3-Ingredient Broccoli Cheese Calzone

Warning: These are possibly the worst food photos of one of the most delicious meals I make on a regular basis without a recipe. Here’s why I’m posting them, and the recipe.

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Last week, I was making one of my go-to, get-it-done, dinners (which also happens to be delicious) and I decided to document the process.  There was no natural light in the kitchen, and I was too tired to style the food. The result: instructional photos, not food porn.

If you like pretty pictures of food, you may want to look away now. If you’d like to get dinner on the table using just three ingredients (OK, four, if you count the olive oil), and you can tolerate some reality, keep reading.

Let’s get started.

You need 3 teaspoons olive oil, divided; 10 cups of chopped 1-inch broccoli florets; 1 pound of prepared white or whole wheat pizza dough; and 16 ounces of block cheddar cheese. That’s it.

Heat oven to 400˚F. Lightly grease a large baking sheet with 1 teaspoon olive oil.

Steam the broccoli.  While the broccoli is cooking, slice cheddar cheese into ¼-inch slices. (You can substitute packaged shredded cheese.)

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pizza dough into a rectangle of about 10” long by 16” wide.   Place half the cheese on the pizza dough lengthwise 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 calzone from getting soggy.

 

When broccoli is fork-tender, rinse with cool water. Drain well and blot with a clean towel to remove excess moisture. Arrange broccoli evenly over the cheese.

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Cover the broccoli with the remaining cheese.

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Fold dough in half over the broccoli and cheese filling. Seal edges with tines of a fork. Using your hands, gently scoop up the calzone and transfer it to the baking sheet. Brush with remaining olive oil.

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Cook for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

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Allow the calzone to rest for at least five minutes before cutting. Makes at least 8 servings. Serve with fruit and milk for a balanced meal.

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If there’s any leftover, warm for about 7 minutes in a 300˚F oven, or for about 30 seconds in the microwave. The oven is better, but I’m usually in too much of a hurry to wait!

Here’s the nutrition information using regular pizza dough. Whole wheat pizza dough will increase the fiber. Use reduced-fat cheddar cheese, such as Cabot Sharp Light Cheddar (no, they are not a client), to reduce calories and fat.  (Serves 8)

Per serving:

399 calories

22 grams fat

825 milligrams sodium

32 grams carbohydrate

5 grams fiber

22 grams protein

460 milligrams calcium

5 Nutrition Rules Debunked

Many nutrition rules that we take for granted are more hype than help. It may come as a relief that you can ignore some nutrition advice and still eat healthy!

Advice: Put only the most colorful fruits and vegetables on your plate.

Bottom line: This rule shortchanges white, brown, and tan produce, such as mushrooms, cauliflower, and bananas, which are just as nutrition-worthy as their brighter counterparts. Most of us fall far short of suggested fruit and vegetable servings, so concentrate on including the types you like, no matter how pale. And while we’re at it, let’s stop shaming starchy vegetables, such as potatoes and peas, as nutrition expert Janet Helm so aptly puts it.

Advice: You should eat breakfast every day to control your weight.

Bottom line: The research doesn’t support the claim that eating a balanced breakfast is necessary for weight control, but if it works for you, stay with it. Skipping breakfast probably won’t cause weight gain or prevent weight loss if you stick to your calorie budget throughout the day, but there’s more to breakfast than the number on the scale, including fuel and nutrients for body and brain.

Don’t like to eat when you get up? Divide a balanced breakfast of fruit, yogurt, and a whole grain roll into two morning snacks that you finish before lunch. If you’re not into “traditional” breakfast foods, munch on a slice of leftover thin-crust cheese pizza and fruit, or half a turkey and cheese sandwich and carrot sticks.

Advice: Shop only the perimeter of the grocery store.

Bottom line: Yes, the outer parts of the store have lots of nutritious foods, including the fish counter, produce section, and the dairy case, but the bakery is also located there. The aisles house healthy options including whole grain cereal and pasta, as well as canned seafood and beans, and jars of fruit packed in their own juice. Plan meals and snacks, and head to the grocery store with a list to make it easier to peruse the aisles for nutritious choices. Don’t shop when you’re hungry, or that bakery along the perimeter may be too tempting to walk past.

Advice: You must drink 64 ounces of plain water every day.

Bottom line: Probably not! Water is an essential nutrient, but most of us don’t need to down a half gallon of the stuff every day.  Men, and women who are not pregnant or nursing require between nine and 13 cups of fluid daily, about 72 to 104 ounces, respectively. (Physically active people may need more.) Plain water is preferable for meeting fluid needs, but the water in other drinks, such as milk, coffee and tea (even the caffeinated kinds) contributes fluid, so it’s easier than you think to meet your quota.

Advice: Eating at night leads to weight gain.

Bottom line: Only if you overdo it, which is often the case. If you’re extremely hungry (from under-eating during the day; see section on breakfast, above), stressed, or bored, and you reach for high-calorie foods such as cookies, chips, or candy, you may find it difficult to limit your calorie intake. It’s OK to eat at night as long as you’re mindful of your daily calorie needs. If you struggle to control calories after the sun goes down, read this by Yoni Freedhoff, M.D.

Pumpkin Spice Smoothie

I’m one of those pumpkin fanatics that stocks up on the canned kind when it appears on supermarket shelves.  I use pumpkin year-round in a variety of ways, like in this waffle recipe from The Meal Makeover Moms.  I love the taste of pumpkin, but I also love the nutrition it offers. This Pumpkin Spice Smoothie is a better-for-you option that’s delicious and nutritious.

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I know, I know. Whipped cream? Yup. The whipped topping doesn’t detract from the half-cup serving of vegetables, and the 8 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber you’re sipping. Plus, the entire smoothie has fewer than 200 calories! Enjoy!

Pumpkin Spice Smoothie

Makes 1 serving

¾ cup 1% low-fat milk

½ cup plain canned pumpkin

3 teaspoons brown sugar (or less, or other sweetener or your choice)

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

pinch each: ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg

2 ice cubes

4 tablespoons instant whipped cream (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Pour into 12-ounce glass and drink immediately. Garnish with crushed nutmeg, if desired.

Per serving (with whipped cream):

183 calories

4 grams fat

89 milligrams sodium

28 grams carbohydrate

4 grams fiber

8 grams protein

260 milligrams calcium

5 Stress-Free Family Meals

September is 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.

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 as often as you can, and don’t worry about dining out or ordering in every so often, but do 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. Pair with fruit.
  • 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. Or omelet made with cheese and leftover vegetables, fruit, milk, whole grain toast or roll.
  • Pizza prepared with whole grain tortillas or whole wheat Naan bread and store-bought shredded cheddar cheese; green salad; fruit.

 

 

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