Thursday, May 17, 2012

Quick & Easy: Chicken Berry Salad

Another warm day of bread baking means something cool and refreshing for dinner.  Here's another great salad to add to the repertoire!

Serves - 6
Preparation Time: 20 minutes

8 cups torn salad greens (used 10oz pkg fresh spring mix)
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked, cut into strips (used shredded chicken)
2 cups fresh berries (raspberries, blueberries, sliced strawberries)
1 pkg (8oz) frozen sugar snap peas, thawed (omitted)
1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans
1 cup prepared GOOD SEASONS Italian Dressing Mix (prepared with less oil version as directed on package)

1.  Toss greens with all remaining ingredients except dressing in large bowl.

2.  Add dressing just before serving; mix lightly.

Exchange/Carbs: 1/2 fruit / 1 vegetable / 2 lean meat / 2-1/2 fat / 1 carb choice
Calories - 250                   Sodium - 480mg
Total Fat - 15g                  Total Carbs - 12g  w/net Carbs - 8g
   Saturated Fat - 2g               Dietary Fiber - 4g
Cholesterol - 45mg                Sugar - 5g
 Protein - 19g



  • Raspberries too expensive, so just went with blueberries & strawberries.
  • Even though I had a package of frozen sugar snap peas, fresh sounded better.  Unfortunately, they didn't look so good at the store, so skipped them this time.
  • Decided to go with Ken's Light Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette dressing instead.  Even though I read reviews that said the Italian dressing and the other flavors all worked well together, I'm happy to just stay with the raspberry walnut vinaigrette.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Quick & Easy: Summer Garden Pasta

Just the right light dish for a warm day!  Now don't despair when it says Inactive Prep Time is 4 hrs.  Since I was trying to decide what to fix this evening, I cut the inactive prep time to about 20 minutes (yes, it was only as long as it took for the water to boil and cook the pasta).  I'm sure the flavors would meld together nicely after 4 hours, but it was still a hit this evening!

Serves - 6
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Inactive Preparation Time: 4 hr
Cook Time: 5 minutes

4 pints cherry tomatoes, halved (used grape tomatoes)
good olive oil
2 Tblspn minced garlic (6 cloves)
18 large basil leaves, julienned, plus extra for serving
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 pound dried angel hair pasta
1-1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving (used fresh grated Romano)

1.  Combine the cherry tomatoes, 1/2 cup olive oil, garlic, basil leaves, red pepper flakes, 1 tsp salt, and the pepper in a large bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature for about 4 hours.

2.  Just before you're ready to serve, bring a large pot of water with a splash of olive oil and 2 Tblspn salt to a boil and add the pasta.  Cook al dente according to the directions on the package (be careful - it only takes 2 to 3 minutes!).  Drain the pasta well and add to the bowl with the cherry tomatoes.  Add the cheese and some extra fresh basil leaves and toss well.  Serve in big bowls with extra cheese on each serving.

Note: though total carbs for Dreamfields Pasta is 41g, after you subtract the Dietary Fiber & protected (non-digestible carbs), the digestible carbs is only 5g.

Source: 2006, Barefoot Contessa at Home


  • Though cherry tomatoes are sweeter, I like the firmness of grape tomatoes when cooking
  • The romano cheese definitely added a nice change in flavor
  • Because it had been so warm in the house due to bread baking earlier in the day, I really wanted a nice cool dish.  So by only letting the tomato mixture sit out for a shorter period of time, the mixture was still cool.  I also rinsed the pasta with cool water.  The taste - cool, light and refreshing.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Quick & Easy: Breaded Pork Medallions with Cranberry Onion Chutney

You have to try it to really appreciate the flavors!

Serves - 8 / Serving Size - 2 medallions
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Cranberry Onion Chutney
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/4 cup Splenda
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup low-sugar apricot preserves

Breaded Pork Medallions
1 lb pork tenderloin, cut into 16 medallions
3 egg whites
1 tsp hot sauce
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp olive oil
Cooking spray

1.  Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add olive oil and red onion, and sauté 6-7 minutes or until ingredients begin to caramelize.  Add cranberries, Splenda, vinegar, and preserves.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes or until chutney has a thick jam-like consistency.

2.  Pound pork medallions until about 1/4 inch thick.

3.  In a small bowl, whisk together egg whites and hot sauce.  In a separate bowl, stir together the cornmeal, garlic salt, and black pepper.

4.  Dip each medallion in egg mixture, then in cornmeal to coat.

5.  Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add olive oil and a generous amount of cooking spray to the pan.  Once the oil is hot, sauté the medallions in batches, cooking for about 2 minutes on each side.

