Saturday, January 4, 2014

January Is Lighten Up Month at The Weekend Gourmet

The holidays are over for another year...time to focus on 2014 and make a fresh start. If December is about indulgence and enjoying lots of delicious goodies, then January is usually about resolutions to lose weight. I don't like resolutions...or diets. Both are just begging me to give up. Instead, I'm choosing to make January about restoring balance and incorporating more whole grains, fruits and veggies and lean protein. In other words, it's time for Casa Garcia to lighten up and move a bit more! Rather than make drastic changes, I'm choosing to feature recipes that are higher in fiber and lower in fat and calories. There's one thing I won't do, though: sacrifice flavor in the process. All the recipes I'll be sharing will taste so great that you'll never know that they pack a great nutrition punch too!

To get you started, here are a couple of my favorite light and healthy recipes that I've shared before...but they're worth sharing again for their wonderful flavor. These are great examples that healthy food can look and taste fantastic. No need to feel like you're sacrificing just because you want to Lighten Up, right?!?!?

(1) Mixed Berry-Almond Steel Cut Oats. This is a fantastic breakfast dish that will keep you full for hours. It features fiber-rich steel cut oats, antioxidant-packed berries and is sweetened with maple syrup and vanilla almond milk. The end result is creamy and so flavorful! You can vary the berries or fruit used for variety. I plan to make this for brunch next weekend so we can enjoy it for two days. It makes 4-6 generous servings. 
(2) Spicy Shrimp and Corn Bisque. This soup is so hearty and creamy that you'd never guess it's made with light ingredients, including lowfat milk and light cream cheese. Shrimp is naturally low in fat and calories as well. This has a gentle heat and is essentially a meal in a bowl. Add a healthy green salad on the side and dinner's ready in under and hour.
(3) Refreshing Chunky Shrimp Salsa. This salsa is a perfect light appetizer that you can take to any football-watching parties this's so flavorful that no one will ever guess that it's healthy. This salsa is full of fruit and's like at little taste of Summer in January! Avocado does have some fat, but it's heart-healthy fat and only one component of this chunky dip. Serve with baked tortilla scoops and/or endive leaves.
(4) Tex-Mex Chopped Chicken Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing. This main dish salad is hearty enough to enjoy for dinner year-round. I know that salads don't immediately come to mind during colder months, but using warm chopped chicken works great to provide a bit of warmth. The original recipe calls for a using regular cheddar cheese, but I'd use reduced-fat/2% cheese for Lighten Up Month. The homemade dressing has 1/4 cup of heart-healthy olive oil. If you're closely watching your caloric intake, Newman's Own Light Lime Vinaigrette would be a great substitute.
There you have it...some of my favorite Big Flavor, healthy recipes for Lighten Up Month. I've got some great light recipes coming up with month, starting with a fabulous veggie-packed spicy chicken stew for tomorrow's #SundaySupper. Make sure to come back for that recipe, because it's a keeper! 

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