Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Dried Fruit & Seed Muesli Buns

Ray absolutely loves the Protein Bistro Boxes at Starbucks, and they're honestly one of the few healthy/low sodium options we can find for him when it comes to eating out. But at $6 a pop, they aren't the most budget friendly option. He especially loves the little muesli buns inside them, but when we looked up the company that makes them (thinking that buying bags straight from them would be more affordable), we discovered it was $5 for a bag of 8 tiny buns (which would last all of 2 days in our house). So we went searching for a comparable recipe on the internet, and found this one by Sweet Phi. I modified it to our needs, removing the salt and upping the oats, dried fruit, and seeds. They're a great little grab & go snack for any time of day, and they freeze really well! If you have access to a Whole Foods or Fresh Thyme, it's *much* cheaper to buy the dried fruit & seeds from the bulk bins than purchasing pre-packaged ones at a regular store. I spent about $20 on the dried fruit and nuts at Fresh Thyme, and have only used half my stash after 4 batches of these buns - I'm thinking I'll be able to get 8-9 batches out of $20 worth of ingredients, so it's well worth the money!

Makes 21-24 rounds

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 packet instant yeast 
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/3 cup dried apricots, diced
1/3 cup dried apples, diced
1/3 cup dried currants
1/3 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
1/4 cup flax seeds

Combine warm water, yeast, honey, and oats in a large bowl, stir once or twice, and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes until the mixture is foamy on top.

Slowly stir in the flours, and mix until dough just begins to form. You can do this with a stand mixer with a dough attachment set on low, or by hand (which is what I do). 

Add in the chopped dried fruit and seeds, and stir a few times. 

Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead for 5-8 minutes, until the fruit and seeds have been incorporated evenly into the dough. 

Put the dough ball into an oiled bowl, cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap, and allow to rise for an hour.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and shape it into a large rectangle. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut the dough into 21-24 squares.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, take each dough square in hand, tuck the corners under to round them out, and place on baking sheet. When all the dough squares have been made into rounds, cover the baking sheets with plastic wrap (spray it with cooking spray first to keep the dough from sticking to it), and allow to rise for another hour.

Preheat oven to 375. Remove plastic wrap from the baking sheets, and bake the bread rounds for 15 minutes, or until the bottoms are slightly golden. Remove from oven and let cool on racks before eating or storing. (To freeze, let cool and place in Gallon Freezer bags. To defrost, allow them to come to room temperate on the counter, or microwave for 30 seconds).


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Kale & Tomato Crustless Quiche

When I started this blog almost a year ago, my goal was to find ways to make heart-healthy eating fun for our family, despite the huge emotional and physical transition we were undergoing after my husband's diagnosis. It's hard enough trying to cope with the emotional ramifications of your spouse almost dying, but then to realize you have to completely overhaul your family's diet overnight, and cook most everything from's daunting!

Our family loves to eat - which is a big part of what got us into this mess - so just because we had to give up the unhealthy foods in life, I refused to be relegated to a bland, flavorless diet. Not only would that make it harder on us to want to stick to it, but also there are too many beautiful spices and fruits and vegetables out there in the world for that kind of a boring diet to be acceptable to me!

So here we are ❤ And listen, I *know* the crust is the best part of a quiche. I know. But I promise this dish still has lots of flavor, even without it! The sweetness of the cherry tomatoes creates a nice contrast to the savory combination of eggs, kale, and onions 😍

Kale & Tomato Crustless Quiche
Serves 4-6

6 eggs, with 3 of the yolks discarded
1 cup milk
1 tbsp avocado or olive oil 
1 small onion, dived
1 medium garlic clove, minced
3 cups chopped kale
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 tsp thyme
Freshly ground pepper, to taste 

Preheat oven to 350, and grease a pie pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Stir in thyme and pepper, and set aside.

In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and when it's shiny, add the onions and sauté until translucent. Add kale and garlic, and sauté until kale starts to wilt. 

Pour kale mixture into the bottom of the pie pan, and add egg mixture on top. Arrange cherry tomato halves evenly over the surface.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until center is firm. 


