Friday, October 14, 2011

Meal Plan - 10/14 - 10/21

We did a really good job sticking with our meal plan last week. We didn't make the poppyseed chicken on Thursday as I went to a Pampered Chef party at a friend's house and left Paul and Finley to fend for themselves. (I think Kraft may have helped with dinner that night ;) )

I took a few pictures of some of the recipes I tried last week and will hope to get them up this week.

This upcoming week has a few days to work around. We have small group on Sunday night so I will try to make a potluck dish for that night. Monday consists of me being gone from 7:30 am - 10:30 pm so that results in no prepared dinner. Paul is also gone until 9:30 pm on Mondays as well.

Friday: Out to eat!!! (First time in over a month!)

Saturday: Poppyseed chicken, brown rice and vegetable

Sunday: Some kind of broccoli dish, still need to find the recipe

Monday: No dinner

Tuesday: Marinated pork chops and baked beans

Wednesday: Breakfast

Thursday: Pasta primavera

What's on your meal plan?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Meal Plan - 10/7 - 10/13

New game plan.

Life has been CRAZY lately. Work is super busy. I'm teaching a course as an adjunct instructor at a local university. Track season is in full swing. I'm still nursing my plantar fascitis. Ugh...

One thing has remained constant. Meal Planning.

Meal planning has become my sanity in these crazy times. It what keeps relatively meals showing up on our table, preventing us from eating out very much and helps me feel prepared instead of frazzled when I get home from work.

My new game plan is to share my meal plan for the upcoming week each Thursday/Friday. I usually put together my meal plan for Friday - Thursday on Thursday night. Then I go grocery shopping on Friday for the ingredients I need. I will share recipes for foods that I find from the internet. Up this week:

Hancock Mac-n-Cheese (post to come!)

Chicken Caesar Sandwiches on French Bread

Going to the inlaws for dinner!

No cook night - I'm teaching, husband works late.

Beef Tacos

Breakfast Sandwiches with pearsauce

Poppyseed Chicken with brown rice and broccoli.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Homemade spaghetti sauce

It's been a CRAZY couple of weeks. School has started with fall practices for my husband, I have a couple big projects I'm working on at work, I've been crafting like a crazy lady for my etsy shop and for a local kid's boutique and I'm preparing to teach a night course at a local college on wellness. Needless to say, something had to go by the wayside. The blog drew the short straw.

I've still been cooking healthfully, just not venturing out and trying a bunch of new recipes. Instead, I've been sticking with the old standby's which I've probably already featured on the blog.

One staple in our household is pasta. Since our little vegetable garden gave us a few tomatoes (supplemented with fresh local tomatoes from the farm stand around the corner), I decided to try canning spaghetti sauce for the first time this year. Fresh canned spaghetti sauce is great because I control the seasoning as well as the salt and sugar. Jarred sauce can be pretty high in salt and sugar so I was able to keep them to a minimum. I didn't try any fancy recipes, just this basic one from

What are you canning this year?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bourbon Chicken and Broccoli

Not every recipe has to be a total revamp. I want the recipe to still taste like the original recipe intended... just slightly better for me. When I came across Mel's Bourbon Chicken, it looked delicious and fit into my meal plan perfectly. I just wanted to "health" it up slightly.

As originally posted, Mel's recipe provides:

295 calories
10.9 g fat
14.7 g carbohydrate
0.1 g fiber
35.8 g protein

Not too bad. I reduced the amount of chicken used and replaced it with 2 cups frozen broccoli. I also decreased the oil by half. The result not only effected the macronutrients but micronutrients as well! The addition of broccoli made the Vitamin C content go from 3.4% to 48% BONUS!

Bourbon Chicken and Broccoli

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 Tbsp olive oil
cornstarch for dusting

1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 c. apple juice
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup lite soy sauce
2 cups frozen broccoli florets

Cut chicken breasts into bite sized pieces. Dust lightly with cornstarch. Heat oil in wok and cook chicken in batches in batches until lightly browned on all sides. Drain on paper towels and set aside.

In a bowl, combine remaining ingredients except for broccoli. Pour into wok and bring to a boil. Add chicken bits back to the pan, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add broccoli florets. Simmer 2-3 more minutes or until broccoli is thoroughly heated. Serve on fried brown rice, if desired.

Makes 6 servings. Per serving:
222 calories
6.0 g fat
16.3 g carbohydrate
1.0 g fiber
28.0 g protein

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fried Brown Rice

Lately I've been someone a fan of Mel's Kitchen Cafe. Every recipe on her site looks super tasty to me. And they are generally healthy as well so I don't usually have much alteration to do - BONUS!

A few weeks ago she posted some AWESOME meal planning menus which I glanced at a last week while making my own meal plan. I noticed the baked brown rice recipe and was intrigued - I have never made brown rice that way. So I thought, why not?

I was making an Asian inspired recipe (more tomorrow) and thought that I could try the baked brown rice, spice it up a bit and turn it into fried rice. Now I know that fried rice isn't the healthiest creation ever BUT I tried to add extra vegetables to the rice. In my mind, the more the vegetables take up space on my plate, the less rice I actually put on my plate. It works in theory!

Fried Brown Rice

1 1/2 cups brown rice
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup lite soy sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8x8 inch baking pan. Place the rice in the prepared pan and pour in chicken broth. Stir to equally distribute the rice. Cover tightly with a double layer of aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for five minutes before removing the aluminum foil and fluffing with a fork. Adjust the baking time if there is still left over cooking liquid or if it is too dried out. Set aside.

Preheat olive oil in wok or large skillet. Over medium heat, cook onions and carrots 2-3 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add garlic and cook one more minute. Add rice and turn up the heat to medium-high. Stir regularly to slightly brown the rice and coat in the olive oil and vegetables. Add frozen peas and soy sauce. Cook 2 - 3 minutes longer or until peas are hot.

Makes 8 servings (1/2 cup).

Per serving:
87.9 calories 3.9 g fat 12.0 g carbohydrate 1.5 g fiber 1.9 g protein

Monday, August 22, 2011

Lunch Wraps

A few weeks ago we had a Kids Health Day at work. Instead of having Take Your Child to Work Day back in the spring, my company held out until the beginning of August for a big Kids Work Day event. The kids could choose a bunch of different classes that they could take. We had Smoothies 101, Healthy Snacking, Kids Kickboxing, Fun Fitness Testing, Yoga, Scavenger Hunts, Chemistry experiments, etc. I taught Kids In The Kitchen. I talked about the basics of the 5 food groups and had the kids make veggie wraps and home made trail mix.

Well... we had a bunch of leftover veggie wrap ingredients and my coworker and I went to town on that food for the following week. They hit the spot so much so that I made sure to have the ingredients on hand for future wraps for lunch. They have been my go-to lunch for over two weeks now.

Here's what my wrap had:

Whole wheat tortilla (La Tortilla Factory would be awesome here)
1 Tbsp cream cheese or hummus
Protein: Black beans or turkey lunch meat
Veggies: carrots, peppers, cucumbers, spinach

Here are some other options to include:
shredded cheese
diced grilled chicken
sunflower seeds
What would you put in your wrap?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Creamy Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

I think I need to work on my food photography skills....but it sure tastes good!!!

