The Good Stuff

Since I was out of town last week on spring break, I didn’t try any new recipes. We just made some spaghetti, chicken fajitas, and fish throughout the week. I figured since I don’t have any new ones to share, I’d throw out some of my old favorites. I’m not prepared to say these are the most healthy recipes you’ll ever make, but I don’t think they are the worst. I googled a calorie calculator for recipes so I could get a feel for where these stood on the scale of health. I found caloriecount.about.com, which seems to be a pretty cool website.  I haven’t had time to really see what the site has to offer, but from what I can tell, you can use it to keep track of what you eat and set goals for yourself. You can also sign up for memberships that give you access to a registered dietician. If you’re having trouble keeping track on your own, check it out and let me know what you think. I’m planning to use it for calculating the nutritional values in foods and recipes that I don’t get from Cooking Light. I just included the fat and calorie content here, but you can calculate the whole nutritional label on the site. Remember to watch out for sodium in dressings, seasonings, and cheeses. Without further adieu, here are some of my favorite go-to recipes from the cookbook at home. I’ll list the recipes at the bottom.

Greek Salad
If you have learned anything about me from reading this blog, it’s probably that I like salads. I have salad pretty much every day for lunch and sometimes I have one for or with dinner. I think this is a fortunate obsession though, since salad is so good for you (when you don’t douse it with fatty dressing). My family and I discovered this greek salad dressing in the Joy of Cooking Cookbook a few years ago, and we make it anytime we eat together. It makes a great side salad and a great meal on its own, my mouth is watering just thinking about it. I’m not sure what a traditional greek salad from Greece consists of, but here in America, I think they have become known to contain feta cheese, kalamata olives, tomatoes and a greek vinaigrette dressing. This dressing on its own has 147 calories and about 16 g fat for a two tablespoon serving. Adding about 2 tablespoons feta, 2 tablespoons kalamata olives, a few croutons, and the lettuce (which I don’t really count) per side salad serving, bumps it up to 234 calories and about 22 g fat. Two tablespoons of feta is probably a little much for a side salad portion, but I really like feta. Just remember, when cheese is involved, less is probably better for you. Whenever I make this salad to have as a meal, I basically cut the recipe for the dressing in half. If you make it a few times you can play around with the amounts and make it how you like it.

Peanut Thai Noodles
This recipe is AWESOME. I got it from one of my advisors in college, Dr. Darby Ray. She was our advisor for canterbury club and would make the best vegetarian meals for us. This one is favored by many. I figured out that it has 448 calories 17 g fat for 6, 190 g servings. The peanut butter and peanuts give it a good amount of protein and the fresh cilantro and ginger give it the absolute best flavor. I’ve never been able to find the hot chili oil in the grocery store, so I leave it out and think it tastes about the same. This is a great recipe to have with guests, it’s super easy and you don’t really need anything to go with it, except maybe a salad. I desperately crave this recipe sometimes, so I probably make it at least once a month if not more. It makes for great comfort food, especially if I’ve had a long week of studying and tests to deal with. I wish I had a picture of it, I’ll have to post one the next time I make it. Thanks Darby!

Chicken Parmesan
This is not your traditional chicken parmesan made with breaded chicken and marinara over a pile of pasta. It’s a simple baked chicken topped with a parmesan cheese mixture, my dinner for this evening actually! The “less healthy” part of this recipe is that it contains mayonnaise. However, if you eat the appropriate 4 ounce portion of chicken it comes out to less than 300 calories. It has 294 calories and 14.5 grams of fat to be exact. My suggestions for making it an okay option are to use reduced fat mayo and reduced fat parmesan cheese. It  doesn’t take that much of the cheese mix to make this tasty, so don’t pile it on too heavy. This is a great meal to make because it goes well with any type of vegetable (lima beans tonight) and a salad. I wouldn’t pair it with bread or carbs though because you’re already spending those splurge points on the cheese and mayonnaise. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that a normal serving size of chicken (or any meat for that matter) is only about 4 ounces. That’s equal to the size of the palm of your hand. Most restaurants serve way more than that, and chicken breasts from the grocery store are huge. This makes us think one person needs a whole chicken breast, which is not the case. Tonight, I’m going to bake a whole breast but only use half for my dinner tonight. I’ll keep the rest in the fridge and put it on a salad later this week. Since I’m only using half a breast, I mixed about 2 tablespoons of parmesan with about 1 tablespoon of mayo.

