Lighten Up Hannukah

Lighten up the festival of lights. Clever pun, eh?

I love latkes, also known as potato pancakes. Well, I should re-phrase. I love my grandmother’s latkes. In fact, I grew up scarfing hers down that I don’t really like anyone else’s (apologies to the public). And because my grandma is awesome, she used to make them specially for me all year round so I never had to wait until December to eat these bad boys.

We all know those latkes and jelly donuts are going down, and maybe even some of the chocolate gelt (coins). But, there are ways to enjoy goods without feeling guilty. Follow the same guidelines outlined in the  Turkey Day Survivor’s Guide. Some include – work out that AM, go for a lot of greens and salads instead of heavier, cheese-filled pasta dishes, try lighter dressings, drink water before diving in for seconds, offer fruit along side the jelly donuts and give up soda, juice, iced tea and other sweetened drinks and save the calories for the good stuff.

Latkes

First, watch what goes on your latkes. They are so good by themselves, I am not one to add on the toppings. But if you must, go for low-fat sour cream or unsweetened apple sauce. The small sacrifices add up, I promise!

A traditional latke recipe, which yields about 1 dozen latkes, calls for: 2 cups potatoes, 1 tablespoon grated onion, 3 eggs, 2 tbsp flour, 1 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 cup canola oil. Help yourself to 1 or 2 (or maybe 3 or 4) of the traditional guys and then snack on some healthier alternatives as your 4th and 5ths, etc. I found this really good recipe on Wholefoods.com that replaces some of the potato with carrots and green onions. Plus, it has a lot less oil and eggs than traditional latkes. I made these a while back for a non-hannukah event – my man-friend’s B-day. They were really good.

Mine didn’t look as good as the ones pictured, and a few of them fell apart until I got the hang of it, but nonetheless they are worth re-making.

Mini Potato-Carrot Pancakes

Adapted from WholeFoods.Com

Makes 2 dozen

Ingredients

2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 small yellow onion, grated
2 large carrots (about 1/2 pound), peeled and grated
1 large russet potato (about 3/4 pound), peeled, grated and squeezed to remove excess water
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1/2 cup light sour cream
1 small chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced ** the recipe calls for a spiced sour cream dip, but I served them plain and they were great.

Directions:

In a large bowl, fold together onions, carrots, potatoes, egg, flour, salt and pepper until well combined. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, form each pancake by dropping about 2 tablespoons of the potato mixture into the skillet. Space pancakes about an inch apart, flatten and cook, flipping once, until deep golden brown and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes total. (Add remaining 3 tablespoons oil to skillet halfway through.) Transfer to a paper-towel lined baking sheet to drain briefly. Serve with a teaspoon of flavored sour cream on each.

Nutrition: per serving (1 each): 60 calories, 4 gm fat, 1 gm saturated fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 125 mg sodium, 4 gm carbohydrate, 1 gm protein

Jelly Donuts (AKA Sufganyot)

Good news, baked donuts taste really good. But whether you go for fried or baked, be mindful of the size. Make donuts holes injected with jelly or mini donuts instead of humongously large donuts. Check out this mini donut pan from Norporo. It sells on Amazon.com for $9.00.

Jelly donuts and latkes are easy and perfect to make with kids. If you don’t want to buy a pan just for the occasion, improvise with what you have. I found this creative recipe on Bakinwithmykid.com. It is a donut recipe that calls for using a cupcake/muffin tin instead of a donut pan. The donuts come out looking like a mix of a muffin and a donut hole.

Baked Jelly Donuts for Hanukkah

Adapted from Bakinwithmykid.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prep Time: 10 mins  Cooking Time: 8 to 10 mins

Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 egg (lightly beaten)
1 6 oz container of non fat organic vanilla bean yogurt
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon+ 1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter (melted)
1 jar of your favorite jelly

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the cinnamon and 1/2 cup sugar together and set aside. In a large bowl whisk together all the dry ingredients. In another bowl stir together oil, lemon juice, sugar, egg and yogurt. Make a hole in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the hole. Gently fold everything together until combined. Place batter in a plastic baggie, seal and cut off the corner then pipe dollops of batter into a greased muffin tin OR donut pan. Each muffin cup should only be 1/3 to 1/2 full. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for a few moments and then flip over onto a cooling rack while still warm. Dip the tops of the donuts into butter and then sprinkle the tops with cinnamon sugar. Let cool slightly. Fit a pastry bag with the 1/2 round tip and fill the bag with jelly. Insert the tip into the end of each donut and pipe a squirt into each donut. Makes 12.

Happy Hannukah!

And to those who celebrate Christmas…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Merry Christmas!

I hope you make these with your kids because these are  fun, healthy and freakin’ cute!

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Quinoa 101 + Spiced Quinoa & Avocado Salad Recipe

Gotta love kids. I watched this 10+ times. Every time I made an edit, I insisted on re-watching it.

Quinoa is grouped in the grain category because of its taste and texture. But, it’s actually an edible seed from a dark leafy plant similar to spinach. For those visual learners, this is a quinoa flower:

Quinoa is pretty much a nutrition power house. It has a higher % protein by weight compared to most grains. According to the USDA, 1/2 cup cooked quinoa has ~8 more calories compared to couscous and brown rice,  yet brings more protein, fiber and iron.  Unlike most grains like wheat, rice and oats, quinoa is a complete protein. Meaning, it has all of the essential amino acids (building blocks of protein primarily found complete in animal proteins), that our bodies cannot make and must get from food, making it a good option for vegetarians. And, it’s a good source of minerals like magnesium and phosphorus.

Quinoa is gluten and wheat free for all those allergy-ied and sensitivity-ied. Be on the look out for quinoa flours and pastas popping up on the market. Quinoa has a mild taste and fluffy texture, making it very easy to like because it tastes so darn good. And, my favorite part about it? It’s super easy to make (cooks only in 10-15 minutes compared to 30-40 minutes for rice).

Making It:

1. Rinse in small colander under running water – wash away the soapy foam that will appear.

2. Pour quinoa and water into a pot, it’s usually 1:2 ratio (1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water), cover, boil for 10-15 minutes until fluffy. You will start to see small white squiggles,which are just the outer germ rings, separatting from the seeds. Have no fear- they are harmless.

3. Now for the good stuff… Mix it onto anything. Substitute for any rice, barley or couscous dish. Mix with veggies, add any spices or herbs, why not some (low fat) cheese, throw in a salad or soup, add to a wrap, stuff into a pepper, mix with some honey, almonds and fruit for breakfast.

Now for a recipe. I wouldn’t dare post this without including a recipe to keep my dear friend and co-worker Jess reading.

Quinoa & Avocado Salad with Lemon-Cumin Vinaigrette Salad

Adapted from Fine Cooking (another fav)

Photos getting better, eh?

Ingredients:

3 tablespoon raisins (preferably a mix of dark and golden)
1 cup red or white quinoa, rinsed well
Kosher salt
1 large lemon
3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1-1.5 teaspoon ground coriander  — pretty sure I added even more after tasting
1-1.5 teaspoon ground cumin  — pretty sure I added even more after tasting
2 medium firm-ripe avocados (6 to 7 oz. each), pitted, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
3 medium scallions thinly sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
Directions:
1.In a medium bowl, soak the raisins in hot water for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. In a 2-quart saucepan, bring 2 cups water, the quinoa, and 1/2 tsp. salt to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is translucent and tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Immediately fluff the quinoa with a fork and cool to room temperature.
3. Grate zest from lemon and squeeze then squeeze as much juice as you can into a small bowl. Whisk lemon zest + juice, olive oil, spices, 1/4 teaspoon salt. Toss with quinoa, raisins and avocado. Season with pepper. Tastes really good room temperature or chilled.

Holy Pesto

I know that in almost every post I say “if I only had 1 message to get across…” and so far that has included kids’ involvement in cooking, bravery to try new foods, food label reading and the banning canned goods. But, I am back with another main theme: Cooking isn’t that hard – it can be accessible to anyone. Hey, I work with a tiny kitchen that has a small fridge (breaks my heart) and no dishwasher. So if I can do it, you can. A perfect example – home-made pesto.

People think to buy pesto, not make it. I had a bunch of basil on it’s way out, and I knew I had to do something. Plus I couldn’t miss the opportunity to use my fav kitchen gadget – the immersion blender. I didn’t follow any recipes, and through trial and error I got it right. My first batch was quite garlicy to the point of un-edible (but like mother like daughter my Mama just told me she did the same thing).

Little Bites Home Made Pesto:

1 bunch of fresh basil (always keep basil in the fridge wrapped in wet paper tower)

1/4 cup heat-healthy olive oil to start– I usually end up adding more

Salt + Pepper

1/2 clove garlic, chopped

Instructions:

1.Clean basil well and tear off leaves from stems — a great thing for the kids to do

2. Add basil leaves, garlic, dash of s+p and 1/4 cup olive oil to start

3. Use an immersion to puree until smooth

4. Add more olive oil to thin out as needed. Add more salt, pepper, garlic for flavoring

Many recipes call for pine nuts which adds texture, so feel free to add in 1/4 cup at a time. I didn’t have any in my cabinet, so I had to improvise using what I had, and it came out great without them. Many recipes also call for parmesan cheese, but that’s just adding fat and calories to something that already has a fair amount of oil.

Ways to eat pesto:

1. Add onto pasta, or in my case gnocchi

2. Mix into potatoes – taste great in mashed or roasted potatoes

3. Use as a spread on your next turkey or egg sandwich instead of high fat mayo and high sugar ketchup

4. Delicious as a salad dressing

5. Add onto orzo + cherry tomatoes for a quick, easy and inexpensive side dish

6. Flavor up your hummus

7. Add onto plain grilled or baked chicken breast or fish

Do It Yourself (DIY): Oatmeal

Ah, the wonders of oatmeal. This little girl seems to agree.  It’s usually associated with breakfast, but it’s great as a snack or for any meal, especially on a cold day. Oatmeal is a whole grain high in soluble fiber. And, it’s a good source of the B vitamin thiamine and iron. Soluble fiber is beneficial in a few ways. First it absorbs water in our bodies which slows digestion, making us feel full for longer (helpful in weight control and maintaining stable blood sugar). And, it helps lower cholesterol by removing the “bad” cholesterol (LDL) out of the body. According to Quaker,  3/4 cup of oatmeal each day can lower cholesterol. The research is so strong that the FDA approved the label claim that it can reduce risk of heart disease when combined with a low-fat diet.

Kids can sometimes be scared of oatmeal because of its mushy texture. Great, a perfect opportunity to get them involved. Because if you haven’t picked up on one of my main themes = if kids prepare the food they are more likely to eat it. A fun activity is an “oatmeal bar” – have kids set up cups of fruit, spices, add-ins, natural sweeteners (honey/maple syrup). Make a big batch of oatmeal on the stove and have everyone add in their own toppings.

Types of Oats:

All oats are whole grain meaning they have all parts of the oat gran including the bran, endosperm and germ. But they can differ in taste, preparation, cooking time and nutritional value.

Steel cut/Irish: Inner portion of the oat kernel is cut into small pieces by steel rather than being rolled.  It has a nuttier flavor and is and chewier than rolled oats. It takes longer to prepare because of its minimal processing. Cooks in 15-30 minutes on the stovetop.

Rolled oats/old fashioned: Inner portion of the oat kernel is rolled into flat flakes with heavy rollers, then steamed and lightly toasted. Cooks in 5 minutes on the stovetop.

Quick-cooking rolled oats/quick oats: Rolled oats cut that are cut into small pieces before being steamed and rolled to cut down cooking time. Cooks in 1-2 minutes on the stovetop.

Instant: Rolled oats that are pre-cooked and dried, then sodium is added as a preservative. Just add boiling water and does not require cooking.

Nutritional Comparison of Quaker Oats (per 1.5 oz dry = single portion packages):

Rolled/old fashioned: 159 Kcal, 4.3 gm fiber, 0 mg sodium, 1.1 gm sugar

Steel cut/Irish:   159 kcal, 4.3 gm fiber, 0 mg sodium, 1.1 gm sugar

Quick oats:  159 Kcal, 4.3 gm fiber, 0 mg sodium 1.1 gm sugar

Instant (Maple & Brown Sugar): 160 Kcal, 3 gm fiber, 270 mg sodium, 13 gm sugar

Surprising, huh? Instant oatmeal is much higher in sodium and sugar and lower in fiber. Another case where you can thank salt for being a preservative in pre-cooked goods. I was surprised when I learned that those with high blood pressure should avoid instant oatmeal because of added sodium. My vote? Any type besides the instant. Really, rolled, steel cut and quick oats are nutritionally comprable, they just differ in cooking time and taste.

Since I’m the barrer of bad news on instant oatmeal, it’s only fair I provide some alternatives. Making oatmeal from scratch is really easy, I promise.

Do It Yourself Oatmeal:

1. Buy either rolled, steel cut or quick oats. I like the flavor and texture of steel cut best even though it takes a little longer to make.

2. Follow instructions on the label for amount of liquid, oats and cooking time.

3. Substitute water for fat-free milk if you don’t eat much dairy and need to boost calcium intake.

4. Add in flavorings of your choice: cinnamon, vanilla extract, dried fruit, fresh fruit, teaspoon of peanut butter (similar to hummus, I try PB with everything), teaspoon of natural sweetener like honey or maple syrup.

If you’re not ready to part with instant, you can still make a healthier choice if you buy unflavored package and add in your natural sweetener or fresh flavors. This way YOU can control how much sugar goes in.

Have leftover rolled “old fashioned” oats? They’d go perfectly in this  cookie recipe.

Banging Thanksgiving (And Everyday) Sides

Nothing makes me happier than a colorful table filled with tons of colorful plant based dishes. I am totally okay with stuffing, bread, butter, oil, meat, dessert as long as there is a fair amount of healthy, light, veggie-based sides to balance out the meal.  Tis’ the season to be sharing, so let me share some of my favorite sides (and 1 soup that I love too much not to include) that I would make at any meal and definitely on Thanksgiving. Most of these recipes are easy, but between the peeling, chopping and roasting they are time consuming, which is why advance planning is key because they shouldn’t, or couldn’t possibly be made at once.

Commission kids to help with all of these recipes and involve them in the feast preparing. Let them be the peeler (age permitting), refrigerator/ingredient go-getter, time keeper, herb pull-aparter, spice adder, veggie washer, dressing mixer.

1. White Bean Butternut Squash & Rosemary Soup

Adapted from Barefood Contessa/Ina Garten cookbook. I substituted chicken broth for vegetable broth + water; added butternut squash

Barefoodcontessa.com; will turn out more orange when adding butternut squash

Serves 6

  • 2 cans white cannelli beans (sorry I made canned goods an exception here)
  • 4 cups yellow onions
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1 quart veggie broth + 1 quart water
  • 1 butternut squash (or 1 package pre-cut), peeled and diced into very small pieces
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
Directions:
  1. In large stock pan, sauté onions in olive oil until translucent, 10-15 minutes
  2. Add garlic and cook over low heat for 3 more minutes
  3. Add drained and rinsed white beans, rosemary, stock/water, butternut squash – cover, bring to a boil, then simmer, stirring frequently for 30-40 minutes or until squash is soft
  4. Use immersion blender (or place in food processor) and blend until coarsely pureed

2. Spicy Lentil & Sweet Potato Salad

Little Bites Original (after some experimenting of course)

                                              Actual pics taken from my dining room table

Serves 6-8

  • 5 medium sized sweet potatoes, diced into small 1″ cubes. Leave skin on to keep the fiber and vitamins
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 lb cooked lentils or about 2 1/2 cups  (I used 1 package of Trader Joe’s ready to eat lentils and heated in boiling water as instructed on package)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (up to a tablespoon if you like a kick)
  • Few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Olive oil
  • 1-2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Place diced potatoes on baking sheet or in thin pan, coat with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, thyme (as much removed from springs as possible). Cook in oven for 25-30 minutes, gently stirring once or twice, until potatoes are soft (but still maintain structure). Allow them to completely cool
  3. While potatoes are in oven, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in frying pan. Add onions and cook on low-medium heat until translucent but not mushy, about 2-3 minutes.
  4.  Add cooked onions, lentils, 1/2 teaspoon salt into large bowl
  5. When potatoes are completely cooled add into lentil/onion mixture. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon more of cayenne and additional salt and pepper to taste. Mix gently. Add additional 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar if needed

3. Roasted Maple Horseradish Beets

Adapted from Wholefoods.com & the lovely AviG

Serves 4-6

  • 1 + 3/4 lb medium beets (3 + 3/4 lb with greens), stems trimmed to 1 inch
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons bottled white horseradish (not drained)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Wrap beets in foil and roast until tender, about 1 hour
  3. When cool enough to handle, peel beets and cut into eighths (will dye fingers), then transfer to bowel
  4. In skillet, add oil, horseradish, syrup, vinegar, salt & pepper over moderate heat
  5. Stir in beets and boil, stirring occasionally until liquid in skillet is reduced to about 1/4 and beets are coated, about 4-5 minutes. Tastes delicious served room temperature

4. Roasted Carrots

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa/Ina Garten cookbook. So simple, yet so good. Reminds me of carrots from chicken soup.                                                                                                                                             

Foodnetwork.com

Serves 6

  • 12 carrots peeled
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced dill (I’ve also made them with dried rosemary and fresh thyme, all are good)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Slice carrots diagonally 1 ½ thick slices, if carrots are thick cut them first in half lengthwise
  3. Toss in bowl with olive oil, salt, pepper
  4. Place on baking pan in 1 layer, roast for 25 minutes
  5. Halfway through cooking (~15 minutes), pull out oven rock, add in dill and quickly mix with carrots

5. Stuffed Mushrooms

Little Bites original (sorry I don’t have a pic, I haven’t made them since starting the blog)

Serves 10-12

  • 10-12 baby portobello or white, stems removed, leaving caps. Clean well, but gently, using paper towel (water will create a water/runny product)
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced into small pieces
  • ¼ large red onion, diced
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt & pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Line baking sheet with 1 teaspoon olive oil or cooking spray. Place mushrooms on pan, cap facing up. Pour a dash of balsamic on each cape. Bake for 25 minutes.
  3. While mushrooms are baking, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in skillet, add onions, peppers, teaspoon of salt and peppers, cook until soft, about 3 minutes on medium heat. Add spinach cook until wilted, 1-2 minutes
  4. Take mushrooms out of the oven and stuff the filling inside each cap. Place back in oven for 3 minutes

6. Kale & Brussel Sprout Salad

Adapted from Epicurious.com/Bon Appetit

Serves 8-10

  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely grated
  • ¼ teaspoon salt + pepper
  • 2 large bunches of kale (~1.5 lb total), discard center stem and thinly slice leaves
  • 12 ounces brussel sprouts, trimmed, finely grated or shredded with knife
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

  1. Combine lemon juice, Dijon mustard, shallot, garlic, ¼ teaspoon salt and pinch of pepper in bowl. Stir to blend. Set aside to let flavors set.
  2. Mix thinly sliced kale and shredded brussel sprouts in large bowl
  3. Slowly whisk olive oil into lemon juice mixture. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Add dressing to kale/brussel sprout mixture. Add additional salt + pepper to taste.

7. Mustard Roasted Potatoes

Adapted from Smittenkitchen.com

Smittenkitchen.com

Serves 10

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • ½ cup whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 3 pounds mixed 1 to 1 ½ inch UN-peeled red-skinned and white skinned potatoes, cut into ¾ inch wide wedges

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Spray 2 large rimmed baking sheets with nonstick spray
  3. Whisk mustard, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, lemon peel and salt in large bowl to blend. Add potatoes. Sprinkle generously with freshly ground pepper and toss to coat
  4. Divide potatoes between baking sheets, leaving excess mustard mixture behind. Spread potatoes in single layer. Roast for 45 minutes, mixing occasionally, until crusty on outside and tender on inside

Uh- oh, all this blogging is making me hungry.

Pop by tomorrow to see the Nutritionist’s survival tips for getting through Thanksgiving.

It’s Raining Spaghetti Squash

One of the best things about fall is the return of the spaghetti squash, part of the winter squash family. It varies in color on the yellow-orange spectrum. The darker the orange the more beta-carotene, a plant pigment with antioxidant properties that can be converted into Vitamin A, which helps promotes  skin and eyes health. True fact- if you eat too much beta carotene it can start tinting your skin orange. But don’t worry, you’d have to eat A LOT. Spaghetti squash is very low in calories. Compared to pasta spaghetti, it’s a nutrition rockstar. 1 cup of cooked spaghetti squash weighs in at about 45 calories, 10 gm carbs, 2 gm fiber compared to about 220 calories, 3 gm fiber, 43 gm carbs in 1 cup of cooked refined (white) spaghetti.

Not only is it good tasting and healthy, but it’s really fun to make.  Is it normal that I was excited to come home from work last night to make it? I still can’t get over how one squash turns into a pile of spaghetti. It’s magic. And being that I am in my mid-twenties and still find it fun, imagine what kids would think? For all those who have kids or little cousins or siblings, try to make it with them this weekend or next week (perfect T-giving side).

Steps to Spaghetti Squash

Look at that beauty

1. Heat oven to 375.

2. Cut squash in half, lengthwise – warning, man power and a good knife required.

3. Use a fork to remove the seeds (wait, before you throw them out re-use them in his  recipe).

4. Place the 2 halves on lighty greased baking sheet open side down.

5. Cook for about 30 minutes.  Depending on the size  of squash it could be as short as 25 or as long as 35 minutes. You are looking for a soft texture that can easily pierced though with a fork.

6. Cool for 10 minutes.

 

7. Keep the squash on baking sheet or cutting board. Using a fork, scrape lengthwise  along the squash pulling off the spaghetti-like strands.

 

 

 

 

Viola! Look how much 1 squash makes. Crazy right? That’s a whole-lotta squash.

 

 

 

Now do whatever you crave. You can eat it as is or throw it back on the stove and mix it with well, anything. Whatever would be good on spaghetti would be good on this. Try sauce, cheese (preferably low fat), sauteed veggies, roasted garlic, chicken, fish, turkey meatballs, beans, fresh herbs and spices. Add cumin and coriander for an Indian flare. Add part-skim mozzarella and tomato or pesto for an Italian style. Try feta olives and roasted peppers for Greek flavor.

The finished product

Last night I wanted simple, so I threw 1 1/2 diced tomatoes, 1/2 chopped onion and 1 garlic clove on a medium flame for 5 minutes, then added the spaghetti squash and mixed for 1 minute. Delicious.

Nutritionists Eat Cookies: Homemade Hummus(Chummous) Recipe

Is it a problem that 2 of my first 10 posts are about hummus? I told you I was an addict…

Being that it is a staple in my fridge, something I buy on a bi-weekly basis, it was starting to get boring and expensive.  To spice things up (literally) and to be budget friendly I decided to make it myself. For the same $ you get A LOT more hummus plus a whole lot more flavor and natural ingredients.  Plus, it’s really super easy to make. I ran it through the taste panel (ie my man friend Milos) and he approved.

Homemade Hummus/Chummous (adapted from Allrecipes.com)

Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) – 1 lb bag of dried beans or 3 cans ***

1/3 cup tahini sauce (I used Trader Joe’s brand)

1/4 cup lemon juice (I used 2.5 lemons)

5 cloves garlic halved (original recipe called for 2 but can never have too much garlic)

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon cayenne (if you like a kick)

Water as needed

Directions:

1. ***Strongly suggest using dried beans for optimum freshness and taste. Pour the dried beans into a bowl, cover with water, soak for at least 10 hours (overnight or during workday), strain the beans, pour into pot, cover with fresh water, bring to boil then simmer for 1 hour. If you don’t have that time canned beans will do, but it definitely won’t taste as good. This just reminded me of my abhorrence for canned goods, which trust me, I will blog about. Maybe even tomorrow.

2. Place chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice (watch out for seeds), garlic, spices, olive oil into bowl. Use an immersion blender (or regular blender)to blend until smooth.

3. Add some water to thin it out if needed. Add additional salt and paprika as needed.

                                                               Before

                                                                        After

                                                                      All dressed up… 

Warning: if you add in as many garlic cloves as suggested, do not make this on a cooking date. Once you have the basic ingredients, feel free to be creative and adapt this recipe to your own taste buds, just like I did. Some suggestions: fresh herbs (basil, parsley), hot sauce, curry spices, roasted red peppers or eggplant.

This recipe stayed good for 1 week in the fridge. The taste develops over time. You may  need to add teaspoon of water or olive oil to thin it out as the days go on.

Nutritionists Eat Cookies: Sweet & Salty Oatmeal Chocolate Cookies

I had to make something for a pot-luck at work, so I went to my go-to source for amazing recipes: SmittenKitchen.com. My sister-in-law told me about it a year ago (thanks!), and I’ve been hooked since. The website is on my bookmarks tab, so yes I am a true fan. The recipes are not particularly fat/sugar/calorie sparing, but what I love is that the author uses wholesome ingredients, which I am a big fan of.

Everyone should enjoy a good cookie once in a while. I prefer REAL ingredients instead of lab creations, like butter instead of margarine and maple syrup, honey and even refined sugar instead of artificial sweeteners. 

My motto- eat the real deal, but less of it. And try to have some fruit or veggies first :-) 

I made these cookies for 20 other nutritionists (yes, nutritionist eat cookies) who all seem to agree with my motto. This was my second time making them and they came out just as good. You can’t go wrong with sweet and salty. Make them. I mean it. 

Crispy Salted Oatmeal Chocolate Cookies 

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

Original recipe yields 24 cookies; I managed to get out about 30 large cookies. 

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cup sugar
1 + 3/4 sticks unsalted butter, slightly softened
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 + 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
6 ounces white chocolate bar, chopped (first time I made them with white and second with dark chocolate, both were great but white was a tad better)
Flaky sea salt (for sprinkling on top)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat.
2. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and table salt in a medium bowl.
3. In separate bowl, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated.
4. Add flour mixture gradually and mix until just incorporated and smooth.
5. Gradually add oats and chocolate, mix until well incorporated.
6. Roll dough into small balls and place on cookie sheet (the cookies spread more than I thought so make sure there is space between the dough balls).
7. Sprinkle a flake or two of sea salt on each cookie.
8. Bake until cookies are deep golden brown, about 13 to 16 minutes.
9. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack to cool.

And for your information, yes that picture is real! I took it right after the cookie came out of the oven, so expect yours to look similar. Photography is not my forte, so I’ll use blogging as my excuse to finally learn it. After all,  I know how hard it is to commit to making a recipe without a picture.