Tag Archives: healthy

Outdoor Dining: Grilled Fish Tacos

31 Jul
Grilled Fish Tacos

stock photo because I was so hungry I forgot my camera!!

I found a recipe for grilled fish tacos here and I couldn’t wait to make these for a dinner al fresco one night this summer.  Unlike most fish tacos that are battered, fried and salted, these fish tacos are grilled, lightly seasoned and very healthy.  We served these with a corn and tomato salad and margaritas (decidedly not healthy, but a great complement to the meal).  For those of you like me who HATE cilantro, you can omit it from the recipe.  However, I included a little bit because D loves it and I couldn’t taste it in the final product.  I have no idea why, but I only took a picture of the fish pre-cooking so there’s no “finished” product photo to share here.  D remembers that I was so hungry when I made these that I refused to let him take any pictures before diving in.  Lesson learned for next time around!

Grilled Fish Taco Marinade

Grilled Fish Tacos
Serves 4
Adapted from recipe found here

Ingredients
1 red onion, chopped, divided
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided (optional)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 tbsp fresh lime juice, divided
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 pound tilapia (note: you can also use striped bass, sturgeon or mahi mahi.  I prefer tilapia because it’s the flakiest and does well in a marinade)
Soft flour tortillas
1-2 avocados, diced
1-2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 small head of cabbage, cored, thinly sliced
Shredded cheese
Lime wedges
Jalapenos (optional)

Directions
1. Stir 1/2 chopped onion, 1/2 of the cilantro, lime juice, garlic and oregano in a medium bowl.  Spread half of the mixture over bottom of a glass baking dish.
2. Season fish with pepper.  (No need for salt with this lime-y marinade!)
3. Arrange fish atop onion mixture and spoon remaining mixture over fish.
4. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour (flip fish halfway through so both sides marinate evenly).
5. Using a grill pan or a grill, brush lightly with oil and turn heat to medium-high.  Grill fish with some marinade still clinging to it until just opaque in center, 3 to 5 minutes per side.
6. Coarsely chop fish and place on platter.
7. Grill tortillas (about 10 seconds per side) or warm them in the over (5 minutes at 300 degrees).
8. Serve fish with warm tortillas, remaining onion and cilantro, along with avocado, lime wedges, cheese, cabbage, tomatoes, jalapenos and any other garnishes you have in your kitchen!

Outdoor Dining: Crab Cakes with Citrus Avocado Cream, Spicy-Sweet Corn and Watermelon Salad

21 May

Crab Cakes with Citrus Avocado Cream and Spicy-Sweet Corn

Once spring/summer arrives bringing with them warm weather and sun, New Yorkers really embrace outdoor dining.  For the next four months or so, sidewalks outside restaurants become cramped with tables and diners enjoying an al fresco dinner in the warm summer air.  I love walking through the West Village on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, people watching (and puppy-watching – outdoor dining is pet-friendly after all!) at all of the brunch spots in the neighborhood.  D and I are no different in this respect – as soon as it becomes nice out, we try to eat any dinner we prepare on our roof deck.  This gave me this idea to write a series of posts this summer on Outdoor Dining.  These posts will be grill-friendly and/or refreshing meals for when you’re eating outside (read: no heavy pastas or super hot meals).  They will also be focused on ingredients that are freshest in the summer months (think corn, watermelon, tomatoes, etc.).  For my first post in this series, I wanted to make crab cakes with two refreshing summer sides: spicy-sweet corn and a watermelon salad.  Two recent blog posts inspired me in coming up with my recipes and also meal combination.  (You can see their posts here and here.)  These are “healthy” crab cakes because they use less breading, light mayo and are not deep fried.  I pan fried mine in a skillet, but you could also bake them in the oven if you wanted to be even healthier.  For those watching their sodium intake, crab meat IS high in sodium so this is something to be mindful of.)  In addition to the spicy-sweet corn and watermelon salad, we also served this meal with a refreshing campari cocktail (recipe here).  This was one of my favorite meals I’ve made recently and D agreed – he told me this meal was in my “top five” if not the best and has requested that I make this meal on a weekly basis.  Fortunately, the crab cakes and the corn both taste great cold so it won’t be that difficult to make extra and then have a second helping later in the week.  That is, if there are any leftover from your original batch – there weren’t when I made them! 🙂

