While browsing the hummus selection at Whole Foods a few weeks ago, I stumbled across a line of feta dips produced by Uniquely Greek. I love anything feta based and the tub was in my cart about a second later when I realized that one of the flavors offered was Creamy Buffalo.
Best decision ever.
This dip was amazing. It was creamy and salty with a spicy note from the addition of jalapenos. I drizzled it over lettuce, cherry tomatoes and chopped cucumber for a quick and easy greek salad (and other salads as well).
Then my dip ran out and I wanted to cry. I made a special trip to Whole Foods just to replace my beloved dip. I decided to try the Red Pepper flavor and I like it just as much. It didn’t have the spice of the creamy buffalo. Instead there was a sweet mellow flavor imparted by the roasted red peppers.
When I finished all the dip in about 3 days, instead of rushing to the store in a panic, I realized that I probably should try to save a little money and make my own at home.
After searching the web I found a similiar looking recipe on The Lean Green Bean.
Roasted Red Pepper Feta Dip (adapted from the Lean Green Bean)
1 red bell pepper
1 heaping tbsp of chopped garlic
1/2-3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 can of cannellini beans (rinsed and drained)
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup crumbled feta
Chop the bell pepper into large pieces and broil until the edges are blackened.
Place bell pepper in a food processor and add all other ingredients (except feta).
Process to desired consistency.
Add the crumbled feta and pulse several times until mixed well.
Note: This dip starts out with a thin texture but once it chills in the fridge it takes on the texture of a thick hummus.
It was delicious. Not exactly like the dip I bought from Whole Foods because it is a lot healthier (the cream cheese is replaced with greek yogurt and white beans). That's fine with me though because it means I don't have to feel as guilty when I polish off the container in 3 days 😉
I follow too many healthy living/cooking/fitness blogs to count and one thing I have noticed is a lot of them blog about what workouts they are doing or what they are eating for breakfast/lunch/dinner at the moment etc…
I have also noticed a trend of “What I Ate Wednesdays(informally known as WIAW)” a day on which the blogger will post a picture of every meal they ate that day. I was thinking about it and I thought it would be fun to post something a little different and show you all a “typical Tuesday” in my life (note: I say “typical” because my meals are always changing based on what foods I have on hand or am loving at the moment). So. . .
To begin my day I always have the world’ largest cup of coffee with soy milk and a handful of Kashi’s Go Lean Honey Almond Flax cereal (not pictured). I never eat this cereal for breakfast because it is way to crunchy! My family always says it sounds like I am eating bones :(. Often I will sit and read for an hour or so before going for a jog or to the gym. When I return home I am always hungry for breakfast (possibly my favorite meal of the day).
I enjoyed this breakfast but I missed my oatmeal. It keeps me full so much longer! My stomach started growling around 1:00 pm so I threw together my new favorite lunch salad. It is sort of a rift on a greek salad with cherry tomatoes, spinach, cucumber, a boca burger for protein and greek yogurt, hummus and pita on the side for dipping.
Yum! I like this lunch so much that I have eaten it for three days straight.
I spent the afternoon working on internship stuff, listing my textbooks on Amazon and going for a walk with my sister.
Normally, around 6 pm I will make dinner for the fam. Accept I was all alone tonight (a very rare occasion). So I made another salad (I think they are the perfect meal for one because you can throw a bunch of leftovers on lettuce and call it a meal).
In the mix was tilapia, leftover sweet potato, red onions, romaine, red bell pepper and this awesome buffalo feta greek spread I picked up at Whole Foods. I love it so much that I have been putting it on everything! It makes the best salad dressing ever.
I watched Dancing with the Stars for a while before wanting something crunchy. My newest snack obsession is popcorn. I put a few tablespoons in a paper bag and microwave for 3 minutes. Then I will spray it with EVOO cooking spray and top with parmesan cheese mixed with spices or PB2 (powdered peanut butter). Tonight it was PB2. Popcorn+Little Penguin Cabernet=my favorite evening snack
Like I said there is no “typical” day of meals at my house. Sometimes I eat more or less depending on how hungry/bored/active I am that day. Eating is highly personal and it really depends on what is right for each person.
I remember the first time I had tortilla soup. It was in an exhibition hall at the Texas State Fair. My family and I stopped to “watch” a vita mix demonstration (I say “watch” because really we were just waiting for the demonstration to be done so we could get a free sample). The man began by making fresh peanut butter with nothing put peanuts and salt. He then moved on to a simple tortilla soup. I seem to remember him throwing a plethora of veggies into the blender as well as some stock and taco seasoning before blending it all at such a high speed and for so long that it heated the soup up. Then he poured the resulting orange mixture into tiny paper cups and doled them out to the expectant crowd.
Reminiscing aside. . . I found myself craving that particular tortilla soup the other day. However, I don’t have a vita mix so I knew I wouldn’t be able to incorporate whole tomatoes and wedges of cabbage like the demonstrator at the fair. After searching for a while I stumbled upon a super simple tortilla soup recipe.
I chose this recipe because I like the idea of adding a smoky flavor to the soup by first charring the onions and jalapeno. I also thought the idea of thickening the soup with crumbled corn tortillas was unique and sounded delicious.
I was right. This soup is amazing. It tastes very similar to what I remember sampling at the Texas State Fair. It was also super simple to make (and there is no vita mix involved). I served our soup with quesadilla wedges that I layered with a little shredded cheddar cheese and some black beans. I highly recommend serving this soup with something to dip into it because it tastes a little like gourmet taco sauce (in a good way). A healthy way to kick a Taco Bell craving!
Creamy Tortilla Soup(Serves 2-3 large bowls or 4 small bowls)
•1 small white or yellow onion, cut into 6 wedges
•3 cloves of garlic (still in the paper)
•salt & pepper
•1 can (14-oz.) fire roasted diced tomatoes
(or about 4-5 fresh roma tomatoes, roast them with the onions & peel skins)
•1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
•1/4 teaspoon dried cumin
•1/2 teaspoon ancho or chipotle chili powder
•1/2 teaspoon agave syrup (or a pinch of sugar)
•1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
•3 cups veggie or chicken broth
•3-4 corn tortillas*, chopped (plus one extra for crispy topping)
•juice of 1 lime
serve with your choice of:
•crispy tortilla strips (sliced from 1 tortilla, toss in olive oil & salt, bake 10 or so minutes)
•crumbled queso fresco (or feta)
•lime wedges, on the side
•more tortillas on the side (optional)
•avocado slices (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
On a large baking sheet, spread out the onion slices, the jalapeno (still whole), garlic cloves and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for about 20-30 minutes until the edges of the onions blacken, tossing them about halfway through. Remove the garlic after about 5 minutes, so it doesn’t burn. Remove the jalapeno when the skin is blackened and blistering.
Place the roasted jalapeno in a small glass bowl with plastic wrap over it (but not touching it). Let it cool for 15 minutes and carefully peel off the skin and remove the stem and seeds. (use utensils if you can, and don’t touch your eye afterward).
In a medium pot, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil, add the onions, garlic (remove the paper), jalapeno, tomatoes, oregano, cumin, chile powder, a splash of agave or a pinch of sugar, and some salt and pepper. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the tomatoes start to sizzle.
Add a splash of sherry vinegar and cook for 30 seconds more. Add the broth and chopped tortilla pieces and let simmer for 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
Transfer to a high speed blender and puree (I used an immersion blender and it worked just fine). Taste and adjust seasonings, adding in a squeeze of lime.
Today I am participating in a pin it party hosted by the Lindsey over at The Lean Green Bean. Here are the basic rules:
All bloggers are welcome to participate! Here’s what you do:
Round up 5 blog posts you’ve written that you would like to see on Pinterest.
Make sure there is a nice, pinable image or photo included in each post.
Write a short post featuring the posts you chose- ie, put 5 nice images & links to the posts all in one place, along with a short description of each post.
On Thursday, publish your post, then visit The Bean and add your post to the linkup! (If you’re just reading this today and still want to participate, just publish in the next few days…I’ll leave the linkup open for about a week!)
So without further adieu here are my five favorite recipes I have made these past few months. . .
1. Carrot Cake Oatmeal
So delicious and filling. I actually made a cold version of this oatmeal for breakfast this morning and it really is like eating carrot cake for breakfast!
2. Couscous Salad with Chickpeas
I can’t wait to make this summery salad when it gets warmer. Perfect paired with white fish or chicken for a quick and healthy summer dinner (also leftovers pack well for lunch the next day)
3. Homemade English Muffins
So much simpler then I imagined and so much tastier then the store bought version
4. Baked Bean and Cornbread Cupcakes
These “cupcakes” are so good that I could eat them every night for dinner (though I don’t think my family would appreciate that very much)
Last but certainly not least. . .
5. Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie
The decadent tasting yet “healthy” cookie pie. Oh so gooey and chock full of chocolate chips. What is not to like?
I will admit when I first read this recipe from Angela Liddon at Oh She Glows I was skeptical. I didn’t think that stuffed shells could possibly be palatable without even a smidgen of cheese. I decided to bookmark the recipe anyways because I am always looking for something new to try. I also loved the idea of making the “cheese” out of tofu which would add a ton of belly filling protein.
The recipe stayed in my bookmarks for months. Then. . .
My sister has a lot of symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome which include food sensitivities to things such as dairy. Whenever she experiences an increase in her reaction to certain food items I try to be careful about eliminating them from our meals. I thought this recipe would be a great way for her to get some extra protein and nutrients without the addition of excessive dairy.
Still, the tofu filling might be healthy but would it taste good?
The answer is yes.
These stuffed shells taste like the real deal. They are cheesy and rich with a nice kick and body from the fresh herbs, onion and celery.
No one will ever be the wiser.
In fact, I didn’t even tell my dad (and he still doesn’t know) what they were made of and he scarfed them down and declare them “really good.” I decided what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him 🙂 .
Jumbo Stuffed Shells (from Oh She Glows)
Yield: approx. 30 shells or 6 servings
- 3.5 cups pasta sauce
- 340 grams jumbo pasta shells (I used 30 shells or 2/3 of the box – but make extra as some break)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 medium sweet onion, diced
- 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, minced
- 1/2 cup packed fresh parsley, minced
- 1 (14oz) package extra-firm or firm tofu, pressed
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 3/4-1 tsp fine grain sea salt, or to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes (optional)
1. Rinse block of tofu and wrap with paper towels followed by 2-3 tea towels. Place it on a cutting board or plate and add several heavy cookbooks on top. Press tofu for about 20-25 minutes to drain out the water. Alternatively, you can use a tofu press.
2. Grease a very large casserole dish. I used about 30 shells, but you’ll need to cook more than that as some shells will break during the cooking process. Cook shells in a pot of boiling water until al dente, about 8-11 minutes. Be careful not to overcook. Drain shells and set aside to cool.
3. Preheat oven to 400F. For the tofu ricotta: In a large skillet, sauté the garlic and onion in the oil for about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add in the chopped celery, basil, and parsley and sauté for another 5 minutes or so. Feel free to throw in some spinach for extra greens.
4. For the tofu, you can either crumble it into the skillet with your hands or you can give it a whirl in the food processor and then stir it into the skillet. If you use the processor, the texture will be very creamy like ricotta cheese and if you crumble it with your hands it will be more chunky/crumbly. It’s up to you how you want to make it. I usually opt to crumble it by hand so I don’t dirty the processor. Stir in the nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, lemon, and cayenne all to taste. Over medium heat, cook for about 8-10 minutes or until most of the water cooks off.
5. Spoon about 1 cup of marinara sauce into the casserole dish and spread around. Add about 2 tbsp of tofu ricotta into each stuffed shell and place shells on top of marinara sauce. Cover shells with the remaining 2-2.5 cups marinara sauce and any leftover tofu ricotta. You can add vegan cheese on top, but I don’t bother. Cover dish with tin foil and poke several air holes. Bake at 400F for about 20 minutes or until heated throughout. Serve with a basic green salad and garlic bread, if desired.
I love oatmeal for breakfast (an opinion I have expressed more than once: here, here (my favorite) and here). It is so filling and keeps me satiated much longer than any other breakfasts I have tried. Then, I threw together this breakfast on a whim yesterday morning.
It was one of those mornings that you feel like breaking out of your usual breakfast rut. The birds were singing the air was warm–too warm for a hot bowl of oatmeal. I was craving something a little more savory.
I opened the fridge.
I spied some tortillas and started to think of different breakfast options that utilized said tortillas. Eventually, I settled on a mix of a breakfast taco and a tostada and the Mexican Breakfast Pizza was born.
Quick High-Protein Mexican Breakfast Pizza (serves 1)
1 large whole-wheat tortilla (I used La Tortilla Factory’s low-carb tortillas)
1/4 cup of black beans
2 tbsp of Greek yogurt
1 egg (scrambled or fried)
4-5 cherry tomatoes (chopped)
1/4 of an avocado (chopped)
optional toppings: light sour cream, hot sauce, cilantro
Heat the tortilla in a large non-stick pan until firm and crispy. Meanwhile, in a separate non-stick pan cook egg as desired. Warm the black beans in a microwave for 15 seconds. Mash the black beans with the Greek yogurt (you can add a sprinkle of any seasoning you like here such as cumin, chili powder, garlic powder etc). Spread black bean mixture over tortilla “crust” and top with egg, chopped cherry tomatoes and avocado. Add a dash of hot sauce or any other toppings you desire. Cut into wedges and eat!
Delicious and filling! A new favorite for the 2 days a year I don’t wake up craving oatmeal for breakfast 😉