Sweet Potato Wedges & Wraps


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I've recently fallen in love with sweet potatoes and I came across these recipe's on a food blog I've started following.
I was leery as to whether or not the kids would like them, but they did surprisingly well. The kids L-O-V-E-D them. The baked wedges are a great alternative to the fattening Sweet Potato Fries that are selling so well in the fast food restaurants these days.

Sweet Potato Wedges (aka Sweet Potato Baked Fries)
2 large sweet potatoes
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp sea salt (or kosher/course salt)
1 tsp thyme
3 T olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix garlic, salt, thyme and oil. Set aside. Peel, rinse, dry and cut potatoes into wedge like shape, trying to be somewhat consistent in size for baking purposes. Place on large baking sheet in a single layer and brush on oil mixture so that wedges are completely covered. Bake in oven 20-25 minutes until browned and tender. Serves 6.
Calories 240, Fat 7g, Saturated Fat 1g, Carbohydrates 43g, Fiber 6g, Protein 2.4g, Weight Watchers = 4.5 pts

Sweet Potato Wraps
Sweet Potato Wedges
Feta cheese (reduced fat)
Lettuce (I prefer Romaine)
Balsamic Glaze (make a bunch and store or can buy from a restaurant)
Whole Wheat tortilla wraps

Place all items into the center of the tortilla, wrap tightly and enjoy. Serves 6.
Calories 395, Fat 12g, Saturated Fat 2.4g, Carbohydrates 67g, Fiber 10g, Protein 8g, Weight Watchers = 7.5 pts

Food Facts - Sweet Potato


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Although sweet potatoes may be part of the Thanksgiving tradition, be sure to add these wonderful naturally sweet vegetables to your meals throughout the year; they are some of the most nutritious vegetables around. Sweet potatoes can be found in your local markets year-round, however they are in season in November and December.

The sweet potato has yellow or orange flesh, and its thin skin may either be white, yellow, orange, red or purple. Sometimes this root vegetable will be shaped like a potato, being short and blocky with rounded ends, while other times it will be longer with tapered ends. There is often much confusion between sweet potatoes and yams; the moist-fleshed, orange-colored root vegetable that is often called a "yam" is actually a sweet potato.

Sweet potatoes should be stored in a cool, dark and well-ventilated place, where they will keep fresh for up to ten days. Ideally, they should be kept out of the refrigerator in a cool, dry, dark place not above 60?F, which would fit the characteristics of a root cellar. Yet since most people don't have root cellars, we'd suggest just keeping your sweet potatoes loose (not in a plastic bag) an storing them in a cool, dark, and well-ventilated cupboard away from sources of excess heat (like the stove).

A Few Quick Serving Ideas:
Purée cooked sweet potatoes with bananas, maple syrup and cinnamon. Top with chopped walnuts.

Steam cubed sweet potatoes, tofu, and broccoli. Mix in raisins and serve hot or cold with a curried vinaigrette dressing.

Desserts made with sweet potatoes are an autumn favorite but can be enjoyed year round. Try making sweet potato pie, bread, muffins or pudding.

Baked sweet potatoes are delicious even when served cold and therefore make a great food to pack in to-go lunches.

Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A. They are also a very good source of vitamin C and manganese. In addition, sweet potatoes are a good source of copper, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, potassium and iron.

Missing in Action




Boy, time flies when you're having fun! But you may be wondering where I've been and why haven't I posted any recipes lately. Well, I have been very busy the last few days trying out new recipes to tell you about. The problem is, I didn't really like any of them! I started to get distressed about it, but I realized it's OK for me to admit the disappointment and share with you what I learned. After all, this entire blog is a journey for me as I develop and learn all about healthy cooking and I'm so grateful you are on this journey with me.

Spinach & Tomato Phyllo Something-or-Other (ok, I forgot the real name and I already threw away the magazine since I didn't like the recipe).

This recipe had great potential! It came from the current Taste of Home magazine. Sometimes they have great recipe's, and other times I am disappointed. Anyway, it was a layered type casserole. At the bottom you put a few sheets of phyllo. Have you ever used phyllo dough? It can be difficult, but worth it! The first layer was a mixture of chopped spinach, feta cheese, cottage cheese, and a few seasonings. The other layer was just plain tomatoes. After alternating the spinach mixture and tomatoes a few times you finish the top with more phyllo sheets. Brush with water or oil to seal the sheets and then bake until dough is golden brown. I was really excited to try this, but the fact of the matter is that it was just too plain. Not near enough pizzazz! It had a hint of “lazagna” feel to it due to the cottage cheese and tomato. I only wish it had more flavor. I will probably try this again, but add spaghetti sauce and more spice. Maybe I just need to find a good vegetarian lasagna recipe. Any suggestions?

Steak and New Potato Toss
This was another Taste of Home recipe disappointment, especially because I spent good money on steak that I wouldn't have normally purchased for a regular week-day meal. I washed and quartered a bunch of red potatoes, spread them on a baking sheet, and sprinkled with garlic salt and Johnny's Seasonings. While the potatoes were cooking I grilled the steak on the stove with garlic salt and Johnny's Seasonings (are you seeing a pattern of my favorite seasonings?). The recipe called for “red bell peppers” but my Wal-mart is a bit pathetic in the produce section and they only had green. I think it would have helped to look better, but I don't think it affected the taste. I made a vinaigrette and combined everything in a giant bowl. Although the steak tasted REALLY GOOD – the rest was rather bland. I think it needed onion of some sort, I'm not sure what else. I just know it was lacking somehow. If I figure it out, I'll let you know.

Red Beans and Rice with Smoked Sausage

This recipe actually turned out FABULOUS! I've made it several times before and it's always a success. The problem came later as I was preparing to blog it and discovered the nutritional value. YIKES! 847 calories and 27g of fat, 18 weight watcher points. Oh my goodness! We're definitely going to have to find a better alternative for the smoked sausage in this recipe. If you have a suggestion, please let me know. I'll post the make-over recipe once it is complete.

Thank you for your patients. I have a lot planned for this week. More trial recipe's and hopefully a good ol' stand-by :)

Food Facts - Avocado


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Avocado season is beginning, one of my favorite fruits! You should be able to find them at a good price through the end of the summer. Here are some things you may not have known about avocados:

Avocados will not ripen on the tree. They must be picked from the tree to initiate ripening. The leaves supply a substance that prevents ripening. This is why they are usually very hard when arriving at the supermarket, its a sign of freshly picked avocado. A firm avocado will ripen in a paper bag or in a fruit basket at room temperature within a few days. As the fruit ripens, the skin will turn darker. Avocados should not be refrigerated until they are ripe. Once ripe, they can be kept refrigerated for up to a week.

Avocados are loaded with nutrients such as dietary fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, and folate. They're also cholesterol and sodium free. Avocados contain 60% more potassium per ounce than bananas. This fruit is an excellent source of monounsaturated fat.

A few quick serving ideas:

*Use chopped avocados as a garnish for black bean soup.

*Add avocado to your favorite creamy tofu-based dressing recipe to give it an extra richness and beautiful green color.

*Mix chopped avocados, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice and seasonings for a rich-tasting twist on traditional guacamole.

*Spread ripe avocados on bread as a healthy replacement for mayonnaise when making a sandwich.

*For an exceptional salad, combine sliced avocado with fennel, oranges and fresh mint.

*For a beautiful accompaniment to your favorite Mexican dish, top quartered avocado slices with corn relish and serve with a wedge of lime.

Meal time makeover - Mexican Bean Dip


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On Saturday we had a family favorite for dinner, 7 Layer Mexican Bean Dip. It's the typical layered bean dip complete with sour cream, guacamole, and cheese served with tortilla chips. We like it so much, we eat it as a meal. On Monday, I was back at the market and while I was in line to check out (don't ever go shopping when hungry), I was trying to keep myself distracted from the candy calling my name to the left of me by reading the magazine titles on my right. I was attracted to the Taste of Home spring edition featuring a fabulous alternative to the classic layered bean dip.

(I was going to take a picture of this fantastic fusion explosion, but it was eaten so fast I never had a chance! So I lifted this directly from the magazine, please don't turn me in!)

Subtract the sour cream, guacamole, and cheese - add in fresh papaya, smooth avacado, and "kick" it with ancho chili pepper and serrano's -- and this MAKEOVER is complete! It's not designed to be a "main dish" so I added chicken. It was still not as filling as I'd like, but Brian ate so much of it, he was full!

Tropical Fusion Salad with Spicy Tortilla Ribbons

2 cups cubed and peeled papaya
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and cubed
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 serrano peppers, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro

1/4 cup orange juice
2 T lime juice
1 T cider vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp ground ancho chili pepper
1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt

Tortilla ribbons:
corn tortillas
ground ancho chili pepper

In a large bowl, combine salad ingredients and dressing ingredients together. For the chips, cut tortillas into 1/4 inch strips and place on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt and chili pepper. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes until crisp. Serve with salad.

Yields 4 servings: 1 1/4 cup salad with 10 tortilla strips equals 321 cal., 8g fat (1g sat fat), 58 carb., 11g fiber, 9g protein. Weight Watchers=6 pts

P.F. Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps


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Hey, this is Trish. Hope you like my first recipe post. These are fantastic as a main dish and are also super appetizers for a dinner party. This is basically the same, but I changed the sauce a little to reduce the overall calories and sugar content. Hope you love it as much as we do! FYI, I double this recipe to feed my family of 7. We have some BIG eaters in our house, plus I love having some leftovers for lunch the next day.

Meat Filling
1 1/2 T oil
2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 can water chestnuts
1 1/2 c mushrooms
3 T chopped onions
1 t minced garlic

Special Sauce
2 T sugar
1/4 c water
1 T soy sauce
1 T rice wine vinegar
1 T ketchup
1/2 T lemon juice
1/8 t sesame oil
1/2 T hot mustard
1 t hot water
1 t garlic and red chili paste

Stir Fry Sauce
2 T soy sauce
2 T brown sugar
1/2 t rice wine vinegar

Saute chicken in oil over high heat till done. While cooking, mince water chestnuts, mushrooms and onions. Remove chicken from pan to cool down. Saute water chestnuts, mushrooms, onions and garlic while you mince the chicken. (Tip: I use a food chopper to mince ingredients, fast and easy!) Mix stir fry sauce up and let the sugar dissolve. Add minced chicken back to pan and pour sauce over. Stir till hot through. Combine hot water, mustard with garlic and red chili paste. Mix rest of special sauce ingredients together add mustard mixture.

Serve in iceberg lettuce cups and top with special sauce! Make a complete meal with brown rice and stirfry veggies.

Nutritional info includes approximately 2/3 c meat with 1 T special sauce. Lettuce is not included, a 1/4 head lettuce has about 25 calories.

8 servings 175 cal, 5.5 g fat, 23 g protein, 7.5 g carb and 1 g fiber. Weight Watchers = 4 pts

White and Green Chili


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Wow this was some great chili! I liked it better than the traditional red chili we've been making for years. And talk about easy - was probably the easiest thing I've made all month!

1 1/2 pounds lean ground pork
1 cup chopped onion
2 15-ounce cans Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 16-ounce jar green salsa
1 14-ounce can chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp cilantro

In large soup pot, cook ground pork and onion over medium heat until pork is brown and onion is tender. Drain off fat and return to pot. Stir in beans, salsa, broth, and cumin. Cover and cook on medium heat for 20 minutes. Stir in cilantro. Makes 6 servings. 258 cal, 9g fat, 27g carb, 8g fiber, 23g pro., Weight Watchers = 5 pts.

