Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Recipe: Pesto Pizza

Let the culinary adventures continue! A student in my July session mentioned that she prepared Greek Pizza using pesto as her pizza base, rather than using a tomato-based sauce. I love pesto, but to bring down the calories and fat while still enjoying plenty of sauce, I experimented with adding pesto to white sauce. It was a huge hit with my family: Even my meat-loving son preferred it to the other pizzas we made that night.

Cook's Note: I used lowered-fat, reduced sodium canned condensed cream of chicken soup as my "white sauce" base, but if you prefer to make your own white sauce, it's easy to do: Combine 1 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of flour in a container with a lid, and shake well. Add the mixture to a saucepan with a teaspoon or two of butter or margarine. Cook on medium-high, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens (do not allow mixture to boil).

Pesto Pizza


1 (10.5-ounce) can lowered-fat, reduced sodium canned condensed cream of chicken soup (see Cook's Note)
3 tablespoons prepared pesto
2 pizza crusts
Pizza toppings, as desired (I used chopped poached chicken, diced eggplant, and diced tomato)
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese


Combine soup and pesto in small bowl. Spread half of mixture on each pizza. Layer with toppings and cheese. Cook, following pizza crust manufacturer's directions or pizza crust recipe. Buon appetito!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Recipe: Tiramisu

At the end of last school year, my daughter wrote a report titled "The Way Italians Eat," and we prepared tiramisu for her to share with her class. If you've taken my online class "Luscious," you know that desserts aren't my forte, and it won't come as a surprise to learn we used a recipe, which I'd never tried before.

I've only had tiramisu once before, but I still remembered it, and the recipe we prepared was a huge disappointment. So, I set to work developing a lighter tiramisu that stills offers the intense flavors of coffee and rum, blended with a sweet-tangy cream cheese filling.

This version satisfies, but it's much lower in fat and calories, thanks to Neufchatel cream cheese, fat-free Greek yogurt, fat-free angel food cake, and rum extract. Sugar substitute lowers calories and carbs. As an added bonus, Greek yogurt is low in carbs and high in protein, which helps maintain blood sugar levels.



1/2 cup hot water
2 tablespoons instant coffee
1 tablespoon sugar substitute
2 teaspoons imitation rum extract
12 ounces Neufchatel (reduced-fat) cream cheese
2 cups fat-free Greek yogurt
3/4 cup sugar substitute
8 ounces angel food cake
Cocoa powder, chocolate sprinkles, or shaved chocolate (optional)


Combine hot water, coffee, 1 tablespoon sugar substitute, and rum extract in a small bowl. Set aside.

Using a mixer, combine cream cheese, yogurt, and 3/4 cup sugar substitute in large bowl on medium speed until smooth (about 1 minute). Increase mixer speed to high and continue mixing for 5 minutes, scraping down sides once. Set aside.

Cut cake into 1/2" slices. Quickly dip both cut sides of cake into coffee mixture (don't soak!), then layer half of the slices in an 8" x 8" baking pan to cover the bottom of the pan.

Cover cake with 1/2 of the cream cheese mixture. Repeat layers, ending with cream cheese mixture. Chill for 4 - 6 hours.

Just before serving, sprinkle with cocoa powder, chocolate sprinkles, or chocolate shavings as a garnish, if desired.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Need a Little Motivation? Try a Power Hour!

Do you sometimes feel like you're swimming upstream when it comes to living healthfully? As we move through the middle of the year, it can be easy to start drifting from those January 1st resolutions to eat healthy, move more, get enough rest, manage stress, drink more water, and self-nurture.

One of the things I do to help me stay on track with weight management is to schedule what I call a "Power Hour" into my weekend. (If things are especially crazy, I'll schedule a "Power Half Hour" instead.) I light incense I find inspiring, then break out my planner. I then spend my hour reviewing my SMART goals for the year, the month, and the week.

How does this help me maintain my weight? First and foremost, my Power Hours are a time to reconnect with my values. One of the things I value is my health, so many of my goals express my intrinsic and extrinsic motivations for managing my weight.

A Power Hour is the perfect opportunity to reflect on what goals are working for me, and bask in my successes. It's also a time to reflect on what isn't working, and consider how I can do things differently and better.

Because our culture offers up so many distractions to good health, I find my Power Hours an essential tool for weight management. (Power Hours help me stay on track with other goals, too!) If you're not already enjoying a similar ritual, I encourage you to experiment with creating a Power Hour that works for you. Come back and let us know what you do, and how it goes!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Recipe: Lowered-Sodium Onion Dip

One of my facebook Friends recently requested a vegetable dip recipe. Personally, my favorite veggie dip is hummus, but my husband is fond of onion dip, made with dehydrated soup mix. I like the flavor of onion dip, but it's a high-sodium snack option: One cup of onion dip contains about 2,400 milligrams of sodium from the soup mix alone. Before the Super Bowl earlier this year, I experimented with a lowered-sodium version of onion dip. I use fat-free Greek yogurt because it's a good source of protein, which benefits my husband's blood sugar levels, but you can use fat-free or low-fat sour cream instead.

Lowered-Sodium Onion Dip


16 ounces fat-free Greek yogurt
1/4 cup dehydrated diced onion
3 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium Worchestershire sauce


Combine all ingredients in medium bowl. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving.