Baked Beef Stew: A Perfect “Halloween” One Pot Meal

halloween baked beef stewThis one pot beef baked stew was always fondly referred to as “Halloween Stew” by my kids because year after year I made this for my children to enjoy after trick or treating. You can prep this ahead of time, even the day before Halloween. Head out to trick or treat for up to 3 hours while it bakes. And then, return for a yummy and nutritious one pot comfort meal. It was always a pleasure, after a raw and windy October Halloween, to come home to this nutritious and already cooked one pot meal. It is comfort food at its best, and can be enjoyed throughout the crisp fall and winter days ahead. Enjoy this baked beef stew recipe as a “prep ahead” comfort food on Halloween and all year for that matter.

baked beef stew ready to pop in the oven.

Baked beef stew ready to pop in the oven.

"Halloween" Beef Baked Stew

Comfort food at its best!
Cook Time3 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 10
Calories: 200kcal

Equipment

  • Oven

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds lean beef (sirloin works well)
  • 20 oz. can of tomatoes with liquid
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes dissolved in hot water
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 large onion
  • 8 carrots, cut up
  • 3 celery stalks, cut up
  • 4 large potatoes, cut into 3 inch pieces
  • 1 small package frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup tapioca

Instructions

  • Take the lean beef and cut into 1 inch cubes. Spray a large corning ware dish and the inside lid with a spray such as PAM. Place the cut up beef in the bottom of the corning ware.
  • Lay all the vegetables (except the peas) on top of the meat.
  • Pour the tomatoes, wine, bouillon cubs (dissolved in 1/2 cup water) and tapioca over all.
  • Bake for 3 hours, covered, in a 325° oven. Sprinkle the frozen peas on top fifteen minutes before the stew is done cooking.

Notes

NUTRITION INFORMATION:
1/10 of this recipe is about 200 calories; 12 g protein, 5 g fat, 25 g carbohydrate
 

one pot baked beef stew

Now served-delicious beef baked stew

This dinner has protein and vegetables in one dish. Serve with a healthy beverage (or wine if you are the parent). Add a serving of fruit or a green salad, and this becomes a very nutritious dinner so you don’t need to feel guilty with the candy treats that will follow.

An elderly aunt passed this family recipe on to family members. Now my adult children also make this stew on Halloween for my grandchildren. My adult kids have those fond memories of this comfort food and are sharing with the next generation. That’s comforting to me, and a new type of “comfort” food!

I hope your family enjoys it as much as my family has.

Fast Breakfast Ideas: Easy and Nutritious On the Fly

fast breakfast ideas chocolate chip buckwheat muffins

Grogginess in the morning? You know you should eat some breakfast and not just gulp down java. But, creative and fast breakfast ideas are often limited and with tight schedules, most of us could use some help. Breakfast does not need to be complicated or labor intensive. We just need to do a little thinking a ahead and maybe outside the box. Here are some fast breakfast ideas that are easy and require very little time to pull off.

Nutritionally speaking, there are a lot of important reasons to fuel up in the morning. Research has noted that breakfast eaters have a jump-start on: maintaining a healthy weight, meeting daily nutritional requirements, and performing better physically and mentally all day. However, the issue is always what to eat, how long will it take to prepare, and how fast can it be eaten!

Fast breakfast ideas that are easy and nutritious

Smoothies are a versatile and fast breakfast idea

fast breakfast ideasTry a breakfast smoothie. The most time consuming part of making a smoothie is rinsing your blender!

For my creamy berry smoothie, blend 1.5 cups of blueberries (may start off as frozen and let thaw while in shower), ½ cup 1% milk fat cottage cheese, and ½ cup orange juice in a blender until thoroughly mixed. Yes, add the cottage cheese or cultured cottage cheese. It makes the smoothie thick and gives a very slight “cheese cake” twist to the smoothie along with some major high quality protein.

Each 12 ounce serving has 260 calories, 15 grams protein, 48 grams carb, 2 grams fat, 7 grams fiber, and 275 mg. of potassium.

