Friday, July 30, 2010

A Frozen Meal that Seals the Deal

While I would love to be able to post a new recipe everyday, sadly I have been too busy this past week to cook anything at all. I am in the process of moving from one apartment to another, yes in 100-degree weather. I have started selling my artwork; therefore, I had to get them all framed. I have gotten lucky enough to have the opportunity to hang my paintings in a popular local Italian restaurant, Joe’s. I have had many people suggest that I need a website for people to view my available designs. My goal is customer satisfaction, so after many long hours, my website is up and running. It is nowhere near complete, but if you are interested I would love for you to check it out at Also, you will be noticing some changes on this website soon, as I have decided to work with a professional web design company in order to create the look that I desire and better organize my posts and recipes. Besides my multiple projects, I am also preparing to take the GRE as I try to figure out the best place to attend grad school.

Anyways, the point of all my rambling is to let everyone know that I have not abandoned Nosh N’ Nutrition and I should be back to posting my adventures in healthy cooking after the weekend. To give you a little something extra, other than my crazy mental agenda, I want to suggest a frozen dinner entrée. I do not believe that our bodies are meant to consume frozen prepared meals regularly, as the majority of them are full of sugars and preservatives, providing very little nutrition or satisfaction. The Kashi Tuscan Veggie Bake is an exception. I always keep a few of these in my freezer for weeks like this one, when there is just no time to cook. This all-natural meal reminds me of vegetable lasagna with an amazing tomato basil sauce. It contains whole grain noodles, yellow squash, roasted eggplant, sweet potatoes, and sun dried tomatoes. The flavor is unbeatable for only 8 minutes in the microwave and 260 calories. Besides the delicious taste, the next best thing about the veggie bake is that it contains 8g of fiber and truly makes keeps you feeling fuller for longer than the typical box dinner. Kashi makes some other frozen meals that are good as well, but I always go back to this one. In fact, I’m thinking this just may be my dinner tonight.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

SUB-stitute This!

Sandwich shops are one of the most popular lunch restaurants because they are fast and widely accepted. Traditionally, most of them served the common cold cut options with several choices of toppings- usually creating a fairly healthy meal. Today, there are many more sandwich types, as each restaurant aims to dominate the competition. Now you can order a sub with meatballs, pizza toppings, triple meat, fried chicken, or steak. For customer satisfaction, many places offer up to 50 condiment options, including creamy dressings and mayonnaise-based sauces. As it has become harder to decide what to order, it has also become more difficult to manage weight loss or weight maintenance while eating sandwiches regularly. Some sandwich chains have started offering lower calorie and lower fat options for consumers that are looking for healthier lifestyle. Those options are usually the more simple, smaller sandwiches. Often the specialty sandwiches are of the highest calorie count. For example, the popular Subway Meatball Marinara 6 inch sub contains 580 calories and 23g of fat. Therefore the footlong packs in 1160 calories and 46g of fat. Many other restaurants that are marketed as "healthier" choices, serve sandwiches with over 1000 calories; While they may have some healthy selections, check the nutrition information because not all sandwiches are created equal.

In order to make a healthier version of the meatball sub sandwich, I first swapped ground beef for 93% lean ground turkey. I added plenty of herbs and spices so that the meat swap does not cause any loss of flavor. Typically I prefer to cook with 97-99% lean ground turkey breast, but the meatballs need a little more fat to hold them together and to create a juicy, succulent bite. Many people do not realize how many calories come from the bread that a sandwich is served on, not to mention the amount of carbs. To drastically reduce these stats, I chose to serve the meatballs on light wheat hot dog buns, that add only 70 calories. I used my homemade marinara sauce that I also used for my lasagna recipe to create the perfect splash of tomato flavor. Just like with the lasagna, you can substitute store bought marinara sauce if you are short on time, but the flavor just does not compare. You can make the meatballs and sauce and store them in the refrigerator so that you can just add them to the hotdog bun for a quick lunch or dinner. The buns can also be toasted if you need a little more support for the meatball filling. The meatballs contain parmesan cheese in them but you can add some fat-free mozzarella cheese to your sandwich for the complete experience. If you look closely in my pictures above, you might see a few green specs. Those happen to be diced jalapenos. While I am not a fan, the boyfriend believes the spicier the better so if you are up for the heat, toss some hot peppers in the meatball mixture and the sauce. You might have started to notice the trend of my boyfriend's recipe evaluations frequenting my blog posts. Many of these recipes have been selected for my blog based on his current cravings. He got the meatballs this week to have for his lunch because he bought me the cutest little kitchen gadget, a meatball scooper. He knows if I have a new cooking tool, he is bound to get whatever he asks for as long as I get to play with my new toy. As far as flavor goes, I have only been told that these make for the best meatball sub you will ever try. The best meatball sub you will ever try...and it is low in calories and fat? If you don't believe it is possible- try it for yourself!

Meatball Marinara Sub
serves 6

1.3 lbs 93% lean ground turkey
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup Reggiano Parmigiano cheese, grated
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 egg
1/2 small onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
recipe for Homemade Tomato Sauce (below) or
2 26 oz. jars marinara sauce
6 light wheat hot dog buns
1 1/2 cups shredded fat-free mozzarella cheese (optional)

  1. Prepare recipe for Homemade Tomato Sauce and continue to simmer on low or pour jar marinara sauce into a large pot and heat on a low simmer.
  2. In a large bowl, combine ground turkey, breadcrumbs, egg, parsley, onion, garlic, and Reggiano Parmigiano cheese.
  3. Using your clean hands, mix all the ingredients until combined. 
  4. Form small meatballs, about the size of a ping pong ball.
  5. Spray a large non-stick skillet with cooking spray. Add the meatballs and saute until browned on all sides.
  6. When brown, add the meatballs to the sauce and continue to simmer for 20 minutes.
  7. Spoon about 5 meatballs on each hot dog buns, top with extra sauce and 2 tbsp mozzarella cheese if desired.
Homemade Tomato Sauce

2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 tbsp dried basil
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 tbsp Splenda or sweetener of choice
1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  1. In a large pot, saute onion and garlic until onion is soft and garlic turn golden (not brown).
  2. Empty tomatoes and then all other ingredients into pot. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer for 30 minutes to 3 hours depending on time available. 
Nutrition: (one sub, on light wheat hot dog bun with homemade tomato sauce, no cheese)
302 calories, 27g carbohydrate, 28g protein, 12g fat, 6g fiber

Friday, July 23, 2010

Don't Be Chicken...Cook Chicken

When dining out at an Italian-American restaurant, you may already know to avoid pasta dishes, fried foods, and cream-based sauces; but you would probably never expect the amount of calories that are often in entrees that sound perfectly healthy- such as grilled or baked chicken and fish meals. Many of these such items are drowned in butter or oil that is never mentioned in the menu title. They are also commonly served with starchy sides, such as potatoes or rice. For the health conscious, it is a nuisance to understand the components of a nutritious meal but have no way to overcome the oblivion of deceptive titles that can sound healthy.

This recipe for Balsamic Chicken with Goat Cheese was adapted from a Rachel Ray original. If you have read any of my other posts, you already know of my passion for greek yogurt. It is a healthy substitute for so many different things, including sour cream, buttermilk, and in this recipe-  heavy whipping cream. I have never seen a low-fat variety of goat cheese so regular will be fine because it is used sparingly. Other than the cheese, all of the other ingredients are naturally low in fat and calories. When combined, they create a mouth-watering sauce that makes for a delicious presentation as well. The recipe suggests cooking the chicken in the skillet that you prepare the sauce in;but, you can also season the chicken with salt and pepper and grill it. I would recommend the grilling method if you are preparing the sauce in advance; just omit step #2 from the directions. The sauce can be made ahead of time and then reheated in a sauce pan before serving. This chicken is perfect for a romantic date night meal for that special someone. And if your special someone likes this as much as my special someone, there could be plate-licking involved. It is a restaurant-worthy dish that is great for entertaining a crowd. I served it with a low-fat creamed spinach recipe by The Skinny Chef and a fresh garden salad. For a more filling meal, you could serve the chicken over whole wheat orzo pasta to absorb the extra sauce. Balsamic Chicken with Goat Cheese will have your guests wondering when you have found time to attend culinary school- sure to impress!

