Tag Archives: healthy cooking

Cooking Corner: Easy Casserole Recipe

1 Mar

I attempted a recipe I found on food.com this week that was via Weight Watchers. I jazzed it up a bit as the recipe seemed bland at first glance. Overall it was pretty good and only 153 calories per half cup serving.

Weight Watchers Chicken Cheese Casserole
Follow recipe but add garlic, onion powder and black pepper. Also sautée mushrooms and onions to mix in. If you like spicy, add some crushed red pepper flakes.

A decent low calorie meal that makes good leftovers. It’s easy for a week night meal too when you don’t have a lot of time.

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Healthy Recipe: Crispy Ranch Chicken

14 Feb

I love fried chicken. Seriously, one of the best foods ever. But, it’s definitely not the best thing for you and it’s a pain in the butt to make. I’ve always been skeptical of baked chicken recipes that promise fried chicken crunch. I’ve tried a few, and they always ended up mushy and definitely crunch-less.

However, I found a recipe on SparkRecipes.com yesterday that definitely has crunch! It uses Rice Krispies for the coating and you bake it on a cookie sheet. It’s an extremely simple recipe that is delicious, has a serious crunch factor and is only 245 calories a serving. I served it with a little bit of pasta and some corn for a tasty and easy dinner.

Spark Recipes: Crispy Ranch Chicken

How to Avoid the Dreaded Holiday Weight Gain

4 Dec

The holidays—one of my absolute favorite times of year. I love everything about the time period of Thanksgiving through Christmas. I fully embrace the Clark Griswold style of decorations—more is better. I love the parties, the radio station that plays nothing but Christmas music 24/7, the awesome movies and I even love the horribly, ugly holiday sweaters. But, one of the things I most love about the holidays is the food.

This is the time of year when everyone lets their diets and healthy habits (if they had them to begin with) go to hell and load up on homemade cookies, fruit cakes, prime rib, turkey and egg nog. Then the rush begins January 1 to undo all the damage of the past two months.

The key is not go insane over the holidays to begin with. It’s a lot easier to enjoy a few select treats and not gain any weight than it is to take off a two month binge. For every pound you put on, you can expect it’s going to take you 1 – 2 weeks to lose it depending on your metabolic rate. So if you put on 5 pounds, you  may need 5 – 10 weeks to take it off. Is it really worth it?

So I propose a few simple steps to enjoying the holidays and not feeling deprived, but also start and end the holiday season in the same jean size.

1. Be choosy and know that less is more. By all means enjoy the goodies that are flowing during December. Whether it’s mom’s homemade cookies or baskets of yumminess in your company’s break room, enjoy it. However, be selective. What are your absolute favorite treats of the holidays? Narrow it down to your top 3. Avoid everything else that isn’t in your top 3 so you’re not wasting precious “splurge calories” on stuff that’s not worth it. Then look at your top 3 and decide how much you typically eat of it. Cut it down to half or a third if you can. For example, my top 3 are egg nog ice cream, my mom’s red velvet cake and my mom’s cookies. If I really want to, I can eat a dozen of her cookies in one sitting. No problem. Instead last night I picked 4 cookies and munched on them slowly during a movie. Granted I still probably put away 300 – 400 calories, but it’s better than 1500. It’s a start.

2. Exercise. This is a great time of year to hit the gym. For one thing, they are typically not crowded. Most people are so busy during the holidays, they tend to skip their workouts. You can get a head start  on a great exercise program before the gym gets to over flowing capacity with the New Year’s Resolution crowd that hits on January 1. Try to get 3 solid workouts in a week. If you can do more, definitely go for it. Also, on the days of the “big meals,” i.e. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, at the very least go for a walk. Get 30 minutes of cardio in on those days. It will help a lot. Many towns have 5Ks and/or family walks on Christmas morning. They typically benefit the hungry or other charities. It’s a great cause, it helps avoid excess weight and best of all, you’re done in less than an hour.

3. Avoid the process. Processed food that is. The holidays are full of processed foods from cheese logs, overly preserved sausages, dips, candies, etc. When you’re cooking for yourself, still make your family favorites, but try some substitutions in the ingredient list that will help cut down on the processed foods. They are loaded with tons of extra sodium and chemicals that don’t help your waistline. Don’t use the Cheez Whiz, instead use real cheese. Yes, it’s still high in fat and calories, but it is a natural product without a lot of harmful extras. Buy products that are labeled lower in sodium. Check labels though when it’s label lower fat as a lot of times that means extra salt and sugar.

