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.


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


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.


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


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.


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


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.



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)


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.


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


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 


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

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!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Shepherd's Pie - Lighter Version

I like to cook low-fat versions of different recipes and Ellie Krieger from the Cooking Channel has a healthy recipe for Shepherd's Pie. Traditionally this is a comfort food dish with lots of calories but in her recipe she uses 90% lean ground beef and I found a lean ground beef that is 93% lean or you can use ground chicken or turkey breast if you don't eat red meat. If you substitute chicken or turkey breast, you would need to use chicken broth for the liquid instead of beef broth.
The bottom layer of the pie has quite a few vegetables like onions, carrots, mushrooms, and peas that add nutrition to the recipe. The top of the pie is suppose to be all mashed potatoes but to lower the calories, half potatoes and half cauliflower was used, and no one will never Know!


1 pound lean ground beef (93% lean)
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 medium carrots, diced
1 pound white mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup low-sodium beef broth
1 teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste
1 cup frozen peas
1 1/2 pounds Yukon gold or creamery potatoes
1 small head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), cut into florets
2/3 cup 1 percent low fat milk
2 tablespoons butter


First Salt and pepper the meat and in a large nonstick skillet cook the meat over medium heat, until brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer the meat to a plate. Drain any fat remaining in the skillet.

Heat the oil in the same skillet over a medium heat. Add the onions and carrots and cook, covered, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Raise the heat to moderately-high. Add the mushrooms and thyme and cook, uncovered, until the mushrooms are soft and their liquid has evaporated, about 8 minutes longer. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Return the meat to the pan. Stir in the broth, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper and bring to a simmer being sure to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the peas. Pour the mixture into a shallow baking dish (about 11 by 9 inches).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Scrub the potatoes and cut into 2 inch pieces. In a large pot cover the potatoes with water about 2 inches above the potatoes. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Add the cauliflower and cook until the vegetables are tender when pierced with a knife, about 15 minutes longer. Drain the vegetables and put back into the pot and mash with a potato masher until smooth. Heat the milk, butter, 1/2 teaspoons of salt and a pinch of pepper and stir into the potato mixture.

Spread the potato mixture on top of the meat and bake until heated through, about 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Stuffed Zucchini Shells

I like to make a nutritious recipe that doesn't take up time and has fresh taste and flavor. The key is to prep all the vegetables before you start with the recipe. Rachael Ray from the Food Channel always manages to come up with some quick meals and she uses fresh herbs, like basil leaves and flat-leaf parsley to help season different dishes. In this recipe, I changed  the white bread to whole wheat bread to add more fiber and texture to the recipe because the mushrooms and the zucchini flesh in this recipe can make the filling for the zucchini shells to watery and the whole wheat bread helps to make the filling drier. This recipe can be a good side dish with a meat entree or it can be a meal with just a salad.


4 small zucchini, about 6-inches long
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus a little to drizzle on the zucchini boats
12 button mushrooms, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 slices whole wheat bread
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped
3/4 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 egg, beaten


Heat the oven to 425 degrees.

Halve 4 of the small zucchini lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and soft center flesh with a spoon and arrange the shells in a baking dish. Reserve the center flesh in a small bowl. Drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Chop the reserve zucchini flesh and set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and saute mushrooms, onions, and garlic for 5 minutes. Add the reserved zucchini and tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, to taste and heat through for 1 minute, then remove from heat.

Toast the bread in a toaster, then spread with butter and tear into pieces. Add the bread to a food processor along with the parsley, and basil, and pulse into herb crumbs.

Fold the herb crumbs into the veggies along with 1/2 cup parmesan and the egg. Mound the zucchini stuffing in to the shells and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle the tops with remaining 1/4 cup cheese and bake for 3 minutes to brown. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Almond Biscotti

I love baking, so my next task was to attempt to make biscottis. So, I took a cooking class with Chef Gina Stipo from Tuscany. She tours all over the US every year and she came to Jacksonville this past February and I took the class. It was a four course meal and the dessert was biscottis.  The Italian name for a biscotti is cantucci and these cookies are traditionally eaten after dinner dipped into Vin Santo, a Tuscan dessert wine. I like a biscotti with an espresso or an after dinner drink like an Amaretto, it is an Italian liqueur and it has an almond flavor. You are suppose to dip the cookie in whatever you are drinking.

