Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite foods. Roasted, mashed, braised, stewed – I’ll take them any way I can get them. And that’s a good thing because they’re brimming with fiber and powerful antioxidants, like beta carotene. On a recent Saturday, I decided to get creative and make gnocchi with a couple of HUGE sweet potatoes I had on hand. What a delight! The dough comes together in a snap and the only time-consuming (but fun) part is rolling it out and cutting it into little puffy balls of pasta. After I boiled them for a few minutes, I simmered the sweet and tender morsels in a mixture of broth, butter, sage and maple syrup. The sweet ingredients brought out the sweetness of the sweet potatoes and the savory ingredients (Parmesan cheese, sage, nutmeg) made the perfect contrast. I think you’re gonna love this recipe! Let me know!
I always have a bottle of liquid smoke in my refrigerator. Why? Hickory or mesquite, both are amazing and add tremendous flavor in one small shot (like 1 teaspoon). I like the simple ingredient list: water, natural smoke flavor (mesquite or hickory), vinegar, molasses and caramel color. The hickory has a little added salt, but just 10 mg of sodium per teaspoon. These are all-natural ingredients that truly catapult a meal without changing good nutritional numbers (many times, a smoky, BBQ flavor means lots of added salt). Check out how I use liquid smoke to jazz up these burgers. Enjoy these tonight and then experiment by adding liquid smoke to your favorite chicken, beef, pork and shellfish recipes.
Have you noticed the influx of flatbreads at the grocery store? In my town, the wafer-thin, soft breads have taken over the deli section and they’re available in a wide variety of flavors, textures and shapes: from white to whole grain, soft, flavored and light. All variations are amazing and they make the ideal base for pizzas, wraps and folded sandwiches. Most flatbreads have no saturated fat and most provide a good source of whole grains and fiber (8 grams per serving). Never one to stick to the ordinary (or the suggestions on a label), I decided to use soft flatbreads to create mock sushi. Mock “Mexican” sushi with all the ingredients you would find in your favorite layered dip – refried beans, guacamole, salsa and sharp cheddar cheese. Thanks to the flatbread AND the beans, there’s a whopping 17 grams of fiber per serving. This fun dish is colorful, nutritious and makes a great presentation. I promise, you will FLAT OUT love it.
Don’t you love the look of this colorful side dish? I adore roasted fingerling potatoes and I make them all the time. Recently, I bought a huge bag of the fingerling medley so I decided to try something new – boiled instead of roasted and smashed instead of whole (I love the combination of colors – purple, red and gold – that’s why I smash them slightly, not completely, so their colors shine through). The crowd (AKA, my family) went wild!
Nutritionally, fingerling potatoes are a good source of potassium, an important mineral used to regulate the fluid and mineral balance in cells, which helps maintain normal blood pressure. Potatoes are also rich in the vitamins C (a powerful antioxidant that prevents cell damage from free radicals, aids collagen production and assists with iron absorption) and vitamin B-6, which helps metabolize protein and carbohydrates.
Cheese fries and healthy eats aren’t mutually exclusive. At least not the way I make them. Sure, you can get cheese fries loaded up nacho-style, but bear in mind, one serving dishes up to 800 calories, 50 grams of fat and 2/3 of your sodium for the day (a whopping 1,000 mg). Considering one medium Russet potato has about 140 calories and is virtually fat and sodium free, that’s a heaping pile of lard on top of otherwise healthy spuds.
Not to worry, I’ve got your back. First, I bake the potatoes until golden brown and then I top them with shredded pepper jack cheese and fresh salsa (I prefer fresh salsa from my favorite Mexican restaurant or the produce section of the grocery store). You can also get crazy and top the potatoes with homemade chili (regular, turkey, vegetarian), and feel free to swap out the pepper jack for aged white cheddar. You can even top the whole concoction with sliced (jarred) jalapenos and sliced black olives.
Bread pudding is warm comfort food that can be served for breakfast, brunch and even dessert (my boys enjoyed decadent chocolate bread pudding at recent dinner buffet). And because it’s incredibly easy to prepare, you should keep a good “wow them” recipe in your arsenal.
This recipe is particularly great for the holidays because the season often brings overnight guests – with this version, you can prep ahead and bake the bread pudding the next morning while the coffee is brewing. The cinnamon-laced, moist French bread is embellished with mixed dried berries; I chose a blend of cherries, blueberries and cranberries because I like their sweet and tart chewiness. You could easily use just one variety of berry or use raisins or currants. You can even add semi-sweet chocolate morsels.
Regular bread pudding can have over 500 calories, 20 grams of fat and 700 mg of sodium per serving. By choosing fat free milk and fat free sweetened condensed milk, and by swapping 2 egg whites for 2 whole eggs, I was able to shave 100 calories and 300 mg of sodium per serving and I got the fat down to just 2 grams per generous portion.
Hooray for grapefruit season! There’s no question that the pink and red grapefruit varieties add a burst of sunshine during the shorter, darker and colder days of winter. One recent morning, my son Kyle decided he wanted to play “Chopped” for his breakfast. I closed my eyes while he selected a pink grapefruit, hot sauce and a Ding Dong (yes, I keep those in the freezer for sweet cravings). I halved the grapefruit, sprinkled the flesh with light brown sugar and cinnamon and then broiled it until the sugar was bubbly and golden brown. I nestled the halves on a white plate, drizzled the hot sauce in a decorative circle around the edge of the plate and then sprinkled little pieces of the Ding Dong into the hot sauce (I figured it was a deconstructed mole sauce). Kyle adored it all!
I’m not suggesting you serve your family hot sauce and Ding Dongs for breakfast, but the broiled grapefruit was amazing. Nutritionally speaking, red and pink grapefruits are crammed with vitamins C and A. In fact, one serving of grapefruit contains about 78% of your daily recommended vitamin C intake and 53% of your daily vitamin A recommendation.
I invented this bundt cake recently for my sons and a bunch of their friends. We were having a sleepover and I wanted something easy and quick to serve for breakfast the next morning (we had an early outing planned and I knew it would be a mad dash for all). I baked the cake on Saturday, wrapped it tightly in plastic wrap (after it cooled) and then served it bright and early the next day. If you plan to do the same, sift the confectioners’ sugar over the top just before serving. It’s an amazing treat for kids and adults alike.
Keep this recipe in your back pocket this winter – it’s an excellent breakfast or brunch for visiting house-guests and it makes a fabulous hostess gift for a holiday party. Your friends will like knowing that it’s a lightened-up cake, made healthier by using low-fat yogurt instead of sour cream and light butter instead of regular butter or margarine. To jazz things up, you can also add 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans to the cinnamon-sugar, swirl layer.
The noodles have multiple names – cellophane, long rice, rice stick, glass – all referring to the same long, gelatinous noodles found in Chinese and Southeast Asian cooking. They start out white and once softened, become almost translucent. Used in soups, stir fry, salads and desserts, cellophane noodles actually have very little flavor of their own, BUT they act as sponges and soak up the flavor of ingredients they’re partnered with. Nutritionally speaking, cellophane noodles are gluten free, fat free and a 1/2 cup serving dishes up 8% of your daily requirement for iron, important for oxygen transport in the body. And although they’re similar in size and texture to angel hair pasta, cellophane noodles have a low glycemic index, meaning they don’t cause a spike in blood sugar, important for maintaining even blood sugar levels.
Burgers aren’t banned from Healthy Eats! In fact, healthy burgers dish up tons of high-quality protein. Just be savvy about what you choose.
- Choose lean ground sirloin and add no fillers (good beef needs nothing extra).
- Grill burgers on a stove-top grill pan or griddle and use cooking spray to prevent sticking.
- Spike lean ground turkey and chicken burgers with fresh and dried herbs (fresh: parsley, basil, cilantro, dried, oregano, sage, thyme). Fresh herbs add not just flavor but moisture too.
- Serve all burgers on whole grain buns, inside pita pockets or choose flatter, whole wheat sandwich thins.