Tag Archives: healthy

Creamy Avocado Pasta

17 Apr

One hallmark of the house I grew up in was a colossal avocado tree in the backyard.  From my vantage point, it was a monumental tree amongst several other smaller fruit trees.  Much to my parents’ chagrin, we kids wouldn’t touch the avocados that grew profusely.  Mom always ended up giving away loads of fine fruit.

Creamy Avocado Pasta 1

Fast forward to present day.  Hello, Self. What was I thinking?!  Avocados cost like 1.50 each.  Hind sight is always 20/20.

Creamy Avocado Pasta 3

When my parents moved to their current house, a new avocado tree took root in their new backyard.  A petite version of their massive old one.  This new avocado tree may not be the tallest in the bunch, but it sure yields a copious crop.  When people visit my folks, they go home with more fruit than they know what to do with.  Older and wiser now, I made sure to bring home my share of large avocados.  Still firm enough to safely cram into my suitcase for the cross-country flight home.  Did I mention they would normally cost 1.50 each?

Creamy Avocado Pasta 2

What my avocado-loving middle child didn’t immediate polish off, I was able to make into yummy dishes.  Case in point:  this phenomenal Creamy Avocado Pasta.  This pasta has all you’d want in a creamy-sauced pasta dish, minus the cream.  No cream.  Just pure avocado bliss.  It’s rich, smooth, and light all at the same time.  For extra nutrition and beautiful color, add plenty of fresh parsley (you can’t really taste it in the dish.)  To make it Superman healthy, we use whole grain pasta.

P.S.  If you keep the sauce separately in an air tight container, it will keep beautifully ’til tomorrow!  Enjoy it!


RECIPE (8 servings)


4 large ripe Hass avocado, peeled and pitted
Juice of 1 fresh lemon
8 garlic cloves, peeled
4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp paprika
1 cup flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
20-24 oz dried pasta
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly shaved Parmesan for topping


Blend lemon juice, garlic cloves, salt, paprika, parsley, and olive oil together in a food processor until smooth.  Add avocado.  Continue processing until smooth and creamy.  Add black pepper to taste.  Set sauce aside in air tight container, with cling wrap resting directly on top of sauce to keep air out.

In a large heavy pot, bring well-salted water to boil.  Cook pasta just until al dente, according to package.

Drain pasta in strainer and sprinkle with olive oil to prevent sticking.  Plate the pasta and pour desired amount of sauce onto each plate.  Toss to combine and sprinkle with plenty of fresh parmesan.  Serve immediately.

Note:  If there will be leftover sauce, keep it in a separate air tight container (cling wrap resting on top of sauce.)  Keeps well in fridge for a day or two this way.  When ready to use, simply make hot pasta and pour on remaining sauce.  Don’t reheat the sauce – just toss it with hot pasta.

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from ohsheglows

Fresh ‘n Chunky Guacamole

29 Jan

Any game day gathering means plenty of chips and dips.  Whenever possible, this chunky guacamole makes an ever-popular appearance in our lineup of chips and dips.  The guacamole is always good to the last drop.  Or scoop.  After the party, there’s nothing left over where the guacamole once sat.

Chunky Guacamole

Last year, someone in our home (Hubby) found himself frequently hunting down a nighttime snack to help keep him awake for those late-night work deadlines.  Nights like that can feel like college all over again, except it feels a little worse when you’re no longer 19.

Snacks.  Our pantry is stocked with a variety of snacks….but alas, let’s not steal from the kids’ lunch box stash.

Super Guacamole for Game Day 2

Hello, Guacamole.  It’s the perfect fresh and healthy snack that curbs anytime munch attacks.  Fresh, ripe Hass avocados.  Freshly diced tomatoes, red onions, and cilantro.  Loads of garlic.  This is not for the faint of heart (aka those who worry about garlic breath.)  If you’re noshing on homemade guacamole, there’s gonna be some onion and garlic breath.  When everyone’s got it, nobody notices it 🙂

Super Guacamole for Game Day 3

We love homemade guacamole for its fresh, bold, and addictive flavor.  But what I secretly relish are the abundant antioxidants in this yummy dip…it’s a total win-win snack.

Serve up the guacamole with flaxseed corn chips, and you’ve got some Super Food…just in time for Super Bowl 😉

Munch on, feel great, and enjoy!


RECIPE (makes about 2.5 cups, give or take)


3 large, ripe Hass avocados
1 small-medium red onion, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 ripe tomatoes on the vine, seeded and chopped
1 tsp cumin
1 TB kosher salt
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper


Peel and mash avocados with fork.  Combine with juice of 1 lime and chopped red onion, mixing to combine well.  Add rest of ingredients and mix to thoroughly incorporate.  Serve immediately with corn chips, for best color/appearance.

If serving later, keep guacamole in airtight container, with cling wrap set directly on top of the guacamole, to seal out air.  Place in fridge until ready to serve.  Enjoy!

