French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

French onion soup is a lovely decadent seeming treat. But it's not as bad as you think. And you can make it into a healthy dinner with a large salad.

Watch this video to see how easy it is:

Uh, Easy?

Ok, Ok, well, nothing is super difficult. But it does take time to cook down the onions. And if you want to make the French onion soup super rich, you can buy beef bones from your butcher. Then roast the bones to draw out more flavor. Toss them into a pot and cover with water and cook it for a few hours.

How to make it easier

Well, you don't have to make the broth from scratch. But the thing is, you can work on it over a few days. Make the broth. Make the soup and then let it hang out in the refrigerator to develop. Then when you're ready, reheat some portions and make the toasted cheese bread and float that on top when you serve it.

But of course you can buy beef broth and make it that way just like the video shows.

And you know, I wouldn't use lower fat cheese. I'd use the full fat stuff and just use a bit less. Again if your'e pairing this with a good salad, you're getting a well balanced meal. And remember you do need some fat in your diet.

Cook Yourself Thin is the resource hub for women 35-55 looking to lose stubborn pounds by cooking and eating the foods you love.​​​​​​​

Apple Pie In An Apple

Apple Pie In An Apple

If you don't want to make a whole apple pie, then make an apple pie in an apple.

Watch this video. I was amazed at how easy it is to make.

It's kind of so crazy that it just might work, right?

It's going to naturally be healthier since you can control what goes in, and you're not getting so much crust. You can find the official recipe here.

Do you think it would work with pears?

Alternative Recipes

Of course, if you want to do it in the slow cooker, then just make baked apples.

And you can poach apples or pears and put a little brown sugar on them for a decadent yet healthy dessert.

 

Broccoli and Bacon Salad

Broccoli and Bacon Salad

With broccoli coming into season soon, this broccoli and bacon salad will make a healthy and delicious side with most main dishes.

Watch how easy it is to make

You can find the full recipe here. I love the idea of the dried cranberries to add a tart balance to the creamy dressing.

You know, I'd probably quickly blanch the broccoli. Sure it's nice to be super crisp, but you do have the water chestnuts for that. I think very lightly cooked broccoli can be just as crisp in texture and is easier to eat as well as digest. You could also cook it very lightly in your microwave.

If you do, just make sure the salad has time to cool down before you mix it with the dressing.

What Else Can You Do With Broccoli

I love buying pre-made broccoli slaw from my local Trader Joe's. You can mix it with some shredded cabbage for a more traditional tasting coleslaw.

You can mix it with a variety of dressings as well so you're not just having to do the standard three coleslaw dressings (buttermilk, mayo and sour cream).

Here's a lovely lemon dressing recipe. And this broccoli slaw recipe uses a touch of lime juice.

If you want more protein, here's a recipe for a quinoa and broccoli slaw salad with a honey mustard dressing.  And finally, here's a paleo friendly broccoli slaw recipe.

Cook Yourself Thin is the resource hub for women 35-55 looking to lose stubborn pounds by cooking and eating the foods you love.​​​​​​​

Greek Salad Nachos

Greek Salad Nachos

Give Greek salad nachos a try for when you're watching football. They're healthier than regular nachos, and it's a refreshingly different choice.

See how easy they are to make:

 

The recipe calls for chicken. But you could add in some cooked ground lamb if you want to add in more protein.

These come together quite quickly if you do use the rotisserie chicken. And let's face it. You'd rather be hanging out on the couch enjoying the game, right?

Unusual Egg Rolls Made Healthier

Unusual Egg Rolls Made Healthier

If you love the flavor of egg rolls but worry about them being deep fried, then it's time to say hooray. We're going to look at some alternatives

Unusual Egg Rolls Made Healthier

There are so many different ways you can make egg rolls. You can update the filling, or the wrapper. Or you can remove the wrapper and turn it into a bowl. Let's dive in and look at some delicious ideas.

But first, watch this video for making Korean Philly Cheesesteak Eggrolls

How many of us really have a deep fryer at home?  Yeah, me neither. I don't think I'd want one either. It would be too tempting to make donuts and funnel cakes.

But it does get you thinking for updating the egg roll.

Alternate Cooking Methods for Healthier Egg Rolls

The quickest way to make egg rolls healthier is to bake them instead of frying. You will want to put some oil on top of the egg rolls so they crisp up.  Check out this simple egg roll recipe that's got a vegetarian filling.  (and what an awesome way to use up a bunch of veggies that you found in the crisper?)

Here's another healthier egg roll recipe from Hungry Girl. Even though the recipes don't tell you to, I'd rotate the egg roll midway through baking for an even browning.

Another healthier method is using an air fryer. I had one years ago and used it so much that I wore it out after four yearss. I haven't tried the new ones yet, but they look like they are a great alternative.

Mix Up the Filling for Healthier Egg Rolls

Egg rolls are also a great way to use up leftovers. You could make pizza egg rolls. If you have some leftover chicken, you could make chicken pot pie egg rolls.

If you have leftover lamb, you could roll up lamb with some tomatoes and feta to make a gyro egg roll.

Let your refrigerator be your guide.

Egg Rolls without the Roll

The first method is to just make an egg roll bowl. There are a lot of recipes out there on Paleo, Primal and Whole 30 sites on this. So check a few out and get inspired.

Another way to go low carb is to make some cucumber sheets using the Kitchen Aid vegetable sheet maker. Then you can add the filling and roll it up. It will be an interesting texture having the cool cucumber be crisp with the yummie warm filling.

Cook Yourself Thin is the resource hub for women 35-55 looking to lose stubborn pounds by cooking and eating the foods you love.​​​​​​​

 

Resources

9 Fun Ways to Use Cauliflower

9 Fun Ways to Use Cauliflower

Here's nine fun ways to use cauliflower instead of bread, rice and potatoes in your low carb diet. Down below, I have links to my other posts with cauliflower as a substitute.

Watch this video to get inspired.

 

You can see the links to the recipes here.

So Why Does Cauliflower Work Well

I think it comes down to the texture and moisture level. You can chop it fine and it absorbs flavors like rice. And you can get it to roast nicely without tasting bitter, and that's why it can replace things like pizza crust.

What Are Some Other Fun Ways to Use Cauliflower

I've already written some good posts:

Skinny Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Buffalo Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Cauliflower Steaks

Make Farmer's Casserole Lighter

Shepherd's Pie with Tater Tot Topping (you can use the recipe for the Cauliflower Parmesan Tots in this)

But Will I Like It?

That's the question of the ages, right? You don't want to go into this thinking “Well, I'll learn to like it.” I did that with eggs, and I still have inner resistance when I go to make my veggie scrambles in the morning. I tell myself I'm eating cheesy veggies.

So some of you will love the cauliflower substitute and some of you will never like it. And that's OK. I will say I've tried the frozen cauliflower tots and they're not a perfect substitute when you're craving Ore-Ida. But they're a good side, and they go well on top of my veggie scrambles.

I do love cauliflower in place of rice. I love mashed cauliflower in place of potatoes (or in addition to…)

All I can recommend is try it out. Add it in. Substitute completely. Find what works for you as you move towards incorporating more vegetables in your diet.

Cook Yourself Thin is the resource hub for women 35-55 looking to lose stubborn pounds by cooking and eating the foods you love.

Make Your Own Marinara from Scratch

Make Your Own Marinara from Scratch

One of the most fun things to do when you're overrun with plum and Roma tomatoes is to make your own marinara from scratch! It's easier than it sounds, and the results are far healthier.

Where to Find Tomatoes

photograph of my garden tomatoes

You can also buy a load of tomatoes from your CSA or a farmer's market if you have that as an option.

I love growing tomato plants. I use GrowBoxes. Self-watering containers are great. During the heat of the summer, I probably have to water every other day.

This year, I didn't get as good of a crop as prior years. I still grew a bunch of different Roma varieties including San Marzano.

They tend to be sweeter than most and are perfect for making a tomato sauce.

And of course, they aren't always ripe at the same time. So I'll pick what I can, and then process them a little bit, and I'm storing them in a jar in my fridge.

 

How to Process The Tomatoes

Now, I'm fortunate in that I have a 6 quart Instant Pot. (although, if I had an 8 quart, imagine how many more tomatoes I could process….)

You could also do this with a steamer, in the microwave, or using a special steaming pot on the stove.

You will want to have some way of separating the tomato from the water. I use a simple metal vegetable steamer insert. You can find plastic ones that will work for the microwave. You can also use the steamer insert right in a pot on the stove.

Put in some water, insert the steamer and then go prep the tomatoes.

How to Prep the Tomatoes

I cut out the top core of the tomato but leave the rest alone. Steaming will make it easier to get the skins off. And I like to pre-stew the tomatoes a bit. This is a bit of a personal thing, honestly. You'll need to play with a few tomatoes to get the hang of it.

I like to use the steam function for 0 minutes. Then I do a quick release and try to get the tomatoes to cool down quickly. Finally I'll peel off the skin and toss the tomato into a jar.

Another way that people used to do this was to stick a fork into the top of the tomato and plunge the fruit into boiling water for a little bit. Then you shock it by putting it into ice water. I have blanched food before (broccolini needs it), but if it's hot out, the last thing I want to do is be standing in front of boiling water. (This is probably why I gave up canning)

But What If I Don't Have Fresh Tomatoes

Not a problem. The reason why I want you to make your own marinara from scratch is because it's healthier and so much better tasting. You won't get all the sugar that the jarred sauces have.

Buy some good canned whole peeled tomatoes. I personally find Hunts to be the best quality. You may want to choose organic. My mom always used S+W.

One big bonus with canned tomatoes is you can get them seasoned. Some are made with basil so the flavor gets infused.

Make Your Own Marinara From Scratch

Your tomatoes are prepped. So let's get to work.

First, look in the mirror. Are you the kind of person who likes fresher tasting marinara or the kind that likes the slow cooked earthier flavored marinara?

And what do you want to serve it with?

I make marinara from scratch using canned tomatoes for my holiday manicotti.  I'll put in the recipe here some day but it's not going to make you thin eating it, believe me.

Also, you want to think about if you're going to serve it as is or if you're going to add in meat with it like Italian sausage or ground beef or turkey.

I think the fresher marinara is better with zoodles and angel hair pasta. You can also use it for dipping sauce for breadsticks.

And I think the slower cooked marinara is better with baked pastas, meat added (aka bolognase), or the thicker spaghetti.

I recommend Craftsy's Classic Italian Pasta Sauces: Meat & Tomato with Giuliano Hazan class. I learned oodles and think you will too. I'm always watching Craftsy classes when cooking and getting ideas for next week's meals.

Let me know if you enjoyed this style of blog post. Leave a comment below or contact me.

Cook Yourself Thin is the resource hub for women 35-55 looking to lose stubborn pounds by cooking and eating the foods you love.

Roasted Vegetable Enchilada Casserole

Roasted Vegetable Enchilada Casserole

Roasted vegetable enchilada casserole is a super fun and easy dish for when you want to have a vegetarian meal. Watch the video here:

You can see the full recipe here.

What Would I Change?

The black beans would be swapped out for something else. Have you ever noticed your body likes some things and not others? Hubby doesn't process black beans well. I don't know why, and I'm not going to really question.  I love heirloom beans. If you check out Rancho Gordo, you'll learn everything you've ever wanted to know about heirloom beans.  Some are firm, some are soft.

My local supermarket has other brands of heirloom beans and I'll sometimes buy them if I need them right away. Also, Rancho Gordo doesn't carry some of them. I love using snowcap beans in soups and stews. It has a potato texture and flavor and boosts your protein and fiber.

Other Ways to Make Roasted Vegetable Enchilada Casserole

You can continue making this throughput the seasons using different vegetables. The key is to remember to cut the vegetables into pieces so they roast evenly. If this isn't possible because maybe you prefer different texture, then roast the larger items first and add in the smaller items midway.

I could see this as being super delicious with roasted butternut squash as well as roasted broccoli.

Cook Yourself Thin is the resource hub for women 35-55 looking to lose stubborn pounds by cooking and eating the foods you love.​​​​​​​

Cheesy Hasselback Sweet Potatoes

Cheesy Hasselback Sweet Potatoes

If you're trying to go lower carb but you're not sure about swapping out your Idaho's, check out this fun video for cheesy Hasselback sweet potatoes. I really liked the cool chopstick trick:

What Else Can You Do with Sweet Potatoes

My husband complains that sweet potatoes never get as crispy as regular potatoes. That's why he doesn't want sweet potato fries or crusts.

I think I just haven't found the right recipe yet. Since he loves tater tots, I'll try these sweet potato tots. They're baked and since they're cut small, they'll get crispier.

Sweet potatoes don't always have to be used as a tuber in stews. Here's a fun recipe for fritters and another for shrimp cakes.

Cook Yourself Thin is the resource hub for women 35-55 looking to lose stubborn pounds by cooking and eating the foods you love.​​​​​​​

Chicken Gyro Bowl Ideas

Chicken Gyro Bowl Ideas

I think I love this chicken gyro bowl so much because it's fresh and fun. What I especially love about this recipe is that it teaches you how to make the pickled onions and tzatziki from scratch. That ensure you can control how much sugar and fat goes in.

A chicken gyro bowl could easily be made into a mason jar lunch.

Adjusting the Recipe

If you're going low carb, leave out the pita bread.  And if you're going whole 30, you'll need to leave out the beans as well. Most paleo diets are ok with legumes like garbanzo beans.

Normally I'd be running away from the kale and quinoa, but in this case, I'd try it out that way first and then make adjustments. Chances are, I'd prefer chard or spinach to the kale. And quinoa is growing on me.

I'm finding it easier to eat since I found out The Big Secret. You have to rinse it before cooking. It removes a bitter flavor.

I don't know any secret for kale. I think you either love it or you don't. And I don't. Mustard greens and collards are as bitter as I'll go.

You can save money by cooking your own beans and quinoa. I love the Instant Pot. Garbanzo beans definitely need extra soaking or longer cooking. For whatever reason, chickpeas just need that extra care.

Cook Yourself Thin is the resource hub for women 35-55 looking to lose stubborn pounds by cooking and eating the foods you love.​​​​​​​