Monday, October 31, 2011

80--- Apple Chai Smoothie

I always crave the flavors of chai tea in the fall. Cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg. Put those seasonings in anything and I will eat it (or drink it).

This is a fantastic use for those bushels of apples that accumulate this time of year! Smoothies are a wonderful quick meal, and the protein can be really satisfying. Watch out for high calorie additives like peanut butter, unless of course that weight gain is your goal!

Apple Chai Smoothie
Serves 2

2 cups chopped apples (~2 small-medium apples)
1 1/2 cup lowfat plain Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp orange juice
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 cups ice

Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Pour into two glasses and garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Nutrition Info per 1 smoothie: 204 calories, 3 g fat, 10 g protein, 33 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 133 mg sodium

Saturday, October 29, 2011

80(ish)--- Better than Great Granola

This is an update to my Great Granola. Now it's better. It's lower in fat and calories, and incorporates pumpkin seed kernels- perfect for this time of year!

Granola can be a powerhouse of carbohydrates, fiber, protein, and healthy fats. Unfortunately, it can also be a source of excessive calories. Granola certainly has it's place. It's a lovely breakfast, when used in moderation with yogurt or milk. It can also be a lovely snack when on a trail or camping.

Better than Great Granola contains more monounsaturated fats than your typical granola, thanks to all of the nuts, seeds, and olive oil.

Better than Great Granola
Serves 15

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup bran flakes cereal
1 cup Grape Nuts cereal
1/2 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup pumpkin seed kernels
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup orange juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix oats, cereal, nuts, seeds and cinnamon in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, combine honey, oil, and juice. Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients and mix well until coated. On baking sheets lined with parchment paper, evenly spread granola (I recommend 2 large sheets). Bake for 17-20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Allow to cool completely before storing in airtight containers.

Nutrition Info per 1/2 cup serving: 226 calories, 14g fat (8 g monounsaturated), 6 g protein, 28 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber

Thursday, October 27, 2011

20(ish)--- Green Tea Cookies

It took me a while to perfect this recipe. Sorry for the delay. But now it's good. It's really good.

Probably not the MOST NUTRITIOUS way to get your antioxidants. Definitely the tastiest. If you like green tea candy, mochi, and green tea ice cream, these are a must. No, the color has not been enhanced. All NATURAL.

Green Tea Cookies
Makes 24 cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp matcha powder
1/4 cup fine white sugar

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with a handheld mixer for 30 seconds. Add sugar, egg, baking soda, cream of tartar, and matcha powder and beat until well combined, scraping the sides of the bowl. Beat in flour (you may need to mix with a spoon to incorporate evenly. Cover and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place 1/4 cup fine sugar in a small bowl. Shape dough into one inch balls, then roll in sugar. Place on an ungreased baking sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake for 9 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

80--- Pasta "Salad"

This came from a dream. Or a craving.

It's a pasta SALAD. Get it? PASTA salad. Ha ha! Terrific for a light meal, or as a side.

Pasta "Salad"
Serves 6

12 oz uncooked whole wheat penne pasta, prepared al dente
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped coarsely
1/2 red onion, sliced
1/2 cup black olives, sliced
4 cups salad blend of choice (I used a lovely herbs and greens mixture)

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, pressed and finely minced
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Add all dressing ingredients to a jar. Seal and shake until well-combined.

Toss salad ingredients together in a large bowl. Pour dressing over salad and toss gently to coat. Serve immediately (I had leftovers the next day and it was still SPECTACULAR).

Nutrition Info per ~1 cup: 200 calories, 7 g fat, 6 g protein, 27 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Nutrition Tip: Sweet Tooth

If you have a sweet tooth (or several), you know who you are. This can be a rough season for those of us who have one. Halloween candy....... caramel apples.......pumpkin cookies.......fudge.......oh my!

