Cranberry-Orange Sauce

Cranberry Orange Sauce with Cinnamon - The Best

Please!  I beg of you!  If you don’t already make your own cranberry sauce, start NOW.  It’s the easiest to make in the whole wide world and it tastes so fresh and flavorful that you will kick yourself for not making it sooner.  Besides, then you know EXACTLY what’s in it, there’s no preservatives from the canned stuff, and well, it’s simply delicious!

It’s so easy to make because all you do it throw fresh cranberries in a saucepan, add water or juice, a little bit of sugar, and then you just simmer it until it thickens.  Easy peasy!

This is my most favorite version of cranberry sauce.  I LOVE the addition of orange and I have yet to find someone who doesn’t (however, if you are totally against the idea of adding orange . . . just substitute water in place of the juice).  The orange juice and zest allow us to use less sugar, but then it also elevates the flavor.  Win-Win!  I love to throw a cinnamon stick in the pan while it simmers.  You can’t REALLY taste much cinnamon flavor, but there is a slight hint.  Maybe I mostly just like the fact that it makes me feel super festive.  I admit it; I love the holidays and the smells of the holidays are DEFINITELY part of the love!  And, so is this delicious cranberry sauce.  I don’t let the holidays ever go by without it.  I seriously don’t think you should either!

In fact, may you should pair it with this super delicious turkey!  That’s what I did.

Cranberry-Orange Sauce
Adapted from Tyler Florence/Food Network

12 ounces cranberries, fresh
1 orange, zest, juiced and just into strips
1/3 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick

Put all the ingredients into a saucepan over medium heat and simmer until the cranberries burst and the sauce thickens, about 15 to 20 minutes.  Serve at room temperature or cool and refrigerate.  Remove the cinnamon stick & orange slices before serving.

Makes just over 1 cup of sauce.
Serves 10.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving = 2 Tablespoons)
Calories:  46.5
Protein:  0.2g
Carbs:  11.9g
Fat:  0g
Fiber:  1.8g
Sugars:  8g

Banana Berry Baked Oatmeal

Oatmeal Baked with Blackberries, Raspberries, or Blueberries and Banana

It’s that time of year when it seems like most of us want something warm and comforting for breakfast (well, and the other meals too, right?).  I love making baked oatmeal year-round, but it seems like I make it a lot more during the fall/winter seasons.  I absolutely adore making this with apples and cranberries during this time of year, but this is another very delicious option.  The berries and banana add a perfect sweetness and the touch of cinnamon and maple syrup make this so good it’s hard to imagine that it’s actually good for you!

For whatever reason, baked oatmeal is magic.  People who don’t like to eat oatmeal, actually love these versions of baked oatmeal.  You’ll have to let me know if you end up making a believer out of you or your loved ones!

Banana Berry Baked Oatmeal
Adapted from Annie’s Eats

1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar free maple syrup
1 cup skim milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 banana, peeled and sliced (about 1/4-inch slices)
1/2 cup fresh berries (blackberries, raspberries, or blueberries)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish.  In a medium bowl, combine the rolled oats, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.  Stir with a fork to combine.  In a liquid measuring cup, combine the maple syrup, milk, egg, and vanilla.  Spread the sliced bananas in a single layer over the bottom of the baking dish.  Sprinkle the dry oat mixture over the fruit in an even layer.  Pour the liquid ingredients evenly over the oats (I like to take the back of a fork and lightly press any of the dry oats into the liquid mixture to ensure every oat is wet).  Sprinkle the berries over the top.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the top is browned and the oats have set.  Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 3.

Nutritional Information Per Serving (1/3 of the Finished Recipe)
Calories:  210.8
Protein:  8.6g
Carbs:  38g
Fat:  4g (1.3g = Sat.)
Fiber:  5.1g
Sugars:  11.4g

Chili Salmon with Mango, Cucumber & Avocado Salsa

Salsa Includes Blueberries, Lime, and Jalapeño

Oh my!  This is SO my kind of dinner!  This seriously tastes like healthy summer on a plate.  The salmon is simply seasoned with chili powder and the salsa is sweet and fresh.  Of course the chili powder is a fabulous compliment to salsa, so it’s no wonder this all goes together beautifully.

The salsa is seriously SO good!  It’s so good that it’s kind of a little bit hard not to eat more than the appropriate portion size.  (You’ve been warned!)  I was pretty intrigued with the addition of blueberries in this salsa.  I’ve made and seen several variations of mango salsa, but none that included blueberries.  Let me tell you, it’s awesome!  The burst of the blueberry in the mouth along with the sweetness and tartness of the berry is a perfect compliment to the soft and sweet mango.  The cucumber adds a nice balance to the sweetness as well as good bulk to the salsa (without adding many calories).  You can’t have a salsa without some kind of pepper, so there is a jalapeño pepper in here and you can add as much as you want.  The majority of the heat comes from the ribs and seeds of the pepper so for a mild salsa, remove all the ribs and seeds, for a hot salsa, keep them in.  The avocado adds a richness and creaminess to the salsa that helps to made this stuff so addictive.  Last, but certainly not least, is the addition of  lime zest and lime juice.  This gives the perfect amount of acidity and zing to the salsa and makes it taste amazingly fresh.

This meal can be eaten for lunch or dinner.  We had it for dinner with a side salad.  I think I might start making the salsa for snacks and appetizers too.  It’s that good!

Chili Salmon with Mango, Cucumber, & Avocado Salsa
Adapted from The Chew

For the Salmon:
4 Skin-On Salmon Filets (4 oz. each)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
1 teaspoon Chili Powder

For the Salsa:
1 mango (cubed)
1/4 – 1/2 English cucumber (diced)
1 avocado (cubed)
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 – 1 jalapeno (seeded and minced)
juice and zest of 1 lime
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

For the Salsa: Toss all salsa ingredients in a medium bowl until well mixed (I use a rubber spatula so that the avocado doesn’t get mashed).  Set aside.

For the Salmon: Preheat a grill (outdoor or indoor . . . I used a charcoal grill for mine) to medium-high, and season lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon chili powder over each of the salmon filets. Season with salt and pepper, and place, skin-side down. After 2 to 3 minutes, flip, and continue to cook on other side for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 130F.

Serves 4.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving = 1 Filet & Approx. 1/2 Cup Salsa)
Calories:  284.5
Protein:  30.4g
Carbs:  15.1g
Fat:  11.6g (1.7g = Sat.)
Fiber:  2.7g
Sugars:  6.1g

Tropical Protein Smoothie

When it comes to easy, this might be my most favorite protein smoothie/shake combination.  I’m not hard to please, am I?  I just love the combination of this fruit (peaches, mangos, pineapple, strawberries) mixed with vanilla.  I use this as a pre-workout shake or as a snack sometimes.  Truth be known that this seriously motivates me to wake up for an early workout some days.  I’ll be laying in bed trying to decide if I should wake up and workout or sleep longer.  As soon as I think about eating this for my pre-workout meal, my decision is made, and I’m out of bed and throwing on my running shorts!  It’s so yummy I feel like I’m “cheating” every time I eat it.

By the way . . . I usually buy me a big bag of this frozen fruit at Wal-Mart.  They usually carry it and, because I like it so much, I love that it comes in a large bag.  It’s more affordable that way too.  (Here’s a picture of it so you can see what I buy.)

Tropical Protein Smoothie

1/2 cup frozen mixed tropical fruit blend
1 scoop vanilla protein powder (about 22g of Protein)
1/2 cup cold water
ice cubes, optional

Place frozen fruit in a blender or food processor.  Blend until fruit is finely chopped.  Add cold water, protein powder, and ice (*if desired).  Blend until well mixed (doesn’t take long).  Pour unto a tall glass and enjoy!

*Note:  Depending on how “slushy” you like your smoothies, you may want to add ice to the blender when adding the water and protein powder.  The frozen fruit will offer some amount of slush, but you can achieve more by adding additional ice.

Serves 1.

Nutritional Information
Calories:  145
Protein:  22.5g
Carbs:  11.5g
Fat:  1g

Baked Oatmeal with Apples and Cranberries

Oh my word!  This is my most favorite breakfast right now!  When I made this for the first time I decided that I might want to eat it every day through fall and winter.  You think I’m exaggerating?  Well, I’m not.  I’m pretty sure we’re eating it tomorrow for breakfast (and hopefully several days afterwards).  It tastes like fall and brings all the comfort of a warm and seasonal breakfast without a gazillion calories.  It’s seriously SO good, that I didn’t even eat mine with milk.  It’s good all on its own (however, warm milk would just add to the comfort of this yummy breakfast).

