Butternut Squash Soup

My wife says this is the best squash soup she has ever had, and she gets it at lots of restaurants.

Butternut Squash Soup

1 Butternut Squash
1 Large Parsnip (white carrot very very high in potassium)
2 Green Apples
1 Large Sweet Onion
1 Leek (optional… leeks are the giant chive looking things – make it two onions if you leave it out)
2 Quarts Chicken Stock
4 normal, 3 huge, or 5 small yukon gold potatoes
1 large carrot, or however many small ones for the same amount
A couple cloves of garlic, minced
bay leaf
saffron if you have it or want to use
ground nutmeg, freshly shaved is so much better if you find it.
ground cinnamon
chopped chives (optional)

Preheat the over to 425.

Peel the squash, then cut it into chunks, and scrape out the seed cavity (as if you were carving a pumpkin) the chunks should be of moderate size, say, 2 inches.

Clean and chop the potatoes, peeling is optional Medium chunks, 1 inch

Peel and chop the parsnip. medium chunks, 1 inch. Ditto with carrot.

Stick peeled & chopped veggies in a 13×9 baking dish, drisle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and toss around for even coating. Stick it in the oven for 30 minutes.

Peel the onion and stick it in a frying pan to carmelize (low-medium heat, salted, a little bit of oil, stirring constantly, until soft). Cut the top and bottom off the leek (you eat the middle part, the white part, with a little green towards the top), cut it in half lengthwise. Rinse it out to remove any dirt, and then chop it up. Stick it in with the onion.

Peel, core, and cut up the apples into 6 slices each. When the oven beeps open it up, toss in the apple, and stir all the veggies. Set the timer for another 30 minutes.

When the oven beeps a second time, put all the veggies into your crockpot (the onion & leek, and everything from the oven) pour over enough chicken stock to cover, add a bay leaf or two, and the saffron if you’re using it, and the garlic. Cook for a few hours, or all day.

30 minutes or so before you want to eat, preheat the oven to 350.

Slice up a nice whole grain baguette, put some cheese (Swiss, gruyere (aged swiss), provolone, parmigiana, mozerella) on top of each slice, stick it in the over until it is toasted.

Meanwhile, get out your immersion stick blender (a must for any serious soup maker), open up the crock pot, remove the bay leaves, and blend it up until smooth. Add a few teaspoons of fresh ground nutmeg (I usually shave off half a nut with my microplane grater), and a tablespoon of cinnamon, blend some more, taste, add more seasoning if desired.

Kill the heat (make sure to check your bread so you don’t burn it), and add 1 cup of milk (you could also use half and half, or cream, but I think milk is just fine). Blend again to mix the milk in well.

Ladle into bowls, garnish with chopped chives and or black pepper if desired, and serve with toasted cheese bread.

Low calories, very very very nutritious, and you get to use two or three veggies you don’t often use (and so may miss the vitamins etc they provide).

Picture coming, next time I make the soup, which should be soon since I just harvested a bunch of squash.

The Best Zucchini Bread I’ve Ever Made

I made this bread recently, it was so good, the best I’ve ever made. Not that unhealthy either.

IngredientsAwesome Zucchini Bread

  • 1/2 cup soy flour
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1-2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups splenda
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup egg substitute
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 8oz cans of crushed pineapple


  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cups and level, combine flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon in a large bowl, mix well
  3. Beat eggs with a mixer at medium speed until foamy. Add splenda, zucchini, oil, egg substitute, and vanilla, beating until well blended. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Fold in pineapple. Spoon batter into 2 loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Bake at 325 for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool.

So I got this recipe out of Cooking Light and tinkered with it a little bit, making it actually healthier. Then, because I felt like experimenting, I used 3 different types of flour. Why? Because I have many different types of flour in the house, and I thought, why not? It certainly turned out awesome so I recommend you follow my lead. With the directions as is I thought the batter was a little thick, well, very thick, for me so I added the juice from the pineapple and added some milk and more oil to get it to a nice consistency. If you’ve made quickbreads like this before you’ll know the consistency you want.

One loaf can be frozen for a month and defrosted on the counter if you like, but man, this bread was awesome, truly, the best tasting bread I’ve ever made. And it gives me something to do with all the zucchinis I get from my garden.

Right now in the oven I have a alternative going. I swapped the 16oz of crushed pineapple for 16oz of maraschino cherries and I added half a cup of dark chocolate (hershey’s special dark) cocoa powder. We’ll see how it turns out.

Chocolate Super Healthy Brownies

As I’ve mentioned previously, my wife likes a quick breakfast, and I don’t think shelf bought “protein” “energy” or “power” bars are altogether that healthy with their 20 grams of sugar and whatnot. I know I can do better, and so it was in that spirit that I developed this recipe for super healthy chocolate brownies. These are meal replacement/snack brownies, not dessert brownies.

Before we start, a word on chocolate.

Chocolate is healthy, no seriously, cocoa is very high in antioxidants, protein, and fiber. The fact that it is often mixed with saturated fats and sugar is the problem, but cocoa solids themselves are quite healthy.

To maximize the health of your chocolate snacks always look for the darkest chocolate you can possibly fine, but even though, fats, if not sugars, are necessary, to make chocolate bars or chips of any type.

Ergo, the healthiest way to get chocolate is to find dark chocolate cocoa powder. Cocoa powder is chocolate solids with all the fat removed, but you still get the flavor. Normal cocoa powder isn’t so bad but dark cocoa powder will have 66% less calories, more protein, and more fiber.

Chocolate Super Healthy BrowniesChocolate Super Healthy Brownies

  • 1 can Pumpkin Puree, 15oz
  • 1 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • ½ cup Rolled Oats
  • ½ cup Flax Seed Meal
  • 1 cup Soy Protein Powder
  • 1 cup Hersey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder (or other dark cocoa powder)
  • 1 cup Splenda
  • 4 tbsp Cinnamon
  • 1 cup Egg Beaters or Egg Whites
  • ½ cup Light Sour Cream
  • 1 cup Skim Milk
  • 2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pkg(16oz-ish) Dark (60% + cocoa) Chocolate Chips (optional)
  1. Preheat Oven to 375
  2. Mix all the dry stuff (oats, flour, flax seed, protein powder, cocoa powder, splenda, cinnamon, and baking soda) together, really well. Sift it if you want.
  3. Put the Egg Beaters in a big bowl, very big, and beat with a hand mixed until nice and foamy and or soft peaks. Normally if making something like an angel food cake we’d be careful now, but we’re not making an angel food cake, so…
  4. Add the pumpkin and sour cream into the bowl and mix well, add the milk and vanilla and start adding the dry mixture a little at a time.
  5. Meanwhile in another part of the kitchen, if you want it extra chocolately you’ll need to melt the optional chocolate chips in a double boiler or a microwave and then drizzle into the mixture, or just drop the chips in if you’d rather have chocolate chunks in the finished product, your choice.
  6. When your mixture has fully come together, stick it into a lubed 13×9 baking dish, it’ll be thick, you should spray the back of a spatula with some non-stick spray to help spread it around. When it is good and even pop it in the oven for 1 hour.

Now, if you cut it into 12 portions, which is typical I think, each one will have:

Without Chocolate Chips: 137 calories, 14g protein, 6g fiber
With Chocolate Chips: 230 calories, 16g protein, 7.5g fiber

Chocolate chips also add sugar and saturated fat. You could also, instead of chips, add chopped nuts, raisins, or something like that. Compare the calorie total of the sans-chip version to any “bar” based food out there. No added sugar, lots of antioxidants and vitamins, lots of protein, and lots of fiber. These brownies are super brownies.

On to the Ingredient Explanation….

I’m not here just to give you recipes, I like to teach why I include certain things in the recipe.

Start with the pumpkin, why do I put pumpkin in this recipe? Well, read the back of your can, see the part that says each serving has 300% of your daily vitamin A needs through beta carotene? That means, that roughly each brownie should end up with 100% of your daily needs, not bad. Vitamin A is a key vitamin but too much of it can cause problems, especially in pregnant women. Beta Carotene though is an entirely safe way to get Vitamin A as your body will manufacture it out of the beta carotene on an as-needed basis, storing any excess still as beta carotene, no chance for overdosing. Beta carotene of course also helps with a myriad of other things.

Whole wheat flour is there for structure, and we’re using whole wheat flour instead of all purpose flour for added protein, fiber, and nutrients.

Rolled oats add more fiber, especially soluble fiber to lower cholesterol, as well as protein. Oats are a super food, eat more of them.

Flax Seed Meal, another super food, is the highest plant source of omega 3 fatty acids (good cholesterol, like from salmon). It also adds fiber and protein.

Soy protein powder of course adds protein. Protein keeps your body healthy and your stomach feeling full.

The cocoa powder adds surprisingly large amounts of protein and fiber, and of course those excellent chocolate antioxidants.

Cinnamon has one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants of any food known to man, seriously. It also adds flavor without any added calories.

Splenda is our key sweetener, and is of course 0 calorie.

Egg Beaters are just egg whites that have been infused with vitamins and colored yellow. They add protein, the vitamins, and it is necessary to have a little egg in almost any baked good. We are using a lot of them though, because we want a lot of protein in these.

The sour cream adds more protein, and contributes moisture (we’re replacing what would otherwise be oil) to the final product. If you had to omit one thing, this would probably be it, I don’t know if it is so necessary.

The milk is our moisture, protein, vitamin D, calcium, etc.

