Monday, December 15, 2014

Crunchy Cashew Pork with Spaghetti Squash

I do not recall where this recipe came from, although I do know that the original recipe suggested serving it with rice. I chose to serve it with spaghetti squash this time instead, which was a good combination.


1 tablespoon whole-grain flour
½ cup low sodium chicken broth
¼ cup cider or red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
Dash red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons + 2 tablespoons olive oil
¾ lb. lean boneless pork, cut into thin strips
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
1 cup broccoli flowerets
3 green onions, thinly sliced
½ cup cashews

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Chicken Enchilada Dip

This recipe started with a similar recipe that someone shared on Facebook. I doubled it because I made it for a gathering of more than 10 people, and I did not think the regular size batch would be enough. I should have known I would alter the recipe some, which resulted in a larger portion this time since I added ingredients. 

I am sharing two recipe versions in this post: the doubled ingredients version I used for our party, and the one I saved in my cookbook for future. The first recipe is the double batch pictured here, which almost filled my 3-quart crockpot.

photo taken after all ingredients combined
and heated for 1 hour

1½ to 2 lbs. cooked chicken breast, shredded
16 oz. lowfat cream cheese
1¼ c. mayo
6 oz. plain yogurt - those of you who have my book or follow my blog know that I use nonfat Greek yogurt in most of my creamy recipes.
8 oz. lowfat shredded Mexican blend cheese
8 oz. lowfat shredded colby jack cheese
2 - 4 oz. cans diced green chili peppers with juice - I had one can of diced chilis and one can of whole chilis, which I cut up. I decided I like the whole chilis better because they seemed fresher and less mushy than the precut ones.
2 tomatoes, diced
1 large jalapeño pepper, finely diced - use more if you like more heat

Combine all ingredients in crockpot. Cook on low for at least 2 hours before serving, and keep warm for up to 8 hours. Serve with whole-grain tortilla chips.

This can also be baked in the oven until warm, and then served at rom temperature. I preferred the leftovers (there was not much!) right from the fridge, or warmed just enough to take the chill off because then the dip was chunkier.

after cooking in the crockpot for a few hours

Smaller batch recipe for cookbook

1 lb. cooked chicken breast, shredded
8 oz. lowfat cream cheese
½ c. mayo
½ c. plain yogurt
8 oz. lowfat shredded Mexican blend cheese
4 oz. can green chili peppers, chopped
1 small can tomatoes or 1 diced fresh tomato
1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, finely diced 
red or green bell peppers (optional), chopped

Combine all ingredients in crockpot. Cook on low for at least 2 hours before serving, and keep warm for up to 8 hours. Serve with whole-grain tortilla chips.

Friday, December 12, 2014

More Hints and Q & As

Hello fellow cook enthusiasts! This post covers another Q & A and a couple of hints.

Q. What kind of granola do you buy? Is it healthy?

A. Granola is typically made with healthy ingredients: whole-grain oats, whole-grain rice, oat bran, almonds, walnuts, dried fruit, cinnamon. The problem with most of the granola in the supermarkets is the high sugar content. I always read labels, and my rule of thumb is "higher fiber content than sugar." I have found only one granola in our local supermarket that does not have a higher sugar content then fiber. And, the fiber is not higher than the sugar; they are both equal. That brand is Bear Naked Triple Berry. All of the other Bear Naked flavors have a higher sugar content.

If you are a big granola eater, I suggest making your own. This is not something I have looked into making since we are not huge granola eaters, although I think I will add it to my list. I will start searching ideas, and I am sure I will come up with something to share.


Tomato paste
In my book, Eating Healthy Can Be Delicious and Easy, I shared a hint on page 25 for storing unused tomato paste. Most of the recipes I make call for only 1 or 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, so I always freeze the rest after I open a jar. I usually get about 10 tablespoons of paste from a jar. This is photo of the frozen balls, ready for storing in the freezer.

Freshly ground pepper
I always prefer freshly ground pepper when preparing a dish; however, it is not easy to grind pepper into a small measure, like a ¼ or ½ teaspoon. A few weeks ago, the simple matter-of-factness of how to do this hit me! I am sure many of you already know this since it seems like common sense now that the lightbulb is on in my head!

Turn the pepper container upside down with the lid on to grind it. After a few grinds, remove the lid, and then pour the freshly ground pepper from the lid into the teaspoon.

Whole-Wheat Soft Pretzels

I had not planned to make pretzels [at any time in the near future] the day that I prepared these. Events had gone awry for me that morning, and this was merely a continuation of how my day had started. 

I intended to make Whole-Wheat Burger Buns, and the two recipes are next to each other in my personal cookbook. I was a few ingredients in before I realized I had been looking at both recipes, and it was too late to switch back to the burger bun recipe. So, instead of tossing what was in the bowl, I decided to modify the ingredients and make pretzels. Fortunately, the result was delicious, and they freeze well!

4 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon sugar or sugar substitute - I used sugar substitute
1¼ cups warm water (110° - 115°)
3 cups whole-wheat flour
1¾ cups all-purpose or white flour
¼ to ⅓ cup sugar substitute - the recipe I started with called for ⅓ cup. I used a scant ⅓ cup and thought the pretzels were a bit too sweet.
1½ teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup baking soda
5 cups water
about ¼ cup kosher salt

Dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water. Let stand until mixture begins to foam—8 to 10 minutes.

Mix flours, ⅓ cup sugar, and salt. Make a well in the center; add yeast mixture and oil. Mix into a tacky dough. Add water if too dry. I had to add about ¼ cup of water this time, although this may have been because I started out with somewhat incorrect quantities, and then did not modify the quantities correctly. 
before rising

Kneed until smooth—7 to 9 minutes. Place in a large bowl coated with oil. Turn to coat, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. The original directions said to place the dough in a large bowl twice the size. I used only a somewhat larger bowl, which worked out just fine.

after rising

Preheat oven to 450° and spray baking sheets with cooking spray. The original recipe said to use parchment paper; however, I did not have any so I used spray instead, and the pretzels did not stick or make a mess. 

Dissolve baking soda in a large pot of boiling water on the stove; reduce heat to simmer.

Divide the dough into 12 portions, roll into ½” ropes and form into pretzel shapes. As you can see, I am not the best artist when it comes to food presentation! This is a photo of the pretzel shapes before dipping in the water.

Dip each pretzel into the simmering water and let it rise to the surface, about 10 seconds total. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain well, and place on prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake until golden brown—8 to 10 minutes.

This last photo shows the pretzels with a small piece broken off to show the texture inside. Every photo in this blog can be enlarged to see the detail by clicking on it. The salt in the photos really stands out, and it looks like there is a lot of salt on the pretzels when it is really just a sprinkle on each one.

The pretzels are delicious alone, or served with spicy mustard or cheese sauce. Freeze until ready to eat, and then they can be heated in the microwave or oven.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Holiday Book Sale!

Get yours today! I have made recent updates to the books, and each book is discounted through the end of the year. I missed offering a Black Friday or Cyber sale, although the holiday season is not over yet!

Both printed books are currently discounted 15%, and the price of the eBook has been reduced, as I was not able to "discount" that one. Here is the Lulu link to all three versions: Eating Healthy can be Delicious and Easy.

You can get additional discounts with Lulu codes. I searched Google and found a few, which are listed below. I have not used these codes, so I cannot guarantee whether they work. Feel free to share your experience with any of the codes below, and/or share other codes that have worked.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Ground Turkey Lasagna

I took these pictures the last time I made lasagna several weeks ago. Just looking at them as I am writing this post today is making my hungry for lasagna! As luck would have it, I have all of the ingredients on hand, so guess what we will be having for dinner tomorrow night ~ yum!

fresh from the oven
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ to ¾ lb. ground turkey
½ onion, chopped
14 oz. can tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 beef bouillon cube
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil or 1 tablespoon fresh basil
6 – 8 uncooked whole-wheat lasagna noodles
Cheese sauce ingredients
cooked meat sauce
1 tablespoon whole-grain flour
¼ cup fat free milk
1⅓ cups low fat cottage cheese
1 cup low fat shredded mozzarella cheese + more for topping
Salt, pepper, nutmeg to taste

Sauté turkey and onion in olive oil. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, bouillon cube, minced garlic, and basil. Swish a bit of water in the tomato can to rinse it out and add to dish, if desired. Cook over medium low heat, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

cheese sauce

To make cheese sauce, whisk flour and milk together, and then heat in a medium size saucepan. Cook until thickened--2 to 3 minutes. 

Stir in cottage cheese and 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Remove from heat and let melt. Season to taste with salt, freshly ground pepper, and nutmeg. 

cheese sauce and noodles

Pour enough of the cheese sauce in the bottom of an ovenproof pan to cover it, using no more than half. Cover with half the noodles. Press down slightly.

Layer with all of the meat sauce and remaining noodles. Press noodles down firmly before topping with remaining sauce. Make sure noodles are covered with sauces. Thunk dish on counter firmly to settle sauces, if needed. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
noodles topped with meat sauce

I like to prepare this dish a few hours before I am going to cook it, which helps the noodles soften up. I then cover it with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator until about 30 minutes before I want to bake it.

Bake uncovered at 400° for about 20 to 30 minutes. Let set at least 10 minutes before serving.
ready for the oven

The photo after baking is at the top of this blog post.

This recipe is a combination of several different recipes I have tried and varied over the years. The meat sauce came about from a tomato pasta sauce recipe that was not initially part of any kind of lasagna recipe.

Book Update and Q & As

Thank you for all of the great feedback about my book! I am glad everyone is finding it helpful. I have made a couple of minor edits to the paperback and hardcover books based on comments I received, and the updated versions are now available at

I am sharing a few questions I have been asked with my answers below, as I am sure more of you have these same questions, too. Please continue to send me your questions and comments. You can comment here in this blog, on my Facebook page, or write a review on Lulu. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Cherry Oatmeal

Delicious, with no need to add sugar or sweetener! The measurements below make one bowl, and the ingredients can easily be doubled.

photo before milk was added

1 cup water
½ cup rolled old-fashioned oats
2 tablespoons unsweetened dried cherries - I cut some of the larger pieces in half
1 tablespoon unsweetened or no-sugar-added cherry jam - I used sugar-free jam
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Measure water, oats, and cherries into a small saucepan on stove. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.

Stir in cherry jam and vanilla. Serve with milk.

My finished dish turned out thicker than usual because I had the heat on high for too long at the start (electric stove, and I did not notice it was boiling right away). That was okay with me, because I like plenty of milk in my oatmeal. I will be making this again ~ It was delicious!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Arugula Salad with Vinaigrette

I love this salad combination I put together from ingredients I had on hand! I did not measure the quantities. Just arrange the ingredients on plates for the number of salads you want. I made two salads, and the dressing recipe is enough for four.

Fresh arugula or baby spinach - I used arugula because that is what I had on hand
Black seedless grapes, halved
1 apple, peeled and thinly sliced - or, try a thinly sliced pear
Walnuts, chopped
Celery, chopped
Dried berries or raisins - I used a dried berry blend of cranberries, cherries, and blueberries
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon molasses
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1½ - 2 teaspoons Dijon, deli, or brown mustard - I used 2 t. deli mustard
2 teaspoons honey
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Arrange arugula or spinach on plates. Top with remaining salad ingredients. 

To make dressing, whisk together the molasses, vinegar, mustard, and honey. Season lightly with salt and freshly ground pepper. Slowly whisk in olive oil until emulsified. 

Drizzle dressing lightly over salads and serve. Store any leftover dressing in the refrigerator. 

A small amount of dressing has a lot of flavor and goes a long way. I drizzled more dressing than needed in the photo above.

I had arugula to use and vinaigrette left over, so guess what I had for breakfast this morning! With just a drizzle of vinaigrette this time ~

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Frozen Fruit Cups

I came up with the following idea using ingredients I had on hand--some that I needed to use up. I had read a recipe similar to this one long ago. This recipe contains sugar-free whipped topping and sugar-free pudding, as well as ideas for your own substitutes. I like this recipe because it makes individual portion sizes for the freezer, for portion control and future sweet tooth urges. 

Below are the ingredients I used. You can easily up-size the quantities to the standard container sizes. This recipe calls for less, because I had a situation with not quite full containers of several ingredients.

6 oz. low-fat cream cheese
4 to 5 T. sugar-free vanilla pudding - I used this because I had half a package of pudding in my cupboard. The original recipe did not contain this; it contained about ½ c. sugar instead.
1 to 2 T. sugar or sugar substitute 
1 T. fat-free milk
1 T. no sugar added orange juice
5 to 6 oz. sugar-free whipped topping - I had about ⅔ of an 8 oz. container.
2 to 2 ½ c. fresh fruit - I used 1 large c. of sliced strawberries, ½ c. halved seedless red grapes, ½ c. blueberries, and additional berries for topping. The original recipe contained sweeter processed fruits - maraschino cherries, mandarin oranges, and crushed pineapple.
¼ to ½ c. chopped pecans

Fill 12 to 18 muffin tins with cupcake liners; set aside. I made 12 with the quantities listed here.

With a mixer, blend the cream cheese, vanilla pudding, milk, orange juice, and sugar. Blend in the whipped topping. Gently stir in fresh fruit and chopped pecans.

Spoon mixture into prepared muffin tins. Top with a piece of sliced fruit, if desired. Place in freezer and freeze for several hours.

After the fruit cups are frozen, remove from muffin pans. Dip the bottom of the muffin tins in hot water for a few seconds for easier removal. Store the fruit cups in the freezer in a sealed container or Ziploc bag.

Thaw the fruit cups just slightly before serving; either in the microwave for 5 to 10 seconds, or at room temperature for about 15 minutes.

Please feel free to share your flavor combinations as well!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Green Soup

I guess I am on a green kick this week with all of the greens I found on sale the last time I went grocery shopping. I have had the following recipe/idea for about a year, and this is the first time I have tried it. It seems like I got the original idea from a magazine in a doctor's office, so it may have been in some type of health magazine. The version I am sharing is not the exact recipe I initially read, although it is close!

Ingredients - 4 - servings
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium size onion, chopped
½ t. salt, divided
1 garlic clove, smashed and chopped
2 T. whole-grain Arborio rice
1 bunch kale
about 7 c. baby spinach
2 c. vegetable broth
⅛ t. cayenne pepper
1½ t. lemon juice, optional

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and a pinch of salt; cook, stirring until onions begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add 2 T. water, and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are reduced and caramel colored, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine 1½ c. water, remaining salt, garlic, and rice in a soup pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Trim ribs and tough stems from the kale and spinach; discard, or puree and freeze for later use. Coarsely chop kale. After the rice has cooked for 15 minutes, stir in the kale. Cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

After the kale and onions have cooked, stir a little vegetable broth into the caramelized onions to get all of the flavor from the pan. Add the mixture to the rice with the spinach, remaining broth, and cayenne. Simmer, covered, until spinach is tender, about 5 minutes. 

Puree soup in batches in blender until smooth. Stir in lemon juice.

I forgot to add the lemon juice, so I had my first bowl without that ingredient, and it was good. After I had a bowl, I re-blended the remaining soup for about 5 minutes, because it was not as smooth as I thought it should be. I did not take another photo, because the soup did not look any different after I blended it again. The consistency was smoother, although this was not noticeable without tasting it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Green Smoothie

This is a variation of one of the recipes in my book on page 27 (available on Lulu--link in the sidebar, also). As I wrote in my book under this item: "I always start with the milk or yogurt, flaxseed, and the spinach, and then I use whatever ingredients I have on hand." For this beverage, I used the following ingredients. The end result was delicious and filling!

1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1 T. flaxseed meal
1 to 2 handfuls of fresh spinach - I used one very large handful
2 handfuls of red seedless grapes
3 to 4 ice cubes

Place all ingredients in blender starting with the liquid ingredients. Blend until smooth. 

This will make 1 to 2 beverages, depending how big your handfuls of ingredients are. I used very large handfuls, which made 2 beverages. It was so good, I drank them both!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Natural Peanut Butter

I shared this idea in the book (page 43) before I had tried it. I made it this week, and I liked it just as much as I thought I would. I am writing this post to share that experience.

16 oz. dry roasted unsalted peanuts
1 T. olive oil - the picture here is with 2 T. olive oil, and I would not use that much next time

The directions are easy - just blend until smooth; blending for less time, if you like chunky peanut butter.

It took me about 5 to 7 minutes to make this peanut butter. Start with the blender on low, and stop the blender frequently to stir the peanuts down in. I thought it seemed too dry, which is why I added the second tablespoon of oil. I actually should have just stirred it more than I did, and patiently waited for the blending action to catch up. Once the peanuts start to liquify, increase the blender speed and continue blending until desired consistency is reached. We like smooth peanut butter, so I blended it until smooth.

