Sunday, October 2, 2011

Fall is Nice with Pumpkin Spice

So I realize that it has been over 4 months since I have posted a new recipe, but I am finally back! While I make no promises, I am going to try to post at least once a week. Since my last post, I have officially started my own business, which seems to consume most of my waking (and some sleeping) hours. In the midst of everything, I have still been cooking. There just hasn't been much time for trial and error of adapting new recipes, much less analyzing the nutrient content or writing about it. I have missed creating and modifying recipes so my goal is to set aside some spare time each week and devote it to doing just that.

The recipe that I have today is the perfect way to kick off the Fall season. I have always associated the cool autumn weather with the scent of pumpkin spice, and the smell of these pumpkin pecan cookies baking in the oven seemed so perfect. Not only are they soft, chewy, and delicious, but they are also low in fat and sugar, and packed with fiber and Beta Carotene. I found the recipe at, which is a fabulous source for healthy, weight-watcher friendly recipes. Try these cookies for dessert or pair them with coffee for a perfect breakfast treat. I see many more pumpkin recipes in my near future!

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Pecan Cookies
serves 16

1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups quick oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup Splenda (or sweetener of choice)
1/2 cup unpacked brown sugar
1 large egg
6 tbsp canned pumpkin
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with wax paper.
  2. In a medium size bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together butter, Splenda, and brown sugar with a hand mixer. Add the egg, pumpkin, and vanilla extract. Mix together. Stir in the pecans.
  4. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture. Stir to combine.
  5. Place 16 tablespoons of dough on each baking sheet, evenly separated.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
Nutrition (2 cookies): 136 calories, 18g carbohydrates, 4g protein, 6g fat, 3g fiber
Weight Watchers points: 3
Weight Watchers Plus points: 4

Monday, May 30, 2011

Vegetable Lasagna: White and Light

I completely enjoy my homemade turkey lasagna with classic tomato sauce, but I figured I would mix it up a bit and make vegetable lasagna with a white sauce. I found the original recipe by Recipe Girl and loved the fact that it was full of so many fresh summer veggies. I altered the recipe a bit in order to give it a healthy twist. The sauce was light and provided just enough flavor to let the vegetables star in the creamy dish. While there was a good amount of prep work involved, in my opinion, it was absolutely worth it. It was a great summer entree paired with a fresh garden salad.

Vegetable Lasagna
adapted from Recipe Girl
serves 9

2 cups chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chopped zucchini
2 cups chopped yellow squash
2 cups thinly sliced carrots
2 cups chopped broccoli
1 tsp salt, divided
1/2 cup flour
3 1/2 cups fat-free milk
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
dash of nutmeg
10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 1/2 cups fat-free cottage cheese
2 cups fat-free shredded mozzarella cheese
9 whole-wheat lasagna noodles
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray. Add onion and saute for 4 minutes or until tender; add garlic and saute for another minute. Spoon onion mixture into a large bowl.
  3. Spray the skillet again with cooking spray and add zucchini and squash. saute for 4 minutes or until tender. Add to onion mixture.
  4. Spray the skillet again with cooking spray. Add carrots and saute for 4 minutes; add broccoli and saute for another 4 minutes until tender crisp. Add to onion mixture and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt. Stir well to combine.
  5. Place flour in a medium sauce pan. Gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk until blended. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly; cook 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and add 1/2 cup parmesan, remaining 1/2 tsp salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir until smooth blend in spinach.
  6. In a medium size bowl, combine cottage cheese and 1 1/2 cups mozzarella; stir well.
  7. Spray a lasagna pan (or 9x13 baking dish) with cooking spray. Spread 1/2 cup spinach mixture on bottom of pan. Arrange 3 noodles over spinach mixture; top with half cottage cheese mixture, then half vegetable mixture, and about 1 cup spinach mixture. Repeat layers ending with noodles. Spread remaining spinach mixture on top of noodles; sprinkle with 1/2 cup parmesan and 1/2 cup mozzarella. 
  8. Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 20 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Nutrition: 289 calories, 40g carbohydrate, 25g protein, 5g fat, 7g fiber
Weight Watchers points: 5
Weight Watchers plus points: 8
Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Perfect Parfait

