Sunday, November 13, 2011

Mini Flourless Espresso Chocolate Cupcakes


For you chocolate lovers, this is the best chocolate rush in a mini cupcake that I have ever eaten. The cupcake is so rich and moist that you will be happy to eat just one or two. Every once in awhile it is ok to indulge in your favorite decadent dessert. Of course, mine is the magical force of chocolate. Those times I just satisfy my sweet tooth and then I get back on track with healthy eating the next day. If you like chocolate, you have to try this easy recipe!

Ingredients:

4 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 stick unsalted butter
2/3 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons espresso instant powder , intensifies the flavor of
         chocolate without adding fat
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

Directions:

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat 2 (12 cup mini muffin tins) with cooking spray.

Combine chocolate and butter in a microwave safe glass bowl and microwave for 1 minute on high. Stir until melted. Whisk in sugar, vanilla extract and espresso powder. Whisk in eggs until well combined. Sift cocoa over top and whisk until smooth.

Divide batter among prepared pans and bake until cakes have risen. Bake 10 to 12 minutes. Cool in pans on rack 10 minutes. Carefully remove cakes and cool on rack. Dust with confectioners' sugar. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Rich Chocolate Cake and Chocolate Frosting



Oh, moist chocolate cake with rich, luscious chocolate frosting, what a great dessert at anytime. This is such an easy recipe. All of the cake ingredients, you can put in a large bowl and use a  hand or standing mixer to mix the batter. This is not what you would call a healthy cake, but Fall is on its way and we need to celebrate! Death by chocolate is the only way to go, and I know you will drool over this cake! Adapted from
Foodess



Ingredients for cake:

2 cups white sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup hot coffee (or 2 teaspoons instant coffee in 1 cup boiling water, or just 1 cup boiling water)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour two 9-inch baking pans very well and set aside. In a large bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Add eggs, buttermilk, melted butter, and vanilla with a hand mixer, beat 2 minutes on medium speed. Stir in hot coffee. Pour batter evenly between the two pans and bake on middle rack of oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 5 minutes on wire rack and then remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

Ingredients for frosting:

1/2 cup butter, melted
2/3 cups Hershey's cocoa
3 cups Confectioners sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

In a large, deep bowl, stir together melted butter and cocoa. Alternating, add sugar and milk, beating with a hand mixer on medium speed to spreading consistency. Add more milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla.


Assemble cake:

On a cake dish put first layer of cake and icing the top and sides of cake. Then place the second layer on top of the first cake and finish icing the top and sides of the cake. Enjoy!


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Cheesey Stuffed Shells


Stuff shells what a treat! This is one of my favorite recipes. I love Italian food and I could eat pasta all the time. Actually this pasta has a low Glycemic Index, which means it doesn't raise your blood sugar and low GI foods are digested more slowly.They stay in the digested system longer and help to naturally satisfy hunger. So, eating a delicious meal that includes pasta can be one of your healthful alternatives. If you wanted to half this recipe for the meat sauce and filling, it would be easy to do.

Ingredients for meat sauce:

1 lb ground sirloin (97% fat free)
1 lb Italian turkey sausage, removed from casing
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (28 oz) can San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes
1 (28 oz) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup dry red wine
10 fresh Basil leaves, julienned (cut into thin strips)

Directions:

In a large sauce pan, pour the olive oil and saute' onions for 5 minutes and add the garlic, cook 1 minute and add the ground sirloin and sausage. Break up the meat with a large spoon to make crumbled meat. Add the whole tomatoes and juice and crush the tomatoes with a potato masher and then add the tomato sauce and red wine. Mix thoroughly. Add the Basil leaves and simmer for 1 hour.

Ingredients for the filling:

1 (12 oz) box Mueller's jumbo shells
2 eggs
2 containers (15 oz) each low-fat Ricotta cheese
2 clove garlic, minced
2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 small can chopped black olives
1/4 cup fresh Basil leaves, julienned




Directions:

In a large pot, boil water and add salt to taste. Add pasta and boil for 13 minutes. Drain and lay each shell on a piece of wax paper. Preheat oven 400 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, beat eggs, stir in Ricotta, garlic, 1 cup Mozzarella, Parmesan, black olives and basil.
Spoon about 1 tablespoon of cheese mixture into each shell. In a 13x9-inch baking dish, spoon some meat sauce on the bottom of dish and arrange the filled shells. Top with more meat sauce and sprinkle with 1 cup Mozzarella cheese. Cover with aluminum foil.
Bake for 45 minutes until the sauce is bubbly. If there is any meat sauce left over, put in a container and freeze for another meal. Enjoy!






Friday, September 23, 2011

Healthy Carrot Cake


As you can see, this carrot cake goes as quickly as you make it. It tastes like it is full of calories but it is the low-fat version of the real thing. It is loaded with carrots, crushed pineapple in its own juice and to ensure the cake is moist, nonfat buttermilk is used in this recipe. Also, there is no butter in the frosting, I used reduced-fat cream cheese and it is still light, smooth and tasty.

Ingredients for cake:

1 (20 oz) can crushed pineapple in its own juice
2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup nonfat buttermilk, (no buttermilk? mix 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup nonfat milk)
1/2 cup organic canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups grated carrots, (4-6 medium)
1/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, lightly brown until fragrant, 2-5 minutes)

Directions for cake:

Preheat oven 350 degrees F. Coat 2 (9-inch) cake pans with cooking spray.
Drain pineapple in a sieve set over a bowl, pressing on the solids. Reserve the drained pineapple and 1/4 cup of the juice.
Whisk flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Whisk eggs, sugar, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and the 1/4 cup pineapple juice in a large bowl until blended. Stir in pineapple, carrots and coconut. Add the dry ingredients and mix with a rubber spatula just until blended. Stir in nuts. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans, spreading evenly.
Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes on a wire rack and then invert cakes and remove from pans. Finish cooling on a wire rack.

