Sunday, April 18, 2010

Turkey-Stuffed Peppers

I love this recipe for so many reasons.  Turkey-stuffed bell peppers are filled with lean protein and vitamin and nutrient-packed veggies.  They're also low in carbs, fat, and calories.  And of course, they're tasty, filling, and look gorgeous.  Be sure to look for low (or no) sodium/salt for your tomato sauce to keep this dish heart-healthy as well.  

A few words on peppers.  They're delicous raw as a snack and add a lot of flavor to prepared dishes.  Peppers are full of vitamins A, C, and K.   They're loaded with antioxidants, lycopene, and fiber.  

Ingredients (4 servings):

    1 lb. Lean Ground Turkey 
    3 Large Green Peppers (2 with tops, seeds, and core removed, 1 chopped)
    3 Large Red Peppers (2 with tops, seeds, and core removed, 1 chopped)

    2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
    2 Medium Garlic Cloves, chopped (or 2 tsp. minced garlic)
    1 cup fresh Mushrooms, sliced (or 1 4-oz. can sliced mushrooms)
    1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
    2 tsp. Basil
    2 tsp. Oregano  
    1 Ripe Red Tomato, diced (or 1 Can Diced Tomatoes, no Salt Added) 
    2 small cans (or 1 Large-14-15 oz) low (or no) sodium Tomato Sauce
    1/3 cup Parmesan or Mozzarella cheese (I used some of each cheese; Also, I use Fat-Free Mozz, but 1-2% is also healthy with a little more flavor)
    Extra Parmesan or Mozzarella cheese (for sprinkling on top)

    1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    2.  In medium skillet, brown turkey.  Drain and set aside.
    3.  Heat oil in medium skillet over medium-high.  Add mushrooms, chopped Green and Red Peppers, and garlic.  Sauté about 4-5 minutes.
    4.  Turn heat to low.  Add turkey, seasonings (basil, oregano, garlic powder), diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce to skillet with veggies.  Stir to mix well.  Stir in cheese.
    5.  Spoon 1/4 the mixture into each of the 4 Peppers.  Set on baking sheet lightly sprayed with butter cooking spray (be careful your peppers don't topple over!)  If you have extra filling, save it to eat by itself or over rice or pasta for leftovers.
    6.  Sprinkle remaining cheese on top of each Pepper.
    7.   Bake for 35 minutes.

    Serve immediately!

    For Freezing:  Wrap each individual bell pepper in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil (be sure to label/date each pepper).  Thaw in refrigerator during the day.  Once thawed, place in greased baking dish and bake at 350 for about 30-35 minutes.  They should freeze for up to 3 months.    
    Note:  I omitted onions from this recipe, although adding 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped onions (during Step 3) would be perfectly acceptable and would add more flavor.  I personally don't like onions though.  

    Tofu Bok Choy Stir-Fry

    First of all, let me say that this is another recipe that looks (ok, maybe not in MY photos) and sounds gourmet and time-consuming, but is really quick, easy, and best-of-all: healthy!  

    Bok choy (Chinese cabbage), from the Brassica familiy (including cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, turnips, etc), is used in a lot of Chinese recipes.  It's great because it's tasty, crispy, and full of nutritional value.  It's rich with antioxidants calcium, potassium, beta-carotene, and vitamin A.   Tofu, or bean curd, also has Chinese origins.  It doesn't have a lot of flavor by itself, but tastes well in flavorful dishes (like stir-fry).  Tofu is also low in calories.  Additionally, tofu offers plenty of iron, protein, and calcium and is a great alternative to meat.  There are two types of tofu: silken and regular.  Both types come in soft, medium, firm, and extra firm.  Be sure to use regular in firm or extra-firm for stir-fries.

    I actually ate the Crispy Tofu at Zengo  in Washington DC a few weeks ago (delicious), which inspired me to come up with a tasty Tofu Stir-fry recipe of my own.  

    1 lb firm or extra-firm regular Tofu
    2 Tbsp. Canola Oil
    1 Red bell pepper, cut into strips
    2 Cloves Garlic, minced (or 
    1.5 Tsp. Ginger
    1 lb Baby Bok Choy, stalk/stem cut into pieces, large leaves cut in half, small leaves left as is (see photo below)
    1/4 cup water
    1 Tbsp. low-sodium Soy sauce
    1/2 Tsp.  Crushed Red Pepper
    1 Tbsp. Sesame Seeds
    1 Tbsp. Cilantro

    1. Drain the tofu and blot with paper towels to dry.  Cut the tofu into pieces, about 1/2" thick and 1" long. 
    2.  Heat 1 Tbsp. of oil on medium-high heat in Wok (or large skillet).  Add the tofu and stir-fry until light gold.  Set aside on paper towels.
    3.  Add remaining oil to wok.  Toss in Red pepper, stir for 4 minutes.  Add Garlic, Ginger, Baby bok choy stalk/stem pieces.  Stir-fry about 1-2 minutes.  Add the leaves.  Stir fry another 1-2 minutes.
    4.  Pour the water into the wok.  Stir until the water evaporates.  Add in the golden tofu, Soy sauce, crushed red pepper and stir for 1-2 minutes.
    5.  Remove from heat.  Sprinkle cilantro and sesame seeds on top of dish and serve immediately!

    Optional:  Pair with 1/2 cup white sticky rice, brown rice, or Chinese noodles if you'd like more substance.  

    Note:  You are correct (if you noticed).  The photos don't include my sprinkling of cilantro and sesame seeds!  Oops--I'm human.  When I make it again, I'll take new photos. 

    Sunday, April 11, 2010

    Parmesan Tilapia with Summer Squash & Zucchini Risotto

    Tilapia is one of my favorite fish to eat.  It is low in fat, sodium, calories, and carbohydrates and high in lean protein.  It doesn't have a strong "fishy" taste, is a short-lived sustainable fish (good for environment and our fish population) and because it's short-lived you know it also has low levels of mercury (good for your health).   

    Risotto is a delicious Italian rice dish that gets its creamy consistency from the way it's prepared.  The starch from the rice releases during cooking allowing the rice to bind with the other rice and absorb the broth simultaneously.  The result:  creamy yumminess.  Meats and vegetables can be mixed in and it can be a meal by itself, or served as a side dish (as it is here).  There are 3 main rice varieties you can use: Arborio, Vialone Nano, or Carnaroli.  I personally use Arborio (in any grocery store in the rice/grains section).  

    Parmesan Tilapia


    • 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
    • 2 tsp. Paprika
    • 1 Tbs. Parsley
    • 4 Tilapia fillets
    • 1 Lemon, quartered (or in eighths)
    • Dash Pepper
    • 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

      1.  Preheat the oven to 400º.

      2.  Combine the Parmesan Cheese
      , paprika, parsley, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish.

      3.  Place the Tilapia on a foil-lined baking sheet lightly sprayed with cooking spray.

      4.  Brush Oil on the Tilapia (recommend silicone basting brush over bristle brush).

      5.  Spoon Cheese mixture on fish. 

      6.  Start the Risotto (below) before doing Step 7.

      7.  Bake 10-12 minutes or until the fish is opaque or flakes easily with a fork.   Once you place in Oven, immediately go to Step 5 of the Risotto.

      8.  Garnish with lemon wedges.
        Summer Squash and Zucchini Risotto

        • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
        • 1 Medium Zucchini, cut up into small cubes/pieces
        • 1 Medium Yellow Summer Squash, cut up into small cubes/pieces
        • 1 cup Arborio, Vialone Nano, or Carnaroli rice (again, I use Arborio, but any of the 3 are fine) 3 cups heated sodium free vegetable or chicken broth (I'm a fan of Herb-Ox in Chicken flavor--sodium free is important for heart health)
        • 1/4 Lemon (or 1 Tbsp. lemon juice)
        • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
        1.  Heat 1 Tbsp oil in skillet over medium heat until hot.  Add summer squash and zucchini, stirring for 5 minutes.  Place in bowl and set aside.

        2.  Heat 1 Tbsp oil in skillet over medium heat until hot.  Add rice; Cook and stir for about 3 minutes.
        3.  Pour 1 cup broth in skillet.  Turn heat to medium-low.  Cook and stir until rice has absorbed the broth.  

        4.  Go back to Step 7 on Tilapia.

        5.   Repeat Step 3, pouring 1 cup of broth at at time, cooking and stirring until the rice absorbs all the liquid   before adding the next cup of broth. 

        6.  Remove from heat.  Stir in Summer Squash, Zucchini, Parmesan cheese and lemon juice. 

          Serve immediately and Enjoy!  
          Pair with a light to medium-bodied white wine.  For a healthy dessert, try a plate of fresh pineapple and strawberries.

          For choosing other environmentally-safe seafood, download your region-specific seafood pocket guide here.

          Saturday, April 10, 2010

          Asparagus Stuffed Chicken

          Three things make Asparagus Stuffed Chicken really awesome: 1) It looks and tastes like an elegant, impressive gourmet meal; 2) It's really quick and easy to make; and 3) It's healthy!

          (4 servings)

          • 4 Chicken Breasts (recommend organic)
          • 20 Asparagus Spears (with hard ends snapped or cut off)
          • 1/4 cup Butter, melted
          • 1/4 cup Dijon Mustard
          • 2 Garlic Cloves, chopped (or 1 Tbsp. minced garlic)
          • 1/4 cup Dry White Wine

          • 1/4 cup Bread Crumbs (crushed crackers also works)
          • 2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese
          • 1/2 tsp. Parsley (dried)

          1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
          2) Flatten chicken to 1/4" thickness.
          3) Coat a baking sheet with butter-flavored cooking spray.
          4) Combine the butter, Dijon mustard, garlic, and wine in a bowl. Dip the chicken breasts into the mixture and place on baking sheet.
          5) Place 5 asparagus spears on each chicken breast. Fold the chicken breast over the asparagus and secure with a toothpick. Turn the chicken seam-side down.
          6) Mix the bread crumbs (or crackers), Parmesan cheese, and Parsley.
          7) Sprinkle 1/4 of the breadcrumb mixture onto each chicken breast (see photo).

          8) Bake for 30 minutes.
          9) Remove toothpick and serve with a whole-grain pasta, brown rice, or a green salad.
          Pair with a light Sauvignon Blanc or my personal go-to for most chicken or fish entrees--a dry Chardonnay.