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5 Substitutes for Pasta | Healthy Recipes

5 Substitutes for PastaThe primary crux of my practice as a nutritionist is transitioning people away from processed foods. Like most people, I grew up on a staple of casseroles, spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, and the like. Pasta is by far one of the more processed foods, predominantly made from the starch of a grain. Even when you buy‘whole wheat’ pasta, it wouldn’t hold together without a significant ratio of that fine, white starch.

Nobody wants to give up flavor … and old habits are hard to break, but here are five delicious alternatives that will not only increase the nutritional value of your meal, but help make eating gluten-free cheaper!

Cauliflower

One of my favorite recipes using cauliflower as a substitute for pasta is my Smoked Mac-n-Cheese. Using chopped cauliflower (steamed and well drained) and about half as much white rice for ‘mouth feel’, I create a base for an American favorite that even the kid’s love. I happen to love smoked cheeses, but you can get creative here (– just try to refrain from the Velveeta please!). Mix up a batch of cheese sauce and pour it over your cauliflower mixture. Place it all in a casserole dish and garnish. (I use green onions and bacon for my garnish) Heat at 350 until it bubbles. Don’t worry, there won’t be any leftovers.

Mung Bean Sprouts

In my house, soup is a huge staple and we occasionally fall back on some old standards like “Chicken and Noodle” and the likes. In this case, I use mung bean sprouts as a replacement for the egg noodles. It never fails and I am always so thrilled with how amazingly the sprouts complement my soup. This one is just way too easy.

Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is like the string cheese of squash. When it is cooked, you can pull it out of its shell in strands that look a little like orange angel-hair pasta. The biggest difference between squash and pasta – aside from the nutritional value – is how light and fresh it feels in your dish. You can even crisp it back up if you place the strands in a bowl of cold water directly after removing the strands from the skin.

You can use spaghetti squash as a bed for just about anything: stir-fry, pasta sauce, 101 Asian dishes… you get the picture.

Zucchini

My first exposure to using zucchini as a replacement for noodles was in zucchini lasagna. Here, you take your zucchinis and slice them thin length-wise. You have to dry them out by laying them on a towel (or paper towel) and sprinkle with salt to draw the water out. Then just use them exactly the way you would use the lasagna noodles. This too adds a beautiful flavor to a traditional dish that won’t disappoint. It will also leave you feeling much less heavy than the traditional version.

You can also prepare zucchini in long thin strips for a different texture in salads and main dishes.

Brown Rice

I should really say “whole grain rice” here because there are about 90 varieties of rice and not all of them are ‘brown’. I strongly encourage you to explore the wonderful world of rice, but don’t get too dependent. Diversity and moderation is key.

Rice makes great casseroles and works well as a bed upon which to layer your favorite sauces, vegetables, and meats. You also can mix it up a little by mixing some of the other alternatives into your rice … kind of like a ‘dirty’ rice. This helps keep the portion of rice down just a bit.

Rolled Oats (Bonus!)

Rolled oats are still a whole grain in most cases. You can get oats rolled like what you are used to in the traditional Quaker box; quick oats – which are just really fine flakes of rolled oats; and, thick rolled oats. Just like pasta, the density of the oat affects the texture of the dish.

I use rolled oats as a substitute in my ‘Tuna-noodle Casserole”. You’ll be amazed at how tasty this is for sure. Growing up, we made this with Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup. I don’t use that anymore either.

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Winter Coleslaw with Honey Mustard Dressing | Healthy Salad Recipes

Coleslaw can be so much more than cabbage and mayonnaise. I like to make slaw as a fresh salad using the vegetables I have sitting around.This healthy salad recipe utilizes some of the banana squash (a really big squash to contend with) and some jicama. You can follow the recipe or exercise your own artistic license.

  • 3 cups shredded winter squash
  • Winter Coleslaw with Honey Mustard Dressing3 cups green cabbage, ribbon cut in very thin strips
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped onion
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh celery (with leaves as available), finely chopped
  • ¼ jicama, peeled and shredded
  • ½ cup Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
  • Salt to taste

Prepare as noted and mix all of the veggies in a large bowl. Pour vinaigrette over the vegetables and stir until evenly coated. This can be eaten immediately or stored for a day’ish.

Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

  • 1 tbsp prepared yellow mustard
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp vinegar (I chose a tasty marouva vinegar for this one)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • dash red pepper

Place all ingredients in a glass jar (with a lid). Seal tightly and shake until well mixed and creamy. This can be stored in the refrigerator for a week.

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Sweet Cucumber Salad Recipe | Raw Veggie Recipes

Sweet Cucumber SaladThe list of ingredients for this delicate Sweet Cucumber Salad is short. You get the benefits of eating raw veggies with all the nutrition and exciting flavor. Remember that raw veggie recipes DO NOT have to be boring!

  • 1 fresh cucumber (Mine is an English cucumber washed and cut in half)
  • ¼ cup onion (I used white, but a red sweet onion would be lovely)
  • ½ jicama, peeled
  • 3 TBSP sweet vinegar (I used a pear infused white balsamic)
  • Salt to taste

Potato ShredderThe trick to this salad is texture. I start by shredding the jicama on the potato shredder. I processed a slice of raw onion in the food processor to get a fine chopped effect. Then I used this cool peeler to create long strings of cucumber. I left the peel of the cucumber in the mix for nutrients and visual appeal. I rotate the peeler around the cucumber to keep it relatively round. You want to stop peeling when you hit the seed portion. The core of the cucumber makes a great ‘while cooking’ snack!

Put all the vegetables in a bowl to integrate. Add salt and vinegar. This is one you can serve immediately or chill slightly. Don’t leave it sit for too long or it will release all of its water.

Check out all of our healthy recipes….

No Excuses Not To Eat Right or Exercise | From Drab to Fab Healthy Recipes

Looking for healthy recipes to start the year off right? this AMAZING healthy recipe for a fab topper will leave your mouth watering!

The following are the top 10 reasons why people don’t exercise, but you could just as easily apply the very same excuses to just about any form of change such as diet.

1. Fear
2. No Time
3. Negative Image of …(Exercise)
4. Slow Results
5. Expense
6. Lonely
7. No Motivation
8. Too Many Other Things to Do
9. Too…. Hot, cold, rainy, sunny, hazy
10. I Hate to …(Exercise)

Healthy Recipes - Fab Pumpkin Seed TopperWhen it comes to a better diet, #2 “Time” and #5 “Expense” definitely comes into play. Sure, some of those savory old fashioned recipes only taste right when somebody spends the entire day preparing them, but that shouldn’t stop you from treating yourself like a King or Queen within what might feel like limiting constraints. You can change recipes from drab to fab with just a few ingredients to make a great tasting topping.

Here, I used some pumpkin seeds, herbs, salt, and the heal of a loaf of bread to turn my quick bowl of soup into a real treat. You can use the same technique to dress up casseroles, veggie side-dishes, and the like.

Fab Pumpkin Seed Topping – Healthy Recipes

  • 1 tsp butter
  • ¼ tsp crushed garlic
  • ¼ cup raw pumpkin seeds (or sunflower)
  • some breadcrumbs – fresh (this recipe was created from a very small heal piece)
  • 1 ½ Tbsp fresh parsley chopped fine
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 +/- Spice Blend (I used Rogan Josh by Savory Spice Shop)*

Melt butter in a small sauce pan. Add garlic and seeds. Cook on medium heat until seeds start to brown. Add breadcrumbs and spices. Stir until evenly coated. Serve immediately over soup or whatever you are dressing up.

*Don’t freak out about my spice choices. Use what you have and like. Just know that you need to spice this accent a little heavier to carry through the dish.

Vegetable Recipes – Acorn Squash with Apple Stuffing

We are big on vegetable recipes over here and since squash is in abundance this time of the year, we are coming up with all kinds of wonderful ways to enjoy them. This recipe is quick, simple, and positively delicious. This recipe made 4 stuffed acorn halves.

Recipe: Acorn Squash with Apple Stuffing

  • 1 lg apple cored and diced
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • 3 slices thick cut bacon
  • 2 acorn squash
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp smoked salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper

Prepare acorn squash by slicing in half and removing the seeds. Place in an oven set at 350, flesh side up, with a small pat of butter in each of the acorn bowls. Cook these until they are tender…about 40-55 minutes.

During the last 15 minutes of the baking acorns, start the stuffing mixture by cooking bacon over medium heat. Remove the bacon and add the apple, celery, pine nuts, and onion to the pan. (3 slices of bacon should not produce too much grease, but feel free to pour some of it off if needed. You can also add a little olive oil if there is too little.) Give them a quick stir-fry to soften. Chop and add bacon to the mixture along with seasonings. Heap stuffing into the baked acorn halves and serve immediately.

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Roasted Vegetables in Garlic Butter Sauce | Vegetable Recipes

Roasted Vegetables in Garlic Butter SauceOven roasted vegetables are always a hit at my house, but the magic is not necessarily in the veggies it is in the great vegetable recipes!

When I do a roasted veggie dish, it is really just a matter of what I have available. This time it was a combination of starches and cherry tomatoes from the garden. The special part about this version comes in the butter sauce that actually makes an amazingly tasty gravy that keeps the vegetable medley moist. The tomatoes were also key as they added a delicious tang. My veggie list is included below, but like I said, use what you have.

You can eat these as a side dish, or served in a bowl under a filet of lemon pepper roasted fish. I lamented on the flavor in this dinner for hours.

1 ½ – 2 lbs of raw potatoes (I don’t peel mine)
1 lb fresh carrots
1 large leek sliced
1 lb cherry tomatoes
1 ½ lbs cubed butternut squash
2 cups chicken broth

Mix the veggies into a large cake pan that has been lightly coated with olive oil spray. Pour Butter Sauce over the top and add chicken broth. Bake at 350 until potatoes and carrots are tender – about an hour.

Garlic Butter Sauce

1 stick of butter
2 TBSP minced garlic
1 ½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp red pepper

This sauce is going to be a little strong as it is the seasoning for all those veggies.

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Butternut Manicotti Recipe

This Butternut Manicotti Recipe is a new creation born out of my own ‘butternut inspirations’. There is always room for your own creativity, so don’t be afraid to make it your own! This recipe is lighter on the cheese than the traditional variety

1 box manicotti noodles
Butternut Manicotti Recipe1 lb bulk hot Italian sausage
½ large butternut squash shredded
1 small container of ricotta cheese
1 small package of dry cheese curds
1 small onion
1 jar of spaghetti sauce
1 tsp Sea Salt
¼ tsp Red Pepper
1 tsp oregano
1 clove minced garlic

Brown sausage in medium saucepan, drain and set aside to cool. I like to run the meat through the food processor a little to create a finer consistency. Mix cheeses with diced onion and oregano in a large bowl. Add sausage, shredded butternut, and remaining seasonings. Mix until all ingredients are evenly distributed.

Prepare manicotti noodles as directed on the box. Allow to cool so that they are easier to handle. In a large cake pan, smear the bottom of the pan with a little spaghetti sauce to keep manicotti from sticking. Gently stuff manicotti noodles with stuffing mixture. Make them as full as you can without splitting the noodles! Line the stuffed manicotti in the cake pan. Pour remaining spaghetti sauce over the manicotti. Place in a pre-heated oven at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. Enjoy!

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Healthy Soup Recipes – Chunky Curried Sweet Potato Soup

There are such things as healthy soup recipes year round! Soup can be an attractive menu item even in the heat of summer. Don’t forget about good nutrition either! We can’t be barbequing all the time. So think about a soup for lunch or dinner. This soup is fresh and light: perfect for summer fare. This hearty little soup was quick and flavorful. Then it just happened to start raining as I served it up. Give it a try!

Chunky Curried Sweet Potato Soup

Healthy Soup Recipes - Chunky Curried Sweet Potato Soup2 small sweet potatoes
¼ small onion, diced
½ lb pork, diced
4 cups chicken stock
½ teaspoon sweet yellow curry
¼ teaspoon turmeric
1 clove crushed garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and Red pepper to taste

Pour chicken stock in 1-qt saucepan. Peel and slice one of the sweet potatoes, and place in stock. Bring to a light boil until are soft (poke easily with a fork). Remove from heat and process the potatoes with enough liquid in a blender to make creamy. Shred remaining potato and place into saucepan. Return to low heat and allow to simmer until potato shreds are desired tenderness (about 5-7 minutes).

