Category Archives: Healthy Eating

Apricot-Honey Granola

This golden granola reminds me of summertime! The combination of chopped and chunky dried apricots and golden raisins taste great together. Apricot-Honey Granola has a lot of other good things that I often add to my homemade granolas: sunflower kernels, coconut flakes, wheat germ or flaxseed, and chopped nuts. It’s sweetened mostly with honey and a bit of brown sugar. You can serve it as a cereal with milk, in yogurt parfaits, or just as it is, for a snack.

APRICOT-HONEY GRANOLA by NancyC

Makes about 12 cups

  • 6 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 1/4 cups hulled, raw sunflower kernels (if using roasted, add them in after baking)
  • 1 1/4 cups sweetened or unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ or ground flaxseed
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup light olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 2 cups chopped dried apricots

Preheat oven to 325˚F. Line two 10×15″ rimmed cookie sheets or one 13×18″ rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In large bowl, toss the oats, sunflower kernels, coconut flakes, wheat germ or flaxseed, and chopped pecans; set aside.

In small microwaveable bowl, heat honey for 20 to 30 seconds to make the consistency thinner. Then, in medium size bowl, blend honey, brown sugar, olive oil, and salt, blending everything well.

Pour the honey mixture over the oat mixture and toss until the oat mixture is well-coated.

Spread this mixture onto the prepared baking sheet(s) and bake at 325˚F for 20 minutes; remove pan from oven to stir and  toss the mixture (for even baking). Return to oven and bake an additional 15 minutes, until granola is golden.

Remove from oven and add the golden raisins and chopped dried apricots to the mixture on the pan; toss to combine everything well. Let mixture cool completely on pan (the mixture will get crunchier as it cools), then store in a tightly-sealed container for 2 to 3 weeks.

When I make granola in the summer, I usually do it early in the morning, when it’s still cool. I try to avoid using the oven later in the day because my place gets so hot! But it’s worth making this yummy granola, even if you do have to get up extra early to do it! 🙂 Have you made any granola lately? What do you like to add to yours?

Sharing at Fiesta Friday, Weekend Potluck, Meal Plan Monday, Create with Joy.

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10 Tips: Picking a Ripe Watermelon and Serving Ideas

Have you been enjoying watermelon this summer? It tastes especially good on really, really hot days–like the ones we’ve been having the past few weeks! And it’s good for you, too–I read that it’s high in vitamins A, B6, and C, and it’s also a good source of lycopene, which is good for your heart. And, since a watermelon has over 90% water, it helps keep you hydrated on hot days!

I’ve always managed to pick good watermelons–I don’t remember ever buying a bad watermelon. It doesn’t hurt to know a few helpful tips when you’re choosing one, so you might find these helpful the next time you buy a watermelon!

  1. You may find the best selection at your local farmer’s market, since watermelons sold at grocery stores are often picked before they are fully ripened–once a watermelon is picked from the vine, it usually doesn’t ripen that much more.
  2. Look for a watermelon that has a uniform, symmetrical shape, smooth texture, and free of bumps, dents, and bruises–lumps mean the melon didn’t have a regular amount of sunshine or water while growing.
  3. Look at the skin of the watermelon-it should have definite dark and light green strips and should be dull rather than shiny–shiny means it’s not ripe (some grocery stores sell melons with skins that have been waxed, so this tip may not help in that case).
  4. Check the bottom of the watermelon (also called the “field spot” or “belly”)–you’ll want to see a creamy, buttery yellow color there–that means it’s ripe (you don’t want to see a white or light green bottom).
  5. A ripe watermelon should feel heavy for its size–pick up some watermelons that are the same size and compare their weight–the heaviest one is the ripest.
  6. If you tap the watermelon and it sounds hollow, that means it’s ripe. If it sounds dull, that means it’s under-ripe or over-ripe.
  7. A cut watermelon can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for 3 to 5 days.
  8. You can freeze watermelon chunks to use in smoothies (you won’t want to freeze watermelon for eating, though–the texture gets soft when thawed).
  9. You can freeze watermelon juice in ice cube trays to add to lemonade, ice tea, or punch.
  10. Make watermelon skewers by pairing watermelon chunks or balls with any combination of the following: large blackberries, strawberries, honeydew or cantaloupe chunks or balls, mango chunks, pineapple chunks, cucumber slices, banana slices, feta cheese chunks, pitted black olives, cherry tomatoes.

Have you used any of these tips yourself? Do you have any other watermelon tips of your own?

Sharing at Inspire Me Monday.

Watermelon-Mint-Lime Water

When hot weather comes around, I usually crave watermelon. It’s so refreshing and it’s good for you too. And I discovered that watermelon is also great for making flavored water! Combining chunks of juicy watermelon with fresh mint and tart limes makes a great-tasting summery drink! You just have to plan ahead a little, since you need to chill the mixture for 1 to 2 hours before drinking.

I buy watermelon regularly throughout the summer and I grow my own mint in a large pot, so I had everything I needed to make this except for the limes. You can make it without limes, but I like the refreshing zing they add to the mix!

WATERMELON-MINT-LIME WATER by NancyC

Makes 1 large pitcher

  • 3 cups cubed watermelon chunks (cut in 1/2″ size cubes)
  • 4 sprigs of mint (a sprig is a stem with 6 to 8 leaves), lightly crushed or rubbed (to release flavor and scent)
  • 2 limes, thinly sliced (use organic limes or wash limes very well!)
  • 7 to 8 cups of water
  • 2 to 3 cups of ice

Add cubed watermelon, mint sprigs, and sliced limes to pitcher, then add water and ice. Chill for 1 to 2 hours to infuse flavors, then serve, pouring into ice-filled glasses. Tastes best the day it’s made.

It definitely does taste best the day it’s made, but you can finish drinking this flavored water up by the second day if you have any left over. It really is refreshing and more fun to drink than plain water! What do you like to add to your water?

Sharing at Inspire Me Monday, Meal Plan Monday, Weekend Potluck.

Salad Burger

Just about everyone loves a good burger! I thought I’d try a making a healthier burger after I received some samples from Hilary’s. Their products are made with minimally processed ingredients and are free from common allergens. They sent me their Worlds Best Veggie Burger and Curry Veggie Burger, and I really liked them both. You can actually see bits of the fresh veggies these are made with, which make them seem even healthier than your average veggie burger. Hilary’s also sent me a few salad dressings to try: Spicy Island Dressing, a creamy,  tangy, slightly spicy take on Thousand Island dressing, and Beet Vinaigrette, a slightly sweet vinaigrette with some balsamic vinegar mixed in. Both flavors were very good and low on calories–30 per serving for the Spicy Island and 50 per serving for the Beet Vinaigrette.

I created this Salad Burger using the Curry Veggie Burger and Spicy Island Dressing, along with items I like to put in salads–cucumber, tomato, onion, banana pepper, black olives, and avocado. If you’re not into veggie burgers, you can use a beef burger cooked your favorite way–the toppings go great with beef, too! It’s a reeeaaallly good burger, so I hope you get a chance to try it this soon!

SALAD BURGER

Makes 1 burger (for larger servings, multiply the ingredients by the number of burgers you want to make)

  • your favorite cooked hamburger patty (you can use a veggie or beef burger-I used Hilary’s Curry Veggie Burger)
  • 1 whole wheat roll or hamburger bun
  • 3 to 4 thin slices of cucumber
  • 3 to 4 slices of banana pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons of mashed avocado
  • 1 Tablespoon sliced black olives
  • Romain lettuce or your favorite lettuce/salad mix
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons creamy salad dressing, like a Thousand Island or Ranch flavor (I used Hilary’s Spicy Island Dressing)
  • slice of tomato
  • slice of yellow or red onion

Put the top and bottom of a hamburger bun face up on a plate, or slice a large roll in half and place both sides face up on a plate.

Place your cooked burger on the bottom bun. Top burger patty with cucumber slices, banana pepper slices, sliced black olives, and mashed avocado.

On the top bun, spread the creamy salad dressing, then place a slice of tomato and slice of onion on top of the dressing.

Carefully put the bottom and top buns together and serve.

These burger toppings taste great together and you don’t need to use any ketchup or mustard–there’s plenty of toppings and flavor without those. It’s a great burger and very filling–perfect if you’re craving something really good and on the healthy side! Do you like veggie burgers or do you prefer beef?

