Archive for Recipe ReDux

Recipe ReDux: Pre-run vanilla, pear & black tea smoothie

Each month, those of us participating in Recipe ReDux follow a theme to devise healthy, tasty recipes. The idea is to showcase good-for-you food that also does right by your tastebuds. So this month—where we’re giving a nod to the World Tea Expo with tea-inspired dishes—I’m bringing you a recipe that is deliberately high in sugar, low in fiber, and contains really only one major food group.

Wait, what?

pear tea smoothie1

See, when I think tea, I think running. In the mornings before my longer runs, I need some caffeine delivered via something less strong and gut-pummeling as coffee. So a cup of black tea is the typical accompaniment to my pre-run fuel.

The second component of that pre-run meal is one of the few times that conventional dietary guidance goes out the window, because I’m actually trying to eat high-carb, low-fiber, quick-hit-of-sugar foods. Those are generally the best way to quickly give your body the energy it needs to run without provoking your GI tract too much with fiber and fats.

So I figured, why keep the tea and carbs separate? The result is a pre-run vanilla, pear and black tea smoothie that will help put a few more miles on your Sauconys (or Hokas, or Mizunos, or those weird monkey feet Vibram things).

Runner’s vanilla, pear and black tea smoothie

(1 serving, approx. 180 calories)

1 (or more, see below) black tea bag
½ cup water
1 cup canned pears (or peeled fresh pear)
½ banana
¼ tsp vanilla extract
4-5 ice cubes
Honey, to taste

Heat the water either over the stove until boiling, or in the microwave for 2 minutes. Add the tea bag and steep for 5 minutes. Remove the tea bag, and chill in the freezer while assembling other ingredients.

Another option would be to make a larger batch of the strong-brewed tea, and leave it in the fridge for future use—that way, you’ll also have a longer time to get it nice and cold. Just use the ratio of ½ cup water to each tea bag when brewing, and measure out ½ cup of the brewed tea for use in the smoothie.

Combine all the ingredients—brewed tea, pears, banana, vanilla, ice cubes and honey—in a blender and process until smooth.

Pour, drink, and enjoy, leaving yourself ~30-60 minutes before heading out for that run.

pear tea smoothie2

If there’s no 20-miler on your training schedule today, maybe you’d like to try some of the other tea-ful recipes devised by my fellow ReDuxer? Just follow the links below:

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Recipe ReDux: Stacking patties

March is well-known for its green-themed, leprechaun-y, gold & clovers holiday, so for this month’s Recipe ReDux I’m bringing you the luck o’ the Indians!

Wait, what?


Our task this month was to play off St. Patty’s with a healthy stackable patty recipe, but while we started in Ireland, I looked around on the other side of the globe for my stackspiration (wow, that’s bad, even for me). Garam masala – a spice mix originating from Northern India – is one of my all-time favorite flavorings, so I worked up a breakfast? lunch? recipe that combines it and curry powder with stacks of quinoa, sweet potatoes, leafy greens, and eggs.

How do those nutritional powerhouses stack up? Here’s the recipe so you can see/taste for yourself:

Curried quinoa, sweet potato, egg and spinach stacks

(6 servings)

2 cups cooked quinoa
2 cups mashed sweet potatoes
½ red onion, roughly chopped
2-3 cloves garlic
1-inch piece of fresh ginger
2 tsp garam masala
1.5 tsp curry powder

Stacking layers:
4 hard-boiled eggs
½ red onion, chopped
Olive oil for sauté

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all the patty ingredients – quinoa, sweet potatoes, onion, garlic, ginger, and spices – in a food processor, and process until the large pieces are well-chopped and combined.

Lightly oil a baking sheet, or spray it with cooking spray. Dust your hands with some flour, and form the processed mixture into 12 patties, each a little smaller than your palm. Those of you playing along at home will note I just un-gluten-freed this recipe; but if you want to avoid the flour, a little oil or water on your hands will help keep them from sticking, too.

Arrange the patties on the prepared baking sheet, and put them in the oven for 15-17 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the hardboiled eggs into slices. Heat some olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat, and sauté the spinach and remaining onion until just cooked.

When the patties are ready, carefully lift them off the baking sheet (sticky little buggers), then build each stack with a patty, egg slices, another patty, sautéed veggies and a few cashews on top. Grate some fresh black pepper over top, and then demolish that tower you just built.


If you want to play more patty-cake, my fellow Recipe ReDuxers have a bunch more recipes for you:

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Recipe ReDux: Pizza party – thin-crust apple, spinach & blue cheese pizza

It happens to all of us from time to time – between work, school, kids, pets, hobbies, and the occasional weather snafu, you find yourself long on hunger and short on time. Time to call out for pizza?


Put down that phone, says this month’s Recipe ReDux! We’re having a pizza party featuring healthy, easy stuff-on-a-crust recipes so you can throw together a satisfying meal and give the delivery guy a night off.

I make pizza at home pretty regularly, but usually with a puffy crust that requires 1-2 hours of rising time before cooking. Recently – per Mr. Eating the Week’s request for wafer-thin crust – I realized that thin-crust pizza doesn’t require the rising step, thus cutting prep time down dramatically.

So it took less than 30 minutes from start to finish for me to throw together tangy, tart, fruit-and-vegetable-y thin-crust pizza like this:


Follow my recipe below to make up this gourmet-looking apple, blue cheese and spinach pizza for your own pizza party (and don’t forget to collect your tip!).

Thin-crust apple, blue cheese & spinach pizza

The pizza dough is largely based on Cheri’s pizza dough recipe; I’ve modified the ratio of flours, mixing method, and rising time. In my method below, you’re going to make a batch of dry mix, divide it and only use half to combine with the water and yeast, making 1 pizza dough to bake and 1 dry mix to save.

(4 servings [1/4 of pizza each])

3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
¾ cup very warm water

1 Tbs white wine vinegar
1 Tbs honey
2 Tbs stoneground mustard
2-3 cups spinach
½ Tbs olive oil
1 apple, thinly sliced
½ cup shredded or crumbled blue cheese

Pre-heat the oven to 470 degrees (you may find it works better when even hotter, up to 500 degrees).

Pour the warmest water you can get from your tap into a measuring cup, and add the sugar and yeast.

Combine the flours and salt in a large mixing bowl. Divide the dry mix into two equal parts, and set one aside for later use.

When small bubbles have appeared on the surface of the yeast/sugar/water, pour it into the remaining dry mix. Knead by hand until combined; the dough will be slightly shaggy and sticky. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface, and use a floured rolling pin to stretch it very thin.


Transfer the dough onto an oiled baking sheet or a silicone baking mat on a baking sheet. Whisk together the vinegar, honey and mustard, then spread the sauce onto the pizza dough.

Massage the olive oil briefly into the spinach. Top the pizza with half of the apple slices, then all the spinach, then the remaining apple slices. Finish topping with the blue cheese.

Bake in the oven for 11-12 minutes. Slice into small squares, and serve approx. ¼ of the pizza to each recipient.

Did you invite a big crowd to the pizza party? Then check out the full list of pizza ideas from my fellow ReDuxers:

Recipe ReDux: The merriment of mixes – chocolate chip banana scone gift mix

Blink and you might miss the end-of-year holiday season. Before you know it, the pumpkin pie pan will host nothing but crumbs, smoke will waft away from the blown-out menorah candles, and you’ll be considering launching a search & rescue team to find Little Timmy in the avalanche of ripped-open wrapping paper.

But thanks to the Recipe ReDux, you can feel good about gifts that will endure right into the new year – for this month’s theme, we’re doing shelf-stable food mixes that you can share with hostesses, friends and family alike.

Scone mix2

Now would be the time to get your name on my gift list, because I think you’ll like what I’m giving out: a mix to make warm, moist but crunchy, banana chocolate-y scones.


These are the same tasty little guys with which I kicked off this blog; with a pedigree like that, you know they’re good. But I don’t want to be that jerk who gives the gift of a grocery-shopping trip, so I changed up the ingredients (dry vanilla powder in the mix instead of liquid extract) and the method (chocolate chips added before butter, not after) to try to minimize the effort needed to bring the dry mix to scone-y life.


Do you know someone who likes a little something special for breakfast? Then package up this mix and check some gifts off your to-do list.

Chocolate chip banana scone mix

(8 servings, approx. 310 calories each)

Dry mix:
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp dry vanilla powder
½ cup chocolate chips

Combine all the dry mix ingredients and package in a sealable, present-y container.

Scone mix1

Write or print out the following instructions to accompany your scone mix gift:

Ingredients to add to the dry mix:
½ cup (1 stick) of butter, softened slightly
2/3 cup buttermilk (or 2/3 cup 1% milk with 2 tsp vinegar; let sit 5-10 minutes)
½ banana, cut into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Put the scone mix in a large bowl. Use your fingers to squish the butter into small pieces & drop them into the dry mix. Using your fingertips, blend the butter into the dry mix until it resembles wet sand and the butter is evenly distributed

Add the buttermilk to the butter/dry mix and blend with your hands until they just come together. Add the banana pieces and mix until evenly distributed.

