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Baked French Toast with Cinnamon-Maple Applesauce

My friend Marcel got a promotion at work so I invited him over for brunch on the holiday Monday. He’s a little more health conscious then me, but still loves anything sweet and cinnamon-y. I searched through a ridiculous number of cool, books and decided about creating a hybrid recipe using  the ingredients from this Cooking Light recipe but baking the toast in the oven instead. Bad news – I forgot to spray the cookie sheet. Good news – it was still darn good! The real star was the apple sauce. Although it’s springtime, the apple and cinnamon combined with the real maple syrup screamed autumn. I am going to make this a go to recipe come September/October, but its great any time of the year.

To bake, preheat the oven to 350F degrees and bake for about 7-8 minutes until the egg mixture has set.

I forgot to take a pic of course, so please enjoy this photo from Cooking Light – probably my favourite cooking publication 🙂

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Maple French Toast

Ingredients

3/4 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
12 (1-ounce) slices day-old white bread (such as Pepperidge Farm sandwich bread)
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
Cinnamon-Maple Applesauce (recipe below)

Preparation

1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a shallow dish.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Working with 4 bread slices at a time, place bread slices into milk mixture, quickly turning to coat both sides. Remove bread slices from milk mixture. Add bread slices to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Remove toast from pan. Repeat procedure with cooking spray, remaining 8 bread slices, and remaining milk mixture. Sprinkle powdered sugar evenly over toast.

Cinnamon-Maple Applesauce

I used prepared applesauce instead of making it from apples, about 2 cups, and simmered for 20 minutes

Ingredients

1 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup water
8 cups chopped peeled apple (about 8 medium apples)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Preparation

1. Combine syrup and 1/2 cup water in a Dutch oven; bring to a boil. Add apple, cinnamon, and nutmeg; cover and cook over medium-low heat 25 minutes or until tender. Mash apples with a potato masher. Cook, uncovered, 20 minutes or until most of liquid evaporates. Serve warm or chilled.

Lighter Sweet and Sour Chicken

I am obsessed with this Sweet and Sour Chicken dish from the mall food court of all things! Shanghai 360 is fairly new to Ottawa. I think the first one opened at Bayshore or the Rideau Centre this past year when both malls got major overhauls. The chain is also in other Ontario cities I believe. But their sweet and sour chicken is like none other. It’s more sweet than sour with a sticky, red sauce which has a hint of warm spice to it. I have no idea what’s in it and I don’t care. It’s one of the reasons I didn’t lose any weight this summer! Heehee! It got even worse through December when I found myself at the mall quite a lot for Christmas shopping, so it was my excuse to have this once or even twice a week. I’ve been trying to restrain myself as of late, but I had it again last week and it’s totally worth the calories. It’s my mission this winter to try to recreate the dish at home. In an attempt to eat a little healthier, I started with this one from the latest issue of Cooking Light. Not even close. It’s a good dish but not exactly gourmet – something to put together on a busy weeknight. I’ll keep trying so stay tuned.

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Steve threw some steamed broccoli on top because he’s not a fan of pineapple.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Ingredients:

2 large egg whites
4 tsp of cornstarch, divided
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 Tbsp ketchup
1/4 cup water
3 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp lower-sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp canola oil, divided
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 1/2 cups fresh pineapple chunks
2 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger
3 green onions cut into 1 inch pieces
3/8 tsp kosher salt

Preparation:

1. Combine eggs whites and 1 tablespoon cornstarch in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add chicken to the bowl; toss to coast.

2. Combine remaining 1 teaspoon cornstarch, ketchup, and the next 4 ingredients (through to soy sauce) in a bowl, stirring with a whisk.

3. Heat a large skillet non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 1 tablespoon of oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add pineapple, ginger, and onions to pan; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer bell pepper to a plate.

4. Add remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in pan. Add chicken mixture to pan, allowing any excess egg white mixture to drip back into bowl. Stir-fry 6 minutes or under chicken is browned and done.

5.  Add ketchup mixture and bell pepper mixture to the pan. Bring to a simmer; simmer one minute or until slightly thickened. Sprinkle with salt; serve immediately.

Serves 4. Calories: 324.

Lighter Mongolian Beef

I haven’t been posting much because I was out of province working at an arts festival, and now Christmas prep is in full swing, but I thought I’d share this quick recipes for those days when you get home late from holiday shopping and need to make something fast and healthy. I cut the hot sauce in half, thinking it would be too spicy but it ended up making the spiciness nonexistent, so next time I will definitely use the 2 tsp of chili paste it calls for. Even with that little misstep, this recipe was very good. I’m adding it to my regular weeknight rotation. 🙂

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Mongolian Beef

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chile paste with garlic (such as sambal oelek)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons peanut oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • 1 pound sirloin steak, thinly sliced across the grain
  • 16 medium green onions, cut into 2-inch pieces

Preparation

1. Combine first 8 ingredients, stirring until smooth.

2. Heat peanut oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add minced ginger, minced garlic, and beef; sauté for 2 minutes or until beef is browned. Add green onion pieces; sauté 30 seconds. Add soy sauce mixture; cook 1 minute or until thickened, stirring constantly.

