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Cooking the Meltdown weigh

If you’re trying to lose weight, you may find yourself needing to change your cooking style. Kathy Palmer, neighbor, friend, and fellow fitness traveler, has collaborated with me to share with you ideas we’ve collected on our weight-loss journey. Our cooking criteria: simple to make, satisfying to eat, and sophisticated enough to serve to guests.

Side-stepping the issues surrounding the current no-carb diet, both Kathy and I keep calorie count low to achieve weight loss. When we spend calories, we want them taste-worthy. For maximum nutrition, we use whole grain breads and pastas. Also, note that portion size is doubled for photographic display of our selected recipes. Bon Appetit!

Crab Crostini



(Calories: 130; Makes 4 servings)

4 oz. fresh or frozen cooked crabmeat




2 tablespoons finely diced celery

1 tablespoon slivered basil leaves

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

4 ounce Italian bread, cut into eight 1/2 ounce slices

In a medium bowl, combine crabmeat, celery, basil, juice, oil, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours; remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before serving. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place bread slices on baking sheet; bake 10 – 12 minutes until lightly browned. Divide crab mixture among the bread slices and serve.

Poppy Seed Casserole

(Calories: 350; Makes 8-10 servings)

11/2 pounds ground raw turkey

1/3 cup chopped onion

1/3 cup chopped green pepper

1 15 oz. can tomato sauce

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

18 ounce package wide noodles

18 ounce package Neufchatel cheese, cubed

1 cup low-fat cottage cheese

1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt

1 tablespoon poppy seed

In skillet, cook ground turkey, onion, and green pepper until meat is no longer pink and vegetables tender. Drain off liquid. Add tomato sauce, salt, and pepper. Cook noodles according to directions, except omit salt. Drain without washing. In small mixing bowl, combine cheeses, yogurt, and poppy seed; toss cheese mixture with hot noodles. Layer 3/4 of noodle mixture in 13x9x2″ baking dish. Spoon meat mixture over the center of noodles, leaving 1-2 inch border of uncovered noodles. Layer the remaining noodle mixture over the center of the meat mixture, leaving 1-2 inch meat border. Bake covered at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover casserole. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes more, or until casserole is heated through.

Crispy No Fat French Fries

(Calories: 100, about 1/2 potato.

Serves 4-6)

4 large white potatoes

2 egg whites

Cut whole or peeled potatoes into French fries. Wash and dry. Whisk egg whites in large bowl. Add French fries. Stir; make sure each is covered. Bake without touching each other on Pam-sprayed cookie sheet or parchment paper at 400 F for 20 minutes or until crispy on bottom side. Turn and bake another 15 minutes, or until brown. Season as desired.

Easy French Onion Soup

(Calories: 200; Serves 6-8 )

4-5 large onions – any kind

2 14-ounce cans beef broth

l 14-ounce can beef consommé

1/2 cup sherry

1 tablespoon garlic powder (optional)

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spray

2-3 slices of sourdough bread (or comparable)

11/2 cups gruyere cheese

Fill a crock pot with peeled, thick slices of raw onion. Cover and cook for 24 hours without water or seasoning. (Onions turn brown and caramelize.) Add beef broth, beef consommé and sherry. Stir together; break onions into rings. Fill individual oven-proof soup cups or bowls with mixture. Spray “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” on 2-3 slices of sour dough bread. Sprinkle garlic powder on each and toast. Cut toast into 2″ squares. Place single layer on soup. Cover with grated gruyere cheese. Bake at 350 F until cheese melts and soup is bubbly, about 30-35 minutes. Note: This soup is filling enough to be a main course! It freezes well if you make a large quantity.

Spicy and Pretty Red Cabbage/Lettuce Salad

(Calories: 75; Serves 6-8)

1/4-1/2 head red cabbage

3/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 cups lettuce – torn

1-2 tablespoons sliced fresh ginger root

After shredding red cabbage, place in bowl with fresh sliced ginger. Cover with heated rice vinegar. Set aside for l hour. To serve, toss red cabbage with green lettuce (or spinach may be substituted) and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper as desired. Note: For fewer calories, omit olive oil.

Fancy Layered “No Pudge” Fudge Brownies

(Calories: 180. Without chocolate chips, 120. Serves 6-8)

1 pkg “No Pudge Fudge” Brownies from Trader Joe’s

1 carton plain non-fat yogurt

2 teaspoon vanilla

2 heaping tablespoons Bisquick

3/4 cup chocolate chips (optional)

l carton fresh strawberries

3-4 teaspoon liqueur or orange juice

Powdered sugar

Mix first five ingredients by hand. Pour half of batter in brownie pan. Puree 1/2 carton fresh strawberries (save remainder for presentation).

Add just enough liqueur or orange juice to make spreadable. Spread over top of batter.

Cover and freeze. When frozen solid, pour remaining batter on top. Bake at 350 F for 50 minutes. Serve hot or cold. Before serving, sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar. Serve with remaining fresh strawberries.

Best ideas from cooking the Meltdown weigh

Kathy and I’ve discovered it’s easy to reduce calories in dishes without compromising taste and even improving it. Try some of these:

• Replace shortening or vegetable oil with nonfat yogurt or pureed fresh fruit (strawberries, applesauce, pureed prunes, for example) in cake mixes, brownies, etc. Keeps the dessert moist and adds flavor.

• Use pureed prunes or apricots in bread mixes in place of shortening or oil. Besides keeping bread moist, it adds wonderful flavor.

• Add brewed coffee to chocolate desserts to deepen flavor. Also, a little cinnamon and vanilla deepens taste.

• Grill vegetables in sealed foil (eggplant, onions, mushrooms, green pepper, etc.). Sprinkle with seasoned rice vinegar, salt and pepper, and other sauces or seasonings you like. Steam carrots or potatoes for 5-7 minutes before adding. Served on a platter, the vegetables present beautifully.

• Use egg-substitute in lieu of eggs in omelets or other recipes calling for eggs. For extra protein in an egg-substitute omelet, add pureed tofu or nonfat cottage cheese.

• For real cream taste in coffee or soups, use nonfat Half & Half. For recipes using condensed milk, use nonfat.

• To cut calories by 1/3, use vegetarian version of canned baked beans.

• Replace or dilute mayonnaise with buttermilk or nonfat yogurt when preparing salad dressings.

• Poach fish and chicken in lemon juice or fish bouillon (rather than fry). For baked chicken, fish, or pork, roll skinless pieces in nonfat yogurt. Coat with crushed grain cereals, corn meal, etc.

• Use spray oil when frying or sautéing.

• Fresh fruits, such as an apples or peaches, baked in juice, a little vanilla, and cinnamon, make a great dessert.

• Replace spaghetti with zucchini or spaghetti squash; then add Italian sauces.

• Use lemon juice or seasoned rice vinegar on fresh salad in lieu of oil. If you want oil in dressing, use a very small amount of olive oil, combined with seasoned vinegar to dress a salad.

• Cut sugar in half in recipes (it won’t be missed) or substitute Splenda.

• For toast and vegetables requiring a buttery taste, try “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.”

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Carole Carson is the originator of the Nevada County Meltdown Challenge, a communitywide weight-loss effort. Kathy Palmer is active in the local schools, MOMs in the Mountains and was captain of captains for the Meltdown effort.


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