19 Apr

Low Fat Cooking | Summer Barbecues

Most of us are fairly familiar with the ins and outs of grilling burgers and ‘dogs, but what about the side dishes? Sure, a nice big bag of chips and a bowl of slaw have always been faithful accompaniments to your favorite burgers, but why not venture out a little further and try something different? Just about anything that can be prepared indoors can be mastered on the grill with the right implements, including vegetables, and grilling often provides a medium and inspiration for extra creativity. If that isn’t enough to tempt you to haul those veggies outside, since outdoor grills often cooks more quickly than traditional indoor methods, more of the nutrients of your favorite vegetables are sealed and more readily retained when cooking outdoors!

Following are some tried and true veggie and side dish favorites that can be prepared right outside with the main meal and will save you the hassle of running in and out of the house to check on indoor cooking endeavors. Furthermore, the flavor the grill will bestow upon your favorite veggies will probably make outdoor cooking during the summer months a contender to those pre-packaged foods that often accompany a casual barbecue. So grab your BBQ apron and get started!
Grilled Portabello Mushrooms
1 lb. of portabello mushrooms
1 tblspn. of olive oil
1 ½ tblspns. of red wine or balsamic vinegar
dash of low-sodium soy sauce
Drizzle olive oil, vinegar and soy sauce over portabellos and marinate for 30 minutes. Grill over medium hot coals for 8 – 10 minutes on each side. Serve as a side dish, or as a portabello “burger” topped with the fresh vegetables.
Grilled Potatoes
4 medium baking potatoes
1 cup of low-fat or fat-free bottled Italian dressing
Wash potatoes and cut into ¼ inch slices almost all the way through the potato, but not entirely (so that the whole potato stays in one piece). Divide potatoes and place atop foil squares or pouches. Pour dressing over the top making sure that it gets into the cracks of the potatoes evenly. Seal packets and grill over medium high coals until tender. Open packets and grill for an additional 5 minutes; serve hot.

Chili Lime Corn
4 large ears of fresh corn, husks and silk removed
2 tblspns. of chili powder
Juice of two large fresh limes
Dash of olive oil
In a small bowl, combine chili powder, lime juice and olive oil until well mixed. Place corn cobs in individual foil squares and pour marinade over corn to saturate. Seal foil firmly around each individual cob and grill for approximately 45 minutes over medium hot coals, turning once during cooking times. Remove corn packets from grill and serve hot, pouring any remaining marinade from packets onto corn.


20 Mar

Low Fat Cooking | Let’s Talk Salsa!

Forget the sodium-packed jarred stuff lining the shelves of your local grocery store, which can be so loaded with chemicals and preservatives (and other combinations of vowels and consonants that none of us can pronounce), the natural nutritional value is often lost among them. Salsa is an easy-to-prepare, wonderfully delicious and naturally heart-healthy snack that can be served in an endless number of ways. Once you perfect your first batch, you’ll find that your creative culinary side will invade your kitchen and, before you know it, you’ll be inventing recipes you never knew you had in you!

First, many salsa recipes contain fresh tomatoes. Fruit or vegetable you ask? Botanically, tomatoes are a fruit because technically, a fruit is defined as the edible portion of a plant that contains seeds whereas a vegetable consists of the edible stems, roots and leaves of a plant. So now that this century-old, burning question is out of the way, why are tomatoes valuable to our health? Tomatoes are not only an excellent natural source of Vitamins A and C, but they are one of the few foods that contain the natural antioxidant, lycopene. Research has shown that a diet rich in lycopene-containing foods, such as tomatoes, can actually reduce your risk of developing certain types of cancer, such as rectal, colon, prostate and stomach cancer, by as much as 60%. For the record, one medium tomato contains 35 calories, a mere ½ gram of fat, and 40% of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C. The good news is that tomatoes don’t appear to lose their nutritional value when grilled, roasted, steamed or otherwise cooked, as many vegetables can. In fact, some research shows that the nutritional composition of the tomato actually increases when cooked, such as in your favorite home made marinara sauces and soups! How’s that for diversity?
Tomatoes can be served in harmony with a variety of vegetables and fruits when making salsa. No matter how you slice it, they seem to compliment just about everything. Salsa can be served as a topping for chicken or seafood, and can be utilized as a great marinade for a steak on its way to the outdoor grill. Of course, the most traditional method of serving salsa is appetizer-style with tortilla chips. Keep in mind, however, that the typical tortilla chip contains 1 or more grams of saturated fat per chip. Given how easy it is to polish off a couple of baskets of these crunchy triangles with salsa over a margarita with some friends, that’s a lot of fat coursing through our unsuspecting veins! As an alternative, cut some fresh corn tortillas into triangle shapes, place in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes or until crisp. In fact, most Mexican restaurants these days will honor requests for baked tortillas vs. fried ones from their health-conscious patrons at no extra charge. It might take a little extra time to get them to your table, but the nutritional difference will be well worth your wait.