Make: The Low-Cal, Four-Ingredient Dessert You’ll Absolutely Love

Photo by Becca Boyd

Photo by Becca Boyd

Guys, I’m not going to lie: Baking can be hard. It’s like one big chemistry experiment that can go horribly awry if you mis-measure an ingredient by just thiiiis much. It’s why I get phone calls from my friends all the time, who ask me why their cookies got so thin, why their bread didn’t rise, why their cake was dry. And etc.

So today I’m going to introduce you to a dessert that you seriously couldn’t screw up if you tried. Here’s what it involves: melting chocolate, spreading it on a sheet, and topping it with whatever you want. Easy as pie (except this recipe is actually easy, whereas pie is not). What I’m talking about is bark, thin chocolate bites you can customize to your liking. And it’s totally diet-friendly, too: The thinner you spread it, the fewer calories you’ll take in. This is a treat that I can, with complete sincerity, describe as healthy.

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Make: Cream-less Creamy Broccoli Soup with Cheddar Croutons

Photo by Becca Boyd

Photo by Becca Boyd

You’re probably wondering why I’m posting a soup recipe on a day when temperatures are poised to reach nearly 80 degrees. Here’s why: I eat soup throughout the year—it’s easy to make in big batches, wonderfully freezable, and perfect for grab-and-go lunches—so I don’t let the thermometer determine my soup habits. If you’re a cold-weather soup eater only, save this recipe for Wednesday, when we’re back in the 50s.

This soup is one of my sneakiest recipes to date—sneaky because it tastes so creamy you’ll think it’s loaded with fat and calories, but in fact it’s just the opposite. The low-fat sour cream and buttermilk are the cream-makers here, and they work their magic for a fraction of the bad stuff.

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Make: 100-Calorie Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies

Photograph by Becca Boyd

Photograph by Becca Boyd

I’ve read before that having something sweet with your healthy breakfast helps with cravings and weight loss. That’s why I’ve made a habit of eating a small handful of Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips with my coffee, and I munch happily every morning knowing that science backs me up.

Now I’m on a mission to get you to embrace the dessert-for-breakfast concept. Hence: the chocolate chip breakfast cookie. It’s portable, pre-portioned and enough of a treat that you’ll find yourself looking forward to it (which is a boon for you breakfast skippers—yes, I’m judging). It’s perfect for early morning runners or those who like to hit snooze too many times; just freeze the cookies in bags of two and pull a bag out the night before to thaw.

This cookie is totally customizable, too, so if you want to swap the mix-ins, have at it. Just keep the ratios roughly the same.

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Make: Grilled Romaine Hearts and Flank Steak Salad with Creamy Herb Dressing

Photograph by Becca Boyd

Photograph by Becca Boyd

I know some of you might disagree with me, but I personally believe that red meat has its place in a healthy diet if you enjoy it and it makes you feel well; it provides nutrients such as B vitamins, zinc, and iron, not to mention a boatload of protein. If your budget allows, choose grass-fed, locally raised meat, as it’s better for the environment and your body.

This salad provides everything a good dinner should involve: variety in temperature, color, texture, and nutrients. A feast for your eyes as well as your mouth, it come together quickly for a perfect weeknight dinner.

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Make: Open-Faced Breakfast Sandwich with Hummus, Tomato and Poached Egg

egg sandwich

We eat a lot of organic eggs in my house—and not just for breakfast. Though fried and scrambled eggs go best with toast and fruit, a poached egg is a posh and impressive variation that goes well on almost anything: atop dressed micro-greens, pasta, even burgers. They require a bit of kitchen panache, but once you’ve got the technique down there’s no end to possible uses. Give it a try in this open-faced sandwich and feel free to sub in sliced avocado, bell pepper or cucumber.

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30-Minute Dinner: Orange Sesame Chicken with Whole-Wheat Noodles

Photo by Becca Boyd

Photo by Becca Boyd

I love one-bowl dinners on weeknights, especially ones that lack arbitrary, hard-to-find ingredients. This one is light and healthy, uses easy-to-find ingredients (in fact, I bet most of them are in your pantry and fridge right now), and is a surefire crowd-pleaser. Case in point: My two-year-old daughter devoured it—bonus!

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How to Freeze Anything For Easy Meals in a Pinch

freezer

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The other night I received a text from Be Well editor Emily Leaman, asking how she should go about freezing a big pot of hot soup she’d just made. After some back and forth, she expressed her general freezing confusion and suggested I do a post on my most used kitchen tool—and perhaps your most overlooked one—the freezer!

During my first year as a high school cooking teacher, I received a crash course on freezing from my 70-year-old coworker. Our budget was tight, and wasting food was a cardinal sin. I’ll never forget when she threw a gallon of skim milk in the freezer because of a snow delay—and it came out perfectly useable weeks later! I was immediately hooked on freezing.

Since a thorough lesson in all-things freezer would bore you, I’ll speak from personal experience. But first, a few general tips about freezing:

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Make: Gluten-Free Noodleless Eggplant Lasagna Made in a Crock Pot

lasagna

Although a lot of people swear by their slow cookers, I’ve had as many good experiences as bad—so needless to say I’m a bit cautious. I find that vegetables tend to steam in the Crock Pot, and limp, colorless veggies are so not my jam. If you can relate, I hope that my Crock Pot reservations will convince you that if I’m posting this recipe to Be Well Philly, it must be worth your time.

I actually have two eggplant-lasagna recipes on my website, Home Beccanomics, but the calorie counts aren’t included (on purpose). You see, those recipes include noodles, and noodles tend to be a major player in the calorie game. This trimmed up noodle-free version creates layers with sliced eggplant and packs major flavor into the cheese with sharp Parmesan and fragrant fresh basil. Yes, digging into a hot, saucy, cheesy bowl of Italian food is possible for the calorie conscious.

One word of warning: Basil turns army green once heated, especially if heated for six-plus hours. So if you’re serving this dish to someone other than yourself, garnish with Parmesan and fresh basil with a heavy hand. Once they’ve taken the first bite they won’t mind the muted color in the least.

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Make: Guilt-Free Blackberry-Almond Muffins

I just love muffins. Done right, they’re the original 100-calorie packs but without any wasted packaging. Allow me to explain.

You see, mu friends, you needn’t fear the muffin. When you’re smart about your ingredients and mixins’, your muffins won’t tip the caloric scale. And paired with a nonfat latte, you’ve got a high-fiber, high-protein grab-and-go meal.

You can make these ahead and freeze them in bags of two or three. Thaw one bag per week and you’ve got a month’s worth of baked goods that only took twenty minutes of your time on the front end. Any early-morning run resolution-ers out there? This muffin will give you the perfect amount of energy to get you through.

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Make This Appetizer: Thai Peanut Chicken on Belgian Endive

Shutterstock

Belgian endive is like the Ritz cracker of the produce word: endlessly versatile and you can top it with pretty much anything. The difference? It has 100 percent fewer calories.

If you made my peanut dip last month, you’ll notice this sauce looks familiar—it’s one in the same! Lots of flavor for a manageable amount of calories, so when it’s tossed with light, healthy vegetables and then placed on another light healthy vegetable, you’re in for a visually appealing, high protein, low calorie snack that you can reach for again and again.

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