Saturday, June 30, 2012

Classic Remake: Corn Casserole

Pin It Happy Thanksgiving! ...I know it's technically the middle of the summer, but who says we can't celebrate Thanksgiving year round?  It's not like we are only thankful in the month of November...right?  Just go with me here for a second... I'm thankful for the beautiful sun, the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables available at the Farmer's Market, spending the day on the lake, being done with organic chemistry, my family and friends, my new job, and so much more! 

What's with all this Thanksgiving talk you might ask?  I recently saw a recipe for Lightened Up COrn Casserole that one of my favorite blogger's posted and just had to make it!  But as always I can't get myself to simply make a recipe exactly as it was written.  I love adding my own tweaks, additions, and substitutions!  I do have to give her some of the credit though, so if you want to see the original recipe head on over to Chocolate Covered Katie's site.  Her site is seriously amazing and she has thousands upon thousands of viewers. 

Once again I am off topic...back to the recipe!  Katie had posted a recipe for Lightened Up Corn Casserole, which is my absolute favorite part of Thanksgiving/Christmas/Easter dinner.  I don't know what it is about it, but I could eat a whole plate of it and skip the rest of the meal and be completely satisfied.  The only problem is...it's far from healthy. It's ok to indulge a little on holiday's, but why not make it healthier if it tastes just about as good?  Once again this goes right back to my blog's slogan, "Finding the delicious in nutritious." 

CORN CASSEROLE
Inspired by CCK.
I didn't have any shredded cheddar cheese at the time, but I think sprinkling a little on top would really put this recipe over the edge!

Ingredients:
1/2 cup Yellow cornmeal*
1 cup Skim milk
2 cups Frozen corn
1/2 cup Red pepper, chopped
1 cup Chicken broth, low sodium
1/2 cup TVP**
1/4-1/2 tsp Salt
1/4-1/2 tsp Turmeric***
To taste: onion powder, basil, and garlic powder
1/4-1/2 tsp Salt
2 packets Stevia (or other choice of sweetener)
6 oz. Plain nonfat yogurt

*Make sure to use yellow cornmeal instead of white cornmeal because yellow cornmeal has a much higher nutritional value according to the NuVal system.
**You can omit the TVP all together if need be, but be sure to reduce the broth to only 1/2 a cup.  If you want to know more about TVP feel free to ask me any questions! 
***Turmeric is optional, but it gives the casserole a nice yellow color if you are worried about appearance.

Directions:
1.  Add the cornmeal, milk, frozen corn, and red peppers to a pot and turn the stove on to medium heat.  Make sure to stir this occasionally to avoid sticking on the bottom of the pot.
2.  In a small bowl mix the TVP and chicken broth together and let sit for about 5 minutes.
3. Add the TVP/chicken broth to the pot and stir to incorporate.
4. Whisk in the salt, turmeric, onion powder, basil, and garlic powder.  Make sure to taste it every once in a while to see how it tastes and whether or not you need to add more seasonings.
5.  Let the casserole cook until it is as thick as you want.  I like mine really thick!
6. Remove pot from the heat and whisk in the stevia and plain yogurt.
7. If it becomes too runny you can always put it back on the heat.  Or if you find it's too thick for your liking add some water.
8. Serve the casserole with a little shredded cheese on top and enjoy!
Makes 9 (1/2 cup) servings.

Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 100
Total Fat: 0.5 g
     Sat. Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 1.7 mg
Sodium: 134.7 mg (Salt not included in this because I didn't measure mine...)
Potassium: 213.9 mg
Total Carbs: 17.6 g
     Dietary Fiber: 2 g
     Sugars: 4.7 g
Protein: 7 g
Vitamin A: 6.9 %
Vitamin C: 28.4 %
Calcium: 6.8 %
Iron: 4.7 %

Friday, June 29, 2012

Post-Workout Trail Mix

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Do you like runnning?  I like running especially when I'm in a bad mood.  Yet surprisingly I used to hate running...but I was in both track and cross country in high school.  Track I didn't mind, but man did I dread each and every cross country race I ever ran.  It's more of a love/hate relationship now. 

Reasons why I love running...
1. The feeling after you are done is indescribable.
2. Great way to de-stress.
3. Great exercise and so good for you!
4. You can do it almost anywhere.
5. It can take you on wild adventures exploring places you've never been before.
6. It's a great time to have long deep conversation with friends.

Reasons why I don't love running so much...
1. It kills my knees.
2. It's running...I'm mean seriously.
3. Sometimes it gets boring.

Whether it's a good day for running or a bad day, it is still important to fuel your body right before and after.  Oh I just thought of another reason why I love running... it burns a ton of calories so you can eat more!  Score.  No, it doesn't mean you can eat whatever you want, but your body will definitely need to be refueled  after your run.  I am not going to go into full details of what you should be eating before and after you run today for time reasons.  I can, however, tell you that this Lentil Trail Mix is the perfect post-run (or any workout really) snack!  The lentils are full of fiber and protein (my favs!) and the raisins/craisins will help replenish your energy stores.  Pepitas (pumpkin seeds) are also packed full of health benefits!  Natural News calls them "One of Nature's perfect foods."  For more information on pepitas check out their article here.

P.S. Don't forget to answer the question of the day!
LENTIL TRAIL MIX

Ingredients:
1/2 cup Green lentils
1/2 cup Red lentils
Salt

1/2 cup Raisins
1/2 cup Craisins
1/2 cup Pepitas
Chocolate chips (I didn't use any, but I'm sure they'd be great in there!)

