Meatless Monday: Chopped Apple Salad with Toasted Walnuts, Blue Cheese and Pomegranate Vinaigrette

When I was in college and visited the campus rec center for a sweat session, I often laughed at people on the elliptical (coughcouhgTHETAsororitygirlscoughcough). Unlike some people, I wasn’t afraid to sweat. I didn’t go to the gym to socialize, sport my boom-boom shorts, and/or pick-up guys. That’s what the internet is for, right?

But I didn’t laugh at them for the laughable reasons mentioned above. I laughed at them because they added no resistance to the elliptical, so that whatever was going on…was not a workout. When you have to put more effort in to slowing or stopping the wheel of a piece of cardio equipment, you’re not doing something right.

Kind of like ellipticals needing some effort, so do salads. And just like ellipticals, salads aren’t my favorite. If a salad is going to be a MEAL, it better have some substantial ingredients…like egg, or nuts, or seed, or…cheese. In other words, some fat and protein.

Leafy greens and vegetables drizzled in a sub-par dressing is going to lead to scary scenes. Like my stomach growling by 2pm, my blood sugar dropping, eating junk that’s available in the break room, and most likely, turning into a huge witch before long. All very bad, bad things, let me tell you. My tolerance of a growling stomach is less than that I have for drivers going UNDER the speed limit…in the left-hand lane. But let’s not go there…

Then there’s the facts. Greens and vegetables are packed with fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K that require fat in order to be absorbed. The fat can come from other salad ingredients, salad dressing, or another component of the meal, but the fat should be consumed in that meal for best absorption. This salad, meets all of my Salad Criteria plus this special wow-factor when the following ingredients are combined. Mmm!

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Chopped Apple Salad with Toasted Walnuts, Blue Cheese and Pomegranate Vinaigrette adapted from Bobby Flay

1/2 cup POM Wonderful 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard 1 Tbsp honey salt, to taste freshly ground black pepper, to taste 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 apples (Gala, Fuji, or Honeycrisp), cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces 2 cups spinach or arugula 1 large head Romaine lettuce, torn into pieces 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped 6 oz blue cheese, crumbled 1/2 pomegranate, arils removed

Directions:

To make the vinaigrette, simmer the POM Wonderful over medium heat until it simmers, thickening to about 1/4 cup (about 10-12 minutes). Whisk together the pomegranate juice, vinegar, mustard, honey, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until emulsified. Set aside.

For the salad, combine the apples, spinach/arugula, Romaine, walnuts, and blue cheese in a large bowl. Add the vinaigrette and toss to coat. Yield: 5 entree portions.

Nutrition Information (per serving): 431 calories; 31 g. fat; 24 mg. cholesterol; 534 mg. sodium; 31.8 g. carbohydrate; 7.6 g. fiber; 11 g. protein

Result: I firmly believe this may be the best salad dressing…ever. It’s absolutely divine. I could eat it with a spoon or slurp it down with a straw. It has a great combination or sweet and tart while still being light and olive oil-based. The ingredients in the salad are perfect for fall and the blue cheese makes this salad outta-this-world. Enjoy!

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Have a great week!

Sausage and Apple-Stuffed Acorn Squash + Weekly Menu

I see an acorn squash and I have immediate flashbacks to childhood when my mom would prepare them. On occasion. And also with lots of butter, lots of brown sugar, lots of maple syrup, and a healthy dose of pecans. And that was dinner.

Times have changed. Mom no longer believes that to be a healthy or acceptable dinner (somewhat unfortunately), and I don’t know that she has made acorn squash in years.

My point is, when I see an acorn squash, my initial thought is sweet…not savory.

This was the first acorn squash dish with which stepped out of the sweet zone and entered into savory. This is even almost a tease or a starter for the quickly approaching American Thanksgiving Day where surely many of you, dear readers, will enjoy stuffing…and turkey.

Both turkey and a stuffing-like filling are what go into these acorn squash halves. The flavors of apple and sage closely mimic those of a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Your home will waft with the flavors of the foodie holiday and you may just think you time-traveled a few weeks to November 24th, 2011.

Other than tasting great, smelling wonderful, combining some of fall’s best flavors, and offering up a rather impressive nutritional resume…these are also show-stopping in appearance. See?

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Sausage and Apple-Stuffed Acorn Squash as seen on Sunny Side Up In San Diego adapted from Food.com

2 large acorn squash, halved and seeded 2 Tbsp butter, melted 1 clove of garlic, pressed 1/2 tsp ground sage, divided 3/4 lb Italian turkey sausage links, casings removed 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped 1 celery rib, finely chopped 4 oz mushrooms, chopped 1 apple, cored and chopped 1 cup panko crumbs 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese salt and pepper 1 egg, beaten

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the melted butter, garlic, and 1/4 tsp sage. Brush the inside and outside of each squash with the butter mix. Place the squash on a cookie sheet, cut side up, and roast for 50-60 minutes, or until fork tender.

