Zesty Broiled Marinated Chicken

Ingredients

  • ½ cup Cilantro, chopped
  • ¼ cup Spearmint
  • 1 tsp Ground Cumin
  • ½ tsp Cayenne Pepper (optional)
  • 1 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1 TBS Lime Juice
  • 1 tsp Olive Oil
  • ¼ tsp Salt
  • 1/8 tsp Black Pepper
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 lb (4 4-ounce portions) Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 4 Slices Lemon
  • Fresh Cilantro Sprigs

Recipe

  • Combine cilantro, mint, cumin, cayenne pepper, chili powder, lime juice, olive oil, salt, black pepper and garlic in a food processor fit with a metal S blade.  Pulsate until the ingredients are finely chopped and combined.
  • Place chicken in medium bowl with the marinade, cover with plastic and let stand in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, turning to rotate the chicken once.
  • Coat the broiler pan with cooking spray.  Place chicken breasts on the broiler pan, discarding the remaining marinade, and broil for 8 minutes per side, until the thickest section of the breasts are done.
  • Garnish with lemon and cilantro sprigs.

Yields 4 Servings

 

Furtado, Margaret M., and Lynette Schultz.  “Healthy Living Cookbooks: Recipes for Life After Weight-Loss Surgery”.  Beverly: Fair Winds Press, 2006.
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“It’s My Birthday!”

Last Sunday marked my 27th birthday.  That’s right!  For the past 27 years this world has been graced with my precious presence walking its plush green grasses and cracked, rigid pavements… I’ll let you take a moment to marinate in the essence that is me.

Now that we’ve gotten my self-absorbed glory moment out of the way, allow me to share with you how I decided to commemorate this non-historical year.  Of course, as a former fatty, the first thing I want to do to celebrate ANY occasion is EAT!  I love food!  I love the way food makes me feel!  I love its warmth and its comfort and I love how happy I am when I eat a meal that pleases me!  With that being said, the first thing that came to mind was my favorite soul food joint here in Chicago, MacArthur’s.  Every time I go there, I get the smothered pork chops, a double side of mac & cheese, a corn muffin and an Arizona sweet tea; sometimes, if I really want to spoil myself, I’ll get either a banana pudding or a peach cobbler for dessert, too.  However, being that I had just started trying to get back on track with my healthy eating, I decided that Mac’s would just have to wait until something more important to celebrate came around… Or until the next time I was in the area alone with no witnesses!

While at work one day, I began to browse the handful of cookbooks that my girlfriend and I share with each other, as she is constantly conjuring up healthy meals, herself, and she hit me with it: “Have you tried Rococo’s smothered chops yet?”  (‘Rococo’ is the loving name we use to refer to Rocco DiSpirito, whose cookbooks we absolutely love!)  What a brilliant idea Danielle had had!  I could make a healthy meal for my boyfriend and I, while still feeling “bad” for eating something I can never get enough of.

Upon further review of the Smothered Pork Chops w/ Apples & Cheddar Cheese recipe that he offers in his “Now Eat This!” cookbook, I deiced that making this recipe for my birthday would be the only way I’d ever make it, as I would be liable to dirty every dish and appliance in my kitchen in the process.  Ok, so that is a little overboard but, during the week, I like to make a meal that uses the least amount of cookware possible; who really has the time or energy to tear up a kitchen, creating masterpieces, after a long shift at work?  But I digress… I then had to ponder what delicious side would accompany my protein and, while skimming through one of Weight Watcher’s cookbooks, I came up with Sweet Potato Casserole.  I had just hit the mother-load; talk about traditional comfort food without the suffering waistline!

I was so excited to cook all kinds of new recipes so, when I woke up early Sunday morning, I washed any dish that was still sitting by the sink from the day before, scrubbed my entire kitchen from top to bottom and proceeded to prepare my lunches for the week (Jerk Turkey Soup & Black Bean Salad).  I then ran around the house exclaiming “It’s My Birthday!” to my boyfriend until he obliged to take me to my favorite breakfast spot, Blue Max Coffee, for a plate of fresh food and a delicious latte to go.  Once home again, I spent the next 4 hours trying to find something to do before I could reenter my kitchen to prepare my highly anticipated meal.

Once in progress, I was certain that I was going to love both dishes but, the true test would be feeding them to two men who weren’t real crazy about the idea of a healthy meal.  Drew, being more acquainted with my “remakes”, wouldn’t be as tricky as his younger brother who is much more accustomed to high fat, high calorie, delicious, flavorful, good old fashioned home cooked soul food.  When I originally asked him if he wished to share a plate with us, he politely declined but, after smelling the aromas that wafted into the living room from the kitchen, he quickly changed his mind.  “Good Sign!”, I thought to myself.  After 2.5 hours of measuring, chopping, layering, baking, marinating, sauteing, pureeing and plating, the results were in.

*** DRUM ROLL PLEASE ***

“WUNDERBAR!”  My boyfriend ate his plate in silence, making sure that every drop of gravy was used on every bite of pork, and his brother went back for seconds on the sweet potato casserole, claiming it “kinda tastes like apple pie”.  The only disappointment in the entire house was that there wasn’t more to go around!

