You must admit, Brussels sprouts are cute. They resemble baby cabbages and their flavor is reminiscent of their popular cousin, broccoli. But they’re often snubbed. Why? My guess is, Brussels sprout-haters have, at some point, eaten them when they weren’t cooked correctly. Brussels sprouts taste horrible when they’re over-cooked. When cooked properly, the sprouts are bright green, fork-tender and wonderful. Especially the way I make them, roasted with Parmesan cheese and smoked paprika. Read on…
For my Healthy Eats posts, I seem to be on a roll when it comes to revamping America’s favorite restaurant fare. That said, I couldn’t forget the amazing egg roll. When I was pregnant with BOTH of my boys, I craved egg rolls like there was no tomorrow. Thankfully, I lived within walking distance to a fabulous Asian restaurant. When cravings struck, I took a stroll. Turns out, it’s a good thing I hoofed it; one egg roll (an appetizer) dishes up 1/3 of your salt intake for the day. And, of course, I always ate two. Here are the rest of the stats for the average egg roll:
1 Egg Roll:
Total Fat: 8-15 grams
Saturated Fat: 4-5 grams
Total Carbohydrate: 16-33 grams
Sugars: 2-4 grams
Protein: 8-17 grams
Sodium: 390-580 milligrams
Cholesterol: 20-40 milligrams
Fiber: 1-2 grams
For you egg-roll-cravers out there, I’ve got the perfect recipe. The filling is a simple and sensational blend of sautéed chicken, cole slaw mix (cabbage and carrots), rice vinegar and sesame oil. The golden-brown egg rolls are baked not fried and served with a tangy soy-mirin-cilantro dipping sauce. You can actually enjoy TWO egg rolls for the calories of ONE restaurant roll (and just 3 grams of fat). Pregnant or not, they’re sure to become your favorite. Oh, and make a big batch because they freeze really well (freeze them before baking). You’ll definitely want lots on hand for last minute cravings (and houseguests).
Are you sitting down? You should be when you read the nutrition numbers for restaurant-style potato skins with cheddar and bacon. Ready? Here goes:
Total Fat: 83 grams
Saturated Fat: 38 grams
Total Carbohydrate: 97 grams
Protein: 33 grams
Sodium: 690 milligrams
Fiber: 12 grams
And let me remind you, potato skins are considered an appetizer. A single baked potato has 94 calories and zero fat, so what the heck happens in the restaurant kitchen? I’ll tell you what happens: the chefs take a nutrient-rich vegetable and give it the fat equivalent of 9 chocolate frosted doughnuts. Well, I’m not that kind of chef. Dig into my recipe revamp and enjoy the loaded potato skin in all its glory.
A restaurant favorite, coconut shrimp is sweet, crunchy and almost always deep-fried—hence its deliciousness. Next time you’re tempted to order it, consider this: ONE coconut shrimp contains 126 calories and over 7 grams of fat. Mathematically speaking, that means more than 50% of the calories come from fat. And when was the last time you ate just one shrimp? Here’s the deal: ALL of the fat comes from the batter and frying process because shrimp is virtually fat-free by nature.
Since I realize people adore the dish, I developed a fabulous coconut shrimp recipe with only four ingredients (plus salt and pepper). You’ll be amazed at the amount of flavor you get from just four ingredients. Tangy buttermilk tenderizes succulent shrimp while acting as the “glue” for the coconut crust. I also add whole-wheat Saltine crackers for that “fried”, crispy exterior. As the little crustaceans bake in the oven, the coconut becomes golden brown and develops a subtle nuttiness, the perfect contrast for the buttermilk. The best part? You can enjoy eight of these gems for just 196 calories and 5 grams of fat.
My boys love chicken wings – mild, medium, hot – ALL chicken wings. During our recent summer vacation, I let them order wings at our favorite oceanfront restaurant almost every day. I knew they weren’t healthy, but they’re active little boys (on the run 12 hours per day, especially at the beach) so they were considered a special treat. I decided to check the nutrition stats when we got home and, although I know wings aren’t “health food,” I was still shocked at the amount of calories, fat and salt in an appetizer portion. One appetizer dishes up half of your day’s calories and two days worth of fat and salt. And, my guess is, most folks that eat wings aren’t chasing them with hours of body surfing, castle-building and paddle ball. Behold the gory details:
Regular Chicken Wings, Individual Appetizer (numbers vary depending on the sauce and restaurant):
Total Fat: 30-90 grams
Saturated Fat: 15-24 grams
Total Carbohydrate: 4-101 grams
Protein: 39-72 grams
Sodium: 2350-4450 milligrams
Cholesterol: 267 milligrams
Fiber: 1-7 grams
Since my boys adore wings, I decided to do a recipe revamp. They’re mildly spicy, baked not fried and just as crispy as the restaurant version. And because I bake the wings and drumettes on a baking rack, a ton of fat drips away. As a result, calories and fat have been tremendously slashed.
