Saturday, January 21, 2012

Mixed Greens Pot Liquor Soup

If you haven’t tried this Southern favorite, you’re missing out on an amazingly simple and comforting dish. Nothing warms up a cold evening and says home like a steaming bowl of this delicious soup, which, by the way, has only a trace amount of fat and is packed with fiber, protein and healthful nutrients.

While it’s perfectly acceptable to make this scrumptious soup using (well-cleaned) fresh greens and soaked black-eyed peas, busy folks will appreciate whipping together this comfort food in about five minutes using canned and pre-packaged ingredients. (Allow for additional cooking time).


1 can lightly seasoned turnip greens (I use Glory Foods brand greens)
1 can lightly seasoned collard greens
1 can low-sodium black-eyed peas
1 12-ounce package of lean cubed ham (more or less is fine)
½ medium-sized onion, minced or finely chopped
1 32-ounce carton of reduced sodium chicken broth
1 32-ounce carton of reduced sodium beef broth
Red (cayenne) pepper to taste
Splash of red-wine vinegar (optional)

Stir together all ingredients into a large pot or Dutch oven. Bring to a rapid boil, then reduce heat to a low-boil or simmer for a minimum of thirty minutes. The longer this soup cooks, the better it tastes, as the flavors continue to marry. I’ve cooked it as briefly as a half-hour and it’s delicious, but it’s even tastier (or I’m hungrier!) after it simmers an hour or two. Refrigerate leftovers—still yummy the next day!

Serve with corn muffins or cheddar cornbread to soak up all that delicious pot liquor.

What is Pot Liquor?

Pot liquor (sometimes spelled pot likker) is simply the broth that remains after cooking greens. Since I’ve used canned ingredients in this quick-and-easy recipe, the addition of chicken and beef broths provide additional flavor and liquid to create sumptuous pot liquor.

Why Eat Greens?

Collard greens, turnip greens, beet greens, mustard greens and dandelion greens have long been staples in the Southern and Appalachian diets, but they’ve recently garnered new attention as nutrition powerhouses that promote weight-loss and increase health. Only one-half cup of collard greens contains more calcium than a cup of milk! In addition, greens are chock-full of vitamins A, C and B6, as well as potassium, lutein, folate and magnesium. These nutrients and anti-oxidants help protect against heart disease, cancer and eye diseases like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cranberry-Orange Scones

I've had lots of requests for this recipe, and you'll find it especially useful, now that holiday time is approaching. Despite the long list of ingredients, it's incredibly easy to make and takes less than ten minutes to whip together. Enjoy!


1 orange
1 Cup whole wheat flour
1 Cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3 Tablespoons organic sugar (evaporated cane juice)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1/3 Cup Smart Balance Omega Buttery Spread
1 Tablespoon agave nectar, like Madhava Agave Nectar (see Why Agave Nectar in a previous post)
½ Cup Egg Beaters
1/3 Cup fat free milk
¾ cup dried cranberries
3 Tablespoons uncooked oats (quick cook or regular)
2 Tablespoons organic powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash the outside peel of the orange and zest it. Now cut it into four or five wedges, to squeeze out the juice, later.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, organic sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and sea salt. Using a pastry blender or fork, cut in Smart Balance spread until the mixture looks crumbly. Add agave nectar, Egg Beaters, milk, orange zest, cranberries, and approximately two tablespoons of fresh-squeezed orange juice (the juice from one or two wedges). Stir until mixture comes together into a ball.

Dump onto lightly floured surface. (I use parchment paper sprinkled with flour, for easy-breezy clean-up). Knead dough about ten times, adding a little extra flour, if needed, to keep your hands from sticking to it. Pat into a 9-10” circle. Drizzle the juice from another orange wedge over the top of the dough, then spread it out with your fingers. Sprinkle uncooked oats over the top, then cut the dough into twelve wedges.

Transfer scone wedges to a pizza pan or rectangular pan misted with non-stick cooking spray. Leave about one-half inch between each wedge. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Meanwhile, place organic powdered sugar in a small bowl and squeeze the juice from another orange wedge (about a tablespoon, maybe less), over the sugar. Mix well, creating a glaze.

Remove scones from oven. While still hot, drizzle orange glaze over them. Serve warm.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Chicken Tortilla Casserole

Want to spice up your evening? This dish'll do the trick! Thanks to Holly, who sent the recipe of her husband's favorite dish to be "tweaked" into a healthy, nutritious meal she'll feel great about serving.

1 pound chicken breast, trimmed of all fat
1 tablespoon whole wheat flour
1 10 oz. can tomatoes and green chilies
1 medium onion, diced
1 green pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne (red) pepper – optional
1 teaspoon taco seasoning
1 cup fat-free refried beans
3 low-fat, high-fiber whole wheat tortillas
½ cup Mexican-blend cheese


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut raw chicken breast into bite-sized pieces. Dust with flour. Add to saucepan lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Drain juice from tomatoes and green chilies into the pan. Add all seasonings. Sauté five minutes, or until chicken is opaque. Add onions, peppers and tomatoes and green chilies, then cover the pan and cook over medium-low heat until veggies are tender. Meanwhile, lightly mist a 9-10” casserole dish with cooking spray. Lay two tortillas in the dish and up the sides, slightly overlapping. Spread one cup of fat-free refried beans over tortillas. Spread chicken mixture evenly over the beans. Lay the third tortilla on top of the chicken mixture, and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and juices bubble. Serve with a small side of Mexican rice (yellow saffron rice cooked with ¼ cup of tomatoes and green chilies) and fresh orange wedges for a delicious meal. Serves four. Counts as protein, slow carb and fast carb.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Need a quick lunch or dinner idea for two? Four? More? This hearty soup and side easily doubles—or triples—and can be on the table in a flash. (Easy to pack for lunch the next day, too)!


1 15 oz. can no-salt-added black beans (do not rinse)
1 10 oz. can tomatoes and green chiles
1 small onion, chopped
¼ cup fat free sour cream, plus two teaspoons for garnish
1 teaspoon 40% reduced sodium taco seasoning
2 Tablespoons reduced fat shredded Mexican cheese blend

2 (one each) whole wheat, high-fiber, low-carb tortillas
½ teaspoon 40% reduced sodium taco seasoning

Set oven to broil. Chop onion and place in medium saucepan. Add juice from tomatoes and sauté until onion begins to soften. Meanwhile, cut tortillas into quarters. Place on broil pan lightly misted with non-stick cooking spray, like Smart Balance Omega-3. Lightly dust with ½ teaspoon taco seasoning. Place under broiler for 3-5 minutes. Now, add beans and tomatoes to onions in saucepan. Stir in ¼ cup fat free sour cream and 1 teaspoon taco seasoning. Stir well and bring to a boil. Remove tortilla chips from oven, turn over, and return to oven. Turn the oven off and allow tortilla chips to “toast and dry” in the hot oven, approximately three minutes. Ladle soup into two bowls, topping each with a tablespoon of cheese and a teaspoon of sour cream. Serve with hot tortilla chips. Counts as protein (black beans, tortillas), fast carb (sour cream, tortillas), and slow carb (beans, tomatoes).

Besides the fact that they really taste much better, homemade baked tortilla chips (when using the whole wheat, high-fiber, low-carb tortillas) add as much as five additional grams of protein per tortilla (four large chips). Their high fiber content is more filling than bagged tortilla chips. We like LaTortilla Factory Low Carb High Fiber Original Whole Wheat tortillas, which have seven grams of fiber and five grams of protein per tortilla. Fiber and protein are important factors in weight loss.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Salisbury Steak & Onion Gravy

Every good cook needs a comfort food recipe to nurture the spirit, as well as the body. Here’s one you can feel good about serving to your family, because it’s low in fat, calories and sodium.

INGREDIENTS for steaks
1 pound very lean (93% fat free) ground beef
½ Tablespoon ground horseradish (not horseradish sauce)
½ Tablespoon coarse ground mustard
½ teaspoon salt-free all purpose seasoning (like McCormick’s)
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

INGREDIENTS for onion gravy
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 can low-sodium beef broth
1 Tablespoon corn starch
½ Tablespoon ground horseradish

Set oven on broil. Pour a small amount of water in the bottom of your oven’s broil/grill pan to prevent splattering and make clean-up easier. Mix all steak ingredients together in a small bowl. Form four oval-shaped patties, approx. 1/4” thick. Broil five minutes in oven, then turn and broil for five more minutes, until browned throughout.

Meanwhile, sauté onions in a skillet lightly coated with non-stick spray. Mix cornstarch with about a quarter-cup of beef broth in a small container with lid, and shake until well-mixed. Add horseradish, and shake again. When onions have softened, pour remaining beef broth into skillet, then stir in cornstarch and horseradish mixture. Add ground black pepper to taste, if desired. Stir over medium heat until thickened.

Pour onion gravy over Salisbury steak patties. Serve over yolk-free egg noodles, wild rice or smashed, boiled red potatoes. Add edamame seasoned with lemon pepper, or green beans as a healthy side dish. Counts as fast carb (noodles or rice), slow carb (veggies) and protein (steaks and gravy). Serves four.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Tired of the same old eggs and cold cereal for breakfast? My friend Bethany insisted that I wake up your sleepy taste buds with this delicious, filling breakfast that’ll keep you running strong through the busiest of mornings.


1 20-oz. package of southwestern-style refrigerated shredded potatoes, like Simply Potatoes
½ cup egg-white blend, like Egg Beaters
1 egg
½ teaspoon salt-free seasoning
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ green pepper, seeded and chopped
½ small onion, chopped
4 strips pre-cooked bacon, microwaved, OR 3 turkey sausage patties, cooked and chopped
½ cup reduced fat shredded mild cheddar cheese
1 medium tomato, chopped

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Beat egg and egg-white blend together with seasonings. Pour over shredded potatoes in medium mixing bowl. In a separate small bowl, microwave chopped onion and peppers approximately one minute, until slightly tender. Do not overcook. Add peppers, onions and bacon or sausage to the potato mix. Stir well. This should be wet, but not dripping. If it is too moist, transfer to a colander, and allow some of the egg mixture to drain out.

Transfer the potato mixture to a pizza pan or pizza stone misted with a light coating of cooking spray. Pat into a round pizza shape, approximately ½” thick. Bake for 18-23 minutes, until potatoes begin to brown around edges. Top with shredded cheese and return to warm over for 2-3 minutes, until cheese is melted. Remove from oven and top with chopped tomato. Cut into four large wedges and serve with fresh fruit. Counts as one fast carb (potatoes), protein (eggs and meat), and slow carb (veggies). Serves 4.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Who needs pizza delivery on speed dial, when you have this super-simple recipe at hand! Not only will you save calories and fat grams, but you’ll add fiber and nutrition to this soccer night staple. Pick and choose your favorite toppings from the list, below, but be sure to include a healthy dose from each topping category, in order to achieve a nutritional balance with your meal. Have the kids pitch in, and dinner will be served before the delivery guy can start his car!

1 12” prepared whole wheat pizza crust (choose one with at least 5 gm protein per serving)
1 6 oz. can tomato paste (not sauce)
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon dried basil (fresh is fine, too)!
Dash sea salt

Meat toppings: Choose up to one cup
Turkey pepperoni
Turkey sausage patties, cooked per package directions and crumbled
Lean hamburger, fried, drained, rinsed in hot water, patted dry

Veggie toppings: Choose up to 1-½ cups
Sliced mushrooms (fresh or canned, drained & rinsed)
Chopped bell pepper, any color
Chopped onion
Thinly sliced Roma tomato
Sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
Canned artichokes, drained & rinsed
Pineapple chunks (unsweetened), drained

Parmesan or Romano cheese, grated/ground
Organic Italian shredded cheese blend

In a small bowl, mix tomato paste with spices and garlic. Spread over pizza crust, all the way to the edges. Dust with parmesan/Romano cheese. Top with meat(s), then veggie(s) of choice. Be sure to use the full servings, as outlined above. Top with approximately ½ cup of shredded Italian cheese blend.

