Category Archives: Light and Healthy

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.


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:

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)

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

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


  • 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

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


  • 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


Cinnamon-Raisin Granola

In my new quest for weight loss, I’m trying to eat healthier.  No brainer, right?  Well some things I just never have had before, including granola.  I mean I’ve had the granola bars before but never had regular straight up granola and it seems to be the “it” thing to make these days.

Lucky for me when we had our Biggest Loser brunch, my friend Jennifer brought some granola and yogurt.  I gave it a try and loved it.  I loved it so much that I found myself wishing I had some more that same afternoon.  And that evening, I went to the store and got the ingredients and made it.  I think my husband thought I had lost my mind, such an immediate love for GRANOLA??  Then he ate some.  And he loves it too.  So try it, might be your new favorite thing!  Thanks for sharing, Jen!

Cinnamon-Raisin Granola

Cinnamon-Raisin Granola
Recipe from Jennifer D., originally from All Recipes

4 cups old-fashioned oats (don’t use instant or quick, they won’t get as crisp)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup raisins


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Pour oats into a large bowl, set aside.
  • In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar, oil, honey and cinnamon and bring to a boil.  Once it’s boiling and the sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.  Pour over the oats and stir in, folding untill well incorporated and no clumps are forming.
  • Spread in a large shallow low-rimmed baking pan and bake 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  When it’s golden brown, remove and stir in the raisins.
  • Store up to 3 weeks in an airtight container.

Cinnamon-Raisin Granola

Baked Praline French Toast

I know, you’re thinking “Christen has fallen off of the diet wagon for sure!”  But you would be wrong.  This, believe it or not, is a diet dish!!

The moms club I’m in is doing a Biggest Loser, so we decided to have a Biggest Loser brunch and all made a relatively healthy/low-cal brunch dish.  We brought copies of our recipe to share with each other, so you’ll be seeing some of those other dishes coming soon, there were some good ones.  I got mine from the Holly Clegg Trim & Terrific cookbook, Home Entertaining the Easy Way (given to me by my soon-to-be sister-in-law, Michelle!).  I just love Holly Clegg, she seems so personable and being a Southern girl like myself, I like her recipes!  The orange flavor gave it a different taste from the norm, but a good different.  This one was a definite win, it did not taste “diet” at all, everyone loved it.

Baked Praline French Toast

Baked Praline French Toast
Recipe from:  Home Entertaining the Easy Way

6 tbsp margarine
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp light corn syrup
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 eggs
3 egg whites
1 cup orange juice (I used the Trop 50 kind)
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
1/3 cup skim milk
1 tsp orange zest
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 loaf (1 lb) French Bread, cut into one inch slices

In a small bowl, combine the margarine, corn syrup and brown sugar, microwaving until the brown sugar has dissolved, stirring occasionally.  Pour into a casserole, then sprinkle with the chopped pecans before arranging the bread slices over the pecans.

In a larger bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients and whisk to combine.  Pour evenly over the bread and cover, refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake 30 minutes, serve immediately.

Calories:  288

Baked Praline French Toast

Enchilada Casserole with Spicy Black Beans

Well it’s that time of year again.  Everyone is health conscious, everywhere you look are ads for weight loss items and the gym parking lot is full.  New Years Resolutions.  Every year my goal is to lose weight, and as I’m getting older the desire is much stronger.  And it’s much harder.

It’s extra hard since I love to cook and I love food.  Luckily these days there are many tasty recipes that are on the lower-cal side of the spectrum.  One of my favorite sources for tasty healthier recipes is Cooking Light.  Almost everything I’ve ever cooked from that magazine has been delicious and this recipe is no different.  It really doesn’t even TASTE like it’s lighter.  The portions were large also, so it didn’t leave you hungry.  If you’re a fan of Mexican food you’re sure to love this.

