Browse Category by Light and Healthier
Homemade Not Storebought, Light and Healthier, Recipes

Kale Chips Recipe – Amazing!


I made kale chips tonight – they are pretty trendy and sometimes not worth the effort.  I bought one bunch of kale for $1.20 at the market today and removed the stems when I got home – after washing and spinning in my salad spinner – i baked them up – in about 20 minutes I had a REALLY tasty snack.

If you’ve ever wondered, but haven’t made them yet – you need to get over it and try these.

Toss up the flavors by using garlic olive oil, garlic salt, chili powder, curry, cumin or whatever flavors you love!

Kale Chips Recipe
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Kale Chips Recipe


  • 2 bunches kale
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 tsp. Flake or sea salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Remove kale stems, wash well to remove dirt and spin in your lettuce spinner, or pat really dry with paper towels
  3. Lay dry kale out on a baking sheet, toss with olive oil and sea salt
  4. Bake at 350 for 18 minutes, stirring once 1/2 way through
  5. Enjoy!

Light and Healthier, Menu Planning

Healthy Bag Lunch Ideas

brown bag lunch ideas

I’ve had quite a few request for some quick, easy and inexpensive ways to pack lunches for the kiddos, or for grown-ups!

brown bag lunch ideas

I pack my kids’ lunches every day – and for the most part, I think they eat them.  We do have runs of peanut butter & jelly – or cup o noodles – I’m not superwoman, but I do try to mix things up a lot for them.  I am a firm believer in packing a lunch for my kids.  School lunches are carb and fat loaded messes – and in most cases, the kids don’t really like them.  They even think their PIZZA is disgusting – and my son will eat anything that remotely masquerades as pizza.

I only pack bottles of water in the kids lunches.  No juice or soda. Once upon a time I bought capri sun packets for lunches – but they’re empty calories and the kids weren’t drinking enough water as it is, so water it is.  Every once in awhile I’ll put in a crystal light mix-in for some extra flavor.

Here are some snack and main “entree” ideas for lunches!


  1. Popcorn – pop your own with a little bit of oil on Sunday night and pack a baggie every day.  This is filling and you can keep it interesting by changing up toppings.  Butter and salt, throw a 1/2 cup of sugar in with the kernels for kettle corn.  1/2 C sugar mixed with 1 Tbsp cinnamon for cinnamon sugar corn.  1 Tbsp chili powder mixed with the popping oil for chili popcorn.
  2. Sliced Oranges
  3. Sliced Apples with Walnut or Almond Butter – squeeze a generous amount of lemon juice on these – FRESH is best.  I save lemons I zest for recipes just for this purpose!
  4. Applesauce – buy it in cups or make your own
  5. Grapes
  6. GORP – lots of nuts – make your own so its chock-full of things YOUR kids like
  7. Fruit Chews – Maddie likes these natural chews called Stretch Island.  I buy them at WalMart.

With entrees I try to focus on tasty protein.  Protein is what will help the kids feel full, and will fuel their brains through school.  No protein means they’re hungry and distracted by an hour or two after lunch.


  1. Salad in a Jar – this is a really clever way to pack a salad, it stays crunchy, and if you get a BNTO you can use the same jar for salad and dressing.  Layer the salad stuffs half-to-three-quarters of the way up the quart jar.  You can put anything in here you or your kids like.  Beans, corn, chopped chicken, lettuce, carrots, peas, bacon bits…. etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…….
  2. You can also do a rice or noodle bowl in a jar.  Here’s an example for inspiration.  Use noodles from a packet of ramen noodles and dress them up with some veggies and a tasty quick sauce.  Cold sesame noodles would work this way as well!
  3. Leftovers are a natural – and the easiest thing to pack
  4. I always keep some frozen mini pizzas or hot pockets (store bought or homemade) in the freezer for mornings I don’t roll my fanny out of bed
  5. Make a big batch of soup or green chile and freeze small containers. I buy freezer to microwave deli containers on Ebay – this works amazingly well for lunches as well.
  6. cheese and cracker squares – with pepperoni, summer sausage or ham slices.  pack up in a little container with the crackers in a separate baggie.  Works great!
  7. Breakfast Burritos.  These are great lunches or breakfasts.  I make up a big batch and freeze them.  They’re nearly fully thawed by lunch time and heat up fast in the school microwave.  Be sure to rewrap these if you freeze them in foil so the kids don’t blow up the school microwave.
  8. Peanut Butter and Jelly – but make it interesting.  STOP BUYING WHITE BREAD for your kids!  I have and they’ve adjusted just fine.  I like 12-grain bread with really good natural peanut butter and some low-sugar or homemade jelly.  Put a nice thick layer of PB & J on there – don’t be stingy.  Pack these in plastic ware instead of a baggie so they don’t get mushed.
  9. Wraps are easy and tasty – but my kids complain they get soggy.  I have a strategy for rolling these w/o the sog.  First – put the cheese on the outside, next to the wrap, then meat, then veggies.  Do not put any sauce or dressing on the wrap, send that in a container on the side.  My kids are perfectly happy with a little ranch dressing.  They hate mayo and miracle whip
  10. Quesadillas – cheese quesadillas are easy to cook up the night before – cool and then wrap in parchment.  They’re easy to heat in the microwave and you can pack whatever condiments you like in separate containers.
  11. Ham Roll Ups – these are a great low-carb treat that the kids love.  Take thin sliced deli ham and roll it around a string cheese stick.  You can cut them in half and stand them up in a round container for packing – or just put them in a baggie.  If your ham is extra….moist…then put a little paper towel in the bottom of the container.  This works really well to absorb sog from grapes, cheese, sandwich meat, or whatever.
  12. Potstickers – I’m actually trying a recipe for these this week and I’ll post it here when I’m done.  I think the leftovers would be great in lunches – we could also make up a batch and freeze them so we could throw 3 or 4 in a container for lunch.



Light and Healthier, Recipes

Homemade Paleo Salad Dressings

First, don’t despair – I am not a paleo addict – I think the principles behind it are interesting, but some of their “eat this-don’t eat that” rules bother me – example?  Organic butter is bad, duck fat is good?

paleo salad dressings

That being said, eating more fruits and veggies cannot be a bad thing, and grass fed meats, and game, add leanness to your diet, that’s a good thing.  Maddie and I are trying to eat paleo 1 day a week, just to try it out and see if it works for us.  I was on the lookout for a paleo-friendly salad dressing and came across a few, so I thought I’d share them here!

Paleo Balsamic Dressing
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Paleo Balsamic Dressing


  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar;
  • 1 clove of garlic - grated on the microplane
  • 1 Tbsp grated shallot
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil


  1. put all ingredients in a jar and shake it up
  2. Keeps for a few days in the fridge

Roasting your tomatoes adds an element and depth of flavor that you wont get by using raw tomatoes.  High quality tomatoes also make a big difference, I did this with tomatoes from my garden and it made all the difference.

Roasted Tomato Vinagrette
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Roasted Tomato Vinagrette


  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated on the microplane
  • 1 Tbsp. grated shallot
  • 1 large or 2 med tomatoes, slided in 1/2" slices


  1. Lay the slices of tomatoes on a paper towel, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and let drain for 15 minutes
  2. place on a baking sheet wiped with a bit of olive oil and place under the broiler on low
  3. Roast tomatoes until they reduce in size and turn a dark red color - don't burn them, just change their color.
  4. Remove tomatoes from oven and place on a paper towel to drain
  5. In a blender combine lemon juice, salt, pepper, garlic, shallot and tomatoes
  6. Blend well
  7. Add oil and blend gently for just a few seconds to combine
  8. Store for a day or two in the fridge in a sealed jar

This last vinaigrette is actually a better marinade than it is a salad dressing, but it’s still a really good dressing.  I like this in an Asian slaw with Napa cabbage, carrots and edammame – yum yum!

