RSS Feed

Tag Archives: diet-friendly

Healthy Slow Cooker Meat Sauce


Dennis and I have been eating out a lot now that I work through the dinner hour.  I finally got fed up with the unhealthy food and the weight gain we’re both experiencing, and decided to cook up enough real homemade food on my days off to last us for the week.  This meat sauce was the first thing I threw together, and Dennis was in heaven!

https://i0.wp.com/a4.l3-images.myspacecdn.com/images02/106/e4b697be95db4cacb0b570413a915d69/l.jpg

This is an old picture from 2009 but I had to include it. Dennis eats everything with chopsticks-he's obsessed!

I’m not completely back on the healthy bandwagon, but this meal is a good start. The sauce is hearty, flavorful & robust, and very low in fat. I chose to sweeten the sauce mainly with carrots, and you may find this balances the acidity of the tomatoes enough for your taste, but I decided to add some agave nectar to mine to sweeten it a little more. You could also try upping the carrots to 2 cups.

Serve this over whole wheat pasta along with a salad and you’ve got a nutritious, delicious meal!

Healthy Slow Cooker Meat Sauce

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 pound bison, venison, or lean ground beef
2 links mild Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 (14.5 ounce) cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 ½ cups finely shredded carrots (about 4 medium carrots)
2 (8 ounce) cans tomato paste
2 tablespoons agave nectar or sugar
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon basil
1 tablespoon garlic salt
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Salt to taste

In a large skillet, cook the meat and onions until the meat is brown and the onions are tender. Add the minced garlic and cook another minute. Do not drain unless you used meat with a higher fat content. If you used the suggested meat, you will have a little broth in the pan with only a tiny amount of fat, which I like to leave for flavor.

Meanwhile, add the undrained tomatoes and carrots to a 4-quart (or larger) slow-cooker and puree using an immersion blender (if you don’t have an immersion blender, do this with your regular blender). Stir in the tomato paste, agave nectar, oregano, basil, garlic salt, bay leaves, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and pepper. Stir in the meat mixture and cover.

Cook on high for 5-6 hours, or low for 10-12 hours, stirring caramelized sides back into the sauce. When complete, stir well, fishing out the bay leaves, and add salt to taste. Serve on top of your favorite pasta.

Recipe source: inspired by The Cooking Photographer

Garlic Chicken & Bacon Spaghetti Squash Alfredo



I made this recipe in the spring and thought it would be nice to share in the fall when it was starting to get chilly.  Not so chilly that you are ready to dig into the really heavy foods, but are just starting to think about it.  That day has come a lot sooner than I expected!  Does it seem like an early fall is coming on in your neck of the woods as well?

If so, here’s a fantastic meal that seems pretty hearty and is totally comforting while still managing to be quite healthy and diet-friendly.  Debbi, the creator of this recipe, calculated it as only about 200 calories per serving (1/8th of the recipe) so even if you ate half of the whole casserole (which would be quite a feat!), you’d probably still be eating less calories than a restaurant alfredo dish would have, and it’s so much healthier!

I thought this dish was absolutely positively scrumptious and although it takes some time to prepare because you have to pre-roast the spaghetti squash, it’s very simple.  I eat a lot of spaghetti squash, but this is only one of two dishes I’ve ever eaten it in with such gusto.  I don’t even like alfredo sauce, especially jarred, and I L-O-V-E-D this meal.  I really felt like I was indulging because meals this delicious usually have a ton of fat and calories.  Not true in this case–it really is like having your cake and eating it too!

Garlic Chicken and Bacon Spaghetti Squash Alfredo

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 large spaghetti squash, about 2 1/2 lbs.
1 (15 oz.) jar Classico Garlic Alfredo Sauce
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
9 oz. chicken, cooked & chopped
6 slices turkey bacon
1 onion, sliced
Salt and pepper

Split spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking oil. Place the squash face-down on the sheet and roast in oven at 375 for about 45 min – 1 hour or until tender when poked with a fork on the underside.  Let cool until you can handle the squash without burning your hands, and scrape the squash out with a fork into a 9 x 13 pan sprayed with cooking spray. Leave the oven on.

