Thursday, March 31, 2011

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

As part of my undergraduate degree in dietetics I had to take some college cooking classes...ahem... food science classes. These were some of my favorite classes of college. My MOST favorite was called Experimental Foods. In this class we learned the why behind cooking. I found out all about the different cuts of meat (which I have since forgotten) and all the details of baking. I truly believe that because of this class I am confident in making the adjustments that I do in the recipes.

One thing we learned about was the "muffin method" of baking. Did you know there's a whole method to muffins? Anyway, we also learned that there are many things that can go wrong with muffins that are easily explained. Here are a few:

1. If your muffins don't rise either your oven wasn't up to temperature, you didn't mix the batter enough or you used muffin cups which are too large.

2. What causes muffins to be tough and rubbery? Probably too much egg. If you are using an egg larger than a "large" size egg, this might be the culprit. This can also occur when using dark nonstick pans.

3. Why are there tunnels and crazy peaks on my muffins instead of nice rounded tops? You probably beat the mixture too much. When the recipe says to stir until just combined, they mean it.

So why am I telling you this? Because I made this recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything and I definitely broke rule #3. These bad boys were so ugly! They had crazy peaks and looked like the noses on the Smurfs.

The original recipe provides the following per muffin:
265 calories
12.5 g fat
35.6 g carbohydrate
0.9 g fiber
3.6 g protein

I made two small changes. I substituted applesauce for the butter. I also tried something new. I put some old fashioned oats into the blender and made them almost into a flour. I substituted 1/2 cup of the white flour with 1/2 cup of the ground up oats.

Even though these bad boys were ugly, they still tasted good. Good enough, in fact that I took a bag full of them over to a family at church when I brought a meal over.

Lemon Blueberry Muffin - BETTER

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
zest of one lemon
1 egg
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup frozen blueberries

3 Tbsp butter, melted
1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar

Mix dry ingredients and set aside. Beat eggs, milk and applesauce thoroughly. Add dry ingredients and stir to combine. Stir in blueberries gently. Portion into 12 paper-lined muffin cups. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Combine butter and lemon juice for the topping. While the muffins are still warm, dip the tops in the butter and lemon juice, then dip in sugar.

Makes 12 muffins. Each muffin provides:
160 calories
3.7 g fat
29.8 g carbohydrate
1.2 g fiber
2.8 g protein

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Post bath hair-do, thank you Daddy!

I've been doing really well with my running lately and I think its because I've turned a new leaf. In past years when I was training for 25k's it was always about getting in xx amount of miles each day, each week, etc. It was always daunting for me because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to finish the 25k and I would crash and burn on race day.

Now that I've decided that I'm not doing 25ks anymore and focusing on my upcoming 10k my outlook is so much better! I KNOW I can run a 10k - heck my long run last weekend was more than that. I'm running now more for enjoyment, for "me" time and to feel good about myself.

This week I turned a new leaf. I took up morning running.

Might not be a big deal to some of you, but for me its HUGE. I used to hate working out in the morning but with having a kid and fulltime working parents I've decided this is what I have to do to get my running in. And SURPRISE SURPRISE the two AM runs I've had this week (in the dark along country roads and 15 degrees) have been my favorite runs in a long time. Who am I???

In food news I have a couple recipes coming up in the next few days -

Blueberry Muffins, Crockpot WHOLE chicken and homemade chicken broth.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

High Fiber Enchiladas

Do you ever plan something for dinner but then when you're about to make it you realize you don't have a key ingredient? Since I started menu planning this doesn't happen to me very often but it does still occasionally occur. Much to my dismay, it happened last week. As I was driving home from work I did an assessment of the ingredients available in our house.

I figured we'd have something Mexican as I knew we had some tortillas. Have you ever had La Tortilla Factory tortillas? I STRONGLY recommend finding these in your area. They are half the calories and carbs of traditional tortillas with more fiber and protein. And still quite tasty!

This is an original recipe that I just created from ingredients in the house. They ended up being pretty low calorie yet high in fiber and protein. Each serving provides two enchiladas and the whole recipe makes 3 servings.

High Fiber Enchiladas

6 La Tortilla Factory Low Carb/High Fiber tortillas (Original size, 50 calories each)
8 oz chicken, pre cooked and shredded
1/2 cup black beans
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
1 cup salsa, divided
1 Tbsp taco seasoning
1 cup 2% cheddar cheese, divided
1 small onion, diced small

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a small 8x11 pan with nonstick spray.

Mix together chicken, black beans, sour cream, 1/2 cup salsa, taco seasoning, 1/2 cup cheddar and onion. Evenly scoop chicken mixture into six tortillas. Wrap up and place seam side down on prepared pan.

Spread remaining salsa over top of enchiladas. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Serve with lettuce, salsa and sour cream if desired.

Makes 3 servings of 2 enchiladas. Each serving provides:
381 calories
12.8 g fat

38.1 g carbohydrate
18.3 g fiber

41.7 g protein

Monday, March 28, 2011

Tortellini Soup

Often times we get so focused on particular qualities of healthy eating that we neglect to see the importance of other aspects of a healthy diet. In the past I have found myself so focused on cutting the fat or adding in fiber that I neglect to think about other qualities of food like calcium content or other vitamins and minerals.

One mineral that should be focused on is sodium. (Did you know that sodium was a mineral?) Sodium, when eaten in excess, can impact cardiovascular disease, blood pressure and lead to water retension. Recommended intakes of sodium range from 1500-2400 mg per day but reports indicate that the average American can take in as much as 8000+ mg each day!

Many sources of sodium are fast foods and restaurant foods, so if you're making food homemade you're already ahead of the game! But other area that a lot of sodium can come from are canned goods like canned vegetables and soups.

I decided to revamp a tasty recipe for Tortellini Soup from The Well-fed Newlyweds with my focus being on cutting down the sodium. The original recipe already calls for low sodium chicken broth but if you didn't use low sodium chicken broth you're looking at 1469 mg of sodium in each serving.

I simply used low sodium chicken broth and canned tomatoes that had no added salt. I did not add salt to the pot and cut the sodium down by over 500 mg to 911 mg per serving.

Overall it was pretty awesome! I thought it was tasty and flavorful. I was bringing a meal to a family in our church so I made a big batch of the soup base and split it in two before adding the tortellini. I put the soup base in a ziploc and then gave the spinach and tortellini on the side before giving it to them.

Tortellini Soup - BETTER

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small onion, minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 qt (4 cups) low sodium chicken broth
14.5 oz can no added salt tomatoes (I used diced)
Freshly ground black pepper
9-10 oz package tortellini (I used cheese but I suppose you could try other variations!)
3 cups chopped fresh spinach

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until beginning to get translucent. Add garlic until softened and light golden. Add oregano, broth, tomatoes, and pepper to taste.

Bring soup to a boil and add tortellini. Cook according to time listed on package (mine was 2 minutes). One minute before tortellini are done, add spinach. Stir to combine.

When tortellini are cooked, remove the pot from the heat immediately so your tortellini do not overcook. Add additional pepper if necessary. Serve soup immediately.

Makes 4 servings. Each serving provides:
311 calories
9.5 g fat
42.9 g carbohydrate
2.8 g fiber
14.7 g protein
911 mg sodium

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Last week I ran my first 5k since my surgery/pregnancy. It was good to get out and race. I met my "logical goal" but in my head it was still disappointing that I ran it two whole minutes slower than I did two years ago. I'll get over it.... by getting faster.

Well I used the husband as a pacer since keeping a consistent pace is my biggest weakness (KINDA a big fan of going out too fast). Although he's apparently not good at pacing at my slow pace because we started out WAY TOO SLOW and ended up going super fast for the last 1.5 miles. Oh well. ANYWAY since we were both running in the race we needed somewhere for this precious child to go.

So I put on facebook that I needed someone to watch Finley on Saturday morning and would pay in cookies. Within 5 minutes I had a suitable taker! I'm not sure if its because Finley is so cute or because cookies are so tasty ;)

Anyway, I made snickerdoodles which I did not healthify in any way, shape or form. Sigh.... but they were good! I got the recipe from Martha Stewart's website.


2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 3/4 cups sugar, plus more if needed
2 Tbsp ground cinnamon, plus more if needed
2 large eggs.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees with one rack in the top third and one rack in the bottom third of the oven. Line baking sheets with silpats or parchment paper; set aside.

Mix together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine butter, shortening and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add eggs and beat to combine. Add dry ingredients and beat to combine.

In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the ground cinnamon. Use a small ice cream scoop to form balls of the dough. Roll in cinnamon sugar. Place about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until the cookies are set in the center and begin to crack (they should not brown), about 10 minutes, rotating the baking sheets after 5 minutes. DO NOT OVERBAKE. Transfer the sheets to a wire rack to cool about 5 minutes before transferring the cookies to the rack. Store in an airtight container up 1 week.

Makes 4 dozen.

Nutrition facts per cookie:
94 calories
4.3 g fat
13.1 g carbohydrate
0.3 g fiber
1.0 g protein

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pistachio Chocolate Chip Cookies

My grandfather was a very active man. In the last few years of his life after my grandma had passed away, he lived with my parents. Even though he was 89 years old, he still enjoyed hiking at the local state parks and walking around the indoor track at the local high school as part of the town senior center. Every day he would drive to the track and walk at least a mile with one of the ladies from the senior center (after all, once you're 89 its mostly ladies at the center as all the men have died off). One day in December, my grandfather drove to the track, began to walk around it and had to sit down to catch his breath. It was there that he passed away quickly and painlessly from a heart attack.

I don't mean to tell this story as a sad one, but rather to show the commitment to physical activity that my grandfather had. When he passed away my parents hosted visiting hours at their house the day before the funeral. (That is a WHOLE other story - he narrated his own life video and had us show it at his funeral, talk about creepy!). At the visiting hours my brothers and I chuckled at all the ladies from the senior center who knew exactly how to work the situation. They came in, signed the guest book, walked straight to the food, filled up a plate and claimed seats around the dining room table. I suppose at a certain age going to visiting hours for a deceased friend is pretty common.

The biggest hit at the visiting hours was a batch of cookies brought over by a neighbor. They were so good that no only did myself and my sister-in-law ask for the recipe from my mom's neighbor. BUT, one of the cute little ladies from the senior center even wrote a thank you note to my mom for hosting the visiting hours and asked her to pass along the recipe if possible.

Now these cookies aren't necessarily healthy but they are a tasty treat! They are small cookies so I suppose if you can stop yourself from eating 5 of them they could be calorie controlled. The key ingredient in these is pistachio pudding mix. I've tried the same recipe with other flavor of pudding mixes and never have liked it as much as the cute green originals. Give it a try!

Pistachio Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 sticks (1 cup) margarine
2 boxes instant pistachio pudding mix
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
12 oz. bag chocolate chips

Mix together until well blended margarine and pudding mix. Once well blended, add in egg. Stir in flour and baking soda. Once well combined stir in chocolate chips with wooden spoon.

Spoon by level tablespoon (they are small cookies) onto baking sheet. They don't spread out much but give them about an inch between cookies. Bake at 350 degrees for 11-13 minutes. They should not turn brown.

Makes 60 cookies.

Per cookie (good luck eating just one!)
74 calories
4.8 g fat
7.1 g carbohydrate
0.3 g fiber
1 g protein

What's the most unusual way you acquired a new recipe?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pizza, part II

I usually don't make much homemade pizza during track season. The team usually gets pizza on the bus ride home from their track meets every weekend between January and May. I figure that the husband is pretty sick of pizza each week so I don't want to inundate him with more pizza at home.

Last week when working on our meal plan I asked him if there was anything he was craving. To my surprise I hear "Pizza sounds good." Alrighty - pizza it is!

So over the weekend, this recipe made its way to our kitchen again! This time it was pepperoni for the husband and spinach for me. I used a mozzarella / provolone mix for the cheese and it was awesome. Honestly the best pizza I have ever made!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Chicken Parmesan with vegetables

Before I was married, I lived alone from the time I was 19 until I got married at 26. I loved living alone. I was in charge of my own stuff, my own place and my own meals. I still cooked just for one and would have leftovers for lunches and dinners in the upcoming days. I've never been that big of a meat eater and could live off of cheese and beans for my main source of protein. When I got married, that changed. I soon learned that I needed to have a good protein source at every meal, whether it be eggs, chicken, beef, turkey, etc. There are only a few meals that I know my husband truly enjoys that are vegetarian. (This minestrone being one of his favorites!)

In the last month as I've been trying to increase my own protein intake, I've been trying to come up with meals that not only have protein sources that my husband enjoys, but that I enjoy as well. I decided to revamp a basic chicken and pasta recipe to serve both of our taste preferences.

Chicken Parmesan with Vegetables

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
12 oz chicken (four 3 oz breasts or two large breasts cut in half)
1 cup sliced zucchini
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
2 cups spaghetti sauce
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups cooked whole wheat spaghetti

Drizzle olive oil in a nonstick pan. Cook the chicken breast over medium heat until lightly browned on both sides. Add the vegetables. Stir and cook until tender-crisp.

Sprinkle with oregano. Add the spaghetti sauce and cook until heated through, approximately 5 minutes.

Put 1/2 cup of cooked whole wheat spaghetti on a plate. Top with a piece of chicken and generous ladle of veggies and sauce. Sprinkle with 1 Tbsp Parmesan cheese over each serving. Makes 4 servings.

Per serving (chicken, veggies and pasta!)
345 calories
10.9 g fat
36.8 g carbohydrate
6.9 g fiber
26.3 g protein

Thursday, March 17, 2011

On my team

I apologize for the lack of recipes lately but I've really been focusing on my running lately and have been having a hard time feeling creative in the kitchen. PLUS the husband was out of town for two weeks which pretty much means I don't make a full dinner each night, just grab whatever is around for a "balanced-ish" meal. But he's back and I'm making a new recipe tonight so stay tuned! In the meantime....

I've been thinking about where I draw my motivation and information from. Running does not come naturally to me. I did not run track in high school or cross country. I remember going for training runs with my field hockey team in high school and getting in trouble for cheating on a run. (We were supposed to go for a 40 minute run. We ran to one of the girl's houses that lived close by, ate popsicles and ran back). After college when I wanted to drop my undergrad weight I started working out more on an elliptical and treadmill but wouldn't necessarily say I was a runner.

I started running on-purpose when I started dating my track coach husband. We don't run together typically but he encouraged me to run. I still remember when he convinced me to run a 25k and the farthest I had run up to that point as an adult was probably 4 miles. That winter/spring of training got me hooked on running.

Now, running for me has turned into a way for me to be competitive with myself. I love setting goals and training for a specific goal. I love trying to beat my old time, be better, faster, stronger. I've had a little trouble mentally accepting that I'm not nearly as fast as I was two years ago before my foot reconstruction and pregnancy but I know that in due time I'll be back to where I was, if not better. I love seeing improvement on a daily basis.

When you are working toward a goal, whether it be weight loss, a sport-specific goal or other life goal, its important to have a team of support people around you. This support team helps lift you up, provide knowledgeable information and encouragement. Here is my team roster:

My husband (here's the link to his non-healthy hot dog blog) - he's my main coach
Megan: my strength and conditioning specialist for all those great circuit ideas ;)
Amanda: providing me with knowledge on fartleks and other running jargon
Laurie: Tech consultant, who introduced me to Runner's World training log
Janae: Perseverance coach
My coworkers: Whose constant trash talk with each other and competition within the office drives me!

Who is on your team?

Want to be on my team? What can you offer me??? :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Organic - Is it worth it?

The organic debate can get really heated.

First of all, lets define organic. "Organic foods are those that are produced using environmentally sound methods that do not involve modern synthetic inputs such as pesticides and chemical fertilizers, do not contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and are not processed using irradiation, industrial solvents, or chemical food additives."

Foods which are labeled "organic" must meet certain criteria set by the government pertaining to additives, growing conditions, exposure to chemicals etc.

In recent years I have seen a lot more hype on organic products. But I have also heard through conversations with people a lot of misinformation on organic products as well.

1. Organic food will not help you lose more weight or will not have less calories.

2. Organic food may, however, have higher nutritional value and less trace minerals found from farming chemicals.

3. Organically grown food is better for the environment....BUT if it is shipped from Chile than you really need to think about the transportation effects on the environment as well!

Basically, I think each person should come up with their own opinion of organic foods. If it is worth it for you to purchase than go for it! If you don't feel compelled to buy organic foods, then don't feel guilty for it!

