Beef in Spicy Tomato Gravy


1 Cup Canned diced tomatoes
4   cloves garlic,minced
1 ½   T chopped fresh ginger root
1/3 cups Plain lowfat yogurt
2 T Vegetable oil
2 lbs lean beef round, cut into 1 ½  inch cubes
2 cups finely chopped onions
4   black whole cardamom pods
8 whole cloves
2 t turmeric
½ t red pepper, or to taste
1 t salt
1 ½  t ground roasted cumin seed (roast over medium heat, shaking until fragrant)
2 T chopped fresh cilantro


1.       Preheat oven to 325 F

2.       Put tomatoes, garlic, chopped ginger, and yogurt in food processor, and run the machine until the ingredients are reduced to a fine smooth puree. Set aside.

3.       Heat 1 T oil in a large frying pan over high heat until very hot. Pat dry the meat pieces and add to the pan. Brown them, turning and tossing the pieces for 3-5 minutes. (The frying pan should be large enough to accommodate the pieces in one layer without overlapping. The best way to brown them is in batches.) Transfer the meat to a heavy-bottomed casserole.

4.       Add the remaining 1 T oil to frying pan, along with the onions. Reduce heat to a medium-high, and fry until the onions turn caramel brown (about 20 minutes), stirring frequently to prevent burning. Add cardamom , cloves, turmeric, red pepper, and salt, and fry for an additional minute. Add the tomato yogurt puree, and continue frying the mixture until it reduces to a thick paste and the oil begins to separate from the paste (about 5 minutes) Turn off heat.

5.       Add this paste to the meat in the casserole. Add 3 cups of hot water to the frying pan. Scrape the sides and bottom of the pan to release the pieces clinging to it, and pour into the casserole. Stir the meat to distribute the spices and liquid evenly. Place the casserole over medium-high heat and bring the contents to a boil. Place a sheet of foil over the top of the casserole, and cover tightly with the lid.

6.       Bake in the middle level of the oven for 2 hours. Check and stir meat every 30 minutes to ensure it won’t burn. Turn off the oven. Let the casserole remain in the oven 15 minutes longer.

7.       Take the casserole out of the oven, check for salt, and serve sprinkled with ground roasted cumin seeds and chopped cilantro leaves.

Nutrition:  Makes 6 servings. 300 calories per serving; 11 g fat, 35 g protein, 8 g Carbs, .5 g fiber. 

So, why?                                   

  • With lean beef, tomatoes and indian spices this is a healthy way to eat beef – that is, with loads of antioxidants.


  • Serve over brown rice to add fiber content.   Serve with a side salad.
  • Will consider experimenting with additional vegetables – not authentic but more nutritional – I’m thinking to add bell peppers with the onions and/or maybe add peas near the end.

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Roast Chicken with Balsamic Bell Peppers

¾ tsp Salt, divided
¾ tsp Fennel seeds, crushed
½ tsp Black pepper, divided
¼ tsp Garlic powder
¼ tsp Dried oregano
4 6 oz. Skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 T Olive oil, divided
2 Cups Red bell peppers, thinly sliced
1 Cup Yellow or orange bell peppers, thinly sliced
¼ Cup Shallots, thinly sliced
1 ½ tsp Fresh rosemary, chopped
1 Cup Chicken broth
1 T Balsamic vinegar


1.       Preheat oven to 450

2.       Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Combine ½  tsp salt, fennel seeds, ¼ tsp black pepper, garlic powder, and oregano. Brush chicken with 1 ½ tsp oil; sprinkle spice rub over chicken. Add 1 ½ tsp oil to pan. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes or until browned. Turn chicken over; cook 1 minute. Arrange chicken in an 11 x 7–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes or until done.

3.       Heat remaining olive oil over medium-high heat. Add bell peppers, shallots, and rosemary; sauté 3 minutes. Stir in broth, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high. Stir in vinegar, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper; cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Serve bell pepper mixture over chicken.

This recipe is slightly adapted from Cooking Light.

Nutrition:  Makes 4 servings. 282 calories per serving; 11 g fat, 35 g protein, 9 g Carbs, 2 g fiber. 

So, why?                                   

  •        The chicken is a good source of lean protein
  •        Bell peppers are a great source of vitamin C and beta-carotene, lycopene and zeaxathin (antioxidants that are good for fighting inflammation)

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Chicken Chili

This recipe was given to me by my mother, who won her church chili cook-off with it.  I have made some modifications to lighten it up but my family didn’t notice.  Next year I will double this which will allow me to freeze 3 meals worth to spread over the winter. 

1 2 pound rotisserie chicken, diced (or 3 cups diced, cooked chicken)
1 T olive oil
2 Medium Onions, chopped
4 Cloves Garlic, minced
8 Oz Can chopped green chilies
1 ½ tsp EACH : cumin, oregano
¼ tsp EACH: ground cloves, crushed red pepper flakes
2  15 Oz cans white northern beans, rinsed and drained
6 Cups chicken broth
1 Cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1 Cup 2% reduced fat cheddar cheese
1 Cup Salsa

1.       Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. 

2.       Add onions and sauté until translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic, chilies, cumin, oregano, cloves and crushed red pepper, and sauté 2 minutes. Add beans and broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer a few minutes. 

3.       Add chicken and 1 cup of Jack cheese and stir until cheese melts.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4.       Serve with salsa and remaining cheese.

