Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Parmesan Zucchini Wedges

Here's an easy side dish that accompanied my dinner tonight. Zucchini is one of my favorite vegetables because it's my low-carb answer to potatoes as a side dish. My favorite way to prepare potatoes is to roast them, and zucchini is a low-starch vegetable that holds up well to roasting. The sprinkle of Parmesan adds a nice salty bite, plus it gets melty in some places and crunchy in other places.

Though using non-stick spray on the pan along with oiled vegetables may seem like overkill, I find that even oiled veggies tend to stick when roasting, so I double up to make sure that I don't lose most of the vegetables on the pan.

Parmesan Zucchini Wedges

2 6-inch zucchini, cut lengthwise into wedges (4 wedges per zucchini)
2 tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper, to taste
non-stick cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Cover a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray; set aside.
3. Massage the oil, oregano, salt and pepper onto the zucchini. Place them on one cut side on the baking sheet and bake 10-15 minutes or until lightly golden; flip and roast on the other cut side for the same amount. Once they are fork tender, flip them onto their skin side and sprinkle with the cheese and bake until the cheese is melted.

Serving size: 4 wedges
Calories: 84
Fat: 5.2 g
Saturated fat: 1.4 g
Cholesterol: 4 mg
Sodium: 96 mg
Carbohydrates: 7 g
Fiber: 2.3 g
Protein: 4.3 g

Mushroom and Leek Stuffed Chicken Breasts

I was looking through a stack of recipes I had cut out from an old magazine, and found a section of recipes from the July 2005 issue of Fitness (yeah, I hang onto recipes for that long). The article featured 5 low-fat and fast dishes. Low-fat and fast are two important criteria for me when selecting a recipe. One of the recipes was for pan-roasted chicken breasts with mushrooms and leeks. It looked really good, but I figured I could cut back on the fat even more with less oil, as well as make it a little cheaper by swapping the shiitake mushrooms for regular button mushrooms. I kept the leeks---for some reason I think leeks are more special than onions, plus their texture couldn't be as easily duped as the mushrooms could. What was really great about this stuffed chicken was that the stuffing didn't have cheese in it, like chicken cordon bleu, which I associate bad wedding reception food. Cheesy stuffing often gloops out of the sides of the chicken, unlike this stuffing which stays put. Because this makes 2 servings and because I was able to get this ready in 30 minutes, I think this would be a great fast and healthy date night main course.

Mushroom and Leek Stuffed Chicken Breasts

1 leek
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup sliced mushrooms, any variety
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
2 chicken breasts (before cooking weight: approximately 5-oz each)
salt and pepper, to taste
non-stick cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 420 degrees F.
2. To clean the leek: remove the dark green part of the leek and the root end and discard. Cut the leek lengthwise and then cut thin half circle slices. Put the leek slices into a bowl of cold water and swish them around. The gritty sand will fall to the bottom as the leek slices float to the top. Remove the leeks and dry on paper towel or a clean kitchen towel.
3. In a medium non-stick (preferably oven-safe) skillet, heat 1 tsp of the olive oil. Add the leek slices, garlic, mushrooms, rosemary, and some salt and pepper and saute until the mixture is softened. Remove the leek mixture to the side. Set the skillet aside for later use.
4. With a paring knife, cut a small pocket in the top edge of one side of the chicken breast, being careful not to cut through the breast. Fill each breast with half of the mushroom-leek mixture. If the breast was punctured with the knife, secure any holes with a wooden toothpick.
5. Reheat the skillet over medium heat. Add the remaining oil and sear each side of the chicken until it is brown; it does not need to be cooked through. If using an oven-safe skillet, place the skillet into the oven and roast the chicken 10 minutes more or until the juices run clear. If not using an oven-safe skillet, place the chicken on a foil-lined baking sheet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Drizzle any pan juices over top the chicken. Roast the chicken for 10 minutes or until the juices run clear.
6. Once the chicken is out of the oven, let it rest for 5 minutes before cutting it into 3/4-inch slices. If toothpicks were used, remove before serving. Drizzle any pan juices over the chicken before serving.

Per chicken breast:
Calories: 310
Fat: 9.9 g
Saturated fat: 2.1 g
Cholesterol: 121 mg
Sodium: 116 mg
Carbohydrates: 7.6 g
Fiber: 1.3 g
Protein: 45.7 g

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Spaghetti with Lemon, Broccoli, and Ricotta Salata

When I was at Fresh Market earlier this week, I finally remembered to purchase some ricotta salata. I've wanted to try this cheese for quite some time. Of all the fancy cheeses at Fresh Market, this one was definitely in my budget.

