Emily Alvers

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    Crab Stuffed Mushrooms

    TGIF! I don't know about you, but Friday's always get me in the mood for some fun appetizers to signal the start of a nice relaxing weekend. Friday is one of those days where many times I don't feel like eating a traditional sit down dinner. Anyone who agrees might tend to gravitate towards happy hours because of this. The good news is that you can make the same delicious appetizers you get at most restaurants with very little effort and about 1/4 of the calories! Restaurant prepared stuffed mushrooms can be loaded with fat and calories without you even knowing it. This recipe uses lower fat Neufchatel cheese, high quality crab meat and whole grain Panko bread crumbs.

    Did you know that 5-6 small mushrooms have about 400 mg of potassium? That equals the same amount you'd find in a small banana. They're also a great source of the antioxidant selenium, which is powerful in fighting cell damage caused by free radicals. Then there's the high content of niacin, which is known as a powerful ally to help lower cholesterol. Need I say more?

    These nutritious little gems can actually function as a meal all by themselves or can be served alongside other appetizers. Next time you have an itch for happy hour or need to entertain guests, whip these up instead. A few simple ingredients and no guilt afterwards. They are simply suberb!!!

    -21 extra large mushrooms
    -4 oz. wild caught jumbo lump crab meat
    -4 oz. rBst free Neufchatel cheese/reduced fat cream cheese
    -1/4 cup green onions, chopped
    -1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
    -2 Tbsp. grated parmesan
    -2 Tbsp. red pepper, finely chopped
    -2 cloves garlic, minced
    -3/4 tsp salt
    -1/4 tsp pepper
    -1 T Smart Balance Light
    -1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs

    Step 1: Preheat oven to 375 F. Remove stems from mushrooms and discard. Wipe mushrooms clean with damp cloth.(DO NOT rinse in water as it will make them soggy) Spray lightly with extra virgin olive oil non-stick spray. Place open face up in shallow casserole dish.

    Step 2: Using a large spoon, combine all ingredients, except Smart Balance and Panko, together in small mixing bowl.

    Step 3: Spoon a heaping tsp. of mixture into each mushroom cap. Will be heaping on top.

    Step 4: In a small microwaveable bowl, microwave 1 T Smart Balance until melted (about 20 seconds). Add Panko to bowl and combine thoroughly to lightly coat bread crumbs. Spoon about 1 teaspoon bread crumb mixture on top of each stuffed mushroom.

    Step 5: Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until golden brown on top. Remove and allow to cool 2 minutes before serving. Makes 7 servings (21 extra large mushrooms).

    Nutrition Facts: (Based on 3 stuffed mushrooms)
    99 calories
    5 g fat
    7 g carbs
    8 g protein
    2 g sugar

    I enjoyed 8 of these large stuffed mushrooms as a complete meal. This same crab mixture could easily be used to make crab rangoons with won ton wrappers or to stuff mini sweet peppers. Very versatile! So easy, so healthy, and simply superb!

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    Variation: Neufchatel Crab Fondue
    Combine all ingredients listed for crab mix + 1/2 cup skim milk in a food processor. Pour into mini casserole dish, top with Panko, and bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until golden brown on top. Great served with mini sweet peppers, broccoli, or whole grain bread or crackers. Serves 4.

    Nutrition Facts (based on fondue divided evenly into 4 servings) : 194 cal / 9 g fat / 15 g carbs / 15 g protein / 6 g sugar