Healthy Dinner Idea

I love to experiment and try new things with healthy foods.  Last night, I made a very interesting spaghetti.  I used texturized vegetable protein (otherwise known as TVP or soy protein crumbles) instead of ground hamburger or turkey meat.  I also put the sauce on top of spaghetti squash instead of noodles.  I served it with a side dish of salad (romaine lettuce, spinach, and red & green peppers).  So, basically the entire meal was nothing but vegetables (except for the 2 different kinds of cheeses I used on top).   I didn’t go by a recipe when making the sauce, but here’s the gist of what I did:

one 15 ounce can of tomato sauce

1 small can of tomato paste

water (about enough to fill up 2 of the tomato paste cans)

parsley (to taste)

oregano (to taste)

3 or 4 cloves of garlic

minced onion

one cup of TVP

spaghetti squash

I heated up the tomato sauce and tomato paste, then added the above ingredients and simmered it while I was heating up the spaghetti squash in the microwave.  I cut the spaghetti squash length-wise, and then pulled out the seeds.  I heated 1/2 of it in the microwave for 8 minutes.  When it was done, I used a fork to scrape the sides so that the squash flaked out in a very thin texture, kind of like noodles.  I then served the sauce over the squash with the salad.  My husband LOVED it!  I was concerned how he would like it since I snuck in the TVP (it’s a little different texture than regular hamburger meat).  He said it was very hearty and that I could make that again!  So, I thought I would pass along that dinner idea.  It really didn’t take long at all to prepare, and the ingredients are super inexpensive.  If anyone decides to try this, I would love to know what you think!


I think I found the PERFECT healthy snack…homemade protein bars!

This is super easy, and it is absolutely perfect for either breakfast, pre-workout, post-workout recovery, or anytime snack.  It is a great combo of healthy complex carbs, high-quality protein, and “good fat”.  If you use the Smart Balance brand of all-natural peanut butter that has flax oil, then you get an added nutritional boost.  Here’s the recipe…

 2 cups dry old-fashioned oats

4 scoops of whey protein powder

1/2 cup all-natural peanut butter

approx 6 tbsp. of water

Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl (easiest to do by hand).  Dough should be fairly stiff and formed into bars on wax paper.  Either freeze for 30 minutes or chill in refrigerator until ready to eat. 

I tried this recipe today, and it really does taste great!  It made 6 bars for me, but I made them kind of big… you might be able to make 8 bars out of this recipe if you make them a little smaller.  You have no idea how excited I am about this, because this will solve the dilemma of what kind of snack you can eat on the go.  (I found this recipe in The Body Sculpting Bible For Women.)  This is so inexpensive and easy to carry around.  However, it should be refrigerated, so just remember that and plan accordingly.

Healthy Dessert Option: Chocolate Almond Angel Food Cake

This comes from The Get With the Program Guide to Good Eating by Bob Greene.

This luscious cake is as light as a feather and full of chocolate flavor – and contains almost no fat.  Make sure that your bowl and beaters are absolutely clean and grease-free and there’s not a speck of yolk in your egg whites; fold the whites gently into the flour mixture to make sure you get maximum volume.  Serve the cake with raspberry sauce , fresh fruit of your choice, or a small scoop of carmel-flavored frozen yogurt.

Makes one 10-inch cake.

3/4 cup cake flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)

pinch of salt

1 cup sugar

12 egg whites, at room temperature

1 tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/3 bup blanched toasted almonds, finely chopped

optional toppings as listed above

Posistion the oven rack in the lower third of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 350.  Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and 1/4 cup of the sugar and set aside.  In a clean, dry bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until foamy.  Add the cream of tartar, and vanilla extract and continue to beat at high speed, gradually adding the remaining 3/4 cup sugar.  Beat just until stiff peaks form; do not overbeat, or the whites will become grainy.  Sift 1/4 of the flour mixture over the beaten egg whites and gently fold it into the whites with a rubber spatula.  Alternately fold in the almonds and the remaining flour mixture in small batches, until everything is just incorporated.  Pour the batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan, run a spatula through the mixture to emove any air pockets, and smooth the top.  Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.  Remove the cake from the oven and invert the pan over an upended funnel or bottle.  Allow the cake to cool completely, about 1 hour.  Run a knife around the edges of the pan and the tube to loosen the cake and turn it into a serving platter. 

Optional Raspberry Sauce Recipe

This sauce makes a great topping for frozen yogurt or fresh berries, and really dresses up the Chocolate Almond Angel Food Cake.  It’s just as good made with frozen unsweetened raspberries as it is with fresh, which means it’s a year-round treat.  The sauce will keep, tightly covered, for five days in the refrigerator.

Makes about 2 cups

3 cups fresh raspberries or 1 package thawed, unsweetened frozen raspberries

1/3 cup sugar

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp orange liqueur or port wine (optional)

In a blender, puree the raspberries, sugar, lemon juice, and liqueur, if desired.  Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any seeds.  Store in the refrigerator until needed.

Turkey lasagna recipe

This recipe came out of Jorge Cruise’s book The 3-Hour Diet.  I thought it looked interesting, so I decided to share it. 

Serves 4.

