Saturday, April 10, 2010

New dietary challenges? Lighten up old comfort food recipes!

4/7/10 Cook’s Corner
Betty Kaiser

Mindless snacking is a way of life for many of us, myself included. A cookie here, a candy bar there or a burger and fries several times a week, can all wreak havoc with our caloric intake and special dietary needs. Packing on the pounds has never been easier than in this fast food generation.

We are especially aware of carbohydrate and sugar consumption at our house because my husband was a border-line diabetic for 30 years. Unfortunately, he is no longer border-line and must seriously toe the line with his diet. Fortunately, he is not overweight and he eats somewhat sensibly. Unfortunately, he has an active sweet tooth. Trying to keep that under control and still satisfy his craving for carbs and sweet stuff is a real challenge.

Between his diabetes and my weight watching, I seldom make dessert for the two of us. Instead, I often succumb to temptation and bring home a half-gallon of ‘light’ ice cream from the grocery store. In fact, I sat down to write this column with a small serving of (light!) butter pecan ice cream in one hand and a spoon in the other. Yep. It had been a stressful day.

If you have diabetes, you know that it’s a battle to keep your blood sugar in balance. Although there are many helpful resources out there, you’re the one who is ultimately responsible for what goes in your mouth. The key to successful healthy meals for all of us is moderation. So, if you’re very careful, you can even eat dessert in moderation. If you’re not careful, well, disaster lurks around the corner.

Desserts and meals heavy with carbohydrates are the common culprits to blame for raising one’s blood sugar. Too much of almost anything except celery and carrot sticks can make it spike. At our house we have found that controlling our carbohydrate intake through portion control is the hardest thing that we do.

So this month I’m making a concentrated effort to scale back on portions (especially at dinner) and trying to prepare some favorite old recipes with less calories. I’m challenging myself to find lighter but still tasty ways of preparing our favorite dishes.

The other night I was hungry for an old-fashioned beef pot pie. One of my cookbooks has a recipe that substantially reduces the fat and carbohydrate count of the original. The crust is prepared with only 3-4 tablespoons of margarine and is quite edible. The pie is a wonderful way to use leftover roast beef (although the recipe calls for stew meat) and any variety of vegetables that you have on hand.

I also found a great recipe for Apple Crisp that can be used not only with apples but also peaches or pears. Just change the spices to cinnamon and nutmeg. So if you’re facing new dietary challenges, don’t lose heart. Just get creative and check out healthy new ways of preparing your family’s old favorites. Enjoy!

Deep-Dish Beef Pie
New Dieter’s Cookbook

Nonstick spray coating
1 pound lean boneless beef for stew, trimmed of fat and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon cooking oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup turnip, peeled and cubed*
1-1/2 cups tomato juice
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme or basil, crushed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon flour
2 cups green beans
Pastry (recipe follows)
1 teaspoon skim milk

Spray a large skillet with nonstick coating. Preheat over medium-high heat. Brown half the meat in skillet. Remove. Add oil. Brown remaining meat. Return all meat to skillet.

Stir in onion, celery, carrots, potato, tomato juice, thyme, salt and pepper, and 1/4 cup water. Cover and simmer one hour or until meat is tender.

Combine flour and 2 tablespoons water. Stir into skillet mixture. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Stir in green beans. Spray a 1-1/2 quart casserole with non-stick coating and spoon meat mixture into dish. Cover with Pastry, flute edges. Brush with skim milk. Cut vents for steam.

Bake at 400° F. 30 minutes or until pastry is lightly browned and meat and vegetables are tender. Serves 6. Calories: 283 per serving.

*Note: I substituted one finely diced potato for the turnips and added a handful of frozen petit peas.

3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3-4 tablespoons margarine
3 tablespoons cold water

Combine flour and baking powder. Cut in margarine until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle with cold water, one tablespoon at a time, stirring with a fork until mixture holds together. Form into a ball. On a floured surface, roll dough into a circle one-inch larger than the top of the casserole. Flute the edges and cut fancy steam vents.

Apple Crisp
Diabetic Living

5 cups cooking apples, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons sugar or equivalent sugar substitute
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice
1/2 cup regular rolled oats
1/4 cup sugar or equivalent sugar substitute
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon apple pie spice
3 tablespoons butter
Frozen light whipped dessert topping, thawed

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Filling: In a large bowl combine apples, sugar substitute, lemon juice and apple pie spice. Transfer apple mixture to a 2-quart square baking dish.

Topping: In medium bowl, combine oats, sugar substitute, flour and apple pie spice. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle topping over filling.

Bake 30-35 min. or until apples are tender and topping is golden brown. Serve warm. If desired, top with whipped topping. Makes 8 (1/-cup) servings. Calories: 142 per serving.

Keep it simple and keep it seasonal!
Betty Kaiser’s Cook’s Corner is dedicated to sharing a variety of recipes 
that are delicious, family oriented and easy to prepare.

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