Healthy Recipes for Moms

Minimize your dinnertime craziness!

Carlsmith Family’s Gingerbread Cookies (from Eating Well Magazine)

This is one of my favorite cookie recipes. It appeared in the December 2005/January 2006 issue of Eating Well. (


3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened (you can use regular salted butter if that’s all you have)

1/4 cup canola oil

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 cup molasses (we like blackstrap, but some people might think it’s too strong)

2 tablespoons white vinegar

Directions: Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl. Beat butter, oil, and sugar in another large bowl with an electric mixer until creamy. Add egg, molasses, and vinegar; beat until combined. Add the dry ingredients and stir to combine. The dough will be very soft. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350. Coat baking sheets with cooking spray or parchment paper. Use one portion of dough at a time. Roll to desired thickness, approximately 1/4 inch thick. Cut cookies and place on baking sheets 1/2 inch apart. Bake 10-12 minutes, until puffed but still soft. Cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.

This recipe makes about 80 cookies, depending on the size of your cutters. I usually just bake 2 portions, and save the other two in the freezer for later.


Combine 2 cups confectioner’s sugar with 2 or 2 1/2 tablespoons warm water, and 1 tsp vanilla extract or orange (lemon or lime) juice. Tint the glaze in smaller bowls using food coloring. Have fun decorating!


November 21, 2007 Posted by | Cookies | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip (or Raisin) Cookies


1 cup sugar

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup butter

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp baking powder (no-sodium baking powder if you can find it)

5 tablespoons applesauce (drain some of the moisture out with some paper towels first)

2 large eggs

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour (or just use another cup of all-purpose if you don’t have whole wheat flour)

2 cups regular oats

1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, or raisins to be healthier

Parchment paper (optional)

Directions: Preheat oven to 350. Beat the first 8 ingredients at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add flour and oats to mixture, and beat until blended. Stir in the raisins or chocolate chips. Drop by level tablespoons 2 inches apart onto baking sheets, coated with cooking spray (or use parchment paper instead of spraying). Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on pan for 3 minutes, then move the cookies to wire cooling racks. Makes 4 dozen. Store in airtight container.

Notes for moms:

1. Trader Joe’s makes the best semi-sweet chocolate chips for cookies. I don’t know what it is about these chips, but they are better than any others I have tried.

2. Did you know that baking soda and baking powder are loaded with sodium? Health food stores sell no-sodium baking powders, but I haven’t seen no-sodium baking soda.

3. I know this recipe doesn’t look very healthy, but I think the butter is about 1/2 of what a normal 48-cookie recipe would call for, and adding the whole wheat flour and oats helps too.

4. If you’ve never tried parchment paper for cookies, you might want to try it. It prevents sticking and burning, and given the lower fat of these cookies, it’s probably a good idea to use it.

This recipe is modified from Cooking Light 2000.

November 21, 2007 Posted by | Cookies | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Polenta and Sausage Casserole


1 tube (16 oz) of polenta, cut into 1/4-inch slices

12 ounces Italian turkey sausage, or any favorite sausage (no nitrites if possible)

1 red or green bell pepper, chopped

1/2 tsp fennel seeds (optional)

1 tsp Italian seasoning (optional)

2 cans (14.5 oz) low-salt diced tomatoes, drained

1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Directions: Preheat oven to 450. Step 1 (optional): arrange polenta slices in an 11 x 7 baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450 for 8 minutes, turning once. This toasts the polenta a little, but I have skipped this step when in a hurry, and it’s still okay. Step 2: Remove casings from sausage if they’re removable. Saute sausage, bell pepper, and optional fennel seeds in a frying pan for 5 minutes or until sausage is browned. Try to make the sausage crumble. Add seasoning and tomatoes, and cook for about 2 minutes or until heated through. Pour this mixture over the polenta, and top with the shredded cheese. Bake at 450 for 5 minutes. Serves 4.

I believe this recipe was from Cooking Light.

November 18, 2007 Posted by | Entree-Casserole, Sausage | , , , , | Leave a comment

Red Wine and Chicken Thighs in a Crockpot


3 tablespoons flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

8 skinless chicken thighs (about 3 pounds)

5 garlic cloves thinly sliced, or 2 tsp jarred minced garlic

1/2 cup pitted prunes (sounds unappetizing, but it’s good)

1/4 cup green olives, with or without pimentos

2 tsp dried thyme

1 tablespoon grated lemon rind (optional)

1 bay leaf

1 cup orange juice

1 cup dry red wine

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)

2 cups cooked brown rice or whole wheat couscous if you don’t have time for rice

Directions: Combine flour, salt, and pepper on a plate, and dredge chicken thighs in the flour mixture. Place garlic in the bottom of crockpot. Arrange chicken over garlic. Add prunes, olives, thyme, lemon rind, and bay leaf. In separate bowl, mix orange juice, wine, and honey together. Pour over chicken. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour, then on low for 7 hours; or on high for 2 hours, then on low for 4 hours. Serve over rice. Sprinkle with parsley if desired. Serves 4.

This recipe is from Cooking Light 1998.

