Pumpkin Hummus

Just made a super easy, beautifully colored pumpkin hummus. So while the freshly cut garlic smell is still on my finger tips* (yeah, not my husband’s favorite aspect of my cooking), I wanted to share!

The pumpkin can be canned or pureed fresh pumpkin, whichever you have on hand. For me, that was canned pumpkin. I used my mini blender for this, not because “mini” is cute, although it is, but because in this mini New York City apartment, everything must be mini to fit. And my food processor is still securely wrapped and packed somewhere in storage. The results were still perfectly smooth, just scrape down the sides more often if you’re going the blender route. Hummus is already healthy, but by replacing some the dense beans (aka carbohydrates) with pumpkin puree, and incorporating some low sodium vegetable broth in place of traditional oil, you have a light, flavorful, deliciously Autumn dip perfect to serve with veggies, crackers, or pita chips!

Pumpkin Hummus
Makes 2 cups

1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup white kidney (cannellini) beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp Low Sodium vegetable broth
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
3/4 tsp cumin
dash each of salt, ground black pepper, cayenne pepper

Place all ingredients into a blender and pulse for 1-2 minutes, scraping down the sides every 30 seconds, then blend on high for 60 seconds to ensure a creamy, smooth texture.

* To help remove, or at least minimize, that sexy garlic scent rub your fingers inside the lemon wedges you just squeezed before washing your hands.

NUTRITION FACTS
Serving Size: 2 Tbsp
Calories 33
Total Fat 1g
Sodium 105mg
Total Carbohydrate 5g
Dietary Fiber 1.3g
Sugars <1g
Protein 2g
Est. Percent of Calories from: Fat 9% | Carbs 51% | Protein 19%

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Vegan Pumpkin Apple Bread

It’s fall!! My favorite season. The chill in the air, cozy sweaters, steaming coffee, Honeycrisp apples, butternut squash, pumpkin everything…what’s not to love?!*

This recipe was inspired by my recent apple picking adventure in Hudson Valley in upstate New York. Unbelievably gorgeous. And now my apartment is filled with fresh apples, squash, and pumpkins. Yum!
*except the getting dark early thing, don’t love that. Otherwise, Fall for the win.

Vegan Pumpkin Apple Bread
(low fat, lower sugar)
Servings: 12

Ingredients:
1 cup ripe banana, from about 1.5 bananas, mashed
1 cup pumpkin puree (or substitute with sweet potato puree)
1/2 cup brown sugar
5 Tbsp oil
1/4 cup applesauce
2 TB ground flax seed
4 TB Water
1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup almond milk
1 apple, chopped
* optional, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Mix banana and pumpkin. Add sugar, oil and applesauce. Mix well.
In separate bowl, mix ground flaxseed and 4 Tbsp water (water should be room temperature or luke warm). Allow to sit for 5 minutes.
In separate bowl, mix dry ingredients. Add to banana mixture. Add flaxseed mixture. Mix well.
Add milk and stir until combined. Fold in chopped apples, add toasted walnuts (if using.)
Pour batter into 1 greased loaf pan.
Bake for 70-80 minutes, or until skewer comes out clean.

Nutrition
Amount per Serving, 1/12 bread loaf

Calories 230
Total Fat 6.5g
Saturated Fat <1g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 84mg
Total Carbohydrate 40g
Dietary Fiber 3g
Sugars 12g
Protein 4g
Fat 23% | Carbs 69% | Protein 6%

My notes post-baking: This bread is moist and bursting with flavor. I know the cooking time is long, don’t short change it; the bread will be raw. All that pumpkin, applesauce, banana, and apple create a very “wet” batter. Baking at 350 F degrees for 45-60 minutes might work, I just can’t speak to it since I have not tried.
I really like the pieces of apple when you slice into the bread, if you do not prefer texture in your bread, peel and grate the apple instead of dicing it.
I did not add nuts and wish I had. I think the crunch would enhance this recipe.

Asian Cabbage with Soy-Ginger Salmon Patties

Its hot out, resulting in two very insightful generalizations: 1) the less the oven is on the better, 2) arms, legs and skin in general are regularly on display. To keep skin glowing, without the sweaty “glow” from a hot oven, and that summer body intact, I have a recipe here that is filling yet low in calories, chock full of nutrients and antioxidants, plus it’s tasty and pretty to look at! It can also be made ahead, used alone as a side salad, or served as a main entrée when you top it with soy ginger salmon patties (recipe at the end). A versatile, multitasking nutritional powerhouse with a spicy peanut dressing? Why, yes please.

