Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Camp Dinner

Eating healthy can be hard when you're really busy.  It's very easy to fall off the wagon when you go out to eat, or even eat at home but just don't want to deal with and reach for the easy option; especially after a long day.  But if you can get an easy oven recipe started earlier in the day (when you still have the energy to make good decisions) it can help.  This recipe might not be the lowest in calories, but it is better than a lot of alternatives.

I call this camp chicken because it was one of my mom’s favorite dishes when we were camping. We actually had a motorhome and she would put it in the oven when we headed out for the day and have it ready when we retuned.   It is also a great recipe for a dutch oven.

Serves 3-4
1 whole chicken, cut up into pieces
1 lbs potaotes, any type, quatered
1 to 2 cans of corn (frozen works well too)
Salt and pepper
Aluminum foil

Use aluminum foil to create a cooking vessel.  Lay out two sheets approx. 18” long ontop of each other. Fold edges together to create a double wide size. Place on a cookie pan fold down.

Lay out your cut potaotes in the center
Top with your chicken pieces, season well with salt and pepper
Top with your drained or thawed corn
Fold up foil to create a sealed bag
Bake 300 for 2 hours
Remove from oven
Dinner is served

And kitchen clean up is snap, just recycle the foil and you're done.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Tilapia Tacos

One of my favorite quick and healthy dinners is fish tacos.  Then can be made in 15-20 minutes, and are always a crowd pleaser.  Lots of flavor, plenty to eat, and all good ingredients.

2 tilapia fillets
½ cup corn meal
Salt and pepper
Pam or other non stick spray

1 cup shredded cabbage
1 lime, juiced
4 Tbl chopped Cilantro
1 Tbl agave syrup
4 corn tortilla

After thawing the tilapia (I usually keep some around, they freeze very well), split in half length wise, which makes 2 perfect portions. 

Season with salt and pepper

Spray the tilapia with cooking spray then dredge in corn meal; the spray helps the cornmeal to stick with out adding flour and eggs.  It keeps it quite healthy, but with a lot of flavor.

Heat a saute pan, spray again and then saute, approx. 5-7 minutes  per side on medium heat. 

Combine lime juice and agave to make the dressing dressing.  I love to use Agave Syrup as a sweetener; its flavor is very subtle, it mixes well since it is already a liquid, and it has low glycemic index.  I often use it in dressing, cocktails, and hubby even uses it in his coffee.

Toss the dressing with cabbage and cilantro to make a slaw.

Warm tortillas

Place one fish “stick” per tortilla

Top with Slaw


Calories approx. 300 per taco - not bad - have two for a healthy light dinner, and even add some extra slaw to the plate for more volume.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Mushroom Bisque

This is the bisque we served at Dutcher Crossing Winery for their Winter Wineland event.  We've already had several requests for the recipe.  So....

This bisque goes well with the richer red wines. The cream on the palate and the touch of truffle oil add an earthy full flavor. Look for the truffle oil at gourmet food stores and often at Trader Joes

2 tsp Thyme
4 oz Butter
4 oz Onions
8 oz Crimini Mushrooms
16 Tbs Flour
5 cup Stock – chix, veg or mushroom
2 cup Heavy Cream
3 Tbs White Truffle Oil

Sauté thyme, butter, onions & mushrooms.
Add flour & cook 2 to 3 minutes
Add stock & whisk well
After it starts to thicken, finish with the heavy cream and truffle oil
May be served chunky or pureed


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Miso Glazed Salmon

Miso glazed salmon is one of our favorite diet dinners (well it's a favorite, period).  This can work well with any fish, but I usually go with salmon, although the Miso Glazed Sea Bass at Yank Sing's is to die for.

2 - 6 oz salmon fillets
2 Tbl white miso paste
2 Tbl brown sugar
1 Tbl low sodium soy

Season salmon fillets and sear  till golden brown
Place skin side down in oven proof pan or cookie sheet
Heat over to 300

Combine miso, sugar and soy mixing till it becomes a paste
Spread over the top of each salmon fillet

Bake approx. 12-15 minutes till cooked through
Turn on the broiler
Broil till just golden 2-3 minutes

Serve with sautéed greens.  Pea sprouts are my favorite sauteed with garlic and shitake mushrooms, but any hearty green works well... spinach, chard, kale...

The fish is wonderful and pairs exceptionally well with the greens.  I don't think I have to explain why this is also a healthy choice.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower

While eating light, one of our favorite dinners is steak and veg.  It's simple, and lean meat and lots of vegetables is perfect if we're trying to shed a few pounds.  We eat a lot of broccoli and asparagus;  we try to avoid the traditional baked potatoes or fries, they are great, but not our friend.  Last night I found a great new recipe; easy and remarkably good, it almost makes up for the lack of fries.

First new recipe of the year:
Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower
Serves 2
1 head cauliflower
4 T olive oil
4 T parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper

Break cauliflower up into florets

Toss with olive oil, then parmesan , salt and pepper

Layout in a single layer on a cookie sheet

Bake at 400 for approx. 15-20 minutes till tender

Health aspects
By using a stronger flavored cheese you can use less, and in this instance a little goes a long way.  Roasting is a great way to cook using less oil, and brings out a richer flavor, especially compared to steaming.  Cauliflower is a great filling vegetable with a good texture (remember, vegetables have texture, if they don't, they are over cooked).

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Ham & Beans

We had a beautiful ham for Christmas and nibbled on it through the new year.  I was able to work the ham bone into the healthy eating with a batch of pinto beans.  Add a salad and a piece of cornbread and you've got a heathly, filling and good dinner.

1 cup rinsed pinto beans
1 ham bone, you could also use a ham hock
2  carrots, peeled and dice
4 celery stalks, diced
1 onion, diced
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
4-5 cups vegetable stock

Traditionally you would soak the beans overnight, I however did not have the time.  But not to worry; as you may know soaking swells the beans slowly, which provides for a better presentation, but if don't mind them breaking a little bit, then boiling is just fine.

Place all ingredients in a 3 qt sauce pan
Bring to a boil then simmer over medium heat till tender- approx. 2 hours
Add additional water if necessary
When tender remove ham bone or ham hock and bay leaves
Finish with salt and pepper to taste

Beans are a great addition to the diet.  They are filling and full of minerals and fiber and rich in protein.

If I've got you enthused about beans and you would like a bit more, try these past blogs:

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Healthy Not Boring

Here's my January column from the Petaluma Post.  I usually wait until mid-month to re-publish their articles, but this one is the start of a series this month.  It's that time of year when we try to make up for what we ate over the holidays.  Hubby says he's a spoiled dieter;  I don't like my food to be bland or boring, so he gets a rather gourmet treatment for a diet.  So the theme this month is what makes a good meal and what makes a healthy meal and how they fit together.  There will be lots of recipes, too.  I'll aim at writing 2 or 3 per week to keep your menus fresh for the whole month.  Enjoy...

Pumpkin pie, stuffing, Christmas cookies, if you are anything like me just the thought of foods that are rich and sweet are probably not sounding too appetizing this time of year.  As we head into January everyone has had their fill of treats and goodies, time to get back to basics.  Whether you are hitting the gym or just trying to eat better, here are a few hints from my kitchen.  Healthy cuisine or “diet food” does not have to be boring or bland.

Roasting and Grilling vs. Sautéing
I love butter, there is no question, but when trying to cut back on the fat I often turn to other forms of cooking that don’t require so much fat.  Taking the time to roast meats adds an extra layer of flavor from caramelization that can make up for the loss of butter you would have used sautéing.  This caramelization (despite the name) does not need any added sugar, it just takes advantage of the natural chemistry of the meat to bump up the flavor.  You could also brave the chilly weather and turn on the barbeque, even just searing your meats and veggies on the grill and finishing them in the oven will add that extra flavor.  But no BBQ sauce, yummy, but often with lots of sugar and fat; instead try a dry rub.  Our most popular dry rub at the catering company is:

PSC’s Signature Dry Rub
1 cups Brown Sugar
½ cup Kosher Salt
2 Tbl Paprika
2 Tbl Chili Powder
2 Tbl Black Pepper
2 Tbl Granulated Garlic
2 Tbl Granulated Onion
2 Tbl Italian Seasoning
1 tsp Cayenne

Just mix all the ingredients together.  Stores well in an air tight container.

Change up the vegetables to keep the plate full and bright
It is the middle of January and all of your favorite summer vegetables are not around, but look for something new and bright, they may cost a bit more but your saving money not eating out.  Buy the beautiful red bell pepper, try some purple carrots, use a variety on the plate.  Color adds eye appeal and you know they say that you eat with your eyes first.  Don’t use just one vegetable on your plate, make a couple separate vegetable dishes; perhaps replace a starch with another veg.  Also think about a different cooking method, for instance roasting cauliflower is incredible.

Roast Cauliflower
1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
2 Tbl olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Toss the florets with olive oil, salt and pepper, layout a single layer and roast at 350 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes until golden and tender.  Very good.

Switch to whole grains, avoid the whites
We have been hearing this for years now, and it really is true.  Whole grains take longer to breakdown so you will feel fuller longer, and your blood sugar will be more stable.  They take more time to cook and in our busy world you might not have time to simmer barley for an hour, but I often will cook grains on my day off and just have them on hand in the fridge to reheat during the week.  With the heartier texture they also reheat better than rice or pasta.  If the day has been really hectic you can also just add them to a quick can of soup to make it hearty enough for meal.

Barley Risotto
Barley preparation
Simmer 1 cup of barley in 3 cups of water or stock for approximately 50 minutes, till tender.  This can be done up to 5 days in advance and refrigerated.
Rosemary Barley Risotto with
Thai Grilled Chicken and Broccoli Florets
 2 cups pearly barley (prepared)
2 cloves garlic
1 small onions (diced)
1 Tbl olive oil
1 lb mushrooms (sliced)
2 sprigs thyme
1 cup rich chicken or mushroom stock

Sauté onions, garlic, mushrooms and thyme in olive oil.  Add the barley and stir well.  Then add in the chicken stock ¼ cup at a time and allow to reduce.  Repeat until barley is tender and creamy.  The total cooking time is about 15 minutes.

This column is the beginning of a set of blogs I’ll be posting throughout January for the healthy gourmet.  See my blog two or three times a week this month for fresh ideas. I’m already looking forward to some miso-glazed salmon, and tilapia tacos, and my almost savory instead of sweet black cocoa cookies; all good choices for this time of year.

An apple a day, it’s true. Try adding one in approximately 1 hour before your major meal to help offset eating too much from being overly hungry.  But remember to keep up the creativity; if you are going to eat healthy and want it to last, you need good food and an ever changing variety.