Category Archives: Recipes

Monday Healthy Eating, Oct. 25, 2010

Today’s healthy eating tip:  Make convenience foods yourself ahead of time, so there’s no excuses!

Right now, I have apple-pomegranate-nut granola bars whipping themselves up in my dehydrator.  They took me a grand total of about 2 minutes to mix up, another 30 seconds to spread on the dehydrator sheet, and now I do nothing with them for the next 4 or so hours when I turn them off to cool down.  They’ve got very little sugar, tons of fiber, protein, and omega fatty acids, and no additional fat or preservatives. And they cost pennies each. Which makes them pretty much the antithesis of store-bought granola bars, which are loaded with empty calories from sugar, unhealthy fats, and things you can’t pronounce.

What’s this got to do with anything? Well, we’re all busy. Most people these days work at least one job (those lucky enough to have jobs in this economy), usually all adults in the house need to work, kids have school and a bazillion activities, and things sometimes get out of hand. This is when you’re likely to stop by McDonalds to get the kids (or yourself) a quick snack, or grab some mac-and-cheese out of a box. If that’s rare treat, then that’s totally okay. If it happens a few times a week, it’s a problem. So, this has to do with avoiding that problem.

One way I stay on track is to take a few minutes to set up conveniences foods when I have the time. The granola bars happened today both because I need them for my clients and because I had 5 minutes to spare. I keep a list of recipes on-hand, and some basic ingredients, and whip up some easy, healthy food for the pantry of freezer whenever I can squeeze it in, and it means I don’t have to resort to fast or processed foods.

You do have the time. Watching TV for an hour tonight? Take 5 minutes before your show or on a commercial to pop up some stove-top popcorn (don’t use microwave–it’s expensive, and it’s awful for you, even the “low-fat” stuff), toss it with some spritzed olive oil and your choice of spices (favorite combo of our are garlic, salt, and smoked paprika) and let it cook while you watch your show (eat some if you like, of course). Toss it into individual serving bags, and you’ve got a crunchy, low-cal, high-fiber snack for the week.  Sitting at the computer playing on Facebook? While you’re waiting for your updates, mix up a healthy meatloaf (black beans, lean ground beef, oats, an egg, spices, red & green pepper, onion, and whatever chopped veggies you want to toss in) and toss it in the oven. If you want, you can divide it up into individual serving sizes in small pyrex dishes to make lunches easier. Some of my favorite conveniences foods to whip up in a jiffy:

-Mini meatloafs

-Mini healthy muffins (there are even some decent mixes out there, and I add fruit and nuts if I use them)

-Mini frittatas

-Seasoned popcorn, pumpkin seeds, or nuts in individual packages

Boiled eggs

Dehydrator granola bars

-Cheese cubes (way cheaper to make these yourself than buy the pre-cuts)

-Homemade hot pockets (I use leftovers for filling), with a fat-free, whole wheat dough. You can even buy fairly healthy whole wheat pizza dough at some stores, and use that.

-Soup in the crockpot. There’s nothing faster: just throw in some beans, some broth, and a some veggies. If you want fancy soup, throw in some spices and canned tomatoes. Let it cook for a few hours, and you’ve got something easy for the week, or to throw in individual portions in the freezer for those lunches or dinners you just don’t have time to cook.

There’s more, I’m sure, but these are what I can think of off the top of my head. None of them takes more than a few minutes, and those few minutes save me hundreds of calories (and preservatives) every day.

To get started, just get a piece of paper and write down out what you tend to need convenience foods for: breakfasts, snacks, lunches, etc., and what kinds of things you’d like to have on-hand. Make a list and stick it up somewhere you can see it, and next time you have a couple of minutes, use those to help you make good food choices when it would otherwise be inconvenient.  There are tons of recipes on the internet for fast convenience foods, including some great whole-grain cookies (these are my current obsession)!

Planning is everything in making healthful choices, but you have to start in small steps. You’ve already started meal planning (right?), and this is just an extension of that, really. We’re all busy, and we all want those few extra minutes to do something else; but, it’s about priorities. “Convenience foods,” many of which aren’t food at all, are one of the biggest culprits behind obesity in this country, especially childhood obesity. You’ll feel better eating better food, and it only take a few times making healthy items for later before you have a nice little stash to choose from. Once that happens, you have to take those few minutes less often to replenish it.



Monday Healthy Eating

Plan your lunches.

