Archive | December 2011

Salmon Cakes

Now, the picture does not do this justice.  If you like salmon, you will love this delicious cake.  It is a Rachael Ray recipe, but I will probably always associate it with my mom since she introduced it to me (who, by the way, this was also cooked by- thanks mom!).  The salad is not included in the recipe, you can make that however you’d like.  We dipped the cakes in a honey Dijon mustard, or mustard/mayo mix which gives it a little more moisture.  You can add or omit that based on your preference.  As a warning,  the recipe is kind of involved, but it is a nice light healthy meal following the holidays!

Ingredients:

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into small chunks

Salt

16 oz (1 lb) salmon filets (fresh from fish market)

1 cup white wine

1 bay leaf

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon seafood seasoning (recommended: old bay)

1.5 cups cracker crumbs (saltines)

1 egg lightly beaten

1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh thyme leaves

1 tbsp. hot sauce

2 scallions, finely chopped

3-4 tbsp. finely chopped fresh dill

3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Put the potatoes in a small pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Salt the water and cook until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain, then return the potatoes to the pot and mash.

Meanwhile, put the salmon fillets in a skillet with the wine, bay leaf, and enough water to come up to the top of the fillets, but do not cover. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat to a simmer and poach until opaque about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the skin and transfer the salmon to a bowl. Flake the fish with a fork and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the mashed sweet potatoes to the bowl along with the seafood seasoning, half of the cracker crumbs, the egg, thyme, hot sauce, scallions, and dill. Mix to combine. The fish cake mixture needs to be just firm enough to mold into cakes. If its too wet, add a few more crumbs.

Heat a skillet, 1 with 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (2 turns of the pan) over medium heat.  Form the salmon mixture into 4 (4-inch) patties, coat in the remaining crumbs, and then add them to the first pan. Cook the fish cakes until light golden, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side.

Source: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/salmon-and-sweet-potato-cakes-with-agrodolce-relish-and-arugula-recipe/index.html

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Oils

“Which oil is the healthiest?”

Recently I was asked this great question by a friend, and I thought I would share it here because I think it is a source of confusion for many people.  You may stand in the grocery store asking yourself, what is the difference between canola oil, olive oil and safflower oil?? They all look exactly the same!

To answer this question, oil as we all know, is a fat.  In general, there are saturated fats and unsaturated fats.  Saturated fats are bad for your health, are scientifically proven to harm your heart and should be consumed in moderation.  Unsaturated fats on the other hand, are necessary for providing insulation for your organs, and you wouldn’t be able to absorb fat soluble vitamins (Vitamins A, D, E and K) without them!

To get slightly more detailed, unsaturated fats consist of polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats.  While both beneficial to your body within the recommended amounts, the U.S. diet is considerably high in polyunsaturated fats, and not high enough in monounsaturated fats.  These monounsaturated fats are beneficial for blood pressure control, and reduce your cholesterol levels when they are used in replacement of the bad saturated fats.  I apologize if I am boring you with the details, I just find it much easier to choose healthier when you know exactly why it is good for your body.

Now that you know the facts, lets break down the numbers of some of the most common fats used in everyday cooking..

Canola Oil: 59% mono, 29% poly, 7% saturated

Olive Oil: 74% mono, 8.4% poly, 13% saturated

Coconut Oil: 6% mono, 2% poly, 86% saturated

Butter: 29% mono, 3% poly, 62% saturated

Overall, low saturated fat is the most important factor to consider, so in this case canola oil “wins” with olive oil following as a very close second.  In general, you want to limit solid fats (butter, lard) and tropical oils (palm kernel, coconut, etc.).  So, if you’re going to saute something in a form of fat, I hope this helps you chose the healthier option.  Personally, I use olive oil most often due to preference of taste.  If there is another oil you prefer and would like the stats on it, feel free to leave a comment and I will look it up!

Not-So-Healthy Cake Balls

After a long week of finals, I decided it was time for a post that is the opposite of nutritious.  Although I will be a future RD, I do love baking.  I often try to experiment with healthier ways to get sweets (ie. using applesauce or pumpkin as a fat substitute), but this time I went full blown not healthy with these cute holiday cake pops as a gift to some family and friends.