Feeding Finley as been quite the learning experience. She is a *little* independent and has NEVER let us feed her baby food or put utensils up to her mouth. She has wanted to do it all on her own. So the challenge has been to find foods that our toothless darling can eat. We were amazed at the way should could put down steamed broccoli, peas, even grilled chicken without any teeth.

In the last week, two little teeth have just begun to break the surface of her lower gums and it has opened up a whole new world of eating for our little darling. I'm not a big fan of having special foods just for the baby, instead I try to just feed her what we are having for dinner. I was SUPER surprised when she gobbled up this enchilada recipe. The tortillas were a bit too difficult for her to manuver without full teeth but she gobbled up the chicken and black bean filling. Now I know that spicy food is right up her alley (although this dish isn't too spicy, just a little kick from the chiles).

The original recipe is from Mel's Kitchen Cafe. I like it because all of the ingredients are things that I typically keep on hand. These enchiladas are jam packed! So I said that it makes 6 servings, which would be 1.5 enchiladas per person. The original recipe would provide:
723 calories
40.5 g fat
55.3 g carbohydrate
6.4 g fiber
35 g protein

I made a few basic changes like using reduced fat cream cheese and sour cream. I also only sprinkled the top with a 1/2 cup cheddar, instead of putting a few tablespoons of Monterey Jack in each enchilada plus cheese on top. I also substituted good old La Tortilla Factory Low Carb tortillas.

This recipe would be great for doubling and freezing or just halving and freezing, depending on your family size. I will definitely be making it again!!!

Creamy Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

3 cups cooked chicken, shredded
2 (4 oz) cans green chiles
1 pkg reduced fat cream cheese
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp light margarine
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 Tbsp flour
1/3 c. chicken broth
1/4 c. skim milk
1 can (7 oz) green chile enchilada sauce
1/2 c. reduced fat sour cream
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
8 La Tortilla Factory tortillas

Preheat oven to 375. In a medium bowl, combine softened cream cheese and green chiles. Mix well. Add the chicken and black beans. Mix to combine, set aside.

In a large nonstick skillet, melt the margarine over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens and starts to turn translucent, about 2-4 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir well. Cook for 1 minute until all the flour is cooked and nutty. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and milk. As you whisk and the mixture cooks, the flour will get less lumpy around the onions and the mixture will become smooth. Cook over medium heat until the mixture is bubbling and has thickened. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the enchilada sauce and sour cream.

Spray a 9x13 inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Spread about 1/4 cup of the sauce on the bottom of the dish. Fill each tortilla with about 1/2 cup of the chicken mixture. Roll the tortillas up and place seam side down on the prepared baking dish.

Pour the white sauce over the top of the enchiladas. Top with shredded cheese. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the enchiladas are bubbling, hot and lightly browned. Top with chopped cilantro, if desired.

Makes 6 servings:
620 calories 26 g fat 67 g carbohydrate 15.7 g fiber 37.3 g protein

Friday, August 12, 2011

From my mama's kitchen...

I consider my mom to be a good cook (Are you reading this mom?). She always makes relatively healthy meals and does a great job entertaining a crowd when all the kids, spouses and grandkids come to their house for special occasions.

A few weeks ago, we went to my mom's house to have a joint summer birthday party. My dad was turning 60 and we were celebrating the 3rd birthday of my niece and an early 1st birthday for Finley. She wanted a special cake and asked a friend for her "Strawberry Cheesecake Torte" recipe. Turns out it is an old Pampered Chef recipe - you know, the kind that tries to convince you to buy all their special items. Well, even without the special items it turned out delicious. I couldn't find the original recipe on the Pampered Chef website but there were several ways to make this a bit healthier.

Strawberry Cheesecake Torte

1 package (16 oz) pound cake mix (plus ingredients to make cake, low fat version)
1/2 cup water
1 package sugar free strawberry gelatin
1/4 cup seedless strawberry jam
1 lemon
1 package reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup cold skim milk
1 container (12 oz) lite frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 pkg (3.4 oz) cheesecake instant pudding and pie filling
1 kiwi, peeled, sliced and halved
1 cup hulled and sliced strawberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Prepare cake mix to low fat package directions (usually using egg whites, decreasing oil, etc). Pour into pan, spreading evenly. Bake 15-18 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean: Cool 10 minutes. Carefully lift cake out of pan and onto cooling rack. Allow to cool completely.

In a microwave safe container, microwave water on high for 1-2 minutes or until boiling. Add sugar free gelatin; stir until dissolved. Add jam; whisk until smooth. Invert cake onto large cutting board. Prick cake at 1/2 inch intervals with a toothpick or fork. Brush cake evenly with all but 2 Tbsp of the gelatin mixture. Trim 1/4 inch around edge of cake and discard edges. Cut cake crosswise into 3 equal layers.

Zest lemon; set zest aside. Juice lemon to measure 2 Tbsp juice. In medium bowl, combine cream cheese and lemon juice; whisk until smooth. Add milk; whisk until smooth. Spoon whipped topping over cream cheese mixture (Do not mix). Sprinkle with pudding mix: mix well (Mixture will be thick).

Place one layer of the cake onto serving platter. Place a little less than half of the cream mixture on cake layer and spread evenly. Top with second cake layer and repeat cream mixture leaving behind enough cream mixture to pipe a border. Top with third layer, pipe a decorative border around edge. Spread any remaining filling down center.

Arrange kiwi on top of cake. Place strawberries and reserved gelatin mixture in small bowl. Mix gently. Spoon berries over top of cake and sprinkle with remaining lemon zest.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Lazy Cucumber Salad

This has been my go-to dish of the summer 2011. I made it for a pool party a few weeks ago and then again when my parents were staying with Finley while the husband and I went camping with friends. I originally got the recipe from Real Mom Kitchen. But I made it even simpler. Instead of using fresh dill, I use bottled dressing - my favorite Kraft's Greek Vinaigrette. I figured it has dill in it so, close enough :)

Lazy Cucumber Salad

3 medium sized cucumbers, sliced into half moons
1 large tomato, diced
1/2 large red onion, diced
3/4 cup Kraft Greek Vinaigrette

Mix together all ingredients. Cover and let sit in refrigerator a few hours before serving. Keeps well for several days and great for leftovers!!!

Makes about 9 servings. Per serving: 80.5 calories 5.5 g fat 7.1 g carbohydrate 1.2 g fiber 1.0 g protein

Monday, August 1, 2011

Black Bean Corn Salsa

Apparently I'm on a Mexican kick lately. I think that's just how I roll in the summer time. Anyone else like that?

A few years ago my mom introduced me to this recipe. It was in their church cookbook, submitted by some lady I've never met. BUT I have gotten some good use out of this recipe. It's perfect to take to summer BBQ's or pot lucks. I love that I typically have most of the ingredients on hand and if I don't, it only takes about $3 to pick them up from the store.

