Bacon & Leek Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Bacon Leek Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Bacon & Leek Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Serves 4
Can be doubled | Can be halved | Makes great leftovers
Vegetarian Substitutes

I had some bacon left over from making the Bacon “Fried” Rice a couple weeks back,  and here’s what I did with it! This recipe is inspired by my favorite dish served at Wolf’s Biergarten in Albany, a popular haunt among our group of friends for birthday celebrations. Fresh brussels sprouts get fantastic flavor from leeks and bacon, livened up with the bright flavors of lemon and thyme. This is one of those recipes that can change a person’s mind about brussels sprouts. Folks who don’t usually like them have been seen devouring large portions of these!      ~ Susan

Ingredients

1 cup thinly sliced leeks – use the lighter part closer to the roots, save the green part for another use
2 strips of bacon – diced
1 lb brussels sprouts – cut in half
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons water
fresh lemon wedges

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400F.

Cook diced bacon in a skillet until nicely browned, but not burned. Remove bacon from excess fat and let it drain on a plate lined with a brown paper bag or unbleached paper towel.

Toss leeks, cooked bacon and brussels sprouts together with the olive oil, thyme, salt, pepper and water.

Arrange mixture on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until water is evaporated, and brussels sprouts are lightly browned but still slightly crunchy.

Serve them hot from the oven with a generous squeeze of fresh lemon.

Serving Suggestions

Excellent with grilled chicken sausages and boiled new potatoes.
Try them with a roast chicken and a side of brown basmati rice or quinoa.

Vegetarian Substitutes

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Try using Smokey Tempeh Strips (Fakin Bacon) in place of real bacon, you’ll love it.

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Creamy Beet Salad

Creamy Beet Salad Low Fat Recipe

Creamy Beet Salad
Serves 2
Can be doubled | Can be halved | Makes great leftovers

In this recipe, simply steamed beets are paired with a ridiculously easy dressing and some crisp raw red onion to create an elegant appetizer or side dish that is a treat for the eyes and the taste buds. While beets are available all year round, their peak season around these parts is from June through October, so I’ve been taking advantage of the gorgeous varieties available from our local farmers lately. When you buy a bunch, save those beet greens too – they’re fantastic sauteed with a touch of garlic or added to soups!   ~ Susan

Ingredients:

2 medium-small beets, or 1 large
2 tablespoons thinly sliced red onion or sweet vidalia onion
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
optional – chopped parsley, dill or chervil for garnish

Instructions:

Scrub the beets well or peel them.

Slice into thin slices.

Steam beet slices for 3 minutes or just until fork-tender.

Let beet slices cool to room temperature.

In a small dish combine mayo, vinegar, a touch of salt and a good dose of pepper.

Place beets, red onion, and dressing mixture into a mixing bowl and toss gently just until combined. Divide equally onto two plates.

Garnish with fresh chopped herb of your choice and serve!

Serving Suggestions:

I like this salad on its own as an appetizer or snack.

It’s a great side dish for lemony grilled chicken, along with some green vegetables such as steamed broccoli, asparagus or green beans or a green salad.

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Apricot BBQ Chicken Skewers

Apricot BBQ Chicken Skewers Low Fat Recipe

Apricot BBQ Chicken Skewers
Serves 3-4
Can be doubled | Can be halved | Makes great leftovers | Can be frozen*
Vegetarian Substitutes

These are so good. Usually you’d think of cooking chicken skewers on a grill, but lately I’ve been cooking these in a skillet with great success. In a pan the sauce has a chance to really caramelize and coat the chicken, whereas on the grill most of the sauce cooks off. Cook up a batch and keep them in the fridge for a quick snack anytime. Or, marinate a whole batch, cook up half and *freeze the other half for future use. To really infuse the chicken with flavor make sure you marinate for at least 6-8 hours or, even better, 24 hours before cooking. These skewers also make great party food or appetizers!      ~ Susan

Ingredients:

1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs trimmed of all excess fat
1/4 cup fruit-sweetened apricot preserves
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
1/2 cup all natural BBQ sauce – we love OrganicVille original
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions:

Cut trimmed chicken thighs into large bite size pieces.

In a large mixing bowl combine the apricot preserves, vinegar, BBQ sauce, granulated garlic and sea salt.

Add the chicken and mix very well to coat evenly.

Place chicken and all the sauce in a storage container and marinate for at least 6 hours, overnight is ideal.

Thread marinated chicken onto skewers (make sure they will fit in your skillet), leaving space at either end of skewer.

Heat a large non-stick skillet or well seasoned cast iron pan over medium heat and add skewers. Cook skewers, turning a few times, until chicken is cooked throughout and sauce is nicely caramelized. My trick is to keep adding a bit of water to the pan as they cook, so the sauce doesn’t dry out or burn before the chicken is cooked, then I let the water and sauce dry out a little, so it caramelizes and gets nice and thick. Lastly, swirl the chicken skewers through the thickened sauce to make sure plenty of it sticks to the chicken.

Serve these hot, or let cool to room temp.

Serving Suggestions:

As an appetizer you can put one or two of these on a small plate, with a leaf of lettuce underneath.

For a meal, these go great with rice, or roasted vegetables, or boiled new potatoes. We always add a big crunchy salad with lots of colorful vegetables tossed in.

Vegetarian Substitutes:

Try firm extra cubed tofu or seitan in place of the chicken.

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Aparna’s Turkey Tikki’s

Aparna’s Turkey Tikki’s
Serves 2 to 3
Can be Doubled| Can be Halved| Makes Great Leftovers| Freezes Well

The three of us recently spent a week at a lovely beach house in Malibu with our friends Raj and Aparna and their two kids. The house had a huge backyard that overlooked the sea and was so beautiful that we ended up cooking most of our meals on the outdoor grill and canceled many of our dinner reservations. We all had recipes we tried- more of those coming later- but the grande finale to our cookfest was these tikki’s. Tikki’s are basically mini-patties, but you can actually shape these any way you like. They are an old family recipe of Aparna’s and were so good that I made a double batch of them within two days of returning from our trip.

Her recipe uses ground lamb, but I substituted ground turkey breast to make them more Tablespoon friendly. Granted, the grinding of the spices takes a few extra minutes, but once you finish this step, the rest is very fast. And, the roasting gives these a completely different flavor profile than the Turkey Kebabs I posted several weeks ago. The only thing missing when I made them at home was Raj and Aparna’s good company that we so enjoyed the first time around.     ~Shivani

Ingredients:

1 pound ground turkey breast or, for a moister kebab, substitute in 1/3 pound of dark turkey meat for the breast meat
1 teaspoon of red chilli powder
½ teaspoon of garam masala
1 teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of cumin seeds
2 teaspoons of coriander seeds
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
¼ teaspoon nutmeg powder
1 tablespoon crushed ginger
1 tablespoon crushed garlic
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 to 4 green chillies chopped- small Thai or Indian green chillies (use more or less depending on your spice preference)
A handful of chopped cilantro

Instructions

You can use an oven or nonstick grill pan. If using oven, preheat it to 350 degrees.

Roast and grind poppy seeds, coriander seeds and cumin seeds.

Bring the meat to room temperature and marinate with the spices, coriander and onions for at least 2 hours.

Divide the mixture into 12 to 14 small portions and form into patties, almost like a mini-burger size.

In oven, roast for 10-15 minutes or until cooked, making sure to turn over the patties halfway through the cooking. If using grill pan, warm it up over medium heat and lightly mist with cooking spray. Grill for 10 to 15 minutes or until cooked. Be sure to turn over the patties halfway.

Serving Suggestions:

Tuck into a whole wheat pita and top with onion slivers, coriander or tamarind chutney, mango chutney or ketchup. For side dishes, any steamed or lightly sauteed vegetable will do, but if you want to keep with an Indian theme, try My Mother’s Gobi or the Indian Style Mushrooms and Green Beans. Or, serve these patties as an appetizer with toothpicks tucked in.