While the squash is cooling enough to handle, cook bacon until crispy and remove to a plate to cool.  Grill onions in the small amount of bacon grease in pan, using additional oil or cooking spray if needed. If you want your onions to get crispy dark edges, let them sit for a minute or two before stirring each time. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.  Crumble the cooled bacon.

Spread alfredo sauce over the spaghetti squash in the pan, sprinkle on half the cheese, top with chopped chicken, bacon and sauteed onions, then top with remaining cheese.  Bake, uncovered, for about 25 minutes until heated through and cheese is melted.

Recipe source: Debbi Does Dinner Healthy

Healthy Blueberry Muffins

Posted on

Did I scare you off with the word healthy?  For those who are still reading, I have a nice treat in store for you!  I whipped these babies up because I had some seriously overripe bananas begging to be used and also scored three pints of blueberries for $1.50 each at Aldi (love Aldi!).  These are healthy in every sense of the word: whole wheat, all-natural, sugar-free, and low fat.  Each muffin comes in at just 3 Points Plus.  And yes, they are quite delicious!  Maybe not delicious in the same way that a white, sugar-sweetened blueberry muffin with streusel topping is delicious, but delicious in a way that makes you happy not only in your mouth but in your overall sense of well-being.

I calculated the nutritional information for the recipe using both Truvia and sugar (since most people probably don’t have Truvia sitting around in their home), and either way the muffins come to 3 Points Plus.    If you like baking sugar-free, I encourage you to try Truvia because in my experience it acts like sugar in baking, unlike many substitutes.  (I’ve used it before in my Chocolate Chip Banana Bread and Apple Cake Mabel, both with excellent results.) It is all natural, coming from the stevia plant, so you don’t have to be scared of any side-effects.  There are none!  It is the only all-natural calorie-free sweetener out there (stevia, not Truvia.  There are many sweeteners made from stevia and Truvia is just one of them.)

I often complain to other bloggers when they fail to describe how their recipes taste because that is what I care about most when reading a recipe on a blog, so I’d better include my review too, lest those bloggers I’ve ticked off with my whining come back to haunt me. ;)  The banana flavor doesn’t come through at all on the first day, it just naturally sweetens the muffins and makes them moist without a lot of added fat. Somehow the banana flavor develops overnight because I could faintly taste it when eating the leftovers, which were just as good.  I also couldn’t detect the mace so I wouldn’t say it’s essential.  I just threw it in on a whim.  I thought the sweetness level was just right–not too sweet and not under-sweet.  The texture is very moist, tender, and the whole grain makes them a little more hearty than I’m used to, but they seem more wholesome for it, which I like.  The only thing I’d change next time is adding 1/2 cup more blueberries to make the muffins larger without changing the calories much (plus the blueberries add a lot of sweetness), and perhaps sprinkling a little sugar over the top of each before baking to make them prettier.  What I liked most was eating them warm so that the blueberries burst in my mouth and hot juice squirted out.  Oh, so delicious.

Healthy Blueberry Muffins

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

3 medium over-ripe bananas
½ cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons Truvia, or 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon mace (optional)
1 ¼ cups white whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup fresh blueberries (please try 1 1/2 cups!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line 12 muffin cups with paper; set aside.   Get out your overripe bananas and peel them into a large bowl.

When I said I had overripe bananas, I meant really overripe.  There’s no reason why you can’t use black bananas in baking.  The older they are, the better they are for baking because they get sweeter and have more banana flavor (in this case, that doesn’t affect the flavor of the muffins but it’s great for banana bread).  You’ll only need three unless you’re doubling the recipe.  I happened to make this recipe twice because I put too much liquid and not enough flour in it the first time, so I was glad to have just the right amount of bananas to make another batch and perfect the recipe.

