Saturday, November 20, 2010


Everybody loves a cup of chili to warm up to, so why not have a cup full of disease fighting nutrients such as beta carotene, potassium, zinc, vitamins C and E, magnesium, iron, and fiber? Well when you add pumpkin to your chili, you get all that and you won't even be able to tell the difference! Try my low fat pumpkin turkey chili today and the only thing you'll be worried about is if there is enough for seconds!

1 lb. ground turkey
15 oz. can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
15 oz. can pureed pumpkin
30 oz. can diced tomatoes
8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup chicken broth
2 tbs. chili powder
2 tsp. coriander
2 tsp. cumin
1/4-1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
extra virgin olive oil
grated cheddar cheese (for serving- optional)
sour cream (for serving- optional)
diced onions (for serving- optional)

-in a large pot, brown turkey meat in 1-2 tbs. olive oil
-in a large skillet, warm 1 tbs. olive oil over medium heat
-add to the skillet the green pepper, onion, and garlic and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally
-add the green pepper mixture to the browned turkey meat
-mix into the pot the kidney beans, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, broth, and pumpkin puree
-add chili powder, coriander, cumin, cayenne, oregano, salt, and pepper and mix well
-cook until warmed through
-serve with typical chili fixings (like cheese, sour cream, or onions) and enjoy!
serves 6-8

This recipe is my take on the delicious pumpkin turkey chili I had at the Wild Horse Winery in Templeton, California (along with many of their tasty wines!)

[Me at the Wild Horse Winery]
-Make sure you use 100% pure pumpkin puree and not pumpkin PIE puree which has pumpkin pie spices already added to it.
-Try the recipe with ground chicken or beef instead.
-Zest it up a bit and replace the 1/3 cup broth with beer or wine!
-Don't like your chili so chunky? Use tomato sauce instead of the diced tomatoes. You can also puree your onions and peppers into a 'paste' and then mix into the chili. It won't be so chunky, but you still get the great taste.
-If fresh pumpkins are in season, use 2 cups of roasted pumpkin chunks instead of the puree.
-Add roasted butternut squash, mushrooms, corn, grated carrots, or red bell peppers to the chili for added vegetables. Then you can...
-Make it vegetarian! Leave out the meat and add more veggies!
-Make the chili in advance, and freeze it for later!
-Keep it warm in a slow cooker- perfect for potluck dinners!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Looking for some cheesy, creamy indulgence without all the guilt? My version of this Mexican favorite stays healthy by using low fat, high protein yogurt and fiberful brown rice. Smokey, roasted poblano peppers add a mild heat which blends perfectly with the sweet corn. Combine the creamy chicken and rice with my easy, zesty Mexican black beans and you have a complete, healthy, and delicious meal!

for rice:
2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
2 poblano peppers
1 cup brown rice
1 jalapeno, small diced
1 small yellow or white onion, small diced (about 1/2 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup corn (defrosted, if using frozen)
2 oz. goat cheese
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (0% fat)
3/4 cup grated monterey jack or pepper jack cheese
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
salt and pepper
canola or vegetable oil

for beans:
30 oz. canned black beans
2 tbs. red onion, small diced
1/2 of a red bell pepper, small diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1 medium or 2 small tomatoes, small diced (about 3/4 cup)
1 lime, juiced
salt and pepper
few dashes hot sauce (optional)
canola or vegetable oil

for rice:
-roast the poblanos peppers over an open flame (such as gas stove top) or place on a baking sheet and broil until outside becomes black and charred
-place peppers into a brown lunch bag and seal tight, allowing the steam to help loosen the charred skin
-meanwhile, combine rice with 1 3/4 cups of water into a large sauce pan
-bring to a boil, reduce temperature to low, stir once, and cover with a tight fitting lid
-cook the rice for 45 minutes
-once peppers has cooled, the charred skin should easily wipe off
-once skin is removed, remove the stem and seeds of the peppers
-cut the roasted peppers into 1" slices
-in a small skillet, warm 1 tbs. oil over medium to medium-low heat
-add onions, garlic, and jalapeno to the skillet and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally
-once rice is done cooking, add to it the peppers, onion mixture, corn, chicken, goat cheese, 1/2 cup jack cheese, and yogurt
-stir until rice is evenly coated
-place rice into a greased 8x10 casserole dish (or similar size)
-place in a 375 degree oven and cook for 20-25 minutes until it is hot and bubbly
-(if necessary,) place under a broiler for 5-7 minutes until cheese turns golden brown
-allow to cool, serve, and enjoy!

serves 4

for beans:
-rinse and drain beans
-in a medium saute pan, warm 1 tbs. oil over medium to medium-low heat
-add red peppers, onion, and garlic and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally
-add tomatoes, beans, coriander, lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste
-if you like it hot, add a few dashes of hot sauce!
-serve warm as a side dish, and enjoy!

serves 4

This recipe came about when I took some of my extra goat cheese enchilada filling and mixed it with some brown rice for a quick lunch- it was a delicious success!

