During December 2011, I experienced 3 gallbladder attacks within a week and a half. Although I don't think my diet was THAT bad before this happened, I decided after the third one to drastically alter my eating habits. So, for at least the next couple of months (until my baby comes), my goal is to seek out and share low-fat, high fiber, and low-sugar recipes. I figured as long as I was figuring things out for myself and my family, I may as well share what's working!

October 23, 2013

Raspberry Cranberry Jello Salad

Several years ago, when I helped put on a dinner for 50+ women from church, one of the other ladies suggested serving this salad. It sounded interesting...but after I made it, OH MAN. I've dreamed about it since then. It was SO GOOD. I recently contact that friend and she re-sent the recipe--so now it's going up here so I don't lose it again. I can't wait to serve this for Thanksgiving!

1 large box raspberry jello
2 cups boiling water
1 can WHOLE cranberry sauce
1 bag frozen raspberries

Mix water and jello until all granules are dissolved. Stir in cranberry sauce, then raspberries. Refrigerate until firm.

NOTES: The first time I had this, we used blackberries instead of raspberries and it was absolutely wonderful.

September 7, 2013

Gramma Betty's Granola

For as long as I can remember, my Gramma Betty has been the healthiest eater I know. She's not fanatical about it--but she's consistent. (And, "Gramma" is the way she's always spelled it.) My dad remembers before she changed her ways, but for as long as I've been alive, she's always been a health-nut, in a good way, cooking and baking with honey, whole grains, healthy fats, and all kinds of good-for-you foods. And, just for the record, she didn't require us to eat that way--she often made something for the family and something honey-sweetened for herself.

I have a lot of memories associated with Gramma's cooking. I remember sitting in the kitchen nook around her huge, heavy round table with a built-in, elevated lazy susan. There are always cousins or siblings around that table in any given memory. (And lots of family folk lore...items flinging off when someone spun the lazy susan too fast, aphids on the fresh flowers she always has on her table, etc. Our family of 8 had the table when I was a teenager and my older brother now uses it for his family of 7.)

I remember sitting at that table eating some kind of loaf--bean, meat, or otherwise--with my aunt. And we agreed it tasted like dog food. So I left it and went out back to jump on the trampoline. (Gramma making something gross was rare. At least in my memory.)

I liked that she had safflower mayonnaise. Since it tasted better than Best Foods to me, I remember wanting my mom to get some for our family. (She never did...)

I remember Gramma having 2 versions of whipped cream, honey-sweetened or sugar-sweetened, for her family-famous, delicious buckwheat waffles.

I remember when she introduced us to "Swedish Oatmeal," regular oatmeal topped with fruit and whipped cream, at the family cabin in Mammoth Lakes, California.

I remember, as a teenager, sitting and chatting with my cousin in Gramma's pantry with the clear glass door. It smelled healthy--like herbs, spices, and grains all at once. She must have passed by us about eighty-three times before she opened the door to grab something and finally noticed that we were in there.

After I got married, we finally lived near Gramma. I realized that even after moving three or four times, her pantry still smells the same. She still makes her buckwheat waffles and I've never seen her make the dog food loaf again.

In more recent years, I was introduced to Gramma's granola. She makes a huge batch, saves some for herself and delivers the rest to friends and family in little jars she's saved from her safflower mayonnaise and all fruit jams. It is so yummy and so full of good-for-you ingredients!

It has been a few years since we have lived near Gramma. So I decided to make Gramma's granola. As I mixed it and baked it, I smiled thinking about the little jars of granola she shared with us while we lived nearby. I'm excited for my children to have a small taste of Gramma, even though they can't be with her as often as we'd like. I slightly adapted her recipe, but it tastes just as delicious as I remember!

