Hamburger Soup

Hamburger Soup

  • Servings: 10 of 1 cup
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Cold weather is upon us. Comfort food is a must. I love seeing the leaves turning colours, cooler nights for sleep, but salads get pushed aside for cozier foods. Here is one of them.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves or 1 tsp of garlic powder
  • 19 ounce can (540ml) of chopped tomatoes
  • 10 oz can (284 ml) tomato soup (preferably sodium reduced)
  • 1 tsp worchestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups of low sodium beef broth (I use campbell)
  • 3 medium carrots peeled and sliced (relatively thin)
  • 1 cup chopped cabbage

Directions

  1. In a large pot or dutch oven, brown the meat and drain off excess fat.
  2. Add onions and garlic and cook on low heat until onions are tender.
  3. Add tomatoes, tomato soup, worchestershire sauce, salt, pepper, and broth.
  4. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. Add the vegetables and simmer for an additional 30 minutes.

Nutrition Per Serving

  • Calories 122
  • Fat 4.8 g
  • Sugar 5 g
  • Carbohydrates 8.5 g
  • Protein 11.2 g
  • Fibre 1.7 g

This is an easy soup that is both nutritious and low calorie. It can be served as an appetizer or as a main course. We had it as a main course and it made 6 bowls. You can serve it with a nice sunflower and flax seed bread (see recipe), white bread (see recipe) or country biscuits (see recipe).

Overall, it was a nice comfort food for a cooler night. If you want it spicy, you can add a little cayenne pepper to taste. You can add extra veggies like frozen corn. Possibilities are endless, so have fun and make it your own.

Light Apple Crisp

Light Apple Crisp

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: Easy
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It’s apple picking time. That usually means, we have extra apples. Apples are very versatile. Nothing quite like an apple pie, or apple crumble, or apple crisp. So I went looking for a recipe that would fit the bill and not over do it on the sugar. I found a version of this (slightly modified by me) in a diabetic site.

Ingredients

  • 5 cups of diced, peeled, cored apples
  • 2 cups of unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup of flour (I use unbleached)
  • 1/4 cup of rolled oats (not the quick cooking)
  • 2 tbsp of melted light margarine
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • nonstick cooking spray

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Coat a 13×9 inch pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, oats, margarine, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and apple sauce. Blend with fork.
  3. Layer apples in the pan and sprinkle brown sugar mixture evenly over top.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle nuts on top.

Nutrition Per Serving

  • Calories 125
  • Fat 2.6 g
  • Sugar 19 g
  • Carbohydrates 18 g
  • Protein 0.75 g
  • Fibre 2 g

The picture I posted does not give it justice. It is quite good. I made the mistake (in the picture) to mix everything together. I had layered my apples, I poured the brown sugar mixture over it and then, oops, I stirred everything together. So mine did not have that nice “CRISP” to it. So if you follow the directions, you will be fine. I promise to redo the picture next time I make it.

You can add more nuts if you like. If calories don’t matter you can serve warm with ice cream. Or you can add a little coffee cream. Someone suggested Light Cool Whip. So as the saying goes, have fun and make it your own.

Ham Linguini Tetrazzini

Ham Linguini Tetrazzini

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: Easy
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This is a feel good recipe that is quick, serves quite a few or has quite a bit left over. This is actually a pretty light version of this recipe. Some of us have to watch how much fat we take in.

Ingredients

  • 1 box of 1lb or 450 gr of catelli linguini
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves chopped
  • 2 cups of ham chopped
  • 1 can of condensed cream of mushroom soup (low fat)
  • 1-1/4 cup of skim milk
  • 1/4 cup of coffee cream (10%)
  • 2 tbsp of vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup of grated low fat sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3 tbsp of parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp of flour
  • 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp of smoked paprika

Directions

  1. In a large pot, cook pasta as indicated on package.
  2. Once cooked, drain pasta and return pot to stove.
  3. On medium heat, put 1 tbsp of oil in pot. Add onion, garlic and peppers and cook until almost tender approximately 5-7 minutes.
  4. Add the remaining tbsp of oil and add the ham. Stir around for about 3-5 minutes.
  5. Add milk, cream, both cheeses, cayenne and stir well.
  6. Add flour and stir constantly, bringing up the heat. If too thick, add a little milk a tablespoon at a time.
  7. Once at desired consistency (saucy but not too thick), add pasta and stir. Make sure to coat completely.
  8. Sprinkle smoked paprika on top and serve.

Nutrition Per Serving

  • Calories 424
  • Fat 13.9 g
  • Sugar 6.3 g
  • Carbohydrates 55.2 g
  • Protein 20.6 g
  • Fibre 3.3 g

This is a versatile recipe. You don’t have ham or you need to watch your sodium, you can sub for cooked turkey or cooked chicken breast. You can even do it with left over pork chops. You want creamier, and you don’t mind the fat or calories, change to whole milk and heavy cream. I serve this with a nice green salad on the side and it’s a great meal. Remember to have fun and make it your own.