Muffins made ahead and frozen are a fast breakfast idea

This is about as easy as it gets and you know what’s going into your body. Make ahead of time, freeze, and grab as needed. Let thaw as you shower. Enjoy with some orange juice or low sodium V-8 juice.

Consider making oat bran muffins as a healthy alternative to hot cereal. When evaluating an oat bran muffin recipe consider recipes without dried fruits if you are watching your waistline. Those additional ingredients will make the overall calorie value of your muffin much higher. If a recipe calls for applesauce, that allows for a moister oat bran muffin. Here’s a healthier oat bran muffin recipe.

For those needing a change of pace, I recommend this buckwheat chocolate chip muffin recipe that has gotten great personal and client reviews. The blog photo on top shows what these delicious muffins look like.

Improvise with an English Muffin for more fast breakfast ideas

Toast an English muffin, add one slice low-fat cheese and a slice of Canadian bacon. Now you have an Egg McMuffin, sans the egg, and you don’t need to stop at the drive through and get tempted with those fatty hash browns.

What about English muffin pizza for breakfast? Toast each half to make it crispy. Spread some pizza sauce on each half, some shredded mozzarella, and zap for a few seconds in the microwave. Who doesn’t enjoy pizza for breakfast?

Improvise with a waffle for a fast breakfast

Take your favorite regular or gluten free waffle and smear on some peanut butter. Top with a sliced banana for a nice dose of potassium. Or, instead of peanut butter, melt a slice of your favorite cheese on top of the waffle.

Standby eggs always work as fast breakfast ideas

Consider hard boiling several to grab during the week. Each egg is a nice packet of nutrients and only about 80 calories. Or, consider making small cheese and spinach quiches in muffin pans and freezing. This is one of my favorite breakfast foods of all time for myself and if I am hosting guests. They always freeze great and can defrost in the microwave in seconds. Making that little bit of effort ahead of time in order to grab these will be worth it as you head out the door.

Overnight oats

overnight ats fast breakfast ideasThis takes a little effort the night before, but “little” is the operative word here. This is very easy to toss together the night before, and enjoy in the morning. To prep the basic overnight oat recipe take:

1/2  cup of oatmeal, combine with 1/2 of any type of milk (skim, 2%, soy, almond, coconut, rice, cashew), add 1/2 yogurt or skip the yogurt and use an additional 1/2 cup of milk. Add a pinch of salt and whatever sweetener you desire.This basic recipe can be modified by adding chocolate chips, Nutella, peanut butter, a mashed banana or berries. If you need more of a caffeine jolt on top of your java, add some instant coffee to your oats!

Mix your basic ingredients and your optional ingredients and place in any container with a lid. Mason jars are popular at the moment for this recipe, but any container that can be capped will work. Place in the refrigerator overnight, and you are done. The oats will be ready to eat in the morning. They can be eaten cold, or gently warmed in the microwave if warm oatmeal is your preference. Another advantage of this recipe, as it will last about 4 days in the refrigerator, so it’s not impeative to eat it the very next day.

 No crust  pumpkin pie

crustless pumpkin pie

Crust free pumpkin pie is perfect to start out the day. I bet you didn’t see that one coming as a fast breakfast idea! It’s full of anti-oxidants and with some good quality protein from the eggs and milk used in this recipe. Even my crust free version that does not use splenda is healthy for the whole family. And, it would work to decrease the sugar a bit more in the conventional recipe if you like. When my kids were growing up, I often made this recipe and served it for breakfast. No one was complaining at all. As long as it doesn’t get eaten first, it will last all week. Make it on Sunday night for the work week.

Bottom line, a better breakfast will mean a better you and better day. If you are also thinking of lunch and dinner, here are some other suggestions! 

Do you have a favorite, fast, and healthy breakfast idea? If so, please share so I can add to my blog.

