Avocado Pineapple Refresher

The other morning, while making my favorite weekday breakfast, it occurred to me that I eat avocado at least once a day in the spring/summer. They’re just so delicious and nothing can really compare to the flavor and texture of a ripe avocado.

Now I know some people might say, “Karman, avocados have a lot of calories and are full of fat”. Well, let’s look at the facts: 1/4 of an avocado contains 60 calories and 6 grams of total fat (4 grams are monounsaturated & 1 gram polyunsaturated). Mono- and polyunsaturated fats are the good fats that our bodies need to help keep our low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels in check and increase our high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels, which is what we want for optimal heart health. Avocados are naturally cholesterol and sodium-free, and are great for replacing high-fat foods like mayonnaise or full-fat dairy products. The Hass Avocado Board is a wealth of information on the beautiful avocado if you’re in search of recipes or more information on how to select, cut, and store avocados.

The creamy texture of avo’s are perfect for smoothie-making. And because this recipe uses an whole small avocado, it makes for a filling breakfast. What’s your favorite way to enjoy avocados?

avo smoothie2avocado

Avocado Pineapple Refresher

Ingredients
1 small avocado, sliced
3/4 cup pineapple chunks, fresh or canned in own juice
4 oz. coconut milk (from a carton, not a can) or 1% milk, optional
1/2 cup crushed ice
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. agave nectar

Directions
1. In a blender, combine all ingredients until smooth. Serve immediately.

avo smoothie

Nutrition-Facts-Chart

Pear Coconut Bread

The past few weeks, Sundays have been for baking. And there’s a routine for Sunday Baking Days. First, I’ll fix a good breakfast and read something interesting/inspiring. Second, decide what tunes will fuel the baking process. I CAN NOT bake without music. Anybody else feel that way? In general, if it’s a sunny Sunday morning, I’ll go with classic rock. If it’s raining, I like something a little more laid back, like Ben Howard. Once the Pandora station is going, I rummage through the pantry and refrigerator to figure out what will be thrown together. Baking is a great way to get rid of items you may have purchased for something in particular and then never thought about using again, or for ingredients that just come in larger-than-necessary quantities (unless you bake all the time). You know, items like dried cranberries, chopped nuts, shredded coconut, canned pumpkin leftover from fall, etc. It’s fun to just pull a bunch of things out of your pantry to create something fabulous. And you’ve accomplished two different tasks!

pear coconut bread

Anyways, Pear Coconut Bread is a new recipe for me but I’m very happy with the results. It is a healthier quick bread because of the White Whole Wheat flour in place of all-purpose flour and I reduced the amount of oil typically needed by adding Greek yogurt for moisture.

I highly suggest a cup of coffee to pair with your thick slice of Pear Coconut Bread. Yum…toasty coconut :)

toasted coconut

Pear Coconut Bread


Ingredients
1/2 cup shredded coconut
2 cups White Whole Wheat Flour, sifted
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
2 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp. coconut extract
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 pear
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Spread shredded coconut on a baking sheet and toast in oven for 10 minutes, stirring halfway through. Once coconut is done toasting, increase oven temperature to 350°F and grease one 9×5 loaf pan.
2. While coconut is toasting, in a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, and cardamom. Make a well in the flour mixture.
3. In a stand mixer, combine eggs and sugar. Then add coconut oil, Greek yogurt, coconut extract, and vanilla extract.
4. Dice pear into 1/4 inch cubes and set aside.
5. Pour wet mixture into dry mixture and mix with a spatula until just combined. Add in diced pear, walnuts, and toasted coconut, being careful to not over mix.
6. Pour batter into loaf pan*, place in oven and bake for approximately 65 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and the middle of the loaf is set.
7. Allow bread to sit for about 15 minutes before removing from pan and placing on a cooling rack.

*Note: Batter may be thicker than most quick breads, especially if the coconut oil starts to cool and return to a solid state. Coconut oil solidifies at about 76°F.

Pasta Puttanesca for Mr. R

Originally, this recipe was written for Food & Nutrition and it didn’t have much significance to me; it isn’t a secret family recipe and there isn’t anything unique about this recipe. It was simply a new recipe to experiment with. But at the time I was testing this recipe, I was working with the geriatric population in a skilled nursing facility. One of my patients, an Italian man who had worked in fine dining restaurants his entire life, was less than impressed with the facility’s menu and it was to the point that I would go see him about every meal to make sure he was eating something. Each time I went, though, we would end up talking about our favorite foods, the restaurants we had worked in, and his health. So the weekend after I had tested the Pasta Puttanesca recipe, I offered to make some for him.

pasta puttanesca

I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous for someone to try a dish I prepared, but he loved it. From then on, I made sure he had Pasta Puttanesca whenever he wanted it. He went home not too long after that, but I wrote the recipe down so his daughter could prepare it for him.

