Pineapple, banana and spinach smoothieWe love smoothies with a capital L in our house. Almost every morning I whip one up while Juliet waits impatiently yelling “moonie! moonie!”.

I hope she always calls them “moonies”. 

I recently purchased some fresh pineapple from Whole Foods and it was a delicious addition to our smoothies. Pineapple added such a nice brightness and freshness. It was also a nice change from our regular strawberry, banana spinach smoothies.

This bright green smoothie was also perfect for St. Patrick’s Day earlier this week.
Pineapple, banana and spinach smoothiePretty straw from Target

I am always experimenting with smoothie combinations. When I’m on Weight Watchers I like smoothies made with water instead of milk because it keeps them at 0 points, which is awesome. For Juliet’s smoothies I always include milk and sometimes yogurt. If the smoothie doesn’t taste sweet enough I’ll add a little honey or pure maple syrup. The other day I made a simple banana, frozen strawberry, whole milk, yogurt smoothie and Juliet exclaimed “ice cream!”. It was thicker than the usual smoothie so I put it in a bowl with a spoon and she was one happy girl.

Pineapple, banana and spinach smoothie

Ingredients

3/4 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or regular milk)
1 banana
1 cup fresh or frozen pineapple
A couple handfuls of spinach
Few ice cubes

Preparation

Place all ingredients in a blender (if using a high powered blender like a Blendtec add the milk first, followed by the spinach, banana, pineapple and ice) and blend until smooth.

I have a Blendtec Designer Series blender and I love it. In a big way. Full review coming soon.

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Asian quinoa bowlI threw together this asian quinoa bowl the other week when I was focusing on being healthy and needed quick lunches for work. I made a batch of this asian quinoa and ate it for days for lunch. Typically I don’t like leftovers for that long, but this bowl is so tasty I didn’t mind.

This dish is also super healthy and very flavorful.  
Asian quinoa bowlBeauty of this recipe is that you can pretty much use whatever vegetables are in your fridge.

20 minute Asian quinoa bowl

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa
2 cups low sodium chicken stock (can also use water or vegetable stock)
1 can chickpeas, rinsed
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup fresh spinach or kale, chopped
1-2 Tablespoons chili garlic sauce (like Siracha)
1/4 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

Preparation

Rinse and drain quinoa thoroughly in cold water. Place quinoa and chicken stock in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer then cover and cook until all the liquid is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes. Add warm quinoa to a large bowl. Add the chickpeas, carrots, peas, spinach or kale and mix to combine.

In a small bowl add the soy sauce, garlic chili sauce, garlic powder and ginger powder and stir. Add to the quinoa and mix together to incorporate.

If you are planning to save for lunches, at this step just store in individual containers. It microwaves well.

If you are planning to eat immediately, add 1 Tablespoon to a large pan on the stovetop and add the quinoa mixture and saute to warm all the vegetables through.

Taste and adjust soy sauce and chili garlic to taste.

Add-in ideas include: edamame, chicken, shrimp, cilantro, green onions, peanuts.

4 comments

Chocolate graham crackersLast week Juliet and her cousin Chloe were having a play date. Chloe’s mom, Nikki left a coconut flour muffin for Chloe as a snack and I broke a small piece off for Juliet (she had organic animal crackers and they were sharing snacks. Have you ever noticed that toddlers will eat anything if their friends are eating it?). Juliet gobbled down that muffin and immediately said “more muffin more muffin!”.

I had never heard of coconut flour before. As a pretty avid baker, I probably shouldn’t be admitting that. I asked Nikki for the recipe and made a batch on Sunday.

Since I am obviously not an expert in gluten-free baking or coconut flour I did a little googling and this article was informative and helped me understand the benefits and nuances.
Chocolate graham crackersI found organic Bob’s Red Mill Organic Coconut Flour at Super Target for around $6.Chocolate graham crackersThese muffins are really tasty and Juliet likes them a lot. Surprisingly, so does Erik (he isn’t typically into baked goods). I’m always up for trying new ingredients so thanks to my sister-in-law, Nikki for introducing me to coconut flour. I’ll definitely be making these muffins again and I’ll probably try adding fruit, dried fruit, peanut butter, etc.

Coconut flour chocolate chip muffins (recipe slightly adapted from The Coconut Mama)

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup of coconut flour 
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 6 eggs (I use organic Simply Balanced brand from Target)
  • 1/2 cup of coconut oil, melted (I get organic coconut oil from Trader Joes)
  • 1/2 cup of honey (I use organic honey from Aldi)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 2/3 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
Preparation
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, mix all dry ingredients together and set aside.
In a another bowl, beat eggs and mix in melted coconut oil, honey and vanilla. Add dry ingredients until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips. Allow the mixture to sit for 3-5 minutes so the coconut flour can absorbed the liquid.
Scoop batter into prepared (greased) mini muffin pan. Fill each muffin tin 3/4 full of batter. 
4. Bake for 14-17 minutes. Remove muffins onto a cooling rack. Store in airtight container in refrigerator. 
4 comments

Banana chocolate chip donutsI know it’s the New Year and I think that means I’m supposed to be talking about green smoothies but instead I’m talking about donuts. Don’t worry, they’re baked.