Asian Ginger Salad Dressing
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Asian Ginger Salad Dressing


  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 large piece fresh ginger, grated on the microplane and set aside
  • 1 clove garlic, grated well
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper


  1. Place the grated ginger in a coffee filter or cheesecloth and squeeze it really well, you'll get about 1 tbsp of ginger juice. Add it to the blender.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients into the blender with the Ginger juice - EXCEPT the oils
  3. blend well, then add in the oils and blend for just a few seconds.


Budget Friendly, For the Freezer, Light and Healthier, Recipes

Easy Cauliflower Soup

This soup is adapted from a Pioneer Woman recipe.  I have used fresh or frozen cauliflower in this – frozen doesn’t need to be cooked as much, but still tastes great.

If you like, you CAN take your immersion blender to this or dump it in the VitaMix to make a creamy smooth soup.  I like it chunky when I use fresh cauliflower, creamy when I use frozen.  Be sure your other veggies are cooked completely if you’re going to blend it.

This soup also freezes VERY nicely – and because it is meat-free, it’s budget friendly.  This uses chicken stock, so it’s not vegetarian, but you could use vegetable stock and make it that way very easily!

Easy Cauliflower Soup
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Easy Cauliflower Soup


  • 6 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 shallot, Finely Diced
  • 1 whole Carrot Finely Diced
  • 1 stalk Celery, Finely Diced
  • 1 whole Cauliflower Head chopped to 1/2" pieces, or 2 bags frozen cauliflower
  • 2 Tbsp Fresh Parsley, minced
  • 6 Cups Chicken Stock (or use boullion and water if you must, it still tastes great)
  • 6 Tablespoons All-purpose Flour
  • 2 Cups milk
  • 1 cup Half-and-half
  • 1/4 tsp fresh nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 C roasted corn, optional
  • 1/2 C Fresh spinach, optional


  1. In a large dutch oven, heat 2 Tbsp Butter & 1 Tbsp Olive Oil, Sautee the diced shallot, celery and carrot until transparent. Add in the diced cauliflower and optional corn and stir well. Cover and let saute for about 10 minutes.
  2. While cauliflower is roasting, in a skillet melt 6 tbsp butter and then add 6 tbsp butter. This will turn into a paste, that's okay. Add about 1/2 C of your chicken stock and cook until the roux turns a little tan in color and cut the heat
  3. Go back to your cauliflower and add the stock in and cover again, cook for 15 minutes until the cauliflower is cooked through.
  4. Add Milk to the stock and cauliflower mixture and add 1/2 and 1/2 into the roux and whip well. Add the roux into your stock mixture and mix well. When this comes to a simmer add in the milk and nutmeg and taste for salt and pepper, add to taste then reduce the heat to just barely bubbling.
  5. Heat through, it will thicken slightly - you can now blend if you want, or leave chunky. If you like this is when you stir in the spinach to wilt it into the soup. Spinach doesn't blend, so don't use it if you don't want green soup!


Budget Friendly, Light and Healthier, Recipes

Lentil & Vegetable Soup

Every once in awhile I remember it’s meatless Monday and make something without meat for the family.  This is generally easier said than done, as they are picky pains in the fanny when it comes to cooked vegetables.  Sometimes I just want to stick a bucket of raw carrots, celery, cauliflower, broccoli, etc in front of them with a tub of ranch and say ‘go for it!’

We ended up with Meatless Wednesday this week, my planning has been all over the place and it was chilly and grey today – so a stew sounded good.  This recipe is originally from the Taste of Home Magazine, but I’ve adapted it quite a little for our tastes.  Enjoy!

