Archive for December, 2010

Layered Bean Dip

Dec 31 2010 by | Comments (2)
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Do you work in one of those places where at every holiday party potluck someone brings a layered bean dip? Refried beans, probably with lard, cream cheese or worse yet, Cheese Whiz. Don’t get me wrong, I know it is always a hit, but at what expense? Your health, that’s what. Here is a bean dip you can make to share with your co-workers or serve at your New Year’s Eve or Superbowl party and know it is all fresh and natural and even good for you.



  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (15.5 ounce) no salt or low sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo (be sure to check for added chemicals, preservatives and sugars), minced
  • 3 limes
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 2 cups tomatoes, seeded and diced (about 4 medium tomatoes)
  • 1/4 cup scallion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp ancho chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheese of your choice, (Like Manchego, Chihuahua and Queso Fresco, Queso Blanco, Oaxaca, Monterey Jack or White Cheddar.  Try Daiya for a vegan option.)


  1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and saute just until soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add 2 of the minced garlic cloves and saute for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

    Process beans and additional ingredients until smooth

  2. Place the can of black beans in a food processor and add half the onion/garlic mixture along with the chipotle pepper, juice from 1 lime (about 2 tbsp), cumin, water and 1/2 tsp salt. Process until smooth and set aside.

    Heat corn with the onion mixture until thawed and add cilantro

  3. Add the corn to the skillet with the remaining onion mixture and place on low heat for a couple of minutes or just until the corn is thawed. Stir in half the cilantro.

    Avocado mashed with lime juice

  4. In a small bowl or plate mash the avocado with the juice of the second lime. Set aside.

    Tomatoes mixed with additional ingredients

  5. Place the seeded and diced tomatoes (see note for seeding tomatoes) in a separate bowl and add the juice of the 3rd lime, scallions, remaining cilantro, red pepper flakes, remaining clove of minced garlic, ancho chili powder, remaining 1/2 tsp sea salt and pepper. Stir until mixed.

    Dip after all the layers have been added

  6. In an 8 x 8 glass baking dish, spread the bean mixture evenly over the bottom. Next spread the corn mixture over the beans. Repeat with the avocado and then the tomato mixture. Last, top with the shredded cheese and serve with tortilla chips. Dip in!

Nutritional Info:

Makes approximately 9 servings.

Serving size about 3-4 tbsp.

Nutrients per serving:  Calories: 253.5, Cal. from Fat: 126.5, Total Fat: 14g, Sat. Fat: 4g, Carbs: 22.5g, Fiber: 7.5g, Sugars: 4g, Protein: 10g, Sodium: 208.5mg, Chol: 13mg


In this dish it is best to remove the seeds from the tomatoes so that the tomato layer isn’t too wet. I find the easiest way to seed tomatoes to be to cut a core out of the center, turn the tomato upside down and then just gently squeeze until the seeds run out.

Leftover dip can be stored in the in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Baked Falafel

Dec 30 2010 by | Comments (2)
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Holiday parties or any event with hor d’oeuvres or snacks can really cause you to regret your participation the next day. Not these Baked Falafel. They are baked to a crispy golden brown and taste great. There’s nothing to regret after eating these tasty bites so you can still look yourself in the mirror the next morning and like what you see.



  • 1 can (15 ounce) no salt added chick peas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or Garlic Gold Oil
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour (for a gluten free falafel use a gluten free flour in place of the whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1 tsp baking powder


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

    Pulse several times scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed

  2. Place all the falafel ingredients except 1 tbsp oil in a food processor and pulse for 10-20 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and pulse again until all the ingredients are well incorporated but still slightly coarse and grainy. You may have to stop several times to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

    Form the mixture in balls

  3. Form the mixture into 16 balls, place them on a baking sheet (I line the sheet with foil for easier clean up). Flatten them down just a little and brush them with the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil.

    Press down to flatten slightly

  4. Bake for 20 minutes and then turn them over and bake another 20 minutes or until the falafels are crisp and browned.
  5. Serve immediately with Yogurt Dip or Tzatziki Sauce.

Nutritional Info:

Makes 4 servings.

Serving size 4 falafels.

Nutrients per serving:  Calories: 207.5, Cal. from Fat: 70, Total Fat: 8g, Sat. Fat: 1g, Carbs: 27g, Fiber: 5g, Sugars: .5g, Protein: 7g, Sodium: 138.5mg, Chol: 0mg


Leftover falafel can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.  These are best reheated in the oven at 350 degrees until heated all the way through.