Bake according to crust package directions, until cheese is melted and begins to bubble, approximately 10 minutes. Cut into six slices. Serves three (two slices each). Recipe easily doubles. Counts as fast carb (crust and cheeses), slow carb (veggies) and protein (meat).

Enjoy with unlimited garden salad with low-fat organic dressing.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Orange-glazed Ham Steaks

Set the table before you begin, because this scrumptious dish will be ready to serve in only twenty minutes! With only three ingredients, this recipe will be your “go to” plan for hectic evenings when you simply don’t have time to “waist” in the kitchen. Low in fat and calories, but high on flavor, this is one the whole family will enjoy!

1 package of two smoked ham steaks, approx. ¾ pound total, ¼” thick
1 large orange
½ teaspoon organic agave nectar
Freshly ground black pepper to taste (optional)

Cut both ham steaks in half across the middle, making four steaks. Coat a non-stick skillet with cooking spray (I like Smart Balance Omega). Sear steaks over medium heat until they begin to brown, about four minutes. While ham steaks are cooking, wash the skin of the orange and slice it in half. Set one half aside for garnish. Zest the skin of the other half of the orange into a small bowl. Squeeze the juice from this half into the bowl, and add the agave nectar. Turn the ham steaks over, then pour the orange juice mixture over the steaks. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for ten minutes, while you prepare side dishes. Do not cover the skillet.

Arrange ham steaks on a platter, then drizzle the reduced orange nectar over the steaks. Cut the remaining half of the orange into wedges or slices to garnish the steaks. One serving equals one ham steak slice per person, (approx. 3-5 ounces). Serves four.

Suggested sides:

Red potatoes, cut into chunks, boiled or steamed, seasoned with sea salt or your favorite salt substitute and freshly ground black pepper. (Fast-burning carb). One fist-sized serving per person.

Steamed sugar snap peas, no seasoning needed. Approx. ¾ cup serving per person. (Slow-burning carb).

Agave nectar is usually sold as organic, and it is also Kosher. It is naturally high in fructose and low in glucose, giving it a very low glycemic index—even lower than honey! Agave nectar is approximately one and one-half times sweeter than white sugar, meaning you’ll use much less, thereby reducing calorie intake. It dissolves easily, even in cold water, and will not solidify, giving it a long shelf-life. Agave nectar is all-natural, meaning it contains no chemical or processed sugars like sucrose, mannitol, high-fructose corn syrup, or maltose. It’s perfect for baking, cooking, using in coffee or tea, or even as a substitution for pancake syrup. Remember to always use less agave nectar than you would sugar or honey, as it’s much sweeter. You can always add more, to taste.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Can’t face the day without your morning cuppa joe? I would never ask you to do that! (You don’t want to see me without mine, either). Did you know there’s a way to enjoy flavorful, latte-like coffee that’s actually good for you? It’s true. Here’s a decadent delight that will boost your morning protein intake, satisfy your sweet tooth, and make those expensive trips to Starbucks a thing of your past.


¼ Cup skim milk or light soy milk
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ Tablespoon sugar-free coffee syrup in your favorite flavor (I like caramel)
Mug of black coffee, brewed to your preferred strength

Whisk together the first four ingredients in a small bowl until well-blended, with a bit of froth on top. Add three to four tablespoons of this creamy protein blend to your mug of hot coffee. Stir well. Garnish with a spoonful of the blended froth and an extra dash of cinnamon, if desired.

This will make enough for 4-5 mugs of coffee, depending on cup size and the amount of creamy protein blend you use. Store extra in a small container and refrigerate. This will keep for up to one week, but you may want to take it along to work for your morning coffee break, or to share with your co-workers.

