Monday, December 20, 2010

No Guilt Nog

There are certain foods and drinks that tend to be associated with the Christmas season. For me, one that comes to mind is egg nog. The creamy holiday drink is typically high in fat and sugar. It is often made with rum which adds to the already high calorie content. If that is not enough to keep you away, egg nog is made with raw eggs. Let's face it, who has time for salmonella food poisoning during this time of the year? If you love the flavor combination of nutmeg, rum, and vanilla but aren't crazy about gaining weight during the holidays or drinking eggs, this light egg nog recipe is for you. I made it with rum extract but if alcohol is a must for your holiday get-together, you can swap the extract for rum to make a light Christmas cocktail. Rum will add additional calories, but using this recipe, your drink will still be substantially lower than store bought varieties.

Light Egg Nog
serves 5
adapted from Hungry Girl

5 cups unsweetened almond milk
1 package (1 oz.) sugar-free, fat-free vanilla pudding mix
6 packets Splenda
1 tsp. rum extract
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

  1. Add all ingredients to the blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.
Nutrition: (about 1 cup) 60 calories, 7g carbohydrate, 1g protein, 3g fat, 1g fiber, 1 weight watchers point

***For the alcoholic variation, reduce the milk to 4 1/2 cups and add 5 oz. of your favorite rum.
Friday, December 3, 2010

Guilt Free, Way To Be

Back in the day before I knew anything about nutrition, I would always order Fettuccine Alfredo at Italian restaurants. The creamy dish seems to be quite a popular choice. Besides the huge portions of pasta served in restaurants, a dish made with Alfredo sauce is guaranteed to be overflowing with calories and fat. Because I now know quite a bit about nutrition (more than 4 years worth), I usually order some sort of grilled fish entree with steamed veggies. I love seafood and would choose it over pasta even it weren't for the nutrition facts, but every now and then I just want noodles covered with a cheesy cream sauce. When that sort of craving strikes, I make my own lightened Alfredo sauce. Made from fat-free milk and light cream cheese, this sauce is amazingly delicious. Nobody would ever know that it doesn't contain heavy cream or that is light in any way. It is great over plain noodles but I also like to add grilled chicken, mushrooms, and green peas for a complete family meal. I plan to make it again soon to use for the sauce on a white pizza. The whole recipe of Guiltless Alfredo Sauce will cover 1 pound of pasta.

Guiltless Alfredo Sauce
adapted from Our Best Bites
serves 8

2 cups fat-free milk
3 oz. light cream cheese
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp light butter
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup grated Parmesan
  1. In a food processor or blender, combine milk, cream cheese, flour, and salt. Process until smooth and set aside.
  2. In a medium-large sauce pan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the milk mixture to the pan. Stir constantly for about 3-4 minutes until the sauce begins to simmer. Keep stirring and let it cook for a few minutes more. It should become thicker.
  4. Remove from heat. Stir in Parmesan until melted and cover the pan immediately.
  5. Let stand for at least 10 minutes prior to using. It will continue to thicken to desired consistency. 
Nutrition: 113 calories, 6g carbohydrates, 8g protein, 6g fat, 3 weight watchers points

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Leftovers are Nice with Turkey and Rice

Following Thanksgiving, one thing that is always guaranteed is leftovers. Leftovers are great for a day or two but you can only eat so many turkey sandwiches. This year I decided to make a new dish using the leftover smoked turkey meat. I thought about turkey enchiladas or turkey pot pie, but I finally decided on a recipe for Turkey and Wild Rice Casserole. The one-dish meal combines turkey, brown rice, wild rice, and veggies in a light creamy alfredo sauce. I'm not sure if it had something to do with the smoked turkey, but this dish was full of flavor and a great change from typical Thanksgiving food. It was also pretty filling because of the combination of whole grains and lean protein. Add a tossed salad and dinner is served.

