Tag Archives: vegetarian

Dal Makhani

I mentioned in my Chicken Shawarma post that I hesitate to use traditional names for ethnic dishes. This dish definitely falls into that category. I am not from India. I have honestly never consumed this dish at any Indian restaurants. I have no idea what the “real” dal makhani is like, other than recipes I have found online.

With that disclaimer, this is one of my new favorite Indian dishes to make at home. This comes together fairly quickly and packs a huge flavor punch. And it is the best way I have ever had lentils. Enjoy!

Dal Makhani (Serves 6-8)

Dal Makhani

½ tablespoon canola oil
½ large onion, diced
¾ cup diced carrot
1 small bell pepper, diced
½ jalapeno, diced (seeds and membranes removed per preference)
1 clove garlic
1 inch of ginger, peeled and grated or minced small
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¾ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 cardamom pods, smashed
2 cups pureed tomatoes (3-4 tomatoes pureed in food processor)
1 cup red lentils
1 ½ cups cooked kidney beans (about 2 cans, rinsed and drained)
1 cup water
¼ cup heavy cream
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Saute onion, carrot, bell pepper, and jalapeño until onions are softened and becoming golden. Add garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, curry, garam masala, and cardamom. Saute until fragrant.

2. Stir in tomatoes, lentils, beans, and ½ cup water. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low (enough to keep it simmering). Cover and cook for about 30 minutes, until lentils are tender. Stir frequently and add more water as needed to keep enough liquid to cook lentils. Just before serving, stir in heavy cream.

3. Serve warm over rice and garnish with cilantro.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 235
Protein: 12 g
Fat: 6 g
Saturated Fat: 3 g
Cholesterol: 14 mg
Carbohydrates: 35 g
Fiber: 8 g
Sodium: 104 mg

Recipe Notes: My curry powder is quite strong and hot, so I don’t use a lot. Feel free to adjust the levels of curry powder and garam masala to your preference. I have also used black beans in this. I preferred the flavor of kidney beans, but it worked well enough. I only found red lentils at my grocery store. You can use any variety that you like. However, look at the label to see how long they take to cook. If they take longer than 30 minutes, you may want to partook them a bit first, or you will need more pureed tomatoes and water. Your choice.

Source: adapted from http://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/dal-makhani-restaurant-style-recipe/ and steamykitchen.com

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Black Bean Tacos

A couple years ago, our family was at a bit of a crossroads. My husband was having a hard time finding a permanent job. We were beginning to feel the stress of what to do with our lives when a job offer came that totally reset the trajectory of his career. To celebrate, we went out to eat at a fun Mexican restaurant in Chicago. As I was pregnant, I was being extra careful to try and eat “healthy”. So I ordered the vegetarian burrito. I love that restaurant, but that burrito was disgusting.

I often find that the case with Mexican vegetarian dishes when I go out to eat. I’ve actually become very wary of them. They just don’t taste right to me. My guess is because they throw in strong flavored veggies that just don’t blend in well (like tons of broccoli in the burrito mentioned above). If you have found some places with good options, let me know. I’d love to try them.

In response, I have made it my mission to make awesome vegetarian versions of Mexican dishes at home. These black bean tacos were pretty great. I didn’t miss the meat, although I’m sure my husband did. I tried to focus on vegetables that made sense or at least had very mild flavors. Enjoy!

Black Bean Tacos (Serves about 4)

Black Bean Tacos

½ tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 large bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeño, diced small (seeds and membranes removed per preference)
1 zucchini, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
½ tablespoon cumin
½ tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 large tomatoes, diced
2 cans low sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup frozen corn
4 whole wheat tortillas
½ cup shredded cheese
sour cream (optional)
guacamole (optional)

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and jalapeño. Saute for 5-7 minutes, until beginning to soften. Add zucchini; cook for 3 minutes more.

2. Add garlic, cumin, chili powder, oregano, salt, and pepper. Saute 1 minute, or until beginning to be fragrant, stirring frequently.

3. Add tomatoes, beans, and corn. Reduce heat to medium. Cook for 5 or so minutes, until everything is heated through and combined well.

4. Serve in tortillas with cheese, sour cream, guacamole, or your favorite taco toppings.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 427
Protein: 21 g
Fat: 12 g
Saturated Fat: 5 g
Cholesterol: 14 mg
Carbohydrates: 63 g
Fiber: 20 g
Sodium: 732 mg

Recipe Notes: I recently have been subbing pinto beans in many recipes for black beans with great success. Sometimes, I almost like the pinto version better. While I haven’t tried it with these yet, feel free to mix up the beans. Maybe a mix of black and pinto. Or garbanzo beans would also be tasty here.

Source: original recipe

Low iodine adjustment: Use no salt added beans or cook your own.  Skip the cheese.  Make homemade tortillas with noniodized salt. Use noniodized salt in seasoning the tacos.

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4 Hummus Variations

My toddler is in the “dip” phase of eating. Everything is better if she can dip it in something. Red dip (ketchup) and white dip (ranch dressing) are her main go-to’s, but she is willing to branch out. Today, she asked me for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch with red dip. Gross.

While her obsession can be frustrating, I have to admit that I love dip myself. Chips and dip, veggies and dip, soup with a sandwich to dip, rolls to dip in gravy…really I could go on. The biggest problem with dip is the addition of empty calories. Hummus falls into the traditional dip pitfalls by being somewhat calorically dense, but does at least provide some protein and fiber along the way. I have found that if I pack it full of flavor, I don’t use as much dip either, which reduces the calories.  Here are four different variations on hummus we have been enjoying lately (with only pictures of three because I don’t always think things through).

Enjoy!

Basic Hummus (Makes about 2 cups)

Basic Hummus

1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
¼ cup tahini
¼ cucumber
1 clove garlic
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup water (or more)

1. Combine ingredients in a food processor. Blend, adding water to achieve desired consistency. Serve or chill until ready to use.

Nutritional Information (Amount per 2 tablespoons):

Calories: 26
Protein: 2 g
Fat: 2 g
Saturated Fat: less than 1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 5 g
Fiber: 1 g
Sodium: 36 mg

Variation 1: Roasted Garlic and Caramelized Onion (where I forgot to take a picture.

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Take a whole head of garlic. Slice off the bottom to expose the cloves inside. Drizzle ½ teaspoon olive oil on it. Place cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake in oven for 20-30 minutes, until soft. Let cool.

3. Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Add one thinly sliced onion. Saute until beginning to brown, about 3-5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook until deep golden, about 15 minutes. Let cool.

4. Prepare hummus as above, omitting original garlic. Substitute up to half of the cloves from the roasted head of garlic. Add in the onions. Blend to desired consistency.

Variation 2: Roasted Red Pepper

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

1. Preheat a grill or broiler to high. Lightly coat a red bell pepper with olive oil. Grill or broil, turning every few minutes as each side is charred. Once done, place in a paper bag for 5-10 minutes. Remove from bag. Peel off skin. Remove stem and seeds. Chop red pepper.

2. Prepare hummus as above, adding in chopped red pepper.

Variation 3: Sun-Dried Tomato

Sun Dried Tomato Hummus

1. Prepare hummus as above, adding ⅓ – ½ cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes (preferably dried, not packed in oil).

Recipe Notes: Don’t be afraid to add water to get the consistency you want. I also found that this solidifies a bit when refrigerated, so maybe err on the thin side if you are not serving immediately.  You could also try these variations with my baba ganoush recipe with yummy results.

Source: Adapted from various sources online

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Rice Stuffed Tomatoes

One of my husband’s sisters is currently serving a mission for our church in Italy. She’s been gone for almost a year and half and comes home soon. Periodically, while she has been gone, we have tried to make at home or to eat at restaurants more authentic Italian dishes. We’ve tried some pizzas that are pretty far from anything you’ll find at Pizza Hut. We had arancini, which is basically deep fried risotto balls. And recently, we tried this dish. I only include it in the authentic category since the food blogger I adapted this from ate it originally in Rome.

I was very skeptical about this dish going into it. I wasn’t sure about the whole tomatoes. The potatoes seemed like carb overkill since we already had rice. And there just wasn’t enough sauce to seem like this would be good. But it blew my expectations out of the water. It was so incredibly delicious. And despite needing to be baked in the oven, it tasted like summer. I can only imagine how good this will be in a few weeks when tomatoes are really in season. Enjoy!

Rice Stuffed Tomatoes (Serves 4)

Rice Stuffed Tomatoes

8 medium-to-large tomatoes
¾ teaspoon salt, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
½ medium onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (to taste)
½ cup arborio rice
6 medium yukon gold potatoes
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning or 2 tablespoons fresh basil or parsley, chopped
½ cup whole wheat breadcrumbs

1. Preheat oven to 350. Lightly coat a baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Cut the tops off the tomatoes. Scoop out the seeds and flesh over a non-aluminum bowl, making sure you get the juices. Do not cut through the bottom of the tomato. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon of salt over the inside of the tomatoes. Place them upside down on a plate to drain for 15 or so minutes. Add any drained juices to rest of tomato juice/flesh.

3. Pulse scooped out tomato juice/flesh in a blender until coarsely pureed.

4. Heat a large skillet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Saute onion for 2 minutes, or until it begins to soften. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, cooking one minute more. Add rice. Cook together for 2-3 minutes, until rice begins to toast. Add tomato puree. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover with a lid and let simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Rice should not be fully cooked. Stir in herbs.

5. Clean potatoes. Cube into small-medium pieces. Toss with remaining tablespoon of oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper.

6. Spoon rice mixture into tomatoes, but don’t fill it all the way up. Place tomatoes in the baking pan. Arrange potatoes around tomatoes in pan to help keep tomatoes upright. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the tops of the tomatoes.

7. Bake 30-45 minutes, or until tomatoes are soft and potates are tender.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 475
Protein: 11 g
Fat: 8 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 91 g
Fiber: 12 g
Sodium: 599 mg

Recipe Notes: I would stay away from roma tomatoes. Choose more of a slicing type tomato, like beef steak or one the vine. They need to have a flat bottom so they at least kind of say up on their own. If you have a medium or short grain brown rice, that would also work here. You would just need to par-cook it first, as in this recipe. I would cut the potatoes a little smaller than shown in my picture. These took a very long time to cook.

Recipe Source: slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Low iodine adjustment: Use non-iodized salt and homemade bread crumbs (from homemade bread).

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Roasted Red Pepper Chowder

Summer or at least summer weather has finally arrived at my house.  Warmer days means I want lighter meals that take less time to prepare.  Soup doesn’t seem very summery to most people, but my family has actually found quite a few soups that are good in the summer.  I do shy away from some options, like I don’t make much minestrone or chili during the summer.  But light, quick-cooking soups are a great summer dinner.  Zucchini soup is a definite go to, for sure.

The word “chowder” in the title of this recipe seems odd to me.  To me chowder is creamy, thick, and laden with potatoes.  None of those describe this soup.  It is a “full” soup though, so you aren’t just swimming in broth like a chicken noodles soup.  I loved how quickly all the flavors in this came together to create something satisfying.  And the corn and peppers make it taste like summer.  Enjoy!

Roasted Red Pepper Chowder (Serves 2-3)

Roasted Red Pepper Chowder

2 red peppers
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon chipotle chile powder (more per your heat preference)
2 cups low sodium broth (chicken or vegetable)
1 (15 ounce) can reduced sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen corn
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 avocado
¼ cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup nonfat sour cream

1. Coat red peppers with cooking spray. Place on a grill over medium to medium high heat. Cook, rotating, until each side is lightly charred. Remove from heat and place in a paper bag. Let stand for at least 10 minutes. Remove as much of peel as possible. Discard stem and seeds.

