Posts Tagged ‘healthy’

Fettuccine Alfredo with Bacon

Friday, August 27th, 2010

This recipe is from Cooking Light magazine. I’m going to say that again, because you’d never expect it from the title, and it definitely bears repeating. This recipe is from Cooking Light magazine. It was very tasty, but somehow manages to be good for you (relative to other alfredo recipes, at least.

The sauce wasn’t quite as thick as I would’ve liked, so I may adjust the amount of flour next time. Using bacon drippings for a roux was a nice touch, as it added a smoky, salty flavor that wouldn’t have been included in the traditional butter. Normally, you don’t need a roux, of course, but it helps to compensate for the 1% milk in the place of the more traditionally heavy cream.

This wasn’t the best alfredo sauce I’ve ever had, but it was absolutely the tastiest “light” alfredo sauce I’ve ever tried. We’ll be making this again.

Photo from cookinglight.com

Fettuccine Alfredo with Bacon
Adapted from Cooking Light magazine, January 2010

Ingredients

  • 1  (9-ounce) package refrigerated fresh fettuccine (I substituted a high-quality dry pasta)
  • 2  slices bacon, chopped
  • 1  teaspoon  minced garlic
  • 1  tablespoon  all-purpose flour
  • 1  cup  1% low-fat milk
  • 2/3  cup  (about 2 1/2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper

1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain.

2. While pasta cooks, cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 4 minutes or until crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove bacon from pan, reserving drippings. Add garlic to drippings in pan; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Sprinkle flour over garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly; cook 2 minutes or until bubbly and slightly thick, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low. Gradually add cheese, stirring until cheese melts. Stir in salt. Add hot pasta to pan; toss well to combine. Sprinkle with bacon, parsley, and pepper.

Note: Even with all that cheese, the sauce wasn’t terribly thick. The original recipe suggested using some of the starchy pasta-cooking water to make the sauce, but I skipped it because I was afraid the results would be too watery. I think that was the right call. We had some leftover grilled chicken, so I threw that on top, but it would be fine without the chicken. whatever you prefer.

Pork Chops with Country Gravy

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

As you can probably tell, I went on a Cooking Light recipe spree last week. I can’t help it; it’s one of my favorite places to get recipes, especially when I’m in the mood to really cook. The instructions are simple enough, but the recipes tend to be a little more involved than a lot of the other “light” recipe sources I’ve used. They also tend to focus on real ingredients, instead of canned soup or other pre-made products. I like that too. Finally, the website’s rankings, reviews, and comments all help me to determine which recipes are worth a try and what good updates might be. It’s all very helpful. (They have other kinds of recipes besides healthy; Cooking Light is just one of several magazines in the recipe index. Go to myrecipes.com).

This recipe is classic comfort food. It reminds me of the chicken fried steak I grew up with. Except for the nutritional information. This version substitutes lean pork chops for the fatty steak, skips the breading and deep frying, and uses a reasonable amount of butter with low-fat milk to form the gravy. You wouldn’t have noticed the “lightness” of this though, which makes it even better. Instead of the herbs listed below, I used a ¾ teaspoon of poultry seasoning, which worked great. I served this with mashed potatoes and reduced-fat biscuits (store-bought. Not everything can be made from scratch, especially on a Wednesday!).

Pork Chops with Country Gravy
Adapted from Cooking Light magazine, June 2006

  • 1/4  cup  all-purpose flour (about 1 ounce)
  • 3/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  dried marjoram
  • 1/4  teaspoon  dried thyme
  • 1/4  teaspoon  dried rubbed sage
  • 4  (4-ounce) boneless center-cut loin pork chops (about 3/4 inch thick)
  • 1  tablespoon  butter
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/2  cups  1% low-fat milk

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Place flour, salt, dried marjoram, dried thyme, and dried rubbed sage in a shallow dish. Dredge pork in flour mixture, turning to coat; shake off excess. Reserve remaining flour mixture.

Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add pork to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Reduce heat, and cook for 10 minutes or until done, turning pork once. Remove pork from pan; keep warm.

Combine reserved flour mixture and milk in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk until blended. Add milk mixture to pan; place over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Reduce heat, and simmer 2 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring constantly. Serve with chops.

Two-Corn Polenta with Tomatoes & Basil

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

David and I have not, historically speaking, been big fans of polenta. My first experiences with polenta were way back when my mom was doing Weight Watchers in the late 90’s, when someone on the message boards convinced her to try the pre-made kind. It came in a tube, we sliced it and tried to pan fry it with olive oil, or maybe even cooking spray. Yuck. No flavor at all. Weird texture. No thanks.

Then, Alton Brown convinced me to try again. Not really compatible with Weight Watchers this time, since his recipe calls for plenty of cheese, butter, and whole milk.  It was also mildly complicated, as he extolled the virtues of “real” polenta, and asked me to avoid the instant stuff. Trusting Alton, I did. This was better than the first time, but I still remember being disappointed. Handfuls of good-quality cheddar, wasted. I ate my spoonful, but I didn’t really like it at all. It was mildly better sliced and pan-fried, but not great. I was ready to write off polenta altogether.

Except…

Something makes me WANT to like it. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know why I’m so determined. I’ve had it at restaurants, and still wasn’t a fan. Cheese couldn’t save it. But for some reason, when I saw this recipe at the Cooking Light site, I was willing to give it another try.

And this time, I was pleasantly surprised. The fresh sweet corn adds additional flavor and texture that the other recipes I tried were lacking. The parmesan added a salty richness, but the flavor wasn’t overwhelmingly cheesy. The fresh tomato and basil balanced the flavors. I subbed shallots for onions (I do this often—where onions are too much for me, I’ve learned to like the milder taste of shallots) and even liked the flavor that they added. It was really good. I went back for seconds. I’m pretty sure David did, too. And I even ate the leftovers for lunch the next day.

I never got around to slicing and frying this batch, but next time I make it, I’d make sure I got to try that with the leftovers. And there will be a next time.

Two-Corn Polenta with Tomatoes & Basil
Adapted from Cooking Light magazine, June 2008

Ingredients

  • 2  teaspoons  olive oil
  • 2  cups  chopped onion (2 medium)
  • 4  cups  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 2  cups  fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
  • 2  garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1  cup  instant dry polenta
  • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/8  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1  cup  chopped tomato
  • 1/2  cup  chopped fresh basil

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion to pan; cook 8 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in broth, corn, and garlic; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Slowly add polenta, stirring with a whisk until polenta is thick (about 5 minutes). Add cheese, stirring to melt. Stir in salt and pepper. Remove from heat; sprinkle with tomato and basil. Serve immediately.

Note: Bonus points for this recipe—I got to use my dutch oven! A heavy saucepan would work just fine though.

Cheddar & Brown Rice Risotto Cakes

Friday, July 30th, 2010

We buy our brown rice from Costco, a 12.5 pound bag of short grain brown rice from Lundberg Family Farms. Recently, I checked out their website and was pleasantly surprised to find a whole slew of recipes for all of their rice products, including several for the short grain variety we buy.

Naturally, this cheesy recipe caught my eye. It was tasty AND healthy, which is a great combination. Kind of like a potato pancake–cheesy, crispy around the edges, with the nutty flavor of brown rice. We really enjoyed these, and I’m sure we’ll make them again. They’d be good with other kinds of cheese as well. If you weren’t worried about the health aspects, full fat cheese and butter or olive oil in place of the nonstick spray would be delicious, but honestly, they were great the healthy way too. :)

I used leftover brown rice to make these cakes, which makes it even better.

Cheddar & Brown Rice Risotto Cakes

  • 1 cup (4-ounces) shredded low-fat Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Vegetable cookin spray
  • Applesauce (optional)
  • Lowfat sour cream (optional)
  • 2 cups cooked Lundberg Organic Short Grain Brown RiceCombine rice, cheese, onion, flour, salt and pepper in medium bowl. Beat egg whites with cream of tartar in small bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold beaten egg whites into rice mixture.

    Coat large skillet with cooking spray and place over medium heat until hot. Spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons batter into skillet for each patty; push batter into diamond shape using spatula. Cook patties, turning once, until golden brown on both sides. Serve warm with applesauce or sour cream. Makes about 1 dozen patties.

Meatless Monday: Chipotle Bean Burritos

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

We’ve been doing this Meatless Monday thing for several weeks, and it’s going pretty well. We’re typically pretty happy with the meals, though I can’t say I’ve gotten to the point where I wouldn’t rather have meat. As I said before, we’ve tried quite a few things. I think all of them have been either Italian-flavored or some variation on Tex-Mex, probably because these are cuisines that are more likely to include vegetables in the first place, and because the bold, fresh flavors help to make-up for the lack of meat. That’s meant plenty of pasta, panini, chili, and one of the first things we tried, these Chipotle Bean Burritos from January’s issue of Cooking Light.

I liked this recipe, in general. The beans had a really good flavor, even though chipotle is not usually my favorite seasoning. The beans were spicy, but not hot. We used a delicious Chipotle Chile & Peppers flavored tortilla, which I think added to the dish. The tortilla is made by Tumaro’s, soon to be available at Amazon, and is one of the best healthy tortillas I’ve ever tasted. Again, a hint of spicy flavor, but not hot. We used them for quesadillas this week, and will continue to buy them, I’m sure.

If meatless meals are your thing, you’ll definitely like these burritos. They were tasty and filling, and the recipe was a quick one. For those of us that lean towards the carnivore side of things, they were good, but not great. We all would’ve liked a little chicken or steak or some additional protein in there.

Cooking Light’s Chipotle Bean Burritos

  • 1  tablespoon  canola oil
  • 1  garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2  teaspoon  chipotle chile powder
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/3  cup  water
  • 1  (15-ounce) can organic black beans, drained
  • 1  (15-ounce) can organic kidney beans, drained
  • 3  tablespoons  refrigerated fresh salsa
  • 6  (10-inch) reduced-fat flour tortillas
  • 1  cup  (4 ounces) preshredded reduced-fat 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese
  • 1 1/2  cups  chopped plum tomato (about 3)
  • 1 1/2  cups  shredded romaine lettuce
  • 6  tablespoons  thinly sliced green onions
  • 6  tablespoons  light sour cream

1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in chile powder and salt; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in 1/3 cup water and beans; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in salsa. Partially mash bean mixture with a fork.

2. Warm tortillas according to package directions. Spoon about 1/3 cup bean mixture into center of each tortilla. Top each serving with about 2 1/2 tablespoons cheese, 1/4 cup tomato, 1/4 cup lettuce, 1 tablespoon onions, and 1 tablespoon sour cream; roll up.

Cheese-Stuffed Chicken Burgers

Monday, March 15th, 2010

This recipe comes from the Weight Watchers Comfort Classics cookbook, which I’ve recommended here on the blog before. As with each of the other recipes we’ve tried, this dish was tasty and simple. I wouldn’t say it was spectacular though. I don’t know if I’ll be making these again, since I can pull off the same points value (8) with lean ground beef if I’m careful.

One nice thing though: I ground the chicken breasts myself to make these burgers, which saved a little bit of money since we buy chicken breasts in bulk  and ground chicken can be a little bit on the expensive side. Yay for another chance to use the food grinder attachment for our stand mixer!

Cheese-Stuffed Chicken Burgers
Adapted from Weight Watchers Comfort Classics

  • 3/4 cup shredded 2% sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 pound ground chicken breast
  • 1/3 cup dried seasoned bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 light multigrain English muffins, split & toasted
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 4 lettuce leaves
  • 4 tomato slices
  • pickle slices

1. Mix the cheese and mustard together in a small dish. Stir the chicken, bread crumbs, and salt & pepper together in a medium bowl until just blended. Shape into 4 balls. With your index finger, make a deep indentation in each ball. Fill each indentation with 3 tablespoons of the cheese mixture. Fold the chicken mixture around the cheese to seal; shape each one into a patty.

2. Spray a nonstick grill pan with nonstick spray, and place over medium heat. (Could also be done on a George Foreman Grill, if you’re into that sort of thing). Place the burgers in the pan and cook until a thermometer inserted into the side of each burger (without touching the cheese) registers 165 degrees. It should take about 6-7 minutes on each side.

3. Serve the burgers in the english muffins topped with ketchup, lettuce, tomato, and pickles.

Lightened-Up Banana Bread

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

I love banana bread, and zucchini bread, and everything in that family, but most recipes I come across are insanely unhealthy. My grandma’s recipe for zucchini bread worked out to 15 points for a one-inch slice. Yummy, but yikes!

I tried this recipe with a healthy dose of skepticisim. I am suspicious of fat free cream cheese, for one. And I wasn’t quite sure how the baking mix would turn out in this.

It turned out great. The loaf made the house smell amazing, and I couldn’t wait for it to be finished so I could try it. It was one of those things I had to struggle to let cool before I tried it. Fortunately, it was worth the wait. The texture was light and crumbly–a little less dense than a traditional banana bread, and a little lighter in color. Otherwise though, the flavor was excellent. Next time, I think I’ll try it as muffins or mini-muffins, for a little built-in portion control. As it was, baked in the traditional loaf pan the nutritional info worked out to about 160 calories, 4 grams of fat, and less than one gram of fiber per slice, or 3 points.

Lightened-Up Banana Bread

1 cup sugar
1 (8-ounce) package fat-free cream cheese
1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 medium)
2 large eggs
2 cups reduced-fat baking mix (such as Bisquick)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.

Place sugar and cream cheese in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add banana and eggs; beat until well blended. Add the baking mix and walnuts, and stir just until moist.

Pour batter into a 9-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray; bake at 350° for 45 minutes. Tent bread with foil, and bake an additional 15 minutes.or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

Yield: 16 servings (serving size: 1 slice)

Note: I think this recipe came from the Weight Watchers message boards, but I’m not 100% sure. If anyone knows the source, let me know and I’ll be sure and give credit. This would be great with chocolate chips, dried cranberries, or any of the other classic additions to banana bread.

