With the chilly winter weather in full swing, I just cant get enough soup! Chicken noodle soup has always been one of my family’s favorite comfort foods, but the traditional egg noodles that are used can really add up the calories. By simply subbing out the egg noodles with “noodles”, which is just zucchini that has been spiraled, I was able to make my homemade chicken noodle soup recipe a LOT lighter and healthier. Now I can indulge in a big bowl of delicious chicken soup for just 3 Smart Points! It’s so delicious and satisfying, and absolutely guilt free. Spiraled zucchini can be used in so many recipes, and it’s really quite fast and easy to do. If you don’t have one already, I highly recommend one. The one I have (THIS one) is small, cheap, and does a great job…no need for anything fancy. If you love chicken noodle soup but have been avoiding it because of the high calorie noodles, this recipe will win your heart.
I don’t know about you, but our garden is winding down. I love to have the fresh garden vegetables all summer, but there comes a point when I get tired of it (particularly of the 1 billion cherry tomatoes when my husband doesn’t eat them). So, I’m always a little bit glad to see the garden slow down and not have to come up with any new recipes for cherry tomatoes, squash, zucchini, eggplant, and whatever else I might have growing like mad. But I wanted to give one last recipe a try. Actually, I wanted to create on last recipe. One of my favorite cakes is the Texas sheet cake. I love the flavor and texture of that cake, it’s rich but not too sweet and the frosting is just delicious. There are two problems with it – it’s dry when I make it gluten free, and it’s not exactly healthy. So, I thought I’d try a gluten free healthy makeover version. And it was definitely a success! Chocolate zucchini cakes are always really nice and moist, and applesauce is a great way to replace oil or butter in a cake (ONLY cakes and quick breads, not everything). So, I got to work. I found a very low sugar frosting recipe (not quite the same, but seriously amazing). I think adding the zucchini and the applesauce really makes a difference when it’s gluten free. Quite often, I find that if I’m not really careful, my gluten free cakes tend to turn out a little drier than I like. This one was perfect. And if you don’t need gluten free, just substitute a plain wheat flour, cup for cup. [Read more…]
I really like to use beans in things because it makes it much lower in fat than meat, but it’s still a great source of protein. Beans are also a great source of fiber – which really helps when you’re trying to eat healthy and lose weight. The fiber helps to fill you up and when you feel full longer, you’re less likely to eat as much. They’re also so handy to have on hand. I usually just have a variety of canned beans on hand (several cans of each) so that I have them ready to go when a recipe calls for them. I wanted to do something with fresh garden vegetables, but something with a definitely Mediterranean flavor to it. I ended up combining a couple of recipes, including one with a really tasty oil and vinegar dressing. I used a low calorie pita bread as a scoop and I fell in love with it. It’s easy to put together and right now you can get garden fresh veggies and herbs to put in this. It’s fabulous fresh, and (I think) even better after it’s had a day or two to marinate. While I had it with pita bread the first time, it really wasn’t necessary. It was just as good with a spoon! This will definitely become a favorite salad for my lunch options. [Read more…]
I typically do most of the cooking in our house. We have a great deal – one cooks and the other one cleans. However, there is one thing that my husband does that is far, far superior to my efforts. Pie – my husband makes incredible pies. We usually have a number of pie fillings (peach and apple) made up and frozen so all he has to do is make the crust and plop in the filling. However, recently, I thought it’d be fun to have a slight change from the normal. So, instead of the usual large pie, we made little individual cherry pies. They were amazing. It was really fun to have little individual pies that we could share with some ice cream for a sweet treat after dinner one night. The remainder can be easily frozen so that they’re ready to thaw, warm and serve. It’s a great way for me to practice portion control, since it’s always very tempting to have another piece.
Saturdays I usually make a delicious brunch. Pancakes are one of my favorite things to make on days like that. I recently found a carrot cake pancake recipe and thought I’d give it a try. I really liked it. The carrot is a mild flavor that adds moisture to the pancakes – much like zucchini in chocolate cake. I topped mine with fat free Greek yogurt and fresh blueberries. I added a little bit of maple syrup for a little extra sweet – and it was delicious. Be sure to grate the carrots by hand, the store-bought grated carrots are just too coarse and you’ll end up feeling like you’re eating carrot stick pancakes. Hand grated carrots are much more fine and tender, so they just melt into the flavor of the pancake. Give these delicious dessert-like pancakes a try – you won’t be disappointed! [Read more…]
Around the holidays last year I made a couple of Swiss cake rolls. I really enjoyed making the cake rolls. It turns out they’re not as difficult as I thought they were. The trick is to roll them while the cake is still warm, then they can be unrolled, filled and rerolled fairly easily. I used parchment paper to roll my cake and it worked perfectly. With some leftover fresh strawberries, I decided to try a strawberry cake roll – and it was fabulous. I started with my favorite frosting recipe – cool whip and low fat cream cheese. While I prefer to use real whipped cream, I can get almost the same flavor with cool whip, but without the fat! Then I added fresh chopped strawberries for my filling. I went the easy route and used a plain box mix for the cake. You can use any flavor you like – white, yellow, funfetti, chocolate – whatever you prefer or whatever you have on hand. The box mix makes this easy to make and really light and fluffy. It was fun, delicious and looks beautiful and elegant. Since my husband doesn’t like chocolate – it’s even better! It’s now one of my favorite non-chocolate desserts! [Read more…]
Last summer, some of my friends made some blueberry ice cream that was just amazing. It was made with whole milk and fresh blueberries, sweetened with honey, and was absolutely fabulous. This summer, I decided to try it, but ended up making frozen yogurt instead. I’m lactose intolerant, so I can only do a very small amount of ice cream before I end up regretting my decision. Starting with yogurt and making frozen yogurt seemed like a great alternative. And it was. I started with fat free Greek yogurt. It provided a delicious and creamy base for the dessert, but without the fat. I used plain yogurt since I wanted to add a bit of honey for flavor, and the vanilla was easy enough to add as well. I used my frozen yogurt and sorbet maker from Cuisinart, but you can use any ice cream maker you have. Alternatively, just stick the mixture in the freezer and you’ll end up with a very tasty dessert just as easily as you would have with an ice cream maker.
