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Jan 272012
 
Do you know what day of the year American’s consume the most calories? Thanksgiving? Nope. Christmas? Ho ho NO.  It’s actually Super Bowl Sunday.  The holiday celebrating beer, junk food, and big dudes tackling each other.  These baked sweet potato skins are a great addition to your junk food spread and can even be considered semi healthy! 

Potato skins really aren’t that hard to make at home (although they do require a little bit of time).  You start by halving the potatoes and baking.  You then scoop out most of the potato, leaving the skins with just a little bit of the potato.  Then you bake each side a little bit more so they get slightly crisp.  Fill with whatever toppings you like and enjoy!  This time I used gruyere and pancetta to make them a lil fancy, but next time I might try pepper jack and guacamole, or low-fat cheddar and turkey bacon.  The possibilities are endless! 


Nutritional Highlights: When compared to the greasy chicken wings and cheesy pizza, these potato skins don’t look so bad.  You get fiber, vitamins, and carbs that will help fill you up so you don’t overdo it on the other junk.  The gruyere and pancetta are definitely not the healthiest, but hey, it’s the superbowl.  And like I said before, you can make these even healthier by choosing low fat cheese, veggie toppings, or turkey bacon.




Sweet Potato Skins with Gruyere and Pancetta
makes 10 skins
5 small sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 ounces gruyere, grated (or sub low fat cheddar, mozzarella, any cheese you like!)
4 slices of pancetta, chopped and sauteed until slightly crisp (or sub crumbled turkey bacon)
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup plain greek yogurt or low-fat sour cream
sea salt
Preheat oven to 400.
Cut sweet potatoes in half lengthwise and bake cut side up for 30-40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Once cool enough to handle, scoop out sweet potato flesh, leaving just a little bit in the skin. Discard the flesh (or better, save for mashed sweet potatoes or sweet potato falafel).
Flip skins over so skin side is up. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt, then bake for 10 minutes. Flip, brush insides with olive oil, and bake for 10 more minutes.
Remove skins and place a sprinkling of cheese in each, topping with the crisp pancetta. Place back in the oven for 2-3 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Remove and top with green onions and greek yogurt or sour cream.  Enjoy!
Nov 102011
 

In the fall I find myself just trying to dream up new ways to use sweet potatoes.  Last year I made sweet potato falafel, fries, and chips.  I really just can’t get enough.  I’ve found that my favorite preparations are ones that combine some heat with the natural sweetness of the potatoes–no brown sugar and marshmallows here.  This is a filling, healthy, veggie burger recipe perfect for a sweet potato lover like me!!





Nutritional Highlights: Take a look at the ingredients we have in here: sweet potato, black bean, oats, quinoa.  Pretty powerful cast don’t you think?  We have plenty of protein from the quinoa and black beans.  Tons of fiber from the oats and black beans.  Plus beta carotene from the sweet potatoes.  These burgers are totally vegan (no animal products used).  This also means that they can be a little crumbly so be sure to pack the mixture tightly when forming the burgers.  These are spicy, sweet, and filling, perfect topped with some healthy fat from an avocado.  Also, they’re gluten free!  Promise they’re not flavor-free though!





Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers 
Adapted from edible perspective
yields 8 burgers – 
  • 15oz black beans, drained + rinsed
  • 3c cubed sweet tater, cooked + skin on [~1.5lbs]
  • 1/2c frozen or fresh corn
  • 2/3c finely chopped onion [1/2 medium onion]
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/2c cooked quinoa
  • 6T rolled oats, partially ground
  • 2T sunflower seeds
  • 1/2t salt
  • black pepper
  • 1t cumin
  • 1t oregano
  • 1/4t coriander
  • 1t chili powder
  • 1/4t cayenne [optional]
  • 1T olive oil
  1. Preheat your oven to 375* once you finish cooking the quinoa + potato.
  2. Mash half of the beans in a bowl until paste-like.
  3. Add in the rest of the beans and give a very light stir/mash to combine.
  4. In a large bowl, mash the sweet tater.  Each cube should be mashed, but you don’t want it creamy.
  5. Stir in the salt, pepper, oregano, coriander, chili powder, cayenne [if using] and olive oil, until combined.
  6. Mix in the onion, garlic, corn, black beans, quinoa, sunflower seeds, and ground oats, until just combined.
  7. Taste, and adjust seasonings to your liking.
  8. Form into balls, between your hands and flatten into 1/2”-3/4” thick patties.  This should make 8 medium/large patties.
  9. Place on a pan lined with parchment paper [or lightly greased pan] and bake on each side for 15min, flipping once, half-way through.
  10. Remove from oven + serve! 
*If you want to refrigerate or freeze them, let fully cool on a cooling rack.  Place in a sealed container for the fridge, or wrap in saran, then foil, then in a bag for the freezer.  If reheating a frozen burger, let it thaw completely.  Re-heat in a greased pan, over medium heat for ~3-5min per side, until hot throughout.
*To make the ground oats – Pulse your blender on + off, until you have the consistency about half way to flour.
*Instead of ground oats, feel free to sub – millet flour, oat flour, quinoa flour, whole wheat flour, etc.


Sep 232014
 

Much to my dismay, football season has, in fact, returned. Although I’m not the biggest fan of these 3 hour games inhibiting my ability to do more important work (like catch up on Scandal and other Shonda Rhimes dramas), football does have one redeeming quality–the snacks. While delicious, football snacks are not traditionally the healthiest. I’ve made a few healthier but still worthy options in the past like these buffalo quiona bites or these baked sweet potato skins. Here’s one more to add to the list…ladies and gentlemen, meet the Greek Nacho.
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Unlike the game of football, there aren’t a whole lot of rules to greek nachos. Basically start with a base of whole wheat pita chips (or better yet, bake them yourself), and top with any ingredient that you would consider putting in a greek salad. Drizzle with tzaziki and enjoy!
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Nutritional Highlights: These beat your everyday nachos in many ways. First, instead of a fried corn chip as the base, this recipe uses whole wheat, baked pita chips. Fiber from the whole wheat part, and less fat from the baked part. While in your traditional nachos, the majority of the toppings are high fat, high sodium, processed ingredients like ground meat, salsa, various cheese products, and sour cream, this recipe uses mostly veggies as toppings (tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, red onion) and just a bit of cheese. You get the creaminess you are looking for from the tzaziki, but the base is non-fat yogurt, adding protein and calcium to the dish. So give your pizza delivery man a break this Sunday and whip these up!
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Greek Nachos
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What’s in it:
4 whole wheat pitas, cut into 8 triangles each (alternately you can use pre-made pita chips)
Salt and chili powder to taste
1/4 cup diced tomato
1/4 cup diced cucumber
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup chopped bell pepper (I like using yellow or orange to add another color!)
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup tzaziki sauce (store bought or follow this recipe)
Optional additional toppings: chickpeas, chopped black kalamata olives

How to make it:
1. If making your own, first bake your pita chips. Preheat oven to 400. Spread pita triangles on a baking sheet. Spray with olive oil spray and sprinkle with salt and chili powder. Flip triangles and repeat. Bake until the chips are golden brown and crispy, about 12-14 minutes.
2. While pita chips are baking, prepare your toppings. If making your own tzaziki, prepare that as well.
3. Once pita chips have had a chance to cool, assemble your nachos. Layer the pita chips on a platter. Sprinkle with your vegetables, olives and/or chickpeas, and crumbled feta. Drizzle the tzaziki sauce over the top. Enjoy!
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What I’m really trying to say is that this dish is a home run, or a touch down, or something like that.
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May 182014
 

There are 2 important things you should get out of this post. 1) This tahini sauce is epic. I could put it on everything I eat from now until forever and be very happy. 2) Spiralizers are amazing. If you’ve never seen or used one, it’s this awesome device that basically turns any vegetable into noodles. I borrowed a friends for this recipe (thanks Jen!) but just so everyone knows, my birthday is August 24th and I will accept all gifts in the form of spiralizers. Thanks.
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You can basically put anything you want into this delicious bowl. I used soy-baked tofu, avocado, edamame, scallions, roasted sweet potato, and eggplant, and put it all over a big bowl of spiralized veggies (zucchini, cucumber, and carrots). After adding the magical tahini sauce and a little sriracha, this was literally one of the best meals I’ve had in a while. I know I tend to exaggerate, but I’m being serious. Seriously. It does take a little time to prepare all the components, but it’s well worth it!
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Nutritional Highlights: Where to begin. This is a vegan, gluten-free meal that is super filling and satisfying. There is tons of protein from the edamame and tofu. It’s also essentially vegetables on top of vegetables on top of vegetable, which means plenty of vitamins and fiber. The beauty of this meal is that you can add any mixture of veggies that you like. You can serve this as a choose your own adventure kind of meal–put out all the toppings and let each person build their own bowl…not only is it healthy but it’s fun!
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Vegetable “Noodle” Bowl with Tahini Sauce
adapted from Inspiralized
serves 4
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What’s in it:

Noodles:
2 carrots, washed
1 cucumber, washed
1-2 zucchinis, washed

Toppings (choose your favorites):
1 block of extra firm tofu (+2 T soy sauce/tamari and 1 tsp sesame seeds)
2 Tablespoons black or white sesame seeds
1-2 ripe avocados, cut into cubes
1 cup shelled edamame, cooked (I buy the already cooked frozen kind and just let it thaw or zap it)
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1 large sweet potato, cubed
1 eggplant, cubed
Other options: broccoli, shitake mushrooms, or any others you like!
Optional: sriracha or hot sauce for serving

For the tahini dressing:
1/2 cup tahini
1 Tablespoon ginger, grated
2 garlic cloves, grated or finely minced
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce (or tamari if you’re GF)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons mirin or honey
2 tablespoons water (more or less as needed)

Instructions

1. In the morning or the day before you’re planning to make the dish, wrap the block of tofu in several paper towels and place on a dish with a heavy pan on top. Leave it in the fridge like this all day to drain out the liquid.
2. When you’re ready to start cooking, preheat the oven to 425.
3. Cut the tofu into cubes and toss with a 2 tablespoons of soy sauce (or tamari) and a teaspoon of sesame seeds. Allow the tofu to sit for 15 minutes if you have time. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and lay down the tofu chunks.
4. Cut the other vegetables you plan on roasting into small cubes (sweet potato and eggplant in my version), toss with a little olive oil or sesame oil, season with salt and spread on a prepared baking sheet.
5. Roast the vegetables and tofu in the oven for about 30 minutes, tossing halfway through, or until vegetables are tender and brown and tofu is crispy. Note: I like to keep my vegetables separate on the baking sheet so if some are done before others I can remove that portion.
6. While those are cooking, spiralize your vegetables and combine them all in a bowl. Note: If you don’t have a spiralizer, you can still make this dish, just serve over grated vegetable slaw or even some brown rice or quinoa.
7. Make the tahini dressing by whisking together all the ingredients. Add the water last and use as much as needed to create your desired thickness.
8. Toss the spiralized veggies with half of the tahini sauce. Transfer the rest of the sauce to a small dish so people can add more to their bowls as desired.
9. Set up your noodle bowl bar. In small bowls, put out tahini sauce, chopped scallions, sesame seeds, roasted tofu, roasted eggplant, roasted sweet potato, edamame, and cubed avocado. Build your bowl by starting with “noodles” adding toppings as desired, and additional sauce and sesame seeds. Enjoy!
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I could eat this every day. The end.
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May 042014
 

Mexican food is probably my all time favorite genre of food. I know it is a bold statement, but Mexican food has so much going for it. First of all, avocados can be involved in just about every dish, and this is a great thing. Plus, there’s always a great mix of bold flavors, colors, textures, and ideally an aggressive kick. Obviously, with Cinco de Mayo approaching, I was not going to miss an opportunity to make something fiesta-worthy. After wandering the isles of whole foods with absolutely no game plan, somehow I ended up making these absurdly delicious spicy baked plantain chips with tropical fruit and avocado salsa.
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The plantain chips were very simple, seasoned with olive oil, chili powder, garlic powder, and salt. The salsa was also simple and fresh–a mix of avocado, mango, strawberries, serrano chile, red onion, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice. This is the perfect appetizer for your Cinco de Mayo party. Or really any of the days of Mayo. Or Junio or Julio o Agosto. You get it.
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I had never worked with plantains before, but you should know that even though they look like a green banana, they are really more like a potato in flavor and texture. They have a slight sweetness but are very starchy, which is why they make an excellent and super crunchy chip. They don’t peel as easily as a banana, but if you just run a knife down one side through just the skin, you can peel it off relatively easily.
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Nutritional Highlights: This app is definitely a big health improvement from your regular chips and guac. Instead of fried tortilla chips, these are baked with only a little bit of oil. Plantains are high in fiber, vitamin B, A, and C, and potassium. The salsa is also super healthy–with tons of vitamins and antioxidants from mango and salsa, and healthy fat from the avocado. Your favorite guac and salsa at a mexican restaurant may be loaded with salt and leave you bloated and thirsty, but I didn’t even have to add any salt to this salsa, since it was so flavorful on it’s own! Added bonus–this recipe is gluten free and vegan!
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Spicy Baked Plantain Chips with Tropical Fruit and Avocado Salsa
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For the chips:
2 green plantains
2 T olive oil
1 T chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

