Food

101 Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes

5

Posted on Nov 14, 2014 in Food

101 Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes

This might seem like sacrilege to say, but here goes anyway: Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have to be a totally glutenous meal that knocks you off course. In fact, I think you can have an incredibly delicious, totally enjoyable Thanksgiving dinner without eating processed food, using yucky ingredients or sending yourself into a post-dinner sugar coma.

Don’t believe me? I’ve gathered up 101 pieces of evidence to prove my point! These healthy Thanksgiving recipes will make your holiday meal nourishing. Pull a healthy recipe (or two) from each section of this list, and you’ve got a totally healthy Thanksgiving menu that will please all your guests. Happy Turkey Day!

appetizers

mains

vegetables

sides

breads

desserts

drinks

Copycat Mesquite Grill Seasoning

2

Posted on Nov 12, 2014 in Food

Copycat McCormick's Mesquite Grill Seasoning

Copycat Mesquite Grill Seasoning

When I do copycat or knock-off recipes, I try to have a reason behind them. Maybe the original version isn’t that healthy, and I want to make it more nourishing. Maybe the store-bought version is crazy expensive and my cheapskate ways take over. Maybe the product is hard to track down, and I create a homemade version out of necessity.

None of those reasons apply to this seasoning mix. I made this knock-off just because I wanted to see if I could.

Copycat Mesquite Grill Seasoning

Mesquite seasoning was a staple in my house growing up, and McCormick’s makes a very good, affordable, all-natural version that is absolutely delicious on just about anything and everything you put on the grill. But I really wanted to test my spice knowledge and see if I could come up with a mix that was similar on my own. It took some trial, error, and some serious creativity, but I finally landed on a mixture that tastes remarkably similar to the mesquite seasoning you find in the bottle.

Copycat Mesquite Grill Seasoning

If you don’t know what “mesquite” is, it’s actually a tree that lives in the desert.  And to get that smoky, nutty, mesquite flavor in your food, you’d cook your ribs, chicken, or whatever over mesquite wood. I don’t know about you, but we don’t have any mesquite trees kicking around Southern Indiana. You can order mesquite powder and mesquite smoke extract online, and add it to your foods, but I wanted to see if there was a way to approximate the flavor without placing an Amazon order.

And you know what I figured out the key is? Dried mushrooms and sundried tomatoes.

Copycat Mesquite Grill Seasoning

I know not everyone has jars of dried mushrooms and tomatoes in their pantry, but we always do, and when ground up in a coffee grinder, they ended up adding the perfect smoky, rich flavor to the spice rub. You could definitely leave them out and have a delicious grill seasoning, but if you happen to have some dried mushrooms and tomatoes around the house, this would be a great way to use them up.

In fact, mushroom and tomato powder are great ways to impart a whole lot of flavor into many dishes. Just a few teaspoons of tomato powder added to soup or pasta sauce equals a few cans of tomatoes flavor-wise. It’s a great way to store extra tomatoes or mushrooms (we actually wait until mushrooms go on manager’s special, and then buy them all and dehydrate them for use later).

Copycat Mesquite Grill Seasoning

Like I said, this stuff is absolutely delicious on pretty much everything that hits the grill, but my favorite way to use it is on a super yummy chicken sandwich recipe that was a staple in my house growing up. I’ll be showing you that recipe next week, so either use the recipe below to make your own mesquite seasoning, or head out to the store and grab a bottle—because trust me, you’re gonna want to pull the grill out of winter storage and make this sandwich.

Mesquite Chicken Sandwiches

I won’t fault you if you just run out and buy your own jar of mesquite seasoning. I understand not everyone has the strange desire to remake perfectly good products at home like I do. Enjoy!

Copycat Mesquite Grill Seasoning

Total Time: 5 minutes

Yield: 1/2 cup

Copycat Mesquite Grill Seasoning

This McCormick's Grill Mates Mesquite Grill Seasoning copycat recipe means you can always have your favorite grill seasoning anytime!

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried onion flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons tomato powder (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons mushroom powder (optional)

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a coffee grinder, and grind until no large chunks remain. Transfer to an airtight container for storage.
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by ZipList Recipe Plugin
http://backtoherroots.com/2014/11/12/copycat-mesquite-grill-seasoning/

 

 

100% Whole Wheat Frozen Waffles

10

Posted on Nov 10, 2014 in Food

Homemade Whole Wheat Frozen Waffles

Whole Wheat Freezer Waffles

When I was first trying to overhaul my diet to try to eat more “real” food, I stuck to my comfort zone and had no desire to explore outside of it. I had absolutely no confidence in myself to be able to pick out healthy foods, so I just stuck to the ones that I knew were healthy (or at least, I thought I knew were healthy). I ate pretty much the same thing everyday for breakfast, lunch, and snacks. And I had a steady rotation of about 5-7 dinner recipes that I didn’t really deviate from. It wasn’t the most exciting of menus, but it did the trick. I felt healthier and had more energy.

One of those foods that I was constantly eating was frozen whole grain waffles. Early on in my journey to eat better, I discovered that if you hit up health food stores, you can find healthy versions of all your processed favorites—like frozen waffles. They were ridiculously expensive, but I happily shelled out the cash to stock up on whole grain, flaxseed freezer waffles to eat almost every morning. I’d slather on almond butter (before I realized I didn’t actually really like almond butter all that much—I thought I was “supposed” to eat it to be healthy), top it with some apple slices and a sprinkle of cinnamon and call it good. It was an easy to way to incorporate something healthy into my morning routine. And while it was still food from a box, it was a healthier option (and much healthier than my previous McDonald’s breakfast habit).

Whole Wheat Freezer Waffles

Now I’m a little more confident in my healthy living knowledge. I know how to shop for, cook, and eat good-for-me foods. And even though I’ve long past graduated from the time when I relied heavily on healthy convenience foods, I still try to incorporate that same philosophy into my everyday diet. Part of what made those convenience foods works so well for me was…well…convenience! If it was hard or time-consuming, I probably wasn’t going to follow through. And that’s still the case today. Since I know this about myself, I work around it and work really hard to prep healthy foods for myself each week. One of my favorite healthy food preps—homemade whole wheat frozen waffles!

Whole Wheat Freezer Waffles

I like to make up a double batch of these whenever I have a spare hour. Then I let them cool completely, split them into toaster-size pieces and freeze them in gallon-size freezer bags. When I’m ready to eat them, I just pop them directly from the freezer into the toaster, and they come out warm and delicious. I still serve them up with nut butter (peanut butter, not almond butter) and banana or apple slices. But they’re equally as delicious under a bath of maple syrup.

These waffles are 100% whole wheat, but somehow they come out fluffy and chewy on the inside, and crisp and toasty on the outside. Every time I serve these up, my husband says, “These aren’t whole wheat are they?” because even he can’t tell the difference between these and white flour waffles. Of course, we like to stash them in the freezer, but they are equally delicious right out of the waffle iron. Your family will love them!

Enjoy.

Whole Wheat Frozen Waffles

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 8 medium-sized waffles

Whole Wheat Frozen Waffles

Save some cash and some time in the mornings by eating these healthy homemade whole wheat frozen waffles for breakfast.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Instructions

  1. Preheat a waffle iron. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, melted butter and honey. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and whisk until just combined.
  3. Let batter rest for 10 minutes, then cook by pouring 1/2-1 cup of batter (depending on the size of your waffle iron) onto a greased waffle iron and cooking until brown and crisp.
  4. To freeze, let waffles cool completely. Break or cut into toaster-sized pieces, then freeze in gallon-sized zip-top bags.
  5. To cook from frozen, place frozen waffles in toaster and toast until crisp and warm.
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by ZipList Recipe Plugin
http://backtoherroots.com/2014/11/10/whole-wheat-frozen-waffles/

Coconut-Sweet Potato Pie

4

Posted on Nov 9, 2014 in Food

Healthier Coconut Sweet Potato Pie

Coconut-Sweet Potato Pie


For better or for worse, I show my love through food. I suppose there are probably healthier ways to show affection. I could ask my husband to go for a run with me instead of making him some of his favorite cheesy something-or-other for dinner (and then offering seconds). I could bring toys or games to family gatherings instead of yummy treats. I could give my friends other homemade crafty gifts instead of tins full of candy and cookies at the holidays. But that just isn’t my style. If I give you a gift of food, it’s pretty much my more-subtle way of me saying, “Hey, you’re really cool. And I love you and stuff.”

