Thursday, January 31, 2013

White Bean Chicken Chili

Many of you know my love for cold weather/chili days…oh, I haven’t mentioned it in the last month?  Well, yah, I REALLY love chili on a cold day!  And throw in the Superbowl and I’m all over it!  Who are you rooting for??

It’s weird, but I’ve never really been drawn to white chili for some reason.  I don’t know why?  I mean, I like chicken…I like beans…I like veggies…but for some reason when I think “chili”, I think beef.

So, in branching out with my taste buds, I thought I’d try to make a chicken version of my beloved.  I have to be honest, when I was putting this together, I was a little skeptical about Hubby liking it.  Although there aren’t a ton of veggies (he’s NOT a fan), when it was coming together, I thought, “Oh, boy…I’m gonna have to sell this one for sure…”  But guess what?  He not only liked it; he REALLY liked it!  And I have to say, hands down the best white chili I have ever had.  I’M definitely a fan.

I made this on a cold, rainy Saturday (did I mention??...) and I love puttering around in my kitchen so I cooked it in my Dutch oven.  However, this is absolutely a slow cooker meal and can be thrown together in the morning and slow simmered all day.  AND, since it’s so easy and plentiful and DELICIOUS, it’s definitely a crowd pleaser, so serve it up for the big game!!

Ingredients
·         10 oz cooked chicken breast, chopped
·         2 cans white navy beans
·         1 ½ T extra virgin olive oil (you can omit this if using slow cooker)
·         ½ jalapeno pepper, roasted, chopped (I char mine on my gas stovetop, but you can broil in your oven just as easily)
·         1 poblano pepper, roasted, chopped
·         ½ medium red pepper, chopped
·         ½ medium onion, chopped
·         3 garlic cloves, minced
·         1 teaspoons chili powder
·         ½ teaspoon ground cumin
·         ½ teaspoon dried oregano
·         Cayenne pepper, to taste
·         2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
·         3oz of beer
·         Juice of 2 limes
·         1 can (14.5 ounces) low-sodium diced tomatoes
·         ½ cup frozen corn
·         ¼ cup parsley, chopped
·         Salt & Pepper, to taste
·         Optional items:  shredded cheese, sour cream, jalapenos, etc….

Preparation:
**Note:  if you’re making this in the slow cooker, after rinsing the beans and mashing one can (step 1), skip the remaining steps and just pop everything in the slow cooker and simmer on low for 6 hours.

Drain and rinse beans, mashing one can in a separate bowl**.  Set all beans aside.


Heat oil in Dutch oven, add peppers, onions and garlic and season with salt & pepper.


Sauté until soft and fragrant about 5 minutes.

Add spices and sauté for 1 minute.

Add chicken broth, beer, and lime juice.



Add beans, tomatoes and corn, and simmer for 10 minutes.




After 10 minutes, stir in the chicken and parsley and mix.  Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.


I served ours with this great low fat cornbread muffin; find the recipe here:  Cornbread Muffin - Allrecipes (I reduced the sugar to 3T)


SO GOOD!!


Nutrition:
Serves 6
Calories 242 / Carbs 30g / Fat 6g / Protein 21g / Fiber 10g / Sodium 1162mg

Monday, January 28, 2013

Tofu Veggie Stir Fry

Now, hold on…before you crinkle your nose and leave this post because you don’t think you’ll like Tofu…give me 5 minutes to tell you why you SHOULD be eating more of this great, YUMMY protein.
Tofu is made from dried soybeans (we LIKE soybeans; edamame, yum!) and comes in different densities.  You can get it from soft to extra firm (which honestly, isn’t really firm in the general sense at all) and you find it in your organic grocery aisle.  Tofu is super inexpensive, very high in protein (this recipe alone has 19 grams!), low in fat, and is very low in saturated fat and calories.  Studies have shown that it can lower cholesterol and may even prevent some cancers.  Tofu is wonderful for bone health and muscle building, which as we age, becomes even more and more important.
Now let’s talk about its VERSATILITY!  The great thing about tofu in your recipes is that you are adding tons of healthy protein and it suits every dish wonderfully!  Tofu has very little, if any at all, flavor…which means, if you’re making anything with a seasoning, marinade or sauce, the tofu will soak up the flavors and fit in perfectly.  You can use it in breakfasts (scrambles!), lunches (marinated & grilled or fried on your salad!), and dinners (chili, stir fry, tacos, soups…the list goes on and on!)
How much time we do have left???
Haven't I sold you?  Okay then, let’s get to it!
I picked up some tofu at Trader Joe’s without a recipe in mind and decided I would like to make a stir fry.  Stir fry is one of those recipes that I can eat a ton of – it’s very much comfort food for me since my mom is Asian; we would eat some type of stir fry at least twice a week growing up.  However, stir fry can have a lot of sodium and I’ve been trying to limit the amount of sodium I’m taking in at night.  With that, I was still looking for something with a ton of flavor and decided that a vinegar sauce would be yummy.
Here's what the tofu looks like packaged in water and then drained and diced into cubes:


This is a VERY fast cooking recipe so have all of your ingredients washed, drained, sliced & diced and ready to go.
Ingredients:
(This recipe serves 2)
·         1T sesame oil
·         ½ tsp dried red pepper flakes
·         1 large shallot, diced
·         3 cloves garlic, minced
·         1 block of extra firm tofu, diced into cubes
·         1 container fresh sliced Portabella Mushrooms, chopped (if your grocer doesn’t sell them sliced, you’ll want about 4 med/large caps)
·         2+ cups broccoli florets
·         2+ cups cauliflower florets
·         2T Balsamic Vinegar
·         1T Red Wine Vinegar

Preparation:
In a wok, or large skillet, heat oil and red pepper flakes until hot (be sure that your keep your heat on high).

Add the shallots and garlic and sauté for about 1 minute.

Add the cubed tofu and sauté for about 2 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and cauliflower and sauté for about 6-7 minutes until the cauliflower just begins to soften.


Add the broccoli and sauté for about 2 minutes.


Add the vinegars and more red pepper flakes if you like things spicy.


Simmer the sauce down for about 1-2 minutes.


Serve it up!  You can serve it with rice, but I just gobbled it up as is.

Mmmmmmmmmm!

Nutrition:
Calories 283 / Carbs 24g / Fat 15g / Protein 19g / Fiber 9g / Sodium 76mg

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

I don’t get to post many recipes for “sweets” mainly because 1) I’m not a baker and 2) Most sweets have too many calories in them.  However, recently, I set about trying to find ways to use my almond flour, which I ADORE.  Want to know another thing J’Adore (My HS Français teacher would be so proud!)?  The delightfully-delectable-oh-so-adorable chocolate chip cookie.  It really has to be at the tippy top of the cookie chain, don’t you think?
Paleo” refers to the nutritional way of eating which concentrates on lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and nuts; basically, like our ancestors from Paleolithic times used to eat…hunting and gathering.  Almond flour (sometimes referred to as “almond meal” is basically ground up almonds) is a wonderful alternative to baking flour.  Like the benefits of almonds, almond flour is gluten-free, low in carbs, a high fiber source and obviously a high protein source.  Almonds offer the most calcium of all the nuts and are very beneficial in lowering cholesterol.  I have seen almond flour all over, even Walmart, so just head down your organic aisle to pick some up.
There are a whole ‘lotta recipes online that use almond flour; go ahead and do a little search and you’ll be amazed at what you’ll find.  It is a delicious alternative and healthy, healthy, healthy!  Let’s throw up a little cheer for being able to have your cookie and eat it, too!
So, I found this wonderful recipe at Multiply Delicious and I adapted it to what I had on hand.  I was so happy at how wonderful these cookies turned out.   They were super easy and your family will LOVE them! 
Ingredients:
1 large ripe banana, mashed – this produces about 1 cup…be sure to use those ugly brown bananas, they are the sweetest!
2T almond butter
1T unsweetened applesauce
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp almond extract
2 tsp agave nectar or honey
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1 ¼ cups almond flour
¼ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preparation:
·         Preheat your oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
·         Blend together the banana, almond butter, applesauce, extracts, baking soda, cinnamon and salt until thoroughly mixed.



·         Add almond flour and chips and stir.




·         Drop by large spoonfuls onto the baking sheet.


·         Bake for 14 minutes or until cookies are beginning to brown.   Remove them from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes on the pan.  The cookies will be very soft – if you try to move them before they cool a bit, they will be all smushy.
·         Try to resist the urge to pluck one from the pan before they are cooled….

Okay!  Now...serve!!  Mmmmmmmm...they are sooooo gooood!

Nutrition:
This recipe makes about 14 medium –sized cookies.
Serving size, 1 cookie
Calories 121 / Carbs 9g / Fat 8g / Protein 4g / Fiber 2g / Sodium 90mg

Monday, January 21, 2013

Chicken Caesar Wrap

Here’s another quick and easy, healthy lunch that is definitely satisfying and certainly filling.  Some type of variation of this wrap is probably one of my favorite go-to’s during the week.  A lot of times, I’ll just take what I have left over from dinner and throw it into a wrap with some veggies.  I’ve found these really great low carb wraps from La Tortilla Factory that are only 50 calories each and most importantly, they don’t taste like cardboard…important, don’t you think? 

One of these wraps is pretty satisfying, but for two you’re still under 300 calories for a great healthy lunch!
Ingredients:
·         1 low carb multigrain tortilla – the ones I have are medium-sized
·         1 cup shredded romaine or lettuce mix
·         2 tsp light Caesar dressing
·         2oz grilled chicken strips
·         1T shredded Parmesan cheese
Preparation:
Think easy – just build it and eat it!
(I like to sauté my chicken strips a little bit more than they are right from the package – I’m a weirdo and like crispy, dry chicken…)



That's it!  So quick and easy!  And of course, delish.
Nutrition:
Serves 1
Calories 145 / Carbs 14 / Fat 5g / Protein 18g / Fiber 8g / Sodium 688mg

Friday, January 18, 2013

Cottage Cheese Salad

I’ve had many of you ask me what my normal lunches are and to tell you the truth, they aren’t that exciting…I’m like most of you:  I don’t have a lot of time for lunch and I’m usually eating it at my desk.  But I still try to eat healthy lunches and that means I usually have to pack them.  The next couple of posts will be for quick and easy low calorie lunches; I hope you get to try them!
This is one of the simplest things to throw together and it’s packed with protein and yummy veggies.  It will fill you up when you’re on the go…or like me, can’t get away from your desk for long.  I will eat this alone (doubling up the recipe is still a very light lunch at 230 calories), or as a side to a sandwich or some grilled chicken or tuna or…you get my drift...
Cottage cheese is one of my favorite foods; it’s nostalgic for me and brings me back to when I was a starving college student and all I could afford in the cafe was a bagel and cottage cheese…I heart it and I always will.
Ingredients:
·         1 mini English cucumber (or about 1/4 cup of regular cucumber), diced
·         4-5 cherry tomatoes, diced (I also use regular sized tomatoes, just dice them)
·         2T sliced black olives (from the can)
·         1/3 cup GOOD cottage cheese; you can skimp and get fat free for fewer calories, but it’s just not as tasty and this dish is already pretty low cal!
·         1 tsp of dried herbs (I used oregano and a Sicilian blend I have which is garlicky and spicy; make it your own!)
·         Salt and Pepper, to taste

Preparation:
Basically, all you’re going to do is build & mix!  Like I said, it’s got to be easy and quick for me - so you can just throw all of this into a container and mix it up later if you like.
Here’s the order in which I build it:
Cukes:

‘Maters:

Olives:

Cottage Cheese – this stuff is “close-your-eyes-amazing”…yes, I just described Cottage Cheese as amazing…whaaatt??  Plus it’s from Vermont and ILoVermont (some of you will get that reference).


Spices:
MIX (it ain't pretty but it's yummy!)

Nutrition:
Serves 1
Calories 115 / Carbs 8g / Fat 5g / Protein 11g / Fiber 1g / Sodium 372mg

Monday, January 14, 2013

Chicken Penne Rosa

Recently my niece posted a pic on Instagram of her delicious dinner which consisted of a big ol’ plate of rigatoni, swimming in a gorgeous creamy tomato sauce.  Ahhh, to be young and thin with no worries about where those rigatoni noodles will settle (Thighs?  Butt?...)  Anyway, WOW, did it look amazing.  After wiping the drool off my chin, and again cursing the Universe for my slow metabolism, I started to think that there must be a way that I could try to recreate it but in a healthy version – I mean, that’s what I’m doing here, right??
So, I set about looking at different recipes online and after perusing about a bajillion (yes, that’s a real number…) of them, I came up with this guy below.  Guess what I learned?  In order to have a creamy, dreamy sauce to drown your pasta in, you need to add A LOT of cream; which in turn adds A LOT of calories!  What we ended up with below is definitely a healthier dish, maybe not so much similar dish, but it was absolutely fab, with just a little bit of creamy yumminess (enough to feel like it’s bad!) and definitely better on your waistline.
Take that, Universe!
Ingredients:
2 T butter
Garlic seasoning, or Italian Seasoning
16oz grilled chicken breast, sliced (I found this great packaged brand in my grocery store by John Soules)
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup dry white wine
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
½ cup petite (or regular) diced tomatoes
½ cup skim milk
½ cup fat free half-and-half
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp dried basil
12 oz. low-carb penne noodles, like Ronzoni Smart Taste

Preparation:
In a large saucepan, heat butter over medium high heat.

