Posts tagged ‘Vegetarian’

June 6, 2011

Savory Broccoli and Spinach Cheesecake

WHOA! Hold the phone! What’s that I read? CHEESECAKE?

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking… “Sonia, didn’t you just say you were going to keep your calorie intake in check and cook more light and low cal dishes for a while? And yet, here you are, making CHEESECAKE? Are you, like, out of your mind or something?

Well, not exactly! 😉 While cheesecake isn’t exactly you typical low cal dish, believe it or not, one serving of this baby will only set you back about 425 calories.

Not bad for such a rich and decadent dish. While eating it, you would never guess that it was so healthy and surprisingly light. It definitely feels super rich and creamy and oh so cheesy.

You see, I was initially planning on making a quiche, but I suddenly remembered that I had bought about a million packages of low fat cream cheese last time it came on sale (I know, I have to work on that…) and so my mind immediately went “SAVORY CHEESECAKE” and this huge grin came across my face.

Then I remembered: “-Low cal”. D’OH!

I had to think of a way to make this happen. HAD TO!

And I did!

How? I remembered that one could also use cottage cheese to make cheesecakes! Bingo, problem solved. I used one package of low fat cream cheese, one container of 1% cottage cheese and a little bit of Feta cheese for added flavour and texture.

All in all, I am EXTREMELY happy with the results. The texture is rich and creamy with nice chunks of vegetables and the pie as a whole doesn’t feel heavy at all despite being loaded with cheese. The taste? Hard to describe… but definitely YUMMY!

There’s only one tiny little detail that didn’t quite work out… the crust isn’t of the cuddly kind and doesn’t seem to want to cling to the cheese filling. That’s why I decided to garnish with arugula leaves, to hide the gap that had formed between the crust and the filling. Problem solved? Not quite that easily…

The slices are a little tricky to cut, but if you make a small “starter” indentation in the crust, the rest goes pretty good. However, once a slice is cut, the “gap” transforms into a drawbridge, so you sort of have to hold it in place with a toothpick.

Not sure how to solve that problem… I will have to think of something… Edible superglue?

Anywho, that won’t stop me from making this wonderful savory cheesecake again, or even from bringing it to an eventual party. I am truly happy with this experiment and the way it turned out.

And, now that I’ve got a good base, I can play with different flavour combinations!

Oh! food, how I love thee!

INGREDIENTS

Crust

  • ¾ cup spelt flour
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup no fat plain yogurt
  • 1 egg

Filling

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp oranic no salt seasoning
  • 4 cups broccoli florets, chopped
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 140g spinach, chopped
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
  • 250g low fat cream cheese
  • 500g 1% fat cottage cheese
  • the zest and juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 3 whole eggs
  • ¼ cup egg whites (equivalent to 2 egg whites)
  • 100g Feta cheese, crumbled

INSTRUCTIONS
(serves 6)

Crust

  1. Whisk flours, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In a measuring cup, whisk oil, yogurt and egg; pour over flour.
  2. Stir to form fairly smooth dough.
  3. On floured surface, knead until smooth, 2 minutes.
  4. Press into disc; wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  5. On floured surface, roll out dough to form a 12-13 inch disc. Fit into 9 inch spring form pan, letting excess hang over edge. Set aside.

Filling

  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. In a skillet coated with cooking spray, cook onion, bell pepper and seasoning over medium heat, until fragrant and onion becomes translcent, about 2-3 minutes. Add broccoli and continue cooking for another minute or two.
  3. Add water and balsamic vinegar. Cook until all water has evaporated. Turn off the heat and add chopped spinach and nutmeg. Stir until the spinach is wilted. Set aside to cool.
  4. In a food processor, blend cream cheese and cottage cheese together until smooth. Scrape the sides once or twice during process to make sure all cheese is well incorporated.
  5. Add lemon juice and lemon zest, Dijon mustard and give a quick stir.
  6. Add eggs, one at a time, blending until smooth between each addition. Add the egg whites and take the mixture for a final spin.
  7. Transfer cooked vegetables to a large mixing bowl. Add crumbled feta and creamy cheese mixture. Fold delicately until well combined.
  8. Transfer this mixture into the reserved crust. Immediately put in the oven and lower temperature to 325F.
  9. Cook for 55-60 minutes, until cake is set.
  10. Allow cake to cool completely before unmolding.
  11. Garnish with arugula leaves right before serving.

June 3, 2011

Wild Rice Vegetarian Stuffed Bell Peppers (and P90X it is!)

So I finally decided! P90X it is. This means there will be no running for me this summer and no half-marathon in the fall. I’d given myself until June 1st to decide and, since it doesn’t seem like the weather wants to improve much, well, I won’t mind spending the summer indoors as much.

After doing the program for a week, I realised that I lack big time in the strength and muscle mass department, so from that perspective, I get the feeling that I will gain a lot more by following P90X than I ever would by running.

