We had an amazing opportunity to introduce our girls to where it all started: Monterey, California. Monterey holds a very special place in my heart. Lots of firsts happened here for us – first date, proposal, and wedding. Eleven years later, we all got a chance to walk down memory lane.
One day was devoted to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It was a full day and we enjoyed every minute of it. From exhibits to feeding time it was a day packed with fun! Located at the ocean’s edge on historic Cannery Row, the Monterey Bay Aquarium offers a window to marine life, literally. We got to watch sea otters, penguins, sharks, jellyfish and thousands of other marine animals and plants. Another reason to go? Its mission is to inspire conservation of the ocean. I’m always on board to help protect the only planet we have. Such an important lesson to teach our children.
A holiday isn’t a holiday without time spent at the beach. Lucky for us, another beautiful beach town of Carmel is right next door to Monterey. We got the chance to build sandcastles and play in the water.
Being by the water also meant walks along the pier. There is an abundance of amazing seafood restaurants nearby and that’s where we discovered our kids’ love for clam chowder! I mean, who can resist that warm, satisfying soup…especially when served in a sourdough bread bowl?! We must have had chowder twice each day we were there. Even after we left, the girls begged us to make clam chowder at home. As a dietitian, I loved that my kids were consuming clams (which alone are low in fat, high in protein, rich in minerals such as iron, selenium, zinc and magnesium. They are also a source of heart healthy omega-3 fats as well as B vitamins). However, I couldn’t continue to offer the heavy cream, rich version of restaurant-style clam chowder. Instead, I wanted a low-fat, full-flavored and simple version to make. Challenge accepted!
This is what we came up with:
Lean Clam Chowder
Our version of clam chowder is low in fat but high in flavor.
- 2 Tsp Canola oil (Or spray canola oil)
- 4 Slices Turkey bacon
- 1 Medium Onion
- 2 Stalks Celery
- 1 Tsp Dried thyme
- 1 Tsp Old bay seasoning
- 1 Medium Red potato
- 1 Each Bay leaf
- 3 Cups Low fat milk
- 1/2 Cup Fat free half and half
- 1/3 Cup Flour
- 1/2 Tsp Salt
- 2 6 ounce Cans Chopped clams Rinsed
- 2 6 ounce Cans Whole clams With juice
Oil your pan with canola oil and brown the turkey bacon until crisp. Remove two slices from the pan and cut into small squares to use as a topping later. Set aside.
Chop onions and slice celery into bite-sized pieces. Cut up the two slices of bacon and sautée with onions, celery and thyme and old bay seasoning. Cook for about two minutes.
Cube potoates. Add potatoes and bay leaf to pot. Simmer for 8-10 minutes until vegetables have softened.
In a separate bowl, mix milk, fat-free half and half, salt and flour together. Add to pot and continue to simmer on medium-high heat until thickened.
2 cans of clams with juice, and two cans of rinsed clams into pot and simmer for an additional 3 minutes.
Remove bay leaf. Serve soup. Top with chopped bacon and parsley, if desired. Enjoy!