Coconut-Sweet Potato Pie

I do definitely understand that there is a way to show love through food while still keeping your loved one’s health in mind. I’ve been known to sneak in black beans or spinach in my brownies. Or bake cookies with coconut oil and applesauce. And, one of my favorite healthier-love tricks is to put a little bit of whole grain flour whenever I’m baking.

Coconut-Sweet Potato Pie

I’m not crunchy enough to tell you throw out all of your all-purpose flour, but I do think any little thing you can do to make your eats a bit healthier is a step in the right direction. Whenever I go to make a pie crust, I tend to swap out just a little bit of the white flour with some whole grain flour. It doesn’t do a whole lot to impact the texture or flavor (except maybe adding a bit of a nutty, hearty taste that is really nice with fall pies), but it’s a nice little health bonus in your dessert.

I think a lot of people feel like “getting healthy” is so overwhelming because it feels like this all-encompassing earthquake of a life change. It’s either all or nothing. You are either healthy or you aren’t—no in between. But I believe that “healthy” isn’t a destination—it’s a journey. And if today’s step along that journey is putting a half cup of whole wheat flour in the crust of your Thanksgiving pie, you’re doing awesome.

Coconut-Sweet Potato Pie

When you’re not going full-bore with the healthy ingredients, I think the key to making sure you get as many nutritional benefits as possible is to make sure you’re using really great ingredients. Whole grain and whole wheat have become really trendy over the last few years, and with that trendiness, a ton of products have come on the market trying to make some cash. You have to be careful when looking at products that claim to be “whole grain” or “whole wheat” because the flashy packaging doesn’t always tell the full story. You have to really look at the ingredients and make an educated decision—instead of just relying on what the marketing folks decided should go on the front.

That’s one of the biggest reasons I am a huge (giant!) fan of products from Bob’s Red Mill. There is absolutely no subterfuge when it comes to the flours, beans and grains from Bob’s. They are 100% natural, 100% “real”, and 100% delicious! When I make pie crusts, I tend to do a blend of stone ground whole wheat flour (stone ground is great because none of the nutrition is lost in the process—you still have the bran and the germ—not something all flours can say) and organic all-purpose flour. And Bob’s flours and both perfect for it!

 

Coconut-Sweet Potato Pie

If you’re a little overloaded on pumpkin, this sweet potato pie would be an excellent alternative for your Turkey Day menu. If you’ve never had a sweet potato pie before, it has a similar texture to pumpkin pie, but a bit more dense and hearty. And it has a really nice, light sweet potato flavor.

I chose to mix the sweet potatoes with coconut flavor—coconut oil and coconut milk—and it was an incredible pairing. Such a nice departure from the (dare I say) weathered pumpkin pie. If coconut isn’t your style, you could easily sub in evaporated milk and butter for the coconutty items in the recipe.

Coconut-Sweet Potato Pie

One of the ways I’m going to be showing my love for you guys over the next few months is showering you with lots of delicious holiday recipes. Since I can’t very well hand deliver pie to each and every one of you (I wish, I really do), I’m going to do the next best thing and shower you with goodies virtually!

Happy Holidays. Enjoy!

Coconut-Sweet Potato Pie

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Coconut-Sweet Potato Pie

This healthier sweet potato pie is a perfect Thanksgiving alternative to pumpkin pie.

Ingredients

    For the crust:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick butter, cut into 1/2" pieces, chilled
  • 4-5 tablespoons ice water
  • For the Filling:
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. To make the pie crust: in the basin of a food processor, pulse together the flours, sugar, and salt until combined. Add in the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
  2. Add in the water—one tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition. The mixture is ready when you can grab a handful and squeeze, and it holds together.
  3. Dump the dough out onto a clean surface, and form into a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  4. To make the filling: Cover the sweet potatoes with water in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are fork tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and mash.
  5. In a blender or the basin of a food processor, combine the mashed sweet potatoes, coconut oil, coconut milk, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, maple syrup, sugar, lemon juice and salt. Pulse until very smooth. You can also do this in an electric mixer, but the resulting filling will be a bit more chunky.
  6. To assemble the pie: Preheat oven to 350°. Roll the chilled pie crust out to 1/8" thin on a floured surface, form into an ungreased 9" pie plate, crimp edges. Fill with the filling, and bake in the preheated oven for 45-50 minutes, or until a knife inserted an inch from the center comes out clean, and the pie no longer feels very jiggly. To avoid cracks, turn off the oven, crack the oven door, and allow the pie to slowly cool in the oven before removing. Let cool completely before slicing.
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by ZipList Recipe Plugin
http://backtoherroots.com/2014/11/09/coconut-sweet-potato-pie/

Looking to save some cash this holiday season? Click here to download a $1 off coupon for any Bob’s Red Mill product!”

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

How to Make and Freeze Dried Beans

13

Posted on Nov 4, 2014 in Food

How We Save $300 Per Year By Using Dried Beans

How to Make and Freeze Dried Beans

How to Make and Freeze Dried Beans

Whenever someone talks about tightening their grocery belt, you always hear about eating lots of “rice and beans”. And while canned beans are definitely a cheap way to get protein in your diet (much cheaper than say….lobster), I take my cheapskate ways one step further and prepare my beans from dried. It might seem like a ton of work, but when you eat as much beans as we do, it can save you some serious bank when you add it up over a year.

In my area, a can of organic beans runs you about $2 a pop. If you shop in the bulk bins at either Whole Foods or our local health food store, you can get a pound of organic dried beans for that price. And with that pound, you can make 4-6 cans worth (depending on the bean type). Between soup, chili, bean burgers, salad toppings, and Mexican food, we pretty consistently knock back four cans of beans per week. By using dried beans instead of canned beans, we save at least $300 a year! Just on beans! That’ll kind of cash will buy a lot of lobster.

How to Make and Freeze Dried Beans

I think the key to making dried beans fit in with our busy schedules is to do all the work ahead of time and freeze beans in can-sized portions. I do marathon bean cooking days, where every burner on my stove is working on a different kind of bean. I freeze them all up using the method outlined below, and then I don’t have to cook another bean for months. It is so nice to know I have a big stash of healthy, lean protein at the ready in my freezer. Here’s how I do it.

Step 1: Sort your beans

How to Make and Freeze Dried Beans

Sorting machines do a pretty good job now-a-days of sorting out any intruders in dried beans, but you still want to sort through them to make sure there aren’t any pebbles, twigs, or rotten beans in your lot. No need to be super precise about it, just a quick pick through will do the trick.

Step 3: Soak overnight OR quick soak

How to Make and Freeze Dried Beans

You’ll want to soak your dried beans before cooking—this drastically reduces cooking time (think: minutes instead of hours). There are two ways of doing this. If you’re on the ball, you can just fill up a big bowl with your beans and water—covering them by about two inches—and let them soak overnight.

I, however, am never on the ball, and always seem to remember I needed to soak my beans right as I’m falling asleep. So I prefer the quick soak method. To do that, place your beans in a big pot, and cover with about an inch of water. Put it on the stove and crank the heat to high.

How to Make and Freeze Dried Beans

Bring to a rolling boil. And then boil hard for a minute.

How to Make and Freeze Dried Beans

Then remove the beans from the heat, cover, and let soak for an hour. When you come back, you’ll see the beans have expanded greatly and have softened quite a bit. Now you’re ready to cook.

How to Make and Freeze Dried Beans

Step 3: Cook your beans.

How to Make and Freeze Dried Beans

Drain your beans, and then fill up the pot again with fresh water—covering the beans by about two inches. Why use fresh water? Well, you can use the soaking water, but by switching out the water, you greatly reduce the occurrence of any bean-related unpleasant bodily functions. Your spouse will thank you for switching out your water.

Place the beans back on the stove on high. Bring to a boil, and cook until the beans are tender. This amount of time depends on a lot of factors, most importantly: type of bean and age of bean. Chickpeas take longer to cook than, say, black beans. And the older the bean, the longer it will take to cook. In fact, beans that are over a year or so old might never quite get soft enough.

How to Make and Freeze Dried Beans

Step 4: Cool the beans

How to Make and Freeze Dried Beans

Once the beans are done, drain, and then spread them out onto a baking sheet for quick cooling. The larger surface area helps the cool down more quickly. You don’t want to put piping hot beans into your freezer, because those beans will then reduce the overall temperature of the freezer. Spread the beans as thinly as possible (you might even want to use more than one baking sheet). Once the beans are no longer steaming hot, transfer the whole baking sheet to the freezer to flash freeze.

Step 5: Divide, label, and freeze.

How to Make and Freeze Dried Beans

Once the beans are completely frozen, bring them out, break them up, and divide them in your freezing containers. Since most bean recipes call for cans, I like using quart-sized freezer bags and using two cup portions—right around the amount that’s in a can. You can also just dump all the beans in a big gallon-sized freezer bag and scoop out what you need as you need it.

I then put the bags flat, and stick them back in the freezer for easy use. When I’m ready to cook with them, I either take a bag out and let it thaw on the counter (they thaw pretty quickly—about an hour), or just dump the beans in a bowl and zap them for about 30 seconds.

And, you’re done! Now that wasn’t so hard, was it? Especially if that means you could put a cool $300 back in your pocket!

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

10

Posted on Nov 3, 2014 in Food

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Yeah, I’m one of those people.

One of those people who is totally listening to Christmas music as I write this post. I try really hard to embrace the present, but Christmas is my absolutely favorite thing in the history of all things—so it’s really friggin’ hard for me to wait until after Thanksgiving to start thinking about my favorite season. It doesn’t help that we already had Thanksgiving (we celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving last month).

I tried for years to hold out, but I’m going to just let myself soak in my Christmas cheer this year. I promise I’ll wait a little bit before overwhelming you with eggnog and peppermint and all things red and green, but I won’t wait to share with you some of my favorite holiday season eats.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

These sweet and sour meatballs are new to my holiday repertoire, but they are a staple of my husband’s Christmas celebrations. He had these meatballs every year growing up. And the first year that we went up to visit his family for Christmas after we were married, I ate no less than 40,000 of these at his parents’ Christmas Eve party. I pretty much just camped out next to the slow cooker with toothpicks at the ready. So. Good.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

When Craig’s parents were visiting us last month, my mother-in-law brought down an old, weathered cookbook that her mother had bought her as a wedding gift. I adore flipping through well-loved cookbooks. You can tell which recipes are the most-liked because the pages are torn, stained, and have lots of hand-written notes. I took photos of a ton of recipes from the book that I can’t wait to try, plus I snagged a few family favorites that I’ve always wanted to recreate, like these meatballs.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Because I am who I am, I couldn’t leave well enough alone and just follow the recipe, so I went to town and made my own version of both the meatballs and the sauce. The major change I made was because I knew I wanted to use some of the Concord grape jam I made from last year’s grape crop. We’ve been rationing our jam—it’s seriously amazing—and we’re on our last jar. This year’s grape harvest happened right went JuneBug was making her arrival, so we didn’t get a chance to pick them before the birds got to them, but next year, you better bet I’ll be making a triple batch of the jam.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

If you want to serve this for a crowd, just dump the meatballs and the sauce in a slow cooker, put it on low and let it simmer away. Just add some toothpicks, and you’ve got an appetizer ready to go. These also work really well as a protein-packed, grab-and-go snack. I made a big batch of these for snacking on. I’m always looking for protein-based snacks, and these meatballs were perfect.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

I can’t wait to share all the holiday goodness I have in store for you over the next few months! I hope you’ve got your spatulas at the ready.

Happy November! Enjoy.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 16 appetizer-sized servings

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

These sweet and sour meatballs are the perfect comfort-food appetizer for your holiday parties.

Ingredients

    For the Meatballs:
  • 1 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • For the Sauce:
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup grape jam
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°. In a medium-sized bowl, combine together all the meatball ingredients with clean hands. Form mixture into 1-1/2" meatballs and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes or until the meatballs are dark brown and cooked through.
  2. Meanwhile, to repare the sauce, combine the water, brown sugar, vinegar, worcestershire sauce, ketchup, and grape jam in a small sauce pan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil. Mix the cornstarch with 3 tablespoons of water, and whisk into the sauce mixture. Reduce heat and simmer until the sauce is thick and bubbly, about five minutes.
  3. Toss the meatballs in the sauce and serve immediately, or transfer the sauce and meatballs into a slow cooker on the low or warm setting to keep warm for serving.
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by ZipList Recipe Plugin
http://backtoherroots.com/2014/11/03/sweet-sour-meatballs/