Fall for Butternut Squash this Season

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Butternut squash soup

While summer is filled with delicious grilled foods and tasty entrée-size salads, fall marks the season of warming soups. Pull out your immersion blender and plan for some creamy soups from now through the holidays!

One of my favorite creamy soups is made with butternut squash….yes, creamy, but low-fat…how awesome is that?

And this soup is an excellent way to protect yourself (and your kiddos) from all those bugs traveling around. Butternut squash is high in vitamin A and vitamin C. The sweetness of this soup also helps curb your sweet tooth so I often recommend it n weight-loss menus. Enjoy!

Blissful Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds butternut squash peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil divided, extra if desired
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 6 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped into ½ inch crescents
  • 3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cubed
  • One bay leaf

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400.
  • Coat a baking sheet with olive oil or use an olive oil spray. Pour the cubes of squash onto the sheet; toss with one teaspoon olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix to coat thoroughly and bake for 30 minutes or until fork tender.
  • Meanwhile, in a large Dutch oven, sauté onions in olive oil over medium heat for 20 minutes, until caramelized.
  • Add garlic and sauté 1-2 minutes.
  • Add veggie broth, sweet potato, celery, apple, bay leaf, and nutmeg. Add the roasted squash. Stir to distribute all ingredients, cover pot and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to simmer for 30 minutes
  • Remove bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Uncover and use an immersion blender to blend soup until completely smooth. Alternatively, work in batches with a blender or food processor.

 

 

 

 

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Win a Copy of The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook

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Cover Meal Prep.jpgToby Amidor is an extraordinary dietitian; she has been featured on Dr. Oz and has been quoted by dozens of health, fitness, and nutrition magazines, including: Oxygen Magazine, Dr. Oz The Good Life, Mic.com, Reader’s Digest, Shape.com, Women’s Health, Redbook, Men’s Journal, Huffington Post, Everyday Health, and more.

I am so excited about her brand new cookbook, THE HEALTHY MEAL PREP COOKBOOK. Toby provides practical and simple solutions with easy-to-follow directions. She shows you how simple it is to enjoy fresh and flavorful meals on even the most hectic days.

I have posted two of her amazing recipes earlier this month: her Root Vegetable and Bean Stew and her Coconut Lime Flounder in Parchment.

I caught up with Toby recently and asked her a few questions about the book and her lifestyle. Her answers will inspire you.

At the end of this blog, I am going to ask you readers a question and if you answer it in the comments section of the blog, you have a chance to win a copy of Toby’s new cookbook!

Kelly Springer: What inspired you to develop this cookbook?

Toby Amidor: I am a working mother of three kids, so I am very busy. If I don’t plan my meals, then my kids will be eating take out or fast food every night. Since I want them to eat healthy, plus I am on a budget meal prepping has become second nature. I wanted to share my tips and tricks with meal prepping with others so they can plan for healthy meals too.

KS: What type of health benefits would you anticipate people to reap by using this book as a go-to for their home-cooked meals?

TA: There are several health benefits that someone would have by following The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook. First is portion control. All of my recipes list exact portions and measurements for every ingredient, including salt. Once the dish is done, you measure out the portions and store it for the week. Calorie control is a key component of weight loss and weight management. Second, you’ll eat healthier. Instead of stopping at a fast food joint or hitting up the vending machine, you’ll be armed with healthy meals and snacks throughout the week. Last, you’ll reduce mid-week stress. Many folks become stressed to get healthy food on the table, especially during the hustle and bustle during the work week. When everything is planned, it helps decrease stress related to weeknight meals.

KS: Do you consider the recipes to be kid-friendly? If so, tell me about a couple recipes that you think that kids will particularly love?

TA: Many of the dishes are kid-friendly recipes including my Apple Walnut Loaf, Wild Blueberry Whole Grain Scones, Lighter Panzanella Salad (my 12-year old LOVES it!), Maple Orange Glazed Carrots, and Slow Cooker Barbecue Chicken.

KS: If you had to pick three top-favorite recipes in this book, what would they be?

TA: That’s a tough question! That’s like asking a parent “who is your favorite child!” But if I had to choose it would be:

  • Lighter Panzanella Salad
  • Apricot Chicken Drumsticks
  • No Bake Maple Cinnamon Bars

Okay readers, now I have a question for you!

“How would a cookbook filled to the brim with easy to put together, delicious healthy meals benefit you and your family?

Answer this question by this Friday September 1st at 5 p.m. EST and I will choose a winner over the weekend to receive a signed copy of Toby’s book!

~Kelly Springer, RD,  MS, CDN

 

Root Vegetable and Bean Soup

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(Serves 4)

I have sad news for you: winter in Central New York will be here before you know it. Halloween is just over two months away and the snow has been known to start flying that early around here. But hang in there; I am going to help you get through with warming recipes.

Try this delicious soup of Toby Amidor’s when the coldness starts making its presence known. I guarantee you will love it! This is just one of several of her amazing recipes in her new cookbook, The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook. Click here to check out this new favorite cookbook of mine. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 packed cup baby spinach
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 medium parsnip, chopped
  • 1 medium turnip, chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) can low-sodium kidney beans, drained
  • and rinsed
  • 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Stack spinach and cut in ribbons Work in batches if
  • In a large pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil until it shimmer Add the onion, carrot, celery, parsnip, and turnip, and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the beans, and stir to combine. Add the vegetable broth, mirin, and bay leaves, and stir to combine. Increase the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer until the beans are tender, about 20 minutes.
  • Remove and discard the bay Stir in the spinach

ribbons and black pepper.

REFRIGERATE: Store the cold soup in a resealable container for up to 1 week. Reheat in a pot over medium-high heat. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Single servings can be reheated in the microwave on high for 2 to 3 minutes.

FREEZE: Store the cooled soup in individual freezer-safe containers or in one large container for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat in a pot over medium-high heat. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Single servings can be reheated in the microwave on high for 2 to 3 minutes.

 

Coconut Lime Flounder in Parchment

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Every now and then, I meet a nutrition expert that I admire. Toby Amidor is one of them. You may have seen her on Dr. Oz or quoted in Readers Digest, Redbook, Women’s Health, Oxygen Magazine, or many other publications. She is a nutrition expert extraordinaire and I am so excited about her new cookbook, The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook, which will be released in just a couple weeks!

This is one of my favorite dishes in the cookbook and it only takes 15 minutes to prepare and 15 minutes to cook! Enjoy! For more delicious recipes, be sure to visit http://bit.ly/HealthyMealPrepCookbook.

Coconut Lime Flounder in Parchment

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup coconut cream (not coconut milk)
  • Zest of 2 limes
  • 2 teaspoons low-sodium
  • soy sauce
  • 2 limes, cut into
  • 6 rounds each
  • 12 fresh basil leaves
  • 4 (5-ounce) flounder or
  • cod fillets
  • 4 tablespoons unsweetened, shredded coconut, divided

Instructions

  1. If cooking the fish right away, preheat the oven to 400oF.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut cream, lime zest, and soy sauce.
  3. Place 1 piece of parchment paper flat on the counter.
  4. On the lower half lay down 3 rings of lime and then a layer of 3 basil leaves. Place the fish on top of the basil and lime.
  5. Spoon 2 teaspoons of the coconut mixture over the fish and sprinkle it with 1 tablespoon of shredded coconut.
  6. Fold the parchment paper in half over the fish. Working your way around, gently roll the edge of the open sides of the paper, tucking the ends under the packet. Repeat this step for the remaining three packets.
  7. At this time, you can store the raw-fish packets in the refrigerator and cook as needed.
  8. To cook, place up to two packets on a baking sheet and roast until the fish is opaque and reaches an internal temperature of 145oF, about 10 minutes. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut several 3-inch slits in the packets.

REFRIGERATE: Store the uncooked packets for up to 3 days. Once cooked, transfer the fish and seasonings to a resealable container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

Crazy for Cumbers Salad

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Cucumbers

A cucumber is one veggie that appeals to most people, even kids!

This low-calorie favorite is great for much-needed hydration especially this time of year–it is 96 percent water!

The water and combined nutrients in cucumbers also help to flush toxins out of your system. Research indicates that they can even help dissolve kidney stones.

Cucumbers are great for your heart too–the sterols in cucumber help to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol.

And don’t forget how they help your pearly whites—read this blog where I talk about foods that literally clean your teeth and cucumbers are one of them!

Here’s the perfect summer salad for cucumber lovers!

Crazy for Cucumbers Salad

Ingredients:
– 2 cucumbers, very thinly sliced
– 1 red onion, very thinly sliced
– 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
– 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt
– 1 teaspoon of honey
– 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill

Directions:
– Mix cucumbers and onions together.

– Mix the remaining ingredients together in a separate bowl, whisking them well.

– Toss the cucumbers and onions into the dressing mixture; chill for at least a half hour and serve!

Simple Solutions for your Morning Workout Recovery

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I know, I know. Your workouts are crammed into your already hectic life. You have finally mastered the art of getting to bed early so that you can rise with the sun and squeeze in your daily workout. But once you finish, you don’t have time to prepare an elaborate breakfast; you have to shower, shave, dress, and look your best for the day ahead!

But listen to me, after a workout, your muscles are damaged and depleted. In order to build the strength that you are seeking, you need to feed those depleted muscles with glycogen. The best way to do this is to consume a breakfast that has a 2:1 carb to protein ratio. An ideal amount of protein is 10-18 grams. This will shuttle plenty of glycogen to your muscles and energize you for the day!

I hear ya! You don’t have time to calculate these numbers AND eat on top of it. That’s what you have me for! Here are my top-3, quick and easy breakfasts for workout recovery (and they’re a great way to start your day even if you don’t work out in the morning)

#1: Almond butter on whole grain toast with two types of fruit

A banana is one of my top choices and then for the second type of fruit, I usually choose something seasonal. In summer, berries are my favorite. Make sure your bread’s first ingredient is whole ground wheat or sprouted wheat; if it simply says wheat flour, it is not truly whole grain! And spread on that almond butter generously—think two tablespoons…that’s some yummy fiber, protein, and healthy fats for you!

#2: 3/4 cup Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup granola and a handful of fruit        

Nothing beats Greek yogurt with granola and blueberries! Watch out for sugar in both the yogurt and granola. I usually buy plain Greek yogurt to minimize the sugar and there are plenty of granola varieties with less than 10 grams of sugar. Muesli is a good option instead of granola as well.

#3: A Succulent smoothie

Mix 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1 cup of frozen berries and a scoop of chocolate whey protein powder.

If you’re like me, you may not like messing with a blender in the morning, so make your smoothie the night before and store it in a mason jar of smoothie shaker cup and you can even have it on the go the next morning.

What’s the best part about these three recovery breakfast options? You can use mix and match the fruits to come up with entirely different choices every day

By Kelly Springer, RD, MS, CDN

Crazy about Cranberries at Barbecue Get-Togethers

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Cranberries are not just for Thanksgiving, dear friends. There are quite a few reasons I absolutely love cranberries.

First of all, studies show that they’re great for my heart. Turns out, the bioactive compounds found in cranberries may help maintain a healthy heart by improving blood cholesterol levels, reducing blood pressure and decreasing inflammation and oxidative stress.

Secondly, cranberries are a natural way to help prevent recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs). UTIs are perhaps the most uncomfortable health ailment a woman (or man) can face and I never want to experience one. If you have a history of UTIs, try consuming more cranberry products – juice, sauce, dried, fresh – you pick.  Results from a large clinical trial published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2016, showed that cranberry juice reduced symptomatic UTIs by almost 40 percent in women with a recent history of UTIs.

Last but not least, I love that cranberry products, including cranberry juice cocktail, dried cranberries and sauces, offer the same health benefits of fresh cranberries.

Given cranberries’ unique health properties and cooking versatility, I have created some ways for you to enjoy cranberries no matter what time of year – starting right now, with grilling season! Here are a few barbecue recipes to get you started!

Summer Salad:

Toss some dried cranberries into a salad. I love a simple salad of greens, diced Granny Smith apples, sliced red onion, walnuts, and a whole lot of dried cranberries.

Summer Spritzer:

Summer is a time for cocktails, but they don’t have to be alcoholic. I love mixing 3/4 cups of cranberry juice cocktail with a cup of seltzer water for a big, delicious summer spritzer.

On the Grill

You read that right—I love using cranberries on the grill. It takes one recipe, a cranberry barbeque sauce! This may be time-consuming, but it keeps for weeks in the refrigerator, so you can reuse it. I have also provided a simpler recipe for the busy bees out there; a cranberry glaze. You can slather either on almost any meat choice and impress your guests. They’re especially yummy on chicken and pork tenderloin. So sweet and delicious!

Cranberry Barbeque Sauce

Ingredients:

– 6 cups of frozen cranberries

– 2 cups of water

-1 cup of vegetable broth

-1/2 cup brown sugar

-1 teaspoon of Paprika

-1 tablespoon of tomato paste

– 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce

– 1/2 cup diced onion

– ½ cup apple cider vinegar

– 1 ½ tablespoon of garlic salt

– 1 teaspoon of minced ginger

– 1 teaspoon of orange zest

Directions:

Boil all ingredients but the last two in a stock pot for 15 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced to 1/3. Use an immersion blender to blend or place in small batches in a standard blender. Strain the puree through a mesh strainer. Stir in the ginger and orange zest and voila! Store in refrigerator for up to 3 weeks and use whenever you’d like!

Cranberry Glaze

Here’s my recipe for busy bees! Grill chicken breasts or meat of choice simply sprinkled with salt and pepper. While meat is grilling, whip up this glaze.

Ingredients:

1 can of jellied cranberry sauce

– 2 teaspoons of cumin

– 2 tablespoons of lime juice

– 1 teaspoon of sea salt

– 1 tablespoon of dried cilantro

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking often, until you have created a smooth glaze. If you would like some heat, you can add a diced jalapeno pepper to this recipe!

There are a couple other ways you can incorporate cranberries into your summer barbeques as well.

Try these recipes this summer and I guarantee you will see how versatile cranberries are and how they can add so much deliciousness to your summer barbeques.

Try these recipes this summer and I guarantee you will see how versatile cranberries are and how they can add so much deliciousness to your summer barbeques.

To learn even more about the health benefits of cranberries, visit the Cranberry Institute.