We like foods pretty hot and spicy in our house. This recipe does include a jalapeno. I usually leave some of the ribs and seed intact so that some of the heat remains. If you don't like very much heat, make sure you remove all the ribs of the jalapeno before you dice it up. I also like to cover my hand in the plastic produce bag while chopping a jalapeno. You can also keep rubber gloves on hand. I must have had a REALLY potent pepper one time that I made this recipe and ended up with a burning hand for 3 days. I haven't made that mistake again.

Black Bean Corn Salsa

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can shoepeg or white corn, drained and rinsed
3 Roma tomatoes, diced as tiny as you can get them
1/2 red onion, diced as tiny as you can get it
1 jalapeno, finely diced
1/4 cup Zesty Italian dressing

Mix together all ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Best if refrigerated for at least 4 hours or overnight. Serve with tortilla chips, put in quesadillas, or serve with rice as a vegetarian meal.

Makes 12 servings

60 calories 1.4 g fat 10.2 g carbohydrate 2.6 g fiber 2.6 g protein

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Paco's Tacos

(Pacos Tacos - all loaded up)

Our honeymoon not only created our love for pico de gallo. It also created our summer favorite - Paco's Tacos!! When we arrived at our all inclusive resort for our honey moon, by the time we got checked in and into our room it was already past dinner time at the dining facilities. EXCEPT for an open-all-night place called Paco's. So we headed there the first time.

OH. MY. GOODNESS. We were in love - with the food. They had authentic Mexican cuisine at its finest. Everything tasted so fresh and delicious. They had tacos and quesadillas and everything else you could imagine. So on our multiple trips to Paco's throughout the week, I tried to figure out how to replicate Paco's Tacos at home. Here's what we came up with:

Paco's tacos filling

Paco's Tacos

2 chicken breasts
Juice of 4 limes
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
fresh cracked pepper

2 bell peppers - any color, sliced into strips
1 red onion, sliced into strips

In a large bowl, whisk together lime juice, cilantro, garlic cloves, olive oil and pepper. Reserve 1/4 cup of marinade in a tupperware container. Add chicken breasts to larger bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to marinate for at least 2 hours.

When ready to grill, slice up peppers and red onion into strips. Create a pouch of tin foil. Put sliced veggies and reserved 1/4 cup marinade into pouch. Seal up pouch and put on top shelf of preheated grill. Grill chicken breasts for 6-7 minutes on each side until thoroughly cooked. Remove chicken and veggies from grill.

Slice chicken breasts into thin strips. Top tortillas with chicken and veggies then additional toppings as desired.

Enjoy!! Makes 4 servings.

***I did not calculate nutrition facts on this as it depends what you put on your taco.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Pico de Gallo

Four summers ago my husband and I enjoyed a wonderful week on the Mayan Riviera in Mexico for our honeymoon. We went all out and reserved a fancy-schmancy all inclusive which was above and beyond my expectations. One of my favorite parts about staying at an all inclusive is not having to worry about what to make for meals, where to go, etc. You have a HUGE selection of restaurants and buffets at your beck and call. Although this can be disastrous for your waistline, it doesn't have to be! There are many fresh, healthy options like fruits and vegetables available for you to try.

One of our favorite dishes at the resort we stayed at wasn't a dish at all, it was a condiment. PICO de GALLO!!! We loved it. It was so fresh and tasty and went with everything. I spent the whole week trying to remember exactly how it tasted so I could recreate it at home. When we returned, it took several tries but I think I perfected the pico de gallo. Now we have it all summer long. It would be great with oven baked tortilla chips or with Paco's Tacos (recipe to come!).

Pico de Gallo

1 large ripe tomato, diced into TINY pieces
1/2 red onion, small dice
1 jalepeno pepper, seeded and diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
juice of 4 limes
salt to taste

Serve with tortilla chips, on tacos, with eggs, on quesadillas - whatever your heart desires!!! Store in refrigerator. Tastes best when flavors have been allowed to blend for a few hours or overnight.

Makes 6 servings

16.6 calories
0.2 g fat
4.3 g carbohydrate
0.7 g fiber
0.5 g protein
Provides 20% DV Vitamin C

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Local Produce - Strawberries!!!

I am a big advocate of buying local produce. Local produce is going to be more nutrient packed with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients than any other source as the closer something is eaten to the time it was picked, the better. I know some people are big on organic, I'm not - I'm big on LOCAL.

Many people think of Michigan as cold, snowy and the former home of the auto industry. But what you might not know is that it has a big agricultural business as well. Where I live, specifically, it is known as the "Fruit Ridge". This time of year an abundance of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and cherries are all around. Later, peaches, pears and apples begin to ripen as well.

Finley and I spent a few hours a couple weeks ago at a U-pick strawberry farm. We (and by "we" I mean she sat in her stroller while I furiously picked as many berries as fast as I could) picked over FIFTEEN pounds of strawberries to haul home. Now berries aren't something that stay ripe on your counter very long, so I knew I had to have a plan.

First, I mashed up about half of the berries and canned homemade jam. I used Ball "No-Sugar-Needed" Pectin to make sugar free jam. I boiled the jars in a hot water canner so they can stay good all year long in my pantry.

The remaining berries I washed and hulled and froze on cookie sheets. Once they were frozen, I have them stored in ziploc bags in my freezer just waiting for my morning smoothie.

What produce is in season near you? Any creative ideas to use up your abundant produce quickly?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Sauteed Green Beans

I love fresh green beans and this time of year they always seem like the perfect pairing with any grilled food. A few weeks ago, we had them with these turkey burgers and they were the perfect pair!

The good thing about green beans, is that they're a pretty good people-pleaser. Even someone who is picky about what vegetables they'll eat ( husband) will enjoy a good fresh green bean. Now I'm not going to say you can't use frozen in this recipe, but there's something about a good fresh green bean with a slight crunch to it that you just can't replicate.

I came up with this recipe on my own with ingredients that I had on hand, and you probably will have these ingredients to.

Sauteed Green Beans

2 cups fresh green beans, ends cut off
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lite soy sauce
fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Heat olive oil over medium heat in saute pan. Add green beans and garlic. Stir in soy sauce.

Cook until garlic is translucent and green beans have softened slightly.

Makes 4 servings. Per serving
31 calories 1.3 g fat 4.8 g carbohydrate 2.0 g fiber 1.4 g protein

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Actually Delicious Turkey Burgers

I've been in search of the perfect turkey burger for quite some time. I found this turkey burger recipe a few months ago. Although it is tasty - it's not quite a replacement for a good old fashioned burger since it is more of a buffalo variation. When you get a turkey burger, it is important that the burger not be dry and that it be super flavorful as ground turkey can have a tendency to be bland and dry - yuck! So the search continued.....

A few weeks ago we had some friends over for dinner (Hey Amanda!!!) and I knew they would appreciate a tasty turkey burger. I searched high and low and found this recipe for turkey burgers on I scaled it down a bit to make 4 servings and altered the proportions of some of the ingredients. They were super tasty! I topped mine with lettuce, provolone cheese, onion and A-1 sauce. The rolls were homemade (although ended up not being blog-worthy) and I'll share the fresh green bean recipe tomorrow.

