January Menu Planning with 2011 Readers’ Healthy Favorites

Until a couple hours ago, I hadn’t given much thought to putting together a “Best of 2011” post. To be honest, I had sort-of-kind-of checked out of blogging for the week. And for the first time in a few years, I didn’t even feel guilty. We all need a little break sometimes, right? (Don’t fret – I’ve already got a backlog of healthy new recipes to jumpstart your healthy living come January 2nd!)

But then I saw what everyone else is doing and I wanted in. The itch to write returned, and I felt a sudden spike in curiosity about my “most popular” posts from this jam-packed year. I know I’m not the only one dreaming of vegetables while making all the cookies stuffed in my freezer disappear and contemplating NYE cocktails (tasks that need to be done, naturally). So I figured a “Best of 2011” roundup could get us both on track to have a fresh, healthy menu plan ready to go for the next couple of weeks. Got it? Good.

But there was a little problem. Just how does one go about qualifying the most popular posts? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I presume most bloggers are looking at pageviews. I didn’t feel comfortable with this, for a couple reasons: My most-viewed pages this year were all of the sub-pages in my recipe index, and those which are found by such popular google searches as grilled brussels sprouts, coconut tofu, and tilapia tacos (to highlight a few older posts which still get plenty of attention.) In fact, it’s not till we hit number 24 of my all-time highest pageviews that we reach a recipe created and published this year: Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Red Velvet Cupcakes. And if I picked the top 12 from that point forward, we’d be eating sweets just about every single night. Think Squeaky Clean Fudge Brownies, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Chocolate Cupcakes and The Best-Ever Peanut Butter Butterscotch Fudgy Layered Rice Krispie treats (gluten-and-sugar-FULL, thankyouverymuch.)

As fun as that sounds, you and I both know we need to take this once-a-year sweet overload and nip it in the bud. With that in mind, I am choosing my top 12 posts of 2011 based on comments (12, because 12 is better than 10). That is, the ones YOU GUYS were most excited about and most responsive to.  Some would argue that comments don’t directly correlate with popularity as there are other factors that dictate whether or not people will comment. But I’d argue it’s no worse than pageviews, which are often skewed by pretty pictures which land on Tastespotting or Foodgawker (which is always a nice treat – but not necessarily the favorite recipes!) Furthermore, I disqualified any post which contained a giveaway since those automatically get more comments than normal 😉

So, without further adieu, I bring you YOUR most loved Cara’s Cravings recipes from 2011. I hope you see some of your favorites – if not, be sure to leave more comments in 2012!

Shrimp, Black Bean and Pineapple Foil Packets
Tip: if your grill is covered in snow, roast the packets in the oven

Shrimp Quesadilla Fettucine
My favorite thing about this recipe is how customizable it is. Can’t have dairy? Sub coconut milk for yogurt. If you’re a vegan, try tofu and black beans instead of shrimp.

Tandoori Tacos
By far one of our favorite combinations this year. So glad you agreed!

  Tropical Butternut Squash Salad
This may be a summer-inspired dish, but it’s made with winter squash. Don’t delay!

Skillet Glazed Corn with Lime, Ginger and Coconut
This would be a delicious way to prepare frozen corn kernels as well, if corn on the cob isn’t available (uh, I haven’t seen any lately.)

Blueberry Coffee Cake
White beans in coffee cake? It turns out you guys are into the kooky crazy stuff just like me! So glad we share that.

Massaged Kale and Soba Salad with Salmon and Edamame
My key for enjoying pasta in moderation is to bulk it up with tons of veggies and protein. This might be my very best example.


Roasted Cauliflower and Pear Puree
A heck of a lot more interesting than mashed potatoes, that’s why they’re right up my alley, and yours too, apparently!

Vegan, High Protein No-Bake Cookies
I would never suggest eliminating cookies cold turkey when you embark on a healthier eating plan next week – instead, just get creative with better cookies like these!

Mint-Cacao Cookie Truffles
This was my big attempt at keeping my blog alive in a sea of sweet holiday treats. I’m glad it worked! (And I’m glad I still have some of these babies in the freezer because they’re oh-so-good.)

Pear and Blue Cheese Pizza with Arugula and Hazelnuts
Pears (ha!) especially well with my chickpea flour crust!

Mocha Coconut FraPROccino

I’m SO glad this post made the cut, as it was my very first video blog. I had a lot of fun making it and definitely plan on more in 2012.

I may have one more special roundup up my sleeve, but I hope that this leaves you a little more enthusiastic and confident about “cleaning up” next week!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

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14 Responses to “January Menu Planning with 2011 Readers’ Healthy Favorites”

  1. 1

    Nicole, RD — December 29, 2011 @ 4:41 pm Reply

    I'm so glad you posted that fettucine recipe again! I NEED to make that!

  2. 2

    Elizabeth — December 29, 2011 @ 10:44 pm Reply

    I really want that massaged kale and soba salad right now. Nice roundup!

  3. 3

    Jennifurla — December 30, 2011 @ 1:09 am Reply

    I love all of your invetive recipes.

  4. 4

    shulie madnick — December 30, 2011 @ 1:32 am Reply

    Cara, Love those tandoori tacos. Delicious. I wish you th ebest in 2012 and banking on meeting you in the upcoming year!

  5. 5

    Joanne — December 30, 2011 @ 1:40 am Reply

    I might be MORE excited about healthy eating after reading this and seeing these.  As if that were possible.

  6. 6

    DHCooks — December 30, 2011 @ 1:41 am Reply

    I love that a lot of the fans are not desserts. I have drooled over all these this year! And you know you aren't alone dreaming of veggies!

  7. 7

    Kate — December 30, 2011 @ 12:04 pm Reply

    I'm far worse than you are at keeping up with blogging as the year ends!

  8. 8

    Carol — December 30, 2011 @ 5:22 pm Reply

    Great round up!  Happy New Year!xo,carol

  9. 9

    beantownbaker — December 30, 2011 @ 11:59 pm Reply

    Great recap of the year! You sure made some tasty meals.

  10. 10

    Kerstin — December 31, 2011 @ 3:42 am Reply

    Such a lovely round up!  I still need to make one of your FraPROccinos 🙂  And yes, more videos please!

  11. 11

    Natalie — December 31, 2011 @ 8:04 pm Reply

    I'm glad you did it according to comments and that you put so much thought into it. Honestly I never thought about it until our Twitter convo. 🙂 I think I'm going to go back and compare what my list would look like if I'd used comments instead! Great round up!!

  12. 12

    Natalie — December 31, 2011 @ 8:10 pm Reply

    OK, I checked. My list varied some, but I still had half of the recipes that were in my pageview-based list. Interesting!

  13. 13

    shannon — January 1, 2012 @ 4:35 pm Reply

     I think all of these are on my to-make list 🙂  Of course it's too long, but I will get to them!!  Perhaps your chickpea flour crust today as pizza was on the agenda with some kale-basil-avocado pesto made last night!  Happy New Year!  🙂

  14. 14

    Emily @ A Cambridge Story — January 2, 2012 @ 3:36 am Reply

    Love all the shrimp in these recipes! Happy New Year!

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