Monday, May 14, 2012

Chickpea and Eggplant Tossed Salad with Balsamic-Roasted Red Pepper Dressing

Summer is basically here, and what better dish for the warm months than a fresh and light salad. Sweet and creamy roasted red pepper, salty feta cheese, protein packed chickpeas, and tons of veggies make this a filling and satisfying salad with layer upon layer of flavor. But the best part is that it's 100% swimsuit season approved!
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon dried Oregano
2 Zucchini, quartered lengt-wise and cut into 1" pieces
1 medium Eggplant, cut into bite-size chunks
1 can Chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 cup reduced-fat Feta Cheese, crumbled
4 cups fresh Baby Spinach Leaves
4 cups chopped Romaine Lettuce
Balsamic-Roasted Red Pepper Dressing

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On a foil lined sheet pan, toss together salt, oregano, zucchini, eggplant, chickpeas, and olive oil. Bake for 22 to 26 minutes. Let cool.

Meanwhile, toss spinach and romaine together and divide evenly onto 4 plates (or bowls). Top each serving with 1/4 cup feta, 3 tablespoons dressing, and a quarter of the cooled chickpea mixture. Serve and enjoy.

Servings: 4; 470 calories per serving

Sweet and Tangy Balsamic-Roasted Red Pepper Dressing

I am very picky when it comes to salads. It seems like they are only enjoyable and satisfying when loaded with fattening ingredients, especially when it comes to the dressing. This salad dressing, however, is sweet, tangy, creamy, and rich...but without all the fat. And it's not just tasty on salads. Enjoy this dressing drizzled over chicken, as a dip for kebabs, or as a burger topping (particularly good with melted mozzarella and fresh basil).

1/2 cup Non-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt
1/3 cup roughly chopped Roasted Red Bell Pepper, about half of one pepper (if using store bought, make sure fat content is low)
2 teaspoons Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh Garlic
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper, to taste

Blend all ingredients, except salt and pepper, together using a blender, food processor, or imulsion blender. Add salt and pepper gradually, blending and tasting as you go. I use 4 to 5 grinds of black pepper and two liberal pinches of salt.

Servings: 4 Serving Size: 3 tablespoons; 20 calories per serving

Friday, April 6, 2012

Basil Hummus and Roasted Veggie Stuffed Pitas

When trying to decide on a healthy meal to cook together, my friend Hannah suggested a dish using homemade hummus and roasted veggies. We decided to try a twist on traditional hummus by making a basil hummus and adding spice to the veggies. The result is a delicious sandwich, perfect for lunch or dinner. This meal is packed with fiber, super filling, surprisingly hearty, and as always, yummy.

1 tablespoon Olive Oil
2 1/2 cups chopped Red Bell Pepper (about 2 medium peppers)
1/2 cup peeled and chopped Yellow Onion (about 1/2 of one onion)
1 cup peeled and chopped Carrots (2-3 whole carrots)
3 cups small Broccoli Florets
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flake
1 cup Sweet Basil Hummus (click for recipe)
1/2 cup Reduced-Fat Feta Cheese, crumbled
4 100% Whole Wheat Pita Halves (2 whole pitas, halved)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On a foil lined sheet pan, toss chopped veggies (all should be bite-size and approximately the same size), salt, red pepper flake, and olive oil together and spread into an even layer across pan. Roast veggies for 18 to 20 minutes, turning once mid way through cooking.
Once veggies are slightly cooled, fill each pita pocket with 1/4 cup Basil Hummus, 1 1/2 tablespoons of crumbled feta, and 1/4 of the roasted veggies.

Servings: 4; 330 calories per serving (serving size is one pita half stuffed with hummus, veggies, and cheese)

Sweet Basil Hummus Spread

I love the combination of chickpeas, lemon, tahini, and garlic. Hummus is a staple in my diet not only because it's delicious, but also because it's versatile, rich, and packed with fiber. Adding fresh basil gives my classic hummus a delicate, sweet flavor and works perfectly with crisp, perfectly roasted veggies.

1 can Chickpeas, drained and rinsed (reserve the liquid)
2 to 4 tablespoons reserved Chickpea Liquid (start with 2, add more if needed)
2 tablespoons fresh Lemon Juice
2 tablespoons Tahini Paste
1 clove Garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped Fresh Basil

Using a food processor or emulsion blender, blend all ingredients together except the basil. Blend to desired consistency, adding reserved chickpea liquid as needed. Once blended add basil and blend until just incorporated.

Servings: 5; 1/4 cup hummus per serving 140 calories per serving

Friday, March 30, 2012

White Bean, Spinach, and Tomato Spaghetti with Oregano Roasted Shrimp

This pasta recipe is fresh, light, and elegant. I think shrimp adds an easy touch of sophistication to any recipe. I made this dish for my best friend to celebrate her new job in NYC. A bottle of champagne and a simple salad made for the perfect meal. This entertaining-friendly dish looks impressive, but it's so hard to mess up that you can enjoy your company as you cook.
1 tablespoon Olive Oil, divided
2 pounds Jumbo Shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 teaspoon dried Oregano
2 cups Grape Tomatoes
3 cloves Garlic, peeled and finely minced
2 cups low-sodium Chicken Stock
Juice of one Lemon
Zest of one half Lemon
1 can White Beans, drained and rinsed
1 bag Fresh Spinach
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
3/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt, divided
6 ounces 100% Whole Wheat Spaghetti, cooked according to package instructions to al dente


Preaheat oven to 400 degrees. On a foil lined sheet pan toss Shrimp, 1/4 teaspoon salt, oregano, and 1/2 tablespoon Olive Oil together. Spread shrimp out in an even layer. Bake Shrimp for 6 to 8 minutes, until just pink.

Meanwhile, heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a large pan. Add tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add minced garlic to pan, cook for 1 minute. Add chicken stock, lemon juice and zest, white beans, and salt to pan. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until stock reduces to half, about 8 minutes. Add spinach and continue to cook and toss mixture until spinach is fully wilted. Add parmesan, cooked spaghetti, and shrimp to sauce. Toss and serve.

Servings: 4; 350 calories per serving
Make this dish vegetarian by omitting shrimp and using veggie stock instead of chicken stock.
You can use frozen shrimp in this dish. Just defrost in fridge no more than 1 day before cooking.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Creamy Avocado Chicken Salad

Whenever I go home to St. Louis I make sure to get the low-fat chicken salad from my favorite local lunch cafe. Now that I am no longer a student and my time at home is limited, I thought it was time to come up with my own mayo-free chicken salad recipe, one I wouldn't feel guilty about eating. Tangy fat-free yogurt and creamy avocado create a delicious and mild sauce, similar to the one I love from home. Pair this sauce with freshly roasted chicken, crunchy celery, and spicy green onion and you've got a delicious and healthy version of the luncheon classic.

1 to 1.25 pounds boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts
1 teaspoon Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon Paprika
1/4 cup mashed Avocado (approximately half of a small avocado)
1/4 cup non-fat Greek Yogurt
1/2 cup finley chopped Celery
1 tablespoon finely chopped Green Onion
Black Pepper and Additional Salt, to taste


Preaheat oven to 425 degrees. Place chicken breasts on a sheet pan lined with aluminum foil. Coat with olive oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon paprika. Bake chicken breasts for 25 minutes. Once cooked, allow chicken to cool slightly then either shred or dice the chicken into bite-size pieces. Refridgerate until completely cooled then add yogurt, avocado, celery, and green onion. Mix until completely combined. Add salt and black pepper to taste. For best result, refridgerate for an hour before serving.

Servings: 4 Serving Size: approximately a heaping 1/2 cup; 210 calories per serving
I sometimes like to add banana peppers for a little kick or grapes for some sweetness
Enjoy this chicken salad on it's own with a side of fruit, in a wrap, or club style on wheat bread with lettuce, tomato and turkey bacon

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spicy Chinese Beef and Mushroom Lettuce Wraps

Nothing makes a night in front of the TV like greasy Chinese takeout, but  it's typically not the best choice when it comes to your health. My Spicy Beef and Mushroom Lettuce Wraps are easy and healthy, but taste simply sinful. Full of vegetables and flavored with ginger, garlic, and soy, you don't have to feel guilty about eating my version of Chinese takeout, and your taste buds won't miss a thing!

1 tablespoon Oil (either olive or canola)
2 medium Carrots, Peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
1 medium Yellow Onion, diced
1 pound 96% lean Ground Beef
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 tablespoon grated Ginger Root (peel first with a veggie peeler)
1 medium Red Bell Pepper, cored, seeded, diced (about 1.5 cups)
10 ounces Baby Bella Mushrooms, diced
1/4 cup chopped Scallions (plus more for garnish)
1/4 cup low-sodium Soy Sauce
1 to 2 tablespoons Sriracha Sauce (depending on how spicy you like it)
Romaine Lettuce Leaves (kept as whole as possible)


Preaheat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add diced carrots and yellow onion. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add ground beef to pan, breaking it up as it cooks with a spoon. After 5 minutes add salt, garlic, ginger, bell pepper, mushrooms, scallions, soy sauce, and Sriracha. Cook until veggies are tender and ground beef is cooked through, 5 to 10 more minutes.
Allow mixture to cool slightly. Fill lettuce leaves with beef mixture and garnish with scallions.

Servings: 4 Serving Size: 1 1/4 cups beef mixture and 3 lettuce leaves;  less than 250 calories per serving
Tip:  Prep all veggies before beginning cooking process....makes it so much easier.