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Apple Tahini Toast

Eating breakfast is a common resolution people make when trying to eat healthier. For most of us, it is a good idea. Skipping breakfast can lead to overeating later in the day as we get overly hungry. It helps wake us up and give us energy we need for the day to get going.

The big problem most people have is having time. This Mediterranean diet inspired breakfast is super fast but still delicious. Tahini is a paste made out of sesame seeds (think peanut butter to peanuts). It’s really delicious and is a major ingredient in hummus. Try it and you will be surprised at how good it is. If you can’t find it, you could substitute your favorite nut butter here.

Enjoy!

Apple Tahini Toast (Serves 1, easy to make more)

Apple Tahini Toast

1 slice whole wheat bread or 1 whole wheat English muffin
1 ½ tablespoons tahini
½ apple, sliced
1 teaspoon honey

1. Lightly toast bread or English muffin.
2. Spread tahini over bread. Top with apple slices.
3. Drizzle with honey. Enjoy!

Nutritional Information: (toast)

Calories: 278
Protein: 8 g
Fat: 13 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 36 g
Fiber: 6 g
Sodium: 168 mg

Nutritional Information: (muffin)

Calories: 337
Protein: 10 g
Fat: 14 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 50 g
Fiber: 9 g
Sodium: 269 mg

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Hummus Pasta

Today is a quick post about a quick, delicious lunch I discovered last week. I was looking at a fridge full of random leftovers and needed something new to eat. I gave this random idea a try, after some googling to make sure I wasn’t insane, and it was crazy good. And it got tons of veggies in me, which always makes me happy at lunch.

Hummus may sound like an odd “sauce” for pasta, but it works really well. It gives flavor and creaminess with no added work. This is more of an idea recipe than exact instructions. And as the idea was for lunch, I’m giving a single serving. Feel free to scale up each portion for more people.

Please pardon the slightly blurry picture. Apparently I was in a hurry to eat!

Hummus Pasta

Hummus Pasta

1 ½ cups chopped vegetables (broccoli, sugar snap peas, cauliflower, grated carrots, zucchini, etc)
1 cup tortellini pasta
2 tablespoons hummus (I used roasted red pepper, but use whatever flavor you like)
2-3 ounces shredded meat, optional
handful of cherry/grape tomatoes
2 tablespoons feta cheese

1. Boil water in a medium saucepan. Add vegetables and cook for 3-5 minutes or until basically as tender as you want them.

2. Add in pasta and meat. Cook according to pasta package directions.

3. Drain, reserving a little of the cooking water. Mix hummus into pasta and vegetables. Add cooking water a teaspoon at a time as needed to thin the hummus to coat everything. Top with tomatoes and cheese. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes: Use whatever vegetables you have on hand. A frozen blend would work well here as well. Just make sure it isn’t something that will cook for a long time, like big hunks of carrots. You could also use regular pasta, rather than tortellini. I’d just put the noodles in at the same time as the vegetables then. You want everything to finish cooking at about the same time.

Source: original recipe

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Easy Meatballs

Sometimes, certain food really speaks to you. Maybe you had a craving and when you eat that food, it hits that spot just right. Or maybe you just make a meal that tastes extra delicious that day. It doesn’t have to be something special or fancy.

These meatballs were that meal for me. I felt like a complete master chef. For some reason, my last several attempts at meatballs have failed. These were easy and delicious, which is a huge win. Make these soon and have a great dinner soon.

Easy Meatballs (Serves 6-8)

Easy Meatballs

1 pound ground lean turkey (93/7)
½ cup panko bread crumbs
⅓ cup water
½ cup packed shredded spinach leaves or 1 cup loose
2 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
2 ounces finely chopped provolone cheese
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 large eggs
2 garlic cloves, minced

Sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch red pepper flakes
2 (14 ounce) cans no salt added diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
¼ teaspoon salt

1. Place meat, breadcrumbs, water, spinach, parsley, provolone, pepper, eggs, and garlic in a large bowl. Mix together with a fork, spoon, or your fingers.

2. Using a scoop or spoons, form into 1 ½ – 2 tablespoon meatballs. Set in the fridge or freezer while you make the sauce to help set the shape.

3. In a large pot or pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic; saute 3-5 minutes until onion is tender and golden. Stir frequently so garlic doesn’t burn. Add red pepper; saute 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and salt. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low (or as low as you can to maintain a simmer) and cook for 15-20 minutes, until slightly thickened. Stir occasionally while cooking.

4. Gently add meatballs one by one to the sauce. Cover with a lid. Cook for another 20-25 minutes at a simmer. Do not stir. After about 20 minute, you can flip the meatballs if you want. Serve.

Optional: (requires additional provolone cheese)

Place meatballs and sauce in oven safe dish (if not already in one). Turn on broiler. Place slices of provolone cheese over the top. Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 248
Protein: 21 g
Fat: 13 g
Saturated Fat: 4 g
Cholesterol: 124 mg
Carbohydrates: 12 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sodium: 333 mg

Recipe notes: You could use any ground meat, just go for lean. I mostly changed up the sauce recipe. I can’t leave a sauce alone. I like lots of seasoning. I also usually put in diced or shredded carrot in the sauce, because I like to sneak vegetables into my daughter’s diet whenever possible. These are great with spaghetti, though I prefer slightly smaller meatballs with spaghetti. With the optional step, I like to serve this with crusty garlic bread. So yummy. For scooping, I use my cookie scoop to keep the meatballs all the same size.

