Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lettuce Boats

Not sure what to call these but this is the best I got, Taco Boats. :) This isn't really a recipe but more of a healthy dinner or lunch idea.  On Monday I made awesome homemade refried beans.  The sad part was that I only had one cup of dried beans so it only made enough for one meal.  I also realized later that I had used the same amount of seasonings that I would have for 2 cups of beans, so the beans had lots of extra flavor.  I recommend increasing the amount of seasonings if you like super flavorful beans.   So this is what you do for a super healthy meal.  Instead of using tortillas I used romaine lettuce leaves and topped it with the homemade beans, brown rice, tomatoes, and avocados.  Voila! Easy, low calorie, full of good for you vitamins, fiber, and protein.  I served some raw veggies on the side.

My kids and husband still ate their tacos the traditional way. :)

Butternut squash

I had two butternut squashes the other day and I had no clue what to do with them.  My mom gave me a great idea on what to do.  I got to say it was delicious.  The recipe is so simple and full of flavor.  My kids aren't fans of any kind of squash and this was no different nor a surprise.  But my theory is that if I keep introducing them to healthy things eventually they may want to try it and realize that they do like it or grow to like it.  Either way I feel as though I am making progress on the road to healthy eating.

Roasted Butternut squash
1 med-lg butternut squash or 2 small
1 onion, roughly chopped
4-5 garlic, cut in half or sliced 2-3 times
2 T approx. of olive oil
salt and pepper

Start by peeling your squash (I used a potato peeler) then cut the squash into small squares.  Chop your onion and garlic and add it to a large bowl with the squash, olive oil, and salt and pepper.  Mix together to coat all the veggies with oil and seasonings.  Place in a single layer on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  All ovens vary so check on them at about 20 minutes and if the outer pieces are getting toasted just stir a bit and move the pieces around.  They are done when a fork pierces easily through the squash.  I served over brown rice.  It was delicious.  I ate it again for lunch the following day.  Happy Eating!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sweet potato crescent rolls

Oh these rolls were so good.  They almost tasted like a dessert.  I found the recipe on  I didn't make many changes.  The only thing is that it called for bread flour of which, I had none.  So I added 2 teaspoons of vital wheat gluten to it.  I also used whole wheat flour and white whole wheat flour in equal amounts.  I hope your family loves these rolls as much as mine did.

Mama's Eggplant Parmigiana

What to make? What to make? I looked in the fridge and there was a beautiful, shiny, purple, eggplant on its last day. :( My mom makes an awesome and easy eggplant parmigiana.  The cool thing about this recipe is that the kids can't really tell what's in it and they gobble it up.  I paired it with a green salad and homemade sweet potato rolls.

Eggplant Parmigiana Recipe
1 med-lg eggplant
2 cans diced tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons basil
2 teaspoons oregano
olive oil
mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Pulse the tomatoes in a food processor or blender or smash them with a fork. In a small saucepan sautee the garlic in a little bit of oil then add the tomatoes and spices.  Then simmer on low until ready to use.  Peel and slice the eggplant in 1/2" circle.  My mom taught me that you should sprinkle each slice with salt and place in a colander in the sink for about 10 minutes.  You will notice that a brownish liquid will be draining from the eggplant.  Doing this rids the bitter taste that eggplants sometimes have.  Then rinse the salt off and place each piece of eggplant in flour.  Coat both sides of eggplant with flour.  It doesn't need a lot.  Then in a large pan, place a couple tablespoons olive oil and place eggplant in there flipping once when browned.  This shouldn't take very long, it only needs to be slightly browned on each side.  Place a little bit of the sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 pan.  Layer the eggplant, a little sauce, and mozzarella, then repeat until all the eggplant is used up.  Top with mozzarella.  Cook for 30 minutes at 350.

