Category Archives: Light and Healthy

Lentil & Spinach Curry

I’ve never been a big fan of beans, or anything of the like (except for green beans and bbq beans), but I’ve been trying to change that lately.  I am now a fan of black beans and lentils (I know it probably isn’t technically a bean?).  While I am a new fan of lentils, I’m a cautious fan.  I’m not completely on board, unless it’s something that sounded really REALLY good.  Like lentil & spinach curry.

I love curry.  There is an Indian restaurant in Baton Rouge that an old roommate used to bring me to and I just loved it.  I took my now hubby there and lucky for me, he loved it too.  I don’t know why we don’t cook it more often, I think we’ll have to change that.  This meal came together really quickly and was pretty healthy for you (and cheap too!).  The vegetable base it called for was a little tricky to find (I found it at Albertson’s) and a bit on the pricey side, but if you can find it I think it’s worth it.  It’s basically vegetable bouillon but you can tell that it has a bit more richness and seasoning to it.  But if you can’t find it, regular vegetable bouillon should do the trick.  I also added peanut butter, which was NOT in the recipe.  Gotta love my husband, he didn’t even bat an eye when I said “I think peanut butter would go nicely in this!”  He taste-tested and agreed with me!  But that’s your call.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Lentil & Spinach Curry

Lentil & Spinach Curry
Recipe adapted from Food and Whine

Ingredients:
2 cups lentils
3 cups water
2 tsp vegetable base (I used organic Better Than Bouillon in a jar)
2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3-5 tsp curry powder, depending on your taste (we like a lot!)
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp sugar
1 10 oz. frozen spinach, cooked and drained
1 14 oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 spoons peanut butter (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste

Method:

Rinse lentils in cold water, then combine with 3 cups of water in a saucepan over medium heat.  Once it comes to a boil, add the vegetable base and stir in.  Cover and simmer 20-25 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed.

While that’s cooking, heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet.  Add the onions and garlic, cook until soft.  Add the grated ginger, let cook for a minute before adding the rest of the spices.  Once fragrant, add the spinach, crushed tomatoes and lentils (I didn’t add all of the lentils, probably about 3/4 of them).  Add salt, pepper and peanut butter (if desired) and mix in well and allow to heat through.

Serve over rice, with some naan if you have it!

 

Crockpot Lentil Soup

I’ve never been a big fan of beans so lately I’ve been trying to “train” myself to like them.  It’s working.  I’m now a fan of black beans, so I figured I’d branch out some and bought a package of lentils.  I see lots of recipes for lentils, so after looking through some I decided to go with a crockpot recipe.

This was super easy to make, you just throw everything into the crockpot.  It is very hearty, despite being a meat-free soup.  If you’re wondering, lentils are very earthy, they sort of remind me of black-eyed peas, just with a different texture.  In fact, this soup reminded me a lot in taste of the black-eyed pea soup I make.  My husband was skeptical he loved it, so did my three-year old daughter.  It makes  a ton, so you can freeze some for a rainy day!

Crockpot Lentil Soup

Crockpot Lentil Soup
Recipe adapted from I Was Born to Cook

Ingredients:
1 pkg dry lentils, rinsed and drained
1 can sliced carrots, with juice
1 onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp Italian seasonings
2 bay leaves
7 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
2 cans fire roasted diced tomatoes
6-8 shakes of hot sauce

Instructions:

Place all ingredients in a crock pot.  Cook on LOW for 12 hours or HIGH for 5-6 hours.  Discard bay leaves and serve.

Mozzarella and Onion Stuffed Bread

Some foods just go together, you can’t have one without the other.  Perfect example?  Pasta and bread.  For the bachelorette party, I was serving crawfish fettuccine but I needed the perfect bread to serve with it, and the search was over once I saw this recipe.

This was incredibly easy to make, and it was phenomenal.  It certainly doesn’t hurt that I got it from a Trim & Terrific cookbook, each slice was relatively low cal!  The only change I would make next time is to add some minced garlic or garlic powder, it would have been great with that.  Make this next time you need a yummy bread as a side dish!

Mozzarella and Onion Stuffed Bread

Mozzarella and Onion Stuffed Bread
Recipe adapted from Holly Clegg’s Trim & Terrific – Home Entertaining the Easy Way

Ingredients:
1 loaf Italian or French Bread, (1 lb)
6 tbsp margarine
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 tsp Dijon mustard
dash of hot pepper sauce (I used Sriracha)
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Make 1-inch diagonal slices in the bread, making sure not to cut all the way through the bottom crust.
  • In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Once melted, add the onion (and minced garlic if you decide to add that) and cook until soft.  Remove from heat and stir in the mustard and hot sauce.  Mix in the cheese.
  • Spoon the mixture between each slice of the bread and a little on top.  Bake on a baking sheet for 10-15 minutes, until bread is golden and cheese is melted.

136 calories per slice

Mozzarella & Onion Stuffed Bread

Lightened Up Crawfish Fettuccine

As you probably read in my last post, my brother-in-law (hubby’s brother) is getting married soon and last weekend was the bachelor/bachelorette party.  The guys went to Dallas for some surprisingly tame fun (or so they say – wink, wink).  Us girls stayed here in town and did a painting class then had a lingerie shower for the bride at my house.  When I started planning out the food for the shower, I was looking at it as a big chance to cheat on my diet.

But for once, I’m doing really well on this diet.  I mean hey, it’s February 1 and I’m still ON IT!  That’s a record breaker right there!  I stuck with the basic bones of the menu, but looked for lightened up versions of the recipes.  The recipe I found for crawfish fettuccine was fantastic, a few of the guests at the shower were feeling guilty for getting seconds, until I told them that it was a lower-calorie version.  Nobody could believe it.  So if you’re looking for a nice dish to celebrate a special occasion, or just because it’s a Friday, then here ya go.  I think this would be equally delicious with cooked shrimp or chicken as the protein.

Crawfish Fettuccine

Crawfish Fettuccine
Recipe from The New Holly Clegg Trim and Terrific Cookbook

Ingredients:
1 lb fettuccine pasta, cooked and rinsed under cool water
1 lb. crawfish tails, rinsed
1/4 cup margarine
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1.5 cups skim milk
1.5 lb. light Velveeta
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • In a large pot, melt the margarine and saute’ the onion, bell pepper and garlic until tender, about five minutes.  Stir in the flour until mixed and allow to cook for a minute or so, stirring constantly.  Slowly whisk in the milk, stirring until smooth.  Add the cheese, stirring until evenly melted and then add the crawfish, parsley, salt, cayenne and Worcestershire sauce.
  • Taste for seasonings then add the pasta, tossing to coat.   Transfer to a baking dish coated with nonstick spray and bake for 15 minutes, or until heated through.
  • Serve immediately.

8-10 servings at 378 calories each.

Foodbuzz 24×24: Sayonara Single Life! Michelle’s Bachelorette Party

A little over three years ago, I met a new friend.  Michelle went to college with my brother-in-law and she and I became friends.  I kept encouraging her to start dating him and finally, she did!  Our friendship grew and when my husband and I bought our first house, it had an attached apartment that she moved into.

Michelle & Jason

We’ve had such a great time getting to know Michelle and naturally were thrilled when Jason proposed to her.  She’s already a wonderful aunt to our little girl and I consider her a sister.  Of course one of the perks of a wedding (other than getting married!) is the bachelorette party.  Chelle, as I call her didn’t want anything wild and crazy, she’s a very chill girl.  Plans were set in motion.

Woohoo!!

We started off the bachelorette party at a local art studio that does step-by-step painting classes.  Michelle picked out a painting for us each to do and we all met there to create our masterpiece, chat and have some laughs.

Our group painting at Red Door Art

 

The bride-to-be with her creation

Once we were done and considered ourselves Picasso’s in the making, everyone headed back to my house for a lingerie shower.  Chelle got lots of great gifts, some practical and some just fun…I thought it was especially entertaining that while she opened her lingerie gifts, the song “You Can’t Touch This” happened to be playing.

Chelle opening her gifts!

All that hard work painting worked up our appetites, so food played a front and center role.  Since many of us have to fit into gowns for the wedding, I planned a (mostly) low-cal menu:

Appetizers:
Salsa and Chips
Candied Pecans
Spinach Dip with Whole Wheat Crackers (low-cal)
Fruit Tray
Vegetable Tray

Main Course:
Sensation Salad
Crawfish Fettuccini (low-cal)
Mozzarella and Onion Stuffed French Bread (low-cal)

Dessert:
Bra and Panty Sugar Cookies
Lingerie Cake (made by Betsy’s aunt)

Table of yum! Cakes, Cookies and Appetizers.

