Carrot Cake Re-Mix with Greek Yogurt Frosting

Want to cut 500 calories per serving and lots of sugar from classic carrot cake? Give our healthy Carrot Cake Re-Mix a try. It’s made with wholesome ingredients like whole wheat flour, walnuts, carrots (of course!), and canned pumpkin with a vanilla Greek (or Skyr) yogurt frosting versus the usual sugar/cream cheese combo. And the portion is reasonable, so it’s satisfying but doesn’t leave you feeling ridiculously stuffed.

This is one of our most extreme makeovers ever!

Carrot Cake Re-Mix with Greek Yogurt Frosting via #healthy #dessert

We love nothing more than the challenge of taking a buttery, sugary, all-white-flour dessert and “fixing” it with slimmed down, flavor-filled, and nutrient-rich ingredients. That’s exactly what we just did with a classic carrot cake with cream cheese frosting recipe sent to us by podcast fan (and now, friend!), Patty F., a mom of two.

Carrot Cake Re-Mix with Greek Yogurt Frosting via #healthy #dessert

Patty got the recipe from a friend and had a few ideas for how she could give it a makeover starting with swapping half the white flour for whole wheat. We hit the ground running, and after two tries and lots of healthy carrot cake later, came up with the following makeover strategy:

For the Cake:

2 cups all-purpose flour => 1 cup AP flour + 1 cup whole wheat flour
Regular eggs => Omega-3 eggs
2 cups sugar => 1 cup sugar
1½ cups oil => 1/2 cup oil + 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
Add ins => Ground flaxseed + walnuts

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Wild Blueberry Oat Cake + How to Make Greek Yogurt Frosting (The Recipe Redux: Sponsored Contest)

This wild blueberry cake is made with whole grain oats and a homemade Greek yogurt frosting that’s a lot healthier than traditional cream cheese frosting.

Learn how to make Greek yogurt frosting. It’s a whole lot healthier than cream cheese frosting and tastes just as good … if not better!

Wild Blueberry Oat Cake with Greek Yogurt Frosting via

I love cake and my kids love it too, and since my boys are teenagers, they can eat A LOT of cake in one sitting without thinking twice. That’s why I often find myself dreaming up new ways to make cake better. By better I mean lighter in fat and calories, more substantial in terms of good nutrition, and of course, brimming with great flavor. Did I meet all of those meal makeover goals with my new recipe for Blueberry Oat Cake with Greek Yogurt Frosting? Absolutely!

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A Recipe for Peachy Pecan Cinnamon Buns … that won’t make your buns big! {An Extreme Makeover of the Pioneer Woman’s Cinnamon Rolls}

Sticky Bun makeover via

Yesterday, we paid a visit to Kristin from the Manic Mommies to bake up a batch of Chocolate Almond Cookies for her annual cookie swap … and to be guests on the Manic Mommies podcast.

Meal Makeovers Recipe App

We had a blast sharing healthy holiday dessert recipes from our new mobile app, Meal Makeovers and catching up with our friend. We were also there on another important cooking mission: to give cinnamon rolls—a Pioneer Woman original made with a heart-stopping 2 cups of butter, 3 cups of sugar and a bag of powdered sugar—a mega extreme makeover. Joining us was mini Manic Mommie, Sophie, who turned out to be quite the silly, sassy, and talented baker!

Baking cinnamon buns with the Manic Mommies via

Every Christmas, Kristin’s mom makes the Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon rolls. While Kristin told us she loves every gooey, sticky bite, the rolls are decadent to a fault. We have nothing against Ree Drummond, and she certainly doesn’t know us from a hole in the wall, but we felt a throw down was in order!

Our goal with our sticky bun makeover was to come up with something easy enough to make on lazy weekends and light and flavorful enough to eat without guilt. The results were divine. Kristin, Sophie, and Kristin’s husband, Steve LOVED them, and as we shared on the podcast, “our better-for-you Peachy Pecan Cinnamon Buns won’t make your buns big!”

We’re still playing with the recipe a bit and would love to get YOUR feedback, so we challenge you to make our better buns and post your comments here on the blog. Are you game?

