Friday, May 29, 2009

Double Berry Crumble Muffins

Finally I've gotten a moment to share one of my recipes that I made while I was at home. One of my creations was a very special muffin that we enjoyed for breakfast. My family and I have always enjoyed homemade muffins for weekend breakfasts. As a testament to our love of muffins, the pages containing the muffin recipe in our old Betty Crocker cookbook is permanently marked with streaks of flour and sugar. My mom had bought some beautiful blackberries and blueberries, so I decided to combine them in our basic muffin recipe. To make the muffins even more special, I made a cinnamon-oatmeal crumble topping. The blackberries added tartness to the muffins, whereas the blueberries added sweetness. Both of the berries were so plump and juicy, jam wasn't even necessary. The crunchy topping contrasting the juiciness of the berries and the tenderness of the muffin. I lightened up the version of the regular recipe by using only egg whites, but a whole egg can be used instead. Applesauce in place of the oil can also be an alteration to reduce the fat, but I chose to use canola oil at this instance. Also, any berries or chopped fruit can be used instead of the berries (pear berry crumble muffins sound awesome!)

Double Berry Crumble Muffins

2 egg whites
1 cup skim milk
1/4 cup canola oil
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup blackberries
1/2 cup blueberries


1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp room-temperature butter or margarine

non-stick cooking spray or paper muffin cups

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray or use paper muffin cups.
3. Beat the egg whites lightly, then add milk and oil.
4. Blend in the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; the batter should be lumpy. Gently fold in the berries. Fill each muffin cup with an equal amount of the batter.
5. Combine all the topping ingredients in a small bowl and blend with a fork or your fingers until pea-sized crumbles form. Sprinkle equal amounts of the topping evenly over each muffin.
6. Bake the muffins for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately remove from the pan and serve warm.

Per muffin:
Calories: 183
Fat: 6 g
Saturated fat: 0.6 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 224 mg
Carbohydrates: 28.6 g
Fiber: 1.5 g
Sugar: 8.3 g
Protein: 4.2 g

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Lentils with Green Beans

I was so lucky to be able to go home for the memorial day weekend. While home, I found some much-needed recipe inspiration. My family and I ate lunch at a health food store in Bloomington, Indiana, called Bloomingfoods. It had a really good salad bar that had several made-up salads and hot dishes. One of them that I tried was a very simple but impressing nonetheless. It consisted of lentils and green beans. It wasn't overly spiced; it was simple and comforting. I tried to recreate it tonight as a nice inexpensive side dish that I paired with a green salad. It was just as comforting as when I had it the first time and very close to the real thing. I love green beans so much I might have added a few more than were in the original, however, but I'm allowed some creative liberties, aren't I?

Lentils with Green Beans

1/2 cup light green lentils
2 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup diced onion
1 15-oz can cut green beans
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp sage
1/4 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
non-stick cooking spray
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Place the lentils in a colander and rinse them and pick through them for stones. Set aside.
2. Heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray and add the onion and garlic; cook until fragrant and translucent.

3. Add the broth, thyme, sage, bay leaf, and salt and pepper and raise the heat to high. Once the broth mixture comes to a boil, add the lentils. Drop the heat to medium and cover with a lid. Cook for 40-50 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
4. Add the green beans and continue to cook until the green beans are heated through and the lentils have become very tender and slightly mushy. Serve immediately.

Servings per recipe: 2
Per serving:
Calories: 210
Fat: 1.3 g
Saturated fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 388 mg
Carbohydrates: 34.2 g
Fiber: 16.4g
Protein: 15.8 g

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Whole Wheat Rotini with Artichokes, Roasted Red Peppers, and Italian Sausage

Pasta is my favorite food of all time, and for a while now I have been straying from it because I've been trying to watch my carbs. I decided I needed to return to my roots this week and make a hearty pasta dish. To help make the pasta more healthy, I chose whole wheat instead of using the refined semolina variety of pasta. Another trick I used to keep the carbohydrates in check was to add a variety of chunky vegetables to add bulk, as well and protein-rich Italian sausages. You won't miss the refined pasta with such a variety of flavors! Sweet and smokey roasted red bell peppers balance the tang of artichoke hearts in this pasta. The Italian sausage lends plenty of flavor from the herbs and spices it contains. Rotini, which is one of the most fun pasta shapes, clings onto every ingredient. The dish is finished with salty Parmesan and licorice-y basil. This is heaven in a bowl for me!

Whole Wheat Rotini with Artichokes, Roasted Red Peppers, and Italian Sausage

1/2 lb whole wheat rotini pasta
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup diced red onion
1 15 oz can water-packed quartered artichoke hearts
1 jarred roasted red bell pepper, drained and julienned
2 vegetarian Italian sausage links, sliced or chopped or 2 turkey sausages, casings removed
1 15 oz can petite diced tomatoes
pinch of sugar, optional
2 tbsp fresh chopped basil
*pasta cooking water
4 tbsp Parmesan cheese

1. Bring the water for the pasta to boil (be sure to salt the water).
2. While the water is coming towards a boil, heat a large skillet between medium and medium-high heat. Add the oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and saute.
3. When the onion is translucent, add the artichokes and bell peppers, season with a little more salt and pepper, and warm them through. Make a well in the center of the pan by pushing the vegetables to the side and add the sausage and allow it to heat through and brown.
4. Add the tomatoes to the sausage and vegetables and stir to combine. Fold in the basil. Let the sauce simmer as the pasta finishes cooking. If the tomatoes are a little too tart, add some sugar to balance the flavors.
5. Reserve some pasta water before draining the pasta (a cup of water is enough). Add the pasta to the sauce and add enough water to allow the pasta to be coated with sauce. Sprinkle in the cheese and heat until it is melted. Serve immediately, with a little extra Parmesan and a sprinkling of basil.

Servings per recipe: 4
Per serving:
Calories: 411
Fat: 9.6 g
Saturated fat: 1.7 g
Cholesterol: 7 mg
Sodium: 412 mg
Carbohydrates: 63 g
Fiber: 14.6 g
Protein: 28.1 g

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Heirloom Tomato, Cucumber, and Feta Salad with Fresh Basil Vinaigrette

I made a trip to Savannah yesterday and got some beautiful fresh produce, including some heirloom tomatoes. While the definition of an heirloom tomato is still under debate, a good generic definition is tomatoes that have been cultivated for several generations. They typically come in a wide variety of colors as well as many different shapes. I combined the tomatoes I got with cucumbers, reduced fat feta cheese, and a red wine vinaigrette blended with fresh basil. This salad is an arranged salad, which makes a lovely presentation.

Heirloom Tomato, Cucumber, and Feta Salad with Fresh Basil Vinaigrette

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp agave nectar or sugar
1/4 cup basil leaves
salt and pepper, to taste
12 slices heirloom tomato (about 2 medium tomatoes)
1 cup cucumbers, cut into thin slices
6 tbsp reduced fat feta cheese crumbles

1. In a blender, combine the oil, vinegar, agave nectar or sugar, basil, and salt and pepper and blend until well combined; set aside.
2. On each serving plate, alternate one tomato slice with several (I used 4) cucumber slices.
3. Drizzle the dressing in a ring over all over the vegetables.
4. Arrange 2 tbsp of the feta cheese in the center of the vegetables, allowing some crumbles to fall down the sides of the vegetable slices. Serve immediately.

Servings per recipe: 3
Per serving:
Calories: 182
Fat: 15.8 g
Saturated fat: 3.2 g
Cholesterol: 8 mg
Sodium: 109 mg
Carbohydrates: 8.5 g
Fiber: 0.9 g
Sugar: 6.8 g
Protein: 2.2 g

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Herb Marinated Tempeh and Israeli Couscous Salad with Sweet Peas and Sun-dried Tomatoes

Now that classes are over, I have a little more time on my hands for myself, and have started to do a lot more exercise. I actually started P90X, which is a grueling 90 day exercise program. Therefore, I have to eat not only healthy food, but hearty food to keep me from running out of steam during my hour and a half exercises every day. Because it's already quite warm here in the south despite it being only May, I want to eat something that will cool me off, too. Therefore, I used one of my farmers' market veggies, my sweet peas, along with seared herb marinated tempeh, Israeli couscous and chewy sun-dried tomatoes to make a filling salad. You don't have to sear the tempeh, however it just adds and extra layer of flavor to the salad.

