Saturday, March 19, 2011

Semi-Homemade Mac 'n Cheese

Now this is just an idea of mine that sounded easy and delicious to me. It's also good for families who want to make a kid-friendly food that is also somewhat good for them. At one of my favorite Italian restaurants they make a dish with tortellini, alfredo sauce, ham and die for! I had a craving for it the other night and looked in the cabinet to see what I could come up with to satisfy that craving without going overboard on calories and fat.

I was excited when I remembered that when I was doing my gluten-free shopping I bought Annie's Gluten Free Macaroni & Cheese! Now, you can use whatever brand you like but try for something more natural and/or whole grain if possible. I made this according to package directions (using skim milk and NO added butter).

Simply saute 2-3 thin slices of bacon, prosciutto, or pancetta until crisp. Drain well onto paper towel and crumble into pieces. Lean ham or canadian bacon would also be a good low fat option or you could use real bacon bits/pieces, turkey bacon...whatever you like! Just remember to use the meat sparingly and drain off as much fat as's just for flavor :)

Thaw 1 cup of frozen peas or vegetable of choice (steamed broccoli cut into small pieces is also good, or you could puree cauliflower or butternut squash and mix that in as well to be more "sneaky"). Mix vegetable and meat together with the mac and cheese and heat until warmed through.
Adding the vegetable increases the amount so you can cut down on calories while adding good-for-you fiber and vitamins and also stretch that dollar just a bit more too! I think I could easily get 4 servings from this (whereas a typical box of mac and cheese serves about 2).

For about 1/4 of the recipe or about 1 cup is 140 calories. 

Comfort-style Cauliflower

You know when you just want something to make you go mmmmm? But you also want it to be healthy? Well this side dish is something that I've been working on for a while and I've had the idea since MB and I went to Girl and the Goat in Chicago last summer. We had the cauliflower side dish that really wowed me with it's parmesan and hot peppers! I experimented with the frozen cauliflower I had in my freezer a couple weeks ago and think I got it just about right! You can use more mild peppers if you don't like things as spicy but I just loved this side dish. Home run if I do say so myself :)

  • 1 large bag frozen cauliflower (3-4 cups)
  • About 3 small peppers (I used 1 each of a jalepeno, banana pepper and a fresno pepper), sliced with seeds and ribs removed
  • 1T EVOO
  • 1T tub margarine or vegan butter
  • Drizzle of honey (maybe 1-2tsp)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2T parmesan cheese, ground/grated

Melt EVOO and butter in large skillet over medium high heat. Add peppers and saute for about 2 minutes until slightly soft. Add garlic and sauté for another minute. Add cauliflower along with a tablespoon of water and cover. Let steam for 3-5 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to mix. Uncover and add honey. Mix. Allow cauliflower to brown lightly, stirring to make sure everything is cooked through. Add parmesan cheese and stir to coat. Cook until just heated through and cheese is lightly cooked (about 30 seconds-1 minute). Serve immediately!

Makes about 4 side servings (or maybe 1-2 servings if you love it as much as I do!). Calories 100/serving, Fat 6.5g/serving, Protein 3g/serving

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Fun & {healthy} Cheese Dip!

I cannot take credit for this on my own since I pretty much adapted this straight from one of my favorite food bloggers Green Lite Bites! I've been following Roni's blog for about 3 years after I stumbled upon it in grad school after searching for "easy, healthy" recipe ideas. Check her out if you haven't already...she's fantastic!

This cheese dip that she made looked and WAS so quick, easy and super fast. It is a great dip for veggies, pretzels, whole grain bread, etc! Plus it tasted so good, you'd never know it was only 110 calories.

I surprisingly couldn't find the cheddar Babybel cheese at my grocery store so I decided to try it with the original and it still turned out fantastic!

Here's what I used:

  • 1 mini Babybel original
  • 1 Laughing Cow Light, Queso Fresco flavor
  • 1T skim milk
Here's what I did:
Microwave Babybel for about 30 seconds until soft then stir a bit. Add the Laughing Cow cheese wedge and microwave for another 30 seconds and stir. Add in the milk and continue to microwave and stir in 15 second intervals until smooth.

Enjoy with your choice of healthy dip-able treats! 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Gluten-Free Week Wrap Up!

So I made it through my week or so of GF living and honestly, it wasn't that hard. I was pleased to find such great GF items at local grocery stores (Wegman's, Safeway, etc.) and live very close to a Whole Foods that caters to people with celiac disease, food allergies and those just trying to eat healthy, organic foods. I was able to find GF breads, cereals, crackers, and pasta that tasted great! Snacks that I already enjoy like baked chips and popcorn are naturally gluten free (but always make sure to check food labels!). I loaded up on fresh fruits, veggies, low fat dairy and lean meats which are gluten free as well.

I know that these specialty items can be a bit more expensive but I was also surprised to find that they weren't always as bad as I remember initially (except for the GF bread... upwards of $8/loaf!! For this I might try to go that extra mile and try to bake GF bread yourself if you have the time to save a few $$. Check out Gluten Free Goddess for some amazing bread recipes.)

Walking in the shoes of someone who may have celiac disease or a wheat/gluten allergy has really opened my eyes to the challenges of eating with a gluten-restriction and will really make me more sympathetic when it comes to counseling my patients with these limitations. It takes some getting used to. It isn't as easy to eat out. The flavors of your favorite carbohydrate-rich foods will be different (not always bad, but different). It may be a bit more expensive and some other sacrifices need to be made. You need to pay attention to food labels and check out every ingredient because there are "hidden" forms of gluten in foods. Even soy sauce has wheat in it (but there are GF versions)! 
Make sure to watch out for things like:
  • Modified food starch (MAY be made with a gluten-containing starch)
  • Maltodextrin
  • Dextrin
  • Barley and Rye also contain "gluten"
  • Anything "malted": malt, malt flavoring, malt extract, malt syrup and malt vinegar
  • Oats may also contain traces of gluten due to where they are grown and processed...make sure to look for a certified GF oatmeal
  • Wheat includes spelt, kamut, einkorn, emmer, durum, semolina, triticale and atta; wheat bran, couscous, graham flour, matzo, wheat germ, cracked wheat, farina and tabbouleh
  • Seasonings: Some multi-purpose seasonings or special seasonings may contain gluten...label read!
  • Marinades (check labels!)
  • Broth (sometimes wheat is used as a thickening agent)
When eating out you may want to call ahead to the restaurant to see if they can comply with your GF lifestyle. Some restaurants have added completely GF sections to their menu. MB & I went to PF Changs last weekend and I was stoked to see that they had my favorite Changs Spicy Chicken in a GF version that tasted exactly the same! :) With the ahi tuna appetizer and a GF chocolate dome for dessert I was in heaven!  And did I mention? Wine is gluten free.... :D

If you take the time and have the patience, it can become easy to follow a GF lifestyle. I'm not saying there won't be trying moments and frustrating moments and I-hate-this-diet moments...but there will also be rewarding moments :) And if you truly have a gluten intolerance, you'll feel so much better in the end which is a true payoff. 

Have a healthy day everyone :) 

Chocolate Banana "Ice Cream"

This was amazing. Simple. Awesome. Dairy free. Gluten free. Sweet, yet low in calories and fat free. Chocolatey. Creamy. Just good.

I feel like this "ice cream" recipe has been all over food blogs and if you're an avid food blog reader and/or poster I'm sure this is nothing new to you but it was my first time trying it and I LOVED it. Totally satisfied my ice cream craving after that great gluten free lasagna that I made.

All you need:
  • 1 large frozen ripe banana, broken or chopped into small sections
  • 1T cocoa powder

Place ingredients into a blender or food processor (I used the Magic Bullet) and blend until smooth. You may need to scrape down the sides of blender a few times to get everything incorporated. But once done, the texture is going to be so smooth and creamy you'll think you're eating a delicious ice cream (or gelato!). You can also do this with the banana alone...or maybe add some vanilla extract...or a little peanut butter....maybe mint extract AND cocoa...or any other flavor you can think of :) I'm definitely going to experiment this week! 
Oh, did I mention it was only about 120 calories?? And is a serving of fruit?? Just sayin'...

***Update: My favorite combo was banana with a few drops of peppermint extract and cocoa powder! Chocolatey-minty delicious!