Nutritional highlights:
Vitamin A: carrots, leafy greens
Vitamin C: cabbage, tomatoes, leafy greens, peas
Vitamin D: salmon
Vitamin K: cabbage, leafy greens, peas
Calcium: salmon, green veggies
Iron: egg, leafy greens
Zinc: cashew nuts, peanut butter, eggs
Ginger, garlic, and salmon are also known for being anti-inflammatory. I know, you can thank me later. ENJOY!

Asian Salmon Cabbage Salad

Asian Cabbage with Soy-Ginger Salmon Patties

Serves 6
Ingredients
For the salad:
½ cup toasted cashews – chopped
1 head purple cabbage – sliced
1 head Romaine – sliced
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup cilantro – chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes – halved or chopped
2 stalks green onion – sliced
1 cup frozen peas – thawed
1 cup frozen shelled edamame – thawed

For the dressing:
1 clove garlic, grated
¾ teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoon honey
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1-2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
½ teaspoon Sriracha
1 tablespoon sesame oil (can sub with canola oil)

Toast cashews in dry skillet for 5 minutes over medium heat to lightly brown. Set aside.
Chop/ slice cabbage (and romaine lettuce if using), carrots, cilantro, tomatoes, and green onion. Toss together in a large bowl. Add thawed peas and edamame.
To make the dressing, put all the ingredients into a mason jar and shake. If you don’t have sesame oil on hand, I recommend subbing canola oil (olive oil gives it a different, read: not so welcomed, flavor).

IMG_2659

Serving Size: 1 2/3 cup. Amount per Serving:
Calories 223
Total Fat 10g
Sodium 90mg
Total Carbohydrate 25.5g
Dietary Fiber 10g
Sugars 13g
Protein 7.55g
Est. Percent of Calories from:
Fat 15% | Carb 45% | Protein 13%

Soy Ginger Salmon Patties:
(2) 6-oz cans boneless, skinless, wild salmon [or 1 pound salmon filets, chopped in food processor]
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
½ tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 teaspoon Sriracha
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 scallions (whites and light green parts only)- minced
2 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
pinch cayenne pepper

Drain canned salmon and flake meat; if using fresh salmon filets, chop in food processor. Place in bowl.
Whisk egg. Add soy sauce, ginger, sriacha, garlic, scallions, cilantro, and cayenne pepper and whisk to combine with beaten egg.
Pour egg mixture over salmon. Using hands, I recommend spraying hands with cooking spray to minimize sticking, combine salmon with other ingredients. Form into 4 or 5 patties, depending on how big you make them.
Spray pan with cooking spray, coating entire bottom of pan and heat over medium heat. Add patties, likely in two batches to avoid overcrowding pan. Cook ~3 minutes each side, or until browned.

Serving Size: 1 patties. Amount per Serving:
Calories 83
Total Fat 1.5g
Cholesterol 20mg
Sodium 501mg
Total Carbohydrate 2g
Dietary Fiber <1g
Protein 15g
Est. Percent of Calories from:
Fat 6% | Carbs 7% | Protein 71%

Just Nuts, Seeds, and Fruit Granola Bars

Who doesn’t love a good, all-natural granola bar? (I’m looking at you, KIND bars).
Convenient? Check.
Flavorful? Check.
Expensive? Double check.
I can’t afford my own love of all-natural granola bars, so I decided to create my own! This particular recipe was inspired by a Vegan blogger I follow. No, I’m not vegan, though that sure would make my raw cookie dough batter consumption a lot safer. Whatever your diet, she’s amazing. And a much better photographer than I.

My favorite part about making your own granola or granola bars? You can generally add whatever you want and there’s a 99% chance it will turn out delicious. So make the combination your own: add different nuts, seeds, any kind of dried fruit, add chocolate chips, add shredded coconut, add whatever gets you excited. Go nuts. Pun intended. But if you do the below I guarantee you will be satisfied 🙂

Just Nuts, Seeds, and Fruit Granola Bar
Makes 6 Bars

1 1/2 small Bananas
1/2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/6 tsp Salt
1 cup Gluten Free Rolled Oats
3 tbsp Shelled Walnuts, chopped
14 Raw Almonds, chopped
1/3 cup Raisins
3 tbsp Roasted Unsalted Sunflower Seeds
2 tbsp Organic Hemp Hearts

Mash banana. Add vanilla extract, cinnamon, salt and stir to combine. Add oats, chopped nuts, dried fruit, and seeds.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Lightly grease loaf pan and line with parchment paper or foil, leave several inches hanging over edge to make bars easier to remove (don’t forget to lightly grease the pan before lining… à la moi. Much more difficult to remove from pan).
Pour oat mixture into prepared pan, press down with hands to make compact and smooth on top.
Place pan in center rack in oven, bake uncovered for ~20-25 minutes. Edges should be golden grown. The bars will firm up and continue cooking even when removed from oven so don’t over cook.
Take bars out of oven and cool for 5 minutes. Remove from pan by lifting edges, cool for another 20 minutes before cutting into six bars. Wrap bars individually and enjoy some nutritious deliciousness!