I eat oatmeal for breakfast year round, no matter the temperature outside. But for a lot of people, when the warm weather rolls around, they look for a cooler start to the day. This solution that I have to offer is a healthy yogurt parfait. It is very quick and easy to make, plus it has plenty of protein and fiber. While I use greek yogurt as a substitute for sour cream and mayonnaise in cooking, I love the thick, creamy texture on its own as well. The only other ingredients are Fiber One cereal, Truvia sweetener, and cinnamon. The crunch of the cereal reminds me of granola and is the perfect compliment to the slightly sweet yogurt. I prefer to eat my fruit on the side but you could also add fresh berries. I learned about this delicious combination while interning last summer for Tanya Zuckerbrot in NYC. She is an amazing dietitian a founder/author of The F-Factor Diet. The F-Factor Diet is a healthy diet that is very easy to follow. It promotes whole-grains, high fiber, and protein which helps to keep you feeling full and avoid sabotaging your weight loss plan. Tanya has also created her own line of high fiber products which can be found at Kroger stores or can be ordered on her website. I would go in to detail about the different products, but I'll save that for another post. This yogurt parfait tastes indulgent but weighs in with a mere 160 calories. It is perfect for breakfast or an afternoon snack.

Yogurt Parfait
serves 1

1 (6 oz) container Fage 0% plain greek yogurt
1/2 cup Fiber One original cereal
1 packet Truvia sweetener
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Add Truvia and cinnamon to yogurt container. Mix well. Stir in Cereal.

Nutrition: 160 calories, 32g carbohydrate, 20g protein, 1g fat, 14g fiber
Weight Watchers points: 4
Weight Watchers Plus points: 6
Sunday, May 8, 2011

Cut Calories with Cauliflower

If you love the flavor of a loaded baked potato, but aren't a fan of the associated carbs, this recipe is for you. In my cauliflower casserole, I use the same ingredients that you would add to a twice baked potato or potato casserole. Although the texture is slightly different, the flavor is very similar. Plus this alternative saves quite a few calories. The casserole is creamy and cheesy and everything that typically contradicts a healthy food. It is the perfect side item to add a bit of southern comfort. For a complete meal, I paired the casserole with baked chicken tenders and steamed green beans.

Cauliflower Casserole
serves 6

10 oz. frozen cauliflower
3 tbsp fat free butter
2 tbsp diced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup plain fat free Greek yogurt
2 tbsp egg whites
1 cup fat free shredded cheddar cheese, divided
salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Steam cauliflower until softened. Transfer to a large bowl and mash with a potato masher.
  3. Add butter, onion, garlic, greek yogurt, egg whites, and 1/2 cup cheese. Mix well.
  4. Spray casserole dish with cooking spray and transfer cauliflower mixture to dish. Top with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Cover with aluminum foil.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
Nutrition: 55 calories, 3g carbohydrate, 8g protein, 0g fat
Weight Watchers points: 1
Weight Watchers Plus points: 2

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pizza Make-Over with a Veggie Take-Over

Most people tend to enjoy pizza. But, if you are trying to eat healthy or lose weight, pizza is usually not the best choice. Most commercial brand pizzas are loaded with fat and sodium. Toppings, such as ground beef, ham, pepperoni, sausage, or extra cheese just add to the calorie overload. With a little homemade effort, pizza can still be part of a healthy diet. Start with a handmade crust that incorporates whole wheat flour for additional fiber content. Make your own sauce to reduce added sugars. Then top it with fat free cheese and an assortment of sauteed veggies. This pizza tastes very similar to the veggie pizza at California Pizza Kitchen and is quite filling due to the fact that each serving contains 8g of fiber. Although goat cheese is not low fat, you don't need much at all because of its strong flavor and it is the perfect complement to the other ingredients. Of course this homemade pizza takes more time than calling for a delivery, but you can make the dough and sauce ahead of time. I have even cooked the vegetables the day before and refrigerated them so that I can throw the pizza together in no time at all. Even if you think veggie pizza is just not for you, I think you will be amazed at how delicious it can be. Feel free to change up the vegetables to suit your own preferences. Also, let kids help with the preparation for a great way to teach them about veggies they may have never seen.

