Happy Fall Y’all! I can’t believe it's that time of year already, but alas, here it is. Now that we are pretty deep into the fall season, we find ourselves spending more time inside the house don't we? And when the time changes next month and we lose that precious hour of fading daylight it will be even more so.
Our daily habits are a lot of times related to the time of year it is and especially can be dictated by the weather outside. So as it gets colder and darkness comes earlier we find our evening routines changing dramatically. One thing that seems to change big time is the way we eat and even prepare dinner. I think you would agree with me that throwing some chicken on the grill for dinner sounds a lot more appealing when it’s 76 degrees and sunny than when it is 45 degrees and dark outside — and it’s only 6:00p.m.
So while there are brave souls out there who do not mind shivering around the grill waiting for the meat to get done, the majority of us tend to start turning to the oven or crockpot for dinner. And when the temperature drops we tend to turn to what we call comfort foods — foods that make us feel warm and cozy. Unfortunately, this usually means high-calorie, high-carbohydrate foods like casseroles, mashed potatoes and gravy, stews, mac and cheese, etc. And unlike a hot summer day, we don’t give it a second thought to put the oven on to bake something sweet and you know what that means. Tempting cookies, cakes, brownies, and other warm desserts.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to some of these dishes from time to time, but if you can take a recipe and make it healthier I say, “Why not?” Taste of Home’s used to have a magazine called, “Light and Tasty” from which I found some recipes that have become favorites. So, in honor of the season that we now find ourselves in, I would like to share with you a couple of those “healthier” recipes that my family really enjoys. I hope you enjoy them too!
Chicken with Jalapeño Sauce - 4 servings (Sauce is very mild)
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 oz. each)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese, cubed
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
3 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 cups hot cooked rice
Sprinkle chicken with salt. In a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, brown chicken in oil on both sides.
Add the onions, broth, jalapeños and cumin. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat: cover and simmer for 5-7 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 170°. Remove chicken and keep warm.
Stir cream cheese and sour cream into onion mixture until blended. Stir in tomatoes; heat through.
Serve with chicken and rice.
Tomato Corn Toss - 3 - 3/4 cup servings
1 medium tomato, diced
1 - 2 banana peppers, seeded and chopped (banana peppers are not hot)
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon Adobo seasoning
2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1 tablespoon butter
In a 1-quart microwave-safe dish, combine the tomato, peppers, water and seasoning. Cover and microwave on high for 1 minute: stir. Cook 1 minute longer.
Stir in corn and butter. Cover and microwave for 2-3 minutes or until heated through and butter is melted.
Makeover White Texas Sheet Cake - 20 servings
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup butter, cubed
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup reduced-fat butter
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons fat-free milk
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts, toasted
In a large saucepan, bring butter and water just to a boil. Immediately remove from the heat; stir in the flour, sugar, eggs, sour cream, applesauce, salt, baking powder, extract and baking soda until smooth.
Pour into a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan coated with nonstick cooking spray.
Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes.
FOR FROSTING, in a small mixing bowl, beat butter ad extract until smooth. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar. Add milk; beat until smooth. Spread over warm cake; sprinkle with walnuts. Cool completely. (Tastes even better the next day.)
Now it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t include a recipe that had pumpkin in it. Why? Because it seems like EVERYTHING right now is all about the pumpkin right? Fall = Pumpkin I do believe. So here’s a recipe that I am sure you will love.
Low-fat Pumpkin Muffins - makes 12 - 18 muffins
1 box Spice cake mix
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (I like to add extra cinnamon)
1/2 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
Combine dry cake mix with rest of ingredients. Mix with beaters for approximately 2 min. Batter will be really thick. Line muffin tin with paper baking cups. Scoop muffin mix into cups. Muffin cups will be almost full but they won’t overflow.
Bake at 350° for 15 - 18 min.
Well, if you try these recipes you will see (and taste) that healthier cooking can taste good too! If you have some favorite dishes that you like to make when the weather turns colder, take a look at them. Use your imagination and experiment to find ways to create a healthier version such as:
- Reducing the amount of fat, sugar, and salt.
- Eliminate or cut back on some of the not so healthy ingredients.
- Find a healthy substitution.
So here’s to a happy and healthy fall season to you. Bundle up and take a walk outside amidst the beautiful fall colors. Eat some hearty but healthier foods.Your family won’t notice the difference but your health sure will!