Category Archives: Healthy n’ Mo Better

Grilled Marinated Pork Loin Chops with recipe for Tangy Gold BBQ Sauce

Lean with a healthy slant, this is a recipe to sink your teeth into.

Did you know pork loin is America’s most popular lean meat? Well, other than chicken, neither did I. And, marinating thick chops are one of our favorite way to flavor this cut of pork as well as putting it on the grill.

The loin roast comes from the upper part area of the hog between the shoulder and the start of the leg. The loin roast is delicious when marinated and grilled quickly over direct heat. For a crisp surface on your chop, be sure the grill is fully preheated before placing the chops on the rack. Of note, if cooking pork loin chops on the stove, again, be sure to use medium high heat. Because of the connecting fibers, these chops should not be braised or stewed as they have a tendency to lose tenderness when cooked by means of moist heat.

Now, according to wiki-how, “the USDA recommends cooking pork to 160 degrees,” that is, if you prefer tough meat, “but it is perfectly safe to cook American pork to 145 degrees. Trichina dies out at 137, and most other ones die at around 140. For those outside American soil, you should probably cook your pork well.”

Enough of all that. I don’t know how many times I have used this marinade on pork chops nor guess how many more times I will in the future. I know it will be many more good eatings.

Tender, juicy and full of flavor, these chops with or without the tangy sauce is spectacular. Hope you get your grill out and get to cooking soon. Enjoy!

Grilled Marinated Pork Loin Chops
glazed with Tangy Gold BBQ Sauce
4 servings

3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon low-sodium Worcestershire
1/2 teaspoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
4 -1 1/2 to 2 inch thick boneless pork loin chops
Tangy Gold BBQ Sauce -see below

Combine all marinade ingredients in a container or sealable bag and let marinate for 1 to 2 hours refrigerated. Remove from refrigerator and let rest about 30 minutes before grilling.

Heat grill to high heat. Place chops directly over flame and after first sear marks appear on both sides (about 2 minutes each side) reduce heat to medium heat or move away from direct heat. Begin glazing with the Tangy Gold BBQ Sauce. Move chops further away from heat if the sauce darkens too much. You want to coat with several layers of the glaze for a really outstanding taste.

Grill until internal temperature reaches desired range (140 to 155 depending on taste and location). Remove from grill, tent with foil and allow chops to rest for about 10 minutes before cutting or serving. Remember, meat will rise in temperature about 5 degrees after removing from heat source as long as it is tinted.

Tangy Gold BBQ Sauce

A well bodied, full flavored table sauce for pork, poultry, game, fish and seafood – also great for glazing on BBQ or Grilled foods
makes about 1 cup

1 cup yellow prepared mustard
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
4-5 tablespoons Splenda Brown Sugar Blend (or 1/2 cup brown sugar)*
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons whole grain Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 tablespoon fresh cracked black pepper
3/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 tablespoon cayenne
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon chili powder

Mix ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sauce just begins to simmer. Reduce heat and cook stirring often until sauce is reduced in half or thickens to desired consistency. Serve cool or warm.

*Adjust Splenda Blend or brown sugar to taste. To me, Splenda Brown Sugar Blend is sweeter in strength compared with regular brown sugar using the equivalent amount.

You can store sauce in a sealed jar refrigerated for a several weeks.

Oven Baked Vegetable Spears

Crusted Vegetable Sticks Baked to Perfection.

Yeah, I know. There are way too many recipes for oven-baked asparagus, green beans and zucchini spears, but this one is different. It is my concoction, my way of doing it. A recipe that not only taste good but is good for you too.

You see, I made hamburgers the past weekend (okay, not so good for us but I did use whole wheat buns, okay?) and we just could not go the usual potato fries, not even baked. Nope – rarely do we eat potatoes anymore and when we do, it is gonna be one loaded dish, really good but bad. So instead, I opted for baked vegetable sticks. Now this recipe is, like I said, one that is good for you in the sense that it uses much better ingredients than most bake ‘fried’ vegetable recipes. It is one that I tweaked to our liking.

Give it a try. It is one which I will make many times over now that I have perfected it. Enjoy!

Oven Baked Vegetable Spears
I list a few ingredients with my version and an option for those not dieting
serves 4

quarter pound each of fresh whole green bean and fresh zucchini
half pound of fresh asparagus spears
1/2 cup whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Egg-Beaters or 2 whole eggs
1 1/2 tablespoon low-fat mayonnaise or  regular mayo
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 teaspoon no-salt Cajun or Creole seasoning, divided
1 teaspoon low-salt seasoning blend (I like Badia Completa), divided
1/3 cup Japanese Panko, see note

Wash the green beans and trim the ends. Wash the asparagus and snap at natural breaking point removing the tough root end. Soak in ice water for about 15 minutes. Remove, drain and completely pat dry. Was the zucchini and cut away the ends; cut into strips about the same size as the green beans.

