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 allrecipes.com. 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.