Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Buffalo Turkey Meatballs & Cucumber Tzatziki Salad

Life has been a whirlwind lately!  I have spent a lot less time cooking... and a lot more time preparing for baby "Sprout" who will be arriving in about two weeks!  Between trying to fit in the last bit of travel with "just the two of us" and preparing the house for baby's arrival, it seems like there is less and less time for spending time experimenting in the kitchen.  However, that doesn't mean that we have been relying on takeout or fast food... not in this dietitian's house!  The limited time just means that I use the following strategies to ensure that my household is eating nutritious foods while budgeting our time.
  1. Cook once for multiple meals.  Instead of spending time chopping veggies and dirtying dishes every night, make enough food to last a couple nights.
  2. Re-purpose leftovers.  Use leftover meats, beans and veggies to throw into entree salads, soups, frittatas, stir fries or tacos.  
  3. Double the recipe and freeze for later.  This can be especially useful when preparing for a big life event... perhaps the birth of a new baby, a planned surgery or care-giving for a family member. In the past few weeks I have been prepping extra and freezing different meals including various soups and stews, veggie-packed casseroles, different types of lean meatballs, whole grain pumpkin waffles and fruit and nut energy bars.  
  4. Set it and forget it!  Break out that slow cooker, prep your ingredients in the AM or the night before, then come home after a long day at work and enjoy your meal all ready to go!
  5. Simplify, simplify, simplify.  Interested in trying a new recipe that calls for all kinds of exotic ingredients?  Great, I strongly encourage this experimentation... just don't do it on a Monday after a long day of work!  Keep your weeknight meals simple, using a minimal number of ingredients :)
So that brings us back to our buffalo meatballs and tzatziki salad... a great Monday night mood booster that satisfies both #1 and #5 above, and you could absolutely double and freeze the recipe for meatballs to satisfy #3 as well.  This is a husband-approved healthy meal, and we are taking advantage of a shortcut by using bottled buffalo sauce.  Take note... any pre-made sauces, including buffalo sauces, are salty which is why we are adding minimal salt to the meatballs themselves, and why we balance the meatballs out with plenty of low sodium, potassium-rich veggies!  Balance, balance, balance...

So without further ado, let's get to the recipes!

Buffalo Turkey Meatballs
1.5lbs extra lean ground turkey
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/2 cup plain rolled oats (use gluten-free if necessary)
1/2 cup finely diced onion
3 cloves minced garlic
1tsp oregano
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup buffalo sauce

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or lightly coat with non-stick spray.  
  2. Combine turkey, blue cheese, oats, onion, garlic, oregano, pepper and salt and mix until well combined.  Roll into 24 evenly sized meatballs and place on prepared baking sheet.  Cook in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
  3. Bring buffalo sauce to simmer in a saucepan.  Once meatballs are cooked, add to pan and turn to low until ready to serve.
Makes 24 meatballs, 6 servings of 4 meatballs each.
Nutrition per serving: 218 calories, 6gm fat, 3gm saturated fat, 317mg sodium, 13gm carbohydrates, 2gm fiber, 31gm protein

Cucumber Tzatziki Salad
2 cucumbers, spiralized or cut into thin half-moon slices
1.5 cups plain Greek yogurt, lowfat
1 clove garlic, minced
1Tb fresh dill (or 1tsp dried)
1Tb olive oil
Juice from one lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
1Tb chopped fresh parsley

Whisk together yogurt, garlic, dill, olive oil and lemon juice.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Toss with prepared cucumber.  Sprinkle with chopped parsley.  Best if sits for at least 30 minutes before serving.  

Makes 4 servings, about 3/4 cup each
Nutrition information per serving: 102 calories, 4gm fat, 1gm saturated fat, 73mg sodium, 10gm carbohydrates, 1gm fiber, 7gm protein

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Grilled Ratatouille

Seasonal. Colorful. Healthy. Tasty. Friends. Family. Feel good. Outside. Love. Fresh. Easy. Good. Summertime.

Those are some of the words that come to mind when I think of grilling.  And at our house, we don't hesitate to throw anything on the grill, from your standard burgers and fresh fish and chicken, to fruit and veggies, to pizzas, and even salad!  Grilling is just... fantastic!

When the The Produce Box delivered a box full of eggplant, zucchini, pepper, and tomatoes, I immediately thought of one of my favorite recipes that includes all of those things... ratatouille!  But, with the thermostat creeping up closer and closer to 100 degrees, I didn't want to fire up the oven for roasted ratatouille I typically make.   Instead, we fired up the grill and got the veggies going to perfection!

First,heat your grill- we are looking for medium-high heat and an even flame.  Then, slice the eggplant, zucchini and peppers.  Chop the onions and thread onto a skewer, along with some cherry tomatoes.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and salt.

You will need to cook the veggies in shifts, unless you have a really big grill!  I started with the eggplant and onions.  The eggplant will only need about 3 minutes per side, but I left the onions on there throughout the duration of cooking all the vegetables so that they would be nice and tender and caramelized.

 After taking off your grilled eggplant, move onto the zucchini, peppers and tomatoes.  The zucchini and peppers took about 3-4 minutes per side.  The tomatoes cook quickly, no more than 5 minute total.

After taking all your veggies off the grill, let them cool slightly before chopping into bite-sized pieces.  Chop some fresh summer herbs to add to the mix (I used about 1/2 cup total of freshly chopped parsley, basil and oregano).  Finish off with about 2Tb high quality balsamic vinegar.

Sweet and smoky perfection...

Grilled Ratatouille
2 Eggplant, sliced into 1/2 inch rings
2 peppers, halved lengthwise
2 zucchini, halved lengthwise
1 sweet onion, chopped and skewered
1 pint cherry tomatoes
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
3-4Tb chopped fresh basil
3-4Tb chopped fresh parsley
1 sprig fresh oregano, leaves removed
2Tb balsamic vinegar

1. Heat grill to medium high heat.
2. Drizzle vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and salt.
3. Cook vegetables on preheated grill.  Eggplant need about 3 minutes per side.  Peppers and zucchini need about 3-4 minutes per side.  Tomatoes cook quickly, about 4 minutes total, turning skewers to evenly roast.  Onions need the longest, about 10-15 minutes, turning the skewers to get an even browning.  
4. After veggies are removed from heat and have a chance to cool slightly, chop the onions, peppers, zucchini and eggplant into bite-sized pieces.  Stir in tomatoes, fresh herbs and balsamic.  
Enjoy with a healthy grilled protein such as chicken, fish, lean meat or vegetable burger (see my recipe for black bean burgers)!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Roasted Summer Herb Eggplant Rollups

"What can I do with eggplant?"  This is a question I have been hearing my clients ask often in the past couple weeks.  And it's no big surprise as to why.  This is the time of year when the large aubergine vegetables are hanging heavy on the plants in home gardener's back yards... or where you see several different varieties at the local farmer's markets!  

Beautiful to look at... and delightful to eat!  And while I am always a fan of a nice roasted eggplant ratatouille, one of my favorite ways to eat eggplant is to use them in place of lasagna noodles for a yummy Italian style dish.  This is a great option for meatless Mondays!  While this is an old favorite of mine, the recipe is adjusted slightly to use even more of the delicious summer herbs I have growing in my garden!

Once you select your gorgeous eggplants, thinly slice them lengthwise, add some olive oil, and roast to soften.

Meanwhile, make your filling: just a quick stir of ricotta, mozzarella, garlic, spinach, basil, oregano and parsley, plus a pinch of salt and pepper.

 Assemble your roll ups...

Then, top with marinara and bake until bubbly and delicious!

Serve with a colorful green salad... yum yum!

Roasted Summer Herb Eggplant Rollups
Makes 6 servings: 3-4 rolls ups per serving

2 medium eggplants, thinly sliced lengthwise
2 Tb extra virgin olive oil
2 cups part skim ricotta cheese
1 cup part skim shredded mozzarella
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2Tb chopped fresh parsley
1Tb chopped fresh oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups homemade or store-bought marinara

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly coat baking sheet with non stick spray.  Lay eggplant slices out evenly on the baking sheet.  Drizzle with 2Tb olive oil and spread evenly on eggplant with fingers.  Roast in preheated oven for 15 minutes or until tender.  Set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl mix together ricotta, mozzarella, chopped spinach, basil, oregano, garlic and salt and pepper.
  3. Lightly coat 13x9 baking dish with non-stick spray or olive oil.  Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees.  
  4. When eggplant is cool enough to handle, place 1 rounded Tb cheese mixture at the end of each eggplant slice.  Roll eggplant up into a roll with the cheese inside.  Place eggplant rolls in prepared baking dish side by side.  Pour marinara sauce over top.  Bake in preheated oven until hot and bubbly, about 20 minutes.
Nutrition information per serving: 303 calories, 16gm fat, 23gm carbohydrates, 17gm protein

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Peanut Butter Protein Bars (No Bake!)

Here's a quick and easy snack recipe that sure does beat the processed protein and granola bars you find in the grocery store.  Feel free to adjust the ingredients to suite your taste preferences... for example, you could try almond, cashew, or sunflower butter instead of the peanut butter.  Or, try shredded coconut instead of the cocao nibs.  Or, try a chocolate protein powder if that's your thing!
First, we are going to get the sweetness from the natural sugars in dates.  Soaking the dates prior helps add a little moisture to the bar to help it stick together. 