Food is powerful. We are all connected by it….young and old, every culture, rich and poor. Food can help us heal, both physically and mentally. And sometimes food is comfort.

This recipe is for Mr. R :)

Pasta Puttanesca


Ingredients
Spaghetti, cooked (enough for 2 people)
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 anchovies, rinsed and chopped
2 cups kale, chopped
¼ cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1 ½ cups Homemade Marinara Sauce (recipe below)
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh basil

Directions
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add anchovies and kale, sauté for 5 minutes. Add olives and tomato sauce and cook for 5 minutes. Turn heat to low, and add cooked spaghetti to skillet with sauce, stirring to coat pasta. Serve with parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

Homemade Marinara Sauce
Makes 3.5 cups

Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced fine
½ cup finely chopped carrots
½ small onion, finely chopped
1 28-oz. can Cento San Marzano peeled tomatoes
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
¼ tsp. sea salt
Black pepper to taste
Dash of red pepper flakes
6 fresh basil leaves, minced
1 sprig fresh rosemary, minced (stem removed)
1 sprig fresh oregano, minced (stem removed)

Directions
Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat and sauté garlic, carrots and onions for 10 minutes. Add in tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Simmer on medium-low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and breaking apart tomatoes with a wooden utensil throughout cooking process. Mix in fresh herbs, turn off heat and allow to sit for five minutes. Sauce can be stored in refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Berry Italian Cream Soda

This is a special treat.

Growing up in the grand city of Van Wert, Ohio, we had one coffee shop. This was before the days of a Starbucks on every corner. The coffee shop was locally owned and I thought it was one of the coolest places in town. It’s where my friends and I would go for lunch in high school because it was just one block away. At that time I didn’t appreciate coffee, so I discovered all of the non-coffee beverages on the menu: steamers, chai lattes, and best of all, Italian Cream Sodas. Oh my goodness. Made with half-and-half cream, club soda (or sometimes Sprite), and typically artificial berry syrups, this decadent beverage doesn’t have much to offer as far as nutritional value. But you can do yourself a favor by making them at home with a fresh berry syrup and you can control the amount of half-and-half that goes in. If you aren’t feeling the half-and-half cream, just skip it. Viola! Now you have an Italian Soda. Mind blowing, I know.

My love for small, locally owned coffee shops continues to this day, although now I appreciate the true craft and heavenly joy of coffee. But there will always be a special place for Italian Cream Sodas in my heart :)


Berry Italian Cream Soda


Ingredients
2 cups blackberries and blueberries, frozen or fresh
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Club Soda
Half-and-Half cream

Directions
1. In a saucepan, combine berries and sugar over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t burn. Mash berries with a wooden spoon. Cook for 10 minutes.
2. Place a mesh strainer in a small bowl and pour berry syrup into strainer to separate liquid. Mash berries with a spoon to remove all liquid. Save the berry remains to use in smoothies, oatmeal, or on top of pancakes/waffles!
3. Allow berry syrup to cool.
4. When ready to serve, add ice to a glass, then 3 Tbsp. of berry syrup. Add about 6 oz. of club soda, or as mush as desired, then add half-and-half to your preference (I used about 3 Tbsp–I told you this was a treat!). Mix well.


Ahhh….refreshing.

{Recipe Redux} Curried Squash & Chickpea Cakes

March is flying by. The Recipe Redux team is playing with patties this month to create stacks, on stacks….on stacks. Veggie stacks, potato patties, towering tuna burgers, chickpea cakes. You get the idea. It’s PATTY time.Curry Squash-Pea Patties4

These little guys were fun to make and don’t require too much time. The butternut squash is roasted with curry powder prior to being added to the cakes to help impart a deeper curry flavor. And let me tell you, it was quite difficult to not eat all of the roasted curry squash before adding it to the cakes–it just smells so good! You can serve these cakes as a party appetizer or as a side to a meal–I’m thinking along side a nice piece of grilled salmon! Or you could do what I did and eat them for breakfast with a fried egg on top. I dare you to try it. You shall not be disappointed.
Curry Squash-Pea Patties6

