Schoon searches online for healthy, low calorie recipes

Jerilyn VanDeWoestyne
Lindsay Schoon of Geneseo uses her laptop to find healthy recipes to make in her kitchen.

Lindsay Schoon of Geneseo enjoys the time she spends in the kitchen cooking and baking — and cooking as healthy as possible is very important to her.

“I enjoy cooking and searching for the kind of recipes I want to use,” she said. “I like to research recipes and make them as healthy as possible.”

Lindsay remembers, as a child helping her mother, Renada Schoon of Geneseo, in the kitchen baking things like cookies and breads.

“Everyone in my family likes to bake quick breads like zucchini and banana bread,” she said. “It’s something we do a lot of.”

To keep the quick bread recipes as healthy as possible, Lindsay said she might use a little extra mashed banana or other fruit in the place of some of the oil and sugar in a recipe.

“That’s a trick I learned from my mother,” Lindsay said. “I like to find a recipe that is already pretty healthy, low in sugar and oil, and then maybe tweak it a little bit to kind of make it my own. Those are the kind of recipes I look for.”

Lindsay said her boyfriend’s favorite quick bread is probably zucchini bread but her personal favorite is a chocolate banana bread she makes. “It is really moist and tastes almost like a cake but it’s healthier,” she said.  “Bread is probably one of my favorite things to make.”

Lindsay is a 2007 graduate of Bradley University, Peoria. She graduated with a degree in journalism and also took a lot of art classes. She is currently a graphic designer at the Geneseo Republic.

Admitting that she has a fairly busy schedule, Lindsay said she loves photography and takes portrait and wedding photographs.

Music is also a big part of her life. She currently gives flute lessons and said she has played the flute since the age of 10. She is a member of Maple City Band and enjoys her time with that group.

“My life is pretty busy but I feel really lucky because I get to participate in my three passions of music, art and photography, on an almost daily basis,” she said.

As a college student, Lindsay said she began cooking and making meals for herself when she moved into her first apartment. “I was a vegetarian at that time, and I tried to do vegetarian meals,” she laughs. “I really wasn’t very good at it though. I didn’t know what spices to use and what foods and spices went together.”

She said she has gotten a lot better and more educated about certain spices. “I gradually learned what goes together and what tastes go together,” she said.

One of her favorite meals, and a favorite of her boyfriend, is Boca chicken parmesan for two, a recipe that Lindsay pretty much put together herself.

“It’s something that I just sort of came up with and it is now one of our favorite meals,” she said, adding the recipe is very easy to prepare and also very tasty. “You start with a soy chicken pattie and put it over wheat pasta and layer it with marinara sauce and cheese. It is so easy.”

Lindsay said the chicken parmesan is really a meal in itself, she would probably serve it with a side salad for a complete meal. “I also like to do a baked macaroni and cheese that is surprisingly low in calories,” she said.

The most important thing to Lindsay, when cooking or baking, is that any recipe she uses be low in fat and sugar.

She gets a lot of her recipes online and said when looking for recipes she usually starts by simply Googling in “low calorie recipes.” “Sometimes recipes can be really low in fat, but then  much higher in sugar content,” she said. “Lower calories is what I’m looking for in a recipe.”

Lindsay said she has learned about the relationship between fats, calories and carbohydrates.

“My mom has always been health conscious, so I guess it’s always been a part of my life,” she said.

Although she uses a cookbook occasionally, Lindsay said she gets most of her recipes from the Internet. “I go online for recipes a lot,” she said, adding one of her favorite Web sites is

“Then I go through the recipes and see if there is anything that matches what I want. I’m getting a lot better at getting good recipes online.”

Lindsay said she has acquired some favorite recipes but she tries not to make the same thing twice. “I’m definitely not any kind of master chef,” she laughs. “I’m terrible at grilling, and I’ve never even cooked a pork chop.”  She adds, however, her sister, Sara, is a great griller.

She said she does, however, like to experiment in the kitchen. “Sometimes it turns out — sometimes it doesn’t.”

Keeping her pantry well stocked can be a challenge for Lindsay. “With usually cooking for one or two, I often can’t use up fresh produce before it spoils, so I keep the staples on hand in the pantry and then make a stop at the grocery store for fresh produce,” she said. “I especially like cooking with squash because they keep a lot better than some produce, and I usually look for produce that will last a little longer and keep a lot better.”

Lindsay likes to do things like zucchini sauté or baked squash. “Last week, I did butternut squash fries. They were good but I didn’t cook them quite long enough,” she said. “I know what to do different now, though, so the next time they will be better.”

For the zucchini sauté, Lindsay starts by putting a little olive oil in a wok. “I really like to use a wok for the sauté because, with the high sides on it, the food doesn’t splatter,” she said, adding she sautés the zucchini in the olive oil and keeps a container of low sodium chicken broth right by the stove so she can add it to the sauté if needed for moisture.

“Then when the zucchini starts to soften you can add any kind of vegetable you want.”

According to Lindsay, zucchini is very reasonable and the sauté can be a complete meal if you add things like mushrooms and maybe chick peas and tomatoes.

Lindsay likes the flavor of onions and garlic and said she uses those often in her cooking, especially when cooking vegetables. Speculating it must be  her Italian heritage showing, Lindsay said, “My great-grandmother was an Italian immigrant.”

Presentation is not something Lindsay spends a lot of time thinking about, but since her boyfriend’s mother got her interested in the colorful Fiestaware dinnerware, she said she now has seven or eight different colors to work with.

“I think about the color of the food and the color of the plate when I’m serving a meal,” she said. “But most of all I think about cooking low fat and low sugar recipes.”

As her mother taught her, Lindsay has always been a health conscious cook, but said when her boyfriend decided he wanted to start eating healthier, she began researching healthier choices.

“It got me even more into the healthier part of cooking and more interested in it,” she said.

“When he comes to dinner, I will serve something that is low fat, low sugar, and less than 500 calories. Those are the guidelines I use.”

Lindsay stresses that healthy recipes are readily available but sometimes you have to search for them. “If a recipe says it’s low fat, be careful because it might have a whole lot of sugar in it,” she said. “I also like to find recipes using ingredients I have on hand. I need to find a recipe with fairly simple ingredients, not something I will have to make a trip to a health food store to get.”

Lindsay said she is probably most well known for the bread she bakes and for cooking healthy dishes. “We have a family dinner occasionally and my contribution is almost always some kind of bread or muffin to share,” she said, adding she uses wheat flour often in her breads.

“I use wheat flour whenever possible, starting out about half wheat flour and half white flour,” she said. “And then I go from there. If you’re just starting out using the wheat flour it can seem a little different, but you’ll get used to it.”

Lindsay also advises, when making something sweet, to try adding applesauce or mashed bananas to the batter to substitute for some of the sugar and/or oil. “It usually works out really well,” she said.

Her favorite thing about cooking is creating things that are healthy but also taste good. “I cook from scratch whenever possible. The less processed foods, the better,” she said. “It feels good to do the research and create  healthy choices and I like to help loved ones eat healthy without sacrificing taste.”

Lindsay Schoon shares some of her favorite recipes.

Boca chicken parmesan for two

Lindsay Schoon

2 Boca (or other brand) soy chicken patties

2 servings wheat pasta

marinara sauce

pizza (or mozzarella) cheese

Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Bake the “chicken” patties according to instructions.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta.

When the pasta is done, put it in a lightly greased bread pan. Pour 1/4 inch layer of marinara sauce over the pasta.

Put one “chicken” pattie on each side of the pan. Top with about 1/4 inch layer of the marinara sauce, followed by a thin layer of the mozzarella cheese.

Sprinkle with Parmesan.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Strawberry rhubarb sauce

Lindsay Schoon

4-6 stalks fresh rhubarb (depending on size), diced

1-1/2 C. strawberries (fresh or frozen), sliced

1/3 C. orange juice

1/3 to 1/2 C. sugar to taste

1/4 C. All Fruit strawberry jam

Cook the rhubarb over medium-low heat, covered, until soft and then uncover, add strawberries, orange juice and sugar to taste.

Stir and let simmer.

Keep simmering until all the ingredients are pureed. Add the jam.

Continue stirring and simmering until desired consistency.

Serve with toast or with homemade?strawberry rhubarb bread.

Strawberry rhubarb bread

Lindsay Schoon

1 C. wheat flour and 1/2 C. white flour (or 1-1/2 C. mixed wheat/white flour)

2/3 C. sugar

1/2 t. baking soda

1/4 t. salt

1/4 t. nutmeg

1 T. lemon juice

2 large egg whites

1 large egg

3/4 C. mashed strawberries (fresh or thawed frozen are fine)

3/4 C. cooked rhubarb (about 3-4 stalks)

1/4 C. vegetable oil

1/4 C. unsweetened applesauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a loaf pan with non-stick spray and set aside.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, soda, salt and nutmeg.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients.

Combine the wet ingredients with the dry, whisking just until blended.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 55 to 65 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the bread in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove it from the pan and transfer to a rack to cool.

The bread is not overly sweet, so serve with the strawberry rhubarb sauce.

Chocolate banana bread

Lindsay Schoon

1 C. wheat flour and 1/2 C. white flour (or 1-1/2 C. half wheat and half white flour)

2/3 C. sugar

6 T. cocoa

1/2 t. salt

1 t. baking powder

1 t. baking soda

1 t. cinnamon

4 egg whites

1/4 C. vegetable oil

4 bananas, thoroughly ripe and mashed

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.

With an electric mixer, cream eggs, oil and sugar until silky smooth, then add mashed bananas.

Add egg/banana mixture to the flour mixture.

Blend well on medium speed, about two minutes. Pour into well greased and floured 9x5 inch loaf ban (you can use a bit of the flour mixture to coat pan).

Bake for 45 minutes and test for doneness.

Set on wire rack to cool for 15-20 minutes. Turn out and cool completely.