Keep in mind that turkey burgers, although not necessarily low calories, are a better option than a traditional beef burger. Turkey meat is lower in fat and saturated fat which helps make it a heart healthier option. Try them on the grill - your heart will thank you :)

Actually Delicious Turkey Burgers

1 pound ground turkey
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
2 Tbsp finely diced onion
1 egg white
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
fresh cracked pepper to taste

Combine thoroughly all ingredients. Shape into four equal patties. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes to help hold their shape.

Cook on grill, 4 minutes on each side until thoroughly cooked. Try to avoid flipping them a bunch of times as they are prone to break apart.

Makes 4 patties. Each patty provides:
230 calories
11.3 g fat

6.0 g carbohydrate

0.6 g fiber

4.8 g protein

Patties would be even lower in fat and calories if you use
ground turkey breast instead of just regular ground turkey.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Home from vaca, empty fridge :(

We're back from an awesome time in Corolla, North Caroline with the whole maternal side of my family. 25 of us rented two giant houses and spent the week swimming, laughing, eating, running and playing Wallyball!

After the trip, we came home to an empty fridge and had to start back to work. So it's slim-pickins in the cooking department this week. I'm working on my grocery list and hope to bring some yummy recipes to you soon!!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Garbanzo Bean Dip

I've been wanting to make homemade hummus for a REALLY long time. For some reason I don't like buying it premade but will eat it like it's someone's going to take it away from my when I'm at my parents house. So I had resolved to make it last week and decided to buy the necessary ingredients when I went to the store. Well, one of the key ingredients in hummus is tahini (sesame paste). I went down the ethnic aisle of my grocery store to find a giant 12 oz bottle of tahini.... for $8.99. Well I am a crazy couponer and there is no way I am paying $8.99 for something I need about 2 Tbsp of. So I gave up on hummus for a while.

Then, we were at our local microbrewery with friends and I saw a stack of this local magazine. Inside was a recipe for white bean dip. The original recipe called for Great Northern beans but I thought maybe I could substitute garbanzo beans and make almost a hummus (minus the expensive tahini).

I made this on Father's day and paired it with slice cucumbers, baby carrots and wheat crackers. It was awesome! I had it again today for lunch. Super easy and very full of flavor.

Garbanzo Bean Dip

1 can (15.5 oz) garbanzo beans, drained
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
juice of 1/2 of a lemon
1/2 tsp cumin
sprinkle of paprika

Combine beans, garlic, oil, lemon and cumin in a blender. Blend until smooth. Garnish with a sprinkle of paprika.

Makes 4 servings. Per serving:
140 calories
4.4 g fat

21.3 g carbohydrate

4.0 g fiber
4.5 g protein

Monday, June 20, 2011

Hawaiian Baked Chicken

A few nights ago I planned on just having a grab-whatever-you-can-find type of dinner because I had a softball game at 6:15 pm and I wasn't sure if we'd want to eat before or after the game. Basically it was a "good luck" kind of night.

Well when my softball game was canceled because of bad weather, that left us home all evening with no dinner planned. I decided to make chicken but our grill was out of propane so we couldn't grill it. I wanted to bake it but didn't feel like having boring old chicken. I looked in my stock pile to find a few cans of pineapple and some low sodium soy sauce. There must be some kind of "Hawaiian" chicken type recipe out there?!?!

So I found this recipe on which I LOOSELY based my concoction off of. It turned out really good! The chicken was super tender from the marinade and full of flavor. The husband isn't a big fan of cooked pineapple and is kind of a pineapple snob after eating fresh pineapple on the Road to Hana in Hawaii - but I liked it!

Hawaiian Baked Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup pineapple chunks, reserve juice
1/2 cup juice from pineapple
1/2 white onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Place chicken breasts in a shallow pan or 9x13 pan. In a seperate bowl, mix together remaining ingredients. Pour over chicken breasts and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put dish with chicken in marinade in oven for 45 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked. Serve chicken with pieces of cooked chicken.

Makes 4 servings.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Chicken Taco Bowls

Honestly, I'm not sure I realized we ate Mexican food this much until I started this blog. I think its a mixture of the facts that both my husband and I like spicy food, Mexican can be thrown together pretty quickly and I usually have all the necessary ingredients on hand.

On this day, I was driving home, planning to make chicken tacos for dinner. I was thinking about everything I had already eaten in the day and realized I needed to go easy on the carbs a bit. I didn't have any La Tortilla Factory tortillas on hand so I would need to limit my traditional tortilla intake. I decided to try to make a taco bowl so I could load up on the protein rich filling, but have less tortillas. It turned out great! And I think you'll like it too :)

Chicken Taco Bowls

6 small flour tortillas
nonstick cooking spray
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 chicken breasts, diced into small pieces
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies
2 Tbsp taco seasoning
3 oz. Pepper jack cheese, shredded
Romaine lettuce, shredded
Reduced fat sour cream to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray the inside of 6 souffle ramikens with nonstick spray. Press one tortilla in each ramican. Spray tortilla with nonstick spray. Bake in oven for 10-12 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat olive oil in skillet. Add chicken and cook on all sides until opaque. Add can of diced tomatoes with chilies and taco seasoning. Stir to thoroughly combine and allow to simmer lightly while tortilla bowls cook.

When bowls are finished, they should be lightly browned along the edges. Remove from oven and spoon chicken mixture evenly among taco bowls. Sprinkle chicken with pepper jack cheese. Return to oven for 1 minute to melt cheese.

Remove from oven and top with shredded lettuce and reduced fat sour cream.


Per bowl:
229 calories
8.5 g fat
20.4 g carbohydrate
1.9 g fiber
16.4 g protein

Monday, June 13, 2011

Peanut Butter Truffle Brownies

Husband: "Those are definitely not making the blog."

Me: "Ehhh, I'll probably still put them in because they are darn tasty, even if they aren't healthy!"

So as I state in the description, not everything on this blog is a healthy option. I made these brownies to take to a friend's house for a cook out and HAD to take the leftovers to work otherwise I would have eaten the entire pan in two days. They were awesome.

I have seen the recipe on two different sites, both The Girl Who Ate Everything and Real Mom Kitchen. In the peanut butter filling, I used 3/4 cup peanut butter and 1/4 cup butter instead of 1/2 cup of each. I figured this decreased the saturated fat a little and increased the heart healthy fat a little (although likely had about the same amount of calories and total fat).

Although I didn't make any of these changes, here are some other ways you could health-up this recipe a bit:
  • Use natural peanut butter instead of the high fat, high sugar, high salt kind.
  • Use the low fat variation on your brownie recipe box
  • Substitute applesauce for oil in the brownie recipe
  • Use a healthier brownie recipe like this black bean brownie recipe instead of boxed brownie mix.
  • Cut your brownies insanely small and share with 60 of your friends so you aren't temped to eat ENTIRE ROWS of the pan!
Good luck!!!

Peanut Butter Truffle Brownies

Brownie Base
1 box (1 lb 6.5 oz) Betty Crocker Original Supreme brownie mix
water, oil and eggs called for on brownie box

1/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp milk

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom only of 9x13 inch pan with cooking spray.

