Category Archives: Low fat

Healthy Oatmeal Raisin Muffins

I’ve never been a huge fan of raisins in food. I like them OK right out of the little boxes. I’m pretty sure I was scarred when I bit into what I thought was a chocolate chip cookie only to find out there were raisins in it instead. Oh the shock and disappointment! That incident sealed my prejudice over raisins for at least a decade or two. I’m about ready to get over myself, though. I’m ready to forgive raisins for their innocent charade only because I may have developed a teeny addiction to breakfast muffins. Said addiction started with the pumpkin quinoa muffins but gained traction with these oatmeal raisin muffins.

I love dense, chewy food and these muffins totally fit the bill. This recipe also helps me stay true to my kitchen/food goals. Since I baked these using whole wheat flour (which I recently purchased for the first time *ever*), these muffins are less processed, low-fat and healthy, too. Plus, they’re portable and can be eaten anywhere…even in the car on the way to work.

I can’t say I’m ready to declare my love for raisins but it’s not their fault they resemble chocolate chips, now is it?


  • 1-1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1-1/2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup raisins


  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. In mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients; mix well.
  3. Crack the egg into a two-cup measuring cup and beat the egg with a fork. Add the milk and beat again. Add the water and oil.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients in the dry ones and stir until loosely mixed. Add the raisins and stir to combine.
  5. Spoon the batter equally into prepared muffin cups.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  7. Immediately remove from tin. Cool completely and store in a gallon size plastic bag.
Yields 12 muffins
Nutritional value:

Calories 170.9  Total Fat 5.8 g  Cholesterol 17.7 mg  Sodium 271.4 mg  Total Carbohydrate 26.9 g  Protein 4.2 g


Posted by on January 12, 2012 in Breakfast, Grains, Low fat, Scratch cooking


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Cream of Turkey and Wild Rice Soup

One would think I should have posted this recipe after Thanksgiving. Sadly, Santa left an unwanted gift for me this year in the form of a stubborn cold. I could eat soup all year long but I especially crave it when I’m not feeling good. I decided to recreate this tasty “soup du jour” from a recent dining-out experience I had while said cold was just starting to incubate. This recipe could easily be made with chicken and chicken stock. However, because I did cook two birds on Thanksgiving and have packages of leftovers and gallons of broth in the freezer, I used turkey instead. Being lactose intolerant, I’m not normally a huge fan of cream soups because they are usually laden with lots of dairy (duh), extra fat and questionable thickeners. In this case, the soup is thickened a bit with flour and then finished off with a touch of sour cream to give it a creamy texture.

The original recipe called for instant rice. I had a bag of Lundberg brand wild and whole grain brown rice blend in my cupboard (purchased at Sprouts) so I opted to cook it separately in a rice cooker. I started the rice first, estimating that by the time I chopped the veggies and sauteed them, the rice would be ready to add to the pot. I wasn’t that far off, actually.

I also subbed dried, and reconstituted, porcini mushrooms only because I was fresh out of fresh mushrooms and didn’t want to make a trip to the store. On a side note, I purchased a huge bag of dried mushrooms at one of those membership-only big box stores years ago. The bag lasts forever (I actually had one bag for an entire decade…but I didn’t cook as much then) in the pantry and allows me to keep a supply on hand for any mushroom-related emergencies that may come up, like today.


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 3/4 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions or shallots
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 4 cups chicken or turkey stock
  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 3 cups (roughly 12 ounces) shredded chicken or turkey
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream


  1. If using wild rice blend, begin cooking it separately according to the package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large stock pot. Add the onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms. Saute on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the flour, salt and pepper. Cook for two minutes, stirring constantly until the flour is entirely incorporated.
  3. SLOWLY add the broth one quarter cup at a time. Thoroughly mix each quarter cup of broth into the veggies until a paste forms. Scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any bits that might have stuck. Once you have a nice consistency in the bottom of the pan, pour in the remaining broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook for about five minutes.
  4. Add rice, meat and sour cream. Stir to combine. Adjust cooking time based on what kind of rice you are using (5 to 7 minutes for instant; 15 to 20 minutes for white rice). If rice has been pre-cooked, just gently heat through.

Serves four

Nutrition per serving (approximate)

354 calories; 9 g fat; 87 mg cholesterol; 27 g carbohydrates; 36 g protein;3 g fiber; 378 mg sodium; 577 mg potassium.

