Light and Creamy Alfredo…that won’t make you fat!

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I love alfredo sauce.  It’s creamy and dreamy and delicious.  The thing I don’t like about alfredo sauce is that it is SO FULL OF FAT!  Not exactly a health food.  When I saw a recipe for alfredo sauce in the latest issue of “Cooking Light” magazine, I figured I had to try it out and see if I could enjoy alfredo without all of the cream and fat.

I have never made alfredo from scratch before, so I don’t have anything to compare this to, but this was easy to make.  I tossed the alfredo with whole wheat penne (all I had in the pantry) and some roasted broccoli and served it alongside a baked chicken breast.  Basically the healthiest meal ever.  ;)  The sauce was very forgiving and I really appreciated that part.

Final verdict?  I loved it just as much as the full fat variety!  If you are looking to really coat your noodles, I would suggest making a double batch of the alfredo.  This was enough for a thin coating of sauce but not much more.  While the occasional indulgence of the full fat alfredo is good for the soul, this recipe is just as good and is even good for you.  Looks like I will be enjoying alfredo a lot more from now on!

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Alfredo Sauce with pasta

Adapted from “Cooking Light”

8 oz uncooked pasta

1 T butter

1 T vodka

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 oz low fat cream cheese

1/4 c fat free milk

2 oz grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 t salt

1/4 t pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain in a colander over a bowl.  Reserve 1/4 c pasta water.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add vodka and garlic, cook 1 minute.  Add cream cheese and stir until smooth. Stir in milk, Parmesan cheese, 1/2 t salt, and 1/4 t pepper.  Stir in reserved pasta water and pasta; toss to coat noodles.  

Easy Stuffed Peppers

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Don’t let these horrible iPhone photos dissuade you from trying this recipe…I swear it was delicious!  As I mentioned yesterday, I am currently doing the 10 Day Advocare Cleanse.  I’m on Day 3 and going strong.  What I love is the fact that this is not a starve yourself kind of cleanse.  You can’t have alcohol, dairy, processed foods, fried foods, etc, but you can have pretty much everything else.  I spent most of Sunday doing a lot of meal prep for the week to keep myself on the proper path for this cleanse.  I grilled chicken, I made a big batch of brown rice and quinoa, I cut up veggies, I made breakfast egg muffins, and I made a big batch of steel cut oats.  I rounded out the day by make these stuffed peppers.

Since I had already made brown rice, this was an even easier recipe.  Just mix a few ingredients together and bake.  Seriously, it is that easy.  I urge you to try them (even if you aren’t watching what you eat!).

Stuffed Peppers

Makes 3 peppers

3 bell peppers (any color – I used red)

1/2 cup cooked brown rice 

1/2 lb ground turkey

10 oz tomato sauce (any brand, I used Amy’s Organic)

1 t Worchestire sauce

1/4 t garlic powder

1/4 t onion powder

1 t Italian seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Meanwhile, brown 1/2 lb of ground turkey.  Once cooked through, put in a bowl.  Add to the bowl the brown rice and also 8 oz of tomato sauce and all of the seasonings listed above.  Set filling aside.

Take three peppers and cut off the tops.  Empty the peppers of the seeds and membranes and place in a baking dish (trim bottoms of peppers if necessary to keep them upright).  Fill the peppers with your filling and top with some of the remaining tomato sauce.

Bake for 1 hour, “basting” the peppers with more tomato sauce every 15 minutes until the peppers are soft.  Enjoy!

Meal Planning Actually Works!

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Last week, I decided to male plan my way through the week.  I planned my menu (using the trusting board my sister made me for Christmas a few years back…it usually just says beer, courtesy of Aaron).  I used that menu to plan my grocery trip.  And then I stuck to it.  I made enough each night to have leftovers for lunch the following day.

Spoiler alert!  Meal planning works!

I know, you are so shocked, right?  But even though it wasn’t “clean” eating or whatever, I ate healthy, whole food type meals all week.  And they were tasty AND easy to make.  What did I have?

Monday:

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This one was delicious!  I took two chicken breasts (one for dinner, one for lunch the next day) and butterflied them.  Sprinkled with salt and pepper and filled with a goat cheese and sun dried tomato, I browned the chicken on the stove and then transferred to the oven to finish cooking.  A side of roasted asparagus and I had a gourmet dinner in no time.

Tuesday:

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You already have read about my sloppy joe dinner here.  But just as a reminder, I enjoyed homemade sloppy joes and steamed broccoli rabe for dinner on Tuesday.  Yum!

Wednesday:

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I wasn’t in the mood for this meal at all on Wednesday, but it was on the plan and I had the ingredients on hand, so I pushed through.  It was really good, but not what I was craving (which would have been CARBS and not as healthy).  I was thankful I had this already planned becuase it ensured I had a healthy dinner in a short amount of time.

I had one leftover chicken breast and two chicken tenders from Monday’s meal, so while I cooked dinner on Monday, I chopped up the leftover raw chicken and tossed it in a Ziploc with some prepared pesto.  It sat that way in my fridge until Wednesday.  When I got home on Wednesday, all I did was dump the chicken into a baking dish and cooked it through.  While the chicken was baking, I cut up two slices of bacon and cooked them until crispy.  I added the bacon to steamed green beans.  Again, it was tasty but not what I wanted.

Thursday:

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This was a pretty tasty meal!  I grilled up 4 Chicken Andouille Sausages while sauteeing peppers and red onions.  I toasted some buns as well.  I put some yellow mustard on the buns with the pepper and onion mixture and then added the sausages.  LOTS of flavor and pretty easy to make!

Friday:

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I had bun-less hamburgers and sweet potato rounds on the menu, but I wasn’t feeling it tonight.  Instead I used leftover ingredients (peppers and onions from Thursday night, sundried tomatoes and goat cheese from Monday, bacon from Wednesday) and made an omelet.  Breakfast for dinner is never a bad idea.  So…an omelet filled with sautéed peppers, onions, and sundried tomatoes, goat cheese, and herbs de provence with a side of bacon.  It was just what I wanted.

Thoughts?

What are my thoughts on meal planning?  It’s great!  I forced myself to eat healthy meals for both lunch and dinner all week, but they were tasty, so I didn’t even mind.  I spent ZERO on eating out this week (which has been a problem for me lately) and I felt great!  I am noticing that overly processed foods make me really bloated and gross-feeling lately.  I didn’t have that feeling at all this week.

I ate the same thing for breakfast all week (oat bran with blackberries, brown sugar, and nutmeg).  My snacks were all almonds, apples (had one every afternoon), and granola bars.  Don’t know if I can be this religious with meal planning moving forward, but I am now officially a fan of the idea.

Sloppy Joes without a can

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Who reading this doesn’t like sloppy joes?  Anyone?  If you don’t like them, just stop reading now because I’m going to sing the praises of the sloppy joe.  It’s delicious.  Sweet and tangy ground beef on a roll.  Comfort food…at least for this girl.  My entire life I have enjoyed the wonders of the sloppy joe because of the miracle can called Manwich.  Manwich is delicious and easy and I really thought that was the only way to do sloppy joes.  I was so very wrong.

A couple nights ago, I decided to leave the can of Manwich on the shelf and attempt this tasty treat via a recipe.  It was a bold move.  When Aaron and I were in Minnesota for Christmas, his mom made homemade sloppy joes for dinner one night.  I had assumed that Aaron didn’t like sloppy joes (Aaron isn’t much into food…) but he liked these sloppy joes.  They were good, but not as tomato based as I had grown up with, courtesy of my trusty can of Manwich.  Regardless, I was inspired to try my hand at from scratch sloppy joes because I knew I could make a version that was Aaron approved.

I found this recipe on Taste of Home’s website.  I made a few modifications (only used 1 T of brown sugar – loosely packed and also added one chopped onion to the beef when cooking) and I was FLOORED by the results.  It was just as good and even better than my beloved Manwich.  I didn’t think it was possible.

I wish this was smell-o-vision.

I wish this was smell-o-vision.

I enjoyed these open-face style since the buns I had were relatively small onion rolls.  Add a side of steamed broccoli rabe and I was in comfort food heaven.  Since I am trying more and more to eat less processed foods, this was a great way to get the taste I wanted without anything I didn’t know about.  I can’t say enough about this recipe and encourage you to give it a whirl if you are as much of a Manwich fan as I am!

Enjoy!

This is the worst food photo ever, but I promise this was so delicious!!

This is the worst food photo ever, but I promise this was so delicious!!

Sloppy Joe Sandwiches

Modified from Taste of Home

Makes 4 sandwiches

1 lb ground beef (I used grass fed)

1 small white onion, diced

1 c ketchup

1/4 c water

1 T brown sugar, loose

2 t Worchestershire sause

2 t yellow mustard

1/2 t garlic powder

1/2 t onion powder

1/2 t salt

4 hamburger buns

In a large saucepan, cook the beef and onions over medium heat until the beef is no longer pink; drain.  Stir in the ketchup, water, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes.  Serve on buns.

Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Casserole…Sarah Style

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One of my favorite comfort food recipes is this recipe for Chicken Divan.  I love it.  Spooned over rice or mashed potatoes, this recipe is pure perfection.  When I got the Jan/Feb 2014 issue of “Cooking Light” in the mail last week, I stumbled upon a recipe for “Mom’s Creamy Chicken and Broccoli Casserole” on page 30.  I was immediately intrigued because it looked similar to my beloved Chicken Divan without the use of condensed soup.

Of course I made some modifications to the original recipe because it called for mushrooms and that doesn’t fly in my house.  Ugh.  I also seasoned it very similarly to my Chicken Divan recipe as I didn’t think there was enough seasonings in the original recipe.  It’s a very forgiving recipe and accepts modifications well.  Also, it was a hearty enough recipe that I didn’t even need to serve it over rice.  Just ate it straight and it was just as delicious as my Chicken Divan (and a whole lot healthier!)  I hope you try it and love it!

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Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine (Jan/Feb 2014)

Serves 4-6

24 ounces broccoli (steamed or roasted)

1 T olive oil

1 medium white onion, diced

3 T all purpose flour

1 1/2 c fat free milk

12 oz chopped chicken breast (I used the chicken picked from a small rotisserie chicken)

1/2 c plain, fat free Greek yogurt

1/4 c Mayo

1/2 t black pepper (or to taste)

1/2 t salt (or to taste)

1/2 t cayenne pepper (or to taste)

1/2 t curry powder (or to taste)

6 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (I used a white sharp cheddar)

1/2-1 oz Parmesan cheese, grated

French Fried Onions, optional

Preheat broiler.

Prepare broccoli and set aside.  Pick apart chicken and also set aside.

Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium high heat.  Add oil to pan; swirl to coat.  Add onion and cook until onions are soft and translucent.  Sprinkle onions with flour and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Stir in milk.  Bring to a boil; cook 3 minutes or until thick and bubbly.  Stir constantly.  Stir in broccoli and chicken.

Take mixture off heat and stir in mayo, yogurt, and spices.  Once combined, top with cheeses and French Fried Onions, if desired.  Place skillet in preheated oven and broil for 2 minutes or until cheese on top is melted and bubbly.

Enjoy!