Sunday, December 30, 2012

Greek Cucumber Appetizers

Hi!  I'm back!  How was your holiday??  I had such a great time with my mom and now she's gone and back home, far, far away in Maine, boo.  We always have so much fun together; my mom is always ready and willing to do just about anything.  I always joke that I could wake her up at 3:00am and ask her if she wanted to go to Timbuktu and her response would always be:  "Sure!"  One of our favorite things to do is to cook and I know that I got my culinary adoration from her.  My childhood memories are filled with her making something fabulous in the kitchen; she's a great cook and now that I'm older we're still making kitchen/cooking memories.  I miss her and hate that we live so far away from each other; I can't wait until we're together again.  Hubby enjoys having her here, too - I'm so lucky about that since she's been here for the better part of the month...not sure the majority of folks would be so understanding about their in-laws staying that long!

So, do you have big plans for New Year's Eve?  We're headed to an Ugly NYE party and I can't wait to debut my horrible outfit...I feel kind of bad for saying that...I mean, I bought it at my local Goodwill store, which means at some point someone actually wore it, right?  I'll try to forget that part.

It can sometimes be hard to bring healthy appetizers to get-togethers because no one wants to be the one who brought the "healthy stuff."  So, that's why you need to get creative and disguise the fact that your delicious creation is actually healthy...and most importantly it's got to be tasty!

This is absolutely one of those recipes.  Easy to throw together, crazy good, and definitely a crowd pleaser.
1 English cucumber, cut into twelve 1" pieces (I stripped some of the peel off for prettiness)
1/2 cup hummus (I had Athenos Greek on hand; use your favorite kind!)
1/4 cup crumbled feta
8 kalamata olives, chopped
8 cherry tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp dried oregano

1)  Using a spoon or melon baller, scoop out part of the cucumber like so:

2)  Spoon about 2tsp of hummus into each of the cucumbers.
3)  Sprinkle some crumbled feta onto each cucumber.
4)  Now, place some olives onto each, followed by chopped tomatoes.
5)  Finally, sprinkle oregano onto each.

That's it!  Aren't they so pretty?

Here's the best part:  They are only 42 calories EACH!!

Yes, you read that right...

Serves 6 (2 each - note, nutrition below is for each cucumber)
Calories 42 / Carbs 5g / Fat 2g / Protein 1g / Fiber 1g /Sodium 120mg

By the way, you don't even have to have a party to bring these to...throw them together and eat them without sharing! It's up to you!

Whatever you do, I hope you're happy and that 2013 brings you joy and health!

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Chicken Parmesan Wrap

A Healthy Makeover is celebrating its 100th post!  How fitting that I end 2012 on that note!  Even the picture of this recipe is a little Holiday-ish, wouldn't you say???
I’m going to take a break for the holiday so that I can spend time enjoying my mom while she’s here and to just chill and really enjoy the holiday like it should be.  We have been very busy in the kitchen this month and especially the last few days with all of the cookies we’ve made to share and send along to our family.  I am so blessed to be able to spend time with her!  My bestie was also here to visit and we were cookie makin' fools!
Here are a few pics of our creations (not healthy makeovers ;o):

So you can see that we were busy and tired!  We needed an easy and quick dinner to sustain us...last night we made this awesome recipe that was sort of a thrown together kind of thing.  We were short on time but wanted to eat something healthy and hearty.  These concoctions really are the best kinds of recipes, aren't they?  No expectations other than throwing a bunch of ingredients together - which separately are delicious on their own -but together just brings them to a whole ‘nother level!
I’ve seen a few recipes like this online and just decided to utilize a few ideas and come up with something for you – and here it is!  I'd say it’s probably an adaptation from this recipe I found at which looks yummy, too!
So easy and quick!  And feel free to add any of your favorite veggies; the ideas are limitless!
2 cups cooked and sliced chicken breast (I used Trader Joe’s ready-to-eat grilled chicken)
1 cup (plus ½ cup for topping, set aside) of your favorite marinara sauce
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1 cup frozen spinach
½ cup frozen pepper mix
4 whole grain tortillas
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (or grated parmesan)
Olive oil spray or Pam
1 cup grated low fat mozzarella cheese

1.    Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2.    Sauté chicken, 1 cup marinara sauce, basil, oregano, and garlic powder in a medium saucepan pan and heat until simmering.

3.    Stir in spinach and peppers and bring to simmer.

4.    Remove from heat.
5.    Warm tortillas in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds so that they are just a little bit warm.
6.    Scoop chicken mixture onto one side of a tortilla. 
7.    Sprinkle a little bit of parmesan cheese onto the mixture then roll up the tortilla, folding in the sides as you roll; you don't want any goodness to seep out while it's cooking!

8.    Place seam side down in a small baking dish sprayed with Pam.  Repeat with each tortilla.
9.    Spray the top of each wrap with cooking spray.
10. Bake for 20 minutes until browned.
11. Remove from oven, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and bake for another 5 minutes until cheese is melted.

12. Meanwhile, warm the remaining marinara sauce.
13. Remove the wraps from the oven and spoon a little bit of marinara sauce onto each wrap.

