Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Raspberry Almond Pancakes

I love blender pancakes! These are chewier and just have a great texture without being too heavy and dense since you don't use flour. Also, because everything goes in the one blender cup, there is very little mess. I usually double the batch. My blender cup is extra big. We make the pancakes, the nuts, then layer the pancakes with some honey greek yogurt, rasperries, and top with a little syrup.

I follow the blender pancake recipe from my cousin Joy’s cookbook, but just substitute a couple of things.

1 cup milk (I generally use rice milk)
1 cup spelt or wheat kernels, whole & uncooked
2 eggs
2 t baking powder
½ t baking soda
¼ t salt
2 T applesauce (or oil)
4 T honey or agave

Put milk and wheat kernels in blender. Blend on highest speed for 4 or 5 minutes. Unless you have a Blendtec or Vitamix. In that case, 30 seconds or so will probably do.

Add eggs, applesauce, baking powder, baking soda, salt and honey or agave, then blend again until smooth.

Pour out batter into pancakes onto a hot greased griddle. Cook, flipping pancakes when bubbles start to form and then pop on top of the pancakes.

Spread with greek honey yogurt (or plain would be fine too) candied almonds, raspberries and maple syrup. Yum!

Candied almonds or pecans:

1. Chop 1 cup raw almonds or pecans with a food chopper (or a knife, but be careful or they’ll be all over your kitchen)
2. lightly grease a nonstick pan (I rub coconut oil on the pan with a paper towel)
3. Add 2 T of maple syrup to the pan, and mix in the almonds and a dash of salt if you’d like
4. Stir constantly over medium heat until light brown.

We like making these for birthdays or special occasions. They are probably not all that low calorie once you add the syrup and nuts. But if you eat them with just strawberries or raspberries and greek yogurt, they are pretty good. If you cut down the sweetener, they are only about 908 calories per batch, which is approximately 50 calories per pancake, depending on the size. I usually double the batch and freeze some. Here is what I got from my double batch:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pressure Cookery

We've been wanting a pressure cooker for years, but it seemed so foreign and hard. I really didn't know where to begin to figure out what type to buy, or how to use it. And besides, I'd heard they were kinda pricey and my stovetop bean cooking method was working just fine--except when I burned them. Then it was really stinky.

Last year, my sister-in-law Tiffany bought a Cuisinart electric pressure cooker from Amazon and just raved about it. I was about to buy one when I saw that Costco started carrying it--for like $50 less than what other stores sell that model for. It did take me a little bit to familiarize myself with it. It is really so easy, but sometimes changing my routine is hard. I use it several times a day sometimes now. It is such a great way to make healthy, cheap, fast food.

The best thing about the pressure cooker is that it can take whole grains and legumes and cook them in just a fraction of the time that it would take on the stove, and I don't have to watch the pot at all. The speed has helped me to have the ability to cook something quickly when I am dropping my kids off at practices, and when our evenings are busy and I haven't planned ahead.

I love being able to wake up at 7:00am, put a cup of millet, a cup of steel cut oats, 4 cups of water in the pressure cooker. Set it for 8 or 9 minutes then go out for a run. When my kids come down for breakfast, their cereal is hot and ready. This makes for a leisurely morning. Millet was my favorite cereal from childhood. Unfortunately it takes forever to cook. So I was so happy that I can enjoy it now without all the effort.
My kids love hot cereal. I love how cheap and filling it is. I think we figured out that it is less than 10 cents per serving. Food doesn't get much cheaper than that.

It is similar to a crock pot in that you don't have to watch the stove. But it is much, much faster. This faster cooking preserves more nutrients. Plus, it has a saute feature so you can brown meat, carmelize onions, etc, all with just using the inner pot of the pressure cooker. Fewer dishes is always good.

I cook black beans in 28 minutes(no soaking required), split pea soup took 8 minutes, and really great fluffy yummy potatoes cook in 12, artichokes in 8. The potatoes are Jared's favorite. We quarter the gold potatoes from Costco, stick them in the pressure cooker with a couple cups of water. Cook for 12 minutes. Then he mashes them and adds greek yogurt and seasoning. They are the fastest and best mashed potatoes. They don't get as gluey from the starch in the water.

Last year we watched the movie Food Inc. I thought it was a great show and very interesting. One part that I don't know if I agree with is that it is cheaper to feed kids burgers than to prepare something at home. Sure, produce is pricey. But we have the same options here as the rest of the world that feeds their families for pennies a day. Rice, beans, lentils, bread, tortillas, potatoes, etc. All of those things are still really, really cheap, and eaten in the right quantities and with some fresh food are affordable to most everyone.

I just saw that Costco is carrying the pressure cookers again for fall. I think it is a good investment at $69. It comes with a recipe booklet. Some of the recipes look really good. Lentil soup, Pasta e Fagioli, Mushroom Barley Soup, etc. They look great! I was happy to learn a few new recipes for my pressure cooker in my class with Chef Brad at Education Week. He shares some of them here.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mesquite Chicken with Mango Salsa

If you haven't tried the delicious combination of lime and chili with Mango, you need to try this recipe. I spent a couple of summers in Mexico and always loved to get the mango with lime and chili from the fruit carts on the street. It may sound odd to add chili to fruit but it is soooo good. And the lime just makes it.

I love this fresh mango salsa with mesquite grilled chicken. You can make this into an amazing salad if you top a bed of lettuce greens with this chicken and mango salsa, and a little avocado and lime. But tonight we went with the whole chicken breasts and cilantro rice.

I use McCormick's Mesquite Marinade and follow the directions on the package. It is just 1/4 C oil, 1/4 C water. I put 4 chicken breasts in a big ziploc with the marinade for a couple of hours in the refrigerator. Then send my husband out to grill it. Easy.

Mango Salsa:

3 Large Mangos
1/2 red bell pepper diced
1/4 cup diced onion
2 limes
3 T chopped cilantro

Slice mango down both sides of the pit.

Score each of the halves both ways like this:

Then pop open like this and slice off squares into your bowl.

Add other vegetables and juice of 2 limes. Add lime and chili to taste. This is what the lime and chili seasoning looks like. This one is from Mexico. They usually carry a lime and chili seasoning in the Mexican food aisle in Wal-Mart or at any Mexican grocery store.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Chicken Broccoli Casserole *without the cream of chicken soup.

Some people hate Disney, others hate Walmart(can't blame them), but I hate cream of whatever soups.  I absolutely will not ever use them.  Loaded with MSG, oil, sodium and who knows what else - if a recipe calls for them - I don't even consider it.  I know, I'm a snob.

So today, with a surplus of broccoli in my fridge I thought a broccoli casserole would be just the way to go only to discover that EVERY recipe under the sun requires the use of some can of creamed soup.   Still wanting the casserole, I knew it was time to figure out how to make my own cream of chicken soup.  So with this recipe for cream of chicken soup in hand, I made a good old fashioned broccoli casserole without too much guilt or MSG! 

I love the cream of chicken recipe from Apartment Therapy's kitchn site.  It seriously took like a minute and a half.  And here is my completely made up and RIDICULOUSLY yummy recipe for

Broccoli Chicken Rice Casserole:

1 C Brown Rice
1 Chicken Breast - salt and peppered
1 large head of Broccoli - chopped up to smallish pieces - abt 4 cups
2 - 3 cloves of garlic - minced
1 yellow bell pepper - diced
Salt & Pepper and other spices to taste(I dashed in some dried basil and oregano)
A double recipe of cream of chicken soup
3(ish) cups of sharp cheddar - grated
1/2 C Wheat Germ

Start cooking one cup of brown rice in 3 cups of water first - this will take about 45-50 minutes so start early.   Next add some butter and olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium high heat.   Add your chicken breast and cover with a little bit of tin foil and cook until no longer pink - about 6-8 minutes per side.  Remove your chicken and leave the drippings - and add a little more oil to the pan.  Add your garlic - cooking for about 30 seconds and then add the broccoli, peppers, salt and pepper and spices and a little bit of water - stir and cover for about 5 minutes until slightly softened and quite flavorful.   While it's cooking dice your chicken breast up and  put it in a large bowl.  Once your veggie mixture and rice are done - throw them in as well as the 2 cups of the cheese and the soup and stir it all together.  Lightly spray a 9 x 13 casserole and put the mixture in.   Top with the remaining cheese and the wheat germ and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes until the cheese is melted and a little golden.  And then prepare yourself for a ridiculously good and pretty darn healthy comfort food for dinner!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Black Bean Vegetable Soup

My sister-in-law got this from Allrecipes and I am in love with this soup. It is simple and healthy and has a great flavor. The recipe calls for canned beans. I like to make my own beans and freeze them for soups. They are firmer and less slimy and I can add my own spices. I have a new pressure cooker and have been cooking my beans in that and they are done in 30 minutes. So that is another option if you have a pressure cooker. We added lime, cilantro, a little plain yogurt, and tortilla strips to make it more like a tortilla soup.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 carrots, chopped
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 cups vegetable stock (I just use my chicken base from Costco)
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (8.75 ounce) can whole kernel corn
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes (I like crushed tomatoes instead)

1. In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat; cook onion, garlic, and carrots, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until onion is softened. Add chili powder and cumin; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add stock, 1 can of the beans, corn, and pepper; bring to boil.

2. Meanwhile, in food processor or blender, puree together tomatoes and remaining can of beans; add to pot. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until carrots are tender.

