Tag Archives: healthy eating

Michelle’s Hummus Recipe

Michelle’s Hummus Recipe

We’re baaaaaaack!  Maybe you noticed we’ve been absent from the blogging sphere, SORRY! Life just happened and blogging had to take a back seat for awhile, but here we are again!

So one of the things I’ve been focusing on lately (instead of blogging) is my health. And to help with that, the doctor I’m working with has me on a special diet.  Among other things I’m supposed to have a serving of beans everyday.  Yes, EVERYday. To help bring a little variety with fulfilling that requirement I learned how to make my own hummus with chickpeas (aka: Garbanzo beans) and I thought I’d share!

This is good stuff!  And I know most hummus includes tahini (ground sesame seeds) but that’s hard to find in rural Minnesota…go figure.  So I just used a little sesame seed oil instead.

Ingredients:

  • 1  1/2 cups cooked chickpeas drained (I used the crockpot method just like I do for pinto beans!)
  • 1 large (2 small) cloves of garlic
  • 3-5 fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4-1/2  t. sesame seed oil
  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • juice from one small lemon

Put all the wet ingredients in the food processor (I just use a small cheap one I purchased for making baby food and it does the job!).  Add the basil leaves, garlic cloves, and beans and puree until smooth!  (If you need a little more liquid try a little more olive oil or add a little of the water the beans were cooked in.)

I haven’t tried these yet cuz I’m pretty happy with this recipe, but when I need some more variety here are some other flavors I may add:

  • Spinach 
  • Artichokes
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Roasted red peppers
  • Pesto

Oh and since I’m limited to one serving of grains a day I don’t like to use the typical pita chips to eat my hummus.  I use cucumber slices! I know it sounds weird, but it’s really good!  I still get the crunch and it all taste so fresh and yummy.  And we happen to have a few cukes in the garden so it’s cheaper than chips too! Try ’em!

 

Hummus with Cucumber “Chips”

 

 

Thursday Thoughts: Gardening

Thursday Thoughts: Gardening

I never ever thought I would say this, but I’m enjoying gardening!  I wasn’t a fan of gardening when I was growing up, but I guess it’s in my blood and I shouldn’t fight it! 😉 My grandpa and my mom must have passed the gene on down despite my resistance!  Now, I’m thankful.

I really started appreciate gardening since I’ve been on a quest to live and eat healthier.  There’s something very satisfying in cooking food that we grew!  You know…that whole “I-can-do-it-myself” pride that you see in your toddler, well now I remember what it feels like with gardening!

Another bonus: I know exactly where the food came from and what was put into it!  And now it’s really helping our grocery budget! We have a pretty short growing season in Minnesota, but I’ve still been able to harvest lettuce, zucchini, green beans, and sugar snap peas already! I didn’t have to buy any veggies this week on my grocery trip! Mostly fruit and a few other staples! Maybe “going green” ain’t so bad!

Other things I love about gardening:

  • My kids are involved and learning so much!  They’re learning science, health, and good eating habits as well as spiritual concepts like “What you sow is what you grow!”  (And they are having a LOT of fun! They beg me to water the garden or pick vegetables!)
  • There’s something therapeutic in pulling out weeds! I don’t know what it is, but it feels good to yank a weed out by the root and toss it aside!
  • We get off the couch and enjoy the outdoors while gardening.
  • Fresh food takes flavor to a whole new level! You may never buy another canned vegetable from the store once you try growing your own!
  • When we live 28 miles from the nearest big grocery store it’s nice to be able to just go to our yard and pick something last-minute for a meal!
  • It’s a meaningful (and frugal) gift to share homegrown veggies with a friend or neighbor!

Have I convinced you to try gardening yet?!?!?!  Don’t let having a small (or no) yard hold you back.  We have a few containers of herbs and lettuce on our porch that really supplement our meals nicely!  You could try a tomato plant in a container and make your own spaghetti sauce or fresh BLT sandwich!  The possibilities are endless! You might just grow a green thumb while you’re at it! :)

 

Our garden

 

 

Fresh salad for lunch, anyone?