Of course when the Chef made the dough for the biscotti, it looked easy, and the cookie tasted great, especially if you like almonds. I tried the recipe but added almond extract instead of the zest of an orange or lemon. The only trouble I had with the dough, it was a little dry, so I added about two tablespoons of water and it formed into the dough. Then after I baked the cookies  for the second time and let them cool, I dipped about 12 cookies in melted dark chocolate*. I could have eaten all 12, but resisted, I guess I'll eat one a day until they are gone.


3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
zest of 1 orange or lemon ( or 1 teaspoon almond extract)
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
3 eggs
1 cup sliced almonds (or whole raw almonds)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

 In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt, make a well in the center and add the butter, eggs, and zest or almond extract. Mix with a fork and combine well, pulling the dough together into a ball. Knead in the almonds. The dough should be rather stiff and dry, not too moist and sticky. If to sticky, add a small amount of additional flour.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board, dust the dough and coat your hands with flour, then form it into three logs, 1 inch wide and 1 inch high. Place the logs on the baking sheet and bake 40 minutes.

The logs are done when they are medium brown in color and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and turn onto a board. Cut each log on a slight diagonal into individual cookies, about 1 inch wide, and return to the baking sheets. bake an additional 20 minutes at 300 degrees. Take out of oven and cool on a cookie rack.

*If you decide to dip the biscotti in any type of chocolate (milk or dark) take a cup of chips and microwave for 1 minute, take out and stir. Dip each biscotti and place on cookie sheet lined with wax paper and put in refrigerator for the chocolate to harden. Enjoy!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Double Dark Chocolate Brownies

This recipe is for anyone that loves chocolate. Basically, this is a healthy version of a brownie recipe. I picked this recipe for the Mom's out there, we all need a break once in awhile and I thought this dessert would do it. So, Happy Mother's Day to all the Mom's.
This luscious brownie has half the calories and fat of normal versions. It has non-fat Greek yogurt and  healthy canola oil instead of butter and the star is antioxidant rich dark chocolate, which makes this dessert a smart decadent indulgence.


8 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup whole grain pastry flour
1/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
4 large eggs
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts
2/3 cup dark chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9 x 13inch baking pan with butter.

Melt the chopped chocolate and butter in a glass bowl in the microwave after 1 minute stir with a spatula and then put back in the microwave for 1 more minute, take out stir and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda, and chocolate chips.

In a large bowl whisk the eggs and sugar until smooth. Add the yogurt, oil, and vanilla and whisk to combine. Add the chocolate mixture and whisk until blended. Add the flour mixture and mix until just moistened.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and sprinkle with nuts. Bake for 25 minutes, until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. Cut into 24 squares.  Enjoy!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sweet Potato Raisin Scones

This recipe is sugar free for the visitors that are watching their sugar intake. It is helpful to your body to cut back on sugar to prevent obesity and diabetes. To much sugar raises your glycemic index which can increase unhealthy blood levels of fat and cholesterol and high blood pressure. I have come up with a delicious scone recipe that you can make without sugar.
The sweetness in this recipe comes from the sweet potato and the spices which gives an amazing flavor to the scones and by adding your favorite spread like low-fat cream cheese or peanut butter it will help enhance the taste. The scones can be a quick breakfast and it will give you an energy boost  to get you through the morning.


2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
2 teaspoons cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted cold butter cut in small cubes
3/4 cup mashed sweet potato
1/2 cup raisins
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce *
1/4 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt


Preheat oven to 425 Degrees and prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a large food processor combine the flour, spices, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Pulse to mix. Add the cubed butter and pulse 5 times to break up the butter. Add the sweet potato, and raisins. Pulse to mix. Then pour in the vanilla, applesauce, and yogurt. Pulse 4 times just until the dough is wet.

Put some pastry flour on a work surface and turn the dough out on the surface, again the dough will be wet. Put some flour on top of the dough and shape into a thick rectangle. Use a 3 inch wide coffee cup or biscuit cutter to cut out 6 scones.

Place scones on cookie sheet and bake for 12 minutes until lightly brown. Remove from oven and cool about 10 minutes and transfer scones to a rack. Enjoy!

* Measure applesauce in a liquid measuring cup.