BBQ Kettle Chip-Encrusted Salmon!

Let me start by saying this is my favorite, delicious, easiest, any-night-of-the-week meal that requires virtually no cooking talent or experience!

Okay, I know what you might be thinking — the dietitian eats potato chips?! The answer is “occasionally” of course! Haha. That’s the R.D. in me talking. The truth is, my husband loves them and so do my boys, so sometimes I just have to buy them, right? The problem is, if I bring those darn mesquite barbeque kettle chips into the house, they don’t last long.  I suppose having them in my house at all makes me feel I need to justify their guilty pleasure and presence, and one evening I got this idea … It turned out to be a huge score with both the kids and my husband (and myself!)  This has to be the simplest way to get everyone to eat salmon and enjoy it. It’s honestly the best feeling when everyone gets up to leave the table, and each carries an empty plate to the sink — not because they were forced to “clean” it, but because they devoured what was on it.  So no, I’m not at all embarrassed to admit I buy those oh-so-yummy chips and eat them too, particularly since I came up with what my husband calls the best salmon he’s ever eaten! Wow, that was easy. Why try to impress (him) with a beurre blanc when I can dip some salmon fillets in milk and crushed potato chips?!

Try this, you’ll LOVE it and I’m hoping your kids do too! My menu is:

BBQ Kettle Chip-Encrusted Salmon
served with green beans and brown rice

It should take you 30 minutes from the start to sitting down at the table ready to dig in.  Go!

BBQ Kettle Chip-Encrusted Salmon  (serves 4)

1 lb. fresh salmon fillet
1/2 cup milk
2 cups BBQ (mesquite or similar) kettle-cooked potato chips

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rinse salmon, pat dry and then cut into 4 even slices.
2. Pour milk into a shallow dish and chips into a large bowl. Crush the chips with bottom of measuring glass. Alternatively, pour chips into a Ziploc bag, seal and crush, then pour into bowl.
3. Dip each salmon fillet into milk and then into crushed chips, coating the fish but not the skin side. Place fillets on baking tray. Cover with remaining chips if there are any.
4. Bake for 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Note: I find there’s no need for salt or pepper with these. So simple, so good… ENJOY!

The BBQ Kettle Chip-Encrusted Salmon is so simple, so good… ENJOY!

Tilapia: The Family-Friendly Fish

 by Susan Greeley, MS, RD

 Tilapia: The Family-Friendly Fish

In a world where more than 70 percent of the globe is covered with water, fish is a readily available food.  As consumers catch on to its health benefits; however, the global demand for fish is steadily increasing while our seas are being overfished. As a fish eater myself and mother of four looking to feed my family right, I’ve looked into what sources provide “family friendly” fish from nutritional, environmental, and consumer standpoints. I’m voting for farmed tilapia on this one for several reasons.

Tilapia Helps Battle the Bulge 
When looking for lean protein sources, it’s hard to beat tilapia. It’s low in calories and fat but still offers some “good” omega-3 fatty acids.  Tilapia’s nutrient profile makes it a great choice for a satisfying, delicious fish that won’t expand your waistline.  A healthy 6-ounce serving has under 200 calories with 34 grams of protein. What’s more, a recent study in the Journal of Functional Foods suggests that fish protein may suppress appetite by stimulating the release of certain peptides during digestion that are known to decrease appetite.  For years, dieters and weight-conscious consumers have been choosing fish over beef for its lower calorie and saturated fat content, but if eating fish can help reduce overeating, its potential weight loss and weight management benefits could be invaluable.

Sustainability: Choose Tilapia
In researching sustainable fish, I’ve found that responsible aquaculture, such as that used in Ecuador (where we get most of our farmed tilapia in the U.S.), provides one of the safest (non-contaminated) and most Earth-friendly fish around. Fish is raised in a low-density environment that allows them to grow in a stress- and disease-free environment, eliminating the need for chemicals and antibiotics.  Farmed fish is also a good alternative to wild-caught because it takes pressure off wild fisheries. In other words, farmed tilapia is a smart food choice for a fresh fish that keeps the planet and us healthy. Read more about sustainability of tilapia here.

Consumers Reap Benefits of Tilapia
In addition to being safe and healthful nutritionally, farm-raised tilapia is a family-friendly fish. It’s more affordable than wild-caught fish — a factor that ranks high on the list of what matters most to cost-conscious consumers. That’s good news for families on a tight budget that don’t want to sacrifice nutrition and health.

When it comes to eating fish, tilapia is also a favorite because of its mild flavor and texture.  The fillets are a great pick for kids since they have no bones.  What parents appreciate is that tilapia fillets on the table help make dinner stress-free — no choking worries or food wasted!

Go (Outdoor) Gourmet
Winter is over, and as we move to more outdoor living, this easy recipe can be made on the grill, a campfire or in the kitchen. Use local or even home-grown herbs and tomatoes if you have them.  Either way, this simple, fresh fish dish is sure to please the whole family — and it can help keep you out of the kitchen on warm weather days!


Summer Garden Tilapia (serves 4)

4 6-oz tilapia fillets

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped

6 Roma (plum) tomatoes, diced

1/2 fennel bulb, cut into small, thin slices

1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped

12 fresh basil leaves

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1. Cut 2 large pieces of parchment paper and 2 large pieces of aluminum foil. Place parchment paper on top of foil. Rinse fresh tilapia fillets, pat dry, and place 2 fillets on each piece of parchment paper.

2. Light the grill. Alternatively, preheat oven to 400 degrees.

3. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat and add garlic, tomatoes, fennel and parsley. Add 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper. Stir and let cook, stirring around pan occasionally, for 8 minutes.

4. Sprinkle fish with remaining salt and pepper. Place 3 basil leaves on each fillet, then spoon tomato mixture evenly over fish, avoiding adding all the liquid from tomato mixture.

5. Fold paper and foil over fish and close. Place on grill over indirect flame and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until fish is white and tender. Alternatively, cook in oven for 15 minutes.

Nutrition information per serving:
260 Cals, 36 g Pro, 7 g CHO, 10 g Fat, 2 g Sat. Fat, 400 g Na, 3 g Fiber

 

 

Souper Foods to Stave Off Cold and Flu

by Susan Greeley, MS, RD

Getting through the long, cold, harsh winter months without a bout of the flu or nagging cold may seem impossible despite downing megadoses of vitamin C and creating a cracked desert on your palms from obsessively slathering on hand sanitizer.  By focusing on some “superfoods” and lifestyle basics, however, you’re upping your chances of reaching spring unscathed by illness. That means focusing on a diet rich in nutrients that come from some fresh but basic, inexpensive and readily available foods. (Don’t forget to complement a super diet with plenty of rest, fresh air and exercise as well.)

You may be familiar with the term “superfoods” already, which is “a non-medical term popularized in the media to refer to foods that can have health-promoting properties, such as reducing one’s risk of disease or improving any aspect of physical or emotional health.” (www.medicinenet.com.) The foods deemed “super” have a high concentration of antioxidants, vitamins, or other nutrients.

While there is no defined list, some of my picks include: garlic, onions, fennel, celery, carrots, broccoli, arugula, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, all greens (mustard, beet, turnip, chard, collards and kale to name a few,) fresh herbs, cabbage, sweet potatoes, ginger, green teas, lemons, beets, parsley, avocados, apples (with the skin on!), berries, oranges, grapefruit, melons, grapes, nuts, … the list is potentially endless.  The bottom line — it’s easy to get superfoods in your diet, but even easier when you combine several into one delicious, nutritious super soup!

In addition to my favorite lentil soups, here are two new quick and easy recipes to enjoy superfoods and stay healthy all winter long.

Yellow Split Pea & Sweet Potato Stew
by Susan Greeley  Total time 1 hour

As I say, “Legumes for Life!”  Dried peas are loaded with fiber, protein, complex carbohydrates and some vitamin A.  Combine them with other potent cancer-fighting vegetables, herbs and spices, and you have a phytochemical award-winning creation.

2 cups dry yellow split peas
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion, peeled and chopped
2 cups sliced baby portabella mushrooms
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 quart vegetable broth (chicken broth for non-vegetarians)
3 cups water
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
1 tsp. salt (sea salt or other)
1/4 fresh cilantro leaves or Italian parsley (more if desired)
Black pepper to taste

1. Rinse the peas and remove any small stones.

2. Heat olive oil in a large pot, add onion and cook for about 3 minutes.

3. Add split peas, mushrooms, cumin, and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce to low heat and simmer for 25 minutes.

4. Add water, sweet potato chunks, salt, cilantro and a little pepper. Simmer for another 25-30 minutes.  Season to taste and serve.  Top with a few cilantro leaves to garnish.

 

Get creative:  Flavor combinations for legumes like split peas and lentils are cumin, cilantro, bay leaves, ginger and lemon.  There are others, but any of these will always enhance them.

 

Super Simple Scrumptious Stew!
Beef is not verboten, particularly when it’s lean and grass-fed. Enjoy it in a stew that combines superfood tomatoes (yes, the paste counts!), fennel, carrots and onion.  If you’re feeling creative, add some different vegetables, such as chopped kale or collard greens, or even some white or red beans.

3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1-lb pkg stew meat (“organic” or grass-fed beef chunks)
1/4 cup or more flour
1/2 tsp each sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder
2 Tbsp beef bouillon (no MSG) or 1 liter beef broth
1 large fennel bulb, chopped into chunks
4 large carrots, peeled and chopped into chunks
4 or 5 large Russet potatoes, paired and chopped into chunks
2 Tbsp tomato paste
6 cups water
Sea salt and black pepper

1. Heat olive oil in Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat. Pat meat dry with paper towels.

2. Pour flour, salt, pepper and garlic powder into a zip loc bag, then add beef chunks.  Add beef to pan and cook, stirring to brown on all sides, 5 minutes.

3. Add powdered beef bouillon and 3 cups water or just the beef broth.

4. Add chopped fennel, carrots, potatoes, tomato paste, bay leaves and 6 cups water.  Let simmer 1 hour or until all vegetables and beef are tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

 

Garden Ratatouille

Summertime is the best and easiest time to get fresh  vegetables in your diet.  Skip high-fat eggplant parmesan and go for this instead.  You can make this all summer with local eggplant and  zucchini and rosemary out of your own garden if you have it!

Garden Ratatouille
Recipe by Susan Greeley, MS, RD

1 medium eggplant, sliced

3 Tbsp. olive oil

2 zucchini (summer squash), cut in small chunks

1 large red onion, sliced

1 (28-oz) can low-sodium crushed (or diced) tomatoes

2 large sprigs fresh rosemary

1 tsp. salt

Pepper to taste

Fresh Parmesan cheese

 

  1. Place sliced eggplant in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Allow to sit about 10 minutes, then rinse and pat dry.  Cut each eggplant slice into fours.
  2. Put olive oil in a large, deep heavy skillet and heat over medium heat.
  3. Add zucchini, onion and eggplant and stir while cooking until all begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
  4. Pour in the crushed tomatoes and reduce to a simmer.
  5. Add the rosemary, salt & pepper. Cover and let simmer about 45 minutes.
  6. Remove the rosemary and serve hot with 1 Tbsp fresh Parmesan cheese per serving .

Nutrition Info: Per 1 cup serving with 1 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
100 calories, 3g Protein, 8g Carb, 6g Fat, 1g Sat Fat, 320mg Sodium, 3g Fiber

Menu suggestion: Serve with 1 cup brown rice, 3-4 ounces grilled chicken or shrimp and a large spinach, arugula or other green salad.

Spicy Quinoa, Black Bean & Mushroom Soup

How cool is it to have SIX of my “Top 10 Foods to Eat in 2011” all in one delicious recipe?!  This soup is quick and easy to make, and it tastes even better after the flavors go through.  Make it to have for lunch or dinner and ward off winter weight gain.  This recipe is vegan, but to spice it up even more and appeal to the carnivore in you, add a spicy sausage or two.  I used dried mushrooms in making it (Costco has a great big container of all my favorite ones), but for the recipe I’m changing that to any fresh ones for the sake of availability. Enjoy!

Spicy Quinoa, Black Bean & Mushroom Soup

1 cup quinoa
1 can black beans, rinsed
2 Tb. olive oil
2 large carrots, peeled & chopped
1 onion, peeled & chopped
1-2 celery stalks, chopped
(Use Trader Joe’s “mire poix” carrot, celery, onion mix if you have a TJ’s near you)
2 cloves garlic, peeled & sliced or chopped
1 Tb. fresh ginger, peeled & chopped finely
2 cups sliced mushrooms (shiitake, baby bellas, etc.)
6 cups water
1 tsp. salt
hot pepper sauce
lemon

Rinse the quinoa well with cold water in a mesh wire sieve and set aside. Note: in this recipe you don’t have to be exact on the amount of quinoa.  (A bit more is good too.)
In a large pot or soup pot, heat 2 Tb. olive and add the carrots, onions, celery, garlic and ginger. Let these cook until softened. Add the mushrooms, quinoa, salt and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce temperature and let simmer about 20 minutes.  Add the black beans after 15 minutes and a dash or more of hot sauce. Let this cook on low heat about 10 more minutes and it’s done.  Season with more hot sauce or salt & pepper as desired.  Squeeze fresh lemon juice on it just before serving (optional.)
Note: This soup becomes more stew-like as it sits. Add more water (about 2 cups) and adjust seasoning as necessary.

Boost Your Metabolism in 2011!

Top 10 Foods to Eat in 2011

by Susan Greeley, MS, RD

At the start of a new year, we all resolve to eat better and live better, so it’s time for another “Top 10” list.   With the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans coming out soon, there will be even more emphasis on getting us all to eat more whole grains and fiber and reduce sodium.  It’s not as daunting a task as some may think.  To help get you started, here’s a list of “Foods to Eat in 2011”  and a recipe to get you on your way to boosting your metabolism and fighting belly fat. (Now who doesn’t want that?!

Mushrooms — can we say Vitamin D, metabolism boosting and cancer-fighting compounds? Mushrooms are it! Don’t discount these low-calorie, fat-fighting fungi — they’re one of nature’s nutritional best.

Beans/Legumes — we know they’re good for our hearts, so why not eat more of them? Loaded with fiber, legumes just may save your life.

Quinoa — this “Queen” of the ancient grains is worth her weight in gold. A complete protein source with iron and fiber and other micronutrients, this great grain reigns on.

Hot Pepper Sauce — Kick it up this year! Hot peppers contain capsaicin, which may be a metabolism booster by increasing both fat and calorie-burning after a meal. Now that’s some good stuff!

Lemons — see my blog about “When life gives you lemons…”

Ginger — It’s known as the “universal remedy” and has multiple health benefits. It aids with digestion by stimulating saliva and is known to help prevent nausea and vomiting (it’s an anti-emetic.)

Vinegar — The main chemical found in vinegars is acetic acid, which can help control blood pressure and blood sugar. What’s more exciting is that the action of acetic acid also helps break down fats,  prevent fat buildup in the body and help ward off weight gain. Pour some on!

Apples — an apple a day really may keep the doctor away. They’re a great source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Buy organic and be sure to eat the skin, which contains quercetin, a potent antioxidant and metabolism booster.

Nuts & Seeds — Is one nut better than another? No splitting hairs here. The healthy fats, fiber and minerals you get in a variety of nuts & seeds is what you want. Go for whichever you like. Eat them daily but in moderation — a palm-sized portion is perfect and can help with weight loss.

Eggs — The whole egg and nothing but the whole egg.  In addition to many amino acids, minerals, vitamins and good omega 3 fats, they contain choline & lecithin.  Choline is an essential part of a phospholipid that helps us regulate cholesterol and fat (and prevent both from accumulating in the liver,) and it is a building block for cell membranes (most liver metabolism occurs on cell membranes.)  It’s essential for brain & cardiovascular health.  Lecithin is an emulsifier & main component of bile — part of digestive health.

What’s best about these metabolism-boosting foods is — they’re not expensive, they’re available year-round, and they’re easy to combine in lots of recipes.  Try some Spicy Quinoa, Black Bean & Mushroom Soup for starters. Here’s to your health in 2011!

When life gives you lemons, Rejoice!

Ahh, lemons. The meaning of that little saying “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade…” is simple yet profound, inspiring and hopeful.  Whether or not we’re talking about the unexpected life “lemons” or the real ones in our diets, I’m happy about and thankful for all the lemons in my life! You know why? Because they help me turn ordinary into extraordinary.  Not to mention they are so good for you.  It’s winter. It’s the New Year. It’s time to add lemons to your life!  All other meaning aside, this simple little citrus fruit can make you happy and keeps you healthy. It’s color and peel alone do that for me, and then I squeeze it or zest it and add it to all sorts of foods and drinks, and WOW! (For the record, I have the same love of limes for virtually all the same reasons. No discriminating, but yellow is my favorite color.)

Winter foods may seem boring until we add this colorful, flavorful little gem. Let me share with you a few of the lemon’s health benefits and some of my favorite ways to add it to your diet during these dreary winter days.

Reasons to rejoice:

Lemons are high in vitamin C. Most people know this … but by adding it to certain foods, it helps absorb other important nutrients, such as iron or calcium. One little lemon has about 140% of the RDA for vitamin C.

Lemons can help you lose weight. Really? Yes! I recommend them to all who do my “two week challenge” and any type of weight loss or detoxifying diet.  Hot water with lemon is liver-friendly, and “cleansing” the liver is a key component of weight management.

Lemons have cancer-preventive compounds in the peel. These phytochemicals (beneficial plant compounds) may also help lower cholesterol. Organic versus conventional? If I am using the zest or adding the whole lemon to a dish, I buy organic since conventional lemons are both sprayed with pesticides (harmful chemicals in our bodies) and typically waxed.  In this case, while the price may be cheaper, the flavor is as well! Chemicals in the zest are really not desired. Go organic. Otherwise for juicing the lemons, just wash them well before using.

Ways to spruce up your food:

Breakfast:

Green tea with lemon — it’s truly a smart thing to do for your health with all the tea and lemon phytochemicals.

O.J. — I cut up lemons and add them to my morning o.j. (preferably freshly squeezed.)  Add seltzer and lemons or limes and drink that any time of day.

Hot water with lemons and honey — even if you’re not a singer, this is good for you and maybe will improve your singing voice?

Pancakes, muffins, waffles or scones — add some zest to any batter.

Yogurt — squeeze lemon juice into your yogurt and add chopped fresh fruit and granola for a vitamin blast to start your day.

Snack or Salads:

Papaya — (my favorite) — sure it’s exotic but it’s also available. It’s soooo good simply peeled and cut up (remove the black seeds) with lemon squeezed on it.  Boost up yogurt by adding this combo to plain yogurt and drizzle with honey or agave syrup.

Goat cheese — zest a little lemon and squeeze the juice into a small amount of goat cheese. Add a dash of salt and any herbs or garlic too. Smear on some Triscuits, flatbread crackers or toasted whole wheat pita. Top with some sliced grape or other tomatoes and feel good about this healthy snack!

Guacamole — At a minimum, mash 1 avocado with the juice of 1 lemon (or lime) and salt. Smear it on toast, pita, bagel, a tomato or a piece of lettuce. Just eat it, often!

Dinner, Lunch, Etc.:

The options are endless … sometimes we just need a reminder. If lemons are in your kitchen, use them!

Lemons are great on just about any poultry, pork, or fish — baked chicken, poached fish, steamed lobster or fried shrimp — lemons enhance them all.

Sautéed or steamed vegetables. Even mashed sweet potatoes taste better with some lemon juice!

Legumes love lemons. Lentil soup and bean salads (black bean or white cannellini in particular) are great with fresh lemon juice and zest.  Seafood or even a simple corn chowder begs for fresh lemon as well.

Salads — lemon juice, olive oil and a bit of sea salt & pepper can never do you wrong (add a pinch of sugar and dijon mustard too.)

I’m rejoicing because life is sooo much better thanks to all the lemons. Happy New Year, happy winter fruit and here’s to your health!

Pumpkin Oat & Cranberry Scones

If you like to get your hands “dirty” in the kitchen, here’s a fun & easy recipe for some seasonal scones.  Instead of frosting them, I typically smear on a little real butter and some of Trader Joe’s pumpkin butter. — If you’re lucky enough to live near a “TJ’s”, go get some of this delicious spread.  If not, these scones are great as is with your morning coffee or for an afternoon tea.  Merry Christmas season!

Pumpkin-Oat-Cranberry Scones

by Susan Greeley, MS, RD

3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
1 cup fresh cranberries, chopped
1 Tb. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/2 sticks butter, softenend
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Cornmeal or extra whole wheat pastry flour for flouring the work surface

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Prepare a clean surface for spreading the dough. Have baking sheets nearby!
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder & soda, sugar, salt and cinnamon. Stir in the chopped cranberries.
Cut the butter into the flour mixture.  Using clean hands, work the butter into the dry mixture until it is fully incorporated and a crumbly dough results.
Make a well in the center and add the pumpkin, vanilla and buttermilk. Gently combine and mix until evenly combined.  Do not knead the dough.  A heavy, wet dough results.
Let dough stand 5 minutes for the oats to absorb some of the liquid.
Spread a small fistful of cornmeal onto clean surface.  Turn half of the dough onto the surface and coat w/ cornmeal. Using your hands still, cut and place fist-sized scones onto baking sheet.  Do the same with the second half of the dough.  Bake scones for 17-20 minutes.  Let cool on sheet for 15 minutes.
Serve with butter and honey or TJ’s “pumpkin butter” and enjoy!

Thanksgiving Side Dishes and Appetizers

If you’re still looking for some last-minute easy recipes that aren’t loaded with calories but sure do have tons of flavor, try these! I’ve been so busy with life (and testing my pumpkin-oat-cranberry scone recipe) that it took me until today to realize I’m running behind on posting Thanksgiving recipes.  Such is life sometimes!  So I will cut myself some slack and go get started prepping my pearl onions for my FAVORITE creamed onions of course.  Wishing everyone a truly happy Thanksgiving. Gratitude is everything! Enjoy…

Spinach & Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

by Susan Greeley, MS, RD

1 package large “stuffing mushrooms”, rubbed clean and stems removed (about 10-12 mushrooms)
1 Tb. olive oil
1 large package fresh spinach, washed and dried
1 clove garlic or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
4 ounces goat cheese
1 tsp. dried sage or herbs de provence
salt & pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Rub the mushrooms with a bit of olive oil and then place them bottom-side up in a 9×9 glass baking dish.
In a pan, heat the olive oil and add all the spinach and garlic or garlic powder.  Cook this until spinach is soft.
Add the bread crumbs and herbs and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Stir together. Turn the heat off and add the goat cheese.  Blend all together until goat cheese, breadcrumbs and spinach are evenly distributed.
Spoon or fork the spinach mixture into the mushrooms. Sprinkle with a salt and pepper before baking. Bake covered with aluminum foil for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 5-10 minutes, until browned on top. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Simple, Savory Butternut Squash

1 Butternut squash, peeled and cut in small chunks
1 small white onion, peeled and sliced into small pieces
2-3 Tb. Olive oil
1-2 Tb. Orange juice
Fresh rosemary
Salt & pepper

Fill a medium-sized pot with about 1/2 inch of water and bring to a boil.  Add the butternut squash and cook covered for 7 minutes.  While squash is cooking, heat about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan and add the onion.  Sautee the onion on medium-low heat just until soft and translucent.  Chop about 2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary and add to the onion.  Stir around and let simmer just a couple minutes. Add 1/4 tsp. salt.
Place cooked squash in a serving bowl, making sure to drain off any remaining liquid. Pour onion & rosemary mixture on top and toss evenly. Pour  on the orange juice and a bit of olive oil if desired. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and fresh ground pepper and toss to coat squash evenly. Garnish with a few sprigs of rosemary. Serve and enjoy!

Caribbean Sweet Potatoes

(A recipe from my husband’s grandmother, cuz every Thanksgiving table needs at least one recipe from a grandmother!)

(serves 4-6)

2 lbs. sweet potatoes
1 tsp. orange rind
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2  cup brown sugar
2 Tb. butter
1 Tb. lime juice
3 Tb. dark rum

Cook sweet potatoes about 1/2 hour at 400 degrees (or microwave until soft but still firm.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Peel & slice potatoes. Combine the spices
Arrange potatoes in 2 layers in a shallow casserole — sprinkle each layer with spices.
Heat butter, sugar, lime juice & rum in small saucepan over low heat. Pour over potatoes.  Bake for 30-40 minutes, spooning glaze/sauce over potatoes every 15 minutes.  Let stand 10 mins. before serving.

Pumpkin Basil Soup Seduction

How many of you keep canned pumpkin on hand? I do, and apparently some of my friends think that’s funny.  I’ll tell you a little story of how pumpkin became a staple in my pantry…

Canned pumpkin is great for making “Seductive Soup”! What, you ask?!  Everyone knows it’s great for pumpkin muffins, scones, pancakes and pie of course.  I even put canned pumpkin in homemade mac&cheese and other tasty pasta dishes.  But back to the seduction … When I was in college, my mom made this fabulous Pumpkin Basil Soup that she served the first time I brought a boy home for the weekend.  He (“the boy”) loved the soup and started to fall in love with me, so my mom and I joked about it being the soup. Well, that relationship didn’t last, but the pumpkin soup was put to the test again with a couple more boyfriends over the next few years, including the one who became my husband.  So, as funny or strange as it may seem, keeping pumpkin on hand can come in handy when you’re trying to impress a prospective love interest. Haha!  Love and seduction aside, this soup is great as a Halloween or Thanksgiving dinner starter, or simply enjoy any time in fall and winter.  A final note — if you kept the pumpkin seeds after jack-o-lantern making, toast them (see how to below) and use to top the soup before serving. Deeee-lish!!!

Pumpkin Basil Soup

by Susan Greeley, MS, RD

1 large onion, peeled & chopped finely
1/4 cup butter
1/2 lb. fresh tomatoes (or canned whole), seeded and coarsely chopped
3-4 large carrots, peeled and chopped
4 cups low sodium chicken broth (vegetable broth for vegetarian version)
1 16 oz. can pumpkin
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
salt & pepper
pinch sugar
3 Tb. heavy cream (optional)
Grated Swiss cheese or salted/toasted pumpkin seeds for garnish


In a large soup pot, saute onion in butter about 4-5 minutes. Add tomatoes and simmer gently about 5 more minutes.
In another saucepan, simmer the carrots in 2 1/2 cups of chicken broth until soft.  Pour soft carrots & broth into a blender or food processor. Add the canned pumpkin and 1/4 tsp salt and blend until smooth.  Add the remaining chicken broth as necessary.
Add the pumpkin mixture to the tomatoes & onions. Season with pepper, pinch of sugar and a little salt if needed. Stir in the chopped basil. Fold in heavy cream (if desired) and heat but do not boil the soup. Pour into a soup tureen or individual bowls and top with cheese and toasted pumpkin seeds.

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Rub a little canola oil on your hands and then rub 1 cup pumpkin seeds in your hands to coat lightly. Place them on a cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Season with salt and curry powder to taste. Toss & bake another 5 minutes or until crisp and golden brown. Enjoy!