Leftover Turkey Scraps: New Comfort Food Recipe

Those turkey scraps that don’t fit nicely on a serving platter for Thanksgiving lend themselves very well to a favorite family recipe of mine. I would put these croquettes in the “comfort food” category. They are easy to make, use up all your leftover meat scraps, and are a healthy meat entrée. Enjoy the whole traditional bird on Thanksgiving, then enjoy this great leftover dish later in the week.Turkey Dinner

Take all those scraps of turkey and place into a food processor or a blender.  This recipe calls for about 2 cups of shredded meat.  The meat mixture will be mixed with a light roux sauce to bind it and then baked in the oven for a healthier alternative to a traditional fried croquette recipe.

 

For the croquette meat mixture you will need:

2 cups of chopped or shredded leftover turkey

dash of salt and pepper

1 tsp. lemon juice (optional)

1 tsp. chopped parsley (optional)

Combine these ingredients in a mixing bowl and set aside.

Next, make the light roux sauce.  You will need:

4 Tbsp. butter
1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
dash of pepper
1 cup milk

Melt the butter in a saucepan.  Add the flour and seasonings and blend.  Slowly add the one cup of milk, stirring continually with a wire whisk until the mixture thickens.  After the mixture thickens, add into the chopped meat mixture. You want the mixture to be firm enough to shape, so use only part of the sauce mixture initially, and then added the rest as needed.  It is helpful to chill the mixture for awhile in order to allow for shaping the mixture into firmer patties.

After the roux sauce and chopped meat are mixed together, shape your croquettes into eight hamburger like patty shapes.

The next step is to coat the croquette patties with the bread crumbs.  You will need:

1 cup fine bread crumbs
1/4 cup butter
one egg with 1 tbsp. water or alternatively you may use eggbeaters

Place the butter in a shallow baking dish and melt.  Dip the croquettes into the bread crumbs, egg, and then back into the bread crumbs.  Next place the breaded croquettes into the melted warm butter and coat all sides. Preheat the oven to 350 ° and bake for about 30 minutes until crisp.  This can be served with a dollop of any leftover roux sauce if not needed for the croquette mixture.  Garnish with a sprig of parsley and enjoy that turkey again.

Nutrition information per croquette:

200 calories

9 grams of fat

15 grams of protein

15 grams of carbohydrate

360 mg sodium

Tip:  If you would like to decrease the fat and calorie content further, skip rolling the bread coating mixture in the melted butter.  Turkey scraps can also be frozen to make this recipe at a later time. And, no turkey?  This recipe also works very well with leftover chicken.  Bon appetit!

 

 

The Easter Egg Hunt: Keeping Safe at the Plate

kids with eggs dyingThe egg hunt is on! Families all over the country will buy, dye, and hunt for eggs in the next few hours.  It is a fun tradition, and the eggs can easily be eaten as a snack, breakfast, or added to salad if they are handled properly pre and post coloring.

A hard boiled egg has only but 80 calories, but is rich in many nutrients, including protein, phytochemicals, many B-complex vitamins, and vitamins A, D, and E. If eggs are from chickens fed an omega-3 rich feed, the hatched eggs will also contain omega-3 fatty acids which we need more of in the American diet.  Another nutritional perk of eggs hatched in 2016, is they are significantly lower in cholesterol.  Today’s eggs have an average of only 180 mg. of cholesterol, down from about 220 mg. cholesterol in years past!

Here are ten tips to keep those eggs safe to eat after Easter.