Source: adapted from Smitten Kitchen

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Zucchini and Garlic Pasta

Do you remember the first real meal you tried to cook all alone? I mean something homemade, a full dinner. I do. It was the summer after my freshman year of college. My parents had left me home alone for several days and were returning on Sunday afternoon. I decided I would make a nice, Sunday dinner. As I was preparing it, my aunt called that she and her husband happened to be in town and would be coming by, too. Thankfully, I had bought a lot of food.

At the time, I loved Rachael Ray, so I found some recipes from one of her cookbooks – chicken breasts with goodness rolled up inside and pasta with zucchini. My mom ended up helping a bit when she came home, mostly because I didn’t pound the chicken thin enough, so it took about 5 years to cook. But the food was good, and everyone was impressed at what I had accomplished on my own.

Since that day, I’ve obviously tackled a lot of recipes. I’ve honestly never tried that chicken again, but the pasta has stuck with me all these years. I love how simple it is but still has great flavors. It was also one of the first times I enjoyed zucchini. It is great for a quick summer dinner, and also works well as a side dish along some grilled chicken or fish. Enjoy!

Zucchini and Garlic Pasta (Serves 4 as a main dish, 6-8 as a side)

Zucchini and Garlic Pasta

12-16 ounces whole wheat spaghetti (see notes)
2 zucchini
½ tablespoon olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup parmesan cheese

1. Boil a large pot of water. Cook pasta according to package directions, without adding salt or oil.

2. While pasta cooks, grate zucchini on the large holes of a box grater onto a pile of paper towels. Squeeze out excess water with paper towels.

3. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Once hot, add garlic and grated zucchini. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until zucchini begins to soften and is heated completely through.

4. Drain pasta (reserving some cooking liquid) and add to skillet with zucchini. Toss together. If pasta is dry, add pasta cooking water ¼ cup at a time until it reaches desired consistency. Toss with parmesan cheese and serve.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving as a main dish):

Calories: 401
Protein: 18 g
Fat: 5 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 6 mg
Carbohydrates: 77 g
Fiber: 10 g
Sodium: 134 mg

Recipe Notes: I always find whole wheat pasta in 13.25 ounce packages. Use whatever size package you can find. Any type of long, thin pasta works. I’ve done spaghetti, linguine, and fettucine. This isn’t a “saucy” pasta dish. But since we don’t have a lot of cooking oil, there isn’t much to coat the pasta, especially if you are ambitious at wringing out your zucchini. Just add a little water if some of the noodles look too dry.

Source: Adapted from Rachael Ray

Low Iodine Adjustment: Omit parmesan.

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Quick, Chewy Breadsticks

I have a cookbook of recipes my mom collected over the years, which includes a recipe for “chewy breadsticks”.  I was hosting a spaghetti dinner party once, and my mom suggested I make those.  I don’t know if I did something wrong, but the end result was definitely chewy, borderline like eating cardboard. They didn’t have any of the fluffy, bready goodness we associate with breadsticks, most likely thanks to pizza delivery places and Olive Garden.  It was a disaster

These breadsticks are a much better balance.  They are not the airy, fluffy breadsticks many of us are accustomed to eating.  They definitely are slightly crispy and chewy, but they still are soft enough to soak up any delicious saucy remains on your plate after a pasta meal.  And even better, they are really quick to make.  You can make these in the same amount of time it takes to whip up a quick pizza or pasta dinner at home.  No planning ahead for hours of rising time.  Hooray!

Enjoy!

Quick, Chewy Breadsticks (Makes about 16 breadsticks)

IMG_5510label

1 ½ cups warm water (about 110 degrees F)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
3 ½ – 4 cups white whole wheat flour
¼ cup olive oil
½ – 1 teaspoon garlic powder, per taste preference
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine water, sugar, yeast, olive oil, and salt. Gradually mix in flour until a soft dough forms. Let dough rest and raise for 10 minutes.

2. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a large rectangle/square, about 16×16 inches. (See note below). Lightly brush dough with olive oil. You may not need all of it. Sprinkle with garlic powder and parmesan cheese.

3. Cut dough into 1 inch strips. Fold each strip in half (making the strip shorter, not skinnier). Gently twist each strip a few times to make it look pretty. Place on a baking sheet lightly coated with cooking spray. Let raise for 15-20 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 400. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Nutritional Information (Amount per breadstick):

Calories: 155
Protein: 5 g
Fat: 5 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 1 mg
Carbohydrates: 24 g
Fiber: 3 g
Sodium: 102 mg

Recipe notes: I frequently cut this recipe in half with great results. You can use as much whole wheat flour as you want. I’ve done all whole wheat and half. Both taste good. I definitely let this be a softer dough than if I’m making loaves of bread. You can always knead in a little extra flour when you are rolling it out. My dough is usually a little more of a rectangle shape.  I like to get as many breadsticks as I can out of this.  To compensate, I kind of stretch the breadsticks as I twist to make them a little longer.  Go easy on the olive oil. A little really can go a long way. At most you will use ¼ cup, but you could probably get away with only 2 tablespoons. We like garlicky bread, so I generously sprinkle the garlic powder. It can be a little strong, so be warned.

Source: adapted from Let’s Dish Recipes

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