You’ll Never Look at Parsnips the Same Again

I have discovered a new food this winter…the parsnip!  It started with the parsnip chips, which I tried on a whim and have made many times since.  Then I discovered this fabulous Carrot Parsnip ‘Cakes’ at Whole Foods.  They are in the prepared section near the Mac ‘N Cheese balls.  It is kind of like a potato pancake with shredded carrots and parsnips. I have searched the web, but can’t find a recipe anywhere.  I will have to figure it out for myself.  Next time you are at WF, check them out!  I usually heat mine in the microwave…yum yum!

During one of these searches, I happened to come across this recipe for Spiced Parsnip and Apple Muffins on the Whole Foods website.  Above you can find the link to the original recipe and then below, I will share with you some of the modifications that I made in an attempt to ‘clean’ them up.

The first step is to toast your pecans at 350 degrees.  I bought my pecans already chopped in order to cut out a step.  Toast for 10 minutes.  You will know they are ready because the kitchen smalls wonderful!

Then start shredding the parsnips and apple.  My grader has two sides and I chose to use the finer/smaller side.  This was definitely an arm workout!  Luckily the apple was easier to shred. Since the apple is peeled, the two mixtures look the same, but the texture is very different.

Then combine dry ingredients.  I substituted whole wheat and spelt flour for the white all-purpose flour.  I also cut the sugar in half and used Sucanat, a sugar used in many clean recipes.  Stir in toasted pecans and golden raisins.

Whisk together eggs and remaining ingredients.  I used 1/2 cup safflower oil and 1/4 cup applesauce.  Fold the wet mixture and parsnip/apple mixture into the dry ingredients.  This was a little harder than I expected because I had to make sure that  all 3 mixtures were combined without over mixing.

I got these adorable Paula Deen muffin cups at Michael’s.  They had a few options to choose from and they were only $0.99.  Go check them out, they will add some exciting color to your baking.  I used a measuring cup to pour the batter into muffin cups.  I think I didn’t fill my muffins high enough because I was able to get 24 muffins.  They baked for ~25 minutes.

I was so excited to try the muffins, I was barely able to let them cool.  The muffin is probably drier than if I had used the white flour. It has a hearty taste and the pecans and raisins are a fun twist.  My final outcome…these muffins will make a great, healthier breakfast option, but I might use a little more apple (or bigger sized pieces) next time.  AND, if I were bringing them to a brunch, I would use half whole wheat and half white flour and play with the amount of sugar (between 1/2 cup and 1 cup) depending on preference.

The real THM (Take Home Message) is never be afraid to try new foods, such as parsnips, and experiment with fun recipes.  One website that I read said that you can replace your shredded carrot in cakes and breads with parsnip…something I will definitely be trying soon!

Let me know…what new foods are you loving this year?

Pumpkin Lentil Soup Recipe

I had some difficulty with this post initially, but here is the recipe as promised!


Pumpkin Lentil Soup Recipe

2 cups chopped onions (I used 1.5 large onions).  Saute.

Add 1/4 cup butter or oil

5 cups broth (I used chicken)

15-16 oz pumpkin

1/2 cup dry lentils

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/8 tsp marjoram ( did not have any so I googled substitutes and used oregano instead)

1/8 tsp thyme

Dash of Tabasco sauce

Simmer 35-45 minutes.  Puree in blender (optional).

Freezes well.

(2 points plus per cup)

Pumpkin Lentil Soup

An odd couple I know, but somehow pumpkin and lentils combined turn into a delicious and healthy soup.  I used canned pumpkin this time, but I am hoping to try fresh pumpkin when my market reopens for the summer.  The best part about this soup is that it is easy to make and freezes well.

Saute onion in dutch oven or soup pot.

Then add pumpkin, oil, lentils, chicken broth, and spices.  I used only 2 tablespoons of oil to decrease calories, but sill get the flavor.  I didn’t have any hot sauce to add, so my soup was a milder version.

Bring to a boil and saute for 35-45 minutes.  The recipe says that blending is optional.  I used my immersion wand to blend the soup.

The soup is very hearty and tastes fabulous!  I reheated mine with some feta (which I just started eating 2 weeks ago) and it was amazing!

And for your WW’s out there, it is only 2 points plus per cup.


So this post has run amuck…no idea why things are posted where they are, so tune in for the recipe on the next post!!!


I have been having a tough time finding my exercise motivation lately. I am not sure if it is the time of year, the crummy weather or the fact that it took me over 2 weeks to get my energy back after an annoying virus.  My number one reason when it comes to exercising is to feel good and stay healthy.  Exercise helps keeps me energized and reminds me that although I may be critical of my "apple-shaped" body, I am strong and powerful.  Plus, I have really good cholesterol levels.  That being said, there are still times when that second serving of ice cream beats out my desire for clear arteries.  Lately, there have been more second servings of ice cream and fewer killer spin classes.

After being sick, it has taken me a little time to get back into my groove.  Of course, I tried to jump back into things with a 6 mile outdoor run with the Run Club to get my workout ‘MOJO’ going.  Needless to say, I was pretty sore.  I do have an upcoming race, the 8K Shamrock Shuffle in 1 month in which I am hoping to run 8 minute miles. I am also signed up for one triathlon this summer.  My mom and I will be participating in the TREK woman’s sprint triathlon in Pleasant Prarie Wisconsin.  This is her first tri, and I am looking forward to sharing this experience with her.  BUT just in case these goals aren’t enough to get me off my couch…the BOY and I have finally booked a VACATION!!!!  We are going on a 7 day cruise to random Caribbean Islands and Central American countries.  This means that in about 7 weeks this pale and recently unmotivated girl will be in a bathing suit.  Now you women have to agree, THAT is MOTIVATION!

So as I am sure you could guess, I was up early this morning trying out my new jump rope at the gym and Run Club this Saturday is hill repeats.  Although they are brutal, I will be there!



A picture from my last cruise for some extra motivation!

Clean Monday Continued: Clean Cookies

As you can see by the fact that the second edition post of Clean Eating Monday is coming to you on Wednesday, it has been a busy and stressful week.  My initial thought with this blog was to focus on balance. I have many people who tell me how amazed they are that I have time to cook and bake each week.  The truth is that I MAKE the time to do it because I enjoy it.  This has not always come easy to me and I continue to work on giving myself time dedicated to ME, my interests, and my needs.  When life gets hectic, I find that this time shrinks and that is when I need it the most.

Today was a long and stressful day.  (I’m telling you that if there is one more traffic light out on Palatine/Willow Road significantly increasing my daily commute, I might lose it.)  But I set my goal to get to my FAVORITE yoga class this evening.  Running out the door 20 minutes after my work day was supposed to be over proved challenging and as any of you who have driven in the Chicago suburbs at rush hour know, it was not my quickest trip to the gym.  I walked in the door of the yoga studio full of tension and harboring a small case of road rage.  Luckily, the atmosphere and familiar faces calmed my nerves and I decided to set my intention for tonight’s practice to being present…letting today’s stresses and tomorrow’s to do list slip away and focusing on my breath and my mental health.  I walked out of the studio a different person…mentally ready and prepared for the day ahead.  On my ride home, I felt thankful that I had given myself this 90 minute yoga practice and remembered why it is so important for me to make time for yoga and meditation each week.

What better way to end the day than with a fabulous cookie "hidden" in my freezer.  I baked these cookies from The Best of Clean Eating cookbook on Monday.  This recipe has only a few ingredients and was super easy to make.  Everyone loves the combination of chocolate and peanut butter and this unique gluten-free recipe uses fresh almond butter.  It is a nice treat for your mind and because there are only a few CLEAN ingredients, your body too.  Enjoy!

I found fresh almond butter at the Whole Foods. It is very fun because you grind it yourself. I also recommend the peanut butter and the honey roasted peanut butter if your WF’s has them!

I totally forgot to buy the dark chocolate on my trip to WF so instead I used the mini chocolate chips that I had in the pantry.  The dough is a little oily looking (which is probably from the fresh almond butter), so I had to use my hands to help mix in the chocolate chips.

I was a little nervous that the cookies would be crumbly, but they turned out beautiful!


Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes: 24 cookies  Gluten Free


1 cup unsalted almond butter, stirred well

3/4 cup Sucanat

1 large egg

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp sea salt

3 oz dark chocolate (70% cocoa or greater), broken into small pieces



Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl, stir together the first 5 ingredients until well blended.  Stir in chocolate.

Drop dough by tablespoon onto parchment-lined baking sheets.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.  Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes.  Remove to wire rack and let cool for 15 more minutes.


Nutrition (per cookie)

Calories: 110, Fat: 8 g, Carbs: 10 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugars: 3 g, Protein: 2 g, Sodium 55 mg

Clean Monday

When I first started making turkey burgers, I only knew how to do one recipe.  I used chopped zucchini and onions and maybe a little garlic and that was my only turkey burger.  Since then, I have found a few other variations, but nothing like this.  I was looking through my The Best of Clean Eating cookbook this morning trying to decide what to make for the week. 

I usually cook one or two entrees on Monday, and then I have a healthy dinner to heat up when I get home from work during the week.  Tonight, I decided on a turkey and chickpea burger.  I started by chopping up the scallions/green onions.  I mixed them into the food processor with the chick peas, Worcestershire sauce, and spices…pulsing until smooth.  For easy clean up, I decided to use the small processor and everything fit perfectly.

Then I combined the chickpea mixture with ground turkey, mixing by hand to fully combine.  I divided the turkey into 4 patties and cooked them on a skillet pan for ~6 minutes on each side.

The BOY came home and hesitantly inquired about the burgers that I was making.  I reassured him that it was a turkey burger (not just veggies).  I bought him a fresh roll, and he ‘decorated’ his burger with feta, ketchup, and A1.  He pronounced his dinner surprisingly good.  I think it’s a good sign that he ate the whole burger!

I served mine with roasted peppers and onions,  peas , and a little ketchup.  The burger is very tasty!  Definitely something that I will make again. I think next time, I will add some more garlic or onions to the chickpea mixture for a little more flavor.  I’m looking forward to the leftovers this week.  Check out my CLEAN dessert cookies NEXT!



Turkey & Chickpea Burger

Serves: 4


1 (15-oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup roughly chopped scallions

1 tsp ground cumin

2 Tbsp Worchestershire sauce

1 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp sea salt

3/4 lb ground turkey breast (12 oz), 99% fat free

Olive oil cooking spray


In a food processor, combine chickpeas, scallions, cumin, pepper, salt and Worchestershire sauce.  Pulse until smooth.

Transfer chickpea mixture to a large mixing bowl.  Add turkey and mix by hand until combined.

Divide turkey-chickpea mixture into four equal portions, shaping each into a three-quarter inch patty.  heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Coat skillet with cooking spray and cook patties for four to six minutes on each side.


Nutrition (per 6-inch patty)

Calories: 190, Total Fat: 2.5 g, Carbs: 16 g, Fiber: 4 g, Sugars: 4 g, Protein: 26 g, Sodium: 530 mg

Barley Bake

I have been sick for over a week and although my appetite is returning, I’m still not  feeling the meat products.  I found this recipe for a Baked Barley Casserole in Clean Eating Magazine.  It looked like the perfect dinner to have for the week.  The barley is a whole grain so it is healthy and filling, but easy on the stomach.  Just a heads up…I didn’t have the energy to go looking for leeks at the grocery store, so I just didn’t use one.  My casserole didn’t look as organized as the one in the picture, but it tastes great.  It reminded me of one the grain salads I love from Whole Foods.

I started by peeling and then cutting my butternut squash into cubes.

You can use any mushrooms, and I found these at the Whole Foods.  Saute mushrooms with salt and olive oil.

Add veggies and continue to stir.  I also used some extra celery since I had some around.

Add barley and garlic, stir to coat.  Then add chicken or veggie stock along with thyme.  I used dried spices since I didn’t have fresh thyme.

Transfer mixture into casserole dish.  I used my largest Pyrex.  Then cover with foil and bake 20-30 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed.

Add pumpkin seeds and cheese.  The recipe calls for goat cheese, but I had feta so I used that instead.  Return to oven for 10 minutes until seeds are toasted and cheese has melted.

Enjoy the casserole warm or cold.  It has fabulous flavor and the crunch of the seeds tastes great with the feta.  Yum!  Someone has already typed up the recipe on Spark People, so I am going to use that to save some time.



Baked Barley Casserole with Mushrooms and Squash


    1 tbsp plus 1 tsp olive oil, divided
    8 oz mixed wild mushrooms (shitake, oyster, cremini), sliced (about 3 1/2 cups)
    1/4 tsp sea salt
    1 cup butternut squash, peeled and cubed
    1/3 cup leeks, white and light green parts only
    1 stalk celery finely diced
    1 cup uncooked pearl barley
    1 clove garlic, minced
    3 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth ( vegetable stock for vegetarian)
    2 tbsp parsley
    1 tbsp thyme leaves
    1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds
    1 1/2 oz soft goat cheese , crumbled(I used feta)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a skillet or dutch oven, add mushrooms and salt and cook, stirring often, until mushrooms begin to release their moisture, about 2 minutes. Add squash, leeks, celery, and remaining 1 tsp olive oil, cook until everything is tender about 4 minutes. Add barley and garlic and stir until well coated and slightly toasted, about 1 minute. Add broth, parsley, and thyme and stir.
Transfer to an 11-cup casserole dish cover with foil and bake until barley is tender and liquid has been absorbed, about 35 minutes. Remove foil sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and cheese and return to oven uncovered for 10 minutes until seeds are toasted and cheese is softened.
Number of Servings: 6