As you can see, the insides are nice and golden and very soft.

Mash ’em up.

Stir in the buttermilk, oil, Truvia (or sugar), vanilla, salt, and mace.

Add flour, baking soda, and baking powder, and stir until moistened but lumpy.

It doesn’t need to be any more mixed than this because you’ll be stirring it more when you add the blueberries.  The more you mix muffin batter, the tougher the muffins will be.

Stir in the blueberries.

Using an icecream scoop, divide the batter between prepared muffin cups. (I didn’t take any more pictures for some reason so just imagine one of the finished batter, and one of the filled muffin tin before baking. Thanks. :))  Bake 15-20 minutes, until done. Cool on wire rack for a few minutes before serving. Cool leftovers completely and store in a Ziploc bag or airtight container.

Makes 12 muffins.

Per muffin: 100 calories; 2.8 g fat; 17 g carbohydrates; 2.3 g fiber; 2.4 g protein; 3 Points Plus

Made with ½ cup sugar in place of Truvia: 133 calories; 2.8 g fat; 25 g carbohydrates; 2.3 g fiber; 2.4 g protein; 3 Points Plus

Recipe by Veronica Miller

Italian Cornmeal-Crusted White Fish

Posted on

Some friends who like to fish gave us a couple pounds of crappie and I came up with this quick and delicious coating for it.  I was pleasantly surprised by how good it turned out!  Perfectly seasoned and with a slight crunch to it from broiling, the fish turned out really nice with the moisture locked in from the dressing and coating.  I think you’re going to like this one!

I just have to share something funny that’s related to this recipe before we get to it.  When I searched for “crappie” in the Weight Watchers points tracker online, this is what popped up on my screen:

Let’s take a closer look:


So there’s no entry for crappie, but there’s something called a “crap pie?”  I don’t even want to know!  I just used another white fish to calculate the points. :)

Italian Cornmeal-Crusted White Fish

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

2 lbs. white fish, such as tilapia or cod
Italian Dressing
½ cup stone ground cornmeal
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon garlic salt

Place fish in a Ziploc bag and pour dressing over it, about ½ cup or enough to coat the fish. Allow to marinate 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees; line a rimmed cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking oil. Combine the cornmeal, parmesan, and garlic salt in a bowl and stir well. Take fish fillets one by one and place on a plate, then sprinkle cornmeal mixture over the top. Lift with your wet hand and shake excess coating back into your bowl. Place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all fish fillets are coated and on baking sheet. Bake for ten minutes, then switch the oven to broil. Keep an eye on the fish and remove once golden and the fish flakes easily when pierced with a fork.

For a quick and colorful side dish, combine broccoli florets with sliced red and yellow pepper and microwave in a covered dish for 5 minutes, or until tender. Serve with a sprinkle of garlic salt over the top.

Serves 6

Per serving: 246 calories; 9.7 g fat; 9 g carbohydrates; .7 g fiber; 32 g protein; 6 Points Plus

Recipe by Veronica Miller

Honey Banana Peanut Butter Muffins

Posted on

My Dad used to make what I thought was one of the most delicious meals ever out of torn Ezekiel bread pieces, a sliced banana, and natural peanut butter all mixed up in a bowl together and drizzled with honey.  Sweets were a rarity in our home so when he let me try this, I was thrilled because I felt like I was eating dessert.  This was how I was introduced to the trifecta of banana, peanut butter and honey and I’ve been a fan ever since.

I first made these muffins in miniature form almost a year ago when I had a single overripe banana and wanted to use it in something before it started growing white stuff.  (I’ll include that recipe too for those interested.)  It was only natural for me to reach for the peanut butter and honey, and I was really pleased with the result.  I’ve made many subsequent batches, adapting it on a larger scale to make the standard dozen since the small batch doesn’t last long enough to suit us.

