Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Paula Deen's Lean: Stuffed Cranberry Sauce

If you are anything like me, there is nothing appealing about cranberry sauce from the can. It has never had a place in my heart...or my stomach for that matter. This past Thanksgiving, a few minutes from sitting down, my mother asked, "Linds, do you have any cranberries?" I could sense a little disappointment when I had to break the news to her that there would be no cranberry sauce. I just didn't buy any this year. It is one of those things that has always been on the table, yet no one eats it. However, as I learned the hard way, when it isn't there, it is missed.
So, in efforts to redeem myself, I didn't just do cranberries for Christmas. I went all out and gave my family the jazzed-up version of the canned cranberry! I present to you, Mrs. Hoggles Stuffed Cranberry Sauce.

Yields 6 Servings


2 tablespoons Hellman's mayonnaise dressing

1 8-ounce FAT FREE cream cheese, softened

1 16-ounce jellied cranberry sauce, chilled

1/4 cup chopped pecans


Mix cream cheese and mayonnaise until creamy. It needs to be spreadable. Add pecans and mix well.

Slice cranberry sauce in 1/4 inch rounds and spread cream cheese mixture on one round and place another round on top, sandwich style. Keep in fridge until time to serve.


It wasn't enough to turn every "non-cranberry sauce eater", but everyone that tried them was impressed. There is such a nice combination of tart from the cranberry, cream from the cheese and crunch from the pecans. It is actually quite a nice combination. Even though cranberry sauce is not a favorite, I had to try them because a cook always samples what they serve (just ask Chef Ramsey of Hell's Kitchen) and I am so glad that I did! I guess my taste buds have matured since swearing off cranberry sauce as a child.
For your next big holiday meal, I would strongly suggest throwing together this simple and delicious side. ENJOY!!

NUTRITION FACTS (per serving): 193.17 calories;  3.78g fat;  33.56g carbohydrate;  5.99g protein;  1.27g fiber

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Paula Deen's Lean: Holiday Whoopie Pies

I was formally introduced to Whoopie Pies about 2-1/2 years ago. And life hasn't been the same ever since. Talk about a favorite indulgence. These things top the charts! Although I have eaten many a Whoopie, I have never actually attempted making my own. The real reason is that my Aunt Carla makes the most amazing cookies you will ever eat. They are so wonderful, that family and friends encouraged her to start a business making them; therefore Carla's Cookies was born. Do yourself a favor and check them out sometime.

If you have ever had one, then you will agree that Whoopie Pies are great in the original style. It's difficult to imagine one tasting any better. But when I saw these Holiday Whoopie Pies on Paula's website, I absolutely had to give them a try.

Yields 18-21 large whoopie pies or 33-38 medium


For Cookies...

3 cups SPLENDA
1 cup "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter", softened
1 cup Egg Beaters (4 large eggs)
½ cup apple sauce
1 tablespoon vanilla
3.5 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups Whole Wheat flour
2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups 1% milk


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two half-sheet pans with Silpats or lightly grease.

In a large (at least 5 quart) bowl of stand mixer, cream sugar and butter with paddle attachment for 3-5 minutes. Add eggs, beating well after each. Add vegetable oil and vanilla and beat.

In a large separate bowl, sift dry ingredients together.

With mixer on very low speed, gradually add half of the dry ingredients to the egg mixture. Blend well. With mixer running on low, add 1 1/2 cups of the milk. Mix until blended. Repeat with remaining dry ingredients and milk.

Using a standard 1/4-cup ice cream scoop, place batter on baking sheets, spacing 2-3” apart. Bake 12 minutes, rotating pans (move lower pan to top level and top level to lower level) after the first 6 minutes. Remove cookies from oven and transfer to cooling racks. Repeat with remaining batter. Don’t worry if some are a little cracked on the top – that’s normal! Cool completely prior to filling.

For Filling...

1 1/2 cups "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter"
1 1/2cups vegetable shortening
9 cups confectioners’ sugar
4 cups marshmallow creme
4 tablespoons 1% milk
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
½ teaspoon salt
1 lb hard peppermint candies


Combine first 7 ingredients in large bowl of mixer and beat until fluffy with paddle attachment.

Place peppermints in heavy plastic bag and crush with hammer or flat side of meat tenderizer. Sift crushed mints through fine sieve to separate dust from bits of candy. Fold ½ of candy bits plus “dust” into the filling. Reserve other half of candy pieces for garnish.

ASSEMBLY: Place a scoop of filling on the flat side of one cookie. Place another cookie, flat side down on top, pressing down gently. Roll edges of icing in remaining crushed peppermints. Package immediately in clear cellophane bags and tie with ribbon.


