Monday, December 20, 2010

Chicken Fettucini Alfredo

This is by no means the healthiest thing out there...not even a close second! But it does beat the 1500ish calories this dish will cost you at a restaurant. My husband loves this dish so I went on a mission to make it healthier...and easy of course! I don't have pics, so use your imagination!

First things first, get out your slow cooker and handy crock pot bags.

Things you will need:

About a pound of frozen chicken breasts
1-2 jars of light alfredo sauce
About 2-3 cups of fresh or frozen chopped veggies (whatever you have around will work, I usually use squash, zucchini, carrots and/or broccoli)
Whole wheat pasta

Place the chicken breasts from the freezer into the crock pot. Pour the sauce over the top of the chicken, enough to totally cover them - usually between 1-2 jars. 

This is the kind i usually get - it only has 5 grams of fat per 1/4 cup versus 10 grams of fat in the regular sauce. 


Cook on high for 6 hours or low for 8 hours - it may be done faster, but I usually just leave it in all day while I am at work.  Before serving, you will need to steam your chopped veggies.  You can either boil them on the stove for a few minutes or do it in the microwave.  Stir the veggies into crock pot with the chicken, the chicken will basically just fall apart.

Serve over whole wheat pasta. DONE!

You can always add more sauce if you like it saucier or add more veggies if you like it healthier!

ENJOY!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mmmm...Chili

Since it's "winter" - or 70 degrees in December if you live in Houston - what is more fitting than a hot bowl of chili???  I tried this recipe the other night and it turned out pretty good if I do say so myself!  I also subjected some friends to my experimenting this time and they liked it too!  I found this recipe on one of my favorite recipe websites, but I changed it up a bit to make it healthier, and because I didn't have all the things it called for.

The original recipe called for 6 oz of hot turkey Italian sausage.  By leaving this out you save 280 calories, 18 grams of fat and 1080 milligrams of sodium (which is the main reason I left it out, well, that and I don't like it!).  So, instead of the sausage I substituted 1 cup of chopped carrots - 50 calories, no fat, barely any sodium and lots of beta carotene.  No one knew about the carrots until after the fact...so sneaky!

Here is what you will need - it looks like a lot of ingredients, but there a quite a few spices so stay with me!

2 cups of chopped onion
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
8 minced garlic cloves
1 chopped jalapeno pepper
1 cup chopped carrots
1 pound lean ground beef

2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried basil (I didn't have oregano)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 c fruity red wine (which I only used because I had some, otherwise I would have used low sodium, low fat beef broth)
2 cans chopped tomatoes (28 oz) (low sodium, preferably)
2 cans kidney beans (15 oz) drained and rinsed

I am not a fan of chopping veggies, but I have a mini food processor that I threw all the veggies in and it was done in no time!  Once all the chopping is done, you will have 4 CUPS of veggies to put into your chili - not including the tomatoes...delicious AND nutritious!


Start by throwing all the chopped veggies and the ground beef into a large pot and saute until the meat is brown.


Next, add the rest of the ingredients into the pot and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer for about an hour stirring occasionally.  Uncover and cook for 30 more minutes.


Easy as that!  It's not super spicy, which I am TOTALLY ok with, but my husband likes it hot so he added some extra chili powder and Tabasco to his bowl for an extra kick!

On a side note, I made this a day before we were going to have it for dinner and it was even better heated up the next day.

ENJOY!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Spaghetti Squash 101

 
Never tried spaghetti squash??  Well now is the time!  Its a mix between spaghetti & a vegetable...what could be better?!?!  Well its not really a mix, but it is a vegetable that closely resembles spaghetti noodles in appearance, but lucky for you, not in calories & carbs!  1 cup of spaghetti squash has about 40 calories and 9 grams of carbs.  1 cup of spaghetti noodles (whole wheat of course!) will cost you about 175 calories and about 40 grams of carbs.

I like to serve this as a side dish - pair it with some grilled chicken and a salad - DELISH!  My favorite way to fix it is to toss it with a little bit of butter and Parmesan cheese on top, but you can definitely top it with marinara, alfredo sauce, pretty much whatever you like!  It doesn't have too much flavor so you can top it with anything.

Here is how it works...

First, cut it in half long ways, make sure to rinse it off really well first.  If you put it in the microwave for about 3-5 minutes it will be easier to cut.


It kinda looks like a pumpkin inside, so you will want to pull out all the seeds and stringy stuff (maybe it's called pulp?)...


Next, place it face down in a baking dish with about 1/4 c water - enough to cover the bottom of the dish. 


I cook it in the microwave (lazy) for about 10-12 minutes, covered with plastic wrap.  It can also be baked in the oven (uncovered) at 350 for about 45 minutes.  It will be pretty hot so be careful, but it should be soft and flexible when it's done.  Using a fork, pull it away from the skin, it will come off in strings that look like spaghetti...its very strange, but so good!


Next, toss it with whatever topping you like and serve!


ENJOY!

Friday, December 10, 2010

"Sour Cream" Enchiladas

Looks like I am in a Mexican food kinda mood this week!  This is one of my favorite recipes to make, mostly because it's super easy and my hubby always goes back for seconds!  PLUS - its great reheated for lunch the next day!  The first time I made enchiladas I made them exactly how the recipe on the back of the enchilada sauce said to...but that's for the birds!  So after making this dish a few times I have slowly changed it into a much healthier and easier version.

The best part about these "sour cream" enchiladas is that there is actually no sour cream in them.  My secret is Greek Yogurt - which I guess is no longer a secret!  Greek yogurt, if you haven't tried it, is a GREAT alternative to sour cream.  It is much thicker than regular yogurt, pretty comparable to sour cream in fact, and its packed with protein.

