Thursday, March 29, 2012

Balsamic Brown Sugar Pork Loin

"Wow"…that’s what I said when I took a bite of this.  You’ll recall in my previous post that I’m not a happy girl when I make something and it doesn’t turn out.  This is one of those recipes that I’m definitely going to go back to…and often.

It was easy and delicious – throw it in your crockpot and it’s done!  I served it with Leek and Pancetta Risotto.  The contrast of the tanginess from this pork and the creaminess of the risotto was divine!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Leek and Pancetta Risotto

Since deciding to start this blog, there have been a few times in which I’ve gotten super excited to try a new recipe, only to have it turn out to be a culinary disaster.  It’s so disappointing.  I shop for all of the ingredients, get everything ready, take pictures along the way, enjoy the scents and anticipation of a super yummy, healthy meal and I take the first bite and it’s awful…

Rest assured that THOSE recipes do not make it on here.  And this little bit of goodness is NOT one of those times…this recipe is definitely what I like to call “blog worthy.”

If you like risotto, you’ll love this.  If you’ve never even tried risotto, you’ll love this.  Basically, if you like creamy deliciousness, you will LOVE this.

I wish I could take credit for this one, but I was looking for something to accompany my Balsamic Brown Sugar Pork Loin (recipe coming soon!) and I stumbled upon this from the Eating Well website and adapted it for a smaller group.  This serves 4.

If you’ve never made risotto, it’s super easy and tastes like something you’d pay a lot of money for.  You are essentially just stirring rice and adding liquid as it absorbs.  You’ll need two pots:  a medium saucepan and a dutch oven or high sided sauté pan; and non-stick pans are fine.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Shrimp Pad Thai

I had been hankering for some good Pad Thai but haven’t had the time to actually go out for it.  Plus, with trying to watch calories, I wanted to be sure that I wasn’t blowing my entire daily allowance on one meal…which in the past has been known to happen.  Oh, who am I kidding, it’ll happen in the future, too…I mean what are birthdays for??

I was very pleased with my own low-cal version and I hope you like it, too.  It was spicy and sweet with a little hint of peanutty goodness, delish!!  Honestly, anytime I throw some veggies and any kind of protein in a wok with some soy sauce, this little Asian is a happy, happy girl!  This is a Thai version of noodles and veggies and in the very near future, I’ll be sure to post my own ‘Pino bit of heaven, Pancit…so stay tuned!

If you are not a fan of shrimp, or have a shellfish allergy you can certainly sub chicken for this recipe and it’ll be just as fabulous.  Just cut your chicken into strips and be sure to cook until no longer pink.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Burrito Bowl

I love the Burrito Bowls at Chipotle and since I moved from San Diego, sadly, it’s my go-to quick “Mexican” fix.  In the old days, I used to eat those football-sized burritos all stuffed with goodness…you know the ones…they weigh like 5lbs?  Those days are fewer now, but I realized that I could still get all that yumminess in the Burrito Bowl offering and save on some calories.  Now, don’t get me wrong, the Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowl is still in upwards of 700 calories and add some guacamole and you’re talking over 850 calories.  There’s no tortilla (save 290 calories!) on that baby, but it’s certainly not the lowest calorie option for fast-food.

So I decided to try to make it at home and see if I could shave off even more calories and I think I succeeded.  The recipe below is for the chicken marinade and includes the fixings that I used.  Feel free to use less or more items – just make it your own!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Corned Beef

I am a huge fan of corned beef and it’s one of those easy meals you can just throw in your crockpot and not think about. Contrary to what some may believe, this scrumptious Irish tradition is actually healthy for you.

Corned beef is a great protein that’s high in B vitamins and zinc. It has more fat in it, which raises those calories but if you stick to a normal sized portion (about 3oz), it’s less than 250 calories.

Its typical accompaniment of cabbage and potatoes are also great for you. Yes, we want to limit the amount of potatoes we consume, but potatoes in and of themselves contain great complex carbs and calcium, iron and vitamin C. And cabbage is a must when it comes to corned beef! It’s a great source of folic acid, another great source of vitamin C and it’s loaded with fiber.

