Pumpkin Mac and Cheese (Spaghetti Squash)

Hey ya’ll! It’s Monday. If this were a normal school, I would totally be happy because I would have the entire day off for Veteran’s day to study for my advanced nutrition exam that is on Wednesday, but no I have class from 3-9. Go me. In order to cheer myself up, I have decided to share another recipe with ya’ll with some of my favorite ingredients. One is obviously pumpkin. I think pumpkin is one of the greatest things about fall, besides my birthday of course. The other ingredient is spaghetti squash. Ya’ll know I can’t live without my spaghetti squash. Seriously that thing is a staple in my diet. A good one too. So today I have for ya’ll: Pumpkin Mac and Cheese Spaghetti Squash.

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Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

1/2 spaghetti squash (if you really don’t like it, you can use regular noodles)
1/2 to 3/4 c of pumpkin (depending on how pumpkiny you want it)
1/4 c of light cream cheese
1/4 c of skim milk
1/3 c of shredded cheese (I used WW Mexican blend)
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp of salt
sprinkle or two of pepper
Turkey bacon and green onions for garnish

1. First you will want to cook your spaghetti squash. I heat my oven to 400, stab my spaghetti squash all over with a knife, and then place in the oven for an hour to an hour and 15 minutes. Then I remove, let it cool, and then split it in half. You only need half of the spaghetti squash or even less than half because it provides a ton of “noodles” for the recipe.

2. Place your noodles in a medium pot and turn the heat on medium low.

3. Add pumpkin, cream cheese, skim milk, shredded cheese, garlic, salt, and pepper to the pot. Continuously stir as the ingredients heat.

3. You want to heat the dish until the cream cheese and shredded cheese has completely melted through. There will be no white chunks in the noodles is when you will be able to tell that it is ready.

4. You can let it sit on low heat while you work on the garnish. Heat a small skillet pan and place two to three slices of turkey bacon on. Cook until crispy. Then chop up into small pieces to place on top of pasta dish.

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6. Split into two or three servings depending on how much you want to eat. It is a pretty low calorie recipe since you are using spaghetti squash instead of actual noodles. This way you don’t need to feel as guilty.

7. You can top each bowl with green onions too, which gives it a nice flavor. Enjoy.

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This sort of looks like a pile of mush that isn’t appetizing in the least bit. However then you realize it is made with cheese. Who doesn’t love cheese? If you don’t like cheese, we probably can’t be friends. Actually that is a lie because one of my friends is allergic to dairy and I still love him. Anyways this dish is cheesy goodness with a light pumpkin flavor. To get it more pumpkin flavored and less cheese like, you will need to add more pumpkin. I thought it was perfect like this because it was a cold day and I was looking for something warm and filling to bring for my dinner that evening to class. The best part about this dish, besides it being super cheesy, is that it is pretty healthy for you. All the cheese and milk was low fat or fat free. Plus the base of the dish is just a vegetable. That is why I love spaghetti squash. You can create any pasta dish that you want without all the unnecessary calories while still getting a good source of fiber. It is a win-win in my eyes.

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Cheeeeeeeeese!

Happy Veteran’s day! I’ll be having fun in class all day, so wooo!

What is the best thing you have made with spaghetti squash?
Have you ever used alternative options for noodles?

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Orange Cauliflower and Rice

Happy Halloween to everyone! I am having a pretty boring Halloween compared to my past. I’m just having a night in with the roommates doing school work. Oh the life of a graduate student. Actually I’m doing that because Carrianne and I are going to a crazy concert tomorrow, which I CAN’T WAIT FOR! So to make up for the lackluster Halloween events, I have a delicious recipe for you: Orange Cauliflower and Rice. I do love cauliflower (ya’ll know that from my cauliflower fried rice and cauliflower pizza).

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Orange Cauliflower

3 T Egg Whites
1/4 c of flour
1/2 c of water
1/4 c of corn starch
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped up
3 chopped up green onions
zest of orange + all of juice of orange
2 T of soy sauce
2 T of rice vinegar
1/4 c of orange juice
1 tsp of corn starch
1 tsp of brown sugar
1 bag of frozen cauliflower

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1. Cook frozen cauliflower to directions on bag.

