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Tag Archives: Cooking

Healthy Pumpkin Challah

17 Nov

Is there anything better than the smell or the taste of fresh, hot bread right out of the oven?! To me, there is nothing better :)

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I learned how to make challah bread by another leader in my culinary club I teach on campus, but it was the typical, unhealthy version of it. I knew I wanted to play around with making a healthy version, as one of my favorite foods in life is bread<3 And then life happened and I forgot.

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But then a few days ago, the nutrition’s office that I volunteer for on campus offered me a free bread maker! They were trying to get rid of it, and I gladly accepted. In the rain, on my scooter my mom got me for my 21st birthday, I scooted home with my glasses, interact jacket, and the bread maker in between my legs..probably not the safest thing I have ever done

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And then my passion for bread making was revived! Now that I didn’t have to spend the time kneading the bread, I knew I wanted to make it righttttt away. So, what a better way to begin my whole bread making than trying to make a healthy challah bread.

And then I had a great idea. Why not add a smidge of that PuMpKiN flavor that I love so dearly??

The rest was history. Nomnomnom.

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so maybe not the prettiest challah loaf, but I was proud for it being the first time making it!

My boyfriend who loves bread as well, was in heaven upon first slice.

Top the bread with some coconut oil and cinnamon, some agave, or some of my delicious homemade nut butters (like my java one, almond joy one, or even better, my healthy “not-tella” <3)

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Healthy Pumpkin Challah
Makes 1 loaf
1.5 cups Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup Oat Flour or White Flour
1/2 cup Pumpkin
1 Egg
1 Egg White
1/4 cup warm Milk
1 packet Instant Yeast
3T Agave
1T Coconut Oil, melted
1 tsp Sea Salt
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice

For Egg Wash: 1 Egg, 1 tbsp Water, 1 tbsp Brown Sugar

Directions with Bread Maker: Place warm milk and yeast into bread maker. Allow to sit for about 3 minutes. Add All other ingredients except Egg Wash ingredients and turn bread maker onto the “Knead/Dough” setting. Allow to knead dough. When done, allow to rise once in bread maker until double in size. Once doubled. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Remove dough from bread maker and place on floured surface. Divide into 3 sections, and roll into “rope-like” stings of dough. Braid the three pieces of dough and pinch all three ends together on both ends of loaf. Place onto cookie tray sprayed with nonstick spray.Lay a towel over lightly and place in warm spot. Allow to double in size again, about 30 minutes. In small bowl, beat egg wash ingredients together. When loaf has doubled in size, brush egg wash mixture lightly on top (be careful not to deflate loaf), and place into preheated oven and bake for about 35 minutes, or until slight brown and crisp to the touch. Remove and allow to cool. This bread served with a touch of coconut oil and cinnamon, or a touch of agave is delicious.

Pumpkin Benefits:
1) High in Vitamin A which aids in eyesight
2) High in fiber to keep you satisfied
3) Rich in Beta Carotene with plays a role in cancer prevention and benefit your skin
4) More potassium than a banana (great post workout food!)
5) Rich in Vitamin C which is an immune booster, decreases blood pressure and risk of heart disease, and regulates cholesterol
6) Good source of vitamin E, which promotes healthy skin
7) High in potassium which is necessary for energy production, balancing fluid levels, and promoting strong bones

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Butternut Squash Noodle Autumn Soup with Swiss Chard and Butter Beans

16 Oct

Who loves pasta?! Sadly, it’s one of those things that everyone feels they need to give up when embarking on the healthy lifestyle.

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But not anymore. Thanks to Ali, a fellow blogger and the founder of Inspiralized.com, you can now have noodles…the healthy way! After contacting me telling me all about her blog and the art of the spiralizer, I was so intrigued that I wanted to give her the spotlight here for a day :)

Ali has made a whole blog dedicated to food made with the spiralizer. If you haven’t heard of a spiralizer, you may have heard of zucchini pasta. Basically, the spiralizer makes noodles out of vegetables. This is such a creative, fun and HEALTHY way to cook.

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No longer do you need to fear noodles!!

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I told Ali I was a huge fan of pumpkin and squashes, so she made this delectable recipe. I got hungry just looking at the photographs!

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The recipe will be below, but head on over to Inspiralized.com to check out Ali if you would like to see if the spiralizer is something you would be interested in!

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Butternut Squash Noodle Autumn Soup with Swiss Chard and Butter Beans
Servings: 2
Time to Prepare: 15
Time to Cook: 30 minutes
Ingredients
(1) 3″ long peeled chunk of butternut squash, spiralized (a julienne peeler can also be used- full guide on spiralizing a butternut squash here: http://www.inspiralized.com/2013/10/09/how-to-spiralize-a-butternut-squash/)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup diced carrots
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme (or about 2 fresh sprigs)
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 cup butter beans
8 leaves of swiss chard
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese to garnish
Directions
Place a large saucepan over medium heat. Add in the olive oil. Once the oil heats, add in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Then, add in the red pepper flakes, celery, red onion, and carrots. Season with salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, and parsley. Let cook for about 5 minutes or until carrots begin to soften.
Add in the vegetable broth and raise heat to bring to a boil. Once the soup reaches a boil, add in the butternut squash noodles and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes and then add in the butter beans and swiss chard. Cook for another 2 minutes or until squash noodles are softened and swiss chard has wilted.
Plate the soup into bowls and garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Sweetpotato Pumpkin Nut Muffins [GF, DF, V]

11 Oct

By this time you know I love pumpkin.

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But now thanks to Recipe Redux putting on this Sweetpotato Contest, I have rediscovered my love of them as well. Simply baked in the oven, cooked in a savory meal, or used in dessert, these sweetpotatoes provide such a delicious flavor and also a very moist texture :)

Recap for anyone who has missed my last couple posts and is confused as to why I’m spelling sweetpotatoes without a space:  What I used here in this recipe is not just your typical sweet potato. No, these are California sweetpotatoes! What’s unique about California sweetpotatoes is that they are grown in soft sand and are hand sorted during harvest to minimize scarring and scratching. The result is a visually, higher quality sweetpotato. California sweetpotatoes are a “nutrition bang for the calorie buck” with 4 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein, a good source of vitamin C and more than a day’s worth of vitamin A, all for 105 calories per serving. Plus, they are available year-round.

Now that we’re all caught up, let’s talk about these muffins. Can you say scrumptious? The flavors of sweetpotato, pumpkin, and almonds all in one mini muffin. What a great way to kick off the Fall season! I love this time of year, because guess what?! Pumpkin and squashes are everywhere! I can now post many pumpkin and squash recipes without seeming completely insane :)

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I made these muffins for all of my friends the other night, and didn’t know what to expect. But they loved them! I’m not a big baker when it comes to cakes and muffins, so I didn’t know if I would come out with the right ratio of everything, but thankfully I did and these muffins were a great success. And they’re gluten free, dairy free, and vegetarian friendly! So dive on in to this tasty recipe.

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Want a little taste of Fall? Or a small bite of heaven? Try this recipe with your very own sweetpotatoes today!

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Sweetpotato Pumpkin Nut Muffins
Makes 18 mini muffins

–    1 cup oats
–    1/4 cup California sweet potato, mashed
–    1/4 cup pumpkin puree
–    1/4 cup applesauce
–    3T egg white
–    6 dates
–    3T agave
–    1T coconut oil
–    1 tsp vanilla
–    1 tsp cinnamon
–    1/2 tsp ginger
–    1 tsp baking powder
–    1/4 tsp butter and almond extract
–    1/4 tsp sea salt
–    Optional: 1/4 cup crushed nuts or mini chocolate chips

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farhenheit. Combine oats and dates in food processor and blend until it forms a crumbly mixture. Add in all other dry ingredients and blend until well incorporated. In small bowl, mix together all wet ingredients. Pour wet into dry, and blend until mixed well. Stir in almonds or chocolate chips if desired. Spray mini muffin liners with nonstick spray. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of batter into each mold. Top with extra crushed almonds or chocolate chips if desired. Bake in oven for 10-12 minutes, or until done. For an extra moist muffins, take out before toothpick comes out clean (for me, about 8-10 minutes). Enjoy.

