Have you ever indulged in so much rich holiday food that you crave lettuce for days afterwards? Now that it’s all over I can admit that I’ve hit my official fruitcake limit (don’t tell anyone, I love the stuff). Fortunately, I was saved from a week of iceberg blandness by a copy of The Skinnytaste Cookbook. (Gina Homolka with Heather K. Jones, R.D.; Clarkson Potter; 2014)
Gina Homolka started the popular blog skinnytaste.com in 2008. Since then, she’s been combining her graphic arts background with her love of food that doesn’t add to her waistline. Her approach is based on the Weight Watchers philosophy that healthy eating is a lifestyle rather than a diet, and allows everything in moderation. She avoids processed foods in favour of fresh, seasonal ingredients and practices portion control. These changes allow food lovers to eat healthily while still enjoying food.
In the introduction, she addresses all the reasons we give for not cooking our own healthy meals. Then she busts them wide open. The Skinnytaste Cookbook includes a key that lets you easily identify recipes that are suitable for vegetarian or gluten-free diets. They also show us which recipes are quick to make, freezer-friendly or suitable for the slow cooker. There she goes, taking away those excuses.
It is also essential that skinnytaste recipes work for the whole family. A plan that involves cooking two dinners every day isn’t likely to last very long. This isn’t “diet” food.
In addition to over 100 great recipes, Gina teams up with Registered Dietician Heather K. Jones to offer nutritional advice and food facts that will simplify healthy eating. Jones has a holistic approach to health. She understands that food choices are about a lot more than just groceries.
Photographer Penny De Los Santos did a great job with the pictures in this book. The first time I browsed through it, I marked at least a half-dozen recipes that looked delectable. I didn’t find a lot of dishes that were new to me but I found a lot of favourites that were considerably healthier than their traditional recipes.
The first dish I tried was the Sweet ‘n’ Spicy Sriracha-Glazed Salmon. I was so pleased to find a delicious salmon dish that wasn’t glazed with maple syrup. Don’t get me wrong, I love the stuff but if you watch any cooking shows on television, you’d think that Canadians eat nothing but salmon, blueberries and maple syrup. With a side of “Canadian” bacon. Homolka’s recipe uses honey for sweetness but the sriracha is the key for me. The spicy sauce balances the rich fattiness of the fish and is perfectly countered by the honey.
Too-Good-To-Be-True Baked Potato Soup is one of skinnytaste.com’s most popular recipes and it’s easy to see why. This tastes freakishly like a decadent, loaded baked potato but has all the comfort of a bowl of soup. I’ve always been a bit wary of soup that’s supposed to taste like some other food – if I wanted pizza, I’d eat pizza – but this one really worked well for me.
There are a few salads in this book that are so hearty, the name salad seems misleading. The BLT Salad with Avocado, and the Buffalo Chicken Salad seem so much like pub grub that I wished the author had included a beer in the calorie count.
There’s much to love in The Skinnytaste Cookbook. Most of all, I’m grateful to the author for giving me back the chance to eat deliciously real food even after the overindulgence of the holiday season. It feels like I found an extra Christmas gift hidden under the back of the tree.
Tracy Turlin is a freelance writer and dog groomer in London. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Recipes courtesy of The Skinnytaste Cookbook (Gina Homolka with Heather K. Jones, R.D.; Clarkson Potter; 2014)
Find more at the Skinnytaste website: http://www.skinnytaste.com
Sweet ‘n’ Spicy Sriracha-Glazed Salmon
This is one of my favorite ways to prepare salmon. The marinade in this recipe is the perfect combination of spicy, sweet, and savoury – in fact, I also love to use it with steaks or chicken. The Sriracha sauce (aka rooster sauce) is a must, and you can find it in the Asian section of most supermarkets.
¼ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce (or tamari* for gluten-free)
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce (or to taste)
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 pound wild salmon fillet, cut into 4 (4-ounce) pieces
1 ½ teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions for garnish
*Read the label to be sure this product is gluten-free.
In a 1-gallon zip-top plastic bag, combine the soy sauce, honey, vinegar, Sriracha, ginger, and garlic. Add the salmon, toss to coat evenly, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 8 hours, turning the fish once.
Remove the salmon from the bag, reserving the marinade. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add the sesame oil. Rotate the pan to coat the bottom evenly and add the salmon. Cook until one side of the fish is browned, about 2 minutes. Flip the salmon and cook until the other side browns, 2 more minutes.
Reduce the heat to low and pour in the reserved marinade. Cover and cook until the fish is cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Place a piece of salmon on each of 4 serving plates and sprinkle with the scallions.
Per Serving (1 Piece)
Fat 8.5 G
Saturated Fat 1.5 G
Cholesterol 51 Mg
Carbohydrate 12 G
Protein 26 G
Sugars 9 G
Sodium 587 Mg
This is perfect served over brown rice with Roasted Sesame Green Beans (page 272). For a fantastic, quick, low-carb option, I make zucchini noodles. Use a spiralizer or mandoline fitted with a julienne blade to cut the zucchini into spaghetti-like strands, then sauté them with a little sesame oil and garlic for 2 minutes.
Too-Good-To-Be-True Baked Potato Soup
This soup is one of my most popular recipes on Skinnytaste. It offers everything you love about a baked potato in soup form! In fact, a fan once described it as a “warm bowl of awesomeness.” You can totally enjoy it without the guilt because it’s soooo much lighter than a baked potato. That’s because I hide some cauliflower in there, which gives the great taste and texture for fewer calories.
2 medium russet (baking) potatoes, about 6 ounces each
3 ½ cups (16 ounces) cauliflower florets (from 1 small head)
1 ½ cups Swanson 33% less sodium chicken broth*
1 ½ cups 1% reduced-fat milk
½ cup light sour cream
6 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
10 tablespoons shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
3 slices center-cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
*Read the label to be sure this product is gluten-free.
Pierce the potatoes all over with a fork and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Turn them over and microwave until tender, 3 to 5 minutes longer. (Alternatively, bake at 400° F for 1 hour or until tender.) Let cool. When cool enough to handle, peel and coarsely chop the potatoes.
Set a steamer basket in a large pot and fill with about 1 inch of water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add the cauliflower, cover, and steam until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain, remove the steamer basket, and return the cauliflower to the pot.
Set the pot over medium heat and add the broth, milk, and potatoes. Bring to a boil. Use an immersion blender to purée the soup until smooth. Add the sour cream, 3 tablespoons of the chives and season with the salt and black pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until thick and creamy, 8 to 10 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat. Ladle the soup into 5 soup bowls. Top each with 2 tablespoons of cheese, and divide the remaining chives and the bacon among them. Serve hot.
Per Serving (1 Generous Cup)
Fat 7 G
Saturated Fat 3 G
Cholesterol 17 Mg
Carbohydrate 23 G
Protein 14 G
Sugars 6 G
Sodium 323 Mg