Archive for ‘Entrees’


Healthy Fried Rice

Although this may come as a surprise to many of you, there are days when I don’t feel like cooking. Days when I’m tired or I still have a lot to do after dinner, the thought of taking a lot of time and energy to put a dish together just doesn’t sound enticing at all.  I often have this feeling after a day of hiking or skiing. And that’s how I felt recently upon returning from the mountains having put in a full, hard day of playing on the slopes.

On those nights, if I don’t have frozen soup on hand, recipes like this one are a blessing. This dish is quick, filling, adaptable and healthful.  And, since it’s chock full of veggies, protein and healthy carbs, you can serve it as a stand-alone dish without having to think about sides.

The recipe comes from the New York Times “Recipes for Health” Section. Like the majority of my recipes, I have made this one my own, and I strongly encourage you to do the same. Add shrimp in place of the tofu or some lightly toasted slivers of nori (seaweed)–delish. Switch out the veggies for what you have on hand. Try making it with soba or rice noodles (just scramble most of the egg mixture separately and add the remainder with the noodles–then toss it all together).

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Mayo-Free Crab Cakes

I love crab cakes. But I hate feeling guilty about eating them so I only order them occasionally when I’m out. Traditionally mayo, butter and white bread fill these little patties dulling their nutrition profile along with their flavor.

Not only is this adaptation of traditional crab cakes nearly mayonnaise free, but the crab cakes are also baked rather than the traditional preparation of pan frying that only adds to the fat count.

The result? Crispy, light crab cakes with loads of crab and red pepper flavor that go perfectly with poached eggs and asparagus for a quick “benedict-style” breakfast.

You could also serve these on a whole grain bun with mustard for a lunch or in mini form as an appetizer. For a different twist, try using the crab cake mixture to stuff cremini mushroom caps and bake, then serve as party appetizers. Anyway you prepare these, you can feel good about serving them to family members and guests knowing that indulging doesn’t have to mean unhealthy food!

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Chickenless Tortilla Soup

On a recent trip to California to visit my sister and her family, she and I had the chance to cook together, which is always fun. But, with an energetic two-year-old and a newborn in the house, we did not have the time to linger over a pot for hours. As is true in many households, it is as difficult as it is important to get a healthy, fresh dinner on the table every night.

So, when my sister ran across this recipe for tortilla soup in the December issue of Sunset magazine, its simple ingredients and straightforward, quick preparation and cook time, along with its ease in accommodating different eating styles:

– chicken + more veggies = vegetarian version – cheese = vegan version

These easy alterations made the dish perfect for a family dinner.

The soup turned out delicious and filling and the short prep/cooking time left plenty of time for baths and bedtime stories.

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Kale & Mushroom Polenta Pie

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I got this pie plate as a birthday gift from a cousin with exceptional taste. And, although I love it, I am pretty sure my two-and-a-half year old nephew could count high enough to reach the total number of sweet pies I have made in my life. But, I have refused to let that one little detail reduce this beautiful dish to a life of collecting dust in my cabinet.

I often find myself drawn to healthy, savory pies and tarts purely with the thought of serving it in this dish.  Crustless quiche, lasagna pie, baked vegetable gratin,summertime tomato pie, and numerous versions of this polenta pie have all been baked to (near) perfection in this little ceramic pie plate.

The polenta pie started with a recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Moosewood Restaurant Low-fat Favorites. I have changed it a little and used the easy “crust” as a base for many other savory dishes because it’s tasty and much healthier than a traditional pie crust.  Now I’m thinking that maybe I shouldn’t stop with savory pies… sweet cinnamon apple polenta pie sounds pretty tasty too…

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Black Bean & Veggie Stuffed Poblano Peppers over Cilantro-Lime Quinoa

Becoming a vegetarian forced me to be more creative in the kitchen because most of my go-to recipes were “meat-centric”.   I created this recipe a couple of years ago after smelling the roasting poblanos outside of the grocery store– goodness, that is a wonderful smell!  I love the smokiness of the roasted peppers. The filling is a mix of veggies I had on hand as well as black beans.  I added cottage cheese to bring cheesy creaminess to the recipe without adding much fat.  Along with the black beans and quinoa, the cottage cheese also ensures that this dish contains plenty of protein.

