Here are a number of ideas of how to get a meal on the table in minutes using a hot and ready rotisserie chicken from your market’s deli.
BARBECUE CHICKEN PIZZA
Serves 4 to 5.
- Take ready-made pizza dough (something like Boboli) and place on a baking sheet.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Shred white and dark meat off the bones of a 1 to 1 1/2 pound rotisserie chicken from the deli.
- Mix the chicken with your favorite barbecue sauce.
- Evenly distribute chicken over pizza dough.
- Top with 8 ounces of smoked Gouda cheese.
- Bake in oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until cheese starts to brown.
- Caramelize one onion in a frying pan over medium heat with a little oil.
- When pizza is ready, distribute onion evenly over service and serve
CHICKEN LETTUCE CUPS
Serves 4 to 6.
Dipping Sauce – Mix the following together in a small pot over medium-low heat: 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil, 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated ginger. Heat until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside.
Chicken and Extras - Shred white and dark meat from a 1 to 1 1/2 pound ready-to-eat rotisserie chicken. 1 cup sliced water chestnuts, 1 cup sliced mushrooms, 1/2 cup shredded carrots, large iceberg lettuce leaves
Stir-fry Sauce - 2 tablespoons peanut oil, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated ginger, 1/4 teaspoon crushed garlic, 1 teaspoon cornstarch, 1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce
- Prepare dipping sauce
- Remove chicken from the bone
- In a frying pan over medium-high heat, combine the Stir-fry Sauce ingredients. Add the chicken, water chestnuts, mushrooms, and carrots. Stir until the sauce has thickened.
- Remove from heat.
- Lay out about 6-8 large iceberg lettuce leaves on a tray.
- Evenly distribute the chicken and vegetable mixture in the center of each lettuce leaf.
- Serve with Dipping Sauce.
Serves 4 to 6
1 to 1 1/2 pound ready-to-eat rotisserie chicken – shred meat off of bone
1 cup salsa
6-8 – 8″ flour tortillas
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes – sliced in half
- 2 cups shredded cabbage
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoon canola oil
- Make the slaw by combining all the ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.
- Toss the chicken pieces with the salsa
- Lay the tortillas on a counter. Evenly distribute the chicken mixture in the center of the tortillas.
- Top with the slaw and tomatoes.
- Wrap tightly. Serve with lime wedges.
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Do you shun butter because of all the bad press it has received? If you use butter, you’re made to feel guilty for ingesting all the saturated fat it contains. You would think, for the way some people talk, that one pat of butter will lead directly to a heart attack. The queen of butter and noted chef, author, and television personality, Julia Child, couldn’t imagine cooking without butter. And, by the way, she lived to be 92 years old. Sure, she probably had a good set of genes but even so, she ate butter to the very end.
As a dietitian, I do encourage people to watch the amount of saturated fat they eat. Too much can lead to heart disease. But, as you see on the Spin-a-Recipe slot machine (www.spinarecipe.com), butter is used in some of the recipes. And for good reason. Butter imparts a rich, creamy mouth feel and a flavor that can’t be compared to any other fat.
So, be smart. Use butter where it really counts, where its flavor makes a major difference. For example, I love the flavor butter lends to an omelet. It makes sense since the butter coats the outside of the omelet and that’s the first thing my taste buds encounter. On the other hand, when I’m making a sauce where I first need to create a roux (mixture of fat and flour as a thickener for the sauce), I often use margarine. Since many other flavors will be added to the sauce, my taste buds won’t be as sensitive to the flavor of the fat.
Reduction sauces are a great way of bringing flavor to a dish. You literally are concentrating the flavors. Reduction sauces don’t have to start out with any fat at all. However, I do use butter at the end of the process (it doesn’t require much) because not only does it add flavor, but it also works as a slight thickening agent and adds a beautiful sheen.
It comes down to choosing when it’s most appropriate to use butter. Of course, it you really love the taste of butter and can’t imagine having your toast spread with anything else, just find other sources of saturated fat to eliminate. It’s not like you shouldn’t eat any saturated fat. Just limit it.
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Colorful, tasty, and nutritious. What more could you ask of a dish? I had some butternut squash left over from another dish and had some ground turkey meatballs in the freezer. I brought them together with a lemon parsley pesto.
This dish was creativity at its best. It’s how many of my recipes come together. I have a starting point – in this case, the butternut squash. What should I do with it? What flavor would complement it? With the subtle sweetness of the squash, I knew that something slightly acidic would be a good balance. So, the idea of a pesto was forming in my mind.
While most people associate pesto with basil, I didn’t want my pesto to overwhelm the squash. By using Italian parsley, I got a fresh herb flavor that complemented the squash. With it being the season for Meyer lemons (they’re a cross between lemons and tangerines so are slightly sweeter than regular lemons), I paired that with the parsley.
Lastly, I thought about the meatballs I had in the freezer. I often will put my vegetable and meat together when including a sauce so both foods can benefit from the flavor. The pesto worked beautifully with the meatballs.
I personally love to cook without a recipe. I prefer to have a concept and then be free to flavor as my taste buds demand. If you’d like to make this dish, here are some general guidelines:
Take one butternut squash and peel it. Cut into cubes. Cook either in the microwave oven or in simmering water. Drain and season with a little salt and some margarine.
Make meatballs with about 1 1/2 pounds of ground turkey, 1 egg, 1/3 cup panko crumbs, and about 1/3 cup lowfat milk. Season with about 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt and a pinch of pepper. Brown in a frying pan over medium-high heat with a little olive oil.
For the pesto, in a food processor place about 3 cups of fresh Italian parsley, 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic, 1/2 cup chopped pecans, zest of one lemon and the juice of 1 to 1 1/2 lemons. Drizzle about 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in the processor. Process until fairly smooth.
Serve as shown in the picture, making a bed of squash, topped with meatballs and then a spoonful of pesto.
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Nuts are a powerhouse of a snack. They provide protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals. Satisfying and flavorful, almost everyone enjoys including nuts in their diet. With all of the news in the media about the benefits of nuts, many people wonder “which nuts are best and why.”
Here are the facts. Different nuts have different nutrition benefits, however nuts are associated with:
- Improved cardiovascular health, because of the high monounsaturated fatty acids
- Good nutrient density—the calories they provide are healthful and useful to the body
- Taste and textures that are satisfying
- High levels of vitamin E and phytonutrients
More research exists on some nuts than others. The carbohydrate, protein, and fat ratio differs slightly among the different nuts, so eating a variety is possibly the best way to reap all of the benefits that they offer!
Scientific evidence supports the role of almonds in cardiac health, specifically cholesterol-lowering properties when almonds are consumed in a diet that is low in saturated fats and cholesterol.
Other facts about almonds:
- 1 ounce (oz)/23 almonds/handful: 160 calories, 14 gram (g) fat (1 g saturated, 3.5 g polyunsaturated, 9 g monounsaturated), 6 g carbohydrate, 6 g protein, 4 g fiber
- Antioxidant power of vitamin E—rich in alpha-tocopherol, which is the form of vitamin E that the body absorbs most readily
- Add almonds to side dishes, cereals, and salads
- Eat them with fruit as a snack
- Try almond butter and jelly sandwiches
- Substitute almond flour when baking
- For more information, visit http://www.almondsarein.com
Cashews have high levels of essential minerals—iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and manganese.
Other facts about cashews:
- 1 oz: 160 calories, 13 g fat, (3 g saturated, 2 g polyunsaturated, 8 g monounsaturated) 9 g carbohydrate, 4 g protein, 1 g fiber
- High levels of magnesium are touted for heart, bone, and muscle health
- Good source of monounsaturated fatty acids
- Add to entrées, side dishes, and desserts or eat them plain
- Store in a cool, dry place in an airtight container
- For more information, visit http://www.organiccashewnuts.com/
Hazelnuts are a powerful source of vitamin E and phytonutrients and are associated with building a strong immune system.
Other facts about hazelnuts:
- 1 oz: 180 calories, 17 g fat, (1.5 g saturated, 2 g polyunsaturated, 13 g monounsaturated) 5 g carbohydrate, 3 g protein, 3 g fiber
- For more information, visit http://www.hazelnut.com/
Peanuts are classified botanically as legumes rather than tree nuts, because they grow underground.
Facts about peanuts:
- 1 oz: 161 calories, 14 g fat (1.9 g saturated, 4.4 g polyunsaturated, 6.9 g monounsaturated), 4.6 g carbohydrate, 7.3 g protein, 2.4 g fiber
- Highest protein content of any nut, especially satisfying and beneficial for children, vegetarians, and those with higher protein needs
- Rich in essential minerals, such as magnesium, copper, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc
- Rich in B vitamins and phytonutrients
- For more information, visit http://www.peanut-institute.org/
Pecans are touted for their antioxidant properties and cardiovascular benefits.
