I love gingersnaps. They're one of my favorite kind of cookies, and it makes me sad that they're often relegated to a Christmas cookie. Why limit such a delicious cookie to only one time a year?
Ginger is a root with numerous health benefits. It's has antioxidant effects, can help decrease nausea, and it has anti-inflammatory properties. All the more reason not to limit one of the most delicious ways to eat ginger to only one time a year.
This recipe uses both ground and fresh ginger, which give the cookies an extra spicy, gingery kick.
I was running low on butter when I made these, so I swapped it for Greek yogurt which has a closer consistency to softened butter than oil. I also used white whole wheat flour, but whatever flour you have at home will work.
Fresh Ginger Cookies
Yields: 2 1/2 dozen cookies
3/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
2 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon fresh ginger
2 tablespoons sugar (for rolling)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Whisk yogurt and sugar together, then add molasses and mix well. Add water and fresh ginger, sift in dry ingredients. Mix well.
Stick dough in the fridge for 15-20 minutes to make it easier to handle.
Scoop tablespoon size scoops of dough, roll into balls and roll in sugar. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and press down slightly to flatten.
Bake for 10-12 minutes until the middle of the cookie can’t be dented with your finger when you press on it. Cool on wire rack or enjoy immediately.
I have a complicated relationship with bananas. I love them, but as soon as they lose that last bit of green I want nothing to do with them. This often results in the last few in the bunch being destined to hang sadly in the kitchen until they get overripe and become usable again.
I tried this recipe with the latest leftovers last week. The addition of oatmeal to the classic banana bread makes the bread more filling and less crumbly. I don't think I'll ever go back to my old banana bread ways.
The use of buttermilk helps to keep the bread from getting too heavy, which can definitely happen with whole wheat grains like the oats and flour I used. I never have buttermilk on hand so, in case you're in the same boat as me, I gave you a quick cheat to save you a trip to the grocery store. Vinegar also works in place of lemon juice.
Banana Oat Bread
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
2/3 cup old fashioned oats
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 bananas, very ripe
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup buttermilk (or 1/3 cup milk and 1/3 tablespoon lemon juice)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mash the bananas until no chunks remain. Mix in honey until well mixed. Add buttermilk, vanilla, eggs, and oil and mix until eggs are well mixed in.
Add wet ingredients to dry and ingredients and stir until just mixed.
Pour into greased loaf pan. Bake 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Cool in the loaf pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Then pop the bread out of the pan and cool the rest of the way directly on the wire rack.
There are a lot of benefits to choosing meatless meals. Not only are meatless meals typically cheaper and better for the environment; they're also lower in unhealthy fats and cholesterol.
Lentils are one of my favorite meat replacements. They are a great source of protein and fiber. They easily take on flavor and pair easily with a lot of different foods. I always keep some stocked in my kitchen for last minute dinners.
Last week I was in the mood for Mexican, but was out of refried beans. So I decided to try substituting the protein portion of the taco with lentils. It turned out great!
I used soft corn tortilla shells, and then topped the lentils with salsa, sliced avocado, and a little bit of shredded cheese. If you're a fan of sour cream on your tacos, plain non-fat Greek yogurt makes a great healthy substitute.
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup yellow onion, diced
1 cup dry lentils
2 cups water
In a large, high rimmed skillet, sauté garlic and onions until fragrant. Add lentils and water, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cook until water is absorbed.
Scoop roughly 1/4 cup cooked lentils into each taco shell, then top with your favorite toppings.
Whenever I have broccoli in my produce door my thoughts always go to the cheesy rice and broccoli dish my Mom made when I was a kid. There's just nothing more comforting than cheesy goodness, in my opinion.
One of my favorite tricks for creamy cheesy casseroles is to add low fat Greek yogurt. Not only does it add creaminess while letting me decrease the amount of cheese in the recipe, it also keeps the saturated fat of the dish in check, and bumps up the protein content.
So this week, with a head of broccoli in my fridge and a goal of making a protein packed comfort food, I started cooking with that cheesy rice and broccoli dish as my inspiration.
If you split this casserole among four people you'll get about 265 calories per serving and almost 20 grams of protein. Each serving has about 35 g of carbohydrates (so a little over 2 carb choices).
Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole
1 small head of broccoli, chopped
1/2 cup sweet red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
2 cooked chicken breasts (about 3.5 ounces each), shredded
1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
2 cups brown rice, cooked
2/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease casserole dish (I used a 3qt one, 7" x 11" would also work, or 8" x 10" for a thicker casserole).
Mix all the ingredients except the cheese together. Add in about 1/2 of the cheese (1/3 to 1/2 cup) and mix. Spoon mixture into casserole dish. Sprinkle the remainder of the cheese on top. Bake for 5-10 minutes until cheese is melted.
If you've been following this blog for any length of time, you might have noticed that I love breakfast. Some might call it an unhealthy obsession, but is there really such thing when it comes to breakfast foods?
They're just so versatile and delicious!
But despite my strong feelings for breakfast and the foods it showcases, there are some mornings that I don't have time for much more than grabbing my coffee and a granola bar as I rush out the door.
That's why I'm a huge fan of make ahead breakfast ideas.
Last weekend I was feeling the desire to make something new for breakfast. I'd recently been given a large number of apples (we're talking at least 8-10 apples in my fruit drawer) that needed to be consumed in the next week, and what goes better with apples than oatmeal and cinnamon?
So the Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Bake was born!
This was relatively quick to throw together, but I don't peel apples before I cook them. Partly out of laziness, but also because there are nutrients in the skin that aren't in the flesh of the apple.
The bake makes about 12 servings, with each serving providing about 300 calories, 6 g of fiber, 8 g of protein, and 14 g of fat (almost all unsaturated). Meaning a serving will keep you full for a while! It was delicious straight out of the oven, but it also kept well. Throughout the week I would put a serving in a mason jar the night before and then microwave it (sans lid) for about 2 minutes before leaving for work in the morning.
Note: I used pecans and walnuts because I didn't have enough pecans. You can use both, only one, or the nut of your choice.
Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Bake
3 medium apples, chopped into about 1/2" cubes
1/2 cup dried cranberries
4 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
5 cups low fat milk
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9" x 13" casserole dish with non-stick spray. Mix apples, cranberries, oats, milk, oil, and cinnamon together until well mixed. Pour into casserole dish. Bake for 40 minutes, until liquid is absorbed.
Once it starts baking mix the chopped nuts with the brown sugar. Sprinkle the topping over the oatmeal bake at about the 30 minute mark.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Hopefully the feeling of gratitude will stick with you longer than the leftovers.
Speaking of leftovers, I have a recipe for you to help use up some of that extra turkey. Poor turkey, it's such a great, lean source of protein that only gets attention once a year. Maybe buy an extra turkey that's on sale, cook it up, and freeze it for later. (I have a frozen turkey thawing in my fridge right now.)
Anyway, this recipe came about because I had a can of enchilada sauce in my pantry that I was tired of looking at. The plan was to make stuffed peppers, but 2 of the 3 peppers I cut into had gone bad. So, as often happens when we make plans, the plan had to change.
This recipe was quite a hit in my house. Assuming you already have the turkey cooked from Thanksgiving (and maybe even some leftover rice laying around) it comes together very quickly. It makes about 4 servings.
Turkey Pumpkin Enchilada Unstuffed Peppers
1 turkey breast, shredded
1 can enchilada sauce
1/2 cup pumpkin
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 cups cooked rice
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup shredded cheese
In a skillet heat the enchilada sauce, pumpkin, and bell pepper over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Then add the shredded turkey. Heat for another 5 minutes, mixing occasionally to avoid sticking.
Serve up about 1/2 cup of rice per person. Scoop turkey with sauce over the rice, about 1/2 cup. Sprinkle with a handful of pumpkin seeds and a tablespoon of cheese.
Note: If you have raw pumpkin seeds, put them on a baking sheet and pop them in the oven oven at 350 degrees F for about 10 minutes to give them a little crunch.
The recipe I have for you today has two of my favorite things: a delicious fall food and quinoa. I have often extolled the virtues of quinoa. I've also talked about the wonder that is fall foods. Today's fall food is butternut squash, the deliciously nutty cousin of pumpkin.
If that bright orange color didn't give it away already, butternut squash is a fantastic source of Vitamin A. Vitamin A is important for our eyesight, as well as our immune system. Butternut squash is also a good source of fiber, potassium, and Vitamin C. All while being fairly low in calories (82 calories per cup of cubed squash).
You only need 1 cup of cubed squash for this recipe. I cut up and cooked a whole squash though (which gave me about 3 cups), and saved the rest of the squash for later in the week.
You can serve this quinoa pilaf all on it's own for a vegetarian dish. Or you can bake a couple of chicken breasts to go with it. I served it with chicken breasts basted with a mix of 2 tablespoons canola oil, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, and 1 tablespoon maple syrup. That baste was more than enough to cover the 3 chicken breasts I was cooking.
Fall Quinoa Pilaf
1/3 cup dry quinoa
2/3 cup water
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 cup cubed butternut squash
2 loose cups chopped kale
Coriander to taste
Cook 1/3 cup of quinoa in 2/3 cup of water. Bring water and quinoa to a boil, then lower to simmer until all water is gone. Fluff quinoa with fork and put aside.
Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add squash and sprinkle with coriander. Cook until squash starts to soften, about 3-5 minutes. Add kale and mix until kale cooks down. Add quinoa and mix.
Serve with chicken or as a main dish.
It has officially been fall for two weeks. Those of us in southern California would probably disagree with that (it's going to be 100 degrees this weekend! Ugh), but it's true. Fall is my favorite season. There's so much to love about it: cooler weather (supposedly), fun holidays, and so many delicious seasonal foods.
