Archive for Recipes

Sweet Potato and Leek Soup…A Warm, Winter Treat

Two of my favorite “super foods” are sweet potato and coconut, and winter is the best time to find some North Carolina sweet potatoes at the grocery store or farmers market. Sweet potatoes are chock full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber; while coconut is a healthy fat that is essential to include in your diet. Throw some chopped onions, garlic, cumin and leeks into the mix, and you have a warm, creamy, and delicious soup that is a great comfort food or post-workout recovery meal. This was my first time cooking with leeks, but I really did enjoy the taste. I made this soup after a long day at work and a workout at the gym, so I stopped at Whole Foods on my way home and got a whole grain bread bowl to eat my soup out of! It was delicious…you need to try it!


Sweet Potato and Leek Soup

Serves: 4


1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tbsp cooking fat like coconut oil or clarified butter (I used Smart Balance butter blend)

2-3 large leeks, top part removed, and softer part sliced into rounds

4 cups chicken stock

1 can coconut milk (I used an organic, light coconut milk)

Sea salt and black pepper to taste



1. Saute the onions with the cooking fat in a large sauce pan over medium heat for a few mintues. Stir frequently to prevent the onions from burning.

2. Add the garlic and leeks to the pan and cook for another 3-4 minutes to allow everything to soften.

3. Sprinkle in the cumin, combine well.

4. Add the stock and the sweet potatoes. Bring to a boil and then allow to simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are softened.

5. Remove the soup from the heat and slowly mix in the coconut milk

6.Puree the soup in a blender and serve.


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Bran Flax Muffins…They Taste Better Than They Sound!

Are you looking for a quick, on-the-go, and fiber rich breakfast option? How about something that tastes different than your typical cereal, oatmeal, or granola bar options? Definitely check this recipe out. I happened to stumble upon this recipe while pouring my usual tablespoon of ground flax seed into my fruit smoothie…it was the recipe on the back of the flax seed bag! I already had most of the ingredients in my pantry, so I decided to try it out one weekend. These muffins are hearty and healthy for you, and can be used as a great breakfast or snack. I put a little extra cinnamon in mine, to make them taste a little sweeter without the extra sugar or calories.




Bran Flax Muffins

Yields 15-20 muffins


1.5 cups unbleached white flour (you can use wheat flour too)

¾ cup flaxseed meal

¾ cup oat bran

1 cup brown sugar

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1.5 cups carrots, shredded

2 apples, peeled and shredded

½ cup raisins

1 cup nuts, chopped

¾ cup milk

2 eggs, beaten

1 tsp vanilla extract



1. Mix together flour, flax, oat bran, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl.

2. Stir in carrots, apples, raisins, and nuts.
3. Combine milk, beaten eggs, and vanilla.
4. Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients. Stir until moistened, but do not over mix.
5. Bake at 350 F for 15-20 minutes.


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These are a few of my favorite things…

There is nothing better than roasted butternut squash, cranberry sauce, or fresh and flaky coconut. When you combine all three of those flavors into one meal, it can’t get any better than that! Try this as a hearty lunch entree or as a side dish at dinnertime. Either way, it is a seasonal, low calorie dish loaded with vitamins and minerals!

Curried Butternut Squash with Cranberries and Toasted Coconut

Serves: 6

This is a rich, healthy, and crowd-pleasing fall side dish, and would be a sweet and spicy addition to any holiday meal. Almost every ingredient in this recipe has powerful antioxidant properties, especially the garlic, cinnamon, curry powder, and cranberries. This recipe is also rich in heart healthy fats.


1 large butternut squash (2# total)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated

3 Tbsp. 100% pure maple syrup

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. curry powder

2 tsp. chili powder

Pinch of salt and pepper

3 Tbsp. unsweetened shredded coconut, lightly toasted

2 Tbsp. dried cranberries



1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Cut and peel squash, chop into 1-2 inch pieces.

3. Place in a large bowl and add remaining ingredients except coconut and cranberries; toss well to coat.
4.  Pour into a large glass casserole dish and bake for 1 hour, stirring once or twice.
5. Top with toasted coconut and dried cranberries before serving.

Nutrition Facts:

Per ½ cup serving: 178 calories, 9g fat (5g mono, 1g poly, 2g saturated), 0mg cholesterol, 2g protein, 27mg carbohydrates, 1g fiber, 17mg sodium


What are some of your favorite ways to prepare butternut squash during the fall and winter months? Share your recipes here!

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Beat the Holiday Sugar Rush!

Like most people during the holiday season, I often find myself saying that I’m “too busy to exercise” or that I’m “too tired to cook” during the holiday season. With all of the holiday baking, present wrapping, and tree decorating that occurs during December, it is definitely difficult to stick to your normal diet and exercise routine. The holidays are also well-known for calorie-dense, sugar-laden treats…and don’t get me wrong, I love them as much as you do! However, I have two recipes here that are simple, easy, tasty, and require minimal ingredients. Many of the ingredients are fresh and include a serving of fruits and vegetables and have minimal added sugars. So beat the sugar rush this season and try these two recipes for great on-the-go yet sustainable nutrition! You can have these for a quick breakfast, a post-workout snack, an on-the-go meal while traveling, or a unique holiday treat! After all, the spinach and the red peppers make for some festive dishes!

Spinach Shake

This recipe includes all of the food groups…protein, dairy, fruit, vegetable, and healthy fat. How convenient! I just tried out this recipe today as a post-workout snack and it was delicious! And, it takes less than 2 minutes to prepare.


1 scoop vanilla protein powder

½ banana

¾ cup almond milk

1 tsp. peanut butter

1 cup spinach



Combine ingredients in a blender until smooth.

Easy Egg Muffins

Here is a perfect snack to enjoy guilt-free! Each muffin is packed with protein that will fuel your day and support muscle growth. Make a bunch of these and save them in the fridge for snacks on-the-go, or make them for a quick Christmas Day breakfast! You can conveniently find all of these ingredients at your local farmer’s market.

Servings: 6


6 free range, organic, omega-3 eggs

½ red bell pepper, finely chopped

1/8 cup organic, low fat shredded cheese

Pinch of salt and pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line muffin tins with paper liners or grease lightly
  3. Mix up the eggs, add bell pepper, cheese, salt and pepper.
  4. Fill 6 muffin tins
  5. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until eggs are fully set.

Nutritional Analysis:

1 muffin: 89 calories, 6g fat, 120mg sodium, 1g carbohydrate, .16g fiber, 7.5g protein

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Orange Spiced Cranberry Sauce…The Secret Recipe

I was born and raised a canned cranberry sauce girl. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, dinner was comprised of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, candied yams, and sliced cranberry sauce. The shape of the cranberry sauce resembled the cylindrical tin can it was stored in, and was sliced thin and served on a festive plate. Cranberry sauce was always one of my favorite components of a holiday dinner, and nothing tastes better than roasted turkey with cranberry sauce on top! I always thought that canned cranberry sauce was the “norm,” and didn’t realize until I entered graduate school just how delicious homemade cranberry sauce tastes. Last year, my professor Dr. Fisher taught us how to make homemade cranberry sauce in Gastronomy class, and even gave me her secret family recipe to try. Well, I tried it, and let me tell you that I will NEVER go back to canned cranberry sauce! I tweaked Dr. Fisher’s recipe a bit, and created my own secret recipe for cranberry sauce…which I am nice enough to share with you all today! Enjoy this simple and tangy side dish along with your turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes!

Orange Spiced Cranberry Sauce


Only four ingredients needed to make homemade cranberry sauce!

36 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries (usually 3 bags)

12 ounces (1 ½ cups) 100% orange juice

1 package mulling spices, tied in a coffee filter

1 cup sugar


  1. Combine all ingredients in a large 3-quart saucepan, and bring to a simmer.
  2. Cook 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sauce is done when cranberries start to burst and sauce starts to thicken.

*Sauce is best served cold the next day, as sauce will thicken in the fridge.


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Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

Dark chocolate and pumpkin are two of my favorite foods…hands down. They are two flavors that go together oh so perfectly during the holiday season. I love baking pumpkin chocolate chip loaves, pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes, and now my new favorite dish, chocolate pumpkin pie. If you think plain ol’ pumpkin pie is to die for…think again. The melted bittersweet chocolate swirled into the smooth pumpkin makes this holiday pie rich, creamy and delicious! I happened to be watching ABC’s new talk show “The Chew” one afternoon and this recipe caught my eye. I immediately went online and frantically copied the recipe from co-host Michael Symon! Try out this new twist on classic pumpkin pie this holiday season, and let me know what you think!

Michael Symon’s Chocolate Pumpkin Pie


3 oz bittersweet chocolate (finely chopped)

6 oz semisweet chocolate (chopped)

4 tbsp. unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)

1 14-oz can pumpkin

1 12-oz can evaporated milk

¾ cup packed light brown sugar

3 eggs

1 tbps. Cornstarch

1 tsp. vanilla

1 ½ tsp salt

¾ tsp cinnamon

¾ tsp ginger

¼ tsp nutmeg

pinch cloves

Pie crust (already prepared or homemade crust)

Ingredients needed to make chocolate pumpkin pie


  • In a double boiler, melt chocolate and butter, stirring frequently until smooth, and remove from heat.

  • In a large bowl, mix together all other ingredients. Fold in the chocolate mixture, and pour into a pie crust.

  • Place pie pan on a baking sheet. Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit until center of pie is set, about one hour.
  • Refrigerate until cooled completely to serve.

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Homemade Sweet Potato Bread…It’s Holiday Heaven!

This week, I had a bunch of sweet potatoes leftover from my last CSA box of the season, but I had no idea what to do with them. It is post-Thanksgiving after all, and I am all sweet potato-ed out! I happened to be glancing through the latest Penzey’s Spices catalog when I noticed the perfect seasonal recipe for me to try- sweet potato bread…and let me say that it was a match made in heaven! This bread does not have an extremely strong sweet potato flavor, but is definitely a desert-type bread with its cinnamon and nutmeg undertones. It is delicious when served with hot coffee for breakfast, or spread with peanut butter for an afternoon snack!

Sweet Potato Bread

Courtesy of Penzey’s Spices Holiday 2011 Catalog

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Baking Time: 50-60 minutes

Yields: 12 slices

Nutrition Facts: 1 slice= 250 calories, 9g fat, 30mg cholesterol, 170mg sodium, 40g carbs, 1g fiber, 24g sugar, 3g protein.

Ingredients needed to make sweet potato cake


Don't forget the sweet potatoes!


1 ¾ cup all purpose flour

1 ½ cup sugar

1 ½ tsp. cinnamon

½-1 tsp. ground nutmeg

½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

2 eggs

1 cup mashed sweet potatoes

½ cup canola oil

1/3 cup water

1 tsp/ vanilla sugar



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and mix well.
  3. In a smaller bowl, combine the eggs, sweet potatoes, oil, and water.
  4. Stir into the dry ingredients just until moistened.
  5. Spoon into a greased and floured 9×5 inch loaf pan.
  6. Sprinkle with vanilla sugar over the top of the loaf.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
  8. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan to a wire rack.


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