Guilt-free Whole Wheat Banana Farro Bread

Lately I’ve been a little obsessed with farro. It’s a whole grain with a nutty flavor similar to brown rice, but larger and has a more substantial bite. It is rich in fiber, magnesium and vitamins A, B, C, and E. I’ll post some farro-centric recipes in the near future, but I thought I’d start with a banana bread that is free of oils and uses primarily fruits to sweeten the batter. The addition of oats with the farro gives this bread a great, satisfying texture.

banana-breadRECIPE: Guilt-free Whole Wheat Banana Farro Bread

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup oats (2 TBSP reserved)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup of overripe banana, mashed
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup cooked farrow
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup milk (almond, goat, skim or coconut)

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350. Coat a loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. In large mixing bowl combine banana, applesauce, syrup, egg, milk and vanilla until well mixed. In a separate bowl, add flour, oats, farro, walnuts, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until combined, being careful to not overmix. Pour batter into pan, sprinkle the top with oats and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not overbake. Wrap leftover bread tightly to keep from drying out. Enjoy!

Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti with Parsley, Parmesan & Chile Oil

squashonfenceMany, many weeks ago, I noticed a lovely spaghetti squash growing from our neighbor’s garden through the crack of our fence. I’ve been eyeballing it ever since, watching it mature, wondering about its fate. Luckily Matt asked our very friendly neighbor if he wanted to back, and he graciously said it was all ours. Sweet! Now, what to do…

Since I love the concept of spaghetti squash more than I like spaghetti squash itself, I was scouring the internet for anything that inspired me. Then it hit me…what about a marriage of the imposter ‘spaghetti’ with actual spaghetti – well, brown rice spaghetti to make it gluten free and give it a healthy boost. The best part? This recipe has half the starch of a delicious pasta dinner, yet all of the satisfaction.

oilRECIPE: Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti with Parsley, Parmesan & Chile Oil

  • 2 cups of cooked spaghetti squash, warm (cooking methods below)
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice spaghetti, warm (break in half before cooking)
  • 3 TBSP garlic and chile infused olive oil (see below)
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (reserved 3 TBSP for garnish)
  • 3 TBSP freshly chopped Italian flat leaf parsley (reserve 1 tsp for garnish)
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest (optional)
  • red chile flakes (for garnish)
  • salt and cracked black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS: Pour 1/4 cup olive oil into a small saucepan. Add 2 cloves of smashed garlic and 1/2 tsp red chile flakes. Slowly heat oil until garlic starts to brown. Remove from heat and strain to remove the chiles and garlic (you’ll have more than the recipe requires – store it in the fridge).

Add 3 tablespoons of infused oil and lemon zest to a large bowl. Add brown rice pasta and toss. Add spaghetti squash and toss again. Throw in Parmigiano-Reggiano, parsley, salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper as needed. Serve warm or room temperature; top with a little more cheese, parsley, a few red chile flakes and cracked black pepper. Drizzle with a little more infused olive oil, if desired. Enjoy!


There are a couple ways to cook a spaghetti squash. Usually I roast it in the oven (instructions can be found at the bottom of THIS PAGE >). But for this recipe, I prefer no color at all, and want the squash to remain a little al dente. The fastest means to an end is the microwave. (I almost never use the microwave, but for this, I make an exception.) *Carefully* stab a few holes in the squash with a chef’s knife so the steam can escape. Put the squash in a glass dish and microwave uncovered for 8-10 minutes. Let it rest for 15 minutes or so. Slice the squash in half the long way, scoop out the seeds and then using a folk, scrape out the strands of warm, delicious squash. If you’ve never worked with it before, you find a video tutorial on YouTube.


Guilt-free Key Lime Pie with Coconut Graham Cracker Crust

This recipe is another request from my dear friend Lois. Luckily my sister had recently made a healthy version of a key lime pie, so this one wasn’t much work at all – just a few tweaks from her original because I’m not a huge fan of citrus desserts. And I also think she made hers with a ginger snap crust; all I had were graham crackers in my cupboard. This pie is made primarily from non-fat greek yogurt, so it has tons of protein. Plus, the crust is also completely butter-free…so eat up!

RECIPE: Key Lime Pie with Coconut Graham Cracker Crust

pie-crustCRUST: Do this ahead of time.
Put 10 graham crackers in a food processor and pulse until the crackers have turned into crumbs. Slowly drizzle 5 TBSP melted coconut oil into the crumbs. Press into the bottom of a glass pie dish. You can also make with gluten free graham crackers, if you prefer. Pre-bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Put in the freezer for an hour when it comes out of the oven so the crust will be nice, crisp and cold when you pour the filling in.

pie-uncookedFILLING: Stir these ingredients together.

  • 1 cup of nonfat greek yogurt
  • 1 can of nonfat sweetened condensed milk (this is just as delicious as the full-fat version, but simply made from skim milk instead)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup of freshly squeezed lime juice (depending on how lime-y you like it)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

TOPPING: Stir these ingredients together right before serving.

  • 1 1/2 cups of nonfat greek yogurt
  • 3 TBSP confectioners sugar
  • zest of a lime (reserve 1/2 tsp for garnish)

DIRECTIONS: When the pie crust is baked and chilled, pour the filling into the crust and bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes – it will still be jiggly. Chill pie for at least 2 hours. Just before serving, make the topping and spread an even layer over the pie. Garnish with the reserved lime zest and a slice of lime, if desired. Enjoy!whole-pie

High Protein Chicken Pot Pies with Parsnips in Greek Yogurt Goat Milk Cream Sauce

potpie_topviewMy friend, Lois, asked me if I could figure out a healthier version of chicken pot pie. I have to say it’s a bit of a challenge to replace all of the goodness in that ooey, gooey comfort food full of chicken and veggies floating in a rich, creamy sauce of butter and heavy cream underneath a crispy pastry shell. But it is possible.

After a couple of trials, it’s clear the answer lies in compromise. This recipe cuts a ton of fat from the filling and adds a bunch of protein to the mix. Although you can top it with an olive oil pie crust top or simply sprinkle it with fresh breadcrumbs made from high-fiber, whole grain or gluten free bread, I recommend a little splurge by keeping the puff pastry top – it is a comfort food, after all. Also, if you bake it in a deeper dish as opposed to a wider one, you can cut the pastry you need in half – which cuts the fat and calories in half, too. Here goes…

RECIPE: High Protein Chicken Pot Pies with Parsnips in Greek Yogurt Goat Milk Cream Sauce

  • 1 roasted chicken, skin removed and rough chopped (rotisserie chicken will work if you don’t want to roast your own)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 stalk celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 parsnips, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups goat milk (or almond or cow’s milk if you don’t like the taste of goat milk)
  • 1/2 block greek cream cheese, cut in pieces
  • 2 cups nonfat greek yogurt
  • 6 TBSP oat flour (or gluten free)
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup peas, frozen is fine
  • 3 TBSP freshly chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1 sheet puff pastry (or gluten free pie crust/bread crumbs)
  • 1 egg, beaten

chicken_stockDIRECTIONS: First, remove the skin and bones from the roasted chicken, give the meat a rough chop and set aside. (Use just the breasts from two chickens if you want to make it extra healthy). Put the chicken carcass in a small sauce pot and add just over two cups of chicken stock. Simmer for 30 minutes to infuse some extra chicken flavor into the broth. Trust me – it makes a difference. Strain and set aside. Remove puff pastry from freezer and thaw until you can unfold it. Sprinkle a board with oat flour and roll pastry just a bit to remove the seams and thin out a little bit.

