Archive for the ‘Cooking & Menu Tips’ Category

For years I’ve had the philosophy to not eat sweets often, but when I wanted them to have the real thing. So I’m not sure what made me decide I wanted to start coming up with some healthy alternatives to sweets.

Anyway, I’ve started being interested in seeing what snacks I could make that satisfied my sweet tooth, but that I felt good about eating (in moderation). I got the base recipe for these No-bake granola bars from other food sensitivity dietitians.

Besides being reasonably a healthy treat, these bars are extremely flexible. I do food sensitivity testing, and these bars can be adapted for the sweeteners, grains and nuts that are best tolerated by an individual.

Rye is one of my best tolerated grains, so I made these 50% oat and 50% rye. You don’t taste the rye in this combination (or even when I cook it as a breakfast food).  But if you tolerate oats well, that is an easy grain to use and easily available.

I hope you enjoy these!

No- Bake Oatmeal bars

Heat in saucepan over low heat until well blended:

1/3 cup molasses
½ cup honey
¼ cup coconut oil
1 cup soynut butter (or peanut butter, hazelnut, sunflower butter, tahini)
1 heaping tablespoon cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl:
3 cups oatmeal (or blend of rye or other flakes)
½ cup each:
Coconut (preferably unsweetened)
Sesame seeds
Sunflower seeds(or pumpkin seeds)
Pecans (or walnuts, almonds, pistachio, etc)
1 cup dried fruit (like dried cranberries)

Blend together, press into an oiled 9 x 13 in pan and refrigerate. These will keep well in the refrigerator or freezer, but are best cold. They are okay at room temperature – they just don’t hold their shape.

The ingredients are really flexible. This batch came out especially good. The coconut oil is solid at room temperature. It combines with the cocoa powder (and honey) to taste like chocolate! It would probably still be good with a little less honey. I cut back the original recipe here, and it was plenty sweet.


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One of the fun things about being on an elimination diet has been trying different combinations of foods. I hadn’t realized how often I used the same groups of ingredients. Now I’m using new ones.

Hazelnut butter has been one of the particularly interesting finds. It adds a lovely creamy texture to soups and stir-fry’s. The taste is subtle, adding depth but not taking over.

Hazelnut butter can be hard to find. I looked in several stores before I found it. You could also add other nut butters. Peanut butter is a more common addition to foods, but you could also use almond, cashew or walnut butters. One nice thing about Hazelnut is that it blends in so easily.

This recipe is for a soup I made during phase 1 (the strictest phase) of my elimination diet. My foods were very limited, so I had to get creative about what I could use. Of course you could substitute for just about any ingredient.

The surprising thing about this soup is that Bill gave it an A+ – so don’t think that you have to eat poorly on an elimination diet!  I actually made it with leftover beef (since that was a phase 1 food for me and I had so few choices), but I think it would be even better with chicken or tofu.

Hazelnut Chicken (or tofu) Soup

½ package buckwheat soba noodles (or other pasta)
2 onions thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sesame oil (or other oil)
1-2 tablespoon distilled white vinegar (or other vinegar)
2 tablespoons orange juice (or white wine or broth)
1 cup cubed, cooked, chicken (good for left-overs) – or firm tofu
4 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 small can (6 oz) tomato juice
2 cups water
½ tsp salt
¼ cup hazelnut butter (or other nut butter)
1 cup frozen peas (or other vegetables, I used sugar snap peas)

Start water boiling for pasta – and cook pasta while preparing the rest of the soup. It is okay if it is done slightly ahead of time. Slightly undercook it since it will be cooked a little more in the soup.

Sauté onion over low heat until starts to brown and stick. Add vinegar and continue to sauté. As onions are starting to get very soft, add tomatoes, chicken or tofu and OJ and stir occasionally for 5 more minutes.

Add tomato juice and water, and increase heat a little until simmering.  Add nut butter and salt; stir until well blended. 

Chop pasta a couple times to make more bite-size, and add to soup.
Add peas (or other vegetable) and continue cooking just until barely done.

Find more nutrition information, my Mindful Eating CD, and my monthly newsletter on my website:  http://healthyhabitscoach.com.  Eat well!

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I am still on my elimination diet (which is going really well – I have a normal gut again, which I never thought was possible!) That means that I couldn’t eat this myself at the moment, but I wanted to post this recipe that I developed shortly before starting the elimination diet:

Here is a recipe I made when a friend brought me a big, beautiful batch of chard form his garden. I made chard spaghetti. It is a little unusual, but delicious.

