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).


Oven-version:


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

 

Ingredients:

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)

 

Directions:

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

Friday, August 8, 2014

Western Egg "Muffins"

We have all heard the saying "breakfast is the most important meal of the day". Yes it gets your brain and body ready for the coming day as well as breaking the "fast" from sleeping through the night. Though we know it is important, many go without or just survive on coffee (sorry, but doesn't count as a breakfast). Typically there are one of two reasons that my clients don't eat breakfast. Either they don't feel hungry/feel like eating or they don't have enough time (aka not making enough time). This recipe can be made ahead of time and cooked in less than 1 minute, making it a quick and healthy option and pretty portable.

Too often breakfast is high in refined carbs and lacks protein (cereals, toast, muffins, bagels, donuts, pastries). Sure it tastes good in the moment, but since they are digested quickly they don't leave you satisfied for long. Protein and fats are more satiating (meaning they fend off hunger) than carbohydrates and most American's fall short of protein at breakfast. New research has shown that 30 gram of protein per meal can be beneficial in keeping hunger in check and can aid in weight loss. Lots of my clients use hardboiled eggs as a quick protein in the morning, but that can get old and some people don't care for them. Canadian bacon is a lean meat that adds a lot of flavor without adding too much fat.

Of course this recipe can make a great lunch or light dinner as well. If following a low carb or paleo lifestyle have a few muffins. Need a carbohydrate with breakfast? Pair one muffin with whole grain toast, English muffin, or oatmeal.

Western Egg "Muffins"
Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients:
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup mushrooms, diced
1/4 cup sweet onions, diced
8 eggs (may substitute egg beaters if desired)
1/2 cup low-fat milk
3/4 cup low-fat shredded Mexican cheese
4 pieces of Canadian bacon, diced
1/2 cup salsa
pepper, to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Heat oil over medium heat in small frying pan. Add mushrooms and onions and cook until soft.
3. Scramble up the eggs, mix in the milk well. Add salsa, sautéed vegetables, and ham/Canadian bacon.
4. Spray muffin tin with non-cook spray and fill each muffin tin about 3/4 full. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp shredded cheese on top.
5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until egg is fully cooked.

Nutrition Facts: 1 muffin
95 calories, 5 g fat, 2 g carbs, 10 g protein, 250 mg sodium

Braided Veggie Pizza

This braided pizza is reminiscent of a calzone (though without the ricotta cheese because the significant other doesn't care for it). It is a bit more time consuming than hand tossing a pizza, but it is kind of fun to eat and can be served as an appetizer. Of course you can stuff the pizza with many fillings and flavors. I happened to have mushrooms, onions, and an abundance of kale from the garden, so that's what went into this one. With the hot weather on its way for the weekend you might decide to throw it on the grill instead of baking in the oven. I have not tried it with this recipe, but I would suggest using a grill-safe baking sheet or sturdy tin foil so you don't lose the shape of the pizza. 

The school year is right around the corner and dinners can be hard to juggle with sports and afterschool activities, This can be made a day in advance and placed in the oven right before dinner instead of relying on frozen and processed foods. Make your own dough and freeze in advance or pick up a prepared pizza dough at the store (most stores have a local company that they order from). Pair with a side salad for a complete meal.

Braided Veggie Pizza
Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:
1 whole grain pizza dough
1/4 cup corn meal
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cup pizza or marinara sauce
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
3 cups of kale, sliced
1 cup shredded part skim mozzarella or pizza mix cheese
Marinara sauce, for dipping

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
1. Remove pizza dough from refrigerator and set out for 15 minutes (will make it easier to work with)
2. Meanwhile heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, add garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
3. Add mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes. Add kale and cover, cook for 3 minutes or until kale and mushrooms are soft.
4. Spread corn meal on a clean counter surface. Stretch or roll the dough into a large rectangle. 

5. Making the "end flaps": Using a sharp knife make a 2 inch slit about 4 inches in from each side and pull center of the dough out a few inches. (see picture above for assistance).
6. Making the "side flaps": Make slits about 4 inches long, 1 inch apart down the long end of the dough.
7. Spread the sauce down the center of the pizza dough, Add vegetables on top and sprinkle with cheese.
8. Fold the bottom "end flap" up to cover the filling. Starting on the right side, fold the bottom "side flap" over the fillings. Then fold the left bottom "side flap", then repeat alternating the right and left side flaps until to the last "end flap". Fold that one down to close the pizza. 