2. Mix flour, cornstarch, water, and egg whites into a small mixing bowl until a batter like texture if formed. Make sure that the batter isn’t super thick.

3. Heat 1/4 c of olive oil in a pan while you coat all the pieces of cauliflower until each piece is fully coated.

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4. Place cauliflower in pan until completely cooked and browned. Place cauliflower on paper towel to soak up oil and dry.

5. Heat 1 tsp of oil and the chopped up garlic in a new pan for a minute.

6. Add half of the green onions, the zest, and the juice of the orange into the pan and cook for another minute.

7. Add soy sauce and rice vinegar. Turn up the heat until it has reached a boil. Turn back down and toss in the cauliflower. Cook until it has been fully coated in sauce.

8. Remove from heat and place over brown rice (I just used Uncle Ben’s whole grain brown instant rice because I’m super lazy).

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9. Throw orange juice, brown sugar, and tsp of corn starch into the same pan. Heat to a boil for one minute, constantly stirring the dish.

10. Drizzle the sauce over the cauliflower and brown rice.

11. You can garnish the dish with the remaining green onions, orange zest, and sesame seeds.

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This dish is so delicious. It actually tastes like orange chicken minus the soft tenderness of the chicken, but the cauliflower is such a good healthy alternative. Chinese food can be packed full with calories, especially the Americanized food items like sesame chicken, orange chicken, and others. By placing a more vegetarian friendly option, you can lower the amount of calories while still enjoying the classic taste of the sauces. It was a nice warm meal to have when I was craving some greasy Chinese. I will definitely have to try this out with other popular Asian sauces. I like making healthy version of my favorite types of food because that allows me to enjoy them on a daily basis instead of just my fat day, which is Saturday.

I hope ya’ll enjoy this! Have an awesome Halloween. I’m catching up on all my missed TV shows while I make notecards, blog, and work on my review paper! Happy Halloween!

What is your favorite Chinese food item?
What are you going to be for Halloween?

Skinny Baked Potato Soup

Hey ya’ll! It is officially fall. The weather is getting chilly and I’m making soup to keep myself warm. I’m so excited that it is Friday. I’m going to the Bronx zoo today, so I am counting down the hours until I leave my apartment to go. I’m such a child, but oh well. I’m awesome. Plus this is my treat for getting an A on my midterm! Lets get to my recipe. I am going to be making a ton of soup recipes these days because it is gonna get freezing and soup is a quick warm thing to have. Today’s soup recipe is Skinny Baked Potato soup.

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Skinny Baked Potato Soup

2 medium russet potatoes
1 head of cauliflower or 1 bag of frozen cauliflower
1 1/2 c of vegetable broth
1 1/2 c of almond milk
1/2 c of fat free sour cream
salt
pepper
green onions

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1. Wash russet potatoes and then stab both with a fork all over. Place into a microwave safe dish and microwave for 5 minutes. Flip over and microwave for another 5 minutes.

2. While potato is being microwave, steam/cook the cauliflower until it is ready to be drained. Once the cauliflower is cooked, place into a blender or large food processor.

3. When potatoes are done, let them cool down and mash them in the container.

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4. Add potatoes, vegetable broth, and almond milk into the blender with the cauliflower. Blend the mixture until it becomes a thick creamy texture. Then pour into a large pot on the stove.

5. Heat on a medium to low heat until starts to bubble up. Then add in the sour cream, a dash of salt and pepper, and as many green onions as you want.

6 Mix well until you see that the sour cream has disappeared. Let heat for a few more minutes then serve into dishes (1 cup portions).

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I topped my soup with a sprinkle of fat free cheese, some more green onions, and a few pieces of turkey bacon. It literally tastes like a baked potato in liquid form. It was so delicious. It had gotten pretty chilly in the apartment, so it definitely warmed me up to eat this. You can’t even taste the cauliflower or the almond milk, so it was great to have healthy swaps that don’t ruin a dish. This makes a ton of servings too. I have a full plastic container waiting for me to enjoy every day in the fridge. It is really filling too because of all the fiber that is in the dish from the cauliflower and potatoes. This is a definite winter staple, so ya’ll should go out and make this immediately. You can get fun with the toppings too. Dress it up like it is your dream baked potato.