Add the chicken and onions sprinkle with seasoning, basically this is to give the chicken a nice little browning on both sides and to soften up the onions.  When the onions are ready, add the garlic and sauté for about 1 minute.
Add the wine and simmer, cooking down the liquid until it’s just about evaporated (about 2 minutes).


Add the crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes and stir.  Bring this mixture to a boil and then reduce heat.  You’ll want this to simmer down and thicken a bit.  This will take about 10 minutes.




Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions.

To the thickened tomato sauce, add the basil, milk, half-and-half, and Parmesan cheese.  Stir well.
 


Drain the pasta and add to the sauce.  Stir well to incorporate.


Serve!  I sprinkled a little more basil and red pepper flakes to mine.  Oh MY Goodness – sooo good!

Nutrition:
Serves 6 – approximately 1 ½ cups
Calories 438 / Carbs 55g / Fat 10g / Protein 34g / Fiber 9g / Sodium 959mg

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Easy Empanadas

I had no idea that I could actually purchase empanada shells – have you heard of or purchased these??  They are like perfect little pie shells, ready to fill with yummy goodness!
So, that’s what I did!  I had been craving something like this since one of my girlfriends brought some mini-empanadas to a potluck during the holidays.
I can’t believe how quickly they came together and how easy they were to make!
Bonus for us:  A big pastry pocket wrapped around warm delicious filling PLUS low calories!
This is just my take; feel free to stuff your empanadas with anything you’d like!  I think another great option would be similar to a pot pie:  turkey or chicken, veggies and sauce…definitely trying that on another day.
Ingredients:
·         6 empanada discs – I found these by Goya and they were in the grocery freezer near the pizza dough.  You’ll want to thaw in refrigerator overnight, or (much easier) cool to room temperature for about 10 minutes.  They thaw quickly at room temp, and you will want them to be a little chilled.
·         2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
·         2 cloves garlic, minced
·         10oz 99% lean ground turkey
·         Salt and pepper, to season
·         1/3 packet of taco seasoning
·         ½ cup canned black beans, rinsed
·         ½ cup frozen corn kernels
·         ½ cup salsa – any kind will do
·         ½ cup 2% or reduced fat cheddar or Monterey jack cheese, shredded

Preparation:  don’t let the amount of steps below deter you; this is a super easy recipe!  You’re basically making your filling, then stuffing the shells!  It’s almost as easy as making tacos!

In a large sauté pan, heat oil and sauté garlic for about 1 minute.

Add
ground turkey, breaking up the meat and cooking until browned.


Add the taco seasoning and stir.


Add the black beans and corn and mix.




Add the salsa and stir.  Remove from heat.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray foil-lined baking sheet with non-stick spray.


Now, we’re going to assemble the empanadas – super easy!

Using a rolling pin, roll out an empanada shell, just a little bit – you’re just going to stretch it a little to make it easier to fold over.  I found it easiest to leave it on the little piece of parchment paper that separate the discs.


Spoon a little bit of the meat mixture onto the center of the shell.


Add a sprinkling of cheese.

Now, fold over one side of the shell onto the filling.  As my friend instructed me, it’s much easier to seal the pastry if you leave a little lip, like so below.


Now, fold that bottom lip over the edge all the way around to seal.  Crimp the edge with a fork.


Place the sealed empanada onto the baking sheet and repeat with the rest of the shells.

When all of the shells are filled, spray the tops with non-stick spray.  This will give them a nice brown color when they are done.


Bake the shells for about 15 minutes, or until browned.


Serve!  These guys are great served with a salad, a side of brown rice, or steamed veggies.

As I mentioned above, I have been thinking of other things I can make with these!  So stay tuned for future empanada ideas!

Nutrition:
Serves 6 – Serving size 1 empanada
Calories 229 / Carbs 29g / Fat 7g / Protein 14 / Fiber 3g / Sodium 541mg