Ingredients for frosting:

12 oz reduced- fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions for frosting:

Beat cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.

To finish cake, on a pedestal cake dish put the first layer of cake and icing top and sides. Next put the second layer on top of the first and finish icing the top and sides of cake. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Easy Italian Vegetable Soup to Bring in the Fall



This vegetable soup is so easy to put together and it can be ready to serve in 30 minutes. It is a one dish meal with lots of heart healthy vegetables and canellini beans for protein and fiber.

Ingredients:

1 (15 oz) can canellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 large red onion, diced
2  medium carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
32 oz low-sodium chicken stock or vegetable stock
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
9 oz bag fresh baby spinach leaves
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Directions:

In a small bowl mash half of the beans with a fork and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add, onion, carrots, celery, zucchini, garlic, thyme, sage, salt and pepper and cook stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

Add the stock and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add the mashed and whole beans and the spinach leaves and reduce heat and simmer, about 20 minutes.

Serve topped with Parmesan. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Coconut Cake with Pineapple Filling



This was our family's traditional birthday cake that my mother made for us every year. It is a three layer yellow, moist cake with thick pineapple filling and seven-minute icing with sweet shredded coconut spread all over the cake. I created a cookbook with all of my mother's recipes and here is a taste of one of the recipes. It is yummy!

Ingredients for cake:

3 cups cake flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cups white sugar
½ cup butter, softened
3 eggs, beaten, room temperature
1 ¼ cups whole milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract



Directions:

Preheat oven 375 degrees F. Butter and flour three 9-inch cake pans and set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar, add beaten eggs, milk, and vanilla and use a hand mixer to blend together. Add flour mixture in three batches, using mixer to incorporate all ingredients.

Pour evenly into the prepared cake pans and bake for 25 minutes. Use a toothpick to make sure cake is done. Remove from oven and cool on rack 5 minutes and invert cake onto rack to finish cooling.


Ingredients for Pineapple filling:

½ cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon butter
1 (20 oz) can crushed pineapple in its own juice (do not drain)
Dash salt

Directions:
Combine ingredients, cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thick and clear. Cool before using.

Ingredients for Seven-Minute Icing:

1 ½ cups sugar
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup water
2 egg whites
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

Directions:
Place sugar, cream of tartar, salt, water and egg whites in the top of a double boiler. Beat with a hand mixer for 1 minute. Place pan over boiling water, being sure that the boiling water does not touch the bottom of the top pan. (If this happens, it could cause your frosting to become grainy). Beat constantly on high speed with mixer for 7 minutes. Beat in vanilla.

Assemble the cakes:

Directions:

Take a pedestal cake dish and put first layer of cake, spread half of the pineapple filling, take second layer cake and put on top first layer and spread with other half of filling, take third cake and place on top second layer and start icing around the sides of the cake. Put the rest of the icing on top of cake and make big swirls for a nice finish. Take sweetened shredded coconut and immediately put around the sides and on top of cake before the icing dries. Enjoy! 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Ravioli with Tomato Basil Sauce


If you like ravioli and you don't like to buy the frozen processed kind with the additives that are a mile long. This would be the recipe to try, because it is very easy and not time consuming. The dough is simple and you don't have to knead it or use a mixer with a dough hook. The filling you should use whole milk ricotta to prevent it from being watery and the recipe has Parmesan cheese, fresh basil and garlic that gives the filling lots of flavor. The tomato sauce is easy and it has fresh garlic, onions and basil, which makes it tasty.
Adapted from Giada from the Cooking Channel

Ingredients:

Dough:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 cup very hot water (microwave for 1 1/2 minutes)

Filling:

3/4 cup whole milk ricotta
1 large egg
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Sauce:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 (28 oz) can of tomato sauce
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves

Directions:

For the sauce, in a medium sauce pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes longer. Add the remaining ingredients and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 30 minutes.

For the dough, in a large bowl combine the flour and the water. Using a wooden spoon, stir to combine onto a large ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 10 minutes.

For the filling, combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl and stir to combine.

To form the ravioli, cut the dough into 4 evenly sized pieces. The dough should be slightly sticky. Add extra flour as necessary for rolling, but use only a little as necessary. Form each piece into a 2 by 6-inch rectangle. Recover the dough with the plastic wrap.



Lightly dust the work surface and a rolling pin. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, roll the dough into a 4 by 16-inch rectangle. Place 6 rounded teaspoons of filling about 1-inch apart down the center of the dough. Fold the dough over the filling. Press down around the edges of each of the ravioli with your fingertips. Cut the ravioli with any 2 1/2-inch round cutter and press down around the edges again with the prongs of a fork to seal. Place the finished ravioli on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. After forming all the ravioli, cover with plastic wrap and put in refrigerator until ready to cook.




Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add half the ravioli and cook until the ravioli float, stirring occasionally, about 3 to 4 minutes. Drain into a large dish and cook the remaining ravioli.

Once the sauce is done, spoon over the ravioli. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Chicken Piccata with Whole Grain Penne Pasta


Chicken is a staple that can be made into a spectacular healthy dish. This recipe has some flavourful ingredients, like onion, garlic, capers and white wine of your choice. Also, the whole grain penne pasta is an excellent source of fiber. It has a great taste and it complements the chicken mixture. This recipe makes 4 servings.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound chicken breast tenders, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 cup chicken stock
3 tablespoons capers, drained
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1/2 pound whole grain penne pasta, cooked to al dente

Directions:

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and the chicken to the pan. Season chicken with thyme, salt and pepper. Brown chicken until lightly golden all over, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove chicken from pan and reduce heat to medium. Add another tablespoon olive oil, onions, garlic, and mushrooms to the skillet. Saute for 4 minutes. Add flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in wine and reduce liquid 1 minute. Whisk lemon juice and stock into sauce. Stir in capers and parsley. When the liquid comes to a bubble, add chicken back to the pan and  reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes. Toss hot pasta with chicken and sauce and serve. Enjoy!


Friday, August 26, 2011

Greek Style Shrimp Scampi with Pasta and Asparagus


Here is another quick one dish meal that can be prepared any night of the week. It has some great flavors to add to the taste of the shrimp, like kalamata olives, white wine, and  feta cheese. Just remember to prep your ingredients before hand and while the pasta  and asparagus is cooking, you can quickly put together the shrimp mixture. This recipe can make 4 servings.

Ingredients:

1/2 pound spaghetti
sea salt
1 pound medium to large shrimp deveined and peeled, tails removed
black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
couple pinches red pepper flakes
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Handful pitted kalamata olives, chopped
1/2 cup white wine, (or chicken broth)
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 cup feta cheese crumbles
1 ladle of starchy pasta cooking water

Directions:

Place a large pot of water on stove to boil. Salt water and cook pasta per directions on box and the last 6 minutes add the asparagus.



While the pasta water comes to a boil, heat olive oil in a deep skillet with garlic about 2 minutes. Add shrimp and season with black pepper cook about 4 minutes.


Add red pepper flakes, lemon juice, oregano, olives, wine, and parsley and cook together about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add a ladle of starchy pasta cooking water to shrimp sauce and stir to combine. Drain the pasta and asparagus and add to skillet. Let pasta and asparagus soak in the juices for a minute then toss with the feta cheese. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Healthy Chicken Pot Pie With A Crunchy Brown Rice Topper


I am always looking for a one-dish meal for dinner with a side salad and this chicken pot pie recipe sounded like a quick and easy meal to put together. It is also heart healthy by using brown rice for the topping instead of the traditional pie crust. It has lots of vegetables and chicken and whole wheat flour is used to thicken the sauce. This dish has a great flavor and it is very filling. It is a nice change for a middle of the week supper to get you through to the weekend. Adapted from Whole Foods.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 rib of celery, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 cup skim milk
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables

Directions:

Preheat oven 400 degrees F. Lightly oil a 9-inch pie dish and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil on medium high heat. Add chicken, 1 teaspoon of thyme, poultry seasoning, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook and stir until no longer pink about 5 minutes. Add the other tablespoon of oil, celery and onion and cook until just tender about 6 minutes. Add flour and stir constantly for 1 minute. Add broth and stir to get brown pieces off bottom of pan and then add milk. Stir well and reduce heat to medium low and simmer until thick, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine rice, cheese, 1/2 teaspoon of thyme and paprika.
Stir mixed vegetables into the chicken mixture then season with salt and pepper and transfer to pie dish.




Scatter the rice mixture evenly over the top then arrange the dish on a baking sheet to catch any drips. Bake until bubbly and the crust is crisp about 30 minutes. Enjoy! We did!!









Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sugar-Free Banana Walnut Muffins


This muffin is made with real ripe bananas which gives it plenty of sweetness and by adding cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and some raisins, you really don't need any sugar. But if you do have a sweet tooth, you could add 1/4 cup of your favorite sweetener, such as white or brown sugar, or palm sugar. This is a very quick muffin recipe to put together and it is loaded with healthy ingredients like whole wheat pastry flour, ground flax seed and heart healthy walnuts. Adapted from Spoonful of Sugar-Free

Ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup milk substitute (I used almond milk, but soy, rice, cow's is ok)
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (or canola, vegetable, coconut) (fat-free version use unsweetened applesauce)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pan with 8 liners.
In a medium bowl, blend together the flour, flax seed, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, walnuts and raisins. In a large bowl, with a wire whisk, mix bananas, milk, oil or applesauce, and vanilla. Mix the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients. With an ice cream scoop fill each muffin liner to the rim. Bake for 25 minutes. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Healthy Chocolate Cake with Cashew Ganache



In this recipe, I am using my free products from Swanson Health. Swanson is a family owned business since 1969. It has a wide variety of products from organic foods to natural beauty products. They have the lowest prices on the Internet and there customer service is the best. You can return products up to 1 year later, no questions asked. The products are worth trying, check it out!
 Are you interested in getting some free Swanson Health Products goodies to review on your own blog? Then check out the Swanson Health Blog for all the details.                                                                    
I decided to make a luscious chocolate cake with ganache with my free products from Swanson Health. Though the ganache is so creamy and silky rich, I might just eat it and ignore the cake!
In the cake batter, I used the whole wheat pastry flour, which provides a finer texture, lower gluten and fiber. This flour is by Bob Red Mill and is 100% whole wheat and it is freshly milled and it contains all the wheat berry's healthy and natural elements. The palm sugar is high in nutrients and it doesn't spike your blood sugar. This palm sugar is organic by Sweet Tree and it is derived from coconut palm blossoms and it is a healthy alternative to processed sugar. In the ganache, I used the whole raw cashews, which is low in saturated fat and a good source of fiber, iron and zinc. Swanson sells these cashews in a 12 oz. bag for NOW Foods and they are organic and reasonably priced. The agave nectar which is a good alternative to processed sugar and artificial sweeteners is by Swanson and it is 100% certified organic which means it is guaranteed free of all chemicals and preservatives. Really enjoyed using Swanson Health Products in my recipes. The pricing is excellent and  they make ordering on line so easy.  Try Swanson, you will be very satisfied! Adapted from Womens Health Magazine.