 

 

Summer Salad: Kale with Quinoa & Penne Pasta with Feta

A summer entree salad is perfect if you are tired of BBQ cuisine at this point and want to swap your grilled burger for some interesting lighter food fare like a nutritious summer salad. These are two summer salads, kale with quinoa and penne pasta with feta are delicious. I have not personally made the kale salad, but have certainly enjoyed eating it! My friend served this kale salad at a recent gathering, and I asked for the recipe because it was not only delicious, but also loaded with anti-oxidants and potential health benefits. This salad is a wonderfully tasty way to consume kale and well worth the 45 minutes of prep time. Serve the kale salad with a slice of whole grain bread and a beverage and call it dinner. For a special dinner treat, consider making ice cream roll cake ahead of time and serving with your summer salads.

Kale quinoa summer salad- adapted from La Grande Orange Cafe in Pasadena, California

Champagne vinaigrette

1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons minced shallots

Pinch kosher salt

1/4 cup canola oil

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

3/4 teaspoon chopped chervil

Ground black pepper, to taste

(Makes 4 servings, each serving has 420 calories)

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, shallots and salt; set aside for 20 minutes to soften the shallot. Slowly drizzle in the oils while whisking to emulsify the vinaigrette. Whisk in the chervil and pepper. This makes a scant one-half cup vinaigrette; the vinaigrette will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to 4 days.

1/2 cup quinoa

Salt

4 cups loosely packed julienned kale, from 1 large bunch

Champagne vinaigrette

3 tablespoons toasted sunflower seeds

1/4 cup diced red bell pepper

2/3 cup red seedless grapes, halved

1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

1/4 cup grated Manchego cheese

10 to 12 strips finely julienne preserved lemon

Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a simmer. Place the quinoa in a strainer and rinse well, then drain, and add to the simmering water. Cook the quinoa until the grains are translucent and tender and the germ has spiraled out from the grain, about 15 minutes (be careful not to overcook). Remove from heat and drain any remaining liquid. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and transfer to a baking sheet to cool. The quinoa can be made ahead of time and stored, covered and refrigerated, up to 3 days before using.

In a large bowl, place the kale and one-fourth cup of the vinaigrette. Using your hands, massage the vinaigrette into the kale until the kale is softened, 2 to 3 minutes.

To the bowl, add the cooled quinoa, the sunflower seeds, bell pepper, grapes and Parmigiano Reggiano, tossing to combine.

Divide the salad among serving plates, evenly sprinkling over the Manchego cheese and garnishing with the preserved lemon strips. Serve immediately.

Penne summer salad with chickpeas, feta, and tomatoes. This recipe is from Cooking Light and modified by the chefs in the Rose household!  

8 ounces uncooked penne pasta (try the tricolor version)

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 cup shallots

3 cloves minced garlic

1/2 cup chopped red pepper

1 15 ounce can chickpeas

3 cups cherry tomatoes

3/4 cup crumbled fat-free feta cheese

1/3 cup fresh basil leaves

pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind

pinch of freshly ground pepper

(1.5 cup serving has 350 calories)

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain the liquid, reserving 1/4 cup for later. Heat a large skillet, add oil and then shallots and garlic; saute for one minute or less and constantly stir to avoid burning. Stir in bell pepper and chickpeas, saute 2 minutes.  Add tomatoes and saute an additional 2 minutes. Stir in cooked pasta and the 1/4 cup reserved liquid. Cook for 1 minute until heated through.  Add the fat-free feta and remaining ingredients; toss to combine and serve on your favorite serving platter.

I hope you enjoy my kale and quinoa and penne pasta with feta salads as an alternative to summer BBQ meals.

BBQ: How to Make it Healthy and Pull Off Like a Pro!

Healthy BBQWe are finally in full summer swing. Of course, this time of year is noted for sizzling grilled burgers, brats, and hotdogs. A BBQ can be a great way to entertain and not heat up the house on a hot summer day. It keeps overall calories low because there are no cream sauces or excessive amounts of fats added to the meats. However, the high smoke and heat of grilling has it’s own dietary pitfalls. But, by following some simple steps, we can still pull off a healthy BBQ. According to a new report noted by American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), the goal is to prevent the heat and smoke produced in grilling to affect the food. The heat and smoke of grilling can cause cancer causing compounds to form on the food. By tweaking our grilling habits, it’s still very easy to pull off a healthy BBQ.

