Monday, February 28, 2011

Paula Deen's Lean: Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle

My husband has given this recipe the "Best Dessert I Ever Ate" award. He loved it! And I must was delish! The recipe is huge, easily serving up to 20 people; which makes it the perfect dessert for large gatherings. Trust me. You are gonna want some people to help share this. Most of what I have done to Paula Deen's Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle was to cut down on some of the gingerbread cake, omit some sugar and substitute non-fat dairy. Here's what I got!

Serves 20
  • 1 (14-oz.) package gingerbread mix; prepared using egg white
  • 2 (1-oz.) packages SUGAR FREE/FAT FREE vanilla instant pudding; prepared using FAT FREE milk
  • 2.5 cups canned pumpkin pie filling
  • 1/3 teaspoon cinnamon or cardamom
  • 1 (8-12 oz.) container FAT FREE whipped topping (recommend Cool Whip)
  • 1/4 cup crushed gingersnaps, optional
Bake the gingerbread according to the package light directions (using egg white); cool completely. Meanwhile, prepare the pudding using fat free or 1% milk and set aside to cool. Stir the pumpkin pie filling and cinnamon or cardamom into the pudding. Crumble 1/2 batch of gingerbread into the bottom of a large, pretty bowl. Pour 1/2 of the pudding mixture over the gingerbread, then add a layer of whipped topping. Repeat with the remaining half of the gingerbread, pudding, and whipped topping. Sprinkle of the top with crushed gingersnaps, if desired. Refrigerate overnight. Trifle can be layered in a punch bowl.

Like I mentioned earlier, this was the best dessert my husband claims to have ever eaten. I might have to agree. It is definitely in the "top 5". If you love pumpkin pie, than you will LOVE this trifle. I will have no problems remembering this one for Thanksgiving next year...and any other fall festive event where I get the chance to bring a dessert. Here's what we saved, per serving:

BEFORE: 372.65 calories; 10.86g fat;  64.52g carbohydrate;  4.56g protein;  1.53g fiber
AFTER: 163.25 calories;  2.18g fat;  28.81g carbohydrate;  1.33g protein; 1.08g fiber
SAVES: 209.4 calories;  8.68g fat;  35.71g carbohydrate

Pretty sweet, right? A huge "THANK YOU" goes out to Nathalie & Tony for requesting this recipe makeover. Let me know what you think, guys! I hope you all enjoy!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Paula Deen's Lean: Warm Mexican Crab Dip

Want a recipe to kick your regular Crab Dip appetizer up a level? This recipe, full of flavors from jalapenos, cumin and chili powder, will certainly do the trick. All together, it takes about an hour, but I promise it is totally worth it! By the time you finish sippin' on what is left of that light beer you used for the dip, it will be time to dive in. Here we go! Dig into this "cookin' lean" version of Paula Deen's Warm Mexican Crab Dip!

Serves 8

  • 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic; minced
  • 2 tablespoons jalapeno pepper; seeded and chopped,
  • 1/2 cup light beer
  • 2 cups FAT FREE half-and-half
  • 1 (8-ounce) package of REDUCED-FAT cream cheese
  • 1 (8-ounce) block of Cabot 75% REDUCED-FAT cheddar
  • 1 pound lump crab meat, drained and picked for shells
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (roughly 2 limes)
  • 1/4 cup minced green onion
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour (for thickening; optional)
In a 4-quart saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, jalapeno pepper, and garlic and cook stirring frequently, for 3 minutes. Stir in the light beer and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Stir in half-and-half, cream cheese, and Cabot cheese, whisking until melted and smooth.

Stir in crab meat, lime juice, green onion, cilantro, and chili powder and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the salt, black pepper, cayenne, and cumin. Transfer the dip to a serving bowl and garnish with sliced jalapeno pepper, green onion and/or cilantro, if desired. Serve hot with warm tortilla chips.


