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

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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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