Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Curtido is a is a type of cabbage relish that has a nice little kick. I learned about it from a friend from El Salvador who I blame for my addiction to Pupusas. It's similar to sauerkraut, kimchi, or cole slaw and is traditionally served alongside pupusas. While I don't make my own Pupusas very often, I eat curtido all the time... on a lot of things.
It a deliciously healthy way to spicy up a dish.

1 package coleslaw mix (or do it the hard way and shred cabbage and carrot yourself)
1 medium onion sliced thinly
1 c. apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. oregano
sliced pickled Jalapeno to taste (including several teaspoons of the liquid)

There are a lot of recipes for curtido on the internet that tell you to blanch the veggies. If you are looking to serve this the same day then yes, blanch away.
The  Monster Couch
I don't blanch, because my time is better served elsewhere...like Sharpie-proofing my home so that my kid never ever EVER colors on the couch again.

Anyway, the directions I offer you are super simple.
Find a big bowl. Toss all ingredients in it. Stir, cover on the counter for a day or two. Pour into a large jar and refrigerate. A jar usually lasts about 6 months in my fridge and the longer I allow it to soak in it's own wonderful juices, the better it gets.

Add it to eggs, tamales, chili roasted sweet potatoes, fish tacos, roasted chicken.... I could go on and on, but really you can't go wrong. Generally with veggies, one cup of raw is a veggie exchange and 1/2 cup if it's cooked. This Curtido isn't cooked, but it also softens during the soaking process. Because of this, count it as though it is cooked and allow yourself 1/2 cup.

PS: Don't hide your kids. Don't hide your wives. Just hide your markers.

Linking up at Slightly Indulgent Tuesday

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Healthier Chicken, Bacon, Mac and Cheese

I really tried to justify this as a healthy food. At least a few hours of my life was spent on trying to justify it. At the end of the day I can't tell you it is the healthiest food there is on the planet. HOWEVER, it is a healthier version of a comfort food so many of us love, and totally follows the Hypo and Swank rules. This recipe makes about 8 servings, and it's very rich and incredibly cheesey and...well just see for yourself:

Healthier Chicken, Bacon, Mac and Cheese
4 slices turkey bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups Eating Right Whole Wheat Penne Rigate
1 carton fat free cottage cheese
1 leftover chicken boob, sliced and diced
3 ounces shredded low fat cheddar
3 ounces shredded low fat Monterrey jack blend
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1 tsp Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup fat free half and half
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs with Italian seasoning

Cook penne according to directions on box.
Meanwhile start cooking turkey bacon in olive oil until crispy. Do not drain it when it is done, simply remove the pan from the heat.
Using your magic bullet or food processor, blend the cottage cheese until it turns creamy.  In a large bowl combine blended cottage cheese with remaining cheeses and half and half. Add chopped chicken and all but a few pieces of the bacon. Mix together well then add the cooked pasta. Stir to combine. If the mixture seems too dry, add more half and half, a tablespoon at a time. When it is nice and creamy add it to a baking dish.
In the skillet that contains the few remaining pieces of bacon and the olive oil, add the bread crumbs. You want the bread crumbs to soak up the oil and flavor or the bacon. Use this mixture to top the mac and cheese. Bake for 30-40 minutes at 325 or until the top is golden and the inside is gooey.
Serve with some nice steamed veggies.

So why is this recipe on THIS blog? Because it is a healthier version of one of my favorite things.According to Livestrong.com a serving of classic baked macaroni and cheese with 3 cheeses and whole milk contains 34.5g of fat. Read more about that here.

Here's the breakdown of my version:
It makes about 8 cup size servings
  Calories                        352.7
  Total Fat                            8.8 g
    Saturated Fat                   2.5 g
    Polyunsaturated Fat         1.4 g
    Monounsaturated Fat      6.6 g
  Cholesterol                      37.1 mg
  Sodium                          582.3 mg
  Potassium                      102.5 mg
  Total Carbohydrate          45.2 g
          Dietary Fiber             3.6 g
          Sugars                       5.0 g
  Protein                            25.2 g

So looking at this, well it isn't very low-cal. But it is also a very filling portion that is packed with whole grains and a LOT of protein. A hypo portion of this would be cut in half and you're looking at 1.5 carbs,  2 protein and 3/4 of a fat exchange. The fascinating thing to me about the nutrition in this recipe is the fat. At first glance 8.8 grams of fat seems like waaaay too many to be on this blog site. However, of that 8.8 grams only 2.5 of it is from Saturated Fat. That isn't bad considering us on the Swank diet stick to 20-40 grams unsaturated fats and 15 grams or less a day of saturated fat. The classic baked mac and cheese is a big Swank no no.

I'm not sure if we've gone over this before or not, but here's a reminder about the differences between good fats and bad fats from the Mayo clinic. Click here to read the full article.

There are two main types of potentially harmful dietary fat:

  • Saturated fat. This is a type of fat that comes mainly from animal sources of food. Saturated fat raises total blood cholesterol levels and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, which can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Saturated fat may also increase your risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Trans fat. This is a type of fat that occurs naturally in some foods, especially foods from animals. But most trans fats are made during food processing through partial hydrogenation of unsaturated fats. These trans fats are called industrial or synthetic trans fats. Research studies show that synthetic trans fat can increase unhealthy LDL cholesterol and lower healthy high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. This can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Most fats that have a high percentage of saturated fat or trans fat are solid at room temperature. Because of this, they're typically referred to as solid fats. They include beef fat, pork fat, shortening, stick margarine and butter.
The two main types of potentially helpful dietary fat:

  • Monounsaturated fat. This is a type of fat found in a variety of foods and oils. Studies show that eating foods rich in monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. Research also shows that MUFAs may benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, which can be especially helpful if you have type 2 diabetes.
  • Polyunsaturated fat. This is a type of fat found mostly in plant-based foods and oils. Evidence shows that eating foods rich in polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. PUFAs may also help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes. One type of polyunsaturated fat, omega-3 fatty acids, may be especially beneficial to your heart. Omega-3s, found in some types of fatty fish, appear to decrease the risk of coronary artery disease. They may also protect against irregular heartbeats and help lower blood pressure levels.
So, again this isn't the healthiest thing on my blog, but it is one of the most delicious makeovers I've ever done. I'm also calling it a success because of the HUGE reduction in fat. From 34.5 down to 8.8....yeah...I did good. ;)

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Fat Free Jalapeno Poppers

There is something about spicy food that warms me on a cold winter day and luckily it isn't heartburn. These Jalepeno Poppers were both easy and perfectly smoky thanks to the genius use of my leftover Smoked Cream Cheese.
I've actually made this recipe 2 times now. The first time it took about 12 steps. The second time I got it down to 6 steps. I've included my original steps as well as the extra stuff below.
I could ramble on in detail for awhile about how this recipe came to be...but instead I'll leave you with the important lessons:
1) Instructions are important.
2) Never underestimate the power of the pepper, or rapidly boiling water.
3) Apparently the sliced jalapeno peppers at Subway restaurants are milder than most.  (Who knew?)
4) My Smoked Cream Cheese is delicious and versatile and should be made on all cold winter days.

Hypo Jalapeno Poppers
Prepared Smoked Cream Cheese
Whole wheat bread crumbs with Italian Seasoning
Olive Oil Spray

Step #1: PUT ON GLOVES.  I read the warnings before attempting this dish. There were plenty of people that talked about how important it was and how they wish they had done it. Did I listen? NO! Of course not, clearly I am tougher than all the people.
Step #2: Slice off top of pepper, then down the middle. Remove seeds.
Step #3: Add sliced peppers to boiling water for just a few minutes until they begin to soften.
Step #4: Remove peppers and allow to cool on a cooling rack.
Step #5: Stuff cooled peppers with cream cheese. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and lightly spray with olive oil.
Step #6: Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

(skip to step #12 if you followed step #1)
          Step #7: Scrub hands with soap. 
          Step #8: Re-scrub hands after you accidentally touched your lips and you realize your lips are burning.
          Step #9: Scrub face and lips with WASH CLOTH, after previous attempts to
                         wash away the burn failed.
          Step #10: Remove poppers from oven and allow to rest for a moment while you
                        wash your hands and face another time.
          Step #11: Power through the burning hands, face and lips and enjoy with some fat free ranch.
                         Vow to never cook with jalapenos again.
Step #12: Enjoy with some fat free ranch. Remake a second batch for your friends.

Now the best part about this recipe is that each popper is only 20 calories and ZERO grams of fat.  I suppose you could go crazy with the olive oil spray to add fat, but this is about getting the taste and not the calories. About living with dietary restrictions and finding a way to get what you crave without harming your body. Seriously... is there anything better to snack on?


Sharing on This Chick Cooks.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Spicy Sweet Potato Soup

Blogger night turned into a soup buffet, you'd know that if you read my last blog post. If you haven't you should go back and read it... I'll wait.

Welcome back... now on to the goodness: Spicy Sweet Potato soup is kinda like Baked Potato Soup, only with sweet potatoes and it's spicier hence the name. It was voted favorite soup of the evening by Bree from Three and a Half Stones to Go, but I don't think she gave her French Onion Soup or Tomato Basil Soup enough credit. 

If you need something to warm you on the cold January nights, look no further than
Spicy Sweet Potato Soup

4 sweet potatoes (about 2-1/2 pounds), peeled and sliced 1" thick
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 slices turkey bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and shredded
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped, plus 2 teaspoons adobo sauce
3 cups chicken broth
3 Tbs fat free half and half
Zest and juice of 1 orange
Fat Free sour cream, for garnish
Boil sweet potatoes 10-15 minutes until tender. Drain and return to the pot. While that is cooking, cook the turkey bacon in a pan until crisp. Set the bacon aside and add oil to the bacony pan. Cook onion and carrot until onions start to become translucent. Add chopped chipotle pepper, and adobo sauce, and cook 5 more minutes. Stir in the chicken broth, orange zest, orange juice and season with salt and pepper.

Add the this mixture to the sweet potatoes in the pot and cook 5-10 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender. Stir in half and half, heat for a few more moments and serve the soup with the fat free sour cream and chopped turkey bacon on top. I also added some tomato that I had leftover.

In my opinion this is very spicy. The sour cream helps to cut that a little but if you are not a fan of spiciness leave out the chipotle. Also, in the rare event you made both my Bean Free Chili and this Spicy Sweet Potato Soup and you were wondering what to do with the 1/2 cup leftover of each one...you should mix them together. Trust me, it was glorious.

What kinds of soups do you make to warm up on the cold days this month?

Find more delicious things at Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Bean Free Chili with Quinoa

I feel like I should admit something to you...
I hate beans.
This doesn't include green beans. I'm ok with those, but the rest of them are nasty.
I know this isn't what you should hear from someone dedicated to providing you with healthy hypo-friendly recipes, but it's the truth. I don't like the texture, the flavor, the smell, the after effects. I hate them.
Because of this intense hatred, I have never been a big fan of chili. I enjoy chili flavor, but every variety I've ever had was loaded with that grossness. I'm honestly not sure what prompted me to think about Chili when Bree and I started talking about Soup Night for our monthly blogger night but I'm very, very glad I did though. My version starts with ground turkey and ends with quinoa to add that extra oomph of protein beans normally contribute to the classic recipes. I also made a Spicy and Sweet Potato Soup, Bree made an amazing French Onion Soup and also a Tomato Basil Soup. And yes, we will be eating soup for every meal this week. I'm ok with that, because seriously look how delicious this is!

Bean Free Chili with Quinoa
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
2 cups water
1 pound ground turkey
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 green bell pepper, chopped
3 zucchini, chopped
1 tablespoon dried oregano leaves
1 tablespoon dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste
Bring the quinoa and water to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender, and the water has been absorbed, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, brown the turkey and set aside. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in onion, garlic, and jalapeno; cook and stir until the onion is translucent. Add chili powder and cumin; cook 1 minute to release the flavor of the spices. Stir in the tomatoes, green bell pepper, zucchini, oregano, and parsley. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. This made mine very thick so I added about 2 cups of water to thin it out and let that simmer for 5 minutes.
Before serving add the quinoa.

This makes about 10 cup size servings. Each serving is only 186 calories and packs 15 grams of protein!! Plus it only contains 3.3 grams of fat, and of that only .6 is saturated. I could bore you with the rest of the nutritional data like the 4.1 grams of fiber and the 161.8 grams of potassium, but the point is that my version is delicious and healthy and waaaaaay better for you than the classic bean-y versions.

Find more delicious things at Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays.
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