This is a straightforward recipe, no fancy ingredients, naturally sweetened, and it’s all mashed and mixed together in one bowl using a single fork.  The result is a moist and flavorful muffin with the perfect balance of banana, peanut butter and honey.

By the way, these healthy, low-sugar muffins are dog tested and approved!  My Jessie is such a treat snob that when she approves something I’ve made, you can bet your pup will most likely dig it too.  For doggies, you can bake them up in mini-muffin tins, depending on the dog’s size.  Or just share yours, which is what I like to do.  That way I feel justified when I reach for a second one, since I didn’t eat all of the first.  :)

Honey Banana Peanut Butter Muffins

Printable Recipe
Printable Recipe with picture

3 medium overripe bananas
¾ cup peanut butter
¼ cup honey
½ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 ¼ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons chopped nuts (for topping)

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with papers or spray with oil.

Peel bananas and place in a large mixing bowl. Mash with a fork (you should have about 1 ¼ cups of mashed banana), then mix in the peanut butter with your fork until well blended. Next mix in the honey and once the mixture is uniform in color, stir in the milk, vanilla, and cinnamon. Measure in the flour and baking soda, and stir with your fork just until mixed. The batter will be thick but try not to overwork it to get it mixed. It’s OK if a few lumps remain. Using an ice cream scoop, divide batter between muffin cups, filling 3/4 full. Sprinkle nuts in the middle of each muffin (nuts will spread out as the muffins bake). Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean, and remove to cooling rack. Leave in tin for five minutes, then remove to cool completely.

Makes 12 muffins

Per muffin: 196 calories; 9 g fat; 26 g carbohydrates; 2.4 g fiber; 6 g protein; 5 Points Plus

Secret Recipe Club

Honey Banana Peanut Butter Bites


Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 medium overripe banana
¼ cup chunky peanut butter
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
¼ cup buttermilk
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 12 mini muffin cups.

Mash the banana in a medium bowl an stir in the peanut butter, honey, and buttermilk. Stir in the remaining ingredients just until moistened. Divide between muffin cups, filling about 3/4 full. Bake for 15 minutes (or until done) and remove to cooling rack. Leave in tin for five minutes, then remove to cool completely.

Makes 12 mini muffins.

Nutrition Info (per muffin): 66 calories; 3 g fat; 84 mg sodium; 77 mg potassium; 9 carb; 1 g fiber; 2 g protein; 2 Points Plus

Recipes by Veronica Miller

**Veronica’s note: to make these into vegan muffins, replace the honey with agave nectar, the buttermilk with non-dairy milk, and the baking soda with baking powder.  I have done this and they are equally delicious, though I do prefer the honey flavor with banana and peanut butter.**

Restaurant-Style Tabouli

Posted on

Hummus and tabouli are my favorite sides to serve with Lebanese fare.  Not only are they simple to make, but crazy delicious!  My Mom’s tabouli consists predominantly of bulgar wheat, and most recipes I’ve found are the same, but I noticed when I ordered it at restaurants, it was mostly parsley with a tiny bit of bulgar in it.  Not only is this lower in calories (bonus!), but I actually prefer the taste.    The parsley and lemon make for a very refreshing salad!  Here’s my version of restaurant-style tabouli.

Restaurant-Style Tabouli

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with link

3 bunches parsley, chopped
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup fine bulgar wheat
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, cover, and let sit overnight before serving.  There is no need to cook the bulgar, as it will absorb moisture from the salad and become tender in a few hours.

Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 76 calories; 3 g fat; 12 g carbohydrates; 3.5 g fiber; 3 g protein

Recipe by Veronica Miller

I used red onions in the first picture, and white onions in this one. You can also use green onions, if you prefer.