Ricotta salata is the same thing as the soft ricotta cheese you can buy in a tub to use for dishes such a lasagna, however once it is aged it becomes firmer and is then called ricotta salata. It is a hard cheese similar to, however milder than, feta cheese, with a bright white color. It is ideal for grating and crumbling. Once it melts, it does not turn gooey or stringy like many other cheeses.

I chose to use some of the ricotta salata with a simple pasta dish. I wanted to make some spaghetti without the usual tomato sauce. For those cases, you generally rely on olive oil to moisten the pasta, but I wanted to keep the fat content down. Therefore, I made a reduced garlicky broth. To help decrease the calories of the pasta dish even more, I added broccoli for bulk. To lighten the flavor, I added lemon juice for brightness.

Spaghetti with Lemon, Broccoli, and Ricotta Salata

1 14.5 oz box spaghetti (preferably whole grain)
1 cup reserved pasta cooking water
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 tsp dried basil
4 cups fresh broccoli florets
2 tsp lemon zest
4 tsp lemon juice
4 oz ricotta salata, grated, plus more for garnish
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions in salted water. In the last 2 minutes of cooking, add the broccoli.
2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the oil, allow it to heat, then add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the broth and basil and bring the temperature to high. Cook the garlic broth until the broth has reduced by half, stirring frequently to prevent the garlic from scorching.
3. Once the broccoli and pasta are done, reserve the cup of cooking water, drain them and add them to the reduced garlic broth. Sprinkle over the lemon zest and juice, some salt and pepper, to taste, and the ricotta salata; toss to combine, adding pasta water, if necessary, to moisten.
4. Divide the pasta evenly amongst serving dishes, adding some grated ricotta salata for garnish.

Servings per recipe: 4
Per serving:
Calories: 439
Fat: 11.7 g
Saturated fat: 2.7 g
Cholesterol: 84 mg
Sodium: 127 mg
Carbohydrates: 65.7 g
Fiber: 4.4 g
Sugar: 1.8 g
Protein: 18.6 g

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Parmigiana di Melanzane

Being a cookbook lover goes hand-in-hand with being a food lover. Sitting and browsing through a stack of cookbooks brings me an immense amount of pleasure. Needless to say, I have acquired a vast amount of cookbooks over the years. The problem is, I love making up my own recipes so much that I often neglect my cookbooks.

Yesterday, however, I was inspired to open one of my favorite cookbooks. It's called Tastes of the Mediterranean; it's more of a magazine than a cookbook, but what I love about it is the fact that every recipe has a picture. If a cookbook doesn't have pictures, I'm typically very adverse to purchasing it. Anyway, back to my inspiration. In the cookbook, there is a recipe for Parmigiana di Melanzane, which is Italian baked eggplant with tomato and mozzarella. The reason the version in this book was so unique is that they made the eggplant almost like a twice-baked potato in that they took the guts of the eggplant out of a split eggplant, then made a filling, and baked the filling in the skin of the eggplant. I just bought some very small eggplant, which was required for the recipe, so I decided to try it out, which a few modifications. The baby eggplant make all the difference because they only have a few seeds, therefore they don't have the bitterness large eggplants do. I only like eggplant when it's meltingly tender, so by searing the eggplant, scraping out the flesh, cooking it in the sauce, and then baking it, I was sure the vegetable would be very soft, and it was. I made a shortcut in the recipe by using marinara sauce instead of canned tomatoes and herbs, however I'm sure both would be fine.

This recipe would be a good main course for two if each person had two eggplant halves, or it would be a good side dish or first course if each person had only half an eggplant.

