Recipe: “Angeled” Eggs

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What’s not to love about eggs?!

They’re cheap, easy to make and super versatile — not to mention full of protein, fats and 12+ vitamins and minerals — which is why they’re a staple in our house, particularly these past few months during ’round-the-clock eating and bun-in-the-oven baking.

Ben’s favorite way to consume them is something he calls the “poor man’s deviled egg,” a recipe he created in college. Ready for it? You grab a hard-boiled egg, and squirt yellow mustard on it in between bites, usually while standing over the kitchen sink.

While I can’t knock his, uh, creativity…stomach space is at a premium these days, so I need something that packs a bit more of a punch in the nutrient density department.

Enter “Angeled” Eggs. By replacing the usual mayo with a healthy zing of hummus, you’ll not only save a few calories but also add extra protein, iron and fiber into one incredible little snack.

“Angeled” Eggs

(adapted from PopSugar’s recipe here)

Ingredients: 

  • 1 dozen hard-boiled eggs
  • 1 16-ounce container hummus
  • Smoked paprika

Directions: 

  1. Remove shells from hard-boiled eggs while rinsing under cool water to help separate.
  2. Cut eggs in half lengthwise, carefully scoop out yolks and place them in a bowl.
  3. Mash yolks with a fork. Add hummus, and mix together until creamy.
  4. Spoon the egg mixture into the egg-white halves. Top with a pinch of smoked paprika, and serve immediately.
Got any quick, easy & healthy egg recipes to share? I’m always on the lookout!

Recipe: Crock-Pot Apple-Pear Sauce

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While I’m on my apple kick, I figured I’d share another family-favorite fall recipe: Crock-pot apple-pear sauce, otherwise known as the gift that keeps on giving.

Not only do you get to have fun hitting up the orchard to collect bushels of fruit (or in our case, my in-laws’ backyard — thanks, guys!), but then you get to come home and reap the benefits of its deliciousness.

What I especially love about this recipe — well, besides the eating part — is that it’s practically foolproof. Three ingredients, loose directions, and in a few hours you’ll have some pretty amazing sauce to share (…or not).

Crock-Pot Apple-Pear Sauce

Ingredients:

  • ~20 small apples (your favorite variety)
  • ~10 pears (I use Bosc)
  • Cinnamon stick

Directions:

  1. Rinse, dry, peel and roughly chop enough of the apples and pears to fill your Crock-pot to the top. Add a stick of cinnamon.
  2. Turn Crock-pot on low and cook fruit until it starts to break down (a few hours), stirring occasionally.
  3. When fruit has cooked down (i.e. darkened up and gotten mushy), remove cinnamon stick and use spoon to break up any remaining large chunks.
  4. Let cool before eating. If desired, use an immersion blender to blend to a smooth consistency, but I like the rustic, chunky kind of sauce!

Hint: I like to have a few extra apples and pears on hand; as the fruit breaks down, it takes up less room in the Crock-pot (if you start with it full to the brim, you’ll end up with a half batch), so I’ll add more fruit as it cooks to end up with a full batch.

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Here’s the “before” — with fresh fruit and a cinnamon stick in the Crock-pot just as I turned it on. Resist the urge to add water or sugar (you’ll see why when you taste the finished product).

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And the “during” in which the fruit starts to brown up and break down. Be sure to stir regularly to avoid it sticking to the sides and bottom.

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And since I started this batch in the afternoon and added more fresh fruit before bedtime, I let it cook on low overnight so we’d wake up to a sweet surprise with breakfast the next morning!

Are you as apple-obsessed as I am in fall?

Recipe: Apple, Sausage & Cheddar Monkey Bread

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Fall means a lot of things, but perhaps the one I get most excited about is…APPLES! Squeezed into cider, drizzled with caramel or melted down into sauce in the crockpot, they’re delicious (and nutritious!) any which way you can get your hands on them this time of year.

This recipe stopped me in my tracks, though, as I was flipping through the latest issue of Real Simple magazine. Could my favorite fall-themed fruit also play well with biscuits, sausage and cheese?

Only a taste test would tell. So I made this dish one Sunday for a football-watching brunch with Ben. It says it serves 12, but we may have eaten half the pan by noon…using the excuse that it was good pre-workout fuel, of course.

Apple, Sausage & Cheddar Monkey Bread

(recipe adapted from Real Simple)

Ingredients: 

  • 16-oz. turkey breakfast sausage
  • 2 diced red apples
  • 16-oz. can biscuit dough, cut into 1-in. pieces
  • 1.5 cups grated cheddar cheese

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 425° F. Cook sausage in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat until browned.
  2. Stir in apples. Cook until the apples are soft; transfer to a bowl. Stir in biscuit dough.
  3. Spread mixture into the skillet, and top with cheddar. Bake until golden, about 22 minutes.

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What’s your favorite out-of-the-box apple recipe?

Recipe: Farmer’s Market Salad

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Although I was off salads for most of the summer (ah, food aversions), I credit one special dish to getting me back on the fresh veggie bandwagon in time for fall: the Daily Cafe’s Sauvie Island Farm Salad. It’s a heavenly combination of chopped heirloom tomatoes, avocado, corn, cucumbers, sweet onions and arugula tossed with an apple cider vinaigrette.

I realized my new “habit” had become a full-blown obsession, however, as I was packing up to head home to Michigan a few weeks back and found myself wondering what I’d do without my usual lunchtime rendezvous. So I figured I’d take matters into my own hands with a little recipe redux for my family…plus a few small tweaks, of course (because I’m still off avocados…dammit).

Use it as a side dish to compliment your protein, as we did with some glazed salmon one evening. Or pile on some shredded chicken breast, and call it a meal unto its own. Either way, it’s a fantastic way to enjoy the final fruits of summer!

Farmer’s Market Salad

Ingredients: 

  • 4 heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 ear of fresh corn
  • Few handfuls of arugula lettuce
  • One ball of fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup shredded chicken, optional

Directions: 

  1. Wash and chop tomatoes into 1/2-inch sized cubes. Place in a large bowl.
  2. Peel corn, and cut kernels off the cob directly into the bowl with tomatoes. Toss in a few handfuls of arugula (more, if you’d like).
  3. Cut mozzarella ball into small pieces, and add to bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add shredded chicken (optional), and toss entire mixture to coat evenly with dressing. Serve and devour immediately.

Two quick tips: First, think out of the box and try using different kinds and colors of tomatoes. Red, green, yellow, brown, large, small — they’re all gorgeous and add more visual appeal to your meal. Remember, feeling satisfied and well-nourished means engaging all of your senses!

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Second, if you’re leery of soft cheeses (like me at the moment), I’ve got a super simple fix: Instead of fresh moz, buy some mozzarella string cheese to chop up. Sure, it’s got a slightly tougher texture, but it’s still delicious and a terrific source of calcium.

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Which recipes have you been craving this season?

Recipe: Easy spaghetti squash side dish

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Lighter, brighter and packed with more nutrients than its pasta namesake, spaghetti squash is one of those veggies with which I have a love/hate relationship. I love eating it because it’s got a yummy nutty flavor and is low in calories and high in fiber. But, until now, I’ve had trouble preparing it to varying degrees of success in the microwave.

Not only is this oven method much simpler (with a quicker clean-up, thanks to the parchment paper), but baking it also imparts a rich, roasted flavor and helps the flesh from getting too soggy. And it’s the perfect side dish to lend a festive fall feeling to any meal.

Easy Spaghetti Squash Side Dish

Ingredients:

  • 2 spaghetti squash, halved and seeded
  • 4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Sea salt and freshly-ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp roughly-chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Drizzle squash flesh with olive oil, evenly dividing between the four halves.
  3. Season each of the four halves with 1/4 of the onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  4. Place cut sides down on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet.
  5. Roast until squash is tender when pierced with a knife, about 1 hour.
  6. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before removing flesh strands with a fork.
  7. In a medium bowl, mix squash with butter, Parmesan, parsley and red pepper flakes. Serve immediately.

I always like to start by washing the outside of the squash. And cutting it in half can be a bit tricky, so be careful when wielding your knife.

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Clean out all of the seeds, but don’t worry about scraping the flesh clean.

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Arrange the squash halves so they all fit nicely on the parchment paper; this will keep you from having to do extra clean-up later!

The skins will darken slightly when cooked, and there may be some slight discolorations that come through, but that’s normal.

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When the squash is ready, you’ll be able to pull the strands away from the skin easily with a fork. Experiment with your favorite mix-ins, and enjoy.

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What’s your favorite seasonal twist on fall meals? 

Recipe: Bacon Maple Cornbread

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Confession: This is a health- and fitness-focused blog, but I don’t eat kale 24/7 or work out like crazy every.single.day.

It’s simply not practical — or, let’s face it — fun. 

After all, it’s all about balance. And, friends, sometimes that balance comes in the form of bacon grease and maple syrup…enjoy!

Bacon Maple Cornbread

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 1 egg
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 6 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ~1/2 cup bacon grease
  • Butter and honey, for spreading

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Mix flour, cornmeal, egg, baking powder and 1 cup of the milk.
  3. Stir in maple syrup and bacon grease.
  4. Add in remainder of milk to get batter to the correct consistency — not runny, but not too thick.
  5. Pour batter into cake pan and bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes.
  6. Smother with butter and honey for a real treat 🙂

You can make individual muffins (bake for 15-20 minutes), but I prefer a larger pan to keep the cornbread from drying out.

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It’s got a nice smoky flavor from the bacon and a natural sweetness from the maple syrup. The perfect accompaniment to some good BBQ…but that’s another post entirely!

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How do you define balance when it comes to working out and eating healthy? 

Recipe: Citrus-Cumin Pork Chops with Farro

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Oh, farro. You’re an ancient grain with a bad rap for being tricky to cook, but your nutty flavor, delicate chew and versatility make you worth a second look.

This is precisely why I went off Googling recipes when I found a package of it while cleaning out our kitchen cupboard recently.

Here’s a time-saving tip: Knock out the farro salad while the pork is cooking in the oven, and you’ll have a delicious dinner on the table in just about an hour.

Citrus-Cumin Pork Chops with Farro 

(Recipe adapted from Food Network Kitchen)

Ingredients: 

  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 pork chops
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • Juice of one orange
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup farro
  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 10 oz Brussels sprouts, trimmed and thinly sliced

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Season pork chops on both sides with cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. Place in baking dish.
  3. Drizzle with honey and orange juice, and place in oven to bake for 30 mins.
  4. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in saucepan and add red onion. Stir for 5 mins
  5. Add farro, water and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 25 mins.
  6. After oven timer has gone off, flip pork chops and bake for another 30 mins
  7. After farro is tender, stir in Brussels sprouts and cook until tender, another 5 mins
  8. Dish farro mixture equally onto 4 plates, top with a pork chop and drizzle with pan juices.

Here’s a look at the process: Start by sautéing onion in the pan with olive oil.

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Be sure to buy the semi-pearled farro variety, meaning it cooks up quickly, and without any pre-soaking, in about 25 minutes.

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Bring water to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until grains are tender.

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The Brussels sprouts add some nice spice — plus they’e a great way to sneak some greens into your meal.

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The warmth from the farro will help soften the sprouts, so you’ll only need to cook them for a few minutes.

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Once the pork is done, plate it over a bed of the farro mixture and drizzle pan juices over the entire plate for extra flavor.

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What other off-the-beaten-path ingredients do you enjoying incorporating into meals? 

Recipes for a healthier St. Patrick’s Day

Source: TheTartTart.com

Source: TheTartTart.com

The last thing we usually equate St. Patrick’s Day with is healthy eating, but since it falls during National Nutrition Month, I wanted to share some easy tweaks to improve upon traditional recipes.

So pass on the greasy pub fare next week, and honor the holiday with a meal of Irish-inspired foods that are a wee bit better for you.

Food Network’s Corned Beef and Cabbage Soup

Corned beef and cabbage was traditionally eaten in Ireland as an Easter lunch after the long meatless days of Lent because the preserved meat lasted through the winter. Now, we enjoy it annually on March 17, but here’s a soup recipe that’s simple enough to serve guilt-free year-round.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 3 stalks celery, quartered
  • 3 medium carrots, quartered
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Heaping ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 pound plum tomatoes, halved
  • 3 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 4 cups chopped green cabbage
  • ½ pound Yukon gold potatoes, chopped
  • ¾ cup quick-cooking barley
  • ¼ pound corned beef, cut into thin strips
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Pulse the onion, celery and carrots in a food processor until they are pea-sized pieces
  2. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion, celery and carrots and the allspice and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are slightly softened, about 5 minutes
  3. Add the tomatoes to the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer the tomatoes to the pot and add the beef broth, cabbage, potatoes, barley and 4 cups water; cover and bring to a boil
  4. Uncover, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the potatoes and barley are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in the corned beef and season with salt and pepper

Per serving: Calories 352; Fat 11 g (Saturated 6 g); Cholesterol 38 mg; Sodium 349 mg; Carbohydrate 50 g; Fiber 9 g; Protein 16 g

Eating Well’s Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread

Perfect for soaking up the day’s cocktails, Irish soda bread usually packs a hefty carb punch with little nutritional value. But this is a whole-wheat version adds fiber to help keep you sustained between meals.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ¼ cups light buttermilk

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flours, baking soda, and salt. Whisk together
  3. Make a well in the middle. Pour in about 2/3 cup of the buttermilk. With one hand, stir it into the dough in a circular motion. Add another 2/3 cup of the buttermilk. Stir again, until flour is incorporated. Repeat until buttermilk is gone, and dough is soft and sticky, but not too wet
  4. Turn dough out on to floured surface. Lightly knead dough a few times, until it’s a rounded loaf-like shape. Pat it down into a round, 2″-thick disc
  5. Transfer to a greased and floured baking sheet. With a serrated knife, cut a deep X across the bread. Prick each area a few times with the knife
  6. Bake 20 minutes on 450°F. Drop the heat to 400°F and bake an additional 30 to 35 minutes. Bread should appear finished and sound hollow when you knock on it
  7. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack

Mock McDonald’s Shamrock Shake

Some sobering news: A 16-ounce serving of the seasonal Shamrock Shake contains 660 calories, 19 grams of fat and an incredible 93 grams of sugar. Make your own version at home for a fraction of the fat — and to tone down the sugar, try swapping in some frozen Greek yogurt for the regular frozen yogurt.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups vanilla frozen yogurt
  • 1 ¼ cups skim milk
  • ¼ teaspoon mint extract
  • 8 drops green food coloring

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend on high speed until smooth
  2. Divide into two cups, and serve each with a straw

Lighter Super Bowl fare that’ll still satisfy big appetites

Source: Blisstree.com

Source: Blisstree.com

Sure the game’s great, but the other main attraction for many of us this Super Bowl Sunday will be the food (with the commercials coming in a close second, of course).

So bring on the wings, chips, dips and desserts – but hold the traditional recipes, which are riddled with calories, fat, sodium and sugar. Instead, try these modified versions, and score some points with party goers when you serve up a tasty spread that’s as healthy as it is hearty.

Baked Chicken Tenders

Cut boneless, skinless chicken breasts in to one inch strips. Soak strips in buttermilk, and then dredge them in a mixture that’s two parts Parmesan cheese to one part bread crumbs, pressing firmly to adhere. Lay the strips on a lightly-greased baking sheet, and bake at 475 degrees for 15 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear. Dip in assorted condiments, such as Frank’s Hot Sauce, honey mustard, BBQ sauce, ketchup or non-fat ranch dressing.

Quick-n-Easy Chili

Finely chop one yellow onion and cook in a frying pan with one tablespoon olive oil until translucent. Add one pound ground beef or turkey and cook until browned. Drain fat, and then add to a crock pot with one can each of kidney beans, black beans, corn, stewed tomatoes and tomato paste. Mix in one teaspoon each of chili powder and ground cumin, then sprinkle with salt, pepper and a dash of cinnamon (yes, cinnamon – trust me!) to taste. Cook until bubbly, and then serve topped with low-fat shredded cheese.

Sinless Spinach Dip

Finely dice two green onions plus a can of water chestnuts, and mix with one package frozen, chopped spinach that has been thawed. Add one package Knorr® Vegetable recipe mix, plus two cups of fat-free yogurt and one cup of ricotta cheese. Garnish with wheat pitas or toasted wheat bread.

Mindful Munchies

Air-popped popcorn makes a great snack that can be eaten by the handful with relatively little damage to the diet. Flavor with bold spices (equal parts chili powder, paprika, cayenne pepper and salt with do the trick) for a treat with some heat, or give it that sweet-and-salty kettle corn kick by misting popcorn with cooking spray and sprinkling sparingly with equal parts salt and sugar.

Dessert Do’s

Last but not least, even if you’ve mastered the main menu, everyone will be looking for something sweet as the grand finale while watching the game. Fresh fruit is always a healthy option, with a light drizzle of Hershey’s syrup for the sweet tooths of the bunch. Or try a healthier version of the traditional cakes, chocolate chip cookies and brownies by using more nutritious wheat flour, swapping in yogurt or applesauce for oil, opting for antioxidant-rich dark chocolate over milk chocolate, or even adding nuts and dried fruits to pack a more nutrient-dense punch.

What are your favorite Super Bowl Sunday treats and traditions? 

Recipe: Rustic roasted root vegetables

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The perfect accompaniment to those hearty winter meals? A heaping pile of roasted veggies.

This recipe is deceivingly easy, but gives some delicious flavor and dazzling color that will leave guests thinking you spent all day in the kitchen.

(Shhh, it’ll be our little secret…)

Rustic Roasted Root Vegetables

Ingredients: 

  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 2 parsnips
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 10 heirloom rainbow carrots
  • 2 beets
  • 2 potatoes
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon herbs de provence
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 400F, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper
  2. Peel and chop all vegetables into uniformly-sized chunks, about 1/2 inch each
  3. In a large bowl, mix vegetables with all herbs and seasonings
  4. Sprinkle mixture with Parmesan, drizzle with olive oil, and mix again
  5. Spread half of vegetables onto each baking sheet in a thin layer (to roast, not steam)
  6. Bake in oven for 50 minutes, or until slightly tender