Let’s get a quick rundown of the nutrients bundled up in these cakes:
Chickpeas {fiber, protein, iron, manganese}
Butternut Squash {vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber}
Kale {vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, calcium}
Red Onion {fiber, flavonoids}
Curry Powder {antioxidants}

Curried Squash & Chickpea Cakes

Ingredients
1 butternut squash, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick
Olive oil
1 tsp. + 1/2 tsp. curry powder, divided
1 cup finely chopped kale
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
15 oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
Pinch of salt
Coconut oil

For Curry Yogurt Dipping Sauce
3 oz. plain Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. fresh lime juice

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 425F. Lightly drizzle sliced squash with olive oil and sprinkle 1 teaspoon of curry powder over squash. Roast in oven for 25 minutes, turning squash over half way through cooking. Remove squash from oven and let cool, then roughly chop. While squash is roasting, finely chop kale and red onion.

2. In a food processor, roughly chop garbanzo beans. Most of the beans should be chopped but you should still have some whole beans remaining.

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine chopped garbanzo beans, chopped squash, kale, red onion, garlic powder and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of curry powder. Mix well.

4. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, reduce heat to medium before adding chickpea cakes. Form small cakes using about 1 1/2 tablespoons of mixture–the cakes should be about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick. Add about 6 cakes to the skillet, being careful to not overcrowd the skillet. Cook cakes for 4 minutes on each side, or until cakes are brown and slightly crispy on each side. Add more coconut oil to the pan as needed.

5. Place cakes on a cooling rack lined with paper towels before serving. Cakes can be reheated in the microwave–just heat for about 10 seconds. Serve with Curry Yogurt Dipping Sauce.

For Curry Yogurt Dipping Sauce
1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Keep refrigerated until use.


Don’t forget to see all the other great patty/cake creations by clicking on the blue frog below! Happy Spring everyone!

 

{Meals for One} Veggie Lover’s Stuffed Zucchini

One of the questions I’m frequently asked is “How can I make healthy meals at home for just myself?”, with the main concern being food waste. That can be a legitimate concern, but with a little bit of menu planning and recipe adjusting, there’s no reason why those of us who cook for just ourselves can’t eat healthfully!

Pinterest is a great site for recipe inspiration to get the menu planning process started. My Pinterest board “Meals for One” can be your jumping off point, along with this tasty recipe for Veggie Lover’s Stuffed Zucchini. Look for recipes that use similar fresh ingredients since those are the most perishable items at risk of being wasted. For example, this Stuffed Zucchini recipe uses kale, so I would plan to make other dishes containing kale, like this Kale & Bacon Scramble Bowl for breakfast, or make green smoothies for post-workout snacks. The dish also uses cauliflower, so Cauliflower & Chickpea Masala would fit in nicely with the weekly meal plan.

I’ll be posting more of my favorite solo meals and would love to hear what y’all love to cook at home when it’s just you!

zucchini pre-baking

Veggie Lover's Stuffed Zucchini


Ingredients
1 medium zucchini
1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
1 cup chopped cauliflower
1 cup finely chopped kale
1/2 tsp. Mrs. Dash Garlic Herb seasoning
1/8 tsp. Salt
Black pepper, to taste
Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out inner flesh to make a well. Place zucchini halves on a baking sheet and lightly drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes.
zucchini
2. While the zucchini is in the oven, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, red onion, and mushrooms and saute for 3 minutes.
3. Add cauliflower to skillet and cook for 5 minutes.
4. Add kale, Mrs. Dash seasoning, salt, and black pepper, stirring to combine.
5. Spoon vegetable mixture into the zucchini halves and top with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until zucchini is tender and cheese is melted.

zucchini post-baking

Oscar-Worthy Party Foods

Sunday night is Oscar night. Although I don’t take much interest in award shows, I do take interest in any reason to have people over for some delicious food. The Oscars make for a great excuse to create unique menu items inspired by the films that have been nominated.

So let’s turn to the world wide web for some Oscar-worthy bites you can serve at your own gathering. The nominees are….

