Sunday, July 25, 2010

Healthy Strawberry-Peach Trifle

Yeah, yeah, I know- trifles are supposed to be layered in a large, pretty glass bowl through which you can see all of the differing fruit, pudding, and cake layers.  That was my intention.  

But, sadly, I do not currently own a trifle bowl/glass/container!  :(  But I decided that I did not want this to stop me from trying out this recipe.  And I am sure glad that it didn't!  Even though I couldn't see all the layers from the outside of the bowl, it looked pretty when dished into individual servings.

The preparation is really easy, it basically consists of making the pudding/Cool Whip mixture, slicing the fruit, and cutting up the angel food cake.  (P.S. it is MUCH easier to just buy a pre-made angel food cake than to make one)

This is a light, summery dessert that was really delicious!  It's best to eat right away though; if you let it sit in the fridge for too long the cake pieces will soak up the pudding mixture and get a little soggy.

And on my to-buy list= a trifle glass!

"Healthified" Strawberry-Peach Trifle
1box (4-serving size) vanilla instant pudding and pie filling mix
2cups fat-free (skim) milk
2cups frozen fat-free whipped topping, thawed
1/2cup peach preserves
1/2cup amaretto or orange juice
8cups cubed (1-inch) angel food cake (10 to 12 oz)
3cups sliced fresh strawberries
3medium peaches or nectarines, peeled, sliced, or 2 cups frozen sliced peaches, thawed
1/4cup sliced almonds, toasted*

1.In large bowl, make pudding mix as directed on box for pudding using 2 cups milk. Refrigerate 15 minutes. Gently stir in whipped topping until blended.
2.Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix preserves and amaretto until blended.
3.In 3- to 4-quart trifle bowl or clear glass bowl, arrange half of the cake cubes. Top with half of the strawberries and peaches. Drizzle with half of the preserves mixture. Spoon and spread half of pudding mixture over fruit. Repeat layers, ending with pudding. Sprinkle almonds over top. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate no longer than 8 hours.

Makes 16 (3/4 cup) servings

Nutrition: 180 calories, 1.5g fat, 240 mg sodium, 36g carbohydrate, 3g protein

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Greek Chicken and Barley Salad

I personally think that the coloring of a food or recipe is really important to its appeal.  And, personally, this salad hits the mark, wouldn't ya say?

I've never made a "greek" recipe before, and to be honest the thought kind of intimidated me.  Kind of.  Not the THOUGHT of greek food; because that I love- pitas, hummus, olives, tomatoes... all are very delicious.  I've also never cooked barley, but the barley in this recipe is the shining star!  It's cooked in chicken broth so it has a warm, but mild flavor, and when combined with all of the other ingredients, its nothing short of fabulous! 

This recipe was a Family Dinner Grand Prize Winner this year on! Woo! 

Greek Chicken and Barley Salad

  • SALAD:
  • 2  (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1/8  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1  teaspoon  olive oil
  • 4  cups  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 1  cup  uncooked pearl barley
  • 2  cups  cubed seeded cucumber
  • 1  cup  grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2  cup  cubed yellow bell pepper
  • 1/3  cup  reduced-fat feta cheese
  • 1/4  cup  chopped pitted kalamata olives

  • 3  tablespoons  extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1  teaspoon  grated lemon rind
  • 2  tablespoons  fresh lemon juice
  • 1  tablespoon  minced fresh basil
  • 1  teaspoon  minced fresh thyme
  • 1  teaspoon  red wine vinegar
  • 1/2  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 3  garlic cloves, minced


1. To prepare salad, sprinkle chicken with 1/8 teaspoon salt. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Add 1 cup broth; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until done. Cool; shred chicken. Discard broth.
2. Bring 3 cups broth to a boil in a large saucepan; add barley. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 35 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork. Cool. Combine chicken, barley, cucumber, and next 4 ingredients (through olives) in a large bowl.
3. To prepare dressing, combine 3 tablespoons oil, rind, and remaining ingredients; stir well. Add to barley mixture; toss well. Cover and chill.
Makes 8 servings (serving size= 1 cup)
Nutrition: 230 calories, 9.8g fat, 18g protein, 18.3g carbohydrate, 3.2g fiber, 38 mg cholesterol

Monday, July 19, 2010

Blueberry-Coconut Macadamia Muffins

I personally really like this picture.  I think it is very pretty, and I'm kinda, semi-proud of myself, considering my lack of photography experience/skills.  I've still got a ways to go, but I'll get there one way or another.  Eventually.

I also personally really liked these muffins.  They are healthy-for-you muffins that don't sacrifice any of the dense, cake-y, blueberry muffin goodness!  

The ingredients are wholesome- whole wheat flour, blueberries, honey, nuts- you definitely don't feel guilty after one... or two... of these! :)

The only thing that needs to be said is... these are naturally sweetened, unlike store-bought versions that have sugar listed as the first ingredient, and therefore I think they definitely need the honey drizzled on the top, like the recipe suggests.  Mmm mmmmm!!

Blueberry-Coconut Macadamia Muffins

  • 1/4 cup coconut
  • 2 tablespoons plus 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup brown sugar, divided
  • 5 tablespoons chopped macadamia nuts, divided
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour (see Source) or whole-wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • 3/4 cup nonfat buttermilk, (see Tip)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut or vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen (not thawed) blueberries

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray.
  2. Combine coconut, 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 2 tablespoons macadamia nuts in a small bowl. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil; stir to combine. Set aside.
  3. Whisk the remaining 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Whisk the remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar, the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, egg, egg white, buttermilk, butter and coconut (or vanilla) extract in a medium bowl until well combined. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients; stir until just combined. Add blueberries and the remaining 3 tablespoons nuts; stir just to combine. Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle with the reserved coconut topping and gently press into the batter.
  4. Bake the muffins until golden brown and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and let cool on a wire rack at least 5 minutes more before serving.

Nutrition:  202 calories (each), 9g fat (3g saturated), 23 mg cholesterol, 28g carbs, 4g protein, 2g fiber, 122 mg sodium, 55 mg potassium

Friday, July 16, 2010

Grilled Salmon with Ginger-Soy Sauce

So I'm not sure what type of salmon is best to buy at the store.  Frozen? Fresh? In fact, the other day when I decided I wanted to make this for dinner, I almost backed out because I've never bought or grilled raw fish before.

Well, I'm SURE that I could have found a more inexpensive way to do it; I decided to buy some fresh fish at Sprouts Farmers' Market; it cost me $27 for only 4 filets!!! Ridiculous? Yes.  I'm not sure why I still bought it after the butcher weighed it and told me the price. It must have been the extremely alluring, just-slaughtered fishy smell that emanated from the round white packet I then held in my hand.  Riiiiight. Ya live and ya learn.

I told myself.. this salmon better be dang good.  And you know what? It was! Not too many difficult steps at all; in fact really all there is to it is just grilling the fish with a little olive oil, then putting some of the ginger-soy butter on top.  Now I don't think I'm gonna go spend a whole t-shirt's worth of money on fish again, but I definitely don't regret this learning experience.  :)

Grilled Salmon with Ginger-Soy Sauce

2 Tbsp. butter, softened
1/2 Tbsp. minced chives
1/2 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
4 salmon filets (4-6 oz. each)
salt and black pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Mix the butter, chives, ginger, lemon juice, and soy sauce.  Set aside. 

Preheat a grill or grill pan.  Season the salmon with salt and pepper and rub with the oil.  Wipe the grill grates clean and rub with a paper towel dipped in oil.  Add the salmon skin side down and cook 4-5 minutes, until skin is lightly charred and crisp.

Flip the fish and cook for another 2-3 minutes on the flesh side, until the flesh flakes with gentle pressure from your finger but is still slightly translucent in the middle. (Unless, if you want yours completely cooked rather than medium, leave it on for another 2-3 minutes)

Serve the salmon with a generous spoonful of the flavored butter, which should begin to melt on contact.

