Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Well the crops are a-changin!


As you can see, I have a lot of veggies to prep this week! Four heads of lettuce, kale, garlic, turnips, beets, Russet potatoes, peas, and a ton of garlic scapes to cut and freeze. A friend just shared a garlic scape pesto recipe with me which I am very excited to try out. I definitely have enough to experiment with!

Here is the recipe if you would like to give it a try!

‎8oz of scapes cut in 1 inch pieces
Process them with 1 cup of olive oil
2 cups parmesan cheese, and
1/2 cup lemon juice

I’m going to try it out in the next couple of days. I will let you know how it turns out!

Anyone out there have a home garden they are tending to this summer? How are they coming? I picked my first four tomatoes from my tomato plants yesterday. They are so delicious!

So you just came home from a killer Bootcamp class. You are sweaty. You are tired. Most of all, you are hungry! Here is a yummy and easy recipe for one of my favorite after-workout snacks. These are protein bars, and they are homemade. Store bought protein bars are okay in a pinch, but not only are they are highly processed, they also are full of refined sugars and high in calories. This is a healthier (and tastier) alternative!

Dry ingredients
2 cups Old Fashioned Oats
1 cup chocolate whey protein powder (I use Pure Protein brand. It is low in sugars and calories and super yummy!)
1 cup cranberries
1 cup almonds slivered
1/4 cup cinnamon

Wet ingredients
1/4 cup applesauce unsweetened
1/4 cup dk choc chips unsweetened
1/2 cup pb (or almond butter)
1/4 c honey
1/4 c almond milk
2 tbsp vanilla extract

Combine and microwave wet ingredients in the microwave 30 seconds. Stir. If not combined completely, microwave again and stir.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Incorporate wet ingredients into the dry ones. Press into a lightly greased 8×12 baking dish. Freeze for 20 min. Cut into bars. Store in freezer.

After making this recipe a bunch of times I have perfected the method some. The mixture is very gooey when all complete and sticks to everything. I stick my hand in a ziplock baggie and spray it with oil. I use this to pat down the mixture into the pan.

You MUST freeze this for 20 minutes before cutting. It is just a bloody mess if you try to rush it. Also, if you happen to forget about the pan in the freezer before you cut them up for storage (this may or may not have happened to me a few times), just pull the pan out and let it sit on your counter for 5-10 minutes until it thaws out some.

I hope you try these! They really are good and they are fantastic for you too! Lots of protein to repair those muscles!!!!

Most of the time I am cooking two meals. And no I am not bothered by this at all. I cook a lot of rice, beans, veggies, homemade soups, veggies, fish and veggies 😉 for my hubby and me for dinner. My kids are not into these foods so much. I am not a “food pusher”. I don’t make my kids eat a plateful of something that makes them gag. I don’t want them to dread dinner time, I want them to look forward to it!

We have a “one bite rule” for new foods. We all must try new things, at least one bite. Sometimes I win and they love it, sometimes they dry heave. Either way, I always make sure that they know that I am happy they tried a new food and if they aren’t impressed with my culinary efforts, I assure them that I will cook the same food in a different way the next time that they try it.
And then they get to happily eat the food that makes their mouths and tummies happy.

I have been compiling a “go to” list of “kid-friendly-and-approved” (emphasis on the “and-approved”, as I have realized that just because a recipe claims to be kid-friendly, does NOT mean that my kids will eat it…).

On the top of the list is this recipe for two reasons. 1) My kids LOVE them, and 2) They are easy to make up in large batches and freeze ahead of time.

These nuggets are also pink slime free 😉

Baked Chicken Nuggets

16 oz (2 large) skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into even bit sized pieces
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp olive oil
6 tbsp whole wheat Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
2 tbsp panko
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
olive oil spray

Preheat oven to 425°. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil spray.

Put the olive oil in one bowl and the breadcrumbs, panko and parmesan cheese in another.

Season chicken with salt and pepper, then put in the bowl with the olive oil and mix well so the olive oil evenly coats all of the chicken.

Put a few chunks of chicken at a time into the breadcrumb mixture to coat, then on the baking sheet. Lightly spray the top with olive oil spray then bake 8 – 10 minutes. Turn over then cook another 4 – 5 minutes or until cooked though.

My kids have been bugging me for hot pretzels. I haven’t bought them in a very long time, as the list of ingredients on the package is just enormous. Up until recently I have been able to distract and redirect my kiddos appetites toward other, less processed treats. This week however, they were relentless, which led me to use the good ol’ Google machine. To my surprise I found a recipe for homemade hot pretzels. To add to this surprise I was shocked to find out that only five ingredients are required!

They are amazing. Delicious. WAY better than the frozen variety. We each ate one straight out of the oven, because that is the best time to eat anything. I then kept the rest in a Ziplock baggie on the counter, expecting that they would not last the week and warrant space in the freezer. I was correct.

Soft Pretzel Recipe

1 1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon yeast
2 tablespoons honey
Dissolve in water and let sit for 10 minutes

Then add:

1 teaspoon salt
4 cups flour
Mix thoroughly and knead for 5 minutes. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.

After rising, roll pieces into ropes and shape as desired. Dip ropes in a baking soda water solution of 2 cups warm water and 2 tablespoons baking soda. Place on a greased or parchment lined cookie sheet and let rise again for 1 hour. Bake in oven at 450 degrees for 10 minutes or less (until pretzels begin to turn brown and are cooked through).

I wish I took pictures of my finished product… as I learned that next time I will make the ropes thinner. There was a lot of rising and therefore my pretzels were more like pretzel rolls – still delicious though.

The image above is from the site that I got the recipe from, one of my favorites Super Healthy Kids

My kids LOVE mac n’ cheese and I severely despise of the dozens of unpronounceable ingredients listed on the back of the over-recognizable blue box found on grocery store shelves and pantry shelves across the nation. So I have been making a homemade version of this convenience version of the ever popular comfort food that I think everyone secretly loves. The best part about my version of mac n cheese is that it is just as easy to make and takes only as long as it would take you to crack open that little blue box and rip into that vacuum sealed pouch of orange powdery something….

Try this recipe out the next time you need some quick mac n’ cheese! I guarantee you will love it!

Whole Wheat Mac N’Cheese

INGREDIENTS

1 – 1 ½ cups of dried whole-wheat macaroni noodles, boiled according to package directions
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
1 cup milk
1 cup grated cheese (you can use any type of cheese…we usually use sharp white cheddar or a mix of different cheeses works well too)
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional topping: grated parmesan cheese or whole-wheat breadcrumbs
DIRECTIONS

Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat.
Whisk in the flour and keep whisking for about 1 – 2 minutes until the roux (which is equal parts flour and butter or oil) starts to darken, but does not burn.
Turn the heat down to low and quickly whisk in the milk. Turn the heat back up to medium and keep whisking until the mixture starts to thicken and all lumps of flour are dissolved.
Stir in the grated cheese and once it melts mix in the cooked noodles. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve immediately and enjoy!

I do not encourage you to eat the entire pot of cheesy goodness, though it definitely tastes good enough to do so. It is cheese and butter and milk… all are high in calories BUT, if you are looking for mac n’ cheese for dinner, this recipe, with all of its pronounceable and identifiable ingredients, this is by far a better option than the blue box version.

1 lb 93% lean beef (I used a half cup of soy-based meat replacement and mixed that with a half cup of lean ground chicken)
3 cloves garlic
1/2 onion
1 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
3 medium zucchini, sliced 1/8″ thick
15 oz fat free ricotta (I used about 6 oz only and I thought it was plenty)
16 oz reduced fat mozzarella cheese, shredded (I didn’t use the entire block of mozz either, maybe 3/4)
1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano – totally omitted this….
1 large egg

On a gas grill or in the broiler, grill zucchini on each side, until cooked, about 1-2 minutes per side.

In a medium sauce pan, brown meat and season with salt. When cooked drain in colander to remove any fat. Add olive oil to the pan and saute garlic and onions about 2 minutes. Return the meat to the pan, add tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper. Simmer on low for at least 30-40minutes, covered. Do not add extra water, the sauce should be thick.

Meanwhile, slice zucchini into 1/8″ thick slices, add salt and set aside or 10 minutes. Zucchini has a lot of water when cooked, salting it takes out a lot of moisture. After 10 minutes, blot excess moisture with a paper towel.

In a medium bowl mix ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese and egg. Stir well.
Preheat oven to 350°.

In a 9×12 casserole spread some sauce on the bottom and layer the zucchini to cover. Then place some of the ricotta cheese mixture, then top with the mozzarella cheese and repeat the process until all your ingredients are used up. Top with sauce and mozzarella and cover with foil.

I have to add here that I included a thick layer of spinach throughout the whole thing, because, well – why not?

Bake 45 minutes covered at 375°, then uncovered 15 minutes. Let stand about 5 – 10 minutes before serving.

Was yummy and delicious and devoured!


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Sounds like a great FREEBIE to me!
🙂


So, it is a new year and you are on your way to bettering your health, life, family, etc. by choosing healthy foods and sticking to a regular workout routine. You are super psyched to start and I am right there with you!

I personally have a difficult time logging what I eat and what my family eats. I know it is one of the most important, if not THE most important, things to do in order to achieve and maintain a truly healthy diet and lifestyle. Research has shown repeatedly that the simple action of recording a meal into a journal, notebook, Word document, etc, over and over again causes a positive change in the food choices that we make. It is that easy, but I find it overwhelming. I have five bazillion things to each day for my family and myself, I don’t have the time write down the fact that ate half of an orange, a bowl of oatmeal and a cup of coffee with cream and sugar. Up until now I have just mentally logged it and moved on. BUT, I say, this is not good enough for me for 2012. My healthy year will begin with me not only recording the foods I eat, but keeping track of the amount of primary macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats) that I eat on a daily basis. Knowing my own caloric needs for my average level of physical activity each day and combining that with my dietary goals for the new year, I know that I want to have a diet that (on average) is high in proteins and low in fats and carbohydrates. To find out where you need to be focused as far as your own diet goes, I suggest talking to your doctor or a nutritionist, as each person is different. I like to throw around words and “studies” but the reality is, I am just some girl who enjoys reading articles on the internet and magazines and am in no way qualified to tell you what to eat. I do believe that a few things are accepted as general knowledge and I try to focus on these points. For instance, you are better off grabbing a banana or low-fat yogurt for a snack than, say, a bag of chips or a milkshake. I think we can all agree on that.

Now where to begin. How do I figure out how much protein is in a cup of yogurt?? What if I don’t have the actual cup with the list of ingredients in front of me? How do I analyze a recipe without having to Google foods at nauseum on the internet? No worries! I have solutions for you! Oh how I love technology 🙂

If you haven’t read my blog about Lose It! then you really should. This is a great FREE website that allows you to record the foods that you eat. If you have a smartphone there is FREE Lose It! app that allows you to scan barcodes and record your foods on the go. Love it. Check out my blog about it here. ‘Nuf said 😉

Another great FREE site that is just priceless when it comes to keeping track of what you are feeding your body is called Calorie Count. This site is powered by About.com. It is similar to Lose It, by way of creating a user account, logging in, and recording your foods and exercise for the day. It also has a smartphone app that can be downloaded free to your phone. What sets Calorie Count apart is its ability to break down the foods you eat even more than just telling you how many calories you have consumed in a day. It will break down the amount of proteins, fats, carbs, etc. for you as well. If you have high blood pressure and must watch your sodium level, this site will tell you how much sodium you have consumed. It is super easy to use and I find it to be very helpful when it comes to keeping myself on track.

My favorite feature of the site is the recipe log. If you are at all like me, you have sat down a few times with a new recipe from a cookbook or magazine. It looks healthy, the author claims it is healthy, but who knows how healthy it actually is. Recipes can have 20+ ingredients and I am not going to spend the time looking each and every ingredient up on the web and then try to fit them all into my daily nutritional needs. That would be exhausting, not to mention a huge buzz kill for my “New Year, New Me” resolution.

To use the Recipe Log, go to Calorie Count site and create a user account. It’s free and they don’t ask for any personal information other than an email address and zip code.

Once you have an account and are logged in, click on the Food Log tab, or just click the link here.

This is a picture of the recipe for Vegetable Chili that I am making

Type in the ingredients to the recipe or foods that you are planning to make, including the amounts and how many servings you are planning to make.

Then click on the “Analyze Recipe” button and you will see a screen that looks something like this.

My Vegetable Chili recipe turned out to be about 487 calories per serving. I can see under the Nutritional Analysis (click on the image to enlarge it) that it is low in saturated fat, has no cholesterol, and is a good source of fiber and a number of vitamins and minerals. There is also a letter score next to each ingredient that rates its nutritional “grade” as one would get a grade on a report card. I can see that lowest graded ingredient listed is the canned plum tomatoes. I am able to click on that particular item further to see it’s break down of nutrition. When I do that, this is what I see.

The tomatoes called for in the recipe are canned. Canned tomatoes are great for you in many ways but all canned food contains high amounts of sodium. This is the reason the score is lower. I personally don’t have any medical issues to restrict sodium, so, if this is the worst part of this recipe, to me… the good outweighs the bad. If you are watching sodium, you could further change your recipe to include fresh chopped tomatoes or choose a low-sodium variety of canned.

After going through this step by step, it may seem like a lot to do, but really, the worst part is typing in all of the ingredients. Once you do that, it is as easy as clicking here and there to read the nutritional scores. You can save recipes so you don’t have to retype it the next time you want to make it and add it into your daily menu. What you will likely find is that you eat the same things over and over again 70-80% of the time. Humans are creatures of habit. I have about 4 different breakfast items I circulate through depending on my mood. Once those favorite foods are logged in, it will becomes easier to plan daily menus.

I am in love with this site. It really makes my life easier in regards to balancing my nutrients. I have found that I don’t eat enough fat in my diet on a day to day basis. Never would have discovered that on my own.

I went through a lot here! Let me know what you think if you decide to test it out. I think it is a fun tool and very handy for figuring out the nutritional values of new recipes. If you have any questions let me know and I will do my best to answer them for you.

Happy meal planning!

Homemade Yogurt

Posted: November 14, 2011 in Nutrition, Recipes
Tags: , , , ,

So, I am always looking for little ways to keep my family eating heathy foods without having to pin them down and shovel vegetables in their mouths (this is mostly in regards to my youngest, and most headstrong son). This week I am going to try to make me some homemade yogurt! We go through a LOT of yogurt in my house and yogurt can be expensive, especially when you want to purchase organic brands that aren’t all hopped up with sugar.

As I was searching, I came across a site that has a wonderful variety of organically based, delicious recipes. The site is called Keeper of the Home and I encourage you to check it out!

Here is the recipe I will be attempting to make this week:
Homemade Yogurt Recipe
I will let you know how it turns out!