Sharing at Weekend Potluck, Meal Plan Monday, Fiesta Friday.

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Sheet Pan Roasted Vegetables

I eat raw veggies with dip every once in a while, but my favorite way to eat veggies is when they’re roasted. I just love them that way! They’re so easy to make–just cube or chop the veggies into bite-sized pieces, coat with an olive oil/balsamic vinegar/herb mixture, spread them out on a large sheet pan, and roast in your oven. I like using a variety of veggies–if you don’t like a particular veggie in this recipe, you can always substitute a different one. So this recipe is versatile as well as easy! If you’re growing a vegetable garden, this is a great way to use those home-grown veggies!

SHEET PAN ROASTED VEGETABLES by NancyC

Makes a large 13×18″ pan (about 8 servings)

  • 2 medium size potatoes, cubed (about 3 1/2 to 4 cups)
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small zucchini (slice 1/2-inch thick and cut slices in half)
  • 1 small yellow squash (slice 1/2-inch thick and cut slices in half)
  • 2 large carrots, sliced 1/2-inch thick (about 2 to 2 1/2 cups)
  • 2 medium size yellow or red onions (or 1 of each), quartered, with pieces separated
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil (use 1/3 cup for a lighter coating of oil or 1/2 cup for a generous coating)
  • 3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450˚F. Line a 13×18″ sheet pan with foil or parchment paper; set aside.

Chop vegetables as indicated and put in a very large bowl.

In a small bowl, mix rosemary, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour this mixture over the vegetables in the large bowl and stir until all the vegetables are coated.

Spread the vegetables evenly on the sheet pan and roast in the oven at 450˚F for 40 minutes, stirring after 20 minutes, until veggies are tender. Season with additional salt and/or pepper, if desired, and serve.

These veggies are so good, it’s hard to stop eating them. At least they’re healthy though, so if you eat a big helping you don’t have to feel quite so guilty! Are you a fan of roasted vegetables too or do you like eating your veggies another way?

Sharing this at Fiesta Friday, Meal Plan Monday, Weekend Potluck, Inspire Me Monday.

Mocha Banana Pecan Overnight Oats

I’ve noticed lots and lots of recipes for overnight oats in the last few years and have been wanting to try making some. I finally got around to doing that after receiving some complimentary breakfast coffees from Community Coffee. They sent me one of their new products, Amber Sunrise Blend, along with their tried-and-true Breakfast Blend.

Amber Sunrise Blend has a smooth, bright, pleasant flavor and smells wonderful as you’re brewing it. As one of my friends said, “It’s a coffee you want to wake up to.” The light roast Breakfast Blend also has a nice smooth, mild flavor–a great coffee to start your day with.

So what do overnight oats and coffee have in common? Well, I came across an overnight oats recipe on the blog at the Community Coffee site that includes coffee as one of the ingredients–along with oats, cocoa powder, banana slices, and other yummy ingredients. I made a few tweaks to the recipe and added some chopped dark chocolate on top. It’s a special mocha-flavored treat for breakfast–or you can have it later in the day as a healthy snack!

MOCHA BANANA PECAN OVERNIGHT OATS by NancyC, adapted from Community Coffee

Makes 1 serving

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup vanilla Greek yogurt (or substitute the same amount of milk)
  • 1/4 cup strong brewed Community Coffee (I used the Amber Sunrise blend)
  • 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 banana, sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped pecans (toasted or untoasted)
  • 1/2 Tablespoon chopped dark chocolate (72% Cacao works well in this)

In small jar or bowl with tight-fitting lid, combine oats, yogurt or milk, coffee, honey, cocoa powder, vanilla, and cinnamon. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Top with banana, chopped pecans, and chopped dark chocolate just before serving.

I used 72% Cacao dark chocolate when I made these overnight oats–it gives the oats a good rich cocoa flavor without making it too sweet. I can see now why overnight oats are such a popular breakfast item–they’re so easy and convenient to make! Have you tried making overnight oats yet?

Sharing at Fiesta Friday, Meal Plan Monday, Inspire Me Monday, Weekend Potluck.