Making healthy sticky buns via

To make our cinnamon buns, begin by rolling out a 16-ounce pizza dough. That’s the shortcut part …

cinnamon bun makeover via

Brush the dough with 1 to 2 tablespoons of melted butter (Kristin was game for 2 tablespoons) and a mixture of 1/2 cup chopped pecans, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon.

cinnamon bun makeover via

Roll up the dough into a tight “log,” and then slice into 1-inch pieces. Yes, that is a ruler you see in the shot 🙂

stick bun makeover via

Arrange the rolls on two buttered 9-inch cake pans, and brush the tops with 1 tablespoon of melted butter. (Next time we make these, we plan to use a large rimmed baking sheet instead.)

sticky bun makeover via

Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Flip each cinnamon bun and bake 5 to 10 minutes more. Remove from the oven and drizzle with a mixture of powdered sugar and milk. Devour!

Peachy Pecan Cinnamon Buns

Makes 18 Servings

There’s plenty of flexibility with this recipe. You can try whole wheat pizza dough instead of white, swap out pecans for walnuts, add some dried cranberries, or use less powdered sugar if you want just a drizzle of frosting on top versus, well, a generous drizzle. Each of our buns has 140 calories, 1 gram of saturated fat and 3 teaspoons sugar. The Pioneer Woman’s version: 410 calories, 8 grams saturated fat, and 10 teaspoons sugar.

  • One 16-ounce pizza dough, room temperature
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons butter, melted and divided
  • 1/2 cup peach preserves (or any other favorite fruit preserve)
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped toasted pecans
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons 1% low-fat milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Butter a large baking sheet and set aside.

2. Sprinkle flour on a clean kitchen countertop and roll out the pizza dough into a 17 x 9-inch rectangle. A rolling pin comes in handy here!

3. Brush 2 tablespoons of the melted butter over the entire surface of the dough followed by the peach preserves. In a small bowl, combine the pecans, brown sugar, and cinnamon and sprinkle over the pizza dough, making sure to cover all ends. Roll up tightly into a long “log.”

4. Use a sharp knife to cut the “log” into 1-inch rounds. You don’t have to let the dough rise. Arrange the buns on the prepared baking sheet, leaving a 1-inch space between each one, and brush the tops with the remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter. Bake 20 minutes, until the bottoms brown. Remove from the oven and use a spatula to flip each roll. (We do this so the bottoms don’t burn.) Place back in the oven, and bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until the rolls are cooked through and golden brown.

5. In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar and milk until the sugar dissolves. Drizzle the frosting over the hot buns, cool slightly, and serve. (If you have extra frosting, serve it on the side.) Transfer leftovers to an airtight container.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 bun):  140 calories, 4.5g fat (1g saturated), 210mg sodium, 23g carbohydrate, 12g sugar, 1g fiber, 2g protein
Pioneer Woman’s Nutrition Information per Serving (1 bun):  410 calories, 17g fat (8g saturated), 380mg sodium, 61g carbohydrate, 39g sugar, 1g fiber, 4g protein

Print Recipe

Our sous chef, Sophie, wishes everyone a happy holiday season … And remember to make our cinnamon buns and send us your feedback and suggestions!

Happy holidays

In Manic Mommies' Kitchen

And yes. We all made a complete mess of Kristin’s kitchen 🙂

A Recipe for Do-It-Yourself Chocolate Syrup … Plus Other DIY Recipe Mixes (Podcast #217)

When you assemble things like taco seasoning mix, pancake mix, and your own mixes for chocolate syrup and creamed soups, you end up saving money, using less packaging, and getting unpronounceable ingredients out of your family’s diet. This week on our Cooking with the Moms radio show, we chat with fellow dietitian, Melanie Zook, MA, RD from Fresh Start Nutrition about the benefits and how-tos of DIY recipe mixes … and we share our recipe for Beef & Bean Taco Bundles, which relies on Melanie’s from-scratch seasoning mix.


You won’t find high fructose corn syrup in Melanie’s chocolate syrup mix; just simple ingredients right from the pantry. While her mix is not sugar free, you certainly know what you’re getting in each spoonful.


A little bit of chocolate syrup goes a long way when it comes to drizzling over fresh strawberries or swirling into a cool glass of low-fat milk.

Do-It-Yourself Chocolate Syurp

Makes About 28 Tablespoons

Melanie suggests using organic ingredients when possible. To be exact, she uses the fair trade, organic evaporated cane juice, available at BJs and Costco.

  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Place sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a small saucepan, and whisk together gently.

2. Whisk in water. Bring mixture to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer 1 minute. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla extract.

3. Cool the mixture, place in a container, and store in the refrigerator.

Nutrition Information per Serving (2 tablespoons): 90 calories, 0g fat, 10mg sodium, 24g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 1g protein

Print Recipe

Many thanks to Melanie for coming onto our show and for serving up her DIY mix creations. (Photoed above: DIY Chocolate Syrup and our Beef & Bean Taco Bundles.)

A Recipe for Black Bean Enchiladas with Pumpkin Sauce and a Celebration of Cilantro {The Recipe Redux}

Add an extra burst of great nutrition to bean enchiladas by weaving pumpkin into the sauce. 

Bean Enchiladas with Pumpkin Sauce via

When I heard about this month’s Recipe Redux “Green with Herb Envy” cooking challenge, I had one of those LOL moments. The image of green things popping from the earth, backyard gardens, and thumbing through seed catalogs seems light-years away. The Boston suburbs are still blanketed in snow, so instead of seeing green, everything outside right now is bright white. Those poor little crocuses don’t even seem to have a chance. Yes, March came in like a lion … and it’s clearly going out like one.

snowy New England

I love participating in the monthly Recipe Redux blogger roundup and decided not to let a little 10-inch snowstorm stop me. I chose gorgeous, aromatic cilantro as the featured herb, and although I may not have used it in a nontraditional way, rather than the usual garnishing afterthought, I added a giant handful right to the bean enchilada filling.

Black Bean Enchiladas with Pumpkin Sauce via #pumpkin #beans

Herbs like cilantro really wow us at Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen. They bring big, bright flavors to recipes, help home cooks cut back on the need for lots of salt, they’re pretty to look at, and they’re packed with antioxidants. When I think of herbs—parsley, mint, cilantro, basil, rosemary, thyme—I think “vegetable.”

Black Bean Enchiladas with Pumpkin Sauce via #pumpkin #beans

Cilantro is one of those love-it-or-hate-it foods (kind of like goat cheese, which, I’m happy to say, I also love). I chose it for the Recipe Redux because I find myself turning to it all year long.

Boosting the good nutrition in everything I make is always a priority, and it was super easy with this recipe. In addition to the half cup chopped cilantro in the filling, I also added nutrient-rich black beans, baby spinach, corn, and low-fat cheese. For the tortillas, I turned to 100% whole wheat and enhanced the enchilada sauce with half a cup of canned pureed pumpkin.

Black Bean Enchiladas with Pumpkin Sauce
The idea for incorporating pumpkin into the enchilada sauce came from Stacey M., a mom and a fan from Eagle, CO. Stacey wrote: "Pumpkin has become a staple for us for all meals. I made enchiladas tonight. I use canned enchilada sauce and even the mild is a bit too spicy for the girls (they are 4 and 6), but I love spicy food. I puree the can of sauce with about ½ - ⅓ cup of canned pumpkin to cut the spice, add nutrition, and thicken it up. I don't think any of them have figured it out! My girls are pretty good eaters and love sour cream so I serve it with the enchiladas. Add a cup of milk and I can have my slightly spicy dinner that everyone will eat!!" Garnish with additional cilantro, chopped tomatoes, sliced olives, diced or sliced avocado, and lime wedges.
Serves: 8
  • 1 tablespoon expeller pressed canola oil
  • 6 green onions, chopped (white and light green parts only)
  • One 6-ounce bag baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 cups shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese, divided
  • One 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • ½ cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • One 15-ounce can enchilada sauce (mild, medium, or hot)
  • ½ cup canned 100% pure pumpkin
  • Eight 8-inch whole wheat flour tortillas
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly oil or coat a 9 x 13-inch baking pan or dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the green onions and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 3 minutes. Add the spinach, cumin, and chili powder and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until wilted, 3 more minutes. Transfer the cooked veggies to a large bowl and set aside to cool, about 5 minutes. When cool, stir in 1 cup of the cheese, beans, corn, and cilantro until well combined.
  3. Meanwhile, place the enchilada sauce and pumpkin in a medium-size bowl and whisk until well combined. Spread ½ cup of the mixture evenly on the bottom of the prepared baking pan.
  4. To assemble the enchiladas, place ½ cup of filling down the center of each flour tortilla. Roll up tightly, tucking in the ends, and place seam side down in the dish. Cover evenly with the remainder of the sauce, sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup cheese, and bake, uncovered, until bubbly, about 20 minutes.
Each serving also provides 60% vitamin A, 25% vitamin C, 25% calcium, and 15% iron.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: (1 enchilada) Calories: 310, Fat: 11g, Saturated fat: 3g, Carbohydrates: 41g, Sodium: 730mg, Fiber: 8g, Protein: 16g

Registered Dietitian Day + a Recipe for Strawberry-Filled Toaster Pastries (AKA a Pop-Tart® Makeover) — Podcast #214

Today is Registered Dietitian Day … or RD Day for short. It’s a day when dietitians are acknowledged for the work they do to help friends, family, clients, and communities eat a healthy, wholesome, and delicious diet. We celebrate today with one of our most extreme recipe makeovers ever, created with our friends at Driscoll’s, for Strawberry-Filled Toaster Pastries, a wholesome, homemade makeover of Pop-Tarts®. We chat about both topics on this week’s Cooking with the Moms radio podcast.

Strawberry-Filled Toaster Pastries via #poptarts

Our toaster pastries get a healthy “fix” with a better-for-you pastry made with oats, ground flaxseed, and coconut oil, and naturally sweet filling made with luscious, fresh strawberries. (The type of saturated fat in coconut oil appears to have a neutral effect on serum cholesterol levels.)

Strawberry-Filled Toaster Pastries via #poptarts

For a lot of home cooks—including us—a major obstacle to making pastry is the “rolling out” part. We avoid the headache of dough that’s hard to handle or worse yet, sticks to the countertops, with the help of a gallon-size, zip-top bag. Simply split the dough in half, roll each half into a ball, and then place inside a zip-top bag. Roll out until the dough reaches all four corners. Freeze the dough and then cut into desired shapes.

Strawberry-Filled Toaster Pastries via #poptarts

Take the dough from the freezer and thaw for a minute or two. Measure out desired shape sizes and then cut with a kitchen scissor. A ruler comes in handy for this recipe; you’ll need 12 rectangles from each of the two zip-top bags.

Pop Tart Makeover via

We love the filling in this Pop-Tart® makeover. It’s made with half a pound of ruby red Driscoll’s strawberries. We add 2 tablespoons sugar, a tablespoon of lemon juice, and some cornstarch to thicken the mixture. Don’t you love the color?!

Pop Tart Makeover via

The tines of a fork helps to seal the pastries, keeping the luscious filling safely inside!

Pop Tart Makeover via

Strawberry-Filled Toaster Pastries are ready to be devoured! We created this recipe for our friends at Driscoll’s Berries. Visit their website for the recipe.

Disclosure: We worked with Driscoll’s to create this recipe and were compensated for our work. 

Homemade Healthy Beefaroni — Beefaroni in a Can Gets a Nutritious Makeover

This homemade, healthy, one-pot version of Beefaroni is easy to make, and it features nutrient-rich lean ground beef, whole grain pasta, mushrooms, and bell pepper. 

Homemade Healthy Beefaroni via #Lean #Beef #WholeGrain #Pasta

Dinner from a can can be convenient, but there can clearly be some nutritional drawbacks. Take Chef Boyardee’s Beefaroni as just one example. The sodium is on the high side—730 milligrams in a 1 cup serving—it contains just 9 grams of protein, and the only “vegetable” in the meal is tomato puree from the sauce. The enriched macaroni is made with 100% white flour, so there are no whole grains present.

Homemade Healthy Beefaroni via #Lean #Beef #WholeGrain #Pasta

Somewhere back in the recesses of my brain, I do remember eating Beefaroni as a kid (not often since my mom was an awesome home cook who loved cooking meals from scratch), but today, it’s something I prefer to make myself … and this recipe for Homemade Healthy Beefaroni  is almost as easy to make as opening up a can.

Watch my YouTube cooking video of Homemade Healthy Beefaroni.

Homemade Healthy Beefaroni via #Lean #Beef #WholeGrain #Pasta

 My homemade version calls for two vegetables—red bell pepper and mushrooms—and I serve a third veggie, asparagus, on the side. By the way, according to the rules of etiquette, you can eat un-sauced asparagus with your fingers, which totally annoys Tim but makes my boys so happy.

Homemade Healthy Beefaroni via #Lean #Beef #WholeGrain #Pasta

5.0 from 1 reviews
Homemade Healthy Beefaroni
Using whole wheat pasta ups the fiber, and the lean ground beef adds high-quality protein as well as important nutrients like iron and zinc.
Recipe type: Dinner
Serves: 5
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into ¼-inch dice (about 1½ cups)
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (90% or higher)
  • One 26-ounce jar marinara sauce
  • 2 cups water
  • 8 ounces dried whole wheat rotini pasta
  • 1 cup shredded light Italian cheese blend or Cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, optional
  • Chopped fresh basil, optional
  1. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the bell pepper and mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 10 minutes
  2. Add the meat and cook, breaking up the large pieces, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Drain excess fat.
  3. Stir in the pasta sauce and water, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Stir in the pasta and return to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook at a low boil, covered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender, about 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese. Cover and let stand until the cheese melts. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and basil as desired.
Wow. Each serving has over 30 grams of protein as well as 50% vitamin C, 30% vitamin A, 25% iron, and 20% calcium.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 400 Fat: 13g Saturated fat: 5g Carbohydrates: 43g Sodium: 580mg Fiber: 6g Protein: 31g

For more of my healthy, makeover recipes, check out my YouTube cooking channel.

Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Wild Blueberry Compote + Cooking Classes at the Culinary Institute of America

Why use butter in baking when you can use olive oil instead! This Lemon Olive Oil Cake is light and luscious and rich in heart healthy monounsaturated fats.

Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Wild Blueberry Compote via #dessert #oliveoil #Mediterranean

When you hear the word, “cake,” it  sounds decadent, but that’s not the case with our cake.

According to a new study on the benefits of a Mediterranean diet, eating things like olive oil every day can help to protect against cardiovascular disease and stroke.

The back story on this recipe …

Any time I can go to Napa Valley — for business or for pleasure — I jump at the opportunity. When the Food & Culinary Professionals (a sub group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) announced plans for a culinary workshop at the Culinary Institute of America, I think I was the first dietitian to sign up! On this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast, I share the delicious details from my trip, and I serve up two new recipes: this one for Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Blueberry Compote and another one for gluten-free quinoa guacamole.

The Culinary Institute of America has amazing facilities for classes with tiered seating and video screens. Hmmmm. And I thought the big island in my new kitchen was impressive!

What fun to start the day with an extra virgin olive oil (AKA fresh fruit juice) tasting. Heat and light are enemies of EVOO, so be sure to always store it in a cool, dark place.

Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Wild Blueberry Compote via #dessert #oliveoil #Mediterranean

The sweetness of the blueberry compote adds a luscious, family-pleasing flavor element to this awesome dessert.

Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Wild Blueberry Compote

Makes 12 Servings

I ate lemon cake like this one at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, and it was so delicious that knew I wanted to make it when I got home. When I looked at the recipe and saw 2 cups of sugar, 1½ cups of oil, and all white flour, I felt a mini makeover was in order, so I cut the oil and sugar in half to keep the calories in check and replaced half the white flour with whole wheat flour. I also created a blueberry compote for an added burst of great nutrition. To make this cake even prettier, sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.


  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 3/4 cup 1% low-fat milk
  • 3 tablespoons lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Blueberry Compote

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 cups frozen wild blueberries
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar 
  • Powdered sugar, optional

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil or coat a 9-inch springform cake pan with nonstick cooking spray or butter and set aside. (If you don’t have a springform pan, use a 10-inch cake pan and cook about 5 to 10 minutes less.)

2. Whisk together the eggs and granulated sugar in a large bowl. Add the olive oil, yogurt, milk, lemon zest, and lemon juice and whisk until well combined.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, and salt until combined. Make a well in the dry ingredients, and slowly add the liquid ingredients, stirring until just combined and lumps are gone. (You may need to use a rubber scraper to smoosh the lumps against the sides of the bowl.) Do not overmix.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake is just pulling away from the sides of the pan. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cake to a serving platter.

5. To make the blueberry compote, place the lemon juice and cornstarch in a small bowl and whisk until well combined. Set aside. Place the blueberries, water, and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat, add the cornstarch mixture, and simmer, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes.

6. Serve each cake slice with the compote, and sprinkle with powdered sugar as desired.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 slice with 1½ tablespoons compote): 320 calories, 16g fat (2.5g saturated), 200mg sodium, 41g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 5g protein, 10% calcium

In the “before” recipe, each slice has 500 calories, 30 grams total fat, 5 grams saturated fat, and 55 grams carbohydrate.

Print Recipe



Every time I go to a culinary workshop at the Culinary Institute at Greystone in Napa Valley, I want to stay forever. It’s a food lover’s paradise 🙂

An Oscar Party Recipe for South-of-the-Border Tortilla Soup (Recipe Redux)

This family-pleasing tortilla soup comes together quickly with chicken or vegetable broth, black beans, corn kernels and fire-roasted tomatoes. The toppings of homemade tortilla chips, avocado, cilantro, and shredded cheese bring it all together. 

South-of-the-Border Tortilla Soup via #soup #Mexican #tortillasoup

Every year when the Oscars roll around, we stay up late to hear the results, but then we wonder, “Why on Earth did we stay up so late? We haven’t seen any of the movies!” This year is no exception … with the exception of Lincoln. I prefer watching my movies from the comfort of my own home, and the movies I often gravitate to are the ones with a foodie theme. Over the years, some of my faves have been Babette’s Feast, Big Night, Eat Drink Man Woman, Food Inc., and my ALL-TIME favorite … Tortilla Soup.

South-of-the-Border Tortilla Soup via #soup #Mexican #tortillasoup

 In honor of Oscar night, this month’s Recipe Redux cooking challenge theme was to create a healthy recipe inspired by a favorite food scene or featured dish from any movie. Once I heard about the challenge, Tortilla Soup came immediately to mind … and so did this bean-filled recipe for South-of-the-Border Tortilla Soup, adapted from our second cookbook, No Whine with Dinner.

South-of-the-Border Tortilla Soup via #soup #Mexican #tortillasoup

I had so much fun taking photos of this colorful and nutrient-rich soup!

Tortilla Soup poster

I grew up in a family of three girls — I’m the “pickle in the middle” — so maybe that’s why I loved Tortilla Soup so much. It’s about a Mexican-American family living in California. The dad is a widower, and his three grown daughters still live under his roof. The dad is a chef, and his elaborate, home-cooked meals always bring the family together. The movie is filled with all sorts of hilarious happenings (which often unfold at the dinner table), though some of the scenes are a bit spicy. Chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger (AKA Too Hot Tamales) worked on the movie set preparing and styling the food.

South-of-the-Border Tortilla Soup via #soup #Mexican #tortillasoup

I made some tweaks to our original recipe. Instead of using a 15-ounce can of tomato sauce, I used a 15-ounce can of super-flavorful Muir Glen Organic 2012 Reserve Fire Roasted Petite Diced Tomatoes. I pureed the tomatoes before adding because my boys don’t like lumps. I added a few pinches of chipotle chili powder, and for the toppings, I tossed in some leftover roasted chicken.

South-of-the-Border Tortilla Soup
This recipe is adapted from No Whine with Dinner: 150 Healthy, Kid-Tested Recipes From the Meal Makeover Moms. It calls for making your own corn tortilla chips. But you could certainly use your favorite store-bought chips instead. I love this recipe because it's perfect for cozy family dinners and entertaining. You can make it vegetarian by using vegetable broth and opting out of the optional chicken topping.
Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 6
  • 2 tablespoons expeller pressed canola oil, divided
  • 1 small onion, cut into ¼-inch dice (about 1 cup)
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • One 32-ounce carton all-natural chicken or vegetable broth (4 cups)
  • One 15-ounce can fire roasted petite diced tomatoes (or tomato sauce), pureed as desired
  • One 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • Ten 6-inch corn tortillas, sliced in half and then sliced into ¼-inch-wide strips
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • Optional toppings: Shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack or Mexican blend cheese, diced avocado, diced roasted chicken, chopped fresh cilantro, reduced-fat sour cream, lime wedges
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large Dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, and chili powder and cook an additional 1 minute.
  2. Stir in the broth, tomatoes, black beans, and corn. Cover, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the flavors meld, about 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400°F. Place the corn tortilla strips in a large bowl and toss with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil until well coated. Place on a baking sheet and cook until golden and crispy, stirring halfway through to ensure even cooking, 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. To add more body to the soup, whisk together the cornstarch and water in a small bowl (this is called a slurry). Bring the soup back up to a boil, stir in the slurry, and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens slightly, about 3 minutes.
  5. Serve in individual bowls, top with the tortilla chips and the optional toppings as desired.
Each recipe has 10% vitamin A, 10% vitamin C, and 10% iron.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: (1 generous cup), Calories: 210, Fat: 6g, Saturated fat: 0g, Carbohydrates: 35g, Sodium: 630mg, Fiber: 6g, Protein: 7g

South-of-the-Border Tortilla Soup via #soup #Mexican #tortillasoup

 Which photo do you like better? My soup on the left is served on a flow blue plate that I bought at a local antique shop. The picture on the right is a bowl that was handed down from my great grandmother, Katie London. (And yes, she emigrated to the U.S. from the U.K.)

And the winner is???!!

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