Nutrition:  Makes 8 servings. 270 calories per serving; 11 g fat, 35 g protein, 13.5 g Carbs, 6.5 g fiber.  You can reduce the calories and fat a little by using cooked skinless, boneless chicken breast meat, but I’m not sure its worth the tradeoff in time.

So, why?                                   

  •         Makes a filling, satisfying main meal.
  •         The chicken and beans are both good sources of lean protein
  •         The beans also add a good portion of fiber and resistant starch which is good for weight loss

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Crockpot Chicken Nachos

3   Boneless skinless chicken breasts (6 oz each)
1 T Chili powder
3 T Lime juice
1 Cup Salsa
1 Cup Frozen corn
1 Cup Reduced fat Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 Oz Snyder White Tortilla chips
    Sour cream


1.       Spray crockpot with nonstick spray

2.       Place chicken in crockpot

3.       Mix together lime juice and chili powder, spread evenly over chicken

4.       Cook on low 5 – 6 hours.

5.       Shred chicken and put back in crock pot with salsa and corn. Cook another 45 minutes.

6.       Put in taco shells with cheese – or make nacho style over tortilla chips


Nutrition:  Makes 6 servings. 258 calories per serving; 5 g fat,  39 g protein (using the Snyder White Corn Tortilla chips)

So, why?                                   

  • This chicken seems like it would be dry but its not!  Moist flavorful, lean protein!
  • Salsa is a good source of antioxidant lycopene
  • So easy and versatile


  • The chicken alone (before adding salsa) is very flavorful and moist, I think I will try is as a fajita chicken along with sautéed onions and bell peppers.  Add salsa into the fajita.
  • Use fat free greek yogurt instead of sour cream – its just as satisfying with more protein and no fat
  • Can be an appetizer or makes a meal with a side dish of refried beans or add canned black beans into nachos\tacos

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Indian Lentil Stew

1 T Olive oil
2 Medium Onions, finely chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 lb Dried lentils, rinsed
2 Cups Puréed canned tomatoes
6 Cups Chicken or vegetable broth
1 T curry powder
1 T cumin, ground
1 T fresh minced ginger
1 T cilantro, chopped ( optional )
    Salt to taste


 1.       Cook onions in oil until softened.  Add garlic and lentils, stirring a few minutes to coat.  Add remaining ingredients, except for salt and bring to boil. 

2.       Reduce heat to simmer, uncovered, until lentils are soft, about 40 minutes.  Season with salt. 

3.       If you want a thinner soup, add more broth. 

Nutrition: Makes 8 servings.  320 calories per serving, 2.5 g fat, 16 g protein, 43 g carbs, 20 g fiber.

Notes:  I usually freeze half for another meal and\or freeze lunch portion sizes.

So, why?                                   

  •  Lentils are good for you – high fiber content and protein, filling food
  •  The indian spices are high in antioxidants as are the tomatoes

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Chunky Homemade Tomato Soup

2 t Olive oil
1 Large Onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 Carrot, chopped
2 T Tomato paste
1 Sprig Fresh thyme (or ½ t dried)
28 oz Diced tomatoes, including juice
1 Cup Tomato juice
1 t Sugar (optional)
¼ Cup Fresh basil, chopped
  1. Sauté onion and carrots in oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring, until vegetables begin to soften (3-5 minutes).
  2. Add tomato paste, lower heat and continue to cook until paste begins to darken (don’t let it burn) about 1 -2 minutes.
  3. Strip thyme leaves from stem and add to pot along with tomatoes.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes break down (10-15 minutes).  Add 1 cup juice and 1 cup water and bring to a boil, then adjust heat so mixture just simmers – cook 5 more minutes.
  4. Taste and adjust seasonings (if tastes flat but salty enough, add sugar).  Garnish with basil and serve.

Nutrition: Makes 4 servings (about 1 ½ cups each).  110 calories per serving, 2.5 g fat, 3 g protein, 16 g carbs, 4 g fiber.


  • Add 1 T of curry powder or chili powder Or add 1 teaspoon smoked paprika  along with tomato paste
  • Add ½ cup of a grain such as rice, bulgur couscous or quinoa when add tomatoes along with an extra 1 cup of water.

So, why?                                   

  • Filling soup for small calorie count
  • Tons of lycopene from the tomatoes

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Bolognese Meatloaf Cupcakes

½ Cup Quinoa, rinsed
1 T Olive oil
1 Onion, finely chopped
1 Rib Celery, finely chopped
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1.5 Lbs Lean ground beef
2 Large Eggs, lightly beaten
½ Cup Fresh parsley, chopped
2 T Worcestershire sauce
½ t Salt
½ t Fresh ground pepper
6 T Ketchup


  1. Cook quinoa per package directions.  Drain if necessary and transfer to a large bowl to cool.
  2. Saute onion, carrots and celery and Italian seasoning in oil on medium heat until tender, about 7 minutes.  Add to quinoa to cool.
  3. Add remaining ingredients, except ketchup.  Mix together until just combined.
  4. Push into greased cupcake pan to form 12 cupcakes.  Top each with ketchup.  Cook at 375 for 12 – 25 minutes (until instant read thermometer reads 160F).

Alternately, you can form into 2 mini loaves (20-35 minutes) or 1 large loaf (45-55 minutes).

Nutrition: (per serving; 1/6 of recipe) 360 cal, 27 g pro, 20 g carb, 2 g fiber, 19.5 g fat, 7 g sat fat, 564 mg sodium

So, why?                                   

  • Great alternative to old fashioned meatloaf with high protein quinoa
  • The cupcakes option makes cooking meatloaf fast.

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