Red Beet Hummus

Beets were never on my list of favorite foods as a kid, but I’ve grown to like them. And I especially like that they are so healthy and good for you. I make recipes with beets every so often–probably not as often as I should–and I had the perfect opportunity to make a beet recipe when I received a complimentary package of Gefen’s Vacuum-Packed Beets, which are organic and also pre-peeled, making them very handy and convenient to use.

These beets work great in everything from salads to smoothies. I decided to make Red Beet Hummus. I love trying different hummus recipes and hadn’t tried one with beets yet. I really like this hummus! It doesn’t have a super-strong beet flavor, since it just has about 1 medium-size beet in it. I think the mild beet flavor goes nicely with the other hummus ingredients, and adding beet to the mix makes this hummus so healthy! If you don’t happen to have any Gefen’s beets on hand, you can use precooked beets or roasted beets instead.

RED BEET HUMMUS by NancyC

  • 1 (15-ounce) can of Garbanzo Beans (also called chickpeas)
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped, cooked (or roasted), peeled red beet (about 1 medium size beet)
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1 clove minced garlic (you can use 2 cloves if you want a stronger garlic flavor)
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • pinch of sea salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • pinch of paprika

Add garbanzo beans, chopped beet, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil in a blender or food processor. Puree until mixture is smooth. Add sea salt, pepper, and paprika and blend everything together. Add more seasoning to taste if desired. Serve with crackers or veggies or use as a spread on bread or bagels.

I’ve learned that beets are a great source of of vitamin C, iron, fiber, and essential minerals. I really need to get more beets in my diet! Do you make any dishes with beets?

Sharing at Fiesta Friday, Meal Plan Monday, Weekend Potluck, Inspire Me Monday.

Yogurt with Mixed Berries, Walnuts, and Dark Chocolate

This is such an easy and healthy recipe for breakfast, a snack, or dessert! it’s from a new book called The SirtFood Diet. Before I received my review copy, I had never heart of “Sirtfoods.” In a nutshell, what I read in this book was that polyphenol nutrients from certain plants are good for us. And plants that have “noteworthy amounts” of sirtuin-activating polyphenols are called “Sirtfoods.” I know this sounds pretty technical, but the book gives a good explanation about all this. It also provides information about the top 20 Sirtfoods, along with other foods that are beneficial. I found that I actually like a lot of these foods, which include Arugula, Garlic, Green Tea, and even Cocoa!

This book explains that Sirtfoods, rich in special nutrients that help activate the same “skinny genes” in our bodies that fasting triggers, can help in effective weight loss–and so the Sirtfood Diet was created by nutritionists Aidan Goggins and Glen Matten. I haven’t tried the diet, so I can’t endorse it, but I’m sharing what the book says about it. The diet includes a plan for losing 7 pounds in seven days, along with keeping the weight off. There’s a recipe section that includes a good variety of healthy dishes–some even include chicken and beef. The authors also recommend having a good juicer to get the most benefits from this diet.

After looking through the recipe section, I decided to try this yogurt recipe because I loved all the ingredients and it was so simple to make. Simple as it is though, I actually made this recipe the wrong way! I put the berries over the yogurt instead of the yogurt over the berries! it does work better to put the yogurt over the berries as the recipe says, so be sure to layer the ingredients right! Even though I made this wrong, it does look pretty, doesn’t it? 🙂

YOGURT WITH MIXED BERRIES, CHOPPED WALNUTS, AND DARK CHOCOLATE from the SirtFood Diet

Makes 1 serving

  • 1 1/3 cups mixed berries (I used some organic fresh strawberries and frozen blueberries)
  • 2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt (or vegan alternative, such as soy or coconut yogurt)
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons dark chocolate (85 percent cocoa solids), grated

Add the mixed berries to a bowl and top with the yogurt. Sprinkle with the walnuts and chocolate.

That’s all there is to it! I’m so glad dark chocolate is good for you, even if it’s the 85% cocoa solid kind; I actually like the really, really dark chocolate better than the sweeter varieties.

Are you a healthy eater and have you heart of Sirtfoods?

Sharing at Fiesta Friday, Meal Plan Monday, Weekend Potluck, Inspire Me Monday, Full Plate Thursday.

Cinnamon-Glazed Carrots

I’ve never been very crazy about raw carrots. But I do like them cooked or roasted. So when I found this recipe for Cinnamon-Glazed Carrots in my review copy of No Excuses Detox, I knew I wanted to make them! As the subtitle says, this book includes 100 recipes to help you eat healthy every day.

Written by Megan Gilmore, No Excuses Detox features recipes that are quick and easy, affordable, and yummy–not the kind of recipes you’d expect to find in a “detox” cookbook. In fact, I was surprised that there are recipes for lots of comfort food-type foods with a healthy twist–like Butternut Mac n’ Cheese, Skillet Breakfast Hash, Speedy Black Bean Burgers, and even Carrot Cake Cupcakes. Lots of great recipes to choose from! But the Cinnamon-Glazed Carrots recipe was calling my name and I had just bought some organic rainbow carrots at Whole Foods, so it was the perfect time for me to try this out.

I used large carrots when I made this, but you can slice your carrots or use baby carrots and if you do, your cooking time will only be about 10 minutes. Since I used large carrots I had to cook mine a little longer. So here’s the recipe–it’s a great way to eat your carrots!

CINNAMON-GLAZED CARROTS from No Excuses Detox

The addition of cinnamon and naturally sweet maple syrup makes these carrots taste like dessert, plus they can be ready in just 15 minutes!–Megan Gilmore

Makes 4 servings

  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 pound baby carrots, sliced carrot coins, or halved large carrots
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of fine sea salt

In a Dutch oven, melt the coconut oil over medium heat and saute the carrots for 2 minutes. Add the water, which should start bubbling right away, and lower the heat to a simmer. Partially cover the pot and cook the carrots for about 10 minutes, until fork-tender (note: since I used larger carrots, my cooking time was more like 15 to 18 minutes). Check the pot periodically to make sure the water doesn’t completely evaporate so the carrots don’t burn.

Once the carrots are tender, raise the heat to cook off any excess water, then stir in the maple syrup, cinnamon, and salt (adjust seasonings to taste). Serve warm. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

There are other recipes I want to try in this book. It’s always nice when you can make great-tasting food that’s good for you, too. Do you have some favorite healthy recipes of your own?

Sharing this at Fiesta Friday, Meal Plan Monday, Weekend Potluck, Inspire Me Monday, Full Plate Thursday.

Creamy Navy Bean Soup

Creamy Navy Bean Soup @ NancyCRosemary is one of my favorite herbs. Unfortunately, my big outdoor rosemary plant did not make it through the winter, so I have a new small one growing inside right now. I’ll put it outside soon, hoping it will grow into another big plant! I used some of the rosemary from this little plant in this Creamy Navy Bean Soup recipe.

I made this soup several weeks ago on a chilly day. Even though the weather has warmed up, this is still a great recipe for any time of year if you are a soup-lover! Creamy soups usually call for heavy cream as an ingredient, but I used plain Greek yogurt in this soup–I thought the tangy yogurt would give the soup a nice flavor, and it really did! The rosemary gives it a great flavor, too. You’ll want to use fresh rosemary if you have it, but dried rosemary also works.

CREAMY NAVY BEAN SOUP by NancyC

Makes about four servings

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary or 1/2 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • dash of salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion (about 1 large)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 (15.5-ounce) cans Navy Beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • Additional fresh or dried rosemary for garnish

In a  4-quart saucepan over medium-low heat, add olive oil and heat for 1-2 minutes, then add garlic, rosemary, salt, pepper, and onions; cook until onions start to get tender and a little translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add in the broth and beans, heat to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let soup cool for 5 to 10 minutes.

Place half of the soup mixture in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Pour this mixture into a large bowl, then blend the remaining soup mixture and add to the large bowl.

Stir the plain Greek yogurt into the pureed soup mixture, blending well (if the yogurt is lumpy, use a hand better or immersion blender to smooth the mixture). Pour the soup mixture back into the saucepan and cook on medium heat for 5 additional minutes.

Pour into 4 serving bowls and top with a garnish of fresh or dried rosemary, if desired, and serve.

In addition to rosemary, I also like to grow basil in a pot every summer–that’s another favorite herb of mine. Do you grow your own herbs, too, and what are your favorites?

Sharing this recipe at Fiesta Friday. Weekend Potluck, Full Plate Thursday, Meal Plan Monday, Inspire Me Monday.