Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Chicken and Veggie Night

I have to admit that last night I winged it a bit. There was no real recipe I followed, other than a quick one I found at a recipe site when I decided at the last moment to include chicken with our dinner which was intended to be just all vegetables.

We have a local farmer's market that we have started frequenting. With all the news about salmonella being found in fresh produce over the recent months, I figured this was a better avenue to take in obtaining as much of the fresh produce we use as we could. After all, many of these people are our neighbors in this small town of ours, so it had the added benefit of supporting our local farmers.

So, our dinner last night consisted of:

  • Brown Rice
  • Chicken in Worcestershire (it's not as bad a it sounds and, with a bit of splenda brown sugar, tasted very much like teryaki sauce without all the sodium!)
  • Zucchini and summer squash Bake
  • Green Bean and Potato Salad
We've really been trying not to eat so many enriched carbs. So, I try to use brown rice as much as possible to get the nutrients that are usually lost in the enrichment process of white rice. All of the vegetables I used are fresh, and I steamed them all for maximum nutrient conservation. All in all, it was quite a low fat dinner and low sodium as well.

I was cooking for only the two of us last night. What we fixed and ate was more than one serving of veggies --- but that's not a bad thing! I used only one chicken breast between us and we each had half.

Brown Rice

  • 1 cup of rice
  • 2 cups of water

Brown rice is made a bit differently and must cook longer than white rice.
  1. Combine the rice and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Lower heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes.

Worcestershire Chicken
(I swear this is good!)

This doesn't seem like it would be "low sodium" but keep in mind that, while it has 65 mg of sodium (roughly 3% of RDA based on a 2,000 calorie diet) per teaspoon and this recipe calls for 1/2 cup, it is used mostly to marinade the chicken during cooking and most of the liquid will be left behind in the pan. You may get an actual teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce on the actual chicken on your plate, so the sodium level should be acceptable.)

  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into strips (cooks easier this way)
  • 1/2 cup of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Spenda Brown Sugar (optional)

  1. Spray skillet with nonstick spray
  2. Brown Chicken pieces
  3. Add the Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar
  4. Lower heat and cover, letting simmer for 20-30 minutes (or more)
Zucchini and Squash Bake
1 zucchini, cut (the one we had was quite large and may have equaled two regular ones from the store)

  • 1 summer squash
  • 1/2 sliced sweet onion
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and sliced
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • sprinkle of mozzarella (Parmesan works great too)

  1. Spray casserole dish with nonstick spray
  2. lay zucchini, squash, onion, pepper and water in dish
  3. sprinkle with mozzerella
  4. Cover with aluminum foil and cook at 350 for 30 minutes

Green Beans and Potatoes

  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (omega fats -- the GOOD fat)
  • 1 lb of fresh green beans
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 4 red new potatoes, quartered
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • pepper to taste

  1. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic to pan; saute 30 seconds.
  2. Add potato, celery and beans. Saute 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup of water; cover and cook for 5 minutes until green beans are crisp-tender.
  3. Add tomatoes. Cover, reduce heat and cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir in pepper.

Without salt, it's not super flavorful, but is good. The hardest part in cutting out sodium is learning to enjoy the natural taste of the vegetables you cook. I happen to loooooove fresh green beans and cook them a lot.

Until another day....signing off.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Hello all! I've been out of town, which usually means no cooking!

In an effort to get everyone to sit at the table and eat the same thing, I have had to evaluate recipes when I look at them to determine several things. One thing - is it fairly healthy? Second thing - is there something, at least one thing, on the dinner table that everyone will eat?

Like most people, I have kids who can be picky eaters, especially when it comes to healthy veggies. On top of that finickiness, I have a son who is autistic and with that comes sensory challenges, particularly with food and the texture.

With this recipe, I determined to try it out and see if my son would eat it. I knew we, the adults, would and my daughter tends to like tuna anyway as well as vegetables. This casserole surprisingly has a creamy texture that makes it almost as tasty as mac and cheese, which all three of my kids love. I was skeptical if my son would buy into this -- after all it has tuna in it, plus other veggies. I have a rule, though, that he must at least attempt to eat what I am serving and this night was no different.

