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Greek Chicken Bowl

Spring is here! Fall is my favorite season, but spring has to be a close runner up. It’s so great to have the sun out more, a little warmer weather, and feel like everything is coming alive again. I have definitely spent more of my waking hours today outdoors than in, and I love it.

Spring also feels like a great time for some lighter, faster meals. Still filling, but with a fresh feeling. I love these Greek chicken bowls for lunch or dinner. Easily adaptable to whatever tastes you have in your house. Also easy to use some store bought ingredients to save yourself some time. Enjoy!

Greek Chicken Bowls (Serves 4 at least)

Greek Chicken Bowl

1 cup quinoa
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons lemon juice
4 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 chicken breasts
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
¼ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp oregano
1 cup nonfat plain greek yogurt
¼ tsp garlic powder
2 tsp lemon juice
½ seedless cucumber, diced small
½ cup hummus
¼ red onion, thinly sliced
2 tomatoes, diced
½ seedless cucumber, diced small
½ cup feta cheese
kalamata olives, optional

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with foil.

2. Combine quinoa, broth, and lemon juice in a pot. Cook quinoa as long as package directs. Fluff with a fork.

3. Place sweet potatoes on one baking sheet and chicken on another. Drizzle sweet potatoes with oil. Combine salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic. Toss half over potatoes, rub half on chicken. Bake for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender and chicken is 165 degrees (rotate pans halfway through cooking time).

4. Combine yogurt through chopped cucumber in a blender, pulse until combined. (tzaitziki sauce)

5. To serve, place 1/2 cup quinoa, 1/2 sliced chicken breast, 1/4 of the sweet potatoes, 2 tablespoons hummus, some red onion, some tomatoes, some cucumber, and 2 tablespoons feta in a bowl. Drizzle with tzaitziki sauce and olives to taste.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 652
Protein: 54 g
Fat: 18 g
Saturated Fat: 5 g
Cholesterol: 120 mg
Carbohydrates: 70 g
Fiber: 10 g
Sodium: 787 mg

Recipe notes: This recipe looks complicated. You can simplify if you have rotisserie chicken meat on hand. Also, buy storebought hummus (any flavor) and tzaitziki sauce if you like. The toppings listed here are yummy, but you could also throw in some spinach or any vegetables you like.

Source: adapted from Everyday Reading

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Greek Rice

You know those packaged rice and pasta side dishes, like Rice-a-Roni or the RiceSides? My family ate a fair amount of those growing up, and I remember loving them.  My favorite was a rice pilaf that my mom would always serve with fish. It was very simple, but still seasoned and flavorful. I’ve always wanted to recreate it on my own, but never found a recipe that I loved.

Enter this Greek rice. It is the perfect cross between that packaged rice pilaf and the rice side they serve at my favorite Greek restaurant. It is the perfect side dish for fish (like tilapia with tomatoes), gyros, or even just some grilled chicken or veggies. Enjoy!

Greek Rice (Serves 4)

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1 teaspoon olive oil (omit if using rice cooker)
½ cup thinly sliced or chopped onions
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup brown rice
2 cups water (you may need more)
1 tablespoon mixed fresh herbs, such as thyme, rosemary, oregano, or dill
half of a lemon

Stovetop directions:
1. Heat olive oil in medium to large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté for 2-3 minutes, until beginning to soften. Stir frequently to prevent burning. Add rice, water, herbs, juice of the lemon. Toss the lemon rind into the pot as well.

2. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 30-40 minutes, until rice is done and water is evaporated. Stir occasionally to make sure rice isn’t burning. You may need to add more water to prevent burning. Add it ¼ cup at a time. Remove lemon rind before serving.

Rice cooker directions:

1. Add all ingredients to rice cooker (omit olive oil). Set to cook. Cook for 30-40 minutes, until rice is done and water is evaporated. Stir occasionally to make sure rice isn’t burning. You may need to add more water to prevent burning. Add it ¼ cup at a time. Remove lemon rind before serving.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 193
Protein: 4 g
Fat: 3 g
Saturated Fat: less than 1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 39 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sodium: 4 mg

Recipe Notes: I have used both sliced and chopped onions. I preferred the chopped since they blended into the rice better. Sliced are more visually apparent, if you have people who want to know there are onions in the rice. My favorite combo was thyme and rosemary. But you can adapt this with any herbs you like or have on hand. If you are using dried herbs – which is fine – decrease it to 1 to 1 ½ teaspoons total herbs.

