Two a Healthy Life

One couple on a mission to become healthy


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Minestrone Soup

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Nathaniel saw this recipe in Runner’s World magazine and it quickly became one of our healthy life staples. As I was eating a bowl of it today I thought I would share the recipe with all of you. This soup is so delicious I might serve it at a dinner party in the future!

Ingredients:

2 quarts good-quality vegetable broth
1 14.5-ounce can petite-diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, cut into small dice
1 celery stalk, cut into small dice
1 peeled carrot, cut into small dice
2 teaspoons Italian seasonings
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
2 cans (15 to 16 ounces each) small white beans, not drained
8 ounces frozen green peas
8 ounces coarsely chopped escarole
1 cup ditalini (or any bite-size pasta)
Sprinkle of salt and ground black pepper

Directions:

Microwave broth and tomatoes together on high until steaming (5 minutes).

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large pot. Add onions, celery, and carrots; saute till tender (5 minutes). Add Italian seasonings and red pepper; saute until fragrant (one minute).

Add broth mixture and remaining ingredients; cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low; continue to simmer, partially covered and stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft and pasta is tender (15 minutes). Serves eight.

CALORIES PER SERVING: 220
CARBS: 41 G
FIBER: 10 G
PROTEIN: 10 G
FAT: 4 G


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Cranberry Pecan Carrot Couscous

 A few years ago as I was searching for Thanksgiving side-dish ideas I came across a New York Times recipe for couscous with cranberries, pecans and carrots. I love this dish because it has bright clean flavors that help balance out fatty meals.

Saturday Nathaniel and I had his co-worker and his co-workers wife over for dinner and this was one of the sides I prepared. I doubled the recipe which made WAY more than four adults could reasonably eat at dinner time.

Some of the leftovers made for a great light lunch today.

Tip- Since there is so much chopping involved I suggest you prep all the ingredients before you start making the rest of your meal. If everything is chopped and ready to go this dish only takes another 10 minutes to put together.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 cup couscous

Salt

2 large carrots grated

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries

1/4 cup chopped scallions

1/4 cup olive oil (or more as needed)

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon (or more juice as needed)

1 teaspoon coriander

Black pepper
to taste

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage (or 1 teaspoon dried)

1. Put the couscous in a small pot and add 1 1/2 cups water and a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil, then cover and remove from the heat. Let steep for at least 10 minutes, or up to 20.

2. Put the slightly cooled couscous in a large salad bowl along with the carrots, pecans, cranberries, scallions, oil and lemon zest and juice, and sprinkle with the spices and salt and pepper. Use 2 big forks to combine, fluffing the couscous and tossing gently to separate the grains. (The salad can be made up to this point and refrigerated for up to a day; bring to room temperature before proceeding.)

3. Stir in the parsley and sage. Taste and adjust the seasoning, moisten with a little more oil and lemon juice as you like, and serve.

Yield: 4 servings.


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Veggie Tacos

This is not so much of a recipe as it is a meal alteration suggestion because you can interpret it in a million ways.

Last night I really wanted tacos but I can’t eat meat during the week and tortillas are calorie bombs. The average flour tortilla used to make burritos at taquerias has 300 calories. Corn tortillas while a much healthier option just aren’t worth it at nearly 100 calories each.

Meal suggestion – even if you want to make all the same taco fillings you normally would try using butter lettuce leaves instead of tortillas. Each leaf has 1 calorie (awesome) and I think I prefer them to corn tortillas (which I’ve never been a fan of anyway).

Tonight for dinner we had black bean tacos.

Ingredients:

3 cups drained black beans

1 cup drained whole kernel corn

Pico De Gallo

2 butter lettuces

Cheese

Sriracha / tapatio

Directions:

1. Mix beans and corn together and heat on medium

2. While beans and corn are heating wash and tear leaves off of lettuce (discard outer wilted pieces)

3. Stack leaves on plates and spoon bean mixture into bowls

(serves 2)

Serve leaves and beans with your choice of toppings – which in our case was pico de gallo, sriracha, tapatio and cheese.

***Pico de Gallo ( 2oz. / 15 calories) is available fresh at most grocery stores and is simply a blend of chopped onions, tomato, jalapeño peppers and cilantro. You can make it yourself or just buy it.


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Curry Tofu Spinach Soup

I wanted to make a quick soup with tofu because we need to start getting more protein in our diet. Per serving this soup has over 28g of protein and about 220 calories.

I used spinach instead of baby bok choy because I realize it may not be easy to get in the mid-west or Europe. However – feel free to use bok choy if you can find it.

Ingredients:

3 cup low sodium vegetable or chicken stock

1 cup thinly sliced white onion (about ¼ of a medium onion)

2.5 cups baby spinach

1 cup sliced shitake mushrooms.

3oz. Organic firm tofu (1/4 inch cubes)

¼ tsp. Sriracha (or more depending on your taste)

2 tsp. red curry

Directions:

1. Add chicken stock and onion to a medium saucepan and bring to boil over high heat

2. Once broth is boiling turn heat to low and add sriracha / red curry – stir till combined.

3. Add sliced mushrooms and cubed tofu.

4. Once mushrooms are done (about 2 minutes) add spinach and stir till spinach is wilted and tender.

5. Serve.

(Makes one large serving)


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Red Lentils vs. Top Ramen

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I don’t do it every week but a delicious super quick meal I occasionally make for myself is boiled red lentils.

I didn’t know red lentils existed until a few months ago when a curried lentil dish I found online listed them as an ingredient- they are healthier than “regular” lentils and cook a lot faster.

Yesterday I threw a cup of red lentils into a regular saucepan with water and random seasonings – then boiled them until they were tender and had absorbed most of the water.

The end result was a nicely flavored thick stew of protein with a great flavor that I ate for lunch yesterday and today.

Ready in around 30 minutes each serving is only about 140 calories and has 16g of protein.

Also – red lentils only have half as many carbs as rice.

What I used:

1 cup red lentils

water

2 tsp. Chicken Bouillon (high in sodium so be careful)

1/8 tsp. white pepper

¼ tsp. garlic powder

½ tsp. curry powder

Speaking of quick meals – Something to think about:

You know those plastic bags of instant noodles by Maruchan and Top Ramen?

Each of those bags is considered “2 servings” and has 380 calories, 14g fat, 52g carbs and only 10g of protein.

1 cup of lentils makes a REAL 2 servings but altogether it is 280 calories, 0g fat, 76 carbs and 32g of protein.

A ½ cup of the red lentils makes me feel full but when was the last time someone made one of those plastic bags of soup and only ate half of it? Never?


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Healthy Mexican Inspired Veggie Soup

 

 

Nathaniel and I used to eat fideo a lot. For those of you who don’t know, fideo is a Mexican soup that has pasta in it. Since step one of making fideo is stir-frying the noodles we haven’t had it since I moved back to California.

I wanted to make a healthier soup that had all the flavors of fideo in it: onions, cilantro, garlic, tomato etc. and this is what I came up with.

Also- I made the decision to use canned beans and corn for convenience to our readers. I understand sorting and cooking beans for hours is something I am used to doing but that many of you are not.

Makes 4-6 servings.

At 4 servings (using chicken broth) it is 217 calories per serving with only 2.25g fat

Next time I am going to make it with vegetable broth.

If you aren’t counting calories as much as we are corn tortilla quesadillas and avocado would make a nice side.

Ingredients:

½ Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 small onion diced

4 small zucchini cut into bite sized pieces

Handful of cherry tomatoes cut in half

1 tbsp. of loosely packed and torn cilantro

15 oz. can Black Beans (drained)

15 oz. can corn (drained)

8 oz. tomato sauce

32 oz. chicken or vegetable broth

½ tsp. Chipotle Chili Powder (or something else you prefer like cayenne)

2.5 tsp. garlic salt

**Suggested but not necessary: Limes can be served on the side

  1. Heat ½ tsp Olive Oil on medium heat in a large pot. Once hot add onions and stir frequently.
  2. Once onions are soft add all other ingredients to the pot – turn up heat and bring to a boil
  3. Remove from heat once zucchini is tender (less than 10 min.).
  4. Blend half of soup and then pour back into a pot – let cool slightly and serve.


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Best Vegetarian Sandwich

How to make the most delicious vegetarian sandwich you will ever have…

About a month ago I visited Outerlands in San Francisco with my friend Lauren and had a delicious almost vegetarian sandwich. I wanted to re-create it home but Nathaniel insisted I stick to our vegetarian Monday-Friday routine.

In doing a version of the Outerlands sandwich I invented one of our favorite healthy meals although today was only the second time I’ve made it.

I will list the steps separately but if you can multi-task with two skillets by all means do it. 8 steps looks like a lot of steps but it’s really not – I was just really detail orientated in how I broke it down.

Ingredients:

2 small zucchini

1 small yellow onion

1 granny smith apple

5 oz. shitake mushrooms

4 slices of low fat cheese

2 large slices of sourdough bread from a round loaf (or whatever bread you prefer)

Olive oil

1 tablespoon of butter

Salt and Pepper

***Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

  1. Thinly slice one small onion as you melt 1tbsp of butter on a skillet (low heat). Once the butter is melted toss in the onion and stir it every once in a while as you do steps 2-6.
  2. Slice your zucchini into ¼ inch wide strips or ¼ inch rounds and place on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with PAM
  3. Slice an apple into 6 ¼ inch rounds and place on another baking sheet that has also been sprayed with PAM
  4. Pour about 1 table spoon of olive oil onto a small plate, dip a fork into the oil and use the fork tongs to lightly dot olive oil on top of the apple slices and zucchini.
  5. Salt and pepper the zucchini before sliding the two trays into the oven. Zucchini and apple can be taken out of the oven when they are easily pierced with a fork (10-15 minutes).
  6. After you get the zucchini and apples into the oven your onion should be almost done. When the onions have caramelized to your liking place them off to the side in a small bowl.
  7. Add the shitake mushrooms to the same pan you cooked the onions in and cook on medium-low until soft (5-6 minutes)
  8. Once the zucchinis, apple, onions and mushrooms are cooked you are ready to layer them on top of your bread with cheese and broil for 10-15 minutes.

