CRUNCHY GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE

Green bean casserole is my go to recipe for a quick side dish at meal time. You can easily prepare this at the last minute after work or even prepare this in advance before you go to work and place in your casserole dish. Refrigerate it and bake in the oven or microwave the prepared casserole after you get home from work. It is an easy dish to bring to those potlucks as well. I remember that my aunt used to bring this casserole to our family holiday celebrations.

CRUNCHY GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 2 12 oz packages of frozen green beans
  • 1 8 oz can of drained, sliced water chestnuts
  • 1 cup of fresh sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 10.5 oz can reduced sodium cream of mushroom soup
  • 1½ cups whole walnuts
  • 1 tsp. Mrs. Dash Lemon Pepper or Garlic and Herb Seasoning Mix
Instructions
  1. Saute the sliced fresh mushrooms in the olive oil in a small frying pan. Oil or spray a casserole dish with cooking spray. Add the 2 packages of frozen green beans, mushrooms, water chestnuts, Mrs. Dash and reduced sodium cream soup or 1½ cups of the cashew white sauce (see recipe below in my blog) to a large bowl. Stir all the ingredients together and place this mixture in a casserole dish. Top the green bean casserole with the whole walnuts. Bake in a preheated oven uncovered at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or microwave in a glass covered casserole dish for 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve immediately.
Notes
Recipe nutritional information per serving has been calculated using the reduced sodium cream of mushroom soup.

This food blog is not intended to provided medical advice. Contact your personal health care provider for medical and/or nutritional advice.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ⅛ recipe Calories: 212 Fat: 15 g Saturated fat: 2 grams Trans fat: 0 mg Carbohydrates: 15 grams Sodium: 140 mg Fiber: 4 grams Protein: 5 grams Cholesterol: 0 mg

 

The original version of this recipe calls for a can of french fried onion rings as a topping but I wanted to change it up a bit so I used whole walnuts as an appealing and healthy alternative to top it off. I also wanted to add some crunch for a different texture so I added some water chestnuts to the recipe.If you would like to make a main dish out of this casserole, add 1 1/2 cups of cooked sliced chicken, turkey breast or angus beef. This casserole is a good source of dietary fiber, copper, magnesium  and manganese.

Last but not least, I added some sauteed mushrooms since they are a favorite vegetable at our house. I use a homemade white sauce or reduced sodium version of cream soups when my recipes call for a cream soup of some kind. In order to add some extra flair and flavor when reducing sodium in your recipes you can add other sodium free seasonings such as Mrs. Dash or experiment with garlic powder, cumin, Italian seasoning, turmeric or curry powder in your recipes. If you prefer to use a white sauce in place of the reduced sodium canned soup, refer to your cookbook or google a recipe online. The typical recipe usually calls for milk, flour and butter. If you would prefer a non-dairy vegan white sauce, I found a recipe for five minute cashew sauce at A Pinch of Yum food blog which looks very good. Recipe for Five Minute Cashew Sauce: 2 cups cashews, 1 1/4 cup water or broth, 1-2 cloves garlic 1 tsp salt (use less if desired) Directions: Place cashews in a bowl. Cover with water or broth and soak for about 2 hours. Drain and rinse thoroughly. Place soaked cashews in a food processor or blender with the 1 1/4 cups broth or water, garlic and salt. Puree until very smooth in consistency. Makes approximately 2 cups. Add 1  to 1 1/2 cups of this to the casserole mixture in place of the canned cream soup.

Crunchy Green Bean Casserole

I did prepare this casserole for one of my family Christmas celebrations as the picture above shows.

 

 

 

