Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Simple Alfredo Sauce and a Few Thoughts on what Healthy Means to me

I might surprise you by posting this recipe. No, really. You know that sesame street song that goes, "one of these things is not like the other....one of these things just doesn't belong" or something like that. Well that might just be this recipe. You might look at the ingredients and say Wow. What is this doing on a healthy food blog? I've posted recipes like it that contain spinach and squash so you you might have gotten over those, but not this one. Nope. None of that. You might think to yourself, wow she's going too far here. There is NOTHING that's really good for me in this recipe except maybe the garlic. Well that may be true, but I'm posting it anyway. So just give me a second to explain my reasoning okay? And if you don't agree that's okay.

As I've talked to people, I feel like many don't really understand what "healthy" is and what it isn't. Many people think that to be healthy a recipe can't contain anything that is ______ (blank). And that "blank" changes over time depending on what the whim of the day is.

I believe that to be healthy a meal needs to be made up of a balance of foods. The food pyramid is a great visual if you remember that from grade school days. If you aren't eating in balance, you're not eating healthy. Period. Even if every meal you eat is packed full of a single very healthy food, you will be deficient in some areas unless you balance your diet and eat a wide variety of food.

Another thing to think about in terms of healthy is cutting processed foods out of your diet. But remember that you have to have a substitute for them. Especially at the beginning. Otherwise you will break down and sneak a McD's binge every weekend or the equivalent. This recipe is a perfect way to get your McD's cravings under control (which will eventually go away over time...blech!) while avoiding the chemical additives in processed foods which are so addicting and harmful.

The other point to be made here is that family cooking needs to be delicious. You are feeding the people you love. I'm all about finding healthier ways to eat things, but sometimes you need some real, comfort-tasting food to get the healthy down. Do ya know what I mean?

To give you an example, in our family we love pasta dishes and this simple Alfredo sauce has been a tried and true recipe for our family a long time. It probably won't win records for the healthiest of Alfredo sauces. But honestly I've tried a lot of different recipes and I keep coming back to this one. It's one of the best.  It works great for a quick week night meal. In fact it's usually my go-to recipe for a fast meal that I know everyone will love and that means a lot to a Mom. It is so important for your family to enjoy the food that you cook. And for you to know that they enjoy it, so that you want to cook food for them more often.

We usually serve this sauce over pasta (whole grain is delicious) or as a dipping sauce for these bread sticks. I also love to serve this over spaghetti squash (which is 100% vegetables) or use it as a pizza sauce. Of course we always include a side dish like steamed vegetables or a salad to balance the meal. It's also delicious served with chicken, but we only do for the very specialist of special occasions. Balanced with a plethora of healthy side dishes and atop a healthy vegetable or grain, this Alfredo sauce will send a good meal right over the top. I hope you enjoy!

Simple Alfredo Sauce
Printable Recipe

*Makes 2-3 Cups

*Note: This recipe can be made ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen. It reheats well, just thicken with a little flour or thin with a little milk until desired consistency is reached.

1/2 Cup butter
1 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese (or light cream cheese)
2 Cups heavy cream (substituting half-n-half or whole milk works great too)
1 tsp. garlic powder *See Note below
1/2 Cup grated Parmesan cheese (Optional. I've omitted the Parmesan cheese successfully, but it's better with it)
1/4 tsp. salt, more to taste
1/8 tsp. black pepper, more to taste

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Mix in the cream cheese and turn down temperature to medium low. Whisk until combined. Stir in the cream and garlic powder. Increase the heat to medium and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat and simmer, stirring often until desired consistency is reached (about 5 minutes). Stir in the Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over hot pasta.

*Note: Fresh garlic works great in this recipe too. Use 1/2 t- 1 tsp. of freshly minced garlic (1-2 cloves) and saute it with the butter.

*Variation: To use as a pizza sauce or dipping sauce, thicken sauce with flour 1 tsp. at a time before Parmesan cheese is added until desired consistency is reached.

Recipe Source: Adapted from The Food Nanny

No comments:

Popular Posts


Related Posts with Thumbnails