In typical fat-girl fashion, I concluded my birthday with a full fat but thin half-slice of Oreo cheesecake that Drew had made for me, by special request; hey, it can’t all be healthy, right?

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Smothered Pork Chops w/ Apples and Cheddar Cheese

Ingredients

  • Nonstick Cooking Spray
  • 1 large Red Onion, cut into ½-inch thick slices
  • 3 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 6 wedges each
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup Low-Fat, Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
  • Four 4 oz portions Lean Pork Loin (1-1/2” thick), trimmed of all visible fat
  • 2 TBS Dijon Mustard (coarse-grain style)
  • 2 TBS Chopped Fresh Tarragon
  • ½ cup Shredded 50% Reduced-Fat Cheddar Cheese, such as Cabot

Recipe

  • Preheat the oven to 450° F.  Spray a large, foil-lined baking sheet with cooking spray.
  • Separate the onion rings.  Lay the onion rings and apples in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.  Spray lightly with cooking spray and season with the salt and pepper, to taste.  Roast the apples and onions until the apples are tender and beginning to brown, about 20 minutes.
  • Turn the broiler on high.  Broil the apples and onions until they are slightly charred, about 3 minutes.
  • Put about ¾ cup of the apple-onion mixture into the blender and add the chicken broth.  Puree until the mixture is smooth.  (Set the remaining apples and onions aside.)
  • Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat.  Season the pork with salt and pepper to taste.  When the pan is hot, spray it with cooking spray and add the pork.  Sauté until the pork is golden brown and just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.  Transfer the pork to a serving platter and tent it with foil to keep it warm.
  • Reduce the heat under the skillet to low and add the pureed apple mixture.  Whisk in the mustard.  Add the remaining roasted apples and onions and the tarragon to the skillet.  Remove from heat; stir t evenly coast the apples and onions with the sauce.
  • Spoon the apple mixture over the pork chops; sprinkle with the cheese.  Serve.

Yields 4 servings

Helpful Hints

  • To really get that brown, flavorful crust, try using 1 TBS extra virgin olive oil when sautéing the pork chops.
  • Instead of using a blender, I used a small 3 cup food processor to puree the gravy.  Same result; less clean up!
  • I like A LOT of gravy on my meat so, instead of leaving pieces and stirring them into the gravy as the recipe indicated, I doubled the chicken broth and added all the apple and onion pieces to the food processor to yield more gravy.
  • For added zest & spice, I threw in one extra tablespoon of Dijon mustard since I had doubled the gravy content.
DiSpirito, Rocco.  “Now Eat This!”. New York: Ballantine Books, 2010.
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Sweet Potato Casserole

Ingredients

  • 2 Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored & thinly sliced
  • 1 lb Sweet Potatoes, peeled & thinly sliced
  • 1 TBS Fresh Ginger, grated
  • 12 tsp Salt
  • ¼ cup Frozen Apple Juice Concentrate, thawed
  • ¼ cup Water
  • 2 TBS Dark Brown Sugar
  • 2 tsp Lemon Juice
  • ¼ tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp Ground Cloves
  • 1 TBS Butter

Recipe

  • Preheat the oven to 375° F.  Spray 8-inch square baking dish with nonstick spray.
  • Place half of apples in prepared baking dish; top with half of sweet potatoes and sprinkle with 1 ½ tsp of ginger and ¼ tsp salt.  Repeat layers once.
  • Mix together apple juice concentrate, water, brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, and cloves in a small bowl; pour over potatoes.  Cover with foil.  Bake 45 minutes; dot with butter.  Bake, covered, until apples and potatoes are tender and apple juice mixture is lightly browned, about 15 minutes.

Yields 6 servings

Weight Watchers. Weight Watchers® New Complete Cookbook – 4th ed.  Deborah Mintcheff. Hoboken: Wiley Publishing, Inc, 2011.
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Fettuccine Alfredo

Ingredients

  • 8 oz Whole Wheat Fettuccine
  • 1 TBS Butter
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp Cornstarch
  • Pinch of Ground Nutmeg
  • ¾ cup Low-Fat, Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
  • ¾ cup Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
  • ¾ cup 5% Greek Yogurt
  • Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Recipe

  • Prepare the
  • Melt the butter in a large nonstick sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the garlic and cook until it is fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, combine the cornstarch and the nutmeg in a small bowl.  Whisk in the chicken broth until smooth.  Pour the mixture into the sauté pan, raise the heat, and bring the sauce to a simmer, whisking occasionally.  Whisk in ½ cup of the cheese until it has melted.  Remove the sauté pan from the heat and whisk in the yogurt until the sauce is smooth.
  • In a large bowl, toss the cooked fettuccine with the Alfredo sauce.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, if desired.  Top the pasta with the remaining ¼ cup cheese and serve.