PALEO CHOCOLATE ALMOND TRUFFLES

Just a few more days until Christmas is here! I celebrated Christmas with family members two weeks ago and have another family Christmas celebration this weekend. I really do enjoy preparing favorite old family Christmas recipes this time of year as well as trying new recipes. Some family members as well as friends follow a Paleo food plan so I decided to experiment in my kitchen recently and prepare a Chocolate Avocado Truffle recipe that I found on Dr. Mercola’s website. In order to make the recipe go farther, I added an extra half of  an avocado and swapped out the vanilla extract that his recipe called for and decided to use almond extract since I like the flavor of the almond extract with chocolate. In order to thicken up this recipe, I added some ground flaxseed, crushed walnuts and chia seeds. Everyone needs some dark chocolate  to keep them going this time of year. This recipe calls for  raw cacao powder. This was not available at my local grocery store. It can be purchased or ordered at most food coops. I was running behind on my Christmas food preparation so I decided to opt to use the next best thing, the Hershey’s dark cacao powder. Raw cacao powder is made by cold pressing unroasted cocoa beans which keeps the living enzymes in the cocoa but removes the fat.  The dark chocolate 100% dark cocao  powder may be beneficial in lowering LDL cholesterol, reduce the risk of blood clots, increase blood flow to the arteries, help reduce blood pressure and improve cognitive function if consumed on a consistent basis according to some research studies. The avocado in the recipe is an excellent source of monounsaturated fat as well as a good source of folate, vitamins B6, E and C, potassium and fiber. Coconut oil which this recipe contains as well, may also play a role in improving cognitive function according to some new research on this fat.

Paleo Chocolate Almond Truffles

 

PALEO CHOCOLATE ALMOND TRUFFLES
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
Ingredients
  • 2½ medium ripe avocados
  • 1 cup Hersheys 100% cacao special dark dry cocoa, (unsweetened powder) or 1 cup raw (dry)organic cacao powder
  • 2 tsp almond extract
  • 2 TB melted coconut oil
  • 3 TB regular or organic honey
  • 2 drops liquid stevia or 2 packets dry stevia
  • 2 TB chia seeds
  • 2 Tb ground flaxseed
  • ⅓ cup crushed walnuts (pecans or almonds may be substituted)
Instructions
  1. Peel and scoop avocado out of its shell and place in a medium bowl. Using a hand mixer, beat the avocado until it is smooth in consistency. Melt the coconut oil in a small pan over low heat on your stove or microwave. Add the melted coconut oil, almond extract,honey and stevia to the avocado mixture. Next, add the cocoa powder gradually ¼ cup at a time to the mixture and stir or beat in well with a hand mixer on low speed. Add the chia seeds and ground flaxseed to this mixture and stir in until well combined. Add the crushed walnuts to the mixture and mix thoroughly. Place the mixture into the freezer for 15 minutes. Remove from freezer and using a small cookie dough scoop, scoop the mixture out and roll into balls. if desired dust with powdered sugar. Refrigerate or freeze until serving time. If you freeze them, take the truffles out of the freezer, 10 minutes prior to serving time.
Notes
One serving ( one truffle) counts as 1 carbohydrate choice on a diabetes carbohydrate counting meal plan. If you would like to lower the carbohydrate content further in this recipe, experiment with reducing the amount of honey in the recipe and adding some additional stevia.

This food blog is not intended to provide medical advice to people. Please contact your own health care professional for personal medical and nutritional advice.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 truffle Calories: 162 Fat: 12 grams Saturated fat: 4 grams Trans fat: 0 grams Carbohydrates: 14 grams Sodium: 75 mg Fiber: 4 grams Protein: 3 grams Cholesterol: 0 mg

 

We really enjoy taking some evening car cruises to view  all of the beautiful Christmas lights displayed on houses, churches and in parks this time of year. We took a trip to the Kiwanis Holiday Lights display in Mankato, Minnesota a few weeks ago. I am including some pictures of this fun and fabulous lights display. You can drive through the park or park your car and walk through the display on lighted trails at the park. Santa also visits the park. Hot chocolate as well as horse drawn sleigh rides are offered too.

Kiwanis Holiday Light display, Mankato, Mn.

Well aside from all the health benefits, my family and friends found this chocolate truffle to be delicious. Joining together with family and friends around  the Christmas tree enjoying favorite traditional family holiday foods and and trying new foods as well is what this season is all about. This is the time of year that the birth of Jesus Christ is celebrated as well. Our church and many others offer Christmas services where we sing along to favorite Christmas carols. There always seems to be hot apple cider and holiday goodies after the services. Enjoy your family traditions this time of year, eat your favorite foods in moderation, bring along a healthy dish to pass such as a fresh fruit basket or veggie platter. Plan to go for a walk in the mall or around your neighborhood as a family to stay healthy this time of year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Remember Jesus is the reason for the season! Below are some favorite family photos of our Christmas celebration.

