The holidays are over, and it’s time to ready ourselves for the New Year. I think we all have mixed feelings at the thought of getting back to normal, and that includes the kitchen and cooking. We are tempted to go back to our old standbys for daily dinners. You know, “It’s Wednesday ~ must be meatloaf” sort of thinking. So this month, we’ll inspire you with new and healthy options and share some different ideas for breakfast and dinner. Try something new! Don’t believe that, if you or the kids / husband didn’t like it last year, they won’t like it this year. Change it up!
Inspiration begins with thinking outside of the box. Try new vegetables, fruits or protein to inspire appetites. It may not work the first time, but plan on trying something new each week and, by the end of the year, you’ll have lots of new flavors to combine for further inspiration!
Baked Apple Cinnamon French Toast
This is a recipe was a favorite at the Piedmont Fayette Cancer Wellness Cooking Class. The greatest trick is the syrup ~ so healthy, light and flavorful! The Baked Apple French Toast adds the ease of being a make-ahead meal. Just pop it in the oven in the morning!
3 cups almond milk
2 cups pasteurized liquid egg whites, such as Egg Beaters, or 8 eggs
2 Tbsp. agave
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1 lb. loaf sliced whole-wheat bread (really good dense bread)
1 cup chopped dried apples (3 ounces)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
Whisk milk, egg whites, honey, vanilla and salt in a large bowl.
Trim crusts off 8 bread slices and set aside. Cut the crusts and the remaining bread into 1-inch pieces. Toss with dried apples, dried cranberries, cinnamon and nutmeg in another large bowl.
Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Transfer the bread mixture to the pan. Lay the reserved crustless slices evenly on top, trimming to fit. Whisk the milk mixture one more time, then pour evenly over the bread. Press the bread down with the back of a wooden spoon, making sure it’s evenly moist. Cover with parchment paper, then foil, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bake the casserole, covered, for 40 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until puffed, set and lightly browned, about 20 minutes more. Let stand for 10 minutes and serve. (Goes great with the Maple Apple Cider Syrup.)
Maple Apple Cider Syrup
2 cups apple cider
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup maple syrup
In a small saucepan, combine the cider, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer until reduced approximately by half.
Stir in the maple syrup and simmer until slightly thickened.
Makes 1 cups syrup.
Zucchini Whole Wheat Lasagna
Here’s a healthy new spin on lasagna! You can change this one up by using whatever vegetable you have on hand, such as mushrooms. Also, you can use squash in place of the noodles for a low carb option or omit the meat for a vegetarian entre. This can be a make-ahead dish that is freezer friendly.
Whole wheat lasagna 8 sheets *(no boil)
2 cups low fat cottage cheese
2 eggs, whisked
2 tsp. Italian herbs
1 frozen spinach, 12 oz, thawed and squeezed dry
tsp. ground nutmeg
1 medium zucchini, sliced thin, horizontally
2 small yellow crookneck squash, sliced thin, horizontally
pound white turkey breast, ground
4 cups marinara sauce
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 350. Mix together cottage cheese, eggs, herbs, spinach and nutmeg. In a skillet, lightly brown turkey and add 2 cups marinara. Simmer for 10 minutes and remove from heat.
Lightly oil 9×13 pan. Spoon in 1 cup of marinara sauce, followed by a single layer of lasagna. Top with cheese mixture. Layer squash slices evenly. Top with meat sauce and 1 cup of shredded cheese. Layer the rest of the lasagna noodles over the top. Cover with remaining marinara. Top with remaining cheese. Bake for 1 hour, or until baked through and bubbly.
This dish can be frozen in its raw state or baked. It will be a little watery if baked from raw, so leave it uncovered in the oven. If it is already baked, cover it to keep moisture in.
*Delallo Organic Whole Wheat Lasagna works really well. It is a no boil noodle and is very thin.
Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps
Bring on a little Asian inspiration tonight! Here is a low calorie and healthy option. Try this one with tofu, if you dare. It is delicious in the lettuce wraps. Enjoy with rice!
1 Tbsp. peanut oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 lbs. lean ground turkey
cup Asian peanut sauce
1 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp. soy sauce, plus additional for dipping
cup chopped mint
12 large lettuce leaves
Saute onion in peanut oil until softened. Add turkey, break up and brown. Add peanut sauce, hoisin sauce and 1 Tbsp. soy sauce. Heat through. Stir in cucumber and mit. Season with salt and pepper.
Spoon turkey onto lettuce leaf, add a bit of mint, fold in sides over the filling and roll up.
Provide additional soy sauce for dipping.
Nancy Jaworski is the chef and owner of My Chef Nancy, a personal chef and catering service in Fayetteville. Travel and learning new culinary cultures are her passions. Nancy can be reached at 770-316-6437 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website at www.mychefnancy.com