Archive | August 2012

Flank Steak Sandwiches

Red meat.  I have a hard time understanding the big appeal of red meat.  Couple the higher saturated fat content with the fact that I just don’t like it… nah, I’ll pass.  However, this blog is all about moderation, and as long as red meat is consumed in moderation, it can be enjoyed without guilt or worry!  Don’t forget, you’re also getting a good dose of protein and the form of iron that is most readily absorbed by the body.

Flank Steak Sandwiches– slightly adapted from Cooking Light

Serves: 4

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp. sugar

1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

1/4 cup canola or olive oil mayonnaise

1 tsp. dried thyme (or 1 tbsp. fresh)

1 tsp. dried parsley (or 1 tbsp. fresh)

1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 pound flank steak, trimmed of all visible fat

1 1/2 tsp. olive oil

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1 (12 oz) French bread baguette

1 cup mixed greens


  1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a medium microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave at high 2 minutes or until boiling.  Stir in chopped onion.  Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
  3. Combine mayo and next 4 ingredients (through garlic).
  4. Rub steak evenly with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place steak on grill rack* for 5 minutes on each side or until done to your preference.  Remove from grill, let stand 5 minutes.  Cut steak into thin slices.
  5. Cut baguette in half lengthwise and in quarters horizontally for the 4 portions. Hollow out the top and bottom of the bread. Lightly grill the bread on the grill rack for added crunch.
  6. Drain the onion mixture and discard the liquid.
  7. Arrange the steak evenly over bottom half of each baguette slice.  Top each with 1/4 of the mayonnaise mixture, onions and mixed greens.

* Just a quick nutrition note: Grilling red meat is known to release chemicals known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH’s) and heterocyclic amines (HCA’s).  These compounds are carcinogenic, meaning they promote cancer growth.  The good news is, there are things you can do to minimize the release of these chemicals.  One is to marinate the meat before it is grilled, and another (as in this case) is to move the coals to the sides of the grill and cook the meat in the middle to avoid the meat having direct contact with the high heat that causes the formation of the compounds.  Cooking low and slow is better then fast and hot.


(My Own!) Stuffed Banana Peppers

I’m very excited about this post because this is my first main course meal that I invented entirely on my own!  I hope you give this a try and enjoy it as much as I did :)


Stuffed Banana Peppers with Quinoa and Chicken Sausage

Serves: 6 stuffed peppers

1/2 lb fire roasted chicken sausage

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 white onion, diced

1 orange pepper, diced

1.5 tbsp olive oil

6 banana peppers

1 cup reduced-fat Mexican blend cheese

14.5 oz can reduced-sodium chicken broth

28 oz can low-sodium crushed tomatoes, divided

1/2 tsp. dried basil

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

Salt & pepper to taste

Sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs


  1. Boil a large pot of water.
  2. Chop the tops off the banana peppers and clean them of all seeds by making a long slit down the side of the pepper lengthwise.
  3. Once water is boiling, add banana peppers and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. While peppers cook, rinse quinoa thoroughly (I use a very fine colander so quinoa won’t slip through the holes).
  5. Heat a olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Once hot, saute onion, sausage and orange pepper until vegetables are tender and sausage is cooked, about 8-10 minutes.  Add garlic in last 3 minutes of cooking.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 F
  7. Add half of crushed tomatoes can, quinoa, chicken broth, basil, oregano and crushed red pepper flakes to the skillet.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes.
  8. Turn the heat off and mix in the cheese.
  9. Place 2-3 spoonfuls of remaining 14.5 oz crushed tomatoes on bottom of a 13×9 glass baking dish.  Place cooked, sliced open banana peppers into the dish.  Stuff each pepper with about 3/4 cup of the sausage-quinoa mixture or enough to fill it.  Divide what is remaining in the crushed tomatoes can across the tops of the six peppers, then top with a sprinkle of panko breadcrumbs.
  10. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes or until warmed through.
  11. Serve with mixed greens salad of your choice.


Spinach & Aged Gouda Quiche

This quiche was fantastic.  I will say one thing… when you buy the cheese for this you have a lot of choices in the Gouda department.  What I would highly recommend is an aged gouda, mine was about 18 months aged (found in Wegmans fancy cheese section) and it has that salty/crunchy texture that just makes the quiche.

What’s also great about this recipe is that it’s very versatile and can triple as a breakfast, lunch OR dinner.  I actually prefer it as a dinner served with a side salad of some sort, but it’s totally up to you.  This is great for a weeknight because the prep is about 10 minutes and it’s into the oven it goes!

Spinach & Aged Gouda Quiche– slightly adapted from

Serves: 8-10 (1 slice servings)

Deep dish pie crust (from freezer section of supermarket)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

3 cups fresh baby spinach

1 cup skim milk

3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated aged Gouda cheese

3/4 teaspoon salt

Dash of ground nutmeg

3 large eggs


  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. To prepare filling, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add spinach; sauté 2 minutes.
  3. Combine 1 cup milk and remaining ingredients in a bowl; stir well with a whisk. Stir in spinach mixture. Pour filling into crust. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes. Note: I cooked it closer to 40 minutes.  The quiche may still appear a little liquidy but once it cools it will hold its shape better.

Summery Lemon Squares

So, I’ve already made this recipe twice this week (For two separate occasions, not just for me!).  A friend of mines grandmother makes a really delicious lemon square, and it was always such a treat to have one when they were shipped to our dorm in college.  When I saw this recipe in cooking light this month I decided it was time to give it a try. To make the traditional recipe healthier, they cut down the sugar by a lot and sub out a good chunk of butter for canola oil.  Both make for a happier heart, enjoy!