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving

  • Calories 237
  • Fat 10.5 g
  • Satfat 3.5 g
  • Monofat 4.3 g
  • Polyfat 1.1 g
  • Protein 26 g
  • Carbohydrate 9.1 g
  • Fiber 1.7 g
  • Cholesterol 60 mg
  • Iron 2.7 mg
  • Sodium 517 mg
  • Calcium 67 mg

Lighter Crockpot Beef Stew

I’m still trying to incorporate more healthy recipes into my repertoire and my friend Steve suggested we make two slow cooker meals during the weekend and share them so that we can both have healthy meals during the week. That way we don’t get sick of eating the same dish like 4 days in a row. Well, we had the best of intentions but he forgot to bring over his slow cooker. I had a major slow cooked beef craving so I decided to go ahead and make this stew. I must warn you, it’s not a quick and easy, dump it and leave it kind of a recipe. It takes a while to brown your meat, then you have to chop all the veggies and brown your mushrooms, which took way longer than the 5-7 minutes they stated in the book. I had everything crammed into one large skillet and it took forever for the mushrooms to sweat off their moisture and brown. After that’s completed you have to throw in a 1/2 cup of flour to make a kind of roux I suspect, but it’s not really possible to do when you’re only supposed to use 1 tsp of oil for all of this. There was not enough moisture to soak up the flour so I gave up and added the rest of the ingredients anyway. It all worked out in the end and it tasted pretty darn good! If I hadn’t made it myself I wouldn’t have known it was lower in fat. It’s even better the next day.

Source: “Healthy Slow Cooker Revolution”

Lite Beef Stew

Country Beef and Vegetable Stew

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 pounds boneless chuck-eye roast, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 lb cremini mushrooms trimmed and quartered
  • 2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus extra as needed
  • 1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound red potatoes, washed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

DIRECTIONS

  1. After the meat has been cut into chunks, pat it dry with a paper towel and season all the pieces with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown the beef in two batches until it is well browned on each side, about 8 minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker.
  2. Add the mushrooms and onions to fat left in the skillet, cover and cook until mushrooms are dry and browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the flour and cook for one minute. Slowly stir in wine, scraping up any browned bits, and summer until almost completely evaporated, 5-7 minutes. Stir in one cup of broth, smoothing out any lumps; transfer to slow cooker.
  3. Stir in remaining 2 cups of broth, soy sauce, bay leaves, and 3/4 tsp salt into slow cooker,then stir in potatoes and carrots. Cover and cook until beef is tender, 9-11 hours on low or 6-8 hours on high.
  4. Discard bay leaves. Stir in peas and let sit until heated through, about 5 minutes. (Adjust stew consistency with extra hot broth as needed.) Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Per 1 2/3 cup serving: 380 calories, Fat 6g, Chol 75mg, Carb 40g, Protein 34g, Fiber 6g, sodium 862mg

Healthier Blondies

We have soooo much candy and chocolate leftover from Halloween baking that I don’t know what I’m going to do. I have gummies galore plus a ton of M&M mini’s leftover from making monster cupcakes so I decided I would do something fun, but not quite as terrible for us. Inspired by the Becel Buttery commercial I decided to try substituting some of the butter in my favourite blondie recipe with Becel, and some of the sugar with Splenda. Creaming the butter and sugar/splenda didn’t really happen. It mixed together but it was definitely a different consistency. And the final batter was very thick and difficult to spread. I baked them for 19 minutes and they turned out very cake-like. They were still moist but not gooey and sweet like a blondie is supposed to be. Taste wise they were fine. I think I would call them squares of some sort instead of blondies to temper any disappointment for anyone expecting that signature gooey goodness. Kids would still gobble them up, no problem. I have a new found respect for the cooks that develop lower fat or lower sugar recipes. It takes a lot more than a simple substitution to make a recipe a success. Hats off to you!

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Healthier Blondies (or M&M Squares / Chocolate Chips Squares?)