Step away from the deli, get out of the drive-thru line, and put down that processed frozen lunch entree. Lunches are incredibly easy meals to plan, and doing so will save you calories and money while gaining nutrition and flavor.

Your lunch options will depend on your lunch facilities, so take a minute to think about it: do you have  access to a refrigerator? A microwave? Toaster oven?  Can you use a cooler if no refrigerator is available, or store a hot-bag or thermos? Once you’ve got that figured out, the rest is pretty easy.

Make a list of foods you like that fit those needs. Obviously, if you are completely without the ability to keep items cold at all (and aren’t allowed a cooler), your options are the most limited; but, their are still options. Nut butters sandwiches or wraps, fruit, nuts, baked goods,  and many more foods keep just fine for several hours without refrigeration. If you can’t heat things up and can’t carry a thermos or warm bag, you can still take many things that are great cold.

Some of my favorite lunches, not including leftovers:

  • Black bean burger wraps (pictured). I make up bean patties and toss them in the freezer, so I can just pull one out and crumble it into a wrap with whatever toppings I feel like!
  • Home made hot pockets, stuffed with everything from fresh fruit to turkey and swiss with fig jam, from meatloaf to mac and cheese! The crust recipe I use is below, adapted from this recipe in Vegetarian Magazine.
  • Miso chicken & shitake soup.
  • Boiled egg, sliced with heirloom tomatoes.
  • Pineapple tuna salad on baby spinach.
  • Miso noodles, with shredded chicken (canned works fine) and some veggies.

There are all kinds of things you can use to fill out your lunch, too. Roasted almonds (which release leptin,  the “full” hormone) sliced fruit, a side salad, homemade granola and yogurt…you get the idea. The list is endless, you just need to add a bit of creativity.

Planning your lunches for the week will help keep you on the healthy-eating track, and it’ll make you the envy of the office!

Hot Pocket Crust Recipe

  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 Tbs. cold butter or trans-fat free margarine (or soy margarine)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 Tbs. apple cider or white wine vinegar

Get the mixing directions here, and while you’re at it, you should really try the empanadas. They’re amazing.

Macaroni & Cheese..with Wine?

Absolutely. I was shocked, too, but when some friends and I hit Hickory Hill winery on a recent wine tour that is exactly what their Country Red screamed out: “Drink me with some really good mac & cheese!” So, we bought a bottle, and at the very first ripe opportunity I busted out a mac & cheese recipe recommended by both the owner of the winery and the friends who’d accompanied us on the tour.

It all starts out simple enough, with some cheese and noodles.

It ends up all goey and yummy like this:

I had to make some changes from Jaime Olliver’s recipe. I couldn’t find any decent fontina, let alone marscapone, and I needed to add some protein to it for The Boys.

• 1lb 2oz good-quality macaroni
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• a knob of butter
• a small bunch of fresh marjoram or oregano, leaves picked (I used dried oregano, because I had it on hand)

• 3½oz Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, plus extra for grating
• 3½oz grated sharp cheddar

• 3½oz Muenster
• 3½oz cream cheese
• ¼ of a nutmeg

• 1/2 lb. smoked sausage, diced small

•  1/2 med. red pepper, small
An additional bit grated cheddar (or fresh mozzarella) and Parmesan cheeses reserved.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. On stove top, cook the macaroni, and drain, reserving 1/2 c. of cooking water. In pan, heat butter and herbs until herbs are crispy. Add macaroni and all cheeses except the reserved grated cheddar, and several tablespoons of the starch water. Stir until creamy. Stir in sausage and pepper. Pour macaroni into a lightly greased casserole, and sprinkle grated cheddar over top, then Parmesan. Put in oven, uncovered, for 10 minutes until cheese on top is bubbly. Serve warm, with a red wine, and enjoy!

Warm Up Fall with Baked Oatmeal!

Baked Oatmeal, using leftover oatmeal

-3 cups leftover oatmeal

-1 cup milk

-1/2 c. honey or molasses

-1/2 c.  granola

-sliced apples, peaches, bannanas (slice lengthwise), or other fruit of your choice. Berries are also fine

-2 tbs. butter

Preheat oven to 350. Combine oatmeal, milk, and honey, stirring until combined. Pour into oiled or sprayed 9″ pan. Top with granola. Lay fruit gently on top of granola, then cut butter into small squares and sprinkle on top. Bake for 20-30 minutes, depending on how brown you want it. Serve with whole-grain toast.

It’s Personal!