Weight Loss Reminders

Weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight is a battle for a lot of us, me included. I was told recently by a dietician that the Four Pillars are the key to being healthy. Exercise, Stress Management, Sleep, Food. I totally agree. If we can keep our portions to a healthy size, exercise regularly, sleep enough, and manage stress there is no reason we all can’t feel better and continue to feel good about ourselves.

Exercise: Movement is important. A lot of us have sedentary jobs. During this pandemic, even something as simple as walking from your car into the office and back made a difference. That alone put 2600 less steps on my pedometer. When your goal is 10000 a day, oops that adds up quickly. Always consult your doctor before embarking on any exercise program but until then, a walk is a good start. It doesn’t have to be a run, or a jog, or 10 miles. Around the block is a good place to start. Today is as good as any other day for a walk.

Stress Management: Cortisol is our stress hormone. It actually helps us in some situations. It increases sugars in the bloodstream, enhances your brain’s use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues. It helps us react to a bad situation like a child getting hurt, or avoiding a car crash. Too much of it and it turns against you. This will cause a rise in blood sugar, weight gain, suppressed immune system, digestive issues, heart disease. We can’t avoid stress but the key is managing properly. That is not always easy and there are lots of options out there. 

Sleep: A nutritionist told me years ago I needed to get my diet sleep. Sleep deprivation spikes our hormone called cortisol. See in the stress management above the side effects of cortisol. So many things can affect our sleep. Noise, ate too late, stressed, bad bed, and so on. It could be one thing or a combination of things. You need to isolate why you aren’t sleeping enough and correct those issues or at least reduce the amount of times that you don’t get enough sleep. Once in a while should not cause adverse effects. If you lack sleep on a regular basis, you will have an issue in the long term.

Food: Portion control is key. Who says you can’t have something. Unless you are allergic, there is no reason you can not have a food. How much of that food is key. A plate should be 1/2 vegetable, 1/4 protein, 1/4 starch. Smaller dinner plates help. Putting everything in the plate helps too. I also use a scale for weighing my food. Key is moderation. Example, I felt for a snack. I had fresh pineapple but I wanted something sweet. Then a thought of a chocolate fondue where you dip fruit into chocolate sounded sooo good. I opened the fridge and there was a sugar free low fat chocolate pudding. So I put that over my fresh pineapple, You know what, it was good. 140 calories. Healthier than a chocolate bar, still sweet and satisfied my craving. 

So what can we take from this? Everything is connected. If one thing is out of balance, you will struggle to lose or maintain your weight. We need exercise regularly, manage our stress, sleep well, and have good portion control of our foods. There are no limits on possibilities on how to make this happen, we have to understand it, embrace it, and make the plan our own.

Corn Black Bean Salad

Corn Black Bean Salad

  • Servings: 20
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Oil and lime based

On a July 4th celebration, a young chef asks the master chef for the recipe for the Corn Black Bean Salad he just had. The master chef gave a revised recipe as the original served 250. This version serves 20 side dishes. If you add an extra protein, it can serve 10 as a main dish.

Ingredients

  • 8-10 corn cooked and shucked
  • 3 large avocado cut in cubes
  • 3-4 limes juiced
  • 1-1/4 cup of cilantro chopped
  • 1 large red onion chopped
  • 2-1/2 cups of black beans (canned rinsed)
  • 4 bell peppers of various colours chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 jalapeno peppers chopped finely
  • 1 tsp of smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a very very large mixing bowl put all ingredients together (I used two large bowls and divided everything evenly)
  2. Refrigerate

Nutrition Per Serving

  • Calories 197
  • Fat 10.5 g
  • Sugar 5.5 g
  • Carbohydrates 25.2 g
  • Protein 5.1 g
  • Fibre 5.6 g

You need to bring something to a large picnic? This is a great option. I’ve changed it up a little. I thought I’d omit the lime juice (didn’t have any handy) and the oil, and put in 1 cup of sour cream instead and that was a success. You can always do both versions by separating the salad into two mixing bowls. Then in one bowl, put half the oil and lime juice mixture, and in the other 1/2 the sour cream. Had leftovers so prepared a chicken breast on the grill and added 3 ounces to 2 cups of the mixture and that made a great meal. You could do this with fish, steak, tofu, anything at all. I can even see a hard boiled egg. Possibilities are endless as long as you can see it, do it. Remember to have fun and make it your own.

Sour cream based

Skinny Banana Bread Muffins

Skinny Banana Bread Muffins

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Skinny muffins that are flavourful and moist. Wait, that doesn’t sound right. Well, it is and they are healthier than most. These banana muffins have no oil, low sugar and are only 130 calories. I apologize to the store bought or coffee house muffins.

