Category Archives: Recipes

Power-Up Whole Wheat Lasagna Roll-Ups

I’m always on the search for an easy healthy lasagna recipes (like the no pasta zucchini lasagna!) but today I bring you, by popular demand, power-up whole wheat lasagna roll-ups!  This recipe is easy enough for a weeknight meal, hearty enough to freeze for leftovers, and just plan delicious. For a vegetarian option, simply don’t include the ground chicken.

Power-Up Whole Wheat Lasagna Roll-Ups
 

All rolled up, although a little smushed.

 
Ingredients
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tbsp. dried thyme
  • 1 28-oz. can whole tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 lb ground chicken (optional)
  • 1 box frozen spinach, thawed
  • 24-oz. low-fat, low-sodium cottage cheese
  • 1 cup shredded reduced-fat mozzarella cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 8 sheets dried whole-wheat lasagna noodles 

Instructions

  1. Sautee diced onions on medium heat with 1 tsp olive oil. Add garlic in next.
  2. Add ground chicken and cook until no longer pink.
  3. Add tomatoes with juice, salt, and thyme. Reduce heat to medium low, and let simmer for 20 min. Stir occasionally to break the tomatoes into pieces.
  4. While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook pasta according to box directions. Drain, rinse, and cool in colander.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  6. Squeeze all remaining moisture from thawed spinach and place in a large bowl. Add cottage cheese, egg, and 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese; stir until combined.
  7. Spread 1 cup of cooked tomato sauce into bottom of a 9″ x 10″ casserole dish.
  8. Place a cooked lasagna noodle in front of you, spread 1/8 of the cottage cheese mixture across the noodle, and roll it up (see photo below).
  9. Place rolled pasta, seam side down, into the casserole dish
  10. Repeat with remaining noodles, then top with remaining mozzarella cheese.
  11. Bake, covered with foil, for 20 minutes.
  12. Remove foil and broil for 5 minutes or until roll-ups are brown and bubbly.

Whole wheat roll-ups in various stages of undress.

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Clean Breaded Chicken Cutlets

My dear friend Christina and I call one another Chicken, in only the most endearing way, because we heard the following conversation nearly a decade ago and thought it was hilarious:
Little boy: “You’re a chicken!”
Little girl: “Well, You’re a turkey!”
Little boy: “No, you’re a flamingo!”
Ever since then, we have both been known as “Chicken” (and it’s not very original given that we stole the joke from two little kids). I should also mention that our maturity levels drop drastically as soon as the other is in view… and this makes everything we do way more fun while annoying the crap out of everyone around us. More often than not we are the only two people laughing in a movie theater or being asked to stop dressing up in aprons and taking pictures of one another at Anthropologie. Just yesterday we were throwing around poultry-inspired names for a fictional business venture like Chicka Chicka Bawk Bawk and Chicken Coop. We have no ideas or business plans for either, except that the later would probably involve none other than Cooper (the dog). To make a long story short, we now have yet another joke that’s probably only funny to us.
 
So, to honor this long-standing and special friendship, I wanted to share my favorite way to cook chicken (the meat, not the person). Instead of frying the cutlets in oil, they are breaded with clean ingredients and baked. Enjoy!
 
Clean Breaded Chicken Cutlets
 
Ingredients
  • 4-5 chicken cutlets, about 1/4″ thick
  • 1 cup almond meal (sub out whole wheat flour if you are allergic to nuts!)
  • 1/2 cup liquid egg whites
  • 1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  • cooking spray

    Clean breaded chicken w/ veggies

 
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Cover baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.
  3. One by one, coat cutlets in almond meal, egg whites, and bread crumbs.
  4. Arrange in one layer on baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 9-10 minutes, or until juices run clear and chicken is no longer pink in the middle.
  6. Sometimes I serve the chicken plain, but I also have some variations that I use to keep things interesting: I top it with hot sauce and crumbled blue cheese; incorporate it into pasta dishes in lieu of fried cutlets; put it in a whole wheat wrap with tomato, basil & mozzarella – the possibilities are endless!
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Clean Eating Baked Ravioli

I always look forward to finding the latest issue of Clean Eating magazine in the mailbox, and March 2012’s issue did not disappoint! I was immediately drawn to Julie O’Hara’s “Classics, Only Cleaner” column featuring her “not-so” fried ravioli. Any cleaned-up bar food favorite is sure to be a hit with me and I couldn’t wait to try this one out. 

I picked up the ravioli at Fairway and made these on a Friday after work. They only took about half an hour to make, from start to finish, which makes this recipe even more delightful. The final result was a deliciously cheesy, crispy bite-sized appetizer that hit the spot at a fraction of the calories of its fried counterpart. They could even be a stand-in for mozzarella sticks when the craving strikes!

I’ve included the recipe for the ravioli from the magazine below (but I ended up using pre-made marinara sauce to save some time and keep things simple). Enjoy!

Clean baked ravioli

Ingredients

  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 2 egg whites
  • ¼ tsp seal salt, divided
  • 1/8 tsp. plus ¼ tsp. fresh ground black pepper, divided
  • ½ cup fine whole-wheat bread crumbs*
  • ¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (1 oz)
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • Dash ground cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1 9-oz package bite-sized whole wheat cheese ravioli
  • Marinara sauce

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. In a shallow bowl, combine egg whites and 1/8 tsp. each salt and 1/8 tsp. black pepper.
  3. In a separate shallow bowl, combine bread crumbs, remaining 1/8 tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. black pepper, Parmigiano-Reggiano, 1 tsp. dried oregano, 1 tsp. thyme and cayenne.
  4. Dip ravioli into egg mixture and then bread mixture, shaking off excess.
  5. Transfer to baking sheet.
  6. Repeat with remaining ravioli, adding to sheet in a single layer.
  7. Bake, turning once, until lightly browned (or 12-16 minutes).
  8. Serve with marinara sauce.

*Fine whole-wheat bread crumbs do work best, but I didn’t have any so I took regular whole-wheat bread crumbs and ground them a bit with the pestle & mortar.

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Sweet Potato Chili

We had some friends over for dinner the other night and I had fun planning a menu for a mixed audience of vegetarians and meat-eaters. I wanted to please everyone, so I decided to put together a vegetarian main entrée, asked Chris to barbecue some chicken, and made a batch of cornbread. I also asked each couple to bring a dish – an appetizer and a desert – freeing me up to focus on picking out the main meal.

After digging through my recipes, I came across this Slow-Cooker Vegetarian Chili with Sweet Potatoes from Real Simple. I took a few liberties with the original recipe (which you can find here) to suit our party of six (RS’s version is for four). We already had a lot of the ingredients, so I just picked up a couple of things from the store and got to work. The longest part of prep for me was chopping everything up, particularly the onion. One slice in and I was crying like a baby and then I saw my swim goggles sitting on the counter. Problem solved – no more onion tears! I crossed my fingers that no one (read: Chris or Cooper) discovered me in my exercise-turned-cooking gear but given that it was 8am on a Sunday, I knew they were both asleep for at least another two hours.

Warning: the quantities below will make way more than six servings. In hindsight, I was probably OK going with the original but thought it better to have more than less!

Sweet potato chili, topped with scallions

Slow-Cooker Vegetarian Chili with Sweet Potatoes 

Ingredients

  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 3 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 3 15.5-oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 15.5-oz can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 15.5-oz can dark red kidney beans, rinsed
  • 1 15.5-oz can red kidney beans, rinsed
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes (about 8 ounces), peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
  • sour cream, sliced scallions, and tortilla chips (for serving)

Directions

  1. In a large slow cooker, combine the onion, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, cocoa, cinnamon, 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Add the tomatoes (and their liquid), beans, sweet potatoes, and 1 1/2 cup water.
  2. Cover and cook until the sweet potatoes are tender and the chili has thickened, on low for 8 to 9 hours or on high for 5 to 6 hours.
  3. Serve the chili with the sour cream, scallions, and tortilla chips.
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Sweet tooth

I really don’t like going a day without having some chocolate. I know I could, but that’s not realistic for a chocoholic like me. It’s no secret that sweets can ruin a healthy regimen, so I usually only allow myself a couple pieces of RitterSport dark chocolate each night.

Every once in a while I treat myself to something a little more decadent… and today was one of those days. I stopped by The Little Chocolate Company, a locally-owned chocolate shop, to pick up a couple of small gifts for friends and a few little treats for myself.

I spent a good 10 minutes jumping between the two main display cases – one full of milk chocolates, the other dark – trying to decide what to choose. The truffles from TLCC are heavenly – just one bite is rich and delicious which helps me avoid that “I-have-to-eat-this-whole-candy-bar-to-feel-satisfied” feeling.

