Welcome to Healthy Girl Cooking!

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Healthy Girl Cooking! 

I created this blog because I love inventing healthy ways to eat that work with my busy schedule. I also wanted to make my ideas accessible and get YOUR ideas about improving my recipes! This is just the beginning for Healthy Girl Cooking; I have big plans for the future, and you’re a big part of that! HGC can’t go anywhere without your input.

     I often find recipes in books and magazines that are quick and cheap but not healthy, and sometimes healthy and budget-friendly but not quick or easy. Like most of my friends, I’m on a tight budget, but I don’t have time to waste on a recipe that’s super complicated, might not turn out right, or requires a bunch of ingredients I don’t have in my pantry (one element of this website that’s still in development is the Weekly Meal Planner, which will match up recipes that share ingredients, helping you to buy minimal items for maximum quick, delish cooking. 
My goal is to have that in place by the end of this weekend.)
     I’m committed to making Healthy Girl Cooking a resource that’s easy to use, as well as one that fits your needs. Your feedback is very important, both in terms of the technical aspects of the website, and the recipes themselves. As i learn more about web design, i plan to expand the capacities of Healthy Girl Cooking’s domain to maximize this site’s abilities.
Where I’m coming from…
I’m an omnivore with 11 years of vegetarianism and almost 2 years of veganism behind me. Last summer, after a grueling trial-and-error project that involved obsessive food journaling, I discovered that an intolerance to soy was at the root of my many years of stomach problems. I sympathize with anyone who must always check the labels of anything they eat, because believe me, I’ve been there.
I also had the opportunity to become familiar with the gluten- and caesin-free diet when the lovely family I used to babysit for changed their lifestyle. With two kids under the age of 5, they really have their work cut out for them, and I admire them for all the challenges they successfully conquer each day (pureeing veggies to sneak them onto dinner plates and whatnot.) Their challenges have inspired me to include both gluten-free recipes and, as this website expands, a section entirely devoted to kids’ interests (this is an area in which I’ll need ALOT of help, especially from all you parents!)
…what healthy eating means to me:
I spent my teenage years battling an eating disorder. I realized, eventually, that in addition to changing some elemental aspects of the way I dealt with stress, I needed to change my relationship with food. That’s a very tricky concept, I’ve discovered, especially when we live in a culture that simultaneously values the sensual experience of eating and encourages women to blame food for all our problems. I know this sounds like an infomercial from the 80’s, but I have to say it: Listen up, ladies, FOOD IS NOT YOUR ENEMY. I’m here to encourage you to question the stealthily coded messages you see in commercials, on TV, in magazines, on billboards, and in conversation. We’ve been conditioned to speak a certain way about our bodies, eating, and GUILT (hello, we associate the word GUILT with eating!)  and I’m going to do my part to change that. The fact of the matter is, eating is necessary for survival. Eating is also a wonderful experience that engages our senses, and we have every right to enjoy it. We live in a culture that milks the concept of excess for all it’s worth, so unfortunately, we have to work a little harder to learn what moderation really is, and to implement the concept in our daily lives.
Healthy Girl Cooking aims to foster a dialogue about everything I’ve mentioned in this entry, and anything else you might be interested in discussing. Please don’t be shy about bringing your comments to the table; that’s what we’re here for!

Mom’s Sunday Morning Pancakes All Week Long!

This is the pancake recipe we ate at my house when I was little. My mom would make us a plate of pancakes in whatever shapes or letters we requested, and then finish off the batter with one large pancake for herself. I learned her pancake-dressing ritual by heart: a smear of warm apple sauce, a big scoop non-fat plain yogurt or cottage cheese, a handful of berries and almond slivers, a couple of spoonfuls of wheat germ, and finally, a little drizzle of real maple syrup. By the time she was done, you couldn’t even see the pancake under the mountain of healthy toppings. 

I have two tips for making pancakes an easy, healthy breakfast (or dinner, if you’re so inclined!) all week long. First, load them up like my mom does. This recipe is pretty healthy as far as pancakes go: it’s made with half whole wheat flour, and calls for a pretty minimal amount of oil. If you make low-fat dairy and fruit toppings the main affair, the pancakes will just be an added bonus!
Here’s how to enjoy these pancakes on a busy weekday morning: on Sunday, mix up a big batch of dry ingredients and a couple servings of wet ingredients (keep them separate!!) Store the buttermilk mixture in a jar in the fridge (if you haven’t used it by Tuesday, make a new batch; it doesn’t take long,) and the flour mixture in an airtight container in your pantry. To make, mix a little of each together until the batter has the consistency of a very thick smoothie (try not to overmix.) Fry up a couple pancakes in your non-stick, throw on your toppings (berries are my go-to topping when I’m in a rush since they don’t need to be sliced) and nosh on your power-breakfast treat while you get ready for work.
When you have more time and want to enjoy a leisurely meal, scramble up a couple of eggs or egg whites with mushrooms and peppers and serve it on the side. Boom: the food pyramid is your bitch.
Dry Ingredients (makes a big batch you can store forever in an airtight container):
2 cups unbleached white flour
2 cups stone-ground whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
Sift together well (ok, I don’t actually have a sifter, and mine came out alright.) 
Wet Ingredients (mix the following for every 2 eaters; store leftovers in a sealed jar in fridge for up to 2 days):
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 egg
1 Tbsp canola oil
Measure buttermilk in a large measuring cup or mixing bowl. Add eggs and oil, and whisk until eggs are worked in.
To make pancakes:
Heat lightly oiled griddle or non-stick pan until a drop of water sizzles & dances. 
Reduce heat & spoon pancake batter into pan. 

Clubbin Sammy

Though I was a vegetarian for 11 years, I’ve crossed back over to the dark side, and I really enjoy nothing more than a meat-tastic indulgence like this one. Club sandwiches generally have three slices of bread, but that’s for the birds, really. Two slices work just fine. Toasting them is key, so you get that nice crunchy bite.

This healthified version of the classic club is all about lean(er) protein and healthy fats-ham & turkey, avocado, and turkey bacon for that essential bacony touch. Reduced-fat cheese adds calcium without too much extra fat; the veggies provide vitamins A, C, and E, and add to the fiber content of the whole grain bread.
Now, if there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I. HATE. MAYONNAISE. Ugh-even typing that word makes me want to gag. If it’s hiding, like in deviled eggs or spinach-artichoke dip, fine, I can play along and pretend it’s not there, but if it’s on my sandwich, I lose my appetite. It’s just the thought of that substance jiggling slowly, as only mayonnaise can do…alright, enough, I can’t take it anymore. Needless to say, I’ve omitted mayo from my twist on this classic recipe, but you can do whatever you like in your own home. I’m not here to judge.
2 slices whole grain bread
2 slices ham
2 slices turkey
2 strips turkey bacon
1 slice reduced-fat sharp cheese, like cheddar or swiss
1/3 avocado, sliced thinly
1/2 a roma tomato, sliced thinly
dark salad greens
2 tsp. of your favourite spread (I recommend dijon, garlic, or honey mustard-anything but the M-word)
Toast the bread while you fry up some turkey bacon. Wash the greens and slice the avo and tomato. Layer everything on your mustardy toast, and add some hot sauce if you’re into that kind of thing.
yay for photography by seth c. drury!

Immaculate Conception Salad

This heavenly salad gets its name because it was conceived of by my mom, Mary, and because it manages to combine something from EVERY FOOD GROUP (when served with a hunk of whole-grain bread) in the most delicious way possible. Remember that cereal that tried to pull off the same feat, Basic 4? Yeah…it’s alot better than that. And because it is basically a food pyramid in salad form, it boasts a wide variety of nutrients: protein from the chicken, calcium from the feta, vitamin A & fiber from the dark leafy greens, vitamin E and minerals (like iron & magnesium) from the pine nuts, and tons of vitamin C from the orange & sweet potato. Vegetarians could try substituting soy protein for the chicken; if you feel like trying a veg version of this salad, let me know how it turns out!

You can easily come home from work and prepare this salad in less than 30 minutes. It’s the kind of thing I’d suggest making in a giant batch, because believe me, you’re gonna want leftovers. The recipe below makes about four servings.
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 large sweet potatoes, coarsely chopped
2 oranges, coarsely chopped
1 cup crumbled feta
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 bags (about 8 cups) dark salad greens
a little salt & pepper and olive oil for cooking
your favourite fruity vinaigrette (i LOVE Annie’s papaya poppyseed!)
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees while you chop the sweet potatoes. Spread the bite-size pieces onto a baking sheet, drizzle with a Tbsp. of olive oil, and rub them around to cover all sides. Grind or sprinkle salt and pepper over the sweet potato, and pop them into the oven for about 20 minutes.
2. Pour another tsp. of olive oil into a frying pan, and get the chicken going. Add a little salt and pepper while they cook.
3. Wrap a whole-grain baguette tightly in foil and pop it into the oven to warm. Check on the sweet potatoes, giving them a little stir with your spatula.
4. Wash and dry the greens and chop the oranges. Throw them into a bowl or onto a plate and sprinkle each serving with 1/4 cup of crumbled feta.
5. When the chicken is done, transfer it to a cutting board and cut it into bite size pieces (or serve it in breast-form for if you’d rather.) Throw the pine nuts into the frying pan and toast over medium-low heat, stirring. This only takes a minute or two and totally transforms the flavour of the pine nuts!
6. Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven and add everything to your salad. Drizzle with vinaigrette, and say a Hail Mary. 
p.s. thanks to my roommate seth for taking a great picture!

It’s Friday, Girl. Make Yourself a Cocktail.

Ok, so we know that red wine’s good for your heart, and that dark beer is full of antioxidants. Liquor, on the other hand, doesn’t have anything going for it…until you mix it with fresh juice, that is. The theory of one good thing canceling out a bad thing may not be grounded in science, but it’s incredibly powerful in the field of justification. 

To make this delish treat, core two granny smith apples and throw them in your juicer (more on juicing, sans alcohol, to come.) Cocktail-glass that shit and add a splash of vodka & a splash of sparking water. Cheers!

Greek Goddess Wrap

This has been my lunch of choice lately. It makes a delicious meal without being too heavy. I like to use whole wheat lavash because it’s the easiest to roll, but you can use a regular tortilla if you don’t want to buy an extra item. 
I learned how to roll the perfect wrap when I worked in a little Manhattan vegetarian cafe. The trick is to line up all the ingredients on one end, fold the sides in, and roll from the filled end.  Omit the feta to make this sandwich vegan, or add some grilled chicken for a protein boost. Try serving it with a little greek vinaigrette for dipping!
1 whole wheat lavash
2 Tbsp hummus
1/4 cup crumbled feta
1 mini cucumber, or 1/2 medium cucumber
1 cup dark leafy greens, washed & dried
1 roma tomato, or 4 grape tomatoes, sliced
1 medium carrot, peeled & shaved
5 olives (kalamata or california,) sliced
Spread hummus evenly over the lavash. Add the ingredients in rows, starting from one end (keeping the other end emptyish will help prevent spillage when you roll.) Fold in the sides and roll, keeping the roll tight. Cut in half on the diagonal.

Greek Yogurt Dressed to the Nines

Ok, so this isn’t a recipe so much as a serving suggestion. Greek yogurt is very high in protein and calcium and makes a spectacular breakfast, snack, or light lunch (make sure to buy fat free or 2%) Adding flax seed gives you a nice healthy dose of omega-3’s, and fruit adds fibervitamins, and antioxidants. A squeeze of honey or agave adds a touch of sweetness, since greek yogurt is pretty tart. Experiment with toppings and find your favourite combo. Blueberries and strawberries are great, and a sliced fuji apple, a handful of walnuts and a sprinkling of cinnamon is also fabulous!

1 cup fat-free Greek yogurt (like Fage)
2 Tbsp ground flax seed
1 medium banana, sliced
1 handful raspberries
1 Tbsp honey or agave
Throw everything into a bowl and enjoy!
nutrition facts:
calories 387;  calories from fat 57;  fat 6g;  saturated fat .5 g;  cholesterol 0mg; sodium 86 mg; carbohydrates 35 g;  fiber 9 g;  sugars 27g;  protein 23g;  vitamin A 2%;  vitamin C 27%;  calcium 29%;  iron 5%

a note about my nutrition facts

I learned how to count calories when I was twelve, and they’ve haunted me ever since. Though I was a slave to nutrition facts for many years for all the wrong reasons, I’m proud that I can now enjoy food for its nutritive powers and eating for the sensory experience. Reading labels HAS made me skilled at estimating the nutrition content of foods, which helps me eat a balanced diet. So while I encourage everyone to learn the basics of nutrition, I caution against obsessing over numbers. In general, I suggest eating low-fat dairy, lean meats & seafood (if you’re an omnivore,) cooking with olive & canola oils to reap the benefits of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, and loading your plate with whole grains, vegetables and fruit at every meal. I also suggest eating small meals and snacking all day long to avoid getting so hungry that you want to eat everything in sight. Finally, it’s a good idea to avoid foods with ingredients you can’t pronounce; the more additives and preservatives, the further the food is from the earth. Your body likes whole foods!

Also, please know that the nutrition facts I publish here, while always as accurate as possible, are educated guesses rather than scientific proof. I draw from the labels of the foods in my recipes when possible, and when there are no labels to consult, I cross-check data on websites like fitday.com, nutrition.gov and nutritiondata.com.

Breakfast Quesadilla with Egg Whites, Cheese, Spinach & Tomato

When I’m craving something savory in the morning, this is my go-to recipe. It’s packed with protein, calcium, and fiber; it constitutes two servings of veggies, and it takes less than 10 minutes to prepare-what more could you ask for in a breakfast?

Make no mistake: I’m no LA chick, and I am not afraid of egg yolks. The nineties are over, folks, and whole eggs are back. In a recipe like this, however, there’s enough flavour going on that you don’t miss the yolks, so why not save the fat & calories and enjoy some super-lean protein? Adding a little skim or 1% milk to your eggs makes them nice and creamy, too.
2 1/2 cups fresh spinach leaves, washed & dried
3 egg whites
1 tsp milk
1 slice of your favourite reduced-fat cheese
1 whole grain tortilla
1 roma or 4 grape tomatoes, sliced
salt, pepper, & hot sauce if you wish
1. Sautee the spinach in a non-stick pan and set aside. 
2. Whisk together egg whites, milk, salt and pepper. Pour them into the pan and scramble (you can toss in a tsp. of butter first if you wish; I prefer not to use butter in my non-stick to avoid extra fat, though it means I have to be more attentive to keep the eggs from sticking too much and making a big mess.)
3. When the eggs are almost finished scrambling, push them over to one side of the pan, making room to warm the bottom half of the tortilla on the other side (you’ll be folding the top half over the fillings in a minute; for now it can just hang over the side of the pan.)
4. Place cheese, spinach, and tomatoes inside the tortilla. Add eggs when they’re finished scrambling and fold the top half over the fillings. When the cheese has melted a bit, flip the quesadilla over to brown it a bit on the other side. 
5. Slice the quesadilla into four points for easier eatin’, and smother with hot sauce. MMM!
nutrition facts:
calories 265;  calories from fat 70;  total fat 7 g;  saturated fat 3 g;  cholesterol 15 mg;  carbohydrates 31 g;  fiber 7 g;  protein 25 g;  vitamin A 152% RDV;  vitamin C 42%;  calcium 30%;  iron 15%

Maple Walnut Salmon with Cinnamon Mashed Yams and Roasted Zucchini & Squash

This salmon recipe is a work in progress, inspired by my boyfriend’s creation. I’ve been playing with the oil to syrup ratio and experimenting with other ingredients like cinnamon, soy sauce and garlic. This concoction works well and is quick and simple to make. I suggest using real maple syrup because it’s better for you than the high fructose corn syrup-based fake stuff, though I must admit, all we had in the fridge tonight was my roommate’s butter-flavoured Aunt Jemima, and that worked just fine! Feel free to substitute sweet potatoes for yams; I just used yams because that’s what I had in the kitchen. Flavour wise, I think they taste about the same; if you have any wise words on the differences between yams and sweet potatoes, please pass it along, I’m curious!

This meal is off the charts in the omega-3 department thanks to the salmon and walnuts, so prepare to have a happy heart, brain and immune system! Yams are a good source of fiber, potassium, and vitamins C and B6. Rounding out your meal with the zucchini-squash medley adds about half your Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamin A. So eat up, and give yourself a pat on the back for being so healthy!
Salmon marinade (for 2 4-oz. filets):
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp canola oil
3 grinds each of fresh pepper & kosher salt, or 1/4 tsp of each
1/4 cup walnuts
Cinnamon mashed yams (2 1-cup servings, plus some leftovers):
3 medium yams, cubed
1 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup milk
2 Tbsp light brown sugar, packed
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 grinds each of fresh pepper & kosher salt, or 1/4 tsp of each
1 medium squash
1 medium zucchini squash
1. Whisk together syrup, oil, salt & pepper for salmon marinade. Brush onto fish, coating each side well. Sprinkle with walnuts and marinate for at least 30 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
3. Cube yams and throw them into a big pot. Pour in about 2 cups of water. Cover & cook over medium-low heat until they’re soft enough to mash with the back of a big spoon. 
4. Slice zucchini and squash into half-moons about an inch thick (my 3rd grade teacher taught me to use the first joint of my thumb to gage the size of an inch, so I always measure things in thumbs.) Toss them into a pan at least 2 thumb-joints deep and sprinkle with enough water to create a very shallow layer at the bottom-I use this trick as an alternative to oil when roasting veggies to keep them fat-free. Sprinkle with a little s&p, and throw in a little crushed red pepper if you’re feeling frisky!
5. Arrange the salmon on a baking sheet, and bake both the salmon and squash medley for about 20 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through and flakes easily with a knife. 
6. Your yams are probably nice and soft by now. Drain them & return them to their pot. Stir in the butter as you mash, then add the milk, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt & pepper. Leave the lid on the pot to keep them warm while the rest of your meal roasts.
7. Serve the salmon on a big ol’ pile of mashed yams, and be sure to try a bite of each together-yum!! 
nutrition facts (1 4-oz filet; 1 cup mashed yams; 1/2 squash & 1/2 zucchini):
calories 878;  fat  37.4 g;  saturated fat  12.5 g;  cholesterol 82mg;  carbohydrate 99g;  fiber 11g;  protein 32.5g;  vitamin A 25% RDA;  vitamin C 155%;  calcium 31.6%; iron 18%