Friday, December 2, 2011

Two-Tomato Pasta with Broccoli and Creamy Mozzarella Sauce

I love meals that combine items already in my pantry, but are still healthy. It's worth taking 10 extra minutes to whip up something fresh than buying something loaded with sodium and fat from the frozen section of the grocery store (don't get me wrong, I love my Costco frozen cheese pizzas - but I buy 'em cause they're plain and I can add lots of veggies at home).

Back in the day, I had a love affair with pasta. I ate it every chance I had, and couldn't get enough of the wads of carbs drenched in sauce. Fettucine alfredo was probably my favorite childhood dish (see my healthy take on it here), especially smothered in Parmesan cheese. This is a similar dish, but I amped up the veggies, thanks to Foodbuzz and the chance to try Green Giants' new Valley Fresh Steamers

This is a great product: you just place the bag in the microwave (it stands up on its own), start cooking it, and the broccoli steams on its own right in the bag. It's low fat and the sauces are all-natural, another plus. I tried the Broccoli and Cheese Sauce version (another childhood fave, especially on baked potatoes!) and although the veggies steamed up nicely, the cheese sauce  kind of stuck to the bottom of the bag in little clumps. Kinda gross. I'm glad I added extra cheese to my version to give this dish the ooey-gooey-ness I was craving.

You could throw any leftover veggies into this dish - that's the beauty of it. Work with what you have and enjoy what comes together!

Two-Tomato Pasta with Broccoli and Creamy Mozzarella Sauce
Serves 4-6

  • 14 oz. pasta (I used half whole-wheat spaghetti and half regular orzo - use what you have in your pantry! This is a great way to finish off those almost-empty pasta boxes.)
  • 1 bag Green Giant Valley Fresh Steamers, Broccoli and Cheese Sauce
  • 1 cup Alfredo sauce
  • 2 tbsp. Italian seasoning with garlic (I used Garlic Gold)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (the Italian-seasoned variety would be fantastic here)
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
  • 1/2-3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (depending on how cheesy you want it!)
  • LOTS of grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • Optional: 1-2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced and sauteed in olive oil and seasonings
  • Boil a big pot of water and cook pasta according to package directions. This is a great time to prep all your ingredients if you haven't already done so (don't you hate those recipes that make you do everything ahead of time and double the time you spend in the kitchen?).
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.
  • While the pasta is cooking, cook the broccoli in the microwave.
  • If you're adding chicken, cook it until nice and brown :)
  • Mix Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs in a small bowl.
  • When pasta is finished cooking, drain and return it to the large pot.
  • Add broccoli, Alfredo sauce, Italian seasoning, diced tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, salt and pepper, and mozzarella cheese. Stir everything until combined.
  • Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs over the top of the pasta mixture.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes or until top is golden brown. Enjoy!

Mmm...cheesy pasta! Yum :)

BTW: Foodbuzz sent me a free coupon for Green Giant Valley Fresh Steamers (thank you!). My opinions expressed here are my own.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Guest Post: Healthy Eating for Your Health

Good morning friends! Today I bring you a great guest post from Leroy Templeton. He writes about the importance of healthy eating as just one way of staying healthy and, for those battling cancer, easing many symptoms that make one feel worse. As I'm sure many of you have experienced, I lost a family member to cancer and just found out the other day one of my grad school classmates passed away after a short battle with cancer. When it hits home like that, I'm even more motivated to fuel my body with healthy food and do whatever I can to keep cancer at bay in the future. If you or anyone you know is fighting cancer, or even if you're just looking to establish or keep healthy eating habits, I hope Leroy's tips will be useful for feeling better and improving one's health.

Check out what Leroy has to say, and don't forget to try his delicious juice recipe below. Thanks again, Leroy!

Good nutrition is a very important thing for all people. And while it is important, for cancer patients, it is essential. With cancer patients; making sure you have a working knowledge of the proper diet and food choices can ease cancer treatments and increase a patients overall wellbeing. Keeping an eye on the foods you eat can help enhance strength, recovery-time, vigor and even disposition.

Many forms of cancer often lessen hunger. Persons suffering of the sickness find it not easy to eat due in part to stress, unease, queasiness, exhaustion and many, various side-effects of their treatments. Thus, with reduction in appetite, it is important to make sure that when they are ready to eat, cancer patients consume healthy foods that are high in protein and calories. Choosing foods such as olives, dried fruits and nuts are good choices. Make an attempt to stay away from unhealthy synthetic sugars that can be found in candies, sodas and other sweets as these sugars can help to disrupt the cell division process; which, when left unbalanced, can lead to the development of a number of cancers from gastric cancer to peritoneal mesothelioma.

While it seems nobody can drink enough water, for cancer patients, this goes doubly. Those experiencing fatigue, nausea and other symptoms of cancer and cancer treatments can help fight some of the bodily harm that comes with that by replenishing their lost fluid regularly. High intake of water also helps regulate the body temperature. This can reduce much of the discomfort that comes with sickness. Another important thing to be concerned with is tolerance for certain foods.

Certain issues with food tolerance may arise in cancer patients as well. Treatments can hurt the ability of the patient’s small intestine to produce lactase. Therefore, patients going through chemotherapy or radiation treatment may want to avoid excessive consumption of dairy products.   

From fresh vegetables, one can get many vitamins which are known to help with the immune system. This is especially important when it is going through stressful illnesses. Raw vegetables cause some issues as they are difficult to digest though. This can be circumvented by blending veggies into a smoothie and drinking them; essentially jump-starting the digestion process and allowing for the body to still obtain the valuable vitamins and nutrients found in this food.

Just as with vegetables, fruits are another valuable nutrition option. Fructose can be upsetting to the stomachs of many patients however, so it may be important to choose fruits that have lower levels of fructose such as berries and citrus fruits. This way one can get the help that comes from the nutritional value of these fruits without overloading the small intestine.

While engaged in a battle with cancer, it is important to distance yourself from foods that promote bacteria. This includes raw foods and meats as well as eggs and seafood. The effects of healthy eating can be one of the most critical elements of health. In the face of cancer the importance of those effects are compounded.

Hawaiian Getaway Juice

This juice has actually been studied, and used in cancer hospitals to give patients a healthy boost and delicious treat. It is rich in antioxidants and great for digestion, and it’s a little taste of paradise.

  • ¼ pineapple
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 piece fresh ginger (roughly ½ inch)

  • Wash ingredients
  • Core and peel pineapple
  • Juice
  • Pour over or blend in ice
  • Sprinkle coconut on top for an added island feel.

Leroy is a recent college graduate from the University of Central Florida. He majored in English, and was involved with several health and fitness clubs including the sports medicine team. As of 2011 he is a freelance writer with a focus on the benefits of healthy eating and daily exercise. He can be reached at

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving Frittata

How was everyone's Thanksgiving? I was incredibly thankful to have several days off to relax and sleep too much. It was glorious :)

Hubby and I spent Thanksgiving at my parents' house. My mom cooked up a storm: brined turkey, sweet potato casserole, two kinds of stuffing, roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, roasted beets, roasted carrots, two kinds of cranberry sauce, Hawaiian rolls, homemade gravy, and two pies from Costco (pumpkin and pecan). It was wonderful!

Here's my plate of deliciousness:

My mom decorated the dining room table with gourds, flowers, and cabbage! Isn't it pretty?

Like any other mom, she sent us home with more leftovers than we knew what to do with. Since I hate wasting food and like being creative when it comes to leftovers, I decided to put my noggin to work. Since Foodbuzz sent me a coupon to try Land O'Lakes eggs, and I wanted something filling for lunch, frittata it was!

This frittata is really easy to make, and it cooks quickly. Hooray for a fast and yummy meal!

Thanksgiving Frittata
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens' Mediterranean Frittata recipe
Makes 8 small or 4 large servings


  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 8 Land O' Lakes eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup leftover cooked turkey, shredded
  • 1/4-1/2 cup leftover stuffing
  • 2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Preheat your broiler. In a large ovenproof skillet, cook onion and garlic in the olive oil, until onion is soft.
  • Add your beaten eggs to a large bowl. Stir in goat cheese, tomato, red bell pepper, and turkey.
  • Pour egg mixture over onion mixture in skillet.
  • Cook over medium heat. As the mixture cooks, run a rubber spatula around the edges so the uncooked mixture flows underneath. Continue until the mixture is almost set.
  • Sprinkle leftover stuffing over the frittata, then sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top of that.
  • Broil for 1-2 minutes, or until top is set and crumbs are golden.
  • Cut into eighths or quarters to serve. Add salt and pepper to taste (hot sauce is good too!)

It doesn't look pretty, but it tastes good!

Mmm...frittata :)

FYI: Foodbuzz sent me a coupon to try Land O'Lakes eggs for free. They were tasty. Foodbuzz didn't pay me to say that. Thanks again, Foodbuzz!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Guest Post: Healthy Dinner Meals

Thank you to Melissa from Blog Content Guild for a fabulous guest post today! Find out more at

So, you want to be healthy, but you don’t have a lot of time. It seems like a balancing act between nutrition and a demanding schedule, but you don’t need to make that choice. You can have the best of both worlds if you put a little thought into it. Using easy dinner recipes that are good for you will be a breeze if you put these tips in action.

Change up your core

It’s easy to get stuck on the same meals all the time. You already know how to make the recipes so it takes little, if any, effort on your part. Just because it’s familiar doesn’t mean it’s the best way to do things. Take this as inspiration to change around your culinary habits to cheaper and healthier options.

Believe it or not, some of the healthiest foods you can buy are also the cheapest. Options like beans, legumes, and fresh fruits and veggies are packed with nutrition, and they won’t break the bank. Think about making one day a week “vegetarian day,” and try to use ingredients like these. You can make black bean burgers and fries on your first night, or search for a different recipe that’s more to your liking. Whatever you choose, if you stick to these kinds of foods you’ll be getting a bigger bang for your buck. You don’t need to become a vegetarian, but it pays to think like one sometimes.

Use gadgets to your advantage

Just because it’s healthy doesn’t mean you need to have slave over a stove for hours on end. In fact, some of the best meals for you can be cooked in a crock pot. You might have been hesitant to try this method because it seems like everything would come out mushy and bland. That certainly doesn’t need to happen if you pick the right recipe, like this flavorful yet good-for-you chicken and sweet potato stew. Where else are you going to find a recipe that takes 20 minutes to prepare and can be left unattended for hours while you do whatever you want?

You should also consider buying a bread machine if you don’t already have one. It can be hard to find nutritious bread, but when you’re in control of the ingredients, you get to decide how healthy it’s going to be. Using whole grains and adding tasty and healthful ingredients like flax seed will help make this staple food better for you. Bread machines are similar to crock pots in their cooking method. You throw the ingredients in and let the machine do the work. Finding ways to automate your cooking with gadgets saves time and money.

Say goodbye to worrying about making dinner healthy and on time. If you start thinking like a vegetarian (on occasion) and use kitchen gadgets to economize your cooking, you’ll be surprised at the results. Cooking healthy doesn’t need to be difficult, especially if you do it the smart way.
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