Monthly Archives: January 2013

Must-try Healthy Foods for 2013

New year, new opportunities! Make 2013 the year you jump on the healthy food trend bandwagon and cook outside the box. Here are my favorite healthy foods YOU should be trying this year.

1. Kale
Kale is the superstar of the leafy green family. Not only is it high in antioxidants, it contains important nutrients like Vitamins A and C, iron, fiber, potassium, and calcium. If you’re a beginner, try working kale into a pasta dish (it resembles spinach when it’s sautéed in a little garlic and olive oil). Try this Garlic Lemon Kale Pasta or this Kale and Bacon Risotto. You can also brush kale leaves with a little olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and bake for about 15 minutes at 350° for a crispy, savory snack!

2. Quinoa
This grain is high in fiber and protein and can be substituted for rice and pasta in many dishes for a more nutritional option. And bonus, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has declared 2013 the International Year of Quinoa! For maximum flavor, cook quinoa in a vegetable or chicken broth instead of plain water. My favorite quinoa recipe so far is this Southwestern Quinoa dish. So yummy!

3. Lentils
Lentils can be tricky to cook (often turning out either crunchy or mushy), but if you can nail the process, this pantry staple has the same amount of protein as a steak! I love these Mushroom Lentil Burgers I made from Cooking Light (they use precooked lentils!), and I also make this Butternut Squash, Chicken, & Lentil Stew that is simply delicious!

4. Greek Yogurt
There’s one big reason why I prefer Greek Yogurt over regular yogurt—it has about double the protein for the same amount of calories. With so many brands jumping on the Greek Yogurt train, there are lots of options, and there’s almost always one that’s on sale. I love Chobani and Dannon’s Oikos yogurt. And it’s not just for breakfast—plain Greek Yogurt is a great substitute for sour cream!

5. Brussel Sprouts
I have to admit, I used to turn my nose up at brussel sprouts—and without cause, as I had never even had them. But once I tried them, I was hooked! Brussels are packed with vitamins, iron, folate, and fiber, and they happen to be super easy to make. Just cut off the ends, drizzle the brussels with olive oil, sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper, and roast at 400° for about 35-40 minutes.

What healthy foods are you looking forward to trying (or eating more of, hopefully!) this year?

Figs in a Blanket

I made this recipe from Cooking Light as an appetizer for our Christmas dinner and it was a huge hit. The original recipe called for apricots and blue cheese, but I’m a big fan of fig and goat cheese together, so I decided to change it up a bit. The original recipe also called for them to look like cute, neat little “angels”—mine turned out looking more like pigs in a blanket. But they still tasted delicious, and that’s what really matters!

Figs in a Blanket
Adapted from Cooking Light’s Apricot-Blue Cheese Angels

1 cup boiling water
1 6 oz package figs, chopped (I used Calimyrna, but Mission would work as well)
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
2 oz crumbled goat cheese
2 sheets frozen pastry dough, thawed
1 egg, lightly beaten

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Combine 1 cup boiling water and figs in a medium bowl, and let stand for 10 minutes. Reserve 2 tbsp of the soaking liquid, and then drain the figs in a colander. Place figs, reserved 2 tbsp soaking liquid, walnuts, honey, juice, and cinnamon in a food processor; pulse until coarsely ground. Add cheese to processor; pulse 3 times or until blended.
  3. Place 1 sheet pastry dough on a work surface lightly dusted with flour. Gently roll into a 12 ½-inch square. Cut dough into 25 (2 ½-inch) squares. Top each dough piece with about 1 tsp fig mixture. Working with one dough piece at a time, bring corners up to the center and pinch closed. Place the pastries on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat steps with remaining dough and fig mixture, placing formed pastries on a second baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush pastries evenly with egg. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until golden.


Happy New Year Y’all!

Happy 2013! It’s a new year, which means I’ll be making collard greens tonight, lamenting tomorrow’s return to work, and setting my annual resolutions.

Most New Year’s resolutions don’t survive to see Valentine’s Day, and at least one of those every year is mine. Yet here I am, thinking about what improvements I want to make for 2013. I can’t help it, I am a sucker for the optimism and hope that makes us all want to be better this year than we were last year.

My resolutions are usually along the lines of everyone else’s: lose weight, do a better job balancing work and family, lighten up, etc., etc. Vague and, therefore, unrealistic. So this year, I’m taking a different approach. I thrive on lists (just ask my coworkers, my notebook is NUTS), so instead of lofty unspecific resolutions, I’ve decided to make a 2013 to-do list.

  1. Be able to run 5K without stopping (pathetic, I know, but I am a HORRIBLE runner)
  2. Launch a new blog design (Mom Machine is getting a face lift!)
  3. Take a long weekend trip with my husband, just the two of us
  4. Keep up with Pilates at least once a week, in class or alone doesn’t matter, as long as I do it
  5. Spend an entire day saying “yes” to Olivia—cookies for dinner, four books for bedtime, an extra slide or six at the playground, whatever she wants
  6. Take a day off to go on a day date with my husband while Olivia is at daycare
  7. Pluck up the nerve to go make friends with my mommy neighbors (who knew it would be so hard to make friends in your 30s?!)
  8. Go an entire week without losing my cool and snapping at someone. . .or at least give it the old college try, ha!
  9. Create a Will (waaaaaay overdue considering we have a little person depending on us)
  10. When Olivia asks me to play with her, do it—doesn’t have to be every single time, but at least twice a week

Are you setting any New Year’s resolutions or creating your own to-do list this year? Share your resolutions if you’re up for it!