Sunday, January 31, 2016

Random Acts of Kindness Makes Everyone Feel Good

February 17th is the date on the calendar when we're asked to do something nice for another.  I started planning for that soon after the holidays.  My thoughts:

  • I'd visit the retirees I'd sent Christmas cards yet hadn't seen for years.

  • I'd pick up trash along our rural road.

My intentions were good.

  • I visited one retiree who just entered a rehabilitation center after leaving the hospital.

  • I picked up trash from the first leg of our road (.2 miles).

Then it snowed and stayed cold.  The road litter was covered in snow.  Travel was limited.

I planned treat bags for seniors to take to my Mom's center.  Brown bags were decorated with pink hearts.  The cranberries I purchased in December and froze were combined with other crunchy ingredients to make a chutney and canned in ball jars.  The ingredients were labeled on each jar.  The bags were set out during meal time where those attending the center could take one if they wanted.  It made me so happy to see the elderly men and women leaving the center with a treat bag in hand.

What do I like about taking these to the senior center?  The gifts are random.  I know only a few people who go here.  The adult can choose to take one or not.

In the summer, I take several dozen ears of corn on the cob fresh picked from a local farm for the seniors to take if they want them.

In the fall, I took bags of apples from the university farms for giveaway.  

These are elderly people, many single, who can't go to the farm.  These are people who may not get a valentine treat bag.

I enjoy passing my grocery cart to another shopper without expecting a quarter in return.  I ask the receiver to "pay it forward".

When I make a few extra servings of a homemade dinner, I like to give them to my husband's co-workers who "live at the office".

I'll continue with my road side cleaning and old colleague visits in the spring.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Crusty Salutary Calzones

Bread made with 1/2 whole grains, filled with a taste of Italian sausage, ricotta and Parmesan cheese, dipped in a homemade marinara sauce-these individual 1/2 moon pizzas are a match for any pizza shop!  How did I adjust this to my meal planning regime?

  • Used 1/2 whole wheat flour in the recipe.  I also used whole grain cornmeal for the outside of the dough ball.

  • Controlled portion of protein per entree.  1-3 ounce Italian turkey sausage, browned, crumbled and drained was divided among 6 calzones. That's the equivalent of 1/2 ounce per serving-plenty to add that delicious sweet sausage flavor.

  • Controlled the servings of fat per meal.  The calzones are brushed with olive oil prior to baking.  There is no fat in the bread dough.  The milk is fat free, the ricotta cheese "part-skim". 

  • Included low fat dairy with meals.  Calcium percentage of the RDA in just one calzone approximates 50%.
I love that this bread dough recipe is one that I mix and knead, allow to rise once, then slip into the refrigerator until 1/2 hour before assembly!

Crusty Calzones

(Makes 6)

In a mixing bowl with dough hook in place, mix 1 cup flour with salt, sugar and yeast.
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon rapid rise dry yeast

With mixer on a low speed, gradually add warm water.  Beat for 2 minutes, scraping sides of bowl with a spatula.
1 cup water (125 F)

Add 1/2 cup flour.  Beat at medium speed for 2 minutes.
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

With mixer running at a low speed, gradually add flour a bit at a time.  Knead until dough leaves the sides of the bowl.
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
Turn out dough into a bowl greased with an olive oil spray.  Turn to coat both sides.  Cover and let rise at room temperature until double, about 45 minutes.
Can place in refrigerator at this point until ready to assemble. 

Calzone assembly
Brown and crumble sausage in a non-stick pan with shallots.  Add tomatoes as mix starts to brown.  Drain on paper towels.
1-3 ounce Italian turkey mild sauce link
1/4 cup shallots, diced
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/3 cup grape tomatoes, diced

Divide dough into 6 pieces.  Turn out onto a cornmeal sprinkled counter.  Let rest for 30 minutes.
1/3 cup whole grain cornmeal

On a parchment paper lined baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal,  punch each dough piece into a circle. 
Top 1/2 of each dough round with:
Sausage, shallot, tomato mix 
2 tablespoon ricotta cheese, part-skim
2 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, grated
Fold dough over.  Using a fork, crimp edges together.
Brush with olive oil.

