Hello? Is it me you’re looking for? Thank you, Lionel Ritchie, for inspiring my intro to this post after an extended hiatus. My sincerest apologies. I started a new job, moved to a new apartment, had general summertime things to do (ahem, laziness), but now I have returned. You may not have been looking for me, but your breakfast routine has been looking for this recipe.
I cannot understand someone who says, “Oh, I don’t eat breakfast.” If I don’t eat something within an hour or two of waking, a bad case of the Hangries sets in. I would be useless at work, unable to think about anything other than my pounding headache and desire for scrambled eggs and toast. Research has demonstrated the importance of a balanced breakfast, especially for weight loss/maintenance. As an intern working with diabetic and weight loss clients, one of the first things we stressed was eating something in the morning to wake up your metabolism and avoid binging on unhealthy foods later in the day. It really is true that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
Homemade scones may not be the best solution for current non-breakfast eaters. A piece of toast and a hardboiled egg is a tad more feasible for someone venturing into the wonderful world of breakfast. For those of you looking to elevate your breakfast routine, I think this scone recipe could be the answer. The first line under “About Biscuits and Scones” in Joy of Cooking says, “So little effort, so good a result.” It’s true, these scones take almost no time.
A classic scone often has heavy cream, however this recipe is a little lighter, using buttermilk instead. Another healthier modification is the use of whole wheat flour. Scones were originally made with oats and baked on a griddle, but the modern version is flour-based. This recipe uses both whole wheat and all-purpose flour (and oats—a whole grain!). Whole wheat flour can be a tricky beast when baking. It is nutritionally superior to all-purpose flour, as it is milled from the entire wheat kernel, however it can result in a less-than-desirable product, especially in a delicate pastry. Products made from whole wheat flour are typically heavier and denser. A scone, though, is pretty robust and can handle the whole wheat flour.
The whole grains in this recipe add more fiber, something many of us don’t get enough of. To further elevate the health status of these scones, I added fresh raspberries. They provide a natural sweetness and create a pretty pink tinge to the scones, as well as being high in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. And the dark chocolate? Well, who doesn’t want a little decadence to start their day? These scones will keep at room temperature for a few days, or you can make them ahead and freeze them. If you’re having one for breakfast, I would round out your meal with a hardboiled egg and a glass of milk. No more feeling hangry!
*this recipe is adapted from this New York Times article
Ingredients (makes 12 small scones)
- 1 ¼ cups whole wheat flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup oatmeal
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 6 ounces fresh raspberries
- ½ cup dark chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 400° F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl (or stand mixer if available), combine the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, oatmeal, baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar, and salt.
If using a stand mixer, add butter and beat on low until just incorporated. You can also use a hand mixer here, or do it the old-fashioned way and cut it in by hand. Just don’t over-mix!
Add the buttermilk, raspberries, and chocolate chips and mix until incorporated. Note: my dough was wetter than I expected due to the juiciness of the raspberries, but the scones still turned out tasty with a nice crumb.
On a lightly floured surface, form the dough into a rectangle, and then cut in half length-wise, then into thirds to form 6 squares. Cut each square on the diagonal to form 12 scones. I used a pizza cutter here, which worked great. Transfer to your baking sheet and bake until lightly browned, ~12-15 minutes.
- 180 calories
- 4 g protein
- 27 g carbohydrate
- 3 g fiber
- 7 g fat
- 244 mg sodium
Brussels sprouts are the BESSSSSST!
Not your initial reaction when reading the title of this post? I can’t say I blame you. This diminutive cabbage is the object of childhood nightmares, up there with the Boogey Man and the Quadratic Equation. To be honest, I didn’t try my first brussels until a few years ago. I remember being told that they “taste like boogers…literally.” How this person knew what boogers tasted like, I’ll never know. But that cemented in my mind that I would NEVER eat brussels sprouts.
So what changed my mind? This salad, of course! I think Dijon can make anything tasty, and here it really complements the warm, slightly crispy Brussels sprouts. The sweetness from the grapes, the bite of the onion, and the full flavor that comes from roasting nuts come together to make one of the best salads I’ve ever had. Sometimes you hear “salad” and fall asleep standing up because they can be so boring, but I’m telling you, give this one a try. You won’t regret it. And if your inner child balks at the idea of eating a Brussels sprout, you’re in for a pleasant surprise.
Brussels sprouts are members of the Brassica family, which includes other nutritional powerhouses like kale, broccoli, and cabbage. The Brassica family is known for having some smelly members, which is due to the release of a sulfur compound in the cooking process. Over-cooking your Brussels sprouts will bring out this strong taste and smell, so be careful! Steaming and stir frying are sure-fire ways to retain the most nutrients and not overcook your sprouts, although I haven’t experienced any adverse smells when I’ve roasted them.
Brussels sprouts and other Brassica members have been heralded for their health benefits. Of course, like most things green, they are high in vitamins and minerals, specifically vitamins C, B6, and K, folate, thiamin, potassium, and copper. Also like all things green, they are low in calories and high in fiber. Cruciferous vegetables are thought to have cancer-fighting properties due to the high levels of phytochemicals, specificially isothiocyanates, which act as detoxifiers. As with most diet-related claims, more research and more powerful studies are needed; however we do know that a mostly plant-based diet rich in varied fruits and vegetables is associated with lower cancer risks. So go ahead, add this Brussels sprout salad into your meal rotation. It’s just another example of how delicious healthy eating can be.
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 20 brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cups spinach or arugula
- 3/4 cup seedless red grapes, cut in half
- ½ cup red onion, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese, shredded
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
- 1 clove garlic, diced
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 Tablespoon Dijon
- 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 450. Remove any discolored leaves and trim the Brussels sprouts by cutting off the hard base, and then cut in half. Some leaves may fall off, that’s ok. You can still roast the loose leaves, but keep an eye on them as they will crisp up faster. Toss the halves with the olive oil and roast, turning halfway through, for 15-18 minutes or until browned. I like some burnt pieces, but roast them until you reach your desired level of doneness.
While the Brussels sprouts are roasting, prepare your other salad ingredients. I like to toast walnuts in a skillet on med-low, but be careful here as they can burn quickly (it’s happened to me on more than one occasion). When the Brussels sprouts and walnuts are finished, set them aside to cool. Once cool, combine all salad ingredients.
Whisk the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and toss with the salad.
- 240 calories
- 7 g protein
- 19 g carbohydrate
- 4 g fiber
- 17 g fat (9 g monounsaturated, 5 g polyunsaturated)
- 118 mg sodium
I have a fantastic treat for you guys today. I’m sharing one of my all-time favorite desserts with you, and it’s a perfect way to ring in the summer season. I’ve had friends request I make it when coming over for dinner, and almost every time I visit my parents my mom drops not-so subtle hints that she has ingredients for it. Fine, mom, I’ll make it for you.
The original inspiration for this recipe came from a Mexican cookbook that my sister bought at Goodwill. We found a recipe inside for fruit tostadas and knew we had to try them. That recipe, however, used cream cheese and heavy cream in the filling. While delicious, it wasn’t necessarily a dessert my waistline would enjoy. Also, those are ingredients I typically don’t have readily available in my refrigerator.
So how did I health-ify it? Greek yogurt of course! I almost always have some in my fridge, so really the only thing I have to make sure I have on hand are tortillas. I kept the cinnamon-sugar tortilla shell and the chocolate drizzle, but using either plain or vanilla flavored Greek yogurt lightened up the recipe without sacrificing taste or the decadent feeling you get from eating it. Keep in mind that the vanilla Greek yogurt has more sugar than the plain and will taste sweeter, but both are wonderful.
Do I even need to mention the health benefits of berries? Often touted as a superfood, berries are full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. I don’t necessarily like the term “superfood” because there is no one food that will work miracles. Rather it is a combination of a healthy, varied diet and exercise that has proven time and time again to have the greatest effect on one’s health. Berries definitely pack a nutritional punch, as does the yogurt and whole grains also in this dessert. And the dark chocolate? Well I believe in feeding the soul, and a little chocolate here and there makes my soul happy.
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 4 whole wheat tortillas
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp cinnamon
- 2 cups plain or vanilla-flavored fat-free Greek yogurt, divided among 4 shells
- 2 cups mixed berries, divided among 4 shells
- 2 Tbsp dark chocolate chips, melted
Preheat oven to 350⁰. Using a brush or your fingers, evenly spread a thin layer of the melted butter on each tortilla. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together and then sprinkle it across the surface of the 4 tortillas (you may have some leftover). Using oven-safe bowls, place each tortilla in a bowl to form a cone shape. Bake tortillas for 15-20 minutes or until browned.
