Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Turkey Enchilada Casserole

Seems like casseroles are a typical family dinner- mix a few ingredients together, layer them in a big pan and stick it in the oven, they're simple and easily feed a crowd!

Us Foster kids grew up on enchilada casserole, tuna pasta casserole, lasagna casseroles, and other different assortments of the popular dish.  Now that I'm a little more nutritionally informed, I'm well aware that these casseroles are not easy on hips or thighs.  Sour cream, full-fat cheese, fattening ground-beef are only a few of the ingredients that concoct these calorie monsters.

But not all casseroles are created equal; even though they may taste like it!  This recipe calls for ground turkey which is leaner and healthier than its red-meat cousin, ground-beef.  I PROMISE that not you, or anyone else will be able to tell the difference. In addition, this healthier version has reduced-fat cheeses and corn tortillas, but is loaded with flavors and spices to vamp up the taste factor.  My family and I thought this was SO yummy, I've already made it twice within the past month!

Turkey Enchilada Casserole
Yield: Makes 8-10 servings

1 1/2 pounds ground turkey breast
1/2  cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon  minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano leaves or 1 tablespoon dried
1/2  teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salad oil or olive oil
1 can (29 oz.) red enchilada sauce
12 corn tortillas (6 in. wide)
2 cups shredded reduced-fat jack cheese (8 oz.)
Chopped fresh cilantro

1. In a 5- to 6-quart pan over high heat, stir turkey, onion, garlic, oregano, and cumin in oil until turkey is crumbly and no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Stir in 1 cup enchilada sauce. Add salt to taste.
2. Meanwhile, cut tortillas in half. Arrange a fourth of the halves evenly over the bottom of a shallow 3-quart casserole, overlapping to fit. Sprinkle a fourth of the cheese evenly over the tortillas, then top with a third of the turkey mixture and a fourth of the remaining enchilada sauce, spreading each level. Repeat to make two more layers of tortillas, cheese, turkey mixture, and sauce; top with another layer of tortillas and sauce, then cheese.
3. Bake in a 425° regular or convection oven until cheese is melted and casserole is hot in the center, 18 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro.  If desired, serve with sour cream.

Nutritional Information
249 (20% from fat)
5.7g (sat 3.1)
58mg Ground Turkey on Foodista

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Peanut Butter Truffle Brownies

Sun & Moon.
Boy & Girl.
Shoes & Socks.
Cookies & Milk.
Beach & Ocean.

Inseparable pairs are like a warm, comfy bed- always there fore you, will never let you down, and extremely reliable.  But none of these compares to the greatest combination known to mankind and especially to my stomach...

..................... DRUM ROLL..................................

Chocolate & peanut butter! Duh. 

 I came to this conclusion with my roommate at BYU a few months ago when we had just had a piece of Reese's Cup Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake at a ward social party.  It was probably the most divine creation in the world (especially since Reese's are my FAVORITE).  We were both obsessed and knew then that we were head-over-heels in love with chocolate and peanut butter.

 It wouldn't even matter if it was chocolate bacon and peanut butter scrambled eggs; any way they are combined, these two are no-fail guarantees of stomach-stuffing and second helpings. 

Therefore, these truffle brownies probably could not be any more delicious.  I'm telling you, if you like choco-nutty combinations, then that's that- these are for you.  They look really cute too, with the shiny chocolate and creamy peanut butter layers, atop a gorgeous, deep chocolate brownie- like a little chocolate-coated truffle chocolate candy.  Mmmm candy. And chocolate.  Peanut Butter. Stop treating me so well!

Peanut Butter Truffle Brownies 
from Betty Crocker

Brownie Base:
1 box Betty Crocker Original Supreme brownie mix
water; vegetable oil and eggs called for on brownie mix box

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons milk

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter

Heat oven to 350.  Grease bottom only of 13x9 inch pan w/ cooking spray or shortening.  

In medium bowl, stir brownie mix, pouch of chocolate syrup, water, oil & eggs until well blended.  Spread in pan.  Bake 28 to 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out almost clean.  Cool completely, about 1 hour.

In medium bowl, beat filling ingredients with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.  Spread mixture over brownie base.  