chicken_fillingNext, add a couple tablespoons of olive oil to the bottom of a dutch oven or a large, deep saute pan. Saute onion, celery, carrots, parsnips, thyme and seasoning over medium/medium-high heat until the veggies become translucent and barely start to brown (about 5 minutes). Deglaze the pan with the brandy and stir for another minute. Sprinkle the oat flour on the veggies and stir for a minute or two. Slowly add the warm chicken stock to the veggies, whisking as it thickens to avoid lumps. Then add the goat milk, 1/2 block of cream cheese, peas, salt and pepper. Simmer on low for 5-10 minutes. Turn off heat. Whisk in greek yogurt; add chicken and parsley. Taste and re-season with salt and pepper if necessary.

puffpastry_potpieDivide mixture among 4 large or 6 smaller oven-safe bowls, mugs or ramekins (something that is deeper, rather than a long cassarole-shaped dish that would require more pastry to cover). Whatever dish you use, flip it upside down on the pastry and cut out a shape slightly larger than your dish. Cover the filled dishes with the slightly oversized pastry and push it against the edges. Brush the pastry with the egg wash and using a knife, cut a couple of slits in the top to let the steam escape. Bake the pot pies in a 425 degree oven for 30 minutes or until the pastry puffs up and turns a nice golden brown.



Cream of Baby Bella Mushroom Soup

I LOVE mushroom soup. When I was little, mushroom soup was always the clear winner over chicken noodle – much like tomato juice was always the clear winner over orange. (I think I was a weird kid.) As an adult, I make mushroom soup a thousand different ways. Sometimes thin, sometimes thick, sometimes chunky in a broth, sometimes pureed with ‘cream of’ in front of its name. Hungarian style loaded with paprika, or traditional style that tastes a little like Thanksgiving. But I wrote this recipe because I was looking for a super fast and healthy way to make my favorite soup. No butter, no flour, no sauteing – no guilt. This recipe makes two large or three average size bowls, so double it as you wish. Here goes:

RECIPE: Cream of Baby Bella Mushroom Soup

  • mushroomsoupcooking1 box chicken stock (vegetable stock, if you’re a vegetarian)
  • 24oz mushrooms (crimini) sliced – reserve a cup, finely chopped
  • 1 large shallot (or 1/4 onion)
  • 1/2 tsp dry thyme
  • 4 TBSP brandy
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 block cream cheese

Add stock to a large soup pot and bring to a rolling simmer over medium heat. Slice mushrooms in a food processor (or rough chop); it doesn’t much matter since you’ll be pureeing this soup anyway. Add those to the stock. Slice the shallot; throw that in the pot. Add the thyme, brandy, salt and pepper into the pot and let simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off heat. Puree using an stick blender or regular blender. Put back on stove over low heat; add chunks of cream cheese and remaining chopped mushrooms. Simmer on low for 10 more minutes stir until cream cheese melts completely into the soup. Re-season with salt and pepper, if needed. Great drizzled with olive oil and cracked black pepper, or even topped with homemade croutons (recipe can be found here: SPICY GARLIC CROUTONS). Enjoy!


Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Goat Cheese Dipping Sauce

I saw this idea in Bon Appetite last time I traveled to Santa Fe. Roasting a whole cauliflower? Brilliant. Immediately I thought of it as the new “bloomin’ onion” because lord knows that dish will kill us in a heartbeat. This, conceptually, is the same. It has the same wow factor on the table and is great for sharing. Plus it has a dipping sauce to make it complete. The only problem with the Bon Appetite version for me, is the amount of fat in the cheese accompaniment because it uses four cheeses plus heavy whipping cream. So I wrote a new recipe to give it some health value. This is important because when you eat this once, you’ll want to make it all week long. In fact, I’ve considered just throwing another cauliflower in the pot while the brine is still hot because the other one was gone in five minutes flat. It also makes a great side dish when quartered and drizzled with the sauce.

brineRECIPE: Whole Roasted Cauliflower

  • 2 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup sea or kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 head of cauliflower, leaves removed

readyforovenPreheat oven to 475 degrees. Bring wine, oil, kosher salt, juice, butter, red pepper flakes, sugar, bay leaf, and 8 cups water to a boil in a large pot. Add cauliflower, reduce heat, and simmer, turning occasionally, until a knife easily inserts into center, 15-20 minutes.

