Oct 262014
 

My definition of “pizza night” has evolved quite a bit over the years. As a kid, it usually meant a joyous visit from the domino’s delivery guy. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I discovered the magic of making your own pizza. I started off simple, with margarita pizza, maybe a few mushrooms if I was feeling crazy. Over the years I’ve made some burnt pizzas, some soggy ones, and even set off a few smoke alarms (don’t worry, no one was harmed in the making of this blog post). But ladies and gentleman I think I have finally found my pizza groove. Since mastering the process, I’ve gotten a little fancier with the ingredients, and this may be my favorite creation yet.
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This recipe highlights two of my favorite fall ingredients–apples and brussel sprouts. The process to make this beautiful fall pizza is actually way easier than you may think. First you saute some shallots, garlics, and shredded brussel sprouts, seasoning them with some salt, pepper, and lemon juice. You top your partially cooked pizza crust with the shredded brussel sprouts, top with sliced apples, sprinkle with cheese, finish cooking, and finish with a drizzle of balsamic glaze and some toasted nuts.
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A few keys to success for making this pizza (and any pizza).
1. The crust. If you can, find a pizzeria that makes whole wheat pizza and will sell you the dough. In not, whole foods and other grocery stores usually sell it.
2. A hot oven. Like, really hot. Basically turn it up as high as it goes, or about 450-500 degrees. You want to let your pizza stone or baking pan get hot in the oven before putting the pizza on it. This will help ensure your crust is crispy on the outside but soft on the inside.
3. Don’t get sauce happy. Too much or too watery of a pizza sauce will result in soupy pizza. I’ve been loving pizza like this one that really don’t have a sauce at all, and just get their moisture from the toppings and some olive oil. Tomato sauce is fine too, but try to get one that is thick and not watery, don’t don’t use too much.
4. The toppings. Good quality cheese, veggies, and pretty much anything you can think of. Don’t get trapped in the margarita pizza box. This recipe has the perfect combination of sweet and savory, and a great mix of textures. Get creative and have fun!
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Nutrition highlights: While take out pizza can derail a healthy diet, making your own doesn’t have to. By using whole wheat crust, you get additional fiber, and by making it yourself you can be sure to roll it out very thin. This recipe also has a ton of nutrients and fiber that come from the brussel sprouts and apples. Making your own pizza also means you have control over the amount and type of cheeses you use. Instead of covering the whole pie, just sprinkle a little bit on–you still get the melty cheesy flavor without drowning in high fat cheese. When you make your own pizza, don’t forget to make a big salad to go with too, and stick to only two small slices and all the salad you want! I’m still working on that part…
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Apple & Brussel Sprout Pizza
makes 1 medium pizza (about 3 servings)
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What’s in it:
Whole wheat pizza dough (a ball about the size of a grapefruit)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups of shredded brussel sprouts
1-2 shallots, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large apple, thinly sliced
4-6 oz of cheese (I used 2 oz goat cheese and about 3 oz shredded mozzarella)
2 tablespoons roughly chopped pecans (or pistachios, hazelnuts, or walnuts)
Balsamic glaze, to drizzle (be sure to use balsamic glaze and not just vinegar, unless you reduce it first)

How to make it:
1. Make the brussel sprout mixture. In a large saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic and saute for about a minute until fragrant. Add the shredded brussel sprouts and lemon juice, and saute, stirring often for about 5 minutes or until softened and beginning to brown. Set brussel sprout mixture aside. *can be prepared in advance and refrigerated until ready to use
2. When ready to make the pizza, heat your oven to 450 or 500, and leave your pizza stone or baking sheet in the oven while it pre-heats. Be sure to let your pizza dough sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before starting.
3. On a piece of parchment paper, press and stretch your pizza dough until it’s at the desired thickness.
4. Once oven is preheated, remove your pizza stone from the oven. Sprinkle it with rough corn meal (or flour if you don’t have it) so the dough doesn’t stick to the stone. Transfer the pizza dough from the parchment onto the stone. Return to the oven and cook for about 3-5 minutes until the dough is beginning to brown.
5. Remove the stone from the oven and assemble your pizza. Spread evenly with the cooked shredded brussel sprouts, then a layer of apple slices. Sprinkle with the cheese and top with chopped pecans. Return to the oven and cook for another 4-5 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown.
6. Remove from the oven and let the pizza sit for a few minutes before eating. Drizzle with balsamic glaze, slice, and enjoy!
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Now THAT is how you pizza.
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Oct 142014
 