Note: You can really add whatever else you want to this trail mix to fit your own personal liking.  Try adding banana chips, dried mango, nuts, or toasted unsweetened coconut.  The possibilities are endless!

Directions:
1. Measure the lentils out into a container with a lid.  Fill with water so the lentils are covered, put the lid on, and let sit overnight.  (You don't want to skip this step!  Your friends will thank you later... soaking the lentils helps get rid of their gassy side effect. Haha.)
2. After they have soaked for 12-24 hours, drain and rinse the lentils.
3. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the lentils turning the heat down to about medium-high.
4. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F.
5. Let the lentils gently boil for about 5 minutes.  Make sure the lentils are not cooked all the way.  They should still be firm before you bake them.
6. Line a colander with paper towel and pour the lentils in to drain the water from them.
7. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (foil might work too) and evenly spread the drained lentils out.
8. Liberally season the lentils with salt.
9. Bake lentils for 15 minutes and then take them out and stir them around to ensure even baking and no burning.
10.  Bake another 10 minutes and stir.  Repeat until the lentils are crunchy.  I think mine baked a total of 45 minutes, but they could have probably gone slightly longer.
11.  Let lentils cool while you measure out whatever else you want in your trail mix.  I used raisins, craisins, and pepitas because that's what I happened to have in my pantry at the moment.
12.  Add lentils to mixture and shake shake shake!  I stored my trail mix in an old mason jar and used a recycled grated parmesan cheese cap for the top.  (Yes they magically fit perfectly!  Thanks Pintrest for the wonderful idea.)
Makes about 10 1/3 cup servings.


Nutrition Facts:
1 serving = 1/3 cup mix
Calories: 120
Total Fat: 2.4 g
     Sat. Fat: 0.6 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 244.8 mg
Potassium: 120 mg
Total Carbs: 21.2 g
     Dietary Fiber: 4.6 g
     Sugars: 10.3 g
Protein: 5.4 g
Vitamin A: 0 %
Vitamin C: 0 %
Calcium: 1.2 %
Iron: 6.4 %
                                                                                                            I told you it fit!

QUESTION OF THE DAY:
What's your favorite pre/post-workout snack?
Chocolate milk is one of mine!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Mocha Cappuccino Butter

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I don't have too much to say about this one except that if you love coffee and you love chocolate... this is to die for.  Mmm so good!  For those of you who are not too big on coffee try adding only 1 tsp of the instant coffee for a Brownie Butter.  The coffee will then act as an enhancer to the cocoa help bring out the dreamy chocolate flavor. 

Like the Oatmeal Cookie Butter this is great on toast, on muffins, in oatmeal, or straight off a spoon! Enjoy! 

MOCHA CAPPUCCINO BUTTER

Ingredients:
9 sheets (1 sleeve) Chocolate graham crackers
1/2 cup Old fashion oats
1/2 cup All bran cereal (or another 1/2 cup Oats)
1/4 cup Unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tsp Instant coffee granules (or more depending on how much of a coffee addict you are)
4 packets Stevia
1 tsp Vanilla extract
2 tbsp Honey
1- 1 1/2 cups Water


Directions:
1. Place graham crackers, oats, and cereal in food processor and let run. It should make a flour like texture.
2. After a minute or so, add the cocoa, coffee granules, and stevia through the top of the cover while the food processor is still running.
3. Add vanilla and honey through the top and let process another minute.
4. Slowly add in water. Start with a 1/2 cup and then add 1/4 cup at a time until you get the consistency you want.
Makes about 2 cups.


Note: Store in the  fridge just like the Cookie Butter.


Nutrition Facts:
Based on 1 tbsp
Calories: 31
Total Fat: 0.6 g
     Sat. Fat: 0.2 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 23 mg
Potassium: 4.1 mg
Total Carbs: 6.3 g
     Dietary Fiber: 0.7 g
     Sugars: 2 g
Protein: 0.6 g
Vitamin A: 0%
Vitamin C: 0.3%
Calcium: 0.4%
Iron: 2.4%





Don't you just
want to lick it right
off the knife?!





     
                           

Mmmmmmm so dreamy....

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My Love for Sneaky Ingredients

Pin It Soooo by now you've probably figured out that I love using sneaky ingredients in my recipes.  There's nothing like a surprised face on one of my taste testers saying, "You put WHAT in this?!?!"  That to me translates to SUCCESS.  I don't know why it gets me so excited, but I just love sneaking healthy ingredients into ordinary recipes. 

Here's a few of my past sneaky recipes:
Rhubarb Bars (Sesame Seeds)
Sheppard's Pie (Cauliflower #1)
Fettuccine Alfredo (Cauliflower #2)
Chocolate Cake (Pumpkin)
Veggie Pizza (Cauliflower #3...I sure do love cauliflower! Haha)
Sweet Potato Pie (Sweet Potato)
Southwestern Pasta (Spaghetti Squash)
Zucchini Crisp (Zucchini)
PP&J Bars (Garbanzo Beans #1)
Strawberry Cheesecake (Cottage Cheese)
Brownies (Black Beans)

Notice some of the ingredients don't seem too sneaky be as they are listed in the recipe's title...but I assure you if you don't tell your taste testers they'll never know!

Today's recipe is super versatile and can be used in several ways.  The "Pizza" crust can be used as a wrap too.  Plus the spices and herbs in the crust/wrap can be easily adapted to fit any of your favorite pizza toppings or wrap fillings.  I have to admit the crust recipe is not entirely my own, but I've designed several various pizza recipes to make up for it.  I've also added a new section to my posts called "Question of the Day."  So don't forget to scroll all the way to the bottom and leave your comment! 


SNEAKY VEGGIE PIZZA
Crust/Wrap is slightly adapted from Fast Paleo
This is my version of the Mexican Taco Pizza, but if this doesn't sound good to you try another flavor! You can even make wraps instead of pizza with this crust because it's super light and versatile. 
Ingredients:
Cauliflower Crust/Wrap                                            Classic Cheese Pizza      
1 cup Cauliflower, cut up into chunks                       1/2 tsp Oregano*  
1 large Egg                                                                 1/2 tsp Basil*    
1 tsp Chia seeds (optional)                                        1/4 cup Mozzarella cheese  
                                                                                   1/4 cup Pizza sauce
                                                                                                             
Mediterranean Pizza                                                  Mexican Taco Pizza
1/2-1 tsp Basil*                                                          1/2 tsp Taco seasoning*
1/2 cup Spinach, raw (or 1/4 cup frozen)                   4 oz. Chicken breast, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup Cherry tomatoes, cut in half                          1/4 cup Black beans, reduced salt
4 oz. Chicken breast, cut into small pieces                1/4 cup Salsa
2 tbsp Reduced fat feta cheese                                   2 tbsp. Lowfat cottage cheese or mozzarella
                                                                                    Jalapenos (optional)

Pesto Pizza
1/2 tsp Basil*
1/2 tsp Garlic powder*
1 1/2 tbsp Pesto
2 oz. Chicken breast, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup Mushrooms
2 Artichoke hearts, sliced
2 tbsp Freshly grated aged parmesan cheese

Directions:
 1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
2. Finely grate or place cauliflower into a food processor (blender might work, but once again I have not tried it).
3. Add egg, chia seeds, and seasonings and blend until very well combined (seasonings for desired pizza flavor are noted by a * but feel free to design your own flavor).
4. Pour batter onto a greased sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil on a cookie sheet.
5. Spread batter out into a circle to desired thickness.  Mine turned out to be about a 9 inch pizza size, but you could also make a few small pizzas which might be easier to flip.
6. Bake pizza crust for 10-15 minutes and flip.  A tip on flipping is to take another piece of parchment or aluminum foil and place it on top and then using a spatula to help you quickly flip the entire crust over.
7.  The bottom side should be slightly golden.  Bake for about 5 more minutes.
8. Remove from oven and turn heat down to about 350 degrees F.
9.  Top pizza with desired toppings and place back into the oven until toppings are warm and cheese is melted.
10. Enjoy!
Makes 1 personal size pizza.

Nutrition Facts:
Cauliflower Crust/Wrap                      Mexican Taco Pizza
Calories: 115                                        Calories: 320
Total Fat: 6.1 g                                     Total Fat: 9.5 g
     Sat. Fat: 1.5 g                                       Sat. Fat: 2.3 g
     Poly. Fat: 0.9 g                                     Poly. Fat: 0.9 g
Cholesterol: 185 mg                             Cholesterol: 252.5 mg
Sodium: 100 mg                                   Sodium: 937.5 mg (Kind of high due to the salsa...)
Potassium: 393 mg                               Potassium: 676.7 mg
Total Carbs: 7.3 g                                 Total Carbs: 22.1 g
     Dietary Fiber: 4.2 g                              Dietary Fiber: 9.7 g
     Sugars: 2.4 g                                        Sugars: 7.9 g
Protein: 9 g                                           Protein: 38.5 g
Vitamin A: 6.3 %                                 Vitamin A: 23.3 %
Vitamin C: 77.3 %                               Vitamin C: 97.3 %
Calcium: 6.9 %                                    Calcium: 11.9 %
Iron: 8.4 %                                           Iron: 17.4 %

Mediterranean Pizza                             Classic Pizza
Calories: 275                                       Calories: 225
Total Fat: 10.7 g                                  Total Fat: 11.1 g
Sat. Fat: 3.3 g                                           Sat. Fat: 4.5 g
Poly. Fat: 1 g                                            Poly. Fat: 0.9 g
Cholesterol: 252.5 mg                         Cholesterol: 200 mg
Sodium: 581.9 mg                               Sodium: 610 mg
Potassium: 565 mg                              Potassium: 393 mg
Total Carbs: 9.8 g                                Total Carbs: 14.3 g
      Dietary Fiber: 4.9 g                             Dietary Fiber: 5.2 g
      Sugars: 3.4 g                                       Sugars: 5.4 g
Protein: 34.2 g                                     Protein: 18 g
Vitamin A: 39.4 %                              Vitamin A: 16.3 %
Vitamin C: 84.4 %                              Vitamin C: 83.3 %
Calcium: 12.4 %                                  Calcium: 28.9 %
Iron: 14.7 %                                         Iron: 10.4 %

Pesto Pizza                                       
Calories: 324                              
Total Fat: 18 g                                    
     Sat. Fat: 5.3 g                                     
     Poly. Fat: 1 g                                      
Cholesterol: 224.9 mg                        
Sodium: 897.4 mg                              
Potassium: 447.9 mg                       
Total Carbs: 13.1 g                        
     Dietary Fiber: 6.1 g                            
     Sugars: 4.1 g                                      
Protein: 25.8 g                                     
Vitamin A: 15.6 %                           
Vitamin C: 80.7 %                           
Calcium: 22.7 %                           
Iron: 11.7 %                                  

NEW: Question of the Day
I'm adding a new section to my posts to get more feedback from my viewers.  Comments are greatly appreciated! :)
What is your dream pizza? 


