Monthly Archives: April 2013

Greek Yogurt – An Easy Breakfast

20130430_080407I love nonfat greek yogurt.  It’s packed with protein and calcium.  It is great for cooking.  You can throw a bit in curries and braises and it provides a creamy texture and a nice tart flavor.  I eat it for breakfast and it stays with me well into snack time. Fage, Oikos, and Chobani are fabulous, but they hurt my weekly grocery budget.  Living in Vermont for ten years, I’ve come to trust the Cabot brand.  They are part of a northeast dairy cooperative, and help to get dairy farmers the prices they deserve while expecting ethical and sustainable farming practices. I buy about two quarts a week, and the Cabot Greek is a lot cheaper than the brands listed above.

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Try some for an easy breakfast:

1/2 cup 2% lowfat or nonfat greek yogurt (90 or 70 calories)

1/2 cup frozen blueberries (30 calories)

1 cup cheerios, puffed rice, or low calorie cereal of your choice (100 or 60 calories)

Toal Calories = between 160-220

Try it for breakfast.  The protein helps to keep you content throughout the morning!

Fruit Snack Bars

20130428_071910 Keeping on track with my diet requires eating at least two snacks a day.  I am always looking for wholesome and easy snacks to take with me to work or to pack in the kid’s lunches.  I was buying a lot of cereal and protein bars. My criteria for acceptable bars to purchase was bars that were under 200 calories,  contained less than 12 grams of sugar, costs less than $2 a piece, and didn’t contain a bunch of crap.  I found myself spending way too much time in the snack bar aisle reading labels.  There were only a couple of brands that fit into my criteria, and even those all contained “soy lecithin.”

Apparently, soy lecithin is an emulsifier, and apparently it is a necessary ingredient in just about EVERYTHING. I had also heard and read a couple of articles about soy containing a compound that mimics estrogen, and that consuming large amounts of soy can trigger early puberty. (Yikes!)  Now, I try and take everything I hear and read with a grain of salt, and I’m not afraid to serve my family some tofu every now and then, or sprinkle some soy sauce on my rice.  I’m not kidding, however, when I say that soy lecithin is in everything, it is.  Start reading some labels, it’s even in the “healthy” foods.  So, I decided to save myself some money (and to hopefully spare my kids from early puberty), and make my own snack bars.

FRUIT SNACK BAR RECIPE

Dough:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat or spelt flour

1/4 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup oat bran

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon

4 Tablespoons coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla

2/3 cup almond milk

Filling:

1 cup dried fruit of choice

1/2 cup water

Note:  Our favorite is blueberry which can get a little pricey.  I’ve also tried fig, raisin, apricot, and cherry.  Be careful to buy dried fruit without a lot of added sugar.

Procedure:

1. Place flours, oats, oat bran, brown sugar, baking powder, and kosher salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine ingredients.

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2. Add the coconut oil.  Pulse the food processor five or six times to cut the oil into the flour mixture.  Note: I love baking with coconut oil.  It is solid at room temperature (like butter but better for you) and it gives your baked goods a nice flavor.

20130425_1706323. While the motor is running.  Add vanilla to almond milk, and slowly pour in the almond milk mixture until the mixture.  Pulse the mixture until it comes together in large clumps.

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4.  Dump dough mixture out onto a sheet of plastic wrap.

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5.  Pulling up the sides of the plastic wrap, form the dough into one large rectangle.

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6. Wrap the dough well with the plastic wrap, and set aside.

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7. Place the dried fruit and water in a saucepan.  Simmer slowly over low heat until the fruit incorporates most of the water.  Place fruit in the food processor and process until smooth.  Place the fruit mixture into a container with a lid.

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8.  Place the dough and the fruit mixture in the refrigerator and chill for at least two hours.

9.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Remove the dough from the fridge, unwrap, and cut into two equal pieces.  Dust your work surface with flour, and sprinkle the top of the dough with flour as well.

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10. Roll each piece into a 13 by 4 inch rectange.

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11. Spread half of the fruit mix evenly down each rectangle. Chef tip:  Get these little pastry spatulas, they come in real handy.  I have them in several sizes.

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12. Fold one long side of the dough over the fruit mixture. Brush the edge with water, and fold up the other side.  Press gently to seal the dough together.

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13.  Turn the whole package over, so it is seam side down.  Cut each package into seven rectangles, trimming up the edges.

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14. You should get fourteen bars. Place on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper.

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15.  Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.  They should be golden brown and firm to the touch.  Enjoy!  Calories = 145 per bar.

Pizza!

Who doesn’t love pizza?  It is, hands down, Will and Lidia’s favorite food.  I have been perfecting homemade, low calorie, tasty pizza for a while. My kids actually prefer my healthy pizza to eating out.

The key to good pizza is the sauce. The Fiore family red sauce is simple, healthy, easy, and good enough to drink.

When it comes to cheese, remember this tip:
less is more.  I know it is easy to get excited about cheese, but too much can ruin a good pie (not to mention the unnecessary calories).

Lastly, don’t be intimidated by making your own pizza dough.  It is a pretty simple process, it just takes a bit of time.  I like to make a double or triple batch, portion the dough into individual portions, wrap in plastic, and keep in the freezer for months.  On a busy day, you can pull the dough balls out of the freezer (they only take a couple of hours to defrost at room temperature), add your sauce, toppings, and cheese, and bake.

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Many people ask me how I find the time to make everything from scratch.  If I set aside some time each week (or an hour or two a day),I make large batches of several foods and freeze.  I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to have a stocked pantry and freezer full of healthy food for your family to enjoy.

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PIZZA RECIPE
 
Pizza Dough
2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 cups wheat or spelt flour
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp honey
1 tsp kosher salt
1 3/4 cups warm water
Place flours, yeast, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer and stir with a whisk to mix well.  Measure the warm water in a wet measuring cup.  Add the honey and olive oil to the water.  Mix well with a whisk.  While the mixer is running on low, slowly add the liquid.  Mix until combined. Lightly coat a stainless steel bowl with olive oil spray.  Place the dough in the bowl, cover with a towel, place in a warm spot, and allow to rise for 1 1/2 hours, or until it has doubled in bulk. When the dough is finished rising, divide it into six equal pieces.  roll each piece into a ball.  Cover the dough balls with a towel and allow to rest. At this point, you can wrap dough balls that you don’t need individually with plastic wrap and freeze.
While the dough is resting, make the sauce:
Fiore’s Red Sauce
1/4 cup chopped fresh garlic
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
1-28 ounce can strained tomatoes
2 1/4 tsps kosher salt
1/2  cup red wine
3/4 cup water
Slowly heat a dutch oven or large saucepan.  Add olive oil, garlic, and salt.  Very slowly cook the garllic over low heat, stirring frequently until translucent and fragrant.

Add the tomatoes, wine, and water.  Stir well.  Bring mixture to a simmer, and reduce by half or until thickened, at least one hour.

Note:  If you want to use whole tomatoes, you can blend the the sauce after you cook it.  A hand blender or speed controlled blender works well to keep a nice consistency.

Yield: 3cups sauce.  194 calories/cup.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly dust work surface.  Roll dough out to a 1/8 inch circle.  Place dough on a sheet tray. Spread 1/2 cup of sauce covering the dough, leaving a 1/4 inch border.  Sprinkle with 1/2 cup part skim mozzarella.  Bake pizza in the oven, about 12 minutes.  Start with the pizza on the lower rack in the oven, moving it to the upper rack halfway through the cooking process. Cook until the cheese begins to turn brown. Let the pizza cool enough to handle, and transfer to a cutting board and slice into 6-8 pieces.

I generally don’t count calories for my kids food, but this pizza is also tasty for adults.  If you cut it into six pieces it comes out to around 90 calories/slice. 20130427_185205

I’m usually pretty crafty when it comes to sneaking veggies into Will and Lidia’s food.   They do not, however, like for me to mess with their pizza.  As far as my food is concerned, I try and cram as many veggies as possible into my meals.  For the record, when it comes to vegetables, I generally don’t include them in my calorie count.  I don’t think I will fail to benefit in any way, shape, or form from eating more vegetables.

So when it comes to my pizza I usually trade in the mozzarella for some feta, and come up with a creative and exciting vegetable combination.  I’m not opposed to olive oil, I know that it contains “good fat,” and is good for you.  It is, however, very high in calories (120 cals/Tblsp), and it adds up.  Since there is already a good amount of olive oil in the sauce, I only use a quick spray pam olive oil spray for sauteing and roasting vegetables. d907e-20130420_201353252802529

This particular pizza has a 1/2 cup red sauce, blanched kale, sauteed red peppers, pepperoncini (I love peppers!  In any form they are virtually free of calories.  Be careful…some are packed in oil.), and one ounce of feta.  It comes in at 75 calories/slice!! Create your own today.

Cottage Cheese with Watermelon & Almonds

Another favorite snack: 1/2  cup lowfat cottage cheese, 1/2 cup cubed fresh watermelon, 12 smoked almonds = 180 calories!  Yum!

Sun-Butter Rice Cake with Chocolate Chips

Sun butter on a rice cake with a few chocolate chips.  One of my favorite snacks.  It contains a lot of protein, and satisfies me until my next meal.

1 rice cake = 60  calories
1 Tablespoon Sunflower Butter = 100 calories
10 dark chocolate chips = 30 calories
Total = 190