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Tag Archives: diet

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

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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

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Pineapple & Mango Salad

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I’m ba-ack!  My husband, sister, and I had a fabulous time with our friends in Texas and I put together a slideshow if you are interested, which you can view here.

I had planned to share my favorite basic cheesecake recipe with you upon my return, but you will have to wait until Monday for that one because I’m on a deadline to get a mango recipe posted for BSI (Blogger Secret Ingredient). Trust me, I’m doing you a favor! This salad is so delicious and you don’t risk gaining ten pounds if you go wild and eat the entire recipe.  Which you might be tempted to do with the cheesecake.

OK, so I’m a mango purist.  Mangoes are my absolute favorite fruit and I find them so delicious as they are, with nothing added, that it’s hard for me to make a recipe with them.  There is, however, a lovely salad that I make with them from time to time (usually when I have a mango surplus, because using my only mango for anything other than eating plain would be sacrilege) that is so simple and pure in itself, I don’t feel like I’m adulterating the fruit by including it in the salad.

There are only three ingredients and they marry so well together that in the past I have been inspired to give the salad names that would usually be associated with cocktails, like Hawaiian Sunrise and Tropical Paradise.  To keep things simple and pure, in keeping with the recipe itself, I decided to just go with Pineapple & Mango Salad for it’s official title.

I’ve made this salad with parsley, mint and cilantro and I usually prefer the parsley, though any of them will work.  If you think another sounds better, go with that.  I think it is a matter of personal taste, or perhaps even occasion, as when I’m serving it as dessert after a Mexican meal, the cilantro seems best.  And if you want to give it a little more tropical feel, add in some sweetened coconut.  I did that this morning on my second bowl and thought it was nice, though being a mango purist I can’t exactly condone the behavior. ;)

Pineapple & Mango Salad

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1 ripe pineapple
4 ripe mangoes
1/2 cup fresh parsley, mint, or cilantro, chopped fine

Cut a slice off the bottom of the pineapple and cut the top off as well.  Sit the pineapple up on on its now-flat end and slice down around the sides to remove the outside.  Keep cutting until you have no pits remaining in the flesh.  Cut the pineapple into quarters, then slice the middle off of each to remove the pit.  Lay each quarter on its back, cut into thirds length-wise, then chop into chunks.  Place the pineapple chunks in a large bowl.  Peel the mangoes and cut the flesh away from the seed.  Chop the flesh into chunks and add to the bowl.  Add the parsley and stir until combined.  Cover and refrigerate overnight, or at least until well chilled, before serving.

Veronica’s notes: this salad is perfectly delicious when the fruit is ripe, but if yours is a little under-ripe, you can add in some agave nectar or other sweetener of your choice.  If you don’t feel like cutting up a pineapple, you can usually find fresh cut pineapple at salad bars at supermarkets, or even in the refrigerated produce section.  There is a simpler way to cut the flesh from a mango, which is depicted here (I don’t use this method because I feel like I can’t cut the cubes close enough to the skin and I waste too much of the mango), and to see a tutorial on cutting pineapple, click here.

Recipe source: CW (that’s my Mom.  Dad calls her CW, which stands for Crazed Woman, and she calls him “crazy man.”  Gotta love my dysfunctional family! :) )

This is linked with Nutmeg Nanny for BSI: mangoes.

Questions of the day: 1) Is there anything you love so much in its natural state you can’t alter it?  2) What is your favorite fruit?  3) Do you know anyone that has mean/teasing pet names for their significant other?

Sweet and Sour Chicken with Green Beans


If you’re looking for the usual fried “chicken” pieces (is that grisly stuff really chicken? It seems rather suspicious to me!) served with scary hot pinkish-red sauce, you’re in the wrong place! What I have instead is a wonderful version that does not involve frying, but does involve real chicken, with the only red in it coming from the peppers.  It’s real.  It’s healthy.  It’s bright & colorful.  It’s delicious!  For reals.

Although I found this recipe unique and refreshing, I balked a little at the green beans.  They just seem so random!  I considered subbing green peppers, but I went with it and it all worked great, plus they made for a some nice visual variety amidst the square-ish chunks of chicken and peppers.  I’d recommend following the directions, however, and cutting the green beans in half, because I discovered that forgetting to do so makes serving and eating them kind of tricky. Oh well, it was still delicious and there’s always next time!