You can choose to cook your corned beef your favorite way. I just threw mine in the crockpot with a bottle of beer and the little seasoning packet that comes with it. 7 hours on low (oh, the yummy smell of meat cooking in beer!) and it’s done. By the time we were ready to eat, it was falling apart, which is why it wasn’t easy to cut it into slices (or get a pretty picture) – we just pulled some off and ate it!

So don’t swear off this delicious meat-and-potato meal for fear of too many calories; it’s actually good for you!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Oh! And if you have any leftovers, don't forget to make corned beef hash!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Irish Soda Bread

The first time I had Irish Soda Bread was last St. Patrick’s Day and I thought it was so good. Everyone was telling me that I could buy it at our local grocery store, so off I went to get it. Well, apparently my grocery store’s bakery can’t keep it in stock. And not just during the St. Patrick’s Day season; they make it every day and it’s first come – first served. Fresh bread made every day and you can’t keep it on hand? Um, that just made me want it more!?

Here's a great healthier version. It was easy and delicious and a great accompaniment to our corned beef (post coming soon!). It was even great the next day, toasted with a little bit of butter. It's hearty with just a touch of sweetness.

Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
4 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups 1% buttermilk (I didn’t have buttermilk, so I used 1% milk and added 1 ½ T of lemon juice)
¾ cup raisins
1 egg white (for egg wash)

Preheat oven to 375°. Mix the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl using a whisk. Slowly add buttermilk stirring with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms.

Add raisins, and fold them in.

Knead the dough lightly on a sheet of wax paper or a floured surface for about 1 minute.
Form into a round, slightly flattened shape.
Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or nonstick spray. Brush the top of the bread with egg wash.

Bake about 35 minutes, until golden. Insert a toothpick into the bread to test for doneness; it should come out clean. Remove from oven and baking sheet and let it cool on a bakers rack for about 5-10 minutes before serving.

Serves 15 (2oz slice each)
Calories 130 / Carbs 27g / Fat 0g / Protein 3g / Fiber 2g / Sodium 136mg

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Veggie Breakfast Muffins

Whether or not you are on your own weight loss journey, you know the most important meal of the day is breakfast. Thank goodness, because it’s one of my top three favorite meals of the day (ha!). And I prefer savory breakfasts over sweet, hands down. Give me eggs and meat, and you can go right ahead and enjoy your French toast and pancakes. That’s not to say that I don’t adore me some French toast or pancakes, but 9 times out of 10, I will choose an omelet over a sweet pastry for breakfast. Hubby is the opposite…which bodes well for me, because he always lets me finish off my savory breakfast with a bite of his.

Many of you have asked me what my go-to breakfast is and it has to be my veggie egg-white breakfast sandwich. I have the “omelet” on a Fiber One English muffin, absolutely delicious and only 190 calories including a wedge of Laughing Cow cheese. I swear I never get tired of having it. But it requires me to have to make it every day that I want it…and that’s fine because it is super quick, but then I thought it would be kind of nice to have some made ahead that are easy to grab and go. So I decided what better way than to make it into a breakfast muffin! One batch, one baking time, enough for the whole week, and easy to freeze.

Holy cow, these were good.

1/2 cup onions, chopped
1/2 cup shredded cheddar
2 T olive oil
1 cup part or skim ricotta cheese
½ cup 2% cottage cheese
1 Large egg
3 Large egg whites
1 ½ T dijon mustard
1 crown of chopped broccoli
½ package of frozen spinach, thawed, drained & squeezed of excess water
½ cup chopped red pepper
1 T parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper (to taste)

Preheat oven to 350. With nonstick spray, spray a 6 cup large muffin pan or 12 cup small muffin pan.

Sauté onions and peppers in the oil over low-med heat; don’t let them burn; you want the onions to become translucent and just begin to caramelize. Add to a small bowl and let cool for about 5 minutes.

Whisk egg and egg whites together and add to onions and peppers. Mix well.

In a separate larger bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and mix well with large spoon or spatula. Add the egg mixture to the large bowl and mix well.

Divide mixture into muffin pan. I used a ¼ measuring cup to scoop it into the muffin tins.
Bake 35-40 minutes (for small, about 5-7 minutes longer for large) until tops begin to brown and centers no longer jiggle.

Remove and let cool about 15 minutes before removing from pan. Use a knife around the edges to loosen.

Look at that yummy deliciousness inside!

These will keep in your fridge for up to 3 days, or you can freeze them. Just microwave them for about 30-45 seconds when you are ready to eat. Such an easy weekday breakfast to just grab and go - add a 100 calorie English muffin and you have yourself a hearty breakfast for under 300 calories!

Serving size: One large muffin or two small muffins

(Cals below are for two small or one large muffin)
Calories 184 / Carbs 8g / Fat 8g / Protein 14g / Fiber 2g / Sodium 298mg

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Health-ier Microwaved Popcorn

I have come to terms with the fact that – shocker – I don’t know everything, and especially when it comes to food…it was hard, but hey, it was a learning experience. So it was a little baffling for me to learn recently that you (as in “I”) can make your own microwaved popcorn with just two items!? Clearly I’ve been living under a rock, but one of my very knowledgeable friends informed that people have been making it this way for a very long time. Who knew?? Um…apparently not me.

Nowadays everything is a potential carcinogen (just yesterday, an announcement about Diet Pepsi and Diet Coke), so I understand wanting to be careful, and even perhaps stay away from these things. An FDA report states that the coating on the microwaved bags could contain carcinogens, and the fake-butter flavoring in the popcorn could have detrimental long-term effects on the respiratory system. Fun. But honestly, all that aside, I just don’t particularly like the flavor of microwaved popcorn, period.

So when my friend told me about this method, I was all over it. Did I mention you need just TWO items? Get this: popcorn kernels and a brown paper lunch bag – boom…that’s it. Oh, and a cool bowl to throw it in afterwards. This method can also save you money! The kernels I bought were $1.99 and the bag of 100 brown lunch bags was $2. Just two items, it’s healthy, and it’s inexpensive – right up my alley.

So here’s what you do:

Pour ½ cup of unpopped popcorn into your handy brown paper bag, fold the top of the bag over a few times and pop (pun!) it into the microwave. Use your popcorn setting or heat on high for 2-3 minutes. Take it out when the popping slows to 2 seconds between pops.

That's it! Throw it in a bowl, sprinkle on your favorite ingredients and enjoy!

As you can see, I prefer to eat my popcorn in an inspirational bowl…I mean, who wouldn’t want to eat anything out of a bowl that reminds you that you are a beautiful genius?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Italian Turkey Sausage and Veggie Pasta

I love Italian Sausage and for some reason I had been hesitant to try turkey sausage. But recently, I was watching some of my favorite “trash” TV (please don’t ask me which show, it’s completely embarrassing and Karda-culous), and they were making a pasta dish using turkey sausage and it looked so yummy! This little bit of goodness is really only what I can assume they were actually having since it wasn’t like I was watching an actual cooking show. Is it weird that I paused the DVR as the camera panned over…oh, let’s call him Vamar…over Vamar’s plate? Yah, probably but whatevs…

I honestly loved the turkey sausage, it is so tasty! Turkey sausage is a great option for regular sausage and depending on the type, it can beat the fat & calorie pants off regular Italian sausage by more than 300 calories. A bit of caution after the big ground turkey health scare last year: be sure that you are buying fresh meat (frozen is fine just check dates) and you are cooking it to the correct temperature – at least 165 degrees.

This is definitely a comfort food pleaser. Great flavor in the sauce and it came together pretty quickly; another fast weeknight meal.

So, here’s the recipe that I think I wanted to make…and it turned out pretty darn good…Bible.

3/4 pound pasta (my fave: Ronzoni Smart Taste angel hair; penne would be great for this, as well)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 package spicy Italian turkey sausage (I bought links)
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes (I also added some chopped cherry tomatoes)
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped kale or spinach
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large skillet, heat olive oil and then add onions and sauté about 3 minutes, until almost translucent. case you need to see another picture of sauteing onions:Add turkey sausage (casings removed), and using the back of a spoon or spatula, break it up. Add garlic and sauté until turkey is browned completely. Add the chicken broth, basil, oregano and diced tomatoes and heat on medium to simmering.Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions and drain.

Grate the Parmesan cheese and set aside. Add the kale to the simmering sauce and stir.Simmer for about 2 more minutes then add the drained pasta to the pan and mix to coat the pasta.

Serve topped with Parmesan.Serves 6
Per serving: Calories 364 / Carbs 39g / Fat 14g / Protein 24g / Fiber 6g / Sodium 1212mg