Summery Lemon Squares- slightly adapted from Cooking Light

Serves: 12-14 (depending on how big you cut them)

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup powdered sugar

3 tablespoons walnuts

1/8 tsp. salt

2 tbsp. chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

2 tbsp. canola oil

Cooking spray

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tbsp. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. grated lemon rind

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons)

2 large eggs

1 large egg white

2 tbsp. powdered sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, level with a knife.  Place flour, 1/4 cup powdered sugar, walnuts and salt in a food processor, pulse 2 times  to combine.  Add butter and canola oil.  Pulse 3-5 times or until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Place mixture into the bottom of an 8 inch square glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray, press into bottom of pan.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.  Reduce oven temperature to 325 F.
  3. Combine granulated sugar and next 5 ingredients (through egg white) in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth.  Pour mixture over crust.  Bake at 325 F for 20 minutes or until set.
  4. Cool completely and cover at least 2 hours.  Sprinkle squares evenly with 2 tbsp. powdered sugar.

Baked Ziti and Summer Veggies

How do you make a classic Italian dish healthier?  Take out half the cheese and add a ton of veggies!

I love this dish and it’s most affordable in the summer time when the produce is plentiful.  It makes me feel accomplished when I make a dish that is full of nutrition that people enjoy too.  I feel like it’s a nice slap in the face to pizza or cheeseburgers and it does a lot more good for the bodies of the people you love!


Baked Ziti and Summer Veggies– slightly adapted from Cooking Light

Serves: 4-5

6 oz. uncooked whole wheat ziti noodles

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 medium sized eggplant, chopped

1 medium sized zucchini, chopped

1/2 cup chopped white onion

2 cups chopped tomato

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup (4 oz.) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil

2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano

3/4 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper

3-4 oz. part-skim ricotta cheese

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Cooking spray



  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add oil to the pan.  Add squash, zucchini and onion, saute 5 minutes.  Add tomato and garlic, saute 3 minutes.  Remove from heat, stir in pasta, 1/2 cup mozzarella, herbs, 1/2 tsp. salt and pepper.
  4. Combine ricotta, remaining salt, and egg.  Stir into pasta mixture.  Spoon into a 13×9 baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Sprinkle top with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned.

Turkey-Veggie “Sloppy Joes”

I found this recipe and loved the idea of making a dish that makes my stomach hurt just thinking about into a fiber-packed meal while not sacrificing flavor.  I was never a fan of the original sloppy joe, but I hope those that are find this version just as satisfying!

Turkey-Veggie “Sloppy Joes”– very slightly adapted from chocolate broccoli

1 large Vidalia onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, drained and squeezed dry
1 pound 99% lean ground turkey
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (14.5-ounce) can low-sodium fire roasted crushed tomatoes
1 large zucchini, grated
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
3/4 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup shredded reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese
8 whole wheat hamburger buns


  1. In a large non-stick skillet, heat olive oil or medium high heat. Add in onion and spinach, saute until onion is just softened, about 4 minutes.
  2. Crumble in turkey, garlic, and tomato paste- stirring to combine. Heat for 2-3 minutes so turkey begins to cook.
  3. Next, stir in crushed tomatoes, grated zucchini, vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, red pepper, salt, and pepper.
  4. Bring to a low boil; cover and reduce heat- simmer for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Spoon 3/4 cup turkey mixture onto each bun half; top with 2 tablespoons cheese.

Blueberry Coffee Cake

This recipe comes from Ellie Krieger.  Ellie is inspirational to me because she is not only a successful chef but also a Registered Dietitian.  I love how she takes recipes and modifies them to be healthier without sacrificing flavor.  If you watch her video clips, she also tells you why certain ingredients are better for you then others, which I think can be motivating for people to hear as they are trying to improve their health.

I sought this recipe out after going blueberry picking and picking a whooping 5.5 lbs!!  I would encourage anyone to blueberry pick from mid-July to mid-August.  The blueberries are so juicy and delicious, and you can get them at a fraction of the cost of what you would pay at the supermarket.  We picked ours at a local place called Awald Farms that isn’t very commercially advertised so not very crowded which I love, and full of fresh berries.  If you live in the Buffalo area, check it out.  We got all 5.5 lbs for a little over $7…. the same price for only 2 lbs at the supermarket!

With such an abundance, I froze 2 lbs and used the rest for this recipe and a week of snacking :)

Blueberry Coffee Cake- slightly adapted from Ellie Krieger

Serves: 10-12

Cooking spray
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour or regular whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup vanilla nonfat yogurt
1.5 cups and 1/2 cup fresh blueberries, divided


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8-inch square cake pan with cooking spray. (*If you use a 8 inch glass dish it will take almost 1 hour to bake).
  2. Whisk together the all-purpose and whole-wheat flours, the baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, stir together the granulated sugar, cinnamon and walnuts. In a large bowl, beat the brown sugar, butter and oil until fluffy. If necessary, use the back of a spoon to press out any lumps in the brown sugar. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until fully combined. Beat in the vanilla and yogurt.
  3. Add the flour mixture in 2 batches, stirring until just combined.
  4. Spread half of the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle half of the nut mixture over the batter and top with the blueberries, gently pressing them into the batter. Spoon the rest of the batter into the pan, smoothing the top. Sprinkle the remaining nut mixture over the cake, pressing gently.  Also sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of blueberries along the top, pressing down lightly. Bake until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 to 35 minutes.
  5. Let cool slightly and then unmold and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack. Cut the cake into 2-inch squares.