My best TIP for dealing with your sweet tooth is one that I learned from my good friend LaRyn many moons ago. It's called ONCE A WEEK. Here's how it works:

ONCE A WEEK you get to have a grand dessert. And boy, it can be grand. Not an entire chocolate cake grand, but really really good. Like a piece of cheesecake (aaahhhhh! the shock! the horror!) or a molten chocolate torte or an ice cream bar or a ...... you get it.

Now that you KNOW that ONCE A WEEK you get dessert, it's a lot easier to surpass the OTHER sweet items, like a piece of Halloween candy, or a nibble out of a candy jar. Because you don't want THOSE little things to be your weekly dessert, now do you?

I typically save my dessert for Sunday nights at my in-laws. Except for the times when all us girls get together, and then there is usually dessert involved.

You can now look forward to your ONCE A WEEK dessert. Make it a really GRAND one, huh?

Unless you don't have a sweet tooth and never want dessert. Then I have no words. Except MAN are you missing out!

Friday, October 21, 2011

80--- Yam & Oat Breakfast Casserole

As the leaves turn and fall begins, my anticipation of Thanksgiving begins. And with this holiday meal, comes Sweet Potato Casserole. You know, the one with the nuts and melty brown sugar topping? Delicious, and health-ify-able. And perfect for breakfast.

This casserole is great straight out of the oven, but keeps well in the fridge for breakfast for several days. It is super filling, thanks to FIBER! Lots of healthy fats will keep you full until lunch.

Yam & Oat Breakfast Casserole
Serves 8

2 yams, peeled and cubed into 1 inch pieces
1 cup old fashioned oats
2 Tbsp flax meal
2 cups water
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup old fashioned oats
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp chia seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Add yam cubes and boil for 5-7 minutes, or until tender. Drain and mash.

While yams are cooking, place 1 cup oats into a microwave-safe bowl. Add water and flax meal. Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes (careful to not let it boil over). Remove from microwave and stir oatmeal into mashed yams. Stir in maple syrup, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice.

To prepare topping, combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Mash to mix.

Place yam mixture into a 1 1/2 quart baking dish prepared with baking spray. Sprinkle topping mixture evenly onto yams. Bake for 20 minutes, then broil on high for 2 minutes (watch carefully so that topping browns but does not burn).

Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes prior to serving.

Nutrition Info per ~1 cup: 252 calories, 9.4 g fat (5.5 g monounsaturated), 6 g protein, 36 g carbohydrates, 6.5 g fiber, 8 mg sodium

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

80--- Mexican Mess (aka Chilaquiles)

Vegetarian Mexican food is so easy and always tastes spectacular. This casserole is no exception. You can add any number of vegetables you wish (or hide them from your kids-- but I don't condone that).

Mexican Mess
Serves 8

15 corn tortillas, quartered
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 white onion, chopped coarsely
1 cup corn kernels
1 yellow squash, chopped into 1" pieces
3 cups baby spinach leaves, chopped
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 tsp ground cumin
20 oz can red enchilada sauce
5 oz crumbled goat cheese
Chopped cilantro
Cherry tomatoes
Chopped white onion
Light sour cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place quartered corn tortillas onto a baking sheet and bake for 5-8 minutes, until stiff. Remove from oven.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in squash, beans, corn, spinach leaves, and cumin and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened slightly, about 3 minutes. Add diced tomatoes and enchilada sauce and cook until heated through.

Spray a 9x13" baking dish lightly with olive oil spray. Scatter half the tortilla pieces in the dish. Top with half of the vegetable mixture. Repeat with one more layer of tortillas and vegetables. Sprinkle with goat cheese and cover with foil.

Bake the casserole for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the casserole is bubbling around the edges, about 10 minutes more. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes prior to cutting and serving. Garnish pieces with chopped onion, chopped cilantro, cherry tomatoes, and light sour cream (optional).