Ingredients

  • 4 bananas mashed (about 1-1/3 cup)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-1/2 cup all purpose flour (whole wheat makes them a little more dense)
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line muffin tin with paper liners or silicon liners.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mash bananas, add egg, vanilla, sugars, and cinnamon and stir well to combine.
  3. In a larger bowl stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add banana mixture and stir to combine.
  4. Gently stir in melted butter. Don’t over-mix the batter as the muffins will be tougher.
  5. Spoon into muffin tin and bake for 18-25 minutes.

Nutrition Per Serving

  • Calories 130
  • Fat 2 g
  • Sugar 9 g
  • Carbohydrates 23 g
  • Protein 2 g
  • Fibre 2 g

Note: You can freeze these for up to 2 months in a freezer safe ziplock bag. Make sure that they are completely cooled and get as much of the air out of the bag first.

If calories or sugar are not of concern, you can add walnuts, raisins, cranberries, or even peanut butter (if you add peanut butter, you will need to add an equal amount of flour). This makes the possibilities endless. Remember to have fun and make it your own.

Taco Salad

Taco Salad

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy
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THIS IS NOT GOOD IF YOU ARE COUNTING CALORIES. This is a good salad, a little high in calories but hey once in a while, you have to say, ok, I will indulge. I started this recipe as this was something I had in a restaurant but their version was 1000 so I did all I could to reduce it. I have a few more tricks that I will mention in closing. So let’s get to it.

Ingredients

  • 1 package of Taco Seasoning Mix (Old El Paso)
  • 1 cup of cooked black beans (if you use canned, make sure to rinse)
  • 1 lb of extra lean ground beef
  • 45 grams or 1.5 ounces of Cheddar Cheese (reduced fat)
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 avocado
  • 3 corn on the cob
  • 1 cup of Salsa (Herdez Salsa)
  • 1 cup of Cilantro chopped
  • 2 cup of Spinach
  • 2 cup of Cooked white rice
  • 2 jalapeño chopped (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Put tortilla shells in mold and cook for 10-12 minutes
  3. In a boiling pot of water cook corn for 10-12 minutes.
  4. Once cooked, rinse with cold water to stop cooking and shuck.
  5. In a pan, brown the ground beef and make sure to loosen.
  6. Add Taco mix and cook using directions on package.
  7. Now is assembly, shell, put in rice at bottom, put black beans, taco mixture. Then top with corn, onion, jalapeño, avocado, cheese, cilantro, spinach and salsa.

Nutrition Per Serving

  • Calories 622 each
  • Fat 18.9 g
  • Sugar 2.6 g
  • Carbohydrates 82.8 g
  • Protein 31.7 g
  • Fibre 8.3 g

I started making this at home ironically because I had left over rice and thought of the salad we sometimes have at the mexican restaurant. Want to save time, everything can be prepared ahead of time. Just don’t cut your avocado until the last moment or you can use guacamole. If you want to save some calories, omit the rice at the bottom. I usually use my own salsa which is made to my taste and heat level. I’ve seen this recipe done with refried beans instead of black beans, and brown rice instead of white rice. The possibilities are endless, you can use fish, chicken, pork, completely vegetarian, beyond meat, anything. Let your imagine go, have fun and make it your own.

Orange Chiffon Cake

Orange Chiffon Cake

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: Easy
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I was asked for a recipe that is light not only in calories but also in texture. Something that felt like summer. This is what I came up with. Hope you like it.

This cake is refreshing. It is low caloric and sweet. First time I made a chiffon cake. I had fun and made it my own. Your turn to do the same.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of cake flour (if you don’t have any, all purpose flour will do, minus 2 tbsp and add 2 tbsp of cornstarch)
  • 8 tbsp of a mixture of sucralose and sugar. (if you want to use sugar only that’s ok just remember to add that to the calories and sugar content per serving)
  • 2 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp of grated orange zest (approx 2 oranges)
  • 3/4 cup of orange juice freshly pressed
  • 1/4 cup of canola oil
  • 1 tsp of brandy or orange liquor (optional)
  • 6 egg whites at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp of cream of tartar
  • 2 oz of semi-sweet chocolate
  • Cooking spray or butter and margarine and 1-2 tbsp of flour to coat pan

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, mix flour, 6 tbsp of the sucralose-sugar mixture, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, add eggs, oil, zest, orange juice, brandy to the flour mixture and mix until smooth.
  4. In a large bowl, using clean blades on medium, beat egg whites and cream of tartare until soft peaks. Bring speed up to high and add remaining sucralose-sugar until it forms stiff peaks.
  5. Using a spatula, slowly fold in the egg mixture to the flour mixture until blended.
  6. Pour into a very lightly greased and floured bundt pan. Cook for 50-55 min or until cake tester comes out clean. (Make sure not to open oven door during first 45 minutes)
  7. Reverse onto a parchemin covered plate after cooled completely.
  8. Cut chocolate into small pieces and place in a bowl that goes in the microwave. Stir every 30 seconds until completely melted.
  9. Pour over cooled cake and cut and serve.

