Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: My Cakes Got Sauce

Starting around this time of the year, fall, is when I like to do the most baking. The smell of cinnamon and nutmeg, pumpkin and apple fill the house and completely put me into a state of bliss. I love it! Yankee candle was totally onto something when they put those same fragrances into a jar. Brilliant!

Back to today's topic...cakes with sauce.

Friday night, my friends Pam, Claire and I had a girl's night in. What did we do? Bake and drink wine, of course! On the menu were Giada's donuts and Paula's Pumpkin Bars (both recipes coming this week). The mission was to take these delicious, yet sinful treats and make them lean. I have great news. We did it!

As I was figuring the nutritional facts for the Pumpkin cake last night, I made a shocking discovery. The amount of vegetable oil in the original recipe was 1,927 calories & 218g of fat!! Now, yes, this is divided up into 24 servings. However, by subbing the exact amount of natural apple sauce (1 cup), we are now looking at 50 calories and 0g of fat...divided by 24. Amazing, right? You can save soooo much and the cake still tastes fantastic! Some would say, "even better"!

The lesson here is that when baking brownies or baking a cake, make sure your cakes got sauce!

Have a fabulous Tuesday!

Don't forget to stop by later this week for some healthy donuts with lemon glaze and Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Icing!! You might decide to have a night in with your friends for a little wine and baking. Cheers to that!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Paula Deen's Lean: Taco Salad

Need a quick dinner for a busy weeknight? Try this one! We love anything tacos, burritos, quesadillas in our house. This is why I had to try Paula Deen's Taco Salad. With a short list of ingredients and directions consisting of only FIVE sentences...I knew it was the perfect dish our crazy schedule. This dish is extremely easy to make lean. Check it out!

Serves 8

  • 2 ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 pound (4 ounces) 2 % sharp Cheddar, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce, washed, drained and shredded
  • 1 pound EXTRA lean ground beef (96/4), browned, crumbled and drained
  • 1 cup KRAFT Fat Free Catalina salad dressing
  • 2 cups Tostitos Baked Tortilla chips, crushed
  • 1 cup salsa
  • Baked Tortilla chips, to serve

In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, cheese, onion, lettuce, and extra lean ground beef.

Add Catalina dressing and mix well.

Just before serving, add the Baked Tostito Chips, tossing to combine with other ingredients. Top each serving with spoonful of salsa. 


We all loved this dish because it tasted great! I loved it because it took about 20 minutes to throw together and it was very easy to make lean. The next time I make it, I am going to try mixing iceberg lettuce with some spinach. This will add a little more nutrition in the form of vitamins and fiber. There really isn't much to iceberg lettuce. Throwing in some spinach won't impact the taste, but it will add more of the good stuff our bodies need!

Check out the difference in nutrition facts just by using a fat free dressing, extra lean beef and a little less cheese. I was wowed by the decrease in fat. The carbs went up, but that is because fat free dressings compensate with a little more sugar. In this case, I think it is well worth it!


BEFORE: 521.38 calories/37g fat/  27.56g carbohydrate / 21.97g protein / 3.26g fiber

AFTER: 245.38 calories/ 5.4g fat/  31.12g carbohydrate / 18.32g protein / 3.75g fiber

SAVES: 276 calories and 31.6g fat

Enjoy & have a fabulous weekend!! 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: Eating is a Priority

Of course eating is a priority...at least it should be. Consuming food is one of our basic needs. It keeps us alive. So how come cleaning, running errands, party planning or doing homework seem to take priority over such an important thing? Because they just do. I will be first to admit that I am soooo guilty of getting wrapped up in what I'm doing. Fueling my body just doesn't enter into my mind. That is, until I am blind sided by faint feelings or extreme hunger! I know it shouldn't get to that, but the truth is, it does. Not all the time, but sometimes. It's not intentional. Time just gets away from me...and those times are almost always on a Saturday.

Saturdays are my days to cram as many productive and fun things as I can all in about 16 hours. You would think I'd work in a fun meal somewhere, right? I usually do, but one meal isn't enough. To keep our bodies happy, we should be eating 100-300 calories every 3 hours; making each snack or mini-meal a good balance of fat, protein and carbohydrates. When we go long periods without food, our body thinks we are starving and therefore slows that metabolism down. The next time we do eat, the body tries to hold on more to that energy; afraid it may be a long time before eating again. Basically, the body stores fat and we don't want that. But aside from all this, when we don't eat, we feel sluggish and are unable to think clearly. Just a simple 110 calorie Pria bar is all it takes to turn things around if you find yourself reaching 3-4 hours without food. It sounds so simple, but it takes effort.
It takes some planning. It involves being prepared. I am able to do this during the week, so I really need to focus on doing this over the weekends too. Especially on those days where it is go-go-go, non-stop, running around. There is no excuse for not properly meeting our basic needs. I take time to feed my daughter, so there should be time to feed me too!