Prepare brownie batter according to package directions. Spread in the bottom of prepared pan. Bake 28 to 30 minutes. Cool completely, at least 1 hour.

In a medium bowl, beat filling ingredients with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Spread filling evenly over brownie base.

In a small microwavable bowl, microwave topping ingredients uncovered on high 30 to 60 seconds; stir until smooth. Cool 10 minutes; spread over filling. Refrigerate about 30 minutes or until set. Cut into small brownies and store in the refrigerator.

Enjoy :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Summer Pasta Salad

Living in Michigan, I get my fair share of nights to enjoy warm winter casseroles and hearty dishes. We do, however, get to enjoy a few short months of beautiful sunny summer. During those months I try to make our meals as light and fresh. We frequently eat something we like to refer to as "Summer meal" which I will post about in the future. The other go-to meal for us is homemade pasta salad .

Pasta can get a bad rap. Yes it is full of carbohydrates, which in excess can lead to weight gain. BUT there are healthier versions of pasta which can be a great source of whole grains, even omega 3s! I like to use Barilla Plus which is not only whole wheat pasta, but also has added flax for omega 3s. Usually I choose rotini but occasionally get crazy and choose a different shape.

The next part of a healthier pasta salad is to load it up with veggies. BIG chunks of them. I usually put a variety of colors of peppers in plus cucumbers. You can add any vegetable you like - carrots, celery, tomatoes, zucchini, scallions, etc. The more the better! I try to make my salad have a 1 to 1 pasta to veggie ratio.

Lastly, I try to add a protein source to my pasta salad. I prefer to have chunk cheese, cut into cubes but will occasionally add shredded cheese instead if I don't have chunk cheese. We like to grill chicken and add it cubed to the pasta salad as a complete meal. I have also had cubed salami (an unhealtheir option) in the pasta salad.

Lastly, the important part of pasta salad is a good dressing. I have tried a ton of different varieties. My favorite dressing for pasta salad is Kraft's Greek Vinaigrette. Although dressing can add a lot off added fat, it adds a lot of flavor - so a little bit goes a long way. I usually add just enough to coat and serve extra dressing on the side in case anyone (i.e. the husband) wants to dump more dressing on there.

What are your favorite pasta salad ingredients?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Turkey Tacos

Sometimes I don't feel like finding new recipes for meals, instead I just want the old stand-by's. But when trying to eat healthfully, sometimes the old stand-by's don't fit into a healthy eating regimen. That's where substitutions come in to play.

Substituting healthier options for not as healthy originals is a great way to eat healthfully without uprooting your whole family.

Take tacos for example.

Many people would make up a batch of tacos without even thinking about it. But an average ground beef taco with 2 oz of meat, 8" flour tortilla, lettuce, onion, sour cream, salsa and 1/2 oz. cheddar has the following nutrition facts:

439 calories
25.9 g fat
32.7 g carbohydrate
2.7 g fiber
18.4 g protein

But with a few simple changes, you can make this single taco a whole lot healthier. For this taco I used ground turkey instead of ground beef, a 50 calorie La Tortilla Factory tortilla, spinach instead of lettuce, reduced fat sour cream and 2% cheddar. This taco has the following nutrition facts:

212.5 calories
10.3 g fat
15.6 g carbohydrate
8.1 g fiber
21 g protein

That's a difference of 227 calories, 14.6 g fat, 17.1 g carbohydrate, 2.6 g protein and 5.4 g MORE fiber per taco! I'd say that's worth the effort!!

What are some of your quick and easy substitutions that pack a mighty punch???

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Spicy Zucchini Raisin Cookies

Coming in to summer its always great to have recipe ideas for the abundant summer produce that will soon be available. I'm pretty excited to have my vegetable garden begin to bear veggies but in the meant time, I guess I'll rely on my grocery store.

Does your grocery store have a produce clearance rack? Mine does. I know that Carrots-n-Cake has posted about her produce clearance rack as well. I'm in love with my grocery store's produce clearance rack. I tend to go grocery shopping in the mid afternoon - which is perfect. They have finished stocking the produce area for the morning and have taken away any of their imperfect produce. My store packages it back up at a significantly reduced price. It might not always be the prettiest produce but its much cheaper. I usually go there first to see what fruits and veggies I can score, then hit the regular produce section to supplement my bargains. I often get slightly over ripe bananas which I freeze and use in smoothies or replace for fat in recipes. I almost always get my peppers from the clearance rack. Sometimes I can get romaine, potatoes, apples, oranges, .... really anything.

Last week there was a giant package of zucchini. There were about 10 medium sized zucchinis and it was listed for $0.59. Steal. Thankfully, zucchinis are pretty easy to incorporate into recipes. There was a bake sale coming up at church for Relay for Life and I thought I'd try to bring the healthy option to sell.

I found this recipe on The only change I made was substituted applesauce for margarine. You could also try this with wheat flour or ground oat flour instead of white flour or some kind of substitute like Splenda for the sugar. After making these I realized they sounded very similar to Megan's Low Fat Zucchini cookies but these have raisins instead of chocolate chips. (either way - sounds pretty tasty!!!)

As originally posted, each cookie provides: 84 calories 2.8 g fat 14.3 g carbohydrate 0.4 g fiber 1.1 g protein

Zucchini Raisin Cookies - BETTER

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 cup grated zucchini
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 cup raisins

In a medium bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg then stir in the zucchini. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves; stir into the zucchini mixture. Mix in raisins. Cover dough and chill for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper (or spray with nonstick spray). Drop by teaspoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven until set. Allow cookies to cool slightly on the cookie sheets before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes 36 cookies. Per cookie: 63 calories 0.2 g fat 14.7 g carbohydrate 0.5 g fiber 1.1 g protein

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Super Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes was a staple in my mom's dinner rotation. As an adult I found I always craved them with tator tots (Super-healthy, I know). My mom always made them using Manwich in a can and so, in turn, did I.

As an adult I had made Manwich Sloppy Joes several times for the husband when I finally figured out that he's not that big of a fan of Sloppy Joes. Oops. Guess you should have spoke up sooner?!?! So when I had an upcoming week that I knew he was going to be out for a bunch of dinners in a row for work, I figured why not make something that he doesn't like? So I figured this was as good of a time as any to try out homemade Sloppy Joes.

Real Mom Kitchen provides a TON of fail-proof family friendly recipes so I knew she would have a tasty Sloppy Joe recipe. Little did I know she actually has several sloppy joe recipes on her site. I decided to go with Super Sloppy Joes.

As originally posted, each Sloppy Joe provides:
355 calories
17.3 g fat (6.7 g saturated fat)
35.1 g carbohydrate
2.4 g fiber
14.7 g protein

I made a couple changes. First, I used ground turkey instead of ground beef. This saved me 5.2 grams of saturated fat and numerous grams of regular fat per serving. Plus I had them on whole wheat rolls but served open faced so I only used half of a roll per serving. I prefer to eat my Sloppy Joes with a fork anyway so this just lightened the load a bit. I also decreased the salt to 1/2 a teaspoon and only add 1 Tbsp of sugar out of personal preference.

