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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Italian Lentil Soup

Kid Friendly! The Smile says it all!

If you are looking for vegetarian dinner recipes simple and healthy, that your whole family will love, you will defiantly want to try this one!!  Packed full of nutritional goodies, this soup will quickly become a family favorite.  The best part is, this soup is even better the next day, so leftovers will not last long.  I love making my weekly dinner menus healthy and delicious and this has defiantly become a regular in our house!

Lentil Fun Facts:

Compared to other types of dried beans, lentils are relatively quick and easy to prepare and  readily absorb a variety of wonderful flavors from other foods and seasonings.
Lentils are a small but nutritionally mighty member of the legume family.  They are an excellent source of cholesterol-lowering fiber. Their high fiber content also helps to prevent blood sugar levels from rising rapidly after a meal. But this is far from all lentils have to offer. Lentils also provide good to excellent amounts of six important minerals, two B-vitamins, and protein—all with virtually no fat. The calorie cost of all this nutrition? Just 230 calories for a whole cup of cooked lentils! Which means this tiny nutritional giant will fill you up and not out.

Italian Lentil Soup
1 medium onion chopped
1 TBSP olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 ¼ cups water
1 can (14 ½ oz) low-sodium vegetable broth
1 cup dried lentils, rinsed
2 cups spinach, chopped
2 medium carrots, shredded
1 small organic green or red pepper, finely chopped
1 tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 (14 ½ oz) can diced low-sodium organic tomatoes
1 (6oz) can tomato paste
1 TBSP lemon juice

1.     In dutch oven (or large pot), sauté onion in oil until tender. 
2.    Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer. 
3.    Add water, broth, lentils, carrots, green pepper, oregano, basil, cinnamon and pepper flakes.  Bring to boil.  Reduce heat: cover and simmer for 20-25 min or until lentils are almost tender
4.   Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste and lemon juice.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and add spinach: cover and simmer 10 minutes longer or until lentils are tender. 

Chef’s Tips:
·         Serve over brown rice or quinoa for a hearty meal.
·         Add cooked organic chicken or ground beef for non-vegetarian dish.
·         You can substitute low-sodium chicken broth for vegetable broth.
·         Add jalapeno pepper (finely chopped) for extra kick.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Birdseed Ornaments

Each year, as the Holiday season rolls around, I try to come up with special crafts that I can do with the kids to give out as Christmas presents.  Growing up, a favorite memory with my mom was making sugar cookies.  It was so fun to put on Christmas music, and spend time with my mom and sisters as we worked together to create delicious cookies to give away.  Looking back now, the cookie part was not the what made this time so special, it was the togetherness that did. 

Last year, we made Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments (which are hanging on my tree again this year) and gave them to family members, teachers and friends. This year I wanted to do something different so I decided to make Birdseed Ornaments to hang on outside trees for our feathered friends.

Birdseed Ornaments

What you will need:

2 small packets Knox Original Gelatine (unflavored)
1 1/2 cup birdseed
Mold of your choice (we used cookie cutters)
1/2 cup water
String, twine or ribbon (do not use bright colored ribbon, it may scare the birds away) 


Dissolve two packets of Knox into the water.  Bring water to a simmer, stir until completely dissolved.  Let cool slightly.

Add birdseed to liquid, mix well.  There should not be any excess liquid.  If you notice your mixture is a little soupy, add more birdseed.

Gather the two ends of your string, twine or ribbon, tie into a knot, making a big loop.

Cover a tray with foil.  Lay out your molds.  Spoon the birdseed mixture into the molds, filling only half way.  Be sure to the birdseed mixture is well packed in the molds.  Place the knot of your string on top of the pressed birdseed at the top of your ornament.  Fill the remainder of the mold, pressing the mixture down and making sure that the string knot is completely covered.

Place tray in the freezer for a few hours, to make the un-molding process a little easier.  Let the ornaments dry out for a few days, flipping occasionally to ensure each side dries completely.

When hanging outside, be sure to hang in a place that birds can easily rest and eat.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

White Bean Stew with Sausage

During the Holiday Season, our lives get a little more hectic and it gets a little harder to have a hot healthy meal ready for your family. Enter the handy crock-pot! As the weather turns colder, there is something comforting about coming home to a warm house with the smell of dinner floating through the air...and there's nothing you need to do but SERVE IT UP! Here is a delicious recipe that will warm your soul and your family will love it.

White Bean Stew with Sausage

1 lb (2 cups) dried small white beans
1 onion, finely chopped
2-3 carrots, sliced
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp each sea salt and black pepper
6 cups chicken stock
1 can (14.5 oz) petite diced tomatoes
1 package Applegate Organic Chicken and Apple Sausage, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
4 packed cups fresh spinach, coarsely chopped

Add beans, onion, garlic, and spices to the slow cooker.  Add chicken stock and diced tomatoes, with juice, and sausage.

Cook on low for 8-10 hours, or until the beans are tender.  Add spinach and cook for additional 30 minutes.

-If you will be home while cooking this meal, add the meat after 5-6 hours.  If you will be gone all day you can add the sausage at the beginning.
-Cook time will probably be close to 10 hours. Check beans at 6-7 hours and if are still very under cooked, turn to high for while.


1 lb. (2 cups) dried small white beans
1 onion, chopped into fairly small pieces
1 T finely minced garlic
1 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 tsp. dried thyme, crushed
6 cups homemade chicken stock or canned chicken broth
1 can (14.5 oz.) petite dice tomatoes
14 oz. Kielbasa sausage, cut into half-moon slices (use low-fat turkey Kielbasa for South Beach Diet)
4 packed cups fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving (optional) - See more at: http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2012/02/recipe-for-slow-cooker-kielbasa-and.html#sthash.E4AijRDo.dpuf
1 lb. (2 cups) dried small white beans
1 onion, chopped into fairly small pieces
1 T finely minced garlic
1 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 tsp. dried thyme, crushed
6 cups homemade chicken stock or canned chicken broth
1 can (14.5 oz.) petite dice tomatoes
14 oz. Kielbasa sausage, cut into half-moon slices (use low-fat turkey Kielbasa for South Beach Diet)
4 packed cups fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving (optional) - See more at: http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2012/02/recipe-for-slow-cooker-kielbasa-and.html#sthash.E4AijRDo.dpuf

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Healthy Ideas to Excite your Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday to gather with friends and family to show how thankful you are for the many blessings in your life.  But it is also a holiday to stuff yourself full with tasty food that may not be the best choice for you on your health journey.  Here are a couple of cute ideas we found to excite your Thanksgiving and incorporate some healthy choices to your feast.

Fruit and Vegetable Turkeys.

 How cute are these turkeys?  They will absolutely put an exciting spin on your normal fruit and vegetable platter! 
The only problem you may have is they are  they are TOO CUTE to eat!

Use your favorite fruits and vegetable to make these beautiful food art pieces.  Be creative and have fun!  This would be a perfect project for the kids to do to contribute to the preparation of Thanksgiving dinner!

Almond Berry Cobbler from The Healthy Edge

1 Tbsp coconut oil
2 cups fresh or frozen organic blackberries
2 cups fresh or frozen organic raspberries
1 Tbsp honey
1/2 cup gluten-free flour (or whole wheat flour if you have no gluten allergies/sensitivities)

1 1/2 cup whole rolled oats
1 cup raw, unsalted almonds, chopped
1/2 cup coconut oil, liquefied
1/2 cup honey

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Step 1: Heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add berries and sauté for approximately 2–3 minutes. Add the honey and continue cooking for 5–7 minutes.  Slowly stir in the flour, being careful not to mash the berries, until all of the berries are coated and the mixture thickens. Remove from heat, set aside.

Step 2: Melt 1/2 cup solid coconut oil in a small saucepan over low heat until coconut oil is liquefied In a large bowl combine the oats and almonds. Add the coconut oil and honey. Stir well to thoroughly coat the oats and almonds.

Step 3: Line a casserole dish with half of the oat mixture to form the bottom layer. Spread the berry mixture over the bottom layer. Top with remaining oat mixture.

Step 4: Bake the cobbler for 30–35 minutes until berry mixture is bubbly. Remove from oven and cool slightly before serving warm.

For more ideas for a Healthy Holiday Season, check out the Healthy Edge Holiday E-Book.  Filled with over 20 recipes your family and guests will love!  Including: Healthy Edge Cheeseball, Broccoli, Edamame and Potato Gratin, and Raw Apple Pie!  Download your copy today for only $5.95!!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Quick and Healthy Food For Diet Conscious Guests

So you are hosting a holiday dinner and you need some ideas for food for diet conscious guests. We get it. It seems like EVERYONE is on some kind of low-sodium, low-fat, low-carb, no sugar diet. How do you accommodate these guests to make them feel welcome, but do it quick and healthy? 

Pumpkin Hummus
Our first suggestion for a quick and healthy food for diet idea is serving hummus as an appetizer. Hummus contains garbanzo beans, tahini (sesame paste), garlic, lemon and sea salt. It is a great substitute for your traditional cream cheese and sour cream based dips.  It is super quick and healthy and will be just the food for diet conscious guests! Hummus has many variations and we like the Pumpkin Hummus in The Healthy Edge Holiday E-book. Vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers and celery or a whole grain cracker such as Mary Gone’s Crackers or Food Should Taste Good brand crackers. 

Serving some type of fish is a great way to make a holiday meal quick and healthy. Instead of spending an entire day roasting a turkey and hoping it comes our juicy and edible, why not try a fish such as salmon or halibut for your guests? This will be a welcome food for diet conscious guests! The highlight  of a fish based meal is what is served on it. We love the quick and healthy recipe for Maple and Cranberry Sauce below from The Healthy Edge Holiday E-book to put over baked halibut (or your fish of choice). 

Maple and Cranberry Sauce over Halibut

2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 cup unsweetened cranberries, fresh or
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 small shallot, minced
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp cracked black pepper


1.       In a medium saucepan, add the cranberries and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for approximately 5 minutes. Drain the water from the cranberries and add the cranberries to a medium mixing bowl.
2.       Add maple syrup, shallot, sea salt, and black pepper to cranberries. Mix well to thoroughly combine ingredients.
3.       Divide the cranberry mixture evenly and spread upon each fillet before serving.

We hope these tips have given you some ideas for quick and healthy meals for diet conscious guests! Remember, use REAL ingredients and avoid packaged and boxed dishes that contain excess amounts of sodium and ingredients that are anything but “real” and “healthy”! For more ideas on recipes for the holidays, check out this site.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Canning Recipe: Cinnamon Pears

I’ve heard many people talk about “canning” their fruits and vegetables so they can be enjoyed all day long, but for me, it conjured up memories of a favorite show of my sister, “Little House on the Prairie”. This year we were blessed to have been given an overabundance of organic pears and I just didn’t have the heart to allow them to sit and rot. Pears are a fruit I really love and usually only eat seasonally. When Brian suggested we “can them”, I was all for it and thought we would share with you how simple this process really is and it is a great activity for a family too!
Instead of just “canning pears” we decided to spice it up a bit (even though it was our first time) and prepare a recipe called 

Cinnamon Pears. We didn’t buy all of the fancy canning supplies, but rather used a lot of what was already in our kitchen. Here are the supplies we needed. Don’t get intimidated, remember much of this you ALREADY have in your kitchen!

  •  1 very large stock pot (this should allow the cans to sit on the bottom and have the water completely cover them. A minimum of 4 jars should fit, but more is better to save time.)
  • 3 medium saucepans. Yes three. One for the pears to boil in, one for the apple juice and water mixture and one for the lids.
  • 1 large ladle.
  • 1 large cutting board.
  •  2 large bowls. (One for the peeled pears and one for the cooked pears.)
  •  2 sets of tongs. One should have silicone end or an end that has the ability to grip for removing the hot jars from the water.
  • 10 – 12 wide mouth pint jars with lids and bands. Be sure the lids have never been used before. Bands and jars can be reused.
  • 1 – 2 hand peelers.
  • 1 rubber spatula.
  • 1 sharp knife to cut pears in two and remove seeds.
  • 10 – 12 cinnamon sticks.
  • 3-5 lbs. of organic pears. Just depends on how much you want to can. We had about 5 lbs. of pears and canned 10 pint size jars.
  • 1 gallon pure apple juice (no sugar added).
  • Fruit-Freshâ Produce Protector. This is optional, but it great if you want to prevent browning of the produce as you wait for everything to heat up. 

     The pears. Use a hand peeler to peel all of the skins off of the pears. Then cut the pears in half and remove the seeds, then cut the pear again. Place all pears that are cut in a large bowl, sprinkled with Fruit-Fresh Product Protector. The cutting of the pears can also be done as the water is boiling. 

     Setting up the pots. Fill 2 of the sauce pans ¾ full of water.  Fill the final saucepan with ½ apple juice and ½ water (up to ¾ full). Place the pint jars (lids and bands removed) into the large stock pot and then fill them with water (the water will be inside the jars and all around them). The water should be 1-2 inches above the jars.

    Turn the burner for the large stock pot on medium-high heat first. This allows for the jars to slowly heat up and prepare them for filling and the final boil.   

    As the water starts to heat up, turn on the burners for all of the saucepans on medium heat. Place the canning lids in one of the saucepans with water to allow to slowly heat-up.
The jars and lids need to simmer for 10 minutes. The lids should not be overheated, so you can then turn down a bit if they are in longer than 10 minutes. 

The apple juice and water mixture should be brought to a simmer in preparation for the canning.

Place the pears in the other saucepan just filled with water. They will be in there as long as it takes to heat them throughout. I used the metal tongs to test the firmness and pulled them out when they began to soften.  

The Canning Process.
    Remove a jar from the large stockpot (using the tongs with the silicone ends) and place on a cutting board or towel. 

    Use the other set of metal tongs to pick up the peeled pears and place in the jar. Stuff as many pears as will fit into the pint jars, allowing for ½ inch from the top.

     Take a cinnamon stick and put in the jar, along one side.
    Take the apple juice and water mixture and ladle the mixture into the pint jars, covering the pears and filling until there is ½ inch remaining from the top.
    Next you need to remove any additional air bubbles. Place the rubber spatula on one side of the jar and press the pears to the side of the jar. Do this on the other side as well.

    Take a paper towel and wipe the rim of the pint jar. Remove a lid from the hot water and place on the jar. Use the band to secure the lid, not tightening too much, but “fingertip” tight.

    Set jar aside. Continue this process until all jars are filled.
    Once all jars are filled, use the tongs to put the jars back into the large stock pot. Add more water to bring the water to 1-2 inches above the jars. Turn heat back on and bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes.

    Remove the jars after 20 minutes and set in a warm, dry place. 

    Keep the jars approximately 1-2 inches apart. Allow to cool for 12 – 24 hours. Do not try to open or test the seals.

    *You may hear “pops” as the jars are cooling, but this is not necessarily always the case, so don’t worry if you don’t hear as many pops as you have jars. Canned fruit can be kept for up to 1 year. Be sure to write the date on the jars too, especially if you are canning multiple fruits and vegetables.

    We hope you enjoy your experience canning pears! What a delicious treat to enjoy throughout the entire year!

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