Research has shown that there are certain produce products which would be best to buy organic and then other produce items which really isn't worth the expense of organic since they have been tested to be low residue anyway. Here's the list:

Dirty Dozen
Peaches, apples, bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, imported grapes, spinach, lettuce, potatoes

Just fine without organic
Onions, avocado, sweet corn, pineapples, mango, asparagus, sweet peas, kiwi, bananas, cabbage, broccoli, papaya

Personally, I don't buy to much organic. In the summers I love going to our local produce markets and buying local produce (organic or not organic). This summer Paul and I are embarking on our own vegetable garden. We'll be planting all kinds of produce and I plan to keep you updated on its progress.

Do you buy organic? Why or why not?
Have you ever had a vegetable garden? What grew the best for you?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Setting Yourself Up for Success

My husband is home from his two week trip... and so is my camera! Woo hoo! So hopefully I'll have some posts with pics of real food this week ;)

In the meantime, lets talk chicken. Chicken is one of those foods that can provide you with some muscle-building protein without a whole lot of fat or work, for that matter. I've been trying to incorporate more protein in my diet and chicken is my new best friend. BUT I'm a busy lady and I don't have time to be cooking up chicken every night. So I thought I'd take this opportunity to give you some ideas of how to cook chicken ahead of time. I buy frozen chicken breasts at GFS so I always have good uniform sized chicken breasts ready to go.

Thaw chicken breasts and add Italian dressing for marinade. After marinading in the fridge for 2-3 hours, place chicken breasts in a single layer on a 9x13 pan. Grind fresh pepper and sprinkle garlic powder lightly over top of chicken breasts. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.


Thaw chicken breasts and add Italian dressing for marinade. After marinading in the fridge for 2-3 hours, heat grill to medium heat. Brush grill grate with olive oil to prevent sticking. Place chicken breasts on grate in a single layer. Cook for 4-5 minutes then flip. Cook on second side for 3-4 minutes or until heated through.


Place frozen chicken breasts in crock pot with 1/4 cup water. Grind fresh black pepper over the top. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Place lid on crock pot and cook on low 4-6 hours or high 3-4 hours.

BOIL (not my favorite, but fast)

Boil water. Add thawed chicken breasts for 8-10 minutes or until heated through.

Last night we had baked chicken (option #1) for dinner. Instead of cooking up 2 or 3 breasts I cooked 6. I put the remaining chicken breasts in a tupperware container in the fridge for future use.

Here are some ways to use your precooked chicken breasts:
  • Cut up on top of a salad or bed of spinach for lunch.
  • Chop and make chicken salad.
  • Cut up and use in a wrap.
  • Shred to use as a filling in enchiladas or tacos.

How would you use precooked chicken?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Practice what you preach...

As I said before, I'm trying to follow this new meal plan that is matched up with my DNA. I fell into the "Carb Reducer" category which isn't crazy low carb Adkins diet but its still way lower carb than I'm used to eating.

My goal each day is to eat 45% carbs, 35% fat, 20% protein. This is really a struggle for me! I do so well with breakfast and lunch, then I get home for dinner and all I can think of is "What kind of carbs can I have?"

Probably doesn't help that last night I made these... and they were awesome.

(I did however use skim milk instead of whole milk).

Oh well, at least Finley loves me anyway :)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Breakfast Smoothie

No real pictures for the next week :( My husband is on spring break with his team and took our digital camera leaving me without the ability to take any food pictures. Boooo.... But I still wanted to post anyway so here ya go!

I'm trying to break away from my bowl of cereal every morning for breakfast so I decided to try the world of smoothies. I've often shied away from smoothies because honestly I'm lazy. I don't feel like hauling my blender ALL the way from the pantry and cleaning every morning. Really, its not that big of a deal but I've convinced myself that this is inconvenient. Well I put on my big girl pants this morning, sucked it up and made a smoothie.

It was awesome! I felt like I had a nutrient packed breakfast and the clean up wasn't even that awful. I didn't try it but I imagine you could also add a scoop of vanilla protein powder to up the protein.

I included flax seeds in my smoothie. Flax seeds have tons of benefits. First they contain omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3's are great for your heart, joints and brain health. You can also get omega 3's in fatty fish like salmon, but since we don't do too much seafood in our house, adding flax seeds is a great way to bump up the omega 3's. Flax seeds also contain lignans. Lignans contain both plant estrogen and antioxidents. With all the running around and exercise that I do, I feel like antioxidants can help decrease the amount of stress on my cells.

Breakfast Smoothie

1 1/2 cups frozen berries (I used 1 cup frozen strawberries and 1/2 cup frozen blueberries)
1/4 cup fresh baby spinach
1 cup skim milk
1 Tbsp flax seeds
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth and enjoy!

Makes 1 serving.
245 calories
4.6 g fat
40.4 g carbohydrate
8.6 g fiber
12.1 g protein

26.9% Vitamin A, 125.6% vitamin C, 14% Folate, 12.6% Iron, 35% calcium

What do you put in YOUR favorite smoothie?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

On the road...

So tonight little Miss Finley and I are hitting the road to meet up with my husband and his team here. Each year we like to support my husband's track team by cheering on the athletes at nationals. Unfortunately, the food situation is a little bit unknown. I'm not quite sure if there is breakfast at the hotel, I'm on my own for lunches but I go out to eat with the team for dinner.

So the last couple of weeks I've been super diligent with watching what I eat. It may sound crazy, but I took a DNA test which indicates what type of meal plan you should be following to most accurately fuel your body. My DNA came back as 45% carbohydrates, 35% fat and 20% protein. This has been a HUGE adjustment for me as I probably usually eat 60-70% carbs and not enough protein or fat. So I've been working on trying to get my proportion of intake in the right categories. I'm also teaching a weight management class based off of this DNA test so I feel like I have to be compliant so I can practice what I preach ;) Ugh, it's hard....

Anyway, I'm trying to figure out what to pack with me that can fill in in a pinch if I can't find the best choices at restaurants or in the hotel. Here's what I've come up with so far.

String Cheese


These protein shakes

Peanut butter

La Tortilla Factory tortillas


(Obviously to make the perfect banana/peanutbutter roll up!)

What suggestions do you have to pack on the road?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Butternut Cake

Whoops! Meant to take a picture before I sliced it up to give away. Too late - here it is all sliced.

We've been trying to introduce solid foods to Finley. I'm not sure what her deal is but its not going so well. She pretty much screams, shakes and gags like we're trying to poison her. At this rate I'm going to have to go to her kindergarten class every day to feed her since she'll likely still only be taking in milk. We've tried rice cereal, oats cereal, bananas, sweet potatoes and now butternut squash.

I've been making my own baby food with this fancy contraption and its super easy and actually tasty. But since she eats approximately 1 Tbsp a day (and by "eats" I mean spits back out) I obviously end up with left over produce. So I decided I needed to find a recipe to use up the extra butternut squash this weekend.

I found this recipe for butternut squash cake on Fine Cooking. It looked delicious! AND I knew I could make a couple healthy changes. As listed, this recipe provides per serving:

368 calories
13.6 g fat
58.9 g carbohydrate
1.5 g fiber
4.0 g protein

I simply substituted applesauce for the oil and just omitted the frosting recipe completely. I'm sure its really good with the frosting but to be honest, I didn't know what I was missing so I thought it was delicious even without it! In addition to those healthy changes, there are many healthy benefits to eating butternut squash. It is high in potassium which helps with bone and heart health. It is also a good source of vitamin B6 which can improve both the nervous system and immune system. Like most orange fruits/vegetables, it is high in beta-carotene which can help with eye health. AND a 1 cup serving of butternut squash provides almost half a day's vitamin C. (Although I'm pretty sure there's not a whole cup in each slice of cake... but its got to have some, right???)

So, if you're going to have cake, you might as well make it benefit you somehow ;)

Butternut Cake - BETTER

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulate sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp distilled white vinegar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
3/4 cup lowfat buttermilk
2 1/4 cups peeled and grated butternut squash

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour a 10-cup Bundt pan; tap out excess flour.

In a large bowl with a hand mixer or in a stand mixxer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until well combined, about 1 minute. Add the applesauce and beat until combine, about 15 seconds. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well on low speed. Add the vinegar and vanilla and mix again until just combined. Add half of the flour and the baking soda, salt, ginger and nutmeg, mixing on low speed until just combined. Add half of the buttermilk and mix until just combined. Repeat with the remaining flour and buttermilk.

Stir the squash into the batter and transfer the batter to the prepared pan; smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes; then carefully invert the cake onto the rack and remove the pan. When cake is completely cool, transfer it to a serving plate.

Makes 16 generous portions. Per serving:
237 calories
6.7 g fat
41.1 g carbohydrate
1.6 g fiber
3.9 g protein