Chard Spaghetti
1 T butter & 1 T oil (maybe even a little more, I was generous since it was vegetarian and I wanted it to taste good)
1 onion in slivers
Chard stems, ½ inch slices
½ jalapeño (I would have used more if I had it), seeded and finely chopped
1 carrot, grated
½ turnip, grated
~1-2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
3 cloves of garlic, pressed
1 pear, chopped
1/3 cup pine nuts
~8 – 10 cups chopped chard (I used the whole bag of the smaller stuff)
1 lemon, both zest and juice
Liquids:  ¼ cup white wine, ¼ cup chicken broth, splashes of cider vinegar and seasoned rice vinegar
Whole Wheat spaghetti
Serve with grated parmesan cheese

Start the water for the pasta.

I started by sautéing the onion. When that was pretty soft (I really love onion that is well cooked), I added the stems.  Then after a few minutes I added the jalapeno, carrot, turnip, ginger and garlic. Then the pear and pine nuts. Somewhere along here as the oil/butter was mostly absorbed into the veggies, I added the wine. I wanted that to have enough time to cook off the alcohol.

Put the pasta on when the water boils. I did most of my chopping while the water was heating, and started cooking before it was fully ready – so the stir fry probably ended up taking about 15 – 20 minutes total to sauté.

I added the chard for the last 5-6 minutes, and added the broth and vinegars and covered it. Right at the end I squeezed on the lemon.

Serve it over the whole wheat pasta.

I used to toss my stir-fry’s and pasta together, but now I mostly use the sauce as a topping. That way we tend to eat less of the pasta and more of the topping (vegetables).

It also seems to be more moist when served this way.

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I like to think I’m famous (in my circle of friends)  for my delicious salads. The options are endless and offer a fun and healthy palate for creativity. I enjoy adding things that you don’t expect to find in a salad.

You can use any base for a salad. Here I use a variety of greens (but no lettuce!) I recently posted a salad using beets as a base and other options include black or white beans, sweet potatoes, wheat berries, quinoa, brown rice or whole wheat pasta. The possibilities are endless.

I also frequently make what I call chopped salads: a variety of vegetables which may only include some thinly sliced greens (often kale) for accent. This post features a green salad with a twist.

This is a salad that I made recently for my bookgroup. I usually use pretty bowls, but for this I was making too much to fit in them so I used one of my metal mixing bowls. The inside was still gorgeous.

Healthy Mixed Greens Salad
Spinach, rinsed and roughly chopped
Cabbage, thinly sliced (a combination of red and green is nice)
Radicchio, thinly sliced
Kale, thinly sliced (lacinato is nice, but any kind will work)
¼  small Red onion, thinly sliced
1 stock Celery, thinly sliced
1 carrot and ½ turnip: thinly sliced or julienned with a mandolin
1 orange, peeled and diced
¼ cup slivered almonds
¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled
Optional: 1 cup cooked wheatberries
¼ cup Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing

Fill a big bowl halfway with the various greens (around 6-8 cups), add the other ingredients and toss.

The beauty of using some combination of these greens is that the salad will still be good the next day.  Arugula and/or mustard greens would also be nice if you enjoy a little bite. The turnip gives it a little spice, similar to radishes.

I love the combination of oranges and almonds in a salad this time of year. The wheatberries will make it a heartier salad and add interest. Cook them in a rice cooker or on top of the stove: 1 cup wheatberries to 3 ½ – 4 cups water. Allow 2 hours to cook, but if cooking on the stovetop, check sooner. They freeze well, so make a batch to have on hand!

As time goes on, I find I tend to chop my salads in smaller pieces than is typical. I like the way the flavors blend this way. There are foods that I enjoy when thinly sliced, like the onions and turnips, that I don’t like when in big chunks.




Balsamic Vinaigrette
2/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon honey or agave – optional

Other optional extras: garlic, shallots, dried herbs.

You can also make this lower fat by making it half-and-half oil and vinegar. Try replacing part of the vinegar with lemon juice to soften the acid flavor.

Find more nutrition information, my Mindful Eating CD, and my monthly newsletter on my website:  http://healthyhabitscoach.com.  Eat well!

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This is one of those salads that whispered to me. I had beets in the refrigerator that needed to be cooked. While they were cooking, the other ingredients assembled themselves in my mind. I just did as they suggested, and it was good!

Beet and Orange Salad
2 medium-sized beets, cooked and chopped
½ red onion, thinly sliced
1 stock celery, thinly sliced
1 orange, peeled and chopped
1 oz feta cheese, crumbled
1 Tablespoon chopped walnuts
2-3 tablespoons of Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing

Mix all the ingredients and enjoy.

You can buy precooked beets now at Trader Joes, or you can easily cook them yourself by boiling, roasting or cooking in the pressure cooker. One easy technique is to scrub and trim the beet, wrap in foil and bake until a knife goes into it easily (timing depends on size, allow 45 – 60 minutes).

I use the pressure cooker, and cook medium size beets for 15 minutes. The beet is easy to peel as it cools, but I leave the skin on for the extra nutrients.

While the beets were cooking, I chopped the other ingredients – starting with the onions, which I let marinate in the salad dressing. I added the beets while they were still hot, stirred and served.

One thing I did differently this time was to chop everything, including the beets, fairly small. I like this technique because it blends the flavors really well. The salad is probably prettier with big chunks, but I like the taste better with smaller pieces.

Another consideration about the appearance is the way the beet juice makes everything red. You could probably avoid this by mixing everything but the beets together and spooning the mixture over the chopped beets. Or you could use yellow beets. I don’t mind the discoloration, so I just mixed it all together.

Find more nutrition information, my Mindful Eating CD, and my monthly newsletter on my website:  http://healthyhabitscoach.com.  Eat well!

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I had never tried roasting mushrooms until I received a gift basket of exotic mushrooms from friends. It came from Gourmet Mushrooms, Inc (www.mycopia.com). What a treat!

This is a picture of the mushroom basket; we’d already had one dinner from it when I remembered to take the picture.

As an experiment, I took a variety of mushrooms from the basket, roughly chopped them and roasted them while the polenta baked. It was a great yoga-night dinner. I put the polenta in the oven before I left, and gave Bill instructions of when to put the mushrooms in. By time I came home the house smelled heavenly.

I remade this dish with regular grocery store mushrooms (although I must say, our local Shelton’s Market carries a nicer-then-usual variety), and they still were really good. I also made polenta with both grocery store polenta (a coarse grind corn meal) and corn meal. With both the mushrooms and polenta/cornmeal, if this was the only way you’d had it, it would be good.

The gourmet mushrooms and freshly ground cornmeal of our original dinner made it great.

See my March newsletter for more about mushrooms and why they are worth including in your diet on a regular basis. I’m finishing up the newsletter this week, so it will be available by the end of the week. You can check my website or sign up for the free newsletter to have it delivered to your email address.

Roasted Mushrooms over Baked Polenta

Start with the polenta, which cooks longer. The length of cooking time will depend on the corn meal used. Most polentas and cornmeal take an hour to bake. If you use freshly ground cornmeal, it will take 2 hours. It is really, really worth it!

Baked Polenta:
1 cup polenta or corn meal
4 cups water
1 tablespoon butter
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup grated parmesan cheese

Stir the water into the polenta. Add salt and butter. Bake in a casserole dish at 350 degrees. Stir after about 10 – 15 minutes to mix in butter. Stir in parmesan cheese towards the last 30 minutes of baking.
Bake 1 hour with regular polenta or cornmeal.
Bake for 2 hours if using freshly ground cornmeal (available at Tierra Vegetables)

Roasted Mushrooms:
¾ # mushrooms*, sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon red or white wine or broth
1 teaspoon soy sauce

Put the mushrooms, onion and garlic in a baking dish. Mix the oil, vinegar, wine or broth and soy sauce and pour over the vegetables. Stir well and bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes. Stir once or twice during roasting.

*You can make this with any type or combination of fresh mushrooms. The exotic mushrooms in our gift basket were fantastic. I made this again with ½ shiitake mushrooms and half button mushrooms and it was still very good.
Find more nutrition information, my Mindful Eating CD, and my monthly newsletter on my website:  http://healthyhabitscoach.com.  Eat well!

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My February newsletter gives suggestions about how to make meal planning easy. Here are easy recipes for your menus. These are all past posts; some of which you may recognize.

This is the first time I’ve grouped my posted recipes this way. It is interesting to see what’s there. I typically post when I try something new that I like.

These are mostly vegetarian recipe since that is how I eat most of the time. If that is not your preference, you can always add a little seafood, poultry or meat to these dishes.

Please forgive the odd spacing – I had some difficulties in getting all these links right.

Soups and Stews:
Mushroom Barley Soup

Lima Bean and Celery Stew

Simple Split Pea Soup

North African Pumpkin Stew

Tomato and White Bean Stew

Winter Squash Soup

White Bean Soup

Vegetarian Entree’s:
Stuffed Kabocha Pumpkin

Very Veggie Tamale Pie

Roasted Tomato Sauce

Bok Choy Frittata

Frittata Variation with Greens

Super Easy Garbanzo Bean Masala

Chiles Stuffed with Winter Squash

Greens and Polenta

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Shiitakes and Greens

Barbequed Veggie Pasta

Rice and Lentil Bowl

Stir Fry Zucchini Surprise

Beans, Rice and Salsa

Tasty Seafood Stew

BBQ Wild Salmon

Chicken or Turkey Entrée’s:
Kathy’s Favorite Grilled Chicken

Turkey Picadillo

Baked Chicken with Wholegrain Coating

Quick Chicken Cassoulet

Barbeque Chicken with Ancho Chili Marinade

Asian Turkey Meatloaf with a Secret Ingredient

Meat Entrée’s:
Mediterranean Meatloaf with Lamb 

Nearly Guilt Free Hamburgers

Find more nutrition information, my Mindful Eating CD, and my monthly newsletter on my website:  http://healthyhabitscoach.com.  Eat well!

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