Lighten Up Tuna Noodle Casserole

Lighten Up Tuna Noodle Casserole

Tuna noodle casserole is one of those things you either love or hate. And if you love it, you think you can't have it because it's too fattening. Am I right? Yes, I love it too but rarely eat it. I found this video on how to make it lighter!

Watch and see –

I love Ellie Krieger and her philosophies of adding in more vegetables to lighten it up. She uses mushrooms to provide a meatier texture.

What Would I Change

You could substitute in spaghetti squash and broccoli slaw in place of the fettuccine noodles. You could also use cauliflower rice instead of pasta (or “pasta”) altogether.

There's also the shiratake noodles made from the konjac yam. It will absorb the flavors well and blend right in. They are very low carb and low calorie.

I may add in snow peas and some diced carrots for color and texture.

This isn't a dish that lends itself well to being Paleo. But sometimes you need a comfort food.

Make It A Meal

Because of the peas and mushrooms, this is a meal in itself. But sometimes you want a counterpoint. So I'd make a salad because it's cool and you could use a nice vinaigrette dressing which balances out the creaminess of the tuna noodle casserole.

Cook Yourself Thin is the resource hub for women 35-55 looking to lose stubborn pounds by cooking and eating the foods you love.

Resources

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna with Spinach

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna with Spinach

I'm loving all these new bake in recipes like spaghetti squash lasagna with spinach.

Watch how easy it is:

 

You still need to cook the spaghetti squash beforehand. And then you assemble the layers before baking.

Time Saving Tips

If you want better results more easily, prepare the spinach filling and meat filling the night before and put it in the fridge. The flavors will develop and it will be a lot tastier.

Then before you leave, put the spaghetti squash into a slow cooker. It needs 4 to 6 hours on low. So if you're going to be gone all day, you may want to use a timer. 

If you have a pressure cooker, it will be done in less than 30 minutes.

You can also prepare the spaghetti squash the night before as well. Then the strands will be hanging out with the spinach filling and absorbing more delicious flavors. Just remember to save the shells to bake them the next day.

Also, Jimmy Dean has pre-cooked turkey sausage crumbles that are tasty. You can use them in place of cooking turkey to save time.

Other Ideas

I've seen other recipes for taco spaghetti squash. It also uses ground turkey.  So if you have any turkey or squash leftover, this is a good second meal to use with similar ingredients.

 

Cook Yourself Thin is the resource hub for women 35-55 looking to lose stubborn pounds by cooking and eating the foods you love.​​​​​​​

Chicken Saltimbocca

Chicken Saltimbocca

This chicken saltimbocca is already been healthified by Giada.
Watch the video to see how quick and easy it is.

If you don't have thin chicken breasts, put one chicken breast between two pieces of waxed or parchment paper, and then go to town with a mallet.  You could use plastic wrap if that's what you have. You could even put the breast in a plastic zip top bag.

And yes there are special kitchen mallets for this. They tend to be broad and flat. The heads are usually at 2 inches by one inch. So if you don't have one, don't panic. You can take your aggression out using

  • Rolling Pin
  • Saucepan
  • Cast Iron Skillet
  • Soup Can
  • Mortar
  • Water Bottle

The key is to flatten out the meat. You may end up needing fewer chicken breasts than you thought since they'll be so much larger.

You can read the full recipe at the Food Network.

Make It A Meal

This is a great dish to make with asparagus as it goes well with the lemon and Parmesan cheese flavors. If you're low carb or paleo, add in a salad so you get enough food to feel full.

You could also have some crusty bread with this if you are eating bread. Just watch the portions.

This would be a great dish to serve with pasta with a simple herb and butter sauce. If you're going primal, make some zucchini squash noodles or have some spaghetti squash.  You could make an alfredo sauce as well.  You won't need much sauce to feel satisfied. And a little bit of fat works well with helping you feel full and satisfied. Plus we need some fat to absorb all the nutrients in vegetables.

Cook Yourself Thin is the resource hub for women 35-55 looking to lose stubborn pounds by cooking and eating the foods you love.​​​​​​​

Easy Scrambled Egg Hash Brown Cups

Easy Scrambled Egg Hash Brown Cups

Since we've done egg muffins and sandwiches, it was time for an easy scrambled egg dish that makes a fast and healthy breakfast.

