Friday, April 27, 2012

Cheese Tortellini & Zucchini Ribbons in Brown Butter

I needed a super quick dinner the other night and this delicious little goodie fit the bill!  I had just finished at the gym, needed to shop for the ingredients, got home & showered, and THEN started making it and I was eating within 20 minutes!
These flavors came together so nicely and it was SO good, you will not even feel like you’re eating healthy.  But you are…and it’s pasta…with cheese in it…cooked in butter…with more cheese on top.  You’re welcome.
1 pound of fresh, frozen or boxed cheese tortellini (any flavor filling would be great, really)
4 T butter (I actually used Smart Balance with Omega 3 and it was perfect)
2 medium shallots, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 small/medium zucchini (thinly sliced – use either a veggie peeler or a mandolin, and slice lengthwise)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp grated nutmeg
½ tsp fresh ground pepper
½ cup grated Parmesan
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste

Bring a large saucepan of water to boil; salt if preferred.  Cook the tortellini following the package directions.  Tip*:  these do not take long.  Try to time it so that you’re draining the pasta when the below ingredients are almost done (they only take about 6 minutes).

In the meantime, melt butter in a large skillet over med/high heat.  Let it cook until it just begins to turn brown (about 1 ½ minutes).  See the slight brown color below:

Add the shallots, garlic and zucchini and sauté, continuing to stir, until the zucchini just begin to soften (about 3 minutes).

Add the tomatoes, salt, nutmeg and pepper.  Stir and then cook until the tomatoes just start to wilt. 

Stir in the drained pasta, Parmesan, and red pepper.  Toss to coat.  Sprinkle more Parmesan and red pepper to taste.

Isn't it so pretty???  And...Yum!

Serves 4 – 1 serving=approx. 1 ½ cup
Calories 330 / Carbs 47g / Fat 11g / Protein 12g / Fiber 9g / Sodium 1344mg

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Chicken Tortilla Soup

It has been cold and rainy here in the East when we are normally enjoying warmth and sunshine so I decided to take advantage of the weather and make some soup!  There’s just something about a bowl of hot soup on a yucky, rainy day, right?

This is a great recipe that you can adjust to your tastes and it comes together so easily that you can make it during your busy week, too.  AND there are so few calories, you can have TWO bowls and not feel guilty.

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and diced (I used rotisserie chicken breast, to save time)
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp chili powder
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp sea salt
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
½ cup onion, diced
¼ cup green bell pepper, diced
½ cup red bell pepper, diced
1 T roasted Poblano pepper, seeded and diced (you can also use fresh or canned Jalapeno if you prefer.  The flavor of the Poblano is so yummy, though, so get one and try it soon!)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (10 oz) Rotel tomatoes with green chilies
6 cups low sodium, fat free chicken broth
1 ½ T tomato paste
½ can (15 oz) seasoned black beans, drained
1 can (11 oz) corn, drained
1 T cornmeal (I borrowed this trick from Pioneer Woman)

Optional Toppings:
Tortilla strips, shredded cheese, avocado, sour cream…I could go on…

If you do not have a gas stovetop, crank your oven up to broil and place the Poblano or fresh Jalapeno pepper onto a baking sheet and char the outside.  If you do have a gas stovetop, just place the pepper right on top of the burner and char the outside.  Cool a bit and remove the charred parts and then de-seed and dice it.  Freeze any you don’t use.  If you choose to use canned jalapeno, just add to the soup at the same time as the corn/beans.

This is what it looks like charred; pretty right?:

In a small dish, mix the cumin, chili powder, garlic powder and sea salt.  Set aside for sprinkling.

In a med/large Dutch oven or saucepan, sauté the veggies in the olive oil.  Sprinkle with a little of the seasoning you made and continue to sauté until the onions are translucent.

Add the rest of the seasoning and ingredients (except cornmeal) and stir well.

Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer.  Simmer, uncovered for 30-45 minutes (the longer the better, of course!).  After about 25 minutes, mix the cornmeal with a little bit of water to make a loose paste.  Stir into the soup and continue to simmer. 

Ladle into a bowl and top with your favorite toppings.

Look at this yummy bite!  A little bit spicy and a lotta bit DELISH!

Serves 4
Calories 226 / Carbs 25g / Fat 5g / Protein 18g / Fiber 7g / Sodium 1384mg

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Grilled Feta Turkey Burgers

A few posts ago, I raved about my new found love of ground turkey when I made Turkey Meatloaf.  I decided to try another recipe and am happy to say that I now have TWO ground turkey recipes that I absolutely love!
Recently, I was having a craving for feta and decided to try to incorporate their great flavor in a burger.  This recipe is probably more of a Greek Burger because I decided to throw in some capers (you could sub kalamata olives, too) for another layer of flavor.  The result was fan-freaking-tastic!
If you’re not a fan of ground turkey (neither was I until now!), you could also use lean ground beef.  Either way, be sure that you are buying lean.  Remember that just because it’s ground turkey does not mean it’s lean.  Some ground turkey is much higher in fat that ground beef.  Check your labels!

