Monday, November 5, 2012

Chickpea-Tomato Soup

The blog is back!!

I took a long, long hiatus for a variety of reasons, but I'm feeling inspired lately and want to try a fresh approach. 

The two biggest reasons I hear from people trying to be healthy are 1.) Eating well is too expensive and 2.) cooking takes too much time. 

Well, I found a recipe that solves BOTH issues.  I love soup during the fall and winter, but I usually opt for homemade--that way I control the ingridients and ESPECIALLY the sodium.

Thanks to my favorite veganist, Kathy Freston for this one!  It's creamy, healthy and CHEAP!  I'm not a vegan, but I can't argue with delicious!    

My notes are in italics.

Almost-Instant Chickpea-Tomato Soup
(Took me about 15 minutes from start to finish--EASY!)
[less than $1/serving]
Serves 4
This creamy rich-tasting soup couldn’t be easier or more economical. It’s also good served chilled.

1 1/2 cups cooked or 1 (15.5-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 (14.5-ounce) can crushed or diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup plain unsweetened soy milk (or other non-dairy milk) (I used almond milk because that's what I prefer)
Salt (I also added black pepper)
Ground cayenne (Be careful here.  You may not taste it right away, but the flavor comes out as the soup heats up.  Don't burn your mouth out!)
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro or parsley
1. In a high-speed blender or food processor, combine the chickpeas and garlic and process until finely ground.
2. Add the tomatoes, cumin, juice, oil, 1/2 cup of the soy milk, and salt and cayenne, to taste. Blend until smooth.
3. Add as much of the remaining 1/2 cup of soy milk as needed to achieve desired consistency—not too thin or too thick—and blend until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding more salt and cayenne, if necessary.
4. Transfer the soup to a saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring, until hot, about 5 minutes. If serving hot, ladle into bowls, top with minced cilantro, and serve at once. If serving chilled, let the soup cool to room temperature, then transfer to a serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 3 hours. Then ladle into soup bowls and garnish with the cilantro.
Splurge a Little: Garnish with chopped pitted kalamata olives.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Bananas about Muffins!

I think most people will agree that a freshly baked muffin is a fantastic morning treat.  But a lot of muffins from the store, from Starbucks--and even sometimes from scratch--can be loaded with fat and calories. 

A couple of years ago I stumbled upon this banana chocolate chip muffin recipe and it changed my life.  Loaded with fiber, low in fat and sugar and DELICIOUS.  They're a huge hit with my friends, family and coworkers.  Oh, and did I mention they're only 200 calories? 

The main key in this recipe is that you put a FEW chocolate chips on top as opposed to mixing a whole bag into the batter.  I like to push one or two down into the batter in each individual muffin though--gives a little more chocolate-y taste INSIDE the muffin.  :)

**Note I leave out the nuts sometimes and always use DARK chocolate chips (when I leave the nuts out I add a 5th chip. ;) ) 


Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Make this "Cook Yourself Thin" recipe.Serves 12
Calories per serving: 200

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 ripe banana, mashed
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups reduced-fat buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a 12-muffin tray with paper liners. Set aside.
2. In a standing mixer, combine the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, rolled oats, ground cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt and mashed banana, and blend on low speed for 2 minutes. Add the walnuts, brown sugar, vegetable oil, eggs and reduced-fat buttermilk, and blend for 2 minutes on medium speed. Add the vanilla extract and mix until well combined.

3. Using an ice cream scoop, portion the batter evenly into the muffin tin, and top each muffin with 3 to 4 chocolate chips. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Once muffins are baked through, remove them from the oven and let cool. Serve.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Healthy Black Bean Dip!

March is my favorite time of year, mostly because of the NCAA tournament.

So, with all the game-watching and St. Patrick's Day festivities, it's really easy for calories to get away from you. 

I came up with this dip because I wanted something easy that I wouldn't feel guilty about eating.  It's delicious, creamy and best of all--has ZERO fat, tons of fiber and even protein! 

Serve with veggies or whole wheat pitas

How To:

1.) Rinse and drain 1 can of black beans
2.) Peel 1-2 cloves of garlic and chop each in a few large pieces
3.) Put garlic and beans in food processor--salt and pepper to taste
4.) Process to desired consistency
5.) SERVE!

**Optional:  If you want to add extra vitamins and fiber, feel free to add a couple of handfuls of fresh spinach.  It will make more dip and change the color to be more green--but still delicious! 


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Citrus Chicken in a Bag

I know, weird name.  But once you read the recipe, you'll see why it's so fitting! 

This is a great one to have on-hand because it's easy, inexpensive, tasty and HEALTHY.  Plus, it's way more delicious than regular old chicken and broccoli.  You can make it outdoors on your grill or indoors on a grill pan or in a skillet.  (I HIGHLY recommend investing in a grill pan, especially if you live in an apartment.  Trust me.  Being able to grill year-round and/or indoors will change your life) 


What you'll need:

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast per person
1 orange
1 lime
1 lemon
Garlic (2 or 3 cloves--your preference)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Fresh or frozen broccoli--whatever you have on hand
2 large re-sealable plastic bags, one inside the other (big enough to hold 2 chicken breasts)


1.) Mince garlic and add to plastic bag
2.) Add a couple of splashes of olive oil into the plastic bag
3.) Place raw chicken breasts inside bag
4.) Zest the lemon, lime and orange and add zest to the bag
5.) Juice the orange into bag (if you don't feel there's enough juice, feel free the juice from a 2nd orange)
6.) Sprinkle in salt and pepper (about 1 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp pepper)
7.) Seal plastic bags and move chicken around so everything mixes and coats the chicken breasts.  Allow to marinate for at least 15 minutes--but the longer the better (up to 24 hours)!
8.) Heat grill or grill pan until it's (of course) screaming hot
9.) Take chicken out of the bag and place directly on the grill, cooking until desired level of done-ness
10.) While meat cooks, make the broccoli.  I usually do frozen, so that means sticking it in the microwave for about 3-3 1/2 minutes
11.) While 9 and 10 are happening, juice the lemon and lime into a separate small bowl.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper and then whisk with a fork while streaming in some olive oil (about 1/2 tsp or so)
12.)  When broccoli is done, pour dressing over it and toss
13.) Once the meat is done cooking, plate it and allow it to rest (covered) for a few minutes to allow the juices to redistribute
14.) Put some chicken and some broccoli on your plate. 
15.) Enjoy! 

**Optional side dish:  lemon basil pasta

What you'll need:
1/2 pound of any long pasta (whole wheat preferred)
1 lemon, zested and juiced
Fresh basil

1.) I hope you know how to make pasta, but in case you don't--boil some water and put the pasta in the boiling water and cook for about 7-9 minutes.

2.) Drain pasta and mix with lemon zest and juice.

3.) Tear fresh basil and add it to the pasta


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Wigs Original Recipe

Greetings all!

Sorry I've slacked in the posting department...but allow me to share one of my absolute FAVORITE recipes (and one I made up all by myself)! 

I call it the Quinoa Veggie Bowl! 

I know what some of you are thinking:  what the heck IS quinoa?  And more importantly, why am I telling you to eat it? 

Quinoa has long been classified as a "super food"--meaning it's pretty much perfect in terms of nutritional value.  Most people think of it as a grain--but it's actually a seed.  Additionally, it contains all 9 amino acids, which makes it a complete protein.  It's easily digestable, gluten-free and pretty inexpensive.  One cup of quinoa yields about 4 servings cooked (and way more when you add all these veggies).  So here you go...


1.) 1 c quinoa

2.) Any vegetables you like--and as much as you want.  This is a great way to use up any fresh vegetables you have on hand (especially at the end of the week when you need to eat them or they'll go bad), BUT you can also make use of the frozen vegetables in your freezer.  I've used broccoli, asparagus, peppers, carrots, corn, soybeans and eggplant.  With that many vegetables, I do about a handful of each.

3.) The zest and juice of 1 lemon (optional)

4.) Fresh herbs--basil, chives, parsley, etc. (optional)


1.) Cook quinoa according to package instructions.

2.) While quinoa cooks, saute the veggies in a pan over medium-high heat.  For frozen, I don't put anything in the pan, since the water coming from the frozen veggies is usually enough.  For thicker vegetables, like carrots and broccoli, put them in the pan first and give them a minute or two extra to cook before you add thinner vegetables.  For fresh vegetables, like mushrooms, sautee them in just a splash of olive oil until cooked to desired consistency.  I also like to add brussel sprouts (see previous entry for directions). 

3.) Combine vegetables and quinoa in large bowl.  If desired, zest and juice 1 lemon and mix in with quinoa/vegetables.  Also add in herbs.  I don't usually add any salt or pepper, but if your meal seems naked without them, feel free to sprinkle them in there too.  

4.) Serve hot and enjoy!

(Note:  If you WANT to add some meat--go for it!  Sliced grilled chicken would be a fantastic addition.)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

It's Easy Being Green

I admit I was a weird child, but even when I was growing up, my motto was "the more veggies, the better." 

Now that I'm older, nothing's really changed.  Vegetables should ALWAYS be included as part of your lunch or dinner--and the best part is, there are a ton of options.  Plus, it's ALWAYS healthy.  You get tons of vitamins and fiber without massive amounts of carbohydrates.  Just make sure you're not drenching them in butter or oil or fatty salad dressings--that defeats the purpose.   

Here's a tip from my favorite (Dr. Oz) about salad dressings: 
try an oil-based, reduced-fat dressing

"Look for salad dressings that contain heart-healthy oils like olive or canola oil, and 2 to 4 grams of fat per serving. Two teaspoons (a serving) of this kind of dressing will count for 150 calories; these 150 calories will serve you better than the hundreds more you consume between unhealthy snacks later."
I love pretty much everything, so feel free to pick and choose from any of the ideas below.

1.) "30 second salad":  One of the easiest ways to get your vegetables is to throw together a salad.  For me, this is where a little advance preparation comes in.  Every week when I have fresh veggies and start chopping for a salad, I just chop up everything and drop them in Tupperware containers (I keep different veggies separated).  I also take advantage of bagged lettuce (usually spinach).  My favorite salad toppings are bell peppers (green, red, yellow, and orange) and cucumber and sometimes I'll do mushrooms too.  That way, no matter when I get home, I can ALWAYS have a salad with my meal. 

2.) Frozen anything:  Easy, cheap and long-lasting.  I love frozen broccoli or green beans, frozen peppers, asparagus--really anything that looks good.  My freezer is stocked with different bags of things--I always have a variety of choices and I don't have to worry if I can't eat it all at once.  I just open the bag, put what I want in a microwave-safe bowl, and stick it in the microwave for about 3 minutes.  Occasionally, I add a splash of water for added steam, but usually it isn't necessary.  Add a little salt and pepper and/or a splash of lemon juice for a little extra flavor.  The other way to do it is to just drop the veggies in a skillet with a little olive oil and cook them through--but what's easier than in the micro? 

3.) Brussel Sprouts:  I am a new convert to these, thanks to a coworker (You rule, Sally!).  This one requires slightly more effort (and you can roast them in the oven too, but this is how I like to make them)...but I am happy to do it because they're delish!  First, bring a pot of water to a boil and then drop in the sprouts.  Let them boil for 3-4 until they are bright green and slightly tender.  Drain them, cut them in half and put them in a skillet (with a little olive oil) until they start to char (make sure you do both sides).  I can eat them just like that and a little salt and pepper OR with lemon juice of course.

4.) Carrots on-the-go:  Baby carrots are one of my staples.  I bring some with my lunch almost every day.  Did you know that 3 oz of baby carrots (1 serving) gives you 120% of your daily Vitamin A?!?!  That blew my mind.  And in case you didn't know, Vitamin A is one of the key vitamins that provides anti-oxidants, which are crucial in preventing cancer and aging.  You can buy a big bag and portion it out in snack bags or even sometimes buy individual portions already done for you. 

5.) Fresh pea pods or snow pea pods:  Crunchy and easy to eat...there are bags of them in the veggie aisle and I do the same thing I do with the carrots and portion them out. 

The last thing I would say is MIX IT UP!  Not everyone likes everything, but don't get locked into eating the same thing over and over--that's boring and more importantly, you're more likely to get sick of it and then you won't eat ANY vegetables.  Buy a bag of frozen mixed veggies instead of just broccoli, grab some edamame and boil them in water, grab something fresh and throw it in your cart. 

Also, feel free to leave a comment and share what your favorite vegetable recipes are!   

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Healthy on the Cheap!

One of my favorite things to do on a Sunday evening is make a huge pot of something on the stove, let it simmer and allow the warm, delicious smells fill up my apartment. 

I got this recipe from a Dr. Oz episode featuring plant-based nutrition...It's healthy, delicious and CHEAP.  The best part about it is that if you don't like something in here veggie-wise, you can just leave it out OR swap it for something you do like.  I am copying the original recipe...what I added or substituted in parathenses.  ENJOY!

Dinner: Beans and Greens Chili

1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
3 ribs of celery, chopped
2 cups vegetable broth
2 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed  (1 15 oz. can white cannelini beans, drained and rinsed)
1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 (28 oz) can chopped tomatoes with juice
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
8-12 medium baby bella mushrooms
1 (15 oz) can corn, rinsed and drained
2-3 tbsp chili powder  (a couple of shakes of crushed red pepper flakes)
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper  (1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper)
1 tbsp curry powder  (did not use; added 1 tsp kosher salt)
4 cups leafy green vegetables, chopped  (I used kale)

In a large soup pot over medium heat, sauté onions, carrots and celery in 1/2 cup vegetable broth for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent.

Add kidney beans, chickpeas, chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, mushrooms, corn, chili powder, black pepper, curry powder and remaining 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth. Stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 40 to 50 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When chili appears soft, mix in leafy greens and turn off heat. Serve warm.

**Recipe courtesy of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition by Julieanna Hever, M.S., R.D., C.P.T