Bake at 450 F. for 10-14 minutes.  Turn the oven to broil the last minute of baking if tops need browning.

My homemade tomato sauce is made with no added salt tomatoes.  The recipe is here

Our dinner plates are filled with red grapes and a fresh spinach-vegetable mix.




Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Use Your Noodle Converting Recipes

Recipes in cookbooks and magazines provide continual inspiration to me when planning my meals for the week.  Tonight I chose this classic dish, Tuna Noodle Casserole, guided by Ree's Pioneer Woman Cookbook.   I love this cookbook with photos to guide each step in the process.  

To fit in my healthy meal format, I planned the fat content for the meal to allow for 1-2 servings per meal.

Original Recipe = 4 tablespoon butter
My recipe = 2 tablespoon vegan buttery spread
Original Recipe - Whole Milk
My Recipe - Skim Milk

I increased the amount and variety of vegetables in the dish.

Original Recipe - 3 ounces mushrooms
My recipe - Added 1/3 cup carrots and 3/4 cup broccoli

I liked that the original recipe called for albacore tuna canned in water in small (1 1/2 ounce) portions.  I liked the suggestion to substitute broth for half the milk in the recipe.  Since I drink skim milk with my meals, I made the 1/2 broth substitute.

Tuna Noodle Casserole

(Serves 4)

Saute shallots, celery and carrots in buttery spread 4 minutes.
1 tablespoon Earth Balance Buttery Spread
3 tablespoon shallots, diced
1/4 cup celery, diced
1/2 carrot, peeled and diced

Add mushrooms and broccoli.  Saute 3 minutes more.
3 ounces mushrooms, diced
3/4 cup broccoli flowers, chopped

Sprinkle in flour.  Stir to coat vegetables.  Cook 1 minute.
2 tablespoon whole wheat pastry flour

Add milk, wine and broth.  Cook until thick, stirring often, about 8 minutes.
3/4 cup skim milk
3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup white wine

Season with salt and pepper.
1/8 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground pepper

Add drained tuna.
1-6 ounce can albacore tuna, packed in water, drained

Stir in drained noodles.
4 1/2 ounce egg noodles, cooked al dente, drained

Saute bread crumbs in buttery spread for a few minutes until lightly browned.
1 tablespoon Earth Balance Buttery Spread
5 tablespoon whole grain cornbread crumbs

Pour noodle mix into baking dishes greased with an olive oil spray.  (I used 2 small baking dishes).  Bake at 400 F. for 15 minutes.

We have half of the above recipe leftover to eat for lunch or breakfast in the next few days.  I did not use whole wheat noodles tonight, as I had 3 servings of whole grains with my other meals and snacks today.  (1/2 cup oats for breakfast, 1 whole grain cracker with lunch and 1 serving whole grain pumpkin bread for dessert).

We rounded out our meal with red grapefruit half and purple grapes.



Sunday, January 24, 2016

Pioneer Weekend

While we got 2 feet of snow here in West Virginia, we were fortunate to not loose power.  I've been cleaning out my freezer this month and did not buy any meat-but did buy seafood.  I cooked those the morning and evening before the big snow.  I cleaned and cut vegetables and baked some pumpkin bread.  I even baked a few apples in phyllo sheets. I hard cooked eggs. I had the perishable foods ready to pack in the cooler with ice and ice packs and place outside in the 18 degree temperature in case the lights went out.  But we survived!  

It was an appropriate time to try 2 recipes from the Pioneer Woman Cookbook.  Our mid-day meal (after 2 rounds of snow shoveling) is featured above.  Those are individual portions of Ree's Tomato Tart.  

Tomato Tarts

(Makes 4 individual tarts)

In a food processor, mix flours and salt.
3/4 cup flour (half whole wheat pastry/half all purpose)
1/8th teaspoon salt

Pulse in buttery spread.
1/3 cup Earth Balance Buttery Spread

Add beaten egg.
2 1/2 teaspoon egg, beaten

Add water and vinegar just to mix.
1 1/4 tablespoon cold water
3/4 teaspoon vinegar

Form dough into a ball.  Wrap in plastic wrap and place in freezer for 30 minutes.

