Creamy Pasta with Asparagus (Using Yogurt instead of Cream)

When it rains, it pours! First, it was Badger Girl’s Guest Blog last week, then What to Expect When You’re Expecting’s Mom site, and yesterday I was featured on NPN’s website. I was also asked to teach another legal writing class for international students! Thank you Healthfull Ever After followers! It is pouring! I like keeping busy!

Today was my son’s last day of school. His school ended with a bang on the field! Pizza, a DJ, popsicles, and water fights. As we were leaving, he wanted me to read his yearbook. He asked me questions about some pictures.  “Who is this? What does this person do?” Then he asked me what I do.

I answered with, “I am your mom.” He was not satisfied. “I thought you were a teacher for obeying the law?” He continued, “do you cook for them, and why do you take pictures of food.” I explained that I am also a food writer and photographer, and I write for a website. “Is it Google?” he asked. He is 4! How does he know about Google!  After realizing he wasn’t going to get a clear answer, since I don’t exactly know how to describe what I do either, he passed out in his car seat (LOVE when that happens).

I enjoyed the peaceful and quiet ride home, dreaming up what I was going to stir up for dinner! And this is what we created! The whole family was happy with this simple yet tasty and healthy pasta dish! Get messy! Have fun! And eat healthy!

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I first tried the pasta with chicken sausage, but we voted at dinner. This pasta is SO good it doesn’t need anything else!

Creamy (but not using cream, using yogurt) Pasta with Asparagus Recipe:
10 oz noodle of choice- I used whole grain Barrilla Plus Thin Spaghetti

½ cup favorite marinara sauce- I prefer Rao’s

3 tbsp 2% plain Greek yogurt- I like Fage 2% Greek Yogurt

¼ cup Parmesan cheese- freshly shredded (if you have time)

a pinch of crushed red pepper (more if prefer a spicy sauce)

1 bunch asparagus- roasted (see older post on roasted asparagus or a quick recap: bake 425 degrees for 20 minutes, drizzle on 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper to taste)

1.)  Cook pasta according to package directions.

2.)  Once pasta is cooked, rinse noodles and pour noodles back into the same pot. It is okay if there is a little water left over.

3.) In the pot with the noodles, put heat on low, add marinara sauce, Greek yogurt, cheese, and crushed red pepper. Stir for about 3 minutes or until hot.

4.) Cut the asparagus into pieces, blend, and add to pasta.

Vanilla Chocolate Chip Cake

Happy Early Mother’s Day!

While my daughter napped this afternoon, my son and I baked my easy, delicious Vanilla Chocolate Chip Cake.

With Mother’s Day around the corner, this simple, scrumptious, and pretty cake is the perfect sweet touch for a Mother’s Day brunch, lunch, or dinner! Kid bonus- my son utilized his math skills while measuring the ingredients (he eats the chocolate chips and practices subtraction)! Get messy! Have fun! And eat healthy!

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Vanilla Chocolate Chip Cake Recipe

baking spray

1 package yellow cake mix (I bought Pillsbury Classic Yellow)

1 3.4oz vanilla instant pudding

4 eggs

¾ cup unsweetened applesauce

1 cup 2% Greek yogurt

1 tsp vanilla

¾ cup chocolate chips

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1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.) Grease Bundt pan with baking spray.

3.) In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix until smooth. My son had fun measuring, pouring, and stirring.

4.) Pour batter into Bundt pan and bake for 36-42 minutes or until the fork test comes out clean.

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Pantry Essentials

Several of my loyal readers (I hope you are having fun cooking!) have asked me to list my pantry favorites. Great Question! Have fun shopping!

Pepper (with a grinder built in)

Sea Salt

Cinnamon

Cumin

Vanilla

Rosemary

Oregano

Garlic Powder

Nutmeg

Parsley

Basil

Honey

Sesame Oil

Unsweetened Applesauce

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Black Beans

Garbanzo Beans

Cannellini Beans

Whole Grain Noodles- lasagna, penne, angel hair, spaghetti, rigatoni

Quinoa

Instant Brown Rice

Whole Wheat Bread Crumbs

Diced Walnuts

Pistachio Nuts

German Mustard (aka Dijon Mustard)

Ketchup

Quick Oats

Old-Fashioned Oats

Wasabi Peas

Balsamic Vinegar

Chocolate Chips

Cocoa Powder

White Sugar

Light Brown Sugar

Darn Brown Sugar

Powdered Sugar

Whole Wheat Flour

Whole Wheat Pastry Flour

White Flour

Baking Powder

Baking Soda

Yellow Cake Mix

Vanilla Instant Pudding Mix

Marinara Sauce (I love Rao’s Homemade Sauce)

Nutella

Peanut Butter

Low Sodium Soy Sauce

Dried Cherries

Raisins

Olive Oil Cooking Spray

Baking Spray

Canola Oil

Canned Diced Tomatoes

Canned Pumpkin

Canned Artichoke Hearts

This should be a good start! You can find most of these pantry staples at Target (excellent selection and low prices). Get messy! Have fun! And eat healthy!

Go Bananas

Sometimes I feel like I am going bananas, especially when the kids are home this week for spring break!

Today my daughter was whining for a banana while we were driving in the car (don’t you love when they are screaming while you are driving?).

When we got home, my daughter did not forget about the banana.  Unfortunately, all my bananas were rotten!  I have so many healthy and delicious recipes for bananas (you will have to check in periodically to read them all).

Here is the super simple and healthy banana recipe I quickly whipped up this afternoon while my kids were running around the house acting like monkeys.  Yes, they were actually jumping and making monkey noises!  They like to pretend our house is a zoo!

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Baking sprayBanana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe– bakes 6 cookies

1 cup applesauce

2 bananas- mashed (the more ripe the banana, the sweeter the cookie)

1 cup quick oats

½ tsp baking soda

4 child handfuls of chocolate chips

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1.)  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2.)  On a baking sheet, spray on baking spray.

3.)  In a mixing bowl, combine applesauce, bananas, oats, and baking soda.  Mix.

4.)  Drop in chocolate chips.  Mix.

5.)  With a tablespoon, place cookies 1 inch apart and slightly flatten each cookie with bottom of spoon.

6.)  Bake 13-15 minutes or until edges of cookies turn a slight brown.

     This healthy sweet treat tastes decadent when served warm.  Reheat cookies and enjoy for breakfast as a spin on classic oatmeal.  Get messy!  Have fun!  And eat healthy!

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Pasta Party

Tonight my husband danced through the front door singing, “pasta party!”  Our kids jumped up and down chanting, “pasta party!”  That is how tonight’s healthy meal started.
I rummaged through my pantry (which desperately needs to be reorganized) and found my favorite multigrain noodles and marinara sauce.  Now that you are starting to know me, I needed to add a healthy twist.  My son knew exactly where to turn.  Yesterday we received our Door to Door Organics box.  He thinks the local farmers send us a present every week!  He went into our produce drawer and pulled out carrots and broccoli.  Brilliant!

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Tonight’s family fun messy meal was Multigrain Pasta with Chicken, Broccoli, & Carrots 

Multigrain Pasta with Chicken, Broccoli, and Carrot Recipe
three quarters of a 14.5oz box of multigrain pasta (my family prefers Barilla Plus spaghetti noodles)
olive oil cooking spray- enough to cover the entire pan
1 pound chicken breast (use cooking scissors to cut the chicken into bite size strips- cooking scissors are a MUST in your kitchen)
2 long carrot sticks- chopped
2 broccoli bunches- chopped
1 cup marinara sauce
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (I always use freshly shredded.  If you don’t own a grater- buy one!  So fun for kids who are old enough not to cut their fingers on it!)
salt and pepper to taste
1.) Boil noodles according to package directions.  Drain, rinse, and set noodles aside in pot (you will use it again).
2.) In a sauté pan, heat olive oil spray on medium high heat for 1 minute.  Add chicken strips, season with salt and pepper while in pan, and sauté for 6-8 minutes or until chicken turns golden in color or is cooked through.
3.) In the pan with the chicken, add 1/2 cup marinara sauce, carrots, and broccoli and stir for 5 minutes or until the carrots are tender.
4.) Back to the pot with the cooked noodles, mix in 1/2 cup marinara sauce, chicken and veggie mixture, and Parmesan cheese.
5.) Put pot on medium heat for 3 minutes and blend.
My husband had two helpings, my daughter’s face was covered in red sauce with a smile, my son said his spaghetti was worth putting Curious George on pause for, and I cooked one healthy meal tonight!  Get messy!  Have fun!  And eat healthy!