The verdict: I love it of course.  Juliana and Dean both ate it all up.  Nolan found out that it had eggplant in it and he wouldn't even try it.  Ahhhh!! Steve liked it but he's not a man of many words.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Steel-cut oat Cream of Wheat

Steel-Cut Oats
Who loves Cream of Wheat? I do, I do, and so does Nolan (one of my picky eaters).  I don't remember where I saw this recipe but it is awesome.  Do you like steel-cut oats? Well, I do, (not surprising since I love pretty much anything)lol.  Anyhow, it takes about 20 minutes to prepare steel-cut oats on the stove.  I don't always have that much time in the mornings.  My kids aren't big fans of it but oh how I wish they would love it and eat it.  Imagine all the whole grain goodness that they would get right before going off to school.  But I found the solution! Steel-Cut oat cream of wheat! The first thing you do is put a cup or so of steel-cut oats into your blender, any blender should work. Turn on the blender and on high speed blend for about 30-60 seconds.   The oats should turn into an almost sand consistency.
Not sure you can tell the texture from the picture.  But this is the steel-cut oats after being put through the blender.

There will be a couple of pieces that aren't completely like flour but that's ok as long as most are.  In a small saucepan heat 1 cup milk of choice (I usually use soy or almond milk) whisk to keep it from burning to the bottom of the pan.  When it starts to boil dump about 1/2 cup of steel-cut oat flour into it and whisk until liquid begins to absorb.  I like mine a little lumpy so I add 1/2 cup + 1 T of the oat flour.  Remove from heat.  It should be nice and smooth.  If it's a bit dry and thick, like I make it, I just add another 1/2 cup or so of milk.  Top with your favorite toppings.  I topped mine with 1/2 cup blueberries, 2 T shredded unsweetened coconut, and a tablespoon or so of sliced almonds.  Sometimes I add chia seeds or ground flax seeds.  The possibilities are endless.  Nolan just likes a little bit of brown sugar.

What are some of your favorite oatmeal or cream of wheat toppings?
Cream of wheat with blueberries, coconut, and almonds.

Fluffy, healthy pancakes

I love pancakes! I have tried lots of healthy pancake recipes lately but they all come out chewy.  They aren't gross just not your super yummy fluffy pancake that we are use to.  Today I found the perfect recipe.  Hooray, hooray, happy day.  The original recipe came from  I changed it a tiny bit because I didn't have flax seeds or unsweetened almond milk.  All in all it's still basically the same recipe.

Fluffy Pancake Recipe:
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 C. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 Tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 Tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1 3/4 C. Non-Dairy Milk (I used almond milk) dairy milk would also work
  • 1/2 Tsp. Vanilla
  • 1 chia seed egg (1 Tbs. Chia Seeds, 4 Tbs. Water) (can use a regular egg also)
  • 1 Tsp. Canola Oil
  • Non-Stick Cooking Spray
  1. Prepare your chia seed egg by combining 1 Tbs. chia seeds and 4 Tbs. water.
  2. Set aside for 3-5 minutes, and allow to thicken.
  3. In a large mixing bowl add  flours, baking powder and salt.
  4. Add non-dairy milk, vanilla, canola, and flax egg and mix until just combined.
  5. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat.
  6. Lightly spray pan with cooking spray and pour pancake batter onto pan. Cook 1-2 minutes per side.
  7. Plate with your favorite toppings and enjoy!
Feel free to add a touch more non-dairy milk to achieve your desired consistency. If you don't have chia seeds you can also use ground flax seeds mixed with water.  
My daughter was afraid they were going to be gross because they had almond milk and whole wheat flour in them.  But she was wrong, she loved them.  So did my son, the pickiest of the bunch.  Try them, I don't think you will be disappointed.  

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Super Easy Saturday Enchilada Casserole

Can I just tell you that I absolutely cannot stand cooking on Saturdays.  It's not really the cooking I guess as much as the cleaning up after I am done.  But it's not always realistic to go out on Saturdays if we just went out on Friday.  Sometimes we have leftovers or go to a friends or family members house but sometimes there aren't any leftovers and we have no plans. Bummer! That means the mommy must make something nutritious for her little family.  So here is what the Veggie Monster came up with, drum- roll please.... The Super Easy Saturday Enchilada Casserole.  This recipe can obviously be altered in so many ways.  So feel free to add or substitute any ingredients that you have available at your house.

