Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Crawfish and White Bean Chili

In Louisiana, Lent = beginning of crawfish season. And while I haven't been to a crawfish boil yet, I did make this chili, and its really good!

The original recipe called for stirring a cup of cheese and a cup of sour cream into the soup...of course I left it out and by doing so saved 932 calories, 84 grams of fat, and 50 grams of saturated fat. Instead, serve reduced fat cheese and light sour cream as an optional topping (I like using plain Greek yogurt in place of sour cream).

I doubled the amount of vegetables by adding green bell peppers when I sauteed the onions. This is a trick I use whenever I can. The more veggies in a recipe, the fewer calories per bite.

I used dried white beans that I soaked overnight, but I'm sure cans of beans would work just as well (and it would take less time). One pound of dried beans is roughly equivalent to 3 15oz cans.

Crawfish White Bean Chili
adapted from a recipe from Mel

Makes 12 1-cup servings

1 lb large white beans, soaked overnight in water, drained
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups water, divided
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 green bell peppers, chopped (4 cups)
2 medium onions, chopped (4 cups)
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
6 - 8 cloves garlic, minced
2 4-ounce cans chopped green chilies
2 tsp ground cumin
1 ½ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 ½ pounds crawfish tails (I used two 12 oz frozen packs from the store...thawed, drained, and squeezed to remove excess liquid)
For serving: shredded cheese, light sour cream, green onions, cilantro, salsa

Combine soaked/drained beans, chicken broth, and 2 cups of water in a large soup pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until beans are very soft, 2 - 3 hours. Add additional water, if necessary (you want to keep the beans covered with liquid).

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell pepper, season with salt and pepper; cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add garlic, chilies, and spices/herbs and mix thoroughly.

Add onion mixture to the beans. Add crawfish and continue to simmer for 30 minutes. Taste and reseason with salt and pepper if necessary.

If desired, serve topped with grated cheese (reduced fat), sour cream (light or non-fat Greek yogurt), green onions, cilantro, or salsa...a few crushed tortilla chips would be good too!

Per 1-cup serving (without any toppings) - 241 calories, 3 g fat (1 g saturated), 33 g carbohydrates, 12 g fiber, 22 g protein (exchanges: ½ fat, 2 ½ protein, 1 ½ starch, 1 vegetable)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Come on April 4th

I feel like it's tax season and I'm an in-demand CPA...except for me it's dance team audition season and I'm an in-demand dance teacher/choreographer. I have been so busy this month...between teaching private dance lessons, workshops, and my regular classes and choreographing Golden Girl audition solos, I have not had much time to blog! Not a single post since March 6th! I have been cooking some, however, and have lots of pictures...just no typed-up and analyzed recipes - I promise they are on their way. GG auditions are April 4th...I can't wait (I'm sure CPAs feel the same about April 15th!).

I was an LSU Golden Girl for 5 years, 3 of which I was the captain and choreographer...I guess that makes me an "expert". To audition for the line, you have to bring solo dance routine (about 1 1/2 minutes long) to perform for the judges...in a 2 piece outfit. So you have to be a good dancer with a good solo (I can help with that) and you have to be in shape (hey! I can help with that too...I am a dietitian after all).

Whenever I start working with one of the girls who plans to audition, we discuss an appropriate weight for their height and body type. I get them to keep a food journal for me so that I can get an idea of how they eat. It seems that the closer it gets to the audition date, the less and less they eat...not a good idea! The other thing that I see a lot is an unbalanced distribution of calories between carbohydrates, fat, and protein. For example:

Day 1:

Breakfast - Fiber One caramel delight cereal with 1% milk and a banana
Lunch/snack - Apple and Fiber One snack bar
Dinner - Grilled chicken Caesar wrap and cantaloupe/pineapple cup; kiwi strawberry vitamin water

approximately 1200 calories - 62% carbohydrates, 21% fat, and 17% protein

Day 2:

Breakfast - Special K vanilla almond with a banana and pear
Snack - Strawberries and cantaloupe/pineapple cup
Dinner - Grilled chicken salad with cucumbers and fat free Italian caesar vinaigrette dressing

approximately 800 calories - 65% carbohydrates, 15% fat, 20% protein

My thoughts - not enough protein or fat...So many people think that fat makes them fat and avoid it all together...but it doesn't, unless you have too much (as will carbs and protein...if you eat too much). The body needs fat!

And as far as protein goes, I try to have some with every meal...for breakfast milk/yogurt; for lunch and dinner turkey/chicken/cheese/beans/eggs/seafood/meat; and for snack yogurt (sometimes I just have fruit, but I hardly every have starchy snacks like granola bars or crackers).

A better day:

Breakfast (336 calories) - 1 cup Kashi GoLean, 1 med banana, 1 cup skim milk; water
Lunch (390 calories) - Turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with provolone cheese, mustard, lettuce; grapes; water
Snack (150 calories) - Lowfat yogurt (without artificial sweetener)
Dinner (358 calories) - Grilled chicken (3 oz) salad with light sesame dressing, red bell pepper, green onions, mandarin oranges, shredded carrot, toasted almonds (2 tbsp); water

approximately 1200 calories - 51% carbohydrates, 21% fat, 28% protein - 25 g fiber and nearly 1000 mg calcium


Here is an article on losing weight...what to do and what not to do.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Falafel (Salad) with Tahini Dressing

Falafel is a fried ball or patty made from chickpeas and is popular in the Middle East. It is typically served wrapped in some sort of flat bread, such as pita. It can be drizzled with a tahini-based sauce. I've never had it before, but have always thought that is sounded like something I would like.

