Low Cal Sloppy Joes

By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved.

Low calorie sloppy joes? Are you kidding me? Nope. My Sloppy Joe Sauce comes in at 212 calories for 11 servings, so the quality of the meat and the calories in the bread or buns is the majority of the calories per serving.

INGREDIENTS

  • Mike’s Sloppy Joe Sauce (212 cal)
  • 1 lb or 80/20 (1152 cal) or 85/15 (975 cal) or 93/7 ground beef (680 cal)
  • 11 slices low calorie bread (495 cal) or 6 burger buns (660 cal) – I buy both at Target

Total calories:
80/20 ground beef: 212 + 1152 = 1364 cal. With bread: 1364 + 495 = 1859 = 169 cal/serving. With buns: 1364 + 660 = 2024 = 184 cal/serving.
85/15 ground beef: 212 + 975 = 1189 cal. With bread: 1189 + 495 = 1684 = 153 cal/serving. With buns: 1189 + 660 =1849 – 168 cal/serving.
93/7 ground beef: 212 + 680 = 892 cal. With bread: 892 + 495 = 1387 = 126 cal/serving. With buns: 892 + 660 = 1552 = 149 cal/serving.

The range is 126 calories/serving to 184 calories/serving, which is quite reasonable.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Brown a pound of ground beef.
  2. Drain the grease then pat down the meat with paper towels to get rid of the fat.
  3. Pour a batch of Mike’s Sloppy Joe Sauce over the meat, reduce the burner to low (~ 2), then simmer 10 minutes before serving.

Mike’s Sloppy Joe Sauce

By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved.

I have never had sloppy joes as good as the ones my mother made when I was growing up. They were excellent but unfortunately not the lowest calorie food, so I made a calorie conscious version that I’d like to share. I am going to tweak this over time – like I do some of the other recipes – because this could be improved. Any suggestions from you readers are appreciated.

This makes enough sauce when added to 1 lb of ground beef for 11 – 1/4 cup servings, and the calories per serving is decent. 212 total calories divided into 11 portions results in less than 20 calories per serving of sauce. You could use this as a pizza base since it is fairly sweet.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 – 15 oz can tomato sauce (140 cal)
  • 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper (10 cal)
  • 1/4 cup diced white or yellow onion (18 cal)
  • 4 tbsp worcestershire sauce (44 cal)
  • 4 tbsp dill pickle juice (my Mother’s secret ingredient)
  • 1 tsp Ancho Chili powder
  • 1 tsp Splenda
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. Saute the diced onions and peppers in a skillet – they need to be softened and the onions should start to be translucent.
  2. Add the tomato sauce, worcestershire sauce, dill pickle juice, Ancho chili powder, Splenda, garlic powder, kosher salt, and black pepper.
  3. Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat, cover, and let simmer 10 minutes, which should give you time to brown the ground beef.

Low Calorie Fried Egg Breakfast

By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved.

Fried eggs, bacon, toast, and fruit are part of traditional breakfast platters served in homes and at many restaurants. Is it possible to have a low calorie version of fried egg breakfast? Yes, using calorie controlled ingredients and egg substitutes like AllWhites®, a usually high calorie/high fat/high cholesterol breakfast can be enjoyed even by health conscious people.  This is the way I enjoy 2 eggs fried hard, bacon, toast, and fruit for breakfast while controlling the calories and cholesterol.

INGREDIENTS (Serves 2)

  • 2 large eggs (150 calories)
  • 1/2 cup AllWhites® (60 calories)
  • 1/4 cup skim milk (2 oz = 18 calories)
  • 1/4 cup diced onions (16 calories)
  • 2 slices center cut bacon (80 calories)
  • 1/4 cantaloupe melon (46 calories)
  • 2 slices low calorie bread (80 calories)
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • Vegetable spray (like Pam®)

Total calories: 150 + 60 + 18 + 16 + 80 + 46 + 80 = 450 cal/2 servings = 250 calories/serving.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place a pan on a burner on the stove set to medium (about 5). After the pan warms up add 2 slices of center cut bacon. After the bacon is cooked remove it and place on a plate covered with a paper towel to absorb the grease.
  2. Toast 2 slices of bread and set aside.
  3. Slice 1/4 of a cantaloupe into 2 portions and set aside.
  4. Spray a small pan with vegetable spray, then put it on a burner on the stove set to medium (about 5).
  5. Add the following to a bowl: 1 egg, 1/4 cup AllWhites®, 1/8 cup skim milk, and a pinch of salt; whisk the ingredients together.
  6. Pour the egg mix into the pan and cook. Remove when finished.
  7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 to fix the second serving of fried eggs.
  8. Each serving is 2 fried eggs, 1 slice bacon, cantaloupe and toast. Enjoy.

Tip! It is easy to add hash browns to this breakfast – just use 5 oz of potatoes for each serving to add 110 calories for a total of 360 calories per serving (much lower than similar food from a restaurant or fast food joint). If you’re really hungry, add a second slice of bacon for another 40 calories and you still come in at a mere 400 calories for a meal traditionally high in calories and cholesterol.

BBQ Chicken Drumsticks – Wet Rub

By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved.

How can anything with BBQ sauce be healthy for people watching calories? Portion control. I love chicken – Long John Silver’s Chicken Planks and KFC BBQ chicken  rock – but I still have to keep an eye on my calories so I make a wet rub recipe for BBQ drumsticks to help stave off a run to the calorie killers at fast food joints. This recipe is simple. It uses a slow cooker to cook the drumsticks plus some potato and onions as side dishes.

INGREDIENTS (Serves 5)

  • 10 skinless chicken drumsticks (720 cal)
  • 15 tbsp KC Masterpiece BBQ sauce (450 cal)
  • 5 – 5oz Russett potatoes (590 cal)
  • 1 large Vidalia Onion (63 cal)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp chicken base (15 cal)

Total calories: 720 + 450 + 590 + 63 + 15 = 1838 cal/5 servings = 353 calories/serving.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Coat each drumstick in 1 tbsp BBQ sauce, then let marinade in the refrigerator 1 hr.
  2. Preheat the crock pot to low.
  3. Mix 1 tsp chicken base with 1/2 cup water and add it to the crock pot.
  4. Cut 5 potatoes into quarters, then place them in the crock pot. Salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Slice the onion into 5 equal slices and lay on top of the potato quarters. Salt to taste.
  6. Put the drumsticks on top of the onion slices.
  7. Cover and let cook 2.5 hours.
  8. Uncover, add another 1/2 tbsp BBQ sauce to each drumstick, then cover and cook another 30 minutes.
  9. Plate 2 drumsticks, 1 onion, and 4 potato quarters per person.

Calorie-Conscious Nachos

What better food to munch on when watching a game or movie than nachos? Most nachos served at stadiums, movie theaters, and fast food chains have tons of melted Velveeta® cheese, which is a sure diet buster. I love nachos and this is my portion-controlled version that allows me to enjoy nachos without add another 1-2 pounds of unwanted weight.

INGREDIENTS (Serves 4)

  • 1 lb 93% lean ground beef (680 cal)
  • 4 oz Low Fat Baked Tortilla Chips (472 cal)
  • 1 cup diced onions (67 cal)
  • 2 cups Pace Picante® (2 c = 32 tbsp = 160 cal)
  • 8 oz No fat Cheddar Cheese (336 cal)
  • Jalapenos to taste

Total calories: 680 + 472 + 67 + 160 + 336 = 1715 cal/4 servings = 429 calories/serving.
429 calories may sound like a lot, but you get 15 chips covered with meat and cheese and onions and picante sauce, whereas FatSecret lists a 6-8 chip serving of nachos with regular cheese and jalapenos at 608 cal (no meat or picante sauce) – the no fat cheese and low fat meat make the difference.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Spray a pan with no stick spray, then add and brown the ground beef.
  2. Arrange the tortilla chips on 4 plates. Crush them if you want or leave them whole.
  3. Add 1/4 lb meat to the chips on each plate.
  4. Add the onions, then 1/2 cup picante sauce to the chips on each plate.
  5. Top  with 2 oz cheese, then add jalapenos to taste.
  6. Put each plate in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, then serve.

Low Calorie Steak Burgers

By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved.

I use 93% lean ground beef in my Guiltless Hamburger, but I have to confess I really love steak burgers. I bought a meat grinder and started grinding chuck steaks, chuck roasts, round roasts, and chuck mock steaks for my burgers. The meat is so juicy and tender, and the flavor just rocks.

Grinders can be expensive or inexpensive – we bought our powered grinder at Cabelas for $49.99 and have saved a bundle of money by grounding meat for hamburger recipes (like Spicy Hot Chili). I also feel freshly ground meat is better for us because it doesn’t need the preservatives that are used in packaged ground meat at the grocery store.

INGREDIENTS (Serves 4)

  • 1 lb of chuck steak (585 cal), chuck roast (585 cal), round roast (680 cal), or chuck mock steak (485 cal)
  • 4 burger buns (90 cal)
  • 4 slices of bacon (center cut – 160 cal)
  • 4 thin slices (1/8”) of onion (40 cal)
  • 4 tsp mustard (12 cal)
  • 8 dill pickle slices (Gedney’s – 20 cal)
  • 4 pinches of no fat cheddar cheese
  • 4 pieces iceberg lettuce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Total calories:
Chuck Steak, Chuck Roast – 585 /4 = 147 + 90 + 40 + 10 + 3 + 5 = 295 calories/serving
Round Roast – 680/4 = 170 + 90 + 40 + 10 + 3 + 5 = 318 calories/serving
Chuck Mock Steak – 485 = 122 + 90 + 40 + 10 + 3 + 5 = 270 calories/serving

DIRECTIONS

  1. Slice the meat into 1 inch thick strips and process with the meat grinder. Please follow all safety advise from the grinder vendor.
  2. Preheat a burner on the stove to medium (5 – 6).
  3. Spray the skillet with no stick spray and put it on the burner.
  4. Add 4 slices of bacon to the skillet and begin frying it.
  5. Separate the meat into 4 stacks, then carefully and gently (SK, please forgive the use of excess adverbs) form the meat into 4 patties.
  6. Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of each patty.
  7. Add the patties. Yes, you are cooking the burgers in the same container as the bacon, which really kicks up the flavor.
  8. Flip the bacon when it is ready and remove to a plate covered with a paper towel.
  9. Flip the patties when the first side is done – probably around 6 – 8 minutes.
  10. Put a piece of bacon on top of each patty, then add a pinch of cheese on top of the bacon.
  11. Cover the skillet and wait 2 minutes.
  12. Remove from the stove and put the 4 burgers to a plate with a paper towel and let rest 5 minutes.
  13. Add the rest of the condiments to the buns, add burgers and then serve. Now enjoy a real treat.

Tip! You can use other cuts of meat like rib eye, porterhouse, T bone, and even fillet mignon. Fillet mignon has 1116 calories/lb, so a quarter pounder would have 427 calories, but the cost would be a lot higher than the price charged by Burger King. The 4 cuts I use keep the calories between 270 and 318 calories per burger and I buy the meat when it goes on sale, so you can eat a burger and french fries without breaking the calorie bank or pocket book.

Crunchy Chicken Strips

This is another chicken recipe, but this one addresses my need for the occasional chicken strips while catching a game on TV. Like my Panko Crusted BBQ Chicken recipe, this is simple to make, tasty to eat, and the calories are very respectable for one serving, so you can enjoy some Guiltless French Fries at the same time.

INGREDIENTS (Serves 2)

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (16 ox – 440 cal)
  • 1/4 cup egg substitute (30 cal)
  • 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs (55 cal)
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour (57 cal)
  • Non-stick vegetable spray

Total calories: 440 + 30+ 55 + 57 = 582 cal/2 servings = 291 calories/8 oz serving.

I control the amount of sauces I use: 1 tbsp BBQ sauce (~ 25 cal) + buffalo sauce (~5 cal) is enough dipping sauce for these strips.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Spray an oven safe pan with the non-stick spray.
  3. Measure out 1/4 cup of panko bread crumbs, 2 tbsp flour, and 1/4 cup egg substitute.
  4. Cut each chicken breast into strips, dust the strips with the flour, then dunk in the egg substitute.
  5. Sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper, then sprinkle 1/2 of the panko bread crumbs over the tops of the strips.
  6. Put the strips (crumb-coated sides down) in the pan.
  7. Sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper, then sprinkle the rest of the panko bread crumbs over the strips.
  8. Lightly spray the tops of the strips with the vegetable spray, then put the pan in the oven and cook for 15 minutes.
  9. Turn the broiler on and cook another 90 seconds – this gets the top of the chicken strips a nice golden brown. Monitor ever 30 seconds to verify the crumbs are not getting too dark.
  10. Remove the pan and cut the largest chicken strip in half to verify it is completely cooked – not pink, and only clear juices should run from the meat when it is cut. Plate and enjoy.

Tip! A little honey go well with BBQ sauce. You could drizzle honey over the strips before cooking them – check the calories of you honey and measure to make sure you accurately track your calories. Don’t get in the habit of just eye-balling measurements. Control the portions and control the calories.

Tip! Buffalo sauce is generally lower in calories than BBQ or steak sauce, and many restaurants use it as a chicken strip condiment. You might also try Tabasco sauce if you like a little heat.

Tip! I like a little paprika, onion salt or garlic salt to spice the chicken up.

Panko Crusted BBQ Chicken Breasts

I love BBQ, but the only way I know to make BBQ work for people watching calories is to restrict the BBQ sauce to 1 or 2 servings as listed on the product label. This recipe is my take on crunchy BBQ chicken. It is simple to make, tasty to eat, and the calories are very respectable.  And before I forget to mention it, I buy Kikkoman Panko Crumbs at Cub – last time they were $2.25/box and 110 calories per 1/2 cup.

INGREDIENTS (Serves 4)

  • 4 – 10 oz chicken breasts (880 cal)
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs (220 cal)
  • 4 tbsp BBQ sauce (varies – typically 30 cal/tbsp)
  • No stick vegetable spray

Total calories: 880 + 220 + 120 = 1220 cal/4 servings = 305 calories/serving.

Remember: If you want to add more BBQ sauce then just keep track of how much you add.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Spray an oven safe pan with the no stick spray.
  3. Measure out 1 cup of panko bread crumbs.
  4. Put the chicken breasts flat side up on a large plate, rub 1/2 tbsp BBQ on each breast, then sprinkle 1/3 of the bread crumbs over the 4 breasts.
  5. Put the 4 breasts in the pan, flat side down, then rub the remaining BBQ sauce on the tops of the breasts. Sprinkle the remaining bread crumbs over the tops of the 4 breasts.
  6. Put the pan in the oven and cook for 25 – 26 minutes.
  7. Turn the broiler on and cook another 2 minutes – this gets the top of the chicken a nice golden brown. Monitor ever 30 seconds to verify the crumbs are not getting too dark.
  8. Remove the pan and cut the largest breast in half to verify it is completely cooked – not pink, and only clear juices should run from the meat when it is cut.
  9. Plate and enjoy.

Tips! Parsley or the tips of green onions makes a nice garnish. You might want to add a 1 tbsp dipping bowl to each plate – it looks nice and it has more tasty BBQ sauce. Control the portions and control the calories. To really conserve calories, just have 1/2 of a breast.

Chicken Perlou and Perlou Wraps

by Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved.

This is based on a recipe passed on from my mother, as it was my favorite meal when I was growing up. Mom’s version was different, in that it did not try to cut out unnecessary calories, but her version tasted great. I had friends that would ask when she was preparing it, and would hint they’d like to be invited for dinner, which we always did.  This recipe is to thank you for many wonderful, tasty meals, Mom. Gone, but never forgotten.

Note: To make this dish you need to know how to cook rice. I don’t care if you cook it on the stove, in the oven, or in a rice cooker. I’ve done it all three ways and the easiest for me is to use a rice cooker, so I will use it in the directions.

Chicken Perlou

INGREDIENTS (Serves 4)

  • 2 – 10 oz chicken breasts (440 cal)
  • 1 cup white rice (not cooked) (640 cal)
  • 1/2 medium onion – diced (30 cal)
  • 2.5 cups chicken stock, or 2.5 cups water and either 2.5 tsp chicken base or 3 chicken bullion cubes (~ 34 cal)
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (119 cal)

Total calories: 440 + 640 + 30 + 34 + 119 = 1263 cal/4 servings = 316 calories/serving

