Joe Hughes
Joe Hughes, known by most as the Village Baker, is an expert in homestyle cooking techniques, with a primary interest in baking. He runs the very popular website,, which provides the latest homestyle cooking news, techniques, tricks, and recipes. He can be reached at

This is a guest post by Joe from Village Bakery

My ideal foods are normally healthy – greens, salads, lots of baked chicken – you get the idea. And, my Saturday morning often consists of runs to the farmer’s market to pick up locally-grown goodies.
Kids don’t seem to like my zest for good-for-you foods.
I’ve learned how to cook veggies kids will eat, but they always want the store bought foods filled with sugars and preservatives. I’m going to discuss 5 foods (and trust me, there are plenty of others) that you can make somewhat healthy at-home.

1. Zucchini Pasta

I grew up in a household that ran on pasta. We ate everything from spaghetti to ziti and anything you can think of as long as pasta was included. But, carbs aren’t the best thing to overload kids with all of the time.
A compromise that I’ve recently learned to love is making zucchini pasta.
Zucchini pasta doesn’t taste 100% the same, but it’s also healthier and has far fewer calories, which is a major health bonus.
What You’ll Need
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 2 zucchini
  • 1 tbsp. Olive oil
Peel your zucchini and cut lengthwise. Use your vegetable peeler to make the cuts and stop when you reach the seeds. Continue until the zucchini is peeled thoroughly, and cut the strips into thin, spaghetti-like strips.
In a skillet, heat the olive oil on medium heat and stir the zucchini into the mix. After a minute or two, add in your water and cook until soft (5 – 8 minutes). Season, add spaghetti sauce if you like, and serve.

2. Turkey Meatballs

My family is from Italy, so we love our Italian food. Meatballs are another great treat, but the traditional ground beef meatballs have a higher calorie count than their turkey counterparts.
And there’s also the benefit of homemade meatballs being tons healthier than store-bought.
FatSecret says turkey meatballs have 42 calories, while beef meatballs have 57 calories – a big difference.
What You’ll Need
  • 1/2 pound ground turkey
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup onion
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • Salt
  • Pepper
You’ll want to finely chop the onions and chop the parsley up, too. What you’ll do next is place all ingredients into a bowl and mix thoroughly. Form little meatballs and place on a lightly oiled nonstick pan. Cook for 5 – 6 minutes at 350 degrees.
Check the meatballs and cook until the outside is nicely browned.

3. Homemade Bread

I’m a fan of bread (who isn’t?). While not the best to eat day and night, there are times when bread hits the spot. I recommend investing in breadmakers if you’ll make bread often because it takes a toll on the arms, and cooking it just right is half luck and half science.
Let’s get started:
What You’ll Need
  • 8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. yeast
  • 2 tbsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. butter
Your butter needs to be melted, so place it into the microwave for a few seconds. Set the butter aside for now. Now, you’ll want to mix all of the dry ingredients into a bowl, add in 2 cups of water and the honey.
Mix very well for a minute or two, gradually adding in the additional water.
Knead for 8 – 10 minutes by hand (a mixer helps a lot here), cover and then let rise for an hour.
Place your palm in the middle of the dough to make a crease, break into two loaves, and knead and shape the dough until you have two loaf shapes. You’ll need to tuck the ends thoroughly.
Grease a bread pan, place the dough in it, cover, and allow to rise again. Bake at 375F for 20 – 25 minutes, remove, and brush with the butter before baking for an additional 10 minutes or until done.
This isn’t coconut ice cream on bread, but it’s equally as delicious.

4. Homemade Nutella

Nutella is sinfully delicious, but it has a place on everyone’s must-try list. This delicious chocolate hazelnut spread can be made right in your own home, and it’s a lot of fun for kids to help, too. If you’re clamoring with excitement right now, so am I – I love nutella.
What You’ll Need
  • 1 cup of hazelnuts
  • 16 ounces chopped milk chocolate
  • 3 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
You’ll need to set your oven to 350F, spread the hazelnuts across a baking sheet and roast them for 10 – 12 minutes or until lightly browned. The skin should be blistered, so place in a towel and rub until the exterior of the skin comes off.
Allow to cool and melt chocolate in the microwave or on the stovetop.
Grind the hazelnuts in a food processor until you have a paste consistency. Place all ingredients except for the chocolate into the processor. Process some more until the mixture is smooth before adding chocolate and blending well.

Place in a jar, and eat the night away.

5. Salad Dressings

I eat bunches of kale, tomatoes, cheese and whatever else I feel like putting into a healthy salad. A real treat for my tastebuds, salads are a great, healthy food to eat in most cases. The biggest threat to my salad is the dressing.
I love the store-bought dressings, but they’re filled with so many preservatives that I question what I’m really eating.
What You’ll Need
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Since there is no cooking involved, this is super simple: add all ingredients into a jar and mix together. Add in pepper and salt to taste. Boom, you’re done. This is a classic vinaigrette, but it’s healthy and not filled with a bunch of preservatives.


So, what foods are you starting to cook at-home that you used to buy in the store?

Joe Hughes
Joe Hughes, known by most as the Village Baker, is an expert in homestyle cooking techniques, with a primary interest in baking. He runs the very popular website,, which provides the latest homestyle cooking news, techniques, tricks, and recipes. He can be reached at