Oct 302013
 

Happy Halloween! And I must say, I have a lot to be happy about this year:
1. This time last year was Hurricane Sandy and things got pretty dark (literally). And cold. This year it’s not!
2. My sister Jenna will be getting married in exactly 10 days!
3. On Halloween last year, my other sister Brea brought my nephew Owen into the world. Tomorrow he will be the coolest 1 year old ever!
4. And finally, these dark chocolate-peanut butter-banana-truffles that look like spiders. Nuff said.
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These truffles have a whopping 5 ingredients, were quick to make, and were SO tasty. Trying a “healthy” truffle recipe made me a little nervous, because usually when you’re eating truffles, healthy isn’t exactly the goal. But these were actually AMAZING. Not surprising, since the idea came from my friend Erica Sweet Tooth. I made mine into little spiders by adding pretzel legs and jelly bean eyes, but the possibilities are endless for these. Maybe orange white chocolate to make pumpkins? Or just make them without any Halloween costume and they’re still just awesome and healthy truffles. Highly recommended!!!
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Nutritional Highlights: The secret ingredient in these is high fiber cereal. Who woulda thought! I used natural peanut butter which is high in protein and healthy fat, and banana for natural sugars and vitamins. Dark chocolate has some antioxidant benefits, but mostly it’s just delicious and a little bit won’t hurt anyone. This is a perfectly portioned, sweet/salty dessert that is way better for you than any other Halloween candy out there.
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Healthy Dark Chocolate-Peanut Butter-Banana Truffles
adapted from Erica Sweet Tooth
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What’s in them:
1 cup fiber cereal, finely ground (I used Go Lean but Fiber One, Nature’s Path Flax Plus Flakes, or another favorite are fine)
3/4 cup creamy natural peanut butter
1 ripe banana
Optional: 1-2 tablespoons agave or honey (if you’re using unsweetened, natural peanut butter you may want to add a little but I left it out and they were still delicious)
6 oz dark chocolate
Decorations: for the spiders I used thin broken pretzels and halved jelly beans

How to make them:
In a food processor, grind the cereal into fine crumbs. Add the agave/honey, peanut butter, and banana and pulse for a few times until the dough comes together.
Roll the dough into balls and place them on a wax-paper lined cookie sheet. Transfer to the fridge for about an hour.
Melt chocolate in a double boiler (for me this was a glass bowl on top of a sauce pan with simmering water) and submerge each truffle in the chocolate, using a spoon to scoop out each truffle and tapping the spoon side of the dish to get off any excess chocolate. Transfer dipped truffles to a wax-paper lined cookie sheet and decorate by sticking in the pretzel legs and pressing on the jelly bean eyes.
Store in the fridge to allow chocolate to set completely and serve within a few days for best results. Enjoy and Boo!
And since I think you deserve another treat, here’s a shoutout to my nephew Owen who turns 1 tomorrow. Can’t believe how big this little pumpkin is now!!
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And since I think you deserve another treat, here’s a shoutout to my nephew Owen who turns 1 tomorrow. Can’t believe how big this little pumpkin is now!!
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Oct 232013
 

I never realized how many things you can make “fries” out of.  Obviously I’ve tried potatoes, sweet potatoes (both baked of course), and even zucchini.  Lately I’ve even seen some really crazy ones at restaurants like avocado, watermelon, and polenta fries.  I wasn’t quite daring enough to try one of those, so I decided to go with eggplant.  These non-fried, non-potato fries were probably my favorite yet, and are the perfect healthy(ish) snack, side dish, or game day munchie.  Disclaimer: you do not actually have to watch the game to enjoy these.
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Nutritional Highlights:  Compared to regular fries, we’re already winning big by swapping out the starchy, high-cal potatoes for low cal eggplant.  Plus, we’re not frying them so there goes a lot of the fat.  These do have a little panko-parmesan-herb coating that adds a few of those calories back in, but it’s well worth it.  They’re a pretty low guilt  snack, that is if you can resist eating the whole tray.  Best of luck to you, my friend.
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Baked Eggplant Fries
adapted from Closet Cooking
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What’s in it:
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/4 inch thick ‘fries’ (*removing the skin is optional, it can be slightly bitter but I like it)
1 egg + 1 egg white, lightly beaten
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs (whole wheat if possible)
1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano (parmesan), grated
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon oregano
salt and pepper to taste
optional: red pepper flakes, cuz I put them in almost everything
marinara sauce for dipping

