Author Archives for ewardrd

Maple Walnut Pumpkin Donuts

I love coffee-shop donuts as much as the next guy, and maybe more. I don’t eat them often because while they taste good going down, donuts usually bother my stomach afterwards. When I crave a hunk of sugary fried dough, I turn to my Maple Walnut Pumpkin Donuts instead.  These baked treats offer way more – and far less – than typical coffee shop choices.

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Maple Walnut Pumpkin Donuts are baked, not fried, for less fat and fewer calories.

Donuts, including all the variations on pumpkin and maple that are populating coffee shops right now, offer little in the way of nutrition. Most store-bought donuts are fried, which jacks up the calorie and fat content.

Here’s how a Maple Walnut Pumpkin Donut stacks up to a glazed pumpkin donut from a national coffee shop chain. It has:

• 212 calories vs. 360 calories

• 1/3 the total fat, and only 1 gram saturated fat (vs. 10 grams of saturated fat found in the coffee shop donut)

• 3 times the dietary fiber, thanks to whole wheat flour and pumpkin puree

• 64% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin A, primarily from pumpkin. The commercial donut has just 2% of the DV for vitamin A, which tells me there is very little pumpkin puree in their recipe.

• Nearly 900 milligrams of potassium, about 20% of the DV, again, mostly from the pumpkin.

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Maple Walnut Pumpkin Donuts use whole wheat flour.

Maple Walnut Pumpkin Donuts*
Makes 12

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 large eggs
1 cup plain pumpkin puree (I used canned.)
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Coat two standard donut pans with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, and add the pumpkin, 1/2 cup maple syrup, vanilla, yogurt, and oil. Mix until well combined.

Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Don’t overmix.

Spoon the batter into the donut pans, filling to about 1/4″ shy of the rim, and making sure the center post is clear.

Bake for 12 to 14 minutes. Remove donuts from oven and allow to cool, in the pan, for 5 minutes on a wire rack. Remove from pan.

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Make the glaze. Sift powdered sugar into a small bowl. Add the 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and the milk, and stir until smooth. Frost each donut and top with walnuts.

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Per donut: 212 calories; 7 grams fat (1 gram saturated fat); 36 milligrams cholesterol; 220 milligrams sodium; 35 grams carbohydrate; 3 grams fiber; 5 grams protein

*For less added sugar, omit the glaze, and add the walnuts to the batter. If desired, coat warm donuts in maple sugar or a sugar-cinnamon mixture.

Want more pumpkin? Try this Pumpkin Spice Smoothie!

 

5 Stress-Free Family Meals

September is National Family Meals Month.  It’s no wonder why there’s an entire 30 days devoted to encouraging families to eat together more often. Experts frequently tout the benefits of family meals, including better nutrition, and improved school performance and higher self-esteem in children. In a perfect world, spouses, partners, and kids would be home at the same time, nobody would be cranky, tired, or hormonal, and nobody would complain about the food.  I’m a big fan of family meals, but I also know that making them happen on a regular basis can be overwhelming. Here’s why you should try anyway.

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Why Family Meals Matter

As the mother of three, I think that sitting down together over a meal helps kids in a number of ways, no matter how often your three year-old wanders off in search of something more interesting, or your teen turns up her nose at what’s for dinner.

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Family meals help kids develop a sense of regularity and routine that could carry into later life. A study of college students suggests eating at the same time promotes better nutrition. And, eating together allows you to teach kids good table manners and expose them to new foods.

Yet, it may not be necessary to create a soothing, nurturing environment around the table on a daily basis. Some experts and others (including comedian Ana Gasteyer, a mother of two) think the benefits of family meals are exaggerated. Her post is hilarious!

If you can’t make family meals happen as often as you like, take comfort in this: A large study that examined the effects of family dinners on children found that spending time with your kids and taking an interest in their daily lives matters most for their well-being, whether that happens during at meal times, or not.

5 No-Fuss Dinners

Interested in more family meals with less stress?  I highly recommend lowering your standards.

Keep dinner as simple as possible. Cook at home more often. Don’t worry about dining out or ordering in every so often, but try to make healthier choices.

