OSCAR IMPOSTER: SKINNY CRAB LOUIS WITH CUCUMBER TOMATO RELISH, AVOCADO AND GREENS

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IMG_2809There’s nothing quite like Oscar Night: the films, the fashion, the stars and, for those who attend, the spectacular food at Wolfgang Puck’s Governor’s ball. (For many of those stars who haven’t eaten in days, I’m guessing–even if they won–that feast is the highlight of their night.)

And thanks to Wolfgang’s generosity with his menu and recipes, anyone with a kitchen and a little adventure in their soul can now eat like the stars while watching them from the comfort of their own sofa.

Of course, not wanting to be the size of a sofa after a night of noshing, you might want to skinny-fy Wolfgang’s recipes a bit…and this dish proves just how easy it is: Skinny Crab Louis.

IMG_2852 Crab is a naturally healthy food…with just about 100 calories per 4 ounce serving but more than 20 grams of protein. But Wolfgang’s recipe, though delicious, calls for 3 tablespoons of Thousand Island or French dressing to season just 1/2 pound of crab and–at 100-120 calories a tablespoon–that means dressing a full pound of crab adds almost 700 calories to the dish.

IMG_2876In this skinny version, a little low fat mayo (or low fat vegan mayo) mixed with cocktail sauce, Dijon mustard and lemon juice adds flavor and creaminess but only 100 extra calories to the entire batch. Even after adding a few slender slices of avocado, a tasty cucumber and tomato relish and lightly dressed greens, each generous serving has roughly 150 calories rather than 400.  And if you trade in the avocado for roasted bell pepper strips, that lovely plate has even fewer calories.

So for your next Oscar Party, or just a simple supper at home any night..start with this skinny but rich dish. You may not win an Oscar, but you may win the award for Healthiest Hostess! Continue reading

Posted in Feeling Fishy, Fit For Kids, Quickies, Skinny Salads, Skinny Sides, Skinny Snacks | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

SOUVENIR EATING: GENERAL TSO’S SKINNY CHICKEN AND STIR FRIED VEGETABLES

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IMG_2481 The list of cultural treasures that New York City has given the world is long: The Met and MOMA, Lady Liberty and Lady Gaga, alternate side parking and, of course, great Chinese food.

And before you say, “New York didn’t invent great Chinese,” in the case of General Tso’s Chicken, it actually did…with legendary chefs at two 1970′s Hunan restaurants claiming they came up with it first.

But regardless of who invented it or when, there are 2 things we do know about restaurant versions of the dish: it’s deep fried chicken coated in a slightly sweet but spicy sauce made of chili, vinegar and garlic and it is insanely fattening.  (According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest--the same good folks who ruined movie popcorn for me–a typical restaurant serving of General Tso’s Chicken has as many as 1300 calories, 11 grams of heart stopping saturated fat and 3200 mg of sodium!)

IMG_2541But by re-inventing the dish for a new and healthier age–coating the chicken in a little egg white and cornstarch, ‘fake frying’ it in canola oil spray and serving over skinny stir fried veggies (which are cooked in more broth than oil), it now has better texture, flavor and nutrition than before and, even with a 100 calorie cup of Magic Rice, clocks in at just 300 calories a plate!

So next time you’re craving Chinese, try this skinny-fied version instead. With just a little more than 30 minutes of actual effort, you could be eating it before a delivery guy finds your door! Continue reading

Posted in Beautify the Bird, Fit For Kids, Low Meat Mains, Skinny Sides | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

SOUVENIR EATING: SKINNY SALMON TARTAR

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IMG_2202When souvenir eating in Sweden, one thing I didn’t expect was the abundance of “tartare” (also spelled “tartar”) dishes on the menus.

We had herring tartar, squid tartar and (sorry, Rudolph!) even reindeer tartar. But one of my favorites was the salmon tartar.

Whether you use store bought smoked salmon or  super easy (and less expensive) homemade Skinny Swedish Gravlax for this recipe, this is an elegant appetizer loaded with flavor and protein but low in calories that takes just minutes to make. Continue reading

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SOUVENIR EATING: SWEDISH GRAVLAX WITH SKINNY MUSTARD DILL SAUCE

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IMG_2190Once in a great while, I come across a spectacular dish that needs little tinkering to skinny-fy or simplify because it’s already perfectly healthy and incredibly easy…like Swedish Gravlax with Mustard Dill Sauce.

Not the same as the smoked salmon you’d find in a grocery store, but similar to traditional lox you sometimes find in a kosher deli, gravlax is “cold-cured” in salt and sugar. But with the additional seasonings of fresh dill and Aquavit (a Scandinavian alcohol flavored with caraway and other herbs and spices), it has a uniquely delicious taste that somehow makes it more “special” than any deli breakfast food. (That hint of “specialness” may also be because a gravlax appetizer in a restaurant like Marcus Samuelsson’s Aquavit in New York will run you 20 bucks…)

IMG_1359IMG_1310So when in Stockholm for the husband’s “Jack Reacher” premier in December, I was thrilled to see gravlax (or gravad lox) show up at every meal….

In the morning it was served with breakfast eggs at The Grand Hotel.  At IMG_1356lunch, we had it in a IMG_1263sandwich at Melloqvist Kaffebar. (According to the New York Times, this little cafe was a favorite haunt of “Dragon Tattoo” author Stieg Larsson. I just had to go.)

At a post premier dinner at the groovy bistro in The Rival Hotel–owned, natch, by ABBA’s Benny Andersson–it showed up on one of the ubiquitous platters of pickled fish that seem to begin most evening meals.

I have to say, I didn’t mind at all. It was delicious. And eating fish morning to night IMG_1266seemed fitting in a city made up of 14 islands and connected by 50 bridges. Besides, with salmon so low in calories, but loaded with protein and rich in healthy Omega 3′s, it was as guilt free and skinny as souvenir eating could ever be! (And since I was wearing some seriously bulky sweaters and puffy coats while there, any food that kept my body’s “puff” in check was welcomed.)

But back in L.A., I was a little intimated to attempt the dish. Curing fish sounded, at best, complicated and, at worst, dangerous. Thankfully, I was wrong. This dish is as foolproof and safe as it is delicious and takes, quite literally, just minutes of actual hands-on effort. Continue reading

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SOUVENIR EATING: SUPER SKINNY CAULIFLOWER GRATIN

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No matter how much you like to cook, how many recipe books you own or how many hours of Food T.V. you watch, sometimes it’s hard to find new kitchen inspiration.  And as the recent holidays approached, such was my sorry state…I was bored to tears with all of my books, most of my favorite chefs and every holiday food.

So when my husband told me he was going on a promotional tour for his new movie, “Jack Reacher,” in mid-December and spouses were (!) invited, I did what any dedicated food blogger (and mom avoiding Christmas shopping) would do: I charged my camera, packed a bag and tagged along.

For 2 weeks, we did some serious “souvenir eating” in London, Stockholm, Madrid and New York. When it was over, I had my inspiration back…and a bucket list (and photos) of amazing dishes I couldn’t wait to take home and “skinny-fy!” Continue reading

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QUICK AND EASY: KALE, VEGGIE SAUSAGE AND EGG

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Kale, Veggie Sausage and EggWithout a doubt, one of the best tricks for losing weight and keeping it off is to make sure green vegetables make an appearance at every meal…

And here’s a quick and easy breakfast dish that’s loaded with greens, will jump start your metabolism, fill you up and keep you full for hours: Kale, Veggie Sausage and Egg.

Kale really is one of nature’s super foods..with 2 and a half cups of cooked kale providing roughly 6 grams of protein, 520% of your daily vitamin A, 340% of Vitamin C, 20% of calcium and 16% of your daily iron for under 90 calories.

IMG_18962 ounces of Gimme Lean brand veggie sausage gives you another 7 grams of protein and 6% of your iron for just 60 calories.

And one medium to large egg, about 70 calories, chips in another 6 grams of protein.

All in, this healthy breakfast has only 220 calories but almost 20 grams of protein and loads of disease fighting vitamins and tummy filling fiber…which means you can add a 45 calorie slice of toasted “light” bread with a bit of jam and have a really big meal for under 300 calories! Continue reading

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SKINNY SAN FRANCISCO CIOPPINO

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Whether or not you’re trying to lose weight, here’s a hearty but super healthy one pot dish that’s perfect on a cold night: Skinny San Francisco Cioppino.

An iconic seafood stew that evolved in the late 19th century when Italian and Portuguese fisherman ruled the bays of San Francisco and Monterrey, some say its name originated from “Ciuppin,” the Genoese word for fish stew.  Other folklore holds that it came from the heavily accented fishermen who called out to one another to “chip in” to the communal stew pot any leftover scraps from the day’s catch.

But wherever the name came from, the basic recipe is always the same: any combination of fresh fish and shellfish–like calamari, cod, halibut, sardines, crabs, clams, mussels and/or shrimp–cooked in a flavorful broth made of fish heads, herbs, onions, tomatoes, fennel and wine, sherry or vermouth.

In this version, all the flavorful veggies, herbs, spices and vermouth are there…but since no one (sadly) boils their own fish heads anymore, I’ve called for good quality seafood broth or chicken broth mixed with anchovy paste, instead.

And by bumping up the ratio of vegetables to seafood, the result is lower in calories  but just as satisfying as the original…which means you can afford to have a slender slice of toasted sourdough bread with it as well.

So if you’re looking for a taste of the bay area without making a trip, pour a glass of red wine, put on a little Tony Bennett and try this!

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QUICK AND EASY: LEMON AND DIJON MARINATED TURKEY BREAST SALAD WITH CAPERS AND CORNICHONS

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After every holiday meal where a big bird is involved, there seems to be an inevitable avalanche of internet recipes to help you clear your fridge of that platter of poultry… (Turkey Soup! Turkey Hash! Turkey Tacos!) But if your family, like mine, greets those suggestions with a collective, “Meh,” here’s a fresh new way to make the most of your left-over holiday turkey that’s easy, skinny and incredibly delicious: Lemon and Dijon Marinated Turkey Breast Salad with Capers and Cornichons.

The original version comes from one of my go-to summer cookbooks, “Salad As A Meal,” by culinary legend Patricia Wells.

In that recipe, Wells poaches a turkey breast before soaking it in a lemon, mustard, onion and cornichon vinaigrette. But even after drastically reducing the olive oil she calls for (a 1/2 cup has 1000 calories!), even leftover turkey breast meat–which often becomes dry and flavorless–is moist, tender and tasty.  Served over greens with tomatoes, avocados and cucumbers, 4 ounces of this re-born bird makes a delightful lunch or light supper and gives you 33 grams of protein as well as B-vitamins and heart healthy potassium and phosphorus for little more than 200 calories a plate!

I think that’s a recipe to be Thankful for!

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Posted in Beautify the Bird, Fit For Kids, Low Meat Mains, Quickies, Skinny Salads, Skinny Sides | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

ROASTED HERB PORK LOIN WITH BRUSSELS SPROUTS, FENNEL, APPLES AND MUSTARD SAUCE

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As people on the East Coast continue to recover from the devastating storm that was Sandy, I wanted to offer up a family meal that’s perfect for fall but is now simplified as well as skinny-fied: Roasted Herb Pork Loin with Brussels Sprouts, Fennel, Apples and Mustard Sauce.

Instead of marinating the meat for a day and cooking veggies in separate pans, this version requires almost no forethought, only 30 minutes of actual effort and, since it’s all made in one pan that goes from stove-top to oven, almost no clean-up.

And rather than roasting the pork uncovered with butter and oil to keep it from drying out, this healthier cooking technique allows the pork to fully brown but keeps it moist and tender inside. (Cooked this way, 4 ounces of trimmed pork loin has only about 150 calories but provides 23 grams of protein–about half of what an average woman needs in a day.)

And by roasting almost calorie free vegetables like Brussels sprouts, fennel and onions in that same pan, you can have a big  supper that is full of flavor, rich and satisfying but has only 300 calories a plate.

Best of all, once you have this simple technique down, you’ll find lots of ways to improvise and make it your own according to the seasonings and vegetables your family loves best.  (While trying to nail this one down, I made it 5 times in 3 weeks…sometimes adding sliced sweet potatoes or winter squash, more carrots or onions, celery or peppers, different spices or  mustard and, each time, it was delicious!)

I promise, this family supper is SO easy to prepare that even the biggest kitchen chickens will praise this little pig! Continue reading

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QUICK AND EASY: SKINNY CREAM OF BROCCOLI SOUP WITH CHEDDAR AND CROUTONS

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Here’s a dish that proves you don’t have to give up your favorite “chef crushes” to lose weight, you just have to re-define your relationships: Skinny Cream of Broccoli Soup with Cheddar and Croutons.

The original recipe –which I used to make regularly–came from my old pal and former Good Morning America colleague, Emeril Lagasse…and it was delicious.

But that recipe (for just four servings) calls for 5 Tablespoons of butter (510 calories and 55 grams of fat), 3 Tablespoons of flour (90 calories), a half cup of cream (410 calories and 44 grams of fat) and a cup and a half of cheddar cheese (680 calories and another 58 grams of fat!)  After figuring in the innocent broccoli, onion and broth, that means each two cup bowl of soup has almost 500 calories and 40 grams of mostly heart clogging saturated fats...almost a third of the calories and more saturated fat than a healthy 5’5 woman should have in a day!

But by making a few clever choices–like skipping the butter and flour, using fat-free half and half, store bought fat free croutons, and a pinch of cheddar to finish (rather than a brick of it melted in)–this skinny-fied version of Emeril’s delicious soup delivers almost the same taste..but has just 100 calories a bowl instead of 500 and just a whisper of fat!

So, as you make yourself (and your family) thinner and healthier, don’t think you have to break up with your favorite chefs…

You can still buy their cookbooks, cheer for them on T.V. and be inspired by all of their recipes…but make them in a new way that YOU control…

A way that will make you just as happy but much more healthy!

I don’t think any of your favorite chefs (including Emeril) would have a problem with that..

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