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Ricotta Spaghetti Squash Bake

There are a few things you should note about this recipe if you're watching your sodium intake like us. Most cheeses are off-limits on a heart diet, but a few are low in sodium like ricotta and fresh mozzarella - but you HAVE to buy fresh mozzarella and grate it yourself, rather than buying the pre-shredded bagged stuff, which is loaded with sodium (trust me, it's worth the extra time - the texture and flavor of freshly grated cheese is *completely* different)

The other thing is that if you decide to substitute another green for the kale, avoid spinach because it's naturally very high in sodium.

We ate this as a side dish with chicken breasts and steamed broccoli, but the next time I make this, I plan on turning it into an entree by cutting up the grilled chicken and stirring it in.

Ricotta Spaghetti Squash Bake
Serves 4-6
1 large spaghetti squash
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 tsp thyme, divided
4 cloves garlic, 2 minced & 2 crushed with the flat of your knife
1 small onion, diced
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cups loosely packed fresh kale
15 oz part-skim ricotta
1/2 cup shredded fresh mozzarella, divided
1/4 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Drizzle the insides with 1 tbsp of the olive oil, and place one crushed garlic clove in each cavity. Season with ground pepper and 1/2 tsp of the thyme. Carefully turn halves face down on a rimmed baking tray, and roast for 30-45 minutes or until fork tender.

While squash is baking, add remaining olive oil to a skillet and saute onions until translucent. Add minced garlic and cherry tomatoes and saute for 3 minutes, then add kale and saute for an additional 1-2 minutes until it begins to wilt. Remove from heat and pour into a large bowl. Stir in ricotta cheese and 1/4 cup of the shredded mozzarella.

Once squash has finished cooking, leave the oven on at 400, and shred the insides of the squash with a fork. Scrape out of the skin and add to the ricotta mixture. Stir well, and pour into a greased baking dish. Top with remaining 1/4 cup mozzarella and bake uncovered for 15 minutes.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Farro Tabbouleh with Lebanese Turkey Meatballs

The original incarnation of this recipe was barley tabbouleh and beef meatballs, but I swapped the beef for the more heart-friendly ground turkey, and the barley for a heartier grain. The tabbouleh is pretty open to interpretation, and you can substitute most any grain like quinoa, couscous, etc

Lebanese (Turkey) Meatballs
1 pound lean ground turkey (I used 93% lean)
2 tbsp finely chopped red onion
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/4 tsp ground cumin

Put all ingredients in a large bowl, and mix well by hand. Form into 12 evenly sized meatballs, and set aside while you prepare the tabbouleh. 

Note: you can make these well ahead of time, if so desired. I made them in the morning, and put them in a covered dish until it was time to cook them before dinner.

Farro Tabbouleh
3 cups water
1 cup farro, rinsed and drained
2 cups fresh parsley, roughly chopped
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tbsp olive or avocado oil
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Fat-free Greek yogurt (optional)

In a large saucepan, combine water and farro. Bring to a boil, and let simmer uncovered for 30 min. Drain, and set aside to cool while you cook the meatballs. 

Heat a large oiled skillet (I use cast iron because it makes them nice and crispy on the outside) to medium heat. Add meatballs, and cook, turning occasionally, until browned (about 10-12 minutes). 

Finish the tabbouleh - to the cooled farro, stir in the parsley, tomatoes, red onion, and mint. In a separate small bowl, combine remaining ingredients: garlic, lemon juice, oil, and pepper. Whisk together, then pour over grain mixture and toss to combine. 

Serve with meatballs, and top with a little Greek yogurt if desired. 


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Heart-Healthy Honey Almond Granola

My husband looooves the Bear Naked Honey Almond granola, and it's one of the only kinds we've found that has zero sodium. It's also one of the few brands that isn't LOADED with sugar (which is the other thing to watch out for with granola). But the ways he mows through the stuff, we couldn't afford to keep shelling out $3.99 per tiny bag. So naturally, I did what I do - dove into the internet, read through a dozen or more recipes, and came up with a healthier hodgepodge recipe of my own.

