Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Homemade Granola

          I love adding granola to my morning yogurt and favorite baked goods.  But unfortunately, store bought granola is full of added fats and sugars and can be quite costly. So, I decided to start making my own granola, cutting back on the added fat and sugar and of course cost! It is also super easy to make and of course delicious. I have had a lot of people ask me for the recipe, so I thought it was about time to post it!

Homemade Granola
  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • dried fruit (optional)
  • nuts/seeds (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2. In a large bowl combine oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt.
3. In a small bowl combine honey, vegetable oil and vanilla.
4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir.
5. Spread mixture onto large cookie sheet (preferably one with sides)
6. Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes.
7. Stir mixture then bake for another 5-10 minutes, until oats are golden brown.
8. Remove granola from oven and let cool on pan to allow granola to harden and create clusters.
9. Once harden remove from pan and mix in dried fruit, nuts and seeds if using.
10. Store in air tight container.

Here are some other fun ways to enjoy granola..
- Enjoy it with low fat milk (remember a serving is only a 1/2 cup!)
- Add it to trail mix, oatmeal, yogurt or your favorite baked good
- Top roasted apples or seasonal fruit with granola for a quick fruit crisp

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Lamb Meatballs with Eggplant Tomato Sauce

           This month's Recipe Redux theme is "Spooky Spices".  You know those spices you purchased for a recipe you made once and now they are just hanging out in the back of your pantry because you don't know what to do with them! After taking a peak through the back of my spice rack I came across coriander. I was not quite sure what I had used it for or what I should use it in so I did some research...

           Coriander, also known as cilantro, comes from the fruit of the coriander/cilantro plant. These small seeds are packed full of fiber and minerals; calcium, iron, selenium, magnesium and manganese. Ground coriander spice is most commonly used in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine and gives dishes a nice roasted nutty flavor.  Having a husband who is Persian I am assuming I used it once in an attempt to recreate one of his family's favorite dishes. Hope it was good!!

      I decided on a Middle Eastern inspired dish adding the coriander to the lamb meat and pairing it with an eggplant tomato sauce. Lamb meat is commonly used in Persian cuisine and if  grass fed, has a high content of heart healthy fats like omega-3, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, as well as Zinc and B vitamins.  Eggplant and tomatoes are also commonly used vegetables in Persian cuisine and add a nice acidity and a fresh taste to the dish.

   If you have some coriander in your pantry...don't fear, get cooking!

Lamb Meatballs with Eggplant Tomato Sauce


  • 1/3 cup onion,diced
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 eggplant,cubed
  • 1 zucchini, cubed
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups low sodium tomato sauce

  • 1 pound grass fed lean ground lamb
  • 1/4 cup oats, processed
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoon plain 0% Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2.In large sauce pan saute onion and garlic over medium heat for about 3 minutes or until onions translucent. Add in cubed zucchini, eggplant and saute for 5-7 minutes. Add in tomato sauce, chicken broth and crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes to allow the sauce to reduce.
3. Whisk eggs, oats, Greek yogurt until combined. Add in onion, and spices then crumble in lamb and combine.
4. Make small meatballs (about the size of a Ping-Pong ball)out of lamb mixture and place on greased baking sheet. Then bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.
5. Once meatballs are cooked, add to sauce and continue cooking for 20-30 minutes.
6. Serve meatballs and sauce over brown rice.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Spaghetti Squash Shrimp Scampi

      Traditional scampi in the United States is full of butter, carbohydrates and is low in fiber and nutrients. Although delicious this recipe is definitely in need of a healthy twist! Creating a healthy yet delicious scampi was definitely a challenge as my husband is a pasta lover. Even getting him to try whole wheat pasta was difficult. As you know I am always up for a challenge in the kitchen and I think the final product was a winner.
        Instead of using butter I used olive oil and chicken broth as the base of the sauce. To bring in more nutrients I added broccoli for fiber and Vitamin K; sun-dried tomatoes for Vitamin A; and lemons for Vitamin C. Instead of pasta I chose to serve the scampi over roasted spaghetti squash, cutting down the calories and carbohydrates and bumping up the nutrients!

I love this dish not only was it easy to make but is packed full of flavor and nutrients. My husband loved it, and didn't miss the pasta after all! 

Spaghetti Squash Shrimp Scampi
Servings: 2

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups broccoli
  • 1/2 pound of raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth, low sodium
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons parsley, finely chopped

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Cut spaghetti squash in half, length-wise. Remove seeds and place in baking dish flesh side up and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until squash is tender and easy to shred.
3. While squash is baking, add water to a large saucepan, warming on medium high heat. Once boiling add in broccoli and cook for 2-3 minutes. Then remove and cover with aluminum foil.
4. In a medium saute pan over medium heat saute garlic in olive oil for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Add in shrimp and cook until pink. Remove cooked shrimp from pan and cover with aluminum foil.
5. For the sauce add chicken broth, lemon juice and zest to the saucepan. Once boiling decrease the heat and stir in cheese. Once dissolved and sauce creamy add in sun-dried tomatoes.  Cook for another 5 minutes. Then add in parsley.
6. When spaghetti squash is done, remove from oven and shred with a fork. Add squash to sauce to allow it to soak up the juice. Then add in cooked shrimp and broccoli. Cook for 2 minutes until warm. Do not overcook or broccoli will start to brown. Serve topped with parsley and Parmesan cheese.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Homemade Almond Butter

       Almond butter is a great alternative to peanut butter for people with a peanut allergy. It is also great for people who are just looking for something different to put on their toast in the morning.  Almond butter is also a great source of protein and heart healthy fats, but unfortunately can be a bit pricey. One 16 ounce jar usually sells for around 10 dollars, which is almost three times the cost of regular peanut butter! I'll admit this is a definite turn off for me, so I was determined to find a solution and I think it's a good one....

        Homemade almond butter. With just one ingredient, almonds, it's easy to make and tastes just as great as peanut butter. I purchased a 12-ounce bag of almonds at Target for about $5.30 and it ended up making over 16 ounces (2 cups) of almond butter for half the cost. I'm sold! 

Here is my recipe for homemade almond butter....

  • 12 ounces of Almonds, lightly salted and roasted


1. Add almonds to Ninja or food processor.

2. Process/blend almonds until it turns in to a powder. Then scrap the sides down using a spatula.

3. Continue processing almonds until it turns into a paste. Be patient, this may take up to 5 minutes!

4. Store almond butter in an air tight container, like a mason jar, and place in the refrigerator to prevent oil separation and to extend shelf life.

Serving Size: 1 Tablespoon 
Nutrition Information: 100 Calories, 9g fat, 3 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 2 g protein

Monday, October 6, 2014

Pasta with Pumpkin Goat Cheese Sauce

       Did you know October is National Pasta Month? In honor of the Pasta Fits Campaign sponsored by the National Pasta Association I want to share how pasta can fit into a well balanced, nutritious meal. Pasta is a great foundation for a healthy meal, not only is it a quick source of energy, but it can help satisfy your hunger. It also pairs well with a variety of vegetables and lean protein sources.  Another reason why pasta is a perfect grain is because it is easy to prepare and cost friendly.

       Many prefer the more "refined" white pasta because of the tender texture. But whole wheat pasta is my pasta of choice because it contains a higher amount of fiber, vitamins and minerals. When whole wheat pasta is cooked and paired well, I promise you won't be able to tell the difference!

         For my whole wheat pasta inspired dish I paired whole wheat penne with some of my favorite fall foods, pumpkin and kale, and used lean turkey sausage and goat cheese for the protein. This dish is not only packed full of fiber and protein but high in Vitamin A, K, C, and other antioxidants. 

Whole Wheat Penne with Pumpkin Goat Cheese Sauce,

Turkey Sausage and Kale

Servings: 6

  • 1 box whole wheat penne
  • 1 pound turkey sausage
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 5 oz fat-free evaporated milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon sage
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • 2 ounces of goat cheese
  • 3 cups kale, chopped
1.  In a large sauce pan, crumble turkey sausage and brown over medium high heat. Once cooked through drain fat and remove turkey sausage from pan. Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. 
2. Add olive oil to sauce pan. Saute onions and garlic for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent.
3. While onions are sauteing prepare whole wheat penne pasta, following directions on the box.
4. Add in chicken broth and pumpkin puree to onions. Once boiling turn down heat to medium low and add in evaporated milk, sage, rosemary, salt and pepper and mix together. Then add in goat cheese and turkey sausage and simmer for 10 minutes. 
5. Add in kale and mix to allow kale to wilt.
6. Serve pumpkin meat sauce over whole wheat penne. 

Recommended serving size ~ 1 cup sauce with 1 cup whole wheat pasta

“By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the National Pasta Association and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.”

Friday, October 3, 2014

Applesauce Spice Cupcakes

            Hello fall and fall birthdays!  This past weekend we celebrated my mom's birthday as well as my husband's mom, aunt and brother's birthdays. We are so lucky to have family close by, and to be able to celebrate together. For dessert I came up with a fall-inspired birthday cupcake, with my own healthy twist of course!
            My inspiration for the dessert was apples. There is nothing like the taste of a juicy crisp apple at this time of year. My mouth is watering already! Apples not only help keep the doctor away, but are full of fiber, vitamins and minerals. One of my favorite ways to enjoy apples is in applesauce. Applesauce also makes a great fat substitute in baking. By replacing some of the fat with applesauce not only do you cut down the calories but add moisture to your baked good.

Below is my homemade applesauce recipe ....



  • 6 apples
  • 2 cups of cider, or water
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
1. Wash apples then cut apples into quarters (you do not need to peel or core apples).
2. Add cut apples and liquid into a large pot. Boil apples on medium high for 15 minutes or until soft.
3. Once apples are completely cooked let cool.
4. Add apple mixture to a colander and mash apples to remove skins and apple cores.
5. Add cinnamon to applesauce and stir to combine.

         I decided to use my homemade applesauce to make applesauce spice cupcakes. If you don't have the time or apples to make applesauce, store bought no sugar added applesauce works just as well!

Applesauce Spice Cupcakes
 with Maple Cinnamon Frosting

Makes: 12 cupcakes

Cupcake Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup applesauce, no sugar added or homemade applesauce (see above)
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Frosting Ingredients
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces low fat cream cheese
  • 1 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a standing mixer cream brown sugar and butter until combined.
3. Add in egg, maple syrup, applesauce and mix until combined.
4. Fold in flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt.
5. Distribute mixture evenly into a 12 cup muffin tin.
6. Bake for 20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
7. While the cupcakes are baking put together the frosting. In a large bowel beat butter and cream cheese together until creamy. Then slowly add in powdered sugar. Once combined mix in cinnamon and maple syrup.
9. Once cupcakes completely cool, spread on frosting with a knife.

Suggestion: These cupcakes are also great as muffins (minus the frosting)!