Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The War on Beans is Over

Anyone that knows me knows that I HATE beans. Yes, hate is a strong word and it is a fitting word as well.  The thing was right. "I know you don't like it, but you still need to try it." is what she'd tell me. I get it now, and I'm sorry for all those temper tantrums. 
At our last blogger night we tackled garlic and I was thrilled until I found out she was making bean dip. BLECH. With the words of my mother like an air horn in my head, I tried it and it was AMAZING. I mean it when I say that it was life changing. I see beans in a new light and it is the most delicious light there is.
It's important to continue trying those things you shouldn't hate in different ways. I taught myself to like tomatoes through another friends amazing bruschetta. Allowing the tomato to be overwhelmed by other flavors worked. I still don't eat it plain like my daughter... oooo except for those delicious cherry tomatoes. HAHAHA. Do you hear me? A few years ago I couldn't be paid to eat them.
My point is...continue to try them. Maybe you drown it in garlic until you adapt, at least you are adapting.

So without further ado please say hello to my friend, guest blogger and the lady who put an end to my War on Beans, Bree from Three and a Half Stones to Go.

Hello Everyone! I'm very excited to be blogging here today. Melissa has been an inspiration to me and has inspired me to eat healthier. Even though I don't have MS, I've even been following the Swank Diet myself and I can tell you that so far I feel amazing. I feel like my body is running better than it has in a long time. Because of this I am sharing one of my favorite swank friendly recipes. This bean dip is so creamy and rich tasting that you'd never believe it was low fat!

I have to give you one teensy little warning: Raw garlic is potent! Add at your own risk! Since I have Melissa completely obsessed with The Vampire Diaries (100% Team Damon over here), we decided to make our recipes garlic infused this time around. You can use the base of this recipe to create your own dip (like the southwest version I made for my blog), but here is the garlic version:

Creamy Garlic Bean Dip
  • 16oz Fat Free Sour Cream (make sure you get a sour cream that contains a binding agent or it separates)
  • 2 15oz cans of white beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 4-5 green onions (sliced)
  • 1 head of roasted garlic
  • ½ – 3 cloves of raw garlic (½ clove is enough to bring out that bright garlic flavor, 3 if you want tons of flavor and to ostracize yourself from civilization for a week)
  • ¼ cup low fat mozzarella
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix all the ingredients together, except for the mozzarella, saving a few green onions for garnish. I used an immersion blender to make it even creamier. Pour the mixture into a baking dish and cover with the mozzarella. Bake for 15-20 minutes until it is warmed through and the cheese has melted.

Use your favorite low fat chip or vegetables to dip and enjoy! And remember when the garlic overwhelms you how many great anti-oxidants are in there.

Thanks Bree! This amazing dip is the perfect stepping stone to incorporating beans into more of my recipes. I've been dreaming of using this as a pizza sauce since the second bite.  Be sure to stop by her site and show her some blogger love. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Roasted Garlic Veggie Spread

Have you ever had a TV show that you refused to watch
because it sounded like the stupidest thing you've ever heard?
Seriously! It even looks lame,
I can't believe I am hooked on this.

I had one of those.
It was The Vampire Diaries. (Sounds lame doesn't it?)
Then one day someone tied me down and forced me to watch it. (Yes, that's my story. I was LITERALLY tied down.) Now I am hooked. After that it didn't take much for her to coerce me into a marathon night. My sickening desire to be productive turned it into a blogger night...a GARLIC themed blogger night. You see, according to this vampire tale, vampires have absolutely no problem with garlic and THAT is a cause for celebration.

Before I became obsessed with this show I'd been craving a veggie spread. I wanted something easy to prepare that could be served hot or cold at barbeques this summer. Often I find that there are plenty of carbs and proteins at parties, but rarely veggies other than a last minute veggie tray that no one really touches. Has anyone had their entire veggie tray finished at a party, ever?! It should happen, but we all revert to teenagers when faced with a buffet and go directly towards the "good stuff". Not this summer. This summer I am fighting back with delicious veggies and I'm starting with this Roasted Garlic Veggie Spread.

This could be perfect for tea parties (yes we still have those) or even a nice picnic. It's delicious served on toasted whole grain bread with cream cheese. We even made grilled cheese and veggie sandwiches with the leftovers which I HIGHLY recommend.
Also, and I say this with the seriousness of a thousand ninjas, you NEED to try my blogger buddies bean dip recipe. If you've been following my blog, you know that I hate beans, and this magical thing she created is quickly converting me. More on that later... for now here is my contribution to society.

Roasted Garlic and Veggie Spread
1 garlic bulb
1/4 green bell pepper
1/4 red bell pepper
1/4 yellow onion
2 tomatoes
2 cups chopped broccoli
Salt and pepper to taste
Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees. Take your garlic bulb and peel the loose skins away. Chop between 1/4-1/2" off the top. You want to expose the tops of all the cloves and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Normally I would tell you that you want the garlic to cook for about 30 minutes or until golden and soft. Instead I wanna show you what it should look like when it is done....ready for this?

I think I need to frame that picture for my kitchen.
Allow the garlic to cool while you roast the other veggies. Before going into the oven these should all be chopped into somewhat equal sizes. Spray them lightly with your handy dandy olive oil spritzer, season with salt and pepper and mix to insure all the vegetables are coated nicely before placing them in the oven. They'll need about 30-40 minutes.
After they are done, add the veggies to your food processor along with the garlic. (The awesome part about roasted garlic is how easily it slides out of the skins.) Pulse until you achieve your desired texture and serve. 

Also, don't be afraid to try other vegetable combinations. This is what I happened to have on hand.
If this was featured on a buffet table, I know I'd grab it. How about you? What are you bringing to make your next feast a little healthier?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Garlic Mashed Broccoflower

If I ever had to describe the series "Vegetable Mind Games" to someone I think a picture of  Broccoflower might sum it up nicely. As a rational adult I know it is nothing to be afraid of, that I should give it a try, but the tiny toddler voice in my head doesn't wanna. Broccoflower is definitely a member of Vegetable Mind Games.

Despite the fear I was really excited to cook this up like mashed cauliflower and serve it along side my Hypo Swedish Meatballs. (I had noodles to serve as backup in case of an epic fail.)

I didn't need the noodles though. Monkey had her first experience with the food processor and was licking the spatula with pride at what she had made. Yes, you read that right. My 4 year old helped with the food processor and also licked the broccoflower off the spatula. As her mother I couldn't help but mimic that pride ...and also lick the spatula. 
Give this combo a try, the flavor when the broccoflower combines with the Hypo Swedish Meatball sauce is delicious.

Garlic Mashed Broccoflower
1 large broccoflower bunch
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup fat free sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
Steam the brocoflower about 15 minutes or until tender. Drain. Saute the garlic in olive oil for a few minutes to coo it through. Combine everything in the food processor and pulse till you obtain your preferred consistency. Salt and pepper to taste.

If you aren't able to find brocoflower near you,
try this recipe with 50% broccoli and 50% cauliflower.

This would also be delicious with roasted veggies instead of steaming them.
Shared on: Show Me What You Got Tuesdays, Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays, Thriving on Thursdays, Thursday Favorite Things

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Hypo Swedish Meatballs

This post should really be called Cheater Cheater Meatball Eater. Let me tell you why...
I currently work full time, I also run a one parent household and operate a design business on the side. When I'm not doing all that I volunteer for Bountiful Baskets, my daughter's school and blog about what I manage to make that supports my restricted diet.  I'm just a teeny bit busy.  I always strive to stay away from processed goods, but sometimes the semi-homemade route is necessary with my schedule.
Processed meat is one thing I don't like to eat but I appreciate it for the time it saves me. It's kinda like the dentist, I don't like to go there, but I appreciate things like having a clean mouth free of disease.
I'm sure most people wouldn't compare these Turkey Meatballs to a trip to the dentist...but I'm not most people. For this recipe you can use store bought meatballs or you can make your own.

Healthy Swedish Meatballs
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 cups reduced-sodium fat-free chicken broth
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tbsps dried parsley
2 teaspoons Worcestershire 
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 tbsp sugar-free seedless lingonberry jam (I couldn't find it so I used strawberry)
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and onion to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through.In a separate bowl, whisk broth and flour and add to the pan along with the meatballs and seasonings including the Worcestershire. Bring to a simmer and cook until the meatballs are heated through and the sauce is thickened. Remove from the heat. Add sour cream, jam, and salt and pepper to taste stir until combined.

Now on to the nitty gritty. In general a serving of Swedish Meatballs will cost about 400 calories. Obviously this varies from dish to dish, but the consistent part is the high levels of saturated fat. You all know I am more concerned with saturated fat than I am with calories, after all calories equal energy and as long as you are burning what you eat... well whatever. Anyway, my version adds way more mushrooms than most because I like 'em. Oh, and they are good for you, so eat 'em.  This dish is also waaaay too high in sodium to be eaten on a regular basis. You can (and should) swap out the meatballs I used with some of your own or some low sodium turkey ones (if that exists). Making them yourself will cut the sodium easily in half and get you back on track.
Here are the results of this recipe using the standard meat size portions for dinner. (For me that was 2 and a half meatballs.)

