tasteovers by jackie

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smoky pan-grilled baba ghanoush dip {Recipe ReDux}

Posted by on Jan 22, 2015 in tasteovers by jackie | 4 comments

smoky pan-grilled baba ghanoush dip

I love good chips and French onion dip at a party. Perhaps too much! But rather than develop a new sour creamy-style dip, I opted for inspiration from my Lebanese roots (thanks to my mom!). The result is an updated classic baba ghanoush. When aiming for healthfulness, I figure you simply can’t go wrong by making a dip full of vegetable goodness!

Another twist was tossed into my recipe development mix. For this month’s “Recipe ReDux” challenge, the goal was to focus on the trend of smoking … the culinary kind of smoking, of course. So I pan-grilled eggplant while keeping it covered with a lid to trap in all of the delicious smokiness. Then I added an extra kick of smoked delight, “heat” and earthiness by way of smoked paprika, harissa, and cumin, respectively. If you can’t find harissa, no worries; simply use your favorite hot sauce.

To serve, rather than going with greasy chips, you’ll dunk yet more vegetables, like fresh red bell pepper strips or cherry tomatoes, into this veggie-based dip. You can pair it with fresh whole grain pita wedges or pita chips, too. Think of it as Middle Eastern-inspired chips and dip. Be sure to include it as part of your regular ­party recipe rotation!

Calories saved: 30

Why it’s better for you? Vegetables. And more vegetables!

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dark chocolate dessert hummus {meatless monday}

Posted by on Jan 18, 2015 in tasteovers by jackie | 0 comments

dark chocolate dessert hummus

Nutella has been gaining in popularity. Unfortunately, its first ingredient is sugar. It contains palm oil and artificial flavor, too. Yuck! There are several knockoffs of it now available—some made with “real” ingredients and healthier fats. My favorite is Nocciolata; but it’s rather rich to be eaten regularly. So I decided there needs to be another option—and I didn’t want to wait around for a food company to manufacture it. Here’s my result. I based it on hummus!

Hummus is traditionally made with chickpeas, tahini (sesame seed paste), lemon juice, garlic, and salt. So I took that concept and kept the chickpeas and a little salt, but used nut butter instead of tahini and balsamic vinegar as the acid of choice. Don’t worry, I didn’t keep the garlic. Rather, I added all of the fun stuff to transform it into dessert—bananas, cocoa powder, raspberry jam, vanilla extract, almond milk, and dark chocolate. I tossed a pinch of cayenne into the mix for an extra kick in the palate, too. Feel free to play around with ingredient amounts to make a version that suits your tastebuds best. If you want a nuttier taste, add a few drops of pure hazelnut or almond extract.

You can serve this just like you might Nutella. Though I prefer to enjoy it more like hummus since it is bean based, not sugar centered. My favorite pairing is fresh strawberries. When you can’t find seasonal, locally grown berries, know that Florida has us covered right now; their strawberries are seasonal from December through April. And California takes care of us most of the year! Dunking them into this dessert hummus is kind of like eating chocolate-covered strawberries … but better for you!

Calories saved: 140

Why it’s better for you? It’s based on beans!

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general tso’s-style eggplant stir-fry {meatless monday}

Posted by on Dec 29, 2014 in tasteovers by jackie | 2 comments

eggplant stir-fry with general tso’s sauce

I eat my fair share of Chinese food! But when I can make it at home, I feel so much better about what I’m putting in my body—because I know exactly the ingredients that I’m using.

One of the dishes that always seems crave-worthy to me is anything labeled “General Tso’s.” Unfortunately, that usually means breaded, fried, and tossed in a decadent sauce. I don’t order it for that very reason. So I finally created a healthier homemade version of General Tso’s.

This vegetarian stir-fry recipe is full of textures and colors, mainly from eggplant, edamame, and red bell pepper. It’s got a spicy kick, too. There’s no breading or deep frying required. It’s delicious as is or paired with steamed brown basmati rice. Add an extra splash of soy sauce, if you like. Get your chopsticks ready!

Calories saved: 270

Why it’s better for you? No breading or deep frying required. Plus it’s absolutely loaded with vegetables!

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fitter french fries {Recipe ReDux}

Posted by on Dec 22, 2014 in tasteovers by jackie | 14 comments

Fitter French Fries

As a member of Recipe ReDux, the goal this month was to grab a book and cook. But not just any recipe; it needed to be chosen from page 42 or 142 in the book—to celebrate the 42 months that ReDux has been around! So I picked a cookbook that I thought was sure to have something decadent in it: Potatoes: Comfort Food by Jane Stacey (Smallwood & Stewart, Inc., 1997). What did I find on page 42? A recipe for “The Perfect French Fries!”

Of course, I had to work my makeover magic on the recipe. I didn’t just spritz the potato slices with cooking spray, bake ‘em, and call it a day. My goal was to create a French fry recipe that everyone would want to make again and again—and, perhaps more importantly, not make you (or me!) want to dunk them in mayo to make them amazing. The result: “Fitter French Fries.” Check the recipe out!

