Category Archives: Food

Healthier Holiday Sweet Potatoes

Who needs candied yams when there are so many other wonderful ways to prepare sweet potatoes?  Sweet potatoes are loaded with so many wonderful nutrients it seems a shame to load them up with refined sugar.

So here are a few of my favorite ways to serve sweet taters:

Simple Sweet Potato Soup is a great way to start the holiday meal.  Beginning a meal with a light soup makes you less likely to over eat and this just tastes good too.  The recipe is available in my e-book Have Yourself a Healthy Little Holiday.

Sweet Potato Oven Fries are good any time, not just at the holidays.   Cut a sweet potato into wedges.  Coat with a little extra virgin olive oil and spices.  I like to use what I call “sweet and heat” with sweet potatoes which is cinnamon and cayenne pepper.  Go easy on the cayenne if you’re not used to it.  Bake at 400 degrees until they are browned on the outside and fork tender.  You will need to turn them over as they bake.

Baked Sweet Potatoes  are great plain, with a little butter, sprinkled with a little cinnamon, or I like salsa on mine.  Or you can get fancy and make them “twice baked” by scooping out the shell and mashing the pulp with a little milk or juice and putting it back in the shell.  Of course you can fancy it up with cheese, nuts, dried fruit — whatever, just try to keep it reasonably healthy.

Orange Spice Sweet Potatoes are my fancy version of mashed sweet potatoes.  The recipe is available in my e-book Have Yourself a Healthy Little Holiday.

 Sweet Potato Apple Bake begins with layering cooked, sliced sweet potatoes and cored, sliced apples in a baking dish.  Pour a mixture of 1/4 cup orange juice and 1 Tablespoon molasses over the top, Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake covered at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, until apples are tender. With the sweet taste of sweet potatoes, apples, orange juice and a hint of cinnamon, you won’t miss the marshmallows.

So go out there and enjoy your sweet potatoes, just be careful what other ingredients they associate with.  Don’t worry, they can still taste wonderful.

Please feel free to leave your ideas for healthier sweet potatoes in the comments below.

 

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Fun and Easy Ways to Shine Your Light: Did Somebody Say Cookies?

Copyright 2016 by R.A. Robbins
Copyright 2016 by R.A. Robbins

Yes, it’s National Cookie Day, just in time for the holidays.  Time to get started or at least start planning your holiday cookie baking.  Maybe even time to think about hosting a cookie exchange.

I love cookie exchanges because you can get as simple or fancy with this as you want.  The basics are that everyone brings a set number of cookies, the recipe and a container to bring their cookies home in.  The cookies are set out on the table and there is sampling, conversation and cookies to take home.

The cookie exchanges I have attended we each brought one dozen cookies and we took one dozen cookies.  I don’t know where the six dozen cookies that seems to be common now came from.  You could adjust the number to fit the number of participants if you wish.  You could also decide on 2 or 3 dozen cookies if you wish, which is an average size for a batch of cookies.  We also took enough copies of our recipe for everyone.  That’s the basics.  Now if you want to provide containers for guests to take their cookies home in or have a craft time and decorate boxes or provide decorative envelopes for people to put the recipes they collect in that is totally up to you.

What I like about this idea is that it can be customized for special dietary needs and would be great for a support group meeting.  You can invite all people who are gluten free, dairy free, vegan, allergic to nuts — whatever your need may be.

Try not to get too obsessed with the details.  The point of this is to hang out with friends, enjoy a few cookies and recipes, relax and most of all have fun!  Group activities are always good at the holidays.  You never know who may need a little bit of light in their lives.  You could be the one who brings it and not even know.

Now a few tips on planning a cookie exchange from My Recipes, The Cooking ChannelGood Housekeeping and Martha Stewart.

This article is linked to the Sugar and Spice Link Party.

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More information on gluten free holiday celebration ideas is available in the my holiday book, Have Yourself a Healthy Little Holiday.

A Healthier Holiday Meal That Still Tastes Good

Thanksgiving Dinner

As the holidays approach many of us will start planning holiday meals.  If one of your holiday traditions is spending three days in a “food coma” from overindulging stop and think, is it really worth it?  Is it really enough fun, to make yourself sick over?

This year I would like to offer a few alternatives and substitutions that are just as good without all the fat and sugar.  Trust me, they may be different but they still taste very good.

  1. Begin your meal with a salad or a light soup.  I like to begin with  a salad of spring greens, walnuts, dried cranberries and maybe a little goat cheese with a light vinaigrette dressing or a light and easy sweet potato soup made with sweet potatoes and onion cooked in water or veggie broth, with cinnamon and a dash of cayenne pepper and puree until smooth in the blender.  Sometimes we have both.
  2. Cook your turkey in a healthy way.  Don’t add extra fat by stuffing the cavity with butter or frying it.  Season the bird well and bake in the oven.
  3. Make your own cranberry sauce.  If you can boil water, you can do this.  You can control what goes into it, including what you use for sweetener.
  4. Forget the green bean casserole and serve lightly steamed fresh green beans.  Add some sliced almonds and a good squeeze of lemon juice.
  5. Leave the “candy” out of the yams.  I like to serve fresh sweet potatoes.  There are many ways to do this.  First there is baked.  You can fancy them up a bit by making them “twice baked”  either sweet or savory by what you add to them.  You can mash them.  You can cook them with apples and spice them up with cinnamon and nutmeg.  Follow this link to my recipe for Orange Spice Sweet Potatoes.
  6. Serve a healthy relish tray.  This was always included in the holiday meal when I was growing up and is still best part of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner for me.  Include lots of raw fresh veggies and fruit with a few of your favorite pickles and olives if desired.  If you want dip, consider making one without cream cheese or sour cream.  This may be done using white beans or mashed cauliflower.
  7. How about ice cream for dessert?  I like to serve pumpkin fruit cream made from frozen bananas, pumpkin puree, almond milk, pumpkin pie spices and a wee bit of molasses.

