I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve posted! Life and work just keep getting in my way! A few weeks ago it was one of those nights when I’d stayed too late in my office and I had very little time to make a yummy, healthy dinner. I peered into the frig hoping for some inspiration and it hit me! I had a bunch of leftover taco mixture (check out his delicious and healthy recipes for tacos) Taco Pie! So simple – so tasty – so quick! Just what I needed!
1 – 100% whole wheat pie crust (I use Wholly Wholesome from Whole Foods
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 – 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 – 8 oz. can tomato sauce, no salt added
3 -4 cups left over taco mixture (recipe here – trust me, unless you fed an army, you will have left overs from this recipe!)
2/3 cup low fat Mexican cheese blend- divided (I use Trader Joe’s Shredded Lite Mexican Blend)
3 -4 left over taco shells, coarsely crushed (I use Trader Joe’s Shells – only 3 ingredients!)
Preheat oven to 375°
Heat olive oil over medium heat in a medium skillet. Add black beans saute for 3 – 4 minutes; as they start to get warm you want to mush them up a bit. Add the tomato sauce, taco mixture, and 1/3 cup of cheese. Blend well and heat through. Pour everything into your pie crust. Spread crushed taco shells over the top and then sprinkle with the remaining 1/3 cup of cheese.
Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Serve with your favorite salsa and plain fat free yogurt (or sour cream).
This is a delicious – meatless soup full of protein, fiber, and flavor! Just throw it together into a slow cooker and at the end of the day you have an amazing meal…fair warning….if you are going to be home all day, the smell is going to drive you crazy!!
Curried Lentil Soup
2 cups lentils rinsed
1 can – 15 1/2 oz. diced tomatoes, no salt added
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
4 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
3 bay leaves
Place all ingredients into a 4-quart (or larger) slow cooker. Stir really well to combine. Cover. Cook on low 8 to 10 hours or high for 4 to 5 hours or until lentils are tender. Yum
I found the idea for this recipe a few weeks ago and it took me this long to find “Chipotle” peppers in my supermarket! I’ve been making my “Kelly’s Famous Chili” for many years and loving it; so I was a little hesitant to try something completely different. I’m so glad I did Eric and I only eat poultry and fish, but my son is a big red meat fan; I wasn’t sure how a vegetarian chili would fare – well it was a hit. It has a great texture (you don’t miss the meat at all), it’s very thick and creamy, and it’s got an awesome slow burn that will have you slightly sweating after a few bites. I hope some of you will give it try and let me know what you think. You will notice that there is no photo, this is because it was so delicious that we all dug in and ate it all before we realized we’d forgotten to photograph it. I’ll be making it again soon and I’ll add photos
**UPDATE** new photo
1 pound sweet potatoes, cut into 1″ cubes
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 cup diced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon chipotle pepper powder
2 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken (or vegetable) broth
2 – 14-1/2 oz cans diced tomatoes, no salt added
2 whole chipotle peppers, chopped
1 – 8oz. can tomato sauce, no salt added
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 cup frozen corn
1 – 14oz. can creamed corn, no salt added
1 – 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 – 16 oz. can chick peas, rinsed and drained
Heat a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat and add the olive oil. Saute the onions until lightly caramelized. Add the garlic and sweet potato and cook for an additional 3 -4 minutes or until the sweet potatoes get lightly browned (be careful not to burn the garlic). Add the chili powder, cumin and chipotle powder and cook for an additional 2 -3 minutes (stir frequently). Add the chicken broth (scrape up any little browned bits on the bottom of the pan – I just learned that these are called “fond” and they are full of flavor). Turn up the heat to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook until the sweet potatoes are just getting soft (you don’t want them to be completely cooked). Add the tomatoes, chipotle peppers, tomato sauce Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco sauce. Simmer for 10 – 12 minutes or until it begins to thicken slightly. Add the corn an beans. Mix well and let cook for an additional 5 minutes or so.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Who says you can’t eat delicious food on Thanksgiving and still be healthy not me! I’m just taking a quick break from cooking….Yesterday I made some yummy brownies (Eric and Josh tell me that they are yummy – you see I hate chocolate..I know-weird). The brownies have a little secret….but you’ll have to wait until I post that recipe to find out I also made a delicious pumpkin cheesecake – this I will eat. Pumpkin pie has always been one of my favorites, I also love cheesecake – combined – what could be better?? I think you’ll find this recipe healthy (well, I wouldn’t recommend eating this every day) and satisfying. Leave me a comment, once you awaken from your Thanksgiving day food coma, and let me know what you think.
One quick note before I get to the recipe. I’d like to say how thankful I am for my wonderful family (especially my very best friend, sous chef and husband, Eric and the worlds best son, Josh) and friends and for anyone and everyone out there who takes the time to read my blog. From my healthy heart to yours – have a wonderful holiday.
1 – 8 oz. package fat-free cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup Splenda
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 – 15 oz. can pure pumpkin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup egg substitute (or 3 eggs, lightly beaten)
1/2 cup skim evaporated milk
2 Tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 whole wheat pie crust (I use Wholly Wholesome from Whole Foods)
Preheat oven to 400°. In large bowl, with mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese and sugars until smooth. Add pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg; beat until blended, occasionally scraping sides of bowl with a rubber spatula. Add eggs, milk, molasses, and vanilla; beat until well blended, occasionally scraping bowl. Pour into pie crust. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes or until filling is puffed and set at edges but still jiggles slightly in the center. Cool pie completely on wire rack, then cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours.
The holidays are once again upon us and for most of us this means a big traditional Thanksgiving dinner with the family, Christmas parties, cookies, sweets – you know the drill. Is there a way to survive this annual over-the-top eating onslaught without gaining 5 pounds while still enjoying some tasty holiday treats? I yes, there is. But accomplishing this will take some forethought and awareness.
Let’s say you’ll be having Thanksgiving dinner with your family and someone else is doing the cooking. This means that the ingredients that go into this mail are completely out of your control. Here are some of the biggest problems with this meal as it is typically prepared.
The stuffing is usually made from enriched white bread (ick), the mashed potatoes are usually loaded with butter, cream or milk, and salt, and the gravy is full of saturated fat. And of course the desserts are an even bigger problem as they are loaded with enriched white flour, butter or lard, and sugar (I’m getting a stomachache just thinking about it).
Make the right choices. Eating a plate of this food and having it do the least amount of damage is all about choices. Go heavier on the white meat (dark meat has more saturated fat) and the veggies, and go lighter on the mashed potatoes, stuffing, and gravy. Don’t eat the turkey skin, it has the highest concentration of saturated fat in the whole bird (if you must eat some, go sparingly). Try to be careful about overall portion sizes.
Eat a snack or appetizer 30 minutes before the meal. It takes about 20 minutes to feel full when we eat, so doing this will help you feel full sooner, and possibly keep you from over eating.
Don’t waste your splurge. You probably will splurge on different foods at Thanksgiving, as this holiday comes but once a year. But don’t waste your splurge on general over eating – splurge on foods you really love or foods that are special. Mashed potatoes are common and you probably eat this at different points throughout the year, so there’s no real point in eating a heaping mound of this. Dinner rolls can do a lot of damage, and once again, this is an extremely common food. But let’s say grandma’s apple pie has always been one of your favorites and may be only available during holidays. This splurge makes more sense.
Don’t take the leftovers. If you take leftovers home you will likely feel compelled to eat them, adding more unneeded unhealthy calories to your diet later in the week. A simple “No thanks, we’ve got tons of food in the fridge right now” or “No thanks, I’m trying to eat healthy, and this one splurge was enough.” should suffice. A couple of other options would be to just take white meat, or, if there is enough to go around, take a few plates of food and give it to a homeless shelter or a neighbor in need.
Healthy Substitutions for Your Holiday Meal
If you’re cooking the meal, then you are in control of what goes into it. A traditional Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have to be unhealthy; it’s all about the ingredients, and the subtleties. While the white meat that comes from an oven roasted turkey is quite healthy, the stuffing, due to the fact it is usually made from white bread, is typically not. Make your stuffing from whole wheat bread.
Gravy is usually another big problem when it comes to unhealthy calories, so learn to make it with a little less turkey fat. After you’ve removed your turkey from the roasting pan, drained the juices into a bowl, and separated the juices from the fat with a ladle – combine the juices with a limited amount of fat to make the gravy, even substituting some of the fat with low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth.
Mashed potatoes are typically another unhealthy calorie bomb, so again, use substitutions. Use Smart Balance instead of butter and skim milk instead of whole milk or cream. Try mixing in some fat-free yogurt to help create a creamy consistency. A little garlic powder and cracked black pepper will also go nicely. You could also experiment with substituting rutabagas, which have a higher nutritional value, for some of the potatoes.
Dinner rolls are usually made from enriched white flour but they don’t have to be. Substitute whole wheat flour for the enriched white flour and Smart Balance instead of butter to make a hearty and healthy roll.
Lose the salt. These foods are dense with flavor and you might be surprised how good they can taste without adding any salt during preparation. Leave it to the guests to add it when they sit down to eat.
When baking pies, cookies, and other desserts, once again, use substitutions – whole wheat flour instead of enriched white flour, smart balance instead of butter or lard, Splenda instead of sugar, and canola oil instead of corn oil. And if you’re craving chocolate, try baking with Beachbody chocolate Shakology for a healthy alternative, there are a ton of great recipes available online.
Put your table salt in a covered glass bowl or Tupperware container instead of a shaker. You can’t really see the salt coming out of the shaker, but if you grab a pinch of salt with your fingers, you will know exactly how much you’re using.
And lastly, put Smart Balance on the table for your family and guests to use instead of butter.
Don’t stop your exercise regimen just because the holidays are here. If you’ve been working out regularly, why stop now? Get up a little early on Thanksgiving and try to get your workout in before you embark on your day’s activities. If you’re traveling for spending the day somewhere other than your own home, improvise. A little while after dinner, go for a walk to work off some of that ‘turkey gut’.
Many families also cook a huge dinner on Christmas and all of these concepts and food substitutions apply there as well. If you’re going to have some eggnog, go with light eggnog. You can even find recipes to make your own eggnog online that will be far healthier than what you’ll find in the supermarket. Try to avoid ‘holiday cookies’, they have no nutritional value whatsoever. If someone gives you a box of chocolates, ‘donate’ it to someone else. Don’t let peer pressure dictate your diet.
A Thanksgiving Feast, or My Yearly Food Coma?
When I think back to many of my earlier Thanksgiving dinners with my family, I remember my mom, dad, and grandmother working in the kitchen all morning long, preparing and cooking for our annual holiday eat-a-thon. My siblings and I would often help out, peeling potatoes, washing pots and pans, and setting the table. When the meal was finally ready we would all sit down, mom would say grace, and then we would all go to town. It would only take about 15 or 20 minutes for us to literally inhale an overabundance of food, most of us taking seconds, some even thirds. Then the sinking feeling would begin, usually during the half-hour or so it took to clean up the mess of pots, pans, dishes and silverware. Another half hour or so later and dad would be asleep in his recliner while the rest of us were deemed immobile on the couch for the next several hours. Even though it was nice to see the family, I don’t remember a lot of conversations taking place after dinner, we all sat speechless in front of the TV, too stuffed to speak. That heavy feeling would last for the rest of the day, often into the next.
Eating, and overeating food in this manner is an oral fixation and needs to be seen for what it is. There is nothing wrong with our tradition of eating a Thanksgiving meal with loved ones and friends. But for many, there is clearly something wrong with how we prepare this meal, and how much of it we eat. We all need to eat to live. But while over eating, and overeating unhealthy foods, can happen in just a few brief minutes, its negative effects can last for hours or days, potentially undoing all sorts of gains and strides we’ve made towards our health. Is it worth it?
I think it’s time we consider a new way forward – a merger that combines a modern approach to health and well-being with all that is good about the holidays. Let’s think about making our holiday rituals evolve around spending quality time with family, friends and loved ones FIRST, and the food as a complement to that quality time, rather than the food being the central theme, as it is for so many. Suggest the idea of taking a walk with your family and friends after dinner. Let’s teach our kids and the younger generation how to cook these foods in a healthy way, and the importance of physical activity. Why wait till January 1st to start your new resolutions? Now is the time for any worthy change you have in mind. Let’s use this holiday season as a time to start some healthy new traditions and a new way forward.
Just for fun, here is a quick video of what happens when you are not careful when removing the turkey from the pan. This was from a Thanksgiving Day at our home a few years ago….enjoy (warning…contains a little “fowl” language ) :
This has been a public service announcement from someone who cares. Happy holidays!
