Recipes for a healthier St. Patrick’s Day



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.


  • 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


  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.


  • 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


  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.


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


  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



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


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


  • 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


  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

Last-minute Thanksgiving recipe: Rachael Ray’s Stuffin’ Muffins

Stuffing is a surefire crowd-pleaser, so if you want a quick and ‘delish’ side dish to round out the meal (or, if you’re anything like my family and there’s no such thing as too much stuffing on Thanksgiving), look no further.

Source: FitSugar

Source: FitSugar

These perfectly-portioned treats are the best of both worlds: crisp on the outside and steamy-soft inside.

A few tips: Use a whole wheat stuffing mix for more fiber, and if you’re having trouble getting the muffins to hold together, try some adding some Parmesan cheese or an egg to bind the ingredients, enhance flavor and add moisture.

Rachael Ray’s Apple and Onion Stuffin’ Muffins


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 apples, quartered and chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons poultry seasoning
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 8 cups cubed stuffing mix
  • 2 to 3 cups chicken stock


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Over medium heat, add extra-virgin olive oil and 4 tablespoons butter to a large skillet. When butter melts, add bay leaf and vegetables. Sprinkle the vegetables and apples with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning.
  3. Cook 5-6 minutes or until vegetables and apples begin to soften, then add parsley and stuffing cubes to the pan and combine. Moisten the stuffing with chicken broth until all of the bread is soft but not wet.
  4. Butter 12 muffin cups liberally with remaining butter.
  5. Using an ice cream scoop, fill and mound up the stuffing in muffin tins. (Keep an eye out for the bay leaf, and remove it when you come upon it as you scoop the stuffing).
  6. Bake until set and crisp on top, 10-15 minutes. Remove stuffin’ muffins to a platter, and serve warm.

For more of Rachael’s recipes, visit

Spice up your Thanksgiving spread with sweet potatoes

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes; The Neelys

Source: Food Network

Can we set the record straight on the sweet potato once and for all?

Sure, it’s been pegged as marshmallows’ main partner in crime in that one sickeningly-sweet, gooey mess of a side dish — but cooked differently, the rustic root is low in calories, loaded with nutrients and can be quite an elegant addition to your Thanksgiving feast.

And it offers a host of health benefits: Not only is the sweet potato rich in beta-carotene, but it also provides a hearty dose of calcium, folate, fiber, potassium and vitamins A and C.

It’s no wonder the versatile vegetable is rated as one of the most nutritious superfoods by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, so why not complement your Turkey Day meal with one of these recipes from popular Food Network personalities?

Alton Brown’s Chipotle Smashed Sweet Potatoes


  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 chipotle chile pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon adobo sauce, from the pepper can


  • Put sweet potatoes in a steamer basket, and place it a large pot of simmering water that is one inch from the bottom of the basket
  • Cover and steam over medium-high heat for 20-25 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are fork-tender
  • Remove the steamer basket, pour the water out of the pot, and dump the sweet potatoes into the pot
  • Add the butter and salt, and mash with a potato masher, adding the chile and sauce while continuing to mash; serve immediately

Ellie Krieger’s Sweet Potato-Pecan Casserole


  • Cooking spray
  • 3 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 5 medium), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped pecans


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  • Mist an eight-inch square baking dish with cooking spray
  • Bring a few inches of water to a boil in a pot with a large steamer basket in place; steam until tender (about 20 to 25 minutes)
  • Transfer potatoes to a bowl and let cool slightly; add honey, egg, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, the nutmeg, ginger and 1/2 teaspoon salt; whip with an electric mixer until smooth
  • Spread the sweet potato mixture in the prepared baking dish
  • Mix brown sugar, pecans and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a bowl; sprinkle over potato mixture
  • Bake until hot and beginning to brown around the edges, about 40 to 45 minutes

Paula Deen’s Sweet Potato Biscuits


  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 heaping tablespoons sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup mashed cooked sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) softened butter
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons milk (depending on the moisture of the potatoes)


  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees
  • Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt; in a separate, large bowl, mix sweet potatoes and butter
  • Add flour mixture to potato mixture, and mix to make a soft dough; add milk a tablespoon at a time to mixture and continue to cut in
  • Turn dough out onto a floured board, and toss lightly until outside of dough looks smooth
  • Roll dough out to 1/2-inch thickness, and cut with a biscuit cutter
  • Place biscuits on a greased pan and coat tops with melted butter; bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown

The lighter side of spring meals: Popovers

At around 100 calories each, popovers are a great alternative to heavy biscuits in spring meals

At around 100 calories each, popovers are a great alternative to heavy biscuits in spring meals.
Photo credit: Sunset Magazine

Ditch heavy biscuits in favor of delightfully fluffy puffs this spring; you’ll not only save calories, but also impress holiday guests with this simple – yet elegant – recipe.

Not yet a popover pro? Here are a few tips for foolproof poufs, thanks to Sunset magazine:

  • Beat the batter just until smooth; over-beating can break up the egg’s protein structure
  • To allow for expansion, pour batter into every other cup if your muffin tins have less than one inch between cups
  • Fill cups 3/4 to almost full, so batter can pop up over the edges
  • Puncture popovers once they have puffed and the shell has set to release the steam before returning them to the oven to firm up
  • Oven temperature is critical – hot enough to allow puffs to expand quickly, but not so hot that they set before ballooning

Popovers (Serves 6)


  • 1 cup fat-free milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 egg whites


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F
  2. Generously coat six large metal or glass muffin molds with cooking spray before heating them in the oven for two minutes
  3. In a large bowl, add the milk, flour, salt and egg whites; using an electric mixer, beat until smooth
  4. Fill the heated muffin molds 2/3 full, and bake in the top part of the oven until golden brown and puffy, about 30 minutes
  5. Serve immediately

Note: Popovers pair well with both savory and sweet fillings: For a breakfast treat, split them open and spoon in scrambled eggs; top with cheese and salsa. And for a decadent dessert, slit popover tops open and fill with a scoop of  low-fat ice cream; top with fresh fruit.


Serving size: 1 popover

  • Calories 101
  • Cholesterol 1 mg
  • Protein 6 g
  • Sodium 152 mg
  • Carbohydrate 18 g
  • Fiber 0.5 g
  • Total fat trace
  • Potassium 98 mg
  • Saturated fat trace
  • Calcium 42 mg
  • Monounsaturated fat trace

For more nutritious takes on traditional recipes, go to the Mayo Clinic’s website here.