Using three wide shallow bowls, add the flour and half of the seasonings to one. Whisk the egg with the mayo in the 2nd bowl. Mix the Parmesan, sesame seeds, the remaining half of seasonings and Panko in the 3rd bowl.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Position wire racks on two baking pans. Spray with vegetable oil. DO NOT SKIP the coating of the racks. Dip the vegetable sticks in the flour, dip in the egg mixture and roll in the Panko mixture to coat. Place on the racks, not touching and place into the oven, center rack.

Reduce oven to 350 and bake about 15 minutes or until brown. Remove and serve warm

I served these with a Chipotle low-fat mayo combo sauce and a low-fat Ranch type dipping sauce.

Note: Panko is a better coating and is healthier than regular breadcrumbs, here’s why:

  • Panko is a Japanese breadcrumb made from bread without crusts. It has a crisper, airier texture than most types of breadcrumbs.
  • Panko stays crisp after cooking, unlike other types of breading, which can get soggy.
  • Panko is lower in calories, sodium, and fat and higher in fiber than regular breadcrumbs.

Grilled Dijon Chicken with Lemon Herb Sop

Moist, tender and flavorful – almost healthy!

It has always interested me from where foodstuff comes. The main element of the marinade for this grilled chicken recipe is without exception. Dijon mustard appeared in the south as did many other condiments and spices, by way of the French settlers in the early 1700’s. And like so many good things from Europe, it comes from Monks, of the Catholic faith. The church brought us this fine grained mustard from the area of St. Germain des Pres in 10th century for all to enjoy, though, I suspect it was for profit. By the 13th century, Dijon France became the dominating source for this luxurious mustard type.

Now, I started this recipe post with the words almost healthy because it is almost fat free with the exception of what little fat remains on the chicken after grilling. With the skin removed, we give up a heck of fat calories and some would say flavor too. But, I think this sop makes up for the missing flavor, and calories. I know it sure made me feel better about eating it. Enjoy!

Grilled Dijon Chicken with Lemon Herb Sop
serves 4

4 large bone-in chicken breasts, skin removed
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard with wine
1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons Montreal chicken seasoning (25% less sodium)
1/4 cup margarine
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons water
2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon crushed dried tarragon
1/2 teaspoon crushed dried thyme

Mix the two mustard together along with the pepper. Rub all over the chicken breast. Season with the Montreal seasoning. Refrigerate for 4 hours.

Remove chicken and allow to set about 15 minutes before grilling.

Make the sop by combining remaining ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat. Use this sop on the chicken the latter part of grilling or at the first notice that the surface is drying out. If you run out of sop before chicken is ready, it’s okay. The sop is meant to seal in the juices as well as add flavor.

Heat grill to 325 degrees and slow cook the chicken on the cooler side of the heat source. I moved the chicken over to the heat from time to time as I basted. Cooking time was about 1:30 hrs. to reach the internal temp of 165 degrees F.

Squash and Tomato Tian

Summer Fresh means Good n’ Healthy

Layered summer vegetables in a casserole is nothing new but in our household, a dish without a sauce or filling, or a vegetable pie without a crust is very much new. Heck, a side dish without butter causes eyebrows to rise with the mere mention of lack of such.

This is a take on an old southern garden favorite featuring the bounty of fresh, summer vegetables without using a crust, any butter or a binder such as mayo or heavy cream. In other words, it is a much healthier option version of a Tomato and Squash Pie and it’s taste is outstanding; a real bonus when you are watching carbs and calories. A classic casserole truer to southern kitchens made a while back melding tomatoes with yellow squash is my Squash and Tomato Wonder. Other pies include  Tomato PieTomato Spinach Pie, Fresh Corn and Tomato Pie and Vidalia Onion Pie.

Enjoy!

Healthy Squash and Tomato Tian
serves 4

4 small yellow squash
3 medium vine ripe tomatoes
1 small Vidalia onion
salt
extra virgin olive oil
salt-free seasoning
1 tablespoon minced crisp bacon
2 tablespoon part-skim milk cheese blend

Slice squash, tomatoes and onions uniformly in quarter-inch disks. Lay on double thick paper towels. Lightly sprinkle the top with salt.
 

 
Allow to set at least an hour to draw away liquid. Lay another layer of paper towel on top to absorb liquid and wipe away moisture and salt.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large 10-inch pie plate, add enough olive oil to coat bottom. Add layers of squash, onion and tomatoes. Give a light sprinkle of seasoning and add the bacon. Repeat with a second layer of vegetables and seasoning. Drizzle with olive oil. Follow topping with the cheese.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until cheese starts to brown. Serve hot.

Roasted Green Beans and Vidalias with Apple Reduction

Perfect Side Dish for Entertaining.

