Healthy Bran Muffins

Some muffins, especially commercial muffins are loaded with saturated fat and slim on fibre and vitamins. This recipe is one that I developed over years of trying to make healthy muffins. After all, once you have a dozen muffins in the freezer, what’s faster than a muffin, a small yogurt and a fruit for breakfast?

The beauty of this recipe is it’s versatility. You could even replace the juice and grated carrot with 1 mashed banana and 1/4 cup of yogurt.

1 1/4 cups flour
1 c. bran
6 T sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg (or not, or any of the sweet spices you have on hand like cinnamon, allspice, cloves, cardamom)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla (or almond flavouring)
2 T oil (vegetable usually, or canola, but really, any oil is good, melted butter will add a hint of creaminess)
3/4 cup orange juice (or any juice you’ve got in the fridge really, pineapple is my favourite, but not a punch or a cocktail, JUICE)
1/4 cup buttermilk (or plain yogurt, or milk with some vinegar or sour cream)
1/2 cup grated carrot (or grated apple, zuchhini, crushed pineapple or any firm fruit or veg that you think might be nifty)
1/2 cup of yummy bits (blueberries, raisins, almonds, walnuts, chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 375F.
Mix dry ingredients.
Mix wet ingredients.
Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients, then stir in any yummy bits.
Spoon into 12 muffin cups, bake for 25-30 minutes.

More notes;
Tropical muffins; use pina coloda yogurt, crushed pineapple, coconut flavouring and stir in coconut flakes as your yummy bits.
Carrot nut; use cinammon, nutmeg, buttermilk, grated carrot and walnut pieces.

Enjoy!

Yummy Winter Veggies

Yummy winter veggies.
(yes really!)

Well, here it is, the dead of winter. You’ve resolved to eat healthy and lose weight, so you go to the produce section of your local grocery store and are met with some whitish-pink tomatoes and some tired looking broccoli for several dollars per pound. Aw man, you mutter, now what? Well, don’t fret because Health Canada has declared that frozen and canned veggies count towards your 5 to 10 servings per day. And with a little help from you, they can be delicious.

WINTER VEGETABLE CURRY

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 medium chopped onion
2 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Generous pinch of dried crushed red pepper
1 cup evaporated skim milk
2 cups fresh or canned cubed potatoes
1 large can of diced tomatoes
2 cups fresh, canned or frozen broccoli florets
1 can chickpeas
2 cups fresh, canned or frozen sliced carrots
1 cup fresh, canned or frozen cauliflower florets

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion, cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add curry powder, cumin and crushed red pepper; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add milk; bring to boil. Add potatoes and tomatoes. Cover; simmer until potatoes are almost tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Add broccoli, carrots, chickpeas and cauliflower. Cover; simmer until all vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over rice.
PS-feel free to add some cut up chicken pieces or even beef if you want a non-vegetarian one-pot meal.

Cauliflower Bake
Serves 6

1 head of cauliflower, cut into bite sized pieces, or use a 1 kg bag of frozen broccoli and cauliflower
2 cups sour cream
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated

Partially cook cauliflower by steaming on the stove or in the microwave. Don’t forget to season it with salt. Place half of the cauliflower in a medium size casserole dish, then spread half of the sour cream on top, then half of the cheese. Repeat the layer. Use low fat or fat free dairy products if you’re counting calories.
Bake 30 minutes at 350F.

Hummus (or however you spell it)

2 large cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp paprika
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp tahini
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup fat free plain yogurt
1/2 tsp cumin, ground
1/2 tsp chili powder

Throw the garlic in the food processor while it’s running. Then add everything else and puree until it’s smooth and creamy. A non “diet” version would use enough olive oil to make the mixture smooth and creamy and no yogurt, but this version is tasty and has only 50 calories per 2 tablespoon serving.

The raw garlic delivers a bite, which increases as the dip matures in your fridge. Next time I would roast the garlic a little to tame it. Then you might need 4 cloves.

The Last of the Summer Harvest

Don’t Squish the Squash! Squash gets a bad rep. Maybe the name puts people off, but in addition to being really healthy and easy to prepare it can be delicious. Winter squash, such as pumpkin is hard shelled and sturdy. Summer squash, such as zucchini is softer and bruises easily. Both are in season and in abundance at your local grocery store.

Pumpkin curry soup;
¼ cup butter
1 small onion, diced
¼ cup flour
1 tsp curry powder or more or less depending on your taste
2 cups of cooked pureed pumpkin or one can of pumpkin puree (make sure you don’t use the pumpkin pie filling) or any winter squash such as butternut or acorn
2 cups of milk or chicken broth or a combination

Melt the butter over medium heat, add the onion and cook until the onion is soft. Stir in the flour and curry until it’s a paste. Add the milk slowly, letting the mixture bubble after each addition. Add the pumpkin and stir. Heat it up until it’s hot. You could puree it with a stick blender or in a food processor if you want it smooth or leave the onions in bits if you want. Add salt to your taste. Serve hot.

Zucchini sauté with tomatoes;
1 Tbsp. Olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 medium or large zucchini, sliced in half rounds
2 tomatoes, sliced in half rounds
dash each of oregano, basil and parsley or use some Italian seasoning.

Heat a fry pan to medium then add the oil. Cook the onion slowly until almost soft. If you are using dried herbs, add them now. Then add the garlic and zucchini. Stir and cook until the zucchini until tendercrisp. Add the tomatoes and if you are using fresh herbs add them now.
This is a great side dish with anything off the grill or out of the oven. It is also fantastic over pasta as a vegetarian dish.

Chicken Paprikash

This delicious recipe came from my former roommates sister, Marion, who loves to cook and is a very good cook. I love any recipe the contains sour cream. It’s what’s for dinner tonight.

Chicken Paprikash
2 onion-chopped
2 T. paprika
1 cut up chicken
1 c. sour cream

Saute onions with paprika until soft.
Place chicken in oiled pan, cover with onions and paprika, bake at 350 F for 30-45 minutes or until chicken is done.
Remove from oven, stir in sour cream.
Serve with spaetzle or buttered noodles and peas and carrots.

Christmas Potluck Question-What to bring?

You’ve been invited to a Christmas party and it’s pot luck. First of all, celebrate because pot luck is not only easier on your host/hostess than a full serve menu, but it’s a great way to see what your friends are up to in a culinary sense. You want to bring something that will be a hit and make you look like the next “Martha” but you don’t want to spend the day in the kitchen. Here’s a tip (this one’s for free) double the recipe and save some for your own family, entertaining or another pot luck.

Feta Cheese Ball with Pita Chips
2 (8oz) packages cream cheese – softened
8 oz feta cheese-crumbled
4 Tbsp olive oil
5 green onions-finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tsp dried dill
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cracked black pepper
Mix well and shape into 2 balls. To get a nice shape, line 2 small dessert bowls with plastic wrap and stuff the cheese mixture in them, then chill. This will give you nice half-rounds to put in the middle of a platter and surround with crackers or pita chips.
Make your own pita chips by cutting small pita bread into wedges, place on a baking sheet in a single layer, then spray with vegetable oil, sprinkle with salt and toast in a 450F oven for 8-10 minutes. Watch them carefully-they will burn before you know it.

Sweet and Sour Chicken Wings
2 pounds of chicken wings
Salt and pepper the wings, then bake in the oven until fully cooked.

1/2 cup water
1/4 cup vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
Mix together in a sauce pan over medium heat until boiling.

1 14oz can pineapple chunks
1 green pepper, chopped
2 Tbsp cornstarch
Combine 1/2 cup of the juice from the pineapple with the cornstarch and stir into boiling mixture, simmer until thick. Stir in the pineapples and green pepper. Pour the sauce over the wings and serve hot as an appetizer or over rice as a main course.
You could use meat balls, pork cubes or chicken cubes and create skewers with a meatball, a piece of green pepper and a pineapple chunk.
When toting this dish to your party you could carry the sauce and meat separately, then assemble and warm it up when you arrive or have it all in a crock pot ready to plug in.