Sunday, November 9, 2014

Coconut Chicken Wings

Chicken wings, chips/dip, nachos and pizza often Sunday Football around the country. While these foods can be part of a healthy diet in moderation, indulging in a buffet of these foods every week does not do the body well! When dining out chicken wings are typically fried and served tossed in a sauce (maybe buffalo/butter or a sweet BBQ). Making them on your own (baking or pan-fried) will help reduce the amount of fat and calories in them, while still being able to enjoy them.

Whip up a batch of these chicken wings for next football Sunday or get together. The flavors are Thai-inspired, slightly sweet and mildly spicy! Each wing =75 calories vs. 110 calories (for tradional friend wings, without sauce/dressing!)

Spicy Coconut Chicken Wings

Makes 1 dozen wings



1 Tbsp canola oil or coconut oil

12 chicken wings

1/3 cup coconut milk

1 tsp chopped garlic

1 tsp chopped ginger

1 tsp lime juice

2 Tbsp Sriracha sauce

¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes

Sriracha sauce, for dipping.



1.       Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken wings and cook for 5 minutes per side.

2.       Add the coconut milk, lime juice, ginger, garlic and Sriracha and continue to cook for 10-15 minutes until fully cooked (internal temperature 160 degrees)

3.       Remove from heat and sprinkle coconut flakes on top. Serve hot with additional Sriracha for dipping!
Nutrition Facts: 2 wings
150 calories, 13 g fat (7 g saturated), 1 g carbohydrate, 9 g protein, 180 mg sodium

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Vermont Breakfast Casserole

This dish has everything you could ask for in a hearty breakfast: lean maple sausage, eggs, cheese, French bread, and a healthy dose of vegetables! Pair with a side of fresh fruit and you hit all the food groups in one meal. Best of all it can be assembled the night before and popped in the oven for an easy brunch entrée the next day. Because it is a casserole it holds up well for leftovers for a few days. Perfect to reheat for those busy weekday mornings!

I was surprised to see the varying amounts of fat in different brands of sausage. Compare the grams of fat on the nutrition labels to find a lower fat product. I also encourage a local variety without fillers if possible. You could use turkey, chicken, or veggie sausage as well for a lower fat dish.

Vermont Breakfast Casserole
Makes 12 servings
Prep time: 20 minutes, Bake time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 5 mins

1 pound of maple breakfast sausage, casings removed
1 red pepper, chopped
5 cups fresh baby spinach
8 eggs
1 cup lowfat milk
6 cups cubed French bread- (about ½ large baguette)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I love Cabot’s Seriously Sharp)
½ cup sliced green onions (scallions)
Pepper, to taste

1. Break the sausage up into smaller pieces and cook over medium-high high until browned. Drain out the excess fat. Add pepper and sauté for 3-4 minutes until soft. Add spinach and cook 1-2 minutes, until wilted. Set aside.
2. Whisk eggs in a large mixing bowl. Mix in milk and stir well. Mix ½ of the cheese into the egg mixture. 
3. Assemble the casserole: Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Evenly spread the cubed French bread on the bottom of pan. Add the sausage and vegetable mix on top of the bread. 
 4. Pour egg mixture evenly over the ingredients. Sprinkle with reserved cheese and green onions. 
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes (can be done right before cooking or the following morning)

Nutrition Facts: 1/12th of the casserole 
230 calories, 14 g fat (6 g saturated), 11 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 15 g protein, 550 mg sodium

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fall Favorites: Pumpkin Risotto

This pumpkin risotto was a huge hit in my house, I’m sure most pumpkin-lovers would agree. It is definitely something I will be making again soon! Risotto is a creamy textured rice that is made from Arborio rice, a short grain variety. I buy it in the bulk section of the grocery store/natural food store to save some money! You may be surprised to find there is no milk or cream in this recipe. It is perfect without it. Pair with your favorite vegetable or salad.


The risotto is satisfying on its own, but can be paired with meat as well. For a autumn inspired meal pair with cranberry baked chicken or turkey or pork chops with apples! Using butter (a high saturated fat) in small amounts gives foods a wonderfully creamy flavor, you just don’t want to go overboard!


Pumpkin Risotto

Total time: 1 hour, 15 mins

Makes 8 servings



¼ cup olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

1 Tbsp chopped garlic

2 cups Arborio rice

6 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth

2 cups pureed pumpkin*

½ cup grated parmesan

1 Tbsp unsalted butter

Salt, pepper, to taste


* I used pie pumpkins that we grew in our garden that I baked and pureed, but plain (unsweetened) canned pumpkin would do the trick as well!



Heat oil over medium heat in a medium-large saucepan. Add chopped onion, garlic and sauté until onions are soft (about 3-4 minutes). Add the rice and continue to stir until rice is coated.
Add 3 cups of the broth, stirring often until the liquid is absorbed. Add broth in 1 cup measures and cook until it is absorbed into the rice, stirring often, repeat until the broth is used up and most of the liquid is absorbed. (The rice should look creamy, slightly al dente)
Add pumpkin and reduce to low, cook for 3-4 minutes. Add parmesan cheese and butter and stir well. Serve warm.