Divide the dough into eight balls and transfer them to the baking sheet. Press gently on the tops to flatten them a little, then pop them in the oven for 20-25 minutes (the magic number is 22 in my oven). When done, let them cool for a few minutes on a rack before eating

Have a big gift list this year? Never fear – my fellow ReDuxers have got you covered with a bunch more shelf-stable gift mix recipes:

Recipe ReDux: Chipotles are red, corn can be blue, slowcooker cornbread is ready for you

The Recipe ReDux crew are taking advantage of fall(ing) temperatures to break out the slowcookers. We were charged with steering clear of the casserole zone, and to instead use the low & slow treatment roast a chicken, bake bread, make homemade yogurt or for other creative dishes.


I’d seen several recipes for avocado cornbread recently and thought, what a great way to add fiber and healthy fats, followed immediately by whoa, you need how much oil and butter? So in Recipe ReDux fashion, I took the added fats down a notch, and spiced things up with chipotle peppers to make a loaf of chipotle avocado cornbread in the slowcooker.


On a whim, I used blue cornmeal, which seems to taste the same but gives the cornbread an added color dimension along with the peppers’ red, corn kernels’ yellow, and the green from bits of not-fully-mashed avocado. In my original attempt, I only used 1 chipotle pepper and it wasn’t enough kick for my liking, so I’ve suggested 2 in the following recipe:

Chipotle avocado cornbread in a slowcooker

(8 servings, approx. 225 calories each)

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup cornmeal
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 Tbs butter, melted
1 avocado, diced
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, diced
½ cup frozen corn kernels

Mix the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Whisk the egg into the milk in a separate bowl.

Add the melted butter to the avocado in yet another bowl, and mash them together until creamy (but leave some of the avocado a little chunky).

Add the milk/egg and butter/avocado mixes to the dry mix in the large bowl, and mix until the batter is well combined. Fold in the chipotle peppers and corn.


Line a slowcooker with parchment paper (or grease the sides), and pour the batter in. Cook for ~3 hours on high. Lift the parchment paper out to remove the cornbread; slice into 8 wedges and enjoy!

But don’t stop there – my fellow ReDuxers came up with another ~60 recipes to keep your slowcooker busy! Just follow the links below:

Recipe ReDux: The seedy side of nutrition

Are you stealing a furtive glance over your shoulder to see if anyone noticed you entering… The Red Fruit District?

Chia berry pudding

Well, there’s no need for secrecy about this month’s Recipe ReDux – we should be loud and proud about the nutritional benefits of seeds! Because they have to fuel the start of new plants from scratch, seeds are packed full of nutrients that are good for us human types, too. Many have a good dose of healthy fats, fiber, and minerals; and they’re often a great way to add crunchy texture to foods.


Chia seeds are among my favorite little germinators, because they’re a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and are hydrophilic little weirdos that grab onto water & form a cool gel. That lends itself nicely to making chia pudding, which I’ve done in previous posts already.

So to make this one a ReDux, I added in a surprise source of seeds – fresh strawberries. We have a TON to use up from our recent CSA box, and it occurred to me that we could get a two-seed punch thanks to all the little studs on the strawberries’ skin.

CSA June

The result is a quick, warm, one-bowl meal that mixes seedy nutrition with a classic flavor combo – banana, strawberry and chocolate (thanks to the dark chocolate peanut butter I used). Here’s the quick recipe:

Chia berry pudding

(1 serving, approx. 390 calories)

3 Tbs chia seeds
¾ cup almond milk (or whatever milk you like)
½ banana
½ cup diced strawberries
1 Tbs chocolate peanut butter (like this)

Mix the chia seeds and milk in a microwavable bowl, and stir several times over 8-10 minutes (giving it time to set into a gel consistency).

Add the banana in small pieces, the strawberries and chocolate peanut butter, and microwave on high for 1 minute.

Mash everything around so the banana gets softened and the peanut butter mixes in.Enjoy!

If my recipe wasn’t risqué enough for you, there’s still more seediness in the tasty treats put together by my fellow ReDuxers. Just follow the links below:


Recipe ReDux: Brunch recipes for May showers

For this month’s Recipe ReDux – courtesy of Jenna Braddock at Fresh Food Perspectives – the group is sharing favorite healthy brunch dishes to celebrate May showers: bridal showers, baby showers, graduations parties.

