Posts Tagged ‘Healthy’

My husband, FHE, eats two apples a day.  And that doesn’t include other fruit he may grab on his way out the door.  He loves fruit.  I don’t love fruit.  (Translation: I have my preferences.)  But I love fruit desserts. 

This is a no-fuss apple dessert – a recipe I devoured by the pan-full while I nursed Rice Kernel.  No dough rolling; no need for neatness.  All the warmth and deliciousness of a scratch-made dessert.  A “crisp” is merely a layer of tender, sweet apples topped with a “crisp” butter, flour, and oatmeal topping.  Simple and comforting, this cinnamon-scented crisp is best served warm from the oven, topped with whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 

Lighter, Whole Wheat Apple Oatmeal Crisp


4-5 medium apples, any variety (2 pounds), peeled (optional), cored, and sliced or diced
2 to 3 tbsp agave nectar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp fine salt
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup uncooked rolled oats
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (I found canola oil works as well)


  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F and arrange a rack in the middle.  Lightly coat an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Combine the apples, agave nectar, cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon of the salt in a medium bowl and toss to coat.  Place the apple mixture in the prepared baking dish and set aside.
  3. Mix together the brown sugar, oats, flour, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl until evenly combined. With your fingertips, blend in the butter pieces until small clumps form and the butter is well incorporated, about 2 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the apples and bake until the streusel is crispy and the apples are tender, about 30 minutes. Let cool on a rack at least 30 minutes before serving.

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Rice Kernel’s tastebuds have been a bit finicky of late.  But he’ll never deny this Italian classic made healthier.  Baking the chicken (as opposed to frying) significantly lightens the dish, but still maintains moistness and flavor.  The result is a comforting, warm, cheesy, crunchy, and tangy dish without much guilt.  I used chicken tenders here since their size is kid-friendly (and they defrost last-minute) but feel free to use whole breasts or boneless thighs.  You can also substitute eggplant or zucchini for a vegetarian alternative.  We used leftover homemade sauce but if it makes your life easier to use store-bought, you’ll hardly notice the difference in between the layers of crunchy breadcrumbs and gooey cheese.

Baked Chicken Parmesan



Vegetable-Loaded Tomato Sauce

2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
1/2 medium onion, grated or chopped finely
1 carrot, grated or chopped finely
1 tbsp basil, chopped
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp agave nectar or sugar
Salt and ground black pepper


3 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp white-wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
8 chicken tenders or 4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves (or deboned thighs)
3/4 cup of breadcrumbs (homemade or store-bought; we used whole-wheat panko)
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (FHE likes less parmesan – you can increase to 1 cup for more flavor)
1/2 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, sliced or shredded


  1. Prepare the sauce.  In a large saucepan set over medium-high heat, cook onion and carrots until tender, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook an additional 1-2 minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes, basil, oregano, thyme, sugar, a pinch of salt and pepper.  Simmer until sauce thickens a bit and flavors meld, about 10-12 minutes.  Adjust seasonings if necessary.  Keep warm.
  2. Preheat oven to 450° degrees F.  If using chicken breasts, cut in half for smaller pieces.  Place meat between two layers of plastic wrap.  Using a meat pounder, flatten chicken pieces to an even thickness – between 1/4 – 1/2 inch.
  3. Whisk together mustard, vinegar, salt, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, milk and beaten egg in a large bowl, add the chicken pieces, tossing to coat well. 
  4. In a shallow plate, mix together the bread crumbs, grated cheese, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.
  5. Dredge the chicken pieces one piece at a time in the crumb mixture, coating completely.  Press the crumbs in gently to adhere and transfer to a parchment-lined (or nonstick) baking sheet. 
  6. Bake in the middle of the oven until golden and cooked through, about 15 minutes.  Ladle sauce over the chicken.  Sprinkle with cheese and return to the oven for another minute or two.
  7. Serve with side of pasta, rice, or bread.  (If you’ve got time, make it into a chicken parm panini!)

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Killer B’s.  I’m neither referring to Rice Kernel’s fear of bumble bees nor the former members of the Houston Astros.  I’m trying to teach Rice Kernel that the former are our friends in the garden.  With respect to the latter, I grew up in a baseball-loving family so three “B’s” naturally connote one thing in my mind.  But I’m rambling about pointless things.  And there are important matters to discuss, like this sinlessly moist bread.  This is the recipe for which I patiently wait for bananas to turn brown.  Fluffy with a melt-in-your-mouth crumb (even with whole wheat and teff flours), it is hard to stop at one slice.  And you don’t have to with its nutritional stats.  Chances are high that if you came to visit me, I’d have a pre-sliced loaf in the freezer waiting to be warmed up.  Deserving of some cream cheese frosting or, my preference, crunchy peanut butter, it is guiltlessly delightful paired with a glass of milk or a cup of tea any time of day. 

Buttermilk Banana Bread, adapted from Anja’s Food 4 Thought


1/4 cup + 1 tbsp agave nectar
1/4 cup buttermilk (I used low-fat)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp canola oil
2 very ripe bananas, mashed (about 1/2 cup)
1 egg (or 1 tbsp flax seed meal + 3 tbsp water; sit for 2 minutes)
1 cup whole wheat flour (I like to use 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 teff flour)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup walnuts, pecans, raisins, chocolate chips, banana chips (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Cream Cheese Frosting

5 tbsp cream cheese 
4 tbsp agave nectar
Nuts or banana chips (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, beat the egg.  Add agave, buttermilk, vanilla extract and canola oil and mix well.  Stir in mashed bananas.
  3. In a big bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. 
  4. Combine wet ingredients and dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Stir in optional nuts or other mix-in.
  5. Pour batter into prepared loaf.  Bake for about 30-40 minutes, until cake tester comes out clean.
  6. When cool, combine cream cheese and agave nectar in a small bowl.  Frost with a thin layer and top with optional nuts or banana chips.

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Growing like weeds: cilantro and parsley. Perfect for even the garden black thumb.

I’m not sure what happened here.  I can’t call this recipe a failure.  But it certainly didn’t come out as intended.  I was hoping for baked falafels reminiscent of the ones my sorority frequently ordered for Sunday night dinner from Aladdin Falafel House.  (I’m not making the name up.)  Deep fried with a crunchy exterior and a smooth green center, we delighted in packing them into pitas and dousing them in creamy tzatziki sauce.  Eager to recreate the delightful fritters for Rice Kernel to try, I found a healthier baked recipe and set off to gather ingredients from the garden and pantry. 

What happened after that was a mess.  A helter-skelter mess, Rice Kernel said.  (Taken from one of his favorites – Berenstein Bear’s The Messy Room, in case you’re wondering.)  The scoops of batter could barely be formed on the cookie sheet.  I reluctantly set them into the oven but when it came time to flip, they lost all shape.  Bean dip it would be.  The flavors were as I remembered – herbeaceous, spicy, garlicky, and impossibly light for being made from such hearty beans.  The boys and my Dad munched their way through the bowl in half a sitting.  Trash can averted.

But Rice Kernel and I are still waiting for some baked falafels… Any thoughts on where I went wrong?

Falafel Dip or Baked Falafel, from Epicurious (same ingredients for both the dip and baked falafels)


1 15 oz can of drained, rinsed chick peas
1/2 small white onion
1/2 cup fresh parsley, loosely packed
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, loosely packed
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 tbs kosher salt
1/4 tbs black pepper
1 tsp lemon juice
cooking spray or olive oil
Directions for Dip

  1. Blend all the ingredients in a food processor until you reach desired consistency.  Cook in a skillet with a light drizzle of olive oil.  Serve with pita crackers, pita chips, mini pita pockets, hummus, tahini sauce, tomatoes, lettuce and/or cucumber.

Original Epicurious Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans.  Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse in a food processor until almost smooth.  Form into small balls, about 1 1/2″ in diameter and slightly flatten. Place onto an oiled baking pan.
  2. Bake for 15 minutes on each side, until nicely browned (since it’s baked, only the part actually touching the pan will be browned and crispy).

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Moist, hearty, and flavorful, these are the kind of muffins that make you feel good about yourself and your morning.  Made with wholesome ingredients, the addition of pear puree adds a sensual honeyed flavor and a beckoning perfume.  Topped with thick, creamy, protein-packed yogurt, this is breakfast’s healthiest cupcake!

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pear Muffins with Greek Yogurt “Frosting,” cupcakes inspired by Joy the Baker’s oatmeal applesauce blueberry muffins


1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup unsweetened pear sauce (or pureed canned or fresh, ripened pears)
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk or yogurt
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tbsp canola oil
2 large egg whites (or one egg), lightly beaten
Mix-ins of your choosing: 3/4 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen), chocolate chips, candied ginger, nuts, etc.


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper cases or spray with nonstick cooking spray.  (This recipe will yield 12 to 15 muffins, depending on mix-ins.)
  2. In a large bowl combine flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.  In a medium bowl combine applesauce, buttermilk, sugar, oil and egg.  Combine the wet and dry ingredients and stir until just moist.  Fold in any mix-ins.  Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.
  3. Bake for 15-18 minutes

Greek Yogurt “Frosting, from Rice Kernel’s kitchen
I admit there is nothing “frosting” (in the traditional sense) about this, but we routinely slater it atop muffins and cupcakes.  Sweet and creamy, it is a healthy way to glaze the top of any breakfast muffin.


1 cup Greek yogurt (flavored Greek yogurt also works, although I use plain typically, which has no/less sugar)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup powered sugar, sifted


  1. Whisk all ingredients until they become a bit thick.
  2. Place in the fridge to thicken even more (at least 30 minutes).
  3. Spread on cake, cupcakes or a sweet quick bread

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