Watch how easy it is to make a few morning's worth of breakfast:

How to Change It Up

If you use frozen hash browns, it helps to thaw them out first. Then press all the water out and blot the potatoes. You could use fresh shredded potatoes as well. Again, try to get the ,moisture out.

You could also substitute in shredded butternut squash or sweet potatoes. Shredded parsnip would be sweeter. Shredded turnip would have a neutral flavor.

To get really low carb, used riced cauliflower. You may need to mix it with some coconut oil to make it more of a dough consistency.

You could make them like mini-quiches and not precook the eggs, but then you'd need to bake them for longer.

Have fun playing with different cheeses and seasonings. You could put in some chorizo (or soy chorizo) and then top the finished cup with cotijo cheese. There would be no need to bake it further.

You can find the original recipe at Taste of Home.

Breakfast Is Important

Studies have found that if you eat breakfast, you won't eat as many calories later on in the day. And you will be a lot happier. But like you, some mornings are just a disaster from the second the alarm goes off. Have a bunch of precooked items like this egg cup. You can add the extra cheese and toss it in the toaster oven while you go make coffee. Then take a minute or two to fully appreciate the smell. Mindful eating is truly one of the best ways to slim up. You won't overeat if you're focused entirely on what you're eating, and enjoying it.

Cook Yourself Thin is the resource hub for women 35-55 looking to lose stubborn pounds by cooking and eating the foods you love.​​​​​​​

Slow-Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos

Slow-Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos

Slow-cooker shredded beef tacos are not only easy to make, but they're inexpensive as well. I recently had a poll on the Facebook page, and the two respondents wanted more slow cooker recipes and inexpensive cooking recipes. (There's still plenty of time to voice your opinion there or in the comments below.  I really want this to be a site that's useful to you.)

Since it's Tuesday, and everyone talks about Taco Tuesday, I found this great recipe that's easy. And there's still time to set it up. It only needs 4 hours on high in the slow cooker.

Get inspired by the video here:

What Would I Change

Beef chuck roasts are usually fairly inexpensive in my supermarket. If I go in around 930am-1030am, some of the meat has been marked down with additional dollar off stickers. I once got a sirloin roast $5 off.  It was inexpensive to begin with. I roasted it like a roast beef. Since there wasn't any fat on the roast, I used bacon.

Anyway, once you learn a bit about beef, you can find additional cuts that work out better. Also, the more work you do, the cheaper the meat will be. That is to say, most markets sell “stew meat.”  That's just usually chuck roast cut up…for a dollar a pound more.

If you want something authentic, look for short ribs. They cook well in a slow cooker. And you need to slice the meat thinly which is perfect for tacos.

Standard cuts like flank and skirt steak are also very tasty. Look for recipes for “carne asada” and you will find a lot of options for seasonings.

If you want to make this low carb, use corn tortillas.  If you want to make this Paleo or Primal, serve it salad style with no tortilla. It's not a taco, but it is delicious.

Additional Resources

The original recipe can be found at Eating Well.

Here's a tasty sounding Slow Cooker Carne Asada

I was watching some craftsy videos recently.  Mexican Street Food: Tacos & Salsas, with Deborah Schneider was really excellent. She recommended looking for fresh epazote in place of cilantro. I know a bunch of people who taste soap when they get near cilantro. So if you're one of them, order some epazote plants from Amazon and grow them in your windowsill.

Another great class is Cooking the Perfect Steak by Bruce Aidells.  And another cool one that I haven't bought yet but want to try is Flavors of Mexico by Rick Bayless.

 

Cook Yourself Thin is the resource hub for women 35-55 looking to lose stubborn pounds by cooking and eating the foods you love.

Chicken Mushroom Sage Casserole

Chicken Mushroom Sage Casserole

Chicken mushroom sage casserole is a great time saver.  I'm going to review how to make it healthier, and then lower carb. Finally, I'll make recommendations to make this in a slow cooker.

But first, watch this video to get inspired:

You can find the full recipe here at My Recipes.

