A few weeks ago, I purchased whole wheat flour and oat bran at Trader Joe’s and since then, I’ve been remaking my favorite quick bread and muffin recipes to increase fiber and decrease fat. Zucchini Bread is my most recent target. Awhile ago, I posted the Zucchini Bread recipe handed down to me by my mother that I’ve been using since the early eighties. It’s great: sweet, moist, and flavorful. But it’s loaded with sugar and butter and calls for only bleached flour. If you’re in the mood for something a little healthier, try this version instead. It packs as much flavor but the pleasure comes without the guilt.
Healthier Zucchini Bread 2 medium loaves
2 cups grated zucchini
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose (bleached) flour
1/2 cup oat bran
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Spray 2 9′ x 5′ baking pans with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In a medium bowl, beat eggs until foamy. Add sugar, zucchini, oil, applesauce and vanilla. Mix lightly but well (with a spoon).
2. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients.
3. Add dry ingredients to egg mixture (in batches) until blended. Don’t over mix.
4. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans.
With the intention of creating heart-healthy, low-sodium, nutritious dishes, I bring you a white bean soup with kale. I’ve described it as creamy, but there is no cream. The creaminess comes from puréeing the beans themselves. To make this a vegan dish, simply swap out the chicken stock for vegetable stock. This recipe is also gluten-free (as long as the stock you use is gluten free). I’m eating it right now and it is totally hitting the spot. The heartiness of the puréed beans makes bread an unnecessary companion, which is good, since I’m trying to avoid that too.
You can garnish this soup with grated Parmesan cheese and certainly season it with additional salt, but since we’re cutting back on salt and fat, I’ve left out both.
Creamy White Bean Soup with Kale
1 lb of dried Great Northern Beans
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups diced onions
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, chopped or diced
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped finely
5-6 cups low-salt chicken stock
3/4 of a bunch of kale (I used curly kale)
Freshly ground pepper
1. Rinse and sort beans. In a large stockpot, cover with water (about 6 cups) and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let sit 1 hour. This is the quick replacement for soaking overnight. Once they are soaked, drain the water.
2. In a large stockpot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and carrots and sautée gently until softened and golden, about 15 minutes. (Watch heat carefully to ensure onions don’t brown too much).
3. Add rosemary and sauée 1 minute. Add beans, then add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce and simmer for about 20 minutes (unless your beans were really tender, in which case, you may be able to simmer for as little as 10 minutes).
4. While soup is simmering, blanch the kale. Here’s how. Trim stems off of the kale leaves by folding them in half and slicing along the spine of the stem. Bring a small amount of water to a boil. Add kale and boil for 2 minutes. Rinse with cold water. Pat dry on paper towels and cut kale into small, bite-size pieces. Set aside.
5. Once the beans have simmered long enough to be fork tender, purée the soup in batches in a blender and then return it to the pot. Reheat and add most of the kale. Save a few pieces of kale for garnish. Pepper to taste. Serve immediately or chill and reheat later.
Okay, I’m officially back on a health kick, which is why I’ve been blogging a little less frequently lately. I actually go to the gym now! But, I’m determined to eat delicious, healthy dishes and am eager to share them all with you, so here we go. Today’s installment is a seared halibut with mashed potatoes and kale chips. Now, I didn’t totally skimp on the ingredients here. I use real butter and olive oil and even whole milk in the mashed potatoes – one could substitute skim milk, cooking spray and so on, but my strategy is to eat flavorful foods but be careful with the portions and to choose foods that have tons of vitamins and minerals and aren’t high in bad fat. We’ll see if it works.
The sauce below breaks some rules because I needed to use ingredients that were on hand. The good news is that it turned out great anyway. Normally, I would have used heavy cream and wine and so on, but I didn’t have any of either, so I used chicken stock and whole milk instead and to my delight, the sauce thickened up nicely and was flavorful too. Again this sauce could easily be tweaked. You could take out the mustard and put in sour cream and paprikah instead or you could keep the mustard and also add capers or olives. I just love mustard and leeks, so that’s how I did it.
Pan Seared Halibut with Leek-Dijon Sauce Serves 4
4 Halibut fillets about 1/2 lb each
Salt and pepper
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chicken stock or white wine
1/2 cup whole milk
1 Tbsp butter
1 leek, trimmed and finely chopped
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1. Season halibut fillets with salt and pepper and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together mustard, olive oil, chicken stock, and milk. Set aside.
2. Heat about 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large sautée pan over medium-high heat. Add fillets to the pan and sautée on one side for about 3 minutes. Flip carefully and sautée for another 3-5 minutes. If the fillets are very thick, they may take a little longer, but be careful not to overcook them. They should flake with a fork and be just opaque (maybe even a little teeny bit translucent in the very middle depending on your taste). Remove to a warmed plate.
3. Add butter to the same pan. Add leeks and sautée gently until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the milk and mustard mixture. Simmer over medium heat until thickened, about 5 minutes. Grate lemon zest over the sauce and squeeze about a Tbsp of lemon juice into the sauce. Stir to mix. Spoon sauce over fish (and mashed potatoes) and serve immediately.
Creamy Leek Mashed Potatoes Serves 4
4 Yukon Gold Potatoes
Salt and pepper
1 leek trimmed and chopped finely
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup whole milk or more
1. Peel potatoes and cut into one-inch pieces. Boil for about 15 minutes or until fork tender. In the meantime, melt butter over medium heat in a medium sautée pan. Add leeks and sautée until softened and slightly browned, about 4-5 minutes. Spoon into large bowl. Drain potatoes into same bowl. Add milk and mash either with hand masher or electric hand mixer. Season with salt and pepper.
Kale Chips Serves 4
4 large leaves of Dino Kale (curly leaf kale can work too)
1 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt to taste
1. Preheat oven to 400˚F or use your convection setting and preheat it to 375˚F.
2. Wash and dry kale leaves. I left the stems on mine, but it really is better to remove them, because they remain tough and stringy while the rest of the pieces of kale becomes paper thin and crispy. Remove a stem by folding the kale in half and cutting away the stem.
3. Brush kale leaves with olive oil and season with fresh ground sea salt. Lay them side by side on a cookie sheet and bake for about 5 minutes. Flip them over and bake for another 5-7 minutes or until leaves are slightly browned, paper thin and crispy. Serve immediately as garnish over the fish.