Tag Archives: side dish

How to Cook a Spaghetti Squash

Have you ever looked at a spaghetti squash at the store and thought how great it would be to get one if only you knew how to cook it? Well, I don’t want that to happen anymore to you! Go buy that squash, and then follow these tips!

1. Wash and dry your squash (even if you’re not eating the skin, your knife touches it on its way through! Whatever bacteria are living on the outside go right into the part you eat.)


2. Slice off the stem.


3. Stand the squash upright on the now-flat stem side, and slice it in half lengthwise. I’m not great at cutting things exactly in half, but you get the idea. 🙂


4. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Save to roast (just like pumpkin seeds!) of discard if you want.


5. Brush the rims with a little oil and place flesh side down on a parchment or baking mat lined baking sheet.


6. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until the flesh is soft; about an hour depending on size. Allow to cool. Scrape out the flesh and fluff with a fork. Enjoy it as is or with your favorite marinara sauce!


Yum!

Healthy, happy eating!

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Roasted Guacamole

Roasted Guacamole 2

Here is a slightly different take on guacamole for Cinco de Mayo this year! In this recipe, the tomatoes, onions, and garlic get a slight roast, and the avocados get a grill treatment before mashing together. It really takes the dish up a notch!

Roasted Guacamole

Roasted Guacamole 1

Serves: 8-10

Ingredients

3 Ripe Avocados

2 cups Grape Tomatoes

½ Red Onion, sliced

6 Garlic Cloves

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Lime, juiced

½ cup Cilantro, chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400⁰ F.
  2. Combine tomatoes, onion, garlic and olive oil on a baking sheet and toss to coat. Bake until tomatoes burst, and onions are slightly brown; about 25 minutes.
  3. Preheat grill to medium heat. Cut avocados in half and remove pits. Grill on lightly oiled grill, until warmed through and grill marks are visible; about 10 minutes.
  4. Allow all ingredients to cool enough to handle.
  5. Remove avocado flesh from peel, and mash with lime juice.
  6. Mince roasted onions and garlic and add to avocado mash, along with tomatoes. Mash all together.
  7. Add cilantro and salt and pepper to taste. Mix. Enjoy warm or cold!

 

Happy, healthy eating!

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Grilled Okra

Can you believe summer is almost over?!  Where is the time going?  If you’re anything like us, you’re using the grill as much as possible before the snow starts to fly.  I usually end up throwing as much of the meal as possible on – not just the protein!  Grilled vegetables are delicious, and this okra is no exception!

Okra is often billed as a Southern vegetable, and about the only place I see it in Pennsylvania is on the menu at Cracker Barrel.  But why can’t we enjoy it north of the Mason Dixon line?  Usually, okra is either deep fried, or used in jambalaya.  I love a good jambalaya, but not so much in the midst of summer.  And deep fried okra is packed with fat and calories, making it a tasty, but not so healthy side dish.  I think the reason so many people overlook this veggie is that it has a tendency to get slimy, especially if you chop it up.  This preparation takes care of that!  I used a package of frozen okra, and just thawed it before using it, but if you can get fresh, that’s definitely better.  Not only is this side dish delicious and not-slimy, but it’s easy and takes very little time – perfect for weeknights!  Simply toss the okra in olive oil and garlic, throw it on the grill, and cook until it’s slightly charred.  That part is important because it makes it crispy almost like fried, but without all the fat.  Dig in, and enjoy this Southern treat – healthified!

Grilled Okra

Grilled Okra

Serves: 4

Ingredients

16 oz Frozen Okra, thawed
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 tsp Garlic Powder
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat grill to medium heat.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss to coat.
  3. Grill okra about 10-20 minutes, turning once, to desired doneness.

Grilled Okra Nutrition Facts

Happy, healthy eating!

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Garlic Roasted Green Beans

Garlic Roasted Green Beans 1

Happy Friday everyone!  I hope you have something amazing planned for the weekend!  It’s going to be chilly and probably rainy here in Pittsburgh.  I think it’s about time to pull all the veggies that are left in the garden into the house soon.  Snow is actually in the forecast for us in the next week.  The time for warming food is pretty much here, but I wanted to share one more “summer-ish” recipe with you before the snow flies.  These were about the last green bean harvest from Dad’s garden for the year.  Truly, fall is upon us. 🙂

I can’t honestly think of any vegetable that’s not amazing roasted in garlic, and these green beans are no exception.  Roasting makes the beans kind of crunchy – I bet you could call them bean fries and the kids would gobble them up (can you tell I’m starting to think about kid foods already?!).  Remember those days of soggy, tasteless, canned vegetables?  This will change your mind about green beans forever.  Promise.  Feel free to experiment with spices, or more or less garlic to suit your taste.  We loved these garlicky beans, and I hope you will, too!

