Easy and Healthy Meals

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

menu

If you are like me, the holidays can get a little hectic, and it may be harder to make sure you are preparing healthy meals. Time is tight! For a quick meal, try a healthy poached salmon paired with green salad and rice, or opt for a simple meatloaf paired with a baked potato and vegetable. If you have some time in the morning, prepare the scalloped potatoes and muffins in the morning, and make this incredible meatloaf dinner that the family will love.

Wednesday November 30, 2011

Truvia

The world of sweeteners is? a confusing one,? and one that keeps growing. With trends like agave nectar, and ingredient labels listing xylitol and other unusual sounding sweeteners, you may begin to wonder what you are really eating. I was interested in knowing where and how all of these sweeteners are used today, so I came up with a little guide to help navigate me through the world of sweeteners.

Photo@ Kimberley K. Eggleston, licensed to About.com, Inc


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Hanukkah: a Festival of Lite

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Hanukkah feasting is not for the faint of heart. Many of the traditional foods, such as potato latkes, are fried in oil or rely heavily on dairy products. But that is the point. Oil is a powerful symbol of Hanukkah, and dairy has its place, too. So how can you enjoy a lower-fat Hanukkah yet stay true to the spirit of the holiday? Here are a few low-fat tips to help you enjoy your latkes and soufganiyot without feeling guilty.

For the vegans in your family, Jolinda Hackett, About's Guide to Vegetarian Food, has recipes for Vegan Latkes With Fresh Herbs and a Vegan Sweet Potato Kugel. For more on traditional Hanukkah food, Giora Shimoni, About's Guide to Kosher Food, can help.

As for everything else related to Hanukkah, from dreidels to menorahs, our Judaism site has everything you need to know.

Low Fat Potato Latkes c Fiona Haynes, licensed to About.com


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Top 10 Christmas Recipes

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Who can resist cute little gingerbread men or sugar-dusted holiday cookies? And Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a little eggnog. So here are some low or reduced fat versions of some holiday favorites, from main course to dessert.

1. Cranberry Apple Glazed Pork

Glazed with a seasonal cranberry apple sauce, this lean pork roast makes an ideal holiday centerpiece. Serve with roasted vegetables and low fat mashed potatoes or with steamed green beans and wild rice.

2. Christmas Turkey

Turkey is the traditional centerpiece in England, where I grew up. The breast meat is naturally low in fat, and the darker meat can be enjoyed, too. With just a small amount of oil, lemon and plenty of fresh herbs, you can roast a turkey that is fragrant and succulent.

3. Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts

Brussels Sprouts are a wonderful Christmas vegetable. Too often, however, they are over-boiled and end up gray and mushy. They should be green and crisp, marking a wonderful contrast to the softer and sweeter chestnuts.

4. Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Garlic mashed potatoes can be creamy and flavorful without all that butter and cream. Try this version for your holiday table. If you like, you can roast the garlic and mash it directly into the potatoes for a mellower, creamier effect.

5. Winter Fruit Salad

This citrus-based winter fruit salad combines two different kinds of orange and two kinds of grapefruit together with star fruit and jewel-like pomegranate seeds. If you don't want to wrestle with a pomegranate, the seeds are available at Trader Joe's.

6. Low Fat Eggnog

If you want to enjoy one of the great sweet treats of the season without feeling guilty, try this low fat eggnog recipe. Since only one egg yolk is used here, the eggnog might look a little pale. You could always add a few drops of yellow coloring to the mixture for the full effect. Finally, if you don't want to add alcohol, try a little rum extract instead.

7. Low Fat Gingerbread Men

Cut the fat not the flavor. These gingerbread men use half the butter normally used in most gingerbread cookie recipes. Applesauce helps the cookies retain their moisture and gives them a soft texture.

8. Low Fat Holiday Sugar Cookies

With almost half the butter of most sugar cookies, you can treat yourself to one of these low fat Christmas cookies without feeling too guilty. Top with sprinkles before baking or add a glaze afterwards using confectioner's sugar, lemon juice and some food coloring.