Nutrition Info per 1/8 recipe (~1 cup): 279 calories, 8 g fat, 14 g protein, 38 g carbohydrates, 6.6 g fiber, 660 mg sodium

Monday, October 17, 2011

20--- Wacky Chocolate Cake Pops

My first experience with cake pops was only a few months ago. Not sure where I was for the past few years, but I had never even heard of them until my friend Tonia took me to Starbucks in Phoenix (no, we do not yet have a Starbucks in Bozeman, Montana). How fun! I decided that Halloween was the perfect time to try my hand at them because they do not have to turn out "pretty". Actually, kind of funky is better.

Wacky Chocolate Cake is a recipe of my mother's, from her mother, etc. It is also referred to as a Depression Chocolate Cake because it contains no butter, no milk, and no eggs, which are ingredients that were hard to find in the Depression. But you MUST have chocolate cake. So this recipe was developed. It is super moist and super delicious. It is the only chocolate cake that I knew of growing up. I guess I was kind of shocked when I found out that other chocolate cakes did not call for vinegar.

Wacky Chocolate Cake Pops
Makes ~30 pops

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup canola oil (or vegetable oil of your choice)
1 1/2 Tbsp white distilled vinegar
1 1/2 cups water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together with a spoon. Add all the wet ingredients and stir until well-combined. Pour into a 9x13" pan which has been prepared with cooking spray.

Bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

1/3 cup butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

In a medium mixing bowl, beat butter until fluffy. Gradually add 2 cups powdered sugar and beat well. Beat in milk and vanilla. Slowly add cocoa powder and remaining powdered sugar. Beat until well-combined. Add additional milk if needed to reach desired consistency (should be spreadable but not too thin).

30 cookie sticks (found in craft store)
1 - 14oz package dark chocolate candy melts (also found in craft store)
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut and small plastic spiders
1 cup cookie crumbs (I used Oreos chopped in my food processor) and gummy worms

When cake has cooled completely (I made mine the night before), use a fork to "shred" the cake into crumbs. Add crumbs to a large mixing bowl, then add frosting. Use your hands to combine thoroughly.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Scoop 2 Tbsp cake/frosting mixture into your hands and mash mixture together. Roll into a small tight ball and place on parchment paper. Repeat with remaining mixture.

Place cake balls into refrigerator for 2 hours. Remove and re-roll balls with your hands to pack tightly.

Melt 4-5 chocolate candy melts in microwave according to package instructions. Dip the end of each cookie stick into the melted chocolate and insert one into each ball, at least halfway into the ball. Return balls to refrigerator when all sticks have been inserted. Chill for 30-60 minutes.

Melt remainder of chocolate candy in microwave. Remove cake balls from refrigerator. Place the bottom of each ball into chocolate, then spoon melted candy over the top of the ball. Holding the stick, spin the cake ball on the spoon to remove excess melted chocolate. Immediately sprinkle each ball with coconut or crumbled cookies. Place on a clean baking sheet and add a spider or gummy worm before chocolate hardens. Repeat with remaining cake balls, then place in refrigerator for 1 hour prior to serving (or overnight in my case).

These take a little extra time but are so worth the effort!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

80--- Gourmet Broccoli and Cheese Baked Spud

Confession: I love faux cheese. You know, the fluorescent yellow stuff? It's fantastic. It is not really cheese.... actually, I don't think it is even a food. It's a "food-like product". Kind of like non-dairy creamer. Definitely on my Top 10 list of things that you should never eat. My hubby likes to taunt me with my obsession. Every once in a while he will bring home a jar of that Tostitos Salsa Con Queso. I will eat it. I prefer not to. But I will.

This is a recipe that has nothing to do with faux cheese. It's more of a grown-up broccoli and cheese potato.

Gourmet Broccoli and Cheese Baked Spud
Serves 2

4 sweet potatoes or yams, baked
4 cups broccoli flowers, steamed
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp seasoning salt
1 1/3 cups part skim ricotta cheese
1/4 cups Parmesan cheese
1 red onion, sliced thin
2 tsp light brown sugar
3 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a baking dish, combine broccoli flowers, walnuts, olive oil and seasoning salt. Bake for 15 minutes, or until broccoli begins to brown slightly.