GARLIC ROASTED GREEN BEANS

Garlic Roasted Green Beans 3

Serves: 4

Ingredients

1 lb Fresh Green Beans, washed and snapped, if needed

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Tbsp Garlic Powder

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

1.  Place cleaned beans on baking sheet and drizzle with oil.  Toss to coat.

2.  Sprinkle with garlic powder and salt/pepper if desired.

3.  Bake at 425⁰ F for about 20-30 minutes, until baked through and slightly crispy.

Garlic Roasted Green Beans Nutrition

Happy, healthy eating!

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Spicy “Kohlslaw” (Kohlrabi and Cabbage Slaw)

Spicy Kohlslaw

Summer has unofficially ended, but it sure doesn’t feel like it yet!  While my brain is ready for winter squash, root vegetables, pumpkin, and soups, my body just isn’t into it.  Well except for Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte.  My body always wants that!  Special shout out to Starbucks for releasing it early this year! 🙂

I do have to apologize for not posting as much as I should be.  It’s now safe for me to announce that Handsome Husband and I will be welcoming a little addition to our family in March!  We are as excited as can be!  Luckily, I haven’t experienced any morning sickness.  Mostly profound tiredness.  My doc calls it pregnancy narcolepsy, and that describes it perfectly.  So while I have barely managed to cook some meals in the last 3 months, there’s been little else.  I’m hopeful to have more for you now!

On Friday, we hit up the Benedum Center for Performing Arts with some friends to check out the Lion King on Broadway.  It’s in town for a whole month, so if you’re local, do try to get there!  It’s a spectacular performance with the most amazing costumes!

Lion King on Broadway

We went to dinner before the show at a restaurant called Vallozzi’s.  I ordered a squid ink linguine with crab meat and white asparagus sauce with prosciutto sprinkled on the top.  I did take a picture for you, but it was so dark in the restaurant it just didn’t come out.  It was spectacularly delicious, though!  And the portion size was just right, too!  I was mostly impressed by the HUGE chunks of crab meat in the pasta.  Real crab meat.  I highly recommend this restaurant if you’re looking for a nicer place to go some night.

So let’s talk about this week’s recipe.

This year, my dad grew kohlrabi in his garden.  It kinda looks like an alien, but they are super low in calories, and great sources of vitamin C!  You can eat kohlrabi cooked or raw.  Today’s recipe takes advantage of the crispy, fresh tasting qualities of the vegetable in a slaw.  I have also roasted it with garlic, which is quite delicious too!

For the slaw, you will need to remove the skin from the kohlrabi.  It’s edible, but it doesn’t shred up very well, so it’s best to remove it.  The cabbage (from my aunt and uncle’s garden!) and carrots add a traditional element.  I replaced the typical heavy mayonnaise sauce with a light lemon and olive oil dressing, making this slaw a much healthier alternative to most.  Watch how much red pepper flakes you use!  I used the full teaspoon, and it was pretty spicy!  Start with half of that and taste it.  You can always add more, but you can’t remove it once it’s in there!

SPICY “KOHLSLAW” (KOHLRABI CABBAGE SLAW)

Spicy Kohlslaw

Serves: 12

Ingredients

½ small head of Cabbage, sliced thin

1 Kohlrabi, skin removed, shredded

3 large Carrots, shredded

1 medium Onion, slice thin

¼ cup Lemon Juice

¼ cup Olive Oil

1 tsp Honey

1 Garlic Clove, minced

½ – 1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes

Zest of ½ Lemon

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

1.  Toss first four ingredients together in a large bowl.

2.  In a smaller bowl, whisk remaining ingredients together, and pour over cabbage mixture.

3.  Toss to coat.  Refrigerate for at least a few hours so flavors can marinate.

Kohlslaw Nutrition Facts

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Grilled Blue Potatoes

Grilled Blue Potatoes

I help people along their weight loss journey every day, and this is something I hear every day: “I’ll never lose weight because I love carbs.”  Oh!  The infamous carb!  Never mind the fact that weight loss is about total calories (not total carbohydrates).  Do you know what “carbs” are?  Do you know what they do for your body?  Carbohydrates are found in most of the foods we eat in varying amounts: fruits, vegetables, grain products, dairy products, and foods containing added sugar.  Your body uses carbohydrates to make glucose, which is what your body (and your brain!) uses for energy to keep everything going!  Your muscles can’t even contract without this fuel source.