Vegetable Pizza
serves 4

1 package yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp Splenda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp olive oil
up to 1 cup luke warm water

1 (14.5 oz) can tomato sauce
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp fennel seed
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp Splenda
1/8 tsp allspice

2 cups broccolini, stems trimmed
1/2 medium eggplant, diced
3 cups fresh spinach leaves
1/4 cup red onion
1/4 cup sliced black olives
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
2 tsp garlic cloves, minced
1 cup fat free shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup goat cheese crumbles
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Sprinkle yeast over 1/4 cup warm water and let stand for 10 minutes.
  2. In a food processor, process the flour, sugar, and salt for 6 seconds. Add the yeast and process for 10 seconds longer. Combine the oil and water and drizzle through the feed tube while the machine is running (Once the dough clumps around the blade, process for 30-40 more seconds. Dough should be a little sticky).
  3. Divide dough in half and store one ball of dough in the refrigerator or freezer for later use.
  4. Spray a 16" pizza pan with cooking spray. Press dough from center out until it reaches the edges. Bake for 10 minutes.
  5. For sauce, combine all sauce ingredients and mix well. Spread over baked pizza crust. Sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella cheese.
  6. For vegetables, spray a large non-stick skillet with cooking spray. Add garlic, spinach, onion, and eggplant and cook over medium-high heat until spinach is wilted. Add broccolini, mushrooms, and black olives and cook for 10 minutes until all vegetables are softened. 
  7. Top crust (and sauce and cheese) with cooked vegetables. Sprinkle with goat cheese. Return pizza to oven for 8-10 minutes.
***You will have extra sauce. You can heat it to use as a dipping sauce or refrigerate it for later use with the extra pizza dough.

Nutrition: (2 slices) 265 calories, 42g carbohydrate, 20g protein, 4.5g fat, 8g fiber
weight watchers points: 5
weight watchers plus points: 7

Sunday, April 17, 2011

PB & J the healthy way

Although typically known for being a childhood favorite, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a common  lunch item for adults as well. Most people don't think of this a high-fat, high-calorie food, which is misconception. There are many types of peanut butter available. Some are creamy, crunchy, organic, low-fat, all natural, or low sodium. While some varieties are better for you than others, a typical serving of any type clocks in at about 200 calories and 16g of fat per serving. A serving size is 2 tablespoons which is much less than most people use on a sandwich. Next you have to consider the nutrient content of fruit flavored jams. A standard 2 tablespoons will add 100 calories to your meal and contains 24g of sugar. In order to make a sandwich, an essential item is bread. There are so many different breads to choose from, but soft, white sandwich bread tends to be what people associate with peanut butter and jelly. Two slices of white bread average around 120 calories and contain only a small amount of fiber. If you stick to proper serving sizes, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich will contain at least 420 calories.

There is a way to lower these stats while still enjoying the reminiscent flavor. First, swap the high-fat peanut butter for a product called PB2. It is an all-natural peanut powder that has 85% of the fat calories removed. PB2 starts off in powder form and when you add water, it becomes creamy and delicious. It has only 45 calories and 1.5g of fat for each prepared 2 tablespoon serving. Next is a very simple substitution. Choose a sugar free variety of jam, which only contains 10 calories per tablespoon. My favorite is the Polaner brand. It is made with real fruit and contains 3g of fiber in each serving. Finally, choose a light wheat sandwich bread. There are several brands that have as few as 35 calories per slice. By using these alternative ingredients, you can have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with 135 calories and 15g of fiber. Kids will enjoy this healthy version as well.

