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Healthy Helpings

January signals the end of a long holiday season for many of us and a time to develop healthier eating habits. It isn’t necessary to buy packaged, low-fat, low-carb, lean dinners. Try using whole, fresh foods from your supermarket.

SPINACH & WATER CHESTNUT SOUP
5 cups fresh spinach
1 (8-oz.) can water chestnuts, drained
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
4 green onions
1 Tablespoon chopped garlic
5 cups chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 Tablespoon fresh chives or 1 teaspoon dried chives

Wash spinach and tear into bite-sized pieces, unless using baby spinach. Slice green onions in 1/4-inch pieces at an angle, using both white and green parts. Slice water chestnuts into thin slices. In a medium saucepan, bring chicken stock to a gentle boil. Add spinach, water chestnuts, soy sauce, green onions, garlic, salt, and pepper, and simmer about three minutes. Stir in chives and ladle into bowls. Serves 4-6.

ARUGULA, ARTICHOKE, & KALAMATA OLIVE SALAD
4 small artichokes
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3 cups arugula
1/2 cup kalamata olives
1-1/2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt
Cracked black pepper
Parmesan cheese shavings

Shopping/preparation notes: You can find pre-washed ready-to-use arugula, which has a pleasant peppery bite to it, in the bagged lettuce area of most supermarkets. Baby arugula is better, but regular size argula is fine too. Choose small artichokes, about 3 inches in diameter. Make large-sized Parmesan cheese shavings from a block of Parmesan cheese by using the wide area of a box grater or vegetable peeler.

Add lemon juice to a 4-quart pan that is half-filled with water. Heat over medium high heat. Trim artichoke stalks at the base. Pull off about 10 of the outer leaves until the leaves remaining are pale green and/or purplish. Using a sharp knife, slice off about an inch of the remaining leaves at the top of the artichoke. This removes the stickers that are on the ends of the leaves. Rub the cut ends with lemon juice to prevent darkening. Plunge artichokes into boiling water. Cook over medium heat for about 30 minutes or until tender. Drain. When cool enough to handle, slice artichokes in half lengthwise and scoop out the small hairy choke. Make sure you get all of the choke as this cannot be eaten.

Arrange arugula leaves on four serving plates and place artichoke halves on top, cut side upward. Add olives and drizzle olive oil lightly over salad. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serves 4.

HEARTY TURKEY SOUP
1-1/2 lbs. lean ground turkey
1 lb. fresh carrots, sliced
1 (10-oz.) box frozen peas
1 (10-oz.) box frozen corn
6 chopped green onions
6 small red potatoes, with skins
1 (15-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
4 stalks celery
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 cans (46 oz.) V-8 juice

Brown turkey in a large Dutch oven. Drain completely. Cut green onions, celery, and potatoes into bite-size pieces. Add all vegetables into pot. Add pepper and juice. Bring to a boil and simmer three to four hours. Stir occasionally. Serves 12.

APPLE CUSTARD
6 small apples, thinly sliced
2 large eggs
1/2 cup 1% milk
1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Pinch of salt
1 Tablespoon sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 10-inch glass pie plate with non-stick cooking spray. Arrange apples in prepared plate. Beat together eggs until frothy with a mixer on medium speed. Add milk, 1/2 cup sugar, sour cream, flour, extracts, and salt. Continue beating until well-blended, about two minutes. Pour over fruit in pie plate. Sprinkle top with remaining 1 Tablespoon sugar. Sprinkle almonds over top. Bake in 350°oven until puffed and lightly browned. This will take about 45 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve warm. Serves 8.

Coming Next Month: Crockpot Cooking

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