9. Bake at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool a few minutes before slicing into 8 pieces. Warm up some marinara in the microwave and serve with pizza for dipping.

Nutrition Facts: 1 slice
205 calories, 6 g fat (2 g saturated), 30 g carbohydrates, 10 g protein, 350mg sodium

Friday, July 25, 2014

Summer Loving. Body Loving.

Looking back at my calendar the month of July has come and passed. Life has been busy at work and my time off as been full of gardening, hiking, BBQs, and fitting that workout in. Unfortunately blogging has not been on the top of my list, so I apologize to those of you that look forward to the new recipes. There are plenty of delicious meals made, and pictures taken, I just need to sit down and get writing! 

I hope you are all enjoying everything that summer has to offer and are feeling confident in your own skin. Waiting in line at the grocery store it's almost impossible to miss the magazines claiming to help you "lose 10 pounds in 1 week" or "lose 3 inches this week". The constant barrage of diets and diet culture is hard to escape. I work with lots of clients who are trying to lose weight and the presssure they feel seems to multiply in the summer months, leading to drastic changes in thier diet and often pretty much self-starvation or deprivation. Instead of enjoying the beach or outdoor activities they avoid lots of activities because they are body consious or have "body shame".

Summer can often make people self conscious about their bodies, often comparing themselves to others, or even worse the mainstream media. Along with these comparisons comes negative self talk... "I'm too fat", "I hate my stomach", or "I can't wear a bathing suit". This talk can bring feelings of guilt, depression, and can change what you will and won't do or eat as a result of how you perceive yourself. Changing negative self talk can bring a more positive outlook to your life can have a profound effect on mood and if used correctly can be a motivator to make healthy choices. You may find that you are more likely to "do" things when you are less focused on how you may look while doing them.

Most of us are self conscious about something, whether it's the size of our nose, feet, waist, lack of thigh-gap, a unique laugh, you get the point. Learn to embrace what you do love about your body and yourself and focus on those aspects. Work hard to change what you can (physically activities that you enjoy, choosing healthy foods) and aim to be realistic in what is "changeable". We were never intended to all be the same size or shape, but that doesn't mean you can't be healthy. Whether you are in your bathing suit on the beach, wearing short shorts, or are in long pants or a dress I hope that you can feel proud of the body that you are working with. Be active and eat well to have the body that is healthy for you... that doesn't have to be a size two.

As always, feel free to comment or start a discussion about what body loving or body acceptance means to you.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Chicken Waldorf Salad


This no-cook salad is perfect for a quick dinner on a hot night. Serve over your favorite greens or on whole grain bread or a wrap. Plan ahead and bake or grill extra chicken for a “planned-over”. Forget to plan ahead? Grab a chilled rotisserie chicken from the grocery store instead.

 

Greek yogurt is used in the recipe to reduce fat and calories. It adds creamy texture and a tangy flavor with no added fat for a fraction of what real mayonnaise would provide. Lots of summer salads use liberal amount of real mayonnaise, which can really add up. Did you know that 1 Tbsp of mayo has 100 calories and 11 grams of fat? Often clients will tell me that they don’t like “light” or “low fat” mayo or Miracle Whip. We all have different taste buds, but I have found most like the canola or olive oil mayonnaise varieties better. They provide the healthy monounsaturated fats and about half of the fat and calories of regular mayo. Still not convinced? If you go with the real deal, less is best.

 

Chicken Waldorf Salad

Makes 6 servings (1 cup serving)

 

Ingredients:

3 cups cooked chicken breast, chilled and diced

1 apple, diced

1 cup diced celery

1/3 cup diced red onion

1/3 cup craisins

¼ cup 0% plain greek yogurt

2 Tbsp low fat mayonnaise

1 tsp lemon juice

¼ tsp salt

Pepper to taste

 

 Directions:

  1. Mix first five ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. Mix the Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, and lemon juice in a small bowl.
  3. Add mayonnaise mixture to the chicken mixture, flavor with salt and pepper.
  4. Chill for at least 15 minutes. Serve on salad greens or use as sandwich filling.

 

Nutrition Facts:

150 calories, 6 g fat, 1.5 g saturated, 13 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 12 g protein, 170 mg sodium

Print!