While broccoli is roasting, heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add sliced red onion and saute until it softens, 4-5 minutes. Add brown sugar and stir until onions begin to caramelize. Add vinegar and saute until vinegar thickens, 4-5 minutes.

Slice each baked sweet potato down the center. Spoon 1/3 cup ricotta cheese over potato, then top with broccoli and walnut mixture and caramelized red onions. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.

Nutrition Info per 1 potato: 322 calories, 9 g fat (3 g monounsaturated), 21 g protein, 33 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 427 mg sodium

Thursday, October 13, 2011

80--- Broccamole

This is exactly what you think it is. All of the goodness of guacamole, some of the healthy fats, fewer calories, more FIBER.

Serves 8

4-5 cups broccoli florets, steamed
1 avocado
1/3 cup lime juice
3 Tbsp nonfat plain Greek yogurt or light sour cream
3/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup fresh corn kernels (optional)

In a large food processor, combine steamed broccoli, avocado, lime juice, yogurt or sour cream, salt and cilantro until a smooth puree is formed.

Spoon mixture into a bowl and fold in onions, tomatoes, and corn.

Serve with pita chips or tortilla chips. Will keep in an airtight container in refrigerator for ~2 days.

Nutrition Info per ~1/4 cup: 68 calories, 4 g fat, 2 g protein, 5 g carbohydrates, 1.8 g fiber, 255 mg sodium

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

80--- Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats

This is a twist on my Overnight Oats recipe. Who wouldn't want to eat pumpkin pie for breakfast? You can have all of the flavor PLUS fiber and healthy whole grains.

Note: several people commented that their Overnight Oats stuck to the sides of their slow cookers. Some crock pots LOW setting may run a little hotter than others (you know who you are). If this is you, here is your solution: place oat mixture into a soup pot or other heat-safe bowl. Fill up your crock pot halfway with water. Place the bowl into the water and cook your oats in this "hot water bath". OR you can spray the sides of your crock pot with cooking spray and hope that this is enough for them not to stick.

Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats
Serves 4

1 cup steel cut oats
4 cups water
1/2 cup almond milk
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp honey
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Combine all ingredients into a crock pot and cook on LOW for 5 hours. Use your KEEP WARM setting (which mine switches to automatically) for the remainder of the night (so that you can get your full 7-8 hours).

Garnish with a sprinkle of brown sugar and additional sliced almonds, if desired.

Nutrition Info per 1 1/2 cup serving: 273 calories, 5.5 g fat, 8 g protein, 45 g carbohydrates, 7 g fiber

Sunday, October 9, 2011

20(ish)--- Oktoberfest Pretzel Nuggets with Sriracha Honey Mustard

Are pretzels German? I actually Googled this and found out that, yes, it is believed that they were created in the state of Bavaria.

I also found out that "the ideal pretzel, as served in Germany, has a dark brown, crispy, salty crust, and inside a soft dough". These pretzel bites have just that. But I cannot take credit for them (but I can for the sauce). They are the brain child of Two Peas and Their Pod. Follow the link for the pretzel nugget recipe!

Pretzel Nuggets

Sriracha Honey Mustard
Makes ~1 1/2 cups

1 cup Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp Sriracha hot sauce
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup honey

Whisk all ingredients together until well-mixed and serve at room temperature.


Friday, October 7, 2011

80--- Mixed Berry Fruit Leather

Fruit leather, fruit "roll-ups", fruit jellies, whatever you want to call them, you know what I'm talking about. You may associate them with your lunch box as a child, or your child's lunch box now.

I must admit that I'm not a big fan. They get stuck in your teeth. But when I found that you could make your own without a dehydrator, I had to try them. AND they turned out very tasty. But they still get stuck in my teeth.

Try any berries, fruit, etc that you like!

Mixed Berry Fruit Leather
Makes 8 servings

1 cup strawberries, stemmed
1 cup blueberries
1 Tbsp honey

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a blender or food processor, combine berries and honey and blend until smooth. Pour mixture onto prepared sheet and spread evenly and thinly with a spatula.

Bake for 3-5 hours or until mixture is dry to the touch. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Use scissors to cut the leather and paper into 1 1/2" wide strips. Roll up strips and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Nutrition Info per 1 roll: 20 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g protein, 5 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

80--- Slow Cooker Lentil Chili

As temperatures drop it gets even more exciting to come home to a warm dinner already prepared for you. I love my crock pot. LOVE.

Small but mighty, lentils are legumes (along with other beans). They contain rich amounts of insoluble and soluble fiber and are a great source of iron! There are many varieties, green, red, beluga, brown, black, channa dal, etc etc.

This chili has a smooth creamy texture thanks to our little lentil friends.

Slow Cooker Lentil Chili
Serves 8

1 lb dried green lentils (red would work too)
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 large (1 whole medium) red onion, diced
1 can diced tomatoes in juice
6 oz tomato paste
8 cups tomato broth made from bouillon (found in cubes in Latin aisle)
4 carrots, diced
1 1/2 Tbsp chili powder (I used Ancho and New Mexico chili powders)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (more to taste)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp coriander
2 tsp hot sauce of your choice

Add all ingredients into your slow cooker and cook on low for 6-7 hours, until lentils are soft.

Serve garnished with diced green tomatoes (if available).

Nutrition Info per 2 cup serving: 422 calories, 3 g fat, 30 g protein, 70 g carbohydrates, 15 g fiber

Monday, October 3, 2011

80--- Cherry Tomato Pie

Tis the time of year that if you planted more than one cherry tomato plant (as did we) you have them coming out your ears. Turn them into a fantastic vegetarian meal (or side dish)! It's beautiful and tasty.

Cherry Tomato Pie
Makes 4 main dish servings, 6-8 side dish servings

1/2 lbs cherry tomatoes
1 red onion, sliced thin
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 1/2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Fresh ground black pepper

3 cups baguette cubes (I used wheat)
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp brown sugar
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread bread cubes onto a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes until crunchy (but not overly brown).

While bread crumbs are toasting, heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and stir occasionally until caramelized, ~15 minutes. Add garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a pie plate or baking dish, combine tomatoes, flour, red pepper flakes and pepper. Gently fold in onion mixture and set aside.

Place toasted bread cubes into the onion skillet and heat over medium heat. Add broth, wine, brown sugar, fennel seeds, salt, and pepper. Fold gently. Heat until broth has been absorbed into bread. Remove from heat and spoon bread cubes over tomato mixture.

Place dish into the oven on the middle rack and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until heated through. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese onto bread cubes for last 5 minutes of cooking. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to serve.

Nutrition Info per 1/6 pie: 144 calories, 4.5 g fat, 4.5 g protein, 17 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber

Saturday, October 1, 2011

80---Thai Yam & Snap Pea Salad

A yam is a potato's brighter, healthier brother. They are high in vitamin B6 and potassium, which are good protectors against cardiovascular disease. Yams are also high in FIBER, which keeps our GI systems running smoothly. They also have a lot of vitamin C-- bring on the antioxidant benefits!

As you know, I love yams. And Thai food. So naturally........

Thai Yam & Snap Pea Salad
Serves 6

2 lbs yams, cut into 1/2" cubes
2 cups sugar snap peas, stemmed and cut into 1/2" piece
1/2 cup sliced green onion or scallion
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
Olive oil (in a spray)

1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 Tbsp sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, pressed and finely minced
2 Tbsp Thai chili garlic sauce
1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place yam chunks in a large baking dish and spray lightly with olive oil. Toss to coat. Bake for ~20 minutes, until softened (but not mushy). Remove from oven and cool completely.

Place all dressing ingredients into a small food processor and mix until smooth.

Place cooled yams into a large bowl and add snap peas, onions, cilantro, and dressing. Toss gently to coat, then cover and place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours prior to serving.

Nutrition Info per ~1 cup: 173 calories, 1.5 g fat, 4 g protein, 33 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber