Monday, August 30, 2010

Huevos Rancheros with Vegetables and Beans

Egg dishes tend to be inexpensive and are appropriate for any time of day, from breakfast to dinner. Often I'll make a vegetable omelet for lunch or dinner because it's quick, easy and a good source of protein. The classic way of making Huevos Rancheros is to fry eggs, top with salsa and serve over warm tortillas. I took this classic dish and added a variety of vegetables and beans to increase the nutrition density and fiber. The combination of flavors is wonderful and makes a simple, but satisfying meal.

If you're like me with an empty-nest and don't need four servings, go ahead and make the entire vegetable-bean mixture and store half. It makes a delicious filling for a Mexican-style omelet or eat it as a side dish later in the week.

Huevos Rancheros with Vegetables and Beans
(Makes 4 servings)

2 teaspoons olive oil
4 yellow corn tortillas
1 medium onion, chopped
1/3 cup frozen corn
One 10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed or microwave for 4 minutes
1 plum tomato, seeded and chopped
½ zucchini, shredded
½ cup canned black beans or pinto beans (drained and rinsed)
1½ tablespoons fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped (or 2 teaspoons dried)
1¼ cups salsa, divided
4 large eggs
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large non-stick skillet, heat olive oil until hot and add corn tortillas. Cook, turning once, until hot and beginning to bubble and become crisp on the surface. Remove from skillet and drain on paper towels; keep warm.

2. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the onion and corn, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and translucent and corn is beginning to brown around the edges. Add spinach and cook for 4 minutes (if not previously microwaved), stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes, zucchini, beans, herbs and ¼ cup salsa. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine.

3. Create four circles in the vegetable-bean mixture and crack one egg into each. Sprinkle eggs with salt and pepper. Cover skillet until eggs are cooked to your liking, about 2-3 minutes. If a hard yolk is desired, turn eggs half way through cooking time.

4. Place one corn tortilla on each serving plate. Divide eggs and vegetable mixture evenly among the corn tortillas and top each with additional salsa, up to ¼ cup per serving. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information per serving: 230 calories, 28.2 g carbohydrate, 6.9 g total fat, 1.8 g saturated fat, 341.8 mg sodium, 5.5 g fiber, 11.7 g protein.

Original recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2010

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Peaches with Ginger Cream

I wait anxiously all year for peach season and I'm happy to announce: they are here once again! Peaches are my favorite fruit and eating them fresh and unadorned is my usual way. Although, I must admit, peaches do pair well with ginger and I sometime crush a couple of gingersnaps and sprinkle them over the top for a quick snack or dessert. Sometimes simple is the very best. You've heard of peaches and cream? This recipe is a twist on that classic combination. It's quick, simple to prepare and turns an ordinary peach into a heavenly, elegant dessert -- one you would be proud to serve to company!

Peaches with Ginger Cream
(Makes 6 servings)

6 ripe medium peaches
½ cup mascarpone cheese (plain)
1/3 cup skim, soy or almond milk (original flavor)
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger (or ½ teas. dried)
1/8 teaspoon mace
3 tablespoons Splenda granular
Sprinkle of nutmeg as a garnish

1. In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the mascarpone cheese, milk, ginger, mace and Splenda. With a handheld or standing mixer, beat on high until light and fluffy; set aside.

2. Peel and slice one peach into each serving dish and arrange in a spiral. Dollop 2 tablespoons of the ginger cream into the center of each serving and sprinkle lightly with grated nutmeg. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information per serving: 121 calories, 10.2 g carbohydrate, 8.2 g total fat, 4.6 g saturated fat, 15 mg sodium, 1.4 g fiber, 2.2 g protein.

Original recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2010

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Blueberry Upside Down Cake

Sometimes when I cook, things don't always turn out as I hoped, as with this recipe. When I turned it out of the pan, it didn't release properly from my old baking tin so that it ended up a broken jumble on the plate (the reason why there's no pretty picture). But the taste was terrific and this dessert was a real hit with my family, so I wanted to share it anyway. Next time when I make this, I'll be sure to coat the pan liberally with the cooking spray or just plan to eat it like a cobbler.

The benefit of substituting almond and coconut alternative flours for most of the white flour not only adds more nutrients to the finished product, but also fiber (something we all need more of in our diet). It is most notably the coconut flour that brings fiber to this recipe. If you've never tried using coconut flour to make pastries, cookies or pancakes, I highly recommend it. I love the creamy, rich texture it brings to my baked goods. It's best for sweet recipes, as it adds a hint of natural coconutty sweetness to the mix.

Blueberry Upside Down Cake
(Makes 8 servings)

1½ cups fresh blueberries, washed and drained (or frozen can be substituted)
2 tablespoons blueberry, grape jelly or seedless blackberry jam
1 teaspoon Splenda granular or 1 packet
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon lemon juice

2/3 cup almond flour (or finely ground almonds)
¼ cup coconut flour
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons zero trans-fat buttery spread (I use Smart Balance)
2/3 cup Splenda granular
1 egg
Zest of 1 lemon (about 1½ teaspoons)
2/3 cups skim or almond milk (original flavor)

1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with non-stick cooking spray.

2. In a small microwaveable bowl, mix together the water and jelly. Microwave for a few seconds until jelly melts. Add the blueberries, 1 teaspoon Splenda and lemon juice. Stir to coat berries with jelly mixture. Pour into the prepared cake pan and spread into an even layer; set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl and using a handheld or standing mixer, cream together the buttery spread and 2/3 cup Splenda. Beat until smooth and creamy. Add egg and lemon zest and beat well. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute. The batter should be thick, but pourable. Spoon batter over berries in pan and spread gently to cover berry mixture while being careful not to stir the berry juice into the batter.

4. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean and the surface is golden. Cool pan on a wire rack for about 5 minutes. Place large plate over the pan and invert cake so blueberries are on top. Let cool another 10-15 minutes until no longer steaming hot. Serve warm or at room temperature. Top with whipped cream, if desired (optional).

Nutritional Information per serving: 219.5 calories, 23.5 g carbohydrate, 12.7 g total fat, 2.7 g saturated fat, 254 mg sodium, 4.8 g fiber, 4.7 g protein

Original recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2010

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Summer Garden Pasta Alfredo

Prior to my diagnosis of T2 diabetes, my meal of choice at my favorite Italian restaurant would most often be Fettuccine Alfredo. I love that creamy, cheesy sauce over the soft noodles. But, if you look at the nutritional information per serving of the traditional recipe (see below), it's no wonder I ended up with a digestive medical illness! That doesn't change the fact that I love Pasta Alfredo and have cravings for it occasionally.

This recipe makeover really satisfies my longing for noodles and creamy cheese sauce. It includes lots of high-fiber, nutritious vegetables that are abundant in backyard gardens and farmer's markets right now. If you've run out of ways to serve zucchini and tomatoes, try this recipe! Here's my daughter's comment at the dinner table last night that says it all: "If I was served this at Olive Garden, I would think it was great! It tastes like the real thing to me."

Summer Garden Pasta Alfredo
(Makes 5 servings)

1 zucchini, quartered and sliced
1 yellow summer squash, quarter and sliced
¼ cup finely chopped onion
1 package frozen broccoli florets or 3 cups fresh
1 tablespoon flour
6.5 oz. soft cheese spread, garlic and herb flavor (I used Alouette)
1-2/3 cups skim milk or Hood Calorie Countdown Dairy Beverage
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoon torn fresh basil (or 2 teaspoons dried)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (or 2 teaspoons dried)
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
6 oz. dried carb-friendly spaghetti pasta (I used Dreamfields)

1. Cook pasta according to package directions.

2. In a large non-stick skillet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, saute the first four ingredients until tender-crisp. Add flour and cook for 30 seconds. Add cheese spread and stir until melted. Add milk and stir to combine. Cook, stirring frequently, until bubbly and thickened. Add Parmesan cheese, herbs, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Stir and cook until heated through.

3. Place drained spaghetti into a large serving bowl. Pour sauce and vegetables over the top and toss until noodles are coated. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information per serving: 303.2 calories, 37.8 g carbohydrate, 10.9 g total fat, 7.2 g saturated fat, 386 mg sodium, 5.8 g fiber, 16.4 g protein.

Original recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2010

How does this recipe compare with traditional Pasta Alfredo? Traditional Alfredo is made with loads of butter and heavy cream and doesn't have the benefit of added vegetables. This healthier recipe is seriously lower in calories, carbohydrate and saturated fat. For comparison, the nutritional information for a lunch-size portion of Fettuccine Alfredo at a favorite Italian restaurant chain is an astonishing 800 calories, 69 g carbohydrate, 48 g total fat, 30 g saturated fat, 810 g sodium, 4 g fiber, 23 g protein.