Parmigiana di Melanzane

2 small eggplant (about 6-8 oz each)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup finely diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
14 oz chunky marinara sauce
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 cup reduced fat shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
non-stick cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Halve each eggplant lengthwise, keeping stems intact. Score the flesh by cutting a criss-cross pattern with the tip of a knife, being careful not to cut through the skin. Brush the cut sides of the eggplant with some of the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. Heat a skillet large enough to accommodate the eggplant over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant, cut-side down, and cook until the flesh is deeply browned. While the cut-side is cooking, brush the skin with the remaining oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Once the cut-side is browned, flip the eggplant and cook until the skin is softened and the flesh is fully softened. Set the eggplant aside.
4. Reduce the heat in the skillet to medium, and add the onion and garlic. Saute until the onion is translucent, then add the marinara and basil. Allow the sauce to simmer.
5. Meanwhile, using a melon baller or spoon, scrape the eggplant flesh from the skin, being careful not to tear the skin; leave approximately at quarter inch of flesh clinging to the skin of the eggplant. Chop the eggplant flesh and add it to the sauce, increasing the heat of the pan to high to allow the sauce to thicken and reduce, about 10 minutes.
6. Once the sauce is thickened, add half of each cheese and stir to combine. Divide the sauce mixture between each of the eggplant skins, using two spoons to help control the stringy melted cheese. Place them in a non-reactive 9x13 baking dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Cover the pan with foil and bake in the oven for 1 hour.
7. After one hour, remove the foil and sprinkle over the rest of the cheeses. Continue to bake until the cheeses are melted. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the eggplant to rest 5 minutes before serving.

Per eggplant half:
Calories: 242
Fat: 13.7 g
Saturated fat: 3.7 g
Cholesterol: 12 mg
Sodium: 605 mg
Carbohydrates: 21.2 g
Fiber: 6.1 g
Sugar: 11.5 g
Protein: 9.3 g

Monday, June 22, 2009

Haricots Verts with Walnuts and Caramelized Onions

I had a friend who needed to be picked up from the airport in Savannah today, and I went along for the ride because afterwards we went to some of the nice supermarkets there. Of course we went to Fresh Market, where I got some veggies and some sushi for lunch, which we ate in the air-conditioned car in the parking lot. We also found an Indian market, called the Patel market. The owners were eager for us to try some of the snack foods that their wives make homemade. It was one of those situations where I had no idea what I was eating, but it tasted good and that's all that matters. It was mainly crispy fried cereals and peanuts mixed with different varieties of spices. I'll have to go back again sometime to stock up on their spices.

Anyway, back to the veggies I bought at Fresh Market. I bought some haricots verts---which are really thin French green beans. They're pretty much my favorite vegetable. I like them to be cooked just until the raw flavor is out, but the crunch remains. To make these beans more special, I added sweet caramelized onions and toasted walnuts. The bitterness of the walnuts balances out the sweet onions. Despite the simple preparation of these beans, they make an elegant side dish.

Haricots Verts with Walnuts and Caramelized Onions

1 lb haricots verts or very thin green beans, stems trimmed but left long
1/3 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced sweet onion, such as Vidalia
1 tsp organic cane sugar
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the haricots verts and cook them for 4 minutes, or until they are tender-crisp. Remove them from the boiling water and add them to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process and then place them on a clean kitchen towel to absorb the excess water.
2. Meanwhile, heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the walnuts and toast them a few minutes or until they are darker and fragrant. Remove the walnuts from the pan and wipe the pan clean with paper towel.
3. Reheat the medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add two tsp of the oil, allow it to warm, then add the onions. Move the onions in the pan to coat them with oil, then sprinkle over the sugar and some salt and pepper. Saute the onions until they are golden.
4. Add the haricots verts and walnuts to the onions, along with the remaining oil, and allow the haricots verts to warm thoroughly. Re-season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Servings per recipe: 4
Per serving:
Calories: 148
Fat: 10.8 g
Saturated fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 8 mg
Carbohydrates: 11.5 g
Fiber: 4.8 g
Sugar: 3.4 g
Protein: 4.7 g

Monday, June 15, 2009

Curried Lentil and Chickpea Soup

I gave my blog a summer face lift. It's so hot outside, I wanted to look at nice, cool colors. The icy blue was actually inspired by some of Nigella Lawson's cooking shows. She is definitely one of my favorite celebrity chefs and I've been watching several of her programs on youtube lately. She has lovely icy blue measuring cups, which were the source of my color inspiration.

