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It’s that time of year when the weather outside is less than inviting and you find yourself craving all those familiar dishes you shared with your family when you were growing up. Perhaps you’ve left many of them behind because they were loaded with carbohydrates and not as healthy as eating a salad… But still, on cold winter days those cravings persist…

One way around it is to make healthier versions of the foods that you once loved. I did this last Sunday by making shepherd’s pie. I started with a recipe I found at simplyrecipes.com and switched out the white potatoes for sweet potatoes — mashed with chicken broth and butter; and using lean ground turkey rather than ground beef. Instead of including peas, I added fennel, celery, kale, and carrots; and then threw in a few cranberries, and fresh pear to give it a hint of Thanksgiving. I have to say it really did the trick – satisfying a comfort food craving – with 70% less guilt about the carb loading…

Ground Turkey Shepherd’s Pie

Prep time: 20 minutes; Cook time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 lbs of sweet potatoes (3 large potatoes, peeled & chopped)
  • 2 stalks of celery, coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 6 medium sized mushrooms, chopped
  • ½ red pepper, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup of dried cranberries
  • 1 cup of chopped Anjou pear (1 good-sized pear)
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground turkey breast
  • 4 tablespoons butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup chicken or turkey broth
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons of dried  savory
  • 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning (including dried oregano, basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary)Read how to make your own at: http://www.food.com/recipe/italian-seasoning-82770?oc=linkback
  • pinch of salt
  • black pepper to taste

How to:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Peel and cut sweet potatoes into 2 inch chunks, boil in salted water until tender (about 20 minutes).
  3. While the potatoes are cooking, after all vegetables are cleaned and chopped, melt 2 Tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in large frying pan.
  4. Sauté mushrooms in butter and olive oil over medium heat until they begin to soften. Add carrots, celery and cook until the celery and carrots begin to soften
  5. Add ground turkey and sauté until no longer pink. Once meat has browned add spices, salt and pepper. When mixture dries, add 2 tbsp of chicken or turkey broth and cook, uncovered, over low heat for 10 minutes, adding more broth as necessary to keep moist.
  6. When meat is cooked thoroughly, add cranberries and chopped pear and cook for another 3-5 minutes, then remove from heat.
  7. Mash potatoes in bowl with remainder of broth and butter (add broth first, let the potatoes soak up the broth, then add butter and mash). Season to taste.
  8. Place turkey/vegetable mix in baking dish. Distribute mashed potatoes on top. Rough up with a fork so that there are peaks that will brown nicely. You can use the fork to make some designs in the potatoes as well.
  9. Cook in 400 degree oven until bubbling and brown (about 30 minutes). Broil for last 3-5 minutes if necessary to brown. Watch the oven to ensure that the potatoes brown, but do not blacken.

Yield: Serves four to 8 people — depending on how strong those cravings may be!

Credit: Inspired by recipe found at:  http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/easy_shepherds_pie/

 

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Valentine's day dinner

Valentine's Day dinner

In my house Valentine’s day is a BIG holiday – worth celebrating all month long. This year, my husband Rick surprised me with a dinner that was filled with heart. At the center of the dish was a gluten-free crab cake shaped like a heart, and cooked up out on the grill. To the left you see grilled “heart-beets,” and to the right a sliced and grilled sweet potato.  Of course, Rick included a lovely salad (below) of romaine leaves,  cucumbers, tomatoes, and avocados, and guess what? Each vegetable resembled a heart!

Valentine's Day salad

let's not forget the salad!

Rick is an artist, with a keen eye for hearts. His images are proudly displayed on my blog and website. He finds hearts just about everywhere and generously shares them with the world in his own blog and through the products made available on his website, www.FoundHearts.com.  This year Rick and his colleague Steve Godwin created a wonderful book called Finding Heart combining poems and images that explore themes of loving, longing, struggle and finding comfort in truly knowing oneself, while noticing every day signs that love is truly all around us.

This month I invite you to join Rick and me in celebrating Valentines day all month long. Make a point of giving yourself a little loving.  Take yourself out on a beauty date – enjoy a walk under a lovely blue sky or a stroll through an art museum – or make a creative meal filled with HEART. Find ways to celebrate you and your own hearty life!

If you only eat sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving you are missing out on a great food to include in your balanced diet. Sweet potatoes are lower in glycemic values than white potatoes and some nutrition scientists believe that they can ultimately help with your metabolism.

They contain carotenoids that are thought to help stabilize blood sugar levels and lower insulin resistance, making your body’s cells more responsive to insulin.Rich in fiber, sweet potatoes are fat-free, and they can keep your stomach feeling satisfied for hours. Sweet potatoes are also rich in potassium and vitamins A & C; and they have about as much disease  fighting beta-carotene as carrots.

In many Thanksgiving meals sweet potatoes are covered with sugar and butter which is a real shame because they have so much flavor on their own. At my house we love to lightly coat sweet potatoes in olive oil and sprinkle them with a little cardamom and cinnamon and then put them directly on the grill, or wrap the oiled and spiced potatoes in some aluminum foil, and then grill them.

Health & Nutrition Counseling

An integrative approach to health and nutrition which includes Earth consciousness.

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