Herb Marinated Tempeh and Israeli Couscous Salad with Sweet Peas and Sun-dried Tomatoes

For the marinated tempeh:

1 cup vegetable broth
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
8 oz tempeh, cut into cubes
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Combine all the ingredients in a small, lidded bowl and marinate at least 1 hour.

For the rest of the salad:

1 cup Israeli couscous
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup peas (freshly shelled or frozen)
5 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp agave nectar
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 scallion, sliced
salt and pepper, to taste
non-stick cooking spray

1. Bring the vegetable broth to a boil and cook the couscous according to package directions. In the last 3 minutes of cooking, stir in the peas.
2. Meanwhile, blend the oil, vinegar, agave nectar, basil, oregano, garlic, and scallions in a large bowl. Also, heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat, spray with cooking spray, and sear the tempeh; set both the dressing and tempeh aside.
3. Add the couscous-pea mixture to the dressing, along with any residual cooking liquid, as well as the sun-dried tomatoes; toss. Fold in the tempeh.
4. Allow the salad to come to room temperature before setting it in the fridge to chill. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Keeps for up to 3 days.

Servings per recipe: 4
Per serving:
Calories: 382
Fat: 9.9 g
Saturated fat: 1.9 g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Sodium: 404 mg
Carbohydrates: 53.5 g
Fiber: 6.2 g
Protein: 22.1 g

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Gingered Apple, Carrot, and Raisin Salad

Here is the first recipe to come from my farmers' market finds: a colorful carrot raisin salad using purple carrots and the French garden carrots. I've always loved carrot raisin salad. My mom happens to make a really good one with pineapple in it. I didn't have any pineapple, so I took the pine- off and just used apples. I made a sweet and sour apple cider vinaigrette flavored with lemon zest to add a floral scent and ginger for a peppery finish. You have to feel healthy eating something like this! It's a fragrant, refreshing addition to a summer meal. This would be perfect for a barbecue or picnic because this version doesn't have mayonnaise, which may go bad in the hot summer sun.

Gingered Apple, Carrot, and Raisin Salad

For the dressing:

3 tbsp vinegar
4 tsp agave nectar
1/2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

For the salad:

4 cups peeled, coarsely shredded carrots (any color)
2 coarsely shredded apples
3 oz raisins
4 tbsp chopped pecans
salt and pepper to taste

1. To make the dressing, blend the vinegar, agave, ginger, lemon zest, and some salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Dribble the oil into the vinegar mixture while whisking; set aside.
2. Add the carrots, apples, raisins, and pecans into a medium size bowl. Toss these ingredients with the dressing.
3. Let the salad chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 48 hours. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Servings per recipe: 6
Per serving:
Calories: 169
Fat: 5.7 g
Saturated fat: 0.6 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 53 mg
Carbohydrates: 31.6 g
Fiber: 3.1 g
Sugar: 24.6 g
Protein: 1.2 g

Farmers' Market Finds

This morning was the farmers market and I got a whole slew of beautiful, locally-grown produce. I took pictures of all my finds. I got two types of carrots. The stubby orange ones are called French garden carrots, and then I got some gorgeous purple ones (pictured right). I was so excited about the carrots that when I came home, I washed them up, and made them into a salad---even before I put the rest of the veggies away!

I got several leafy greens: some young red leaf lettuce (pictured left), arugula, and a new green I have never tried, tat soi (pictured below, right). Apparently, tat soi is supposed to taste like spinach. The leaves are a little thicker and waxier than spinach. I'm just going to have to give it a shot!

Of course, one can't live in Georgia without enjoying Vidalia onions! I got a big bag of those.

Finally, I got a quart of shelled sweet peas.

I already have one dish made from these finds. I can't wait to post some more! Stay tuned for recipes featuring these vegetables!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Revamped Cobb Salad

When I was little, my parents took me to one of the theme parks in Florida...I happened to be so young I can't remember which one! But, the particular park we went to happened to have a Brown Derby restaurant. I remember my parents ordering Cobb Salad, which is a signature dish at the restaurant which consisted of finely chopped ingredients: lettuce, cheeses, avocado, bacon, egg and a sweet and sour dressing. The salad was tossed table side along with a story of the origin, which if I recall correctly the salad was made because some old guy couldn't chew but wanted salad---I don't know. Anyway, I tried some and it obviously left an impression on me if I remember the salad but not the huge theme park I was at! (I guess I was a foodie already by the tender age of 8...)

Later on in life, I started making Susan Powter's Cobb Salad, which substituted low-fat cheeses, turkey bacon, and egg whites. It was pretty good too. My final spin on this salad includes all the usual Cobb Salad fixings, just lightened up and less chopped---this is an arranged salad, which looks beautiful but requires less chopping action on the cook's part. This is a great light meal and would travel well to work for lunch.

Revamped Cobb Salad

For the dressing:
1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tbsp oil
1 tsp honey mustard
1 tsp honey
salt and pepper to taste

For the salad:
2 cups baby spinach
1/2 tomato, sliced
1/4 avocado, sliced
2 cooled hard-cooked egg whites, cut into slivers
2 tbsp reduce fat blue cheese
2 strips Morningstar Farms vegetarian bacon, or other veg*n bacon, or turkey bacon

1. Add the vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper to the bowl. Here's a tip: rub your measuring spoon with a little oil, then measure in the honey. It will pour out cleanly when you add it to the previous ingredients. Blend those things together with a fork or small wire whisk, and then dribble in the oil as you continue with whisk. Set the dressing aside.
2. Make a bed with spinach onto a plate. Arrange the tomato, avocado, egg white, and crumbed bacon on top of the spinach.
3. Re-whisk the dressing and dribble a little bit onto each salad component. Serve immediately. If taking this for lunch, keep the dressing separate until serving.

Servings per recipe: 1
Per serving:
Calories: 293
Fat: 19.3 g
Saturated fat: 3.8
Cholesterol: 7.5 mg
Sodium: 582 mg
Carbohydrates: 13.9
Fiber: 6.1 g
Sugar: 6.2 g
Protein: 17.1 g

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Green Pea, Cauliflower, and Spinach Curry with Tofu

Final exams are finally over! The first thing I did after my last exam today was go grocery shopping so that I could get cooking and get some blog posts up!

Even though it's hotter than blue blazes already here in Georgia (or at least in my opinion it is), I was really craving some curry. One thing I wanted to try with curry was using tofu. Many curries feature a home style cheese called paneer, which is a simple cheese made in a similar style to tofu. Therefore, tofu would be a perfect substitute! Two popular paneer dishes are Muttar Paneer (Peas with Paneer) and Palak Paneer (Spinach with Paneer). I combined both of those ideas, substituting tofu for the paneer and added another one of my favorite vegetables, cauliflower, to make a filling, fibrous, delicious curry.

Green Pea, Cauliflower, and Spinach Curry with

4 cups fresh or thawed frozen cauliflower florets
2 tsp canola or vegetable oil
1 lb extra-firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup diced onion, any color
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
2 green cardamom pods
2 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
2 15-oz cans petite diced tomatoes
sugar, to taste
3 tsp garam masala
3 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
generous pinch of cinnamon
red chili flakes or powder, to taste (optional)
1 cup frozen peas, rinsed
2 cups torn fresh baby spinach
salt and pepper, to taste

1. If using fresh cauliflower, steam the cauliflower until mostly cooked; set aside. Otherwise, just set aside your thawed frozen cauliflower.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the oil. Pat the tofu dry with paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add the tofu to the skillet and cook until all sides are browned; set aside.
3. Reduce the heat in the pan to medium. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger as well as the cloves, bay leaf, and cardamom. Saute until the onions are translucent.
4. Add the turmeric and stir until the onions turn yellow. Add the tomatoes and cook them until most of the liquid is gone.
6. Add the garam masala, cumin, coriander, chili powder, cinnamon, and salt, pepper, and sugar to your taste. Stir to combine; add water for a thinner sauce and bring to a boil after adding the water.
5. Add the cauliflower, peas, and tofu and cook about 5 minutes or until the cauliflower is softened but still has its shape.
6. Finally, add the spinach and allow it to wilt.
7. Serve immediately with your favorite cooked rice.

Servings per recipe: 6
Per serving:
Calories: 147
Fat: 5.4 g
Saturated fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 168 mg
Carbohydrates: 17.6 g
Fiber: 6.3 g
Sugar: 8 g
Protein: 10.9 g
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