Monday, February 22, 2010


You don't need to go to a good italian restaurant each time you want to have a bowl of minestrone, this recipe is very easy and as good as if not better than the restaurant version. Also great for picky toddlers!

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 teaspoons italian seasoning
1 can (48 ounces) fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes
1 large zucchini, cut into ¼" cubes
½ cup ronzoni rings or other small pasta
¼ teaspoon salt
1 can (19 ounces) cannellini or red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1. Warm the oil in a Dutch oven set over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes, or until the onion starts to soften.

2. Add the carrots, celery, and Italian seasoning. Cook for 3 minutes, or until the carrots are crisp-tender.

3.Add the broth. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the carrots are almost tender.

4.Add the tomatoes (with juice), zucchini, pasta, salt and beans. Simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked and all the vegetables are soft.

Italian Seasoning Recipe:
If you don't have italian herb seasoning at home, you can make your own by mixing the following spices:

3 tablespoons dried basil
3 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 tablespoons dried marjoram
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Optional: Add chili peppers, bay leaves, or sage

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or spice grinder. Blend for one minute. You can Store in airtight container for six months.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Harvest Fruit Bars

I found this recipe from quaker oats website while I was searching for a healty snack for my picky 4 year old daughter. Even though my husband loved it more than her, she likes it too.

What I like about this recipe is that you can substittue the fruits, and the juices and have numerous different versions.

Each time I make, I substitute raisins with cranberries, or dried appricots or mixed dried fruits. I also tried apple cider and pear cider instead of orange juice and still got deliciuos bars.

Two months ago I had an acorn squash at home and didn't know what to do and I decided to experiment them with this recipe so I cut the squash in half, cleaned and sprayed with canola oil, sprinkled some cinnamon and added dried cloves and roast them for an hour. After roasting I removed the squash with a spoon and added it to my fruit bar mixture instead of the bananas. I also replaced the orange juice with pear cider and substitute apple pie spice with pumpkin pie spice, walnuts with hazelnuts. End result was great tasting and chewy fruit bars that I plan to make many more times.

One 6-ounce package diced dried mixed fruit bits
1 cup chopped banana (about 2 medium)
2/3 cup Tropicana or orange juice*
1-1/2 teaspoons apple pie spice or ground cinnamon, divided
1-3/4 cups whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups Quaker Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) margarine or butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts


1. Heat oven to 375°F.

2. In medium bowl, combine dried fruit, banana, orange juice and 1 teaspoon of apple pie spice; set aside.

3. In medium bowl, combine flour, oats and remaining 1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice; mix well. In large bowl, beat margarine and sugar together with electric mixer until creamy.

4. Add oat mixture; beat until crumbly. Reserve 3/4 cup mixture for topping. Press remaining oat mixture onto bottom of 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Bake 13 to 15 minutes or until light golden brown.

5. Spread fruit evenly over crust to within 1/4-inch of edge. Add nuts to reserved oat mixture; mix well. Sprinkle evenly over fruit; pat down lightly.

6. Bake 16 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely; cut into bars. Store loosely covered.

*If using old fashioned oats, decrease orange juice to 1/2 cup.
Yield 32 Bars

Love Your Heart-Eat Lentils /Green Lentil Soup (Yesil Mercimek Corbasi)

Green lentils are high in nutrional value and readily absorb a variety of wonderful flavors from other foods and seasonings. Apart from a high level of proteins, lentils also contain dietary fiber, folate, vitamin B1, and minerals. Green lentils contain a higher concentration of fiber than red lentils and when mixed with mixed with grains results in a complete protein dish.

Try this warming and nutrious recipe, your heart will thank you:-)

1 big onion
1 cup green lentils
3 tbs olive or canola oil
1 1/2 tbs tomato paste
1 cup chickpeas (rinse well if using canned)
1/2 cup Bavettine Corti or any type of small noodle/pasta
10 cups of water

For the sauce
2 tbs butter or 1/3 cup olive oil
1 tbs dried mint
1 tbs red pepper flakes
Alternative sauce (My Mom's Sauce)
1/4 cup onion (petite diced)
1/3 cup canola or olive oil


1. Heat the oil and saute the onions until transperent

2. Add the tomato sauce and stir for 2 min.

3. Add the green lentil and water, cook for 30-40 mins or until the lentils are cooked

4. Add the chickpeas and the noodles and cook on medium low for 10 mins.

In a small sauce pan heat butter. Add red pepper flakes and dried mint let it sizzle for 10 seconds.

Alternative Sauce:
Heat the butter or oil in a sauce pan and caramelize the onions by slowly cooking them until they are richly browned and wonderfully flavorful. My mom always use this sauce for her green lentil recipes and we all love it!

You can save cooking time by soaking the lentils overnight.

Spaghetti Squash Gratin

Another favorite recipe from Prevention's Health Guaranteed Cookbook, I stronlgy advice against skipping basil on this recipe, if you don't have fresh basil you can use dried basil and it will still taste great. if you don't have tomatoes you can skip them in this recipe, it will be more crusty.


