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Mar 5, 2009 10:34 AM

Need something impressive and low cal/low fat

I need it for a weight loss class that's having a potluck.

It should be something that inspires people to think of good nutrition as an enjoyable challenge.

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  1. Israeli Salad - My Family's Version
    2 English Cucumbers - diced
    1 bag of radishes - diced
    2 bell peppers - go for colors - diced
    Several Plum Tomatoes - seeded and, you guessed it, diced

    Dressing -
    I never measure this. but I combine extra virgin olive oil, juice of two lemons, some fresh mint, some dry mint, minced garlic, kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Unlike my family, I don't just shake and serve since the mint will brown in the acid and clump. I blend mine with a stick blender and it stays emulsified for a few days and just gets better.

    It's colorful and delicious. It also feeds a crowd easily.

    1 Reply
    1. re: TampaAurora

      I make a really yummy dip that can virtually fat-free if you wish. First, I reconstitute some sun-dried tomatoes (I use a dozen of my home-dried grape tomatoes, but 6 or so regular sun-dried plum tomatoes would do) and rough chop them. Don't discard the tomato water. I take a couple of 15-ounce cans of organic low-sodium beans (the recipe calls for cannelini/great northern beans, but the choice is yours -- I've used kidney, black and pinto with equal success), drain and rinse them, then toss them into a food processor. To the beans, I add 2-4 cloves of garlic, to taste, a couple of pinches of salt, black pepper to taste and about 4 tablespoons of good balsamic vinegar (mine is aged 12 years). Puree completely, adding the tomato water a bit at a time until you have the desired consistency, ie. not cement!). When you're happy with the consistency, add the chopped reconstituted tomatoes. Pulse a few more times to combine, but stop when you can still see small flecks of red throughout the dip. Turn out dip into a bowl or container. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly. For taste, I add a tablespoon or two of really tasty extra virgin olive oil instead of the equivalent amount of tomato water, but if you're looking to keep the fat to an absolute minimum, the hearty flavors of the other ingredients will stand up just fine without the oil.

      I'd serve the dip in an attractive bowl, with nice flatbreads or crackers. I've also used the dip to spread on freshly toasted multigrain baguette slices, then topped each with some lightly sauteed greens, such as baby spinach, rapini, chard or beet greens. It makes for a very nice starter or a side to a hearty soup. The best part is that the recipe only requires a few ingredients, all of which you might already have in your cupboard. Once your tomatoes are reconstituted, the dip can be made in moments.


    2. Roasted red pepper dip w/ vegetables and ww pita:

      1. Thai turkey wraps; I got the recipe from CH a while back. Sautee 1 lb of ground turkey, add a diced onion and some diced hot peppers (adjust amounts according to heat tolerence; I use a couple of serranos if I don't have Thai bird peppers). Cook until onion is soft, add a splash of fish sauce, a couple of splashes of soy sauce, a bunch of green onions (diced), a few drops of sesame oil, and about a half cup of chopped cilantro, cook a few minutes more to incorporate. Then, just separate and wash some romaine leaves along with more diced hot pepper, some cilantro, some more chopped green onion, and some Thai basil. You can add some chopped peanuts, too, but that's not quite as diet-friendly. Folks just grab a romaine leaf, put a tablespoon or so of the turkey mixture in, and top with the herbs and peppers to taste. It's great at room temp and has become one of our summertime favorites for healthy picnics, etc.

        1. are you assigned a course? otherwise that seems like the kind of thing where everybody will bring salad.

          poached salmon with mint or dill and fat-free yogurt dressing
          summer veggie rolls with shrimp or poached chicken
          chicken chili
          roasted zucchini boats stuffed with cumin chicken and cous-cous
          quesadillas, either veggie or chicken, and low-fat cheese
          roasted eggplant lasagne -- broil slices of eggplant, then layer with sauce, other vegetables like spinach, mushrooms and peppers, low-fat or a reduced fat bechamel

          19 Replies
          1. re: hotoynoodle

            Yes, I need to do an entree.

            Thanks for your suggestions. I hope there will be others.

            1. re: rainey

              Oh, you didn't specify that you needed an entree. If it's cold where you are, I love moroccan chickpea stew. There are many variations, you can use canned chickpeas, boxed broth or make your own. Use chicken, or not. I vary the vegetables depending on what I can find. It's easy to bring to a potluck because you can reheat in a crockpot.


              1. re: chowser

                I LOVE garbanzos/chickpeas/cecis! Excellent suggestion. Thanks.