On a personal note: I’m leaving to visit friends in Texas so this is the last recipe I’ll be posting for a while.  I know I’m not a regular poster anyway, so you guys won’t even miss me!  Nevertheless, I will return later next week with some sweets & savories for you. You’re in for a few treats! :)

Masoor Dal with Cauliflower and Kale

Posted on

Before we get to some major Indian yumminess, I wanted to mention two things.  First, you may notice things look a bit different around here.  I changed my theme and I like it but I’m not sure it’s “the one.”   I think the header is very plain…but I’m cheap and I don’t want to pay to get fancy so this is probably as good as it gets. :) Let me know what you think!

Second, I think I caused some confusion with my post on the cake decorating competition at work.  I’m not sure how many of you saw that, but I wanted to clarify that the date on it is correct.  I wrote it two years ago on my MySpace blog, and newly copied it to Recipe Rhapsody so that I could link to it in reference to how to make a tiered cake in an upcoming post.  I posted it with the original date I wrote it, so I didn’t think any one would see it, but I started getting some comments on it so apparently it came across some of your radars!  Just wanted to clarify that it’s now old news, but I appreciate your kind words and congratulations.

Red Lentils

<image source>

Although I still have a large backlog of recipes to post, the weather is heating up again and it looks like the casseroles, soups, and pumpkin recipes will probably have to wait until next year, so I thought I’d gush (or perhaps rhapsodize would be a more appropriate word for this blog!) about the lunch I made today instead.  I’m on a mission to spring-clean my wreck of a house into sparkling submission, and I started eying the red lentils I’d purchased at a Lebanese market over a month ago while I was organizing the kitchen.

I decided I was (finally) going to make something with them, but by the time I took a break to cook,  I was starving and didn’t want to bother with looking up any recipes.  I needed a quick meal and I threw this one together in just over half an hour, so it would be great for a busy day.  While I’m usually not a good enough cook to come up with anything edible without using a recipe, I think I knocked this one out of the park, if I do say so myself!  Becoming familiar with the cuisine by cooking several Indian dishes over the last few months helped a lot.

I made a masoor dal (a thick stew made of red lentils) that is almost vegan, and could certainly be turned so by using vegetable stock in place of the water and chicken bullion.  It is spicy in the full sense of the word–with plenty of Indian aromatics and and a moderate heat index, though you can certainly reduce or increase the spiciness to your tastes.

I’m usually not a fan of lentils, but I liked this more than any lentil dish I’ve made before.  I’m not sure if red lentils have a better flavor (which I do suspect, because I detected none of the usual musky lentil flavor in this dish), or if the spices just overwhelmed it.  The tender cauliflower pieces were a perfect accompaniment, but I don’t think the kale is absolutely necessary.  I couldn’t really detect any of its flavor, and it got kind of dull & ugly during the cooking process, but I don’t think it hurts to have all that extra nutrition!  Kale has powerful  antioxidant properties and is considered an anti-inflammatory so if you have it on hand, throw it in!  If not, don’t sweat it.  The only thing I didn’t have that I really felt it needed was a little cilantro to sprinkle over the top.  I had to make do with some dried parsley.  Bummer!

I served mine with whole wheat couscous since I was in a hurry to eat (it only takes 5 minutes to make), but you can serve it with rice or bulgar or even pasta.  Whatever floats your boat!

Masoor Dal with Cauliflower and Kale

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

2 cups water
2 chicken bullion cubes
1 cup red lentils
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon sriracha hot chile sauce, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 head cauliflower, separated into florets
2 cups loosely packed kale
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Fresh cilantro, for garnish

In a large 3-quart saucepan, combine water, bullion, lentils, onions, and garlic; cover and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium and cook for ten minutes.  Stir in the tomato sauce, garam masala, curry powder, sriracha, and cumin.  Add the cauliflower and kale, stir & cover.  Cook for 20 more minutes, stirring often to make sure the dal isn’t sticking, or until the lentils are tender.  Stir in the olive oil during the last five minutes of cooking and serve with a sprinkle of cilantro over rice or couscous.

Serves 4

Per serving: 231 calories; 8 g fat; 40 g carbohydrates; 15 g fiber; 13 g protein

%d bloggers like this: