Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

Last night for dinner, we had a deliciously healthy salad. It was a mixture of organic baby greens and roasted butternut squash that was dressed with a spicy mustard and chili vinaigrette. The salad had sweetness from dried cranberries and crunchiness from toasty pumpkin seeds. What made this so simple was I brought organic squash that was already peeled and cubed. My recipe was adapted from Health magazine, November 2015. This salad was a colorful and wonderful light meal for fall!

Organic Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds organic butternut squash, peeled and cut into ¾-inch cubes
  • ¼ cup + 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil
  • 2 tablespoons organic maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons organic apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon + pinch of chili powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon + pinch of sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ⅛ teaspoon + pinch of cayenne
  • ⅓ cup hulled pumpkin seeds
  • 4 cups (5 ounces) organic baby mixed greens
  • 2 tablespoons organic dried cranberries

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking pan with aluminum foil. Toss the squash with 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil and spread over pan in a single layer. Place in oven and roast for 30 minutes.
  2. While squash is roasting, whisk together in a small bowl the syrup, vinegar, mustard, ¼ teaspoon chili powder, ⅛ teaspoon salt, cumin and ⅛ teaspoon cayenne. Add 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil in a slow steady stream while whisking.
  3. After squash has been in the oven for 30 minutes, stir and brush with 2 tablespoons vinaigrette. Place back into oven and roast until golden brown for about 15 minutes.
  4. In a medium skillet over medium heat, stir the pumpkin seeds with 1 teaspoon oil. Add a pinch of salt, chili powder and cayenne. Stir well. Toast for about 8 minutes.
  5. Toss greens with vinaigrette. Serve greens on 4 individual plates. Sprinkle with cranberries and pumpkins seeds. Finally, add butternut squash. 4 servings.

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

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Organic Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

Organic Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

I can never pass up on the cut up organic butternut squash at Costco. It makes life and cooking so much easier, not to mention how delicious the roasted squash is! The soup recipe I am sharing with you, today, is the perfect blend of butternut squash and spicy chipotle chili. It is the kind of soup you would want to warm your chilled bones on a cold fall or winter day! I found this wonderful recipe by Marcela Valladolid on the Food Network. As usual, I made some minor changes in the ingredients and in the preparation to suit to my tastes and cooking style. I can’t wait to make it for my daughter, when she comes home from Michigan for a weekend visit later this month. I promise you that you won’t be disappointed with this simple and healthy soup!

Organic Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

Organic Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

Organic Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 2 pounds organic butternut squash or 1 medium squash
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon organic extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 organic stalks celery, chopped
  • 2  organic carrots, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups organic chicken broth
  • 1½ teaspoons minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo

Chipotle Cream:

  • ¼ teaspoon minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo
  • ½ cup organic plain nonfat yogurt
  • Sea salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. If using a whole butternut squash, cut it in half and use the grapeseed oil to grease the flesh sides of the squash. Place on a foil lined, rimmed baking sheet. Add salt and pepper to taste. Roast for about 45 minutes, until very tender. If using cut up squash, toss with grapeseed oil in a large bowl. Place on a foil lined, rimmed baking. Add salt and pepper to taste. Roast for about 30 minutes, until slightly brown and tender. Remove from oven and cool.
  3. Using a large nonstick frying pan, heat olive oil on medium heat. Add onion, carrots and celery; then season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 10 minute, then add the garlic and sauté for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. If using a whole squash, scoop the flesh into blender. If using cut up squash, place pieces in the blender. Blend the squash and chipotle with some chicken stock, until very smooth. Transfer to a large pot.
  5. Place cooked onion, carrot, celery and garlic mixture in the blender with some chicken stock. Blend until smooth. Transfer to the large pot.
  6. Add remaining chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add additional salt and pepper, if necessary.
  7. In a small bowl, mix together yogurt and chipotle. Add salt to taste.
  8. Spoon soup into individual bowls, top with “Chipotle Cream” and garnish with cilantro. Serve immediately. 6 servings.

Organic Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

Lentil Marinara with Zucchini Spaghetti

Lentil Marinara with Zucchini Spaghetti

Last night, we had a gluten-free and vegetarian meal. I had two zucchini that I wanted to use before they went bad, so I decided to use my spiralizer and make the healthy veggie pasta. For the sauce, I had “pinned” a recipe by Lemons and Basil that used lentils in a marinara sauce. I made some minor changes to the original recipe—only one clove of garlic, just 4 tablespoons of tomato paste and omitted the spaghetti seasoning. The sauce is very flavorful and the lentils makes it hearty. My husband, the meat lover, gave me thumbs up, and that’s all I needed to hear about my simple and healthy dinner!

Lentil Marinara with Zucchini Spaghetti

Lentil Marinara with Zucchini Spaghetti

Lentil Marinara with Zucchini Spaghetti

Lentil Marinara with Zucchini Spaghetti

Ingredients:

  • 2 large zucchini, spiralized
  • ½ cup dry lentils, rinsed and sorted
  • 1¼ cups water
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can organic diced tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons organic tomato paste
  • ¼ medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon organic dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon organic dried oregano
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese + more for garnish
  • Fresh basil, chopped

Directions:

  1. Using a small saucepan, add lentils and water. Bring to a boil and simmer until water is all gone, about 40 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  2. While lentils are simmering, add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, onion, garlic, dry basil, oregano, red pepper flakes and Parmesan cheese to blender. Blend thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. After lentils are cooked, add the sauce to the lentils. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  4. Steam the zucchini while the sauce is simmering. Cook vegetable until just tender. Divide the “pasta” evenly onto 2 plates. Add sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan and fresh basil. Serve immediately.

Lentil Marinara with Zucchini Spaghetti

Zucchini Lasagna with Chicken Sausage

Zucchini Lasagna with Chicken Sausage

Today, I learned something new—”lasagna” is the American spelling of the delicious pasta dish and “lasagne” is the Italian way. Since I want to reduce the amount of refined carbohydrates in our diets, I decided not to use the traditional pasta noodle. Instead, I used healthy sliced zucchini. I found that slicing the zucchini using the mandoline was less time-consuming than cooking the pasta. Also, I used sweet Italian chicken sausage. I just added a little more fennel and a  generous pinch of red pepper flakes for extra “kick.” Well, I am pleased to say that my dish was a success in taste and reducing the carbs! This non-pasta version is going to be regular meal in our diets.

Zucchini Lasagna with Chicken Sausage

Zucchini Lasagna with Chicken Sausage

Zucchini Lasagna with Chicken Sausage

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Trader Joe’s Sweet Chicken Italian Sausage or Italian turkey sausage
  • 1 tablespoon organic extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • ½ pound mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon organic dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon organic dried basil
  • ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 3 zucchini (8 to 9 inches long), sliced lengthwise ¼-inch thick.
  • ½ pound part-skim shredded light mozzarella cheese
  • ½ pound low-fat cottage cheese
  • ¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Zucchini Lasagna with Chicken Sausage

Directions:

  1. In a large nonstick frying pan, brown the chicken sausage until it is no longer pink, breaking it up into small pieces. Drain any excess fat.
  2. Using a 3 quart pan, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and mushrooms and sauté for about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, sausage, oregano, basil, fennel, red pepper flakes and parsley. Cover and simmer for at least one hour, stirring occasionally. Add pepper to taste. (To have a less watery dish, I would cook the sauce until almost all the liquid is gone. The zucchini contains a lot of water and the baking process will bring out more liquid).
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9” x 13” lasagna baking dish with oil.
  4. Spread a little sauce over the bottom of the dish. Cover with 7 zucchini slices, spread half the mozzarella and cottage cheeses and sprinkle with one-third of Parmesan cheese. Then add one-third of sauce, just enough to cover. Repeat with zucchini and cheeses. Finally, add the third layer of zucchini, followed by remaining sauce and Parmesan cheese.
  5. Bake uncovered for about 50 to 60 minutes, until zucchini is tender.  Take out of the oven and let it sit for 10 minutes. Serve hot. 10 servings.