Turkey and Wild Rice Casserole
Adapted from Eat Better America
serves 8

5 cups water
3/4 cup uncooked long-grain brown rice
3/4 cup uncooked wild rice
10 0z. (or 1 cup + 2 tbsp) light Alfredo sauce (I used Classico Light Alfredo Sauce)
1 cup 0% fat-free greek yogurt
1/2 cup fat-free chicken broth
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp pepper
4 cups cut-up cooked turkey breast
1 bag (12 oz.) Green Giant Valley Fresh Steamers frozen mixed vegetables
1/2 cup bread crumbs (I put one slice light whole-wheat bread in the food processor)
1 tsp olive oil

  1. In a large sauce pan, heat water, brown rice, and wild rice to boiling. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 40 to 50 minutes or until rice is tender. Drain if necessary.
  2. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.
  3. In a very large bowl, mix Alfredo sauce, yogurt, broth, Parmesan, thyme, and pepper until well mixed.
  4. Stir in rice mixture, turkey, and vegetables. Spoon into baking dish.
  5. In a small bowl, mix bread crumbs with olive oil; sprinkle over turkey mixture.
  6. Bake uncovered 40 to 50 minutes or until edges are bubbly and bread crumbs are lightly browned.
Nutrition: 274 calories, 35g carbohydrate, 22g protein, 5g fat, 3g fiber, 5 weight watchers points

Friday, November 26, 2010

Carrots Take the Cake

While Thanksgiving is usually a day of ignoring calories and satiety cues, there are still plenty of ways to lighten up traditional holiday dishes. This year I prepared a hash brown casserole and carrot cake cupcakes. Typical hash brown casserole is much like other Thanksgiving sides, loaded with fat and drowned in butter. By using reduced-fat soup, light sour cream, and 2% cheese I was able to drastically decrease the calories. The recipe for my has brown casserole will be coming soon, but today's post is actually about my dessert dish. Carrot cake seems to be such a deceiving food, as its name implies that it is healthy since it includes a vegetable. Carrots make up a very small amount of the cake and do not make up for the sugar and fat content. While my recipe most definitely falls under the "seldom splurge" category of my blog, I made substitutions to avoid a diet-disaster. Since I was transporting the dessert, I decided to make cupcakes instead of a layered-cake. The batter is prepared with whole-wheat pastry flour, which is a great substitution for all-purpose. It also contains shredded carrots (well duh, it IS carrot cake), applesauce, raisins, crushed pineapple, and chopped pecans. I prepared the cream cheese icing using reduced-fat cream cheese and light butter. These cupcakes are not overly sweet and the flavors are brought to life with a taste of the smooth, creamy icing. The end product is an individual-sized cake, perfectly moist and full of fall spice.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes
makes 24

2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup applesauce
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped pecans
1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple, drained

Cream Cheese Icing
2 (8 oz.) packages reduced-fat cream cheese
1/2 cup light butter spread
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans for garnish (optional)

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake liners.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  3. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add sugar, oil, applesauce, eggs, and vanilla.
  4. Mix with a wooden spoon until smooth (do not use electric mixer).
  5. Stir in carrots, pecans, raisins, and pineapple.
  6. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. (I had a little bit leftover and made 8 mini cupcakes)
  7. Bake for 35 minutes. Allow to cool before icing.
  8. For icing: Cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until creamy.
Sunday, November 21, 2010

