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

Sunday, September 12, 2010

All Hale the Mighty Kale

Kale chips have been popular for a while in the world of food blogs. Twice, I have bought kale with the intention of making these. Both times I completely forgot about it until I opened the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator to find a bag full of green mush. Well the third time was the charm because I used my fresh bunch of kale to create a tasty, crispy, healthy snack. While kale chips in no way imitate potato chips, they will satisfy a salty junk food craving. Besides the flavor and texture appeal, kale is a nutrition powerhouse. Kale is packed with beta-carotene, a key nutrient in healthy vision. The leafy green vegetable is also an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, and vitamin C. In addition, kale is a good source of iron, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. The best thing about this recipe is its flexibility; choose how to season the chips based on your own preferences. I made one batch with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. The second batch was sprinkled with ranch flavored popcorn seasoning. Both absolutely delicious. Make sure that the raw kale is completely dry or the leaves will not reach the crisp texture. This is such a great way to introduce a new, unique vegetable to children. You can even let let them help choose the flavor of the seasoning.

Kale Chips

one bunch of kale
seasonings of choice

  1. Preheat oven or toaster oven (I chose the toaster oven method) to 225 degrees.
  2. Dry kale completely and tear into pieces. Make sure the pieces are uniform in size and not too small because they will shrink quite a bit.
  3. Place kale on non-stick baking sheet or baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  4. Sprinkle generously with seasonings of choice (see ideas below)
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes until crispy.
Seasoning Ideas from Happy Herbivore
Old Bay seasoning
garlic salt
balsamic vinegar and salt
nutritional yeast
cinnamon and sugar

Nutrition: (one cup chopped fresh kale) 34 calories, 6g carbohydrate, 2g protein, 0g fat

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Gotta have a Frittata

Lately I have grown tired of my usual breakfast foods. While brainstorming some possible alternatives, my mind drifted to a dish that my mom makes every year for Christmas morning. Quiche. Immediately following the cherished memories that I associate with her quiche, came the recollection of the ingredients that make up the savory pie- heavy cream, cheese, bacon, and buttery crust. Those ingredients can easily be compiled into one group- fat. Many people are fooled by the light, fluffy texture of quiche thinking that it is light in terms of dietary concerns. It is actually just the opposite; an average restaurant slice of quiche lorraine (bacon and swiss cheese) ranges from 700-1000 calories. That is not the way that I want to start my day, so I decided to create an alternative. Since much of the fat and calories is provided in the crust of quiche, I opted to make a frittata, which is basically a crustless quiche. I replaced the heavy cream with greek yogurt (so typical of me), swapped full fat cheese for low fat, and substituted turkey sausage in place of the bacon. I also chose to use egg beaters instead of whole eggs. Although I used turkey sausage and onion as my fillings, I cannot wait to recreate this recipe using chopped fresh vegetables. Feel free to experiment with different meats and veggies of your liking, or whatever you may have in your refrigerator. This was delicious and exactly what I need to change up my morning routine a bit. The frittata is full of protein which will help keep you full for longer.

Also, if you have been to my blog before, I hope you noticed my new layout. I designed the cartoon of me and my hobbies. Tracey of Little Bitty Blogs did an amazing job designing the rest of the blog. I am so excited that it finally looks the way I had originally envisioned it.

Low Fat Frittata
serves 4

4 turkey sausage patties, chopped
2 tbsp chopped onion
3/4 cup egg beaters
1/4 cup 0% fat-free greek yogurt
1/2 cup fat-free shredded cheese, divided
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Spray a 10" cast-iron or oven-safe skillet with cooking spray.
  2. Saute sausage and onion over medium heat until onion softens.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together egg beaters, greek yogurt, salt, and pepper.
  4. Pour egg mixture over sausage and onion. Add 1/4 cup of cheese.
  5. Stir to mix, then let cook over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes. The bottom will set but the top will still be runny.
  6. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese in the skillet. Place the skillet in the oven and broil for 5 minutes until the cheese is golden and bubbly.
Nutrition: 120 calories, 3g carbohydrate, 18g protein, 4g fat

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Juicy Flavor...Chicken to Savor

This recipe is for Cracker Barrel's grilled chicken tenders. I have always loved this recipe because the marinade makes the juiciest, most flavorful chicken imaginable. It is perfect served with fresh vegetables for a healthy country-style meal. I also like to use this recipe in pasta dishes that contain grilled chicken or to top a fresh salad. Although it does require a little bit of pre-planning in order to marinade the tenders for an hour, it takes very little effort and only three ingredients (not including the chicken). The original recipe calls for regular Italian dressing but I chose to use the fat-free variety and it turned out exactly the same. Try replacing fried chicken tenders with these to drastically reduce the amount of fat and calories in your lunch or dinner.

Cracker Barrel Grilled Chicken Tenders
serves 4

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins
1/2 cup fat-free Italian dressing
1 tsp fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tsp honey

  1. Whisk together dressing, lime juice, and honey.
  2. Pour over chicken tenders, reserving 1/4 cup
  3. Marinate for one hour.
  4. Cook tenders in a non-stick pan or grill until golden in color, but not dry.
  5. Brush cooked chicken with reserved marinade mixture.
Nutrition: 122 calories, 7g carbohydrate, 23g protein, 2g fat, 0g fiber, 3 weight watchers points

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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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