With the cold weather continuing and the holiday season being over, I have been trying to eat healthier and have also been getting tired of winter. This smoothie was my temporarily getaway from winter this morning. As someone that was born in the Spring, once the holidays are over, I look forward to Spring and wish for the rest of winter to be gone. Since fresh berries are very expensive in the winter and aren’t very fresh, I used frozen berries and milk in this smoothie. Frozen berries are often cheaper this time a year, I get mine from Trader Joe’s. I also used vanilla protein powder to give it the “cream” effect and to make me full longer. Just be sure to check the protein powder you buy for gluten, some brands are not gluten free. I used Designer Whey vanilla, which is gluten free and is sweetened with Stevia. This is perfect for a light breakfast or shared with someone as a snack or healthy dessert. Here is the recipe:
Berries and Cream Protein Smoothie – Makes 1 large smoothie or 2 smaller smoothies
2 cups of frozen mixed berries (my frozen blend had strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries)
1 1/2 cups of milk (any kind of milk will work)
1 scoop of vanilla protein powder
Place frozen mixed berries and milk in the blender and puree until everything is blended together and all chunks of fruit are completely smooth. Feel free to add additional milk if you want your smoothie to be thinner.
Add vanilla protein and blend until protein powder is completely blended with the smoothie mixture.
With the weather being snowy, cold, and icy here lately, I have been doing a lot of hot, comforting meals. Many of those meals have been simple to put together ones such as this chili. Been keeping the meals simple and healthy with the holiday season being a busy time for me and my husband. This easy to make medium heat chili is a standard beef and black bean chili with a twist. The twist is that this chili has slight cocoa undertones from the cocoa powder added to the chili and I added corn to the chili. Here is the recipe:
Beef Mole Chili – Serves 4 to 6
1 pound of lean ground beef
2 14 oz cans of black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup of diced onion (about 1/2 an onion)
2 Tablespoons of chili powder
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 can of Rotel tomatoes
1 14oz can of diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon of oregano
1 Tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups of frozen or canned corn (drain and rinse corn if using canned corn)
Put ground beef into a large saucepan and cook ground beef on medium heat until the beef is mostly brown, about 5-7 minutes. Drain beef if needed.
Add diced and rotel tomatoes into the pan.
Stir in chili powder, cumin, oregano, and cocoa powder.
Add in black beans, onions, and corn.
Stir everything together and lower the heat to a low-medium heat.
Simmer chili on low-medium heat for at least 15 minutes.
Serve and enjoy! This chili is great on its own or topped with cheese, cilantro and/or sour cream. This is also great served over gluten free pasta, rice, or with gluten free biscuits, or cornbread.
I have noticed that many people have a preference for salty or sweet when it comes to snacks. I am more of a sweets person and often like to have something sweet for my evening snack/dessert after dinner. However, eating cookies, cake, candy, and other sweet treats are not something I want to be eating everyday for health reasons. On an average night I usually do healthier desserts like these baked apples. Baked apples are perfect for a healthier dessert that is delicious and takes care of that sweet craving. I have been making these for several years now in the fall and winter months when apples are in season and are cheaper to buy than most other fruits. These are great on their own or served with vanilla ice cream, vanilla yogurt (regular or Greek works), or whipped cream.
Sugar N Spice Baked Apples – Serves 2
1 Tablespoon of dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
1 Tablespoon of softened butter or margarine
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Wash and dry apples. Cut the apples in half and remove the core.
Place apples on a small, non-stick cookie sheet with the cut, flat side facing up.
Mix brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon together in a small bowl to make your sugar and spice mix.
Spread the top of each apple with butter.
Coat each apple half with the sugar and spice mix.
Bake apples for 25-30 minutes or until apples are fork tender and soft.
Serve on its own or with Vanilla ice cream, vanilla yogurt, or whipped cream and enjoy.
I have been exploring different ways to enjoy seasonal vegetables and to take advantage of the best produce that fall has to offer. This take on butternut squash and sweet potatoes transformed into noodles with a julienne peeler offers another way to enjoy these as a fall side dish or a light, healthy meal.
Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato “Noodles” in Garlic and Herb Butter Sauce – Serves 2 to 4 as a side dish, serves 1 to 2 as a main dish
1 small sweet potato
1/2 butternut squash
1/2 cup of diced onion (about 1 small onion)
1 tablespoon of butter
1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
1/4 teaspoon of thyme
1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
Peel your sweet potato and butternut squash with a peeler.
Julienne the sweet potato and about 1/2 of the butternut squash using a Julienne peeler to make noodles. I recommend using the “neck” part of the squash. There will be approximately 1 1/2 cups of sweet potato and 1 1/2 cups of butternut squash “noodles” by the time you are done peeling your sweet potato and butternut squash.
Dice 1 small onion or until you have 1/2 cup of diced onion.
Heat up a large pan to medium heat and put a tablespoon of butter into the pan.
Add sea salt, black pepper, thyme, garlic powder, and diced onions to the pan once the butter is melted and completely coating the pan.
Saute the onions for 3-5 minutes or until the onions are completely cooked through and translucent.
Add extra virgin oil to the pan and stir the olive in the pan.
Add butternut squash and sweet potato noodles in pan.
Turn up the pan to medium high heat and cook noodles for 4-6 minutes or until noodles are fully cooked, stirring the noodles every minute or so.
This week I had my first potluck in a long time at work and was at a loss of what to bring that I could easily eat as my meal. I wanted to be a team player and participate, but not starve. This casserole was a great choice and I got many good reviews from my co-workers. I also made this for dinner tonight and my husband told me this recipe is a keeper. I enjoyed this also and am surprised that I never thought to make my own version of this before. Here is the recipe:
Frito Chili Casserole – Serves 8
3 cups of corn chips (check label to make sure they are gluten free, plain Fritos are)
4 cups of chili (I made my own homemade classic beef and kidney bean chili, you can use any chili you want to use )
2 cups of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
If needed heat chili up on the stove until the chili is fully heated.
Put corn chips evenly on the bottom of a 13X9 inch pan.
Spoon chili evenly over the chips, covering them completely.
Add cheddar cheese evenly on top.
Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is fully melted.
Serve and Enjoy! A great meal on its own, a salad can be added on the side also.
Like many others this time of year, I am currently enjoying the leaves changing colors and the cooler weather. I also enjoy the seasonal foods like pumpkin, apples, and many other fall seasonal foods and treats. This rice pudding is one that showcases a seasonal fall food and can be dessert or breakfast. This pudding is basically pumpkin pie filling and rice pudding coming together and becoming a delicious dish of its own.
Pumpkin Spice Rice Pudding – Serves 2 to 4
3/4 cup of uncooked rice
1 1/2 cups of milk
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 teaspoon of salt
2 eggs, whisked together
1 15 oz can of pumpkin
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan and stir the rice into the boiling water.
Reduce the pan to low heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
Drain rice and combine 1 1/2 cups of cooked rice, 1 cup of milk, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, sugar, vanilla, and salt into a large saucepan.
Cook over medium heat until thick and creamy, about 15 to 20 minutes. Be sure to stir the mixture every few minutes.
Whisk eggs and remaining 1/2 cup of milk together.
Stir in milk and egg mixture and cook for two more minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and allow pudding to cool in a large container for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator. Serve and enjoy!
Fall has arrived and today where I am it feels like fall! I love the fall’s cool temperatures, Halloween, and the many delicious seasonal foods fall has to offer. One of my favorites is butternut squash. Here is a very simple recipe for a homemade butternut squash soup that pairs well with a salad and some gluten free crackers for a nice, leisurely lunch. Very healthy, yet rich in flavor along with a hint of spice. Here is the recipe:
Butternut Squash Soup – Makes 2 bigger bowls or 4 cup sized bowls
A 12oz box of frozen butternut squash or 2.75 cups of pureed, cooked squash (I used a box of frozen, you can get store brand of this at some supermarkets such as mine and bird’s eye also has this in their veggie line)
1 cup of chicken or vegetable broth (I used chicken broth)
1/3 cup of milk
1/2 tablespoon of butter
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper (use 1/4 tsp if you want your soup to be less spicy.)
