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Posts Tagged ‘Healthy’

Recently, I’ve had the baking bug. I attribute it to our staying in town on the weekends. We went through a four-week stint where we traveled every weekend. All of that traveling made my weeks crazy trying to cram everything in and prepare for the next weekend’s travel. I have loved being home on the weekends and back in the kitchen. Over the last couple weeks I’ve baked pumpkin chocolate chip bars, homemade crackers, peanut butter chocolate chip bars, pita bread (twice!) and these muffins.

The inspiration from these muffins came from a can of Libby’s pumpkin puree in my pantry that was calling my name. I came home one night and it was rainy and cool. I immediately headed to the kitchen and started paging through my favorite cookbooks for pumpkin muffin recipes. I found a Pumpkin Apple Bread recipe in The Gourmet Cookbook and decided to adapt it to be a bit healthier and muffin form.

The modifications I made included halving the recipe, subbing some of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat, reducing the sugar, cutting back on some of the oil in favor of applesauce and omitting the streusel-like topping in favor of a small sprinkle of brown sugar and cinnamon. The muffins turned out great, even with the modifications! Usually Brandon can immediately tell when I’ve “healthified” things but he was totally on board with these and ate them every morning for breakfast.

I think my favorite thing about these muffins is the addition of  diced apple. How perfect is it that this recipe includes two of the best Fall baking ingredients!? These are a great change from my normal banana muffins and I will be baking them again this season!

One Year Ago: Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Apple Muffins
(Recipe heavily adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook)

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Very small pinch of cloves (1/8 teaspoon)
1/2 (of a 15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
Extra brown sugar and cinnamon to sprinkle over the muffins before baking

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 12-cup muffin tin with liners (or cooking spray).

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. In a separate medium bowl, mix together pumpkin, oil, applesauce, sugar and eggs. Add wet mixture to flour mixture and stir until combined. Fold in apples.

Divide batter between muffin tins, filling about 3/4 (or a tad more) full. Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon over the tops of muffins. Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Muffins will keep for 3-5 days out or freeze well for a couple of months.

Yield: 12 muffins

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I blogged about making Shaksuka on my healthy living blog a few nights ago. I was surprised that it received a lot of positive feedback and quite a few people have indicated that they would like to make this dish.

A very quick overview of Shaksuka for those who didn’t read my post earlier this week. Shaksuka is a vegetarian dish of Moroccan/Israeli/Egyptian origins. It’s traditionally served as a breakfast item. It’s a spicy tomato broth with poached eggs. The dish is very quick and easy to make and also healthy. I served the Shaksuka with homemade pita bread for dipping. I had the leftovers the next night for dinner and the flavors were even better after they had a chance to develop.

I followed a recipe from Smitten Kitchen with a few modifications. First, I used three jalapeno peppers because I was looking for heat in this dish. I find jalapenos to be pretty hit or miss with the spice level but luckily the ones I picked up at the store were nice and hot. Second, I reduced the garlic to two large cloves. I knew that the five the original recipe called for would be way too much for us. And last, I added turmeric in with the spices. While reading about Shaksuka online I noticed that turmeric was a common ingredient but SK’s recipe didn’t call for it. I have a whole jar in my pantry and love finding ways to use it due to its known anti-inflammatory powers.

This is a fun dish for vegetarians and those who love to try new ethnic recipes.

One Year Ago: Incredulada Enchiladas (one of my”biggest hit” recipes!)

Shaksuka
(Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients:

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
3 jalapeño chiles, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon paprika
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
Kosher salt, to taste
6 eggs (I only used 4 because there was just no reason to use 6 for the two of us)
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Warm pitas, for serving

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a 12-inch skillet (that has a lid – don’t use it now) over medium-high heat. Add jalapenos and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, turmeric, cumin and paprika, and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is soft, about 2 more minutes.

Put tomatoes and their liquid into a medium bowl and crush with your hands or place in food processor and pulse a few times. Add crushed tomatoes and their liquid to skillet along with 1/2 cup water. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Season sauce with salt.

Crack eggs over sauce, cover skillet and cook until yolks are just set, about 5-7 minutes. Using a spoon, baste the whites of the eggs with tomato mixture, being careful not to disturb the yolk. Sprinkle shakshuka with feta and parsley and serve with pitas, for dipping.

Yield: 4 servings

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One of my favorite mostly vegetarian blogs is Branny Boils Over. When I saw her blog and rave about chana masala, I knew it was something that I must try. For some reason the stars just didn’t align on this one and it took me months to finally get around to cooking it. I ended up making the chana masala on a really random night – Brandon was out of town and I had a terrible cold. But for some reason Indian food sounded like something that would warm my soul and make me feel better.

