Thursday, December 30, 2010

Baked Tortilla Chips

Heat your oven to 400F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Cut several 8" tortillas (flour or corn) into pie-shaped wedges. Lay the wedges in a single layer on the baking sheet. Spray them generously with olive oil cooking spray. Sprinkle them with ground cumin, paprika, and onion salt. Bake for 5 minutes or until lightly browned and crispy.

Note: you can use chili powder instead of cumin and paprika.

Nina's Mexican Shrimp Cocktail

My friend Nina claims that Mexicans usually eat this dish with lots of jalapeno after a night of drinking, because they say it helps with the hangover. Nina's recipe didn't provide much information about the quantities of the ingredients - probably because it's the kind of dish she just throws together. Here's how I made it:

1 pound cooked, shelled & deveined shrimp
1 15-ounce bottle tomato ketchup (I used Heinz Hot & Spicy)
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup lemon or lime juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon or lime zest (my addition to the recipe)
as many chopped jalapenos as you feel you can handle

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Cover and chill for 3 hours so the flavors can develop.

Eat with tortilla chips or crackers.


White Bean Tapenade

1 can (15.5 ounces) white beans (great northern, cannelini, or garbanzo work well), rinsed
and drained
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 cup whole, pitted Kalamata or other black olives
6 anchovy fillets, rinsed
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil

Put all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and whiz until smooth. If the mixture seems too thick to spread easily, add a tablespoon or more of water. Cover and chill for 2-3 hours to allow the flavors to develop. Remove from the fridge 30 minutes before serving.

Serve as a dip with raw veggies, or as a spread with crackers, pita crisps, or pita bread.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Bandster's Pantry

I firmly believe that you don't need a lot of sugar, salt, and artificial flavorings to make your food taste good. What you do need is a good pantry. If you already have some basics on hand, you'll be more likely to experiment with new seasonings and new combinations when it's time to prepare a meal.

Here's what's in my bandster pantry. If you're not an experienced cook, this will seem like a gargantuan list, so I've highlighted the items that I absolutely MUST have on hand.

SPICES & HERBS - salt (regular & kosher), black pepper, cayenne pepper, Italian herb blend, Mrs. Dash (many flavors), Molly McButter, garlic salt, onion salt, onion power, garlic powder, celery salt, ground mustard, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground allspice, ground cumin, ground coriander, fennel seeds, poppy seeds, mustard seeds, bay leaves, rosemary, rubbed sage, thyme, basil, oregano, tarragon, dill, vanilla extract, almond extract, curry powder, chili powder, paprika, Chinese five-spice powder, & True Lemon & True Lime (packets or shaker).

BAKING - baking soda, baking powder, flours (whole wheat, white, soy, almond), cornmeal, cornstarch.

SWEETS - SF gelatin & pudding mixes, SF chocolate and caramel sauce, SF popsicles or fruit bars, Cool Whip Free, SF or NSA jams.

SWEETENERS - honey, molasses, agave, Truvia, Splenda, Splenda baking blend, Splenda brown sugar blend, granulated sugar, light brown sugar.

SEASONINGS - soy sauce, Braggs liquid aminos, Worcestershire sauce, steak sauce, mustard (Dijon, yellow, horseradish, honey), Wishbone Salad Spritzers, hot chili sauce, minced ginger root (in jars), minced garlic (in jars), cooking wine (white, red, sherry, rice), vinegar (rice wine, white wine, red wine, balsamic, cider, white), ketchup, salsa, pesto, horseradish, miso, reduced fat bacon bits.

PICKLES - pickles, chutney, olives (black & green), capers, roasted red peppers, hot peppers.

BEVERAGES - SF drink mix (I like Crystal Light), SF flavored syrups, coffee, tea, herbal tea, SF hot cocoa mix, SF spiced apple cider mix, flavored water (I like SoBe).

FRUITS - dried fruit (cherries, raisins, craisins, etc.), fresh fruit in season, frozen fruit (berries, mango, peaches, etc.), NSA applesauce, SF pie filling, lemon juice, lime juice, fresh lemons & limes.

SNACKS - trail mix, whole grain crackers (like Ak Mak or Wasa), popcorn, nuts, jerky.

CEREALS & GRAINS - Quaker Weight Control instant oatmeal, granola or fiber bars, brown rice, quinoa, couscous, bulgur, barley, seasoned & plain dried breadcrumbs, Panko, pasta & noodles (for my husband).

FATS - olive oil, canola oil, sesame oil, I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spray, cooking spray (regular, butter, olive oil), olive oil mayo, butter, tahini (sesame paste), peanut butter, almond butter, PB2 powder (regular & chocolate).

DAIRY & EGGS - light sour cream, 2% cottage cheese, FF plain Greek yogurt, part-skim ricotta cheese, Egg Beaters, eggs, reduced fat cheese (cheddar, blue, feta, Swiss, etc.), light cream cheese, Laughing Cow light cheesees, grated Parmesan cheese.

MEAT/FISH/PROTEIN - reduced fat bacon (I don't like turkey bacon), other meat, fish & seafood, canned fish & meat, turkey sausage, protein powder, protein bars, beans (dried & canned), deli meats, hummus, tofu, tempeh, textured vegetable protein, veggy burgers, edamame.

VEGETABLES - fresh veggies in season, frozen veggies (no sauce), canned veggies (tomatoes, artichokes, corn, beans, green chilies), fresh herbs (we grow basil, parsley, dill, cilantro, sage, rosemary, tarragon, oregano, and mint), veggies to eat raw or in salads (peppers, cucumbers, celery, jicama, mushrooms, tomatoes, scallions, etc.), basics (garlic, onion, carrots, potatoes), fresh ginger root, dried mushrooms (shiitake, porcini, etc.).

SOUPS & BROTHS - chicken, beef, vegetable & onion bouillon and/or broth, Healthy Request soups (I use in cooking sometimes), dry onion soup mix (used in cooking)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Avocado, Mushroom & Artichoke Salad

2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon wine vinegar (white or red)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1 avocado, peeled, pitted & cubed
3 medium mushrooms, sliced
2 artichoke hearts, quartered (use drained canned or thawed frozen artichoke hearts)
3 tablespoons roasted red pepper, roughly chopped
3 scallions, chopped

In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon rind, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper and oregano until the dressing is emulsified (thoroughly combined and slightly thickened). Add the rest of the ingredients and toss gently (so as not to smash the avocado too much) until all the veggies are coated with dressing.

Refrigerate any leftovers, then remove them from the fridge 30 minutes before serving again (olive oil turns into an unappealing sludge when refrigerated, so letting the salad sit at room temperature for a while gives it a chance to liquefy).

You can give the leftover salad a new twist by adding a protein (like beans, cubes of mozzarella cheese, or canned tuna or salmon) and/or additional veggies (like chopped tomato, chopped bell pepper, chopped jicama, sliced celery, sliced black olives).

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bandster on a Bike

Talented cook and successful bandster Tom Bilcze (who has lost 80 pounds thanks to his band), was featured in a local newspaper article this summer about the bicycling group he started to provide great outdoor exercise with other weight loss surgery patients. Tom plans to devote more time to his WLS blog the next few months, with lots of yummy recipes as well as thoughts about weight loss, diet and exercise, so stay tuned.
August 10, 2010
A new group started by bariatric surgery patients at Summa Health System is giving weight a loss a whole new spin. The Akron-Canton Spin Off cyclists meet weekly for a weeknight and a weekend bike ride on the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail and other Akron-area trails. Although two-thirds of the estimated 40 members have undergone weight loss surgery, the group is open to anyone who wants to lose weight and get fit, said Tom Bilcze, one of the co-founders.
The group combines cycling and support, with members sharing the ups and downs of their weight loss journey. Bilcze, 56, of Mogadore, has lost 80 pounds since undergoing surgery in 2008 through Summa's Bariatric Care Center. Before committing to losing weight, he said, "I was just very sedentary." "I did nothing," he said. "After work, I wasn't much of an active person. The couch was more of an appealing thing."
About a month after his surgery, he made a pledge to get active and began using a treadmill daily. Last summer, he started bike riding ont he Towpath Trail and mentioned his newfound hobby at a support group for other bariatric surgery patients at Summa. He then connected with other weight loss patients, who joined him for rides and began talking about starting a cycling club. With the help of Susan Motts and Christine Domer, Bilcze organized the Spin Off's first official ride in April with about a dozen participants.
A few participants hadn't ridden a bike for a couple decades, he said, but they were still able to go on the 16-mile journey. From the start, the group has had a "no-cyclist-left-behind" policy, Bilcze said. "If you ride with us, you're going to go the speed of whatever the slowest cyclist in the group is," he said. A typical weekday ride is about 8 to 10 miles, while weekend journeys are 20 to 25 miles with a break for a meal. "People surprise themselves," he said. "Bicycling is good aerobic exercise, and it's easy."
More information about the group and a schedule of upcoming rides is available at

Orange Spiced Nuts

A few months ago, I bought a jar of orange marmalade to use in a recipe (that I can't even remember now, and it wasn't blog-worthy). The other day I discovered the half-full jar in the refrigerator door, and a bag of roasted almonds in the pantry, and this is the very tasty result.

1/3 cup orange marmalade (use reduced sugar or no sugar added variety if you prefer)
2 teaspoons paprika (I used 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika and 1 teaspoon of regular paprika)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups shelled, roasted nuts (salted or not, as you prefer)
1/4 c. Splenda brown sugar blend
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (regular table salt is OK)
a couple of shakes of cayenne pepper (to taste)

Heat oven to 300F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray the foil with cooking spray.

Place the marmalade in a medium bowl and microwave on high for 45 seconds. Stir in 2 teaspoons paprika, 1 teaspoon cumin, and the nuts. When the nuts are evenly coated with the marmalade mixture, spread them in a single layer in the prepared pan.

Bake the nuts for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes. Stir the nuts to break up the mixture, which will be sticky. Combine the Splenda, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle this mixture over the nuts, stirring to combine. Cool competely and store in an airtight container.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Hot Pineapple

You can hack up a fresh pineapple for this recipe, or use pre-packaged fresh pineapple spears from the supermarket produce section, but canned pineapple works just fine and it's a lot easier. You can omit the chili garlic sauce if serving kids or adults who don't enjoy spicy food.

1 20-oz can pineapple slices in juice
2 tablespoon pineapple juice
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander (optional)
1 tablespoon Splenda brown sugar blend
1/2 teaspoon chili garlic sauce (or to taste)
1 tablespoon canola oil

Preheat your oven's broiler. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Drain the pineapple slices, reserving 2 tablespoons of the juice. Lay the slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.

Combine the pineapple juice, lime juice & zest, cloves, cinnamon, coriander, Splenda, chili garlic sauce, and canola oil in a small bowl. Brush the pineapple slices with some of the juice mixture, turn them over and brush the other side.

Broil the pineapple about 6" from the broiler heating element for2- 3 minutes or until the surface of the pineapple is lightly browned and shiny. Keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn. Flip the pineapple slices over and pour the remaining juice mixture over them, brushing to spread it evenly. Broil the pineapple for another 2-3 minutes or until lightly browned and shiny. Remove from the oven.

Serve hot with pork, chicken, fish, seafood or tofu.

4 servings

Kitty's Cauliflower Fried "Rice"

1 tablespoon sesame seed oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. chopped onion
1/2 head cauliflower, grated (by hand on or in a food processor)
1/2 c. corn (Kitty uses the baby corn cobs, chopped, but I use frozen corn kernels, thawed & drained)
1/2 c. petite green peas (frozen, thawed & drained)
1/2 c. shredded carrots (pre-shredded is fine)
1/2 c. broccoli florets
4 scallions, chopped
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 large eggs, beaten, or 1/2 c. Egg Beaters
1/2 lb chicken or shrimp, cooked and cut in bite-size pieces (salad shrimp works well and doesn't have to be cut up; you can also use firm tofucubes or cooked, shelled edamame)

Heat the sesame oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onion, stir 1 minute, then add the cauliflower, corn, pease, carrots and broccoli. Stir fry the mixture for 3-4 minutes or until the broccoli is tender but still bright green. Add the chicken, shrimp, tofu or edamame, scallions, and soy sauce, and stir to combine all ingredients. Move the mixture to one side of the skillet. Add the eggs to the open side of the skillet. Cook and stir the eggs until just set, then mix them in with the rest of the ingredients. Serve hot.