Here are five healthy dinners you can have on the table in 20 minutes or less:

  • Stir-fry 8 to 12 ounces of lean ground beef or 100% ground skinless, boneless turkey breast with a large chopped onion, cumin, and salt and ground black pepper. Combine with 1 cup canned, drained black beans. Spoon the cooked meat/bean mixture onto 4 whole wheat tortillas. Top with shredded cheese, chopped tomato, lettuce, and low-fat sour cream. Or make this chili, and pair it with fruit.

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  • Store-bought rotisserie chicken; salad of prewashed greens, cherry tomatoes, and olives; quick-cooking grain such as whole wheat couscous, and milk.
  • Grilled cheese or tuna melt with sliced tomato; cup of lentil soup (beans are vegetables!); fruit, and a cup of yogurt.
  • Serve Brinner (breakfast for dinner): French toast made with whole grain bread, fruit, milk; pancakes made with whole wheat flour served with fruit and milk; or an omelet prepared with cheese and leftover vegetables, with fruit, milk, whole grain toast or roll.

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  • Pizza prepared with whole grain tortillas or whole wheat Naan bread and store-bought shredded cheddar cheese; green salad; fruit.

Here are some additional family-friendly meals:

 

 

Wild Blueberries: Small, But Fierce

Last week, I went wild. Really wild. I don’t know what you’re thinking right now, but I’m talking about going to Maine and getting better acquainted with wild blueberries. I knew they were delicious, but I didn’t know just how special wild blueberries really were until I got to see for myself how they are grown, harvested, and packaged. Here’s what I learned, thanks to the Wild Blueberry Commission, who sponsored my trip, plus two easy recipes so you can go wild, too!

Wild Blueberry and Banana Oatmeal Cups

If wild blueberries had a theme song it would be “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson. That’s not actually the name of the song, but you get the idea.

As plants go, wild blueberries are among the toughest on earth. Anything that’s been thriving for 10,000 years in a desolate location called The Barrens of Maine, and in Eastern Canada and Quebec, is hardy stock.  Wild blueberries actually love the thin, acidic soil found in this cold, harsh climate. Go figure!

Tough conditions make for delicious and nutritious wild blueberries! (Photo courtesy of Wild Blueberry Commission.)

Unlike the cultivated blueberries you buy fresh and frozen, it’s not possible to plant wild blueberries.  Wild blueberries spread naturally, and they have never been modified by man.

Wild blueberries are smaller than the cultivated kind, so you get more of the skin in a serving.  That’s good, because the skin is packed with plant compounds called phytonutrients. Eating foods rich in phytonutrients, such as wild blueberries, helps support brain health, and is linked to  a reduced risk for heart disease, cancer, and other chronic conditions.

Wild blueberries ripe for harvesting. (Photo courtesy of Wild Blueberry Commission.)

Once they are picked, wild blueberries are frozen individually within about 24 hours of harvest, preserving taste and nutrition. Frozen wild blueberries are available year-round.

These frozen wild blueberries are ready to be packaged. (Photo courtesy of Wild Blueberry Commission.)

A cup of wild blueberries, which qualifies as a serving of fruit, supplies 20% of your daily need for fiber and is a good or excellent source of several minerals, including iron, all for just 80 calories.

I snack on plain wild blueberries topped with sliced almonds or a bit of granola to add some crunch, and I like to cook with them, too (if you can call making a smoothie cooking!)

These baked oatmeal goodies are a riff on my No Added Sugar Banana Raisin Oatmeal Cups.

Baked oatmeal cups brimming with wild blueberries and whole grain goodness.

Wild Blueberry Banana Oatmeal Cups

Makes 18 servings.

3 cups oats, uncooked

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional

3 ripe medium bananas, mashed well

1/4 cup canola oil

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups 1% low-fat milk

2 1/2 cups frozen wild blueberries

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Spray muffin tins with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk the mashed bananas, oil, eggs, and vanilla extract until well combined.  Whisk in the milk.

Pour the banana mixture into the oats mixture. Stir well to combine. Gently add the wild blueberries.  The batter may be a little soupy. That’s OK.

Fill the muffin cups nearly to the top with batter (a scant 1/4-cup full).

Bake for 16 to 18 minutes or until set.  Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack for 5 minutes, with the muffins still in the pan. Remove the muffins from the pan and allow them to cool on the wire rack. Place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.

 

The Wild Blueberry Commission challenged us to smoothie contest, and this was my entry.

Wild Blueberry, Bean, and Beets Smoothie

You’re probably wondering: beans in a smoothie? I wanted a smoothie that was different than what I usually make and was a mixture of wild blueberries and vegetables (beans are vegetables). You can leave the beans out if you think they are too weird, but you can’t taste them.

Beans, beets, and wild blueberries combine to make a delicious and nutritious drink.

I rimmed the glasses with a mixture of sugar and a teaspoon or so of beet juice. You don’t have to rim the glasses, but it makes the drink fancy, especially if you’re serving it as a mocktail.

Invert the glass into a thick mixture of sugar and beet juice and allow it to set for a few minutes.

 

Rimming the glasses with sugar and beet juice is simple and makes the drink fancy.

Wild Blueberry, Bean, and Beets Smoothie

Makes 1 serving.

2 tablespoons sugar

1 small cooked peeled packaged beet, plus 1-2 teaspoons beet juice from the package

1 cup frozen wild blueberries

1/4 cup white beans, drained if canned

1/2 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

Prepare the glass. Combine the sugar with the beet juice in a small bowl. Invert the rim of the glass into the sugar mixture, rotating to cover the rim. Shake off the excess sugar, and set aside.

Place the beet, wild blueberries, beans, yogurt, and maple syrup in a blender or food processor and blend on high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Pour into prepared glass. Top with a few frozen wild blueberries and enjoy!

 

Nobody has to know there are beans in their wild blueberry smoothie!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beefy Mushroom Burgers

I adore big, juicy burgers, but honestly, I don’t want, or need, all that food. If you feel the same way, there are easy swaps you can make for a more nutritious burger meal, such as adding mushrooms for some of the meat, that don’t skimp on taste, and are also good for the planet. Here’s how I build a better burger, and how you can, too.

Mushrooms Matter

Recently, the Mushroom Council invited me to lunch at Alden & Harlow restaurant to learn more about The Blended Burger Project, a program that encourages chefs nationwide to create burgers using at least 25% mushrooms. (Please note that I did not write this post on behalf of the Mushroom Council and I did not receive anything from them other than lunch.)

I was particularly fascinated with some new research about mushroom sustainability, which found that it’s possible to grow up to one million pounds of mushrooms on a single acre of land, and that producing a pound of mushrooms requires less than two gallons of water. That’s good news for the environment.

Mushrooms are tan and white, and they often get disregarded for their lack of color, which is taken to mean that they’re not worth much nutritionally. Wrong! Mushrooms supply B vitamins, selenium and other protective compounds, and when producers expose them to ultraviolet rays, mushrooms are an excellent source of vitamin D. In fact, they are the only source of vitamin D in the produce aisle!

Mushrooms may be better for you than you realize!

Become a Blenditarian

Mushroom sustainability and nutrition is only part of what I wanted to share with you. The meeting inspired me to create an appealing blended burger recipe that’s easy to make at home, especially since it’s National Burger Month.

Blending mushrooms with meat is not new to me. Mushrooms have a meaty texture and a savory taste called umami which pairs well with meat. My Beef and Mushroom Stew recipe forgoes some meat for mushrooms.  I also use mushrooms to replace meat in marinara sauce and on pizza.

Lean ground beef, ground skinless turkey breast, and other lean animal foods, such as bison, are full of valuable nutrients, including protein, zinc, and iron.  Too many large, fatty burgers on white buns can spell trouble for your health, however.

Substituting mushrooms for some meat, no matter how fatty, increases vegetable intake – always a good idea – and naturally decreases the calories, fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol in a typical burger.

