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!
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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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Please feel free to email me with any questions, suggestions, or comments at lamandle88@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you.

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