4. Have a splurge day. Not a week or a month. It’s what you do everyday that matters, not what you do once in a while. If Christmas dinner is your family’s big meal, then splurge that day and don’t feel guilty. Get a walk or other exercise in and chow down. If you’ve been “good” all month long and have avoided weight gain, chances are you’re going to be okay if you overdo it one day. You may be up a pound or two, but typically that’s salt that goes away. But even if it is permanent, one pound is easy to get rid of, not 5 or 6. Enjoy that one day. Eat the second helping of prime rib and have an extra cookie. But if you’ve been splurging all month long, it’s not good to add to the pile. Consider Christmas Day your big reward for being cautious during the whole month.

I honestly haven’t gained weight over the holidays since I started losing weight and changed my lifestyle. I follow my own advice and pick my favorites to indulge all the while maintaining my exercise program. I splurge on the big day but keep it healthy otherwise aside from an occasional cookie here and there. So when I show up at the gym on January 1, it’s because that’s a normal workout day for me, not a start to undo damage.

Enjoy this wonderful time of year, but practice a little restraint. Your favorite jeans will thank you for it!

Healthy Recipe: Cornbread Hamburger Pie

15 Nov

I apologize for not posting much lately, but I’ve been working 10 hours a day at work plus freelancing at home. It has been crazy. I can barely keep my eyes open by the time I get home. So I warn you in advance that my posts over the next few days are going to be short and sweet!

Spark Recipes: Cornbread Hamburger Pie

I made this recipe last night and it was pretty decent. Definitely not the best thing ever, but it was good, fast and simple so it’s worth mentioning. I left out the salsa as my tummy can’t take spicy food, but I put in diced tomatoes, fresh green peppers and frozen corn. Adding the veggies really enhanced the flavors and made it healthier. I also added garlic powder and onion powder. It makes 6 servings, and is only 359 calories per serving. It’s a good comfort food when it’s cold outside and warms up well for leftovers.

Healthy Recipe: Beef Enchiladas

2 Nov

Spark Recipes: Beef Enchiladas

I’ve really been cooking up a storm lately and trying tons of new recipes. I got the sparkpeople recipe app for my iPad, and so far, I’ve had a lot of success in finding tasty dishes that are healthy. It’s a free app, check it out.

Last night I made beef enchiladas. They were super easy to make and delicious. They are only 177 calories per serving, which is awesome, especially for a Mexican dish. I can’t handle super spicy food, so I did only 1 tsp of chili powder and left out the cumin. If you like dishes with a kick, spice it up. I also didn’t add the salt. The rest of it though, I remained true to recipe.

I really recommend it for a busy weeknight as it’s very simple to prepare. It makes great leftovers too.

Healthy Recipe: Hungarian Goulash

29 Oct

Spark Recipes: Hungarian Goulash

Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away and now is the time we crave comfort food to keep us warm on crispy fall nights. I found a great recipe on SparkRecipes.com for Hungarian goulash. It was really easy to follow, low in calories and made great leftovers.

I can’t eat really spicy food, so to me, it needed half the paprika it called for, but if you’re into things with a zip, put in the full amount. I also added a little shallot salt and garlic powder to it. The sodium count on the recipe is high (1330 mg), but you can buy low sodium ketchup, which will cut it way down.

All in all, a good and simple recipe that clocks in at 278 calories and 6 grams of fat.

Healthy Recipe: Cheeseburger Pie

25 Oct

I downloaded the SparkPeople app for my iPad to get some new, healthy recipe ideas this past weekend. Last night was a first attempt at their low cal cheeseburger pie. I made some modifications to it, but overall I think it was a decent dish and definitely good on the calorie count.

Spark People: Healthy Cheeseburger Pie

I used 93% lean ground beef instead of ground turkey, because I think ground turkey is gross. I also used 1% cottage cheese instead of non-fat, because again I think non-fat things are disgusting. I added garlic powder, onion powder and 2 TBS of ketchup for flavoring. I think it definitely made a difference for the better. Next time, I might even through in a tablespoon or two of mustard for more a cheeseburger feel.

Overall, it was a good and easy recipe for a quick weeknight meal. The best part is that it’s only 163 calories a serving (mine was probably closer to 200 since I used beef and 1% cottage cheese, but either way not bad).