Everyone, with the exception of my picky-eatin' husband, loved it! Rudy can be a little funny about things. He loves pizza, salsa, marinara dishes; hates chunks of tomato on or in anything. He could eat crab legs all day long, yet won't touch a crab dip or crab cakes. He is a little silly about things, but that's Rudy and that's why I love him.
Anyhow, back to the dip. I ran into a couple things as I was making this. First, if you are familiar with shopping for crab meat, you will know that lump crab is quite pricey at about $16 a pound. That can be a little much, so if you still want to test this recipe out without breakin' the bank, try using claw meat ($12/lb.) and maybe cut the recipe in half. The recipe makes a ton of dip! Paula says it is 4-6 servings, but according to our calculations, it could serve at least 8. The second adjustment I made was to add the flour as a thickening agent. Since we are using lighter dairy products, it was lookin' a little more like a soup and not a dip. 1-2 tablespoons of flour is all it took to bring this dip back to the right consistency. Overall, this is definitely a dip I would make over and over again.
Here's the breakdown. The original recipe was figured using 6 servings on this handy little recipe analyzer from Calorie Count. Not all the items are always there, so I just add them on my own. It's a great tool for quick and easy recipe nutritional analysis. Just copy, paste & click!

BEFORE: 525.83 calories;  43.51g fat;  5.83g carbohydrate;  27.74g protein; .65g fiber
AFTER: 200.75 calories;  7.14g fat;  11.20g carbohydrate;  22.68g protein;  .53g fiber
SAVES: 325.08 calories & 36.37g fat 

NUTRITION FACTS (per serving): 200.75 calories;  7.14g fat;  11.20g carbohydrate; 22.68g protein; .53g fiber  *Facts do not include tortilla chips.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cooking Light with Bobby Flay: Guacamole with Cumin Dusted Tortillas

Holy guacamole AND cumin dusted tortillas! The guac is incredible, but the tortilla chips are even better. I am so happy I found this recipe because they might be my favorite chip alternative yet! Served with the following guacamole recipe or simple salsa, these Cumin Dusted Tortillas are going to have you excited about appetizers and healthy party snacks all over again. Thanks Bobby!

Serves 6



  • 4 ripe avocados; peeled, pitted and chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • salt & pepper
  • chopped cilantro leaves, to taste
  • Cumin Dusted Tortilla Chips; recipe follows

Cumin Dusted Tortillas~
  • 4 whole wheat flour tortillas; cut into 12 slices each
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Olive oil cooking spray
DIRECTIONS:GUAC~ Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl (mashing the avocado with a fork works well) and mix to a chunky consistency. Season, to taste, with salt, pepper, and cilantro.

CHIPS~ Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the tortilla slices in a single layer, spread out on a baking sheet. Spray lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle with cumin and salt. Bake for about 10-12 minutes on the center rack. Check on them half-way through (at 5 minutes) to make sure they are not burning. Cool slightly and serve with guacamole or salsa.


Like I mentioned at the top, these recipes rocked. You all should have seen my excitement when I realized there was a healthy way to make these yummy-lookin' tortillas. Instead of using corn tortillas and frying them in peanut oil, we are using healthy whole wheat flour tortillas and baking them. How much does this little change impact the recipe nutrition wise? Let me show you!

BEFORE: 138 calories;  6.62g fat;  18.52g carbohydrate;  2.21g protein;  1.5g fiber
AFTER: 90.33 calories;  1.89g fat;  15.11g carbohydrate;  2.85g protein;  1.43g fiber
SAVES: 47.67 calories; 4.73g fat; 3.41g carbohydrate

Since there weren't any changes made to the guacamole recipe, there are no shocking numbers to post. However, I did work out the nutrition facts for you. If the fat is more that you were hoping for (even though it is healthy fat), you can opt for some naturally fat free and delicious salsa. I would recommend trying some mango salsa to go along with these Cumin Dusted Tortillas.

I hope you enjoy this recipe duo!

NUTRITION FACTS (per serving):

GUACAMOLE: 221.5 calories;  19.66g fat;  13.44g carbohydrate;  2.83g protein;  9.05g fiber

CHIPS: 90.33 calories;  1.89g fat;  15.11g carbohydrate; 2.85g protein; 1.43g fiber

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: Have a Meal with a Sweetie

I'm not talking about your main squeeze here. I am talking about SWEET POTATOES! Did you know that sweet potatoes aren't even potatoes at all?!?! They are not even distant cousins. Crazy, right? Well, maybe you knew this already, but to me, it was fresh news! I may not have known about the whole "not really being a potato" business, but I have known for years that sweet potatoes are loaded with great nutrition. They are high in anti-oxidants, high in fiber, one of the top three food sources of potassium, fat and cholesterol free and have a low glycemic index for maintaining steady glucose levels. Pretty impressive! It's no wonder that so many health and nutrition experts refer to sweet potatoes as a "Power Food".

