Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

A few weeks ago I shared with you some of the great health benefits of beans and vowed to share some recipes with you.  (Check it out here if you missed it!)  Last week I posted a recipe for honey-roasted chick peas.  Today I am sharing another way to enjoy chick peas as a healthy, delicious snack: hummus!

If you're not familiar with hummus, let me get you up to speed.  It is a Middle Eastern dip made of mashed chick peas that is usually accompanied by olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and tahini (sesame paste), and served with pita bread.  And it is awesome!  Add some roasted red peppers, and you have something really special on your hands!  If you aren't a huge bean fan, hummus is a great way to trick yourself into adding beans into your diet.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Maple Pecan Pie Popcorn

Today I would like to introduce you to a new snack I tried that is now near and dear to my heart.  It's sweet, it's salty, it's crunchy, it's highly addictive.  It's maple pecan pie popcorn!  I saw this recipe tucked into a corner in a Rachael Ray magazine and I knew I had to make it.

So this weekend I popped up some air-popped popcorn and set out to make this yummy sounding treat.  Then I looked a little closer at the ingredients and did a little calorie math in my head.  I love doing calorie math, but I didn't love the sum I was getting.  I was taking an innocent, actually healthy, snack food in air-popped popcorn and adding about 450 calories worth of sugar (syrup and brown sugar) and 800 calories worth of fat (butter).  That didn't sound right.  I did the math again.  Yep, I was about to take 200 calories worth of popcorn and add over 1200 calories of sugar and fat.  Not cool.  And although nuts are considered healthy, even the chopped pecans in this recipe were going to contribute and additional 560 calories.  Ouch!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Homemade Whole Wheat Honey Graham Crackers

I guess I am on a homemade kick.  Earlier this week I posted my homemade hot dog buns.  Yesterday I posted my peanut butter chocolate chip cookie dough dip, and promised I would share what I used as a worthy carrier for this fantastic treat.  And that carrier is homemade graham crackers.  Aren't I fancy?

I think I decided to make my own graham crackers because that seemed easier than going to the store and buying some.  And they were actually really easy.  The whole process of making these probably took a little longer than going to the store, but the hands-on time is quick.  The fact that they are fresh, preservative free, and delicious is just a bonus.  These had a delightful buttery taste and just the right amount of sweetness.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip

The Super Bowl is rapidly approaching.  Do you have your menu set?  When it comes to snacking during the big game, or any big game, dips are king.  And when it comes to dips, salty is king of the kings.  But I think it's time for sweet dips to get a little of that spotlight!

This is yet another recipe I have had for a while and never got around to making--and regretted it!  It actually started out as just chocolate chip cookie dough dip.  I made it as directed, and it was good.  But it wasn't amazing.  What would take this from good to great?  Peanut butter, of course!  So I stirred in a bit of peanut butter.  Viola!  I had garnished my dip with chocolate chips, but since I had added peanut butter, I took it another step added some chopped Reese's. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Beer and Brown Sugar Kielbasa & Sauerkraut

Let's face it, sauerkraut stinks.  I mean, it literally smells bad.  For that reason, I boycotted it for most of my life.  But a few months ago, in the name of second chances, I gave it another shot.  The verdict: it was okay.  It wasn't something I would go out of the way to eat, but it was edible.

Shortly after my encounter with sauerkraut, I saw this recipe for beer and brown sugar kielbasa and sauerkraut.  I have never tried kielbasa, and I was intrigued by the idea of adding beer and brown sugar to sauerkraut.  If sauerkraut is edible on it own, how good would it be with beer and brown sugar?  I held onto the recipe but never made it until last weekend.  

My only wish is that I hadn't waited so long.  It turns out that with a little TLC, sauerkraut can actually be pretty awesome.  Through the magical power of beer and brown sugar, sauerkraut goes from strong and overpowering to mild, mellow, and delicious!  And I've always been a brat kind of girl, but this kielbasa definitely holds its own, too!  So if you have been avoiding sauerkraut or kielbasa because you think they are the food version of pond scum, I urge you to give them a second chance and try this recipe!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Honey-Roasted Chick Peas

Every girl has a vice.  Mine is dessert.  After super, I always crave something sweet.  It is safe to say I have trained my brain that end of the day = sugar!  While I typically turn to cake, cookies, pie, or some other high calorie, nutrient lacking treat, sometimes I want something healthy to satisfy that craving.  Enter, honey-roasted chick peas.

These are crispy, crunchy, and sweet.  And they're beans!  To clear up any possible confusion, chick peas and garbanzo beans are one in the same.  Who would have thought beans could turn into such a satisfying snack?  In the name of full disclosure, it is important to remember that chick peas, like all beans, are not calorie free.  A half cup has about 110 calories.  But, unlike most sweet snacks, these are a great source of fiber.  So I don't recommend eating an unlimited amount of these, but have a handful or two and satisfy your sugar craving without the guilt!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Whole Wheat Beer Buns

The subtitle for my blog is "a dietitian's journey through a foodie world."  And a journey it is.  I still consider myself a beginner at real, made from scratch baking.  And although I know my way around the kitchen, not everything I touch turns into foodie gold.  With that being said let me introduce you to my first crack at homemade hot dog buns!
Okay, so these didn't turn out quite as I had hoped.  They were more like mini loaves of whole wheat flat bread.  But, they were so delicious I just had to share them with you anyway.  These smelled so good while they were baking that my husband and I both just had to have a bun right out of the oven.  When was the last time you couldn't help yourself from eating a store bought hot dog bun?  Yeah, that's what I thought!  

Monday, January 23, 2012

Makeover Monday: Skinny Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Be honest.  How many of you rolled your eyes when you saw the tittle of this post.  You might be thinking this is just another low fat mashed potato recipe that is going to leave you with a flavorless, unsatisfying glob of potatoes.  If that's the case, you are wrong!  These potatoes are just as rich, creamy, and delicious as the garlic mashed potatoes you get at your favorite restaurant, but with way less calories.  As a matter of fact, these are not just low fat; they have fewer carbs than regular mashed potatoes.  Interested yet?

This recipe is brilliant on three levels:  1.  Sauteing garlic in margarine and sugar.  2.  Cooking small chunks of potatoes in the liquid you would otherwise add to potatoes.  3.  Substitute some of the potatoes for cauliflower.  All the other one zillion mashed potato recipes I have tried are now dead to me!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Very Veggie Beef and Bean Chili

After a nice period of seasonably mild weather, Old Man Winter is back again!  Ugh.  Cold weather does not agree with me.  But fortunately, when I get down about the chill in the air, I remember that it is the perfect time for a hot bowl of chili, and I smile again.  

I have made several different recipes for chili.  I liked them all, but I have found that I like them better when I mix them all together!  This recipe is a hodgepodge of this and that.  And honestly, some of this came about just because of what I happened to have at the house at the time.  I know that everyone has a favorite chili recipe, and this is mine!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Roasted Carrots with Onion and Thyme

I have always loved carrots.  They are crunchy, versatile, nutritious, and even slightly sweet.  You know I like sweet stuff!  But for some reason, when they are cooked, they lose some of their appeal to me.  In theory, roasted carrots should be great.  Roasting veggies releases their natural sugars and brings out great flavor.  But it can also leave you with dried out, shriveled up, carrot jerky.

So a few days ago, when I found myself needing a veggie to serve with dinner and nothing around but carrots, I sought out to make a roasted carrot side dish that was actually as good as it should be.  I found a recipe for roasted carrots in Cook's Illustrated, and I knew I had recipe gold.  

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tuna Ring with Swiss Cheese Sauce

For the first 23 years of my life, tuna meant Tuna Helper.  I love Tuna Helper.  Just ask my mom.  As a kid, I stayed at home during the summer and babysat my younger siblings.  And I made lunch every day.  What did I make just about every day?  Tuna Helper!  Even now, if you raided my pantry, you would find a few boxes of Tuna Helper I have saved for a busy day when I need something super fast (or when I just want some!).  

But in my culinary journey, I decided it was time to do something else with tuna.  So I went to an old cookbook I inherited from my grandma, and I found a recipe for tuna ring with cheese sauce.  The ring is a tuna/cheese mixture rolled into a biscuit-like crust.  I was a little trepidatious trying this recipe because my husband, though he will eat tuna, is not its biggest fan.  

I made it anyway, with a few changes to suit my taste.  Although it isn't the practically instant meal that Tuna Helper is, it was pretty easy to make.  The tuna filling simply requires stirring together a few ingredients.  Making the ring is basically making a biscuit dough and rolling it out, filling it, then rolling it back up.  

Monday, January 16, 2012

Makeover Monday: Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Banana Mini Muffins

With this post, I give you permission to eat chocolate for breakfast and not even feel guilty about it.  How great am I?  Actually, the real hero here is whole wheat dark chocolate banana mini muffins.  

This recipe is great for those of you who want to add more whole grains to your diet, but have picky eaters in your home who are not as open to healthy changes.  Thanks to the dark chocolate, the whole grain flour in these muffins is totally camouflaged.  And the cocoa powder itself is actually a source of fiber and powerful antioxidants.  

Friday, January 13, 2012

Balsamic Vinaigerette Oven-Baked Sweet Potato Fries

 Hello out there in internet land!  It is time for another edition of "The Saga of the Giant Sweet Potatoes."  In today's episode, I tackle the final gardening feat. If you are just joining us, here's what you've missed so far: Sweet Potato Bread, Sweet Potato Rosemary Biscuits, Sweet Potato Pie, and Honey-Roasted Sweet Potatoes.  What else can you do with sweet potatoes?  Make sweet potato fries!

But, of course, food doesn't actually get fried in my house.  I have a recipe I have used a few times to make oven-baked "fries" with plain old Russet potatoes.  So I took that recipe and adjusted it a bit to change up the flavors for sweet potatoes.  I used fat free balsamic vinaigrette dressing to coat the potatoes and add flavor, with almost no calories.  And it was delicious!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Buttermilk Blueberry Waffles

I got a lot of great kitchen toys for Christmas.  One of my new gadgets is a Belgian waffle iron.  Score!  With their crispy exterior and soft, fluffy interior, Belgian waffles rule over all other waffles.  I have been madly in love with Belgian waffles since my freshman year of college.  Cue television time travel music...Ah, freshman year.  You're on your own for the first time.  You're meeting new people.  And the dorm dining center has Belgian waffle makers you can use to whip up your very own fresh waffles every morning.  What a magical time!

I tested out my new appliance the first weekend I had at home.  And for her maiden batch of waffles, I wanted to make sure I had the perfect waffle recipe.  And for the best recipes, I always turn to Cook's Illustrated.  Sure enough, in the May/June 2010 issue, I found a great recipe for buttermilk waffles.  

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Health Tips: Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit...

...I'll let you finish the song in your head. 
 Although beans are not a fruit, they are a little magical.  Or musical, depending on which version of the song you prefer.  I have only recently realized that I like beans.  As a kid, I refused to eat them and would go so far as to pick out every bean from a bowl of chili.  But, I also thought I didn't like chocolate so that goes to show you how smart I was.  Fortunately, I'm much smarter now and gladly eat both!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Makeover Monday: Skinny Potato Soup

We are a little over a week into 2012.  How are those New Year's resolutions going?  If losing weight was on your list of goals for the year, no doubt you have had some cravings in this last week.  Maybe you've passed on dessert a few more times than you usually do.  Maybe you've purged your house of junk food.  Maybe you've coaxed yourself off the couch and onto a treadmill in the evenings.  I bet you could use some comfort food right about now.  How about a nice hot bowl of creamy potato soup?  

Think you can't fit a creamy soup into your new diet plan?  Now you can!  I love potato soup, but I don't love all the fat that comes with its rich creaminess.  So I got rid of the fat.  But I didn't want a thin, wimpy soup.  What's a girl to do?  My big secret to cut calories without taste in this soup is veggies power.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Pinto Beans and Cheesy Cornbread

I spend a lot of reading food blogs.  Probably too much time.  I love exploring the creations of fellow cooking enthusiasts.  There are so many talented people out there who are constantly coming up with the next latest and greatest thing.  But sometimes pure and simple hits the spot.  Simple, meet beans and cornbread.

This is one of the easiest dishes you could ever make.  It is nothing fancy, but it is the kind of meal that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  This isn't the kind of meal you put together in an instant after a long day at work.  But this is perfect for a busy Saturday.  Just put it on the stove, and forget it for a few hours while you go about your business.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Whole Wheat Rosemary Beer Bread

Everyone loves the taste of fresh baked bread.  But not everyone loves the time it takes to make fresh bread.  Quick bread to the rescue!  The hands-on time required for this beer bread is approximately 2 minutes.  And with the addition of a bit of rosemary, this bread smells wonderful, and it tastes like something that took hours.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Homemade Beef and Black Bean Tacos

Until a few years ago, I didn't make anything from scratch.  I mean anything.  Everything I ate was either from a box, can, or a pouch.  Then I found myself out of school, working 8-5, and with a precious little thing known as free time.  So I started dabbling in making food from scratch.  And I will never go back!  It turns out that food made from scratch usually isn't that time consuming, it tastes better, and it comes without a list of chemicals! 

One of my from-a-pouch meals used to be tacos.  I have always loved tacos, but since I started making my own seasoning mix, I love tacos even more!  I developed my recipe by picking and choosing things I liked from other recipes, and some experimenting.  I just make a batch of this seasoning, store it in an old chili powder bottle with the recipe written on it, and when I get that taco craving, I just whip some up.  Easy!  

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Health Tips: How to Stick to Your New Year’s Resolution

As we take down the 2011 calendars and put up the shiny new 2012 calendars, many of us are thinking about the positive changes we would like to make in the new year.  And after the onslaught of sugary, rich, holiday foods, more than a few folks are thinking about eating healthier.  While we are all ripe enthusiasm now, that excitement seems to quickly fade as January gives way to February.  

The fact is that losing weight is tough.  So how do you make that New Year’s resolution last longer than a Kardashian marriage?  Here are a few tips that can help you stick with your good intentions in 2012: