Jan 272013
 

I was out for dinner with some of my friends on Friday night, and we an amazing portobello mushroom appetizer.  I realized I hadn’t actually had mushrooms, or made anything with mushrooms in ages, and that app reminded me how much I love them.  Well, they make a BIG comeback in this post.  My usual go to pizza topping now becomes the pizza itself.  These are super easy to make, healthy, can have any topping combo imaginable and can be either an adorable appetizer at a party or dinner any night of the week.  Can you tell I’m excited about these?


The process took only about 30 minutes from start to finish.  After cleaning and removing the gills from the mushroom, I brushed them with garlic oil and baked for 10 minutes.  Then I added some sauce, low fat cheese, and toppings and popped them back in for a a few more minutes.  Topped with a little fresh basil, parm, and red pepper flakes and these were totally perfect.  I have to be honest, they’re not the same as pizza (no crispy crust), but they have all the flavors, plus the rich meatiness of the portobello.  I foresee myself making these again and again for a quick dinner, and maybe even cut into fourths as a super bowl appetizer!



Nutrition highlights:  I’m always a big supporter of making pizza at home.  That way you can control exactly what goes into it–low fat cheese instead of the greasy stuff that requires lots of napkin blotting, healthy vegetable and meat toppings instead, etc.  Also, if you’re trying to cut back on carbs, this is a great recipe for you.  You can make them totally vegetarian if you want (the margarita version I made with tomato and basil is) or you can add low fat meats like the chicken italian sausage I used on the other one.  The portobello itself also provides lots of selenium and B2, and are said to be great for our immune systems (which this time of year, can’t hurt a bit).  


Portobello Pizzas

Ingredients:

  • 4 large portobello mushroom caps
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • Pizza sauce
  • Part skim low moisture shredded mozzarella (you could also use any other cheeses you like)
  • Toppings: I did fresh tomato and basil on one, chicken sausage, green pepper, and onion on the other.  Any toppings work!
  • Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, etc for that last touch
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375.  Clean mushrooms with a damp papertowel or mushroom brush.  Using a spoon, gently scrape out the gills from the inside of the cap (they can be bitter, but are fine to eat if you want to keep them).  Remove any remaining stem.  
2.  Mix olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.  Rub both sides of the mushrooms with the mixture and place on a foil lined baking sheet.  Bake cup side up for 10 minutes.
3.  Take the mushrooms out of the oven and turn the temperature up to 450.  They have probably released some liquid at this point so try to dry them off with paper towel as much as possible.  
4.  Spread inside with a little tomato sauce, top with shredded cheese, and toppings.  Return to the oven for 5 minutes.  Then turn oven to broiler setting and broil for 1-2 minutes so cheese can get bubbly and brown.  
5.  Let cool 5-10 minutes.  Serve whole with a nice salad for dinner or cut into fourths and serve as an appetizer at your next party!!

Enjoy!



Jan 122013
 

I was trying to get a healthy start this week (along with the rest of the world) so I wanted to have plenty of healthy food in my fridge.  Roasted vegetables are one of my favorite things to have around because they are soooo easy to make, and so versatile–you can eat them as a side, or throw them in a salad or sandwich. I usually stick with the the standard veggies like peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, but when I was walking through the produce isle I decided that I might as well use the beautiful root vegetables that are in season.  I used parsnips, carrots, acorn squash, beets, and onions, but you can use any combo you like.  

An in case you didn’t know what some of those vegggie look like, here they are below (I gave my boyfriend a quiz and he got 2 of the 4 correct).  Then you just cut them up into bite size chunks, toss with oil, salt, pepper, herbs (I used thyme and rosemary), and whole peeled garlic cloves.  Then you just throw it in the oven until they are soft, brown, and delicious.  Can’t think of anything much easier than that! 


Nutritional highlights:  Root vegetables are some of the healthiest out there.  The common theme among these vegetables are the high levels of antioxidants (flavonoids in onions, beta carotene in carrots, betalains in beets) which help lower inflammation and thus protect against various ailments.  Aside from all that, I love root vegetables because they have a slightly sweet flavor when cooked and they are slightly starchy so they keep me full longer than other veggies.  


Roasted Root Vegetables

Ingredients:

  • olive oil spray
  • 1 acorn squash, halved, seeded, and sliced (any type of squash works)
  • 6 carrots, peeled, cut into 1 to 2-inch pieces
  • 3 parsnips, peeled, cut into 1 to 2-inch  pieces
  • 4-5 beets, washed and cut into wedges (no need to peel)
  • 1 onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Other options: celery root, any type of potato, rutabaga, leeks
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped herbs (I used half rosemary and half thyme)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled

  • Directions: Preheat to 400°F and spray 2 baking sheets with olive oil spray. Combine all remaining ingredients except garlic in large bowl; toss to coat. Season generously with salt and pepper. Divide vegetable mixture between prepared sheets. Place 1 sheet on each oven rack. Roast 30 minutes. Stir vegetables and add 3 garlic cloves to each sheet. Continue to roast until all vegetables are tender and brown in spots, stirring and turning vegetables occasionally, about 30 minutes longer. Transfer roasted vegetables to serving platter and then serve.


    Enjoy!

    Dec 272012
     
    Yep, it’s another recipe with butternut squash and kale.  Gotta say it’s my favorite ingredient combo of the season.  After the amazing hash I made a few weeks ago, I just couldn’t get enough.  This recipe also has sage and toasted hazelnuts…some of my favorite winter flavors.  This is the perfect rich but still semi-healthy main course or side for all of your holiday events.  

    I made this as individual lasagna roll-ups because I was just cooking for myself and didn’t want to (slash knew it was probably not in my best interest) to have an entire lasagna around the apartment.  If I made it again I would just make the whole thing because a) it was ridiculously tasty and b) the roll-ups probably ended up being even more work.  Be warned that this recipe is pretty labor intensive but I was very happy with the flavors.  Especially the squash mixture alone, which I would definitely make again as a crostini topping!


    Nutritional Highlights:  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, butternut squash and kale are AMAZING for you.  These ingredients are so trendy right now for a very good reason! Butternut squash is packed with fiber, B6, potassium, folate, and most importantly, beta-carotene which has been linked with tons of health benefits.  Kale is a similar story, packed with Vitamin K, A and C which are all antioxidant vitamins, and also tons of fiber.  A brief plug on fiber…not only does it help keep things, you know, regular, but it also binds with cholesterol and takes it out of the body, to help keep your cholesterol in check.  Something we can all probably use after those Christmas hams.  


    Butternut Squash, Caramelized Onion, and Spinach (or Kale) Lasagna

    adapted from Cooking Light

    **Note:  I’m including the recipe for the whole lasagna because i think it will be easier and come out better, but for individual roll-ups, just cook the lasagna noodles, spread on the toppings, roll it up, put it in the pan and bake.

    Ingredients

    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
    • 12 garlic cloves, unpeeled (about 1 head)
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
    • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    • Cooking spray
    • large onion, vertically sliced
    • 2 tablespoons water
    • (9-ounce) packages fresh spinach or 1 bunch fresh kale
    • 5 cups 1% low-fat milk, divided
    • bay leaf
    • thyme sprig
    • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded fontina cheese, divided (I substituted some of this with goat cheese)
    • 3/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
    • 1/4 teaspoon grated whole nutmeg (optional)
    • no-boil whole wheat lasagna noodles
    • Optional: 1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts

    Preparation

    1. 1. Preheat oven to 425°.
    2. 2. Combine squash, 1 tablespoon oil, sage, whole unpeeled garlic cloves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper in a large bowl; toss to coat. Arrange squash mixture on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 30 minutes or until squash is tender. Cool slightly; peel garlic. Place squash and garlic in a bowl; partially mash with a fork.
    3. 3. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, and sauté for 4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low; continue cooking for 20 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently. Place onion in a bowl.
    4. 4. Add 2 tablespoons water and spinach to Dutch oven; increase heat to high. Cover and cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts. Drain in a colander; cool. Squeeze excess liquid from spinach. Add spinach to onions.
    5. 5. Heat 4 1/2 cups milk, bay leaf, and thyme in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil; remove from heat. Let stand for 10 minutes. Discard bay leaf and thyme. Return pan to medium heat. Combine remaining 1/2 cup milk and flour in a small bowl. Add to pan, stirring with a whisk until blended. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 1/4 cups cheese, red pepper, and nutmeg.
    6. 6. Spread 1/2 cup milk mixture in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 3 noodles over milk mixture; top with half of squash mixture, half of spinach mixture, and 3/4 cup milk mixture. Repeat layers, ending with noodles. Spread remaining milk mixture over noodles. Bake at 425° for 30 minutes, and remove from oven. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese.
    7. 7. Preheat broiler.
    8. 8. Broil 2 minutes or until cheese is melted and lightly browned. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Top with toasted hazelnuts and serve.
    Sep 242012
     

    Breakfast can get a little mundane some times.  I can only make so many egg white veggie omelettes and yogurt parfaits.  Healthy breakfasts don’t have to be boring.  This was probably the healthiest AND most exciting I’ve had in a while.  A simple and flavorful hash of butternut squash and kale topped with a fried egg and shaved parmesan.  My new favorite breakfast and/or lunch and/or dinner for fall.

    The beauty of this meal is that it can be made entirely in one pan (that is if you have a cast iron skillet, which  I do not).  All you do is saute butternut squash, onions, and garlic until they’re browned and soft, add the kale for a few minutes, and finish with a fried egg, salt, pepper, and grated parmesan.  I don’t know what it was–maybe the runny yolk, maybe the sweet butternut squash, maybe the savory kale–but something magical happened when they all came together on my plate.  

    Nutritional Highlights:  Butternut squash has tons of beta-carotene (veggie’s version of vitamin A), vitamin C, and even some calcium and iron.  Plus, it has less calories and carbohydrates than sweet potatoes and is comparably delicious.  Then there’s kale–what I would dare to say is the trendiest veggie of 2012. For good reason–it has absurd amounts of vitamin K, A, and C and has tons of fiber.  The egg on top, yolk and all (yeah, I did it), is the perfect protein to round out this meal.  Your body and your taste buds want you to make this now.   


    Kale and Butternut Squash Hash with Fried Eggs and Parmesan
    (for about 3 servings)

    Ingredients:  

    • 2 cups butternut squash, chopped into 1/4 inch cubes
    • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
    • 3 cups kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
    • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
    • 1 T olive oil
    • optional: 1/4 tspn red pepper flakes
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 3 eggs 
    • shaved parmesan cheese
    Directions:

    In a cast iron skillet (or large frying pan if you’re like me and don’t have a cast iron skillet), heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic, onion, and butternut squash (and red pepper flakes if using) and sautee, stirring occasionally, for about 15-20 minutes or until the squash has softened and the onion is browned.  Add the chopped kale and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes until the kale has softened slightly.  Season the mixture with salt and pepper.

    For the eggs there are two options.  If you’re working in a cast iron skillet, you can turn on your broiler, crack the 3 eggs right on top of the hash and put it under the broiler until the eggs are cooked to your liking.  If you’re working in a frying pan, you can fry your eggs in another pan and place one on top of each serving of hash.  

    Top the hash and eggs with shaved parmesan cheese, freshly ground pepper, and salt.  Enjoy!
    Jul 272012
     

    Nothing says summer to me like good tomatoes.  My mom grows the BEST tomatoes every summer and growing up I would eat them straight off the vine because they were that sweet.  Since I can’t be at home to enjoy them this year, I found a close second to mom’s…baby heirlooms at the farmers market.  I wanted to find a recipe that showcased the tomatoes without overpowering it and I found just that.  These Herbed Ricotta and Heirloom Tomato Crostini with Balsamic Reduction will be my new go to summer appetizer…and trust me, they will impress your guests.


    There’s a little bit of prep work involved in making these, but once you make your 4 components (toasted or grilled bread, herbed ricotta, chopped tomatoes, and balsamic reduction) building the crostini’s are super easy.  I can’t even pinpoint what it was that made these so ridiculously good…maybe the garlic and herbs in the ricotta, maybe the freshness of the tomatoes, the sweetness of the balsamic, or even just how beautiful and colorful they looked.  Well whatever it was made these one of my favorite recipes I’ve made in a while and I highly recommend it!

    Nutritional highlights:  By using thinly sliced multigrain baguette in this recipe, I add fiber and healthy whole grains.  Tomatoes are an amazing source of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant and you get the most of it when they’re in their peak season (aka, now).  Ricotta is naturally one of the lower fat cheeses out there–only 50 calories and 4 g of fat per ounce compared with 116 calories and 10 g of fat in cheddar cheese.  By adding lots of fresh herbs and garlic, a little goes a long way on these crostini.  Overall this appetizer is a healthy addition to your summer party and you will not regret making them!





    Herbed Ricotta and Heirloom Tomato Crostini with Balsamic Reduction


    adapted from Authentic Suburban Gourmet
    Makes approximately 14 

    Multigrain or whole wheat baguette, cut into 14 thin
    1 C. Ricotta cheese
    3 T. Chives, diced small
    3 T. Basil, chiffonade 
    2 T. Olive oil
    2 Garlic cloves, minced 
    Salt and pepper
    1 C. Small heirloom tomatoes cut in half
    ½ C. Balsamic vinegar

    Brush or spary each slice of baguette with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake, broil, or grill until golden brown. Let cool.

    In a bowl add the ricotta, chives, basil, olive oil and garlic and mix well. Season with salt and pepper and taste for additional seasonings.  Cut your tomatoes, place in another bowl, sprinkle with salt and set aside.

    In a small sauté pan add the balsamic vinegar and heat over medium high heat. Reduce the mixture for about 10 minutes.  Be sure to watch carefully. You will want it to resemble a syrup consistency. Let cool. 

    To assemble, add about one tablespoon of the ricotta mixture to the top of the toasted baguette slices. Top with about 5 to 6 of the tomato halves. Drizzle with a bit of the reduced balsamic and garnish with additional basil if you’d like. Serve and enjoy!



    May 162012
     

    If you’ve read my blog before, you probably know by now that pizza is my favorite food.  It’s not even a contest.  You’d think that a future nutritionist would try to pick something a little more vegetabely as a favorite food, but then I’d be lying.  Reasons I love pizza include but are not limited to:
    1) Most varieties involve cheese.  And I love cheese.
    2) There are endless possible combinations…veggies, meats, cheeses, crusts, sauces.  
    3) Even though it can be considered a junk food, with whole wheat crust, low fat cheese, and healthy toppings, you don’t even have to feel guilty eating it.  
    So I never miss an opportunity to try and interesting pizza recipe, so when I saw this Fig and Arugula pizza in bon apetit last month, I knew I had to try it.  





    This one is a perfect appetizer to impress guests.  It has a fig/marsala reduction sauce, goat cheese, and is topped with a light salad of arugula and pear slices.  It’s a great sweet/savory combo and has so many great textural elements between the crisp crust, soft figs, creamy goat cheese, juicy pears, and crunch arugula (woahhh adjectives). 





    Nutritional Highlights:  As far as pizza’s go, this one is moderately healthy.  The crust is whole wheat (yay fiber and whole grains) and I rolled it out as thin as possible so we’re not carbo loading here.  The sauce is made up of dried figs and marsala, and although dried figs have a pretty high sugar content, they’re also high in fiber, Vitamins ( K, B6, and thiamin) and minerals (copper and manganese).  The salad on top is super healthy too.  When compared to iceberg, Arugula contains about eight times the calcium, fives times the vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K, and four times the iron as the same amount of iceberg lettuce.  Pears have lots of fiber, and vitamin C and K.  As far as cheese goes, goat cheese is lower in fat and calories than many other hard cheeses, and on this pizza we only use a small amount.  So overall, this pizza is pretty darn good for you!





    Fig and Goat Cheese Pizza with Arugula
    adapted from bon apetit

    Ingredients

    • 1 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
    • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
    • 1 cup dried figs, stemmed, quartered
    • 1/2 cup Marsala
    • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • 8 ounces fresh goat cheese
    • 2 cups arugula
    • 1 pear, cored, thinly sliced
    • whole wheat pizza dough (I used trader joe’s brand, but you can also make your own if you’re less lazy than I am!)
    Preparation
    • Heat 1/2 Tbsp. oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot; stir until soft, about 5 minutes. Add figs, Marsala, and rosemary. Increase heat. Bring to a boil. Add 1 cup water. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, stirring often and adding water by tablespoonfuls if too thick, until figs are soft and jam measures 1 1/4 cups, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. 
    • Preheat oven to 450°. Roll out dough on a floured surface to a very thin 10″ rounds. Cover with a kitchen towel. 
    • Place 1 dough round on each of 2 baking sheets (or use your pre heated pizza stone if you have one). Bake for 3–4 minutes to partially cook. Repeat with remaining dough.
    • Spread 3–4 Tbsp. fig jam over each crust; scatter 2 oz. goat cheese over each. Bake in batches until crust is crisp, 4–5 minutes. 
    • Toss arugula, pear, and remaining 1 tsp. oil in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper. Top pizzas with salad.

    Apr 182012
     

    Free time has been a little non-existent for me lately.  If I’m not at work, then I’m in class, or babysitting, or at a cappella rehearsal, or doing homework, or complaining about how busy my life is these days.  And as many of you can probably relate, when life gets busy, nutrition takes a back seat.  When I finally had a little time in the kitchen, I wanted to make something packed with the nutrients my body was missing, and something that I could get a few meals out of.  So I made this forbidden rice salad with edamame, sweet potato, red pepper, green onion, and sesame.





    Let me tell you, this salad is awesome.  I can’t take full credit for the idea…it was inspired by this salad I’ve had at this cute little cafe in Chappaqua.  It’s flavorful, filling, and easy to make.  You can have it as a side dish with chicken or fish, or as on it’s own for lunch.  It’s a great mixture of texture and flavor–between the nutty black rice, the sweet and tender sweet potatoes, the crunch from the red pepper and green onion, and the light sesame honey dressing pulls it all together.  And it’s just a bonus that it’s ridiculously healthy.





    Nutritional Highlights: I’m calling this a “superfood” salad because it has so many ingredients that keep popping up on those “healthiest food” lists.  Edamame is packed with protein, B and C vitamins, and is one of the few natural sources of vitamin E.  Red pepper has tons of vitamin C and A (carotenoids) and it also adds and important crunch to this salad.  Sweet potato gets it’s orange color from carotene, fiber, and works as an antioxidant.  Black rice is packed with antioxidants as well as iron and fiber.  Bonus–this recipe is vegetarian, vegan, AND gluten free, so it can satisfy all your dietary needs :)


    Forbidden Rice “Superfood” Salad


    Ingredients:
    For the salad-

    • 1 cup black rice
    • 1 large sweet potato, small dice
    • 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
    • 4 green onions, chopped
    • 1 cup shelled frozen edamame, thawed
    • Optional: chopped cilantro and sesame seeds for garnish
    For the dressing-
    • 2 teaspoon honey
    • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
    • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
    • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
    Directions:
     
    Cook the rice according to the directions on the package (for mine it was 1 cup rice to 1 3/4 cups water, bring to a boil and cover and simmer for 30 minutes).  Meanwhile, chop the sweet potato into small cubes, and toss with 1 teaspoon olive oil.  Roast at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.  
     
    Cool the rice and sweet potato cubes.  Combine the rice, sweet potatoes, edamame, chopped red pepper and green onion.  Combine all ingredients for the dressing and toss with the salad.  Top with cilantro and sesame seeds and enjoy!