Snackage: Spinach & Artichoke Dip

Hello People!

Yum, yum, yum & yum! This is all you will say when you try this recipe. It is one of my favorites. It’s up there with my delicious Hummus recipe as “Wow! This is amazing!” I hope you can try it out. It can not only be used as the classic dip with crackers and/or vegetables, but it can also be used as a vegetarian filling for wraps or sandwiches. You could have it with eggs, or even stirred into some other type of sautéed vegetable you are having for dinner. Or how about mixed into your favorite type of pasta? Go crazy with it because it is delicious! I can’t get over how low calorie it is too.

Note: This serves 20; I often change up the cheese on top depending on mood; I highly suggest the use of organic products when it comes to dairy; and grate your own cheeses for optimum flavor, especially parmesan.

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Spinach & Artichoke Dip

  • Non-Stick Cooking Spray or 2 tsp. Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped  White or Brown Onion
  • 2, 10-oz packages of Frozen Spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry; chopped
  • 1, 8-oz package of Non-Fat Cream Cheese
  • 1, 8-oz carton of Light Sour Cream
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1, 14-oz can Artichoke Hearts, drained and chopped
  • pinch of Red Pepper flakes to taste
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 cup Reduced Fat Jack Cheese, shredded

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  1. Lightly coat a skillet with cooking spray or olive oil. Cook and stir onion over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add spinach; cook until thoroughly heated, 2 minutes.
  3. Reduce heat and add cream cheese.  Stir until melted and smooth.
  4. Stir in sour cream, parmesan cheese and artichokes; heat through another 2 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and season with peppers and salt to taste.
  6. Dump mixture into a microwave safe dish and top with grated jack cheese and heat until cheese melts.

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Recipe from: Shape Magazine, June 2000 created by Evelyn Tribole, M.S., R.D., a nutritionist in Irvine, CA

Total Calories for Whole Recipe: 1,506

Per Serving: (4 Tablespoons or 1/4 cup) cals 75, 38% fat (3.1 g; 2.2 saturated), 25% carbs (20 g), 8 g fiber

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Meal Snapshot: Black Bean Burger

Hello People!

I mentioned a few blog posts ago that I would show you a pix of a recent meal I had/made of a black bean burger recipe. Here is the final product.  It was paired with a salad with Ceasar dressing that I bought from the grocery store.  As mentioned in the earlier post, the taste was good, but the burger fell apart when eating making a giant mess.  Oh well, more recipes for me to try to perfect it!

A Yummy Lunch!

A Yummy Lunch!

Snackage: Restaurant Style Hummus

Restaurant Style Hummus

This is the Artichoke version

This is the Artichoke version

So today’s post is about the yummiest of hummus recipes.  It’s not the ingredients that make this recipe so amazing, it’s the process of pureeing the ingredients together that creates a heavenly texture. Believe me when I say “this is the best recipe you will find for hummus – EVER!”  I have made this for friends and family and it has been gobbled up in no time flat.  If you don’t like hummus, then I guess this isn’t the post for you and you probably aren’t reading it in the first place!  Those of us who adore hummus probably already know of it’s great health benefits being that it is made from garbanzo beans ( a superfood, nonetheless), olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and other good things.

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Here is the ingredient list:

  • 3 Tbsp juice from 1 to 2 Lemons
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • 6 Tbsp Tahini, stirred well
  • 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 (14 oz) can of Chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 small Garlic Clove, minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • 1/2 tsp Table Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Cumin
  • Pinch Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro or parsley leaves

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Here’s how to make it:

  1. Combine lemon juice and water in a small bowl or measuring cup.  Whisk together tahini and 2 Tbsp oil in second small bowl or measuring cup.  set aside 2 Tbsp chickpeas for garnish.
  2. Process remaining chickpeas, garlic, salt, cumin, and cayenne pepper in food processor until almost fully ground, about 15 seconds (picture A).  Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula.  With machine running, add lemon juice-water mixture in steady stream through feed tube (picture B).  Scrape down bowl and continue to process for 1 minute.  with machine running, add oil-tahini mixture in steady stream through feed tube; continue to process until hummus is smooth and creamy, about 15 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed (picture C). Do not stop machine to add the wet ingredients!!!
  3. Transfer hummus to serving bowl, sprinkle reserved chickpeas and cilantro and/or parsley over surface, cover with plastic wrap, and let stand until flavors meld, at least 30 minutes.  Drizzle with olive oil, and serve.
picture A

picture A

picture B

picture B

picture C

picture C

I want to mention that this a recipe for Plain Hummus (but not plain, I can assure you!).  You can add to this basic recipe whatever extra flavors tickle your fancy.  Add artichokes – drained and chopped, roasted garlic, smoked paprika, sun-dried tomatoes, curry…etc.  This is a never ending bowl of happiness right here!  Just make sure if you are counting calories to limit your helpings.  I usually eat between 2 Tbsp to 1/4 cup at a time, depending on the size of my snack/meal. I allot 70 calories to 2 Tbsp.

Recipe stolen from: Cook’s Illustrated magazine; May/June 2008 edition

Something Different

Foodie Friday: Something Different

Hello People!

Before I began my blog, I always loved to cook and collect cookbooks.  Amazon really knows what kind of cookbooks I’d be interested in too; so the collection is quite large and ever growing.  Before I began this blog I also enjoyed just reading about food and how chefs interpret food for their customers. Some can be quite passionate about texture, flavor, color, ripeness, etc.  imagesOne of the books I stumbled upon during this food-reading-frenzy was Tamar Adler’s “An Everlasting Meal.”  OMG…this book is the bomb diggity of food reads!  I read a page out of this book every night before I go to bed just to calm myself down and remind myself that there are still good things left in this world.  Her prose is astonishing.  The way she weaves words and sentences together to describe what she likes to cook is mouth-watering.  It is nothing less than inspirational.

It’s not like a normal cookbook that only contains recipes matched with large high-def photos, which are highly styled. (It has no photos for the record)  It contains long written passages about food and different ways of preparing one type of food depending on what you are feeling or just what happens to be lying around in the fridge/counter/pantry. She teaches you how not to waste anything either.  Don’t throw out your water that you boiled your cauliflower in! It can be used as the basis of a flavorful soup that may or may not contain cauliflower.  Save excess oil that you sauté vegetables in as well.  That oil is now double flavored.  She says her fridge is loaded with little viles and jars full of mysterious contents dueUnknown to her “saving” technique. Making your food taste scrumptious is her goal.  No dry boring sandwich for her.  Load it up with melting mozzarella cheese and “garlicky greens.”  Never heard of that before? There are so many more creative ideas that frankly sound down-right delicious.

Why am I featuring this on a weight loss blog? Because it is all healthy food that she is recommending. Healthy food made to be out-of-this-world fabulous!  Losing weight or not, eating healthy, tasty food is a good idea.

Some quotes I like:

“Let the stock sit in the refrigerator overnight to give its fat time to rise to the top.  The following day, scoop the fat off with a spoon.  Save it in a jar.  Use it as you would butter or olive oil.  Once you have stock, you will have already half cooked a number of meals.”

“I taught a class in butchery one spring, instructing students in how to take apart chickens and remove bones from legs of lamb.  At the end of each class, because nearly everyone rejected my suggestion that bones go home with her, I took them home myself.”  Personal note: I have done this at friend’s homes where I take the bones home while being stared at like I’m a maniac.

A typical “recipe”: “Warm some garlicky sautéed cooking greens in a pan.  Find left-over roasted squash and season it with a little red wine vinegar, dig out some olives and a wedge of Parmesan cheese.  Put grits or polenta in a bowl, assemble your leftovers on top, drizzle with balsamic vinegar or olive oil, or broth, and grate it all heavily with Parmesan cheese.”

“Most of us regard beans with suspicion, as we do stale bread and cooking in water.  Prejudices are always best dispatched, but not always unfounded.  When food is boiled badly, it’s fair to turn away from it, and if stale bread isn’t cooked with, or toasted, but served dry and harsh, it’s awful.”

What to do if you overcook something: “Mash overboiled vegetables with a little butter and herbs and warm them slowly in a little pot, and call it mashed turnips, or mashed potatoes, or whatever it is you’ve mashed.  Or after mixing in butter and herbs spread it all into a buttered casserole, bake it until it starts to bubble, sprinkle the top with toasted breadcrumbs, return it to the oven until they brown, and serve it as a gratin.”

The French Paradox cont.

Foodie Friday: The French Paradox (Part Two)

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And the answer to yesterday’s tease is….

I will eat structured meals with more of an emphasis on flavor rather than lower calories.

Unknown-2“What does that mean?” you may ask.  Well, first of all, in the book, Losing It in France by Sally Asher, there are detailed menus for a full week showing the structure of a typical French “diet.”  She demonstrates that even though the French eat full fat butter, cheese, cream etc., etc., their diets are balanced and portions are small but satisfying. Following her observation, I’m coordinating my menus to match, in a sense, her outline of a daily eating plan. Now, mind you, I’m still counting calories because I am in the phase of losing weight and I don’t want to just free-style, yet.  Now let me tell you a story about something I experienced recently that correlates to all of this French eating style.

A few months ago, right before I began this blog I went off of dieting for the first time in 20 years.  My usual plan of attack for a diet was to count calories and that was pretty much it.  No real rules or strict food concepts.  I did eat mostly balanced meals, but as I’ve stated before, it wasn’t the days I was following the plan that kept me fat, it was the days off – which were far, far, far too many in a week.  Back to me going off the “diet,” I wanted to clear out some food in refrigerator and freezer because it was overflowing with too much stuff.  So, I found recipes that used the ingredients I had on hand and measured out portions that seemed reasonable based on the recipe’s recommendations.  Lo and behold! Would you believe it? I stepped on the scale right before Thanksgiving and saw to my amazement that I had dropped 7 pounds since starting this non-diet!  My strategy was just to eat normal looking portions, cook meals that weren’t too fattening, exercise, and stop eating when I felt full (I think that this was key). This is essentially the way Sally describes how the French eat.  They eat what they like, in reasonable non-typical American sized portions, and quit when they are satisfied.

Now, I know that some will think that this is funny because they believe that their hunger is NEVER satisfied.  That’s yourimages-4 leptin hormone not responding. (This is a topic for another day, but it probably has mostly to do with what you are eating.)  I believe that when one really sits down to eat a decent meal, focuses on what they are eating WITH NO DISTRACTIONS, they will become more in tune with their body’s needs. Stuffing food down one’s face on the run will never give you satisfaction because you aren’t tasting the food, not to mention chewing it sufficiently for proper digestion.  Sure, it may fill you up for a while, but the experience is not the same as sitting quietly at a table and eating a balanced meal with your full attention.  I don’t know why this works, but I can tell you friends, IT DOES.

For me, eating meals that focus on lower calories usually lack flavor.  This isn’t always true ( Cook This, Not That!), but for the images-1most part, it can be.  When I cook meals that seem reasonably balanced with all types of ingredients, the flavor and taste satisfaction do a lot to fill me up.  Granted, I’m still trying to not eat a lot of flour or sugar, but I’m also one who doesn’t really believe in eliminating foods, including treats.  It’s about balance and paying attention to your body’s fulfillment.  I went through all of my cookbooks and grabbed the one’s that were penned by French chef’s or cooks.  I’m planning and cookingUnknown meals based off of these recipes.  The food is great, full of vegetables, and keeps me full until the next meal.  I really can’t go back to eating low calorie things like Laughing Cow cheese or lite breads.  Why?  Your satisfaction will be better fulfilled eating the real thing. Cravings don’t pop up as often because you’re eating real food all the time; then you don’t spend all of your time dreaming about your “next real meal!”

images-2One more thing, I mentioned in the last post that now I drink wine, eat a cheese course and have dessert.  However, I don’t do this every day or even all at the same time.  It depends on if I can afford the calories that day.  Usually I can and I choose which one’s I want to enjoy.  Sometimes, crazy enough, I don’t want it because I don’t crave it.  It’s like pure magic: once you allow yourself to eat what you want, everything isn’t taboo and you aren’t climbing the walls to eat more, more, more.

I could go on and on.  Really this is just a scratch on the surface.  But I think it’s important, especially for Americans who have gotten spoiled and lazy in their ways of eating. It’s worth thinking about…

Great Nutritional Read

Today’s Inspirational Sunday Post:

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Just a quick tip for today.  I absolutely love, love, love, love, love (did I mention LOVE!) the tiny little publication called nutrition-actionNutrition Action Health Letter that comes out monthly.  Michael F. Jacobson, Ph.D. is theimages Executive Director of the mag and always has an insightful memo to readers on the flip side of the front page.  He is associated with the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

A few article titles include:

  • “The Healthy Cook” LOVE this because it always has recipes
  • “Brainmakers, Can Popping Pills Preserve Memory?”
  • “Right Stuff / Food Porn” compares two similar products w/ very different results
  • “Food Rumors, Have You Heard?”
  • “Multiplex, What You Need to Know About Multivitamins”
  • “Gluten Free Confusion, Separating Fact from Fiction”
  • “Pastabilities, How to Find a Super Sauce”
  • “Carbo Loading, Do You Overdo Refined Grains?”
  • “Achoo! How to Avoid Catching a Cold”
  • “Pizza for One, How to Have It Your Way”
  • “Metabolic Meltdown, How a Spare Tire Leads to Diabetes & Heart Disease”
  • “Dress It Up, How to Make Your Salad Spin”
  • “Living In a Microbial World, Learning to Love Your Bacteria”
  • “Beyond Bread, Think Thin”
  • “Gut Myths? Clearing Up Confusion in the GI Tract”

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I really can’t say enough amazing things about this magazine.  The guys/gals that write and research the articles are major health aficionados who REALLY CARE about making the public aware of what is healthy and what is bologna. The recipes are the bomb, full of fresh produce and lean meats; often times vegetarian in nature that would make a carnivore’s mouth water.  A healthy cook couldn’t ask for more.  The comparison article featured in every issue called “Right Stuff / Food Porn” makes one think twice about heading out to Hagen Daas for an ice-cream confection; or how to face the frozen food section in your neighborhood grocery store.  PLEASE subscribe to this magazine.  It will be a major benefit to help you stay inspired for eating and living well.

Nutrition Action