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.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Baked Caprese Stuffed Zucchini

My dad recently visited me in NYC, and we had an absolute blast eating our way through the city. One of my favorite dishes was the Caprese Salad from an Upper East Side Italian restaurant. It was the best Caprese Salad I have ever had and inspired me to come up with a unique twist on this simply delcicious first course. I use zucchini "boats" as the bed for a simple tomato-basil salad and then throw them in the oven to develop the fresh flavors even further. The whole dish is then topped with melty mozzarella. Sound good? I promise you will not be disappointed.  

2 large Zucchini
1 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt, divided
1 1/2 pints Grape Tomatoes, each tomato quartered
1 cup packed Basil Leaves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon (4 tablespoons) grated Parmesan Cheese
2 ounces Mozzarella Cheese, grated


Preaheat oven to 400 degrees.
Fill a large pot with water and bring to a rolling boil. Add the whole zucchinis to boiling water and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain immediately and cut each zucchini lengthwise. Using a spoon, carefully scoop out the inside of each zucchini to form a boat shape. Be sure not to scoop to far and pierce the skin. Sprinkle each zucchini boat with 1/8 teaspoon of salt and transfer to a baking sheet.

In a mixing bowl combine the quartered grape tomatoes, remaining teaspoon of salt, basil, balsamic vinegar, and grated Parmesan. Mix until well combined. Fill each zucchini boat with a quarter of the tomato-basil mixture. place the boats close together. I ball up 2 pieces of aluminum foil and place on either side to be sure the boats don't fall over when baking. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and top each boat with 1/2 ounce of Mozzarella. Continue baking for 10 to 15 more minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.

Servings: 4 Serving Size: 1 stuffed and cheese topped zucchini boat; 120 calories per serving

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Creamy White Bean and Roasted Red Pepper Dip

This wildly flavorful dip is a favorite of mine. I love it as a dip served with chips and crudite, but it is also delicious as a spread on sandwiches or wraps. The cannellini bean base makes it rich in protein and fiber, so it's as healthy as it is delicious.

1 Red Bell Pepper
1 can Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed
1 small clove Garlic, roughly chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
2 pinches Cayenne Pepper

To roast the red bell pepper, place pepper on a sheet pan under the broiler. Keep rotating the pepper until all skin is black and charred. The cooking time changes depending on the oven. When the outisde is blackened and blistering, remove from broiler and place in an air-tight container or paper bag and allow to cool (this makes the skin easier to remove, but when I'm low on patience I use tongs to remove the skin right after it comes out of the broiler).
While the red pepper roasts, add all other ingrdients to the bowl of a food processor (or to a mixing bowl if using an immersion blender). When red pepper is cool, remove skin, seeds, and stem and cut into strips. Add red pepper strips to the other ingredients. Blend until smooth. Refriderate for at least 1 hour prior to serving so that flavors can merry.

Servings: 5 Serving Size: approximately 1/4 cup; 100 calories per serving

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Falafel Burgers with Tomato-Cucumber Vinaigrette Slaw

Falafel is one of my all time favorite foods, but, because it's deep-fried, it's not the most healthy dish in the world. However, eating falafel doesn't have to mean cheating on your healthy lifestyle. My nutritious and lightened-up Falafel Burgers are incredibly flavorful and tasty, especially when paired with my Tomato-Cucumber Vinaigrette Slaw. They are equally delicious served in a more traditional fashion, stuffed in pita bread and topped with tzatziki sauce. The choice is yours!

1 cup Yellow Onion, peeled and roughy chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced
2 cans Chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons Cumin
1/2 cup chopped fresh Parsley
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons Olive Oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt (plus more to taste)
Freshly cracked Black Pepper, to taste
4 cups Tomato-Cucumber Vinaigrette Slaw (click for recipe)
1/2 cup Reduced-Fat Feta Cheese

Preheat 1 teaspoon of Olive Oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onion to skillet and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add minced garlic to pan and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes, remove from heat. Combine chickpeas, onion and garlic mixture, cumin, salt, and pepper to a bowl. Using an immersion blender, blend mixture until smooth. You can also use a food processor for this step. Add egg and chopped parsley to chickpea mixture and combine using a fork. Cover mixture and refridgerate for 20 minutes. Form mixture into 8 patties.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Preheat 2 teaspoons Olive Oil in a large skillet over medium heat (or 1 teaspoon if cooking patties in two batches). Add patties to skillet and cook 5 minutes per side. Transfer patties to a cookie sheet lined with parchment or coated in non-stick cooking spray. Bake patties for 10 minutes, flipping once. Serve hot Falafel Burgers with slaw and/or any other desired condiments.