If you’re in the Fairfield/Westchester area, stop in to check out the shop (or order online) and pick up a treat for your Valentine this week!

The Little Chocolate Company
99 Mill Street
Greenwich, CT 06830

A few treats from The Little Chocolate Company - a raspberry dark chocolate truffle and white chocolate with vanilla bean - almost too pretty to eat!

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Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Stew

In addition for my delirious obsession with chicken wings, I also have a thing for Mexican food. Unfortunately, as with wings, some of my favorite dishes are also the least healthy: fried and smothered with cheese. During my quest to find healthy takes on Mexican food, I stumbled upon this chicken taco stew. It’s flavorful and full of protein. Plus, the recipe below makes about 12 servings – more than enough to save some leftovers and freeze lunch-sized portions for busy weeks.

And, maybe the best part: this crowd-pleasing recipe is so foolproof that I made it while I was sleeping. I put everything in the slow cooker before I went to bed, and when I woke up it was done. What a dream for this busy life! 

Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Stew

Chicken taco stew - ready to eat!

Ingredients
1 onion, chopped
1 16-oz can black beans, rinsed
1 16-oz can kidney beans, rinsed
1 16-oz can corn, drained
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes w/chilies
1 1.25-oz packet taco seasoning (or make your own)
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Greek yogurt

I love all the colors!

Directions

  1. Mix the beans, corn, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and taco seasoning in slow cooker.
  2. Place chicken on top of mixture and cover.
  3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours (or on high for 3-4 hours*).
  4. Remove chicken 30 minutes before serving and shred.
  5. Return chicken to slow cooker and stir in.
  6. Serve with tortilla chips (I highly recommend the Food Should Taste Good sweet potato tortillas) or brown rice; top with Greek yogurt.

*I usually cook the stew for 7-8 hours on low; I’ve tried the shorter cooking time and it’s just not the same.

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Zucchini Lasagna

I love lasagna! I especially love cleaned-up takes on the tradtionally high-cal favorite. My friend Alyson passed along this zucchini lasagna recipe and I couldn’t wait to try it. I was also pretty excited to make use of another wedding gift, a mandolin slicer, to prep the zucchini.
 
I should mention here that I have a tendancy to trip, stumble, and klutz my way through each day and I was a bit worried about facing the mandolin. After sizing it up, I felt pretty confident and preemptively told myself, “You can even blog about how you mastered this new kitchen tool, accident-free!” 
 
Cut to 10 minutes later when my hand slipped, the safety fell off, and I sliced through my fingertip. Cooper jumped up to my rescue, barking in response to my reactions but there wasn’t much he could do for me. These types of things tend to happen when Chris, a firefighter and EMT, is at work (helping people who’ve had accidents… like myself). I needed his professional opinion so we had a Facetime call (thank goodness for the iPhone!) and he concluded that I was going to be just fine. At his suggestion, I got some gauze, sat down, and took a break.
 
Soon enough, I got back up and running with my newly bandaged finger. I adapted this recipe a bit on the fly, adding chopped spinach in the cottage cheese mixture for an added health boost. Tip: to prevent a soupy lasagna, dry out the zucchini before baking by salting them and waiting for 10 minutes. You will see the moisture “sweat” out. Once you soak up the extra water, you’re good to go!

Zucchini Lasagna

Zucchini Lasagna

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced into ¼” thick pieces
  • 10 oz. ground chicken
  • 1 24 oz. jar of low-fat, low-sodium tomato sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups low-fat, low-sodium cottage cheese
  • 1 tsp. whole wheat flour
  • 1 package of chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • ½ cup finely shredded 2%, low-sodium mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. In a large frying pan or dutch oven, saute onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until tender.
  3. Add tomato sauce and ground meat, and bring all ingredients to consistent heat for 10 minutes (or until browned). Season with salt & pepper, to taste. Remove from heat.

  4. While meat sauce is cooking, salt the zucchini to remove excess moisture. Soak up excess beads of moisture after 10 minutes.

    Salted zucchini "sweating" out beads of mositure

  5. In a small bowl, slightly beat the egg. Stir in cottage cheese, flour, spinach, and ¼ cup mozzarella cheese.
  6. Pour ½ tomato sauce into a 13×9 baking dish. Top with a layer of zucchini slices, followed by a layer of cottage cheese mixture.
  7. Cover with the remaining tomato sauce and top with zucchini.
  8. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

  9. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese and bake 10 minutes longer.
  10. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

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Flank Steak Roll

Here’s a quick post to share this flank steak roll recipe from Clean Eating. I haven’t had the best track record cooking steak (read: I’ve wasted lots of time and money ruining beautiful cuts of beef), but I decided to give it another try and was pleasantly surprised with the outcome.

The steak was juicy, the bread crumb mixture was delicious, and it even looked fancy enough for a dinner party. Add a side of couscous and mixed vegetables and you have a rock solid dinner. The instructions for creating the roll look a little complicated but don’t let them turn you away from making it – if I can do it, anyone can! 

Flank steak roll, fresh out of the oven!

Flank Steak Roll with Spinach, Garlic and Toasted Pine Nuts

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup whole-wheat panko
  • 1 tbsp. pine nuts, toasted (see below for instructions)
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 flank steak (1 lb.), trimmed of visible fat
  • 3 oz. spinach leaves (about 6 cups)
  • Kitchen string
  • Parchment paper

Instructions for Toasted Pine Nuts:

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
  2. Place parchment paper on baking sheet.
  3. Arrange pine nuts in one layer.
  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until slightly browned.

Instructions for Flank Steak:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Arrange a rack in a baking pan and coat with cooking spray.
  2. In a small bowl, combine panko, nuts, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper flakes. Set aside.
  3. Place steak on a work surface. Cut the steak in half horizontally, so that it opens like a book. Spread steak open so that the “spine of the book” is parallel to you.
  4. Spread bread crumb mixture evenly over steak, leaving a 1-inch border along the farthest edge.
  5. Arrange spinach on top of bread crumb mixture.
  6. Beginning with the closest edge, roll steak up, gently pressing down on spinach.
  7. Rotate steak roll so it’s vertical to you and tie crosswise at 1-inch intervals with kitchen string.
  8. Place steak on rack in prepared baking pan and bake until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of steak registers 150°F for medium doneness (about 55 minutes for our oven) or 130°F for medium rare (about 45 minutes for our oven).
  9. Transfer steak roll to a cutting board, loosely cover with foil and let rest for 10 minutes (internal temperature will continue to rise to about 160°F for medium and 140°F for medium rare).
  10. Remove foil and string and carefully cut steak crosswise into 1/2-inch slices.

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Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

It’s mid-January and it seems like everyone is sick – including myself. I’m usually very attentive to my body when I’m not feeling well, but this time around I was determined to push through – on top of the regularly scheduled craziness, I was headed to Phoenix for a business meeting last week that I didn’t want to miss plus a visit with my best friend who lives in Scottsdale. I could not, and would not, let my progressively worsening cough stop me – westward ho!

Cut to this past Monday when I was walking into the doctor’s office, tail between my legs. The official diagnosis was bronchitis (and at this juncture, I’d like to publicly apologize to my neighbors on the plane ride to and from Phoenix as well as everyone else I met along the way). I dutifully picked up my antibiotics and went home dreading the second half of my prescription: get some rest. Rest? What’s that?

The worst part about having something like bronchitis is that you don’t feel bad enough to wallow in your own sick misery, but you don’t feel good enough to operate at 100 percent. Tuesday morning I called in sick to work and tried to go back to sleep, but with my mind racing, the dog barking, and the sun up… there was no sleep on the horizon. Since I was awake, I figured I’d do what any normal PR professional would on a sick day: I answered some work emails.

A few hours later, I peeled myself away from the computer and finally set about getting some elusive rest. I watched everything on the DVR, played fetch with Cooper for a while, and straightened up the house a bit. OK, now what – watch bad daytime television and reality show reruns? I decided to put my energy to more productive use – since I was sick, I headed into the kitchen to throw together some chicken noodle soup.

Without further ado, here’s my spin on the perennial comfort food – I take a couple of liberties with the more traditional approach by using low-sodium chicken stock, olive oil instead of butter, and swapping out high calorie egg noodles with egg white noodles. This recipe is easy enough for a weeknight and hearty enough to be a stand-alone meal with plenty of leftovers. Stay warm and healthy this winter and try, if you can, to get some rest!

Chicken Noodle Soup

Low-sodium, low-fat chicken noodle soup - delicious!

Ingredients
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 or 3 large carrots, chopped
3 or 4 stalks of celery, chopped
1 tsp. thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 tbsp. salt
pepper to taste
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
4 1/2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth (or 2 1/2 cups of low-sodium, 2 cups regular)
1 1/2 cups of water (optional) 
half of a lemon
3/4 of a package of egg white noodles
a handful of fresh parsley
whole wheat crusty bread

Instructions

  1. Heat a medium pan over low heat, then add the olive oil.
  2. Add the celery, carrots, salt, fresh pepper, thyme, and bay leaf to the pan.
  3. Cover with a lid and cook gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Place the chicken breasts on top of the vegetables, then pour in the broth. (At this point, I usually also add about .5 to 1 cup of water to the broth – I prefer my soup to be a little less concentrated.) 
  5. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover for about 10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
  6. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and shred into small pieces using two forks; return to pan.
  7. Remove the bay leaf and add the noodles, simmering until noodles are tender. (I love NoYolks – my favorite!)
  8. Roughly chop the parsley and stir it into the soup.
  9. Squeeze in a little lemon juice.
  10. Serve soup alone or with a piece of crusty bread (I highly recommend a piece of the wheat ciabatta bread from New Haven’s Chabaso Bakery – yum!)
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Party Spread Defense

No matter what the occasion, I get a little anxious when I go to a party without knowing what kind of food I’ll find in the party spread. I hate eating for the sake of being polite, especially when it’s something outside of my diet, but also don’t want to offend my family or friends by passing on something that they prepared. With the Superbowl coming up, that means lots of tempting party spreads, so I thought I’d share some defense tips from my own game plan and recipes to help keep your Superbowl experience clean and lean: buffalo chicken chili and Greek yogurt veggie dip!
  1. Contribute a clean, healthy dish. Not only will contributing a dish mean less work for the host, but it also helps assuage some of my anxiety since I know that there will be at least one thing I will eat without guilt. 
  2. Extra Workouts. It’s hard to say no to everything, so throwing an extra workout into the mix helps me offset some of the calories and makes me feel a little better about sneaking a couple extra pigs-in-a-blanket (which can pack a whopping 70 calories and 5g of fat in ONE BITE!).
  3. Sharing My Goals. When I’m vocal about my health and fitness goals and tell family and friends how hard I’ve been working, it helps to keep my health top of mind (and politely lets them know that I won’t be upset if I miss all the cheesy dip).
  4. Pre-Eating. Going to a party on an empty stomach is more dangerous for me than going grocery shopping hungry. I try to fill up on clean standards like veggies and grilled chicken or an egg white omelette  before I leave the house.

Enjoy the recipes below!

Buffalo Chicken Chili

Chicken wings are one of my biggest weaknesses in life. To me, the best ones are the least healthy: fried, covered in blue cheese, and served with a beer. Since beginning my clean eating journey, I’ve been on a mission to find a suitable alternative to the bar menu standard and I think I’ve found it in this buffalo chicken chili – it’s easy, healthy, AND delicious.

Topped with greek yogurt and voila - a lean, healthy, hearty chili!

Ingredients
1 T. olive oil
2 lbs. ground chicken breast
3 large carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 ribs celery, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 T. paprika
1 bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup hot sauce
15 oz. tomato sauce (no salt added)
15 oz. diced, fire roasted, crushed or stewed tomatoes (no salt added)
Greek yogurt
 
Directions
  1. Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, breaking it up, until no longer pink.
  2. Add the carrots, onion, celery, garlic, paprika, bay leaf, and salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are soft.
  3. Add the chicken stock, hot sauce, tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes.
  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes (or longer).
  5. Remove bay leaf and serve.
  6. Top each serving with Greek yogurt to give your dish a protein boost.

Many thanks to The Well-Fed Newlyweds blog, where I originally found the chili recipe via Pintrest.

Greek Yogurt Veggie Dip

Ingredients
12 oz. plain Greek yogurt
Low-sodium onion dip mix (I recommend Goodman’s)

Directions

  1. Mix together Greek yogurt and a couple pinches of onion dip mix.

That’s it. No, seriously… you don’t have to do anything else. A little bit of dip mix will go a long way – if you want to ramp up the flavor, add more mix a little at a time so you don’t overdo it.

Happy cooking and… go team!

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