I absolutely love chocolate, but I can’t drink that much milk – it makes me sick. So, I made this fabulous dark chocolate hot cocoa with almond milk. It’s rich and delicious, and my favorite hot cocoa. It’s made from things I always have on hand, so it’s easy to throw together for a cup of hot cocoa when I need a pick-me-up on a cold fall day. I love the nutty flavor of the almond milk, and I like to top mine with a dollop of whipped coconut milk or coconut ice cream. The dry mix you can have ready to go and then just add it to almond milk to heat and serve. One cup of almond milk needs about 4 1/2 tablespoons of cocoa and sugar mix. You can also just whisk the cocoa mixture into the cold almond milk, or remove some of the hot almond milk and mix the cocoa mixture into that. It works best if you start with a little bit of almond milk to make sure you’ve got all the lumps out before you add it in (just like cornstarch or flour in gravy). The next cool fall day that you’re craving some hot chocolate – give this simple and delicious dark chocolate hot cocoa a try.
Curry is one of those dishes that is simple and delicious. This curry is even more simple and tasty – and it’s vegan, gluten free and dairy free. Chickpeas are a great food. You can make flour with them (garbanzo bean flour), add them to soups and stews and salads. They’re full of fiber and are a great source of protein. I typically use canned chickpeas, since they’re easy to have on hand and they’re ready to go. I just rinse and drain them and toss them into whatever I’m making. Curry is one that can be a little tough if you’re not careful. Some people like their curries hot enough to light their hair on fire, others prefer a little more mild. If you’re someone (like me) that doesn’t like really hot curry, you can start with half of the curry paste, and then season it to taste. If you accidently add too much, add a little plain Greek yogurt to your curry. The yogurt will help to tame your curry without altering the flavor. This curry is great for an easy and delicious weeknight meal.
Polenta was one of those things that I wasn’t a huge fan of the first time I tried it. I don’t remember exactly how I made it, but it involved premade polenta, slicing it, frying it and topping it with something. It wasn’t great. However, when you make your own polenta and it’s creamy with a little cheese, it’s really delicious. Then you can use it as a base for just about everything – herbed mushrooms, spicy Cajun shrimp, meatballs, and anything else you can think of. It really doesn’t take long to make. You just have to bring the milk and water to a boil and then stir in the polenta. Make sure to keep stirring the polenta or it’ll burn to the bottom of the pan. Polenta is a great option for vegetarians as well as folks who can’t have gluten. Since it’s made from corn, it’s naturally gluten free. You can also mix it into quinoa and add berries and honey (plus a little vanilla and skip the cheese) to make a delicious breakfast cereal. But for now, try this delicious creamy polenta topped with sautéed herbed mushrooms.
As it’s cooler now, the garden produce is pretty much done, although we’ve had a pretty warm fall. Thankfully, one of the things (or rather, two of the things) that are still keeping great since we brought them in are the pumpkins and squash. And with this hummus recipe, it’s perfect. Pureed pumpkin and squash combined with chickpeas and delicious seasonings to create a fall hummus. This hummus is wonderful on pita chips, but it’s also fabulous on carrots sticks as well. It’s a great snack and it holds well in the fridge for several days. Since it has chickpeas in it (also called garbanzo beans), it’s packed with fiber, which means it helps to keep you full longer. It’s definitely a little spicy with cayenne pepper and chili powder, but you can always season it to taste. If you’re baking pumpkin and squash, you can puree it before hand, or simply weight out 8 oz of chunks and puree them with the garbanzo beans. The reason why I recommend pureed pumpkin and squash is that is ensures a smooth texture, and that there won’t be any chunks in the hummus. Give this delicious fall hummus a try. It’ll give your day just the kick of flavor it needs!
While I am someone who typically loves meat, sometimes I like to do some vegetarian options. It’s a great way to expand my culinary horizons as well as being a great way to help the food budget. So, we try to do things like “Meatless Mondays”. Some meals are much easier to make a vegetarian option, and chili is one of those meals. Traditional tomato based chili is great, but sometimes, it’s nice to have a little variety in chili. This white chili is a variation on the common (and very tasty) white chicken chili, but without the chicken. Great northern beans make a great base for this delicious chili, and the corn adds flavor, texture and sweetness. The jalapeno pepper can be hot, but if you remove the seeds and membranes it’ll be much less spicy. Pablano peppers are mild chili peppers, so this chili is spicy, but not too hot. If it ends up being a little too hot for you, just add a little cheese or sour cream when you serve it. While the recipe is for cooking it on the stove, you can also saute the peppers, onions and garlic then stick everything in the crockpot. It’s easy to have for supper as these fall days get cool.