Servings: 4 Serving Size: 2 Falafel Burger patties, 1 cup of slaw, and 1 1/2 tablespoons Feta; 325 calories per serving (just the Falafel is 290 calories per serving)

Tomato-Cucumber Vinaigrette Slaw

This is the perfect slaw recipe because it's simple, delicious, versatile, and full of vitamins, fiber, and calcium. Serve it as a simple side, on top of burgers and sandwiches, or mix in protein like beans or chicken for a quick lunch.

1 10-ounce package Shredded Cabbage
1 cup diced English Cucumber
1 cup halved Grape Tomatoes
1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Honey
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
Black Pepper, to taste

Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl and toss until well combined. Cover and refridgerate for at least 20 minutes before serving, but even better the day after.

Servings: 4 Serving Size: approximately 1 cup; 80 calories per serving

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Rosemary-Balsamic Mushroom and Swiss Turkey Burgers

A friend asked me if I had a secret to keeping turkey burgers moist. Making burgers with turkey breast is a healthy alternative to more fattening cuts of meat, but it's easy for the burgers to turn out dry and flavorless. My Rosemary-Balsamic Mushroom and Swiss Turkey Burgers are succulent and juicy because I add grated onion and sauteed red bell pepper to the burger mixture, and the mushroom topping adds an extra boost of flavor. These burgers look like an indulgent treat, but in reality they are lean and nutritious, so you can eat-up without the guilt.

1/2 teaspoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
1 to 1 1/4 pounds Ground Turkey Breast
1/2 cup Red Bell Pepper, finely diced (approx. half of a small pepper)
1 clove Garlic, peeled and finely minced
1 tablespoon grated Yellow Onion
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese
10 ounces Baby Bella Mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup low-sodium Chicken Broth
1 1/2 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried Rosemary
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt, divided
4 slices Swiss Cheese (I prefer reduced-fat)
2 whole wheat English Muffins, split and toasted (or any other type of bun)

Preheat a small skillet and 1/2 teaspoon olive oil over medium heat. Add diced red pepper. After 2 minutes, add garlic. Continue to cook for 2 minutes, stirring often, then remove from heat.

Preheat a large skillet and 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium-high heat. In a mixing bowl, add turkey, 1/2 teaspoon salt, parmesan cheese, red pepper/garlic mixture, and grated onion (making sure that the juice from the grated onion is added as well). Mix well to combine. Form the turkey mixture into 4 evenly sized patties. Place patties in skillet and cook for 4 minutes. Flip patties and continue cooking for 5 additional minutes. During the last 2 minutes, add cheese and cover skillet with lid.

While burgers cook, preheat a small skillet over medium heat. Add sliced mushrooms, chicken stock, and rosemary. When the liquid is reduced by half (after about 6 minutes) add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and balsamic vinegar. Cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes until mushroom mixture is slightly saucy, but not too runny.

Top each english muffin half with 1 patty and 1/4 of the mushroom mixture. Enjoy!

Servings: 4; 330 calories per serving 
Serving Size: 1 burger, 1/4 of the mushrooms, 1 slice reduced-fat cheese, 1/2 english muffin 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Vegetable-Chickpea Curry Stew

I absolutely love curry. There is just something so comforting about the deep and warm flavors. My Vegetable-Chickpea Curry Stew is super simple and delicious. I serve this rich stew with fiber-packed whole wheat couscous and top it all off with chewy, sweet dried apricots, a sprinkling of crunchy almonds, and a squeeze of lime. All of the flavors and textures come together perfectly to create one of my all time favorite Indian-inspired dishes.

1/2 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 medium Yellow Squash, cut into 1/2" to 1" pieces, about 1 to 1 1/4 cups chopped
1 medium Yellow Onion, outer layer removed
2 medium Carrots, peeled
2 1/4 teaspoons Kosher Salt, divided
3 cloves Garlic, peeled and finely minced (approx. 1 tablespoon)
3" piece of Ginger, peeled with a veggie peeler and finely minced
2 14-ounce cans of Chickpeas (aka Garbonzo Beans)
1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Curry Powder
2 cups low-sodium Broth or Stock (either Chicken or Vegetable)
2 tablespoons Sliced Almonds
12 Dried Apricots, chopped into small pieces
1 Lime, quartered
2/3 cup dry Whole Wheat Couscous

Prep yellow squash, onion, and carrots. Chop the onion and yellow squash into 1/2 to 1" pieces (comes to 1 to 1 1/4 cups of each). Using a vegetable peeler, make long ribbons of carrot as if peeling until only the top of the carrot is left (comes to about 1 cup of tightly packed ribbons). The bright orange ribbons will look pretty running through the stew, but you can also finely dice. Heat olive oil in a large skiller over medium heat. Add squash, onion, carrot and 1 teaspoon of salt. After 4 minutes (stirring occasionally) add garlic and ginger. After 5 minutes (stirring occasionally), add chickpeas, cumin, curry powder, stock, and an additional teaspoon of salt. Bring mixture to boil uncovered and continue boiling until reduced to 1/3 of the liquid is left, approximately 10 minutes after boiling starts.

While stew is cooking, prepare 2/3 cup coucous according to package, using the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and no butter (makes approximately 2 cups).

Serve stew in a bowl, topped with couscous, dried apricots, almonds, and lime wedges for squeezing on top.

Servings: 4; Calories per Serving: 460
Serving Size: 1 1/4 cups of stew, 1/2 cup couscous, 3 dried apricots (chopped), 1/2 tablespoon of sliced almonds, and 1/4 of the lime (juiced)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Fennel and Parmesan Meatballs

Whether on pasta or on a toasty sub, the combination of meatballs and tomato sauce is one of my absolute favorites. My Fennel and Parmesan Meatball recipe can only be described as a knockout.  The fennel seed adds a touch of sweetness that compliments the salty bite of the Parmesan perfectly. I brown the meatballs on the stove top first then they finish cooking in the sauce, making them moist and adding even more flavorful. For best results, be sure to use my  Tomato Basil Sauce with Leeks and Mushrooms.

1 1/2 pounds 96% lean Ground Beef
1 1/2 teasoons Kosher Salt
2 tablespoons Fennel Seed
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
1 egg plus 1 egg white
6 Whole Wheat Melba Toast Crackers, crushed
1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
2 teaspoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 cups Tomato Basil Sauce with Leeks and Mushrooms (or any good quality tomato basil sauce)

Preheat a large skillet and the olive oil over medium heat. In a medium size mixing bowl combine the ground beef, salt, fennel, Parmesan, egg, crushed crackers, and oregano. Mix with hands until well combined (be sure not to over mix to avoid drying out the meat). Score the meat mixture into 4 equal sections then divide each of the 4 sections into 3 meatballs (12 meatballs total). Place meatballs into heated oil and brown the meatballs by gently turning them every few minutes, about 12 minutes total. Add tomato basil sauce to the meatballs, turn heat to high, and cover. As soon as the sauce begins to boil reduce to low heat and simmer for 20 more minutes or until meatballs are cooked through. Serve with pasta, on a whole wheat roll, or simply solo.

Note: if you are making a homemade sauce with the meatballs, remove meatballs from pan after browning, make sauce with pan drippings, and add meatballs back in once sauce is ready to simmer to finish cooking.

Servings: 4
Serving Size: 3 meatballs plus 1 cup of sauce; 400 calories per serving (around 94 calories per meatball)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hearty Turkey and Lentil Soup

I first made this soup on a cold, snowy night for a girls-night-in dinner party. My girlfriends loved it and couldn't believe how healthy, filling, and delicious it was. It has quickly become my favorite soup to make because it's incredibly tasty, full of veggies, low in fat, and high in both protein and fiber. Try it just once and you'll be hooked.

1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 pound Ground Turkey Breast
1 medium Yellow Onion, peeled and chopped
1/4 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flake (optional, but highly recommended)
3 cloves Garlic, peeled and finly diced
8 cups low-sodium Chicken Stock
1 medium Zucchini, cut into big-bite size chunks
1 medium Red Bell Pepper, stem, seeds, ribs removed, cut into bite size chunks
1 cup dried Lentils
1 cup frozen Corn Kernals (fresh works too)
1 cup frozen Greenbeans (fresh works too)
1 14oz can Diced Tomatoes (choose a "no-salt added" variety)
1/2 cup packed Fresh Basil, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt, divided

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and ground turkey breast, breaking up the meat and stirring occasionally as it cooks. After 5 minutes, add the garlic, red pepper flake, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Continue cooking until the turkey is cooked through. Add the chicken stock, zucchini, red bell pepper, and lentils to the pot. Cover with lid and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add frozen corn, frozen green beans, tomatoes, basil, and remaining tablespoon of salt. Continue simmering, covered, for at least 15 minutes or until lentils are fully cooked. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Once lentils are cooked the soup is ready to enjoy.

Serving Size: 2 cups, 290 calories per serving
Tips and Hints: top soup with whole wheat Melba Toasts, parmesan cheese, and a sprinkling of basil or serve with whole wheat baguette on the side

Monday, January 23, 2012

Crispy Cauliflower Cakes with Thyme

Crispy Cauliflower Cakes are surprisingly simple, yet super impressive, adding a touch of gourmet to any meal. Top these flavorful (basically fat-free!) cakes with lemony shrimp or a sunny-side-up egg and a sprinkle of fresh Parmesan. My friends went crazy for these when I served them along side my Turkey and Lentil Soup. You may want to double the recipe because they'll go fast...I guarantee it.

1 head of Cauliflower
2 cups Chicken Stock
1 tablespoon fresh Thyme Leaves, removed from sprig
1 Egg
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
Fat-Free Greek Yogurt

Remove the leaves and center stem of the head of cauliflower, then cut cauliflower  into small florettes (bite-size, but not so small that they'll fall through the holes of the collander). Place florettes into a medium-size sauce pan. Add chicken stock to cauliflower, cover with lid, and turn heat to high. When the stock begins to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain Cauliflower in a colander until completely dry and return to pan (reserve a couple tablespoons of the stock before draining). Add chopped thyme, salt, ground pepper to taste, and 1 tablespoon of reserved chicken stock. Using an immersion blender, blend cauliflower mixture until smooth. You can also use a food processor, blender, or a Magic Bullet to blend the mixure (be sure to not over blend, you want the mixture to have some body). Add the egg to the mixture and mix in with a fork.
Preheat a large skillet to medium heat (preferably a non-stick skillet). When heated, spray pan with cooking spray. Spoon the mixture into the pan to make six evenly sized cakes (about 2/3 cup per cake). Cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Gently flip the cakes and cook for an additional 4 to 5 minutes. You may want to cook the cakes in two batches. Garnish cakes with a dollop of greek yogurt and a sprinkling of fresh thyme.

Servings: 6
Serving Size: 1 cake, about 40 calories per cake
Tips and Hints:
To remove fresh thyme leaves from sprig, grasp the top of the sprig with one hand, then use other hand to gently pull down the length of the sprig in the opposite direction of the leaves' growth.
These cakes are very delicate so be gentle when handling.
If you don't have a non-stick skillet, use a half tablespoon of olive oil brushed on the surface of the skillet before cooking cakes (adds about 15 calories and a little "good" fat to each cake).

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tomato Basil Sauce with Leeks and Mushrooms

Everyone must have a delicious and healthy homemade tomato sauce recipe in their repertoire. For me, this is the perfect one. It's unbelievably flavorful, low in fat and calories, simple, and versatile. The leek and mushroom combination is an incredible addition to the traditional flavors giving this sauce a subtly unique flavor. You can use this sauce on anything from pasta and spaghetti squash to chicken parmesan and lasagna so it's a good idea to always have a batch stashed in your fridge or freezer.

1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 medium Leeks
5 ounces sliced Baby Bella Mushrooms
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/4 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flake (optional)
2 14-ounce cans Diced Tomatoes (no salt added variety)
1 tablespoon Fresh Thyme Leaves (approx. 2 sprigs)
1 cup packed Basil Leaves
1/4 teaspoon Dried Oregano
2 teaspoons Sugar (preferably sugar in the raw)
Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet, preferably non-stick. Peal away the top layer of leaves and trim the very top of each leeks to remove the tough ends. Slice leeks lengthwise in 1/4 to 1/2 inch disks (should yeild about 1 1/2 cups sliced). Add leeks to the heated oil and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 4 minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes. Add salt, red pepper flake, and garlic to pan. Cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute. Add all remaining ingredients to the leeks and mushrooms. Simmer sauce over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, uncovered. Cover skillet with lid and continue simmering for about 20 minutes.

Servings: 4 Serving Size: 1 cup, 120 calories per serving 
**Use this sauce in any recipe that calls for marinara or tomato sauce
**For a simple and healthy pasta dish, combine 1 1/2 cup cooked 100% Whole Wheat Pasta, 1 cubed and roasted eggplant, and 2 cups of sauce. Serves 2; 325 calories per serving
**The picture shown also features my Fennel and Parmesan Meatballs!