Monday, June 30, 2008

Lemon Blueberry Smoothies

I love smoothies. I often have one in the afternoon to keep those late afternoon cravings at bay. Also helps get in those fruit and dairy servings that I sometimes struggle with. Here is a favorite one, but you can definitely change it up to suit your own tastes.

1 (8 ounce) container blueberry sugarfree, nonfat yogurt
1/4 cup skim milk (may need to add more to make it blendable)
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup frozen strawberries
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon sugar-free powdered lemonade mix (I also like Crystal Light Raspberry Lemonade)
1 packet of Splenda

Place yogurt, milk, blueberries, strawberries, and lemonade mix in a blender. Pulse until smooth and creamy.

Can't get much more simple than that. I make smoothies with just about any flavored yogurt and frozen fruit.

Another one of my favorites is peach yogurt with frozen mangoes and peaches! Get creative!!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Caribbean Chicken with black beans and mango

I was wanting a fun new way to cook chicken and read a bunch of different recipes and combined what I considered the best elements of each. Don't be intimidated by the long list of ingredients. Most are things you have in the pantry and substitutions can easily be made.

1/4 cup lime juice
2 tablespoon balsamic, red wine or apple cider vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons splenda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 TBSP. Worchestshire sauce

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted and diced
1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 onion chopped
3 TBSP fresh chopped cilantro (optional)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips (optional)
1 avocado chopped in small pieces (optional)
1 TBSP. olive oil
3 - 4 dashes of hot sauce
1 TBSP. Splenda

Whisk together lime juice, balsamic vinegar, garlic, Splenda, Worchestshire sauce, salt, and pepper until blended. Slowly whisk in olive oil until incorporated. Mix half of this dressing with the chicken breasts, cover, and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Refrigerate the remaining dressing for later use.
Heat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat. Grill chicken breasts until no longer pink, about 6 minutes per side. Rest for 5 minutes then slice into bite-sized pieces.

While chicken is grilling, saute' chopped onion and red pepper in a skillet with 1 TBSP. olive oil. After onions become translucent. Stir in black beans and cilantro. Add dashes of hot sauce and 1 TBSP splenda. Keep on low heat. Once chicken is cooked and resting, stir in chopped avocado and mango. Stir in grilled chicken pieces and remaining dressing. Heat through. Be careful not to stir too often or too hard. Serve with brown rice.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Fish Tacos with a lime cream sauce

My friend, Lisa, was telling me about fish tacos. My husband loves them and sometimes orders them when we go out to eat. I decided to try my own hand at them. They made for a really yummy dinner tonight.

1 TBSP Olive Oil
2 -3 cloves minced garlic
4 - 5 TBSP lime juice
4 - 5 shakes of hot sauce
1 tsp ground cumin
2 TBSP fresh chopped cilantro (could use dried as well, just use less)
Zest from 1/2 a lime
1/2 small can chopped green chilis
4 - 5 Tilapia fillets (or your favorite type fish, I think any would work)
Whole wheat tortillas
Toppings: Finely shredded cabbage, sliced avocado or guacomole, chopped tomatoes, favorite salsa, black olives, black beans, etc.

Heat olive oil in large skillet. Add garlic and lime juice cook for about 1 minute. Add next 5 ingredients. Heat through for about 2 minutes. Add fish fillets and cook through - white and flaky. (make sure not to overcook)

Lime Cream Sauce
1 cup Reduced-fat sour cream
Zest from the remaining 1/2 of lime
Juice from that lime
Remaining 1/2 of the can of chopped green chilis
1 TBSP of chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp ground cumin
4-6 shakes of hot sauce (more if you like it hotter)

Stir all ingredients together. This would actually make a great sauce for fajitas, tacos, etc.

Layer on top of the tortilla ~ fish pieces, lime cream sauce and any other toppings you like.

Super quick, easy and tasty!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Spiedies (or the best marinade for grilled chicken)

My dad grew up in upstate New York near Binghampton. I remember as a child going to visit my grandparents and having the most delicious grilled chicken I'd ever eaten. They eat Spiedies up in New York in small bite-sized pieces, but my grandmother would marinate split chickens (or chicken breasts) and grill them. I'm going to have to make some soon~

5 pounds chicken, cubed or 6 split chicken breasts
2 cups olive oil
1 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons salt
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon garlic salt
3 tablespoons crushed dried mint
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
12 wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes (only if using cut up chicken)

Place the cubed chicken or chicken breasts into a large resealable plastic bag or container, add the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, garlic, garlic salt, oregano, garlic salt, mint, basil, and black pepper. Seal the container and shake until combined. Refrigerate for 1 to 3 days (the longer the better), shaking the container and turn the meat every 6 to 8 hours.

If you are cooking the split chicken breasts, put the chicken and marinade in a large baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. Cook in the oven in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes. This will help cook the chicken all the way through without risking it being scorched on the grill.

Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat and lightly oil grate. When you are ready to cook, remove meat from the marinade and place on skewers or take the partially cooked chicken out of the oven and put on the grill.

Place the skewers on the preheated grill and cook, turning every three minutes until cooked through and the internal temperature of the meat reaches 170 degrees F. Be careful not to overcook or the meat will be very dry. The bite-sized chicken is great by itself, on whole wheat hoagie rolls or on a salad.

Curry Chicken Salad

I remember my mom making this chicken salad while I was growing up. It is still a favorite dish and one that I love. It's got lots of good stuff in it that make it good for you.

3 cooked skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, chopped (can boil the chicken in water, salt and pepper or purchase a rotisserie chicken and take the meat off)
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 1/2 - 2 cups seedless red or white grapes that are halved
3/4 cup rough chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise (do not use Miracle Whip)
2 teaspoons curry powder
salt and pepper to taste.

In a medium bowl, stir together the chicken, celery, grapes, nuts, mayonnaise, and curry powder, salt and pepper. Chill for a couple of hours to let the flavors blend together. Add curry powder to taste.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Homemade Black Bean Burgers

I love black bean burgers and I love that I can eat them without feeling guilty AT ALL! This is a recipe I found on one of the Southbeach websites. It is really yummy!

1 (16 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 green bell pepper, cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 onion, cut into wedges
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 egg
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon Thai chili sauce or hot sauce (optional)
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs

If grilling, preheat an outdoor grill for high heat, and lightly oil a sheet of aluminum foil. If baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees F and lightly oil a baking sheet.
In a medium bowl, mash black beans with a fork until thick and pasty.
In a food processor, finely chop bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Then stir into mashed beans.
In a small bowl, stir together egg, chili powder, cumin, and chili sauce.
Stir the egg mixture into the mashed beans. Mix in bread crumbs until the mixture is sticky and holds together. Divide mixture into four patties.

If grilling, place patties on foil, and grill about 8 minutes on each side. If baking, place patties on baking sheet, and bake about 10 minutes on each side.

My favorite way to eat a black bean burger is with a slice of low-fat swiss cheese, some sliced avocado, lettuce and tomato. Eat it with or without a whole wheat bun!

Other topping ideas: sauteed onions, spicy BBQ sauce, any low-fat cheese, steak sauce, mustard, low-fat mayo, ketchup, pickles, etc.

James loves Pepper Jack cheese and jalepenos.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Yummy Summer Drink

One drink has less calories and carbs then a glass of red wine. This drink is only 69 calories and 0 carbs. Not too bad! And it will carry you to the "beach" in 3 seconds flat. For me a little treat now and then makes the program much easier to stick with.

1 1/2 ounces of Mango Flavored Rum

That's it!

In a high-ball glass filled with ice, pour in shot of the mango-flavored rum. Top with Fresca. Stir and I swear you can feel the warm breezes flowing and smell the salt air. Turn on some Jimmy Buffet and enjoy your evening!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Easy Crock-Pot Chicken Fajitas

This is a great dish to make in the morning in your crockpot and have dinner ready when you get home in the evening.

Frozen chicken breasts (enough for 1 per person plus a couple extra if you want leftovers for lunch the next day)
1 - 2 bags frozen triple peppers and onion mix (we like a lot of peppers and onions so we use 1 1/2 - 2 bags)
Large jar of favorite salsa
1 packet fajita seasoning (found with the Mexican food items)
1 - 2 cans drained and rinsed black beans (optional)
Whole wheat flour tortillas
Favorite toppings: low fat sour cream, avocado or quacamole, lettuce, cheese, black olives

Put frozen chicken breasts in the crockpot (make sure they are frozen, this will help make sure they don't over cook). Add frozen peppers and onions. Sprinkle fajita seasoning on top. Pour large jar of salsa on top. Cook on low for 8 - 10 hours. About an hour before serving add black beans if using and heat through.

Serve with tortillas and toppings.

Spanikopita (or Greek Spinach Pie)

Spinach is a fantastic food to incorporate into your diet. Here are two recipes that feature spinach. My kids love these recipes and it gets them to eat their spinach. Caroline even asked for me to make this recipe for her birthday dinner!

1/4 - 1/2 cup fat-free chicken broth
1 large onion, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds spinach, rinsed and chopped (or 3 packages of frozen spinach that is thawed and drained)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp. ground nutmeg (freshly grated is best)
2 eggs whites, lightly beaten
1/2 cup low fat ricotta cheese
1 cup crumbled low-fat feta cheese
8 sheets phyllo dough
2 TBSP cup olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray with nonstick spray a 9x9 inch square baking pan.
Heat 1/4 cup chicken broth in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Saute onion, green onions and garlic, until soft and lightly browned. Stir in spinach and parsley, and continue to saute until spinach is limp, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool - add more broth if needed for to keep food from sticking
In a medium bowl, mix together egg whites, ricotta, and feta, nutmeg and salt and pepper. Stir in spinach mixture. Lay 1 sheet of phyllo dough in prepared baking pan, and brush lightly with olive oil. Lay another sheet of phyllo dough on top, brush with olive oil, and repeat process with two more sheets of phyllo. The sheets will overlap the pan. Spread spinach and cheese mixture into pan and fold overhanging dough over filling. Brush with oil, then layer remaining 4 sheets of phyllo dough, brushing each lightly with oil. Tuck overhanging dough into pan to seal filling.
Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown. Cut into squares and serve while hot.

Spinach-stuffed chicken breasts or pork loin/chops

1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 clove minced garlic
1 cup low-fat/ff ricotta cheese
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves or 1/2 of a large pork loin butterflied or 4 butterflied lean pork chops
2 tablespoons favorite herbs (I like thyme, rosemary, parsley, sage)
2 tablespoons melted Smart Balance spread
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup low fat sour cream
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
Squeeze excess water out of thawed spinach; in a large bowl, mix spinach with onion, garlic and ricotto cheese, nutmeg and salt and pepper and set aside.
Season chicken breasts with your desired herbs. Make a pocket in the breast or split in half without cutting all the way through to make two thinner breasts that can be stuffed. Place 1/4 of cheese/spinach mixture in the center of each breast and fold in half. Secure with toothpicks and place in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking dish. Melt Smart Balance and then stir in whole wheat flour and cook for about 1 minute. Add chicken broth (add a bit more to make loose). Remove from heat and stir in sour cream and season with salt and pepper. Spread over chicken breasts. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for about45 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear. Makes 4 servings.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Guilt-Free Chocolate French Silk Pie

1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground pecans
2 T. Splenda or brown sugar substitute
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 T. canola oil
1 T. water

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine oats, flour, pecans, sugar substitute, and salt together in mixing bowl. In separate bowl, whisk together oil and water. Add oil mixture to dry ingredients and mix well. If necessary, add a little more water to hold mixture together. Press into a 9-inch pie pan and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.

3/4 cup Smart Balance, room temperature
1 cup and 2 TBSP Splenda
3 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened baking chocolate, melted and cooled
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 Pasturized eggs

Cream Smart Balance in a mixing bowl. Gradually beat in the Splenda with an electric mixer until light colored and well blended. Stir in the thoroughly cooled chocolate, and vanilla extract. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating 5 minutes on medium speed after each addition. Beat for an additional 5 minutes. Spoon the chocolate filling into a cooled, baked pie shell.

Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving and top with light Cool Whip.

Asian Slaw

6 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
5 tablespoons canola oil
5 tablespoons no sugar added peanut butter
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons Splenda brown sugar
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root (can use dry, but fresh is better)
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 TBSP sesame oil

8 cups thinly sliced cabbage (can use any type or combination of different types of cabbage you would like: Napa, Green, Red)
2 red or orange bell peppers, thinly sliced
2 carrots, shredded
6 green onions, chopped
Can also add thinly sliced and juliened radishes
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Sunflower seeds

In a medium bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing in bowl or jar (I prefer a jar with a lid so I can shake the dressing. In a large bowl, mix the cabbage, bell peppers, carrots, green onions, and cilantro.

You can toss the salad with the salad dressing right before serving or serve on the side to add individually. This recipe makes a lot of salad and is great for leftover lunches if dressing is added individually.

Top salad with sunflower seeds and enjoy.

Cream Cheese that is totally healthy!

The basic method and ingredients used in this recipe are great in a number of other recipes. Any recipe can be substituted for any that calls for cream cheese.

1 large container of non-fat plain yogurt
Cheese cloth
Various herbs or fruit (optional)

Place the yogurt into a cheese cloth that is inside a mesh strainer. Set over a bowl to catch the 'whey'. Sit in the refridgerator for 24 hours. As the yogurt drains it will become thick. If you want to make a delicious 'sour cream' drain for about 4-5 hours. After 24 hours the yogurt in your cheese cloth will now have the consistency and taste of cream cheese. Try it - you won't believe it.

If you would like to make herbed cream cheese or fruit flavored cream cheese. Stir in your favorite fresh or dried herbs or for fruit-flavored cream cheese some strawberry, blueberry or other fruit puree into the yogurt BEFORE you strain it.

You can also use Greek style yogurt to make it even more rich and creamy.

Sugar-free BBQ sauce

I made this sauce and my husband couldn't tell it was sugar free! Tastes great on grilled chicken, pulled pork or ribs.

1 - 8 oz can of tomato sauce
2 TBSP white or apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp Worchestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 clove chopped garlic (can use garlic powder)
1 TBSP Splenda Brown sugar or sugar-free maple syrup
1/3 cup diet cola

Mix all ingredients together. Simmer over low heat stirring occassionally until thickened. (I normally cook mine for about 1 - 1 1/2 hours.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Roasted Cauliflower - Or my new favorite food

This is my new most favorite food. It is amazing how excited I can be to buy a new head of cauliflower at the grocery store. Try this and let me know what you think.

1 head of cauliflower broken into bite-sized pieces or 2 bags of frozen cauliflower
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Place cauliflower pieces on a baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil on top of cauliflower and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook in a 425 degree oven for about 20 - 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve. How easy is that!!!!!!

This method of cooking vegetables is also delicious with broccoli, asparagus and brussel sprouts.

Spicy Thai Chicken

I may never go out for Thai chicken again! James agrees!

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 TBSP olive or canola oil
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 TBSP curry powder
1 tsp ground or freshly grated ginger (if you can do fresh, it is so much better)
1 (13.5 ounce) can light - no sugar added coconut milk (look in the ethnic aisle)
1/2 - 2/3 cup chicken broth
1/2 - 1 tsp red thai curry paste (the more you use the spicier it is, start small and add from there)
1 TBSP - Brown sugar splenda

Season chicken well with salt and pepper. Heat oil in skillet and cook chicken until lightly browned and cooked through. Using a slotted spoon transfer chicken to a plate. Cook onion until translucent. Add garlic, curry powder and ginger to the same skillet and cook until fragrant - about 2 minutes. Add coconut milk, broth, curry paste and brown sugar splenda. Stir just until mixed through. Stir back in chicken and simmer for about 10 - 15 minutes or until sauce is thickend and reduced. Stir often. Serve with jasmine or brown rice if desired.

Baked Eggplant Parmesan

This is a delicious low-carb, lower fat way to enjoy Eggplant Parmesan. My family loves it (even the kids). I serve it with some whole wheat pasta. (just make sure to watch your portions if you are trying to lose weight).

2 eggplants sliced in thick 1/2 inch slices (I leave the peel on them).
2 cans diced tomatoes or tomato sauce
Italian herbs (dry or fresh - oregano, basil, parsley etc.)
Olive Oil
1 -2 cloves garlic chopped
1 pint container low-fat ricotto cheese
1 cup - 2% shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup - Low fat grated parmesan cheese

After slicing eggplant, place it on a cookie rack (or other similar rack where the vegetables can drain). Sprinkle liberally with salt. Let sit for about an hour and then rinse with water. Place eggplant on a cookie sheet that is sprayed with non-stick spray. Rub some olive oil over the eggplant slices and sprinkle with some Italian herbs/spices (I use dry for this). Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Spray a 9X13 pan with non-stick spray. Combine tomatoes with Italian herbs and garlic. Spread a little of the tomatoe mixture in the bottom of the pan. Put one single layer of eggplant on top of the tomato sauce Lightly sprinkle (about 1/2 cup) with parmesan cheese. Spread with 1/2 container of ricotta cheese. Top with 1/2 of remaining sauce. And then repeat layers, ending with sauce. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 35-40 minutes. During last 10 minutes sprinkle lightly with mozarella cheese and continue baking until cheese is melted and bubbling.

Baked Oatmeal Muffins

This is a great way to have a fast breakfast for those on-the-go days.

1/4 cup canola oil
2/3 cup splenda
2 eggs
3 cups dry oatmeal
1 to 2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup fat free milk
1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
Wisk oil, splenda, and eggs. Add cinn, baking powder, salt, vanila and wisk again. Add oatmeal then milk and yogurt and mix. Spray a muffin tin pan with non-stick spray. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. - Makes 8 muffins.

My FAVORITE - add a cup of fresh blueberries
Add some chopped or thin sliced apple.
Peanut butter & mini chocolate chips .
Can be baked in a 9-inch round cake pan or 9x9 cake pan and cut into 8 pieces.

Store individual muffins in zipper bags in the freezer. Heat in the microwave for about 1 minutes and breakfast is served!

Grilled Chicken Piccata

This is a great summer time recipe that can be used on any phase of a low-carb diet.

2 lemons
4 tsp. olive oil
4 tsp. snipped/chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley or tarragon or other favorites ~ can use one type or multiple)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
4 chicken breasts
1 Tbsp. drained capers
2/3 cup dry white wine or chicken broth

Zest the peel of one lemon and chop finely with your desired herbs. Mix with 2 tsp. olive oil, salt and pepper. Rub into both sides of the chicken breasts and let sit in the refridgerator for up to 8 hours. Grill on medium heat (can use indoor grill pan if desired) for about 15 minutes or until cooked through. While the chicken is cooking, combine juice of 1 1/2 lemons, 2 tsp. olive oil, white wine or broth and capers and let simmer while the chicken is cooking. Serve chicken topped with the lemon/wine sauce. Can serve with whole wheat pasta, brown rice or just yummy cooked veggies. Top with a little grated parmesan cheese.