Source: adapted from online

Low iodine adjustment: No adjustment needed. Enjoy!

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Quick Pastitsio

It’s a snow day at my house. Well, as snowy as Tulsa gets, which is more ice than snow at this point. But snow days make me think of living back in Chicago, where cold and snow are the norm. In Chicago, my husband and I loved to go eat in Greektown. Greek food is full of love and made any snow day better.

This pastitsio is not like what I would have eaten in Greektown. It’s much lighter, has more veggies, and cooks in at least half the time. But it still evokes the same flavors. I hope it brightens your world on this wintry day.

Enjoy!

Quick Pastitsio (Serves 6)

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Cooking spray
8 ounces uncooked, whole wheat penne pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb lean ground turkey (93/7)
1 ½ cups chopped onion
1 bell pepper, chopped
¾ cup finely chopped carrot
5 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon flour
2 cups skim milk
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced no salt added tomatoes, drained
7 ounces fat free cream cheese
¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped

1. Preheat broiler to high. Coat a broiler safe baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Cook pasta to al dente, omitting any fat or salt in cooking. Drain.

3. While pasta cooks, heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add ½ tablespoon of olive oil. Once oil is heated, add ground turkey. Sauté until browned, about 5 minutes, stirring to crumble. Remove from pan. Drain pan if needed. Add remaining oil. Add onion, pepper, and carrot. Sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 5-6 minutes. Add garlic, sauté one minute more, stirring constantly.

4. Return turkey to pan. Sprinkle in salt. Add flour and stir frequently, cooking for 1 minute.

5. Stir in milk, tomato, and cream cheese. Bring to a simmer, stirring until smooth. Cook for 2 minutes, or until heated through. Stir in pasta.

6. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle mozzarella evenly over the top. Broil for 4 minutes, or until top is golden and slightly crunchy looking. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Nutritional Information (Amount per Serving):

Calories: 406
Protein: 32 g
Fat: 12 g
Saturated Fat: 4 g
Cholesterol: 71 mg
Carbohydrates: 45 g
Fiber: 5 g
Sodium: 523 mg

Recipe Notes: I subbed in ground turkey here. A lean ground beef is also tasty and lends to a slightly more colorful dish. I don’t need to drain my pan after the turkey. I like having any juices or browned bits in there to stir in with the rest of the ingredients. It is important to chop the carrot small or even shred it for this dish. There isn’t a ton of cooking time for it to soften. I wouldn’t skip on broiling time either. The crunchy lid of cheese is delicious, and the extra heating time doesn’t hurt the sauce or pasta to come together either.

Source: Adapted from Cooking Light

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Gyros

I once heard someone say, “I could be a vegetarian except for the occasional order of chicken fingers.”  I think I would modify that statement for steak, but possibly beef in general.  Don’t get me wrong, I love vegetarian dishes (as the significant number on this site will attest) as well as chicken, pork, and fish.  And I’m a big advocate for healthy food.  But a steak or a delicious burger just hits the spot sometimes, you know?

When I first moved to Chicago, I lived near Greektown.  My classmates and I occasionally got gyros.  They got them as great food for a hangover.  I got them because it hit all those wonderful notes of a great burger and then some.  But they were grease bombs, and we knew it.  Lots of napkins were required, and not in a good way.

This sandwich gives you that juicy, beefy flavor without a ton of grease or guilt.  I know traditional gyros are made with lamb, but I love this flank steak version.  And I could eat the condiments for this completely on their own.  Enjoy!

Gyros (Makes about 4 sandwiches)

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1 pound flank steak
½ teaspoon salt, divided
½ teaspoon garlic powder, divided
½ teaspoon black pepper, divided
½ peeled cucumber, shredded (about ¾ cup)
1 (5 ounce) container nonfat, plain Greek yogurt
½ cup chopped fresh dill, divided
3 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
⅓ cup thinly sliced red onion
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 whole wheat flatbreads or pitas
2 roma tomatoes, sliced ¼ inch thick

1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

2. Sprinkle steak with ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon garlic powered, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Let meat rest and come to room temperature before grilling. Place on grill and cook for about 10 minutes, turning after 6 minutes. For medium-rare to medium, cook to 145 degrees. Let meat rest for 5 minutes off of grill. Slice diagonally against the grain into thin slices.