On a floured surface, divide dough in 4 pieces.  Grease tart pans with an olive oil spray.  Punch dough into the tart pans and up the sides.

Tomato Tarts
Saute shallots in buttery spread for 5 minutes.  Divide among 4 tarts.
1 tablespoon Earth Balance Buttery Spread
1/4 cup diced shallots

Sprinkle in cheese.
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup Mozzarella Cheese, shredded

Top with tomatoes and dried basil.
24 grape tomatoes
2 teaspoon dried basil leaves

Bake at 450 F. for 15 minutes.  Cool slightly.

I love the snow tooth picks I found at Aldis.  Aldis is where I buy shrimp.  Their seafood carries the sustainable designation.  I buy the large raw shrimp, tail intact.  I peeled the shells (leaving tail), seasoned and baked for 10 minutes to cook.  Here's the seasoning I use that originated from McCormick:

Mexicana Shrimp Seasoning

(Serves 4)

2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
12 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
Place 1 # shrimp in a large zipper storage bag.  Pour seasoning mix over.  Bake at 325 F. for 15 minutes.

Last night's dinner featured another of the Pioneer Woman's recipesThe recipe was titled "Carb Buster" though we both had bread with our dinners.  Mine was enjoyed with a piece of local Multigrain Bread.

Poached Egg, Mozzarella and Vegetables

(Serves 2)

Saute vegetables in buttery spread.  (I cooked ours in individual cast iron skillets).
2 tablespoon Earth Balance Buttery Spread
2/3 cup zucchini, cut in chunks
1/3 cup broccoli flowers
2 tablespoon shallots, diced

Add tomato and cheese.
1 roma tomato, cut in chunks
3 ounce fresh mozzarella cheese

Poach eggs in water with a teaspoon of vinegar.
2 eggs
Top skillets with eggs.

We shoveled snow every 3 or 4 hours over the course of the weekend.  We burned the calories and were glad to have the extra foods on hand.  




Saturday, January 23, 2016

Stone Soup Guest Blogger

"Dietary Guidelines Friendly-Reduced-sugar Hot Cocoa Souffle" is my seventh post on the Food and Nutrition Blog.   Stone Soup is a guest blog written by members of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  Guest bloggers from around the world share with Food & Nutrition Magazine.  I have always loved this magazine-especially the photos and am so pleased they shared my post.

Thanks for your interest in my healthy meals!  

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Star Crossed Chili

These cornbread soup bowls were the best ever.  The chili was rather thick.  We simply cut the bowl with our spoons, enjoying soup and cornbread in each bite.  The bread bowls were baked in tortilla shell pans.  It was very easy to cut around the edges, leaving a 1/2 inch border, and scoop the bread center out with a grapefruit spoon.  (I froze the crumbs for cornbread stuffing).  The chili and cornbread bowls were inspired by Food Network Magazine.  Here's my cornbread recipe:

Cornbread Star Bowls

(4 bowls-8 servings reserving center portions for later use)

In a mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar.
2 eggs
3 tablespoon sugar

Mix dry goods in a separate bowl.
1 1/2 cups whole grain cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/8th teaspoon salt

Melt buttery spread in a measuring glass.  Add skim milk and lemon juice.
1/2 cup Earth Balance Buttery Spread
1 1/2 cup skim milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice 

Alternately add dry goods and liquids to the egg-sugar mix.  Stir until just combines.

Grease baking pans with an olive oil spray.  Divide batter among pans.
Bake at 375 F. for 30 minutes, turning pans if any start to over-brown.
Cool in pans on rack for 10 minutes.  Remove bread from pans and cool an additional 10 minutes on the rack.

Chili with Sirloin Tip Roast

(Serves 4)

In a saucepan, cover beans with double the amount of water. Bring water to a boil for 2 minutes.  Turn off heat.  Cover and sit aside for 1 hour. 
1/3 cup great northern beans, dry 
Drain and rinse beans.  In a saucepan, cover with double the amount of water.  Bring to a boil.  Cover and lower heat to simmer.  Simmer for 1 hour.