We are busy people, but there is always time to eat! Many stores are selling items that make eating-on-the-go easier for health conscious people. Saturday is a good time to take advantage of this. I'm really going to make a conscious effort to work on this. I'll let ya know how it goes.

Have a fabulous Tuesday!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Paula Deen's Lean: BLT Appetizer

A little over a week ago, my wonderful friend Pam hosted a Stella & Dot trunk show. As her stylist, I advised her to keep the food simple. I also didn't want her bustin' her but trying to make tons of food. I wanted her show to be all fun, no fuss. So, I suggested we try out Paula Deen's BLT Appetizer! It is easy to whip up in just a few minutes & everyone loved it! With a few simple switches, we this appetizer healthier and our guests happier!

BLT Appetizer

Photo from www.pauladeen.com.

Serves 8


• 1 cup Hellmann’s Mayonnaise Dressing OR (½ light mayo & ½ cup Fat Free Plain Greek Yogurt)
• 1 cup FAT FREE sour cream
• Iceberg Lettuce, shredded
• 2 large vine-ripe tomatoes, chopped
• 8 slices lean bacon(center cut), cooked crisp and crumbled
• Sea salt bagel chips


Combine the Light mayonnaise and FAT FREE sour cream in a small bowl with a snap-on lid. When well mixed, refrigerate until serving time. When ready to serve, place the mayonnaise mixture in a large serving bowl. Top with the lettuce, tomatoes and bacon. Serve with bagel chips.


I wish I had pictures of the empty bowl, because that is always good evidence of how it turned out. Better yet, there I need a picture of myself (and a couple others) trying to scrape off every last bit onto the remaining bagel chips. Yep, it's that good! Give it a try for your next spontaneous get-together or tailgate. You will be so happy you did!

NUTRITION FACTS (per serving; dip only):

BEFORE: 269 calories / 22.6 g fat / 9.9 g carbohydrate / 7.4 g protein / .5 g fiber

AFTER: 100 calories / 4.6 g fat / 10.4 g carbohydrate / 5.3 g protein / .5 g fiber

SAVES: 169 calories & 18 g fat

*Original recipe for BLT Appetizer by Phyllis Curtee; adapted by Paula Deen. Found on www.foodnetwork.com.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: Eat to Live, Just Don't Forget to Live

I consider myself a pretty healthy person. Between regular runs, healthy meal makeovers and a smart eating regimen, I feel like things are good. I am not a perfect eater by any means. I splurge occasionally and I have my weaknesses. But do you know why I am OK with this? Because if I didn't enjoy my Chardonnay or game day hot dog, I wouldn't be living!

I'm going to keep today's post short and sweet. J.K. Rowling (Author of Harry Potter) has a great quote which goes, "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that."

Well, I say, "It does not do to dwell obsessively over nutrition facts and forget to live, remember that!"

I have no problem with eating well. I promote healthy eating. But there are just some things that I believe were put on this earth for us to enjoy and I plan on enjoying them as long as I can. It's simple. We need to eat to live, just don't forget to do the living part.

Have a great Tuesday!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Lucky Mushroom Council Giveaway Winner Is...

ERIN!! Erin from Me, Him & Our Story, is  the winner of this fabulous prize package worth $100 dollars! Erin is an adorable, young wife that promotes breast cancer awareness each and every day as an RN. Thank you Erin for entering and for helping to keep us women healthy.

A BIG thank you to the Mushroom Council for making me a part of this campaign. Breast cancer impacts so many lives. It takes all of us doing our part to spread the word about awareness and to continue raising money to support research.

Erin now will be receiving a package in the mail consisting of...


•Mushroom Slicer

•Cuisinart Chef's Classic Stainless Saute Pan with Cover (5 Quart)

•Book "My Plate for Moms: How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better"

(ARV: $ 100)

Hope you are enjoying your Monday!

Erin, email me your info to cookinlean@gmail.com and I'll get your prize to you asap!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Mushroom Council Supporting Breast Cancer Awareness

If you watched any football yesterday, then you couldn't help but notice all the pink being worn by the players, cheerleaders and coaches in support of breast cancer awareness. It's only the third day of October and there is already a beautiful explosion of pink that has taken over the country. Pink is everywhere because breast cancer effects women everywhere. Young, old, rich, poor....breast cancer does not discriminate. If breast cancer has not entered the lives of anyone you know, consider yourself very blessed. It is a terrible thing, but we are not giving in! Major companies and organizations of all sizes are jumping in to help support the many women fighting breast cancer. They are raising money and awareness to put an end to this disease; bringing hope to many and improving the lives of women all over the world. 

    Today, I would like to spotlight one of these organizations; the Mushroom Council. You may have already noticed their support because from September 15 through November 15, select retailers nationwide will sell mushrooms in pink containers in recognition of breast cancer research and National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Since 2002, the Mushroom Council has invested more than $750,000 in grants to City of Hope for research on mushrooms and cancer.  City of Hope is a leading research, treatment and education center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases and is designated as a Comprehensive Cancer Center, the highest honor bestowed by the National Cancer Institute. This fall alone, the Mushroom Council will provide an additional $50,000 to continue funding this important research! Not only are they great supporters of breast cancer research, but they believe in the healthy powers of the mushroom.


