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 ***