Never Fail With Crab Stuffed Shells

I know it seems as if I have abandoned by blog since I haven't posted in over a week. But with graduation less than two weeks away, school has completely consumed most of my waking hours. And the little time left has been devoted to painting. I have missed my time in the kitchen and once December 11th arrives I will be back in full force. As final week nears, I fear that the dreaded frozen dinners will make their way from my freezer to my microwave. With that prediction and the fact that it was my dad's birthday, I decided that I would cook something special this weekend. A lot of my recipes are quick, easy, and fairly cheap to prepare; this is not one of those. This recipe for Crab Stuffed Shells is probably one of the best meals that I have ever made. It is perfect for a special occasion or if you want to impress those you are serving. These shells are beyond restaurant worthy, with a fraction of the calories in a restaurant-equivalent dish. With the succulent crab meat and silky cream sauce, nobody would ever guess that they are even remotely healthy. Crabmeat is an excellent source of protein, low in fat and calories. It also provides essential fatty acids, iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorous. Since the stuffing of the shells contains very few additional ingredients, the majority is made up of crab meat. So before you set out to make this, be prepared to spend a little more than usual as the crab meat alone cost me $20. I used half king crab meat and half crab claw meat. If you really want to splurge, I am sure that using all king crab meat would be amazing.If you compare the cost of the ingredients to the cost of a meal at a fine dining restaurant, it doesn't seem expensive at all. I love most types of seafood and crab is definitely one of my favorites. This dish is the perfect combination of ingredients to highlight the natural flavor of the crab meat. I have a feeling this will be a request for many birthdays to come.

Crab Stuffed Shells
Adapted from Prevention RD
Serves 7

21 large pasta shells
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red pepper, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 small onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz. fresh king crab meat
8 oz. fresh crab claw meat
1/4 cup fresh minced parsley
Béchamel sauce (see below)
3/4 cup reduced-fat 4 Cheese Italian shredded cheese (Sargento)
1/4 tsp salt

Béchamel sauce
4 tbsp light butter (50/50 Smart Balance)
5 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 cups fat-free milk
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3/4 cup reduced-fat 4 Cheese Italian shredded cheese (Sargento)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Cook the pasta just until al dente according to package. Drain noodles. Let them sit in cold water until ready to use.
  3. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add the bell pepper, celery, and onion. Saute until softened (about 10 minutes), stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the garlic and saute for another 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  5. For the Béchamel: In a medium pot over medium-low heat, warm the milk until it comes to a gentle simmer.
  6. In a separate medium pot over medium-low heat, melt the butter and then whisk in the flour.
  7. Cook the butter/flour mixture (roux) for about 3 minutes until golden blonde, whisking constantly.
  8. To the roux, add the hot milk, salt and pepper.
  9. Bring the mixture to a boil and let boil for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add the cheese, stirring until melted.
  10. In a large bowl combine the vegetables, crab, parsley, 1 cup of the Béchamel, and 1/4 tsp salt.
  11. Spoon the crab mixture into the shells and arrange in prepared dish. Pour remaining Bechamel over shells.
  12. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for another 10 minutes.
Nutrition: (3 shells) 304 calories, 29g carbohydrate, 26g protein, 11g fat, 1.2g fiber, 7 weight watchers points

Monday, November 8, 2010

An Appetizer Inspired Dish...Healthy as you Wish

A healthy meal should always be balanced with lean protein, carbohydrates, and vegetables. I have found that the easiest way to provide this combination is in a pasta dish. While I love all of my tried-and-true pasta recipes, I was in the mood to experiment. I knew that there was a possibility that the results could turn out against my expectations and I would be eating a frozen meal for dinner, but I felt pretty optimistic about this creation. I feel that is pretty common to eat an appetizer as a meal, especially at a restaurant. I have done this plenty of times as restaurant portions are outrageous in size. An appetizer that is available at many restaurants is spinach artichoke dip. I tend to stay away from it at restaurants because it often contains more calories than a meal. But at home, I would definitely eat my spinach artichoke dip for dinner. Based on my recipe, I decided to create a spinach artichoke pasta dish. It would have been just as good as a vegetarian dish without chicken, but I was cooking for more than just myself and my taste-testers requested chicken. Thankfully, the dish turned out fabulous. Everybody loved the fact that it was reminiscent of the dip and I was completely satisfied with my new dish and the nutrition facts that go along with it.