In small microwavable bowl, microwave topping ingredients, uncovered on High 30 to 60 seconds; stir until smooth.  Cool 10 minutes; spread over filling.  Refrigerate about 30 minutes or until set.  Cut into 9 rows by 4 rows.  Store covered in refrigerator. 

Nutrition per brownie:  200 calories, 10g fat, 20mg cholesterol, 105mg sodium, 25g carbs, 2g protein

Recipe and brownie photo courtesy of Betty Crocker.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Chinese Chicken Salad

For being 195 calories, this was pretty darn good, if I must confess.  The broccoli slaw mix is a fast and easy and healthy way to jump start this recipe- it can be found next to the bagged lettuce in most stores. You really have to let it refrigerate for 2 hours though- this softens the slaw and combines all the flavors in a lovely, Asian-y way! Another shortcut- buy pre-cooked chicken strips and chop 'em up! Delish.

Chinese Chicken Salad

One 16-oz. package dry broccoli slaw mix
12 oz. cooked skinless lean chicken breast, chopped
1 cup canned water chestnuts, drained and sliced into thin strips
1 cup canned mandarin orange segments packed in water or juice, drained and chopped (and rinsed, if packed in juice)
1 cup chopped scallions
3/4 cup Newman's Own Lighten Up! Low Fat Sesame Ginger Dressing

In a large bowl, toss all ingredients together until well mixed.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  Stir well before serving.  Enjoy!

Makes 5 (1 1/2 cup) servings

Nutrition per serving: 195 calories, 2.75g fat, 595mg sodium, 21g carbs, 4.5g fiber, 12.5g sugars, 22.5g protein

Sunday, June 27, 2010

We All Scream for Oatmeal!

Gotta be honest... I think I could eat breakfast foods every meal for the rest of my life.. Cereal, yogurt, bagels, eggs, french toast, fruit, pancakes, bacon, maple syrup, even poptarts- how can you go wrong?!  

Oh yeah and oatmeal- one of the healthiest breakfasts... seems to be overshadowed by some of its more sugary and fattening competitors, yeah? 

Well, these recipes are no-fail, very healthy and DELICIOUS versions of your plain jane oats.

These recipes are courtesy of Hungry Girl's guilt-free "200 under 200" recipe book.
And she is a genius.  Every one of these is AMAZING. 

Berries & Cream Oatmeal Pudding

1/3 c. regular oats (not instant)
1/2 c. frozen mixed berries
1/4 c. light vanilla soymilk (or fat-free milk)
1 Tbsp. sugar-free fat-free vanilla instant pudding mix
1 tsp. Coffee-mate Sugar Free French Vanilla powdered creamer
1 no-calorie sweetener packet
Dash salt

In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine powdered creamer with 1/4 c. warm water.  Stir until dissolved.  

Add soymilk and pudding mix, and stir until mixture is thoroughly blended.  Add all of the other ingredients to the bowl and stir.  

Microwave for 3 minutes.  Allow to cool and thicken.  Dig in!

Makes 1 serving.

Nutrition:  190 calories, 2.5g fat, 501mg sodium, 35.5g carbs, 5g fiber, 7g sugars, 5.5g protein

Choco-Banana Oatmeal

1/3 c. regular oats (not instant)
One 25-calorie packet diet hot cocoa mix (Swiss Miss)
One-half medium banana, mashed
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1 no-calorie sweetener packet
Dash salt

Pour cocoa mix into a glass with cinnamon, sweetener, and salt.  Add 1/4 c. hot water and stir thoroughly.  Once cocoa mix has dissolved, add 1/4 c. cold water and stir.  

In a large microwave-safe cereal bowl, combine cocoa mixture with mashed banana and oats until mixed well.  Microwave for 2 minutes.

Give it a stir, and then allow oatmeal to cool and thicken.  Enjoy!

Makes 1 serving.

Nutrition: 185 calories, 2g fat, 137mg sodium, 37 carbs, 5g fiber, 11g sugar, 6.5g protein

Fro-yo'ed Up Oatmeal Sundae

1/4 c. quick-cooking oatmeal
1/4 c. low-fat vanilla frozen yogurt
1/4 c. fresh blueberries
1/4 c. sliced fresh strawberries
1 Tbsp. strawberry (or any fruit flavor) sugar-free or low-sugar preserves
1/2 Tbsp. All Natural Almond Accents in Original Oven Roasted or Honey Roasted
1 no-calorie sweetener packet
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
Dash salt

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine oatmeal with 1/2 c. water.  Microwave for 1 to 2 minutes, until desired consistency is reached.

Once bowl of oatmeal is cool enough to handle, mix in preserves, sweetener, cinnamon, and salt.  Top with fruit.

Place frozen yogurt on top of fruit layer, and then sprinkle with almonds.  Serve immediately- the frozen yogurt will melt, but it's delicious as it melts into the oatmeal!

Makes 1 serving.

Nutrition: 198 calories, 4.25g fat, 219mg sodium, 38g carbs, 4g fiber, 11.5g sugar, 5.5g protein

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Butter vs. Margarine

Lots of people are concerned about the butter vs. margarine debate.  Which is truly the better condiment?  Being health conscious, I try to eliminate all of it as much as I can, but it will never be completely possible, as butter is necessary in baked goods and other foods.  When baking, I refrain from lite butters unless a recipe calls for it.


1.  Both butter & margarine have the same amount of calories.  Butter is slightly higher in saturated fats at 8 grams compared to 5 grams.  However butter has nutritional value and enhances the flavors of the food its added to.  Margarine has little nutritional value since it is composed of mostly chemicals... it is only ONE molecule away from being PLASTIC! 

2. Tub margarine contains fully hydrogenated vegetable oil- which in theory should contain zero amounts of trans fats, but because the process of hydrogenation isn't completely perfect, some trans fats inevitably occur in small amounts. And stick margarine contains partially hydrogenated oils- a guarantee for trans fatty acids.

2.  Whipped butters are lighter in calories because the butter is whipped, introducing air.  These are your best bets for using butter as a condiment.

3. If you're looking for a healthy substitute for butter in cooking, try canola or olive oils. 


-I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!

When it comes to trans fats, you just can't trust the nutrition label.  Look at the ingredient list; if you see partially hydrogenated oil; leave it in the cooler.

Some healthier butter choices:

-Breakstone's Unsalted Whipped Butter

 70 calories, 7g fat per 1 Tbsp.

-SmartBalance Omega Buttery Spread Made with Extra Virgin Olive Oil

60 calories, 7g fat per 1 Tbsp. serving
Smart Balance adds in flaxseed oils, earning you 20% of your daily intake of omega-3 oils.

-Spectrum Naturals Organic Olive Spray Oil 

0 calories, 0g fat, 0mg sodium
There's no extra ingredients or chemicals here- just extra virgin olive oil, a very heart-healthy fat (over vegetable oils).

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Garlicky Pasta with Tomatoes & Basil

My grandpa was an Italian cook.  I'm not sure how much of his cooking skills I inherited, but one thing I have heard is that he was a big fan of garlic.  According to him, you can never have too much of it.  This recipe calls for 3 cloves per recipe, and since I doubled it, that would mean 6.  But, I listened to my inner-Italian and decided to add a few more cloves- just for good measure!  The result was not disappointing; my whole family loved this.  My mom said that it was good enough to be served at a restaurant.  It is a light and healthy dish that calls for a lot of tomatoes but it has an intense, explosive flavor! Yum yum yum!!

Garlicky Pasta with Tomatoes and Basil
Yield: 6 (1 1/3 c.) servings 

3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced (can add a couple more if you like a good garlic flavor)
5 cups chopped plum (Roma) tomatoes (about 2 pounds)
6 cups hot cooked bowtie pasta (about 12 ounces uncooked pasta)
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil or 2 Tbsp. dried basil
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper 

Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Add chopped tomatoes; cook for 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring occasionally. Add pasta, basil, cheese, salt, and pepper, tossing gently to combine.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Chipotle Chicken Taco Salad

The CREEPIEST thing happened when I was making this salad. The salad, oh it was divine, it is a recipe from the magazine Cooking Light on but let's just say that I have lost all faith in bagged grocery products.  As I was measuring out the 8 cups of romaine lettuce (I doubled the recipe),  I noticed a little critter in my bowl of greens.  A live WASP!  Needless to say I freaked out a little bit, but my mom came to the rescue and squished the little demon right there in the bowl.  The bowl that would contain our dinner.

Not even a WEEK ago, we were doing the same exact thing- measuring out cups of lettuce from a bag- and found a live MOTH that had been hibernating in there.  are you serious, people?!  These bags were two different brands, mind you, because after last week's episode we didn't trust the "Marketside" by Walmart brand.  Well I guess we can't trust any brands anymore.

We definitely threw the bug-infested lettuce away and luckily happened to have a fresh head of lettuce in the fridge, which is what we chopped up to use for this salad.

No more bagged lettuce for me, thank you very much.

Chipotle Chicken Taco Salad

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 2 1/2 cups)
1/3  cup  chopped fresh cilantro
2/3  cup  light sour cream
1  tablespoon  minced chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce
1  teaspoon  ground cumin
1  teaspoon  chili powder
4  teaspoons  fresh lime juice
1/4  teaspoon  salt

4  cups  shredded romaine lettuce
2  cups  chopped roasted skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 2 breasts)
1  cup  cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2  cup  diced peeled avocado
1/3  cup  thinly vertically sliced red onion
1  (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1  (8 3/4-ounce) can no-salt-added whole-kernel corn, rinsed and drained

To prepare dressing, combine first 7 ingredients, stirring well. To prepare salad, combine lettuce and remaining ingredients in a large bowl.  Drizzle dressing over salad; toss gently to coat.  Serve immediately.
Tip: Add a spoonful of adobo sauce for a spicier salad.  Kidney or pinto beans also taste great in this dish.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Oatmeal Carmelitas

Oh hey.  Carmelita... hmm am I in Mexico? Sure not,  but these bars deserve some serious attention because they are dang good..  For father's day yesterday, my dad wanted me to make a dessert with chocolate and nuts.  Well this has the works- chocolate, nuts, oats, and lots and lots of CARAMEL.  

 I found this recipe at Let's Dish and knew I had to try it. This is definitely a guilty-pleasure recipe, let me tell you.  There is more butter in this than a doubled cookie recipe!  GUILTY but SO worth it!  Well these hit the spot, and my dad sure thought so too.  So here's to fathers, and a little carmel-ita lovin!

Oatmeal Carmelitas

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, very soft
2 cups flour
2 cups quick cooking oats
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts or pecans
1/4 cup flour
1(14 ounce) bag Kraft carmels
1/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl, combine butter, 2 cups flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda and salt until crumbly.  Press 1/2 of the crumb mixture into a lightly greased, 9x13 inch baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes; remove from oven.  Meanwhile, in another bowl, stir together chocolate chips, nuts and 1/4 cup flour; set aside.  In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the caramels and milk, stirring frequently until the caramel is melted and the mixture is smooth.  Sprinkle the chocolate chip and nut mixture over the warm crust.  Pour melted carmel over chocolate chip/nut mixture. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture over the carmel.  Return to oven and bake an additional 15 minutes.  Store completely cooled bars in the refrigerator.

*cheat sheet: you can melt the caramels in the microwave to save time!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

English Muffin Pizza

Do you ever feel so busy and stressed for time that eating just seems at the back of your mind? But you know you need and want to eat something, and whatever it is, it's got to be halfway decent? Yes, I do too. I was craving pizza the other day.  But, #1: I had no time or desire to make it, and #2: I wasn't about to go buy one.

Well we had some english muffins in the freezer, so with a little defrosting, I concocted a little pizza experiment in my kitchen- one that I was pleasantly surprised with!

SUPER easy, and SUPER fast. And definitely kicks any pizza craving to the curb!

English Muffin Pizza

1 whole English Muffin, split in halves
1/4 c. part-skim, shredded mozzarella cheese
6 turkey pepperonis 
dash of oregano

Toast the English Muffin in the toaster until slightly crispy.  Sprinkle half of the cheese on each muffin half.  Top with three pepperonis on each half, followed by the rest of the cheese.  Microwave muffins for about 20 seconds, or until the cheese is melted.  Sprinkle oregano on top!

*You can also add Tomato sauce with Italian seasonings as the first ingredient underneath the cheese if desired, however this would take more time as you would probably want to broil the pizza instead of microwaving it.

Monday, June 14, 2010

"Healthified" Tres Leches Cake

I'm no good at Spanish, therefore you should not ask me to attempt to pronounce the name of this cake.  But it doesn't matter, because this cake was delicious and I could eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Seriously. Betty Crocker rocks.

Traditional "Tres Leches" cake is soaked in three milks to produce a moist, rich, and VERY sweet cake laden with fat and sugar.  This cake is also made with three milks, only healthier milks.

I suggest you make this for a family gathering or potluck or something of the sort; you don't want this to sit in your fridge for too long, or else you might just end up eating it all yourself!

Healthified Tres Leches Cake
from Betty Crocker

1 box yellow cake mix
1 1/4 cups water
1 tablespoon canola or coconut oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 large eggs
3 egg whites
1 can (14 oz) fat-free sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
1 can (12 oz) evaporated fat free milk
1/2 cup fat-free (skim) milk or fat-free half-and-half
1 (8 oz) container frozen reduced-fat or fat-free whipped topping (like Cool Whip)
sliced fresh strawberries for topping, optional

Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Spray bottom only of 13x9-inch pan with cooking spray.

In large bowl, beat cake mix, water, oil, vanilla, whole eggs and egg whites with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, then on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour into pan.

Bake 29 to 35 minutes or until edges are golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes. Poke top of hot cake all over with fork or wooden skewer, wiping fork occasionally to reduce sticking.

In medium bowl, stir condensed milk, evaporated milk and skim milk until blended. Slowly pour evenly over top of cake. Cover; refrigerate about 1 hour or until mixture is absorbed into cake.

Spread whipped topping over cake. Refrigerate until serving time. Garnish with strawberries. Store in refrigerator.

1 Serving: Calories 280 (Calories from Fat 50); Total Fat 6g (Saturated Fat 3g, Trans Fat 1g); Cholesterol30mg; Sodium 300mg; Total Carbohydrate 49g (Dietary Fiber 0g, Sugars 35g); Protein 6g Percent Daily Value*: Vitamin A 2%; Vitamin C 0%; Calcium 20%; Iron 4% Exchanges: 1 Starch; 2 Other Carbohydrate;

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Eat This, Not That!

So about a year ago, I picked up a handy little book called "Eat This, Not That" by David Zinczenko at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  I know, random place to buy a book on nutrition, yes?

Well.  Let me just say that I have greatly underestimated its nutritional guru-potential until recently.  It is pretty cool and extremely handy.

SO, I have decided that I will start by regularly sharing some of the tips that Mr. Zinczenko has given, because they are very helpful.  Hopefully these tips will inspire you, as well as inspire ME!! to adopt long-lasting healthy eating habits.  In this particular book, he talks about the supermarket do's and don'ts (I have another one that talks about restaurant foods- it will get blog attention too) and cuts straight to the chase about what you should and shouldn't buy.

To start, I'll list some tips that the book starts with:
 Secrets the Food Industry Doesn't Want You to Know.

1.  Numbers can be deceiving.
On the front of a box of  Reduced Fat Club Crackers-in large yellow letters- you'll find the claim, "33% Less Fat Than Original Club Crackers."  Their math is accurate- the original product contains 3 grams of fat per serving (4 crackers) while the reduced-fat version has 2 grams.  So, yeah its a 33% difference, but is it meaningful?  And, apparently the reduced-fat version has 33 percent MORE carbs than the original- perhaps because when they took out 1 gram of fat, they replaced it with 3 grams of refined flour & sugar.

2.  Food can legally contain maggots.
Unfortunately, the FDA limit on rodent droppings and other appetite killers in your food isn't zero.  They won't hurt you, but still.... that's gross.

3.  Long lines will make you buy more.
According to a study at UofA, you're 25% more likely to buy the sodas and candy around you when stuck in a long checkout line.  Also, those sneaky supermarkets design their stores so that the staple foods (milk, bread, eggs) are usually at the back of the store...

4.  Calorie Counts May be Wrong
This is because the FDA is more likely to punish food manufacturers for overstating net weight of a product than understating it.  So, often, your favorite snack, like an Oreo, will have a few more calories than you think you're eating.

Now isn't the government just great?!  I find that the biggest thing for me when I go to the store is that I end up buying a WHOLE lot more if I'm hungry.  Don't do it.  You'll end up buying cheap, fatty snacks that you otherwise would have skipped over.

Check out David Zinczenko's book and his other articles on his website, as well as stay tuned for additional advice...

and stay healthy this summer! :)

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