3. While meat is cooking, squeeze shredded cucumber between towels to remove excess moisture. Combine cucumber, yogurt, remaining salt, garlic powder, and pepper. Stir in 2 tablespoons of fresh dill and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.

4. Toss onion, oil, remaining lemon juice, and remaining dill together. Let sit for at least 10 minutes.

5. Divide steak evenly between pitas, topping with cucumber sauce, onion, and sliced tomatoes.

Nutritional Information (Amount per Sandwich):

Calories: 313
Protein: 32 g
Fat: 12 g
Saturated Fat: 4 g
Cholesterol: 80 mg
Carbohydrates: 21 g
Fiber: 3 g
Sodium: 499 mg

Recipe Notes: I forgot to buy gas for my outdoor grill and do not own a grill pan. I cooked the steak on a griddle set at about 350-400. Even if you are normally a well-done kind of person with steak, flank steak is not the time for well done. A solid medium is as far as I would take it, otherwise it gets VERY tough and chewy. Don’t be afraid of the fresh dill. It is not my favorite herb, and I usually find it overpowering. In here, it is just delightful. Promise.

Recipe source: only slightly adapted from Cooking Light

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Vegetable Moussaka

My husband and I went on our first date to a Greek restaurant.  We went back to that same restaurant several times, including for one of our last meals in Chicago.  They had these sampler plates that had several traditional Greek items that I usually got.  But for our last visit, I just got a big plate of moussaka.  I loved every cheesy, eggplanty bite.

I like this vegetarian version of moussaka since it gives you all the goodness of the traditional dish, without the expense or saturated fat of the beef (or lamb if you are being very traditional).  My husband is not a big fan of mushrooms, so I usually have to avoid meatless casseroles like this.  But I followed a tip online that you can sub cauliflower for mushrooms.  I did that for about half with great results.

Enjoy!

Vegetable Moussaka (serves 6)

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2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cups finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup water
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (28-ounce) can unsalted diced tomatoes, undrained
2 large eggplants, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices (about 2 1/2 pounds)
Cooking spray
12 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
1/2 medium head of cauliflower, chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 (5 ounce) containers plain, fat-free Greek yogurt
1/3 cup feta cheese crumbles
2 large eggs
1 large egg white
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, divided

1. Heat saucepan with 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add onion, and cook until tender (about 6 minutes). Add garlic, and cook 1 minute more, or until garlic begins to be fragrant. Add 1 cup water, quinoa, tomato paste, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until quinoa is tender. Remove from heat.

2. Preheat broiler to high.

3. Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray. Place eggplant slices on sheet and lightly coat both sides with cooking spray. (You may need to work in batches.) Broil 5 inches from heat source for 5 minutes per side or until lightly browned. Set aside.

4. Reduce oven temperature to 350.

5. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with remaining olive oil. Add mushrooms and cauliflower. Cook 8 minutes, or until cauliflower is slightly tender. Add water and soy sauce; simmer 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

6. Combine yogurt, feta, eggs, egg white, and 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese in a bowl, stirring until smooth.

7. Coat a 13×9 inch glass or ceramic baking dish with cooking spray. Spread half of the tomato sauce on the bottom. Arrange half of the eggplant over the sauce. Spread all of mushroom mixture over eggplant and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers of tomato sauce and eggplant. Spread yogurt/cheese mixture over the top. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until top is lightly browned.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 321
Protein: 21 g
Fat: 11 g
Saturated Fat: 4 g
Cholesterol: 77 mg
Carbohydrate: 39 g
Fiber: 11 g
Sodium: 465 mg

Recipe Notes:  I’m guessing you could probably sub rice or another grain for the quinoa, but you would need to adjust the cooking time and water added accordingly.  If you like mushrooms, you could skip the cauliflower and do 24 ounces of mushrooms instead. But I kind of liked the mix of cauliflower and mushrooms.  You do need to cut the cauliflower down to fairly small pieces.  The original recipe added wine to the mushrooms.  I don’t have wine in my house, so I just used water.  You could use wine or some low sodium broth if you’d like.  I had to skimp on the eggplant in mine, since part of one was going bad – so yours will look more “eggplanty” than mine.  If you have a lasagna pan (or a pan just slightly larger than 13×9), I would use that.  I used mine, and it fit fine.  It might be kind of tight squeezing it into a regular 13×9 pan.

Source: adapted from Cooking Light

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