This is the perfect vegetarian dish – tons of flavor and protein and very satisfying. I served the chana masala over brown rice with naan on the side for scooping. I fed Brandon leftovers when he got back in town and even he was impressed. This dish has been added to the ever expanding list of vegetarian favorites in our house. I’ve really been cutting back on my meat consumption over the last couple years (I probably only eat meat/seafood 2-3 times per week and never for breakfast or lunch) and meals like this make it so easy to forget the meat.

One Year Ago: Fruit Skewers with Vanilla Cream Cheese Dip

Chana Masala
(Recipe adapted from Branny Boils Over and Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes (juices included)
2/3 cup water
4 cups cooked chickpeas or 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 lemon (juiced)

Directions:

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and saute for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add garlic and ginger and saute for another 2-3 minutes.  Turn heat down to medium-low and add the coriander, cumin, cayenne, turmeric, paprika and garam masala. Cook onion mixture with spices for a 1-2 minutes and then add the tomatoes. Add the water and chickpeas. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, then stir in salt and lemon juice.

Serve over rice or with naan (or both!).

Yield: 4-6 servings

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I came up with the idea for this dish when I was desperately hungry in the grocery store tonight at 8 p.m. after a yoga class that nearly was the end of me. I planned on making sauteed grouper but of course by that time at night the seafood counter was down to one last sad fillet that was not coming home with me.

I picked up a few organic chicken breasts and decided to make Brie and Apricot Chicken with Almonds. Then I realized that I didn’t have apricot preserves and brie was going to run me at least six dollars. I started brainstorming ideas for what I could make with what was in my fridge.

And that’s how these delicious Sauteed Greek Chicken Breasts were born. I had all the ingredients on hand at home to make a Greek-inspired chicken dish. Rather than stuffing the chicken breasts, I took the lazy way out and made a tasty topping. It worked perfectly. The topping added so much flavor to the chicken. I pounded the chicken out thin to ensure that it cooked quickly, evenly and stayed tender and juicy.

I served the chicken with quick cooking couscous and green beans. This was a very simple meal for a weeknight that was on the table in less than 20 minutes. Both of us really enjoyed this dish and I will be adding it to my quick weeknight dinner repertoire.

One Year Ago: Broiled Blue Cheese and Bacon Tomatoes

Sauteed Greek Chicken Breasts
(Recipe source Bakin’ and Eggs)

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts, rinsed, trimmed and patted dry
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large onion,finely diced (or one small onion)
1/4 cup kalamata olives, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 lemon wedge
1 tablespoon (total) fresh basil and/or oregano, minced (or substitute 1 teaspoon dried)
2 ounces feta, crumbled

Directions:

Place chicken in a large Ziploc bag or between two sheets of wax paper and pound to about 1/4-inch thickness. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour flour into a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in the flour and shake off excess.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add olive oil and heat until shimmering. Place chicken in oil and saute about 3-4 minutes per side, or until golden brown and internal temperature is 160 degrees. Remove chicken from skillet and let rest on a plate, loosely covered with foil.

Add onion to skillet and saute for about 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic, olives and sundried tomatoes and cook for another minute or two. Add broth and a squeeze of lemon and stir, scraping up brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in fresh herbs and feta and spoon mixture over chicken.

Yield: 2 servings

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This recipe has been starred in my Google reader since October 3, 2009. Every time I scrolled through my starred recipes I would think, “oh that looks good, I need to make it soon.” And it finally made it on to the menu plan this week! Artichokes are one of my all-time favorite “special” vegetables and stuffing a burger with artichokes and cheese just sounded perfect.

The verdict? I am glad that I made these burgers nine months after originally staring them! They were an awesome change from traditional burgers. The original recipe used fontina but suggested subbing feta. I had a big block of feta in the fridge so I went with that. The feta was delicious!

The only negative about the burgers is that they were a little hard to work with. The turkey was difficult to shape – the mixture seemed really wet. Brandon was concerned about getting them on the grill but they ended up grilling nicely and firming up.

Overall, I would recommend these burgers to anyone looking for a twist on traditional burgers or looking for a lower fat (or red meatless) option. We might try the burgers with ground chicken next time!

One Year Ago: Strawberry (or Cherry) Muffins

Artichoke and Feta Stuffed Turkey Burgers
(Recipe adapted from Proceed with Caution, originally from Good Things Catered)

Ingredients:

1 pound lean ground turkey
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 medium sweet onion, finely diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 artichoke hearts, quartered
4 ounces crumbled feta
4 burger buns

Directions:

Mix together turkey, onion, balsamic, garlic, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Form three or four patties (depending on the size of your buns and keeping in mind that the burgers will cook down a bit on the grill). Place patties on a plate and remove the top third of them. Create a small well and place an artichoke heart quarter and one ounce of feta in the well. Replace the meat you removed on top of the filling and seal the edges.