Does anyone else have any favorite “light” baked goods recipes?

Pork Tenderloin with Mustard Sauce

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

This very tasty dish from Cooking Light magazine turned out to be both simple and yummy–plus had a kind of fancy look to it as well. I think this could absolutely be served for entertaining.

The pork slices were tender, and the sauce was tangy and delicious. Our roommate Leah isn’t a fan of mustard, but she still enjoyed this sauce. It was so good, I was glad the noodles were there to soak up every last drop. It would also be good over mashed potatoes.

Pork Tenderlion with Mustard Sauce
Adapted from Cooking Light, October 2001

Ingredients

  • 2 cups uncooked medium egg noodles
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut crosswise into 12 (1-inch-thick) slices
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons whole-grain Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

Directions:

Cook noodles according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.

While the noodles cook, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the pork with pepper and salt. Place pork in pan; cook 5 minutes, turning once.

Combine the wine and mustard; pour into pan. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Remove pork from pan; keep warm.

Combine water and cornstarch in a small bowl. Stir cornstarch mixture into pan; bring to a boil, and cook 1 minute or until thick. Serve pork with sauce and noodles.

Calories: 242, Fat: 8g, Fiber: 1 g

Italian White Bean, Bacon and Tortellini Soup

Monday, January 25th, 2010

I love cookbooks. It feels like I have a million of them, but I’m never disappointed to receive another. I got a few great ones for Christmas, which you’ll be hearing more about soon, I’m sure. One of the cookbooks I got recently (technically not a Christmas gift, but that’s okay) is Giada De Laurentiis’s Everyday Pasta. I like this book a lot. It ranges from Salads and Starters to Sides to Main Dishes, and has a lot of quick and easy dishes, along with more sophisticated ones. We tried one of the more quick and easy dishes last week, this twist on a chicken tortellini soup. The recipe below includes my tweaks on the original. I subbed bacon for the pancetta, because it was what we had on hand, but also cut down on the bacon and oil a bit to lighten the dish. I also used a whole grain fresh tortellini for the pasta. With these substitutions, it ended up being about 6 points for a very hearty bowl of soup. With some crusty bread on the side it was a great winter weeknight dinner.

Italian White Bean, Bacon and Tortellini Soup
Adapted from Everyday Pasta (by Giada De Laurentiis)

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • three slices of bacon, chopped
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 15-ounce can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 6 c. low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 9-ounce package cheese tortellini, fresh or frozen
  • 1/8 t. freshly ground black pepper

In a large, heavy soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the bacon, shallots, carrot and garlic. Cook until the bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the beans and broth.

Bring the soup to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to the heat to a simmer. Add the tortellini and cook 5 minutes for fresh, 8 minutes for frozen, or until just tender. Season with pepper and serve.

Serves 4 to 6.

Oven-Fried Chicken with Sage Gravy

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

This is another Weight Watchers recipe, from the Comfort Classics cookbook. Along with the Macaroni & Cheese on the cover, this was one of the first recipes to catch my eye, in part because of the very tasty-looking picture. I’ve tried corn flake style breading before, and wasn’t that impressed, but this baked, “oven-fried,” fried chicken fake out had a perfectly crispy, crunchy crust. I think it was the buttermilk. Next time, I think I’d up the salt and pepper content, because it could’ve used a little more flavor. Otherwise, though, I liked this recipe a lot.

Crispy Oven-Fried Chicken with Sage Gravy

  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons four
  • 2 egg whites, beaten
  • 1 1/3 cup cornflake crumbs
  • Bone-in, skin-on chicken, about 2 pounds worth (use the pieces you like)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (would increase next time)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4  cup fat-free buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with foil.  Place a wire rack in the pan, spray the rack lightly with nonstick spray.

2. Place 1/2 cup flour in a shallow dish. Put the egg whites in another shallow dish. Place the cornflake crumbs in a third dish.

3. Place the chicken in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and cayenne. Add the buttermilk and turn to coat. Dip the chicken, one piece at a time, into the flour, then the egg whites, then the cornflake crumbs. Place the chicken on the rack. Spray the top of the chicken lightly with nonstick spray. Bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 45 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, to make the gravy, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium high heat. Whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons flour and cook, whisking frequently, for about a minute. Gradually whisk in the chicken broth. Continue whisking and cooking, until the gravy comes to a boil and thickens, about 2 minutes. Stir in the sage and pepper. Serve the gravy with the cooked chicken.

310 calories, 11 grams of fat, and 1 fiber, for about 2 pieces of chicken.