Category Archives: The Recipe Redux

a monthly recipe challenge for healthy food bloggers moderated by Registered Dietitians

How to Cook Eggplant

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The Recipe Redux – September, 2016: First Cooking Recollections

Growing up I was lucky enough to have a dad that was a real wiz in the kitchen. He was Classical French trained, and he even cooked in a couple restaurants during college to help pay for his tuition.  I remember him being really good at creating tasty dishes made up from whatever he found on hand in the kitchen. And since my mom did most of the grocery shopping, for him it really was a surprise of what foods he would have to work with in the refrigerator.

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Roasted Eggplant tossed with Chicken Sausage, sauteed spinach and gluten-free Pasta. Topped with fresh grated Italian Parmesan.

One of my favorite foods dad prepared was eggplant. Whether grilled, roasted, baked or fried, his eggplant was always delicious. Sometimes he would restuff the eggplant shell with eggplant and other vegetables and roast – incredible!

Outside of the home, there have been many times where eggplant tasted on the bitter side. But never was one bite of my dad’s. He always managed to avoid that issue entirely.

How? His secret: before cooking, always make your eggplant “weep”.

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Weepy Eggplant makes the tastiest dishes!

Yes, weepy eggplant makes for happy diners! Simply salt and rest your eggplant slices, and soon the salt will draw out all the bitterness from your eggplant. It’s so easy.

I prefer to layer the eggplant slices in between sheets of paper towels or coffee filters to help absorb all the moisture that will be drawn out of the eggplant by the salt. If you prefer not to use either option, you could just salt the eggplant slices, wait 30 minutes, and then rinse eggplant.

Whether grilled or roasted, having cooked eggplant on hand is great. Toss it with pasta, layer it into sandwiches, or serve it up on its own as a delicious side dish.

Did you know that eggplant is technically a berry fruit and part of the nightshade family? Well, now you do!

INGREDIENTS

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Eggplant slices, “wept” and ready for cooking

2 medium Eggplants, stem removed, sliced
1/3 – 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Olive oil OR
2-3 cups Tomato sauce, low sodium

PREPARATION
On a large plate lay out a paper towel sheet or 2 coffee filters. On top of the towel/filters place slices of eggplant in a single layer. lightly salt the eggplant, then cover salted slices with another paper towel sheet or 2 more coffee filters. Add another eggplant layer on top of your first pile, salt, cover and repeat process until you have used all the eggplant slices.

Let eggplant slices sit for 20-30 minutes, so that the salt draws out some of their moisture into the paper towels or coffee filters.

Separate the eggplant slices from the towels/filters. Discard the used paper towels and coffee filters. Rinse the eggplant to remove any excess salt and towel dry.

To grill eggplant: Toss eggplant in olive oil. Grill eggplant over medium-high heat until cooked thoroughly.

To Roast Eggplant: preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add a small layer of tomato sauce to a large baking dish. Add a single layer of eggplant slices on top of the sauce. Add more sauce on top of the eggplant slices. Add another layer of eggplant in the dish. repeat the process until you have no more eggplant, making sure to have enough sauce to cover the top layer of eggplant.

Bake until eggplant is thoroughly cooked, about 45-55 minutes.

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Delicious Roasted Eggplant with Fresh Basil Tomato Sauce

What’s your favorite way to eat eggplant?

 

Summer Zoodles with Creamy Walnut Pesto Sauce

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Recipe Redux: We Heart Walnuts! Recipe Challenge

Disclaimer: I received free samples of California walnuts mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the California Walnut Commission and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Summertime is a perfect time for getting active outdoors. Nothing beats a long day of hiking, biking or group sports out in the warm sun and fresh air.  On these high activity days I often find myself craving a hearty meal, yet don’t want to fill my kitchen up with a bunch of heat from the stove.

This dish is a perfect and simple solution to this dinner dilemma. The Creamy Walnut Pesto sauce is so rich and satisfying, and everything- even the noodles- need no cooking!

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Hearty dinner served up fast!

“Zoodles” is my name for zucchini noodles. Making them is super easy if you have a spiralizer peeler. This fun, timesaving tool has blades that run in two directions. With it, you can cut out perfect noodle strips with every slice you make. Serve the zoodles uncooked so that they have a nice al dente texture. Making summer pasta will never get easier than that!

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Make veggie noodles quickly and easily with a Spiralizer Peeler.

I love using walnuts in my pesto because I know they give my dish a big boost of Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory, and especially beneficial on a long, hard day of exercise and play. Just one ounce of walnuts has 2.5 grams of Omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) Bonus: they taste delicious in it too. Now that’s something to get nutty over.

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Summer Zoodles with Creamy Walnut Basil Pesto Sauce

INGREDIENTS
1 cup Walnuts
5 cups Basil leaves, fresh, rinsed
3 large Garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, chopped
1/3 cup Olive oil, extra virgin
4 large Summer Squash, cut into noodles
4 large Zucchini, cut into noodles

for the garnish
1/4 cup Walnuts
1/3 cup Cherry tomatoes, sliced

PREPARATION
To a high-powered blender add the 1 cup walnuts plus the basil, garlic, and Parmesan cheese. Blend on high, using a damper to help feed in ingredients as needed. While blending, slowly add in the olive oil. Blend until all the basil is chopped and you have a creamy sauce consistency.

Add summer squash and zucchini noodles to a large mixing bowl. Add Walnut Basil Pesto sauce to noodles and gently toss to combine. transfer noodles to serving bowl(s), top with remaining walnuts and cherry tomatoes and serve.

Makes 4 entree servings.

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Everything you need to make a delish Creamy Walnut Basil Pesto Sauce
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Special thanks to California Walnuts for the box of goodies I now get to play with! https://www.facebook.com/cawalnuts rel=”nofollow“

Stuffed Baby Bella Bites

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The Recipe Redux – May, 2016: Small Bites

For gatherings big or small, often the perfect party dishes come in little packages. Small bites are done right when packed with big flavor. It’s much so easier for your guests to mingle around with a little plate of goodies versus a big dinner dish.

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Stuffed Baby Bella Bites ready to party

Stuffed mushrooms are a definite party favorite, but their fillings are often not very heart-friendly. Fortunately, there are ways to make delicious mushroom appetizers without all the added saturated fat. Here we chose to stuff the savory mushrooms with flavorful, heart-healthy veggies. The red pepper flakes add a little nice heat to each bite as well.

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Ingredients jam-packed with flavor and goodness

When prepping the mushrooms, do make sure to save the stems so you can later add them into your next vegetable stock.

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Portobellas stuffed and ready for the oven

Planning on using plain, and not marinated, artichokes for this recipe? Then I recommend you add a 1/2 tablespoon vinegar to your saute pan while as you are cooking the shallots and spices. But the marinated artichokes will give you the most flavor, so do try your best to use those instead.

Have a big crowd coming over? This recipe can easily be multiplied.
Bonus: There’s no such thing as eating too many of them!

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Stuffed Baby Bella Bites

INGREDIENTS
1 pound Baby portobella mushrooms
2 teaspoons Olive oil, divided
1/8 teaspoon Red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon Smoked paprika
1/8 teaspoon Dried mustard
1 large Shallot, minced (about 1/4 cup)
5 cups Baby spinach
3/4 cup Artichokes, marinated, minced
salt and pepper

PREPARATION
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Carefully remove the stems from the baby portobella mushrooms. With a small spoon, gently scrape gills out from the underneath of the mushrooms. lightly baste outside of mushrooms with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Set aside.

Add the second teaspoon of olive oil into a heated saute pan over medium high heat. Add the red pepper flakes, smoked paprika, dried mustard and shallots and saute until shallots are softened, about 2 minutes. Add baby spinach and saute until the spinach is softened, about another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the minced artichoke. Lightly season with salt and pepper.

Stuff mushrooms with the artichoke/spinach mixture, making sure to pile the filling high for each bite. Bake mushrooms until mushrooms are fully cooked, about 15-18 minutes.

Plate the stuffed mushrooms, making sure to drizzle some of the liquid on the bottom of the baking pan onto each bite.

Serve warm.

Makes about a dozen servings
Serving size: 2 Baby Bella Stuffed Bites

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Stuffed Baby Bella Bites

Roasted Beet and Cali Yogurt Smoothie

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Recipe Redux – Healthy Snacks for Men, Women and Kids recipe challenge

Disclosure: By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Real California Milk products and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Sometimes the easiest snacks are the ones you can drink. This smoothie makes for a delicious and healthy snack option, especially on one of your heavy workout days. The yogurt supplies protein to help rebuild your worked muscles. The beets contain natural nitrates, which may help you with better oxygenation. The orange is loaded with vitamin C, which is a great antioxidant that helps neutralize cell damage. Walnut oil is a good source of healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. And this smoothie’s vibrant color and great flavor even makes it quite kid-friendly too.

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Share a smoothie with a friend

It was especially fun making this recipe because I got to work with Real California yogurt. California leads the nation in producing milk, ice cream and butter, and is ranked second in yogurt and cheese production. Did you know that 99% of California Dairies are family-owned? It always feels good to support the little guys.

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Roasted Beet and Cali Yogurt Smoothies pictured with Real California Yogurt, Fresh Oranges and Mint

I recommend roasting way more beets than the 1 cup needed for this recipe. That way you have the extra beet pieces for salad toppings, or to make even more of these smoothies!

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chopped beets awaiting their oven roasting

INGREDIENTS

beet, yogurt, orange, walnut, mint, smoothie, vegetarian, health, wellness, diet, dietitian, nutrition, nutritionist, michelle moreau, chef, healthy kitchen, healthcare, medical insurance, Portsmouth, NH, seacoast, celiac, cardiac, diabetes, diet, weight loss, recipe, couneling, healthcare
Roasted Beet and Cali Yogurt Smoothie

1 cup Real California yogurt, plain, low-fat
1 cup Beets, peeled, diced
1 large Orange, peeled, seeded
1/2 teaspoon Orange zest
5-6 leaves Mint, fresh
1/2 teaspoon Walnut oil

PREPARATION
To roast the beets: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel and dice beets. Place beets on to a large sheet of aluminum foil. Lightly season beets with salt and pepper. Fold up sides of aluminum foil so that beets are enclosed inside. Roast beets for about an hour, or until they are easily pierced with a fork. Cool roasted beets in the refrigerator before using.

To make the smoothie: Place yogurt, chilled roasted beets, orange, orange zest, and mint into a blender. Blend until smooth. Drizzle in the walnut oil while still blending.

Garnish with orange slice and/or mint leaves, if desired.

Serve cold.

Makes 2 servings.

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Cheers!


Quick-Fix Chocolate Almond Cake

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Recipe Redux, March, 2016: 7 or less ingredient recipe

Some days, you just really need that quick-fix of chocolate, but you don’t want all that extra sugar. This Quick-Fix Chocolate Almond Cake recipe is sure to please, and even when you are in a real hurry.  It takes only 6 ingredients to prepare, and cooks in less than 2 minutes in your microwave. Since it makes only 2 servings, you are not stuck wondering what to do a bunch of leftover cake pieces once your craving has been satiated. Sweetened with ripe banana and apple sauce, and not with processed sugar, you will feel good about what you are eating too.

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Dessert for two in under 10 minutes!

You could make this whole recipe in one mug (all the rage these days). The up side to mugging it is you can mix and “bake” all in the same container. The down side to that method is that you will be tempted to eat it all yourself! (remember this recipe feeds two people).

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May prepare a bit quicker, but it’s so much harder to share a cake from one mug

Instead, I recommend using 2 silicone muffin cups for cooking. This way each serving size is obvious. Do lightly spray cups with olive oil before adding the batter so the cakes remove easily after baking.

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Silicone muffin cups: perfect for personal-sized cake making.

The riper the banana, the sweeter the cake. I recommend using a banana that is very ripe for this recipe. Also, make sure to serve this cake alongside fresh fruit like berries. The tartness of raspberries pairs especially nicely with the chocolate.

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Fun for Two

To make your own easy sauce: add 1 cup fresh berries to a blender with a little squeeze of fresh lime juice and a tablespoon of honey or maple syrup.

Quick-Fix Chocolate Almond Cake

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Quick-Fix Chocolate Almond Cake

INGREDIENTS
1/4 cup Almond flour
2 tablespoons Cocoa powder
1 medium Banana, ripe, mashed
3 tablespoons Apple sauce
2 teaspoons Coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon Vanilla extract

PREPARATION
In a medium bowl, add the almond flour and cocoa powder and stir to mix. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine.

Lightly spray to silicone muffin cups with olive oil. Divide batter between the two cups. Microwave cakes together for 1 minute and 45 seconds on high heat. Allow cakes to rest 1-2 minutes before gently removing them from cups.

Serve with fresh berries, mint and/or berry sauce.

Makes 2 servings.
Serving size 1 cake.
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Orange Cranberry Bread

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Recipe Redux – November, 2015: Creative Quick Breads

It’s no surprise that quick breads are very popular around the holidays. They are easy to prepare and can be made days in advance of the big meal. With so much to do for any holiday feast, any dish done ahead of time is most welcome.

From a healthy standpoint, the downside to quick breads is that often these recipes are loaded with processed sugars. I decided for my challenge I would instead sweeten my bread with fruit and fruit juice. With date, orange, apple and cranberry in every bite, one could easily rename this fruit bread! But trust me, this tastes nothing like any holiday fruit bread most are accustomed to having.

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Fresh from the oven

My recipe here is a redux of one I discovered online in Epicurious for Orange Nut Bread, and which first appeared in Bon Appetit in January, 1998. My newer, Recipe Redux version is gluten-free and includes whole grain flours. The butter is replaced with olive oil and apple sauce, the white sugar with dates, and the orange juice concentrate with fresh squeezed juice. Fresh cranberries were used to add tartness. I also added some vanilla extract for nice contrast to the tart cranberries.

Because this bread is sweetened entirely with fruit, the end result is less sweet than typical quick breads. It also holds its shape nicely during slicing and eating, making it a great candidate for use with open-faced sandwiches. Top a slice with leftover turkey and other holiday fixings. Yum!

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Perfect alongside any holiday meal

Tip: When combining the liquid with the dry ingredients, do not worry about stirring your batter too much. Since there is no gluten, you can not cause your bread to turn out tough by over-mixing.

While I did not use nuts, they could also work nicely in this recipe. If desired, stir in a 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts or almonds when you also add in the fresh cranberries to the batter.

INGREDIENTS

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Orange Cranberry Bread

3/4 cup Dates, pitted
3/4 cup Orange juice, fresh squeezed
1/2 cup Apple sauce, unsweetened
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 large Eggs
1/4 cup Olive oil
3/4 cup Tapioca flour
1/2 cup Buckwheat flour
1/2 cup Sorghum flour
1 tablespoon Baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 tablespoon Orange peel, grated
3/4 cup Cranberries, fresh

PREPARATION
In a small bowl, soak dates in orange juice for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Add soaked dates and orange juice to food processor and blend for about a minute, or until dates are pulverized. Continue processing and add in the apple sauce and vanilla extract, then add in eggs one at a time, and lastly slowly add in olive oil.  Stop processing.

In a large bowl mix together the tapioca, buckwheat and sorghum flours, baking powder, Xanthan gum and salt. Mix the liquid ingredients into the dry 1/4 at a time. Stir the orange peel and fresh cranberries into the batter.

Lightly spray a 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2″ loaf pan with olive oil. Pour batter into pan.

Bake loaf about 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove bread from oven and cool 5 minutes in pan. Remove bread from pan onto cooling rack. Cool bread completely. Slice bread for serving.

Store bread at room temperature wrapped in plastic.
Bread will hold at room temperature for 2 days.

Makes about 16 slices.
serving size 1 slice

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A delicious slice ready for toppings