Beefy Mushroom Burgers

In my blended recipe, each burger uses just two ounces of lean beef.  When I serve the burgers, I skip the chips (well, I may have one or two), opt for whole wheat hamburger buns, and enjoy a large fresh green salad topped with olive oil and pepitas (pumpkin seeds) for extra crunch and nutrition.  I like to garnish my burger with a horseradish/mayonnaise mixture, sliced tomato, and lettuce.

Preparation tip: Make a double batch and freeze raw burgers individually for future use.

Beefy Mushroom Burgers

Makes 4.

12 ounces baby bella mushrooms, or any mushroom

2 teaspoons olive oil

8 ounces 93% lean ground beef

fresh ground black pepper, to taste

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs

2 teaspoons dried basil

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

4 2-ounce whole wheat buns, toasted or grilled, if desired

 

Chop mushrooms into 1/4-inch pieces.

Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat.  Add the olive oil to the pan and heat.  Add mushrooms to pan and saute for 3 to 5 minutes.  Season with ground black pepper.

Place mushrooms in a food processor or blender and pulse until they take on a paste-like consistency, about 10-15 seconds.

In a medium bowl, combine the mushrooms, beef, eggs, bread crumbs, basil, and Worcestershire sauce.  Form mixture into 4 patties of equal size.

Preheat grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.

Cook burgers for 5 to 7 minutes on each side or until they reach an internal temperature of 160˚F.

To serve, place patties on buns with desired toppings.

Per serving (burger and bun): 
360 calories; 11 grams fat (3 grams saturated fat); 141 milligrams cholesterol; 771 milligrams sodium; 40 grams carbohydrate; 5 grams fiber; 27 grams protein

 

Whole Wheat Broccoli Cheese Hand Pies

Broccoli cheese calzone is a regular on the dinner menu in my house because it’s easy to make, takes just three ingredients, and everyone likes it. Check, check and check! In fact, I make the large calzone so often that I thought it was high time to shake it up. The result: Whole Wheat Broccoli Cheese Hand Pies. More fun, and even better for you.  They’re perfect for a Meatless Monday meal, and are fun the next day for lunch, too!

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The recipe is really not a recipe at all.

All you need is 10 cups chopped, cooked 1-inch broccoli florets, 1 pound of whole wheat pizza dough, 16 ounces of sharp cheddar cheese (you can use pre-shredded cheese, block cheese cut into thin slices, or a mixture), and 3 teaspoons olive oil, which is optional.

That’s it!

Heat the oven to 400˚F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into 8, 7-inch circles.  I use an inverted bowl to do this. You may need to gather up the dough and roll it out again to make eight circles.

Place half the cheese on the rounds to within a half inch of the edge of the dough. The cheese forms a barrier between the dough and the broccoli to keep the hand pie from getting soggy.

Don’t worry about the cheese. Use whatever type you have on hand.

Top with the remaining cheese.

Fold the dough in half over the broccoli and cheese filling, and seal the edges with the tines of a fork. They’re messy, so no need to be super neat about the filling!

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Get your kids involved in assembling the hand pies. 

Gently place the hand pies on to the baking sheet. Brush with olive oil for a more golden glow, if desired.

Whole Wheat Broccoli Cheese Hand Pies are cute, a bit messy, and delicious!

Cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Pair the hand pies with fruit and milk for an easy lunch for kids and adults!

Raspberry Fudge Cake

Warning: Rave ahead. As in I can’t stop raving about this rich, flourless chocolate and black bean cake topped with fresh raspberries.  Trust me, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the combination of flavors!  Although it contains added sugar, Raspberry Fudge Cake is better for you than typical desserts.  This recipe is a riff on the Black Bean Brownie Bites in my latest book Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, and After Pregnancy.

Produce Power 

Fruits and vegetables help to make indulgences healthier. In this case, the raspberries and black beans work together to bump the fiber content to 8 grams (about 25% of the Daily Value) and the protein to 7 grams per serving.

Here’s why I use fruit, and vegetables, including beans, in baked goods and snacks.

Beans are brimming with nutrients including protein, fiber, potassium, and phytonutrients, compounds that protect your body. When pureed and used in baked goods, beans are useful as fat replacers, and they enhance the fudge-like texture. Check out the many amazing ways food blogger Catherine Katz at Cuisinicity works magic with lentils in sweet, and savory, dishes.

I cannot get enough raspberries! They’re delicious, beautiful, and powerful little orbs that supply vitamin C, fiber, phytonutrients, and so much more. And raspberries provide natural sweetness so you can use less added sugar when cooking.

An All-Around Great Cake

I told you I was going to brag.

Raspberry Fudge Cake takes about 40 minutes from start to finish. While it looks special enough for a celebration, it’s so easy to make that you can have it any time.

We are mad for this cake in our house. I hope you like it as much as we do!

Raspberry Fudge Cake

Makes 8 servings.

1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained

3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon canola oil

2 large eggs

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup + 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries, washed and dried

Preheat oven to 350˚F.  Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.

Place the beans and 3 tablespoons of oil in a food processor. Process on high until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the eggs, sugar, cocoa powder, and vanilla extract and blend well.  Add the baking powder and salt and blend for 10 seconds more. Stir in 1/2 cup of the chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Allow the cake to cool for 30 minutes.

Top the cake with the raspberries.  Combine the remaining teaspoon of canola oil and the remaining 1/3 cup chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave until chips are melted, about 20 to 30 seconds, stopping to stir once.  Immediately drizzle the chocolate mixture on top of the raspberries. Allow the chocolate to harden for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Per serving: 
316 calories; 14 grams fat (5 grams saturated fat); 54 milligrams cholesterol; 271 milligrams sodium; 45 grams carbohydrate; 8 grams fiber; 7 grams protein

 

No Added Sugar Banana Raisin Oatmeal Cups

I love muffins, but I don’t love the huge, high-calorie coffee shop and supermarket versions filled with refined carbohydrates and not much else in the way of nutrition. I bake a batch of these simple, no-added sugar oatmeal cups on the weekends to have as part of breakfast or for snacks all week long. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

No Added Sugar Banana Raisin Oatmeal Cups

No Added Sugar Banana Raisin Oatmeal Cups get their sweetness from fruit.

Why are these “muffins” better than most? In addition to having no added sugar, they use oatmeal, a more nutritious, whole grain, instead of white flour, and offer heart-healthy fat. Bananas and raisins supply vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Walnuts add even more heart-healthy fat, as well as fiber, and protein, too.

No Added Sugar Banana Raisin Oatmeal Cups

Makes 16 servings.

3 cups oats, uncooked

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional

3 ripe medium bananas, mashed well

1/4 cup canola oil

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups 1% low-fat milk

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray. (I find this works better than lining the pan with paper liners because the muffins tend to stick to the paper.)

In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk the mashed bananas, oil, eggs, and vanilla extract until well combined.  Whisk in the milk.

Pour the banana mixture into the oats mixture. Add the raisins. Stir well to combine. The batter has a lot of liquid in it, so don’t worry if it looks soupy.

Fill the muffin cups nearly to the top with batter (a scant 1/4-cup full).

Bake for 16 to 18 minutes or until set.  Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack for 5 minutes, with the muffins still in the pan. Remove the muffins from the pan and allow them to cool on the wire rack. Place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.

Per serving (made without walnuts): Calories: 145, Carbohydrate: 21 grams, Fiber: 2 grams, Protein: 4 grams, Fat: 6 grams, Saturated fat: 1 gram, Cholesterol: 28 milligrams, Sodium: 157 milligrams, Calcium: 80 milligrams.

No Added Sugar Banana Raisin Oatmeal Cups

With or without walnuts, No Added Sugar Banana Raisin Oatmeal Cups are better for you than store-bought muffins.

Per serving (made with walnuts): Calories: 169, Carbohydrate: 22 grams, Fiber: 3 grams, Protein: 5 grams, Fat: 8 grams, Saturated fat: 1 gram, Cholesterol: 28 milligrams, Sodium: 157 milligrams, Calcium: 90 milligrams.

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