Calories 280.4Total Fat 10.4 g, Saturated Fat 3.1 g, Polyunsaturated Fat 1.0 g,  Monounsaturated Fat 4.0 g, Cholesterol 40.3 mg, Sodium 1,270.2 mgPotassium 372.9 mg , Total Carbohydrate 28.8 g, Dietary Fiber 5.1 g, Sugars 9.5 g, Protein 19.4 g

So, on final review. THESE ARE SO GOOD!!! These are great for those on the Swank Diet as well as those with diabetes or hypoglycemia. Those of us with hypoglycemia need to pair it with a carb like noodles or my Mashed Broccoflower. Also, please watch your sodium intake. Your average daily intake of sodium should be no more than 2,300 and unfortunately you can't just flush it out with extra water. Your kidneys can only filter out a little at a time so keep your intake low with the remaining foods you consume.
So, silly question... I grew up with the meatballs and mashed potatoes, but I saw a lot of recipes during my research that served these with noodles. What is the proper way, or what do you like Swedish Meatballs served with?
Shared on: Thriving on Thursdays,Thursday Favorite Things

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cheesy Spinach Stuffed Squash

I briefly thought about not posting this recipe. Not because it wasn't delicious (it was), but because I am very, very late with this post. To make it even worse, it was for Spinach Blogger Night, and my blogger buddy over at Three and a Half Stones to Go was a show-off who got hers up within days of the event. See that salad in the picture below...that's her amazing Spinach Salad with Sweet & Sour Curry Dressing.
Not that I'm competitive or anything, but I like to have mine up first. Ok, fine. I'm competitive with all the wrong things, like who can have the most paper clips sorted by size and style, or who can get to the house first carrying the most things, or who knows the most random song lyrics. It's stupid and my first step in recovering is to tell you that you HAVE to try her salad dressing. (Yo, I'll tell you what I want, what I really really want.)

I'll admit that when she told me she was making a sweet and sour curry dressing I was less than thrilled. (It's the name hun, it's not you.) I'm here to tell you today that Sweet & Sour Curry Dressing is my new love. Ironically the name that I found to be such a turnoff is really an accurate and delicious assessment. I used it to marinate some shrimp that I grilled and WOW. It was amazing.
Anyway... try it. Try it. Try it. Now on to my ├╝ber late blog post. This recipe is a super easy and elegant meal option. The cheeses here count as your protein making it a great Meatless Monday option.

Cheesy Spinach Stuffed Squash
5 small yellow squash
1 tbsp olive oil
Basil paste
2 tbsp fat free cream cheese
1 cup fat free cottage cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp garlic, minced
2 cups fresh spinach
Slice your yellow squash in half from tip to tip. The next step is to remove the seeds. I used my medium sized Pampered Chef scoop and it worked well most of the time. Now the good news here is that if you slaughter the slicing and scooping process on a few of these guys, just slice them up and top them with sauce and a little bit of basil. The results are equally delicious.
In a frying pan, saute spinach with garlic and olive oil until it has wilted completely. Press with a fork to remove liquid. Add the cream cheese, cottage cheese, spinach, Parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste.

Place a dot of basil paste in the bottom of each squash. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until fork tender.

So I'm sure you are wondering how many calories something like this will set you back. It's not much actually. This recipe makes 10 servings and each serving is only 67 calories. This counts as a veggie and a protein. Eat two halves if you are going for a meatless dinner and pair it with an extra veggie. Eat one half if you are looking for lunch and fill it in with a carb. You could also be awesome and it it along side the amazing spinach salad pictured above. There are pictures of me licking the plate for a reason. It is an excellent combo.  

I talk a lot about basil paste and I really love the convenience. One day I will have an herb garden I'm able to maintain, that day is not today. Basil paste can be purchased at the store in a tube or jar or you can make your own by combining 4 cups of fresh basil in a food processor with 1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Keep it in the fridge and you can add that fresh basil taste anytime.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Toasted Coconut Waffles with Fruit Salsa

I have an obsession with waffles. It's probably not healthy and I should probably talk to my therapist about it. Or maybe I could just talk to my friends about it over breakfast...

I had some leftover Fruit Salsa that needed to be used so I found a PERFECT match in this Toasted Coconut Waffle. It's quick to throw together and the un-eaten waffles freeze well and re-heat nicely in the toaster.
Toasted Coconut Waffles with Fruit Salsa

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 stevia packets (or other sugar substitute)
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup fat free milk
1 cup water
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp coconut extract
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flake

In a skillet, toast the coconut flake over medium heat until brown. Don't add anything to that mixture, and DON'T WALK AWAY FROM IT. (I believe my stove and oven conspire against me. As soon as I turn my back on this type of thing there is burning. Moral of the story - don't turn your back.) After the coconut is toasted remove it from the pan and allow it to cool in the freezer for a minute or two while you mix dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another. Then slowly add the wet ingredients into the dry ones and mix lightly.  Once everything is combined. Add in half of the cooled toasted coconut. Make sure to spray your waffle iron lightly with olive oil. Cook until toasty and delicious and top with Fruit Salsa and a bit of toasted coconut.

I've done a lot of waffle variations and I never get tired of them. Any suggestions for flavors you'd like to see?
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