Category Archives: Instructional

Vegetable Eggrolls

I just made these again recently – what a great recipe ! I had the wrong calorie count on them and a reader helped me realize that – but I have updated taking into account the calorie count of the most popular brand of eggroll wrappers.

These eggrolls will soon be on your favorites list. Add 1/4 c duck sauce to the side for just an extra 60 calories. If you’re in the mood for some seafood try adding some cooked popcorn shrimp.

These make a great side dish, stand alone lunch, appetizer – – very, very versatile !

Vegetable Eggrolls
Vegetable Eggrolls

6 servings
162 calories per serving (1 serving = 2 rolls)

12 square eggroll wrappers (available in all grocery stores)
2 c shredded cabbage
1 c chopped onions
1/2 c shredded carrots
1/2 chopped bean sprouts (canned are fine)
1/2 c chopped celery
1/4 c low sodium soy sauce
2 T minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place all the ingredients other than the wrappers in a frying pan sprayed with Pam and cook on medium high heat, stirring often, for 15 minutes or until vegetables are softened a good amount.

Spray a cookie sheet with Pam. Work with just a couple of wrappers at a time. Place wrappers on a DRY surface and place 2 spoonfuls of filling on each. Dip your finger in water and moisten all 4 edges of the wrapper. Fold sides in toward the middle. Then roll bottom up and around rolling until you have a fully done roll.

Here’s the filling mix:

Eggroll Filling
Eggroll Filling

Here’s a great instructional site with pictures that shows you how to quickly roll an eggroll

And here’s a video I just made so you can see how it’s done – it’s so easy !!

Seal the outside edge with a wet finger and place roll on the baking sheet. Finish up the rest of the rolls. Once all the rolls are complete, spray the tops with Pam. Bake 20-25 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.

Turkey and Feta Wrap

Wraps are a nice change from a sandwich – and they hold in the contents so much better than 2 slices of bread. Here is a standard turkey, bacon and tomato sandwich and because it is on a wrap you can add in some crumbled feta and avocado slices without worrying about them flying out the sandwich. And the avocado adds your MUFA for the meal :) Enjoy !

Turkey and Feta Wrap
Turkey and Feta Wrap

1 serving
300 calories per serving

1 T Miracle Whip
1 T low fat crumbled feta cheese
1 Whole wheat wrap (80 calorie version by Smart and Delicious)
¼ c shredded lettuce
4 slices deli turkey breast
1 slice tomato, cut into strips
2 slices turkey bacon, cooked
¼ c avocado slices
Pepper

Sprinkle turkey with pepper. Place it all in the wrap and roll it up ! Here is a video that will show you how to fold up a wrap securely

Spinach Soup with Wontons

This spicy broth is a nice contrast to the mild and creamy wontons. The ricotta mixed with the spinach for the filling makes for a very creamy textured wonton center. Wontons are definitely NOT hard to make ! Give it a shot ! Even if they don’t come out quite the right shape, as long as they stay sealed, that is really all that matters :) And at only 137 calories per serving, double up the portion and you still have room for some crispy homemade flat breads as a side !

Spinach Soup with Wontons
Spinach Soup with Wontons


8 servings
137 calories per serving

10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
½ c part skim ricotta cheese
1 t chopped basil ( or ¼ t basil flakes)
½ t pepper
32 wonton wrappers
4 14.5 oz. cans chicken broth
2 T soy sauce
2 t chili sauce (available in the Asian section of your market)
½ c scallions, thinly sliced

For this recipe, be sure to use a pot that is large enough that the wontons have room and don’t get all piled on top of one another. Mix spinach, ricotta, basil and pepper in a blender until smooth. Place 1 T filling in each wonton and fold according to package instructions being sure to seal the last fold with a bit of water. Bring broth, soy and chili sauce to a boil. Add wontons and scallions and bring back to a boil. Cover and reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes or until wontons are tender.

Here is a video to help you lean how to prepare wontons -

Portobello and Ricotta Wontons with Wild Mushroom Cream Sauce

I modeled this recipe after a restaurant favorite of mine – it is a wild mushroom ravioli appetizer that I could not help but order every time I frequented a certain restaurant, but the calorie count was over the top. Not this one !! Between the RICH cream sauce and the multiple mushroom flavors, this meal tastes just as decadent but with so few calories, you can eat it without any guilt.

Portobello and Ricotta Wontons
Portobello and Ricotta Wontons

Thanks to Marxfoods.com for the wild mushrooms to create this masterpiece ! The different varieties lend quite a flavor to this dish. The dish would just not be the same using run of the mill mushrooms. The mixture of the chanterelles and matsutakes inside the little packet of goodness combined with the flavors of the porcini, lobster and black trumpet mushroom sauce … well, it’s just a little bit of heaven right here on earth.