Why protein powder?

Protein is the major building block of muscles, blood, skin, internal organs (think brain and heart), and even hair and nails. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 56 grams a day for men and 46 grams a day for women, though the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that increasing protein intake above this amount leads to increased weight loss, a lower amount of stored fat and prolonged feelings of fullness. Aim for at least fifteen grams of protein with each meal, with an additional few grams of lean protein thrown in at snack times, when possible. Don't give up carbs, however; our bodies need those, too!

Protein powder can help you achieve higher protein intake, without ingesting unnecessary fat and calories. Now, rest assured, there are some yucky-tasting protein powders out there. I know, because I’ve tried ‘em! My favorite is EAS 100% Whey Protein Powder in vanilla flavor. Another good brand is Designer Whey. Soy protein is also fine, if you prefer. Make sure you choose a protein powder with at least 18 grams of protein per scoop (four tablespoons), and less than 4 grams of sugar. You’ll find that quite a few of my recipes contain protein powder, as it’s a great sweetener, thickener, and protein additive that can help push you into fat-burning mode while adding flavor to your food and drinks.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Italian Meatballs and Pasta

Nothing says, "Dinner's ready!" like the aroma of Italian cooking. This slimmed-down version of one of my family’s favorite meals will be one you’ll turn to again and again and is perfect for guests or Sunday dinner. On a lazy day, start this cooking over low heat, check it every thirty minutes or so, and then settle down to a dinner that’ll keep your family talking for weeks to come!


1 one-pound package of mild Italian turkey sausage links (about five links)
1-2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 10.75 oz. can of tomato puree (can substitute tomato sauce), salt free
1 medium onion, sliced or diced
1 bell pepper (any color), sliced into strips
1 14.5 oz. can diced Italian-style seasoned tomatoes, salt free
1-2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon dried basil
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Sea salt to taste
Multigrain pasta (like Barilla Plus), one serving per person, any style or shape you like
1 15 oz. can organic chicken broth

Remove casings from sausage links. Cut each link into six equal pieces. Roll each piece into a small meatball. One serving of meat/protein is approximately six meatballs. Over medium-low heat, cook meatballs in olive oil approximately 25-30 minutes, until browned. It’s important to cook over low heat, as olive oil isn’t intended to high-heat frying. Plus, slow cooking the meat will render out more fat. If the meat begins to dry out, pour up to half of the can of tomato puree over the meatballs to keep them juicy.

When meatballs have lightly browned, drain excess oil and broth from the pan, leaving a small amount to prevent burning. Add onions and peppers to the pan, cover with a lid, and cook until onions are soft and turning clear.

Add remaining tomato puree, diced tomatoes, garlic and seasonings. Simmer over low heat thirty minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally. The longer this cooks (up to two hours) the better it will taste.

During last fifteen minutes of cooking, in a separate pot, boil multigrain pasta in one can of organic chicken broth (for added protein and flavor) and water to cover. Cook until al dente, and drain. In the photo above, I've used angel hair pasta, but I often make this with farfelle (bowtie) pasta, as well.

Place the pasta on a large, deep platter or bowl, then pour the Italian sausage, vegetables and sauce into the center. Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese, if desired.

Serve with a green salad and organic dressing. Bread is not required with this meal, as the pasta serves as your fast-burning carbohydrate for the meal.

This recipe serves 4-5 people. (One fist-sized portion of pasta, one fist-sized portion of veggies and sauce, and six meatballs), plus unlimited garden salad. If you're cooking for two or three people, rest assured that this recipe refrigerates well and will reheat as a tasty lunch, tomorrow.


Pasta isn't the evil we've all been taught to fear, however, white pasta isn't very good for you. It's much higher in "bad carbs" than multigrain pasta, which is naturally higher in fiber and rich in protein. Plus, brands such as our personal favorite, Barilla PLUS, contain omega-3 fatty acids, which make it a heart-healthy meal.