Lemon & Sage White Bean Spread

Lemon & Sage White Bean Spread Low Fat Recipe

Lemon & Sage White Bean Spread
Serves 3 – 4
Can be doubled | Can be halved | Makes great leftovers

Here’s an easy alternative to hummus, with a different yet equally delicious flavor profile. White cannellini beans puree up smooth and silky, with very little oil needed to create a velvety texture. Our favorite way to enjoy this spread is with freshly baked whole grain bread, but it’s also good with crackers or vegetables for dipping. For a party or special gathering we’ll serve it along with a platter of grilled or roasted vegetables, a dish of olives and plenty of warm homemade bread. White bean spread is a fantastic appetizer, but makes a perfect light lunch or dinner too. And you can have the whole recipe done in five minutes!       ~ Susan

Ingredients:

1 can white cannellini beans – drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon granulated garlic (or 1 good sized fresh clove of garlic, roughly chopped)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (more or less depending on how lemony you like it)
1 teaspoon dried sage (or 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh chopped sage leaves)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
water as needed

Instructions:

Put everything in a food processor and blend until smooth and pureed, adding water in very small increments to make a good creamy consistency.

Taste and add a bit more garlic, lemon and/or salt to get it just the way you like it.

Spoon into a serving dish and garnish with a bit of chopped parsley, or fresh sage if you’ve got it!

Serving Suggestions:

This spread is best when served at room temperature.

Freshly baked whole grain bread is our favorite match, but crackers, pita breads or fresh vegetables are very good too.

The spread and bread ensemble travel well – great for taking to a picnic!

For lunch or dinner, serve the spread and bread ensemble along with a big salad – spicy arugula with a simple balsamic vinaigrette topped with a few shaves of Asiago cheese would be divine.

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Lentil & Spinach Soup

lentil & spinach soup fat free recipe

Lentil & Spinach Soup
Serves 6-8
Can be doubled | Can be halved | Makes great leftovers | Freezes well

We got a break in the hot weather earlier this week, and on a gloriously cool Monday morning I had lentil soup on my mind. I made a big pot of this soup for the cafe, and although the extreme heat and humidity have returned, we’ve served a lot of it! Dressed up here with a few key spices, herbs and frozen chopped spinach (and no added oils or fats), lentils are great any time of year. Even on a warm summer evening, how nice it is to have a big pot of lentil soup in the fridge. All you need is a quick reheat for your portion of soup, a slice of good bread and a big salad – you’ve got an easy, nourishing and not-too-heavy meal.     ~ Susan

Ingredients:

1 16 oz bag dried lentils
2 large bay leaves
1 cup diced onion
1 1/2 cups sliced or diced carrot
1 1/2 cups sliced or diced celery
1 1/2 teaspoons dried granulated garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach – partially thawed – Cascadian Farms organic spinach is perfect
sea salt & black pepper to taste

Instructions:

Sort through the dried lentils (spread them on a large plate or countertop) to be sure they are free of small stones or other debris.

Optional step: Soak dried lentils in a large pot of water for 4 – 6 hours, drain and rinse, then add 8 cups of water and 2 bay leaves. Soaking makes the lentils more digestible and the nutrients more assimilable. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered, for 30 minutes.

Quick version: put dried lentils in a pot, add 8 cups water and 2 bay leaves. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium low and cook, covered, for 30 minutes.

Add onion, carrot, celery, granulated garlic, oregano, basil, cumin and coriander.

Cover and continue cooking on medium-low for another 30 minutes.

Add the chopped spinach (don’t bother with draining it – just add the entire contents of the package). If it’s partially frozen that’s fine, the hot soup will take care of that.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. It’s ready to serve! It will taste even better tomorrow, but why not have some right now?

Serving Suggestions:

Top with fresh chopped herbs of your choice: scallions, parsley, chervil, cilantro, basil, chives… any of these are perfect.

If you like your lentils to taste a little more rich add a little dollop of good butter or a light drizzle of olive oil to each serving.

Try ladling this soup over a bowl of simply cooked whole grains (brown rice, barley, kamut, wheat berries, quinoa, or whole grain couscous), or serve each bowl of soup with a slice of whole grain bread. Add a big green salad – try mixed lettuces with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, sliced red onion and a light sprinkle of  feta, it’s a great match to the flavors of the soup.

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Chilled Gazpacho Soup

chilled gazpacho soup lowfat recipe

Chilled Gazpacho Soup
Serves 2 – 3
Can be doubled | Can be halved

Sometimes, on a hot, humid day, coming up with an appetizing meal can be challenging. On days like that we make gazpacho. Run out to the garden (or farmers market), pick up the goods, grab a can of tomatoes from the pantry, and make a date with your blender! It’s easy, quick, and tastes like a delicious, zesty blended salad in a soup bowl. You can serve it as an appetizer or a salad course with a larger meal, but it’s also perfect as a light lunch or quick snack on its own. Being free of any fats or oils, and made primarily from fresh veggies and herbs along with a squeeze of lemon and some sea salt, it’s naturally cleansing and invigorating for the body. You just feel good after enjoying a bowl of fresh, homemade gazpacho.     ~ Susan

Ingredients:

1 medium cucumber – roughly chopped
1 red or yellow bell pepper – seeded and roughly chopped
1 green pepper – seeded and roughly chopped
1/2 of a large vidalia onion – roughly chopped
1 large or 2 smaller garlic cloves – minced
2 roma tomatoes (or equivalent – roughly chopped)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 14.5 oz can of whole tomatoes plus the juices – we really like Muir Glen brand
sea salt & fresh ground pepper to taste

Instructions:

Put everything except salt & pepper in a blender (in smaller batches if needed) and blend until nicely pureed, while still leaving a bit of texture left in the mix.

Season to taste with salt & pepper.

You might like it with more lemon added, which really livens up the whole flavor.

Serving Suggestions:

Gazpacho is perfect “as is” but you can jazz it up when serving with a drizzle of olive oil, a dash of cayenne pepper, and/or a garnish of fresh snipped herbs such as parsley, chives or scallions.

Toasted whole grain bread topped with a slice of cheese makes this a complete meal, and one you’ll probably be craving again soon!

For a gourmet appetizer serve small bowls of chilled gazpacho topped with chilled cajun-seasoned shrimp and a sprinkle of grilled corn kernels. Gorgeous and delicious.

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Cool & Creamy Greek Yogurt Dip

cool and creamy yogurt dip lowfat recipe

Cool & Creamy Greek Yogurt Dip
Serves 2
Can be doubled | Can be halved | Makes great leftovers

This one’s a frequent snack in our house. It’s quick to make, delicious to eat, and good for you too! Greek yogurt (as opposed to American style plain yogurt) is the key ingredient for a nice thick dip, which mimics sour cream beautifully. We prefer Greek yogurt to sour cream not only because it’s so deliciously tangy and good for digestion, but also because when you want to make something lower in fat, a good quality low-fat or non-fat Greek yogurt is more wholesome than low-fat or non-fat sour cream (which has too many weird additives for our taste).  For a satisfying treat that you can feel good about eating, this is a perfect recipe. Veggies, crackers, chips, everything goes great with this dip!     ~ Susan

Ingredients:

1 cup low-fat or non-fat Greek yogurt – I’ve been loving Greek Gods brand lately
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon granulated onion
1/4 teaspoon Herbamare seasoned sea salt (or plain sea salt) – more or less to taste
1 teaspoon tamari soy sauce (I use San J wheat-free tamari to keep it gluten free)
optional – 2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions

Like it hotter? Add a tablespoon or two of chopped pickled jalapenos, a dash of cayenne pepper or some hot sauce to taste.

Instructions:

Put all the ingredients in a bowl, stir together until well blended. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking and start dipping!

Serving Suggestions:

A crudites of raw vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower, celery, carrots, peppers, snap peas, etc. is a great accompaniment to this dip, especially when you add the scallions to the mixture.

Any kind of crunchy cracker, crisp bread, or chip is a classic combination with a creamy dip.

It’s also perfect in place of sour cream on top of a baked potato.

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Savory Baked Tofu

savory baked tofu low fat recipe

Savory Baked Tofu
Serves 4
Can be doubled | Can be halved | Makes great leftovers

Here’s another no-oil recipe that’s destined for your your collection. Don’t think you like tofu? I’ve changed the mind of many a tofu nay-sayer by offering up these tempting little morsels. This recipe calls for breadcrumbs as a topping – but most commercial brands are made with cheap oils and additives. Making homemade breadcrumbs (from whole grain bread which has been dried out in a warm oven and then ground in a food processor or blender, or crushed whole wheat melba toast works well too) ensures that you are adding only the most wholesome ingredients to your recipes. You can also find some great gluten-free breadcrumbs in the grocery stores nowadays. I always make a double batch of this recipe, it’s just that good!   ~ Susan

Ingredients:

1 package firm or extra firm tofu
1/4 cup tamari soy sauce, I use San J wheat free tamari to keep it gluten-free
2/3 cup apple juice
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1/4 teaspoon dry granulated garlic
a few grinds of black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/3 cup whole grain or gluten-free breadcrumbs

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350F.

Slice the block of tofu in half lengthwise, and then into slices just shy of half an inch thick.

Place the tofu slices in a baking dish.

Combine the tamari, apple juice, sherry in a mixing cup and pour over the tofu. The marinade should come up just above the top of the slices and cover them completely in liquid. If you come up a little short on liquid, just add a bit of water until the mixture reaches the top of the slices and covers them.

Next, combine the granulated garlic, thyme leaves, breadcrumbs and ground black pepper in a little dish and sprinkle evenly over the tofu.

Bake, uncovered, for about 30-40 minutes or until the liquid is almost all gone (the pan should not get totally dried out or the tofu will stick). Remove from oven and serve hot, or let cool to room temp to enjoy as a snack or to keep cold in the fridge.

Serving Suggestions:

Serve tofu hot out of the oven with simply cooked brown rice and steamed greens dressed with a little vinegar and oil.

Try the cold tofu on a sandwich, or straight out of the fridge as an easy snack.

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Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

roasted red pepper low fat hummus recipe

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Serves 2
Can be doubled | Can be halved | Makes great leftovers

We love hummus! I make all kinds of varieties with different flavors blended in, but this one is a great “go-to” for parties or guests. It has a gorgeous color ~ very appetizing when served on a plate surrounded by whole grain pita wedges. Most store bought hummus is made with crappy oils and a lot of them! It’s easy to make your own healthy hummus at home and it tastes so much better than the kind in the plastic tubs. The addition of the roasted red peppers not only adds a beautiful hue but also helps create a smooth, satisfying texture without having to add a lot of oil or tahini. You can double or triple this recipe and have enough to make multiple meals from it.    ~ Susan

Ingredients:

1 cup soft cooked chickpeas (I use dried, soaked overnight, cooked very tender)
1/2 tablespoon sesame tahini
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup roasted red pepper, chopped (the jarred kind is great)
2-3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (start small and add more till it’s right)
1 clove garlic – minced (or about 1/2 teaspoon dried granulated garlic)
pinch of sugar or a few drops of agave nectar
sea salt to taste
water as needed

optional – add a dash of hot red chile flakes, hot sauce or cayenne if you like a hot, spicy hummus

Instructions:

Make sure your chickpeas are cooked very soft, then cooled to room temperature – this creates a nice, creamy texture for the hummus.

Put everything except water in a food processor fitted with the double blade and puree, scraping down the sides to incorporate everything evenly

Add water in small amounts and continue blending until you get the consistency you like.

Taste and add more salt, lemon, garlic to your liking.

The sugar/agave might sound like a weird touch, but sometimes the little element of sweet really brings the whole flavor together. It doesn’t make the hummus taste sweet at all, just rounds out the whole flavor.

Serving Suggestions:

Serve as an appetizer or snack with whole grain pita wedges. Garnish the hummus with a dash of paprika and a parsley sprig for a nice presentation.

Make it a meal for two by serving 2 equal portions of hummus on 2 entree plates, surrounded by sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, red or yellow bell peppers, pita wedges, olives, maybe a sprinkle of feta, and a wedge of lemon.

Use as a sandwich filling!

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