Yes, yes it is! Challenger 2BeFitN10 takes this week’s try a new pasta mini challenge and rediscovers whole wheat pasta. With so many varieties available, it’s worth the effort to try a few until you find one you like.
I had tried whole wheat pasta years ago, but didn’t care for the taste. So, I wasn’t too keen on this week’s challenge. I made tuna casserole tonight and substituted whole wheat penne for the regular pasta I usually use. I was actually surprised to find that I liked it. In fact, neither my husband nor my son mentioned anything about the taste. I’m assuming they didn’t notice the switch. Next time, I will venture a little further and use whole wheat angel hair pasta!
This is what the Cook at Home Challenge is all about, 2BFitN10! “I’m really getting hooked on being in the kitchen and trying new foods.”
Darn it, I forgot to get pictures! But I still think it’s pretty neat nonetheless. My nearly 16 year old soon helped me make dinner. I was getting the ingredients ready when he asked if he could help. Knock me over with a feather! Thankfully, it was a simple recipe, Thai Beef with Chilies and Basil over Coconut Rice. It was my first time making this dish and it was delicious.
Last night’s dinner with simple. I made sub sandwiches on fresh french bread with pepper jack cheese drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I served with it a simple Antipasti Chopped Salad, substituting turkey pepperoni and low fat mozzarella cheese instead. It struck me when the meal was over that it felt good eating so much fresh food. I’m really getting hooked on being in the kitchen and trying new foods!
Thanks to 2BFitN10 for sharing this recipe for turkey feta burgers. This is one of those examples where healthy foods have so much more flavor than their junkier counterparts.
One of the reasons I started menu planning (which coincided perfectly with this challenge!) is that I was getting bored with preparing the same things for dinner. I wanted to add some variety to my family’s meals.
I try to use ground turkey instead of ground beef when I cook. This has become one of my favorite recipes to make. It uses feta cheese, which I adore! The mint sauce (you can also use greek yogurt) adds a really nice flavor and contrast to the feta. I have made it without the cucumber and it still turns out great.
Turkey Feta Burgers
- 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 6 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
- Cooking spray
- 1/4 cup grated cucumber
- 1/4 cup plain fat-free yogurt
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
- 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices tomato
- 4 green leaf lettuce leaves
- 4 (2-ounce) Kaiser rolls or hamburger buns
- Combine first 6 ingredients. Divide mixture into four portions. Indent center of each portion; place 1 1/2 tablespoons feta into each. Fold turkey mixture around cheese; shape each portion into a 1/2-inch-thick patty.
- Heat grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add patties; cook 5 minutes on each side.
- Combine cucumber, yogurt, and mint in a small bowl. Arrange 1 turkey patty, 1 tomato slice, 1 lettuce leaf, and 2 tablespoons yogurt mixture on bottom half of each roll. Top with top halves of rolls.
Thanks to challenger 2BFitN10 for sharing with us how she and her family are benefiting from the Cook at Home Challenge.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been menu planning – figuring out what I’ll be making for dinner each night. Except for one night this week, I didn’t stick with the agenda. The good part was that I did make home-cooked meals. This challenge has made me realize that I like knowing that my family is getting a healthy, unprocessed meal each night. I’d rather cook with what I have on hand than buy something in the drive thru.
The bad part: I need to execute my plan a little better. I usually make up my menu plan on Sundays, which didn’t leave me much time for getting the shopping list together and going to the grocery store. Now, I’ll be planning my menus on Saturday, so that I can be ready to hit the grocery store on Sunday. That way, I’ll have all the ingredients I need for the entire week. Cooking, here I come!
I’m really loving this challenge and learning alot through the process!
For a dessert lover like challenger 2BFitN10, finding something that satisfies her sweet tooth and cravings 25 calories is a homemade win!
I LOVE dessert. Especially anything containing dulce de leche, which is a caramel sauce. But it’s usually pretty high in calories. One tablespoon has approximately 60 calories. This dessert has all the lucious flavor of dulce de leche. But amazingly, contains only 25 calories per serving!
2 oz fat-free cream cheese or 1/3-less-fat cream cheese (Neufchâtel), softened
2 tablespoons dulce de leche (caramel) syrup
1 tablespoon reduced-fat sour cream
1 package (2.1 oz) frozen mini fillo shells (15 shells)
1/3 cup sliced fresh strawberries
2 tablespoons diced mango
- In medium bowl, beat cream cheese with electric mixer on low speed until creamy. Beat in dulce de leche syrup and sour cream until blended.
- Spoon cream cheese mixture into each fillo shell. Top each with strawberry and mango.
The recipe makes 15 servings.
Whether she meant to or not, we think challenger 2BFitN10 took our go green mini challenge. Kale is an incredibly healthy leafy green vegetable that can be added to meals effortlessly.