Serve!  Don't they look so yummy??

Serves 4
Calories 345 / Carbs 30g / Fat 9g / Protein 30g / Fiber 6g / Sodium 1136mg

To read how I’ve planned for a healthy holiday season, please read my Journey.  A great plan is all you need!  Oh, and part of that plan is not to eat all of the cookies we baked!
I want to wish each and every one of you a VERY Happy Holiday and I hope that 2013 brings you only love, peace, health, and happiness!  2012 has been such an amazing year and I have loved sharing a little piece of my life with you.  Thank you for stopping by A Healthy Makeover – see you in the New Year!  XO

Monday, December 17, 2012

Coconut Curry Chicken

I’m a little bit embarrassed to admit this about myself…get ready to be shocked:  before this recipe I had never had curry before.  Ever.

I really don’t have a good excuse.  It could be that whenever the opportunity presented itself, there were other options that appealed to me more?  All I can say is that I’m sorry.  I’m sorry delicious curry, that I neglected to enjoy you for so long.  I’m sorry friends, for doubting you every time you told me how delicious it really is.  I’m sorry Hubby, for not introducing you to this wonderfulness, hence denying you/us this taste sensation.

Okay, now that the apologies are over, I’m here to tell you that this dish will absolutely be in my dinner rotation from this moment forward.  AND, I’m breaking out!  I’m going to try other curry recipes, too!  Stay tuned...

A friend of mine actually makes this a few times a month for her family and for a year she’s been telling me to try it.  Again, my friend, I’m sorry for not listening.

I adapted this recipe from the one she uses at; I also took her advice and added some veggies.
If you are like me, some kind of freak of nature that hasn’t had curry before, try this recipe.  Like tonight.  I’m serious.

  • 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 T curry powder
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2/3 of a 14 ounce can coconut milk (you can also use light coconut milk for even fewer calories; my grocery store didn’t have it this time)
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed, diced tomatoes
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (you can omit this)
  • 2 cups cauliflower, rough chopped
  • 2 cup fresh baby spinach
1.  Season chicken with salt & pepper and set aside.
2.  In a medium/large pot, heat oil and curry powder together and let marry for about 3 minutes.  This is key to get great flavor.

3.  Add the onions and garlic and stir to coat…sauté on low for about 5 minutes until the onions soften.


4.  Add the chicken and sauté until no longer pink; about 7 minutes.  It’s okay to not cook until all the way done as it’s going to simmer for 40 minutes.

5.  Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, coconut milk and sugar, and stir.

6.  Simmer slightly covered over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for approximately 40 minutes. This will thicken the sauce.
7.  In the last 10 minutes, add the cauliflower and stir.

8.  You can also add the spinach at this time; I didn’t add it to my whole pot because Hubby is not a fan…
9.  Remove from heat and serve over rice.

**My notes for slight changes that I’ll make next time (which absolutely are not necessary to improve this dish, just as a variation):  I like spice and I probably won’t add the sugar next time.  Subsequently, I will try adding a tablespoon or two of chili garlic sauce/paste for a spicier version.

Serves 4
Calories 370 / Carbs 23g / Fat 19g / Protein 29g / Fiber 7g / Sodium 1308mg

Friday, December 14, 2012

Whole Grain Waffles with Almond Butter and Berries

Here’s a quick (and hearty) healthy breakfast for you!
I am always rushing in the morning before work…mostly because I prefer to sleep at little longer than get up early.  So my morning routine does not include breakfast or my beloved coffee before I get to work.  However, I’m not about to skip the most important meal of the day, so it takes some pre-planning on my part.  My go-to breakfast is an egg white veggie omelet with a cheese wedge on either a low calorie English muffin or one of those handy 100 calorie flat rounds (only 186 total calories!).  But after years and years of eating this almost every day (<---only a slight exaggeration...), a gal needs to mix it up a bit!
I wanted to keep whole grains in the forefront, but also wanted to have some protein so I decided to try this little guy as a backup to my old faithful.  It has a few more calories but it’s very hearty and heart healthy.  In addition, I can throw everything into individual little baggies and throw it together when I get to work...AND this keeps me satisfied until lunch!
  • 2 whole grain frozen waffles like Kashi
  • 2 T Almond or Peanut Butter
  • ½ cup frozen berries
  • 2 tsp honey
1.    Toast your waffles
2.    Spread almond or peanut butter on each
3.    Top each waffle with berries
4.    Drizzle honey on each waffle
5.    Consume!
Serves 1
Calories 408 / Carbs 51g / Fat 21g / Protein 14g / Fiber 8g / Sodium 391mg

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Creamy Garlic Spaghetti Squash

As you know, I’ve been trying to lessen the amount of pasta and rice I’ve been eating and I just have to say, “Thank goodness for cauliflower and spaghetti squash!”  Seriously, if you haven’t been experimenting with these fellas, you really should be!  Or…how about this?? I’ll keep trying the experimenting part, and you just keep trying the recipes I post!  Deal??  Great!

I loved this one for spaghetti squash and happily, so did Hubby!  I’m so proud of him for trying so many different things this year.  He’s definitely not a veggie eater so when he breaks out of his routine, it’s a pretty big deal.

