Tag Archives: healthy recipes

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


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


  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!

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


  • 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


  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


  • 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


  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? 

Quinoa-Stuffed Cornish Hens

Most Friday nights my husband and I stay in for dinner and I cook something that takes a little more time to prep than during the week. I try to keep it interesting and vary the main dish, so some weeks I make traditional roast chicken and other times I make more unique recipes like beef stew and miso-ginger chicken and cabbage.  A couple of weeks ago we had company over and I tried a new recipe that I really loved. It was different than the typical roast chicken my husband is getting sick of and looked fancier than a basic chicken dish, but was still fairly easy to make. Of course I tweaked the original recipe that I found at Food & Wine, but the end result was great!

Quinoa-Stuffed Cornish Hens (adapted from Food & Wine’s Couscous-Stuffed Cornish Hens)
Serves: 6   


cornish hens recipe

  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Fresh-ground black pepper
  • 3 Cornish hens
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1/3 cup water
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Toast the nuts in the oven until golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove and set aside. Raise the heat to 425 degrees F. 
  2. In a small saucepan, bring the broth, apricots, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the quinoa to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes or until all the broth is absorbed. Remove from the heat and add the almonds, 1 tablespoon of honey, the cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon of salt and pepper. 
  3. Fill the cavities of the hens with the quinoa mixture. Twist the wings of the hens behind their backs, and if you like, tie the legs together. Put the hens breast-side up in a roasting pan. Coat the hens with the oil and sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt and pepper. 
  4. Roast the hens for 25 minutes. Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of honey and continue roasting until just done, about 10 to 15 minutes longer. 
  5. When the hens are done, transfer them to a plate and leave to rest in a warm spot for about 5 minutes. Spoon the fat from the roasting pan and add the water to the juices. Cook over moderate heat, scraping the bottom of the pan to dislodge any brown bits, until reduced to 1/3 cup, about 3 minutes. Add a pinch each of salt and pepper. Cut the hens in half and serve with the stuffing and pan juices. 

Homemade Quesadillas

Last week in the NY Times Recipes for Health column Martha Rose Shulman shared recipes for quesadillas, which she also referred to as “healthy fast food.” It happened that I was in the midst of coming up with my shopping list for my weekly dinner groceries when I read the article and saw all the quesadilla recipes. It was the perfect solution to vary my go-to quick and healthy mid-week dinners like tofu stir fry and pasta with beans and cheese.

I made my quesadillas using corn tortillas, roasted red peppers (from a jar), sauteed onions, black beans, and reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese. To start, I sauteed the onions and then added the roasted red peppers for a few minutes. Next, I removed the vegetables from the pan and heated one corn tortilla and topped it with some of the vegetables, black beans, and cheese.

recipes for health quesadillasI then added a second tortilla on top, pressing down with a spatula for a few minutes until the cheese started to melt.  Then came the tricky part – flipping the quesadilla without everything on the inside falling out! (The key is don’t overfill the quesadilla and use your second hand to help keep it together.) I cooked it a little longer before removing it from the pan to a plate. I served the quesadillas with salsa and nonfat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.

recipes for health quesadillas This quick, easy, and healthy meal was so delicious I am sure it will become a staple mid-week dinner to add to my list.

And in case you’re wondering, corn tortillas are the healthier variety – they have half the fat and calories and one-fourth the sodium of a similar-sized flour tortilla. So unless you really dislike the taste of corn tortillas, stick with them to keep the meal lightened up.

What’s your favorite quesadilla filling?

Miso-Ginger Chicken and Cabbage

Last weekend I made this Miso-Ginger Chicken and Cabbage recipe that I found in my Food & Wine Annual Cookbook 2010 (this cookbook has some amazing recipes!). It took a little longer than I expected to prep everything, but the cooking time was fast. I served it alongside the Bulgur with Ginger & Orange, which made for a great meal, but it also would have been wonderful over soba noodles because it had quite a bit of broth.

food & wine recipe

Some of the ingredients in this recipe are cabbage, shitake mushrooms, and daikon. I had never used daikon in my cooking and my only previous experience with daikon had been with sashimi, where it is served as a garnish. I have always liked it, although many people find it tasteless by itself. I was excited to get the opportunity to work with it in the kitchen.

daikon radish


Daikon is a Japanese radish that is white and mild flavored – it sort of looks like a carrot, just bigger and white (the word daikon actually comes from two Japanese words: Dai – “large” – and Kon – “root”). Nutritionally, daikon is very low in calories (3 ounces = 18 calories) and is a good source of vitamin C. It can be added raw to salads, used in stir fries, and simmered in soups.

Have you ever cooked with daikon before?

Creamy Mushroom Soup

By Jo Bartell

I often turn to the magazine Eating Well for creative and healthy dinner ideas. Last night, when I was trying to figure out what to make, I remembered that the “Healthy in a Hurry” section of this month’s issue gave a different soup recipe for each night of the week. I decided to modify the Creamy Hungarian Mushroom Soup based on what I had on hand in the refrigerator and pantry. The Eating Well recipe already had some healthy changes to traditional mushroom soup (e.g. using olive oil in place of  butter), but I didn’t have some of the ingredients the recipe called for, so I tweaked the recipe even more. I also found leftover kale and white beans in my refrigerator, so I decided to add those for some extra veggies and protein.The result was a nutritious, delicious, and filling soup that only took about 30 minutes to make, and the best part is I have leftovers for tomorrow!

healthy mushroom soupIngredients:

(Makes 6 servings, 1 1/2 cups each)

Eating Well Version Nutritioulicious Version
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds mushrooms, thinly sliced 1 1/2 pounds mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, diced 1 medium onion, diced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons paprika (Hungarian) 2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons dried dill 2 tablespoons dried dill
4 cups mushroom broth or reduced-sodium beef broth 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
2 cups low-fat milk 2 cups nonfat milk
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces 1/2 cup sautéed kale
1/2 cup butter beans
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream 2 tablespoons 0% Fage Greek Yogurt
3/4teaspoon salt

Directions (adapted for the nutritioulicious version):

  1. Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid evaporates, 10-15 minutes.
  2. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are very soft, about 3 more minutes. Add paprika and dill and cook, stirring for 15 seconds. Add broth, milk, kale, and beans; cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to maintain a lively simmer and cook, uncovered, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 0% Fage Greek Yogurt. Enjoy!

For more recipes using mushrooms, try Jessica’s Pureed Mushroom Soup, Mushroom & Onion Barley, and Beef & Vegetable Stew.

What are your favorite ways to enjoy mushrooms?

Caramelized Onion Dip

Yesterday I told you about the versatility of Greek yogurt, and what an especially good replacement it is for sour cream. As promised, and in honor of my husband, here is a recipe that generally uses sour cream (and one of his faves!), but comes out great using Greek yogurt instead. Plus, you won’t feel the least bit guilty indulging in it because of how nutritious it is (especially compared to the original!).

Caramelized Onion Diphealthier onion dip
Serves: 12; Serving Size: 3 oz


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 small to medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons salt-free garlic powder
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


  1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sugar and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden brown and caramelized, about 40 minutes. Set aside and let cool.
  2. While the onions are cooking, mix together the yogurt, garlic powder, and salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. When the onions are room temperature, add ¾ of them to the yogurt mixture, transfer to a bowl, and top with the remaining onions.

Nutrition Information (per serving): 68 calories, 4 g protein, 8 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 2 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 56 mg sodium, 36 mg calcium

(Nutrition info for 3 ounces of traditional onion dip: 172 calories, 3 g protein, 9 g carbohydrate, 0 g fiber, 13 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 600 mg sodium, 0 mg calcium)

Sweet Potato and Tofu Thai Curry

Some of the recent CSA ingredients I have received include sweet potatoes, collard greens, Swiss chard, and butternut squash. So don’t be surprised when these foods are the stars of the next few recipes I post! The first one up is a curry that I made using sweet potatoes and collard greens. I found a Cooking Light recipe from 1999 that sounded good and I tweaked it to use what I had on hand. The original recipe called for leeks, butternut squash, serrano chiles, and a couple of other items I didn’t have stocked in my kitchen. Here’s my version:

Sweet Potato and Tofu Thai Curry
Serves 5sweet potato curry

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 2 cups thinly sliced onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1-2 teaspoons chili paste
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups peeled and cubed sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 bunch collard greens, rinsed and cut crosswise into strips
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk
  • 1 package firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 5 cups cooked long-grain brown rice
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté for 3 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute more.
  2. Stir in soy sauce, curry, ginger, chili paste, and sugar. Add water, sweet potatoes, collard greens, salt, and coconut milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu and sauté 12 minutes or until golden brown, turning occasionally.
  4. Add tofu and lime juice to sweet potato mixture and continue to simmer until curry is to preferred consistency.
  5. Serve curry over rice and sprinkle evenly with peanuts and cilantro.

Nutrition Note: Collard greens are one of the cruciferous vegetables, which provide cancer-fighting benefits. They are also an excellent source of vitamin K, which has anti-inflammatory benefits and helps promote strong bones.