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Week of August 23, 2009

There are many common methods used to cook fish that can be healthy for you.

Grilled Fish

The sturdier and fattier fish, including grouper, salmon, tuna, swordfish, and shark, grill beautifully. Make sure that your grill is very clean and oil it lightly before adding the fish. Then leave the fish alone! If the grill is properly preheated and prepared, the fish will develop a nice crust and will release when cooked. For more delicate fish fillets, using a grill basket will make grilling any type of fish much easier. Just be sure to remove the fish from the basket as quickly as possible so it doesn't stick. I like Nigella Lawson's method for cooking thinner fillets on the grill; she simply puts a sheet of heavy duty foil on the grill and cooks the fish on that. Don't cover the grill as the fish is cooking; the cover traps too much of the smoke and overseasons the flesh.

Steamed Fish

A bamboo steamer is a great investment if you like this method of cooking fish. To steam fish, place water or stock in a large saucepan and add seasoning ingredients; everything from lemons to ginger will work. Bring the liquid to a simmer, place the fish in the steamer(s) and place over the simmering water. Do not let the liquid boil; this will cook the fish too quickly and it could overcook in seconds.

Microwaved Fish

The microwave oven will cook fish very well as long as you follow a few rules. First, make sure that you rotate the fish halfway through the cooking time so the fish cooks evenly. If the fillets are of uneven thickness, fold the thinner parts under each other so the fish is about the same thickness throughout. And standing time is very important; let the dish stand on a flat surface according to the recipe so the food finishes cooking.

Broiled Fish

Broiled fish can be really delicious, especially if you season the fish well before cooking. Be sure to preheat the broiler before adding the fish. Make sure the fish is 4-6" away from the broiler and watch carefully. Thinner fillets (1/2") probably won't have to be turned over; thicker fillets (1") should be carefully turned halfway through cooking.

Roasted Fish

Baking at a high oven temperature really concentrates the flavors of fish and helps the sugars on the surface caramelize for superior flavor. Roasting is baking at temperatures above 400 degrees F. You can season the fish with just about anything you like before roasting.

Poached Fish

Fish is poached in a flavored liquid called a court bouillon. Just about any aromatic herb or vegetable can be used in the poaching liquid. There's one important rule for poaching: do not let the water boil! The liquid should be barely simmering. If the water boils the outside of the fish will overcook quickly.

Crockpot Fish

Most crockpot recipes call for adding the fish toward the end of cooking time. At high temperatures, 1" pieces of fish will cook in about half an hour. Be sure to carefully follow the recipe instructions when cooking fish in a crockpot or slow cooker.

Baked Fish

Baking is one of the easiest ways to cook fish. Just follow the recipe instructions for cooking, covering, and standing times.

Sauteed Fish

Using just a little bit of olive oil and making sure to preheat the pan are the two tips for a perfectly sauteed piece of fish. Also remember to let the fish cook undisturbed for 2-3 minutes to develop a nice crust. Be sure not to crowd the fish; cook it in batches rather than overcrowd the pan. The best way to saute thin fillets is to cook over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes, then turn, cook for another minute or two, then remove the pan from heat and let the residual heat cook the fish. Cook thick fillets 5-6 minutes on the first side, then reduce heat to medium and cook for 4-5 minutes longer.

En Papillote

Cooking fish encased in parchment paper or foil is a wonderful way to get the best results. The paper or foil holds in the moisture, concentrates the flavor, and protects the delicate flesh. Follow the folding and cooking instructions carefully. The packets can be cooked in the oven or on the grill.

Week of August 12, 2009

Bread It

Are you dreaming of breaded fish, chicken or pork chops? It's ok. Here are a few ideas to liven up your oven fried cooking repertoire.

The recipes below yield 1 to 1 1/2 cups coating. This will be enough for 1 whole cut up chicken, 6 chicken breast halves or 6 (4 ounce fish fillets).

To coat and bake chicken (with or without skin - no skin of course has less fat) or fish, dip in (1) skim milk. For a heavier coating, dip in flour first, then in milk and then into the coating. Place in baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking oil spray and bake.

Cooking times:
Chicken pieces - 400 degrees for 55 to 60 minutes or until juices run clear
Chicken breasts - 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until no longer pink in center
Fish fillets - 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until fish flakes with tines of a fork

Lemon Pepper
1 cup plain bread crumbs
3 teaspoons lemon-pepper seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dried dill weed (not seed)

Cornmeal
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning
2 teaspoons garlic salt

Potato
1 1/2 cup mashed potato flakes
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Corn Flakes
1 cup crushed corn flake crumbs
2 tablespoons dried Cajun seasoning
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

Seasoning blends can be stored in airtight containers in the pantry except for those that contain Parmesan cheese and that must be stored in the refrigerator.

Feel free to experiment with your own favorite flavors like taco seasoning mix, cumin or curry. Also switch out Panko (Asian bread crumbs) for regular bread crumbsa or corn flake crumbs.

Week of Auguest 9, 2009

Don't have special seasonings in your cupboard? Don't worry, you make your own blend from common sesonings that most people keep on hand.

Cajun Seasoning Mix

Makes about 4 Tablespoons

2 teaspoons white pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons ground black pepper

In the container of a blender or food processor, combine all the ingredients, and process on high speed until reduced to a fine powder.

Transfer to a container with a tight fitting lid and use as desired.

COOKS NOTE: If you are sensitive to heat, lessen the cayenne pepper.

Week of August 2, 2009

Fruit Flavored Vinaigrettes

I just love the sweet sour flavors of fruit flavored vinaigrettes. Here is a simple one that utilizes strawberry jam for the sweet.

Strawberry Vinaigrette
Serves 4

2 teaspoons strawberry jam
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Place jam in a medium bowl and whisk in vinegar then extra-virgin olive oil. Season the dressing with salt and pepper.


Per Serving: 83 Calories; 8g Fat (88.7% calories from fat); 1g Saturated Fat; trace Protein; 2g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 1mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Fruit; 1 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.

COOKS NOTE: This is great served over a strawberry and spinach salad. Add a little feta and red onion and you have quite a salad. You might want to experiment with other flavors jam flavors for variations.


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