Friday, July 29, 2011

Zippy Zucchini Bread

My friend Natalia at Ma Nouvelle Mode shared some of her bounty from a garden brimming with humongous zucchini.

This is only half of the zucchini she gave me.  No doubt about it, zucchini bread was on the menu.  Not just any zucchini bread, though.  It had to fit into my healthy lifestyle and lowfat diet.   Please try this bread even if you do not have an overabundance of zucchini. 

Zucchini Bread

1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons canola or other light oil
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini (about 2 small)

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Coat a 9x5-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray; set aside.

In medium bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  In separate small bowl, whisk together applesauce, water, oil, and vinegar.  Add liquid to dry ingredients, along with zucchini, and mix until just combined.

Spread batter into prepared pan.  Bake 55 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool 5 minutes in pan, then remove from pan and let cool on wire rack.  Makes 14 slices, 3 points plus and 106 calories each.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Vibrant Italian Pasta Salad

Salads are the perfect addition to the many outdoor meals we eat in the summer.  This one appeals to my love of fresh basil and the Italian flavors that complement it.

These are the flavors of summer, fresh and vibrant.  Take this salad along on your next picnic.  It keeps well out of the fridge making it truly portable.

Italian Pasta Salad

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup basil leaves. slivered
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
11 ounces penne or rigatoni pasta
2 tablespoon sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped
4 ounces fresh Mozzarella cheese, cut in 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place tomatoes, basil, and garlic in bottom of salad bowl and cover with olive oil; set aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.  Add pasta to salad bowl along with sun dried tomatoes, Mozzarella, and salt.  Lightly toss to combine.

Makes 12 rounded 1/2-cup servings, 4 points plus and 156 calories each.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Here comes cake from across the pond!

The French and the British both enjoy yummy yogurt cakes with their tea.  I wanted a way to eat them for a snack, but with lower calories and fat.  Now I do!

I found this cake so simple to throw together.  The ingredients all go in one bowl, are quickly mixed, and the moist snack cake is out of the oven in 40 minutes or less.  You can vary the flavor by choosing a different fruit yogurt and corresponding fruit filling each time.  Lately, I've been stuck on strawberries, but I tried peach and it was delicious, too.  The cake is a bit fancier with the filling yet fine without.

Yogurt Snacking Cake

1 (6-ounce) carton any fruit or vanilla flavored nonfat yogurt
2 1/4 cups self-rising flour
1 cup brown sugar, unpacked
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup canola or other mild oil
3 eggs
1 tablespoon boiling water

Optional filling ingredients:
1 1/2 cups fat free nondairy whipped topping
Sliced fruit

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Coat 9-inch cake pan with nonstick spray, preferably the baking type.  Place all cake ingredients in large mixing bowl.  Stir with wooden spoon until well combined and fluffy.  Spoon into prepared pan and spread evenly.

Bake 30 to 40 minutes, until top is golden and springs back when gently touched.  Cool 3 minutes in pan, then remove to wire rack and cool completely.  If desired, slice cake in half horizontally.  Spread bottom half with whipped topping, then lay fruit on top.  Place top half of cake over fruit and slice.  Makes 12 servings, 5 points plus and 202 calories each (plus minimal extra for filling ingredients).

Friday, July 22, 2011

Tartar Sauce

Let me tell you a secret.  At any time, I have a jar of sliced jalapeño peppers in my fridge.  It is amazing how often it comes in handy.  I use the peppers in salads, sandwiches, sauces, and more.  Many times in the past I purchased a fresh jalapeño only to have it go bad before I used it.  No longer.

Tartar sauce used to cause me a great amount of guilt.  I love the flavor with a piece of fish or mixed with tuna in a sandwich.  But the mayonnaise . . . so fattening!  I came up with this recipe that is full of flavor and low in fat so now I enjoy it without worries.  The jarred jalapeños add just the right amount of spice and work beautifully here!

Tartar Sauce

3/4 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
1 tablespoon minced jarred jalapeño
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dried minced onion

Combine all ingredients in small bowl and mix well.  Refrigerate several hours before serving to blend flavors.  Makes about 16 1-tablespoon servings, 1 point plus and 32 calories each.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ratatouille Sandwich

My sister in law surprised me with this fun kitchen gadget she found at a lavender festival.  It is a grinder for dried herbes de Provence.  What better use for it's contents than a pot of Ratatouille.

