Saturday, December 29, 2012

Fighting Off the Post Holiday Cold: Sweet Potato-Poblano Soup

Hope everyone enjoyed their holidays! I spent mine with family and lots of good food. It seems like this month has flown by, how did we get to the end of December already? All of this fun and not-so-healthy eating has caught up to me though and I can feel my body heading towards a cold. So far I have kept it at bay though with lots of rest, fluids and this healthy recipe here. So if your feeling the way I am, lay down and guilt someone into making this soup for you!

I recently read that onions and garlic are supposed to be some of the best foods for you when you feel you are coming down with a cold due to their anti-inflammatory properties among other benefits. With this most recent cold episode I’m having, there may be some truth to this. This soup has onions, garlic and a ton of other healthy vegetables. Plus it will clear out your sinuses due to the kick the poblano and spices add.  You’ll be feeling better in no time!

Sweet Potato-Poblano Soup

Adapted From: True Food by Andrew Weil

1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced
½ corn kernels
1 small carrot, diced
1 small fennel bulb, diced
4 garlic cloves, mashed
1 poblano chile, seeded and diced
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp black pepper
½ salt
½ cup white wine
14oz unsweetened coconut milk
¼ cup chopped cilantro
2 scallions, chopped

Heat your broiler and toss potato, onion, corn, carrot, fennel, garlic, poblano and oil on a large baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Broil for 12 minutes, tossing halfway through. Vegetables should be a bit browned. Add vegetables to a pot and stir in spices & wine with 3 quarts of water. Bring to a simmer on medium-high heat. Reduce heat and let the soup simmer for 45 minutes. Remove the soup from heat and add the coconut milk. Top the soup with cilantro and scallions for a garnish.

On a side note, I recently discovered that when I delete pictures off of my Picasa account, it deletes them on my blog as well. Whoops! I’ve fixed a few but I’ve solved the problem for the future. New Years Resolution #243, become a little more tech savvy. I’ll be posting Tuesday with a few healthy links to get you started on some of your resolutions. Have a wonderful New Years everyone!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Healthy Holiday Treats: Cocoa & Coconut Truffle Cookies, Healthy Oatmeal Cookies, Dark Chocolate Bark & Cinnamon Stevia Almonds

Oh the holidays. It’s such a fun time of year and how can you not get excited for all the delicious food. It’s the time when my weakness for sugar becomes all too apparent and I try to remind myself of all the benefits of chocolate (antioxidants will outweigh the calories, right!?). Well this year I made a few of the sinful treats which were promptly mailed off to my brother before I ate them all but I’ve also prepared some healthy treat boxes for friends and family. I’ve got four recipes to try out today. These treats will hopefully satisfy the sweet tooth with whole ingredients and a few healthy bonuses along the way.

Now back to the chocolate for a moment. Since it is the holidays and we're probably going to eat a lot of this delicious food lets remind ourselves of all the good things it does for us!
  • Chocolate has lots of flavonoids, which help in reducing your risk of heart attacks and strokes. Flavonoids help protect your arteries from clogging.
  • Chocolate makes you happy! Studies have linked chocolate to reduced risks of depression J
  • Spending a few extra dimes on good dark chocolate pays off. You’ll get the heart healthy fats and a little goes a long way.
 Coco & Coconut Truffle Cookies

Adapted from: Sprouted Kitchen

I’ve never been one to seek out coconut but these are just too good and very easy to prepare.

1 1/2 cups dried, unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup good cocoa powder
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 220º. Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Roll into 1 inch balls and line on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes and cool for about 10 minutes after. Enjoy!

Cinnamon Stevia Almonds

The stevia makes these almond treats much healthier then the ones you’ll find at the store and just as delicious.

2 cups almonds
2 egg whites
1 ½ tablespoons of stevia
1 tablespoon of cinnamon

Preheat oven to 300 º. Coat a baking pan with non stick cooking spray and set aside. Mix all wet ingredients together. Add almonds and stir until all the almonds are covered in the mixture. Lay almonds out on baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Delicious right out of the oven!

