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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Shepherdess' Pie

So to round out this month of healthy eating, here is a housebound, snowy day, comfort food special.  It's a variation on a Shepherd's Pie.  Instead of potatoes, we stole a page from South Beach and made the topping out of mashed cauliflower.  Hope you enjoy!

Shepherdess Pie


1 lb. ground turkey
1 small onion, chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups veggie stock
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste


4 cups cauliflower florets (approx 1 head)
2 large carrots, diced
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp skim milk

In a large pan, dry fry the ground turkey for 3-4 minutes until browned. Add the onion and garlic, cook for an additional 3-4 minutes.

While that’s cooking, whisk together the veggie stock and tomato paste. Set aside.

Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Gradually blend in the tomato stock mix. Stir in celery, 1 tbsp of the parsley, and the Worcestershire sauce. Season to taste.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes.

To make the topping, steam or microwave the cauliflower until soft. Puree with butter and skim milk until smooth. Boil the diced carrots for about 10 minutes until soft. Mash in a food processor and then blend with the cauliflower. Mix in the rest of the parsley (or if you forget, just save to sprinkle on top of dish). Set aside.

Spoon the turkey mixture into a baking dish and top with the cauliflower-carrot topping.

Bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through.

Serve up with your favorite bread.  We kept it it light by pairing with toasted whole wheat sandwich thins (only 100 calories each).


You can substitute ground beef for the ground turkey, or use Morningstar Grilled Crumblers if you want to make it a vegetarian dish.

You can use chicken stock, or beef broth if you use ground beef, in lieu of veggie stock, in this case it's just what we had on hand already.

If you aren't a huge fan of cauliflower (which one of us isn't), you can make mashed potatoes instead for the topping.  Though for those non-cauliflorians out there, seriously can't tell the difference.  Potatoes are a bit more mealy, but flavorwise, you don't miss a thing.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My Big (low)Fat Portobello Burger

Sometimes you feel like eating a burger, but really aren’t interested in splurging on the extra calories or fat. Instead of giving into the craving, try eating a Portobello burger. We’re not saying it’s the same as eating a burger, but it’s a pretty good substitute. Top it with all your favorite burger condiments, you’ll have yourself a great filling meal!

Basic Portobello Mushroom Burgers:

½ cup of vinegar (we used ¼ cup of sherry vinegar and ¼ cup balsamic)
2 tbsp. olive oil
½ tbsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. Italian seasonings
juice from ½ of a lemon
salt and pepper to taste
2 Portobello mushroom caps

Combine first 5 ingredients.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

Brush mushroom caps with dry paper towel.

Place caps in a dish and pour marinade over them. Marinate for an hour, flipping the mushroom caps after 30 minutes.

Place mushroom caps on a lined broiler pan and place under hot broiler. Broil 5 minutes, and flip over. Broil another 5 minutes, or until desired tenderness.

Serve on a bun with toppings of your choice.


Change up your seasonings in your marinade to give your burger a different flavor. Add some cumin and chili powder and have yourself a southwestern Portobello burger.

In the summer, do these burgers over a grill.

We topped our burger with our feta pesto and served it with a side of butternut squash fries (recipe below).

Butternut squash fries:

1 butternut squash peeled, scooped, and cut into french fry shapes.

Place on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Sprinkle with Kosher salt.

Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes and flip. Bake for another 20 minutes, or until fries start browning on the edge.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hey Charlie!

If you're in the mood for something light and relatively easy to pull off, here's a good one for the seafood lovers out there.  Added bonus, very low-fat.

Herbed Tuna Steaks with Lime

4 tuna steaks, 6 oz. each
1/2 tsp finely grated lime rind
1 tsp minced garlic, mashed to a paste
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander

1 tbsp lime juice
Fresh cilantro, for garnish

* We used skinless yellow fin tuna filets, just a step down from sashimi grade, but it was nice because it did not have an overwhelming fish flavor.
* For the minced garlic we used a roasted variety which added a little richness to the flavor.
* One medium-sized lime will yield both the rind and the lime juice you need for this.