Sunny summer vegetables make an appearance in this favorite French dish, but I could not stop there.  I envisioned a sandwich with melty cheese, and each bite dripping vegetable juices down my chin.

Ratatouille Sandwich

1 pound unpeeled eggplant, cubed
1/2 pound zucchini, cubed
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 any color bell pepper, cut in 1-inch pieces
1 small onion, diced
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence, crumbled (or thyme, if not available)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 (2 1/2-ounce) whole wheat sandwich rolls
3 ounces fresh Mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced

Place eggplant and zucchini in colander, sprinkle with one teaspoon salt and toss.   Let drain in sink or over a plate one half hour to remove bitterness.  Rinse and dry vegetables with cotton or paper towels.

In Dutch oven or large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook 1 minute.  Stir in bell pepper, onion, and eggplant-zucchini mixture.  Cook, covered, 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add tomato sauce, bay leaf, herbes de Provence, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper and mix well.  Cover and cook 20 minutes, again stirring occasionally.  Remove lid and cook about 10 minutes more, until most of liquid evaporates.

Cut each roll lengthwise leaving bottom part thicker than top.  Pull out some bread from the bottom part to make room for Ratatouille (roll should end up weighing about 2 ounces).  Toast bread slightly in toaster oven or regular oven.  Fill each bottom part with one half cup Ratatouille.  Evenly distribute cheese slices on top of Ratatouille and place back in oven for about a minute to melt cheese.  Place top on sandwich and serve.  Makes 4 sandwiches, 5 points plus and 313 calories each.

Note:  There will be about 2 cups Ratatouille left over.  Serve as side dish at another meal, as topping for rice or pasta, or make 4 more sandwiches another time.  One half cup is 1 point plus and 126 calories.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Strawberry Goodness!

The farmers' market has the best strawberries right now.  They look so good, I tend to buy too many.

This sauce is the result of an overabundance of delicious strawberries.  I got the idea from a Vegetarian Times recipe I found for Strawberry Quick Jam.  We smothered our Saturday pancakes with it, and it is perfect for topping the vanilla frozen yogurt I made the other day.  Yum!

Strawberry Sauce

8 ounces fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 tablespoon agave nectar or any other desired sweetener
1 tablespoon water

Place all ingredients in small saucepan over medium heat.  Cook 10 to 15 minutes until strawberries break up and sauce thickens a bit.  Makes about 1 cup, 2 points plus and 130 calories total.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Summertime Peach Salad

Several weeks ago, I was privileged to write a guest blog post for SVSmiles.  I shared this light and easy salad which I happily now share with you.

Salads are wonderful in summer with so many fresh fruits and vegetables available.  There are many variations on the salad theme, but I particularly like the use of peaches in this recipe.  And, it only takes a minute to whisk up your own homemade dressing with ingredients you have on hand.  Make the dressing ahead if there's time so the flavors will blend.

Summertime Peach Salad

8 cups baby spinach, stems removed and leaves torn
2 fresh peaches, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup peeled and chopped cucumber
3 tablespoons crumbled lowfat Feta cheese (1 ounce)
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
2 tablespoons chopped pecans, toasted

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash freshly ground black pepper

Tear spinach leaves into bite-size pieces and place in salad bowl.  Add peaches, cucumber, Feta, cranberries, and pecans.  In a small bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients.  Pour over salad and toss.  Makes 2 large servings, 4 points plus and 245 calories each.

Note:  Make this salad a meal by adding protein such as cooked chicken, shrimp, or beans.  Change it by substituting goat cheese or a blue cheese for the Feta.  Walnuts could replace the pecans, and balsamic vinegar could replace the red wine vinegar.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cornball Chicken

When my oldest son recently told me he had a dream about food, I knew I had to hear him out.  This is the fellow who refuses to turn on an oven because it's "too much cooking." (And he's my son?)

Here is my attempt at making his dream a reality.  He described a ball of cornbread encompassing cooked chicken and served with honey to dip it in.  I convinced myself a muffin is similar to a ball.

I opted for a box cornbread mix to simplify the steps.  Have you ever read the ingredients on the cute little supermarket mix that is ready in a "jiffy"?  I could not justify buying it.  Trader Joe's mix came through with ingredients I recognized. 

What's a mother to do but try and make her son's dream come true?  And guess what?  These are great!

Cornball Chicken

12 ounces cooked boneless skinless chicken breast (about 3 half breasts), cubed
1/2 cup favorite barbecue sauce (storebought is fine)
1 egg
2 tablespoons canola or other mild oil
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup nonfat milk
1 15-ounce box cornbread mix (I used Trader Joe's)
1/4 cup honey, for dipping, optional

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Coat 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick spray; set aside.  In medium bowl, combine chicken with barbecue sauce and set aside.

In mixing bowl, beat egg, oil, applesauce, and milk until well combined.  Add cornbread mix and stir until just combined.  Place about 1 1/2 tablespoons batter in bottom of each muffin cup.  Spoon about 2 tablespoons chicken mixture in center of each cup and cover evenly with remaining batter.

Place pan in oven and bake 16 minutes, until top of muffin springs back when lightly touched and edges begin to turn golden.  Cool 2 minutes in pan before serving.  Makes 12 muffins, 5 points plus and 218 calories each.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Roasted Veggies Revisited

My very first recipe in January of 2011 presented you with a plate of roasted zucchini and shared a formula for making roasted vegetables.  Recently, it became clear that a reminder is due. 

With so many wonderful vegetables in season now, I can not help myself.  I heat my oven to 400°F. almost every night, toss veggies with a tiny bit of olive oil, salt, and sometimes pepper, and pop them in.  Within a half hour at most, including a stir part way through, I have the most delicious side dish.  The vegetables caramelize on the edges and make the dinner plate look beautiful.

This night was eggplant and orange bell peppers.  Most nights I just roast one veggie.  It always depends on what's in the fridge and what sounds good.  I believe parchment paper on the baking pan is worth the money because cleanup is so easy.  Silpat liners are great for cookies and other baked goods but harder to clean when cooking vegetables.  I've learned a lot from the many variations.

Dinner is served!  There's even a bonus pile of roasted potatoes tonight.  Give this a try and you will certainly find it easy to enjoy your veggies.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Heavenly Little Donuts

There are many breakfast bakery options at the supermarket.  Read the ingredient lists and you may question their healthfulness.  It only takes a few minutes to throw together these Sour Cream Mini Donuts and it is comforting to actually know what is in them.

You can have three of these fluffy donuts for the same Weight Watchers point plus value as one tiny plastic-wrapped thing full of ingredients you can't pronounce.

This is what my mini donut pan looks like.  I bought mine online, and you can see details here.

Sour Cream Mini Donuts

1 cup unbleached flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup nonfat milk
1 egg
2 tablespoons light sour cream
1 tablespoon canola or other light oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Coat mini donut pan with nonstick spray, preferably the baking version, and set aside.  In medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and nutmeg.  Measure milk into one-cup or larger liquid measuring cup.  Whisk in egg, sour cream, oil, and vanilla until well combined.

Add liquid to dry ingredients and whisk vigorously one minute.  Using teaspoon, fill mini donut cups half full and no more.  If overfilled, cute little donuts end up with no hole in the middle.  Bake 8 minutes, or until donuts spring back lightly when touched.  Let cool no less than two minutes in pan, then donuts should fall out easily.  Re-spray pan before making each new batch.

Place powdered sugar in small paper bag.  While still warm, put 4 donuts at a time into bag and shake to coat with powdered sugar.  Serve immediately.  Makes about 32 mini donuts, 1 point plus and 38 calories each.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Enchiladas for Dinner

Here is a recipe that's been in my family for years.  Every so often, I get a craving for a meaty, cheesy dinner with a little spice to it.  This fits the bill.

Meatless Ground was not an option when I was growing up.  But neither was I worried about saturated fat back then.  I love that there are so many great meat substitutes these days.  We can enjoy the old recipes but still keep our hearts healthy.  I buy this one at Trader Joe's, but it can easily be found at supermarkets.

"Beef" and Bean Enchiladas

1 medium onion, chopped
1 12-ounce package Yves Meatless Ground or 1 pound ground beef, if desired
1 15-ounce can fat free refried beans
1/3 cup any type salsa
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 10-ounce cans mild red enchilada sauce (I used Old El Paso)
12 extra thin corn tortillas (I used Mission)
4 ounces reduced fat white or orange sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
Sliced pitted ripe olives, lowfat sour cream, more salsa, for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Coat large nonstick skillet with olive oil spray.  Over medium heat, saute´ onion about 3 minutes, then add meatless ground and continue cooking until onion is translucent.  (If using beef, cook until meat is no longer pink.)  Turn off heat and stir in beans, salsa, salt, and garlic powder.

Pour half enchilada sauce in bottom of 9 by 13-inch baking pan.  Heat tortillas 2 at a time for 15 seconds in microwave.  Fill each tortilla with about 1/4 cup filling, roll up, and place seam side down in pan.  Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling.  Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas and sprinkle evenly with cheese.

Place pan in oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until hot and bubbly.  Serve with optional garnishes, if desired.  Makes 6 2-enchilada servings, 7 points plus and 284 calories each with Meatless Ground.  Adjust points plus and calories if using beef and optional garnishes. 

Note:  If making ahead of time, cover and refrigerate.  Bring to room temperature before baking.

Summer sunrise from my kitchen window!  Making an early breakfast was a pleasure today.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Broccoli Salad

Fresh produce, crunchy seeds, cheesy protein, and chewy dried fruit, all in a tangy sweet dressing.  What more could you ask?  Especially in summer when cool and refreshing food is so appealing.

My friend Annette enjoys eating a broccoli salad  at a local restaurant.  Here is a light recipe to make at home to rival the restaurant version.  Annette - and you - will have control over the salad ingredients. It's impossible to know everything that goes into a restaurant dish.  Another benefit will be the built-in portion control when you make it yourself. 

Broccoli Salad

1 head raw broccoli, chopped (about 3 cups)
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 ounces shredded reduced fat Cheddar cheese (about 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
2 tablespoons toasted unsalted sunflower seeds
1 raw, unpeeled apple, cored and chopped
1/2 cup reduced fat honey mustard dressing (I used Bolthouse Farms)

In medium bowl, stir together broccoli, onion, cheese, cranberries, sunflower seeds, and apple.  Add dressing and stir gently to combine.  Chill in refrigerator before serving.  Best served on same day.  Makes 4 1-cup servings, 3 points plus and 176 calories each.

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As I hurried out of town on Friday for a relaxing 4th of July getaway, I neglected to tell you that I wrote a guest post for Suzzie V. on SVSmiles.  Head on over there and take a look!  Happy 4th!!

Friday, July 1, 2011

4th of July Cookies!

Happy Red, White and Blue Day!  Here is the perfect cookie for you to bake for your holiday meal.

These come together quickly and are an easy and portable dessert everyone will love.  They present the opportunity for you, the health-conscious person, to practice portion control.  Take small bites and savor one or two cookies knowing you have not blown your healthy eating plan.  Eat the whole batch and that's another story!

Red, White and Blue Cookies

1 1/4 cups unbleached flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter or transfat-free margarine, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line baking sheet with parchment or a Silpat liner (if neither is available, use ungreased baking sheet); set aside.

In small mixing bowl, combine flour, oats, baking powder, and salt.  In large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugars together until well combined.  Add egg and vanilla and beat well.  Add flour mixture and beat until just combined; batter will be stiff.  Stir in blueberries, cranberries, and white chocolate chips.

Form balls with your hands, a little more than one inch diameter, and place on prepared baking sheet.  Flatten with fork and put in oven.  Bake 11 minutes, or until edges start to turn golden.  Let cookies cool 5 minutes on baking pan, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.  Makes about 45 cookies, 2 points plus and 74 calories each.

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Don't forget: today is the "linky party" for all of you to share a Simple Summer Solution recipe or other tidbit if you'd like.  Click below to participate.