Like most, I’m ready to take a break from the indulgences that the holidays bring. But instead of launching into a super strict New Year’s diet I’m trying out basic moderation for a change. Which means I can eat donuts. In moderation. And besides, these donuts are actually pretty healthy. They are made with bananas and yogurt. Well and sugar, but only moderate sugar.

Juliet adored these donuts. She took one bite, gave me a huge smile and yelled “YUMMY!”. To me, that equals baking success.
Banana chocolate chip donutsI baked mini donuts because they are damn cute and it helps with portion control.  Banana chocolate chip donuts Banana chocolate chip donutsBanana chocolate chip donuts (recipe adapted via Janie’s Kitchen)

Ingredients

2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup plain yogurt (I use organic whole plain yogurt)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet mini chocolate chips)

Topping (optional)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar

Preparation

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, combine the mashed banana, sugar and yogurt. Mix until combined.

Add in the melted butter, eggs and vanilla. Mix until incorporated.

Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix just until combined (be sure not to over-mix).

Fold in the chocolate chips using a spatula.

Fill a large ziplock bag (or a piping bag if you have one) with the batter and close. Snip a small piece off the corner.

Grease a donut pan (I used this mini donut pan from Wilton) and pipe 3/4 full with batter in each mold.

Bake 11-13 minutes. Remove from the pan and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.

For the sugar topping, brush the top of each donut (one at a time) with butter and dip in a bowl with the sugar. I love the extra sugar topping because it makes each donut sparkly and pretty and extra sweet. But, they certainly taste great without and for little ones that don’t need to get hyped up on sugar, it would probably be best to omit this step.

Makes about 35-40 mini donuts.

8 comments

Chickpea greek pitaOne of my favorite meals to cook for an easy, weeknight dinner is this chicken souvlaki. I’ve recommended it to a few friends and it always receives rave reviews. The flavors are bold with the briny kalamata olives balanced nicely with the cool cucumber sauce.

The other day I gave the recipe a try but instead of chicken I substituted chickpeas. Using (organic) canned chickpeas makes this easy recipe even easier (and a little lighter). I really enjoyed it and not only is it a healthy meal, but an affordable one. You can pick up a can of chickpeas for about $1.50. To all my vegetarian friends, make this! You will love it.
Chickpea greek pitaChickpea Greek pita (recipe adapted via Real Simple)

Ingredients

4 pieces flat bread or pitas
2 tomatoes, cut into wedges
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
3/4 cup crumbled Feta
1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (I use organic)
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 small cucumber, diced
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh dill

Directions

Heat oven to 200° F. Wrap the bread in foil and place in oven.
In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, onion, Feta, and olives.

In a large bowl, combine the oregano, thyme, pepper, 1 ½ teaspoons of the vinegar, and the lemon juice. Slowly add 4 tablespoons of the oil, whisking constantly until incorporated.

Pour 2 ½ tablespoons of the vinaigrette over the tomato mixture, toss, and set aside.
Add the chickpeas to the remaining vinaigrette, toss and set aside. If you would like to warm the chickpeas place in a microwave safe bowl and heat for one minute. They can also be served at room temperature. 

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the yogurt, cucumber, dill, and the remaining vinegar. Spread the pita with the yogurt sauce and top with chickpeas and tomato salad.

Alternatively, you can heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet and heat the chickpeas in a pan for about 5 minutes. They will begin to crisp a bit and heat through. I was lazy and didn’t do this, but may try it the next time I make this dish. 
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healthy shrimp pastaThis recipe isn’t exactly a winter appropriate dish, but I made it regardless and enjoyed it very much. It came highly recommended from my friend Emily, who always has the best recipes saved from her monthly consumption of epicurean magazines. And in the spirit of lighter recipes post Thanksgiving, this qualifies nicely.

When I make this dish again, I will substitute plain yogurt, or greek yogurt, for the mayonnaise. I liked it with mayo, but I’d like to try it with yogurt to make the dish even lighter. This made a great dinner for Erik, Juliet and I and it was also great leftovers to take to lunch. In addition to dinner, this would be the perfect dish to bring to a summer BBQ. That’s hard to imagine right now as we are facing a winter storm here in MN, but it’s just 6 months away right?

Pasta with peas, shrimp and buttermilk-herb dressing (recipe adapted via My Recipes)

Ingredients

8 ounces uncooked pasta (any noodle works)

  • 1 cup frozen green peas (can substitute edamame for peas)
  • 1/2 pound medium shrimp, cooked (I buy already cooked shrimp to keep things easier)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced radishes
  • 1/3 cup reduced fat mayonnaise (or try plain yogurt)
  • 1/4 cup fat-free buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill (I used dried, about 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • garlic cloves, minced

  • Preparation
  • 1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Add peas last 2 minutes of cooking. Remove from heat and drain.
  • 2. Combine pasta mixture, shrimp and radishes in a large bowl. Combine mayonnaise, buttermilk and remaining ingredients in a small bowl; stir well. Pour over pasta mixture, tossing to coat. Cover and let stand 20 minutes. Serve at room temperature, or cover and chill until ready to serve. 

  • Note, since the garlic is raw, I found it a bit overpowering, so next time I will cut the amount of garlic in half.
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