A Healthier Risotto: Quinoa Faux-otto

Let’s face it. No matter how much I love to cook, some nights I’m just not feeling it. I’m tired, it’s getting late, I spent too much time watching reruns of Friends after work (whatever, not ashamed), I don’t want to go all the way to the grocery store in the dark, etc. You know the drill. On one such night, I was determined to make a delicious, inventive, and at least somewhat healthy dinner exclusively with things I already had in my fridge and pantry. Thus my quinoa faux-otto (faux risotto) was born.

This stuff is awesome because it’s rich, cheesy, and savory, just like regular risotto, but crammed with way more nutritional benefits than the traditional stuff. (Thanks, quinoa, I love you!) It also takes about half the time; no stirring required. Not that stirring is some great physical struggle—people complaining about stirring risotto is actually one of my culinary pet peeves—but this is great when you’re in a hurry or just feeling supremely lazy. My recipe reflects the produce and cheese I had on hand, but don’t be afraid to experiment with your leftovers. For example, I bet this would be delicious with some swiss, butternut squash, and bacon. Hmmm…

Quinoa Faux-otto with Brussels Sprouts, Spinach, & Parmesan

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Bring It On, Fall: Healthy Lobster Mac and Cheese

You know how I was complaining about the end of summer here?

I’m over it.  A couple more hot days and I was done.  Bring it on, fall. Bring on the crunchy leaves and cable knit sweaters.  Oh, who am I kidding?  Bring on the comfort food!

I’m probably going to upset some ES-ers with a healthified recipe, but I’m okay with it.  Because my jeans fit when I eat stuff like this.  And yours can too!

Now, this was my first attempt at lobster, and I was sort of intimidated, but it turned out pretty simple and doable (yay!)  I just used tails.  I’m not sure I could handle an entire lobster.  These tails were frozen because fresh lobster is not available around these parts.  Use fresh lobster if you have access to it, of course.

Healthy Lobster Mac & Cheese

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Dandelions and Butterfly Kisses (aka Flowers and Grass)

I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I could be considered a ‘Health Nut.’ I was thinking about tweaking my daily diet, but after reviewing my normal eating habits I believe that I am one fit MoFo. For instance, my morning vodka smoothies are always packed full of vibrant, fresh, locally grown fruit. And whenever I eat out at a restaurant I always order a side dish of steamed vegetables. This provides me with extra fiber, vitamins and minerals, and a moist place to extinguish my cigarettes. And after the work day is done, I feel that I am the Jack LaLanne of Happy Hour. No greasy hot wings or fat-laden dips for me. I stay with the simple heart-healthy olive. Two are conveniently provided in each low-calorie martini, and I’ve been told that there are times during the course of the evening that I’ll have consumed over twelve of these little Mediterranean medicine balls. (I don’t really recall this, but then I’ve never been good with numbers).

So after my ‘Health Nut’ self-realization, I decided to seek out and experience the next level of the healthy food lifestyle which I affectionately refer to as the ‘All Natural-Organic Health Fanatic.’ We all know someone in this category. It’s the person who does squats while talking on the phone, doesn’t eat ‘red’ meat and always asks the waiter if the tuna salad is ‘dolphin safe.’ I asked to be introduced to this lifestyle by my friend Robin who would rather fast for thirty days than eat anything that wasn’t organically grown. Plus, she’s got a great rack…er, a great rack of Self-Help books that I occasionally borrow. Robin happily agreed to escort me through her typical day of ‘health driven’ meals (her term, not mine).

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This Week at the Farmers Market: Summer Squash Pizza

If you’ve ever tried growing your own summer squash then you understand how quickly they can multiply and become overwhelming. Even inventive cooks can grow weary of its abundance before the dog days of August, and they are now all over the farmers markets. But with mild flesh and edible skin, yellow squash is easy to use in a variety of ways: cooked or raw, grilled, steamed, sauteed or baked. When picking out your squash at the market avoid spongy, flabby or overgrown ones and choose ones with taut skin, about 8 inches long or less.

This is a perfect way to enjoy veggie “pizza” without a ton of calories. You can make this light, tasty meal in the toaster oven on hot days when you don’t want the added heat in the kitchen. You can also eat it cool, rolled up as a wrap.

Summer Squash Pesto Pizza Roll-Ups

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Really Good But Even Better Low-Fat Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I love cookies. L.O.V.E.  Since I like to eat them frequently (as in multiple times a day), I’m always attempting to make healthier versions of old favorites like chocolate chip or oatmeal. So I was stoked when I saw this Sun Maid recipe for Really Good Low-Fat Raisin Oatmeal Cookies in honor of Heart Health Month (which was February, but shouldn’t we always promote heart health?) I tried them — and they are really good. But since I can’t leave well enough alone, I made a few little tweaks to the recipe and now I think they’re even better.

So here you have it: Really Good but Even Better Low-Fat Raisin Oatmeal Cookies. And even with my tweaks they still come out to about 60 calories per cookie, so I don’t feel too guilty about the fact that I ate like 5 of them out of the oven and about 5 cookies worth of dough as I was making them.

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Alert Isaac Newton: Gravity-Defying Apple Found in Cleveland

I’m a 1950s housewife these days. I’m writing (unemployed-ish) and therefore find my schedule fairly flexible. Bennett signed up for a work training in Cleveland, but since he would finish by 4pm and we have our friend Heather living there now, I decided to jump along for the Midwestern vacation. I know that’s what my grandmother (housewife) would do when my grandfather traveled for work.

On vacation I rarely think about choosing healthy foods. Fuck it, right? I’m on vacation. But my aunt said something during last Thanksgiving that (unfortunately?) stuck with me. It’s easy to think of a special reason to turn to treats—birthdays, anniversaries, vacations, holidays, break-ups, fights, good days, bad days—so soon every day there can be an explanation to eat dessert or go for that second helping.

So for my second lunch in Cleveland, where the first screamed indulgence, I chose a light dish at Lucky’s Cafe. Something I could be proud of: yogurt with berries and house-made granola. Heather oozed with excitement after I placed the order and my worries of a boring meal on vacation soon diminished. (Heather, by the way, keeps an eating-in-Cleveland blog.)

We sat outside on a wooden picnic table, under an umbrella and next to the restaurant’s large garden.

Then the yogurt came and holy shit.

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