Yogurt Dip

Dec 30 2010 by | Comments (0)
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I am not a huge fan of cucumber so when looking for a dip for Baked Pita Chips or Baked Falafel the traditional Tzatziki Sauce just wasn’t what I was looking for. I decided to work from the same base of yogurt but then add vegetables and seasonings that I like to make my own dip.



  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt or Yogurt Cheese
  • 1/4 cup onions, finely chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 – 3 tsp garam masala (I love this spice mix so I used 3 tsp but start with less and add more if you like)
  • 1 – 2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper


  1. Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl.
  2. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours before serving.

Nutritional Info:

Makes approximately 12 servings.

Serving size 2 tbsp.

Nutrients per serving:  Calories: 7.5, Cal. from Fat: 0, Total Fat: 0g, Sat. Fat: 0g, Carbs: .5g, Fiber: 0g, Sugars: .5g, Protein: 1g, Sodium: 4.5mg, Chol: 0mg


This dip can also be used as a marinade for chicken or fish. Just place the chicken or fish in a resealable bag or dish, cover and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour then cook using your preferred method.

Leftover yogurt dip will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Tzatziki Sauce

Dec 30 2010 by | Comments (2)
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Tzatziki sauce is a versatile yogurt based sauce that can be used for Gyro’s, Greek salads, souvlaki or as a dip for pita chips and falafel. It’s easy to make and to customize to your own taste. I like lots of lemon juice and dill and less cucumber but you can mix it up any way you like to suit yourself.



  • 2 cups plain low fat Greek yogurt or Yogurt Cheese
  • 1/2 English cucumber with peel, grated (about 1/2 – 3/4 cup)
  • 1 – 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 – 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped dill or 1 tsp dried
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper


  1. Whisk all of the ingredients together in a bowl until smooth.
  2. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours before serving.

Nutritional Info:

Makes approximately 40 servings.

Serving size 1 tbsp.

Nutrients per serving:  Calories: 10.5, Cal. from Fat: 5, Total Fat: .5g, Sat. Fat: 0g, Carbs: .5g, Fiber: 0g, Sugars: <.5g, Protein: 1g, Sodium: 15mg, Chol: .5mg


Tzatziki sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Homemade Candy Bars

Dec 29 2010 by | Comments (26)
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Bag of chocolate chips – $4.99.  Pack of peanuts – $3.99.  Getting your candy bar fix without cheating – PRICELESS!  Who would have ever thought you could eat a candy bar without any refined sugars or added preservatives?!  Not only is this candy bar completely clean but it’s less than 130 calories and only 4.5 grams of fat.  Be warned – it is really hard to eat just one!




  1. Place the dates and peanuts in a blender or food processor.  (If you are not using a food processor make sure you have a powerful blender – I use my Vitamix blender.)

    Place dates and peanuts in a blender or food processor

  2. Process until you have a smooth consistency.

    Press peanut mixture into the bottom of a glass baking dish

  3. Transfer the mixture to an 8 x 8 glass baking dish.  Using the back of a large spoon (or your fingers) to press the mixture into the dish to form the first layer.  If you have excess oil from the peanuts simply use a papertowel to absorb it. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl add the brown rice puffs and set aside.
  5. In a large saucepan add 1 cup brown rice syrup.  Heat on high until bubbles start to form (about 1 minute).  Remove from heat and immediately pour over the brown rice puffs.  Stir to combine and transfer to baking dish and pour on top of the peanut layer.
  6. Again, using the back of a spoon (or your fingers) press the brown rice puffs into the baking dish to form the second layer.
  7. In a small saucepan add the chocolate chips, 2 tbsp milk and 1 tbsp brown rice syrup (if your chocolate isn’t sweet enough for your tastes try adding in a tbsp more syrup until you reach the sweetness level you desire).  Heat on medium for about 3 minutes until the chocolate is melted and smooth (if the mixture is too thick add another tbsp of milk and stir to combine).  You will need to constantly stir the chocolate chips to ensure you don’t burn the chocolate.

    Pour melted chocolate on top and smooth with a spoon

  8. Remove the chocolate from the heat and immediately pour over the rice puff layer.  Coat the entire layer of rice puffs with chocolate and smooth with the back of a spoon (don’t use your fingers this time!)

    All 3 layers

  9. Place the baking dish in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.  Once the chocolate has hardened cut the candy bars into 1 x 2 inch pieces.

Nutritional Info:

Makes 32 servings.

Serving size 1 candy bar.

Nutrients per serving:  Calories: 129, Cal. from Fat: 39, Total Fat: 4.5g, Sat. Fat: 1g, Carbs: 21g, Fiber: 1.5g, Sugars: 12g, Protein: 2g, Sodium: 8.5mg, Chol: 0mg


For this recipe I used Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice cereal for the brown rice puffs.  They also have a gluten free variety that works perfectly!  Make sure that whichever brand of rice puffs you use that you check the ingredients list for added refined sugars, chemicals or preservatives.

The candy bars need to be stored in the fridge but can be taken out and left at room temperature for about 15 minutes if you prefer a softer bar.  I actually like them better cold but I’m a sucker for chewy candy.

Like I mentioned before – it’s really hard to eat just one.  While these are perfect for a candy bar fix and an absolutely great “cheat” while still being free of artificial ‘crap’, they should still be eaten in moderation.  If your will power is somewhat lacking and you’re likely to give in to temptation then try giving some away as treats to friends, family and co-workers.  What a better way to share the joys of healthy eating then by passing out candy bars!!!!  You can also make half a batch or try freezing them and taking only one out for dessert each day.

Make sure to use a gluten free chocolate chip, the coconut nectar and a gluten free rice puff cereal for a gluten free candy bar.

Holiday Rumaki

Dec 28 2010 by | Comments (4)
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Every year for New Year’s Eve I make rumaki.  Back in the day that meant using bacon and sugar.  With simple changes like pancetta instead of bacon and raw coconut crystals instead of sugar, I can still enjoy my rumaki and the tradition carries on!



  • 1 can (8 ounces) whole water chestnuts, drained
  • 3 ounces thinly sliced pancetta or prosciutto
  • 1 tbsp raw coconut crystals (you can also use date sugar)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup reduced sodium soy or tamari sauce


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place water chestnuts in a medium bowl.  Add enough soy sauce so that the chestnuts are covered.  Place in the fridge and let marinate for at least 30 minutes.  The longer they marinate the more savory they get.  After marinating, line a baking sheet with non stick foil.
  3. Wrap each water chestnut with a piece of pancetta, secure with a toothpick and place on baking sheet.

    Sprinkle each side with raw coconut crystals

  4. After wrapping all the chestnuts with pancetta sprinkle tops with raw coconut crystals.  Flip over and sprinkle the other side.

    Bake in the oven for 30 minutes

  5. Place chestnuts in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Nutritional Info:

Makes approximately 16 servings.

Serving size 4 chestnuts.

Nutrients per serving:  Calories: 149.5, Cal. from Fat: 33.5, Total Fat: 2g, Sat. Fat: .5g, Carbs: 15g, Fiber: 4.5g, Sugars: 1.5g, Protein: 7g, Sodium: 722mg, Chol: 7.5mg


This recipe can be prepared ahead of time and kept refrigerated until ready to bake.  You can also marinate the chestnuts overnight and continue on with step 3 the next day.

Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.  Reheat in the oven when ready to use.

Mini Pizza Bites

Dec 27 2010 by | Comments (2)
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I LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe.  It’s fun, bite sized and so yummy!  These mini pizza bites are the perfect little appetizer or hor d’oeuvres for a party or special get together.  The best part  – they are so simple and easy to make!  Enjoy!



  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup skim milk
  • 1 egg or 3 tbsp egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups Italian cheese blend
  • 4 ounces summer sausage, prosciutto or pancetta
  • 2 tbsp oregano
  • 1 cup marinara or pizza sauce
  • olive oil spray


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Spray a mini muffin tin (there should be 24 mini muffins) with olive oil.

    Combine ingredients in large bowl

  3. Cut the sausage into small bite sized pieces and place in a large bowl.  Add in the flour, baking powder, milk, egg, cheese and oregano. Stir thoroughly to combine.
  4. Spoon the batter into the mini muffin cups.
  5. Place muffin tin in the oven for about 15 – 18 minutes.  Remove mini pizza bites from muffin tin and serve with marinara or pizza sauce.