 Ingredients for the ganache:

1/2 cup unsalted raw cashews
4 oz dark chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons agave nectar


Ingredients for the cake:

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup palm sugar
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1 cup strongly brewed coffee, cooled to room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Place cashews in a bowl, cover with water and soak for 2 hours.



Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a Bundt pan with organic cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking power, cinnamon and salt.



In a separate bowl, with a wire whisk beat egg. Mix in sugar, oil, coffee and vanilla.



Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and mix until no dry flour remains. Pour batter into pan.



Bake for 22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan.



While the cake is baking, put cashews in a blender and add enough water that the cashews were soaking in to cover them. Process until smooth. In a small saucepan, combine cashew cream, chocolate and agave nectar. Cook over low heat until chocolate is completely melted, stirring often. Serve cake topped with cashew ganache and frozen vanilla yogurt. Enjoy!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Swanson Health Products

I just received a box of goodies from Swanson Health! They sent me Whole Wheat Pastry Flour, Garbanzo Bean Flour, Whole Raw Cashews, Whole Medjool Dates, Agave Nectar and Palm Sugar.


I am looking forward in trying all of these products with some new recipes. What I love about Swanson is their enormous variety of products and there prices are very reasonable. Also, there shipping is always $4.99, so buying extra doesn't mean shipping goes up.

Are you interested in getting some free Swanson Health Products goodies to review on your own blog? Then check out the Swanson Health Blog for all the details.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Healthy No Bake Cookies



This was an easy no bake oatmeal chocolate chip cookie that was done in a pot on the stove with not a lot of effort. Also, I used coconut palm sugar that is high in nutrients and it doesn't raise your blood sugar. The texture of the cookie is very chewy and between the dark chocolate chips and cocoa powder, it had a perfect amount of a heavenly chocolate flavor. Adapted from: Imperfectly Healthy

Ingredients:

1/4 cup baked sweet potato
1/4 cup milk (I used almond milk)
3/4 cup coconut palm sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions:

In a medium sauce pan, warm the sweet potato, milk, sugar, and cocoa and using a wire whisk stir well and then add peanut butter and vanilla, mix well. With a large spoon, stir in oatmeal, flax seed and chocolate chips.
On a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, drop a teaspoon of dough on the cookie sheet. Refrigerate for 30 minutes until hard. Enjoy!





Sunday, July 17, 2011

No Bake Dark Chocolate Dough Balls



This is such an easy no bake sweet dessert and the dark chocolate, dates and nuts makes it rich and crunchy. This is definitely a raw dessert with no butter or flour or eggs. This recipe makes 12 servings. Adapted from Oh She Glows


Ingredients:

1/2 cup raw almonds
12 Medjool dates (1 cup packed and pitted)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (65% cacao)
1/4 cup organic shredded unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup chopped walnuts


Directions:

In a food processor, add the almonds and process until a fine crumb. Be sure not to over process and release the oils too much.
Now add in the dates and process until chunky. Add in the rest of the ingredients (except walnuts) and process until a dough forms. Pulse in walnuts so they remain chunky.
Add a bit more liquid sweetener if dough is too dry.
Form into 1-inch balls with a small ice cream scoop. Store in refrigerator or freezer. If they stay around long enough. Enjoy!



Sunday, July 10, 2011

Corn and Salsa Chicken Bundles


This is an easy, quick meal that can be whipped up in 30 minutes. I used chicken cutlets but you can use fish and it would be even faster. I used creole seasoning and a thick and chunky tomato salsa that really spiced up the chicken. This would be a great middle of the week or anytime entree.

Ingredients:

4 (12x18-inches each) heavy duty aluminum foil
4 chicken cutlets
1 cup thick and chunky salsa
1 package (10oz.) frozen organic white corn, microwave according to package instructions
1 teaspoon creole seasoning

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Center one chicken cutlet on each sheet of aluminum foil and sprinkle the chicken with creole seasoning. Spoon salsa over chicken and top with corn.
Bring up foil sides. Double fold top and ends to seal bundle, leaving room for heat circulation inside. Repeat to make 4 bundles. Place bundles on cookie sheet.
Bake 18 to 22 minutes. Enjoy!






Sunday, July 3, 2011

Old - Fashion Potato Salad for the 4th of July



Can't forget potato salad for the 4th of July! This potato salad is very creamy and flavorful because of the low-fat mayonnaise mixture. I made this salad the old-fashion way with dill pickle relish, eggs and mustard. It is very tasty and it would definitely go with anything grilled.
Happy 4th of July!     Independence Day for all!

Ingredients:

2 pounds small red potatoes, scrubbed
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon organic canola oil
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/3 cup red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons dill pickle relish, drained
3 hard-boiled large eggs, chopped
1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise
1/4 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:

Place potatoes in a saucepan, and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes or until tender. Drain. Cool and do not peel. Cut potatoes into 1/2-inch cubes. Place potatoes in a large bowl; sprinkle with vinegar and oil. Add celery, onion, pickle relish and eggs; toss gently.

