Friday, March 13, 2009


After a few meals at the fabulous Ruby Tuesday salad bar, we decided to make fancier salads at home.  The trick is to watch the amounts of the higher calorie items and dressings that go into your composition.

Greens:  We grow our own mixed lettuces in the spring and summer, but the rest of the year we puchase the bags of mixed baby greens.  You can also use leaf lettuce, romaine, spinach, or your favorite greens.  Remember, the deeper green colors have more good nutrition.  (We hate head lettuce -yuk!)

Other low calorie stuff - USE LOTS:  Tomatoes, cucumber slices, carrots, onion, shredded cabbage, salsa, cauliflower, broccoli, celery. 

Medium calorie stuff - USE SOME to make your salad interesting:  beets, grapes, craisins, dried apricot pieces, dried cherries, edamame beans (shown in picture*), kidney beans, chickpeas, peas, corn.

* Edamame beans are soy beans, can be purchased frozen in the pod.  You thaw them, use the beans, but throw away the pods.  Edamame is delicious!

Higher calorie stuff - WATCH THE AMOUNTS YOU USE: Hard boiled egg, cheese, Chinese rice noodles (from a can - for a touch of crispy), croutons, sunflower seeds, almond slices, pecans, walnuts, pignoli (pine nuts), olives, meats, salad dressings. 

Dressings: Our current favorite dressing is Kraft Light Raspberry Vinaigrette which shows 60 calories for 2 tablespoons.  Salsa is another wonderful alternative.  Read the labels on your dressings!  Sometimes you can cut the calorie count by mixing equally with low fat yogurt (like ranch dressing).  Whatever you choose, be careful, as you can really load up the calories with the wrong choice of dressing.

Restaurant Leftovers

Restaurant meals are often much higher calorie count than we should be eating.  One of our favorite local meals is this Angus burger with cheese, onions, and mushrooms, with a baked potato and a side of vegetables, and bread.  At the restaurant we eat 1/2 of the meat and potato, the bread, and all of the vegetables (if you have the restraint, you can also skip the bread!).  We bring the other 1/2 of the meat and potato home.  The next day, we add a salad and some steamed vegetables, and have another wonderful meal.  

Meatball Stew

This is a great recipe we have used for years.  To control calories, be sure to watch the calorie count of the meatballs you purchase.  We are currently using Casa Di Bertacchi Italian Style meatballs from Sam's (frozen).  They show 5 meatballs = 220 calories.  This is lower than some of the meatballs we used previously.  You can also make your own meatballs, but watch the calories.

Meatball Stew (serves 4)
20 Italian meatballs
15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
10 oz potato, chopped
16 oz frozen peas and carrots (or mixed, or add a few lima beans)
15 oz can green beans
2 beef bullion cubes
1 t chili powder
4 c water (or use carrot water, see January 18.2009*)

Put all ingredients in a large pot excdept the green beans.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add the green beans and simmer 5 more minutes.  Serve.