Adapted from: Eating Well

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Posted by on December 27, 2011 in Brown rice, Chicken, Low fat, One pot cooking, Soup, Turkey


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Caramelized Onion, Rice and Lentil Pilaf

Garnish with flat leaf parsley or scallions

Last month I committed to provide some menu items for my Vegetarian Sister (VS) while she was in town visiting. She and I had discussed how some vegetarian dishes (created by carnivore-types) are just lazy variations of non-veg dishes that omit the meat or are overly cheesy to make up for the lack of meat. My goal was to find new recipes she would enjoy that we could cook together; thus creating some sister bonding time and expanding both our culinary horizons.

Score one for Kat! This dish was so good that everyone at the dinner table, including the meat eaters, raved over it. Seriously, though, what is not to love about any recipe that features onions slow roasted until their natural sugars caramelize? Sadly, that means this dish does take a bit of time and forethought to put it together. I prepared it in stages, though, so the last warming-through came together in a snap.

The biggest time commitment of this dish is caramelizing the onions. It pays to take the time to do this properly. Fortunately, although onions take an hour or more to do their thing, caramelizing them is mainly unattended. In my “go big or go home” mentality I believe that if you’re going to devote the time it takes, you should caramelize as many onions as possible. I sliced and cooked the four pounds I had in my cupboard at the time which was more than we needed for this dish. Cooked onions store nicely in the fridge and can also be frozen.

It’s typical of this Middle Eastern dish (called Mujadarra) to be served with a side of plain yogurt or hummus and pita wedges. We served it along side my mother’s roasted pork. I thought it was a combination made in heaven. Of course, my sister passed on the pork but she was happy nonetheless!


  • 3 pounds of onions, caramelized (see Kat’s tip below if you’re unfamiliar with how to do this).
  • 2 cups cooked white or brown rice (I prefer brown)
  • 1.5 cups cooked lentils (use brown or green lentils; not the French ones)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Flat leaf parsley or minced scallions for garnish


  1. Caramelize the onions
  2. Cook rice on stove top or in rice cooker
  3. Cook lentils separately by bringing three to four cups of water in a pan to a boil. Add lentils and cook about 30 minutes until they are chewy but not falling apart.
  4. Drain lentils. Return pan to oven and melt butter over medium heat. Add olive oil and spices. Stir until fragrant.
  5. Add lentils, rice and half of onion mixture back to the same pan. Stir until combined and heated thoroughly.
  6. Garnish with remaining caramelized onions and diced greens (either parsley or green onions).

Kat’s tip: How to caramelize onions

Onions after 15 minutes

I once tried to caramelize onions in the oven. We’ll just chalk it up to an epic failure. Not only did the onions never brown (even after 3 hours in the oven at 400°) but I burned myself twice in the process. Ouch! I’m forevermore sold on the stove top method using a non stick pan.

  • Remove root ends and thinly slice 3 to 5 pounds of onions. I use my Pampered Chef Ultimate Mandolin to make uniform slices so the onions cook evenly. Sprinkle sliced onions liberally with about one tablespoon of salt and toss to coat.
  • Coat the bottom of a large non-stick skillet with equal parts of butter and olive oil (about one teaspoon per onion.)
  • Cook onions on medium heat stirring about every ten minutes.
  • After about 15 to 30 minutes the onions will start to turn color
  • Continue cooking on medium to medium low for another 15 to 30 minutes until they reach a nice brown color. Monitor them a little closer in the end and be careful not to let them burn.

Yield: This dish makes a hearty amount. We had 9 at the table last night. VS ate her fill as a main meal and the rest of us had it as a side dish and there were still leftovers.

Inspiration: Mujadara

Tutorial: Caramelizing Onions


Posted by on December 20, 2011 in Bean Mausoleum, Brown rice, Grains, Low fat, Vegetarian


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Elegant Spinach Swirl Turkey Meatloaf

Last night I hosted my mother’s birthday dinner at my house. During the menu selection process, she gave the green light for this elegant meat loaf. I adapted this recipe from a Turkey Store cookbook that I sent away for some 15 years ago. The loaf is actually easy to prepare and looks great on the table. As a matter of fact, I almost posted this recipe as a Thanksgiving Day substitute for folks who didn’t want to go the whole turkey/turkey breast route. The best part is I prepared the whole thing earlier in the day and just popped it in the oven at the appropriate time. This freed me up to spend time with my Mom and the rest of the guests.

The original recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups cheese. In the past I used to omit the cheese altogether to keep the dish leaner. In honor of La Mama, I added 1/2 cup cheese which was enough to get a hint of a cheesy taste without it being overwhelming. Cheese lovers may want to add the whole amount. I also used homemade marinara sauce in lieu of plain tomato sauce because I happened to have a jar in my fridge.

I paired the meatloaf with baked potatoes and a simple dish of steamed green beans. Mashed potatoes, brown rice or any other green vegetable would work well too. Everyone (even my Very Traditional Brother who admittedly doesn’t usually like meatloaf) commented on much they enjoyed it. Best part of all, La Mama felt spoiled…as she should have.


  • 1 1/4 lbs. ground turkey
  • 3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 8 oz. tomato sauce, divided
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon oregano
  • 10 oz. thawed and well drained frozen spinach
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded


Heat oven to 350°. Grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan. Mix turkey, bread crumbs, onion, eggs, 1/4 cup tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and oregano. Salt and pepper to taste. Roll out a 12″ x 18″ sheet of aluminum foil or wax paper. Shape the meat mixture into a 10 x 8 inch rectangle. Arrange spinach on turkey mixture to within 1/2 inch of edges; sprinkle with garlic salt and cheese. Roll up rectangle carefully, beginning at 8 inch side and using foil to lift. Press edges and ends of roll to seal. Place seam side down in pan. Bake 1 hour and 10 minutes. Drizzle with remaining tomato sauce. Bake 15 minutes longer.

Serves eight

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Posted by on December 17, 2011 in Low fat, One pot cooking, Turkey


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Turkey Tortilla Soup – Low Fat and Healthy

Finish that leftover turkey for good!

The kitchen is clean, the china is put away, the floor has been mopped and Thanksgiving is over. But the leftovers remain. If you’re feeling like you overdid it yesterday, this recipe brings a light, clean and healthy way to use up the remaining turkey. It’s low calorie, low-fat and high on protein. Bonus points for it being a warm meal that is filling, too.

The cleanest way to make this soup is with homemade turkey stock. I’ve posted my sinfully easy way to make homemade broth before. Exactly the same process can be used with the turkey bones. Be warned you will need a really big pot for this. My family does a pretty good job of getting all the stuffing out so I throw the whole bird in, stuffing bits and all. You may be surprised at how much meat comes off the bones. Be careful when straining the broth; turkeys have some skinny, sharp bones that chickens don’t have. Obviously you don’t want these ending up in your soup.

I love to use dark meat in recipes like this because it strings up so nicely. This recipe words equally well with leftover chicken or turkey. Likewise you can get away with using canned chicken broth; just watch the sodium content.

Traditionally tortilla soup is topped with tortilla strips, hence the name. This soup is so flavorful that I usually forgo them but I have been known to top the soup with diced avocado, cilantro or shredded cheese.


  • 2 cups turkey (dark meat), chopped or diced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 4 oz can chopped green chiles
  • 1 15oz can diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups broth (chicken or turkey, homemade preferrable)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup corn, frozen and thawed

Optional garnishes:

  • Crumbled tortilla chips
  • Diced avocado
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Shredded cheese (cheddar, fiesta blend or queso blanco)


  1. Heat the olive oil in large dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions, garlic, bell peppers and saute until the vegetables are soft and the onions are translucent.
  3. Add the diced chile peppers, tomatoes, broth and spices; bring to a boil
  4. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes
  5. Add the turkey and corn; simmer 5 to 10 minutes until heated through

 Serves four

Nutritional info (sans any garnishes)

Calories 238  Total Fat 8.8 g  Cholesterol 59.5 mg  Sodium 822 mg  Potassium 414 mg  Total Carbohydrate 15.7 g   Protein 25.1 g

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Posted by on November 25, 2011 in Low fat, NaBloPoMo, One pot cooking, Soup


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Oven Roasted Veggies – the Perfect Side Dish for Fall

Photo credit: AnneCN on Flickr

One of the easiest side dished you can prepare for fall (and Thanksgiving, in particular) is a platter of roasted vegetables. Heart healthy and low calorie, roasted veggies make an ideal accompaniment to low fat chicken, pork or fish dishes.  As I mentioned in the post for roasted vegetable soup, roasting brings out the fullest flavor of vegetables; reduces any bitterness and enhances their natural sweetness.

Just about any vegetable will work. For obvious reasons, more water laden veggies like celery or leafy greens are not good candidates.

Preparing veggies is as simple as washing, trimming and cutting them into uniform pieces so they cook evenly. Unless you choose to stagger cooking times, denser root veggies benefit from being cut small because they take longer to cook. The finished product can be served hot or cold. Veggies can be roasted in advance and then reheated too.