Fresh Marinara
I think my mom and I found this recipe on the back of a pasta package. It’s a really good summer recipe that you can make over the weekend and munch on during the week. It would also be really great to take to a potluck dinner or picnic. Pasta is not the best thing to eat all the time, but in moderation, you should be okay. I really enjoy this pasta salad because it has so many fresh ingredients in it. Basil, which is one of my favorites, is easy to find and grow in the summer, if I’m not mistaken. I can’t wait for the weather to get a little bit warmer so I can start growing my own herbs. Growing your own herbs and vegetables if you have time, makes your grocery bill a little cheaper, but also makes it easy to throw things together at home. I can’t wait to try it! The calorie calculator told me this recipe has 224 calories 9.9 g fat for one serving (serves 6-8, one serving is 106 g). I would recommend this recipe for a lunch on it’s own, or a cold side salad to go with dinner at a summer cook out. Mmmmm, I’m going to have to make this one soon, hopefully I can post a picture of it also.

Here are the recipes for all of these yummy, healthy but not too healthy, recipes. Enjoy 🙂

Peanut Thai Noodles

Ingredients:
6 Cloves Garlic               1 bunch cilantro
2 tbsp. fresh ginger       2 tbsp.  peanut oil
1 tbsp. sesame oil          1 tbsp. hot chili oil
½ cup peanut butter     ½ cup soy sauce
3 tbsp. sugar                   3 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 lb. linguine                  6 green onions chopped
Roasted peanuts

Directions:
In food processor, blend garlic, cilantro, and ginger. Then add oils, peanut butter, soy sauce , vinegar and sugar and blend. Pour over linguine and top with green onions and peanuts.  Can make sauce a day in advance. Just make noodles and microwave the sauce enough to take the chill off, and mix. When reheating, drizzle water over the noodles to add moisture and microwave.

Fresh Marinara

Ingredients:
12 oz Shell Pasta                                                ¼ cup olive oil
¾ cup mozzarella, diced (or shredded)     2 tbsp. lemon juice
¼ onion, diced                                                 1 clove garlic, minced
8 fresh basil leaves, torn/chopped             ½ tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. salt                                                         ¼ tsp pepper
2 cups ripe tomatoes, diced

Directions:
Combine olive oil, mozzarella cheese, lemon juice and toss. Add onions, garlic, basil, oregano, salt and pepper and toss again. Add tomatoes and let stand for 15 minutes. While mixture marinates, cook pasta. Add pasta to mixture. Chill and serve. Serves 6-8.

Greek Salad Dressing

Ingredients:
6 tbsp. olive oil                                      3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. minced garlic                              1 tsp. dried oregano
10 turns salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
Wisk together in bowl and pour over salad and toss with black olives, tomatoes, croutons and feta cheese.

Chicken Parmesan

Ingredients:
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts              About 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Mayonaise                                                           Lawry’s Season Salt

Directions:
Bake chicken at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until juices run clear. While chicken bakes, mix parmesan and just enough mayonnaise to get the cheese to hold together. Add a little season salt to flavor the cheese mix. Hot sauce may also be used, if you like. Once chicken is close to done, remove from oven and top with cheese mixture, then bake until it is slightly browned, about 5-8 minutes. One serving is about 4 ounces of chicken with one large tablespoon of cheese mix, which is about 2 tablespoons per chicken breast.

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