Monday, June 25, 2012

Healthified Cookie Dough

Pin It Being a huge fan of cookie dough, I've been wanting to find a way to healthify it.  I'm not sure if healthify is even a word by the way, but its practically what this blog is all about so if it wasn't before it is now! :)  Anyways... I love cookie dough.  Maybe not as much as my friend from back home (you know who you are!), but I definitely do love it.  One night I was having a sleepover with my cookie dough obsessed friend and we ended up taking spoons to a big bucket of premade cookie dough....low and behold we didn't feel too good a few hours later and ended up spending the rest of the night curled up in a ball on the floor with stomach aches.  Not fun.  Yet we still didn't learn our lesson because we ended up eating two more rolls of premade cookie dough at another sleepover a few weeks later.   Smart I know.  While it probably wouldn't be the best idea to eat the whole batch of my healthy cookie dough either, it is definitely a better option.

My healthified cookie dough is by no means low calorie, but it is super healthy and packed full of health benefits!  Instead of butter and refined sugar my recipes uses coconut butter, honey, and molasses.  All of which have superb health benefits!

HEALTHIFIED COOKIE DOUGH
I put mine in some healthy homemade vanilla ice cream.  However, it kind of melted really fast in my hot house so it looks a little runny, but I assure you it was delicious!  You could also mix it in the base of my DQ Oreo Cookie Blizzard (Cookie-n-Creme Milkshake) recipe for a DQ Cookie Dough Blizzard.  Mmmm.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup Coconut butter*
1 cup Old fashion oats ground into a flour**
1 scant tsp Molasses***
2 packets Stevia
1 tbsp Honey
1 tsp Vanilla extract
Dash salt
1/2 cup Water
1/4 cup chocolate chips

* This is where most of the calories in the recipe come from, but they are healthy calories no worries. :)  Check out my post on coconut here.  To make coconut butter put 2 cups of unsweetened shredded coconut into a food processor and let run for about 10 minutes.  2 cups will make about 1 cup coconut butter, so you will have some leftover after making this recipe.  It is important to use at least 2 cups of shredded coconut to get the best results. Make sure you are using unsweetened coconut too.  Most grocery stores only carry sweetened coconut, so try check your local health food store or health food section of your grocery store.  Leftover coconut butter is great on muffins, oatmeal, toast, and more.  You can even eat it with a spoon! Yum.   
**Before you make the coconut butter grind the oats up into a flour in your food processor (or use the grinding blade in a magic bullet).  This might work in a blender, but I am not sure.  You can also probably sub unbleached all purpose flour or white whole wheat flour.
*** Did you know molasses is good for you?  To learn more check out this website.

Directions:
1. Prepare the oat flour and coconut butter.
2. In a food processor (blender might work too?) and combine the coconut butter, oats, molasses, stevia, honey, vanilla, and salt.
3. With the processor running, slowly pour in the water from the top hole.
4. Process until well combined.
5. Scoop the batter into a zip lock sandwich baggie.  It should feel sort of warm after all that processing.
6. Add the chocolate chips to the baggie and zip it shut.
7. Mush the chocolate chips around to distribute them evenly.  They should melt a little bit and make sort of a chocolaty swirl.
8. Make sure most if not all of the air is out of the bag before closing again.
9. Lay the baggie on the counter and flatten into a nice smooth sheet.
10. Place on a plate for support and place in the freezer for a few hours.
11. After the dough is frozen you can take it out and rip off the bag.
12.  Chop cookie dough sheet into little cubes and store in a covered container in the freezer until ready to use.
13. Add to your oatmeal, ice cream, shakes, yogurt, cereal, and more! The possibilities are endless. Enjoy!
Makes about 2 cups cookie dough chunks.

Nutrition Facts:
Based on a 2 tbsp serving size.  Doesn't sound like a lot, but I assure you it is plenty for a bowl if ice cream. :)
Calories: 96
Total Fat: 6.4 g
     Sat. Fat: 5.2 g
     Poly. Fat: 0.1 g
     Mono. Fat: 0.1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 2.9 mg (the dash of salt is not included in this because it is too hard to measure)
Potassium: 10.4 mg
Total Carbs: 9 g
     Dietary Fiber: 1.5 g
     Sugars: 3.9 g
Protein: 1.3 g
Vitamin A: 0%
Vitamin C: 0%
Calcium: 0.1%
Iron: 2.3%


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Nutritious Vs. Vicious Take 4: DQ Oreo Cookies Blizzard

Pin It Who loves DQ Blizzards?! I do! I do!  I think a better question is who doesn't?  *cricket, cricket*  Exactly.  You'd be crazy not to like them.  The only problem is one small blizzard can pack over 700 calories.  That's almost half your daily allowance of calories.  Crazy!  A small blizzard can also pack over 70 grams of sugar and 20 grams of saturated fat.  Gives me the shivers...  Again I'm not saying you can nevvver treat yourself to a Blizzard.  I just want you to be aware of these nutrition facts so the next time you are headin' to DQ you take them into consideration.  If you must have your DQ opt for the awesome new mini size. 

Better yet try my new Cookies-n-Cream Milkshake!  It's super easy to make and can be customized to your liking.  To make it super thick add a little bit more ice or place in the freezer for awhile after making.  You can also make this in an ice cream make if you have one! 

COOKIES-N-CREME MILKSHAKE

Ingredients:
1 cup Skim milk
1 packet Stevia
Splash of Vanilla extract
5-6 Ice cubes

1/3 scoop Vanilla Protein powder and 1/2 tsp Guar gum (makes it super thick)
OR
1 tbsp Sugar free instant vanilla pudding mix

1 sheet Chocolate graham crackers

Directions:
1. Add the milk, stevia, vanilla, ice, and either  protein powder and guar gum or pudding mix to a blender and blend until the ice chunks are gone.
2. Break one sheet of graham crackers into chunks in the blender and reblend only to break up the cracker more.
3. Pour into your favorite cup and grab a spoon or straw. Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts:
Here's a side by side comparison of my healthier version of DQ's Oreo Cookie Blizzard.  I compared it to the medium size because this makes a pretty good sized milkshake (or blizzard if that's what you want to call it). Oh and I calculated the nutrition facts of my recipe as if you used the pudding mix because I figured that's what most people would use because not everyone has guar gum (although I highly recommend getting some!).

NUTRITIOUS                                                           VICIOUS
Calories: 180                                                               Calories: 680 <-------EEK
Total Fat: 1.3 g                                                            Total Fat: 25 g
     Sat. Fat: 0.8 g                                                              Sat. Fat: 12 g
     Trans Fat: 0 g                                                              Trans Fat: 1 g <--------SCARY
Cholesterol: 5 mg                                                        Cholesterol: 50 mg
Sodium: 500 mg                                                          Sodium: 550 mg
Total Carbs: 31.5 g                                                      Total Carbs: 100 g <---------------WHOA
     Dietary Fiber: 0 g                                                         Dietary Fiber: 1 g
     Sugars: 15.5 g                                                              Sugars: 74 g <-------------DUN DUN DUN
Protein: 10 g                                                                Protein: 14 g
Vitamin A: 10 %                                                         Vitamin A 20 %
Vitamin C: 2%                                                            Vitamin C: 0 %
Calcium: 30 %                                                             Calcium: 40 %
Iron: 3%                                                                       Iron: 20 %

 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Craving Chicken Nuggets? Beat Your Craving with Veggie Nuggets Instead!

Pin It Ok so these are definitely not the same as chicken nuggets, but they just might help you get through your next craving for chicken nuggets.  Speaking of those golden little nuggets...do you know what's actually in those things??  They're practically the whole chicken (guts and all) minus the feathers!!! Don't believe me?  Check out this video with Jamie Oliver:  Chicken Nugget Experiment.  Notice how he says the experiment to turn kids away from chicken nuggets works in Europe...but not in the United States?  *Shakes head* He also made a comment about how Europeans don't even make their chicken nuggets that way.  Yet for some odd reason Americans do...  I'm sorry thats just downright disgusting. Alright enough about that.

This recipe is not exactly something new I've made, but its definitely been one of my favorite recipes lately.  Just ask any one of my roommates...I make this ALL the time and I don't normally repeat recipes!  It is super simple to make, packed with nutrients, low in calories, and of course delicious.  Shame on me for not sharing this with you a long time go!  Seasoned with seasoning salt (Lawry's) and dipped in ketchup these little guys are great.  You can really add whatever type of seasoning you want, but my favorite is a little seasoning salt.  No they're not the same as chicken nuggets, but they're a much healthier option.  The only downfall is that they aren't a great source of protein, so I'd recommend pairing the nuggets with a side of lean meat for a great meal.  Oh and don't forget a big glass of milk. :)

VEGGIE NUGGETS

Ingredients:
1/2 head of Cauliflower
Seasoning of choice (seasoning salt *favorite*, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, italian seasoning, etc)
Olive oil cooking spray

Directions:
1. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean up and spray with cooking spray.
2. Slice the cauliflower into 1/2 inch slices and then break up each slice into small nugget like pieces.
3. Spread out the pieces on the cookie sheet and lightly spray with the olive oil.
4. Sprinkle whatever seasoning you want over the cauliflower.
5. Turn the oven on to 400 degrees F (don't worry about preheating it) and pop the cookie sheet in.
6. Let bake for 15-20 minutes and flip/stir the cauliflower.
7. Bake for another 15-20 minutes until golden brown (be careful not to burn it!).
8. Serve immediately with ketchup, barbecue sauce, or whatever else you want. Enjoy!
Makes 1-2 servings.
(Note: I LOVE to eat... so I can easily eat 1/2 a head of cauliflower... I've even eaten a whole head in one sitting... I'm crazy I know.  That is why I say 1-2 servings.  It does cook down a little as the cauliflower loses water as it bakes, so 1/2 a head of cauliflower makes about one bowls worth.  The best part about this recipe though is that you can eat as much as you want because its all vegetables!)

Nutrition Facts:
**This is a rough estimate based on 1/2 a head of cauliflower for one serving.**
Calories: 63
Total Fat: 0.3 g
     Sat. Fat: 0.1 g
     Poly. Fat: 0.2 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 581.6 mg
Potassium: 757.5 mg
Total Carbs: 13.3 g
     Dietary Fiber: 6.3 g
      Sugars: 6 g
Protein: 5 g
Vitamin A: 0.7%
Vitamin C: 193.3%
Calcium: 5.5%
Iron: 6.1%




Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Okie Dokie Artichokie!

