Tag Archives: Healthy

Herb-Roasted Carrots

One of the reasons that it is really, really great that I have Fritz around is that he keeps me accountable to make real food for dinner.  Not that he demands it, ’cause he doesn’t, but because it’s fun to cook for someone who is so appreciative, and well…let’s face it–he gets a little grumpy when he’s underfed.

I have a weird tendency when he isn’t home (or in this case, when he gets food at school) to made a side dish, eat it as a main dish, and then have a bowl of cereal a few hours later when I unavoidably get hungry again.  It’s not really the best life strategy, except that it’s easy and I get to test side dishes for future filling, nutritious, and well-rounded meals.

Herb-Roasted Carrots

  • 8-10 medium-sized carrots, scrubbed
  • 1 t olive oil
  • 1 t each your choise of fresh herbs, chopped–I used garlic chives and curry leaves
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Scrub the carrots down (or peel them if they are big, bad carrots and not sweet baby or adolescent carrots), and chop them in half lengthwise if necessary (the bigger they are, the more likely you chop).

Lay them on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the herbs and salt.  Toss them until they are lightly coated with oil and herbs, then bake at the middle rack for about 20 minutes.

They will be soft and naturally sweet, but with a nice salty, herby flavor.

You could also toss these on the grill for a smokier version.  That’d be excellent.

I also found these carrots (from our CSA box) to be more orange than your average carrot.  It’s not just the picture.  Crazy, huh?

Tomorrow is my second day of my pediatrics clinical, and so far (I know, one whole day of experience) I’m really liking it.  I’m not sure if that is so much because I’m finally getting to do what I really want to do, or if because working at a school means that I get to come home and see this face by 2:30 on Tuesdays and Thursday:

Either way, I like it.

Advertisements

7 Comments

Filed under Side Dishes

Popcorn Snack Bars

Today without a doubt felt like the longest day of class I have experienced in a long, long time.

It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, but I think I’ve just been a little more tired and run down than usual from being out of my normal routine all weekend.  We even watched a movie (The Sea Inside) during my first class, which I really liked, but it didn’t help move the day along any faster.

In fact, the only thing that kept me from passing out on my plinth from exhaustion was probably these popcorn snack bars.  Since I knew we were watching a movie, I wanted to bring in some theater treats that would be delish and hopefully leaning towards healthy for some of my friends to enjoy.

Orville Redenbacher to the rescue!

Popcorn Snack Bars Printable Recipe Card

  • 8 C popped popcorn (preferably the plain, healthy, non-butter-flavored kind, if you can)
  • 2 C old-fashioned oats
  • 1 C almonds (or any nut)
  • 1 C raisins (or any dried fruit)
  • 3/4 C honey
  • 3/4 C brown sugar
  • 1/4 t salt

First, pop the popcorn.  You can use regular bags if you don’t have a fancy-smancy Whirly-Pop that you received as a wedding gift from your awesome older sister and her hubs (thanks, Erin and Bruce!).  I used about 1/2 C unpopped corn in 2 T of vegetable oil to pop this batch.

While it’s off popping (not popping off), combine the honey, salt, and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Stir until all the sugar is dissolved, then remove from the heat.  Next time I make this recipe, I’m going to try using straight honey with no added sugar.  I’ll let you know how that goes.

In a gigantic bowl, combine the popcorn, oats, fruit, and nuts.  Make sure to pick out all the unpopped or partially popped corn so none of your friends or family break their teeth (but if they do, I know a dentist-to-be…).  Pour the honey syrup over the top, and stir it all up.  Use a giant spoon (and let’s be honest, it’s going to get all over your hands), to make sure everything gets covered in the sweet stuff.

Grease a 9″x13″ pan (I used spray canola oil), and dump the popcorn mixture right in.  Use your hands to press it down firmly (you may have to get your hands the slightest bit oily to do this without sticking).  If you are crazy like me, you can press some white (or regular) chocolate chips leftover from your zucchini brownies into the top of half this mixture.  Yum.

Refrigerate for an hour or two before cutting.  That’ll make it easier to slice ‘n’ dice–but the bars themselves don’t have to be served cold.

These are kind of like a fiber-filled and nutritious version of a rice krispy treat.  Even without the marshmallow, they still have that admirable sticky and pull-apart texture of a rice krispy treat.

The honey flavor is definitely the best part of these bars.  With the slight crunch of popcorn, the chewy and honey-soaked oats make these totally hearty.

And delicious.

Definitely delicious.

Also, check out our CSA box number eight!  I’m super excited for the content of this week’s box–looks like I get to have some fun with flavor and get away from salads for a little while. 

Driving home from picking out the box was amazing–the dill and garlic was so aromatic even from the back seat that I know I’ll be dreaming up soups for at least a week.

26 Comments

Filed under Desserts, Snacks

White Chocolate Chip Zucchini Brownies

We’ve got a lot of zucchini around these parts.  Your standard green zucchini and the special golden variety–lots of ’em.  Since Fritz and Eber (his sister) are hangin’ around this weekend, and both are notorious chocoholics, I decided to make them a special vegetable delectable treat.

White chocolate chip zucchini brownies.

They are fudgy, chocolatey, and incredibly moist, studded with walnuts and white chocolate chips.  You also can’t see the zucchini at all.  It’s a beautiful thing.

White Chocolate Chip Zucchini Brownies (adapted from Skinny Chef) Printable Recipe Card

  • 1 egg
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1/4 C vegetable oil
  • 1 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/4 t cinnamon
  • 2 C shredded zucchini (leave the skin on and use the small holes of the grater)
  • 1/2 C walnuts
  • 1 C white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and oil a square brownie pan. 

Combine the egg, oil, sugar, and vanilla.  Add the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon) and mix until blended.  Fold in the zucchini, chocolate chips, and walnuts.

Pour the batter into a baking pan and bake on the middle rack until cooked through, 30-45 minutes.  The brownies were still a bit fudgy when I took them out of the oven,leaving some wet crumbs on an inserted toothpick.  Not only is that okay, it’s the best.  Do it. 

I was shocked at how high the batter rose.  I was afraid they would be too much like cake, but with the zucchini, they were super moist and dense.  Total brownie delight.

Plus, I got to use up two (smallish) zucchini to make the magic happen.

By the way, I just ate one that I microwaved for 10 seconds (I stored them in the fridge), and they definitely got even better over the last few hours. 

They’d be amazing with a little ice cream.

Thought I’d also show you the gorgeous green monster I made this morning: basically the classic green monster, but with the addition of a beet.

Magenta monster?

17 Comments

Filed under Desserts

Carrot Cake Green Monster

Sick of green monsters yet, are ya?  Well, if you need to switch it up (and if you are anything like me, and you like your breakfasts to taste like dessert), than boy have I got the recipe for you.

But first I want to show you what we got in our CSA box number six this week (get ready, it’s a good one):

So yes, I see some more carrot cake green monsters in my future.  And speaking of them, here’s the recipe!

Carrot Cake Green Monster (Carrot Cake Green Monster Printable Card)

  • 2 small carrots and their greens, or one large carrot and its greens, or spinach to substitute for carrot greens
  • 1 ripe banana (mine was frozen)
  • 1/2 C skim milk, 1/2 C water (or 1 C skim milk, or 1 C water…)
  • 1/8 C old-fashioned dry oats
  • 1 T hemp powder (optional, obvy)
  • 1 T Carnation instant breakfast (I started using these up to get rid of them, and now I actually like a little in my green monsters–you could also use protein powder, or just skip it)
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 4-5 ice cubes

Layer the way we always do: liquids, oatmeal, and powders on the bottom, then leafy greens/carrots, then bananas and ice cubes on top.  The heavy stuff on top helps weigh the leaves into the blender mechanism.  Blend away until smooth.

Top with a sprinkle of extra cinnamon, and indulge yourself.  Cake.  For breakfast.  Drinkable cake.

It really does taste a lot like carrot cake!  Fritz requested to have one of these, and it was a nice change from peanut butter (but don’t worry, peanut butter green monster–you’ll always be my number one).

And yes, carrot greens are edible!  Some people are allergic to them, but if you aren’t, then try ’em.  They taste a little like carrot-y parsley, and definitely make the carrot cake green monster more carrot cake-y.  If you go to a farmer’s market, you can usually find carrots with their greens.

I also have been eating them in salads–just be sure to chop them finely to avoid any unpleasant throat scratching from their weird shape (just like curly kale or parsley).

So how’s studying going?  Pretty well.  Henry finds it to be pretty boring, though, and is falling asleep all over the place:

You know it’s sad when I’d rather watch my cat fall asleep than study.  But don’t worry, he’s not sleeping all the time.  Still plenty of time for this:

15 Comments

Filed under Beverages

Carrot-Ginger Soup

I know that I already claimed that I made my last warm soup for the year, but I lied.  I love soup.  I’ll eat soup in the winter, in the summer, at school, after work, in a box, with a fox…

Seriously, I love soup.  It makes me feel warm and fuzzy on the inside.  So needless to say, even though the last few days have been perfect sunny shorts and tee-shirt weather, I jumped at the chance to make soup today since it never broke 70 (and by now, it’s downright chilly!). 

When it’s gray outside, make the brightest orange soup you can inside.  It’ll cheer you and your sad studying self right up!  I found this recipe in the new cookbook I bought a while ago, and just knew it would be amazing.  So simple, so tasty, so…orange.

Carrot-Ginger Soup (adapted from You Can Trust a Skinny Cook by Allison Fishman)

  • 2 T butter
  • 3/4 lb carrots, peeled and roughly chopped (I used baby carrots.  Sweeter.  More convenient)
  • 1 medium onion, roughly diced
  • (1) 2″ piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 t fresh thyme leaves (7-10 short sprigs)
  • 1/8 t salt
  • 3 C chicken broth
  • 1 T chopped parsley, for the garnish

Melt the butter in a largish soup pot over medium heat.  When you are making a recipe like this, where there aren’t a million ingredients, this first step is important–and the butter will make a difference in taste.  Don’t use oil.  Embrace the butter.  Love the butter.

Be careful not to let the butter brown, and add the onion, carrots, and ginger.  Stir in the thyme leaves and salt.  Go easy on the salt–you can always add more, but you can’t take it away.  The chicken broth will also add salt, even if you are using low-sodium.

Saute for a few minutes until the veggies begin to soften, about 5-6 minutes.  Pour the broth in, and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the vegetables are completely cooked, roughly another 15 minutes.

 

Here comes the fun part.  Pour the soup in the blender and give it a whirl.

The cookbook says to take the plastic part of the lid out, so the steam doesn’t build up in the blender and explode an orange mist all over your ceiling.  I don’t want that, and I’m fairly certain you don’t want that.  Plus, you get to watch the steam make some very pretty patterns as it blends.

Once blended, pour into bowls and top with the parsley. 

The garnish gives the soup a nice bright finish, and tastes perfect with the warm carroty base.  And be prepared–that big hunk o’ ginger gives it quite a kick!  You’ll be feeling warm and fuzzy in no time.

And don’t forget to admire that beautiful color.  When shades like this are found in nature, they are made to be celebrated.

Anyhoo–I’m headed back to the jail cell that is my desk.  Only five finals and a project to go this week, then I’m visiting my sister in Boston for her birthday.  I can’t WAIT.

4 Comments

Filed under Soups/Stews

Summer Picnic Pasta Salad

What a beautiful weekend.  Seriously.  I don’t even care that I didn’t study nearly enough for my final and most likely didn’t do that well, judging from the despair I felt while gaping at the first page.  But, that’s all over with (I’m sure I didn’t fail) and now we can just move on to the next test, and meanwhile I’ll just start enjoying summer (or spring…you know.  I get excited).

Four fun things that happened recently:

1) We went to my BFF Jen’s house for a mother’s day/birthday BBQ, and I brought my go-to “summer is here!” pasta salad.

I’m pretty excited for warm weather.

BBQ weather.

That’s why I married a South African.  Strictly for the BBQ.

2)  Jen’s mom gave us the rights to a pile o’ firewood that they had for their old fire pit, which has been replaced by one that burns sterno.

3) Fritz bought a fire pit on sale at Home Depot.

Let the marshmallow toasting begin!

4)  Jen’s mom also gave us a backup battery for our new camera, because she accidentally bought the wrong size for her new camera.  Score!

Love that woman.  And not just for the presents.

But let’s get back to the pasta salad.  It’s based on a recipe my old roommate in college used to make, and now it’s a staple for any grillin’ adventure that may take place.  I love it.  I’m obsessed with it.  It’s easy, it’s versatile, it uses whatever ingredients you have in the house, it’s healthy, and everyone likes it.

What else do you want from me?  I’m giving you a gift here!  Free of charge!

Summer Picnic Pasta Salad

  • 1 box whole-wheat penne (or you can use any other pasta shape, but I always stick with penne, ’cause the peas fit so perfectly inside)
  • 1 C frozen peas
  • 1/2 C grated carrot
  • 1/2 C sliced artichoke hearts
  • 1/4 C chopped sun-dried tomatoes (sometimes I use halved grape tomatoes, around 1 C)
  • 1 small can sliced black olives
  • 3-5 T olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar (1/4 C? 1/3 C? I never measure–just pour over and taste, taste, taste until you like it!)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-3 T light italian dressing–I only use this occasionally, when I’m trying to finish off a bottle or the pasta tastes a bit dry.  You definitely don’t need it!

Cook the pasta according to directions, and drain it. 

Speaking of pasta, I feel like I’ve been totally cheated!  The Barilla pasta I used to use is only 51% whole-wheat, and I just noticed it.  So not cool, Barilla.  I grabbed a few America’s Choice store brand whole-wheat pasta, which is made with all durum semolina flour, and I felt better.  Plus it was on sale, and I love a sale.

Dump the pasta in a bowl and add the frozen peas, which cools it to room temperature quite nicely.  Add the rest of your toppings of choice, then start dressing it. 

Not exactly the most helpful recipe, I know, but seriously, all you need is the idea.  I usually drizzle the olive oil over the top, mix that in, and then go to town with the balsamic.  Once I get the right taste, I salt and pepper it just a touch.  The artichoke hearts and olives add a nice touch of brine and the sun-dried tomatoes!  Just yum.

This is good.  Guh–ood.  Not to mention that eating this pasta salad fills me with the joy that is a summer BBQ.

So come over and hang out at my new fire pit!  Who needs to study, anyway?

Here’s the birthday girl herself:

And blowing out her birthday candles:

Happy birthday, Jenny!  Next time this year, we’ll be graduating!

It was a good day.  Nothin’ like a BBQ to take my mind off of life.

What’s your go-to dish for a summer picnic?

8 Comments

Filed under Salads

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls

Today was such a beautiful day!  Fritz started opening up the pool and we grilled chicken for our dinner salad today–summer’s on its way!  Even finals can’t get me down on a day like today.

Unlike winter midterms, it’s easier to not care about my finals because the weather is just so darn nice.  Which is probably not a good thing (but only three weeks to go ’till I’m a third year!)

I took a nice long study break to make a recipe that I found on FoodGawker (or TasteSpotting…I can’t remember which) for sweet potato cinnamon rolls.  The site is called So Good and Tasty, and there are some beautiful photos on there that you should go check out!

Rejoice with me.  They came out fluffy, sweet, orange, and fluffy.  Did I say fluffy already?  Lightest, finest (is that a word?) cinnamon rolls ever–you would never guess they are made with whole-wheat flour.  Or sweet potatoes, for that matter.

When I say you should make this recipe immediately, I really mean it.  I’m not cryin’ wolf.  Go make them.  This is a “healthy” treat that actually tastes incredibly decadent.  The best part?  It makes enough that I froze two more batches of unbaked cinnamon rolls, all ready for the lucky person that sleeps over next (Eber–that might be you!).

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls (makes 16-24 rolls)

  • 1 C milk, warmed
  • 4 t yeast
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 2 C mashed cooked sweet potato (hello, microwave!  I used 3 1/2 small sweet potatoes)
  •   2 1/2 C whole-wheat flour
  • 2- 2 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 t salt
  • 6 T butter, softened
  • 1/2 C cinnamon sugar (I didn’t measure how much I used–this is a rough estimate)

Combine the milk, yeast, and maple syrup in a bowl and set it aside until the yeast gets nice and foamy.

Keep an eye on it, though.  Don’t be like me.

In the mixer, combine the sweet potato, olive oil, salt, egg and 1 C of flour (I started with the wheat flour).  Mix until fluffy (see?  this is where the airiness begins!).

Add the yeast combination to the mixer bowl and mix on low until it’s all blended.  Starting with the rest of the whole-wheat flour and finishing with the all-purpose, add the flour slowly until the dough forms a ball and cleans the side of the bowl–it’ll still be sticky.  Switch to the dough hook.

Let the dough knead for 8-10 minutes until it’s smooth, adding more flour if you need.  Cover the bowl and let sit for an hour or so until it has doubled in size.

Divide the dough in half.

One at a time, roll the dough out to a rectangle that’s about 16 inches by 10 inches.  Spread the softened butter over the top and cover with cinnamon sugar.  Starting at the long side, roll it up tightly and press the seam together.  Cut gently into sections–8 if you want giant rolls or 12 if you want smaller ones.  I did both–12 big ones and 6 small ones.

Arrange in an oiled baking dish (I put 6 large ones in a pie pan, and 6 small ones in a muffin tin), leaving space in between each one.

Cover, and allow them to rise until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown–be sure not to overbake, because they’ll dry out fast.

While they are cooling, mix together some icing by combining a little milk, vanilla extract, and confectioners’ sugar until it’s nice and thick.  Drizzle over the top and serve warm.

SO GOOD!

So good, they needed capslock to properly describe them.

One last thing–how can I get any studying done when there’s a cat sleeping on my orthopedics notebook?

11 Comments

Filed under Breads, Breakfast