Enchilada Casserole with Spicy Black Beans
Recipe from Cooking Light magazine, January/February 2012
Serves 4

1 lb lean ground beef (ground turkey would work fine too)
1 cup chopped onion
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp minced garlic
1.5 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup lower- sodium beef broth
1 tbsp taco seasoning (it called for less-sodium but I used spicy)
1 (8 oz) can salt-free tomato sauce
4 (8-inch) whole-grain flour tortillas
1/3 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeno peppers


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, brown beef and crumble with your spoon.  Add onion and cook until tender.
  • In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add the garlic, saute for a minute then sprinkle with flour and cook an additional thirty seconds, stirring constantly.  Add in the broth, taco seasoning and tomato sauce and stir in well.  Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally for two minutes.  Add 1.5 cups of this mixture to the browned beef, reserving 1/2 cup of the tomato mixture for later use.
  • Spray a pie plate with nonstick spray and place one tortilla in the bottom.  Top with one cup of beef mixture, then repeat the layers, ending with a tortilla.  Spread the reserved tomato mixture over the top, then sprinkle on the cheese.
  • Bake uncovered for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.  Cool slightly and cut into four wedges.

Spicy Black Beans

2 tsp canola oil
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 minced jalapeno pepper
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp salt
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro


  • Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, add the oil and swirl to coat the pan.
  • Add the red bell pepper and jalapeno pepper and saute for four minutes.  Add the lime juice, salt and beans and cook until heated through, about three minutes.  Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

Enchilada Casserole – 377
Spicy Black Beans – 83

Enchilada Casserole with Spicy Black Beans

Autumn Penne Pasta with Sauteed Brussels Sprouts in a Light Ragu

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m sure:  I hate that brussels sprouts get the bad reputation that they do.  They are our favorite vegetable, we almost always have some in the house!  So needless to say, instead of being skeptical when I saw a recipe for this tasty veggie in the most unusual of places – pasta with red sauce, I was SO excited!

I feel so fortunate that my husband is willing to try new (and sometimes weird) foods.  He never says “that sounds weird” or anything, he’s the best sport!  We both loved this dish and it made enough for us to eat several meals.  The best part is that I only used half the packages of meat I purchased, so now I have the most costly part of the makings of another!  If you’re a fan of the sprouts, you definitely need to give this a try!

Autumn Penne Pasta with Sautéed Brussels Sprouts in a Light Ragu
Recipe from Skinnytaste

1/2 lb. ground Italian sausage (no casings), we used mild
1/2 lb. lean ground turkey
4 tsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
10 oz brussels sprouts (I used frozen), thawed if using frozen
1 small onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 bay leaf
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste (or use some Tony’s)
1 lb. whole grain penne pasta


In a nonstick skillet, cook sausage and turkey over medium heat, breaking up into small pieces as it cooks.  Once fully cooked, set aside in a bowl.

Cut the brussels sprouts in half and then into slices/shreds.  Add 2 tsp oil to the skillet and add the garlic, cooking for a minute until golden, then add the brussels sprouts, salt and pepper and cook until tender and slightly crisp, about five minutes.  Set aside in another bowl.

In the same skillet, add the remaining 2 tsp oil and then add onion and carrot, stirring well to coat with oil.  Cook until the vegetables are golden brown and soft, about ten minutes.  Add the crushed tomatoes, sausage and turkey, bay leaf, crushed red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer about 30 minutes until the sauce thickens.

While the sauce is cooking, cook your pasta and drain.

Toss the pasta in the sauce, then add the brussels sprouts.  Toss well to combine and serve topped with ricotta and parmesan cheeses.

Autumn Penne Pasta with sautéed Brussels Sprouts in a Light Ragu

Crockpot Chicken White Bean Pumpkin Chili

Long name, huh?  I’ve been *trying* to be good with the diet lately, and one of my favorite winter foods is my white chicken chili.  Unfortunately it’s not the healthiest thing in the world.  Needless to say, I was thrilled when in the current recipe swap, I received a recipe for a white bean chili – that’s “skinny.”  Thanks Ellie!

