Sunday, December 21, 2014

Maple Pecan Kettle Corn


       This month's Recipe ReDux theme is "Grab a Book and Cook". Recipe redux is celebrating its 42 months of recipes by asking everyone to pick there favorite cookbook and ReDux the recipe on either page 42 or 142.  My recent favorite cookbooks is Giada DeLaurentis's newest cookbook "Feel Good Food". It is full of healthy takes on her favorite recipes as well as fun beauty tips! 

   I decided on the recipe on page 142,  "Cinnamon Kettle Corn".  Popcorn is one of my favorite snacks, low in calories and high in fiber!  Kettle corn is a perfect sweet and salty treat, but can be high in fat and sugar. Giada's recipe slims down the calories a bit which I love. For a fun twist I decided to go with a more Christmas inspired version using maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and pecans.
             I have to admit I have never made my own popcorn before, mostly because I thought you needed an air popper. But I was wrong! After some research I found that you can cook popcorn right on the stove in a sauté pan which is perfect because I am sick of spending over 4 dollars for a bag of popcorn when making ti from scratch will cost me less than 25 cents a bag!

     My Maple Pacan Kettle Corn is simple and cheap to make and is the perfect holiday snack or holiday gift. Just store in a Mason jar ans share with family and friends!

Maple Pecan Kettle Corn
servings: 8 (1 cup servings)

  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup pecans, roasted
1. In a large heavy bottom non-stick sauté pan on medium heat, warm up oil with 3 kernels of popcorn. Then cover pan with a lid. Once kernels start to pop add in remaining kernels plus syrup and spices, mix to coat kernels then replace lid.
2. Shake kernels frequently to prevent sticking and burning. Once kernels start to pop continue to shake pan for about 5 minutes or until popping slows down. Turn off heat. Once kernels stop popping, slowly remove lid (be careful of hot steam that will escape). Remove from sauté pan and place into a bowl to cool. Mix in roasted pecans.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Holiday Recipe Round Up and Health Tips!

     I can't believe Christmas is less than a week away!  I have rounded up my favorite holiday treats, sides and snacks from other health food bloggers to give you some healthy inspiration this holiday season. I have also complied a list of my top health tips and tricks to keep you on track!

Healthy Eating Tips for the Holiday Season

1. Keep the Same Routine : This includes both your eating and exercise routine
  • Eating Schedule: Do not skip breakfast or lunch just beacause you have a party to go to in the evening. Eating consistently throughout the day will help prevent overeating at night.
  • Exercise: Leaving time for exercise will do you a lot of physical and mental good! Not only does it help prevent holiday weight gain but it can also help relieve stress. Just 15 to 30 minutes of your favorite exercise a day will help you burn calories and make you feel good!
2. Plan Meals Ahead
  • Plan meals around fresh vegetables, fruits, lean protein and low fat dairy.
  • If you are going out for a long day of shopping, eat a meal before you leave and bring a healthy snack like trail mix, peanut butter and crackers, or a piece of fruit and string cheese in case you get hungry. This will also prevent you from being tempted by those delicious smelling, but not so good for you mall snacks.
3. Holiday Parties
  • Holiday parties are full of copious amounts of food. Make sure you don't go to a party hungry. You will be less likely to overindulge if you eat a healthy high protein snack like string cheese or low fat yogurt before you go.  
4. Lastly, enjoy you holiday favorites, but in moderation!
  • The most tempting and delicious part of the holiday season has to be the holiday cookies, eggnog, candies and other treats. It's okay to have your favorite holiday treat, but just take one! I promise you will be just as satisfied!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Oatmeal Cranberry Pistachio Cookies

     Happy Holidays! 'Tis the season for delicious sweets and baked goods! Cookies make a great easy treat for a holiday party or gift for friends and co-workers.  I got started early this year and began whipping up my first batch of holiday cookies this weekend to share with my co-workers. My favorite oatmeal cookie recipe got a bit of a makeover. To make them a bit more healthy I cut back on some of the fat and sugar and added a couple of my favorite ingredients; pistachios and dried cranberries.

        Pistachios are quickly becoming a staple in my kitchen for a quick healthy snack and an ingredient in baking and savory dishes. They are a tree nut like almonds, cashews and walnuts and are packed with mono-unsaturated fats, protein, vitamins and antioxidants. Did you know that pistachios yeild the most nuts per one ounce sering, you can eat about 49 nuts in comparision to about 23 for almonds, and all for only 160 calories! Pistachios contain a sweet and nutty flavor making them perfect in baked good and sweets. Their green color also make them a great addition to a holiday treat.

      Nothing says Merry Christmas more than these cookies. You can feel good about giving your friends, family, or co-workers something that is both healthy and delicious this holiday season! Happy baking!

Oatmeal Cranberry Pistachio Cookies

Makes 18-24 cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup craisins
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, unshelled and roughly chopped
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine dry ingredients; oats, flours, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon.
3. Combine wet ingredients; oil, applesauce, egg, and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients.
4. Fold in craisins and pistachios.
5. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Winter Farro Salad with Orange Dijon Vinaigrette

         Winter is almost here, although it feels like it has already arrived here in Boston! Salads are typically a summer dish but for me it's a quick easy lunch or dinner all year round. For my winter inspired salad I am highlighting winter produce and raisins! I love using raisins to add in natural sweetness and flavor to whatever I am making. Did you know California Raisins are naturally sweet, fat and cholesterol free, and a 1/4 cup serving also provides 9% of your fiber and potassium, and 6% of your daily iron needs? What is not to love! Raisins also make for a great cheap on-the-go snack and can be added to a variety of sweet and savory dishes.
        For my Winter inspired salad I used seasonal produce including oranges and fennel and used raisins for a touch of sweetness. I also used farro for a hearty flavor and texture. For those of you who have never heard of it, it's a gluten free whole grain and can be used instead of rice or pasta in a variety of dishes. I just love the texture and nutty flavor it provides to this winter dish.

Winter Farro Salad with Orange Dijon Vinaigrette
Servings: 4


  • 1 cup farro, uncooked
  • 1/2 cup fennel, sliced thinly
  • 1/3 cup California Raisins
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1 orange, cut into segments
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 2 cups spinach leaves


  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon shallot, minced

1. Cook farro according to package.
2. While farro is cooking, heat raisins in orange juice in a small sauce pan for 5-7 minutes to plump up the raisins then set aside.
3. For vinaigrette add all ingredients to a blender and mix until emulsified.
2. Once farro is cooked, drain and let cool. Then add in raisins, orange segments, almonds and spinach leaves. Then add in dressing. Toss to combine.

For more information about all-natural, no-sugar added California raisins , please visit, or follow at,, or

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

Friday, December 5, 2014

Walnut Crusted Salmon with Pomegranate Sauce

           Looking for a quick satisfying and healthy meal for the week or a meal to impress your family or friends this holiday season? Well, I've got something special for you! My walnut crusted salmon is the perfect winter dish packed with flavor, heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids from the walnuts and salmon and antioxidants from the pomegranate sauce. I have to say this dish is one of my favorite creations so far. It took very little time to prepare and is the perfect combination of sweet and savory.
           My inspiration for this recipe was a favorite Persian dish of mine, fesenjan, which traditionally combines sweet and tart pomegranate paste and ground walnuts to make a thick stew. I also had something similar at my favorite restaurant in my hometown called Sorentos (a fusion Italian and Persian restaurant).
          To make this dish I first made a pomegranate reduction sauce (a fancy word for boiled down liquid) which was super easy and only required one ingredient, pomegranate juice. Then for the fish I mixed together honey mustard and honey to use as the glue for the crushed walnuts with which I coated the top of the salmon. Then I baked the salmon in the oven for 10-15 minutes and served it over cooked quinoa and sauteed spinach. Yum, and all done in 30 minutes!
          This dish definitely looks and tastes restaurant worthy, but is easy enough for any home cook to make!

Walnut Crusted Salmon with Pomegranate Sauce
Servings: 4

  • 2 cups of pomegranate juice
  • 4-4 ounce salmon filets
  • 2 tablespoons of honey mustard
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, ground

1. To make sauce. Heat pomegranate juice in a small sauce pan over medium heat for about 30 minutes or until reduced by half. Let cool.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
3. In a small bowl, mix together honey and honey mustard.
4. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray. Spread salmon filets with honey mustard sauce.
Then flip filets over and press lightly into processed walnuts. Then place filets on greased
baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes or until salmon is opaque and flakes.
5. Serve salmon over cooked quinoa and sautéed spinach. Spoon pomegranate sauce over salmon.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Thanksgiving Leftovers: Turkey Hash

The one thing I love after Thanksgiving is leftovers! I also hate letting food go to waste so I make sure to use up every last bite of food left in the fridge. This year I had plenty of turkey, squash and brussel sprouts left over so I decided to turn them into my version of hash for lunch! It's an all in one meal perfect for a quick lunch or dinner.

Turkey Hash with Squash and Brussel Sprouts
Servings: 3

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cups of squash (I used buttercup squash but butternut or even sweet potatoes would work)
  • 1 cup chicken broth, low sodium
  • 2 cups of turkey, shredded
  • 2 cups of brussel sprouts, shredded
  • salt/pepper to taste

1. Add olive oil to a large saute pan on medium high heat. Then add in squash and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until tender adding chicken broth to pan as needed to prevent the squash from sticking to the pan.
2. Then add in brussel sprouts and turkey and cook for another 3 minutes. 
3. Season with additional salt/pepper as needed.

I was all out of cranberry sauce, but I think it would be the perfect way to top off this dish. Enjoy!