I used fresh cranberries when I made this because they are in season (you can usually find them in bags in the produce section of your grocery store).  I’m sure you could substitute dried ones here, but you wouldn’t want to get more than 50 calories worth.  However, I must tell you that the fresh cranberries are SO worth using.  The tartness they bring to the oatmeal, combined with the slight burst of flavor you get when you bite into them is fabulous!  I also love the way they compliment the sweetness of the apples.

You’ll also see that I made the serving size quite generous.  (Yeah . . . I like to eat a lot!)  However, this can easily be changed to match three serving sizes (which would equal a 1/3 cup dry oats per serving) making the calorie count only 194 calories per serving.  Pretty awesome!

It’s a cinch to throw together and then the oven does all the magic.  All you have to do is get it in the oven in time to eat your breakfast.  What works for me?  Before hopping in the shower to get ready for the day, I take five minutes to prep the oatmeal, throw it in the oven, and 40-ish minutes later I get to indulge.  Try it, it’s amazing!

Baked Oatmeal with Apples and Cranberries
Adapted from Annie’s Eats

1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar free maple syrup
1 cup skim milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 apple, peeled and chopped into bite-size pieced
1/2 cup fresh cranberries

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish.  In a medium bowl, combine the rolled oats, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.  Stir with a fork to combine.  In a liquid measuring cup, combine the maple syrup, milk, egg, and vanilla.  Spread the chopped apples in a single layer over the bottom of the baking dish.  Sprinkle the dry oat mixture over the fruit in an even layer.  Pour the liquid ingredients evenly over the oats (I like to take the back of a fork and lightly press any of the dry oats into the liquid mixture to ensure every oat is wet).  Sprinkle the cranberries over the top.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the top is browned and the oats have set.  Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 2.

Nutritional Information Per Serving
Calories:  291.7
Protein:  12.2g
Carbs:  51.3g
Fat:  5.1g (1.3g = Sat.)
Fiber:  8g
Sugars:  14.5g

Mixed Berry & Protein Smoothie

Nutritional shakes/drinks/smoothies are such a great way to get good nutrition in a fast and convenient way.  Additionally, I find them to be so tasty that I almost feel like I’m eating something I shouldn’t be.  These are great for snacks in between meals, for pre-workout meals, or for recovery after a hard and long workout (with some minor adjustments).  This first smoothie/shake that I’m throwing up on the blog is one of the very most basic ones (we’ll start easy and then throw in some twists later).  You just take frozen fruit, a scoop of protein powder (preferably whey), add a little water, and blend until smooth.  You can really use any kind of frozen fruit that suits your fancy.  I’m preparing to share more combinations with you throughout time.  So, get ready for some protein shakes that will dance all over those taste buds of yours.

Mixed Berry & Protein Smoothie

1 cup frozen mixed berries
1 scoop vanilla protein powder (about 22g of Protein)
1 cup frozen berries
1/2 cup cold water
ice cubes, optional

Place frozen berries in a blender or food processor.  Blend until berries are finely chopped.  Add cold water, protein powder, and ice (*if desired).  Blend until well mixed (doesn’t take long).  Pour unto a tall glass and enjoy!

*Note:  Depending on how “slushy” you like your smoothies, you may want to add ice to the blender when adding the water and protein powder.  The frozen berries will offer some amount of slush, but you can achieve more by adding additional ice.

Serves 1.

Nutritional Information
Calories:  167
Protein:  23.5g
Carbs:  16.3g
Fat:  1.6g

Tangy Apple-Cabbage Coleslaw

This was such a perfect addition to one of our most recent summer BBQ’s.  We needed one more side dish and this fit the bill!  It offers such a nice balance of sweetness and tang.  I loved the addition of the Granny Smith apples and I’m pretty sure that’s what made this salad unique.

The recipe calls for 1 head of cabbage.  You’ll achieve the best flavor if you buy the head of cabbage and cut it down yourself.  However, the day I made this salad just happened to be a day of craziness and I opted for a shortcut and used a bag of precut cabbage.  The salad was still VERY delicious.

If you haven’t ever cut apples (or anything else for that matter) into matchsticks, it is pretty darn simple.  A quick way to core and slice apples if you don’t own an apple corer is to cut the sides of the apples squarely away from the core.  Then, cut each piece of apple into 1/4-inch thick slices.  Stack the planks and cut them into thin matchsticks.  This video may be helpful for you to watch if you would like further insight.

There is a little bit of prep time that you’ll need to plan on when you make this salad.  It’s SUPER easy prep time . . . it just requires time.  You’ll need to plan on letting the cabbage sit for an hour before assembling the salad (this allows most of the liquid to be drawn out of the cabbage before the dressing is added . . . resulting in a more flavorful slaw with pickle-crisp crunch and clingy dressings).  And then, once the salad is made, you’ll want to allow it to sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving so that the flavors can blend well.  However, take note that this salad can also be made ahead of time.  It can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 day.  If you do this, season with additional salt and pepper to taste before serving.

Tangy Apple-Cabbage Coleslaw
Recipe Source:  The America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook

1 head green cabbage (about 2 pounds), cored and chopped fine
1 tsp. salt
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into matchsticks
2 scallions, sliced thin on the bias
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup honey
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes

Toss the cabbage with the salt in a colander and let sit until wilted, about 1 hour.  Rinse the cabbage under cold water, drain, and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels.  Toss the dried cabbage, apples, and scallions together in a large bowl to combine.

Bring the vinegar, oil, honey, mustard, and red pepper flakes to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Pour the warm dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss to coat.  Cover and refrigerate until the flavors have blended, about 1 hour.

Serves 10.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving = 1 Cup)
Calories:  120
Protein:  1g
Carbs:  18g
Fat:  6g (0g = Sat)
Fiber:  3g

Grilled Pineapple

Here is a sweet little treat that won’t pack on the calories!  I am totally guilty of loving the grilled pineapple at various Brazilian restaurants, so I’m happy to provide a recipe that resembles the tasty stuff.  We made this for our Independence Day BBQ, and I’m pretty sure the entire family loved it.  It’s a cinch to throw together (literally took a couple of minutes) and it can quickly become the favorite part of any meal.  It’s even a tasty dessert if you ask me (and it goes great with a scoop of vanilla ice cream . . . but I didn’t tell you that!).  I’m pretty sure the biggest trick is trying to have only one slice!

Grilled Pineapple

2 Tbsp. agave nectar
1 tsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. brown sugar
1 ripe pineapple, cut into 8 ½-inch thick slices

In a small bowl, combine the agave nectar, olive oil, lime juice, and brown sugar and whisk to blend. Set aside.

Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill. Lightly coat the grill rack with cooking spray. Position the cooking rack 4 to 6 inches from the flame.

Lightly brush the pineapple with the marinade. Grill or broil, turning once and basting once or twice with the remaining marinade, until tender and golden, about 3-5 minutes on each side.  Serve warm.

Serves 8.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving = 1 Slice)
Calories:  49.5
Protein:  0.2g
Carbs:  11.8h
Fat:  0.8g (0.1g = Sat.)
Fiber:  0.7g
Sugars:  10.5g

Strawberry Topping

This is a great little topping that I love putting in my hot cereals.  It adds a lot of flavor and sweetness, yet not a lot of calories.  I like to make a batch of this and then keep it in my refrigerator for easy access each morning when I heat up my hot cereal.  This topping is also great on pancakes, waffles, and french toast and is a great alternative to syrup.  This would also be yummy on top of ice cream if you’re having an indulgent moment. This recipe comes straight out of one of my favorite cookbooks . . . America’s Test Kitchen rarely lets me down!

Strawberry Topping
Source:  The America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook

4 cups fresh strawberries, hulled & sliced thin
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Toss 2 cups of the strawberries, the sugar, and salt together in a large bowl and let sit, stirring occasionally, until the strawberries have released their juice and the sugar has dissolved, about 30 minutes.  Transfer the mixture, including all of the liquid, to a small saucepan and stir in the remaining strawberries.  Cook over medium heat until the juice has thickened into a sauce, about 6 minutes.  Off heat, stir in the lemon juice.  Let cool 1 hour before serving.

Serves 6.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving = 1/3 Cup)
Calories:  50
Protein:  1g
Carbs:  14g
Fat:  0g
Fiber:  2g