Zucchini Lasagna with Chicken Sausage

Tuscan Vegetable Soup

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This deliciously healthy soup is so easy to make and takes about 30 minutes to prepare. It is made with cannellini beans, zucchini, carrots, green beans, tomatoes and spinach. You can use either chicken broth or make it totally vegetarian by using vegetable broth. The soup is seasoned with thyme, sage and garlic. You can easily double the recipe, so you can have more for later in the week or you can freeze it and serve at a later date. I found this wonderful recipe in Ellie Krieger’s The Food You Crave, Taunton Press, 2008. The only change I made to this dish was adding the fresh green beans. With the cooler weather just around the corner, this is the perfect soup to take the chill out of your bones!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 (15.5 ounce) can cannellini or other small white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoons organic extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ large red onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium organic carrot, diced (about ½ cup)
  • 2 celery stalks, diced (about ½ cup)
  • 1 small zucchini, diced (about 1½ cups)
  • ½ cup organic green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage or ½ teaspoon dried
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 4 cups organic chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can organic diced tomatoes with juices
  • 2 cups (2 ounces) organic baby spinach, chopped
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:

  1. Using a masher or the back of a spoon, mash half of the beans in a small bowl.
  2. Heat the oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, zucchini, green beans, garlic thyme, sage, salt and pepper. Cook, stir occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Then add the mashed and whole beans and the spinach. Cook for about 3 minutes, until spinach is wilted.
  4. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if desired. Serves 6.

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Organic Corn and Zucchini with Fresh Herbs

Corn and Zucchini with Fresh Herbs

One of my favorite food items to buy at Trader Joe’s is their frozen Organic Super Sweet Corn. It is reasonably priced and I would prefer to have organic and non-GMO foods whenever possible. I always try to keep a bag or two in my freezer all the time. So when I saw this corn side dish recipe in America ‘s Test Kitchen, Cooking Fresh, 2015, I thought I would try it, since I already had two fresh organic zucchini in my refrigerator. The sautéed zucchini and corn are seasoned with fresh lemon juice, parsley, chives and basil. All the preparation can be done in advance, so it can easily be made during the busy work week. It makes a tasty, simple and healthy side for chicken, beef or fish!

Corn and Zucchini with Fresh Herbs

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon organic extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 small organic zucchini, diced
  • 3 cups organic frozen corns, defrosted
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chives, mince
  • 1½ tablespoons lemon juice
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Using a 12-inch nonstick frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add zucchini and cook for about 3 minutes, until softened. Add the corn and cook for about 2 minute, until heated through.
  2. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat, add basil, parsley, chives and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Serve. 6 servings.

Corn and Zucchini with Fresh Herbs

Curried Chicken Salad on Apple Rounds

Curried Chicken Salad on Apple Rounds

For the next 3 weeks, my family and I are doing a weight loss challenge. 6 pounds to be exact! We are trying to eliminate refined carbs as much as possible and exercise daily. So when I came across this recipe on the internet, I was really excited, because it looked so nice and tasty!

Well, I made this “sandwich” for today’s lunch for Laura and myself. It was so delicious! You can taste the curry, but it doesn’t overpower the flavors of the pecans, golden raisins, green onions, celery and parsley. The apple slices make an excellent substitute for bread. You won’t miss it at all! The only thing I did different was use romaine, instead of Bibb lettuce, because I wanted to use the romaine up. This chicken curry salad would also taste great on a bed of mixed greens! My daughter said, “This is bomb, Mom,” so it doesn’t get any better than that! This terrific recipe came from the Food Network.

Curried Chicken Salad on Apple Rounds

Curried Chicken Salad on Apple Rounds

Curried Chicken Salad on Apple Rounds

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup organic European style plain nonfat yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons organic mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1½ teaspoons curry powder
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups cooked chicken meat, shredded
  • ¼ cup pecans, chopped
  • ¼ cup parsley, chopped and loosely packed
  • 3 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 3 large crisp red apples, Pink Lady or Honeycrisp
  • 8 small Boston or Bibb lettuce leaves

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, green onions, curry powder, ½ teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of black pepper.
  2. Add chicken, pecans, parsley, celery and raisins. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate, until ready to use. Can be stored up to 3 days.
  3. Core the apples. Cut into ¼-inch slices for a total of 16 rounds. Place a lettuce leaf on top of  the eight apple rounds, then add ¼ cup of chicken salad. Finally, top with another apple slice.  Serve immediately. 8 sandwiches/2 per person.

Curried Chicken Salad on Apple Rounds