PB2 and jelly sandwich
serves 1

2 slices light whole wheat bread
2 tbsp sugar free jam
2 tbsp PB2 prepared

Nutrition: 135 calories, 37g carbohydrate, 14g protein, 4g fat, 15g fiber
weight watchers points: 1
weight watchers plus points: 5

Click here or here to order PB2 powdered peanut butter. It also comes in chocolate!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Crab topped Mahi Mahi

Now that the warm weather and sunshine seems to have set in, all I can think about is going to the beach. Of course there is the sound of waves crashing, beautiful ocean views, sand between your toes, and sun-kissed skin. But even if none of those things existed, I think the fresh seafood is enough to leave me longing for a vacation on the coast. Since I don't have a trip planned within in the next few months, I decided that I could still re-create the cuisine. Mahi mahi is one of my favorite types of fish because it so light and flaky. It pairs great with any lemon butter sauce and, of course, crab meat. I found a recipe that made my mouth water and adapted it to meet my nutrition standards. The end result was every bit as amazing as a meal at the beach. The fish had the perfect texture, which was complemented with a lump crab topping, and finished with a lemon wine sauce. Not only is the flavor to die for, but this is a great recipe for anyone searching for a high protein, low carb entree. With my substitutions, you can feel like you are indulging for a little over 200 calories. 

Crab topped Mahi Mahi
adapted from Cake, Batter, and Bowl
serves 4

4 (4 oz) Mahi Mahi filets (or any other white fish)
8 oz. lump crab meat
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 large shallot, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp fat-free mayonnaise
2 tbsp egg beaters
1/4 tsp salt

lemon sauce
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp light butter
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp fat-free milk
1/8 tsp salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine crab meat, bread crumbs, shallot, garlic, mayonnaise, egg beaters, and 1/8 tsp salt. Mix well.
  3. Sprinkle mahi filets with remaining salt on both sides and place on baking sheet. Evenly top filets with crab mixture. Bake for 25 minutes or until fish is cooked through (center should be 145 degrees). 
  4. Turn broiler on and broil for 1 minute until crab topping is golden brown. 
  5. Meanwhile, make prepare lemon sauce by placing wine and lemon juice in a small sauce pan. Heat for 6-8 minutes over medium.
  6. Place butter in a separate sauce pan and melt over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth. Then add wine and lemon mixture and honey.
  7. Mix until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in milk and salt. Drizzle over cooked filets (You will have extra sauce).
Nutrition: 228 calories, 13g carbohydrate, 33g protein, 2g fat, 0g fiber
weight watchers points: 5
weight watchers plus points: 5
Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Nosh on Squash

I am pretty much always in the mood for fresh vegetables, but lately I have really been craving fresh summer vegetables. I love steamed or grilled yellow squash by itself so I figured it was be just as good with a few added ingredients, in order to make a casserole. This side dish recipe reminds me of the squash casserole at a local market/restaurant but I'm relatively sure that their version is far from low-fat. It seems that most vegetable casseroles contain very few actual vegetables and are smothered in cream soups, cheese, and other high calorie ingredients. I really liked the fact that the squash is the main ingredient in my recipe and its flavor is still distinct. The addition of cheese and greek yogurt really complemented the squash without overpowering it and the corn flakes provided a crunchy topping. I served this with grilled chicken tenders and sauteed turnip greens for a healthy, southern dinner. 

Cheesy Squash Casserole
serves 8

6 medium yellow squash, thinly sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup fat-free shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup fat-free plain greek yogurt
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup corn flakes

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 2-quart casserole dish.
  2. Boil squash and onions until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain.
  3. In a large bowl combine squash and onions, Parmesan, Cheddar, and yogurt. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
  4. Transfer mixture to prepared casserole dish. Top with corn flakes. Bake for 20 minutes.
Nutrition: 93 calories, 9g carbohydrate, 10g protein, 2g fat, 2g fiber
weight watchers points: 2
weight watchers plus points: 3

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Fresh Fruit Treat, Guilt-free and Sweet

Most of the dessert recipes that I post end up falling under the "seldom splurge" category. Sure, they are lighter than a typical sweet treat but they still contain too many calories and too much sugar to be considered "guilt-free". This dessert is more diet-friendly than most of the others and provides a large portion for only 110 calories. Farmers have reported that strawberries (and peaches) are reaching their peak ripeness ahead of schedule this year. That means that you can already find the red, juicy varieties in your grocery store. Strawberries are one of my all time favorite fruits so I decided to use them to create a sugar-free strawberry shortcake. I actually ran across the recipe on the back of a box of Truvia natural sweetener. I know that I tend to use Splenda in place of sugar in a lot of my recipes but that is mostly because granulated Splenda measures cup for cup like sugar, making it very easy to substitute. Otherwise, I like to use Truvia. The recipe called for a low-fat baking mix to make the shortcake. I used Carbquik because it is lower in calories and higher in fiber than other baking mixes but you could use Heart Healthy Bisquick for slightly higher calorie stats and less fiber. I loved so many things about this recipe. It was very quick and simple. It used only a few ingredients. It made 4 portions so there weren't a ton of leftovers to go to waste. The portions were quite large for a minimal amount of calories. And most of all, it was lightly sweet, fluffy, and absolutely delicious. This strawberry shortcake will definitely be a go-to summer dessert in my house.
Strawberry Shortcake
serves 4

1 pint fresh strawberries, sliced
6 packets Truvia
1 cup low fat baking mix
3 packets Truvia
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (or skim milk)
1/2 cup fat free Cool Whip
  1. Prepare fresh strawberries: rinse, hull and slice. Sprinkle 6 packets of Truvia onto strawberries. Stir and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  3. Mix together baking mix, 3 packets of Truvia, and milk. Stir until a soft dough forms. (You may have to add a couple more tablespoons of milk)
  4. Drop 4 spoonfuls of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 9-12 minutes until golden brown. Cool.
  5. Slice shortcakes in half and fill with strawberries and cool whip. Top with an additional layer of strawberries and cool whip.
Nutrition: (with Carbquik) 110 calories, 21g carbohydrate, 5g protein, 5g fat, 12g fiber
weight watchers points: 1
weight watchers plus points: 3

Nutrition: (with Heart Healthy Bisquick) 148 calories, 29g carbohydrate, 3g protein, 3g fat, 2g fiber
weight watchers points: 3
weight watchers points plus: 4
Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lightly Lemon

With the time change and Spring right around the corner, I can't help but dream of the fresh fruits that come with the warm weather. Since there is still some time before most fruits will reach their peak, I chose to use one that is available year round. I wanted to make a light dessert and decided that lemon bars would be the perfect selection. The crust is made from a mixture of whole wheat flour and oats. At first, I thought the addition of oats was a bit odd but they are actually what made crust so delicious. The filling had the perfect citrus flavor from using a combination of the lemon juice and zest. It used a combination of eggs and egg whites to make a light, fluffy texture. Just because this is a lighter version treat, does not mean that they are healthy or that anybody should devour the whole pan. On my blog, I like to refer to foods like this as a "seldom splurge". Overall, I thought this was a great dessert to kick off the season and everybody seemed to enjoy it just as much as I did. The boyfriend said they reminded him of a Krispy Kreme lemon filled donut. Not exactly what I was going for, but I'll take it.

Low-fat Lemon Bars
adapted from Our Scented Cottage
serves 16

1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup quick oats
3 tbsp butter

1 egg
1 egg white
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
juice and zest of 1 large lemon
powder sugar for dusting
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray. 
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, and oats. Using a pastry blender, add butter until mixture is crumbly. Press in bottom of baking dish and bake for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk together egg and egg white. Add sugar and beat until creamy. Add flour, baking powder, salt, and lemon. Whisk until smooth.
  4. Pour lemon mixture over pre-baked crust and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until center is set.
Nutrition: 125 calories, 24g carbohydrate, 2g protein, 3g fat, 1g fiber
weight watchers points: 3
weight watchers plus points: 4
Friday, March 11, 2011

Hello Portobello!

While brainstorming about what to make for dinner yesterday, I remembered a dish that I had made once before I started my blog. I couldn't remember the exact flavors of the Chicken Portobello Lasagna but I could recall that everybody seemed to enjoy the dish. It wasn't until I sat down at the computer to post this, that I realized the repetition of my recent entrees. Chicken, mushrooms, and pasta seem to have been on my mind lately. I promise I will change things up a bit but until then, I definitely encourage you to try this lasagna. It was creamy and delicious, and of course healthy too.