According to the AICR, here are the easy steps for pulling off a healthy BBQ

  • Vary your meat selection. Too much red meat (beef, pork, lamb) increases your risk for colorectal cancer. “Too much” is defined as more than 18 oz. per week and this applies to all red meats regardless of cooking method.
  • Always marinate. Cooking any meat on the grill causes the formation of cancer causing compounds. Marinating meat for 30 minutes reduces the formation of these cancer causing compounds. Using marinades with vinegar, lemon juice, and wine along with oils, spices, and herbs seems pretty key to a healthy barbecue.
  • Partially precook. By doing some cooking prep ahead of time, there is less time for cancer causing compounds to form from the smoke.The likelihood of cancer causing compounds forming with grilling decreases as grill time decreases.
  • Food safety reminder: get that partially cooked meat on the grill to start grilling immediately after the precooking. Otherwise, you run the risk of bacteria growing on the raw part of the meat.
  • Use a low flame. Lower heat will reduce cancer causing compounds by reducing the possibility of charring and burning.
  • Get colored foods on the grill. Try some grilled corn, sweet potatoes, or zucchini. Start adding color to your grilled menu with the fruit kabob recipe below.

More tips for pulling off healthy grilling

  • Always wash your hands before handling food. Don’t handle raw meat and then handle something like raw vegetables that will be served uncooked.
  • Wash produce as well. Fruits and vegetables are a source of bacteria. Here are 7 tips for cleaning your produce.
  • You should consider using smaller cuts of white meats. By decreasing your portion of meat while increasing your fruits and vegetables (grilled or as a side), you are automatically providing for healthier barbecue menus. Charred sections should be removed before serving.
  • Invest in a good quality thermometer so that you can check the internal food temperatures of your grilled foods. This is key to keeping your family and guests free of food poisoning. Internal temperatures for properly cooked foods vary, so be sure to check the guidelines.
  • Separate your plates and cutting board to prevent bacteria cross-contamination. Do not reuse utensils, plates, or cutting boards that had raw meat on them.
  • After the food is grilled, do not let it sit out on a hot day for more than 1-hour. If it’s not an excessively hot day, then you have up to 2-hours. It’s never worth eating foods  handled incorrectly, as you could end up with food poisoning. And for some, that means a trip to the ER or worse.

Recipes to help you start your healthy BBQ

healthy bareques should add mango lime salsa

Mango lime salsa on lettuce leaves.

Try grilling some salmon or chicken and top with this mango lime salsa. My client provided the recipe and photo, and noted how delicious it was. She kindly calculated the calorie content as well (she’s a good student too)! Thank you Marie!

Mango Lime Salsa-makes 2 cups; prep time about 30 minutes; 50 calories per 1/2 cup serving

1 small red onion diced small
1/2 red pepper 1/4 inch dice
1 jalapeño (or to taste)
1/3 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 large limes)
2 tsp ground cumin
2 mangos peeled, pitted and cut into 1/4 inch dice
1/4 cup chopped parsley or cilantro
salt & pepper to taste

In medium bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well. The salsa will keep 2 days in the refrigerator. Serve with baked tortilla chips, or over any grilled fish or chicken. You can also top lettuce leaves with salsa and serve as a side dish.

Next, for a great healthy side and alternative to fatty side dishes such as creamy potato salad, try grilled fruit kabob to give that splash of color to your barbecue meal.

Grilled Fruit Kabobs

1/4 cup melted butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
juice from 1 fresh lime and lime rind
1 tsp. cinnamon

In a small bowl, stir together melted butter, brown sugar, grated lime rind, lime juice, and cinnamon until the sugar is dissolved. Use any fresh fruit cut into one-inch pieces such as pineapple, apples, nectarines, melon, bananas, or large whole strawberries. Thread the fruit alternately onto metal skewers. Brush kabobs with butter mixture and place on barbecue grill. Grill for 6-8 minutes, turning frequently and brushing generously with butter mixture until the fruit starts to brown and is heated through.

Key points for healthy BBQ grilling

Enjoy your smaller servings of white meats more than red. Always marinate your meats and precook them prior to grilling to minimize charring and prevent cancer risk. Grill your meats to the proper temperatures for the best juiciness and thorough cooking to prevent food poisoning. Once grilled meats are cooked, serve hot and then refrigerate within 1-2 hours, depending on how hot the day is.

Make sure you keep all utensils, cutting boards, plates and work surfaces in touch with raw meats separate from other foods. You are trying to avoid food poisoning!

Last, but not least, add as many grilled fruits and vegetables (or raw) to your menu as possible. This will always increase the nutritional quality of any menu.

And, add a beer? Check out some of those health benefits here.

If you enjoyed this post, please share with a friend. I’d like to grow my readership.

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Ice Cream Roll Cake: A Versatile Holiday Recipe

chocolate ice cream roll cake

I have been making this sponge chocolate ice cream roll cake for over 4 decades. It has become a favorite holiday recipe and even the in-laws and grand kids ask for it each holiday. It was passed down to me from an Aunt and I hope my own daughters eventually make it to keep it in the family. For now, they will assume it’s my job!

  Here’s what I like about my chocolate ice cream roll cake

  • I love that it can be made in advance of the holiday. Whip it up and put in the freezer.  I’d say it could freeze for months, but it will most likely never last that long.
  • I call this a chameleon recipe because it can be changed so many ways to suit dietary needs or taste buds.  You can use a gluten free flour mix and make it a gluten free recipe. After cutting out most wheat, I have used gluten free baking flour for this recipe and no one can tell the difference. I still get a treat and no one is the wiser. You can also use lactose free ice cream and make it lactose free as well. You can even modify this recipe and make it a vanilla roll or put a different flavor of ice cream in the roll. There’s pretty much something for everyone.
Chocolate Ice Cream Roll Cake (about 10 servings, 
depending on your greediness)

Ingredients:

6 eggs, separate the egg whites into one bowl and the egg yolks
into a second bowl
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 cup granulated sugar
4 Tbsp. cocoa
4 Tbsp. sifted flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
confectioner’s sugar-have at least a cup to spread on foil
and use to wrap up the roll
About 3 cups of ice cream

Get ready to bake the cake

Preheat the oven to 325 ⁰. Grease a 15.5 x 10.5 jelly roll pan with vegetable spray. On top of that, insert a piece of wax paper onto the pan and spray that as well.

Beat the egg whites until stiff and add ½ tsp. cream of tartar. Gradually beat in ½ cup sugar. Set aside.  Beat the egg yolk until thick. Add ½ cup sugar. Mix the cocoa and flour and add to the yolk mixture. Mix and then add the salt and vanilla. Fold the egg yolk mixture gently into the egg white mixture.

Spread in the well greased jelly roll pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, just until the surface springs back when touched lightly with finger (be sure to avoid over baking as it will crack while rolling up).  Loosen the edges with a knife and then immediately turn upside down on a large sheet of foil that is sprinkled with a generous amount of confectioner’s sugar. At this point, layer your ice cream on top (don’t wait for it to cool). I usually put at least a quarter inch of ice cream across the top, but it can be more. If the sponge cake starts to stick on the foil, just roll some confectioner’s sugar on that as well.

IMG_3106

The warm sponge cake topped with ice cream and ready to roll up.

To make this a vanilla roll, I just replace the 4 Tbsp. cocoa with 2 Tbsp. of flour (so a total of 6 Tbsp. flour) and follow the rest of the recipe.

