Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanks for Thanksgiving Dinner!

We celebrated Thanksgiving Dinner at Cancer Wellness last Sunday. For me, and many of the survivors, it was an especially poignant gathering. One of the participants summed it up in an email by writing, "We survivors have so much to give thanks for." I gathered inspiration for the meal from lots of different places, using old recipes, new ones and tweaked favorites. The one constant among them is that they are all healthier, lighter, easy and importantly, delicious - these recipes could easily be made for dinner any night. My most favorite of all, is "Jim's Cornbread Dressing". This is actually a recipe that I developed about twenty years ago. When my dad was alive, he always called it, "Nancy's Cornbread Dressing". He's gone now - so I have renamed for him!

Hope you and your family and friends have a wonderful celebration!

Walnut Crusted Turkey with Pomegranate Ginger Glaze

2 LBs Turkey Breast Tenders, (substitute chicken any other time of the year)
2 Cups Panko Bread Crumbs
2 Cups Toasted Very Finely Chopped Toasted Walnuts
1/2 Tsp Each Sea Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
Olive Oil Spray
2 Cups Pomegranate Juice
1 TB Honey
1 TB Lime Juice
1 TB Minced Crystallized Ginger

Step One
Preheat the oven to 425F. Spray an aluminum foil baking sheet with the olive oil spray.

Step Two
Place the panko, the walnuts and salt and pepper in a shallow bowl. Pat the turkey tenders dry, and spray with the olive oil. Roll the tenders in the panko mixture to coat and place on the prepared baking sheet. Place in the oven and roast for about 20 minutes or until done throughout.

Step Three
While the turkey is cooking whisk the dressing ingredients together in a large saute pan. Bring to a simmer, and turn the heat down - then cook and stir over medium heat until reduced by half.

Step Four
Drizzle the chicken with the glaze and serve.

Fresh and Tangy Cranberry Dressing

1 Bag Fresh Cranberries

1 Large Navel Orange, cut in 8 pieces (peel and all)

3 TB Honey

In the bowl of a food processor add all the ingredients and pulse until well chopped. Taste and add more honey if desired.

Jim’s Cornbread Dressing

2 Recipes *Cornbread

2 TB Unsalted Butter

2 Large Onions, diced (4 cups)

1 Large Bunch Celery, diced 43 cups)

3 TBs Poultry Seasoning

2 Large Eggs + 4 Large Egg Whites, whisked together welll

32 Ounces Veg Stock

16 Ounces Light Buttermilk

1 TB Freshly Cracked Black Pepper

Sea Salt to Taste

Step One

Crumble cornbread into a large bowl and set aside.

Step Two

Melt the butte with the oil in a large skillet, add onions and celery, and sauté until tender. Stir in the poultry seasoning, and sauté an additional minute.

Step Three

Add the eggs and whites, broth, buttermilk and pepper into cornbread mixture. It should create a very soupy mixture – if necessary add a little more stock. Pour into a casserole dish and bake, uncovered, at 375F for about 50 minutes or until golden brown.


½ Cup All Purpose Flour

¼ Cup Whole Wheat Flour

3/4 Cup Yellow Cornmeal

1 Tsp each Sea Salt and Black Pepper

1 1/2 TB Sugar

1 TB Baking Powder

1 TB Chopped Fresh Thyme

8 Oz Low Fat Buttermilk

1 Large Egg

2 Egg Whites

3 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Step One

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Step Two

In a bowl, whisk the flours, cornmeal, salt, pepper, sugar and baking powder together. Add the thyme, salt and pepper

Step Three

In a second bowl; beat together the buttermilk, the eggs, whites and oil. Mix into the dry ingredients.

Step Four

Pour the batter into a non-stick sprayed and parchment lined half sheet pan.. Leave to cool on a rack, before removing the bread.

Brussel Sprouts and Orange Pecan Salad

Fresh Brussel Sprouts (About 8 Cups Halved)

Olive Oil Spray, or 1 TB of Olive Oil

Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste

1 Large Navel Orange

1 Lime

¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 TB Pomegranate Molasses (or Honey)

1 Tsp Dijon Mustard

½ Cup Toasted, Chopped Pecans

Pomeganate Seeds

Spring Mix

Step One

Toss your Brussel sprouts with a little olive oil spray or a TB of olive oil, and salt and pepper them. Roast your Brussel sprouts on an aluminum foil lined, non-stick sprayed half sheet pan at 425 for about 25 – 30 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly while you make the dressing

Step Two

Zest the orange and the lime, set the zest aside. To make the dressing, juice the orange and lime into a bowl. Whisk in the olive oil, molasses, and mustard and salt and pepper to taste.

Step Three

Spread the spring mix out on a large platter, place the roasted sprouts on top and drizzle the dressing over it all. Sprinkle with the zests, pecans and seeds and serve.

Warm and Spicy Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Red Onions

4 Large Sweet Potatoes

2 Large Red Onions

¼ Cup Olive Oil

2 TBs Garam Masala

Cut the Sweet Potatoes and the Onions into large chunks. Toss them in a bowl with the olive oil and the Garam Masala. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place on an aluminm foil sheet pan and roast in a 425F oven until brown and crispy on the edges – about 30 minutes. If necessary, pop the pan under the broiler for a few minutes to crisp up the edges.

Pepper Nut Cookies

2 Cups Dark Brown Sugar

4 TB Unsalted Butter

2 TB Canola Oil

1 Large Egg

2 Egg Whites

2 Tsp Brandy or Cognac

2 Cups All Purpose Flour

1 ½ Cups Whole Wheat Flour

½ Tsp Baking Soda

½ Tsp Cloves

½ Tsp Ginger

½ Tsp Cinnamon

½ Tsp Freshly and Finely Ground Black Pepper

½ Cup Finely Chopped Toasted Walnuts

Step One

Preheat the oven to 375F. Cream the sugar, butter and oil together. Mix in the egg, whites and brandy.

Step Two

In another bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together. Add the nuts. Fold into the wet ingredients. Shape into 1” balls and place on parchment paper lined baking sheets. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Giving Thanks: A Guest Post by Healthy Sous-Chef Partyologist, Lea Bowen

This year, I started thinking about Thanksgiving much earlier than usual. The reason for this forethought was my fear of copious amounts of butter, cream and other equally indulgent ingredients that are staples in most holiday recipes. Ironically, last year at this time, I was about to graduate from culinary school and never thought twice about the amount of full fat dairy products that went into my recipes. Well, that was one year and 25 pounds ago. While I still plan to have a taste of everything on the holiday table this year, I wanted to add a dish that reflects my new healthier cooking style. My fall harvest quinoa combines wonderful holiday flavors in a lower fat and protein packed dish. The great thing about this recipe is that it can be served warm as a side dish, or made ahead and served cold or at room temperature as a salad. I plan on serving the quinoa on a bed of baby spinach and perhaps adding in some fresh orange slices to dress it up for it's Thanksgiving debut.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Fall Harvest Quinoa
1 Cup Quinoa
2 Cups Water
Zest and Juice of one Orange
½ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 TB Thyme Leaves
4 Scallions, chopped
½ Cup Toasted Pecans, roughly chopped
½ Cup Dried Cranberries

Step One:
Bring quinoa and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover and lower heat. Cook for 10-12 minutes, until water is absorbed.

Step Two:
Make the vinaigrette by whisking together the orange zest, orange juice, olive oil and thyme leaves.

Step Three:
Combine cooked quinoa, vinaigrette and remaining ingredients in a bowl. Add salt and pepper to your taste. Quinoa may be enjoyed warm, room temperature or cold.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice: A Guest Post by Healthy Sous Chef Partyologist, Lea Bowen

This week I got to conquer one of my lingering culinary fears, Gingerbread. While I have always been fascinated by the beauty and whimsy of gingerbread houses, I was equally daunted by the intricacy and patience this craft surely required. Luckily, I had a great teacher, Dr. Heather Richardson from Piedmont Hospital and an inspiring "creative director", Lisa Vingerling founder of Pink Heals.

Our frenzy of gingerbread baking started last Monday, in preparation for a gingerbread turkey crafting class scheduled for later in the week. Much to my surprise, the recipe for the gingerbread dough was quite simple to put together and easy to roll and cut. The scent of the spice mixture was intoxicating, and the enthusiasm of Heather and Lisa made the experience all that more enjoyable.

So, while I may not be ready to enter a gingerbread house contest, I feel quite confident in my ability to craft a Thanksgiving turkey, and am certain to make some gingerbread boys with kids this Christmas.

I encourage you to take the time to embrace your inner child and let your creative juices flow this holiday season. I have included the recipe that we used this week. It was adapted from The Gingerbread Architect by Susan Matheson and Lauren Chattman.


1 cup Vegetable Shortening

1 cup Sugar

2 tsp Baking Powder

1 tsp Baking Soda

4 tsp Ground Ginger

1 tsp Ground Cloves

1 cup Dark Molasses

2 large Eggs

2 TB White Vinegar

5 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine shortening and sugar until well combined. Add the baking powder, ginger, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves and beat until well incorporated. Add the molasses, eggs and vinegar and beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice as necessary. Add the flour, one cup at a time and mix on low until smooth. Scrape the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and press into a rough square. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least three hour or up to three day. Roll to 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch thickness and bake at 375 degrees for 12-14 minutes. Baking time may vary depending on the size and thickness of your pieces, so adjust accordingly. Yields 3 1/2 lbs.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Falling for Butternut Squash: A Guest Post by Healthy Sous Chef Partyoligist, Lea Bowen

A couple of week's ago, Chef Nancy and I were joking about how every cook on the planet seems to embrace the ever popular butternut squash as soon as the fall season begins. Recently, we made a wonderful roasted butternut squash salad with an apple cider vinaigrette for a class at Cancer Wellness. I say it was wonderful, based on the comments of the class participants. Unfortunately, I never got the chance to enjoy the completed dish, which left me with lingering craving for this golden winter fruit.

Last Thanksgiving, while still in culinary school, I made a decadent butternut squash soup, rich with cream and butter. It was delicious, but certainly not to be classified as healthy. My goal this fall, was to create an equally delicious soup, without the fat and calories. I made this soup for our Halloween dinner and plan on serving it again during the holiday season. This savory soup makes a great dinner along with a green salad and a baguette or can be served as an appetizer in a festive martini glass. If you have yet to use this ingredient, I hope you will give this quick and easy recipe a try.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup:

1 Butternut Squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch dice

1 Spanish Onion, cut into 1 inch dice

4 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided

1 TB Dried Thyme

Salt and Pepper to taste

3 cloves, Garlic, minced

1 quart Chicken or Vegetable Stock

Non-fat Greek Yogurt and chopped Basil for garnish.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place squash and onion on a foil-lined baking sheet and drizzle with two TB of olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme. Toss to coat and spread out flat on baking sheet. Roast for 25-30 minutes until squash and onion are tender and just beginning to caramelize.

Meanwhile, place remaining olive oil in a dutch oven over low heat and soften garlic, making sure not to let it brown. Place the roasted squash mixture, and stock into the dutch oven and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes, then puree the soup with an immersion blender. If you do not have an immersion blender, allow the mixture to cool before placing in a standing blender. Once blended, test for seasoning and serve garnished with a dollop of non-fat Greek yogurt and chopped basil.

This recipe serves four as a main dish and can easily be doubled to serve a larger crowd.