Savory Salmon with Spaghetti Squash

IMG 0957 1 Savory Salmon with Spaghetti Squash

I’ll admit that I have not always been a fan of salmon.

About 10 years ago, I ordered a salmon dish that was on a menu at a ranch in Colorado, since it was basically my only option besides steak (not a surprise, considering the setting.) Without going into detail, let’s just say that I couldn’t even look at salmon for years, much less think about eating it.

Finally, I got up the nerve to prepare the heart-healthy fish for myself after reading so much about the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids, and now I’m a huge fan! This recipe is one of my favorite ways to prepare salmon, but it’s also good on a simple bed of whole grains with a side of steamed veggies.

Just a note: Wild-caught salmon has higher levels of usable omega-3s than their farm-raised counterparts. In addition, most farmed salmon has artificial “pink” coloring added to it, and are their feed often contains pesticides and other nasty synthetic (often toxic) ingredients.  Wild salmon is the way to go!

Now, let’s get on with the recipe, which serves 2 people:

Ingredients:

2  5-oz. salmon filets

1/3 C  Zero % fat Greek yogurt

3 tsp. lemon juice

1/2 tsp. dried basil

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (use less if you don’t like a little spice!)

1 med. spaghetti squash (makes about 4 cups)

1 med. red onion, sliced thinly

4 Tbsp. Bragg Liquid Amino Acids (you can substitute low-sodium soy sauce, but the calories will be a bit higher.)

Dash of granulated garlic

Spaghetti Squash:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Rinse squash, the cut in half lengthwise and scrape out all seeds.

Sprinkle the inside of the squash with garlic salt and pepper, the place (cut side down) in  a 9×13  baking dish with about 1/4″ of water on the bottom. Cover.

Bake 45 min. or until you can easily pull the strands apart with a fork.

Going in the same direction as the strands, pull them apart and place on a plate. (You might need to microwave this for a few seconds before serving with the salmon; it cools quickly.)

Greek Yogurt Topping:

Mix together Greek yogurt, 1 tsp. lemon juice, dried basil, and cayenne.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Onion:

Cut each onion slice in half.

Spray a small pan with ze0-calorie cooking spray, and cook onion over medium heat, spraying again (if necessary) to prevent sticking.

Cook until onions are soft and lightly browned, about 10 min.

Salmon:

First, mix marinade ingredients (Bragg Liquid Aminos or soy sauce, 2 tsp. lemon juice, granulated garlic) in a small bowl.

Place salmon (thawed, if using frozen) skin-side down on a deep plate and brush with 1/3 of the marinade.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour.

Spray heated pan with zero-calorie cooking spray (like canola).

Place salmon in the pan and pour remaining marinade over the top to coat.

Cook over medium heat, 4-5 min. per side, or until cooked through.

Remove skin, if necessary.

Assembly:

On a dinner plate, layer spaghetti squash, then onion, then salmon, and top with Greek yogurt mixture.

Nutrition Information:

(Per serving, serves 2)

Calories: 286

Fat: 8.5 g (1.5 g saturated)

Fiber: 5 g

Protein: 26.5 g

 

 

 

Tropical Slaw

 

This tropical coleslaw is a great low-calorie topper for fish tacos or is wonderful served by itself as a unique, flavorful side dish.

Tropical Mexican Slaw 1 Tropical Slaw

Ingredients:

¾ of a small pineapple, diced

½ of a small head of green cabbage, shredded

2T finely chopped cilantro

½ of a red bell pepper, diced

½ of a cucumber, diced

Juice of 1 lime

2T Annie’s Naturals fat free mango vinaigrette

Pinch celery seed (optional)

Ground black pepper, to taste

 

Simply toss these ingredients together and chill well. If you can’t find Annie’s mango vinaigrette, you can substitute another tropical flavored vinaigrette. I love Annie’s flavors, and the fat free/lite dressings are super low-cal!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Savory Spicy Tofu

IMG 0657 1 Savory Spicy Tofu

Tofu is a great low-calorie protein, and a food that I use to help me maintain my desired weight. Alot of people have an aversion to tofu, but that’s mainly because they don’t know how to prepare it or have had a bad experience. I’ve had people tell me, “I’ve tried tofu and didn’t like it.” Come to find out, they tried a bite of plain tofu straight from the package. No wonder they didn’t like it! Tofu is wonderfully versatile, it just takes a little experimentation to find what works for your individual taste.