~200 calories, 8 g fat, 30 g carbohydrate, 5 g protein~ Happy Easter

 

Without Wheat: Blueberry Streusel Teff Muffins

teff flour muffins

I decided to finally try using the teff flour I bought months ago. Muffins always seem like a forgiving baked product, so I started with a muffin recipe. It seems as though a lot of the available recipes require another flour in addition to the teff flour. The flour can make a drier product so a recipe that has sweet potatoes, bananas, applesauce, and berries would seem to be a good fit. I took a conventional recipe and modified the flours.

Why bother with teff

I am trying to cut back on wheat as I seem to be very sensitive to it. That said, I absolutely love eating my carbohydrates so some experimentation was in order. Teff is a fine grain that is versatile. It grows in African countries, but is also grown in this part of the world-Idaho of all places! For those needing to eat gluten free (not just wheat free), teff fits the bill as well. While I used this product in muffins, it can be added to waffles, other baked goods, cooked cereals, and stews.

Nutritionally speaking

This grain is high in minerals like iron and magnesium. It’s a good source of calcium, zinc, selenium, and some B vitamins. In addition to being a good source of vitamins and minerals, it provides both protein and fiber. A 3/4 cup of cooked teff provides 6.5 g of protein and 4 g of fiber. For more detailed nutrition information and recipes, the whole grain council offers extensive information on all whole grains along with some other interesting recipes, including some additional interesting teff recipes.

Blueberry Teff Muffins With Streusel Topping

Great muffin recipe using teff flour.
Prep Time8 mins
Cook Time22 mins
Servings: 12
Calories: 199kcal

Equipment

  • Oven

Ingredients

  • ¼ c canola oil
  • 1 c skim milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 c teff flour
  • 1 c Bob's Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten Free Flour
  • c sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¾ c frozen organic blueberries thawed and well drained

Streusel Topping

  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar

Instructions

  • Heat oven to 400°. Generously grease or spray a 12 muffin pan.
  • Mix the oil, milk, vanilla, and egg together.
  • Stir in both flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt until moistened.
  • Fold in the drained blueberries.
  • Divide the batter into the 12 muffin cups.
  • Mix the streusel topping ingredients together. Sprinkle it on top of the muffins.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from the pan immediately.

Notes

Nutrition Information: 199 calories, 6 g fat, 30 g carbohydrate, 4 g protein.
As is the case with most muffins, these freeze great.

If you are looking to experiment with another wheat free flour, try my buckwheat muffin recipe.These muffins are really a hit with clients and they have a touch of sweetness from the chocolate chips. They are a personal favorite of mine for freezing to grab for a quick breakfast on the run.

Have you used Teff flour in a baked product?

Without Wheat: Buckwheat Flour Muffins

Buckwheat muffins with chocolate chips

Buckwheat flour muffins with chocolate chips

I started my life without wheat by making buckwheat flour muffins

Personally, I REALLY enjoy eating whole grains. And, I used to eat a ton of wheat. Sadly, my wheat days are basically over due to my food sensitivity testing. I started weaning myself from wheat by making these buckwheat flour muffins.

For others, it may be apersonal decision to pull back because you need or want to be gluten-free (products labeled gluten free are also wheat free). Whatever the circumstances, there are definitely some grain alternatives out there for those that love whole grains. I started living without wheat by making the pictured buckwheat flour muffins. The verdict was they were delicious!

Keep in mind that two of these grains noted here are not gluten-free, only wheat free or differing in the gluten profile. Barley, rye, wheat, and oats that are not processed in a dedicated gluten free facility are not allowed on a gluten free diet. For those choosing to live without the ubiquitous wheat found in standard grocery stores, the challenge is to find alternative products that may be better tolerated.

Here are some other wheat-free options:

Rye

Most commercial store brands of rye bread actually contain wheat. For instance, Pepperidge Farm rye bread notes: unbromated unbleached enriched wheat flour as the first ingredient, followed by water, then rye. To find a rye bread made entirely of rye flour, you may need to go to a bakery. In the Chicago area suburbs, there is a little bakery that only uses rye flour. For those going “wheatless”, breads using only rye flour are a delicious alternative. Don’t assume every bakery uses just rye flour, you will need to ask the staff.