Invariably, once my clients start eating a balanced diet that includes a healthy amount of carbohydrates, protein, and fat (yes fat! But that’s a topic for a different day), they find they start dropping those “stubborn” pounds, without feeling deprived…and that’s weight loss that lasts!

Now some carbohydrates are “better” than others.  I hope this doesn’t come as a surprise to any of you, but your body doesn’t need added sugar.  That’s sucrose, fructose, maltose, honey, corn syrup, molasses, agave…the list goes on.  These sweeteners may taste good, but don’t provide much nutrition.  That’s not to say they’re inherently “bad,” but overloading on these can run up your calorie tab for the day, without really satisfying your body’s need for nutrition.  Healthy carbohydrates (also called complex carbohydrates) include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products.  These foods provide you with bountiful nutrition for the calories, and can actually help you manage your weight!  That’s because those foods also provide things like fiber and protein to help keep you feeling fuller longer.

Now, let’s put that information to use, and cook up some healthy carbs!  My inspiration here came from some blue potatoes left over from our CSA, and the fact that it’s officially grilling season.  Never grilled potatoes before?  It’s a must!  You can use regular potatoes for this as well if you don’t have blue.  Just make sure to leave the skin on for the biggest nutritional bang for your buck possible.  I paired it with some grilled chicken breasts and a few spears of asparagus I grilled (also from our CSA).  I know it’s hard to tell in the picture, but they really are blue!  See?

Blue potato

Grilled Blue Potatoes

Grilled Blue Potatoes

Serves: 4

Ingredients

12-14 Blue Potatoes, sliced

¼ cup olive oil

Directions

1.  Preheat grill, and turn heat to medium.

2.  Brush both sides of potato slices with olive oil and grill approximately 10-15 minutes on each side, until cooked through and slightly crispy.

Happy, healthy eating!

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How to Cut a Fennel Bulb, and Apple Fennel Farro Pilaf

Apple Fennel Farro Pilaf

Today is Food Revolution Day!  This is the worldwide result of Jamie Oliver’s campaign to help people connect with their food, celebrate the diversity of food, and enjoy great, fresh food.  Events are widespread.  I will, in fact, be attending an event later today here with my employer!  The event is free to the public, but donations are accepted.  We’ll be there from 3pm – 6pm, so make sure to stop by and say “Hi!” and revolutionize your food!

Do you know how to cut fennel?  It’s not too difficult, but if you don’t know how to do it, you may never cook with it!  Let’s remove some of the mystery, shall we?

First, scrub the bulb to clean of any dirt.  Cut off the top (fronds).  These are edible, but typically not called for in recipes.  They make a nice garnish!

Cutting Fennel 1

Next, cut the bulb in half.

Cut the bulb in half

Remove the core from each half.  This is tough and woody, so you don’t want to add it to your recipes.

Remove the core

Now, slice the bulb thin, or chop into even smaller pieces; whatever you need for your recipe!

Slice thin

Not too bad, right?  Now, let’s get cooking with it!  This recipe is a slightly different take on a pilaf.  Here, I used farro, which in an ancient form of wheat.  It is sometimes also called emmer wheat.  It is a whole grain that is grown in Italy.  You cook it just like you do brown rice, so if you don’t have farro, feel free to use that.  This pilaf is slightly sweet and licoricy because of the apple cider and fennel.  The fresh mint finishes the dish perfectly.  You will want to make this today!

APPLE FENNEL FARRO PILAF

Apple Fennel Farro Pilaf

Serves: 6

Ingredients

2 cups Apple Cider

1 cup Farro, uncooked

1 tsp Olive Oil

1 medium Onion, diced

1 medium Fennel Bulb, diced

1 Tbsp chopped, fresh Mint

Fresh Fennel Fronds to garnish if desired

Directions

1.  Bring apple cider to boil on high heat and add Farro.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until grain is done; about 45-60 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a medium pan and sauté onions and fennel until onions are translucent and fennel is soft.

3.  Add farro to fennel mixture and combine.

4.  Turn off burner, and mix in mint.

5.  Serve hot, garnished with fennel fronds.

Happy, healthy eating!

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