Spinach Artichoke Pasta with Chicken
serves 6

12 oz. Ronzoni Smart Taste pasta (any shape)
1 tsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz. fat-free cream cheese
1/2 cup fat-free plain greek yogurt
1/4 cup fat-free chicken broth
1/2 cup unsweetened plain almond milk
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 14 oz. can quartered artichoke hearts
1 10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 tsp. hot sauce (Tabasco)
salt and pepper to taste
red pepper flakes (optional)
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts

  1. Cook pasta until al dente (about 10 minutes). Drain.
  2. Grill chicken until done. Cover to keep warm until sauce is ready.
  3. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute garlic for about 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add cream cheese, greek yogurt, and chicken broth. Stir until combined and reduce heat to medium-low.
  5. Add the milk and parmesan cheese. Stir until cheese is melted.
  6. Add hot sauce, spinach, artichokes, salt/pepper, and red pepper flakes (if using). Stir to combine.
  7. Cut grilled chicken into bite-sized pieces.
  8. Add chicken and pasta to sauce and toss to coat.
Nutrition: 315 calories, 49g carbohydrate, 27g protein, 3g fat, 7g fiber, 5 weight watchers point

Monday, November 1, 2010

More Calories to Munch with Sugar-free Punch

In my opinion, the word "recipe" implies the inclusion of a list of ingredients followed by a set of step-by-step directions. Therefore, I don't think I can classify this post as an actual recipe, considering it is simply the mixing of two items: Crystal Light lemonade powder mix and diet ginger ale. This combination produces the perfect light, bubbly punch without the sugar and calories of many party drinks. I served this punch for a bridal shower in July. It was quite the compliment to the humid southern heat and I was asked for the "ingredients" numerous times throughout the event. I have also found that it is a great replacement for alcoholic beverages, although you can still serve it in champagne/wine glasses for an elegant appeal. This presentation is especially fun for children. As for directions, pour one package of Crystal Light lemonade powder mix (package meant to make 2 quarts of lemonade) into a 2-liter bottle of diet ginger ale and shake well to mix. A funnel is not necessary but it helps to get the powder in the bottle quickly. You must screw the lid back on the bottle pretty quickly or the drink will begin to fizz and overflow (definitely do this over the sink). Along with its fabulous fizz, the drink is less than 5 calories per serving/glass and contains no sugar. Time to have a guilt-free party!
Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sausage Stars take the Spotlight

I realize that I started a section of my blog called "seldom splurges" and so far there is only one "splurge". Adding to the collection, I will share with you my most requested recipe- sausage stars. Finger foods are always good for football games and parties, and these miniature appetizers are no exception. I think of sausage stars as a modern approach to typical party snacks such as chips, dips, and cookies. While they look intricate and time-consuming, expect quite the opposite. The preparation is surprisingly quick and simple, but you do need a mini-muffin pan. In my opinion, everyone needs one of these anyways because what is cuter than a little baby muffin? This recipe was given to my mom by one of her closest friends and has proven, over and over again, to be a keeper. I have lightened the recipe a bit by using low-fat cheese and light ranch dressing but as I explained about all of my "seldom splurge" recipes, sausage stars should be an occasional treat. (The boyfriend believes they would suffice for every meal. Oh, where would he be without my nutrition guidance?) I encourage you to give these dainty h'ordeuvres a try the next time that you want your dish to be in the spotlight of the party. Stars always shine- sausage stars that is.

Sausage Stars
makes 48

1 lb spicy pork sausage
1 cup light ranch dressing
2 cups shredded low-fat cheddar or colby-jack cheese
1 (2.25 oz.) can sliced black olives
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 package won-ton wrappers (50 count)

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Cook sausage until done, as directed on package. Rinse and Drain.
  3. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except the won-ton wrappers.
  4. Place a won-ton wrapper in each cup of 2 ungreased mini-muffin pans (24 cups in each). Using your thumb, gently press the wrapper into the middle of the cup to mold its shape.
  5. Bake won-ton wrappers for 5 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and evenly fill each wrapper with a spoonful of sausage mix.
  7. Bake for another 5-7 minutes.
Nutrition: (serving of 2 sausage stars) 156 calories, 10g carbohydrate, 6g protein, 10g fat, 4 weight watchers points

***Won-ton wrappers are usually found in the produce section of grocery stores, often with vegetarian/vegan items.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Broccoli and Cheddar...doesn't get much better

Because I believe that you can never have too many quick, healthy dinner recipes, I present to you Broccoli Chicken Pasta. This dish is so simple, as you don't even have to cook the chicken or pasta prior to baking. Everything cooks in the flavorful sauce, a combination of soups, spices, and cheese. This is a great way to get kids (or our meat-loving men) to eat their veggies. One trick that I like to use to keep the nutrition stats in check, is to use larger servings of lean protein and smaller amounts of pasta. If you enjoy broccoli cheddar soup, this is likely to become a favorite in your house. For only 230 calories, you just can't beat this recipe!

Broccoli Chicken Pasta
serves 6

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast (raw), cut into bite-size pieces
1 (12 oz.) package frozen broccoli florets
3.5 oz (about 1 cup) Ronzoni Smart Taste rotini pasta, uncooked
1 cup Fat-free shredded cheddar cheese
1 can 98% fat-free Cream of Chicken soup
1 can 98% fat-free Broccoli Cheese soup
1 tbsp dried minced onions
1 1/2 cups fat-free chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 tsp pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, broccoli, pasta, and cheese. In a small bowl, whisk together the soups, broth, onions, garlic powder, and pepper. Stir soup mixture into the chicken mixture.
  3. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Pour the mixture into the baking dish.
  4. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
  5. Stir, and then bake for another 30 minutes.
  6. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Nutrition: 230 calories, 25g carbohydrate, 26g protein, 3g fat, 4g fiber, 4 weight watchers points
Saturday, October 16, 2010

If you love fudge try No Pudge

I have heard many people say that they could eat healthy or stick to a diet easily if there was no such thing as chocolate. Well, chocolate is here to stay, but if you are one of those people then I have good news for you. I discovered No Pudge brownie mix several years ago while browsing the isles of Whole Foods. While a Whole Foods trip is exciting in general (okay maybe not to everyone), this food find just really made my day. A fat-free brownie mix that is prepared with greek yogurt- you know that is a little bit exciting. Although I was somewhat skeptical about the outcome of a baked dessert made without butter or oil, the result was amazing! These are as moist and rich as any brownies that I have ever tasted. I have made these for many events including parties, bridal showers, and tailgate parties and nobody ever believes that they are even low in fat, much less fat-free. The all-natural mix, with only 9 ingredients, includes substitutions to yogurt, in order to make a lactose-free dessert. The box also provides directions to make a single serving brownie in the microwave in case you find yourself at risk of devouring the whole pan. As with any food made with added sugar, I would not deem these treats "healthy", but they are a much better alternative to other brownie mixes and can easily be part of a healthy diet when consumed in moderation. My favorite is the original flavor, but they also come in cappuccino, raspberry, and mint variations. This is one time that I would not recommend Greek yogurt. The texture is too thick and does not mix well with the mix. I have spotted No Pudge brownie mix at Publix and Wal-Mart as well as Whole Foods. Hurry out to your closest store and give in to your sweet tooth.

Nutrition: (1/12 prepared mix, using the fat-free plain yogurt and vanilla extract option)
118 calories, 29g carbohydrate, 3g protein, 0g fat, 1g fiber, 2 weight watchers points
Monday, October 11, 2010

Time to Savor Healthy Mexican Flavor

I love the spicy flavors of Mexican cuisine but I hardly ever go out to eat at Mexican restaurants. The main reason is that the menus tend be full of fried, greasy, cheese-drowned items. I decided to create an entree that has all of the flavor without the unnecessary fat and calories. It turned out delicious and the recipe makes 9 servings so I have plenty of leftovers for later in the week. My Mexican Lasagna recipe may lead you to think that the dish is a sort of hybrid between Mexican and Italian flavors. If you find that those flavors do not seem to mix, don't worry. I completely agree. The recipe includes the word "lasagna" because of the layers. Layers of tortillas, chicken, cheese, beans, tomatoes, and corn all finished with a creamy enchilada sauce. This healthy entree is sure to become a family favorite.