Spelt

Spelt is an ancient grain. According to one bakery website (kolateksbakery.com), spelt needs more steps to harvest and then bake, so it fell out of favor and eventually took a back seat to our now popular wheat. Spelt is technically part of the wheat family, but it possesses a different gluten profile. Those with a wheat sensitivity may be able to tolerate spelt better than wheat. I found this bakery’s Tata bread to be very “normal tasting” and almost reminiscent of whole wheat bread days!

Buckwheat

buckwheat muffin recipe

Here’s an actual gluten-free alternative. It’s actually not a grain, which is why there is no gluten! It’s a type of seed called a pseudo-cereal. I’m trying to get in the kitchen a bit more making my own wheat-free alternative foods, because so many of the commercial mixes are just way too high in sugar and calories. Here’s a great buckwheat muffin recipe:


1.5 cups buckwheat flour
¾ cups oatmeal (use gluten-free oats for a GF diet)
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 cup skim milk or milk of choice
2 tbsp. oil of choice
¼ cup applesauce
1 mashed banana
2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
½ cup chocolate chips

Combine ingredients. Mix until moistened.  Bake at 350º for 18-20 minutes. Yields 12 muffins. 150 calories per muffin; 5 g protein, 23 g carbohydrate, 5 g fat

There are other grains to try such as Teff which is gluten-free as well.  Anyone else have experience focusing on these grains along with great recipes?

 

Pressure Cooker Chicken Soup: Yummy & Good For You

pressure cooker chicken soup

Homemade chicken soup made in my favorite Cuisinart electric pressure cooker

It seems as though sinus infections, the stomach flu, bronchitis, and muscle aches are making the rounds in my large family and we don’t even live in the same house! I finally found both the energy and time to take out my favorite cooking equipment, my pressure cooker, to make some virus fighting fuel.  We have all heard that even canned chicken noodle soup can help fight a cold, but I was eager and ready to taste the rich flavorful type of chicken noodle soup I could make with my electric pressure cooker. At this point, I decided I would enhance the rich flavor by making the chicken stock base in my pressure cooker rather than using low sodium chicken broth.

Pressure Cooker Homemade Chicken Stock Ingredients

2 pounds of chicken wings
small onion
2 carrots
2 stalks celery
2 bay leaves
5 parsley sprigs
2 quarts water

Cook all ingredients on high pressure for 40 minutes. Use a natural release to continue extracting the flavors. Strain the stock. Cool the stock in order to skim the fat off.  If time is short and you need to use the chicken stock before it is completely cool, use a chilled lettuce leaf to help skim the fat off the stock. The chilled leaf will actually attract the fat in the broth to allow for removal.

On to the Chicken Soup….

  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 pound of skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 Tbsp. oil
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper, to taste
  • 6 cups of your homemade chicken stock recipe or 6 cups low sodium packaged chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 cup egg noodles (may substitute rice or orzo)

Saute the celery, onion, and carrots in the tablespoon of oil for a few minutes. Add the chicken breasts, thyme, salt, pepper, and stock or broth. Cook on high pressure for 10 minutes; when done release the pressure quickly. Add in the chopped parsley and then cook the egg noodles or other pasta or rice in the hot soup.

In addition to being a “comfort” food, chicken soup will fight inflammation, thin your mucous, and hydrate you which will all hopefully fight whatever ails you!

Do you have a favorite chicken soup recipe?  Interested in more soup recipes?

 

 

 

Crustless Pumpkin Pie & Minestrone Soup: Fall Recipes

crustless pumpkin pie recipeToday, some major plans fell through, and I very unexpectedly have the whole day free to tackle my kitchen and food preparation. With the fall chill in the air and mums on the front step, I am in the mood to make some of my favorite “fall” foods. These incude my crustless pumpkin pie and super effortless minestrone soup!

