Classic Sloppy Joes

These Sloppy Joes have a classic taste, they are super easy to make, and very kid friendly.  As true to America’s Test Kitchen recipes, this one does not fall short on flavor or texture.  I think it’s a brilliant idea to use mushrooms to help add bulk to the filling, but also to hide veggies from the kids (or adults who also cringe at veggies).  The mushrooms add a great meaty flavor (without adding very many calories).  Even better, the finely chopped mushrooms are hidden in the thick sauce and look just like bits of ground turkey.  Genius!  I used canned mushrooms because that’s what I had on hand.  However, you can use fresh mushrooms without any problem, but if you do, add them to the skillet with the onion so they can cook down.

The filling can be made ahead of time and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.  It’s easy to reheat in a saucepan over medium-low heat or in the microwave on a medium power.  (Thus, it’s not a bad idea to double this recipe so you have a meal for later in the week that doesn’t take you any time.  The filling will freeze well too.)

I served these on my Fit Burger Buns, but the nutritional information reflects serving them on sandwich thins.  The servings are VERY generous!  If you have little people to serve, I’m sure this recipe can stretch to 6 or more servings (depending on how much/little your kiddies will eat).

Classic Sloppy Joes
Adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
12 ounces ground turkey (93% lean)
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 (8-ounce) can mushrooms, chopped fine
salt and pepper
4 whole-wheat sandwich thins (100 calories each)

Heat oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering.  Add the onion and cook until softened and lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and chili powder and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in the turkey and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes.  Stir in the tomato sauce, water, ketchup, Worcestershire, vinegar, sugar, and mushrooms.

Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, divide the mixture among the hamburger buns, and serve.

Serves 4.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving = 1 Sloppy Joe)
Calories:  311
Protein:  24.5g
Carbs:  35.6g
Fat:  9.8g (2.3g)
Fiber:  7.6g
Sugars:  10.7g

Greek-Style Chickpea Salad

This is such a fabulous option for a healthy carbohydrate side dish.  Chickpeas (also known as Garbanzo Beans) soak up the flavors well and they have a great buttery flavor.  This all helps to make the salad taste flavorful and rich.  This salad is punched with boldly flavored ingredients, so it makes it possible to get away with using a small amount of each while still packing in great taste and low fat.  The fresh mint, feta, and olives add plenty of zest to this salad.

I’m sure this salad would be delicious served over a bed of greens with whole-wheat pita chips.  Add in a little grilled chicken and you’ll have yourself a full meal!  Whether you eat this as a side dish or as a main course, I hope it offers some variety that you’ll love.

Greek-Style Chickpea Salad
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook

2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed
1/2 small red onion, minced
1/2 English cucumber, halved length-wise and chopped small
1/4 cup minced fresh mint
1/4 cup crumbled reduced fat feta cheese
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced pitted kalamata olives
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper

Toss the chickpeas, onion, cucumber, mint, feta, and parsley together in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk the lemon juice, olives, mustard, oil, and garlic together, then pour over the chickpea mixture and toss to coat.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Serves 9.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving = 1/2 Cup)
Calories:  90
Protein:  4g
Carbs:  11g
Fat:  4g (0.5g = Sat.)
Fiber:  3g

Chili Salmon with Mango, Cucumber & Avocado Salsa

Salsa Includes Blueberries, Lime, and Jalapeño

Oh my!  This is SO my kind of dinner!  This seriously tastes like healthy summer on a plate.  The salmon is simply seasoned with chili powder and the salsa is sweet and fresh.  Of course the chili powder is a fabulous compliment to salsa, so it’s no wonder this all goes together beautifully.

The salsa is seriously SO good!  It’s so good that it’s kind of a little bit hard not to eat more than the appropriate portion size.  (You’ve been warned!)  I was pretty intrigued with the addition of blueberries in this salsa.  I’ve made and seen several variations of mango salsa, but none that included blueberries.  Let me tell you, it’s awesome!  The burst of the blueberry in the mouth along with the sweetness and tartness of the berry is a perfect compliment to the soft and sweet mango.  The cucumber adds a nice balance to the sweetness as well as good bulk to the salsa (without adding many calories).  You can’t have a salsa without some kind of pepper, so there is a jalapeño pepper in here and you can add as much as you want.  The majority of the heat comes from the ribs and seeds of the pepper so for a mild salsa, remove all the ribs and seeds, for a hot salsa, keep them in.  The avocado adds a richness and creaminess to the salsa that helps to made this stuff so addictive.  Last, but certainly not least, is the addition of  lime zest and lime juice.  This gives the perfect amount of acidity and zing to the salsa and makes it taste amazingly fresh.

This meal can be eaten for lunch or dinner.  We had it for dinner with a side salad.  I think I might start making the salsa for snacks and appetizers too.  It’s that good!

Chili Salmon with Mango, Cucumber, & Avocado Salsa
Adapted from The Chew

For the Salmon:
4 Skin-On Salmon Filets (4 oz. each)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
1 teaspoon Chili Powder

For the Salsa:
1 mango (cubed)
1/4 – 1/2 English cucumber (diced)
1 avocado (cubed)
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 – 1 jalapeno (seeded and minced)
juice and zest of 1 lime
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

For the Salsa: Toss all salsa ingredients in a medium bowl until well mixed (I use a rubber spatula so that the avocado doesn’t get mashed).  Set aside.

For the Salmon: Preheat a grill (outdoor or indoor . . . I used a charcoal grill for mine) to medium-high, and season lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon chili powder over each of the salmon filets. Season with salt and pepper, and place, skin-side down. After 2 to 3 minutes, flip, and continue to cook on other side for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 130F.

Serves 4.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving = 1 Filet & Approx. 1/2 Cup Salsa)
Calories:  284.5
Protein:  30.4g
Carbs:  15.1g
Fat:  11.6g (1.7g = Sat.)
Fiber:  2.7g
Sugars:  6.1g

Greek-Style Shrimp with Tomatoes & Feta

Greek Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta Cheese

Well, it’s been a month since my little Evie joined our family and I’ve had some great time off with her.  We’re starting to get more into a routine around our house which means I’ve been able to try my hand at some new recipes worth sharing with you all.  This is one of those recipes.  It’s yummy.  I love the quick and easy skillet method that is used to cook it and the fresh herbs really make this dish sing.  You might think that shrimp mixed with cheese is a BAD idea . . . and, it is in most cases but this recipe is definitely an exception.  Perhaps it’s because the feta cheese isn’t over-powering and instead offers a nice creamy touch to the finished dish.

This dish is far from dull!  The simple marinade for the shrimp helps to boost flavors.  The tomatoes garlic, olive oil, and bell pepper really help enhance the dish.  And, the Feta and dill added at the very end of the cooking time definitely made this dish taste Greek!   This is a simple, flavorful, fresh, and unique dish that I’m guessing you’ll love like we did at our house.  Enjoy!

Greek-Style Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Light & Healthy 2012

1 lb. extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed if desired
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
salt and pepper
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into ½-inch pieces
1/2 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into ½-inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained with 1/3 cup juice reserved
1/4 cup white cooking wine
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
2 ounces reduced-fat feta cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill

Toss shrimp, 1 teaspoon garlic, 1 teaspoon oil, lemon zest, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in bowl until well combined; set aside.

Combine 1 teaspoon oil, onion, red and green bell pepper, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in 12-inch skillet. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8 to 10 minutes.  Add remaining garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add tomatoes and reserved juice and wine.  Increase heat to medium, bring to simmer, and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until sauce is slightly thickened (sauce should not be completely dry), 5 to 8 minutes.  Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in shrimp.  Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are opaque throughout, 6 to 9 minutes.  Off heat, sprinkle evenly with feta and dill.  Serve immediately.

Served 4.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving = 1/4 the Recipe)
Calories:  250.6
Protein:  28.7g
Carbs:  15.9g
Fat:  6.4g
Fiber:  3.4g
Sugars:  7.7g

Strawberry Salad wtih Creamy Orange & Poppy Seed Vinaigrette

Summer Salad with Strawberries and Almonds

It’s spring time and the strawberries are fresh in season!  When there are good strawberries around, I love to make YUMMY strawberry salads.  They taste so fresh and the strawberries bring in a sweet flavor without very many calories.

This strawberry salad is perfect for spring and summer.  I often take it to parties when asked to bring a side dish and people constantly ask me for the recipe.  The funny thing is that the salad is SUPER easy.  It’s the dressing that really makes this salad magical (well, and the strawberries too).  I’m actually REALLY happy that I’m finally getting this up on my blog so that when people ask me for the recipe I can tell them that they can find it here (rather than emailing them a copy or something).

The Creamy Orange & Poppy Seed Vinaigrette is made with freshly squeezed orange juice and I add a little Greek yogurt to it which gives it a nice zing . . . as well as a nice color.  When this orange flavored dressing is drizzled over the strawberries you’ll see how the magic happens.  The flavors were meant to be paired together!

This salad is great if you want to use it as a side dish.  You can also add grilled chicken to it if you want to make it into a meal for lunch or dinner.  I usually toast my slivered almonds on the stovetop in a skillet before putting them on my salad (for extra flavor), but this step isn’t necessary.

All I know, is this spring and summer salad is super delicious!  Give it a whirl while the strawberries are top notch.

Strawberry Salad with Creamy Orange & Poppy Seed Vinaigrette
Adapted from Annie’s Eats

For the Vinaigrette:
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons minced shallot (or red onion)
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons nonfat Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
6 tablespoons canola or olive oil
1 teaspoon poppy seeds

For the Salad:
romaine lettuce, washed and dried
strawberries, hulled and sliced
slivered almonds, toasted
red onion, sliced thin
red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, sliced

In the bowl of a food processor (or blender), combine the vinegar, sugar, shallot, dry mustard, salt, Greek yogurt and orange juice.  Process to blend well.  With the feed tube open and the processor on, add the oil in a steady stream and continue processing until incorporated.  Add the poppy seeds and pulse briefly just until blended (sometimes I just stir these in at the end).  Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the salad, chop the lettuce into bite-size pieces.  Plate individual servings of the lettuce on salad plates.  Top each serving with strawberries (1/3 cup slices), slivered almonds (1 tablespoon), red onion (as much as you want), and bell pepper (as much as you want).  Drizzle lightly with 1 tablespoon of the poppy seed dressing and serve immediately.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving – Salad & Dressing)
Calories:  121
Protein:  3.5g
Carbs:  14.7g
Fat:  6.1g (0.6g = Sat.)
Fiber:  4.1g
Sugars: 9.6g

Nutritional Information (Per Serving – Salad Only)
Calories:  85
Protein:  3g
Carbs:  10g
Fat:  4.3g (0.3g = Sat.)
Fiber:  4.1g
Sugars: 5.3g

Nutritional Information (Per Serving – 1 T. Dressing Only)
Calories:  36
Protein:  0.5g
Carbs:  4.7g
Fat:  1.8g (0.3g = Sat.)
Fiber:  0g
Sugars:  4.3g

Shrimp Fried Rice

I was having an intense craving for Chinese food the other day.  Soooooo, instead of giving in and ordering a multi-thousand-calorie meal from a restaurant, I decided I could just make something at home.  I’ve had this recipe bookmarked for a while now and it TOTALLY hit the spot.  In fact, it was a good thing that I only made enough for me and Beau because we both loved it so much that I’m not so sure we could have resisted eating another serving.

The crazy thing is that this recipe goes wicked fast.  Like . . . once you have your veggies cut up and your shrimp ready to go, you’ll go from start to finish in about 5-ish minutes.  No lie!  So, have everything prepped and ready to go before you heat up your skillet.

Here’s the catch (if you want to call it that).  You MUST use cold rice here.  Since I make brown rice in big batches, it isn’t uncommon for me to have leftover rice in the fridge.  However, if you don’t have leftover rice, just be sure to make some in the the morning so that it has time to cool and chill in the fridge before dinner.  It’s SUPER common and easy for me to bake my brown rice in the morning while I’m getting ready for the day, so I would tell you to do the same.

One of the days I made this I was running short on shrimp.  So, I used the balance of the needed protein with ham.  You’ll see that my pictures reflect this.  I will vouch that it was good both ways . . . all shrimp or half shrimp/half ham.  Honestly, I think just about any protein source would be pretty good here (I just LOVE shrimp).

The recipe is simple, it goes fast, and I was AMAZED at how the small amount of soy sauce really pounded in some Chinese flavor.  I doubted that it would be enough, but it seriously was.  We’ve eaten this twice in the last two weeks, and that’s pretty good for us (considering I’m always looking for new stuff to try).  I just couldn’t resist making it and eating it AGAIN.  I’m pretty sure that this recipe just became a “regular” around my house.

Ham Fried Rice

Shrimp Fried Rice
Adapted from Annie’s Eats

12 oz. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 teaspoons canola oil, divided
2 whole eggs plus 2 additional egg whites, beaten
2 stalks green onions, minced
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 cups leftover brown rice
3/4 cup cup frozen peas and carrots, defrosted
1 tablespoon soy sauce (Light/Low-Sodium)
Few drops sesame oil, optional

In  a medium mixing bowl, combine the shrimp, salt, pepper and cornstarch, and toss well to coat the shrimp.  Let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.  Heat a large skillet or wok over high heat.  When a drop of water immediately sizzles and evaporates, the pan is hot enough to add 1 1/2 teaspoons of the oil.  Swirl to coat the pan well.

Add the shrimp to the hot pan and quickly spread them out so that they are in a single layer, and all touching the pan surface.  (You may need to do this in two batches to ensure even cooking.)  Let them cook untouched for 30 seconds, then flip over (tongs work well for this) and let cook for 30 more seconds, so that the shrimp are about 80% cooked through.  Remove to a plate and set aside.

Lower the heat on the pan to medium.  Add the eggs to the pan and stir quickly, to break up and scramble the eggs.  When the eggs are almost cooked through but still slightly runny in the middle, remove from the pan to the same plate as the shrimp.

Use paper towels to wipe the pan clean and return the pan to high heat.  Add the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of oil, swirling to coat.  Once the oil is very hot, add the green onions and the red pepper to the pan and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds.  Add the rice to the pan and mix well to combine with the green onions.  Spread the rice out evenly over the pan and let cook without stirring, until you hear the rice grains sizzle, about 1 to 2 minutes.  Toss the rice a bit with your spatula, and again spread it out over the cooking surface.

Drizzle the soy sauce all over the rice, and toss again.  Add the peas and carrots, the cooked shrimp and eggs, and the sesame oil to the pan.  Toss to combine all the ingredients well with the rice.  Let everything heat back up again until the rice grains are sizzling again.  Add additional soy sauce to taste, if needed.  Serve.

Serves 4.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving = 1/4 the Recipe)
Calories:  294.6
Protein:  26.8g
Carbs:  28g
Fat:  8.4g (1.5g = Sat.)
Fiber:  2.9g
Sugars:  0g

Thai Chicken & Coconut Soup

Basil, Coconut Milk

When I eat out at a Thai restaurant, I usually like to try new things.  My hubby convinced me to try the soup recently and I wasn’t so sure I was going to be happy with that choice.  Well, I was wrong!  It was SOOOOO yummy!  I added some rice to my soup and it became a very filling meal in-and-of-itself!  It was awesome!

I recently ran across a Thai soup recipe that had raving reviews and most of the reviews claimed that it was similar to what they would find in a Thai restaurant.  That was all the convincing I needed to give the recipe a try.  Here is my little version of it and it’s awesome, people!  Beau and I ate this over baked brown rice and fell in love.  That coconut milk mixed with the chili, basil, and ginger flavors left us wanting more!  No worries – I made the whole recipe so we were able to eat leftovers for a couple of days.  Score!

I hope you like this as much (or more) than we did!

Basil, Coconut Milk

Thai Chicken & Coconut Soup
Adapted from sparkspeople.com

24 oz. chicken breast, boneless, skinless, fat removed
1 3/4 cup light coconut milk
2 1/2 cups chicken broth/stock, low sodium
8 slices ginger, fresh, peeled
1 3/4 cup white mushrooms, sliced
1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce
4 green onions, sliced (green part reserved for garnish)
1 lemon
2 tablespoons basil, shredded

Place the chicken breasts in a small saucepan.  Cover completely with cold water and place over moderate heat.  Bring water to 180 degrees (just before the water starts to bubble).  Poach chicken for 15 minutes or until cooked through.

While chicken is poaching, place coconut milk, stock, ginger, mushrooms, red pepper, and white part of green onion into a saucepan over moderate heat.  Bring to a simmer.  Add chili sauce and simmer for 10 minutes.  Once chicken is cooked and cooled slightly, cut into 1 inch cubes.  Add to soup.

Finish soup with basil, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish with chopped green onion.

Serves 6.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving = 1 Heaping Cup)
Calories:  175
Protein:  24.6g
Carbs:  6.7g
Fat:  5.2g (4.1g = Sat.)
Fiber:  1.3g
Sugars:  3.6g