For the salsa:
1/2 large mango, chopped
6 strawberries, chopped
1/2 avocado, cubed (or the whole avocado if it’s small)
1 small serrano chile, seeds removed and finely chopped
2 T finely chopped red onion
2 T finely chopped cilantro
Juice from 1/2 lime (or more to taste)

How to make it:
1. Preheat the oven to 400. Using a paring knife, cut a slit down one side of the plantain, just through the skin. Use your fingers to peel off the skin. Slice as thinly as possible on a diagonal, or use a mandolin to make thin chips.
2. Toss the sliced plantains with olive oil and spices. Spray a baking sheet with oil spray and spread the plantains in a single layer. Spray a little additional oil spray on top to help them get crispy and transfer to the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, turning the chips after 8 minutes and watching carefully toward the end as they can easily burn. Once they are browned and crispy, you are good to go!
3. While the chips are baking, make the salsa by simply combining all the ingredients. You can also make this in advance and refrigerate.
4. Let the chips cool and serve along with the salsa. Enjoy!

Note: these are best eaten right away but can be saved a day or two (although they will lose some of their crispiness).
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Feliz Cinco de Mayo, and enjoy this beautiful spring weather :)
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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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Jul 122012
 

Summer is in full force which means not only that I’m craving light and fresh meals, but also my summer wardrobe requires it.  But, we all know it’s not easy to be healthy in the summer…there’s always some sort of party or bar-b-que or happy hour (or several hours).  But next time you’re making something for a party, instead of heavy potato or pasta salad, try this light but flavorful salad of roasted green beans, beets, nectarines, and marinated goat cheese.  





This salad is perfect as either a side dish or a light main.  I took a few short cuts to make this a really quick fix. Instead of roasting my own beets, I bought already cooked fresh beets (most grocery stores have these now in the produce section).  All I had to do to put this together was wisk the dressing, roast the green beans, and slice the beets and nectarines.  Even though this salad seems simple, the flavors are anything but.  The sweet and savory aspects of this salad come together perfectly and the marinated goat cheese is truly the star.  





Nutritional highlights:  Not only is this salad low cal to help you stay in beach condition for the summer, more importantly it’s packed with a variety of awesome nutrients.  Nectarines have beta carotene (a form of Vitamin A), Vitamin C (with magical antioxidant powers), and lutein (for healthy eyes and skin).  Beets are a great natural source of folate (hope you’re reading this pregnant sister of mine!) and the phytochemical betalain.  Green beans, spinach, and arugula are also powerhouses here.  The variety in this salad is key…any time you see a meal as colorful as this one you know it’s going to be good for you!





Roasted Green Bean, Beet, and Nectarine Salad with Marinated Goat Cheese
adapted from Giada on Food Network


Ingredients

Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed (I used a teaspoon of honey instead since I didn’t have this)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Salad:

  • 4 ounces goat cheese, chilled, broken into 1/2-inch chunks
  • Four 2-inch-diameter red or golden beets, tops trimmed (or buy the pre cooked ones from the produce aisle and save yourself an hour!)
  • 6 ounces green beans, trimmed, cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 3 packed cups baby arugula
  • 2 nectarines, cut into thin slices 

Directions

For the dressing: Combine the oil, vinegar, apple juice (or honey), thyme, pepper, salt and garlic in a small bowl and whisk to blend. Season with additional salt and pepper.
For the salad: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place the goat cheese in a medium bowl. Drizzle with just enough dressing to moisten. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
(Skip this next step if you have already cooked beets): Wrap each beet in foil. Place the beets directly onto the oven rack and roast until tender, about 50 minutes. 
Eight minutes before the beets are tender, place the green beans in a pie dish. Add the oil and a pinch each salt and pepper and toss to coat. Roast the green beans alongside the beets until crisp-tender, about 8 minutes. Remove the foil from the beets and set aside until cool enough to handle. Cut each beet into 6 to 8 wedges.
Combine the lettuces in a large bowl. Add the green beans and nectarine slices and top with the beet wedges. Sprinkle the goat cheese on top. Just before serving, pour the dressing over the salad and toss until coated.