3-4 servings

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Mediterranean Bulgur & Veggy Salad

Bulgur wheat can usually be found near rice in the supermarket. It's quick and easy to cook and for me, it doesn't have the sticky texture that tends to get stuck in my stoma.

1/2 cup uncooked bulgur wheat
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced garlic
salt & black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, or 1 teaspoon dried

1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
3 tablespoons minced red onion
3 scallions, chopped

In a small saucepan, bring the bulgur and chicken broth to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for one hour or until all the liquid is absorbed. While the bulgur is standing, prepare the veggies.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, mustard, garlic, salt & pepper, and basil until emulsified (well combined and slightly thickened). Add the bulgur and veggies to the bowl and toss to coat the ingredients with dressing.

Serve at room temperature, or refrigerate until 15 minutes before serving time. Remove from refrigerator and let stand 15 minutes. Stir before serving.

4 servings

Baked Fish with Olives

I love olives despite the sodium content. They're packed with healthy monounsatured fats, vitamin E, and flavor. If you prefer not to eat the olive coating, scrape it off after the fish is baked, but leave it on during baking so that the flavor can soak into the fish.

1 lb. fillets of firm, white fish (I use catfish)
1/4 c. white wine (or substitute vegetable broth)
1/2 c. roughly chopped olives (try a mix of black and green, but plain old pimento-stuffed green olives work fine)
1/4 c. minced red bell pepper
3 scallions, chopped
zest and juice of 1 fresh lemon
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano ( or 1 teaspoon dried)
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400F. Spray a 13x9" baking pan with cooking spray. Place the fish fillets in the pan in a single layer.

Combine the wine, olives, bell pepper, scallions, lemon zest & juice, oregano, olive oil, and salt & pepper in a small bowl. Cover the fish fillets with this mixture.

Put the baking pan in the oven and bake 20-25 minutes or until the fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork.

4 servings

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

La Famille Aubergine

The last three eggplants from this summer's garden cuddle up on our kitchen counter.
I think this photo would make a good Christmas card: Joyeux Noel!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Barley & Veggy Soup

1 cup chopped onion
3 stalks celery, choppped
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 cup uncooked barley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (I used sage), or 2 teaspoons dried (sage, thyme, marjoram)
1 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 cans vegetable broth (or chicken or beef broth)
1/2 c. white wine (I use cooking wine - no temptation to drink it - but it's high sodium)

Put all the ingredients in your crock pot, stir, and set the crock pot on low for 8 hours. Or, put all the ingredients in a stock pot and cook on the stove on low heat for 2 hours.

Serves: many!

SOUP - Pros and Cons

I have bad-mouthed soup so many times because liquids like soup generally provide little or no satiety for a bandster, but I'm eating (without chewing) my words now. After a year of experimentation, I finally concluded that I just cannot eat solid food when I'm at work. Usually I have a 15 minute break, but even when I work a longer shift and get a longer break, I'm just too distracted, pressured, anxious or whatever to eat solid or even soft food. I get stuck or PB and have to stop eating even though my tummy is still grumbling and/or I haven't had enough fuel to power me through the rest of my work day. So this past week, I tried several instant soups (you just open them and microwave them) with Unjury chicken soup protein powder mixed into them. The tomato soup was fine, but I was starving hungry an hour later. Creamy chicken soup and Italian wedding soup worked very well. So I decided it's worthwhile to make my own soup (thereby reducing the sodium content) to take to work for lunch. My first project was a barley and veggy soup. Barley is a whole grain that's soft but chewy when cooked, and goodness knows I need all the veggies I can get. We had this soup for supper tonight and it was great!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Zesty Roasted Potatoes

Since I discovered what havoc white potatoes cause my blood sugar, we don't have them very often, but my husband loves roasted potatoes and now that the weather is cooling off (daytime temps in the upper 80's instead of upper 90's), I decided to make some potatoes to go with the lamb roast my husband cooked on the grill today.

2 tbl olive oil
1/4 c. lemon juice
2 tsp Emeril's green hot sauce
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cumin
4 medium potatoes (I used red potatoes, but gold or white would be fine)

Preheat the oven to 400F. Spray a roasting pan with cooking spray.

Scrub the potatoes but do not peel. Slice each potato lengthwise, then into eighths.

In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, and seasonings. Add the potato wedges and toss until the potatoes are well coated.

Put the potato wedges in the prepared roasting pan, reserving the marinade in a measuring cup. Roast the potatoes for 20 minutes. Drizzle some marinade over them and stir until the browned sides are facing up. Roast the potatoes for another 15-20 minutes or until evenly browned.

4 servings

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Seattle Bandster Brunch

I just got back from a week in Seattle with my friends Lisa and John. On Saturday, August 21st, we hosted a brunch for the weight loss surgery support group that Lisa leads. It was almost too beautiful to eat (we did, however, manage to overcome that).
Going counter clockwise from the 11 o'clock position:

whole grain tortilla chips with avocado & cucumber guacamole
cheese chunks (cheddar & havarti) & almonds
mushrooms with cheese & artichoke stuffing
chicken tenders with spicy peanut dipping sauce
prosciutto-wrapped cantaloupe and whole dates
deviled eggs
a JMM version of eggface egg "bites"
strawberries, blackberries, watermelon & cantaloupe with berry cream cheese dip
cucumber slices, pita chips, and whole grain crackers with creamy onion spread & smoked salmon

A good time was had by all, and Lisa and her family now have enough leftover food to last them for a week!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Frozen Banana Bites

Last week my husband bought a big bunch of bananas, ate one, and forgot about them. I ate one (half chopped up in my breakfast oatmeal, the other half chopped up in my breakfast yogurt another day). In the old days, I might have made some banana bread with the surplus ripe bananas, but I'm not all that crazy about banana bread, bready type foods aren't agreeing with my band right now, and turning the oven on when the thermometer's reading over 100 degrees just doesn't make sense. So I made a batch of frozen banana bites, and they are divine.

1. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper.
2. Cut a banana (or 2, or 3) into 1/2" crosswise slices and place the slices on the waxed paper
with the sides of the slices very close to each other.
3. Drizzle chocolate syrup (I used Hershey's lite chocolate syrup) over the slices. Don't overdo it
- there's no such thing as too much chocolate, but you don't want to create a sticky mess.
4. Put the baking sheet in the freezer for one hour.
5. Transfer the banana slices to a plastic storage container, using waxed paper (I just cut up
the big piece that lined the baking sheet) to separate the layers.
6. Store the banana bites in the freezer for up to 3 days.

Kids of all ages will love these treats. I eat 3-4 slices at a time. They taste like ice cream without all the fat. Next time I make them, I'm going to "frost" the slices with a thin layer of creamy peanut butter before I drizzle on the chocolate.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Vietnamese Fish with Pineapple Relish

When I lived in the Northeast and could get a wide variety of fresh fish, I would occasionally poach a salmon and serve it cold with some kind of sauce. Here in Tennessee, it's hard to get any fish fresh unless it's catfish or crappy (believe it or not, crappy is a kind of fish, not an adjective). But it turns out that poached catfish is very tasty with Asian style seasonings, and poaching keeps the fish moist enough for a bandster to enjoy. We ate it hot, but I think it'd be good cold as well. Don't be put off by the amount of sesame oil in this recipe. It seems like a lot, but you won't be consuming all that oil unless you drink the poaching liquid. You can substitute other fish for the catfish, but make sure it's a meaty fish that won't fall apart in the poaching liquid.

2 tablespoons brown sugar (or 1 tablespoon Splenda brown sugar blend)
3/4 cup water

1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1-2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce

3 tablespoons Nuoc Mam (fish sauce)*
1 pound fish fillets, cut in thirds
2 scallions, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Heat the water with the brown sugar in a medium saucepan until the sugar has dissolved. Add sesame oil, garlic, ginger, chili-garlic sauce, and fish sauce and heat until it simmers. Add the fish pieces and turn them to coat with the poach liquid. Return the mixture to a simmer, cover and cook 5 minutes. Uncover and cook another 2-3 minutes, until the fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork. Remove from heat and garnish with scallions and cilantro. Serve with pineapple relish (recipe below). Serves 3-4.

* for the fish sauce, you can substitute 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of water, and 1/4 teaspoon anchovy paste

1/2 fresh pineapple, cored and diced small
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper (a mix of red and green works well)
2 scallions, chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon grated lemon or lime rind
3 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
1 teaspoon hot sauce (or more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving (to allow the flavors to blend).

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Creamy Herb Dressing

1/4 cup roasted red pepper (patted dry), or red tomato (skinned, seeded & chopped)
1 cup cottage cheese (I use the 1% fat version)
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind (optional)
1 scallion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (see note below)

Whiz in a food processor until smooth, adding more lemon juice if a thinner consistency is desired.

For herbs, I use whatever's growing in the potted herb garden on the front porch, or whatever fresh herbs are affordable at the supermarket. This dressing is especially good with dill, or with a mix of herbs. I use no more than three different herbs so that the herb flavors stay distinct. Favorite combinations: mint, cilantro, parsley; basil, oregano, thyme; tarragon, dill, parsley.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Creamy Feta Salad Dressing

If you like feta cheese, you will love this creamy, low-fat, high-protein salad dressing.

1/3 cup reduced-fat feta cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano, or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Whiz the ingredients in a mini food processor until smooth enough to suit you. I like it with the feta cheese broken down into bits but not completely obliterated.

Serve with green salad or a salad of mixed chopped raw vegetables (with or without chickpeas).

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Skinny Blini

This recipe was inspired by one of my OH pals. In my usual meddlesome way, I had to fiddle with it, and loved the result. Blini or blintzes are Eastern European style crepes (thin pancakes) filled with goodies. When I used to visit New York city frequently, I would order blini with cottage cheese for breakfast. Here is a lower-calorie, higher-protein version.

Whiz in a blender or food processor:
3/4 c. Egg Beaters
1 c. fat-free milk
1/4 c. low-fat cottage cheese
1/3 c. flour (wheat or soy)
1 packet sweetener (I use Truvia)
1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, mix:
1/2 c. low-fat cottage cheese
1/2 c. fat-free plain Greek yogurt
1-2 packets sweetener
1/2 c. fresh berries (whole or cut up) or other fruit (roughly chopped)
1 tablespoon chopped unsalted nuts (I use walnuts)

For sauce, use one of the following:
1 cup pureed fresh berries sweetened to taste
1 cup no sugar added jam (microwave it for 1+ min. until slightly liquefied, then stir it)

Optional garnish:
whole fresh berries

Spray an 8" nonstick saute pan with butter flavor or plain Pam and heat over medium heat until the Pam starts to bead up. Pour in enough crepe batter (about 1/4 cup) to thinly cover the bottom of the pan, tilting the pan to swirl the batter evenly over the surface of the pan. Cook until bubbles start to form on the top surface of the crepe. Flip the crepe over with a pancake turner (these crepes are very tender, so be careful). Cook for another minute or until the bottom is pale gold and dry. Gently transfer the cooked crepe to a plate and repeat the process until all the batter is used, being sure to spray the pan with Pam between each crepe. You may have to turn down the heat a bit after the first crepe is done.

To assemble the blini, put a crepe on a salad plate with the nicest-looking side down. Put 2-3 tablespoons of the cottage cheese & yogurt mixture in the center of the crepe. Roll the crepe up. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of sauce over the crepe. If desired, scatter a few whole fresh berries on top. Serve.

Yield: about 8 blini

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sunflower Cheese Balls

This recipe makes a tasty party appetizer or snack. If desired, serve them with whole-grain crackers, bagel crisps, and raw veggies and fruits (apple & pear slices, grapes)

4 oz. Muenster cheese, at room temperature (or other cheese - if using hard cheese like Swiss or cheddar, shred the cheese first)
4 oz. reduced fat or fat free cream cheese, at room temperature
2 scallions, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, rosemary, basil)
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (or soy sauce)
1/4 teaspoon paprika
cayenne pepper to taste
salt to taste
1/2 cup roasted, salted sunflower kernels

Put all ingredients except sunflower kernels in a food processor and whiz until well combined (you may have to stop once or twice and scrape down the sides of the processor bowl).

Put the sunflower kernels in a shallow bowl.

Scoop out small spoonfuls of cheese mixture and form into 1" balls. Roll the balls in the sunflower kernels and put them in a shallow storage container. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

Makes 15 cheese balls.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Quinoa with pistachios & herbs

This stuff is great - you get your whole-grain carb fix with a boost of protein (in the quinoa and nuts). It's good served at room temperature or cold, though I prefer to let it sit about 10 minutes after I take it out of the fridge, because the olive oil needs to liquefy. For variety you can use other grains, like bulgur wheat or brown rice. If I'm using fresh lemon, I grate about 1/2 of the lemon rind and add it to the cooked mixture. I use whatever fresh herb is happening in our garden or that's affordable at the supermarket. I haven't tried different nuts with this yet, but cashews could be in my future...

1/2 cup shelled pistachios
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water or broth (chicken or veg)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
grated lemon rind (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh mint, cilantro, or thyme, chopped

In a heavy medium saucepan, stir the pistachios over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, or until fragrant and brown. Transfer to a cutting board, allow to cool slightly, and chop roughly. Set aside.

In the same saucepan, heat 2 cups water or broth until it boils. Add the quinoa and salt, stir, cover, and cook on low heat for 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Transfer the cooked quinoa to a large bowl.

Add the pistachios, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, and mint or other herbs to the quinoa and mix well. Let stand about 20 minutes for the flavors to develop.

Adjust seasonings.

4 servings

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Caramel Apple Yogurt Dessert

Yoplait has a new flavor (new to my area, anyway) called Apple Turnover. One day I was inspired to chop a few apple slices and mix them into this yogurt, with great results. But I really prefer the flavor and the thick, creamy consistency (to say nothing of the higher protein content) of Oikos 0% plain yogurt, so I did this mixture, with even better results:

4 oz. plain Greek yogurt (or 4 oz. Oikos 0% with honey)
1/4 of an apple, peeled and diced (if you can't eat apple at all, try no-sugar-added applesauce)
sweetener to taste (optional)
1 tablespoon sugar-free caramel sauce
1 tablespoon chopped walnuts (optional)

Adding the raw apple and nuts to the yogurt gives you something to chew, plus some fiber and healthy fats, and that results in greater satiety from a small portion of food. Gotta love that! You could skip the caramel sauce but I happen to love caramel and it turns the yogurt into a desserty treat.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sardines on Toast

Sardines on toast? Sounds like a desperation meal, but we actually like sardines. You can serve this as an appetizer, but we have it as an entree. When I can't eat toast, the sardine mixture is tasty by itself. You can use kipper snacks instead of sardines.

1 4-ounce can boneless, skinless sardines packed in olive oil
1 plum tomato, seeded and chopped
1 scallion, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped parsley or mint
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 slices multigrain bread or 12 slices whole-grain baguette

Preheat oven to 350F.

Flake the sardines into a small bowl. Don't mash the fish, but keep the pieces small. Add the tomato, scallion, parsle, olive oil, and salt and mix gently.

If using whole slices of bread, cut each slice into 4 pieces (square or triangle). Place the bread on a baking sheet and bake until crispy and golden, 12-14 minutes. Remove from oven. Top each piece of toast with fish mixture. Serve immediately

Avocado Olive Salad

I love avocado, and it does have healthy fat in it, but at 276 calories for a medium avocado, 42% of which is fat, I have to be careful with it. This is a great recipe because it adds some chewing satisfaction to an otherwise mushy food. The saltiness of the olives is surprisingly good with the bland creaminess of the avocado.

2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon wine vinegar (red or white)
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional)
1 ounce black olives, sliced (I use Kalamata)
2 avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
1/2 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced

In a medium bowl, whisk together lemon juice, lime juice, vinegar, garlic salt, pepper & olive oil. Add parsley, olives, avocado, and cucumber and gently toss to combine all ingredients. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving time.

4 servings

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Culinary Disasters

Recently I pledged to resume the regular posting of menus and recipes, but I have been confounded by some culinary disasters.

Like the Cauliflower Latkes recipe. Substitute nutritious, low-carb cauliflower for potatoes, and still get your potato pancake fix. Not. It turned into Cauliflower Soup In A Skillet, not even faintly resembling pancakes. Nothing wrong with heating soup in a skillet. As Shirley Jackson, talented writer (and obese person) and author of the short story The Lottery which many of us were made to read in high school, wrote in one of her hilarious books about domestic life (I think it was Raising Demons), the quickest way to re-heat coffee (in pre-microwave times) is to put it in a skillet.

But when you have your face fixed (as my mom would say) for pancakes, you don't want soup in a skillet. You want the danged pancakes, nice and crispy and browned.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Portabella Pizza

Why didn't I think of this before? I ask myself. This is so much easier than making pizza with a pureed broccoli or cauliflower crust, and it tastes wonderful.

Preheat your broiler.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Place 4 portabella mushrooms (wiped clean, stems removed) gill-side up on the baking sheet. Spray with cooking spray.

Cover the mushrooms with your favorite pizza toppings (see below for what I used, but you can use pizza sauce, pepperoni, turkey sausage, veggies, etc of your choice). Broil 4" from the heat for 10-12 minutes.

Note: if you prefer your veggies cooked softer, broil the mushrooms for 3-4 minutes per side before you load them with the pizza toppings.

My toppings:

Combine in a bowl:
1 can white beans, rinsed and drained, mashed with a potato masher
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 onion + 1/2 red pepper + 1/2 zucchini, chopped and sauteed in a non-stick skillet until softened
1 tsp dried rosemary, basil, oregano, or the herb of your choice

Spread this mixture over the mushrooms. Sprinkle with shredded cheese (Italian blend, cheddar, mozzarella) and Parmesan. Spray with cooking spray (I use olive oil flavor).

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Garlicky Bean & Artichoke Dip

This awesome dip is good with cut up raw veggies, pita chips, crackers, or by the spoonful. I just wish I had known about it when I was in the puree portion of my post-op diet.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon Italian herb blend
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 can (15 oz) white kidney or cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained & quartered
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
pinch of cayenne pepper (or to taste)

In a small nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the onion, garlic and herbs until tender. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

In a large food processor, combine the beans, artichokes, lemon juice, salt, cayenne, and the reserved onion mixture. Process until smooth.

Refrigerate 2 hours.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Chicken Smush

Smush is my husband's term for a mixture of meat, veggies and creamy gravy. He likes it over toast, noodles, rice, barley, pizza crust or in pot pies. When I roast a whole chicken, we eat some of it and I take the rest of the meat off the carcass, chop it into about 2 cups of (small) bite-size pieces, combine it with thawed frozen mixed veggies (or leftover cooked) veggies, and white sauce. I either make the sauce from scratch or use a can of cream of chicken, celery or mushroom soup diluted with 1/2 can of chicken broth, skim milk, white wine, or water. Sometimes I throw in shredded cheddar or Swiss cheese. I put the smush into plastic freezer containers and store them in the freezer until the next time I need a quick dinner. I thaw the smush, heat it, and put it on some kind of starch for my husband (see above) or in a bowl for me.
I almost never measure the quantities when making this stuff. I think I could make it with my eyes closed.

Garlic Sausage Bread

I'll come right out and say that this is by no means a dietetic dish, but my husband loves it and when I can't eat bread, I still enjoy eating the topping. I use asiago cheese bread from the bakery department at Wal-Mart, but you can use plain Italian bread or any crusty, rustic bread. You can also put the toppings on top of fresh zucchini or yellow squash, cut lengthwise into thick slices.

1/2 pound Italian style turkey sausage (or ground turkey)
1/2 loaf crusty bread, cut in half lengthwise and with some of the soft middle pulled out (I give the middle stuff to our dogs, who think it's manna from heaven), leaving about 1/2-1" of bread in a border next to the crust
1/2 large tomato, roughly chopped
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons green olives, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons black olives, roughly chopped
4 ounces shredded mozarella cheese
1/8 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
pinch of salt
pinch of black pepper
1 tablespoon minced onion or scallion
2 teaspoons minced garlic

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Cook the crumbled sausage in a skillet over medium-low heat until browned. Drain. Combine the drained meat with the tomato, red pepper and olives.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray the foil with cooking spray. Place the bread halves on the baking sheet, crust side down. Pile the meat & veggy mixture onto the bread and top with the mozzarella. Bake for 10 minutes.

While the bread is baking, whisk together the oil, vinegar, onion, garlic and seasoning. Drizzle this mixture over the bread halves and bake them another 5 minutes. Cut into 2" slices and serve.

4 servings

Greek Chicken & Veggy Ragout

Ragout is a fancy word for stew. It's pronounced "ragoo".

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1" pieces (or 3 cups baby carrots)
1 pound potatoes (red or yellow), cut in 1" cubes
1 medium onion, peeled and diced in 1" pieces
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 14-oz can chicken broth
1/3 cup dry white wine
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind (you can skip this, but it really adds to the flavor)
1 15-oz can artichoke hearts, rinsed and cut in quarters (or you can use frozen hearts, but don't use the marinated ones)
1 large egg or 1/4 c. egg beaters
2 large egg yolks
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, or 1 tablespoon dried

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large skillet over medium heat. Saute the veggies and chicken on both sides until the veggies begin to soften and the chicken is lightly browned. Add the broth, wine, garlic, salt and lemon rind to the Dutch oven and bring it to a boil. Cover, lower the heat, and cook on low 30 minutes. Add the artichokes, cover and cook another 5-10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.

Remove the veggies and chicken with a large slotted spoon and put them in a serving dish. Cover and keep warm while you make the sauce.

Whisk the egg yolk, eggs, and lemon together. Ladle about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid from the pan into the egg mixture and whisk until smooth. Then whisk the egg & cooking liquid mixture back into the liquid in the pan. Cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thickened. Stir in the dill and pepper. Serve the chicken drizzled with the sauce.

6 servings

Cauliflower with Blue Cheese Vinaigrette

1 head cauliflower, trimmed and divided into florets
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon minced scallion
3 tablespoons blue cheese, crumbled (I use reduced fat)

Preheat the oven to 450F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Spread the cauliflower florets on the baking sheet, spray them with olive oil cooking spray, and sprinkle with half the salt. Roast for 5 minutes, remove from oven, flip the cauliflower over, spray with more cooking spray, and sprinkle with the rest of the salt. Roast for another 5 minutes or until golden and tender but not mushy.

While the cauliflower roasts, make the vinaigrette. Whisk together the water, olive oil, vinegar, and pepper until well combined. Just before serving, gently mix the blue cheese, scallions and vinaigrette with the roasted cauliflower,

Note: if you don't have time to roast the cauliflower, just nuke it. Roasting makes it extra tasty, but the vinaigrette adds plenty of flavor on its own.

4 servings

Wasabi Sour Cream Sauce

1/2 cup sour cream (I use reduced fat)
1 tablespoon mayonnaise (I use the olive oil version)
1+ teaspoon wasabi (to taste)
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (optional)

Whisk it all together and serve with roast beef, steak, or burgers.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Creamy Apricot Spread

I go through cycles with breakfast food. I'll eat scrambled egg beaters with reduced fat cheddar cheese for a few months, until I can't bear the sight of them any more. Then I'll eat Weight Control banana bread oatmeal made with Almond Breeze (low-carb almond milk), chopped banana, and PB2, until I can't stand the sight of it. Since my complete unfill last summer, I've been able to eat English muffins (toasted well done) and tortillas, although now that I've had a few fills my capacity for them is decreasing. For a few weeks now, my breakfast has been 1/2 of a "light" (100 calorie) English muffins spread with 2 teaspoons each creamy peanut butter and Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread, found with the peanut butter in Wal-Mart) and a few slices of banana. As fantastically yummy as that combination is, I'm getting tired of it. Also, I'm a little worried about the binge potential with Nutella (no episodes so far, but I'm keeping an eye on it).

