Aug 262012
 

It’s official…I’m 25! I officially feel like an adult, although I’ve been putting off admitting that for awhile. I had a wonderful weekend of festivities including lots of friends, delicious food, and probably a few too many drinks.  Last week, in preparation for the big 2-5, I made myself a little birthday treat.  This Roasted Banana and Brown Sugar Greek Fro Yo might have been the best frozen yogurt I have ever made, and the perfect way to celebrate my quarter century mark!



With only 4 ingredients, this frozen yogurt had a ton of banana flavor (I think roasting the bananas really helps with that).  It was incredibly creamy, and had just enough tartness from the greek yogurt.  I was a little sad that I made this on a night I had friends coming over, because that meant I had to share (something, as a youngest child, I’ve never really mastered).  



Nutritional Highlights:  Greek yogurt is SO hot right now, and for good reason.  Not only is it delicious, creamy, and tart, but it also has tons more protein than regular yogurt.  In this recipe I used 2% so it would be low fat but maintain some of it’s creaminess.  I used plenty of ripe bananas which are packed with potassium, fiber, and B6.  I used brown sugar, which might not be the healthiest thing ever but I still think it’s a lot less sugar than you’ll find at your local fro yo joint.  I topped it off (pun intended) with some healthy-ish toppings including dark chocolate chips, crushed graham crackers, and chopped nuts.  Definitely the healthiest dessert of my many desserts during this birthday weekend :)


Roasted Banana and Brown Sugar Greek Frozen Yogurt:
adapted from pinkbites
makes about 1 quart
Ingredients
  • 4 very ripe bananas
  • 3/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 32 oz plain Greek yogurt (2% is what I used but you can also use non-fat)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • Toppings of your choice (dark chocolate chips, walnuts, peanuts, graham crackers, etc)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line an 8×8 inch pan with foil. Peel the bananas and cut lengthwise. Place bananas in the pan and cover with the brown sugar. Bake it until the sugar melts and the banana is soft and roasted, about 15 minutes.
Reserve 1 banana and transfer the others along with the melted sugar to a large bowl. Mash the banans and then mix in the yogurt and the vanilla. Pour yogurt in the ice cream maker and freeze it according to the manufacture’s instructions. Add the reserved banana just before you turn off the ice cream maker, this will ensure you have some chunks of banana in the frozen yogurt.
Since my frozen yogurt usually isn’t firm enough when it first comes out of the ice cream maker, I put it in a container in the freezer for a few hours to let it harden.  It does get pretty solid in the freezer, so pull it out a little while before you want to eat it.  Serve  with your favorite toppings and enjoy!!
Aug 192012
 

Sorry for my lack of posts this week.  I wish I could say I had a good excuse but I’ve just been enjoying the end of the summer and a rare opportunity to be totally lazy.  Keeping with the lazy theme, I made this mediterranean vegetable salad that was super easy, flavorful, and light for the summer.  


There’s also another significant part of this post–my official change in my olive status.  I used to despise them, then gradually started tolerating them in small pieces on a pizza, and now here we are, my very first olive containing recipe.  I still don’t think I’ll be snacking on them any time soon, but they do add a savory richness to this salad that gives it an extra punch.  



Nutritional highlights:  This recipe is basically all vegetables with a light olive oil based dressing.  Chickpeas add a little protein and fiber and make this a filling salad which would be a perfect side to any meal or a complete lunch (maybe throw in a little low fat feta too).  This recipe is completely vegan and gluten free as well.



Mediterranean Eggplant Salad
adapted (quite a bit) from Gourmet

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pound eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3/4 pound zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 red or yellow bell peppers
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 pound cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/3 cup Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, pitted and halved
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint (I omitted because I don’t like mint)
  • optional: crumbled low fat feta cheese

Roast eggplant and zucchini:
Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 425°F.
Toss eggplant, peppers, and zucchini with 3 tablespoons oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl, cumin and coriander then spread in large shallow (1-inch-deep) baking pans. Roast vegetables in oven, stirring occasionally and switching position of pans halfway through baking, until vegetables are golden brown and tender, 20 to 25 minutes total. Allow vegetables to cool.


Make dressing and assemble salad:
Whisk together lemon juice, garlic, sugar, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 3 tablespoons oil in a large bowl. Add roasted vegetables, and remaining ingredients to bowl with dressing and toss until combined well. Serve along side chicken or fish or as a vegetarian main.  

Aug 102012
 

Whether you believe it or not, I love taking shortcuts in the kitchen whenever possible.  I buy pre-steamed lentils, pre-roasted beets, and even pre-grilled chicken sometimes.  Well today I took the craziest shortcut yet…and you won’t believe where it happened–the microwave.  Yep, this sandwich was almost entirely microwave made, and it was awesome.  

So the inspiration behind the microwave meal–I’ve started to get a little tired of my same daily yogurt/fruit breakfast and have been craving eggs.  The problem is that an egg sandwich at most restaurants is not so healthy, and you have no idea what really went into it.  So I figured I’d see how fast I can throw together a breakfast sandwich in the morning, and the answer is 5 minutes!  All you do is use a microwave safe bowl (as close to the size of your english muffin/sandwich flat as possible) and fill it with 3 egg whites, salt, pepper, and your choice of vegetables.  Microwave for 2 minutes and you have a perfectly cooked omlette with no added fat.  Place a slice of lowfat cheese on top and return to the microwave for another 20 seconds, throw it onto your bread, and there you have it.  A perfect, healthy hot breakfast any time.  Honestly, I was shocked how perfectly cooked and tasty this was.



Nutritional highlights: It’s tough to find a healthy breakfast outside of your own home.  Even if you find one that’s relatively low in calories like DD’s flatbread sandwich, you have no clue what’s actually in it (and this one has a massive paragraph worth of ingredients).  My sandwich just has a few natural, healthy ingredients.  The microwave method is not only fast, but it also allows you to cook the eggs with no added fat at all.  By using egg whites, plenty of veggies, whole grain bread, and low fat cheese, I’ve created a well rounded, healthy breakfast in almost no time.  



5 Minute Eggwhite and Vegetable Flatbread Sandwich

Ingredients:

  • 3 egg whites
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • raw or cooked vegetables that you like, chopped (I used leftover cooked veggies since I like softer veggies in my eggs)
  • 1 slice of low fat cheese (or shredded cheese)
  • 1 whole grain english muffin, sandwich thin, or bread




In a small microwave safe bowl, crack 3 egg whites.  Whisk with a fork.  Drop in your chopped veggies (I used mushrooms, zucchini, and tomato), season with salt and pepper, and stir.  Put in the microwave for 2 minutes or until the eggs are cooked through.  Top with cheese and return to the microwave for another 20 seconds until the cheese is melted.  Remove eggs and place onto your bread (toasted or not is fine).  Enjoy your healthy fastest breakfast ever and get your tush to work!!

Aug 042012
 

What do you think the top 5 sources of calories are for Americans?  Drum roll please:
     1. Grain based desserts (cookies, cakes, etc)
     2. Yeast breads
     3.  Chicken and chicken mixed dishes
     4.  Soda/energy/sports drinks
     5.  Pizza
And number 6, just for fun…Alcohol.  Doesn’t look so good for America does it?  Well,  I wanted to make a recipe that involved the only truly healthy item on this list–chicken.  Everyone is always looking for a new simple chicken recipe, and this one is incredibly simple, flavorful, and perfect for a summer bar-b-que.  



The marinade is sort of a twist on a margarita (without the tequila).  It uses agave nectar for sweetness, plenty of lime juice and zest, and soy sauce for a savory flavor.  It’s delicious with or without the cherry salsa.





Nutritional Highlights:  As you read above, chicken is one of the most popular foods in America.  And while some of our choices are clearly not the best, this is one we got right…as long as it’s not deep fried or drowning is sauce.  Chicken breast is a great lean source of protein, B vitamins, and selenium.  This recipe uses a marinade to add tons of flavor and then it is simply grilled, not adding too much fat or calories.  A fresh fruit salsa is a great way to fancy up your grilled chicken without adding anything unhealthy.  This one has cherries that are known for having tons of antioxidants.  This is a light, fresh, summer dish and is totally guilt free. 





Agave-Lime Grille Chicken with Fresh Cherry Salsa Ingredients for the chicken:

  • 1.5 – 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsp lime zest
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder or 1 clove finely minced garlic
  • 1/8 – 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

Directions:

If chicken isn’t an even thickness (which it rarely is) then place chicken in a large ziploc bag or between two pieces of saran wrap and pound chicken with the flat side of a meat mallet to an even thickness.  This will help the chicken cook evenly and not be over or under cooked in any part.


In a bowl whisk together remaining ingredients. Pour remaining mixture over the chicken (in a dish or ziplock bag) and allow to marinate at least 4 hours in the refrigerator. 


Preheat grill to medium high heat. Once preheated, brush grill lightly with olive oil. Place chicken on grill and cook (with lid closed) 5-8 minutes per side until juices run clear (depending on thickness).  If you’re like me and don’t have an outdoor grill, your grill pan will work almost as well. 


For the Salsa (can be done well in advance):

  • 1 cup pitted cherries, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • juice of one lime
  • salt to taste
Mix above ingredients and set aside.  Serve over or along side the chicken for extra summer flavor.
Boy am I excited for these leftovers….