9. Reduced Fat Peppermint Cheesecake

Peppermint cheesecake makes a wonderful holiday dessert. Replacing full fat cream cheese with a combination of reduced-fat and fat-free cream cheeses helps to cut calories and fat. Serve this reduced fat dessert at your Christmas table this year.

10. Baked Pears with Cranberries and Walnuts

Not everyone likes pie during the holidays, so why not make Baked Pears with Cranberries and Walnuts? If you don't have pomegranate juice, use cranberry juice, red wine or apple cider instead. Enjoy with a scoop of low fat frozen yogurt or whipped topping sprinkled with a little cinnamon or nutmeg.

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How Food Companies are Manipulating Your Taste Buds

Wednesday, December 28, 2011
displayRecently, the show 60 Minutes ran a fascinating piece (see the video / see the written transcript) about how "flavorists" are employed by food manufacturers to -- well, addict us to foods. How the flavor should give a hit of wonderful flavor, but not linger long in the mouth, so you'll want more.

In part of it, Morley Safer interviewed flavorists about chicken flavoring at their company, Givaudan. Here's an excerpt:

"Stefan Strehler: We have here the whole lineup of some of the chicken flavors. So that's a roasted chicken flavor.

Safer: It sure is. The-- it absolutely matches it.

Givaudan makes flavors that match almost every kind of chicken imaginable.

Safer: This is crusty, fatty chicken.

Stefan Strehler: We just take a little skin here and then you smell like that now, you get much more of those fatty, crusty notes. And when you smell that flavor...

Safer: Yes, it sure is.

Safer: Now-- what is this? Is this actually chicken?

Stefan Strehler: It can be, yes.[...]

Worker: This is a chicken flavor as a liquid in the tanks.

An endless stream of brown liquid - part chicken - part chemical - all flavor."

Let's remember, kids are now growing up on these flavor-enhanced foods. From their fruit drinks to their ready made school lunches to just about any packaged food in the grocery store. We are coming to believe that this is the way food should taste. Foods that aren't "enhanced" that we might venture to call "actual food" are considered boring by comparison. And people are losing their good health by eating all these processed foods.

Photo: Sakis Papadopoulos/Getty Image

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The Cookie Exchange Continues

Tuesday, December 27, 2011
About.com's popular cookie exchange continues with these delightful offerings from three of my colleagues, beginning with our Spanish food experts. Christmas in Spain is a time of merriment and plenty of sweets! Many traditional Spanish Christmas cookies are made with almonds, honey, anise, sugar and/or fruit. Lisa & Tony Sierra, About's Guides to Spanish Food, give us this list of favorite Spanish Christmas cookie recipes - Top Traditional Spanish Christmas Cookies from various regions of Spain.

From our Southern Food Guide, these Molasses Crinkles are easy to make and fill the house with wonderful aroma as they bake. Or choose the buttery Pecan Praline Cookies for an extra-special holiday treat.

Our Guide to Local Foods, Molly Watson, likes to bake cookies with specific regional associations, like these Bizcochitos, traditional cinnamon anise sugar cookies from New Mexico. See all of her Christmas Cookie Recipes for more ideas to help fill out your cookie plate this year.


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Winter Vegetable Soup

Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Even though winter is technically still one week away, the thermometer suggests otherwise. On the coldest of days I like nothing better than a warming bowl of soup. It's so much more satisfying to make your own rather than open a can. This winter vegetable soup is a perfect example. I find it quite therapeutic to chop veggies, set them in a pot, add some tomatoes and broth, and let it all simmer away, filling my kitchen with a wonderful aroma. Then, to make the soup more hearty, instead of adding cream, I simply puree the vegetables, leaving me with a velvety thick, nourishing and delicious lunch.

Winter Vegetable Soup Photo c 2011 Fiona Haynes, licensed to About.com


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Chestnuts

Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Here’s a riddle for you: When is a nut not just a nut? When it’s a chestnut. Because of their high starch content (twice that of potatoes), chestnuts have historically been used more as a vegetable than a nut. In some parts of the world they are still used as a potato substitute. This speaks of the chestnut's versatility. Roast them, use them in soups or as an accompaniment to vegetable dishes, puree them, or add them to stuffing. However you use chestnuts, you can be sure that this ancient food, is a good nutritional choice over the holidays. And once you figure out how to penetrate their forbidding hard mahogany exterior, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying a wonderful low fat, high fiber holiday treat.

So how exactly do you go about cracking this particular nut?
First, using the tip of a sharp paring knife, score an X on the flat side of the chestnut. Place scored chestnuts on a baking sheet and roast in a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes. This will cause the X to open up a little. If you actually want roasted chestnuts (rather than simply roasting them for peeling the skin), keep them in the oven for another 20 minutes, or until they are tender. While the chestnuts are still hot, peel the shell, then remove the papery skin. Once they cool, the shells are difficult to remove, so keep the batch warm while you work.

Finally, if the thought of wielding a sharp paring knife on a hard slippery shell concerns you, and you have a particular love of chestnuts, you might want to invest in a handy little gadget that will mark a perfect X. Looking much like a garlic press, the Chestnutter takes the work (and anxiety) out of shelling dozens of chestnuts, and more importantly, leaves your fingers intact.


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Celeriac Chips

Tuesday, December 27, 2011
It is vital to protect your fingers when using a slicer. Slicers come with hand guards which have little teeth which grip the vegetable. These are the best thing to use with a slicer. To increase the effectiveness of the guard, slice a flat surface on the vegetable for the guard to grip.

Cut-resistant gloves are another protective measure you can take. They are not cut-proof, but are very helpful. You can wear the glove when chopping vegetables and cutting meat as well. I am wearing a Microplane cut-resistant glove in this photo.

Compare Prices On Cut-Resistant Gloves.


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Easy Garden Lasagna

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

We make use of our fresh garden produce by using zucchini, mushrooms, and onions in this delicious low calorie lasagna dish. The mushrooms offer hearty texture so that the absence of meat is not missed.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 60 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 9 lasagna noodles
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (3/4 cup)
  • 1 25 oz. jar prepared tomato basil marinara sauce
  • 1 carton low-fat cottage cheese (1 1/2 lb.)
  • 1 large egg,
  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced (2 cups)
  • 1 lb. zucchini, thinly sliced (2 1/2cups)
  • 6 oz. shredded, part-skim mozzarella cheese

Preparation:

1. Cook the lasagna noodles according to package directions. Drain, and set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

3. In a heavy skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onion, and cook 4 minutes, or until the onion is soft. Add the sauce, cottage cheese, egg, and mushroom. Reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.

4. Spray a 9x13 inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Place 3 lasagna noodles on the bottom of the pan. Next, layer 1/3 of the sauce mix, 1/3 of the zucchini, and then 1/3 of the cheese on top. Repeat this step, adding two more layers on top of the first, using the remaining noodles, sauce, zucchini, and cheese.

5. Cover with tin foil, and bake of 350°F for 45 minutes.

Serves 12

Per Serving Calories 222


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The Original Latkes were Low-Carb!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Hanukkah(Repeat blog from 2010) I love food history, so I was really delighted when a friend (thanks, Dr. F.!) sent me this interview with Gil Marks, who is a rabbi, food writer, historian, and chef.

Did you think potato latkes are the original true latke? Nope! Potatoes are from the New World, and weren't really prevalent in Europe until about 200 years ago. Marks says that latkes for Hanukkah got their start in Italy, with the primary component being ricotta cheese! He provides a recipe for cheese latkes, and I found another one that has less flour. Marks also says that traditionally, Jews did not eat a lot of grains.

Yet another lower-carb option for Hanukkah!

Photo: Gary Faber/Getty Images

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Christmas Eve Menu

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Some families prepare a large turkey or ham feast on Christmas Eve, but my family saves the big meal for Christmas Day, and indulges in a hot pot of soup of stew on a cool Christmas Eve. This Christmas Eve menu includes posole, and flavorful mexican stew of pork, hominy, and fresh veggie toppings. The menu is especially easy on the cook, as most of the items can be prepared ahead of time so that they, too, can enjoy a relaxing Christmas Eve.

1. Baked Tortilla Chips

Kimberley K. Eggleston

Start the evening out by feeding your hungry crowd an appetizer of these delicious and crunchy baked tortilla chips. Using a pizza cutter to slice the corn tortillas into triangles seems to be the most efficient way of making the chips beautiful and uniform. You could make these chips early in the day, store in an airtight container, and serve that evening to save a little time.

2. Two-Tomato Salsa

Kimberley K. Eggleston

Here is the accompaniment for your baked tortilla chips. It is a very eye-pleasing, low calorie salsa with bright red and yellow tomatoes and fresh green cilantro, which adds to the holiday theme. This salsa can easily be prepared up to two days in advance, and stored in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve it.

3. Low Calorie Posole

Kimberley K. Eggleston

Here is the main event. Posole, a mexican-style stew with pork and hominy, is hearty, satisfying and very eye-catching as it is usually topped with shredded green cabbage and bright red sliced radishes. Make a large pot of this delicious stew, and allow it to simmer (with the lid on) until you are ready to eat. Your family or guests can continue filling their bowls with warm stew until they are content.

4. Whole Grain Corn Bread

Kimberley K. Eggleston

This whole grain corn bread is a wonderful accompaniment for the main dish, the posole. For some reason, corn bread seems to go well with any soup or stew with a mexican flare. This recipe uses whole-wheat flour for increased fiber content. If you prefer your corn bread a little sweeter, include a small amount of warm honey on the table.

5. Low Calorie Baked Pears

Kimberley K. Eggleston

Christmas is a time when chocolatey, sugary sweets and desserts abound. This may cause panic for those who are really trying to watch their waistline. Instead of making a gooey, calorie-laden dessert, indulge in these naturally sweet baked pears, stuffed with wholesome dried fruits and nuts. Only a very small amount of sugar is used in the syrup, and the rest of the sweetness occurs naturally from the fruits and orange juice used in the dish.

6. Low Calorie Hot Chocolate

Kimberley K. Eggleston

Finish off the evening with a steaming mug of hot chocolate. Including a mini candy cane with each serving adds a hint of mint flavor and a lovely finishing touch to the meal (all the while adding only a few additional calories). The hot chocolate comes together very quickly, so it will not be a huge burden on the cook.


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Low-Carb Christmas Breakfast

Monday, December 26, 2011
ChristmasWhat do you like to eat on Christmas morning? Being of French-Canadian extraction, we always had a spiced meat pie called Tortiere for Christmas breakfast when I was growing up. Now I make something similar without the crust - I call it Tortiere Hash. It's made with ground beef and pork, and spiced with poultry seasoning, quite a lot of pepper and a small amount of cloves. As a beverage/fruit, I like some diet cranberry juice, which contrasts well with the rich hash.

Eating a good low-carb breakfast gets your day off to a healthy start, and there will be less temptation to munch throughout the day. Here are some festive ideas:

Photo c Marmion from Stockxpert

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Planning Christmas Dinner

Monday, December 26, 2011
ChristmasWe're into the Final Countdown to Christmas now! In our house, we usually have turkey again on Christmas. But whatever your favorite Christmas dinner, the approach to cutting carbs is the same. Check out my tips and tricks in Planning Your Low-Carb Holiday Dinner. Also, here are some Christmas dinner ideas from around About.com. Many of the ideas on the pages I've selected are low in carbohydrate. And no matter what you choose to eat on Christmas, have a merry, happy, and wonderful day!Photo: Peter Cade/Getty Images

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More From Our Virtual Cookie Exchange

Monday, December 26, 2011

I have some more irresistible cookie delights to share, thanks to my wonderful colleagues on About.com's food channel. With this annual cookie exchange, the usual caveat applies: many of these cookies are not low fat. Nonetheless, these sweet treats can be made to share and to give as gifts from your holiday kitchen. So let's begin with some South American alfajores, which are are fun to decorate and delicious to eat. Marian Blazes, Guide to South American food, also suggests gingerbread llamas and coconut rollout cookies.

About's Guide to Whole Foods Cooking, Jen Hoy, comes from an Italian family, and biscotti are part of her holiday baking tradition. Try her Chocolate Walnut Biscotti, classic Cherry Almond Orange Biscotti, or Vegan Cherry Almond Biscotti. These cookies are easy to make and keep well, so they are perfect for cookie gift boxes.

German Christmas Cookies

German Christmas cookies are popular all over the world, and for good reason. Beautiful to look at and delicious too, they embody Old-World ideas and flavors: spices, nuts, jams, marzipan and chocolate. Jennifer McGavin, Guide to German food, has put together this list of German cookie recipes for you to check out. A new favorite is sure to be among them!


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Low Calorie Potato Dish

Monday, December 26, 2011

This low calorie potato dish is served perfectly alongside anything from meatloaf to fish to chicken. We use swiss in our scalloped low calorie potato dish for a little twist on traditional scalloped potatoes.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 60 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb. yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch slices (about 4 large potatoes)
  • 4 oz. shredded swiss cheese
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups skim milk

Preparation:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Spray a 2-quart casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Spread half of the potatoes on the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle 2 oz. of the cheese on top, then use a knife to distribute pieces of 1 tablespoon of the butter. Repeat the process for the next layer.

3. In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil, stirring constantly. Pour the milk over the potato mixture.

4. Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes, until the potatoes are fork-tender.

Serves 6

Per Serving Calories 202


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Turkey Tips

Monday, December 26, 2011
If you get nervous at the very thought of cooking a Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey, you’re not alone. Fortunately, there are many resources available so we can prepare our feasts without fear of giving Auntie May food poisoning, or bringing a burnt offering to the table. So long as you follow basic food-safety rules, monitor the turkey while it’s cooking and have a timetable for preparing the rest of the meal, chances are your Turkey Day will go off without a hitch. Here are some helpful tips on how to handle your turkey:

Thawing a Frozen Turkey

If you are buying a frozen turkey, allow plenty of time for it to defrost. You can defrost the turkey in the refrigerator or in cold water. Never defrost a turkey at room temperature.
  • Defrosting the bird in the refrigerator is the safest method, and also requires the least maintenance. Leave the turkey in its original wrapping and place it in a baking pan, breast side up. Allow 24 hours of thawing time for every five pounds of turkey.
  • If you choose to use the cold water method, put the turkey, still in its original wrapping, in a large sealed bag to prevent contamination. Place the turkey in a basin or bath and cover with cold water. Change the water completely every 30 minutes. You should allow 30 minutes of thawing per pound. Undoubtedly this is a faster (though labor-intensive) method, but there is a risk of bacterial growth near the surface of the bird as the interior continues to thaw. Once thawed this way, the turkey should be cooked immediately.

Handling a Raw Turkey

Make sure you use a separate cutting board and utensils for the turkey to avoid contaminating other foods. Be sure to wash your hands with hot, soapy water before touching anything else in the kitchen. Wash the cutting boards and utensils used for the turkey as soon as you are done with them. Use paper towels instead of cloths for clean up wherever possible.

Stuffing the Turkey

If you choose to stuff the turkey rather than cook it separately, stuff the bird just before it goes into the oven. Be sure to remove the giblets and rinse the turkey in and out with cold water first. Place the stuffing loosely into the turkey’s cavity. Remember, you will need to allow a longer cooking time if the bird is stuffed.

Cooking the Turkey

People have different ideas about how to cook a turkey. So long as you roast the bird at a minimum of 325 degrees until the thickest part of the inner thigh registers 180 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, you will be fine. The breast meat should register 170 degrees, and if the bird is stuffed, the stuffing must reach 165 degrees. See below for approximate cooking times.

Out of the Oven

Once out of the oven, allow the turkey to rest for at least 15-20 minutes to allow the juices to settle. The temperature of the bird will continue to rise. After carving the turkey, allow leftovers to cool slightly (but no more than an hour), then place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. Store leftover stuffing separately. Use within three days.

Finally, for those moments of panic on the day, there is plenty of help available from various turkey hotlines.

Turkey Cooking Times

WeightUnstuffedStuffed
8-12 pounds2 3/4 - 3 hours3 - 3 1/2 hours
12-14 pounds3 - 3 3/4 hours3 1/2 - 4 hours
14-18 pounds3 3/4 - 4 1/4 hours4 - 4 1/4 hours
18-20 pounds4 1/4 - 4 1/2 hours4 1/4 - 4 3/4 hours
20-24 pounds4 1/2 - 5 hours4 3/4 - 5 1/4 hours

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Brussels Sprouts and Chestnuts

Monday, December 26, 2011

Brussels Sprouts are a wonderful Christmas vegetable. Too often, however, they are over-boiled and end up gray and mushy. They should be green and crisp, marking a wonderful contrast to the softer and sweeter chestnuts. Glaze with a little broth and, if you're feeling indulgent, a small amount of butter, and your memories of soggy Brussels sprouts will hopefully fade.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 pound chestnuts
  • 1 1/2 pounds Brussels Sprouts
  • 2 tbsp fat free, reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • Ground black pepper to taste

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Mark chestnuts with an X on flat side and place them on a baking sheet; roast for 25-30 minutes, until tender. While still hot, remove shells and skin.

Trim Brussels sprouts and mark an X on the underside. Place in a large pot of boiling water and cook until just tender, about 8 minutes. Drain. Return to heat, add broth, butter and peeled chestnuts; cook for 1 minute and toss to coat. Season with freshly ground black pepper. Serves 4-6 as a holiday side dish.


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Low-Carb Gifts

Sunday, December 25, 2011
sugar-freeHow are you coming with your Christmas gift list? With less than two weeks to go, it's time to get a move on! Something I like to give to people who like to cook are kitchen gadgets, so healthy meals will be that much easier to put on the table. But for low-carbers, what could be better than food! If you have low-carbers on your list (or you want to drop some hints!) here are some ideas:

From the Kitchen (most of these are quick and easy):

More Low-Carb Gift Ideas:Photo of Easy Sugar-Free Fudge c by Laura Dolson

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Cranberry Orange Biscotti

Sunday, December 25, 2011
I hope you've had fun baking all kinds of cookies this holiday season, but perhaps you're not quite done. If you're looking for last-minute holiday treats to share, why not try some Cranberry Orange Biscotti, which are crunchy, twice-baked, low-fat cookies that pair well with coffee, eggnog or hot cider. And if you're looking for a hostess gift, these biscotti can be wrapped in a pretty cellophane bag and tied with ribbon.

To conclude our virtual cookie exchange, we have offerings from our Guide to Italian Food and Busy Cooks Guide. First, from Kyle Phillips, our Italian Cooking Guide, we have Ricciarelli di Siena, which are classic orange-laced Sienese almond paste cookies that were once a Christmas delight, but are now enjoyed year-round. They closely resemble soft amaretti. In preparing ricciarelli, you will need to add the ingredients in four distinct steps, labeled in the ingredients list A through D. The recipe makes a healthy number, but don't worry: They'll go quickly.