So my next breakfast cycle will be this creamy apricot spread on graham crackers, with a few slices of banana. You could also use the spread as a dip for fruits and veggies, or put it on mini rice cakes (I'll bet it would be good on the caramel flavor).

1/2 cup sliced dried apricots (feel free to try other dried fruit, like cranberries, raisins, blueberries, etc.)
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
2 oz cream cheese, softened (I use the reduced fat version)
1 tablespoon Splenda brown sugar blend
3 packets of True Orange (crystallized orange, found in the baking aisle near sugar) or 1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
optional if you plan to use this as a dip instead of a spread: add 1+ tablespoon of skim milk

Whiz all the ingredients in a mini food processor until the apricots are cut up fairly fine but still visible as chunks.


Friday, January 29, 2010

Tabbouleh with edamame & feta cheese

1-1/4 cups uncooked bulgur or cracked wheat
2 cups boiling water or chicken broth
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/8 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cups chopped tomato
3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (I use reduced fat feta)
1/3 cup chopped scallions
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
2 cups cooked, shelled edamame
4 pita breads (7" diameter), cut in half

Combine the bulgur and water or broth, cover and let stand 30 min. Drain.

Process the parsley, lemon juice, oil, and oregano in a mini food processor until smooth.

Combine the bulgur, parsley mixture, tomato, feta, scallions, salt & pepper, and edamame in a large bowl. Serve with pita bread.

4 servings

Fish with Olive Salsa

1 lb fish fillets (whatever kind you like)
salt & pepper to taste

Season the fish with salt and pepper, then bake or broil until the fish is opaque and flakes easily (how long depends on the type and thickness of the fish - use the 10 minutes per inch rule). Serve with olive salsa.

Olive Salsa
Combine ingredients in a medium bowl:
1 cup chopped tomato
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped, pitted olives (mix of black & green)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1/8 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1/4 teaspoon fresh)

Mexican Pizza

If bread, pizza crust, or tortillas don't agree with your band, try the toppings on a broccoli crust (recipe archived somewhere on this blog). If you can't eat corn, substitute another veggy or mix of veggies, like chopped bell pepper (a mix of red & green looks great).

3 readymade thin pizza crusts or tortillas (about 8" diameter)
3/4 cup taco sauce
12 oz. cooked chicken
1 cup Mexican or Southwestern corn blend (frozen or canned, thawed and drained)
1 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese or Mexican cheese blend
1 avocado, diced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
salt to taste
hot pepper sauce to taste

Heat oven to 500 degrees.

Place the crusts or tortillas on baking sheets. Spread the taco sauce over the crusts, leaving a 1/2" border aroujnd the edge. Sprinkle the chicken, corn and cheese over the crusts. Put the baking sheets in the oven and bake 6-8 minutes, until the crust is crisp and the cheese has melted.

While the pizzas are cooking, combine the avocado, lemon juice, cilantro, salt and hot pepper sauce.

Serve the hot pizza topped with the avocado mixture.

6 servings (1/2 pizza per person)

Tofu with Chimichurri Sauce

Chimichurri Sauce
Process in a blender or food processor until well chopped, then set aside:
1 cup roughly chopped parsley (must be fresh - dried will not work)
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
1/8 cup olive oil or canola oil
2 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar or red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, halved
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped onion or scallion
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat the broiler.
Cut the tofu crosswise into slices about 3/4" thick and pat dry with paper towels.
Spray a broiler pan with cooking spray. Place the tofu slices on the pan and spray them with cooking spray.
Mix in a small bowl: 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin. Sprinkle half the spice mixture over the tofu, turn the tofu over, spray and sprinkle again.
Broil the tofu 3-5 minutes until golden brown, turn over and broil another 3-5 minutes.
Serve drizzled with the chimichurri sauce.

4 servings

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Asian Flavored Meatballs or Meatloaf

Use the flavored meat mixture to make small meatballs or a single meatloaf.

1 pound ground turkey, or mixture of turkey/beef/pork
4 large scallions, chopped
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro (don't skip this ingredient)
1/4 cup egg beaters
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil (don't skip this either)
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs or oats
black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Form into small meatballs and saute in nonstick skillet until browned on all sides, or put the meat mixture into a loaf pan and bake at 350F for 50-60 minutes.

Serve with optional soy-ginger sauce:
1/4 cup brown sugar Splenda blend
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup mirin (sweet rice wine), sake, or sherry
1/4 cup chopped peeled ginger root
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Combine ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat and simmer until sugar is dissolved and the volume is reduced by 1/2. Strain through a sieve before serving.
4 servings

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

You can use Italian pancetta instead of regular bacon.

I've also made this using Italian green beans instead of brussels sprouts.

1 lb. brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup chopped bacon
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 450F. Spray a baking sheet with Pam.

Cook the sprouts with the teaspoon of salt in boiling water 5-6 min. or until tender. Drain and plunge into ice water (to stop them from cooking more); drain well and put in a bowl.

Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove the bacon from the pan, reserving the drippings. Combine the drippings and the 1/8 teaspoon each of salt and pepper with the cooked sprouts. Spread the sprouts in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 15 min. or until browned, stirring once. Combine the roasted sprouts with the vinegar and the cooked bacon , toss well. Serve warm or at room temperature (if you must refrigerate the sprouts, bring them to room temperature before serving).

5 servings

Place the sprouts in one layer on the prepared baking sheet.

Teriyaki Salmon

2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
4 scallions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 salmon fillets (about 4 ounces each)

Preheat your broiler.

Combine honey, teriyaki sauce, vinegar, scallions and garlic in a small bowl. Set aside.