These were great! I had one for dinner, Finley's great aunt and I both had some for lunch the next day. I even tried it heated up in a La Tortilla Factory Tortilla. I posted the pic of mine with cheese on top but I didn't include that in the nutrition facts as that is just my personal preference.

Super Sloppy Joes - BETTER

1 pound ground turkey
1 1/2 cups finely minced celery
1 1/2 cups finely minced onion
1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed tomato soup
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp barbecue sauce
4 whole wheat hamburger buns

In a large skillet, brown turkey along with the onion and celery over medium heat.

Add the soup, salt, chili powder, sugar and barbecue sauce and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve open faced on half of a bun. Top with cheese as desired.

Makes 8 servings. Per serving (without cheese):
229 calories
6.8 g fat (1.5 g saturated)
27.1 g carbohydrate
2.0 g fiber
15.0 g protein

Monday, May 23, 2011

Peaches and Cream Cake

A couple of weeks ago my parents came out to stay with us for the weekend. Both my husband and I were running in a race on Saturday morning (he ran in the 25k and I just stuck with the 10k) and we needed someone to watch Finley while we were hitting the pavement. My parents jumped at the opportunity to watch their little granddaughter and said they had been wanting to watch us run a race for a while now. Do they know how not-exciting it is to stand around in the cold rain waiting 50 minutes for me to run by? Oh well, they learned....

Anyway, this race also happened to fall on my mom's birthday. My mom is always trying to stay healthy and avoid sweets so I didn't want to make her a traditional birthday cake. Then I found this recipe for Peaches and Cream Cake on Mel's Kitchen Cafe. I don't know about you but since it had fruit in it, I automatically thought this must be healthy ;)

I made a few minor adjustments to the cake. First, I used whole wheat flour instead of all purpose flour. This actually give it a nutty taste that was quite delicious. Next, I used reduced fat instead of full fat cream cheese and made sure to use skim milk in the recipe. I also only used about 3 Tbsp of melted butter instead of six. I also sprinkled the top with straight cinnamon instead of cinnamon sugar. The original recipe also states that it serves 12. I easily cut this into 24 GENEROUS dessert portions.

The original recipe provides per 1/12 serving:
415 calories
20.6 g fat
53.1 g carbohydrate
1.2 g fiber
6.6 g protein

It was delicious! Of course the 4 of us couldn't polish off the whole pan so I plated up the leftovers to bring to our small group Bible study the next night.... shhhhh..... don't tell.

Peaches and Cream Cake - BETTER

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup skim milk
3 Tbsp butter, melted

Peaches and Topping:
29-oz can sliced peaches in own juice or 1 quart home-bottled peaches
16 oz (2 pkg) reduced fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
6 Tbsp reserved peach juice
1 tsp cinnamon for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium or large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and cornstarch. Blend. Make a well in the center and add the vanilla, eggs, milk and melted butter. Whisk together until well combined. Spread the better evenly in the prepared pan.

Slice the peaches into bite size pieces, scattering them over the top of the batter evenly. In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and reserved peach juice together until light and creamy. Dollop the cream cheese mixture in tablespoon-sized spoonfuls over the top of the batter and peaches and then use a spatula to evenly spread together to form a creamy layer. It won't spread perfectly, don't worry. Sprinkle the top of the cream cheese layer generously with cinnamon.

Bake 45-60 minutes until the edges are puffed and golden and the cream cheese layer has bubbled slightly on top. If the middle is still jiggly, bake it until it no longer jiggles.

Makes 24 servings. Per serving:
168 calories 6.5 g fat 25 g carbohydrate 1.2 g fiber 3.9 g protein

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Southwest Turkey Burgers

I've been trying to utilize ground turkey much more often than ground beef in our diet. I usually substitute ground turkey in tacos or pasta dishes without any problem. BUT I've been hesitant to make actual turkey burgers because I feel that ground turkey really can lack the flavor that ground beef has in a burger. SO I went in search of a recipe that added plenty of extra flavor.

When I search for recipes I have a handful of food blogs that I often check first (they're listed in my blog roll). But I also try to find new and smaller food blogs by searching for the recipe type and the word blog in google. (Really creative, I know). So after looking through a bunch of options after searching "turkey burger blogspot" in google, I found Becoming Rooks. We already had a bunch in common, she likes to cook, run and is from the Cleveland, OH area (where I grew up!). So I thought I must like her turkey burger recipe!

I did make a few changes because I was using a pound of ground turkey and had a couple different spices on hand. But I knew her recipe would be good inspiration. My husband had two burgers and I was able to cut up the fourth patty on my salad for lunch the next day. I'll be honest - I wasn't the biggest fan of having buffalo sauce on my burger but when I substituted that with BBQ sauce, it was quite tasty! I'll let you decide your preference :)

A traditional quarter pound cheeseburger from McDonald's provides the following:
510 calories 26 g fat 19 g saturated fat 155 mg cholesterol 40 g carbohydrate 3 g fiber 48 g protein

In contrast to McDonalds, this burger uses ground turkey instead of beef saving over 16 g of saturated fat and saves over 70 mg cholesterol.

Southwest Turkey Burgers

1 pound ground turkey
2 Tbsp paprika
2 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 egg whites
4 oz. 2% colby jack cheese
1/4 cup buffalo wing sauce (I preferred BBQ sauce)
4 whole wheat buns (I used Aunt Millie's)

Combine paprika, chili powder, garlic powder and green onion. Add ground turkey and egg whites. Mix until thoroughly combined. Form into 4 equal sized patties. Put in refrigerator for 15 minutes to chill and set up.

Preheat grill to medium heat. Grill patties on each side for 3-4 minutes until cooked through. Top with cheese and allow to melt slightly. Toast buns and place patty on each bun. Spread with wing sauce (or BBQ) and enjoy!!!

Per burger (makes 4): 416 calories 16.3 g fat 2.8 g saturated fat 83.6 mg cholesterol 43.8 g carbohydrate 4.7 g fiber 35.8 g protein

Monday, May 16, 2011

Overnight Oats

I've read a lot of posts in the food blog community on overnight oats. I thought it sounded right up my alley as I had all the ingredients needed on hand. So I gathered up all my ingredients, stirred them together and placed the bowl in the fridge for the night so they could blend.

The next morning I woke up, went for a run and came back excited to eat my overnight oats concoction.

It was gross.

I don't know if it was a texture thing or the fact that I'm used to oatmeal being hot and this was cold but I will not be repeating overnight oats.

Here is a great post from Kath Eats of a lot of varieties of overnight oats. This is what I put in mine:

1/3 cup old fashioned oats
1/3 cup skim milk
1/3 cup nonfat yogurt
1 tbsp almond butter
2 Tbsp raisins
1/2 tsp cinnamon.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Almond Butter Cookies

I'm not quite sure how long the almond butter from yesterday's post would stay fresh in the fridge so I felt I needed to find a few recipes to use it up. Why not make some cookies?

Apparently finding an almond butter cookie recipe was harder than I anticipated but I finally struck gold at the Almond Board of California's website. The recipe already used whole wheat flour and minimal butter as most of the fat comes from the healthy fat source of almond butter! If you used my recipe for almond butter, then your cookies would additionally have flax seed in them.

When I made these I was first a little taken aback by the amount of oil that was on my hands as I was rolling them out. I'm not quite sure why but they are very greasy when you roll them. The recipe also makes 36 cookies. At first, I didn't think I'd have enough dough to make that many as the dough balls were very small. But they spread out a bunch when you cook them so make sure your dough balls are about the size of ping pong balls, not bigger.

These were pretty good! They had a more subtle flavor than peanut butter cookies but tasted a bit butterier (if that's a word...). For the most part they were tender and soft although I did overcook one batch and those got a little crispy.

Almond Butter Cookies

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup smooth, unsalted almond butter. (recipe here)
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
36 raw whole almonds

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray two baking sheets with cooking spray (or just use parchment paper or Silpats like me).

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, and baking soda. In another large bowl, beat together the butter, almond butter and sugars until fluffy (about 2 minutes) Add the vanilla and egg and beat until well combined. Gradually stir in the flour mixture, blending well.

Shape the dough into 3/4 inch balls (about the size of ping pong balls or a little smaller) and place on the baking sheets. Place an almond in the center of each cookie and press down lightly. Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 36 cookies. Per cookie:
80 calories
5 g fat
9 g carbohydrate
1 g fiber
2 g protein

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Almond Butter

Almond butter on a cinnamon raisin English muffin - Yum!

I don't have a Costco membership but I lust after my mom's membership. There is a Costco in our town but its about 25 miles from where I live and I just don't think its worth it for the drive. BUT I do, however, make my mom buy me stuff when I know she's going to come out and visit me. This scenario resulted in me scoring a giant 3 pound bag of almonds. AWESOME.

So I've been looking at my giant almond bag and trying to come up with awesome recipes to try. I figured, why not try to make homemade almond butter?

I found a recipe for almond butter that I read the reviews and definitely tweaked it a little bit. First of all, I added honey to it for sweetness and to make it blend "better". Secondly, when I toasted the almonds I added a couple tablespoons of flaxseed to the pan. I figured if I'm already getting healthy fats from the almonds and olive oil, why not make it a triple threat and add flax seed?

Although the taste of this almond butter is good. I must warn you - if you do not have a food processor, a blender is NOT EQUAL to a food processor. I tried to make this with my blender and pretty much feared that I was going to burn out the motor. I would only make this again if I have a food processor. Otherwise, just buy yourself some almond butter ;)

Almond Butter

1 cup almonds
2 Tbsp flax seeds
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp honey

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spread almonds and flaxseeds on a single layer in the bottom of a pan. Roast for 20 minutes.

Put almonds and flaxseeds in a food processor. Begin to process while drizzling in olive oil and honey until creamy texture is reached. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.Link

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Homemade Chicken Broth

On New Years Eve this year (I know it was a few months ago!) our friends gathered to ring in the new year. A few minutes before midnight, one of my friends asked the others what their new year's resolutions are.

I resolved to lose the baby weight (boring....)

One friend resolved that she was bringing sexy back. She had a child in the previous year and was now a stay at home mom. She found herself all too often staying in sweats and a ponytail and resolved to put a little more effort into her appearance. I thought this was a great idea.

My friend, Julie, resolved that she and her husband were going to eat intentionally. She elaborated that they were trying to be more aware of where their food came from, what was in it and how they could get better control of their food. We have talked about splitting up a cow for beef so we know where our meat comes from. I know she rocks the bread machine for homemade bread. She also told me that they had made some homemade broth and it pretty much made everything they used it in awesome.

Julie's resolution got me thinking about all the processed foods in my life. Although I'm not willing to give it all up (and I don't think she is either...) I could make some changes in the foods that I am able to make my own. For this reason I thought I'd give homemade broth a try.

I purchased a small little roaster chicken and prepared it based off of the Pioneer Woman's recipe. After serving the chicken, I saved the carcass and remaining meat that was on it for some broth. (recipe below, adapted from here).

When all was said and done, I made 8 cups of super flavorful broth! I packaged them up into 2 cup servings (about the size of a can) and laid them flat in the freezer for future use.

A typical one cup serving of chicken broth has 754 mg of sodium. That's a quarter of your daily value in just one cup of broth!!! I'm not quite sure how to calculate out the nutrition facts on this but my best guess is that the homemade version has less than 100 mg of sodium per serving. YET has more flavor from all the other goodies.

Homemade Chicken Broth in a slow cooker

Carcass of roaster chicken or rotisserie chicken
1 chopped onion
2-3 stalks celery, chopped into large chunks
3 carrots, chopped into large chunks
3-4 whole garlic cloves
8 cups water
if desired, additional seasonings such as bay leaves, Italian seasoning, etc.

***My roaster chicken still had a bunch of meat on it as well as remaining skin which had a lot of seasoning on from the original cooking process. For this reason, I didn't add a ton of seasoning. You be the judge of what you need.

Put chicken carcass into large crockpot. Add chopped vegetables and seasoning. Add water. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Place a wire strainer over a large tupperware container. Ladle contents of slowcooker into tupperware, allowing the strainer to catch all the solids. Cover tupperware and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, the fat will have risen to the top and solidified. (its ok to gag a little). Scrape the fat layer off the top. Portion out remaining broth into desired servings and freeze until ready to use.

***Original recipe makes a blenderized version utilizing all the scraps in the slow cooker, except the bones. I chose to make more of a clarified version.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Product Review: Steamfresh Rigatoni with vegetables

I love making my food from scratch. I love homecooked breads, fresh vegetables and soft homemade cookies. But sometimes scratch cooking just doesn't work out into my schedule. Or maybe I'm only cooking for myself and balancing a fussy infant on my hip and therefore scratch cooking doesn't really fit in the cards. For nights like those, I try to keep a variety of healthy, quick alternatives available.

Last week I tried Birds Eye Steamfresh Rigatoni with vegetables with tomato Parmesan sauce. It's one of those high-tech steam bags that you pop in the microwave for 4 minutes and voila - it's done. It was so easy!

The bag says that it makes 2 servings which actually would be very generous size servings as a side dish accompanied by a grilled chicken breast or salmon fillet. I, however, was making a whole meal out of this and ate the whole bag. (But even still was only about 440 calories - not bad for a whole meal!).

The pasta was surprisingly flavorful and the vegetables were generous and tasty. It was packed with tomatoes, peppers, onion and spinach. I topped mine off with a little part skim mozzarella and enjoyed my dinner. I would highly recommend!

Each bag provides 2 servings - here's the facts for 1 serving (1/2 bag):
220 calories 5 g fat 35 g carbohydrate 2 g fiber 7 g protein.

Thoughts of my product review are solely my own and
I was not compensated in any way to provide this review.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Sugar Cookie Bars (and a ROYAL fail)

I am not really all that interested in the royal wedding. My neighbor/friend/day care provider, however, is obsessed. She did us a HUGE favor today and watched Finley on an off day starting at 6:15am - such a trooper! At first I felt really bad about asking her to get up so early but when I found out she would be up to watch the wedding anyway I guessed it wasn't that much of an inconvenience.

Out of appreciation, I wanted to make her a special thank you treat. I had been looking for the occasion to make these sugar cookie bars from Annie's Eats and I thought this would be perfect. I had these grand plans of piping royal crowns and "Will+Kate" on the cookie bars. Until I realized my piping skills mimic a 2 year old's....

Needless to say I just ended up putting sprinkles on the rest and calling it a day!

I did not intentionally health-i-fy these cookies. I did, however use unsweetened applesauce in place of the eggs since I somehow ran out of eggs. I also cut the recipe in half so I could use a 9x13 pan instead of a 13x18 pan.

These were super tasty! The frosting is especially delicious. Good for you - no. Good for your taste buds - yes.

Sugar Cookie Bars

For the cookie bars:
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce (or 2 large eggs)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
zest from 1/2 a lemon
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda

For the frosting:
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch salt
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 1/2 Tbsp milk
food coloring (optional)

To make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13" pan with butter. Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until light and smooth, about 2 minutes. Mix in the applesauce (or eggs). Blend in the vanilla, seeds from the vanilla bean, and lemon zest. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking soda. Stir together with a fork to blend. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl and beat on low speed just until incorporated.

Transfer the cookie dough to the prepared baking sheet and press into an even layer. Bake 10-15 minutes, until light brown. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Blend in the vanilla, salt, and confectioners' sugar until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Mix in the milk. Tint with desired food coloring. Spread over cookie in the pan, cut into bars and serve.

Makes 24 bars. Per bar:
188 calories 7.8 g fat 28.6 g carbohydrate 0.4 g fiber 1.5 g protein

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Baked Tortilla Chips - 2 ways

So Megan at Muncher Cruncher pretty much has the same affinity (dependence) on La Tortilla Factory Tortillas as I do. I mean, seriously, how can you not love a little tortilla that is only 50 calories, 10 carbs, 7 g fiber and 5 g protein? But Megan kicked it up a notch by making an awesome snack with them.

Check out Megan's post here to see how she created baked tortilla chips out of La Tortilla Factory Tortillas.

Want a sweet treat instead? I sprinkled some with cinnamon sugar before baking and served it with vanilla low fat yogurt. Pretty much awesome...

Enjoy your snacking :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

P.B. Banana Dream

Apparently I'm on a banana dessert kick because that's what I have for you again today! Actually, at work we are doing a fruit and veggie challenge. We are challenging all of our clients to get at least five servings of fruits and/or veggies each day. Afterall, that's the minimum recommended amount of fruits and veggies you should eat a day. But do most people get that? No. Do you???

So I've been a little more aware of my fruit and vegetable intake each day. I do a pretty good job of getting at least 5 servings in each day but THE MORE THE BETTER! So lately when I've been craving something sweet, I'm reaching for a piece of fruit instead of thinking about making cookies.

This recipe is a variation of a recipe that is in one of the weight loss programs I administer in groups with my clients. It's always raved about by the clients so I thought I should give it a try. It is pretty tasty! I don't typically like vanilla yogurt but I found that I prefer Dannon brand over Yoplait. You could also try Greek yogurt for a little extra protein.

P.B. Banana Dream

2 small bananas, sliced in half lengthwise
2 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
6 oz container fat free light vanilla yogurt

On a microwave safe plate, spread banana slices thinly with peanut butter and sprinkle with cinnamon. Cover with a paper towel. Microwave for 15 to 45 seconds, until banana is cooked and peanut butter is melted.

Top with vanilla yogurt and serve immediately.

Makes 2 servings. Per serving:
240.8 calories
8.7 g fat
37.2 g carbohydrate
4.0 g fiber
7.6 g protein

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Chocolate Banana Soft Serve

It was a hot summer when I was pregnant last year. I swear it was in the 90's every day - at least it felt like it to me. One way that I found effective to cool off was to eat ice cream (every night). Needless to say, this did not help with my pregnancy weight gain. Even though I have all the nutrition training I could possibly need, I still over-indulged a little while pregnant.

Thankfully, after I had Finley I dropped the daily ice cream habit. I saw a post on Muncher Cruncher a few weeks ago on making Banana Soft Serve. I admit, I was a little skeptical. Really??? Its going to be like soft serve ice cream just by sticking a frozen banana in the blender? Right....

Well I tried it. And it worked! I did find that trying to make a single serving with just one banana didn't blend up too well. So I added a second banana and shared with my husband. It was the perfect evening sweet treat. DELICIOUS :) I also added a tsp of unsweetened cocoa powder to almost make it like chocolate soft serve.

I decided to compare it to another Chocolate/Banana ice cream. Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey ice cream provides the following per serving:

300 calories
18 g fat
30 g carbohydrate
1 g fiber
5 g protein

This provides
110 kcal
0.7 g fat
28.2 g carbohydrate
3.1 g fiber
1.3 g protein
Not a bad trade....

So what do you do?

Stick two frozen peeled bananas in your blender. Begin blending. Add 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder (if desired). Blend until smooth and creamy. Divide into two servings and ENJOY!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Impossibly Easy Vegetable Pie

I forgot to take a picture, this is from the original recipe

Every other Sunday night we have a small group Bible study at the home of one of the families in our church. It is supposed to be potluck style but I noticed more and more bags of chips, 2 liters of soda and packages of store bought cookies appearing and less and less main dish options or foods of any nutritional value. I don't know why, but I always get irritated when someone regularly brings one of these easy-way-out foods to a potluck. Is that just me?

Anyway, I try to make something a little more substantial and a little bit more healthy each time we go. This week I had a drawer full of produce begging to be used up and I had to come up with a recipe that used them all. I also had a bunch of eggs so I figured there had to be some kind of Bisquick recipe that would work for my needs.

I found this recipe on Bisquick's recipe site. It got pretty good reviews and looked like something I could easily cut into small portions for a crowd. As originally posted, this recipe provides:

170 calories
10 g fat
11 g carbohydrate
1 g fiber
10 g protein

I decided to used the Heart Smart version of Bisquick, skim milk, 2% cheese and substitute one of the eggs with 2 egg whites. I also added in a cup of chopped spinach and upped some of the veggie portions. It was delicious! There wasn't a big turn out at small group and we had plenty leftover for lunch the next day - Bonus for me!

Impossibly Easy Vegetable Pie - BETTER

2 cups chopped frozen broccoli
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 cup raw spinach, chopped
1 cup shredded 2% Cheddar
1/2 cup Heart Smart Bisquick
1 cup skim milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 whole egg
2 egg whites

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9 inch pie plate with nonstick spray. Eat frozen broccoli in the microwave until no longer frozen (it doesn't have to be pipping hot).

Layer broccoli, green onions, peppers, and spinach in pie plate. Sprinkle cheddar on top. In a separate bowl, mix together bisquick, milk, salt, pepper, egg and egg whites in a bowl with a wisk. Pour over veggies in pie plate.

Bake in preheated oven for 35-45 minutes. Allow to set for 5-10 minutes before slices.

Makes 6 servings

Per serving:
119 calories
3.1 g fat
13.4 g carbohydrate
1.5 g fiber
10.3 g protein