1/4 teaspoon of ground powdered ginger
1/4 teaspoon of onion powder
1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder
Fresh Basil leaves to garnish soup (optional)
1. Defrost frozen squash or prep fresh, cooked squash to become puree.
2. Add pureed squash along with broth and milk into a medium sized saucepan.
3. Mix liquids and add black pepper, ground ginger, onion powder, and garlic powder.
4. Mix everything together and cook soup on a medium-high heat until the soup starts to boil.
5. Add butter and simmer soup on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring soup every 1-2 minutes.
6. Take soup off the stove, let the soup cool for a few minutes, and then serve in bowls or soup cups. Here is my lame attempt at doing a fancy food picture using a fresh basil leaf in the middle of the bowl:
Here is a different sort of vegetable dish for when you are tired of the same old buttered and steamed vegetables. Personally, I am also experimenting and exploring new combinations and recipes. I often cook on the fly and The use of dill along with garlic and onion in this dish along with an uncommon vegetable comination makes eating your vegetables more interesting and not a chore. While personally I eat and like almost every vegetable, I know some people that are not the same way. This may be a dish for you to try. Here is the recipe:
Garlic-Dill Vegetable Medley – Serves 2 to 4 people
1 Cup of shredded carrots (You can buy them shredded or shred peeled ones with a cheese grater or food processor using a shredder attachment)
1 Cup of sliced baby portabella mushrooms
2 Cups of baby spinach leaves
1 tablespoon of Butter
1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon of onion powder
1/8 teaspoon of dill (I used dried dill from the spices section)
1/8 teaspoon of black pepper
1/8 teaspoon of sea salt
1. Turn a medium sized non-stick pan on medium heat and add butter along with garlic, onion, dill, pepper, and salt to the pan. Stir spices into the butter, so that they are equally distributed into the butter.
2. Add carrots and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring them occasionally.
3. Add mushrooms and continue cooking carrots and mushrooms for 2-4 minutes, stir vegetables every minute or so.
4. Turn pan off and add baby spinach, continue to stir for 1-2 minutes. The heat from the pan and vegetables will wilt the spinach.
5. Put vegetables into a bowl and serve. I served these vegetables with brown rice and lemon pepper chicken. Also would work well mixed with rice or quinoa. You can also serve this with roasted or baked potatoes and roast beef or steak. Enjoy and please provide me with feedback!
I came up with this using the idea of peas and onions, a common vegetable combo. I added mushrooms in since I am a big fan of them and enjoy them sometimes with peas and onions as a vegetable side dish. Add in some rice and seasonings and you have a heartier, gluten free side dish that can also be a light meal. Also makes for a quick dish to make when you don’t have a lot of time to cook.
Mushroom, Pea, and Onion Brown Rice Pilaf – Serves 4 as a light meal, serves 6-8 as a side dish.
4 cups of cooked brown rice
2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth (I used vegetable broth)
2 cups of frozen or canned green peas (I used frozen peas)
1 medium onion
1 6 to 8 oz container of fresh, sliced mushrooms
2 TBSP of extra virgin olive oil
1 TBSP of grated Parmesan cheese (The kind from the pasta aisle is fine)
1/4 tsp of black pepper
1/4 tsp of sea salt
1/4 tsp of garlic powder
1. Cook rice according to directions on the bag or box and make 2 cups of cooked rice.
2. Finely dice white onion into smaller sized, bite sized pieces with a knife or food processor.
3. Add extra virgin olive oil to a large pan and add all remaining ingredients to the pan.
4. Cook vegetables on medium heat for 5 minutes or until mushrooms are fully cooked and are starting to brown. Onions will be fully cooked by the time the mushrooms are done.
5. Add rice to the pan and mix everything together. Cook for 2-3 more minutes, stirring everything together.
6. Serve and enjoy!
* This dish would be great served with additional vegetables and chicken, fish, or steak. This also can become a main dish with one of more of the following: diced chicken, shredded mozzarella cheese, crumbled bacon, etc.