NUTRITION FACTS PER BAR:
Calories 181. Calories from Fat 71.7
Total Fat 8g
Saturated Fat 1g
Sodium 85mg
Total Carbohydrate 24g
Dietary Fiber 3.5g
Sugars 10g
Protein 5.5g
Est. Percent of Calories from:  Fat 26%   Carbs 52%  Protein 12%

Make-Ahead Lunch: Mediterranean Orzo

In this house apartment, kitchen space is limited. The eating out budget is even more limited. Having an easy, inexpensive, make-ahead dish that you (or in my case, my husband) can grab-and-go for lunch is a must. Since the dish must appease both 1) my dietitian standards and 2) a hungry boy’s appetite, I have created a few go-to dishes that I turn to regularly that fit the bill. I might love spending time in the kitchen, but not every kitchen experiment of mine meets both of the aforementioned requirements, and constitutes a respectable meal. I admit, I have a knack for creating “snacks,” which the average individual would call a sweet. And smoothies. I love a good fruit and veggie smoothie.

But back to this fabulous vegetarian pasta dish. Orzo is the base. While it may look like rice, it is a pasta. I highlight this as it is not to be confused as gluten free, nor is it to be considered a healthy alternative to pasta, a la my husband’s thoughts. It is pasta, not a healthy pasta alternative. It just looks a little different from your typical fusilli or fettuccine noodles. If you are looking for something slightly more nutritious than regular Italian Orzo pasta, I recommend the Harvest Grains blend from Trader Joe’s. It is a combination of Israeli style couscous, orzo, baby garbanzo beans, and red quinoa. It has more fiber and protein, plus more texture compared to regular orzo. As with all of my recipes, feel free to substitute ingredients with whatever you have on hand to suit your taste preferences, diet, or budget. You can serve this hot, room temperature, or chilled. I think it’s also great over lettuce, or with a side salad. If you’re able to splurge on a little more at the grocery store, add in cooked shrimp or chopped, cooked chicken! I highly recommend making a big batch of this on a Sunday, and you have taken care of your lunch for a week! *Notice the serving size is for six. That’s because this dish also usually serves as dinner the night it is made. I am all about convenience, people.

Enjoy!

Mediterranean Orzo!

Mediterranean Orzo!

Mediterranean Orzo. Serves 6.

Nutrition Facts: 313 Calories, 5.2g Fat, 14g Protein, 54.6g Carbohydrate, 6g Fiber

1 1/2 cups uncooked Italian Orzo
1 cup Mini Pearl Grape Tomatoes, chopped
4 oz Light Feta Cheese, crumbled
1 1/2 cups Garbanzo Beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 English cucumber, chopped
1 tbsp Olive Oil Extra Virgin
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Ground Black Pepper

Cook orzo pasta according to package.
Wash/ drain one can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas) to remove sodium.
Chop tomatoes, cucumber, and crumble feta cheese. Add to bowl with chickpeas.
Whisk lemon juice and EVOO together with salt and pepper to taste. Add to cooled orzo pasta.
Combine lightly dressed orzo (this is to keep it from drying out and sticking together in clumps) with vegetables.

Add Garlicky Honey Lemon vinaigrette just before serving (Please note, vinaigrette not included in nutrition facts above).

 

Mediterranean Orzo over Kale

Mediterranean Orzo over Kale

Garlicky Honey Lemon Dressing:

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 lemon, juiced
2 Tbsp White Balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp honey
1 garlic clove, crushed
¼ tsp cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine above ingredients, store up to one week in a glass jar. Shake before using. Serve with everything, this stuff is fabulous.

Mediterranean Tuna Nicoise Salad

So this recipe does not actually resemble traditional Tuna Nicoise Salad aside from two ingredients: the tuna and the hard boiled egg. But because those two ingredients in aforementioned salad is what inspired me, the recipe is holding true to its namesake. My blog, my rules.

This salad makes a cheap easy perfect weeknight dinner or lunch. It is easy, inexpensive, and a protein powerhouse brimming with energy-boosting nutrients and vitamins. It’s also pretty to look at and many of the ingredients are probably in your pantry right now. Won and done. I expect this to be added to weekly meal rotations everywhere.