Gramma Betty's Granola
Yield: 2 large jelly roll pans (FULL)

2 lbs. rolled oats
1 cup wheat flakes
1 cup barley flakes

1 cup broken cashews
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup pistachios
1 cup chopped pecans

1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup sesame seeds (optional)

1 1/2 cups light olive oil
1 1/2 cups honey
1 heaping Tablespoon sea salt
1 heaping Tablespoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Mix oats, flakes, all nuts, and all seeds together in a very large bowl. In a smaller bowl, stir together honey and olive oil until smooth. Add in sea salt and cinnamon; stir until well mixed. Pour honey mixture over oat mixture. Stir until all dry ingredients are evenly coated. Divide mixture between 2 large jelly roll pans. Bake in preheated oven for 18 hours, stirring twice, and rotating pans after stirring. Let cool completely before storing in air-tight container.

NOTES: The wheat and barley flakes are optional. I used both triticale and barley flakes, which I found in the bulk section at Fred Meyer. If you do not use the additional 2 cups of flakes, decrease the honey and olive oil to about 1 cup and the sea salt and cinnamon to 1 Tablespoon, NOT heaping. I didn't want to buy pistachios, so I used chopped walnuts, which I already had. Also, I used 3/4 cup coconut oil (melted in the microwave) and 3/4 cup olive oil. In Gramma's original recipe, she mixes the salt and cinnamon with the dry ingredients. I was concerned that it would all sink to the bottom, so I mixed it in with the honey mixture for more even distribution. I recommend putting this in the oven after dinner and letting it go overnight. That way, you don't have to get up in the middle of the night to take it out. And, just as a point of reference, I stirred it at 5 hours and 13 hours.

March 7, 2012

Healthy Taco Stacks

So, I've obviously not been good at my efforts of posting here.  But, I HAVE been good at finding, fixing, and eating healthy foods during the past couple of months.  I'm happy to report that I haven't had any further gallbladder attacks and managed to keep my itching at bay for quite a while.  Now, here I am, about 2 weeks (or less) from the end of my pregnancy, and as a result of how I've been eating, I've only gained 10 lbs. I'm actually quite happy about that, as my pre-pregnancy weight was well over what it should have been in the first place.

I will not discuss how easy it has been--because, in all honesty, it hasn't been easy. I'm one who loves to cook and bake new things. Let me clarify: new DELICIOUS things. Not all of what I've made has been great and I have "cheated" a few times--eating some sugar or homemade mac & cheese. But, there has been one staple during these past few months that has consistently been what my body wanted AND tastes good, too!  Healthy Taco Stacks.  In the interest of full-disclosure, there have been a few days that my tastebuds rebelled against eating yet another taco stack. But, for the most part, this has been a favorite of mine.  And it's REALLY easy!

Healthy Taco Stacks
Yield: 1 serving

Brown rice
Quick and Easy Black Beans from Our Best Bites -or- fat-free refried beans
Baby spinach
Chopped tomatoes
1/4-1/2 avocado, diced
Salt, to taste

Layer ingredients on a plate in order listed. Be generous with spinach and tomatoes. Eat up!

NOTES: If I don't feel like making the Quick and Easy Black Beans, I will often use dehydrated refried beans which I prepare with a little extra water. I find if they're not very saucy, the whole stack is dry and doesn't taste as good. If you're using canned refried beans, add a little water or chicken stock to thin them out a bit.  Also, you can add other veggies to the mix or squeeze a bit of lime juice over the top. And, if you have cilantro--give it a chop and toss it on. Just gives another layer of flavor!

January 10, 2012

Amanda's Amazing Enchiladas

Forgive me for posting something so non-healthy so soon after I said I was only posting healthy foods!  The back story is that I made these in December, before my body freaked out on me.  They were so incredibly good that I took pics the day AFTER I made them.  (I may or may not have eaten them for both lunch and dinner that day...)

While we were visiting my family for Christmas, my mom had some leftover rotisserie chicken...so I made a double batch of these enchiladas.  And, since it was after the body-freak-out, I didn't have any then.  Let me tell you, that was quite the sacrifice!  But everyone else loved them--and I'm glad that they did.  I find great satisfaction in making food that people enjoy eating!

And, you'll have to forgive the unattractiveness of my photo...it was technically leftovers at this point.  But, hey, I actually took a pic this time!

