RAVIOLI VEGETABLE LASAGNA

RAVIOLI VEGETABLE LASAGNA (3)

2 (26 oz) bags of frozen cheese ravioli, somewhat thawed
1 (12 oz) bag of frozen asparagus spears, thawed and cut into 1-2 inch pieces
1 (16oz) bag of frozen chopped spinach, thawed
2 small (1 large) yellow squash, thinly sliced
2 (16 oz) jars of prepared Alfredo sauce
2 c shredded Italian blend cheese

Line the bottom of a 13 X 9 inch baking dish (sprayed with nonstick cooking spray) with ravioli.  Distributed asparagus and spinach then layer yellow squash on top.  Layer the rest of the ravioli on top.  Pour white sauce over top.  Sprinkle with shredded cheese.  Cover and bake at 350 degrees F for about and hour.  Let sit about 5 minutes and serve.

THIS IS SO EASY AND A GREAT MEAL TO TAKE THE DAMP OUT OF A RAINY, COOL SUMMER DAY!  SERVED WITH CORN ON THE COB AND A FRESH SALAD!

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SPINACH, ROASTED RED PEPPERS AND ARTICHOKE PENNE

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1 pound penne rigate (I used whole wheat)
1 cup chicken broth
8 oz cream cheese (I used 1/3 less fat garden vegetable)
1 pound frozen chopped spinach, thawed
16 oz jar of roasted red peppers, drained and cut into strips*
1 can or jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped*
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 c shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese

*I don’t drain things too well so some of the juices get in the sauce!

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Cook pasta according to directions, drain and set aside.  In same pot bring chicken broth to boil and add dollops of cream cheese stirring to melt into a nice creamy sauce.  Add spinach, red pepper strips and artichokes and stir.  Return pasta to the pot and stir it all up.  Serve with cheeses on top and ENJOY!

I SERVED THIS WITH BBQ CHICKEN ON THE GRILL, CORN ON THE COB AND A BIG FRESH SALAD.

SPINACH AND MUSHROOM STUFFED PORK CHOPS

I COOKED MINE IN THE CROCK POT BUT THESE CAN EASILY BE BAKED IN THE OVEN

1 lb thin sliced pork loin chops (8 chops)
4 oz can sliced mushrooms, drained
8 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained if needed
1/2 c chopped onion
1/4 c Parmesan cheese
1/4 c shredded mozzarella cheese
1 egg
3/4 c chicken broth
8 oz cream cheese, softened (low fat is great but I only had spicy jalapeno which was fun!)

Mix together mushrooms, spinach, onion and cheeses in a large mixing bowl. Add egg and mix well.

Scoop about 1/4 c of mixture in the middle of each chop. Roll up and fasten with a toothpick. Place in the bottom of the crock pot. Add about 1/4 cup of the chicken broth. Cook on LOW for 4 hours.

In microwave safe bowl combine chicken broth and cream cheese cook on HIGH 1 minute and stir or whisk. Cook on HIGH another minute or until cream cheese melts and creates a creamy sauce.

I SERVED THESE CHOPS WITH LONG GRAIN AND WILD RICE TO WHICH I ADDED ANY LEFT OVER SPINACH AND MUSHROOM STUFFING I HAD, GREEN BEANS AND A BIG SALAD. THE SAUCE WAS DELICIOUS AND SPICY OVER THE CHOPS AND RICE! IT WOULD HAVE BEEN PRETTY AND FUN TO MAKE SOME BAKED APPLE SLICES WITH THIS DISH AS WELL!

BAKED APPLE SLICES

1 apple, cored and sliced
non-stick cooking spray (I used butter flavor)
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Place apple slices in a baking dish. Lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.  Bake in 350 F oven for about 10 minutes so they are still crispy.  I had a few sliced pecans that I added but walnuts and/or raisins woould be great too!

SALAD SUNDAE

Salad Sundae

I CALL THIS SALAD SUNDAE BECAUSE IT IS MORE LIKE A DESERT THAN A SALAD!
10 oz Baby Spinach
1 Qt Strawberries, sliced ( add a touch of sugar)
4 oz crumbled blue cheese
1/3 c pine nuts
8 oz Kraft Signature Collection Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing

SERVE WITH GRILLED FISH, CHICKEN, PORK OR STEAK!

