Category Archives: Healthy Eating

Apricot-Honey Granola

This golden granola reminds me of summertime! The combination of chopped and chunky dried apricots and golden raisins taste great together. Apricot-Honey Granola has a lot of other good things that I often add to my homemade granolas: sunflower kernels, coconut flakes, wheat germ or flaxseed, and chopped nuts. It’s sweetened mostly with honey and a bit of brown sugar. You can serve it as a cereal with milk, in yogurt parfaits, or just as it is, for a snack.

APRICOT-HONEY GRANOLA by NancyC

Makes about 12 cups

  • 6 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 1/4 cups hulled, raw sunflower kernels (if using roasted, add them in after baking)
  • 1 1/4 cups sweetened or unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ or ground flaxseed
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup light olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 2 cups chopped dried apricots

Preheat oven to 325˚F. Line two 10×15″ rimmed cookie sheets or one 13×18″ rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In large bowl, toss the oats, sunflower kernels, coconut flakes, wheat germ or flaxseed, and chopped pecans; set aside.

In small microwaveable bowl, heat honey for 20 to 30 seconds to make the consistency thinner. Then, in medium size bowl, blend honey, brown sugar, olive oil, and salt, blending everything well.

Pour the honey mixture over the oat mixture and toss until the oat mixture is well-coated.

Spread this mixture onto the prepared baking sheet(s) and bake at 325˚F for 20 minutes; remove pan from oven to stir and  toss the mixture (for even baking). Return to oven and bake an additional 15 minutes, until granola is golden.

Remove from oven and add the golden raisins and chopped dried apricots to the mixture on the pan; toss to combine everything well. Let mixture cool completely on pan (the mixture will get crunchier as it cools), then store in a tightly-sealed container for 2 to 3 weeks.

When I make granola in the summer, I usually do it early in the morning, when it’s still cool. I try to avoid using the oven later in the day because my place gets so hot! But it’s worth making this yummy granola, even if you do have to get up extra early to do it! 🙂 Have you made any granola lately? What do you like to add to yours?

Sharing at Fiesta Friday, Weekend Potluck, Meal Plan Monday, Create with Joy.

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10 Tips: Picking a Ripe Watermelon and Serving Ideas

Have you been enjoying watermelon this summer? It tastes especially good on really, really hot days–like the ones we’ve been having the past few weeks! And it’s good for you, too–I read that it’s high in vitamins A, B6, and C. it’s also a good source of lycopene, which is good for your heart, and potassium, which helps steady your blood pressure. And, since a watermelon is over 90% water, it helps keep you hydrated on hot days!

I’ve always managed to pick good watermelons–I don’t remember ever buying a bad watermelon. It doesn’t hurt to know a few helpful tips when you’re choosing one, so you might find these helpful the next time you buy a watermelon!

  1. You may find the best selection at your local farmer’s market, since watermelons sold at grocery stores are often picked before they are fully ripened–once a watermelon is picked from the vine, it usually doesn’t ripen that much more.
  2. Look for a watermelon that has a uniform, symmetrical shape, smooth texture, and free of bumps, dents, and bruises–lumps mean the melon didn’t have a regular amount of sunshine or water while growing.
  3. Look at the skin of the watermelon-it should have definite dark and light green strips and should be dull rather than shiny–shiny means it’s not ripe (some grocery stores sell melons with skins that have been waxed, so this tip may not help in that case).
  4. Check the bottom of the watermelon (also called the “field spot” or “belly”)–you’ll want to see a creamy, buttery yellow color there–that means it’s ripe (you don’t want to see a white or light green bottom).
  5. A ripe watermelon should feel heavy for its size–pick up some watermelons that are the same size and compare their weight–the heaviest one is the ripest and juiciest.
  6. If you tap the watermelon and it sounds hollow, that means it’s ripe. If it sounds dull, that means it’s under-ripe or over-ripe.
  7. Store an uncut watermelon at room temperature (This is said to raise its levels of lycopene by 20 percent). Wash and slice the watermelon within a few days of purchasing it. A cut watermelon can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for 3 to 5 days. Serving idea: make a glaze of lime juice, honey, and chopped mint–drizzle over watermelon slices.
  8. You can freeze watermelon chunks to use in smoothies (you won’t want to freeze watermelon for eating, though–the texture gets soft when thawed). You can also freeze watermelon juice in ice-cube trays to add to lemonade, ice tea, or punch.
  9. Use watermelon in these easy recipes: Make watermelon skewers by pairing watermelon chunks or balls with any combination of the following: large blackberries, strawberries, honeydew or cantaloupe chunks or balls, mango chunks, pineapple chunks, cucumber slices, banana slices, feta cheese chunks, pitted black olives, cherry tomatoes. Add watermelon to summer salads (with some feta cheese) or just toss watermelon and feta cheese together for a refreshing “salad.” Make an easy watermelon salsa with diced watermelon chunks, diced cucumber, chopped cilantro, minced jalapeño pepper and some lime juice. Drink some Watermelon Lemonade–just puree 2 cups of small seedless 1/2-inch watermelon cubes and mix into 1 quart of lemonade. Enjoy some Watermelon Granita–In blender or food processor, puree 4 cups of small seedless 1/2-inch cubed watermelon, 1/2 cup sugar, and 2 Tablespoons lime juice. Pour into a 9×13″ container and place in freezer. Stir with a fork every 30 minutes until mixture is slushy, up to 2 1/2 hours.
  10. Snack on the watermelon seeds: Toss 1 cup raw watermelon seeds, rinsed and dried, in a little olive oil, sea salt, and/or spices of your choice. Toast on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 325˚F for 10 to 15 minutes. Watermelon seeds have fiber, protein, and magnesium.

Have you used any of these tips yourself? Do you have any other watermelon tips of your own?

Sharing at Inspire Me Monday.

Watermelon-Mint-Lime Water

When hot weather comes around, I usually crave watermelon. It’s so refreshing and it’s good for you too. And I discovered that watermelon is also great for making flavored water! Combining chunks of juicy watermelon with fresh mint and tart limes makes a great-tasting summery drink! You just have to plan ahead a little, since you need to chill the mixture for 1 to 2 hours before drinking.

I buy watermelon regularly throughout the summer and I grow my own mint in a large pot, so I had everything I needed to make this except for the limes. You can make it without limes, but I like the refreshing zing they add to the mix!

WATERMELON-MINT-LIME WATER by NancyC

Makes 1 large pitcher

  • 3 cups cubed watermelon chunks (cut in 1/2″ size cubes)
  • 4 sprigs of mint (a sprig is a stem with 6 to 8 leaves), lightly crushed or rubbed (to release flavor and scent)
  • 2 limes, thinly sliced (use organic limes or wash limes very well!)
  • 7 to 8 cups of water
  • 2 to 3 cups of ice

Add cubed watermelon, mint sprigs, and sliced limes to pitcher, then add water and ice. Chill for 1 to 2 hours to infuse flavors, then serve, pouring into ice-filled glasses. Tastes best the day it’s made.

It definitely does taste best the day it’s made, but you can finish drinking this flavored water up by the second day if you have any left over. It really is refreshing and more fun to drink than plain water! What do you like to add to your water?

Sharing at Inspire Me Monday, Meal Plan Monday, Weekend Potluck.

Salad Burger

Just about everyone loves a good burger! I thought I’d try a making a healthier burger after I received some samples from Hilary’s. Their products are made with minimally processed ingredients and are free from common allergens. They sent me their Worlds Best Veggie Burger and Curry Veggie Burger, and I really liked them both. You can actually see bits of the fresh veggies these are made with, which make them seem even healthier than your average veggie burger. Hilary’s also sent me a few salad dressings to try: Spicy Island Dressing, a creamy,  tangy, slightly spicy take on Thousand Island dressing, and Beet Vinaigrette, a slightly sweet vinaigrette with some balsamic vinegar mixed in. Both flavors were very good and low on calories–30 per serving for the Spicy Island and 50 per serving for the Beet Vinaigrette.

I created this Salad Burger using the Curry Veggie Burger and Spicy Island Dressing, along with items I like to put in salads–cucumber, tomato, onion, banana pepper, black olives, and avocado. If you’re not into veggie burgers, you can use a beef burger cooked your favorite way–the toppings go great with beef, too! It’s a reeeaaallly good burger, so I hope you get a chance to try it this soon!

SALAD BURGER

Makes 1 burger (for larger servings, multiply the ingredients by the number of burgers you want to make)

  • your favorite cooked hamburger patty (you can use a veggie or beef burger-I used Hilary’s Curry Veggie Burger)
  • 1 whole wheat roll or hamburger bun
  • 3 to 4 thin slices of cucumber
  • 3 to 4 slices of banana pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons of mashed avocado
  • 1 Tablespoon sliced black olives
  • Romain lettuce or your favorite lettuce/salad mix
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons creamy salad dressing, like a Thousand Island or Ranch flavor (I used Hilary’s Spicy Island Dressing)
  • slice of tomato
  • slice of yellow or red onion

Put the top and bottom of a hamburger bun face up on a plate, or slice a large roll in half and place both sides face up on a plate.

Place your cooked burger on the bottom bun. Top burger patty with cucumber slices, banana pepper slices, sliced black olives, and mashed avocado.

On the top bun, spread the creamy salad dressing, then place a slice of tomato and slice of onion on top of the dressing.

Carefully put the bottom and top buns together and serve.

These burger toppings taste great together and you don’t need to use any ketchup or mustard–there’s plenty of toppings and flavor without those. It’s a great burger and very filling–perfect if you’re craving something really good and on the healthy side! Do you like veggie burgers or do you prefer beef?

Sharing at Weekend Potluck, Meal Plan Monday, Fiesta Friday.

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Sheet Pan Roasted Vegetables

I eat raw veggies with dip every once in a while, but my favorite way to eat veggies is when they’re roasted. I just love them that way! They’re so easy to make–just cube or chop the veggies into bite-sized pieces, coat with an olive oil/balsamic vinegar/herb mixture, spread them out on a large sheet pan, and roast in your oven. I like using a variety of veggies–if you don’t like a particular veggie in this recipe, you can always substitute a different one. So this recipe is versatile as well as easy! If you’re growing a vegetable garden, this is a great way to use those home-grown veggies!

SHEET PAN ROASTED VEGETABLES by NancyC

Makes a large 13×18″ pan (about 8 servings)

  • 2 medium size potatoes, cubed (about 3 1/2 to 4 cups)
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small zucchini (slice 1/2-inch thick and cut slices in half)
  • 1 small yellow squash (slice 1/2-inch thick and cut slices in half)
  • 2 large carrots, sliced 1/2-inch thick (about 2 to 2 1/2 cups)
  • 2 medium size yellow or red onions (or 1 of each), quartered, with pieces separated
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil (use 1/3 cup for a lighter coating of oil or 1/2 cup for a generous coating)
  • 3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450˚F. Line a 13×18″ sheet pan with foil or parchment paper; set aside.

Chop vegetables as indicated and put in a very large bowl.

In a small bowl, mix rosemary, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour this mixture over the vegetables in the large bowl and stir until all the vegetables are coated.

Spread the vegetables evenly on the sheet pan and roast in the oven at 450˚F for 40 minutes, stirring after 20 minutes, until veggies are tender. Season with additional salt and/or pepper, if desired, and serve.

These veggies are so good, it’s hard to stop eating them. At least they’re healthy though, so if you eat a big helping you don’t have to feel quite so guilty! Are you a fan of roasted vegetables too or do you like eating your veggies another way?

Sharing this at Fiesta Friday, Meal Plan Monday, Weekend Potluck, Inspire Me Monday.