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Saturday, December 20, 2008

holiday break

i'm taking a break from healthy and budgeted cooking for the next week and a half and i think you should too! (i'm also taking a break from posting. i'll be back after the holidays.) here are some of the not-so-healthy, but oh-so-delicious things i'll be cooking.
  • peach melba pie
  • swedish apple pie
  • creamed corn (yes, this will involve whole cream... yikes...)
  • funeral potatoes with lots of cheese, butter and sour cream
mmm... i'm getting a tummy ache already, but it's going to be so yummy! :)

what are you making for your holiday feast?

merry christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 15, 2008

recipe of the week: pumpkin chocolate chip muffins

i totally have a thing for pumpkin this time of year! i don't know what it is, but i crave pumpkin everything during the holidays! and since i'm kind of muffin crazy, here's a fun butter-less, oil-less recipe with no white flour. mmm....

pumpkin chocolate chip muffins
18 muffins

8 oz (fat free or low fat) vanilla yogurt (generic brands are often 8 oz)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup pureed pumpkin
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon all spice
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup oat flour (run oats through your blender!)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup chocolate chips (you could leave these out, but they are pretty yummy!)

1. cream butter,vanilla and sugar. add eggs and pumpkin and whip until combined.
2. add all dry ingredients and stir until combined.
3. stir in 1/2 cup water until combined. then stir in chocolate chips.
4. pour batter into 18 greased muffin tin spots.
5. bake at 350 about 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

this is my cute daughter eating dinner and posing with the muffins. i love that face!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

making "healthy" desserts

i realize "healthy dessert" is an oxy moron, but there are some things you can do to make your desserts lots healthier than they start out. here are a few quick tricks, some of which i've discussed before and some of which may be new!
  • make friends with your dessert. this may seem like a strange part of this list, but one of the best ways to make dessert healthier is to eat less of it! duh! get your fix in and then give lots away to your friends and neighbors. they'll appreciate it and you'll be glad you didn't get sick on your cookie dough. (i did this last week, so i would know. it was soooo yummy though... i just needed to make the cookies and get them out the door faster.
  • never use oil. if a recipe calls for oil, use applesauce or yogurt instead. 1:1 ratio works great.
  • avoid recipes with lots of butter. you may often be able to find a recipe that is similar that uses oil instead of butter and then you can substitute it.
  • sneak in some non-white flour. it drives my husband crazy when he knows i do this, but if he doesn't know, he often loves is and then i tell him what i did! ha! i like to use part wheat or part oat flour (put some oats in your blender for this!). i made this apple cake from elise's a few weeks back with part wheat flour and it was fabulous!
  • add wheat germ or flax seed in place of some of the flour. these are extra, super healthy for you and a little bit goes a long way. i wouldn't substitute more than 1/4 to 1/3 of the flour for these.
  • cut back the sugar. this doesn't always work, but some recipes call for way too much sugar and it tastes better with less. just taste your batter to make sure you didn't take too much out. honey is expensive, but you can also use some honey instead of sugar - it's better for you!
  • use fat free ingredients, even if you're usually opposed. baking is a great time to use fat free cream cheese, sour cream, milk, etc. because however much you think they taste different, it's hard to taste the difference when they're baked into things.
  • make recipes that include a fruit or veggie. i love apple cake, carrot cake and zucchini bread. mmmm....

the applesauce for oil substitution will work in any recipe. try the flour and sugar ones. if it isn't yummy in one recipe try it in another!

i wanted to use some of the homemade baby food my daughter is no longer eating so i decided to create these carrot cake bars. (have no fear, you can simply steam some carrots and run them through your blender with some water. 4 oz is about 4 ice cube sized blocks). they have no white flour, no oil or butter, lots of carrots and even the un-frosting has no butter and has less than a cup of powdered sugar instead of like 4-5 cups like normal frosting. i brought them to a church thing and people couldn't believe what wasn't in them. you can see how good they were from the picture. :)

no-guilt carrot cake bars with cream cheese un-frosting

makes 1 jelly roll pan-full

3/4 cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups applesauce
3 eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup oat flour
1 cup wheat flour
½ cup wheat germ
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 (4 ounce) jar carrot baby food (or homemade baby food, see note above)
1 cup shredded carrots (or more if you'd like!)
½ cup un sweetened shredded coconut (optional), soaked in water for 20 minutes

1. cream sugar, brown sugar and applesauce. add vanilla and eggs and cream again.

2. add oat flour, wheat flour, wheat germ, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. mix until combined. add carrot baby food and mix again until combined.

3. stir in shredded carrots and coconut.