1 spaghetti squash (2-3 punds)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup evaporated skim milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
5 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon paprika

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
2. Cut the squash in half lengthwise; scoop out and discard the seeds. Place the squash, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour, or until soft and tender. Set aside for 10 minutes. Use a fork to separate the squash strands. Transfer them to a large bowl. Discard the squash shells.

3. Warm the oil in a large no-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the basil and garlic; cook for 2 minutes. Add to the bowl with the squash. Stir in the milk, salt, and pepper.

4. Coat a 2-quart baking dish with no-stick spray. Add the squash mixture. Arrange the tomatoes on top.

5. In a small bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, Parmesan, and paprika. Sprinkle over the tomatoes. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbling.

Prep: 24min Cook: 1hr 38min Total: 2hr 12min

Fall Squash Soup


1 large butternut squash, peeled, halved,and seeded, or 9 cups (48 ounces) precut squash
3 medium mutsu apples or other cooking apples, peeled, cored and quartered
1 large onion, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 cups reduced-sodium, fat-free chicken or vegetable broth
parsley sprigs

1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Coat 2 large rimmed baking sheets or a large roasting pan with olive oil spray.

2. Cut the squash into 1 1/2" chunks. Place the squash, apples, onion, and garlic on the prepared baking sheets or pan. Drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Toss to mix well.

3. Roast the vegetables and apples, stirring occasionally, 40 to 45 minutes, or until very tender. Remove from the oven and let cool briefly.

4. In a food processor, in batches if necessary, puree the vegetables until smooth. Add broth as needed to thin the mixture.

5. Transfer the puree to a large saucepot and stir in the remaining broth. Warm over medium heat, stirring often, until the soup is piping hot. Garnish with parsley.

Roasted Beet Salad

One of my favorite salads from meals that heal, this is a very easy and quick way of adding beets to your diet. If you don't have time for roasting you can microwave the beets, or use canned beets. I also added fresh pomegranate seeds to get more antioxidants.

Even if you don't have the fruit spread and balsamic vinegar you can skip them and use your favorite vinaigrette dressing and it will still taste good. You can check the below link for making your own salad vinaigrette


4 medium beets (about 1 pound), stems trimmed to 1"
2 tablespoons apricot all-fruit spread
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1½ teaspoons olive oil
1½ teaspoons flaxseed oil
2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives or thinly sliced scallion greens
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 medium navel oranges
4 cups mixed bitter salad greens, such as arugula, watercress, endive, and escarole

1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Coat a 9" baking pan with cooking spray.

2. Place the beets in the prepared baking pan and cover tightly with foil. Roast for 1 hour, or until very tender. Uncover and let the beets stand until cool enough to handle.

3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the all-fruit spread, vinegar, olive oil, flaxseed oil, chives or scallions, salt, and pepper.

4. Slip the skins off the beets and discard the skins. Chop the beets. Cut off the peel and white pith from the oranges. Section the oranges into the bowl with the dressing. Add the beets and toss to coat well. Let stand for at least 15 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.

5. Just before serving, arrange the greens on a serving plate. Top with the beet mixture.

Pumpkin Muffins

My absolute must for fall season. This recipe is from prevention magazine. I used whole wheat flour to make it healthier. I usually try to replace butter with apple sauce as much as I can but don't try on this recipe, I tried and it didn't work. Instead of butter you can still use healthier butter spreads and get good results. You can change the amount of pumpkin spice to your liking, I like mine spicy so added more pumpkin spice .

You can never go wrong with this recipe even if you lack the essential baking skills, it is simply delicious.

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, at room temperature
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup canned solid-packed pumpkin
¼ cup milk
¼ cup dried cranberries/ or raisins

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt.

3. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and sugar for 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, pumpkin, and milk. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Do not over mix. Stir in the cranberries.

4. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling them about two-thirds full. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes. Remove to the rack to cool completely.

Curried Pumpkin and Peas

This recipe is from Country Living Magazine (I don't remember the issue date). I used butternut squash instead of pumpkin and added carrots instead of raisin. I served with basmati rice but I think any type of rice will be a good match.


2 tablespoon(s) unsalted butter
1 medium onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, chopped
2½ teaspoon(s) curry powder
½ teaspoon(s) salt
½ teaspoon(s) freshly ground pepper
2 pound(s) pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium red potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1½ cup(s) low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable stock)
¾ cup(s) golden raisins
¾ cup(s) frozen baby peas
Fresh cilantro or parsley, for garnish

Heat butter in a large pan over medium-high heat, add onion, and cook until golden-brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Stir in curry powder, salt, and pepper. Add pumpkin and potatoes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour in broth and raisins, cover, and reduce heat to medium. After 15 minutes, add peas. Replace cover and continue to cook until pumpkin and potatoes are tender, 5 to 10 minutes more. Garnish with cilantro or parsley.