minute (the mixture will not be completely done). Remove fish mixture and any liquid from pan, and place in a bowl.

Heat remaining oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add bell peppers, onion, garlic, and paprika and sauté for 3 minutes. Stir in tomato; cook 2 additional minutes. Stir in rice. Add fish stock mixture and fish and bring to a low boil. Cook for ~3 minutes. Add mussels to pan, nestling them into rice mixture.

Bake at 400° for 12-15 minutes or until shells open; discard any unopened shells. Remove from oven, cover and let stand 10 minutes. Serve with hot sauce of your choice (optional).

Nutrition Info per 2 cup serving: 309 calories, 9 g fat, 22 g protein, 28 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

80(ish)--- Ciabatta Salad with Watermelon and Avocado

When I think about July I think about watermelon. It is juicy and light, yet filling. Perfect in a salad for a light summer dinner.

Watermelon is a great source of antioxidants vitamin C, beta-carotene, and lycopene. AND one cup has only 48 calories!

Ciabatta Salad with Watermelon and Avocado

Serves 4-5 as side salads

2 cups ciabatta cubes

2 cups cubed seedless watermelon

1 ripe avocado, cubed (use 3 Tbsp in dressing)

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1 1/2 cups arugula, chopped (I used mine out of my garden- yum!)

Crumbled feta (optional)


3 Tbsp cubed avocado

1/4 cup champagne vinegar

2 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp olive oil

3 leaves lemon balm (optional)

3 fresh mint leaves

Dash of salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place bread cubes onto a baking sheet and bake for ~10-12 minutes until toasted. Remove from oven and set aside.

Prepare dressing: in a food processor combine all dressing ingredients until pureed smooth. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine watermelon, remaining avocado cubes, arugula, and red onion. Gently fold in toasted ciabatta cubes.

Spoon on individual plates and drizzle with dressing. Sprinkle with feta if desired and serve immediately.

Nutrition Info per ~1 1/4 cup serving: 130 calories, 5.5 g fat, 3 g protein, 15 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Healthy & Happy 4th of July!

Ah the 4th of July. I have always loved the 4th. It is typically a warm weather holiday here in Montana, which also happens to be close to my birthday (it's on the 8th-- no gifts, please). However, these celebrations often include many divulgent goodies that do not compliment swimsuit season very well. Hot dogs.....burgers......deviled eggs......potato cream......pie...... you get the picture.

Here are a few recipes from my archives that will help to health-ify your holiday and make it more of an 80 than a 20!