Healthy Oatmeal Cookies

Adapted from: Watching What I Eat

These cookies are so delicious! They are definitely not just for the holidays and can even be enjoyed for breakfast because they are sugar and flour free! If you want to make them a little more decadent, feel free to add ½ cup of dark chocolate chips.

1 ½ cups of rolled oats
2 ripe bananas, mashed with a fork
1 cup of unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup of dried cranberries
¼ cup of chopped walnuts
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1 tsp of cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 º. Add vanilla and cinnamon to applesauce and stir. Combine all remaining ingredients with applesauce and mix together. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. Drop a spoonful of dough onto baking sheet and flatten into rounds. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for 5 minutes.

Dark Chocolate Bark

1 bag of good dark chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
½ cup of shelled pistachios
½ cup of dried apricots, chopped
¼ cup of dried cranberries

Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Prepare a double broiler and pour chocolate chips into top pan (if you’re short on time you can always use a microwave). Stir constantly. Once chips look almost melted add vanilla. Continue stirring until chocolate has become smooth. Poor chocolate onto wax paper lined baking sheet. Sprinkle pistachios, apricots and cranberries onto chocolate. Put in freezer for 15 minutes (be sure pan is stored on an even surface). Remove from freezer and break into bite size pieces. I find these best stored in the refrigerator.

If any of you were wondering how little Bruce is handling the Christmas tree, here is your answer:

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thanksgiving Detox: Mexican Tostada w/ Chunky Guacamole

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! I was able to spend mine at home with family I don’t get to see all too often. It was nice to catch up and relax with loved ones. I also ran my first Turkey Trot! It started off pretty chilly and crowded but once I was able to cross the start line I really got into the run and completed the 5 mile race in 45 minutes, pretty good for me! After that I gorged myself on stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes and of course, pie J. To top it off Matt and I went out the breakfast to an awesome breakfast place where they serve the most delicious muffins. But after all of those delicious dishes I came home craving something different then the traditional holiday flavors, so I went with a Mexican Tostada with Chunky Guacamole.

Avocados are perfect for filling up and getting lots of healthy fats. The monounsaturated fats in avocados lower cholesterol and have been linked to a reduced risk in cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Avocados are also one of the best sources of lutein, a carotenoid that helps in keeping your eyes and skin healthy. So pile the guacamole high!

Chunky Guacamole:

2 ripe avocados, diced
½ cup of cherry tomatoes cut in half
½ cup of red onion, diced
1 jalapeño, diced
1 garlic clove, minced  
1 handful of cilantro, finely chopped
1 lime, juiced
Salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and stir. Enjoy

Mexican Tostada

1 whole wheat tortilla
¼  cup of canned black beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup of sweet onion, sliced
¼ cup of corn
1 handful of arugula
2 tablespoons of goat cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon of olive oil
½ cup of chunky guacamole (see additional recipe)
Fresh salsa of your choice
2 tablespoons of finely chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 370. Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes. Add black beans and corn, cook for about 5 minutes. Add arugula in last two minutes. In the mean time, lay tortilla on a baking sheet. Add sauté mixture to top of tortilla. Sprinkle goat cheese on top. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes (watch your tostada as some tortillas cook faster then others). Transfer the tostada to a plate and top with chunky guacamole, salsa and cilantro.

My kitchen vacuum

Monday, November 19, 2012

Is it Thanksgiving Yet?: Fall Harvest Salad

This week is really acting as nothing but a countdown until Thanksgiving. I am ready for a day dedicated to eating and spending time with family, two of my favorite things! Since I have been in such a Thanksgiving mood however I wanted to make something seasonal this weekend but I wasn't ready to jam stuffing in my face just yet (I was tempted). This is also a very easy dish to make if your trying to save all your cooking energy for Thursday.

This salad has great fall seasonal flavors with the apples, cranberries & apple vinegar dressing, plus the walnuts & cheese help to make it a satisfying lunch or side salad. I combined arugula and spinach, two all star greens to pack it full of healthy nutrients. This salad alone contains over half the recommended allowance of Vitamin K, essential for building strong bones . Add in the spinach, which has even more Vitamin K, and you've easily hit your daily allowance. More on spinach in upcoming posts J.  I always try to sneak spinach into my diet. It will do nothing but good!