How to make it:
1. Preheat oven to 425 and spray a baking sheet with olive oil spray.
2. Set up an assembly line with the egg in one shallow dish and the remaining ingredients (panko-parm-herb mixture) in another.
3. Dip the eggplant fries in the egg and then into the panko-parmesan mixture.
4. Place the eggplant slices on the baking sheet and spray the tops with olive oil spray.
5. Bake until golden brown, about 10-12 minutes, flipping halfway through.
6. Serve with marinara dip and enjoy!
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And a last comment about this recipe…my boyfriend, who adamantly hates eggplant, tried these not knowing the main ingredient and LOVED them.  Score: Eggplant 1, Jeff 0.
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Oct 132013
 

Has anyone else noticed a recent flood of facebook and instagram photos of friends at the apple orchard?  Maybe with a nice “low-fi” filter, or an artistic close-up of an apple hanging from the branch? It’s OK, I’m guilty of it too.  Since everyones homes are now overflowing with these amazing freshly picked apples, I thought I’d share a creative new way to use them.  I’m pretty much obsessed with this breakfast and sad that it’s already gone…no idea how that happened (insert guilty face here).  Luckily there are more apples where that came from, so a second batch, hopefully with proper rationing this time, is definitely in my future.
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Nutritional Highlights:  Not only is this easy to make (mix everything and throw it in the oven), it’s also incredibly healthy.  Apples are in their peak season right now, which also means they are at their peak nutrient potential.  Apples are high in fiber, vitamin C, and polyphenols (a powerful antioxidant).  In addition, this recipe has fiber packed oats and chia seeds that will keep you full until lunch time.  This recipe does not have a ton of added sugar like some oatmeal recipes do, and the sweetness comes only from the apples, dried fruit, and a tiny bit of maple syrup.  Finally, pecans add a little bit of protein, healthy fat, and crunch.
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Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal
makes 6 servings
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What’s in it:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoon Chia Seeds
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cups dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, or a mixutre)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups diced apple (probably about 2-3 apples)
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk (skim milk works too)
  • 1 whole egg, 2 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons mpale syrup

How to make it:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 and spray an 8×8 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the first 8 ingredients (through the apple).
  3. In another bowl, whisk the remaining wet ingredients (milk, egg, egg white, vanilla, apple sauce, and maple syrup). Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture, add the apples, and mix until combined
  4. Pour the mixture into your prepared baking pan and bake for about 50 minutes until golden brown.
  5. Slice into 6 portions and enjoy hot or cold!

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I packed this up in tupperware all week and reheated it in the microwave for a minute at work.  Seriously the perfect fall breakfast! For a minute you might even forget that you’re at work on Monday morning as you savor this apple cinnamon deliciousness.  But then you’ll remember.  Sorry.
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Oct 082013
 

Pad Thai. Potentially one of the most craveable dishes in existence. But, as craveable as it is, most restaurant versions run at about 1000 calories. Is a heaping pile of noodles really worth that? Wouldn’t it be cool if you could majorly cut the calories just by swapping one ingredient? Oh yeah, I did that.
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This isn’t my first trip down spaghetti squash lane. I use it repeatedly as a noodle sub, but this has to be my favorite creation yet. Although this recipe did take a bit of time to put together due to all the components, it was well worth it. Plus, I cut out a lot of time (and about $20 in random ingredient I’ll never use again) by buying a premade sauce rather than going homemade. In addition to the noodle swap, I also loaded my version with vegetables and tofu and took it easy on the sauce. There was still all the flavor and texture I look for in pad thai and I didn’t miss the noodles at all. OK maybe a little, but definitely worth it for the extra gym time I saved.
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Nutritional Highlights: 1 serving of rice noodles (what you typically find in pad thai) has 190 calories, and let’s be honest, you’re probably eating 2 servings so let’s call that 380. Two cups of spaghetti squash is about 60 calories. I’m no math expert, but that’s a pretty big difference. You can add any vegetables and lean protein you’d like (tofu, chicken, or shrimp are great), but I kept my version veg. [Insert my typical cutting back on animal products rant here.]
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Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai with Tofu and Vegetables
makes 4 servings
adapted from Shared Appetite
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What’s in it:
1 medium-sized spaghetti squash (about 3-4 pounds)
5 tablespoons vegetable oil, I used half peanut half canola
Kosher salt and Freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs (optional, I omitted this to keep mine vegan)
1 (15-ounce) package firm or extra firm tofu, water pressed out and diced*
1 red onion, thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 cups carrots, cut into matchsticks
2 cups bean sprouts
6 scallions, sliced
Other optional veggies: I added a cup of sliced white mushrooms, but broccoli, peapods, or any others you like would work as well
4 tablespoons Pad Thai sauce, more to taste**
1/3 cup peanuts, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 lime, cut into wedges
*you could alternatively use chicken or shrimp if you’re not a tofu fan
**I used a jarred pad thai sauce to save some time but check out the original recipe link above to see the full sauce recipe if you want to go homemade

How to make it:

1. Cook the spaghetti squash: Preheat your oven to 375 F. Cut the spaghetti squash in half with a large, sharp knife. Remove seeds and stringy guts, and brush the cut sides of the squash with 1 tablespoon of oil. Season with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place spaghetti squash, cut side down, on a baking sheet and roast until tender and easily pierced with a knife, about 45-60 minutes. While the squash is cooking, you can prep all your other ingredients.

To test if your squash is done, scrap the flesh with a fork. If the strands come off easily, it’s done. Let the cooked spaghetti squash cool for about 5 minutes, then scrape all the flesh into a beautiful pile of spaghetti strands. Set aside.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil (I did 1T peanut oil 1T canola oil) in a wok or large skillet over high/medium-high heat. Once oil is nice and hot, add tofu and cook, stirring frequently, for 5-7 minutes until tofu is lightly browned on all sides. Remove tofu and set aside.

3. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan. Once hot, add red onions and cook for 1 minute. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly to avoid burning. Add carrots, bean sprouts, and scallions (and any other veggies) to pan and cook for about 3 minutes.

3.5 (If using eggs, the original recipe says this: Move the mixture to one side of the pan, crack the eggs and add them to the other side. Scramble the egg with a wooden spoon and cook until just set, about 30 seconds. Combine into the Pad Thai mixture.)

4. Return the cooked tofu to the pan with 4 tablespoons of the Pad Thai sauce and stir.

5. Add cooked spaghetti squash and gently toss everything together and cook for 1-2 minutes. Taste and if Pad Thai needs more flavor, stir in a little extra sauce.

6. Serve Pad Thai immediately with lime wedges, chopped cilantro and chopped peanuts. Enjoy!

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I reiterate, make this.
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Oct 012013
 

Summer seems to be taking one last stand in NYC this week, and with highs in the 80’s it’s going out with a bang. So I thought it was a great opportunity to get in one last cold sweet treat. But let’s be honest here…it doesn’t have to be warm for me to want a cold sweet treat (the fro yo place around the corner that knows me by name and topping preferences can verify this). But why spend $5 on frozen yogurt when you can make your own adorable, tasty, and natural pops.
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Money isn’t the only thing you’ll save on these. Instead of the processed who knows what that goes into your frozen yogurt, this has only a few (relatively) natural and (pretty) healthy components. I can count the ingredients in these babies (literal/figurative) on one hand- soy milk, nutella, bananas, dark chocolate. Hey, I even have a thumb to spare.
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Nutritional Highlights: These are gluten free and almostttt vegan (my chocolate-hazelnut spread has some skim milk in it, darn). The main component is banana, followed by soy milk (or milk of your choice), with just a hint of nutella and a thin chocolate layer. Plus, if you make these in small cups like I did they are a perfectly acceptable dessert portion (which I cannot say when I am left to my own devices at a do it yourself fro yo joint). As far as desserts go, these are a pretty good choice!
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Banana Nutella Popsicles
number varies based on the size of your cups/popsicle molds
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What’s in it:
3 ripe bananas (2 for the pops, 1 for the slices on top)
1/3 cup nutella or chocolate-hazelnut spread
2/3 cup vanilla soy milk
optional: 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips, melted

How to make it:
1. Arrange 6-8 plastic dixie cups on a plate or tray (make sure it’s one that will fit into your freezer). Slice one of the bananas into 1/2 inch slices and place one in the bottom of each cup. Put in the freezer while you make the pop mix.
2. In a blender, combine the remaining bananas, nutella and soy milk. Blend until smooth.
3. Pour mixture into the dixie cups and press a popsicle stick into each (it will stand upright if you push it partially into the banana at the bottom). Return to the freezer for about an hour so it begins to freeze.
4. Melt the dark chocolate chips in the microwave. Spoon a thin layer of melted chocolate onto each popsicle. Return to the freezer until pops are completely frozen. Enjoy!
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