Meanwhile, blend your oats and protein powder in a food processor.  Then, add in your peanut butter, dates and cinnamon. 

Add water as needed until mixture sticks together.  Then press your mixture into your baking dish.  Sprinkle your cocao nibs on top, then press into the mixture. 
Freeze until firm, then slice into your squares.  Enjoy as a snack or as a pre-workout boost!

Peanut Butter Protein Bars (No Bake)

1 1/2 cup Oats
1/2 cup vanilla protein powder
 3/4 cup natural peanut butter
1 cup pitted dates
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1/3 cup Water, or as needed
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
3Tb cocao nibs

1. Soak dates in water for 30 minutes, or until softened. Drain and set aside.
2. Blend oats and protein powder in a food processor. Add dates, peanut butter, vanilla and cinnamon.  Blend, then add water, 2Tb at a time until mixture sticks together.
3. Flatten into bottom of 8x8 pan. Sprinkle cocao nibs on top and press into mixture.
4. Freeze 30 minutes until firm, then cut into 16 squares. Store in refrigerator.

16.0 servings)
Total Fat 7.8g12%
  Saturated Fat 2g10%
Cholesterol 0.6mg0%
Sodium 76.9mg3%
Total Carb 19.4g6%
  Dietary Fiber 3.4g14%
  Sugars 4.5g 
Protein 8.6g17%
Vitamin A 3%Vitamin C 3%
Calcium 5%Iron 6%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your caloric needs.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Greens N Grains Breakfast Bake

I've been meaning to post this recipe for a while.  I always look forward to making this dish because it provides a nice break from my typical weekday breakfast routine (oatmeal, frittata, protein pancakes, oatmeal, frittata, protein pancakes...).  Y'all know by now that I love my bulk breakfast recipes to prep ahead of time on the weekend... and then I have my easy breakfast ready to heat and eat during the busier work week. 

This recipe can prepared for a beautiful Sunday brunch, and leftovers stay delicious and ready to portion out for your quick weekday breakfast. 

And of course, no meal is complete without beautiful, colorful, nutrient-rich, fiber-rich vegetables!  Seeing a little green on your plate just makes you feel good about yourself ;) 

So, that being said, start by cooking down a batch of greens- I prefer collards for this recipe.  You can cook them any way your prefer, but I like cooking in a pan with about 2Tb water. 

Next, prepare 1 cup whole grains of choice according to package directions.  I am loving Bob's Red Mill "Mighty Tasty Hot Cereal" for this... a blend of whole grain brown rice, corn, sorghum and buckwheat.  But you could use millet, polenta or even stone ground grits.

Whisk your milk with salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, and two eggs.  Stir into cooked grains, along with cheese and butter. 
Fold about 3 cups of the cooked collards into your cheesy grains.
Lightly coat 13x9 baking dish with non-stick spray.  Spread your mixture in and bake in preheated oven.
When grains and greens are set, remove from oven and use the back of a spoon to make 8 indentations in your casserole.  Crack eggs 1 at a time into the indents.  Bake another 12 minutes (for soft cooked eggs) or 15 minutes for more firm egg yolks.  Remove from oven, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let stand another 10 minutes before enjoying.  Great with hot sauce!
Greens N Grains Breakfast Bake
8 servings

1 bunch collards, washed and leaves torn into bite-sized pieces
1 cup Bob's Red Mill "mighty tasty hot cereal" (or stone ground grits, millet, polenta)
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup shredded low fat cheddar cheese
2Tb butter
10 large eggs

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly coat 13x9 baking dish with non-stick spray.  Set aside.
2. Cook collards, covered in large pan with 2Tb water until wilted down.  Set 3 cups aside.
3. Cook 1 cup whole grains in water according to package directions.
4. Whisk milk with black pepper, salt, red pepper flakes, and 2 eggs.  Whisk milk mixture into cooked grains along with cheese and butter.
5. Stir cooked greens into grain mixture.  Spread evenly in prepared baking dish and bake 25-30 minutes, or until set.
6. Remove dish from oven and use back of spoon to make 8 indents.  Crack 8 remaining eggs- one into each indent.  Bake another 12 minutes (for soft cooked eggs) or 15 minutes for more firm egg yolks. 
7. Remove from oven, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let stand another 10 minutes before enjoying.

Recipe Facts

20 minute(s)
40 minute(s)
Nutrition Facts 
104.3                                                              % Daily Value*
Total Fat 11.9g18%
  Saturated Fat 4.9g24%
Cholesterol 271.3mg90%
Sodium 352.3mg15%
Total Carb 23.3g8%
  Dietary Fiber 4.2g17%
  Sugars 1.4g 
Protein 17.1g34%
Vitamin A 127%Vitamin C 22%
Calcium 23%Iron 16%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your caloric needs.