I have a confession to make. I didn’t cook at all this weekend, too busy doing housework, paying bills, working on taxes and watching the Super Bowl! Oh, I forgot to mention that my husband ordered take-out from P.F. Chang’s to eat while we watched the game. It was delicious, but not very healthy! But our team won and that’s all that matters!
Last night, I prepared a wonderful pasta dish with tasty and healthy butternut squash, baby kale, and walnuts. Basically, all you have to do is roast the squash, toast the walnuts, cook the pasta and toss! I found this lovely vegetarian meal on the Saveur Magazine website. The recipe calls for 12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) of butter, but I was able to reduce it to only 4 tablespoons! You still get a rich buttery pasta, complimented by the flavors of the squash, kale and walnuts; but without all the calories and fat!
- 1 medium squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1-2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 8 ounces pappardelle
- 4 tablespoons organic butter
- 1 cup organic walnuts, toasted and lightly crushed
- 3 cups organic baby kale
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss squash with oil in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Spread squash in a single layer on sheet and bake for about 25 minutes, until tender.
- While the squash is roasting, toast the walnuts in a rimmed pan at 325 degrees for about 15 minutes. Also, cook the pasta in a large saucepan, until al dente, approximately 5 minutes. Drain and rinse and set aside.
- In a large (12-inch) nonstick frying pan, heat the butter over medium heat, until foamy and light brown. Add pasta, squash and walnuts. Finally, add the baby kale and cook until just wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 2 to 4.
This salad is not only pretty to look at, but tastes great. It’s super simple to make and very healthy to eat! The salad itself just has Brussels sprouts, Tuscan kale, walnuts, pomegranate seeds and Parmesan cheese. The dressing is just olive oil, white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey, salt and pepper. This delicious recipe comes from Williams-Sonoma blog website. The only modifications I made were using olive oil, instead of pricy walnut oil, and reducing the amount of oil. It gets added crunch from the walnuts, sweetness from the pomegranate seeds, and saltiness from the cheese. The dish would make a fabulous addition on any holiday table!
- 1 pound Brussels sprouts, sliced thinly
- 1 bunch Tuscan kale, stemmed and leaves sliced julienne
- ¼ cup organic extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon organic honey
- ½ cup pomegranate seeds
- 1 cup toasted organic walnuts, coarsely chopped
- Shaved Parmesan cheese for garnish
- Combine Brussels sprouts and kale in a large bowl.
- Using a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, mustard, honey and a pinch each of salt and pepper.
- Pour dressing over Brussels and kale and toss well. Sprinkle with walnuts, pomegranate seeds, and Parmesan cheese. 6 to 8 servings.
Green beans are one of my favorite vegetables. When I saw the packages of Haricot Verts, which is French for green beans at Trader Joe’s, I had to buy some. I love this variety of the vegetable, because they are sweeter, longer, thinner and more tender than most American varieties. I thought they would taste delicious with the cilantro pesto recipe that I had seen in America’s Test Kitchen, Fresh Cooking, 2015. The Test Kitchen used the pesto in a cold bean salad, but I used it in a hot steamed vegetable side. Along with the cilantro, it has fresh lemon juice and toasty walnuts and garlic. My husband and I found this dish to be very tasty warm, but we think the cold salad version would be terrific too!
- ¼ cup walnuts
- 2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 2½ cups cilantro leaves and stems, trimmed
- ½ cup organic extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 green onion, sliced thin
- 4 teaspoons lemon juice
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 2 pounds green beans, trimmed
- Over medium heat, toast walnuts and garlic in a medium skillet, stirring often, until fragrant for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. After the garlic cools, peel and chop coarsely.
- Using a blender or food processor, process cilantro, oil, green onion, lemon juice, walnuts and garlic. Add salt and pepper to taste. Blend until smooth. Pesto can be made up to 2 days in advance.
- Steam the beans until tender crisp. Transfer to a large bowl. Toss with the pesto and serve immediately. Add salt to taste. 6 to 8 servings.
I can control what I eat and how much I exercise, but I can’t control my family medical history. I just had my annual physical and certain numbers have changed since my visit, so it’s time for me to take control! Let me just say that my numbers were not so bad that I need to take medications or supplements, but I got my wakeup call to take action. So for the next six months, I will be working on getting regular exercise, making some changes to my diet and most importantly, reducing my intake of juke foods! By doing this, I hope to find out if these changes were caused by my bad habits, not exercising enough and eating juke food, or just getting older and genetics!
I prefer steel cut oats over rolled oats, because they are less processed and therefore, retain more fiber and protein. Before, I made my steel cut oatmeal with healthy walnuts and organic dry cranberries. Now, I make it with healthy walnuts and cinnamon! Rather than sweetening my oatmeal with brown sugar or honey, I use Stevia instead, because it does not affect blood glucose levels.
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup Trader Joe’s Organic Steel Cut Oats
- Organic walnuts, chopped
- Organic Stevia
- Organic nonfat milk, optional
- Boil water in a medium saucepan. Add oats and stir. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add Stevia to taste.
- Place oatmeal in individual bowls. Sprinkle with cinnamon and walnuts. Add milk, if desired. Serves 4.
I have listed below some of the health benefits of each of the three key ingredients:
Benefits of Steel Cut Oatmeal
- Improving blood sugar levels in diabetics and improving cholesterol levels
- A good source of protein
- A good source of B vitamins and iron
Benefits of Walnuts
- Decrease the LDLs (bad cholesterol)
- Reduce the problems associated with the Metabolic Syndrome—excessive blood fats (triglycerides), high blood pressure, low HDLs (good cholesterol) and obesity
- Help in reducing the risk of future cardiovascular problems associated with type 2 diabetes
Benefits of Cinnamon
- Helps reduce triglycerides
- Aids in the prevention of tissue damage and inflammation caused by high levels of blood sugar
- Helps to reduce the rise of blood sugar levels after a meal
- Promotes better brain function
For the next six month I will greatly reduce my consumption of my favorite “prepared” cereals to see if making these slight changes will make a difference in my numbers. For an occasional variation, I will be adding some healthy blueberries or raspberries to my oatmeal!
When my daughter was home from college for winter break, she made fruit parfaits with berries and low-fat vanilla yogurt for an early morning road trip she was taking with her boyfriend. They looked delicious! I thought they could be made in advance for healthy work week breakfasts. I have been looking for different ways to add variety to my morning meals. By using Greek nonfat plain yogurt and adding the honey and vanilla myself, I was able to increase the amount of protein and by 14 grams and reduce the amount of carbohydrate and sugar by 5 grams. I topped my parfaits with omega-3 walnuts for crunch and more protein. The berry parfaits were yummy, if I do say so myself!
- 2 cups organic Greek nonfat plain yogurt
- 1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons organic honey
- ½ cup organic strawberries, quartered
- ½ cup organic blackberries
- ½ cup organic blueberries
- ¼ cup chopped organic walnuts
- In a medium bowl, add the yogurt, vanilla and honey and stir thoroughly.
- Add some fruit, then yogurt to the bottom of a dish. Repeat two more times. Top with walnuts. Makes 2 servings.
What is wonderful about French toast is that you can make it as healthy or decadent as you want it! So yesterday morning, I drove to my local Whole Foods to buy my first loaf of organic bread. The store bakes several different kinds of regular and organic breads daily. The baker’s suggestion was brioche and challah breads, but either one was organic, so I selected the French loaf. To make this healthy and yummy, I added bananas and crunchy walnuts!
- 4 slices of organic bread of your choice (brioche, challah or sourdough)
- 1 organic egg
- 3 tablespoons organic milk (I used nonfat)
- 2 teaspoons organic sunflower oil
- Trader Joe’s Organic Maple Syrup
- 1 organic banana, sliced
- Walnuts, chopped
In a shallow dish, whisk egg and milk together. Preheat 2 teaspoons oil in a nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Soak both sides of bread slices in egg-milk mixture. Cook both sides of bread until golden brown. Sprinkle with walnuts, add sliced bananas, drizzle with maple syrup and enjoy! Serves 2.
Blogger’s note: This recipe can easily be multiplied. Ideally, bread should be at least a day old. This is a healthier version of French toast, so no butter was used. But you can certainly add it!