Sweet and Sour Chicken with Green Beans

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1 cup long-grain brown rice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 bell peppers (any color) seeded and diced large
1/2 lb green beans, trimmed and halved
5 scallions, thinly sliced
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
3 garlic cloves, minced

Cook rice according to package directions. Heat oil over high in wok. Add chicken, peppers, green beans and cook until softened, 5 min. Add scallions, ginger garlic and cook until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender, 4 min. Whisk soy sauce mixture, add to skillet, and cook until sauce is thickened, 3 min.

Serves 4. Per serving: 470 calories; 7 g fat; 63 g carb; 7 g fiber; 39 g protein

Recipe source: Everyday Food January/February 2011

This post is linked with Cupcake Muffins for this week’s BSI: green beans!

Chocolate Torte


*A note before the blog: I have updated my cherry cordials recipe with notes on how to make sure the centers liquify and included a new picture from my latest batch with liquified centers.

Without realizing it, I scheduled a sandwich bread recipe to post today, Valentine’s Day, which included no mention of love or chocolate, or even an apology for giving a bread recipe on the international day of love.  So I hurriedly snapped pictures of our dessert today so that I could atone for my sins.  ;)

Usually I steer clear of desserts that don’t include real butter, sugar (preferably more than one kind), and white flour.  But I’m discovering that not all sweet treats need to be loaded with fat and processed sugar and flour to taste good.

I made this chocolate torte for our Valentine’s Day dessert and we both loved it with a little whipped cream on top.  It is soft, moist, and almost fudgy because of the dates.  The recipe was born of a mistake, having used dates instead of the prunes it originally called for.  I really liked the result, but will be trying it with prunes next time, which I think will give it more of a cake consistency.  With the dates, it’s somewhere between and a brownie and a cake.  It definitely tastes healthier than regular full-fat and full-sugar desserts, but not in an off-putting way.  It is probably my favorite diet-friendly dessert to date!  That it has natural, whole-food ingredients like dates and whole wheat flour is as an added bonus and makes me feel like I’m almost eating health-food.

Chocolate Torte

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1/3 cup cocoa powder, plus 1 tsp for dusting
1 cup dates, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup strong, hot coffee
1/3 cup whole-wheat flour
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tbsp egg substitute or 1 egg white
2 tsp vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350˚. Coat a 9″ tart pan with cooking spray. Dust with 1 tsp cocoa. Set aside. Combine dates and coffee in a large bowl. Set aside to cool. Sift remaining 1/3 cup cocoa, flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a small bowl and stir. To the date mixture, add sugar, applesauce, egg substitute and vanilla and stir until combined. Pour dry mixture into the wet and stir until combined. Pour into prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out mostly clean, about 25 minutes. Cool completely before removing and slicing. Serve with whipped cream.

Serves 8. Per slice: 153 calories; .7 fat; 43 g carbohydrates; 4 g fiber; 3 g protein

Recipe source: adapted from Self

Oatmeal Sandwich Bread


This isn’t my favorite bread, but it does have a great, wholesome & hearty flavor. It is an excellent loaf for slicing and making sandwiches. My favorite use for it is making grilled cheese sandwiches, and I also made some yummy ham and cheese melts (with apricot preserves spread on the insides) that this bread was wonderful with. This makes a very large, tall loaf, so if you prefer you can make two smaller, shorter loaves with the dough as I chose to, which makes the bread go further, although your sandwiches will be smaller.  I’m on a mission to lose these last 15 pounds so the smaller sandwiches totally fits in with my plan!  I love it when I can eat real food (read: non-“free” stuff.  Free is good as long as it’s not associated with fat or sugar!) and stay within my calorie budget.

Be sure to check out the recipe source at the end–this gal has tons of healthy, delicious recipes!  I won her low-fat cinnamon rolls in an online bake sale auction and I have to say they are crazy good.  I never thought to replace butter in the filling with applesauce–brilliant!

Oatmeal Sandwich Bread

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2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon yeast
3 tablespoon molasses
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
1 cup rolled oats
4 tablespoon butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 tablespoon salt

For optional topping
1 egg, beaten with a teaspoon of water
2 tablespoons rolled oats

Butter a large bowl and a 9″ loaf pan and set aside. In a large mixing bowl or food processor fitted with a dough hook, mix together water, yeast and molasses. Allow the yeast to stand for 5 minutes until it begins to bubble. Add the whole wheat and bread flour, the oats and the melted butter. Stir to combine. Cover with towel and let rise for 30 minutes. Add in salt and then mix until dough pulls away from sides and becomes a ball. You can add a tablespoon or two of flour or water if necessary. Scrape dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 5-10 times. Place into the large, buttered bowl. For the first rise, scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it a few times. Put the dough into the buttered bowl, cover with a towel, and leave it to rise for about 1 hour or until it doubles in size. Turn dough out onto floured surface after first rise. Shape by folding into a square, folding top down towards center and bottom up towards the center. Pinch the new top and bottom together to seal, roll to shape and place in the loaf pan, seam side down. Allow to rise in a warm place, covered with a towel for one hour or until dough rises an additional half its size. Preheat oven to 400° F. Right before placing in oven, brush egg wash over the top of the loaf and sprinkle on the rolled oats. Bake for 40 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack. The loaf slices best when at room temperature.

Veronica’s notes: I substituted rapid-acting yeast as usual, so I mixed it in with the dry ingredients and then added the wet–no proofing necessary.  You don’t technically have to do two rises when you use rapid-acting/instant yeast, so you can just shape it into a loaf and let it rise once before baking, but I usually go ahead and do two rises anyway to develop a more yeasty flavor.

I calculated the nutritional information based on making two loaves and dividing each into 14 slices.  Per slice: 111 calories; 2.7 g fat; 21 g carbohydrate; 2.2 g fiber; 3.4 g protein

Recipe source: From Apples to Zucchini

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

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Grilled cheese sandwiches paired with tomato soup seem to be childhood staples in America, but I never had a grilled cheese sandwich until I was a teen, and never with tomato soup until much later.  I remember when I went to babysit my neighbor’s little boy she asked me to make him a grilled cheese sandwich and I meekly asked her how to do it.  She was dumbfounded, needless to say.  That was my first grilled cheese experience, at sixteen, but after that I started making them at home.

No one gave me the memo that tomato soup pairs perfectly with them until a few years later, but I ignored it since I’ve never liked condensed tomato soup.  That is until I discovered Pacific Natural Foods’ Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup.  That’s when I started serving the classic combo of grilled cheese and tomato soup.  I loved that stuff!

This homemade version is thicker and a little tangier, perhaps because I used jarred red peppers and yogurt rather than roasting them myself and adding heavy cream or milk, but it is just as delicious with the benefit of a homemade taste.  Add more or less sugar to your tastes, and if you decide to use peppers you roasted yourself, please let me know how that turns out–that’s how I’m going to try it next!

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

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1 jar (12 oz) roasted red peppers in brine, drained
1 can (14.5 oz) fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 can (28 oz) tomato puree/crushed tomatoes
1 cup low-sodium and fat-free chicken broth
3 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
Croutons, for serving

Combine drained peppers and diced tomatoes in a blender. Puree until smooth. Alternatively, you can place them in your pot and use an immersion blender to puree until as smooth as you like. I left some little chunks in mine because I like a little texture. Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat, or just add it to the pot if your puree is already in it. Add pepper-tomato mixture, tomato puree, chicken broth, sugar, salt and pepper. Heat just to simmering, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in yogurt. Return to stove and heat through. Ladle soup into bowls; top each with a few croutons.

Makes 6 servings.  Per serving:  139 calories; 2.5 g fat; 24 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 3.5 g protein.  (Calories calculated with 4 croutons per serving)

Recipe source: adapted from Family Circle, February 2011.

Lighter Northern Cornbread

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The civil war may have ended over 100 years ago, but there are still some battles between the north and south that continue to rage.  The cornbread issue, for instance.  It basically boils down to unsweetened (the south) versus sweetened (the north).  (Isn’t it ironic that the issue of the iced tea is the opposite, the south preferring sweetened?)  I was raised on a hearty whole wheat, unsweetened variety, and loved smothering it with butter and eating it with pinto beans during the cold winter months.  But now that I’m an adult and making my own cornbread, I most often make the northern kind since my hubby won’t eat the other.   I’m Switzerland–a fan of both, which is apt since we live in the middle of the US and aren’t really in the north or the south.

For you that enjoy northern-style cornbread, you can find the absolute best recipe here, but if you’re looking for something a little lighter, I’ve come up with a great one for you that won’t disappoint!

Lighter Northern Cornbread

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1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup fine yellow cornmeal
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup nonfat milk
½ cup canola or vegetable oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350; grease a 9×9 pan and set aside.  Combine dry ingredients in large bowl and stir.  Add wet ingredients and stir just until mixed (it’s OK if there are some lumps).  Bake 30-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Cut into rows of 4 x 4 to make 16 squares.

Per square: 137 calories; 5.5 g fat; 19 g carbohydrate; .8 g fiber; 3 g protein

Recipe by Veronica Miller

Out of curiosity, how do you prefer your cornbread and tea?  Sweet or not?

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