Marxfoods offers a bunch of wild mushroom varieties – I think my favorite in this dish were the black trumpet mushrooms – they have a very delicate texture and the aroma is akin to a truffle. These are definitely on my list of favorites.

8 appetizer servings (3 wontons each) – 106 calories per serving
4 dinner servings (6 wontons each – 212 calories per serving

Filling –
1 t oil
4 shallots, sliced
¼ c water
2 oz. reconstituted dry chanterelle mushrooms (reserve the liquid)
2 oz. reconstituted dry matsutake mushrooms (reserve the liquid)
2 oz. Portobello mushrooms, sliced
½ t salt
¼ t pepper
1/3 c part skim ricotta cheese

To reconstitute dried wild mushroom, place in a glass bowl and cover with very hot water. Let sit 20-30 minutes. Reserve the water to use as when boiling the wontons.

Heat 1 t oil in a skillet and sauté the shallots on medium high heat for 5 minutes. Add 1-2 T of water if needed to keep the shallots moist. Add the reconstituted mushroom and sauté another 2 minutes. Finally add the Portobello mushrooms and sauté another 7 minutes. When done, place all in a food processor and pulse 14 times. (It’s best to chop or mince the woodier mushrooms like chanterelles and matsutakes). Turn into a bowl and mix with the ricotta. Set aside.

Sauce –
1 t oil
1.5 oz. reconstituted dry porcini mushrooms (reserve the liquid)
.25 oz. reconstituted dry black trumpet mushrooms (reserve the liquid)
.50 oz. reconstituted dry lobster mushrooms (reserve the liquid)
1 T water
1 c beef broth
2 t cornstarch
¼ c fat free evaporated milk
1 t red vinegar

To reconstitute dried wild mushroom, place in a glass bowl and cover with very hot water. Let sit 20-30 minutes. Reserve the water to use as when boiling the wontons.

Heat 1 t oil in a skillet and sauté the mushrooms 6 minutes. Add up to 1 T of water to keep the mixture moist. Mix starch and broth and add to the pan along with the evaporated milk. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and cook 2 minutes to thicken the sauce. During the last minute of cooking, add the vinegar. Set aside.

Wontons –
24 wonton wrappers
Small bowl of water
Reserved mushroom liquid
Water
2 t salt

Put reserved liquid in a pot and add enough water to make 2 quarts. Add salt and bring to a boil.

Fill wontons with 1 T of the filling – – either use instructions on the back of the wonton package or watch this short video tutorial:

Complete all wontons then boil in 2 batches. Use a slotted spoon to lift the wontons out of the pot – put on a platter and cover with the sauce.

Twice Baked Potatoes

So very good ! You can stuff potatoes with just about anything but this recipe turns out a perfect twice baked potato – the sour cream and mozzarella are just perfect here.

Twice Baked Potatoes
Twice Baked Potatoes

4 servings
172 calories per serving

4 medium baking potatoes
1/3 c low fat sour cream
2 T chopped fresh basil and chives and parsley
2 T grated parmesan cheese
Skim milk
¼ c shredded part skim mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Clean potatoes, dry them and prick them with a fork. Bake one hour. Cut a 1 inch slit in the top and spoon out pulp into a bowl. Do this gently so the skin stays in tact. Use a blender so you get nice whipped consistency and mix together the pulp, sour cream, herbs and parmesan cheese. Add a few tablespoons of milk if the mix is too dry. Stuff the mixture back into the potato skins and sprinkle with mozzarella. Place in a baking dish and bake 20 minutes or refrigerate and then when you bake, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes then uncover and bake another 20 minutes.

To hollow out the potatoes, after you bake them, let them cool and then follow the instructions in this video.

Good Choice Low Cal Foods

Making a good choice on an ingredient can make or break a meal. So many of my dishes coming in at 400 calories or less is all due to the food swaps I use.

Everyone knows fruits and veggies are low cal, rice cakes taste like styrofoam, spreads are better than butter, etc. But there are some not so transparent options and I want to share some of my picks with you ! For some of these items it took a lot of trial and error to find them – I hope this saves you some time and spares you from having to eat some pretty yucky low cal stuff !

I have also listed a bunch of ‘Go To Snacks’ on another page – they make great snack choices. But this is a list more of INGREDIENTS that you will using in making up meals.

Bread:
Pepperidge Farms makes some great breads that come in at only 45 calories per slice. Don’t shy away from bread all together – I know it makes me nuts if I don’t have any carbs. Just make the right choice :)

Tortillas / Wraps:
Smart & Delicious Low Carb whole wheat wraps by La Tortilla Factory are only 80 calories for a large wrap. Compare that to some that come in upwards of 200 calories and it’s easy to see the difference. That’s 4 more slices of turkey bacon I can have !