                1. re: rainey

                  rainey, i got distracted by the chickpea ideas yesterday and forgot to give you my other suggestion (though i really do like the chickpea ideas). if you don't want to have to worry about a crockpot or reheating, you can do an egg white-based crustless quiche or vegetable frittata, which would be easy to cut & serve at room temperature.

              2. re: rainey

                One word: veggie meat substitutes...okay that's 3:). Field Roast has the most amazing veggie sausages, just grill some Italian ones and serve with Polenta and sauteed greens, what could be better

                1. re: Rory

                  I've never heard of Field Roast - where do you buy it?

                  1. re: jacquelyncoffey

                    it looks like their distribution is finally expanding. Whole Foods carries it - i used to buy it in their San Diego & Los Angeles stores, and i just spotted it in the refrigerated case at the local WFM here in Jersey last week. it's *really* good stuff if you're looking for a meat alternative. i wish i could still eat gluten :( the smoked tomato flavor was my favorite...


                    there's a "where to buy" link on the upper right side that will help you find a store near you.

                2. re: rainey

                  Hmm how about something with a lean fish? Mushrooms are always good too and easy to dress up. Steamed asparagus makes for a great side to serve with anything.

                  1. re: junipersong

                    lean fish might not be the best idea as a make-ahead dish unless it's going to be sauced and/or served in a broth, because it could potentially dry out...but the mushroom suggestion has me thinking Wild Mushroom Rag├╣ over polenta.

                    i also love chowser's suggestion of Moroccan-spiced chickpea stew, or even Chana Masala. if you'd rather use a meat-based protein, Chicken Tagine would be another great way to go.

                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                        hardly. when prepared without butter or cheese, a 4-ounce or 1/2-cup serving of polenta contains 80 calories.

                        i noticed that you included couscous and quesadillas among the dishes you suggested. 1/2 cup of cooked couscous contains about 90 does a standard serving of corn or flour tortillas - which is what i assume you use for your quesadillas.

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet


                          1/2 cup cooked polenta has 260 calories -- without butter or cheese. i suppose if you made it with lots of water and very runny, the calories could be reduced.

                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                            actually, i don't make it runny, but the math in that source you linked to doesn't add up:
                            - it calls for 2 quarts (8 cups) of water to cook 1 pound of polenta.
                            - assuming you're using coarse-grind cornmeal, 1 pound = approx 3.5 cups.
                            - most traditional polenta recipes call for an approximate ratio of 4 cups (1 quart) of liquid per cup of polenta
                            - hence, that 1 pound of polenta should be cooked in about 3.5 quarts of water, not 2 quarts.

                            anyway, we may have to agree to disagree here. i'm a nutritionist, i own multiple reference books and software programs that provide the information for polenta - both dry and prepared - and they all list the calorie count for the serving sizes i mentioned at anywhere from 75-110 calories depending on brand, form, and method of preparation. even at the high end, it's still nowhere near that 260-calorie quote.

                            for the record, that link you provided also suggests cooking millet at a 3:1 ratio of liquid to grain...which would result in a mushy mess. millet should be cooked in, at most, 2 parts liquid to 1 part let's just say i'm a bit skeptical about that source ;)

                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                              I have found a lot of references that discuss a 3:1 for millet, but I agree 2:1 max or it is mushy...

                      2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        I made your chana masala with roasted eggplant and it was great. I know it's not chana masala anymore but it was very hearty.

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          I had a *fabulous* lamb tagine the other day. That was going to be my contribution until I added up the individual ingredients and came up with a fat gm count that was scary.

                          I suppose I could try to do it with chicken and serve it over couscous with a chickpea and carrot dish on the side but the flavor of the lamb was just soooo wonderful...

                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                            What would you think of pearl barley prepared risotto-style with caramelized onions and porcinis served with grilled chicken as an item with balanced nutrition?

                            I'll serve it with steamed carrot rounds with tarragon for a color boost.

                            1. re: rainey

                              i could help you "lighten" the tagine recipe & modify it with chicken, but i also think the barley with porcini sounds brilliant. i have a few thoughts about that (feel free to ignore me if you just want to do it as planned):
                              - instead of the caramelized onions, i'd do a combination of leeks & shallots - they pair so well with porcini.
                              - as far as herbs go, i don't know about the tarragon - i think thyme & rosemary (or even fresh oregano) would be better complements to the earthy flavors of the barley & porcini.
                              - for the carrots, i'm tempted to say you could roast them with garlic, and do a puree or mash.
                              - consider serving greens as well - kale, arugula, spinach...

                    1. I love lettuce wrapped with fresh turkey and then a slice of cucumber and then a spread of chick peas then wrapped and rolled in a sesame dressing and nuts. Healthy and nutritous. I love it.