Let the tortillas cool (speed this up by placing them in the refrigerator). Spoon the yogurt into each tortilla shell and place in the freezer for 30-60 minutes. You don’t want to leave them in too long as the yogurt will harden too much (I found this out the hard way).
When ready, remove the shells from the freezer, add the berries, and drizzle with melted chocolate.
- 274 calories
- 17 g protein
- 43 g carbohydrate
- 6 g fiber
- 5 g fat
- 230 mg sodium
Spring has sprung!! Technically it sprung March 20th, but I believe at that time we were experiencing the last vestiges of a polar vortex. It’s time to forget those cold, dark days because grey has been replaced with green, there are flowers to behold, and my face is beginning to lose its “ruddy” look. With the warmer days and thawed ground comes one of my favorite things about spring: asparagus.
Seasonal eating is tricky when supermarkets carry most types of produce year-round, regardless of growing season. My grocery cart, regardless of the season, typically has broccoli, spinach, grapes, and apples to name a few. But there are those special fruits and vegetables that, for both taste and price, I only buy when in season. Asparagus is definitely on this short list. Not only do I refuse to pay upwards of $5.99 a pound for asparagus, but have you tasted it when it’s not in season? I find it woody and lacking in flavor. It’s absolutely wonderful, though, in the spring.
Asparagus is a nutritional powerhouse. One cup has a mere 40 calories but 4 g of fiber, which is 14% of your daily needs. That’s a lot of fiber for a small amount of energy! It’s loaded with folate and vitamin K, at 67% and 100% of your daily needs, respectively. Folate is especially important for any ladies out there of reproductive age as a deficiency can lead to neural tube defects in embryos. It’s a good source of vitamins A, C, E, and some B vitamins. This veggie can really help you spring into a healthy lifestyle (see what I did there?!). A random fun fact I learned is that the white spears you occasionally see at the store or farmers market are the same variety as the green but lack chlorophyll. The shoots are covered with soil while growing to prevent photosynthesis, resulting in the white color. This version has a tad less fiber and tastes a bit sweeter.
Asparagus can be eaten any number of ways and makes an excellent side dish. In this recipe, however, I wanted to incorporate it into a simple vegetarian main dish that can be prepared on the busiest of weeknights. What’s great about this recipe is its simplicity. You can buy the artichoke hearts and sun dried tomatoes far in advance without risk of them spoiling like fresh vegetables. Most of us have some form of pasta hiding in the cupboards, and I don’t know about you, but my cheese drawer is usually well-stocked. A simple sauté of the asparagus with a squirt of lemon juice is really all it takes to get this dish on the table, ready for a delicious meal showcasing a spring-time classic.
Ingredients (4 servings)
- 1 16 oz bag whole wheat pasta (here I used penne, but use any noodle you like)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
- ½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 6.5 oz jar artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
- 1 7 oz jar sun dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
- Fresh lemon juice from ½ lemon
- 2 cloves garlic, diced
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
- ¼ tsp crushed red pepper
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Cook pasta according to package directions.
Heat olive oil in skillet over medium high heat. Add asparagus and red onion and sauté until asparagus turns bright green, ~2-3 minutes, then add the lemon juice. Cook for 1 minute, then add the artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, and garlic. Sauté for 1-2 minutes until everything is heated through.
Combine the pasta and asparagus mixture. Add grated parmesan, fresh basil, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper. Toss to combine.
- 576 calories
- 26 g protein
- 101 g carbohydrate
- 17 g fiber
- 12 g fat
- 521 mg sodium
I had to delete everything I wrote for this post and start over. Curious? I had been feeling a little meh about writing it and only had 2 short, sad paragraphs. For inspiration (and to see some gross teeth) I decided to google-image “scurvy,” a disease caused by vitamin C deficiency, when I came across a gem. Something so awesome I had to revamp everything. There is a website, www.limestrong.com, dedicated to eradicating scurvy. On top of that, May 2 has been designated International Scurvy Awareness Day. That’s THIS FRIDAY!! On top of that, there are funny pictures of cats wearing oranges and limes on their heads. Maybe it’s the dietitian in me, but this really tickled my funny bone.
Scurvy used to be seen in sailors on long voyages that lacked access to fresh fruits and vegetables. While it’s a rare disease in the 21st century, there are still reported cases. Groups at higher risk include smokers, alcoholics, infants that are fed cow’s milk, and those without access to fresh fruits and vegetables. A classic symptom is bleeding gums and loose teeth, as well as wounds that won’t heal. The reason is that vitamin C plays an important role in collagen synthesis, a protein that helps hold the body together. Without vitamin C helping form collagen, body tissues start to break down. Don’t want your teeth to fall out? Eat some fruits and veggies every day!