Lentil & Vegetable Soup
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Lentil & Vegetable Soup


  • 5 1/2 Cups Water
  • 4 Carrots, Sliced
  • 1 Medium onion, Minced Fine (i have to camoflauge this)
  • 2 Ribs Celery, Sliced
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, Minced Fine
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2/3 C Dried Green Lentils, rinsed
  • 3 Tbsp Tomato Paste (I buy this in the tube, its about 3/4 of a can)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. Dried Thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. Dill weed
  • 1/2 tsp Pepper
  • 1 tsp. Salt


  1. In a large saucepan or dutch oven, combine the Olive Oil, carrots, onion, Celery, and Garlic and saute until the onions are translucent.
  2. Add the water and lentils and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer for about 25 to 30 minutes.
  3. Once carrots are nearly all the way soft, add in the tomato paste, brown sugar, vinegar, salt, thyme, dill weed and pepper. Stir and bring back to a boil.
  4. Cover and simmer 10 - 15 minutes until flavors mingle nicely. Test for salt.
  5. Serve with warmed naan bread and/or steamed rice.

Light and Healthier, Veggies and Fruit

8 Quick Snacks To Make At Home

8 great snack ideas you can make at home

I’m a snacker.  If there are no healthy snacks around, I eat really unhealthy snacks.  So I’ve come up with some strategies to help me circumvent candy bars and horrible fat filled chips.  Not all of these are necessarily the lowest calorie treats you can find, but they’re easy to throw together and not the worst thing in the house you can grab.

8 great snack ideas you can make at home

  1. Almonds & Dark Chocolate.  This is my current fave.  Both are good for you in moderation.  I throw a handful of unroasted almonds and a handful of Girardelli dark chocolate bits into a bowl and snack away.
  2. Popcorn.  We love popcorn here, but I don’t care for microwave popcorn.  I have a whirley pop and pop a huge tub of popcorn a few times a week that I drizzle with a tad of butter and salt.  I dont like plain popcorn, but i can control the oil and salt on my own.  A special treat for movie night is kettle corn, just toss 1/4 cup of sugar in with the kernels right before they start to pop.  When i need a snack, I scoop a couple cups into a bowl and i’m ready.  If i’m looking for sweet & bulk, i mix the popcorn into the almonds and chocolate in #1.
  3. Fruit.  I have a really cool apple peeler and slicer, makes it easy to core and slice an apple fast.  I usually leave the peel on if eating it raw, lots of nutrients in the peel, so keep it.  I also eat a lot of oranges.  Slice and eat, much faster and easier than peeling and segmenting.  Grapes are sweet and if you eat them cold or frozen they can stop your craving for something crunchy.  They’re also great frozen in a glass of water for a different flavor.
  4. Pudding Pops.  I buy pudding cups, stick Popsicle sticks from the craft store in the top, and freeze.  This is way cheaper than buying actual pudding pops, and works well.   ($1 for 4 cups – and you can get fat free or sugar free)
  5. Veggies – celery and peanut butter is a great snack.  Celery is easy and fast to clean, also.  You can clean a whole bunch of celery in a few minutes and plunk a spoonful of peanut butter on a plate pretty quickly.  I also love Sliced hothouse cucumbers and ranch or italian dressing.  I usually make my own Olive Garden dressing, or buy Kens Lite Northern Italian dressing.
  6. Pretzels.  Generally these are baked instead of fried, so they’re lower in fat.  They do have carbs and calories, so moderation is key.  If you’re craving something salty, pretzels are a pretty good choice in the grand scheme of what’s available.
  7. Cheese and ham.  I usually have smoked ham in the fridge.  Generally sliced thin from the deli if I can get it.  I like to cube cheese and cut squares of deli meat and toss them on a plate.  Then wrap the ham around the cheese and nom nom nom.  This is higher in fat, so moderation is key.
  8. Olives and pickles.  Dill pickles are one of my favorite foods.  I like them cold and crunchy.  I also like olives.  Sometimes I just throw some pickles and olives in a bowl for a quick snack.