This tastes
164 calories, 3 grams fat per serving. I like to double this one too.

Chicken Noodle Soup

I love this soup! It is loaded with veggies and has hearty whole wheat noodles. I love to make a big batch and use the leftovers for the kids lunches. Half the recipe if you don't want a lot leftover. It makes 15 cups of soup.


12 cups water
8 t Chicken Better than Bouillon (Costco)
2 frozen or fresh chicken breasts
1 lb whole wheat pasta noodles. I use fusilli
26 oz chopped tomatoes
2 cups chopped carrots
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn
1 chopped onion
4 cloves garlic
1 T italian seasoning
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
cracked pepper and salt to taste

Add 1 t olive oil, chopped onions and garlic to a large pot and saute until onions are translucent. Next add tomatoes,1 T italian seasoning, water and soup base(Better than Bouillon)to the pot and bring to boil. Add whole chicken breasts to water and let boil. Chop other ingredients while chicken is cooking. Remove chicken and dice chicken. Add back into the pot. Add pasta, carrots, peas, corn and parmesan cheese to pot and let cook for about 13 minutes or until pasta is tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes 15 cups of soup. Each cup is about 155calories.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Did you know that popcorn is actually a really good snack idea?  We eat tons of it around here.  Here is some info on the health benefits of popcorn:
     A new study carried out at the University of Scranton showed that popcorn has some surprising health benefits. Popcorn is high in antioxidants, most notably, polyphenols – a group of natural plant chemicals that have a variety of health benefits. Polyphenols are the same group of compounds that give red wine, tea, olive oil, and chocolate their beneficial properties. Not only do they scavenge free radicals and protect against cell damage, they’re being investigated for their anti-cancer properties and heart protective properties. In fact, the researchers found that the polyphenol content of good, old-fashioned popcorn rivals that of many fruits and vegetables.
     Another health benefit of popcorn? It’s a whole grain in the same league as oatmeal, barley, brown rice, and millet – grains that are known for their health benefits. All of these grains retain the bran and germ of the plant which is the source of most of the vitamins and minerals - in contrast to refined grains where these vitamin-rich components have been stripped away. Three cups of popcorn is equivalent to a single serving of a whole grain food. Popcorn is also a good source of fiber which helps to increase satiety and give a sense of fullness and satisfaction that lasts for hours. This can be helpful for weight control since popcorn without butter is low in calories.
Though popcorn is my snack of choice, I am really really REALLY against microwave popcorn.  Ok, so maybe I overstated that a bit but I just can't bring myself to buy it.  It's sooo overpriced, it's REALLY awful for you, and it makes your house smell like fake "popcorn scent" for days.   I know, my horse has gotten so high I just might hurt myself.  Really though,  here is some interesting info I found on another site about microwave popcorn:
      A report from the FDA indicates that a chemical coating used in microwave popcorn bags breaks down when heated into a substance called perfluorooctanoic (PFOA). The Environmental Protection Agency has identified PFOA as a “likely carcinogen.” Another study has found an acid that can be extracted from the chemical causes cancer in animals and is “likely to cause cancer in humans.”
       A second potential danger in microwave popcorn is diacetyl, an FDA-approved chemical found in the fake butter flavoring. There’s even a debilitating respiratory disease called “popcorn workers lung,” (the medical name of the condition is bronchiolitis obliterans) suffered by microwave popcorn factory workers caused by extended inhalation of the chemical’s fumes. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, (NIOSH) concluded that diacetyl needs further study so that workers in the flavorings and snack industry are no longer at risk

  And now that I've gotten you good and scared about eating it anymore let me tell you some other options.  First off, you can cook it in a little oil on your stovetop.  There's some instruction for that here.

Or did you know that you can make your own microwaveable popcorn with a cheap paper bag?  Click here to read more about that.

Or you can use my method of choice - the air popper.

We own a simple air popper that we got at the grocery store and we are totally happy with it.  Even though it's loud, here's what I like aboutit - I can make a serious amount of popcorn instead of the small amount I'd get in a bag.  I've got four boys so that is important to me.   Second, I can pour the popcorn in and walk away.  I don't have to worry about anything burning or scorching or being undercooked.  The popped kernels fly out and the old maids that take a little longer stay in until they're ready.  And lastly, it's a clean slate - I can add or not add oil, salt, or other flavorings.

Our favorite way to eat popcorn is to drizzle on some extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle some nutritional yeast flakes on and add a little salt.  Nutritional yeast is a heavy hitter when it comes to nutrition and it gives the popcorn a really good savory flavor that my kids go nuts for.   And for a sweet treat just like Kettle Corn but much healthier try drizzling on some maple syrup and a dash of salt.
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