In a saucepan, saute shallots and garlic in olive oil over medium heat for 2 minutes.
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoon shallots, diced
2 garlic clove, crushed

Add seasonings and tomato paste.  Saute for 1 minute.
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste

Stir in tomatoes, broth, masa harina, brown sugar and vinegar.
1-14 ounce can diced tomatoes, without salt
1 1/2 cups low sodium beef broth
1 tablespoon masa harina
1 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Add cooked beans, zucchini and beef.
Cooked beans, drained
1/2 small zucchini, diced
6 ounce roasted sirloin tip, diced
Bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer until thick, about 20 minutes.

Fill bread bowls with chili.
Garnish with shredded cheddar cheese.




Monday, January 18, 2016

Friendly Veggies-Year Round

Carrots, canned diced tomatoes, frozen corn, cabbage and celery always don my shelves.  Plain yogurt is a staple too.  This meal featuring Curried Carrot Yogurt and Vegetable Soup was delectable and we can enjoy leftovers during the week! The yogurt recipe was inspired by Bon Appetit.  

Curried Carrot Yogurt

(Serves 2) 

Saute carrots in olive oil for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until lightly browned.
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon olive oil

Stir in garlic and curry powder.  Cover and sit aside for a few minutes.
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon curry powder

Process carrot mixture in a mini food processor.  Add yogurt, lime juice, olive oil and additional curry powder.  Process until nearly smooth.  (there may be a few pieces of carrot).
6 tablespoon Greek yogurt, plain, nonfat
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon curry powder

Garnish with toasted sesame seed. 
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seed 

Have a great week!


Friday, January 15, 2016

Winter Waffles

Winter produce may be scarce and time to prepare dinner the like, but this Friday night dinner with blueberry waffles, egg and ruby red grapefruit certainly made the mark.  The waffles contain ricotta cheese and these melted in your mouth!

Whole Wheat Waffles with Lemon & Blueberries

(Makes 8 waffles)

Place all ingredients in the blender.  Pulse, scrape sides and bottom, blend again.
1/2 cup ricotta cheese, part-skim
2/3 cup skim milk
2 eggs
2 tablespoon sugar
2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 tablespoon 2 teaspoon whole grain cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoon 2 teaspoon Earth Balance Buttery Spread, melted
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Pour batter into a bowl.  Stir in blueberries.
1 cup fresh blueberries

On a hot square waffle iron, drop 1/4 cup batter onto each 1/4th square.  Bake until waffle iron light indicates that the waffles are ready. 


Thursday, January 14, 2016

A Taste of the Farm, Even in Winter

Stone ground corn grits, grass fed local beef and a "spring crisp" vegetable all went into this dinner on a very cold winters' day.  The recipe was inspired by Food Network Magazine.  The grits are from Palmetto Farms, the beef from Working H Farm and the Celtuce from Morgantown Farmer Market.  Here's how I made it:

Stone Ground Corn Grits, Sirloin & Vegetables

(Serves 2)

Mix grits, salt and milk in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Lower heat, cover and cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring frequently)
1/3 cup stone ground corn grits
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cup skim milk

Stir in cheese.
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated 

In a medium hot cast skillet, saute zucchini, onion, garlic, fennel and celtuce in olive oil for approximately 5 minutes.
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small zucchini, sliced
2 tablespoon onion, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/4 cup sliced fennel
1/3 cup celtuce, sliced
Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper.

Add arugula and tomatoes.  Cover and remove from heat.
3/4 cup arugula
1/3 cup grape tomatoes

Plate assembly
Arrange grits, vegetables and steak on a platter.  
4-5 ounces slow cooked sirloin tip (Frozen previously when I made Slow Cooker Pulled Beef)
Garnish with goat cheese sprinkles.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Sweet Selector (Fitting sugar guidelines into recipes)

As manager of a "Healthy Cafe" at a major medical center, I planned a menu where all homemade desserts had less than 12 grams of added sugar.  The American Heart Association recommends that women aim for no more than 24 grams of added sugar a day.  The nutrition analysis software program I used to enter recipes detailed grams of sucrose per serving.