It took me awhile to develop tofu recipes that I would actually look forward to eating and wanted to share with the world. I finally learned some tricks of the tofu trade and this spicy tofu recipe is one of my all-time favorites.

I do recommend using the Bragg liquid aminos (found in most health food stores and some regular grocery stores) in this recipe because it has zero calories and tastes great. Also, I always use organic tofu, or at least non-GMO tofu to be sure that the soybeans were not genetically modified.

This dish can be served warm or cold (I prefer it warm, but it depends how you want to serve it.)

Ingredients:

14 oz. block low-fat extra firm tofu, drained and patted dry

2 T Bragg liquid aminos or low-sodium soy sauce

1 ½ T Sriracha hot chili sauce

1 T brown rice vinegar

½ T agave nectar

1 tsp. toasted sesame oil

1 ½ T vegan mayonnaise

Directions:

  1. Cut tofu into ¼” to ½” cubes.
  2. Preheat large nonstick skillet, spray with zero-cal cooking spray. Cook tofu over medium-high heat for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.
  3. While tofu is cooking, combine liquid aminos (or soy sauce), Sriracha, vinegar, agave nectar, sesame oil and 1 T water in a small bowl.
  4. When tofu is golden, add mixture to the skillet and simmer for a few minutes until the liquid is absorbed.
  5. Remove from heat, then toss the tofu with mayonnaise and serve.

Serves 2

(Per Serving) Calories: 153, Fat: 7g, Fiber: .5g, Protein: 14g

Serving Suggestions:

-       As a green salad topping

-       Over a bed of brown rice and steamed veggies

-       In a pita with lettuce

-       With stir-fried rice noodles and veggies

-       As spring roll filling

In the featured photo, I served the tofu on a bed of romaine leaves with raw orange bell pepper, tomatoes, and pine nuts.

Mediterranean Kale Quinoa

This is a really healthy dish, and a great way to include some kale in your diet. My husband, who is not a big fan of kale, even likes this meal. I left out the exact ingredient measurements so that you can adapt to your personal preference, but the ingredient combination really works. I always keep some quinoa, veggie stock, and garbanzo beans on hand, so I don’t really have to buy much at the store when I decide to whip this up.Mediterranean Kale Quinoa Mediterranean Kale Quinoa

1.Cook quinoa according to directions on the box or bag, using low-sodium vegetable stock instead of water.

2. Sautee some chopped onion, garlic and orange (or yellow) bell pepper until soft, using olive oil or cooking spray. I like to season the veggies with some cayenne and/or black pepper when they are almost finished cooking.

3.Sautee some kale (see my recipe below).*

4. Warm some garbanzo beans.

5.In a large bowl, combine vegetables and garbanzo beans, spoon mixture over the  quinoa.

6. Top with either plain Greek yogurt (mixed with a little lemon juice) or some Tzatziki sauce.

I like to serve this dish with a mini pita or two. You can also add a little crumbled feta cheese to the recipe, if desired.

*My favorite way to make sautéed kale:

1 lb. fresh kale, rinsed and coarsely chopped

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves fresh garlic, minced or finely sliced

½ cup low-sodium vegetable stock

1Tbsp. red wine vinegar

Warm olive oil in a large pan over medium heat, add garlic and cook until just softened. Increase to high heat, add kale and vegetable stock, cover, cook 5-7 minutes. Remove cover and cook until liquid is absorbed. Toss with red wine vinegar and lightly season with garlic salt, pepper, or your choice of seasonings to taste.

Purple Potato Eater

PurplePotatoes2 Purple Potato Eater

I found some beautiful purple potatoes at the grocery store the other day, and had to buy them. I had no idea how to prepare them or what they tasted like, but that’s half the fun! I get sort of giddy when I find new produce or healthy products to try out. Sometimes they become my new favorite thing, or I vow never to go near them again (like some weird fruit that I tried in Mexico). These potatoes (luckily) were very good. Oddly, they tasted just like regular potatoes, but their purple color is said to increase their nutritional value. The anthocyanin pigments (that produce their purple hue) are known antioxidants, so they give a little extra health kick.

So, what did I decide to do with these lovely potatoes?

1. I sliced them, quartered the slices then combined the potatoes in a bowl with some small fresh broccoli florets.

2. I tossed the potatoes and broccoli in olive oil, put them on a baking sheet, and baked the combo for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

3. I mixed the baked broccoli and potatoes with some cooked warm lentils, sautéed onions and crumbled feta cheese.

It was tasty, and the purple added a great splash of color to the dish. If you ever find these little potatoes at your local farmer’s market or grocery store, I would definitely recommend trying them for yourself!

Super Skinny Jalapeno Poppers

Baked Poppers2 Super Skinny Jalapeno PoppersMy love of  jalapeno poppers, paired with my dislike of unnecessarily fattening food drove me to find a better way to prepare these tasty little tidbits.

The best part is that these super skinny poppers are also super easy to make, and always a crowd pleaser. 

The only ingredients you will need are:

-Jalapeno Peppers

-Laughing Cow Light cheese wedges, Swiss or Queso Fresco & Chipotle flavors. A combo of the two flavors is my favorite.

-Light shredded Mexican blend cheese

-Vegetarian “bacon” bits

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Wash the jalapeno peppers, cut the tops off, then slice lengthwise (end to end).

3. Seed and devein the peppers. (If you don’t remove all of the seeds or veins, you might have a very HOT popper!)

4. Mix the Laughing Cow cheese with the Mexican blend (don’t go overboard on the Mex blend for calorie purposes), then microwave for a few seconds to soften.

5. Scoop the cheese blend into the pepper half, then place on a baking sheet sprayed with zero calorie cooking spray. Sprinkle each half with the veggie bacon bits and a pinch of the Mexican blend cheese.

6. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until the pepper starts to wrinkle and the cheese is completely melted.

NOTE: Each of these poppers is only about 35 calories, which is amazing compared with their high calorie and fat counterparts.

My Favorite Flatbread Pizza

      Flatbread pizzas are one of my favorite things to make for lunch. They are low-calorie, taste amazing, and are packed with healthy veggies. Here’s how I usually make them, but there are lots of different flavor options that are fun to experiment with:

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

-Spray baking sheet with zero-cal cooking spray.

-Place the flatbread on the baking sheet. I use FlatOut brand (90-120 cal. My Favorite Flatbread1 My Favorite Flatbread Pizzaper flatbread).

-Spread one wedge of Laughing Cow light cheese (35 cal.) to evenly cover the flatbread.

-Heat 1 tsp. of olive oil in a pan and sautee a mixture of your favorite vegetables until soft, adding some seasoning as you go. I typically use fresh garlic, onion, spinach, broccoli, mushroom, and bell pepper with a vegetable seasoning blend. Hint: If the pan gets dry, use a little of your zero-cal cooking spray.

-Spread the veggies around the flatbread, then top with some low-calorie cheese. I also like to top mine with flaxseeds and halved grape tomatoes before baking.

-Bake for 10-14 minutes, or until flatbread is crispy around the edges.

-Using a pizza cutter, slice into 4 pieces and enjoy!

Other Ideas:  Spoon a little marinara over the flatbread for a more authentic “pizza” flavor. Or, try making a Mexican pizza using jalapenos, cilantro, avocado, vegetarian refried beans, chunky salsa, green chilis, etc. The possibilities are endless!

Perfect Pinto Beans

Perfect Pintos Perfect Pinto Beans

These poor dried beans never get the respect they deserve. They are tasty little nutritional powerhouses that often go unnoticed in their spot at the store.

The dried version has better flavor and less sodium than canned beans (and they’re cheaper), plus they’re a low-calorie, low-fat food that is a great source of fiber, complex carbs (the good kind), protein and other nutrients.

I usually make a large batch and freeze some for later (they only keep for about a week in the fridge). You should store and freeze the beans in their cooking juices. Making the dried beans takes a little more work up front, but when you are pulling a bag of frozen ones out of the freezer, it’s just about as easy as opening a can. They taste SO much better than the canned version when the right flavors are added.

A pressure cooker is a great option, but if you don’t have one, this is my absolute favorite way to cook the perfect pinto bean.

What you need: Dried  pinto beans, low sodium vegetable broth, fresh onion, garlic, jalapeno and cilantro, olive oil, chili powder, cumin, and sea salt. (There aren’t any exact measurements so that you can customize the ingredients to your liking.)

TIP:  Don’t add any salt before the beans are almost done cooking because it will lengthen the cooking time.

Step 1: Rinse beans thoroughly, removing any hard debris.

Step 2: Soak beans in water overnight (8 hours or so), making sure they are covered by at least 3 inches.

Step 3: Drain water and rinse the beans.