 

We’ll probably eat this for dinner tonight!

Fresh herbs! Basil, oregano, rosemary…and a cute toddler (pick at your own risk!) ;)

He’s happy to help…especially if it involves water and mud! Win-win!

Wednesday Recipe: Healthy Peanut Butter Honey Bars

Wednesday Recipe: Healthy Peanut Butter Honey Bars

Guess what?!?!?  I could actually smell and taste my Good Earth tea this morning!  Maybe not super exciting to you, but after a couple of days lacking my olfactory senses I was ecstatic!  And to celebrate we’re sharing a yummy protein-packed, fiber-filled dessert recipe!

The pureed pinto beans, peanut butter, whole wheat flour, and oatmeal  add TONS of protein and lots of fiber too.  That makes these bars not only delicious, but  filling too!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked (not salted) pinto beans  (try the crockpot method!)
  • 1/4 cup of the bean liquid
  • 1 stick (1/2c) butter melted
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease 9″ x 13″ pan.  Puree beans and their liquid in a blender until smooth.  Pour into a big mixing bowl and stir in the melted butter, honey, peanut butter and eggs.  Whisk together until the mixture is smooth.  With a wooden spoon stir in flour and oats just until moistened.  Gently stir in chocolate chips.  Pour into pan and bake for 25-30 min. or until set. 

Batter

 I cut into 28 bars which was a nice size serving for us. 

 

BARS!

 

The bars were small, but each one has about 3 g fiber and over 5 g protein!  With mostly natural ingredients (all except the chocolate chips) this is a snack or dessert I feel good feeding to my family.  I hope you will too!

 

Delish!

How do you sneak nutrition into your desserts?

Yup...the recipe was a hit for this guy!


Creamy Lemon Mushroom Quinoa

Creamy Lemon Mushroom Quinoa

Looking for another recipe to incorporate the super healthy quinoa in your meal plan? Well, if you have left over mushrooms from making your own Cream of Mushroom Soup and a leftover lemon from the Lemon Rosemary Chicken, you can use them up with this yummy quinoa dish! 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 2 cups chicken broth (optional)
  • 2 cups mushrooms sliced
  • 3 T butter
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top

Cook quinoa according to package directions using the broth instead of water.  {If you made broth with the Lemon Rosemary Chicken here’s a great opportunity to use it!} While quinoa is cooking, saute mushrooms in a frying pan with the butter.  Once mushrooms are cooked add the lemon juice and stir for a minute or two.  Add cream and stir together on medium low heat until sauce is reduced by half.  Once quinoa is cooked serve topped with sauce and sprinkle with cheese.  Capers or fresh chopped parsley would be nice garnishes too!

Lemon Rosemary Crockpot Chicken

Lemon Rosemary Crockpot Chicken

Want another EASY chicken recipe?  You got it!  You can even pull a chicken straight out of the freezer and throw it in your slow cooker for this one!  {At least that’s what I did!} 6 hours later… you’ve got a delicious main dish for dinner! The lemon and rosemary give the chicken a wonderful flavor that reminds me of SPRING!

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 2 T rosemary
  • salt

 Slice onion and lemon into rings, and cut celery stalks in half.  Rinse off the chicken, and place in the crockpot.  {If the chicken is thawed out I usually remove most of the skin first, but this time it was frozen so I didn’t.}  Sprinkle with salt.  Arrrange celery around chicken.  Cover the meat with the onion and lemon slices and then sprinkle everything with rosemary.  Cover and cook for 6-7 hours on high {3-4 hrs if chicken was thawed out.}

Before...

 

After!

After you eat remove all the meat you can put the bones and skin back in the crockpot with the cooked lemon, veggies, and drippings and fill up to the top with water.  Cook overnight on the low setting and in the morning strain out the solid stuff and keep the chicken broth.  It’s so savory!  This is a great broth to use for the Rosemary Pumpkin Soup!  I freeze it in quart baggies up to 6 months.  It’s a great way to get more than one meal out of your chicken!

