Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Mediterranean Couscous (from the cookbook)

1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 c. golden couscous (uncooked)
1 ½ tsp. curry powder (mild variety)
1 ½ c. 99% fat free chicken stock (slightly less than one can)
¼ c. green onion, chopped
½ c. shredded carrots

Heat oil in a large skillet over med/high heat.  Add the couscous and cook for a minute or so to toast.  Add the curry powder and stir.  Add chicken broth, green onions and carrots and bring to a boil.

Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 5 minutes.

Serves: 6
Nutritional: Per Serving - 136 calories; 0.75 g fat; 5% calories from fat

Comments:  I use a mild curry for this so that it is not too spicy.  You could also substitute cumin for the curry.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Candied Yams - A comfort food conversion (from the cookbook)

In the cookbook, I have many recipes which I call "Comfort Food Conversions."  They are lightened up versions of the original.  Although they are not "low calorie, low sugar, or low fat" they are still better for you versions - and with all the taste. 

4 medium sweet potatoes
4 oz. sweetened condensed milk
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ c. sliced almonds
1 c. miniature marshmallows
cinnamon to sprinkle on top

Boil sweet potatoes whole until fork tender.  Let cool. Peel and place in bowl.  Add the condensed milk  and cinnamon and blend with a mixer until smooth.  Spread mixture into an 8” square shallow dish.  Top with a single layer each of the almonds and then the marshmallows.  Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake at 350 degrees approximately 25 minutes or until marshmallows are melted and golden brown.

Serves: 6
Nutritional: Per serving - 198.5 calories; 3.7 g fat; 17% calories from fat

Comments: Traditional candied yams are fattening because of all the butter.  Sweet potatoes on their own are actually very good for you, containing a good amount of vitamins and nutrients.  By making them this way, you are still getting an awesome flavor (even passes the kids' test) and a lot less fat!

How to slice garlic & herbs

This is actually a little video I did for a communications class that I took.  It's a bit low-budget (and amateur) but the information is great none the less!  Check it out. :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Almond Raspberry Cake

Yum yum yum yum yum!  Yes, it's that good!  Growing up, I always remember my grandmother making an amazing raspberry cake topped with a raspberry sauce.  I could never get enough of it when we went to visit (that and the M&Ms she used to keep in the candy jar)!  My other grandmother, the Italian, burnt everything she baked (true story), but none the less, the flavors were always wonderful.  I wanted to create a sophisticated dessert, like the raspberry cake that my grandma made, yet still bring in the Italian flavors that I love (without the burnt flavor of course).  So here you have it, an almond raspberry cake that is full of healthy fats, high in protein, and low in simple carbs. You'll note that I use Swerve in place of sugar.  I get it at Whole Foods, but I'm sure you can find it online and if not, use your sweetener of choice.

1 1/2 cups almond meal (you can also use cashew meal - really any nut flour would probably do)
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 eggs (yolks & whites separated)
1/3 cup part skim ricotta cheese
1 Tbsp almond butter
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp pure almond extract 
1/3 cup Swerve (sugar replacement) divided 
Pinch of fine sea salt
3/4 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a spring-form pan, with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet and spread almond flour on it.  Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and toast for 5 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool. 

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat together egg yolks, ricotta cheese, almond butter, almond extract, lemon zest and 1/6 cup Swerve until smooth.  In a separate bowl whisk together the almond flour and baking powder(I actually did this on the baking sheet). Add the flour mixture to egg yolk mixture and beat until smooth. 

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites on medium high speed until they start to increase in size. Once that happens, add a pinch of fine sea salt and slowly add the remaining 1/6 cup of Swerve.  Continue to beat until soft peaks form.

Fold egg white mixture into the almond mixture a little bit at a time. Then carefully stir in the raspberries. Once fully incorporated, pour the batter into the prepared spring-form pan and place into the oven to bake for approximately 20 minutes until a fork inserted in the center comes out clean. The sides and top should also start to become golden in color. 

Note that cooking time will vary based on your size pan. I use a 10" pan which results in a thin cake and a 20 min bake time. If you use a smaller pan, increase your cooking time in 5 min increments until done. 

I love this cake as is, and as such I chose not to make a raspberry sauce for the top.  It is perfect with a cup of coffee for dessert or for a morning treat. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Carrot & Apple Soup

I know it sounds crazy... apples in soup?! Trust me on this, it is good! The russet potato in this recipe lends itself to a more comforting taste, and the mix of crushed red pepper and thyme balance out the sweetness. An additional bonus is that it also happens to be a vegan recipe.  Now all I need to do is bake a loaf of homemade bread to enjoy with this amazing "soon to be Fall" treat!

1 large russet baking potato (peeled)
5 medium carrots (peeled)
1 small - medium gala apple (peeled)
1/4 of a medium sweet onion
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil (I use extra virgin, but whatever you have will do)
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves - divided (Important note here: use fresh, not dried. There's a definite taste difference. )
Salt & pepper to taste
2 cups filtered water
Paprika & thyme sprigs for garnish (optional)

Slice all veggies and apple into equal size pieces. I like to slice mine thin so that they cook faster, but the most important thing is that they're the same size. Heat oil in medium sauce pan over medium-high heat, add onion, potato, carrots and apple. Add in crushed red pepper and salt/pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally until everything is slightly tender, yet still has a bite to it. You should also get some browning in the bottom of the pan at this point. (If it seems like everything is cooking too quickly, lower the heat closer to medium.) Once you've reached this point, add in 1/2 the thyme and let cook for another minute or so. Add the water, cover and allow to boil over med-high heat until everything is very soft. It's important to cook until very soft versus fork tender to ensure a smooth consistency. Turn off the heat and allow to cool slightly in pan. 

Then purée either in your blender or with an emersion blender. 

 I have a Blendtec, and in that I pulsed a couple of times to combine, then blended at speed 1 for 15 seconds and then on speed 5 for another 15 seconds.  The main thing is to purée until it is super smooth. 

Stir in the rest of the thyme and add more salt/pepper if needed. Pour into 4 individual bowls and garnish with paprika and thyme sprigs. 

Serves 4
Per serving: 181 calories; 5 grams fat; 31 grams carbs; 4 grams protein

Monday, September 1, 2014

Almond "Joyous" Butter

Sometimes, you just really want a candy bar, but don't want all the processed junk that comes with it. Don't fear! I've come up with a great treat that satisfies those cravings while offering heart healthy ingredients! My Almond "Joyous" Butter really hits the spot, and can be enjoyed straight out of the jar! 

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup almonds
16 dark chocolate chips

If using a high powered blender such as a Blendtec or a Vitamix, simply add ingredients to your blender jar and process until smooth. This can usually be accomplished in a couple of minutes. If using a food processor, add all ingredients to the processor bowl, and process on high for 20 minutes. You can process for only 15 minutes, but going the full 20 will give you a smooth and creamy consistency. 

Seving size: 1 Tbsp
Serves 6
Per serving: 90 calories, 7 grams heart healthy fat, 5 grams carbs and 3 grams protein. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

"Peaches & Cream + Green" Smoothie

1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 serving of your favorite vanilla protein powder
2 small-medium peaches (skin on, pits removed)
1 small banana (peeled)
2-3 cups baby spinach
6-8 ice cubes 

Blend until smooth and enjoy immediately. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Apples & Peanut Butter - Green Smoothie

1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2 Tbsp Pb2 powdered peanutbutter 
1 small container non-fat vanilla Greek yogurt*
1 medium Granny Smith apple (core removed & apple cut into chunks)
1 tsp each pure vanilla extract and cinnamon
2 cups organic baby spinach
1 cup ice

Place ingredients in the order listed into a high-powered blender, blend until smooth and enjoy!

*You can replace the yogurt with your favorite vanilla plant based protein to make this smoothie vegan. The nutritional info will stay about the same. The main difference will be a creamy versus light texture. :)

Calories 290; fat 4g; carbs 50g; fiber 10g; protein 19g

Monday, March 31, 2014

Mediterranean Chicken (from the cookbook)

8 chicken tenderloins (all visible fat removed)
1 14.5 oz. can petite cut diced tomatoes (I use the garlic basil flavored ones)
1 c. 98% fat free chicken broth
1 4.5 oz. jar sliced mushrooms (drained)
1 3.8 oz. can sliced olives (drained)
1 16 oz. can garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
½ tsp. ground black pepper
cooking spray

Spray a large skillet with cooking spray & cook chicken on medium heat until golden brown. Add the onions and garlic and about ¼ of the chicken broth and cook until onions are soft.  Add the rest of the chicken broth and the other ingredients and let simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes until everything is warmed and the flavors are mixed.

Serve over a bed of Israeli couscous.

Nutritional: Per serving (without couscous) - 233 calories; 4.5 g fat; 17% calories from fat
Serves: 6

Monday, March 24, 2014

Healthy Tip: Have some fats on your salad!

Too often when people are trying to eat healthier, they opt for salads with fat-free dressing.  The problem though, is that by not having any fats on your salad, your body is missing out on all of those fat-soluble vitamins (micronutrients) that it needs.  A great way to get the most out of all of those good veggies (and fruits) is to dress your salad with flavorful vinegar and a touch of heart healthy oil, such as extra virgin olive oil.  Then, add some good fats like sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts or almonds to your salad.  By doing this, your body will absorb all of that nutritional greatness that it needs.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Italian Herb Chicken (from the cookbook)

Italian Herb Chicken
4 plum tomatoes
1 whole lime
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes (preferably organic w/ Italian herbs)
5-10 (depending on your taste) whole garlic cloves,  minced
5 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 Tbsp. white wine (can be cooking or table wine)
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast (all visible fat removed)
8 oz. angel hair pasta, cooked

Dice 3 of the tomatoes and place in a large skillet. Mash with a potato masher until they are smushy. Dice and add the last tomato without mashing. Add the can of diced tomatoes including the juice. Next, cut your lime in half and squeeze all of the juice out into the pan. Add the minced garlic (5 - 10 cloves to taste), the basil and the wine. Stir and let simmer over a low to med/low heat. Cut your chicken into either strips or bite size pieces and cook until golden brown on medium heat in a separate skillet.
When cooked, add your chicken to the sauce and let simmer on low heat for at least 10 minutes (the longer it simmers, the more the chicken absorbs the flavor of the sauce).

Spoon over your cooked angel hair pasta.

Nutritional: Per Serving (without pasta) - 178.25 calories; 0.5g fat
Serves: 4