Tag Archives: lowsodium

Creamy Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with White Beans

There is nothing like warm soup on a chilly day.  Butternut squash is one of my favorite vegetables.  I know it might be intimidating to some with that thick hard outer layer but trust me, it’s super easy to make and can be used in everything from salads to rice and pasta dishes and of course, soup!  I had a craving for some creamy butternut squash soup but also wanted to add in some protein, so I chose some cannellini beans.  Oh and my secret ingredient :::drumroll:: pumpkin pie spice!  The flavors work so well with this soup!!  But you can totally just use nutmeg or a combo I suggest below.  My 4 year old loves any type of beans so I knew this would be a hit with him! I was thrilled to see watch him take the first, then second, then third spoon of this soup…until he finished it all! Now this recipe uses roasted butternut squash and although you will find many recipes out there suggesting you fully peel the squash and cut the flesh into cubes, it isn’t necessery for this soup.  Here is the full recipe! Enjoy!


1 (~3 pound) butternut squash
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped                                                                                                                                              1 bay leaf
5 cups low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or use 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 t ginger and 1/4 t nutmeg)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste                                                                                         15 oz container of no-salt-added cannellini beans, rinsed well and drained                                                                                      Plain Greek yogurt for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, but if it’s too long to cut that way, simply cut it in 4 quarters.
  3. Place the squash flesh-side up on the baking sheet and either spray with olive oil cooking spray or drizzle a little olive oil on each just to coat them.
  4. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until fork tender.  Set aside and allow to cool.
  5. Peel the skin off and then cut flesh into small chunks and places in a bowl.  Set aside.
  6. Now, heat 1 tablespoon unsalted butter in a dutch oven over medium heat and when bubbly, add the onions and garlic.  Allow to brown but not burn! about 6-8 minutes.
  7. Add the bay leaf and sautee about 1-2 minutes.
  8. Now pour in the broth and squash.
  9. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 30 minutes.
  10. Pour in the beans and continue to heat an additional 15 minutes.  Sprinkle in pumpkin pie spice.
  11. Using a ladle, scoop out some of the soup into a blender and blend on high speed and work in batches until entire soup is rich and creamy.
  12. Garnish with a bit of yogurt or just have it on its own!
  13. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

Like many of us, I’m a very busy mommy.  Even too busy to eat a sensible meal so end up carrying healthy snacks with me through the day.  My typical morning breakfast is oatmeal or overnight oats but wanted my oatmeal in a to-go version! So I created these blueberry oatmeal muffins.  Think just about everything you put in oatmeal, but wrapped up in a little muffin.  These are a lifesaver for busy mornings when you have no time to even shove food into your mouth from a plate or bowl!  Not overly sweet, but has hint of brown sugar.  The primary sweetness comes from luscious blueberries and even though they are no longer in season, they still add a ton of flavor to these muffins!  I do recommend using fresh vs frozen for these, just because the fresh burst open when you bit into these muffins but frozen also works!

I used plain whole milk yogurt in these and applesauce which help to keep these babies moist and flavorful!  Not to mention the extra nutrients you get from these simple ingredients such as Vitamin C and protein.  Make these gluten-free by using gluten-free all purpose flour to replace the whole wheat and regular ap flour.  Enjoy!


1 1/4 cup quick cooking oats

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 cup low fat or whole milk yogurt

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Place muffin liners in a muffin tin and spray lightly with cooking spray. Set aside.
  3. Combine oats, flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine yogurt, vanilla, egg and applesauce.
  5. Add liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients, mix until moist.  Do not overmix!
  6. Fold in blueberries.
  7. Bake for 18-20 minutes.
  8. Feel free to spread a little unsalted butter on these muffins without the guilt!

No Bake Granola Bars with Cranberries, Almonds & Chocolate

I love granola bars.  They are an essential item in my kitchen and truth be told, I used to spend a lot of $ on buying packaged bars.  I’ve experimented with many variations of granola bars and this is my favorite no-bake recipe!  These keep really well in the freezer and actually taste even more satisfying frozen (they do not freeze rock solid, similar to my peanut butter energy ball recipe!).  My boys loves these but I take out the mix-ins for my 18 month old.  All heart-healthy, natural ingredients: Flaxseed, oats, applesauce, honey and nut butter.  Once you make the base of the recipe, the mix-ins are endless.  Try unsweetened coconut, raisins, chopped walnuts, etc.  I also have a version that you can bake and includes egg, so if you prefer no nuts (or even for allergy reasons), check that recipe out.  It’s on my instagram page @cookingfortots but I’ll post on my blog later so stay tuned!


2 1/2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup finely ground flaxseed

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup natural almond or peanut butter (if you have your nut butter in the fridge, microwave it for about 15 seconds before using it here)

1/3 cup honey

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

Mix-ins: 1/3 cup chocolate chips, 1/3 cup slivered almonds, 1/2 cup dried cranberries, 1/2 cup dried


  1. Combine applesauce, vanilla, honey and nut butter in a mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine flaxseed, oats, salt and cinnamon.
  3. Add the honey mixture to the oats and stir well! Coating all of the oats.
  4. Now fold in your mix-ins.
  5. Line a baking dish with parchment paper and pour in the mixture.
  6. Important! Press firmly down on the mixture to create a long rectangular shape about 1/2″ thick.
  7. Place in the freezer for quicker binding or the fridge for about 2 hours.
  8. Note: If in the fridge, some pieces may fall off as these do not bind super well but I do recommend freezing them as they hold together even better.

Risotto with Roasted Butternut Squash and Cranberries

When was the last time you made risotto?  If you’re anything like how I was a few years ago, before making my first risotto dish, you may be totally intimidated.  Well I’m here to encourage you to give it a try! Risotto is not only extremely versatile and delicious, but it’s incredibly easy to prepare.  You may have heard that you need to stand by the risotto and constantly stir-well not exactly.  As you add in the broth or water, give it a stir and allow the liquid to get absorbed before adding the next cup and so on, until you use up all of the liquid.

Customize risotto to include your favorite variety of veggies and/or dried fruits and seasonings!  However, you must try my flavor combo here.  This butternut squash and cranberry risotto dish is hands down my absolute favorite.  It’s creamy, fragrant, satisfying, comforting and super tasty! My mouth is watering as I type just thinking about how amazing this dish was.  The bright and fresh colors of butternut squash and dried cranberries make this a perfect fall dish and holiday side dish.  Totally vegetarian! Give this a try and see just how incredibly easy it is to prepare risotto.  I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!


1 1/2 cups arborio rice

5 1/2-6 cups low sodium vegetable brother

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 small onion, chopped

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed and cut into 3/4-inch cubes

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons chopped parsley


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place the squash on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and toss it with about 2 teaspoons of olive oil.
  3. Roast for 25-30 minutes, tossing once, until fork tender. Set aside.
  4. In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the onion on medium-low heat 8-10 minutes, until the onions are translucent but not browned.
  5. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter and onion mixture.
  6. Add 1 cup of broth.  Stir, and simmer until the stock is absorbed, 5-7 minutes. Continue to add the stock, 1 cup at a time, stirring every few minutes.
  7. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry and liquid is no longer visible, then add more broth.
  8. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, which should take about 30 minutes total.
  9. Off the heat, add the roasted squash cubes, Parmesan cheese, dried cranberries.
  10. Mix well and serve.
  11. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley.

3-Ingredient Creamy Banana Mango “ice cream”

Have you ever tried blending frozen bananas?  Well if not, it’s about time you did.  I promise, once you try this frozen treat, you be hooked!  Ok it’s not exactly ice cream since no milk and cream are involved but it sure has the consistency of a creamy ice cream! And even more refreshing! I add whole milk yogurt to my frozen bananas and mangos along with a dash of vanilla extract and came up with this masterpiece… Yes I’ll toot my own horn on this one 😉 My kids love this treat and I feel good about giving them fresh frozen fruits with no added sugar versus anything pre-packaged.  Oh and by the way, the cost of creating these pops is way less than anything you would buy in a package! Healthy + Cost efficient = winner in my book of recipes.


1 1/2 banana, sliced and frozen (place in freezer overnight for best consistency)

1 cup frozen mango chunks

1/4 cup whole milk Greek yogurt (or lowfat)

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional but I found this really enhanced the flavor!)


  1. Place frozen bananas and mango in a good blender and increase speed slowly from low to high.  Blend about 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add in the yogurt and vanilla if using.
  3. Blend until consistency is nice and creamy.
  4. Now pour the mixture into Popsicle molds and freeze OR simply pour into a freezer safe bowl with lid and scoop out when you want a treat!
  5. Be sure to let the mixture freeze for another 2 hours, especially if you want a harder texture. Enjoy!!