Sure, running isn’t bad either, but it also comes with a lot of downsides, the most important of all being me not liking it. 😉 It’s hard to stick to something that you don’t really enjoy doing. I’m not saying that I will never ever run again, though. I didn’t hate it THAT much. In fact, there is a very good chance that I will be putting my shoes on and go for a little 5k here and there during the course of the summer. And who knows, maybe next year I will want to pick it up again and realise that goal of running a full marathon for my 40th year of existence.

I think what I like the most about P90X is that it is giving me a sense of not being alone. Since I first started this journey, I’ve always trained alone, and made my own programs. Now I finally have someone to think the programs for me, and I sort of have “virtual” training partners. Not that they’re going to mind if I don’t push the play button, heck, they’re not even going to know, but when I do push that button, they all come right to life in my basement. Plus, I don’t need to think about what music to put on, and which program to do… it’s all thought of for me. AND I have to stick with it, push myself, and push myself hard! For it IS a tough program. But I love it! LOVE IT!

The other good thing about it is that it has put me back on track. I had sort of lost sight of my initial goal, and I am still 5kg short of reaching it. 5kg! That’s nothing. I can and will do this! Then I can go back to maintenance mode. I had done that a little prematurely. 😉

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE FOOD ?!?, you may ask…

Does that mean I’m done cooking beautiful meals day after day? NO WAY! That does mean, however, that you will likely be seeing more light and low cal dishes such as the one I made tonight.

Hey, gotta keep those calories in check! 😀

INGREDIENTS
(Serves 2)

  • 2 large bell peppers
  • 1 cup cooked wild rice
  • 150g extra-firm tofu, pressed and cut into ½″ cubes
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 6 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp tamari sauce
  • 60g low fat Mozzarella cheese, grated

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. Press your tofu to remove excess water. To do this, wrap it in paper towels and put some weight on it, such as a heavy skillet; leave it be while you prepare the rest of your ingredients, then cut it into ½″ cubes.
  3. Meanwhile, cut the bell peppers in half; carefully remove the interior while leaving the stem intact. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place in a shallow baking dish.
  4. Coat a skillet with cooking spray and brown the mushrooms over medium heat. Add tofu cubes, oregano, salt, pepper, green onions and celery. Cook for a 2-3, until fragrant.
  5. Add rice, spinach and tamari sauce and stir to combine. Turn off the heat and stir gently until the spinach is wilted.
  6. Stuff bell peppers with rice mixture and sprinkle grated mozzarella on top.
  7. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, until the peppers start to soften up and the cheese turns golden brown.

June 2, 2011

Grilled Vegetables Summer Pasta

Sometimes, it’s what’s left in the fridge that dictates the direction that supper is going to take. This has pretty much been the case all week. Looks like I got a bit carried away when I bought vegetables last week and ended up having to use quite a large amount this week… well, for a single person, that is.

You see, I think I am a bit of a sale maniac. I tend to buy things sometimes just because they are on sale. Can’t miss out on a great bargain! So when I see gorgeous, fresh, plump and colourful bell peppers going for $1.99 a pound, I simply can’t resist buying way more than what I know I will be able to eat in a week. It’s like I HAVE to get at least 2 of each colour. No matter how much I try, I just CAN’T resist. I mean come on! Bell peppers usually go for 2 or 3 times that amount, you know! 😉

And of course, well, same goes for mushrooms, broccoli, eggplant, tomatoes… you get the idea!

Sometimes though, being forced to use certain ingredients is a beautiful thing, as it gives life to delightful creations, as was the case with this pasta dish. I don’t think I would’ve ever come up with this exact combination had it not been for the fact that I had to use those particular veggies. I had also planned on throwing some grilled tofu in there, but ended up forgetting. D’oh!

Mind you, it wasn’t all that necessary, the dish was extremely good and tasty as it was, but I find I am not eating enough protein lately, and adding tofu certainly would’ve helped in that department.

Oh well… now I will HAVE to use that tofu in the next dish that I make, else, I will end up having to chuck it. And, as I’ve said before, I hate wasting food. I sometimes wish they sold tofu in smaller packages… Now I will have to get creative, once again! 😉

 

INGREDIENTS
(serves 2-3)

  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 orange bell pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, oregano and za’atar, to taste
  • 175g – 200g whole wheat rotini
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 20g – 30g goat cheese, crumbled

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Cook pasta per instructions on the package. When cooked, drain and return to pot.
  2. Fire up your BBQ
  3. Slice aubergine and zucchini in thick slices, about 1″.
  4. Cut bell pepper in half, seed it and smash it to make it as flat as possible.
  5. Brush vegetables on both sides with a little bit of olive oil then sprinkle generously with salt, black pepper, oregano and za’atar.
  6. Grill vegetables on BBQ on medium-high heat until they get nice grill marks on them, about 4-5 minutes per side
  7. Cut grilled vegetables in bite size pieces and add to cooked pasta.
  8. Add olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Stir to combine.
  9. Transfer to serving plate and sprinkle with basil and goat cheese.