Other facts about pecans:
- 1 oz/20 halves: 200 calories, 20 g fat (2 g saturated, 6 g polyunsaturated, 12 g monounsaturated), 4 g carbohydrate, 3 g protein, 3 g fiber
- Add to cereals, breads, side dishes, and desserts or eat them plain
- For more information, visit http://www.ilovepecans.org/nutrition.html#antioxidants
Walnuts are a great source of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid, and are associated with healthful weight loss.
Other facts about walnuts:
- 1 oz/14 halves: 190 calories, 18.0 g fat (1.5 g saturated, 13 g polyunsaturated, 2.5 g monounsaturated), 4 g carbohydrate, 4 g protein, 2 g fiber
- The highest nut ranking on the Index of Nutritional Quality
- Sweet or savory, enhancing almost any meal or snack
- For more information, visit http://www.walnuts.org/walnuts/
References and recommended readings
International Tree Nut Council, Nutrition Research & Education Foundation. Nutrition research. Available at: http://www.nuthealth.org/nutrition-research/.
The Peanut Institute. Eat well, eat peanuts. Available at: http://www.peanut-institute.org/.
At Thanksgiving time, I make a big turkey and a lot of stuffing. Then I package each in dinner-sized portions so I can have it all year round. I found a great way to make my stuffing even more interesting. I made it into a waffle. With my stuffing containing wild rice, water chestnuts, and dates, cooking it as a waffle upped the flavor quotient. I put some slices of turkey on top and a spoonful of cranberry sauce.
If you want to try it, add an egg and a little bit of milk to about 3 cups of stuffing. The egg and milk help hold the stuffing together. Then I smooshed (very culinary term :> !) it into an oiled waffle iron and cooked it until it was golden and a bit crispy. This is what I got, which was mighty delicious.
I served it with creamed spinach but any green vegetable would do. I’m already thinking of other topping possibilities. Got any you would like to share?
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What’s your favorite herb? Be it rosemary, thyme, oregano or basil, you can make an herbal olive oil that makes any dish more special. You can use either fresh herbs or dried.
When using fresh herbs, wash and thoroughly dry about 6 sprigs of your chosen herb. If using dried, 1 tablespoon should do. You’ll need about 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil. Warm the olive oil over low heat in a saucepan. Place your herb in a jar and cover with the oil. Let it cool and then cover the jar.
If you’re using fresh herbs, refrigerate the oil and use within two weeks. If using dried herbs, the oil can be stored in a dark, cool place for up to two months. If you give the oil made with dried herbs about a week before using, you’ll enjoy richer flavor.
Drizzle your oil over pasta, salads, and vegetables. It’s great used as a dipping sauce for warm bread, along with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
With the holidays coming, it would make for a great gift. Consider putting together a basket with some crusty bread, pasta and your herbal olive oil.
Tags: herbal olive oil
Is there a color left for a packet of sweetener if and when a new one is developed? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the following is the packet color lineup for sugar and no-calorie sweeteners:
Brown: Sugar in the Raw®
Pink: Sweet ‘N Low®
Green: Truvia®, PureVia®
Apricot: Splenda® Nectresse™
What Are They Made From?
Some artificial or no-calorie sweeteners were discovered by accident. Sweet ‘N Low® , for example, is made of saccharin, a chemical discovered in a lab that had been working on producing coal tar, a substance used in pavement sealants. Why the chemist working on this product was licking his fingers, finding out that the substance was sweet, is beyond me.
The basic ingredient in classic Equal® is aspartame, which is a combination of aspartic acid and phenylalanine. This, too, was found by accident by a chemist who was working on an anti-ulcer drug. Why he decided to taste it is a wonder. But if he hadn’t, we wouldn’t have aspartame. By the way, people who have the genetic condition called phenylketonuria (PKU) must avoid aspartame. Their bodies can’t break it down. Maybe it’s in the nature of scientists to taste things. We wouldn’t have known that diabetes causes increased sugar in the urine if a physician hadn’t decided to sample it.
Splenda® is made of sucralose, a no-calorie sweetener produced by selective chlorination of table sugar (sucrose). In so doing, the chemistry is changed just enough that the body doesn’t know how to absorb it and therefore, it’s eliminated from the body.