I know, scurvy is generally a disease of yore, but I had to talk about it since there’s a day dedicated to it. Besides wound healing and keeping your teeth attached, vitamin C does some other cool things. Most of you probably know it’s an antioxidant, which means it helps neutralize free radicals that can cause damage over time and are associated with aging and various diseases. With regard to cancer prevention, a diet rich in fruits/vegetables is recommended, however vitamin C supplementation alone has not shown definitive proof that it reduces cancer incidence. The common cold has a similar story. Research has not shown that vitamin C reduces your risk of catching a cold.
Enough of the science lesson, let’s talk food. Sure, oranges are great for breakfast alongside a hardboiled egg and toast, or, for you fancy folks out there, these delicious crepes, but how can we incorporate them into something savory? It’s easy to get into a food rut, where you find yourself eating the same things in the same ways, and I hope this recipe can help shake up your routine and broaden your dinner horizons. This is a great weeknight meal and easy to whip up. These corn cakes work for anyone out there who is gluten-free, or, if you’re like me, want to try something new. I topped them with this black bean and orange salsa, but you could also add the salsa to some fish or chicken, or just eat it out of the bowl like my mom did.
Now run to the grocery store, pick up these ingredients, and make this recipe Friday to celebrate International Scurvy Awareness Day!!
- Jalapeno Corn Cakes (makes 4 large or 6 medium cakes)
- 2 Tbsp canola oil
- 2 cups frozen corn, thawed
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup corn meal
- 5 Tbsp non-fat milk
- 2 Tbsp honey
- ½ jalapeno, diced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Black Bean and Orange Salsa
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, diced
- Juice from 1 lime
- ½ tsp cumin
- ¼ tsp crushed red pepper
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 14 oz can black beans, rinsed
- 1 large orange, peeled, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 2 green onion, chopped
- ½ jalapeno, diced
- 1 avocado, cut into chunks
- 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
Corn Cakes: Mix the corn, eggs, corn meal, milk, honey, jalapeno, salt and pepper. Heat oil in large skillet. Add batter, you should be able to fit 2-3 cakes depending on the size. Cook 2-4 minutes or until set. Flip and cook other side.
Black Bean and Orange Salsa: Mix first 6 ingredients (dressing) in small dish. Taste and adjust seasonings and/or lime juice based on your preferences. Combine beans, orange, bell pepper, onion, jalapeno, avocado, and cilantro in a medium bowl. Toss bean and vegetable mixture with dressing. Top corn cakes with the salsa.
Corn Cakes (based on yield of 4)
- 308 calories
- 8 g protein
- 49 g carbohydrate
- 4 g fiber
- 11 g fat
- 90 mg sodium
Salsa (divided into 4 servings)
- 279 calories
- 10 g protein
- 35 g carbohydrate
- 10 g fiber
- 12 g fat
- 318 mg sodium
*Notice my vastly improved photos? It’s all thanks to my dad. I have terrible lighting in my apartment and no fancy camera equipment, so when I was home around Easter I enlisted my photographer father to help me. Using his tripod and lights really helped! Now I have to devise a way to “borrow” them long-term…
The hunt is over. You pat yourself on the back because you just found 25 spectacularly colored hard-boiled eggs! What a champ! So you neatly display them like a trophy in your fridge so that every time you open the door you see beautiful colors splattered across an eggshell canvas. Who would want to eat such beautiful works of art? But finally, if you’re like me, a couple days pass and you begin to get hungry and brainstorm ways to use all these eggs. My search led to a few tasty and creative ideas; but first, let’s spend a little time talking about the nutrition that makes these eggs so golden.
Eggs are kind of a big deal. They are cheap, delicious, and packed with essential vitamins and minerals. This goodness is found in both the yolk and the whites, so eat it all up, people! Research shows that eating whole eggs actually increases HDL cholesterol (the good guy who prevents cardiovascular disease) and a growing number of studies show that dietary cholesterol does not impact blood level of cholesterol.
The yolk contains one of the richest dietary sources of choline, which helps with inflammation and neurological function. Lutein and zeaxanthin fight for your vision while sulfur aids in Vitamin B absorption, liver function, and the growth of hair, nails, and skin. Let’s not leave the whites out, though. The whites are a great protein source and top-notch quality as the essential amino acids are easy to digest.
And there you have it: nutrition in an eggshell!
Enough with the nutrition lesson, let’s get cookin’! Here are some eggcellent ways to use up hard-boiled eggs:
Food safety tip: hard-boiled eggs kept in the fridge should be eaten within one week and keep the shell on until you are ready to use them.
This week I’m shining the spotlight on oranges. Who doesn’t love a good orange? Sweet, juicy, and really fun to peel, oranges are one of the most consumed fruits in the US. Their biggest nutritional claim to fame is the vitamin C content. One medium orange has about 70 mg of vitamin C, and the recommended intake for men and women is 90 and 75 mg, respectively. Don’t want to remember numbers? Yea, me either. Just remember that eating an orange plus almost any other fruit/vegetable will provide you most of the vitamin C you need in a day.
What about juice or those vitamin C lozenges you might buy when you start to feel sick? When it comes to juice, there’s nothing inherently wrong with it. The issue, however, is that most juices have added sugar, and even those that don’t are lacking fiber that’s found in the whole fruit. This means you’re drinking calories but not feeling full because your body doesn’t have to take any time to break down food. As for vitamin C lozenges or powders, I still say eat the fruit instead. Your body can only absorb so much of the vitamin, so whatever your body doesn’t need is excreted in your urine. The whole fruit will always be your best choice because it has all kinds of goodness within its peel.
I love oranges because they’re so low-maintenance. Just throw it in your bag on your way to work or school and you’ve got a snack ready to go. Oranges helped me through many lectures during grad school. I really enjoy peeling all the white stuff (pith) off the fruit, so when I started to feel sleepy in class, I’d pull out an orange and start peeling.
Although the orange can stand alone, that doesn’t make for an interesting recipe post:
Directions: Peel. Eat
I turned this low-maintenance fruit into an arguably high-maintenance meal. Crepes may seem like something reserved for Sunday brunch at a restaurant, but I assure you that it’s possible in your own kitchen. The most time-consuming part of this recipe was cutting the pith from the peel since we will be eating the peels! How fun is that?! I used some wonderful in-season Cara Cara oranges, and while researching I came across this cool chart from Sunkist that shows the growing season for various citrus fruits. The crepe recipe comes from Whole Foods and the orange compote was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. I reduced the simply syrup because I felt it was too sweet and used a honey tangerine instead of a grapefruit, although any citrus would work.
- Crepes (makes 6 crepes)
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg whites
- 2/3 cup non-fat milk
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tsp canola oil or unsalted butter (for cooking the crepes)
- Vanilla-Infused Citrus Compote (makes ~2 cups, enough for 4 crepes)
- 1 orange
- 1 honey tangerine (or any in-season citrus fruit you like)
- 2 Tbsp water
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- ½ vanilla bean, split and scraped
- Pinch of salt
Crepes: Combine and mix the eggs, egg whites, milk, and butter. Add the flour and salt, mixing until the batter is smooth. I used my Kitchen Aid mixer, but a hand-mixer would also work. Cover and refrigerate the batter for 1 hour.
If you have a crepe pan, awesome! I’ll venture to say many of us (including myself) do not, so a flat skillet will also work. Heat your pan over medium-high and add a teaspoon of oil or butter to coat the pan. When ready, pour ¼ cup of the batter into your pan and swirl it around to form a thin circle. Cook until you see the edges start to brown and the top has set, then flip and cook until golden brown. Crepes cook very quickly, so keep your eyes on it. I stacked my crepes on a plate and put a piece of parchment paper in between each one. You can store any leftover crepes for 1-2 days in the refrigerator.
Compote: Begin by removing the peel from your fruits. I use a technique where you “supreme” the orange: cut the peel and pith, then remove the segments from the membrane. Confused? Here’s a Youtube video to demonstrate. Place the fruit segments in a bowl and squeeze the juice from the membrane into the bowl. Next remove the pith from the peel and cut the peel into thin slices.
Bring a small saucepan of water to boil. Add the peel slices and cook for 1 minute then drain. Heat the 2 Tbsp water, 2 Tbsp sugar, and vanilla seeds and pod in the saucepan over medium-high until the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat and add the juice, peels, and salt, cooking for 2 minutes. Cool completely, discard the vanilla pod, and toss with the fruit.
Add ¼ of the citrus compote to a crepe and top with some flaked coconut.
- 145 calories
- 18 g carbohydrate
- 5 g protein
- 6 g fat
- 117 mg sodium