Thursday, May 31, 2007

Chef's Tip: Heat it up!

Adding some heat to your food can make it more interesting, challenging, allow you to cut back on the salt, and can even boost your metabolism. I find adding some heat to my food (I like it hot) also helps me feel full and saited faster.

Here are ate ways to heat up you meals:
1. Louisiana Hot Sauce
2. Red Pepper Flakes - when heating oil for a saute, add some flakes to season
the oil
3. Cayenne Pepper - use it like black pepper
4. Tabasco Sauce (red, green, garlic)
5. Jalapenos - fresh or pickled
6. Black, white or pink Pepper - try all the varieties
7. Wasabi - not just for sushi; add it to mashed potatoes for a zing
8. Chinese Mustard - mix some dry mustard with warm water to create a paste;
add to a stirfry at the last minute for flavor and a kick

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Arroz Chicano (Mexican Style Rice)

Rice is always a good side dish. My version of this Mexican classic is as good as it is easy. This is made with brown rice so you get you fiber in too. If you think you don't like brown rice, try this and you might change your mind. I like this version because it is a little more moist than the traditional rice.

1 tsp oil (grapeseed or olive is best)
2 cloves of garlic. minced
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 cup of brown rice
1 can 10.5 oz can vegetarian vegetable soup
2 cans of water

Heat oil in a 2 quart pot. add the pepper flakes and garlic to the hot oil and heat 30 seconds. Add the brown rice and stir occasionally.
When the rice starts to become fragrant (will smell like popcorn) add the soup and the water. Bring to a boil.
Cover and cook on lowest setting until the water is all absorbed (about 35 minutes). Allow to rest 5 - 10 minutes, covered, before serving.
Fluff with a fork (a spoon will crush the grains).

This can also be cooked in the oven for 45 minutes at 350 degrees after the rice comes to a boil).

4 large servings - 4 points each
5 servings - 3 points each

Friday, May 25, 2007

Salisbury Steaks with Sweet Onion Relish

This is a spicy way to dress up ground beef. This is good enough to serve to company, too. Of course, you can use ground turkey instead of beef. Don't be frightened away by number of ingredients....most of them are just spices you should have on your spice rack already. This is a great recipe to prepare on the grill (or your George Forman) as well.

It also freezes well so if you make extra, pack up individual portions for later.

24 oz ground sirloin
1/2 c oats
1/4 c Dijon Mustard
1/2 c red bell, diced
1/2 c green bell, diced
1/2 t pepper
1/2 t paprika
1/2 t basil
1/2 t thyme
1/2 t pepper flakes
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t garlic powder
cooking spray

Mix all the above ingredients (except the spray) together. Form into 4 patties (or if you want to have a smaller version you can make 6 smaller patties). The mustard adds a lot of salt to the patties, but you want more you can season the patties before cooking.
Set aside and begin the relish.

3 Red onions, chopped or sliced
2 T honey
1/2 c apple juice
1 beef boullion cube (optional)
2 t oil
2 t cider vnegar

Heat a skillet and add the oil. When the oil is hot (shimmering) add the onions. Lower the temperature to medium and saute until the onions are softened (5 - 8 minutes).
Add the boullion cube, cider vinegar, honey and juice to the skillet. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow the liquid to evaporate and onions to cook down. Set aside.

In a skillet or on a hot grill sprayed with the cooking spray, cook the patties to desired doneness.

Serve with the relish.

(The relish can also be done on the grill by wrapping all the ingredients in foil and cooking for 40 minutes. When unwrapped the relish will be ready to go.)

Per Serving: 530 Cal (29% from Fat, 41% from Protein, 30% from Carb); 54 g Protein; 17 g Tot Fat; 4 g Sat Fat; 7 g Mono Fat; 39 g Carb; 5 g Fiber; 18 g Sugar; 93 mg Calcium; 5 mg Iron; 294 mg Sodium; 126 mg Cholesterol

Monday, May 21, 2007

A Lighter Summer Cocktail

Summer is a great time to relax and have a drink or two with friends. With summer approaching quickly and now that I am spending more time outside at cafes or in the yard, I have come up with a simple summer drink that is easy on the calories and points and refreshing too.

White Wine Cocktail

2 oz of a crisp chilled white wine (not Chardonay)
1 wedge of lime or lemon
4 - 6 oz of lime or lemon sparkling water
ice

Squeeze a wedge of lemon or lime into a large wine glass. Fill the glass with ice. Pour in the wine and the sparkling water (water flavor to match the fruit used).
Can garnish with a fresh strawberry if desired.