Stuffed peppers are something that I really enjoy, especially when I make them with pepper jack cheese. The spicy cheese adds a little spice and makes them delicious. The downside of my original stuffed pepper recipe is that it’s not healthy, not with all the meat and cheese in it. So, I went about trying to make a healthier, vegetarian version of these peppers. Well, it’s not exactly the same, but they’re delicious all the same. I used couscous, since it’s a light and fluffy way to fill these, and since my husband doesn’t like quinoa. The lemon juice, olive oil and parsley provide additional flavor in these peppers. And once you’ve got them in the oven, you can take the time to finish the rest of dinner, not to mention the leftovers are perfect for lunch.
Fall is officially in full swing, and like everyone else, I’m on a pumpkin craze. There are SO many amazing pumpkin flavored goodies and treats available right now, it’s insane! In addition to trying out some tasty looking products I find at the store, I’ve also been in the kitchen whipping up some homemade, healthy pumpkin recipes too. Though it’s been over 100 degrees here this week (boo for California in the fall!), I’ve been working on a Pumpkin Cornbread Recipe that I hope you love as much as I do! Moist, delicious, slightly sweet cornbread that bakes up light and tender boasting a traditional corn flavor, but with a hint of pumpkin and spice. Goes AMAZINGLY well with chili or soup, and if you want to spend the extra points, is best when topped with hot butter. So get on the pumpkin craze bandwagon and give my Pumpkin Cornbread recipe a try this fall. Each serving is just 4 Points Plus!
Risotto is one of those dishes that I really enjoy making. It’s rich and delicious without being overwhelming, plus it really “dresses up” my meal and makes it seem classier than it really is. One of the downsides I usually have with risotto is serving it with things like pork or chicken breast. It all tastes great, but it’s pretty monochromatic. This fabulous butternut squash risotto fixes that. The butternut squash adds flavor, fiber and color to the risotto. Since you bake the rice, it’s easy to fix the rest of the meal while the risotto is cooking. Be careful with your pans though – you want to make sure you can fit both the pan with the squash and the pan with the rice in the oven at the same time. This risotto is also vegetarian and gluten free, so it’s a great for company of any kind. If you don’t care for cooking with wine, substitute reduced fat milk for the wine. It’ll be just as tasty.
Sweet potatoes are a great alternative to regular white potatoes. They have lots of fiber, which helps to keep feeling full and satisfied longer. They’re also great for diabetics since they’re a low glycemic index food. They also make a wonderful change from the typical potato. They’re slightly sweet and rich in flavor. These home made fries are delicious. The mustard and rosemary add depth to the sweet potato. In addition to being delicious and beautiful – they’re really easy to make. Just peel, slice, toss and bake! Best of all, They’re packed with nutrients and flavor and add color to your meal. They’re a wonderful side that the whole family will love!
Crepes are wonderful. You can fill them with just about anything and they’re really delicious. Quite often we fill our crepes with yogurt and fresh fruit or a fruit sauce. We’ve also made Eggs Benedict in crepes. Really, the filling options are endless. These savory crepes are simple and delicious as well as being vegetarian. The spinach and mushroom filling sautéed in butter with onions adds wonderful flavor. They are savory and rich without being overwhelming. Crepes can be a little difficult to get the hang of at first, but don’t worry. This recipe makes about 15 crepes, but you’ll only need 12 of them for the filling. That gives you a couple of extra crepes to get the heat right, as well as figuring out how to swirl the batter in the pan. The batter will be very thin, so it’ll spread out on the bottom of the pan well. However, your first crepes might still be a little strange. I always know that no matter how many times I’ve made crepes the first one or two will be terrible, then I’ll get the heat just right and they’ll go really well. Crepes hold over well, so you don’t need to fill them if you aren’t going to eat them, just keep the filling and crepes separate. Fill the crepes and heat as needed for a snack, lunch or breakfast the next day.
What better way to get in a nice big serving of veggies than to serve them atop noodles with a delicious Asian-style sauce smothering everything! This Savory Vegetable Stir Fry dish has become a family favorite of ours because not only is it healthy and delicious, but it’s a breeze to prepare. Feel free to mix it up with the veggies and toss in whatever you have on hand. It also works great with cauliflower, bok choy, zucchini, carrots, and snap peas. You could also serve this over brown rice or quinoa if preferred, and it reheats brilliantly the next day, so make sure to make some extra for leftovers!