Spicy Bacon “Fried” Rice

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Spicy Bacon “Fried” Rice
Serves 2
Can be doubled | Can be halved | Makes great leftovers | Can be frozen

Oh my goodness this is a tasty treat! And it’s so much healthier than ordering fried rice in a Chinese restaurant where the tendency is to use copious amounts of questionable oils. Plus, you don’t see bacon fried rice on many menus… My mother in law has been making her version of this dish since my hubby was a kid and he loves it, which was my motivation for creating a Tablespoon version of the dish. Here at home we throw in whatever vegetables we have around, always starting with onions, carrots and frozen baby peas. Try mushrooms, water chestnuts, broccoli, peppers, baby corn, snap peas…    ~ Susan

Ingredients

2 strips of thick cut bacon – diced
1 cup onion – diced
1 cup carrots – diced
1 cup thawed baby peas
3-4 cups leftover cooked rice – try white or brown basmati rice
2 eggs – whipped with a fork until well blended
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
tamari soy sauce to taste
asian style hot sauce to taste

Instructions

Heat a large non-stick (or well seasoned cast iron) skillet over medium heat and add the diced bacon. Stir fry until it begins to brown and the fat renders from the meat. Turn off the heat. Remove bacon pieces to a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up excess fat. Strain off most of the remaining fat drippings from the pan, keeping just enough to stir fry the remaining veggies.

Return pan to the heat, add onions and carrots and stir fry until they are getting lightly browned and a bit tender. Add the eggs and sea salt and slowly stir, allowing eggs to “scramble” until well cooked. Add the bacon, the peas, and the rice and combine it all well. Add tamari and hot sauce to taste and serve while hot!

Serving Suggestions

A side of sauteed spinach or stir fried cabbage are great side dishes to go with this rice, or a marinated cucumber salad would be great too!

Vegetarian Substitutes

Try diced shiitake mushrooms, or diced smokey tempeh strips, also called “fakin bacon, or small diced seitan in place of the bacon, or simply omit the bacon and make a tasty veggie fried rice.

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Tomato Macaroni Soup with White Beans & Kale

Tomato Macaroni Soup with White Beans & Kale Low Fat Recipe

Tomato Macaroni Soup with White Beans & Kale
Serves 4 – 6
Can be doubled | Makes great leftovers | Freezes well
Vegetarian Substitutes

This is something we threw together the other day out of things we had in the house. It turned out remarkably good and was very easy to make. I “cheated” a little when creating this recipe, adding some jarred pasta sauce that needed to be used up, but the result was so tasty I’m not going to change a thing, we’ll make it the exact same way next time. And yes, after enjoying this soup for dinner two nights in a row we’ve already decided there will definitely be a next time, and we’ll be doubling the recipe!     ~ Susan

Ingredients:

1/2 cup onion – small dice
1/2 cup celery – small dice
1 cup carrot – small dice
1 quart (4 cups) *homemade chicken broth (or two 14.5 oz cans of organic broth)
2 cups jarred pasta sauce (we used Classico tomato basil – very low fat, all natural!)
2 cups cooked whole grain macaroni
1 can white cannelini beans – rinsed & drained
6 cups chopped kale leaves – stems removed
1/2 teaspoon each of dried basil, oregano & thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried granulated garlic
sea salt & black pepper to taste

optional – chopped parsley & scallions for garnish

*We prefer homemade broth to most store bought varieties, especially some of the boxed organic broths, which have way too many flavors added. Our is nothing more than the water left over from when we poach chicken for chicken salad or other chicken recipes. We add a few bay leaves while poaching and lightly season the broth with sea salt. Refrigerate the broth overnight, remove most of the solidified fat the next day and freeze broth in pint & quart containers for uses such as this recipe.

Instructions:

Place the onion, celery and carrot in a large soup pot with the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 10 minutes.

Add everything else, bring back to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer another 5 minutes.

Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking, and serve! We garnished ours with chopped parsley and scallions.

Serving Suggestions:

Slices of whole grain bread with a sprinkle of parmesan on top, popped in the toaster oven, was our accompaniment of choice – a perfect combination with the soup!

Vegetarian Substitutes:

Use your favorite vegetable bouillon or broth in place of the chicken broth.

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Poached Huevos Rancheros

Poached Huevos Rancheros low fat recipe

Poached Huevos Rancheros
Serves 2
Can be doubled | Can be halved

This is one of our favorite meals of all time. Seriously, Scott and I eat this a lot! It’s fantastic for breakfast, but makes an equally good lunch or dinner. The combination of eggs, whole grain corn and beans provides great fuel for the body which is also quite easy to digest. If you like Mexican flavors this is going to be a new favorite in your recipe collection. You’ll need 3 pans on the stove (or you can use a microwave for the beans), and a bit of coordination and timing to get everything on the plate, but the extra effort is all worth it when you take that first bite!    ~ Susan

Ingredients:

4 eggs
1 can of black beans
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup of your favorite salsa – try Shivani’s roasted salsa recipe!
1 teaspoon of your favorite hot sauce
1/4 cup water
4 corn tortillas
1 heaping tablespoon shredded sharp cheddar – Cabot makes outstanding cheddars which are widely available, our favorite is the Racer’s Edge sharp cheddar – we love those Vermont cheeses!
sliced scallions for garnish

Instructions:

Fill a large non-stick skillet (or well seasoned cast iron skillet) with just enough water to poach the eggs (I like my yolks to stay bright yellow, so I poach in a shallow amount of water to keep the tops of the yolks from turning white). Turn on heat to get the water boiling.

Meanwhile, open the can of black beans, drain out a little bit of the liquid from the top. Add the cumin, salt & pepper directly into the can and stir well to combine. Put about 1 cup of black beans in a small pan (or microwave safe bowl) and heat just until hot. Set aside. Save the rest of bean mixture for another use.

Put the salsa, hot sauce and 1/4 cup water into a shallow wide saucepan, big enough to fit a corn tortilla without bending it. Stir the mixture together and turn on the heat. This is your “ranchero” sauce.

Crack 2 eggs at a time into a small dish and gently slide them into the poaching water. Repeat with remaining 2 eggs. Turn heat down to medium and let them cook for about 3-4 minutes, this will give you nicely poached eggs with slightly soft yolks.

While eggs cook, dip one corn tortilla into the warm salsa mixture, leave it in the sauce just for about 10 seconds, then use a wide spatula to transfer it to your plate. Repeat process with other tortillas, putting 2 tortillas on each plate, the second tortilla almost on top of the first one, but a little off center so they’re not completely stacked on on top of each other.

After you plate the sauced tortillas, you can put the heat up to high for a minute to “cook down” the sauce if you want it a little thicker. Divide the rest of the warm ranchero sauce over the tortillas. Use a slotted spoon to remove the eggs from poaching water and place 2 eggs atop each of the 2 tortillas. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the eggs. Spoon the beans onto the plates next to the eggs and tortillas, top with plenty of sliced scallions and dig in!

Serving Suggestions:

Breakfast – this needs nothing else, it’s a perfect meal to start your day.

Lunch or dinner – add a big salad (try lettuce with shaved red cabbage and grated carrots) to complete the meal.

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Shrimp & Broccoli Lo Mein

shrimp and broccoli lo mein lowfat recipe

Shrimp & Broccoli Lo Mein
Serves 2
Can be doubled | Can be halved | Makes great leftovers
Vegetarian Substitutes

Sometimes you just want noodles, and nothing else will do. I’ve been in carbohydrate mode during this pregnancy — apparently it takes a lot of extra carbs to grow a baby! That’s okay, any good reason to eat more carbs is fine by me… This dish is a perfect quick meal, easy enough for any night of the week and impressive enough for dinner guests or special occasions. It’s another one of those recipes where you can make endless combinations: using different vegetables, substituting tofu or chicken for the shrimp, adding hot sauce or fresh chiles to spice it up. Have fun using your own creative ideas to make this dish your own.       ~ Susan

