Sunday, November 28, 2010

Healthy Banana Bread

My in-laws sent me home with a bunch of ripe bananas after Thanksgiving, so I was busy today baking banana bread. This is a clean eating recipe that I created from an old favorite.  It is really good for you and tastes delicious!!  I tried out my new baking find, Sunsweet Lighter Bake, and the results were great!  Moist, flavorful bread without any indication that butter was missing.  I want to stress the importance of using over- ripe bananas for this recipe.  It makes all the difference in the sweetness and moisture.  

Healthy Banana Bread

4 small, very ripe bananas or 3 large
2 tbsp plus 2 tsp of sunsweet lighter bake(if you cannot find this item, use 1/3 cup safflower oil or melted smart balance butter)
1 cup sucanat
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
2/3 cups chopped pecans

Mash bananas and mix with lighter bake or oil.  Add sucanat and egg; blend.

Sift dry ingredients together and add to the mixing bowl. 

Mix on low until blended.  Stir in nuts. 

Place in 3 small loaf pans sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.  Check at 30 minutes by inserting a toothpick into the center of a loaf.  Top warm loaves with 1 tbsp smart balance tub butter and cool on wire racks.

You can wrap the loaves in saran wrap and then in foil and place in a freezer ziploc bag and freeze until ready to serve.  Thaw overnight in refrigerator.  Yum!  Yum!
*My kids love this bread when I substitute semi sweet chocolate chips for the nuts.  I usually double my batch and separate into two bowls.  I mix chocolate chips in one batch and nuts in the other.  Now everyone is happy!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Top 10 Food Additives to Avoid

Do you read food labels?  It's important to be wise about unhealthy ingredients that could be in some of your favorite foods.  I've included the top 10 additives to look out for when you do your grocery shopping.  You can read more about why these ingredients are unhealthy in this article from Food Matters.  Knowledge is power, my friends!

1. Artificial Sweeteners

2. High Fructose Corn Syrup

3.  Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

4. Trans Fat

5. Common Food Dyes

6.  Sodium Sulfite (E221)

7.  Sodium Nitrate

8.  BHA & BHT (E320)

9.  Sulfur Dioxide (E220)

10.  Potassium Bromate

Monday, November 22, 2010

Roasted Carrots

This is another Ina Garten recipe that I love.  It's a cinch to make! 

Easy Roasted Carrots

12 carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally in 1 1/2 inch slices
3 tbsp good olive oil
1 1/4 tsp kosher or sea salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 tbsp fresh dill (can use parsley, but the dill is awesome here)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  If your carrots are thick, cut in half lengthwise before slicing into large chunks.

Toss them will all other ingredients except dill or parsley.  Transfer to a sheet pan and roast 20 minutes, until brown and tender.

Toss with fresh herbs and serve.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A new food find!

I picked up this butter and oil replacement at the Dekalb Farmer's Market a few weeks ago.  It sounds great, so I can't wait to try this in my recipes (look for my experiment results soon...)  It is made from fruit purees (plums and apples.)  I am sure that it is similar to baking with applesauce in recipes.  These types of replacements seems to do very well in muffins, quick breads, cakes and cookies.  I'll let you know my verdict! 
Sunsweet Lighter Bake:

Potato Soup

I have been craving this soup lately!  I guess that I needed some good carbs in my diet:)  I am not a believer in carb restricting diets, if you are consuming the right carbs(vegetables, whole grains and fruits.)  Potatoes are great for you!  This is my FAVORITE potato soup recipe from an Irish cookbook.  This recipe is straight from Dublin, so you know it has to be good!  I did, of course, clean it up a bit to cut the fat and calories, but I promise you won't miss them at all !

Potato Soup

2 lbs baking potatoes peeled, and diced into cubes
3 tbsp smart balance blend butter (stick) or organic, unsalted butter
3 cups chicken broth
3 cups 1%-2% milk ( if you are feeling naughty, go with whole milk)
2 medium size onions, diced (you can also use leeks here or one onion and one leek they give great flavor)
1 cup fat free evaporated milk mixed with 1 tbsp cornstarch or 1 cup fat-free half and half (this is a great sub for cream- but again if you are feeling a little indulgent, go with light cream)
6 slices of cooked bacon (go for natural, nitrate free bacon), crumbled
sea salt and pepper to taste

I love to bake bacon in the oven (no greasy mess!)  Cook bacon at 400 degrees in a baking pan fitted with a rack (for drippings) for 15-20 minutes.  Cook until it is crispy, but not too done.

