Junk food for health

Everyone needs a little junk food from time to time. Why not make it delicious? I taught a class as the featured chef at Lake Austin Spa in Austin, Texas, called Junk Food: Burgers, Pizza and Dips. Lake Austin Spa offers great exercise classes, food events and entertainment, as well as all the incredible spa treatments available. But the health-conscious patrons on-site packed my junk food class to learn more about eating great food in a healthy way. It was so popular that I wanted to share its star ideas with you.

With my junk food favorites you get that fast, yummy flavor without the guilt—and with the bonus of being nutritious for your family. My focus is on providing the means to a healthier lifestyle for the busy person through cooking simple recipes. Don’t turn eating into a science project by selecting the superfood of the week or the diet of the day as an immediate solution to good health. Our focus should be on what we can eat, not what we can’t. The idea of a superfood makes us believe that a certain food should be regarded above the rest, when really, eating healthy is about enhancing our foods with more of the good stuff—fruits, vegetables and whole grains. With quick and easy, healthy recipes, you can pretend your kitchen has that drive-through window.

Who doesn’t love chowing down on chips and dip occasionally? With my Guacamole Goes Mediterranean, you can have it all–dig in without the guilt. Flavors and healthy ingredients of the Mediterranean, combined with delicious and creamy, heart-healthy avocados, give this appetizer some serious spunk. It’s a recipe I can’t help but make over and over, and I keep these favorite ingredients always on hand. Going green is not just for the environment. Green foods—such as kiwi, lime, asparagus and more—are also important for your health. These foods help keep vision sharp and bones and teeth strong while also helping prevent certain cancers.

Pizza does not need to be the poster child for bad food choices. Fig, Caramelized Onion, Prosciutto & Goat Cheese Pizza is a mouth-watering combination of rich creamy goat cheese, salty prosciutto, and plump figs. It also makes a delightful snack, appetizer or meal. And I just had to share the Tropical Fruit Pizza. It is not only the best-tasting way to get in your daily serving of fruits but also show-stopping beautiful.

Fig, Caramelized Onion, Prosciutto & Goat Cheese Pizza
Figs, considered a symbol of fertility and revered as an aphrodisiac, turn pizza into an alluring palate-pleasing masterpiece.

1 tsp. plus 1 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 small onion, thinly sliced
Pinch of sugar
1 12-oz. thin pizza crust
2 Tbsp. orange marmalade
4 oz. figs, sliced into thirds
2 oz. prosciutto, cut into pieces
1⁄2 cup crumbled goat cheese
1⁄4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 tsp. dried rosemary leaves, optional

In small nonstick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil and sauté onion, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes or until onion starts to turn golden. Add sugar and continue cooking until caramel color. Set aside to cool. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On pizza crust, spread remaining tablespoon of olive oil and cover with orange marmalade. Arrange cooled onions, figs, prosciutto, goat cheese and mozzarella on crust. Sprinkle with rosemary, if desired. Bake 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is crisp. Makes 8 servings.

Holly’s hints: Figs are high in fiber and potassium. If figs aren’t available, substitute dates.

Nutritional information per serving:
Calories 281 | Calories from fat 34% | Fat 10g | Saturated fat 4g | Cholesterol 16mg | Sodium 279mg | Carbohydrate 38g | Dietary fiber 4g | Sugars 12g | Protein 6g | Dietary exchanges: 2 starch, 1⁄2 fruit, 1⁄2 lean meat, 11⁄2 fat

Guacamole Goes Mediterranean
This avocado and feta dip definitely satisfies my cravings.

1 cup chopped avocado (1-2 avocados)
1⁄4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley
1⁄2 tsp. dried oregano leaves
1 tsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. seasoned rice vinegar (basil and oregano flavored)
1⁄4 cup crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese

In a bowl, gently stir together avocado, onion and garlic. Mix in parsley and oregano. Gently stir in olive oil, rice vinegar and feta. Refrigerate or serve immediately. Makes 5 1⁄4-cup servings.

Nutritional information per serving:
Calories 123 | Calories from fat 72% | Fat 11g Saturated fat 2g | Cholesterol 3mg | Sodium 105mg Carbohydrate 7g | Dietary fiber 4g | Sugars 1g Protein 3g | Dietary exchanges: 1⁄2 starch, 2 fat

Tropical Fruit Pizza
Easy and picture-perfect, this pizza is a great way to enjoy fruit, especially when the fruit is in season. Feel free to substitute your favorite fruits.

1 18-oz. roll refrigerated ready-to-slice sugar cookie dough
1⁄3 cup sugar
1 8-oz. package fat-free cream cheese
1 tsp. coconut extract
11⁄2 tsp. grated orange rind
1 cup fat-free frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 26-oz. jar mango slices, drained, or 1 fresh mango, sliced
3 kiwi, sliced
1 16-oz. can pineapple slices, drained, or 1 fresh pineapple, sliced
1 11-oz. can mandarin orange segments, drained
1⁄4 cup apricot preserves
1 Tbsp. orange liqueur or orange juice
2 Tbsp. coconut, toasted (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Press cookie dough into a 12-inch or 14-inch pizza pan coated with nonstick cooking spray. Bake 12 minutes, cool completely. In a medium mixing bowl, blend together sugar, cream cheese and coconut extract until well mixed. Stir in orange rind and whipped topping, mixing until smooth. Spread cream cheese mixture on top of cooled crust. Arrange mango slices around edge of iced pizza; next, arrange row of kiwi slices, then pineapple slices around edge. Finally, create a ring of mandarin orange slices to fill center of pizza. On stovetop or in microwave, heat apricot preserves and orange liqueur just until melted. Spoon glaze over fruit. Sprinkle with toasted coconut, if desired. Refrigerate until serving. Makes 12 servings.

Holly’s hint: Go ahead and grate more orange rind than you’ll need for the recipe. You can grate a whole orange or lemon and freeze the unused rind until needed.

Nutritional information per serving:
Calories 269 | Protein 4g | Carbohydrate 48g | Fat 6g | Calories from fat 21% | Saturated fat 2g | Dietary fiber 0g | Cholesterol 5mg | Sodium 253mg | Dietary exchanges: 1 fruit, 2 other carbohydrate, 1 fat

Holly Clegg is the author of the best-selling trim&TERRIFIC cookbooks, Eating Well Through Cancer and Too Hot in the Kitchen: Secrets to Sizzle at Any Age. For more information, visit hollyclegg.com or thehealthycookingblog.com.