Low Cal Meal Challenge

Old 03-12-2010, 05:53 PM
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Default 7 Course Italian Dinner

7-Course Italian Dinner that Totals: 496 calories; 20g fat; 46g carbs; 33g protein
Appetizer: Mini crab cake
Soup: Italian Vegetable
Salad: Romaine with Creamy Italian Dressing
Main Course: Lasagna
Side Dish: Roasted Asparagus & Garlic
Dessert: Orange Jell-O Cocktail
After Dinner: Cheese, Fruit & Espresso

Mini Crab Cakes – makes 10 mini cakes (69.1g each) Cal 98; 3.6g fat; 10.4g carbs; 5.2g protein
1-pound fresh or canned crab meat
2 egg whites
½ cup low-fat mayo
1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
1-½ cups crushed corn flakes
1 TBS lemon juice
In mixing bowl beat egg whites. Add lemon, mayo, Old Bay and half of corn flake crumbs, and combine. Gently mix in the crab meat. Spray cookie sheet with no fat pan spray and sprinkle with corn flakes. Form 10 crab patties, top w/remaining corn flake crumbs and spray with no fat pan spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes until golden.

Italian Vegetable Soup
Serving size 340.1g (about 1½ to 2 cups depending on how many veggies are in the bowl)
30 cal; 0.1g fat; 6.8g carbs; 1.5g protein

2 TBS minced garlic
2 cups chopped cabbage
2 cups chopped cauliflower
1 cup chopped tomatoes
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup shredded carrots
6 cups water
Salt & pepper to taste (try using crushed red pepper)
½ tsp oregano
¼ tsp each of thyme, rosemary, & sage or you can just use about 1 tsp of Italian herb mix.
Mix all ingredients in a pot and simmer for 25 minutes.

Creamy Italian Salad
Cal 23; 0.2g fat; 4.7g carbs; 1.1g protein

1 cup chopped or torn Romaine lettuce
1 TBS each of shredded carrot, radishes, green beans, bell pepper & onions.
2 TBS of Walden Farms creamy Italian salad dressing

Yields 12 - 9 ounce servings. Each serving: 171.7 cal; 8.77g fat; 6.8g carbs; 16g protein

½-pound 97% ground sirloin
1-carton of tofu (14 oz)
½- pound low fat mozzarella cheese, grated (you can reduce the fat and calories if you use a fat-free mozzarella cheese)
15 ounces low fat ricotta cheese
1 quart stewed tomatoes (or 4 cups of chopped fresh Roma tomatoes)
1-cup bell pepper-chopped
1-cup mushrooms-sliced
6 zucchini squash sliced lengthwise into strips (like lasagna noodles)
1 onion-chopped
3 cloves garlic minced
2.5 TBS Parmesan cheese (you can cut the calories and fat grams if you use low-fat or fat-free parmesan-this recipe is calculated with a full fat version)
3 Knorr’s Beef Bullion Cubes
1½ cups water

Drain the tofu and throw away the water. “Brown” the meat with tofu breaking up both into equal sized small pieces (Since there won’t be much if any fat in the meat, the water from the tofu will keep it from sticking to the pan and browning the way meat usually does.) When the meat is cooked, add the onions, garlic and bell peppers and sweat the vegetables (let them soften & the onions will be translucent). Mix in the herbs, mushrooms, water and bullion cubes and slow simmer until reduced to a very thick sauce with barely any liquid. Takes about 2 hours, stir often.
Preheat oven to 350°. Cover the bottom of large baking pan with a thin crust of mozzarella cheese saving back a little more than half then make a layer of zucchini and slather the top with a layer of ricotta. Add a layer of half of the meat sauce. Add the rest of the zucchini, ricotta, mushrooms & meat sauce in layers. Cover the top with the rest of mozzarella cheese. Bake with a loose tent of foil over it for 45 minutes, it should be bubbling on the edges. Uncover and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and continue baking uncovered until the cheese has browned, about 15 minutes. Yields 12 9 ounce slices.

Roasted Asparagus & Garlic
Yields 4 servings
(126.7g per serving) 92 cal; 6.9g fat; 6.4g carbs; 2.8g protein

1-pound asparagus spears, trimmed
2 TBS olive oil
8 cloves garlic peeled but left whole
Salt & pepper to taste

Toss all ingredients until everything is well coated with oil. You can pop this back into the fridge to let it marinate for a few hours and then cook it just before dinner. Spread the mixture on a baking sheet in a single layer; do not allow the ingredients to stack. Preheat oven to 350° and bake for about 15-25 minutes or until the garlic turns golden and soft. Do not over-cook the garlic or it will taste bitter so keep an eye on it. Smash the garlic with a fork and form into a paste. Toss all together and place in a serving bowl. If you don’t like your asparagus crunchy, you can steam it before adding it in the recipe.

