Healthy Sweet Potato Stew

sweet potato stew

This healthy sweet potato stew recipe must be good, because it’s adapted from a fitness magazine–and my family still likes it!  At my house, the comfort foods come out as soon as the fall chill hits the air.  But these aren’t just any comfort foods.  They’re cleaned up, but with that great hearty taste my family wants.  This stew is a perfect example.  Bonus:  It’s also pretty easy to make.

(serves 4)

1 pound lean trimmed stew meat

1/2 cup yellow onion, thinly sliced

1 tsp minced garlic

2 cups reduced-sodium beef broth

1/4 tsp ground allspice

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/8 tsp sea salt

1/8 tsp

1/2 packet stevia

2/3 cup sweet potato, peeled and diced (I’ve used more)

1/2 cup chopped green string beans

1/4 cup carrots, peeled and thinly sliced (I’ve used baby carrots)

1/2 cup celery, thinly sliced

1/2 tbsp dried mushrooms (I’ve used sliced fresh, sautéed)

1 tbsp whole-wheat flour (optional)

Salt and pepper

Coat large pan with cooking spray and place over medium heat.  Sprinkle stew meat with salt and pepper and sear all sides, then reduce heat to low.  Add beef broth, onions, Worcestershire sauce, and all spices.  Stir gently to coat.  Cover pan and let simmer for 90 minutes.

Thinly slice celery and carrots; cut beans into bite-size pieces; peel and cube sweet potato.  Stir in all veggies, then cover and let cook on medium-low (simmer) for an additional 40 minutes.

If desired, thicken stew by adding a tablespoon of whole-wheat flour whisked together with a small amount of water.

Nutrition facts (per serving):

220 calories, 23 g protein, 18 g carbs, 6 g fat, 4 g dietary fiber, 8 g sugar, 611 mg sodium

Healthy Peanut Butter Blender Mini Muffins

healthy easy peanut butter muffins

No sugar, no oil, no flour–so easy!

Put some peanut butter and a few other ingredients in a blender and 15 minutes later you have a delicious, healthy muffin.  It’s astounding how easy these muffins are to make!  Equally impressive–how delicious they are.  No refined sugar, flour or oil but tons of gooey flavor, all at under 100 calories.  FYI, omitting the chocolate chips reduces them to 66 calories.

Here’s what you do:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Prepare mini muffin pans by spraying well with cooking spray.

Add 1 ripe banana, 1 egg, 1/2 C. peanut butter, 2 Tbs. honey (agave or maple syrup also work), 1 Tbs. vanilla extract, 1/4 tsp baking soda and a pinch of salt to your blender and blend on high speed until smooth, about 1 minute.

Add 1/2 C. semi sweet chocolate chips (if desired) and STIR BY HAND.  Place batter into prepared pans 3/4 full and bake for 8-9 minutes.

You may want to make a double batch–These little buggers go fast!



A Shamrock Shake, The Healthy Way

I post this every year around St. Patty’s day because…well…It’s an awesome recipe!  Who says you have to down a whole meal’s worth of calories to indulge!?!  Try it and enjoy.

healthy shamrock shake


Did you know that a small McDonald’s Shamrock Shake has 530 calories and 73 grams of sugar in it?  Yikes!  Here’s a healthier, tasty, additive, dye and chemical-ingredient-free alternative… Continue reading

No time to make dinner for the family? Start here.

roasted sweet potatoes

According to study from the CDC, one third of all children eat fast food, every day.

Let’s make getting healthy, delicious food on the table for our kids a priority.  Cooking at home is possible, even when our lives our crazy.  Have them help you prepare it.  It just takes a little advance planning.  They are worth it, and so are you.

Do your kids swear they hate veggies?  They can taste delicious, really!  It’s all in how you cook them.  Keep experimenting, and don’t give in.  The earlier you start them on healthy eating habits, the easier the whole process is.

Take advantage of fall’s wonderful, colorful, nutritious root vegetables while they are still in season–Try oven-roasting root veggies.  Dice them up, add a few ingredients, and throw them in the oven, and that’s it!  You’ll be amazed at how good they taste!

Start out with sweet potatoes!  And, you won’t need butter, brown sugar or syrup to get that sweet, melt-in-your-mouth flavor.  Here’s my favorite way to do them:

Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Peel and dice 2-3 sweet potatoes or yams (this, seriously, is the hardest part!).  Arrange in a single layer on baking sheet.  Drizzle with a couple tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and turn to coat.  Drizzle with a small amount of honey or agave nectar.  Sprinkle liberally with cinnamon.  Roast until edges are browned, turning over half way through.

It’s impressive how nutritious this dish is.  A medium sized sweet potato contains more than your daily requirement of vitamin A, nearly a third the vitamin C you need, almost 15 percent of your daily dietary fiber intake and 10 percent of the necessary potassium.  Not to mention, sweet potatoes contain an abundance of antioxidants and anti-imflammatory properties.  Plus, studies show that cinnamon and honey provide a variety of health benefits from insulin regulation (cinnamon) to disease prevention (honey).

For other healthy recipes to try with the whole family, check out these other posts:

Easy Bread Salad

easy bread salad

easy bread salad

Do you want to try something new with your salads?  This easy bread salad fits the bill.  It’s a very simple panzanella (bread) salad–Plus it’s fresh, and very filling.  I love the way the vinaigrette dressing soaks up the bread cubes and adds a perfect amount of flavor.  Here’s how I make it, but you can add other veggies/ingredients to suit your taste.  I’ve used bell peppers and basil in this too.

1 cucumber, partially peeled, halved and sliced

1-2 tomatoes (quartered and sliced), or 1-2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes (halved),

pitted Greek olives (1/2 cup, or to taste)

1/3 loaf 100% whole grain bread, cut into cubes (for you locals, Wegmans sells a great organic 100% whole wheat loaf in their bakery)


Dressing:  Equal parts olive oil, balsamic vinaigrette, a little black pepper, a little lemon juice, whisked together.  Can adjust quantities to taste.

Bake the cubed bread on a cookie sheet for a few minutes or until browned but not hard.  Combine with vegetables and olives in a bowl.  Add dressing and toss, making sure dressing covers bread.

That’s it!  Serve and enjoy.


Meatloaf? Sure! Trainer’s Tip #11: Make Your Meals Hearty

turkey chili


Trainer’s Tip #11:  Make your meals hearty.

Yes.  Eat REAL FOOD, food that satisfies, and enjoy it.  Create hearty, filling meals using healthy, quality ingredients, and lose weight.

Why?  Because…

A.)  Calories are NOT created equal.  Your body wants and needs nutrient-dense foods like nuts, legumes, whole grains, avocados, lean meat, healthy oils, etc., to fuel your workouts.  Eating these foods will promote a better metabolism and better fat-burn, and you’ll feel way better.  Don’t be afraid of calorie-rich food that is packed with good-for-you-fat.  Just watch your portions and listen to your body’s signals, and don’t forget to give veggies and fruit a starring role in your meals.

B.)  In order to stick with a healthy diet long-term, you must enjoy the food you eat, and you must feel full.  Satiety is key with clean eating, and this has been illustrated through studies.  Why do you think people yo-yo diet so much?  They try to lose weight using short-term solutions that too severely restrict calorie consumption and eliminate complete food groups that contain vital nutrients.  Rather than flip-flopping endlessly between states of deprivation and bingeing–fill your meals with whole, natural, nutrient and fiber-rich ingredients.

Here’s a super-easy “Mini Meat Loaves” recipe that even kids will love:

Combine 1 egg, 1/2 cup of (lower sugar) marinara sauce, 1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs, 1/4 tsp salt, 1lb lean organic ground beef or turkey, and 1/2 cup of shredded part-skim mozzarella in a bowl.  Divide mixture into 4 equal portions and shape into ovals.  Place on a foil-lined baking pan.  Spoon a dollop of marinara sauce on top, and sprinkle lightly with a little more cheese.  Bake 15 minutes at 450 degrees.  Pair meat loaves with your favorite vegetable.

For the recipe on the above chili, click here.

Garden overflowing? Try this end-of-summer pasta.


If your veggie garden is currently spilling over with ripe, juicy tomatoes, shiny, plump eggplants and fragrant basil then this recipe is for you.  In addition, it’s tasty, healthy, and a perfect weeknight meal!

Important to note–

-I use less pasta and more veggies than I listed here to make the meal less carb-heavy.

-I used an organic poultry sausage here, but meat is optional in this dish.

-I only eat whole-grain pasta, and highly encourage you to try it if you haven’t.  If you absolutely can’t stand the taste, try a white pasta with extra fiber added.

Here’s what you need:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

optional:  3/4lb to 1lb chicken or poultry sausage, cooked and cut into chunks

2 medium eggplants, cut into small chunks (I peel the skin off)

1lb whole grain pasta of your choice

6 small or 3 medium tomatoes, cored, seeded and cut into chunks

1 to 2 tsp. thinly sliced garlic

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Chopped fresh basil

salt and freshly ground pepper

Here’s what you do:

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the eggplant, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and stir occasionally until tender.
  2. Add pasta to boiling water and prepare as directed.  Add tomatoes and garlic to the eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally until softened, about 10 minutes.  Add the meat, if desired.
  3. Drain and toss cooked pasta with the eggplant sauce and Parmesan.  Add additional seasoning if desired and garnish with basil.

A super-quick homemade dinner for a crazy weekday night

Last night was one of those crazy week day nights.  Before I knew it, it was 5:30, and the family was starving.  I hadn’t planned anything to eat that night.  On this type of night, I grab whatever is on hand and make it work.  I use veggies that need to get eaten, and meat that has recently been, or can quickly be, thawed.  I usually have chicken breast on hand for last-minute, throw-together dinners.

With the weather still yucky, the oven is still one of my favorites for quick meals.  Roasting produce and meat brings out their flavors without a lot of added fat and calories.  So last night, I threw some broccoli florets on a baking sheet with olive oil, salt and pepper, and into the oven they went.  Then, I took some chicken breast tenders, rolled them in crushed almonds, and threw them in.  (Crushed corn flakes also work well for a healthy chicken coating.)  Add seasonings to taste.

Note: I used foil here to line the baking sheets, but I usually use parchment paper.  Your dishes will come out practically clean!


Here they are after a short time in the oven.  Dinner is finished!


To add a healthy carb, I sliced up an organic, 100% whole wheat bread loaf to go with it.

So…before your reach for that take-out menu, think about what you have on hand.  Often you can have an oven-roasted, homemade dinner in minutes, with minimal effort.

Veggies are delicious when roasted!  Here’s what I did another night with carrots and brussels sprouts, tossed in olive oil/salt/pepper.  SOOO easy!