Sunday, November 28, 2010

Almond Flour Cranberry Walnut Cookies

As promised, this blog is dedicated to the cookies that my sister so delightfully made for us upon our arrival to Chicago. 


Before I share the recipe I feel the desire to share something else with you. In case you haven't noticed I avoid sugar in my recipes like the plague. You all caught me. I do have a sugar aversion. I never use real sugar. It's always splenda with an occasional call for honey.

You try growing up with a diabetic dad, cousin, and grandma and see where you end up. Yep, that's the backstory on the Splenda bit. 

Okay, now I will get on with it. I feel much better. 

With diabetes always present at family functions, low sugar and low carb is how my sister and I learned to cook. On that we agree. And this recipe fits the bill. Each cookie is packed with 9 grams of protein and only 7 grams of carbohydrates. When compared to other fruit and nut cookies this recipe shaves off almost 200 calories, 5 grams of fat, and saves over 100 grams of carbohydrates! It also adds more grams of protein than most other 'nutritious' cookies. And when compared to Mrs. Fields cookies; this recipe saves over 100 calories, 2 fat grams, and over 25 grams of carbohydrates. 

That being said if you wanted to save fat you could cut down on the amount of walnuts used, and use half the butter and instead substitute vanilla yogurt or apple sauce. And if you don't love dried cranberries, why not try some dark chocolate chips. Chocolate is packed with anti-oxidants so why not! Check out this recipe for Protein Packed Chocolate Cookies.



Wine is another thing that my dad has taught me about. It is also diabetes friendly and doesn't boost blood sugar levels like other sugar-filled cocktails.
Have you tried this year's Beaujulais Nouveau? This is a nice light red wine that is only available during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. It's light body is the perfect compliment to juicy turkey, ham, or beef. It is light enough that even those who don't normally like red wine will enjoy a sip.


I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. This year I am grateful for my friends, family, and you!

Almond Flour Cranberry Walnut Cookies
1/2 cup butter (smart balance)
4 ounces low fat cream cheese
1 1/2 cup baking splenda
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups almond meal
1 cup whey protein powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
2/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup whole dried cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.


2. In a large bowl combine the butter, cream cheese, and splenda. Cream together until smooth. Add the eggs and beat until fluffy and combined.


3. In a separate bowl combine the almond meal, protein powder, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda. Add the dry mixture to the egg and butter mixture and stir to combine. The batter will be sticky. Add the chopped walnuts and cranberries. 

4. Grab your favorite baking sheet and scoop dollops of batter onto the sheet giving each cookie enough room to spread out. I love to use a small spoon that I spray with cooking spray to make it really easy. 



5. Bake for 7-9 minutes. When the top just starts turning brown that's when you know it's done. Allow them to cool for at least 20 minutes and enjoy!

Servings: 24 cookies


Nutritional Skinny:


121 calories / 9 g fat / 7.7 g carbohydrates / 2 g fiber / 9 g protein


Mental Health Benefit: These cookies are packed with protein and omega's making this not only a perfect after meal treat, but it also makes a healthy snack to carry along with you and eat while your out running holiday errands! The cookies are the perfect hostess gift that you can bring along with a bottle of Beaujulais Nouveau to any of your holiday parties. You will be a hit at the party and promote health and well being during the season without anyone ever knowing!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Corn Scallop.. Perfect for Thanksgiving

We made it through our 1,500 mile road trip to Chicago. The weather was the worst possible. First there was a blizzard, then there was blowing snow and freezing rain, slick roads, until finally we are in Chicago and we woke up this morning to a raging thunderstorm outside.

The black cloud seems to have abandoned Charlie Brown in favor of our road trip. Luckily my sister predicted our lack of sanity and decided to cook us dinner when we got here so as not to scare the locals. (She is my brilliant big sister). Dinner was amazing and one of the highlights were these amazingly delicious Almond Flour Cranberry cookies. This recipe is going to be coming up on an upcoming blog. They are just surprisingly delicious!
And on a rainy day there is nothing better than cookies! But that's for another blog.

This blog we are going to talk about something that makes me really happy... Corn... Creamed corn to be exact.
With it we took a family recipe and cooked up a Corn Scallop that would be perfect addition to your Thanksgiving table. My honey got a recipe from his mother and started making it. Now in an effort to be completely honest with you. I made fun of him the whole time wanting to make changes to the recipe in my typical 'hot mess' style, but he wouldn't allow it. Thank Goddess he is as stubborn as me and we left the recipe alone. It was my favorite thing on our Pre-Thanksgiving Practice run table.
I mean seriously it makes me really really happy!
It literally begged me to eat it. It taunted me even the next day...

I ate it cold.
I couldn't keep it from my mouth...
I hope you enjoy it just as much as I do. And take my advice, leave the recipe just the way it is. And don't fight and be stubborn like me. Just listen to those that love you. Sometimes (but not many) other people can be right.

Corn Scallop

2 cans cream style corn
2 eggs; beaten
1 cup saltine crackers, crushed
1/2 cup smart balance butter
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup red pepper; minced
1 tbsp. minced celery
1 tbsp. minced onion
1 tsp. splenda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (topping)

***Most of the effort in this recipe comes from the mincing, shredding, and dicing of vegetables. Once you do the veggie preparation it's a quick dish.

1. In a large bowl combine the cream style corn, eggs, saltine crackers, butter,  evaporated milk, carrot, red pepper, celery, onion, splenda, and salt. Mix with a large spoon until all ingredients are combined. 

2. Place in a baking pan and top with the shredded cheese. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 24-30 minutes. And enjoy! 

Servings: 20 (approx 1/4 cup)

Nutritional Skinny:


129 calories / 9 g fat / 7.2 g carbohydrates / .8 g fiber / 7 g protein


This also goes great with the squash puree recipe from my blog last week!




Mental Health Tip: The holidays are upon us and it is one of those times of year that we are stretched thin, moving fast, and our arms are overflowing with responsibilities. It is pretty easy to get 'out of bubble' and make decisions that we will regret. So let's you and me make a pact this holiday season. Let's take a deep breath, ask for help if we need it, and smile at ourselves and our loved ones.  When we feel frazzled, let's take a walk instead of getting upset, and let's take one moment at a time. One step, then the next. Today, I am going to take my own advice and I'm heading to the Botanical Gardens for a little sunshine and pretty scenery. I hope you get some pretty scenery in your day too!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Road Trip Snacks

As I've discussed before.. I have a tendency towards crazy. But unlike other kinds I prefer to call mine the "good kind of crazy" if you know what I mean. 

So here is the latest.. I have decided to drive home for the Thanksgiving holiday to be with my family and bring my boyfriend with me. Doesn't sound crazy yet, right? Well, driving home for me includes a 3,000 mile round-trip adventure from Northwest Montana to Chicago, IL when the weather looks a little less than fabulous. 


And there it is folks... that "good kind of crazy" I'm talking about. 
The good news is...
The sun has come out after days of snow and rain giving me the 'go ahead it's going to be a great trip' omen I was hoping for.

And I know how to pack road snacks for a three day road trip. Aren't we lucky?

I'll get on with it...  here is how I pack for a glorious and successful three day trip.. Take notes if you like or just use a few of the tips that I have included. Either way if you are making a road trip, even if it isn't over mountain passes in the dead of winter where you may slide out or get stranded (don't worry family.. I'll get there come hell or more likely snowy ice packed mountain passes).

Road Trip Snacks - The essentials


I happened to have a dislike for fast food. There is nothing that feels worse than being cooped up in a car for three days other than being cooped up and eating greasy food for those three days. 

So I pack lunch meat,
Whole wheat bread (I ran out of time and had to buy the bread, I know shame on me), mustard,
And sliced cheese to make sandwiches along the way. Please use sliced cheese. You don't want to use a knife while driving--it's just not a good idea kids. I also put all the meat and cheese in zip lock bags. I hate when the water from the cooler ruins my cheese!
I also pack cheese sticks (I happen to think I could conquer the world with cheese sticks alone).
 I also love celery for long road trips, so I pre-cut and bag them into ready to munch pieces!

Then, of course, I have some pretzels, apples, granola bars (special K and Adkins are my favorite for protein and balanced nutrition), and nuts (which I could also almost live on).
Next is the cooler. I include water, diet soda (Diet Sprite is my favorite), juice, and then last but not least... (drum roll here please....)
Wine.. Hey! What if we do get stranded! At least we'll have something to do!

That's it! Now all I have to do is pack up my clothes, hair dryer, self tanning lotion, and my laptop. I'm set to go. Hey - a girl has to be prepared for anything! 


All systems are ago! Wish us luck and enjoy your travels and be this safe this Thanksgiving holiday!


Mental Health Tip: I like to manifest a safe, easy, and fun travel by visualizing just that in my head. I play it all through and visualize laughter, clear roads, and blue skies. It usually works for me so I hope you follow my lead and visualize the trip and holiday of your dreams.. And watch as your dreams come true!



