Archives for posts with tag: healthy

Typical reaction when hearing I made this dish: “Are you crazy?” “Prunes?! In pasta??!” and the eventual “Ewwww!” Matthew’s response was simply, “That’s just too bad that I’ll be away this week for travel. I’ll be so sorry to miss out.” I sensed sarcasm in there but you know what? He SHOULD be sorry! Because this recipe was amazing!

Delicious, nutritious and cheapalicious. This recipe came from the Poor Girl Gourmet cookbook that my sister got me for Christmas and it’s the first of many recipes I’ll be making from it. Estimated cost for this recipe, which serves four, was $8.75. So if you find your pantry full of prunes and pasta — and you find your family has not run away screaming — then go forth and make this. And if you do find yourself deserted by all the people you love, it just means more pasta for you!

The prunes in the dish end up tasting like little meaty morsels. The ricotta adds a creamy, salty complement to the pasta and the leeks also offset the prunes’ sweet taste. The only thing I adapted in this recipe was to add extra leeks. The recipe, which was inspired by a dish the author ate when in Italy, is quick, healthy and easy on the pocketbook. Also — it’s strangely awesome.

Pasta with Prunes and Ricotta
from Poor Girl Gourmet cookbook
serves 4

1 lb medium-length, thick pasta, such as gemelli
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 large leeks, washed and sliced, white and light green parts only
12 oz. pitted prunes, quartered
1/2 cup fresh ricotta, plus an additional 1/4 cup for serving
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

Bring large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to its directions, or until the pasta is al dente.

In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat and add leeks, cooking until softened (roughly 5 minutes). Add the prunes and cook until softened and heated through (roughly 5-7 minutes).

Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of cooking water. Add cooked pasta and 1 cup of cooking water to skillet, stirring to combine. Simmer for one minute. Add 1/2 cup fresh ricotta and stir until melted. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and serve, topping each serving with a tablespoon or so of fresh ricotta. Now go ahead. Embrace your exotic side.


I love this recipe. Any recipe that allows the batter to sit in the fridge for up to two weeks is fanTASTIC by me. We’ve eaten these muffins dozens of times, and every time I switch it up with great success. The result, every time, has been perfect. The best part about this recipe is that you don’t have to make it all at once. Feels like a warm breakfast kind of morning? Heat up your oven, plop the batter into the desired number of muffin cups, and you’re set!

I discovered this recipe a while ago when reading King Arthur Flour’s awesome blog. My grandfather, who is a big baker, mentioned them to me and I’ve had great success with many of their recipes. This is one I continue coming back to, again and again. I scoured the comments on both the blog and the main recipe site for successful changes people made to the recipe. I wanted a healthier, slightly less sweet version than what they had, but not one that completely crossed over to the “superfood” side.

Feel free to add whatever dried fruits (or none at all!) you prefer to this recipe — I’ve added dried cherries, dried apricots, golden and regular raisins, dried cranberries and even dried figs on top. I’ve also fussed with the types of flour used — sometimes I use all white whole wheat, sometimes I split all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour, and sometimes I go with straight all-purpose. Again, up to you. In this version, I cut the sugar and oil down, and added applesauce.

Two Week Bran Muffins
adapted from King Arthur Flour

1 cup boiling water
1 cup bran cereal (buds or twigs); or 1 3/4 cups bran flakes
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup applesauce
2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups cup dried fruit (I used golden raisins and dried cranberries this time)
2 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 cups bran cereal (buds or twigs); or 3 1/2 cups bran flakes

In heatproof bowl, pour boiling water over 1 cup bran cereal. Set aside until cool (roughly 30-45 minutes).

While cereal mixture cools, combine flour, baking soda and salt into a large mixing bowl. Stir in dried fruit.

Add vegetable oil and applesauce to cooled cereal mixture. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk and white/brown sugar. Add this to flour mixture and combine. Stir in remaining dried cereal and, finally, add water/bran/oil mixture to everything and combine well.

Place batter in large plastic container, cover, and let sit overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray or grease muffin cups and fill in as many cups as desired. Batter can sit in fridge for up to two weeks. Fill cups with approximately 1/4 cup batter and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Remove muffins from oven and extract from cups, allowing them to cool on a wire rack for a few minutes. Try not to fit whole muffin in your mouth once you realize how delicious they are!

Look at those perfect little nooks and crannies!

Whoa, a SIDE DISH, people! The first one on here (finally). The barrage of posts on soups, stews and other soup/stew-related dishes were getting a bit out of hand. This recipe has been lying in wait, patiently sitting on my camera’s memory card until it could be revealed in all its glory. Its delicious, healthy, addictive glory. Crisp green beans, sweet dried figs and crunchy pita chips tossed in a nutty tahini dressing. I need more now.