6.  Serve chutney over the medallions.

Exchanges/Carbs: 2 lean meat / 1-1/2 carbs
Calories - 180                           Sodium - 125mg
   Calories from Fat - 35            Total Carbs - 22 g    w/ net Carbs - 20g
Total Fat - 4g                                 Dietary Fiber - 2g
   Saturated Fat - 0.8g                    Sugar - 9g
   Trans Fat - 0g                         Protein - 13g
Cholesterol - 30mg

Source: The Healthy Carb Diabetes Cookbook by Chef Jennifer Bucko, MCFE & Lara Rondinelli, RD, LDN, CDE


  • If you can't find fresh whole cranberries, check the frozen section.  Just make sure that they're not packed in syrup or added sugar.  Since I couldn't find them at all last year, I bought several bags during the holiday season and put them in the freezer.
  • To save time, I had boneless pork chops that were already 1/4" thick and just them into smaller pieces.
  • A little cornstarch mixed with water is my go to thickener.  Even after 25 minutes the sauce was nowhere near jam-like, so cornstarch thickener to the rescue.
  • Yes, this will definitely be made again, especially the chutney.  I've found serious competition for regular cranberry sauce with the holiday turkey or chicken.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Quick & Easy: Lemon-Herb Penne

Here's another nice light meal for those warmer days.

Serves - 6
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes

1 box Dreamfields Penne Rigate
1/3 cup plus 2 Tblspn freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 Tblspn fresh thyme leaves
1-1/2 Tblspn olive oil
1 Tblspn chopped fresh chives
1 tsp freshly grated lemon peel
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fresh thyme, chives and lemon wedges (optional)

1.  Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and return to pan.  Add 1/3 cup of the cheese, thyme, oil, chives and lemon peel; toss to combine.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately with remaining cheese.  Garnish with fresh herbs and lemon wedge, if desired.

Calories - 267                Sodium - 132mg
Total Fat - 6g                 Total Carbs - 6g* (digestible carbs)
   Saturated Fat - 2g           Dietary Fiber - 5g
Cholesterol - 7mg          Protein - 12g


  •  As you can see, I turned this side dish into a main dish by adding shredded chicken.
  • Whether you keep this as a side or main dish,  pine nuts would be a great addition.
  • I know the lemon is suppose to be a nice light flavor, but I'd bump up the grated lemon to 2 tsp and sprinkle a little fresh lemon juice on the pasta as well.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Quick & Easy: Cranberry Walnut Salad

Sounded good.....tasted AMAZING!

Serves - 5
Preparation Time:  10 minutes

5oz field green salad mix
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
1 cup shredded carrots
4 green onions, chopped
3 Tblspn balsamic vinegar
1 Tblspn olive oil
1 Tblspn Splenda [used one packet - way less than 1 Tblspn]
1/4 tsp salt (optional)
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1.  In a large bowl, toss together the field greens, cranberries, walnuts, carrots, and green onions.

2.  In a small bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, olive oil, Splenda, salt (optional), and pepper.

3.  Pour dressing over the salad, toss to coat evenly and divide among five plates.

Exchange/Carb - 1/2 fruit / 1 vegetable / 1-1/2 fat
Calories - 110                        Sodium - 25mg
   Calories from Fat - 65         Total Carbs - 12g  w/net Carbs - 10g
Total Fat - 7g                              Dietary Fiber - 2g
   Saturated Fat - 0.7g                 Sugar - 8g
   Trans Fat - 0g                      Protein - 2g
Cholesterol - 0mg

Source:  The Healthy Carb Diabetes Cookbook by Chef Jennifer bucko, MCFE & Lara Rondinelli, RD, LDN, CDE


  • The comment after the first bite, "you can make this again, or for that matter, as often as you want!"
  • Yes, I did add shrimp.  Next time may decide to add shredded chicken.  Honestly, you could add any protein and it would still be great!
  • Paired this with the Blueberries with Lemon Cream for dessert - yum!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Pico de gallo

Love making pico de gallo.  The colors and the taste of fresh ingredients can't be bet.

Preparation Time: 25 minutes

3 firm roma tomatoes
1/2 medium-size red onion, diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, diced
1 large jalapeno, diced
fresh lime juice
salt to taste

Combine all ingredients and add lime juice and salt to taste.  So the flavors can really come through, place in fridge for at least 2 hrs before serving.  But if you're in a hurry, don't worry as it's still going to taste great.

Source: My own recipe


  • Depending on the time of year, the jalapenos may not be very hot.  So if you really want your pico to have some kick, try adding habaneros as well.  Remember - wear gloves when preparing habaneros.

Chicken Taco Salad

The main course for my Cinco de Mayo celebration - good stuff!

Serves - 4  /  Serving Size - 1 cup filling & 2 cups salad
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes

1/2 cup prepared salsa
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 tsp canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound 93%-lean ground turkey [used shredded chicken]
2 large plum tomatoes, diced
1 14-oz can kidney beans, rinsed [used black beans]
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp chili powder
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
8 cups shredded romaine lettuce
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese [use Mexican style grated cheese]

1.  Combine salsa and sour cream in a large bowl.

2.  Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 2 minutes.  Add turkey and cook, stirring often and crumbling with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, about 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes, beans, cumin and chili powder; cook, stirring, until the tomatoes begin to break down, 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove from the heat, stir in cilantro and 1/4 cup of the salsa mixture.

3.  Add lettuce to the remaining salsa mixture in the bowl; toss to coat.  To serve, divide the lettuce among 4 plates, top with the turkey mixture and sprinkle with cheese.

Exchanges/Carb: 1 starch / 2 vegetable / 4 lean meat / 1 carb serving
Calories - 447                           Sodium - 629mg
Total Fat - 19g                          Total Carbs - 27g  w/net Carbs - 17g
   Saturated Fat - 8g                       Dietary Fiber - 10g
   Monounsat Fat - 5g                Protein - 42g
Cholesterol - 108mg

Source: Eating Well


  • Having just made salsa, I had enough to use in this recipe as well as for chips.
  • I didn't think the sharp cheddar cheese would work with the shredded chicken.  So instead used  Mexican style grated cheese.  Talk about a distinct flavor too.
  • Also added a small can of corn - yes, added color and the benefit of another veggie.
  • Definitely had leftovers of the filling.  Recommend you reheat the filling to get the most out of the flavors.

Quick & Easy: Skinny Guacamole

Honestly I was skeptical about this recipe, but after tasting I'm a believer!

Serves - 4 / Serving Size - 1/2 cup
Preparation Time: 20 minutes

1 large zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 large ripe avocado, cubed
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tblspn lime juice
1/2 tsp hot sauce, such as Tabasco, or more to taste
1/4 tsp salt

1.  Place zucchini in a microwave-safe dish, cover with a damp paper towel and microwave on High until tender, 4 to 5 minutes.  Drain in a sieve, pressing lightly on the zucchini to extract any liquid.

2.  Transfer the zucchini to a large bowl; add avocado, cilantro, onion, garlic, lime juice, hot sauce and salt and coarsely mash until combined.

Exchanges/Carb: 1 vegetable / 1-1/2 fat / 1/2 carb serving
Calories - 96                         Sodium - 167mg
Total Fat - 8g                        Total Carbs - 8g  w/net Carbs - 4g
   Saturated Fat - 1g                   Dietary Fiber - 4g
   Monounsat Fat - 5g            Protein - 2g
Cholesterol - 0mg

Source: Eating Well


  • True to form, I read the directions and had all the ingredients out (or so I thought).  So next time I'll put the onion and salt in and see how it changes the flavor.  : )
  • I didn't do the whole "drain zucchini in a sieve and press lightly."  After cooking, there was absolutely no liquid.
  • Even still, I was pleasantly surprised.  You would never guess there's zucchini in this guac.

Aaron Sanchez's Mexican Brownies

[UPDATE] In celebration of Cinco de Mayo, here's a definite "kick" to the ordinary brownie!

Servings - 50 bite size brownies
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes

2 sticks unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder [used Dutch-processed]
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground Mexican cinnamon (canela)
1/4 tsp pequen chili powder or cayenne pepper [used 1/4 tsp of each]
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking powder

1.  Preheat oven 350ºF. Line a 9x13 baking dish with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides.  Press the paper into the corners of the pan and lightly grease the paper with butter.

2.  Melt the 2 sticks of butter in a non-stick saucepan over medium-low heat; do not boil.  Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.  Add the sugar, eggs and vanilla to the saucepan and stir with a wooden spoon until combined.

3.  Add the cocoa, flour, cinnamon, chili powder, salt and baking powder and mix until smooth.  Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out fudgy, 20 to 25 minutes.  Cool in the pan on a rack, then use the parchment paper to lift out the brownies before slicing.

Source: Food Network


  • Yes, it calls for 2 sticks of butter.  I am inclined to try substituting unsweetened applesauce for one stick to decrease the fat and calories.  Because it was the first time making this, the only substitution I did make was with the sugar.
  • Unfortunately because I decreased the amount of Splenda equivalent (1cup = 2 cups of real sugar) to only a heaping 1/2 cup of Splenda, it changed the texture.  So next time would also go with the full 1 cup.  Yes, sometimes no matter what, texture or moistness will be affected.  Every once in a while there is a flip side to making desserts diabetic-friendly.
  • When I went to the mexican market, I asked about the canela cinnamon.  It is no different than regular cinnamon.  Needless to say no need to buy.
  • After reading several reviews, two things were consistently mentioned: the baking time was not long enough and both chili powder and cayenne should be used.  Using my oven thermometer, I knew my oven was accurate.  I still set the time for 15 minutes (as most baked goods tend to cook quickly due to the AccuBake oven).  Sure enough it was done.  And using both spices really did give it that nice "bite/kick" at the end.
  • So if you're looking for an easy dessert to make for Cinco de Mayo, this one will definitely work.
Ok, made a second batch the following day and did not alter any of the existing ingredients (yes, used all 2 cups of sugar).  What a difference!  They baked beautifully, were fudgy and still had that "bite/kick" afterward.  So lesson learned - this particular recipe does not do well with sugar substitution and decreased amount.

In counting the carbs for a healthy Cinco de Mayo meal - Chicken Taco Salad, Pico de gallo, Skinny Guacamole, and homemade salsa you could still have 1 to 2 brownie bites.  Just make sure to forego the tortilla chips.