Ahhh! What is that Delectable Smell?

There are few things better than the mouthwatering smell of dinner wafting to your nose as you drag yourself into your house after a long, hard day at work! That’s the beauty of crockpot recipes! And the simpler, the better!

My daughter-in-law shared this easy crockpot recipe with me that she found in a Taste of Home magazine…

Beef Stroganoff

2 lbs beef stew meat, cut into one inch cubes
1 can cream of celery soup, undiluted
1 can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 medium onion chopped (optional, as the onion soup mix also has onion in it)
1 jar sliced mushrooms, drained
1 envelope onion soup mixBeef Stroganoff
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup sour cream
Hot cooked Noodles (or whole grain rice)

Preparation

In a 3 qt. slow cooker, combine the first seven ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or until beef is tender. Stir in sour cream. Serve over noodles or rice.

To reduce the fat, use reduced fat soups and sour cream. It is such an easy recipe but the end result tastes like you slaved for hours over a stove!!

And what about that southern tradition of  pinto beans with fatback or ham? I didn’t want to give those up when I started eating healthier, so I started searching for a better way to season my pintos. And I found it! I now use Lisy Pinto Bean Seasoning. It contains zero calories and zero fat! Here is my new way to cook pinto beans…

Pinto Beans

3 cups dry beans
1 Tbsp Salt
1 Tbsp Pinto Bean Seasoning

Preparation

Pinto Bean SeasoningAdd beans to 3 qt. crockpot and cover with water. Let soak overnight. Drain in the morning and rinse. Add the beans back into the crockpot. Add 10 cups of water, the salt and pinto bean seasoning. Cook on low 8 – 10 hours.

The result is truly as delicious as beans cooked with ham. In fact, my husband has told me that he prefers his beans cooked this way! Serve it up with onions or chow chow and it’s a meal that’s hard to beat as far as we southerners are concerned!!

Please visit my Pinterest page for more healthy crockpot recipes. I will continue to add more as I discover them or as you share your favorites with me. If you have a healthy recipe that your family loves or some great tips on how to cook or eat healthier, I would love to hear about it so that I can add them to my collection of recipes and tips, as well as share them in my blog posts so others can benefit.

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Fire Up the Grill!

One of the things that I love most about summer is grilling out. And fortunately, that is one of the healthiest ways to cook! One of my favorite meats to grill out is chicken because it is so versatile. With the many different marinades that can be applied to chicken, it never has to get boring.

I found these great tips regarding marinating chicken at About.com

“Chicken, especially boneless, skinless chicken breasts, usually tastes better and has a better texture if marinated before cooking. Marinades combine an acid, like lemon juice, yogurt, or vinegar, with some oil and flavoring ingredients like salt, pepper, herbs, fruits, and mustard.

  • If marinating time is longer than one hour, place the marinating chicken in the refrigerator.
  • Reduce oil in the marinade for more flavor. The best marinade (unlike the best salad dressing) is about half oil and half acid.
  • Chicken shouldn’t be marinated longer than called for in the recipe. The chicken can become mushy if marinated too long, as the acid breaks down the flesh.
  • Use fresh herbs whenever possible. If you are using dried herbs, crush them between your fingers to release aromatic oils before adding to the marinade.
  • Mix your marinade right in a heavy-duty zip-lock food storage bag. Add the chicken, squish a bit to mix, then refrigerate.
  • Place the bag containing the chicken and marinade on a pan or in a bowl to prevent leakage.
  • To cook marinated chicken, just lift out of the marinade and place on the grill or pan. Don’t rinse or dry with paper towels.
  • You can brush some of the marinade on the chicken as it cooks, but be sure to stop adding uncooked marinade 3-5 minutes before cooking time ends for food safety reasons.
  • Discard any remaining marinade. You can place it in a small saucepan and boil for 2-3 minutes, then serve as a sauce for the chicken. Never serve uncooked marinade.”

I also found more great tips, as well as 15 Healthy Chicken Marinade Recipes, on the BeWellPhilly website.

As well, a friend of mine passed along the following marinade to me. It is best when you use fresh spices. It tastes as good (if not better) than it looks!!

Grilled Lemon Rosemary Chicken
Grilled Lemon Rosemary Chicken

4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Fillet the chicken breasts. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl or Ziploc bag for 20 minutes (no more than 30 minutes or the lemon juice will start to cook the chicken) and then grill.

I hope I have helped you to discover some new marinades that you haven’t tried. Please visit my Pinterest page for more healthy recipes. I will continue to add more as I discover them or as you share your favorites with me. If you have a healthy recipe that your family loves or some great tips on how to cook or eat healthier, I would love to hear about it so that I can add them to my collection of recipes and tips, as well as share them in my blog posts so others can benefit.

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Healthy Desserts – Is that an Oxymoron?

Not necessarily. While most desserts are not exactly healthy, there are many delicious desserts that can be made healthier by substituting ingredients, as we discussed in one of my earlier blog posts, “The Dreaded Terrific Lasagna.”

Let’s look at a southern favorite: Banana Pudding. I was given this recipe by a dear friend years ago and it is still one of my family’s favorite desserts (in fact, my husband was quite excited that I had to make one so I could take a picture for this blog).

Banana Pudding 1You can see that I have substituted many of the ingredients for low fat ingredients, yet it still tastes delish!

No Bake Banana Pudding

6 Bananas
1 ½ cups 2% milk
1 can Low Fat Sweetened Condensed Milk
16 oz Whipped Topping Lite
1 small pkg. French Vanilla Instant Pudding
4 oz Low Fat Cream Cheese
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 box Vanilla Wafers

Beat pudding and milk together until smooth. In another bowl, cream the cream cheese, and then add sweetened condensed milk and vanilla extract. Mix both mixtures together and beat until well blended. Fold in half of cool whip. Fold bananas into mixture. Layer vanilla wafers in bottom and sides of 9” x 12” dish. Add pudding mixture. Top with remaining cool whip.

If you are out and about and craving something sweet, try the Fruit ‘n Yogurt
Parfait at McDonald’s. At only 150 calories and 2 grams of fat, it is one of my favorite on-the-go desserts. Or you can visit a local frozen yogurt parlor (but be sure to add more fruit instead of the sugary toppings and syrups). For us here in Wytheville, that would be Sweet Chill. We love Sweet Chill!!

I have posted more dessert recipes on my Pinterest page and will continue to add more as I discover them or as you share your favorites with me. If you have a healthy recipe that your family loves or some great tips on how to cook or eat healthier, I would love to hear about it so that I can add them to my collection of recipes and tips, as well as share them in my blog posts so others can benefit.

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All this Squash is Squashing my Energy!

SquashIt’s that time of year again! The squash seems to be a never ending pile on your kitchen counter! Thank the Lord for a bountiful harvest! But what to do with all that squash?

A few years ago, my daughter-in-law introduced me to a website that provides great instructions and pictures for canning or freezing almost any kind of fruit or vegetable:

http://www.pickyourown.org/

I love to freeze my squash because I have discovered that in those cold winter months I can thaw a pack in the microwave, squeeze the water out of it, and saute it in a pan with a pat of butter, onions, garlic pepper and seasoning salt. It is such an easy and healthy side dish and tastes as if it came right out of your garden!

Yellow Squash CasseroleIf you like squash casserole, I found this recipe at the allrecipes.com website:

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/yellow-squash-casserole/detail.aspx

To reduce the fat, you can substitute the high fat ingredients for low fat ingredients.

I have pinned this recipe, as well as other healthier squash and zucchini recipes, to my Pinterest page at http://pinterest.com/wandahbeck/boards/. If you have a healthy recipe that your family loves or some great tips on how to cook or eat healthier, I would love to hear about it so that I can add them to my collection of recipes and tips, as well as share them in my blog posts so others can benefit.

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The Demise of the Lunch Dilemma

The conversation goes something like this, “So, did you bring your lunch today?” “No, did you?” “No, so any idea what you want for lunch today? I can pick up. I have to run out to the bank anyway.” “I don’t know. Got anything in mind?”

Sound familiar? If you don’t plan ahead, it is too easy to fall into the trap of picking up lunch at a local (often fast food) restaurant that is loaded with fat grams, calories, sodium, etc. Not to mention that it takes a bite out of your pocketbook!!

But who has time to prepare a healthy lunch every day? It’s time consuming…not to mention that sandwiches and salads get old really fast!! So, what’s the solution you ask?

I have discovered the beauty of frozen leftovers! Since I am now cooking healthier dinners, I have been experimenting with freezing the leftovers in single serve containers. One of my favorites (especially in the winter) is a family recipe…Tomato Based Vegetable Soup.

Vegetable SoupFrozen Vegetable Soup

The lasagna recipe that I provided in my last blog (https://wbeck07.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/the-dreaded-terrific-lasagna/) also freezes very well and is delicious for lunch!!

I often hear remarks when I am warming up my lunches, “Wow! That smells so good!” And I just smile and reply, “It IS good!” I now look forward to my lunches, eat healthier, eliminate the stress of fixing my lunch every day or figuring out what I am having for lunch, and save a lot of money! It’s as easy as grabbing a container out of the freezer in the morning!

If you don’t have a lot of leftovers at your house, then just double the recipe so that you will have some to freeze for your lunches.

If you are interested in my Tomato Based Vegetable Soup recipe, here it is…

2 lbs ground beef (optional)
3 medium onions
2 cans Mixed Vegetables
1 can Tomatoes and Okra
2 cans Sliced Potatoes
2 cans Corn
3 cans Tomato Soup
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 jar mild or medium Salsa
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
1 tsp Texas Pete
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper

Brown ground beef and onions in a large soup pot. Drain and rinse. Add remaining ingredients (do not drain excess water from cans). Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for at least 1 hour (or until vegetables are tender).

I often use fresh vegetables (or frozen or canned vegetables from my garden) when possible. You may have to simmer the soup for longer if you use fresh vegetables. To reduce calories and fat, don’t add the ground beef (I usually don’t).

I would love to hear about some of your favorite healthy recipes that freeze well!

You can also visit my Pinterest page at http://pinterest.com/wandahbeck/boards/ for more healthy recipes.

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The Dreaded, Terrific Lasagna

My grandson (a very picky eater) grinned as he spooned the lasagna in his mouth. And my son-in-law, as he went for a second helping, made the comment, “I have to confess that when you said you were having lasagna, I was really dreading it but I didn’t want to say anything. I don’t like lasagna! But this is terrific!” Everyone at the table agreed that the lasagna was a hit!

What they didn’t know is that I had substituted several of the ingredients to make it less fattening! In particular…

Reduced Fat Cream Cheese (instead of regular cream cheese)
Reduced Fat Sour Cream (instead of regular sour cream)
Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese (instead of regular cheddar cheese)
No Yolk Egg Noodles (instead of regular egg noodles)
95% lean ground beef (instead of 73%)

All of these substitutions resulted in a whopping reduction of 14.6 fat grams and 85 calories per serving!! And it was still scrumptious!!

So, you ask, how do I know how many calories and fat grams were reduced per serving? Because of a wonderful website that I discovered called Calorie Count which can be accessed at this website (http://caloriecount.about.com/cc/account/index.php). While this website has many wonderful features that are very helpful for anyone wanting to eat healthier, one of the coolest features is that you can enter in your own recipes and the website will analyze them for you, presenting you with a breakdown of nutritional facts with graphs, as well as good and bad points of each recipe. From the Calorie Count website, here are the breakdowns for the original lasagna recipe vs. the lite lasagna recipe that I used (with the substitutions noted above)…

            Original Lasagna Recipe                                        Lite Lasagna RecipeOriginal Lasagna Breakdown Lite Lasagna Recipe

So don’t be afraid to try substitutions in your recipes to make them healthier. If you are interested in learning more about substitutions, check out these great websites…

http://greatist.com/health/83-healthy-recipe-substitutions

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/healthy-recipes/NU00585

http://www.buzzfeed.com/rachelysanders/healthy-ingredient-swaps-substitutions

So, if you would like to try my Lite Lasagna recipe, here is the recipe:

1.5 lbs 95% lean ground beef
1 onion
10.75 oz (1 can) tomato soup
29 oz (2 cans) petite diced tomatoes
6 oz (1 can) tomato paste
1 t salt
1 t garlic
1 t sugar
11 oz reduced fat sour cream
4 oz reduced fat cream cheese
1 lb reduced fat cheddar cheese, shredded
2 oz (1 cup) Parmesan cheese, shredded
8 oz No Yolk egg noodles

Directions:

Cook egg noodles as directed on pkg.
Brown ground beef and onions. Drain and rinse to remove as much grease as possible.
To the ground beef, add the tomato soup, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, garlic and sugar.
Mix the sour cream and cream cheese.
Layer the ingredients, topping with sauce and cheese to prevent noodles from becoming crunchy.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

100_3461  100_3474

For more healthy recipes, view my Pinterest page!! http://pinterest.com/wandahbeck/boards/

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Healthier Spaghetti and Salad

My busy schedule requires quick and easy-to-prepare meals so I am always looking for ways to cook and eat healthier with SIMPLE recipes. One favorite meal that my husband and I have discovered uses Mezzetta Napa Valley Bistro spaghetti sauce in a jar. Although it is pricier than some of the other spaghetti sauces, it is all natural with no added preservatives. Our favorite flavors are Tomato Basil and Roasted Garlic. We sometimes buy one of each and mix them. We also add a jar of mushrooms to the sauce and eat it over whole wheat spaghetti noodles. So simple yet so DELICIOUS!!

But let’s not forget the salad! Before we became more health-conscious, we added cheddar cheese to our salads and used fattening dressings such as Ranch or Thousand Island. But no more! We have discovered a much tastier salad that is much less fattening!! We use the Spring Mix or Spinach Leaves that come in a bag, then add green onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, and any other fresh vegetables desired, topped off with raisins or craisins. For our salad dressing, we use the Wish Bone Salad Spritzers Balsamic Breeze Vinaigrette Dressing. It comes in a spray bottle and is only 1 calorie per spray! And it is the BEST salad we have ever eaten!!

I hope you will give this simple and healthier meal a try and let me know what you think. I attached pictures below of the Mezzetta sauce and Wish Bone Salad Spritzer so you will know what to look for if you haven’t ever tried these products. I also would love to hear about your favorite, simple, healthy recipes!!

ImageImage

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