In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the sausage. When the sausage is browned, remove it from the pan and place on a paper towel lined plate, set aside. To the skillet add the onions, celery, and mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes. Add the apples and cook for another 2 minutes.

Return the sausage to the skillet then remove from heat. Season with 1/4 tsp sage, salt, and pepper. Stir in the panko and Parmesan. Add the egg and stir to combine.

Divide the stuffing evenly among the four squash halves. Return to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes. Yield: 4 servings.

Nutrition Information (per serving): 395 calories; 15.8 g. fat; 113 mg. cholesterol; 413 mg. sodium; 45.3 g. carbohydrate; 5.5 g. fiber; 23 g. protein

Result: These were wonderful and simple to make…and also extremely healthy and rich with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. I also love the moderate calories with the “perfect” distribution of fat, carbohydrate, and protein…while offering 5 1/2 grams of fiber! Hubby ate these and liked them, even though squash isn’t his favorite food :) Enjoy!

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This weekly menu is a bit abbreviated because Friday morning I am heading to San Fran for the Foodbuzz Festival with lots of bloggie friends! I’m getting very excited!

Weekly Menu: October 30th-November 3rd

We are carving pumpkins today and tonight is hockey. I need to grade lots of assignments and lesson plan, too :(

Question: Have you ever had acorn squash in a savory dish?

Be well,

Pumpkin Waffles

It’s been over a week since I posted a breakfast recipe…it’s time for another. And not so surprisingly, it’s another pumpkin recipe. If you haven’t noticed by now, I love pumpkin and use fall as an excuse to eat it…a lot.

Plus, pumpkin is a nutrition super star. Not only is pumpkin low in calories and naturally fat-free, it is also an excellent source of not only fiber, but antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E!

When you take nutritious pumpkin and add in whole wheat flour, protein-packed egg whites, and fall spices such as cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg…there’s no going wrong.

Normally, Mr. Prevention isn’t a big breakfast food lover. These, however, he gobbled up…x2. I guess I should’ve doubled the recipe as I love to reheat waffles in the toaster oven for mornings to come. Are we seeing a familiar pattern with Mr. Prevention and my pumpkin recipes lately?

…Just saying.

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Pumpkin Waffles from Cate’s World Kitchen

1 cup pumpkin puree 4 egg whites 1 cup low-fat buttermilk 1 1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour 2 tsp baking soda pinch salt 2 Tbsp + 2 tsp sugar 2 tsp cinnamon 1 tsp ground nutmeg 1 tsp ground ginger

Directions:

Stir the flour, baking soda, salt, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger together in a small bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg white, pumpkin, and buttermilk. Stir into the dry ingredients and stir just to combine.

Heat a waffle iron or skillet over medium high heat and spray with nonstick spray. Pour half the batter into the preheated iron or pan.

If making waffles, cook according to manufacturer’s suggestion. If making pancakes, cook until bubbles appear on the top, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook an additional minute or two. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve with maple syrup. Yield: 4 servings (4 large waffles or 8 pancakes).

Nutrition Information (per serving): 240 calories; 1.8 g. fat; 3 mg. cholesterol; 715 mg. cholesterol; 45 g. carbohydrate; 6.5 g. fiber; 7.3 g. protein

Result: Fall in waffle form! Cinnamon and nutmeg and ginger…oh my! While whole wheat flour can make waffles dense and heavy, the buttermilk is balances the batter out for a perfectly fluffy waffle (or pancake!). These are simple to make and offer up great nutrition stats, too. Enjoy!

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TGIF! I am not even going to whine about having to work tomorrow…yet :) It has been another insane week so my plan is to workout this morning so that after work, I can go out to dinner with the hubs. :-D I know myself well enough to know that Friday evening workouts are usually the easiest to skip!

Question: Anything fun planned this weekend?

Be well,

Grilled Chicken Bruschetta

There’s something very special about brushetta. The rich, garlic-infused olive oil soaked into the sun-ripened tomatoes and sweet, tangy basil. Humph. There’s nothing like it.

Outside of classic Italian flavors and ingredients, bruschetta is a near-household name when it comes to appetizers. The tomato-mozzarella-basil-garlic-oil combo can’t go wrong when mounded on a slice of crusty baguette.

Then someone far more brilliant than I came along and figured, “Why not top some char-grilled chicken with this Italian favorite!?” Brill-i-ant.

In terms of quick dinners, it doesn’t get much better than this. Chop, chop…mix. Grill up the chicken and…done. 20 minutes from start to finish, you can’t beat it. And not only that, but this dish is low in calories, high in protein, and contains some heart-healthy fats from the olive oil…plus vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants from the tomatoes, basil, and garlic.

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Grilled Chicken Bruschetta adapted from Skinny Taste, as seen on Taste & See

1/4 cup red onion, chopped 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar salt and pepper, to taste 2 large vine ripe tomatoes, chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 Tbsp fresh basil leaves, chopped 4 oz fresh mozzarella, diced 4 (4-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Directions:

In a medium bowl, combine the onion, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes, garlic, and basil to the onion mixture. Set aside Toss in the cheese when ready to serve.

