Friday, July 31, 2009

Seared Salmon with Summer Squash in a Creamy White Wine Sauce

The summer in Maine is fleeting and the growing season so short, I like to eat locally as much and as long as possible. Not much is available at the nearby farm stand until the end of July, after which the harvest begins to come in. We will have more variety in the coming weeks, but for now I have to be creative with greens and root vegetables, such as chard, carrots and beets (you should taste my chocolate cake made with grated beets!). Today I returned home with what was available in abundance this week: summer squash and broccoli. This beautiful dinner is the delicious result of today's find and was whipped up in less than 15 minutes:

Seared Salmon with Summer Squash in a Creamy White Wine Sauce

Makes 2 servings

2 center-cut salmon fillets (6 oz. each, no skin)
Salt & freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon Canola oil or Grapeseed Oil (for high temp cooking, not olive oil)
1 small to medium zucchini, chopped
1 small to medium yellow summer squash, chopped
¼ cup dry white wine
¼ cup chicken stock
1½ tablespoons chopped fresh herbs of your choice (dill, thyme, chives and/or parsley)
2 tablespoons low-fat sour cream (or plain, Greek-style yogurt)
1 teaspoon butter

1. Heat a heavy skillet over medium to high heat (I use a cast-iron skillet). Chop vegetables and herbs to have ready before cooking salmon; set aside

2. Season salmon fillets with salt & pepper and rub the oil on each side. When skillet is very hot, place the oiled salmon in the pan and do not disturb for at least 2 minutes until a brown crust has formed. Turn salmon and sear other side for at least two minutes. Turn again and complete cooking to desired doneness. (If you like your salmon on the rare side, the 2 minutes per side should be fine. I like mine cooked through to flaky and no longer pink in center, which takes another 2-3 minutes. Do not overcook, or fish will be dry.) Remove to serving plate and set aside.

3. Reduce heat to medium and add chopped vegetables to pan. Season with a little salt and pepper. Stir fry until they turn a golden color. Add wine & broth to deglaze the pan. Add 1 tablespoon of herbs and stir into sauce. Cook until reduced by half then remove pan from heat and allow to cool slightly. Add the sour cream (or yogurt) to sauce and stir to combine. Melt butter in warm sauce. To serve, divide equally and spoon vegetables and sauce over salmon. Garnish with remaining fresh herbs.

Nutritional Information per serving: 460 calories, 8 g carbohydrates, 14 g total fat, 4.3 g saturated fat, 2 g fiber, 43.75 g protein.

Original recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2009

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Raspberries & Cream Jellyroll Cake

I didn't intend to make this elegant-looking dessert when I got up this morning, but I came home with a pint of locally grown raspberries after a trip to the farm stand down the road. I felt like I had discovered a secret cache of rubies and when their natural sweetness exploded in my mouth, I knew they deserved a place of honor at our dinner table tonight.

Jellyroll cakes appear daunting, but really they are easy to prepare. The pastry is basically a long, thin angel food cake that is usually filled with high fat cream. This healthier version contains a delicious vanilla cream made from a thickened pudding, with a secret ingredient to make it extra creamy. Don't be put off by the egg whites because there's really only one trick to success: a very clean bowl and beaters. Also, this jellyroll cake is equally delicious filled with other berries or chopped fruits, such as peaches or bananas. So, have fun with it!

My Raspberries & Cream Jellyroll Cake (Makes 10 servings)

Cake Ingredients:
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup almond flour (or finely ground blanched almonds)
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
4 eggs, separated
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
4 tablespoons Splenda granular (not baking blend), divided

Filling Ingredients:
2 oz. mascarpone cheese (can be purchased in specialty cheese section of grocery)
1¼ cups 1% milk, cold
½ teaspoon vanilla extract (or seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean)
1 pkg. sugar-free, fat-free instant vanilla pudding (the size that makes 4 servings)
½ pint fresh raspberries (another berry or chopped fruit of your choice can be substituted)

To make the cake:
1. Preheat oven to 375-degrees. Line a 15” x 10” jellyroll pan with parchment paper. (Batter will not spread, so any baking sheet with low sides will do. If yours is larger than recommended pan size, fold edges of parchment paper to create the proper size space for batter.)

2. In a small bowl, mix together the flours, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

3. Separate eggs by placing the yolks into a small mixing bowl and whites into a clean, dry large mixing bowl. Set whites aside. Add vanilla to yolks and beat with a handheld or standing mixer at high speed for 5 minutes until thick and yellow. Gradually add 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 tablespoon Splenda to yolk mixture and continue beating until sugars are dissolved. Set aside.

4. Important step! Remove beaters from mixer and thoroughly clean using dishwashing liquid and a sponge in warm water. After rinsing thoroughly to remove all traces of soap, run beaters under cold water. Thoroughly dry with a clean towel and reinsert into the mixer.

5. Beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form, about 1-2 minutes. Gradually add 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons Splenda and continue beating until stiff peaks form.

6. With a rubber spatula, take about 1/5 of egg whites and mix into yolk mixture to lighten. Pour ½ of yolk mixture into egg whites and gently fold to incorporate. Repeat with remaining yolk mixture until fully incorporated, being careful not to deflate egg whites. Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the egg mixture and fold until just blended.

7. Pour into prepared pan and spread to create an even layer. Bake in preheated oven for 12-14 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. While cake is baking, lay a clean kitchen towel (large enough for entire cake) on counter and sprinkle lightly with 1 tablespoon Splenda. When cake is removed from oven, immediately place warm cake on towel and remove parchment paper. Roll cake and kitchen towel into a log shape and allow to cool completely on wire rack. (The kitchen towel will prevent cake from sticking to itself while cooling.)

8. Make filling: Place milk, vanilla and mascarpone cheese in a medium mixing bowl and beat with a wire whisk until cheese begins to blend with the milk. Add the entire package of pudding mix into the milk mixture and beat until well blended and smooth. Place in refrigerator for at least 20 minutes, until thick and set.

9. When cake is cooled, unroll from towel and spread chilled pudding mixture to about 1” from edge. Sprinkle fruit over pudding. Carefully roll cake into a log and place on serving dish. If desired, sprinkle top very lightly with powdered sugar and top with a few extra berries and mint leaves for garnish. Refrigerate until 5 minutes prior to serving. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Nutritional Information per serving (1/10th of cake): 126.3 calories, 13.3 g carbohydrate, 6.14 g fat, 1.4 g fiber, 5 g protein

Original Recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2009

How does this recipe compare to a traditional jellyroll cake? My lightened version is almost 100 calories less per serving! Also, it is much lower in carbohydrates and fat, plus it has more protein. In comparison, the average nutritional information for a slice of traditional jellyroll cake made with cream and raspberries is 223 calories, 29.2 g carbohydrates, 10 g fat, 1 g fiber, 3.7 g protein.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My Banana Almond Tea Bread with Blueberries (or not)

My daughter arrived home from college for the last few weeks of summer not long ago and presented me with the gift of two black bananas that had been stored in her refrigerator. There was nothing else to do but make banana bread! Normally, I don't eat many bananas (although I love them) because they are a dense fruit with more carbs than I usually allow for myself. But they are an excellent source of vitamins B6, C and potassium. In this recipe, I added blueberries because Maine is famous for these small, rare, blue gems that are harvested late in the season. I buy them by the bushel for only a few short weeks before they disappear, along with summer.

You'll notice in the nutritional information that each serving seems rather high in fat grams. Don't be alarmed because most of the fat comes from the almond flour, which is rich in Vitamin E and monounsaturated "good fat." Actually, the saturated fat (the bad fat) is delightfully low for such a moist, yummy bread. If you want to learn more about the alternative flours used in this recipe, check out my blog: Alternative Flours for Baking

My Banana Almond Tea Bread with Blueberries (or not)
Makes 12 servings
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup almond flour (or finely ground blanched almonds)
¼ cup coconut flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs + 1 egg white
6 teaspoons granulated sugar
6 teaspoons Splenda granular (not baking blend)
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 medium)
Optional: ¾ cup fresh or frozen blueberries (if using frozen, do not thaw)

1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Prepare an 8½” x 4½” loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a large mixing bowl and using a handheld or standing mixer, beat the eggs, egg white, sugar and Splenda on medium-high speed for 2 minutes, until light and fluffy (do not underbeat in this step because you need to incorporate air into the mixture). Add the canola oil and beat for another 30 seconds. Add the mashed banana and blend on low speed until incorporated. Add the dry ingredients all at once and beat on low speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl once until fully incorporated. Gently and quickly fold in the blueberries. Pour batter into prepared pan.

3. Bake in preheated oven for 45-55 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Test at 45 minutes and bake longer if additional time is needed. Do not overbake to avoid drying out.

4. Remove from oven to a wire rack. Allow bread to cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and continue to cool on wire rack for another hour. This bread can be left at room temperature for 1 day or overnight, or wrap well and store in refrigerator.

NOTE: This batter can be made into 12 muffins. Bake in 350-degree oven for only 15-20 minutes until golden and toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Do not overbake. Cool on wire rack before serving.

Nutritional Information per serving (with blueberries): 154.8 calories, 18 g carbohydrate, 8.15 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 2.7 g fiber, 4.3 g protein
Original recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2009

How does this recipe compare with regular Banana Bread?
My version is higher in fiber, higher in protein, lower in total fat & saturated fat and significantly lower in carbohydrates and calories. For comparison, here are some average nutritional numbers for purchased Banana Bread: 215 calories, 34 g carbohydrates, 12 g total fat, 4 g saturated fat, 1.5 g fiber, 2 g protein.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cherry Limeade & Homemade Lemonades

While growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, there used to be a drive-in restaurant on Peoria that I would frequent during my high school years. Pennington's was the hangout and whenever I'd go, there would most always be someone from my high school munching a burger or sipping a fountain drink nearby. It was the place to be seen and to check out everyone else! I will always remember fondly their Cherry Limeade customized to my order and made with plain water.

Recently, I purchased an inexpensive citrus juicer to recreate this refreshing drink. Of course, I didn't need a machine, but it makes it easier and opened the door to lots of other delicious recipes using nutritious, sunny citrus fruits, especially lemons!

Cherry Limeade (Makes 1 serving)

Mix together:

the juice of one lime
1 1/4 cups of water (substitute carbonated water, if you like it fizzy)
2 tablespoons of sugar-free Cherry syrup
2 tablespoons of Splenda granular (or to taste)
Mint garnish, if desired

Nutritional Information: 19 calories, 6 g carbs

Homemade Lemonade: Follow the recipe above, except omit sugar-free syrup and adjust Splenda to taste. You may need to add more water, if too tart.

Raspberry Lemonade: Follow the recipe for limeade, except substitute sugar-free Raspberry syrup for the cherry flavor. Adjust Splenda to taste. You may need to add more water, if too tart.

How does this recipe compare with a regular Cherry Limeade?
The difference is shocking! My recipe is far lower in calories and carbohydrates. For comparision, the average nutritional information for a Cherry Limeade purchased at a restaurant is 240 calories, 62 g carbohydrates.

My Favorite Homemade Pudding

I ADORE pudding! It's my go-to dessert when I crave something comforting and sweet. It's easy to just open a box of the instant (full of a lot of added chemicals), but this recipe with all the flavor variations is really simple and quick to prepare. It's delicious warm or cold, depending on your tastes...or whether you have the patience to wait! The cornstarch is used for thickening the pudding, but it also acts to slow down the glycemic response so that your blood glucose won't spike and fall. If you suffer from nighttime lows, cornstarch dissolved in a little milk is often recommended to slowly release carbohydrate into your bloodstream to prevent a crash. I think eating about a half serving of this pudding is a much tastier treatment!

Makes 4 servings

3/4 cup Splenda granular (not the baking blend)
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 1/2 cups 1% milk
2 or 3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten (use 3 for a richer pudding or if making vanilla or eggnog)
Pinch salt
2 teaspoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

Directions: Whisk the sugar and the cornstarch together in a medium saucepan. Add the milk and whisk until smooth. Add the egg yolks and salt and cook, stirring constantly with a whisk, over medium heat until thickened enough to thickly coat the back of a spoon and just beginning to bubble. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in any flavorings (see below) and butter. Pour into a large serving bowl or 4 individual serving dishes. Let cool before placing in refrigerator. Chill for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days, or until set and thoroughly chilled.

Flavor Variations:

For Vanilla Pudding: Use 3 egg yolks, as suggested for a richer pudding. Add 2 tsp. vanilla extract to mixture after cooking with the butter.

For Chocolate Pudding: Add ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder to dry ingredients and increase Splenda by 2 rounded tablespoons (before adding the milk). After cooking, add 1 tsp. vanilla extract to mixture with the butter.

For Eggnog Pudding: Use 3 egg yolks, as suggested for a richer pudding. Add 1½ tsp. vanilla extract and ½ tsp. ground nutmeg to mixture after cooking with the butter.

For Lemon Pudding: Add 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest to the mixture before cooking. After removing from heat, add ¼ to 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (or to desired tartness) with the butter.

Nutritional Information per serving:
1. Basic Vanilla (using 3 yolks): 175 calories, 20 carbs, 7 fat, .1 fiber, 7.28 protein.
2. Chocolate (using 2 yolks): 179.75 calories, 24.25 carbs, 6.25 fat, 1.78 fiber, 7.63 protein

Original recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2009

How does this recipe compare with regular pudding?
First, it's difficult to compare with purchased pudding because the flavor and texture of homemade pudding is so far superior to store-bought, there is no comparison! But, for the sake of comparing nutritional information, I will do it. My recipe is lower in calories and significantly lower in carbohydrates, plus much higher in protein. The average nutritional information for the same serving size of purchased chocolate pudding is 210 calories, 40.6 g carbs, 6.5 g fat, 1 g fiber, 3 g protein.

Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

Okay, let's start with the basics. Here is a DELICIOUS, nutritious, moist vanilla cupcake that will make you realize that being diabetic doesn't mean giving up cake! My husband and daughter (my official taste testers) were amazed at how yummy these were and couldn't believe they were actually good for you.

Promise me that you won't run away when you see the list of ingredients. Yes, there is zucchini in this cupcake! But you won't taste it and, if you don't tell your kids, they won't ever know they're eating their vegetables when they're munching on this sweet, decadent treat. Because there's not a lot of oil, it adds needed moisture (not to mention something healthy) to this recipe to boost the nutrition. Tip: To disguise that it's in there, be sure to peel all the green skin off the zucchini before finely grating it. If you want to learn more about the alternative flours used in this recipe, check out my blog: Alternative Flours for Baking.

Makes 12 cupcakes
1 cup of all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons coconut flour
6 tablespoons almond flour (or finely ground almonds)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 tablespoons Splenda granular (not the baking blend)
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons good vanilla extract (or seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean + 1/2 tsp. extract)
1-1/4 cups peeled zucchini, finely grated (make sure it is finely grated)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Arrange a rack in center of oven. Line muffin tin with paper liners. This recipe makes 12 cupcakes.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, coconut flour, almonds, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar and Splenda with a handheld or standing mixer until thick and light-colored, about 4 minutes. (Don't underbeat this step, you need to fluff up the eggs with air.) Add canola oil and vanilla and beat another 30 seconds. Beat in the grated zucchini on low speed until fully incorporated.

4. Add the dry ingredients all at once and beat on low speed until fully incorporated, scraping down the bowl once with a rubber spatula. Use a 1/3 cup measure to spoon batter into the muffin cups.

5. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Test after 15 minutes and, if needed, bake another 5 to 8 minutes. The tops will only be slightly browned. Do not overbake because you don't want them to dry out.

6. Remove cupcakes to wire rack and cool completely before icing with the chilled frosting.

For the chocolate pudding frosting:
2 tablespoons dark chocolate chips (70% cocoa or higher)
2 oz. mascarpone cheese (in the speciality cheese display at the grocery)
1 small box of sugar-free, fat-free chocolate pudding mix (the one that makes 4 servings)
1 cup of 1% milk

To make frosting: Melt 2 TB chocolate chips in a double boiler until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool slightly. Add the mascarpone cheese and, with a handheld mixer, beat until light and fluffy. When chocolate mixture is well blended, add 1 cup milk and beat again. Finally, add the dry powder from the pudding mix and beat until thickened. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes or longer until quite thick and set. Stir before icing cupcakes.

NOTE: This frosting is best if eaten soon after icing cupcakes, so only frost what will be eaten immediately. Refrigerate any leftovers until needed again. It will keep for 3 days if kept cool.

Nutritional Information per cupcake with 2 generous tablespoons of frosting: 193.15 calories, 23.4 g carbohydrates, 9.3 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 2.7 g fiber, 5.1 g protein.

Original recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2009

How does this recipe compare with a regular cupcake with frosting?
My recipe is higher in fiber and protein, plus significantly lower in calories, carbohydrates and somewhat lower in saturated fat. For comparison, here is the average nutritional information for a purchased vanilla cupcake with chocolate frosting: 310 calories, 55 g carbs, 10 g total fat, 4 g saturated fat, 1.5 g fiber, 3 g protein.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Eating a diabetic diet doesn't mean giving up the foods you love...

Welcome to my blog especially for those wishing to learn ways to cook healthier, without sacrificing flavor. I've been a diabetic for over 10 years and am happy to say that my diagnosis was the best thing that ever happened to me and my health!

Certainly, at first, it wasn't easy changing my ways. I was raised in the South and all of my young life I was fed the Paula Deen diet! I'm not blaming anyone, but that's just the way everyone ate at the time and in that region of the country. Since my diagnosis, I've learned to eat and cook in a completely different way. That doesn't mean I don't crave a good cupcake now and again, but I've developed some incredible recipes that make it possible to indulge occasionally without guilt or sending my blood glucose out of orbit. I will share with you some of my clever, healthier ingredient swap outs that will have you rejoicing!

You CAN have your cake and eat it, too!
These recipes are good for everyone, not just diabetics. Please give them a try, share them with your friends, feed them to your family -- everyone will love them. I'd really like to hear what you think, so leave a comment. Thank you!

Alternative Flours for Baking

If you go to the health food store, you'll see an array of flours to choose from. In my recipes, I have included a few alternative flours to cut the carbs and boost the nutrition. It just so happens that these alternative flours are gluten free, but going completely gluten free isn't my goal here. My main concern is lowering the carbohydrates without sacrificing flavor or changing the texture so much as to make the final result "weird."

Here are a couple of alternative flours I use to replace some of the all-purpose flour in my baked goods:

ALMOND FLOUR is nothing other than ground, blanched almonds (they do have almond flour made from almonds with skin, but that doesn't work in my recipes). You can grind your own in a blender until it resembles a fine meal, but be careful not to over process or you'll end up with almond butter. If I don't have any almond flour on hand, I usually grind my own. Almond flour has fewer carbs than regular flour, plus it adds Vitamin E and cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated "good fats" to the final product. You can find almond flour in most health food stores, at Whole Foods or online.

The very best is Honeyville Almond Flour and can be purchased online. It has the finest grind, making it virtually undetectable in baked goods. It is the brand I use and recommend. Bob's Red Mill Almond Flour is the brand usually available in health food stores. It has a coarser grind and, although it is an acceptable alternative, it will add a slight crunch to the final product, similar to the texture of cornbread.

COCONUT FLOUR is the by-product of coconut after the coconut milk has been extracted. It has been ground into a fine, light flour and can replace up to 20% of flour in a recipe without much change. It does have a lovely coconut aroma, but in baking that coconut smell and taste disappears, especially when only a small amount has been used. Coconut flour is low in digestible carbs, high in fiber and boosts the nutrition of your baked goods by the addition of the vitamins and minerals naturally present in the flour. You can purchase coconut flour in health food stores, at Whole Foods or online. The brand I use is Bob's Red Mill Coconut Flour, which is available at Whole Foods.

Don't be afraid to experiment with these delicious, healthier alternatives in your own recipes today!