A while back, my family had gotten into a rut. We were eating the same foods over and over again. I came across this recipe and decided to try it, because we had never eaten kale before. I remember buying the kale at the store and thinking to myself that there was no way I was going to like all these greens. I made a batch of the soup and it was actually delicious! One suggestion: I tasted the soup before adding the half-and-half. I liked it better without it, although my son begged to differ. You might want to taste it first before adding the half-and-half.
Italian Meatball Soup
- 2 slices bacon
- 1/2 lb lean Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
- 2 large russet potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
- 1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 4 cups water
- 3 1/2 cups Progresso® reduced-sodium chicken broth (from 32-oz carton)
- 4 cups chopped fresh kale or Swiss chard leaves
- 1 can (15 or 19 oz) cannellini beans, drained, rinsed
- 1 cup fat-free half-and-half or regular half-and-half
1. In 4-quart nonstick saucepan or Dutch oven, cook bacon until crisp; drain on paper towel. Crumble bacon; set aside. Remove and discard drippings from saucepan.
2. In same saucepan, cook sausage over medium-high heat 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until no longer pink. Drain well on paper towels; set aside.
3. In same saucepan, mix potatoes, onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, pepper flakes, water and broth. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; cook uncovered about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Stir in bacon, sausage, kale and beans. Cook 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until potatoes and kale are tender. Stir in half-and-half; cook just until heated.
Talk about infusing the go-green mini challenge with innovation. Challenger 2BFitN10 took a shot at cooking with green tea and it sounds like a delicious meal was the result.
I love drinking green tea. This week’s challenge got me thinking: I wonder if I can do something with green tea besides drink it? Lo and behold, I can! I found two recipes that I made for dinner tonight. The main course was Green Tea Teriyaki Chicken, accompanied by Green Tea Rice. I was a bit apprehensive about cooking with green tea. I wasn’t quite sure how the flavors would turn out and whether my family would like it. The Green Tea Rice recipe called for white rice. I used Jasmine rice in my version.
The end result was delicious! The dishes had a subtle green tea flavor and a slight sweetness. I will definitely will be adding these two recipes to my collection of family favorites.
This is a great example from challenger 2BFitIn10 of taking a recipe and with a few very minor adjustments cutting the calories and fat to make a healthier meal.
Today, I decided to use up some leftover salad greens before they spoiled. First, I tweaked the following recipe for Oven-Fried Chicken Cutlets. The original called for 1/3 cup of butter or margarine and 1 cup of round buttery cracker crumbs. I substituted cooking spray and seasoned bread crumbs instead in order to healthify it a bit.
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 chicken breast cutlets (about 1 1/4 pounds)
Olive oil cooking spray
- Stir together first 5 ingredients in a shallow bowl.
- Rinse and pat the chicken dry with a paper towel. Spray both sides of the chicken with cooking spray. Dredge in the crumb mixture. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
- Bake at 400° for 10-15 minutes. Turn chicken over and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until chicken is brown and done.
Once the chicken was done, I placed a piece on top of a bed of spring greens, grape tomatoes, a sprinkling of part-skim reduced fat mozzarella and tortilla strips. It was quick, easy, and everyone loved it!
Great tip from challenger 2BFitIn10. Growing fresh herbs can save you a lot of money and provide you with a flavorful way to replace salt in foods.
Last week, I had to buy a bunch of different herbs for my meals that I had planned. I love the taste of fresh herbs, but I don’t like the price. So, I picked up some of my most frequently used herbs at the store last Sunday.
- Mint (yummy for tea!)
My herb plants are ready to be potted in nutritious organic soil. This will save me lots of money. And, I have the added convenience of having my favorite herbs on hand when last minute inspiration strikes me while cooking.
Thanks to challenger 2BFitIn10 for this fresh and delicious apple salad recipe. She’s right, it’s a great (and simple) way to add some extra fruit to your meals.
While planning my menu for next week’s meals, I came across a great recipe. It looks delish and would make a great accompaniment to perhaps chicken or pork. Even better, add some cut up cooked chicken breast and turn it into a meal. It’s a great way to work fruit into your diet. I might have to sneak it into my meal plan this week!
Apple Salad w/Honey Yogurt Dressing
1 1/2 cup Granny Smith Apples
1 1/2 cup Golden Delicious Apples
1 cup Thinly sliced celery
3/4 cup Red Delicious Apples
1/2 cup Seedless Red Grapes (halved)
1/2 cup Golden raisins
1/4 cup Chopped pecans
1/2 cup Plain non-fat yogurt
2 tbs Honey
1 tbs White wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp Dijon Mustard
Combine first 7 ingredients and toss well.
Combine yogurt and next 3 ingredients and mix well.
Toss yogurt mixture with apple salad and toss. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Use radicchio leaves to create “bowls” on small salad plates.
Makes 6 1-cup servings.