And you know me...I turn everything into a salad (or at least serve it with one)! So I cooked my falafel in just a tiny bit of oil (I have never deep fried anything in my life...I'll leave that to the experts!). I made a really easy tahini dressing and served the whole thing over a salad composed of butter lettuce, sun-dried tomatoes, red bell pepper, green onions, and chopped cilantro.

It's always a good idea to have a meatless meal. The falafel provides a good source of protein and fiber. The dressing adds a serving of healthy unsaturated fats. And I don't have to tell you why the veggies in the salad are good for you!

If you like chickpeas (or hummus) you should give this a try.

Falafel (Salad) with Tahini Dressing
adapted from Eat Real and Tyler Florence

Makes 4 servings

2 slices of whole wheat bread, torn into large pieces
2 cloves garlic, quartered
1 large handful fresh cilantro, coarsely torn or chopped
2 green onions (scallions), trimmed and chopped into thirds
1 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
a pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 teaspoons olive oil, divided

Place bread pieces in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground. Add garlic, cilantro, scallions, chickpeas, baking powder, and seasonings; pulse a few times to blend ingredients. The mixture should be coarsely ground and not entirely smooth.

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon lemon juice over chickpea mixture and pulse a few more times. Add the additional tablespoon of juice, if needed, so that the chickpea mixture reaches a workable paste-like consistency.

Using a large tablespoon or an ice cream scoop, scoop balls of dough into your palms and form them into 8 patties.

At this point you have 2 options...bake or saute (I sauteed).

1) Baked - Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. While the oven is getting hot, line a baking pan with foil and brush with olive oil. Arrange falafel patties on oiled baking sheet and brush them with olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees F for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and crispy. Turn once midway through baking.

2) Sauteed - Working in batches if necessary, heat olive oil in a large (non-stick works well) skillet over medium-high heat. Add falafel patties and cook 3 - 5 minute per side until browned.

Per serving (2 patties each) - 213 calories, 7 g fat (1 g saturated), 32 g carbohydrate, 6 g fiber, 8 g protein (exchanges: 1 ½ fat, 2 starches)

Tahini Dressing

Makes a little more than 1/2 of a cup (about 5 2-tablespoon servings)

¼ cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
¼ cup warm water
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
juice of 1 lemon
good pinch of salt
black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine (the warm water should help loosen up the tahini...if it's still thick put the entire mixture in the microwave for 10 second intervals, stirring in between...make sure you are using a microwave safe container!).

Per serving (2 tablespoons) - 74 calories, 6 g fat (1 g saturated), 3 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 2 g protein (exchanges: 1 fat, plus a little protein)


Just in case you DO need me to remind you why vegetables are good for you read this. Along with why they are good for you, it ranks all veggie according to their nutritional profile...is it a surprise to you that kale is #1 and spinach is #2? How many of the "superstars" do you eat on a weekly basis?

Update on Me

Now that I've been back in Baton Rouge for about 9 months, I get the question all of the time, "So what are you doing these days?" When I was in Houston everyone knew I was dancing, teaching dance, and working as a dietitian (or "nutrition coach") at LifeTime Fitness.

"Well...lots of things!" I tell them. I am teaching at Tari's School of Dance, which keeps me REALLY busy (and I love it and wouldn't trade it for the world). In the fall, I choreograph for the Saintsations, the Saints' NFL dance team. I manage this blog. And now I'm in the process of starting my own business. "Deliciously Golden" is going corporate (well maybe one day!). I hope you have noticed the new logo that I had designed. I love it and want to thank Hannah of Sherbet Blossom Designs for all of her creativity!

Since I've been back in Louisiana, I've been working with several high school and college ages girls on weight management issues. I love this age group because they are so impressionable...the girls don't have many hard-set, preconceived ideas about food...they are mostly just confused and very willing to learn. And I think this is where it all starts - teach young girls how to eat and cook healthfully, and they will in turn pass it on the the next generation.

One of the things I do with the girls is cook with them at their homes (and sometimes at mine). It gives them a little confidence in the kitchen and helps build a healthy food relationship. What do we prepare? Lots of things: oven-fried chicken tenders with sauteed tomatoes and a side salad, chicken enchiladas, butter pecan ice cream, baked chicken with wild rice salad and roasted squash, and KING CAKE!

Last week, because it was Mardi Gras, I made a king cake with one of the girls. As you can see, I don't only cook "healthy" things with the girls, because I feel that having a "special treat" is part of eating healthfully. I follow this same philosophy myself...95% of the time I eat foods that are good for my body, but the other 5% I relax and enjoy a special treat or two.

The king cake was chocolate chip pecan and let me tell you, it was AMAZING!