Recipe: Brazilian Fish Stew (Moqueca)

So I’m a little late posting this. I just haven’t been in the swing of things lately. I am doing my best to keep up with everything and not disappear. Here’s one of our regular menu items. Like most things, this one grew on me. I am not crazy about fish, but this recipe is light and has a good combo of flavors. We serve it with garlic toast on the side.

fishstew

Moqueca – Brazilian Fish Stew Recipe

Adapted from Simply recipes

Ingredients:
12 ounce swai fillets (or other similar fish), cut into large portions
3 cloves garlic, minced
juice from 1 small lime
salt
pepper
dash of olive oil
1.5 cup chopped white onion, chopped
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
1/2 green and 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
1 Tbsp sweet paprika
1 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
Pinch red pepper flakes
cilantro, chopped, to taste
1 14-ounce can lite coconut milk

Directions:

  • Place fish in a bowl, add the minced garlic and lime juice and lots of salt and pepper, and mix so that the pieces are well coated. Set aside
  • In a large covered pan, add a little bit of olive oil (spread it around) and heat on medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook a few minutes until softened. Add the bell pepper, paprika, and red pepper flakes, and at least 1 tsp salt. Cook for a few minutes longer.
  • Stir in the chopped tomatoes and onion greens. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, uncovered. Stir in the chopped cilantro.
  • Move about half of the vegetables to the side of the dish, leaving a layer on the bottom. Arrange the fish pieces on the vegetables. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Then spread the vegetables from the side back over top of the fish.
  • Pour coconut milk over the fish and vegetables. Cover and cook 15 minutes on medium.
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Recipe: Hawaiian Zucchini Pasta

Zucchini pasta! Otherwise known as spiralized zucchini. This is one of my favorite low calorie tricks, but I always tend to forget about it after a while. I rediscovered it today, when I was confronted with the random ingredients in my fridge that I wanted to try to use. I’ve made zucchini pasta with just the zucchini and pasta sauce before, but the whole point today was to use more ingredients in my fridge, so this version is more interesting.

Yes, “Hawaiian style” has made an appearance again (love fresh pineapple), although it is a little different this time. You can really use any toppings, or none, that you want. Meatballs. Chicken with light alfredo sauce. Pesto. So many options! Or, you can keep it vegetarian or even vegan if you want. The great thing about zucchini pasta is you can use toppings like salami and cheese without feeling guilty since the overall dish is still healthy and light.

zucchinipasta

Hawaiian Zucchini Pasta

Ingredients:
1 small zucchini, cut into ribbons with a spiralizer
2 tbsp diced onion
1/4 cup diced bell pepper
1/3 cup diced pineapple
2 slices salami, diced (or ham)
1 ounce mozzarella or provolone cheese
1/2 cup pasta sauce
parmesan

Directions:

  • If using any ingredients that need cooked like onions or peppers, add them to a skillet and saute until softened. Add the pineapple and salami at the last minute and heat up.
  • Put the spiralized zucchini in a bowl and top with pasta sauce, your cooked toppings, and cheese. Heat up in the microwave about 1 minute. Don’t overdo it or the zucchini will cook too much, lose volume, and you’ll end up with watery sauce.
  • Sprinkle with parmesan and enjoy!

zucpasta.

In case you have no idea what a spiral vegetable slicer is, this is the one I use. I wish I would have discovered this back when I did Atkins, because it would make low carb meals so much more versatile! You really don’t miss the actual pasta, I promise!

Recipe: Healthy Monte Cristo Sandwich

Ahh, Bennigan’s. I miss Bennigan’s restaurant so much. There were seriously a lot of things I loved there. The White Chocolate Chill Out dessert was at the top of the list before they stopped selling it. And the appetizers… fried asiago, potato skins, chicken tenders, southwest eggrolls… all amazing.  There was also an insane sandwich I would occasionally get called the Monte Cristo. If you’ve ever seen this thing, it is completely crazy.  A HUGE, battered and fried sandwich dusted with powdered sugar. Yeah, seriously bad.  However, the basic concept is pretty simple to recreate in a less heart-attack inducing reproduction.

