Saturday, May 19, 2018

Frozen Oat Cups

Frozen Oatmeal Cups

Breakfast is too important to make it through an early morning class alert and oriented. Never mind if you are hoping to learn and retain anything. Have a few easy to make (or grab) options to take with you should you oversleep or not have time to stop by the cafeteria or coffee shop.

This recipe is simple and perfect to make in bulk and easily stored in the freezer--ready on demand. Whole grain old-fashioned oats are combined with nuts, berries, and dried fruits for a touch of sweetness. Exchange you sugar-laden instant oatmeal for one or two of these nutrient-dense and protein-packed cups. 

(Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens)

  • 5 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups old-fashioned, rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon butter (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon flax seeds
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 cup dried fruits (cranberries, dates, apricots, raisins, tart cherries however you like)
  • 1/2 cup chopped and toasted nuts (almonds, walnuts)
  • 1 cup fresh (actually frozen works better) berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries)


1. In a medium-saucepan bring water and salt to boil.
2. Stir in oats and cook for 5 minutes.

3. Mixture will be thin and soupy, but will thicken as it cools.
4. Stir in cinnamon and chill oat mixture.
5. Add seeds, nuts, dried fruits and frozen berries.

6. Spoon 1/2 cup of mixture into muffin pan and freeze x 3-4 hours until solid. 
7. Transfer frozen cups to a freezer bag or airtight container.
8. When ready to use, microwave one frozen cup, covered for 2 minutes.
9. Add milk, peanut or almond butter, nut milks, fresh fruit, coconut, and a little brown sugar.

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Couscous with Dried Fruits & Nuts

Simply eating a handful of nuts is going to get old sooner or later no matter how healthy you might want to be. So, having other ways to sneak a handful of nuts into your eating and fueling habits is key.

Side dishes are the perfect answer for you nut dilemma. Use bulgur wheat or couscous for this Mediterranean-inspired 'salad' packed with dried fruits, creamy feta, nuts, and, when in season, pomegranate arils. One of my favorite dishes for sure.

Walnuts have the highest alpha-lenolenic acid (ALA) and polyunsaturated fat content amongst nuts; thus, making it a great source for healthy plant-based fats and omega-3-fatty acids. However, they can also taste bitter at times..and then, nuts are omitted...don't do that!.

As an alternative, I will occasionally substitute cashews or pistachios which have a smoother, buttery and richer flavor profile along with a lower total fat content; but, unfortunately, have a significantly lower concentration of polyunsaturated fats. Just choose one!

Couscous with Dried Fruit & Nuts

  • 1 cup couscous
  • 3-4 cups vegetable broth, hot
  • 1 cup of toasted walnuts, pistachios, almonds or cashews 
  • 2 oz block feta, crumbled or cubed
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate arils
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries
  • 1/3 cup dried dates, diced
  • 1/2 cup green scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbls fresh mint
  • 1 medium apple, finely diced
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 2-3 Tbls olive oil
  • 1-2 Tbls honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. In a glass bowl, cover couscous with vegetable broth to 1/4" above the grains.
  2. Let stand x 20 min. 
  3. Whisk lemon juice, olive oil, honey and salt. Adjust for sweet and salt to taste.
  4. Finely dice the apple and marinate in the lemon-honey vinaigrette.
  5. Fluff couscous and add nuts, pomegranates, dried fruits, scallions, and feta.
  6. Separate the apples from the vinaigrette and add them to the couscous.
  7. Taste the salad at this point. 
  8. I actually add very little of the vinaigrette because it is already so flavorful, but you decide how moist you want the salad to be.

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Chocolate Almond Protein Smoothie

A great way to start your day before you 'go nuts' at work: Chocolate Almond Protein SmoothieIf you don't like eating nuts, try drinking them. 

That said, choose your 'milk' wisely. Check the content and read the labels to avoid buying nut-flavored waters with additives. I have recently discovered Elmhurst Milked. 
Their flavor is rich, they have "options" (hazelnut, walnuts, cashew, almond...even oats), and their product has a higher ratio of real nuts to water--obviously, that comes with a price. 

This recipe adds an extra boost of 'nuts' with a few tablespoons of nut butter. See what you think!

Chocolate Almond Protein Smoothie

  • 1 plus 1/2 cup Elmhurst Milked Almonds almond milk
  • 1/2 cup blueberries (I prefer frozen)
  • 1/2 cup ice
  • 2 scoops Chocolate Whey Protein powder
  • 1-2 Tbls almond nut butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 Tbls dark (70% preferred) bittersweet chocolate chips or cocoa nibs

  1. Must have a Vitamix or other blender.
  2. Combine all ingredients and hit the 'POWER' button.
  3. Makes approximately 3 cups.



Disclaimer: Some material features sponsored links.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Puff Pastry Party

Superbowl Sunday LI is here! Even if you do not like football, it is probably affecting your life right now in some fashion, ie invited to a party, bringing snacks to a party, or having people over as an excuse to party, right?


Keep it simple (but delicious) folks with some really easy options from my Appetizers Page including: 

1. Spicy Jalapeno-Cheddar Rollups 
2. Roasted Corn & Jalapeño Dip 
3. Mini-Muffin Snackers       
4. Fried Mozzarella Dippers        
5. Mini Corn Dog Bites
6. Lemony-Artichoke Crostini
7. Bagel & Lox Spread  

That said, there is always room in the recipe box for more great grub like this brilliant recommendation from the Pioneer Woman for puff pastry--use it--easy, inexpensive, versatile, and can be used for savory or sweet consumption! 

Start experimenting and take this to the party today!

Puff Pastry Pizza
(Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Show featuring Puff Pastry)

Cookie Sheet 
Parchment Paper
Rolling Pin
Brush or spoon

1 package of frozen puff pastry, thawed according to package instructions
1 lb of shredded mozzarella cheese
1-2 eggs with 2 tsp of water, for egg wash

Spices:  oregano / thyme / basil 
Salt & Pepper
Olive oil

A. Toppings Savory

  • Canadian Bacon + Pineapple + Jalapeño
  • Pepperoni  (Regular or Turkey) + Peperoncini
  • Sautéed Mushrooms + Feta or Goat Cheese 
  • Fresh Mozzarella + Fresh or Roasted Cherry Tomatoes  + Basil + Balsamic Vinegar
  • Fresh Mozzarella + Balsamic Vinegar Syrup

B. Toppings Sweet

  • Apricot Jam + Apple Slices + Cinnamon Sugar
  • Bake strips of Puff Pastry independently with just cinnamon sugar, then use as stackers with Whipping Cream and Fresh Fruit on top or in between  

1. Wash your hands and preheat oven to 415F degrees.
2. Prep your counter and rolling pin with some flour.

3. Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper
4. Prep all of your ingredients first:

--prep your egg wash
--slice onions, tomatoes
--grate cheese
--dice pineapple
--chop bacon and herbs
--saute mushrooms

5. Unfold your puff pastry and divide into 1/3 strips to roll out a little more
6. Use a knife to gently score a 1/2 inch border around the edge of the pastry dough.
7. Apply a light egg wash.

8. Transfer to the parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake for 7 minutes.
9. Remove from oven and begin layering the toppings as you see fit.

10. Bake another 12-15 minutes until golden brown and puffed up like crazy--relax it will deflate and be delicious!


  • No Money:
    • don't use meat at all
    • keep it all veggie--roasted or sautéed or fresh
    • buy block of cheese and grate it yourself
  • No Waste:
    • add any veggies, especially those no longer ideal for raw snacking
    • saute the veggies for extra flavor before adding to rice
  • No Equipment:
    • Skillet--only if making sautéed veggies
    • Cookie Sheet with or without rim (can be used for roasting veggies if need)
    • Parchment Paper
    • Rolling Pin or use a can or PVC pipe
  • No Skills:
    • review some of my early blogs--How To Saute Mushrooms (can use for onions as well)
    • can you use a knife ? To cut thru soft pre-made dough? slice a few pepperoncini or tomatoes?
    • if no cooking skills--can you transfer dough from counter to cookie sheet?
  • No Health:
    • use reduced fat shredded mozzarella
    • roast any / all vegetables you might use
    • disclaimer: puff pastry is puff pastry and simply not low-cal so eat in moderation
  • No Time:
    • quick easy appetizer for any group of guests
    • virtually any ingredient is an option depending on your flavor profile

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Sweet Potato Strata

Happy New Year! As we all settle into the reality of our New Year's resolutions being harder than we anticipated, and wishing it were easier...why not figure out how to make delicious food better for you throughout the year! Fad diets serve a purpose if "weight loss" is one of your 2017 Goals, but they are short-term, and rarely, sustainable--simply because "going to extremes" for long periods of time is the exception rather than the norm when it comes to human beings and their food palate.

Rather than eliminating everything you love, find ways to tweak the recipe to improve nutritional content without sacrificing flavors;and, without losing the pure joy of eating good food. Why not start with this delicious base recipe from Cooking Light--packed full of sweet potatoes, onions, chicken sausage and reduced on the heavy cream and cheese content!

Want to mix up the ingredients--go for it! I used extra sweet potato and added a medium onion to the sausage mix. So, i
f "trying something new" is one of your New Year's's a great way to start! 

Sweet Potato Strata
(Adapted from Cooking Light Kid's Cook section)

8"x8" Pyrex Baking Dish
Large Mixing Bowl

6 slices of Italian Bread, toasted slightly and torn into 1" chunks
1 (8oz)++ sweet potato, microwaved until 'almost done', peeled and cubed 
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
6 oz of bulk chicken sausage or chicken sausage breakfast links, sliced
3/4 cup of Monterrey Jack Cheese, grated and divided
1 3/4 cup of 2% milk
1/4 cup half-and-half
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
5 eggs, slightly beaten
Cooking spray
Maple syrup

1. Wash your hands.
2. Preheat oven 350F degrees.
3. Prep bread and microwave sweet potatoes.
4. Saute sausage and onions. 

5. Combine bread, potatoes and 1/2 of cheese sausage and onions in large mixing bowl.

6. Add slightly beaten eggs, milk, cream and spices mixture to the mixing bowl, and then add to your prepared 8" x 8" baking dish.

7. Let soak x 20 minutes. 
8. Top with remaining cheese, sausage and onions, and cover with lightly sprayed foil.
9. Bake at 350F degrees x 25-30 minutes, then bake another 20 minutes without foil. 

10. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving...then, drizzle with maple syrup, if you are so inclined, and enjoy!

Invite some starving friends over for a late Sunday brunch! Add some fresh fruit and coffee...and, there will be a new place to meet for the weekend!

(Serves: 6 / Serving Size: 1/6th with 2 tsp of syrup / Calories: 336 / Fat 12.8g (5g Sat) / Protein: 18g / Carb: 36 g / Fiber 2 g / Sodium 574 mg)
  • No Money:
    • don't use meat at all--this will reduce fat, calories, salt and money!
    • save any stale bread you have in the freezer for when you are making stuffing or strata 
  • No Waste:
    • sweet potatoes store easily and for a long period 
    • great way to save stale last pieces of loaf of bread that no one wants to eat
  • No Equipment:
    • Large Bowl
    • Baking dish
    • Skillet
    • Large Toaster Oven / Regular oven
  • No Skills:
    • review some of my early blogs--How To Saute Mushrooms (can use for onions as well)
    • can you toast bread?
    • can you stir stuff around a bowl?
    • if not, you will need to learn some basic skills to make this simple recipe
  • No Health
    • add more sweet potato
    • cut the meat for reduced fat, sodium and calories
    • original recipe does not add salt
    • original recipe only uses 2% milk--try it without the cream 
  • No Time:
    • some prep work needed, but easy
    • approx 35 minute
    • 6 nice servings