Combine mayonnaise, yogurt, mustard, salt and pepper. Spoon mayonnaise mixture over potato mixture; toss gently to coat. Cover and chill 3 hours or overnight. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bread for The 4th of July


Nothing could be better then peanut butter and chocolate to celebrate the 4th. This recipe makes mini loaves of bread, so you can give as a little gift if you are having a party or just enjoy one mini loaf at a time for yourself. This is a quick bread recipe, and just enough chocolate to make it satisfying. Of course, you can add as much chocolate chips you want. Yummo!

Ingredients:

1 2/3 cups whole grain pastry flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar or coconut palm sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup peanut butter
5 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup skim milk
1 large egg, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven 375 degrees F. Butter five 5 3/4x3 1/4x2-inch mini loaf pans.
In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In medium bowl, whisk peanut butter and butter until smooth. Whisk in milk, egg, and vanilla until blended. Make a well in center of flour mixture; add
milk mixture and stir until just combined, Stir in chocolate chips.
Spoon batter into prepared pans and spread evenly. Make sure you hit the bottom of the pans on counter top to get air bubbles out of the batter. Place the 5 mini loaves on a baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center of bread comes out clean.
Remove from oven and place on wire rack. Cool for 10 minutes before removing breads from pan; finish cooling on rack. Enjoy!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Zucchini Bread




This zucchini bread is so moist and flavorful because of the cinnamon and nutmeg. It would make a great quick breakfast by toasting the bread and use your favorite spread. I found this recipe at the Whole Foods website but of course I made a few changes. I substituted coconut palm sugar for sugar in the recipe and added more cinnamon. It turned out so yummy! Adapted from...
WholeFoods Recipe

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups whole grain pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 egg
1/3 cup organic canola oil
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tablespoons nonfat plain Greek yogurt
3/4 cup coconut palm sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup grated zucchini, if real watery squeeze zucchini with paper towel
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 5.25x9x2.75 glass loaf pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a medium bowl, whisk egg, oil, applesauce, yogurt, sugar and vanilla. Add liquid mixture to flour mixture and stir until well combined. Fold in zucchini and walnuts and pour into prepared glass loaf pan. Bake 50 to 60 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Remove from oven and set on wire rack and cool in loaf pan for 30 minutes. Then remove from pan and finish cooling on wire rack. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Foods That Help Lower Cholesterol



Here are some eating strategies to help lower cholesterol. The LDL is the "bad guy" that we need to lower and the HDL is the "good guy" that we need to maintain to prevent heart attack and stroke.
So, good choices in eating cholesterol-lowering foods and an exercise plan can help.

  1. Start your morning with a bowl of  oats that can lower LDL cholesterol that has beta glucan, a substance in oats that absorbs LDL, which your body then excretes. Recipe: Blueberry Almond Oatmeal
  2. Tempranillo red grapes are used to make certain red wines like Rioja, from certain studies shows that it can lower LDL levels. If red wine is something you don't drink, try eating red grapes. Recipe:Red Wine Chicken with Garlic
  3. Salmon and fatty fish like sardines and herring has omega-3 fats that can prevent heart disease and replacing saturated fats with omega-3 fats can raise good cholesterol to your benefit. Recipe:Penne w/salmon & roasted vegetables
  4. Certain nuts like walnuts, almonds and cashews can lower your LDL but they are high in calories, so practice portion control about 1.5 ounces of nuts a day. Recipe:Maple raisin yogurt w/walnuts
  5. Beans, such as black, kidney and pinto are good for your heart because of the fiber, which has been shown to slow the rate and amount of absorption of cholesterol in certain foods. Recipe:Black bean chili
  6. White tea is a great defense against LDL cholesterol levels and black tea can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Try drinking tea more often then coffee. Recipe:Tea frosty
  7. Ah, sweet chocolate is a powerful antioxidant that helps build HDL cholesterol levels. Remember to choose dark chocolate, it has 3 times more antioxidants then milk chocolate. Recipe:Chocolate dipped strawberries
  8. Butter is high in unhealthy fat, so you would need to switch to a margarine with plant sterols, such as Promise activ or Benecol, to help lower cholesterol. Plant sterols are compounds that reduce cholesterol absorption. Recipe:Whipped sweet potatoes
  9. Green leafy vegetable such as spinach contains lots of lutein which protects the eyes from macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness. Also, spinach guards against heart disease and keeps cholesterol levels normal. Recipe:Spinach orange salad
  10. Avocados are a good source of monounsaturated fat, a good fat that helps cholesterol. Since avocados are high in calories and good fat, use in moderation. Recipe:Mexican chicken avocado soup
  11. Garlic is found to lower cholesterol, prevent blood clots, reduces blood pressure and protect against infections. Try for 2 to 4 fresh cloves a day in recipes. Recipe:Ginger & garlic green beans w/red bell pepper
  12. Olive oil is full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, which lowers LDL bad cholesterol and it can trim belly fat.  Use it to make salad dressings, marinate chicken and fish, or roast vegetables. Recipe:Scallop asparagus linguine
All of this helpful info came from  Prevention Magazine and recipes that can get you started on a healthy lifestyle adapted from below website.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Muffins


