Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Top Lucky 7 Healthy (Low Glycemic) Recipes

The Post-Charlie days have been difficult, to say the least, but I've finally been able to start the arduous journey back into human being-hood (that's a word).  The best recipes for my post-pregnancy health are ones that are low-glycemic.  I love South Beach Phase One or any other plans that are low-carb, high-protein, and based on real, fresh ingredients.  These are my TOP SEVEN recipes of the year so far.  Some of them are loosely based on ones I've found and some have been created as I've gone along.  I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Healthy Vichyssoise/ Leek and Cauliflower Soup

I adore Vichyssoise.  We make it for Christmas Eve Dinner each year and we all enjoy the creamy smoothness.  The only problem is that it’s made from potatoes and has lots of cream in it.  I decided to try out a healthy version where I substituted cauliflower for the potatoes and left out dairy completely.  It was a huge hit!  The kids kept asking for second and third helpings.  Don’t get me wrong, though.  This won’t taste exactly like Vichyssoise.  But when you want something close without the calories, this one’s a winner!  Vive la Cauliflower!!

3 leeks, white and light green parts sliced and cleaned
2 t salt
½ t pepper
1 head cauliflower, cut into chunks
Chicken broth or stock
2 T olive oil

Cook cleaned leeks in olive oil in a dutch oven or soup pot until they’re softened (about 4-5 mnutes). Add cauliflower and stir while cooking for 2-3 minutes.  Add salt and pepper.  Add enough chicken broth to just cover the vegetables.  Bring to a boil and cook for 20-30 minutes or until cauliflower is completely soft.  Blend with an immersion blender (or you could use a normal blender).  Add more salt to taste and enjoy.  (Optional: you can add ½ cup milk if you want it to be a little creamier.)

Shredded Mexican Chicken

This is the perfect go-to chicken dish and you can easily double it to feed a crowd!

3 lbs chicken breasts, fat removed (If you have frozen chicken breasts, you can just chuck them in the crock-pot as is)
2 8 oz cans red enchilada sauce
1 4 ox can green chilis or ½ cup green taco sauce or enchilada sauce
3 t cumin
3 t chili powder
½ chopped onion or ¼ cup dried minced onion

Place chicken in crock pot and then add all other ingredients. Cook for 8 hours on low.  Drain liquid and shred chicken.  Add 1-2 cups of liquid back into the chicken. (You can also use the liquid to add to rice to make some darn good spanish rice).  Serve with salad or on whole wheat tortillas. (I eat it with salad and the rest of the carb-lovers in the family eat it with tortillas.) We always make this with the Crockpot Refried Beans.

Crockpot “Refried” Beans

For some reason, I used to be afraid of beans. . . and not for the reason you’re thinking about, silly.  I had never cooked with “real” beans until I tried this recipe and it is LEAGUES above and beyond the stinky canned kind!  You have to try these!  Look at the ingredients! There is NO FAT in them!  NONE!

1 onion, peeled and halved
3 cups dry pinto beans, rinsed
1/2 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (or one 4 oz can diced green chilis)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
5 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin, optional
9 cups water

Place the onion, rinsed beans, jalapeno, garlic, salt, pepper, and cumin into a slow cooker. Pour in the water and stir to combine. Cook on High for 8 hours, adding more water as needed. Note: if more than 1 cup of water has evaporated during cooking, then the temperature is too high.
Once the beans have cooked, strain them, and reserve the liquid. This is very important!  If you don’t take out the water first, your beans will be runny! Use immersion blender to blend beans and add a little water at a time or you can mash the beans with a potato masher, adding the reserved water as needed to attain desired consistency.  I usually have 2-3 cups leftover liquid.

Lime Tilapia

The kids LOVE this!  When they ask what is for dinner (as they always do) and I say we’re having tilapia, they always shout out, “Yay!  Slap-ya!”  I eat it with salad and I serve it with rice for the kids.

You can find portions of tilapia in the freezer section for a dollar a piece! 

4-5 tilapia filets
Old Bay seasoning
1 cup chicken broth or stock
2 t minced garlic 
1 T olive oil
2 limes (you’ll use both the juice and the zest)
½ cup chopped herbs (parley, cilantro, or basil are my favorites)

Lay filets out flat in baking dish and season both sides of fish with seasoning. (If you don’t have Old Bay you can use celery salt or onion salt, but it’s worth buying some.)

Heat oil in frying pan and add garlic.  Cook for two minutes.  Zest both limes and add zest to garlic.  Add juice of both limes and chicken stock.  Let cook on low for 10 minutes. Spoon sauce over fish and let sit for 10-15 minutes (but not longer).  Cook for 15 minutes at 375.  We love eating this with black beans or black bean soup and Roasted Caulifower or sautéed Spicy Broccoli.

This would also be superb in fish tacos if you could spare some carbs for a corn tortilla.

Roasted Cauliflower

1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 red pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
½ cup olives (we prefer brown kalamata)
3 T oilive oil
2 t coriander (optional. Cumin or paprika would also be good if you don’t have coriander)
Salt and pepper to taste

Cover cookie sheet in foil.  Place ingredients on foil and drizzle olive oil over the top.  Add spices and mix everything together with your hands so that it all gets coated.  Cook at 375 for 35-40 minutes or just until cauliflower starts to brown on the edges. 

Spinach and Basil Pesto

I LOVE pesto, but sometimes the earthiness of the basil is a bit overwhelming, so I decided to try adding some spinach to the mix.  YUM!  We love this with vegetables or we like to put it on top of chicken, salmon or tilapia and bake it.

1 1/2 cups baby spinach leaves
3/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered or 3 t. minced garlic
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (plus more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4-1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (depending on how thick you like your pesto)

Blend the spinach, basil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, pepper, lemon juice, lemon zest, and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a food processor until nearly smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula as necessary. Drizzle the remaining olive oil into the mixture while processing until smooth.

Pesto Chicken (or fish)

1 recipe Spinach and Basil Pesto
Chicken Breasts (or salmon or tilapia filets)
Shredded Low-fat Mozarella Cheese

Place meat in 9x13 pan and cover each piece with a large spoonful of pesto.  For chicken, cover with a small amount of cheese.  (Omit cheese for fish.) For chicken, cook at 350 for 45 minutes.  For fish, cook at 350 for 15-20 minutes. 

Spicy Sautéed Broccoli

3-4 bunches of brocolli florets, cut into large chunks
2 t red pepper flakes
2 T olive oil
salt and pepper

Place oil in wok or large fying pan and let heat on medium high heat for one minute.  The oil should be HOT when you add the broccoli.  Ad broccoli and stir constantly for 2-3 minutes so that it doesn’t burn.  Rub red pepper flakes between your fingers and then add to pan.  Add salt and pepper.  I like my broccoli a little crunchy in the middle, so I only cook it about 3 minutes more, stirring often to make sure it doesn’t burn.  You can cook longer if you like the middle to be softer.