Category Archives: Meals

Recipe ReDux: Butternut Squash Cream Cheese Spread

This month’s Recipe ReDux theme is “Dressing for Success.” While the original idea (by my friend and fellow RD Danielle at Food Confidence) was salad dressings, the theme was expanded to include spreads and condiments.

I have posted a bunch of dip and spread recipes in the past so I needed to come up with something new.  A few years ago I made a delicious pumpkin cream cheese dip that I served with cinnamon pita chips – it was really delicious! I couldn’t find my recipe for it, but decided to recreate it for this month’s post. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to roast, scoop, and puree fresh pumpkin and canned pumpkin isn’t so easy to find right now. (A couple of years ago there was a shortage of canned pumpkin and apparently this year should be better, but I had no luck finding any yet. Maybe it’s just too early in the season.) I did however find canned butternut squash, so I used that in place of the pumpkin and the end result was still delicious.

Using canned squash or pumpkin with no added ingredients and low-fat cream cheese keeps this recipe low-calorie, low-fat, and rich in beta-carotene. Portions can be kept small because a little bit of this dip goes a long way.

cream cheese spread recipe

Butternut Squash Cream Cheese Spread
Serves 20; Serving Size: ~ 2 tablespoons

Ingredients: 

  • 1 15-ounce can butternut squash
  • 4 ounces low-fat cream cheese (half a bar)
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Ground cinnamon, to taste

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, combine the butternut squash and cream cheese. Blend until well combined. Add salt and cinnamon to taste and blend well.
  2. Chill and serve with pita chips, crackers, or vegetables.

butternut squash cream cheese spread recipe

Nutrition Facts (per 2 tbsp): 23 calories, 1 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 2 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 1 g protein, 4 mg cholesterol, 40 mg sodium

Check out these other great “Dressing for Success” recipes from my fellow ReDuxers!

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Corn and Black Bean Salsa

Labor Day may have passed (I know, it feels like it was a long time ago!), but it’s still warm and summery here in New York. Luckily that also means that summer produce is still around. A few weeks ago I realized I hadn’t really had much corn all summer, so I went on a little corn kick and made grilled corn on the cob, corn and tomato salad, and this delicious corn and black bean salsa, which I served with fish tacos. I had a lot of leftovers, so I ended up eating the salsa as a side dish for the rest of the week!

Corn & Black Bean Salsacorn black bean salsa
Serves a lot

Ingredients:

  • 4 ears corn
  • 1 15-ounce can no salt added black beans, drained
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed
  • 1 1/2-2 beefsteak tomatoes, diced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Salt to taste
  • Cilantro, if desired

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the corn for about 3 minutes. Remove the corn and set aside until cool enough to handle. Using a paring knife, cut the corn off the cob into a large bowl.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and toss to mix.

Did you have your fill of corn this summer? What are your favorite ways to enjoy it?

Seasonal Pizza

My husband and I are pizza lovers. (Is there anyone who isn’t?!) In the past we would order in or go out for pizza, or occasionally we would enjoy a Kashi frozen pizza. But last December when I was testing recipes for We Can Cook, I made pizza at home and we really loved it. (The only other time I have ever made pizza at home is on Passover when I make matzo pizza.) Although I didn’t make the dough from scratch, it was still really fun to make the pizza – rolling out the dough, choosing the toppings, and seeing it turn into a delicious meal. Not to mention that it was so much cheaper than getting it ready made!

Last week when I made the cucumber soup I decided to make pizza to round out the meal. I had beautiful farm-fresh cherry tomatoes, basil, summer squash, and some leftover roasted broccoli on hand as toppings. I bought the whole wheat pizza dough from Trader Joe’s, divided it in two to make two pizzas, topped each crust with tomato sauce, part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese, and veggies, and watched it cook. Ten minutes later we had two Nutritioulicious pizzas (plus enough for lunch leftovers).

pizza recipe

Margarita Pizza with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil

healthy pizza

Summer Squash and Broccoli Pizza

If you’re going out for pizza, be sure to check out my tips for how to make it a healthy slice!

Have you ever made pizza at home? What are your favorite pizza toppings? 

Chilled Cucumber Soup

It’s that time of year again – lots of cucumbers available fresh from the farm. A couple of summers ago I shared a recipe for a new twist on traditional cucumber salad. With the plethora of CSA cucumbers that have piled up I decided to try another new recipe showcasing this nutritioulicious vegetable.

My cucumber soup recipe was inspired by the one from Eating Well, with just a few modifications. It was really easy to make, and quick too!

Chilled Cucumber Soup
Serves 4; Serving Size: ~1 cupcucumber soup recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
  • 4 cups peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced cucumbers, plus 1/4 cup chopped cucumber for garnish
  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Pinch of chili powder
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • Diced tomatoes for garnish

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic, shallots, and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 1 to 4 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and cook for 1 minute. Add the 4 cups of cucumber slices, broth, salt, pepper, and chili powder and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and cook at a gentle simmer until the cucumbers are soft, 6 to 8 minutes.
  2. Transfer the soup to a blender. Add avocado and parsley and blend on low speed until smooth. Add the second tablespoon of lemon juice to taste and blend. (Use caution when pureeing hot liquids.) Pour soup into a serving bowl and stir in the yogurt. Refrigerate until chilled.
  3. Serve the soup garnished with diced cucumber and tomato and the chopped parsley. Enjoy!

cucumber recipes
Nutrition Note: Cucumbers are in the same family of fruit and vegetables as squash, watermelon, and cantaloupe. Nutritionally, cucumbers are a good source of phytonutrients that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. They are also a good source of the antioxidants vitamin C and beta-carotene. Because they are water-rich, cucumbers are excellent low-calorie vegetables.

What are your favorite ways to enjoy cucumbers? 

Recipe ReDux: Watermelon Sorbet

When I first found out this month’s Recipe ReDux theme, frozen desserts, I was a little worried. First of all, I don’t make dessert very often – don’t get me wrong, I eat plenty of it, I just buy it instead! Second, I don’t have an ice cream maker or popsicle molds, so all the ideas that originally came to mind wouldn’t work. But as I continued to think about what I would make, I realized simplicity was the way to go. Plus, I wanted to make something that most people could easily whip up without having special gadgets taking up room in their kitchens.

Watermelon sorbet sounds like it would be a lot more complex to make than it actually was. This recipe is so quick and easy, only requires a blender and ramekins, and the result is a refreshing treat that the whole family can enjoy. An added bonus: it’s low in calories and a great source of the antioxidants vitamin A and lycopene too! (Find out more of the nutritional benefits of watermelon.)

watermelon sorbet

Ready to serve!

Watermelon Sorbet
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups watermelon cubes
  • 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved. (Since there is very little sugar, this will happen quickly. Keep an eye on it to make sure the water doesn’t evaporate.) Remove from the heat and set aside.
  2. In a blender, combine the watermelon cubes, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Blend until no watermelon chunks remain.

making watermelon sorbet

  1. Divide the mixture evenly among four ramekins. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least three hours. Enjoy!
watermelon sorbet

Watermelon sorbet before freezing

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 35 calories, 9 g carbohydrate, 8 g sugar (only 3 g added sugar), .5 g protein, 0 g fat

For more delicious frozen desserts, check out these great recipes from my fellow ReDuxers!

Cooking With Summer Squash and Tomatoes

This past weekend I had a handful of heirloom tomatoes and some summer squash from my CSA share, so I did a quick search online for something different to make using the produce.

cooking with summer squash  cooking with heirloom tomatoes

I found a great recipe for Moroccan Chicken on Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food website. The recipe was for one, but I more than doubled it so that Andy and I would both be able to enjoy it (and have leftovers too!) and I made it with quinoa instead of couscous for the additional nutrition benefits.

moroccan chicken recipeWe liked the recipe, but I think it needed some more spices to make it more traditional Moroccan cuisine. It was certainly quick and easy to make and a great use for our fresh veggies.

How do you like to cook with summer squash and tomatoes?

Tomatoes and Basil

As you may know from summer’s past, I love farm-fresh tomatoes. What I love even more is the simple yet nutritious and delicious combination of tomatoes and basil. Lucky for me I have both from my CSA this week, which makes me so happy! This afternoon as I was looking in my fridge and pantry for an afternoon snack, I thought “Why not make a little tomato and basil salad?” In less than three minutes I had this beautiful salad, which paired with some cheese made for a filling and balanced snack!

tomatoes and basil

How good does that look?!

Ingredients:
  • Handful cherry tomatoes
  • 2-3 basil leaves
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Aged balsamic vinegar
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper
Directions:
  1. Rinse tomatoes and basil in cold water and pat dry. Slice tomatoes in half and add to a small bowl. Tear basil leaves and add to tomatoes. Drizzle olive oil and vinegar on top of tomatoes and basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Enjoy the fresh flavors of the summer!

Looking for another tomato recipe? Try the Tomato Jam I made last fall.

Do you like tomatoes? What’s your favorite way to enjoy them?