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Mashed Potatoes – a showdown with a nemesis

Back when my husband and I were first married, we basically stopped eating regular potatoes. Our apartment had a VERY warm kitchen, where they always seemed to rot. And sweet potatoes were less expensive at our local produce market. We made the switch and didn’t look back for several years.

In the past three years, I’ve started moving back into the realm of regular potatoes more. My kids really like them. I have run across a problem though – mashed potatoes. They seem to be my nemesis. The only way I could make edible mashed potatoes was turn off my dietitian brain and add so much salt, butter, sour cream, cheese, etc. They were delicious, but I knew I needed a compromise.

I found this recipe and LOVED it. I will say, I don’t know that they are a good stand in for ALL uses of mashed potatoes. For a holiday dinner, I would still go for regular and just turn off my dietitian brain. It’s the holidays. It’s ok. But for a regular weeknight, these are quick and delicious!

Mashed Potatoes with Turnips and Apples (Serves 4)

Mashed Potatoes with Turnips and Apple

2-3 large turnips, chopped (1½ cups)
1 large yukon gold potato, chopped
1 fuji apple, chopped
1 bay leaf
¼ cup light sour cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper

1. Place turnips, potato, apple, and bay leaf in a medium saucepan; cover with water to 2 inches above vegetable mixture. Bring to a boil; cook 10 minutes or until tender. Drain. Discard bay leaf.

2. Return vegetable mixture to pan. Add remaining ingredients; mash to desired consistency.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories:
Protein:
Fat:
Saturated Fat:
Cholesterol:
Carbohydrates:
Fiber:
Sodium:

Recipe notes: I have subbed russet potatoes here, although I did peel it then. I’ve also subbed gala and red delicious apples. All worked fine. If you are concerned, you can flip the turnip to potato ratio and gradually play with the amounts over time to find the taste that best suits your family. I’ll post the recipe that includes the gravy pictures soon!

Source: Cooking Light

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It’s Autumntime!

It’s autumn or fall or that beautiful period where the weather is generally delightful between the heat of summer and the frost of winter. Leaves are changing colors. It’s my favorite season.

However, I feel like the world gets overtaken by pumpkin EVERYTHING. There are lots of great fall flavors besides pumpkin. Here are just some of the fruits and vegetables in season right now:

Acorn Squash
Broccoli
Brussels Sprouts
Butter Lettuce
Butternut Squash
Cauliflower
Cranberries
Delicata Squash
Endive
Garlic
Ginger
Grapes
Jalapeños
Mushrooms
Pears
Pineapples
Pomegranate
Radicchio
Sweet Potato
Swiss Chard
Turnips

Here are some of my favorite fall recipes:

Spaghetti with Greens and Garlic
Apple Pancakes
Southwestern Shepherd’s Pie
Spaghetti Squash with Marinara
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos
Pumpkin Dinner
Roasted Cauliflower Soup
Sweet Potato Pancakes
White Chicken Chili
Veggie Sweet Potato Chili

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Basque Pork Pasta

Summer officially ends tomorrow. It’s still pretty warm at my house, and my garden is still going crazy. Tomatoes out my ears. In a good way.

However, I was looking for a dinner that had tomatoes, but didn’t scream “trying to get rid of a counter full of tomatoes”. Enter this pasta dish. It was perfect for a warm late summer/early fall evening with lots of bright flavors. Enjoy!

Basque Pork Pasta (Serves 4-6)

Basque Pork Pasta

2 pork loin chops, cut into bite size pieces
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon Italian seasoning
½ cup parmesan
1 head broccoli, chopped into florets
8 ounces whole wheat spaghetti
8 ounces vegetable spaghetti
1 lemon, zested
juice of 1 lemon
2 tomatoes, diced

1. In a large pot of boiling water, cook pasta according to package directions, without oil or salt. Add broccoli for last 3 minutes of cooking. Drain well.

2. Meanwhile, heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork, garlic, italian seasoning, and lemon zest. Cook 7-10 minutes, or until pork is cooked through. Deglaze pan with lemon juice.

3. Add pork mixture to pasta and broccoli. Toss with parmesan and tomatoes.

Nutrient Analysis (Amount per serving):

Calories: 748
Protein: 44 gm
Fat: 23 gm
Saturated Fat: 8 gm
Cholesterol: 88 mg
Carbohydrates: 67 gm
Fiber: 10 gm
Sodium: 227 mg

Recipe notes: If you can’t find a vegetable spaghetti, you could use all whole wheat. My mom made a similar dish to this growing up and always used spinach linguine.

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Chocolate Raspberry Smoothie

Who has eaten dessert for breakfast? Cake, cookies, pie? I certainly have. Apple crisp is my personal favorite, because it is the easiest to “justify” – it’s just fruit with “granola” on top, right. We’ve all been there (I think). It reminds me of this Bill Cosby skit about chocolate cake.

Well, this smoothie is as close to a healthy dessert as I’ve found for breakfast. It is my new go-to. With the end of summer heat sticking around, I find myself wanting something cold after my morning workouts. This is good for you and SUPER delicious. I really feel like I’m drinking a milkshake. Enjoy!

(Sorry for my continued lack of pictures. Life and my desire to eat seem to be getting the better of me lately.)

Chocolate Raspberry Smoothie (Serves 2)

3 pitted dates
1 cup skim milk
½ cup raspberries, chilled/frzoen
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 cup vanilla fat free greek yogurt
1 banana, sliced, chilled/frozen
1 cup ice (preferably crushed)

1. Place fruit in freezer for at least 30 minutes or overnight. Can use fresh raspberries that you chill/freeze or storebought frozen raspberries.

2. Soak dates in hot water (enough to cover the dates) for 5-10 minutes. Drain water.

3. Blend dates and milk until dates are broken up. Add in remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 312
Protein: 17 gm
Fat: 2 gm
Saturated Fat: 1 gm
Cholesterol: 6 mg
Carbohydrates: 67 gm
Fiber: 10 gm
Sodium: 90 mg

Recipe notes: I have had success making this without the soaked dates as well. I sub in a a teaspoon or two of honey for sweetener. That brings down the fiber quite a bit. Just for mornings when I forget to soak some dates.

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Peanut Butter Quinoa

Shortly after my husband and I got married, we put together a picnic dinner. I was so excited to make a delicious quinoa salad. We started eating, and I noticed my husband wasn’t eating any of my salad. I asked him, and he said he doesn’t care for salads like that. I had just bought a big package of quinoa, and I needed a new way to fix it. I found lots of recipes for casseroles or soups, but not many regular side dishes.

So, I finally took a salad recipe to make this side dish. And it turned out great. This is great with fish or chicken. Or stir in some chicken and make a meal out of it. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Quinoa (Serves 6-8)

Peanut Butter Quinoa

1 cup uncooked quinoa or 2 cups cooked quinoa
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 rib celery, sliced thin
2 carrots, sliced thin
½ medium onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
¼ cup peanut butter
3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
dash sriracha
½ teaspoon ground ginger

1. If not already cooked, cook quinoa according to package directions.

2. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet or saute pan. Add celery, carrots, onion, and bell pepper. Saute 5-7 minutes, until vegetables begin to be tender.

3. Mix together remaining ingredients in a small bowl. It is not essential that they combine perfectly. You can heat it in the microwave for 15-30 seconds and they will combine better.

4. Add quinoa and peanut butter mixture to vegetables. Stir and cook until well combined and all is heated through. Serve.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 172
Protein: 6 gm
Fat: 8 gm
Saturated Fat: 1 gm
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 21 gm
Fiber: 3 gm
Sodium: 253 mg

Recipe notes: You could substitute any vegetables you like. The “sauce” is pretty thick. You could add in some water or more soy sauce to thin it out more, if you like a saucier side. I liked mine fairly thick, almost like a fried rice.

Source: adapted from Ambitious Kitchen

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Fresh versus Canned Pumpkin

Over the last few years, I’ve met several people who SWEAR by fresh pumpkin. They tell me I should never use canned pumpkin because you can really tell the difference between fresh roasted pumpkin and canned pumpkin. Well, this year, I decided to test it out.

First, I used a “pie pumpkin”. This is a much smaller pumpkin. Prior to roasting it, I used it as a table centerpiece. I have heard mixed responses in person and online as to whether you have to use a pie pumpkin or can just use a regular jack-o-latern pumpkin. From my experiences with my baked pumpkin dinner, I think you’d be safer using a pie pumpkin. Jack-o-lantern pumpkins sometimes have smooth, creamy interiors and sometimes are more stringy like a spaghetti squash. You wouldn’t want the stringy texture.

Here is a comparison of the purees. I roasted my pie pumpkin at 400 for about 45 minutes-1 hour, until it was fork tender. (I cut it in half and seeded it first). Fresh is on the right, canned on the left.

Fresh vs Canned Pumpkin Puree

You can see the canned is a much deeper orange color. And a slightly more watery, smoother texture. I could have added some water to mine to puree it to a similar consistency. I didn’t think it was necessary.

Here is the cookie dough. This is flipped from above – canned on the right, fresh on the left.

Fresh vs Canned Pumpkin Cookie Dough

This one is harder to tell a difference. The dough is a bit darker with the canned, but not too much. The doughs mixed up and baked pretty much the same.

And of course, the final product. Back to fresh on the right, canned on the left.

Fresh vs Canned Pumpkin Cookies

Any difference you see is in the lighting. There was not visible difference in the two cookies.

Taste? Well, I tried out both cookies on 18 people, not telling them what the difference was, asking if they had a preference. Most said they really couldn’t taste much of a difference. If they HAD to choose, maybe they liked canned better (although they didn’t know it was the canned one).

So my verdict: I’ll be buying canned pumpkin. To me, there wasn’t a big enough difference to justify the work and money of making my own.

But I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

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Gingerbread Pancakes

Breakfast is a nutritionally important meal of the day. But I also find it to be an emotionally important meal. When I wake up on the wrong side of the bed, I need a good breakfast to help me turn my day around. And it really works. No bowls of cold cereal. I need warm food that makes me feel happy. I love easy ways to make breakfast seem special, since I usually don’t have much time on those days.

These gingerbread pancakes fit that bill. If you tried my gingerbread pancakes last year, these are even better.  Lighter and more fluffy.  Still great gingerbread flavor without being overpowering.  And no sugar in the batter besides molasses!  Hooray!

Gingerbread Pancakes (Makes 10-15 pancakes)

Gingerbread Pancakes

1 large egg
1 ½ cups skim milk
5 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ⅓ cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg, milk, molasses, oil, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.

2. Heat a griddle or non-stick pan to medium-high heat (350 if electric). Lightly spray pan with cooking spray. Pour about ¼-⅓ cup batter onto griddle for each cake. Cook until they start to bubble and bottom looks set. Flip and cook until browned.

Nutritional Information (Amount per pancake):

Calories: 110
Protein: 3 g
Fat: 3 g
Saturated Fat: less than 1 g
Cholesterol: 16 mg
Carbohydrates: 18 g
Fiber: 2 gm
Sodium: 138 mg

Notes: I prefer white whole wheat flour, but “regular” whole wheat flour also works here. As with all pancake batters, I find the amount of liquid is a little bit tricky. You can add more milk if you need a thinner batter.

Source: Children’s Museum Denver

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