I always coat the veggies with a drizzle of good quality olive oil and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper prior to roasting. Here are some of my favorites to roast with how I like to cut them for optimal browning.

Mix and or all of these:

  • Asparagus – cut woody stems off bottom
  • Bell peppers – remove stems and seeds; cut into 1″ wide strips
  • Eggplant – peel and cut eggplant in half lengthwise and then into 1/2″ strips
  • Mushrooms – roast whole or cut in half
  • Summer Squash – cut in half and then in quarters
  • Onion – cut in half and lay face down
  • Brussels sprouts – cut in half
  • Fennel – remove fronds and stalks; cut into wedges
  • Potatoes/Yams/Turnips – cut into chunks


  • Pre-heat oven to 400°
  • Chop veggies evenly
  • Coat with olive oil making sure there is an even sheen all the way around
  • Season with salt and pepper
  • Lay in a single layer on a roasting pan
  • Check every 10 minutes. Remove veggies from pan as they are done

Kat’s tip: My favorite melange consists of onion, summer squash, asparagus, and mushrooms. I add the onions first and roast for 10 minutes. Then I add the asparagus and summer squash and roast another 10 minutes. Last I add the mushrooms and roast 5 to 10 minutes or until they’re done. I serve this with slices of rotisserie chicken, soft cheeses (Brie and goat) and fresh bread.


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Healthy Green Bean Casserole with Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup

Photo credit: orphanjones on

I’ve posted a lot about how our traditional Turkey Day menu has been the same for as long as I can recall. What I can’t remember, though, is when the green bean casserole got added to the mix because we didn’t grow up with it. I asked my sister, thinking it might have coincided with a newly added in-law. Her husband doesn’t do mushrooms so I’m pretty sure it wasn’t on his account. Although neither of us can remember why or when, one thing is for sure…if I’m making it, there won’t be any canned soup in it.

The ironic thing is that condensed soup is actually really easy to make from scratch. Combine fresh ingredients with low fat milk, bind them together with either flour or corn starch and you have the making for something far tastier than you can ever get out of can without all the yucky additives, preservatives and sodium.

I pulled the basics for this extremely rich base from an old Weight Watchers recipe. The sauce is so thick that the texture is similar to condensed soup as it comes out of the can. You could easily take this technique and use it to create any variety of “cream-o” soups.

This recipe is easily adaptable to either one or two pounds of green beans. You can use either fresh or frozen green beans. Since the mushroom mixture is so thick, you may need to add extra milk (1/4 cup at a time) until you get a consistency you’re happy with. I’ve chosen to top this year’s presentation with caramelized onions. In years past I’ve also done a mixture of grated Parmesan cheese and Panko bread crumbs with equal success.

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Very thick mushroom sauce


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1.5 cups fresh mushrooms, chopped (I use baby bellas)
  • 1 cup nonfat or lowfat milk
  • Optional: 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper (I prefer white pepper in this recipe)


  1. Add the milk, cornstarch, thyme, salt and pepper to a small bowl. Whisk together. Cornstarch clumps together in liquid so keep the whisk handy.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking.
  3. Add the mushrooms and cook for about five minutes until they start to release their juices.
  4. Pour this milk mixture into the saucepan with the mushrooms. Increase the heat to medium high. Stir constantly as the mixture thickens considerably. This will happen quickly so be careful not to let it burn.
  5. Remove from heat and set aside.

Green Bean Casserole

Onions after 15 minutes


  • 1 medium onion, sliced into 1/4″ rings
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 pound bags frozen cut green beans
  • 1 portion cream of mushroom soup, above
  • 1/3 cup panko or whole wheat breadcrumbs


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°
  2. In a medium frying pan, heat the oil. Add the onion slices and cook over medium low heat until they are golden brown (about 15 to 20 minutes).
  3. Spray a 1 1/2 to 2 quart casserole dish with non-stick spray.
  4. Spread the beans in the casserole dish. Pour the mushroom soup in and stir. If the mixture it too thick, add milk 1/4 cup at a time until you achieve a nice creamy consistency.
  5. Sprinkle the top with bread crumbs and then top with the caramelized onions.
  6. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Kat’s tip: You can easily start with frozen green beans; you just may have to leave the casserole in the oven a while longer.

Serves 8

Nutritional information:

Calories 80.8  Total Fat 3.3 g  Cholesterol 1.5 mg  Sodium 21.7 mg  Potassium 118.4 mg  Total Carbohydrate 9.7 g  Protein 2.0 g


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