There are so many good side dishes we are enjoying this time of year thanks to just harvested, fresh vegetables. So many of which go well with our favorite pastime; that is time spent on the patio while grilling or barbecuing. This dish along with a good cold, creamy pasta or potato salad, and maybe roasted corn, is about all we need to serve while enjoying our love for outdoor entertaining,

I have made a similar reduction before or a recipe using similar ingredients in a gravy for fried pork chops. This time, I chose to make it (less calorie redux) for a flavorful addition using two of my favorites this time of year: Fresh green beans and Vidalia onions. Enjoy!

Roasted Green Beans with Sweet Vidalia Onions
and served with a wonderful Southern Apple Reduction
4 servings

1 1/2 pounds fresh green beans, ends trimmed
1/2 Vidalia or sweet onion, sliced into vertical strips
2 garlic toes, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 sweet cooking apple, such as Gala, peeled and 1/4-inch diced
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
pinch of sugar or Splenda
1 tablespoon margarine
1 tablespoon real bacon bits, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Wash the green beans, pat dry and for ease, cut with kitchen shears into 1 1/2-inch lengths. Place into a bowl along with the onions and garlic. Toss with the olive oil and add a little salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes or until beans wilt and begin to roast. Do not let the garlic burn. Remove to a serving dish and keep warm.

Meanwhile, place apple, chicken stock, vinegar, thyme, paprika and Splenda in a small saucepan and heat over medium high. Reduce down to about 1/4-cup; remove from heat and strain sauce into a small bowl mashing the solids with the backside of a spoon to render as much sauce as possible. Discard the solids. Add sauce back to saucepan and reduce to about 2 tablespoons. Add margarine and when heated, remove from heat.

Before serving, drizzle sauce over green beans and sprinkle with bacon bits if desired. Serve immediately.

recipe by +drick perry

Spinach Stuffed Catfish or Tilapia Roll

Uptown Catfish.

Much earlier in time, way back in my youth, as oppose to now-a-days living here in the ‘big’ city, I grew up in a small town atmosphere where life was ever so simple, or so it seemed as a child. I remember, even though we used the term ‘city’ to describe the town, it was not; think along the lines of a metropolis Mayberry. The town’s main commerce pretty much consisted of the central street running from the train depot and underpass to the courthouse up on the hill. Now, down the hill near the depot were many stores including my uncle’s hardware store and across the street was one of our favorite eateries that served many of the townsfolk. I remember several birthday parties there as well as many lunches with Uncle ‘Punch’ and my Grand-daddy ‘Cotton’. This area of course was known as downtown. And, up on the hill, near the courthouse and county’s governing seat was another uncle’s storefront and across from that, a corner eatery where I too enjoyed many lunchtime meals. This of course was called uptown and there were storefronts lining the street there too, but also many lawyers and ‘uptown’ folks. And right dab in the center, conveniently located for everyone was the local bank. Now I must mention that to get from downtown to uptown took all of five minutes; walking that is. It was much faster in a car, including being held up at the stop-lights.

I also remember pretty much everyone in the city eating fish on Friday’s. I am not for sure why, it wasn’t because of religion, not that we were not a religious town, just not Catholic. Grandmother normally served bream like bluegill or shellcracker, or what-ever had been caught and stored in the freezer. Momma liked the newfangled fish-sticks. At the restaurants we enjoyed catfish and most always it was prepared fried. I suspect if we ever saw anyone serving poached or broiled fish, why, we would probably think they done gone ‘uptown’.

This recipe is actually a really healthy option and you can prepare it any day of the week, not just on Fridays. Each serving contains only about 9 carbs and if you use tilapia, you can cut it down to about 4 carbs per serving. Enjoy!

Catfish and Spinach Roll
4 servings (or halve the recipe as I did for 2)

4 catfish fillets (about 4 oz ea)
1 cup skim milk
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 garlic toes, minced
1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
11 oz package fresh baby spinach
1 teaspoon wine vinegar (I used O Pinot Noir)
Salt-free seasoning (like Mrs. Dash) or seasoning to taste (I also like whole-grain mustard here too)
fresh black pepper to taste
4 oz low-fat feta cheese, cut into 4 pieces
lemon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a dish for baking by oiling with extra light olive oil.

Soak the fish fillets in the milk for at least an hour in the refrigerator, not more that three.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and saute the garlic until fragrant. Add the bell pepper and cook to soften. Add the spinach and cook stirring occasionally until spinach is just wilted. Remove from heat and sprinkle with the wine vinegar and salt-free seasoning. Toss to mix flavors.

Drain milk from fillets and pat dry with paper towels. Place one fillet in baking dish and lightly sprinkle with pepper. Add a slice of cheese in the center and add one-fourth of the spinach mixture on top of the cheese. Roll up the fillet and secure with a toothpick. Place seam side down in dish and repeat until finished rolling all fillets.

Bake in the oven about 20 minutes or until flesh is tested done with a fork. The fish should be firm all the way through and flakes easily with the fork. Remove and garnish with lemon. I like to plate and add a squeeze of lemon over the fish.

Afterthought: Why soak in milk? It’s like saying “yes ma’am” to the ladies, I mean, it’s just the way I was taught. I was told it made catfish ‘sweeter’ and truth-be-known, buttermilk is the norm.

Sautéed Spinach

Stewed, Sautéed or Wilted, it all taste good.

This is a very easy recipe that I like to make, not only because is it low in fat and calories, but also ’cause it is so darn tasty. Yes, as you read it, it does have a smidgen of butter, but ya gotta use it if you want the spinach to absorb and pick up the essence of this recipe, and that is the wonderful simple, yet fantastic flavors.

Now you can trim the ends of spinach if you like; I know, it makes for one fine, silky tasting experience, but I do not at times, it does not bother me one bit. And for the best ever taste, cook this right before serving, dishing it right out of the skillet while steaming hot and not covering it with a lid as doing so causes it to wilt even more, at it did for me last night as I finished another dish. However, wilting it down so didn’t change the taste one bit. Enjoy! 

Sautéed Spinach
about 4 servings

1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon butter
1/2 onion, chopped
2 or 3 sweet red mini peppers, sliced or 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic toes, smashed and diced
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 pound baby spinach, washed and patted dry
seasoning blend to taste (I use Badia complete)

In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and saute the onion until crisp tender, about 2 minutes. Add the mini sweet peppers and garlic and saute for 1 minute. Stir in the vinegar and mustard.

Increase heat to medium high. Add the spinach and saute until it wilts down just a bit, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and season to taste. Stir to fully incorporate. Serve immediately or cover and keep warm but doing so will result in something like stewed spinach.

Roasted Cauliflower

The best cauliflower, yet.

This is my new way in enjoying cauliflower!

Period.

Roasted to perfection, with a crisp, savory coating – zippy and tangy from the Creole spices and lemon, this is one snappy side dish that will be making a comeback in my kitchen many times. A great way to enjoy cauliflower.

Hope you try it as I think you will like it too.  Enjoy!

Roasted Cauliflower
serves 4

1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon salt-free Creole seasoning
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Whisk the garlic, salt, Creole seasoning, cornstarch with the oil in a medium bowl.

Wash the cauliflower with cold water and toss thoroughly with the seasoning mixture.

Arrange florets on a baking pan and roast for 8 minutes. Turn the florets over and roast for 7 minutes.

Turn the oven to broil and cook for 3 minutes. Turn the florets over and cook for 2 minutes. Remove to a serving dish or individual servers.

Roasted Cauliflower

The best cauliflower, yet.

This is my new way in enjoying cauliflower!

Period.

Roasted to perfection, with a crisp, savory coating – zippy and tangy from the Creole spices and lemon, this is one snappy side dish that will be making a comeback in my kitchen many times. A great way to enjoy cauliflower.

Hope you try it as I think you will like it too.  Enjoy!

Roasted Cauliflower
serves 4

1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon salt-free Creole seasoning
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Whisk the garlic, salt, Creole seasoning, cornstarch with the oil in a medium bowl.

Wash the cauliflower with cold water and toss thoroughly with the seasoning mixture.

Arrange florets on a baking pan and roast for 8 minutes. Turn the florets over and roast for 7 minutes.

Turn the oven to broil and cook for 3 minutes. Turn the florets over and cook for 2 minutes. Remove to a serving dish or individual servers.

Grilled Snapper with Lemon Shrimp and heirloom Tomato Salad

A big O
… as in  
Oh yes.

There is nothing finer than sweet local shrimp fresh from the waters of Mobile Bay, mild, delicate fillets of deep water red snapper from the Gulf of Mexico and succulent garden fresh tomatoes right from home gardens. And all of this happens right now along the coast of Alabama and in homes like ours during the first weeks of June. Another marvelous taste experience happening in our house as well as around the country is the enjoyment of fine goods from the folks at O Olive Oil of California.

The O Performance on the Grill

All O Olive Oils are harmoniously crushed with varying citrus unlike infused oils which until now, is all I knew anything about citrus oils. Their method of pressing the two together creates a natural sugar content and because of this, the oils have a much lower burn temperature. Most folks use these fine oils as a finishing oil meaning it is normally used 'as is' drizzled on foods or incorporated into a vinaigrette and served accompanying a paired vinegar, which is what I did in the tomato salad. But I wanted to push the oil further and use it in grilling recipes and in order to do so, I knew I had to shield it from burning and protect it from loosing its delicate flavor. The shrimp did exceptionally well using the oil as a marinade and by cooking on medium heat with
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