Trim any skin from tuna steaks, rinse and pat dray on an absorbent paper towel.

In a small bowl, mix together the lime rind, garlic, olive oil, cumin and coriander to make a paste.

Spread the paste thinly on both sides of the tuna.

Heat a non-stick pan until hot and cook each side of the tuna for 2-3 minutes to seal. Lower the heat and then continue to cook tuna for another 2-3 minutes per side until cooked through. Depending on the thickness of the steak, this process can take up to 10 minutes.

Remove tuna from pan and pat dry lightly before transferring to a place. Sprinkle with the lime juice and garnish with chopped cilantro.

We served the tuna with Uncle Ben’s Long Grain & Wild Rice (5 minutes!) and some steamed green beans with fresh-squeezed lemon and a touch of rock salt (one of our favorite ways to serve green beans). Overall, it made for a very light zesty meal and only took about 35 minutes to put everything together.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

More Soup for you!

We really like making soup! It's versatile, quick and easy.  So why wouldn’t it be one of our favorite dishes? Sometimes there is nothing better than throwing ingredients into a pot and knowing that by the time you’ve got your comfy clothes on, dinner will be ready to dive into!

Black Bean Soup:

1 chipotle pepper packed in adobo sauce- small dice
1 onion- small dice
2 cups chicken or veggie stock
2 cans of black beans (do not rinse or drain)
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 lb. ground chicken (cooked)

Heat olive oil in a 5 qt. pot, add diced onion and chipotle. Sauté until onions are tender. Pour in stock, and black beans (with liquid). Add all spices.

Bring soup to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Let simmer for 5 minutes.

Keeping soup on the burner, carefully ladle 1-2 cups of broth and beans into a food processor.

(yes that is Cap'n Crunch in the background!)
Process the mixture until well pureed.

Scoop the mixture back into the pot of soup (this will make the soup just a little thicker), and add cooked ground chicken.

Simmer for another 5 minutes, remove from heat and enjoy.


Add more chipotle peppers if you spicy! Any leftover chipotles and adobo can go into a freezer bag and placed into the freezer for future use.

If you aren’t crazy about heat, omit the chipotle. Try adding a dash of liquid smoke to give the soup the smokiness that the pepper would have, without the heat.

Adjust the spices to your taste. Don’t be afraid to taste and season as you go.

Pair this up with a salad with a citrus vinaigrette, and a nice hunk of Italian or Corn bread.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Pastaless Pesto

Have you ever found that consuming pasta is the springboard to putting yourself into a carb overload? If you answered yes to this question, have we got the recipe for you.

Swapping out spaghetti squash for pasta helps the eyes to think that you're eating pasta when you're really not. Yes, we realize it doesn’t taste quite the same but it’s better than the alternative (we’ll give you a minute here to think about it).

Spaghetti Squash with Zucchini and Feta Pesto

1 spaghetti squash
3 small zucchinis

Preheat your oven to 350. Cut the spaghetti squash in half, and scoop out the guts (just like you would a pumpkin).

Cook the squash face up on a baking sheet for 30-40 minutes. When you can pierce the flesh with a fork and create spaghetti looking strands when dragging the fork down the side, it’s done.

While the squash is baking make the pesto.

Feta Pesto:

1 cup fresh basil
½ cup walnuts
1 garlic clove
6 oz reduced fat feta cheese
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/3-1/2 cup water

Toast the walnuts slightly (when you start to smell them, they’re done). 

Put the walnuts, basil, and garlic clove into a food processor and pulse them until combined. Add the feta and olive oil and process until the mixture is paste like.

Add 1/3 cup of water, process until creamy. If you want a thick pesto, you can stop here. If you want a more sauce like pesto, continue to add small amounts of water and process until you get the consistency that you want. 

When the squash is done, scrape out all the flesh with a fork. You can get a good 4 cups of ‘spaghetti’ from one squash.

Cube up zucchini and sauté in a pan sprayed with cooking spray. Cook until fork tender (about 3 minutes). Add the squash and sauté for another minute.

Toss squash and zucchini with 1-2 Tbsp. of your pesto, and enjoy!


* This pesto recipe will make more than you need for the squash. Use it as a sandwich spread, or as a topping for bruschetta.

* If you can’t break the pasta habit, go ahead, put the pesto and the zucchini on pasta, but don’t blame us, we tried to help :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Gone Fishing

Fish is a great way to get in some healthy eating.  Fish is a good source for lean protein, and omega-3 fatty acids.  We decided to prepare our fish en papillote. What is en papillote you may ask.  Well, it's just a fancy way to say, cooking fish in parchment (or even in aluminum foil). The fish will steam and take in the flavors of whatever is in the packet with it. This is a very easy dish, which also makes for a pretty presentation.

Asian Inspired fish en papillote.

Scallion and Ginger marinade:
1/3 cup dry sherry or vermouth
3 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
¼ cup finely chopped green onion
1 tsp. freshly grated ginger
1 tsp. finely chopped garlic
Optional: ½ stalk lemongrass, bruised*

Combine all ingredients, for best flavor, let sit for an hour before using.

*to bruise the lemon grass stalk, use the edge of a knife to squash it a bit… this will release the fragrance of the lemongrass and allow it to penetrate into the marinade.

For fish:
2 tilapia filets
1 carrot finely grated
2 shallots finely diced
1 small bok choy, roughly chopped or torn
½ of above marinade

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut 2 rectangles of parchment paper, have them laid out for easy assembly.

Place fish filets and marinade into a plastic bag, set aside. The fish should only stay in the marinade for about 10 minutes.

Spray a heated pan with cooking spray (or hit it with a bit of oil). Sautee shallots for 30 seconds, add carrot and bok choy, sautee for another 45 seconds to 1 minute. You do not want to get the carrots or the bok choy to get too soggy, these will go into the packet.

Place half of the carrot/bok choy mixture in the middle of your parchment rectangle.**

Top with marinated fish filet.

Drizzle a tsp of marinade onto fish.

Repeat with other half of mixture and second filet in the other parchment rectangle.

Fold your parchment over, crimping the sides, to make sure that all moisture stays in.
Bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes (depending on the thickness of your fish). Check on it, if it’s flaky, and opaque all the way through, it’s done.

We served our fish packet over rice noodles that were tossed with the unused marinade.

** we confess, we did not do this recipe according to direction.  We sauteed the bok choy up seperately and placed it on top of the fish... it worked out, feel free to do it as well.

Rice Noodles with scallion and ginger sauce:

While the water is boiling for the rice noodles, dump the remaining marinade into a pan (remove the lemongrass if it is still in there).

Boil for a couple of minutes (this will cook the ginger and garlic).

Prepare rice noodles according to direction (or like in our case, if you don’t speak the language that is printed on your noodles, use the following website - prepare enough for the two filets.

When the rice noodles are done, quickly toss them over heat with the sauce.

Put them on a plate and top them with the contents of the en papillote.


Although most of the ingredients that are called for can be found at the regular grocery store, if you can find an Asian market, you may find that you’ll pay quite a bit less for the same ingredients.

There are tons of variations for fish en papillote. The more fragrant the ingredients, the more flavor your fish will have.

If you can’t find tilapia don’t throw this recipe out. We also tried it with flounder and it came out pretty tasty. You can use any mild white fish for this particular dish.

You can serve the packeted fish directly onto the plate, letting each person open their very own fishy present.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Eastern Delights

Just because it's fancy doesn't mean it's really fattening.  Our low-fat feature is the Apricot-Coconut couscous, a very light tasting dish, and we chose to pair it with skewered curry chicken, "grilled" under a broiler, and a small side of our carambola chutney to help cool the heat of the curry.

Apricot-Coconut Couscous

10 oz. box of plain couscous
20-26 no-need-to-soak dried apricots
1 small bunch of fresh chives
2 tbsp shredded coconut
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Salt and pepper to taste

Couscous dressing

1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp fresh-squeezed (or unsweetened) orange juice
½ tsp finely grated orange rind
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tsp clear honey
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves

Prepare couscous according to box directions. Set aside to cool.

Slice the apricots into small strips – what exactly are no-need-to-soak dried apricots you ask? They look like this, more like slightly shriveled but still deliciously plump apricots.

Using scissors snip the chives over the apricots and then set aside.

Mix all of the dressing ingredients together and then in a large bowl mix couscous, apricot-chives, coconut and dressing.

Cover and chill for at least an hour to allow flavors to blend.


This dish can be served cold or hot.

If you want a richer nuttier taste, toast the coconut before adding it to the couscous.

Skewered Curry Chicken

For the chicken skewers, we found a curry paste we liked and mixed it with water to use as a marinade.  Cut the chicken into bite-sized cubes and let sit in curry overnight.

If you are broiling in the oven, it's best to use metal skewers to cook the chicken (3-4 minutes per side).  If you do use wooden skewers, make sure to soak them for an hour or two before putting the chicken on, though they will still burn to a certain degree, they won't catch on fire (which is always a good thing as broiler + firey skewers = clouds of smoke and fire marshal as unexpected dinner guest).  Make sure to have a fan running when you use wooden skewers because they may smoke.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

It IS soup yet

This next dish is a nice light soup, low in fat, but high in flavor. This time of year when the weather is particularly nasty outside, a delicious hot soup is just the thing to hit the spot.

Tuscan Bean Soup

1 medium onion, chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
2 celery sticks, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
14 oz can tomatoes, chopped
2/3 cup Italian dry red wine (we recommend a Cabernet Sauvignon)
5 cups vegetable stock
1 tsp dried oregano
15 oz can beans (cannelloni, kidney or such)
2 medium zucchini, chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
Salt and pepper

In a large saucepan, sauté onion, garlic, celery and carrot for 2-3 minutes in olive oil.

Stir in tomatoes, wine, veggie stock, and oregano and bring to a boil. Cover and drop to a simmer for 15 minutes.

Stir in beans, zucchini and tomato paste and continue to simmer covered for an additional 10 minutes, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with shredded parmesan and fresh crusty bread.


For a heartier soup, you can add in pre-cooked chicken or Italian sausage.

Add in some pre-cooked pasta like farfalle (bowtie), orzo, or orecchiette.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Healthy New Year!

So to start us out right this year, we're going to share some recipes that are low in fat and/or low in calories, but not in flavor.

Our first is a recipe collection staple.  It's easy, very tasty, and good for you.  Picante sauce is fat free as well as low in both carbs and calories.  In additon, the chicken breasts are steamed in the cooking process which is one of the healthier ways of preparing it.  Granted you might lose some of the gains depending on the amount of cheese you decide to use, but overall, it meets the bill for our January theme.

Chicken Picante

1-2 lbs chicken breasts
1 cup picante sauce (your choice -- mild, medium or hot)
14 oz can chicken broth, fat free
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 cup converted rice
Shredded cheddar cheese

In a large skillet, bring chicken broth, garlic salt and picante sauce to a boil.

Reduce heat and stir in rice then place the raw chicken pieces on top.  Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and let sit covered for an additional 5 minutes until all liquid is absorbed.

Sprinkle shredded cheddar on top and let sit until cheese is melted (we usually put the cover back on for this process too, but it's not necessarily necessary).

We hope you enjoy this as it is one of our favorites!  More good for you foods to come.

We cut the chicken into smaller chunks, but you leave them as whole breasts. The recipe also works with bone-in chicken.

Serve with a dollop of fat free sour cream and shredded lettuce. If you cut the chicken before serving, it makes a great filling for tortillas.

FYI, if you leave a can of regular chicken broth in the refrigerator for a while before opening, the fat will congeal on the top and you can easily scoop it out, thus cutting back the fat content.