Heat grill to medium. Cook burgers about 8-10 minutes per side, or until a thermometer registers at least 160 degrees. Be careful placing the burgers on the grill and try not to move them around much (so they keep their form).

Place on buns and serve.

Yield: 3 to 4 burgers

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While I was menu planning this week I pulled out my recipe notebook that I use to write down family or passed down recipes and to store recipes I’ve cut from magazines. I started this notebook right after college and haven’t really looked through it in a while.

I found this recipe that I cut from the May 2007 Cooking Light for Tuna with White Bean and Charred Onion Salad. I was in the mood for a lighter dinner and had fish in mind so this was perfect.

The original recipe calls for grilling the tuna and the onions but our gas grill is not working and Brandon didn’t want to fire up the Egg for a three minute tuna sear so I decided to prepare this inside. Although there are several elements to this dish, nothing is too complicated and it was easy to put together. Instead of grilling the onions, I cooked them in a cast iron skillet and let the edges get a little charred. I seared the tuna in a hot skillet for about 2 minutes per side.

I made several modifications  to the recipe. First, I doubled the marinade and only used two tuna steaks. I still made the full recipe for the white bean salad because I wanted to use the leftovers for lunch. Second, I omitted the parsley from the white bean salad and used a mixture of fresh rosemary and basil instead. And third, I omitted the capers because I detest them!

I was very pleased with how this dish turned out. The white bean salad was delicious and paired nicely with the tuna. I enjoyed plating the tuna and white bean salad over mixed greens but you could easily skip the mixed greens and just do a vegetable on the side.

Maybe I’ll have to turn to my recipe notebook for inspiration more often!

Tuna with White Bean and Charred Onion Salad
(Recipe adapted from Cooking Light, May 2007)

Ingredients:

FOR THE TUNA
1  tablespoon  grated lemon rind
3  tablespoons  fresh lemon juice
1  teaspoon  Dijon mustard
1  teaspoon  olive oil
1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
1  garlic clove, minced
4  (6-ounce) tuna steaks

FOR THE SALAD
1  medium Vidalia or other sweet onion, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
3  tablespoons  red wine vinegar
1  tablespoon  olive oil
1/4  teaspoon  salt
1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
1/4  teaspoon  Dijon mustard
1  garlic clove, minced
1/2  cup  chopped seeded peeled cucumber
1/4  cup  chopped flat-leaf parsley (I subbed basil and rosemary)
1  tablespoon  capers (omitted)
1  (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
6  cups  mixed salad greens

Directions:

FOR THE TUNA
Combine the marinade ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag or a shallow dish. Add tuna to bag or dish and seal or cover. Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes, turning once. Remove tuna from bag and discard marinade. Prepare grill if cooking outside. Place tuna on grill rack coated with cooking spray and grill 2 minutes on each side for rare or until desired degree of doneness. Alternatively, cook in a skillet over medium high heat with a bit of olive oil for about two minutes per side.

FOR THE SALAD
Place onion slices on grill rack coated with cooking spray and grill 5 minutes on each side or until tender. Cool and chop. Alternatively, cook onions in a cast iron skillet over medium heat with olive oil, salt and pepper until tender and browned.

Combine vinegar and next five ingredients (through garlic) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk until blended. Add onion, cucumber, parsley (or herbs), capers and beans to vinegar mixture and toss to coat. Arrange 1 1/2 cups salad greens on each of four plates. Top each serving with about 1/2 cup onion mixture and 1 tuna steak.

Yield: 4 servings

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In the past I’ve been pretty indifferent to pasta salads. I never feel like they really deliver on flavor. I’ve been lucky in the past couple months to try two outstanding pasta salads. First there was the Whole Wheat Pasta Salad with Zucchini and Olives and last night my mother in law served this Orzo Salad as part of our joint birthday/Father’s Day celebration. (My birthday was last Wednesday and Brandon’s is this Tuesday.) I went back for seconds and took leftovers home for lunch. It is so full of flavor and I think it’s a very pretty and colorful pasta salad.

The ingredient list is a little long but the preparation is simple. I think it would be easy to cut down on the ingredients.  Although pretty, I don’t think it’s necessary to use three different colors of peppers and I also think you could get away with using one variety of olives instead of two. But I do recommend the recipe as is. I’m definitely keeping this one in my summer side dish lineup.

One Year Ago: Seared Tuna with Herbed Aioli

Orzo Salad
(Recipe source In Order to Serve: Christ Church Cooks II)

Ingredients:

1 cup uncooked orzo
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (rehydrated in hot water if necessary)
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/4 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup yellow bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons green olives, chopped
2 tablespoons black olives, chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Cook orzo according to package directions and drain. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Chill before serving.

Yield: 4 servings

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