Truvia® and PureVia® are made from the stevia plant. While natural, it does goes through some chemical manipulation to extract only a certain part of the plant.
Nectresse™ is probably the most natural of the no-calorie sweeteners, using an extract of the monk fruit. Being so new, it will be some time before the jury comes in on a verdict for or against it.
By the way, when did we go from calling these “artificial” sweeteners to “no-calorie” sweeteners? I suppose the sugar industry changed the name when they started using natural ingredients even though they were changing the chemistry of the original substance. Besides, “no-calorie” is much more marketable than “artificial”.
None of these sweeteners consist of just the one ingredient for sweetness. They each contain something more, either to enhance or balance the sweetener or give some bulk to the product. Some add dextrose, a form of glucose, which adds some sweetness or balance to the product and bulk. Some add erythritol, a sugar alcohol. It, too, adds sweetness. But in order to make these sweeteners no-calorie, the manufacturers use such things as sucralose or aspartame to give the taste without the calories.
Sweetness Level of No-Calorie Sweeteners
There you are sitting in a coffee shop with the colors of the rainbow in the sweetener container on the table. Which to choose? You could go with good old sugar, the plain white stuff, or get a little extra flavor by going with Sugar in the Raw® that has a little residual molasses left after the processing. (That’s why it’s slightly brown in color.)
However, you’ve decided that to avoid the calories, you’ll go with a no-calorie sweetener. So, will it be the pink, blue, yellow, green, or apricot (the new kid on the block) packet? For me, it comes down to flavor and too many of them have an aftertaste that makes me look for something else to use as a chaser to improve the taste in my mouth after using them (totally counterproductive). Some of them have a metallic taste, while others are bitter.
And why are all of the no-calorie sweeteners made to be so much sweeter than sugar? All we’re doing is training our taste buds to like sweeter and sweeter foods. While we should be looking to fruits as our sweet offerings, they pale by comparison to anything sweetened with no-calorie sweeteners. Just look at the sweetness level of the no-calorie sweeteners compared to table sugar:
Sweet ‘N Low® – 300 times sweeter
Equal® – 200 times sweeter
Splenda® – 600 times sweeter
Truvia®, PureVia® – 200 to 300 times sweeter
Nectresse™ – 150 times sweeter
Cooking With No-Calorie Sweeteners
Sucralose is heat-stable, which means it can be used in cooked products. However, as compared to sugar (sucrose) that will melt at high temperatures, sucralose maintains its granular texture. So don’t think about browning sucralose on the top of your crème brûlée.
For the longest time, Equal® reigned supreme in the no-calorie sweetener market if being used in cold foods such as beverages, puddings, ice cream, etc. There was talk for a long time of trying to encapsulate the crystals to make the product a viable alternative for cooked products. Instead, Equal® settled on sucralose, the same ingredient found in Splenda®. Equal® was losing too much market share to Splenda® and so had to come up with their own version.
Saccharin can be used in cooking, as well. I can remember when I was young, my mother wanted to cut down on the amount of sugar she put in rhubarb. So she used saccharin instead. It was the only no-calorie sweetener available at the time. For me, saccharin is one of those no-calorie sweeteners that has a very distinct metallic flavor. With rhubarb being as acidic and tart as it is, adding saccharin ended any love affair I might have had with rhubarb.
Obviously, everyone’s taste buds are different. What I might find distasteful, you might enjoy. There will continue to be debates about the safety of these products. We’d like to believe that when the FDA has finally given its approval on a food, it’s safe. Some people are more sensitive than others to the manipulation that occurs in these products.
Maybe just training your taste buds to enjoy a lower level of sweetness may help you avoid these altogether. Using one teaspoon of sugar in your coffee will cost you only 16 calories. That’s not much in a 2000-calorie diet. However, if you want it sweeter, a tablespoon of sugar will set you back almost 50 calories and then, maybe a no-calorie sweetener would be right for you. I appreciate that if you have diabetes, having no-calorie sweetener options is a necessity if you want to sweeten foods that won’t cause a spike in your insulin response.
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I know this doesn’t have to do with cooking, but it touched my heart and I thought maybe it would touch yours, as well. Just get out the Kleenex.
A farmer had some puppies he needed to sell. He painted a sign advertising the 4 pups and set about nailing it to a post on the edge of his yard.As he was driving the last nail into the post, he felt a tug on his overalls.