And this is only 1 point!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Chef's Tip: En Papillote

I always give a healthy cooking tip to my Weight Watchers Members each week. Here is my tip for this week.

Try cooking your food En Papillote. That is a French technique that means to seal the food in parchment paper and bake it in the oven. What happens is the food steams in its own moister (with perhaps a bit of wine or juice added). This gives you a light product that is nutritious and healthy.

If you think about it, you may already use or have used this technique. Maybe you have wrapped something in foil and baked it or grilled it. This is actually the same thing (effect). I use this a lot because it is quick, easy, low calorie (points) and delicious. And you don't have to worry about the parchment paper, just use the foil, it is easier to work with. It is also fun for everyone to get your own individual package of food that you can unwrap at the table! (kids love this)

Try these simple and tasty variations on this theme or come up with your own:

Pesto Salmon: Lay down a few slices of fresh tomato seasoned with salt and pepper on a sheet of foil. Place a 6 oz fillet of salmon on the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Place a tablespoon of pesto on the salmon. Pour 1 teaspoon of wine on the pesto. Wrap the package tightly, folding all the edges together. Bake on a tray at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Allow to rest for 5 minutes and eat.

French Onion (like the soup!): This is so good, you will have to make one for each person!
Take a large onion and peel it, cutting off each of the ends. Core out the center with an apple corer almost, but not quite, to the bottom. Place a beef bullion cube in the bottom of the whole you have created. Place the onion on a piece of foil. Season the onion liberally with salt, pepper and thyme. Place 1/2 to 1 tsp of butter in the core of the onion. Pour 1 tsp of sherry or brandy over the onion. Seal the package and bake at 425 degrees or on a hot grill for 45 - 60 minutes (until completely softened).
When you open the package the onion with be sweet and taste like French onion soup, but it only has a 1 pt value from the butter!

Grill Roasted Potatoes: Scrub the dirt off of 1 lb of russet potatoes. Slice them thin. Slice one small to medium onion very thin and toss with the potatoes. Toss in salt and pepper and any other spices you like (thyme, rosemary, cumin, Cajun, garlic, etc) and place on a large sheet of heavy duty foil. Spray with cooking spray liberally (you can dot with butter if desired). Wrap up the package tightly and grill for 45 minutes on a hot grill (or you can bake in the oven).

All of these ideas can be expanded upon or changed to meet your needs and taste profile. Once you start doing this, it will become a regular part of your cooking routine. All of these things are also great the next day in your lunch so make an extra one to bring with you.

Enjoy!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Mediterranean Grilled Chicken with Grape Glaze

This is on my menu this week. It is a healthy and delicious alternative to BBQ chicken. I like to serve it with a low fat Hummus and Fresh Pitas.


Glaze:
3 cups seedless red grapes or 4 cups grape juice (reduced to 2 cups by boiling)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary

Chicken:
2 teaspoons olive oil
6 chicken drumsticks & 6 chicken thighs (skin removed)
2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
Cooking spray
Fresh rosemary leaves (optional)

To prepare glaze, place grapes in a blender; process until smooth. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; cover and cook 10 minutes. Add garlic; cover and cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in pureed grapes, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and 1 teaspoon rosemary; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until slightly thick. Cool slightly. Place grape mixture in blender; process until smooth. Set aside.

Prepare grill.

To prepare chicken, brush 2 teaspoons oil over chicken; sprinkle with 2 teaspoons rosemary, pepper, and salt. Place chicken on grill rack coated with cooking spray; cover and grill 25 minutes or until done, turning and basting frequently with grape glaze. Garnish with rosemary leaves, if desired.

Heating instructions: Thaw chicken and spinach in the refrigerator the night before consumption. Heat the chicken at 375 degrees, covered, for 20 minutes. Uncover and heat for 5 minutes more. Heat the spinach in the microwave on high for 4 minutes, vented. The hummus is in the refrigerator and ready to eat. It can be garnished with extra virgin olive oil if desired.


Per Serving: 288 Cal (27% from Fat, 55% from Protein, 18% from Carb); 39 g Protein; 9 g Tot Fat; 2 g Sat Fat; 4 g Mono Fat; 13 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; 10 g Sugar; 34 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 395 mg Sodium; 103 mg Cholesterol