I'd made granola before, but it was always pretty unhealthy, albeit delicious. This one contains no sodium, is as low on sugar as I felt I could go, and has a short ingredient list, which is always a win in my book. In fact, it comes together so quickly,  I can stir up a batch and pop it in the oven while the kids are trapped eating breakfast in their high chairs 😂

If you like granola, I highly recommend making your own. It's one of those things that tastes *infinitely* better when it's homemade. I wish I'd started doing it sooner not only for the financial savings, but the improved taste.

Heart Healthy Honey Almond Granola 
4 cups rolled oats
1/4 flax seeds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1 cup whole almonds
1/2 cup oil of your choice (I use avocado oil, but plain old Canola works too!)
1/3 cup honey (if you like it sweeter, you can go up to 1/2 cup)
3/4 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350, and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (once granola cools, it sticks to the pan like a BEAR if you don't). 

In separate bowls, stir together dry ingredients and wet ingredients. Pour wet ingredients over the dry and toss thoroughly to combine. 

Bake for 25 minutes (or until lightly browned), stirring the granola once halfway through to ensure even browning


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Peanut Butter Quinoa with Strawberries & Pistachios

I know it's been a good while since I posted, but I have to admit (rather sheepishly) that ever since we got into a routine with Ray's diet and figured out a steady rotation of meals he could eat, I kind of turned it over to him and let him do his own cooking. Being a mom of two, it was just too much trying to be creative with meals while taking care of 2 toddlers...especially when one of them is incredibly picky and eats next to nothing, which means I usually end up having to make two separate meals - one for me and the baby, another for her, and back when I was still cooking for Ray, a low sodium meal for him. *cue mind explosion*

Needless to say, he was getting a little sick of cooking the same things over and over the past couple of months, so as a Valentine's Day surprise, I prepped 3 quick meals so he'd have a fresh, new breakfast, lunch, and dinner today 💗

It makes 4 servings, so if you're cooking for 1 or 2, it's a great make-ahead recipe that will give you breakfast for a few days. It's also *incredibly* filling. I still feel full almost 3 hours later

Peanut Butter Quinoa with Strawberries & Pistachios
(Modified from HeartSmart Recipes magazine)

1 cup quinoa, rinsed thoroughly
3 tbsp peanut butter (we use sodium-free Krema brand)
1/4 cup no sugar added Apple juice
1/4 cup unsalted pistachios, roughly chopped
Sliced strawberries

Put quinoa and 2 cups water in a pot and bring to a boil. Cover, and turn heat down to Low. Let cook for 10 minutes, and drain off any excess water out the side of the pot.

Stir in Apple juice and peanut butter. Divide into 4 small bowls and top with strawberries and pistachios.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Slice It Up Wrap + Tex Mex Yogurt Spread

My husband has a really sweet coworker at his gym who's one of the RDN's for the facility, and she has a food blog + does cooking demonstrations at the local Whole Foods. I swiped this from her, and tweaked it to amp up the Tex-Mex flavors and reduce the sodium even more (we're kind of obsessed with cumin, and all things spicy). And bonus - if you cut up extra veggies like I did, it's a great 5 minute meal since you can grab all your Tupperware bins out of the fridge and whip up a wrap in minutes for a speedy lunch or dinner (which is great for me, since I usually eat my meals standing at the kitchen counter while the kids are trapped in their high chairs 😆). 

Slice It Up Wrap
Serves 1

1 whole grain tortilla
2 tbsp Tex Mex Yogurt Spread (see recipe below)
1/4 bell pepper of choice (red, orange, yellow...)
1/4 cucumber, thinly sliced
4 oz rotisserie chicken 
2 oz baby kale or baby spinach

On the whole grain tortilla, evenly spread on the Tex-Mex yogurt spread. Layer on the veggies and chicken, and top with kale. Roll the tortilla into a wrap, and slice into 1 inch sections. Stand each piece upright to resemble sushi rolls.

Tex-Mex Yogurt Spread

1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt (I used 0% Fage)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 bell pepper, roughly chopped
1/4 onion, roughly chopped
1/4 jalapeño, cored and seeded
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp skim milk
1/2 lime, juiced
1/2 tsp dried cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried parsley
Sriracha sauce, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a food processor or blender, combine all the ingredients and blend until coarsely puréed together. 
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