Fall Harvest Salad

Makes 1 entrée size salad

1 ½ cups of baby arugula
1 ½ cups of baby spinach
½ granny smith apple, sliced
¼ cup of toasted walnuts (To toast walnuts, throw in a small pan, no oil, for about 4 minutes, tossing frequently)
2 tablespoons of dried cranberries
2 tablespoons of blue cheese crumbles
2 tablespoons of apple vinegar dressing (see below)

Combine all ingredients and enjoy!

Apple Vinegar Dressing

1 tablespoon apple vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of orange zest
1 teaspoon of fresh squeezed orange juice
1 ½ teaspoons of honey
Salt & pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients together. Add to salad. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Take In Night: Spicy Broccoli and Brown Rice

You can tell the holiday season is beginning because over indulgence was the theme of the weekend, and I loved every moment of it. It all started on Saturday night with a huge Friendsgiving feast that was amazing. So much food and it’s so interesting to see the different dishes that everyone has in their Thanksgiving traditions. Sunday morning I woke up and made Pumpkin Spice Muffins. No recipe, just a quick bread mix I bought from William Sonoma at the beginning of fall. Add a little Irish Butter on top and it was delicious!

I managed to sneak in a run and then the rest of the day was dedicated to sitting around and watching football with Matt. Instead of ordering take out, which is usually not the sign of a healthy meal, I recreated one of my favorite take out meals, spicy broccoli & rice.

To kick up the health factor I added a few other classic healthy veggies. Carrots, peppers, onions & a healthy grain, brown rice. With the szechuan sauce, you will certainly not be missing any flavor in this dish.

Spicy Broccoli & Rice:

Makes 2 large servings

2 cups of cooked brown rice
3 bunches of broccoli, stems removed and cut into florets
1 red chili pepper
1 carrot, peeled
¼ cup of szechuan sauce
1 teaspoon of ginger
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 green onion
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
½ tablespoon of red pepper flakes

Prepare brown rice as directed on package. While rice is cooking begin preparing your vegetables. Heat 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a large sauté pan or wok on medium high heat. Add broccoli and red peppers. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add carrots & cook for another 5 minutes. Add szechuan soy, ginger, sesame seeds and red pepper. Cook for about another 5 minutes. Add a cup of brown rice to the bottom of each carton (if you’re using them) then pile the vegetables up to the top.

If you’re looking to make this a little more filling, Matt added shrimp to his.

Bruce tried to be cute in a sorry attempt to get some food from Matt

As I’m writing this, Bruce is also watching monkeys on TV. It’s pretty much the cutest thing. Hope you all had a wonderful weekend! 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Election Night Eggplant: Stuffed Eggplant w/ Spicy Tomato Sauce

As the election results were rolling in last night, I was rolling up eggplant. Yes, things were crazy over here. J

Eggplant is one of my favorite vegetables. It’s meaty and filling but with only 35 calories per cup, so feel free to indulge in a little extra of this delicious veggie (fun fact: it's actually considered a berry) on the side. It’s also packed full of antioxidants which fight the free radicals in your body. As free radicals accumulate in cells, they slowly cause damage which results in aging. Eggplants are low cal and it fights aging? I'll take it! 

Eggplant and cheese are always great combinations but this recipe adds a surprising flavor with the spicy tomato sauce. It really isn't a sauce, more a chunky marinara, but with green chilies to really add a kick. If you are not into spicy food I suggest adding less than I call out for in this recipe.  I had three rolls and a salad to make a dinner but you can also serve these as appetizers. Bon appétit!  

