New year = new goals! My food goals for the year include eating more ‘whole’ foods and less sugar (says the girl with the serious sweet tooth). I’m starting off 2015 right by eating less processed foods and if you have a similar goal, this is a great recipe to start with! Since the hubby and I were home over the holidays, I knew we would be snacking more than usual but I didn’t want us to snack on junk food. I came across a recipe for homemade granola bites and turned them into granola bars, which were SUPER fast to whip up (like 10 mins fast) AND they were just sweet enough to satisfy any sugar cravings! Simply change up the “mix-ins” to totally transform these soft and chewy bars made with oats, melted peanut butter and honey as a base. These are the perfect snacks for gluten-free and dairy-free diets, just be sure to use gluten-free oats and mix-ins that fit in your diet. I used dried cranberries and whole peanuts for some extra crunch, and here are some other ideas:
Chopped dried apricots
Chopped dried dates — try using less honey since dates are naturally sweet!
Mini chocolate chips — a little goes a long way!
And some delicious combinations to try:
Tropical — chopped dried mango + coconut flakes
Decadent — mini chocolate chips+ chopped peanuts
Classic — raisins + chopped nuts
Sweet ‘n Tart — white chocolate chips + dried cranberries
Well, it’s official, winter seems to have arrived. Today was the first really cold morning that I left the house wearing a winter coat, scarf, gloves and ear warmers. I definitely have a love-hate relationship with winter…snow is fun only during the first snowfall, until you have to shovel or dig out your car. I hate being cold but I love skiing, ice skating and hot chocolate (with marshmallows).
While I miss the warmer summer months, the best thing about winter (and the holidays) is all the rich food we get to eat! Holiday cookies, cakes, drinks – winter is definitely “eating” season. When you feel like curling up with a warm comforting dinner but you don’t want to completely ruin your diet, caramelized onion and spinach butternut squash pasta is the perfect dish. I had never thought to use squash as a pasta sauce until I found this recipe from Lauren’s Latest. Genius! The pureed butternut squash feels like a creamy, decadent sauce, but in reality you’re still eating your veggies! I added caramelized onions and spinach to bulk up the dish without adding meat, but you could surely add in chicken, sausage, etc.
It’s just about boot and sweater weather in the northeast, and since we didn’t have time last year because of our wedding, (I was too busy dealing with seating arrangements and hotel giftbags) we took FULL advantage of apple picking this season. While I made it my apple-picking-mission to find a few of each type of apple from the endless rows of apple trees, the hubby decided to taste-test one from every category. Win-win! While the apple hunting was entertaining, there’s really nothing better than the check-out line at the local apple orchard – there’s always an abundance of hot apple cider, apple cider donuts, and fresh apple…well, anything. After bringing home a whopping 8 pounds of apples, I could only imagine the endless apple recipes I could make!
My go-to fall dessert last year was Skinnytaste’s apple cranberry crumble and this is just one of those recipes that stands the test of time. The tart cranberries combined with sweet apples and crumbly oat topping is always a crowd-pleaser and it’s one of those desserts that the hubby always asks for (and he always has a second helping). I make a few modifications to make the recipe dairy-free and gluten-free like swapping out butter for coconut oil, using coconut palm sugar, and cornstarch instead of flour to thicken up the sauce. Serve it right out of the oven for a warm treat on a cool night.
I also found a fantastic crockpot apple sauce recipe to put the rest of the apples to good use (see pic on top left). We had picked a combination of red delicious, gala and Cortland apples and I used all three variations in the recipe. If you have a lot of apples on hand, make a double batch and freeze the leftovers (if there are any!). This super easy recipe from the Frugal Girls has only a handful of ingredients and will make your house smell amazing! I added a sprinkle of nutmeg which added a warmer, ‘spiced’ flavor to the applesauce, almost like apple butter. Happy apple picking (and apple baking)!
Now that the birthday/holiday/work travel rush is officially over, I’m back in the kitchen after a few weeks of running around and eating restaurant food for almost every meal. I missed cooking (really, I did!), but of course I came back to a CRAZY busy week at work. What could possibly make me happy in this situation? Coming home from a long day of work and having dinner practically made for me! In this case, one pound of low-or-no-fat ground turkey does the trick. The ground turkey is mixed with fresh, smoky southwestern ingredients and spices to create two delicious recipes that are gluten-free, dairy-free, and chock full of veggies! Turkey stuffed peppers are fantastic to make when you have some extra time (aka Sunday night) since they take about 40 minutes to bake. Just whip up the whole pound of turkey and keep leftovers in the fridge for Taco Tuesday (or Wednesday, or Thursday)!