Linda Larsen, our Busy Cooks Guide, has some fast and simple recipes. Her Top 10 Christmas Cookies are all tried and true heirloom favorites. And here's a hot tip: Make the doughs for the cookies one day and refrigerate them. Then, the next day, shape, bake, and decorate. You'll have a kitchen stuffed with cookies before you know it.


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Low-Carb Tamale Pie

Sunday, December 25, 2011
This is a low-carb version of the usual tamale pie. It has a relatively thin top crust (and no bottom crust). I use almond meal and whey protein powder for the crust, but you can easily vary it. If you want a "cornier" crust, you can substitute some of the almond meal for corn meal, and add a tablespoon of water for each tablespoon of corn meal you switch. There will be 1 gram of extra carbohydrate per serving for every tablespoon of corn meal. Also, if you don't have any whey protein powder around, you can leave it out - the crust will just a little thinner.

Ingredients:

  • ? chopped raw onion
  • 1 ? lbs ground beef (I used 20% fat for the calculations)
  • 1 small green Bell pepper (or ? large)
  • 1 small red Bell pepper (or ? large)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder (or to taste)
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes (about 15 oz)
  • 1 small can chopped ripe olives (about 4 oz)
  • salt and pepper
  • Crust
  • ? cup almond meal
  • ? cup plain whey protein powder
  • 1 egg
  • ? cup juice from the tomatoes
  • ? teaspoon chili powder
  • ? teaspoon turmeric
  • ? teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or Mexican blend)

Preparation:

Heat oven to 350° F.

1) Drain the tomatoes, and save the juice.

2) Put the onion and the beef into a large skillet, and cook on medium-high heat, breaking up the beef as it cooks. When some of the fat from the beef begins is rendered out*, add the green and red peppers, and the chili powder. Cook until the beef is cooked through.

3) Add the drained tomatoes and the olives, and cook for another minute. Salt to taste.

4) Mix the ingredients for the crust together, except for the cheese.

5) Pour the beef and vegetables into a 9 X 13 inch pan, and pour the batter for the crust over the mixture. Sprinkle the cheese on top.

Bake about 15-20 minutes, or until crust begins to brown.

I usually cut it up into 12 squares, with 2 squares making a serving.

* If you want to reduce calories, pour off some of the fat.

Nutritional Information: Each of six servings has 6.5 grams effective carbohydrate plus 3.5 grams fiber (10 grams total carbohydrate), 34 grams protein, and 498 calories.


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Low Fat Ham and Cheese Strata

Monday, December 12, 2011

Make this low fat ham, cheese and spinach strata for a casual weekend brunch. It's a perfect low fat brunch option at Easter, a time when you might want to enjoy an egg-based dish. Using reduced fat cheese plus a mix of whole eggs and egg whites helps reduce the amount of fat and cholesterol. Use one cup of egg substitute instead of the egg combination if you prefer. This strata can be assembled the night before. Simply cover and refrigerate until ready to bake.

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 10 ounces day-old Italian or French bread, cut into cubes
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 4 egg whites
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 1 cup reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 10-ounce package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 4 slices lean cooked ham. chopped
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Coat an 11 X 7-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs and egg whites together. Add milk, half the cheese, mustard, spinach and ham. Stir well. Add bread cubes and toss well. Pour egg and bread mixture into baking dish. Top with remaining cheese and freshly ground black pepper.

Bake uncovered for 40 minutes.

Serves 8.

Per Serving: Calories 203, Calories from Fat 51, Total Fat 5.7g (sat 2.6g), Cholesterol 67mg, Sodium 564mg, Carbohydrate 23.8g, Fiber 2.2g, Protein 14.3g


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The Skinny on Sweeteners

Monday, December 12, 2011

What are artificial Sweeteners?