Sweetpotato Benefits
1) High in vitamin B6
2) Good source of vitamin C
3) Contain vitamin D
4) Contain iron
5) Good source of magnesium
6) High in fiber
7) Rich in vitamin A

Pumpkin Benefits:
1) High in Vitamin aid which aids in eyesight
2) High in fiber to keep you satisfied
3) Rich in Beta Carotene with plays a role in cancer prevention and benefit your skin
4) More potassium than a banana (great post workout food!)
5) Rich in Vitamin C to keep you fit and healthy

Almond Benefits
1) Reduce Heart Attack Risk
2) Lower Bad Cholesterol
3) Protect artery walls from damage
4) Build strong bones and teeth
5) Provide healthy fats and aid in weight loss
6) Lower rise in blood sugar after meals
7) Alkalize the body

 

I received free samples of California sweetpotatoes mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the California Sweetpotato Council and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

 

Banana Chia Overnight Oats

2 Sep

Overnight Oats. Probably the recipe I get asked most frequently for.

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But I definitely see why. With the hectic schedules we are all on, a very simple, delicious breakfast like overnight oats just makes sense! The best part about it? It’s all made the night before, so when you wake up, there is absolutely no work involved! Easy enough? I think so.

How do you go about making overnight oats? Basically, it is usually just a ratio of milk, oats, and yogurt combined together in a jar, and set aside in the refrigerator throughout the night until the morning. No cooking involved! But see, the best thing about overnight oats, is that they are completely customizable. What I listed above is just the base ingredients, but now it is up to your imagination and taste buds to decide what else to add to make your own heavenly breakfast.

You can keep it simple with only a few ingredients, and then add tasty toppings, or you can mix in desired foods to add flavor in the mix throughout the night as it sits. Here is just one variety of overnight oats that I made this morning :)

Banana Chia Overnight Oats

Banana Chia Overnight Oats
-1/2 cup Rolled Oats
-1/2 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
-1/2 cup Greek Yogurt
-1/2 Banana, mashed
-1 T Chia Seeds (don’t have chia seeds? Add flaxseed or just simply add less liquid!)
-1 packet Stevia
-1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a jar and mix. Store in refrigerator overnight. Take out in the morning, top with any additional toppings, and enjoy.

Varieties:
-Instead of banana, add in any other fruit of choice
-Add in a tablespoon of nut butter
-Add a tablespoon of cocoa powder for a chocolate flavor
-Add protein powder for an extra protein kick
-Top with granola, cereal, fruit, cacao nibs, or nut butter
-Add in unsweetened coconut and pineapple to make a piano colada flavor

Healthy Ranch Dressing

15 Aug

We all love that creamy dressing, whether on a salad or as a dip for carrots and other veggies, but we also know we aren’t feeding our bodies very great nutrition while having it.

That is why I had to buy it when I found it. You may ask buy what? A big container of Ranch Seasoning Powder. Nothing too bad in the powder, it’s what the directions say to mix it with that’s the bad part! Mayonnaise? No thank you.

The funny thing is, even when substituting something else for the mayonnaise, it still has the same great flavor. And guess what? it isn’t only just good for healthy dressing, but serves as a great seasoning for almost anything! Chicken, veggies, even quinoa like I did with this recipe in another post!

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If you like the flavor of ranch, you should certainly invest in some of this. And if you don’t want a big container like mine from Costco, then they sell mini paper packages of a couple servings at most food stores!

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Healthy Ranch Dressing
-1/2 cup Greek Yogurt
-1/2 cup Almond Milk
-1.5 T Ranch Seasoning (comes dry in packets)
Directions: Mix all ingredients together. Let sit in fridge to thicken. Serve as a dressing or dip. Easy enough?!