WHOOPIE! These things were really good! I strongly suggest using a cookie dropper (or something smaller than an ice cream scoop). I used an ice cream scoop and they were HUGE! I ended up slicing my first batch in half and filling them that way. I got wise after round one and made them a lot smaller for the remaining pies. They didn't turn out as neat as I had hoped, but this was my first time ever making them. Hey, it's fun to get messy every now and then. Next time I'll know how to make them smaller. Overall, they still taste fantastic and that is what matters most.
This is a really fun baking recipe and the peppermint adds that little bit of a festive punch. I think my Aunt Carla would be proud.

I would also like to mention that although this recipe came from Paula Deen's site, it actually belongs to Juliann Mathews. Thank you Juliann!
Happy Holidays! ENJOY!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Paula Deen's Lean: Sugar Spice and Everything Nice Mixed Nuts

Would you love a delicious treat that makes the entire house smell like Christmas? Then you need to try this super-easy and delicious recipe for sugar-spiced nuts. The recipe name says mixed nuts, but I made mine with just pecans; a personal preference. I am sure that it would be delicious with almonds or a mixed assortment. Simply replace the pecans with any type of nut you choose for a wonderful snack that you don't have to feel guilty about nibbling on throughout the holidays. Paula's recipe for Sugar Spice and Everything Nice Mixed Nuts can be found on her website at Pauladeen.com.

Makes 1 lb. of Nuts ~ 16 servings

1 lb. pecan halves (almonds or mixed nuts)
1 cup of Splenda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 egg white
1 tablespoon water
3/4 teaspoon salt


Preheat oven 250 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, whip water and egg white until frothy. In a separate bowl, mix together Splenda, cinnamon and salt. Add pecans to egg white and water; coating nuts evenly. Add the sugar mixture to the bowl and mix until pecans are coated. Spread the pecans on a lightly sprayed cookie sheet.

Bake for one hour; stir every 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Store in a tin or other sealable container.

So delicious! This recipe adds tons of flavor without adding significant amounts of fat and calories. The Splenda has zero calories per cup compared to real sugar which has roughly 774 calories, according to calorieking.com. Most nuts, including pecans, offer several health benefits when eaten regularly and in reasonable portions. To learn more about how nuts are "heart healthy", visit mayoclinic.com. This recipe is wonderful to make for yourself or to share with others. Throw some pecans in a festive dish for a great couch-side snack or place them in a holiday tin as a gift. Almost everyone is sure to enjoy this sweet treat. ENJOY!

NUTRITION FACTS (per 1-oz. serving): 244.56 calories;  20.42g fat;  16.78g carbohydrate;  2.84g protein;  2.95g fiber

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Paula Deen's Lean: Chocolate Chip Cookie

The Chocolate Chip Cookie is the most popular, likable, most recognizable cookie out there. Who doesn't know the Chocolate Chip? Better yet, who doesn't love a chocolate chip cookie?!? I have the best memories of baking these sweets in my Mom's kitchen growing up; pouring in the chips, stirring the batter and my favorite part...licking the bowl. Oh, so much fun! Now that I am on a mission to make my favorite things lean, it was time to tackle the Chocolate Chip Cookie. Paula has a recipe for Three Chocolate Cookies, which I guess is the closest thing to compare my version to.

Makes 2-3 Dozen


1 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cup WHOLE WHEAT flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 sticks "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter", softened
3/4 cup SPLENDA
3/4 cup SPLENDA light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 egg whites
2 cups Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Chips


Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Stir together flour, baking soda and salt. Beat butter, Splenda, brown sugar Splenda and vanilla in large bowl with a mixer, until creamy. Add eggs; beat well. gradually add flour mixture, beating well. Stir in chocolate chips.
Drop by rounded teaspoon onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.


When hosting Redskins fans on game day, the mood can be a little down at times. What can bring a smile to a disappointed fan's face? Could cookies help out? Sure! I put a plate of these down for the the men on football Sunday and they were gone within minutes! They were smiling and saying things like, "I can't believe these are one of your Lean Paula Deen recipes...they are so good!" I think that is the best compliment; being able to make something that cuts the fat and calories, but not the flavor. I find the men in my life to be picky about flavor. Healthy means bland to them...until they try one of my dishes! As you can see, my daughter Kimberlyn liked them too! Don't worry, I didn't forget to treat myself as well. Chocolate chip cookies and milk, one of my top five favorite food indulgences. Yum.

I was able to cut saturated fat by using a butter substitute and only egg whites. About 700 calories were cut from this recipe by using Splenda in place of granulated sugar! Since you can't do chocolate chip cookies without the chocolate chips, I decided to make the calories worth it. Dark chocolate has been proven to offer health benefits such as lowering blood pressure and supplying antioxidants to the body (get more info. on WebMD.com). So, for good health...make a batch of chocolate chip cookies!Your heart,body and soul will thank you. Oh, and so will your family and friends. ENJOY!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Paula Deen's Lean: Cheese Treats

OK, they aren't really called Cheese Treats. When the shape changed, the name had to change too. The idea for this snack comes from Paula Deen's Cheese Straw recipe. During Halloween, I planned on making these and cutting them into cats, bats and other festive shapes. Being that I never got around to it, I figured it would be just as fun to make them into Christmas shapes. And there you have it...Cheesy Christmas Treats!

Made 2 Dozen (with standard size of cookie cutter)

¾ pound (8 ounces) well-aged, extra-sharp 2% cheddar, grated
¼ pound (4 ounces) Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated
¼ pound (½ cup or 1 stick) I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, softened
1 generous teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, or more, to taste
½ teaspoon salt
10 ounces (about 2 cups) WHOLE WHEAT flour

In a food processor fitted with a steel blade or with a stand mixer, cream both cheeses with the butter until fluffy and smooth.

Whisk together the cayenne, salt, and whole wheat flour in a separate bowl. Add it all to the processor or in batches to the mixer and work into a smooth dough. Gather into a ball, wrap well in plastic wrap, and chill 30 minutes. Don’t let it chill hard. If you make it ahead, soften at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325° F. Roll out the dough on a lightly flour a work surface about 1/8-inch thick and cut into shapes with cookie cutters.

Bake 16 to 18 minutes, being careful not to let them brown. The bottoms should be golden but the tops and sides should not color. Cool on wire racks. Store in airtight tins.

I can't claim that these are low-fat treats, but trust me, I really tried. I guess some things are just meant to be. The attempt was not a complete wash. I did manage to cut some of the fat by using 2% cheese and butter substitute. I tried using less butter than the original recipe called for, but it really needs a full stick. At least the saturated fat was cut in half (from 54 to 27 for one stick). They may not be 100% lean, but they are a slimmer version. It's Christmas time...'tis the season to treat yourself a little!

They turned out nice, but didn't have that pretty orange color that Paula's did. Using whole wheat flour caused this, but other than the color, it worked just as well as all-purpose. Mine did have a little bite to them, so use caution when adding the pepper. I hope you all ENJOY!

NUTRITION FACTS (per cheese treat): 93.25 calories;  5.43g fat;  8.26g carbohydrate;  3g protein;  1.2g fiber

Monday, December 7, 2009

Paula Deen's Lean: Chicken Divan

If you are looking for a way to get your healthy greens, perhaps a little broccoli, without realizing you are eating it...then you are going to love Paula Deen's Chicken Divan. This dish smothers this vitamin-packed veggie with cheese, chicken and creamy goodness. It is what I like to refer to as a "delish-dish". Here's what you need to do to make it lean...

Serves  8

2 (10-ounce) packages frozen broccoli, chopped
6 cup chopped chicken, cooked
2 (10 3/4 -ounce) cans 98 % FAT FREE condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 cup Hellman's Mayonnaise Dressing
1 cup FAT FREE sour cream
1 cup grated 2 % sharp cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon curry powder
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
8-10 crushed Reduced-Fat Ritz Crackers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove the outer wrappers from the boxes of broccoli. Open one end of each box. Microwave on full power for 2 minutes, until thawed. Drain the broccoli and put into a casserole dish. Add the shredded chicken.

In a medium bowl, combine the soup, mayonnaise dressing, sour cream, cheddar cheese, lemon juice, curry powder, salt and pepper to taste, and wine. Whisk together to make a sauce. Pour the sauce over the broccoli and chicken. Mix well with a spatula.

Place the mixture into an 11x7-inch casserole dish or two 9-inch square disposable aluminum foil pans that have been sprayed with vegetable oil cooking spray. Pat down evenly and smooth with a spatula. Combine the Parmesan cheese and crackers and sprinkle over the top.

Bake for about 30-45 minutes


This dish turned out really well. The entire family liked it, including the little one who is only 18-months-old. People of all ages are sure to enjoy this dish and the cooks will enjoy making it too. The recipe is easy to follow and takes about 10 minutes to prep. This makes for a quick and easy weekday dinner. I hope you ENJOY!

NUTRITION FACTS (per serving): 347.63 calories;  10.52g fat;  18.28g carbohydrate;  46.88g protein;  2.76g fiber

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Paula Deen's Lean: Broccoli Casserole

This side dish is one that has been a staple at all "special occasion" dinners in our family for quite some time now. By "special occasion", I mean Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years...and any other time upon special request. My friends and family have really grown to love this dish. I have always made Paula's Broccoli Casserole lean, so this side dish first stole their hearts minus all the butter, whole cheese and mayonnaise. Here is my tried and true recipe for Broccoli Casserole. The original recipe can be found on page 87 of The Lady and Sons Savannah Country Cookbook.

Serves  3


One 10-ounce package frozen chopped broccoli

1 small onion, chopped

1 tablespoon "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter"

1/2 cup grated 2% Cheddar cheese

6-10 crushed Reduced-Fat Ritz crackers

1/2 cup 98% Fat Free cream of mushroom soup

1/4 cup Hellman's Mayonnaise Dressing

House Seasoning (located at the bottom of the page)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Steam broccoli until limp, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat; drain. Saute onion in "butter" and add to broccoli. Add all remaining ingredients; mix well. Pour mixture into a casserole dish. Sprinkle about two pinches of cheese on top (optional); then top with crushed crackers. Bake 35 minutes.


