Monday, October 29, 2012

Sweet Potato Pancakes with Brown Sugar Butter Sauce

One of my favorite Fall breakfasts is Sweet Potato Pancakes – they are AH-mazing.  So I set off to find a way to make them a little healthier and I came across this recipe online from a place called Highland Bakery.  I changed it up a bit and they were delicious – you won’t even know they are better for you…I think it has something to do with the Brown Sugar Butter Sauce…okay, honesty time:  there’s no making that sauce healthier, but I compared ¼ cup of this sauce to real maple syrup…and this wins in the calorie category…by 200 calories…so um, you’re welcome.
Recently, I was craving breakfast for dinner and I knew Hubby would really like these.  And even though this sounds like a decadent meal (yah, it really is!), it’s still under 500 calories per serving and you will be full and satisfied with 2 big pancakes and the most delicious sauce slathered all over them!
1 medium sweet potato, baked, scooped, then mashed with a fork (You can also use canned sweet potato puree; about 1 cup)
½ cup white flour
½ cup white whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 T brown sugar
1 cup lowfat or fat free milk
¼ cup egg substitute
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
Coconut oil to grease skillet (you can also use canola oil, or even nonstick cooking spray)

Brown Sugar Butter Sauce:
½ stick unsalted butter
½  cup packed brown sugar
2 T water

If you are using a fresh sweet potato, you have two options:
1)    Oven:  Wash and scrub the potato, preheat your oven to 400 degrees, pierce the potato with a fork, wrap in foil and bake for about 45 minutes
2)    Microwave:  Wash and scrub the potato, pierce it with a fork and then microwave for about 5 minutes

Once the sweet potato is cooked, scooped, and mashed, mix all of the ingredients for the pancakes together in a medium bowl, except coconut oil.

Heat a large skillet over med/high heat and melt the coconut oil (or spray with nonstick spray).

Scoop 1/3 cup of the batter for each pancake, and ladle it onto the hot skillet.  Cook until bubbles form on the top; flip with a spatula to cook the other side.

Meanwhile, for the sauce, in a small saucepan melt butter oven med/low heat.  Add the brown sugar and stir.  Add the water and then simmer for about 8 minutes in order for the brown sugar to dissolve.  Serve warm on top of the pancakes.

OMG, these are soooo yummy!!
Serves 4 (2 pancakes each)
Calories 431 / Carbs 63g / Fat 16g / Protein 8g / Fiber 4g / Sodium 768mg

Thursday, October 25, 2012


I was scrambling recently for an appetizer to take to a party and had very little time to throw something together.  I looked in my kitchen and all I had were tomatoes and garlic and I had so many things going on, I didn’t have any time to get to the store.  And when life hands you tomatoes and garlic, you make Bruschetta...I think that's the saying.

Bruschetta is one of those forgotten appetizers, I think.  But every single time I have it, I absolutely love it!

This was quick to throw together; I had a few hours of cleaning to do so I was able to marinate it a bit.  However, with these flavors, it would set up really quickly if you only had an hour.

Sorry about the lack of pictures!

6 med/large tomatoes (I had heirlooms from my garden, but Romas or any other variety would work very well); chopped and deseeded.
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves (very important to use fresh!)
3 med garlic cloves, minced
Salt & Pepper, to taste

In a bowl, mix all of the ingredients together.  Add salt and pepper to taste – I sprinkled a little bit of salt and a bunch of fresh cracked pepper.

Let marinate in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.  Remove from fridge, stir it up, and drain most of the juice.

Place the bruschetta in a serving bowl and serve with bagel crisps or toast pieces.  Bagel crisps work well to hold up big yummy bites of the bruschetta!

Serves approx. 12 (about 3 T each)
Calories 60 / Carbs 4g / Fat 5g / Protein 1g / Fiber 1g / Sodium 3mg

Monday, October 22, 2012

Spaghetti Squash Au Gratin

Recently, I spent a weekend with my girlfriends.  I love the time I get to do this and it’s just not often enough.  We drank wine, danced in our PJ’s, sang songs that we all know by heart, stayed up super late gossiping, catching up and talking about everything under the sun, and laughed ‘til our bellies hurt.  Good times…wonderful times…And of course we talked about food!

Someone mentioned spaghetti squash au gratin and I literally perked up…what is this deliciousness you speak of!??  It stuck with me the whole weekend and I just had to figure out a way to have it!  I did a bunch of research and perused lots of recipes online and I came up with this one that suited Hubby’s tastes.  The entire time I was making it, I was praying to the food Gods that it would turn out because not only is it super low calorie, it’s healthy, and it smelled amazing…I had high hopes…and boy did this little keeper come through for me!  It was so good, you can honestly label it comfort food.

I have made spaghetti squash lots of times in the past but always served it with a red sauce.  I never thought about pairing it with creamy goodness!  And now, all I can think about is ways to make other dishes with it!  I’m thinking I’ll try a variation of broccoli cheese casserole, or creamy chicken casserole…the possibilities are endless!

Lots of people are using spaghetti squash in place of pasta and rice in dishes because of its health benefits.  It contains no fat, relatively low carbs (certainly in comparison to rice and pasta), 9% of your daily Vitamin C, and 8 % of your recommended dose of B6.  It is loaded with beta carotene, folate, omega-3 and 6.  And it’s SO versatile!

If you aren’t already eating it – start!

1 medium to large spaghetti squash (approximately 4 cups cooked)
2 T Brummel and Brown spread or light butter
1 small sweet onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
½ cup light sour cream
½ cup reduced fat cheddar cheese, shredded
½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
¼ cup shredded parmesan
4 T 50% reduced fat bacon pieces
(I used Hormel, but you can always fry up some regular old bacon…I wanted to reduce some cals)
1 cup diced lean ham
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cut the squash in half and scoop out all of the seeds and stringy pulp

Lay cut side down on a baking sheet.  I line my baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup.

Bake squash for about 40 minutes (depending on how large it is, could need less or more time); you’ll know it’s done when a knife slides easily into the top.  For a quicker option, place cut-side down in a microwaveable dish, pierce with a fork and microwave for about 12 minutes.

Once cooked and cooled for a bit, shred the insides easily with a fork into a medium sized bowl.  See how it makes “spaghetti-like” strings?  Brilliant!

In a small sauté pan on medium heat, add butter, onions, garlic, ham, bacon pieces, red pepper flakes, thyme and rosemary.

Sauté until the onions are translucent and remove from heat.

Add onion mixture, sour cream, salt, pepper, and ½ of the cheese mixture to the squash and mix.

Place into a casserole dish sprayed with non-stick spray and top with remaining cheese.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden and bubbly.  Sorry about the bad pics; by the time we ate it was dark outside and my kitchen lights did not do justice - just trust me on this one!

Serve!  I can't wait to make it again!

Serves 4 (but it’s SO good, you may only want to share it with one…and low enough cals that you can!)

Calories 197 / Carbs 10g / Fat 9g / Protein 14g / Fiber 2g / Sodium 1078mg

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Cuban Panini

I can’t remember when I was introduced to Cuban sandwiches, but I DO remember that I’ve always loved them and I always order it if it’s an option on the menu.  If you’ve never had them, you must!  Whether it’s this version or one at your local deli, they are one of my all-time favorite sammies.  Typically, they are made with ham, pork, cheese and pickles…pretty much a perfect combo, don’t you think?

I was hungry for them recently and decided to try to make a healthier version (no butter, deli meat) for a low calorie, quick dinner.  We had these Panini-style with a side salad for a dinner consisting of less than 500 calories.

You know I love quick and easy – and you can add super delicious to the description of these, too!


4 slices Italian or sourdough bread (you’ll want something heartier than your typical white bread; my grocery store had 80 calorie/slice Italian bread)
2 oz thinly sliced smoked ham
2 oz thinly sliced pork roast (I used Boar’s Head Porketta from my deli)
4 slices of cheese (best to use Swiss, Havarti, something with a little bite to it…)
4 tsp mustard (yellow or spicy brown works great)
4 slices sandwich style dill pickles
Nonstick spray

Spread mustard on each slice of bread.

Layer cheese on each slice.

Lay 2 pickle slices on one side of each sandwich.

Lay the ham and pork on top and close your sandwich up.

Spray a grill pan (or grilling machine) with non-stick spray.

Once heated, add your sandwiches, pressing and grilling both sides until the cheese is melty and the sandwich is hot. 

If you are using a grill pan, you are going to want to use a spatula or another pan on top of the sandwiches to press down on them making them more Panini-like.

Serve them up – they are so super yummy and easy!!

Cals 335 / Carbs 34g / Fat 11g / Protein 21g / Fiber 0g / Sodium 1795mg

Monday, October 15, 2012

Zucchini Brownies

I have never been able to make brownies.  I’m not talking about not being able to make homemade brownies…I can’t even make boxed brownies.  I either overcook them or undercook them.  I have tried every kind, every brand, every trick and all different kinds of pans; they never work.

So you can imagine my hesitancy to make a fancy brownie that required strange ingredients…
But I’m a little stubborn (okay, a lot stubborn) and nothing was going to keep me from enjoying a damn delicious brownie that I made with my own two hands…and a healthy one at that!
So I searched the web and came across a recipe for flourless zucchini brownies…um, hold up!??
The problem is that the blogger did not list all of the ingredients so I had to figure out what was missing…turns out it was cocoa powder…so I searched some more and tried to find a recipe for regular brownies to figure out how much cocoa powder to use.  Needless to say, I did not have high hopes for this brownie…how could I?  With my serious lack of brownie-making skills, and all of these weird ingredients??
But guess what?  It worked.  It really, really worked!
Let's talk about how healthy these brownies are!  They are made with almond butter, raw honey, zucchini, and absolutely no flour.  You’re gonna love these, believe me!  And you don’t have to feel at all guilty about eating them.  Now, these brownies are only a little bit lower in calories (about 50 less cals than box prepared fudge brownies) but they are SO much healthier for you than regular brownies since they are loaded with healthy fats, good carbs, and do not contain any flour.
1 ¼ cup shredded zucchini – shred it and then chop the shreds up really small, then squeeze them so that as much of the zucchini juice comes out of them as possible.
1 ¼ cup of almond butter
1/3 cup raw honey
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
¼ cup cocoa powder
½ tsp of nutmeg
1 egg
½ cup dark chocolate or semi-sweet mini chocolate chips, divided

Preheat oven to 350

In a medium bowl, add all of the ingredients reserving half of the mini chips for topping.  Mix everything together.

Pour the mix into an 8x8 or 9x9 baking pan (I lined mine with parchment paper).

Sprinkle the remaining chips on top.

Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Remove and let cool for about 15 minutes, slice and serve!  They came out moist and cakey (I'm pretty sure that’s an actual outcome...)

And they are so good!!!

Makes 9 good sized brownies
Calories 321 / Carbs 28g / Fat 23g / Protein 8g / Fiber 4g / Sodium 210mg

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pad Thai

I have previously mentioned my love for Pad Thai and my dismay at my utter lack of Pad Thai resources now that I live in the country, boo hoo!  However, I have always had high hopes that someday, just maybe, I’d be able to figure out a way to squash those cravings by making my own…or by having some lovely person come to me to make them for me…

So I continued my search and I finally came across a really great, easy version and it’s low calorie, too!  The original recipe came from a great website called Brownies for Dinner (genius!) and I adapted it to suit Hubby’s likes.

Hope you like it, too!

8 oz Rice Noodles
3 T light brown sugar
1 lime, juiced
3 T low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp Siracha hot sauce
2 tsp canola oil
2 scallions, chopped whites and half of the green tops
1 medium garlic clove, minced
½ cup egg substitute
¼ cup chopped salted peanuts
3 T chopped fresh parsley

Additions:  I added marinated chicken because that’s what I had on hand, but this would also be great with lots of veggies like cabbage, carrots, water chestnuts, bean sprouts, etc….

If you like "saucy" Pad Thai, double the sauce ingredients - but don't forget to add those calories to your total (an additional 36 calories per serving; not bad!)
**Make sure you have all of the ingredients ready; it goes pretty quick once you get started.  Sorry about the lack of pictures - I'm telling you, it goes fast!!

In a bowl or baking dish, place the dry noodles.  Cover them with hot tap water and set aside for about 20 minutes.

In a small bowl, stir together the lime juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, and Siracha hot sauce.

When the noodles are almost ready, heat the oil in a large pan or wok over very high heat.

Add the garlic and half of the green onions, sautéing for about 1 minute.

Add the egg substitute and scramble until almost completely cooked – remove to a plate and set aside.

Now, drain the noodles and add them to the wok along with the rest of the onion and the sauce.  Cook for about 1 minute stirring it around a bit to get everything all good and happy together.

Add the eggs back in and stir it up again so that the eggs get all through it.

Remove from heat, top with parsley and peanuts, and dig in!!  I like to add more Siracha and red pepper flakes because I like my Pad Thai spicy!

Serves 4
Calories 314 / Carbs 58g / Fat 6g / Protein 8g / Fiber 3g / Sodium 349mg

Monday, October 8, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Cookies with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

My friend recently brought these delicious mini muffins to my house recently and then shared with me that they were a Weight Watchers recipe using only two ingredients!  Of course, you know I was going to be all over it since apparently it was THAT easy, right??
SOoooo, I decided that I had to make it a little bit of my own and add another ingredient AND top it off with a healthier version of cream cheese frosting.  And here I am, sharing it with you!  Honestly, there are SOOOooo many versions of this on the web I don’t know who to credit so I’m going to say I adapted this from the Weight Watchers version.
Super easy, super yummy, and super low calorie!
Boxed spice cake mix
1 – 15oz can of pumpkin puree
1 tsp vanilla
1 – 8oz block of 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
4 T maple syrup
1 tsp maple extract
Preheat your oven to 350.
In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, pumpkin puree and vanilla.  That’s all – mix it up real good!
Using a scoop or just a plain ole regular spoon, place spoonfuls (or scoopfuls) of the dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet or parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake for 18 minutes.
While the cookies are baking, grab a small bowl and mix together the cream cheese, maple syrup and maple extract until smooth.  Set aside.
Remove the cookies from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes on the pan and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Once cooled, frost the cookies…and that’s it!  I also sprinkled some pumpkin pie spice on top for added festiveness.  Look at that adorable adorableness:
I honestly could eat the entire batch of these…they are that good.  I think the frosting just puts these over the top!

My scoops made 49 cookies.
Serving size is one cookie with frosting.
Calories 56 / Carbs 10g / Fat 1g / Protein 1g / Fiber 0g / Sodium 86mg

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Turkey Chili

This is IT!!  The recipe that I’ve been trying to perfect since I started this blog and by George, I think I’ve got it!  Seriously, how hard is it to make chili???  Okay, no, it’s not that hard, but I want it to be magical!  Not just plain run-of-the-mill chili, but the kind of chili that makes people say, “Wow!  Jenn makes the best chili!”  Okay, so I’m a bit of an overachiever, and I guess a little needy of acceptance…but even if I can’t get others to yell their praises from the rooftops, I DO aspire to make a pretty decent chili…and like I said before…this little sucker might actually be the one.
First off, let’s talk about how healthy chili really is.  And this one’s got 99% lean ground turkey in it, black and black-eyed beans, lots of yummy veggies and is made with my HUMONGO heirloom tomatoes from my garden.  Alright, alright, YOU may not use your own fresh tomatoes, I’m not all saying you have to, but I was excited that I got to use mine…and if you DO have your own, use them!
I’m not lying, look at this tomato…and even though I have super freaky tiny hands, you can see how big they really are!  And there’s another one in the background and one off to the side you can’t see…HUGE, that’s all I’m sayin’.

And look at how beautious they are!  And the gorgeousness of them all smooshed up: 

1 T extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 package (about 20oz) 99% lean ground turkey
2 T low sodium Worcestershire sauce
1 packet of chili mix
12oz of your favorite beer – YES, beer!
28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 8oz can of tomato sauce
1 medium onion diced
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 large red pepper, chopped
2 poblano peppers, charred and chopped (see below)
1 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15oz can black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 15oz can corn, drained
1/2 cup chopped jalapenos with juice
1 T chili powder
2 tsp cumin

This is the easy part!!

It always takes me the longest to chop the veggies – I need better knife skills!  But I LOVE to chop veggies!  To me, it’s relaxing…weird, huh?  Anyway, once your veggies are chopped, this comes together super quickly and then you throw everything into the slow cooker!

1.    In a large skillet, heat oil over med/high heat.  Add the garlic and sauté for about 1 minute.  Add the ground turkey and break it apart with the back of your spatula or wooden spoon…or that handy dandy breaker-apart-thing (I think it’s officially called the Mix ‘N Chop) from Pampered Chef (I love that thing!).

2.    Pour the Worcestershire sauce over the turkey and continue to cook until it’s no longer pink and beginning to brown.

3.    Sprinkle with the chili packet.


4.    Add the beer!  Stir to incorporate and get all of the spices and turkey and beer mixed together…

5.    Simmer for about 5 minutes.  I don’t like for all of the beer to evaporate because I want some in the chili itself.  So don’t let the goodness evaporate!

6.    NOW, throw everything into the slow cooker and mix it all up!

 7.    Cook on low 6-8 hours and ENJOY!!

I served ours with some Portuguese Saloio bread – sooo good!!

Okay, I have to go yell my own praises from my rooftop – BYE!

Serves 12 – approximately 1 cup/serving
Calories 208 / Carbs 28g / Fat 3g / Protein 17g / Fiber 7g / Sodium 713mg

Monday, October 1, 2012

Meatball Sliders

Super quick dinner/appetizer alert!  Honestly!  This took me about 30 minutes from start to finish aaaaannnnddd I made my own meatballs!  We’re not talking short cuts here with frozen lumps of meat…these were lean and delicious and made from scratch!
So the next time you’re in the mood for meatball sammies or you’ve got friends over for the game, whip these up – you’ll be patting yourself on the back for how good they are and your friends will put you in a whole different category…like the Wonder Woman category…okay, maybe not Wonder Woman, but there’s some serious R-E-S-P-E-C-T for a hottie that can whip up yummy balls of meat with sauce and bread and cheese and oh, lookie there, they’re CUTE, too!  I’m telling you:  a whole ‘nother category.
1lb - 96% lean ground beef
½ cup Panko bread crumbs
2 garlic clove, minced
½ cup low fat or fat free milk
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 – 24oz jar marinara sauce
1 ½ cups reduced fat shredded mozzarella cheese
18 party rolls (little dinner rolls)

1.    In a small bowl, mix together ground beef, panko, 1 garlic clove, milk & herbs. 
2.    Roll out your meatballs; you will probably get about 24-30 depending on their size.  Don’t make them too big or they’ll take forever and this is supposed to be quick, quick, quick!

3.    Place oil in a large skillet and throw in your onions and the other clove of garlic.  Stir it around and let them sauté for a few minutes.

4.    Now, make some room for the meatballs in that skillet.  Place them one by one into the pan and cook them, turning every few minutes, to brown all sides.

5.    When they are brown on all sides, pour in your sauce and bring it to simmer.  Reduce heat, cover and let simmer for about 15 minutes.  I uncovered it every few minutes to give everything a little stir with a wooden spoon.

6.    While the meatballs are a’ cookin’, slice your rolls in half.  I found these great “Party Rolls” and they were the perfect size for each little meatball!  Use whatever you can find.

7.    Then throw some cheese on them.

8.    When your meatballs and sauce are ready, remove from heat and spoon a meatball onto each roll…and now a little sauce…and now close that puppy up and eat it!

Wow, these were yummy...Hubby thanked me 3x for dinner.  He always thanks me, but I think he was really happy with this recipe…probably because I didn’t try to slip ground turkey or soy crumbles under his nose…nope, just good ol’ real, honest-to-goodness ground beef.

Serves 6, approximately 3 sliders each
Calories 445 / Carbs 46g / Fat 18g / Protein 29g / Fiber 6g / Sodium 915mg