Chocolate and peanut butter what a great combination. When I saw this recipe, I knew I had to get busy and bake some muffins. I used coconut palm sugar instead of sugar to prevent a spike in your blood sugar and all whole grain pastry flour for more fiber. This muffin would be tasty with coffee or latte for an afternoon break to give you a little pick-me-up. I found this recipe at:

Ingredients:

1/2 cup whole grain organic pastry flour
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt, omit if using salted peanut butter
2 tablespoons organic canola oil
1/4 cup organic peanut butter
1/3 cup coconut palm sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup strongly brewed coffee, cooled

For topping:
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat oven 350 degrees F and line or grease six muffin tins.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt (omit if using salted peanut butter.
In a small bowl, mix together with a whisk oil, peanut butter, sugar. Then add the egg, vanilla, and coffee, whisk again to combine.
Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined.
Fill muffin cups 2/3 of the way full.
Combine the topping in a small bowl until incorporated.
Top each muffin with 1 teaspoon of this mixture.
Bake 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Allow to cool before removing from tin. Enjoy!











Saturday, June 18, 2011

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins



Since it is blueberry season, I found a muffin recipe that really tastes moist and flavorful. It is made with whole grain pastry flour, applesauce, and oats which gives you quit a bit of fiber and heart healthy blueberries that are full of vitamin C and fiber. This muffin would be a great breakfast boost to get through the morning. I did make a few changes, I used more cinnamon and coconut palm sugar instead of brown sugar. I also added 1 cup blueberries to the 3/4 cup in the original recipe. The original recipe is found at website:
JOY THE BAKER

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups whole grain pastry flour
1 1/4 cups old fashion oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
2 tablespoons organic canola oil
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat oven 375 degrees F. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners.

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, baking power, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In a medium bowl, combine applesauce, buttermilk, sugar, oil, and egg. Make a well in dry ingredients and add applesauce mixture. Stir just until combined. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Makes 12 to 15 muffins.
Bake 18-20 minutes. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Healthy Banana Muffins


This is muffin uses ripe bananas instead of eggs as the binder. They are moist, slightly sweet, and full of nutritious ingredients. I found this recipe at a website called Veganbaking .net where you can share your ideas, post desserts, get the latest vegan baking news, and find delicious foods. Of course I changed some of the ingredients but for the original recipe go to:
VEGAN BAKING

Ingredients:

2 cups organic whole grain pastry flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar (great for diabetics has low glycemic index)
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1/2 cups walnuts, roughly chopped and toast in small pan on stove for 4 minutes until fragrant
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
1 1/4 cups vegan milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
1/4 cup organic canola oil

Directions:

Preheat oven 375 degrees and put cupcake liners in a 12-cup muffin tin and set aside.
In a med bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, flax seed, walnuts, and cinnamon.
In a large bowl, take a fork and mash the bananas, add the milk and oil. Next, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, with a large spoon stir to incorporate. Do not over mix. Use an ice scream scoop to put the batter in each cupcake liner. This will ensure each muffin will be the same size. Bake for 20 minutes and test with a toothpick to see if done. Remove from oven and place on wire rack and cool in muffin tin for 5 minutes, then remove from tin and place muffins on wire rack to finish cooling. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Pecan Sandie Cookies


Pecan sandies are one of my favorite cookies and I found a recipe at elanaspantry.com that satisfied my sweet tooth. I used almond meal flour to her almond flour because that is all I had and I used unsalted butter to her salted butter. I do like to control my salt intake. It was an easy recipe. You can get her recipe at:
Elana's Pantry

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups almond meal flour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
5 tablespoons agave nectar or honey
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Prepare 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl combine flour, salt, baking soda and pecans. In a smaller bowl, mix together agave or honey, butter and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into dry. 
Place dough in the center of one of the lined baking sheets and form into a large log approximately 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Cover log with plastic wrap and put in freezer for 1 hour or until firm, unwrap and cut into 1/8 inch thick slices. Place slices on the lined baking sheets.
Bake at 350 degrees until golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool about 5 minutes then remove from baking sheet and place on rack to finish cooling. Enjoy!

Eating Habits, Then and Now

In my  profile, I only explained how I changed my eating habits 30 years ago, but here is a little history of my background growing up in an Italian family that every time you turn around you were eating some kind of delicious food, laden with high fat. Boy, it was good stuff!

Above is a picture of my Mom holding my grandbaby, Callie. This picture was taken back in Apirl, 2011, when we visited my family in West Virginia. Callie is the 4th generation born to our family, she is 6 months in this picture and my Mom just turned 83 years old.

When I was growing up my Grandma lived with us and she was always in the kitchen baking or cooking something that was tasty. The best dinner was on Sunday, after church my Mom and Grandma would start making our Italian supper that consisted of meatballs and meat sauce, pasta, fried chicken, Italian bread and salad. The meatballs were unbelievable scrumptious because of the ingredients which included ground chuck, homemade breadcrumbs, soaked Italian bread in milk, eggs, garlic, fresh basil, fresh grated Romano cheese, salt, and pepper. She would mix the ingredients altogether and roll into meatballs and fry in about two inches of Crisco vegetable shortening. Next, she'd drop the meatballs into the meat sauce, she had prepared before church. The sauce was simmering on the stove with oil floating on top of the meat sauce and the aroma from the garlic and fresh basil was heavenly. My Grandma use to say, " the oil flavored the sauce, so don't skim it off with a spoon" and boy did it. I use to love Sundays at our house!

Of course, my Grandma handed down all her recipes to my Mom and now my sister that leaves in Virginia and me have the recipes. I am going to try and put together a keepsake recipe book of all the family recipes, so we can hand them down to our children. Hopefully, they will use the recipes only at holiday time, because they will be full of fat and high calories. Yum!

