Tag Archive | healthy options

Fall Greens for Comfort

The calendar says it is still fall, however, the temperatures outside say that winter is here.  I love the cooler weather and I love the fall vegetables even more.  Needless to say, I have quite a few favorites for my fall comfort foods.

Today is for Kale.  Curly, leafy, dark-green, wonderful Kale.  Steamed alone or used in soups and stews, kale is a wonderful vegetable to add to your diet.  Filled with vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, calcium, iron, vitamin B-6 and magnesium, and more,  this leafy green adds a powerful nutritional punch to your meals.  I actually crave this veggie on occasion!  So I decided to cook it much like I do spinach, with plenty of garlic and onions and a little olive oil!

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First chop half of a sweet onion in smaller chunks, then finely chop 3 cloves of garlic and sauté over low heat in extra virgin olive oil until the onions sweat and are clear.

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While the onions and garlic sauté, slice up a green onion (also known as scallions) including the white bulb.  Add this to the onion and garlic mixture and sauté together. 

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Wash and pat dry a nice bunch of fresh kale.  Roughly chop into smaller pieces, taking care to remove any stems that may be tough.  Pile this into the pan on top of the onions and garlic and toss together.  Watch closely as it begins to wilt.  I take care not to let it get too dark.  Which is why I put about 1/3 cup of water into the greens and put a lid on it briefly.  If you get distracted and let it sit a little too long, they don’t remain a bright green, which is how I prefer my greens. (Note in the photo below….I got distracted by two trouble maker feline children and my greens got a little too dark,) Sprinkle a pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

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Cyn’s Steamed Kale

1/2 medium sweet onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 large bunch kale, washed, pat dry and roughly chopped with stems removed

1 large stalk green onion, finely chopped, including the white bulb

pinch Kosher salt

1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/3 c. water

Sauté onion, garlic and green onion in extra virgin olive oil until soft.  Add chopped greens and toss together.  Pour water over greens and let steam in lidded pan until greens begin to turn really bright.  Add pinch kosher salt and black pepper.  Watch closely so greens don’t overcook and turn dark.  Remove from heat and remove lid.  Lightly toss into a serving bowl and enjoy.

It doesn’t matter what anyone says, but nothing beats a nice big bowl of greens on a cold wintery day!  Bon Appetit!

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Hummus–From Cyn’s Kitchen

Today I am starving.  Must be the fall nip in the air or the rain.  Whatever it is, I decided it was time to make hummus.  I’d bought the ingredients days ago and each time the pantry door opens, they’re calling my name!

So here goes!  Grab your food processor or blender and get it set up, ready to go.  Now gather your ingredients together: 1-2 cans of garbanzo beans, tahini (sesame paste), garlic, spices, parsley, extra virgin olive oil.

HummusPrep

As you can see from the photo above, I just dumped everything in the food processor.  I used just 1 can of garbanzos/chick peas.  I forgot to soak the dry beans overnight, so whatever was in the pantry is what I’m using.  Drain the liquid from the canned beans into a cup or small glass and set aside.  You will want to use some of this later.  You’ll need nice pinch of sea salt, about 1/4 tsp cumin, paprika, 4 tsp tahini, several cloves of garlic, fresh chopped parsley or dried parsley, juice of one lime or lemon and extra virgin olive oil.

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Turn on your food processor and while it’s blending everything together, open the spout and pour your olive oil in.  Leave on until smooth and creamy.  Pour into a bowl, garnish with a few parsley leaves, sprinkle paprika and drizzle a little olive oil.  Here’s the recipe….keep in mind, I do not measure, so measurements are approximate.  Adjust to suit your taste.

 

Hummus

1 can Bush’s Garbanzo Beans/Chick Peas

4 tsp Tahini (ground sesame paste)

2 large garlic cloves

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp cumin

about 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and extra for drizzling

juice of one lime or lemon (I had limes in the kitchen this time)

paprika

coriander or parsley leaves, finely minced or 1/4 tsp dried

Drain the garbanzos/chick peas into a cup or bowl.  Set liquid aside.  Rinse the beans in cold water and place into the food processor.  Add tahini, garlic, sea salt, cumin, lime/lemon juice, and about 1/2 of the bean liquid.  Turn on the food processor and pour the olive oil in it while it runs.

When completely combined and smooth, pour into a serving dish.  Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle paprika and garnish with parsley leaves.  You can also take 3 whole garbanzos/chick peas and arrange in the middle for decoration.

Serve and enjoy as a dip with raw veggies or as a spread for sandwiches on bread or in pita pockets!

Red Quinoa Breakfast

There’s been a lot of talk about it and I’ve seen it used in so many recipes but I had never tried it.  Many of my friends eat it for breakfast, some use it to make side dishes, veggie burgers and such.  Always on the lookout for good, healthy foods, I finally broke down and bought me a bag.

 

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Since my really good friend, Sandra, told me that she eats this for breakfast every day, I decided I would try it for breakfast first.  What better way to start using a grain than to have it to start my day? As you can see from the photo above, the little red grains are super tiny!  And the red quinoa is supposed to have a sweeter flavor to it than regular quinoa.  I wasn’t sure if I should have soaked them or not, but I decided to just follow the directions on the package and cook them.