Nutrition Facts: 1 serving (3/4 cup)

280 calories, 7 g fat (2.5 g saturated), 46 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 8 g protein, 140 mg sodium

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

October is here and once again pumpkin flavored products have flooded the market. You can find everything from coffee and espresso drinks, to pumpkin muffins, pancakes, cookies, and even poptarts (Trader Joes). Though they contain pumpkin (a nutritious  harvest vegetable) many of these foods and beverages are sugar bombs in disguise. Most of these products don’t have nutrition labels and you have to search to find the nutrition facts. If unaccounted for, these types of treats in your diet can lead to unintended weight gain. For example, a medium Dunkin Donuts pumpkin latte will run you 350 calories and 54 g of carbohydrates (most of those coming from added sugar). As unhealthy as the latte is, it is actually a good choice compared to the Dunkin Donut pumpkin muffin which runs 550 calories, 24 g fat (5 g saturated fat), and 78 g carbohydrates (41 of those grams from added sugar).  


Instead of reaching for a pre-sweetened coffee beverage, consider a brewed pumpkin flavored hot coffee and use a small amount of milk/creamer and your preferred sweetener.


This pumpkin pie smoothie recipe is a healthy option for a meal replacement or post-workout treat. Best of all, you can drink it and know that you are making a healthy and filling choice for a healthy diet. I use a sugar-free protein powder, but ¾ cup of Greek yogurt would do the trick as well!


Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

½ cup canned pumpkin (not the pumpkin pie filling) or cooked pureed pumpkin

1 scoop sugar-free vanilla protein powder

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1 cup ice cubes

½ banana

½ cup water, skim milk, or dairy alternative (almond, soy, coconut milk)

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.


Nutrition Facts  

1 smoothie (made with water/sugar- free protein powder)

200 calories, 2 g fat, 26 g carbohydrates, 24 g protein

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Pumpkin Everything. Curry Pumpkin Soup

The past two days started to feel like fall in Vermont. The air is crisp, the apple orchards are ripe, and some of the leaves are starting to change their colors. I love autumn and like many, pumpkin flavored anything. Sure carving jack-o-lanterns is fun, but pumpkins are also edible and delicious! This year I grew pie pumpkins in my garden and roasted the first pumpkin this week. It was so big I had enough for pumpkin soup and a fresh pumpkin pie (I’m not much of a pie person, but it’s my boyfriend’s favorite).  

Pumpkins are chock full of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are wonderful to incorporate into soups, breads, or stews. Pumpkin soup is a classic dish, and depending on how it is made it can be a healthy, or a not-so-healthy soup. I avoid using cream and butter in my cooking and will instead go with evaporated milk or canned coconut milk, depending on the flavors I want to use. Pumpkin soup can be traditional, with flavors of cinnamon, cloves, and ginger, but my favorite is a spicy curry soup. I let it simmer longer than I usually do and the result was a thicker and more intensely flavored soup, which I loved.


Cooking Fresh Pumpkins

Cooking pumpkin is easy! You want to make sure you have a pumpkin variety that is good for cooking. Popular varieties include pie pumpkins, or sugar pumpkins and they tend to be on the smaller side (4-8 pounds).


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove stem and bottom of pumpkin and slice in half. Remove the seeds and set aside.
2. Place in a baking dish with 1 inch of water and bake for 1-2 hours until soft. Cool and scrape out flesh with a spoon.


Stovetop version:

1. Half and peel the pumpkin and remove the seeds.
2. Cut into 2” cubes and boil over medium to high heat for 30 minutes or until soft.


For a smoother texture (which I recommend) puree in a food processor with a small amount of water.  

Don't toss the seeds! They can be baked and are a good source of healthy fats, protein, and fiber! Add to salads, baked goods, or as a snack. To bake the pumpkin seeds: Rinse well and pat with paper towel. Place in a bowl and toss with 1 Tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper and evenly distribute on a baking sheet.Bake at 350 degrees for ~20 minutes or until crispy

Curry Pumpkin Soup

Makes 6 servings



1 Tbsp canola oil

1 tsp chopped garlic

½ tsp minced ginger

½ cup onion, diced

~2 cups fresh pumpkin or 1- 14oz canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

1 can of coconut milk

3 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth

1-2 Tbsp curry powder

½ tsp turmeric

¼ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)



1. Heat oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add garlic, ginger, and onions and sauté for 1-2 minutes until soft.
2. Add pumpkin, coconut milk, broth and spices and simmer over medium heat, uncovered for 30-60 minutes.
3. Serve hot, as an appetizer or with a salad for a light meal.


Nutrition Facts: 1 cup

180 calories, 16 g fat (13 g saturated), 7 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 3 g protein, 130 mg sodium