• Theresa Gentile

Want a healthy alternative to pasta? Try spiralized squash!


Quick, healthy dinner of spiralized butternut squash


I try to walk home every day from work. It’s 1.5 miles of exercise that’s built into my day. I listen to music, but I still need to psych myself up for it and the thought of stopping by one, or both, of the gigantic vegetable markets along my route helps. (Although carrying heavy veggies home does not – problems!) So, the other day, as I didn’t have a plan for dinner by the time I left work, I was in search of something to inspire a quick and healthy meal. I love winter squash, but knew I didn’t have the time to prep and cook one from scratch. That’s when I saw butternut squash, packaged in beautiful, bouncy spirals. Perfect!


I planned the meal during the rest of my walk home. I had sausage in the freezer and sage that I picked and preserved a few weeks ago. My mouth started watering…

First I fried the sage in some olive oil and butter (I was going use brown butter, but I wanted to keep the saturated fat content down. Remember, the American Heart Association recommends a daily max of 5% of total calories that come from saturated fat – that’s 8-13 grams per day for most of us). Then I browned the sausage and added the squash. Once combined, I topped it with the delicious morsels of fried sage, and, voila! Yummy, healthy and quick!


Fried sage
Frying the sage in olive oil keeps saturated fat content down

Spiralized squash is a healthy alternative to pasta. Pick up a little, handheld spiralizer to turn summer squash into beautiful spirals (green zucchini and yellow squash are the most common). Winter squash requires something slightly more heavy duty – a tabletop spiralizer, or the spiralizer attachment on your KitchenAid.


Nutrition: Winter squash vs. Pasta

Per cup, butternut squash has a whopping 297% of the daily value of Vitamin A, 48% of the daily amount of Vitamin C, and is a good source of vitamin E, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B-6, folate, pantothenic acid, and manganese.


Try it and tell me what you think!



Butternut Squash with Sausage and Sage

Serves 2


Ingredients:


1 butternut squash, spiralized

½ pound sausage

10-15 sage leaves

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 Tablespoon butter


Directions:


1. Melt butter and heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Once the butter is foamy and a light brown, add the sage leaves. Once crisp, remove and drain on paper towels.

2. Remove sausage from casing. Break up into chunks and add to pan. Once almost cooked through, add garlic.

3. Once sausage is completely cooked, add butternut squash and cook until tender. Toss together. Add sage leaves and sprinkle with Parmesan.


References:

USDA Food Composition Database

https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/20121

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  • Theresa Gentile

Valentine's Day breakfast recipe
Valentine's Day Heart Pinwheels

A savory treat for Valentine's Day!


With Valentine's Day right around the corner, this is a quick and easy recipe to uphold the festive spirit. With my kids coming home from school with conversation hearts and gazillions of heart-shaped lollipops, I wanted something to counteract all the sugar. While crescent rolls aren't something I eat often (although I'd like to), they're perfect for a special occasion. They're versatile and fun to create different shapes - like hearts. I added some low sodium ham and grainy mustard, and...voila! Fun Valentine's Day breakfast, snack or party food!


Experiment with different types of ham, mustard or cheeses!




Valentine’s Day Pinwheels

Serving Size: 1 pinwheel

Serves: 8-10


Ingredients:

1 package Pillsbury refrigerated Crescent rolls

5-10 slices low sodium ham

2 tablespoons grainy mustard


Preparation:

Set oven to 375 degrees

Roll out refrigerated crescent dough on a baking tray. Leave it whole as one rectangle, pinching together the seams

Layer slices of ham on the dough

Spread grainy mustard evenly over the ham

Slice horizontally into 1 inch strips; roll up each end to meet in the middle and form into heart shape.

Bake as directed on crescent roll canister. About 11-13 minutes, or until golden brown.


Enjoy! Let me know if you try them!

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Updated: Apr 22, 2019

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

The first step to a healthy lifestyle? A healthy kitchen!


Despite spending countless hours in the kitchen, I would fail most of the Martha Stewart “tests”. My spices have been in the cupboard for more than 6 months, soy sauce has been in the fridge more than 1 month, and I still have infant formula samples buried somewhere (my youngest kiddo is four and I never even used formula). But there are a few essential items I like to keep around that help me prepare healthy, quick meals and snacks and I’d like to share them with you.


1. Plain, Greek yogurt


Very versatile; high in protein and calcium.


Uses:

-add to a smoothie

-as a substitute for fat in quick breads and baking. Substitute ½ the oil with ¾ the amount of yogurt.

-as a substitute for ½ of the sour cream in dips, sauces, dressings, or when topping baked potatoes


2. Avocados


I almost always have one avocado in use and one ripening on the counter. Recently, though, I found frozen avocado slices in the grocery store! Frozen at the peak of ripeness, these are perfect for throwing into a smoothie in the morning.


Uses:

-as a substitute for mayonnaise on a sandwich or as a topping for a hamburger

-Add to smoothies for added creaminess

-Impromptu guacamole or healthy salad dressing. (Add peeled avocado, a garlic clove, some olive oil lemon juice, salt and pepper and a splash of water in a blender.)

-Avocado and tomato summer salad

-Shmear on toast for a breakfast packed with heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids.


3. Cocoa powder (unsweetened, natural)


You probably have it in your panty for baking, but I use it to add a chocolatey taste to a variety of things. Who could pass up chocolate that has no sugar or fat, but lots of polyphenols to help combat inflammation? Not me ;)


Uses:

-Add it to smoothies (Can you tell I make a lot of smoothies?)

-Add a tablespoon to an energy ball mix

-Add it to oatmeal (yep, it’ll mix right into hot oatmeal). My kids especially like this for an after-school snack.

-Add some depth to dry rubs for meats and pork

-Cocoa dusted almonds

-Hot cocoa. This may sound obvious, but I grew up on packaged, sugary hot cocoa. Since my kids have had the, ahem, ‘opportunity’ , to try the sugary kind outside of my home, they don’t want my reduced- sugar homemade version. So, I split a packet of the sugary stuff between two mugs and make up the difference with pure cocoa powder. Top with milk and no one is the wiser.


4. Frozen fruit


-Those bags of frozen fruit decrease waste as it’s all unbruised, ripe fruit.


Uses:

- You guessed it…smoothies!

-make a yummy crumble

-throw into oatmeal


5. Canned salmon


An inexpensive and convenient way to sneak in the recommended weekly amount of fatty fish for heart health! Canned salmon offers wild Alaskan salmon with omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin D and calcium (from the tiny, edible bones).


Uses:

-Smoothies (just kidding!!)

-Salmon burgers

-Throw together with cooked rice/pasta/vegetables/risotto

There’s always more, but those are my favs.


6. Plain Oatmeal


Oats pack their nutritious punch from antioxidants and soluble fiber. The kind of fiber that lowers LDL and total cholesterol.


-Bowl of hot oatmeal

-Overnight oats

-Granola

-Mix into smoothies

-Add to batters for pancakes/breads

-Base for energy balls


Tell me what you keep around to whip up healthy meals in a pinch!



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