This recipe never disappoints! It turned out great and everyone enjoyed it. However, I did learn one thing from this cooking experience. When adding the topping, make sure the cheese goes on first, then the crackers. For some , when the cheese was put on last and it didn't melt (as you can see in the picture). It dried out the cheese; very strange. So, if you are going to add an extra pinch or two on top, make sure it goes on BEFORE the crackers. Other than that, ENJOY!

NUTRITION FACTS (per serving): 201 calories;  10.3g fat;  20.55g carbohydrate;  8.87g protein;  3.5g fiber

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Paula Deen's Lean: Ham, Broccoli and Potato Soup

When my husband Rudy told me that Paula Deen had an unfortunate run-in with a ham last week, I found it only fitting that her Ham, Broccoli and Potato Soup be next on the menu. This recipe comes from page 34 of Cooking with Paula Deen (November/December 2009). The recipe calls for frozen versions of the veggies needed. Not having to spend time cleaning and chopping allows this recipes to qualify as a "fast family supper".

Serves 8


2 tablespoon "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter"

3 cups frozen Southern-style hash brown potatoes

1 cup frozen chopped onion

2 teaspoon minced garlic

3 tablespoons organic whole-wheat flour

1 (32-ounce) box low-sodium, FAT FREE chicken broth

2 cups SKIM milk

2 cups frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained

1 (8-ounce) package mini diced cooked ham

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup FAT FREE sour cream

1 (5-ounce) package of shredded Low-Fat Swiss cheese


In a large Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add hash browns, onion, and garlic; cook for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Once the hash browns are tender, add the flour; cook for 2 minutes and stir constantly. Stir in chicken broth and milk; cook for 5 to 6 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Add broccoli, ham, salt and pepper; cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add sour cream and cheese, stirring until cheese is melted and soup is heated through.


This really is a simple supper that can be thrown together in minutes. I made this "Thanksgiving Eve". It was just the right amount of food for the night before the big binge. It cut fat and calories by using low-fat or Fat Free versions of milk, sour cream and broth. Swiss cheese is already lower in fat then most cheeses, so I left that one alone.
On a cold winter day, this soup would absolutely hit the spot. ENJOY!

NUTRITION FACTS (per serving): 200.75 calories;  4.02g fat;  24.67g carbohydrate;  17.35g protein;  2.95g fiber

Friday, November 27, 2009

Paula Deen's Lean: Roasted Cauliflower

It is officially the Christmas holiday season! This recipe comes to you straight out of Paula Deen's Special Holiday Entertaining Issue of Cooking with Paula Deen(November/December 2009). I love this recipe because it took zero tweaking what-so-ever. Now, almost every Paula recipe is loaded with either butter, cheese or some high-fat meat. But, every now and then, Paula comes through with a great recipe that is healthy and down-home delicious. Here's to Paula on this one...great job!

Serves 10 to 12


2 Heads cauliflower, cut into florets

2 Leeks, thinly sliced, pale green parts only

1 Red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1/4 cup olive oil

2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 Teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1/2 Teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Place cauliflower florets, leeks and bell pepper on prepared baking sheet.

In a small bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, thyme and salt. Add to cauliflower mixture, tossing gently to coat. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until cauliflower is tender. Serve immediately.

I thought this recipe was delicious! We are used to roasting veggies in my house, but never cauliflower. It's good to have another way of cooking this veggie other than plain, old steaming.

Like I mentioned before, this recipe is already healthy...as is. No need to change a thing. ENJOY!!

NUTRITION FACTS (per serving):  88.75 calories;  4.75g fat;  10.7g carbohydrate;  3.18g protein;  4.03g fiber

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Contact Me

Hello! If you are looking to get in touch with me for any particular reason, just give me a shout by sending a message to the following address:


Readers ~ I would love to hear feedback about anything you have tested; suggestions, critiques, etc. Have a recipe you would like me to makeover? Please don't hesitate to send me a message!

I look forward to hearing from you!

The Dish

What's the dish?
Allow me to tell you all about it! Cookin' Lean Like Paula Deen is a project of mine that spun off of a passion for doing healthy recipe makeovers. I have been cookin' lean for as long as I can remember. Finally, I decided to take the leap toward blogging as a way to share the proof that eating well doesn't mean giving up the food that we love.

Now, my days are not spent in the kitchen or writing about my dishes, although I would not be opposed to the idea. My 8-3 is teaching elementary physical education and nutrition. It is an amazing opportunity to reach hundreds of children at a very impressionable time in their lives. Our goal as elementary physical educators is to create an experience where children learn useful information about nutrition and exercise, therefore developing a positive association with being physically active and eating well. Children that are educated in fitness and nutrition are more likely to become healthy and happy adults. That is our mission; my mission.

If you have had time to look around The Cookin' Lean Kitchen, then you have met the most important person in my world....my daughter, Kimberlyn. She is absolutely amazing and I am so proud to be her Mommy. She has also become a great little cook. Having her in the kitchen with me is a blast. It's a time to have fun with my daughter and to share a love for healthy cooking that Kimberlyn will take into her life as she grows up.


We love a good time in my family! I enjoy having family and friends over as much as we can. There is just something so fulfilling about cooking and entertaining for my family and friends. That is why I knew it would be so amazing to share these recipes and ideas with you. Great food is almost always associated with a great time, and we should live for those times. Food brings people together to share laughter, friendship and love. I hope the same holds true for you.

As far as "foodie credentials" are concerned...I am not a professional cook, dietitian or nutritionist. There isn't a single cooking course to add to my resume(although I did get to cook with Paula Deen in Savannah last June). Not everything I make will look the best or come out perfect the first time, but that's all part of the fun! Recipe makeovers are trial runs to determine if these delicious recipes can be nutritious too. Each recipe is also a lesson in cooking; learning more about food and technique as I go along. I am simply a women that loves food, has a blast trying out new recipes and won't attempt making anything without finding a way to make it lean. Health and fitness are my life's work...it's what I know, it's what I do and it's what I enjoy.

With my RWOP friends in Savannah.

Through this blog, I hope to share with all of you that healthy eating doesn't mean that you will never again be able to eat something that tastes good. If you can crave it, than we can create it in a way that is nutritious AND delicious!

Swing by for a visit any time and see what's been cookin'!

Top Ten Trimmings

When faced with the decision to indulge in a rich, delicious, sinful dish by Paula Deen or just choose something healthy...I choose both!

Through experimentation and years of practice, I have been able to compile a list of the most effective tricks for cutting fat and calories when cooking; not the flavor. It makes me very happy to share with you a list of my "Top Ten Trimmings". The list briefly explains the simple switches I make regularly to these southern-inspired dishes. Try them out in recipes of your own!


#1 APPLES FOR OILS- Applesauce is the perfect substitute for oil when baking. Simply replace the oil with an equal amount of applesauce.

#2 NO "YOLKS" ABOUT IT- The egg whites have the least amount of fat compared to the yolk. When a recipe calls for eggs, use only the egg whites. Egg whites are also a great substitute for butter when breading chicken.

#3 SKINNY COWS- Whole milk can easily be replaced with the "skinny" versions of the real thing. Skim and 1% milk are best for cutting fat, while maintaining flavor and consistency. Do the same for other dairy items such as sour cream and whipping cream.

#4 EVOO- If you need to have oil to make a recipe work, such as roasting veggies or pan frying, Extra-Virgin Olive Oil will do the job without loading your dish up with unhealthy fats. We need oils for maintain a healthy diet. Just stick with the healthy fats and keep them to a minimum.

#5 JUST SAY "CHEESE"!!- You don't have to swear off cheese to cut down on fat and calories, just use a low-fat or fat-free version. One suggestion, if the cheese is for melting on top, do not use fat-free. It just doesn't melt well.

#6 DRESS TO IMPRESS- In this case, I am talking about your mayonnaise. Hellman's Mayonnaise Dressing is the way to go. With just 1 gram of fat per serving, I don't know why you would use anything else. Mixed in recipes such as broccoli casserole and chicken salad, you can't even tell you are making such a cut. So when it comes to using mayo....dressing up is a must!

#7 RELEASE THE GREASE- It is officially time to stop cooking with grease, butter, lard or any other type of cooking aid. With fat-free sprays that come in varieties such as olive oil, vegetable oil and one specifically for baking, there is not need to waste the calories on it anymore. It is OK to just let go.

#8 MAKE IT WHOLE WHEAT- If you are going to get those grains, make them whole wheat. Now more than ever, it is easy to use whole wheat and whole grain versions of various breads, pastas, wraps and rolls. Give yourself wholesome sources of carbohydrates (energy). The less processed the better!

#9 NO BUTTS ABOUT IT- I am talkin' about 100% real butter. This stuff is loaded with saturated fats(the bad fats)! Yes, it adds some great flavor, but it is not needed to make great food. Almost all Paula's recipes can just omit the butter and be just fine. With others you may need to substitute EVOO or use spray. If worse comes to worse, my best butter alternative is "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" . It has 70% less saturated fat than butter and zero trans fat. No a bad option if you can't let go of that buttery taste.

#10 LEAN PROTEIN- Whether you get this nutrient from meat or others sources, protein is a very important part of your diet. Paired with an active lifestyle, it is what helps us to build muscle and maintain a lean physique. When choosing protein, think lean. Choose meats that are low in fat such as skinless chicken breasts and 93/7 ground beef.

Just a reminder, I am not a certified dietitian or nutritionist. These are only suggestions on making Paula Deen recipes in a light and nutritious way. They are not claiming to cure or prevent any physical conditions. For specific nutritional guidelines and diet prescriptions, please seek the care of your physician or other licensed professionals. Thank you!

Lean Libations

Cookin' lean is not the only way to make sure you are putting healthier nutrients into your body. Beverages, both with and without a little spike, also have sometimes a surprisingly high amount of calories and even fat. We don't always think about drinks sneaking in the calories, but they do! Of course, water is the best thing we can drink. But I'm sorry, I refuse to drink only water my entire life. Let's have a little fun here!

Here are some fabulous beverages to add a small shot of spirit to your menu. There is something here for everyone; whether you partake in adult beverages or not. You can always make tiny changes to fit your lifestyle. I will show you how!



Aloha L.A. Cocktail (Giada De Laurentiis)

Back in Black (Rachael Ray)

Italian Lemonade (Giada De Laurentiis)

Grapefruit Margarita (Rachael Ray)

Mesa Fresca (Bobby Flay)

Mixed Berry Bellinis  (Paula Deen)

Mudslide Milkshake (Claire Robinson)

Sea Breeze (Ina Garten)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Paula Deen's Lean: Cottage Potatoes

There is nothing fancy or spectacular about this recipe for Cottage Potatoes. But it does have a few things going for it; it is easy, it is healthy and it tastes pretty good too! If you are looking for an easy potato side, perhaps for the big Turkey Day coming up, then give this recipe a try. It's potatoes and cheese...what's not to love about that?!?

Serves 4


3 large Idaho potatoes
1/2 cup SKIM  Milk
1 cup FAT FREE  cottage cheese
1/2 onion, diced
Salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Scrub the potatoes, slice them, and put in a pot with water to cover. Boil the potatoes until tender, then drain and mash them with milk. Add the cottage cheese, onion, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir the mixture gently, and then put in a greased casserole. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes.


I really couldn't mess this one up. As you can see, there is little to do in making this recipe. A little cutting, a little boiling, some mashin' and mixin'....and then you have cottage potatoes! They give a new meaning to the term 'instant potatoes'. So, give these Cottage Potatoes a try. ENJOY!!

NUTRITION FACTS (per serving): 250.25 calories;  .34g fat;  50.35g carbohydrate;  11.82g protein;  6.65g fiber

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Paula Deen's Lean: Italian Chicken Sticks

Next to Mexican cuisine...Italian finishes in a really close second. Actually, they may flip-flop between first and second place, depending on the day. It doesn't matter. I love them both! Anyway, I haven't been able to find too many recipes by Paula that have an Italian influence. Therefore, it was really exciting to stumble upon these delicious Italian Chicken Sticks. This recipe makes an excellent finger food or meal; the serving style is up to you.

Serves 12


1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Pinch of ground red pepper
8 boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1/2-inch strips
2 egg whites
Marinara sauce, for dipping (Recommended: Barilla Marinara, approved by


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a pie plate or platter, combine the shredded Parmesan, grated Parmesan, thyme, basil, oregano, salt, garlic powder, and red pepper. Dip the chicken strips in the egg white, then dredge them in the cheese and spice mixture. Place the chicken strips in a single layer on a lightly sprayed baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Serve the chicken sticks hot with marinara sauce.


Oh, the smell that filled my kitchen! I knew I loved them before I even had one. Seriously, they were really good. Minus the breadcrumbs, the cheese still provided a little crunch and the color turned out nice even without using butter. The egg white has only about 2 grams of fat, compared to the suggested 1 stick of butter....which is about 88 grams of fat! YIKES! Egg does the same job in holding the cheese mixture to the chicken, but won't stick with you like that butter will.

I also wanted to tell y'all about a 10-minute meal I made using the leftovers from this recipe. With the remaining marinara, chicken, shredded cheese and some whole wheat penne, you can make a nutritious meal in minutes. Just take some cubed Italian Chicken Sticks, marinara and cooked penne, mix them together and pour ingredients into a lightly sprayed dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees. I really don't like to waste food and I love simple meals. My experimental dish took care of that!

I hope you enjoy these healthy Italian Chicken Sticks!

NURITION FACTS (per serving): 249 calories;  7.4g fat;  .8g carbohydrate;  42.1g protein;  0g fiber (does not include marinara sauce)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Paula Deen's Lean: Squash and Zucchini Cakes

I am fortunate to live, and have been raised in, the beautiful historic town of Winchester, Virginia. The charm and character of the downtown area is one that you must experience yourself to truly understand. Along the Loudoun Street walking mall, you will find a handful of fabulous restaurants that offer cuisine ranging from onion rings to fillet Mignon-type things. There is a place that is pleasing to every palate. It is wonderful!
One of our personal favorites in Winchester is a restaurant called The Village Square. When we want to "go out", this is where we go. The food, the atmosphere...it is just the perfect dining experience. Without a sitter for our anniversary, my husband and I decided to recreate one of our favorite meals from our favorite places. We had really set ourselves up for a challenge! The fillet was up to Rudy and the sides were up to me. The last time we dined at Village Square, they served these wonderful yellow squash cakes. The taste was unbelievable and it was my mission to create a Paula Deen comp...and make it lean. Was I up for the challenge?...Bring it on!!

Serves 6

3 medium zucchini
3 medium yellow squash
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan
1/3 cup minced Vidalia onion
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Olive Oil Spray

Grate zucchini and squash with a fine grater. Press between paper towels to remove excess moisture.

In a medium bowl, combine grated zucchini and squash and next 7 ingredients. Shape mixture into 2 inch patties, pressing together firmly.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and coat with olive oil cooking spray. Cook squash and zucchini cakes 3 to 4 minutes per side or until lightly browned.Repeat spray with each batch.

They were really good! Minus the bread crumbs found in the original recipe, I kept the dish carb-conscious and still maintained the flavor and form of the cake. Squash and Zucchini Cakes are a nice substitute for potatoes if you are trying to go easy on the carbohydrates. They are an excellent compliment to a nice fillet or any other type steak. For not being professional chefs, I think the folks over at Village Square would be quite happy with what we were able to do; southern gourmet...in a lean way.

Another trimming-trick to this dish was to cook the cakes in olive oil spray instead of butter. At 11 grams of fat per serving, butter can add a lot of unnecessary fat. Spray can do the same job and comes in at a whopping 0 grams of fat per serving! I think that sums it up. ENJOY!!

NUTRITION FACTS (per serving): 160 calories;  8.5g fat;  9g carbohydrate;  12.75g protein;  3.2g fiber

* Want to cut 5g fat from this recipe? Use 1/4 cup Egg Beaters in place of 1 egg, beaten!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Paula Deen's Lean: Hot Chicken Salad

I tend to think of chicken salad as being a warm-weather type of food. So, when I saw that Paula had a Hot Chicken Salad recipe, I had to take a closer look. First I thought, "Eeeww, a hot chicken salad? I'm not so sure about that." But, then I remembered who we were talkin' about here; Paula Deen. Does she really make anything desserving of an "eeewww"?..NEVER! So, with a couple small changes to this already super-simple recipe, I made a lean, hot chicken salad dish that the entire family loved. In fact, my husband Rudy wanted to make sure that ya'll knew this comes very highly recommended. So I guess we can say that dish gets the official "Rudy Rudolph Seal of Approval". In other words, it's a Must-Make Makeover!

Serves 10

2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup diced celery
2 cup cooked chicken breast meat, cubed
1 cup Hellman's Low-Fat mayonnaise dressing (1 g fat per serving!)
1 cup grated 2 % sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup crushed Reduced-Fat Ritz Crackers

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 13 by 9 inch baking dish with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl combine the chicken, celery, salt, pepper, lemon juice, mayonnaise, and cheese. Place the mixture in the prepared baking dish. Spread the crushed crackers on top. Bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbly.


This dish turned out better than I had anticipated. I shared with you my hesitations about making a hot chicken salad, but sometimes we just need to step outside the box a bit. And I am sure glad I did! By switchin' from real mayo to low-fat mayonnaise dressing, I saved a ton of fat. Plus, by using reduced-fat crackers instead of chips, fat was literally cut right off the top.

It's simple, it's delicious and to top it all off...it is nutritious! For families with children, I would categorize this as a kid-friendly dish as well. My 18-month- old polished her plate off in no time at all.

So, give Paula Deen's Lean Hot Chicken Salad a try. I hope you ENJOY!!

NUTRITION FACTS (per serving): 117.6 calories;  4.8g fat;  6.6g carbohydrate;  13.2g protein;  .2g fiber

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Paula Deen's Lean: Chicken Empanadas

With my 10-year high school reunion planning/coordinating over, I have returned to cooking and entertaining for my family. Since there was a left-over pie crust from the Mini Mummies made on Halloween, I decided to make Chicken Empanadas. They are wonderfully delicious chicken and cheese filled pie crust pieces! They make a great party food or easy to grab snack. Now, Paula's recipe makes 12-15 servings, but since I only had one pie crust, I cut the recipe in half. Here is my 1/2 sized Empanada recipe!

Serves 6

1 refrigerated pie crust
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon salsa
2 ounce FAT FREE cream cheese, softened
1 cup 2% Mexican cheese
1 cup chopped, cooked chicken (1 large chicken breast)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly spray a baking sheet. In a large bowl, combine chicken and next 7 ingredients. Unroll 1 pie crust onto a lightly floured surface. Roll onto a 15-inch circle. Cut out rounds, using a 3-inch cookie cutter. Re-roll dough as needed. Arrange 1 pie crust round on a clean, flat surface. Lightly brush edges of crust with water. Place 1 heaping teaspoon of chicken mixture in center of the round. Fold dough over filling, pressing edges with a fork to seal. Repeat with remaining rounds and chicken mixture. (Up to this point, the recipe can be made ahead and frozen for up to 1 month). Arrange empanadas on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.