My fellow ReDuxers are gracious hosts, offering up French toast bread pudding, pretty pink beet hummus, broccoli & egg muffins, and strawberry-rhubarb mimosas or coconut mock-jitos to wash it all down. And while I love me some brunch – so much so that my inaugural post focused on this great all-morning meal – I just couldn’t extend the invitations this time around. I’m in the middle of an all-out effort to get our little Cape house ready to sell, and I’m pretty sure the paint fumes would be off-putting to guests.


But don’t let my poor hosting skills keep you from enjoying May shower season! You’ll find links below to more than 50 great brunch ideas from this talented, health-and-tasty group:

Recipe ReDux: The Cupcake Conundrum

That’s right – a cupcake conundrum. Yes or no? Hot or not? On trend or on the way out?

This photo probably gives away the answer….

For this month’s Recipe ReDux – courtesy of The Meal Makeover Moms @JaniceBissex and @LizWeiss – we were challenged to either proudly fly the mini-cake flag, or put a new hand-held dessert on the pedestal. And while I appreciate a good cupcake now and then, I don’t really get why there are practically as many cupcakeries as Dunkin Donuts around Boston. Is there a rampant frosting deficiency in America?

But I still kept things trendy when I came up with my hand-held alternative: orange chocolate chia squares. The hydrophilic little weirdos known as chia seeds are well on their way to displacing kale as the icon of healthy foodie-ism. They’re full of healthy fats, can be used as an egg replacement in baking, and reportedly fueled some extraordinary runners.

Chia seeds will glom onto water and form a viscous gel, but that doesn’t exactly lend itself to palm-of-hand portability. So to transform the goo to ready-to-go, I started with a strawberry energy gel recipe from Tim Woodbury’s Running Recipes: Chia-Powered Sole Food (which I reviewed previously). I futzed around with the sugar, water and fruit contents, and then transformed the gels into decadent chocolate-covered treats.

These little beauties probably aren’t going to make great running companions (body heat + sweat + chocolate = ew), but I’ll certainly have one as a reward after a weekly long run. You can get your hands on them, too, with the following recipe:

Orange chocolate chia squares

(20 pieces, approx. 185 calories each)

2 large oranges, peeled
2 Tbs grated orange rind, divided
½ cup water
1 Tbs orange juice
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown rice syrup
7 tsp powdered gelatin (approx. 1 oz)
6 Tbs chia seeds
¼ tsp baking soda
1 ½ cups dark chocolate chips

Puree the oranges, water and juice in a food processor. Add the puree to a saucepan with the sugar, rice syrup, gelatin, chia seeds and baking soda, and put them over medium heat for 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Be sure to use a long-handled spoon because the mixture likes to bubble & spurt.

Remove the orange mixture from heat and mix in 1 Tbs of the orange rind. Pour the mixture into a lightly greased 9×9 baking pan. Allow to cool for up to 4 hours, or until well set (I left mine on the counter for ~20 minutes, then cooled it in the fridge for another 1 ½ hours, and they were ready).

In a shallow bowl, microwave the chocolate chips for 1 minute at 50% power. Stir, then microwave at 50% in 15-30 second intervals, stirring again afterward, until fully melted (it took 1 ½ minutes for me).

Slice the orange gels into 20 pieces (cut in 4 one direction, and 5 the other). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or tin foil. Use a wood skewer or similarly sturdy pointy implement to pierce a gel longways, then dip it in the chocolate until coated. Gently push the square onto the lined baking sheet, then top with a pinch of the remaining orange rind.

Repeat the dipping with all the orange gels, then cool in the fridge for 15-20 minutes.

Once you eat these, you’ll still have another hand free, which I suggest you fill with one of the treats on offer from my fellow ReDuxers:

Recipe ReDux: Down to the wire for herb parmesan scones

I had a good 20 days to create, make and test a recipe for this month’s Recipe ReDux, whose theme is “green with herb envy.” That’s roughly 3 weeks to make use of fresh, green herbs in a nonconventional way; plenty of time… dare I say, a luxurious amount of time.

So what did I do? Well, I waited until 7 am this morning to get started. Procrastinate much?

In my defense, I’m not the only one taking my sweet time. The calendar says spring, but the weather clearly isn’t ready to get the ball rolling – the bright white background in this photo is the foot of snow we just got two days ago.

Parsley, oregano, and Mother Nature’s annoying sense of humor

And I did sketch out my recipe idea several weeks ago, going with a savory scone that would depart from the usual sweets-and-dried-stuff motif. I just didn’t bother to open up the flour sack until today. Sadly, the first attempt was a big last-minute fail: the cheese topping burned, the scone was dry, and the whole thing tasted strongly like baking powder.

These are not the scones you’re looking for

Being optimistic – ok, pressed for time and out of butter – I staged that herb-y photo of the first batch and thought I’d just write about how I probably would make these XYZ changes next time. But piling lazy on top of procrastinate-y (sure, that’s a word) seemed like the wrong way to go, so I picked up another pound of butter and got to work. This time, I cut back the baking powder & baking soda, left out the capers, added a teeny bit more milk, and mixed the parmesan into the dough.

The result? An herb parmesan scone that was well worth the wait (and the frantic trip to the grocery store).

My favorite part about these scones is how green the herbs stay, even after baking. And the flavors get even better when you dip these bad boys into some olive oil. So don’t delay – try this recipe out:

Fresh herb scones

(8 scones, approx. 250 calories each)

2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 Tbs sugar
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ cup (1 stick) of butter, softened
2/3 cup buttermilk, generously measured (nearly ¾ cup, basically)
2 Tbs fresh oregano, chopped
1 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Use your fingers to squish the butter into small pieces & drop them into the dry mix. Using your fingertips, blend the butter into the dry mix until it resembles wet sand and the butter is evenly distributed.

Add herbs, tomatoes and cheese. Pour in the buttermilk and blend with your hands until they just come together. Divide the dough into eight balls, and press gently on the tops to flatten them a little.

Transfer the scones to the baking sheet, then pop them in the oven for 18-19 minutes. When done, let them cool for a few minutes on a rack before serving with olive oil for dipping.

You’ve got plenty of time to check out the herb-ful recipes created by my fellow ReDuxers, but don’t wait until the last minute. Do as I say, not as I do, and check these links out:

Lights, Camera, Pancakes! Recipe ReDux honors the Oscars

In just a few days, it will be time to honor Hollywood’s best at the annual Oscars awards. So our script for February’s Recipe ReDux was this: “In honor of the Oscars, create a healthy recipe inspired by your favorite food scene or featured dish from any movie.”

I used the way-back machine to find my inspiration – Pretty Woman, the Cinderella tale of a hooker (Julia Roberts) turned love interest for a wealthy guy (Richard Gere). There’s a morning-after scene in that movie where Julia Roberts’ character is lounging around, eating pancakes with her fingers, that inspired me to make Pretty Woman Pancakes.

For whatever reason, my middle-school-aged friends and I glommed onto recreating that scene, and spent the better part of a month making pancakes-eaten-with-your-hands our go-to after-school snack (is there an Oscar category for best use of hyphens in a sentence? I’m a shoo-in). There was something both cavalier and kid-like in that scene that seemed to resonate with a bunch of 13-year-olds.

But this being the Recipe ReDux, I couldn’t just put plain old pancakes on the red carpet (what would Joan Rivers say?!). So I added a few ingredients – dried apricots and dark chocolate – that boast complexion-friendly nutrients like polyphenols and vitamin A.

Mix up a batch of these Pretty Woman Pancakes and you can tell Mr. DeMille that you’re ready for your close-up.

Pretty Woman pancakes

(12-14 pancakes, approx. 85 calories each)

1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cups buttermilk (or 1 cup milk plus 1 Tbs vinegar and let sit for 5 minutes)
1 egg
1 Tbs butter, melted
1 Tbs honey
1/3 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup dark chocolate, broken into small bits

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg, then add the honey and butter. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients in the large bowl and mix together.

Finally, add the apricots and chocolate to the pancake batter. The pieces will tend to sink to the bottom after you’ve stirred them, so be prepared to re-stir things again just before you ladle it out onto the griddle.

Heat a pan over medium-high heat (think 7 out of 10); coat thinly with nonstick spray. Scoop the batter onto the hot surface, 1/8 cup at a time (math geniuses will figure out here that you can use a ¼-cup measurer and dole out half its contents to for each mini pancake). Heat until bubbles form on top through the batter and the edges are firm. Flip and heat on the other side for another few minutes, until cooked through.

Serve with maple syrup, honey, a little cocoa powder, or some crushed almonds. Or, just eat them unadorned, with your hands, with a gaggle of your middle school friends.

My fellow ReDuxers  have even more ways for your menu to take a star turn – check out all their recipes: