Archive for October, 2010

Naked Hash Browns

Oct 30 2010 by | Comments (1)
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When I was pregnant with my daughter I never had morning sickness or any weird cravings except for IHOP.  I could have eaten there everyday!  My daughter just turned 4 this week and it got me thinking about good ‘ole IHOP.  My favorite part of an IHOP meal are the hash browns!  Although a potato is technically a healthy food I wanted to see if I could come up with a fun alternative.  Enter in Jicama, the unknown vegetable.  Jicama is a type of root vegetable that resembles a turnip and works great in a hash brown.  You can also use a Yucca Root if you can’t find Jicama.  No matter which you use, both make a delicious hash brown!



  • 1 large Jicama or Yucca Root vegetable
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or Garlic Gold Oil, divided
  • sea salt and pepper to taste


  1. Start by peeling your jicama the same way you would an apple – use a knife or vegetable peeler to remove the outer skin.

    Grated jicama

  2. Use a hand grater or cheese grater to shred the jicama.
  3. Heat a large skillet on medium heat.  Add 1 tbsp oil, onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent.

    Sauted the onions and garlic

  4. Add the remaining oil to the pan along with the jicama and cover for 10-15 minutes.  Flip the hashbrowns half way through cooking.

    Add oil and jicama to the pan

  5. Serve immediately and pancakes, waffles or your favorite breakfast meal!

Nutritional Info:

Makes 2 serving.

Nutrients per serving:  Calories: 311, Cal. from Fat: 65.5, Total Fat: 8g, Sat. Fat: 1g, Carbs: 57.5g, Fiber: 18.5g, Sugars: 10g, Protein: 8g, Sodium: 19mg, Chol: 0mg


This dish is best served right away.

The jicama will absorb the flavors of the onions and garlic.  If you are not a fan of those flavors then simply heat the pan, add the olive oil and jicama and season with your favorite herbs, cover and cook as above.


Mushroom Tomato Chowder

Oct 29 2010 by | Comments (2)
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What do you make when it’s the last day before your next trip to the market? The cupboards and refrigerator are looking bare. I have a couple of cans of diced tomatoes, some broth and 1 package of fresh mushrooms and an onion. Let’s make a chowder!  This soup uses ingredients you probably have on hand, is really quick and easy to make and it tastes like something from a restaurant. It’s really great with a grilled cheese sandwich too. Classic comfort food!



  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced (I use cremini-baby bellas, they hold up better in soups)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley (if you don’t have fresh dried will do)
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped basil (again, dried will do)
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour *see notes
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 4  cups low sodium vegetable stock
  • 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) organic fire roasted no salt diced tomatoes (regular tomatoes will do but the fire roasted add a wonderful flavor)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese of your choice (sharp cheddar, swiss or gruyere work great)


  1. In a large kettle, saute the onions and mushrooms in the olive oil until tender.
  2. Add herbs, then stir in the flour, salt and pepper.

    Add the stock and cook until thick

  3. Add the vegetable stock and cook for 2-3 minutes until thickened.

    Add the tomatoes and cook until heated all the way through

  4. Add tomatoes and heat through, don’t boil.
  5. Spoon into a serving bowl and garnish with 1/4 of the cheese or hold off on the cheese as a garnish and make cheese toasts or a cheese sandwich to go with your creamy yummy chowder.

Nutritional Info:

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrients per serving:  Calories: 223, Cal. from Fat: 98, Total Fat: 11g, Sat. Fat: 2g, Carbs: 21g, Fiber: 3.5g, Sugars: 5.5g, Protein: 7g, Sodium: 200mg, Chol: 4.5mg


I use no salt tomatoes and low sodium vegetable stock so I can control the amount of sodium that ends up in my food. The recipe indicates adding 1/2 – 1 teaspoon sea salt but only add the amount you need to enhance the taste of the ingredients.

Leftover soup can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.  You can also freeze the soup in individual freezer safe containers in the freezer for up to 6 months.

For a vegan soup simply replace cheese with a vegan cheese like Daiya cheese.  For a gluten free soup use brown rice flour in place of whole wheat flour.

Homemade Thousand Island Dressing

Oct 29 2010 by | Comments (0)
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Back in the early days of my marriage, my husband and I used to love hitting up the local Steak N Shake for some late night burgers and fries.  They had the best Thousand Island dressing I had ever tastes and mostly I used the fries as a way to transport the dressing to my mouth.  Looking back I can’t believe  I didn’t have a heart attack right there in the booth.  While this stuff was delicious, it was as unhealthy as you can get.  After a couple of unsuccessful attempts, I’ve managed to come up with a fantastic cleaned up recipe that is perfect for burgers, fries and Reuben Sandwiches!




  1. In a large bowl mix together all of the ingredients.  Yes, that is it!

Nutritional Info:

Makes 45 servings.

Serving Size 1 tablespoon.

Nutrients per serving:  Calories: 72, Cal. from Fat: 71, Total Fat: 7.5g, Sat. Fat: <.5g, Carbs: 0g, Fiber: 0g, Sugars: 0g, Protein: 0g, Sodium: 64.5mg, Chol: 3.5mg


Leftover dressing can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

For a vegan dressing make sure to use a vegan style mayonnaise and leave out the egg.

This recipe makes a thicker style dressing.  My main reason for creating it was as a spread for sandwiches.  If you want to use it as a salad dressing give it a quick pulse in a blender which gives it a dressing consistency.

Cliff’s Breakfast Cookie

Oct 27 2010 by | Comments (5)
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This cookie was designed for my son in law, Cliff. I guess you could say it’s a “designer” cookie.  Cliff used to be borderline diabetic and has literally changed his life (and lifespan) by changing his eating habits.  I think he would be the first to say he hasn’t had to give up eating good tasting food.  You certainly wouldn’t find him eating cottage cheese and tomatoes or snacking on celery sticks. This breakfast cookie combines some of his favorite tastes, spices, textures and sweeteners that are the most optimal for his nutritional needs and for anyone for that matter, and it’s a cookie……for breakfast……what more could you want?



  • 2 tbsp tapioca starch
  • 2 tbsp potato starch
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup raw shelled hemp seeds, finely ground (use a coffee grinder, food processor or blender to grind) or unflavored & unsweetened protein powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ginger
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup raw honey or coconut nectar
  • 1/2 cup plus 4 tsp neutral flavor oil (canola, sunflower, etc), divided
  • 1/2 cup unsulphured blackstrap molasses
  • 1/2 cup Naked Apple Butter
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp soft silken tofu
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup dried unsweetened (or apple sweetened) cranberries
  • zest of 1 orange (about 1/4 cup or less according to your taste)


  1. Whisk the flour, hemp seed, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom and sea salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl mix together the tapioca starch, potato starch, baking powder, water and 4 tsp oil. Whisk briskly until thoroughly combined and almost frothy. Add to that the remaining oil, honey, molasses, apple butter, vanilla and tofu. Stir until smooth.
  3. Pour the wet mixture into the flour mixture and stir until all flour has been incorporated.

    Add raisins, walnuts, cranberries and finely zested orange

  4. Add the raisins, walnuts, cranberries and finely zested orange stirring until combined.
  5. Once thoroughly mixed cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  6. When ready to begin baking the cookies, remove the bowl from the refrigerator and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  7. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper to prevent sticking.

    Drop by spoonfuls (heaping teaspoon or soup spoon size) onto the parchment lined cookie sheets

  8. Drop by spoonfuls (heaping teaspoon or soup spoon size) onto the parchment lined cookie sheets.
  9. Bake 10 minutes, remove from oven and lift the entire parchment paper of cookies to a cooling rack until cookies are completely cooled, remove from parchment and store in an airtight container.

Nutritional Info:

Makes 48 servings.

Serving size 1 cookie.

Nutrients per serving:  Calories: 106, Cal. from Fat: 42, Total Fat: 5g, Sat. Fat: .5g, Carbs: 14g, Fiber: 1g, Sugars: 7g, Protein: 3g, Sodium: 38mg, Chol: 0mg


These cookies freeze REALLY well!  Place them in individual snack bags and toss in the freezer or store a larger amount in one freezer bag.  Take cookies out about 15 minutes before you’re ready to eat them.


