Acorn Squash is undoubtedly one of my favorite foods. Here we are about to hit November, and I hadn’t had so much as a bite of acorn squash. I resolved to change that and picked an acorn squash at the store.

non stuffed acorn squash

I think of acorn squash as a special treat, which is great because the nutritional benefits of winter squash are astounding:

  • Winter squash is a relative of the melon and the cucumber
  • Long storage life of up to six months
  • Excellent source of Vitamin A
  • Very good source of Vitamin C
  • Good source of folate, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B1, copper, vitamin B6
  • High in beta-carotene which promotes healthy blood flow thus protects against heart disease
  • Rich in beta-cryptoxanthin which may significantly lower risk of developing lung cancer
  • Contains potassium which may lower blood pressure
  • Fiber found in winter squash is also able to prevent cancer-causing chemicals from attacking colon cells

The only downer about winter squash is cutting them in half to roast in the oven. I had a bad knife accident last year with butternut squash and now have a terrible fear. However, I have a new technique:


  1. Heat oven to 400
  2. Pierce acorn squash about 15-2o times and place on baking pan in oven for 20 minutes
  3. Remove from oven and easily cut through the middle of the squash (long ways, from the stems). Scoop out the middle flesh.
  4. Spray with canola oil and sprinkle with a little cinnamon and brown sugar.
  5. Place back in oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until middle is soft and its easy to pierce through with fork.

You could serve the squash just like this with a protein or cut up into cubes or stuff it with a filling. I had the mushroom and black bean filling left over from my Vegetarian Quesadillas so in it went.

stuffed acorn squash

This was a great meal. Filling, warm, and incredibly nutritious. There will definitely be more appearances of winter squash in my kitchen over the next few months.

Its week two in my new adventure:  Craving Ellie in My Belly. The group is made up of bloggers’ who rotate to select a Ellie Krieger recipe every week and then we all blog about completing the recipe (Ellie hosts Healthy Appetite on Food Network).

Joining this group has been a great experience so far, especially because I made my first soup for week one! Week 2 has proven to be just as interesting but for different reasons. The recipe this week was Easy Chicken Mushroom Quesadillas. You might notice my title is different. I’m not much of chicken or quesadilla kind of girl. I don’t eat chicken frequently and I’ve always found wraps to be a waist (waste) of calories. To each his own, don’t make fun, I know its weird to not like wraps.

veg quesa

The original sounded great, but I made a few changes and still ended up with a delicious dinner:

Ingredients (Makes 4 to 5 portions)

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 8 ounces white button mushrooms, (about 3 cups) 2 cups white button, 2 cups cremini
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced didn’t include
  • 2 cups cooked chopped skinless, boneless chicken breast (1 breast half)1 can organic black beans (rinsed)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 4 (10-inch) whole-grain flour tortillas 100 calorie whole grain pita
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese mix or Cheddar 4 Light Original Swiss Laughing Cow (1 wedge per pita)
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream non-fat greek yogurt

Please refer to Ellie’s directions on the Food Network. When adding the spices, add the black beans. I cut my pita into two circles, spread the thicker side with laughing cow cheese, added about 3/4 cup of the veggie mixture, and put it all into my George Forman grill to press like a panini. I don’t like to buy sour cream, b/c I will never use the whole container, so I just use the non-fat greek yogurt I always have on hand.

Nutrition Comparison: The original dinner had 440 calories for 1/2 a quesadilla, assuming my portion of a whole pita is the same, I shaved off about 105 calories, added heart-healthy vegetables and increased fiber. Not a bad deal.

I’m already excited about next weeks recipe – Pumpkin Pie Muffins. Mmm.

Apple Phyllo TartApple Phyllo Tarts are my go-to dessert. They are incredibly easy to make (about 20 minutes), absolutely adorable and appreciated by your guest or hosts, and there’s no heavy fatty ingredients which means a guilt free dessert (35 calories per tart). But most importantly, they are delicious. The perfect bite: crunchiness from phyllo tart shell, natural juice of apples mixed with smokiness of nuts, tartness of cranberries, all brought together with cinnamon and honey. Mmmm…

For my apple phyllo tarts, I never stick to the same recipe. You can combine pretty much anything you have on hand in terms of nuts, dried fruit, spices, or sweetener. Apples are the star and you want them to be juicy. has a good guide on which apples are good for baking, cooking, or just eating.  Here’s the basic recipe for apple fyllo tarts, but remember there’s tons of wiggle room.


  • 1 package pre-made fillo (phyllo) shells
  • 2 apples: I used 1 honeycrisp for the juicy sweetness and 1 green apple to balance sweet with tart
  • 1/3 cup cranberries
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp honey, plus extra for a dollop at the end


1. Finely chop apples. I washed really well and left skin on b/c I like how the different colors look in the finished tart.finely chopped apples

2. On medium-heat, add 1 tbsp of butter to pan.

3. Once butter dissolves add apples. Mix frequently, as the apples start releasing their own juices. You will not need to add more butter.

4. As apples begin to cook (about 5 minutes) add pecans and cranberries.

5. Depending on how you like consistency of your apples in baked goods (I like mine to still have firmness), right as they are getting the desired consistency, I add 1 tbsp of brown sugar, 1/2 tsp of cinnamon (to taste), and drizzle honey. I immediately turn off the heat and just stir everything for a few minutes. Because there really isn’t butter and a lot of heat, the sugar would burn up really quick and we just want it to add flavor.

6. Let the pan sit for 10-15 minutes (if you don’t have time constraints) and soak up all flavors.

7. Fill up the phyllo tarts. If you are serving later, just pop constructed shell in the oven on 350 for 3-5 minutes.

in hand

I know my way around a kitchen. That’s not meant to come off in a conceited manner, but I do cook and bake a fair amount. I can successfully follow a recipe (did you know not everyone can?), adapt recipes, or just cook on a whim. I don’t stress at the thought of throwing dinner parties and I feel comfortable eyeballing 1/4 cup of a substance, BUT I’VE NEVER MADE A SOUP. Pretty unreal, huh? Similar to the yeast component of bread, something about soup has always intimidated me. Good thing I just joined a new group called Craving Ellie in My Belly. The group is made up of bloggers’ who rotate to select a Ellie Krieger recipe every week and then we all blog about and share our experience (Ellie hosts Healthy Appetite on Food Network). Well, wouldn’t you know it, my first week of participating, and we are making a soup!

soup close up

Before I get into the recipe, I just want to say this was super easy. None of the ingredients were hard to obtain, nothing was expensive, and there was literally no way to screw this up. So…if you are an odd-ball like me and have never made a soup, this is a great way to start.

I followed the recipe featured on Food Network pretty closely. The only differences: I did not add celery (probably the only vegetable I hate), in addition to zucchini, I added a summer squash, and I used an organic vegetable broth.

The soup is a nutritional powerhouse and yet only about 110 calories for a 1 1/2 cup serving. That’s what you call a superfood meal! The cannelloni beans, especially the mashed ones, bring a surprisingly rich and creamy flavor to the entire soup. I would recommend pairing the soup with a side of something, or else you will be hungry shortly.

full meal

What rounded out my meal: WW bread with laughing cow cheese, salsa, and spinach.


Am I the only one that’s never made soup before?

You may have seen the Healthy BBQ Pizza last week, and this is a continuation to that healthy game day party you just might throw.  There’s no reason to leave a Game Day party feeling gross and if you’re hosting not only does everyone leave feeling good but you have a chance to show others how to “make-over” traditional bar food into a healthier version.

To make a healthy buffalo wing, we went through 4 different recipes and enlisted 8 tasters. We tried everything: grilling, light frying, baking, broiling, panko, cornflakes, wings, breasts, sauces. (This effort is part of a bigger project: A healthy lifestyle blog for sports fans).

4 types of wings

As shocking as it was – the simplest of the four recipes was best. 2 ingredients and a few steps is all you need.


  • 24 Wings (used non frozen)
  • 1/2 cup Frank’s Buffalo Wing Sauce – (buffalo wing sauce is different that just hot sauce. It already includes the butter flavoring so you don’t actually have to use butter.)
  • Total Cost:  $10.18 – and that is for 24 wings.  Most bars charge almost that for just 12…


  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Prepare a baking sheet, broiler pan, basically anything that can go in the oven with out blowing up by placing some aluminum foil over it.  Place this pan in the center of the oven.
  3. Take the NAKED wings (don’t add sauce), place them on the aluminum foil and BAKE them for about 30 minutes or until the internal temperature is 165 degrees measured with a meat thermometer, but really, as men you should be able to eyeball when chicken is done by now
  4. Move the baking sheet to the top rack of the oven.
  5. BROIL the wings for ~10 minutes, Flip the wings, and BROIL for about ~5 minutes. You are looking for the wings to start to crisp up — but don’t burn them.  This step is the key to getting the wings crispy and tasting like they do at the bar.
  6. Remove wings from oven, and throw into a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup of buffalo wing sauce (just pour generously). Toss the wings around until they are thoroughly coated.

wings in bowl

Nutritional Information – about 100 calories per wing compared with the typical bar wing that is 180 calories.

If you’re smart, than by now you should be thinking what about the blue cheese? A blue cheese dunk adds an additional 90 calories to each bar wing, bringing a dozen wings (ordered at a bar) to a total of 3,240 calories.

To find a healthy dip we tried several low-fat and non-fat dressings, but the clear winner was a 2 ingredient homemade dip. (It was so good several tasters started eating it by the spoon full).


  • 1 container of non-fat Greek Yogurt (6 oz)
  • 1 small block of reduced fat Blue Cheese


  1. Using a grater, grate about 1/3 cup of blue cheese.
  2. Stir blue cheese into yogurt to give it a nice chunkiness.
  3. Store dip in fridge until ready to eat so it provides the coolness against the hot wings.

Nutritional Information – about 15 calories for a tablespoon. The traditional blue cheese dip at the bar is about 90 calories a tablespoon. Not bad, huh?

Do you have any healthy game day recipes you’d like to share?

Buffalo Chicken Wings on Foodista

Game Day isn’t something I identify with. I don’t have a favorite team. My moods aren’t affected by scores. However, there are hundreds of millions of people that love being sports fans. Sometimes these people are your friends and they want to come over and watch sports. When that happens, here is a great thing to serve: BBQ Chicken Pizza!

bbq pizza

This recipe is from a series of recipes that were developed for a new site: (Don’t Look Like A Lineman). This site is for the typical guy that loves beer and bar food but not the stomach tire and love-handles that come along with it. There’s thousands of healthy living sites for woman, but not very many practical ones for men. Check it out and please share with your male friends and significant others.

Shopping List

  • Whole Wheat Pita (comes in packs of 8, slice in half, make 16 individual pizzas.
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups Non-fat Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1 Chicken Breast
  • 1 Red Onion


  1. Chop chicken breast into small chunks.  Spray some non-stick canola oil into the pan and place chicken into frying pan with a little salt.  As you are cooking, pour some of the BBQ sauce into the pan and stir.  Should take about 5-7 min minutes until its cooked through
  2. Chop Onion
  3. Preheat oven to 400
  4. To assemble pizza- spread about 1 tbsp of bbq sauce on pita, spread handful of chicken and half a handful of onions on bbq sauce and cover with cheese
  5. Place pizzas on baking rack in center of the oven.  Bake for about 10 minutes and then change setting to broil
  6. Move the baking rack to the top of the oven.  Broil for about 5-7 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden brown
Nutritional Information125 Calories for 1 pita pizza (Compare that with the typical 350 calories per slice)


In my list of 10 Favorite Things About Fall, I listed brussels sprouts. So here they are! First recipe of the fall season with this nutritious veggie. A little about them:

  • Name is brussels sprout NOT brussel sprout as they are traced back in origin to Brussels, Belgium
  • Grow on a stalk and get quite tall – see above
  • Great source of vitamins A, C, and K. They contain iron, fiber, potassium, and B vitamins – Its safe to say this is a Superfood.

I love brussels sprouts roasted with olive oil and sea salt but decided to get a little more adventurous since there was plenty of time.

Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Walnuts


To Buy

  • 4 cups Brussels Sprouts (slice off bottom stem, and cut each in half )
  • 2 apples – I used 1 granny smith and 1 gala (peeled, seeded and sliced thinly)

In the Pantry

  • 1/4 cup toasted, crushed walnuts
  • 1/2 tsp of butter
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Sea salt (to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp Sage
  • 1/2 tsp Rosemary
  • 1 Cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg


1. Preheat oven to 375

2. In a large bowl, toss sprouts, olive oil, rosemary, thyme, and sea saltsprouts in pan

3. Bake in oven for 30-45 minutes, shaking every 10 minutes or so for even roasting

4. Meanwhile, on low heat heat up pan with small amount of butter and add apples, cinnamon stick, and nutmeg. Close lid and let natural juices from apple provide moisture during cooking time. Don’t let the apples get too mushy. About 10-15 minutes.

5. When Brussels Sprouts are done roasting, add apple mixture, and toasted walnuts. Serve immediately.

done roasting

This is a fairly time consuming dish – even though its not labor intensive. My family served this with grass-fed lamb and a very smooth Red Zinfandel. The flavors all worked perfectly together.

dinner table

Dessert was equally amazing. We chose to pick up the Fresh Fruit and Berry Florentina with Cognac Diplomat Cream from F.A.B. in Atlanta. The Florentina is a caramelized almond shell and our goal is to figure out how to re-create. If anyone has any idea, please let me know!


It makes sense that if I love food, my friends would also love food, right? I do have one friend that stands out in her love for a good meal. She’s my favorite foodie and the person I most like to be with for a culinary adventure. These adventures are few and far between as we deny ourselves nothing. My friend has entered a recipe competition and I’d love for her to win with this fabulous, hearty vegetarian dish. As a prize she’ll get some fun kitchen gadgets which will hopefully result in her making more fancy meals for me…Please help her win by voting.


The competition: The Kitchn’s Quick Weeknight Meals

How to vote: click here, register and give it a thumbs up (I promise they do not send any junk mail)

Deadline: September, 24th at 5pm EST

Here’s the recipe, directions, and a few words from Kasia:

“It takes just 20 minutes and this is my default lazy dish. Roasting the mushrooms bring out big woodsy flavors that play off the creaminess of the cheesy polenta and soft cooked egg, making this dish versatile enough for impromptu dinner guests or a ‘fancy’ meal for just one.”

Parmesan Polenta with Eggs and Roasted Mushrooms
Serves 3 (main course portions)

1 lb mushrooms
1/8 c olive oil
1/4 tsp pepper flakes
1/4 tsp coarse salt
1/2 c polenta
1 c milk
1 c water
pinch salt
1/2 c shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese
3 eggs
chives for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 475.
2. Chop mushrooms into 1/2 inch pieces.
3. Toss mushrooms with oil, pepper flakes, and salt on a baking sheet.
4. Spread in single layer and roast until browned, about 10 mins.
5. Meanwhile, whisk polenta, milk, water, and salt together in saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, covered.
6. After reaching a boil, turn heat to low and let sit with lid cracked for 15 minutes.
7. While polenta is cooking, heat nonstick skillet over medium heat and crack the eggs so that they are sunny side up.
8. Cook about a minute and then add a few tablespoons of water to the skillet. Water will sizzle – cover so the yolks steam and set to your liking. I like mine somewhat viscous so I wait for the steamed yolks to ‘skin’ over with egg white. This will happen naturally with the method above.
9. Mix Parmesean into polenta, plate on a dish, spoon mushrooms over and top with egg. Garnish with snipped chives. Eat and enjoy!

buckwheat with border

I’m a big fan of left-overs. Actually, I think left-overs is an inappropriate term. If I mean to cook multiple portions, is it really a left-over? So what I really mean to say is, I am a big fan of cooking once and letting the fruits of my labor feed me for days.  Just like the frittata in  Tupperware, I look for recipes that are high in nutrition, filling, and easy to make. And, of course, the recipe needs to be yummy if I’m going to eat it 6 times in 1 week.

This Asian flavored stir-fry fits all of my requirements. Its packed with good stuff like broccoli, peppers, ginger, mushrooms, tofu, and buckwheat. Its filling because its got the protein and carbohydrate components.

Inspired by NY Times


To buy:

  • 1 pound broccoli, crowns broken or cut into small florets, stems peeled and diced
  • 3 cups of chopped mushrooms (I used white, shitake, portabella)
  • 1 block of tofu (drain by pressing with heavy object for an hour)
  • 1 red pepper (thinly sliced)
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger (buy medium sized ginger root)
  • 2 cups soba noodles (buckwheat)

In the Pantry

  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar


  1. Bring a pot of water to boil and add soba noodles. They will cook very quickly, about 5 minutes.
  2. Heat a huge skillet or wok over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil, cook until hot.
  3. Turn the heat down to medium, add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute)
  4. Add broccoli, mushrooms, and red peppers. If there’s not enough moisture left, add water not oil.
  5. After veggies start to cook add red pepper flakes, salt, and any other spices you have on hand that fit into flavor. I added some sesame seeds for fun.
  6. Meanwhile, in another pan heat 1 tbsp sesame oil, and 2 tbsp soy sauce and add the tofu. Cook on both sides; You’ll know tofu is finished cooking when its soaked up all the liquid and is hard. Taste as a test; it cooks very quickly (2-3 minutes). Remove from heat.
  7. When veggies are almost done add soy sauce and the tofu. Mix everything up and let it finish cooking on low heat for a few minutes.
  8. Add soba noodles to the big mix and once everything cools a little, separate into containers. This made 6 portions for me.
  9. Mix mirin and rice vinegar with a whisk and pour equal parts of the mixture into each container. It will make a delicious addition to the flavors.

nutrition labelI like this stir-fry hot or cold. I ate it throughout the course of 1 week and it didn’t get any less tasty as the days went. It was easy to bring to work for lunch, and just as appropriate for dinner. I usually paired with a small side salad.

pumpkin with border

Have you ever seen those books of “Eat This, Not That”? I’m pretty sure they put muffins on the Not list. Looking at these stats, I can see why:

Whole Foods – Banana Nut Muffin

  • Calories: 510, Fat: 21g, Carbs: 77g, Sugar: 34g

Panera Bread – Pumpkin Muffin

  • Calories: 530, Fat: 20g, Carbs: 81g, Sugar: 47g

Starbucks – Banana Nut Muffin

  • Calories: 460, Fat: 22g, Carbs: 61g, Sugar: 40g

But, I want Muffins! So lets make healthy pumpkin muffins. In fact, lets make them as nutritious as oatmeal and as delicious as a cookie. Butter is replaced with banana and pumpkin butter, and I’ve used whole-wheat flour, oats, and a mix of pecans and walnuts.


  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 cups oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • ½ cup sucanat (or brown sugar)
  • ½ cup pumpkin
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup pecans and walnut mix


  1. Preheat oven to 400 and spray muffin pan with cooking spray
  2. Mix all wet ingredients in one bowl.
  3. Mix all dry ingredients in another. Create a hole in the middle and pour wet ingredient mix into the space.
  4. Fold ingredients together with as few stirs as possible. This will prevent to much air from getting in.
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until tops are golden brown.

Nutritional Info: One muffin come in at 180 calories, Fat 8g, Carbs 25g, Fiber 2g, 4g protein

To-go: They freeze easily so just stick in the freezer and grab with you to pop in the microwave when you’re ready to eat.

Cost:  $.40 a muffin!

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