Healthy Tips from the Kitchen

Choose a lighter cream for a step in the right direction

Very few of us use whole milk anymore, but if you do, try 2% for a month or two, then gradually step down to 1%, then 1/2% – who knows, you might end up using skim and not even notice the difference!

Just be careful when cooking – the lower the fat content, the easier milk will curdle. Save the higher fat milks for sauces and “cream” soups.

    1. Deep-fried food actually tends to absorb less fat than slowly pan-fried food. (Food for thought! 🙂 )
    2. For omelettes, use 2 whites for every 1 yolk.
    3. Next time ordering Chinese take-out,  remember these words, “Steamed, with sauce on the side, please.” You can save up to 600+ calories and still enjoy the flavor.
    4. Fast-food isn’t all bad. There are only bad choices. Review the menu options at all your local drive-thrus on the internet. Each and every one seems to offer healthy selections. Learn what they are and order wisely! (Personal suggestion: the Chipolte Chicken Wrap @ McD’s!)
    5. Never buy pre-ground beef. Select the leanest whole cuts you can find (Sirloin, Eye of Round, Top Round, etc….), have your butcher trim away any visible fat and grind to your specifications. You will know what you are getting.

      “Choose to loose…
      unless you’re at the casino!”

       

A Cocktail to Remember

Here is a re-post from my Facebook account. It is a vodka/rum drink, with a bit of an island flair, called the Brown-Eyed Susan – a huge hit on the internet, and a favorite from a wedding I attended 2 years ago at the Marriott Ranch in Hume, Virginia. (Beautiful place!)

The bride was kind enough to share her recipe with me. Delicious!

Brown-Eyed Susan
1 1/4 Cups highest-quality Vodka
1 1/2 Cups Light Rum
3/4 Cup Triple Sec
Juice of 2 Limes
4 Cups fresh Orange Juice
4 Cups Pineapple Juice
Lime Wedges, Maraschino Cherries

Mix first 6 ingredients together. Pour over crushed ice. Decorate with lime slices and Maraschino cherries…and don’t forget cocktail straws. Enjoy!
(Serves as many as can handle it!) 🙂

                                              
                                            “One (at least) for the party!”

  

 

Banana Cream Pie w/Coconut

Banana Cream Pie w/Coconut (Woman's Day) 1965

This is an old-fashioned,  creamy and delicious recipe that requires a little work, but is well worth the effort. The first rendition was published in Woman’s Day “Encyclopedia of Cookery,” Volume 1, circa 1965.  Their version was “richened-up” a little by my grandmom. Grandmoms always seem to have a way of making good things even better! 🙂
Use either a classic short pie crust, or graham cracker,  if you prefer. Both are guaranteed delicious! (I haven’t allowed my brain to think of a chocolate crust…yet.)

Banana Cream Pie w/Coconut

1/2 cup sugar                                               6 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt                                       1  3/4 cups whole milk
3/4 cup half & half                                          1 extra-large egg or 2 yolks
1 tablespoon butter                                   1/2 + teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 – 4 ripe bananas                                       1 baked 9-inch pie shell
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream             1/2 cup shredded coconut,
Confectioner’s sugar                                    sweetened and toasted

                                      

Mix sugar, flour and salt in top part of double boiler. Gradually stir in milk and half & half and cook over boiling water until thickened. Stir continually. (A whisk makes it easier.)

Cover and allow to cook for 10 min. Stir occasionally.

In separate bowl, beat egg and slowly add a small amount of heated milk mixture to temper egg and avoid separation;  then gradually whisk egg – milk mix into double boiler and cook for 3 – 4  minutes over hot, not boiling, water, stirring constantly. This should render a thick, smooth pudding.
 
Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla; allow to cool slightly –  to about room temperature.

Slice 2 – 3 bananas evenly into baked shell. Make sure your bananas are perfectly ripe, yet firm. Pour cooked pudding mixture over bananas, all  at once. Chill for 1+ hours – until completely firm.
 
Spread coconut on baking sheet and toast in 350 degree oven for approx. 10 minutes or until lightly browned. (Be sure  to check frequently!) Stir from time to time. Remove when golden brown.

Just before serving, whip whipping cream. Add confectioner’s sugar and vanilla to taste.  Spread a thick a layer of freshly whipped cream over chilled pie – covering pudding to the edges, evenly. Peel remaining banana and slice into rounds. Arrange slices attractively all around the edge/crust. Sprinkle toasted coconut generously in center of pie, and lightly on plates before presentation. I like placing a few pieces of banana on the plate as well. The more the merrier!  Makes 6-8 servings…sometimes.

Egg McSomeThin’!

Had to write this post, if for no other reason than an excuse to say, “Egg McSomethin’ “, but in all honesty, I have been making this Egg McMuffin imposter for years, and it is simply delicious. You will miss nothing except a lot of fat, cholesterol, and sodium.  On the plus side there is added fiber, protein and B-vitamins. Aside from that, I prefer the taste of the homemade version. It’s somethin’ else! Please give it a try and let me know what you think.

In defense of McDonald’s muffin,  it’s not the worst choice for a fast food breakfast by any means, but if you can do a little better for the bod, why not?

 Egg McSomeThin’

1/2 100% Whole Grain or Whole Wheat English Muffin
1 extra-large cholesterol-reduced, free-range egg
1 slice reduced-fat American Cheese slice
Healthy buttery spread (Bestlife is a good one)
99% fat-free, low-sodium deli ham, shaved (approx 45 grams) – Sara Lee offers some great choices – really delicious
Salt, pepper

*Poach egg in poacher, slightly breaking yolk, set timer for 6-7  minutes, or  doneness of your choice for poached eggs
*Toast 1/2 English muffin in toaster oven, (or full muffin if not restricting caloric intake)
*When halfway toasted, remove muffin, lightly coat with buttery spread and add cheese slice. Return to oven to complete toasting and melt cheese
*Place ham in nonstick pan with a little buttery spread. Heat to sizzle. Brown a bit. Remove. Place on cheesy muffin. Top with poached egg. Add salt and pepper.
Eat. And don’t feel a moment’s guilt!

 

Sometimes, “To-Go” is the Way to Go!

Now and then, we let down our efficiency and have absolutely nothing at home to throw together for a decent dinner after a long, hard day. Not to worry! With careful, defensive ordering, a healthy, affordable meal is just minutes away at the nearest carry-out. (In spite of what others may say.) Just think it through. Every fast-food restaurant (and I have the courage to say “every”) offers a few dishes that aren’t going to cause you to have a coronary before getting home. Take the time to look over the many selections offered at local drive-thru’s, and you might be surprised at the “spa cuisine” that awaits! 

Just do a little research online ahead of time.  Most every chain restaurant provides the nutritional content of their items at the press of a button.  Plan your take-out. Remember all sauces are “on the side”. “Grilled” and “steamed” win out over “fried”.  And who the heck needs both halves of the bun?  The days of guilt over Mc-Food should be long gone. You’re in the driver’s seat – steer straight!

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