Baking soda is for making it all rise, vanilla is for flavor, and the optional chocolate chips are, of course, for chocolate.

Ridiculously Healthy Chocolate Cake

Whole Grain Cocoa Angel Food Cake
Whole Grain Cocoa Angel Food Cake

  • 3/4 cup of whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder (dark is better if you can find it)
  • 1 1/4 cups of splenda
  • 10 Egg whites (no yoke! get the cartoned egg whites).
  • 1 teaspoon of Cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon of lemon or almond extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Sift the flour, cocoa, and 1/4 cup of the sugar 5 times. Set aside. Sift the remaining 1 cup splenda into a separate bowl. Set aside.
  2. Put the egg whites in a superclean bowl and beat them with a hand mixer, you’ll want an actual hand mixer for this, not a stand mixer (they don’t work as well for whipping whites) and not just a mere whisk (your arm will fall off). Add the cream of tarter and beat until the egg whites form stiff peaks, but are not dry. A stiff peak means you can dip something in the eggs and then pull it up and out and turn it upside down and the white will form a peak and stand up straight.
  3. Gently fold in the sifted splenda, 1 tablespoon at a time (you need to be gentle, lest you depress the air bubbles you just made). Add the vanilla and lemon or almond extract. Slowly sift small amounts of the flour mixture over the batter and fold in until all the flour is incorporated. Pour the batter into an ungreased 10 inch straight-sided tube pan (angel food cake pan, 2 part). Bake for 45 minutes. Turn the pan upside down, over the neck of a bottle, and allow to cool. Remove from pan once fully cooled.

In total this cake has around 600 calories, meaning you could eat the whole thing and it’d only be 600 calories. Additionally it has a bunch of fiber and a bunch of protein. To the point where, if you had 1/6th of this cake, you’d have more protein, more fiber, and less calories, than a typical “energy” or “protein” bar.

Serve it plain, with vanilla ice cream, or with a fruit sauce (any type of peeled fruit & berry in a deep skillet on medium heat, add splenda, possibly cinnamon or other sweet seasoning, then a corn starch & water/juice slurry. Simmer until all the fruit falls apart).

Butter Beer Cheesy Pork

Mmm, beer. What real men drink. And yet, how many of you know that beer is an excellent ingredient in the kitchen? In soups, stews, and marinades beer adds dimension like no other liquid. I tell you what, I like cooking with beer more than I like drinking it.

This recipe is a fairly original creation of my own, it is a combination of a few other recipes. I’ve made this numerous times, and every time it has turned out great. I love making it for guests in the summer as well.
Butter Beer Cheesy Pork
Butter Beer Cheesy Pork

  • 4 10oz or so pork chops, cubed cutlets, tenderloin steaks, or any other pork steak cut you fancy.
  • 1 12 oz bottle honey wheat beer, the stronger the flavor the better.
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup green onions, sliced thin
  • ½ cup chopped roasted pecans (bake in oven at 350 for 10m to roast pecans)
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded, to taste (1-2 cups usually).

Alright, step one, pour the first 5 ingredients (through black pepper) into a zip top plastic bag with the pork. Set it into a bowl in case of leaks, and stick it in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight, longer is better.

Preheat your grill so that it is hot. This dish also tastes well when smoked. So you could use it with plank grilling (cedar). Take the meat out of the marinade, toss it on the grill (or on the wood plank on the grill) and cook to desired doneness, 30-45 minutes usually. But this will vary greatly depending on what cut of meat you are using.

When pork is about half way done put a saucepan on medium heat on your stove. Melt the butter and then when the butter is melted add the flour and whisk rapidly for 3-5 minutes. Then add the reserved marinade from the plastic bag and bring to a boil.

Once you’ve reached a boil let it boil for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, just to make sure it is fully cooked (the marinade was with raw meat after all) then lower the heat to a simmer and start adding the cheese, while whisking constantly.

Here you have decisions to make. How many people are you serving? How much sauce do you need to cover all that pork? I usually end up tossing in another beer into the saucepan, and more cheese, to make more sauce because I like the sauce. Since beer isn’t usually sold in 1 bottle packs, you’re bound to have another bottle in case you need to do the same. If not, water works but isn’t as flavorful. If you need to thicken the sauce more and do not want to add more cheese, make a corn starch slurry (equal parts cold water and corn starch, mixed together in a separate dish, then poured in, it has to be corn starch, flour will not work with cold water like this). Keep tasting the sauce to make sure you like it. The goal here is to make a good, syrup-like thickness, cheese sauce, in enough volume to cover all the meat.

When you’re happy with the sauce and the pork is done, toss in the green onions and chopped pecans, mix, and then pour the sauce over the pork (or, pour it into a bowl and let people serve it themselves).

Is this dish healthy? Sorta, many pork cuts can be very lean, and you’re having relatively small servings of 8-10oz per person. The cheese sauce isn’t as healthy as it could be, but cheese is a very worthy guilty pleasure. The trick though is in the side dishes. Serve this meal with healthy sides like grilled or baked veggies, fresh fruit, and things like that. Don’t serve any bread, pasta, rice, or other starches with it. The pork itself might not be as healthy as it could be, but with good sides the overall meal can be.

Chemistry of Cooking: The Maillard Reaction

Cooking is very much a study in chemistry, you have to deal with acids, bases, heat, air pressure. Knowing the science behind the food will help to make you a better cook and further your understanding of why recipes go a certain way.

Today, I wish to talk about cooking methods and why they can affect your food.

Stews and boils are cooking food submerged in water, steaming is of course cooking food surrounded by water vapor, and braising is cooking food sitting in water (not fully submerged). All of those cooking methods have one drastic limitation, namely that water cannot exceed 212 degrees. Boiling water is going to be 212 degrees no matter how hard it is boiling. This means, anything cooked in water or water vapor will not be able to exceed ~212 degrees.

This is good in many ways. You can cook something for a long time and if there is adequate moisture you know it will not overcook or burn. It is really hard to burn things that are in boiling water, and that water helps moderate the temperature of your food, preventing drastic swings.

However, there is a major downside to cooking in water, and that is that it inhibits the Maillard Reaction.

For instance, any dish that requires a browned topping will always tell you to either cook uncovered, or uncovered for a period of time to brown the top. This is because covering a cover traps steam, which then keeps the temperature moderated at around 212, way too low for the Maillard Reaction.

So what is the Maillard Reaction? It is the reaction which caramelizes sugars in food to turn it brown. The most straightforward example is the creation of actual caramel from sugar. The sugar is denatured into over a hundred different compounds, creating a very sweet and complex taste.

But nearly everything has sugars (starches) in it, and so the Maillard Reaction is also responsible for making toast taste so much better than bread, for making skin crispy on turkey, for making grill marks on meat, and for making pretty much every golden brown and delicious food, golden brown and delicious. This all doesn’t really start to happen until around 230 degrees and continues on up past 300.

So, you can’t get browning, in any food, in the presence of water. So, if you want crisp, you need dry heat. This is also why you can’t really brown things in the microwave (microwaves just heat water, water can’t go higher than 212) and why non-stick pans can’t really brown food either (They also just don’t get hot enough… nor are they supposed to, high heat ruins their nonstick surface).

But in addition to browning the outside of food, the Maillard Reaction will work on the interior as well. This is why roasted vegetables taste so much better than boiled vegetables.

So, now you know. This is why certain foods taste better when cooked with dry heat, and this is why you are sometimes asked to brown and or roast something before introducing it to liquid.

Whole Grain Healthy Banana Bread

This bread is packed with nutrition and makes a great heart healthy snack. It tastes great, you’ll never guess it has no oil, no butter, and no added sugar.
Banana Bread


  • 3/4 Cup Splenda
  • 3/4 Cup Flaxseed Meal
  • 5 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 1/4 cup Egg Beaters or egg whites
  • 1/4 cup low fat sour cream
  • 2 cups stone ground whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup raisins or other dried fruit (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or other nut (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray a 9′ x 5′ loaf pan with cooking spray.
  3. Mix together Splenda, flaxseed meal, bananas, milk, sour cream, egg whites, raisin, and nuts until well blended.
  4. In a different bowl mix together flour, salt, baking soda, and spices.
  5. Mix the two bowls together until the mixture is evenly moist, do not overmix.
  6. Spoon into your pan and place in oven for 45-75 minutes, cooking times will vary, use a toothpick to test for doneness.

Beefless Beef Stew, Healthy and Satisfying

I like beefy flavors, and nothing beats stew on a cold day, plus it is easy to make. But, beef isn’t the healthiest of meats, so what do I do? Use buffalo, just like with my healthy cheese burgers.

Thus, I make beefless beef stew that is still beefy and full of protein. And as I’ve explained in previous posts, lean buffalo (bison) has less fat and cholesterol than boneless skinless chicken breasts. It is a great substitute for beef.

Buffalo Beef Stew

  • 1/3 Cup Cornstarch
  • 2 Cartons Beef Stock
  • 2 Pounds Buffalo Meat, chopped
  • 2 cups potatoes, chopped
  • 1 very large yellow sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 cups carrots, chopped
  • 1 10.5 oz can of whole kernel corn
  • thyme, bay leaves, garlic
  • 2 cups peas, frozen thawed
  • 2 beef boulliion cubes (unless you want to cut down on the salt)
  1. This is an all day affair, you’ll want to use a large capacity crock pot, 6-7 quarts. Step 1, 2 cartons of beef stock, the good stuff. Pour it into a cold crockpot, then whisk in 1/3rd cup of corn starch. We’re using corn starch as a thickener because unlike flour it will not clump in cold liquids. If you want it thicker add a half cup.
  2. Add your onion, carrot, buffalo, and potatoes. Add 2 boullion cubes. Add 2 bay leaves, 2 tablespoons of dried thyme, add 3 cloves of garlic, put the lid on, and let it cook 8 hours. I like little baby red skin golden potatoes, but redskins or yellow skins would do fine, russet potatoes will not work well, learn more here
  3. 30m before you want to eat add corn, but drain the excess liquid from the can first, and add the frozen peas. Keep lid off from here on out.
  4. Kill the heat, if it isn’t thick enough for you, add some box potato flakes. Fish out the bay leaves, ladle into bowls (bonus points for bread bowls) and serve.

I love to eat beef stew with a crusty yeasty whole wheat bread and butter for dipping. Bread aside, you’ve got a very lean low fat meal with this stew, it is easy to make, cleanup is easy since it is just 1 pot that was used. This recipe should feed 4 people so if you’re just 1 or 2 people you’ll get leftovers as well.

If you want to punch up the flavor consider these additives (liquids requiring additional thickening or in place of some of the beef stock):

  • Parmigiana cheese rind (when you buy the nice/real parmigiana reggiano cheese, save the rinds after you use it up, add them to soups & stews).
  • A cup or two of red wine.
  • Small amounts of balsalmic vinegar or worcestershire sauce.
  • A cup or two of beer, a strong full body beer (I like honey wheat) is preferable to a light drinker’s beer.
  • Any beef bones you have (always save your bones in the freezer and add them to soups).
  • Finely chopped leek.
  • Parsely, Basil, or whatever your favorite herbs may be.

My Healthy Protein Muffins

My wife has a need for a good, quick, high protein & high fiber breakfast. She is in medical school and has to get up really early most days to go to the hospital and so she doesn’t have time anymore to eat her normal breakfast of either oatmeal or Egg Beaters. Her default option is a so called “power” or “protein” bar of any of a variety of brands. The problem is most of those bars contain lots of extra simple sugars and other sweeteners, and they also contain a lot of preservatives and other junk. When you eat simple sugars your body ends up burning them really quickly and then has to use insulin to counteract them, this results in cyclical manic & depressive metabolism in your body and it isn’t healthy, and it just makes you want to eat more. The more complex your food is, such as complex carbohydrates & protein, the longer it takes to digest and the more even your metabolism will be. This will help keep you energized longer and feel fuller.

So I decided I could figure out for her a muffin recipe that’d give her everything she wanted, and still taste good. These muffins are extremely nutritious and taste like carrot cake. Here is the recipe:

Flax Carrot Cake Protein Muffins

Healthy Protein Muffins

  • 1 Cup Stone Ground Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Soy Flour
  • 1.5 Cups Flax Seed Meal
  • 1 Cup Soy Protein Powder
  • 3/4 Cup Rolled Oats (Oatmeal)
  • 1/3 Cup Chopped Walnuts
  • 1/2 Cup Splenda Brown Sugar Blend
  • 1/2 Cup Normal Splenda
  • 2 Cups Skim Milk
  • 3 Medium Granny Smith (green) Apples, Pealed
  • 1 Cup Shredded Carrots
  • 1/2 Cup Egg Beaters or Egg Whites
  • 1 Cup Raisins
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1.5 tsp ground cloves
  • 1.5 tsp nutmeg
  • 1.5 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • (optional) 1/4 cup pomegranate or other high antioxidant fruit juice (the expensive stuff in the small bottles).
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin pan (spray with non-stick spray) or line with paper liners.
  2. In large bowl mix together wheat flour, soy flour, soy protein powder, splenda, splenda brown sugar blend, salt, flax seed meal, oatmeal, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, baking soda, baking powder.
  3. In food processor process carrots until you have 1 cup, usually 2 cups or more whole carrots goes into making 1 cup of finely shredded carrots. Set aside.
  4. Peel, core and quarter your apples. Process in food processor until finely & evenly shredded.
  5. In large bowl mix together shredded carrots, shredded apples, raisin, and walnuts until it comes to an even consistency.
  6. In large bowl combine 2 cups of milk, egg beaters, vanilla extract, and oil (and optional fruit juice). Whisk rapidly until it gets foamy, about 5 minutes.
  7. Pour milk & egg mixture into flour mixture and fold together using a large spoon or spatula, do not over mix and stop once you no longer see any dry ingredients.
  8. Fold apple & carrot mixture into milk & flour mixture using a large spoon or spatula, stop when all ingredients seem evenly dispersed.
  9. Ladle mixture into muffin pan, filling each cup to the very top, even overfilling slightly. Due to the protein there shouldn’t be too much rise. Should make about 18 muffins.
  10. Bake in 350 degree over for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

So, that is the recipe, now lets talk about it.

