Combating the Jean-Tightening Genes w/ Alfredo

Lite Pasta Alfredo

I remember back in the day when I was young I’m not a kid anymore, but some days I sit and wish I was a kid again (Ahmad, circa 1994). But really – I remember back in the day when eating anything you wanted didn’t cause a cottage cheese-like effect on your thighs and booty. And mushy arms. And maybe the worst part – growing out of your favorite Martin & Osa jeans or trying on your favorite tank top from last summer, the one you looked oh so cute in, and realizing that your “flat tire” has miraculously been replaced by a spare.

I’m not sayin’ I was ever petite – with my Hall knees and cornbread-induced voluptuous backside. You were lucky to see me in shorts even as a kid; I prefer clamdiggers any day. My dad surely gave me some IQ points, love for NC State, & blue eyes, but he also gave me big knees, a head of cowlicks, and horrible [practically legally blind] vision. My mom – she gave me boobs, good teeth, and the confidence to speak my mind even when I shouldn’t, but she also gave me my love for sweets and slow metabolism. That damn metabolism!

The days of eating Big Macs, chimichangas, ranch dressing (loaded over some cheesy gooey french fries with bacon), and definitely alfredo sauce are long gone, or at least few and far between. Everything in moderation, right people?!

Wrong answer! One of the reasons I started cooking so much in the first place was the ability to be more in control of what I ate. Yes, me, wanting more control. Who woulda thought?! It’s too easy to live in Chicago (or any other city with great food) and pack on the poundage. There are way too many Thai restaurants with wonderfully fried tofu pad thai and curries, Italian restaurants with “family style” servings of chicken alfredo & parmesan (not to mention a thousand types of bruschetta), and definitely too many neighborhood bakeries with the cutest little cupcakes that of course, have the creamiest icing on top. I agree with the everything in moderation motto, but for me, I can’t really moderate what I eat if it’s already in front of me🙂. So along with keeping portion control in check, I’ve tried to find and make recipes that are delectable but don’t (always) leave me wondering how many hours of exercise I owe myself.

[Of course, none of this counts while in culinary school. Have I said that before?]

Cajun-spiced chicken strips

The first foodie magazine I ever subscribed to was Cuisine at Home (thanks to my mom-in-law), and believe-you-me, they have some lovely food in there. The down side? Almost every recipe uses heavy cream, which translates to the previously mentioned cottage cheese effect and snug jeans, not to mention a frown on my face. I almost stopped subscribing this year, but they must have sensed it and started a healthy eating section. If you can believe it, I’ve found a recipe for a light version of alfredo sauce. I tried it out recently, and I think Chris said how good it was in between each & every mouthful. Which looking back, may not have been that many times since he literally scarfed it down. I liked it too, but tried to savor each bite a little more than he.

mushrooms and peppers

One of the great things about this recipe is that it’s loaded with veggies, unlike your typical alfredo dish with just fettucine, chicken, and gopping thick sauce. It’s colorful too, so very easy on the eyes. Oh, and instead of just chicken, there is also kielbasa, and the chicken has cajun seasoning to spice it up a bit. I think next time I’ll add even more. The sauce is creamy and yummy, but made with evaporated milk instead of cream & one egg yolk instead of butter. I am willing to bet that the use of the bowtie pasta wasn’t a random idea, as the folds and crinks encase some of the sauce, and that way it seems to last longer even if there is less of it.

Now, don’t go into making this thinking it’s just like the classic fettucine alfredo. The sauce won’t coat your lips, and there won’t be a puddle at the bottom of your plate after you finish eating. But a great stand-in and healthy alternative to the low-cost artery clogger? Totally.

So, if you’re like me and have chosen red sauces over the whites for as long as you can remember, consider a brief switcheroo. Pretty pretty please? Just this once. You won’t regret it. And if you don’t like it, just head on over to Bucktown and drop that dish off at my pad. I love leftovers🙂

lite pasta alfredo

Lite Pasta Alfredo w/ Cajun Chicken & KielbasaAdapted from Cuisine at Home; serves 4

printable recipe

4 oz uncooked farfalle (bowtie) pasta
1/2 cup evaporated 2% milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg yolk
salt & pepper
1/8 t nutmeg, freshly grated
8 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into strips
1 T Cajun seasoning (preferably no-salt version)
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cups button mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz kielbasa, cut into half moon slices
1 cup peas, frozen
1 green onion, sliced thin, for garnish

Cook farfalle accoring to package directions. Drain and reserve 1/4 cup of pasta liquid. Set pasta aside.

Meanwhile, combine milk, cheese, & yolk. Add in salt, pepper, nutmeg. Set aside.

Sprinkle Cajun seasoning on chicken and toss to coat. Spray large skillet with cooking spray and heat over med-hi. Saute chicken ~4 mins on each side until fully cooked. Remove and set aside. Add onions, pepper, mushrooms, garlic, kielbasa to skillet and cook ~4 mins until kielbasa begins to brown. Add 1/4 cup of pasta water to deglaze; scrape up browned bits and let simmer until water has almost evaporated.

Add in chicken, pasta, & peas. Stir to heat all ingredients and to break up frozen peas. Pour in alfredo sauce and simmer until thickened. Divide among 4 plates (or if you’re like me, 2 plates and two tupperwares) and garnish with green onion and a little cheese.

*Side note: I made a quick salad to go with – baby arugula with cherry tomatoes & English cucumbers. Made a quick tomato vinaigrette (1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, 2 T red wine vinegar, 2 t EVOO, 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard, salt, pepper mixed in processor). The salad was a great addition and went well with the pasta.

3 thoughts on “Combating the Jean-Tightening Genes w/ Alfredo

  1. Tiffany says:

    I absolutely love this recipe! My dad & I could eat alfredo on just about anything, but unfortunately, as you mentioned, it has some unflattering side effects. This sauce is so easy, yet light & tasty. My family & boyfriend love this dish and I’m actually thawing out some chicken right now to make it tonight! My favorite version is with penne & broccoli instead of peas… but any variation turns out wonderful. Thank you so much for posting this recipe!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s