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Posts Tagged ‘Low-fat’

Peach Salsa

Did you know that Colorado has some of the best peaches in the country?  Farmers on the Western Slope (around Palisades) do a remarkable job of growing these sweet beauties and driving them across the Continental Divide to farmers’ markets all along the Front Range. I can’t imagine how many acres of trees must be needed just to supply the hordes of shoppers in Boulder, alone.  People line up a half hour before the farmers’ market opens on Saturday mornings, just to be sure to get a bag or a 20 lb. box (I once saw someone buy four boxes!) before they sell out. They’re that good.

We are on the tail end of peach season here, but you can still find some stragglers at the market.  After you’ve had your fill of peach pie and peach cobbler, and you’ve had diced peaches on your morning cereal every day for a month, it’s time to branch out.  This salsa has that sweet heat that I find so perfect on grilled meats, or just scooped up with copious amounts of chips.  It would be awesome on fish tacos.

Remember, you can adjust the heat or the sweet by adding more or less of the following ingredients…

Peach Salsa

Ingredients:

3  cups  diced peeled peaches (about 2 pounds)

1/4  cup  diced red onion

1/2 red bell pepper, diced fine

2-4  Tbsp  finely chopped fresh cilantro

1 seeded jalapeño pepper, minced (or less, to taste)

2  tablespoons vinegar (rice vinegar or white balsamic or white wine vinegar make good choices)

Juice of half of a lime

Honey to taste

Directions:

Combine all ingredients gently.  Best served the day it is made.

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It’s hot.

The last thing I want to do is heat up the kitchen, or eat a big plate of steaming food.

At times like this, I know the perfect food — gazpacho! It’s cool and delicious and absolutely positively guilt-free.

Like anything, it’s best made with fresh-from-the-garden produce and herbs, but I often am in the mood for it before it’s harvest time for tomatoes and cucumbers here in Colorado. So, I will let you in on a little secret. You can make this any time of year, and it’s still really good. Not quite as amazing as it is when tomatoes are ripe and luscious, but how long does that last, anyway? You can enjoy gazpacho tonight!

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Janet’s Pretty Good Gazpacho

Ingredients:

46 oz. tomato juice

2 lbs. or one large can crushed tomatoes

3 stalks celery, diced fine

1 1/2 bell pepper, diced fine

2 cucumbers, seeded and diced fine

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Fresh basil and/or tarragon, chopped, to taste

1/4 cup minced red onion

3 Tbsp. olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Dash of ground cumin

Dash of cayenne or tabasco, if you like a little heat

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in very large bowl. Combine thoroughly. Ladle some of the soup into a blender and puree. How much? You decide. You can puree it all, if you want a smooth soup, but I prefer chunks of vegetables suspended in a soup with some body, so I puree about a third to a half of the soup. You could leave it unblended, if you like the dark red color and lots of chunks.

Chill thoroughly and serve.


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Meatloaf is classic midwestern comfort food, one of America’s favorite dishes. I’ve heard it said that one should never eat anyone’s meatloaf except your mother’s. But, then again, not every mother makes great meatloaf. My mom made perfectly serviceable meatloaf, but the recipe is lost to posterity, which never seemed like a great tragedy, honestly.

I wasn’t really looking for a meatloaf recipe when, years ago, a friend enthusiastically shared this healthy version of the traditional dish. It’s moist and tasty, and hits those basic comfort food notes. While this meatloaf is not gourmet fare, we like it enough that it makes it into our family meal rotation with some regularity.  It has the benefit of being low fat, and having a good amount of vegetables in it, but in such small bits that even my persnickety 8 year old doesn’t mind.

I bet my mom would like it, too.

Turkey Meatloaf

Makes 2 loaves (each about 6 servings).

Ingredients:

1 cup onion

3/4 cup carrot

1/2 cup celery

1/2 cup red pepper

2 cloves garlic

2 1/2 lbs ground turkey (93% lean)

1 cup oats

1/3 cup ketchup

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp ground coriander

2 eggs (or 4 egg whites)

Directions:

Whirl onion, garlic, carrot, celery and bell pepper together in food processor until finely chopped.

Sauté vegetables in 2 tsp. canola oil until tender.   Set aside.

In large bowl combine remaining ingredients. Add cooled vegetables and mix well.

Grease 2 (9″x 5″) loaf pans.