Balsamic Chicken with Goat Cheese
serves 4

4, 4 oz. boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 tbsp light butter (around 50 calories per serving)
1 1/2 cups fresh sliced mushrooms
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp fresh chopped thyme or 1 tbsp dried thyme
3 green onions, chopped
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp 0% plain greek yogurt
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 oz. goat cheese, softened in microwave for 15 seconds

1. Preheat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
2. Spray skillet with cooking spray. Season chicken liberally with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Add the chicken to the hot skillet.
Cook for 5-6 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and cover with foil to keep warm.
3. Reduce heat to medium and add the butter. Once the butter melts, add the mushrooms and brown stirring occasionally for about 4 to 5 minutes. Once done, season with salt and pepper.
4. Add the garlic, thyme, and shallots. Cook stirring occasionally for about 2 minutes until shallots are wilted.
5. Sprinkle the flour into the pan and cook 2 minutes more.
6. Whisk in the stock, balsamic vinegar, and the yogurt.
7. Turn the heat up to high and cook for about 2-5 minutes or until thickened.
8. Reduce to a low simmer and to keep warm until serving.
9. Spread goat cheese evenly over each chicken breast and top with sauce.

Nutrition: 173 calories, 5g carbohydrate, 27g protein, 4g fat

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Turkey Taco Bar

On a busy week night, dinner time can often sneak up on you. Then your asked by each of your hungry family members, "So, What's for dinner?". The perfect answer to satisfy diverse tastes is "Turkey Taco Bar". The turkey taco meat is so simple to make and is the perfect healthy stand-in for ground beef. The only cooking involved is of the ground turkey meat, mixed with a packet of taco seasoning. Serve the meat with a low calorie, high fiber brand of soft tacos, such as La Banderita Extreme Fiber tortillas. Place whatever taco toppings that your family enjoys in small bowls. Set up everything in a buffet-style fashion so that each person can go down the line to create their perfect mexican meal. Make sure to add fresh veggies such as lettuce, tomato, and onions for a boost of flavor and nutrients. When it comes to other condiments, use the following guide of substitutes and tips to keep your calorie and fat intake in check. Mexican food does not usually provide low carb, high protein entrees, but by following this recipe, your overstuffed tortilla can do just that.

Condiment Substitutes and Tips

  • Swap sour cream for 0% plain Greek yogurt and save 45 calories per serving
  • Swap full-fat cheddar cheese for fat-free shredded cheddar cheese and save 65 calories per serving
  • Guacamole brands can range in calories. Look for brands with lower amounts of fat and calories. A great choice is Wholly Guacamole Guaca Salsa for 30 calories and 4g of fat per serving.
  • While most salsa brands are low in calories, look for one that has no added sugars.
  • For added protein, choose fat-free refried beans such as the Old El Paso variety or low-sodium black beans.
  • Tomatoes, lettuce, and onion are great additions for bulking up your tortilla with fiber and nutrients.
  • If you prefer an extra spice, add sliced jalapenos or hot sauce for no added calories.

serves 4

1 pound ground turkey breast meat
Taco seasoning mix, such as Old El Paso
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 flour tortillas

Follow the directions on the back of the taco seasoning packet, adding minced garlic to meat while cooking for extra flavor. Top tortillas with meat and condiments of choice.

Nutrition: (one tortilla, using La Banderita Extreme Fiber tortillas and Old El Paso seasoning mix; condiments not included) 215 calories, 21g carbohydrate, 34g protein, 1.5g fat, 12g fiber

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Spicy, Cheesy, Oh So Easy!

In the mood for the taste of bar food, but not quite as eager to see the effects of it on your waistline? It is very difficult to eat healthy at restaurants that are catered towards a sports-enthralled crowd. Such eateries tend to offer many appetizers, with majority of them being fried; think mozzarella sticks, potato wedges, fried mushrooms, and cheese fries. Packing in even more calories, they are often served with creamy dressings for dipping, mainly Ranch and Blue Cheese. The dressing alone average around 200 calories per serving, and by serving, I mean a true serving size of two tablespoons- not the saucer that is brought to the table.

One of the most popular game-day cuisines in the United States is buffalo wings. There are many restaurants that specialize in fried chicken wings, tossed in a variety of specialty sauces. Just one medium sized wing contains 52 calories and 3g of fat. Now go ahead and multiply that by the number of wings you would typically consume for a meal or snack. And then add approximately 500 calories for a serving of french fries. This type of food is commonly paired with beer or other bar drinks, especially during big sporting events and celebrations. Consuming alcoholic beverages not only adds calories through the intake of the beverage itself, but also leads to binge eating and cravings for unhealthy junk food.