For more ideas and recipes please see my holiday book, Have Yourself a Healthy Little Holiday, available for sale in the Kindle Store.

Have a healthier holiday recipe you would like to share?  Feel free to tell us about it or post a link in the comment section.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bars

Copyright 20156 by R.A. Robbins

Okay so the cookies in the picture aren’t bar cookies.  They aren’t even from the same recipe.  But my camera is not working  so I thought this photo would be better than none at all.  You will have to imagine soft, cake like bars with that pumpkin-chocolate goodness.  Sounds good doesn’t it?

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bars

Ingredients:

2 eggs of equivalent substitute

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/2 cup stevia sweetener such as Truvia (R) or Stevia in the Raw (R)

1/2 cup agave nectar

1 Tablespoon molasses

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 cup flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill gluten free baking flour)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup chocolate chips (dark chocolate is really good with pumpkin)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare a 9 x 13 baking pan by spraying with pan spray.
  3. Lightly beat eggs.  Add stevia, agave and molasses and pumpkin.
  4. Stir to blend well.
  5. Add cinnamon, baking powder, soda and flour, stirring as you add.
  6. Finally stir in chocolate chips.
  7. Pour into baking pan smoothing out the batter with a spoon. Bake 30-40 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Cut into bars or squares and enjoy!

For more of my gluten free recipes check our my e-books on my profile page at the Amazon Kindle Store.


This post is included at:

The Sugar and Spice Link Party

It’s Pumpkin Day

 

Copyright 2014 by R.A. Robbins
Pasta in Pumpkin Sauce

This time of year I know when most people think of pumpkins they think of Jack o Lanterns. Me? I think of soup, pasta sauce, cake, cookies, pie. I do love my pumpkin in both sweet and savory dishes.

If you have never tired fresh pumpkin consider buying a pie pumpkin (they are smaller) and give it a try.
Never cleaned and cooked a pumpkin? Check out Time to Kill the Fatted Pumpkin for step by step instructions.

Have you ever used pumpkin in a savory dish?  Here are a few of my favorites:

Rotini in Pumpkin Sauce

Pumpkin Quinoa Pilaf with Bacon

Pumpkin is a wonderful healthy ingredient that can give a nutrition and flavor to many different types of dishes.  Of course pumpkin pie is good, but maybe this year you could branch out a bit?

This post is part of the Sugar and Spice Link Party.

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Looking for more of my recipes?  Need a holiday gift?  Check out my e-books.

Have Yourself a Healthy Little Holiday

The Gluten Free Good Life

Frozen Fun:  25 Dairy and Dairy Free Ice Cream Recipes

 

 

 

 

It’s National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day

Copyright 2016 by R.A. Robbins
Copyright 2016 by R.A. Robbins

Oh yes it is.  But at my house every day is cookie day and one of our favorites is chocolate chip.  I live with a Cookie Monster.  Whenever Bob walks by freshly baked c0okies cooling on the counter at least a few get devoured.  I usually have homemade cookies on hand, at least in the freezer.

Of course they are gluten free and I do try to health them up a bit, but we’re not talking about nasty tasting “health cookies” here.  These are real cookies and they taste good.

So in honor of National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day let’s revisit my Chocolate Chip Trail Mix Cookie recipe.  Enjoy!

 

 

National Ice Cream Day

Cherry Fruit Cream
Copyright 2016 by R.A. Robbins

It’s National Ice Cream Day.  But what do you do if you cannot eat the sugar, dairy or eggs in regular ice cream for health reasons?

No More Ice Cream?  Oh No!!!!

What does an ice cream lover do when forced to give up sugar, dairy and eggs for health reasons?

Well, in my case the first thing I did was cry — a lot.

Then I tried moderation. I really love my ice cream, so cutting back was having it once a week instead of every day. That didn’t work.

So I gave it up. I stopped eating ice cream and I even gave up making the wonderful family recipes developed by my mother.

It took awhile to try the ice cream made with frozen bananas because I was sure there was no way that stuff tasted like ice cream. When I finally decided to try I burned out two blenders before I found a Ninja to help me learn how to do it right. Together we discovered wonderful frozen desserts that are gluten-free, low in fat and sugar and if you use almond milk or another dairy free alternative, vegan.  I call them fruit creams with flavors such as not only the luscious cherry included here, but also chocolate, strawberry, blueberry, cherry chocolate, egg nog,  pumpkin and peanut butter chip.

Cherry Fruit Cream

Delicious fruit cream full of cherry flavor. Of course you may pit and freeze your own cherries, but buying already frozen is easier.  If you want chunks of cherries in your cream you may cut one half cup of the cherries in half and add after you turn off the blender.

Ingredients:

1 cup frozen mashed banana

1 cup frozen sweet cherries

½ cup almond milk or other milk of your choice

1 teaspoon almond extract Directions:

1. Add all ingredients to blender container.

2. Blend on high speed (# 3 if using a Ninja) until thick and creamy. You may need to stop the blender and scrape down the sides a few times during processing.

3. Serve now as soft serve or put in a carton and freeze until firm.

Want to have some Frozen Fun?

The best thing about ice cream is that is fun to make and of course fun to eat. I put my love of ice cream and summertime fun into a Kindle book called Frozen Fun.  For more dairy free recipes as well as my mother’s old fashioned recipes with milk, eggs and heavy cream visit the Kindle Store to buy your copy today.

This post is part of the following Link Parties:

Sugar and Spice Link Party

Moonlight and Mason Jars