Tag Archives: healthy

Orzo with Summer Squash, Zucchini, and Almonds

My favorite part of having a successful summer garden a few years ago was the prolific summer squash plant. I eat summer squash like there is no tomorrow, every summer. I made this light-ish dinner this weekend to get through the heat (it’s great served cold). I also realized that my new apartment does not have a microwave, so I had to eat cold anyway 🙂

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A deep, seasoned cast-iron worked well for this recipe. Mine is about 12″ across and it fit everything, though I did halve the recipe. Start the orzo water and preheat the oven for the almonds before you start prepping the squash/zucchini. If the orzo is done way before the rest, that’s okay; be sure to cook it al dente so it doesn’t get too soft once you add it to the rest of the food. Toast the almonds then turn off the oven, since you won’t need it again.

Orzo with Summer Squash, Zucchini, and Almonds
Adapted from Orzo with Summer Squash and Toasted Hazelnuts on Epicurious. I’ll try hazelnuts next time. Also note the dice size of the zucchini and summer squash–smaller than you might expect, but it makes for better cooking time.

3/4 cup orzo
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/3-inch dice
1 medium yellow squash, cut into 1/3-inch dice
~ 1/2 teaspoon salt
~ 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup almonds, toasted, coarsely chopped
~1 tsp dried parsley
~1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
~2 teaspoons lemon juice (lemon zest would definitely be better)

Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Cook orzo in a large pot of boiling, salted water until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain orzo in a colander. While orzo is cooking, toast almonds (6-8 minutes).

While orzo and almonds are cooking, heat butter and oil in a deep 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then sauté onion, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add zucchini, yellow squash, salt, and pepper and sauté, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are just tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in nuts, parsley, basil, and lemon juice.

Add cooked orzo to skillet and stir gently. If mixture seems dry, moisten with some reserved pasta water. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

*I ate my leftovers with chopped up cold chicken breast and it was great together!

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Healthy Granola Bars

Frisbee tournaments are my favorite part about summer weather in Boston. The heat and humidity–not so much! But one thing I’ve discovered this year is that they’re a great opportunity to debut some experimental “power” foods that will get us through the 8-hour long days of running (and pantsing each other, of course).

Homemade Healthy Granola Bars

There are a few traditional sideline foods–pickles, PBR, Cheez-Its, Pretzels, candy, the occasional Butterfinger bar to give to a player who drops a disc on a really key play…hehehe. I usually prefer to bring food with more protein, though, because the all-carbs thing makes me crash by the early afternoon. Mike invented some “energy bites” which I’ll probably make again soon and post, but last weekend I decided to try my hand at granola bars.

I don’t usually LOVE granola bars, but they are a great way to deliver a mix of nutrients with some great texture and taste. These came out really crunchy–very similar to the Nature Valley brand granola bars–but they softened (and improved, I think) after sitting in the sun in the Ziploc bag for a little while. They definitely helped power me through the day in small bits, though, and they’re made of (mostly) super-healthy, wholesome ingredients. No fake stuff here!

Healthy Cranberry Almond Granola Bars
Adapted from Epicurious’ recipe for Raisin and Cardamom Granola Bars.

4 cups instant oats, toasted first for about 10 minutes
1 cup dried sweetened cranberries
1.5 cups toasted raw almonds, chopped roughly
1 tsp cinnamon
6 Tbsp butter (3/4 stick)
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
4 Tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line your granola sheet (I used half of an 11×17 pan with thick bars as a result) with aluminum foil that hangs over the edges by at least an inch. Butter the foil. If your oats and almonds need to be toasted, do that first (oats for 10 minutes, almonds for about 6-8, or until they smell like popcorn).

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, cranberries, almonds, and cinnamon. Over medium heat, combine the butter, brown sugar, and honey. Once the butter melts, remove from heat and add vanilla. Combine all ingredients and stir until well coated. If it doesn’t stick together yet, add more honey and continue stirring.

Pour the granola mixture onto the foil. With another piece of aluminum foil, press down the granola so that it sticks together in an even layer. Remove that piece of foil and set it aside. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven, let cool for a few minutes, then press down again with the foil. CAREFUL–it will be hot! I used a towel around my hand when pressing down with the foil.

After completely cool, lift from pan using foil overhang. Cut into pieces with a sharp knife.

Curried Chicken Salad with Almonds and Cranberries

Dried cranberries are, frankly, the bomb. I love them in everything. I eat them plain. I eat them on yogurt with blueberries and almonds. I eat them on cereal. I mix them in oatmeal with brown sugar. Earlier this week, I mixed them in with cashews for a tasty broccoli slaw. Today I did something similar–I mixed them in with curried chicken salad and almonds. I think they go particularly well with nuts because together the two give crunchy, soft, buttery, and tart. Mayo and yogurt do a great job of holding them together with a little creaminess.

Curried Chicken Salad with Almonds and Cranberries

This salad isn’t particularly fancy, but it is flexible. I added in some chopped raw broccoli stalks because they were leftover from another project and were getting wilty. I also snacked on a piece of bacon while eating this, so there’s that.

Curried Chicken Salad with Almonds and Cranberries
Makes 1 big serving. Note that my picture shows the salad without stirring together the chicken and romaine; it looks nicer that way! I promptly threw it in a bowl and stirred it up because I like it better mixed.

1 cooked chicken breast, chopped into evenly-sized 1/2-inch pieces
Handful dried cranberries
Small handful raw almonds, roughly chopped
2 stalks of broccoli (stalks only), chopped [optional]
1 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 Tbsp plain yogurt
Pinch black pepper
Pinch salt
Pinch curry powder
Small pinch cayenne powder
1/2 head romaine lettuce, chopped into thin (1/4-inch) strips

In a medium bowl, mix together all of the ingredients except the romaine. Add more curry powder to taste (and salt, pepper, and cayenne thereafter). The curry should be the main flavor. Add the chopped romaine and stir well to evenly distribute the chicken salad.

Broccoli Slaw with Cashews and Cranberries

What amazing weather we’ve had here in Boston this week! Torrential downpour for three days last weekend, then summer-like sunny, clear days for the last three. Today–March 20, let me remind you–it reached 75. NUTS. Speaking of nuts, I bought some cashews yesterday and I’m super excited.

In the spirit of spring (I hear today is the first day?), I’ve been kicking into high-gear with my green-vegetable cooking. Last night I made Kale Chips for the first time and ate them so fast that I didn’t take pictures…so I’ll wait until my next post to share those 🙂

Today I made broccoli slaw to eat on my porch while sitting in the sun. Behold.

Broccoli Slaw with Cranberries and Cashews

I adapted Peanut Butter and Jargon’s recipe, which was adapted from The Kitchn’s. The modifications were largely out of convenience: I peeled my broccoli stalks and then chopped them roughly, since I just broke the food processor 2 weeks ago; I roasted/salted my raw cashew pieces while I was prepping everything, since I buy them raw; I accidentally used twice as many cashews as I was supposed to (from the original), and I only used half of the mayo/yogurt sauce since I don’t really need much at all (compared to original). NO MATTER: this was tasty. The recipe below reflects the amounts I actually used.

This would make a tasty side dish for some kind of chicken–I’m thinking grilled on a kebab. It also might work well for a picnic, though it would definitely need to be kept cool, since it has mayo in it (so maybe a backyard picnic instead of a hiking picnic). It’s a great example of experimenting with different combinations and just going with it. Just my kind of recipe these days….

Broccoli Slaw with Cashews and Cranberries
Makes about 6 cups

Adapted from Peanut Butter and Jargon’s recipe for Broccoli Slaw and The Kitchn’s recipe for Broccoli Slaw, which PB&J adapted from. To roast your own nuts, lightly coat in olive oil (I used 1 tsp for 1 cup cashew pieces), then salt, and put in a 350 F oven for about 10 minutes.

2 stalks of broccoli, stalks peeled, chopped roughly
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1/2 dried cranberries
1 cup cashews, roasted and salted, chopped (use less if you’re not really into the nut thing)
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
3 Tbsp plain yogurt
1.5 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 Tbsp sugar (omit if you prefer savory–I think I will next time)
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp ground mustard

In a large bowl, mix together the broccoli, onions, cranberries, and cashews. In a separate small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, yogurt, lemon juice, sugar (if using), salt, pepper, and mustard. Pour the dressing over the broccoli mix and stir well. Let rest on the counter for 30 minutes or in the fridge for an hour before serving. I discovered 2 days later that this doesn’t keep particularly well–the nuts get soggy–so it’s best eaten the day it’s made. Enjoy!

Roasted Cannellini Beans with Rosemary

Roasted Cannelini Beans with Rosemary

Salty crunchy snacks that are NOT fried are notoriously hard to come by. These were easy to make and reallllly delicious, though they didn’t stay crunchy overnight. With a few minutes in the toaster oven I think they’d be crispy again, but I just ate them stale anyway because they were still that saltily wonderful.

These would probably be better with fresh rosemary, but it’s the dead of winter and I’m relying on dried everything. Definitely grind it up (or even really finely chop) first, since the dried stuff won’t stick to the beans and will poke your mouth when you try to eat these!

Roasted Cannelini Beans with Rosemary
Adapted from Ask Georgie’s Garlic and Rosemary Roasted Cannellini Beans

1 15-oz can cannellini beans, drained
2-3 tsp olive oil
1-2 tsp rosemary, ground
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Rinse the beans twice and let them sit in a colander for 5-10 minutes. In a large bowl, toss together the beans and oil. Add the rosemary, salt, and pepper; toss to coat. Spread onto a cookie sheet in a single layer and roast for 25 minutes. Test one; if not crunchy enough, roast for another 5 minutes. Repeat as necessary. Be careful that they don’t burn.

Roasted Cannellini Beans with Rosemary