So why all this talk about sweet potatoes? One, because they are so good for us that they deserve a little recognition. And two, because the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission is holding a blogger recipe contest where you could win some great prizes just for creating a healthy and delicious sweet potato recipe! The contest runs from now until the 21st of March. I think it would be great to see how many wonderful recipes we could create using these super sweet potatoes.

I will definitely be posting my recipe here in the next couple of weeks. I encourage you to create a recipe of your own, post it on your blog and link it back here in a comment under this post. Cooking is fun. Cooking and sharing with others is even better!

Good luck! I can't wait to see what you all cook up!

Not interested in entering the contest? Here are some ideas for adding sweet potatoes to  your diet.*
* Pack a baked sweet potato for lunch, topped with vanilla yogurt or cinnamon-flavored applesauce
* Add peeled chunks to your favorite stew
* Switch from potato chips to sweet potato chips
* Peel and cut into strips to eat with your favorite dip
* Blend into a breakfast smoothie
* Substitute in recipes calling for white potatoes or apples

For details on the Bloggers Recipe HERE.

*Facts & other materials provided by the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Lean Libation: Ina Garten's Sea Breeze

This is a classic cocktail that anyone can throw together. It's nothin' fancy, but sometimes less is more. It can be easily be made lighter by using fresh squeezed juices and low-sugar versions of cranberry cocktail. In less than 5 minutes, you will have a massive pitcher of Sea Breeze cocktail for you and your friends to kick back and enjoy. Here is my take on Ina Garten's recipe for the Sea Breeze cocktail.

Serves 10

  • 16 ounces vodka
  • 30 ounces NO SUGAR ADDED cranberry pomegranate juice
  • 12 ounces freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (about 2 grapefruits)
  • ice cubes
  • lime wedges, frozen

Put vodka and cranberry pomegranate juice in a pitcher. Squeeze in grapefruit juice and stir.  To serve, fill a glass half way with ice and pour juice over ice. Place a frozen lime wedge in each glass and enjoy.


NUTRITION FACTS (per glass): 133 calories; 0g fat;  7g carbohydrate; .2g protein; 0g fiber

SAVES: 29 calories & 8.4g carbohydrate

Friday, February 18, 2011

Cooking Light with Rachael Ray: Cubano Hot Dogs

The words "hot dog" and "healthy eating" typically don't fall into the same sentence. Rarely do we have them at our house; with the exception of the occasional backyard cookout or Jimmy Buffett tailgate. Really, the only time a hot dog sounds good to me is at a sporting event (Redskins games, baseball get the picture). I need to be in the right kinda mood. So when I saw these Cubano Hot Dogs on the Rachael Ray Show last week, I was surprised at my pull to try them out! What I like most about this recipe is how the chilies, mustard and pickle bring a punch of flavor to what could be a tasteless, low-fat frank.

Makes 8

  • 8 fat free hot dogs  (Hebrew National 97% FAT FREE)
  • 8 good quality hot dog rolls (whole wheat if you can find them)
  • Yellow mustard
  • 1 small 4 ounce can of pickled jalapenos (hot) or green chilies (mild), drained well and finely chopped  
  • 8 slices low -fat deli ham
  • 8 thin slices FAT FREE Swiss cheese  (Try Borden Fat Free Slices)
  • 8 homemade or store bought pickle spears
  • Heat griddle pan or cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Split dogs lengthwise and open them up like a book, grill them up until crispy on both sides.
  • Preheat the broiler.
  • Arrange split rolls on a baking sheet. Top rolls with lots of mustard, chopped chilies, ham and Swiss cheese, broil just long enough to melt the cheese.
  • Place Dogs on top of melted cheese in rolls and fill the crevice with a pickle spear.
It's not gourmet's just a hot dog. But for what it's worth, it really was pretty good! If you have ever had fat free hot dogs, then you know they just don't really compare to the real thing. However, dress it up with some chilies, mustard, ham, cheese and a crunchy pickle; now you have got something great! Next time you are feelin' the urge for a simple, classic meal the whole family will love, consider these Cubano Hot Dogs. Cook-out season is quickly approaching. How about adding a little something sassy to your ordinary hot dog?