I am finally getting back to cooking after my accident and I’m just realizing how much I missed it! Don’t get me wrong I don’t mean that we’ve been eating restaurant food or pre-packaged crap, I just haven’t been up to trying new recipes
Last week I cooked a delicious roasted chicken with veggies. To make it simple, yummy and quick clean up, I place the chicken in a roasting pan, give it a through massage with olive oil, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, basil, oregano, and rosemary; then place chopped up veggies (potatoes, carrots, onions, celery and garlic) all around it, spray with a little olive oil, sprinkle with more of the same spices. Pop it in a 350° oven for 15 per pound and you have a heavenly meal
The best part is that we had a ton of leftovers….what to do, what to do! An amazing lunch the next day used up the remaining veggies, but we still had a ton of chicken. How about a chicken pot pie??
Chicken Pot Pie
2 whole wheat pie crusts (I use Wholly Wholesome from Whole Foods)
2 teaspoon olive oil
3 large potatoes, diced
1 – 1/2 cups baby carrots, cut into quarters
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon rosemary
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/4 teaspoon ground sage
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 -1/2 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
2-3 cups leftover roasted chicken, diced
1 cup frozen peas
1 Tablespoon Smart Balance
1 Tablespoon whole wheat flour
2 cups skim milk
Preheat oven to 400°
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the potatoes, carrots, onion, and garlic; season with the herbs and spices. Saute until the onion and garlic are soft. Add the chicken broth (you want just enough to cover the veggies – you might need a little less or a little more depending on the size of your skillet), turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil. Turn the heat back to medium-high and simmer until the carrots are just soft and most of liquid is absorbed. Add the cooked chicken and frozen peas; mix well. Remove all to a platter and keep warm. Add the Smart Balance to the skillet and get it melting. Add the flour and get it well incorporated into the melted butter. Using a whisk, slowly add the milk and keep whisking, over medium-high heat, until you have a smooth, thickened gravy. Add the veggies and chicken back to the pan with the gravy and mix well. Pour all into the pie crust, top with second crust; crimp the edges together and spray lightly with olive oil. Bake in pre-heated oven for 25 – 30 minutes or until nicely browned.
I know….I’ve been gone for a while and I really apologize. Eric and I had a very eventful summer It began with planning a 2 week trip back to our hometowns in New England, then the awesome trip itself, and then a week after we returned I was in a car accident while on the Rhett tour . I’ve been going to physical therapy and I’m getting better. However, I haven’t felt much like cooking for a while.
A couple of weeks ago we participated in a local event called “Art In The Park”. The little town next to ours, Kingston Springs, has this event every fall and it attracts all kinds of vendors; from art (of course) to homemade foods, books, jewelry, wood carvings, and more. I have to say it was really Eric who spearheaded this event, did the planning and all of the set up. I just showed up for a while and sat in a chair selling our goods (I have experience with that sort of thing!). We sold paintings, Eric’s book (The Nashville Musician’s Survival Guide), bags of homemade granola (we even gave away free samples of the granola), and my cookbook.
I’ll be you didn’t know I had a cookbook for sale…we’ll it’s not the official, finished version of the book I’ve been working on. It’s a “prototype” I decided that this event would be a great test to see if it could sell. Well, I’m happy to say that it did! I only printed a small run and I have 8 copies left.If anyone is interested you can click on “Add to Carat” link below and get your very own copy. They are $15.00 each and shipping is FREE!! Anyone that purchased this “prototype” will receive the full version of the cookbook (when it’s published) for free.
I have been working on several new recipes and I will be adding them here in the coming days. I’ve created a delicious Chicken Pot Pie and some yummy and fun Cod Fish Cakes….stay tuned It’s good to be back!
I was talking to a good friend of mine recently and telling her about my Spinach & Zucchini Pie that I made (she was one of those friends that used to indulge with me at the Salisbury Beach pizza place that served the decadent spinach pie back in the 90′s). She told me that her favorite way to eat spinach was in Spinach & Artichoke Dip. I realized that I’d never made one – so of course I had to get to work! I think it’s the best one I’ve ever tasted. Of course, I could be a bit biased. I hope you’ll try it and let me know what you think
Spinach & Artichoke Dip
1 – lb baby spinach
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small shallot, chopped
1 – 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup low-fat mozzarella cheese
3 Tablespoons fat-free cream cheese
1/4 cup low-fat Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup fat-free, plain Greek yogurt
Place spinach, garlic, and shallots into food processor. Blend until the spinach is chopped into tiny pieces. Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth.
Last night was one of those “I can’t decide what I want for dinner” nights. My son, Josh, was visiting so I asked him to decide (this way I don’t have to ). He said “How about burgers, maybe stuffed with some kind of cheese”? Well…that sounded pretty good.
Of course, if you read my blogs very often, you’ll know that I don’t eat red meat so these burgers would be turkey burgers. I always use 99% fat free ground turkey which can be dry when fully cooked (who wants a rare turkey burger ), so I’m always trying out ideas to “kick them up a notch”. I looked in the fridge and found that I had fat-free feta, mozzarella, and cream cheese – a good start; then I noticed that I also had some roasted red peppers from our most recent trip to Whole Foods – that will do it! When the burgers were almost done, I realized that I was out of my favorite sandwich rounds that I usually use in place of buns; but I did have some Nature’s Own 100% Whole Wheat Thin Sliced Bagels – that works!
My son loved them and my husband says they are the best turkey burgers he’s ever tasted….let me know what you all think!
Roasted Red Pepper & Feta Stuffed Turkey Burgers
4 -100% whole wheat thin sliced bagels
1/2 cup fat-free feta cheese crumbles
1/4 cup low-fat mozzarella, shredded
2 Tablespoons fat-free cream cheese
1 medium roasted red pepper, cut into pieces
1 Tablespoon plain fat-free yogurt
1 – 1/4 lbs. 99% fat-free ground turkey
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried onion flakes
1/2 teaspoon basil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Place the feta, mozzarella, cream cheese, red pepper pieces and the yogurt into a food processor and process until well blended (you might need to add a little more yogurt to get it to all process smoothly). You want to end up with a thick mixture that holds together. Set aside in a small bowl. (This amount made more than I needed for the four burgers, so I set aside the rest of it and spread it on top of the cooked burgers.)
Place the ground turkey in a large bowl, add the garlic powder, onion flakes, basil and vinegar; blend well. Press the mixture into an even ball in the bottom of the bowl; score into four even sections. Take one section at a time and break that into two even pieces, form each piece into a flat patty and place onto a plate. Take a couple of spoons of the cheese filling and spread onto one patty; top with another patty and press the edges together well.
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and spray with cooking spray. Add the stuffed burgers and cook 4 – 6 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cooked through. Top with some of the extra cheese mixture and serve on toasted bagel thins.
If you’ve read my previous blogs you’ll know that I LOVE to shop at Whole Foods. The last time Eric and I went there, I may have gone a little overboard with the produce – but everything looked so good! I bought a giant container of fresh, organic baby spinach. My plan was to make a Spinach Lasagna (which I did – it was awesome ); but Eric had warned me that there was still going to be a LOT left over – I disagreed….OK, he was right. So I had to come up with something delicious that would use up the rest of the spinach…that way I’m still technically right and I didn’t waste any food
Back in the mid 90′s I spent a bunch of time going to clubs in Salisbury and Hampton Beach (Massachusetts and New Hampshire). My friends and I would go and see either Shockwave or Jet City(our two favorite bands) at Bevie B’s or the Kon Tiki or Tequila Jacks (oh..the memories ) and at the end of the night, once the bars closed down, we would very often visit this little pizza place that was on the strip in Salisbury and order a piece of “Spinach Pie”. Those of you from New England know what I’m talking about. I don’t know if it was the time of night or “other circumstances” that made that pie so delicious, but it sure was tasty! I don’t even want to think about how much fat, salt and calories it contained, I was young, having fun, and I didn’t think about such things.
Now that I’m older (and wiser…no wisecracks…) I want that same delicious spinach pie, without the excessive junk. I think this recipe accomplishes that pretty well. I used a whole wheat pie crust, a mixture of fat-free and low fat cheeses, and added in some zucchini for fun. I made it for dinner last night for me, Eric and Josh and we all had it for lunch today – it’s all gone now…I think that says it all
Spinach & Zucchini Pie
1 9″ whole wheat pie crust (I use Wholly Wholesome from Whole Foods)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 cup onion, chopped
1 – lb. baby spinach
1 large zucchini, chopped
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon basil
1 cup fat-free feta cheese
1/2 cup fat-free mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup low-fat mozzarella cheese
1 cup egg substitute (or 4 eggs)
Preheat oven to 350°
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat; add garlic, onion, and zucchini. Saute until the onion is starting to soften. Add the baby spinach in small batches (it will look like way too much, but the spinach wilts down pretty quickly), continue sauteing until all the spinach has been added and is wilted down. Set aside and let cool slightly.
Combine feta, mozzarella cheeses and egg in a large bowl. Add in the cooled spinach mixture and mix well. Pour into the whole wheat pie crust. Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.