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HEALTHY HOME COOKING

by JoAnna M. Lund

Includes photo of JoAnna M. Lund

Welcome back into my kitchen where the cooking is easy and the food is both healthy and tasty! I have more cooking tips to share with you and a couple of recipe makeovers I’ve done for fellow readers. Hope you enjoy!!!

Shortcakes and other such fruit desserts are in full demand right now. Here’s an easy way to extend the flavor of purchased whipped topping so you can enjoy the flavor of whipped topping without the guilt. Blend together 3/4-cup plain fat-free yogurt and 1/3-cup nonfat dry milk powder. Add 1/4-cup Splenda or any sugar substitute to equal 1/4-cup sugar and 1/2-teaspoon vanilla extract. Mix well to combine. Gently fold in 1 cup of Cool Whip Lite or Free. Use as you would any whipped topping. The texture is almost a cross between marshmallow cream and whipped cream. This makes enough to mound high on a cream pie or to generously spoon over strawberry shortcake. What we’ve done for the same size serving is increase the calcium greatly and cut the oils of the whipped topping in half! Store in the refrigerator just as you would purchased whipped topping.

As the warm weather is only going to get warmer, I want to share a quick way to make lemonade that tastes just like homemade -- the kind your grandmother used to make. Use a purchased sugar-free dry lemonade mix, such as Crystal Light or Country Time and prepare it according to the package directions for two quarts. Slice 1/4 of a lemon into tiny pieces -- and be sure to leave the skin on and the seeds intact! Pour two cups of the liquid lemonade into a blender and add the lemon pieces. Cover and process on BLEND for 60 seconds or until the lemon almost -- but not quite -- disappears. Pour this mixture back into the pitcher, mix well, and serve in tall glasses filled with ice. When anyone asks, “you went to all the trouble to make real lemonade?”, be sure to flick a few drops of water on your forehead and reply, “yes I did. And if you’re nice to me, I’ll do it for you again tomorrow!”

You can easily make a “square pie” without having to make a graham cracker crust. This also is a great stand in for a purchased pie crust and is handy to know when supplies are short and drive time to the store is long. Simply line a 9-by-9-inch cake pan with nine (2-1/2-inch) graham crackers. Use whatever you have, be it regular, chocolate or whatever. Then, evenly spread a can of pie filling (Lucky Leaf No Sugar Added Cherry Pie Filling comes quickly to mind) over the top. Cover with foil and refrigerate. Allow about two hours for the moisture to work down to the crackers and form its own magic crust! This eliminates both the work and calories of the pie crust and still makes eight generous servings.

Low-fat cooking sprays are one of the wonders of the cooking world. I use olive oil-flavored spray anytime I’m cooking Italian, Greek or Mexican. And I use butter-flavored, not only for cooking, but also to coat hot ears of corn and for a quick spritz on air-popped popcorn. Regular-flavored can be used for general cooking. And, they’ve recently come out with a flour-coated cooking spray, ideal for baking. Now, if those manufacturers could only create both bacon- and caramel-flavored cooking sprays, we’d have it made!

The next time you want to enjoy a fruit shake with some pizzazz, just combine soda water and unsweetened fruit juice in a blender. Add crushed ice. Blend on HIGH until thick. Refreshment without guilt!

Did you know in most recipes that call for egg substitutes, you can use two egg whites in place of the equivalent of one egg substitute or 1/4-cup of substitute? Simply break the eggs open, use the white and toss the yolk away. I can hear some of you already saying: “but that’s wasteful!” Just look at the cost of the egg substitute package (that usually has the equivalent of four eggs in it) and then look at the price of a dozen eggs, in which you’d get the equivalent of six egg substitutes. Now, what’s wasteful!?!

Fat-free mayonnaise -- It’s creamy and it does work in binding salads together. But, because most of the flavor came from the fat, and now there’s no fat, we have to think of new ways to put some life back into it. A few of the methods I use (not all at the same time, of course) are: add prepared or Dijon mustard; add prepared horseradish sauce; add lemon juice and sugar substitute; add salsa; add chili or taco seasoning mix. Let your imagination have fun. What have you got to lose? Only calories and fat grams. What do you have to gain? Lots of flavor without lots of fat!