For a healthier sweet tooth fix, consider making crustless pumpkin pie. In my family, we eat crustless pumpkin pie all year-not just during the holidays. This is a slimmed down version, with literally half the calories of traditional pie The trick is to get rid of the crust calories, but still have the pie hold its shape. Using Bisquick mix (and you can use the reduced fat version), you will decrease the calories by 50%. This is a healthy dessert, full of anti-oxidants. You might even want to consider eating this for breakfast! My family uses this as breakfast food all the time.

Slimmed Down Pumpkin Pie Recipe (1/8 pie has about 100 calories)

15 oz. Can pumpkin pie

1 can evaporated skim milk

¾ cup Splenda or 1/2 cup sugar

2 large eggs or 1/2 cup egg substitute

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. ground ginger

½ tsp. ground cloves

½ tsp. salt

½ cup Bisquick mix

Mix all the ingredients in bowl. Use baking spray and coat a glass pie pan. Add the mixture and bake at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes, then turn down the oven temperature to 350 degrees, and continue baking approximately 45 additional minutes.

Soups are another fall favorite recipe. Soups are wonderful in that most can be frozen very well and then pulled out of the freezer for a very quick dinner when time is tight. A favorite soup in our family is quick minestrone. It takes virtually no time to assemble my version of this recipe. This is a true family favorite, and all of my adult children and daughter-in-law really enjoy this recipe. I hope you do as well.

 Very Quick Minestrone Soup (1.5 cup serving has about 200 calories)

1 cup carrots, thinly sliced

1/2 cup celery, diced

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1 small zucchini, sliced

one large can (28 ounces) of low sodium chicken broth

1 can light kidney beans (15 ounces), rinsed and drained

1-2 cans of stewed tomatoes

1 cup medium pasta shells, uncooked

1 cup frozen peas or Italian-style beans

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil leaves

Parmesan cheese to top soup (optional)

Directions

Toss all ingredients into a stockpot. Bring to a boil and simmer until all the vegetables are tender. Sprinkle each serving with parmesan cheese if desired. Serve with whole grain bread and a light salad. This is a meal rich in anti-oxidants and fiber. And, serve some pie along with it.

Enjoy the autumn along with these favorite fall recipes.

The Pressure (Cooker) is On: Make Food Fast

modern pressure cookersI was a child in the 50s. Mothers back then frequently cooked with a “scary” piece of equipment called the pressure cooker. I remember being afraid of the loud sounds it made. I distinctly feared that the rattling piece of metal sitting atop the lid would fly off. When my mother gave me her pressure cooker after I myself became a mom, it sat in my cabinet and was never used. It was just way too intimidating to me with three small children to feed. After all, I was also concerned for their “safety”! But, oh times have changed, and modern pressure cookers are much less scary!

Fast forward to now. Like most people, I am very busy. I still work and I will always want to be eating healthier foods. Pressure cookers made today are much different than in the past.

Modern pressure cookers

The newer pressure cookers seem to be the perfect solution to preparing healthy food in limited time. They are equipped with a variety of settings, such as browning, sauteing, and warming, along with both low and high pressure settings, making it easy to prepare a complete gourmet meal in no time. For instance, rather than going through the hassle of soaking lentils overnight, with a pressure cooker you can cook with them immediately.

What’s more, modern pressure cookers have safety features to help prevent kitchen accidents. There are many other benefits to using a pressure cooker. Aside from saving time, using a pressure cooker limits nutrient losses. Because all the recipe components are in one pot and the liquid is part of the main dish, all nutrients are retained. Additionally, preparing a meal with a pressure cooker saves money. Tough and more economical cuts of meat can be used very successfully in the pressure cooker because the high pressure will tenderize the meat. Two of my favorite pressure cooker recipes can be found on this website.

So, if time is tight and healthy eating is a priority, consider lessening your personal pressure by increasing the pressure for cooking.

Do you have any favorite foods you enjoy making in your pressure cooker?