Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cooking Light with Rachael Ray: Stacked Caprese Sticks

To me, not much comes close to this! I could eat Caprese anything all day, every day for the rest of my life. OK, maybe that is a little over-the-top, but you get the point.
This recipe is loaded with naturally healthy and delicious tomatoes and basil. Yes, there is some mozzarella, but everything is good for you in moderation. I'll show you how we can do this in my trimmed version of Rachel Ray's Stacked Caprese Sticks.


STACKED CAPRESE STICKS
Makes 12 servings or sticks


INGREDIENTS:


•12 bamboo skewers (8-inch)
•24 grape tomatoes
•36 basil leaves
•12 bocconcini (bite-size pieces of mozzarella; available in tubs near Italian cheeses in the grocery store)
•Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
•Salt and black pepper to taste


DIRECTIONS:


Cut each piece of bocconcini in half, making 24 pieces of mozzarella.
On each skewer, begin with basil, then mozzarella, then tomato. Repeat sequence and end with a final piece of basil.
Drizzle the sticks with EVOO (don't get carried away here; a tbsp or two), salt, and pepper.


RESULTS:


So, what did I do to make this dish healthier? I didn't cut the EVOO or go for a reduced-fat cheese. How's this the "lean" option? All we did was increase the tomato to cheese ratio. Instead of one tomato to one bocconcini ball, we are now getting two tomatoes. Plus, the additional basil adds to your Daily Value for vitamin K, A and C, as well as calcium and iron. So, in this case, we are adding more food instead of cutting back, yet we are upping the nutritional value; essentially making it a healthier version of the original recipe! More food + better for me = SCORE!

By literally cutting the cheese in half, we are making it stretch; getting a little more bang for our buck. The extra-virgin olive oil delivers heart-healthy fats that are essential for a balanced diet. To be perfectly honest, if you are getting your "healty fats" elsewhere, these caprese sticks are delicious just as is; minus the EVOO, salt and pepper. Just the fresh flavors alone are enough to get your taste buds tap dancing.


I can't end this post without giving credit to the beautiful woman who chose this great recipe and "leaned it out" for us; my Mom, Emily. We had such a great time making these last weekend for my Dad's birthday. And ya'll should have had the BBQ she made! Holy smokes! They may have only been living in NC for a short time, but she knows how to make a killer pulled pork BBQ. WOW!


Mom, thanks for bringing the family together for such a wonderful time! I love you! See you soon!


Enjoy the caprese sticks! They are delish...or YUM-O, as our girl Rachael would say.

NUTRITION FACTS (per caprese stick): 72.75 calories;  5.7g fat;  .62g carbohydrate;  6.14g protein;  .19g fiber

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