1 lb Lean Ground Turkey (try to get at least 93% lean; 99% is the best!)
½ cup reduced fat feta cheese, crumbled
4 T non-pareil capers
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried rosemary
2 tsp minced garlic
4 T fresh parsley, chopped
½ cup frozen spinach, thawed and drained OR 1 cup fresh spinach,chopped
2 T chicken broth, reserved
Optional:Buns (or whole wheat pitas is a great option!)
Tzatziki Sauce
Preheat your grill to med/high.

In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients, except chicken broth.  If the meat mixture looks dry, try sprinkling a little bit of the chicken broth at a time until you get the right consistency.  You should be able to form a patty and not have it fall apart.

Form 4 patties (they will be large) and place on the hot grill.  Grill for approximately 7 minutes on each side, but make sure that the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees before taking them off the grill.

Slap some yummy Tzatziki Sauce on your rolls or right on top of the burger and EAT it up!

Just LOOK at all of that delicious goodness inside!!  These babies are DE- LISH…If you’re anything like me, you’ll be sad when they’re gone…sniff.

Serves 4 (1 serving = 1 burger)
Calories 158 / Carbs 2g / Fat 3g / Protein 30g / Fiber 1g / Sodium 580mg

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Grilled Marinated Shrimp

I think I’ve touched on a few of my favorite meals, but my absolute favorite food is of the crustacean variety:  Shrimp, Crab and Lobster.  This wonderful recipe incorporates shrimp and everyone that I have made this for absolutely loves it.
There is just something super delicious about this marinade when it hits the grill and that smoky flavor gets all over it.  I wish I could eat it all by myself, but alas...

I have adapted this recipe from one I found online by reducing the amount of olive oil and making a few additional changes.Ingredients:
4 T olive oil
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
Juice of 1 lemon or lime
1 T Tabasco Sauce
1 T Franks Hot Sauce (or another of your choice)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T tomato paste (you can also sub ketchup…sounds funny, but it works!)
1 T dried oregano
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp ground black pepper
2 ½ lbs large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Skewers for grilled (soak in water for 20 mins to keep from burning)

Mix all of the ingredients, excluding shrimp in a large plastic bag or glass container.  Reserve about ¼ cup for basting during grilling.
Add shrimp and mix thoroughly.  Seal and place in the fridge for about 2 hours (not too long or the lemon/lime juice will “cook” the shrimp).

Remove from fridge and skewer the shrimp.  Discard any remaining marinade.

Preheat grill to med/high heat and spray your grill with a nonstick spray.

Place shrimp skewers onto hot grill and cook for about 2 minutes.  Flip the skewers over and continue cooking until no longer pink – no more than 2-3 more minutes. 

Remove from grill and serve!  We had it with brown rice medley and grilled asparagus - YUM!

Serves 4 (I have approximated the calories by removing most of the marinade as it is poured off before grilling)
Nutrition:  Calories 175 / Carbs 3g / Fat 6g / Protein 21g / Fiber 0g / Sodium 731mg

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Chicken Sausage & Veggie Pasta

This was a super quick meal that will save you time (fast!) and worry (low calorie dinner!) during the week.  It came together and was on the table in less than 30 minutes.  And it was SO friend's girls both went back for seconds!
You could really mix it up and add different and/or more veggies if you prefer; this is just what I had on hand.  Delicious!
1 package Italian flavored chicken sausage (usually an 8pk; and I use the 90 cal sausages from Costco)
2 cups dry Dreamfields Penne Rigate Pasta
3 cups, chopped broccoli
1 cup red bell pepper, sliced
½ cup fat free Zesty Italian Dressing
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (more or less depending on taste)
Cook pasta according to directions adding broccoli in the last 5 minutes of boiling.
Slice chicken sausage.  In a large high sided sauté pan, cook chicken sausage until browned and add red bell pepper.  Next, add Italian dressing and stir. 
Drain the pasta and broccoli and add it to the chicken sausage and stir.
Serve with grated parmesan and red pepper flakes.

Serves 4 / Per Serving:  Calories 438 / Carbs 52g / Fat 12g / Protein 33g / Fiber 8g / Sodium 1308mg

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Spicy Roasted Golden Beets

I have very few words to say when it comes to this recipe.  Basically, this is how it went down:  Washed the beets, peeled them, seasoned them, threw them in the oven, went to work out, returned to the kitchen, pulled them out and then…I ate them right off the baking pan before I even got a chance to put them on a plate.