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This morning I attended a school function for my son (it was fabulous until the teacher announced that the kids did not need to finish out the school day – it was 10:30am!!).  While at school, several moms approached me telling me how much they liked my blog🙂  THANKS!

They also asked what I planned on cooking for dinner tonight.  I had to think fast and strategize!  I was not sure what I had in the refrigerator, I now have both kids with me all day, my daughter’s nap to consider, my son’s basketball class later this afternoon, and I wanted to run for 30 minutes.

With all this on the itinerary today, tonight’s healthy family dinner is whole grain breaded tilapia with steamed broccoli on the side.  After naptime and before basketball, we took a field trip to the local fish store!  Going to the fish store is always a fun activity.  My kids love watching the lobsters and crabs swim in the tank and the sleeping fish on ice (I don’t have the heart to tell them the truth about the fish).  My daughter walked out of the fish store whispering, “nighty night.”
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Ingredients for a family of 4:
Here is my Whole Grain Breaded Tilapia Recipe.  My family LOVES this delicious, fast (literally 15 minutes from start to finish), easy, and healthy recipe.

1 ½ lbs tilapia (have the store take off the skin and cut the fish into 4 filets)

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp pepper- freshly grinded right onto the fish

1/3 cup whole grain bread crumbs or panko crumbs

2 tbsp olive oil

      1.) Season both sides of tilapia with salt and pepper.

      2.) In a medium bowl, pour breadcrumbs.

      3.) Dip fish into breadcrumbs and cover completely.

      4.) In a large frying pan, heat olive oil on medium high heat and add fish for 3 minutes on each side or until the fish is completely cooked through.

My son loves to dip the filets in the breadcrumbs. Get messy!  Have fun!  And eat healthy!
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Cookies

My son begged me to bake cookies with him after his bath last night.  Whenever one of my children wants to bake, it doesn’t matter what time it is, they know I am a sucker for baking. 

Realizing the late hour, I whipped up my fastest cookie recipe.  My peanut butter cookies are the healthiest, easiest recipe ever!  After gathering the four ingredients, measuring (peanut butter is a bit tricky to pour), and mixing the batter, the cookies were in the oven turning a beautiful golden color.  Twelve minutes to perfection and both my son and I were enjoying a late night healthy dose of protein with a touch of sugar before bed.  Sweet peanutty dreams!
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Here is the recipe for these healthy, super easy, and most delicious peanut butter cookies ever! BAKE AWAY!

Ingredients:

2 cups crunchy peanut butter

¾ cup white sugar

1 egg

1 tsp baking soda

Baking spray

1.)  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2.)  Combine all ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir until smooth.

3.)  Place 1 heaping tbsp of batter onto greased cookie sheet about 1 inch apart.

4.)  With the back of a fork, flatten slightly- about a quarter of an inch thick.

5.)  Bake cookies for 10-13 minutes or until cookies appear golden brown around the edges.

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Another night of cooking one quick healthy dinner for the entire family!  I am on a roll this week!  With the warm weather in Chicago, we decided to grill.  I threw together my favorite summer marinade on chicken breasts.  Both my children slipped on their crocs and headed out on the deck to barbecue.  They helped squeeze the lemons and flip the chicken.  My daughter who rarely eats any protein ate the chicken!  My son asked for seconds!  Grilled lemon rosemary chicken breast, lightly seasoned zucchini, and brown rice.  So delicious and refreshing!

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Ooops!

A quick note- my husband was not happy that he was not included in my blogging about our recent cooking, baking, and grilling.  He gets his hands dirty in the kitchen and on the grill too!  I can tell the kids are the happiest when we are ALL involved!

Home made pizza

Today, I am proud to say, my children ate a healthy dinner.  My son’s usual request for dinner is pizza.  Tonight we kind of made our own pizza:)  With a healthy twist, of course!
We unwrapped the whole wheat crust, slathered on the sauce, sprinkled on some baby spinach, strategically placed shredded chicken breast, and loaded the pizza with mozzarella cheese.  Both my children took turns turning on and off the oven light and watched the pizza until the cheese bubbled.  My son ate three slices!