Friday, October 29, 2010

Cooking Light with Ina Garten: Apple Crisp

This recipe makeover was inspired by a fellow teacher of mine. Last week, while she was picking her students up from P.E., she asked me if I had a healthy apple cobbler recipe for her. At the time, I didn't. But her asking was all the motivation I needed to go find one and make it over!
Ina Garten, or Barefoot Contessa, has a beautiful recipe for an Apple and Pear Crisp. As are most "cobbleresque" dessert recipes, this one called for a large dose of butter (2 sticks to be exact). Not quite the healthy recipe my colleague was looking for. So, with a few little tricks and the help of the natural sweetness found in fruits, I am thrilled to share with her, as well as with you, my "cookin' lean" take on Apple Crisp.

Serves 6


3 medium apples (Gala or Fuji)

• 1 teaspoon grated orange zest

• 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

• 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

• 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

• 1/4 cup sugar substitute (Splenda or Stevia)

• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour & whole wheat flour (half/half)

• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

• 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

For the topping:

¼ cup all-purpose flour & whole wheat flour (half/half)

• 2 tablespoons sugar substitute (Splenda or Stevia)

• 2 tablespoons cup light brown sugar, lightly packed

• 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

• 1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal

• 3 tablespoons cold “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” , diced

• 2 tablespoons honey


 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Peel, core, and cut the apples into large chunks. Place the apples in a large bowl and add the zests, juices, “sugar”, flours, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour into a 9 by 12 by 2-inch oval baking dish. (I used a pie pan and it worked perfectly!)

For the topping:

Combine the flours, sugars, salt, oatmeal, “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” and honey in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (hand-held mixer also works well). Mix on low speed for 1 minute, until the mixture is in large crumbles. Sprinkle evenly over the apples, covering the apples completely.

Place the baking dish on a sheet pan and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the top is brown and the fruit is bubbly. Serve warm; perhaps with a scoop of low-fat vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt?!?!


 I am pretty sure you will fall in love with this before it even comes out of the oven! Just the scent it creates to fill your kitchen is enough to get you excited about digging into this dessert. Who needs a Yankee Candle when you have a yummy dessert like this in the over? With a little scoop of light vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt, you are talkin' about an express ticket to Apple Crisp Paradise. I am not kidding.

When it came to making this dessert light, I found answers in the natural sweetness of fruits and honey. With the orange, lemon, apples and honey, there is little need for all that sugar. I haven't tried it yet, but I would guess that if you left out the sugar entirely, even the Splenda, it would still turn out delicious. As for the topping, there is no need for two sticks of butter to create a crispy, yummy crust. Classic case of overkill.With just 3 tablespoons of ICBINB and the sticky honey, the other ingredients were able to form the crumbles we were looking for. That butter ingredient change alone cut 143 grams of fat out of this recipe! It's hard to believe, isn't it?

It's fall, which means it's apple season. The time when you will find the best tasting apples around. An Apple Crisp is the perfect dessert for this time of year. You have the recipe. Now go get some apples!


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: Believe It! This Stuff Really Tastes Like Butter!

 Market Tour and Cooking With "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter"

Butter is the star in many of the wonderful dishes we "slim down" here in the Cookin' Lean Kitchen. We know that although butter tastes great, it is not good for us. It is high in saturated fat and cholesterol; two things behind health problems, including heart disease and obesity. Instead of throwing out all of the dishes we love that contain butter, we need to get creative and resourceful; finding healthier alternatives and substitutions for butter. One of my favorites happens to be "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter". I comes in several forms and varieties; which makes it simple to find the perfect ICBINB substitute for any recipe! With 70% less saturated fat than butter, it is the clear choice when looking to create that same buttery taste.

To share with you how simple and delicious cooking with "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" is, I decided to invite a few of my readers and friends to share a farm market tour and cooking experience. We visited two local farm markets and were able to gather up almost all of the fresh produce needed to make the following five recipes. It is amazing how easy it is to make fresh produce even better with "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" sprays and spreads... and the heat of the grill. Check out these recipes, pictures and videos to see  for yourself.


**Bonus Recipe by Me...

Baked Apples


4 apples

1/2 cup brown sugar

4 tablespoons "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter"

2 teaspoons cinnamon


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

.Scoop out the core from top of the apple, leaving a well, yet not cutting all the way through. Stuff each apple with 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 1 tablespoon ICBINB. Place in a shallow baking dish and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Bake in preheated oven for 20-30 minutes, until sugar begins to caramelize and apples are tender. This may very depending on the size of the apples.

A Look Into Our Day

And to Sum It All Up...

What do farmers markets and "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" have in common? Better for  you flavor! The best produce you can find is at your local farm market. And the best way to prepare these foods for that desired buttery taste is to use "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter". Both are about Reaching Right for better food choices. We shopped, we cooked and we enjoyed all the recipes selected from the ICBINB website. I would recommend taking a stop by the site and learning more about the exciting nutritional information. And don't forget to cruise around the recipe tab. YUM!

This "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" market event was eye opening. There are so many different ways to prepare farm-fresh produce and to enhance the natural flavors by using "ICBINB" spreads and sprays. The hands-on experiences in using and tasting both the Spread and Spray have really inspired us to Reach Right. Maybe trying some of these recipes will inspire you too!

**For more information on nutrition, products and recipes, please visit

Disclosure: I was given a gift card for groceries and a Flip camera to document my day by I Can't Believe it's Not Butter! I was not compensated monetarily for this post. The opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cooking Light with Bobby Flay: Grilled Banana and Nutella Panini

I have one important question to ask, "Who has a sweet tooth?" Well if you answered "ME!", well then I have the sandwich for "You"! This simple, sweet sandwich recipe is taken from Bobby Flay's Grilled Banana and Nutella Panini. This thing is unreal! So yummy! I'm talkin' "makes your eyes roll back in your head" good. Yes, that good. Go ahead and give it a try. You probably already have what you need in the kitchen at this very moment. You are just minutes away from pure chocolaty-banana bliss. Here's the what and how...

Makes 2 Servings


1 ripe banana, sliced

4 slices whole-wheat bread or white wheat

2 tablespoons chocolate-hazelnut spread (recommended: Nutella)

20 sprays "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" Spray 

1/2 tablespoon powdered sugar (optional)


Heat grill pan over medium-high heat. Spread 1/2 tablepoon of Nutella on one side of each bread slice. Slice banana into thin pieces and place evenly on two pieces of bread, on top of the Nutella. Take the remaining slices and place them Nutella side down over the bananas; making a sandwich.

Spray each grilling side with up to 5 sprays of "ICBINB". Place on the grill pan. Grill until golden brown. Flip and continue grilling until the second side is also golden brown.

 Remove from the grill pan, cut and sprinkle with the confectioners' sugar. Eat if you could resist!


I loved it! Rudy thought it was weird, but I think he is a little weird (Love you, Rudy!).
Nutella is a really good spread, which actually has less fat per serving than its relative, peanut butter. Two tablespoons is equal to one serving; enough Nutella to make two sandwiches! What I am saying here is that a little goes a long way.

I want to thank Bobby Flay for inspiring me to try Nutella. After the first bite, I said to my Nutella jar, "Where have you been my whole life?!?!" I have made a new friend.

As you can see, this recipe is simple and nutritious; taking little time to throw together. Craving something sweet in the morning? Throw one of these together and forget about that Boston Creme!


NUTRITION FACTS (per serving of 1 sandwich w/powdered sugar): 242 calories; 6.2g fat;  44.97g carbohydrate; 6.15g protein;  9.05g fiber

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"Spread a Little Joy" Giveaway Winners!

Congratulations to the THREE winners of Kraft's "Spread a Little Joy" Giveaway Prize:




Thank you to all that entered. I am hoping to have more fun giveaways to come, so stay tuned!

WINNERS: If you haven't already, please email your mailing address to as soon as possible. Without it, KRAFT will not be able to send you your fabulous prize!

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: Sanity Splurge

MargaritavilleI was raised on Jimmy Buffett. His lyrics have spoken to quite a few moments in my life. Even my senior quote in the John Handley High School yearbook was taken from the lyrical genius himself; “There’s just too much to see waiting in front of me and I know that I just can’t go wrong.” That will always be one of my favorites. But another one that has always rung clear in my ears comes from his song, “Changes in Latitudes”, where he sings, “If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.” Well, isn’t that the truth? Taking anything too seriously is just a recipe for insanity. The same goes for our diets. Yes, it is important to stick to a regularly healthy eating plan. But let’s get real! If we couldn’t splurge, we would all go insane!

Here’s my personal example. I was craving chocolate chip cookies last night, BIGTIME! I workout most days each week, maintain a busy schedule and eat well most of the time. So guess what, I deserved those cookies! So I picked up my daughter from the sitters, stopped by the store to pick up some Ghirardelli chocolate morsels and the two of us baked the best tasting batch of chocolate chip cookies I have ever made! We had fun making them and it felt wonderful to eat them. I found my splurge and now I don’t have to spend any time obsessing over the thought of those delicious sweet treats. Insanity has been averted with a couple cookies.

Find your splurge and allow yourself a treat. It is part of maintaining a healthy body and mind. I would recommend a "splurge" meal or treat (some people use the word "cheat", but to me, that means you are doing something wrong...and this is not wrong!)  at least 1-2 times per week; within reason. Enjoy your splurge and get right back on track. What may even happen is that by allowing yourself to indulge in certain foods, you may lose the craving altogether.

Enjoy a little splurge today!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Giveaway Wednesday: "Spread a Little Joy" with Philadelphia Cream Cheese

Hey readers! I am excited to tell you all about our very first giveaway here in The Cookin' Lean Kitchen! Kraft has so graciously provided me with 3 prizes to giveaway to my fabulous readers!

The prize package includes:

(1) “Spread a Little Joy” PHILADELPHIA Cookbook, one (1): PHILADELPHIA apron, two (2) PHILADELPHIA product coupons, one (1) PHILADELPHIA spatula set (Approximate retail value: $50)

How awesome is that?!?! As you know, Philadelphia Cream Cheese has a soft place in my heart. Since the Real Women of Philadelphia, I have been able to truly see how versatile Philly Cream Cheese really is. Plus, they have both a fat free and reduced-fat version. You know I love that! Here's how to snag this wonderful prize...


  • Just leave a comment telling me about your favorite recipe made with Philadelphia Cream Cheese.

Yep, it is that simple! This amazing cookbook, stylish apron, handy spatulas and money saving coupons could all be yours just by leaving me a little comment and sharing your favorite Philly recipe.

Good luck!


I forgot to mention that these amazing cookbooks are available at select in-store promotions through November where shoppers can receive 1 free PHILADELPHIA “Spread a Little Joy” cookbook with the purchase of any four Philly products. Cookbooks will be available on an in-store display case and consumers simply present the cookbook to the cashier when they purchase the Philly products. It’s as easy as that! If you can’t find it at your local store, visit where you can purchase the cookbook directly.

*I will choose three winners via on 10/20. Open to US Residents.

I was one of ten bloggers selected by PHILADELPHIA to host a Cookbook promotion giveaway. My opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments. Kraft Foods is providing the prizes for this giveaway at no cost to me. This giveaway is not administered or sponsored by Kraft Foods or its affiliates, but solely by Cookin' Lean.”

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: Don't Get Sooooo Hungry!

I would say that the #1 thing we do to sabotage our livin' lean lifestyles is to let ourselves get too hungry. We are busy people. I get that. But there is always time to get down a nutrition bar or a handful of almonds. We just need to be prepared. I mean, who wouldn't devour a left-over container of lo mien and half a bag of chips after work if they hadn't eaten since 9 a.m.? Let's not let ourselves get to this point. Here's what to do:
Photo from

Stash the Goods~ Keep a drawer at work stocked full of healthy, quick snacks; a container of nuts, Kellogg's Special K bars, etc.

Keep Road Treats~ In the car a lot? Keep "car friendly" snacks in your car. You know, the kind that don't melt. (Guess that leaves the chocolate out!)

Stay Hydrated~ Always have a bottle of water on you. It keeps you hydrated and helps you stay satisfied until the next feeding time.

The Rule of 3~ Try to have a little something (100-200 calories) every 3 hours, even if you aren't hungry. If you are like me, the hunger comes without warning and them I am ready to anything in site. Don't get to that point. Plan ahead and keep yourself fed! Snacks containing protein and carbohydrates are best (example: light string cheese and an apple)

It’s a simple concept for livin’ lean, yet it is something I must remind myself of every single day. From the moment I set foot out of bed, I am go, go, go! Many of you are probably the same. We need to keep ourselves fueled for these hectic lives of ours, otherwise, we crash. Never allow your tank to go empty and you will never find yourself desperate for the first sign of fuel you see; willing to accept junk in place of quality stuff.

Have a fabulous Tuesday!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Cooking Light with Giada De Laurentiis: Mini Italian Club Sandwiches

One of the best sandwiches I have ever had, honestly! These little Italian delights are incredible. When you start looking at the ingredient list and stumble upon "egg", you might find this a little strange. Egg crepes are not commonly found on a traditional clud sandwich. But this is not your average club. This one has Giada's Italian flare. Give this version a try with ALL the ingredients, because when it ALL comes together, it works. The mix of flavors and textures in these Mini Italian Club Sandwiches are something that you don't want to miss. I promise, you will love it!

Makes 6 Servings


4 Arnold Italian flatbread sub rolls
8 slices lean turkey breast
4 slices reduced-fat provolone cheese
6 slices center-cut bacon; cooked
3/4 cup egg substitute (Egg Beaters)
1/4 cup fat free half -and-half
4 tablespoons basil pesto spread
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper


Toast rolls face down on a grill pan until toasted.

Whisk the eggs, half and half, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl until well blended. Heat a 6-inch-diameter nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Spray the skillet with non-fat cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cup of the egg mixture into the pan, swirling to coat the bottom of the pan evenly. Cover and cook until the egg crepe is just set, about 1 minute and 30 seconds. Invert the skillet over a plate, and allow the egg crepe to drop onto the plate. Repeat to make 4 crepes total, spraying the skillet with non-fat cooking spray as needed and stacking crepes on the plate. (Use parchment paper between to prevent crepes from sticking.)

Spread the pesto over the toasted sides of each halved Italian roll. Cover the bottom halves of the focaccia with the egg crepes, turkey, provolone and bacon, dividing equally. Cover with the top halves of Italian roll, pesto side down. Cut the sandwich into bite-size pieces. Arrange the sandwiches on a platter and serve.


Like I said earlier, these mini sandwiches are amazing! A must try! The Arnold Italian sandwich thins are the perfect "light" substitute for the foccocia bread. They are thin, therefore allowing you to really taste the inside of the sandwich; the good stuff. Not to mention, they are only 100 calories per roll; making them a definite smart choice.

The center cut bacon is going to deliver 40% less fat and 100% real bacon flavor. This substitute was a no-brainer. Now, the pesto is going to have some fat, being that it is made with olive oil. But as you well know, olive oil is a healthy fat and healthy fats are essential for a balanced diet.

These would make a wonderful lunch and as seen in my photos, they look great cut up into mini sandwiches for a healthy appetizer. These would be great for any gathering; from a football tailgate to a wedding shower.

So, what are you waiting for? Get cookin'!

NUTRITION FACTS (per serving): 211.17 calories; 8.68g fat;  17.02g carbohydrate;  17.63g protein;  3.33g fiber

Recipe inspired by Giada De Laurentiis of Food Network. For more recipes by Giada, visit or her website.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Cooking Light with Rachael Ray: Cheese Fries

It may seem like I have been suffering from "Fry-Daddy" deprivation here lately. First onion cheese fries. Ok, maybe a little. But these are popular sides we find at restaurants and fast-food chains on a regular basis. They are so yummy, so we crave them. They are difficult to resist, therefore we find ourselves caving in. But what if we could make a similar treat in a healthier way at home? Would we still feel such a strong pull to cave in and order those cheese fries when out? I think not, so here is my recipe for cheese fries, which will hopefully prove my point. Thanks for the inspiration, Rachael!

Serves 4-6



4-6 medium red potatoes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1-2 teaspoons pepper
1-2 teaspoons paprika
1-2 teaspoons parsley flakes

Cheese Sauce~

1 tablespoon "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" (ICBINB)
1-1/2 cups skim or 1 % milk
2-1/2 cups Fat Free or 2% KRAFT shredded cheddar
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut potatoes into thin wedges. In a sealable bag, combine salt, pepper, paprika and parsley flakes. Add potatoes and pour in EVOO. Seal bag and shake until potatoes are thoroughly coated. Place potatoes on a prepared baking sheet that has been sprayed with non-fat cooking spray. Bake for 30-35 minutes; stirring up every 10 minutes or so.

While potatoes are baking, melt ICBINB in a medium pan over medium heat. Add flour and stir. Using a whisk, gradually add the milk to the pan. Add the cheese and stir until the cheese is fully melted. Add ketchup and stir.

When the potatoes are finished, either serve along side the cheese for dipping or smother with cheese sauce.


Fries are generally deep fried. Even the packaged potatoes you can oven bake are not as good for us as a fresh potato. They contain vegetable oil and other ingredients; it's not just potato cut into perfect fry shapes. Making homemade, baked "fries" is the perfect substitute. You still get the satisfying textures and tastes from fries, but without the added fat from the frying process. Plus, by making it this way, we are able to add the healthy fats found in olive oil. We officially have healthy fries, folks!

Now, these potatoes are packed with flavor even before adding the cheese. Eat them plain or with a little bit of ketchup; you are set! But when given the chance to add cheese, I just had to. It had been awhile since giving the "fat free" version of shredded cheddar a try. Typically, it does not melt as well, which is why I tend not to use it in hot recipes. Well, after making this appetizer, I can see that is still the case. It does melt, but it isn't the same creamy consistency you would get from a 2% or whole version. I would recommend using 2% cheddar, not the fat free. With all the fat and calories we are saving by making our own healthy fries, you can afford to splurge a little.


Trying these fries with different toppings? I would love to hear about it!

NUTRITION FACTS (per serving):
Fries~ 193.17 calories;  4.8g fat;  33.87g carbohydrate;  4.03g protein;  5.43g fiber
Cheese~ 150.83 calories;  9.46g fat;  5.89g carbohydrate;  11.64g protein;  .05g fiber
Together~ 344 calories;  14.26g fat;  39.76g carbohydrate;  15.64g protein;  5.48g fiber

For this and other recipes by Rachael Ray, visit Food Network and Everyday with Rachael Ray.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: Fitting in Fitness

Photo taken from

One of the most common questions people ask me is, "Lindsay, how do you find the time?" I assume they are referring to any number of things I cram into my crazy day: being a mother, teaching, writing, cooking, studying, watching all my shows, fantasy football, housework and finally... working out. I would be lying if I told you that it is easy; that I have found the 25th hour of the day everyone has been searching for. And those who know me well know, I cannot tell a lie. However, I have acquired a few tricks for fitting fitness into even the busiest of schedules.

The first thing you should know is that having a child taught me quite a few things. One is that I had a helluva lot of free time before I was a mother! What was I doing with all that time?!?! You parents can relate; I'm sure. After having the little one, getting back into pre-baby shape was a goal of mine. Yet as I made the transition from expecting mother to active mother, I just didn't know how that was going to happen when so much of my time was needed elsewhere, and rightfully so. As most people do when faced with change, I adapted. Here are the tricks that saved my fitness regimen from extinction back then, and that I continue to use now.


Tip #1: Take it Outside- Walking and running are such great exercise. They are free AND all you have to do is step out the door. Call a friend or take the little one out for a stroll. If you have 30 minutes while dinner is in the oven, head on out!

Tip # 2: Use Your Home Gym- Believe it or not, everyone has one. There are a countless number of exercises that can be done using little or no equipment. Not having to drive to a gym saves so much time. In my case, 30 minutes!

Tip #3: Act Like a Child- We can't stop growing older, but that doesn't mean we have to grow up! Jumping rope, using a hula-hoop or just running around with your children (if you have them) is a great workout. Chase a 2-year-old around the house for 10 minutes. You will certainly work up a sweat!

Tip #4: Break it Down- ...into smaller sessions, that is. One hour of fitness does not have to be done all at once. For example, a 30 minute workout video, a 10-minute brisk walk at lunch and a 20 minutes of heavy housecleaning should do the trick for a day's worth of physical activity.

Tip #5: A Little is Better Than Nothin'- Don't blow off a workout because there isn't time to fit in the entire session. Get in what you can and give it 100%. If you can run the distance you normally do, try upping the speed or intensity for maximum calorie burn.

Fitting in fitness can be tough, but our health should be a top priority. All of the other things in our lives that demand our focus will not be getting much attention if we don't stay active; leading to sickness and lack energy. We owe it to ourselves and to the ones we care about to stay fit and healthy. Just think, if you already feel as if there isn't enough time to work out, can you really afford to be sick or sluggish?

Take care!


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