-Never roasted a pepper before? Check these out: stove top roasting or oven roasting.
-If you are still nervous about roasting and removing the skins of the poblanos, skip those steps! Remove the stem and seeds, cut the peppers into 1" slices, and cook with the onions, garlic, and jalapenos on the stove top. It will taste just as good, just a little less 'smokey' flavored.
-Can't find poblanos? Use 8 oz. of canned, chopped green chilies.
-No goat cheese? Cream cheese will work just as well.
-White rice or wild rice can also be used in this recipe, just change the cooking time accordingly! (White rice only takes about 15-20 minutes to cook!)
-Try red beans or pinto beans instead of black beans.
-You can also use cheddar cheese or Mexican Chihuahua cheese instead of jack cheese.
-Instead of chopped tomatoes in the beans, add some chunky salsa instead!
-Leave the chicken out of the rice dish for a tasty vegetarian meal!
-Leftovers? Mix the beans and rice together, roll it in a tortilla shell, and cover with enchilada sauce!
-If you like your rice extra creamy, add an additional 1/3 cup of yogurt.
-Can't find plain Greek yogurt? Use low fat or fat free sour cream.
-Don't need so much? Cut the recipe in half!
-Want to kick up the heat of your beans some more? Add in a diced jalapeno!
-Take a shortcut and use a store-bought whole roasted chicken. Just shred up the breasts!
-Make both dishes in advance and place in the fridge up to 48 hours before eating. Don't cook the rice in the oven until you are ready to eat, increasing the cook time by 5 minutes to make sure it's warmed through. Reheat the beans on the stove top or in the microwave.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Looking to get out of the 'same-old-veggies' rut? Well here's the solution! My quick creamed spinach allows you to disguise a healthy vegetable with some tasty, low calorie cheesy-ness. Sauteed garlic and onions gives the dish a mellow sweetness that the nutmeg parallels. This dish pairs perfectly with fish, chicken, or steak so there's always an opportunity to make it part of your dinner tonight!

10 oz. package frozen spinach, thawed and liquid squeezed out
2 tbs. onion, small diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 wedges Laughing Cow Light Creamy Swiss or 3 tbs. cream cheese
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1 tbs. parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil

-in a small skillet, warm 2 tsp. olive oil over medium-low heat
-add garlic and onions, cook for 10 minutes
-add spinach, broth, cheeses, and nutmeg
-stir until cheese is melted and covers all of the spinach
-add salt and pepper to taste
-serve as a side dish and enjoy!

serves 2-4 as a side dish

This recipe was quickly put together when I was getting tired of our typical dinner veggie side dish. It's since been a hit many times!

-You can use fresh spinach instead of frozen. HOWEVER, it takes a whole lot of fresh spinach to cook down into what you can get in a frozen package. So take the simple shortcut, and buy frozen!
-Still not convinced you like spinach? Try adding just one pieces of bacon to the dish. Chop the bacon into small pieces and cook it with the garlic and onions. Delish!
-Don't leave out the nutmeg! It adds delicious flavor to anything cooked with dark greens and creamy cheeses!
-Turn this side dish into an easy one-dish meal: mix with some pasta and add in some cooked chicken and roasted veggies such as zucchini, tomatoes, or carrots.
-Add in some toasted nuts like sliced almonds or pinenuts.
-Make it spicy and add in 1/2 tsp. or more of red pepper flakes.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Talk about a slimmed down classic! I've taken an indulgent, calorie packed dish and turned it into a protein and veggie powerhouse. Velvety cannellini beans replace heavy cream in a typical chicken pot pie, and a variety of sauteed vegetables brings big flavor to this recipe. It's finished off with a thin layer of flaky pie crust and it will certainly leave you wanting more!

1 chicken breast, cooked and cut into 1/2" cubes
1/2 cup sliced carrots, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 cup green beans, cut into 1" pieces
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup frozen peas
15 oz. can diced new potatoes, drained
1 small yellow onion, cut into 1/2" pieces (about 1/2 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup chicken broth
15 oz. can of cannellini or white kidney beans
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 refrigerated, roll-out pie crust
extra virgin olive oil
1 egg

-over medium heat, warm 1 tbs. olive oil in a large pan and add carrots and onions
-cook until they start to soften and turn slightly brown, about 5-7 minutes
-add another 2 tsp. of olive oil to the pan
-add green beans, mushrooms, and garlic to the pan, reduce heat to medium-low
-cook vegetables for an additional 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally
-meanwhile, drain and rise cannellini beans
-in a blender or food processor, puree the cannellini beans with chicken broth
-add pureed beans, peas, potatoes, chicken, salt, and pepper to vegetables, stir to coat
-cook for an additional 10 minutes on medium-low, stirring occasionally
-remove vegetable mixture from heat
-pour the mixture into 1 standard 9" pie pan (OR into 4 individual 5" small pie pans with about a cup of mixture into each individual pie pan)
-roll out pie dough and place on top of filling, cutting or folding in any extra pie dough along the rim (if using the small sized pans, divide the dough into quarters, then cut out one 5" circle from each quarter piece of dough)
-cut 3 slits into the center of the dough
-create egg wash: beat one egg with 2 tbs. water
-use a pastry brush to paint a thin layer of egg wash onto the dough
-cook in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes until crust turns golden brown and flaky
-let cool, serve, and enjoy!

serves 4

I created this recipe when I was using up some leftover white bean soup. It's turned into one of my most asked for dishes!

-Make it vegetarian! Nix the chicken and add more vegetables like zucchini, celery, broccoli, corn, sweet potatoes, or butternut squash.
-Like lots of crust? Double up- put a second pie crust in the pie pan before you pour in the filling. -Instead of using a regular pie crust, try using puff pastry. Place it on the filling, add the egg wash, and cook the same way!
-Make it festive! use a tiny cookie cutter to cut a shape into the center of pie crust instead of making slits.
-There ARE gluten free and dairy free pie crusts out there!
-If you can't find diced potatoes, buy whole potatoes and dice them yourself into 1/2" pieces OR
-You can use a fresh potato instead of canned. Peel and cut the potato, place in water, and boil until the potato pieces are fork tender.
-Here's what I use: refrigerated pie crust and canned potatoes
-Make double and freeze for later! Assemble the pie as instructed, just hold off on the egg wash until your ready to bake. Place the frozen pie in the refrigerator 24 hours before cooking so it can thaw.
-Try it with beef instead. Cook and cut up a tender beef cut such as sirloin.
-Don't like peas? Or carrots? Leave them out! It'll still taste great!
-This recipe is perfect for using up leftover turkey from Thanksgiving!
-If you don't own glass or ceramic individual pie pans, buy disposable aluminum mini pie pans- they work great and are perfect for portion control.

-Why use an egg wash? It helps make the crust turn golden brown and look pretty and glossy. This step can be skipped, or try brushing on olive oil instead.
-Why cut slits into the crust? It allows the steam made from cooking the filling release from the pie, so it won't explode in your oven!

Thursday, November 4, 2010


As the weather grows colder, your tummy begs for something warm and comforting. Well, why not satisfy that craving with something warm, comforting, AND healthy?? My green chicken chili combines the mild heat of 3 different peppers and various spices, creating a delicate smokey flavor paired perfectly with the creaminess of the white beans. Lean shredded chicken provides the perfect meaty texture for this dish and the addition of chicken broth gives it that 'simmered all day' taste! So put away the traditional chili recipe for tonight, and give my green chicken chili a try!

1 cooked chicken breast, shredded
1 medium sized poblano pepper
1 anaheim pepper
1 jalapeƱo pepper
1 small white or yellow onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 cloves garlic
2 15oz. cans cannellini beans or white kidney beans
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 tbs. plus 2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
1 tsp. salt
extra virgin olive oil

-remove the stems, seeds, and ribs of the peppers
-rough chop the peppers into about 1" pieces
-put the peppers, onion, and garlic in a blender or food processor
-puree the pepper mixture into a thin paste, stopping to scrape down the sides of the blender/processor to make sure the ingredients are all minced into same size pieces
-in a medium sized pan, warm 1 tbs. olive oil over medium-low heat
-pour the pepper mixture into the pan and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally
-drain and rinse one can of beans, then pour into the blender/processor with 3/4 cup of chicken broth
-process the beans until smooth
-in a large sauce pan, combine pureed beans and cooked pepper mixture
-drain and rinse the other can of beans, and stir them into the sauce pan with the pureed beans
-stir in the cumin, coriander, chili powder, pepper, and salt
-serve with a lime wedge and enjoy!

makes approximately 4 cups of chili

This recipe is based on the delicious white bean chicken chili I always enjoy at Ruby Tuesday Restaurants.

-Enhance the nutritional value of the chili by adding in a handful of chopped fresh or frozen spinach or corn.
-Don't like a beany, chunky chili? Puree both cans of beans and chop the chicken up into smaller shreds.
-Try the chili with some shredded turkey- perfect for thanksgiving leftovers!
-Top with shredded jack or cheddar cheese, sour cream, onions, and/or oyster crackers just as you would other chilis.
-Like more heat? Keep the seeds in the peppers when you puree them or add a few drops of hot sauce to the chili pot.
-Make a double batch to serve more diners, or freeze it for eating later!
-This dish is dairy free, gluten free, AND low carb!