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Low Calorie Italian Gratin with Fennel, Leek, Zucchini + Potato

Although you won’t find any butter, cream or high-fat cheese in this dish, the flavor was not sacrificed. I made what I think are wise choices…there’s only one potato (the rest is vegetables) and the Italian cheeses are low(er ) in fat and were used sparingly so I feel justified in calling this a “low-calorie gratin”.

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Cod Fish Salad (Italy Meets Puerto Rico)

While I don’t eat cod fish salad often, I always enjoy it when I do…and this week I had a hankering. I like the Italian version with oil-cured olives and tomatoes — and I equally like the Puerto Rican version with avocado and lime juice.

It didn’t take a brainstorm to come up with the idea to combine my favorite elements of each. They certainly are complementary. Two traditional ingredients to the Puerto Rican version that I forgot are hard-boiled eggs and pimentos so we’ll call them optional. :)

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Thanksgiving Burger + Trimmings

I love Thanksgiving. The flavor palette of this holiday meal has me salivating for days before — and digesting/working it off for days after. But what if you could have all of the flavors of Thanksgiving and none of the trappings? And by ‘trappings’, I mean calories.

Imagine you had a shopping list of turkey, pumpkin, sweet potato, apples, raisins…wouldn’t you start thinking “Thanksgiving”?

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A Healthier You (and Me) in 2010

Maybe you can help me. Maybe I can help you.

I recently had a unexpected cholesterol reading. Although my good-to-bad ratio remained good, my LDL number was high. The doctor even suggested medicine. (I declined and am going to try to reduce it on my own (along with a few lbs. if I can).

This was quite a surprise to me, and those that eat with me, because I pretty much eat all the right foods for health and weight maintenance. I rarely eat red meat, ice cream or desserts. I don’t bake cakes, cookies or pies. I don’t deep fry. Nor do I eat fast or processed foods. I don’t even snack on cheese or keep mayo or butter in the refrigerator. Moderation is the queen of my kitchen and table. So, what gives? Continue Reading

Eat Spaghetti and Save Calories and Carbs

These 2 recipes with spaghetti squash will make you forget you’re eating a vegetable instead of pasta. Trust me…I am the Pasta Lover Queen and if I say this is a good substitute, you can take that to the bank. Make that the First National Calorie & Carb Savings Bank!

For anyone unfamiliar with spaghetti squash, it is generally available year round though it’s supposedly at its peak in the fall. While it doesn’t have a distinct taste, it does have texture and, therefore, can be subsituted for pasta, rice or other starches. Somewhat like tofu, it takes on the flavor of what you mix it with. It also somewhat reminds me of the experience you have if you ever ordered a combo plate of ribs and chicken at a barbeque place? Didn’t the chicken and ribs taste exactly the same? What about breading and frying? You basically taste the breading and frying. This is not that different, only healthier. It’s all about the preparation.

Spaghetti Pie
1/2 spaghetti squash (fork shredded)
handful or two of fresh spinach
a few calamata olives smashed and pitted
3 marinated artichoke hearts chopped
feta (small amount or to taste)
mozzarella (small amount or to taste)
sliced tomato

Bake whole, microwave or boil till fork tender. Halve and remove seeds and then begin shredding process with a fork (making spaghetti). Toss with a drizzle olive oil and 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning*. Layer half of the mixture into an oiled pan, top with spinach, artichokes, feta, top with remaining spaghetti squash, sliced tomatoes, olives and sprinkling of mozzarella. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Serves 2 for dinner with a salad or other side, or 4 side dishes as a vegetable, or 1 hungry person (oops, did I say that?)

So we still have another half of the squash left and I just love this Spaghetti Trio. (I guess because it incorporates a little real pasta.)The Holy Trio: julienned zucchini, 1-2 ozs spaghetti per person, spaghetti squash. Boil spaghetti, drain and toss with spaghetti squash and zucchini in a skillet with sauce ingredients (below) to meld flavors.

The sauce: Mix olive oil, juice of a lemon, garlic, squeeze of tomato, anchovy, black olive pastes.

*Italian Seasoning: I’m loving this mixture of capers, olives and oregano that someone gave me as a gift.

Finishing Touch: Another sprinkle of Italian Seasoning, a dash of red pepper flakes, and grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Here’s spaghetti squash in a Nuevo Latino way: camarones, spaghetti squash and black beans.

It’s a very versatile vegetable. Do you have any favorite recipes to share that include spaghetti squash?

What’s for Breakfast? A Low-Calorie Treat.

I try to keep a low-fat kitchen and I love to make breakfast interesting, but I don’t generally count calories. I just work at two things: purchasing the right products when I’m at the market and keeping a variety of options at hand.

I’ve made this breakfast (or something similar) many times…it’s easy and pleasing to the eye and palate. And I always thought it was healthy, but today I decided to put it to the calorie test and document it.

2 EGGO NutriGrain waffles 140 calories
1/2 apple stewed in water with a cinnamon stick 27 calories
1 tablespoon no-fat sour cream 12 calories
1 walnut half 14 calories
2 dates 40 calories

Total calories: 233 

I’m a little disappointed that the little sucker of a date holds so many calories (1 serving of 5-6 = 120 calories) and I’ll be more judicious of their use in the future. If I hadn’t thrown them in the pot with the apple (and they really weren’t needed), this breakfast would have come in under 200 calories.

Just some food for thought.
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