Malibu Beach Recovery Diet: Perfect Party Snacks
Feed party guests the MBRC way!
The covers of magazines are already working on our Thanksgiving senses by presenting us with perfect images of turkey and sides, as if we needed a month or two to rehearse the most important food celebration of the year. Nowhere more than during this period are we tempted to forgo any calorie counting and glycemic index diet. And you know as well as I do that this ends with our customary promise to drop our bad habits on January 1st, as soon as the ball hits the “5-4-3-2-1-Happy-New-Year” mark.
Well, it doesn’t really have to be that way. There are a few ways where what we eat can be as rich and decadent, as tasteful and enticing as what we used to eat – emphasis on “used to”…
Take pizza for instance, once the forbidden reward that we all could eat all day long, hot, cold, stale and straight out of the fridge, that brought together kids and college students, tired moms and evening bowlers alike. New varieties of pizza have emerged that can be healthy as well as delicious, and I am not talking about carry out or delivered there… the ones that we can make ourselves. If you have a fabulous crust recipe that involves throwing the dough in the air and skillfully catching it before it lands on poor old Fido, have a blast! But for most of us, it means purchasing a ready-made fresh dough from our local supermarket and deciding how to make it healthy by handpicking the ingredients that you like instead of letting Papa John do the thinking for you. Burrata, ricotta, goat cheese are all excellent substitutions for the fat laden and chewy mozzarella. New toppings like butternut squash, pesto, caramelized onions, sage and fennel, roasted garlic, sundried tomatoes or arugula will add in flavor and originality, and there is really no limit to your imagination. Cut it in 1″x1” squares and you have a perfect appetizer to pass along while you sit and catch up with cousin Joe.
Dips are another fabulous resource for entertaining in style, and combinations of eggplants and yogurt or hummus with all sorts of add-ins can be served alongside toasted whole-wheat pita wedges or thin slices of whole-wheat baguettes, or even vegetables cut into sticks for an even healthier appetizer.
In other words, if, instead on focusing on the few things that we cannot have, we discover the multitude and amazing variety of what we can have, we can embrace this new way of eating that is actually good for us. It is another example of the “glass half full vs. glass half empty” attitude. Who knows, you might even convince your pizza-obsessed cousins to take the ride with you on the brighter side of healthy food!
Enjoy and Bon Appetit!
Turkey Meatballs with Sage and Cranberries
Makes 8 servings (about 56 one-inch mini-meatballs)
1 pound ground lean turkey
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup fresh whole-wheat breadcrumbs, soaked in 1 ounce skim milk
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage or 1/2 tsp dried
3/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground marjoram
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup Fage Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 Tbsp chopped mint
1 tsp garlic powder
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients, being careful not to overmix. Cover and chill for at least 2 1/2 hours. Chilling will help the meatballs keep their shape while cooking.
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper; brush the paper with oil or olive oil spray.
Roll the meat into 1-inch balls and place them on the baking sheet 1/2 inch apart. Bake them until the balls are brown and bounce back to the touch (internal temperature should reach 165 degrees) 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the baking sheet and let rest.
For the yogurt dip, mix all ingredients together and refrigerate.
Serve warm with the yogurt dip on the side.
Can also be served with your favorite cranberry relish.
Charred Eggplant Dip
1 large eggplant
3 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup Fage greek yogurt 0%
2 Tbsp lemon juice plus zest of the lemon
2 Tbsp minced parsley, cilantro and mint
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Place the eggplant over the flame of the burner, like you have seen it done for peppers, to char the skin all around. Wear protective gloves or use tongs to avoid burning yourself.
Transfer the charred eggplant to a baking dish. Add the shallots, cut in half lengthwise, the garlic and drizzle all with the oil. Season generously with salt and pepper. Roast for about 35 minutes, depending on the size of the eggplant, until very tender. Let cool completely before scraping the flesh of the eggplant into a colander. Let it drain of its juices for 15 minutes.
Mince the flesh of the eggplant, as well as the garlic and the shallots and mash them coarsely into a bowl. Add the yogurt, the lemon juice and zest and the herbs. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Refrigerate until time to serve.
Serve with toasted whole-wheat pita wedges or on toasted whole-wheat baguette slices.
Butternut Squash Pizza
Makes topping for 8 individual pizzas or 1 large one
1 small butternut squash (or 1 package peeled and cut squash)
1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
3/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1 1/2 cups grated Fontina cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Pizza dough (see recipe)
Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Prick the rind with a fork. Place the squash, cut side down, in a baking dish and add 1/4 inch water. Microwave the squash on high 10 minutes, checking for doneness. (To bake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Place squash, cut side down, on a baking sheet. Bake until soft, about 1 hour.) Remove and cool. Scoop out the flesh and place it in a medium-sized bowl. Mix with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
Heat the oil in a medium-sized pan over medium heat and sauté the onions until light brown. Remove the onions from heat and cool. Season with salt.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Prepare the crust (or crusts if you are serving individual ones).
In a separate bowl, mix the cheeses together. Spread the cheese mixture over each crust and top with the onions. Top with dollops of squash; sprinkle with parsley.
Place the pizza(s) in the oven and cook for 15 minutes, watching closely until cheese starts to bubble and bottom is golden brown.
Remove from the oven and serve immediately.
I selected this dough, courtesy of Wolfgang Puck’s Spago restaurant, because it is easy to make in a food processor.
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm tap water (110 to 115 degrees)
1 tsp agave
3 cups (approximately) whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons additional to brush over the dough
Dissolve the yeast in the water along with the agave in 1/4 cup of the warm water
Combine flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse once or twice. Add the remaining ingredients and process until the dough forms a ball.
Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead two or three minutes longer. The dough should be smooth and firm.
Put the dough in an oiled bowl and seal the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place for 30 to 45 minutes, or until it has nearly doubled. When ready the dough will stretch when it is lightly pulled.
Punch down the dough, knead it briefly, and divide it into as many parts as you want pizzas, depending if you are serving individual or large pizzas. Roll each piece into a ball and refrigerate for 15 minutes before using. (If you wish to leave the dough in the refrigerator for an extended period of time, return it to the oiled bowl, seal it with plastic wrap and let it rise slowly again. Let the dough sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes before using it after prolonged refrigeration.)
To make the pizza, preheat the oven to 500 degrees and bake the pie directly on a pizza stone for about 15 minutes. If you do not have a pizza stone, use an upside down baking sheet.