Onto tonight's dinner: my pantry saved me again by providing lentils and chickpeas. I wasn't intending to cook this in the crockpot initially, but it's so hot out I just didn't want to heat a burner up (although eating soup when it's blazingly hot out may make the who thing a wash anyway...). I wanted to make this soup reminiscent of the lentil soups that started many of my meals at my favorite Indian restaurants back where I did my undergrad. Those soups had a thing lentil broth with a light curry flavor. I added chickpeas for texture and to add heartiness. All the ingredients are thrown into the crockpot, except some garam masala, which is added at the end to add a second layer of spice. The garlic hits you first when you bite into the soup, and because of the garam masala, there is a nice anise flavor at the end of each bite. Chole masala would work equally well in this. Also, because the chickpeas are cooked and the lentils cook so quickly, this could be made on the stove top. Saute off the onions and garlic in a soup pot, then pour in the rest of the ingredients and finish with the garam masala, just like the original recipe. Leftovers will thicken as they sit in the fridge, so add a little water to the soup before reheating, or serve some of the soup with rice for more of a curry-type dish than a soup.

Curried Lentil and Chickpea Soup

1 cup light green lentils
4 cups vegetable broth
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp curry powder
generous pinch cinnamon
1/2 cup diced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp garam masala or chole masala
chopped cilantro or parsley and fresh lemon juice to garnish (optional)

1. Add the lentils to a colander and rinse them and pick through for any stones.
2. Add the lentils and all the ingredients through the salt and pepper, to taste, to the crockpot. Cook on high 6-8 hours or low 8-10 hours or until the lentils are soft.
3. Add the garam masala before serving. Also, mash some of the chickpeas and lentils with a spoon to thicken the soup. Serve, garnished with some chopped cilantro or parsley and a spritz of fresh lemon juice.

Servings per recipe: 6
Per serving:
Calories: 407
Fat: 5.8 g
Saturated fat: 0.8 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 530 mg
Carbohydrates: 64.9 g
Fiber: 22.6 g
Protein: 25.6 g

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Crockpot Black Bean Soup

This week I cleaned out the pantry and I found so many dried beans and lentils I decided I needed to utilize them. I had some black beans, so I decided to make a soup with them in my crockpot. I think a lot of people are turned off by dried beans because there's the whole soaking overnight and cooking on the stove for hours, however using a crockpot eliminates most of the problem. For larger beans, soaking may be necessary even when using the crockpot, but for smaller beans like black beans, soaking isn't necessary at all. Thanks to the crockpot, there's no reason not to cook such an inexpensive protein source like beans.

I prefer black bean soup made from dried beans because they seem to thicken the broth more successfully than canned beans. This soup is very customizable because you can make it more or less spicy, you can garnish it with whatever you want, you can add rice, sausage, chorizo...the possibilities are endless.

Crockpot Black Bean Soup

1 cup dried black beans
3/4 cup diced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1 14.5-oz can petite diced tomatoes
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
green chilies, minced, to taste (optional)
garnishes: shredded cheese, sour cream, sliced scallions, diced onion, whatever you like!

1. Place the beans in a colander and rinse them until the water runs clear.
2. Add the beans along with the rest of the ingredients (except garnishes) to the crockpot.
3. Turn the crockpot on and cook on high for 6-8 hours or low 8-10 hours.
4. Serve immediately with garnishes.

Servings per recipe: 3
Per serving:
Calories: 266
Fat: 1.4 g
Saturated fat: 0.3 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 408 mg
Carbohydrates: 50 g
Fiber: 12.2 g
Sugar: 6.2 g
Protein: 15.8 g

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Hoisin Soba Noodles and Tofu

After I am done reading magazines, I like to flip through and tear out any recipes that may be in some of the articles or advertisements, and then I place the recipes in a 3-ring binder. Over the past few years, I have collected so many recipes I have 3 binders filled now. As I was doing some cleaning, I decided to flip through one of the binders and found a recipe from the March 2008 issue of Health for Hoisin Chicken with Soba Noodles. I basically had most of the ingredients, and decided to loosely base my dinner off of the recipe.

Soba noodles are thin Japanese noodles make of buckwheat. These noodles can be served either hot or cold. Because of their dark color, I thought they would have a heavy flavor, but I was surprised to find their flavor and texture to be as light as regular pasta. The one thing about cooking soba is that it's important not to just time their cooking, but also taste them, because they can go from just right to too mushy in a matter of minutes.

Hoisin sauce has a complex almost barbecue sauce-like flavor. The soba and tofu can be quite bland, but the hoisin adds complexity and assertive flavor to these plain ingredients with little effort. Initially, I was turned off by the combination of hoisin and mustard, which is another ingredient in this dish, but once I tasted them together, I found that they accentuated each other. The hoisin is sweet and slightly smokey, and the mustard balances those flavors with an acidic bite.

Even though I loved all of the components of the recipe, my favorite part was the peanuts because of their crunch. They also added a pop of nutty flavor at the end of each bite that cut through the zestiness of the noodle sauce. I wouldn't have enjoyed this half as much without the peanuts!

Here's something to keep in mind while you're broiling the tofu: while you're broiling, your broiler may get too hot and shut off, thus taking forever to broil the tofu. To solve that problem, here's a tip I learned from Alton Brown, who hosts the show Good Eats on Food Network. Alton suggests making a little aluminum foil rod and inserting it into the door before closing it, thus keeping the door cracked and keeping the broiler on. This would be a great way to use aluminum foil that's already been used for another purpose and is already crinkled up. Hooray for reducing and reusing!

Hoisin Soba Noodles and Tofu

1 lb extra firm tofu
1 cup vegetable broth
4 tbsp soy sauce
8 oz soba noodles
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp Sriracha hot sauce, or to taste (optional)
1 tsp spicy mustard
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
1/2 cup scallions sliced on a bias
1/4 cup finely chopped unsalted dry roasted peanuts

1. To remove the excess liquid from the tofu, remove the tofu from the package and place it on a plate. Place another plate on top and add a weight, like a big canned good or a full tea kettle. Press the tofu for 20 minutes and discard any liquid that comes out.
2. Combine the vegetable broth and 4 tbsp of the soy sauce in a small container.
3. Cut the tofu into 2 fillets by slicing through the narrowest part of the tofu. Place the tofu in the broth mixture and marinate it in the fridge at least 1 hour or overnight.
4. To prepare the soba, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the soba and cook according to package directions. In the last 3 minutes of cooking, add the carrots.
5. Meanwhile, cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and place the tofu on top. Heat the broiler and broil the tofu by placing it on a rack that is at least 8 minutes from the heating coils. Cook the tofu until it browns on one side; flip. On the second side, baste with one tbsp of the hoisin. When the hoisin begins to darken and have a crackly texture, flip again and baste with another tbsp of hoisin. Cook until this side darkens and the hoisin looks crackly, then remove and cut into 16 slices.
6. Drain the soba and carrots and return them to their cooking pan. Place the noodles on the hot burner they were cooked on, however turn the burner off. Add the 1/4 cup hoisin, 2 tbsp soy sauce, hot sauce, mustard, and scallions and toss until the scallions begin to wilt.
7. Place some noodles on each plate, top each serving with 4 slices of tofu, then sprinkle with the peanuts. Serve immediately.

Servings per recipe: 4
Per serving:
Calories: 405
Fat: 10.8 g
Saturated fat: 1.9 g
Cholesterol: 1 mg
Sodium: 1364 mg
Carbohydrates: 62.6 g
Fiber: 4.1 g
Sugar: 10.1 g
Protein: 21.7 g

Monday, June 8, 2009

Multi-Colored Pasta Salad

For the camping trip this past weekend, I brought a pasta salad along with the brownies. When I went to the store to get ingredients for the salad, I didn't have a clear idea of what was going to be in the salad. I basically grabbed different ingredients that I thought would meld well together. I got the chickpeas for protein, and the black olives for richness, and and orange bell pepper for color. Because this is Georgia, I got Vidalia onions to add some mild heat to the salad. I got multi-colored rotini because I wanted plenty of color in the salad. I found some Hodgson Mills rotini that are naturally colored with vegetable juices instead of funky artificial colorings.

Multi-Colored Pasta Salad

3 cups uncooked multi-colored rotini, or other bite-sized pasta
8 oz frozen thawed cauliflower
1 4-oz sliced black olives
1 15-oz can chickpeas
1/2 bell pepper, any color, cut into a large dice
1/4 cup minced sweet onion, such as Vidalia
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
4 tbsp fresh lemon juice (or the juice of 1 lemon)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
2 tbsp unbleached organic cane sugar
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Cook the pasta according to package direction in salted water. Once the pasta is al dente, drain it and immediately cool it in cold running water to rinse off the excess starch.
2. While the pasta is cooking, add the cauliflower, olives, chickpeas, bell peppers, and onions to the salad bowl.
3. To make the dressing, in a small bowl, blend the vinegar, lemon juice, oregano, bail, sugar, and salt and pepper together. Slowly drizzle the oil into the vinegar mixture while whisking.
4. Toss the pasta with the vegetables and the dressing. Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Servings per recipe: 12
Per serving:
Calories: 253
Fat: 8.5 g
Saturated fat: 1.1 g
Cholesterol: 12 mg
Sodium: 99 mg
Carbohydrates: 36 g
Fiber: 7.5 g
Sugar: 6.8 g
Protein: 9.2 g

Friday, June 5, 2009

Reduced Fat Espresso Brownies

Tomorrow I'm going camping with my friends, and I wanted to gear up with some crowd-friendly, easy to eat food. For some reason, brownies seemed to make sense. I went browsing on foodnetwork.com and I found a recipe by Giada de Laurentiis for espresso brownies. Her recipe had a box brownie mix base but was amped up with espresso made from espresso powder, chocolate chips, and an espresso frosting. While I am not one to normally use boxed mixes, I am a busy lady and if using a box mix is the only way I can have time to make brownies, then box mix it is! With all the additions to the mix, I'm sure you can fool a lot of people into thinking this is a homemade product.

Because I will be traveling, I decided to nix the frosting of the original recipe and instead add an extra sprinkle of chocolate chips as well as chunks of walnuts. Instead of making espresso from espresso powder and water, I used freshly brewed espresso. Also, to lighten the calorie and fat load, I used only egg whites and substituted applesauce for the oil. The result is a brownie that is still quite rich despite the use of egg whites and applesauce, with lots of bittersweet chocolate flavor and crunchy walnuts. The flavor of the espresso accentuates the chocolate and balances the sweetness of the brownie mix.

Reduced Fat Espresso Brownies

1 (19.8 oz) box fudge-style brownie mix (I used Duncan Hines)
4 egg whites
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup freshly brewed espresso (or very strong coffee)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup coarsely-chopped walnuts
non-stick cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Blend the brownie mix, egg whites, applesauce, and espresso until the mix is moistened. Make sure the coffee or espresso are not really hot because it could scramble the egg white into the mix (yuck).
3. Fold in half of the nuts and 3/4 of the chocolate chips into the mix.
4. Spray a 9x13" baking pan with cooking spray. Pour in the brownie mix and sprinkle with the remaining chocolate chips and nuts.
5. Bake the brownies for 27-30 minutes or until the brownies shrink away from the edges and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.
6. Allow to cool before cutting.

Makes 24 brownies
Per brownie:
Calories: 169
Fat: 7.4 g
Saturated fat: 2.2 g
Cholesterol: 2 mg
Sodium: 92 mg
Carbohydrates: 24.5 g
Sugar: 4.2 g
Protein: 2.8 g

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Japonica Rice and Edamame Salad

In one of my previous posts, I mentioned eating lunch at Bloomingfoods, a health food store in Bloomington, Indiana. Several of the prepared salads on their salad bar really made an impression on me. One of them was a red rice salad with edamame. I love rice salads made with nutty wild-type rices. These types of rices hold their shape in salad dressing and don't get gummy like their white counterparts. The fibrous hull on the outside gets nice and chewy in a chilled salad. Adding crunchy vegetables to a rice salad adds even more texture. I made my version, now that I am back in Georgia, with a rice blend called japonica rice from Lundberg Farms. I always enjoy Lundberg farms products. This rice in particular combines black and mahogany rices. The color of the rice once cooked, however, is an inky purple, which beautifully contrasts chartreuse edamame and bright orange bell peppers. This is a nice salad to remind me of a fun weekend with my family.

Japonica Rice and Edamame Salad

1 cup red, black, mahogany, or wild rice (or any combo of those types of rices)
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups shelled edamame (thawed frozen or blanched fresh)
2 scallions, sliced
1/2 red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp unbleached organic cane sugar
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Cook the rice according to package directions using the vegetable broth instead of water.
2. Meanwhile, blend the oil, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper in the bottom of the salad bowl.
3. When the rice is ready, toss the rice, edamame, scallions, and bell pepper in the salad bowl with the dressing.
4. Chill the salad at least one hour, tossing before serving.

Servings per recipe: 4
Per serving:
Calories: 334
Fat: 11.7 g
Saturated fat: 1.9 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 395 mg
Carbohydrates: 49.1 g
Fiber: 5.2 g
Sugar: 6.9 g
Protein: 16.1 g
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