Clean 2016: Shaping up the 3 S’s

Click here to watch our March 13 segment on WJBF News Channel 6!

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When we think about lunch food, we often think about three words that start with “S”:

  • Soups
  • Salads
  • Sandwiches

Unfortunately, though, many soups are saturated with sodium, salads are smothered with dressings and sandwiches are slathered with fattening spreads.

When I started losing weight in 2012, I developed a negative attitude about these foods, because I learned what some of the common ingredients or add-ons add up to. However, this negative attitude stopped when I found my fascination for incorporating healthy swaps in my cooking and eating. The following four recipes offer healthier alternatives to the three S’s.

Butternut Squash Soup

It’s easy to gravitate toward the canned soup section of the grocery store because of how convenient it is to pop it open and into the microwave. However, the amount of sodium, even in the soups that claim to be “healthier” or “light,” is nothing to take lightly. The best way to steer clear of soups that are high in sodium content is to make your own.

I think that a lot of people shy away from making their own soup, because the process can be very time- and labor-intensive, but that’s not the case with this recipe! It only requires two easy steps (the longest one being simply to allow the butternut squash took cook in a pot of boiling water), two pieces of common kitchen appliances and four ingredients (one of which comes out of your faucet!).

I came up with this recipe sort of by accident. I was making one of my favorite food bloggers’ butternut squash lasagna roll ups when I tasted the butternut squash sauce and thought, “This would taste really good on its own!” Gina Homolka, the creator of skinnytaste.com and of whom I’m a huge fan, even commented on and liked the photo I posted on Instagram of my soup!

*insert fangirl scream*

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. diced butternut squash, peeled and diced (I use the 11 oz. pre-peeled and diced packages of butternut squash, because I see my life flash before my eyes every time I try to cut one.)
  • ⅛ cup shallots
  • 1 tsp. garlic, minced
  • Water (see instructions below for amount)
  • Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Add butternut squash, and boil until soft.
  3. Remove squash, along with a little bit of water, with a large spoon.
  4. Blend until smooth.
  5. Divide between two bowls.


IMG_7990Quinoa Salad

As many of you know, I love quinoa. For reference:

Quinoa is a great source of protein and makes a great “filler” or replacement for meat in a lot of recipes, like burgers, chili, meatloaf, taco meat, etc.

I typically make a southwest-inspired quinoa salad. In addition, I’m also sharing my Mediterranean-inspired version, which reminds me of tabbouleh. However, traditional tabbouleh uses couscous, which is a simple carb (remember: we want to focus on consuming complex carbs like oats, beans, etc.), and quinoa is a plant-based protein. I recommend seeding cucumbers and tomatoes so you don’t end up with a watery salad.

IMG_7928Southwest Quinoa Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 10 oz. bag frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 15.25 oz. can reduced-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4.5 oz. can green chilies
  • A few splashes of extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar and lime juice
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • Cilantro to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • Garnish with green onions
  • Optional:
    • 1 cup lettuce
    • ¼ avocado
    • Extra protein of your choice (I recommend chicken or lean ground turkey.)

Instructions:

  1. Boil quinoa per package instructions.
  2. While quinoa is boiling, put the red pepper, corn kernels, black beans and green chilies in a large bowl.
  3. Add the extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, lime juice, cumin, cilantro and pepper, and toss well.
  4. Once the quinoa cools, add it to the mixture.
  5. Divide among four bowls, and feel free to garnish with green onions.

Mediterranean Quinoa SaladIMG_7927

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 16 oz. can chickpeas/garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
  • ¼ red onion, diced
  • 15 Kalamata olives, drained and diced
  • 7 oz. fat-free or reduced-fat feta cheese crumbles
  • A few splashes of extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar
  • Parsley to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • Optional:
    • 1 cup lettuce
    • Extra protein of your choice (recommend chicken)

Instructions:

  1. Boil quinoa per package instructions.
  2. While quinoa is boiling, put the chickpeas/garbanzo beans, tomatoes, cucumber red onion, olives and feta in a large bowl.
  3. Add the extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, parsley and pepper, and toss well.
  4. Once the quinoa cools, add it to the mixture.
  5. Divide among four bowls.

IMG_7925No Mayo Chicken or Tuna Salad

Last time I cleaned up a recipe that includes mayo, it was in my first WJBF appearance in July 2015. I made potato salad with nonfat plain Greek yogurt instead of mayo. Here’s a healthier spin on the classic chicken or tuna salad, which you can eat in a few different ways: on its own, in a whole wheat wrap or on whole wheat bread. Between the chicken or tuna and Greek yogurt, this dish is packed with protein!

Ingredients:

  • 6-5 oz. cans of tuna or 2 lbs. shredded chicken (2 or 3 breasts)
  • 1 ½ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon or coarse mustard
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • ¼ red onion
  • Pepper to taste
  • Optional:
    • 1 Tbsp. dill or sweet pickle relish
    • Whole wheat wrap or two pieces of wheat bread

Instructions:

  1. Place all ingredients into a large bowl, and toss until chicken or tuna is covered by yogurt.
  2. Makes about 4-6 servings.
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Thank you, Margaret-Ann Carter, for the wonderful compliment about my pride and joy – this blog!

charm

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