Blueberry Greek Yogurt Muffins with Crystalized Ginger

It’s time for another recipe for the Short and Sweet Series:

Let’s talk blueberry muffins!!!

Why I made this recipe: Because I wanted  muffins. 🙂 Oh, and I wanted to try and make them healthier by using Greek yogurt.

Why I love this recipe: Because they are loaded with blueberries and I adore blueberries (see below). Plus, I like that they are a little heartier and denser than your average muffin, thanks to the Greek yogurt.

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Triple Berry Jam

I love jam. I am not kidding. It’s just my thing…jam is my jam. There really is something special about it. In fact, there was a Christmas a few years back where my mother-in-law bought me jam, and it just about brought me to tears! Bless her, because it was and still is, a very happy and memorable moment. Jam-of-the-month club? Sign me up!

But here’s the deal, sometimes those jams are loaded with sugar. I know, a lot of people dig that extra shot of carbohydrate-crazy in the morning, but not me. I like the fruit and I want to taste the fruit, not the sugar. So, when I’m itching for some seriously tasty, fruity jam, I make my own. It’s completely simple to do and I love that I control what goes in it, that means less sugar, more fruit. Yay!

This triple berry jam is a great way to enjoy the rest of your summer produce. Blueberries, raspberries and strawberries are all delicious and amazingly nutritious, so why not make a jam out of them!? If you don’t have fresh, use frozen, just know that you may need to cook it a little longer than the recipe below states.

What else can you use this delicious jam for besides toast? How about swirling it in yogurt? Or adding it to your bowl of oatmeal? I also think it’s pretty amazing on top of frozen yogurt or a piece of angel food cake. Yum!

Ps-Don’t skip the zest! It’s such a refreshing addition. Just be sure to wait to add it until the jam has cooled off a bit, otherwise it’ll just taste bitter.

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Triple Berry Jam


  • Author: Sara Haas

Description

A simple homemade jam made with blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, orange and a touch of honey.


Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 orange, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1 cup strawberries, hulled and quarted (or cut into eighths if large)

Instructions

  1. Combine the honey and orange juice in the bottom of a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the fruit, stir, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 40 minutes.
  2. Remove pan from the heat, transfer the jam to a bowl or jar and allow to cool.
  3. Once cooled, stir in the orange zest then cover with a lid and refrigerate until ready to enjoy.

Notes

  • Makes about 1/3 cup jam.

Nutrition

  • Calories: 222
  • Sugar: 42
  • Sodium: 4
  • Fat: 1
  • Saturated Fat: 0
  • Unsaturated Fat: 1
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 56
  • Protein: 3
  • Cholesterol: 0

In A Rush? Try this Hummus Sandwich!

Why I made this recipe: Because I need things to be simple sometimes, yet I also want them to taste good and be relatively healthy. I mean, who doesn’t want that? Or, should I say, why wouldn’t we all want that!?

Why I love this recipe: It requires no cooking which means my kitchen (and all of those in it) stay cool. It’s quick and easy to put together, something your kids could definitely help you do. It’s loaded with flavor, especially if you use a delicious hummus that’s loaded with good things like veggies or garlic. I also love it because I utilized a simple restaurant trick of dressing the greens before putting them in this sandwich. Yum, it’s a step you shouldn’t skip!

How this recipe is healthy: It seems I am turning into a bit of a vegetarian these days. Or maybe I am just having a summer love affair with vegetables? I can’t help it, they are so good. So, this recipe is loaded with healthy, nutrient-rich vegetables and accented with a tiny bit of full-flavored feta cheese. The dressing on the greens is made from olive oil (yay to unsaturated fat!) and the hummus is a great spread that adds flavor without adding excessive calories and fat. Pile it all on some seriously delicious, whole-grain bread, and you’ve got yourself a winning dish that would make any dietitian (or mom) proud!

