Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Recipes for a special diet

Children with Type 1 diabetes have a great new resource for recipes tailored to their special diet.

“Dishing It Up Disney Style: A Cookbook for Familes with Type 1 Diabetes” is a collaboration between Lilly Diabetes and Disney to provide a fun way for families to choose healthy recipes. The book is available through pediatric endocrinology offices only, so check with your child’s doctor.

Each recipe includes an illustration of a Disney character and a tip. For instance, Snow White gives a tip for crunchy homemade granola: “Cooking for seven can be tricky, but this recipe makes it simple! Little members of the household can have fun measuring out all the ingredients, stirring the mixture, and pouring it onto the cookie sheet.”

There are recipes in the expected categories that are both wholesome and delicious, according to a preface by Amy Hess Fischl, chair of the Diabetes Care and Education Practice Group of the American Dietetic Association. She said the recipes were selected based on sound nutritional recommendations.

“They have been selected to provide options that are low in added sugar, high in fiber and low in fat — but never lacking in flavor.”

There are a number of recipes here that I’d love to try, including Goofy’s zucchini frittata, Hercules’ oven eggs with ham, Tigger’s tortellini vegetable soup and Stitch’s chicken teriyaki.

I make the very simple recipe for Aurora’s applesauce muffins. It’s a very easy recipe. The house smelled so good on a rainy morning while the muffins baked. The muffins aren’t as sweet as I’m used to, I’ll admit that, but they are good and would be delicious for breakfast or with hot tea mid-morning.

Each recipe in the book includes the nutritional information, including calories, total fat, carbohydrates, fiber, protein and carbohydrate choice.

Aurora's Applesauce Muffins
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups chunky applesauce
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with baking cups and set aside. In a small microwave-save bowl, melt the butter on high for about 30 to 60 seconds; set aside to cool slightly.

Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt into a large mixing bowl.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and brown sugar. Stir in the applesauce and melted butter until the mixture is smooth.

Pour the apple mixture over the flour mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon until combined (it's ready when you can't see any traces of flour).

Fill the baking cups about two-thirds full with batter. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly brown.

Serving is 1 muffin. Calories 176, total fat 7 g, total carbohydrate 25, fiber 1 g, protein 3 g, carbohydrate choice 1 1/2.

"Dishing It Up Disney Style"

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Easy sweet and sour meatballs

This recipe falls under the easy category.

I made slow cooker sweet and sour meatballs Friday night and was pleased with how they turned out.

The preparation is as easy as it gets. All you need to do is mix up the ingredients for the glaze, cut up a green pepper and pour the ingredients in a slow cooker.

I was careful to thoroughly blend the glaze ingredients to incorporate the corn starch, but that didn’t take but a few minutes.

I put together the recipe at lunch. When I walked in after work, the house smelled so good. I love the smell of pineapple! The meatballs were ready to eat at suppertime.

I served the meatballs with rice.

For this recipe, I chose turkey meatballs. Sometimes I make my own meatballs, but this time I purchased frozen meatballs.

We liked the recipe, especially the glaze, and I plan to make it again.

Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour Meatballs
  • 24 to 28 ounces of frozen meatballs (I use turkey meatballs)
  • 1/3 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup brown sugar (I used 1/2 cup but will add a little more next time)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce (or to taste)
  • 1 16 oz. can pineapple chunks in natural syrup, undrained
  • 1 large or 2 medium green peppers, cut in bite-size chunks
Pour meatballs into slow cooker (I use a liner.) No need to defrost.

In a small bowl whisk together vinegar, brown sugar, cornstarch and soy sauce until smooth. Add in pineapple juice drained from can of pineapple (reserving the pineapple) and whisk until incorporated.

Add green pepper and pineapple chunks to slow cooker, then pour pineapple juice mixture over top.

Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or until heated through.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Healthy and delicious

We all need reminding from time to time that what we eat affects our health. In February, during American Heart Month, we hear a lot about heart health, and one important way to improve our health is by eating a healthy diet.

The folks at Amazon sent me a cookbook from the American Heart Association that is packed with recipes for the slow cooker. In addition to many recipes, the book also contains some information most of us have heard before but probably need to hear again about making healthy choices with our diet.

Some of the main points made in the book are: focus on nutrient-rich foods; eat whole grains when possible; use fat-free or low-fat dairy products rather than the full-fat versions; eat seafood high in omega-3 fatty acids; cook lean poultry and meat, discarding all visible fat, and eat no more than two servings a day; add legumes, nuts and seeds to your menus, including dried beans and unsalted peanuts; and use liquid oils and spray or light tub margarines rather than butter and stick margarines.

The book also encourages cooks to cut back on sodium, added sugar and saturated and trans fats.

With each of these healthier choice tips, the book editors give some slow cooker solutions, relying on recipes from the cookbook.

For instance, recipes for balsamic-glazed beets with toasted walnuts or crock-roasted carrots and parsnips are good ways to use nutrient-rich root vegetables. Work in some whole grain with double-mushroom and barley soup or wild rice with harvest vegetables. Add some nuts to your diet with pistachio and pumpkin seed snack mix.

