GOOD GRAIN: FARRO WITH KALE, SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS AND ONIONS

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IMG_4668Though summer is usually a time for cold and cleansing salads, we’ve had a deep “June Gloom” in L.A. this year and were craving something warm and hearty…but still fresh and skinny.  And here’s a recipe that uses a super healthy grain and makes it even better (and skinnier) by adding in a greater amount of nutrient rich and almost calorie free vegetables: Farro with Kale, Shiitake Mushrooms and Onions.

rawfarroAnd before those of you who are scared of carbs panic because farro is a species of wheat (called emmer), let me tell you why–unless you have celiac disease–it doesn’t matter…

Not all carbs are created equal. Farro, though similar to wheat or brown rice, is a nutty tasting, protein packed and texturally dense ancient grain. Lower in gluten than regular wheat, it’s also loaded with metabolism boosting Vitamin B3 as well as magnesium, zinc and iron and satisfies in a deep way as you’re trimming bread and meat from your diet.

addgreenonionAnd though a cup of cooked farro has about 300 calories, once mixed with a greater amount of calorie neutral kale, onions and weight loss enhancing mushrooms, as well as some rich and flavorful seasonings, this hearty dish has just 120 calories per cup.

IMG_4673So unless you have a true allergy to gluten, embrace this grainy, green and grand dish anytime you’re wanting something a little more hearty than your average kale salad….

It will fill you up and rev you up as you kick off your June Gloom and swing skinny into summer! Continue reading

Posted in Fit For Kids, Low Meat Mains, Skinny Salads, Skinny Sides, Skinny Snacks, Weight Loss | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

OVEN ROASTED POTATO AND GREEN BEAN SALAD WITH SKINNY BASIL PESTO

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IMG_4135This is a dish that is perfect for all of the endless “end-of-school-year” pot luck dinners or for BBQs all summer long: Oven Roasted Potato and Green Bean Salad with Skinny Basil “Pesto.”

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.)

IMG_4104But 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.

IMG_4110And almost as important as the nutritional value, is how easy this dish is…

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!

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Posted in Beautify the Bird, Fit For Kids, Low Meat Mains, Quickies, Skinny Salads, Skinny Sides | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

BUTTERMILK AND HERB CHICKEN ON ARUGULA WITH GREEK YOGURT HERB SAUCE AND TINY TOMATO RELISH

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IMG_0701When 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.

IMG_0702So 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.

IMG_0709It’s an impressive dish that the parents, teachers and kids all loved…and since it really takes only 30 minutes of active cooking time, so did I.

IMG_0484I know I’ve told you this before, but buttermilk is the key to making all chicken–especially boneless and skinless breast meat– flavorful and moist.

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.

IMG_0517The Greek yogurt sauce and tomato relish both take just minutes, too.

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

Posted in Beautify the Bird, Fit For Kids, Low Meat Mains, Skinny Salads, Skinny Sides | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

SOUPER SKINNY: LIGHT AND LOVELY SPRING AND SPLIT PEA SOUP

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IMG_3844Who doesn’t love Spring? With days growing longer, buds turning into blooms and winter produce giving way to spring’s greens, it’s the season of re-birth and renewal.

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.

IMG_3785Dried 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.)

IMG_3814But 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.

IMG_3859All in, this soup had barely more than 100 calories a cup and sacrifices nothing in taste or texture.

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~!

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QUICK AND EASY: COLD POACHED ASPARAGUS WITH SKINNY BASIL MAYONNAISE

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IMG_3709Of 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.

IMG_7784With 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.

IMG_3668Now, after skinny-fying and simplifying that sauce, it’s not only easier, has a shorter list of ingredients and a longer shelf life, instead of 80 calories a tablespoon, it has just 8!

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

Posted in Fit For Kids, Skinny Salads, Skinny Sides, Skinny Snacks | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

QUICK AND EASY: OVEN ROASTED HARICOT VERT (GREEN BEANS) WITH PISTACHIO AND PARMESAN GREMOLATA

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IMG_3518Whether 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.

IMG_3477But 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 IMG_3541Gremolata–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!

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Posted in Fit For Kids, One Oven/One Time, Quickies, Skinny Salads, Skinny Sides, Skinny Snacks | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

QUICK AND EASY: SKINNY CARROT AND PARSNIP PUREE

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IMG_3627Looking 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.

Carrots and Parsnips are both loaded with fiber and nutrition…but pureed carrots  alone can be a little too sweet and lack the body and bite that comes from mixing them with parsnips.

IMG_3526And 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

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QUICK AND EASY: SKINNY QUINOA TABOULI

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IMG_3400Here’s a quick and easy take on a classic Middle Eastern salad that boosts nutrition while cutting calories: Skinny Quinoa Tabouli.

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.

IMG_3381And 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

Posted in Fit For Kids, Quickies, Skinny Salads, Skinny Sides, Skinny Snacks, Weight Loss | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

ST. PATRICK’S SECRET: SKINNY SHEPHERD’S PIE

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IMG_3108Just 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…

IMG_3062The 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.

IMG_3028Fix 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 IMG_3086wee 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

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OSCAR IMPOSTER: MINI BEEF AND PORCINI BURGERS WITH VEGAN CHEDDAR AND SKINNY RED PEPPER REMOULADE

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IMG_2985Here’s a recipe re-do of one of Wolfgang Puck’s most popular post-Oscar appetizers that cuts calories and fat in half without sacrificing taste or texture: Mini Beef and Porcini Burgers with Vegan Cheddar and Skinny Red Pepper Remoulade.

Made with 100% grass fed beef--which has fewer calories and less fat than regular prime beef—these burgers are made even healthier by replacing 1/3 of the meat with flavorful and nutritious Porcini mushrooms.

IMG_2993IMG_3016Rather than a stove top remoulade made with 2 cups of heavy cream (1650 calories and 175 grams of fat) these baby burgers are dressed with a quick and easy sauce that’s whirled together in a food processor and has less than 15 calories a tablespoon.

IMG_2967And a simple switch of heart healthy vegan cheddar for the cholesterol heavy real cheddar lowers calories, fat and cholesterol  further without leaving you feeling cheated.

We’ve even cut the calories in the buns…skipping the mini brioche rolls that have 120 calories in favor of frozen or refrigerated dough that can be reshaped into 40 calorie servings.

IMG_2991So whether you’re looking to serve mini burgers on Oscar night, a child’s birthday party or just a weeknight supper, consider these simple changes to make your burgers better…for your health and your waistline!

 

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Posted in Fit For Kids, Low Meat Mains, Quickies, Skinny Sides, Skinny Snacks | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments