Category Archives: Healthy Recipes

Healthy

How to reuse olive brine, oil from sundried tomatoes and more (and transform it into fabulous fare)

The next time you eat the last olive out of the jar and go to wash the brine down the sink, stop! You are about to pour flavor down the drain.

My kitchen motto is “think before I toss.” I can’t stand wasting food so I am constantly looking for ways to reuse ingredients and save items people normally throw away- like brine or the oil in sundried tomatoes. Those ingredients are incredibly flavorful.

Olive brine is great in marinades (just use it instead of vinegar in your recipe); mix a tablespoon into mayonnaise when making potato salad; mix brine, olive oil and Italian seasoning and use it to marinate vegetables; add a dash to a dirty martini or Bloody Mary; or make my Fat Free Olive Brine Smashed Rosemary Potatoes.

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I don’t eat potatoes very often because once you add all the flavorings like butter or cream, they are so fattening. This is a fat free recipe that uses olive brine, rosemary and chives to flavor the potatoes. I came up with it this week and considering it is fat free, I think it’s great.

As for the oil in a jar of sundried tomatoes- that’s my favorite leftover ingredient. You can mix it with balsamic vinegar for an instant salad dressing; use it to dress orzo or other pasta; use it as the oil when you make goat cheese omelets;  use it instead of olive oil when you make croutons or crostini; or make my Warm Bruschetta. This is my favorite recipe and it’s ready in less than 5 minutes. I simply slice grape or cherry tomatoes, warm some of the oil in a pan, toss the tomatoes in with basil and cook for 1 minute. Salt to taste and serve.

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You can also save the oil from artichokes and use that in marinades or salad dressings.

Pickle brine is another item you can reuse. It’s good in marinades, but I often refill the jar with other items like cucumbers or carrots and reuse the brine. I have a recipe below for Spicy Dill Carrots which is simply carrots, onions and jalapenos in dill pickle brine.

Brine from hot peppers is good in marinades, barbecue sauces, or add a touch to deviled eggs (but use sparingly).

Beer is another item I can’t stand to waste. A couple of days ago, I tried a new beer and I hated it. There was no way I could drink it, so I put it in the fridge to use in the future. The next day I made Leftover Beer BBQ Chicken.  You can also make beer bread, beer cheese dip, or use leftover beer to boil brats (add onions to the beer and finish the brats on the grill).

There are so many items we throw away every day that we can reuse. I hope this inspires you to think before you toss. Enjoy.

Fat Free Olive Brine Smashed Rosemary Potatoes

1 pound microwave in a bag red potatoes

¼ cup olive brine

¼ cup chopped chives

2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook potatoes according to package directions. While the potatoes cook, chop the chives and rosemary.

When the potatoes are ready, empty the bag into a serving bowl and smash them down.

Pour the brine over potatoes. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Then top with chives and rosemary. Toss and serve.

You can also substitute basil in this recipe if you don’t like rosemary.

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Warm Bruschetta

2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, assorted colors

1 ½ tablespoons oil left from the sundried tomato jar

10 basil leaves

Salt to taste

Slice cherry or grape tomatoes in half. Set aside.

In a nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add tomatoes and cook for 1 minute. Sprinkle with basil and salt to taste. Serve immediately.

This dish is delicious over couscous or with French bread, but I also like it alone as a side dish.

 

Leftover Beer BBQ Chicken

6 chicken thighs, legs, or breasts

1 tablespoon barbecue rub

1 ½ teaspoons Cajun seasoning

1 teaspoon jerk seasoning

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

Half an onion

2 cloves of garlic

1 almost full bottle of beer

1 bottle of KC style barbecue sauce

White rice for serving

Lay chicken in a 13 by 11 inch pan. Sprinkle with all the seasoning. Slice the onion and garlic and sprinkle both over the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375. Pour beer in the side of the pan being careful not to wash off the seasonings. Pour half the bottle of barbecue sauce over the chicken and then stir about a fourth of the bottle into the beer. You will use about ¾ a bottle.

Bake for 1 hour (check it after 50 minutes because cooking times vary depending on the size of the piece of meat and what you cook. Breasts cook faster than thighs).

Serve over rice and spoon the sauce over rice before serving.

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Spicy Dill Carrots

2 cups leftover juice from dill pickles

1 ¼ cups carrot slices (I buy the precut carrot chips)

2 jalapenos (or to taste), sliced in half

Half a red onion, thinly sliced.

When the jar of dill pickles is gone, simply fill it with carrots, jalapeno and onion. Refrigerate for 2 days before eating. Consume within 10 days.

If you add the jalapeno seeds, it will be significantly spicier.

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Healthy Chocolate Pudding- it’s dairy free, gluten free and still fabulous

A healthy chocolate pudding?

Yes. I wish I could take credit for this recipe, but I can’t. My husband is a teacher and one of his colleagues brought this to a meeting. He came home and told me I had to get the recipe for this rich, incredible chocolate pudding.

What makes it so special? Avocados.

The basis for the pudding is actually avocados but you cannot taste them because the flavor is disguised by cocoa powder. This recipe is easy to make- all you do is blend the ingredients.

You can serve this chocolate pudding for dessert or even breakfast (for those of you who must start your day with something sweet). This is a healthier alternative to cinnamon rolls or doughnuts. While the pudding is high in fat and calories, it’s an excellent source of fiber (16 grams), potassium (contains 36 percent of DRV), and contains 7 grams of protein and 24 percent of your daily vitamin C and iron needs.

If you compare that to a chocolate doughnut which is high in fat and calories too, the doughnut has virtually no redeeming properties- it’s high in sodium, has almost no fiber, no potassium and no vitamin C.

And if you eat it with sliced strawberries, raspberries, pomegranate seeds, or a banana, you boost the health benefits and already have one serving of fruits and one serving of vegetables for the day.

I adapted the original recipe, cut out some of the sugar and dairy (replaced it with almond milk), and came up with this version.

The key is it needs 8-12 hours to marinate so make it before you go to bed. It’s shockingly good. If you don’t want it for breakfast, it makes a great dessert.

 

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Chocolate  Pudding

2 ripe avocadoes

½ cup cocoa powder

¼ cup Silk Dark Chocolate Almond Milk

4 to 6 tablespoons agave syrup

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Serving suggestions: serve with sliced banana, ¼ cup pomegranate seeds, ½ cup sliced strawberries or 1 teaspoon orange zest.

 

Slice avocados in half and remove pit. Use a spoon to scoop out the flesh of the avocado. Place in a food processor with cocoa powder, almond milk, agave and vanilla extract. I start with 4 tablespoons and add more sweetener if needed.

Pulse until smooth. Cover and refrigerate 8-12 hours before serving.

Serve with fresh fruit.

 

Calories: 411; Fat: 23.7 g; Cholesterol 0; Potassium 1269 mg; Carbs 57g;  Fiber 16.3g; Sugar 1.5 g. Protein 6.8 g. Also contains 24 percent of DRV of vitamin C and iron.

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Curried Chickpeas (Quick and Economical)

If you want a delicious dinner for less than $5 per person (with leftovers), make this.

This meal comes together in about 15 minutes and cost me  $5 total to make (but I had all the spices, butter and salsa on hand already so I didn’t buy those).

It serves 2 and there’s plenty of curried chickpeas leftover for lunch the next day, Simply make some rice and serve the chickpeas over that or stuff them into a baked potato.

You can also buy two acorn squashes and stuff those and this will serve 4.

The nutty chickpeas, spicy curry, and crunchy green pepper and were a beautiful contrast to the sweet, tender acorn squash flesh.

It was cheap, quick, filling, delicious and healthy. This dish is an excellent source of fiber, vitamins C, A, and B.

I hope you enjoy it

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Curried Chickpeas (Quick and Economical)

Serves 2

1 acorn squash

2 tablespoons butter, plus 2 teaspoons

1 medium red onion

1 green bell pepper

1 ¼ teaspoon curry powder

1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 (15-ounce) can of chickpeas, drained

½ cup salsa

Cut acorn squash in half and scrape out the seeds. Stab the flesh several times with a sharp knife. Season with salt and pepper and place 1 teaspoon of butter in the cavity of each half. Place in a microwave safe bowl with 1/2 cup of water on the bottom. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 12-15 minutes, or until tender.

While that microwaves, chop onion and bell pepper and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil. When hot, add onion and cook 3 minutes. Then add green bell pepper and chickpeas and cook 4 minutes. Add salsa and heat through.

When squash is done, remove it carefully and peel back the plastic wrap carefully being sure not to put your hand in front of the steam.

Stuff each squash with curried chickpea mixture and serve.

Mango, Pineapple Salsa (serve it as an appetizer first and leftovers on pork, chicken or fish)

I love salsa. Fruit salsa. Smokey salsa. Charred salsa. Jarred salsa. Green salsa. You name it, I love it.

But I particularly love this Mango, Pineapple Salsa. One of my best friends makes a similar salsa and this is my version. My salsa won “Best Overall Salsa” at a friendly competition and it was up against an array of excellent salsas.

Aside from being delicious served on its own, this salsa is great on grilled fish or pork. I recently marinated pork chops for 24 hours in Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki sauce (online) http://www.soyvay.com/flavors/veri-veri-teriyaki) and then pan fried the pork and topped it with the leftover salsa. It was fantastic!

 Pork with Mango, Pineapple Salsa

If you don’t have that sauce, use soy sauce, ginger, 1 teaspoon canola oil, 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar  and 1/2 a garlic clove for 3-4 pork chops. That makes a nice marinade. A pork loin marinated in Asian sauce, grilled and then served with this salsa would be spectacular.

This would also be great on chicken or fish tacos.

The key to this salsa is ripe, sweet fruit. Mangoes are hardly ever ripe when you buy them, so I buy them 3-4 days before I need to make this salsa. I also buy extras in case some are not sweet. Whenever I have to use avocados or mangoes I buy extra because you’ll often get a disappointing one in the batch. I bought 5 mangoes to be safe. There were all sweet, so I ate the others for breakfast.

Let this marinate for 2 hours or more before serving. You can adapt this recipe and add 2/3 cup drained black beans to this and it’s delicious, too. In that case, I also add 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

If you can’t find ripe mangoes, you can use the jarred refrigerated type, but fresh is always best!

I like to serve it in a margarita or martini glass for nice presentation. It’s such a refreshing salsa for summer. I adore it!

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Mango, Pineapple Salsa

2 1/2 very ripe mangoes, chopped fine

2 ½ cups finely chopped fresh pineapple

¾ of a medium red onion, chopped

2/3 of a bunch of cilantro, chopped

1 large jalapeno, seeded and chopped fine

1 teaspoon cumin seed

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

Sea salt to taste

.Directions:

Chop all the ingredients and place in a medium bowl. Add salt to taste. Toss and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

Light Greek Chicken Salad

If you love chicken salad, but are watching your fat intake, then try my Greek version. It has less calories, less than half the fat of traditional chicken salad, and calcium and probiotics. You can shave more calories by using low fat yogurt and it still tastes good.

It’s a light and healthy version.

Dill and Kalamata olives really pump up the flavor in this dish. I use garlic salt to flavor it, too. I enjoy this salad in a wrap, but you can also serve it as a salad or with pita chips as a dip.

The key is to refrigerate it at least 2 hours before serving (more is always better).

Light Greek Chicken Salad

1 rotisserie chicken

4 green onions

1 stalk celery

1 cup chopped cucumber

1/3 cup chopped Kalamata olives

1 cup plain Greek yogurt (whole or low fat)

1 teaspoon dried dill weed

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Garlic salt to taste

Pepper to taste

Remove all the skin from the rotisserie chicken and discard. Then pull the meat off the bones and chop the entire chicken into pieces. Place it in a large container with a lid.

Chop onions, celery, cucumber and Kalamata olives and add to chicken.

In another bowl, stir together Greek yogurt, dill week, lemon juice and a dose of garlic salt. Pour over chicken and stir to combine all ingredients.

Cover and refrigerate at least two hours before serving. Add garlic salt and pepper to taste before serving.

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Chicken Fattoush Flatbread

I love, love, love Fattoush, a Middle Eastern salad that explodes with flavor. I was first introduced to it at a Lebanese restaurant in Ghana. I lived in Ghana, in West Africa, for years and it has some incredible restaurants.

Fattoush is served with warm pita, usually crispy from the oven. If you have leftover pita from a party or pita that’s about to go stale, you should make Fattoush.   Fresh herbs, like parsley, mint, basil, are key to this salad. I pack a lot of parsley in mine and often use cilantro, too.  The vinaigrette is simple, lots of lemon and olive oil. If you love lemon, add the lemon zest, too.  I hit mine with a general dose of black pepper and garlic salt and load on the green onions.

My mouth is watering.

The concept of the warm pita was my inspiration for this flatbread. To transform the salad into a main course, I added rotisserie chicken and then piled it all atop of whole wheat flatbread. I made my own flatbread, but you could use Naan or pizza dough or pitas instead.

If you’re looking for a HEALTHY, delicious dinner, you’ve found it. It’s so light and flavorful. It’s the perfect summer dish.

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Chicken Fattoush Flatbread.

serves 2

1 cooked, crispy flatbread crust (I made my own whole wheat but it’s faster to buy one; my recipe follows)

1 1/2 cups thinly sliced Romaine lettuce

3 green onions, sliced

½ cup chopped flat leaf parsley

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro or mint

1 cup chopped cucumber (peeled or unpeeled, it’s up to you)

1 cup chopped rotisserie chicken

2/3 cup sliced grape tomatoes

Generous dose of garlic salt

Generous dose of black pepper to taste

Dressing

2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon lemon zest (optional)

Salt

For the dressing, whisk ingredients together. Salt to taste and set aside.

Bake flatbread according to directions. You want the salad to rest for 5-10 minutes before you add it to the flatbread  but you also want the flatbread to be warm, so read the instructions before you make the salad so you time it right.

For the salad:

Thinly slice the lettuce and green onions and place in a large bowl.

Chop the parsley, cilantro or mint, cucumber, chicken, slice tomatoes and add to bowl. Pour salad dressing over salad and add a lot of black pepper and garlic salt. Taste as you go so you don’t oversalt. Allow it to rest 5-10 minutes.

When pita is ready, top it with the salad and serve.

You can use a pizza, pita or flabtread crust or make your own. For this portions, you will need 3-4 whole wheat pitas or

Whole Wheat Flatbread Crust

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons active yeast

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup lukewarm water

Stir ingredients together in a large bowl. Drizzle olive oil over the dough, cover the bowl with a clean towel and place on the oven to rise for 6 hours. Turn the oven on to 200 degrees or more to help it rise.

When it’s time to cook, preheat oven to 450 and place baking sheet in the oven to heat.

Split the dough in half. Coat your hands with flour and work the dough into a ball (you may need more flour). Sprinkle corn meal and flour on a flat surface. Start working the dough in your hands, pinching it to spread it out. Then place on the floured surface and spread with your fingers until you have a piece of flatbread.

When oven is ready, remove the baking sheet, sprinkle it with cornmeal to keep the dough from sticking, and bake 10-13 minutes, until crisp.

Top with fattoush and serve immediately.

Lettuce Wraps with Sweet Peanut Sauce

Looking for something easy, light and refreshing in this summer heat?

Well, try my lettuce wraps. They are SO EASY and healthy.

They are versatile, too. You can add any vegetable you’d like. I have swapped soba noodles for rice noodles; added snow peas in my wraps; and love to add shiitake mushrooms!!! A little mint is nice, too. Thinly sliced daikon is great in these.

The more veggies, the merrier. The peanut sauce comes together in minutes. It doesn’t have any ginger, but you can add some if you ‘d like.I’d suggest starting with 1/8 teaspoon and going from there because ginger is potent.

There’s hardly any cooking in this recipe, so it’s perfect for people who don’t want to spend much time in the kitchen.

I hope you enjoy these.

Lettuce Wraps with Sweet Peanut Sauce

Serves 2

2 rotisserie chicken breasts, sliced

8-10 Bibb or Butter lettuce leaves, washed and dried

Two handfuls of fresh cilantro

½ cup shredded carrots

1 ounces of rice noodles

Sesame oil or your favorite Asian dressing

1 cucumber, sliced thin

1 green onion, sliced thin

Sliced bell pepper (optional)

Peanut Butter Sauce

¼ cup creamy peanut butter

½ cup boiling water

1 tablespoon brown sugar (do not make this heaping or it will be too sweet)

1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon soy sauce

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First: cook your rice noodles according to package directions. They cook fast, usually in about 3 minutes. When they are done, drizzle with sesame oil or your favorite Asian salad dressing like Sesame Ginger. Rice noodles are fairly flavorless and this will add some depth of flavor and prevent them from sticking together.  If you want then to cool quickly, place in a metal bowl and pop it in the fridge.

Slice all the vegetables and place on a large platter or divide them between two plates.

Remove the skin from the chicken and place on a plate.

Make your peanut sauce.

For the sauce: Stir all ingredients together until they are combined. The water must be very hot to dissolve the peanut butter.

You can also make this on a stovetop in a small pot, but then it needs to cool before serving because the peanut butter will separate and become too thin while piping hot.

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Then make your own wraps by placing desired toppings in the lettuce leaves and then either topping it with peanut sauce or dipping in peanut sauce.

Sprinkle with sliced green onion and eat.