4. bake at 350 for 18-22 minutes in a jelly roll pan. done when toothpick comes out clean.

cream cheese un-frosting

whip 1 block 1/3 less fat cream cheese (softened). then add 4 tablespoons milk and ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons powdered sugar and whip until combined. spread over carrot cake bars.

recipe of the week: black bean burgers and oven fries

only someone who really loves food would crave a burger and fries the monday after thanksgiving weekend. i'm crazy, but i just can't help myself. the only problems - it was meatless monday and i was less than thrilled about using a whole package of my ground turkey to make a few turkey burgers. so i jumped on and found these delicious little babies and they were fabulous (and so cheap and easy to make)!! and the fries were the best oven fries i've ever had! (this recipe had the trick to make them crispy like real fries - sugar! i know, weird, but try it! the fries aren't sweet, just crispy and oh so good.)

mini black bean burgers
8 mini burgers or 4 regular-size burgers

1 (16 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 green bell pepper, cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 onion, cut into wedges
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 egg
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon thai chili sauce or hot sauce
1/2 cup bread crumbs

1. if grilling, preheat an outdoor grill for high heat, and lightly oil a sheet of aluminum foil. if baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees f, and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
2. in a medium bowl, mash black beans with a fork until thick and pasty.
3. in a food processor, finely chop bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Then stir into mashed beans.
4. in a small bowl, stir together egg, chili powder, cumin, and chili sauce.
5. stir the egg mixture into the mashed beans. Mix in bread crumbs until the mixture is sticky and holds together. divide mixture into four patties. place on baking sheet and refridgerate until ready to cook to help them hold together better. (i had mine in the fridge for about 1/2 of the day and they didn't fall apart)
6. if grilling, place patties on foil, and grill about 8 minutes on each side. If baking, place patties on baking sheet, and bake about 10 minutes on each side.
serve on whole wheat hamburger buns or rolls with your favorite hamburger toppings.

oven fries
about 4-6 servings

2 1/2 pounds baking potatoes
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 pinch ground cayenne pepper
black pepper to liking (i added this - you don't have to!)

1. preheat oven to 450 degrees f. line a baking sheet with foil, and coat well with cooking spray. scrub potatoes well and cut into 1/2 inch thick fries.
2. in a large mixing bowl, toss potatoes with oil, sugar, salt and cayenne pepper. spread on baking sheet in one layer. cook immediately and don't let them sit.
3. bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until potatoes are tender and browned. serve immediately.
oven fries from

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

spicing up hot cereal

so back when i started this blog i wrote a lengthy diatribe about the benefits of eating hot cereal for breakfast (cheap, healthy, more money for the rest of the day's food, etc. click the link to read more). sometimes hot cereal gets boring, so we've tried to switch it up at our house lately. here are a two hot cereals we've been gobbling up and looking for more. the first is my spin on a tradition in my husband's house growing up and the second is my version of a classic.

corn meal mush and toast (we call it "cornlaw", my mother-in-law called it "gruel and toast" and my sister-in-law calls it "grandma's special corn meal breakfast" - you pick!)
2 servings

1 ½ cup water
½ cup water (or milk if you prefer - i'm allergic so i use water!)
½ cup corn meal
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 – ¼ teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons white sugar

2 slice of your favorite bread, toasted
toast toppings of your choice (i do a tiny bit of butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, my husband does no cinnamon and sugar and just drenches the whole thing in butter. ewww.)

1. bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil. add 1/2 cup water from the tap then turn heat to low. slowly stir/whisk in 1/2 cup corn meal, a little bit at a time to avoid clumps.
2. when all corn meal is added, add salt, sugar and vanilla and stir thouroughly. either let simmer on very low heat until thick or turn off heat if it seems to be thickening quickly.
3. break your toast, prepared with desired toppings, into small pieces into the bottom of a bowl. top with corn meal mush and eat!

apple cinnamon oatmeal
2 servings

1 apple, peeled, cored and sliced into small pieces
½ tablespoon butter
½ tablespoon white sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup oats (quick or regular)
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon vanilla

1. melt butter in a sauce pan. sautee sliced apples in the butter 4-5 minutes or until a little bit soft and then add white sugar and cinnamon. stir until completely combined.
2. while sauteeing the apples, bring 2 cups water and the salt to a boil. add oats, stir and reduce heat to low. when it is about half way done, add sauteed apples, brown sugar and vanilla. continue simmering until desired thickness is reached. eat and enjoy!

healthy cooking on a budget

disclaimer: i don't claim to be an expert on cooking, weight loss or even healthy eating, but i do love to cook, find healthy, taste bud-friendly tricks and most of all, i love to eat!

qualifications: what qualifies me to blog on cooking healthy on a small budget? well, as my husband is still a student, my budget is not what you'd call large. and as for the healthy part, when i was 10 i was diagnosed with pancreatitus - a disease that doesn't effect me much anymore unless i eat food that is too greasy or has too much fat (in which case, well, let's just say i get really sick). this had steered my experience and limited cooking expertise in a health-conscious direction.

please feel free to comment, criticise, rate recipes, try ideas and make requests for future posts!