Lingerie Cake

 

Lingerie Cake

 

Fruit and Vegetable Trays

 

Chips & Salsa, Candied Pecans

 

Low-Cal Spinach Dip with Whole Wheat Crackers

 

Something Blue Bra and Panty Cookies

 

Sensation Salad

 

Mozzarella & Onion Stuffed French Bread

 

Crawfish Fettuccini

 

Michelle cutting the cake

I hope you enjoyed your bachelorette party, Chelle!  Welcome to the family!

 

Warm Pasta Salad with Shrimp

This recipe is another recipe from the MOMS Club Biggest Loser Brunch potluck.  My friend Marci brought it and it was so unusual, but so delicious!  I saved a taste for my hubby and he loved it and said I needed to get that recipe.  Marci emailed the recipe and I made it that same night!

I actually had a lot of the ingredients on hand, so it ended up being a really inexpensive dish to make.  I only used a half pound of shrimp, cut in half and to compensate, I used the whole can of rinsed and drained cannellini beans.  Plus, I didn’t want to end up wasting half a can, what else was I going to do with it?  I’ve never been the greatest fan of whole wheat pasta, but I used it anyway, I bought the Ronzoni brand whole wheat, and it was actually very good.  The recipe below will be without my adaptations though.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Warm Pasta Salad with Shrimp

Warm Pasta Salad with Shrimp
Recipe from Marci G., originally from Cooking Light

Ingredients:
1 pkg whole wheat pasta, cooked per package directions
1.5 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp minced fresh garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
12 oz. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1.5 cups chopped fresh spinach
1 cup canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup minced red onion
2 tbsp capers

Instructions:

  • In a small bowl, combine the mustard, lemon juice and garlic, whisking to combine.  Slowly add the oil, whisking to incorporate, then add in the salt and pepper.
  • Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, add the shrimp and cook through.  Add in the spinach, beans, red onions and capers and toss, cooking until the spinach wilts.  Add the pasta and juice mixture, stirring to coat evenly.  Serve

4 servings, 487 calories each

Warm Pasta Salad with Shrimp

Foil-Baked Tilapia with Black Beans & Corn

Being on a diet is something that produces change for the whole family.  Sometimes they’re happy with the change, sometimes not so much.  For example, I’ve become more conscious of the fact that I do not eat a lot of fruit.  I love vegetables, just not fruit.  And as a parent, I cannot expect my child to eat the fruit I’m pushing at her if I do not eat it myself.  So I’m trying to eat more, and teach her by my example.  Also, my cooking diet meals means that my husband also eats diet meals.  He is really a rock star husband, he never complains and even compliments the diet food.

Sundays have always been our day of indulgence.  It is his only day off during the week and he likes to make the most of it.  When he woke up this past Sunday, he said that he wanted to grill, he went look in our deep freeze and said how about either pork chops or ribs.  Both sounded GREAT, but I knew they would not end up remotely healthy.  I found this recipe online and figured we could always grill it instead of bake it.

This was pretty easy to make, quick to cook (we did end up baking it, not grilling it) and packed a major punch of flavor.  The compound butter cooks on the fish and melts down to the corn and black beans, infusing them with that amazing chipotle flavor.  As a low-cal high-taste dinner, it will be on our menu more often!

Foil Baked Tilapia with Black Beans & Corn

Foil-Baked Tilapia with Black Beans & Corn
Recipe from:  Pink Parsley, originally from America’s Test Kitchen

Ingredients:
4 tilapia fillets
salt and pepper
Cajun seasoning, if desired
4 tbsp softened butter
1 tsp orange zest
2 tbsp orange juice
2 tsp minced chipotle chilis in adobo sauce
2 cloves minced garlic
1  can low-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can low-sodium corn, drained
1/2 red onion, minced
2 green onions, minced
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • In a small bowl, combine the softened butter with 1 tsp of the chipotle chili in adobo sauce, the orange zest, 1 clove garlic, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.  Set aside.
  • Pat the fish dry with paper towels and season with desired seasonings (salt and pepper, or I used the Cajun seasoning).  Spread the butter mixture over the fish.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, combine the beans, corn, red onion, green onion, 2 tbsp cilantro, orange juice, 1 tsp minced chipotle pepper in adobo, 1 clove garlic, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper, mix until well incorporated.
  • Lay four sheets of foil on the counter and evenly divide the corn and bean mixture between them.  Lay a piece of fish on top of each and fold the foil, sealing the edges.
  • Arrange in a single layer in a baking dish and bake until cooked through, 20-30 minutes.  Fish is done when it flakes when a fork is stuck in it.  Open the packets and serve, sprinkled with extra cilantro if desired.

327 calories per serving