Mexican Lasagna
(adapted from Southern Living)
serves 9

3 cups cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts, shredded (about 1 lb. before cooking)
1 14.5 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes and green chiles (Rotel)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup yellow corn (frozen or canned)
1 can 98% fat-free cream of chicken soup
1 can 98% fat-free cream of mushroom soup
1 10 oz. can enchilada sauce 
9 (6-inch) corn tortillas
2 cups fat-free shredded cheddar cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. In a large saucepan, combine the first 7 ingredients and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.
  3. In another saucepan, combine both soups and enchilada sauce and cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring often.
  4. Spoon 1/3 sauce mixture in the baking dish and spread to cover bottom. Top with 3 tortillas. Spoon half of the chicken mixture and 1/3 of the sauce over the tortillas; sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheese.
  5. Top with 3 tortillas; repeat layers once with remaining chicken, sauce, and cheese.
  6. Top with 3 tortillas and 1 cup of remaining cheese.
  7. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until bubbly.
  8. Top individual servings with desired toppings such as greek yogurt or salsa.
Nutrition: 224 calories, 26g carbohydrate, 24g protein, 3g fat, 4g fiber, 4 weight watcher points
Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cinnamon and Spice make Pumpkin Season Nice

I love so many things about the month of October- the fall weather, the football games, Halloween decorations, and most of all pumpkin. Not so much the jack-a-lantern kind; but the edible kind that is the perfect ingredient for an autumn baked treat. While I see many other pumpkin creations in my future this month, the first one that I chose is Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins. With each bite I took of the warm pastry, I was overwhelmed with the essence of spice that just screams fall harvest. Cinnamon and nutmeg are the perfect compliment to pumpkin. Pumpkin is not only tasty, but it also has many health benefits. The rich,orange color provides beta-carotene, known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Pumpkin is also a good source of potassium, zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin E. Just a 1/2 cup serving has 5g of fiber. Besides the nutritious aspects of the pumpkin and whole grains, these muffins are also sugar-free and very low in fat (only 1g in each muffin). These are perfect for a grab-and-go breakfast or a healthy after-school snack.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins
(adapted from Spark Recipes)
makes 12 muffins

1/4 cup egg beaters
2/3 cup Splenda
1 (15 oz.) can Pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk (or skim milk)
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (regular whole wheat flour is fine too)
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray or line with paper baking cups.
  2. In a large bowl, combine egg beaters, Splenda, pumpkin, vanilla, and milk. Mix well.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice.
  4. Fill the muffin cups evenly. Sprinkle the top of each muffin with a bit of additional cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Nutrition: 78 calories, 15g carbohydrate, 3g protein, 1g fat

Friday, October 1, 2010

Chicken and Beans Made for Skinny Jeans

So the last chili recipe that I posted was inspired by the beginning of football season. Well this one, kicks off the month of October and the fact that the temperature has finally dropped out of the 90's. Chili is such an easy,hearty meal during this time of year but you can only make chili so often (unless it is one of three things that you know how to cook<---the boyfriend). Because I like to avoid repetitive cooking, as it bores my mind and taste buds, I opted for white chicken chili. It is basically a swap of ground turkey for chicken and kidney beans for white beans: still an excellent combination of lean protein and fiber. To see suggested toppings, check out my post for turkey chili. Leftovers are just as good, if not better, than the day you cook the chili.

White Chicken Chili
serves 4

1 pkg. McCormick White Chicken Chili seasoning mix
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup water
1 14.5 oz. can white beans, undrained
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained

  1. Spray large non-stick skillet with cooking spray. Add chicken and cook over medium heat 3 to 5 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink. Stir occasionally.
  2. In a medium sized sauce pan, stir together seasoning mix, water, beans, and tomatoes. Add cooked chicken and bring to a boil.
  3. Cover and reduce heat to simmer for 10 minutes.
Nutrition: 215 calories, 25g carbohydrate, 30g protein, 2g fat, 6g fiber, 3 weight watchers points

Monday, September 27, 2010

Eggplant Made Light for Dinner Tonight

Eggplant is one of my absolute favorite vegetables (not to mention my favorite fall color). It is so versatile in cooking as it tends to absorb the flavor of its surrounding ingredients. The absorbency of eggplant can also be a negative aspect if it is fried, as it often is in restaurants. It acts as a sponge, drawing in large amounts of the oil and leading to high amounts of hidden calories. Eggplant parmesan dishes in restaurants typically contain close to 1,000 calories. While I would never order it out, I love to make my eggplant parmesan recipe at home. The recipe is baked in the oven without any oil, yet still full of the wonderful flavor combination of marinara and cheese. You can also prepare chicken parmesan by following the eggplant recipe. It turns out fabulous as well. I like to serve the Italian dish over couscous tossed with marinara sauce, alongside a large tossed salad or fresh broccoli.

Eggplant Parmesan
serves 6

1 medium eggplant (about 1 1/2 lbs)
1/4 cup egg beaters
1 package (one box contains 2 packages) Parmesan Crusted Shake N' Bake 
2 cups spaghetti sauce (I used Light Ragu Tomato and Basil pasta sauce)
1 1/2 cups fat-free shredded mozzarella cheese
6 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Cut ends off of eggplant and discard. Slice eggplant into six sections (about 1" thick).
  3. Brush both sides of each slice of eggplant with eggbeater.
  4. Pour Shake N' Bake into the shaking bag (included in box). Drop each slice in the bag, one piece at a time and shake until coated.
  5. Place slices in baking dish and bake for 20 minutes (do not flip).
  6. Top each cooked eggplant slice with spaghetti sauce, 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, and 1 tbsp of parmesan cheese.
  7. Return to oven and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.
Nutrition: 158 calories, 22g carbohydrate, 13g protein, 2g fat

Thursday, September 23, 2010

When Southern goes Slim

In terms of food, it doesn't get much more southern than chicken pot pie. And your typical flavors of the south are usually pretty unhealthy. Think fried green tomatoes, grits, biscuits and gravy, fried okra, etc. Even foods that are naturally healthy such as vegetables are often prepared with tons of cream or butter, yielding a diet disaster. This is why the south has the highest rates of obesity, which I could go on and on about, but I will save that for another time. Sometimes a southern belle just needs some comforting southern food. But does that mean that you must slack on your healthy eating habits? Of course not- just lighten things up a bit. My chicken pot pie recipe is so easy to make and tastes just as wonderful as any other pot pie that I have ever tasted. I generally use almond milk in all of my recipes in place of regular milk. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with skim milk because it is a great source of calcium and vitamin D, great for bone health among many other things. I just love the smooth,creamy flavor of almond milk and 1 cup has just 40 calories (Almond Breeze is the best brand in my opinion). I used Carbquik bake mix in place of the Bisquick, but Carbquik has to be ordered on the internet. If you are watching your carbohydrate intake, it might be a good investment as it has 90% less carbs than Bisquik. It also has 14g of fiber and 6g of protein per serving. I order it from Netrition and often use it to create low-carb recipes including pizza crusts and coffee cakes. No matter which mix you choose for the topping, this is a healthy, hearty dish full of veggies and lean protein.

Chicken Pot Pie
serves 4

2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (about 12oz. before cooking)
1 can Veg-All
1 can 98% fat-free cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup Bisquick heart-healthy bake mix (or Carbquik)
1/2 cup unsweetened plain almond milk (or skim milk)
1/4 cup egg beaters
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly spray a 8x8 baking dish (a round casserole dish would work as well) with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium size bowl, combine chicken, Veg-All, cream of chicken soup, chicken broth, and salt and pepper. Stir until combined.
  3. In a seperate bowl, combine Bisquick, milk, egg beaters, garlic powder, parsley, salt and pepper. Stir until combined.
  4. Evenly pour chicken and vegetable mixture into baking dish. Spread Bisquick mixture evenly on top.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.
Nutrition (with heart-healthy Bisquick): 270 calories, 34g carbohydrate, 23g protein, 5g fat
Nutrition (with Carbquik): 228 calories, 25g carbohydrate, 25g protein, 8g fat

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sausage and Cheese...Yes Please!