Source:  Chew Out Loud

Kettle Corn Popcorn – Sweet, Salty, Crunchy

3 Sep Kettle Corn

State fairs across the nation this past summer have been enjoyed by young and old alike.  Our family has braved the crazy sea of visitors at the state fair almost every summer.  This year was different, though.  This was the first year all our boys were old enough to really enjoy it.  With our “baby” at 3 years old now, we are finally able to do more all-day excursions with everyone participating in the fun.  The kids can all go on way more carnival rides, ask a million more questions per millisecond, and eat way more kettle corn.

Kettle Corn

Kettle Corn = very crunchy, slightly sweet, and little bit salty

Seeing how our family devours kettle corn, it only makes sense to pop them up fresh at home – because popcorn is the best when it’s freshly popped, still warm from your own kettle.

Kettle Corn

Kettle Corn – unbelievably easy to DIY

My “kettle” is simply a large, heavy pot with tight fitting lid.  Otherwise known as my trusty large All-Clad pot.  You can use any such heavy pot.

Kettle Corn

Kettle Corn – so addictive

The lightly sweet, slightly salty, and super crunchy qualities of this little snack make it extremely addictive.  Every time I make kettle corn, it’s gobbled up until all that remains are the broken crumbs at the bottom of the bowl.  Honestly, I had to keep my peeps (mostly self) from popping too many of these into our mouths during the photo shoot, because there had to be some popcorn to shoot.

Kettle Corn

Kettle Corn – just a few ingredients away

Did I mention there are only 3 ingredients in this thing?  Oh, wait, it’s 4 ingredients if you count the pinch of salt 🙂  So, four ingredients it is.  Just oil, sugar, salt, and of course – popcorn kernels.  Get good quality kernels if you can, as it will make a bit of difference in how well they pop up.

Kettle Corn

Kettle Corn – healthier munchies!

Considering the common snacking alternatives, I feel pretty good about the kiddos – and me- snacking on popcorn!  To make it even healthier but still yummy, I use less sugar and light olive oil (not extra virgin, due to its lower smoking point.)  I give the correct proportions in the recipe, but feel free to play with it.  The only thing you really have to do is make sure to keep shaking the pot so your popcorn doesn’t burn.  And, try to share… if you want 🙂

RECIPE (4-5)


1/4 cup extra light olive oil or vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup good quality popcorn kernels
fine salt


Heat oil with 3 test kernels in large, deep, heavy pot with tight fitting lid.  Once all 3 kernels pop, your oil is hot enough.  Add sugar and popcorn kernels, stir a bit, and cover.  Shake pot vigorously every few seconds (yes, every few seconds).  I alternate between setting pot down to rest a few seconds and shaking it a few seconds.  This is a bit of an arm workout, but it must be done so sugar/popcorn won’t burn.  Once popping has slowed, remove pot from heat and keep shaking until there’s no more popping.  Sprinkle evenly with a pinch or two of salt, give it another good shake, and immediately pour into large bowl.  Break up clumps as needed, and let cool just enough to dig in!

By chewoutloud, adapted from allrecipes

Turkey Panini with Spinach and Roasted Garlic Butter

31 Aug Mesquite Turkey Panini with Garlic Butter

Quite often, a certain food or dish is easily traced back to a specific person, place, or time in our lives.  It’s not always that way, of course, because sometimes a delightful meal is just that – delicious, with no strings attached.    But, strings can sometimes be good.   For me, panini sandwiches come with happy strings attached. 🙂

Turkey Panini with Spinach and Garlic Butter

Turkey Panini with Spinach and Garlic Butter – easy, delicious lunch

Believe it or not, I can’t remember having a panini sandwich prior to a few years ago.  I’m sure I’ve lunched on some grilled Italian sandwiches before that, but my clearest memory of them began at a lunch date with my super-sweet friend, Staci.   Actually, our kids were all there…and we were in her beautiful kitchen.  So, it was more like a play-date that happily included a yummy lunch.

Turkey Panini with Spinach and Garlic Butter

Turkey Panini with Spinach and Garlic Butter – make it your way!

I had been eying panini presses for awhile.  Wouldn’t you know, Staci pulled one out of her pantry and whipped up some delicious panini sandwiches for us.  She arranged a make-your-own panini “party,” with various deli meats and toppings for everyone to choose from.  What fun, for both grown ups and little ones alike!  Everything always tastes better freshly made, just the way you like it.

Turkey Panini with Spinach and Garlic Butter

Turkey Panini with Spinach and Garlic Butter – melty Havarti cheese!

I immediately went and got myself a cute little panini press.  Of course, grilled sandwiches can just as well be made on a ridged cast iron pan, using a bit more oil/butter.  Or even a non-ridged pan, if you don’t care about grill marks.  But then, would it still be called “panini” if there aren’t grill marks?  I don’t know.  Anyhow, it’s a breeze to grill sandwiches on a press, if you want to go healthy and use less oil and/or butter.

I’ve since made all kinds of panini, including this delicious Turkey sandwich.  Our family loves garlic by the buckets, so I had to make roasted garlic butter for this as well.  This recipe is one of approximates, so feel free to eyeball it and make it your way.  Enjoy, and press on!