Calories saved: 200

Why it’s better for you? Added a delicious hint of antioxidant benefits by keeping on the potato peels and sprinkling with several spices.

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vegan spinach and hemp seed pesto

Posted by on Dec 4, 2014 in tasteovers by jackie | 1 comment

Vegan Spinach and Hemp Seed Pesto_main

I like to start the day off with a great big spoonful of Hemp Hearts to help kick off my protein intake for the day. They’ve got 10 grams of protein in a 3-tablespoon serving! But I don’t stop there. I really love the cool little seeds for their taste and texture in so many recipes. So here’s my newest creation … a pesto that tastes luscious, but provides far fewer calories than the original. It’s vegan. But if you’re a little bit more of a traditionalist, you can just stir a little bit of grated Parmesan cheese into the finished pesto recipe.

To add to the newness of it all, I whirled this up in the food processor bowl of my new NutriNinja® Blender Duo. Gosh it’s powerful!

Calories saved: 220

Why it’s better for you? It’s got hemp seeds and a splash of herbal tea.

Disclosure Note: I received a complimentary Ninja® Blender Duo from NutriNinja® as a member of the food media. I was not compensated to write this blog post. The recipe and opinions in this post are mine.

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grilled sharp cheddar cheese panini with cranberry mustard and arugula

Posted by on Nov 26, 2014 in tasteovers by jackie | 0 comments

grilled sharp cheddar cheese panini with cranberry mustard and arugula

The grilled cheese sandwich has been around ever since I’ve been around. Though I always called it “toasted cheese” as a kid. The classic version of this popular sandwich is traditionally made with pasteurized process cheese food, sometimes known as American singles. It’s unfortunate since this type of “cheese” is only required to contain 51% real cheese. Yikes!

So here’s my updated version of the classic grilled cheese, accessorized with flavorful ingredients, including a cranberry mustard and fresh arugula, and grilled in a panini press. The highlight is the cheese. I made this recipe with Sargento slices which are 100% real, natural cheese. Enjoy it made with sharp Cheddar, like I did, or pick your favorite variety. (Hint: Sargento has more than 30 delicious sliced varieties.) Hope you savor the panini soon!

Calories saved: 40

Why it’s better for you? It’s best to focus on what goes between the bread. Use natural cheese instead of processed cheese food. That’s where the succulence happens!

Disclosure Note: I teamed up as a paid spokesperson with Sargento® Foods to provide you this blog post. The recipe and opinions expressed in this post are my own.

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sharp cheddar quesadilla with apple salsa

Posted by on Nov 16, 2014 in tasteovers by jackie | 0 comments

sharp cheddar quesadilla with fresh apple salsa

One of my quick go-to food fixes is a quesadilla. I never seem to make it exactly the same way twice. Here’s my newest version—with a bit of New York flair. It’s made simply with sharp Cheddar and scallion between two whole grain tortillas. The enticing twist is the topping. I usually love a good pico de gallo made with fresh tomatoes. But since tomatoes aren’t in season in my part of the world, I’ve gone with a New York apple-based salsa. Choose whatever apple is seasonal.

Want a true “Empire State” experience? Make the salsa with New York-grown apples, like from Red Jacket Orchards. Their delicious, sustainably-grown apples are available at my local farmers market all-year-yound. But you can enjoy them delivered straight to you. The salsa will work with either a sweet or tart pick. It transforms this quesadilla into something rather special, too!

Calories saved: 250

Why it’s better for you? More whole grains; more fruit; more seasonal; less “bad” fat!

Disclosure Note: One of my clients is Sargento® Foods. I did not receive compensation for this blog post. The recipe and opinions expressed in this post are my own.

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meatless monday: seasonal pumpkin and sage risotto

Posted by on Nov 3, 2014 in tasteovers by jackie | 2 comments

seasonal pumpkin and sage risotto

Risotto is a comfort food that I adore—especially as the weather turns colder. But whole grain risotto is not easily found on restaurant menus. So this is one dish I prefer to make at home.

Since traditional preparation of risotto can take a bit of time and patience, I’m sharing with you my cheater’s version! Simply use short grain brown rice for an excellent risotto-style entrée that’s easier and more intriguing than the conventional version. Luckily, this kind of cheating is a good thing! The short grain rice provides a perfectly sticky texture that’s ideal for risotto making.

Here, I’ve gone seasonal and used fresh pumpkin and sage. Creaminess and tang is provided by yogurt and just the right amount of cheese. All you need to do next is pair it with a protein rich appetizer, such as edamame, or a side, like white bean salad, to round out the meal completely and deliciously!

Calories saved: 120

Why it’s better for you? Pumpkin, whole grains, and healthy fats!

Did you know? You can pledge to go meatless this Monday! Click here!

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