Orange and Cream Desert:
Yields 4 servings
Jell-O: 10 cal; 1g protein. 1 TBS.
Yogurt: 18 calories; .6g carbs; 1.4g pro
Orange Calories 8; 2 carbs; .16 pro

1 package sugar-free orange jell-o
4 orange slices
1 tsp artificial sweetener
4 TBS Greek yogurt
Slice 1 orange across the segments and use the largest slices. Mix jell-o as directed using the ice method. In a small container or jar, combine 4 TBS of Greek yogurt with 2 TBS of the now cool orange jell-o liquid mixture, mix well and put into the fridge.
Pour jell-o into 4 margarita glasses and put 1 orange slice per glass on the rim. Chill Jell-O until set. Before serving, whip the Greek yogurt and place 1½ TBS in the center of each glass. A nice option is to garnish the yogurt with a mint spring.

After Dinner:
Cheese & Fruit
Fat free cheddar ½ ounce 21 cal; .11 fat; 1.9 carbs; 3.2g pro.
2 Apple Rings 14.6 cal; .0048g fat; 3.8g carbs; .072g pro
1 Pear slice – 8.1 cal; .017g fat; 2.2g carbs; .053g pro
Demitasse cup of Black Espresso with sugar substitute:
1.2 cal; 0.11g fat; 0.071g pro

Cube fat-free cheddar cheese in ¼ ounce cubes. On each plate put 2 cheese cubes, 2 apple rings and 1 slice of pear. Garnish with a spring of parsley. Serve with a cup of espresso in demitasse cups (they hold about 2 ounces) sweetened with 0 calorie sweetener.

Last edited by desertmountain; 03-12-2010 at 05:58 PM.
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Old 03-12-2010, 07:55 PM
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It's official, desertmountain rocks!!!
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Old 03-13-2010, 12:23 AM
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LOL- funny. We don't eat so many courses but in the spirit of the challenge I threw in as many recipes as would fit. You can make the lasagna with peeled & steamed eggplant strips if, like me, you need to avoid noodles, or just use plain lasagna noodles instead of the zucchini. You can also use frozen whole green beans instead of asparagus for the side dish if you want to save some money.
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Old 03-13-2010, 02:22 AM
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Thanks for the substitutions. I cook a lot like Rachel Ray, never measure with anything but my hands and eyes, so substitution ideas come in handy. I'm doing low carb too and haven't eaten pasta in about 3 months. I'm planning to grow spaghetti squash in the garden this summer, but hadn't considered using zucchini for lasagna. I don't know if that would fly in this house, since I have 2 confirmed zucchini haters, but maybe I'll give it a whack anyway...
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Old 03-14-2010, 01:57 AM
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almeeker-Are you doing a specific low carb plan like Atkins? I used to do Atkins. I can't eat grains & really starchy food without gaining but I needed more veggies than was allowed on Atkins OWL.
The zucchini doesn't taste like zucchini in the lasagna so if you peeled them first the zucchini-haters wouldn't know what it was-maybe you could remove the seeds to further disguise them.
When on Atkins I came up with an eggplant lasagna recipe that's great--better than with pasta noodles IMO. If you're just watching carbs with no limit on fat, like on Atkins, you should try this instead: double the meat & cheeses; eliminate the tofu, zucchini, bullion cubes & mushrooms; & cut back on the tomatoes and onions (freaky how carby they are) from the recipe above. For the 'noodles' peel and slice 2 eggplants lengthwise, remove the seedy parts. Make sure they're even in thickness so they can brown evenly, about 1/4 inch thick. Salt and let sit for 15 minutes. Wash off the salt and pat dry. Drizzle with olive oil and lightly sprinkle parmesan cheese, salt & pepper (black, red or crushed red, all good) and bake in a single layer at 350 until lightly browned. When you use these as noodles it really beefs up the flavor and they taste like portabella mushrooms. If you slice them really, really thin & use a little more olive oil & cheese you can make fantastic 'chips' from them that are addictive and allowable on Atkins. I grow my own herbs and would often top them with some minced herbs depending on what I felt like eating: basil was my favorite but sage or oregano were also tasty.