November 18, 2007 Posted by | Chicken, Entree-Crockpot or Stockpot | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lentil Stew with Ham and Spinach


3 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium onion, chopped onion

6 garlic cloves, minced, or 2 tsp minced garlic from a jar

5 cans (15 oz) fat-free low sodium chicken broth

2 cups dried brown lentils

1 cup chopped or sliced carrot (4 large carrots)

4 bay leaves

2 cups frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

3 cups chopped baking potato (2-3 potatoes)

2 cups chopped ham steak (1 or 1.5 ham steaks, depending on size) (get no-nitrite added ham, if you can)

2 cans (14.5 oz) low sodium diced tomatoes, drained

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp black pepper

Directions: In large dutch oven or stockpot, saute onion and garlic in olive oil for 5 minutes. Add broth, lentils, carrot, and bay leaves. Bring to boil. Partially cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes. (Consider discarding bay leaves now, since they’re hard to find once you’ve added spinach.) Add spinach, potato, and ham. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes or until potato is tender. Stir in tomatoes, basil, thyme, and pepper, and simmer 10 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Serve with crusty bread. 10 servings of 1.5 cups.

Notes for moms:

1. This recipe is nice because it’s all one pot, although there is a fair amount of dicing and chopping. (I recommend a mini-food processor for the carrots and onion chopping.)

2. This dish is a great dish for the fall, and tastes very healthy to me.

This recipe is modified slightly from Cooking Light 2003.

November 11, 2007 Posted by | Entree-Stockpot Soup, Ham | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Barbecue Baked Lentils and Dogs


3 cups water

2 cups dried brown lentils

1 package of turkey or chicken hot dogs, chopped (no nitrites if you can find it)

1 cup diced onion

2/3 cup organic or low-sodium ketchup

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup prepared mustard

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp allspice (optional)

1/3 tsp black pepper

Directions: Preheat oven to 350. Combine water and lentils in large saucepan. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 minutes. Drain lentils, but reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid. Combine lentils, hot dogs, and diced onion in 11 x 7 inch baking dish. Combine cooking liquid, ketchup, and remaining ingredients. Pour this ketchup mixture over the lentil/dogs mixture, stirring to combine. Bake for 1 hour. 8 servings of 3/4 cup each.

Notes for moms:

1. This is just like having canned baked beans and hot dogs, which would be much easier. But lentils are a nice, healthy change from canned baked beans, plus you can make it lower in sodium than most canned baked beans.

This recipe was modified from Cooking Light 2001.

November 11, 2007 Posted by | Entree-Casserole | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mexican Chicken Casserole


1 large onion, chopped

3 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped

3/4 pound to 1 pound chicken

1/2 cup fat-free low-sodium chicken broth

2 tsp chili powder

pinch of salt

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

6 corn tortillas, cut into fourths

1 cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese

Directions: Preheat oven to 350. Spray and 11 x 7 baking dish with cooking spray. In a large skillet, saute chicken and onions until chicken is done. Chop or shred the chicken and return it to skillet. Add tomatoes, broth, chili powder, salt, cumin, and oregano. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Layer half the mixture, half the tortillas, and half the cheese in baking dish, and repeat with remaining chicken mixture and tortillas. Reserve the remaining cheese. Cover the casserole and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle evenly with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake an additional 5 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly.

This recipe is from

October 28, 2007 Posted by | Chicken, Entree-Casserole | , , | Leave a comment

Crockpot Pork Barbecue North Carolina Style


2 cups apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 tablespoons crushed red pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

1 4-pound boneless pork roast, cut in large chunks

Sandwich buns

Directions: Before planning to make this, beware that the vinegar smell can be pretty potent in the kitchen. In a bowl, mix the vinegar and spices together. Place the meat and vinegar mixture in a crockpot. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour and on low for 10 hours. (Or on low for 12 hours.) Shred the pork chunks using two forks. Until the meat is shredded, it will seem as if there is too much liquid. Serve alone or on buns.

October 28, 2007 Posted by | Entree-Crockpot or Stockpot, Pork | , , , | Leave a comment

Turkey Meatloaf

2 pounds ground turkey (1 pound white breast meat, 1 pound other)

1 cup quick-cooking oats or regular oats

½ cup diced vegetable like carrots or red pepper

½ cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed

¼ cup chopped onion (optional)

1 egg, lightly beaten

½ cup low-sodium ketchup

¼ cup fresh or canned Parmesan or Romano cheese

1 tablespoon dried parsley

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried basil

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 400. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and place in a 9 x 5 loaf pan. Top with some more ketchup if preferred. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until done. A meat thermometer should read 165 for ground turkey to be considered done.


Notes for moms:

1. I often double this recipe and freeze one loaf for later.

2. For dicing up veggies, I microwave them in water for 3-4 minutes, and then dice them in my mini-food processor.

3. This makes a great recipe to give to a new mom, because it has lots of protein, and can be frozen without taking up a lot of freezer space. But remember to hold the onions if the mom is nursing.


This recipe is modified from Cooking Light.

October 28, 2007 Posted by | Entree-Casserole, Ground turkey/chicken | , | Leave a comment

Easy Crockpot Holiday Ham


3 pound ham, bone in (larger or smaller depending on crockpot size) (no nitrites added, if you can afford it)

1 1/2 cup light brown sugar

Directions: Put 3/4 cup brown sugar on the bottom of the crockpot, insert the ham, and then rub the top of the ham with 3/4 cup brown sugar. Cook on high for 1 hour and on low for 6 hours.

Notes for moms:

1. This sounds uninspired, but it’s actually delicious, and an easy meal for serving a group.

2. Ham has so much sodium, nitrites, and fat that I wasn’t sure if I should include this recipe, but it sure is an easy roast for a holiday.

October 24, 2007 Posted by | Entree-Crockpot or Stockpot, Ham | , , , , | Leave a comment