2. Heat olive oil in a medium to large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Saute onion until beginning to become tender, about 3-5 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, and chile powder. Cook 1 minute more.

3. Add roasted pepper and chicken broth. In a blender or with an immersion blender, blend until smooth (or mostly smooth, in my case). Return to pan and to heat.

4. Add beans, corn, and lime juice. Simmer for 10 minutes over medium heat. Serve with sliced avocado, cilantro, and a dollop of sour cream.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 517
Protein: 19 g
Fat: 24 g
Saturated Fat: 3 g
Cholesterol: 3 mg
Carbohydrates: 65
Fiber: 21 g
Sodium: 803 mg

Recipe Notes: I highly recommend “roasting” several peppers at a time. I did four, since I needed that many for recipes that week. It doesn’t take any longer to do more, and then you have them. You can go all the way to peel them and then store them. Or I just put the bags into the fridge to cool and did all the peeling and cleaning as I needed them. I was silly and put my soup in a food processor, which did not work very well at chopping all of this up. It still tasted good and the consistency did not bother me. The soup pictured also probably has more beans than 1 can of beans. I cook beans in large batches in a crockpot and then freeze them for later in plastic bags. I probably get about 1 ½ cups, whereas I think a can of beans is around 1 cup of beans. Honestly, I don’t know that it is any cheaper this way. I just like doing it for some reason. I know the fat looks REALLY high in this dish. It is because of the avocado. Monounsaturated fats are good for you – read here.

Source: adapted from Cooking Light

Low iodine adjustment: Use an iodine or salt free broth. Use homemade beans or unsalted beans. Omit the sour cream on top. You may want to add ½ teaspoon non iodized salt in step 4 for seasoning.

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Crockpot Vegetable Pot Pie

Pot pie is not the recipe you expect to appear on a food blog right before Memorial Day. It should be burgers, fries, summery salads, fruity desserts, etc. But I’m sitting in my slippers and wearing a sweatshirt in my chilly house, since I refuse to turn on the heater this late in May. From my friends’ posts on Facebook, many others have a weekend ahead lacking in sunshine and summer.

While I fully intend to do my cookout on Monday (rain or shine), until then, I’m basking in some warm, hearty comfort food. This pot pie is on my list. I made this for company recently, and there were no leftovers with smiles all around on how delicious it was. Honestly, I think I even liked this better than most chicken pot pies I’ve had. So many more flavors with all the different vegetables. Enjoy!

Crockpot Vegetable Pot Pie (Serves 6-8)

Crockpot Vegetable Pot Pie

Filling:
1 ½ tablespoons + 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 cups diced baking potato
1 ½ cup diced carrot
1 ½ cup diced parsnip
1 cup chopped celery
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 (8-ounce) packages white mushrooms, sliced
1 large zucchini, sliced in half moons
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups skim milk
¾ cup low sodium broth (chicken or vegetable)
2 cups frozen green peas
1 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme

Biscuit topping:
1 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 ½ tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup low-fat buttermilk

Preparation

1. Spray a crockpot with cooking spray.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet with 1 teaspoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add potato, carrot, parsnips, and celery. Sauté 5 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker. Add 1 teaspoon of oil to pan and return to heat. When oil is heated, add onion, mushrooms, and zucchini. Saute until beginning to soften, about 3-5 minutes. Add garlic, and cook 1 minute more. Add to crockpot. Add salt and pepper to vegetable mixture, stirring to combine.

3. Heat remaining 1 ½ tablespoons oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 ½ tablespoons flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly with a whisk. Gradually whisk in milk and broth. Cook 3-5 minutes or until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly. Pour sauce into slow cooker. Add peas and thyme. Stir contents of crockpot to combine.

4. Cover crockpot and cook on low for 3 ½ hours.

5. When vegetable mixture is almost done, make biscuit topping, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and black pepper in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in cheese. Add buttermilk, stirring just until moist.

6. Increase heat to high. Drop biscuits onto filling in 8 equal mounds. Cover and cook on HIGH for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until biscuits are done. Uncover and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 365
Protein: 13 g
Fat: 13 g
Saturated Fat: 6 g
Cholesterol: 25 mg
Carbohydrates: 50 g
Fiber: 7 g
Sodium: 555 mg

Recipe Notes: I normally don’t like recipes that require any cooking before you put things in the crockpot. But it is nice to get a little bit of color on the veggies first. I’m sure it would still turn out if you skipped that step. Feel free to adjust the vegetable amounts or types. I was probably a little under on the mushrooms – a few were bad in my packages and my husband doesn’t love them anyway – and a little over on the potatoes, carrots, and parsnips. I never have buttermilk; I just make it with skim milk and lemon juice.

Source: slightly adapted from Cooking Light

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Crockpot Stuffed Peppers

Right after I got married, I got my first real job. I actually needed to cook dinner consistently for the first time AND didn’t have a lot of time to cook. I found myself turning to my slow cooker a lot. But we could only eat so many meals doused in cream of chicken or mushroom soup, so I began to look around for other ideas.

The great thing about these peppers is that they are very adaptable. Change up the ingredients as much as you’d like – corn, different beans, olives, different peppers, etc. The only downside I have found is the timing. If you leave these to cook for a long time, they kind of fall apart. They still taste great, but the presentation leaves something to be desired. I do think these taste better than peppers in the oven though, since they have more of a sauce.

Enjoy!

Crockpot Stuffed Peppers (Serves 6)

crockpot stuffed peppers

6 bell peppers (any mix of colors)
½ yellow onion, diced
1 can of low sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen corn
1 jalapeño, seeds and membranes removed per preference, diced
½ cup shredded colby jack cheese
1 cup brown rice
1 packet taco seasoning
1 can no salt added diced tomatoes, undrained
¾ cup salsa

1. Cut tops off peppers and remove seeds, stems, and cores. Dice pepper tops and place in a medium bowl.

2. To pepper tops, add onion, beans, corn, jalapeño, cheese, rice, taco seasoning, and half the can of tomatoes. Stuff peppers with mixture. Place peppers in crockpot. If you have an filling left over, pour it over the peppers in the crockpot.

3. Combine remaining tomatoes and salsa. Pour over stuffed peppers. Put lid on crockpot. Cook for 4-6 hours on low.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 263
Protein: 10 g
Fat: 5 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 9 mg
Carbohydrates: 47 g
Fiber: 9 g
Sodium: 436 mg

Recipe Notes: You can use any color of bell peppers. I tend to prefer the flavor of red or yellow peppers, but green are usually cheaper. The recipe originally had ground beef instead of beans. It was tasty that way, but I like the vegetarian version. You could also split the cheese in half, mixing half in the stuffing and sprinkling half on top. I have found the cheese on top often gets lost when you are serving, so I don’t bother. Also, I ALWAYS have extra stuffing. If you could fit an extra pepper or so in your crockpot, you might want to use them.

Source: Adapted from Semi-Homemade Cooking 2

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Eggplant and Orzo Baked Pasta

The next few months feature a plethora of fresh fruits and vegetables that are ripe and delicious and affordable like no other time of the year. I love it. There is nothing like asparagus in the spring when it is tender and delicious or tomatoes in the summer when they are juicy and meaty at the same time. However, I’m always in a small quandary with all these vegetables. I love baked pasta and roasted vegetables but hate turning my oven on at all for the next few months.

However, this pasta is completely worth it. And while hearty and filling like all baked pasta should be, it still tastes light, fresh, and springy, which not all baked pasta can achieve. The other great thing about this recipe is that you can mix up the veggies a bit based on what you have or what is in season. Zucchini or summer squashes would mix in deliciously. Asparagus was a nice addition in this batch. This freezes well, if you want to save it for cooler months when you want a reminder of what summer tasted like.

Enjoy!

Eggplant and Orzo Baked Pasta (Serves 4-6)

Eggplant and Orzo Baked Pasta

1 large eggplant, cut into ¾-inch dice
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup diced carrot
½ cup diced celery stalk
1 cup chopped asparagus
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces orzo
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 ½ cups low sodium vegetable stock
1 to 3 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest or more to taste, up to the zest of a whole lemon
¼ teaspoon black pepper
4 ounces mozzarella, diced
¼ cup grated parmesan
3-4 large tomatoes, diced

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Sprinkle eggplant with salt. Let it drain in a colander for 30 minutes. OR Place eggplant on several layers of coffee filters or paper towels. Microwave for 10 minutes, or until beginning to look slightly shriveled.

3. Heat a large frying pan with the 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute eggplant for 8 minutes, stirring pieces occasionally. Transfer them to paper towels to drain.

4. Heat remaining oil in pan. Add carrots, celery, and asparagus. Cook for 3 minutes, then add onion and garlic. Cook 5 more minutes on medium to medium-high heat. to remaining oil and cook for 3 minutes before adding onion and garlic. Cook together for 5 more minutes on medium heat. Stir in the orzo and tomato paste ,and cook for two minutes more. Remove from heat and add eggplant, stock, oregano, lemon zest, pepper, mozzarella, and tomatoes. Mix well.

5. Transfer mixture to an 8×11 or 2 quarts ovenproof baking dish. Sprinkle with parmesan. Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake 20 minutes more. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 319
Protein: 15 g
Fat: 10 g
Saturated Fat: 3 g
Cholesterol: 16 mg
Carbohydrates: 44 g
Fiber: 6 g
Sodium: 431 mg

Recipe Notes: As I mentioned above, mix up the veggies however you like it. And don’t be too scared of adding celery. You don’t taste it in the end. I really like the tomato flavor and the lemon flavor, so I add as much of those as I can. And DON’T precook your orzo. It is a small pasta, so it will cook just fine in the oven. If you can find whole wheat orzo, go for it. My smaller grocery store doesn’t carry it. If you are freezing, freeze it before baking. Then bake in at 350 until cooked through, probably 1 – 1 ½ hours.

Source: slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

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Curry Chickpea Nachos with Mango Salsa and Raita

Lunch is a really difficult meal for me. I don’t want to expend much effort, but I want something delicious. Sometimes, a pb&j is that sweet spot. I find on the weekends, however, a simple lunch just won’t cut it. Weekends feel like they should have special, slightly more indulgent meals to me.

These nachos seem like a bit of work, but they come together fairly quickly. And the reward is huge. Most things taste better on a chip with dip, don’t they? Don’t skip the salsa or the “raita” like sauce. Both make this dish even more special.

Enjoy!

Curry Chickpea Nachos with Mango Salsa and “Raita” (Serves 6)

Curry Chickpea Nachos

1 cucumber, grated (peel half of the peel if regular cucumber, can leave peel on if English cucumber)
1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
5 tablespoons lime juice, divided
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
2 mangoes, peeled, pitted, and diced
2 tomatoes, diced, divided
1 red bell pepper, diced, divided
1 red onion, diced, divided
½ cup lightly packed coarsely chopped cilantro, divided
1 avocado, diced (optional)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 ½ teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
½ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon sriracha or hot sauce
½ large bag baked tortilla chips (basically, enough to make a good layer on a baking sheet)
6 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

1. For the raita, squeeze out and discard the excess liquid from the cucumber. In a bowl, combine the cucumber, yogurt, 2 tablespoons lime juice, and mint. Cover and refrigerate until needed. Can be done up to 24 hours in advance.

2. For the mango salsa, combine mango, ½ the bell pepper, 1 diced tomato, ¼ cup chopped onion, ¼ cup cilantro, 2 tablespoons lime juice, and avocado if using. Cover and refrigerate until needed. Can be done up to 24 hours in advance.

3. Preheat oven to 375.

4. Heat a olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute remaining onion until translucent. Add beans, remaining pepper, remaining tomato, curry powder, garam masala, and cumin. Cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes, until fragrant. Remove from heat. Stir in sriracha, remaining lime juice, and black pepper.

5. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with foil. Arrange tortilla chips in a single layer on baking sheet. Top with mozzarella, followed by curried beans and feta cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted and chips are hot and crisp, about 12-14 minutes. Top with remaining cilantro. Serve with mango salsa and raita.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories:  403
Protein:  21 g
Fat:  15 g
Saturated Fat:  6 g
Cholesterol:  33 mg
Carbohydrates:  51 g
Fiber:  9 g
Sodium:  527 mg

Recipe Notes: I kind of chop all the ingredients at once, and even have made the dips as the beans cook. It works just fine that way, you are just very busy right then. The original recipe called for ground turkey or lamb, which I’ve subbed beans for, but I like going the vegetarian route. It also says to drain all the liquid from the salsa and pour it over the top. I kind of like the liquid in the salsa since I prefer to dip it. Draining the liquid means draining flavor to me, but you can try that if you prefer a “dry” salsa.

Source:  adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

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Spaghetti Squash Primavera

A few weeks ago, I was visiting several family members who are following a low-carb diet to lose weight.  Some have lost 50+ pounds with the diet, so it is working for them.  They were nice and made carbs with the meals for me to eat.  And I got to feel like the pig when we went out and everyone else ordered a salad, except me.  I ordered the burger.  With fries.  Just rub those carbs in their faces, why don’t I?

One of them mentioned how she had rediscovered spaghetti squash while on this diet, which inspired me to get in the kitchen.  This has been one of my favorite meals in a long time.  The veggie-packed sauce is super creamy and delicious, but doesn’t have a ton of fat in it.  If you aren’t wanting to low-carb, this is also yummy over pasta, potatoes, bread, rice…pretty much any carb.  Enjoy!

Spaghetti Squash Primavera (Serves 4)

IMG_6456label

½ tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 yellow squash, sliced
1 zucchini, sliced
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup green beans, chopped into bite size pieces
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 cups spinach
¾ cup low fat or fat free cottage cheese
2 ounces fat free cream cheese
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 spaghetti squash (see here for cooking instructions)
½ cup grated parmesan cheese

1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion; sauté for 3-5 minutes, until it begins to soften. Add garlic, cook for 1 minute more. Add squash, zucchini, carrots, and green beans. Cook for 5-7 minutes, until veggies are beginning to soften. Add tomatoes; cook for 3 minutes more. Add spinach.

2. While veggies are cooking, combine cottage cheese, cream cheese, and Italian seasoning in a food processor. Blend until smooth and creamy.

3. Add cottage cheese mixture to pan once spinach has wilted. Stir to combine well. Cook until the cheese is melted and a creamy sauce forms.

4. Scrape spaghetti squash onto plates or into bowls. Scoop veggies and sauce over each portion. Top each portion with 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 203
Protein: 15 g
Fat: 7 g
Saturated Fat: 3 g
Cholesterol: 14 mg
Carbohydrates: 24 g
Fiber: 5 g
Sodium: 553 mg

Recipe Notes: You could really mix up the veggies with whatever you like and have available. Chopped up asparagus would also be yummy. I wouldn’t skip on the tomatoes, though. The juice from the tomatoes helps make the sauce.

Source: adapted from online

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