Chicken Portobello Lasagna
adapted from Southern Living
serves 6

1 (10 oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 tbsp light butter
3 (6 oz) boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced
1 (8 oz) package sliced fresh baby Portobello mushrooms
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 can 98% fat-free cream of mushroom soup
1 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups fat-free shredded cheddar cheese
6 whole wheat lasagna noodles, cooked al dente
3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Melt butter in large skillet. Add chicken, mushrooms, and garlic. Saute on medium-high heat for 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked thoroughly.
  3. In a large bowl, combine soup, yogurt, salt, and pepper. Add spinach and chicken mixture. Fold in cheddar cheese.
  4. Spoon 1/4 mixture into baking dish. Cover with 2 lasagna noodles. Repeat layers twice; top with remaining mixture. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  5. Bake covered for 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 10 additional minutes until bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Nutrition: 276 calories, 21g carbohydrate, 38g protein, 4g fat, 3g fiber
weight watchers points: 6
weight watchers plus points: 7
Sunday, February 27, 2011

Back to Bikini Tetrazzini

In a recent issue of Southern Living magazine, I came across a section of chicken tetrazzini recipes. There were several ideas giving a twist to the classic dish. They all looked delicious but the chicken marsala take stood out to me. Everyone in my family loves Chicken Marsala, a common Italian entree, so I figured this was sure to be a hit. I worked my "calorie-slashing" magic on the ingredient list in order to lighten up the dish. The result was wonderful. The sauce was creamy with a hint of red wine flavor. It was the perfect compliment to the tender pieces of grilled chicken, sauteed mushrooms, and green peas. The original recipe calls for the addition of prosciutto, but I left it out since I don't do the whole red meat thing.  I can't imagine that the pasta could have been any more flavorful. This is a keeper.

Chicken Marsala Tetrazzini 
adapted from Southern Living
serves 8

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
8 oz uncooked vermicelli pasta (Spaghetti or Angel Hair will work too)
2 tbsp light butter
10 oz. light Alfredo sauce
1 can 98% fat-free cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup Marsala
12 oz fresh sliced mushrooms
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

seasoning mixture for chicken
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground pepper
1/2 tsp dried Oregano
1/2 tsp dried Thyme
1/2 tsp dried Parsley
1/4 tsp dried Marjoram
1/4 tsp garlic powder
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x7 baking dish with cooking spray. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
  2. Combine the ingredients for the seasoning mixture. Lightly mist the chicken breasts with olive oil (or regular) cooking spray and sprinkle each side with the mixture. Grill until thoroughly done. Cut grilled chicken into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Melt butter in a large skillet, add mushrooms and saute for 5 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, stir together alfredo sauce, cream of mushroom soup, chicken broth, and Marsala. 
  5. Add chicken, mushrooms, peas, and 1/2 cup parmesan.
  6. Spoon mixture into baking dish and top with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Bake for 35 minutes.

Nutrition: 286 calories, 31g carbohydrate, 22g protein, 9g fat, 5g fiber
weight watchers points: 6
weight watchers plus points: 8

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sinless Cinnamon Buns

I found a recipe a few years ago for homemade cinnamon rolls. They looked a bit complicated but I was up for the challenge. That was before I had a Kitchen-aid stand mixer and the cinnamon rolls turned into quite an ordeal. Hours upon hours later, when they came out of the oven, the smell was to die for. I did it. I actually made huge, gooey homemade cinnamon rolls. They were beautiful and the reactions from my taste-testers were even more satisfying. My parents claimed them to be the best cinnamon rolls they had ever eaten. My roommate requested them for her birthday "cake". The boyfriend got a care package in the mail before finals, full of cinnamon love. They were definitely a hit. But as far as their nutritional content, quite the miss. They were loaded with sugar, butter, and zillions of calories. Sure, its ok to ignore that information for a special occasion but nobody should eat these pastries on a regular basis.

Cinnamon is one of my favorite spices and the idea os cinnamon rolls is definitely appealing. I decided that I could create a treat that exhibits the same flavors, without all of the excess fat. I'm not sure what made me give this idea a try but I have been making these for years now and they always kick a cinnamon roll craving. Everything is cooked to begin with so this is great for a hurried breakfast treat or an after-dinner dessert. It may sound a bit odd, but I encourage you to try it at least once. While it is obviously not going to be a food court style pastry, each one only has 56 calories compared to the typical 800+.