  1. When purchasing your eggs, make sure there are no broken or dirty eggs The shell keeps the inside of the eggs free of bacteria and a broken shell can allow for bacterial contamination.
  2. Be sure to check the date stamped on the carton.  Avoid purchasing eggs which are stamped with a “sell by” date close to the purchase date.
  3. After purchasing, eggs should be refrigerated immediately at 40° or less.  Avoid putting eggs in the refrigerator door, as temperatures will be inconsistent and may not meet temperature guidelines.
  4. For eggs already in your refrigerator, you may safely use them for both coloring and eating even if the sell-by date has already passed.  In fact, they can be safely eaten 2-4 weeks past that stamped “sell by” date.  If your eggs are typically stored in another container in the refrigerator, and you have no idea how long they have been there, it is best to pitch them and start with fresh eggs for coloring if you plan on eating them.
  5. Consumers should not wash egg shells prior to hard boiling.  When the chicken lays an egg it has a protective film coating to protect the inside of the egg.  Washing the shell can actually remove that protective film, and hasten the likelihood of bacteria moving into the egg.
  6. Cook the eggs thoroughly.  For directions on how to cook a hard boiled egg, visit:  http://www.incredibleegg.org/recipes/recipe/easy-hard-boiled-eggs
  7. After cooked, the eggs may be dyed but must be refrigerated within 2 hours.
  8. Be sure to use a food safe dye if you plan on eating your Easter eggs.
  9. Do not plan on eating Easter eggs which have been placed on the ground.  This becomes a perfect recipe for making you ill as the bacteria from the ground can enter the cooked egg.  Stick with the plastic version for egg hunting in the yard.
  10.  If you are hiding real Easter eggs, pick clean areas to hide them inside your home.  Eggs can only safely be left unrefrigerated for 2 hours, so keep your egg hunt to no more than 2 hours.  Leftover Easter eggs should be eaten within 7 days as long as they have been properly handled and refrigerated.

kids with eggs

Does your family do anything special with leftover Easter eggs?

Belt Busters: Watch Those Drinkable Calories

MP900440312The festive month of December has arrived.  Along with extra calories from holiday cookies, candy, and restaurant fare, there are those often shrugged off or unacknowledged extra calories that creep insidiously into our diets from common holiday beverages.  Those beverages do not even need to contain alcohol, but many are alcohol based.  Without being mindful of those drinkable calories while you are humming holiday carols, you might be singing the blues come January 1.   Anyone hoping to avoid moving out a notch on the belt come January would be wise to be mindful of the extra calories from holiday beverages.  The good news is that there are some festive drinks that will do less damage to your waistline.  Your secret weapon here is to watch the portion size of your holiday beverage and be mindful of the calories contributed to your daily intake. Taking it a step further by tracking all your calories (not just thinking about them), usually ends up really helping to keep the belt notch in one spot.

Here is a sampling of those calories:

  • 4 ounces of champagne- my favorite at only 65 calories a glass
  • 1 ounce brandy-65 calories!  Consider drinking on the rocks to give the illusion of a larger serving!
  • 12 ounces non-alcoholic beer-70 calories
  • 2 ounces Martini-120 calories
  • 5 ounces of wine (red or white)-120 calories
  • 12 ounces Light beer-varies from 50 -120 calories
  • 5 ounces Bloody Mary-125 calories
  • 2.5 ounces Cosmopolitan-130 calories
  • ½ cup low-fat eggnog-150 calories
  • 12 ounces Regular beer-150 calories
  • 10 ounces Irish coffee-160 calories
  • 2.5 ounces Chocolate martini-190 calories
  • 7 ounces Gin and tonic-190 calories
  • ½ cup regular eggnog-220 calories
  • 6.5 ounces Margarita-330 calories
  • 10 ounces Hurricane-380 calories
  • 6 ounces Amaretto Sour-420 calories

Just as when selecting food for a healthy diet, portion sizes matter!  Multiple servings of some of these high calorie beverages, coupled with typical high fat snack foods often served along with these drinks will most likely blow your calorie intake to the North pole.  There’s an old saying, “ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” so enjoy your party beverages, but think about your choices as you enjoy the holiday spirit this month.  Doing so will make for a healthy and easier transition to 2016.

February’s Favorite Food: Chocolate

Valentine’s Day is here and so are those tempting chocolates. They arrive from a friend, a child, your co-worker, or spouse and they call for you, no make that shout for you!  Should you feel guilty eating some chocolate?  Absolutely not, but the operative word in the previous statement is some.

Most of us have heard there are health benefits to chocolate.  Indeed, chocolate is highly ranked on the food chain as being very beneficial as an anti-oxidant rich food. Without getting too technical, anti-oxidants are wonderful for health because they help fight something called free radicals which cause damage to our bodies.  This damage to our bodies translates as disease and aging!

The health enhancing compounds in chocolate and cocoa are from a group of compounds called flavonoids.  Flavonoids are also found in foods such as fruits, vegetables, and even spices.

Of course, not all chocolate is created equally when it comes to health benefits. On Valentine’s Day, enjoy a piece or two of your favorite chocolate candy. But to enjoy the health benefits of chocolate all year, consider the following:

  • Move your focus to chocolate products that are not heavily processed. The processing of chocolate degrades the flavonoid content, rendering it less therapeutic in fighting diseases.
  •  Avoid cocoa products which note Dutch processing, which allows for the destruction of flavonoids by treating it with an alkali to tame the natural pungent taste of cocoa.
  • Add chocolate products to your diet that are lower in sugar and fat.  Most of us do not have a dietary need for more fat and sugar in our diets!  The fats in chocolate are not considered uniformally “bad”, but the calories from fat in chocolate remain a nutritional concern for many people.
  • We always hear that dark chocolate is better for us than milk chocolate, but it depends on how the dark chocolate was processed.  Reading the dark chocolate product label prior to purchase may be helpful in choosing a minimally processed chocolate, and therefore, healthier chocolate.

For the other 364 days of the year, a few 1 oz. servings of unprocessed chocolate per week is a great eating strategy if you need a chocolate fix.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

“Turkey Day” Food: Slimming Strategies for Favorite Foods!

Turkey DinnerThe big turkey day is upon us in a few weeks, so many cooks are already planning their menus for Thanksgiving.  Across the country, people will eat dinner with family and friends in homes and restaurants.  Many of my clients feel it is difficult to focus on health and wellness at this time of the year.  For Thanksgiving gatherings, I tell my clients it is “just one day” of dining.  If you exercise control over the aftermath of the meal, then it should be viewed as a meal enjoyed with those that matter in your life, a time to be thankful, and a time to reflect.  Controlling the “aftermath” means that you get rid of the leftovers that may sabotage your healthy eating plans or plan appropriately to avoid having leftovers in the first place!  With that stated, I think we can also think about the traditional Thanksgiving meal as having the potential to be a meal that can even offer health benefits to your diet.  Here is a sampling of traditional Thanksgiving foods and the potential impact on your health:

Pumpkin.  Pumpkin is loaded with beta-carotene which is the plant derived form of vitamin A.  Consider offering your guests a slimmed down crustless pumpkin pie option in addition to traditional desserts.

Sweet potatoes.  This is another beta-carotene superstar.  Keep the calories in tow by limiting the brown sugar, butter, and marshmallows used in traditional recipes.

Mashed potatoes. Potatoes are loaded with potassium!  Slim down your recipe by limiting the butter used in your recipe.  Consider using skim milk, low sodium chicken broth, or fat-free sour cream in your recipe to slash the fat and calories.

Cranberries.  This traditional side dish is loaded with cancer fighting plant chemicals, vitamin C, and fiber.  No need to limit its use to cranberry bread and sauce-consider using it in a fruit compote instead.

Turkey.  Turkey is full of lean protein.  Watch your serving sizes and the gravy added to your plate, and consider this a healthy meat option for your Thanksgiving gathering.  Roast your turkey without the stuffing inside, baking it in a separate casserole dish.  This keeps your stuffing lower in calories as well.

Watch your servings sizes for all your foods and leftovers, and enjoy the day and the health benefits of traditional Turkey day fare.  Top your meal with a nice family walk, and you will be slim and ready for the next round of holidays in December!

 Do you have any healthy Thanksgiving recipes to share?

Halloween Stew: A One Pot Meal for October 31

sitting on the fenceThis one pot stew was always fondly referred to as “Halloween Stew” by my kids because year after year I made this for my children to enjoy after trick or treating. This one pot meal can be prepped ahead of time and then popped into the oven to cook effortlessly while you step out with your kids to make the trick or treat rounds.  It was always a pleasure, after a raw and windy October Halloween, to come home to this nutritious and already cooked one pot meal.  It is comfort food at its best, and can be enjoyed throughout the crisp fall days ahead.  Enjoy, and happy trick or treating!

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds lean beef (sirloin works well)
  • 12-20 oz. can of tomatoes with liquid
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes dissolved in ½ cup hot water
  • ½ cup red wine (optional ingredient)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 8 cut up carrots
  • 2-3 stalks cut up celery
  • 4 or more large potatoes
  • 1 small package frozen peas
  • ¼ cup tapioca

Directions

Take the lean beef and cut into 1 inch cubes. Spray a large corning ware dish and the inside lid with a spray such as PAM. Place the beef cubes in the bottom of the corning ware. Lay all the vegetables (except the peas) on top of the meat. Pour the tomatoes, wine, tapioca over all. Bake for 3 hours, covered, in a 325 ° oven. Fifteen minutes before stew is done cooking, sprinkle the peas on top.

5 Tips to Trim Thanksgiving and Trim You Too!

Turkey DinnerWith Thanksgiving around the corner, here are 5 simple ideas to trim your calorie count on Thanksgiving without feeling like you gave up your favorite holiday foods. If you keep in mind that most of the calories are lurking in hidden fats in your meal, you can eat slightly larger amounts of other foods, and not worry about adding another notch to your belt or wearing stretch pants for the rest of the week.

Turkey. Turkey is a lean meat. Just watch your portion size and keep in mind that a normal serving size looks like a checkbook or deck of cards. Skip the extra fatty gravy (or make your own low-fat gravy), and avoid eating the skin.  And, don’t be afraid to experiment with some of the packaged dry gravy options.  They have virtually no fat, and I have never had a guest complain about these types of gravy!

Stuffing. Avoid stuffing the dressing inside the turkey cavity. When you cook the stuffing in the turkey, you are adding more fat by virtue of turkey drippings. Dish out fewer calories and lower the overall fat content of your stuffing just by baking in a separate casserole dish.

Potatoes. Why not make your mashed potatoes with skim milk, fat-free sour cream, or broth? All these options will slash your fat and calories if making from scratch! If you order the potatoes from carry out or a restaurant, chances are they are loaded with both fat and sodium.

Alcohol. Choose a light beer, champagne, or dry wine. These are all lower calorie options to toast the November holiday.

Pumpkin pie. Have you considered a crustless version? Or, have one with crust and be the sneaky one eating the crustless version. Virtually all of the fat and calories end up in the crust, and the rest of the pie is full of health enhancing beta-carotene, fiber, and protein. Cut the sugar slightly and cut the calories more.

Here’s my recipe! 

Do you have other tips for a healthy holiday dinner? Have a very happy Thanksgiving.

Cheers to a Healthier BBQ Menu this July 4, 2013!

MP900384725It hasn’t seemed to be much of a summer yet in the Midwest.  We have had a lot of rain and not a lot of warm days, but the calendar says July 4th is around the corner.  For my family, it will mean back yard grilling and feeding a crowd.  Feeding a crowd on a holiday does not have to mean your health goals fall apart.  We are a pretty health conscious crowd, so here is what I am thinking as possible menu items for this week:

For an appetizer, try fat-free/low-fat easy bruschetta.  My husband just whipped this together last night as part of an easy Sunday night meal using some not too tasty dried out bakery bread.  He toasted thin slices of the dry bread, and then ladled his tomato mixture on top. He mixed diced tomatoes, fresh garlic, and balsamic vinegar  together (to taste, no oil included).  Topped with fresh basil and a pinch of fresh Parmesan cheese, it was wonderful and fat-free with no guilt issues returning for a third serving!

For the entrée, consider the following:

  • Jenni-O brand turkey brats-saves you at least 10 grams of fat and 100 calories over the standard counterpart. When we eat brats or serve brats to a crowd, we never eat the standard product and quite frankly, after soaking in beer and onions, one cannot tell the difference.
  • Fruit and/or vegetable and meat kebobs will save you calories by cutting down on the amount of meat consumed.  The quality of this meal will be improved by substituting the fruit and/or vegetables for the meat which adds healthy anti-oxidants from the fruits and vegetables while cutting down on saturated fat from meat.
  • Instead of standard burgers, consider grilling marinated boneless/skinless chicken breasts.  Pound the breasts to about a 1/4 inch thickness, marinade in your favorite mixtures, grill up and serve on whole wheat hamburger buns!

For side dishes, consider:

For dessert:

  • Strawberry shortcake served with angel food cake, fresh diced berries, and light cool whip or whipped cream
  • Or, just indulge in your favorite ice cream at this point since you ate so much healthy food the rest of the day.

For your beverages:

For the beverages, remember they can be loaded with calories from both sugar and alcohol.  Consider having your bar and cooler stocked with:

  • Diet tonic water and lemonade which will mix well with alcohol for a reduced calorie cocktail
  • Diet pop
  • Lower alcohol and calorie beer as well!

Happy 4th of July and enjoy the summer!

Keep Your Grilled Food Safe at the Plate

With Memorial Day around the corner, grills will be fired up.  Grilled foods are usually considered healthy because they are cooked without fat. For instance, a typical 4-ounce chicken breast cooked on the grill contains about 7 grams of fat, while a 4-ounce serving of fast-food fried chicken contains about 17 grams of fat.Corncobs and meat on grill

Although your waistline is better off with grilled cuisine, the American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR) points out that grilling might increase the risk of cancer. Cancer-causing compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are produced when meat (eg, fish, beef, and chicken) is cooked at the high temperatures used in grilling and broiling. Other cancer-causing compounds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are formed when meat fat drips onto hot coals. As food cooks on the grill, flames and smoke help deposit the PAHs onto the food.

What You Can Do to Be Safe

There are steps that you can take to lower your risk of these potentially cancer-causing chemicals:

  •  Trim the fat. To minimize the PAHs from forming, trim as much fat as you can from the meat.
  •  Marinate. Some studies suggest that marinating meat before grilling may reduce the formation of HCAs.
  •  Precook. Pop the meat in the microwave to partially cook it before grilling.
  •  Use smaller cuts of meat. Smaller cuts take less time to grill. You can also flip your food often, which can further shorten grilling time.
  •  Remove charred parts. After grilling, cut off any charred parts from the meat.
  •  Eat your fruits and veggies. Add variety to your meals by grilling fruits and veggies instead of meat. Vegetables do not produce HCAs.

Other Ways to Be a Safe Grillmaster

  •  Frequently wash your hands and surfaces. This can prevent cross-contamination of bacteria, like E. coli.
  • Use separate plates. Use one cutting board for raw meats and a clean one for other foods in order to reduce bacteria crossover. Be sure to use separate plates, utensils, and platters for raw and cooked foods. For instance, if the raw  steaks are carried out on a platter and tongs are used for placing them on the grill, you must use a new clean platter and tongs for taking the cooked steaks off the grill when they are done.
  •  Keep the temperatures appropriate. Meats should be refrigerated while marinating and up to the point of being cooked. When the grilling starts, be sure the internal temperature of meats is appropriate to kill bacteria . Use a meat thermometer to check proper internal temperatures. Leftovers should be refrigerated immediately and tossed if left out more than one hour in hot temperatures and 2 hours in cooler temperatures.

A little precaution goes a long way in keeping your grilled food safe at the plate, both on this holiday weekend and all grilling season.  Happy Memorial Day!

Mother’s Day Reflections from a Dietitian Mom and Grandma

Mother Kissing Her Daughter for a Present and Red RoseAs I contemplate the upcoming weekend and Mother’s Day, I realize that I know and respect an awful lot of amazing mothers. These mothers are my clients that I have come to know very well over the years, my friends, my relatives, and finally, my children.  These mothers always put mothering at the top of the priority list even as they pull off multi-faceted roles as wedding planners, secretaries, doctors, teachers, nurses, dentists, lawyers, administrators, and so on.  The similar theme with these strong women who are amazing moms is their tenacity in nurturing and their instincts for being the driving force and support for their children.  It does not matter how old those children are, the “force” is still there. That “force” exhibits itself in various forms for various situations, but it is ever so present.

So to all those amazing mom’s out there, mom’s of little babies and adults already on their own and out of the nest, please take care of yourselves.  Remember YOU are worth your weight (no pun intended) in gold, and you deserve to replenish yourself to continue giving all that you give to others, including your babies of all ages.  Over the decades of counseling clients (as well as being a mother myself), I have realized that we can get “spent” very quickly as we go about our daily tasks of keeping our lives in line with ideals, and juggling all we do in a 24-hour period.  To keep up your pace, remember some guidance of self-care for YOU:

  • Mange your diet as you would manage your business, your children, and careers!  Eating is meant to keep you well, strong, and the best you can be.  It needs to be planned out as the rest of your life is planned.  The outcome of this planning makes the effort worth it!
  • Feed yourself the same quality of diet you want your babies and older children to eat. Kids of all ages have a keen eye on what you are doing, and will learn to imitate your food behaviors and patterns of eating eventually, be it good or bad.
  • Take the time to eat; it is the only fuel and nutrients you will take in.  Just thinking you should eat, or taking supplements, will not give you the energy to carry on, only good quality food will do so.
  • Make sure you take the time to actually enjoy your food.  Sit down at the table and teach your toddler that mom needs to enjoy her meal.
  • When sharing your meals with your children, enjoy the experience.  One day they will cook for you and they will pick up the dishes without being asked, because remember, you are a role model and what goes around comes around!

If you are reading this, you are probably a mother or know a wonderful mother.  I salute you all and wish you a wonderful day and upcoming week.  Happy mother’s day to all those truly remarkable women called “mom”.