Update-from-the-90’s Broccoli Salad (Halloween Edition)

trickortreatbannercoleen_7scary4You think that’s scary? I’ll tell you what’s scary. The 90’s are back. Yes, the 1990’s. And to honor the decade’s resurgence your teenager will horrify you with the buying and wearing of “mom jeans” and “chokers.” Just like with any resurgence of anything, there’s a twist. You can’t just pull your 25 year old jeans out of the closet and expect them to work, because they so won’t. So off to the store you go – for 2016’s version of your 1990’s jeans. broccoli-salad-3Similarly, you can’t just whip up a 90’s version of Broccoli Salad and expect that you’re eating something good for you. Back then (really? the 90’s are now “back then?”) most Broccoli Salads had way more fat and sugar than broccoli. I assure you, this salad is still good. Really good. As a believer that the food we eat should be real (as opposed to fake) and whole (as opposed to processed), I even used real bacon and whole milk cheese. I think the real, whole versions impart much better flavor so you can use a lot less of each. baconandcheddarI did cut back on some “bad fats” (and in doing so, added a bit of protein and calcium) by substituting some of the mayonnaise with nonfat plain yogurt. I also switched out granulated sugar for pure maple syrup, and don’t think anyone will be the wiser. Granted, sweetener is sweetener (they have a similar effect on your system) and there is nothing holier-than-thou about pure maple syrup. I simply prefer to use natural sweeteners in my blog post recipes when possible. If you prefer to use granulated sugar, cut the quantity back to 1/4 cup. bumperbroccoliWhat inspired me to revamp the 90’s Broccoli Salad was the “Bumper Crop” of broccoli at the Farmer’s Market this past weekend. OK, truth be told, I was home obeying Dr.’s orders for post-op recuperation, while my sister was being lured by the “Buy one head for $1.99 and the second for $1.00 sale.” The result: a win-win-win. broccoli-salad-2This throwback will make an appearance at a Trick-or-Treat viewing/dinner party this evening where we’re sure the treats will be well-represented. So what better contribution than a nutritious yet delicious vegetable addition? Forewarning, this recipe makes a quantity perfect to take to your next picnic, potluck or dare I suggest Halloween party? Maybe I’ll walk in with it while donning my mom-jeans and choker and call it a costume? Happy Halloween!

Update-from-the-90’s Broccoli Salad (Halloween Edition)


  • Dressing:
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 8 ounces plain yogurt (I used Siggi's, of course)
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup (NOT Aunt Jemima's. You're better off using white sugar than that which contains high fructose corn syrup)
  • 1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Apple cider vinegar
  • Salad:
  • 2 pounds fresh broccoli, chopped into large bite-size pieces (the pieces shrink while in the dressing, so make the pieces slightly larger than bite-size)
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 2/3 cup sunflower seeds (I used 1/3 cup roasted, salted seeds and 1/3 cup raw, unsalted seeds)
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 8-10 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled


  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the Dressing ingredients. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the salad ingredients together. Pour the dressing over the broccoli mixture and toss to coat.
  3. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 90 minutes.
  4. Re-toss the salad just prior to serving.


kswrapsbannerI am not a “sandwich person.” Give me a salad over a sandwich any day. It’s not that I don’t like sandwiches, I just rarely eat them. But when Sabra introduced a contest for Recipe Reduxers to use the new Sabra Spreads in creative ways, I knew I had to get on board mostly because…well, its Sabra. You know Sabra for the delicious hummus and maybe also the guacamole and salsa. The newest kids on the block are “Sabra Spreads” and I couldn’t wait to wrap one up and (sort of) banish my sandwich ban.

As a Recipe Redux member, I received free samples of Sabra Spreads mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Sabra and am eligible to win prizes associated with this contest. I was not compensated for my time.

I know that this is blasphemy to some people’s ears (particularly my nephew, a Chef) but to me, sandwiches are simply a culinary solution for a person “on-the-go.” They shouldn’t take a lot of time to make (which to the contrary, is music to most people’s ears). So it only makes sense that to keep the whole process quick, what’s goes inside the bread, pita or wrap shouldn’t take a lot of preparation. My wrap has a combination of leftovers and yours might have every and anything but the kitchen sink.

I happened to have some leftover rotisserie chicken, some roasted and sauteed vegetables from last night’s dinner and some lettuce on hand. I piled those ingredients onto a light FlatOut flatbread on which I had spread about 1 1/2 tablespoons Sabra Spreads Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper and in 2 minutes, had a really delicious, slightly peppery lunch to go. When was the last time you made a lunch as good-looking as this in 2 minutes? The convenient squeeze bottle means I didn’t even have to dirty a knife!

kitchensinkwrapsQuick and Tasty? Check and check. Convenient? Check. And at 75% less fat per serving than mayonnaise, Sabra spreads are lighter and better for you. For this recipe, any of the 3 flavors: Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper, Roasted Garlic and Herb or Honey Mustard would have worked and been delicious. Since I am partial to sea salt and black pepper, however, I chose that flavor. And a good choice it was…I may have just become a sandwich girl.

“Kitchen Sink” Wraps with Sabra Sandwich Spreads: [Recipe Redux]


  • 1 wrap (I used FlatOut flatbread wraps, light)
  • 1/3 cup cooked chicken, shredded
  • 1/2 cup leftover roasted or sauteed vegetables (pictured are: shiitake mushrooms, orange bell pepper, onion and asparagus)
  • 1/2 lettuce leaves of choice
  • 1.5 Tablespoons Sabra Spreads, flavor of choice. Pictured: Sea Salt with Cracked Pepper


  1. Spread Sabra sandwich spread onto the flatbread/wrap. On 1/2-3/4 of the wrap, top with chicken, then vegetables, the lettuce. Roll up from the side with the ingredients. Slide in 1/2. Enjoy!


Chicken & Broccoli Casserole [Recipe Redux Version]

Food IS Love. And nowhere is that more evident than in my little hometown of Emporium, nestled in the Allegheny mountains in northcentral/western Pennsylvania. Emporium is the county seat of Cameron County. And while it may be the least populous county in PA, the people who reside there make up in heart what they lack in numbers.


This month’s Recipe Redux theme is to Stir up some of your earliest culinary recollections…share a healthy recipe and the accompanying story about one of your first cooking memories.broccoli-and-chicken-casserole

The theme takes me back to one dish in particular that has made its way around my little town and served as encouragement to “Get well soon!” offer congratulations on a new baby, and welcome new neighbors. Perhaps most often though, this casserole provided comfort in its expressing “We’re so sorry for your loss.”

Even today, when my mom drops this dish at someone’s house, she almost always gets the follow up phone call: “May I pleeease have that recipe?” It was such a family favorite that my mom would also serve it when one of her kids came home from college. Amongst my college friends, we referred to this dish as “the boyfriend casserole.” Preparing this dish for a “new friend” was sometimes a, well, game-changer. Ah, yes…food = love. But over the years, to avoid having to toss this recipe into the unhealthy comfort food archives, this recipe required some tweaking.

Originally calling for just one bag of frozen broccoli as it’s only vegetable and source of fiber, instead I used fresh. I significantly reduced the amount of fat per serving by cutting back on the amount of condensed cream of chicken soup and grated cheddar cheese. I added a teaspoon of Tabasco because (brace yourself for this A-ha! moment) a little Tabasco makes cheese taste cheesier so you can use less.cr-of-chick-soup2

I found Pacifico organic Cream of Chicken condensed soup at Whole Foods market and used it in lieu of Campbell’s Cream of Chicken soup, keeping the ingredients ones you can recognize and pronounce and eliminating things like “modified wheat flour,” “disodium guanylate” and “soy protein isolate” just to name a few. You can find it: here and here.

CAVEAT: This recipe has been “healthed-up” by using the alternative cream of chicken soup. Using Campbell’s soup creates a much creamier product. If you choose to stick with the Campbell’s soup, using the fresh broccoli and smaller portions of soup and cheese will still result in a lower fat and calorie and all around healthier dish. Regardless, you’ll be serving up a big dose of heart.

Chicken & Broccoli Casserole [Recipe Redux Version]


  • 1 small to medium Rotisserie Chicken (skin removed, deboned), meat shredded or cubed
  • (If cooking your own chicken, bake or roast a small chicken and measure the equivalent of about 3 cups of cooked, shredded or cubed)
  • 3 cups Broccoli florets, cut into bite-size pieces and steamed until crisp-tender
  • 2 (12 oz) containers Pacific Organic Cream of Chicken Soup
  • 1/2 cup light (or regular) mayonnaise (NOT Miracle Whip)
  • Lemon zest - 1 teaspoon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce (or other hot sauce)
  • 3/4 cup cup shredded Cheddar cheese (lowfat if desired)
  • 1/4 cup Gruyere cheese or Parmagiano Reggiano cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 teaspoon Paprika
  • *Optional: 1/2 - 3/4 cup cooked (preferably whole grain) starch per person. Options might include: extra wide egg noodles, gluten free noodles, quinoa, white or brown rice.


  1. Preheat oven 350
  2. In a medium bowl combine soup, mayonnaise, lemon zest and Tabasco. Mix until well combine
  3. In a 13 x 9 inch glass or metal pan, spread chicken evenly, top with broccoli pieces
  4. Sprinkle Parmagiano Reggiano cheese over broccoli
  5. Spread soup mixture evenly over broccoli and chicken
  6. Sprinkle cheese evenly on top of soup mixture
  7. Bake covered
  8. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees, remove cover and bake for additional 10 minutes or until cheese become bubbly and/or slightly browned
  9. Remove from oven, let cool 10 minutes
  10. Sprinkle with Paprika
  11. Serve over grain of choice* or as is



Zoodles with Peanut Dressing||The Recipe Redux

zoodle salad w basilzoodleslabel4I have never posted a “zoodle” recipe because whenever I considered it, I felt like the last thing the world needed was another nutritionist telling people to spiralize their zucchini. In my mind, it was a trend and I was over it. But then I realized that just because I read a million food blog posts, not everyone does. I learned that most people do not own a spiralizer and -gasp- have never eaten this low carb, high nutrient alternative to pasta. So when this month’s Recipe Redux challenge was to: Show how you’re serving the bounty of gardens and orchards in shapes like ribbons, noodles, cut-outs, or other creative cuts, I decided to follow the heard off the cliff   bring you a zoodle recipe!zucchinispiralizerYou’ve got a couple different options for spiralizers. I use this one because it’s easy to use, doesn’t take up a lot of space in the kitchen and is inexpensive. If you’re going to spiralize often, a lot of vegetables at once, or very firm vegetables like carrots and beets, you may want to step it up to a more major appliance. There are a lot of choices all available on AmazonlargespiralizerIf you want to try a zoodle recipe before purchasing a device, Whole Foods (and probably a few other grocery stores as well) has your back. You can purchase a couple of pounds of zucchini and yellow squash already spiralized for about ten bucks. Zucchini and yellow squash run about $1.30 per pound in the middle of the summer so you can do the math (and the spiralizing yourself)…or not. 🙂 gardengoodsOr if you’re really lucky, you have a friend with a great garden. (Thanks Mom and Dad).

horizoodleAlthough “zoodles” are technically spiralized zucchini, I also spiralized and added yellow squash. This recipe is meant to be served as a side as it doesn’t contain substantial protein, but you could always add some chicken, tofu, edamame or even peanuts to make it a complete meal.Ingredients2Use whatever vegetables you want. The more colorful your salad, the more different nutrients you’re getting. I added jalapeno to spice it up, but of course you can skip it.  thaidressingThe dressing is easily whipped up in a food processor, but you can just whisk the ingredients together instead.ZwithbasilAs with most of my recipes, there aren’t a lot of rules here. Use what you like, substitute or omit what you don’t. Just keep the proportions of vegetables to dressing the same.

Zoodles with Peanut Dressing||The Recipe Redux


  • 2 cups spiralized zucchini
  • 2 cups spiralized yellow squash
  • 2-3 large carrots, julienned
  • 1 medium red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups red cabbage, thinly slliced
  • 2-3 green onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter or almond butter
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoons ginger juice (click for technique)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (if you like raw garlic - have at it - use one clove instead of the powder)
  • 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2-3 tablespoons chopped basil (I used Thai basil)
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds


  1. Combine vegetables (zucchini through green onions) in a large bowl.
  2. In a food processor, combine peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, ginger, garlic powder, maple syrup, sesame oil and water. Process until smooth.
  3. Toss vegetables in dressing.
  4. Sprinkle sesame seeds and chopped basil to garnish and serve.

In addition to taking the place of pasta, spiralized zucchini can also replace lettuce in your salad. Here’s a shout out to Georgiann Holly and her zoodle, garden fresh tomato and chick pea salad – Thanks Georgie! 🙂

The Incredible, Edible and Peelable Egg

peeled eggEggs have gotten a seriously bad rap over the years. I have met with countless clients who’ve told me that they no longer eat eggs because “they’re not good for you.” I beg to differ. I think they’re about as close to a “perfect food” as one little 77 calorie package can get. Eggs are an inexpensive, high-quality source of protein and contain at least a little bit of almost every other nutrient we need.

The reason eggs have been ostracized is because just one egg contains over half as much cholesterol as is recommended to consume in a day. It is important to remember, however, that cholesterol in the diet doesn’t necessarily raise cholesterol in the blood. Click HERE and HERE to read the science behind that.

I frequently encourage people to add eggs to their diet when they need to up their protein and decrease their sugar and refined carb intake. Nothing is an easier or more convenient snack than a hard boiled egg. If, that is, said egg is easy to peel. I used to say “you must only use old (not expired old, just old as in not super fresh) eggs if you want a clean peel.Cooks

That was until I read this edition of Cook’s Illustrated. If you don’t know about Cook’s and you fancy yourself a cook (perhaps also a perfectionist) you must grab a copy and perhaps even a subscription.  Everything you thought you already knew how to do in the kitchen, you will learn to do better. Trust me, this mag is not for the faint of cooking heart, but for those who want to learn how to do things right. This includes hard cooking eggs (even eggs fresh from the hen house!) and achieving the most easily peeled eggs each and every time. (I shoot for just two egg shell pieces but just slightly missed the mark in the above photo.) The yolk is cooked perfectly: not underdone and never chalky.

boil:steamHard Boiled Eggs

1.) Start with just enough water to cover 6 – 10 eggs (about 2 inches in your pot). The key is to boil the water first, then gently place each egg in the boiling water. Reduce heat to medium low and cover. Immediately set a timer for 13 minutes. No more, no less. Don’t skip this step by looking at the clock and thinking you’ll remember when 13 minutes is over because…you won’t.

icebath2.) When the 13 minutes is over, gently remove each egg and place in an ice bath for 10-15 minutes. Transfer to refrigerator and be ready to have the best egg peeling experience ever. That’s it!

Use hard boiled eggs to add protein to a salad, grab on your way out the door in the morning as part of a to-go breakfast, or have as a post workout, late morning or late afternoon snack when you’re getting hangry and know you shouldn’t have another cup of caffeine. For an added flare, add a little hot sauce because hot sauce never ruined anything. EggP.S. And if you’re wondering why some eggs are brown and some are white (some people still are, believe me)… brown eggs come from brown chickens and white eggs come from white ones. 🙂