Cooking spray

7 ounces ground turkey or turkey sausage, casing removed

1 medium onion, chopped

1 3/4 cups spaghetti sauce

2/3 cup water

1 1/2 cups wide egg noodles

1 1/2 cups diced zucchini (1/2 inch pieces)

1/3 cup low-fat or fat-free ricotta cheese

1 tbsp parmesan cheese

1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

3 ounces grated reduced fat mozzarella cheese (about 3/4 cup)

Lightly coat a large skillet with cooking spray.  Brown the turkey over medium-high heat, stirring to break up lumps.  Add the onion and cook until tender.  Drain off excess fat.  Add the spaghetti sauce and water.  Bring to a boil and add the noodles.  Cook for 3 minutes, then add the zucchini.  Bring back to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until noodles are tender.

Mix the ricotta, Parmesan, and parsley in a small bowl; stir until a smooth paste forms.  Drob by rounded teaspoonfuls onto the simmering mixture, making 10 to 12 small mounds.  Sprinkle the mozzarella evenly over all, reduce the heat to low, and cook 4 to 5 minutes more.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving. 

Enjoy with a mixed green salad of your choice.

Fresh Spinach Basil Salad

Fresh Spinach-Basil Salad

Serves 4

6 cups torn fresh spinach          2 tsp. Extra-virgin olive oil

½ cup torn fresh basil               1 small clove garlic, minced

2 tbsp. Orange juice                  2 tbsp (1/2 ounce) shaved Parmesan cheese

1 tbsp. Rice wine vinegar


In a large bowl, combine the spinach and basil.  In a small bowl, combine the orange juice, vinegar, oil and garlic; mix well.  Toss the spinach and basil with enough dressing to lightly coat the leaves.  Place the greens on a platter and sprinkle with the Parmesan.

Preparation time:  5 minutes

Chef’s note:  To shave Parmesan cheese, use a vegetable peeler to cut small, thin strips of cheese.  The cheese will have a distinctive appearance, and you’ll get the most flavor from it.


Per serving:  59 calories, 3.5 g. fat (48% of calories), 2.3 g. dietary fiber, 2 mg. Cholesterol, 125 mg. Sodium.


Yummy afternoon snack idea

I am working on ways to try to “sneak in” those raw fruits and veggies through creative snacks.  My top priority is that it MUST taste good, or else I won’t eat it.  I think I found something that is actually quite tasty and filling. 

 I chopped up raw veggies (I used carrots, zucchini, and squash) into very small pieces and put them in a tupperware bowl in my refrigerator.  Then I measured out a half cup of the veggies with a half cup of 1% fat cottage cheese & put a little bit of garlic powder in it to give it some flavor.  I stirred it all up and then used it as a spread for a fat-free, no sodium 35 calorie rice cake. 

It’s GOOD and pretty filling, too.  So, I think I might have found a winner.  I will probably try to use this as a mid-afternoon snack just because it’s usually a good idea to start laying off the carbs & trying to get in the protein and veggies later in the day.  The reason for that is because I’m not typically as active late in the day compared to the mornings when I do a lot of my training and working myself out.  A good rule of thumb is to think about what you will be doing for the upcoming 3 hours when choosing what kind of meal/snack to eat.  You need more carbs when you will be requiring more energy; you need more protein when you will be more sedentary or sleeping.  So, later in the day and at night, I typically try to find ways to lower my simple and starchy carbs and eat more protein.  That’s why I think this will be a great mid-afternoon snack for me. 

I will make a confession, though.  I haven’t found a good snack to eat at night before bed.  I sometimes wake up STARVING, so I really do need to eat something before I go to bed (sorry Bob Greene… I disagree with you there…).  Unfortunately I haven’t found anything that suits me yet.  If anybody has any suggestions, send them my way!  I’ve heard people drinking protein shakes, but I can’t drink too many liquids at night.  I’ve read to try to eat egg whites to curb the hunger pangs, but I haven’t been able to stomach this to make it a regular habit.  I’m open for suggestions, and if I find anything – I’ll let everyone know! 

Healthy Warm Apple Crisp Recipe

I got this out of The Get With the Program! Guide to Good Eating by Bob Greene (Oprah’s trainer).  I tried it out today, even though technically it’s a good dessert to make in the fall and winter months.  It’s OUTSTANDING!!  Granted, you still need to watch your portion size, because this does have a little butter, sugar, and flour in it.  It is a treat to eat in extreme moderation.  It serves 4, so you may want to double or triple it if you plan to serve it for a dinner party or something.

 Nonfat cooking spray

2 cups peeled, cored and thinly sliced apples, such as Granny Smiths

2 tbsp sugar, or to taste

1/4 cup apple juice

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

2 tsp cornstarch

1 tsp ground cinnamon

pinch of nutmeg

oat topping ingredients:

1/2 cup walnuts or almonds, finely chopped

1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tbsp all-purpose flour

2 tbsp softened unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 350.  Coat an 8-inch square shallow baking dish with cooking spray.  In a large bowl, toss together the apples, sugar, apple juice, lemon juice, cornstarch, cinnamon, and nutmeg until well combined.  Set aside.

Make the oatmeal topping:  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, gently combine the walnuts or almonds, oats, brown sugar, flour, and butter at low speed. 

Place the apple mixture in the dish.  Sprinkle the topping evenly over the apples and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the apples are cooked through, the juices are bubbling, and the topping is browned.  Serve, hot, warm, or at room temperature.