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION (per serving): 225 calories;  3g fat;  31 carbohydrate; 19g protein; .7g fiber

SAVES: 230 calories & 25g fat

**Recipe inspired by Rachael Ray. Find original recipe here.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Paula Deen's Lean: Baked Chocolate Custard with Butterscotch Whipped Cream

Helloooo chocoholics! This is the absolute, must-try recipe for you! It is rich. It is decadent. It is less than 250 calories!! If you are lookin' for a sweet splurge to satisfy any chocolate craving, this is the dessert for you. In the January 17, 2011 issue of PEOPLE magazine, Paula shared her delicious recipe for Baked Chocolate Custard with us. Here is my spin on it.

Serves 6

  • 1 cup (6 ounces) dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup FAT FREE half-and-half
  • 1 cup 1% milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup Egg Beaters (or similar egg substitute)
  • 3 tablespoons light maple syrup
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons SUGAR FREE butterscotch syrup (Suggestion: Smucker's)
  • 6 tablespoons FAT FREE Reddi Whip
Heat the oven to 300 degrees.

Place the chocolate chips in a medium size, heat-safe bowl. Bring half-and-half and the milk to a light boil over low heat using a medium saucepan. Pour the hot mixture over the chocolate chips and whisk until smooth (all the chocolate is melted).

In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks, Egg Beaters, light maple syrup and salt. Whisk in 1/2 of the chocolate mixture. Then add the remaining chocolate mixture; mixing completely. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve (aka...mesh strainer), and divide into 6 oven-safe ramekins.

Place the ramekins in a large roasting pan; filling the pan with warm water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekin. Cover the pan with foil and poke small holes throughout. Bake on the center rack for 30-35 minutes. When ready to come out of the oven, the edges of the custard will be slightly set and the center will still jiggle. Let the custards cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

To serve, top each custard with about 1 tablespoon of Reddi Whip and drizzle with 1/2 tablespoon of butterscotch syrup.

When you take your first bite, you will automatically feel like you have completely fallen off the healthy path. The good news is, you haven't. It is a dessert; something that should be enjoyed in moderation. But if you are going to go for it, this is a smart way to do it. The change that made the biggest impact was using half-and-half in place of heavy cream. The other small switches included using Egg Beaters instead of all egg yolk, 1% milk for whole, Reddi Whip for homemade whip with heavy cream, and sugar free syrup. The dark chocolate and maple syrup were used to not just cut some calories, but to add the nutrients found in maple syrup and the antioxidants found in dark chocolate. Just another something you can feel good about as you enjoy your slimmed down dessert!

The nutritional breakdown per serving...

BEFORE: 535 calories;  42g fat;  39g carbohydrate;  6g protein
AFTER: 232 calories;  11g fat;  32g carbohydrate;  5g protein; fiber 0g
SAVES: 303 calories;  31g fat;  7g carbohydrate

*Recipe inspired by Paula Deen's Baked Chocolate Custard with Butterscotch Whipped Cream; found in January 17, 2001 issue of PEOPLE Magazine; adapted from The Deen Family Cookbook, Simon & Schuster.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: Friend Infused Fitness

You have probably read things before about how exercising with friends can help you stay committed to an exercise regimen. I have heard it too. Yet, the idea behind  "exercise buddies" was never as clear to me as it was this past Saturday when I experienced it.

My sister, husband, daughter and I had all set out for an afternoon run/walk. I knew it was cold, but there was nothing that could have prepared me for the wind. Now, before I go on, I need to let you in on a little something about me. Cold and I do not get along. Being cold makes me miserable and I can't have fun because all that I can think about is being cold. Skiing is probably really fun, but it is also cold. Sorry, not gonna happen. So continuing on with the story, the wind that day made me extremely cold and unhappy. And running into the wind was not fun either.

Within 3 minutes I was already thinking about just turning around, going back to our warm n' cozy home and passing up on the run for the day. Had it just been Kimber and I, it would have happened this way. However, my husband and sister were focused and determined, while my mind was telling me to quit this nonsense and run for warmth! They motivated me to stick it out and finish. Glad they did, 'cause after about 10 minutes, I was working hard enough to not mind the cold anymore. See?!?  Working out with friends does really help us stick with our workouts!

I can now be certain of two things after this weekend. One, I am a sissy when it comes to the cold (kinda already knew that one) and two, if you know that sticking to a workout or fitness goal is tough for you...the buddy system will help to stay committed! Not only did exercising with "buddies" help motivate me toward physical well-being, but being around them boosted my emotional health as well. Thanks, guys!

Have a great Tuesday! Call up a friend and go get some exercise!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Kimber's Korner: Chocolate Dipped Bananas

I LOOOOOOVE bananas! I have been eating them almost my entire life. First as a puree, next in bite-size pieces, then peeling and eating it like a big girl and now....dipped in chocolate and covered with goodness! This recipe is tons of fun to make. It can get a little messy, but that's part of what makes it so exciting to make! Check out how Mom and I made our Chocolate Dipped Bananas. Oh, and thank you to Miss Rachael for coming up with the original recipe that inspired me. You are great!

Makes 10 servings


5 bananas

10 Popsicle sticks

1 (7-ounce) tub of BAKER'S dipping chocolate


cereal (crumbled)
Reduced-Fat Nilla wafers (crumbled)


Peel and cut the bananas in half crosswise, so that you have 10 pieces. Place peeled bananas on sticks. Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper. Place bananas on the cookie sheet in the freezer, keep them in there as long as possible, at least 10 minutes. Heat chocolate bits until melted completely. Dip the chilled bananas in chocolate and roll with your favorite topping. Chill or freeze until ready to serve.


These turned out so great! As you can see, they were very easy to make and a great recipe to do with the kids. You can be as creative as you want with the toppings, just try to keep it on the healthy side; so avoid using candy or full-fat cookies. This is a great way to sneak in extra fruit, whole grains or healthy nutrients from nuts. Want to cut down on the serving size? Slice the bananas into thirds like we did!


~ Kimber

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Paula Deen's Lean: Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise

One of my absolute favorite things my Mom made for us growing up was Eggs Benedict. It wasn't something we had all the time, but when it was a special time (Christmas, birthday, good grades, etc.), we knew we were getting this wonderful breakfast treat. And it was a treat 'cause my Mom can rock Eggs Benedict! You couldn't find a drop left of it in our kitchen when breakfast was over. Kinda made you wanna throw all etiquette out the window and lick that plate clean! That's the kind of good I'm talkin' about here.
 Now if you have made this dish before, then the amount of butter used to prepare the hollandaise is no mystery to you. With all that butter, it's no wonder the stuff tastes so good! Well, since we're lookin' to make things healthier around here, I tried substituting butter with a healthier alternative; avocado. Here is one way to turn this breakfast classic into a dish that is bursting with healthy flavor.

Serves 4

  • 4 Thomas Light Multi-Grain English muffins
  • 8 pieces lean Canadian bacon
  • 4 slices REDUCED-FAT cheddar cheese
  • 4 cups frozen spinach
  • 2 cups Egg Beaters or similar substitute; 1/4 cup per muffin half
Hollandaise Sauce:
  • 1/2 avocado; chopped
  • 4 tablespoons FAT FREE half-and-half
  • 1 tablespoon "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter"
  • 1/2 lemon; juiced
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar or Splenda
  • 1/8 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
  • FAT FREE/REDUCED-SODIUM chicken broth
Before starting the sauce, we need to prepare everything else. First, cook the spinach and Canadian bacon according to package directions. Once spinach is cooked, make sure to thoroughly drain the spinach so you don't end up with soggy muffins. Next, toast the muffins by pulling them apart and grilling them face down or using a toaster (try a couple sprays of "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" before grilling). To cook the Egg Beaters, you can use an egg poacher pan OR you can simply add 1/4 cup Egg Beater to a glass pinch bowl and microwave for one minute. It comes right out in the perfect shape.

To assemble, top each toasted muffin half with a half-slice of cheese, one slice of Canadian bacon, spinach and egg. Now it's time for the sauce!
Add the chopped avocado and half-and-half to a food processor or blender; puree until smooth. Add the puree and the remaining ingredients to the top of a double boiler, over boiling water.Stir until thick, approximately 3 minutes; set aside until ready to use. Do not reheat or cover the pot. Thin, if needed with a little chicken broth.

Pour Hollandaise sauce evenly over the assembled Eggs Benedict. Top with a pinch of ground pepper; if desired.
There is no way to make a butter sauce that tastes exactly the same without using butter (if there is, I haven't found it yet). With that being said, this Hollandaise Sauce is not going to taste exactly like Paula's, or my Mom's for that matter. However, it is still a rather tastey alternative. Although it may be green, don't let it scare you. The avocado gives this sauce a rich, creamy consistancy and a taste that pulls the entire dish together. The best part about this dish is knowing about all the great nutrients we are getting by using avocado. This fruit in a nutritional powerhouse! Just take a look at all this information from Avocados from Mexico.

Here is a look at how the Hollandaise looked before and after the makeover.

BEFORE: 129.75 calories;  13.5g fat; .5g carbohydrate;  1.5g protein
AFTER: 115 calories; 10g fat;  4g carbohydrate; 3g protein
SAVES: 14.75 calories; 3.5g fat

Although the overall calories and fat were not drastically changed, it is important to see that the saturated fat (aka...the bad fat) did! The butter alone added 14g of saturated fat to the recipe. Using avocado and ICBINB dropped that number to only 5.6.
To really see how this recipe makes a healthy alternative, check out what you are getting from a Classic Eggs Benedict at Perkin's Restaurant: 1,160 calories, 51g fat; 138 carbohydrates; 39g protein. And the "Cookin' Lean" version...

*Nutritional Information (Per Serving; 2): 390 calories;  16g fat;  35gcarbohydrate;  31g protein

Give it a try! I think you will be pleasantly surprised with this twist on a breakfast favorite.

Inspiration for this recipe come from Paula Deen's Fried Green Tomato and Egg Hollandaise;
*All nutritional information is a estimated calculation based on facts published by the makers of these products and

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cooking Light with Giada De Laurentiis: Chicken Parmesan

Chicken Parmesan. It is an Italian classic that everyone has tried and most people love. In my experience, the chicken has always been breaded and fried; adding unneccessary fat and calories. I love Chicken Parmesan, but because of how it was being prepared, I always passed it up. However, with Giada's inspiration, Chicken Parmesan has a whole new look that is healthy and full of taste. The flavors of rosemary, thyme and olive oil are easy to pick up when not overshadowed by the fried breading. This dish truly is now a family favorite in my house.  Try it out in your home and let me know what ya think!

Makes 4 Servings

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon water

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 (about 6-ounces each) boneless/skinless chicken breasts

1 1/2 cups jar tomato sauce (such as Hunt's Traditional)

1/2 cup KRAFT FAT FREE shredded mozzarella

16 teaspoons fat free grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Stir the oil, water and herbs in a small bowl to blend. Season with a tiny pinch of salt and some pepper. Pound chicken to roughly about 1inch thickness. Brush both sides of the chicken breasts with the herb oil. Heat a heavy large oven-proof skillet over high heat. Add the cutlets and cook just until brown, about 2 minutes per side. Remove the skillet from the heat.

Spoon the marinara sauce over and around the cutlets. Evenly sprinkle mozzarella, then sprinkle Parmesan, over each chicken breast. Bake until the cheese melts and the chicken is cooked through, about 5-8 minutes.

Why do I love this recipe? Because it just goes to show ya that you don't have to give up the old foods you love in order to live a healthy life. We just need to give our old dishes a new look! Simple changes made this Chicken Parmesan into a lean meal that we love WAY more than the version my family has seen in restaurants and on take-out menus. I won't ever think of Chicken Parmesan the same way again. From now on, this is the only way to make it.

Just check out the numbers! (per serving)

BEFORE: 873.25 calories;  62g fat;  33.75g carbohydrate;  21.75g protein

AFTER: 273.5 calories;  6.5g fat;  12g carbohydrate;  45g protein

SAVES: 599.75 calories; 55.5g fat;  21.75g carbohydrate

The big savings came from reducing the amount of olive oil and butter; in both the main recipe AND in Giada's recipe for a Simple Tomato Sauce. Using your favorite jarred or canned sauce saves time, money, calories and fat. I can't speak for you, but cutting down on all those things sounds pretty amazing to me! I hope you love this dish as much as we did.