You are free to sub any of the salad toppers for what is actually in your pantry. In my world, salad is code for “throwing random stuff on a plate and calling it a meal.” Think of lettuce as your vehicle for just about anything. This recipe can also easily, like super easily, be increased to two servings since the below only uses half a standard size can of tuna.

Mediterranean Tuna Nicoise Salad. Serves 1.

Nutrition Facts: 370 calories, 16g fat, 31g protein, 28g carbohydrates, 15g fiber. Vitamin C, K, calcium, folate, and fiber from the kale and spinach; DHA and EPA (Omega-3’s) from the tuna; brain-healthy choline from the egg… every essential amino acid from the egg, actually; anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fats from the avocado and olive oil.

Mediterranean Tuna "Nicoise" Salad

Mediterranean Tuna “Nicoise” Salad

2 cups lettuce (I used spinach and Tuscan kale. Full disclosure, mixed greens would have been way more delicious in this, but I didn’t have them on hand)
2 oz canned wild albacore tuna* in water, drained (look for no salt added, or half salt)
1 hard boiled egg, sliced
½ cup white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed under cold running water
1 oz avocado, sliced
1 Tbsp lemon-olive oil vinaigrette (or half of what the below recipe makes)
Lemon wedge for squeezing over top

Tangy Lemon-Olive Oil Vinaigrette:

1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 Tbsp white vinegar (I used White Balsamic vinegar)
1 Tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

*If pregnant, no, I am not, use canned light tuna. It has a fraction (like 1/3 less) of the mercury that albacore tuna contains.

Healthy Vegetable Lasagna

Spring, where art thou? Today in NYC I woke up to ice-covered steps and snow-dusted cars on my street. Just 48 hours ago I was blissfully prancing around Central Park in a tank top. Mother Nature. Wake up, it is spring. Embrace it. Due to the chilly weather, my recipe idea for today changed. Somehow a picnic-themed dish didn’t seem appropriate as I don my puffer coat, for the billionth time this year, but hey, who’s bitter? This recipe is both comforting and warm, yet light enough to keep you feeling healthy and in shape for shorts season, should it ever decide to grace us with its presence.

Traditional lasagna can be very heavy and low in vitamins. I’ve lightened it up by replacing traditional full fat ricotta cheese with cottage cheese and cramming in tons of healthy vegetables. I’ve also omitted the traditional meat sauce in favor of a veggie sauce. Not because I don’t support meat, I mostly just cannot afford to consume it on my starting-salary income. Hence, healthy flavorful vegetable lasagna!

Healthy Veggie Lasagna. Serves 6.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
16 oz cottage cheese (I used non fat/ low sodium)
10 oz frozen broccoli florets, thawed, chopped, squeezed of excess moisture
2 Tbsp parmesan cheese
2 tsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp ground mustard, optional
3/4 cup part-skim shredded mozzarella
3 cups baby spinach (or 1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed
of excess moisture)
2 cups marinara sauce (I used Trader Joe’s Tomato Basil Marinara)
6 No Boil lasagna noodles

Heat oil in medium skillet over medium heat.
Add onion, 1/4 tsp salt/ pepper and cook until tender, 8-10 minutes.
Add garlic, cook for another 1 minute but do not let garlic burn (it can happen fast). Add parsley. Remove from heat.
Blend cottage cheese and broccoli in food processor or blender until smooth.
Transfer broccoli mixture to bowl and add parmesan, lemon zest, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, oregano, ground mustard, 1/2 cup mozzarella, 1/4 tsp salt/ pepper and spinach.
In separate bowl, mix marinara sauce with sautéed onion mixture.

In an 8-inch baking dish (or 2 loaf pans if you’re cooking for two, which is what I did so I didn’t have to cook it all at once. Genius. Just halve the following amounts):

Spread 1/2 cup marina on bottom.
Top with two noodles.
Cover with 1/2 cup marina.
Spread half of broccoli mixture.
Top with two noodles.
Cover with 1/2 cup marina.
Then remaining broccoli.
Add two more noodles.
Top with remaining marinara, sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese
(maybe another few dashes of parmesan cheese for good measure).

Either bake or freeze at this point. If freezing, cover tightly first with plastic wrap then foil to prevent freezer burn. When ready to eat, allow to thaw in refrigerator overnight.

Preheat oven to 425.
Cook at 425 for 35 minutes total, the first 20 minutes covered in foil, the remaining 15 minutes uncovered.

Curious about the nutrition facts? Of course you are. Per serving:
250 calories, 7 grams fat, 18 grams protein, 27 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber. Lots of Vitamin C, K, calcium, and folate from the broccoli and spinach; sulfur, an antioxidant and anti-carcinogen from the onions and garlic; anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fat from the olive oil. Enjoy!