Nutrition Per Serving

  • Calories 165
  • Fat 7 g
  • Sugar 15 g
  • Carbohydrates 22 g
  • Protein 4.0 g
  • Fibre 1.0 g

Note: if you are using a nonstick pan, some people recommend not greasing and flouring others say it’s imperative. First time I did it, I didn’t flour the pan just greased it and it stuck. Also make sure to let it cool completely before unmolding or else it will break.

Instead of melted chocolate, you can always add your favourite coulis. Remember have fun and make it your own.

Sole Asparagus with Pesto Sauce

Sole Asparagus with Pesto Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Sole is a fish that most people like. It isn’t strong in taste. It is quick to prepare. Low calorie to boot. Here is a quick recipe that can dress up a plate like no other.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of sole thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • 24 spears of aspargus
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 4 tbsp of lemon juice
  • 1 cup of white sauce (see link)
  • 1 tbsp of pesto paste or you can make a quick pesto with 1/2 cup of chopped basil, 4 minced garlic cloves and 1 tbsp of oil
  • 1 lemon cut into 8 slices

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Season sole to taste.
  3. Place lemon slices at bottom of baking sheet
  4. Divide sole into four
  5. Wrap 2 spears of asparagus into one serving of sole.
  6. Sprinkle with olive oil.
  7. Place remaining spears onto the pan.
  8. Put 1 tbsp of lemon juice over fish, per serving.
  9. Place in preheated oven for 15-17 minutes.
  10. In the meantime, prepare white sauce.
  11. Once the sauce has reached ideal thickness, add pesto paste. (if adding fresh ingredients like chopped basil and garlic and oil, add at start of preparing sauce)
  12. Once fish is cooked, plate and put 1/4 of the sauce over each serving. Adding extra asparagus to the sides.

Nutrition Per Serving

  • Calories 293
  • Fat 11.7 g
  • Sugar 7.8 g
  • Carbohydrates 13.6 g
  • Protein 29.5 g
  • Fibre 1.8 g

This is easy, quick and makes a nice plate. As you see I didn’t have enough asparagus spears so I prepared edamame beans. With the asparagus you have your veggie content and the fish your protein content, serve it with rice and or bread and you have your starch and a balanced meal. You can do this with any fish that you could wrap around the asparagus. A thinner fish like mahi mahi, or tilapia work great. If you want it spicy just add crushed chili peppers when preparing your white sauce. You can cut the recipe in half so you don’t have a bunch of extra sauce left over. Remember the most important thing, have fun and make it your own.

Honey Garlic Pork Chops

Honey Garlic Pork Chops

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Pork, the other white meat. It is easy to get in a rut with certain meats. Pork chops are one of them. I don’t know why but I usually end up doing the same way over and over again. This time I thought I needed to do something different. I was looking around the kitchen and started seeing this come together. It was quick, easy and ended up working out quite well.

Ingredients

  • 4 pork chops approx. 4 ounces (thickness will make your cook time vary)
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 6 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/4 c of honey
  • 1/4 c of water or chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp of rice wine vinegar (if you don’t have any you can use white vinegar)

Directions

  1. Season pork chops with salt and pepper and garlic powder.
  2. Heat oil in an oven proof pan or skillet (I use a cast iron pan) on medium high heat. Sear chops on both sides until golden and cooked through (about 4-5 minutes per side) Transfer to plate and set aside.
  3. Reduce heat to medium. Melt butter and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Saute garlic until fragrant (about 30 seconds).
  4. Preheat oven to broil with rack on top shelf.
  5. Add honey and water and vinegar. Increase heat to medium high and continue to cook until the sauce reduces down and thickens slightly (about 5 minutes) while stirring occasionally.
  6. Add chops back into the pan and baste generously with the sauce.
  7. Place pan in oven for 2-3 minutes or until edges are slightly charred and serve.

Nutrition Per Serving

  • Calories 332
  • Fat 12 g
  • Sugar 14 g
  • Carbohydrates 15 g
  • Protein 29 g
  • Fibre 0 g

The honey and garlic give this a nice change of pace. If you want a little kick to it, you can add cayenne pepper to taste. Add a little something green like parsley or cilantro or even curled cucumber. Just makes it pretty. Serve it with rice, vegetables, pasta, delicious  homemade multigrain bread (see recipe) and/or a salad. Be creative. Have fun and remember to make it your own.