If you ever were to stay the night at my house, it is quite likely that you would wake up to the aroma of sausage and cheese. Turkey sausage and reduced-fat Colby-Jack cheese to be exact. I often serve these for breakfast to guests because the preparation only requires about five minutes and they are guaranteed to be devoured. Plus, there is no need for fancy dishes or the dish washing process that follows. Breakfast finger-foods are fun for adults and kids. These little crescent rolls would be great for a casual brunch or tailgate for an early football game. With all the savory flavor, nobody would ever guess that they are the least bit healthy.

Turkey Sausage Breakfast Rolls
serves 4

1 8oz. package  reduced-fat Pilsbury crescent rolls
8 turkey sausage links (Jimmy Dean fully-cooked turkey sausage links)
4 slices reduced-fat Colby-Jack cheese
spicy brown mustard

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Unroll and separate crescent rolls.
  2. Squirt a small amount of spicy brown mustard in the center of each unrolled crescent roll.
  3. Cut slices of cheese in half to create triangular pieces. Place each triangular half on a crescent roll triangle.
  4. Place sausage link at the long end of the crescent roll and roll the roll as you would a plain crescent roll.
  5. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly spray with cooking spray (easy clean-up)
  6. Place rolls on the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Nutrition: (serving size- 2 rolls) 310 calories, 25g carbohydrates, 18g protein, 18g fat

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Cookie Takes the Cake

Originally when I created this blog, I pledged to only add healthy recipes in order to promote a healthy lifestyle. Since then I have had many requests for the appearance of some of my more indulgent dishes. Of course I want to please my readers, so I have decided to add some of these recipes as well. Since all foods are fine in moderation, just be sure to treat these as occasional treats, and not everyday eats. From this point on, such recipes will be referred to as my "Seldom Splurge" files. Although these foods will not necessarily be low-calorie, I still tend to lighten them a bit from their original content.

A lot of my "seldom splurges" are are also my go-to ideas for parties and tailgating. These red velvet cake cookies are no exception. They are the perfect replacement for cake or cupcakes at parties because there is no cutting or messy icing to deal with; but still the fluffy cake texture and sugary flavor. I have made these for multiple Alabama football games, considering the perfect crimson color and white powder sugar coating (also perfect for Christmas and Valentine's Day). You can make these with any flavor of cake mix that you desire. If your team color does not happen to be red, try white cake mix with added food color (or you could just become a Crimson Tide fan). I have previously made these cookies with lemon, strawberry, chocolate, and confetti cake mix. As far as the promised diet tweak, I used light cool whip in place of regular and they turned out great. Each cookie clocks in at around 70 calories so while the stats are not the best, the cookies have only one gram of fat each. Also, these are so easy to make and you only need four ingredients.

Cake Mix Cookies
makes 36 cookies

1 (18.25 oz.) box cake mix (any flavor)
2 cups light cool whip, thawed
1 large egg
1/2 cup confectioner sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Combine first three ingredients, stirring well (dough will be sticky).
  3. Pour sugar on a plate and dust hands in sugar.
  4. Drop heaping teaspoons of dough into sugar, roll to coat, and place on baking sheet two inches apart. (12 cookies should fit on regular size baking sheet)
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
Nutrition: (per cookie) 70 calories, 15g carbohydrate, 1g protein, 1g fat

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About Lauren


Nutrition student with a passion for giving yummy recipes a healthy make-over. Future RD on a constant search for the best food finds. And new blogger trying to relay my tasty ideas to everyone else.

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