  • ·         Mushrooms are low in sodium and calories, fat and cholesterol-free
  • ·         Mushrooms can be an effective substitute for meats thanks to their hearty and fulfilling nature
  • ·         Mushrooms are the only item in the produce aisle to provide vitamin D, and one of the few non-fortified food sources
  • ·          All mushrooms contain vitamin D, but growers also have the ability to increase D levels by exposing mushrooms to ultraviolet light
  • ·         These friendly fungi provide critical nutrients like energizing B vitamins, potassium and powerful antioxidants including ergothionene and selenium
  • ·         Mushrooms are already low in sodium, plus their umami counterbalances saltiness which allows less salt to be used in a dish, without compromising flavor 
  •   Mushrooms are a kitchen staple: they can star as the feature ingredient, or pair with any dish. Try them every day, in every way
I am a mushroom fan. I love then in dishes and even as the star! If you aren't sure what to make with mushrooms, check out any of these yummy recipes from City of Hope's "Cooking Against Cancer" Recipes!

o   Mushroom, Edamame and Salmon Penne to impress guests during fall dinner parties
o   MLT Wrap for a smart, meat-free lunch

o   Mushroom and Egg Wrap to help satisfy morning hunger

o   More recipes available on the Mushroom Council’s recipes page

Excited to start cookin' with mushrooms?!?! I am!And just because the Mushroom Council wants to help you live a healthier life by adding foods like mushrooms into your cookin', they have given me the chance to host a GIVEAWAY!!


  • Mushroom Slicer
  • Cuisinart Chef's Classic Stainless Saute Pan with Cover (5 Quart)
  • Book "My Plate for Moms: How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better"
(ARV: $ 100)

o   Follow @MushroomChannel on Twitter
o   Like the Mushroom Channel Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/MushroomChannel)
o   Answer the question: “How do you support National Breast Cancer Awareness Month?”

Hope you all have a wonderful Monday! Join us tomorrow night (Tuesday, October 4th) for the Mushroom Council #gno Twitter party from 9-11pm ET !!

Don't forget to enter this giveaway and to share it with your friends!
**This giveaway is open to all US residents. Giveaway closes Sunday, October 9, 2011 at 11:59 pm ET. The winner will be announced on Monday, October 10, 2011.

DISCLOSURE:  I was compensated for my participation in the Mushroom Council campaign.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Lean Libation: Tyler's Orange Cream Mimosa

Some mornings are just meant for mimosas. We occasionally indulge is this morning mixture of champagne and orange juice in our house. Most of the time it is a spontaneous thing (like this past Sunday). When Rudy asks, "Is there any champagne in the garage refrigerator?" before 11 am...you know it's gonna be one of those mornings.

Well in case you would like to put a little prep into your mimosas, this is a fabulous variation to the classic libation. While looking for cocktails to transform into "Lean Libations", I stumbled upon Tyler Florence's Orange Cream Mimosa recipe. Wow. They looked AND sounded incredible. Since I happened to have a large amount of SPLENDA ESSENTIALS on hand (Thanks, Splenda!), I was prepared to lighten this libation and test out a new kind of mimosa. You are gonna love this one!

Makes 10 Mimosas

  • 2-1/2 cups Trop50 orange juice
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 1 cup FAT FREE half-and-half
  • 1 bottle Champagne
  • Strawberries, for garnish
** Want to leave out the alcohol & cut calories? Substitute Diet Gingerale for the Champagne.


Put Trop 50 orange juice, zest, FAT FREE half-and-half, and SPLENDA ESSENTIALS into a blender and process until the sugar has dissolved, about 30 seconds.

Pour this mixture into a shallow pan and freeze until hard, 4 hours or overnight.

Take the frozen orange mixture out of the freezer and let it sit to soften slightly, about 10 minutes. With a scoop or tablespoon, scrape out a small scoop and put it into a Champagne glass. Slowly fill the glass with Champagne (or Diet Gingerale) and serve garnished with strawberries.


I absolutely loved the way this turned out! I like regular Mimosas, but I don't like them too "orange-juicy". This is a little problem, cause then my Mimosas end up a bit heavy on the Champagne side. One of those and I'm ready for a mid-day nap! But with the orange cream, the orange flavor is still there, yet softened a bit. That's what makes them fabulous, to me.

NUTRITION FACTS (per Orange Cream Mimosa w/Champagne):

BEFORE: 199.6 calories /  2.91 g fat / 29.7 g carbohydrate / 1.21 g protein / .18 g fiber
AFTER: 89.6 calories / .34 g fat / 12.4 carbohydrate / .9 g protein / 4.7 g fiber
SAVES: 110 calories / 2.6 g fat / 17.6 g carbohydrate
ADDS: 4.68 g fiber

Add a little bubbly to next weekend and test out Tyler's Orange Cream Mimosas....Lean Libation style, of course!



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