It’s not uncommon to come across a new recipe and decide it looks enticing, until taking a second look.  Despite the knowledge that whole grains are healthier than refined grains, eating more produce lowers your risk of many health problems, and less sugar is better than more, many cookbooks and magazines are filled with recipes based upon white flour, sugar, and butter.  Instead, I often slightly modify or enhance a recipe, so that we can still enjoy it, but know it’s good for us.  You don’t have to be incredibly creative and reinvent the wheel, but rather, you can round it out.

A recent day of recipe enhancing

This lovely muffin is a banana blueberry bran muffin, based on a recipe by the Barefoot Contessa.  The recipe appeared healthy until I looked closer and saw it was high in fat and refined grains.  In order to improve it, I substituted whole wheat pastry flour for half of the white flour, used frozen blueberries instead of raisins, skim milk instead of buttermilk, and omitted the nuts.  The calories were almost halved, and it now was filled with whole grains and natural fruits.  Serve it with some orange slices and some skim milk, and you’ve got a nice start to the day!

Roasted chickpeas are a healthy treat that I learned about from the Sneaky Chef.  These are so easy to make: canned chickpeas are rinsed, seasoned, and roasted on a greased baking sheet at 350 for an hour.  They make a crunchy snack, and my kids love them.  They’re great in the place of goldfish crackers, and I often toss a handful in my daughter’s lunchbox.  I sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on the chickpeas before roasting, but use a little less than recommended in the book. They can also be seasoned with onion powder, garlic, or other spices if you’re looking for a savory snack.

And finally, our dinner for that evening– a peanut butter chicken dish from Make it Fast, Cook it Slow, my favorite crock pot cookbook.  This one would be easy to make in the oven or even skillet.  It’s a great recipe, but doesn’t call for many vegetables, so that’s where I step in.  First, I add 1/2 cup of pureed butternut squash to the sauce along with 1/2 cup of chicken broth– this makes it saucy enough to serve over noodles.  Next, once I serve it, I add steamed matchstick carrots and red peppers, along with sides of broccoli and fruit salad.  My kids loved it, and it was the type of recipe that was simple to double, and then freeze half for another meal.

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