Limit sugar by making your own chai tea or decadent chocolate pudding cake, and choose vegetarian options, such as spicy vegetable curry, a few times a week in an effort to cut back on fats.

I enjoy my slow cookers and always look for ways to put them to use and make easy and delicious meals. I’d love to try several recipes featured in “Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook,” including pepper-pineapple chicken and brisket with exotic mushroom and onion gravy.

I made chicken pastry Saturday night and tried simple mashed sweet potatoes as a side dish. I have cooked whole sweet potatoes in the slow cooker before, and I’ve also made a sweet potato casserole using canned sweet potatoes. This was the first time I used peeled, fresh sweet potatoes in a slow cooker dish.

I put the dish together after returning home from my Saturday morning grocery shopping and enjoyed smelling it cook during the day in my small slow cooker. I didn’t have the full recommended cook time before dinner, so I turned the slow cooker on high for the first hour to give the potatoes a jump start. They cooked on low for maybe five hours after that and were soft and ready to mash.

I was unsure if I would like the nutmeg, but I added it anyway and was pleasantly surprised.

I enjoyed the sweet potatoes that night and again Sunday with leftovers.

Barbecue-Spiced Turkey Breast
  • 2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 bone-in turkey breast half (about 2 pounds), skin and all visible fat discarded
In a small bowl, stir together all the ingredients except the turkey. Sprinkle all over the turkey. Using your fingertips, gently press the seasonings so they adhere to the turkey. Transfer with the meaty side up to the slow cooker.

Cook, covered, on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours, or until the thickest part of the breast registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.

Transfer the turkey to a cutting board. Cover loosely. Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes to finish cooking (it should reach a minimum of 165 degrees) before slicing. Serve with the cooking juices if desired.

"Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook"

Simple Mashed Sweet Potatoes
  • 3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened apple juice
In the slow cooker, make a layer of half the sweet potatoes. Sprinkle with half each of the brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Repeat. Pour the apple juice over all. Don't stir. Cook, covered, on low for 6-8 hours.*

Just before serving, use the back of a large spoon to mash the sweet potatoes against the side of the crock until the desired consistency.

"Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook"

* The lower time is probably plenty; keep a watch on them and don't allow to burn.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Something sweet for Valentine's

I don’t know about you, but I get my cooking inspiration from any number of sources: fresh produce; a craving; a recipe I saw in a magazine.But my inspiration for today’s food column came from a pretty, footed dessert dish I bought last month. The dish has a red base, and I knew it would be so pretty for a Valentine’s dessert (and a photo for my food column!)

I thought of all kinds of sweets I could serve in my pretty dessert bowl: chocolate mousse; banana pudding; an ice cream sundae topped with strawberries; a brownie sundae. There are so many options!

But I decided to go with a cream cheese and cherry dessert and turn it into a parfait of sorts. And here’s where I decided to think outside the box, or outside the pie crust in this case.

I used my recipe for no-bake cherry cheesecake but didn’t spoon it into a graham cracker pie crust. Instead, I crumbled that pie crust (you could use graham crackers if you prefer) and sprinkled some crumbs in the bottom of my dessert dish. Then I put a layer of cream cheese mixture on top and added some cherry pie filing. I repeated with more pie crust crumbs and a smaller dollop of cream cheese mixture. Then I topped it with a spoonful of the cherries and placed it in the refrigerator to chill.

The end result was so pretty and delicious! I love fancy desserts for special occasions, and Valentine’s is one of my favorite times to splurge in the kitchen and to make an especially nice presentation for the dining room table.

We sampled the dessert after photos were taken last night. I filled two of the dessert bowls with the cherry cream cheese layers. For her dessert, my daughter had warmed hot fudge sauce instead of cherries. I didn’t get a chance to sample that one, but I can only imagine how good it was!

My dessert dishes hold a lot of dessert. I only ate half of my serving; my husband ate the other half. How perfect, I thought, dessert to share for Valentine’s Day!

I bought six of these pretty bowls with different color bases. So stay tuned. I’ll be coming up with something new to put in the blue bowls next!

Cherry Cheesecake Parfait
  • 8 oz. cream cheese (I use the lower fat, neufchatel)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 8 oz. tub lite whipped topping
  • Graham cracker crust, crumbled (or graham crackers, crumbled)
  • 1 can cherry pie filling (I use the lite version)
In a large bowl mix cream cheese until soft. Add in vanilla and powdered sugar and mix until combined. Fold in whipped topping.

If making a layered dessert or parfait, sprinkle crust crumbles into individual dishes. Add a layer of cream cheese mixture followed by cherries. For the second layer, sprinkle more crumbs and add a smaller dollop of cream cheese mixture and a spoonful of cherries. Refrigerate, allowing several hours to chill.

The number of servings will vary depending on the size of your dessert dishes, but expect to serve at least 6.

If you'd rather serve as a pie, spoon cream cheese mixture into graham cracker crust and top with cherries.