Typically you would use about 8 oz of sour cream, at least, for this recipe - 485 calories, 48 grams of fat, 7 grams of protein.  Compared to 8 oz of non-fat Greek yogurt - 130 calories, 0 fat, 24 grams of protein.  HUGE difference in nutrition, no difference in taste!

Over time, my laziness has taken over and I no longer make actual enchiladas - it gets messy and takes forever...so it is more of a casserole.



So here is what you need:

About 1 lb of shredded cooked chicken
2 cans of green enchilada sauce
1 can diced green chilis
8-10 oz non-fat Greek Yogurt
1-2 cups of reduced fat shredded Mexican cheese
18 corn tortillas

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium size mixing bowl mix chicken, about 1/2 can of enchilada sauce, chilis, yogurt and 1/2 cup cheese.

2.  Pour other 1/2 can of enchilada sauce into bottom of 9X13 casserole dish and cover with 6 tortillas.  Layer about 1/2 of the chicken mixture on top of the tortillas.

3.  Repeat step 2.  1/2 can sauce, 6 tortillas, other half of chicken mixture.

4.  Finish off with last 6 tortillas, the rest of the enchilada sauce and a layer of cheese on top.

5.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 for about 30-40 minutes.

You can add more cheese in there if you like it cheesier - I don't usually end up using a full two cups.

I know it sounds weird, but no one will have any idea that there is yogurt in your enchiladas...no one in my family did...until now! =)

TIME SAVER TIP:  I always boil my chicken and shred, but I'm sure a rotisserie chicken would work just as well and be super quick!

ENJOY!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Inspiration Recipe: Super Easy Taco Soup



This is the recipe that I shared with my mom, which gave me the idea to start this whole thing!  It is the easiest taco soup recipe you have ever seen - even for you non-cookers out there.  It's mostly canned ingredients so it is fairly high in sodium, which is the only drawback, but there are ways around that.  Anyone know what the daily recommendation for sodium is??  2400 milligrams - about 1 TEASPOON per day!  And, canned products can get you there pretty quickly!  

On to the recipe...get out your crock pot and your crock pot liners - if you don't know about these, you're about to discover the greatest invention EVER!  You just simply put the bag in the crockpot and dump the ingredients in.  As soon as you are done eating, and packaging left overs for lunch the next day, just throw the bag away...dishes DONE!  You can find them anywhere in the food storage section at most grocery stores.

Ok, time for the recipe for real:

1 lb of uncooked chicken breast - frozen or fresh
1 can Great Northern beans 
1 can black beans
1 can red kidney beans
1 can corn
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilis
1 packet taco seasoning (I always get the low sodium one)
1 packet ranch seasoning
Dash of cumin

Put the chicken in first, then dump everything else on top.  Cook for about 4 hours on high or 6-8 on low.  You should then be able to shred the chicken with a fork while it's still in the crock pot.  Dinner is DONE!

The original recipe calls for all the cans to be undrained - which hikes up the sodium.  SOOOO...the other option is to drain all the cans and rinse the beans and use about 2-3 cups of low sodium chicken broth.  Might add about 5 minutes to your prep time.  You could also use fresh tomatoes & chilis if you are REALLY feeling ambitious.

Beware - pregnant Sister B said "it was so delicious, but it gave me major heartburn."  So all you mommies to be out there - you have been warned!

TIME SAVER TIP:  I often put all the ingredients into the bag the night before, then keep it in the fridge until the next morning, then all I have to do is put the bag in the crock pot and turn it on!  If you know me, you know I will do anything possible for that extra 5 minutes of sleep.

ENJOY!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Welcome to my Blog!

So I decided to start a blog...I shared a recipe with my mom when she was visiting last and it was a hit!  She sent it to my aunts, cousins and others I'm sure.  I thought it might be fun to share some of my recipes with family and friends.  Don't get my wrong, I am no gourmet, fancy, knock-your-socks off cook - I am more of a throw it all in a crock pot and pray for the best kinda girl!  But I enjoy making quick, easy, healthy dinners!

I was raised in a family where my mom cooked dinner every night (Thanks Mom!) but I never took an interest in cooking...AT ALL!  I'm not quite sure what I ate in college for 4 years (or 6...I love to learn =D) besides the occasional spaghetti dinner - which is my favorite!  Hence the blog name.  I do, however, remember calling Mom once to find out how to cook chicken on the stove...the smoke alarm went off.  Fail. 

BUT...since I got married and got some wonderful kitchen gadgets (and have someone else to eat with) I have come around to the whole cooking thing.  I actually love to cook!

Which is pretty fitting since I am a Registered Dietitian - I talk about food for a living.  My favorite part of cooking is making over recipes - which doesn't always work out so well (which my husband can attest to - such a good sport!).  I love to find ways to add nutritional value, decrease fat and calories, add shortcuts (I can be a little lazy sometimes - I admit it) but I promise to only share the good ones!

I decided to call this blog "Spaghetti with Sprinkles" because I LOVE spaghetti and my favorite dessert is chocolate cake with chocolate icing and sprinkles ( a staple in my family)...not so fitting for a Dietitian, but I can't help it!  Don't get me wrong I love a good piece of fish and I eat all my veggies but there is nothing like a piece of cake for breakfast on your birthday...it only comes once a year, right?!?

My goal is to post at least 2 recipes a week...we'll see how that goes!  Pretty ambitious going into the holidays if I do say so myself, but I guess now that I am putting it out there for all to see I have to!  I am hoping I can figure out how to post pictures and make the blog look pretty...in time...gotta start somewhere!

Enjoy!