Don’t let holidays weigh you down
Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 19, 2015
Holiday eating can blow the most well-intentioned diets, but with just a few tweaks favorite recipes can become healthier.
“To make a recipe healthier, use everything lite,” the Merit Health River Region executive chef John Pelton said on Wednesday during the Healthy Woman Lunch Program that was held at the hospital on U.S. 61.
“You can use light sour cream, light cream cheese and light cheddar cheese and when using some light varieties you will not notice a difference, but you will be cutting half the calories and half the fat,” he said.
Pelton however warned not to use fat free cheeses because they will not melt.
More than 40 women turned out for the program, which included cooking demonstrations by Pelton and a lunch menu of the recipes he prepared.
“This is one of our outreach programs for women of all ages and the purpose is that women are the primary decision makers for health care,” the director of marketing corporate programs, Leigh White said.
Participant Evelyn Jackson said she saw the free program advertised in the newspaper and since she was working towards leading an improved lifestyle, she decided to attend.
“I am trying to begin a healthier life and anytime you can get a recipe to help your health it is good,” Jackson said.
During the program, Pelton demonstrated a Christmas Pasta recipe that included using chicken breasts and turkey sausage.
“The pasta was really good and I thought the program was very informative. I like to listen to him (Pelton) on all his healthy ideas for cooking,” participant Diane Curd said, adding she was definitely going to try it at home.
For recipes calling for beef, Pelton suggested using ground turkey or veal, which are healthier meat choices.
Pelton shared his recipes with participants, which included the Christmas Pasta, Spinach Artichoke Dip and Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Meatballs.
Cooked penne pasta (Pelton used tricolor pasta)
Cooked chicken breasts
Diced tomatoes, chopped parsley
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and top with Parmesan cheese.
Spinach Artichoke Dip
1 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained, finely chopped
1 Package (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, well drained
¾ Cup grated parmesan Cheese
¾ Cup light mayonnaise
½ Cup shredded mozzarella cheese
½ Teaspoon garlic powder
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients and spoon into a 9-inch quiche dish or pie plate. Bake for 20 minutes or until heated completely. Serve with vegetables or whole grain crackers.
Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Meatballs
1-pound ground chicken
¾ Cup plain breadcrumbs
1 large egg
½ Teaspoon garlic powder
½ Teaspoon onion powder
2 Green onions, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¾ Cup buffalo sauce
¼ Cup blue cheese dressing
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone-baking mat. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine ground chicken, breadcrumbs, egg, garlic and onion powders and green onions, season with salt and pepper. Using a wooden spoon or clean hands, stir until well combined. Roll the mixture into 1 ¼ to 1 ½ -inch meatballs, forming about 24 meatballs.
Place meatballs onto prepared baking sheet and bake for four to five minutes or until all sides are browned. Place meatballs into a slow cooker and add buffalo sauce and gently toss to combine.
Cover and cook on low heat for two hours. Serve immediately and drizzle with blue cheese dressing, if desired.