Now for our Recipe Makeovers

CM of IL, sent me a wonderful main dish to lighten up. I loved this healthy version I came up with, but as Cliff (my truck drivin’ husband) doesn’t care for broccoli, when I prepared it for him, I substituted a (15-ounce) can of cut green beans instead. But, don’t let his opinion keep you from trying this, because the broccoli is a great addition!

Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo

Ingredients:
1/2 cup chopped onion
1-1/2 cups chopped fresh or frozen broccoli, thawed
1-1/2 cups diced cooked chicken breast
2 cups cooked fettuccine noodles, rinsed and drained
1 (10-3/4-ounce) can Healthy Request Cream of Chicken Soup
1 (2.5-ounce) jar sliced mushrooms, undrained
1 (2-ounce) jar chopped pimiento, undrained
1/4 cup Land-O-Lakes no-fat sour cream
1/2 cup grated reduced-fat Kraft Parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions:
In a large skillet sprayed with butter-flavored cooking spray, saute onion and broccoli for 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in chicken and fettuccine. Add chicken soup, undrained mushrooms, and undrained pimiento. Mix well to combine. Fold in sour cream, Parmesan cheese, and black pepper. Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until mixture is heated through, stirring occasionally. HINTS: (1) 1-1/2 cups broken uncooked fettuccine usually cooks to about 2 cups. (2) If you don't have leftovers, purchase a chunk of cooked chicken breast from your local deli and dice when you get home. (3) Chopped reduced-fat ham instead of chicken also works well.

Serves four (1-1/4 cups each.) Each serving equals: 264 calories, 4 gm fat, 25 gm protein, 32 gm carbohydrate, 575 mg sodium, 4 gm fiber; Diabetic Exchanges: 3 meat, 1-1/2 starch, 1 vegetable.

NA of CO, asked me to whip one of her favorite desserts into shape. After one bite of my version, you just might be saying, "Ooh la la!" By the way, my version was less than half the calories, fats and carbos, so maybe we should shout Ooh la la again!!!

French Apple Streusel Pie

Ingredients:
3 cups (6 small) cored, peeled, and sliced cooking apples
1-1/2 teaspoons apple pie spice
1 cup Bisquick Reduced-Fat Baking Mix
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons Splenda Granular
1/2 cup fat-free milk
2 eggs or equivalent in egg substitute
1 tablespoon Land-O-Lakes no-fat sour cream
1/4 cup chopped pecans
4 teaspoons I Can't Believe It's Not Butter light margarine

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 9-inch pie plate with butter-flavored cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine apple slices and apple pie spice. Evenly spoon mixture into prepared pie plate. In same bowl, combine 3/4-cup baking mix, 1/2-cup Splenda, milk, eggs, and sour cream. Mix well until blended. Spread mixture evenly over apple slices. In a medium bowl, combine remaining 1/4-cup baking mix, remaining 2 tablespoons Splenda, and pecans. Add margarine. Mix well, using a pastry mixer or fork until mixture is crumbly. Evenly sprinkle crumb mixture over top. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean. Place pie plate on a wire rack and let set for at least 15 minutes. Cut into 8 pieces.
HINT: 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger may be used in place of "apple pie spice."

Serves eight. Each serving equals: 146 calories, 6 gm fat, 4 gm protein, 19 gm carbohydrate, 233 mg sodium, 2 gm fiber; Diabetic Exchanges: 1 fruit, 1 fat, 1/2 starch

I hope you enjoyed our time together in the kitchen. Remember, if you'd like me to revise one of your family favorites, to make it healthier, send your request to: JoAnna Lund, C/O VOICE OF THE DIABETIC, 1421 1-70 Drive SW, Suite C, Columbia, MO 65203. Also, be sure to visit my Web site at www.healthyexchanges.com for more "common folk" healthy recipes to try. Until next time . . .