Oct 312012
 

Happy Halloween!  If you live any where on the east coast and you’re like me, you may have completely forgotten it was Halloween.  Since Monday night I have been without power, hot water, internet, and cell phone service.  Last night, I had to watch a movie on a laptop shared with 4 other people (gasp!).  I have been surviving on peanut butter and tortilla chips.  I’m certain this is what it must have been liked during the dark ages.  Well, it will be an extra spooky Halloween tonight in the pitch black, wild-wild west village.  Hope yours is a little less dark than mine! 

I made this simple spooky snack about a week ago and almost forgot to post it today.  I can’t think of an easier festive treat than these apple mouthes.  All they are are apple wedges with a slit cut out, filled with melted salted caramel and decorated with peanut or yogurt raisin “teeth”.  It’s also healthier than your average halloween candy bar and a whole lot more creative.  Wish I had time for a longer blog post for you all but internet is sparce around these parts!

Most importantly, my sister is currently in labor with my first little pumpkin of a nephew.  Expect a baby boy themed blog post *hopefully* very soon!!!  Happy Halloween!!

Oct 212012
 

“Marissa, just so you know, this is the best smelling thing you’ve ever made”.  Actual words spoken by my boyfriend while I was making these pancakes today.  I’d like to think that I’ve made some pretty great-smelling things in my day, so this was a bold statement.  After apple picking last week, I’ve been struggling to settle on a way to use my beautiful apples, and finally settled on a healthy-ish apple pancake recipe.  So here they are: whole wheat apple-cinnamon pancakes with apple pecan topping…that taste just as good as they smell (or maybe even better).  


I have to admit I’ve never actually made pancakes from scratch before.  Usually “homemade” versions of things require a ton of extra time and effort, but that’s luckily not the case for pancakes.  The batter came together so quickly and allow for more freedom and variations than boxed mix.  The sauteed apple-pecan topping for these was key to really bring out the apple flavor and add a little crunch and nuttiness.  


Nutritional Highlights:  The phrase an apple a day keeps the doctor a way is not totally ridiculous.  Apples have phytonutrients that help regulate blood sugar and also are a great source of fiber.  These pancakes are made mostly with whole wheat flour to add fiber and healthy whole grains.  I used low fat buttermilk and skim milk to keep the fat low.  The nuts in the topping also add a little bit of protein and healthy fats.  Can’t say anything good about maple syrup though…except for how it tastes on the pancakes.  



whole wheat apple-cinnamon pancakes with apple-pecan topping

adapted from Ellie Krieger

Ingredients

  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup nonfat milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon honey (I used 1 tablespoon brown sugar instead because I was out of honey)
  • 2 medium apple, separated (one small dice, one thinly sliced)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat four
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (plus more for the topping)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
  • Pure maple syrup for topping

Directions

Preheat the oven to 250. Put the diced apple in a microwave-safe bowl and tightly cover with plastic wrap; microwave on high until softened, about 1.5-2 minutes.  Carefully uncover and put it in the freezer while you make the batter so it will cool.  
In a large bowl, whisk the flours, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, whisk the buttermilk, nonfat milk, eggs and honey, then slowly add the dry ingredients, stirring until just combined.  Finally, add the cooled apple chunks.  
For the topping: Heat one skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tspn butter or cooking spray and add the thinly sliced apple.  Sprinkle with cinnamon and let saute, stirring occasionally, while you’re working on the pancakes.  
For the pancakes: Heat a large nonstick griddle or skillet over medium heat. Put a little butter or cooking spray on the griddle.  Spoon 1/3 cup batter onto the griddle for each pancake. Cook until the tops are bubbly and the edges are dry, about 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook until golden brown, about 2 more minutes. Keep the pancakes warm on a baking sheet in the oven while making the rest.
Once the pancakes are done, hopefully the sauteed apples are soft and warm as well.  Toss in the toasted pecans.  
Place 2 pancakes on each plate. Top with the apple-pecan mixture and drizzle with maple syrup.

Oct 112012
 

Sorry I’m so late on posting this week!  I’ve been called out on my tardiness by at least two of my friends (you know who you are).  It’s been a crazy week at work with a big deadline tonight!  And when things get stressful, two things happen.  1) my blog and TV shows get neglected and 2) I’m craving comforting food to calm my stress.  So, I made this lighter version of Chicken Parm served over spaghetti squash instead of pasta. 

This recipe is not only healthy but also ridiculously easy to prepare.  All you do is make a mixture of breadcrumbs, spices, and parm, dip your chicken breasts in egg white then the bread crumbs, and bake them until they’re crispy and brown and look like this.    

Then, for the last 5 minutes of baking, you add a little sauce and low fat mozzarella cheese and put them under the broiler to get brown and melty.  I was a little worried that this baked, whole wheat, low fat version wasn’t going to live up to my comfort food cravings, but it was really amazing.  The crust was crispy and flavorful, and melted cheese makes everything better.  Fact. 

Nutritional Highlights:  Chicken parmesan can be a deadly food.  Not only is it fried in oil, it’s covered in high fat cheese and served over a huge plate of pasta.  This version uses whole wheat bread crumbs for fiber, low fat mozzarella, and is baked insead of fried.  By serving it over spaghetti squash instead of pasta, you save a ton of calories and carbs and still feel like you’re eating a big bowl of pasta.  Plus you can eat a lot more without feeling guilty.  And when it comes to chicken parm and “pasta”, more is more. 

Baked Chicken Parmesan with Spaghetti Squash
adapted from Skinny Taste

Ingredients:

  • 4 (8 oz) chicken breast halves, sliced in half to make 8  (I left mine whole)
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • Seasonings for breadcrumbs: 1/2 tspn each of any or all (I used all) of the following: garlic powder, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg white
  • 3/4 cup reduced fat or part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded or sliced
  • 1 cup marinara 
  • Olive oil cooking spray

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450°. Spray a large baking sheet lightly with spray. 

Combine breadcrumbs, spices, and parmesan cheese in a bowl.  If you have thick pieces of chicken, pound them out so they are 1/2 inch thickness throughout.  Beat eggwhite in a bowl.

Dip the chicken into the egg white, then dip and press into breadcrumb mixture (make sure both sides are covered). Place on oiled baking sheet and repeat with the remaining chicken.

Lightly spray a little more oil on top and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Turn chicken over, bake another 5 minutes (or until the chicken is done).

Remove from oven, spoon 1 tbsp sauce over each piece of chicken and top each with 1 1/2 tbsp of shredded mozzarella cheese. Switch oven to broil and broil for 1-2 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and starting to brown.

Serve over spaghetti squash or whole wheat pasta with lots of marinara.  
(*Note: I cook spaghetti squash in the microwave!  Just stab it many times with a knife so it doesn’t explode and put on a paper plate in the microwave for 10-15 minutes.  When you remove it, you should be able to easily cut it in half, remove the seeds, and use a fork to pull out the “spaghetti”)

Oct 012012
 

There’s a specialty restaurant or shop in New York for just about everything.  Some of my favorites: Meatball Shop–a restaurant that makes only meatballs (the best ever), S’mac–serving only mac and cheese varieties, and Waffle and Dinges–a truck that only makes waffles with toppings and always has a line down the street.  So I wasn’t surprised that a specialty popcorn store opened right down the street from me.  What I was surprised by, was that one little bag of popcorn was about $10.  So I decided to make my own cool popcorn, for a whole lot cheaper and at least a little bit healthier.  This Maple-Rosemary version is totally addictive and tastes like fall.  


This recipe also inspired me to pop popcorn in a pan for the first time and I was excited about how easy it was.  Once I popped the corn, all I did was make a quick caramel sauce using maple syrup, (cough… butter), salt, baking soda, and rosemary. I poured it over the popcorn and some roughly chopped pecans and baked in the oven so it would get really crispy and dry.  It’s the perfect sweet and savory mix, evidenced by it’s rapid disappearance.  

Nutritional highlights:  This certainly has some butter and sugar (via the maple syrup) in it.  But still, popcorn is a healthy snack, packed with fiber and helps keep you full.  My version of caramel popcorn is way better for you than the average, since it has a light layer rather than a thick coating.  I’m not saying you should eat a bucket of this (which I probably could have), but a few handfuls won’t hurt and will certainly make you happy. 


rosemary caramel popcorn

adapted from the Healthy Green Kitchen who adapted it from December 2010 issue of Living magazine

ingredients:

*2 tablespoons olive oil
*1/2 cup organic popcorn kernels
*1/2 stick organic unsalted butter (the original recipe calls for a whole stick)
*1/2 cup maple syrup
*1 1/2 tablespoon rosemary leaves
*3/4 teaspoon flaked sea salt (I used a smoked sea salt; start with 1/2 teaspoon and add more to taste)
*1/4 teaspoon baking soda

directions:

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
2. Place corn kernels and oil in a large pot over medium-high heat and cover. Once kernels begin to pop, shake pot frequently; when popping slows to about 3 seconds between pops, remove from heat; uncover. Transfer to a large bowl.
3. Cook butter and maple syrup in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until the mixture starts to turn amber (225 degrees F., if you have a candy thermometer).
4. Remove from heat. Stir in rosemary, salt and baking soda. Pour over popcorn mixture; toss to coat. Spread out onto baking sheet.
5. Bake about 45 minutes or until dried. Allow to cool and then break up into chunks before serving. This popcorn can be stored in an airtight container for about 3 days.