Tag Archives: Diet

Couscous, Spinach, and Fig Salad

Israeli Couscous, Fig, and Goat Cheese Salad

I’ve been spending too much money on lunch lately and was looking for a filling, delicious salad that I could make instead. I had figs, I had hazelnuts, I had Israeli Couscous. It was a start! What was it missing? Cheese! And I guess some sort of salady something to make it pretty and healthier. And so this salad was born:

Couscous, Spinach, and Fig Salad

It was really freaking delicious. My recipe was enough for four very satisfying lunches. I love it when I can eat a salad for lunch and actually feel full! If you’re wondering why I chose Israeli Couscous (other than the fact that I had it in my pantry) it’s because I thought it would work better in a salad than the regular, smaller couscous. It mixed in well with everything, and didn’t really sink to the bottom. I used a baby spinach based mix the first time I made this, and a regular baby greens mix the next time. I say you should just pick what you like!

Israeli Couscous, Figs, Goat cheese, spinach salad

I went home this past weekend, and thought it would be nice to make it for my family’s Memorial Day picnic. I chose to double the recipe, and it made for a very delightful picnic salad. Also it was super convenient because I was able to make it the day before. People seemed to like it, and I promised I would have the recipe on my website, and I never lie! I’d write a more fun story, but I have lots of homework to pretend to do now.

Here’s the recipe! Enjoy!

Israeli Couscous, Fig, and Goat Cheese Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Salad
 
A perfect summer-time salad with a very simple lemon dressing.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup Israeli Couscous
  • ½ cup chopped hazelnuts, lightly toasted
  • 1 cup dried figs, quartered
  • ½ cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 5 oz baby greens mix (spinach, baby lettuce, etc.)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Cook the couscous in lightly salted water according to the package instructions.
  2. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  3. In a large bowl mix cooked couscous, figs, toasted hazelnuts, and olive oil. Cover and let cool in refrigerator at least 10 minutes.
  4. Once cooled, add goat cheese and salad.
  5. Toss with lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Keep chilled before serving.

If you aren’t sure how to toast hazelnuts, here’s how I do it:

On the stop top, spread the chopped hazelnuts out in an ungreased pan. Keep heat on medium/medium-low, stir hazelnuts frequently until they are lightly toasted. Make sure you watch them so they don’t burn! It should only take a few minutes. Remove them to a separate bowl once finished, so they don’t continue to cook in the hot pan!

Lemony Farro Salad

Lemon Farro Salad

I had a lot of fun learning how to cook with farro and I wish I knew about this when I was a vegetarian because it is really easy to cook, super filling, and it seems to be very versatile. The reason I decided to try it this week is because I received free samples from the Eat Write Retreat Scholarship Challenge to win a ticket to their conference in Philly this year. The contest is being run by Tuscan Fields, who sent out samples of farro to all of the contestants.

My samples were Farro Perlato (organic semi-pearled Emmer) and Farro ai Funghi (organic semi-pearled Farro with ‘Porcini’ mushrooms”.  Both were delicious. And obviously I had to make two different recipes with them so I could play around and see how awesome these little farro fellas are. I wanted to make one hot and one cold dish to see what temperature I prefer farro. I like both! I decided to keep the recipes simple because this is a learning experience for me. Now I need to buy more farro and try some crazy recipes with it! This recipe was my favorite of the two, so I chose it to be my entry to the contest. It was also my cousin’s favorite, so I have to make it for her again because it is the perfect salad to bring to work for lunch!

So what did the farro look like uncooked?

farro

Pretty, right?

So what did it look like cooked?

Lemony Farro Salad

 A couple side-notes before we get started: I used a rotisserie chicken and cut up all the white meat from it for this (I ate the rest of it in the meantime…this was after work and I was hungry!). Obviously you can just cook a couple pieces of chicken breast instead if you want. For cooking the farro, I pretty much just followed the directions on the back of the box. Also, I would go light overall with salt since the feta adds a lot of salty flavor at the end.

On to the recipe!!

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See, thin but still appetizing!

Any Way You Like It Frittata

When I use recipes, unless they are for baked goods, I tend to use them simply as guidelines.  You can always substitute ingredients and play with recipes to make them your own. For example, when recipes call for mushrooms I frequently just use canned mushrooms instead of fresh because I’m cheap and lazy. And it works just fine. When I decided to try my hand at making a frittata recipe I thought it would be more fun to give you a frittata base and then some ideas for the filler.

The salad was made by my mom, she’s a good helper!

What’s a frittata? It’s an egg dish, like a fancy omelet or a crust-less quiche. It begins cooking on the stove on low heat, and finishes in the oven (at least that’s how I do it). You should make it in an oven-safe non-stick pan to make your life less stressful. My frittata is a bit on the thin side, but that’s only because of the size pan I used. I could have used a smaller pan, but this is the non-stick pan of glorious amazing fantastic non-stickiness (I used the 12 inch one because the 10 inch pan is still packed somewhere). It makes me happy.

See, thin but still appetizing!

I have the recipe for the egg base below, so for now I will share with you flavoring fun ideas. I like to work with 3-4cups worth of deliciousness. For the frittata in the pictures I chopped one onion, used one can of drained mushrooms, and added a bit from a bag of frozen  spinach and a bag of frozen mixed vegetables. In total it came out to be about 3.5 cups of uncooked vegetables. This is just what I chose to do because I had these ingredients on hand.

This is all it takes to make awesomeness happen

What can you do? The same thing, or something different. Frittatas are fun because you can play with them. You can add cooked pasta, ham, any vegetable that strikes your fancy, beans, etc. You get the idea. In the summer I’ll probably make it with tomatoes from our garden and fresh herbs. See,  you can do whatever the hell you want! Ok, enough chatter, let’s check this out.

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Any Way You Like It Frittata

 
3-4 cups filling (meat, veggies, cooked pasta, etc)
2 tsp. butter, melted
½ cup milk
4 egg whites (1/2 cup liquid egg whites)
3 eggs
Salt and black pepper, to taste
½ cup shredded cheese, optional (mozzarella, cheddar, etc.)
Cooking spray

 

Preheat oven to 450.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly coat with cooking spray and cook filling ingredients until everything is cooked through and excess moisture has evaporated. Drain if necessary. Remove from pan, and wipe the pan clean. Let mixture cool slightly.

My filling! Still a little frozen in this shot, but it has potential for greatness.

In a large bowl, whisk together butter, milk, eggs, salt and pepper. Add filling, and stir to combine.

Heat the pan over medium-low heat, and lightly coat with cooking spray. Add egg mixture.

I got bored waiting for the sides to set, so here’s a picture.

When the edges begin to set (about 4-6 minutes), gently lift edges of frittata and tip the pan letting uncooked egg touch sides of the pan. Go around the frittata doing this at least once. Continue cooking until almost set, about 5-7 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese, and wrap the handle with foil.

Bake at 450 for 8 minutes, or until edges are golden brown. Let cool at least 5 minutes, and then with a spatula gently remove from pan. Cut into 8 pieces and serve.

I’m very proud of myself for not breaking it at all

 

Dinner time!

 

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Black Bean Brownies

When I first learned of the possibility of using black beans in a brownie recipe I was first confused, then disgusted, then intrigued. I made a batch of them in my Nutrition class at school and thought they were fantastic. And then promptly forgot about them. As I continue with my diet I’m looking for healthier ways to give in to my cravings without ruining all of my hard work. First I made those cheesecake bars (they do freeze well, btw) and now I’m moving on to chocolatey treats.

For this recipe I looked at tons of different black bean brownie recipes all over the internet, and then as I was putting the info into the myfitnesspal.com recipe calculator I tried my best to keep the calorie and fat content as low as possible. Hence the unsweetened apple sauce in place of any potential oils or butter and the low amount of sugar. Did these come out tasting like brownies? Hell yeah they did! And I even managed to sprinkle them with chocolate chips and keep each brownie to only 84 calories (112 calories if you cut them into 12 pieces instead of 16). I’m just awesome like that.

Before I give you the recipe, here’s a warning: the blend of beans, applesauce, and eggs will smell kind of gross, but once you add everything else it’ll be fine. Trust me. As a tip when buying applesauce, get one of those packs of 4oz cup so that you can set aside the rest for baking with later on.

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Black Bean Brownies

Yield: 16 Brownies

Ingredients:

1 15.5oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 eggs
½ cup (4oz) unsweetened apple sauce
¼ cup cocoa powder
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. instant coffee
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp vanilla
¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)
Preheat oven to 350

Lightly grease an 8×8 baking pan.

In a blender puree beans, eggs, and applesauce. Add cocoa powder, sugar, coffee, baking powder, salt, and vanilla and blend until mixed. Pour into baking dish, sprinkle evenly with chocolate chips, and bake for 30 minutes or until set. Let cool before cutting.

Nutrition info per brownie: Calories 84, Fat 2g, Carbs 12g, Protein 3g

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Chicken and Spinach Stir-Fry

People who exercise a lot seem to be obsessed with protein. So here is a high protein, low-calorie, filling, easy, and delicious meal. It was also, conveniently, a good way for me to use up some leftover ingredients  :)

There isn’t much else to say about this recipe other than how awesome it is. Throughout the recipe I used cooking spray when I was changing the ingredients in the pan (you’ll see what I mean) instead of adding a lot of olive oil or vegetable oil because it’s easier to control and you really don’t need all that much oil. And the only time I really used salt and pepper was on the chicken because the soy sauce will add enough sodium for you when it all comes together.

For the brown rice I just used Minute Brown Rice and followed the directions using 2 cups of uncooked rice. You can do whatever you want, which is why I put the amount of cooked brown rice instead of giving you directions on how to cook rice.

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Chicken and Spinach Stir-Fry

Serves: 4
Serving Size: about 1 ¼ cup

Ingredients:

2 2/3  cups cooked brown rice
2 whole eggs, whisked
1 ½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken tenders(or breasts), cut into ½ inch cubes
½ onion, finely chopped
8 oz. mushrooms, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
8 oz spinach, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp. Sesame oil
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. Hoisin sauce
1 tsp. vinegar
Cooking Spray
Salt and Pepper to taste

Lightly coat a large non-stick skillet with cooking spray, and scramble the eggs until cooked through, making sure to break it apart into small pieces. Remove from pan, spray again, and cook chicken until cooked through.

Meanwhile, make the sauce by mixing the sesame oil, soy sauce, hoisin, and vinegar in a small bowl.

Remove chicken from pan when cooked. Add onion, garlic, and mushrooms, and cook until tender. Add the spinach, cooking until wilted, then add the brown rice and stir to thoroughly incorporate it. Add the sauce, stir, and cook for 1 minute. Add in the cooked chicken and egg and heat through.

Nutritional info per serving:  Calories 409, Fat 10g, Carbs 39g, Protein 48g