Thanks for stoppin' by!


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: Show Your Heart Some Love

February is a month where our country calls attention to matters of the heart. The most common images are those of roses, conversation hearts, chocolates and Valentines. But with heart disease impacting so many men and women, I believe it is time to show a little more love to the physical, not just emotional, aspects of the heart.

February is American Heart Month; an entire month dedicated to educating and bringing awareness to the #1 killer of people in the United States...heart disease. Can you believe that ever 25 seconds someone is having a coronary event and every one minute someone dies from this?* It's horrible to think about, yet there is a positive spin on this. We have the power of preventative action! There are things we can do every day that decrease our chances of being a statistic. A lean diet, daily activity, exercise, not smoking and moderate alcohol consumption will all show your heart how much you love it! It's not tough. Remember, small changes yield big results.

For more information about American Heart Month and tools to help guide your everyday choices, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

This February, if you choose to take part in Valentine's Day, that is your call. But I strongly encourage everyone to take a moment to look into the facts and information about heart disease. Arm yourself with the knowledge and awareness to prevent this disease from impacting you, your family and your friends. Don't just spread the love in your heart; help spread the message about showing love for your heart. You are worth it!

Look for my review next week on a book relating to this topic: Prevent a Second Heart Attack: 8 Foods, 8 Weeks to Reverse Heart Disease by Dr. Janet Bond Brill, Ph.D. R.D., LDN.

Thanks for stoppin' in! Have a Happy and Healthy Heart Month!

*Statistic taken from CDC website.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Lean Libation: Bobby Flay's Mesa Fresca

I think it's a pretty safe to say that most of us have had enough with the snow, ice and cold that comes along with winter. Are you ready for a little vacation via libation? Well, here is the perfect fruity cocktail to pick you right up and take you away to St. Somewhere. I'm talking about Bobby Flay's Mesa Fresca cocktail; made with freshly squeezed juices and light lemon-lime soda. Oh, and some tequila! The combination is crisp, refreshing and just what you need to slip away from the cold. Don't forget about it, though. The Mesa Fresca will come in handy once the hot summer days are here.

Makes 1 drink

2 ounces tequila (recommended: El Tesoro)

2 ounces freshly squeezed grapefruit juice

1/2-ounce freshly squeezed lime juice

Pinch salt

Splash diet lemon-lime soda (recommended: Sprite Zero)
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. Serve over the rocks in a Collins glass.

My panel of taste-testers loved it. Everyone said the same thing, "This would be the perfect summertime drink." Because it is so fresh and light, you can see yourself sippin' on one of these lounging around the pool, at a cookout or while reading a book in your screened in porch.
Not confident in your bar tending abilities? Have no fear. If you can measure and mix, you will be just fine.

Oh, in case you were wondering; using diet instead of regular will save you around 25-30 calories and 6.5g carbohydrate.


*The Mesa Fresca is a drink recipe created by Bobby Flay and can be found on the Food Network website.
**This recipe contains alcohol and should only be consumed by individuals over the age of 21 (US). Enjoy responsibly!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cooking Light with Giada De Laurentiis: Couscous Cakes

I owe it to my sister Molly for starting me off on this recent couscous kick of mine. My mom used to make it for us quite frequently growing up, but as far as making it on my own...not so much. I like it, but it hasn't been something that I just had to have, that is, until now. I had forgotten how light it is and how versatile it can be. And when they are formed into pretty little cakes sprinkled with color, they become a great edible accessory for dressing up your plate. Giada's Couscous Cake recipe was an inspiration in creating my own version; Red Pepper and Parsley Couscous Cakes.

Red Pepper and Parsley Couscous Cakes
Makes 8 cakes (4 servings)

2 cups cooked Parmesan couscous, prepared according to package instructions; cooled 
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

3 egg whites

1/4 cup finely diced red pepper

1 lime, zested

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Olive Oil Cooking Spray (as needed)

In a medium bowl, mix together the couscous, parsley, red pepper, egg whites, lime zest, salt and pepper. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture. Mix until combined.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Form 1/4 cupfuls of the mixture into 8 patties. Add 4 of the patties to the pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes each side until golden. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining couscous mixture. If skillet becomes dry, spray lightly with Olive Oil cooking spray; as needed.

The couscous cakes turned out really nice. The freshness of the lime, paired with the sweet red pepper and the subtle hint of Parmesan makes this side the perfect compliment for many steak, chicken or fish dishes. I just fell in love with how cute they look! They really do "pop" on the plate.

The main change here was in the amount of Olive Oil used in comparison to Giada's recipe. My goal was to use as little as possible and still get the look we were going for. Mission accomplished! With just 2 tablespoons of EVOO (as opposed to 1/2 cup), you will be able to cook up these little beauties while reducing the fat by almost 50%. Check out the nutritional breakdown, per serving of 2 Couscous Cakes.

BEFORE: 258 calories; 15.75g fat; 23g carbohydrate;  7g protein

AFTER: 192 calories;  7.75g fat;  23.5g carbohydrate;  7.5g protein

SAVINGS: 66 calories; 8g fat

* Inspiration for this recipe was Giada De Laurentiis and her Couscous Cakes featured on

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: "Super" Healthy Snacks for Your Super Bowl Bash

It's coming! Whether you are a huge football fan, an occasional spectator or you really couldn't care less what happens in the world of NFL; the odds are you will either be hosting or attending a Super Bowl party this weekend. Aside from all of the Cheesehead-wearin', TerribleTowel-twirlin' fans, there is going to be a spread of tempting, tailgating treats. The nachos, the hot dogs and the sliders, oh my! Super Bowl Sunday can become a day of overindulgence OR it can be just another day full of flavorful, healthy snacks...with a little football.

If you are hosting the party, then here are some ideas for healthy appetizers to sneak into the spread. Attending a party elsewhere? Bring a healthy dish to share! At least you can be sure there is one healthy dish to snack on instead of being forced to eat the all other stuff.


1. POPCORN ~ Pop up a few bags of Orville Redenbacher's Smart Pop! (Butter or Kettle Korn) & dump it in a bowl. In minutes, you have a guiltless snack to last the game. {120 calories per bag!}

2. VEGGIES & HUMMUS ~ Need something to "crunch"? Cut up fresh peppers, carrots and cucumbers and pair it with some homemade or store bought hummus.

3. ONION RINGS ~ Not fried rings...baked. Check out this recipe for healthy rings & a yummy dip!

4. CHICKEN FINGERS ~ I don't care how old you are, you are never too old for chicken nuggets! Try this recipe for healthy "baked" chicken nuggets and honey-mustard dipping sauce.

5. CHILI ~ Chili is a classic tailgating treat. Made with lean ingredients, it can be the perfect thing to keep you satisfied throughout the game. Check out my version of Jamie's Chili. Don't forget the fat free sour cream and Kraft Shredded Cheddar to top it off!

6. CHIPS & DIP ~ Baked Lay's are a great substitution for the regular potato chip. Mix one packet of Lipton Onion Soup with 16 oz. of Fat-Free sour cream and you have a delicious low-fat dip!

7. FINGER SANDWICHES ~ When you need a little more than veggies or chips, a couple little sammies to nibble on are a great idea. Try Paula Deen's Lean Pimento Cheese Sandwiches or my personal favorite, Giada's Light Mini Italian Club Sandwiches.

8. NUTS ~ Walnuts, almonds and pistachios; all great tasting snacks with nutritional benefits. Although high in fat, it is healthy fat; always welcome in moderation.

9. FRESH FRUIT ~ Need a sweet option? Why not use Mother Natures cure for the sweet tooth, fruit! A platter of fresh sliced apples, strawberries and melons is always good. If you want, whip up a non-fat dip by mixing 8 oz. of Fat-Free Philadelphia Cream Cheese with one jar of Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme.

10. JALAPENOS ~ These stuffed peppers are a "hot" tailgating item; gaurenteed to go quick. Try out my lean version of Paula's Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Jalapenos or this tasting lookin' recipe for Jalapeno Poppers from

Super Bowl parties are a great time to get together with family and friends. Allow yourself to have fun and eat great food; some healthy and perhaps a little that's not. Everything in moderation.

Good luck to you if your team made it to the big show! I am still waiting for my chance to really, truly be excited about the Super Bowl. Oh, the life of a loyal Redskins fan.

Have a great day! Stay safe and warm out there in all that snow and ice!


Related Posts with Thumbnails