Thursday, November 18, 2010

Squash? What shall we do with it?

Let's talk about squash. There are so many different varieties. Not to mention they are packed with tons of fiber and protein and are extremely low in calories and fat. It seems like a wonder food, but there are so many types to get lost in. I had to get it figured out and provide you all with healthy recipes once I did figure out the difference.  Follow me below as we start with our squash adventure and I make a delicious Curried Squash and Mung Bean Soup and a Sawweet Spiced Squash Puree (this one has half the fat and is perfect for Thanksgiving).

In order to prepare for my taste test, I took three different kinds of squash and roasted them. Here's how I did that.

I cut them in half and scooped out the seeds and stringy stuff. If you want you can put all that good stuff into a compost pile. If you are like me and live in bear country-- I warn against that... You might get a hungry late night visitor... I'm not kidding.
Then add a little olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Then lined them all up on a baking sheet. Look how cute they all are!
And then because I couldn't do anything without them.. I took some red onion and garlic.
And diced them up.

And placed them in the hollow bowls of the squashes. Then I sprinkled a little rosemary in there too.
I just couldn't help it.

Then I threw them in a 350 degree oven for 60 minutes. Then magic happened. Let me tell you. The smells that resulted and swirled through the house just about made me swoon. I was talking on the phone with my sister while they were roasting and I was trying to describe the smells. The best I could come up with was buttery, sweet, and just plain luscious. That's when she said.. "Well -- we'll just have to wait for smell-o-vision." And she is right on this one.

After I took them out of the oven  and allowed them to cool for a few minutes, I dove in fork first to taste test for you all. Here is what I came up with...

Butternut Squash
Soft, warm, velvety on my tough. Very sweet like honey..lots of moisture.. the wettest of the three. Very mild flavor and smooth flavor. And if I can pick favorites.. this one is my favorite by far! It tastes great in the SAWWEET Roasted Squash Puree recipe I have below.

Buttercup Squash
Sort of overly dry and almost crumbly. Thick and kind of chalky, but still sweet, just not as moist as I would have liked it. I would use this one in a soup or something so that you could add moisture to it. I wouldn't want to eat it just dry and if I did, I would need lots and lots of butter.. not really healthy that way though.It would be great to use in the Curried Squash and Mung bean soup recipe below.

Acorn Squash
This one was more we,  however not as moist as the butternut. It is very sweet with a little bit more of a nutty flavor. Would be great in the Curried Squash and Mung Bean Soup recipe I have below.

Curried Squash and Mug Bean Soup
3 cups water
1 cup mung beans
1 medium butternut squash
1/2 red onion; minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup low fat sour cream
1 cup skim milk
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. all spice
2 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. paprika

garnish (if desired):

bacon crumbles, chives, and Gorgonzola cheese

1. Heat 3 cups of water in a sauce pan until you reach a rolling boil. Place the mung beans in the boiling water and reduce the heat to a simmer and heat over low for 45-60 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. It's sort of like cooking rice.
2. Meanwhile preheat your oven to 350 degrees and slice your butternut squash in half and pull out the seeds. In the whole place the minced red onion and garlic and spray the flesh with olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake the squash for 45-60 minutes. Look now everything is happily cooking without you for the next hour. Now is the time to work out, clean house, or do what I like to do best... drive myself crazy trying to finish everything on my year long to do list in 60 minutes. Why to I torture myself so?
3. Now you can easily peel the outside from the squash once you have let it cool for a minute or so.
 4. Once the butternut squash has been cooked thoroughly you will be able to easily pierce the flesh with a fork. It will be pretty mushy and supple. Scoop the flesh into a food processor and add the sour cream, fat free half and half and chicken broth. 
 5. Pulse until smooth. Then add the garlic, turmeric, curry powder, cinnamon, all spice, sesame oil, chili powder, and paprika. Continue pulsing. I also added a pinch more salt because I thought it needed some more brightness.

6. Transfer to a crock pot on low or a soup pot on the stove. Add the cooked mung beans and stir. Heat through for an additional 15-20 minutes.

Now what about garnishes. Why don't we top it with a little bacon?
And gorgonzola cheese?
And then what about a little bit of chive..
There that's much better..Delicious! 
Servings: 8

Nutritional Skinny (without garnish):

190.5 calories / 2.4 g fat / 35 g carbohydrates / 4.4 g fiber / 9.8 g protein


Saweeeet Spiced Squash 
1 medium squash
1/4 cup plain or Greek style yogurt
1/4 cup sugar free maple syrup
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp.  salt
1/4 cup walnuts; chopped


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Half the acorn squash and scoop out the seeds. Spray with olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 45-55 minutes. The fleshy inside should easily be pierced with a fork. (Just like I showed above)
3. Scoop the inside flesh into a bowl and add the butter, cinnamon, and salt and mix until the squash is smooth and the spices are incorporated. You can use a food processor if you want or your mixer or of course you can do it manually with a masher (my preferred method--it's like therapy).


4. Place the walnuts in a dry saute pan and cook over medium heat to toast for 3-5 minutes. When they become fragrant you know they are done! Sprinkle the toasted walnuts on top of the squash puree and serve immediately. You can also do this ahead of time and pop it in an oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. It is the perfect Thanksgiving side and goes great with roasted turkey.. 


Servings: 10

Nutritional Skinny:

78 calories / 2.2 g fat / 14.5 g carbohydrates / 3.6 g fiber / 6 g protein

Substituting the normal 1/4 cup of butter with yogurt saved us nearly 200 calories and 23 grams of fat!

Mental Health Benefits: Squash is one of those comforting foods for me in the winter. They are soft, warm, and nutty. Kind of like my cat Frankie. Okay, but seriously, they are also nutrient dense packed with Vitamins A and C and are packed with fiber and low in fat. They also have phytonutrients that have been shown to lower your risk of cell mutations (such as cancer).  All that being said, they are easy to roast and mash making these recipes easy to handle. Not to mention the therapeutic aroma of the baking is a mental health benefit in and of itself!

Stay tuned for more Thanksgiving recipes coming soon!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Whole Wheat and other bread recipes..

I've decided that I am never going to buy store bought bread again.. The decision came when I tried these bread recipes. Not only was it a lot easier than I thought, but it was delicious. After one bite I looked across the table at my honey and declared, "We are never buying bread again."
I found this recipe on the Smitten Kitchen's blog and it's beyond easy. All you need is a little time, patience, and a few ingredients all of which I happened to have on hand. The original recipe is perfect in and of itself. Great for sandwiches, toast or eating with your favorite pot roast and soaking up juices. As Rachel Ray says.. It's another utensil. We can't let juices go to waste now can we? I didn't think so.
And the bread's cute! Just look at this loaf of bread! It's winking at me. See the little eye on the left side? I think the bread is flirting with me. Either that or I have grown delirious. Am I looking for love in all the wrong places? Whatever... I think the bread's cute.

But, I couldn't just leave a perfect recipe alone now could I? Of course not, I wouldn't be a hot mess if I didn't add a little finesse and  a few 'operational work arounds' to a recipe now would I? I made a few changes mainly adding more whole wheat flour (the original recipe called for 2 1/2 cups bread flour to 1 1/2 cup whole wheat and I reversed that) and added a few nuts and seeds. I like my bread thick! What resulted is a Sesame Honey Whole Wheat and a Harvest Whole Wheat. Both turned out amazing and if I had to choose I would have to say the sesame wins, but not by much. I made a delicious egg and cheese sandwich on both and it both were winners in my book!
And my toes make a little cameo in the bottom left corner of this picture. Isn't that cute. Hey.. no one's perfect!

Thank you to Smitten Kitchen for the original recipe and inspiration! Now below you will find my modifications to her already perfect light wheat bread recipe that she got from the
The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.

Original recipe nutritional skinny (per slice with 13 slices):


92 calories / 3 g fat / 23 g carbohydrates / 2 g fiber / 2.3 g protein

Sesame Honey Whole Wheat Bread

Makes one two-pound loaf

2 1/2 cups (11.25 oz) whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz.) bread flour
3 tablespoons (1 oz.) powdered milk*
1 1/2 teaspoons (.17 oz.) instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons (.38 oz.) salt
1 1/2 tablespoons (.75 oz.) honey
2 tablespoons (1 oz.) unsalted butter or olive oil, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups (10 oz.) water, at room temperature
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon honey (for drizzling on top)

*If you don't have powdered milk you can use 1 1/4 cups milk and omit the water, however the bread turns out lighter with the milk powder.

1. Stir together the bread flour, whole-wheat flour, salt, powdered milk, and yeast in a 4-quart mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer).

2. Add the honey, olive oil (or butter), and water. Stir (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) until the ingredients form a ball. If there is still flour in the bottom of the bowl, dribble in additional water. We used another 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water due to the thickness of the whole wheat flour. The dough should feel soft and slightly sticky. It is better for it to be a little too soft that to be too stiff so add water until you get to here.

3. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and kneed the dough for 7-10 minutes. It's a great arm work out!

4. Place the dough in a greased metal bowl. Cover with saran wrap and set in a warm spot and allow the dough to rise for 60 to 90 minutes. My favorite place for dough to rise is on top of the dryer while I am drying clothes. It is warm and perfect! Try it! The dough will double in size. If it hasn't doubled, let it continue rising until it has.
5. Next roll the dough out by hand into a 6 inch by 10 inch rectangle using your bread pan as a guide. You don't want it to be any wider than the bread pan you plan to put it into. Sprinkle just over half of your sesame seeds on the surface of the dough, then roll the dough pinching the sides in as you roll so that it will easily fit in the loaf pan. (That's my mom rolling! Isn't her hand so cute.. And her sweet gold band saying she is reserved for my dad only!)

6. Spray your pan with baking spray and place the dough in the pan. Sprinkle with the reserved honey and the remaining sesame seeds. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise for another hour to hour and a half. You want the dough to rise above the rim of the baking pan. That's how you know it's time to pop it in the oven. See the picture below. That is what mine looked like and it was ready to bake! Sorry about the bad lighting, the sunlight was leaving me in the dust!
6. Once the dough has doubled in size again. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

7. Place the bread in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 30 minutes. After 3o minutes rotate the bread 180 degrees to promote even cooking and heating and cook for another 15-30 minutes. The bread is done when the top is golden brown and the top crust sounds hollow when thumped. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes and slice and eat!

Servings: 13

Nutritional Skinny:

107 calories / 3 g fat / 23.6 g carbohydrates / 2.3 g fiber / 5 g protein

Harvest Whole Wheat Bread
** The recipe is the same as above. The only changes I have highlighted...

2 1/2 cups (11.25 oz) whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz.) bread flour
1 1/2 tablespoons (.75 oz.) honey
1 1/2 teaspoons (.38 oz.) salt
3 tablespoons (1 oz.) powdered milk*
1 1/2 teaspoons (.17 oz.) instant yeast
2 tablespoons (1 oz.) unsalted butter or olive oil, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups (10 oz.) water, at room temperature
1/2 cup Ann's House Soy Energy Blend
1. Stir together the bread flour, whole-wheat flour, salt, powdered milk, and yeast in a 4-quart mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer). Add the shortening, honey, and water. Stir (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) until the ingredients form a ball. If there is still flour in the bottom of the bowl, dribble in additional water. We used another 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water due to the thickness of the whole wheat flour. The dough should feel soft and slightly sticky. It is better for it to be a little too soft that to be too stiff so add water until you get to here.
2. Take 1/2 cup of the soy energy blend and place in a food processor.
3. Process until it looks like this.. Then add it to the dough.

4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and kneed the dough for 7-10 minutes.
5. Place the dough in a greased metal bowl. Cover with saran wrap and set in a warm spot and allow the dough to rise for 60 to 90 minutes.

6. Then you are going to roll the dough out by hand into a 6 inch by 10 inch rectangle using your bread pan as a guide just like we did in the recipe above minutes sprinkling nuts in the middle, although you sure can if you wanted to!

7. Spray your pan with baking spray and place the dough in the pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise for another hour to hour and a half. You want the dough to rise above the rim of the baking pan just like we did with the recipe above.
8. Once the dough has doubled in size again. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

7. Place the bread in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 30 minutes. After 3o minutes rotate the bread 180 degrees to promote even cooking and heating and cook for another 15-30 minutes. The bread is done when the top is golden brown and the top crust sounds hollow when thumped. Remove from the oven and allow to cool and slice and eat!

Servings: 13

Nutritional Skinny:


115 calories / 4 g fat / 25 g carbohydrates / 2.5 g fiber / 5.5 g protein


Mental Health Benefit: Okay to be honest I did feel a little like Martha Stewart meets the Alice from the Brady Bunch making my own home made bread. And you know what? I really liked that feeling. A little Alice. A little Martha. Really not so bad. And I know there aren't any chemicals in this bread because I made it myself and there is something about making it myself that makes every sandwich and piece of toast taste a little bit better. There is love in that bread, whether you agree that it's cute or not.. it is nutritious and filled with love.

I hope you get your hand at baking! Here's to fresh bread, home made love, and butter just warm enough to spread like heaven!