HEALTHY HOLIDAY CHEESEBALL

Wow, It is hard to believe that there are only four days before Christmas. If you are like me, you are still putting all the finishing touches on decorating your home for this season, baking last minute Christmas cookies and wrapping that last present and placing it under your Christmas tree. I prepared this cheeseball last night for my husband’s work place Christmas party today. As usual, I wanted to modify my original recipe calling for cream cheese, shredded cheese, chopped nuts and a one ounce packet of ranch flavor dressing mix. I purchased the 1/3 less fat Neufchatel Cheese to replace the higher fat cream cheese. Next I walked over to the cheese aisle in the grocery store, admiring all of the wonderful varieties of cheese. I selected a few for the holiday season and also purchased a package of Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese made with 2% Milk in place of the shredded cheese made with whole milk. I chose the reduced fat version because I have found that these do not alter the taste and still have a smooth consistency. The revised version of this recipe still contains dairy fat, but much less now per serving with these minor changes. Dairy products are a good source of calcium and protein so I  use them in my diet for that reason. I have used some organic dairy products and find the taste of these is very good. My favorite dairy food of all is Black Cherry  Greek Yogurt.

Healthy Holiday Cheese Ball

 

I used ground walnuts in my recipe but you could use ground pecans or another variety of nuts as well. Walnuts contain heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids called alpha linolenic acid (ALA). ALA is a very beneficial for heart health and may also reduce inflammation in the body. Walnuts are also a rich source of polyunsaturated fat, including an omega-6 fatty acid called linoleic acid which also benefits our hearts. Walnuts have also been linked to improving brain health and prevention of cancer in some medical studies. Including a handful of nuts in your diet each day is also a great way to receive dietary fiber, protein and heart healthy fats. Add them to snack mixes or cereal in the morning also. Two tablespoons will provide 100 calories, 10 grams of fat, 0 mg of cholesterol, 0 mg of sodium, 2 grams of carbohydrate, 2.5 grams of protein and 1 gram of dietary fiber.

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HEALTHY HOLIDAY CHEESEBALL
Recipe type: snack
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 20 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 2 8 oz packages ⅓ less fat Neufchatel Cheese
  • 1½ cups Reduced Fat Shredded Cheddar Cheese made with 2% Milk
  • 1¼ cups chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 3 tsp Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb Salt Free Seasoning Blend
  • 2 tsp minced Dehydrated Onion
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
Instructions
  1. Set cream cheese out at room temperature in a large bowl for ½ hour before mixing the ingredients together to make it easier to work with. Mix seasonings into the cream cheese with a spoon or mixer. Crush the chopped nuts. After the seasonings are mixed into the cream cheese, add the cheddar cheese and mix well. Form into a ball and roll in the chopped nuts. Refrigerate until serving time and serve on a platter with a variety of crackers and raw vegetables.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1/20 of recipe Calories: 130 Fat: 11 grams Saturated fat: 4.75 Trans fat: 0 grams Carbohydrates: 3 grams Sodium: 142 mg Fiber: 0.5 grams Protein: 5 grams Cholesterol: 22 mg

 

If you are a label reader, you will no doubt find that many prepackaged seasoning mixes are very high in sodium content and many also contain monosodium glutamate which I prefer to avoid in my diet. For this reason, I experimented with my spices on hand in my cupboard and substituted the Garlic and Herb salt free Mrs. Dash Seasoning Blend, garlic powder, onion powder and dehydrated minced onion in place of the ranch flavored dressing mix.

Serve the Healthy Holiday Cheeseball for your Christmas or New Year’s Eve celebrations.

 

 

You may wish to serve this cheeseball with a variety of crackers and raw vegetables for your Christmas Eve or New Years Eve celebrations. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year readers.

Merry Christmas

I love decorating my kitchen with vintage table cloths or table runners, antique pictures and other vintage memorabilia. I purchased the table cloth pictured above at an antique store here in my small Minnesota city of 18,000 residents that I reside in.  It is right at home on top of my old singer sewing machine purchased for me by my late mother in an antique store in Mapleton, Minnesota. The The Singer Sewing Machine is displayed in my entryway to my home. My advent wreath with red candles sits on top of my old sewing machine welcoming guests into my home.

Singer Sewing Machine in the Entryway of my Home

 

Have a Merry Christmas as well as a blessed and prosperous New Year!