Lite low-calorie recipes
Photo: Tina Wasserman
Spa Thai Peanut Sauce

By Tina Wasserman

I didn’t know if I should provide you with cold- or warm-weather recipes. Each day provides thermostatic surprises. But I do know that many of you are finding your clothes a little tighter and your scale is yelling at you even if it says only 3 pounds more than mid-November. So, I thought I would share some of my favorite recipes that have been pared down of a few extra calories but whose flavors have not been altered one iota.

Sogliola con Pinoli e Passerine

A clear indication that an Italian recipe has roots in Sephardi cuisine is the presence of pine nuts and raisins in a recipe. The Moors brought pine nuts and the cultivation of grapes (raisins) to Spain in the eighth century. When the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492 many went to mainland Italy from Sicily, which was, at the time, a Spanish territory. They brought their culinary heritage with them, which included many of the Moorish food influences.

1½ pounds fillet of sole or other thin fish

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar

2 teaspoons honey

¼ cup dark raisins

3 tablespoons lightly toasted pine nuts

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

½ cup dried bread crumbs, preferably panko from Japan

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 cup Italian dry white wine

1. Lightly oil or oil-spray a 2-quart casserole that will be able to accommodate all of the fish rolls. Set aside.

2. Combine the remaining ingredients EXCEPT the wine in a 1-quart bowl.

3. Spread about 1-2 tablespoons of the raisin-nut mixture over the fish and roll the fish starting from the wider end of the fillet.

4. Place the rolled fillets in the prepared casserole seam side down.

5. Gently pour the wine around the fillets and sprinkle any remaining bread crumbs over the top of the fish.

6. Cover with greased foil and bake in a 400-degree oven for 10 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10 minutes or until fish appears firm to the touch and crumb topping is golden.

Tina’s Tidbits:

• The thinner the fish, the easier it is to roll. If fish turns out to be too thick then just layer the filling in between two fillets of fish. It might not be as pretty for company but it will taste just as good.

• If you do use thicker fillets, the baking time will be a little longer.

• Pine nuts gain great flavor when they are toasted so don’t eliminate this step. However, in a pinch, toasted slivered almonds may be substituted.

• Foil should be placed dull side facing you so it will absorb the heat and bake fast. 

Spa Thai Peanut Sauce

I love Thai food and especially love peanut sauce over noodles or grilled, marinated chicken or fish. But often there is a significant amount of fat added to make the sauce thick and creamy. Here, cornstarch makes up the base of the sauce and no flavoring is spared.

I originally found this recipe in an old Canyon Ranch cookbook, but I have adapted it to make it easier to make with minimal cleanup afterward.

½ tablespoon cornstarch

1/3 cup water

2/3 cup smooth peanut butter

¼ cup rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 cloves garlic, minced, or 2 cubes of Dorot minced garlic

2 teaspoons sugar or 2 teaspoons Beautiful Briny Sea’s Orange Chili Sugar

1 teaspoon crushed red chili peppers or to taste

Shirataki or soba, optional

1. Combine cornstarch and water in a medium glass bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir. Microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring after each time. Repeat one or two more times for 30 seconds until the mixture is hot and thick but still pourable.

2. Immediately whisk in the peanut butter until the mixture is smooth and peanut butter has been thoroughly incorporated.

3. Add the next 5 ingredients and whisk until thoroughly combined and smooth.

4. Refrigerate until ready to use.

5. Serve over cooked Shirataki (tofu) or soba, or any grilled meat or vegetables and/or tofu.

Serves 4

2 tablespoons=50 calories

Tina’s Tidbits:

• This recipe can be made in a saucepan on your stove but thickening the cornstarch mixture in the microwave means that you can mix and store this sauce in one container!

• Dorot is an Israeli company that provides some herbs and garlic and ginger that are finely minced and put into little portions measuring 1 teaspoon. You can find these little red trays with 20 portions in the freezer section at Trader Joe’s or some local supermarkets.

• I happen to have the Beautiful Briny Sea flavored salts and sugars in my home but it is not necessary to have this product; sugar and chili flakes work perfectly.

• These are not paid product endorsements! I just want to make your lives as easy as possible.

• Shirataki noodles are slippery noodles made from tofu and they heat up in less than a minute in your microwave. Add some leftover cooked vegetables or meat and toss with some of the sauce and you have a great meal with low calories in little time.

Spa Banana Soufflé

Easy, dairy-free, gluten-free, low in sugar — what more could I give you? Oh, yes, it tastes terrific too!

2 very ripe bananas, cut into chunks

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon orange liqueur

½ teaspoon almond extract

4 eggs, separated

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar

Pinch of cream of tartar

Confectioners’ sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Spray 6 to 8 4-ounce soufflé dishes with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Puree the bananas in a food processor with the lemon juice, orange liqueur and extract until smooth. Add the egg yolks and 1 teaspoon sugar and process to blend. Put the banana mixture into a clean, medium-sized bowl.

3. In a mixer bowl, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar at high speed until stiff peaks form. Slowly add the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar as you continue beating the whites until they form shiny peaks.

4. Gently fold the egg whites into the banana mixture.

5. Spoon mixture into the prepared dishes and run your finger along the inside of the dishes to make a ¼-inch rim.

6. Set dishes on a baking sheet and bake for 7 minutes. Reduce heat to 425 degrees and bake for another 5 minutes or until the soufflés are puffed and lightly golden. Sift some confectioners’ sugar on top of each soufflé and serve immediately

Approximately 75 calories per serving

Tina’s Tidbits:

• The bananas give this soufflé mix structure, so less sugar is needed.

• Folding gently means a rubber spatula goes down into the center of the bowl and then gently comes up to the side of the bowl nearest you and then folds over into the center. The bowl is turned a quarter of a turn and then the folding is repeated. The mixture should never be stirred in a circular motion or the air will be knocked out and the soufflé won’t rise as much.

• You could make a hole in the center of the cooked soufflé and add some fresh or cooked strawberries or even a little chocolate sauce.

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