First I want to cover the ingredients. Stone ground whole wheat flour is the best kind of wheat flour you can buy, the stones give it a coarser grind and so more of the wheat kernels get into the final product, this increases the protein & the fiber. Mixing in soy flour gives added soy nutrition, more protein, and more fiber, including soluble fiber (stuff really good at cleaning out cholesterol). Flax seed is one of the healthiest foods to eat on the planet, it contains more omega-3 fatty acids than any other plant source (that I know of anyways) it contains large amounts of protein, and large amounts of fiber, without as much fat as other nuts. The buns I buy have flax in them, the pasta I buy has flax in it, and I add it to things I bake (even cookies and meatloaf). Then let us consider the soy protein powder. This is just pure protein as derived from soy, it includes soy antioxidants and is of course a great source of lean protein. Finally among the dry stuff we’ve got the oatmeal, which adds fiber, soluble fiber, and even some protein.

The wheat flour is available at most stores, my local stores also carry the soy protein powder, the flax seed meal, and the soy flour. They don’t carry it in large quantities so you might have to look harder, but they do carry it. Try looking down the baking isle by the speciality flours or gluten free fair, or if there is a healthy living or organic food section in one of the dry goods isles. If you cannot find it at a store you can buy it online at say Amazon or find it at a health food or nutrition store.

Moving on, the muffins also contain a lot of carrots & apples. This ups the fiber and provides vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It makes the muffins a serving of fruit & vegetables for your daily needs. Eating healthy isn’t just about eatting fewer calories, but also about eating more nutritious foods, apples & carrots are both highly nutritious.

We’re using 2 cups of skim milk in the muffins, this is a lot of liquid but all the protein based dry ingredients really need liquid to balance them out. The milk provides good milk protein, which is just about the highest quality protein you can get outside of meat, calcium of course, as well as typical vitamin D.

The muffins use Egg Beaters or egg whites instead of normal eggs. Egg Beaters are just egg whites that have had food coloring added (to look yellow) and some vitamins added. By not including any of the yolk you cut down on around 70% of the calories and 100% of the cholesterol in eggs. Normally this might result in a less moist baked product, but all the fruit in these muffins contribute adequate moisture.

We also add 1 tbsp of olive oil to counteract some of the stickiness of the protein and provide help with residual moisture. You could use any oil, but olive oil is healthier and provides more vitamins and antioxidants.

We’re only using a 1/3 of a cup of chopped walnuts, other recipes might call for more. The issue with walnuts is they’re basically a less healthy version of flax seeds. They contain less fiber, less protein, and less omega 3 fatty acids, but many more calories. Compared to any other nut walnuts will be healthier, but compared to flax seed meal they’re just not. So we’re only adding the walnuts for crunch factor, but still they do contribute protein, fiber, and omega 3s, just not as much as the flax does.

The raisins contain a lot of sugar, but it is all natural unrefined sugar, so that isn’t so bad. Raisins also contain tons of antioxidants, they’re one of the most antioxidant rich foods, and they’re still a little juicy so they provide a nice texture contrast with the nuts when eating the muffins.

Then there is the Splenda. Splenda is a great sweetener that tastes like sugar so you hardly notice the difference. In only a few applications can you not replace sugar with Splenda. In this case we’re using Splenda Brown Sugar Blend & normal Splenda. The Brown Sugar Blend is a blend with real brown sugar, so there are calories there, however it is necessary because brown sugar contains properties that sugar substitutes just don’t. In total using Splenda probably saves 50-100 calories per muffin.

Rounding up the rest of the ingredients are the baking soda & baking powder. These items are what create the bubbles in the muffins that allow them to rise and be fluffy. It is important they not be too old so check the expiration dates on yours, also, if you bake regularly, you may think I’m asking for a lot of both, and I am. This is because all the protein in the mixture requires extra help in rising. Then of course there are the spices, you can add more or less depending on how much you like the carrot cake flavor.

The last ingredient is the optional fruit juice, and really this is optional. If you want a little extra flavor and or antioxidants you can use it. Use the good juice though, the 100% fruit juice of pomegranate, blueberry, mangosteen, acai, or other high antioxidant fruit juice. This juice is usually not stored by the other juice, but usually in a refridgerated section and usually is fairly expensive and comes in smaller glass or plastic containers. I like using it as an additive and I never drink it straight.

So, that is all the ingredients and why I use them.

As far as the cooking method goes, it is very important to mix all the things separately as I have indicated. Firstly you want to mix the dry stuff thoroughly before it gets wet to make sure the baking soda & baking powder as well as the spices get evenly distributed. You cannot overmix it at this stage.

Then you whisk the milk & egg mixture to make sure it gets thoroughly combined but also to create those bubbles that will also help to create air pockets & rise in the final mixture.

Finally you mix the apples & carrots thoroughly to make sure they end up evenly distributed and so the end muffins aren’t like all carrot or all apple depending on which muffin you bite into.

The reason you cannot simply add everything together and then mix is that excessive mixing of the flour once the liquid has been added will cause the protein called gluten to get even more rigid making the muffins even more chewy than they’re already going to be. So you mix the 3 main component mixtures thoroughly prior to mixing it all together so that when it all does come together you have to do as little mixing as possible. This concept is important for just about any baked good, you almost always want to mix the wet stuff & the dry stuff separately before adding them together.

If you end up with 18 muffins and use everything I have mentioned you’ll get the following numbers per muffin:

  • 205.5 Calories
  • 11.08g Protein
  • 5.7g Fiber

Try finding a health bar that contains so few calories, so much protein, and without any added weird or unhealthy junk such as high fructose corn syrup, or any sort of hydrolyzed protein. Also, my muffins contain no saturated fat, no trans fat, and no cholesterol.

So, if you’re trying to lose weight or just want a quick & healthy breakfast, make up a batch of these, and refridgerate them for storage, or freeze them. (All the unsatured fats & proteins in the muffins really can end up going bad quickly, so keep them in the fridge). If frozen you can thaw them as needed by taking one out the night before and putting it on the counter in a container of some sort.

Eat one or two for breakfast, depending on your weight loss goals or calorie needs. If you plan on eating two though don’t eat them at the same time. Eat one, and wait until you’re hungry again (even if it is just 30 minutes) before eating the second one. This will keep your metabolism going and keep your fuller longer.

If you like this recipe, check out my similar healthy chocolate brownie recipe too.

How to Make a Healthy Cheeseburger

A Healthy BurgerNo, I did not mistype the title of this post. I am going to tell you how to make a healthy cheeseburger (or hamburger, if you’re a weirdo who doesn’t like cheese).

Most burgers will receive the bulk of their calories from two locations, the bun, and the meat. First let us focus on the meat.

Ground beef comes with varying degrees of fat content depending on which part of the animal it is from. It is usually noted on the package with a fraction such as 87/13 (13% fat) or 95/5 (5% fat). More fat, more juice, more calories, a lot more calories. You can get a difference of a few hundred calories, per burger, between the leanest ground beef and the fattest. The leanest you’ll find is usually ground sirloin, with the 5% fat, the worst is plain ground hamburger, which is made from scrap rather than any specific cut of meat, and has a really high fat content.

Of course, the best option, is to not use ground beef at all, use buffalo.

I’m proud to say I’ve entirely given up ground beef. I don’t need it, buffalo is better tasting and better for you. American Buffalo or Bison are the same critter and were a key component of the Native American diet until the white man came, then there were hunted almost to extinction but have since made a great recovery, there are now herds free roaming and many ranchers raise them for meat.

Unlike cows buffalo have not been domesticated for thousands of years, this has given them more natural evolution and so they’re healthier animals. It is (apparently) illegal in the US to give buffalo hormones or antibiotics, unlike domestic cows which get such injections all the time. So buffalo are, by law, organic. Additionally buffalo have no problem putting on weight so they aren’t force fed super grain or anything like that, they just graze on grass like they always have. Buffalo also don’t get ecoli like cows do.

The thing about buffalo though, is the meat is extremely healthy. It has less cholesterol or fat than skinless chicken breasts, and even some types of fish. You’ll notice this when cooking it, you’re probably used to watching your burgers shrink on the grill as the fat runs out, buffalo burgers do not shrink when cooked because they are lean.

I still use beef for steaks, because I can’t find a local source of buffalo so I have to order it online and it comes frozen and frozen ground meat isn’t a big deal, but I’d prefer fresh and not frozen steaks. Plus, with steaks, I can more easily limit my calories by only ordering leaner loin cuts.

Anyways, I have most recently ordered ground bison from Buffalo Gal, they had a 60 pound deal where the price per pound, even including shipping, was close to ground beef. I have a big freezer in the basement, so I bought it. According to them they use extra lean ground bison and their calories per pound are 600 calories, 11.2 grams fat, 96 grams protein. So, using their bison, a 1/4 pound burger will get you 150 calories, 2.8 grams fat, 24 grams protein. Not bad for starts.

Then there is the bun, a bunless burger would be best, but this post is about making a true cheeseburger and so we need the bun. I recommend a healthy protein infused multigrain bun like my favorite buns. These have only 170 calories per bun, give you 10 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber, thats great for a bread product.

So, here is the recipe.

Assuming you start with a 1 pound package of ground buffalo, decide on how many burgers you want. For health reasons I recommend eating no more than 1 burger per meal. But in anycase if you want to make 4 burgers use the whole package, 2 burgers cut it in half. Or, one thing I do is always plan on making 4 burgers but refridgerate two of the patties to make them to the next day. I don’t mind having them two days in a row, but it does kind of annoy my wife.

So, here is how to make the burgers:

Step 1, start carmelizing onions, this can take 30 minutes or more and will give you time to do the rest.

Disclaimer, I never measure any of the seasonings, I eyeball them, so consider these estimates. I urge you to experiment yourself.

Assuming you’re using half a package (half a pound, 2 burgers) do the following.

Place the meat in a large mixing bowl, I like the big stainless steel bowls.

Add 1 tablespoon of dried oregano.
Add 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce.
Add 2 minced garlic cloves, or 1-2 teaspoons of pre-minced garlic (what I do).
Add 2 tablespoons of very finly minced onion, or just 1 tablespoon of onion powder if you’re feeling lazy.
Add 2 tablespoons of egg whites, better Egg Beaters (if you have them).
Add 1 tablespoon of breadcrumbs.
Sprinkle with salt to your preference (Start with just a teaspoon).

Mix all that up hardcore.

This blog isn’t meant to just be recipes, it is meant to teach you how to cook, so what are all those ingredients for? Well the oregano and garlic are mostly just for seasoning. The Worcestershire sauce seasons as well, but it also adds salt, the salt is also just for salt. The onion adds flavor, but also liquid keeping the burger moist as it cooks (leaner meats can otherwise be dry). Onion powder doesn’t add moisture so it isn’t a perfect substitution. The egg whites or Egg Beaters are meant to help the burger hold together while cooking, and the breadcrumbs will absorb moisture so also help make the burger more moist.

Once that is mixed up well form your patties, you can use burger forming gadgets, or do it by hand with spatulas and make square ones. I like to find a large glass the same diameter as the buns I will be using and flatten the meat out and then cut it out using the glass. However this works best when making 4 patties as then the 4th is always the left over bits I have to form by hand, with just 2 or 1 you couldn’t do it this way.

Now, get yourself some pineapple out. If you have a whole pineapple, check out this video on how to cut one up, stop at the point though where he’s got it into long hot-dog-bun sized chunks, at that point he cuts the core off the inside, and then I would go further and cut ones right down the middle the long way to make skinny 1/8th of the pineapple strips. Plan on atleast 1 of these strips per person. You can put them on kabobs too if you want.

Now, we cook!

If you’re using a grill preheat it and lub it up with a spray or with a little papertowel dabbed in oil, if you’re using a broiler in your over turn it on high and arrange a rack 6-8 inches below it (second highest level usually).

On the grill place the burgers on the bottom rack and place the pineapple slices on the rack directly above. If you only have 1 rack put the slices off to the side as far from the heat as possible but still on the grill. Then, if you have a third top rack put your buns face down on that top rack, if not, run your buns through your toaster. Close your lid and give it 5-10 minutes on medium high. You know how your grill works better than I do though. Flip the burgers once the bottoms have nice brown grill marks, and do the other side. Flip the pineapple once too.

Right before the burgers are done you need to load them up with the onions, put the carmelized onions directly on the burger, then add the cheese. I like sharp (aged) cheddar for this, slices not shredded. White or yellow it doesn’t matter, just that it is nicely aged. You could use fat free cheese here and save half the calories from it, but cheese is my guilty pleasure, I eat healthy elsewhere just so I can eat real cheese. Kill the heat, close the lid or put the broiler pan back in the over, and let the residual heat melt the cheese. We put the onions on first, then the cheese, so that the cheese holds the onions in place, otherwise they’d slip out all over.

Load yourself up with ketchup, and you’re good to go. Healthy buffalo burgers with grilled pineapple. Maybe have a salad too or something. So how do the calories add up?

Meat: 150 calories.
Stuff we added to the meat (Garlic, onions, sauce, egg beaters) lets estimate at 50 calories.
Bun: 170 calories:
Cheese: 90 calories is typical for 1 slice of good cheddar.
Onions: Almost impossible to count, probably 1/4 of a cooked onion, but there is some oil we cooked them in. I’d estimate on the high side and say 50 calories max.
Grilled Pineapple: Well, an entire pineapple has just 227 calories, we’re eating 1/8th of one per person, so that gives us ~29 calories. Heck, treat yourself, have 2 pieces heh.

So, in total, you’ve got 460 calories in the burger, around 40 grams of protein, maybe 8ish grams of fiber. With very little in the way of simple sugars it could keep you full for longer as well. Then the pineapple side only adds 29-58 calories depending on if you have 1 slice or two. You could go and get yourself an ice cream sandwich and still end up with less than 1000 calories in the whole meal. Of course my wife rarely finishes her burger so I usually end up eating 1.3 burgers bumping my total up a little bit.