Healthy Apple Crisp

One of my favorite things to eat is an oatmeal-based apple crisp. My favorite flavor in the world is cinnamon, and there’s nothing better with cinnamon than oatmeal and apple, right?

I wanted a treat tonight, and we had some apples to use up before they went bad, so this is what I decided to do with it. It was a definite hit with the kids, too.

I did all the mixing in a zip-top bag, so the only things to wash are two measuring spoons, a measuring cup, and the pan. It took all of 10 minutes to throw together.

5 Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced
1/2  tsp cinnamon
2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup quick or old-fashioned oats
4 Tbs brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray an 8×8″ baking pan with nonstick spray.

Mix the 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and white sugar in a large ziplock bag. Add the apple slices and squish around to coat. Spread the apples in the pan.

In the same bag, mix the remaining ingredients and spread across the top of the apples.

Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes, or until apples are soft and topping is crispy.

Servings: 9

Nutrition (per serving): 176 calories, 54 calories from fat, 6.2g total fat, 13.6mg cholesterol, 68.1mg sodium, 152.9mg potassium, 29.1g carbohydrates, 3.5g fiber, 14.9g sugar, 2.8g protein.

This was tasty as-is, but I think it would be to die for (although a bit higher in calories) with vanilla ice cream!

(And here I am labeling something “healthy” when what I mean is that it’s homemade, low in calories, and has fruit and fiber in it. I really hate the designation of “healthy” being applied to things because they are low-calorie — it’s one of my pet peeves, and here I am doing it. I will work on a different title for this recipe when I’ve had some sleep.)

 

Ham and Lentils Slow-Cooker Stew Recipe

I love this stew – and I love that I can cook it in my crockpot and not heat up the house!

1 lb dried lentils
2 cups fat-free chicken broth
5 cups water
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup cooked ham, diced
3 carrots, diced
1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 tsp rubbed sage
1/4 tsp pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaf
1 tsp salt

Put everything except the salt into a slow cooker. Cook for 3-4 hours on high. Salt before serving.

Servings: 8

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 258 calories, 16 calories from fat, 1.8g total fat, 9.6mg cholesterol, 686.1mg sodium, 790.1mg potassium, 40.9g carbohydrates, 19g fiber, 4.2g sugar, 19.9g protein.

It also is very low-calorie and frugal. It’s a win-win-win meal!

Super Tasty Salsa Recipe

This is almost the last of the recipes from Doodle’s birthday party.

The menu was:

Guacamole, salsa, and corn chips

Green chile pinwheels

Roast beef, horseradish, and basil pinwheels

Deviled Eggs

And, of course, birthday cake

We love my deviled eggs – I’ll post that one soon, too.

Making everything except the corn chips from scratch enabled me to give my daughter a lovely party with lots of food for a small outlay. And she’d prefer homemade to store-bought any day!

And now, on to the salsa. It’s really simple and quick, and wayyy less expensive than store-bought salsa. It also tastes a lot better than store-bought.

2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 jalapeno chiles, stemmed, seeded and finely diced
2 shallots, roughly chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
2 14.5 oz. cans diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoons lime juice

Put the shallot, jalapeno, and garlic into the food processor bowl and pulse a few times until they’re chopped very small.  Add the cilantro and give it a whirl or two to chop the cilantro. Add the tomatoes, lime juice, and spices and pulse again until only slightly chunky.

Servings: 14

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 25 calories, 2 calories from fat, <1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 86.2mg sodium, 212.3mg potassium, 5.7g carbohydrates, 1.4g fiber, <1g sugar, 1.2g protein.

This keeps for awhile in the fridge, but you can also use freezer jars or ice cube trays to freeze it.  I don’t can, but I’m sure it would be wonderful canned, too.

Sage and Thyme Marinated Chicken Breasts Recipe

We love chicken! I don’t think there’s a way I ever cook chicken that my kids don’t clamor for more. This is one of the easiest ways to add lots of flavor and make chicken into something a little different from the everyday (not that regular ol’ chicken isn’t wonderful).

I am really looking forward to trying them on the grill, once we get one. Soon!

 

4 chicken breasts
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon thyme
2 tablespoons chives, snipped
1 1/2 teaspoon parsley chopped
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspooon salt
1  teaspoon sugar
(Optional) 3/4 cup white wine or chicken broth

Either slice the chicken breasts in half, making two thin pieces out of each, or pound them thin.

2. In a large zip-top bag, mix the 1½  tablespoons olive oil, thyme, chives, parsley, sage, cayenne, salt, pepper, and sugar.  Add the chicken and mush around with your hands to cover all the pieces.  Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes.

3. Dry the chicken off with paper towels. Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Spray with nonstick spray and put the chicken in. Do this in batches if you have a smaller frying pan. After the chicken browns on one side, turn it and let it brown on the other. Don’t overcook – the chicken should be thin enough to cook through by the time it’s brown on both sides.

4. (Optional) Remove the chicken breasts to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.  Add the white wine or chicken broth to the pan and use a spatula to pick up all the brown bits. Let the sauce simmer until reduced to a syrupy consistency. Spoon over the chicken.

Servings: 4

Nutrition Facts (without the pan sauce)
Nutrition (per serving): 311 calories, 72 calories from fat, 8.1g total fat, 136.9mg cholesterol, 1026.1mg sodium, 617mg potassium, 1.5g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 1.1g sugar, 54.6g protein.

If you’re curious about those side dishes in the picture, they are Cucumber, Onion and Dill Salad (we call it Primordial Ooze Salad, after a sauce I make for salmon), and Low-Calorie Smashed Potatoes. I’ll be putting those recipes up soon.

 

Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe

For the most part, when I think of hot soup, I think of the winter and fall. But when I see all the beautiful vegetables in the produce section, I can’t help but think of chicken tortilla soup. And the heat (spicy-heat, not hot-heat) really does make you feel cooler.

In the winter, I frequently use canned tomatoes in soups, but this time of year, the tomatoes start looking better and better at the store. The farmer’s market near me opens in a week, and I’m sure those will be even better. Using fresh in this soup keeps it tasting summery.

2 corn tortillas
Nonstick spray
1 32-oz. box of non-fat chicken broth
2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, sliced
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 cups corn kernals (frozen, canned, or fresh)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1 avocado
Juice of 1 lime
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

Slice the corn tortillas into strips. Heat a small skillet over medium heat and spray with nonstick spray. Add the tortilla strips in batches, stirring gently until crispy. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer and add the chicken, onion, jalapeno, tomatoes, corn, garlic powder, and cumin. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and chop the avocado and toss with the lime juice.

Ladle the soup into bowls and top each serving with a few of the corn tortilla strips, a spoonful of the avocado, and a bit of the cilantro.

Servings: 8

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 168 calories, 41 calories from fat, 4.9g total fat, 34.2mg cholesterol, 609.2mg sodium, 524.4mg potassium, 16.2g carbohydrates, 3.6g fiber, 3.2g sugar, 16.7g protein.

I love this soup. So did my kids, except the one who hates all soup and all tomatoes on principle. He had a quesadilla.

 

Low-Fat Potatoes Au Gratin Recipe

Low-fat potatoes au gratin? Okay, let’s say lower-fat instead.

One of my favorite parts of Easter dinner is ham with potatoes au gratin. My (former) usual potatoes au gratin came out to over 500 calories and 25 grams of fat per serving, though! And I’m too close to 30 pounds lost since my diagnosis on December 8 — and I really want to reach that milestone. Well, I want it, but not enough to forego au gratin potatoes altogether!

Luckily, I had stuff on hand to try to come up with a lower-fat version, and they were absolutely delicious at only 300 calories and 7.6 grams a serving. Okay, that’s a lot for a side dish in my world, but not so bad that I can’t have it for a treat. And since my boys don’t like potatoes, I’ve got two servings in the freezer for next time I want a bit of a splurge.

3 medium potatoes, sliced thinly
1 shallots, diced
2  tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 can evaporated milk
3/4 cup low-fat cheese

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray 4 ramekins with nonstick spray. Layer the potatoes and shallots in the ramekins, with a pinch of salt and pepper.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and then stir in the flour. Cook for a couple of minutes. Add the evaporated milk and stir constantly until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and add the cheese and stir until melted.

Pour the sauce over the potatoes and shallots in the ramekins.  Bake at 400° for 30 minutes or until potatoes are fork-tender.