Place chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound to about 1/2-inch thick. Season with salt and pepper and grill on your indoor or outdoor grill. Top chicken with bruschetta and serve immediately. Yield: 4 servings.

Nutrition Information (per serving): 259 calories; 10.8 g. fat; 75 mg. cholesterol; 242 mg. sodium; 6.5 g. carbohydrate; 1.3 g. fiber; 32 g. protein

Result: A light and ideal dish to showcase summer’s sun-ripened tomatoes. No need for a lot of prep or time, this meal comes together in 20-25 minutes or less. Simple ingredients lend to a simple and fresh summer meal that’s kind to the waistline without skimping on taste. Enjoy!

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As I was making dinner last night I treated myself to a beer. For no reason other than it sounded good and I had no intention of working out. Besides, cooking + a little booze = my ideal evening. As Mr. Prevention and I were finishing up dinner on the deck, I decided the evening was far too beautiful to waste inside. We walked Lily and then I decided to take a walk. By the time I had gotten to the end of the driveway, I was jogging. I figured I would jog some and walk some, but it was effortless, so I just kept jogging. It was by no means fast, but effortless runs are far more important to me than speed. With that said, I am yearning to finish a sub-30 5K one of these days. I have a perfect 5K route around my neighborhood and I think this fall it will be my goal to finish it in under 30 minutes…just to say I can ;)

Question: What would you like to see (more of) on Prevention RD? I aim to please! Leave your feedback as a comment, if you would be so kind!

Some ideas I’ve thought of include:

  • healthy snacks
  • a continuation of my Money Matters series on budget-friendly meals
  • low-carb/diabetic-friendly recipes
  • kid-friendly recipes
  • a low-calorie dessert series
  • a week of crock pot cooking (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
  • a week of vegetarian cooking
  • an around-the-world series of various ethnic dishes

And of course, there’s the upcoming chili contest! T-16 days until the first recipe! :-D I want to keep things fresh and enjoyable! And, well, I’m not very clever – so help me out ;)

Have a great day!

Tropical Butternut Squash Salad

Before you even think to suggest butternut squash as winter produce, think again. I will hear nothing of it. Butternut squash is available year-round and tastes great, even when “out of season”. It’s also always relatively cheap.

Like other orange veggies, butternut squash is loaded with Vitamin A. It is also generous in Vitamins C and E. Together, Vitamins A, C, and E (“ACE!”, as I teach my students) combine for optimal vitamin antioxidant properties. Love butternut squash :-D

If you love coconut and tropical pina colada-like flavors, you’re in for a treat. I mean, you could add a cocktail umbrella to this dish and call it a day. Tropical flavors at their finest…

While I would never think to combine the below ingredients, I’m very glad that food pioneers like Cara have done the guess work for me (and you!) and created such fun recipes to try.

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Tropical Butternut Squash Salad from Cara’s Cravings

2 lbs (about 1 large) peeled, diced butternut squash 1 large red pepper, seeded and chopped 1/2 cup scallions (white and light green parts), sliced 20 oz can pineapple tidbits, drained, juice reserved 1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened flaked coconut

4 oz nonfat plain Greek yogurt 1/4 cup reserved pineapple juice juice from 1 lime 1 tsp chili powder 1/2 tsp cumin 1/2 teaspoon salt fresh ground pepper, to taste 1/3 cup chopped cilantro

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray and arrange the squash in an even layer. Spray the squash with more cooking spray. Roast for 40-50 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

Meanwhile, place the coconut in a dry skillet over medium-low heat, and cook for about 5 minute, stirring often, until lightly browned and fragrant. Immediately remove from heat and allow to cool.

Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the yogurt, pineapple juice, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Pour over the squash mixture in the large bowl and gently stir until thoroughly combined. Fold in the cilantro, and chill until ready to serve. Yield: 10 servings (about 2/3 cup each).

Nutrition Information (per serving): 130 calories; 2.9 g. fat; 0 mg. cholesterol; 136 mg. sodium; 25.9 g. carbohydrate; 4.2 g. fiber; 3.1 g. protein

Result: What a breath of fresh air…and flavors! Squash lovers, this you will love! This is a simple salad that can substitute in for any mayonnaise-slathered potato or pasta side dish. As the cookout season continues, give this dish strong consideration for something lighter, fun, and delish! Enjoy!

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I took last night off from working out. I probably shouldn’t have considering today is a 14-hour day, but…oh well. It would’ve made 4 consecutive workouts, so I won’t beat myself up over it. No dinner planned for tonight so there is time to allot to working out….I just have to be sure that actually happens ;) Tonight is our last “Lighten-Up” weight management support group and words cannot express how much I will miss this group. What a fabulous, inspiring, and ambitious group of women! Have I mentioned lately how much I love being a dietitian? :)…’Cause I do!

Question: What’s your favorite cookout side dish?

Be well,