Open Faced Tuna Melt

Open Faced Tuna Melt
Serves 2

1 can (5 ounce) tuna
1 tablespoon minced onion
2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
2 slices rye bread, toasted
4 strips of cooked bacon
1/2 avocado, sliced
2 slices cheese (your choice, I used a marbled slice of Colby-Jack)

  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Mix tuna, onion and mayo.
  3. Top each slice of toast with arugula. 
  4. Spread tuna mix over the arugula. 
  5. Lay the bacon on the tuna, then the avocado, and top with cheese.
  6. Place in oven for 1-2 minutes, or until the cheese melts.
Nutritional data: 
Calories:          380
Fat:                23.6g
Sat fat:             8.1g
Chol:           68.1mg
Sodium:    624.7mg
Carbs:            18.6g
Fiber:               2.7g
Protein:          28.3g

Served with a side of Snapea Crisps. A crunchy and tasty side instead of the more traditional potato chip. Healthier, too.

BLT Pasta Salad

BLT Pasta Salad
Serves Approximately 16 (one cup portions)

1 pound shell pasta
8 slices of thick-cut bacon (ideally, low sodium)
1 pound cherry tomatoes, halved (or quartered)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
5 ounces fresh arugala
1 bunch green onions, sliced, greens and whites

  1. Bring a large kettle to a boil. Salt the water. When boiling, add the pasta and cook until “al dente”, 8-10 minutes.
  2. While the pasta boils, fry bacon until crispy. Chop and set aside. 
  3. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons bacon grease.
  4. Return the skilletto stove over medium heat. Add the garlic and tomatoes, and cook over medium-high heat until the tomatoes begin to soften (2 minutes.)
  5. Drain the pasta, saving 2 cups of the pasta water.
  6. Return the hot pasta back to the kettle. 
  7. Add the arugala and stir gently.
  8. Add the tomatoes and garlic, the green onion and one cup of the reserved water. Stir to mix.
  9. Top with bacon, and more pasta water if you think it needs it. 
  10. This can be served warm or cold.

Nutritional data for one cup:

Calories:         103
Fat:                 2.3g
Sat fat:            0.6g
Chol:              3.8g
Sodium:        47.9g
Carbs:           17.2g
Fiber:              1.3g
Protein:           4.4g

You can increase the health benefits by using a high fiber pasta, but Tammy and I don’t eat pasta that often and we simply prefer the “regular” white pasta.

Don’t forget to listen to my podcast, Make Your Someday Today! It is a motivational and weight loss podcast, featuring interviews with musicians, athletes, artists, entrepreneurs and weight loss success stories from around the world. I also answer listener questions, and beginning with Episode 49, I give my “Recipe of the Week!” 

Bacon-Cheddar Popcorn Salad

Bacon-Cheddar Popcorn Salad


I saw this in the deli at my local grocery store. I normally don’t shop the deli, because there is little to choose from that meets our caloric and sodium menu plans. However, they had a healthier version of potato salad that I wanted to try. (I didn’t buy it. It was made with yogurt–which I like–but in this case, the recipe wasn’t very good.)

But as the deli worker was getting my sample of the potato salad, I saw a bowl of this salad. Here is a little how my brain went:

“Hm.  This potato salad is not very good. And I think I need to get…wait. Is that bacon?  And cheese?  And popcorn?  All together????”

I left the deli without potato salad but with a container of the Bacon-Cheddar Popcorn Salad in my cart.

It was really good. A definite ranch-ish flavor, built on fresh popped popcorn, a lot of bacon chunks mixed with shredded cheddar cheese and diced scallions, all in a mayo-type base.

I don’t have a recipe yet. And I don’t know if I want to toy with this. Maybe the secret will be to use this salad as a reward on rare occasions and just limit how much I eat. I don’t know. But it is fun to find such unique combinations of favorite foods.

Now, here is my question:

How can I make that recipe, but make it healthier?  (In other words, low sodium?) I can use low-sodium bacon (that is the bacon of choice here at home), but the cheese and mayo is sodium heavy. Would it be worth making my own mayo from scratch and leaving salt out?

Grilled Pizzas (Version 2)

Each Serves 1

Cheesy Garlic Bread
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, mashed and minced
2 tablespoons (1/2 ounce) shredded mozzarella cheese

Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza
One half of a large hamburger bun
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 slice medium onion, grilled
1 ounce browned ground beef
1 slice cheddar cheese

Reuben Pizza
One half of a large hamburger bun
1 tablespoon low fat mayonnaise
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1 ounces deli corned beef
2 tablespoons sauerkraut
1 slice Swiss cheese

Philly Cheesesteak Pizza
One half of a large hamburger bun
1 teaspoon olive oil
Your preferred herb blend (I used Penzey’s Sunny Paris.)
2 ounces sliced beef
1 ounce fire-roasted sweet bell peppers
1 slice medium onion, grilled
2 tablespoons (1/2 ounce) shredded mozzarella cheese

Chicken-Basil Sausage Pizza
One half of a large hamburger bun
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 of cooked chicken sausage (Al Fresco All Natural Sun-Dried Tomato is great), sliced
1 slice medium onion, grilled
2 tablespoons shredded mozzarella

Pepperoni Pizza
One half of a large hamburger bun
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Your preferred herbs (I used Penzey’s Tuscan Sunset.)
7 slices pepperoni
2 tablespoons shredded mozzarella


  1. Preheat grill on high for 10 minutes.
  2. For each pizza, spread the sauce/oil on the bun, and then top with the ingredients in that order.
  3. Place on grill, over indirect heat (only half the burners on–pizzas go over the cold burners.)
  4. Grill until the cheese gets melted.

Nutritional data:
               Cheesy      Bacon     Reuben     Philly   Chicken   Pepperoni
                 Bread     Cheese                                  Sausage        

Calories       146          292          317          215        182           143

Fat:             7.8g         15.3g       21.6g         9.8g      6.4g           7.2g
Sat fat:        2.2g              8g         7.5g         2.9g      2.5g          3.1g
Chol:        7.5mg         55mg        50mg      43mg     40mg        19mg
Sodium:   223mg       356mg      907mg     295mg   434mg      359mg
Carbs:       14.6g         2 1.2g       17.3g       14.7g       18g        13.2g
Fiber:          0.4g              2g            2g         1.2g      1.9g          1.3g
Protein:          5g         17.4g           12g       17.4g    12.6g          6.3g

From the top center, moving clockwise:  Cheesy Garlic Bread, Bacon Cheeseburger, 
Reuben, Philly Cheesesteak, Chicken Sausage, Pepperoni.

How to grill an onion slice:

Slice onion thickly. Slide a skewer through as shown. Brush with a bit of oil. Grill until finished.

Tasting notes:

  1. The Cheesy Garlic bread needed more garlic and maybe a bit more cheese.
  2. The Reuben was killer!
  3. The rest were all very good and simple.
  4. I found that toasting the bread before making the pizza (as in the previous recipes) is an unnecessary step.
  5. Using hamburger buns in this manner will allow everyone to make their own pizza exactly as they want it (or them?) All it will take is a supply of sauces and various toppings for a very simple pizza party.

Grilled French Bread Pizzas–Four Ways

Grilled French Bread Pizzas, Four Ways
Each pizza serves 2 or more, depending on if used as a meal or appetizer

French bread loaf, 12 inches (approximately)
Your choice of toppings (your options are infinite.) I used (from top to bottom):

Cheesy Garlic Bread
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large garlic clove, crushed and minced
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded mozzarella

Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza
1 tablespoon bacon grease (you can use olive oil if you prefer)
2 tablespoon tomato paste
4 ounces ground beef, cooked
2 strips bacon, cooked and chopped
2 slices cheddar cheese (sharp if possible) or 2 ounces shredded

Olive, Mushroom & Spinach Pizza
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large garlic clove, crushed and minced
1/2 can (4 ounce can) mushrooms (I use Pennsylvania Dutch brand, no added salt)
4 green olives, sliced thinly
4 Kalamata olive, sliced thinly
1 ounce fresh baby spinach, chopped finely
1 ounce (1/4 cup) shredded mozzarella

Mushroom & Swiss Pizza
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large garlic clove, crushed and minced
8 ounces fresh crimini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 medium onion, sliced
2 slices Swiss cheese (or 2 ounces)

The instructions are basically the same for each and only vary with the difference in toppings.

  1. Preheat your grill in high, or set your oven’s broiler on high.
  2. Cut the loaf in half, lengthwise. 
  3. Carefully remove as much the bread from the cut face of each half, creating a long bowl for the crust. When finished, each shell should weight about 2 or 2.5 ounces. (Save the removed bread to make bread crumbs, if you want.)
  4. Evenly spread the oil (or bacon grease) over the cut surface (not the crust). Spread garlic if the recipe calls for it.
  5. Prepare all fillings. If you didn’t cook the ground beef specifically for this recipe, warm it in a microwave oven in a skillet on the stove. (Do the same for the bacon.) Slice and chop all ingredients, and pre-measure the cheeses if needed.
  6. For the mushroom filling, preheat a nonstick skillet. Add a bit of cooking spray. Saute the onions and mushrooms until everything is softened the the mushrooms have released their water.
  7. When all toppings are ready, take the bread to the grill. Turn the heat to low and lay them, cut side DOWN, on the grill. Don’t walk away. The crusts go from raw to crispy to burned with very little time in between those stages. (Mine were getting close to burnt!)  This will take 1-2 minutes. If you are using your broiler, place them cut side UP, and give them the same 1-2 minutes. The idea is to crisp the crust, and help it resist absorbing any juices from the fillings and getting soggy.
  8. Take the crusts back to your work area. Fill the crusts in the order that they are given.
  9. Return the pizzas to the grill or broiler (in both cases, cut side UP.) 
  10. Remove when the cheese is melted.
  11. Let rest briefly, then cut and serve.
Nutritional data (per half of one pizza):
             Cheesy Bread    Bacon-Cheese  Olive & Spinach   Mush & Swiss
Calories       160                     322                    202                       245
Fat:             9.4g                     19g                 12.5g                    13.3g
Sat fat:        2.4g                    9.1g                   2.6g                      5.1g
Chol:        7.6mg                  54mg                7.5mg                    20mg
Sodium:   227mg                328mg                550mg                  209mg
Carbs:       14.4g                  17.9g                  16.9g                       22g
Fiber:          0.4g                    1.1g                   1.5g                      1.5g
Protein:       5.2g                  19.1g                    6.6g                    11.2g
Note: This is my first attempt at these recipes, and I liked the crispy crust. At Tammy’s request, I will try these techniques again, but not toast the bread initially for a softer crust. I will also use some different fillings (yet to be decided.) I will post the results here, later this week.

Wilted Lettuce Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing

Wilted Lettuce Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing
Serves 2-4 (depending on the portion size)

1 large head of leaf lettuce (red or green), torn into pieces, carefully rinsed and laid out to dry.

  1. Place lettuce into a large salad serving bowl.
  2. Set aside.
Mix together in a large microwave safe bowl:
  1. 4 tablespoon white distilled vinegar
  2. 2 tablespoon sugar (you can also use Splenda or Stevia–I used Splenda in the numbers below. Table sugar would add 21 calories per portion.)
  3. 2 tablespoons warm bacon grease
  4. 1/4 small red onion, sliced into thin rings
  5. 4 strips of cooked bacon, chopped.
  6. Just before service, place in microwave and bring to a boil.
  7. Stir to make sure the sugar is dissolved.
  8. Pour over prepared salad and toss to coat.
  9. The salad is ready when the lettuce is starting to wilt from the heat of the dressing.
Nutritional data: (for 1/4 of the above recipe)
Calories:    109
Fat:            9.8g
Sat fat:       3.6g
Chol:     14.9mg
Sodium:  195mg
Carbs:        1.3g
Fiber:         0.1g
Protein:         3g

Question for you:
Would you prefer this with beef, pork, chicken or fish? Why?

