Monday, September 12, 2011

Mexican Penne

I try to cook something with beans in it at least once or twice per week.  Beans are a nutrition powerhouse.  Cup for cup, beans provide about twice as much fiber as most veggies, and you can count them as either a protein or vegetable in your meals. They contain cancer fighting agents and their fiber helps to stabilize blood sugar, lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes.  I also choose to substitute soy burger crumbles for ground beef.  These burger style crumbles contain no saturated fat or cholesterol which makes for a heart healthy choice.  Or, if you prefer you can omit the burger all together...this meal is nutritionally complete with or without it.  


1/2 pound whole wheat penne (1/2 box)
1 pound of soy burger crumbles
1 TBSP olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
2 jars salsa (about 30 oz. total) (choose a low sodium, natural version if available)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (choose a low sodium, organic version if available)
2 cups shredded Mexican Blend Cheese (Use just a sprinkling of cheese or try a shredded vegan cheese alternative)

Preheat oven to 350.  Boil pasta according to package instructions.

Meanwhile, saute garlic, onions, and peppers in the olive oil over medium~high heat in a large non~stick skillet.  Add soy burger crumbles to pan.  Add spices.  Cook until browned.

Place skillet mixture in a large bowl. Add the beans, salsa and cooked pasta.  Stir to combine.

Spray a 9x13" baking dish with non~stick cooking spray.  Pour half the pasta mixture into the pan. Sprinkle lightly with cheese.  Cover with remaining pasta and top with re .

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until bubbly and the cheese is golden.
Top with chopped cilantro.  I served this with carrot sticks and cornbread.

Meal Plan - Week of September 11

Below is my meal plan for the week of September 11th
  • Corn and Chili Quesadillas served with black beans, rice, and carrot sticks
  • Spaghetti with Pecan Meatballs served with garlic toast and green beans
  • Ginger Veggie Stir-Fry served with Spring Rolls
  • Baked Mexican Penne served with cornbread
Grocery List for the above recipes:
  • Produce
    • 1 head of broccoli
    • 1 bunch celery
    • 1/2 cup snow peas
    • 1 small bag of shredded carrots
    • 2 cups green beans
    • 4 onions
    • 1 small bag of shredded cabbage/cole slaw vegetables
    • 1 small bag of baby carrot sticks
    • 1 red bell pepper
    • 1 green bell pepper
    • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
    • 1 bunch green onions
    • 2 ears of corn
    • 5 cloves of garlic
    • 2 tsp fresh ginger root
    • cilantro
    • mixed greens for salad
  • Grains
    • 1/2 box whole wheat penne noodles
    • 1/2 box whole wheat spaghetti noodles
    • Brown or jasmine rice
    • whole grain bread
    • flour tortillas (if possible, choose whole wheat)
  • Canned Goods
    • 2 cans of black beans (choose a low sodium brand, organic preferred)
    • 1 can diced green chili peppers
    • 1 jar tomato sauce (low sodium brand or make your own)
  • International Foods/Health Foods Section
    •  2 jars (30 ounces) of salsa (if possible, choose a salsa with limited additives)
    • 1 small jar of salsa verde (green salsa)
    • Bragg's Liquid Aminos or low sodium Soy Sauce
    • 1 package soy burger crumbles (I like the Yives brand because it is vegan).
    • 1 Tbsp. McKay's Vegetarian Chicken Seasoning (or make your own...recipe to be included in future post this week).
    • Spring roll wrappers or rice paper wrappers
  • Baking/Spices
    • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
    •  ~1/2 cup vegetable oil
    • ~2 Tbsp olive oil
    • 1 tsp cumin
    • 1 tsp chili powder
    • 1/2 tsp dried oregano (or fresh if you have it)
    • 1/2 tsp paprika
    • 4 cups whole wheat bread crumbs
    • Enough pecans to ground them up to make 1 cup (or 1 cup pecan meal - which can be found in the baking or health food aisle)
  • Cereal
    • 1 cup quick cooking oats
  • Dairy
    • 2 packages of shredded Colby Jack cheese (or 2 packages of shredded cheddar Vegan style cheese).

Stay tuned this week for the recipes!

Pasta with Pecan "Meatballs"

This is a healthy rendition of the traditional spaghetti with meatballs.  Pecans are a huge health booster.  These tasty nuts contain some of the highest antioxidant capacity of all foods.  Antioxidants are dietary substances that have been shown to delay aging and decrease the risk of cancer, heart disease, and neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s.  Pecans also contain over 19 vitamins and minerals! What more do I need to say...make sure to get some pecans into your diet today...why not start by making these tasty and good-for-you pecan "meatballs" for dinner tonight!

Per 5 Meatball Serving    Cal    Fat    Sat Fat    Cholesterol    Sodium    Carbs    Fiber    Sugar   Protein
Traditional Meatballs       283    18g    7g           104mg        669mg       11g        1g        2g       17g
Pecan Meatballs               152     8g      0g           0mg         191mg       17g        4g        3g         5g

  • 4 cups whole grain bread crumbs (approximately 8 slices of bread if you make your own)
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1 cup pecan meal (or enough pecans to put in the blender and make 1 cup of ground up pecans)
  • 1 cup celery, cut into large pieces
  • 1 cup onion, cut into large pieces
  • 1/2 cup water 
  • 1 teaspoon Braggs Liquid Aminos or low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried or fresh oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly coat a large baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
If you did not purchase pecan meal, put pecans in blender and grind until finely chopped. 

Combine bread crumbs, oats, and ground pecans in a large bowl.  Set aside
Combine remaining ingredients in blender or food processor; blend until finely ground.

 Add mixture to dry ingredients.  Stir until thoroughly mixed.  Let mixture sit for 5 minutes to absorb moisture.  Gradually add more water if needed, allowing time for mix to absorb.

Form mixture into 1 inch balls, pressing firmly with hands to shape balls well; place on prepared baking sheet.

Bake until browned, about 30 minutes, turning meatballs over halfway through.  Place meatballs on top of prepared whole grain pasta and top with low sodium spaghetti sauce.  I served this with fresh, steamed green beans and whole grain garlic toast. 

Recipe taken from: Give Them Something Better cookbook by Sarah Frain & Stephanie Howard

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Eggplant Parmesan

To be honest with you, I have never had much luck cooking eggplant.  It usually comes out with a thick, tough texture.  But, this recipe looked so good that I decided to give it another try.  I am glad I did because my family really enjoyed it!  Even my 17 month old son liked it!

I served it with a spinach salad and toasted whole grain bread with Earth Balance Buttery Spread (a vegan butter spread which contains no trans fats) and garlic powder on it.

  •  3 eggs
  •  3 tablespoons water 
  • 1 1/2 cup Italian flavored breadcrumbs (I used the Italian panko breadcrumbs which turned out nice) 
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large eggplant, sliced into 1/2-inch slices 
  • Canola oil for frying 
  • Salt and pepper to taste (optional) 
  • 1 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese, divided 
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided
  • 3 cups pasta sauce 
    • Tip 1: Pick a low sodium sauce or make your own from scratch.  I use a delicious sauce from a local restaurant called Mamma DiSalvo's.  You can get it in the grocery stores in the Dayton area.  It is not only delicious but contains only 130 mg sodium per 1/2 cup serving!  This is great for a pre-made pasta it tastes fantastic.  If you can't find any low sodium sauces that suit your taste buds, try making your own sauce from scratch then freezing it in batches to have on hand at all times.
    •  Tip 2:  Use only a sprinkling of cheese to cut down on calories and fat.  Or, you can look for the vegan cheeses in the organic/health food section of your local grocery store.  These cheeses are made from plants and therefore contain no cholesterol, which your arteries will be thanking you for!  They melt well and taste pretty good, too!
Whisk together the eggs and water in a pie plate.  Combine the breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup Parmesan in another pie plate.  

Coat the bottom of a heavy skillet with canola oil and heat over medium high heat.  Dip the eggplant slices into the egg mixture, then dredge in the breadcrumb mixture.  Cook eggplant until golden brown, about four minutes, turning once.  Place on a paper towel lined plate to absorb excess oil; season with salt and pepper.  Add more oil between fryings as necessary.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray an 11 x 7-inch glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Use a non-aerosol spray for a healthier option.  You can purchase a pump oil spritzer and fill with your favorite oil.  

Place eggplant slices in a single layer on the bottom of baking dish, cutting to fit if necessary.  Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of the Parmesan and 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese.  Repeat layers twice, ending with cheese.  Spoon 3 cups tomato sauce over the top.

Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes.  Uncover and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan and mozzarella cheese.  Bake for ten more minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly, placing under the broiler if desired for golden brown color.  

