Thursday, January 12, 2012

Drop Weight With These 8…

Have a muffin pan but not a baker? No problem- it’s all you need to make these simple and satisfying meals.

Cooking in a Muffin Pan: Why Have You Done a Good Thing?

Portion size & Convenience

When you cook in a muffin tin, you are cooking either 6 or 12 dishes at once. This means that in swoop, you can have home-cooked meals for the next few days. Eating a “muffin size” worth of food is the perfect portion for breakfast or the main dish of dinner. And even if you add some not-so-healthy ingredients, don’t fret- you are only eating a little bit!

Wake up, pop one in the micro, throw on clothes, and out the door. See how easy it is to not skip breakfast? Or how about this scenario: manage to make it to the gym after work, get home late, starving, pop one out, throw it in the micro, add a salad- healthy, homemade dinner in 2 minutes.

So try these 8 Muffin Pan ideas on your next day off…they will keep you healthy and on-the-go.

  1. Egg Soufflés- Mix Egg Beaters, chopped spinach (frozen, defrosted, and drained or fresh, cooked, and drained) and low-fat cheddar cheese in a bowl. Pour into pre-greased (with Pam) or paper-lined (not tin because they will not do well in the micro) muffin trays. Bake at 350 for about 12 minutes.
  2. Mushroom Tartlets- Spray muffin trays to grease, then add sautéed mushrooms (any kind or a mix), next a dollop of goat cheese, and finally top with a circle shape (made by a glass) piece of dough (can use pre-made just make sure it doesn’t have any trans fat!)
  3. Mini Pizzas- Roll out pre-bought pizza dough (most pizza places with give or at least sell you some- plus some may have whole wheat!) in a big rectangle, then cut into 6 or 12 squares. Spray pan. Place a square in each slot, pressing the middle gently down to the bottom of the pan. Top with diced tomatoes or fresh tomato sauce, your favorite pizza toppings (think mushroom, broccoli, zucchini, onion) and a little bit of mozzarella cheese. Bake at 450 for 10-12 minutes.
  4. Taco Tarts- Perfect for the day after taco night. Spray pan and then push the leftover taco meat onto the bottom and sides of each slot, to form a shell. Then make a mixture of your favorite toppings, including sour cream, taco sauce, any veggies, and some crushed tortilla chips or taco shells, and add a dollop into your meat shell. Top with some low-fat cheese and bake at 350 for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly
  5. Mini Meatloafs- Make your usual turkey meatloaf recipe. Push mixture into greased muffin tins. For some extra flavor, top with a few sautéed onions and tomato sauce and bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes, or until no longer pink in the middle (about 160 F).
  6. Lasagna- Easy as it sounds. Do your normal lasagna, just in a smaller container. Start with a little sauce, then pasta (can cut pre-cooked lasagna noodles or even use pre-cooked raviolis), then the usual ricotta cheese mixture (I do half cheese and half pureed zucchini- it adds a ton of flavor and cuts back on fat and calories), then a bit of fresh mozzarella- and repeat. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350.
  7. Tini Tuna Casseroles. I have to admit- I have never made a tuna casserole, but my friend told me that her family makes this and it comes out great every time. I know there are a lot of recipes for this, so find your favorite and make it into a muffin. Use low-fat cheese and low-fat cream soup, if possible. Top with a few whole wheat bread crumbs and bake until browned.
  8. Mini Apple pies- Cook or microwave sliced green apples, mixed with a touch of brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add mixture to greased and slightly floured muffin trays, top with a little bit of your favorite crumb topping, and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Great as the dessert for your next dinner party or pop out and re-heat for a quick weeknight desert.

Whip out that rusty muffin pan and start cooking! Eating meals at home means less sodium, less fat, less money, less calories, and best of all- less weight! In one hour, you can have proper-portioned meals for the next few days- and be one step closer to keeping that New Years resolution.

--Samantha Jacobs, MS RD CDN

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