I have been hungry for pasta lately, and not just any kind of pasta, I wanted it covered in cream sauce, mmmmmm….I had my fingers crossed for this experiment and luckily for me (and for you, right?) it turned out deliciously!

Bonus:  short ingredient list and easy, easy, easy.

·         1 medium/large spaghetti squash, cooked and shredded (see below)
·         2 shallots, diced
·         2 garlic cloves, minced
·         ¾ to 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
·         ¼ to 1/3 cup fat free half and half
·         ½ cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese (whichever you have on hand)
·         2 T fresh parsley (you can also use dried if you have it; 1 T)
·         Salt and Pepper to taste

1.    You can prepare the spaghetti squash one of two ways:  1)  Bake, cut side down in your oven at 350 for 45 minutes or 2) Microwave, cut side down for about 10-12 minutes.  Cool enough to handle, remove seeds, and then using a fork, shred the squash.

2.    Spray a large sauté pan with non-stick spray or Misto.  Over medium heat, sauté the shallots and garlic until shallots soften; about 5 minutes.

3.    Add the shredded squash and stir; add salt and pepper if you wish.

4.    Add the chicken broth and mix.

5.    Add the half and half and mix.

6.    Finally, add the cheese and parsley and mix. (Forgive my fuzzy picture; it's hard to take a picture and shake cheese in prettily for the perfect photo!)

7.    Remove from heat and serve!  I like to add chopped tomatoes and more Parmesan!

Serves 4 as a side dish
Calories 113 / Carbs 13g / Fat 4g / Protein 7g / Fiber 2g / Sodium 349mg

Monday, December 3, 2012

Spinach Artichoke Dip

I’ve said this about probably every other season this year, but I’m REALLY telling you now, this minute, that December is my ABSOLUTE favorite time of the year!  Fo’ reals.
December begins - in my experience anyway - the season of people being nice to each other…again, for the most part.  I’m not talking about Black Friday Madness or frenzied holiday shopping; I’m talking about there being something within each of us that just makes us nicer people to each other at this time of the year.  Holiday Niceness, if you will. 
So now, Holiday Niceness is offically here and you know what ELSE that means?  The season of Lotso-Holiday-Parties!  Maybe that's why everyone's nice to each other???  With so many events and potlucks to attend, those holiday calories can really begin to creep right in.  Creep, creep, creep...oh hello extra pound...or four.
You can’t control everything that's going to be on those beautifully decorated festive tables of wonderment, but you CAN control the dishes that YOU choose to bring to your events.  Try making healthier versions of your favorite appetizers or dishes.
Here’s a much healthier version of a potluck favorite:  spinach and artichoke dip.  By making it a little healthier, you can cut out almost half of the fat and about 40% of the calories!  And the best part is that you, and your fellow party-goers, will not even miss those extra calories!
·         6 cups fresh baby spinach leaves, chopped (one pre-packaged bag from the produce section has about 6 cups)
·         8oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
·         ¼ cup low fat mayo
·         2 T light sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
·         2 tsp fresh lemon juice
·         ¼ cup skim milk
·         3 cloves garlic, minced
·         1 T fresh basil, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
·         1 tsp dried thyme
·         ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
·         Fresh ground pepper to taste
·         5T shredded Parmesan cheese
·         ½ cup reduced fat feta cheese  
·         2-6.5 oz jars of marinated artichoke hearts, chopped (if you can’t find marinated, feel free to use 1-14oz can of regular)

Note:  I have made this a few times now, and I found that mixing everything on the stovetop before putting it into your baking dish just makes this work better.  I have also tried to cook the spinach beforehand and I actually like chopping it up fresh and not cooking it a whole lot better.  With that in mind, the pics below are from the most recent time I’ve made it where I DID cook the spinach…so what I’m saying is:  enjoy the pic of the nice squishy spinach, but then just trust me on this one – don’t cook it before – just chop it all up nice and fresh. 

Here's the squishy spinach (still good, but not AS good!):

1.    Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray your baking dish or pie pan with non-stick spray.
2.    In a large sauté pan over med/low heat, add the cream cheese, mayo, sour cream, lemon juice and skim milk.  Stir everything together until it’s all nice and mixed and smooth.

3.    Now, mix in the garlic, basil, thyme, and crushed red pepper until it’s all incorporated.  I also like to add a few turns of my pepper mill for some extra spice.

4.    Add the cheeses, artichoke hearts, and finally the chopped spinach.  Stir until everything is mixed together.

5.    Remove from heat and transfer to the baking dish.
6.    Bake for 25 minutes until bubbly.

7.    Remove from the oven and serve!  I love this dip with bagel crisps or sourdough bread; it’s also delicious with veggies like celery and carrots.

If you are short on time, this can be made ahead (even the day before) and reheated when you arrive at your destination.

Sooo Yum!

Happy Be-Nice-to-Your-Neighbor-December, Y'all!

Serves 10 – approximately ¼ cup/serving
Calories 133 / Carbs 7g / Fat 9g / Protein 5g / Fiber 1 g / Sodium 403mg