Oat Bran-Applesauce Muffins from Power Foods

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I’ve been holding out on you; I’m sorry. I received a review copy of the fabulous new cookbook, Power Foods, a few weeks ago but things have been crazy around here and I just haven’t had the time or energy to write the kind of review that would do it justice. Instead I kept the book to myself, making recipe after recipe, thinking about how excited I was to get to share it with you all. Well, enough is enough. I hope that you’ll accept this muffin recipe as an apology.

Power Foods is a beautiful, softcover cookbook from the editors of Whole Living Magazine. The concept of the book is simple: 150 recipes featuring 38 healthy ingredients — from asparagus and Swiss chard to salmon and pecans. Unlike a lot of other cookbooks that are published this time of year Power Foods isn’t a “diet” cookbook; it simply promotes eating healthy, whole foods that are chock-full of nutrients. That’s my kind of cookbook!   

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I really like how this book is laid out. It starts with a one-page overview of each “power food” — explaining the food’s health benefits, providing tips for purchasing and storage, and directing the reader to specific recipes in the book that use the highlighted ingredient. Following that section are the standard cookbook chapters: breakfasts, starters & snacks, sandwiches & wraps, soups & stews, salads, main dishes, side dishes, and desserts. Finally, there’s a nifty little section that they call “The Basics” that includes informative overviews of things like oils, herbs, and sweeteners, as well as nutritional breakdowns for each “power food.”

There honestly isn’t a single thing that I don’t love about this cookbook – I’m completely smitten. Gorgeous, full-page photographs accompany most of the recipes, nutritional information is included for each recipe, and the ingredient lists are simple and straight forward (I’ve made a few substitutions here and there — like using oat bran instead of wheat bran in the recipe below — but the only thing I’ve actually had to buy especially for this book is flax).

And the recipes? Delicious and creative. These applesauce muffins were fantastic for breakfast. The walnut-crusted chicken breasts along with the shredded Brussels sprouts salad made a great weeknight dinner (it was on the table in under 15 minutes). Turnip was an interesting and welcome surprise in the paprika shrimp. I can’t wait to try the soba noodle soup, or the quinoa and turkey patties, or the halibut in green tea broth. I know, I’m swooning again. This book is just that awesome. I’ve never said this on this blog before, but here it goes: if you have any interest in healthy cooking at all, buy this book. Now. It’s $16.44 on Amazon and worth every cent.

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Click through to continue reading and get the recipe for Oat Bran-Applesauce Mini Muffins –>

Easy Herb-Roasted Chicken & Vegetables

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This one-pan meal is one of my favorite things to make when I don’t feel like cooking but still want to sit down to a healthy dinner. The simple mustard and herb sauce infuses boneless chicken breasts with a ton of flavor and keeps them from drying out in the oven, while an assortment of vegetables keeps the meal interesting and nutritious.

But the best part? It only takes a few minutes to prep (10 minutes tops)! Which means I can sit down, put my feet up, and let dinner cook itself.

Tip: This meal is also a great way to clean out the produce bins in your fridge. The recipe below contains my favorite combination, but you can use green beans instead of asparagus, omit the mushrooms, increase the carrots, etc depending on what you happen to have on hand. If you happen to have baby carrots, you can throw them in — no need to cut them first — and shave off even more prep time!

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Click to continue reading an get the recipe for Easy Herb-Roasted Chicken & Vegetables –>

Beef and Zucchini Burgers

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My burger has a secret: it’s only half beef.

Adding shredded zucchini to my burger is a tip that I picked up years ago from a magazine (Shape? Self? Something along those lines) and, every so often, I pull it out of my bag of healthy-cooking tricks. Since I don’t really care for turkey burgers and I’m not always in the mood for a veggie burger, this is a great option for those times when I’m looking for a lower fat alternative to a traditional burger.

The moisture in the zucchini lets you use extra-lean beef without ending up with a dry burger, and the added bulk means a bigger burger for less calories and fat. While you probably won’t be able to pull a fast one on your veggie-hating kids with this recipe (after all, you can see the shredded zucchini in there), you’d be hard-pressed to identify it in a lineup of all-beef burgers in a blind taste test.

Thinking about toppings? Blue cheese is my favorite, but you can also go for a more traditional American Cheese/Lettuce/Tomato combo. Or go wild with Onion Jam or Tzatziki!

(Those onion rings on the side are Alexia, another guiltless trick I’ve been using for years. They’re heads above other onion rings you can find at the grocery store — and even better than some restaurants. They’re actually whole rings of onion — not mushy chopped onion — and they get wonderfully crispy in the oven. If you haven’t tried them yet, I highly recommend them.)

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Click to get the recipe for Beef and Zucchini Burgers –>

Beef and Bean Chili with Pickled Onions

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The subtle, smoky heat of chipotles peppers and the bright snap of pickled onions make this rich stew one of our favorites, and Shawn often requests it.

Unlike other chili recipes that use ground meat, this one calls for cubes of stew beef that, combined with the cornmeal used to thicken it, give the chili a rustic feel that reminds me of cowboys eating around a campfire. This chili is hearty enough to serve on it’s own – no need for rice – but I like to have a few corn tortillas on the side to help sop up the last bits of sauce.

Don’t be tempted to skip the onions – they’re what makes this dish, and it just isn’t the same at all without them.

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Tip: I almost always buy packages of pre-cubed stew beef for this recipe, but I find that it’s best to cut each cube into two or three pieces before cooking. Otherwise, they’re too big and I need to use a knife in order to eat my chili. Cutting the cubes into smaller pieces also increases the surface area of the beef, making more room for the other flavors. If you can’t find pre-cubed meat, you can use a chuck roast or any other cut of meat suitable for stewing/braising.

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Click through to get the recipe for Beef and Bean Chili with Pickled Onions –>

Six Recipes to Start the New Year Right

The start of the year is a great time for new beginnings and I, like so many other people, hope to take the time to refocus on eating healthily. After a season of festivity, it can be difficult to get back on track — and cold, gloomy weather that makes me crave comfort foods certainly doesn’t help!
Starting this week, I’ll be back to regularly posting healthy and delicious recipes — I have a chili recipe planned for Thursday that you won’t want to miss — but before I get to that, I thought I would take the opportunity to look back at some of my favorite healthy recipes from the past year or so. These six meals (I just couldn’t narrow it down to five; you get a bonus) are comforting, easy to prepare, and full of flavor that’s perfect for the cold winter months. In other words, they’re the perfect way to start 2011 off on the right foot, without feeling deprived.
Happy New Year!


Spicy Crab and Corn Chowder


Mahi Mahi in Oolong Broth


Taco Bake


Southwest Lentil Patties with Creamy Lime Dressing