Step 4: In a large pot, combine rinsed beans and low sodium vegetable broth, covering by 2-3 inches. You can use water, but the vegetable broth adds great flavor.

Step 5: Boil for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, partially covered. (If the liquid evaporates during cooking to the point that the beans are no longer covered, add more hot liquid to the pot.) Skim off the foam that collects on the top.

Step 5 ½: In the meantime, sauté some diced onion, garlic and jalapeno (seeds removed) in a mixture of olive oil and chili powder.

Step 6: Add sautéed vegetables, cumin, sea salt, fresh chopped cilantro, and more chili powder to the beans. Simmer for another ½ hour to an hour, or until you have reached your desired consistency.

Enjoy the perfect pinto beans! I love them in burritos, as a side dish with Spanish rice, as a salad topper, in bean dip, as a snack…you get the idea.

Simple Chile Lime Shrimp

Chile Lime Shrimp

9 large shrimp (31-40 per pound)

½ of a fresh lime

Powdered chile pepper

All-purpose season salt

Garlic powder  (optional)

Clean and devein shrimp, remove tails.   Spread shrimp out on a plate, squeeze lime juice over the top, then sprinkle seasoning on both sides of all the shrimp, coating to your liking.

Spray a medium saute pan with zero-calorie cooking spray.  Heat pan, cook shrimp over medium heat for about 1 ½ minutes, then flip them over and cook on the other side another minute or so.  You can tell when the shrimp are done when they turn from an opaque gray color to a more pink color.  Another measure of doneness is not to let the shrimp curl too much; if it is in the shape of a “c” it is cooked, in the shape of an “o” it’s overcooked (and probably chewy.)

Serves One

Calories:  110

Fat:  2g

Fiber: 0g

Proein: 22g

 Alternate preparation: After seasoning, place on skewers with raw vegetables like onion and peppers and grill instead of saute. 

Serving sugggestions: Great tossed with veggies, served on top of rice, lentils, or a salad. For a little Mexican flair, use in tacos or a burrito.

That’s How I Roll (Sushi)

 

Mango Tuna Roll Resize Thats How I Roll (Sushi)

Living in a small town in Colorado has its’ advantages. Sushi availability is not one of them. After one too many encounters with questionable fish (I’m not a fan of gambling with the freshness of my seafood), I decided it was time to take sushi making into my own hands…literally.

     The learning process was not without a few mishaps. It looked like a rice cooker exploded in my kitchen on the first attempt, and I there was definitely a backup food plan for “just in case it doesn’t turn out.” I watched an instructional DVD, which was much like a Sushi 101 class, which was actually very helpful. What I wish my virtual professor would have told me about, however, is the existence of pre-rinsed sushi rice.  I learned of this magical product after I had made sushi a few times, and tried not to think about the moments of my life that were wasted on the mind-numbing task of rice washing.

      Having eaten sushi in different parts of the world really opened my eyes to more creative ingredient combinations. Apple, for instance, is one of my favorite ingredients. It adds an incredible sweet crunchiness, but you do have to be open to the idea of unconventional flavor and texture.  I even use a soft, low-calorie cheese (like Laughing Cow wedges) instead of cream cheese in some rolls because it gives a nice creaminess without being too rich.

    My latest roll combos:

1. (Pictured) Mango Tuna Roll – Inside: spicy tuna and lobster mix*, red bell pepper and mango. Outside: Mango, Ahi tuna, crunch and Sriracha.

2. Spicy Crab Roll – Inside: Spicy crab, roasted red pepper, cucumber. That’s it.

3. Random Roll – Inside: Spicy crab, apple, carrot, red bell pepper. Outside: lightly seared  Ahi tuna with a dot of hot sauce on each piece.

* I make a really easy spicy mixture by combining Sriracha (the red sauce with the rooster on the bottle) and vegan mayo…much healthier than regular mayo, and I think the flavor is better. Then, I mix that combo with chopped seafood or veggies.

       I get the majority of my ingredients at the local Natural Foods store, but most grocery stores carry the basic ingredients you will need. I’ve never found packaged real crab that doesn’t taste “fishy”….let me know if you have. FYI, I went to buy some ginger the other day from the Oriental Foods store and saw Aspartame and Saccharin on the ingredient list, so beware of that!

If you’ve never made sushi before, I recommend giving it a try. It takes a little time, but designing your own ingredient combinations is really fun. If nothing else, you will appreciate the work that goes into the sushi you eat at a restaurant!