Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Time for a Round-up: Best Slow Cooker Recipes

There is nothing better after a freezing cold, long day of work to come home to a warm, home-cooked meal. Unfortunately, the best of these dishes take time to stew and simmer for best flavors. Your Secret Ingredient (or in this case tool)? A slow-cooker…

Why have you done a good thing?
There is nothing that warms your soul like comfort food. Contrary to popular belief, not all warm and hearty dishes are unhealthy. Comfort food made in a slow-cooker are generally made in low-fat stewing sauces with lots of vegetables and lean meats that get soft and delicious over many hours of cooking. Cooking dinner in your slow-cooker is also a great time saver during the week, leaving you more room to relax, spend time with your family, and maybe even get a workout in! You can leave your slow-cooker plugged all day when you are at work and come home to dinner ready-to-eat. Cook extra large amounts and freeze portions for homemade frozen dinners. Even leave your slow cooker plugged in overnight for a hearty bowl of oatmeal in the morning. The possibilities are endless, super convenient, and healthy!

So here is a round-up of the 10 healthy slow-cooker recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner (and even special treat dessert):

Click on each recipe idea for a link to the recipe.

1) Soy Ginger Chicken
2) Pot Roast
3) For a Mediterranean Twist, Moroccan Chicken Stew
4) Have a warm hearty breakfast when you wake up in the morning with
a pot of steelcut oatmeal on a slow cook.
5) Eggplant and Chickpea Stew
6) Vegetarian Lasagna
7) Chicken cacciatore
Squash Chickpea Red Lentil Stew
9) Mixed Berry Crumble
10) Your Secret Ingredient Turkey Chili

1 lb 99% lean ground turkey
1 large onion, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small package of baby bella mushrooms, chopped
½ lbs green beans, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped
1 can of black beans
28 oz chopped no salt added tomatoes
¼ tsp cumin (or to taste)
¼ tsp chili powder (or to taste)
¼ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp salt
2 dried bay leaves

In a large saucepan, cook the ground turkey and onion until cooked through and slightly browned. Add cooked turkey, chopped vegetables, tomato sauce, beans, and seasonings into the slow-cooker and simmer on low heat for 4-6 hours.

Check out these tips for great slow-cooking from the Food Network, Cooking Light, and iVillage

So bundle up and relax knowing you are coming home to a warm and hearty, yet healthy, meal tonight!

--Amy Santo, MS RD CDN

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

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Making that New Year's resolution stick...

January is always my busiest month of the year. I always get a whole new crop of patients who have resolved to lose weight in the new year. Feeling guilty about too many glasses of eggnog, excessive holiday parties, and one too many baked goods, everyone stresses about getting off those extra pounds. However once February rolls around, what happens? Dieting becomes too hard, too restrictive, and unrealistic and you are back where you started. Here's my best advice: resolve to make a healthy lifestyle a priority...and here's how to do just that...

Why have you done a good thing?

Diets don't work. Plain and simple. The cookie diet, Atkins, cleanses, whatever you are into, diets are not the solution. Sure you may lose the 10 lbs you were looking for, but do you keep it off? Or are you back resolving to lose weight again watching the ball drop? Making small, permanent healthy lifestyle changes and goals do work. Nothing fancy does the trick just fine with all of my patients. The reason? Saving yourself just 100 calories per day is proven to create a 10 lbs weight loss in 1 year. When you cut down on 200 calories per day, you can lose 20 lbs in a year, and so on and so on. So this year, rather than getting yourself on a fancy diet plan, try making small attainable goals that are easy and try doing it every day for a whole month. Once that change becomes easy, try to add another one. Need some ideas?

Here are 100 ways to save you at least 100 calories a day and therefore 10 lbs this year:

1)Have an open faced sandwich at lunch instead of 2 slices of bread.

2)Switch to skim or 1% milk instead of 2% or whole

3)Use hundred calorie packs for snacks instead of eating out the bag (try 100 calorie nut packs by Blue Diamond and Emerald!)

4)Use a measuring cup for your cereal instead of pouring directly into the bowl

5)Replace your morning muffin or bagel with an English muffin,Thomas's Bagel Thin or Vita-muffin top

6)Use a measuring spoon in your cooking with oil instead of pouring directly into the pan

7)Add half a plate full of vegetables at dinner instead of a quarter

8)Eat an orange instead of drinking orange juice in the morning

9)Substitute cottage cheese for full fat ricotta cheese

10)Switch to 2% milk in your coffee instead of whole milk, cream or half and half

11) Have a side of black beans instead of refried beans

12)Have 1 sugar in your coffee instead of 2

13)Have only 1 slice of cheese per day. Choose proportioned cheeses like pre-sliced cheeses or string cheese

14)Have 1-2 slices of thin crust pizza instead of thick or Sicilian style

15)Choose only 1 starch (bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, etc) at dinner and keep starches to ½-1 cup serving

16)Switch to using mustard instead of mayo on your sandwich

17)Mix your mashed potatoes with half pureed cauliflower

18)Use ground turkey or chicken whenever you use ground beef sometimes

19)Have 2 meatballs on your spaghetti instead of 4

20)Use measuring cups when portioning out your foods (snack foods, rice, pasta, etc)

21)Swap out your nightly ice cream for sorbet or low calorie pop like a Fudgesicle or Skinny Cow pop

22)Share desserts in restaurants and have just a couple of bites

23)Try baked chips or pretzels instead of regular chips

24)Skip the cheese on your sandwich and add sliced vegetables instead.

25)Mix it up and have fish tacos instead of beef

26)Use smaller juice glasses at home

27)Drink wine out of a champagne flute instead of a wine goblet

28)Have a second serving of vegetables and only 1 serving of everything else at dinner

29)Buy leaner cuts of beef like flank steak instead of skirt steak

30)Bake with applesauce, not butter or oil. ½ cup butter = ½ cup applesauce

31)Substitute plain Greek yogurt whenever you use sour cream

32)Grab a piece of fresh fruit instead of dried

33)Have 4 Hershey kisses or snack sized candy bars instead of a whole candy bar when you have a chocolate craving

34)Eat dessert out of a shot glass, not a bowl

35)Water down your juice to 50% water, 50% juice

36)Switch to lite cheese instead of full fat cheeses

37)If you have candy in your office, move it to the other side of the room and put it in a dark container (not glass or in an open bowl).

38)Substitute fruit for your potatoes at breakfast

39)Have a snack on the way home from work. This will help you to eat less at dinner.

40)Order wine instead of a fruity mixed drink at the bar

41)Steam or grill your veggies instead of sauté on the stove top

42)Make pasta dishes with tomato sauces instead of cream or oil

43)Have a piece of fruit with breakfast instead of raisins in your cereals

44)Reduce your meat at dinner to the size of the palm of your hand.

45)Dip your fish in lemon juice not butter sauce

46)Scoop out your Sunday morning bagel or split it with someone

47)Leave bowls of fruit around the house instead of nuts or candy

48)Switch to seltzer or sparkling water instead of your soda

49)Bring your own 100 calorie pack of popcorn to the movie theater instead of eating the theater’s popcorn

50)Order veggie pizza instead of meat

51)Pick tuna packed in water not oil

52)Use 95% ground beef in cooking instead of 85%

53)Have only 1 tbsp of peanut butter at a time

54)Order half or appetizer portions of pasta

55)Order a regular cup of coffee or skim lattes and cappuccinos instead of mixed coffee drinks

56)Limit yourself to 1 cookie per day instead of multiple.

57)Have an omelet with only 1 egg yolk, not 3

58)Make sandwiches on lighter bread like Arnold’s sandwich thins or Thomas’s bagel thins

59)Skip the croutons in your salad

60)Ask for a second portion of vegetables with an entrée instead of a starch

61)Try making eggplant parmesan with roasted eggplant, not fried

62)Have 1 less handful of nuts at a time

63)Have a cup of chicken noodle or vegetable soup instead of cream of tomato or clam chowder

64)Have a 100 calorie pack of nuts at work instead of having the sweets in the office kitchen. Leave them in your desk for that afternoon hunger.

65)Flavor your coffee with cinnamon and nutmeg instead of syrups or sugars

66)Limit yourself to 1 glass of wine or beer per day

67)Switch to lite beer instead of regular

68)Dip sliced veggies in dips instead of chips

69)Have a sandwich on sliced bread, not a roll

70)Order unsweetened iced tea instead of sweetened

71)Have a decaf skim cappuccino as your dessert when out to eat

72)Ask the waitress to take away bread basket from the table when you go out to eat

73)Switch to slow churned ice cream instead of the real stuff

74)Skip the super-sized, deluxe, or value added options when ordering foods

75)Switch out chips with your sandwich for carrots or an apple.

76)Make your own tuna fish with lite mayo and chopped veggies like carrots, celery and fruit like craisins and apples

77)Switch to lite mayo

78)Get a side salad with your burger instead of fries

79)Snack on frozen grapes or bananas instead of popsicles or ice cream

80)Use lite cream cheese instead of regular

81)Order a side salad instead of another appetizer when you go out to eat

82)Switch to ordering turkey, grilled chicken, roastbeef sandwiches instead of pastrami, salami or other higher fat meats in your sandwiches

83)Choose a glass of alcohol or a sweet treat daily. Not both!

84)Make your meals last at least 20 minutes. Eat slowly; give your brain time to realize it is full!

85)Use a 9” plate instead of a 12” plate

86)Use non-fat evaporated milk for creaminess instead of cream or half and half in cooking

87)Grill your chicken instead of breading and pan-frying.

88)Switch from regular butter to whipped butter

89)Use lettuce to make wraps instead of pita or tortillas

90)Drink water when you exercise, not Gatorade

91)Top pancakes or French toast with applesauce or yogurt instead of syrup

92)Portion out your nightly snack and leave the bag in the kitchen. After it’s done, keep your hands busy with a puzzle or other hobby to distract you

93)Share entrees when out to meals and bulk up your meal with salads and vegetables

94)Use your spoon to measure out salad dressing and 1 spoonful

95)Use smaller serving spoons at dinner time

96)Switch out bottled flavored waters for flavored seltzer or homemade flavored waters. Try using sliced cucumber or slices of fruit or herbs like mint to flavor your water.

97)Swap out your granola for a lower calorie cereal (under 150 calories per cup)

98) Bake your meats in the oven instead of sautéing in the frying pan

99) Cook eggs in oil spray not butter

100) Switch to turkey sausage or turkey bacon from regular

Try just 1 of these ideas and you will wind up saving yourself 100 calories per day or 10 lbs per year. Take on more and the pounds will add up. Skip the fad diet or really strict elimination diet. Small changes make a big difference.

Happy New Year!

--Amy Santo, MS RD CDN