Tag Archives: healthified

Healthified Frosted Banana Bars

banana bar single
Do you ever have bananas that look like these?

Over-ripe bananas

I over-shot bananas on my shopping list and ended up with 3 1/2 rather ripe ones I couldn’t get the Chief nor my Sous-Chef Dish-Washing mom interested in eating! 🙂

Hand mixer

I ran through the gambit of banana nut bread, or crunchy pecan banana muffins,  and then came across a recipe for banana bars — healthified!  That being, a recipe for banana cake-like bars with a cream cheese frosting with a few ingredients changed for a lighter, healthier version of the original Cream Cheese Frosted Banana Bars without sacrificing taste.

banana bars frosted
I didn’t know if these healthified bars would actually make it to my blog.  After all, I wouldn’t bother you with a recipe that doesn’t give all the taste, flavor, and deliciousness expected from banana bars with cream cheese frosting unless — they are delicious.  Not-to-mention I would be making them with my hand mixer since the kitchen aid is on the fritz and my Cuisinart was still waiting for new parts!

frosted banana bars

But guess what?  These bars are less fat and calories as their original counterparts and the frosting is just as creamy and rich as you would expect.

banana bar bite

The cake is just a bit dense due to the applesauce and the flavor is fantastic!

Happy Baking,
~Blessings, Catherine

Healthified Frosted Banana Bars
Prep time
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Total time
A lighter, healthier version of the original Cream Cheese Frosted Banana Bars without sacrificing taste.
Serves: 3 dozen bars
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium)
  • ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 package (8 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese
  • ⅓ cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until crumbly, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  2. Beat in bananas, applesauce, and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into butter mixture until well blended.
  3. Pour batter onto a 15" x 10" x 1" baking pan coated with cooking spray.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool pan on a wire rack.
  5. For frosting, in a small bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla; beat until smooth.
  6. Frost bars. Refrigerate leftovers.
Over-ripe bananas are the best used in this recipe. Walnuts or pecans make a good addition.

Recipe adapted from Taste of Home.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 149 calories per bar Fat: 4 g fat (3 g saturated fat) 23 mg cholesterol,

Healthified Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

wildrice casserole finished

One of my favorite new websites is www.livebetteramerica.com.  It is dedicated to Health, Food, Fitness, and Relationships.  The term healthified has been coined from the writers and I enjoy learning how to take an original recipe and healthify it by lowering the fat content, sometimes lower sodium and always lower calories.
cooked chicken

I started this casserole with cooked, shredded chicken, although the recipe says leftover turkey works equally well.

wildrice broccoli parmesan

Brown rice, wild rice, vegetables, and Parmesan cheese are added.  I used leftover roasted broccoli, but any vegetables — fresh, frozen, or canned works.

The creamy texture comes from fat-free sour cream, reduced-fat Alfredo pasta sauce and chicken broth.

wildrice casserole serving

Sprinkled with Panko bread crumbs and baked until browned and bubbly the delicious scent will fill the kitchen.

We ate this twice and the second time was actually even tastier than the first! It is one of those casseroles that gets better a day or two in the refrigerator.

My Chief Culinary Consultant gave this two thumbs up! Half of the batch I mixed up and froze, ready to bake on a moments notice.

Happy Cooking!

Verse of the Day

“bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
Colossians 3:13 ESV

Healthified Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole
82% less saturated fat, 75% less fat, and 43% fewer calories than the original recipe. Delicious and healthy way to use leftover chicken or turkey!
Serves: 8-10 servings
  • Water for cooking rice, according to package directions
  • ¾ cup uncooked regular long-grain brown rice
  • ¾ cup uncooked wild rice
  • 1 container (15 oz.) reduced-fat Alfredo pasta sauce
  • 1 cup fat-free sour cream
  • ½ cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • ½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 4 cups cut-up cooked chicken or turkey
  • 1 bag (12 oz.) frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
  • ½ cup Panko bread crumbs
  1. In a 3 quart saucepan, cook brown rice and wild rice according to package directions.
  2. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 13" x 9" baking dish with cooking spray. In a very large bowl, mix pasta sauce, sour cream, broth, Parmesan cheese, thyme, poultry seasoning, and pepper until well mixed. Stir in rice mixture, chicken (turkey) and vegetables. Spoon into prepared baking dish.
  3. Sprinkle entire casserole with Panko bread crumbs. Bake uncovered 40 to 50 minutes or until edges are bubbly and bread crumbs are lightly browned.
Recipe adapted from www.livebetteramerica.com


Blackberry Dumplings Healthified

3 blkberry dumplings

I don’t remember eating anything “blackberry” when I was a kid.  I asked my sous-chef dish washing mom if my memory serves me right.  She agreed that in western Nebraska we just didn’t have blackberries available to us fresh and she rarely bought them canned.  On-the-other-hand my Chief Culinary Consultant grew up eating blackberries right off the bush.  He remembers picking blackberries by the bucketful for his granny to home can in the summer.  From those blackberries she regularly made blackberry cobbler.  She usually had some flour available to her and the milk came fresh from their cow.  Her cook stove was heated with wood and the Chief says the heat was nearly unbearable in the kitchen in the summertime, but his granny baked and cooked for them everyday!

blackberry dumplings in pot

For this blackberry cobbler my blackberries were fresh store-bought and the heat of the oven felt good on a slightly cool spring day. We did pick blackberries fresh last summer but we gobbled them up almost as fast as we got them picked and washed.  Lee’s Aunt Mattie Lou picks wild blackberries each year and cans them.  Occasionally she will bring us a jar of her canned blackberries which I like to use either in a berry pie, a triple berry galette, or even an apple-blackberry crostata.

blackberry dump single

350px-Appalachian_region_of_United_StatesThe best I can find, blackberry cobbler is reflective of a true Appalachian dish.  That being the area of the country shown in white on this map. It is a Native Appalachian cultural trait to LOVE sweets and the original cobbler recipe is reflective of a true Appalachian dish using twice as much sugar as I use.  Even my Tennessee-born, sugar-loving husband agrees this cobbler doesn’t need to be any sweeter and he loves it just as I make it. 🙂  We like to taste more of the blackberry than an over-powering sweetness.  However, if your sweet tooth demands a sweeter cobbler, feel free to tweak the sugar content to your taste!

blackberry dump 1/2 single
Just know, this is one fast and easy dessert!  The berries are simmered for 5 to 10 minutes, the dumpling dough is mixed up within a minute or two and then added to simmer in a the berry mixture for about 20 minutes.  DONE!  You will want to cool them a bit while eating dinner and for dessert the slightly still-warm cobbler will be a delight, I promise.
Happy Cooking, Catherine


Blackberry Dumplings Healthified
Prep time
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Whether you have freshly picked blackberries, frozen blackberries or store-bought fruit, don't miss out on this very easy, healthy, and addictively delicious dessert.
Serves: 4 to 6 servings
  • 1 quart blackberries, rinsed
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup sugar*
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cup skim or 2% milk
  1. Mix berries, water, ½ cup sugar, ¼ t salt and vanilla in large, wide saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer 5 to 10 minutes
  4. For dumplings: Combine flour, 1 teaspoon sugar, baking powder, ¼ t salt, and milk.
  5. Stir just until mixed. Do not over-stir.
  6. Drop by tablespoon into bubbling berry mixture.
  7. Cover tightly and simmer 20 minutes.
  8. Serve in bowls with a dollop of fat-free Cool Whip or fresh whipped cream.
*Splenda can be substituted for sugar. Lemon or almond extract can be used in place of vanilla.

1 Peter 1:18-21

The Message (MSG)

18-21 Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God. It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in. He paid with Christ’s sacred blood, you know. He died like an unblemished, sacrificial lamb. And this was no afterthought. Even though it has only lately—at the end of the ages—become public knowledge, God always knew he was going to do this for you. It’s because of this sacrificed Messiah, whom God then raised from the dead and glorified, that you trust God, that you know you have a future in God.


Broccoli au Gratin

broccoli au gratin spoonful

After a week of recipes like Tuesdays With Dorie Croissants and the Pioneer Women’s Cinnamon Rolls I knew I better end on a healthy note or my faithful reader-son Cory, will definitely disown me!  Enter a lovely bag of fresh broccoli.  I love broccoli.  I think it just may be my favorite vegetable, as an adult.  As a child the only vegetable I would eat was green beans.  But when I was about 45 I grew up and started eating other vegetables.  Today my favorite — broccoli!

steamed broccoli

In the culinary arts, the term au gratin refers to a dish that is baked with a topping of seasoned breadcrumbs and cheese. The au gratin topping should be golden brown, which can be achieved by baking or by placing the dish under a broiler.  Au gratin — a perfect way to serve broccoli!!  Broccoli is a delicious side dish to so many meats and main dishes.  I started this colorful gratin by steaming the broccoli in the microwave. I like baking in a cast iron skillet but you can also use your favorite baking dish or casserole dish.

broccoli with cheese

While the broccoli is steaming in the microwave I made a cheesy white sauce, reserving a bit of the cheese to sprinkle on the hot broccoli.

sauce over broccoli

The cheesy white sauce is poured over the broccoli.

broc au gratin topping

I adore Panko bread crumbs so I used a handful to make up the crunchy topping.  The gratin is baked until lightly browned and bubbly.

broccoli au gratin skilletful
The nice part about using a cast iron skillet is it makes a fun serving dish as well.  From the oven to the table.

broccoli au gratin spoonful

I adapted this recipe from Food Network Kitchens.  It is a keeper for me.  It can easily be made and on the table in less than an hour while finishing up any main dish.

broccoli au gratin single cornbread

We like our broccoli tender-crisp and not mushy.  This recipe is easy to make without over-baking the broccoli.

What is your favorite broccoli recipe?  Please do-tell, I am always looking for tried and true recipes for this yummy vegetable!

~Blessings, Catherine

Broccoli au Gratin
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Broccoli -- cheese -- Panko -- you will love this au gratin!
Serves: 4 to 6 servings
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups milk (2% or whole)
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 pounds broccoli (about 4 heads), cut into small florets (about 8 cups)
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar
  • 1 cup grated sharp and colby cheese, divided in half
  • ½ cup Panko bread crumbs
  1. Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Spray canola oil in a 9" round cast iron skillet or 8" x 8" x 2" baking dish.
  2. Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until smooth. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the milk, sharp cheddar cheese and salt and bring to a low simmer while whisking constantly. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the white sauce is thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with pepper to taste. Remove from heat.
  3. Meanwhile, place the broccoli in a glass microwaveable dish and add ¼ cup water. Cover with microwaveable lid or plastic wrap. Microwave for 3 minutes. Drain off water.
  4. Put the steamed broccoli in the prepared dish, sprinkle with the ½ cup sharp and colby cheese. Pour on the sauce. Sprinkle with remaining sharp and colby mixture.
  5. Cover the gratin with the Panko bread crumbs. Bake until lightly browned and bubbly, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.
Recipe adapted from Food Network Kitchens.

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