I love banana bread, but the full fat version isn’t possible for an everyday breakfast.  So I threw together this recipe.  I like it — it’s not too sticky and it has a big banana flavor.  But yeah, it is low-fat so it is a bit spongy. 

  • 1 1/2 cup of flour
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 cup of applesauce
  • 2 cups of mashed bananas
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup of uncooked oats
  • 1/3 cup of Greek yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp of vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350.  Now mix everything together in a bowl and pour into a loaf pan.  Bake for 55 minutes or until the toothpick inserted in the middle is clean.

Low fat Banana Oatmeal Bread  Low fat Banana Oatmeal Bread  Low fat Banana Oatmeal Bread

It works for me and my breakfasts.  Plus, I add a little strawberry jam or cashew butter and it makes it taste much better!

Since we’re coming up on Super Bowl Sunday, I thought I’d try to make some “healthy” mozzarella sticks.  If you want the brown color that you get from fried mozzarella sticks, I’d either toast the panko breadcrumbs (no oil) or put 1/4 cup of panko and 1/4 cup of regular breadcrumbs.  You might want to try pretzels (but since I’m not a salt fan, I’d use the salt-free ones)…that might work.

This makes about 9 mozzarella sticks.

  • 1/2 cup of panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 1/2 tsp of Italian seasoning
  • 1/8 tsp of Kosher salt 
  • 1 egg

Cut the mozzarella into sticks.  I bought a big block of mozzarella and cut them into 1 1/2 inch long logs.  Then I put the logs in the freezer for an hour.

Oven fried Mozzarella Sticks

Now preheat the oven to 450.  In a bowl, mix the egg well. 

Oven fried Mozzarella Stick Egg Mixture

In a separate bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, Italian seasoning, and salt.

Oven fried Mozzarella Stick Mixture

Take the frozen mozzarella and dip into the egg mixture.  Now dip in the breadcrumb mixture, but make sure you press down hard so it sticks.  Put the cheese stick back in the egg mix and again in the bread crumbs. 

Oven fried Mozzarella Sticks  Oven fried Mozzarella Sticks

Put on an aluminum foil lined pan.  Bake for 8-12 minutes, but make sure to watch at the 8 minute mark so the cheese doesn’t ooze too much!  They aren’t quite as crispy as the fried versions, but they were pretty good.  I dipped mine in pizza sauce.  

Oven fried Mozzarella Sticks

Variety Deli opened up several months ago, but I never went…until recently.  Here are photos of their menu. 

Breakfast menu:

Variety Deli Breakfast Menu  Variety Deli Breakfast Menu

Lunch and Dinner menu:  

Variety Deli Menu  Variety Deli Menu  Variety Deli Menu  Variety Deli Menu  Variety Deli Menu  Variety Deli Menu 

  • Food: I ordered the New Yorker sandwich with pastrami, Swiss cheese, Russian dressing, and coleslaw on perfectly toasted rye.  While I know that may sound crazy, I’ve found a lot of restaurants don’t let the bread actually toast until it’s light brown.  Instead, they figure if it’s gone through the toaster it’s “toasted.” 

Variety Deli New Yorker Sandwich

  • Atmosphere: The interior is fun with red walls and white tables and chairs.  In the back of the deli, there’s mirrors so the place seem a bit bigger than reality. 
  • Service: The woman behind the counter was very nice and was fast when she was making my sandwich. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall: For a quick sandwich, it’s a good spot. 


  • Hours: 7 AM-9 PM Mon-Thurs; 7 AM-10:30 PM Fri-Sat; 12 noon-7 PM Sun
  • Address: 2120 18th Street NW; Washington, DC 20009
  • Ph: 202-234-3354

I love french fries.  They’re right up there with chocolate for me.  Fries?  Yes please!  But they’re so not healthy…

So here’s my attempt to make them a little healthier:

  • 2 Russet potatoes, cleaned and cut into wedges (slice in half long way, then half the half again, then those in half again)
  • 2 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary coarsely chopped
  • 1 /2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp minced onions
  • 2 TBSP Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup of panko bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 400.  BTW, make sure to clean those potatoes — check out the before and after photo! 

Homemade Oven Fried Potato Wedges  Homemade Oven Fried Potato Wedges

Then coat the potato wedges very well in the vegetable oil.  Mix the other ingredients (rosemary, garlic powder, onions, Parmesan cheese, and bread crumbs) in a separate bowl.  Now put the potato wedges (making sure they’re not touching) on aluminum foil on a baking sheet (or I used my cast iron skillet). 

Homemade Oven Fried Potato Wedges  Homemade Potato Wedges

Bake for 20 minutes and then flip.  Then bake for another 20 minutes or until they’re crispy.

Homemade Oven Fried Potato Wedges  Homemade Oven Fried Potato Wedges


Next to Java Green (the best vegan place), Cafe Chopsticks opened.  Well, actually the restaurant opened in July 2008 and after giving them a month to sort out any “bugs,” I thought it was about time I tried the place out.  BTW, here’s their menu:


  • Food:I ordered the veggie ramen which at first, was delicious.  I’ll talk about my initial thoughts on the food first, then go into the after-thoughts.  The broth wasn’t too salty and had a little heat.  The ramen noodles were cooked perfectly.  The problems with the vegetable ramen?  There weren’t a lot of veggies — a couple of bean sprouts, spinach, and tiny shreds of what appeared to be carrots, zucchini, and green onions.  I slurped my way through the bowl and while I was incredibly full, I also felt there was a weird after-taste.  Is there MSG in their soup?  Does anyone know?  And while I was there, I saw someone’s bento box.  It was huge!  Think the size of a cafeteria tray — wow, a lot of food I think!

Cafe Chopsticks Vegetable Ramen Soup  Cafe Chopsticks Vegetable Ramen Soup

  • Service: When you walk in, you can either look at their board or at takeout menus.  Then you order and pay at the counter.  They give you a number and you wait until it’s called.
  • Atmosphere:The interior is quite spacious and comfortable — a bit Zen-like.  Unlike some restaurants, they don’t cram too many tables and chairs.  Plus, they use eco-friend containers and utensils, recycled napkins, etc.  All good stuff!
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall:I really liked the veggie ramen, but would love it even more if they had more veggies in there.  Also, I’d love to know if they add MSG to their soup.  I think for now, I’ll stick to Java Green’s “chicken” ramen.  But I’ll go back to try their very reasonably priced sushi and a bento box.  BTW, they do offer delivery, but only within a 3 block radius, a $70 minimum order, 5% delivery charge, and 24-hour notice. 


  • Hours: Monday-Friday 10:30 AM-9 PM
  • Address: 1020 19th Street NW; Washington DC  20036
  • Ph: 202-429-1705

Yes, I know everyone loves tuna noodle casserole.  I mean, what’s not to love?  But what I didn’t want to do is make it using canned condensed soup. 

What might be surprising for some is that it’s so incredibly easy and simple.  Why use canned soup?  This is a two dish recipe.

  • 2 cups of egg noogle pasta (I use eggless noodles)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup of chopped onions, sauteed
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup of flour
  • 2 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 1 can of tuna, drained
  • 1 TBSP dijion mustard
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan reggiano
  • 1 cup peas (I love peas so I increased this one but you can keep it 50/50)
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 1 can of mushrooms, drained (opt)
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions: Use a sauce pan to boil water.  Once the water boils, cook the pasta untilal dente.  Drain the pasta when done (do not rinse). 

Grab a 8×8 pan and lightly coat with non-stick spray.  Put the drained pasta in the pan. 

Lightly coat the pan with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and add onions.  Saute lightly until the onions are translucent and soften.  Move the onions into the 8×8 pan. 

Quickly clean the sauce pan.  Now use the sauce pan to make the roux.  Melt the butter, then add milk and flour.  Keep stirring and do not stop until the mix is thick. 

Seriously from Scratch Healthy Tuna Noodle Casserole  Seriously from Scratch Healthy Tuna Noodle Casserole

Add the cheese and mustard until the cheese is melted.  Then transfer to 8×8 pan.   Now add the vegetables — peas, corn, mushrooms, whatever.  Mix everything together really well.   Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Seriously from Scratch Healthy Tuna Noodle Casserole

Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes.  Unless you like crunchy noodles, I suggest pausing the baking to mix the ingredients together.  If you want to make it less healthy, add the fried onions or more cheese to the top. 

Seriously from Scratch Healthy Tuna Noodle Casserole

This provides 3-4 servings.  Doesn’t it look delicious?  It was…

Now that I’ve explained what “college student” recipes means, here’s the first one.  And one of my favorite.

It takes only a few minutes, but anyone can make this.

  • 1 cup of dry couscous
  • 1 cup of chicken broth (or plain tap water works)
  • 2 cups of frozen spinach (I love spinach but you can change this amount to whatever)
  • 1 cup of canned black beans, drained (optional but good if you want to add protein)
  • Salt & Pepper

Make your couscous according to the package directions.  Usually, the instructions are to boil 1 cup of water.  Then add your 1 cup of dry couscous.  Remove from heat and cover.  Let stand for 5 minutes.  You can do this in the microwave too. 

Now put your frozen spinach in the microwave and heat until hot (about 5 minutes). 

OPT: Add the black beans and heat until hot (about 3 minutes).

By the time your spinach and beans are hot, your couscous is probably done as well.  Fluff the couscous with a fork.  Put the couscous into the same spinach and bean bowl.  Mix and add salt and pepper to taste.  I also like to add cayenne pepper sometimes to add a little heat.

Spinach Couscous

Enjoy your healthy dinner.  Plus, it’ll be perfect for lunch either hot or cold the next day.  If you’re going to re-heat, add a little water beforehand.

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