After retirement, preparing most of my foods at home, I adjust my dessert recipes so that each serving has approximately 2 teaspoons of added sugar per serving.  In this recipe for Hot Cocoa Souffle, I predetermined my total sugar amount as 12 teaspoons (6 servings X 2 teaspoons) or 4 Tablespoons.   

The original recipe recommends dusting the baking dish with sugar.  I eliminated that step.  Sugar is in the dry cocoa mix and added to the stiffened egg whites.  I added 1 Tablespoon of sugar to the egg whites and 3 Tablespoons to the cocoa mix.

Original recipe = 13 Tablespoon sugar
My recipe = 4 Tablespoon sugar

I portioned my souffles into 6 individual au gratin dishes, rather than 1 large souffle dish.

The baked products produced a dip in the centers for a small scoop of ice cream-a 2 Tablespoon scoop.

Original recipe = 4 cups ice cream
My recipe = 3/4 cup ice cream

Hot Cocoa Souffle with Vanilla Ice Cream

(Serves 6)

Mix 3 tablespoons sugar, cocoa and flour in a bowl.
3 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa (not the Dutch-processed kind)
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
Melt buttery spread in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in dry cocoa mix.  
1/4 cup vegan buttery spread

Add the milk to the saucepan.  Cook and stir until thick and bubbly.  Remove from heat.
1 cup skim milk

In a medium mixing bowl, beat egg yolks until combined.  Gradually stir thick cocoa-milk mixture into beaten egg yolks.
4 egg yolks

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form.  Gradually add the 1 tablespoon sugar, beating at high speed until stiff peaks form.  
4 egg whites
1 tablespoon sugar
Fold 1 cup of the beaten egg whites into egg yolk mixture.  Fold egg yolk mixture into the remaining beaten egg whites.

Divide batter into individual souffle dishes (greased with olive-oil spray).

Bake for 30-35 minutes at 350 F.  Serve each with 2 Tablespoon ice cream.

Refrigerated other souffle until ready to eat.  When ready to eat, microwave for 30 seconds, then add the ice cream. 

It's important to note that the sugar in some recipes cannot be reduced to 2 teaspoons per serving.  Caramelized and iced confections require more sugar.  I'll choose to eat a small serving on occasion when I'm eating out-rather than have a whole dessert in my home. On the weekend, my spouse and I purchased one piece of iced cake at a local restaurantThe piece was high and big-we shared half of it in the restaurant and brought the other half home to enjoy the next day.  1 restaurant serving = 4 senior citizen servings.

Have a warm and cozy day! 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

In Rhythm of the Meal Plan

The pesto salmon-lentil-rice platter was inspired by Rachael Ray Everyday Magazine,in a section called "Happy Eats".  The plate design fits the basic protein-grain-vegetable plan with bonus good fats, whole grains, sustainable seafood, heirloom rice and more.  We sat at the bar and peeled a mango to finish our meal.

Forbidden Rice & Red Lentils

(Serves 2)

Cook rice in simmering water (covered) until tender, approximately 1 hour.  Drain and rinse with cold water.
1/4 cup forbidden rice

Cook lentils in simmering water (covered) until tender, approximately 25 minutes.
1/4 cup red lentils
Drain excess water, leaving a tiny amount in the pan.
Stir in rice. 
Add lemon juice and turmeric.  Heat for 10 minutes.
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh grated turmeric

Arugula Pesto

(Serves 2)

Grind almonds, garlic, leaves and oil in a mini food processor.
2 tablespoon ground almonds
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 basil leaves
1 cup arugula leaves
2 teaspoon olive oil

Platter Assembly    

Bake salmon at 325 F. for 15 minutes.  I used my toaster oven. 
Spread pesto over top of salmon.
Bake 5 more minutes.

Serve salmon over forbidden rice with lentils.    

Rule #1:  Enjoy the meal and the company of your loved ones!