What Would I Change

They use a lot of butter. Granted it does add to the flavor. And they're using it with flour to make the gravy.  What I'd recommend is not putting so much butter in and see how it turns out. You could probably cut it back by two tablespoons and not affect the flavor.

Also, I'd look for rice instead of a rice mix. It will save you money. And what would you do with the spice packet that's leftover anyway.

Wild rice would go great with the sage and mushroom flavors. So you may want to find a package of wild rice.  You may need to parboil it a bit before it goes into the oven since it usually takes about an hour. If you put it with the chicken, it would dry out the poor chicken thigh before it would be done.

So one way would be to put in the rice and other ingredients for thirty minutes. Then put the chicken on it and cook the rest of the way. You could substitute chicken breasts, but they cook faster so you'll need to keep an eye on it.

You could also substitute in turkey. My market sells turkey legs and turkey wings as well as the usual turkey breast.

Another option would be to take ground turkey or chicken and use that so it's more like a sausage rice instead.

How to Make In the Slow Cooker

I looked for similar recipes. Most called for cream of mushroom soup. My concern with that is the amount of sodium in the cans. Plus, I'm trying to advocate natural from scratch.  However, there are now some healthier cream of mushroom soups out there. And you can make it yourself.

Here's two good sounding recipes. They also call for rice mixes. If you substitute in real wild rice blends, you will need to increase the fluids:

Easiest Slow Cooker Chicken and Wild Rice

Chicken and Wild Rice Slow Cooker Dinner

So this was my favorite sounding recipe.

Crockpot Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

 

Cook Yourself Thin is the resource hub for women 35-55 looking to lose stubborn pounds by cooking and eating the foods you love.​​​​​​​

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

Slow cooker chicken cacciatore is a great way to have dinner ready when you walk in the door. Maybe you work all day, maybe you have a lot of activities for shuttling around the kids. Maybe you have both. Or maybe you have a small kitchen and this meal normally looks like it would take over the kitchen.

Whatever your reason, you deserve a good meal at the end of the day. Slow cookers and pressure cookers are a great time saver.

Watch this video to see how easy it is to set up this meal in the morning:

You can find the full recipe at Cooking Light.

What Would I Change

I really love that this is a one pot meal. You will have to toss in the pasta at the end and monitor that it's getting cooked. Make sure you have a slow cooker that can get hot enough when you turn it to high.

Also, another important thing in slow cooker cooking is not to lift the lid up too often. It really cools everything down which means it slows it down.

This is why I love the Instant Pot. I could put most everything in the steel insert in the evening and let it hang out in the refrigerator overnight. Then in the morning, I would just need to put it in the IP and use the slow cooker mode.

When I got home, instead of using the high mode, I could use the saute mode and know that it was going to cook the pasta up quickly.

You could reduce the amount of pasta to get fewer carbs. And you could use zoodles or seaweed noodles to be very low carb.

To lighten it up, you could use boneless and skinless chicken breasts or thighs. Just remember to reduce the cooking time or they'll be overcooked. Thighs have better flavor than breasts. Since they're tougher, they're better for this braising method.

Cook Yourself Thin is the resource hub for women 35-55 looking to lose stubborn pounds by cooking and eating the foods you love.​​​​​​​

Shepherd’s Pie with Tater Tot Topping

Shepherd’s Pie with Tater Tot Topping

Oh my gosh – tater tot topping on a shepherd's pie? It's definitely a crispier texture which would be a nice balance to the meat, vegetable and gravy mixture. But is it a good idea?

Let's start with the basics and see where we can take this.  Watch the video:

You can find the full recipe at the Food Network.

What Would I Change

I do like the idea of the different texture.  It's new and cool. What isn't obvious from the name is that they're using hash browns instead of tots. You could shred turnips, sweet potatoes and parsnips for a lower carb version.

To save time and increase nutrition, I'd substitute in some of the new Green Giant cauliflower tots. They also have broccoli and broccoli with cheese. I think the cauliflower would be better since it has a milder flavor. But I'd certainly test out the broccoli and cheese.

I've also found sweet potato fries. You could put those along the top instead.

I'd cut way back on the butter. The good news is that they recommended unsalted. You should control the salt based on your palate.

Play With Your Food

I definitely wouldn't use 80/20 beef without a lot of draining. I'd recommend at least 90/10. You could also substitute in ground turkey or chicken as well as lamb. Or you could make a blend. Just do remember to drain the fat off.

You could also leave off the cheddar or substitute some quality grated Parmesan cheese instead. You don't need a lot of Parmesan cheese to get a nice flavor.

Add in additional vegetables like spinach, rutabagas, turnips, celery root (also known as celeriac), carrots, parsnips, etc.  And change up the seasonings based on what's in there.

Spices Scare Me

Sometimes they do me as well. I once put in three bay leaves instead of one because I thought that they were old and it needed more. Big mistake.  It wasn't inedible, but it didn't have the flavors I was hoping for.

I learned a ton from this course from Craftsy – Cooking With Spices: Techniques for Big Flavor.  I want to start toasting spices. And I need to find my old coffee grinder and get playing.

One suggestion she had was to find recipes with the flavors that you like and see how it's seasoned. I have a ton of cookbooks and can always look up how to balance the cumin with the other spices. And I made a pork barbacoa that was to die for just by playing.

Leave a comment with your thoughts.

Cook Yourself Thin is the resource hub for women 35-55 looking to lose stubborn pounds by cooking and eating the foods you love.​​​​​​​
Bunless Morning Egg Sandwich

Bunless Morning Egg Sandwich

If you're going low carb, this bunless morning egg sandwich is just what you're looking for. You definitely need rings of some kind to ensure the eggs are round. I bought some inexpensive ones from Daiso. The recipe suggests Mason jar rings. I know people also have used empty (and washed) tuna cans.

Also, instead of frying the egg, you're steaming it. Watch more in the video:

You can find the full recipe at Delish.

What Would I Change

What's great about this recipe is you can go any way you want. I personally love turkey sausage patties on my egg sandwiches. You could also use Canadian bacon.

If you have guacamole leftover, you could use that in place of avocado.

I also always have Laughing Cow cheese wedges on hand. This morning, I used Swiss and Herb. I also always have the chipotle one around. It melts differently, and I like the creaminess of it.

This is going to be messy no matter how you cook it. So make sure you have a lot of napkins on hand.

Make It A Meal

If you want something like potatoes but don't want the potatoes, see if you can get Green Giant cauliflower tots. I made some this morning to go with my egg scramble, and it was perfect.  I confess to not enjoying them with the burger. They're not really like tater tots. Ok, they're trying to be. But if you want a tater tot and you have a cauli-tot, you'll be disappointed. If you decide you want some cauli-tots to go with your Paleo breakfast, you'll be happy.

Add in some fruit as well. Blueberries and oranges (separately) seem to go best with morning egg muffins to me.

What's your favorite fruit in the morning?

Balsamic Glazed Chicken

Balsamic Glazed Chicken

After poking around, I'm going to make balsamic glazed chicken for dinner tonight. It's pretty cold out still. And I've been playing clean out the kitchen and found a bunch of boneless and skinless chicken breasts in the freezer.  And I have some balsamic vinegar that I should use up so I can buy fresh stuff.

At least I know what they are. I found a bunch of chicken drumsticks that I'll thaw out and marinate in two weeks when the kid is home from college on her Spring break.  I do wish I'd label better. I think I found some pulled pork. And I have some minestrone that I made when daughter was home for winter break. I'll have to thaw that too.

Watch the video and see how easy it is to make this one pot meal.

You can see the full recipe at Delish.

What Would I Change

I don't have any fresh rosemary nor baby red potatoes. So I either need to buy those or use what I have.  I do have two russets and some onions. And I have fresh thyme.

So I will bake one potato and cut it in half lengthwise for hubby and me. And I'll bake the breasts along with onions. They take on a lovely flavor and complement the balsamic vinegar and mustard.  The breasts have no fat on them to speak of. They may have little bits. So I'll want to be sure to roast it enough to cook but not to dry out.

I also have Brussels sprouts which I can roast along saving me time.

This is already a fairly low carb dish. But if you wanted to go further, then I'd recommend parsnips or sweet potatoes in place of regular potatoes.