What do you like on your baked potato?
What is your favorite soup to have during winter and fall?

Healthy Chicken Pho

Hey ya’ll! I have survived yet another midterm. These midterms are very interesting. Definitely not what I would expect from graduate school. Good news is that so far I have been kicking butt. I have a A++ in one of my classes. Go me! I’m pretty amazing, I think. Anyways I have a delicious recipe to share with ya’ll! It has been getting chilly lately up here in the Northeast, so there is a need to make soup and other warm things to keep me cozy. For today’s soup recipe, I have a healthy chicken pho soup. I love Asian food, so I obviously had to make an inspired soup from my favorite food genre.

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Healthy Chicken Pho

3-4 thin boneless chicken breasts
1-2 cups of bok choy
1 jalapeno
2 cloves of garlic
6 cups of chicken broth
3 green onions
1 tbsp rice vinegar
2-3 tbsp soy sauce
2 oz of whole wheat vermicelli

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1. Heat about 1-2 tsp of olive oil in a huge soup pot on medium to high heat. Then add in chopped up garlic for about 30 seconds.

2. In the meantime, chop up your chicken breasts into small pieces. Also prepare bok choy by cutting off the bottom of the stems.

3. Add the chicken and bok choy to cook for about 3-5 minutes until the chicken has become white.

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4. Add the chicken broth, green onions, and jalapeno to the pot and heat to a simmer. You should let this sit and cook for around 15 to 20 minutes.

5. While this is going on, you can cook your noodles in a separate pot. Cooking method depends on the type of noodles you have. Mine you just had to heat the water to a boil, turn off the heat, and let them sit in the water for 4 minutes (I got these noodles at Whole Foods, pretty cheap for a 5 servings of 2 oz of noodles).

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6. Add the rice vinegar and soy sauce to the soup pot. You can then add the noodles to the pot once you stir enough.

7. Remove and serve. You can top it with cilantro and sriracha based on personal preference (but ya’ll know I had to top mine with those goodies).

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Oh soup, you are so beautiful to me, can’t you see? I am in love with pho. While mine isn’t as gourmet or probably as delicious as what I’ve had in some Vietnamese restaurants, this definitely is a pretty good substitute for when I don’t want to pay or have to travel downtown to get some. I think I will be tweeking the recipe around to literally get the perfect soup, but I am happy with this one. I think dumplings would be perfect in it. That is probably what I will attempt to do next. It is a healthy option too. There is no calories in broth and the main calories come from the whole wheat noodles and the chicken. I didn’t put that much chicken in mine because I prefer vegetables over meat. That means I totally overloaded it with bok choy (I’m obsessed with bok choy – if you didn’t know).

I’m off to go work on a project. I hope ya’ll are having a pretty good week.

Have you ever had pho?
What is your favorite Asian dish?

Baked Peaches

Hey ya’ll! Sorry I’ve been totally awol lately. I’ve been busy with graduate school and exploring the wonderful city that I live in. However I’ve still kept ya’ll in mind and have tons of restaurant reviews, adventures, and recipes to share with ya’ll. For today, I have a delicious healthy snack. Baked peaches. Pretty much it tastes like a donut, but instead of the millions of calories and tons of fat, you are getting nutrients while eating something sweet. So lets get cooking!

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Baked Peaches

3-4 peaches, cut in half and seeds removed
4 tsp of butter/margarine
4-6 tsp of brown sugar
sprinkle of cinnamon
optional: ground almonds and dates

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1. Preheat oven to 375. Split peaches in half, remove the seed, and place in a 9 by 13 or 8 by 8 pan depending on how many peaches you have.

2. Place a small amount of the butter or margarine in the middle of the peach, where the seed used to be.

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3. Top each peach with a heaping of brown sugar and a sprinkle of cinnamon. You can add as much as you would like. It depends on each individual’s taste preference.

4. An option topping is to grind almonds and dates in a food processor. This gives a streudal like topping, which you can place on top of the brown sugar.

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5. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Once they are done, let them cool down and enjoy!

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The dish is best served warm. The sweetness that comes out from every bite is amazing. The butter is what makes it taste doughnut like as well as the brown sugar. The combination bakes into the skin and inside of the peach, making it soaked with sweet flavor. It is one amazing dish. Each entire peach (consuming both halves) is only around 95 calories, so compared to a doughnut, which can be around 300-400 calories plus tons of fat, it is a much better option. In my opinion it is very tasty too. The peach with the almonds and dates is also incredibly delicious. The almonds provide a nice crunch to the soft sweetness of the peach. It is a perfect dish to serve after a dinner or to have on a cold day.

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I definitely recommend making this dish! Peaches are probably going to be very hard to come by pretty soon, so you better go make this dish immediately. Otherwise you will have to wait until the summer to have this delicious treat. Anyways I’m off to go do more graduate homework and study for my midterms! Wooot! Grad school life. I do have some other exciting news though. For one thing, it is my birthday tomorrow, so maybe I’ll do a fun post about myself because let’s face it, I think I’m pretty awesome! Other news is that next week I have a job interview for a really awesome opportunity being a nutrition educator for youth! I hope all goes well! Have an awesome Friday, I’ll be spending mine studying and finishing assignments. Nerd session!

What is your favorite fruit to bake with?
Would you rather have a peach or a doughnut? What is your favorite doughnut?

Cauliflower Fried Rice

Hey ya’ll! Hope everyone is having a good Monday instead of having a bad case of the Mondays. I love Monday because I don’t have class until 3 in the afternoon, so I can wake up around 8 am and get all the things I need to do done for the day before class. It is a nice schedule. In more delicious things, I have another yummy recipe to share with ya’ll. This one uses one of my favorite vegetables: cauliflower. Ya’ll know how much cauliflower I eat from my Cauliflower Pizza Crust recipe. I could just eat those things forever (I have basil in my fridge right now just so I can make some pizzas). But back to this new recipe. It contains a few of my favorite things: Asian food, pineapple, and cauliflower. Hmmmm what could that be? CAULIFLOWER FRIED RICE!

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Cauliflower Fried Rice

2-3 cups of finely grated cooked cauliflower (I used a food processor to chop it up)
3 tbsp of soy sauce
1/2 c of egg white liquids
1/2 c of chopped onion
1/3 c of chopped garlic
1 c of vegetables/mix ins (pineapple, peas, carrots, broccoli, etc)

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1. Chop up onion until fine pieces. Place into a pan sprayed with cooking spray and heat until the onions become see through.

2. Add in your mix-ins, such as broccoli, peas, carrots, pineapple, tofu, etc. Cook until you can see the vegetables are cooked and have lost all traces of frozen marks.

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3. While the vegetables are cooking in a pan, place your cooked cauliflower into a food processor to chop. Mix it in until it appears to look like a rice texture.

4. Also in a small pan, cook the liquid egg whites until you have a pan filled with scrambled eggs.

5. Toss in the scrambled eggs, chopped cauliflower, and 3 tbsp of soy sauce until all is throughout mixed.

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6. Once everything has cooked through for 3-4 minutes, you are ready to enjoy. This dish makes about 2-3 servings depending on how much extras you add in.

This dish is seriously delicious. You are getting a ton of nutrients while consuming a tasty meal. Fried rice can be full of calories for a variety of reasons. This fried rice is a much better and healthier option for you, especially for those of you that don’t get enough vegetables throughout the day! Cauliflower is such a good base to use in a variety of recipes. Cauliflower can be considered an antioxidant due to it containing Vitamin C and manganese. These help lower the levels of oxidative stress, which is extremely important in regards to a wide spectrum of health problems. Cauliflower also contains Vitamin K, which helps play a role in anti-inflammatory (good for me since I always need to decrease my inflammation)! Also cauliflower aids in digestive and cardiovascular health. It contains around 12 g of fiber for ever 100 calories of cauliflower. Wow! That is awesome. Plus you are getting fiber and other beneficial nutrients from whatever you add in.

I ended up topping mine with some sriracha because I needed that little extra kick with my meal. With my leftovers, I’m going to add in some tofu to give it some protein. I think that will be perfect along with some more sriracha sauce. I’m bringing this to class for dinner. People will probably stare at me, but not like I care. I’m always eating in class. I bring the loudest snacks ever to class like carrots and apples. It is always super awkward when it gets quiet and I’m like chomping away on things. Anyways I hope ya’ll enjoyed this! I definitely recommend going out and making this immediately!!

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What is your favorite Asian dish?
Do you eat a lot of cauliflower?

Sweet Potato Nachos

Hey ya’ll! I have a delicious recipe in store for you. Now that I live in New York City, I’m pretty far away from my delicious Mexican food (although I live in a Dominican neighborhood, so I’m at least getting some Spanish food in my life). I decided that I wanted to make something Mexican inspired in honor of my home. However Mexican food is full of fat, calories, and food items that are not so healthy for you. That gave me the idea to “healthify” one of my favorite dishes: Nachos! I could have made tortilla chips from baking corn tortillas, but that is the easy way out. I ended up making my base or chips from baked sweet potatoes.

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Sweet Potato Nachos

2 small sweet potatoes
1-2 tsp of olive oil
1 pinch of garlic powder
any other spices or seasonings you want to add
Cheese of choice (I used fat free Mexican Blend)

Topping ideas:

Cilantro
Tomatoes
Jalapenos
Onions
Black Beans
Banana Peppers
Chives
Chicken/Beef

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1. Preheat oven to 350. Wash your sweet potatoes and peel them until there is no skin left.

2. Then slice both potatoes in thin round slices.

3. Place in a small container, pour in olive oil, and mix well.

4. Place slices on a baking sheet and sprinkle with garlic powder. If you have added other spices, sprinkle them on at this point.

5. Place in the oven and bake for 35 minutes.

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6. Take it out of the oven, but leave the oven on. Then sprinkle on cheese. Depending on personal preference you can either add on the rest of the toppings now or wait until all the cheese is melted. Personally I put the toppings on then put the cheese on top because it made the toppings cheesier (ya’ll know I love cheese). Then place in the oven to monitor until the cheese is melted.

7. Enjoy!

This was the perfect dish. I wish I would have had more things to place on as toppings, but I had forgotten things such as avocado at the supermarket. Next time I will definitely be having black beans and avocado on top of my nachos. It would have been creamy and delicious. Plus including more protein would help you stay fuller. I added Greek yogurt on top of mine instead of sour cream. It was a much better option that putting sour cream on it. Sweet potatoes are a much better option than regular tortilla chips for a variety of reasons. Sweet potatoes are extremely high in vitamin B6, which helps reduce homocysteine in our bodies. Homocysteine has been connected to a variety of diseases and has even shown a role in heart attacks, so eating more sweet potatoes is definitely a good move for those that are heart health conscious. Other nutrients that sweet potatoes contain are Vitamin C, Vitamin D, iron, magnesium, and potassium. While that is a long list, one of the most important and well known compounds that sweet potatoes contain is carotenoids. More specifically, sweet potatoes are packed with beta-carotene, which helps with eye function and to boost our immune systems. Besides the many health benefits of sweet potatoes, they are extremely versatile to cook with. Just look at my recipe! You can make sweet potato chips. How awesome is that?!

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I just look at these and it makes my mouth salivate. Thank god I bought 2 lbs of sweet potatoes at Trader Joe’s! But actually I wont be making these anytime soon because I have a ton of different sweet potato recipes for ya’ll coming up sometime soon. I hope everyone had an awesome Sunday! Mine has been extra special since the University of Texas Longhorns won against no. 2 Stanford today in volleyball (not to mention that they also beat number 1 Penn State the day before). Hook em! Ya’ll know how much I love my volleyball. It has been hard not being able to go to the games, especially since they were extremely exciting this weekend. My mom and brother went, so at least they were sending me the scores, videos, and hilarious quotes from the crazy people in the audience!

See ya’ll tomorrow!

What do you like to do with sweet potatoes?
Do you eat other foods with carotenoids and Vitamin A in them?