Imagine my surprise when my son not only ate it all up, but asked for a second helping! Score one for Mom getting vegetables, and healthy fish, down her picky child. (I use a food processor to chop the veggies so it's very fine and barely detectable by texture.)

This recipe comes from the Alli diet book of recipes. It is low fat and fairly lower sodium than most dinners.

This recipe makes 4 servings at 4 grams of fat and 262 calories per serving.

Tuna Noodle Casserole
serves 4

  • 1 cup whole wheat elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup of chopped celery
  • 1/3 cup of chopped onion
  • 1 can of low fat, lower sodium cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can (10 3/4 ounces) evaporated fat-free milk
  • 1 can (9.5 ounces) of white albacore tuna, packed in water
  • 2 tablespoons grated low-fat Parmesan cheese

  • Cook macaroni according to package directions.
  • Coat a large saucepan with nonstick cooking spray and place over medium heat for 1 minute. Add celery and onion; cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the soup and milk. Cook for 2 minutes until heated thoroughly. Stir in tuna and macaroni
  • Coat 1 1/2 quart casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Add the macaroni mixture and sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Serve with a large garden salad, and maybe a vegetable on the side. For dessert, we had fresh berries and non-fat plain yogurt with a bit of splenda to sweeten it.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mexican Night

Well, really, we had Chicken Fajitas and I made Bean and Cheese Burritos for the kids because my autistic son looooooves bean burritos. On a full fledged Mexican night in the past, I would normally make beef and bean and cheese burritos smothered in enchilada sauce (or homemade queso and enchilada sauce) and then bake it in the oven. Then we would have side stuff, like chips and cheese, salsa---well, basically nachos and on occasion I would even make quesadillas. Sometimes I'd also heat up taco shells and we'd have all the fixin's, like shredded lettuce and all....

However, not only is that too much food for just the four (and occasionally five) of us that are here, it's also very high in fat and sodium. I found a fajita recipe that I tried awhile back and we liked it so much that we've had it several times since. It's very tasty, and the bonus is that the fat content is relatively lower than most dinners (I hate to say "low fat", cuz one fajita is 12 grams of fat and 438 calories, but this can be cut down a bit by cutting out the guacamole and maybe using fat free tortillas and using cooking spray instead of oil. We usually have 2 fajitas apiece.)

It is however lower in sodium than most average dinners, despite the soy sauce. Keep in mind that a serving size of soy sauce is 1 tablespoon (which is equal to 3 teaspoons), and the sodium content is very high. This recipe calls for 1 teaspoon and will be dispersed throughout 5 servings.

All in all, it is very tasty and good.

Chicken Fajitas

  • 2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of oil (use cooking spray to cut fat content)
  • 1 large sweet onion, peeled and cut into thin strips
  • 1 sweet green pepper, cored seeded and cut into strips
  • 1 sweet red pepper, cored and seeded and cut into strips
  • 1/3 cup of fat free, low sodium (or no sodium) chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup of fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon of soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of honey
  • 2 teaspoons of cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon of minced garlic
  • 4 whole wheat tortillas (use fat free to cut fat content)
  • shredded lettuce
  • guacamole (optional, to control fat content)
  • salsa
  • fat free or low fat sour cream

(note: for busy cooks, buying the frozen, pre-cooked chicken already sliced into strips should not alter things much)

  1. Bake the chicken until cooked thoroughly. Slice crosswise into strips.
  2. Warm oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and peppers. Cook, stirring, until tender - about 5 minutes.
  3. In small bowl whisk broth, lime juice, soy sauce, honey, cornstarch, and garlic. Stir until cornstarch is dissolved. Add to skillet (stirring once more just before you pour it in because the honey tends to settle at the bottom) Stir constantly for 1 to 2 minutes, until slightly thickened. Add chicken and stir until warm.
  4. (To soften tortillas, place a stack of about 4 or 5 on a plate, cover with a wet paper towel and microwave for about 40 seconds)
  5. Spoon onto the tortillas. Top with condiments of choice, roll up and serve.


Bean Burritos for the Kids (easy)

  • whole wheat tortillas
  • can of fat free refried beans
  • shredded cheddar
  • mild salsa

Cook the refried beans in small saucepan until hot, stirring often. Spoon out onto the tortillas, sprinkle with a bit of cheese, a little bit of salsa and roll up. Yum!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Chicken in Sweet Cream, Potatoes, Broccoli

Tonight I made something that wasn't exactly low in fat, although I did take measures to cut fat where I could. In some instances, like with the heavy whipping cream, the fat content was inevitable. I usually make it a point to watch the fat too, but we hadn't had this dish in sooooo long and I was wanting to try a new mashed potato recipe with chicken as the main dish, and as I thought it over I realized that my autistic son was not going to have anything on his plate that he liked, being the picky eater he is. I really try to have at least one thing on the plate that my son will eat. I knew he wouldn't eat the mashed potatoes (squishy texture), or the broccoli and cauliflower mix. So - I chose the sweet cream chicken because I know he likes that a lot, and also because we hadn't had it in awhile (due to the fat content). It also goes really well with mashed potatoes.

The dinner was low sodium, though. So something accomplished there for my fiance with hypertension.

Dinner Tonight Was ----

Fresh Salad
Sweet Cream Chicken
Broccoli and Cauliflower in a cheese sauce (yum!)
Mashed Potatoes
Pineapple Bake (for dessert)

Salad - easy....

Bowl of bagged salad w/veggies
some chopped cucumber
wedged tomato
sprinkle of cheddar cheese
Fat Free ranch Dressing

Sweet Cream Chicken Ingredients
(serves 6-8)

4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter (I use Smart Squeeze. Only 5 cals, no hydrogenated oils, 0 fat, 0 sodium)
1/2 cup of low sodium or no sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup apple juice
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Trim fat from chicken, the cut into strips while raw. Sprinkle with pepper. Place butter in large skillet and add chicken strips. Cook until no longer pink, about 10-15 minutes. (Sometimes I cover the skillet and stir periodically.) Add broth and apple juice and simmer for 15 minutes.

Mix cornstarch and whipping cream in a bowl with a whisk. Add to skillet and stir until thickened and bubbly.

Mashed Potatoes Ingredients

6-8 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
3 oz low fat or fat free cream cheese, softened
6 oz low fat or fat free sour cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (or butter substitute)
1/2 package of dry ranch dressing mix

Boil potatoes until tender. Drain. Add back to pot and add remaining ingredients. Mix with mixer until creamy.


Broccoli and Cauliflower in Easy Cheese Sauce

I bought a bag of pre-cut fresh broccoli and cauliflower, pierced it and microwaved it on high for about 4 1/2 minutes to steam it.

In a small bowl, combine these three ingredients:

1/2 cup of unsalted butter, melted (or butter substitute)
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Place broccoli and cauliflower in large serving bowl, pour cheese sauce over top and toss.

Pineapple Bake Ingredients

2 beaten eggs, or egg substitute
1/4 cup of unsalted butter (or butter substitute)
1/4 cup of flour
1/2 cup of splenda
1- 20 oz can of crushed pineapple, with juice
2 teaspoons lemon juice
sprinkle of cinnamon

Combine all ingredients, then pour in rectangular casserole dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour.


Our dinner -- tonight.

Homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs

I don't know the nutritional information for this, but you can probably roughly estimate it by reading your ingredient's nutritional panel.

This is a low sodium recipe. The secret to the sauce is to let it simmer. When first mixed together, it doesn't taste so great but after simmering awhile it thickens and the flavor starts to come out.

If it seems too bland, add about 1/4 teaspoon of salt to the skillet.

Serve with a large garden salad.


8 0z whole wheat thin spaghetti
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes (no salt added)
  • 2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce (no salt added)
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste (no salt added)
  • 1/4 cup chopped, sweet onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Splenda
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons basil
Add oil to a large skillet and saute onions, for about 4 minutes. Combine the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, garlic, splenda, vinegar, oregano and basil. Stir all together and simmer over low heat for at least 30 minutes (for the best flavor). Stir frequently to prevent burning.


- 1lbGround sirloin
- 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
-1 egg, or egg substitute
-2 tblspns bread crumbs
-pepper to taste
-dash of nutmeg

make into meatballs and bake at 375 for 25 minutes