Healthy Crab Cakes
Serves 6

Ingredients
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup skim milk
3 tbsp. light mayonnaise
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. fresh dill, chopped
1/2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
1/4 tsp. dried tarragon
1/4 tsp. chili pepper flakes
Zest and Juice from 1 lemon (do the zesting first!)
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used panko)
3 tbsp butter, divided
1 pound cooked crab meat OR 3 cans (6 oz. each) of white crab meat (Note: I used canned because Whole Foods was out of fresh and rinsed the crab meat with water to try and remove some of the sodium brine)
Arugula (for crab cake bed/garnish)

Directions
1. In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients except for last four (bread crumbs, butter, crab meat, arugula).
2. Fold crab meat into mixture.
3. Place bread crumbs in a shallow dish.
4. Gather approximately 1/6 of the crab meat mixture and form into a ball in your hands.  Roll in bread crumbs until covered.  Then press/form into a 3/4″ to 1″ thick patty.

Crab Cakes Pre-Skillet

This is what your crab cakes should look like before you put them in the skillet.

5. Repeat with remaining crab mixture.  You should have six crab cake patties when you are finished.
6. In a large skillet, melt 2 tbsp. butter over medium-high heat.  Place all six patties in skillet and cook for 3 minutes.  Don’t touch them once you put them in the pan!
7. Flip crab cakes over and cook on other side for three minutes.  If the pan is starting to burn, add remaining 1 tbsp. of butter.

Crab Cakes Cooking

Crab cakes cooking in the skillet

8. While the crab cakes are cooking, rinse some arugula and place a small amount on six dinner places.  When the crab cakes are finished, place each crab cake on top of a bed of arugula.  Serve immediately with citrus avocado cream (recipe below).

Citrus Avocado Cream
Adapted from Texana’s Kitchen
Serves 6+
Note: I would recommend making fish tacos  later in the week and using this as a garnish instead of guacamole.  It would taste great with mahi mahi!

Ingredients
1 ripe avocado
Juice of 2 Naval oranges (a little more than 1/2 cup)
Juice of 2 limes (about 1/4 cup)
2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 jalapeno
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp. agave syrup
1/2 tsp. salt

Directions
1. Mix all ingredients in a food processor until smooth.
2. Set aside.  If preparing in advance, chill in refrigerator.  Take out 30 minutes before serving so the garnish can reach room temperature consistency.
3. Drizzle on crab cakes or on side of plate before serving.  Try with fish tacos!

Spicy-Sweet Fried Corn

Spicy-Sweet Fried Corn
Adapted from Texana’s Kitchen
Serves 2

Ingredients
2 tbsp. butter, divided
4 ears fresh corn, cut from the cobs
1 jalapeno, finely diced
2 green onions, sliced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 tsp. sugar

Directions
1. Heat 1 tbsp. butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.
2. Add corn, jalapeno, green onions, salt & pepper.
3. Saute for about 10 minutes.  If corn begins to burn, add an additional tbsp. of butter.
4. Add sugar and stir well.  Continue to cook until the corn begins to caramelize (about two minutes).
5.  Reduce heat to simmer and keep warm until ready to serve.  Note: I would consider adding diced red peppers and/or tomatoes to this dish next time around.

Feta Watermelon Salad

Feta Watermelon Tomato Salad
Serves 1

Ingredients
About 10 watermelon cubes or balls
About 10 cherry tomatoes or 1/2 large tomato, roughly chopped
Feta cheese, crumbled
Fresh basil, chopped
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions
1. Combine watermelon and tomato in individual serving bowls.
2. Immediately before serving, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.  Then top with crumbled feta.
3. Serve immediately.

Sweet Southern Comfort Goes on a Diet!

23 Jan

Healthy Veggie Snack Bag

OK…so the title of this post is a little deceiving; I’m not actually going on a diet, but my New Years resolution this year was to snack healthier.  That’s easier said than done when you work long hours and your office kitchen is always stocked with candy, chips and other unhealthy (and unfilling) snacks.  In order to help me implement this resolution, I turned to my friend Marc Perry, founder of Built Lean, an awesome fitness and weight loss website.  Marc also does personal training sessions in NYC, so I signed up for a couple to help get my butt into gear.  I got some great workout tips, but the most important thing I took away from our sessions was that in order to take my fitness to the “next level,” I would need to change my diet.  (Who knew an 8 oz. glass of orange juice can have upwards of 20 grams of sugar in it?  That is OVER five teaspoons of sugar in your morning drink!)  While I’m not going to stop cooking the Southern-style dishes I grew up with, in the past three weeks, my healthy snacking has already made a huge difference in how I feel. I find that the veggies in pre-packaged veggie snacks can be dry and old and you can’t order hard boiled eggs (Marc’s #1 breakfast selection), so I had to take matters into my own hands.  Every Sunday this January, I have hit up my local Whole Foods and picked up 1 dozen eggs, fresh veggies and some ingredients for a homemade veggie dip.  It takes about an hour to hard boil the eggs (useful tutorial here) and clean/prepare the veggies  and dill yogurt dip (recipe below).  I store the hard boiled eggs and have two egg whites and one egg yolk  every morning for breakfast along with a piece of fruit and a glass of skim milk.  Once the veggies are prepared, I divide them into 5 ziploc bags and take them to the office on Monday.  When an afternoon snack craving hits, I grab a bag of veggies and my homemade dip or hummus instead of the usual cookie or chips.  Not only do the veggies fill me up more than the “bad” snacks, but I also feel a LOT better, have lost a couple of pounds and I’m saving money not buying pre-packaged snacks too.  Let’s see how long I can keep this going in 2012 (and beyond)!

Healthy Veggie Snack Bags & Dill Yogurt Dip
Serves 1 person for 5 days of snacks

healthy veggie snack bags

One Week's Worth of Healthy Snacks!

Ingredients
1 bag baby carrots
1 head celery
5 assorted bell peppers
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1/2 pound snow peas
1 cup 0% Fage Greek yogurt
Juice of 1/2 large lemon
1 Tablespoon fresh dill, chopped

Directions
1. Clean all vegetables and cut celery and peppers into bite size pieces.
2. Separate vegetables into 5 sandwich-size ziploc bags.
3. Add dill and lemon juice to Greek yogurt and mix well.  Store in a tupperware container.
4. On Monday morning, bring all 5 veggie bags and yogurt mix to office.  You now have healthy snacks for a week and don’t have to think about it again until Sunday night!

Dill Yogurt Dip

Healthy Dill Yogurt Veggie Dip

Sunday Supper: Low Sodium Chicken Tortilla Soup

11 Dec

Low Sodium Chicken Tortilla SoupThis past summer, my friend Sarah told me about a blog called Sodium Girl that specializes in low sodium/salt free recipes that still taste great.  As someone who is health conscious and also trying to watch my sodium intake, I was immediately hooked on this site!  Last month, SG posted a recipe for Salt Free Chicken Tortilla Soup which you can find here.  I was waiting for the perfect lazy Sunday evening to test it out.  This recipe was so easy to make after a long weekend and really hit the spot now that it’s chilly in NYC.  My adapted recipe is listed below.  I found all of the ingredients no problem at the neighborhood Whole Foods.

Low Sodium Chicken Tortilla Soup
(Adapted from Sodium Girl)
Serves 4

Ingredients
For Soup:
1 tsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup frozen corn
1/4 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
4 ripe hot house tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 tbsp no-salt added tomato paste
3 cups water
1 Whole Foods rotisserie chicken (Note: SG’s recipe provides directions if you want to cook the chicken from scratch.  I was too hungry/tired/lazy to go through this process.)

For Toppings:
4 green onions, sliced
1 small red onion, diced
1 ripe avocado, diced
1 lime, quartered
1 jalapeno pepper, sliced (Note: For less heat, remove the seeds.)
Greek yogurt (0%) or sour cream (Note: Use Greek yogurt if you’re watching calories/fat intake.  You seriously can’t taste the difference)
Tortilla chips, broken into pieces

Low Sodium Chicken Tortilla Soup Toppings

Directions 
1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the chopped garlic and corn, stir continuously for five minutes.  Don’t stop stirring or you will burn the garlic.  This happened to me on my first try and I had to start over…
2.  Next add the four spices, tomato paste, chopped tomatoes and water to the pot.  Stir occasionally and bring to a boil.  Then cover with a lid, lower heat and let simmer for approximately 10 minutes.
3.  While the soup is simmering, shred the rotisserie chicken into pieces and set aside.  Be sure to remove the skin.
4. Add the shredded chicken to the pot and increase heat to medium-high again.  Bring to a rolling boil then lower heat a bit until it is just bubbling and continue to reduce without a lid for 15 to 20 minutes.  (Note: Don’t skip this step!  If you do, the soup will be watery and not as flavorful.  Letting the soup bubble during this time helps intensify the flavor and thicken the broth.)
5. While the soup is cooking, prep your green onions, red onions, avocado, lime, jalapeno peppers, Greek yogurt/sour cream and tortilla chips that you will have as a garnish.
6. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with garnishes as desired.

Here’s what the soup looked like before I added the garnishes:
Low Sodium Chicken Tortilla Soup

This meal was met with raving reviews by D.  He didn’t even notice the lack of salt which really speaks to the flavor of the soup!  He likes extra spicy food and suggested using Habanero peppers next time and adding them to the pot during the reducing period to add extra spice to the dish.  Since my mouth is still burning from the few jalapenos I added to my bowl, I probably won’t try that,  but it’s a great suggestion for those who do like it extra hot!

Thanksgiving Dinner: Cranberry Ginger Fizz

8 Dec

I LOVE Canada Dry Cranberry Ginger Ale, but it is the hardest thing to find!  The recipe below is my own cranberry ginger ale concoction that I make when I can’t find the original in stores.  Since ginger is a natural ingredient to help queasy stomachs, this drink is also a good one to make after a few too many pear bellinis the night before. 🙂

Cranberry Ginger Fizz

Ingredients
Ginger Ale (preferably Canada Dry)
Cranberry Juice (no sugar added, not from concentrate)
Lemonade
Limes

Directions (per serving)
1. Fill a highball glass with ice cubes.  Fill glass 3/4 of the way with ginger ale.  Fill glass remaining 1/4 with cranberry juice.  Top with a splash of lemonade.
2. Garnish with lime wedge.
Note: If you want to prevent this drink from getting watered down, fill an ice tray with cranberry juice the night before and use cranberry juice ice cubes!

Sunday Supper: Mom’s Meatloaf Two Ways

21 Aug

Growing up, the ultimate in comfort food for me was my mom’s meatloaf and mashed potatoes.  I always ask my mom to recreate it for me when I go home, but I also make it for myself often, normally adding a healthy spin to it.  By replacing the ground beef with lean, ground turkey, adding fresh veggies to the meatloaf, and replacing the mashed potatoes with mashed cauliflower (it’s really yummy, trust me!), I cut out extra fat/cholesterol from the ground beef and add 2-3 extra servings of veggies.  The original recipe my mom created is adapted from a Lipton soup recipe.  She puts a delicious ketchup/Dijon mustard/brown sugar sauce on top of the meatloaf which gives it an awesome savory/sweet flavor that is a hallmark of Southern cooking.  I’ve included both recipes below so you can try out either depending on your mood.  Enjoy!

Disclaimer: Meatloaf is not a “pretty” looking dish.  This version tastes GREAT though!

Turkey Meatloaf with Mashed Cauliflower

Turkey Meatloaf with Mashed Cauliflower

Mom’s Meatloaf & Mashed Potatoes

Serves 6

Ingredients (Meatloaf)
2 lb. lean ground beef
1 package Lipton onion soup mix
1 1/2 c. breadcrumbs
2 eggs
1/4 c. water
1/3 c. ketchup

Ingredients (Sauce)
1/2 c. ketchup
1/2 c. Dijon mustard
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed

Directions
1. Preheat  oven to 350 degrees.
2. In large bowl, combine all ingredients for the meatloaf.  Place in baking dish.
3. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for the sauce and put mixture on top of meatloaf.
4. Bake for 1 hour.

Mom’s Turkey Meatloaf with Mashed Cauliflower (aka the “healthy” version)

Serves 6

Ingredients (Meatloaf)
1 lb. lean ground turkey
1 package Lipton onion soup mix
1 1/2 c. breadcrumbs
2 eggs
1/4 c. water
1/3 c. ketchup
1 diced red bell pepper
1 diced green bell pepper
1/2 cup diced mushrooms (I prefer button)

Ingredients (Sauce)
1/2 c. ketchup
1/2 c. Dijon mustard
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed

Directions
1. Preheat  oven to 350 degrees.
2. In large bowl, combine all ingredients for the meatloaf.  Place in baking dish.
3. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for the sauce and put mixture on top of meatloaf.
4. Bake for 1 hour.

Mashed Cauliflower

Ingredients
2 heads cauliflower
Grated parmesan cheese
Butter or margarine, to taste
Salt & pepper, to taste
Skim milk, to taste

Directions
1. Steam cauliflower to cook.  (Note: If you don’t have a steamer, you can cook it in the microwave as well.  Just put the cauliflower (stems removed), in a microwave-safe bowl with a lid and put just a little bit of water at the bottom.  Microwave on high for 3-4 minutes until soft.)
2. Using a hand mixer or blender, blend cauliflower until smooth and creamy.
3. Add parmesan cheese, butter or margarine and salt & pepper, to taste.  The less cheese and butter you put in, the healthier this dish with be, so start slow!
4. If the mashed cauliflower is too thick, add some skim milk to the mixture to thin it out a bit and make it creamier.