Ingredients:

1 lb pre-cooked peeled & deveined shrimp
2-3 cups cooked & drained whole grain noodles: udon, angel hair, linguini, etc…  (or, use rice noodles to keep it wheat-free)
1 1/2 teaspoons peanut oil
1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 cup sliced mushrooms
3 cups fresh broccoli florettes
1 cup sliced carrots – slice in half the long way, then into diagonal slices
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 heaping teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup water
tamari soy sauce to taste – we use San J wheat-free tamari
1/3 cup sliced scallions – slice them on a strong diagonal for a great presentation
optional – hot sauce to taste

Instructions:

Heat the peanut oil in a large nonstick skillet (or well seasoned cast iron skillet) on medium heat. Leave the oil in a little pool as opposed to spreading it in the pan.

Add the garlic and ginger to the oil, spread it out just enough to let everything cook evenly over the heat, and let it all sizzle for a few seconds without actually browning.

Add the sherry and the mushrooms, and let it all simmer for about 30 seconds.

Add the cornstarch/water mix, and about 2 tablespoons of tamari soy sauce. Stir with a wooden spoon or spatula over the medium heat until it begins to thicken.

Add broccoli, carrots and shrimp and stir it all together for about a minute – just until broccoli is bright green and shrimp is heated throughout.

If sauce gets too thick just add a little more water and stir it in.

Add noodles and toasted sesame oil. Toss everything together using two spatulas or wooden spoons to evenly coat the noodles with the sauce. Add more tamari to taste if you like.

To serve – divide mixture equally onto two plates, and scatter the scallions over the noodles.

Serving Suggestions:

Put hot sauce on the table for each person to spice it up as they like. I like this dish best with a good dose of Frank’s Red Hot on top – it adds a zesty tanginess as well as a kick!

Not in the mood for noodles? Try using cooked brown rice in their place.

Vegetarian Substitutes:

Tofu, edamame or seitan is perfect in place of the shrimp.

Yogurt with Berries and Almonds

yogurt with berries and almonds

Yogurt with Berries & Almonds
Serves 1
Can be doubled | Can be halved

Oh my goodness, this week has been crazy, and the weather has been hot! Any meal where I don’t have to use the oven or stove on has been calling my name. Being so busy, I’ve been eating “on the fly”, so this dish has been a frequent choice for breakfast and lunch. It’s quick, and so satisfying, while at the same time very light and refreshing. I can throw it together in a snap, and it’s chock full of natural food nutrition! Think of this as a fresh alternative to yogurt and granola. It’s lighter in fats and calories and (in my humble opinion), much healthier for the body. The added complex carbohydrates from the optional oats provide an extra energy boost, and I love the added texture too!     ~ Susan

Ingredients:

1 cup of your favorite lowfat yogurt, Stonyfield Farms is organic, and widely available
1 cup fresh strawberries – quartered
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon sliced raw almonds
optional – 2 tablespoons raw rolled oats – we love Bob’s Red Mill brand

Instructions:

If you want to make a beautiful presentation for guests or just for yourself, start with the yogurt in a wide shallow bowl, surround the edges with the berries in an artfully arranged pattern, and place the sliced almonds in a little pile in the center.

If you’re adding the oats, put them in the middle of the berries, and then top with the sliced almonds.

When I’m in a hurry I just toss it all together in a bowl and dig in!

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Steel Cut Oats with Spinach & Poached Eggs

steel cut oats with spinach and poached eggs low fat recipe

Steel Cut Oats with Spinach & Poached Eggs
Serves 2
Can be doubled | Can be halved

Being a busy bistro owner/chef, on my feet all day long six days a week, and in my 6th month of pregnancy, I have to keep myself well nourished. Last Saturday morning, after a very busy Friday night dinner rush and only a few hours of sleep before returning to the kitchen at 7am, I needed some serious fuel. And so this delicious “power breakfast” came to be! The oats are rich in complex carbohydrates, spinach is loaded with iron and other important minerals, and the eggs provide a nice protein boost. One great thing about steel cut oats – you can cook up a larger batch and keep it in the fridge for a few days – single portions are easy to reheat. Just put some cooked oats in a pot with a little bit of water, stir on medium heat until hot, and serve. Try this savory combination in place of the more traditional sweet versions of oatmeal for a change, and you just might become hooked. I am!     ~ Susan

Ingredients:

1/2 cup dry steel cut oats – we use Bob’s Red Mill brand, the best we’ve ever had
1 1/2 cups water
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
3 cups tightly packed baby spinach leaves
4 eggs
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
chopped scallions for garnish
hot sauce for extra flavor – try Frank’s Red Hot sauce, it’s one of our faves!

Instructions:

Bring the 1 1/2 cups water to boil in a small pot with lid. Add steel cut oats and the 1/8 teaspoon sea salt, stir well, reduce heat to a very low simmer, cover and cook for about 30 minutes, until oats are done to your liking.

A few minutes before oats are done cooking, boil enough water in a medium saucepan to poach the four eggs. I like my poached eggs on the very soft side but a good rule of thumb is to give them about three minutes in the poaching water which will yield partially cooked yolks while still being somewhat soft.

Stir the spinach leaves into the steel cut oats, add a couple of tablespoons of water if necessary to help them mix in, and let the mixture sit, covered, with the heat turned off, for a couple of minutes.

Spoon the oat-spinach mixture into two serving bowls and top each with two poached eggs. Garnish with the chopped scallions and let each person add salt, pepper and hot sauce to their own taste.

Serving Suggestion:

This is truly a meal in a bowl! Start it off with some fresh fruit, add a cup of your favorite tea or coffee and you’ve got an excellent power breakfast to keep you going all morning long.

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Chickpeas & Red Quinoa

Red Quinoa & Chickpea Pilaf

Chickpeas & Red Quinoa
Serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side dish
Can be doubled | Can be halved | Makes great leftovers

This colorful dish can be whipped up in a snap, especially if you have chickpeas already cooked. I like to use dry beans which I’ve soaked overnight and cooked to my liking, but in a pinch I’d certainly reach for a can of chickpeas to use in this recipe. I’ve kept the seasonings pretty simple, since I originally made it for a client to serve alongside the moroccan chicken stew from last week’s post, but you could get creative and add all sorts of herb and spice combinations if you’re serving it as a main course (try adding a generous pinch of savory herbs like thyme and sage, for instance, or spice it up with cumin and a dash of garam masala). This is a great dish to take on a picnic, it’s just as delicious at room temperature as it is hot out of the pot.    ~ Susan

Ingredients:

1/2 cup red quinoa – cooked in 1 cup water till all water is absorbed
2 cups cooked chickpeas
3 large scallions – sliced
1 large garlic clove – minced
2 teaspoons olive oil
a pinch of hot chile flakes
1 teaspoon turmeric
sea salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped parsley

Instructions:

Heat a non stick skillet (or well seasoned cast iron skillet) over medium heat.

Add the oil and let it heat just until it begins to shimmer. Add the scallions and sauté one minute. Add the garlic and chile flakes and let it all sauté one minute more, making sure the garlic doesn’t actually brown by lowering the heat as necessary.

Add the turmeric and stir until well combined.

Add the quinoa, chickpeas parsley and about 1/4 cup of water. Season to taste with salt & pepper and stir it all together. Let it cook for a minute, if needed, to help the water evaporate, and serve!

Serving Suggestions:

As a main dish I’d love it over a bed of spinach salad simply dressed with lemon and olive oil.

As a side dish it’s great with grilled or stewed chicken, or even some simply grilled halibut rubbed with tandoori spices.

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Red Quinoa and Mushroom Pilaf

red quinoa mushroom pilaf

Red Quinoa and Mushroom Pilaf
Serves 2
Can be doubled | Can be halved | Makes great leftovers | Can be frozen

Most people are familiar with quinoa, but have you tried red quinoa? It’s beautiful to behold, and keeps a delightfully firm texture when cooked, compared to the more common “pale” variety. Quinoa is an unusually complete plant-based protein source as it contains a balanced set of essential amino acids. It’s gluten-free, and lower in carbohydrates than other whole grains, which makes it a great choice for anyone watching their carbohydrate intake. I usually cook quinoa with onions, carrots and celery (always sneaking in more vegetables whenever I can). Here, the addition of mushrooms,  green peas and fresh parsley add nice color and texture contrasts and extra layers of flavors. This pilaf recipe works equally well as homey comfort food or a gourmet side dish.     ~ Susan

Ingredients:

1 cup of uncooked red quinoa
1 tablespoon olive oil, butter or ghee
1/4 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced carrot
1 cup sliced mushrooms (button, crimini, shiitake, maitake, chanterelle, etc.)
1/2 cup frozen baby peas or fresh green peas
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or seasoned salt (I love Herbamare) – more or less to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley and/or scallions

Instructions:

Soak quinoa for few hours, covered in water, with a few drops of vinegar or lemon juice added. Soaking in water removes saponins found on the surface of quinoa, while the addition of vinegar or lemon helps deactivate the phytates found in many whole grains (which can block mineral absorption in the intestines). Just put it in a bowl to soak in the morning before work, leave it on the counter, and at dinner time all you need to do is drain and rinse before cooking. Or, soak it overnight to use for breakfast.

Thaw baby green peas to room temperature or cook fresh green peas just until bright green and tender. Set aside.

Heat a medium sized soup pot over med-high heat. Add oil and onion and sautee onion until it is very lightly browned.

Add celery and carrot and sautee one minute more.

Add rinsed and drained quinoa to the pot along with 1 3/4 cups water and the salt. Cover, reduce heat to low and let cook 7-8 minutes.

Add mushrooms, stir to combine, cover and continue cooking on low for another 5 minutes, or until all water is absorbed.

Stir in the peas along with the chopped parsley/scallions just before serving.

Serving Suggestions:

A perfect side dish for simply cooked chicken or tofu.

Try it topped with soft poached eggs! Divine.

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Broccoli Brown Rice

Broccoli Brown Rice
4 servings
Can be doubled| Can be halved| Makes great leftovers

I love the chewy texture and slightly nutty taste of brown rice, but it’s been a challenge to get Mahir to eat it. He claims it has no taste, but it was this dish which changed his very strong opinion.  One day, we were having grilled halibut for dinner garnished only with lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper, and I wanted an interesting side to balance out the simple entree. I asked Tess to help out, and she invented his tasty dish. We were out of white rice so I was planning on giving Mahir a roll as his starch, but when he looked at what I was about to eat and what Meenakshi had already enjoyed, he was tempted enough to give it a try. He’s glad he did because he liked it enough to request it again and again- brown rice and all. He still won’t eat it plain, but as long as I can keep feeding him this version, I won’t complain!     ~Shivani

Ingredients:

1 cup of uncooked brown rice
1 to 2 heads of broccoli
1 bunch of thinly sliced scallions
1 small red pepper cut into thin slices
1 small orange pepper cut into thin slices
1 teaspoon of oil
1 tablespoon of finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon paprika
salt and pepper to taste
1 handful of chopped cilantro (optional)

Instructions:

Prepare rice according to package instructions

Cook broccoli in a pot of boiling water for one to two minutes (it should still be a little crunchy)

Head oil in a large pan on medium heat and fry garlic and scallion for two minutes or until the scallions are just soft

Add in rice and paprika

Add in peppers and cook for two to three minutes or until they are slightly soft but still crunchy

Add in broccoli, and season with salt and pepper.

Mix in cilantro with all the other ingredients and enjoy

Serving Suggestions:

This rice is a perfect side dish for just about any entree including grilled or broiled fish and tofu or chicken marinated with ginger, low sodium soy sauce, garlic and red pepper flakes. Or, make it a one dish meal by adding in tofu or chicken cubes or topping with a fried egg.

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