Whole Wheat Cranberry-Walnut Couscous

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This is a super-quick side dish that adds fiber, protein and omega-3‘s to any savory meal. Have a small serving for a filling afternoon snack to keep you going through those hours that drag. Look for whole wheat couscous at any store, or find it at Trader Joe’s on the cheap! Couscous is actually a pasta, not a grain, which it’s sometimes mistaken for, but the whole wheat kind can pack even more fiber and protein than quinoa!

For each serving, mix:

1/3 cup whole wheat couscous

1/4 dried cranberries*

2 TBSP chopped walnuts

1 teaspoon olive oil

sprinkle of cinnamon

1. Prepare couscous according to package (this takes 5-10 minutes). Add oil, walnuts and cranberries and stir. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve!

*Always read the labels on dried fruits. While it’s difficult to find unsweetened dried cranberries, it’s easy to avoid buying brands that throw in extras like hydrogenated oil!

Sweet Potato Home Fries

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Nothin does this southern girl right like a good ol’ fashioned brunch-time heart attackfest. Biscuits and gravy? Don’t mind if I do. Country fried steak? Yer darn tootin. Being health-conscious, of course, I try to find ways to eat my favourite things sans heart attack. Case in point: sweet potato homefries, a vitamined-up, lower-fat version of one of my fave greasy dishes.

Sweet potatoes are packed with Vitamin A and potassium, and contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Turkey (or veggie) dogs add some protein to this dish without all the saturated fat of bacon or sausage. By minimizing the oil content (and adhering to the heart-healthy, extra virgin olive-only rule) we cut out tons of fat. I suggest topping a big ol pile of these potaters with a gooey poached egg for maximum satisfaction.

Note: I used my cast iron pan to give my home fries a nice charred taste. If you don’t have one, try baking your fries at 350 for about 15-20 minutes before finishing them off in a non-stick pan.

Ingredients (makes 4 sides or 3 main course servings):

4 medium-large sweet potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 cup coarsely chopped red onion

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 turkey or veggie hot dogs

1 1/2 TBSP olive oil

1/2 tsp old bay seasoning

salt, pepper and crushed red pepper to taste

1. Peel and chop sweet potato and red onion. Mince garlic. Drizzle 1/2 TBSP of olive oil into the pan and spread it around before adding the sweet potatoes. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.

2. When sweet potatoes have begun to soften a bit, add the onions to the pan. When the veggies begin to stick, drizzle a bit more olive oil over them and stir.

3. Chop turkey or veggie dogs. If you’re using raw meat, add it to the pan when you add the onions. If your meat or meat substitute is already cooked and just needs to be heated, wait until the sweet potatoes are almost as soft as you want them to get. Then add them with the garlic and spices, stirring well.

4. Your home fries are done when the sweet potatoes are soft (some like their potatoes to maintain a little bit of the crunch–you be the judge!)

Healthy Girl Reunion!

Holy crap, y’all. It’s been awhile! This healthy girl has been getting a serious lesson in time management. Between school, two jobs and a long-ass commute (upside: tons of QT with NPR,) I’ve become way too familiar with my local take-out spots. This, of course, has taken quite a toll on the ol’ budgeroo. As we speak, I’ve got tomorrow’s lunch a-roasting, and it’s good to know I won’t be shelling out another 10 bucks for my mid-day satiation (ok, 5 of those bucks go to the gallon-sized latte I need to get me through the day…but everyone’s gotta be in denial about SOMEthing.)

So, let’s get back on track together, shall we? Cause let’s face it, you could always be a little healthier, a little more frugal, and a little plan ahead-ier when it comes to eating. Over the past couple months I’ve been compiling new recipes, so get excited for hummus and other Mediterranean-inspired delights, healthified lasagna, and snacks galore—all perfect fresh or as leftovers! But now, we turn to tomorrow’s lunch: lentil & veggie salad, which is easily transported and munchable all day long. Lentils are a great source of lean protein for omnivores and herbivoures alike, and they are absolutely packed with fiber to keep you feeling full and, er, regular (albeit a little gassy.) Add your own personal touches to this dish–I just used the veggies I had in the fridge, but any combo will work!

Sorry there are no pics for this dish. Just picture fairies and hearts and stars and flowers doing a little dance in your tummy…

Lentil & Veggie Salad for Busybodies

1 package steamed black lentils*

1 zucchini

1 head broccoli

½ head cauliflower

½ bag baby carrots

diced red onion to taste

a bit of olive oil

salt, black pepper, & crushed red pepper or your fave hot sauce

additions: for a protein boost, add tofu or chicken.

*you can buy these in the produce aisle at trader joe’s. using precooked lentils saves a step and at least 15 minutes, and as long as the package is unopened, they stay fresh in the fridge for ages!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chop zucchini, broccoli and cauliflower and transfer pieces to a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and pop ‘em in the oven til they’re lightly browned—about 15 minutes. You can also dab olive oil on your veggies, but I find this is unnecessary; I like to drizzle a little over the whole salad when it’s done.

Throw carrots into your steaming pan and cook until soft. Meanwhile, dice the onion and sautee with a drop of olive oil.

When everything’s nice and soft and fragrant, throw it all into a big bowl with the lentils. Add seasoning and a dab of olive oil to taste, mix well, and enjoy hot or cold. Tupperware that shite and eat it all week long!

PS y’all: I’m engaged!!!

Frozen Grapes


I know, I know, you’re probably thinking, “I have neither the time nor the culinary prowess to put grapes in the freezer.” But girl, I believe in you!

This is one of my favourite warm-weather treats. It ain’t no chocolate ice cream, but frozen grapes make for a delightfully sweet-tart munchie. Purple, green–they’re both delicious. Just make sure you buy seedless grapes and wash ’em well. Pop ’em in the freezer and go about your biz while they freeze. My favourite way to enjoy these lil guys is when they’re mostly frozen but just a tad soft–otherwise they can be a little hard on the ol’ teeth.

You Decided to Dip, and Now You Wanna Trip


For those of you who are NOT Beyonce fans: you may refer to this dish by its alternate name, “Dilly Cottage Cheese Dip” (but you should also note: we’re not friends anymore.) 

I remember the first time I ever tasted this dip. Here’s how it went down: It was a dark and stormy night. I was in 5th grade. I really, REALLY didn’t want to take a shower before I went to bed, so my mom promised me that when I got out of the shower, I could have a special snack. Obviously, that changed everything, and I made a mad dash for the bathroom. To my grave dismay, however, THIS DIP was waiting from me when I got out. Hello, are you crazy?? Cottage cheese? Thanks, mom, but I’m in 5th grade; I’d rather die than stand here in my towel eating cottage cheese. See you.
Anyway, I remembered this creative creation when I was at the store a few days ago. I picked up a tub of cottage cheese (normally, I’m all for the fat-free dairy, but in the case of cottage cheese, I recommend 2%) and a package of fresh dill, and decided I’d experiment when I got home. Lo and behold, all I had to do was combine the herbs and cottage cheese, sprinkle a little s&p and paprika on top, and I finally understood what my mom was thinking when she tried to serve cottage cheese to her 10-year-old. Mmmm, folks.
Ingredients:
1 16-oz. container 2% cottage cheese (fat-free is too yucky)
1/2 cup fresh dill, minced
salt & pepper
your favourite spice(s) for a personal touch
Dice up the dill and toss it into the cottage cheese. Season to taste. Dip homemade pita chips, carrot sticks, or slices of your favourite veggie into this fab dip.

UPDATE: this post has been edited, and offensive language has been removed, following a dual scolding by my parents via text & email. guess not much has changed since 5th grade.

Homemade Pita Chips


Now, I’m sure ya’ll have tried pita chips (I won’t mention brand names; I don’t know what it takes to get a girl sued ’round here…) but my issue with anything you buy at the store, no matter how healthy, is that you can’t control what’s in ’em. Making things from scratch is often out of the question, but pita chips are a glorious exception to that rule. You can buy 100% whole wheat pita at pretty much any grocery store (read the ingredients to make sure they’re not full of preservatives and other long-named ingredients,) and as long as you have a little olive oil, s&p, and your favourite spice handy, you’re good to go! 

Ingredients:
1 package whole wheat pita bread (4 whole pitas; 8 servings)
2 Tbsp olive or canola oil (both good for your heart)
fresh-ground salt & pepper
your favourite spices for a-shakin’ (my fave combos: smoked paprika & garlic powder or basil, oregano & parmesan cheese)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice pitas in half, then gently pull apart the two sides. Slice or tear the bread into bite-size pieces.
2. Spread the pita pieces out on baking sheets (you’ll probably need more than one; you can also do multiple batches.) Measure 2 Tbsp. oil (FYI: 2 Tbsp = 1/8 cup.) Despite what you may think by the time you’re through oiling the pita, you DON’T need more than this; keep it heart-and waist-line healthy, ya’ll.
3. Brush oil onto pita pieces, using a pastry brush or your finger. You really only need a dot on each side of the pita pieces. I have an awesome brush with rubber bristles, which comes in handy with this project, because I can really get all the hiding oil out when I mash the bristles down onto the bread surface.
4. Grind salt & pepper, and add whatever other spices you like. Bake for 10 minutes. Voila!