Posts Tagged ‘Recipes’

Healthy Fish & Chips

This week’s menu plan included meals inspired by Irish dishes, in honor of St. Patrick. While all things deep-fried sound tempting and tasty, avoidance is a better idea. Of course, if you have your heart (and your taste buds) set on true Fish & Chips, the following recipe will disappoint. But if you’re up for a healthy version that’s inspired by the real thing, this might be right up your alley.

Chips — start with some Yukon gold potatoes and cut them thinly. Place in a large and spray liberally with non-stick vegetable oil spray. Add seasoning salt and toss. Spray a cookie sheet and lay out the potatoes. Bake at a pre-heated 350 for about 12 minutes. Remove the pan, flip the fries, and put back in the oven for another 12 minutes or so.

Fish — I picked up a large package of tilapia fillets at Costco several weeks ago and individually froze them until needed. For this recipe, I took 4 fillets out and thawed them. A light spray of olive oil spray on each one gives some non-stick functionality and a hint of flavor. After spraying, lightly season with salt & pepper or another of your favorite seasonings. Place on a baking sheet (also lightly sprayed) in a pre-heated low broiler for a 3-4 minutes. Remove the pan, flip the fillets, then put back under the broiler for another 3-4 minutes. Depending on the thickness of your fillets, they may need a couple more minutes. You can tell they are done when the fish starts to flake, especially when lightly touched with a fork.

Our oven’s broiler is inside the top of the oven, so it worked out well to put the potatoes on a middle rack; then after the 25 minutes or so the potatoes were in, I kicked on the broiler to preheat for the fish. The broiler gave the potatoes a nice crisp to them and when I put the sheet of fish in, it blocked the flames from the potatoes.

The Search for a Healthy Granola Bar

A couple months ago I posted on Facebook that I was searching for a healthy, homemade granola bar. The quick-and-easy convenience of grabbing a granola bar on a busy morning is very necessary everyone once in awhile. Historically, our go-to bars have been Quaker Chewy. That is, until we started caring about ingredients and seeing all the stuff that’s jammed in those. You might as well call it a candy bar.

We’ve gotten some great recommendations as far as healthy ingredients, but unfortunately many of them have high carb or protein counts which, while not necessarily bad for you, drive up the Weight Watchers Point value which is another thing we are trying to balance.

All that to say, I’ve found a tremendous bar that is incredibly easy to make (I started these at 9:00 on a Sunday night, on a whim), include many staples already in the house, make a ton, are healthy, and dollar-for-dollar are super cheap. Weelicious is becoming a go-to Web site for food and treat planning and Catherine there has saved the day again in the granola bar department.

Grab the full details and recipe here : http://weelicious.com/2011/09/06/chocolate-chip-granola-bars/

One note: be sure to follow the instructions as far as when to cut the bars. They’re seemingly pretty soft out of the oven, but do firm up quite a bit and cutting would be awfully difficult if you waited too long.

You won’t be disappointed in these bars. And I doubt your kids will be either (Rayna – just under 4 years old) loves them!

What on Earth Is That? : Five things we never expected to see in our pantry

In previous attempts to lose weight, we often focused on net calorie & fat intake.  We’ve used Weight Watchers before with some success, but one of the struggles is that if you’re not disciplined, it is entirely possible to cheat the system. You technically could have several Twinkies and stay within your daily Points or eat fruits and have those count ‘against’ you. While WW has improved their program in the recent past to make it more well-rounded and healthy, the ultimate responsibility lies with us to make wise choices of what we put in our body. (Is there ever good reason to eat several Twinkies? Or even one?)

So as we endeavor to make wise choices, we are finding our shopping habits even change and we’re considering the ingredients of our ingredients – things we can and can’t pronounce, and the net impact on our health.  Here are five things we never expected to see in our house, perhaps because they seemed weird, perhaps because I didn’t even know what they were!

  • Ground Flaxseed: What is this stuff anyway? A pretty simple summary can be found on WebMD, but here’s the gist: three primary ingredients within Flaxseed: Omega-3 essential fatty acids (good for your heart), Lignans (antioxidants, helps remove the bad stuff in your system), and Fiber (keep things running the way they’re supposed to). We’ve got a whole box of this stuff now, which is finding its way into a few recipes here and there.

 

  • Almond Milk: Only weird people don’t buy regular milk, right? Cow’s milk is real milk, right? Well, maybe not. We flirted with going organic for our milk supply a couple years ago and our rate of consumption compared to the cost was just out of our reach. Some day that traditional dairy really isn’t all that good for the human body. We haven’t done enough research or jumped completely on to that line of thinking yet, but have at least started checking out the options. Something about drinking soy milk seems like drinking grass, but we did discover almond milk. This has fewer calories than ‘regular’ (cow) milk, more calcium and turns out, it tastes really good too. We haven’t pulled regular milk out of the fridge altogether, but as a treat and alternative are going with almond milk from time to time. (One of my favorites is using it with granola for a morning breakfast — adds some great flavor.)

 

  • Eggplant: Is it egg? Or is it vegetable? (Okay, okay; bad joke.) I’ve honestly never had this before (at least not on purpose) and stumbled upon a recipe that called for it. No problems! Relatively bland on taste, but made a great healthy additive to a pasta dish we whipped up. The point on this line isn’t so much the eggplant, but the fact that our produce intake has spiked significantly in the past few weeks. Buying what’s seasonal and what’s on sale can provide both healthy meal options as well as very healthy snack options (grab some carrots instead of chips).

 

  • Whole Wheat Flour: Flour is flour, right? Well, maybe not. Without getting into the full details of what makes white flour what it is (you can read an excellent summary from Mayo Clinic here), suffice it to say that the process that gives white flour its nice fluffy texture and couple-year shelf life is exactly the process that pulls out all the healthy stuff in the original grain. Here again, have we banned white flour from hanging out in our pantry? No. But when the option allows, we’re shifting our energy to whole wheat.

 

  • Whole Grain Breads: Piggyback on the issue of whole wheat flour and the same is true for breads. Once you process the heck out of something much of its health benefits get flushed out of the factory into the local river. (Does that mean the fish are actually getting all our nutrients along with the manufacturing toxins?) There’s nothing like a PB&J or grilled cheese sandwich on the good ole’ Wonder Bread I grew up with. But when push comes to shove, you realize that “Wonder” meant more for the profit of Hostess (yes, the Twinkie people) than it does for the wonder of your healthy body. We’re buying whole grain breads now and, after a few weeks, not only do you get used to the new tastes, you start to prefer them.

You may be wondering how our toddler is faring the shift in our ingredients. Now that this post is pushing 800 words, I’m lucky if you’ve even made it this far, so I’ll save that topic for a future post. The short answer: no problems.

What are some other healthy ingredients you have in your fridge or pantry?

 

No-Bake Energy Bites

As we continue to try to clear out the artificial and sugary ingredients in our pantry, there are a few things we’re on the hunt to replace. Yesterday I posted a plea on Facebook for a healthy homemade granola bar recipe. In the conversation thread, these No-Bake Energy Bites came up in the conversation.

Ran to the grocery store, picked up the few ingredients we still needed, measured the ingredients out and let Rayna help mix it all up.

The recipe isn’t original, so I won’t post the full thing here, but hop on over to Smashed Peas and Carrots, take a look at the recipe, and make these. You won’t be disappointed.

(Note: WW PointsPlus : 4 points each)