Happy hour is a great time to mingle with friends, sip tasty cocktails and unwind after a long day at work. But if brews and greasy fried foods don’t appease your palate, one Rochester woman has a healthier option for you.

Denise Stegall, a local health coach, designed a Healthy Happy Hour for plant-based foodies. She hosts this event at Cambria four times a year and prepares a variety of plant-based recipes for her guests to sample. At her most recent Healthy Happy Hour, she served a roasted garlic and artichoke tart that included grilled zucchini and yellow squash. She also developed a healthy French fry recipe that included asparagus tucked inside wonton wrappers with a mango sriracha sauce. She also created Spanakopita, pizza with arugula, figs and caramelized onions and a sweet and tangy seven layer dip with pinto beans, guacamole and a mango and pineapple salsa.

Stegall says she has been feeding people since college. She studied hotel and restaurant management at Penn State, and in that time, she was tasked with feeding three thousand people on a budget as well as learning about gourmet cooking. Since then, Stegall has taken several cooking courses including a seven-month online cooking class with Rouxbe and Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute in Paris.

"When I plan meals I try to follow the 80/20 rule, meaning the menu is 80 percent vegetarian and 20 percent meat. I typically make meat dishes with chicken, fish or shellfish." Most of her recipes have an Italian flair. "I am originally from New York, and I love Italian food, especially pasta. But pasta dishes aren’t good for the waistline; therefore I try to incorporate Italian seasonings in my healthier recipes. I cook with a lot of fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, basil, oregano, marjoram, thyme, garlic and rosemary. I also use high quality extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The good stuff [balsamic] is so thick and sweet it’s almost like syrup," she says.

Stegall’s program, Six Weeks to a Better You, provides you with recipes loaded with vegetables. Each month, she pre-plans a menu for you, incorporating a variety of plant-based, delicious recipes. She loves digging through recipe books and has a small library of cookbooks in her home. She says she is probably one of the few who reads a cookbook from cover to cover.

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Asparagus Fries

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup mango chunks
  • 1 cup soft tofu
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1/4  teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley or oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic
  • 3 tablespoons sriracha
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • Olive oil
  • Wonton wrappers

Preparation

  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a food processor add mango, tofu, salt, garlic, sriracha and lime. Blend until combined and has the consistency of cream cheese.
  3. Brush asparagus with olive oil. Season with salt, pepper and parsley.
  4. Bake approximately 7 minutes then remove and set aside.
  5. Place 16 wonton wrappers in a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Thinly spread sauce on the wontons.
  6. Turn oven down to 350 degrees.
  7. Wrap 2 to 3 pieces of asparagus in each wonton. Bake in oven for 5 to 7 minutes.
  8. Serve when cool to the touch. Serves 4-6.

Roasted Garlic and Artichoke Tart

Ingredients

  • 1-2 heads of garlic
  • 1 can artichokes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 zucchini, sliced 1/3 inch thick
  • 1 yellow squash, sliced 1/3 inch thick
  • Phyllo dough

Preparation

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut tops off of the garlic. Wrap in aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes.
  3. Slice the zucchini and squash, season with salt and pepper.
  4. Spray grill pan with cooking spray and grill the zucchini and squash in batches. Set aside.
  5. Lower oven temp according to directions on phyllo dough package.
  6. Place phyllo dough on 2 lined trays and bake.
  7. Remove garlic from aluminum and squeeze to release the garlic

from the skin.

  • In a food processor, add artichoke, garlic, oil, rosemary, salt and pepper and blend until it makes a paste.
  • Evenly spread artichoke paste onto both tarts. Top with zucchini and squash, then season with salt and pepper.
  • Place back in oven for 4 minutes to heat through.
  • Remove and serve. Makes 2 tarts.