Meals to warm you up on a cold

Meals to warm you up on a cold

Comfort foods to soothe the waistline

Recipes offer comfort foods that are low in fats and calories, but high in flavour and very filling.

We’ve passed the midway point of the month and as promised I have recipes that are in keeping with all who have resolutions to eat better and lose those unwanted pounds.

With all the super-sizing of meals, all-you-can-eat buffets, and never-ending drinks going on, we are fast losing sight of what is a normal, healthy portion of food.

Well, for starters, we don’t need any more than five-and-a-half-ounces of meat in a day. A good portion is a three-to-four-ounce serving. Vegetables should be a half-cup each, and carbs should be no more than a 3/4-cup size.

Besides looking at calories, another thing to check is how you load your plate. The trick is to fill your plate half with vegetables, a quarter with protein (meats, fish, seafood, beans etc.), and the final quarter with carbs (ie. potatoes, rice, pasta etc.)

All four recipes I’m offering today could be called comfort foods. They are low in fats and calories but high in flavour and very filling.

The lemon chicken is fast to prepare and will go with almost any side dish. Turkey and barley soup is a wonderful combination and so welcomed on cold winter days. The chicken dish has a wonderful combination of vegetables and spices. It’s different but so delicious over a bed of rice. Shepherd’s pie is delicious anytime and this one has a Mediterranean flair to it with spinach and feta cheese. Enjoy.


Lemon Dill Chicken

1 cup low-fat sour cream

1 tbsp. minced fresh dill

1 tsp. lemon pepper seasoning

1 tsp. lemon zest

4 boneless, skinless, chicken breast halves

Preheat oven to 425 F. Spray a medium casserole dish with a non-stick spray. In a small bowl, combine sour cream, dill, lemon pepper, and lemon zest. Spoon 1/4 of this mixture over the bottom of the casserole. Arrange chicken breasts on top in a single layer. Pour remaining sauce over each piece of chicken. Spread evenly. Bake uncovered for 30-to-35 minutes, or until chicken is tender and no longer pink.

Per serving: 218 calories and only 4.4 grams of fat.


Best Turkey and Barley Soup

2 tsp. vegetable oil

1 lb. lean ground turkey

1-1/2 cups chopped celery

1 -1/2 cups chopped carrots

1 cup chopped onions

4 cups low-sodium, reduced-fat chicken broth

1 can (28 oz.) tomatoes, undrained, cut up

1/3 cup pearl barley

3/4 tsp. dried marjoram

1/2 tsp. each ground thyme, sage, salt, and black pepper

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add turkey and cook, breaking it up as it cooks, until there is no longer any pink. Add all the remaining ingredients. Mix well. Bring soup to a boil over high heat. Cover and simmer for 35-to- 40 minutes, until the vegetables and barley are tender.


Spicy Chicken and Rice

1 cup coarsely chopped onion

1 clove garlic, minced

3 cups chopped, cooked, chicken breast (about 1-1/4 lbs.)

1 can (28 oz) tomatoes, cut up and not drained

1 can (19 oz.) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 can (5-1/2 oz.) tomato paste

1 cup sliced zucchini

1 cup chopped, sweet yellow pepper

3/4 cup chopped carrots

3/4 cup chopped celery

2 bay leaves

1 cinnamon stick (about 5-inches long)

1 tsp. grated ginger root

1 tsp. chili powder

3/4 tsp. ground cumin

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper(optional)

1/4 tsp. black pepper

4 cups cooked brown rice (I cooked mine in chicken stock)

Spray a large Dutch oven with non-stick spray. Add onions and garlic and cook on medium heat for five minutes, stirring often until onions are done. Add chicken and all the remaining ingredients except the rice. Stir it well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low. Cover and simmer for 25-to-30 minutes. Stir every once in awhile. To serve, remove bay leaves and cinnamon stick. Divide hot rice among six plates and ladle chicken and vegetables on top. Very tasty and filling.

These servings are more generous than I can eat. Divided in six servings makes 396 calories and 6.1 grams of fat per serving.


Shepherd’s Pie With a Twist

4 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered

1/2 cup skim or buttermilk

1/2 tsp. salt

1 lb. extra lean ground beef

1/4 cup unseasoned dry bread crumbs

1/4 cup minced onion

1 egg white

1 tbs. ketchup

1 minced garlic clove

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1 large tomato, thinly sliced

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1/4 cup shredded reduced-fat Swiss cheese

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/2 pkg. frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (5 oz. in total)

Cook potatoes until tender; drain well. Add milk and salt and mash until smooth; set aside. In a large bowl, combine beef, bread crumbs, onions, egg white, ketchup, garlic, and black pepper. Mix well (using your hands works best.) Pat beef mixture over the bottom and up the sides of a nine-inch pie plate. Layer tomato slices over the beef. Sprinkle oregano over tomatoes. Spread Swiss and feta cheeses over the tomatoes. Top cheese with chopped spinach. Spoon mashed potatoes over the spinach, spreading evenly but leaving a one-inch border around edges. The meat and potatoes should not touch. Smooth the top. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 F. Let it cool for five minutes before slicing into wedges to serve. Can be made with ground turkey instead of beef.

339 calories and 9.6 gram of fat per generous serving.

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s cooking columnist. Her regular column, Kitchen Wit and Wisdom, appears every Wednesday in the Life section.