Cinnamon Buns
serves 2

1 light wheat hamburger bun
2 tbsp fat-free cream cheese
2 tsp fat-free butter (plus a little extra for spreading)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp Splenda
Cinnamon and Splenda for sprinkling
  1. Lay hamburger bun halves, inside facing upwards. Lightly spread butter over each half and sprinkle with cinnamon and Splenda.
  2. Lightly toast in toaster oven. (This isn't necessary but it gives the bun added texture and structure).
  3. In a small microwavable bowl or ramekin, combine cream cheese, butter, and vanilla. Microwave for 15 seconds. Stir until smooth. Add Splenda and stir until combined.
  4. Spread half of the cream cheese mixture on each bun. Enjoy!
Nutrition: 56 calories, 10g carbohydrate, 4g protein, 1g fat, 2g fiber
weight watchers points: 1
weight watchers plus points: 2

Friday, February 11, 2011

Creamy Crock-Pot Chicken

Lately I have been in the middle of a million projects, so the crock pot has been quite handy. I can still create healthy dishes at home, without spending all of my free time cooking. I was browsing through my mom's recipe book that I made from her collection of recipe clippings, when I came across this recipe. I immediately remembered my mom making this dish when I was younger. I knew I liked it then so I figured I would like it now as well. Back then I had no idea what was in it, nor did I care; but, this time the recipe needed a few modifications. I was a bit worried that some of the flavor would be sacrificed by using fat-free cream cheese, light butter, and reduced-fat soup. There definitely no need for concern. The meal turned out amazing. The chicken was tender and the sauce was rich and creamy. You can serve this over wide egg noodles or rice. I added steamed broccoli on serve. Another great week night meal.

Chicken and Mushrooms
serves 6

6 (4 oz) boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp light butter
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp dry Italian dressing mix
1 can 98% fat-free Cream of Mushroom soup
6 oz. fat-free cream cheese, cut into cubes
1/2 cup dry Sherry
1 small onion, chopped
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup frozen green peas
  1. Wash chicken and pat dry. Brush with butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Place chicken in slow cooker. Sprinkle Italian dressing mix on top. Cover and cook for 5-6 hours.
  3. One hour before serving, mix soup, cream cheese, Sherry, and onion in a saucepan. Cook and stir until smooth. Spoon over chicken.
  4. Add mushrooms and peas. Cover and cook for 30 minutes longer.
  5. Serve over rice or egg noodles if desired.
Nutrition: (without noodles) 200 calories, 10g carbohydrate, 29g protein, 5g fat
5 weight watchers points
5 weight watchers plus points 

Nutrition: (with 1/2 cup cooked egg noodles) 300 calories, 29g carbohydrate, 33g protein, 6g fat, 3g fiber
6 weight watchers points
8 weight watchers plus points

Monday, February 7, 2011

Hearty Meaty Baked Ziti

Instead of making the typical Super Bowl party foods, I decided on a hearty one-dish meal. My recipe for Baked Ziti is healthy and filling. Plus, reheated leftovers are delicious. In order to provide nutritious stats for this pasta dish, I made some of my typical swaps. I used ground turkey breast, fat-free cottage cheese, light pasta sauce, and fat-free mozzarella in place of these high calorie varieties. Baked ziti is incredibly easy to make; you don't even have to boil the noodles before baking. This would be perfect for a quick week night meal. I will definitely be making this again soon.

Also, for all of you weight watchers, I will be adding the weight watchers plus points to each nutrition analysis beginning with this recipe. Over time I will be going back to previous posts to add this calculation as well. Hope this helps!
Baked Ziti
serves 8

1 26 oz. jar pasta sauce (I used light Ragu)
1 1/2 cups water
15 oz. fat-free cottage cheese
2 cups shredded fat-free mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 lb ground turkey breast, cooked and crumbled
8 oz. uncooked penne (I used Ronzoni Smart taste)
2 garlic cloves, minced
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine pasta sauce, water, cottage cheese, 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, turkey, and penne.
  3. Pour into prepared baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 55 minutes.
  4. Remove dish from oven. Sprinkle with additional cup of mozzarella and bake uncovered for 5 minutes.