Makes 4 servings

Nutrition: 390 calories, 26g fat (7g saturated), 710mg sodium

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Grilled Cheese with Apples & Bacon

I'm not too creative when it comes to arts and crafts- I was always the little girl who could never create a paper airplane because I could only fold my piece of paper in seemingly obvious patterns, ahem- hamburger & hotdog style! :) nor have my drawing skills ever expanded past the good ole' stick figure.

When it comes to food, however, I won't be too modest- I'm pretty creative.  I know, I'm SO boastful ;)  I'm no picky eater at all, in fact I should probably be more picky.  Of course I always choose good, quality foods, and prefer them, but I have no problem eating many things others might turn their noses at.

Sorry, off topic.  As I was saying, I like creative, odd combinations of foods that trick your taste buds and give you something to think about.  Like instead of plain PB&J, why not throw in some strawberries and bananas, or honey or agave nectar, or nutella or powdered sugar?

Or oatmeal- this is one of my favorite things to experiment with.  So many different combinations can be made: apples, cherries, nuts, dried fruit, cinnamon, maple syrup, cereal, granola, bananas, jam, brown sugar, honey, peanut butter- mix & match em for a scrumptious AM meal.

How about GRILLED CHEESE? A classic American comfort food, it's something I grew up on- grilled cheese served with tomato soup (probably one of the best combinations ever).  But, come on- how about spicing it up a little?!  This recipe is from the book Cook This, Not That.  I don't know, maybe I'm weird but when I saw this recipe I thought it looked delicious.  One of my go-to snacks is apple slices with cheese and crackers.  This just seemed like my fave snack in meal form, plus bacon.  Who can turn down bacon?

The result, in my mind (and mouth) was delicious.  The apples & Dijon mustard add a tart/tangy taste that really complements the sharp cheddar.  Okay so my teenage brothers thought the apple idea was a little strange and ended up taking out the apples, but everyone else liked it.  

Are you willing to give it a try? I dare you. You just might love it.

Grilled Cheese with Apples and Bacon

1 Tbsp butter
8 slices whole-grain bread
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
6 oz. shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (or cheddar cheese slices)
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and sliced
8 strips cooked bacon

Heat the butter in a large skillet or nonstick saute pan over low heat.  Slather 4 slices of bread with the mustard, then divide the cheese, apples, and bacon among them.  (I would suggest starting with a little cheese on the bottom, and some on the top as well). Top with the other bread slices and add to the hot pan.  The key to a great grilled cheese (crispy crust, melted cheese) is patience, so cook these slowly until each side is deep brown and crunchy, about 10-12 minutes total.

Makes 4 servings

Nutrition:  330 calories, 15 g fat (6g saturated), 790mg sodium

Monday, July 12, 2010

Banana Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

I'd like to take credit for this beautiful photo and recipe, but I can't because unfortunately this amazingness was not from me.  Jenny Flake at Picky Palate has come up with way too may sinful concoctions: from chocolate covered peanut butter brownie bites to caramel pumpkin cheesecake cups to cookies and cream banana bread! Like I said, pretty much illegal. And I love it.  Check out her website.

This genius-of-a-cookie was a must try in my book, since banana + peanut butter only equals pure bliss.  Honestly, if you've never tried slathering a banana with crunchy (or creamy) peanut butter, you have not lived.

Add in a cookie, and we're talking I died five minutes ago, and am way too happy in peanut butter-banana heaven.

These cookies are even slightly healthy, or rather I'll say healthiER because there is no butter.  Nope, none!  The mashed banana  acts as a substitute, although with the peanut butter, it gives the dough a slightly sticky texture, but the cookie turns out light, fluffy and incredibly delectable.  

Banana Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
from Picky Palate
½ Cup mashed ripe banana, about 1 medium banana
¼ Cup granulated sugar
¼ Cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 medium egg or ½ of a beaten large egg
¼ Cup creamy peanut butter
¾ Cup whole wheat flour (if you substitute white flour, you’ll have to add more, about 1 Cup)
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
10 regular size Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, cubed (I cut them in thirds, then thirds again)
1/3 cup additional sugar for rolling (I used a larger dusting sugar, use what you’d like)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place banana and both sugars into stand or electric mixer on medium speed and mix until well combined. Mix in vanilla, egg and peanut butter until combined on medium speed.
2. Place flour baking powder, baking soda and salt into a bowl. Slowly add to the wet ingredients until JUST combined, then add the Reeses Cups. Don’t over mix this.
3. Scoop cookie dough using a medium cookie scoop, roll into sugar and place onto a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Using the palm of your hand, gently press down cookies so they are about ½ inch thick, they don’t spread much. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until cooked but still soft. Let cool for 3 minutes on hot cookie sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.
Makes about 20 medium cookies

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Vacation Highs & a Snack Mix to Match!

Alright so I just got back from being in Carlsbad, California for a week-long family vacation... I just have one question:

WHY is it practically IMPOSSIBLE to eat healthy on a vacation?! Please enlighten me.

From the beginning of the vacation, I was dead-set on making good choices throughout the week so that I wouldn't feel gross and, well... just gross.  When we went to the grocery store for food to fill our tiny beach resort fridge, we bought really healthy things- mangoes, oatmeal, grapes, lunchmeat & reduced-fat cheeses, apples, peaches, light yogurts, tomatoes, and light ice cream treats.

Unfortunately, since the sun decided to hide away during our ENTIRE trip (seriously, it was cloudy and cold the whole week and only had one beach day), we found ourselves improvising by finding other things to do in the San Diego area- shopping, movies, zoo, and most importantly, eating out.

We ditched the beach and headed out to find a good place to eat!

I do highly recommend some of these restaurants if you are ever in the Carlsbad/Oceanside area:

1. Cessy's Taco Shop. If you are a fan of Filiberto's (for those in Arizona and California) or simply of any good Mexican food.... you MUST try Cessy's.  It's a five-minute walk from the beach.  Their bean & cheese burrito makes my knees go weak.  SO YUMMY.

2.You've probably already heard of Ruby's, the adorable 1940's diner famous for their shakes and burgers, but it's a whole different experience when you're dining while overlooking the Pacific ocean! The restaurant sits at the very end of the 1,942 foot-long Oceanside Pier.  It was so much fun and the food is great!

There it is!

3.  One of the most talked-about restaurants in Carlsbad is Jay's Gourmet, a small, pizza & pasta kind of place right on the beach.  My family shared a large "Works" pizza.  It was pretty delicious, as was the appetizer garlic bread!

My brother, Tanner, myself, and my sister, Tatum at Jay's

We ate at a lot of other restaurants, too, but these were my favorites.  Basically, my "healthy" eating kind of went out the window when I realized that it wasn't every day that I got to try all of these fun new places. I am home, now, though and WILL get back on track with a normal, healthy diet woo!

Oh P.S. the day before we left, I made a couple of treats to munch on during the drive to California.  This was one of them

I know I shouldn't have made this, as it was as far away from healthy eating as POSSIBLE, but I have wanted to try this snack mix for a long time, and thought this was the perfect opportunity!  It is a recipe from my Aunt Debbie, that I found in a family cookbook.

The only problem was that I couldn't keep my hands out of it! But neither could anyone else :) YUM.

Smash-Hit Snack Mix

4 C. Golden Grahams cereal
4 C. Rice Chex Cereal
2 cups shredded coconut
1 large can mixed nuts

1 c. sugar
1 c. butter
2/3 c. light Karo syrup
dash salt

In a huge bowl, combine cereal, coconut and nuts.  Set aside.  Make the sauce by combining all ingredients in a sauce pan, and bringing it to a boil for 3- 3 1/2 minutes.  Immediately pour sauce over cereal mix and stir well.  Spread onto a Jelly Roll Pan and let set, then watch it disappear!
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