 Enjoy your Spring Chicken!!!!

 

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Tuesday Tutorial: How to Make Applesauce!

Tuesday Tutorial: How to Make Applesauce!

Ever have a bunch of apples that are getting a little too soft to eat? {Maybe it’s just me, but I HATE biting into a mealy  mushy apple!}  Don’t through them out though!  Make your own applesauce!  In the fall we picked a bunch of apples from our neighbor’s trees {with their permission, of course!}  Even though they lasted quite a while in cold storage, they were getting to that point where we needed to use them up! 

So here’s what we did!

1.  Wash apples thoroughly.

 

2.  Cut up apples.  (You can leave the core and just quarter them, or use a handy-dandy corer-slicer.) If your apples were hand-picked cut out any wormy  or yucky parts.

3.  Pour a little water to a big stock pot (enough for to cover the bottom of the pan with an inch of water) and add the apple slices.  Cook apples on medium heat until very soft.  Keep an eye on it and stir often.  A little burnt applesauce will ruin the whole batch.  {And, yes, I know that by experience!}

4.  Run cooked apples through a foley mill to separate skins and any stray seeds.  Taste your applesauce and add sweetener and/or cinnamon if you like.  If it’s too thick just add a little water.  Store the applesauce in freezer bags or jars!  {We also use empty yogurt containers if we’re going to freeze the applesauce, but be sure you don’t over fill them…and yes, I know this by experience too!}  If you want to can your applesauce to store long-term follow these instructions for a hot water bath canning for about 25 minutes (depending on your altitude.)

**If you don’t have a foley mill another way to make applesauce is to peel and core your apples to remove all the skin and seeds before you cook them.  Cook the fruit down with a little water and you have chunky applesauce.  If you want really smooth sauce run the batch through a blender! 

The nice thing about applesauce is that you can do a batch of any size!  If you just have a few apples, you may have enough sauce for lunch!  If you have crates of apples like we did, you can make a lot to freeze or can and not worry about wasting all that good fruit! 

Cinnamon Applesauce!

 
 Use your homemade applesauce as an oil substitute in baking for lighter/healthier recipes too!

DIY Yogurt!

DIY Yogurt!

Today’s Tuesday tutorial is DIY yogurt!  Yup, homemade yogurt!  My mother-in-law first introduced me to this idea. Courtney’s mother also shared her recipe with me. Now we share with you!  It’s easier than you think!

All you need is milk, cream, and 3 tablespoons of plain yogurt!  (Some recipes don’t even require the cream, but HELLO?!? Who doesn’t like cream?) And once you make this yourself, you can use your own yogurt for the next batch and you’ll {theoretically} never have to buy yogurt again! So…here we go: let’s make yogurt!

This basic recipe uses:

  • 1 quart milk (I used whole organic milk, but regular milk should work just fine)
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 3 T plain yogurt

To start, set out your 3T of yogurt while you’re gathering all the stuff, so it’s close to room temp by the time we need it. We’re going to be heating milk, and I used a double-boiler method (one big pot of water and a smaller pot of the milk sitting inside it) just to be on the safe side so as not to scald the milk.  {Or should that be “so as to not scald the milk”?…it’s too late for me to figure it out! I hope you get the drift!}

Go ahead and get your big pot half full of water and heat it up to boiling.  And while you’re waiting for water to boil you can fill the sink with cold water and ice cubes.

Add milk and cream together in a pot and heat it to 185 degrees (F) stirring constantly. 

Heating the milk and cream to 185 kills all the bacteria.  Once you reach 185 remove the pot of milk/cream from the heat and set it in your sink of cold water.

We’re waiting for the temperature of the milk mixture to cool down to 110 degrees (F) which is the temp our good yogurt-producing bacterial really like!   Once it’s down to 110, set the pot on a counter and pitch (a cool way of saying “add”) the yogurt to the milk and stir together.

