Monthly Archives: June 2018

No-Bake Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Do you love cookies as much as I do? There’s nothing wrong with treats as part of a balanced diet. However, if you want to eat cookies more often, you should get more than calories, sugar, and fat in the bargain.  No-bake oatmeal raisin cookies can help you do that!

Better-for-you cookies

My idea of a delicious cookie recipe is a no-bake combination of oats, peanut butter, raisins, and pure vanilla extract. These cookies are ready in less than 10 minutes and one batch is enough to last the week.

No-bake oatmeal raisin cookies are vegan and gluten-free (especially if you use gluten-free oats). In addition, you can prepare them with no added sugar, if desired.

Can you eat cookies for breakfast?

We usually think of cookies as dessert, but they work for the morning meal, too! You eat breakfast for dinner, so why not?

Don’t like cereal, eggs, or yogurt for breakfast, or you don’t have time to eat these nutritious foods?  One no-bake oatmeal raisin cookie paired with milk or a carton of yogurt and a piece of fruit is a nutritious morning meal.

No-Bake Oatmeal Raisin Breakfast Cookies

Makes 10 cookies.

2 cups raisins

1 cup chunky or creamy peanut butter (use natural peanut butter for no added sugar)

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 cups quick oats, toasted*

Place raisins, peanut butter, and vanilla extract in food processor. Blend on HIGH until well combined, about 45 seconds.  The mixture will resemble a paste. Place the raisin mixture in a medium bowl. Add oatmeal and combine well, using your hands, if necessary.  Form into 10 cookies or balls. Store in airtight container.

*Toasting oatmeal makes it taste even better in no-bake recipes. (You can skip this step if want.) To toast oats, preheat oven to 350˚F. Spread the oats evenly on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before using.

Per serving: 292 calories; 8 grams protein; 39 grams carbohydrate; 5 grams fiber; 14 grams fat (2 grams saturated fat); 0 milligrams cholesterol; 164 milligrams sodium; 60 milligrams calcium.

How to Make Better Pasta Salad

Whole wheat pasta and chickpeas provide fiber and other nutrients to support health.

Pasta salad is a staple at summertime picnics and BBQs across America, and it’s often enjoyed all year long, too. While this perennial favorite gets gobbled up by the ton every year, I cannot say that I am a fan of the classic pasta salad recipe. That’s why I came up with how to make better pasta salad.

While I like the idea of a cold pasta dish, I don’t go for combining overcooked pasta with a mayonnaise-based dressing and a smattering of chopped celery and bell pepper. To be fair, while this is the most common way, it’s not the only way to make pasta salad. There are dozens of recipes out there with all kinds of interesting ingredients.

Pasta salad can be served as a side dish or made into a meal.

Pasta salad is no “guilty pleasure” that should be relegated to the warmer months. Cooked and cooled pasta is a source of resistant starch, a type of fiber that feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut that help prevent colon cancer and to support overall health. Legumes, and cooked and cooled potatoes, also provide resistant starch. Foods rich in fiber can help prevent, and manage, prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.

I like a hearty pasta salad that’s more than a side dish.  Here’s how I build a better pasta salad to enjoy as a meatless meal or side dish all year long.

Whole wheat pasta. Whole wheat pasta is a great way to include at least three servings a day of whole grains, which, generally speaking, have more nutrients than refined grains. I like the slightly nutty taste of whole wheat pasta, which is higher in fiber than the regular kind. I favor shapes such as rotini because the ridges hold onto the dressing.

Whole wheat pasta is brimming with manganese, a mineral you need for strong bones and cartilage, and for many other bodily functions.

Why carbohydrates are so good for you

Legumes. Chickpeas and pasta are a satisfying combo that you can really sink your teeth into.  Legumes supply protein, and fiber, which helps to better regulate your energy levels. Legumes are also packed with iron, folate, and plant compounds that protect your cells from damage.

Cottage cheese. I like cheese in my pasta salad for the taste, as well as the protein and calcium. Using low fat cottage cheese in place of some of the feta cheese cuts down on calories and saturated fat.

Low fat cottage cheese has 11 times less saturated fat than feta cheese, but is lower in calcium.

Whole Wheat Pasta and Chickpea Salad

Makes 12 servings.

16 ounces (dry) whole wheat rotini pasta

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained

2 ½ cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1 cup chopped parsley

½ cup diced red onion

½ cup low fat cottage cheese

½ cup crumbled feta cheese

Dressing:

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, diced

½ teaspoon salt, or more, if desired

Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Cook pasta until just about done (al dente). Drain well and place pasta in a large serving bowl. Add the beans, tomatoes, parsley, onion, cottage cheese, and feta cheese. Combine well.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, and black pepper. Add the dressing to the pasta mixture and toss until well combined. Serve chilled.

Per serving: 253 calories; 10 grams protein; 40 grams carbohydrate; 6 grams fiber; 7 grams fat (2 grams saturated fat); 6 milligrams cholesterol; 284 milligrams sodium; 80 milligrams calcium.

Add more vegetables, such as chopped yellow bell pepper, and serve over a bed of greens to make Whole Wheat Pasta and Chickpea salad into a delicious, meatless meal.

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