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat a burner on the stove to 6.
  2. Dice both chicken breasts. You want small 3/4” x 3/4” x 1/2” chunks of meat.
  3. Add 1 tbsp olive oil to a skillet, add the chunks of chicken and cook until done. The meat should be white, not browned, because it will finish cooking in the rice cooker. When it finishes cooking, put it on a plate lined with a paper towel.
  4. Measure 1 cup of rice, rinse it under cold water for 30 seconds, then add it to the rice cooker.
  5. Dice the onion and add it to the rice cooker.
  6. Add the chicken stock or base/bullion and water to the rice cooker. NOTE: I always prefer to use chicken base over stock or bullion cubes. I get a jar of it from Sam’s Club that is under $4 and has 80 servings per container, which is a lot less expensive than stock, and it tastes better and is less salty than bullion.
  7. Add the bay leaf to the rice cooker.
  8. Add the chicken chunks to the rice cooker.
  9. Following the directions for your brand of rice cooker, cook the rice. On my rice cooker, I check from time to time and stir the ingredients, and usually stop cooking before the rice cooker indicates it is finished. To be done, the liquid needs to be gone, but the rice can still be moist. You don’t want to try to completely dry the rice as the rice on the bottom of the pan will burn. This is a judgment call and really depends on the rice cooker.
  10. Remove and discard the bay leaf, serve, and enjoy.

Perlou Wraps

I love to use leftover perlou in wraps. I take 3/4 cup of perlou per large wrap (211 cal), put on a plate and microwave for 90 seconds, put the perlou in a wrap, microwave another 30 seconds, then enjoy a nice treat. Using Santa Fe Tortilla Company Whole Wheat Tortillas (100 cal), each wrap comes in around 311 calories, which is lower in calories and less expensive than a wrap from Qdoba’s or Chipolte’s.

Guiltless French Fries and Hash Browns

By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved.

Guiltless french fries and hash browns sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? I love potatoes and it hurt to cut them out of our meals when we started to lose weight but it was a necessity. After we lost weight, we decided to substitute baked and mashed potatoes for french fries and hash browns. You should check out my recipes for basil pesto potatoes and garlic mashed potatoes – they rock, but neither were not good permanent replacements for fries and hash browns.

I checked out low-calorie recipes in books, went online, and watched the cooking shows on the Cooking Channel. It seemed the best recommendation was to remember portion control and avoid deep-frying potatoes. One serving of potatoes is 5.3 oz – don’t look at a large potato and think it is a single serving. The quantity of potatoes is irrelevant – weight is everything. That works for me, as I get to eat my favorite forms of potatoes while keeping our calorie conscious approach to eating.

Important Tip! The important key to this approach is that a little prep time goes a long way. I bake enough potatoes once a week for whole potatoes, french fries, and hash browns for the entire week. I just need to slice fries or grate hash browns, so it takes very little time to make these sides when you plan ahead. And yes, these fries definitely go with my Guiltless Hamburger, while the hash browns work with my low calorie fried eggs recipe.

French Fries

INGREDIENTS (Makes 2 Servings)

  • 2 small (5 oz) russet potatoes (220 cal)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (119 cal)
  • kosher salt to taste

Total calories: 220 + 119 = 339cal/2 = 220 calories/serving

DIRECTIONS

  1. Bake the russet potatoes at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.
  2. Peel the potatoes, then use a french fry slicer (or cut them by hand) to get fries.
  3. Add the olive oil to a skillet and put on a burner set to 6 (med-high), and wait for it to get warm, then add the fries.
  4. Sprinkle with kosher salt and then cover the skillet and wait 4 minutes.
  5. Uncover the skillet and turn the fries over – I usually don’t try to get all 4 sides as cooking 2 or 3 sides works for me.
  6. Cover the skillet and let it go 2 minutes, then turn the burner down to low (1 or 2). The fries will continue to cook for a bit, so you can work on another side dish for your main meal.

Hash Browns

INGREDIENTS (Makes 2 Servings)

  • 2 small (5 oz) russet potatoes (880 cal)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (119 cal)
  • kosher salt to taste

Total calories: 220 + 119 = 339 cal/2 = 220 calories/serving

DIRECTIONS

  1. Bake the russet potatoes at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.
  2. Peel the potatoes, then use a grater to shred your hash browns.
  3. Add the olive oil to a skillet and put on a burner set to 6 (med-high), and wait for it to get warm, then add the hash browns.
  4. Sprinkle with kosher salt and then cover the skillet and wait 4 minutes.
  5. Uncover the skillet and turn the browns over.
  6. Cover the skillet and let it go 2 minutes, then turn the burner down to low (1 or 2). The hash browns will continue to cook for a bit, so you can work on the eggs for your breakfast.

Guiltless Hamburgers

Hamburgers are one of my five main food groups. When I started counting calories I was appalled by the number of calories in fast food burgers. One Burger King Single Whopper has 670 calories, and add 440 calories for an order of medium french fries and you just put away 1110 calories! I try to keep the total calories eaten during lunch and supper at 1000 – 1200, so I had to find a better way to have my burger and eat it too.

I experimented with different grades of beef – 75/25, 80/20, 85/15, and 93/7 – and found the meat with the highest fat content (75/25) made the tastiest burgers but the 331 calories just for the meat was more than I wanted, so I settled on 93/7 (170 cal/4 oz serving) for my burgers. That, and a decent burger bun from Cub Food at 90 cal keeps me under 300 calories before addressing condiments.

INGREDIENTS

All guiltless burgers start with:

  • 1/4 lb 93/7 lean round beef (170 cal)
  • 1 Cub Hamburger Bun (90 cal)

Total calories: 170 + 90 = 260 cal/serving, so add the following condiments to build your burger:

Condiments

A burger and bun with BBQ sauce is 330 calories without any other condiments. A traditional burger with ketchup, mustard, pickles, onions, cheese and lettuce also comes in at 330 calories. I usually make a traditional burger but use 1/2 the cheese (for about 23 cal) and a piece of bacon (35 cal) which gives me a 343 calorie bacon cheese burger. A taco burger (salsa, lettuce, cheese, onions) comes in at 314 calories (260 + 54) and it is a nice and different way to have a burger. Do the math and see which things you want and how much do you need for the burger to taste the way you prefer.

DIRECTIONS (Serves 4 – 4 burgers, 4 buns)

  1. Preheat an oven burner to medium (~5).
  2. Spray a 12″ skillet with no-stick vegetable spray.
  3. Divide a pound of ground beef into 4 equal pieces.
  4. Gently form each piece of meat into a patty about 3/4” – 1” thick. . They do not need to be perfectly round nor perfectly flat. Do the least amount of work to get them into the right shape, because over working the meat will make hard and dry patties that resemble hockey pucks.
  5. Make an indentation in the center of each patty – about 1/2” deep and 1/2” in diameter. This helps prevent the burger from swelling while cooking.
  6. Add salt and pepper to each side of the patties, then add them to the skillet.
  7. Cook for approximately 4 – 6 minutes, then flip the burgers.
  8. If you want cheese, this is the time to add it. Put the cheese on top of each patty, cover, and cook another 2 minutes.
  9. Toast the burger buns, then add condiments and burger patties. Now enjoy.

Tip! I rarely buy preformed patties at the grocery store, because I prefer to use as little force as necessary to mold the patty. Too much molding and squeezing the patty makes for a tough burger.

Southwest Baked Potatoes

Some of the common toppers for baked potatoes – bacon bits, sour cream, and butter – are sources of tons of extra calories. Another thing that can make a baked potato a bad choice for people watching their calories is portion size. I am surprised how many people feel a single potato is a single server – not true. Look at the serving size on a bag of potatoes and a typical serving size is around 5 oz, not 16 oz. If you eat a 1 lb baked potato, you’re actually eating 3 servings (over 330 cal) and after you count the calories from the toppings, you might be better off having a medium order of french fries.

Southwest baked potatoes are sometimes referred to as mexican potatoes, because they have most of the same is as a good taco: meat, picante sauce, onions, cheese, and jalapenos. I like these potatoes as a main course as well as a side dish or snack. This is my version of a southwest or Mexican seasonings with a potato to really add flavor without bloating the calories.

INGREDIENTS (Serves 4)

  • 4 – 5 oz potatoes (440 cal)
  • 4 oz 93% lean ground beef (170 cal)
  • 8 oz Picante (80 cal)
  • 4 oz reduced fat cheddar cheese (272 cal)
  • 4 oz onions (48 cal)
  • 8 – 12 jalapenos
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Total calories: 440 + 170 + 80 + 272 + 48 = 1010 cal/4 servings = 253 calories/serving

DIRECTION (Serves 4)

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Wrap 4 potatoes in aluminum foil, then put them in the oven and bake for 1 hr.
  3. Brown 1/4 pound of ground beef in a skillet on the stove.
  4. Remove the potatoes from the oven, unwrap and set them on a plate.
  5. Slice open each potato and push the ends in to loosen the inside of the potatoes.
  6. Add the toppings: 1 oz ground beef, 1 oz onions, 2 oz picante, 1 oz cheese, and 2-3 jalapenos to each potato.
  7. Serve and enjoy.

Ham and Cheese-Stuffed Biscuits

By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Who doesn’t love a good ham and cheese sandwich? I do, and I decided to try this as a change to my burger stuffed biscuit. These are actually quite easier to make, since there is less to do with ham. The calories for each biscuit is ~ 120 cal plus the 46 calories for the stuffing, so they are reasonable for people watching calories. The typical serving size is 2. Let’s get started with the biscuit dough:

INGREDIENTS – Biscuits (for 12 stuffed biscuits)

  • 2 cups flour (910 cal)
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder (8 cal)
  • 1/2 teaspoon creme of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup Butter-flavored Crisco (440 cal)
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (83 cal)
  • 1/4 cup skim milk (22 cal)
  • Non-stick vegetable spray (like Pam®)
  • 12 oz ham (420 cal)
  • 2 oz of 2% block cheddar cheese (136 cal – do not use shredded)
  • diced onions
  • dried mustard

Total calories: 910 + 8 + 440 + 83 + 22+ 420 + 136 = 2019 cal/6 servings = 338 calories/serving.

DIRECTIONS (Serves 6)

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Mix the 4 dry ingredients together, cut in the Crisco, and then add the buttermilk and skim milk. The dough is usually a little sticky, so put some flour down on the counter, knead the dough 10 – 15 times, then cut the dough in half.
  3. Use a roller to roll out the dough to a rectangle, then use a knife to cut it into 6 equal-sizes pieces.
  4. Now, take 1-12 cupcake pan, spray each cup with the non-stick vegetable spray.
  5. Put the 12 pieces of dough into the cupcake pan, molding them so there is a pocket to hold your preferred ingredients.
  6. Cut the ham into small cubes – about 1/4” by 1/4” per piece.
  7. Slice the block cheese into 12 equal portions.
  8. Add the 1/12th of the ham to each biscuit, then add the block cheese to each biscuit.
  9. Sprinkle a little dried mustard to each biscuit, then fold over the edges of the dough to seal the biscuit.
  10. Put the cupcake pan in the oven and bake at 450 degrees for 12 minutes, then remove and let rest 10 minutes before plating.

WARNING! The cheese will be melted and is very hot, so do not eat these fresh out of the oven. They can burn your mouth, so be careful when you try them.

TIP! Go easy on the mustard, as a little goes a long way and too much mustard can overpower the flavor of the ham.

Burger-Stuffed Biscuits

By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2009, All Rights Reserved.

The past year I’ve been making stuffed biscuits for clients, classmates, and coworkers and have yet to have a negative reaction from anyone that tried them. I was surprised how many women were amazed that I made my biscuits from scratch instead of using a mix, as that was not something they’d expect from a guy. Why make things from scratch? Because cooking is fun and it is less expensive to make things from scratch than buying preprocessed food, and you avoid all those preservatives so prevalent in modern preprocessed foods.

The calories for each biscuit is ~ 120 cal plus that of the stuffing, so they are reasonable for people watching calories. The most stuffed biscuits I’ve seen eaten by one person was 4, but the typical serving size is 2. I keep any leftover biscuits in the fridge – I’m not a Dietician, so I can’t give advise how long these will stay good, so consult someone you trust if you have any questions about the length of time to keep anything before freezing it. I have frozen for a month and they were as tasty when thawed as the ones we kept in the refrigerator.

Let’s get started with the biscuit dough:

INGREDIENTS – Biscuits (for 12 stuffed biscuits)

  • 2 cups flour (910 cal)
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder (8 cal)
  • 1/2 teaspoon creme of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup Butter-flavored Crisco (440 cal)
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (83 cal)
  • 1/4 cup skim milk (22 cal)
  • Non-stick vegetable spray (like Pam®)

Total calories: 910 + 8 + 440 + 83 + 22 = 1463 calories/12 servings = 122 calories/serving

DIRECTIONS – Biscuits (Serves 12)

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Mix the 4 dry ingredients together, cut in the Crisco, and then add the buttermilk and skim milk. The dough is usually a little sticky, so put some flour down on the counter, knead the dough 10 – 15 times, then cut the dough in half.
  3. Use a roller to roll out the dough to a rectangle, then use a knife to cut it into 6 equal-sizes pieces.
  4. Now, take 1-12 cupcake pan, spray each cup with the non-stick vegetable spray.
  5. Put the 12 pieces of dough into the cupcake pan, molding them so there is a pocket to hold your preferred ingredients.
  6. Get to work on the burger.

INGREDIENTS – Burger (for 12 burger biscuits)

  • 1 lb 93% lean ground beef (680 cal)
  • 2 slices center-cut bacon (80 cal)
  • 2 oz of 2% block cheddar cheese (136 cal – do not use shredded)
  • 12 pickle chips (or pickle relish)
  • diced onions
  • either BBQ (1 tsp/burger-4 tbsp = 100 cal) or ketchup and mustard

Total calories: 680 + 80 + 136 + 100 = 996 calories/ 12 servings = 83 + 122 (biscuit dough) = 205 cal/biscuit

DIRECTIONS – Burgers

  1. Make 12 small hamburger patties using 1 pound of ground beef and cook the burgers with two pieces of bacon. Do not try to completely cook the burgers at this time – they will finish in the oven, so only try to get the top and bottom done, even if the center is still red.
  2. When the bacon is done, break each piece into 6 pieces.
  3. Slice the block cheese into 12 equal portions while the burgers cook.
  4. Add a burger to each biscuit, then add the bacon and a slice of chunk cheddar cheese on the top of each patty.
  5. Now add the onions around the edges of the burger.
  6. Add the pickle to the top of the burger, then add BBQ sauce (or mustard and ketchup),  then fold over the edges of the dough to seal the biscuit.
  7. Put the cupcake pan in the oven and bake at 450 degrees for 12 minutes, then remove and let them rest 5 minutes before plating.

TIPs! Go easy on the mustard, pickle relish, and BBQ sauce- a little goes a long way and any of theses items can overpower the other condiments. Use chunk cheese, not shredded. Cook the bacon first and then cook the burgers in the same skillet as the bacon, so they absorb the bacon flavor. For the best flavor, use 80/20 meat, but for the lowest calories use 93/7 ground beef.

Simple Beef Stir Fry

By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved.

I love Chinese cuisine, and one of the most difficult tasks I’ve had trying to make calorie conscious food is how to make low calorie Chinese dishes like stir fry. This is my take on a stir fry, without using a wok and with a reasonable amount of calories per serving.

I use chuck mock steak because it is fairly low in calories and because it is tender. I use 1/4 cup soy sauce mixed with water to cut down on the amount of sodium in the dish because 1 cup soy sauce has 135 calories and over 14000 mg of salt, which is ~600% of the amount of salt one should have in their daily diet. You can do this recipe in a wok, but a nice 12” skillet will work.

INGREDIENTS (Serves 4)

*NOTE: Reduced sodium has the same number of calories, but is ~ 2125 mg sodium for 1/4 cup.

Total calories: 513 + 410 + 34 + 10 + 15 + 427 + 119 = 1528/4 = 382 cal/serving (898 mg sodium).

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cook 1 cup of long grain white rice with 2 cups water and 2 tsp beef base (or beef bullion cubes). I use a rice cooker, but the stove works as well.
  2. Preheat a burner on the stove (at 5 – medium).
  3. Pour 1 tbsp olive oil into a large pan (12″), then put the pan on the burner.
  4. Slice the mock chuck steak into thin strips, then add them to the pan. Brown the slices, then flip them.
  5. Mix the soy sauce and water in a cup and set aside.
  6. Add the red bell pepper, onions, and peanuts to the meat, then stir these in and let them cook for about 1 minute.
  7. Now add the soy sauce/water mix to the pan.
  8. Add the cooked rice to the pan and mix the ingredients. Add ginger and cilantro to taste, then serve.

Quesadilla Burger

By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2009, All Rights Reserved.

I watch what I eat, because I want to keep my weight and size down. I had a Quesadilla Burger at AppleBee’s and really enjoyed it but just can’t afford to consume 1420 calories in one course of one meal, so I came up with this version that is easy and tasty.

INGREDIENTS (Serves 4)

  • 1lb 93% lean ground beef (680 cal)
  • 4 flour tortillas (7″ – 488 cal)
  • 8 tbsp Picante sauce (Pace® Picante – 40 cal)
  • 1 cup 2% cheddar cheese (Kraft® – 320 cal)
  • 1/2 cup of diced Vadalia onions (30 cal)
  • 1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce (8 cal)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

The calories: 680 + 488 + 40 + 320 + 30 + 8 = 1566 / 4 servings = ~392 cal/serving.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Form 4 hamburger patties from the ground beef. Do not try to smash the meat together until it resembles a hockey puck, because it will be about as tender as a hockey puck. The secret to making a tender and juicy hamburger is to spend as little time as possible molding the meat into a patty. Divide the meat into 1/4 pound sections, then gently form it into a patty – you do not need to have a perfectly round patty. Next, put an 1/2″ deep indention in the middle of the patty – this helps prevent the meat from plumping up.
  2. Put the 4 patties in a skillet on the stove and sprinkle each patty with salt and pepper to suite your taste.
  3. Cook the patties, flipping them when they are ready. Now use your spatula to cut each patty into 2 even half moon-shaped sections.
  4. Either warm the tortillas in a skillet, just using non-stick spray, or put the tortillas on a small plate and microwave it for 20 – 25 seconds.
  5. Place the tortillas on plates, then put 2 burger sections on each tortilla.
  6. Spoon 2 tbsp Pace® Picante over the meat on each tortilla.
  7. Spoon 1/4 of the diced onions on each tortilla.
  8. Add 1/4 cup iceberg lettuce to each tortilla.
  9. Sprinkle  1/4 cup cheese on each tortilla.
  10. Fold the tortillas in half, then put in the microwave for 20 seconds and serve.

Very simple, very tasty, and far fewer calories (392 vs. 1420) than when eating out. A side of my grilled onions and fresh corn goes real well with this burger.

Grilled Onions

By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved.

I love onion rings, but the calories and fat in restaurant deep-fried rings is a lot higher than I need. The fried onion rings at Burger King are 190 cal (child size – 9g fat), 300 cal (medium – 6g fat), and 530 cal (King size – 6g fat) which might seem a lot, but then take a look at Culver’s onion rings: 630 cal, 36g fat in a 6.7 oz serving!  Eat 1 Culver’s Butter Burger (480 cal, 29g fat) and 1 order of Culver’s onion rings and you’ve just ingested 1110 calories and 65g fat. The fat content is a concern for me, as, according to WikiAnswers, you should only eat 30-35g of fat per day if you’re trying to lose weight. so I came up with this guilt-free treat to satisfy my cravings for fried onions. The serving size is a mere 60 calories, and these go well with a burger or hot dog.

INGREDIENTS (Serves 2)

  • 2 medium-large onions (preferably Vidalias) (120 cal)
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. Peel the onions, then cut each one into 4 slices.
  2. Heat a small grill (we use a small George Foreman).
  3. Put a dab of olive oil – just enough to lightly coat the surface – on the top of each slice, then sprinkle salt on them.
  4. Flip the onions and do the same to the other side.
  5. Put the onions on the grill and let them go until you hear them sizzle, then flip them and they should be done in another minute.
  6. Plate and serve. A little extra salt after they cook goes a long way.

Tip! You can add a bread coating to these onions, but I’d suggest using spices and seasoning as a low calorie coating to help keep the calories down.

Hot Tortilla Crusted Chicken

By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved.

My wife and I started eating sensibly and exercising in 2006 and lost over 160 lbs between us. We lost the weight but wanted to eat the food we ate in the past because it just tasted good. So yes, it is time for another chicken recipe. The motivation for this recipe was spicy chicken without the huge calorie hit with fried foods.

WARNING!: This recipe is fairly hot and spicy. If you can’t take some heat, don’t use Frank’s Hot Sauce® – try a BBQ sauce instead.

INGREDIENTS (Serves 4)

  • 2 – 10 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast (~ 440 cal)
  • 2 servings of tortilla chips (I look for chips with a serving size of 140 cal/15+ chips = 280 cal)
  • Frank’s RedHot Wings Buffalo Wings Sauce® (0 cal)
  • 1/6 cup Heart Healthy Bisquick® (70 cal)
  • 1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper (0 cal)
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano or 1/4 tsp fresh oregano (0 cal)
  • 1/4 tsp cumin (I prefer raw over ground) (0 cal)
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt (0 cal)
  • 1/4 tsp fresh-ground pepper

The total calories: 440 + 280 + 70 = 790/4 = 198 cal/serving

DIRECTIONS

Prepare the Spicy Crumb Crust

  1. Use a food processor to ground up the tortilla chips to pieces about 1/8″ to 1/4″ – do not grind the chips to a powder.
  2. Add the Bisquick® ,cayenne, oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper to the chips in the food processor and give it a few short spins to mix the ingredients. Put this mix into a shallow bowl and set it aside.

Prepare the Chicken

  1. Spray the bottom on an oven-safe baking pan with a non-stick spray like Pam®.
  2. Put the chicken on a clean plate, then drizzle the Frank’s RedHot Buffalo Wings Sauce® over the bottom, and then over the top of each chicken breast.
  3. Turn the chicken upside down and sprinkle about 1/3 of the Spicy Crumb Crust on the chicken, then put the chicken in the baking pan, crumb side down.
  4. Sprinkle Cayenne Pepper on the tops of both chicken breasts.
  5. Sprinkle the remaining Spicy Crumb Crust on the top of the chicken.
  6. Cover the baking pan and put it in the refrigerator for 4 hours.
  7. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  8. Remove the cover from the baking pan and put the pan into the oven. Bake for 24 – 26 minutes.
  9. Cut each breast in half and serve. Add more Frank’s RedHot Buffalo Wings Sauce® to the chicken – it will kick up the heat.

Tip! This works really well in a wrap – we generally make 4 servings, eat 2 servings just as a chicken course and have the other 2 servings as wraps. Tasty and a way to make leftovers more interesting..

Tip! If you like the recipe but want a cooler version, substitute 1/4 cup EggBeaters® (30 cal) for the Frank’s RedHot Buffalo Wings Sauce®, and skip the step where you sprinkle cayenne on the chicken before putting the crust on it. You’ll only pick up 30 cal between the 4 servings, which results in 205 cal/serving, which is still quite low for a main course.

Easy Low and Slow BBQ Ribs

By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved.

Low and slow is the way to go. I love ribs, and it is so easy to prepare and cook them. This recipe works as-is for bone-in baby back ribs and St. Louis cut ribs – reduce the total cooking time to 3.5 hrs if you want to use this recipe for boneless ribs. And yes, ribs are not on most diets, but eating moderate portions makes  them a possibility even when watching your calories. When eating ribs I either have just 2 meals in the day or have 200 – 300 fewer calories the next day to help offset the extra ones in this meal.

There are three things about this recipe that seem to make these ribs moist and fall-off-the-bone tender. The first is the low and slow approach to cooking (low temp, long cooking time), which is a staple of many BBQ restaurants. The second is the inclusion of water to the pan, as it helps keep the meat moist. The third is using a rib rub 12 – 24 hours ahead of cooking time.

INGREDIENTS

  • Rib rub (commercial or home-made) – I do recommend Mike’s Sweet Heat BBQ Rub.
  • 3 – 5 lbs of ribs
  • Water
  • BBQ Sauce (commercial or home-made) – 2 tbsp per 3 rib section

DIRECTIONS

  1. Liberally rub each rib section with your rib rub. Keep in the refrigerator between 12 and 24 hours. The longer the wait, the stronger the rub flavor.
  2. When you are ready to cook the ribs, put each rib section (bones down) in a baking pan, add enough water to 1/2 inch of the pan, and then cover the pan with aluminum foil.
  3. When you are ready to cook, preheat the oven to 225 degrees.
  4. Place the baking pan in the oven and cook for 5 hrs.
  5. Remove the pan from and carefully remove the aluminum foil, then brush 1-2 tbsp BBQ sauce on each rib section. Return the pan without the foil cover to the oven and bake for another 30 minutes.
  6. Switch from Bake to Broil. Turn the broiler on and let the ribs cook another 2-4 minutes to set the BBQ sauce. Remove the ribs from the pan and plate. Do not use the liquid in the pan with the ribs, although you can add more fresh BBQ sauce if you so desire.

Each 3 rib section should be around 800 calories, so go light on the side dishes. Ribs can be eaten by those that watch calories, but it is extremely important to be aware of portion sizes as well as the amount of BBQ sauce used when preparing and eating them. Most commercial BBQ sauces I’ve checked had 30 – 50 calories per tablespoon, but there are BBQ sauces for diabetics that are also online and are worth trying.

Tip! You can do this entire recipe outdoors with a smoker instead of using your oven, or just do the last three steps in the smoker if you can’t spend the entire afternoon outdoors – both ways add a lot of extra flavor to the meat.

Tip! When preparing this recipe indoors, a dash of liquid smoke in the water adds a nice flavor to the meat.

GOOD SIDES WITH RIBS

Try the Grilled Onions, Guiltless French Fries, or Julie’s Fave Green Beans and a salad to keep the calories down.

Spicy Hot Chili with Beans

By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved.

I love spicy food, and this is my take on a spicy hot chili with beans cooked in a crock pot on high for 5-6 hours. I use 93% lean ground beef to keep the calories down, although sometimes I buy a 1lb chuck steak and either cut it into chunks or ground it up with a meat grinder. I include some tips at the bottom of this recipe for chili baked potatoes, but suggest you try my Chili Dog Chili recipe for a beanless version of chili (the only way I’d have a chili dog).

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb ground beef or chuck steak (93% lean – 680 cal)
  • 1-16 oz can Bush’s Chili Beans (420 cal)
  • 1-14.5 oz can Hunt’s diced tomatoes (87 cal)
  • 3 cups waters
  • 1 – 5 oz baked potato (110 cal)
  • 2 medium onions diced
  • 2 cloves garlic diced (10 cal)
  • 2 tbsp Ancho or Chipolte chili powder
  • 2 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp crushed red pepper

Total calories: 680 + 420 + 87  + 110 + 10 = 1307 cal/6 servings = 218 calories/serving.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Brown the ground beef or chuck steak on the stove, and then drain.
  2. Turn the crock pot on to High, then add the ground beef or chuck steak.
  3. Dice and add the onions and garlic to the crock pot, then add the diced tomatoes and chili beans. Do NOT drain the tomatoes or chili beans.
  4. Grate the baked potato (smallest possible), then add the bits to the crock pot.
  5. Add the 3 cups water to the crock pot.
  6. Add 2 tbsp Ancho or Chipolte chili, 2 tbsp cayenne pepper, 1/2 tbsp cumin, 1 tbsp crushed red peppers, 2 tsp salt, and 1 tsp pepper to the crock pot.
  7. Stir the mix and let it cook 5 hours.
  8. Remove the lid, stir one last time and let it cook (uncovered) another hour.

Tip! I also use this chili to top a baked potato, which I have as a side dish for this meal. To get the calories, add the calories of 1 serving of chili and the calories in the baked potato – see the serving size and weight on the bag of potatoes and weigh the potato to be sure you are fairly accurate.

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