Caleb's Chocolate Cupcakes

Oct 27 2010 by | Comments (2)
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My grandson Caleb loves chocolate. He’s a lot like his mommy in that regard. He loves chocolate milk, chocolate banana bread, chocolate zucchini muffins, chocolate pudding and chocolate cupcakes. Here is the recipe for Caleb approved chocolate cupcakes.


Ingredients for Cupcakes:

  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 cup date sugar or raw coconut crystals
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup plain kefir
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 whole egg plus 2 egg whites

Ingredients for Chocolate Ganache:

  • 1/2 cup grain-sweetened chocolate chips
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons honey or coconut nectar

Preparation for Cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper cupcake liners.
  2. In a large bowl combine cocoa powder, 1 cup date sugar (save 1/4 for adding to eggs whites), flour, salt, and baking soda.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together kefir, 1/3 cup milk, oil, vanilla, and whole egg.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry. Mix until just combined.
  5. Place egg whites in a small mixing bowl. Whip with electric mixer until egg whites are foamy. Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup date sugar to whites. Continue whipping until medium stiff peaks form.

    Gently fold whites by thirds into cake batter with a spatula

  6. Gently fold whites by thirds into cake batter with a spatula.  Fill each of the 12 cupcake liners 3/4 full with batter.

    Fill each of the 12 cupcake liners 3/4 full with batter

  7. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cupcakes cool completely.
  8. Spoon 1-2 teaspoons chocolate ganache (see recipe below) over top of each cupcake.

    Caleb's Chocolate Cupcakes

Preparation for Chocolate Ganache:

  1. To make the glaze, place the chocolate chips in a heat-resistant bowl and microwave for approximately 1 minute, stir until smooth.
  2. Add the honey and milk and whisk to form a smooth, satin-like ganache.

Nutritional Info:

Makes 12 servings.

Serving size 1 cupcake.

Nutrients per serving:  Calories: 147, Cal. from Fat: 35, Total Fat: 4g, Sat. Fat: 1.5g, Carbs: 29g, Fiber: 3g, Sugars: 20.5g, Protein: 4.5g, Sodium: 66mg, Chol: 17.5mg


We served these cupcakes at a Halloween themed birthday party and they were a big hit.  Everyone enjoyed them – adults and kids alike!  They are less like a fluffy cake cupcake and more fudgy and thick.  If you are a chocolate lover you’ll be in heaven!

Baked Pears

Oct 26 2010 by | Comments (2)
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I’ve always liked pears, just never loved them like I do other fruit.  But when I saw these Asian pears at my local market they were too beautiful to pass up!

Asian Pears

Since I had no idea what I was going to do with the pears, I figured I should try a little first and maybe it would give me an idea.  HOLY GOODNESS!  This is now one of my favorite fruits!  It’s got a crisp, sweet juicy flavor that is unlike anything I’ve tasted before.  It was so good that I ended up eating an entire pear right then and there!  I didn’t want to make anything that would take away from the flavor of the pear so I decided to roast them and see how they turned out.  This is a VERY simple recipe but one that will take care of any sweet tooth out there!



  • 2 Asian pears (you can use any variety of pears or apples for this recipe)
  • 1 cup apple juice (I used apple cider and it was amazing!)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

    Cut off the bottoms

  2. Start by cutting off the bottoms of the pears – this is just to help them sit nicely in the pan and absorb the juices.

    Pears in baking dish with apple cider

  3. Place the pears in a glass baking dish and add 1 cup of apple juice.
  4. Bake the pears for 1 hour.  Every 15 minutes or so baste the pears with the apple juice.  After 45 minutes or so you will have a nice syrup that has formed around the pears.
  5. To serve, place each pear on a dish and drizzle the syrup on top.  ENJOY!

Nutritional Info:

Makes 2 servings.

Nutrients per serving:  Calories: 110, Cal. from Fat: 2, Total Fat: 0g, Sat. Fat: 0g, Carbs: 28g, Fiber: 4g, Sugars: 24g, Protein: 1g, Sodium: 12mg, Chol: 0mg


This is a fantastic dish to serve for holiday parties.  It’s so sweet and delicious and the perfect finish to any meal.  To make a larger quantity of roasted pears simply use a bigger baking dish and add an additional 1 cup of juice for every 2 pears added.

Spiced Cider

Oct 26 2010 by | Comments (1)
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Fall is so full of spicy goodness. I love the colors, smells and tastes of a crisp autumn day. Walking my doggie, Leo, at our favorite wooded park, crunching leaves underfoot and coming home to a nice hot cup of spiced cider. Wait, have you seen what’s in those packets of cider you purchase at the store?

Ingredients - Sugar, malic acid, maltodextrin, tricalcium phosphate, apple juice solids (sounds yummy!), caramel color, sodium citrate, ascorbic acid, natural and artificial flavors, spice extractive

I sure don’t want to drink any of that with all the sugar and chemical additives that are in there. Here is an easy recipe for spiced cider without sugar or preservatives and it’s delicious. It’s even really good mixed in with green (or other) tea for added antioxidant benefits.



  • 4 cups apple cider
  • 8 whole cloves
  • ½ tsp whole allspice (about 14 berries)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 orange
  • 1 to 2 tbsp raw honey or coconut nectar (optional)


  1. Put the cider in a heavy saucepan.

    Tie the cloves, allspice and cinnamon in a paper coffee filter

  2. Tie the cloves, allspice and cinnamon in a paper coffee filter and add to the pan.

    Add spices to cider in pan

  3.  Cut the orange into eight slices. Set aside four of the orange slices, add the remaining slices to the pan with the cider. For a sweet cider, add honey.

    Add orange slices to pan

  4. Warm the mixture gently over low heat. When hot, pour into mugs and garnish each with an orange slice. Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional Info:

Nutritional info not available at this time.


Store any leftover cider in the fridge for up to 3 days.

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Linda's Butternut Squash Risotto

Oct 25 2010 by | Comments (0)
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My sister Linda sent me this recipe for Butternut Squash Risotto. The original version has pancetta which she omitted because she said she liked the taste better without it. She also substituted onions for shallots which I did also, only because I didn’t have shallots at the time. I substituted the chicken stock for vegetable since I wanted a vegetarian version and I replaced the Arborio rice for pearled barley for just a little higher protein and fiber. I used olive oil for the butter (click here for tips on converting butter to olive oil) and reduced the parmesan to 1/2 cup to lower the fat content and was completely satisfied with the result but I’ll leave that up to each “chef” to decide for themselves. I hope my sister doesn’t mind my changes but that’s what cooking is all about, isn’t it? We take a recipe and make it just a little different to reflect who we are. Thanks Linda.



  • 1 butternut squash (2 pounds)
  • 5 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade (when using barley I find that 4-5 cups of stock is enough)
  • 1/2 cup minced shallots (I used one small onion instead)
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (10 ounces) or 1 1/2 cup pearled barley
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tsp saffron threads
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I used 1/2 cup)


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds, and cut it into 3/4-inch cubes. You should have about 6 cups.

    Roast squash for 25 to 30 minutes, tossing once, until very tender

  3. Place the squash on a sheet pan and toss it with 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, tossing once, until very tender. Set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in a small covered saucepan. Leave it on low heat to simmer.

    heat the olive oil and saute the onions (or shallots) on medium-low heat for 10 minutes

  5. In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, heat 3 tbsp olive oil and saute the onions (or shallots) on medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent but not browned. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with oil.

    Add rice and stir to coat

  6. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes.

    Add 2 full ladles of stock to the rice

  7. Add 2 full ladles of stock to the rice plus the saffron, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir, and simmer until the stock is absorbed, about 5 to 10 minutes.
  8. Continue to add the stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry, then add more stock. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 30 minutes total.
  9. Take the pan off the heat, add the roasted squash cubes and Parmesan cheese. Mix well and serve.

Nutritional Info:

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrients per serving:  Calories: 383, Cal. from Fat: 134, Total Fat: 15g, Sat. Fat: 3g, Carbs: 51g, Fiber: 8g, Sugars: 3g, Protein: 10g, Sodium: 212mg, Chol: 11.5mg


Leftover risotto can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

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Olive Oil Conversion Chart

Oct 25 2010 by | Comments (0)

I am lucky to have a local little store called The Olive Gallery nearby. They have many varieties of oil and vinegars. While I generally use  less expensive oils for most recipes, I wouldn’t be without the good olive oil and balsamic vinegar for salad dressing. This store also has the most helpful index cards with recipes and tips and recently I found this one for a recipe conversion chart from butter to olive oil.  When “cleaning up” a recipe I find this conversion chart very helpful.

Olive Oil
1 teaspoon
3/4 teaspoon
1 tablespoon
2 1/4 teaspoons
2 tablespoons
1 1/2 tablespoons
1/4 cup
3 tablespoons
1/3 cup
1/4 cup
1/2 cup
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons
2/3 cup
1/2 cup
3/4 cup
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon
1 cup
3/4 cup
Categories : Tips and Tricks
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Thai Lettuce Wraps

Oct 23 2010 by | Comments (6)
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The Cheesecake Factory.  Oh the memories I have from there.  Without a doubt my favorite restaurant pre-naked eating.  My husband and I made it our mission to go to The Cheesecake Factory whenever we traveled – we racked up quite an impressive list!  While it’s been years since I’ve been there I still can’t help but miss my favorite dishes.  Potstickers, Spicy Cashew Chicken, Crispy Beef and Thai Lettuce Wraps – YUM YUM!  Now don’t think just because you eat healthy that you still can’t have your favorite dishes.  I love taking my restaurant meals and making them healthy – not only do I get to eat yummy food but I have  the satisfaction of knowing that it’s good for me and I made it myself!!!  My favorite Cheesecake Factory meal is Thai Lettuce Wraps – here is my cleaned up version.



  • 6 medium to large butter lettuce leaves (also know as boston bib or just bib lettuce)
  • 8 ounces cooked skinless chicken breast, cut into thick strips (optional)
  • 1 large carrot, julienned
  • 1/2 cup bean sprouts
  • 1/2 cup brown rice noodles
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, sliced and quartered
  • 1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp raw honey or coconut nectar
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tbsp Savory Peanut Dipping Sauce


  1. In a small bowl mix together rice vinegar, honey and a pinch of sea salt.  Add cucumber and red onion.  Place in refrigerator for 1 hour.
  2. Fill a medium sauce pan about halfway with water.  Bring to a boil and add brown rice noodles.  Remove from heat and let the noodles sit for about 2 – 4  minutes or until they are tender.  Drain water and place rice noodles in a small bowl.
  3. Remove the hard stems from the butter lettuce and place on a large platter.  Place carrots and bean sprouts in small dishes and add to platter.  Remove cucumber mixture from refrigerator and position on platter.  Next add both the chicken and noodles to the platter.
  4. If you made your peanut sauce beforehand and it’s refrigerated you’ll want to warm it up a little.  Place in the microwave for about 10-15 seconds.  Add sauce dish to the platter.
  5. To serve your lettuce wraps, use one lettuce leaf and fill with carrots, bean sprouts, cucumber mixture, noodles, chicken and top with peanut sauce.

Nutritional Info for clean version:

Makes 2 servings.

Nutrients per serving:  Calories: 197.5, Cal. from Fat: 43.5, Total Fat: 4.5g, Sat. Fat: .5, Carbs: 30.5g, Fiber: 4g, Sugars: 6g, Protein: 6g, Sodium: 202mg, Chol: 0mg

Nutritional Info for original version:

Nutrients:  Calories: 1,536 , Total Fat: 6g, Sat. Fat: 5g, Carbs: 114g, Protein: 96g, Sodium: 2,346mg

Original version from The Cheesecake Factory


Most people would think that they are choosing a healthy meal when selecting lettuce wraps but as you can see from the nutritional info they couldn’t be more off.  With a whopping 1,536 calories you’ve eaten a days worth of calories in one meal!  I won’t even talk about the massive amount of sodium and protein!

The cleaned up version of these wraps make an excellent dish to serve at a potluck or special event.  They make a beautiful presentation and everyone can serve themselves with ease!