1 loaf Ciabatta bread
Mesquite or smoked turkey from the deli
fresh baby spinach leaves, washed and dried
2 vine ripened tomatoes, sliced
havarti (or cheddar) cheese slices
3 cloves roasted garlic
6 TB butter, softened
butter for grilling
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper


To make garlic butter, roast garlic ahead of time.  Mix 3 cloves roasted garlic with 6 TB softened butter, incorporating well.  If desired, mix in a pinch of kosher salt and some freshly ground pepper.  Set aside until ready to use.

Slice ciabatta loaf into sandwich-size slices.  Spread inside of ciabatta slices with garlic butter.  Load sandwich with slices of turkey, fresh spinach, tomato slices, and cheese.  Brush tops and bottoms of sandwiches with butter.  Grill until desired grill marks appear and cheese is melted.  If using stove top grill, press down on sandwich to get grill marks on bottom side.  Flip over and repeat on other side.

Source:  Chew Out Loud

Fish Tacos San Diego Style

10 Jul Fish Tacos

Warm summer days have a way of invoking cravings for cool, simply good, and light fare.  Enter fish tacos.  Cool, simply good, and light?  Check, check, and check.   Back in So. Cal., we would often visit hole-in-the-wall eateries that offered fabulous fish tacos.  For some reason, we’ve yet to discover such fish tacos here MN, but if you know of a great little establishment in the Twin Cities, I’d love to hear from you!

Fish Tacos

Fish Tacos: Tender white fish in crispy batter, fresh veggies, creamy dill sauce

Dreaming about fish tacos causes both hubby and I to grow hungry for them.  But since I don’t know of any good places around here to buy them at, I started cooking them up.  Lucky for me, these little guys are easy to pull off.  And they really, really hit the spot!

Fish Tacos

Fish Tacos: How many can you eat?

I won’t say how many of these I eat at one sitting, but I will say Hubby eats more than I do, and my boys get lots of good fish (omega 3’s!) this way.

Fish Tacos

Fish Tacos:  Wrap, roll,  and eat ’em up!

The crispy, breaded white fish blends perfectly with creamy dill sauce.  Fresh veggies and lime give it that light, summery taste sensation.  Homemade tortillas are of course the best, but store bought ones can easily be heated up between damp towels for a chewy and soft texture.

The breaded fish is the only part that needs a bit of work, but it is worth it.  Leftover fish can easily be heated up in the toaster oven the next day for more tacos or even fish burritos (more on that to come).


Beer Battered Fish
Homemade tortillas or 1 package tortillas (corn or flour are both good)
1/2 head romaine lettuce, shredded
2 vine-ripened tomatoes, diced
cilantro for garnish

For the sauce:
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp ground cumin
2-3 sprigs fresh dill
1 tsp cayenne
optional salt and pepper to taste

Make creamy dill sauce:  Mix together yogurt and mayo.  Stir in lime juice.  Stir in cumin, dill, and cayenne.  If desired, add dash of salt and black pepper to taste.  Set sauce in fridge.

Follow directions for Beer Battered Fish.

Warm up tortillas to soften.  Assemble fish tacos while fish is crispy and hot, and enjoy!

Tantalizing Tomatoes and Tofu

30 Jun

“How do you eat tofu?”  I get that question when people see tofu in my shopping cart.  For starters, I rarely eat tofu uncooked.  When seasoned well and cooked right, it is easy to love this amazingly tasty and healthy soy food.   Tofu loves seasoning, especially salt.  Tofu is akin to a sponge that soaks in more flavor as it cooks and sits.

Tantalizing Tomatoes and Tofu (chewoutloud.com)

This one is close to my heart and goes back to my roots.  My folks prepared this Tomatoes and Tofu dish at home frequently, and it is one of the few healthy dishes that we kids would gobble up.

vine ripened tomatoes

It’s a tastefully smart way to use up any variety of tomatoes, serving up great protein and veggies at the same time – not to mention BIG flavor.  That’s right.  Big flavor!

tofu soaking in tomato flavor (chewoutloud.com)

Here’s our family’s tantalizing rendition of Tomatoes and Tofu.

RECIPE (serves about 4, as a side dish)

4 large vine-ripened tomatoes, diced, reserving juices (if using small tomatoes, just adjust amount)
10 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp sugar
1 (16oz) package firm tofu, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 to 1 1/2 tsp salt
2 TB green onions or scallions, thinly sliced
fresh cracked black pepper

Put chopped tomatoes with juices into large skillet.  Add chopped garlic and sugar.  Cover and cook on medium-high until tomatoes are cooked down, stirring occasionally.  About 10 minutes.

Drain tofu cubes of any water.  Add to skillet with the tomato mixture.  Sprinkle with 1 tsp salt and a few pinches of fresh cracked black pepper.  Cover and simmer about 5 minutes.  Gently stir several times while cooking, taking care not to break tofu.  If desired, taste and sprinkle in 1/2 tsp more salt or to taste.  Remove from heat and stir in sliced scallion.

Serve over white rice.  Happy tofu eating!

Source:  Chew Out Loud

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