I love these personal frittatas. Farm fresh eggs, local greens and tomatoes,  fresh milk, and grated Parmesan. They’re also incredibly impressive coming out of the oven, and don’t take much to prepare to perfection. Did I mention they freeze well? What’s not to love?

There’s no set recipe, and I change them up a lot depending on the ingredients I have to hand and the seasons; but, the basics are:

-A small, personal tart pan

-Baking spray

-2 farm fresh eggs

-2-3 tbs. fresh milk, cream, or sour cream.

-Salt, pepper, ground mustard, cayenne. Other spices, like thyme, basil, oregano, etc. can also be added to compliment your fillings.

– Fillings of your choice. Meats should be cooked.

-2 tbs. hard cheese, finely grated (I like Parmesan or Sharp Cheddar)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray pan liberally with baking spray and place pan on cookie sheet,  then spoon in about 4 tbs. filling ingredients. In separate bowl, beat together eggs, cream, and a pinch of each spice with a whisk. Stir in all but 1 tsp. of your cheese, and pour into tart pan. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top of egg mixture, and place tart pan (still on the cookie tray) into oven. Bake for 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into center. Allow to cool completely in tart pan, then gently run a butter knife around the edge of the frittata and remove from pan.

You’re likely to be seeing more “individual” foods here, as Thadd’s back in school and needs things he can toss into a cooler and I have clients that need something they can carry to work easily. If you’ve got favorite “individual” foods, share with us! Or, if there’s something you’d like to see, just ask and I’ll see what I can do!

Grilled Mojo Pork Loin Recipe

You can buy mojo-marinaded pork loin, but it’s expensive. The ingredients to make the marinade are probably things many of you already have in your kitchen, and making it yourself means you get to skip all the junk that’s usually in store-bought marinades.

Mojo Marinade

-Garlic, minced. I used about 5 cloves

-Juice from 3 oranges  (or about 1/2 c. from a jug, if you’ve got it)

-1 medium white or yellow onion, chopped

– Juice from 5-7 limes, pluse zest from 1. Or, 1/2 c. from concentrate and zest from 1 lime.

– 1/2 tsp. cumin

-3 tbs. fresh oregano, chopped (or about 1 tsp. dried)

– 1/2 tsp. lemon pepper (or, 1/2 tsp. ground pepper and zest of 2 lemons)

– 1/2 tsp.  freshly ground black pepper (use this in addition to above seasoning)

– 1 tsp. ground sea or kosher salt

– 1 c. oil. EVOO or canola.

-Hot sauce, chili sauce, or adobo sauce, to taste (if desired).

Toss everything in a blender and puree.That’s it!

This is great on chicken, fish, and especially pork. We did a loin on the grill, and it was spectacular.

Recipe Review: Chicken Tagine

I’ve really been enjoying preparing some uncommon (at least in the US) ethnic dishes. Moroccan has become a particular favorite of late, and I’m also experimenting with Loation more.  Tagines are essentially very aromatic, hearty stews. Like the curries of India, there are as many tagine styles and recipe as there are people cooking them.  This one filled the house with a mouth-watering aroma, and the flavors were rich but bright.

  • 2lbs. Of chopped chicken meat – We prefer brown meat.
  • 2 Medium onions chopped.
  • 1lb. Carrots chopped into bite size peices.
  • 6 Cloves of garlic – chopped.
  • 4ozs. Sultanas.
  • 8ozs dried apricots.
  • 1 Tablespoon of cumin seeds.
  • 2 x 2″ pieces of cinamon stick.
  • 3 Bay Leaves.
  • 1/2 Pint of chicken stock.
  • 1/2 Pint of fresh tomato sauce.
  • 3 – 6 Dried chillis (depending on how hot you like it).
  • 2 Tablespoons of honey
  • 1 Lemon – juice of.
  • 1 Bunch of coriander leaves – chopped.
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  1. Now this is the Really Easy Bit.
  2. Mix all the ingredients together (no browning) in the Tagine or Casserole.
  3. Put the lid on the Tagine (or seal the casserole with a lid or some aluminum foil.
  4. Place in a hot oven 400º for 30 Minutes.
  5. Then reduce the heat to 300º and cook for a further 2 Hours.

This recipe calls for service over couscous, but I did this over bulgar and enjoyed it.  It’s as easy as it claims to be, very healthy, and really flavorful. I’ll be making this more often, and hopefully next time I’ll get some pictures!