Some people may be getting a little tired of the pumpkin spice EVERYTHING that is popping up everywhere, but let me tell you, I am NOT one of them. It’s finally fall–arguably the best season of all–so bring on the scarves, booties, brussel sprouts, apples and pumpkins. In the fall nothing is safe from being pumpkinized, and that’s exactly how it should be. Because I love pumpkin spice as much as the next 20-something female in New York City, I made this amazing and super healthy Maple Pumpkin “Pie” Parfait with Greek Yogurt, Granola, and Chia Seeds.
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If I could eat a slice of pumpkin pie covered in whipped cream every day of October and November, I would. Unfortunately I was not blessed with a metabolism that allows me to do this, so I have to get creative. As a disclaimer, this is certainly less decadent than a traditional pumpkin pie and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend serving it to your guests on Thanksgiving, but I do think it’s the perfect every-day snack, breakfast, or dessert for you to enjoy all fall. It was also incredibly easy to prepare–simply whisk pumpkin puree with spices, vanilla, and a little maple syrup, and layer it with greek yogurt and your favorite toppings (like granola, nuts, dried cranberries, chia or toasted coconut).
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Nutritional Highlights: Let’s talk about pumpkin, pumpkin. I know we don’t usually think that the healthiest foods come out of cans, but this is an exception. Canned pumpkin puree is really great for you, and way way way less labor intensive than roasting and pureeing your own pumpkins (although if you do that, more power to ya). First of all, it only has about 90 calories in a whole cup (and for each serving of this recipe you’ll only be eating about 1/2 a cup). Additionally, it’s high in fiber (7g per cup) which means a lot of great things for your body–keeps you full, helps keep things moving (if you know what I mean), and may also reduce your risk for heart disease by controlling your cholesterol. It has a ton of vitamin A which is important for vision as well as normal cellular functioning in the whole body. In this recipe, we up the nutrition even more by adding greek yogurt, which is high in protein and calcium, and chia seeds which are high in fiber. This is truly a guilt-free dessert that will satisfy your sweet tooth, keep you full and energized, and help you cozy up to fall.
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Maple Pumpkin “Pie” Parfait with Greek Yogurt, Granola, and Chia Seeds
makes 4 servings
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What’s in it:
1 15-oz can of pure pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons good quality maple syrup (less if you are watching sugar intake)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups non-fat greek yogurt (recommend plain but if you need extra sweetness vanilla would work)
Toppings: Low fat granola, chia seeds, dried cranberries, chopped nuts, toasted coconut

How to make it:
1. In a bowl, whisk the first 6 ingredients. For a chilled parfait, refrigerate mixture for at least 30 minutes or keep your can of pumpkin in the fridge before you begin.
2. Prepare your toppings. You can use any combination you like, but I mixed about 1/2 cup plain low fat granola with 1-2 tablespoons each of chopped pecans, chia seeds, dried cranberries, and toasted coconut. You can also just choose a granola that already has some of those ingredients.
3. Prepare your parfaits: Start with a scoop of the pumpkin mixture (about 1/4 cup), top with a layer of greek yogurt (about 1/2 cup), sprinkle with some of your toppings, top with another 1/4 cup pumpkin puree, and additional toppings. Repeat for the remaining parfaits, or if you’re just making one serving at a time, store the components separately until you whip up your next one.
4. Serve chilled and enjoy!!
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Yum. Enough said.
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Oct 052014
 

Spaghetti squash is one of those foods that I literally did not know existed until a few years ago. Odds are that I probably had seen it, and thought, what is this hard round thing doing in the produce aisle, as it is certainly not edible. Well, let me tell you, that me from a few years ago was very wrong and she has many regrets, because spaghetti squash is one of coolest veggies out there. So I’m making up for lost time by using it as much as possible–as the “pad” in a healthier pad thai I made last year, as the base for baked chicken parm and now in this Swiss-Chard and Parmesan Baked Spaghetti Squash.
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Part of the beauty of the spaghetti squash is how deceptively easy it is to make. The quickest option is to stab it a bunch of times and microwave for about 10 minutes, or you can halve it and roast it (I like the flavor and texture a little better with this method). Once it’s cooked, you can just scrape out the flesh and it turns into thin, noodle-like pieces. One spaghetti squash gives you TONS of “spaghetti” and you can use it in any recipe instead of traditional noodles. For this recipe, while my squash was roasting, I sauteed some garlic, shallots, and rainbow swiss chard, added lemon, parmesan, and salt/pepper, mixed in the cooked squash and then baked it for a few more minutes in the squash with some
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Nutrition Highlights: If you’re anything like me, when the weather starts to get cooler, you start to crave warm and comforting dishes. This recipe is a great alternative to your typical cheesey-noodley casserole. Spaghetti squash only has 30 calories per cup, where as spaghetti has 220. I’m not saying it’s the same as pasta, but it cuts a HUGE amount of calories and might be worth trying once in a while. It’s also high in fiber and Vitamin C. Swiss chard is an amazing green to incorporate into your diet when you’re getting a little bored of Kale and Spinach. It has a ton of different vitamins, but most notably, Vitamin K, which is important to help you clot blood properly in your body. It’s also one of only a few non-animal sources of calcium in the diet. I used just a hint of parmesan cheese which can be omitted if you’re trying to keep the recipe vegan (although the cheesey crust on the top is crucial in my opinion!).
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Baked Spaghetti Squash with Swiss Chard & Parmesan
serves 4 as a side
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What’s in it:
Ingredients:
1 large spaghetti squash (cut in half lengthwise, seeds scooped out)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large shallots, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bunch chard (rinsed and cut or torn into pieces)
4 green onions (chopped)
1/2 cup good parmesan cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste
Juice from 1/2 lemon

How to make it:
1. Preheat the oven to 400. Spray or drizzle the cut side of the squash with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and lay the spaghetti squash halves, cut side down on a baking sheet. Roast for about 45 minutes to 1 hour or until flesh is easily pierced with a fork. (Alternatively, you can microwave it to cut the time to only about 10 minutes).
2. While squash is cooking, work on the rest of the filling. In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, add about tablespoon of olive oil. Add the shallots and saute for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sautee for another minute. Add the swiss chard (you may need to add it in batches so there’s enough space, but don’t worry, it cooks down very quickly).
4. Once swiss chard has wilted, squeeze in the juice from 1/2 a lemon and season with salt and pepper. Set mixture aside.
5. Once squash is done, use a fork to scrape out all of the “noodles”. Mix it into the swiss chard, and stir in half of the parmesan cheese. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
6. Turn the oven to broil. Fill the empty spaghetti squash halves with the mixture and top with the remaining parmesan cheese. Whole wheat bread crumbs and/or any type of nut would be delicious in the topping as well for more texture.
7. Broil for a few minutes until the parmesan has melted and the top is golden brown. Enjoy!

Notes: In my photos, I have some toasted squash seeds as part of the topping. I didn’t recommend this because they got pretty soggy and tough to eat in the left overs. But a different toasted nut (pine nuts or hazelnuts perhaps) would be amazing!

*Feel free to get creative with this and add any ingredients you like! To make this a main course, add some chicken, quinoa, or chickpeas to add a little protein. I added some sundried tomatoes in when I ate the leftovers and that was delicious too!

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This is the perfect dish to welcome back fall!
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