High on flavor, low on calories: Cookbook offers tasty options for people trying to eat healthier
One recipe at a time, Sara Wells and Kate Jones are chopping up the myth that tasty foods have to be unhealthy and good-for-you foods have to be bland and unsatisfying. The women behind the popular “Our Best Bites” blog have released their first low-calorie cookbook, “400 Calories or Less with Our Best Bites.”
The book contains more than 65 flavorful, low-calorie recipes, including low-carb and gluten-free options. It’s filled with meat and meatless dishes, anytime breakfasts, soups, salads, pastas, snacks and even desserts.
“This book isn’t about hiding vegetables or tricking your taste buds into thinking black beans are brownies,” the pair wrote in the book’s introduction. “This is the real deal – tried and true food your family will eat, food you’ll want to eat, whether you’re actively trying to lose weight or if you’re just making smart choice.”
With meals like Grilled Chicken Caprese, Hawaiian Sloppy Joes and Halibut au Gratin, 400 calories never looked so good.
Makes 12 servings
Casseroles don’t have to be heavy and fat-laden, even when cheese is involved. This “Mexican lasagna” is full of flavor and uses a lot of ingredients you probably already have in your pantry and refrigerator.
½ pound 93-percent lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 packet taco seasoning
1 (2-ounce) can sliced black olives, drained (or a handful of medium black olives, chopped)
1 (4-ounce) can roasted green chilies, undrained
1 (15.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 ½ cups corn (either frozen or a 15.5-ounce can of corn, drained)
1 cup enchilada sauce
1 (15.5-ounce) can refried or black beans (if using black beans, drain and rinse them first)
6 large (burrito-size) whole wheat tortillas, 3 of them cut in half
3 cups shredded cheddar, Colby Jack, or Pepper Jack cheese (or a combination)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown the ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat. When the beef is about halfway cooked, add onion and garlic. Cook until the beef is done and onions and garlic are tender and fragrant.
Add taco seasoning and stir to combine. Add the black olives, chilies, tomatoes, corn, enchilada sauce, and refried beans. Bring to a simmer then remove from heat.
Spread about ½ cup of the mixture onto the bottom of a 9×13-inch pan. Top with one whole tortilla and one half tortilla. Spread 1½ cups of the mixture on top of the tortillas, sprinkle with cheese, then top with another one and a half tortillas. Repeat layers of meat, tortillas and cheese until all tortillas are used.
Bake 25–30 minutes or until heated through and the cheese is melted and bubbly.
Roasted Tomato Parmesan Egg Cups
Makes 6 servings
A creamy, savory custard is nestled in a delicate roasted tomato with hints of tangy onion and savory bacon. Topped with a layer of lightly browned Parmesan, this creative dish is as beautiful as it is delicious. Bake them together in a pan, or in individual ramekins for a fun twist.
6 medium-large, on-the-vine tomatoes
6 tablespoons low-fat cottage cheese
¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¾ teaspoon garlic powder
4 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 slices bacon, cooked crisp
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Use a sharp, serrated knife to cut off the top fourth of each tomato. Use a spoon to gently scoop out the loose inner contents of tomatoes, leaving the outside flesh intact. Use a knife to carefully remove larger pieces of flesh in the middle of the tomatoes. Lay cut-side down on several layers of paper towels and set aside.
Crack eggs into a medium-sized mixing bowl and lightly whisk. Add cottage cheese. Set aside 2 tablespoons of shredded Parmesan and add the remaining amount to the egg mixture. Also add salt, pepper, garlic powder and chives. Whisk to combine.
Lightly spray a pie pan or individual ramekins with nonstick cooking spray. Gently shake any excess liquid from tomatoes and place them in pie pan or ramekin. Fill each tomato 1/4-inch from top with egg mixture, and top each with about 1 teaspoon of reserved Parmesan. Crumble bacon and divide evenly between tomatoes.
Bake 50–55 minutes, until centers are puffed and golden and tops are slightly firm to the touch, but still have some give. Let rest 5–10 minutes before serving.
Oven-Baked Cinnamon Apple Chips
Makes 2 (1/2-ounce) servings
Oven drying takes time, but it produces very little heat and is a great project for a day when you’re around the house anyway. These apple chips turn out crisp and sweet, making them the perfect snack. Instructions and nutritional information reflect just one apple, but take advantage of the space in your oven by multiplying the quantities and fitting in as many pans as possible!
1 large apple, cored
1/8 to ¼ tablespoons ground cinnamon (optional)
Slice apple in uniformly thin slices (less than 1/8-inch) and place in an even layer on baking sheet lined with either parchment or a silicone baking mat. Slices can touch each other, but try not to overlap. Fit as many apples on a sheet as you can (They shrink a lot!). If desired, sprinkle with cinnamon or gently rub cinnamon into surface of the apples.
Bake apples at 170 degrees Fahrenheit. for 7-8 hours, until dry and slightly shriveled. The edges should be curled up with a slight golden-brown hue. Without opening the oven, turn off heat. Leave oven door shut until completely cooled. Remove apples from baking sheet and store in an airtight container.
Andrea Honaker writes for The Gaston (N.C.) Gazette.