Title name in progress




It's 1am. I can hear my baby breathing and my husband's wrestless legs. I love both those sounds. I had my gallblatter removed today - it was quite the experience. Just thought I'd share that with you.

Anyway, I've been thinking of the title name of this blog, Family Scratch, and wonder if it should be changed. I want the title to embrace the idea of healthy but not "too healthy", something that explains why I am doing these changes for our family, and also my love of food.

With Brian training for Ironman next year, we often talk of the idea that there is no such thing as an "Iron-man", only "Iron-families". Indicating the essential need of full support from family members. With that in mind, I'm thinking of renaming the blog "ironfamily recipes" or something along that idea. My only hesitation is that it won't make sense to people unfamiliar with Ironman and what it means. I'm going to start listing the blog in various promotional sites, and therefore need a catchy title that expains my niche quickly and effectively.

So what do you think? Please leave feedback and/or suggestions. I'd really appreciate it!

Homemade Sports Drink




bk here, i'm the husband referred to in the initial post. liz has asked me to contribute to the blog with an eye toward the more nutritious and sports oriented foodstuffs, so here's my first post: Homemade Sports Drink!

1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Morton Lite
1 pkt unsweetened Koolade mix
10 tbs Sugar
2 cups hot water
7 cups cold water

Mix salts, Koolade and sugar in a pitcher. Add 2 cups of hot water (i use hot from the tap) and stir until all ingredients are thoroughly dissolved. Add 7 cups of cold water to create full volume. Makes 9 8oz servings. 53 cal., 0g fat, 14g carb., 14g sugar, 0g pro., 113mg sodium, 32mg potassium compare to Gatorade™ which is: 50cal., 0g fat, 14g carb., 14g sugar, 0g pro., 110mg sodium, 30mg potassium

I've tried this recipe with both orange and lemon-lime Koolade packets and both taste similar to their commercial counterparts. (I like the lemon-lime better though)

The trick to making your own sports drink is to make sure you have the electrolytes as well as the carbs. While the simple carbs are indeed the most important nutritional need during and right after a workout, the electrolytes are also very important.

In that vein, Morton's Lite Salt is a key ingredient because it is made up of roughly half sodium and half potassium. A 1/4 tsp of Morton's Lite is the exact right amount of potassium you need. Add 1/4 tsp of regular salt to get the extra sodium you need and you have a sports drink that is almost exactly the same makeup of Gatorade™.

A big benefit about making your own sports drink is the cost savings. A good price on Gatorade™ is about $0.25 per serving while this homemade recipe is less than $0.04 per serving. Just for me, that's a yearly savings of almost $200.

A bigger benefit with making your own sports drink is that you know the exact source of carbs going into your drink. A lot of cheaper sports drinks (like Powerade™) will use High Fructose Corn Syrup as their simple carb and even some Gatorade™s use HFCS. Table sugar, on the other hand, is 100% sucrose.

I won't go into details about why HFCS is not desirable (that would be a very long and technical post), but sufficeth to say that sucrose is simply a better source of the energy you need during and after a workout than HFCS.

Sweet & Sour Meatballs


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I got this recipe from the "Deals to Meals" website. It was very tasty, and a great addition to my list of beef recipes. I used the 97/3 ground beef. If anyone tries it with the turkey or chicken, please let us know!

2 lb. Hamburger (or for a lowfat dish use ground turkey or chicken)
¼ c. onion
1 c. chopped crackers—Ritz, Saltine, etc. (or bread crumbs)
1 egg
¼ c milk
1 tsp. salt
¼ t. pepper
¼ t. garlic salt

Mix together all ingredients. Shape into small meat balls. Brown meat balls in hot oil and cook until nearly cooked through. Set meatballs aside and cook vegetables.

Cut following vegetables in 1 in. by 1 in. chunks:
Green, Red and Yellow peppers
White Onion
Carrots, sliced thinly

Sauté with a small amount of olive oil until tender. Set cooked vegetables aside with meatballs and cook sauce.

Sweet & Sour Sauce:
1 cup ketchup
½ c. brown sugar
¼ t. cornstarch
¼ c. white vinegar
1 t. mustard
1 t. soy sauce
½ t. crushed red pepper flakes
2 T. pineapple juice (reserve from pineapple chunks)

Check for right mix of sweet (brown sugar) and sour (vinegar). Adjust to taste. If you like a lot of sauce, double the sauce recipe. When sauce is thick, add meatballs & vegetables back into pot and simmer until bubbling and then serve over rice. Serves 6. 519 cal, 23.7g fat, 30.6 carb., 44.4 pro.

Moroccan-Spiced Chicken


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1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp black pepper
4 lbs chicken pieces (breasts cut into pieces, thighs, or drumsticks)
1/2 cup chicken broth

In a small bowl, combine spices. Sprinkle over chicken pieces and rub all over to fully cover chicken. Pour broth in the slow cooker and add chicken. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Makes 8 servings. Serve over rice. Weight Watcher Points: 2 pts. Rice nutritional information not included in analysis.

I am the Spice Girl




Question #1: Have you ever found yourself up to your elbows in a project and suddenly think "how did I get in this mess?"

Question #2: Have you ever been searching for a particular spice, KNOWING you have it, but never able to find it?

This is what happened to me on Thursday. I was trying to throw a meal in the crockpot before I had to leave for a few hours, but I could not find the turmeric. I knew it was in there somewhere since I had recently bought it for this specific recipe. It was driving me crazy. I looked three times in the "spice cabinet" but I have so many spices and other baking supplies that it couldn't be found. Suddenly I snapped! I was pulling out spices and sugar's like a maniac! I didn't care where they were landing, they were coming out. Before I knew it, the entire cabinet was empty and I was washing the shelves down. I didn't really have time for a cabinet-reorganization project. But I couldn't take it any more.

I was able to find the turmeric and everything else I needed to finish the recipe. So it all got dumped in the crock pot and I left the kitchen a mess. When I came back, I just laughed at how many spices I have. I don't mind having a great variety (which I do), but rather how many duplicates there were. I think I had 3 dry mustard, 4 thyme, and a ridiculous amount of lemon pepper. I also had 6 opened bags of powdered sugar that were only half full (twixits FTW).

My mom taught me to alphabetize my spices, which I do. Do other people do that? It doesn't stay in order for very long, but it helps. I feel so much better with my spice cabinet clean and orderly. I'll post the recipe I was making, it turned out really yummy!

Your new favorite Potato Salad


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Sorry it's been longer than I anticipated for this blog post. I've had some issues with my gall bladder which put me on bed-rest for most of the weekend (more info to follow later). I had plans to blog about egg recipes, but instead I'll just give you my favorite one.

My Aunt Pam makes this great potato salad that every raves over. The secret is in the potato - you bake it instead of boil it. Baking the potato helps keep the shape better and has a texture that keeps its flavor instead of turning to mush. It's not a recipe to use for "dieting", but is perfect for a church barbecue or family party. I know I'm suppose to be posting "healthier" versions, but this is one that shouldn't be altered. Instead - use it only for special occasions.

4 cups red potatoes, unpeeled and cubed
1 cup Mayo
4 slices of crisp bacon
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1/4 c. sliced green onions
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 425. Put potatoes on cookie sheet that has been sprayed with oil. Cook for 30-35 minutes. Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl. Add potatoes. Serve warm or cold. Serves 6

It is recommended that you serve this salad on the same day it is prepared since it doesn't keep well overnight.

314 cal., 20g fat, 25.9g carb., 8.9g pro

P.S. I find it easiest to get the pre-cooked bacon. Costco sells a bag of bacon pieces for a very good price. But I should probably quit buying it :)