Bacon is ready to crumble and set aside for your soup topping.

Now peel your potatoes and dice them into fairly large chunks.

Now dice your onions.

Melt the smart balance butter in a heavy stockpot over medium-low heat.  Add onions and cook until clear, but do not brown.  I simmer mine for about 5-8 minutes, stirring often.  Add diced potatoes and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add milk and chicken stock cook over low heat, covered, for about an hour.  Remove lid and check potatoes.  They should be soft.  Mix evaporated milk and cornstarch with a whisk until well blended.   Add cornstarch mixture to soup or fat-free half and half.

I usually make this early in the day and transfer to a crock pot on warm to serve for dinner.  Take a potato masher and gently mash potatoes until it's creamy, but still has some small chunks of potatoes.  You can use an immersion blender here, but I don't like this soup too creamy, I like more texture.

Ladle into bowls and add your favorite toppings.  I love freshly grated sharp cheddar, fat free sour cream, a few pieces of bacon, parsley and salt and pepper.  A great comfort meal.  My kids rate this two thumbs up!

Oven Fried Eggplant

This is a "Cooking Light" magazine recipe that I found on  It's wonderful!  My husband and I like to eat these plain, but you can top with your favorite marinara sauce and fresh grated Parmesan cheese. 

1/2 cup fat-free mayonnaise
1 tbsp finely minced onion
1 lb unpeeled eggplant, sliced-about 12 (1/2 inch slices)
1/3 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
1/3 cup fresh grated parm
1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste

Combine mayo and onion and spread evenly over eggplant slices on both sides.  Combine breadcrumbs, parm, Italian seasoning and salt and pepper.  Dredge eggplant in breading mixture.  Place eggplant on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray (do not use an air bake cookie sheet here, make sure it's a regular baking sheet for proper browning.)  Bake at 425 degrees for 12 minutes.  Turn eggplant over and bake 12 more minutes or until golden.

Going into the oven:

Ready to eat.

You can also layer these in a 9x13 pan and top with marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese and fresh grated parm and bake until cheese is lightly golden.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Roasted Sweet Potato Fries

This is a clean-eating recipe that I love!  Simple ingredients with great results.  Roasting the sweet potatoes give them a wonderful sweet, caramelized taste and I love the kick from the chili powder. 

Roasted Sweet Potato Fries

4 large sweet potatoes, peeled
2 1/2 tbsp olive oil
chili powder
sea salt

Cut up the sweet potatoes in thick strips.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Spray a shallow roasting pan with olive oil spray.  Combine sweet potatoes with oil in a large Ziploc bag.  Shake to coat.  Spread out on a roasting pan and sprinkle with chili powder and sea salt.  Bake for 30-40 min until golden and slightly browned.  Stir a couple of times during cooking to cook evenly.

Great with grilled chicken and burgers!

Broccoli Salad

This is a new twist on an old favorite.  I love this salad!!

Favorite Broccoli Salad

6 slices bacon (preferably natural, nitrate free bacon)
1/2 cup light (olive oil based) mayonnaise or Vegenaise (in the original blue bottle)
1/3 cup organic sugar
2 tsp apple cider vinegar (such as Bragg organic)
3 heads broccoli, cut into florets
1 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup sunflower seeds or 1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
*optional: shredded cheddar cheese

Cook bacon in a skillet until crisp.  Drain, crumble and set aside.  In a small bowl mix together mayo, sugar and vinegar to make the dressing.  In a large bowl combine all other ingredients.  Toss with dressing and chill for an hour or more.  Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

MOJO Salad

We are headed to dinner at a friend's house tonight.  She is making flank steak fajitas, so I thought I would make this simple, but delicious, black bean salad to go with our meal.  I make this a lot in the summertime to serve with grilled meats.  It's quick, healthy and light.  I got this recipe from my friend, Marian, a couple of years ago.  It's so good!