Super Easy Saturday Enchilada Casserole
3 Ezequiel Sprouted Wheat Tortillas
1/2 can tomato sauce
3/4 cup salsa (can substitute one can enchilada sauce for the salsa and tomato sauce)
1 red bell pepper (I sauteed it first in a pan, not sure it is necessary)
1 can pinto beans
1 can corn
1-2 cups shredded cheddar (or Daiya shredded Cheddar for Vegan option)
Sour cream

1. Spread some tomato sauce on the bottom of a casserole dish. Place one tortilla on top.
2.  Top with some pinto beans, corn, salsa, bell pepper, and cheese.
3. Place another tortilla on top and repeat step 2.
4. Place last tortilla on top, pour remaining salsa, tomato sauce, and cheese.
5. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

See who says vegetarian food has to be complicated and expensive.  This is a super easy and inexpensive meal.  Complete with protein, fiber, whole grain, and veggie power of course. Give it a try and let me know what you think.  Also, if you try some alternate things that work well in this dish let me know.

The verdict: The hubs liked it.  I know it wasn't anything fabulous but he got fed, lol. The boys just ate bean and cheese burritos because they were so hungry they couldn't wait the 30 minutes.  My daughter liked it but thought it was a bit spicy.  If you are very sensitive to spicy I would recommend using a mild salsa, mine was medium.  The avocado on top definitely helps off set the spicy taste.  I bet sour cream would have also but we didn't have any.  Did you all know that instead of sour cream we have been using Greek yogurt?  It almost tastes the same without all the added fat and calories.  Plus, you get tons of protein and healthy bacteria.  My husband who loves his full-fat sour cream now prefers the Greek yogurt.

My husband promised the kids a movie and ice cream sundaes. Not exactly healthy, I know.  We are still a work in progress. ;)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Tempeh Mushroom Enchiladas

My daughter loves creamy white chicken enchiladas.  So I invented something that tasted creamy and meaty without the meat of course.  I have to say they came out really well.  She really liked them as did everyone in the family.

White Enchiladas Recipe

Homemade Cream of Mushroom  (you can make the cream without the mushrooms)
1 onion, chopped
1 pkg. Tempeh
1/2 T chili powder
1/3 cup salsa
10 corn tortillas (can use any kind)
1 small pkg. mushrooms

Prepare the tempeh by simmering in 2 1/2 cups water with 1/2 cup soy sauce for 20 minutes.

Homemade cream of mushroom
3 T butter or oil
3 T cornstarch or flour
1/4 T salt
1 1/4 cup soymilk, broth, or stock (I used plain soymilk)
1/4 cup chopped mushrooms
2 T chopped onion
1 8oz. cube of cream cheese (or cheese of choice)

Melt butter or oil in saucepan. Cook mushroom and onion. Stir in flour and seasonings. Cook over medium heat until bubbly. Add liquid slowly, stirring with wire whisk to prevent lumps. Cook until thick. Makes 1 cup or 1 can of condensed soup.  It was too thick so I added about 1 cup of the soy sauce water from the tempeh. I also added 1/2 cup of medium salsa and cream cheese to the cream of mushroom.  My daughter said it was pink sauce not white.

In a pan I sauteed the rest of the onion and the rest of the mushrooms in 1T oil. Then with a fork I mashed the tempeh and mixed it all together. I also added the chili powder here.  It was a little spicy for my kids, I would reduce the amount of chili powder next time. Then I poured about 1 cup of the soy sauce water into the bottom of my 9x13 pan.  I rolled the tempeh mixture into the tortillas, placed them in the pan seam side down, then poured the white sauce over the top, and topped with sliced black olives.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Top with avocado slices.  Everything is better with avocado on it! Well, almost everything. :)

The kids actually ate it and liked it.  They couldn't even tell there was mushrooms in it.  Nolan who complains about everything ate every single bite. Progress? Maybe, just maybe I am making some progress. Steve had a cold and he couldn't really taste much.

Quinoa patties

I had quinoa cooked and ready to make some quinoa patties.    I combined the quinoa patty recipe with a falafel recipe and the outcome was terrible.  :( I think the problem was that I pureed the quinoa (as I would have done with the chickpeas for the falafel recipe) and it turned into mush.  Regardless, I hate throwing away food so I scooped it onto parchment paper and baked them.

The verdict: Juliana didn't like them, Nolan ate them with ketchup and said they were good, Dean wouldn't try them, Veggie Monster ate them but didn't care for them, and Steve didn't have a comment (I know what that means).

The following day I was at Trader Joe's and they were sampling Chicken-less Orange Chicken and some fried rice.  The kids absolutely loved them and begged me to get them.  It was late and I agreed and bought them.  There wasn't very many in the bag so I thought I would just eat the leftover quinoa patties.  But then I had a fabulous idea, I pan fried the patties with the "chicken" pieces and then drizzled the orange sauce over them.  Woohoo!! They were yummy this time.  Below is the recipe for the quinoa patties.  My recommendations are to not puree the quinoa and definitely fry them.

  • 2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa, room temperature
  • 4T ground flax seeds, mixed with 9T water
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • handful of parsley
  • handful cilantro
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup whole-grain bread crumbs, plus more if needed
  • 1 cup panko Japanese bread crumbs

1. Mix all ingredients together. This is where I pureed my ingredients. 
2. Form into balls and fry in 1-2 T oil (I used coconut and loved the taste but any oil would work)
3. Cook until crispy and flip them.  Pour orange sauce over them.  I used the kind that came in the chicken less orange chicken from Trader Joes. I am sure you can just make your own.

The green beans were cooked in a tiny bit of coconut oil too and they were mmmm delicious!

The whole family liked them this time.  No leftovers :)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Homemade salsa and "refried beans"

I absolutely love this easy and delicious dinner.  Homemade refried beans with no added oil or fat, can it be true? Yes, yes, yes it is absolutely true and way better than the full fat version.  This recipe is full of flavor.  Beans are inexpensive and a good source of protein and fiber.  Here is what you do...

Put all the following ingredients into a crockpot
2 cups pinto beans
5 cups of water
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 T cumin
1t coriander
2 bay leaves
2 T tomato paste (I had some diced tomatoes from the other night, I used those instead)
1 t chili powder
1 t garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook on low for 10 hrs or on high 5-6 hrs.  When the beans are soft remove the 2 bay leaves and mash them with a potato masher. I got this recipe from my friend Morgan's fabulous blog the only difference is I don't add the olive oil.  I have tried it both ways and it doesn't seem to make a difference.  We put the beans on crispy tostada shells and topped with homemade salsa, lettuce, and avocado. Oh yeah baby!!

Now for the salsa. My mom shops at Cardenas Mexican market and they were having a sale on roma tomatoes 5 lbs. for a $1.  So she bought me 5 lbs. of tomatoes. We don't like spicy at our house so I didn't use a jalapeno but my mom always does.  For the fresh and tasty salsa you will need...

3 Roma tomatoes, (boiled, about 3-4 minutes until the skin splits)
1 small onion, or half or a quarter of a lg. onion
2 cloves of garlic
sm. handful of cilantro (about 1/4 of a cup)
1 or 2 t of salt (depending on how salty you like it)

Place all ingredients in your blender. Use the chop button and let it spin for 20-30 seconds. Not too long because you don't want it completely blended.  My salsa was a little spicy because of the onion.

The verdict: The beans were a big hit with everybody.  Steve asked where the salsa came from and was very impressed with it.  This is one of my favorite meals to make and eat. :)