From the bottom layer up I constructed them: bread, cheese, apple, onions, mushrooms, zucchini and cheese. Each piece of bread only had 2 slices of low fat cheese on them and as you can see by the photo it was more than enough.

I washed dishes as the cheese melted atop the sandwiches so after dinner we only had two plates to wash.

Total time: 40 minutes and I wasn’t hurrying.

Makes 2 servings. Each Serving: Approx. 400 calories and less than 10g fat.

We paired ours tonight with a salad.

Enjoy!


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Apple Chips

Here is a recipe that I came across a couple of days ago that sounded super easy and is something I have bought in the past to snack on; Apple Chips!

In the store you can buy them by the bag, and while they are tasty, why eat preservatives when you can make them yourself for virtually no cost.  They turned out delicious and they are a great addition to take on hikes or walks as they wont go bad (or get bruised).

Ingredients: 1-2 large apples (of any variety), 1 lemon

Directions:

Preheat over to 200 degrees.

Cut the apple(s) into 1/4 inch slices (as best as you can) and put into a pan lined with parchment paper.  Once all the slices are cut, drizzle lemon juice on them (I assume this is to keep them from oxidizing as they dry), I would squeeze the lemon on them and then use the fibers of the lemon as a paint brush to paint it on the slices.

Bake in oven for two hours, turning the slices over in the middle.

Notes: depending on how thick you slice the apples will determine how long they should bake.  If you want soft (more like dehydrated apple slices) then bake on a lower temperature for less time, for a more “chip” like texture then bake them for the time recommended.  Just keep an eye on them near the end of the second hour as they may begin to burn.  USE THE PARCHMENT PAPAER, thinner slices will stick to the pan.

Slices ready to go in the oven
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Delicious Apple Chips (with as many calories as the apple you used, generally between 50-100)

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An ode to the omelet!

I love omelets, especially the kind that cost $15 at restaurants and come with sour cream, avocado, bacon and all that other delicious stuff… mmm…

One whole egg however nearly maxes out your recommended daily cholesterol intake.

I started making omelets at home because they are delicious and restaurants overcharge for them.

I started making egg white omelets because an omelet with 5 whole eggs will eventually kill you.

Each egg white only has 16 calories while the yolk has 54 along with most of the egg’s cholesterol and protein.

My lunch today was an almost egg white omelet (it had one yolk) filled with spinach, onion, 1 serving of feta and a sliced tomato on the side. You can obviously customize yours anyway you want and have it for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Total calories for lunch: 230 with 24.3g protein

Quick Tips on making an omelet:

  1. You should cook your eggs on medium to medium high heat
  2. Make sure your pan is up to heat before you place your eggs inside of it – if you take too much time cooking the omelet it will dry out
  3. Allow it to half cook before you add your spinach, feta, mushrooms etc…
  4. Make sure you are using a nonstick pan and/or nonstick spray because folding your omelet will be a disaster if it sticks (French people will tell you to use a lot of butter to coat the pan which will taste better but also defeat the purpose of making an egg white omelet)

For more omelet tips read this blog entry on bonappétit.com

***Note: If I ever talk about making something you want to try and you don’t understand my directions ask me to clarify.  I will do a step-by-step how to either with photos or a video.


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Soup: Carrot Ginger

Nathaniel and I eat a lot of soup for a few reasons: It’s filling, it can be really low in calories and you can make a whole lot of it at once. Nathaniel takes soup to work for lunch nearly everyday and I usually have the same thing at home.

But- I also really love cooking and trying new recipes.

Yesterday I tried a new recipe for carrot ginger soup from The Vegan Table: 200 Unforgettable Recipes for Entertaining Every Guest at Every Occasion by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. It turned out delicious which is why I decided to share it here.

This soup is even healthier than the lentil soup we usually eat so I predict you will see it mentioned with frequency in the future.

I just purchased ‘The Vegan Table’ (although I am not vegan) because it has great photos and health information for every recipe which makes choosing new and healthy recipes easier than some other cookbooks do. Also – you can always adapt the recipes for your own lifestyle.

For example: I used low sodium chicken stock instead of vegetable stock and the feta was added for the photo but it tasted great on top.

Carrot Ginger Soup

(Yield: 4 Servings)

7 or 8 large carrots, peeled and cut into rounds

1 large yellow onion, diced or sliced

2 medium yukon gold potatoes quartered

2 tsp ginger minced

2 garlic cloves minced

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

salt and pepper to taste

(If you stay true to the recipe and use vegetable stock each serving only has 145 calories and 2 g fat)

  1. Sautee onions in a medium to large put using either butter olive oil or water (water is used in original recipe)
  2. Once Onions are soft add potatoes, garlic, ginger and carrots to the pot.
  3. Pour in enough liquid (chicken or vegetable stock) until vegetables are covered
  4. Simmer ingredients until carrots and potatoes are easily pierced with a fork
  5. Blend all ingredients in a blender till you have a nice thick soup – you can add more stock to thin the soup if you wish
  6. Season to taste and enjoy!