The original recipe called for using ground turkey, but to make it more like the one I like I opted to use chicken, I just used some shredded meat from a roast chicken.  I’m sure that didn’t alter the calorie count too significantly.  The chili was really great, it wasn’t exactly like my regular recipe since you’re not adding the gobs of cream, but it tasted great all the same.  The only thing I would caution you on is to watch the cumin.  I’m going to cut down the amounts in this recipe because what it called for was really way too much cumin.  Serve this on a cold winter night – it’ll be great to come home to and your soul will be happy :)

P.S.  Don’t worry about the pumpkin flavor – it adds nutrients and you honestly don’t even taste it – ask my husband!!  ;)

Crock Pot Chicken White Bean Pumpkin Chili
Recipe adapted from Ellie’s blog, The Wanna Be Cook

1 large chicken breast, cooked and shredded
1/2 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp chili powder
2 bay leaves
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cans Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
15 oz can pure pumpkin puree’
4.5 oz. can chopped green chilis
1 can low-sodium chicken broth
optional toppings:  fat-free sour cream or greek yogurt, chopped cilantro, lower fat cheese.


Add all ingredients to a slow cooker sprayed with nonstick spray.  Stir well to incorporate and cook either on LOW for 8 hours or HIGH for 4 hours.  Serve and enjoy.

Crock Pot Chicken White Bean Pumpkin Chili

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Roasted Portobello and Goat Cheese Sandwiches

Well the diet is still on.  I’m pretty proud of myself actually, I’m sticking with it (knock on wood!) and seeing results.  It helps that there are so many tasty healthier options out there these days.  Options like this roasted portobello and goat cheese sandwich.

Let me tell you something, this sandwich was awesome.  It was so good that I cooked them again the next night.  I just bought regular goat cheese so I added just a very small amount of 1% milk and mixed it well to make it creamier and more spreadable.  I also served it on sandwich thins.  Excellent!

Roasted Portobello and Goat Cheese Sandwiches
Recipe from Clean Eating, November/December 2011 issue

1 lb. portobello mushrooms, stemmed and cut into 1/4 inch strips
1.5 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup goat cheese, spreadable if you can find it
1/2 green onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
4 sandwich thins
4 cups spring mix or arugula


  • Preheat oven to 375.  In a bowl, toss the mushrooms and oil then spread out in a large casserole and roast 20 minutes, tossing halfway through.
  • While that’s cooking, mix the goat cheese, green onion, lemon juice, thyme, salt and pepper (and milk if needed to make it spreadable) in a medium bowl.
  • Layer sandwich thins with spread, mushrooms and arugula.            *You can toast the buns if you want to, but we did not.

Per Sandwich…
Calories:  259
Total Fat:  11 g
Sat. Fat:  6 g
Monounsaturated Fat:  3.5 g
Polyunsaturated Fat:  1 g
Fiber:  5 g
Sugars:  6 g
Protein:  13 g
Sodium:  456 mg
Cholesterol:  16 mg

Roasted Portobello and Goat Cheese Sandwiches

Asian Lettuce Wraps

So I’m back on the diet bandwagon, you will probably be seeing a lot more healthy posts for a while.  At least you better, because I really need to stick with it!  Keep me in check!  I do have a few remaining “unhealthy” recipes to post, so don’t fuss at me too much.  Here’s one of the healthy ones…

So not only was this a low-cal recipe, it tasted really great.  It was super easy to make and got me wondering about other meal possibilities that I could put in a lettuce wrap.  So yummy!

Asian Lettuce Wraps
Recipe from Gourmet Day to Day

For the sauce:
4 tsp hoisin sauce
4 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
3 tsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp cornstarch
freshly ground black pepper

For the filling:
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large shallot, minced
1 tsp ginger, freshly grated
1 lb. lean ground turkey
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 cup frozen peas and carrot blend
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup green apple, finely diced (sounds weird but just go with it!)
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp Sriracha (I actually forgot this and am SO bummed because I love it!)
Lettuce, for wrapping


  • In a small bowl, mix together the sauce ingredients and set aside.
  • Add oil to a medium skillet and let it heat up over medium heat.  Add the garlic, ginger and shallot and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Add the ground turkey and cook until no longer pink, breaking up with your spoon.  Once done, create a well in the middle of the pan and add the peas and carrot mixture, onion and bell pepper.  Cook until tender, about three minutes.
  • Add the sauce, apples, sriracha and green onion and cook for another minute or so, stirring to mix, until the sauce is heated through and has slightly thickened.
  • Serve on fresh lettuce as a wrap.

Asian Lettuce Wraps