I’m not gonna lie, I grew up eating Tater Tots. They’re delicious, so what’s not to love? Maybe the 160-200 calories and 8-10 grams of fat per 3-ounce serving, depending on the brand (yes, there are many copycats). And that’s without cheese or fillings. I hate to bash such a yummy food, but I’d like to consider them an indulgence.
Thanks to my recipe revamp, there’s no need to deprive ourselves of something we really want. We can enjoy the same culinary treat – golden brown, crisp on the outside, tender on the inside with hints of onion. I make my tots with shredded potatoes, egg whites, panko and dried, minced onion. I bake them in the oven until they’re golden brown and, well, downright amazing. And get this, you can enjoy more tot for less, since you get almost 4 ounces for just 74 calories (and ZERO fat). I don’t need to mention the savings; they cost less to make at home then if you buy them at the grocery store.
While researching nutrition for this post, I nearly fell off my chair when I ran the numbers for store-bought pasta salad. I knew prepared pasta dishes were fairly rich, but I didn’t think one two-cup serving had more calories, fat and sodium than three McDonald’s Double Cheeseburgers. Yes, THREE. Read it and weep:
Store-bought pasta salad (2 cups):
Total Fat: 67 grams
Saturated Fat: 18 grams
Total Carbohydrate: 30 grams
Sugars: 3 grams
Protein: 21 grams
Sodium: 2181 milligrams
Cholesterol: 61 milligrams
Fiber: 6 grams
Two cups of this disastrous dish contain an entire day’s worth of fat and sodium. Spread the word because pasta salads are a backyard barbecue’s best friend – and it’s one of the most popular side dishes to grab at the grocery store, whether for your own party or a friend’s. Save everyone’s arteries at the next soiree and make my lighter version. It’s fresh and wonderful and has just 341 calories for the same 2-cup serving.
With coffee shops on every corner, it’s incredibly tempting to grab a refreshing iced brew to suck the heat out of a hot summer day (while providing a quick pick-me-up). But coffee-drinker beware: that convenient iced concoction can squeeze up to 350 calories and 22 grams of fat in one little straw. For me, that’s a crazy waste of calories for a drink. I’d rather have a scoop of ice cream or something I can actually chew. And just because you’re drinking calories doesn’t mean they don’t count – add them to your grand tally at the end of the day. Here’s the good news: making home-made iced coffee is just as simple as hitting the drive through window. Even better, YOU control the ingredients. When I make a pot of coffee in the morning, I make an extra cup or two and save it in the fridge for later (it’s already chilled when I’m ready for it). When I’m thirsty for coffee on ice, I add chocolate and caramel syrup and almond extract. My refreshingly sweet treat has great coffeehouse flavor with just 59 calories and zero grams of fat. Read more
Folks in Arizona will do anything to stay cool in the summer. When it’s 118 for 21 straight days, you get creative. Yes, I know, it’s a dry heat. But it’s still hot. And when I visit the east coast every July and it’s in the 80’s, the humidity makes it feel like 119. You just can’t win sometimes.
No matter where you find your heat, one of the best ways to cool off from the inside out is a crisp, refreshing salad. I stumbled upon an amazing dish, The Valley Salad, at a local restaurant (the area around Phoenix is known as the Valley because it’s surrounded by mountains). It’s a colorful, fun blend of fresh and light ingredients – sweet, tangy, crunchy, chewy – all nestled under an invigorating white balsamic vinaigrette. If there’s one thing we know how to do in the Valley, it’s how to make things refreshing. I’m thrilled to share it with you.
People always ask me for quick and easy recipes that they can bring to parties. They want to share something homemade, something personal. But those same people also tell me they have NO time, NO patience and practically NO cooking ability. Game on, I say.
I’ve got you covered and you’ll knock the socks off of every party-goer at your next soiree.
The best appetizers for a party, whether the soiree is held inside or out, are handheld munchies you can tackle in a bite or two. The goal is simple: gourmet flavors that come alive in one small portion. That’s basically my mantra.