Upon hosting your next game day event or just for a simple weeknight meal, try this recipe for Buffalo Chicken Pasta for the spicy, buffalo flavor of hot wings, but only 2 grams of fat. The recipe originated from the popular Buffalo Chicken Dip. After making healthy substitutions to the dip recipe, I decided to turn the appetizer into a main dish entree. The way that I improved the nutrient content of the recipe was by swapping full-fat cheeses and full-fat ranch dressing for their fat-free equivalents. While the flavor of fat-free ranch and the texture of fat-free cream cheese are no where near comparable to the full-fat versions when eaten alone; those differences are extremely discrete when baked with the other ingredients. The pasta dish contains very few ingredients and is great for beginning cooks (If the boyfriend can cook this, you can too. Trust me). The creamy sauce complements the moderate spice of the hot sauce, and could be described as a grown-up version of mac N' cheese. Once in the oven, dinner can be on the table in 20 minutes. Add a fresh garden salad for a complete meal.

Buffalo Chicken Pasta
serves 8

1 pound whole wheat penne noodles
1 cup Frank's Buffalo Sauce (zero calories)
1 cup fat-free Hidden Valley Ranch dressing
8 oz. fat-free cream cheese, soften in microwave
8 oz. boneless skinless chicken breasts, boiled or two large cans of chicken
1 cup fat-free shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup reduced-fat blue cheese crumbles (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9x13 glass pan with cooking spray
  2. Follow directions on box and cook noodles until tender, drain and rinse.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, mix together buffalo sauce, ranch, and cream cheese.
  4. Cut chicken into bite size pieces or shed.
  5. In a large bowl, mix together the noodles, chicken and sauce.
  6. Transfer mixture to baking pan.
  7. Evenly sprinkle cheddar cheese and scatter blue cheese crumbles on top.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes.

Nutrition: (without blue cheese crumbles) 290 calories, 50g carbohydrate, 22g protein, 2g fat
(with blue cheese) 300 calories, 50g carbohydrate, 23g protein, 3g fat

***As with any dish that includes pasta, substitute Fiber Gourmet pasta in place of wheat noodles for a reduced-carb version.

I shared this recipe at the Tips and Tricks linky party hosted by Holly at Homebody Holly. Check out her amazing blog along with the other participants.

Monday, July 12, 2010

It's All In The Mix

Over the past 30 years, eating on the go has become an integrated part of the American lifestyle. The rise of  fast food restaurants and pre-packaged snacks are two significant contributors to the increasing obesity rate. These institutions have also led to a considerable decrease in the amount of fruits and vegetables that the average person consumes on a daily basis. Of course there are times when a drive-thru meal or a gas station snack is the only option, but planning ahead and pre-portioning snacks at home are much smarter ways to stay healthy amidst a busy schedule.

Raw fruits and vegetables are always the best choices for a mid-afternoon snack; but when nothing but "salty" will do, weigh your options carefully. Potato chips are a typical office desk snack because they are readily available in vending machines and need absolutely no preparation. Chips are the epitome of most dieters because they are loaded with saturated fat, which can lead to increased cholesterol levels. They are also one of the many foods that the average person tends to eat more than one serving at a time, often without realizing it. In light of recent health conscious trends, companies have lowered fat and calorie content of their products by offering baked chips and other light varieties. While it is an improvement, such snacks still lack nutrients and leave you feeling hungry shortly after eating them.

This recipe for Wasabi Pea Snack Mix originated from Southern Living. The combination of wasabi peas, almonds, sesame sticks, and rye chips provides an indescribable flavor explosion. If you have never tried anything with wasabi flavor, it has a distinct kick. Each crunch releases an initial heat that quickly disappears, allowing for the other flavors to be enjoyed as well. The mixture is great for parties or for filling containers to give as gifts around the holidays.