Now we want to keep this mixture around 110 degrees undisturbed for 8-24 hours, and give that good bacteria a chance to do its thing.  You need to cover your mixture, and there’s a couple of ways you can keep it at the ideal constant temperature:

  • Courtney’s mom wraps the pot in a heavy bath towel and sets it in her oven with the oven light on for the 8-24 hrs.
  • This website is what my mother-in-law follows and it sets a heating pad on a medium setting under the pot and covers everything with a towel for seven hours. (Use a bread board to protect your counter!)
  • The method on this website only heats the milk to 100 degrees and just sets the jars of milk/yogurt mixture in a camping cooler filled with warm water! {For now I’ll play it safe and heat mine to 185 though!}
  • Wrap the covered pot in a bath towel and set it in a large crockpot on the WARM setting (not low!) without the crockpot cover for two hours.  Turn off the crockpot (and unplug it) and cover the whole thing with another towel and let it sit over night. Since I don’t have an oven with a light this is my preferred method. 

    Cover the pot with a towel too!

In the morning (or wait even longer if you want it a little tangy-er flavored yogurt) carefully lift the lid off the pot.  Hopefully you smell a cheesy, slightly sour smell and the milk mixture has congealed and looks something like this:

From here stir up your YOGURT and pour into containers…I used quart jars. Old yogurt containers work too.  Your yogurt will thicken a little once it’s refrigerated and cooled, but it will be runnier than the store-bought stuff since it’s the real deal with no added pectin or gelatin.  It should last about 3 weeks.  Feel free to double or even quadruple this recipe if you want to make a bigger batch.   Again, another way to customize your yogurt is to let it sit longer before you stir it up if you want it to have more tang.  And there you have it: your own yogurt!

This yogurt has no sweetener, so you can try adding a spoonful of your favorite jam for a fruity flavor or a smidge homemade vanilla extract and maple syrup for a really creamy yummy treat!  Oh, or you can eat it with homemade granola!!! That’ll have to be a future post.  And I better stop now…I’m getting hungry! 😀

How do you like to eat yogurt?

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Crockpot {Pinto} Beans

Crockpot {Pinto} Beans

I once tried to make refried beans at home.  It was not pretty.  They were down right gross.  As I explained what I did to Maria, {our co-worker at the restaurant Courtney and I served at} she laughed at me.  “You did what?!?”  She took pity on me, and invited both of us over to show us how to make authentic  beans and Mexican rice.  I will forever be grateful! (And so will my husband!) :)

Now I pass the knowledge on to you!

 

This big bag was from Costco. If memory serves me right it cost less than $8.  The nice thing about beans is they last a loooooooong time, they’re healthy, and they’re cheap!

Start by filling a teakettle or pot with 6-7 cups of water and bring to a rolling boil.  While you’re waiting, rinse about 2 cups of dry beans.  After rinsing dump them in the crockpot.

 Once the water is boiling, pour it over the beans and cover.  Maria salted the beans at this point, but since I’ve discovered yummy desserts with cooked beans I hold off and add salt just before eating.  Set your crockpot to high and in about 3 hours you’ll have cooked beans!

{2 cups of dry beans and 6 cups of water yielded 5-6 cups of cooked beans for me and a lot of “juice”}

If you want to make Mexican refried beans make sure you don’t drain the beans.  You want some of that juice!

In a large skillet heat oil on medium-high setting.  I use grapeseed oil.  It’s healthy, flavorless, and able to withstand high temps!  And I didn’t measure–SORRY–but just use enough oil to lightly cover the bottom of the whole pan.

***WARNING: Now this is where it can be dangerous so clear little ones out of the kitchen!  We’ll add watery stuff to hot oil and it SPLATTERS!  Very carefully add a couple of scoops of cooked beans with some of the bean juice.  I did two cups cooked beans.

Once the spattering stops grab a potato masher and mash!   This is a great time to add salt and spices if you like. Maria just used salt.   I add salt, a little onion powder and a little cumin for really flavorful refried beans.  A little salt really does bring out the flavor.  If they’re not tasting quite like refried beans you get at the Mexican restaurant, add a little more salt and then taste again!  If the beans are too dry, add more bean juice.  If they’re too wet, just keep mashing/stirring and wait.  The liquid will evaporate.  That’s the great thing about this recipe…it’s very adjustable!

This is the consistency I like.  The rest of the cooked beans I didn’t use to make the refried stuff, I put in a baggie {with juice!} and froze.  They’re easy to thaw out and throw into soup, make chili, or more refried beans at a later date!

These refried beans are delicious with salsa and cheese as a meal. My husband also loves when I make a big batch and do a bunch of bean and cheese burritos to freeze.  It’s an easy and delicious lunch for him to take on the road! A side of Mexican rice {stay tuned for a later post!!!!} is a great compliment and a yummy touch to burritos too!

So, there you are: Crockpot Pinto Beans!  I’ve used this same method for black and great northern beans too.  Some bean varieties just take a little longer to cook.    Enjoy!

 

 

 

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Southwestern Quinoa Black Bean Salad

Southwestern Quinoa Black Bean Salad

What is quinoa? It’s a very healthy seed masquerading as a grain.  It’s cooked a lot like white rice but with a LOT more nutrition!  Quinoa is high in fiber, whole protein, and minerals like manganese.  It is low on the glycemic index if you’re watching your blood sugar and it’s naturally gluten-free.  Check out this article if you want to know more about the health benefits.

One downfall to this “superfood” is that it is BLAND!  Sure,  it’s good for me, but who cares if I’m not gonna eat it?!?! My kids eat it with a little honey drizzled on top, but I need a little more umpf to tempt my taste buds.  Thus I found a more flavorful way to actually enjoy this little wonder-seed: a yummy southwestern flavored salad!

Ingredients:

  • 1 c dry quinoa then cooked according to package directions
  • 1 c or can cooked black beans
  • 1 red/yellow/orange bell pepper chopped
  • 1/4 c cilantro chopped
  • 3-4 green onions finely chopped (or half a yellow onion)
  • 1 lime
  • 3 T honey
  • 3 T olive oil
  • Salt to taste

 

 

 

 

Cook quinoa as directed.  It looks like this when done:

Cut lime and squeeze all the juice into a small bowl.  Add honey and olive oil to the lime juice and stir together until well mixed.  Pour liquid over the quinoa and add the beans, chopped onion, and pepper.  Stir together, salt to taste, and there ya go: a flavor-FULL version of quinoa that I hope you will enjoy!

The fresh-cut pineapple compliments the flavor of this salad wonderfully!!!

Amazon has a 4 pound bag of organic quinoa on sale right now for 50% off!   This should last you a while!

 

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Savory Rosemary-Pumpkin Soup

Savory Rosemary-Pumpkin Soup

This is one recipe that I wish had an aroma-link or something, because it smells soooooooo good while cooking it!  I happened to have some pumpkin to use up and this was a yummy way to do it!

Ingredients

  • medium onion (chopped)
  • 3 garlic cloves (chopped)
  • 1-2 celery stalks (preferable with leafy tops) chopped
  • 1  t  rosemary
  • 2 dashes cayenne pepper
  • 1 dash allspice
  • 3 oz reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 4 cups pumpkin puree (or 2 cans of store-bought)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • chopped cilantro for garnish

Drizzle olive oil and saute onions, garlic, and celery for 5-7minutes until veggies are soft.  Add rosemary (I used whole leaves and crushed them a bit before throwing them in the pan), cayenne, allspice, and a little salt & pepper.

Pour chicken stock and pumpkin into a pot on medium heat.  Back in your frying pan add the cream cheese to the veggies.  Once the cream cheese has melted pour whole cheesy-veggie mixture into the pumpkin broth.

Allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Then comes the fun part…the blender!  Puree in batches.

Pour soup back into the pot and salt & pepper to taste.  Serve with cilantro garnish.  (You can also add sour cream if you like, but it was plenty creamy for me!)

Enjoy!

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