And here are the pretty pictures:

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The Fast Veggie & Hummus Sandwich


  • Author: Sara Haas

Description

A simple sandwich loaded with fresh vegetables, hummus and feta cheese.


Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or grated
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups baby spinach or arugula leaves
  • 8 slices whole wheat bread (use good, hearty bread for this)
  • 1 cup hummus (plain, roasted red pepper, garlic, whatever!)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 cup thinly sliced cucumber
  • 1 cup sliced tomato

Instructions

  1. In the bottom of a mixing bowl, combine the mustard, vinegar and garlic. Whisk in the olive oil and season with black pepper. Add the spinach or arugula and toss to coat.
  2. If desired, lightly toast the bread slices. Lay out the bread slices on a clean surface and spread 1 tablespoon of hummus onto each slice. On half of the slices, add the feta, cucumber, spinach and tomatoes. Top with other bread slice and serve.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 4
  • Calories: 363
  • Sugar: 6
  • Sodium: 669
  • Fat: 17
  • Saturated Fat: 4
  • Unsaturated Fat: 12
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 42
  • Protein: 13
  • Cholesterol: 8

Black Bean Salad with Honey Lime Vinaigrette

Well, it’s officially September and it’s blazing saddles here in Chicago. That means it’s time to be creative in the kitchen. Read, “how can I cook without cooking?” Luckily, Mother Nature is on our side during the warmer months, providing us with a wealth of fresh produce that requires very little preparation. How kind of Her! So, to keep the sweat at bay, I created this hearty bean salad that’s both refreshing and satisfying.

If you’ve got a can opener and a knife, you’re all set for this recipe. Just pop open a couple of cans of beans, then chop up some fresh veggies and you’ve pretty much got this dish made. Lots of beans and veggies means you know it’s good for you, which is just an added bonus, really. Then, to jazz it all up a bit, I’ve created a tangy, yet sweet vinaigrette made from fresh lime juice and zest as well as honey, mustard and olive oil. That’s it! So easy, just like I promised.

Serve up a big bowl of this tonight for dinner and save the rest to munch on during the week. This salad tastes even better after a day or two in the fridge.

P.S. – If you’re not in the mood to cook an ear of fresh corn, you can substitute thawed corn or canned corn. See, so easy!

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Black Bean Salad with Honey-Lime Vinaigrette


  • Author: Sara Haas

Description

This delightfully healthy dish comes together fast and it not only looks beautiful, but tastes great too.


Ingredients

For the salad

  • 1 ear of fresh corn, shucked and cleaned (or about 1 cup corn kernels)
  • 1 can (15 ounce) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained (or any other bean will work here too)
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded, stemmed and diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded, stemmed and diced
  • 1/2 medium red onion, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and diced (optional)

For the dressing

  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • sea salt, to taste

Instructions

To prepare the salad

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the corn and return to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes, then drain and rinse the corn under cold water to stop the cooking process. Pat dry and when cool enough to touch, cut kernels from the cob and add to a large serving or mixing bowl.
  2. To the same bowl with the corn, add the beans, peppers, onion, cilantro and jalapeño, if you’re using it. Toss to combine.

For the dressing

  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine the mustard, lime zest, lime juice and honey. Whisk in the olive oil.

To serve

  1. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to evenly coat the beans and vegetables. Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour. Toss again before serving.

Notes

  • This recipe makes between 7 1/2 and 8 cups salad.
  • You don’t have to let this salad sit in the fridge before digging in, but it does taste so much better when you do!

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 8
  • Calories: 201
  • Sugar: 7
  • Sodium: 140
  • Fat: 10
  • Saturated Fat: 1
  • Unsaturated Fat: 8
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 25
  • Protein: 6
  • Cholesterol: 0

Short and Sweet Series: Banana Mango Coconut Smoothie Recipe

Why I made this recipe: Because I love trying new smoothie recipes and mango is one of my favorite fruits.