Tip: For dip or a thicker dressing, use all Greek Yogurt and no milk!

Greek Yogurt Benefits
1) Help fight tummy fat
2) Contains good-for-you bacteria
3) Loaded with vitamins such as potassium, phosphorous, riboflavin, iodine, zinc, B12 and B5
4) Great recovery after workouts: high source of protein
5) High in calcium
6) Prevents high blood pressure
7) Fights off colds and flus: healthy bacteria fights off the bad and boosts the immune system
8) Protects your teeth: lactic acid in yogurt protects your gums
9) High in protein, about 18-24 grams per serving

Avocado Artichoke Pesto Stuffed Chicken

10 Aug

I don’t know what it is about stuffed chicken recipes, but I love them. And I love creating new ones.

Lately I have been loving avocados. Not only because they are delicious, but because when I’m staying away from the typical unhealthy fats for the most part, I need a lot of good fats!  Along with homemade nut butters, avocados are something I eat daily to get those healthy fats.  They not only have tons of good, healthy fats, but they have many other benefits. This makes them a delicious summer ingredient, and not just in guacamole!

Did you know that avocados have been called “The World’s Most Perfect Food”?? And rightfully so! An avocado contains every single nutrient that a person would need to survive.

Avocados are rich in many vitamins, such as A, C, D, E, K, and all of the B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and folate). Dr. Daniel G. Amen, a clinical neuroscientist, psychiatrist, brain-imaging expert and author of the New York Times bestseller Change Your Brain, Change Your Life counts avocados as one of the top brain-healthy foods that can help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease.

I became so excited when I heard there was a contest involving avocados, and instantly became motivated to create something delicious. I have a few delicious recipes, but today, it’s all about the stuffed chicken! I love pesto.  I just adore that delicious basil taste. That is why I knew I wanted to incorporate it in this recipe creation. The creamy taste of avocados, the flavor of fresh picked basil..I knew I was heading in the right direction.

This is the perfect summer night meal, as even though it may seem like you are indulging, it was made in a very healthy manner! Protein packed and rich in healthy fats, this delicious meal is sure to keep you satisfied, in both hunger and taste.

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 Avocado Artichoke Creamy Pesto Filling
– 2 avocados, flesh
– 1/2 14oz can artichokes, chopped
-1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
– 1/4 cup  low fat cottage cheese
-1T lemon juice
-1 teaspoon crushed garlic
-1/2 teaspoon black pepper
-1/2 teaspoon sea salt
-1/2 teaspoon red pepper seasoning
-1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

Other:
-4 large Chicken Breasts
-1 T each: dried basil, thyme, onion
-1 tsp each: pepper flakes, garlic powder, sea salt

Directions: In high speed blender or food processor, add all avocado filling ingredients, except artichokes, and blend until smooth. Stir in chopped artichokes. Place in fridge until needed. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Take out chicken breast, and butterfly with knife (cut breast in half horizontally but not all the way through so that it is still in one piece). Place 1/4 mixture in each breast, and fold back top half of chicken to “close”. In a shallow bowl, mix all the dried seasonings and salt together. Sprinkle rub mixture on each breast on both sides, and place on a cookie pan sprayed with nonstick spray. Cook in oven for about 20 minutes, or until chicken is done.

Avocado Benefits:

1) Filled with Monounsaturated Fats: types of fats that help control triglycerides in the bloodstream, lower blood cholesterol and control diabetes.

2) By adding avocado to certain foods, you can improve your absorption of nutrients

3) Provides all 18 essential amino acids necessary for the body to form a complete protein. Unlike the protein in steak, which is difficult for most people to digest, the body readily absorbs avocado protein because avocados also contain fiber.

4) Pack with Folate:  a water-soluble B vitamin that promotes healthy cell and tissue development. According to the National Institute of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements, “This is especially important during periods of rapid cell division and growth such as infancy and pregnancy. Folate is also essential for metabolism of homocysteine and helps maintain normal levels of this amino acid.”

5) Contains Lutein: a carotenoid that protects against cataracts and certain types of cancer, and reduces the risk of muscular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in adults 65 years of age and older. Avocados contain 3 or more times as much lutein as found in other common vegetables and fruits.

6) Rich in Oleic acid and Potassium — Both of these nutrients also help in lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of high blood pressure.

7) Good source of fiber

“I received free samples of California Avocado mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by California Avocado and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.”

Pina Colada Chia Parfait

6 Aug

Confession: I love coconut. And all that goes into one of those rich and creamy pina colada drinks. Virgin of course :)

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But another thing I love is yogurt! It is such a great thing to have on hand as it is so versatile, I know I use it every day at least once! It is great on its own with fruit, added into smoothies and shakes, or even as a great base for sauces and dips instead of your typical mayonnaise or sour cream!

My favorite way to use it is for breakfast parfaits. I love making delicious layers of whatever I am feeling that day. Today, I was feeling like a refreshing pina colada on this hot, summer day. Not to mention I had some fresh pineapple and banana that needed to be used soon :)

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This is a protein packed and delicious way to start off your morning! And it is so easily tailored to whatever you like. Switch out the fruit for another kind, add in your own spices and extracts, and you could have a whole different breakfast! Certainly a great choice.

And guess what? I even sneaked in some of those wonderfully nutritious little seeds called chia seeds. It is such a great way to make a thick yogurt or pudding consistency! They have so many benefits, but one of the greatest being hydration (read all 10 below recipe!). Haven’t tried chia before? You should give it a try! Very tasteless yet adds a great texture. Plus, you are offering your body amazing nutrition through using them!

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Pina Colada Chia Parfait

-1/2 cup fresh Pineapple, cut into pieces
-1/2 cup puffed rice cereal or 1/4 cup Rolled Oats

Banana Pudding Layer
-1/2 large banana, mashed
-1/2 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
-1 tablespoon Chia Seeds
-Optional: Added sweetener to taste

Coconut Layer
-1/2 cup Greek yogurt
-2 tablespoons Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
-1 tsp Coconut Extract
-1 tablespoon Raw Honey

Directions: Mix all ingredients for banana pudding layer together in small bowl. Set aside in fridge to thicken. Mix together all ingredients for coconut layer together in separate bowl, set aside. In a parfait glass or (or type of cup), Place a layer of pineapple, then banana pudding, then 1/4 cup cereal or 2T oats. Repeat once more. Enjoy!

Coconut Benefits
1)Fights viruses and bacteria growth in body
2)Fights yeast, fungus, and candida
3) Positively affects hormones for thyroid and blood-sugar control which leads to increase metabolism, energy and endurance
4)Aids in digestion
5)Absorbs fat soluble vitamins
6)Lowers cholesterol
7)Special fat called medium chain triglycerides (Research shows 2T a day allowed women not only to gain less weight but lower abdominal fat)
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Raw Honey Benefits
1) Alkaline-forming food that contains natural vitamins, enzymes, and powerful antioxidants
2)Anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fingal properties
3)Promotes body and digestive health
4)Strengthens immune system
5)Eliminates allergies
6)Excellent remedy for skin wounds and infections
7)Stabilizes blood pressure
8)Relieves pain
9)Calm nerves

Chia Seeds
1) Combats Diabetes: with its gelatinous coating it can prevent blood sugar spikes, and is also slow digesting which has lead to it being a possible treatment for diabetes
2) High in fiber: just 1 oz. has 1/3 of daily needed amount
3) Packed with Omega 3 Fatty Acids
4) Supports Bone and Teeth Health: packed with calcium
5) High in Manganese: an essential mineral for your bones
6) Rich in Phosphorous: aids body in synthesizing protein for cell and also maintaining healthy bones
7) High in protein: great source for vegetarians
8) Fights Belly Fat: it’s stabilizing affect on blood sugar also fights insulin resistance which is tied to an increase of belly fat
9) Contain tryptophan: also found in turkey, it is responsible for regulating appetite and improving sleep
10) Improves heart health