Saturday, December 31, 2011

HEALTHY CREAMY GUACAMOLE DIP




My family LOOOVES dips. A lot of the time we don't have a formal lunch, and instead just devour a yummy dip with crackers and veggies.
We really enjoy avocado, which is a great source of healthy fat, as long as it is in moderation, which is hard for us. This dip was inspired by one I saw in the Hungry Girl 200 under 200 recipe book. I threw this together just on a whim, and it is delicious! Perfect for New Years!


HEALTHY CREAMY GUACAMOLE DIP

1/2 block (4 oz) reduced-fat or fat-free cream cheese, softened
1 large ripe avocado, diced
Juice of 1/2 a lime 
1/2 Roma tomato, diced
1 whole green onion, thinly sliced
1/2 C. frozen green peas
2 Tbsp. (or to taste) Cilantro, finely chopped
garlic powder, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
* can add diced jalapeno if desired for a little heat, but I opted not to
*update* I made this again, adding in some lowfat cottage cheese and fat free sour cream with the cream cheese and pulsed it in a food processor to "pump up the volume" and it was excellent!

In small bowl, cook frozen green peas in microwave for 2 minutes, or until really soft. Mash with fork and set aside. In another bowl, combine rest of ingredients, then add mashed peas. Mix well and serve with crackers, baked tortilla chips or veggies.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

BLANCHED ALMONDS


Until a few months ago, I had no idea you could create your own blanched almonds at home. I figured their skin was there to stay unless you had some high-temperature, fancy blancher gadget. At the time, I was purchasing almond milk at the store frequently, and since it's so expensive, I looked up making it at home. That's where I discovered how simple it is to blanch your own almonds. Sure, you can buy them pre-blanched, but I had a huge bulk supply of raw ones in their skin.
There's no "recipe", you just boil the raw almonds at a low boil for 2 or 3 minutes. Drain the water and let them cool until easily handled. With the slightest pressure, they practically jump out of their skin! It's a little time-consuming, but kind of fun; kids love it!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

USEFUL HOLIDAY GIFT IDEA


Here is a last minute, but very useful holiday gift idea. I bought a recipe magazine at Sam's Club that was specific to using ground beef. I get all my beef from my brother in law who raises cows, so I have a large stash in my deep freeze. I just attached a couple pounds to the magazine with a tag saying: "What's for Dinner?" During the holiday's we hear this a lot; so here's the beef to use in your pot!  I adapted the idea from one I got here, where there's also the suggestion to attach the tag to a frozen lasagna or other dish. The saying would then change from, so here's the beef to use in your pot!, to, so heat this [lasagna] until it is hot! 
I love that it's something different than sweets this time of year, and who wouldn't love free meat? Other than a vegetarian : )

Thursday, December 15, 2011

ANOTHER USE FOR YOUR TOASTER

(Looks like I should have cleaned my toaster before taking the pic!)

I just wanted to quickly post an idea I saw a few weeks ago. I think it was on Pinterest, but I could be wrong. Turn your toaster into a mini toaster oven by placing it on its side. How easy was that to think of doing, yet it would have never occurred to me to try it. 
This allows you to toast something other than dry bread. Just make sure it's not too thick or that the cheese or other topping doesn't melt over the edges. Voila!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

HEALTHY WHEAT PUMPKIN BREAD WITH BLUEBERRIES & WHITE CHOCOLATE


My family LOVES pumpkin chocolate chip bread, but the amount of oil and sugar in the traditional recipe just scares me! I like to consider my bread just what it is...bread, not my dessert! With that in mind, I finally tried a recipe that has been hanging out in my "to try" file for a few years now. It's a healthier version, but I made it even better and reduced the refined sugar content even more by using date sugar! Instead of the chocolate chips, I threw in some fresh blueberries (cause I love them in my Blueberry Banana Bread) and some white chocolate chips. It turned out SO good! I took some to my neighbor friend and she called it "the best pumpkin bread she's ever eaten". Maybe she said that just to be nice, but I agree!

Healthy Wheat Pumpkin Bread with Blueberries & White Chocolate          Makes 1 Loaf
Recipe adapted from Nov. 2009 Good Housekeeping Magazine
1/2 C. light brown sugar, UNpacked
1/2 C. date sugar (can be found in health food stores, but can also just use more brown sugar)
1/2 C. scant, Egg Beaters or 2 egg whites
1 C. canned pumpkin puree
1/4 C. unsweetened applesauce 
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1/3 C. low-fat or non-fat plain yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. ground flax, optional
1 C. soft white wheat flour (can also use regular white wheat flour)
3/4 C. all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg (pre-ground is fine, but fresh is better!)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt 
1 C. fresh blueberries
1 C. white chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray loaf pan* with cooking spray and set aside.
2. In large bowl with wire whisk, combine sugars and egg substitute. Add pumpkin, applesauce, oil and vanilla; stir to combine.
3. In medium bowl, combine remaining ingredients except blueberries & white chocolate chips. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in blueberries and white chocolate chips. Do not overmix.
4. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 45 - 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Invert bread onto wire rack to cool completely. 

* I made mine into mini loaves and baked for 33 minutes.