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Sunday
Oct182009

Pumped Up Pumpkin

Pumpkins aren’t just for decorating! Belonging to the squash family, pumpkins are an undervalued yummy and nutritious ingredient. Even if you’re too intimidated like me to use fresh pumpkin, canned pumpkin is just as nutritious and available year round. Its deep orange hue advertises its high beta carotene content (a form of vitamin A), the same nutrient found in carrots. Beta carotene is an antioxidant that helps fight off certain components that may damage cells, sometimes leading to cancer. Pumpkin also contains fiber, vitamin A, and minerals like iron, potassium, and magnesium. Vitamin A helps promote a strong immune system and benefits your vision. Below are two easy delish ways to use pumpkin, great for the holidays or whenever else!

Pumpkin Potato Mash

Ingredients

5 medium Idaho potatoes, peeled and cubed

15 oz canned pumpkin

1/4 c evaporated skim milk

1-2 T soft margarine (optional)

Salt to taste

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, cover potatoes with water. Bring to boil and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes. Drain well and set aside.
  2. In same saucepan, heat evaporated skim milk just until warm. Add potatoes and pumpkin.
  3. Mash with a potato masher or blend on medium speed of a hand blender until mixture is smooth.
  4. Mix in margarine and salt if desired.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Ingredients

1 c graham cracker crumbs, crushed

8 oz reduced fat cream cheese, softened slightly at room temperature

14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

15 oz canned pumpkin

3/4 cup egg substitute or 3 eggs

1 T orange juice

1 t pumpkin pie spice

1 t vanilla extract

1/4 t salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spread graham crumbs over bottom of 9-inch springform pan and spray with cooking spray. Press crumbs firmly down. Set aside.
  3. In large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Slowly beat in sweetened condensed milk, then the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Pour pumpkin mixture into pan and bake for about 1 hour or until cake springs back when lightly touched in center.
Saturday
Oct102009

Nutty Monkey Muffins

One of my favorite afternoon snacks is a Dunkin Donuts muffin and coffee. Unfortunately, even their reduced fat blueberry muffin contains more calories and fat than a glazed donut! Christina modified this muffin recipe to reduce the fat but they stay moist because of added applesauce, bananas, and buttermilk. The muffins still contain fat but the canola oil and walnuts provide a heart-healthy fat. Click here to get baking!

Tuesday
Oct062009

What a Crock!

Comfort Chicken and VegetablesEvery fall, I dig out my big old crock pot, which has slowly receded to the back of my cupboard. The handle to the lid has fallen off and the stainless steel is stained but I love this basic machine because:

  • It’s the easiest, tastiest method of cooking several different ingredients.
  • Crock pot recipes are for home, not fancy schmancy guest food, so you don’t have to worry about cutting the ingredients perfectly or adding just the right spices.
  • It’s a great way to get a hearty dose of nutrients in one bowl because you can throw a mishmash of vegetables and proteins in the pot and everything simmers together wonderfully.
  • The leftovers taste great.  

Below is a ridiculously easy and flavorful recipe, Comfort Chicken and Vegetables. I prefer the richness of thigh meat but you can use chicken breast for less fat. Add in your favorite vegetables! I choose mostly root vegetables because their firm texture holds up well during the 3-5 hours of cooking. This recipe is rich in protein, vitamin A, potassium, iron, and fiber. It also contains the powerful disease-fighting antioxidants beta carotene, vitamin C, and lycopene. The ingredients just about fill my 4-quart crock pot but you can add more vegetables or chicken if you have a bigger pot.

Ingredients

1 large sweet potato

1 large Idaho potato

1 large onion

4 large carrots

1 - 1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs

1 14.5 oz can stewed tomatoes, drained

1/2 cup water or broth

Your favorite spices (I use poultry seasoning, curry, salt, pepper)

Directions

  1. Wash the potatoes and carrots under cool running water and peel.
  2. Roughly chop the potatoes, onion, and carrots. (I like to cube the potatoes, slice the onions, and cut the carrots into 1-inch pieces.) As you finish chopping each vegetable, throw them into the crock pot.
  3. Rinse the chicken and layer pieces on top of vegetables.
  4. Pour can of stewed tomatoes over the chicken and vegetables.
  5. Pour water over the mixture.
  6. Sprinkle any spices you like over the top, cover, and turn heat on high.
  7. Cook for 3 1/2 to 5 hours until potatoes are softened and chicken is no longer pink. Stir mixture once or twice halfway through cooking to redistribute juices over the chicken.

This is a complete meal but you can also serve it over rice or whole-wheat couscous or noodles to extend it. There’s nothing better than a big comforting bowl of this on a chilly night!