Fill with meat mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees 30 minutes.

Top with mixture of 1/3 cup ketchup and 3 Tbsp. brown sugar.

Bake additional 30 minutes.

Nutrition Information, per serving:  192 calories, 8.6 g fat, (2.4 g sat fat), 100 mg cholesterol, 21 g protein, 356 mg sodium, 9 g carbs, 1.3 g fiber, 3.2 g sugar, 45.5 mg calcium.

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“Enough with the sweets already!,” you’re saying.  I understand. It’s time for dinner, and you’re wondering what I’ve got in the light, nutritious and flavorful category. Well, fear not.  I’ve got just the thing — baked tilapia over nutty brown rice, black beans, pineapple and salsa.  How’s that?  You’re welcome.

Adapted from Ingrid Hoffmann

Ingredients:

1 cup long grain brown rice

2 cups chicken broth

1 Tbsp. olive oil

Zest of one lime

Juice of one lime

Cilantro, chopped

Salt & Pepper

4 (~6 oz.) tilapia filets

2 cups of your favorite chunky tomato salsa (jarred or homemade), drained

15 oz. can Black Beans, rinsed and drained

2 cups diced pineapple (fresh is best, but canned works in a pinch)

Fresh limes for garnish

Directions:

Combine rice and chicken broth in a pot.  Bring to boil.  Lower heat to “low” and cover.  Cook for 45-50 minutes, or until rice is tender and broth is completely absorbed.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Stir together the cooked rice, salsa, beans, and pineapple. Spread in a 9×13 pan or other shallow 2-3 quart casserole dish.

Brush tilapia with olive oil.  Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.  Squeeze lime over the fish and lay the filets over the top of the rice mixture.  Sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

Bake until the fish flakes easily, is opaque and cooked through, 25-30 minutes.

Serve with lime slices.

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According to the calendar, Spring is nearly here. Nevermind that it was snowing here yesterday, or that we still have substantial mounds of white stuff in our front yard which first arrived in October to great fanfare.  This snow is like the guest who wouldn’t leave. [Does anyone remember that Saturday Night Live sketch?]  You were delighted to see them when they arrived, all fresh and new and exciting.  But now, you are tired and they have grown tedious and annoying. We wish it’d take the hint and melt already.

In a similar vein, I’m getting weary of winter foods. Enough with the squash and beans and hearty stews. Time for baby greens and bright clean flavors. This salad fits the bill, and can be made with ingredients easily found at the supermarket this time of year. It may seem silly to have a recipe for salad, but it’s possible you are like me and could use a bit of inspiration right about now.

Ingredients:

Baby spinach, washed and trimmed

A lovely ripe but still firm Barlett pear, in bite-size chunks

An ounce of your favorite goat cheese (chevre or bucheron are both delicious)

A small handful of dried cranberries or dried cherries, if you prefer

Raspberry vinaigrette or honey mustard vinaigrette

Directions:

Toss the spinach with the vinaigrette.  Layer the other ingredients on top, so that it is visually appealing.  (I believe it’s true that we eat with our eyes first.)  Perhaps you should set out some crusty bread, a glass of sauvignon blanc, and a pretty cloth napkin.

And while you eat, look out the window and dream about Spring.  It’s coming, they say.

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Today, we are going to be talking about Yankee food (and I don’t mean hot dogs at the ball park). To understand Yankee food, you have to answer the question, “What is a Yankee?” To people in the Western Hemisphere, a Yankee is someone from North America (think “Yankee, go home!”). To North Americans, Yankees live in the United States. To Americans, a Yankee is someone above the Mason-Dixon line. People in those northern states would say a Yankee is someone who lives in New England.  To New Englanders, a Yankee lives in Vermont. And Vermonters would say a Yankee is someone who eats apple pie for breakfast…

… or maybe baked beans and brown bread.  This recipe was given to me by an old friend whose family had been in New England so long that they had land that had been given to them as payment for service in the war — you know, the Revolutionary War.

Food can reach back and teach us about the past.  In those early days when white folks first settled New England, they ate what they could grow. Beans were (and still are) cheap and filling, and meat was used sparingly. This bread uses modest amounts of wheat, which was less available than other grains, contains no precious oil or butter, and is steamed in the manner of old English puddings.  The result is a delicious, hearty and healthy meal and a lesson in American history.

Nancy’s Boston Baked Beans

Warning! This makes a massive amount of beans.  Feed your family.  Feed your neighbors.

Ingredients:

One onion, quartered

2 lbs. Jacob Cattle Beans, or other small white bean (I used Great Northern beans)

8 oz. salt pork (can substitute bacon if necessary)

1/4 cup brown sugar

2/3 cup molasses

2 tsp. dry mustard

4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

Directions:

Soak beans overnight in a large pot with water covering the beans by two inches.  In the morning, parboil the beans for 30 minutes or until the skins start to come off when you blow on them.  Drain.

In large bean pot or dutch oven, place quartered onion, and cover with beans.  Place salt pork on top of beans. Mix the sugar, molasses, mustard, pepper and salt with 2 cups boiling water. Pour mixture over the beans.  Add more water to cover the surface of the beans.  Cover the pot with a lid and bake at 300 degrees F for 6 hours or more, adding more hot water as the beans cook.  Serve with brown bread (recipe below).

Brown Bread

This is traditionally made in old coffee cans, but coffee doesn’t come in cans so often anymore, so one has to improvise. Improvising makes real Yankees happy.  Do not go to your local kitchen supply store and buy a fancy pudding mold.  That would offend those thrifty folks, whose motto was “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

Ingredients:

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup whole grain rye flour

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

2 cups buttermilk

1 cup molasses

1 cup raisins or dried currants

Directions:

Generously butter one 9×5 inch loaf pan or 2 clean 28 ounce tin cans.  Mix first 5 ingredients in large bowl.  Add buttermilk, molasses and raisins and stir well to combine.

Transfer batter to prepared loaf pan or divide between the two prepared cans.  Butter a piece of foil and use it to cover the pan well, buttered side down.  Secure with kitchen twine.  Place loaf pan in a large wide pot (I used my stock pot).  Pour enough water into pot to come halfway up sides of loaf pan or cans.  Bring water to boil, then reduce heat to low.  Cover pot and simmer until tester inserted into center of bread comes out clean, about three hours.  Add more water to pot as necessary to keep water halfway up sides of pan or cans.

Remove pan or cans from pot.  Cool bread in pan for 15 minutes before gently removing.  Slice and serve, either warm or at room temperature.  Brown bread is very good smeared with cream cheese.

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Minestrone

A while back, someone asked my daughter what she thought my favorite food was. I was contemplating all the various possible pastries competing for that honor, when I heard her confidant answer… “soup!”  (Soup?!)  I had to laugh. But she’s right, I do love soup.  And I can’t blame her for thinking it’s my favorite, given how often I serve it.  A standard weekly dinner at our house is “Soup, Salad, Bread.”  You can travel the world’s cuisines by eating soup and never be bored. Soup is infinitely variable, reliably healthy, and always a comforting end to a long day.  I usually make a big pot of soup early in the week.  It’s dinner for us the first night, and lunches for me all week.  Soup is my secret weapon in my personal battle of the bulge.

Now, I’ve never been to Italy.  But this particular recipe is a so full of flavor and color and texture, that I can pretend I’m there, at some villa in the countryside, with a good bottle of local wine, and some crusty bread.  And, afterwards, I’ll still have room for one of those pastries I was dreaming about…

Serves 8, generously

Ingredients:

1 15 oz. can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

2 oz. salt pork, bacon or pancetta (optional)

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 cup diced carrot

2 ribs of celery, diced

3 garlic cloves, chopped fine

2 zucchini, diced

1/4 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 pound shredded green cabbage

4 cups spinach, stems discarded

28-ounce can diced tomatoes

8 cups chicken or vegetable broth (preferably homemade)

Rind of parmesan (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

freshly grated Parmesan

Directions:

In a heavy kettle cook the pork in the oil over moderate heat, stirring, until it is crisp and pale golden, add the onion, and cook the mixture, stirring, until the onion is softened. Add the carrots, the celery, and the garlic and sauté, stirring, for 4 minutes. Add the zucchini, the green beans, and the cabbage and cook the mixture, stirring, until the cabbage is wilted. Add the tomatoes, beans, spinach, broth (and the cheese rind, if using). Simmer the soup, covered, for 1 hour.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

As with most soups, the flavor improves with a little time, so be sure to save some to enjoy the next day for lunch!

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