How I made them: Bake 24 cupcakes using a store bought cake mix of your choice.  After allowing them to cool, crumble them up and mix with an icing of your choice.  Note: You have to use almost the whole can of frosting and you will have to mix with your hands  (If you are like my sister, this will bother you, so I’m giving you fair warning).  Form into balls and pop into the freezer for about 45 minutes until they are chilled.  Dip into the candy melt of your choice, and add the decorations that work with your theme.  Be creative :)

I hope you like the pictures, and look for a healthy FAQ post in the next few days!

Greek-Style Stuffed Eggplant

Eggplant, anyone? I have found that people either love or hate the taste of eggplant, with unfortunately not much in between.  If you are on the “love” side, I hope you enjoy this recipe I made from arguably the best book that I own, my Cooking Light cookbook.  Just to throw a little nutrition into the mix, eggplants have NO fat, cholesterol or sodium and DO contain fiber, minimal calories, and vitamin C.  Eat up!

Greek-Style Stuffed Eggplant

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggplants, cut in half lengthwise (about 3 pounds)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped plum tomato
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 (1-ounce) slices French bread
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Preparation

  1. Carefully remove pulp from each eggplant, reserving shells. Coarsely chop pulp to measure 6 cups. Place eggplant shells, cut sides down, in a 10-inch square baking dish. Add water to dish. Cover and microwave at high 5 minutes or until shells are tender. Keep warm.
  2. Preheat broiler.
  3. Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add eggplant pulp; saute 7 minutes. Add onion; sauté 2 minutes. Stir in tomato, wine, and garlic; cook 3 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; add feta, 1/4 cup parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper, stirring to combine. Spoon 3/4 cup eggplant mixture into each eggplant shell.
  4. Place the bread slices in food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs measure 1 cup. Combine breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup parsley, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and Parmesan, stirring well. Sprinkle 1/4 cup breadcrumb mixture over each stuffed shell. Arrange shells on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray; broil 2 minutes or until lightly browned.

White Bean Chicken Chili

I think I need to start off this post with the fact that I love Giada de Laurentiis.  For those of you that have no idea what I’m talking about, she is a cute little Italian chef on Food Network and I have never made a recipe of hers that I did not like.  Today I wanted to share with you all one of my favorites that I made this past weekend, especially since it is a warm comfort food for this time of the year (finals for some + the holidays).  If you are someone who couldn’t imagine having chili without beef, I challenge you to give it a try.  While beef is perfectly fine to have in moderation, chicken is a leaner cut of protein that provides a greater ratio of the healthier monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats to saturated fat.  I also love this recipe because of the power of the spices… if you don’t own a spice rack, go and get one, now.  Right now!  It will give you the chance to add tons of flavor to your food with no added calories or fat.  Enjoy :)

 

Giada’s White Bean Chicken Chili

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 pounds ground chicken (I only used 1.5lb)

1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning

2 tablespoons ground cumin (I only used 1 tbsp due to the cost of cumin and it still tasted great)

1 tablespoon fennel seeds

1 tablespoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons chili powder (I don’t like too much heat so I only used 1.5 tsp)

3 tablespoons flour

2 (15-ounce cans) cannellini or other white beans, rinsed and drained

1 bunch (about 1 pound) Swiss chard, stems removed, leaves chopped into 1-inch pieces*

11/2 cups frozen corn, thawed

4 cups low-sodium chicken stock

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Freshly ground black pepper for seasoning

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

*If you are unfamiliar with swiss chard, is it a leafy vegetable you can find in the produce section.  If it’s not available, you can use spinach or another leafy green that you prefer.  When chopping it up, you need to discard the white or pink (depending on the type you by) ribbing in the middle of the leaf.  Just use a knife to cut around it, saving the leafy greens for the recipe.  1lb may seem like a lot but it wilts down to 1/4 of the size when cooking.

Directions:
In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the ground chicken, 1 teaspoon salt, cumin, fennel seeds, oregano, and chili powder. Cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken is cooked through, about 8 minutes. Stir the flour into the chicken mixture. Add the beans, Swiss chard, corn, and chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a simmer, scraping up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Simmer for 55-60 minutes until the liquid has reduced by about half and the chili has thickened. Add the red pepper flakes and simmer for another 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Ladle the chili into serving bowls. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.