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.
I love to bake this time of year. There's just something about chilly weather and a warm kitchen that feels like the holidays.
And winter has so many wonderful flavors in season - savory squash like butternut or acorn, tart cranberries, and sweet citrus. Winter is far from a barren time of year for fresh produce.
How many times have you been tempted by those vibrant bags of cranberries, but you just don't know what to do with them? Cranberry sauce really only gets a seat at the table on Thanksgiving, and eating them raw is out of the question for most people.
Well, load up on those cranberries because I have the perfect recipe for you! These muffins are whole grain, with Greek yogurt taking the place of butter to give them an extra bit of protein. The small amount of sugar paired with the citrus gives just enough sweetness to balance the cranberries' tarty zing.
Cranberry Orange Muffins
Yields 12 muffins
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 cup Greek non-fat plain yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg
1 cup whole, fresh cranberries
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line muffin tin or spray with non-stick spray.
2. In large mixing bowl, pour 1/4 cup of sugar and the orange zest. Use your fingers to mix the zest in with the sugar until the sugar is fragrant and orange hued.
3. Mix flour and baking powder with zested sugar.
4. In a small bowl beat egg and yogurt together. Add to flour mixture along with milk and orange juice.
5. Fold in cranberries. Pour into muffin tin, filling each to about 3/4 full.
6. Sprinkle remaining sugar on top of muffins. Bake ~25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Nutrition (serving size 1 muffin): ~112 calories, 4 g protein, 23g carbohydrates (3g fiber)
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.
I love experimenting with new produce. We recently signed up for Farm Fresh to You, which is a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) that delivers farm fresh produce to your house on a regular schedule. We receive a box every other week, and I always get excited when something shows up that I've never had before.
CSAs are a great way to support local agriculture and try new, fresh produce you might not regularly buy. Depending on where you live, you may find (like we did) that buying your produce this way is cheaper than a weekly grocery store trip.
Last week there was a bunch of Swiss chard in my box. If you're like me and have never had Swish chard, it's the dark leafy vegetable with the colorful stem in the grocery store. The stems can be any number of colors, red, yellow, white, orange (and of course each color means different phytonutrients). It typically has a bitter taste when raw, but that goes away when it's cooked.
Once I pulled the bunch of chard out I searched for a recipe to use it in. I settled on this one from Chowhound, but altered it a little based on what I had available (like the current tragic lack of feta cheese in my kitchen). Lentils take a little while to cook, but the rest of the recipe comes together pretty quickly.
1 cup lentils
2 cups water
1 bunch Swish chard, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Pour water and lentils into a sauce pot and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and let simmer until water is evaporated.
Chop leaves and stems of Swish chard, then sauté with garlic until the leaves are wilted and the stems are tender. Remove from heat and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. When lentils are done mix Swish chard with lentils and serve.
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.
Life can get pretty crazy sometimes. It seems one of the first things to be sacrificed when life gets busy is taking care of ourselves. We tell ourselves all kinds of excuses - "I don't have time;" "It's too much work;" "I'm too tired;" "I'm too busy." One thing we all have in common as humans is that we're all great at rationalizing our choices.
When I find myself starting that kind of excuse cycle I like to sit down and do a time audit. (Yep, it happens to me too! It might surprise you to know that wellness experts are often fighting battles similar to your own.)
I take a piece of paper and I write down what activities I'm doing in a typical work day and how much time I'm spending on them. Generally there are some places I "find" the time I didn't have.
I use a typical work day, and for things that I don't necessarily do every day, or for the same length of time every day, (for example - exercise) I add up the total time spent on it in a week and divide by 5. (We're only counting workdays/weekdays here, people. Your weekend should be yours to do what you want with).
Be honest with your numbers; if you fudge something because you feel embarrassed or guilty about it the exercise won't be effective (and you're only hurting yourself in the end).
Hint: Your total should be 24. ;-)
Between TV and browsing on my phone/computer (screen time) that's 3 hours I could be using for other things.
Now, there's absolutely nothing wrong with relaxing by watching a TV show or movie, or browsing Facebook. But doing so 3 hours every day is probably unnecessary.
I also think it's helpful to think about what TV shows/movies you're watching, are they ones that interest you? Or did you just turn the TV on and space out? (I'm definitely guilty of that second one.)
I was introduced to this method by creative career coach Dallas Travers, who was inspired by Robert Palignari's book "The Other 8 Hours." One of my favorite things about this is Dallas refers to it as "time mastery." She explains it as there's nothing to "manage" we're all gifted with the same 24 hours each day. It's about mastering that time and using it effectively.
I'd love to hear from you once you've done your time audit! How much time did you "find"? What do you plan to use it for?
If you plan to use it for some healthy meal prep, here's a recipe that will only take you 30 minutes! The key is to be prepping multiple things at once.
For example: I started the oven preheating and quinoa boiling while I prepped the Brussels sprouts. Once the oven was ready, the sprouts went in and I started prepping the kale. Once the kale was prepped it went into the skillet and the fish went into the oven. While the fish and kale were cooking I mixed together the honey mustard sauce. Once the kale was done I mixed it in with the cooked quinoa. By that time both the fish and Brussels sprouts were ready. I pulled both from the oven and plated everything, topping the fish with the sauce. Viola!
1 cup Brussels sprouts, halved
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place Brussels sprouts in a casserole dish and drizzle canola oil over them. Add garlic and mix to make sure all the sprouts are coated with oil. Cook for about 20 minutes, until sprouts are tender. Once they're done, pull the dish out and drizzle the sprouts with balsamic vinegar before serving.
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
5 kale leaves, chopped
In a saucepan, bring quinoa and water to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Simmer until water is evaporated (about 10-15 minutes). In a separate skillet sauté the kale until wilted. Once quinoa is finished, mix kale in.
2 3-4 oz salmon filets
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
Cook fish in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes (depending on your oven and whether you're cooking from fresh or frozen). While the fish is cooking, whisk together the mustard and honey. Spoon the sauce over the fish when you serve.
You may have heard that the new USDA Dietary Guidelines were released at the end of last year. There was a bit of a hub-bub in the nutrition and medical community over what was and wasn't included. One thing that was included that I am a big fan of is the recommendation to limit added sugars to 10% of your calorie intake.
Added sugar does not include the sugar that naturally occurs in fruit or milk. It does include any kind of sweetener added to food (table sugar/sucrose, honey, agave, maple syrup, etc.).
If you eat mostly whole foods and limit your intake of processed foods, it's easier to limit your added sugar intake. With processed foods you have to read ingredient lists carefully. At least until (hopefully) the new recommendations cause food labels to include an "added sugar" category.
So what does an intake of 10% of your calories look like? Well, let's say your daily caloric intake is 1800 calories, which would allow you 180 calories from added sugars, or 45 grams of sugar. About 3 1/2 tablespoons, or a little over 11 teaspoons, of sugar provide 45 grams per day. That's not impossible!
I've found that in most recipes the sugar you add can be halved without the end product losing its sweetness. Here's a recipe where I was able to reduce the sugar from 1 cup to only 1/3 cup, and it was still a huge hit! Give it a try and let me know what you think.
Blueberry Coconut Coffee Cake
1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c almond flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1/3 c honey
3 c blueberries
~1/2-1 c milk
4 tsp dark brown sugar
4 T shredded coconut
4 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Mix the ingredients for the topping together and set aside.
Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. In another bowl whisk yogurt, honey, and eggs together until well mixed. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix.
Add milk little by little as you mix until batter is a pourable consistency (similar to muffin batter). Fold in majority of the blueberries, leave some for the topping.
Pour into pre-greased 9"x13" baking dish. Sprinkle extra blueberries and topping on top. Bake for 35-40 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
I am a huge fan of comfort food, especially in the winter. One of my favorite easy, go-to comfort foods is Mac & Cheese. There's just something about short, cold days that screams cheesy, starchy goodness. And what's easier than reaching for a box of Kraft, am I right?
I usually consider Mac & Cheese a rare indulgence. But the recipe I have for you today only feels like an indulgence. The butternut squash makes the dish deliciously creamy and it's packed full of vitamin A and potassium (which most people don't get enough of).
The recipe is also super low maintenance. Although there's a decent amount of cooking time, I probably spent a total of 15 minutes actually in the kitchen. It makes about 4 servings, each serving is 325 calories with 15 grams of protein and 4 grams of fat.
Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese
2 cups whole wheat pasta, uncooked*
1 small butternut squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons shredded cheese of your choice
Cook the pasta per box directions. (I recommend doing this closer to the end so it doesn't sit for too long and get stuck together.)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cut the butternut squash in half and scoop out seeds and the stringy stuff with the seeds. Brush the tops of each half with 1/2 a tablespoon of olive oil each. Roast the squash until it's soft (about 40 minutes depending on the size of the squash and your oven).
Heat the other tablespoon of oil in a skillet and add the onion. Cook on very low heat for about 20 minutes until caramelized.
Once the squash and onion are done, place both in a food processor with the milk and puree. Pour the pureed sauce into a large bowl and mix in the 1/2 cup of cheese. You may need to reheat the sauce before you mix in the cheese to get it warm enough to melt the cheese.
Once the cheese is mixed into the sauce, mix in the cooked pasta.
Spoon evenly into 4 separate bowls and sprinkle a 1/2 tablespoon of cheese on top of each.
*The whole wheat pasta could easily be replaced with gluten free pasta if you prefer. Don't feel like you have to use macaroni elbows either. I was out when I made it this week, so I substituted rotini pasta and it worked just as well.
Taryn is a Los Angeles based Registered Dietitian who's passionate about helping you be your healthiest you.