Patti LaBelle’s Low-Carb Foil Packet Dinner Recipe Makes Healthy Eating Seamless
Diabetic-friendly eating doesn’t mean sacrificing taste; it just means getting creative to flavor food without refined sugar and with less salt and saturated fats. Just ask singing diva Patti LaBelle, who has teamed up with Hood Calorie Countdown to speak to Brit + Co about how she navigates the dietary restrictions. Diagnosed with diabetes (like her mom and aunt) 22 years ago, LaBelle needed to make drastic changes to her daily eating. “My mind is saying I’m 74, and I’m really wanting to live to be about 174. So I can save my life [by] changing the way I eat,” said LaBelle. In addition to providing actionable tips for seasoning food (without salt and fat), she shared an ingeniously easy recipe for sea bass and veggies in a foil packet so you can prep a diet-friendly, low-carb dinner in a snap.
LaBelle’s antidote to salt: Capsaicin! “I always use habanero peppers or jalapeño peppers — something spicy,” LaBelle told us. She also keeps cayenne and sriracha stocked in her cupboard for easy-to-reach heat. “I love hot things,” she gushed.
The singer adds “lots” of onions, minced garlic, dried oregano, and citrus to dishes to build big flavor. “I use a lot of lemon zest and orange zest, even on a salad,” she advised. (The one herb she can’t get behind? Rosemary. Add it to your own dishes for big taste, but leave it out if you’re cooking for LaBelle!)
Diabetic-friendly diets are also low-fat, ruling out many Southern comfort foods, although LaBelle’s developed some work-arounds. Instead of fried chicken, LaBelle sautés the meat with a little grapeseed oil, fresh garlic, and hot peppers. Rather than tossing in a ham hock with boiled greens, LaBelle opts for a smoked turkey leg, some onions, and grapeseed oil with the kale.
Even shrimp receives special treatment. “I don’t cook the shrimp in butter,” she explained. “When you steam them, they taste as good as they do if you sauté them.” When it comes to burgers, she forgoes beef and grills ground turkey patties and serves them bunless with some hot sauce on top and a side of steamed spinach.
Succulent Steamed Sea Bass with Broccoli, Mushrooms, and Summer Squash RECIPE
The steam gives the fish a moist and tender texture and cooks the vegetables perfectly — not too crispy, not too soggy. And because you cook all the ingredients in aluminum foil, cleanup is easy and super fast. Twenty minutes after you pop this concoction in the oven, unwrap the foil and announce, “Dinner’s ready.”
Patti’s Pointers: Don’t feel you have to use broccoli, mushrooms, and squash in this recipe. Whatever is fresh and in season — tomatoes, zucchini, corn — will work just fine. That goes double for the fish; you can use any fish with dense, tender flesh and a delicate flavor, like sea trout or cod.
*Recipe Notes: Feel free to replace the margarine with extra virgin olive oil. If you are not watching your saturated fat intake, consider using real butter or ghee.
- 6 (4-ounce) sea bass filets
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white or black pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or parsley
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced broccoli florets
- 1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
- 1/2 thinly sliced yellow squash
- 1 tablespoon reduced-calorie margarine*
- 6 lemon wedges
1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Tear off a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil, one large enough to hold all ingredients comfortably (about 2 feet long). Coat the foil with fat-free cooking spray.
2. Put the fish in the center of the foil and sprinkle with half of the salt, pepper, and basil or parsley. Top with the broccoli, mushrooms, and squash. Sprinkle with the remaining salt, pepper, and basil or parsley. Dot with pieces of the margarine.
3. Bring together the long sides of the foil and fold down tightly over the fish. Fold up the short sides of the foil.
4. Put the packet on a baking sheet and bake until the fish is just opaque, 18 to 20 minutes. (It’s okay to open the packet to check that the fish is opaque all the way through.)
Let us know your favorite low-carb meal at @BritandCo!
