12 In Family/ Food/ Fun/ Kids/ Recipes/ Travel

A Beach Getaway & leaner clam chowder recipe

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. 

Course Soup
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6 People


  • 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


  1. 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. 

  2. 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. 

  3. Cube potoates. Add potatoes and bay leaf to pot. Simmer for 8-10 minutes until vegetables have softened. 

  4. 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. 

  5. 2 cans of clams with juice, and two cans of rinsed clams into pot and simmer for an additional 3 minutes.  

  6. Remove bay leaf. Serve soup. Garnish with chopped turkey bacon and parsley, if desired. Enjoy!


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  • Reply
    August 6, 2018 at 2:55 pm

    So amazing that you got to show that such a dear place to your hearts. Great recipe

    • Reply
      August 18, 2018 at 2:33 pm

      Thank you so much, Patrick!

  • Reply
    August 6, 2018 at 4:48 pm

    My husband is from the East Coast, and ever since moving to Colorado he’s complained that he can’t find a good clam chowder anywhere. This recipe looks delicious and I like that it’s on the lighter side – I’ll definitely be giving this a try soon!

    • Reply
      August 18, 2018 at 2:38 pm

      Thanks, Kelli! I know, a good clam chowder really is hard to find! Hope you liked this version!

  • Reply
    Anne|Craving Something Healthy
    August 7, 2018 at 7:33 pm

    What a wonderful family trip! That’s such a beautiful part of California 🙂

    • Reply
      August 18, 2018 at 2:39 pm

      Thanks, Anne!

  • Reply
    August 9, 2018 at 12:29 pm

    What a fun getaway! Made this clam chowder and my kids devoured it, thanks!

    • Reply
      August 18, 2018 at 2:40 pm

      Yay! Hope they liked it as much as our kids did!

  • Reply
    August 10, 2018 at 12:51 am

    I just tried the recipe and it tastes like the rich version. Thank you!

    • Reply
      August 18, 2018 at 2:40 pm

      Right?! We thought so too- so much flavor 🙂

  • Reply
    August 10, 2018 at 12:52 am

    Such a cute post! We love Monterey too!

    • Reply
      August 18, 2018 at 2:41 pm

      Yes, Monterey is the best!

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