Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Christmas cookies have always been a great tradition in my family. I remember my mom making a handful of varieties of cookies and making dozens of each variety. We would get to snack on them through out the Christmas season as well as make up trays for our teachers, take them to cookie exchanges and walk a few over to our neighbors. In past years I have also kept up the tradition of making a bazillion kinds of cookies over the holidays. In fact, at my own wedding I had a homemade cookie buffet in which I served over 100 DOZEN homemade cookies made by myself and the women in my family.

But the last two years have been a little bit of a dry spell for me in the cookie making department. Last year, I had just had foot surgery 1 month prior to Christmas and had a hard time hobbling along in the kitchen on one foot and crutches. We also lived in a TINY apartment with a poor excuse for a kitchen for the small amount of time between when our old house sold and we were building our new house. So, Christmas of 2009 was cookie-less. Christmas 2010 rolled around and I never seemed to have the time make cookies. I'm not sure if having a new child threw my cookie making schedule a curve ball but it just seemed it wasn't going to happen this year.

Finally, on December 23rd, I got the Christmas treat bug and jumped to action. I decided I would make one batch of cookies and would try to make them healthier. I had saved a link to the Swanky Pear's Pumpkin Whoopie Pies a few months back and thought I could still bake with pumpkin in December. So that was the start (and end) of my Christmas cookie baking this year.

Each cookie in the original recipe provides:
161.5 calories
7.8 g fat
24.3 g carbohydrate
0.8 g fiber
1.5 g protein

These cookies have almost a cake like consistency and therefore, could handle a few changes in them. First, I substituted unsweetened applesauce for the oil. (Obviously I canned a lot of applesauce this fall!). Next for the filling I used fat-free cream cheese instead of full fat cream cheese. I also used 1/4 cup butter, instead of 1/2 cup butter (actually by accident as I read it as half a stick but really it was supposed to be a full stick). But, either way, it turned out delicious!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies - BETTER

3 cups flour
2 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 cups chilled pure pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

3 cups powdered sugar
8 oz. fat free cream cheese
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) butter
1 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, all-spice and nutmeg. Set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk the granulated sugar, the dark brown sugar, and the unsweetened applesauce together. Add the CHILLED pumpkin puree and whisk to combine thoroughly. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until combined.

4. Gradually add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and whisk until completely combined.

5. Use a small cookie scoop or a large spoon to drop a rounded, heaping tablespoon of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. I also kept the bowl of batter in the freezer between batches to keep it chilled. The batter is quite thin and works better a little chilled.

6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, making sure that the cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cookie comes out clean. The cookies should be firm when touched. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool completely on a cooling rack.

7. To make the filling, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth with no visible lumps, about 3 minutes. Add the cream cheese and beat until smooth and combined, about 2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar a little at a time, then add the vanilla and beat until smooth.

8. To assemble the whoopie pies: Turn half of the cooled cookies upside down. Pipe the filling (about a tablespoon) onto that half (I used a ziplock bag with the corner clipped, made quick work!). Place another cookie, flat side down, on top of the filling. Press down slightly so that the filling spread to the edges of the cookie. Repeat until all the cookies are used. Put the whoopie pies in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to firm before serving. These also freeze well for later.

I made 52 sandwiches in my batch.

Each cookie provides:
107.5 calories
1.3 g fat
25.0 g carbohydrate
0.8 g fiber
1.8 g protein

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Candied Walnut Salad

As I stated before, I was assigned salad for Christmas dinner at the in-laws. Now, to ME, "salad" means something green and leafy with a bunch of tasty toppings, likely fruits or vegetables. I've learned over the years that "salad" can be interpretted in many ways. Salads can be made out of gelatin (although in my family growing up, anything made out of jello was always a DESSERT), salads can be made out of cool whip, salads can also be made out of coconut and mandarin oranges. I once asked someone (who will remain nameles... ahem... my MIL...) to bring a salad thinking it would be green and leafy. I was much surprised when something including coconut, cool whip, mandarin oranges and pineapple appeared on my table. ANYWAY, so when I was assigned a salad, I made sure to bring a good old vegetable based salad.

I also decided to stir things up a bit. My husband's diet growing up was pretty traditional, not much outside the box. So any time I have ever had salad at his parents house, it has always consisted of iceberg salad in a bag, 2 cucumber slices, 1 tomato wedge and ranch dressing. I wasn't quite sure how this salad would go over with such a crowd.

Much to my surprise, this salad from Our Best Bites was a hit! It was gobbled up by almost all the guests (still a few stubborn ones in the crowd!) and I received complements from everyone who enjoyed it. It is quite the tasty salad, I must admit. I even made a leftover salad out of the remaining ingredients for dinner for myself tonight. This salad would be delicious a piece of grilled chicken breast or grilled salmon on top as an entree.

I did not make any nutritional changes to this salad as it is pretty healthy as it is. The walnuts in the salad are a great source of vitamin E as well as receiving lots of antioxidants from the dried cranberries. Being from Michigan, I would imagine dried cherries would also be a delicious substitute for the cranberries.

Candied Walnut Salad

2 heads of leafy greens: (I used a head of romaine lettuce and a bag of spring mix greens)
3/4 cup craisins
2 crisp apples, chopped
orange juice (enough to toss the chopped apples in to prevent browning)
2 oz blue cheese or Gorgonzola (I LOVE gorgonzola cheese!!!)
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup sugar
1 recipe Honey Red Wine Vinaigrette

Wash and chop lettuce, set aside to drain.

Place walnuts and sugar in a dry skillet over medium heat. Stir constantly. After a few minutes, the sugar will begin to appear very fine, then a few minutes after that, it will start to liquefy. This is when you must be absolutely vigilant about scraping the bottom of the pan. The syrup will begin to darken and stick to the nuts. When it reaches a golden brown color, remove from heat. Stir nuts a few minutes until they begin to slightly cool and nuts are well coated. Spread onto wax paper or parchment paper and allow to cool completely.

Chop blue cheese or Gorgonzola finely into crumbles. Chop apples and toss in orange juice.

When ready to serve, toss lettuce, apples, cheese,walnuts and cranberries. Add dressing. I used about a quarter of the dressing tossed in and served the rest on the side if people desired extra.

Makes 8 servings (without dressing):
176.4 calories
8.4 g fat
23.9 g carbohydrate
3.2 g fiber
4.5 g protein

Honey Red Wine Vinaigrette

I very RARELY make a homemade dressing. I have a huge selection of bottled dressings in the grocery aisle, so why bother? Well, special occasions may be a good reason to try a homemade dressing. After being assigned to bring a salad to my in-laws for Christmas I went in search of the perfect salad. After finding a recipe for Candied Walnut Salad on Our Best Bites, I followed their link to Honey Red Wine Vinaigrette. It seemed simple enough.

In the craziness of Christmas, my husband and I were frantically getting ready for a trip to his parents at 10 pm on Christmas Eve. I was candying the walnuts for the salad and my husband quickly was able to assemble the dressing ingredients. Now in our family, I am numero uno in the kitchen. My husband can pretty much make himself some chicken nuggets, but otherwise the kitchen is MY domain. So apparently putting together a homemade dressing isn't too difficult!

I didn't make any nutritional changes to this recipe. With dressings, unless you are eliminating or decreasing the amount of oil that is in the dressing, your best idea is just to limit the amount that you are using. I calculated the nutrition facts for a 2 Tablespoon serving, but I would estimate that I had actually half of that on my salad portion. I also substituted apple cider vinegar for red wine vinegar (because that's what I had!) and I added a Tbsp of poppy seeds just to add a little pop on the salad.

Honey Red Wine Vinaigrette

1/2 cup red wine vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
1/2 cup honey
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp fresh coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 cup canola oil

In a blender combine vinegar, honey, garlic, salt and pepper. Place lid on blender and blend on high. While blender is running, add oil in steady stream. Store in refrigerator for up to 2-3 weeks. Shake well before serving.

*** I also added 1 Tbsp poppy seeds although did not include that in the nutrition facts.

Per 2 Tbsp serving:
125 calories
9.1 g fat
194.6 mg sodium
12.5 g carbohydrate
0.1 g fiber
0.1 g protein

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Foods

Here's a list of the foods I made for Christmas gatherings both at my parents house and my in-laws house:

Cinnamon-Sugar Pretzels

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Candied Walnut Salad

Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Low-Fat Cheesy Potatoes

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

Quick Cheese Ball

Orange Pecan Baked French Toast

Puppy Chow

Recipes to follow for all those which don't already have recipes on here.

I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays and are resting up for the New Year!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Puppy Chow

There are certain foods that with just the mere mention of their name causes my husband to drool. Hot dogs, wings, baked French toast, German chocolate cake, etc. Puppy Chow is definitely one of the top 5 drool-worthy snacks in my husband's book. When Crispix was on sale a few weeks ago, I decided to buy a couple boxes so I could make a large batch of Puppy Chow to give out with some Christmas gifts and to also take to our parents' houses for munchies.

Puppy Chow, the sweet, distant cousin of Chex Mix, is typically some combination of Crispix, chocolate, peanut butter, butter and powdered sugar. I used this recipe from allrecipes. Now I made the full fat, not good for your hips version. But as I was making it, I was thinking to myself. If I were going to make this healthier, what could I do? I came up with a few options for you to try.

  • Use solely wheat Chex, instead of Crispix, for higher fiber content.
  • Use half as much butter, or try none at all. It might take a little experimentation as you still want it to be able to coat the cereal.
  • Try natural peanut butter or almond butter instead of regular old creamy Jif.
  • Add in dried cherries or raisins for fiber, vitamins and minerals.
  • Use half as much chocolate or try with dark chocolate chips for antioxidants.
  • If worse comes to worse - portion out small portions of this delicious treat into snack size ziplock bags to prevent possibly inevitable over-eating.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Homemade Crescent Rolls

Some packaged foods have become so main stream that you forget that there is probably a way to make them homemade. When Janae posted a recipe for Crescent Rolls on Hungry Runner Girl (recipe originally from I honestly thought to myself...huh - I never thought about making homemade crescent rolls! I wonder if future generations will not know that you can make things like biscuits or cookie dough homemade? I'm not sure if we're moving in a positive direction....

As posted in this recipe, each crescent roll provides:
195 calories
9.3 g fat
24.3 g carbohydrate
0.7 g fiber
3.3 g protein

One way to decrease the fat and calories of a recipe is to decrease the portion size. When I made these, I cut each circle into 12 rolls, instead of 10, yielding 24 instead of 20 rolls total from the recipe. I also used whole wheat flour for ALL of the all purpose flour. I liked them, if I thought of them as a wheat roll, and not necessarily a crescent roll. They were a little too "wheat-y" for my husband. You may sacrifice a little of the fiber and try half whole wheat, half all purpose flour. I also did not brush the tops with butter after coming out of the oven.

Overall, these changes saved almost 50 calories, 2 grams of fat and added 2 grams of fiber - PER ROLL.

Crescent Rolls - BETTER

2 (0.25 oz) pkgs active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water (110 degrees)
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup shortening
4 cups wheat flour (or 2 cups wheat + 2 cups all purpose)
1/4 cup butter, softened

Dissolve yeast in warm water.

Stir in sugar, salt, eggs, shortening and 2 cups wheat flour. Beat until smooth. Mix in remaining flour until smooth. Scrape dough from side of bowl. Knead dough, then cover it and let rise in a warm place until double (about 1 1/2 hours).

Punch down dough. Divide in half. Roll each half into a 12-inch circle. Spread with softened butter. Cut into 12 wedges. Roll the wedges starting with the wide end. Place rolls with point under on a greased baking sheet. (I used a sheet covered with parchment paper). Cover and let rise until double (about 1 hour).

Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Per serving (24 servings):
146 calories
7.0 g fat
19.0 g carbohydrate
2.5 g fiber
3.3 g protein

Monday, December 20, 2010

About Me...

Kristy from Sweet Treats and More nominated me for a "Stylish Bloggers" award. I'm not sure if I really meet the criteria, but I thought it would be fun to share 7 random things about me.

1. There are two main categories of food that I HATE- Condiments (specifically ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise) and anything in a casing (like hot dogs or sausage links).

2. I became a recreational runner (i.e. NOT FAST) when I met my now husband, who is a college track & field coach. I've run mostly 5k's and higher mileage for exercise but have also run two 25k's. I had major foot reconstruction, with screws and all, a year ago and now I'm not really able to do long distance training anymore. My new goals are to improve my 10k time.

3. I've been married to my husband Paul for over three years and we had our first daughter, Finley, in August of 2010. We also have a dog named Moses. He is an extremely skinny, black lab mutt. We got him because we thought he'd be a good running dog, unfortunately he just prefers to lay on his mat all day.

4. I played field hockey and was a cheerleader in high school. Apparently I liked to do sports which required skirts. (Although I'm not saying cheerleading is a sport, at least for me it wasn't!)

5. I work as a Registered Dietitian for a corporate wellness consulting firm. Essentially I work with employees of corporations to help them eat healthfully, stay healthy and keep the company's insurance costs down. I've also worked in outpatient counseling and in a hospital setting previously.

6. When I was a freshman in college, a friend and I got trapped in a car in a flash flood. We had to be rescued and everything. We ended up sleeping at the house of the stranger who rescued us since all the roads around had been closed due to the flood. We were terrified we were going to be kidnapped but when we woke up, they were cleaning and repairing my friends car and making us a hot pancake breakfast! I'm still quite terrified of driving in the rain.

7. I love to travel and love watching baseball. My husband and I try to go on two vacations each year. One tropical and one to go to baseball games. We're trying to go to every stadium in the country.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Poppyseed Bread

I am a new mom with a now 4 month old. (Today is her 4 month birthday!). I went back to work full time at 8 weeks post partum. I get a lot of questions from people who sympathetically ask, "How's it going?", "Are you doing ok without your little girl?", "Is it hard to leave her at daycare?". I have to be honest with people. I like working. I love my job. I like the interaction with adults and the perks of my job.

BUT, none of this would be possible if I didn't have the most ideal daycare situation - but I do. I work early shifts a few days a week. On those days, my husband stays home with our daughter then goes into work for later in the afternoon for practice after I get out. Two days a week, however, I work later and we need someone else to watch her. When we built our house earlier this year, we specifically built on a cul-de-sac that has three other friends living on it. (Its like college dorms for grown ups!). Our next door neighbor are two of my husband's good friends from college. They had a baby in February and the wife decided to stay home from her job as an elementary school teacher to be with him. So two days a week, she watches her for us. We often joke that our daughter is going to learn more at the neighbor's house than she will at home.

I knew that she wouldn't accept any monetary gifts for Christmas, but we wanted to do something special for her. So I made up a basket of homemade apple butter, puppy chow, a gift for their son, and a loaf of poppyseed bread. I got the recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything.

As posted in her original recipe, each serving (32 total) provide:
204 calories
9.2 g fat
28.6 g carbohydrate
0.4 g fiber
2.3 g protein

This looks absolutely delicious! I didn't want to put any whole wheat fiber in here and risk making it tough or too grainy. I did, however, feel like I could substitute unsweetened applesauce for the oil. I also made sure to use skim milk in the recipe. The end product was awesome! The recipe says it makes 2 large or 6 small pans. I used medium sized pans and created 4 loaves. We ate one, one will go to the sitter, one will go to my boss and one to a family that hosts my small group from church every other Sunday - PERFECT GIFTS!
Poppyseed Bread - BETTER

3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
1 1/8 cups unsweetened applesauce
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1 1/2 Tbsp poppy seeds
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp melted butter (or butter flavoring extract)

Mix all together. Pour into greased and floured baking pans. Makes 6 small loaves or 2 large loaves. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes for large pans and less for smaller pans. If you have a dark metal pan make sure to bake it for less time at a lower temperature.

1/4 cup orange juice
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp melted butter (or butter flavor extract)

Pour all ingredients into a small saucepan and let cook on stove on medium heat until sugar dissolves. Remove bread from pans and pour glaze over warm bread. Use knife or spatula to bring the glaze that has run off up and over the warm bread until it stays on.

Per serving (32 servings):
137 calories
1.2 g fat
29.7 g carbohydrate
0.5 g fiber
2.3 g protein

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Pardon the interruption...

This post has nothing to do with food. I do, however, have a couple recent recipes that I need to calculate the nutrition facts for and plan to do so tomorrow. So be on the look out for a couple new posts on food tomorrow.

Instead, today I show you what healthy eating during your pregnancy produces.....

The cutest Santa's little helper you've ever seen!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Chicken a la King

Sometimes when I surf the blog food world I feel like there are recipes that everyone else have been eating their whole lives and for some reason I've missed out on it since I've never heard of it. Chicken a la King is one of those recipes. A few weeks ago I put this on my "To make" list and since that time I have seen variations of Chicken a la King on several different food blogs. Ultimately, I ended up choosing the recipe posted by Real Mom Kitchen.

As posted, this recipe provides:
412 calories
21.0 g fat
11.8 g carbohydrate
1.4 g fiber
43.1 g protein
(Just the chicken topping, not including whatever you serve it on)

Unfortunately this recipe calls for mushrooms which are a no-go for the husband. So I substituted carrots for mushrooms. (I know this is not an equal substitution but I was just trying to use up some of the crisper drawer). I will post the recipe with mushrooms, however.

There were two big substitutions that I made. I substituted 2 Tbsp olive oil for the 1/2 cup of butter. a.) olive oil is made from monounsaturated fats which are heart healthy fats vs. butter which is full of saturated fats or artery clogging fats and b.) 1/2 cup of butter seemed like a WHOLE HECK OF A LOT of butter to saute and I felt I could get the job done with 2 Tbsp of olive oil. I may have missed out on the richness in taste but I think my heart thanked me. I also substituted skim milk for half-and-half. This obviously cuts out on a ton of fat and calories. Another substitution would be to buy fat free half-and-half. It would make it a little more creamy like the original recipe.

I served this on reduced fat Grands biscuits but you could also cut down on calories/fat by serving on whole wheat toast or other low fat/high fiber carb.

Chicken a la King - BETTER

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup diced celery
1 cup fresh mushrooms
2 cups diced onion
5-6 Tbsp flour
3 1/4 cup chicken broth
1 (4oz) jar diced pimento
2 cups skim milk (or fat free half-and-half)
3 1/2 cups diced cooked chicken breasts
puff pastry shells, toast points, biscuits, rice or noodles to serve over

Saute celery, mushrooms, and onion in olive oil over medium-low heat to reach desired tenderness.

Gradually add 5-6 tbsp flour, stirring constantly to incorporate.

Turn up heat. As mixture thickens, add chicken stock and milk.

Then stir in chicken and pimento. Spoon chicken mixture into puff pastry shells or over toast points, biscuits, rice or noodles to serve. Makes 8 servings.

Per serving (not including whatever you serve it over):
283 calories
6.0 g fat
12.2 g carbohydrate
1.4 g fiber
43.3 g protein

HOT and creamy enchiladas

I make a menu plan each week before I go grocery shopping. It is super helpful in a.) knowing what ingredients to buy and b.) preventing us from going out to eat or getting pizza ALL THE TIME! I'm usually pretty ridiculous when it comes to my meal plan, grocery list, coupons, etc. Well apparently when you throw working full time, a 3 month old and Christmas shenanigans into the mix, sometimes your grocery list forgets a few items.

I planned on having tacos for dinner the other night but figured out that I didn't have any lettuce (How'd that happen?). I really don't like tacos without lettuce. But I REFUSE to go to the grocery store more than once a week for a single item. So I needed to come up with some kind of baked enchilada type dinner that didn't require lettuce. I pulled all these ingredients together from the pantry and made it up as I went.

I must warn you, my husband and I like spicy food and this was pretty much at the top of my comfort level of hotness. You can alter the hotness though by what type of tomatoes you put in. Just plain diced tomatoes for wussies, mild Rotel for moderates and HOT Rotel for the adventurous. I must also note that when I had leftovers for the lunch the next day, THEY WERE AWESOME! Like even better than the original night. So keep that in mind.

Add a vegetable to these enchiladas and you have a complete meal!