Servings: 4

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving, according to Living Cookbook): 300 calories, 67 calories from fat, 7.6g total fat, 23.5mg cholesterol, 250.3mg sodium, 1013.9mg potassium, 42.3g carbohydrates, 3.6g fiber, 12.2g sugar, 16.1g protein.

Low-Calorie Cinnamon Streusel Muffins Recipe

My entry today is later in the day because the muffins I made last night only rated a 7, 9, and 6, according to my kids. So today, I re-worked the recipe and got a 9.5, 10, and 9. Here’s the improved recipe:

Topping/Filling
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp butter
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon  nutmeg
pinch of ancho chili powder (optional)

Muffins
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 cup nonfat milk
1/2 cup water
1/4  cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup low-fat sour cream

Preheat the oven to 400°. Spray a 12-muffin tin with nonstick spray.

Mix together the butter, 2 tablespoons sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and 2 tablespoons flour until the mixture resembles crumbs. Set aside.

Mix the remaining flours, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, mix remaining sugar, egg, milk, applesauce, sour cream, and water. Stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture just until moistened.

Spoon  half of the batter into the twelve cups in a muffin pan. Top with half of the cinnamon mixture, and then the rest of the batter, and then finish with the rest of the cinnamon mixture.

Bake for 12-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool.

Servings: 12

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition according to Living Cookbook (per serving): 135 calories, 20 calories from fat, 2.3g total fat, 22.5mg cholesterol, 236.4mg sodium, 107.7mg potassium, 25.7g carbohydrates, 2.3g fiber, 7.5g sugar, 4g protein

 

Menu Plan for April 11-17 and Tuscan Soup Recipe

Dinners

Sunday Tuscan Soup (Recipe below)

Monday Black Bean Burritos

Tuesday Breakfast for Dinner

Wednesday Chicken breasts with balsamic pan sauce

Thursday Leftovers

Friday Farfalle with Tuna and Capers in White Wine Sauce (from Simply Recipes)

Saturday Fish, brown rice, and brussel sprouts

Breakfasts: Oatmeal pancakes with blueberry sauce, oatmeal with fruit, cold cereal

Lunches: Quesadillas, leftovers, smoothies, sandwiches

I am madly in love with the Zuppa Toscana at Olive Garden. I think that it and the tiramisu are the only reasons to eat at Olive Garden.

This week is “make the most of what you’ve got” week for us (meaning it’s not strictly “eat from the pantry and freezer”, but the less I can buy to round out what I’ve got, the better). I have been meaning to try my hand at a soup inspired by, but not entirely copied from (that’s no fun!) the Olive Garden soup. I had Italian sausage in the freezer, and I had spinach — I had planned kale in this, but spinach was what I had. And that worked out just fine.

This is what I came up with, and MAN was it yummy.

1 lb bulk Italian sausage
2 Tbs shallots, diced
3 clove garlic, minced
1 cup dry white wine
3 15oz. cans chicken broth (fat free)
2 cup water
1 potato, diced
1 cup spinach, chopped
3 Tbs basil, chopped
1 cup fat-free evaporated milk

Fry sausage in a large sauce pan, breaking it up as it cooks. Drain on paper towels. In the same pan, cook shallot and garlic until translucent. Add wine and deglaze pan. Add broth and water and turn heat to medium. Add sausage back to pan and add potato. Cook until potato is done, then add the spinach. Finish with the evaporated milk and serve.

Servings: 12

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving, according to Living Cookbook): 180 calories, 109 calories from fat, 12.1g total fat, 29.6mg cholesterol, 741.1mg sodium, 304.4mg potassium, 6.2g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 2.8g sugar, 8g protein.

And now we have 2 more meals’ worth of this tasty soup in the freezer!

I also served homemade bread sticks. I used Lynn’s 40-minute Rolls recipe, but I cut it in half — I used a whole egg, and added a little extra flour to compensate for the extra liquid in the egg. I shaped them into snake-shapes by rolling balls of dough between my palms, like you would with play dough, and then baked them. After they were done, I sprayed them lightly with butter-flavor nonstick spray, and sprinkled them with a little bit of garlic salt. They were fantastic!

Everyone except my pickiest eater loved this soup (and that pickiest eater doesn’t like ANY soup). We will definitely be having this again!