Spring Chicken Soup with Lemon and Artichokes

March 27, 2014 in Dairy-Free, Gluten Free, Healthy Fare, Soups and Stews

A perfectly bright, warm, simple chicken soup for a day of April showers. 

Spring Chicken Soup with Artichoke and Lemon

Simple, flavorful, healthy. This is something of a copycat recipe.  I’m not going for anything even near total accuracy, but it most certainly was inspired by the Lemon Artichoke Soup you can find in the prepared foods section at Whole Foods. If you’ve been there lately, I’m sure you know the one. I love the flavor combination of lemon, artichoke and chicken (such as in this recipe), and having it rendered in soup form seemed like just the bowl of homemade nourishment I love in the rainy Northwest spring.  Read the rest of this entry →

Caulicannon: Irish Comfort Food – minus the carbs

March 16, 2014 in Gluten Free, Healthy Fare, Holidays, Side Dishes, Vegetarian Entrees

A low-carb, nutrient-packed version of the Irish comfort food classic for St. Patrick’s Day.

Caulicannon: The Irish Comfort Classic made low-carb.

This is certainly a last-minute entry for the St Patrick’s Day recipe bonanza that’s blown up the foodblogosphere all week, but the brainstorm just hit me yesterday and it would be remiss of me not to share it with you posthaste. I was hanging out on Pinterest with my morning coffee as per usual, thinking how lovely a nice bowl of creamy, starchy colcannon would be. Wait a minute, I’ve come to love cauliflower rice, why not use cauliflower mash as the foundation of a low-carb colcannon?

All on its own, I do generally prefer either ricing cauliflower or roasting it,  rather than the pureed version that can be substituted for potatoes, but in this instance, it really hits the spot. My only regret is not doubling the recipe so I’d have more leftovers.

Slainte to all! Read the rest of this entry →

Sushi Rolls with Cauliflower Rice

March 6, 2014 in Dairy-Free, Gluten Free, Healthy Fare

Sushi Rolls made grain-free with Cauliflower Rice

Sushi Rolls made grain-free with Cauliflower Rice

As you might have surmised from some previous posts, I’m totally sold on cauliflower rice. Whether you’re doing the low-carb thing, living paleo, avoiding grains for any reason, or just plain packing more vegetables into your diet at every given opportunity, cauliflower rice is a great option that can be used just about anywhere rice can. I realized just the other day, though, that one common rice context  place I had never tried using it was in SUSHI – one of my favorite indulgences. Yes, sometimes I can splurge and have the real deal, but it’s also nice to have an alternative that allows you to hit that flavor profile without actually going off-program (whatever program that might be for you).

I was really pleased with how my informal, very basic maki rolls came out! I added a little rice vinegar and honey to be a little closer to the flavor of sushi rice. You can use any filling you like, of course; here I just used a little avocado, carrot and cucumber for  a veggie roll, but by all means, add some fresh salmon or ahi if you’ve got it!

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Dairy Free Chia Seed Pudding Recipe

January 21, 2014 in Dairy-Free, Healthy Fare

Dairy Free Chia Seed Pudding. Breakfast or dessert? Why not BOTH?

Dairy Free Chia Seed Pudding
Dairy Free Chia Seed Pudding

 Pudding isn’t the first thing you think of for breakfast. But this pudding changes all that. This has to be the healthiest pudding of all time! Unlike flax seeds, chia seeds can be digested whole, and they are jam packed with nutrients.

The fun healthy cooking blog – Jeanette’s Healthy Living – made a chia seed pudding last fall that intrigued me. Then, Giada recently made a Chia Seed Pudding too. I decided to skip the dairy and use coconut milk instead. When you soak chia seeds, they absorb 10 times their weight in liquid, which provides the thickening for this pudding. The chia seeds soften and turn into little bites that have a gel-like texture – a little like tapioca pearls – making this a fun treat on your tongue.

I used coconut milk and added almond extract – a great flavor combo. And then I added sliced strawberries and almond slices – but you could use any berries or diced fruit. This delightful no-cook pudding can be made low-sugar or no-sugar – you decide. Just add your sweetener of choice!

Make up a batch of this by soaking overnight – it kept in my fridge for a week. And we ate it every single day and licked our spoons!

– posted by Donna

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Broccoli Stem Salad Recipe

January 16, 2014 in Healthy Fare, Side Dishes

Broccoli stems – rescued from the scrap pile!
You'll never throw out a broccoli stem again.

I am not a huge broccoli fan. The flavor of the florets is so strong that I choose other veggies when there is an option. So I was surprised how much I love this slaw that uses the stems of the broccoli stalk instead of the much prettier tops.

I have seen this slaw/salad in several places, and the the directions called for just shaving thin strips of the stems without ever cooking or blanching the stems in any way. I thought this was a mistake, and so for the first try of this slaw I cooked the stems, cooled them and then took my vegetable peeler to them. It was good.

But then, I tried the raw version – and liked it even better. When you peel the stems into paper-thin slices, raw works just fine. And is, in fact, YUM. I love the very mild hint of broccoli flavor and the crunch of the thin raw slices. This combination is the perfect blend of soft goat cheese, tangy vinaigrette and crunchy broccoli slices.

I really love this easy salad – and feel so good about making a dish out of something that would otherwise wind up in the scrap pile. I like parsley and a little goat cheese (that’s what I had on hand when I made this unique slaw) but you could add pretty much any vegetables you like. And of course your favorite vinaigrette.

Happy Winter Everyone!

– posted by Donna

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Steak Salad in a Jar with Butter Braised Radishes

January 10, 2014 in Entrees, Healthy Fare

Easy Healthy Lunch – Steak and Braised Radish Salad in a Jar

Steak Salad in a Jar with Butter Braised Radishes. Oh, and with a shallot citrus vinaigrette.

If you haven’t encountered salads-in-jars yet, you might just not be devoting as much of your life to Pinterest as *ahem* some of us. High time you made this discovery! I first saw the idea sometime last summer, I believe, through the aforementioned social media time vacuum. It’s simple and brilliant and utterly practical. You can build it with whatever ingredients you like, following the very simple pattern of proteins/ highest density foods on the bottom, with the dressing; medium density veggies in the middle (cucumbers, carrots, peppers), then the lightest ingredients on top – greens or anything you don’t want to get soggy. Voila, you have a hearty and easily portable lunch ready to shake & roll.

I often do this with grilled chicken or eggs as the substantial protein, but experimentation is always evolving new combinations, and I wanted to share a recent favorite with you. Building on another recent favorite, braised radishes, I tried combining some leftover chilled ones with steak, greens and a shallot vinaigrette, to great results. I think you’ll love this flavor combination – not to mention the ease of a healthy lunch prepped in advance.

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Garden in Your Pantry – Inspire Your New Year with our Vegan African Peanut Stew

January 6, 2014 in Contests and Carnivals and Roundups, Healthy Fare, Soups and Stews



 Start the New Year off right by entering the Del Monte® Garden in Your Pantry Sweepstakes, and cooking up a bowl of our Vegan African Peanut Stew!

Vegan African Peanut Stew

Vegan African Peanut Stew


With the New Year comes a New Beginning – and a fresh new way of creating in the kitchen. Let 2014 be the year of nutrient-dense foods and healthier ways of cooking them, we say! You just can’t get any healthier than this African Peanut Stew – with a vegan twist. African Peanut Stew is a wildly popular dish in Africa – usually made with chicken. But here, we vegan-ize this dish without sacrificing flavors or textures. It is, we think, better than the original chicken version. We added sweet potato chunks in place of the chicken and coconut milk in place of the cream. And the humble peanut is a nutritional powerhouse, it turns out. Who knew? Peanuts are packed with heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and contain resveratrol, the potent antioxidant found in grapes and red wine. These legumes have numerous other nutrients and antioxidants which make them nutritional rivals of berries. And, one more bit of good news: roasting increases their nutritional value! The addition of Del Monte® Petite Diced Tomatoes with Green Chilies added at the last minute adds freshness and brightens this stew. These tomatoes have just the right texture and the flavors are sweet with a little added green chile punch. Usually I use diced tomatoes cooked down in a soup of sauce, but in this case, they are adding a bright finishing touch. Heaven in a spoon! Here’s another bonus to using Del Monte’s diced tomatoes – the nutritional value of tomatoes is actually increased by the canning process – which makes the nutrients more accessible to be used by your body. I have loved Del Monte products since I started cooking with my mom in the early 1970s – her shelves were lined with Del Monte products. When you have Del Monte products in your pantry, you have garden quality™ fruits & vegetables at your fingertips. Join us here at Apron Strings by starting the New Year right and adding some garden quality goodness to your table, and be sure to check out the Del Monte page. We are participating in the Del Monte “Garden in Your Pantry – Inspire Your New Year” sweepstakes. One winner will be chosen from comments to this sponsored post.

Please leave us a comment with the answer to this question: “What are your favorite fruits and vegetables to stock in your pantry?” Good Luck to all our amazing Apron String followers!


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Kicking Off 2014: A Roundup of Veggie-Centric Dishes

January 2, 2014 in Healthy Fare, Vegan Recipes, Vegetarian Entrees

Veggie-Centric Recipes to Kick Off 2014!

Raw Beet and Butternut Slaw

‘Tis the season to renew commitments to health and self. There are hundreds of possible approaches out there, so far be it from us to suggest which one is right for YOU as an individual, as every person has unique needs, but the one thing ANY health centered plan has in common? VEGGIES. Lots and lots and lots of veggies! Whether low-carb or vegan or paleo or vegetarian or primal or flexatarian or Weight Watchers or Dukan or primal or or what-have-you, increasing the amount of nutrient-dense vegetables is just a given.

So rather than zero in one one particular approach, we thought we’d share a collection of veggie-centered (as in made only or primarily from vegetables, with other ingredients as accompaniment only) recipes that would be great for just about any plan, either as-is or with only minor modifications. You’re bound to find something that works for you. Hope some of these find their way into your menu regardless of your chosen approach – or even independent of any “approach”.

Cheers for a healthful New Year!

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Christmas Chicken Meatballs with Cranberry and Jalapeno: 5 Ingredients

December 9, 2013 in Appetizers, Gluten Free, Healthy Fare, Holidays

Five Ingredient Ground Chicken Meatballs with Cranberries and Jalapenos – Fast and festive is the name of this game.

Five ingredient Christmas Chicken Meatballs with Cranberries and Jalapenos

My inspired co-blogger had the most excellent idea of featuring  some 5 minute and/or 5 ingredient recipes this holiday season. I’m happily jumping on board, as we all could use a few simple AND festive ideas this time of year. Some of mine will take a longer cook time, but even for this one, 5 minutes is all you need for the prep – the rest is inactive. And only 5 ingredients, not counting, water, salt and pepper (which, to me, is like including gravity and oxygen – just consider them all a given).

My first offering: these ground chicken meatballs. These could be either an appetizer on toothpicks OR an entree paired with some hearty sides. Either way, a fabulous (and healthy) recipe, perfect for when your holidays are getting hectic.  Read the rest of this entry →

Five Minute Christmas Eve Shrimp Salad

December 6, 2013 in Appetizers, Healthy Fare, Holidays

Five-minute five-ingredient festive shrimp salad. Instant Christmas Eve on a plate.

Christmas Eve on a Plate

Festive Shrimp Salad: Christmas Eve on a Plate

Christmas Eve is a time to go festive with food, I say. And this Christmas Eve Shrimp Salad is a “5 in 5″ recipe – five ingredients in five minutes, yet so festive it really is Christmas Eve on a plate.

I do think the “cuteness” factor can go too far. I am old enough to remember the popularity of the Christmas Candle Salad, The 60′s was a decade of tacky food, even at Christmas. Now it makes me laugh out loud to see a photo of this very weird salad. Did people not see how lurid this salad was? Ho Ho HO!

But still, food can be pretty without being weird, don’t you agree?

For many years, the Kelly family did shrimp cocktail as a first course on Christmas Eve. The kids clapped when I brought the fancy crystal glasses to the table – with cocktail sauce in the glass and shrimps draped around the edge of the glass. It was so fun for them to dip the shrimp and the presentation started off the meal on a fancy note. But now that the kids are older, this is a more grownup way to fancy-up the meal.

It takes about 2 minutes to cut jicama slices into stars, but you can just dice it if you like – saving even more time!

Happy Healthy Christmas, All!

– posted by Donna

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