Other snack mixes, such as the popular trail mix, often incorporate candy and peanuts, providing half of the calories from fat. Instead of peanuts, this mix includes almonds. Almonds are high in mono-unsaturated fat, the good fat that has been shown to reduce risk of heart disease and to lower cholesterol. Mono-unsaturated fats help to keep you feeling full for longer. Almonds are high in the antioxidant vitamin E, Magnesium, and Potassium. Through research of diabetic patients, it has been determined that these nuts decrease post-meal rise of blood glucose. This is not  particularly a low calorie recipe, but it is low in carbohydrates and saturated fat. For weight loss, I would not recommend this as part of an every day diet; but it is a treat you can feel good about eating, as it is very rich in nutrients.

This is very simple to make- just toss all the ingredients in a bowl. It is a healthier alternative to other snack foods, but with just about any food, mindless munching can lead to mindless weight gain. To avoid eating the whole bowl, measure individual serving sizes and separate into plastic snack-size bags. Now you can take them in your purse or stash them in your car- a perfect "pick-me-up" in a pinch.

Wasabi Pea Snack Mix
serves 10

1 1/2 cups wasabi peas
1 cup salted almonds
2 cups rye chips
1 cup sesame sticks

Mix everything together in a large bowl and divide into 10 (1/2 cup) servings

Nutrition: (per 1/2 cup serving) 260 calories, 18g carbohydrate, 7g protein, 20g fat, 4g fiber

Where to find it: The wasabi peas are often with the Asian cuisine in grocery stores and are sometimes packaged in a can. Sesame sticks are usually located in this section as well.I have also found both of these items at Publix and Whole Foods in the nut sections. Any salted almonds will work in this recipe, but I like to use Blue Diamond brand of sea salt almonds because they have no added oils. The rye chips that i use are made by Gardetto's and can usually be found near the chips and snack mixes. If you cannot find these, you can substitute bagel chips or pretzels.

Photos credited to Bill Glidewell

Friday, July 9, 2010

Shrimp "Un-fried" Rice

Authentic Chinese food is one of the healthiest cuisines in the world. The fact that the Chinese center their meals around whole grains, locally farmed vegetables, and lean meats explains why they do not have the obesity epidemic that we do here in the United States. Although Asian restaurants seem to be in abundance in our culture, the typical fare served at these eateries barely resembles the fresh, traditional ingredients. Mainly because of the American demand for such options, most Chinese entrees include white rice, fried meats, and thick sauces. These adaptations lead us far from a nutritious meal; with many menu selections, you would be better off choosing a combo meal from a hamburger joint. Not only are the dishes loaded with saturated fat and calories, but the sodium content is astounding. By following my healthy substitutions, you can slash these statistics in half.

In no way am I trying to convince you that my recipe for Shrimp "Un-fried" Rice is of Chinese authenticity; it is simply a healthier version of an American-Chinese favorite. I would never even consider ordering shrimp fried rice in a restaurant, but I feel good about enjoying this meal at home in its healthier form. The dish is full of flavor provided by whole-grain brown rice, fresh gulf shrimp, and fried rice seasoning mix. I just so happened to have jumbo gulf shrimp in the freezer (thanks to my dad's recent visit to Destin, FL) when preparing this, but any type will work fine. Of course, the fresher, the better.  It is a very simple  recipe that is easy to prepare in large amounts- just double or triple the ingredients. Wok your way to a healthier lifestyle!

If you find yourself out to eat at a Chinese restaurant, keep these figure-friendly tips in mind:
  • Many places offer steamed entrees that are served with sauce on the side (Dip lightly, Don't pour).
  • Begin your meal with a cup of broth-based soup or a small salad (No Crispy Noodles).
  • Choose steamed brown rice over white or fried rice.
  • Avoid egg rolls, fried foods, and desserts.
  • Stay away from the All-You-Can-Eat buffet. 
  • Try using chopsticks to take smaller bites.
  • Remember that rice has about 200 calories per cup.
  • "Sweet and Sour" = "Fat and Sugar"
  • Vegetarian labeled dishes are not always the healthiest options.
  • Most meals contain 2-3 servings. Split with a friend or box the leftovers.
  • Many fast food chains and some fine dining restaurants post their nutrition information online. Check the stats to decide what you should order before you go.
  • Enjoy a fortune cookie for only 30 calories.
Shrimp "Un-fried" Rice
serves 4

4 cups cooked whole grain brown rice
1 lb. fresh shrimp, shelled and washed
1 packet Kikkoman Fried Rice seasoning mix
2 tbsp water
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup egg beaters
2/3 cup frozen green peas
1 tbsp low-sodium (light) soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste

1. Spray a large non-stick skillet or wok with cooking spray. Dissolve seasoning mix in water.
2. Over medium heat, cook shrimp until opaque (pinkish).
3. Add green onions and cook until softened, about 2 minutes.
4. Push shrimp and onions to one side of the skillet and pour liquid egg beaters onto the opposite side.
5. Scramble the egg beaters and then mix in with the shrimp and onions.
6. Add cooked rice to the skillet and stir until it is incorporated with the other ingredients.
7. Pour seasoning mix in skillet and stir to coat.
8. Add soy sauce, salt, and pepper. Use salt sparingly as soy sauce is already salty.
9. Add green peas and stir into mixture. Cook for another 1-2 minutes.

Nutrition: 316 calories, 42g carbohydrate, 31g protein, 3g fat, 3g fiber, 896mg sodium, 2g sugar

***If you cannot locate Kikkoman's fried rice seasoning mix, there are other brands on the shelves in the Asian section of your grocery store. Just be sure to read the directions on the packet, as the preparation of the mix may differ slightly.

Show Off Your Stuff Party.jpg
Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Leanest of Layers


Layers upon layers of pasta, meat, and cheese- What's not to love about lasagna? Possibly the miserable feeling of fullness upon finishing a dinner portion at your favorite Italian restaurant. Or maybe the fact that your entree alone could easily contain about 870 calories and 50g of fat. Typically served while waiting for your meal to be prepared, if you munch on the bread with olive oil, you have met your daily caloric needs all in one sitting. If that is not bad enough, then your waiter tempts you with the chef's award-winning tiramisu (I will save the horrifying statistics for another time). You can see how this Italian classic can quickly turn into a diet disaster when dining out, but there are healthier ways to enjoy lasagna with your homemade touch.

My lasagna originated from a Kraft recipe, but has been altered to a healthy satisfaction and taste perfection. It makes for a perfect meal for guests and, in my opinion, is even better reheated the next day. I often assemble the lasagna ahead of time and refrigerate it until I am ready to bake the gooey dish. I have made substitutions such as using ground turkey breast to replace ground beef, fat free cottage cheese to replace ricotta, and fat free mozzarella cheese in place of full fat Italian cheeses. Make sure to use ground turkey breast, as some ground turkey has the same amount of calories and fat as ground beef. I also use egg beaters instead of eggs and whole wheat noodles to increase the fiber content. All of these simple swaps drastically reduce calories, fat, and carbs. To increase the nutrient content, I have added mushrooms and spinach, which also provide a more colorful presentation. The serving size is 1/8 of a 9x13 pan. It may not be quite as large as what you are accustom to at a restaurant, but it is a good size portion- perfect when paired with a healthy salad or side of veggies. In my earlier stages of learning to cook, I made this recipe using jarred pasta sauce. While it does save time and can contain nearly the same nutrition, store bought sauce cannot replace a fresh, homemade tomato sauce. The sauce must simmer for a while in order to allow the herbs and spices to disperse throughout the crushed tomatoes, but the hands-on time is very minimal and definitely worth it. If you are preparing this in advance, make the sauce a day or two early and keep refrigerated until you are ready to make the lasagna. This sauce is also great served over plain pasta or with meatballs. Whether you choose to make your own sauce or not, this lasagna proves that Italian food can be made healthy. Don't tell anyone that it is a lighter version, and they will never know. My family now prefers this recipe to high-fat lasagna, and I love being able to provide them with a delicious, nutritious meal.

The Leanest of Layers Lasagna
serves 8

9 uncooked whole wheat lasagna noodles
1 lb. ground turkey breast
1 cup fresh sliced mushrooms 
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 tsp ground red pepper
1 1/2 tsp dried basil leaves
1/2 cup egg beaters
16 oz. fat free or 1% cottage cheese
1 cup frozen spinach, thawed or fresh spinach, cooked
2 cups shredded fat-free mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 recipe for homemade tomato sauce or 25 oz. jar prepared pasta sauce

1. Spray 9x13 glass baking dish with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook and drain noodles as directed on package. Place in cold water.
2. Cook ground turkey in skillet with garlic and ground red pepper until thoroughly cooked. Add meat to tomato sauce in a large pot. Add mushrooms to prepared jar sauce or add to homemade sauce 30 minutes before you plan to remove the sauce from simmering. 
3. In a small bowl, combine cottage cheese, egg beaters, basil, and spinach.
4. Drain noodles. Spread about 1/2 cup meat sauce over bottom of baking dish. Top with 3 noodles, 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce, half the cottage cheese mixture, and 3/4 cups mozzarella cheese. 
5. Repeat layers once. Top with remaining noodles, sauce, and mozzarella cheese; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
6. Spray a 15-inch piece of foil with cooking spray. Cover lasagna with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 to 15 minutes longer. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Homemade Tomato Sauce

2 28 ounce cans crushed tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 Tbsp. dried basil
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 Tablespoons Splenda or sweetener of choice
1/2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1. In a large pot, saute onions and garlic in olive oil until onions soften and garlic turns golden (not brown).
2. Empty tomatoes and all other ingredients into pot. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer for 30 minutes to 3 hours depending on time available.

Nutrition: (1 serving with homemade tomato sauce) 300 calories, 33g carbohydrate, 38g protein, 4g fat, 6g fiber

***For carb counters or diabetics, there is a low carb, high fiber brand of pasta that can be substituted in this recipe. The pasta is made by Fiber Gourmet. I use their pastas as much as I can because it tastes exactly like regular pasta but contains 18g of fiber and only 130 calories per serving. The only problem is that very few stores carry this pasta. It can be ordered from Fiber Gourmet in a 6-pack or 12-pack. If you just want to try one box, you can find it at Netrition.

Nutrition: (1 serving with homemade tomato sauce and Fiber Gourmet noodles) 282 calories, 33g carbohydrate, 38g protein, 4g fat, 10g fiber, 23g net carbohydrate

***If you are using prepared pasta sauce, look for a brand that contains no more than 50 calories and 5g of sugar per serving. One of my favorites is Muir Glen Portabello Mushroom Pasta Sauce.
Monday, July 5, 2010

Skinny Dipping Allowed

When the temperature refuses to drop below 90 degrees, nothing sounds better than a cool, creamy treat. I don't know about you, but for me, the combination of the words cool and creamy bring one specific food to mind- cheesecake! The light texture and fact that it is often served with fruit might lead people to believe that cheesecake is one of the healthier options when ordering dessert in a restaurant. Think again. A single slice of plain cheesecake averages about 700 calories and some fancy cheesecakes, such as those from Cheesecake Factory, can contain more than 1200 calories and 43g of saturated fat per slice. I believe that I represent the vast majority by assuming that nobody appreciates that much excess fat in their diet during swimsuit season.

As a future dietitian, it would be practical for me to recommend fresh fruit as a healthy alternative to other desserts. As much as I love perfectly ripe berries in the midst of the summer heat, I occasionally prefer something a bit sweeter- a bit more indulgent. My cheesecake fruit dip is the perfect treat to satisfy a sweet tooth with no fat and minimal calories. It is extremely simple to prepare and contains only two ingredients, making it frugal as well. It has been a huge hit with everyone that has tried it and is perfect for parties of all sorts. Once people sample the dip, I find that I must share the recipe in order for them to believe that it is guilt free. Although I would not advertise this recipe alone as nutritious (yes, low-calorie, but no essential vitamins or minerals), the accompaniment of fruit as dippers makes up for its inadequacy. For kids or those with calories to spare, try spreading the dip on a low-fat graham cracker and topping with berries of choice. I do not advocate eating the whole bowl at once with a spoon, although I have seen it done (no names), and if you choose to do so, you are still consuming significantly less calories than eating a slice of cheesecake. Skinny dip your way into this recipe without betraying your new bikini!

Cheesecake Fruit Dip
serves 10

8 oz. Cool Whip Free, thawed in refrigerator
1 oz. dry JELLO fat-free, sugar-free Cheesecake Pudding Mix

1. After frozen cool whip has thawed, dump container into a medium size bowl.
2. Add dry pudding mix and gently combine until mixed.
3. Spoon the mixture back into the original cool whip container if not serving immediately.
4. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks

Nutrition (about 1/4 cup): 48 calories, 10g carbohydrate, 0g protein, 0g fat, 0g fiber, 1 weight watchers point

***Feel free to try other flavors of pudding mix such as Chocolate, White Chocolate, Lemon, or Banana.

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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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