The Skinny Videos
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Real pesto–which is made with basil and garlic but also loads of oil, nuts and cheese–is delicious…but also very calorie dense. (The Barefoot Contessa’s recipe costs you 430 calories for a 1/2 cup serving.)
But by using more herbs, calorie free lemon juice and Dijon mustard, less cheese and oil and skipping the nuts altogether…this skinny “pesto-ish” dressing has just 120 calories but still packs a flavorful punch and a toothsome texture.
And by using an equal amount of green beans (40 calories a cup) as potatoes (140 calories a cup), you can have the sensation of a pesto potato salad with less than half of the calories!
Even the choice of potatoes–a mix of organic fingerlings, white, red and purple potatoes– makes a healthy difference in this recipe. Purple potatoes, while having about the same calories as russet potatoes, have 4 times the amount of antioxidants and are more effective in regulating blood pressure than regular potatoes.
Instead of using fresh beans (which need to be blanched), well thawed frozen haricot vert work just as well, if not better. And by oven roasting the potatoes and mixing everything together on the baking sheet you skip the mess and clean up involved with traditional potato salads.
So next time you want a potato salad on your summer buffet or to take to a pot luck dinner, try this colorful and skinny alternative… which will save you time, clean up and calories!
When we were kids, the end of the school year was pretty simple, right? You hugged a few teachers, traded camp addresses with friends and cleaned out your locker. (“Hey! My tennis shoe! Ooo! Valentine’s candy! Uh-oh. Is that a lunch bag…from December?”) And, as I recall, my parents didn’t have to do anything to help me through it.
These days, the end of the school year is a much more complicated two month affair. Not only are there school plays, talent shows, fairs, dances and Pre-School/Kindergarten/6th Grade/Eighth Grade/High School graduations to contend with, there are now celebrations for each and every experience our kids have had in the year. There are parties for each grade, every school sports team and every club. (“Come to The Debate Club Party! Arguably The Best!”) And it all adds up to a LOT more work than our parents were ever asked to do.
So when I was asked to bring an entree for 20 to two events at different schools within two days, I decided to save myself some brain power and effort and make the same dish twice: Buttermilk and Herb Chicken on Arugula with Greek Yogurt Herb Sauce and Tiny Tomato Relish.
And though it sits in the fridge to marinate for a few hours or up to a day, the ingredients take just 5 minutes to toss together.
And since the sauce is even better made the day ahead, it makes the day you serve it much less stressful.
So even though this dish looks and tastes elaborate, if you divide and conquer, it’s actually easy and well worth the effort. (Just like parenting!) Continue reading
But in Southern California–with daily highs hitting 80 and nights dipping to 40–spring is also a season of contradictions. (How else could we explain short-shorts worn with Uggs?) And for those chilly evenings, here’s a soup that’s hot and hearty but still seasonal and skinny: Light and Lovely Spring and Split Pea Soup.
Dried green split peas–high in fiber, protein, B vitamins and complex carbohydrates–are one of the world’s healthiest foods. But like all dried legumes, once cooked, they have about 300 calories per cup.
And though turning dried peas into soup made with low fat broth can reduce calories, most recipes for split pea soup also tend to have an obnoxious amount of pork and fat. (Paula Deen’s recipe, for example, calls for bacon and sausage and butter and adds up to 1020 calories and 30 grams of fat per 2 cup serving.…almost two-thirds of the calories an average 5’5 woman should have in a day.)
But by simply dumping the pork, bumping up the other fresh veg–like onions, celery and carrots–and switching out some of the dried legumes for fresh or frozen peas (only 110 calories a cup), you not only drastically cut the calories and heart stopping fats of your standard split pea soup, it turns out much prettier as well.
So next time you’re feeling a little torn between seasons, try this warm but seasonal spring soup.
It’s not only delicious…it’s also much easier to pull off than short-shorts and Uggs~!
Of all the spring vegetables, asparagus is one of the easiest to prepare…simply grilled, oven roasted or shredded raw as a salad, it needs little more than salt and lemon to qualify as a side dish. But if you’re looking to dress up those slender stalks in a more elegant way, try this: Cold Poached Asparagus with Skinny Basil Mayonnaise.
When my children were little and I was housebound, I threw some pretty elaborate dinner parties (it was the only way I could make sure I had decent adult conversation and good wine once a week), and a starter salad of asparagus with basil aioli (which is simply homemade mayonnaise) was always in my spring rotation.
With just 40 calories a cup and loaded with folic acid, antioxidants and tummy filling fiber, asparagus is one of nature’s great gifts to dieters. But homemade mayo, which is made mostly of oil and egg yolks, is not.
And once I realized my otherwise innocent asparagus dressed with 3 tablespoons of The Barefoot Contessa’s Basil Mayo had more than 300 calories–as a starter–I all but abandoned the dish.
So whether you’re throwing a smashing dinner party or just want a flavorful dressing to use on loads of other dishes, spring forward with this simple sauce….which will not only leave you satisfied, but also a little skinnier! Continue reading
Whether making a holiday meal or just a quick weeknight supper, finding a veggie side dish that packs a flavorful punch without a lot of fat or calories (and little effort or clean-up) is sometimes a mystery….so here’s one of my favorites: Oven Roasted Haricot Vert with Pistachio and Parmesan Gremolata.
Always skinny when naked–about 40 fat free calories per cup–Haricot Vert are simply very slender green beans that are loaded with nutrition.
But even in California, truly fresh haricots vert aren’t always easy to find….so, more often than not, I use the frozen ones that are available year ’round and don’t require blanching before roasting. (By the way, if you keep the frozen ones on hand, you’re likely to make them more often!)
And by sprinkling your beans with a rich but healthy Gremolata–a minced seasoning of parsley, garlic, lemon zest and a pinch of Parmesan and nuts–this quick and easy veg will have much more texture and flavor than any simple green bean dish…but with little extra work.
Voila! Side Dish Solved!
Looking for a “skinny” but creamy side–like Cauliflower Mock Mashed or Cheesy Cauliflower Gratin–but want to add more color to your plate? Here’s a flavorful 70 calorie a cup dish that’s a great alternative and dairy free: Skinny Carrot and Parsnip Puree.
And by using almond milk rather than cow’s milk, you cut calories (unsweetened almond milk has just 40 calories a cup) while adding more nutritional value.
Depending on whether you’re roasting your entree in the oven…or cooking it outside or on the stove, I’ve given you 2 methods for this dish to choose from. (When roasting a chicken, I just roast the veg. If grilling or pan cooking an entree, I’ll boil the veg. You do what you need to do.) Continue reading
Traditional tabouli (tabbouleh) is usually made with Bulgur wheat..which is a healthy whole grain (if you can eat wheat) with about 150 calories per cup. But quinoa–which not a grain at all, but a seed from a plant related to chard and beets–has slightly more nutrition…with 8 grams of protein and almost twice the calcium of cereal grains in each 222 calorie cup.
And by using just 1 tablespoon of olive oil instead of the 4 to 6 most recipes call for and bumping up the herbs and vegetables–including vitamin K and C rich green onions and parsley as well as lycopene loaded tomatoes–you not only pump up the nutrition and improve the texture, you cut the calories to less than 100 per cup! Continue reading
Just to prove I’m Irish, I’m going to repeat myself: To lose weight now and keep it off for life, you simply have to Eat More Things That Grow and Fewer Things That Walk…
But that doesn’t mean you have to cook with no meat, just low meat. And here’s a dish that proves how easy it is to drastically cut calories, fat and bad carbs from a “meat and potatoes” dish without sacrificing taste or texture: Skinny Shepherd’s Pie.
A favorite on St. Patrick’s Day, the traditional version is a mostly lamb and potato stew topped with mashed potatoes made with butter and cream. And though meat, potatoes and fat are tradition with my people (the Irish and the Texans), I knew that unless I was happy being shaped like Mrs. Potato Head, I had to find a better way…
The first fix was in the meat: Though rich in protein and nutrients, lamb roast is also high in fat and cholesterol…with more than 25% of your daily recommended cholesterol in just 3 ounces.
By switching to lamb shanks–which have less marbling and are easier to trim– you immediately cut out (literally) about a quarter of the saturated fat.
Fix number two is in the choice of vegetables: Rather than using potatoes (118 calories and 27 g of carbs per cup) in the stew, we subbed turnips (34 calories and 8 grams of carbs a cup) and generously added in more low calorie and high fiber veg like celery, mushrooms, carrots and protein rich peas.
And by making a magically delicious topping of mashed cauliflower with just a wee bit of potato (with its flavorful and nutritious skin), a 2 big cup serving of this re-designed dish has less than 230 calories rather than 700!
So next time you’re craving the taste of St. Patrick’s Day, outwit the traditional Irish dish with this Skinny Shepherd’s Pie..
Slainte!! Continue reading