Amanda's Amazing Enchiladas
Adapted from "Angela's Awesome Enchiladas" at allrecipes.com
Yield: 1 9x13 pan

2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast meat, cooked, shredded
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 1/4 cups sour cream
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1 Tbls. butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chiles
1 (1.25 ounce) package mild taco seasoning mix
1 bunch green onions, chopped, divided
1 cup water
1 tsp. lime juice
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
8 (12 inch) uncooked flour tortillas
3 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
1 (10 ounce) can green enchilada sauce

Combine cream of chicken soup, sour cream, and chili powder in a saucepan. Bring to simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally; turn off the heat and cover to keep warm.

Heat butter in skillet over medium heat. Stir in onion; cook and stir until onion has softened and turned translucent. Add shredded chicken, green chiles, taco seasoning, half of chopped green onion, and water. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in lime juice, onion powder, and garlic powder; simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro.

While chicken simmers, cook tortillas according to package directions. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray 9x13 baking dish with non-stick spray.  Stir 1 cup of soup mixture into skillet with chicken mixture. Spread remaining soup mixture on bottom of baking dish.
Fill each tortilla with chicken mixture. Sprinkle about 2-3 Tbls. cheese over chicken filling before rolling the tortillas, reserving half of shredded cheese for topping enchiladas. Roll tortillas over filling and place seam-side down in prepared pan.

Pour enchilada sauce evenly over enchiladas. Cover with remaining 1 1/2 cups of cheese. Sprinkle reserved chopped green onions over cheese. Bake in preheated oven until filling is heated through and cheese is melted and bubbling, about 30 minutes.
NOTES: I always sub light sour cream in my recipes.  It lowers the fat a bit and still tastes great!  Also, you can use low-fat or "Healthy Request" cream of chicken soup.  (Which I also did when I made them.)  Let me know if you can't get enough of them either!

January 8, 2012

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes

My kids LOVE pancakes.  And by LOVE, I mean that for our family of 5, (which includes 3 kids, ages 2-6), I have to triple my usual recipe because my kids will fill their hollow legs with pancakes.  I've tried "healthifying" my favorite recipe in the past--and while it's fine, I wanted to try something even healthier this time around.  I found this recipe on allrecipes.com and took a few liberties in the name of experimentation.  I have to say, we were all quite pleased with how they turned out!  The kids kept asking for more, I was satisfied, and my husband even appreciated both the healthiness and deliciousness of these pancakes.  I will definitely be making these again! 

(Again--no pic.  Apparently, I need to store my camera in the kitchen!)

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes
Adapted from "Wheat Germ Whole-Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes" at allrecipes.com
Yield: 12 servings

1 1/2 cups Bob's Red Mill whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 cup wheat germ
2 eggs
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbls. agave nectar
2 cups low-fat buttermilk

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into large mixing bowl.  Stir in wheat germ.  Set aside.

In medium mixing bowl, beat eggs, then add applesauce.  Add vanilla and agave nectar; mix well.  Add buttermilk and stir until well combined.

Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients.  Stir only until dry ingredients are moistened.  Let batter sit while pan/griddle pre-heats to 325 degrees. Spray cooking surface with non-stick spray.  Using 1/4 or 1/3 cup measure, pour onto hot griddle.  Flip when edges appear a bit dry and bubbles in pancake no longer fill in.

Serve with real maple syrup. 

(Our favorite way to eat them is with natural peanut butter and real maple syrup, but I'm not doing peanut butter right now.  And, the maple syrup was quite good by itself!)

NOTES: You don't HAVE to use pastry flour in this recipe, BUT--it's more finely ground than regular whole wheat flour, so the pancakes turn out fluffier. 

If you don't have agave nectar, you could use honey or even sugar.  Also, I didn't really measure the agave...I just eyeballed it.  But be warned, because of the differences in sweetening ability, you will need to use about 1 1/2 Tbls. of honey and 2 Tbls. of sugar to replace the agave.  Or, if you want, you could leave the sweetner out altogether.