The peppers turned out wonderfully and, served atop cilantro-lime quinoa, the presentation is fancy enough for company or date night, while still being “unfussy”.  Make this a complete meal by serving it with a light soup, salad or even the cumin-lime roasted carrots from the last post.

These peppers were featured on

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Corn-n-Sweet Potato Chowder

Thanks to my cousin, Anna, I have become a big fan of Moosewood restaurant cookbooks– especially their “Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites Cookbook”.  Most of their recipes are relatively simple and healthful, but they pack a lot of flavor.

This corn chowder is no different.  It has NO oil, or dairy added and, yet, the corn makes it deliciously creamy.  This soup has been a go-to of mine for a couple of years now and I usually double or triple the recipe and freeze the leftovers in single serving bags for those days when I need a quick meal (my version of fast food).

As you may have noticed, I am on a soup kick this week.  And, my frozen stash was completely depleted so, despite the hot temps, I spent a morning last weekend replenishing my reserves.  With all the fresh corn in the  stores right now, this is the time to make an especially large batch!

Although this soup can be unfussy and pairs well with a cheese quesadilla or salad, sometimes it’s nice to dress it up…try serving it in a freshly roasted squash “bowl”.

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Summer Gazpacho

The baskets of fruits and veggies at my neighborhood market have been overflowing recently with lots of good finds.  But, it’s the great selection of plump, ripe tomatoes that caught my eye this week… and for good reason!

As we edge into the latter part of summer, Denver’s hot, dry, sunny days have left me craving light foods that still pack a lot of flavor as well as a lot of nutrients.

This quick gazpacho, adapted from Thomas Keller’s French Laundry Cookbook, does both so well.   It somehow tastes rich, without being heavy and the flavors meld together perfectly without overpowering each other.  Plus, it’s easy to throw together and, like most good soups, the flavors just get better after a day or two in the fridge.  Serve it along with a salad or sandwich for a light, summery meal.

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Tofu two ways

Perhaps you’ve never cooked with tofu before and you look at the square white mass in the carton and can’t figure out the best way to prepare it.

…Or maybe you’ve cooked with tofu, but are looking for more tasty, easy ways to use it.

I love tofu not only because it’s a delicious, healthy, plant-based protein, but also because it’s so versatile. Even if you are not a strict vegetarian, adding tofu to your diet can help you diversify your protein sources.

The following two preparation methods start out the same and can be used in many different dishes (Did I mention that I love tofu’s versatility?). So go ahead and experiment and feel free to post your dish suggestions in the comments section.

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Poached Eggs Over Charred Asparagus

One of the things I most look forward to every spring is that with the warmer weather comes asparagus season. Sadly, I don’t yet have the space to grow it myself.  So, until I do, I have to look to my local grocer to find out when the harvest is in full swing.  Luckily for us asparagus fans, when it does finally arrive, it does so by the truckload!  And I make sure to take full advantage.

I could eat asparagus for almost every meal during the too-short season so I am constantly hunting for and creating new ways to use the tender stalks in my meals.  But, even with the many new ways I have learned to fit this vegetable into my diet, quickly charring asparagus and serving it topped with poached eggs is still one of my favorite dishes where asparagus takes center-stage.

I’ve served this meal to guests and everyone seems to love it.  It’s also quick and easy to prepare leaving me more time to visit.

I have even woken up in the morning already craving this dish!  I hope you relish in the simple “indulgence” of this recipe as much as I do.

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Indian Spiced Salmon with “Tree-of-Life” Cauliflower

This recipe combines so much of what I love. The heat of the Indian spices are kept in check with the yogurt.  The simple sweetness of the cauliflower works well with the richness of the fish.  In my opinion, this dish is what all good healthy meals aspire to be.  It’s also easy and gorgeous to boot!

I might be a self-professed spice wimp, but I do love spiciness.  I know, that sounds like an impossibility, but just hear me out.  Although my spice tolerance is low, I love food that (to my palate) is spicy.  That said, I also really enjoy Indian food and it is definitely a cuisine that helps me push my heat limit.  When I go out for Indian food, I often order raita, a yogurt based sauce, to help squelch the heat a little.  This recipe has the yogurt cooked in which not only serves the purpose of mellowing out the heat rating a bit, but also keeping the fish moist while baking.

Start this meal in the morning and you will only have to throw everything in the oven before dinner.

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