HOT and Creamy enchiladas - Original recipe

3/4 pound ground sirloin
1 small onion, diced
1 can Rotel diced tomatoes with chilies (I used HOT)
4 oz. fat free cream cheese
1 Tbsp taco seasoning
4 oz. 2% Cheddar cheese, divided
6 flour tortillas (I used the 6" small size)

Brown ground sirloin in skillet. Once cooked, drain any excess fat. Add diced onion and saute until translucent. Add can of Rotel, do not drain, and taco seasoning. Allow to simmer for a few minutes to reduce a little bit of the liquid. Add the cream cheese and stir until combined.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray. Assemble enchiladas by scooping 1/6th of the filling into each tortilla, sprinkle with a little cheese (reserving 2 oz cheese for later), roll and place seam side down in baking dish. Spray tops of tortillas with nonstick spray so they get a little crispy in the oven. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Take out dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake additional 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Makes 4 servings (1.5 enchiladas each).
452 calories
19.9 g fat
31.7 g carbohydrate
2.2 g fiber
27.9 g protein

Monday, December 13, 2010

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread

Apparently everyone knows that if you are trying to take good food pictures you just cart your dish out onto your back porch and take a picture. Well, I actually tried that and - what do you know? - this is by far the best food picture I've taken so far. Too bad that it's winter and when I'm usually making dinner it's pitch black outside so I can't guarantee good pictures every time, just when I cook in the daylight :)

My husband loves cinnamon raisin bread. He honestly got a little giddy when I told him I made a loaf of it this day. When I saw the recipe from Annie's Eats for Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread, I knew I would get this reaction from him.

As originally posted, each slice (1/16 of the loaf) provides:
200 calories
4.3 g fat
36.8 g carbohydrate
1.2 g fiber
4.1 g protein

As I've said before, baking with yeast requires precise chemical reactions. So I am often afraid to make HUGE changes to a recipe which includes yeast. So I just made sure I used skim milk and I substituted 2 cups of the flour for wheat flour. Did it taste awesome? YES .... Did it make a huge difference? Not so much but at least you save 10 calories, 0.3 g fat and gain 1.4 grams of fiber per slice.... ehhh, I tried.

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread - BETTER

1 1/8 tsp instant (rapid rise) yeast
1 cup warm SKIM milk (105-110 degrees)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
4 Tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 1/4 tsp coarse salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins
vegetable oil

For the filling:
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp water
1 egg, lightly beaten

In the bowl of a standard mixer, combine the yeast, warm milk, both flours, butter, sugar, egg, salt and cinnamon. Mix briefly until a dough forms. Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed until the dough is mostly smooth and clears the sides of the bowl, about 3 minutes. Add in the raisins and allow to continue kneading about 3 minutes more, until the dough is smooth and supple and the raisins are evenly incorporated.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl; turning once to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Pat into a round circle. Fold the bottom third of the dough up and fold the top third down, in business-letter fashion. Then fold the right and left sides into the center in thirds, forming a rectangle. Press down to seal. Return to the bowl, cover and let rise again until doubled, about 40 minutes. (See Annie's Eats for a GREAT picture guide to this step).

Generously butter a 9x5" loaf pan. To make the filling, combine the sugar, cinnamon and water in a small bowl and whisk until well combined. Return the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough into a 10x12" rectangle. Brush lightly with the some of the beaten egg. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture, leaving a thin border around the edges. Fold in the edges of the long sides of the dough about 1 inch. Beginning with the short ends, roll the dough up into a tight spiral log, gently pressing as you go.

Pinch the seam shut and place the loaf, seam side down, in the prepared baking pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a clean towel and let rise until dough rises just above the edges of the pan, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. When the loaf has risen, brush the top of the loaf lightly with the remaining beaten egg. Bake, rotating the pan halfway through, until the loaf is golden brown, about 45 minutes. If the surface seems to be browning too quickly, tent loosely with foil (I did this about 15 minutes into baking). Cool in the pan 5 minutes, then turn the loaf out and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

Makes 16 slices, per slice:
190 calories
4.0 g fat
35.9 g carbohydrate
2.5 g fiber
4.6 g protein

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fit Friday's Guest Post

I'm stepping away from the recipe revamps today and guest posting over at Sweet Treats and More. Kristy is starting a feature called "Fit Friday's" every Friday and I thought I'd discuss pre and post workout eating. Check it out!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Parmesan Roasted Potatoes

Sometimes I get in a potato rut. In the summer, I like to slice potatoes into thick coins, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and throw them on the grill. In the winter, my husband LOVES mashed potatoes. But I'm always looking for a variation.

The Sisters' Cafe provided me with that variation when I was making this chicken dish. It looked pretty straight forward and would compliment my meal nicely.

As stated in the original recipe, each serving provides:
172.9 calories
4.1 g fat
30.5 g carbohydrate
3.7 g fiber
4.3 g protein

I didn't really make a whole lot of changes. I omitted the olive oil and just used nonstick spray instead. I also swapped the amounts of the bread crumbs and Parmesan - didn't make a huge difference in nutritional content, I just wanted them to be more Parmesan-y. They turned out tasty and a great alternative to the old potato stand-bys.

Parmesan Roasted Potatoes - BETTER

4 red potatoes (or 8 new potatoes)
nonstick spray
1 Tbsp bread crumbs
2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
Various seasonings (I used garlic powder, onion powder and Italian seasoning)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice potatoes into wedges and place in bowl. Spray with nonstick spray for just a second or two. Add all the other ingredients and toss until evenly coated. Bake in preheated oven 30-40 minutes or until desired degree of crispness, turning the wedges over halfway through baking.

Makes 4 servings, per serving:
142.2 calories
1.0 g fat
29.4 g carbohydrate
3.6 g fiber
4.6 g protein

Sweet and Spicy Grilled Chicken

In the summer, we grill A LOT of chicken. In fact, one summer we ate grilled chicken sprinkled with Montreal Steak seasoning with grilled green peppers, onions and potatoes probably 3 or 4 nights a week and we called it "summer meal". Since that summer, I've tried to be a little more creative with my grilled chicken.

My meal plan for the week called for grilled chicken with potatoes and vegetables one night so off I went in search of a great grilled chicken recipe. I found this recipe on Real Mom Kitchen for Sweet and Spicy Grilled Chicken and thought I'd give it a try.

To be honest, I made no nutritional changes to this recipe! The rub itself is pretty healthy and plain old chicken breast can't really be made healthier. The recipe does, however, call for a 6 oz chicken breast per person. Traditionally I recommend 3-4 oz protein portions at meals. I had a pretty hard work out after work on this day and ate the full 6 oz portion myself.... so I can't judge if you do too!

I did make one small change to the recipe. I didn't grill the chicken. See, we live in Michigan and we have this thing called CRAZY winters that last forever. And since it was December, I kind of forgot that we had moved the grill to the storage area since winter grilling on our deck is out of the questions as it is freezing and crazy windy all the time. So I seared this chicken in a dry frying pan instead.

Sweet and Spicy Chicken
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp paprika
2 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp chili powder
5 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6 ounces each... or I used chicken tenders)

Combine the first five ingredients; rub over chicken. Coat grill rack with cooking spray for grills or brush with olive oil before starting the grill. (Or just put it in a dry nonstick pan, like me). Grill chicken, covered, for 4-5 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 170 degrees.

Makes 5 servings, per serving:
209 calories
2.4 g fat
6.5 g carbohydrate
0.7 g fiber
39.6 g protein

Super Easy Spaghetti Pie

Pasta is often my go-to dinner when short on time or I don't have anything planned for dinner. I always have an abundance of pasta, sauces (gasp! I RARELY make homemade) and protein to add on hand, so its something I can quickly throw together. For my real job, I came across this recipe on The Pioneer Woman's recipe site Tasty Kitchen. Sounded like a good variation of my traditional pasta dishes, so I gave it a try!

As listed, each serving (6) of this recipe provides:
607 calories
38.9 g fat
38.1 g carbohydrate
3.2 g fiber
24.8 g protein

Like usual, I was making this the night before. I put half of the recipe in a 9x5 loaf pan for the next night and kept it in the fridge. I put the other half in a foil lined 9x5 loaf pan for a freezer meal. Afterall, there's only two of us eating real food in the house and I figured that it would be enough for the husband and myself, plus leftovers for lunch the next day.

I made quite a few changes to the recipe but I think I still got the same tasty outcome:
  • substituted whole wheat spaghetti for traditional
  • used 4 egg whites instead of 2 whole eggs
  • used 1 green + 1 red pepper instead of just one pepper
  • used 3/4 of a pound of Italian sausage instead of a full pound
  • Omitted the olive oil as there was plenty of oil in the pan from the cooked sausage
  • used reduced fat sour cream instead of full fat
  • used part-skim mozzarella instead of whole milk mozzarella

I know that sounds like a whole lot of change, but really, it was what we already had in our house - so it was no big deal. I also omitted mushrooms because I'm pretty sure my husband might die if a mushroom crossed his lips, or so he makes me believe.

When all was said and done, this was delicious! The sausage gave the dish a really powerful flavor. I'm sure I could have decreased the fat even more if I had used turkey sausage, but that's not always so easy to find. The peppers also added a lot of flavor. I'm looking forward for when I pull the other half out of the freezer!
Super Easy Spaghetti Pie - BETTER

1/2 pound whole wheat spaghetti, cooked
4 egg whites
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 whole onion, chopped
1 red + 1 green pepper, chopped
1 cup mushrooms (optional)
3/4 pound Italian sausage
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
1 cup spaghetti sauce
1 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese

Combine 1/2 pound of cooked spaghetti while it is warm with beaten egg whites and Parmesan. Pour coated pasta into a deep dish pie pan or a 9-inch baking dish. Set aside. (I put half in a loaf pan for now and half in a loaf pan for the freezer).

Saute Italian sausage in a large pan. After about 5 minutes, move sausage to the side. Cook the chopped onion, peppers and mushroom in the same pan. Saute until veggies are soft. Remove the sausage and set aside.

Take pan off of the heat and add about a 1/2 cup of reduced fat sour cream and stir into the veggies.

To assemble the pie - pour the creamy vegetable mix onto the spaghetti "crust". Next cut up the sausage and place a layer of pieces on the vegetables. Cover it all with a layer of spaghetti sauce and then a layer of shredded mozzarella.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Makes 6 servings, per serving:
436 calories
25 g fat
31.3 g carbohydrate
5.1 g fiber
23.8 g protein

Monday, November 29, 2010

Garlic Knots (or just plain rolls)

My name is Jody, I'm a dietitian, and I'm a carb-aholic.

It might seem like an oxymoron but I LOVE good roll or slice of homemade bread. I know that excessive carbohydrates might be the downfall of my existence... but everything in moderation, right?

There's nothing better than a good homemade bread to warm you from the inside out. It makes your house smell like yeasty-goodness and when that's topped with garlic? Even better! I had pulled out a lasagna from the freezer and wanted something fresh to go with it. When I found this recipe for Garlic Knots on Annie's Eats, I knew it would be perfect.

As described in the recipe, each knot provides:
200 calories
6.7 g fat
30.5 g carbohydrate
1.1 g fiber
4.2 g protein

I didn't make any major changes to these. Yeast dough is actually a chemical process which if you tweak TOO much, just won't work out. I did make sure I used skim milk in the dough. I also only used 1 1/2 Tbsp of butter to coat and felt like I had plenty. I made mine into 12 rolls, instead of 10, to help control the calories just by size alone. I could have even made it into 16 rolls if I needed to.

I also did not make mine into knots. Although they are cute and look much more professional that way - I ran out of time! I simply formed mine into balls and baked them in a greased 8x11 pan. Didn't affect the nutrition content - just not as cute.

Garlic Knots - BETTER
3 cups bread flour
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup skim milk
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp lukewarm water

For the glaze:
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 Tbsp melted butter
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning

To make the dough, in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine the dry ingredients. Add the olive oil, milk and water. Mix until ingredients have formed a dough. Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turn once to coat, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.

Divide dough into 12 (or more!) equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 10-inch long rope and tie into a knot. Take the end lying underneath the knot and bring it over the top, tucking it into the center. Take the end lying over the knot and tuck it underneath and into the enter. Transfer the shaped rolls to a baking stone, or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (If short on time, form into equally shaped balls. Place in a greased baking pan with room for them to rise around each other). Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for 45 minutes, until puffy.

To make the glaze, finely mince the garlic (I use my micro-plane). Mix with melted butter and Italian seasoning. Preheat the over to 350 degrees. Brush the glaze onto the risen rolls. Bake until set and lightly browned, about 15-18 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

With 12 servings, each roll provides:
153.6 calories
4.0 g fat
25.4 g carbohydrate
0.9 g fiber
3.5 g protein

The more your recipe yields, the less calories and fat each roll will have.

Chicken Spaghetti

I recommend putting a baking sheet under this as mine OBVIOUSLY bubbled over :)

I work a weird schedule. I alternate between working 6am-2pm one day to 10 am - 6pm the next. On the days I get out at 2 pm, I try to make ahead a meal for the following day when I get out at 6pm so we can actually eat at a decent hour, instead of 9 pm. I am always looking for meals that can be made ahead or frozen. When reading the Pioneer Woman's post for Chicken Spaghetti, she talked about it freezing well, so I assumed I could just make it a day ahead as well.

I was right! My inlaws were watching the little munchkin one day and I wanted to have a home cooked meal to thank them for watching her.... but I wouldn't be there to bake it! So I made it the day ahead and left my mother-in-law instructions for getting it in the oven. It turned out great! I even made a special little dish of it for my father-in-law who doesn't like onions or peppers (although I wouldn't RECOMMEND that, as that takes out a lot of the vitamins and minerals of the dish!).

As prepared by the Pioneer Woman, this recipe provides:
391 calories
19.5 g fat
27.2 g carbohydrate
1.6 g fiber
26.2 g protein

I made just a few little changes to the recipe. First, I substituted whole wheat thin spaghetti for the regular spaghetti. Second, I doubled the amount of green pepper and onion to make it a little more vegetable-heavy. Lastly, I substituted 2% cheddar cheese for the full fat version, and only put 1 cup in the dish, with an additional 1 cup on top.

It was awesome! It also reheated really well. I had it for lunch the following two days after we had it for dinner.

Chicken Spaghetti - BETTER
2 cups cooked chicken breasts
3 cups dry whole wheat spaghetti, broken into two inch pieces
2 cans cream of mushroom soup (or cream of chicken, or both!)
1 cup shredded 2% cheddar cheese
1/2 cup finely diced green pepper
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1 jar (4 oz) diced pimentos, drained
2 cups reserved chicken broth from pot
1 tsp Lawry's seasoned salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup additional shredded 2% cheddar cheese

Boil chicken breasts in water. Shred the chicken breasts. Cook spaghetti in same chicken broth until al dente. Do not overcook. Reserve 2 cups of broth. When spaghetti is cooked, combine with remaining ingredients except additional 1 cup cheese.

Place mixture in casserole pan and top with remaining sharp cheddar. Cover and freeze up to six months, cover and refrigerate up to two days or bake immediately: 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until bubble. (If the cheese on top starts to get too cooked, cover with foil).

Makes 8 servings, per serving:
269 calories
7 g fat
29.0 g carbohydrate
3 g fiber
22.2 g protein

Thanksgiving Recap

We traveled 11 hours to Pennsylvania for my extended family's Thanksgiving this year. Because of our long car ride with a 3 month old, we were assigned to bring some appetizer munchies. I tried to find recipes for foods which wouldn't require any cooking so I could just throw them together in the hotel the night before. As it turns out, I didn't even have time for that and just threw them together when we got there. Thankfully, I had come up with a few quick fix ideas.

Michigan Trail Mix
4 oz. Michigan Dried Cherries
1 can mixed nuts
2 cups broken pretzel sticks

Pour into a bowl and serve! Makes approximately 12 servings.

Although this recipe is pretty high in fat from the nuts, the dried cherries are an excellent source of fiber and melatonin.

Calories 206, fat 11.9 g, Carbohydrate 22.4 g, Fiber 3.0 g, Protein 4.8 g

Quick Cheese Ball
2 pkgs fat free cream cheese
1 pkg garlic and herb dressing mix
1/4 cup 2% cheddar cheese

Blend cream cheese and package of dressing mix until well blended. Form into a ball. Sprinkle with cheese. Serve with whole wheat crackers or raw veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, celery, carrots or bell peppers. Makes ~ 32 servings.

Calories 15, Fat 0 g, Carbohydrates 1 g, Fiber 0.0 g, Protein 2.0 g

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cheesy Skillet Chicken with Rice and Green Beans

My husband isn’t that big of a fan of rice. So I try not to make it too much. But there is just something simple about chicken and rice that make it sound really appealing when you have a busy lifestyle (like going back to work full time and having a 12 week old!). I found this recipe for Cheesy Skillet Chicken and Rice with Green Beans on My Kitchen Café. It looked quick, it looked easy and it looked totally satisfying. As printed on the recipe, each serving provides:

404 calories

14.5 g fat

28.4 g carbohydrate

2.1 g fiber

38.5 g protein

Now I knew my husband wouldn’t eat the mushrooms (as he often says, “Why would anyone eat a fungus?”) so I didn’t even bother to add those, but if you do include mushrooms, you are providing additional nutrients to the dish without a whole of calories. I did make a few nutrition changes. First, I used brown rice instead of white rice to increase the fiber. This required me to increase the time that it simmered on the stovetop, but I anticipated that in my planning. I also decreased the chicken portion and increased the green bean portion as green beans are less calorically dense than chicken. Finally, I used reduced fat cheddar. I also cut up the chicken into large chunks as I had less chicken breasts than people I was serving.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of this recipe. I made it completely on the stovetop, except for adding the cheese. We then put it in a container and brought it over to our friends for dinner. I warmed it up on their stovetop and added the cheese at their house. It received rave reviews – even from my non-rice loving husband! So, we’ll be having it again our house, and hopefully I’ll remember to take a picture that time!

Cheesy Skillet Chicken and Rice with Green Beans – BETTER!

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Salt and ground black pepper

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 medium onion, chopped

4 medium garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed through a garlic press

4 cups low sodium chicken broth

1 ½ cups long grain brown rice

1 pound fresh or frozen green beans

1 cup shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese

½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season liberally with salt and pepper. (I also cut the chicken into large chunks at this point). Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until the oil is rippling and hot. Carefully lay the chicken in the skillet and cook until the chicken is well browned on the first side, about 3-4 minutes. Flip the chicken with a pair of tongs and let it brown on the second side, about 3 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer chicken to a plate and set aside. Drain all but 1-2 Tbsp oil from the pan.

Return the pan to medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and ½ tsp salt. (Here’s where the recipe adds the mushrooms – not in my household!), scraping the browned bits off the bottom and edges of the pan, cook for 6-8 minutes. Add the rice and continue to cook until the edges of the rice turn translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes (since brown rice takes longer to cook). Add the chicken to the pan and cover, cook until the chicken is no longer pink in the center and the rice is mostly cooked through, about an additional 15 minutes.

Stir the green beans into the skillet, stir the mixture well, cover and continue to cook on low until the beans and rice are tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings

328 calories

9.8 g fat

29.5 g carbohydrate

4.0 g fiber

30.1 g protein

Monday, November 8, 2010

Chicken Parmigiana

Chicken Parmesan is one of my go to recipes that I make when I’m tight on time and want something tasty. I’ve been making a recipe that my mom made forever but thought I’d branch out and see what the recipe blog world had to offer.

I came across The Pioneer Woman’s recipe for Chicken Parmigiana and knew it would be a flavorful hit. As posted with 6 servings, each serving provides:

772 calories

29.6 g fat

76.2 g carbohydrate

46.9 g protein

I tried not to alter the recipe too much so I could get the full flavor that she promised. Instead of ½ cup olive oil, I reduced it to 2 Tbsp olive oil. I also practiced portion control and used ½ pound of whole wheat pasta, instead of a full pound of linguine for six people. The smaller portion of pasta let the focus be on the delicious chicken and can be paired with a green salad to fill up your plate.

Chicken Parmigiana – BETTER

6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, trimmed and pounded flat

½ cup all-purpose flour

Salt and pepper to taste

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp butter

1 whole medium onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

¾ cup wine (white or red)

3 cans (14.5 oz) crushed tomatoes

2 Tbsp sugar

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

½ pound whole wheat pasta

Mix flour, salt and pepper together on a large plate. Dredge flattened chicken breasts in flour mixture. Set aside.

Start a pot of water for your pasta. Cook pasta until al dente.

Heat olive oil and butter together in a large skillet over medium heat. When butter is melted and oil/butter mixture is hot, add chicken breasts and cook until nice and golden brown on each side, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove the chicken breasts from the skillet and keep warm.

Without cleaning the skillet, add onions and garlic and gently stir for 2 minutes. Pour in whine and scrape the bottom of the pan, getting all the flavorful bits off the bottom. Allow the wine to cook down until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Pour in crushed tomatoes and stir to combine. Add sugar and more salt and pepper to taste. Allow to cook for 30 minutes. Toward the end of cooking time, add chopped parsley and give sauce a final stir.
Carefully lay chicken breasts on top of the sauce and completely cover them in grated parmesan. Place lid on skillet and reduce heat to low. Allow to simmer until cheese is melted and chicken is thoroughly heated.

Place cooked noodles on a plate and cover with sauce. Place chicken breast on top and sprinkle with more parsley. Serve immediately. Makes 6 servings, per serving:

463 calories

15.6 g fat

38.7 g carbohydrate

5.9 g fiber

41.3 g protein

Chicken Pot Pie

Confession: I’m a dietitian and I LOVE pie crust. I know I could have made this (or any pie recipe) healthier by only doing a top crust and forgoing the bottom crust, but I refuse.

With that being said, YOU (as it is not an option for me) could save 161 calories, 10 grams of fat and almost 15 grams of carbohydrate by simply making it with a top crust only. That is… if crust isn’t your thing.

I am on a comfort food kick and definitely put chicken pot pie in that category. So in search of a chicken pot pie recipe, I came across this recipe from Our Best Bites. It’s the perfect traditional chicken pot pie – no frills or crazy ingredients – just what you imagine your grandma making. As printed in the original recipe (and with a DOUBLE crust), 1/8th of this pie provides:

578 calories

27.4 g fat

60.3 g carbohydrate

5.4 g fiber

22.6 g protein

I didn’t make huge changes to this recipe. I used 3 potatoes, instead of 5 potatoes and omitted the butter. I also used 98% fat free cream of chicken soup instead of the full fat version. I also tried replacing one cup of white flour with one cup of wheat flour in the pie crust recipe. To be honest, this small change didn’t make that much of a difference in nutritional value, however I was more curious to see if I could still get a flaky crust with whole wheat flour in the recipe. It turned out pretty good! Especially for a savory recipe like this one.

Chicken Pot Pie – BETTER


1 cup wheat flour

1 ½ cup white flour

1 tsp salt

2/3 cup + 2 Tbsp shortening

Ice water (approximately ½ cup)

Combine flours and salt in a medium sized bowl. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender or two knives until you get about pea sized pieces.

Sprinkle ice water in about a tablespoon at a time. Very gently, turn the dough with your fingers so it gets exposed to the water. Gradually, all of the flour mixture will be moistened. Divide the dough into two balls. Wrap in plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator until ready to use.

When ready, roll out one ball on a lightly floured surface until it is big enough to fit in your pie pan. When ready for the top, roll out the second ball and place it on top of your filling as desired. For a good picture demonstration of crusts, check out the original recipe here.


2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped into bite size pieces

1 12-16 oz. bag frozen vegetables, thawed

1 onion, minced

3 medium-small red potatoes, diced

2 cans 98% fat free cream of chicken soup

Ground black pepper, to taste.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. When ready, add potatoes and boil until tender.

In a mixing bowl, combine cream of chicken soup, chicken, vegetables, onion and potatoes. Season to taste.

Add the filling to prepared pie crust. Top as desired with second crust. (Or save yourself some fat and calories by omitting the bottom crust!) Make sure you cut vents into the top of the crust to let out the steam.

Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake for 40-45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to stand for a few minutes before serving.

Per serving:

536 calories

25.1 g fat

61.8 g carbohydrate

8.1 g fiber

18.0 g protein

***This recipe could also be made ahead or doubled and put in the freezer for up to 3 months. Put the UNBAKED pie in the freezer, covered in foil. When desired, pull the pie out of the freezer 24 hours in advance and put in your refrigerator. You may have to increase the cooking time by 15 minutes or so.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

***Picture to come***

Quick breads are such a convenience item – they come in handy all the time! Going to a relative’s house for a weekend getaway? Bring a quick bread. New neighbors move in? Bring a quick bread. Unexpected company staying over night? Whip up a quick bread. The BEST part about quick breads is that you can make them ahead of time and freeze for up to 2 months when properly wrapped in your freezer. Since pumpkin is the quintessential fall food accessory, I was bound and determined to find a pumpkin bread recipe. After all, I was headed to a Bible study that night… and why not bring a quick bread?

I found this recipe over at My Kitchen Addiction and knew it was meant to be. A. I like when pumpkin recipes call for the whole can of pumpkin, not a portion of it. So then I’m not stuck with a portion of pumpkin that I have to figure out something to do with it. B. It called for 1 cup of chocolate chips and I had a random bag of chocolate chips with 1 cup in it in my pantry.

The recipe makes quite a few loaves of bread. I made three 8x4 pans and could easily cut each loaf into 12 slices, making 36 servings total. Per serving, each slice provides:

196.4 calories

8.2 g fat

29.9 g carbohydrate

1.3 g fiber

2.4 g protein

I made a few simple changes to the recipe to decrease the fat and calories (and make a small increase in the fiber). First, I switched the white and wheat flour. Second, I substituted unsweetened applesauce for the oil. The finished product was delicious!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread – BETTER!

2 ½ cup wheat flour

1 cup white flour

3 cups granulated sugar

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp salt

1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)

1 cup unsweetened applesauce

4 large eggs

2/3 cup water

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9x5 loaf pans or three 8x4 loaf pans with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, mix flours, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together canned pumpkin, applesauce, eggs, and 2/3 cup water until well combined and stir into dry ingredients, just until the dry ingredients are moistened and no dry streaks remain. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake the bread for 60 to 70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the comes out clean. Remove the bread from the oven and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Run a knife gently around the edge of the bread and turn the bread out, right side up, onto a wire rack to cool completely.

This bread freezes beautifully. After cooling, wrap the bread in a layer of plastic wrap and then a layer of tin foil. Freeze for up to 2 months.

Per serving (36 servings)

143.7 calories

2.2 g fat

30.3 g carbohydrate

1.9 g fiber

2.5 g protein

Glazed Mini Meatloaves

I am always in the search for a good meatloaf recipe. I know meatloaf doesn’t scream healthy but it’s a good comfort food. Now that fall is in full swing, I occasionally want a hot dinner that makes me feel like putting on my sweats, slipping on my slippers and curling up on the couch. Meatloaf does that for me. Unfortunately I’ve tried a slew of meatloaf recipes and have had numerous fails. I’ve pretty much settled on sticking with the recipe on the box of French onion soup mix.

I knew that my husband was going to be outside all day on a cold Saturday for work and wanted to make something warm and hearty for when he got home. I came across this meatloaf recipe at My Kitchen Addiction and thought I’d give them a try. As prepared on the original recipe, each serving provides:

6 servings

466 calories

27.3 g fat

28.0 g carbohydrate

0.5 g fiber

27.3 g protein

Now I wasn’t planning on making this the healthiest meatloaf ever, just tweaking it here and there to make a small improvement. I’ve had a roll of sage sausage in my freezer for what seems like forever and I never knew what to do with it (I mean really, what do people do with SAGE sausage?). So I thawed it out and used that as the pork portion of this recipe. I also changed the saltines to reduced fat Ritz crackers, used skim milk instead of whole milk, eliminated the oil for browning in the pan and decreased the brown sugar in the glaze.

These were AWESOME! My husband is still raving about the best-meatloaf-EVER two days later. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m excited that I’m having one for leftovers tonight. Give them a try!

Glazed Mini Meatloaves – BETTER (Makes 6 loaves)

17-20 Reduced fat Ritz crackers, crushed fine

¼ cup skim milk

1/3 cup minced fresh parsley (Or 2 Tbsp dried)

3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 large egg

1 ½ Tbsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

1 ½ pounds ground meat (I used a combination of lean ground chuck and sage sausage)


½ cup ketchup

2 Tbsp packed brown sugar

4 tsp cider vinegar

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees. Stir cracker crumbs, milk, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, egg, mustard, onion powder, garlic powder, 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper together in a large bow. Add ground meat and combine until uniform (I found this easiest to do with my hands – yuck!). Shape mixture into oval loaves. I made six loaves.

Heat nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add meatloaves (without letting them touch sides and brown well on one side, 3-5 minutes. Carefully flip loaves over. Brown on this side for another 2-3 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix glaze ingredients together until smooth. Transfer mini meatloaves to a foil-lined baking pan and spoon the glaze over the top of each meatloaf. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the center of the loaf registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.

Nutrition facts:

396 calories

27.9 g fat

16.6 g carbohydrate

0.2 g fiber

18.2 g protein.

***Before baking, you can wrap individual loaves in plastic wrap, then foil and deep freeze for later. Just thaw individual meatloaf and bake as described... it may need an extra minute or two.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Snake Bites

OK… Paula Dean doesn’t have a blog, but I love watching Paula Dean. I have no illusions that I am going to be getting a healthy meal out of any of her recipes but they sure tempt my taste buds. A few weeks ago, my husband and I were watching her Halloween special where she made a recipe called Snake Bites. Essentially it was rolled up crescent roll dough with meats and cheeses on the inside. I promptly went to to get the recipe. As printed in the recipe, each serving provides:

563 calories

37.8 g fat

1421 mg sodium

28.2 g carbohydrate

0.6 g fiber

26.2 g protein

Now when I decided to make this for a special treat for my husband for dinner, I had no intentions of making it health-i-fied. However, I’m not sure if the recipe is written wrong but it calls for 30 ounces of meat and 12 ounces of cheese. There is NO WAY that would fit in one can of crescent roll dough! So I used significantly less meat and cheese, as well as reduced fat crescent roll dough, only one egg yolk and reduced fat cheese for a slightly healthier version. (I also omitted the mustard, but that’s because I hate mustard). I also didn’t shape this into a snake as we were just having it for dinner – not any special occasion. I’m pretty sure my two month old doesn’t quite appreciate the Halloween snake shape either.

Snake Bites - BETTER (makes 10 appetizer servings)

1 can reduced fat crescent rolls

Flour, for dusting

4 ounces lean ham

4 ounces salami

10 pepperonis

4 oz. reduced fat cheddar cheese

1 egg yolk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray with nonstick spray.

Dust a flat surface lightly with flour. Spread out the crescent dough – do not separate. Pinch together the seams so that you have 1 piece of dough. Roll out to make a large rectangle. Make sure the dough is not stuck to the surface at all.

Layer the meats down the center of the rectangle, leaving a 1 inch border on either end.

Top the meats with the cheese. Fold one side of the dough over the filling, lengthwise. Fold the other side over the middle. Pinch the seam with your fingers to seal. Press the outside of the dough to make sure everything is sealed tight. Brush the top of your dough with beaten egg yolk. (I also sprinkled with garlic powder).

Transfer dough/meat roll to prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Let sit for 5 minutes before slicing.

254.9 calories

15.7 g fat

589 mg sodium

18.6 g carbohydrate

0.3 g fiber

9.5 g protein

*** This would likely also be good using the breadstick, French bread, or pizza crust dough. My husband and I both thought that the crescent roll taste was a little strong ***

Monday, October 25, 2010

Creamy Ham and Potato Soup

As the leaves begin to change and the temperatures fall, it starts to feel like soup season to me. I had an extra large bag of potatoes that I wanted to find a use for and craved something warm. So I searched for the perfect potato soup recipe. The Girl Who Ate Everything posted a delicious looking Creamy Ham and Potato Soup a few weeks ago and I thought I would give it a try. As originally posted, this soup provides:

600 calories

26.5 g fat

1196 mg sodium

72.5 g carbohydrate

7.6 grams fiber

20.2 grams protein

When people think of making healthy changes, they often limit their scope of “healthy” to calories, fat grams or carbohydrates. But healthy changes can come in a variety of forms. Soups especially tend to be very high in sodium. The average American only needs 2,400 mg of sodium each day but many Americans consume 8,000-10,000 mg or more each day. Eating too much sodium (or salt) can contribute to elevated blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and just plain old fluid retention.

In this recipe, I changed the chicken broth to low sodium chicken broth, omitted the ½ tsp salt and switched out the diced ham for Boar’s Head brand reduced sodium ham. With those changes, I was able to cut the sodium nearly in half. I also only used 2 Tbsp of butter and 2 Tbsp of flour to make the roux and it was perfectly thick enough.

Creamy Ham and Potato Soup - BETTER

3 ½ cups peeled and diced potatoes

1/3 cup diced celery

1/3 cup finely chopped onion

½ cup carrot, diced

1 cup diced low sodium cooked ham (such as Boar’s Head)

3 ¼ cup low sodium chicken broth

1 tsp ground white or black pepper, or to taste

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

2 Tbsp all purpose flour

2 cups skim milk

Combine the potatoes, celery, onion, carrot, ham and chicken broth in a stockpot. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the salt and pepper.

In a separate saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour with a fork, and cook, stirring constantly until thick, about 1 minute. Slowly stir in milk so that lumps don’t form and until all of the milk has been added. Continue stirring over medium-low heat until thick, 4 to 5 minutes.

Stir the milk mixture into the stockpot and cook soup until heated through.

Top with cheddar cheese, chives and bacon if desired. Serve immediately.

(Reheats well for lunch the next day, too!)

Makes 6 servings

Per serving:

317 calories

8.6 grams fat

606 mg sodium

46.2 grams carbohydrate

4.9 grams fiber

14.7 grams protein