Stuffed Eggplant w/ Spicy Tomato Sauce 

Makes about 3 servings:


2 medium sized eggplants, sliced lengthwise
2 tablespoons of olive oil

First, we need to get some of the water out of the eggplant slices. Lay them out on a wire rack (even the top portion of your broiler pan will do) over your sink. Lightly salt each slice and let them sit for 15 minutes. If you have more time, maybe an hour or two, use it. It will make the eggplant easier to roll and will let the eggplant get the delicious flavor of the olive oil without as much. If not, 30 min for both sides will be just fine! Flip and repeat.

Drizzle two tablespoons of olive oil over a grill pan and heat. Grill each slice of eggplant on medium high heat for about 5 minutes, flipping in between. Set aside to cool.

3 Cheese Mixture

2 ½ cups ricotta
2 ounces of goat cheese
¼ cup of grated parmesan
1 teaspoon of olive oil
1 cup of baby spinach leaves
1 tablespoons of basil 
½ tablespoon thyme
1/2 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350º. Combine all three cheeses and spices in a bowl.  Heat olive oil in a small pan on medium heat. Throw spinach in and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add to cheese mixture. Stir. Dollop a hefty spoonful of cheese on to the end of an eggplant strip and roll, placing the roll on to a baking pan. Once these are all completed put in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. 

Spicy Tomato Sauce

1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon of green chilies (more or less depending on the desired temperature)
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
½ garlic clove
1 teaspoon of olive oil

While the eggplant is baking, put together the tomato sauce. Heat olive oil in a sauce pot on medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add tomatoes and green chilies. Cook for 5 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and cook on low heat until eggplant is ready to be served.

It’s weird. Whenever I have cheese in a recipe, a little dog seems to appear at my feet while I’m cooking. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Happy Birthday Brunch: Sweet Potato Hash & Veggie Omelet

This weekend I was able to go home and spend time with my Mom on her birthday. Happy Birthday Mom! Knowing we were going out to dinner that night I asked her to submit any request for brunch. Her choice, a veggie omelet. I know she loves omelets but she also knows I have a recent fascination with these puppies since I've learned how to make the most perfect omelet. More on that in a second.

On this frosty November morning I needed something hearty yet healthy (and delicious for a birthday brunch) to go along side our omelets. Walla, Sweet Potato Hash. Sweet Potatoes are a great alternative to regular Russet potatoes because of their high fiber content. They're also high in Vitamin A, B6, C & D. All essential for warding away those nasty November colds, and keeping your skin glowing.

Sweet Potato Hash:

2 sweet potatoes, softened in the microwave (approx. 4 min depending on microwave), diced
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
½ cup of diced red onions
¾ cup of diced red pepper
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 teaspoon of minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Heat olive oil in a pan on medium. Add sweet potatoes, red onions, red pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 12 min. Add parsley, garlic, salt and pepper. Serve

Now lets get to this omelet. First, omelets used to intimidate me, for good reason. They fall apart, I burn myself, they aren’t fluffy, etc. But, a few weeks ago I mastered the art thanks to this video from The Barefoot Contessa. Watch it! You’ll be inspired to become an omelet master. Omelet how-to

Now I know there is a lot of research out there for and against eggs and I am by no means a dietitian but as a Pescatarian, eggs get high remarks in my diet. They're packed full of protein, something Vegetarians & Pescatarians need to be mindful of. They even have vitamins like Cholin, which supports a healthy cardiovascular system and keeps that brain performing at a high level. Plus they have lots of Lutein which keep your eyes healthy. If your buying cage free eggs, you're also more likely to get some of those wonderful omega-3 fatty acids.


2 eggs + 1 egg white
Tablespoon of milk
Tablespoon parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil

Whisk eggs milk and parsley together. Heat oil in pan. Cook omelet following video directions.

My Toppings (please substitute for whatever you love in your omelets):

2 tablespoons red peppers, diced
1 tablespoon red onion
Small handful of spinach leaves
2 tablespoons of shredded Swiss cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil

Heat olive oil in saute pan. Add peppers and onions, cook for 2 minutes. Add spinach. Remove from heat once spinach is wilted. Add vegetables and cheese to omelet once you flip (See video instructions).

Had a great visit as always but looking forward to being back home until Thanksgiving. Bruce seems to be looking forward to catching up on some rest.