Other grain products:
Thomas’s makes great 100 calorie bagels, light whole wheat muffins that are only 100 calories and Sahara pitas at only 140 calories. Every calorie counts – so choose wisely :)

Pasta:
I found this GREAT pasta – FiberGourmet. I buy it on Amazon (see my shopping page for a link). It’s only 130 calories a serving. I can almost eat DOUBLE THE PASTA – and I’d do anything for my carbs !

Cheese:

Weight Watchers make a great low fat cream cheese – they are individually packaged and about 2 T for 60 calories. To me they are far creamier than the Philadelphia low fat cream cheeses and they are good enough to eat just plain on a bagel.

Be sure to choose the low fat version of shredded cheeses – you can save hundreds of calories over just 4 oz. of cheese. The low fat and no fat cheeses of today are nothing like the plasticy ones of the past. They melt, they are creamy, and they are full of flavor.

I love Laughing Cow Light cheeses – heck, I made a whole post about them – so I will just point you there ! Suffice it to say, they are great as an ingredient, spread on crackers or apples – – just plain G O O D.

Milks:
We all know skim in the best for us in terms of fat – – but not all skim milks are equal – be sure to check the calorie count on yours ! I use Lactaid skim milk – not because I am lactose intolerant, but because I find the taste more pleasing than most other brands. And the calorie count is a little lower so I can have a bit extra on my cereal in the morning :)

Buttery Spreads:
These come in all shapes and sizes – there are ones that are low fat, ones that are butter hybrids, ones that lower cholesteral. Make a good choice for you – but be sure to look at the calorie count. You can double the calories in a tablespoon full by making the wrong choice. At only 45 calories per tablespoon and a pretty good taste, I use Promis Activ Spread.

Other Dairy:
You can eat a boat load of Egg Beaters for very few calories ! I don’t like egg white omelettes and I do crave eggs, so regular Egg Beaters are my choice. Only 30 calories for 1/4 cup or the equivalent of an egg. And that means a whole lotta scrambled eggs for me ! I also use them in all sorts of recipes including baked goods.

For me a lot of the choices also come down to taste as well as calories. If 2 sour creams are really close but one tastes so much creamier for 5 extra calories, then I am there ! Especially with sour cream – because I really HATE the consistency of any brand no fat sour cream. I find Daisy Light to be the best on the market in terms of creaminess and flavor. Give it a try if you see it on your grocer’s shelves !

Condiments:
Don’t be fooled by low fat salad dressings. Low fat does NOT EQUAL low cal. Sometimes low fat dressings have MORE calories, so beware. When in doubt, make your own – get a package of the Seven Seasons dry dressing packet and add half or less the oil, and then more vinegar and water to make up for the less oil and you will have a much healthier option ready to go in the frig.

Most spices and herbs have very little calories and this is great considering they also add the most flavor to meals !

There are some I use to specifically replace buttery flavor on potatoes, on other veggies, in some baking processes, etc. Here are 2 very good things to have on hand -
Molly McButter – a powdered butter flavor replacement. Great on veggies.
I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Spray – a liquid butter flavor replacement. Also great on veggies, but even better on bread for grilled cheese, on bakes goods to get a golden buttery top, and sprayed right on popcorn !

Drinks:
Don’t waste your calories on sugared drinks. Even so called ‘healthier’ choices next to sodas are full of calories…Vitamin Waters, Gatorade, etc. I stick with zero calorie flavored waters. With the added flavor, I don’t feel like I am drinking just plain old water. There are many brands – I happen to like the Aquafina and Adirondack ones the best.

Sweeteners:
I am an Equal girl for my coffee and any cold prep. But Splenda is what you need to use to cook/bake and it does a fine job ! 1 T of sugar is 46 calories. So in baked goods, using Splenda sweetener and Splenda Brown Sugar Blend makes a BIG difference.

Meats:
Choosing lean meats is very important. There is a very large difference in the calories between 90% lean ground beef and 95% lean ground beef. Losing the fat does mean losing some of the flavor and moistness, but my recipes take this into account and make up with lower calorie ingredient options. So be picky when choosing your meats.

Choose beef that is less marbled (like filet mignon), make sure to trim fat off your pork loin and pork chops, and always choose skinless chicken.

I use Perdue Perfect Portions chicken breasts. They are individually wrapped and all weigh in at about 6 ounces. It takes all the guess work out of it. I do, however, have a kitchen scale for when I am not using pre-portioned cuts. And I suggest you get one too. Heck – I was short changing myself when I was guessing – now with the scale, I know I am right in the zone and am counting my calories accurately !

Many seemingly SIMILAR items, just different brands, have much different calorie counts. So spend a day when you have some extra time and really label read as you do your shopping. Then when you find some GOOD CHOICES, keep replenishing those rather than reinventing the wheel each time you shop. And hopefully my list here is a good start for you and will save you some time and effort.

Cucumbers, Cucumbers, Cucumbers

Cucumbers come in many varieties – but the 3 I find most often in the food markets and the 3 I use most often in my cooking are:

1. Kirby Cucumber
2. Common / Garden / Slicing Cucumber
3. English Cucumber

They are all a bit different and here I’ll explain some of those differences.

1. The Kirby Cucumber is the cucumber of choice for making pickles (here is a great quick pickle recipe). They have a thin skin and have a firmer flesh than a garden cucumber.

2. The Garden Cucumber is your regular, every day cucumber – they have a thicker, waxy, dark green skin which tends to be bitter and they have lots of seeds – I often remove the seeds by taking a spoon and scraping down the center to remove them.

3. English Cucumbers are long and thin, and my market wraps them in plastic. The skin is grooved and bumpy but not bitter. They are sometimes called seedless but really it is just that the seeds are very small. The one pictured here actually has larger seeds than usual, but I have had some with just about zero seeds. They have crisper flesh then the Garden Cucumber.



Often I use English and Kirby cucumbers interchangeably though I often opt for English for salads and Kirbys for cut up spears – – no idea why, but in my head it belongs that way :) And I find myself using Garden cucumbers more and more infrequently, probably because of the consistency – I like the crisper flesh of the English and Kirby.

VIDEO: Easy Potato Peeling 101

Let’s face it – peeling potatoes is a drag ! Well, I came across these instructions on the internet and let me tell you, they work like a charm. The peels just pulled off the boiled potatoes in no time ! Usually if you peel them ahead of time, the outsides get all mushy and mealy and peeling them afterward with a peeler or knife is time consuming at best.

Here is a video instructional showing you how to do it:

Basically, you just score the potatoes the whole way around with a sharp knife (about 1/4 inch deep) and drop them into boiling water for 15 minutes. Take them out and place into an ice bath (ice cubes mixed with cold water) and mix around for 15 seconds. Then take them out of the ice water and apply a little squeezing pressure and the peels come right off !

The only thing I would do different than the video is cook the potatoes a little longer – they were not quite done yet in the middle. If I was going to cube them up for hash browns or further cooking after being sliced or cubed, this would be fine. But they were too undercooked to use for potato salad – I would boil another 5-7 minutes for that. Hope you use this method for easier potato prep in the future !

Beef Rolls and Salad

These beef rolls are like eating mini cheese steaks – so yummy ! Just look at the cheese dripping out the ends of the rolls !

Beef Roll
Beef Roll

4 servings
227 calories per serving

¾ pound braciola beef (thinly sliced top round) cut into 4 pieces lengthwise
Kosher salt to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste
2 oz. pepper jack cheese thinly sliced into 4 pieces
2 t oil
7 oz. Very Veggie salad mix
1 ½ t Sherry vinegar
1 T oil
1 onion halved and cut into thin slices
1 ½ yellow or orange bell peppers sliced very thin
3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat 1 T oil in a skillet on medium high heat and add onions, peppers and garlic. Saute 7-8 minutes and then add salt, pepper and 1/2 c water. Cover and lower heat and simmer 2 minutes or until dried out. Remove to a bowl and set aside.

Season meat with salt and pepper. Put a piece of cheese and ¼ the onion mix into the center of a piece of meat. Roll up long ways and secure the seam with a toothpick or mini skewer woven in to keep the meat from opening while cooking. Heat a skillet to medium high and add 1 t oil. Place meat rolls in the pan and cook about 8 minutes browning all sides. Lower the heat if it browns to quickly as you want it to stay in the pan long enough for the cheese inside to get melty.

Toss lettuce with vinegar and 1 t oil and season it with salt and pepper. Serve next to the beef rolls. Remove toothpicks from beef before serving.

Here is a video to help show you how to roll these up !

VIDEO: How to Use an Avocado Slicer

Whether you’re slicing avocados for sandwiches, salads or snacks, it’s nice to have pretty slices rather than gouged out chunks. Avocados are not the easiest things to work with – but they are well worth the work! Nothing tastes quite like an avocado. And there is now a kitchen tool out there that takes all the hard work out of it. Just slice your avocado in half, remove the pit, and then use the tool to do the rest. I made a quick video so you can see how they work.

And here is a link to buy one on Amazon !

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