Category Archives: Healthy

Oven-Roasted Summer Squash

P1050922The next few posts, I want to share my favorite ways to enjoy summer squash. (whether that be yellow or zucchini!)

I always look forward to that first wonderful taste of freshly picked summer squash each summer, because I do love this vegetable! It’s so versatile and there are many ways to enjoy eating it. You probably already assume that since it is a vegetable, that it is good for you. And this is true! But, do you know HOW good for you summer squash really is? According to whfoods.org, Summer Squash is high in copper, manganese, vitamin C, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, potassium, folate, Vitamin B6, Vitamin K just to name a few!

So, what are some of my favorite ways to prepare and eat this great veggie? Comin’ right up!

Today’s version is roasted in the oven. It really could not be any simpler than this. When you bake the squash, the flavors become more concentrated and I feel like the taste is a little more bold.

You only need about 5 minutes to put this together, and only about 20 minutes to let it bake. I love to serve squash with steak, chicken, or burgers!

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Baked Pearl Barley

P1040953If you are wanting to eat healthier- you might want to try out pearl barley.

What is it? Well…

Pearl barley (or “pearled barley”) is barley processed to remove its hull and bran. Barley must have its fibrous outer hull removed before it can be eaten; pearl barley is taken a step further, polished to remove the bran layer.

Pearl barley is the most common form of barley for human consumption, probably because it cooks faster and is less chewy than other, less-processed forms of barley. (source: wikipedia).

…..Because pearl barley undergoes more processing, some insoluble fiber, trace minerals and micronutrients may be lost. Pearl barley is not considered whole grain. However it’s important to note that pearl barley (even heavily pearled barley) retains significant amounts of fiber, particularly heart-healthy soluble fiber. This is because, unlike some other grains, barley contains fiber throughout the entire kernel and not just in the outer bran layer. (source: barleyfoods.org)

Read about the many health benefits of barley, here.

Not only is barley a great way to add fiber, vitamins and antioxidants- it tastes good, too! The texture is comparable to brown rice- just a little plumper and maybe a tiny bit chewier. This makes it easy to substitute in the place of rice in some of your dishes.

My kids loved it and said they actually liked it better than rice. If you wonder where to find it in the grocery store, I found it with the dry beans.

Here is a simple, easy way you can prepare Pearl Barley to serve with your other dishes. The ingredients are almost the same as my Baked Brown Rice recipe, and the method is exactly the same. Only the measurements are different.

You could also branch off into many different versions of this basic recipe. Use chicken broth instead of water or add different spices in addition to the salt and pepper. Lots of options!

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Beans for Dinner (slow cooker-nothing canned)

P1040954Are beans a common dish at your table?

It used to be that when I thought of beans, I would think of old westerns, tin plates, and the solitary food that cowboys ate on the range. Who still eats beans? Isn’t that even the old joke- “Money’s getting so tight, we’ll be down to eating beans for dinner” ?

Well, I think beans are underrated. They may not be a trendy food, but they are SO nutritious. Beans are filled with iron, protein, vitamins and fiber. They are low in cholesterol (in fact they help lower cholesterol!), very low in fat, and very heart -healthy! (Check out the nutrition of Pinto beans, and black eyed peas for starters. Both are found in this recipe)

And let’s not forget, beans are also cheap!

Maybe good’ ol beans deserve another look!

This recipe, prepared in the slow cooker, begins with dry beans- nothing canned. This allows you to control the sodium and start with no preservatives. Added to the beans are onion, garlic, and peppers- which are also fresh and healthy choices. (Have you ever researched all the benefits of garlic? It’s truly an amazing food.)

These beans could be your main dish or side. I like to serve them along with brown rice or cornbread. Having beans for dinner is also a great option if you are looking for something  meatless since beans tend to be very hearty and filling.

Feel free, too, to play around with your combination of beans. There are so many varieties.

I’ve included my favorite combo in this recipe.

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Honey Nut Granola (no added sugar)

P1040839Granola is such a wonderfully versatile food. You can use it in so many ways- like on top of yogurt for a little crunch, as a cereal topped with fruit (which is my favorite!), or as a snack by the handful!

This particular recipe uses only whole ingredients, and no refined sugars. Though I do use sugar in many recipes, I like to reduce or eliminate it when possible. I knew that I did not want it added to my granola since I was really looking for a very healthy granola option. So honey is P1040901the only sweetener used. \

Here are a few reasons I like to make my own granola:

1. It is so easy to pack in a lot of nutrition in a very tasty way. Ingredients like, whole oats, pecans, flax, wheat bran are all used in this particular recipe- making each bite very heart healthy, high in monounsaturated fats (that’s the good kind!) and filled with fiber.

2. I know exactly what is in it! I have been less than impressed with the laundry list of ingredients found in most cereals and ready-made granola found in the stores. (that are “supposedly” healthy. The controversial BHT preservative is a common ingredient in these). Homemade Granola uses only a few whole ingredients.

3. It is easy and quick to make.

4. You can mix and match. Swap almonds for pecans. Use maple syrup instead of honey. Add cranberries or raisins. In other words- it’s so simple to make it how you like it!

5. As an added bonus- it makes my house smell divine!

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