Nutrition: 276 calories, 32g carbohydrate, 34g protein, 2g fat, 5g fiber
weight waters points: 5
weight watchers + points: 7
Thursday, February 3, 2011

Man Food Make-Over

Ok I am going to be totally honest. This is the first recipe that I have posted without trying myself. I love the challenge of making a traditionally unhealthy dish more nutritious, mainly because it means that no foods are completely off limits. With modification, almost any meal can be guilt-free. For example, the sound of "fettucine alfredo" is very appealing to me. The fat and calories, not so much, which is fine because I know that I can make a tasty, healthy version. Now when I hear "red beans and rice", I have no desire to make-over this dish. It's just not my kind of food, healthy or not. While we were in New Orleans for New Year's Eve, the boyfriend decided that he is quite fond of the cajun cuisine. We bought a red beans and rice box dinner mix in a little shop so that I could make it for him back at home. I made it the first time using cajun sausage, and he loved. Actually everyone who tried it seemed to enjoy the spicy flavors. My mom, like myself, didn't think this type of food was her thing. Well she was braver than me and tried it. She was surprised that she really liked the dish. Using the pork sausage, it wasn't the healthiest meal ever.

The last time I was visiting the boyfriend in Auburn, we decided instead of going out to eat, we would spend the money on groceries for me to cook. That way he would have plenty of leftovers throughout the week. He decided on lettuce wraps, mexican lasagna, and red beans and rice. I was a bit surprised when he suggested that we use smoked turkey sausage in place of the pork, which saved 110 calories per serving (so proud of him!). We bought the Zatarain's box mix which was made of basically the same ingredients as the mix we purchased in New Orleans. This was very easy to make as I just threw it all in the crock pot. The beans did have to soak overnight and cook for about an hour but that's really not any work. Since the smoked turkey sausage did not have any cajun flavor, I sauteed it with ground red pepper and red pepper flakes. I swapped brown rice for white rice to add additional fiber to the beans. The final verdict: The boyfriend loved it and decided it was every bit as good as the pork sausage version. With all of the positive reviews, I might just have to try out the next batch.

Red Beans and Rice
serves 13
1 box Zatarain's red beans and rice seasoning mix
16 oz. link Butterball smoked turkey sausage, chopped into 1/2" pieces
1 pound dry red kidney beans
6.5 cups cooked whole grain brown rice
  1. Spray large pan with cooking spray and saute sausage pieces until done.
  2. Follow cooking directions on package of red beans. (I like to soak them overnight before cooking)
  3. Combine seasoning mix with cold water and then empty the mixture, sausage, and beans into the crock pot and cook over low for 4-6 hours.
  4. Serve over cooked rice.
Nutrition: (per serving with 1/2 cup cooked rice) 307 calories, 50g carbohydrate, 16g protein, 4g fat, 7g fiber, 5 weight watchers points

Monday, January 31, 2011

Mushroom Madness

Nutritionally speaking, homemade meals prepared with fresh ingredients are always the best way to go. But the time it takes to go to the grocery store and create a gourmet meal is not always available. In these, instances many people turn to fast food to solve their time dilemma. Diet Disaster. While I would never advocate for eating frozen meals as part of an everyday healthy lifestyle, most freezer dinners are much better than the local burger joint. I always keep a few stashed away for busy nights and I have to admit there are a few I even enjoy. One of my favorite lines is the Lean Cuisine Market Creations. These gourmet-inspired meals come in a bag and are steamed in the microwave. There is no watery sauce, or rubbery meat, typical of many frozen dishes. They actually don't taste frozen at all. I have tried several of the varieties but my favorite is the Mushroom Tortelloni. The shells are stuffed with portobello mushrooms and cheese and are placed in a rich sauce made of sun-dried tomatoes, green peas, and red peppers. The meal is not huge for 280 calories but I find it to be pretty filling, especially if you add a side salad. I'm not crazy about the long ingredient list but this tortelloni is quite flavorful for a 5 minute preparation. When I think about the quality of a frozen meal, I ask myself if I had created this dish, would I be proud to serve it to guests? The answer to this one is YES. In fact, I might just try to recreate a similar dish. I'll be sure to let you know how it turns out. Check out the Lean Cuisine website to see the other Market creation varieties.
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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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