Line a baking pan with aluminum foil and spray the foil with Pam (do not skip these steps, or the caramelized sauce will make a mess of your baking pan).

Place salmon fillets on prepared baking pan & brush with half of the sauce mixture. Broil 6" from the heating element for about 8 minutes, until top is browned and internal temperature registers 120F on an instant-read thermometer.

Serve drizzled with the remaining sauce.

4 servings

Edamame Lo Mein

You can make this with cooked spaghetti squash instead of real spaghetti.

8 ounces spaghetti
2 cups frozen edamame (shelled soybeans)
4 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce (reduced sodium is OK)
2 teaspoons sugar or Splenda
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
2 tablespoons canola oil
1-1/2 cups coleslaw mix or broccoli slaw mix

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add spaghetti and edamame and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is just tender, 8-10 minutes. Drain.

Combine scallions, oyster sauce, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil and red pepper in a small bowl until the sugar dissolves.

Heat canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add the veggies and cook, stirring often, until slightly softened, 3-4 min. Add the pasta & edamame. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add the sauce and stir to combine.

4 servings

Cheesy Leek Bread Pudding

My husband loves bread pudding, and although soft bread often poses a challenge for my lap-band, I can usually manage a few bites of this yummy stuff. Bread pudding is a good choice for brunch because you can make the pudding the day before, refrigerate it, and bake it the next day.

1 cups of 1/2"-thick slices of white & light green parts of clean leeks (rinse well to get rid of the
dirt that gets trapped inbetween the leaves)
kosher salt to taste
black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
6 cups 1" cubes of bread (I like to use cheese bread from Wal-Mart)
1 tablespoon finely chopped scallions
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme)
1/2 cup egg beaters
1-1/2 cups milk (I use skim milk)
1-1/2 cups half & half (I use fat free)
pinch of ground nutmeg (optional if you don't like nutmeg, but the finished dish won't taste of nutmeg - it just heightens the flavor of the other ingredients)
1 cup shredded cheese (I use 2% cheddar, but Swiss cheese is also good)

Put the drained but damp leeks in a medium skillet over medium-high heat,sprinkle with salt, and cook until the leeks begin to soften, about 5 minutes, then reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in butter. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are very soft, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F. While the leeks are cooking, spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and bake until dry and golden, 15-20 min., stirring the cubes halfway through. Transfer the cubes to a large bowl. Leave the oven on if you're going to bake the pudding today.

Add leeks, scallions and thyme to the bowl of bread, toss well.

In another bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, half & half, sprinkles of salt and pepper, and the nutmeg.

Spray a casserole dish with Pam. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the cheese in the bottom of the casserole. Spread half of the bread mixture on top, then sprinkle with another 1/4 cup cheese. Spread the rest of the bread in the dish, sprinkle with another 1/4 cup cheese. Pour in just enough of the milk mixture to cover the bread and gently press on the bread so that the milk soaks in. Let rest 15 minutes.

Add the rest of the milk mixture (it's OK if the top of the bread shows through). Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese. Bake until the pudding is set and the top is brown and bubbling, about 1 hour. Serve hot.

6 servings

Chinese Eggs with Soy-Sesame Sauce

A few years ago when I was visiting a Chinese vendor's wicker factory in Fujian Province, our meeting ran late and my host served me an impromptu dinner cooked in his employee canteen kitchen (most Chinese factories provide housing, schools, and at least 2 hot meals a day for their employees). The cook, who shopped for fresh food daily, had only eggs, veggies, rice, and noodles on hand. I was delighted by how tasty the eggs were.

1 tablespoon soy sauce (reduced sodium is OK)
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1-1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon minced scallions
4 teaspoons canola oil
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons sesame seeds (black or white)
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Combine the soy sauce, water, sesame oil, vinegar and scallions in a small bowl. Set aside.

Heat canola oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat and swirl to coat the pan. Crack 2 eggs into a small bowl. Crack the other 2 eggs into another bowl.

Working quickly, pour 2 eggs on one side of the pan and the other 2 on the other side. The egg whites will flow together, forming one large piece.

Sprinkle sesame seeds, basil and pepper over the eggs. Cook until the egg whites are crispy and brown on the bottom and the yolks are firmly set, about 3 minutes. Doing your best to keep the eggs in one piece, flip them over using a wide spatula and cook until the whites turn crispy and brown on the other side, 1-2 minutes more.

Pour the soy sauce mixture over the eggs. Simmer 30 seconds, turning the eggs once to coat both sides with sauce. Cut and serve in wedges, drizzled with the warm sauce, over rice or noodles.

4 servings

Nutty Cranberry Veggy Salad

This combination of ingredients may sound strange, but it's very good. You can substitute unsalted nuts if you're worried about sodium, but I think the salty nuts go well with the sweet cranberries.

1 16-oz package frozen California style vegetable mix (or other mix containing cauliflower),
cooked according to package directions, drained & cooled
1/2 cup salted nuts (your choice - I like peanuts or pecans)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup mayonnaise (I use olive oil mayo)
1 tsp Splenda or sugar

Mix all ingredients well, cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

4-6 servings

Friday, January 1, 2010

Bacon Apple Slaw

I realize it's been ages since I've posted a recipe...I've been working a retail job that was so busy before Christmas that I actually resorted to eating frozen entrees (and no, I haven't found any that I liked, despite much experimentation).

4 cups shredded cabbage or pre-shredded broccoli slaw (I prefer the broccoli slaw, though I have to roughly chop it in order to get it past my band)
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and shredded
1 green onion, chopped
1/4 cup mayo (I use olive oil mayo)
1/4 cup sour cream (I used the lite version)
2 tablespoons honey mustard (or mix 1-1/2 tbl Dijon mustard with 1-2 tsp honey)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
8 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled or chopped (I use a reduced-fat version when I can find it)

In a large bowl, whisk together the mayo, sour cream, mustard, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Add the veggies & apple and mix well.

Serve with bacon scattered on top. If you have leftovers, store the bacon separately from the coleslaw - mixing the two together will make the bacon soggy.