Now that I live in the Midwest I’ve learned to love potatoes. In fact, we have a lot of potatoes now. And we have them just about every way imaginable. But when I’m doing mashed potatoes or roast potatoes like this, I really like to use Yukon Gold potatoes. Their golden color makes them look like they’re filled with butter, when they’re really not. I pan fried my potatoes in a little butter because I wanted a little brown on the edges of the potatoes. But since I didn’t want to fry them with that much butter, I them baked them until they were tender. This gave me the best of both. They were a little crispy and had beautiful golden brown edges but weren’t so soaked in butter that I could feel my arteries hardening while I ate them. I added my usual garlic and a little crushed rosemary to give them a little woodsy flavor. If you don’t care for rosemary, you can also use a little ground or crushed thyme for a similar flavor. The result was delicious potatoes that went perfectly with roast pork loin. These were quite simple to prepare and incredibly delicious – all without breaking the points bank. [Read more…]
I love to roast vegetables. It’s one of my favorite ways to cook vegetables. It makes the flavors so much richer and more delicious than just steaming the vegetables. I also like to roast them because I can have them ready to go in the oven for Sunday dinner and have the oven set to go on at a specific time. That way they’re ready to go when we get home from church and I have very little prep to do for Sunday dinner. I decided to branch out a bit for these roasted vegetables. I typically do potatoes and carrots, celery and maybe some peppers, so I decided to really make these bright, colorful and different. I started with some very young and tender asparagus. I broke the tough ends off (just bend the stalk and the tough end will snap off, you’ll be left with tender asparagus spears). Then added two colors of carrots, beets, bell peppers and broccoli. I added my usually olive oil and garlic, but then added some rosemary and basil with my salt and pepper. I usually just mix it on the pan (so I don’t have to wash another dish) and then stick it in the oven. You can roast them immediately, or do a delay start (if your oven has one) so that they’re ready to go when you get home. I wouldn’t recommend leaving them all day, but they’re find for an hour or two. I loved the bright colors and different textures of the vegetables. They’re perfect with roast chicken, beef or even pork. Really, they’re perfect with just about anything. I love to add them to my meal when I know that the rest of my meal isn’t going to be colorful and pretty, since they not only add fiber and texture to my meal but make the whole table seems colorful and festive. [Read more…]
Fresh strawberry muffins are one of my favorites. About a year ago, my mother-in-law gave me a recipe for fresh strawberry muffins that I fell in love with. They were so tender, delicious and moist. The fresh strawberries made them really tasty. My only problem with them was the fact that they were a little involved to make. The way to get them to turn out perfectly involved sifting dry ingredients, creaming butter and sugar, and so on. I’m someone who likes to toss baking recipes together all in one bowl, mix and be done. So I went on the search for a simple and delicious replacement for my favorite strawberry muffins. I found these blender muffins that were just perfect. Originally, they had bananas in the recipe, so I tried it without first and just added the strawberries. They’re OK that way, but the bananas add the extra moistness that they really needed to be tasty. Everything, except the fresh strawberries, gets tossed in the blender (or food processor), pureed and then fold in the strawberries. They’re ready to go in just a few minutes, and bake in a few more minutes. Fresh out of the oven they are just amazing. I’m really enjoying my new strawberry muffin recipe, especially since if I use gluten free oats, they’re gluten free, and have no need for me to adjust flours. They’re easy, tender, moist and really delicious. They’re perfect for breakfast or snack – whether they’re fresh and warm or leftover.
One of the best things about June, in my opinion, is that there is so much produce that comes into season. It’s perfect for all sorts of delicious, seasonal and healthy food. Smoothies are something that I really enjoy. They’re a quick and easy breakfast or snack. Since I’m usually the only one to eat the smoothie, I’ll make up the whole recipe, then leave the other half of the smoothie in the fridge for a snack later on in the day, or breakfast for the next day. One thing I noticed with this wonderful strawberry banana smoothie is that it’s important to make sure you let the blender blend for quite a while. In fact, it’s not a bad idea to start with the oats, pulse them into a flour and then add the rest of the ingredients. The first time I tried it, I just tossed everything in together (like I always do for smoothies). But between the oats and the frozen strawberries, it wasn’t as delicious and creamy as I was expecting. The next time, I blended the oats first then added everything else and it worked much better. Give this one a try – with sweet and juicy strawberries, protein packed yogurt and heart healthy oats, you can’t go wrong. [Read more…]
In addition to some projects we were working on last weekend, my in-laws also brought us some really delicious, fresh, ripe blueberries. I love blueberries. Growing up, my grandparents lived on the coast of Washington. Grandma had the most amazing blueberry patch ever. It was about 6 feet by 10 feet and completely encased in a large chicken wire cage, to keep the birds out. The only downside was the bugs, because we could go in there and have as many blueberries as we could eat. Each summer, I try to get some fresh blueberries so that I can freeze them to add to sauces, muffins and all sorts of other things the rest of the year. A few blueberries have to be saved to be eaten fresh, and a few have to be used in a special recipe. This years special recipe was fresh blueberry muffins.