BREAKFAST WITH SUPERFOODS

oatmeal with fruit

A healthy breakfast is important for everyone to give you energy to start the day and get your metabolism going.  Get the morning nutrition you need with these quick breakfast ideas.
• Make instant oatmeal with low-fat milk instead of water. Toss in raisins or dried cranberries and chopped walnuts.
• Layer low-fat plain yogurt with your favorite crunchy cereal and blueberries.
• Blend a breakfast smoothie with low-fat milk, frozen strawberries and a banana.
• Make one packet of microwave oatmeal with low-fat milk. Mix in 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce. Sprinkle with apple pie spice or cinnamon.
• Top a toaster waffle with low-fat yogurt and peach slices.
• Stuff a whole-wheat pita with a sliced, hard-cooked egg and low-fat shredded cheese.
• Spread a flour tortilla with peanut butter. Add a whole banana and roll it up.
• Spread low-fat cream cheese on a whole-grain toasted bagel. Top with sliced strawberries.
• Add lean ham and low-fat Swiss cheese to a toasted whole-grain English muffin.

Springtime Cereal

breakfast
Makes 2 servings
3⁄4 cup wheat and barley nugget cereal
1⁄4 cup 100% bran cereal
2 tsp toasted sunflower seeds
2 tsp toasted almonds, sliced
1 tbsp raisins or craisins
1⁄2 cup bananas, sliced
1 cup strawberries, sliced
1 cup raspberry or strawberry yogurt, low-fat
Mix the wheat and barley nugget cereal, bran cereal, sunflower seeds and almonds in a medium bowl. Add raisins, bananas and half of the strawberries. Gently stir in the yogurt and divide between two bowls. Scatter the remaining strawberries over the top and enjoy!
Nutrition Information per serving:
Calories: 352
Fat: 6 g
Saturated fat: 1 g
Carbohydrate: 69 g
Sodium: 272 mg
Fiber: 8 g

Granola you can take on the go!

granola

1/3 c vegetable oil
1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c honey
1 tsp cinnamon
6 c rolled oats
2 c nuts (pecans, walnuts, slivered almonds, sunflower seeds)
1-2 c dried fruit (raisins, craisins, apricots, bananas)

Combine first four ingredients and microwave on high until you have a nice syrup (less than a minute usually).  Mix remaining ingredients in a large bowl.  Drizzle brown sugar syrup over top and mix well.  Spread on waxed paper lined cookie sheets.  Bake 275 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour until golden brown.  Store in air tight containers or zip lock bags.

Have granola on its own or serve over plain nonfat yogurt or Greek yogurt.  Add a fruit cup and even a dollop of fat free whipped topping!!

WHAT ARE SUPERFOODS?

Superfoods are foods that are dense in nutrients and antioxidants that provide many health benefits.  They have deep colors like those of the rainbow.  Some examples are strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, spinach, kale, collard greens, broccoli, carrots and squash.

TRY THIS SUPERFOOD SMOOTHIE FOR A QUICK BREAKFAST!

smoothie

8 c baby spinach or kale
1 c pomegranate juice
1 cup blueberries, frozen if not in season
1 cup strawberries, frozen if not in season
8 dates, cut in half
2 Tbsp flaxseeds, ground
1/2 avocado, optional

Blend all ingredients together – serves 2 in just 5 minutes!

THE POWER OF KALE!

  • Great source of antioxidants:  Sulforaphane is released when you chew kale.  It is a cancer fighting agent and increases the activity of antioxidants.
  • Low in calories, ideal for weight loss
  • Great source of Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Beta-Carotene

EVEN A QUICK BREAKFAST CAN BE PACKED WITH NUTRITION AND PREPARE YOUR MIND AND BODY FOR A BUSY DAY!

THE RAW FACTS

vegetables

Have you always wondered how to prepare vegetables in order to maximize their nutritional content? There’s no easy answer, since some produce is most nutritious cooked, while other kinds do not need heat to bring out the best in them. Here is how to get the most from the farmers’ picks.

Onions

Just slice and eat them raw. You get less of the phytonutrient allicin, a hunger busting ingredient when you cook onions. On the other hand, they contain a flavonoid known as quercetin. It has anti inflammatory properties. Total amount of flavonoids can be increased by cooking. Yellow and red onions have more flavonoids than white ones. Sauté or bake onions for five minutes; any longer and the onion will begin to lose nutrients.

Broccoli

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Eat it raw. Heating deactivates myrosinase, an enzyme that helps cleanse your liver of carcinogens. Broccoli or other cruciferous veggies, such as cabbage, cauliflower, kale and Brussels sprouts are good examples of vegetables which should be eaten both cooked and raw. Raw broccoli contains an enzyme called myrosinase which breaks down into sulforaphane, a compound helping to prevent cancer and stomach ulcers. Cooking damages myrosinase. On the other hand, cooking forms the compound indole in cruciferous veggies. It is a phytonutrient that fights precancerous cells before they turn malignant.

Beets

RAW1

Eat them raw. Beets lose more than 30 percent of their folate while cooking. Eating them raw will store this brain compound.

Mushrooms

Eat them cooked. Whether you heat, sauté, boil, roast or grill them, more muscle-building potassium will be brought out.

Red peppers

RAW4

Eat them raw. Their vitamin C breaks down while roasting, frying, or grilling above 370 degrees. Red peppers are high in vitamin C that is nutrient soluble in water. By boiling or cooking red peppers, the vitamins dissolve in the water. It is best to eat red peppers raw.

Spinach

SPINACH LEAVES

Eat it cooked. Have spinach cooked and you will absorb more iron, calcium and magnesium. Though raw spinach is still good, cooking makes it easier for your body to absorb the calcium it contains. Calcium is essential for teeth and bone strength, so make sure you get the most out of the spinach. Steam your spinach rather than boiling it to avoid losing nutrients.

Tomatoes

tomatoes

Eat them cooked. Are you surprised? When you eat cooked tomatoes, your body absorbs more cancer fighting lycopene. Tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant linked to the prevention of cancer and other chronic diseases. Researchers have found that lycopene molecules change tomatoes’ shape, which makes them more usable by the body. The amount of lycopene in tomatoes is higher and it is better absorbed by the body after cooking with a little oil, and particularly processing, rather than eaten fresh or raw.

Carrots

Raw carrots supply polyphenols, chemicals with antioxidant properties thought to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. Boiling carrots destroys all the polyphenols as well as cooking, which breaks down the vitamin C found in carrots. This vitamin is easily degraded when exposed to heat. It is said that cooked carrots supply more of the antioxidant ß-carotene than raw ones. Your body converts this antioxidant to vitamin A.

Garlic

RAW

Cooking makes the herb garlic less potent because heat reduces the amount of healthy allicin, so it is best to add your garlic just before you finish cooking rather than at the start. Garlic contains chemicals that relax your blood vessels, helping to protect you from heart attack. Cooking garlic reduces the amount of these vital chemicals, so it is better to enjoy garlic raw.

WHEN IT COMES TO VEGETABLES, FRESH IS GENERALLY BEST BUT SOMETIMES A BIT OF STEAMING/COOKING MAY ALLOW VITAMINS AND MINERALS TO BE MORE EASILY ABSORBED BY THE BODY.

MY RULE OF THUMB: FRESH THEN FROZEN THEN CANNED BUT MOST IMPORTANT IS THAT YOU EAT 5-7 SERVINGS OF FRUITS AND VEGETABLES EACH DAY!

HAPPY CRUNCHING!

5 SUPER REFRESHING FOODS

Slugging water isn’t the only way to stay hydrated!

You can get 20% to 25% of your daily water intake from food. A high percentage of fruits and vegetables weight comes from water AND they are packed with nutrition.

Cantaloupe: 90% of its weight is water yet this fruit contains 30 times more beta-carotene than oranges!

eggplant

Eggplant: 92% water weight, it draws its color from plant pigments called anthocyanins, antioxidants that protect our cells!

Spinach: 92% water, can be eaten raw or cooked (look for some of my upcoming recipes) and is very rich in antioxidants. Great source of potassium, folate (any women planning on getting pregnant should eat lots!), and magnesium. Did you know all these nutrients also help keep blood pressure down.

Slice of Watermelon

Watermelon: 92% Water but super high in lycopene, a phytonutrient important for cardiovascular and bone health (all you 50’s and older folks). Lycopene may also help protect against some cancers.

yellow pepper

Yellow Pepper: 92% water too plus 184mg of Vitamin C which is 307% of the Daily Value.