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup Becel Buttery

1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup Splenda granular (measures cup for cup like sugar)

1 large egg

2 teaspoons vanilla

Pinch salt

1 cup (4 3/8 ounces or 125 grams) all-purpose flour

1 cup M&M minis or chocolate chips, divided

1.Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper.
2.Mix butters with sugars until pale. Beat in egg and then vanilla.
3.Add salt, stir in flour. Add half the candies or chocolate chips. Stir until just mixed together.
4.Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining candies or chocolate chips on top. Bake at 350°F 20-25 minutes, or until set in the middle. (I baked mine for 19 minutes)

Lighter Chicken Shawarmas

Yet another recipe on my road to healthy eating – a lower fat take on the chicken shawarma from Rose Reisman. I had a family pack of chicken thighs defrosted in the fridge so I had to find a way to use them since you shouldn’t refreeze thawed chicken. This recipe was quick and easy. While mixing up the sauce I forgot I was halving the recipe and put in two cloves of garlic. Holy smoke it was so garlicky that it nearly burnt my tongue! Luckily I love garlic so it didn’t phase me much. lol Shawarma’s are usually made with aioli (aka toum) which is basically garlic mayonnaise and has 90 cal and 10g of fat per Tbsp. Here Rose mixes low fat sour cream with the hummus and garlic which mimics the creaminess and delivers on big garlic taste. I will definitely make this again.

They were so good I forgot to take a pic so I snatched one from the interwebs 😉

Healthy Chicken Shawarmas

Ingredients

Sauce

• 3/4 cup store-bought or home-made hummus
• 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
• 2 tbsp low-fat sour cream
• 1 tsp finely chopped garlic
• Pinch of salt and pepper

Chicken

• 12 oz skinless boneless chicken breasts (about 3 breasts)
• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 2 tsp vegetable oil
• 1 1/2 cups sliced onion

Pitas

• 4 large pitas
• 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
• 1/2 cup chopped cucumber
• 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1. Combine the hummus, lemon juice, sour cream, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.


2.
Place the chicken between 2 pieces of waxed paper, pound it flat and cut into thin strips. Coat the chicken strips with the flour. Lightly coat a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and set over medium-high heat. Add the oil and onion and sauté for 5 minutes or just until browned. Add the chicken and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring constantly, until the chicken is no longer pink. Respray the pan if necessary.

3.
Slice each pita in half. Divide the chicken and onion mixture among the half-pitas. Sprinkle with tomatoes, cucumber and cilantro and spoon the hummus sauce over the pitas.

Nutritional information:

Per serving (1/2 pita): 212 calories, 25 g carbohydrates, 3.8 g fibre, 14 g protein, 6.7 g total fat, 1.3 saturated fat, 25 mg cholesterol, 240 mg sodium

Lighter Chicken and Dumplings

My friend Steve came over on the weekend to do some yard work for me so I offered to make him dinner. As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I have to watch my cholesterol so that means cutting down on saturated fat and sugar. The first version of this dish I made a few months back called for a cup of 35% cream! It was freakishly delicious but I can’t be eating something so rich too often so…I decided to make a Frankenrecipe, combining the basic chicken pot pie filling recipe from Cooking Light, making it on the stovetop and topping it with the dumpling recipe from Chef Michael Smith. (Basically because we ran out of time and dumplings are quicker and easier.) Predictably, it wasn’t as mind blowing as the original but it was still pretty good. I will definitely make this again. The complete pot pie recipe is below.

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Old Fashioned Chicken Potpie

Yield: Serves 8 (serving size: about 1 1/2 cups)

Ingredients
Crust:
6.75 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups), divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
5 tablespoons ice water
Filling:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
3 cups fat-free, lower sodium chicken broth
2 1/3 cups cubed red potato (about
1.5 ounces (about 1/3 cup) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup water
2 cups diced cooked rotisserie chicken
1 cup frozen petite peas
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
2 teaspoons 1% low-fat milk

1. To prepare crust, weigh or lightly spoon 6.75 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 6.75 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl; cut in 7 tablespoons butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 5 tablespoons ice water; stir just until moist. Press mixture gently into a 5-inch circle; cover with plastic wrap. Chill 15 minutes. Roll dough into a 12 x 8-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Chill dough until ready to use.

2. Preheat oven to 400°.

3. To prepare filling, melt 2 teaspoons butter in a Dutch oven over meduim-high heat. Add carrot, onion, and thyme; cook 8 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Add broth and potato; bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. Combine flour and 1/3 cup water in a small bowl; stir with a whisk until smooth. Return potato mixture to a boil. Slowly drizzle flour mixture into potato mixture, stirring constantly. Cook 1 minute or until mixture thickens. Stir in chicken, peas, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Spoon chicken mixture into an 11 x 7-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Place dough on top of chicken mixture, pressing to edge of dish. Cut 4 slits in top of crust to allow steam to escape. Gently brush crust with milk. Bake at 400° for 50 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes.

Nutritional Information
Amount per serving
Calories 310 Fat 12.6 g Satfat 7.3 g Monofat 3.3 g Polyfat 0.8 g Protein 20.2 g Carbohydrate 35.7 g Fiber 3.1 g Cholesterol 55 mg Iron 2.2 mg Sodium 522 mg Calcium 30 mg

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