The ppl who taught me to cook also cooked like Rachel Ray (although it was down home Southern & Texas foods) so that's how I cooked until recently. Now I'm using Fitday & measure & weigh everything compulsively.
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Old 03-15-2010, 01:40 AM
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Nope, I'm not doing Atkins, I'm too close to being a vegetarian for that one LOL! In fact I was a vegetarian through most of college, then I found out (the hard way) that I don't absorb enough iron from plant sources to keep my hemoglobin in the normal range. So I have to eat some red meat every week just to get sufficient iron in my blood stream, doctor's orders.

Technically I'm not "dieting", I'm "wellnessing". My brother introduced me to a program that he is doing at work called "The 5-10-15-20 Wellness Challenge". I take it a step farther and added 25 beyond that. Basically it's a minimum of 5 fruits and veggies a day (I usually get around 10), 10,000 steps on a pedometer every day, 15 minutes of strengthening exercises every day (and around 1,500 calories if you're overweight), and for 20, 2,000 of your 10,000 steps have to be aerobic. The 25 I've added is 2,500 calories of burn in exercise per week. On top of that I do everyday. And as you know lots of fruits and veggies have carbs, so I have to limit my grains just to keep my carbs below 50%. I aim for 45% give or take. Limiting grains for me isn't really a big deal, we we're a gluten-free household for 4 years.

I like the sound of that eggplant dish, I'll have to give that one a whack. I've never grown eggplant before, but I'm going to try it this year. My zucchini haters will eat zucchini, but only under duress. But there is no disguising it beyond recognition, my daughter can pick out the flavor of zucchini when it's been pureed and added to chili. Seriously, she's 6 and wants to be a chef. As far as I can tell, her taste buds are up to the challenge.
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Old 03-15-2010, 04:32 PM
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That sounds like a very good program Almeeker. Tough on one level (getting rid of bad habits), but its a very doable lifestyle. I'm copying that over to my journal to give it a try once I'm a little more stable in the process (trying to make the changes less radical).
I laughed when you said you only ate meat 1X a week & that I'd asked if you were doing Atkins. Yeah, totally on opposite sides of the eating spectrum for sure! LOL Since all plants are composed of carbohydrates by nature it must be very hard to find enough things to eat and keep it below 50%.
Grain-free for 4 yrs! I'm really impressed! I'm really, really struggling with getting rid of grains. Every time I re-introduced whole grains (brown rice, rye, barley, oats, wheat) for phase 2 of South Beach I gained weight so it looks like being grain-free is a healthier life choice for me as well. The docs who wrote Protien Power & the docs that wrote Eat Right For Your Type (blood type) say that some ppl can't eat grains and I have to accept the fact that I'm one of them. But I can't find substitutes. What do you & your family use in place of bread and grains in recipes? Any thing you could share about being grain-free would be so appreciated!

You garden! Awesome, me too. There's nothing like just picked food for flavor & nutrition!
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Old 03-15-2010, 08:08 PM
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Yes, love love love the garden. I have to start my seedlings this week. I bought all the seeds, but I have yet to haul all that junk from the basement. I had to buy a new lamp too, because honey hardwired the old one into the pantry ceiling on me. Oh well, it only cost $10 for a new one.

When I started 5-10-15-20 I really didn't have a ton of bad habits, just a few. But those few actually were packing a lot of weight on me. The one thing I have discovered about my lifestyle is that the difference between my old way of life and a 10K step life is um, a 20-30 minute run. Well I probably could have guessed that one without spending $20 on a pedometer.

When we were a gluten free house we used to eat mostly fresh fruits and veggies and farm fresh meats. We actually still do a lot of that, but now we can keep wheat products in the house. We also used baked potatoes a lot and would dress them up much like people do with noodles. Chicken alla King is pretty good served on a baked potato, so are beef tips with mushrooms. Now my daughter was allergic specifically to wheat, so she could have rice and rice flour, but we tried lots of different flours including tapioca, buckwheat, quinoa, pea and garbanzo bean. I personally had difficulty with the legume flours, they all are very rich and take some getting used to. But what we eventually ended up doing was using a flour mix called "Featherlite" which we found in a Gluten-Free Gourmet" cookbook called "Bakes Bread". There is plenty more to say on the topic, but I gotta go pick up kiddos from school.
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