Artificial sweeteners are synthetic or man-made sweeteners. Some are actually derived from natural sources. Artificial sweeteners include Acesulfame potassium, Aspartame, Saccharin, and Sucralose. Sound like a chemistry book? That is often the case with synthetic or man-made food additives and can make a nutrition label sound more like a textbook than food you would want to put into your body. To help you make sense of these names, remember that Acesulfame potassium makes up Sweet One and Sunnet, Aspartame makes up Equal and Nutrasweet, Splenda is made from sucralose, and Saccharin makes up Sugar Twin and Sweet’N Low. Aside from being found in small little packets, artificial sweeteners are also found in many processed foods such as diet soda, candies, jams and jellies, canned foods, and tabletop sweeteners among other foods.

Can I Cook with Artificial Sweeteners?

If you were to try to substitute an artificial sweetener for sugar cup for cup in recipes, you would likely not have the best results. And cooking with artificial sweeteners can be tricky as the result in cooked foods vary from sweetener to sweetener. For one thing, most sweeteners are far sweeter than actual sugar. Also, not all artificial sweeteners are heat stable, so if they are heated during the cooking process, they may loose some or all of their sweetness. Additionally, sugar adds other properties to cooked goods such as structure, moistness, and browning ability.

When using an artificial sweetener in place of sugar, these properties may be altered. For example, Aspartame cannot be used in products exposed to heat for a long time, but for adding a little sweetness at the end of the cooking process it may be ok. As with many artificial sweeteners, aspartame is far sweeter teaspoon for teaspoon for sugar, so should not be used in equal amounts as you would use sugar. Sucralose, however, is heat stable and can be substituted teaspoon for teaspoon for sugar for sweetness, but may not provide structure as sugar would in baked goods. About.com’s guide to Homecooking has created a helpful guide for determining how to use artificial sweeteners in cooking and baking. Another great place to check is the manufacturer’s websites for these sweeteners as many have provided helpful tips and recipes for using their product. Keep in mind that artificial sweeteners oftentimes leave an aftertaste which may bother some.

Why Use Artificial Sweeteners?

The greatest benefit of using artificial sweeteners is that they do not add any calories to recipes and processed goods. This can be useful if you are trying to cut calories in order to lose weight. Diabetics can also benefit as artificial sweeteners contain no carbohydrates, so they are easy to manage on a diabetic diet plan.

Are Artificial Sweeteners Safe?

Artificial sweeteners carry a bit of a stigma when it comes to safety which can be partially contributed research studies years ago which showed that saccharin caused bladder cancer in lab rats. Since then scientific research has not shown that use of FDA-approved artificial sweeteners in limited quantities pose any healthy risks. The FDA does regulate these sweeteners, and thus puts them through testing to assure safety before they are able to be sold. They also have ADI’s (or acceptable daily intake) which are set to be far less than any amount that is thought to cause harm.


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Chocolate Chip Cookies

Monday, December 12, 2011

Chocolate chip cookies will never be declared a health food, but you can make them less unhealthy by tweaking the ingredients a little. Here's a recipe for a lighter chocolate chip cookie that still manages to satisfy a sweet tooth, but perhaps with a little less guilt.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Total Time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup firmly-packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookies sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg whites, butter, and vanilla; stir in the brown sugar until smooth. Gradually add in the flour mixture and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop dough by the tablespoon onto cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake one cookie sheet at a time for 10-12 minutes.

Yields 24 cookies.

Per Cookie : Calories 92, Calories from Fat 30, Total Fat 3.4g, (sat 2.6g), Cholesterol 6mg, Sodium 45mg, Carbohydrate 14.5g, Fiber 0.7g, Protein 1.2g


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The Skinny on Sweeteners

Monday, December 12, 2011

Truvia

The world of sweeteners is? a confusing one,? and one that keeps growing. With trends like agave nectar, and ingredient labels listing xylitol and other unusual sounding sweeteners, you may begin to wonder what you are really eating. I was interested in knowing where and how all of these sweeteners are used today, so I came up with a little guide to help navigate me through the world of sweeteners.

Photo@ Kimberley K. Eggleston, licensed to About.com, Inc


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