Why I love this recipe: This one is super creamy, and the touch of coconut makes it feel indulgent and tropical, like you’re on vacation, laying on a beach, reading a good book, under the shade of a palm tree…you get the picture.

How this recipe is healthy: Oh, it’s healthy alright. If you read the ingredient list, you’ll know that this smoothie is jam-packed with good nutrients. It’s loaded with healthy fats from the avocado and flax seed and it’s bursting with powerful vitamins like A and C and important minerals like potassium. And don’t forget the calcium, it’s in there too, thanks to that healthy dose of low-fat milk.

And here are the pretty pictures:

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Banana Mango Coconut Smoothie


  • Author: Sara Haas

Ingredients

  • 1 small banana, peeled and sliced
  • 1 mango, peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 1 1/2 cups low-fat milk (or other non-dairy milk alternative)
  • 1/2 avocado, peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed
  • 2 tablespoons grated or flaked dried coconut
  • 2 teaspoons honey

Instructions

  1. Spread the sliced banana and mango cubes evenly out onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze for at least 1 hour and up to 2 hours. (If desired, this step can be done advance, just be sure to transfer partially frozen fruit to a re-sealable freezer bag to prevent it from sticking to the paper).
  2. Pour the milk into the bottom of a blender and add the frozen fruit, avocado, ground flax seed, coconut and honey. Puree until smooth. Pour into cups and serve immediately.

Notes

  • Makes 3 cups.
  • This smoothie isn’t mind-numbingly sweet. But if you’re looking for some additional sweetness, add a little more honey.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 4
  • Calories: 188
  • Sugar: 23
  • Sodium: 52
  • Fat: 7
  • Saturated Fat: 2
  • Unsaturated Fat: 4
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 30
  • Protein: 5
  • Cholesterol: 5

Recipe Redux: Carrot Cake Pancakes

The theme of this month’s redux is “back to the dinner table” and I love this theme because I am a huge advocate of sitting down at the table and eating and enjoying meals as a family. When I grew up, this was something we did, maybe not for every meal, but as often as we could. Sure, it was a little crazy at times and there were definitely instances where foods was pushed around on plates or tossed across the table, but it was great and I have many fond memories of sitting and eating with my family.

The tradition of sitting down and eating dinner as a family continues at my house. And to honor the family dinner, I thought pancakes were in order since they happen to be one of our favorite foods. And hey, breakfast for dinner is always fun, right?

My husband happens to really like carrot cake, so he inspired these little Carrot Cake Pancakes. It’s totally like having your cake and eating it too. The great thing about them is that these little cakes are loaded with nutrition instead of fat and calories. 

To top off the theme of family, I have to include a special thanks to two very special people who helped me with this recipe and blog post, my mom and her husband Stan. Notice how awesome these pics look? Yup, that’s their handiwork! My mom created those amazing vignettes and Stan was an expert at holding the makeshift paper “screen” to help create/block light. They also happily obliged to taste-testing, and judging by the looks of the empty plate, I’m assuming they liked them. 

So, from my family to yours, we wish you many happy meals at the table!

P.S. – These little cuties are super delicious with a little drizzle of maple syrup and a light dusting with powdered sugar. 🙂

 

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Carrot Cake Pancakes


  • Author: Sara Haas

Description

The tasty goodness of carrot cake without all of the fat and calories!


Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cup low fat milk
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 2 cups finely grated carrot

Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.
  2. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, oil and brown sugar. Stir in the nuts and carrots. Add dry mixture to wet mixture and stir gently until combined.
  3. Heat non-stick pan or griddle over medium-high heat. Once hot, spray with non-stick cooking spray and drop pancakes onto hot pan using a 1/4 cup measuring cup. Cook on the first side until batter begins to bubble, then flip and cook the other side an additional 2-3 minutes or until lightly browned.