Dice pork into ½ inch cubes. Place into hot skillet with olive oil and allow pork to seer. With pork still a little pink in the middle, add onions and garlic to the skillet. Cook until pork is no longer pink. Add contents of the skillet and remaining seasonings to the potato soup mixture. Yum!
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Can’t “Beet” this Rhubarb Crisp

This beet stem and healthy rhubarb crisp recipe is a great way to use all parts of a plant!

I hate wasting food. Couple that with my innate belief that every part of the plant (in many cases) is just as much a food as the ‘pretty’ part, and you have a girl with a healthy creative streak.

Our spring beet experiment in the green house is drawing to a close as we harvest them. I have been working on creating some new recipes for all parts of the beets. Winter Solstice salad out of the Rawsome cookbook is a fantastic introduction to a raw beet salad. Beet greens are wonderful in soups, salads, or steamed like spinach – which is not new to me, but it is new to everyone else in my house. My conundrum has been around what to do with the beet stems. I tried fermenting them and was less then thrilled with the end product. Then it hit me: Rhubarb!! I also had a bunch of rhubarb sitting in the refrigerator waiting for my creative attention.

I served this dessert to my family and guests at our July 4th dinner. Although I ran to get the camera, it was gone before I got back. Safe to say, this was a huge hit. (Another side note: the beet stems brought a fantastic crimson red into the dish)

Can’t "Beet" this Rhubarb CrispCan’t “Beet” this Rhubarb Crisp

6 cups sliced rhubarb
2-3 cups sliced beet stems
1 cup sliced strawberries
2/3 cup of sugar (give or take based on your tastes, this was on the sweeter side)
½ cup water
½ teaspoon almond extract

Topping:
¼ cup butter
¼ cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons brown sugar
½ cup chopped almonds
¼ teaspoon sea salt
pinch powdered cardamom
1 tablespoon flour (I used Pamela’s gluten-free blend. This is optional, but helps firm up some of the fruit juices.)

In a small saucepan, melt butter on medium heat. Add remaining topping ingredients and stir until well mixed. Set aside.

In a larger saucepan, add rhubarb, stems, berries, sugar and water. Bring to a low boil until rhubarb is soft but not necessarily mushy (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and add extract. Place fruit mixture in a 9×9 cake pan and sprinkle topping on top of fruit. Place the pan in the oven on a low broil to brown and crisp up the topping (maybe 15 minutes, but keep an eye on it). Served warm is wonderful, but it is also quite tasty cold. Ice cream is optional. This is a great recipe for using plant parts that are usually discarded.

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Healthy Salad Recipes – Cucumber Salad with Curried Pumpkin Seeds

I have been playing with some new healthy salad recipes from one of my favorite cookbooks: Rawsome by Brigette Mars. The first recipe in the salads section is the Asian Cucumber Salad. I added my own flair with roasted pumpkin seeds and my own curry rub. You have to get the original version by buying the book, but here is mine. Enjoy!!

Amazing Cucumber Salad

Great Easy Recipe-Cucumber Salad with Curried Pumpkin Seeds1 English cucumber, sliced thinly
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
¼ – ½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon butter
Jaye’s curry rub (see below)

Place butter in a medium-hot skillet to melt. Pour pumpkin seeds in the skillet and shake to distribute evenly. Toss frequently as seeds begin to brown but be careful not to burn. Take off the heat and coat generously with curry rub.

Combine cucumber and cilantro in a bowl. Pour olive oil and limejuice in a jar with a lid. Shake to mix thoroughly and pour over cucumber mixture. Add warm seeds as topping and serve immediately (keeps the pumpkin seeds crisp!) You could double this recipe and still not have any leftovers.

Jaye’s Curry Rub
Sea Salt
Garam Masala
Sweet Yellow Curry
Cheyenne Pepper
Turmeric
Ground Ginger

Okay, I just do this by taste so its hard to say exactly. That means that you have to work it out to your tastebuds!! Start with 2 tablespoons of sea salt. Garam Masala has a very unique flavor, but I use it in very small amounts. ½ – ¾ teaspoon of Yellow Curry and Turmeric. Maybe another ½ teaspoon of ground ginger and red pepper to your liking.

Rubs are supposed to be robust in flavor and you use them generously! This is a great easy recipe so I hope you try it.
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