The peanut butter flavor is excellent! The color of the peanut butter is much lighter than what I usually buy in the store (it looks darker in the photo than it is), because no artificial color or ingredients were added. The peanut butter worked very well in a "healthified" cookie recipe I made next.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Chipotle Turkey Chili

This recipe and photo goes with one of the recipes in the book - it is on page 114. As usual, I altered the ingredients slightly, and the taste was just as good! I also put it in the crockpot, and the original recipe is prepared stovetop.

crockpot photo after I had stirred
in the yogurt and cilantro

½ to ¾ lb. ground turkey
½ cup chopped onion
1 finely chopped garlic clove
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
15 ounce can cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed - the original recipe calls for using the beans undrained. I guess I drained and rinsed them out of habit, so then I altered the chicken broth quantity.
1 cup water
½ to ¾ teaspoon low-sodium chicken broth granules
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chipotle chili in adobe sauce, finely chopped - the original recipe calls for 1 chipotle chili; however, since I did not separate them before freezing, I had to cut off the mixture, and I decided that 2 tablespoons was a good amount.
½ cup nonfat plain yogurt or Greek yogurt
⅓ to ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
⅓ cup low-fat shredded co-jack cheese, optional - I did not use this, and we did not miss it at all.

In a large saucepan, cook turkey, onion, and garlic over medium-high heat until turkey is no longer pink—4 to 6 minutes. Stir in corn, beans, broth, salt and chipotle chili. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium; cover and simmer 10 to 15 minutes. We did not know when we were going to be eating, so I put the mixture in the crockpot after the turkey was browned, and heated it on low for a couple of hours. The mixture will be quite thick until the yogurt is stirred in before serving.

When ready to serve, stir in the yogurt and cilantro. Serve with additional yogurt, cilantro, and shredded cheese, if desired.

topped with freshly ground pepper

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Zucchini Corn Gratin

I liked the flavor of this recipe so much that I included it in the published book. After preparing it again this week, however, I made a few revisions. Anyone with a published copy of this recipe before April 16, 2014, may want to try the slightly altered method here instead.

Ingredients - 4 to 6 servings
½ cup whole-grain cornmeal
¼ cup whole-grain breadcrumbs, finely chopped or crumbled
2 teaspoons olive oil
¼ cup chopped onion
3 cups sliced zucchini
½ cup frozen whole kernel corn
1 egg
¼ cup fat-free milk
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons trans-fat-free butter, melted
¼ cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray baking dish with cooking spray. Combine cornmeal and breadcrumbs. Set aside.

In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook until onion is crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in zucchini, corn and ¼ cup water. Reduce heat to medium; cover and cook until zucchini is tender—9 to 11 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Mash zucchini slightly with a fork.

In a large bowl, beat egg, milk, salt, and pepper with a fork until well blended. Stir in zucchini mixture, half of the cornmeal mixture and 2 tablespoons of the cheese. Spoon into baking dish. I used an oblong baking dish this time; however, I think a deeper 2-quart casserole dish would work better. Combine remaining cornmeal mixture, melted butter, and cheese. Sprinkle evenly over zucchini mixture.

Bake uncovered until set and golden brown—25 to 30 minutes. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Turkey Taco Bake

Today was another day for using up some ingredients I had on hand. My husband loves tacos and wet burritos; however, I wanted to try something new, so I decided to create a taco-type casserole. We were both very happy with the result!

Soft whole-grain corn or flour tortillas
1 lb. ground turkey - I only used about ¾ of a pound; however, I would suggest using a pound for 4 servings
¼ cup chopped onion
1 pkg. low-sugar taco seasoning mix
15 ounce can red or pinto beans, rinsed and drained
Toppings as desired: chopped black olives, jalapeños, bell peppers
1 cup low-fat shredded cheese—cheddar or co-jack - I used a combination of both
Chopped tomatoes
Whole-grain hard corn tortilla shells or chips, broken into pieces - I used 1 whole-grain corn shell
Shredded lettuce
Nonfat plain yogurt
Low-sugar salsa
ready for the oven

Brown turkey and onion in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in taco seasoning mix and about 2 taco seasoning packets of water. Add drained beans, and simmer over low heat until mixture starts to thicken—3 to 5 minutes.

Spray a casserole dish lightly with non-stick spray, and heat oven to 350°F. 

Line bottom of baking dish with tortillas. Cut shells as needed to fit into pan. Add meat and bean mixture.

Top with desired toppings - I used chopped black olives, and I added jalapeños on half of the dish because my husband loves them. Top with shredded cheese, a few chopped tomatoes, and broken tortilla pieces. Bake until cheese is melted and dish is heated through—20 to 25 minutes.

Before serving, top with additional tomatoes and lettuce. Serve with low-sugar salsa and plain yogurt.