When I make oatmeal, I like to add raisins or dried cranberries to them while cooking, thus eliminating the need for other sweeteners.  The benefits of these little seeds includes that they are quick cooking and high in fiber, very easy to assimilate and packed full of B vitamins, rich in folate and magnesium and is supposed to have the best amino acid profile of all grains.

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Cyn’s Organic Red Quinoa Breakfast

1-1/4 cups water, brought to a boil

1 cup Eden’s Organic Red Quinoa

1-1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1-2 pitted dates chopped small

1 tbsp Grandma’s unsulfured molasses (optional)

1 tsp Celtic Gray Sea Salt

Wash the quinoa several times in cold water and add to the salted boiling water.  Add vanilla, chopped dates and/or molasses. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.  Set for 5 minutes.

Stir and serve!

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I left mine a little “juicy” and ate it as it.  What a wonderful, nutty flavor that filled me up and with my piece for fruit and a slice of whole grain toast, stayed full for another 5 hours.  I think that I will try it in a burger or a salad next!

Bon appétit!

Healthier Red Velvet Cupcakes

One of my favorite shows to watch is “Not My Mama’s Meals” where Bobby Deen takes his Mama’s dishes and revamps them to lower calorie, healthier versions.  Since that is something I like to do as well, I feel in an odd sort of way that he and I have something in common!

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Since we keep getting teased for Spring by Mother Nature with some warm days here and there and my daffodils and crocus popping up, then a day or three of snow and ice….I wanted to make something that would just exude Spring.  What about cheery red velvet cupcakes with that fresh taste of spring?

So, here goes!  Yes, I altered this even more….couldn’t help myself.  Next time I think I will reduce the amount of almond extract.  It was a bit much in my opinion, but still very good. And those eggs are farm fresh eggs, which as you can see, I whittled down to just 2 from 4 in the recipe.  Isn’t the blue one beautiful?

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Bobby’s Red  Velvet Cupcakes

6- small roasted beets

1/4 cup canola oil

3/4 cut low-fat buttermilk

1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 tsp almond extract

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

2-1/2 cups cake flour

1-1/2 cups raw granulated sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1-1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

Frosting:

1- 8oz pkg Neufchatel (reduced fat) cream cheese

1-1/4 c. confectioner’s sugar

1/4 c. reduced-fat sour cream

zest of 1 orange, reserve some for garnish

1/4 c. chopped pecans

1/4 c. toasted coconut

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Directions:

For the cupcakes – Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line cupcake pan with liners or spray with nonstick baking spray.

Add the roasted beets and oil into a blender or food processor.  Puree until the mixture is a thick liquid.  Add the buttermilk, butter, almond extract, vanilla extract and eggs, pulsing until well combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt together until well incorporated.

Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir/pulse until there are no lumps.  Spoon the batter into the prepared cupcake pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or about 15-20 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool completed in the pan on a cooling rack.

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For the frosting – Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium then high speed until very smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  On low speed, add the confectioner’s sugar, sour cream, a big pinch of the orange zest (reserve enough to garnish tops later) and blend together about 1-2 minutes.

Frost each cupcake and garnish with pecans, coconut and/or orange zest.

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In the frosting, the sour cream was also omitted as I didn’t have any and I don’t usually add it to my frosting.  And I didn’t have any coconut or pecans on hand.  I also substituted some of the flour for whole wheat pastry flour. These were really good.  And my husband’s co-workers got to enjoy these since I sent most of them with him to work the next day!

Enjoy!

Easy Leftover Lentil Cheddar Patties

Digging through my fridge, I came across some bits and pieces of items that needed to be used up and decided it was time for some homemade veggie burgers!  Since we had lentils a couple days before, it just made sense to use up the little bit that was left.

If you keep your refrigerator stocked and your pantry stocked with certain staples all the time, you can create something “new” for dinner!  So, as you may already know, I don’t measure when I cook, so these measurements are approximates and you may need to adjust for your taste.

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Ingredients:

1/2 medium onion, finely chopped

1 medium carrot, sliced on the diagonal, julienned and chopped into small pieces

1/4 green bell pepper, finely chopped

1/4 red bell pepper, finely chopped

1/2 cup leftover lentil stoup (very thick soup)

3/4 of 1 package Town House crackers crumbled OR 2-3 slices whole wheat bread torn into fine pieces

1/2 cup finely grated cheddar cheese or whatever cheese you have

1/2 tsp. garlic powder or 2-cloves fresh garlic finely chopped

1/2 tsp. onion powder

large pinch parsley leaves, dried – if you have fresh, finely chop about 1/4 cup

(since the stoup and crackers are already seasoned, you won’t need to add any further salt)

2 farm fresh eggs

In a large bowl (see photo above) mix together all the ingredients until well blended.

Taking a quart size canning lid, spray with non-stick spray.

Spoon patty mixture into the canning lid. Press into the lid to shape the patty.

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Turn into a heated cast iron past that has been lightly oiled with pure extra-virgin olive oil.

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Cook on each side until lightly browned. 

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This recipe made me six patties that fit perfectly on a medium sized hamburger bun or as we did, eat it as your protein side-dish that can be served alongside a salad and dinner as pictured below.  This dinner plate has garlic shells and corn paired with the lentil patty.

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Enjoy!

Cottage Cheese Pecan “Meat” Balls

My parents didn’t start out as vegetarians, but by the time my brother and I were toddlers, they had switched to a very strict, healthy diet of plant-based foods.  Truth be told, Mom said I never would eat any meat products, even as a baby.  Anytime she would try to feed me beef, chicken, hot dogs…whatever….I would spit them out.  So I guess I was “born” a vegetarian!

This dish is good several different ways when you’re looking to add a protein to your Meat-Free Monday meals.  If you are vegan, you can try substituting the cheese for tofu.  I personally have not tried to “vegan-ise” this recipe, so it would definitely be an experiment!  These meatballs are great in spaghetti sauce, bake them in a marinara or cream of mushroom soup sauce and serve as a side dish.  Or you can make “meatball” subs with them!

Here’s what you’re going to need:

Large mixing bowl, large wooden spoon, raw wheat germ, 16 oz. container of fat-free cottage cheese, pecan meal, onion, eggs, seasoned bread crumbs and a square baking dish with a lid.

Cottage Cheese Pecan Meatballs

1 cup fat-free cottage cheese (8 oz.)

1/2 cup raw wheat germ

1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs (Panko is great too)

1 cup pecan meal

3 eggs (I use 2-farm fresh eggs)

1 large onion, minced

 

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Combine all ingredients well and using a cereal tablespoon, scoop out into your hands and roll into balls.  The mixture will be thick, but very moist.

Preheat your oven to 350*F.  Spray your baking dish with non-stick spray.

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I actually doubled this batch and made bigger “meat”balls even though they’re not exactly the same size! And because onions and my hubby are not friends, I substituted 1 tsp onion powder for the chopped onions to keep the flavor.

Cover and bake for an hour or until golden brown.

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Serve and enjoy!

Cheesy Corn Dog Cakes

Is there any one food that takes you back to childhood? Do the memories flood back front and center when you think of certain dishes that mom used to make and everyone gobbled them up like there was no tomorrow?

For me there are many fond memories in the kitchen. Mom started me out at the age of 6, shortly after I learned just how hot a burner was by putting my hand flat on the big red, cool looking swirly thing on the stove. Needless to say, singed, blistered fingers and palm taught me quickly that in the kitchen, red hot means red hot and not to touch! But there are just as many good memories with mom in the kitchen and homemade corn dogs is one of them.

Recently Jeff and I were hungry for these tasty treats but because I am incorporating healthier cooking in our lifestyle, frying them just didn’t seem a good option. Not to mention having to eat them off sticks! The wheels in my head started to turn…..why couldn’t corn dogs be baked AND have no sticks? The solution? A 12-cup muffin pan!

You’ll have to forgive me for not having pictures of the ingredients and preparation because I was so excited about this that I forgot to take any!

Cheesy Corn Dog Cakes Muffin Pan

The feverish search for the best corn dog batter recipe began on Google! I wanted one that enveloped the whole essence of growing up in the 70s and was just good, old’ corn batter.

Here is the recipe I found:

Corn Dog Batter

1-1/4 c. all purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

3/4 c. corn meal – not corn bread mix

4 tbsp. sugar – you can use any substitute like stevia extract-1/4 tsp, etc.

1 tsp. aluminum-free baking powder

2 eggs

1-1/2 c. low fat milk or unsweetened soy or other nut milk

(just take care to select one without strong flavors)

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. This batter will be thick, but make sure it’s not too stiff. Add milk or water by tablespoon if too stiff until you get your batter thick again.

Cheesy Corn Dog Cakes Ramekins

Now to assemble the Cheesy Corn Dogs:

Taking your hot dogs or franks, cut them into thirds

Shred 1 cup Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Optional – your favorite chili (This became Jeff’s favorite addition)

Grease muffin pan or ramekins using non-stick spray

Cheesy Corn Dog Cakes

Using a 12-muffin baking pan or 4-ounce ramekins, spoon 2 Tbsp. batter into the bottom of each muffin or ramekin, place 1/3 piece of hot dog or frank on end into the center of the batter. Sprinkle cheese around the hot dog or frank. Add a teaspoon of chili – not too much or you will have a mess! Top off with spooning 2-Tbsp. batter over the top, completely covering the hot dog/frank, cheese and chili.

Bake in a 350F pre-heated oven until golden brown. About 14-15 minutes depending on altitude.

Serve with ketchup, your favorite sauces or just alone!

Open Cheesy Corn Dog Cakes

These were an absolute hit with my hubby and the girls at work. I’ve received a special request from my nephew, a very hungry Marine, who has just recently returned home from his 2nd Tour. I’m sure that once you serve these up, there will be requests for them again and again.