1. Nebraska: I only think of one thing when I hear “Nebraska” and that’s corn. Hot + Cheesy Corn Dip from How Sweet It Is
2. Dallas Buyer’s Club: Because Texas is all about steak, try this Steak Bruschetta from Christina Ferrare
3. American Hustle: I’m reaching with this one, by you’ll love this Double Apple-”Brustle” Slaw :) from Food & Wine
4. Captain Phillips: Meet Captain Morgan in this Rum Clementine Cocktail from Jelly Toast
5. Her: Even more alluring than the voice in your iPhone, you’ll certainly fall in love with Roasted Cherry Dark Chocolate Brownies from Pastry Affair

{Recipe Redux} Gingered Wheatgrass Tea


It’s Recipe Redux time! I’ve missed out on the past two Redux challenges, but this month the RR crew is breaking out the cocktail shakers, blenders, and favorite glassware to celebrate the wide world of beverages. Because bevs are totes in right now* (I’ve jumped on the abbreviation bandwagon, so bear with me).

Rummaging through my cabinets for inspiration, I remembered the wheatgrass powder I purchased at Whole Foods awhile ago. I didn’t buy it for any certain purpose, I just loved the beautiful green color and figured I could find something to do with it at some point. Many people often add fresh or powdered wheatgrass to juices or smoothies, or just take a shot of it by itself. But whisked into hot water with a bit of ginger syrup, it’s a soothing, earthy, good-for-you hot beverage. And thus you have Wheatgrass Tea…it’s just that simple. If you like matcha tea, you will probably enjoy wheatgrass tea as well.

Wheatgrass contains a concentrated amount of nutrients such as iron, calcium, magnesium, and the super-duper antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E, which are important for the immune system and so much more. The chlorophyll in wheatgrass is one of the main reasons people choose to add it into their diets, believing that the nutrient will help with improve blood oxygenation and relieve arthritis, but much more research is needed on the actual health benefits.

For more beverage inspiration, be sure to click on the blue frog at the end of this post! ♥ K

*Translation: Beverages are totally in right now. 

Gingered Wheatgrass Tea

Ingredients
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. agave nectar
1/4 tsp. Wheatgrass powder
8 oz. boiling water

Directions

1. In a small bowl, whisk together ginger powder and agave nectar to make a syrup.
2. In a coffee mug, add wheatgrass powder, then add boiling water. Mix in ginger syrup to desired taste.


 

Recipes to Love

Happy Valentine’s Day! Even if you don’t partake in the gift-giving, flower-sending, commercialized part of Valentine’s Day, it’s still a great opportunity to take the time to tell those you love just how much you care about them, because most people don’t do it often enough (myself included). Embrace the day and share your love by making one of these loveable recipes. And then do your very best to make it a routine. Much love and gratitude to those who read my blog! ♥ Karman

1. Show just how much you care for the special people in your life with these waffles. They’re good for you…but you’d never know it! {100 Days of Real Food}
2. With only 5 ingredients, who wouldn’t fall in love with this recipe for Strawberry Salad with Almonds & Feta {Robin’s Bite}
3. Salted Goji Berry Dark Chocolate Bar–sounds fancy, looks fancy, but doesn’t involve any fancy technique! {The Sweet Life}
4. I’ll take two of these, please. Cherry Spritzer Ice Cream Float {Peanut Butter & Peppers}
5. Spice things up with this easy-to-make Spicy Kale Lasagna {Annie’s Eats}

Mediterranean-Inspired Pistachio Cheese Plate

In-Shell Pistachios + Spanish Cheese + Fresh Pears + Honey

cheese plate

With yesterday’s Pistachio post, I invited you to join me in traveling to a tropical place. Today, we travel to the Mediterranean along the coast of Spain.

Or pretend to at least. Hey, you have to work with what you  have.

Manchego is a hard, Spanish cheese made of sheep’s milk, and was the inspiration behind this Mediterranean pistachio pairing. But other Spanish cheeses such as Iberico or Azeitao pair nicely with this Mediterranean sampler. For a simple but fancy party appetizer that is sure to impress a crowd, a cheese plate is the way to go and you can use this pairing as a jumping off point. Feature in-shell pistachios, several cheeses (a couple hard and a couple semi-soft cheeses), fresh fruit (pears, figs, dates, and then have a variety of honeys or jams. Throw in some good wine and….Viola! Your friends will start calling you Martha Stewart.

People who consumed in-shell pistachios ate 41 percent fewer calories than those who consumed pistachios without shells.2  Why you ask? The shells can serve as a visual cue as to how many pistachios you’ve consumed – thereby potentially encouraging reduced calorie consumption. For more pistachio pairings, click the blue frog at the end of this post and be sure to check out www.PistachioHealthInstitute.org.

By posting this pairing I am entering a contest sponsored by Pistachio Health Institute and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.