This is just an example of how I ate then. Now that I am older and my metabolism has slowed down. I had to improve my eating habits to healthy foods such as whole grains, vegetables and chicken or fish. I know routines are difficult to alter, yet one's quality of life can improve with better eating habits.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Magic Cookies

I am always looking for new cookie recipes and I found one at a website called Sweet Potato Soul. The cook is Jenne` Claiborne and she loves sweet potatoes. Of course, I will be changing a few things in the recipe but if you want the original recipe got to the link:
Sweet Potato Soul

This recipe has a little bit of everything from bananas, coconut, oats, pecans, and of course a sweet potato. This cookie has a variety of flavors that you will want to make more then once. Jenne` cooks vegetarian and healthy and offers gluten free recipes. So, check out her website.

Ingredients:

2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup maple syrup

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
2/3 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
1/2 cup pecans, chopped and toasted
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4 cup sweet potato packed tightly, peeled and shredded
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips (add up to 1/2 cup if you like)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl mash the bananas. Add vanilla, butter, and maple syrup, mix well.
In a separate bowl, combine oats, coconut, pecans, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and combine. Slowing stir the sweet potato into oat mixture making sure to break up all of the clumps.

Stir this mixture into the wet mixture, then fold in the chocolate chips. Dampen your hands and spoon 2 tablespoons of the batter into your palm. Shape into balls and place on cookie sheet and press them to flatten a little. Bake for 15 minutes and remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes before moving the cookies to a wire rack.  Enjoy!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Orange-Pistachio Wild Rice Salad


Since it has been so warm, I am always looking for cool summer salads to eat. I found an easy salad from Ellie Kriger on the Cooking Channel. It has brown and wild rice which is full of fiber and nutrition. This salad has orange slices for your Vitamin C and crunchy pistachios that is one of the lower calorie nuts.
The fresh basil leaves and the red onion together with the orange really brought out the flavor of the salad.
Her dressing had to much red wine vinegar, so I cut back on the vinegar and added more orange juice, which definitely helped the dressing. This recipe makes 6 servings.

Ingredients:

2/3 cup brown rice
2/3 cup wild rice
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 orange, peel and pith removed, segmented and sliced (about 2/3 cup)
10 large basil leaves, sliced into ribbons (about 1/3 cup)
1/4 cup minced red onion
4 tablespoons chopped pistachios, lightly toasted
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

For the dressing:

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Combine brown rice, wild rice and broth in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until all water is evaporated and the rice is fully cooked, about 45 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely.

When rice is cool, add orange slices, basil, red onion, pistachios, and orange zest, mix to combine.

Combine the red wine vinegar, olive oil, orange juice, mustard, honey, and salt in a bowl and whisk to incorporate.

Pour over rice mixture and toss. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cinnamon Bun Recipe



This is a healthy cinnamon bun recipe from elanaspantry.com. It is gluten free and dairy free for sensitive people and it has the best cinnamon taste, it is like your eating the real fattening cinnamon bun but low-fat. This would be a perfect quick breakfast or afternoon snack and it was easy to make.

I changed the recipe by adding 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon to the muffin mixture and I used almond meal flour instead of blanched almond meal, which didn't seem to change the texture of the muffin. For Elana's recipe go to Elana's Pantry  to get the original ingredients.

Ingredients:

Cinnamon Topping
2 tablespoons agave nectar or honey
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil

Muffin Mixture
1 cup almond meal flour
2 tablespoons coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
1/4 cup agave nectar or honey
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven 350 degrees. Put 8 paper muffin liners in a muffin pan and set aside.

To make cinnamon topping, combine agave or honey, cinnamon, and oil in a small bowl and set aside.

To make muffin mixture, combine almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large bowl with a whisk whip together oil, agave or honey, eggs and vanilla. Blend dry ingredients into the wet and scoop 1/4 cup at a time into lined muffin cups. Spoon topping onto muffins.
Bake muffins for 16 minutes and then test with a wooden toothpick to see if done. Let muffins cool in pan for 5 minutes, then remove to wire rack to completely cool. Enjoy!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Low-Fat Chicken Salad


Chicken salad is one of my all time go to meals and since I leave in warm climate, it is a refreshing meal to fix for lunch or anytime. I poach the chicken breasts which keeps it moist and juicy, so you'll need less dressing to stick to the salad. This recipe will make 3 servings but you can double the recipe to make more. I like to put the chicken salad on a bed of romaine lettuce.

Ingredients:

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups water
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
1/4 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped celery
1/3 cup red seedless grapes, sliced in half
1/3 cup roughly chopped walnuts, toasted (take small saute pan and toast until fragrant about 4 minutes)
Romaine lettuce

Directions:

Place chicken breasts in a medium pot and add water, make sure the water covers the chicken. Add the seasoning, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low to simmer, partly cover for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and allow chicken to stay in the hot water for 20 minutes. Remove from water and take two forks and shred the chicken and set aside.

In a large bowl add mayonnaise, yogurt, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, honey, salt and pepper. Stir with a whisk to combine. Add the chicken, celery, grapes, walnuts. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Serve on a bed of romaine lettuce. Enjoy!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Vegetable Pizza with Feta Cheese

It's Friday night and it is time for pizza. So, I decided to make a vegetable pizza. It is low in calories and it has good nutrition. I used already sliced crimini mushrooms that have an earthy flavor and firmer texture almost like a meat. Mushrooms are very low in sodium and fat and excellent source of potassium which makes this vegetable heart healthy. I added grape tomatoes and red onion both are rich in antioxidants and they are an anti- inflammatory food that help the immune system fight infection. I used fresh pizza dough from the grocery store to save time in preparing the pizza. The dough needs to be at room temperature before shaping. It will take 2 hours to get to room temperature.

