Archive | January, 2014

Healthy Peanut Butter Oat Granola Bars

31 Jan

The food we eat  should be as unprocessed as possible — this means no artificial ingredients, flavoring or processed sugar. I am starting to look more and more for ingredients that I know and recognize, like nuts, oats, fruit and whole-wheat flour. Sometimes I have no clue what an ingredient is (sodium caseinate or hydrogenated oil — huh?) I don’t want to eat it or feed it to my husband.                                                                                                  These thoughts left me on search for healthier granola bars. I want the bars to  have enough fiber and protein, so you’ll be able to make it through the morning without getting hungry. Nuts and seeds are natural sources of protein. You can keep these healthier and gluten and dairy free by not adding the dark chocolate chips. Also, the first time I made these I used honey, but it really does not need the extra sugar.

  • 2 and 1/2 cups regular oats
  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup dried  low sugar cranberries
  • 2/3 to 3/4 cup peanut butter or almond butter
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)

Mix oats, pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries and chocolate chips in a large bowl. Whisk together the nut butter, honey, and cinnamon in a separate bowl. Mix well, until the oat mixture is well-coated and everything is combined. If it feels dry add little more peanut butter. I used my hands to mix it instead of spoon. Press mixture into a 13 x 9 pan; that is lined with saran wrap. I used muffin tin. Press the mixture firmly into the pan, and cover with more saran wrap or foil. Refrigerate for at least 3 or 4 hours. Cut into bars. Bars can be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks. Store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

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Heirloom Tomato and Watermelon Salad

29 Jan

On my husband’s birthday we ate at a new restaurant, where I had a salad with heirloom tomato and watermelon. It was little too spicy for some, but I liked the idea behind it. For a friend’s birthday dinner tonight, I created my version of the salad. The combination of flavors was a nice surprise to the taste buds. I will make this now on at home, rather than ordering at the restaurant.

  • 3 cups of watermelon cut into small chunks
  • 2 heiroom tomatoes cut into wedges
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes and salt or seasoned spicy salt
  • olive oil
  • fresh basil chopped

Place watermelon and tomatoes in salad bowls. Season with basil, red pepper flakes and salt. Drizzle good quality olive oil on top.

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Buffalo Chicken Dip

28 Jan

Super bowl Sunday in America means loads of unhealthy appetizers. I changed up few things in this party favorite dish to make it healthier. I used can chicken, but to make it even healthier,  next time I will use fresh, cooked chicken. Not matter which team you are going for, don’t have any regrets Monday morning for eating too much fatty foods. Choose your appetizers right!

  • 8 oz fat free cream cheese, softened
  • 6 oz container of plain fat free creek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup Buffalo wing sauce
  • 1/2 cup fat free mozzarella cheese
  • 2 cans white meat chicken or 9 oz fresh cooked shredded chicken

Blend all of the ingredients together. Pour into 9 inch pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 min or until hot and bubbling. Stir. Serve with vegetable or crackers.

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Lemony Asparagus and Scallop

21 Jan

Here is a fast and tasty low calorie meal to start New Year with healthy eating. Asparagus is packed with nutrition and has only 4 calories per spear. It is loaded with vitamin K and cancer fighting antioxidants. Scallops are sweet and cook fast. This skillet dinner is quick and delicious. You can serve it over couscous or rice.                                                                                                               If you use thick asparagus spears, peel the stalks with a vegetable peeler.

  • olive oil or grape seed oil
  • 1/4 cup diced shallots
  • 1 glove of garlic, pressed
  • 1 tbs fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 2 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 pound of asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 1/4 pounds of scallops
  • 2 tbs fresh lemon juice
  • salt and pepper

Heat 2 tbs of oil in a large skillet on medium high. Add shallots and garlic and cook until soft. Add thyme, lemon zest and asparagus and cook, stirring until asparagus softens slightly. Stir in scallops, cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook 2 minutes and turn scallops and stir asparagus. Cover and cook 2 more minutes until scallops are opaque.  Drizzle with lemon juice and season with salt and fresh ground pepper.

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Tomato and Basil Bruschetta

21 Jan

Over the weekend we went to an authentic Italian restaurant and enjoyed delicious food. I typically avoid bread, but their brushetta looked so wonderful that I had to try it. Every bite was worth the extra few carbs I ate. This is my version of bruschetta. I made it last night for dinner guest, and everyone enjoyed this lovely tomato appetizers.

  • 6 or 7 ripe plum tomatoes (about 1 1/2 lbs)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 6-8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 Tbs thinly sliced green onion
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • thick slices of whole grain bread, toasted

Cut tomatoes in halves or quarters and remove the seeds and juice from their centers. Also cut out and discard the stem area.  It is best to use plum tomatoes because the skins are much thicker and there are fewer seeds and less juice. Chop the tomatoes and mix with rest of the ingredients. Top the toasted bread with tomato mixture. “Buon appetito!”

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This is the Italian wine we enjoyed at the restaurant and it was very nice. It was very reasonably priced wine as well.

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Blueberry and Cucumber Salad

15 Jan

This crunchy salad is refreshing and very healthy. Blueberries are like little vitamin pills with many health benefits. Nice thing about our modern grocery stores, we can get blueberries year around.

Dressing: Mix the following ingredients together

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 3 tbs white wine vinegar
  • salt
  • pepper
  • dash of cayenne pepper

Salad

  • pint of blueberries
  • cucumber, peeled and seeded, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 heart of romaine, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped mint

Toss all of the salad ingredient together with the dressing.

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Grape and Edamame Salad

14 Jan

After holiday season, everyone is trying to eat healthy. I wanted to come up with a tasty salad that would provide enough protein to be a main dish. Soybeans, edamame,  are the only common plant food that contain complete protein. Soybean protein provides all the essential amino acids in the amounts needed for human health. The amino acid profile of soy protein is nearly equivalent in quality to meat, milk and egg protein.      One cup of grapes, with about 100 calories, provides more than a quarter of the daily recommended values of vitamins K and C. Grape seeds, which are edible, are chock-full of antioxidants. This nutritious salad can be topped with cooked shrimp, scallops, chicken or avocado for a delicious dinner. I chose to sear scollops for our salads.                                                             Wishing you healthy start to New Year!

Dressing

  • 2 tbsp  white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ¾ tsp Dijon mustard
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground pepper

Mix all of the ingredients together.

Salad

  • 2 tbsp sliced almonds
  • 1 cup shelled cooked edamame
  • mixed greens
  • 1/2 cup seedless green grapes, halved
  • 1/2 cup seedless red or black grapes, halved
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 2 tbs chopped fresh basil and parsley
  • 1 tbs lemon zest

Toss the greens and herbs with dressing. Plate the greens and top with rest of the ingredients.

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