(Recipe reprinted with permission from Patti LaBelle’s Lite Cuisine by Patti LaBelle, copyright © 2003. Published by Avery. Photos via Annelies Zijderveld/Brit+Co)
Welcome to Selfmade Finance School, our new money series with Block Advisors to help small business owners with their tax, bookkeeping, and payroll needs year-round. This week, we explore the tax implications of bringing family members into your business.
The question for today is this: Does hiring your family members make sense for your business? Let me be clear. This is not a piece about whether hiring your family members makes sense for your relationships with those family members. As someone who is part of a family business, I could fill up a lot more than 600 words on my opinions about that. For today's purposes, we focus on whether it makes sense from an overall "good business and tax implication" perspective. As it turns out, there is a decent amount of tax nuance when it comes to employing your family. Let's break it down based on relationship to the employee:
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Spouses Who Are In Business Together
Personally, if I had to be in business with my husband, it would not go well. However, many couples build viable, strong businesses together and I say, good for them! Depending on how you have your business entity structured, it will make a big difference on the tax treatment of you and your spouse working as partners. Because a business jointly owned and operated by a married couple is generally treated as a partnership for Federal tax purposes, the spouses must comply with filing and record keeping requirements imposed on partnerships and their partners. The election to file two Schedule C (Form 1040) forms, (one for each spouse) permits certain married co-owners to avoid filing partnership returns, provided that each spouse separately reports a share of all the businesses' items of income, gain, loss, deduction, and credit. Under the election, both spouses will be subject to self-employment tax and on net earnings from self-employment and receive credit for Social Security earnings.
One Spouse Employs Another
If you have a dynamic where your spouse is an employee of your business, then your spouse's wages are subject to income tax withholding, Social Security and Medicare taxes. If you are self-employed (not a corporation or a partnership), your spouse's pay does not have to be included in your federal unemployment tax account (FUTA) contributions and payments. However, if your business is a corporation or a partnership you must include that spouse's pay in your unemployment tax contribution calculation.
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You Employ Your Child
First, let's be clear. I work in my family business, but I am an adult, so I am treated just like a normal employee. However, if you, for example, run a family restaurant and want to hire your children under 18 to work for you, there are some tax benefits. But first, you should check with your state for rules on how many hours minors can work (in non-agricultural jobs) and reference the Fair Labor Standards Act for information on limitations on the kinds of work children can perform.
"This is an often overlooked or under-utilized strategy. Paying your children for true services they provide in your business can be a powerful tax-saving tool," says Cathi Reed, Block Advisors Regional Director. "If you are a sole-proprietorship or single member LLC, and the child is less than 18 years of age, the business is not required to withhold FICA or payroll taxes. The child can use his or her standard deduction against income you pay."
You Hire Your Parent
Oh dear. If you are brave enough to do this, know that you will need to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on your parent's wages and make the appropriate withholdings, but you don't have to pay unemployment taxes. Now all you have to do is convince your parent that you are the boss. Have fun with that!
Is Hiring Family Members Worth It For The Tax Benefits?
"There are some positive tax advantages to hiring family members. It's important to treat a family member like any other employee. Hiring your children can result in substantial savings for businesses. Make sure your child has real, age-appropriate work to do and a reasonable pay rate, comparable to other employees. Consult with a Block Advisors small business certified tax pro to ensure that you are complying with all requirements," advises Reed. "Block Advisors, a team within H&R Block, is dedicated to meeting the tax, bookkeeping and payroll needs of small business owners year-round. To start working with the tax experts at Block Advisors, visit blockadvisors.com."
In my opinion, you should not hire a family member solely because of the tax benefits. You should always hire based on whether that person is right for the job and keep in mind how this hire could materially impact your relationship with that person and others in your family. Finally, as I mentioned, make sure you have a tax professional on your team when making these determinations. As you can see, things can get a little tricky!
*All details were sourced from IRS.gov and blockadvisors.com