CasserolesRecipesVeggie-Lover Dinners

Hearty Tuna Bake

heartysmarty

This is a classic casserole that I grew up loving. As usual, I souped it up on vegetables and “healthified” the recipe without sacrificing flavor and texture. We eat this casserole almost once per month. I hope your family loves it as much as we do. Enjoy!

 

Hearty Tuna Bake

3 Cups Dry Egg Noodles
2 5-oz. Cans Tuna in water, drained
1 1/2 Cup Frozen Peas
1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Cup Celery, chopped
1 Cup Zucchini, chopped (optional)
1/4 Cup Green Onions, minced
3/4 Cup Greek Yogurt
3/4 Cup Mayonnaise
1 Recipe Hearty Cream of Chicken Soup
2 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley (1 Tablespoon Dry)
1 Cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Cook Egg Noodles according to package directions just until soft. Do not overcook.
2. Mix all remaining ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.
3. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.
4. Increase heat to a high broil and bake for an additional 60 to 90 seconds. Watch it closely!
5. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Makes 6 Servings

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RecipesVeggie-Lover Dinners

Pesto Pasta

heartysmarty

Oftentimes as I’m cooking in the kitchen, someone comes along and snitches a bite of whatever I am making. This time it was my husband taste-testing this Pesto Pasta. He took one bite, rolled his eyes back in his head and exclaimed, “Mmmmm!” He may have even done a fist-pump in the air. With a reaction like that, I had to document this one. I served it with a Caesar Salad made of romaine lettuce and homemade garlic croutons to make it a complete meal. I hope you get a similar reaction from your family or dinner guests when you make it for them.

 

 

Pesto Pasta

2 Cups Basil, packed fresh leaves
2 Cloves Garlic
1/4 Cup Pine Nuts
2/3 Cup Olive Oil, divided
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 Cup Parmesan, shredded fresh + 1/4 Cup for topping
12 oz. Penne Pasta (6 oz. white and 6 oz. whole wheat)
2 Cups Frozen Peas

Directions:

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Follow directions on package to cook your pasta of choice. I like to use Penne, but Farfalle or Rotini works well too. During the last 5 minutes of boiling, add frozen peas to the pasta. Drain and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, combine basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor. Pulse a few times until chopped.
3. Add 1/2 Cup Olive Oil and process until smooth. Continue adding remaining Olive Oil until desired consistency is reached. Season with Salt and Pepper.
4. Transfer to a small mixing bowl and add the Parmesan cheese. Pour pesto over cooked pasta and stir until well-coated. Top with extra Parmesan. Serve warm.

Serves 6. 

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Baked GoodsBreakfastMeals for OneRecipesTreats

Healthy Two-Minute Peach Cobbler

heartysmarty

During peach season, one of my favorite treats to make is a quick, single-serving of peach cobbler. I should put this “treat” in quotation marks because it’s actually not very calorific, but it tastes awesome and satisfies a mild sweet tooth. Here’s how I make it:

Step 1: Thinly slice a fresh peach into about 10-12 slices.

Step 2: In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave the peaches for 2 minutes.

Step 3: Top with 1/2 Cup of my Hearty Granola. (Search “Hearty Granola” in the bar at the top right of the homepage).

Step 4: Drizzle with 2 Tablespoons Vanilla Almond Milk.

Viola! Peach cobbler with next to no effort. You’re welcome.

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Baked GoodsBreakfastRecipes

Hearty Granola

heartysmarty

My favorite mid-night snack also doubles as one of my favorite breakfast cereals. I love making my own Granola because I can alter the sugar content, assuring a healthy combination of whole grains, nuts, dried fruit and other grains. Unlike most store bought granola, this version contains only whole ingredients and has LESS sugar than a cookie.  Something so delicious as this needs to be shared. Enjoy!

 

Hearty Granola

14 Cups Old-Fashioned Oats
2 Cups Raw Nuts, chopped
1 Cup Coconut, shredded
1/2 Cup Ground Flaxseed
2 Tablespoons Cinnamon
1 Cup Dried Fruit (Raisins, Craisins, Mango, Pineapple, etc.)

Syrup:
1 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Canola Oil
1 1/2 Cups Honey
1/2 Cup Molasses
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 325 Degrees F. Lightly grease 3 cookie sheets and set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, nuts, coconut, flaxseed, and cinnamon. Stir to combine.
3. In a large saucepan, combine syrup ingredients. Heat on low until sugars are dissolved. Remove from heat and add vanilla.
4. Pour syrup over dry ingredients and stir until completely coated. Spread mixture onto cookie sheets.
5. Bake 20 to 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Bake an extra 15 minutes for crunchier texture.
6. Immediately after removing from oven, stir in dried fruit and let cool on the counter.
7. Store in a cool, dry place in airtight containers. Use within 2 months.

Makes: 20 Cups

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BreakfastRecipesSmoothies

Mango Blueberry Smoothie

heartysmarty

Another reason to love late summer is because the Kent Mangoes at Costco are in season. The mangoes were the size of my toddler’s head and so flavorful and juicy.  They made our morning smoothie taste so good that I had to make another batch to satisfy everyone’s craving. It is so wonderful when nature’s candy is so healthy for you too! Mangoes contain over 20 different vitamins and minerals, the most of which are vitamin C, vitamin A, folate, and B6.

 

Mango Blueberry Smoothie

2 Cups Water
1 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt
2 Handfuls of fresh spinach or 2 Spinach Pucks
2 Cups Mango chunks, fresh or frozen
1 1/2 Cups Frozen Blueberries

Place all ingredients into blender in order listed. Blend on highest setting until smooth. Enjoy!

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Cooking Tips & TricksRecipes

Frozen Spinach Pucks for Smoothies

heartysmarty

One of my goals in the kitchen is to waste as little food as possible. I also try to waste as little time in the kitchen as possible too. When food starts going bad in the fridge, my challenge is to re-purpose it or preserve it before it is too late. Years ago, I overheard some ladies in the grocery store checkout line talking about how they freeze spinach for smoothies. They called them “spinach pucks.” I gave it a try, and it worked like a charm! The best part is, because the spinach is blended once into a puck and then again into your smoothie, the spinach goes undetected for the picky eaters.

Have you ever been guilty of buying Costco’s huge, 2.5 pound bag of spinach totally intending to eat salads all week, but your plans didn’t quite come to fruition? Or maybe your garden is producing way more spinach that your family can eat. I’ve been there. Here’s how I ensure that this super nutritious food doesn’t go to waste:

1. Pick out any wilted leaves and pack the good ones into a blender. Tightly pack the spinach to the 2 cup line.

2. Add just enough water to get the spinach to start blending. Start with about 2 tablespoons.

3. Continue to add spinach until it becomes too pulpy (is that a word?) to blend.

4. Blend until smooth.

5. Fill muffin tin cups with the blended spinach.

6. Freeze spinach 8 hours or overnight.

7. Pop the pucks of spinach out of the tins and store in an air-tight freezer container for up to 3 months.

8. Use a spinach puck or two in your favorite smoothies.

 

Why freeze?

In the process of freezing food, very little to no nutrition is lost. However, other forms of preservation such as canning kills off many beneficial vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals (antioxidants) in fruits and vegetables. Frozen produce won’t last as long as canned produce, but you will receive much more nutrition from it. So, just remember to label your frozen foods and eat them up within three month’s time.

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RecipesSaladsVeggie-Lover Dinners

Garlic Sauteed Vegetable Medley

heartysmarty

It’s easy to get in a rut with vegetable dishes. We all know we should be eating more of them, but the same ol’ recipes get boring on repeat. Here’s one of my favorite ways to eat up the veggies (particularly squash) in our garden. You’ll love the variety in flavor and texture. Enjoy!

Garlic Sautéed Vegetable Medley

1 1/2 Cup Fresh Green Beans
1 Red Bell Pepper
2 Small Yellow Squash
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1/3 Cup Parmesan, shredded
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Ground Pepper

Directions:
1.  Snap the green beans into 2 inch pieces. Dice the bell peppers and cut the squash crosswise in 3/4-inch rounds.
2. Heat 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil over medium high heat in a large non-stick skillet.
3. Add vegetables and sauté about 10 minutes until the veggies are crisp-tender.
4. Move the veggies to the outside of the pan and pour the remaining Tablespoon of olive oil into the middle of the skillet. Cook the minced garlic in the olive oil for about 90 seconds before mixing it into the vegetable medley.
5. Sprinkle fresh-grated parmesan over the vegetables and cover skillet with a lid for about 1 minute until the cheese melts.
6. Season with salt and pepper.

Makes about 6 side dish servings.

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RecipesSalads

Summer Quinoa Salad

heartysmarty

This is the most flavor-packed summer salad that takes the least amount of time to make. It’s so fresh, so easy, and so healthy. The quinoa is full of fiber and protein and the veggies provide vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to keep you nourished and energized. Enjoy!

Summer Quinoa Salad

1 1/2 Cups Quinoa, cooked and chilled
1 1/2 Cups Cucumbers, chopped
1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1/4 Cup Feta Crumbles
3 Tablespoons Pine Nuts
2 Tablespoons Fresh Basil
1/4 Cup Bottled Italian Dressing*

Directions:
1. In a large saucepan, combine 3/4 Cup quinoa with 1 1/2 Cups water. Cover with lid and bring to boil. Once boiling, turn heat off and leave pan on the burner for about 15 minutes until quinoa is fully cooked. Set aside and chill in fridge.

2. Chop cucumbers and bell peppers. (See chopping tip.)

3. Roast pine nuts in a non-stick pan for about 3 minutes. Stir often to promote even cooking and prevent burning.

4. Mix all salad ingredients together and refrigerate about 4 hours or until chilled through. The salad tastes best after a few hours of marinating.

Tip: If you need your salad ready in a jiffy, chill the quinoa in separate, uncovered containers in the freezer for about 10 minutes before combining all ingredients.

Makes 6-8 side servings.

*When choosing an Italian dressing, check the label for sugar content. If it contains more than 3 grams of sugar per 2 Tablespoon serving, try to find the original, full-fat version of the dressing. When manufacturers make a low-fat dressing, they substitute sugar for fat to make up the flavor. Unfortunately, refined sugar converts to fat faster than the oil from the dressing does when we digest it, so it’s better to go for the full-fat version.

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RecipesSalads

Classic Creamy Pasta Salad

heartysmarty

This is the easiest, kid-friendliest salad you will ever make. Because my children are not sandwich eaters, I have to get creative with picnic outings and school lunches for them. This salad frequents our picnic basket and lunch boxes. And (of course) I have tweaked a few ingredients to make it just a bit more hearty than the original recipe. Enjoy!

 

Classic Creamy Pasta Salad

8 oz. Bow Tie or Macaroni Pasta
2 Cups Frozen peas
3/4 Cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese, cubed
2.5 oz. Canadian Bacon or Ham, diced

Dressing:
2/3 Cup Mayonnaise
1/3 Cup Greek Yogurt
1/4 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Green Onions, chopped fine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

1. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, cut the cheddar into 1/2 inch cubes. Combine them into a large bowl with the peas and ham.

3. Mix the dressing ingredients thoroughly and pour over the pea mixture. Stir to combine well.

4. Add cooked noodles and let them thaw the frozen peas as you stir to coat the pasta.

5. Chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours or over night.

6. Serve cold and refrigerate left-overs in an air tight container for up to 3 days.

Serves: 6-8 side dishes

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Cooking Tips & Tricks

Preserving Summer Squash

heartysmarty

It’s that wonderful time of year when my morning routine includes harvesting goods from the garden. Almost every day, a summer squash is in my harvest loot. I always plant way more plants than our family needs for the summer, because I like to preserve some for use in the winter months. Squash preservation is my favorite, because it takes very little time and equipment to do. Here’s how to do it:

Option 1: Shredded Squash for use in Baked Goods

1. Thoroughly wash the dirt from each squash and cut off the stem and bottom.

2. If the squash is rather large and has formed seeds, slice the squash in half, lengthwise and scoop out the center.

3. Rub the squash along a hand-held cheese grater until your arm feels like it might fall off.

…………………………..or…………………………

4. Use the food processor attachment of your Bosch blender and let it do the grating for you.

5. Store the grated squash in 1 quart freezer bags and freeze them for later use in baked goods. (See my recipe for Zucchini Muffins.)

 

Option 2: Spiralized squash (Zoodles) for use in Pasta Dishes

1. Thoroughly wash the dirt from each squash and cut off the stem and bottom.

2. If the squash is rather large and has formed seeds in the center, slice the squash in half, lengthwise and scoop out the center.

3. Use either a hand-held spiralizer or a spiralizer machine to cut and twist out beautiful spirals of squash.

4. Store the spirals (Zoodles) of squash in 1 gallon freezer bags and freeze for later use in pasta dishes. (See my recipe for Chicken Zoodle Alfredo.)

Why freeze?

In the process of freezing food, little to no nutrition is lost. However, other forms of preservation such as canning kills off many beneficial vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals (antioxidants) in fruits and vegetables. Frozen produce won’t last as long as canned produce, but you will receive much more nutrition from it. So, just remember to label your frozen foods and eat them up within three month’s time.

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