Here’s my lower calorie Monte Cristo sandwich. No, it’s not as awesome as the fried version. But, it still beats a typical ham and cheese.

montecristo

Light Monte Cristo Sandwich

Ingredients:
2 slices bread (healthy bread would be better, but any will do)
3 thin slices deli ham
3 thin slices deli turkey
1 slice american cheese (reduced fat)
1 slice swiss cheese (reduced fat)
1-2 tbsp sugar free raspberry (or other flavor) jam
1/4 cup egg beaters

Directions:

  • Spray a skillet with Pam and heat to medium.
  • Dip one side of each slice of bread in egg beaters and cook on the skillet until golden brown.
  • Remove one slice, dip the other side and put it egg side down. Layer the meat and cheese on top of the egg battered side of bread.
  • Dip the other side of the second slice of bread and place it on top of the sandwich, egg side up.
  • Flip the sandwich over when the bottom is golden and cook a few more minutes until the cheese is melty.
  • Serve with sugar free jam for dipping.

I used blackberry jam since that’s what I have on hand at the moment. This also goes well with honey mustard if you aren’t crazy about fruit with savory meals. And I served it with a nectarine. My sandwich, with regular white bread, came in around 350 calories (I used a partial slice of swiss). Not too bad at all for a fancier lunch.

Recipe: Butternut Squash Black Bean Mole Enchilada Skillet

I love any excuse to make a Mexican or Southwest style meal. Since corn tortillas usually come in huge packs, I always end up with some in the freezer, which unfortunately makes them want to tear too much after you thaw them. That’s why an enchilada skillet is a perfect use for them. And, you can get lots of veggie goodness in there, with a minimal amount of tortilla. I only used 5 tortillas in this, but they weren’t super noticeable. I probably would have been fine without the tortillas at all (maybe topping with a few crumbled corn tortilla chips instead), but you may want to use more if you want it to really be like eating enchiladas for the tortillas.

My husband loves mole, so I decided to go with a mole twist on this dish. You can certainly use regular enchilada sauce, which is lower calorie than mole, but not as awesome. This dish looks super cheesy, but there really wasn’t that much cheese and it was reduced fat. I just put most of it on top so that it would feel cheesier.

enchiladaskillet

Butternut Squash Black Bean Mole Enchilada Skillet

Adapted from Ambitious Kitchen

Ingredients:
Spray of oil
1 medium white onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/3 cup roasted red bell pepper, diced
3 cups butternut squash, cubed
1 large zucchini, chopped
1/2 tsp mexican chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
salt and pepper
1 can (15 Ounce) black beans, drained
5 corn tortillas, cut in strips (can use up to 8)
mole sauce (about 2 tbsp jarred paste, dilute with water according to directions)
cheese (I used 2 slices white american, plus about 1 cup reduced fat sharp cheddar)
cilantro, lettuce, green onions, tomato, or other toppings

Directions:

  • Put squash cubes in a microwave safe bowl and cover with water. Microwave about 8 minutes to soften squash.
  • Heat a large oven-proof skillet on medium-high heat and spray some oil on it. Add onions and peppers and cook about 10 minutes until onions are very soft.
  • Add the zucchini, garlic, softened squash, and seasonings and cook another 10 minutes until squash and zucchini are cooked to your liking.
  • Add the black beans, tortilla pieces, and mole sauce and stir.
    Turn off the skillet and sprinkle in a little cheddar (and/or white american if using), stir everything up.
  • Turn your oven broiler on. Sprinkle more cheese over the top of the enchilada mixture and place in the oven under broiler for 3-5 minutes until cheese melts and tortilla edges become a bit golden brown.
  • Serve with your choice of toppings.

skillet2

I served this with a side of southwest corn. Also, I added more lettuce, tomato, cilantro, and green onions on top after I took the photo. I like to bulk it up with these super light veggies.

This is another vegetarian dish, but it would also be awesome with chicken.

Recipe: Masoor Dal and Naan Bread

lentils2

Our typical Indian lentil dish is on the regular menu rotation at our house these days. It is another healthy vegetarian meal, and one that I can sneak other veggies into pretty easily. This is how we cook lentils most often, and this dish has really grown on me a lot. I used to think it was just “ok” because I am not a huge fan of turmeric, and lentils were weird to me the first few times. But now I actually look forward to cooking this meal. The best part is the homemade naan bread. It is worth the splurge to have the fresh bread (with Sabra garlic hummus!) with this dish.

This meal takes a long time to cook. I usually start the naan dough about 3 hours before dinner time, and start chopping the ingredients about 2 hours before dinner. It takes about an hour and a half total cooking time.

Warning: Do not use a teal serving spoon in this. The turmeric will stain it a weird green color. This is now my official lentil spoon. Lol. Stick with black or metal spoons and don’t use plastic dishes you care about for serving/storing either.

lentils1

Masoor Dal

Makes a lot, probably 6 bowls.

Ingredients:
Spray of oil
1 large onion, diced
1 tsp cumin
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups dried lentils
5-6 cups water
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 jalapeno finely chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tsp coriander, ground
1-2 kohlrabi roots, diced (optional)
1/2 green bell pepper, diced (optional)
fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions

  • Heat oil in a very large pan with a lid and add the onions. Cook a few minutes, then add the cumin. Cook about 15 minutes until onions are very soft.
  • Add garlic and jalapeno (and bell pepper and/or kohlrabi or other veggies) and continue to saute about 5 more minutes.
  • Add tomatoes, ginger, and turmeric and cook another few minutes.
  • Rinse Dal thoroughly and add to the mixture in the pan.
    Add 3 cups of hot water, close the pot with a lid and let it cook.
  • Check every 10 minutes to stir and add more water as needed. We usually end up adding the full 6 cups of water, and it needs to cook a total of at least 45 minutes.The lentils should be so soft that the mixture becomes very thick and creamy.
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve with naan bread and hummus on the side.

naan.

Lighter Naan Bread

Ingredients:
2-3 cups of All Purpose flour
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
Pinch of baking soda
2 tablespoons of fat free plain yogurt, room temperature
2 tablespoons skim milk or almond milk, room temperature
2/3 cup lukewarm water

Directions:

  • Mix the yeast, sugar, and warm water in a cup and let it sit for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, mix 2 cups of flour with the salt and pinch of baking powder.
  • When yeast mixture is ready, add it along with the milk and yogurt to the flour.
  • Kneed it all together and continue adding up to 1 more cup of flour if it’s too sticky.
  • In a large mixing bowl, put a little olive oil in the bottom. When the dough stays in a nice ball, add it to the bowl and flip it over so both sides are lightly covered with oil. Cover and let rise at least one hour.
  • When doubled in size, split the dough into 10 small balls and let sit while oven and pizza stone preheat to 500 degrees.
  • Roll out each dough ball into a flat circle. Cook on the pizza stone about 2 minutes, turning on broil for about half the time.
  • When you pull out the naan, lightly brush with melted light butter.
  • Wrap up the bread in foil to keep warm while the rest of the batch cooks.

Recipe: Healthy Tuna Cakes

Today I set out with a mission to make lower calorie tuna cakes. I didn’t calculate the exact nutrition values on these, but they are definitely healthier than most standard crab cakes, and they are almost as good (you can’t quite turn a tuna into a crab!). I also love that these are inexpensive to make. These tuna cakes held together really well, and you don’t even notice that there are vegetables in them. I served these with brown rice with veggies (prepared packet, took the lazy way out!) and tomato soup. I should have at least added a sprig of parsley to my plate though, since it’s not a colorful meal.

tunacake2

Healthy Tuna Cakes

Makes 10 crab cakes (serves 2-3 people)

Ingredients:
1/4 cup quick cooking oats
1/4 cup egg beaters
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 cans (5 ounce each) light water-packed tuna, drained
2 tbsp light miracle whip
1/2 cup shredded zucchini
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper powder
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
1/4 cup celery, diced
2 tbsp roasted red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

Directions:

  • Combine egg beaters and oats in a large mixing bowl and stir until oats are covered in egg. Set aside.
  • Spray a large skillet with a little oil and cook the onions about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, and add the zucchini and celery. Let the skillet sit on the hot burner.
  • To the mixing bowl with the egg and oats, add the tuna, miracle whip, and seasonings. Stir together. Once the onion mixture has cooled somewhat, add it to the mixing bowl and stir everything together.
  • Put the panko bread crumbs in a small bowl. With clean hands, form small patties out of the tuna mixture and lightly tap each side into the bread crumbs. Set aside on a plate until all patties are made.
  • Spray the skillet with more oil, and turn on medium-high (7/10). Once skillet is hot, cook the patties about 5 minutes per side until golden brown. You may need to spray a little more oil for the second side of the patties.
  • Serve with sauce of your choice. I dipped them in a mixture of light chipotle mayo and a mango coconut pepper (not hot) sauce.

tunacake1

Recipe: Lighter Cajun Alfredo Pasta

Publix had lots of good deals on sausage last weekend for the Super Bowl, so we stocked up on a few kinds. My husband was thinking a Cajun Alfredo pasta would be great with the sausage, but of course, we are trying to be avoid such heavy meals. I set to work getting ideas and came up with this healthier version, which I was happy enough with. I still watched my portion and served with a very light salad. This recipe could have been lower calorie if I’d had skim milk on hand and chose a leaner meat, but overall, I think it was still a success, and definitely an improvement over using 1+ cups of whipping cream, tons of pasta, and hardly any veggies. It’s nice to sometimes have meals that don’t feel like diet food.

cajunpasta

Note: This meal is much creamier than the photo looks. The sauce settled to the bottom of the pan, and I didn’t stir enough when scooping my serving. If I’d waited a few minutes, it would have been even thicker/creamier.  It was a little hard to serve with fettuccine noodles. If you go that route, I’d recommend keeping the pasta separate and serving the veggies/sauce on top.

Lighter Cajun Alfredo Pasta

Makes 3 large servings

Ingredients:
6 ounce pasta (fettuccine or your preference)
3 hot Italian sausage links (can use chicken sausage or chicken for lighter meal), cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 large zucchini, chopped
1 large summer squash, chopped
1.5 large bell peppers, chopped (any mix of colors)
1/2 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium tomato, chopped
3 green onions, green parts only diced
1 batch Cajun Alfredo sauce (recipe follows)

Directions:

  • Bring salted water to a boil in a large pan and cook pasta according to directions on package.
  • Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and heat to medium-high.
  • Add onions and cook a few minutes. Add bell peppers and continue cooking 3 minutes.
  • Add sausage and cook until sausage is cooked through.
  • Add squash, zucchini, garlic, and tomato, and saute another 5-10 minutes until all veggies are softened but not soggy.
  • Add Cajun Alfredo sauce (you can cook it right in the skillet or in a separate pan), and green onions.
  • When sauce is thickened and everything is cooked and coated, let cool a few minutes to continue thickening, and then add the pasta right before you’re ready to eat. If you add pasta too soon, it can suck up all the sauce and be dry.

Cajun Alfredo Sauce

Ingredients:
1 cup milk (this time I used 2%, but would use skim if I had it)
1/4 cup almond milk
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp chicken bouillon powder
1 tbsp Cajun seasoning
2 packets laughing cow lite cheese (any flavor)
1 tbsp lite cream cheese
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp parmesan garlic cheese

Directions:

  • Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smoothly incorporated.
  • In a small sauce pan, bring just to a boil, stirring frequently, until thickened.