Turkey stuffed peppers are the perfect one-dish meal! Smoky cumin-spiced turkey mixed with hearty black beans and sweet tomatoes and onions make for a healthy yet filling meal. I ate one red pepper half (the hubby had two) and I had plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day.
The spiced turkey/bean/veggie mixture does double-duty as delicious taco filling! I sliced up some avocado and served the tacos with toppings like cheese and Greek yogurt. Heat up some rice and serve with a big side salad for a complete meal. This turkey taco filling would be great for game day or for your own family taco bar!
We are, without a doubt, “Greek yogurt people.” If there’s one item that’s consistently on my grocery list each week and one item that always fills our refrigerator shelves, it’s Greek yogurt. We can (and have been known to) literally consume it for almost every meal. The hubby brings the flavored single-serve containers to work every day for breakfast, I like the plain variety with honey and berries for breakfast/snack, but my favorite way to use Greek yogurt is in recipes and baking. Who knew that yogurt could replace butter, oil, sour cream, heavy cream, cream cheese, mayo…you name it, you could probably swap it out with Greek yogurt and save yourself the fat and calories…plus get an added protein boost! Seriously, what did we DO before Greek yogurt was invented? The stuff is ridiculously versatile – it lightens up the most decadent of baked goods, it’s amazing on its own or with fruit/granola mixed in, and, in the case of this recipe, it turns everyday sauces into creamy deliciousness.
This is one hearty dish that just happens to be vegetarian! The sweet caramelized onions balance out the meatiness of the mushrooms. Spinach adds protein, calcium, fiber and that deliciously leafy green color. The sauce is just to-die-for…sweet and tart balsamic vinegar and crisp white wine swirled together with a dollop of thick, creamy Greek yogurt. A sauce that’s both creamy AND packed with protein? Winning combination! I was craving a long pasta so I used fettuccine, but you could substitute with your favorite whole wheat or gluten-free pasta (short or long). Another recipe that’s perfect for meatless Monday!
Sometimes it’s funny how my meal planning skills work (or don’t…). I can have meals planned out perfectly for every day of the week, but by the time Saturday rolls around there’s NOTHING left in the fridge. I admit that weekend lunches are not my strong suit, mainly because I don’t always feel like breakfast food past noon, yet I’m at the point where I just can’t bear to eat another salad…thank you, weekday work lunches. And there lies the conundrum.
I noticed that more often than not, the hubby’s answer to my question “what did you have for lunch today?” was egg salad…something I’ve never actually made myself. After another Saturday of scrounging around for lunch, I decided to try it and I’m so glad I did! Egg salad is pretty simple, it just requires hard-boiled eggs (the hardest part is peeling them) mixed with mayo (usually) and Greek yogurt in this case. This lightened-up version has half the yolks (aka half the cholesterol) and only 2 Tbsp of mayo! The Greek yogurt lends the perfect amount of tang and creaminess, and thanks to this magical ingredient you’ll never miss the calories and fat! Egg salad is great in a sandwich, or try it over greens for a low-carb lunch.
Well, we’re back from vacation, back at work, and slowly getting back into the swing of things. After eight days of eating every meal out, including all sorts of decadent dishes (everything from fried conch to chili relleno to seafood alfredo), I thought I’d WANT to cook up some healthy meals. Maybe I wasn’t that ambitious after coming home from my first long day back at work…I didn’t want to deal with anything fancy, so this one-pot meal sticks with my theme of quick and easy weeknight meals for sure.
Sweet shrimp are sautéed with garlic and shallots and asparagus is thrown in at the end because, well, we all need to eat more veggies! The white wine and lemon really make the “scampi” in this dish…not the usual pounds of butter, and this is so perfect served over zucchini noodles, pasta or rice. This dish was such a hit that the hubby was still talking about it the next day! As I was eating breakfast he casually said, “you know, the shrimp for dinner last night was one of the best dishes you’ve made!” I love when that happens…and I guess we’ll be eating it again soon!