While I was in the process of losing 200 pounds, I was torn between chefs offering foie gras and nutritionists whose menus were dictated by tables and charts. Both can be excellent at what they do, but neither provided what actually made a difference for my weight loss: innovative, flavorful recipes that offered a substantive nutritional punch. So I figured it out myself. I still wage that fight a dish at a time — sometimes with a beer not in my hand, but beside the stove.
Beer offers an excellent way to lend complex flavor and earthiness to health food staples like salmon, bitter greens or almonds. Incorporating beer is as simple as substituting it for water or stock for a recipe.
Light beer, which ranges from 64-200 calories per 12 ounces, is excellent in sauces; a blend of Strawberry Abita and ketchup transforms a lean burger, for example, but stir-fry sauces, soups or curries can benefit from beer, too. It also can be used to deglaze a pan. Beer lends depth to braises, or can serve as a full or partial replacement for water in reconstituting dried foods.
Most people use beer to have fun; you can work it into a magical meal and have something to celebrate.
Beer-glazed salmon with blueberries
2 6-oz. salmon fiLlets
1/2 bottle Abita Light (or any light beer)
3/4 cup roasted garlic (about 1 head: can replace with finely minced fresh garlic)
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon parsley
Dash curry powder
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup blueberries
Pour half bottle of beer into a saucepan. Cook on high heat. Mash roasted garlic with fork or mortar and pestle until smooth and add to beer. (If using fresh garlic, sautee in olive oil over medium-low heat for 5 minutes before adding beer.) Add spices.
The mixture will reduce to the viscosity of deli mustard (use water, chicken stock or more beer to thin sauce as necessary). Remove from heat.
Add 1/2 tablespoon olive oil to a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add salmon fillets and saute until slightly crisp and color intensifies, about 5 minutes.
Spread sauce over fillets and garnish with blueberries.
Alternate method: Spread sauce across salmon fillets and bake at 350 degrees until salmon is cooked, about 10-12 minutes. Top with blueberries.
Per 3-oz. serving: calories 212.9; total fat 7 g (saturated fat 1.1 g; polyunsaturated fat 2.8 g; monounsaturated fat 2.3 g); cholesterol 60.4 mg; sodium 54.8 mg; potassium 628.7 mg; total carbohydrates 8.8 g (dietary fiber 0.8 g; sugars 2.1 g); protein 23 g