I bookmarked this recipe a while ago and cannot believe it took me so long to make it. Umm, yummm. It has been forever since I’ve eaten dried figs, ever since my addiction to fig newtons dwindled and died. What a yummy reintroduction to that delicious fruit! After I photographed the last bit of this dish, I tried to quietly and surreptitiously SCARF IT ALL DOWN. Then Matthew showed up and plopped down beside me with a fork. Thwarted!

But that’s OK, because sharing is a good thing. This recipe is very simple and, since I knew I wanted leftovers, I made sure to keep the green beans/figs separate from the pita chips and tahini dressing. You could easily make parts of this ahead (cook the green beans and make the dressing) and throw together when it’s time to serve.

Tahini Green Bean Salad with Figs
serves 3-4
from Honest Fare

1 cup pita chips (or pita bread, toasted in the oven and broken into pieces)
1/2- 3/4 lbs green beans
6 dried figs
handful curly parsley, roughly chopped
1 lemon, juiced
4 Tbsp tahini
salt and freshly cracked pepper
1 tsp honey
1 tsp vegetable oil
3-4 Tbsp water

Remove stems on green beans. Bring medium-large pot of water to boiling and add beans. Cook for 3-5 few minutes, checking to make sure beans remain crisp. Drain and place beans in prepared ice bath to prevent cooking further. Once chilled, remove from ice water and pat dry. Chop beans in half or thirds.

Slice figs and chop parsley; set aside with pita chips.

Create dressing by combining lemon, tahini, honey, vegetable oil, salt and pepper. Thin the dressing out to desired consistency with water and stir. In a bowl, combine figs, parsley, pita chips and green beans. Toss with desired amount of dressing, and serve. And try not to scarf it all before you share it, because this recipe improves with company (according to me).

When Matthew’s mom got me the Williams-Sonona Eat Well cookbook as a belated bridal shower present, I squealed happily, clutched it to my chest and ran into my bedroom where I proceeded to pour over the book’s beautiful pages like a starving child. I had this same reaction to another cookbook we (er, I) received as a wedding present and I hope to reenact that scene once again when Christmas day rolls around (*cough*cough* to any family members out there reading this).

Back to the book. I have a thing for Williams-Sonoma cookbooks and the recipes in here are just as gorgeous as the first WS cookbook I received a few Christmases ago. The theme of this particular book, if you couldn’t tell from its title, revolves around creating healthy dishes that inspire you to think about what you eat while also enjoying every bite.

A bit of forewarning — this pesto, because it lacks one of pesto’s primary ingredients (freshly-grated Parmesan-Reggiano), tastes (and is!) healthy. If you’re seeking the unique cilantro-pumpkin seed flavor but want to retain the richness that comes with regular pesto, feel free to add 1/4 to 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Also, the remainder of this pesto is delicious as a spread on sandwiches. Also, I’m going to shut up now.

Grilled Garlic Chicken with Cilantro-Pumpkin Seed Pesto
from Williams-Sonoma’s Eat Well Cookbook

serves 4

Marinade (from Kalyn’s Kitchen):
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tsp poultry seasoning (or any favorite seasoning blend)
4 tbsp olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

1/2 cup hulled pumpkin seeds
2 cups packed cilantro leaves
4 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp lime juice
2 garlic cloves
1 serrano chili, seeded
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

For marinade (to be done 6-24 hours ahead of time):
In a bowl, whisk together lemon juice, garlic, seasonings and olive oil. Make small slits down the length of each breast so marinade can fully penetrate. Place chicken in a large Ziploc bag and pour in marinade, making sure each breast gets coated. Place in fridge for 6-8 hours or up to 24 hours.

For pesto:
If pumpkin seeds are not already toasted, preheat oven to 350 degrees, spread seeds on baking sheet and toast until fragrant or golden at the edges (roughly 8-10 minutes).

In food processor, blend toasted pumpkin seeds, cilantro, 4 tbsp olive oil, lime juice, garlic, chile, salt, freshly ground pepper and 1/4 cup water until smooth. Scrape down sides of processor as necessary. Set aside.

For chicken:
If using a grill, heat to medium high and oil rack. Place chicken on rack and grill, turning once, until cooked through (roughly 12-13 minutes). If using stove top (my preferred method!) heat large skillet over medium-high heat and add chicken breasts. Saute until cooked through (roughly 12-13 minutes).

Transfer chicken to plates and spoon pesto over top. Lick your lips and greet this healthy dish with a grin.