Mojo Salad

1 cup of frozen corn, thawed
1 can of black beans-drained and rinsed
1 tbsp local honey
1/2 cup Mojo sauce (found in the Mexican food aisle of the grocery store) shake well to blend seasonings
1 cup diced roma tomatoes
1/2 onion, diced fine or 2-3 diced scallions
1-2 tbsp fresh cilantro
sea salt and pepper to taste

Rinse black beans and drain.  Add diced onions to black beans.  Mix honey and mojo sauce together with a whisk.  Add mojo mixture and all other ingredients and toss well.  Refrigerate for several hours.  Serve at room temperature.  Simple and tasty!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Chicken and Spinach stuffed pasta rolls

This is a revised version of a Southern Living recipe that I got from my friend, Stephanie.  She had us over for dinner one night and made this delicious Italian dish.  I made some changes from the original (Chicken Cannelloni with Roasted Red Bell Pepper Sauce), to make it a bit healthier.  I traded the cannelloni pasta for whole wheat lasagna noodles.  I couldn't find a whole grain or low-carb cannelloni pasta, so the lasagna noodles worked great. I loved her idea of using a jar of marinara in place of the homemade pepper sauce for convenience.  Buying an organic, roasted chicken is also a big time saver if you don't already have cooked chicken breast on hand.  Enjoy~

Chicken and Spinach Stuffed Pasta Rolls

1 box whole wheat lasagne noodles
4 cups finely chopped cooked chicken breast
2 (8oz) containers chive and onion cream cheese
1/4 cup fat free ricotta cheese(use a good quality cheese here)
1 (10oz) package of chopped, frozen spinach, thawed and well drained (squeeze all water out!)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
3/4 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning blend(such as McCormick's)
2 jars of Organic marinara sauce
1/2 cup mozzarella for topping

Cook lasagne noodles according to package directions and set aside.  Stir together chicken and next 8 ingredients in a large bowl.  With a large scoop or 1/2 cup measuring cup, place mixture on one end of the lasagne noodle and roll up.  It should look like this:

Pour about 1/4 cup marinara sauce in the bottom of a 13x9 pan and spread out.  Start placing the lasagne rolls in the pan until it is filled and filling is used up (there will be a few noodles leftover). 

Cover with marinara sauce and sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheese. 

Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  Remove cover(foil) and cook for 5 more minutes. 

Serve with crusty garlic bread and a salad.  Yum!

Roasting a Whole Pumpkin

Roasting a pumpkin whole not only saves me the hazard of losing a finger(they are TOUGH to cut), but it saves time.  Fresh pumpkin is great for your Thanksgiving pumpkin pie and any recipes calling for canned pumpkin.  Why not use those pretty pumpkins you had displayed on your patio?  Make sure that they are fresh, and not carved.  I love the small sugar pie pumpkins for roasting. 


Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 60 - 90 minutes

1-2 small pie pumpkins (or any pumpkin OTHER than one for Halloween jack o' lanterns)

Set oven to 400F. Wash pumpkin well and cut off the stem. Rub skin lightly with safflower or olive oil. 

Place a baking sheet on the lower rack below the pumpkin to catch any juice, then put the pumpkin directly on the rack above. 

Roast for 60 - 90 minutes. The actual time will vary based on the oven's actual temperature, the moistness of the pumpkin, the variety of pumpkin. But it's done when a knife slips into the flesh very easily. Let it cool a bit before slicing.  Also, be careful when slicing open to avoid a steam burn.

Perfectly cooked flesh!  Scoop out the seeds and place pumpkin flesh in the food processor(fresh pumpkin is more fibrous than canned, so it needs to be put through a food mill or food processor).

Pulse until well blended.  It should look like this:

Place pumpkin in a fine mesh strainer over a bowl  and let drain overnight.  Pour into containers to freeze or put into ziploc freezer bags(make sure you squeeze all the air out of the bag) and freeze until ready to use.  Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and use in your favorite recipes.


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