Nutritional Info:

Makes 6 servings.

Serving size 4 pizza bites.

Nutrients per serving:  Calories: 203.5, Cal. from Fat:  106.5, Total Fat: 12.5g, Sat. Fat: 5g, Carbs: 13g, Fiber: 2g, Sugars: 1.5g, Protein: 11g, Sodium: 546.5mg, Chol: 33.5mg


Any leftover pizza bites can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 – 3 days.

Winter Pear and Pomegranate Salad

Dec 24 2010 by | Comments (0)
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Pomegranates are such a work of art. Slice one open and the color and composition are so unique and beautiful you almost don’t want to disturb the gem like seeds inside. Almost, but not quite and luckily pomegranates are in season right now. They can be a little tricky to get at but check out my tip for cleaning a pomegranate.



  • 2 cups dark greens, such as arugala, spinach, mache, etc.
  • 1 cup shredded radicchio
  • 1 cup microgreens, or alfalfa, broccoli or other sprouts
  • 2 Comice pears, or whatever variety you have available
  • 1 cup walnut pieces, lightly pan toasted
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp stone ground mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Place the greens, radicchio, and micro greens in a bowl to gently toss together. Place one cup of mixed greens onto each serving plate.
  2. Core and slice the pears, arrange the slices in a spiral shape or other pretty design on top of each plate of greens.
  3. Next add 1/4 cup toasted walnuts and 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds to each serving.
  4. Place the olive oil in a small pan or skillet and add the minced shallot. Turn heat to medium and let the oil heat with the shallot to just infuse the flavors, not to saute, about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Remove pan from the heat and whisk in the molasses, white balsamic vinegar and the mustard. Drizzle over each salad plate while still warm.

Nutritional Info:

Makes 6 – 8 servings.

Nutrients per serving:  Calories: 255, Cal. from Fat: 128, Total Fat: 14g, Sat. Fat: 2g, Carbs: 10.5g, Fiber: 2g, Sugars: 7g, Protein: 3g, Sodium: 7.5mg, Chol: 0mg


This is a beautiful salad and is perfect for Holiday get togethers and parties.  It serves 6-8 people but can easily be cut in half for a smaller amount of servings.

Tip for cleaning a pomegranate

Dec 24 2010 by | Comments (0)

Pomegranates are a mysterious fruit. Cut one open and you will find hundreds of jewel like seeds that are both sweet and tart and bursting with flavor. Alas, they are also bursting with juice that will stain anything it touches. Try this trick for getting at those jewels without staining everything in sight.

Cut off the top, or crown of the pomegranate.

Slice the skin into 4 sections.

Place the sections in a bowl of water and while holding each section under water, gently roll the seeds out. The seeds will fall to the bottom of the bowl while the pith floats to the top.

Strain out the seeds and lay on a couple of paper towels to drain. If you are not using the seeds right away, let them dry completely before storing in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Seeds can be stored this way for up to 2 months.


Categories : Tips and Tricks
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Vegetable Stock

Dec 23 2010 by | Comments (0)
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Vegetable broth is the foundation for many of our soup or rice dishes. Making your own vegetable stock may take a little more time but it is easy and so worth it. You can make a large quantity, freeze it in individual containers and just thaw it out as you need it. By making your own stock you can vary the vegetables and herbs and therefore customize it to your own taste preferences.



  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 green onions or a small leek, rinsed and finely diced
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, unpeeled (unpeeled creates a milder flavor)
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 2 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 1 cup button or cremini mushrooms, cleaned and halved
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 2-3 sprigs flat leaf parsley
  • sea salt


  1. Add onions, garlic, pinch of sea salt and 1/2 cup water to a soup pot over low heat. Simmer 15 minutes.

    Simmer onions, garlic, salt and 1/2 cup water before adding additional ingredients to enhance their flavor

  2. Add the remaining vegetables, herbs, water and 1 tsp sea salt and bring to a boil.

    All remaining ingredients added to pot

  3. Reduce heat to low and cook uncovered, 1 hour.

    Straining the liquid from the vegetables

  4. Pour the stock through a strainer lined with cheese cloth. After the vegetables have cooled enough to handle, lift the cheese cloth and squeeze all the remaining liquid from the vegetables before discarding them.

Squeeze all liquid from vegetables before discarding them


Stock can be refrigerated for 1-2 days but can be frozen almost indefinitely.