Using 2 slotted spoons, transfer cauliflower to a rimmed baking dish, draining well. Roast, rotating halfway through, until brown all over, 30-40 minutes.
RECIPE: Goat Cheese Dipping Sauce
  • 8 ounces lowfat cottage cheese
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup nonfat greek yogurt
  • salt and pepper to taste

Add cheese to a food processor and blend until smooth. Add salt to your liking and a generous amount of cracked black pepper. NOTE: you can do this in a blender, but it may require a splash or two of water to get it going.) NOTE: If you’re not a fan of goat cheese, you can swap it out with Feta or Greek cream cheese.

Transfer cauliflower to a plate. Drizzle with oil; sprinkle with sea salt. Serve with sauce for dipping. Enjoy!cauliflower

Oatmeal Buttermilk Pancakes with Homemade Peach Syrup

I came up with this recipe one day because I was really tired of the same bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. So instead of pouring the oats into a measuring cup while I was waiting for the water to boil, I threw them into the blender with a couple other things and made a batter. Traditional pancakes have no nutritional value whatsoever – a slurry of cooked white flour slathered in butter and pancake syrup. But this recipe has no flour whatsoever; instead it uses oats for fiber, nuts for protein, hearth-healthy flax seeds topped with homemade peach syrup and a dollup of nonfat greek yogurt for even more protein. Super healthy and really satisfying if you’re craving pancakes but feel guilty veering away from your oatmeal regimen.

blenderRECIPE: Oatmeal Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes with Homemade Peach Syrup

  • 1 cup regular oats
  • ½ cup raw almonds
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ½ unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • 1 TBSP flax seeds
  • ¾ cup blueberries (optional)

Put everything in a blender and blend until fairly smooth, like the consistency of pancake batter. Let sit for 15-20 minutes and add another splash or two of almond milk to adjust the consistency. (Because you’re working with raw oats, they will absorb the liquid the first time around and the batter will get thick after sitting for 15 minutes; that’s why you have to adjust the consistency again.) Cook in greased skillet as you would a regular pancake. If you wish, sprinkle with blueberries before flipping. Makes 3 hearty 6-inch pancakes.

The peach syrup pays homage to my Aunt Ginny and her mother, Alice Hendrick. When she was a little girl, her mother gathered all the peach peelings and seeds which were left over from another peach project (such as pies or canning sliced peaches) and put them into a saucepan with a 2-to-1 ratio of sugar to water – just enough to barely cover the peach trimmings.  After simmering for about 2 hours, watching and testing throughout, the syrup is finished when most beautiful color appears, and the taste and consistency follow.

NOTES: Like most homemade syrups, it will be thinner than actual maple. But if you want, you can continue to cook until it gets closer to a candy stage. Instead of white sugar, I recommend using organic raw sugar or maple sugar. I also added a small pinch of salt and a tiny squeeze of lemon juice as I do to any jam or chutney I make.

The peach syrup pairs perfectly with these pancakes, but pure maple syrup and a dab of butter do just fine if that’s what you have. Either way, enjoy!


Perfect(ly healthy) Chocolate Sauce

I don’t really like to bake, but I really love dessert. And by dessert, I mean chocolate. If there was a way to eat a huge piece of chocolate cake everyday and stay healthy, I’d do it in a heartbeat. So until someone figures that out, I’ve created something to tide us over. It’s simple, healthy, made from clean, whole ingredients. And you don’t have to feel the slightest bit guilty about eating it.

Chocolate sauce is the answer. It’s the perfect way to have your cake and eat it, too. Especially if you’re like me and don’t want to make a whole dessert during the week that you feel obligated to finish just so it won’t go to waste. We are a family of two here at my house, and I work from home. So you do the math on who might consume most of those calories.

Now, back to chocolate sauce. This is the key to making every dessert just a little better. Put it on ice cream, cheesecake, or brownies. Use it as a dip for strawberries, cookies, pound cake, or churros. Even drizzle it over a grilled banana and garnish it with a handful of your favorite nuts. I mean, the possibilities are endless. So tonight by adding a spoonful of chocolate sauce and a sprinkling of sliced almonds, I turned this teeny little dairy free ice cream sandwich* into a decadent dessert to die for.


RECIPE: Perfect(ly healthy) Chocolate Sauce

  • 2 TBSP coconut oil
  • 2 TBSP raw honey
  • 1/4 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 2 TBSP nonfat greek yogurt
  • 2-3 TBSP almond milk

Combine the coconut oil and raw honey in a small bowl. Microwave for 20 seconds until it’s melted together. Stir in the cocoa powder until smooth. Once combined, stir in the greek yogurt. Slowly add almond milk to thin out the mixture to the perfect consistency. Because you’re using cocoa powder instead of melting chocolate solids, adding liquid will not cause the sauce to seize up. It’s very easy and completely forgiving. Adjust the amount of cocoa and sweetness to your liking. This recipe makes approximately one cup of sauce. Enjoy!

sandwich-box* The SO DELICIOUS brand of ice cream sandwiches make the perfect size small dessert. They can be found in the natural food freezer section of your grocery store.

Nut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites

chickpeas_processorSeemingly one of the most widely spread Facebook recipes I’ve seen, these cookie bites are pretty good when you’re craving melty, homemade chocolatey chip cookies. They are wheat free, gluten free, dairy free and pack a nice punch of protein and fiber. In my opinion, they’re only good when they’re warm, so I recommend making the batter and keeping it in an airtight container in the fridge, only baking the amount you want to eat each time. Plus, it’s a good way to not over indulge.

RECIPE: Nut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites

  • batter1 can chic peas (drained, rinsed and patted dry)
  • 2/3 cup almond butter (or any kind of natural nut butter you have on hand)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup, honey or agave nectar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of sea salt, optional
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
Preheat oven to scoop350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or use a silpat. Combine all ingredients except chocolate chips in a food processor. Blend until completely smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed. Stir in chocolate chips. Using a small cookie scoop or a teaspoon, drop cookie dough on baking sheet. You don’t need to leave a lot of room between the cookies as they don’t spread out or rise up much at all. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for about 5 minutes before eating.

Creamy Cheese Tortellini with Spinach, Tomatoes, and Pesto

My boyfriend, Matt, is a large human being. As a 6’5″, 300-pounder who trains strongman events with what is known as the ‘meat crew,’ my extensive list of kale salads doesn’t cut the mustard in feeding that guy. I’m committed to make sure he eats as healthy as possible, but considering his 4,000-calorie and 300 grams of protein a day diet, feeding him can be exhausting, to say the least. Unfortunately I loathe the crockpot, which would probably be the easiest way to deal with this scenario. Give me a dutch oven and I can braise anything to almost perfection. But as a cooking vessel, the crock pot makes no sense to me and I promise to ruin everything I put in there, without fail – except this. Thank you Facebook for another fad recipe that turned out to be a winner that can satisfy a strongman.

NOTE: This recipe has been altered from the original to add protein and more flavors, but can easily be served as a vegetarian meal.

spinach_tortellini_crockpotRECIPE: Creamy Cheese Tortellini with Spinach, Tomatoes, Sausage & Pesto

  • 1 bag of frozen cheese tortellini
  • 1 bag of fresh spinach
  • 2 cans of organic diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 block of cream cheese, cubed (Greek style for extra protein, if you can find it)
  • 1/2 cup prepared pesto (I usually have leftover pesto in my fridge, or you make it fresh or buy it)
  • OPTIONAL 1 lb. of sausage, cooked (ground or cut links, pork, turkey, chicken, italian, plain or seasoned – your choice)
  • box (or 4 cups) organic vegetable or chicken stock

Put all ingredients in crock pot and cook on low for 4-6 hrs. Check tortellini after 3 hours to see if it’s finished, and keep your eye on the consistency of the sauce. Add a little more stock if it gets too thick before the tortellini is done cooking. Enjoy!

*Images by Little Fellow and Tawna Allred