I love beets…and I don’t even know when it happened.  It was probably in one of my hungry eating frenzies when I first tried them and you know how everything tastes good when you’re hungry?  But at some point I must have gone back for more and I still liked them…And so began my love affair…

I was looking for a baked beet recipe and I came across this one on the food blog For the Love of Food and I am so happy that I did.  Hubby had to find these golden beauties at Wegmans for me because my local store had only the pretty purple ones.

2 bunches of medium golden beets, tops trimmed and quartered
2 Tbs coconut oil (you could probably use olive, too…I just happened to have coconut.  If your coconut oil is solid, just melt it in the microwave for about 10 seconds)
1/2 teaspoon cumin 
1/2 teaspoon paprika
a pinch of Chile powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Remove the stems from the beets and wash them.  I don’t think the previous author peeled hers, but mine looked kind of ratty so I did.  So if you choose to, peel them.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Toss beets with oil and lay flat on sheet pan.  Sprinkle on the spices and toss again. 
Roast for 30 minutes, or until tender.  Sprinkle with some additional salt and pepper, if desired.  Serve warm.
They never had a chance…
Serves 4:  Calories 103 / Carbs 8g / Fat 7g / Protein 2g/ Fiber 2g / Sodium 143mg

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Carrot Cake

I love Easter!  It is my favorite holiday after Christmas and Thanksgiving.  I think it might be because I associate these three holidays with family gatherings and I absolutely love when our families get together and sit around the table for great food and laughs.

I was looking for a healthy version of dessert for our Easter meal and decided to mess around with a carrot cake recipe.  What followed can only be described as a VERY wonderful surprise.  I could not believe how tasty and moist this cake turned out to be.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup flaked sweetened coconut
3 T ground flaxseed meal
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
½ cup fat free buttermilk
2 tbsp canola oil
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups grated carrots, peeled
10 oz. can crushed pineapple in juice, drained  (Update from first post:  added more pineapple!)

Instructions:Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, flaxseed meal, coconut, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; stir well with a whisk.
In a medium bowl, combine buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla; stir well. Add grated carrots and pineapple; mix well. Fold wet ingredients with the dry ingredients.

Spoon batter into a Bundt pan coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 350° for about 50-55 minutes, until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and cake is pulling away from sides of pan. Cool cake completely on a wire rack.
Look at how pretty it is!

Below, here we are making the healthy carrot cake, UN...or shall we say LESS healthy…by adding The Pioneer Woman’s Best-Frosting-I’ve-Ever-Had…hey, it’s a celebration!  And it truly is AH-MAH-ZING frosting…so just go on and make it; you will thank me.

Serves 16 / Per Serving:  Calories 162 / Carbs 29g / Fat 4g / Protein 3g / Fiber 2g / Sodium 327mg

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Honey Dijon Chicken

My girlfriends and I love getting together to catch up and visit and we try to do this pretty regularly.  It’s what I like to call Girls Night In.  In the past, it always centered around great food, but with no thought to calories.  Since we are trying to be conscious, we now have a chance to try lots of great HEALTHY recipes.  Still tons of fun, but with a lot less guilt!
Recently, one of my friends asked me to come over for dinner one night after my gym session; no need to bring anything, just come hungry and ready to eat (this is pretty much me ANY time...) When I got the call, I was all “Wait…I’m sorry…did you just ask me to come over and eat dinner that I don’t have to cook???  Um, yes please!!!”  She is even one of those friends who could care less that I was stinky, yucky and uh…fresh from the gym – love her!
When I got to her house, it smelled divine!  And let me tell you, this was some damn good chicken and it was super easy!  Well, SHE said it was super easy to make…for my part, it sure was super easy to eat.
1 package boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tsp garlic powder
½ cup honey
½ cup prepared mustard (any will do:  Dijon, Brown Spicy, etc.)
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp paprika
Salt and pepper to season

Preheat oven to 350.

In a small bowl, whisk the honey, mustard, basil and paprika and set aside.
Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray and place the chicken breasts in it.  Season the chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
Pour the sauce over the chicken and be sure to coat each breast.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove foil and baste the chicken with the sauce.  Bake for an additional 15 minutes or until slightly browned on top and all the juices run clear.  Doesn't that look so yummy!??
She served it with rice and asparagus and the sauce from the chicken is great on the rice and veggies.  Don’t let it go to waste!
Serving Size:  4 oz
Calories 277 / Carbs 37g / Fat 1g / Protein 24g / Fiber 1g / Sodium 642mg