Bacon-Corn Broccoli Slaw and Jalapeno-Cheddar Polenta

Bacon-Corn Broccoli Slaw 
Serves 4

2 strips bacon (reserve 3 tablespoons bacon grease)
1 cup frozen corn kernels (or the equivalent cut from the fresh cobs.)
1/2 cup diced onion
12 ounce package of pre-cut broccoli slaw

1/2 cup Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon ranch dressing
1 teaspoon your preferred herb blend (I used Penzey’s Sunny Paris.)

  1. Fry bacon until crisp. Remove from the pan. Chop into a smallish pieces.
  2. Add corn and onion to the pan. Over medium heat, saute until the corn begins to brown (5-6 minutes.)
  3. While the corn and onions caramelize, mix yogurt, vinegar, ranch dressing and herb blend together. Taste, and add salt, pepper or sugar to taste.)
  4. Put broccoli slaw mix in a bowl. Top with yogurt dressing. Add corn and onions, and bacon.  Toss to coat. 
  5. Serve warm or cold.
Nutritional data: (6 ounces by weight per serving)
Calories:         129
Fat:                   7g
Sat fat:              2g
Chol:           8.9mg
Sodium:      142mg
Carbs:          12.1g
Fiber:             1.9g
Protein:             5g

Jalapeno Cheddar Polenta
Serves 4

1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1/2 cup onion, diced
16 ounces fluid (I used half beer, half water)
1/2 cup dried polenta
1/8 cup shredded cheddar

  1. Preheat non-stick skillet over med-high. Spray with cooking spray. 
  2. Saute pepper and onion for 3-5 minutes, until the pepper begins to get brown.
  3. While you are doing that, bring your liquid to a boil.
  4. Add the polenta to the boiling liquid.
  5. Turn heat down and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Stir in peppers and onions.
  7. Top with a bit of cheese when serving.
(Note that my polenta is brown, but only because I used a dark beer.)

Nutritional data: (4 ounces by weight per serving)
Calories:          113
Fat:                 1.2g
Sat fat:            0.7g
Chol:            3.7mg
Sodium:      25.3mg
Carbs:           18.8g
Fiber:              2.3g
Protein:            2.8g

Tuna BLT

Tuna BLT

I’m not going to give a specific recipe here. This is just a pictures to stimulate ideas. You can do this with any protein (beef, pork, chicken, turkey, or fish. You could even use a piece of tofu or a black bean burger.)

For this sandwich, I used about 4 ounces of ahi tuna. I heated a heavy-bottomed pan until it was really hot then seared both side for about 30 seconds. That tuna is about 3/4 inch thick.

The last time I posted a BLT, I used Healthy Life’s Whole Wheat English muffins. This sandwich was built on two pieces of their 100% Whole Wheat High Fiber bread. Depending on your personal focus, per slice it has 35 calories, 5 net carbs, 3g fiber, and only 85mg sodium.

Instead of mayo, I used mashed avocado as in the earlier sandwich. That drizzle in front is an excellent chipotle-infused olive oil from my friends at Olivada, in Sheboygan, WI. The smoky heat (but not too hot) of the oil nicely off-set the smoothness of the avocado and the meatiness of the tuna.

(No, I don’t get freebies, commissions or anything else. I just enjoy supporting small businesses that offer great products and great service. You can visit in person or shop online.)

No nutritional data today. The sandwich will vary based on your ingredients. I just hope that I gave you a new idea.

You have until 11:59pm on Tuesday to vote in the poll. I have a couple other polls that I will post after this one, to further refine my plans. Why am I polling you? It’s really for the same reason I do this blog. I want to create a product that you really want. I don’t want to spend a lot of time (and money) making a book that will only be of interest to my Mother. I want to satisfy your needs more than my needs.

An updated BLT

An Updated BLT
(The recipe below is for two sandwiches, but the nutritional data is for one sandwich.)
2 English muffins (I prefer Healthy Life 100% Whole Wheat, for their flavor and only 60mg of sodium per muffin.) 
1/4 ripe avocado, mashed
2 strips bacon (preferably low sodium)
2-4 slices of tomato 
Onions as desired
Fresh baby spinach
  1. Fry your  bacon, and drain on plate covered with paper plate and paper towels. (You can save any residual bacon grease for later cooking or throw it out. I save mine.) Note: I have been having issues with out home smoke detectors lately, so I fry my bacon on my gas grill outside, laying them on a cast iron griddle. Works great, and no loud alarms!)
  2. Toast your muffins, or I lightly butter them and lay them on the gas grill for few minutes.)
  3. Spread half the mashed avocado on each muffin and layer the other ingredients. One slice of bacon torn in half is all that is needed on each sandwich for great flavor.
That’s it. Simple as can be, and much healthier (in this case, especially in regards to the sodium content.) More importantly, this is a delicious sandwich and really quick to make.
Nutritional data (per sandwich):
Calories:     183
Fat:             6.7g
Sat fat:        1.6g
Chol:          7.5mg
Sodium:  161.3mg
Carbs:       22.5g
Fiber:             4g
Protein:       8.6g

To understand why this version is healthier, if you used Healthy Life 100% whole wheat bread, 2 tablespoons low fat mayonnaise, and 3 strips of regular bacon the numbers would be:
Nutritional data (per sandwich):
Calories:       237 (not bad)
Fat:               12.6g 
Sat fat:            3.3g
Chol:            26.4mg
Sodium:      1027mg  (Ouch!)
Carbs:          21.5g (the same)
Fiber:             5.7g  (better)
Protein:        13.3g  (more)
If you are not worried about sodium, the regular version is fine. But the updated version is 50 calories and 960 mg sodium less, and that can make a difference. 

Bacon and Cheddar Stuffed Mushrooms

Bacon and Cheddar Stuffed Mushrooms
Makes 24 Mushrooms

24 large button mushrooms
2 slices bread, torn
3 tablespoons bacon bits (or 2 slices bacon, crumbled)
1 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese

  1. Remove stems from cleaned mushrooms. Finely mince the stems.
  2. Preheat oven to 375F.
  3. Preheat a 10″ non-stick skillet and spray with cooking spray.
  4. Add minced mushrooms stems. Saute until then get soft (4-6 minutes.)
  5. Add torn bread. Continue to cook and stir until the bread becomes well-mixed.
  6. Add bacon. Stir.
  7. Add cheese and remove from the heat. Stir until well-mixed.
  8. Fill each cap with a teaspoon of filling.
  9. Place all caps in a 9×13 baking pan.
  10. Bake, uncovered for 30-45 minutes, or until the mushrooms get hot and the stuffing browns.

Nutritional data (per mushroom):
Calories:     29
Fat:           1.9g
Sat fat:      1.1g
Chol:        5.5mg
Sodium:  72.4mg
Carbs:       1.2g
Fiber:        0.3g
Protein:     2.1g

Onions, garlic instead of bacon
Crab meat instead of bacon
Onion and avocado instead of bacon and cheddar
Onion, sausage and mozzarella instead of bacon and cheddar
Sun-dried tomato, garlic and mozzarella instead of bacon and cheddar
Onion, black olive and feta instead of bacon and cheddar
Minced ham and shredded Swiss instead of bacon and cheddar