He looked down into the eyes of a little boy.
“Mister,” he said, “I want to buy one of your puppies.”
“Well,” said the farmer, as he rubbed the sweat off the back of his neck, “These puppies come
from fine parents and cost a good deal of money.”
The boy dropped his head for moment.Then reaching deep into his pocket, he pulled out a handful of change and held it up to the farmer.
“I’ve got thirty-nine cents. Is that enough to take a look?”
“Sure,” said the farmer. And with that he let out a whistle. “Here, Dolly!” he called.
Out from the doghouse and down the ramp ran Dolly followed by four little balls of fur.
The little boy pressed his face against the chain link fence. His eyes danced with delight. As the dogs made their way to the fence, the little boy noticed something else stirring inside the doghouse.
Slowly another little ball appeared, this one noticeably smaller. Down the ramp it slid. Then in a somewhat awkward manner, the little pup began hobbling toward the others, doing its best to catch up…
“I want that one,” the little boy said, pointing to the runt. The farmer knelt down at the boy’s side and said, “Son, you don’t want that puppy. He will never be able to run and play with you like these other dogs would.”
With that the little boy stepped back from the fence, reached down, and began rolling up one leg of his trousers.
In doing so he revealed a steel brace running down both sides of his leg attaching itself to a specially made shoe.
Looking back up at the farmer, he said, “You see sir, I don’t run too well myself, and he will need someone who understands.”
With tears in his eyes, the farmer reached down and picked up the little pup.
Holding it carefully he handed it to the little boy.
“How much?” asked the little boy… “No charge,” answered the farmer, “There’s no charge for love.”
The world is full of people who need someone who understands.
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We’ve been busy at Spin-a-Recipe, getting even more recipes on the slot machine for you to play. You know how frustrating it can be to decide what to cook. We’ve got the answer for you, a way that helps you decide and have fun at the same time.
See how easy it is to play the ultimate recipe decision-maker:
Because you can spin for different ingredients, you can make dozens of recipes from just one recipe. Visit www.spinarecipe.com and give it a try.
The reason to join Spin-a-Recipe is so you can have your own personal recipe box to save your recipes to. Without it, there’s no guarantee that you’ll end up with the same recipe to spin for more variations. Besides, as a member you get to see all the recipes not just what the demo slot machine has.
Many food programs on television are strictly for entertainment. Are you running out and buying truffles or caviar? Not likely. Most of us struggle to keep our grocery bills within some sort of budget. That’s not easy. We health professionals are constantly harping on eating more fruits and vegetables. With the price of produce today, bananas may be all you can afford. Last week at the market I paid $0.89 per pound. But apples were upwards of $1.99 per pound. Bulk carrots are priced reasonably but it can be a stretch to buy green beans.
So, I’ve got some ideas for you that will hopefully help you stretch your food dollars.
1. Write out a grocery list. I know as well as you that when I go to the market without a list, a lot of stuff ends up in the cart that I didn’t plan for. That’s not to say that I don’t mind occasionally browsing the aisles to find some interesting new products. But it’s that that gets us into trouble.
2. Go grocery shopping on a full stomach. Everything in the store looks appealing on an empty stomach. That’s when you’ll see a lot of snack foods ending up the cart or processed foods that you figure you can quickly heat up when you get home. And what about all those samples in the store? The hungrier you are, the more likely you are to try them. I’m curious. How many times have you tried an in-store sample because you really were considering buying it?
3. Cut out coupons. Coupons are great only if you use them for food you were going to buy anyway. If so, shape your week’s menus around the coupons to save some extra bucks.
4. Don’t forget frozen vegetables. In most cases, frozen vegetables are less expensive than fresh (unless there is a promotion being run by your market). Frozen vegetables are every bit as healthy as fresh, sometimes even fresher because they are flash-frozen right when they’re picked. Frozen vegetables also make cooking a meal quicker since you don’t have to prep them first.
5. Shop at farmers’ markets. Shopping at farmers’ markets just make a lot of sense. You’re getting much fresher produce, often at much lower prices than you’d get at the supermarket. You’re also helping out your local farmer and economy.
6. Cook filling meals. A filling meal often consists of rice and beans. Beans are full of fiber, which helps fill you up and stay fuller longer. Cooking dried beans is even cheaper than buying canned beans. Just leave yourself the prep time to soak the beans, throw off their water, and then cook. Try a pressure cooker for really quick cooking of beans.
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