Notes

  • This recipe serves 8, which gives each person two delicious pancakes apiece.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 8
  • Calories: 243
  • Sugar: 8
  • Sodium: 254
  • Fat: 10
  • Saturated Fat: 1
  • Unsaturated Fat: 8
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 33
  • Protein: 7
  • Cholesterol: 49


Short and Sweet Series: Thai Chickpea Burgers

It’s time for a new recipe! And here it is, the Short and Sweet (this is what I am calling my new abbreviated, get-to-the-point recipe blog posts) version!

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Why I made this recipe: Because I love Thai food and I adore veggie burgers, so why not combine them?

Why I love this recipe: Because these little chickpea burgers are super flavorful, satisfying and with the lime-infused slaw, taste so clean and refreshing.

How this recipe is healthy: I’m sure I don’t have to tell you this, but Americans don’t eat enough fiber. Getting enough is a tall order considering the average adult needs between 25-35 grams of fiber each day! One easy way to get more fiber is to eat more beans. Beans can help fill your “fiber bucket” to the tune of about 8 grams per half cup, and these burgers make it easy. And there’s more! Besides fiber, beans are also a superb source of lean vegetarian protein and they offer other goodies like folic acid and iron. The beans are great, but so is the slaw, which is made with fresh veggies including cabbage and carrots then tossed in a light lime-infused vinaigrette. It’s a nutrition-packed, satisfying meal!

And here are the pretty pictures:

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Thai Chickpea Burgers


  • Author: Sara Haas
  • Yield: 10

Description

A chickpea burger that’s bursting with fresh garlic, ginger and Thai Green Curry paste then topped with a refreshing lime-infused cabbage slaw.


Ingredients

For the slaw

  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 lime, zested and juiced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cabbage (red or green or both!)
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 green onion, white part only, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves

For the burgers

  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon thai green curry paste (and up to 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons plain bread crumbs
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 10 small whole wheat hamburger buns or dinner rolls, split in half and toasted

Instructions

For the slaw

  1. Combine the mustard, lime zest and lime juice together in the bottom of a medium mixing bowl. Gradually add the olive oil, whisking until incorporated. Add the cabbage, carrot, green onion and cilantro and toss to combine.
  2. Cover and refrigerate until ready to eat.

For the burgers

  1. Place beans in a large mixing bowl and partially mash with a fork or avocado (or potato) masher.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg together with the olive oil, cilantro, curry paste, ginger, garlic and salt. Add mixture, along with the bread crumbs, to beans and stir to combine.
  3. Using a 1/4 cup measure, loosely scoop out the bean mixture and shape into patties.
  4. Heat half of the olive oil in a non-stick pan set over medium heat. Add half of the patties and cook for about 5 minutes. Carefully flip them over and cook an additional 5 minutes. Remove the patties from the pan and cover with foil to keep them warm. Add the remaining oil and repeat the process with the remaining patties.
  5. Place the cooked patties on the toasted buns and top with a rounded 1/4 cup of the slaw. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • Attention vegans and others with egg and gluten allergies! You can make these without the egg and breadcrumbs. Simply omit them and follow the instructions as written. The burgers will be a little crumbly, but still super tasty. And enjoy the burger sans bun or opt for a GF bun for all you gluten sensitive folks.
  • Yields about 10 mini burgers.

How About Something New? Lemon Cucumbers!

“Wow! What are those?” That was my exclamation to the man behind the Froggy Meadow Farm table at the Green City Market here in Chicago on Wednesday. He looked at me kindly, appreciating my enthusiasm and happily replied, “lemon cucumbers.” Clearly I was curious, so I asked him to give me the low-down. Turns out lemon cucumbers are actually an heirloom variety of cucumber. They are round and yellow like lemons, but taste like very mild cucumbers. He informed me that the best way to enjoy them was to cut them like a pie versus slicing them. My face must have look puzzled, so he further explained that cutting them this way gives you a better ratio of skin to flesh to seeds.

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That made sense to me, so then I asked him how to pick a good one and he instructed me that the lighter yellow cucumbers are younger and therefore have a thinner skin, but they are not as sweet as the older, darker yellow-colored cucumbers. “It’s a matter of preference,” he told me, if you like a thinner skin, go with the light yellow, but if you want a sweeter cucumber and don’t mind a thicker skin, go with the darker yellow-colored cucumber. I asked him to pick one of each for me. He rang me up and as I handed over my $1.50, I thanked him profusely then excitedly made my way home, eager to sample my new-found treasures.

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I couldn’t wait to get home and try these little guys. I dove right in, cutting them into wedges, then slices. I did notice the thicker skin when cutting the darker cucumber, but it wasn’t absurdly thick. A taste test revealed that I actually liked both versions. The thinner skin is nice, but I kind of enjoyed the crisp, crunch from the thicker skinned cucumber. It was a toss up for me, both were delicious! Now, what to do with them???

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Try my ideas below for lemon cucumbers or be creative and come up with your own!!!

  • Swap them for green cucumbers in Greek salad or other salad recipes that call for cucumbers.
  • Eat them like an apple and enjoy them whole.
  • Cut them into wedges and serve with other crudite as a great snack or appetizer
  • Grill them and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle of sea salt and crushed black pepper

Greek Pasta Salad Recipe

I am trying something new. I know you’re busy, and there are likely times that you don’t even read my blog posts. Don’t worry, I’m not mad, I totally get it. You just want the recipe. I’m excited to start off  this series with a simple recipe for Greek Pasta Salad.

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Black Bean and Mushroom Tacos

I adore tacos. Besides pizza, no other food is better in my opinion. I love tacos because they are the perfect vehicle for so many other great foods. Just think about it. Tacos are delicious filled with grilled chicken and a simple pico de gallo. They are also fantastic loaded with spicy oven-baked tofu and a refreshing cilantro cabbage slaw. And how about fish? I mean, who doesn’t love a fish taco?

In my house, tacos rule and I am constantly finding new fillings for my favorite food. To honor “Meatless Monday“, I came up with a vegetarian taco recipe that earned two thumbs up from my little family. These black bean and mushroom tacos are bursting with flavor and umami, so even if you’re a meat-eater, you won’t miss the meat. They are simple to make and many of the ingredients can be prepped the day before so that all you have to do is cook and serve. You’re welcome!

Besides being simple and delicious, tacos are also a great, healthy option for any meal. Use a whole grain tortilla and fill it with lean meats or beans and top with plenty of fresh produce like sautéed peppers, shredded kale or romaine lettuce, chopped tomatoes and thinly sliced jicama. Or why not fill it with last night’s veggie stir-fry or leftover quinoa and grilled corn? Be creative and have fun with your tacos! The options are truly limitless.

In the mean time, try these black bean and mushroom tacos. They’re sure to make your Meatless Monday meal a success!

 

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Black Bean and Mushroom Tacos


  • Author: Sara Haas

Description

Perfect for taco night! A delicious sauté of mushrooms and black beans makes the perfect filling for tortillas.


Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped white onion
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, cleaned and chopped (any variety is fine)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped white onion

Instructions

  1. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and the onion and cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring until golden, about five minutes. Season with salt and add the garlic, cook 1 more minute. Add the spices, stirring to toast them and prevent them from burning, another minute more. Stir in the black beans, water and lime juice and cook 3-4 minutes, until most of the liquid has been cooked off.
  2. To serve: Fill each tortilla with about 1/4 cup of the black bean and mushroom sauté. Top with cilantro and onions and serve.

Notes

  • Additional optional toppings: salsa or hot sauce, shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, low-fat Greek yogurt

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 6
  • Calories: 229
  • Sugar: 3
  • Sodium: 121
  • Fat: 4
  • Saturated Fat: 1
  • Unsaturated Fat: 3
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 42
  • Protein: 9
  • Cholesterol: 0
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