Yields 4 servings

Helpful Hints

  • Instead of garnishing the dishes with the remaining cheese, whisk it in with the original ½ cup. It will offer a thicker, richer Alfredo sauce.
  • Use a low-carb pasta like Carbanada, made by Al Dente, to lower the impct to your waistline.
  • Skip the pasta altogether and replace it with a faux vegetable-based “noodle”; I like to use zucchini!
  • Grilled chicken breast makes a great protein add-on.
  • For color and/or flavor, add vegetables like mushrooms or roasted red peppers (packed in water).
DiSpirito, Rocco.  “Now Eat This!”. New York: Ballantine Books, 2010.
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Roasted Asparagus and Red Peppers

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Asparagus, trimmed
  • 1 Large Red Bell Pepper, cut into thick strips
  • 1 TBS Lemon Juice
  • 2 tsp Olive Oil
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • ¼ tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  •  Tsp Grated Lemon Zest

Recipe

  • Preheat oven to 400˚ F.  Spray a nonstick baking sheet with nonstick spray.
  • Put asparagus and bell pepper in large bowl.  Add lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper flakes; toss to coat evenly.
  • Spread vegetables in single layer on prepared baking sheet.  Roast, shaking pan occasionally, until tender, about 15 minutes.
  • Transfer vegetables to serving bowl; sprinkle with lemon zest.

Yields 4 servings

 

Weight Watchers. Weight Watchers® New Complete Cookbook – 4th ed.  Deborah Mintcheff. Hoboken: Wiley Publishing, Inc, 2011.
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Baked Garlic Parmesan Chicken

Ingredients

  • 2 TBS Olive Oil
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • 1 cup Dry Bread Crumbs
  • 2/3 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 tsp Dried Basil Leaves
  • ¼ tsp Black Pepper
  • 6 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast Halves

Recipe

  • Preheat oven to 350˚ F.  Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.
  • In a bowl, blend the olive oil and garlic.  In a separate bowl, mix the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, basil and pepper.  Dip each chicken breast in the oil mixture, then in the bread crumb mixture.  Arrange the coated chicken breasts in the prepared baking dish and top with any remaining bread crumb mixture.
  • Bake 30 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear.

Yields 6 servings

Baked Garlic Chicken Parmesan.” Recipe. Allrecipes.com. 2004. < http://allrecipes.com/recipe/baked-garlic-parmesan-chicken/detail.aspx?event8=1&prop24=SR_Title&e11=baked%20garlic%20chicken%20parmesan&e8=Quick%20Search&event10=1&e7=Home%20Page>
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Jerk Turkey Slow Cooker Soup

Ingredients

  • ¼ tsp Allspice
  • ¼ tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • ½ tsp Ground Ginger
  • ½ tsp Garlic Salt
  • ½ tsp Black Pepper, divided
  • 1 lb Boneless, SkinlessTurkeyBreast
  • 1 Garlic Clove, minced
  • 1 Medium Onion, chopped
  • 14 ½ oz Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes w/ Green Chilies, undrained
  • 15 oz can Black Beans, drained & rinsed
  • 2 cups Chicken Broth
  • ½ tsp Table Salt
  • 1 TBS Lime Juice
  • 2 TBS Fresh Cilantro, chopped

Recipe

  • Combine allspice, cayenne, gineger, garlic salt and ¼ tsp black pepper in a medium bowl; rub the turkey breasts and set aside for 15 minutes.
  • Place turkey in a 5-qt slow cooker; add any spices remaining in bowl.  Add garlic, onion, tomatoes, beans, broth, salt and remaining ¼ tsp black pepper; stir.
  • Cover and cook on LOW for 6-7 hours.
  • Stir in lime juice and cilantro; let sit for 5 minutes for flavors to blend.

Yields 6 servings

 

Jerk Turkey Slow Cooker Soup.” Recipe. Weightwatchers.com. 2006.  <http://www.food.com/recipe/jerk-turkey-slow-cooker-soup-from-weight-watchers-158611&gt;.
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Southwestern Black Bean Salad

Ingredients

  • 15 oz can Black Beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1 Red Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup Roasted Red Pepper, chopped
  • ½ cup Frozen Corn Kernels, thawed
  • ½ cup Fresh Cilantro, chopped
  • 4 Scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 Jalapeno, seeded & minced
  • 4 tsp Lime Juice
  • 4 tsp Olive Oil
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Pinch Black Pepper

Recipe

  • Toss together all ingredients in serving bowl until mixed well.  Serve at once or cover and refrigerate up to 2 days.

Yields 4 servings

Weight Watchers. Weight Watchers® New Complete Cookbook – 4th ed.  Deborah Mintcheff. Hoboken: Wiley Publishing, Inc, 2011.
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Lemony Green Beans with Parsley

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp Olive Oil
  • 1 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 2 TBS water
  • 1 TBS lemon juice
  • 2 TBS chopped fresh parsley

Recipe

  • Heat oil in large non-stick skillet, over medium heat.  Add green beans and cook, stirring, until bright green, about 3 minutes.
  • Stir in water and lemon juice.  Reduce heat and cook, covered, 2 minutes.
  • Uncover and cook, stirring, until beans are crisp-tender, about 2 minutes longer.
  • Sprinkle with parsley; serve.

Yields 4 servings

Weight Watchers. Weight Watchers® New Complete Cookbook – 4th ed.  Deborah Mintcheff.Hoboken: Wiley Publishing, Inc, 2011.
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