Once I served these things...they went fast! I was able to get 14 empanadas out of one pie crust, which was plenty for four adults. I served them with salsa; a fat free, low-calorie condiment. Fat free or light sour cream would have also been good. Paula serves her empanadas with a cheese dip, but for the added calories...it wasn't worth it. They are really tasty just plain. The most you'll need is salsa (for all you dippers out there). I really love the idea of empanadas. I think I am going to experiment with these and try other ingredients for filling the pie rounds. I'll keep you all posted.

NUTRITION FACTS (per serving): 150 calories;  10g fat;  3.4g carbohydrate;  11.8g protein;  0g fiber

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Paula Deen's Lean: Jamie's Chicken Salad

One of my favorite sandwiches of all time is chicken salad! In fact, I love all mayonnaise-smothered salads; egg salad, tuna salad...you get the idea. Now, if you eat chicken salad out or buy it pre-made, it is more than likely made with real mayonnaise. It is delicious, of course, but it is loaded with fat. Instead, I would like to offer you a light and refreshing twist on Jamie's Classic Chicken Salad. For this recipe, I used little rolls to make a great party food when having guests over. But you can do it however you like; try it on a wrap, wheat bread or on a bed of lettuce. Here's what you need to do to make healthy chicken salad at home...

Jamie's Chicken Salad (Sliders)
Makes 12 sliders


1.25 lbs. boneless/skinless chicken breasts; cooked & diced

1 cup red grapes; halved

3/4 cup chopped celery

1 teaspoon lemon pepper

2 teaspoon Jane's Krazy Mixed-Up Salt

salt & pepper to taste

3/4 cup Hellman's Low Fat Mayonnaise Dressing (green label)

Combine all ingredients in a medium size bowl. Salt and pepper to taste. Spoon chicken salad onto salad, whole wheat bread or roll. If serving on bread, salad can be layered with tomato, onion and spinach.

It was so good! Even my mother-in-law, who only uses the "real-deal" mayonnaise, could not believe that it was low-fat mayonnaise dressing; which is only 1 gram of fat per serving!! She said, and I quote, "You can't even tell!" That is just music to my ears; another sweet recipe victory.
The grapes that were added gave a fresh, light taste to the salad. You may also choose to add diced apple or mandarin oranges. It's a personal preference that will pretty much make the same impact. I have also seen almonds added to chicken salad as well. What really made a big difference in the nutritional value of this recipe was the mayo switch and leaving out the egg. Hellman's low-fat mayonnaise dressing is the way to go for cutting the most fat and the egg just really isn't needed. It's great without it. I hope you ENJOY!!

NUTRITION FACTS (per serving): 67.42 calories;  1.41g fat;  4.16g carbohydrate;  10.57g protein;  .25g fiber
SERVED ON 100% WHOLE WHEAT PILLSBURY DINNER ROLL: 157.42 calories;  2.41g fat;  21.16g carbohydrate;  13.57g protein;  2.75g fiber

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Paula Deen's Lean: Mini Mummies

Halloween has come and gone. Last night, our house was full of hungry little monsters with big appetites. They needed to fill those tummies in order to sustain all the trick or treating ahead. For a fun, easy and kid-friendly dinner, I made a healthy version of Paula Deen's Mini Mummies.All my friends at MY GIRL PAULA are cooking these little guys this month, in celebration of the season.

With only two ingredients, there really wasn't much room for me to make any drastic changes. But thanks to low-fat varieties of the traditional hot dog, cookin' a lean mummy dog was nothin'!I didn't forget about the parents either. After all, they need their energy too. Below you will also find a grown-up, lean version of the Mini Mummies that can be served any time of the year.

Serves 8


1 package of TURKEY hot dogs (Light or Fat Free Beef Franks would also work)
1 package of prepared pie dough


PreHeat - 350°

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Unwrap the pie dough and cut into 1/8” strips. Wrap strips around the hot dog halves in a mummy like pattern. Pinch the ends together on the bottom side of the hot dog. Place on the lined baking sheet and bake until golden brown. Approximately 10 minutes. Serve with mustard and ketchup.

For the "Grown-Up" Version, use turkey dogs and Pillsbury bread stick twists. Wrap 1/2 a bread stick around 1/2 a dog. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

They were "spook-tacular"! Everyone, both young and not so young, loved the Mini Mummies. Once again, this is another simple dish that is not only tasty, but fun too. It's always fun to have fun with food and make it fit with the occasion. I wish I had found time to try more of Paula's great Halloween ideas. Well, there's always next year. It's time to start thinkin' TURKEY!


NUTRITION FACTS (Per serving using fat free franks): 158.75 calories;  7.47g fat;  15.26g carbohydrate;  7.26g protein; .83g fiber


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