Let stand for 20 minutes before cutting and serving over spaghetti noodles or other pasta.
 Recipe taken from

Mushroom and Black Bean Chili

This is a hearty and delicious soup with a spicy kick that really fills you up.  Plus, there are a variety of veggies hidden inside for god health! :)
I served this with cornbread, a mixed greens salad, and cantaloupe.  It made for a delicious dinner!

Mushroom and Black Bean Chili

  • 1 1/2  packages of baby portabella mushrooms, sliced (each package was 8 oz)
  •  2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed (look for a brand which offers the lowest amount of sodium. I typically choose the organic option)
  •  5 1/2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  •  2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 ears of sweet corn, with corn cut from the ears
  • 2 medium zucchinis, chopped
  •  8 ounces tomatillos, husked, rinsed and chopped
  • 1-2 fresh jalapenos depending on how much heat you want, seeded and finely chopped 
  • 1, 6-ounce can tomato paste
  •  1/4 cup water
  •  2 tbsp lime juice
  •  1/4 cup mustard seeds
  •  1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  •  2 tsp ground cumin
  •  2 tbsp chili powder (or less if you want a more mild spice)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  •  2 tbsp minced canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  •  1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream (or Tofutti brand vegan sour cream)

Combine oil, mustard seeds, chili powder, and cumin large stockpot. Place over high heat and stir until the spices sizzle, about 30 seconds. Add onions, garlic, mushrooms, corn, jalapenos, zucchini, tomatillos and water.

Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are juicy, 5 to 7 minutes. Uncover and stir often until the juices evaporate and the vegetables are lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Add broth, lime juice, tomato paste, and chipotles; mix well.  Lightly salt and pepper to taste (optional).  Add beans and bring mixture to a boil, then cover and simmer on low for ~20-30 minutes until the beans are creamy and soup begins to thicken.

I then chose to take half of the soup and put it in the blender to puree it and make the consistency a bit "creamier".  I left the other half alone to add texture. Do whatever suits your taste buds.

Garnish with sour cream, cilantro and diced tomatoes right before serving.

Entire recipe makes 10 servings
Serving size is 1 1/2 cups

PER SERVING: 236 calories; 5 g fat; 37 g carbohydrates; 17 g protein; 13 g fiber

Recipe adapted from

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The 8 Fundamentals Of A Healthy Lifestyle...Part 1

There are 8 main fundamentals of a healthy lifestyle.  Today we will be discussing part 1, Nutrition.  Nutrition's role is obviously a large part of the equation when thinking about overall health. 

Picture this scenario: You have a nice set of wheels which requires you to put premium gasoline in your car, but you decide to go the cheap route and fill the tank with regular ol' gasoline instead.  Sure, the car will continue to keep running and get you from point A to point B.  However, you will soon notice that the engine doesn't purr like it used to.  Over time, it begins to choke and sputter and before you know it you need to take it into the repair shop.  The same thing goes for what "fuel" you decide to fill your body with.  If you choose to fill your body with poor nutrition, you will begin to feel tired, sluggish, foggy-minded, and your body will not be able to perform optimally both inside and out.  If you choose to fill your body with good, healthy nutrition you will begin to notice that you feel refreshed and energetic.  This is because your body is able to perform optimally with the fuel you have given it.

God has given us a bounty of naturally occurring whole nutrition.  This is the fuel we should be filling our bodies with.  Studies have shown that an introduction of a whole plant foods diet can significantly lower the risk of many diseases such as heart disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, and more.  In fact, a change to this whole plant food based diet has actually been shown to reverse disease!  How amazing is this!?!  We literally have access to healing powers through the foods that God has given us in nature. 

To start, why not consider eating some berries this week.  Berries are a superfood rich in nutrients called phytochemicals which help to reduce cancer risk.  Try adding some fresh berries to your morning oatmeal or as an after dinner treat.  Can you believe something so delicious can be so good for you, too!?!

Stay tuned for the next fundamental for a healthy lifestyle...Exercise.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Welcome to whole living whole health

Today is my debut of the whole living whole health blog.  I am brand new at this blogging thing, but I am super excited to give it a try!  I am a Registered Dietitian who has always taken an interest in health.  I want to share my weekly meal plans, grocery list, and recipes with you so we can take the journey of whole and healthy living together.  I also would like to share some of my favorite health related links and hopefully have some guest posters who will be writing on different health related topics.