I mean, honestly, can you name a fall food that's not amazing? Pumpkins, apples, cranberries, butternut squash, persimmons, beets, pears, spaghetti squash. The list goes on and on; each one more delicious than the next.
At the farmer's market this last weekend I picked up some persimmons. I was only introduced to this fruit last fall, but I'm already a huge fan. If you've never tried them, pick up some at your local market this week and try the recipe below.
Persimmons, like most fruits, are fairly low in calories, and are a great source of vitamin C (110% of your daily Vitamin C needs in one persimmon!). They also provide iron and calcium, which is somewhat unusual for a fruit. One persimmon provides about 14% of your daily iron needs and 3% of your daily calcium.
For this recipe I made brown rice with cranberries to serve it over. Make the rice per the box directions and add in 1/2 cup of dried cranberries when it starts boiling. I also roasted two sliced beets and served them on the side.
Roasted Pork & Persimmons
6 oz pork loin
2 persimmons, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp garlic
pinch of cayenne (optional)
1 cup water
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place persimmons and pork loin in baking dish. Coat top of pork with tomato paste. Sprinkle spices over pork and persimmons. Pour water into baking dish. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until pork reaches an internal temperature of 155 degrees F. Serve over rice.
Quinoa is one of the staples in my kitchen. I love how versatile it is. You can add it to salads, substitute it for rice or pasta, make energy bites with it, or even eat it like a hot cereal in the morning. It can act as both a starch and a protein at a meal, which can make meals quick and easy (especially because it doesn't take more that 20 minutes to make).
As I've mentioned before, quinoa is a great non-meat source of protein, it provides about 8 grams of protein per cup of cooked quinoa. It's also a great plant source of iron, as well as phosphorous and magnesium. It's a good source of fiber too (a little over 5 g per cup). It's no wonder some people consider it a super food.
Because quinoa is so easy to make, it's a great make ahead food to use later in the week. For this recipe I used 1 cup of uncooked quinoa, which makes about 3 cups of cooked quinoa. I only used half of the quinoa I made, which means I have enough for a whole new meal. (If you want a recipe idea for what to do with that leftover quinoa make sure to sign up for my email list, I'll be sending a great recipe out with the weekly email!)
Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers
5 large bell peppers
1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/3 cup yellow onion, diced
2 large heirloom tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon shredded cheese
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Cut the tops off of your bell peppers and take out the centers and seeds. I like to chop up the bell pepper top around the stem to add to the stuffing. Place the peppers in a baking dish so all of them can stand up without being squished.
Heat canola oil on a skillet and then add the onion (and peppers, if desired). Let simmer for 2-3 minutes until onion is translucent. Add tomatoes and stir. Sprinkle coriander and let simmer for 5 minutes. Mix in quinoa, allowing the quinoa to sop up the juice from the tomatoes, then add 1/4 cup of cheese.
Use a spoon to scoop the stuffing mixture into each pepper. Fill to the top of the pepper, then sprinkle some of the remaining cheese on each pepper.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until cheese is melted and pepper is soft.
Right now I have 3 very ripe bananas in my kitchen. People who know me know how rare that is. I loathe ripe bananas; as soon as they lose the green at the top, I'm done with them. They're just so banana-y. But I purposefully let these bananas ripen (it took a lot of self-restraint, believe me) so that I can make one of my favorite energy bite recipes I found on Pinterest (link at the bottom of the post).
It's just bananas, peanut butter, oats, and chocolate chips, and they roll up into easy grab-and-go little balls of energy. They're the perfect pre-workout snack. Fueling up pre-workout is so important; have you ever tried to workout hungry? It's not fun, and you definitely don't perform at your best. Plus, you run the risk of forcing your body to burn muscle glycogen (which means breaking down muscle) just to make it through the workout. Kind of defeats the point of exercising, right?
When it comes to the pre-workout snack, carbohydrates are your friend (I mean, they're always your friend, but especially before you hit the gym). When you're exercising, your body needs immediate fuel. Carbohydrates provide fuel that is ready to burn, whereas fat and protein are a slower sources of fuel.
Post workout is when you want to get some protein in, as well as more carbohydrates. Did you know that consuming carbohydrates and protein post workout actually increases your body's fat burning ability? It can also decrease muscle soreness as you recover and increase your ability to re-hydrate. You want to have a recovery drink/snack/meal within an hour after your workout for the best results. The absolute best recovery drink? Low fat chocolate milk. It provides the perfect mix of carbohydrates and protein for optimal recovery, so you see the results you want.
Here's the recipe I mentioned at the beginning of the post. For the "heaping" spoonful I do 2 tablespoons of creamy, natural peanut butter. I also cut the chocolate chips to 1/3 cup. What are some of your favorite pre and post workout snacks?
Taryn is a Los Angeles based Registered Dietitian who's passionate about helping you be your healthiest you.