About carynfasko

Butternut Squash Soup
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I love butternut squash in the winter. It’s a nice hearty veggie and there are so many different flavor options. You can go sweet, salty, or even spicy. It is also chock full of nutrients like vitamin a, potassium, and fiber, and is low in calories. Per the USDA, 1 cup of cooked cubed butternut squash has only 82 calories, 6.6g of fiber, and 582mg of potassium.

Anyways, I have been meaning to try making a butternut squash soup for some time but just had not gotten around to it. So, a few weeks ago I was attempting to make my whole grain butternut squash risotto (which you can find here) and it did not turn out exactly as expected. My butternut squash risotto ended up turning into a mushroom risotto because I accidentally fell asleep with the butternut squash in the oven, and it got a bit over cooked…whoops. It was pretty mushy by the time I woke up and both myself and my husband prefer more firm chunky pieces of butternut squash in risotto (he hates mushy foods). So the overcooked butternut squash was transformed into a delicious velvety, smooth, soup. If you saw my facebook live video today about what is in my freezer, you may have seen me pull out a tupperware containing this soup. I am saving some for when I inevitably catch another cold from Baby V.

 

Butternut Squash Soup

 

Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients

2 Cups Cooked and Mashed Butternut Squash

2 Cups Unsalted Vegetable Broth

1 Teaspoon Olive Oil

1/2 Teaspoon Ginger

1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg

Pinch of Salt

1/4 Cup Apple Juice

 

Directions

Throw everything in a pot and cook on medium heat until warmed to your liking.

 

Butternut Squash Soup

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Gluten free and Healthy Baked Spinach Chickpea Fritters
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A few weeks ago I made some spinach chickpea fritters and froze the leftovers. I could have just gobbled them down even though I was no longer hungry, because they were delish, but I am so glad I chose to freeze them instead. I am a huge proponent of making things ahead of time and freezing them (you kinda have to when you work full time, have over an hour long commute and a ten month old), and my frozen foods have come to the rescue several times over the past month.

 

 

Spinach Chickpea Fritters with Dip

 

 

Anyways, I am super happy I froze some of my spinach chickpea fritters because we spent last week in the hospital (baby v had bronchiolitis and pneumonia but is doing great now) and came home very tired to a house with a limited food selection. I searched through the freezer looking for something easy to feed baby v (I did not want to have to run to the grocery store) and was ecstatic when I found a tupperware full of my spinach chickpea fritters. Now I know what your thinking….is she posting a recipe for babies? Yes and no. This is a recipe for everyone. It does work great for babies because the patties are easy to pick up, and they contain iron from the chickpeas and spinach, which growing babies need a lot of. However, they also make a healthy, delicious and good looking appetizer for adults. It’s a win-win for all!

 

Blended Chickpeas

 

These spinach chickpea fritters are incredibly easy. Basically you blend and mix everything together and then plop the batter down on a parchment paper lined pan, add a little olive oil, and pop them into the oven. And the only thing I really had to clean afterwards was my blender and a few measuring instruments. These fritters are also super customizable. You can use this recipe as a template and switch out different flavors and spices. I’m thinking next time maybe adding some cumin or curry, or maybe even experiment with adding some feta.

 

 

 

Gluten free and Healthy Baked Spinach Chickpea Fritters

 

 

Spinach Chickpea Fritters

Ingredients
1-16 oz Can Reduced Sodium Garbanzo Beans
1 Cup Raw Baby Spinach
4 Tablespoons Almond Flour
1/4 Teaspoon Baking powder
1 or 2 Cloves Chopped Fresh Garlic
1 Egg
Olive Oil

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add beans and garlic to food processor or good blender and pulse until well blended. Add egg and spinach and continue to blend until you get a uniform green mixture. Remove blade from blender and stir in baking powder and flour. You should have a pasty green mixture that smells garlicky. The mixture should be too thin to roll into balls but thick enough to plop on a pan without running. Line baking pan with parchment paper and use a spoon to scoop out 12 large fritters in the baking sheet. Lightly brush or drizzle with olive oil and bake for 15-20 min. Turn on broil and broil for another minute or so until edges brown slightly.
 Gluten free and Healthy Baked Spinach Chickpea Fritters
*And if you need some dip just mix the ingredients below…
1/4 Cup Greek Yogurt
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 Teaspoon Parsley or Dill
Dash of Ground Black Pepper
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Matcha Almond Cookies
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A few months ago I received an email asking me to enter a recipe contest utilizing matcha. I ended up making some super amazing matcha almond cookies, but before I get to that, I have a few things I would like to say about matcha. For those of you that don’t know what matcha is, it is basically ground up green tea leaves and looks like a green powder. Instead of steeping it in water like with traditional tea, it is mixed into the water and consumed. Because it is actually consumed, some people claim there are even more health benefits of matcha versus traditional green tea.  For those of you that do know about matcha, you have probably heard a lot of buzz about all the health benefits. It seems to be mostly touted as good for your brain and mood, but I have also seen fat burning and metabolism boosting claims.

Matcha Almond Cookies

Prior to this contest, I have never used matcha before and wanted to do some research to see if it lived up to all the hype. Of note…if you don’t know me very well I am a skeptic at heart and like to investigate things myself before I actually believe pretty much anything or trust things, people, etc. It does make me a very good dietitian but sometimes can be a drawback in the social scene or networking for my business. For example… “Why is this person talking to me? What do they want?” is a thought that often goes through my brain.

Anyways…when searching for actual research studies involving matcha, I really did not find that many, and quite a few of them that came up had nothing to do with matcha, but had an author with the last name of Matcha. Super helpful. What I did find however, was that some of the components of matcha have been researched, so a lot of the health claims don’t necessarily involve matcha itself, but those specific compounds in the matcha. While I prefer research with whole foods versus specific components or nutrients, (because we don’t eat nutrients, we eat food) there is really not much available. So let me tell you about some of the research involving a couple of the individual components that are in matcha, because honestly that is all I have.

Caffeine
Has been found to improve performance on certain cognitive tasks, especially ones that are of a longer duration
Increased self reporting of alertness

L-theanine
Improves self reports of relaxation

These two component appear to work synergistically. Adding the L-theanine to the caffeine helps prevent the jitteriness of caffeine due to its relaxation effect, so it is a different type of “high” versus what you would get from drinking coffee.

Additionally, we know the traditional way of consuming green tea is good for you. Research has shown it can reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, improve heart health and may even help you to live longer, among a host of many other possible health benefits. Green tea is loaded with lots of powerful compounds and antioxidants, so that’s great too. We can guess that at least some of these benefits of consuming  traditional green tea will likely also be present when consuming matcha but we really can’t say for certain or to what extent. Also, more is not always better, even if it is more of a good thing, so just dumping a whole bunch of matcha in your smoothie probably isn’t the best idea.

Matcha Almond Cookies

Whether or not matcha is better than traditional green tea is a question that remains to be answered. If you enjoy matcha, go ahead and continue to enjoy it, and if you want to try it, go ahead. But don’t set your expectations too high and believe everything the package claims. So bottomline – adding matcha to recipes will add some caffeine, and a boost of antioxidants, but to say that its health benefits are greater than traditional green tea or to give specific health claims is unfounded at this point in time.

Despite the lack of research I did go ahead and try my hand at including matcha in a recipe with minimal expectations as how it would effect my health. Because maybe in a year or two we will have some more research and proven health benefits. (There were a few promising animal studies I stumbled upon…so maybe the people studies are coming soon?) So let me get to the matcha almond cookies….

I ended up taking one of my favorite almond cookie recipes (It is from David Lebovitz’s blog and you can find it here) and modifying it to include matcha and decrease the amount of sugar and calories to make it a little more nutritious (well as nutritious as a delicious cookies can be). And my matcha almond cookies were born! Adding the matcha definitely added a different layer of flavor and I loved it. It went really well with the almonds and the agave. I may continue to experiment with the matcha to add some flavor depth and additional antioxidants to recipes, but I don’t expect my life or health to change significantly because of it.

Matcha Almond Cookies

Matcha Almond Cookies

Ingredients
3 Egg Whites
Pinch of Salt
2/3 Cup Agave Syrup
1/4 Teaspoon Almond Extract
3 Cups Almond Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Tablespoon Matcha (I used Kiss Me Organics because I received a free sample)

Directions
Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Add egg whites and salt to a large mixing bowl. Use a hand mixer to beat egg mixture on low until peaks form. Combine agave with beaten egg whites, then add almond extract and stir well. Add in flour, baking powder and matcha and mix until uniform. Scoop batter by heaping teaspoons onto parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake cookies for 15-17 minutes or until browned on edges. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Makes approximately 40 cookies.
Matcha Almond Cookies
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