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Tonight was my first experience cooking with a whole artichoke and I must say it was quite a success!  They kind of intimidated me at first simply because most people don't even know how to eat them, but I conquered my fears and went for it.  I was so excited to start this new cooking adventure I didn't even care if it was already 86 degrees in my house; I turned on the oven anyways. The things I'll go through for a good cooking adventure I tell ya.  I was sweatin' up a storm....Gross. I know.  But anyways back to the good stuff...

This recipe is packed with my two favorite things: PROTEIN and FIBER!  Yes I know my close family and friends are sick and tired of me talking about protein and fiber, but I can't help it.  They are so important to a well balanced diet and yet many Americans do not get enough of either one.  Instead, America's diets are made up of simple sugars and saturated fats none of which are found in this recipe.  The quinoa (most protein packed grain!) and TVP fill this recipe with protein while the artichoke provides the bulk of the fiber.  Such a great combination!  Although this recipe was quite the adventure in both cooking and eating it, it was definitely worth it.  I would do it all over again in a heart beat...except that probably won't happen because I love trying new things too much to repeat recipes.  Haha. :P

ITALIAN STUFFED ARTICHOKE

Ingredients:
2 medium Artichokes
1/4 cup dry Quinoa
1/2 cup TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein)*
15 oz can Diced tomatoes
1/4 tsp Onion powder
1/4 tsp Garlic powder
1/2 tsp Basil
1/4-1/2 tsp Crushed red pepper (optional)
Water
Grated parmesan cheese (optional)
*If you don't want to buy TVP, you can probably sub ground turkey although I have not tried it.  Just make sure it is cooked first!

Directions:
1. Get a large pot of water boiling while you prepare the artichoke.
2. To prepare the artichoke cut off the stem (save this!) and 1/4 inch off the top of the artichoke.
3. Cut off the tip of each leaf to remove the prickly part.  I had to sanitize my normal scissors because I didn't have kitchen shears.
4. Once the water is boiling, add the artichokes and boil for 25-35 minutes with the cover on.  You will know they are done when you can easily pull off the leaves.
5. After you get the artichoke boiling, combine the quinoa, TVP, diced tomatoes, and seasonings in a smaller pot.
6. Fill the empty tomato can about half full with water and add to the pot.
7. Bring quinoa mixture to a gentle boil and cover stirring occasionally for the next 20-25 minutes.  Most of the liquid should be absorbed by the end.
8. With about 10-15 minutes of cook time left, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. 
9. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean up.
10.  Once the artichokes are done boiling place them on the baking sheet and gently open the leaves a bit with a fork.
11. Spoon the quinoa mixture into the center of each artichoke and stuff some in the side leaves.  It doesn't have to be perfect, just make sure you spread it out good. 
12. Bake for 10-15 minutes.
13. Sprinkle a little parmesan cheese on the top and enjoy!  If you don't know how to each a artichoke, I suggest you google it. :P Hint: You can't just use a fork! 
Makes 2 servings.

Nutrition Facts:
Note: The parmesan cheese is not included in the nutrition facts.
Calories: 269
Total Fat: 1.5 g
     Sat. Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 507.5 mg
Potassium: 2288 mg
Total Carbs: 44.3 g
     Dietary Fiber: 14.7 g (More than half your daily serving!!!)
     Sugars: 12.8 g
Protein: 18.7 g
Vitamin A: 26.3%
Vitamin C: 39%
Calcium: 19.5%
Iron: 38.5%

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cookie Butter. Enough Said.

Pin It Have you heard of Biscoff Spread yet?  I hadn't until about a week ago.  Apparently it's the new Nutella.  How could something replace such a delectable spread?!  Just wait until you try it...or better yet try my Oatmeal Cookie Butter instead!  It is a lot like Biscoff Spread (aka Cookie Butter), except of course much healthier.  Biscoff Spread is made with Europe's Biscoff cookies famous to a European airline.  The texture is a lot like peanut butter, except it tastes like cookies and there are no nuts! So delicious.  The only problem is...it is close to $5 for one jar! While definitely worth every penny, I knew I could make my own cheaper and healthier version.  I am so excited to try even more variations of this recipe now.  Oreo butter?  Thin mint butter?  CAKE BATTER BUTTER!? The possibilities are endless!  But for now I want to invite you to dive into this dreamy new twist on peanut butter (without the peanuts). 

OATMEAL COOKIE BUTTER
Inspired by Beautiful Disasters

Ingredients:
1 sleeve Honey graham crackers (9 sheets)
1/2 cup Old fashion oats
1/2 cup All Bran cereal (or another 1/2 cup oats)*
1/2 tbsp Ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
2 packets Stevia (or if you must sub 1-2 tbsp brown sugar)
1 tbsp Molasses
1 tbsp Honey
1 cup water
1/4 cup Raisins or maybe even chocolate chips! (optional)

*I couldn't resist adding a little fiber to this recipe... :P

Directions:
1. Place graham crackers, oats, and cereal in food processor and let run.  It should make a flour like texture.
2. After a minute or so, add the cinnamon, nutmeg, and stevia through the top of the cover while the food processor is still running.
3. Add molasses and honey through the top and let process another minute.
4. Slowly add in water.  Start with a 1/2 cup and then add 1/4 cup at a time until you get the consistency you want.
5. Pulse in raisins if desired.
Makes about 2 cups.

Note: You might want to store this in the fridge...that is if you don't eat it all first!

Nutrition Facts:
Rough estimate based on 1 tbsp
Calories: 33
Total Fat: 0.6 g
     Sat. Fat: 0 g
     Poly. Fat: 0.2 g
     Mono. Fat: 0.1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 31 mg
Potassium: 25.4 mg
Total Carbs: 7.1 g
     Dietary Fiber: 0.8 g
     Sugars: 3 g
Protein: 0.5 g
Vitamin A: 0%
Vitamin C: 0.4%
Calcium: 0.6%
Iron: 2.5%

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Vegan Mini Pizzas...35 calories?!

Pin It Yes this is a vegan recipe, but no I am not vegan by any means.  I do, however, think it is important to cut down on our red meat (primarily beef) consumption.  Without going into a lot of details, the hamburgers, steaks, and roasts we all know and love are not exactly friendly to Mother Earth...nor our own health for that matter.  I'm not saying you need to cut it out of your diet entirely, but do a little research on what America's beef consumption is doing to the planet and your health.  You might be surprised...Where should I get my protein then you might ask?  Well if you have the option venison is a great option because it is both a sustainable food (better for our planet) and its much leaner than the beef you buy at the store.  Chicken and turkey are also leaner than beef, but they are not as sustainable as something like venison.  Fish is also a better option.  Plus it is much healthier than beef due to the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. 

Here's me and my dad with my first deer!  I was so excited!  But if you don't have the option of going hunting to get your own deer, ask around to your friends and neighbors to see if they hunt.  A lot of hunters hunt for sport and not for the meat, so after they shoot a deer they just give the meat away to whoever wants it.  

One easy way to do you part in saving the earth is to participate in the new trend called Meatless Mondays.  This means that every Monday (or even any other day of the week) you eat only non-meat sources of protein like TVP (textured vegetable protein), soy products (tofu), tempeh, beans, lentils, quinoa...the possibilities are endless!  If you have any questions about non-meat sources of protein feel free to leave a comment here on my post. 

Here's a list of recipes I've made with non-meat protein options:
Breakfast:

Lunch/Dinner:
Guacamole Soup
Lentil Fajitas
Quinoa Stir Fry (Leave out the chicken!)
Southwestern Spaghetti Squash (Try adding tofu or TVP)
Spicy Kale Lentil Tacos
Tofu Stir Fry
Veggie Pizza (Different way of doing a meatless pizza)
*Note: These are not all vegan.

P.S. I am in no way an expert on the topic of sustainable foods or even nutrition for that matter, so take everything I say/suggest with a grain of salt and do your own research to find out more.  This past year I helped organize a National Food Day Photo Campaign at my school, so I do have a little background in sustainable food education.   I am also happy to do some researching of my own if you have any questions.  Answering your nutrition questions is one of my favorite things to do! 

To the right is a picture of my roommate and I at the National Food Day Photo Campaign.  It was a huge success!








VEGAN MINI PIZZAS
Ingredients:
Olive oil cooking spray
1 medium Eggplant
1/2 cup TVP (Textured vegetable protein)
1/2-1 tsp Pizza seasoning
1 tbsp Nutritional yeast*

*This is something new I tried when making this recipe.  I bought it in the bulk food section at our local co-op, so it was much cheaper than the normal stuff you can buy at the grocery store.  If you don't want to try it or can't find it, you can either omit it or sub a small amount of cheese.  For those of you who don't even know what it is, it looks flakey, has a yellowish color, and has sort of a "nutty cheesy" flavor.  A lot of vegans use it as a substitute for cheese and as a way to get vitamin B12 which is missing from plant foods.  Plus, as it's name suggests it is pack with nutrition especially B-vitamins, folic acid, selenium, zinc, and protein!  I dare you to try it!

Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 425 F degrees.
2. Slice the eggplant into about 1/2 inch slices.
3. Line a cookie sheet with tinfoil for an easy clean up and spread out the eggplant slices.
4. Spray the top of the eggplant with olive oil cooking spray and sprinkle with pizza seasoning.
5. Bake for a total of about 30 minutes (make sure they don't burn) and flip halfway through.
6. While the eggplant is baking mix the TVP with 1 cup of water and 1/2 tsp pizza seasoning in a bowl and let sit until the eggplant is done.
7. Once the eggplant and TVP are ready, mix the TVP and pizza sauce together and top each mini pizza base.  I didn't use all the sauce at first, but I  used more on the side later.  You can decide how much you use depending on your own personal preference.
9. Sprinkle each pizza with nutritional yeast.
10.  Bake for another 4-5 minutes.
11. Enjoy!
Makes about 10 mini pizzas.

Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 35
Total Fat: 0.1 g
     Sat. Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 168.3mg
Total Carbs: 5.6 g
     Dietary Fiber: 3.2 g
     Sugars: 2.7 g
Protein: 2.9 g
Vitamin A: 2.4 %
Vitamin C: 4.1 %
Calcium: 1.2 %
Iron: 1.8 %

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sweet Summertime Rhubarb Bars

Pin It I was super excited to get some from my mom the last time I saw her because for some reason I've been craving it like a pregnant woman lately.  Haha.  Just kidding.  My mom picked the rhubarb fresh from the neighbors backyard.  Can't get any better than that right? :)   I was super excited to create a new healthy recipe. However, I knew I faced a major challenge in making a healthy rhubarb dessert with rhubarb being naturally tart and most recipes calling for a ton of sugar. 

Simple solution. Honey! Most people don't know the wide variety of health benefits that honey has to offer.  For starters, studies have found honey to have an anti-bacterial/viral/fungal effect therefore helping boost your immune system.  It can also aid in digestion, help prevent cancer, and boost blood levels of some antioxidants.  (Source: Shawn King)

And not that I'm on the  topic of health benefits let's take a look at rhubarb.  Not everybody has grown up picking fresh rhubarb in the neighbor's back yard or going to Grandma's for strawberry rhubarb sauce like I have, so it might be a little unfamiliar.  For those of you who have never had it, rhubarb is a vegetable that looks a bit like celery, but has large (poisonous) leaves and its red/green in color. Most of the recipes I've seen it used in a sweet dish with the addition of a lot of sugar to make up for rhubarb's tart flavor (I don't recommend eating it plain like a celery stick :P).  On it's own without all the added sugar,  rhubarb is pretty healthy.  It is packed with vitamin C and K, fiber, and even some calcium. Some studies have found that the vitamin K may help reduce the risk of the development of insulin resistance which leads to diabetes. (Source: Steady Health)

The steel-cut oats in the crust also provide great nutritional benefits.  They are packed with B-vitamins, calcium, protein, fiber, and magnesium.  Essentially they are the same as rolled oats, but they are far less processed, which makes them even better for you. The steaming, rolling, re-steaming, and toasting process to make rolled oats causes them to lose some of their nutritional value, therefore making steel cut oats the better option.  The best part about steel cut oats is that they help our bodies get rid of unwanted fat and cholesterol!  The soluble fiber grabs all that bad cholesterol and removes it from our body.  I like to think of it as a superhero coming to the rescue and removing the bad guy from the scene before he causes heart disease. :) (Source: My Yoga Online)

Ok one more little paragraph... I can't leave out the health benefits of sesame seeds. They might seem like an unusual ingredient to a dessert crust, but I've recently discovered their wonderful nutritional benefits so I couldn't resist! :)  Although small, they are jam packed with nutrients, minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins.  I'll try to be quick with this so here's a brief list:
                    1. They are made of mono-unsaturated fatty acids, which in turn helps
                       lower our LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase our HDL (good) cholesterol.
                    2. Sesame seeds are high in protein.
                    3. They contain "sesamol (3, 4-methylene-dioxyphenol), sesaminol,
                       furyl-methanthiol, guajacol (2-methoxyphenol), phenylethanthiol and furaneol,
                       vinylguacol and decadienal." I know that probably  means nothing to you and
                       it sounds a lot like my organic chemistry homework, but they are essentially               
                       compounds that help keep our bodies free of free radicals which may be cancer
                       causing.
                   4. They are also high in B vitamins like niacin, folic acid, thiamin, pyridoxine,
                       and riboflavin.  Again this might not mean anything to you, but trust me your
                       body needs these vitamins.  Pregnant women especially need the folic acid. :)
                   5. Lastly, sesame seeds are packed with calcium, iron, manganese, zinc,
                      magnesium, and selenium.  These minerals help your body build up it's skeleton,
                      make red blood cells, create enzymes and hormones, and regulate various other 
                      activities.  (Source: Nutrition and You)

Sooo that wan't exactly short...but I just can't help myself. :P  I hope you at least learned a little something.  I know I did!

RHUBARB BARS
Ingredients:
Crust:
1/4 cup Steel cut oats*
1/4 cup Sesame seeds
1/4 cup Bran cereal
2 tbsp Light yogurt**
1 packet Stevia

Rhubarb Puree:
2 cups (heaping) Rhubarb, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
6 packets Stevia

Topping:
3 Eggs
1/4 cup Honey***
1 tbsp Cornstarch
1 tsp Sugar free jello mix ****

*You can probably use regular if you don't have steel cut.
**I used strawberry because it was what I had on hand, but vanilla would also work.
***Preferably raw pure and unprocessed.  I buy mine local. :)You could also sub agave.
****I added the tiny bit I had leftover from something else to make them a bright red color, but you could probably omit this)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 325 F degrees.
2. Grind the oats, seeds, and cereal into a flour using a magic bullet with the grinder blade (a coffee grinder might work also or maybe a blender?).
3. Add stevia and yogurt and mix with a for until well combined.  It will look crumbly, but it shouldn't looks floury.
4. Grease the bottom of a 9x9 baking dish or line it with parchment paper.
5. Press the crust into the bottom of the baking dish.
6. Bake the crust for about 10 minutes making sure it doesn't burn.
7.  In the meantime, add the frozen rhubarb and stevia to a small pot and cook over medium heat. It should eventually reach a gentle boil.  Cook until the rhubarb is tender enough to be pulled apart by a fork.
8. Puree the rhubarb with a blender or a food processor.
9. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs.
10. Add the honey to the eggs and whisk together.
11. Whisk the cornstarch and jello mix into the rhubarb puree.
12. Once the rhubarb is back to room temperature (important!), whisk the puree into the eggs.
13. Pour the rhubarb mixture onto the crust.
14. Bake for 20-25 minutes until puffy and middle looks set.
15. Let cool completely before cutting. I put mine in the fridge for a few hour before serving.
Makes 9 bars.

Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 112
Total Fat: 4 g
     Sat. Fat: 0.8 g
     Poly. Fat: 1.2 g
     Mono. Fat: 1.5 g
Cholesterol: 62.8 mg
Sodium: 30.4 mg
Potassium: 57.2 mg
Total Carbs: 15.9 g
     Dietary Fiber: 2.3 g
     Sugars: 9.2 g
Protein: 3.9 g
Vitamin A: 3.3%
Vitamin C: 0.7%
Calcium: 5.5%
Iron: 7.7%
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