Ingredients:

1/2 pound bag fresh pizza dough
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 pound fresh crimini mushrooms, sliced
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1/2 cup fresh baby spinach
6 fresh basil leaves, torn
salt and pepper to taste
2 ounces feta cheese, cubed

Directions:

Preheat oven 475 degrees. Take a cookie sheet and spread 1 tablespoon of yellow cornmeal on sheet to prevent the pizza from sticking.

In a medium non-stick pan, on medium heat put oil in pan and saute onions about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and salt, pepper, thyme and cook about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, spinach, basil, and salt and pepper and cook about 3 minutes. Set aside.

On a floured surface, with a rolling pin roll dough out until all the air bubbles are out and it does not have to be perfectly round. My dough ended up kind of oval shape. Put dough on prepared cookie sheet and drizzle a little olive oil on the dough and take a pastry brush and brush the oil all over the dough. The oil will prevent the dough from getting soggy from the vegetables. Pour the vegetable mixture on top of the dough and spread it out with a spoon. Sprinkle the feta cubes all over the vegetables.

Bake 475 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cut into desired pieces. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Romaine Salad with Fresh Corn and Goat Cheese Dressing

Spring is a good season for fresh corn that you can buy at the farmers market for a small price. The farmers market is a good place to buy fresh vegetables and fruits for a low cost and you don't have to deal with a middle man like the grocery store where the vegetables and fruits would have to travel a long way on a truck that might take a few days to get to their destination. So, the freshness is just not the same and the price could be higher. 

Fresh corn has a good source of nutritional value like vitamin B1 (thiamin) that maintains the memory, good dietary fiber, folate that is a B vitamin which is heart healthy, vitamin c, and  B5 (pantothenic acid) which helps when you are under stress it helps support the function of the adrenal glands.

I have a  recipe for a light Spring salad that can be made with raw fresh corn and the taste of the sweet corn makes the salad mouth watering. You have to take the kernels off the cob in a bowl with a knife and set aside which is pictured below. This recipe will serve 4 people.



Ingredients:

Salad:

2 ears of fresh corn, remove corn from cob
2 Romaine Hearts, cut bite size pieces
2 carrots, sliced
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
4 pitted Medjool Dates, sliced
1 cup chick peas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped (in a small pan on low cook walnuts about 5 to 7 minutes, until fragrant)

Dressing:

4 ounces goat cheese, softened
2 tablespoons low- fat buttermilk
1 teaspoon agave nectar or honey
1 teaspoon white vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

In a large bowl put chopped romaine, add carrots, dates, chick peas, tomatoes, walnuts, and corn.

For the dressing put all ingredients in a food processor or blender and mix until smooth and pour over salad. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Homemade Granola

I like granola cereal in the morning, but I could never find a cereal that has the ingredients that I like, without having some kind of a preservative in the cereal that was unhealthy. I finally found a recipe from Ellie Kriger on the Food Network that I would like to share with you. The only thing different I did was to put 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to her 1/4 teaspoon. I like a cinnamon taste to my cereals and cinnamon is loaded with healthy benefits like lowering the bad LDL cholesterol, it has an anti-clotting effect on the blood, it can help relief arthritis pain, and when you smell cinnamon it can boost your memory. It is definitely a beneficial spice to add to your recipes.

Ingredients:

3 cups old-fashioned oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup roughly chopped unsalted walnuts
1/2 cup roughly chopped unsalted pecans
1/2 cup raw, whole almonds
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup maple syrup

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl combine the oats, salt, cinnamon, nuts, raisins, and syrup. Spread the mixture onto the baking sheet and bake until golden brown about 30 minutes. Transfer the sheet to a cooling rack and let cool completely. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Makes 9 (1/2 cup) servings.  Enjoy!

Spinach Baked Squares

I am always looking for a good vegetable side dish for dinner. I found a website called elanaspantry.com that actually specializes in gluten free recipes. She has all kinds of recipes from breakfast, to snacks, to dinner recipes. I would definitely check her site out for new recipes. Her recipe is called Spinach Cake and she uses fresh spinach and a lot of it to get 12 servings and she uses grapeseed oil which is a heart healthy oil, but if you do not have grapeseed oil you can use extra virgin olive oil. Of course, I took the short cut and used frozen chopped spinach. It is still a healthy way to get your family to eat spinach. So, I am going to give you my version of this side dish. You can cut this recipe in half to make only 6 servings. If you want her version of this recipe go to Elana's Pantry 

Ingredients:

2 (10oz) packages of frozen chopped spinach
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil or extra virgin olive oil
1 cup pine nuts
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup raisins
1 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:
Take 1 tablespoon of butter and grease a 9 x 9 inch glass baking dish and set aside.
Use package directions to microwave the frozen spinach. Drain and cool, then use paper towels to squeeze the water out of the spinach. In a small skillet, warm the oil, add the pine nuts and saute until golden brown. Add the minced garlic and saute for a minute. In a large bowl, combine spinach, pine nuts mixture, eggs, raisins, and salt, Spread mixture into the glass baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 or 30 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes and cut into 12 squares. Enjoy!