tasteovers by jackie

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peppery romano “fried” zucchini chips

Posted by on Mar 22, 2015 in tasteovers by jackie | 0 comments

Peppery Romano “Fried” Zucchini Chips

When served on an appetizer menu, zucchini chips sound like they may be healthier than some other options. Unfortunately, the zucchini acts like a mop and soaks up oodles of oil in the process of being fried. It’s usually served with a dip or sauce, too. So even though you do get some vegetable benefit, the greasy app can be associated with over a meal’s worth of calories.

In my version of zucchini chips, the focus stays on the zucchini. The coating includes a crispy combination of Romano cheese and whole-wheat Panko breadcrumbs. They get deliciously browned by baking (aka “oven-frying”); no deep frying is required. For extra pep, a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper is the key.

This month’s Recipe Redux challenge was to create a “two for one” recipe—meaning one recipe that you can serve in two ways. Consider it like cooking once, but eating twice. So check out below for how I like to dish up extra zucchini chips … when I have extra!

Calories saved: 502

Why it’s better for you? You’ll get your veggies with a just-right amount of healthful oil.

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mini chili and cheese bowls

Posted by on Mar 2, 2015 in tasteovers by jackie | 0 comments

mini chili and cheese bowls

Every year I create a new chili recipe. This year I decided to have extra fun with it and make a party-friendly chili. The recipe is served up in personal-sized sourdough bread bowls. And yes, you can and should eat the bowl!

The chili is a good-for-you bean lovers’ version along with my signature additions of cinnamon and fresh herbs. The bowls are topped with luscious cheese— Sargento® Deli Style Sliced Natural Sharp Cheddar Cheese, that is. To entertain in style, serve each of these cheese-laced “edible” chili bowls topped with Greek yogurt or sour cream. Don’t forget some jalapeño slices for a kick in the palate, too.

Calories saved: 85

Did you know? Pasteurized Process Cheese Food, sometimes known as American singles, is only required to contain 51% real cheese. Sargento slices are 100% real, natural cheese. I made this chili recipe with Sargento® Deli Style Sliced Natural Sharp Cheddar Cheese. Choose sharp Cheddar, like I did, or pick your favorite variety. (Hint: Sargento has 30 delicious sliced varieties.)

Disclosure Note: I teamed up as a paid spokesperson with Sargento Foods to provide you this blog post. The recipe and opinions expressed in this post are my own.

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spicy dark chocolate “gelato” {recipe redux}

Posted by on Feb 22, 2015 in tasteovers by jackie | 10 comments

spicy dark chocolate gelato

What’s your favorite chocolate pairing? Maybe chocolate and strawberries? Or perhaps chocolate and peanut butter? There are so many pairings I adore, it’s difficult to choose. Chocolate and mint is definitely one of them. I’m a lover of chocolate with spice and “crave” chocolate with salt, too.

This month’s Recipe Redux theme was to highlight a chocolate match. Since I couldn’t decide on just one, I picked three: bananas, jalapeño, and sea salt! Yes, it’s a bit unique. But trust me when I say the combination in this inspired “gelato” truly tastes exotic. The banana is the base of this ice cream-like treat instead of rich milk or cream—making it extra calorie-friendly, yet still super creamy and comforting. You’ll grill the jalapeño for extra intrigue. Plus, this chocolaty recipe is surprisingly simple to make. Savor every single sweet, spicy, salty, and ever-so-slightly smoky taste of it!

(Hint: This “gelato” provides only 70 calories a serving. That means you actually can enjoy second helpings!)

Calories saved: 180

Why it’s better for you? It counts as a fruit serving!

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spinach & artichoke flatbread pizza {meatless monday}

Posted by on Feb 8, 2015 in tasteovers by jackie | 2 comments

spinach, artichoke, and swiss cheese flatbread pizza

Cheesy pizza is a food that I simply don’t think I could live without! Luckily, as long as it’s not loaded up with greasy pepperoni and sausage, it can be good for you. And if you top it with plenty of vegetables, it can be extra good for you. That’s what I’ve done here with a luscious-tasting spinach-artichoke topping that was inspired by spinach-artichoke dip! It’s served on flatbread, like whole grain pocketless pita, to keep it simple. Enjoy it as a personal pizza anytime. Or arrange slices on a platter for a party appetizer that’ll impress your guests.

Calories saved: 90 (or more!)

Why it’s better for you? It’s loaded with veggie and whole grain goodness!

Disclosure Note: One of my clients is Sargento® Foods. I did not receive compensation for this blog post. The recipe and opinions expressed in this post are my own.

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smoky pan-grilled baba ghanoush dip {Recipe ReDux}

Posted by on Jan 22, 2015 in tasteovers by jackie | 4 comments

smoky pan-grilled baba ghanoush dip

I love good chips and French onion dip at a party. Perhaps too much! But rather than develop a new sour creamy-style dip, I opted for inspiration from my Lebanese roots (thanks to my mom!). The result is an updated classic baba ghanoush. When aiming for healthfulness, I figure you simply can’t go wrong by making a dip full of vegetable goodness!

Another twist was tossed into my recipe development mix. For this month’s “Recipe ReDux” challenge, the goal was to focus on the trend of smoking … the culinary kind of smoking, of course. So I pan-grilled eggplant while keeping it covered with a lid to trap in all of the delicious smokiness. Then I added an extra kick of smoked delight, “heat” and earthiness by way of smoked paprika, harissa, and cumin, respectively. If you can’t find harissa, no worries; simply use your favorite hot sauce.

To serve, rather than going with greasy chips, you’ll dunk yet more vegetables, like fresh red bell pepper strips or cherry tomatoes, into this veggie-based dip. You can pair it with fresh whole grain pita wedges or pita chips, too. Think of it as Middle Eastern-inspired chips and dip. Be sure to include it as part of your regular ­party recipe rotation!

Calories saved: 30

Why it’s better for you? Vegetables. And more vegetables!

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dark chocolate dessert hummus {meatless monday}

Posted by on Jan 18, 2015 in tasteovers by jackie | 0 comments

dark chocolate dessert hummus

Nutella has been gaining in popularity. Unfortunately, its first ingredient is sugar. It contains artificial flavor, too. Yuck! There are several knockoffs of it now available—some made with “real” ingredients and healthier fats. My favorite is Nocciolata; but it’s rather rich to be eaten regularly. So I decided there needs to be another option—and I didn’t want to wait around for a food company to manufacture it. Here’s my result. I based it on hummus!

Hummus is traditionally made with chickpeas, tahini (sesame seed paste), lemon juice, garlic, and salt. So I took that concept and kept the chickpeas and a little salt, but used nut butter instead of tahini and balsamic vinegar as the acid of choice. Don’t worry, I didn’t keep the garlic. Rather, I added all of the fun stuff to transform it into dessert—bananas, cocoa powder, raspberry jam, vanilla extract, almond milk, and dark chocolate. I tossed a pinch of cayenne into the mix for an extra kick in the palate, too. Feel free to play around with ingredient amounts to make a version that suits your tastebuds best. If you want a nuttier taste, add a few drops of pure hazelnut or almond extract.

You can serve this just like you might Nutella. Though I prefer to enjoy it more like hummus since it is bean based, not sugar centered. My favorite pairing is fresh strawberries. When you can’t find seasonal, locally grown berries, know that Florida has us covered right now; their strawberries are seasonal from December through April. And California takes care of us most of the year! Dunking them into this dessert hummus is kind of like eating chocolate-covered strawberries … but better for you!

Calories saved: 140

Why it’s better for you? It’s based on beans!

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general tso’s-style eggplant stir-fry {meatless monday}

Posted by on Dec 29, 2014 in tasteovers by jackie | 2 comments

eggplant stir-fry with general tso’s sauce

I eat my fair share of Chinese food! But when I can make it at home, I feel so much better about what I’m putting in my body—because I know exactly the ingredients that I’m using.

One of the dishes that always seems crave-worthy to me is anything labeled “General Tso’s.” Unfortunately, that usually means breaded, fried, and tossed in a decadent sauce. I don’t order it for that very reason. So I finally created a healthier homemade version of General Tso’s.

This vegetarian stir-fry recipe is full of textures and colors, mainly from eggplant, edamame, and red bell pepper. It’s got a spicy kick, too. There’s no breading or deep frying required. It’s delicious as is or paired with steamed brown basmati rice. Add an extra splash of soy sauce, if you like. Get your chopsticks ready!

Calories saved: 270

Why it’s better for you? No breading or deep frying required. Plus it’s absolutely loaded with vegetables!

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fitter french fries {Recipe ReDux}

Posted by on Dec 22, 2014 in tasteovers by jackie | 14 comments

Fitter French Fries

As a member of Recipe ReDux, the goal this month was to grab a book and cook. But not just any recipe; it needed to be chosen from page 42 or 142 in the book—to celebrate the 42 months that ReDux has been around! So I picked a cookbook that I thought was sure to have something decadent in it: Potatoes: Comfort Food by Jane Stacey (Smallwood & Stewart, Inc., 1997). What did I find on page 42? A recipe for “The Perfect French Fries!”

Of course, I had to work my makeover magic on the recipe. I didn’t just spritz the potato slices with cooking spray, bake ‘em, and call it a day. My goal was to create a French fry recipe that everyone would want to make again and again—and, perhaps more importantly, not make you (or me!) want to dunk them in mayo to make them amazing. The result: “Fitter French Fries.” Check the recipe out!

Calories saved: 200

Why it’s better for you? Added a delicious hint of antioxidant benefits by keeping on the potato peels and sprinkling with several spices.

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