Monday, December 19, 2011

Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes

These nutrient rich, crispy potatoes are the perfect side dish in any meal. They are particulary delicious with my Gyro Style Burgers because they taste delicious dipped in the tzatziki sauce. I also like to top them with poached or over-easy eggs for a tasty breakfast.

3 medium Sweet Potatoes (cleaned with a damp paper towel)
1 small Yellow Onion (peeled)
1 tablespoon Honey
2 teaspoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chop the sweet potatoes into 2 inch chunks by cutting each twice length-wise and 4 to 5 times width-wise. Add to medium sized mixing bowl. Chop the onion into smiliar sized and add to bowl. Add salt, honey, and olive oil to potato and onion mixture and mix well with hands. Spread mixture onto baking sheet in one layer. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, tossing once during baking.

Servings: 4, around 165 calories per serving
Additional Suggestions: try using different types of potatoes, and instead of honey add fresh herbs or spices in order to change up the flavors and feel of the dish.

Gyro Style Lamb and Beef Burgers

This burger recipe is one of my all time favorites because it's a total crowd pleaser. I call them Gyro Burgers because they are packed with spinach and feta and topped with my simple tzatziki sauce. A little grated onion keeps them super moist and the mixture of lamb and beef makes them rich and hearty. This is a great dish for a casual Saturday night dinner with friends or for a simple weeknight supper.

1/2 lb Ground Lamb
1/2 lb Ground Beef (96% lean)
3/4 cup reduced fat Feta Cheese
2 cups frozen Spinach, microwaved for 2 minutes (cooks down to one cup)
2 tablespoons Grated Onion
1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
4 100% whole wheat Sandwich Thins

Preheat a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add all ingredients to a medium size mixing bowl. Mix with hands until all ingredients are well incorporated (don't over mix because the meat will become tough and dry). Divide the mixture into four evenly sized balls and form each into a patty. Place patties in pan and cook 4-5 minutes per side. Remove from pan and place each patty on to the bottom half of sandwich thin. Top with tzatziki sauce and top half of sandwich thin.

Servings: 4, around 300 calories per serving (1 serving is 1 patty, 1 sandwich thin, and a quarter cup tzatziki sauce)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tzatziki Dressing (Cucumber Yogurt Sauce)

This Greek style sauce is a flavorful blend of Greek yogurt, cucumber, lemon, and garlic. It is a very versatile recipe that can be used as a salad dressing, a dip for veggies and pita chips, or as a sauce perfect for dipping chicken, lamb or beef. Tzatziki sauce is the star in many of my favorite recipes. I use it as a sauce on my gyro burgers, as a dressing on my Greek salad with roasted eggplant, and drizzled atop my Mediterranean pizza. It is fat free, yet full of flavor. Definitely worth a try.

1 Cup fat-free Greek Yogurt
1/3 Cup Cucumber
Juice of half a Lemon
1/2 teaspoon grated Garlic
1/4 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
5 to 7 turns freshley Cracked Black Pepper

In a small mixing bowl combine yogurt, lemon juice, salt, and Pepper. Grate cucumber and garlic directly into yogurt mixture. Stir dressing until completely combined. For best results, refridgerate for one hour prior to serving so that flavors can fully merry.

Servings: 5 (1/4 cup per serving)
Additional Suggestions:
Fresh herbs are commonly added to Tzatziki Sauce. Try 1 or 2 tablespoons chopped dill, mint, or basil

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Spicy Mexican Black Beans

This spicy and satisfying mixture of black beans, red bell peppers, and onions is a go to recipe for me. Use it for hearty vegetarian burritos, as a filling for omelettes, as a simple side dish, or on top of fresh lettuce, baked tortilla chips, reduced-fat shredded cheese, and black olives for a delicious taco salad. I always have the ingredients in my kitchen so I can quickly whip up a satisfying, healthy, vegetarian meal. 

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Clove of Garlic, peeled and finely diced
1 Medium Onion, peeled and sliced into ½ inch half moons
1 Medium Red Bell Pepper, seeded and sliced into ½ inch strips
1 Tablespoon Cumin
1 teaspoon Chili Powder
2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
1 14.5 Ounce Can No-Salt Added Black Beans, drained and rinsed
1 14.5 Ounce Can Diced Tomatoes

Heat Olive Oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and onions, toss to coat with oil. After 2 minutes add Red Pepper, Cumin, Chili Powder, and Salt (reduce salt to 1 teaspoon if canned beans contain added salt). Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add Black Beans and Tomatoes, increase heat to medium-high. Continue to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 15 minutes, or until desired thickness/consistency.

Servings: 4 (1/4 of mixture per serving)
Calories per serving: approximately 170
**The picture shown is of a burrito made from my mexican black beans. I used one La Tortilla Factory Whole Wheat Tortilla (high fiber, low fat, only 100 calories), 1/4 cup reduced-fat mexican blend cheese, salsa, shredded romaine lettuce, and pickled jalapenos for each burrito.

Creamy Goat Cheese and Veggie Penne

This pasta dish is actually made up of mostly vegetables and while the sauce is packed with flavor and tastes rich, it is very light. This recipe is simple, filling, nutritious, and impressive, but most of all it is super tasty.   

For Pasta:
1 Cup 100% Whole Wheat Penne Pasta (dry)
1 Cup Asparagus Spears, ends trimmed, cut into 1’’ pieces (about 10 spears)
1.5 Cups Orange or Red Bell Pepper, seeded, cut into strips (1 medium pepper)
2 Cups Zucchini, cut into 2’’ long strips (1 medium zucchini)
4 Cups Broccoli Florets (approx. 2 whole broccoli heads cut into bite size pieces)
2 Palm-fuls Kosher Salt (for pasta-cooking water)
For Sauce:
1 T Olive Oil
¼ t Red Pepper Flake
3 Garlic Cloves, finely diced
1 Pint Cherry Tomatoes, halved (1.5 cups)
½ t Salt
6 to 8 Baby Bella Mushrooms, sliced
½ Cup Basil Leaves, tightly packed, torn into pieces
6 oz Goat Cheese, crumbled

For Pasta:
In a large stockpot, bring 3.5 quarts (14 cups) water to a boil. Add two handfuls of Salt and then pasta. Cook pasta according to package instructions. With 2 or 3 minutes cooking time remaining, add Asparagus, Bell Pepper, Zucchini, and Broccoli. When pasta is fully cooked and veggies are tender, strain and return to pot.
For Sauce:
While water boils and pasta and veggies cook, make sauce. Preheat medium sauce pan on stove top over medium heat. Add red pepper flake and garlic to heated oil (watch carefully, burnt garlic happens fast and ruins the dish). After one minute add the cherry tomatoes and salt. Cook for 5 minutes (the tomatoes should be popping and a sauce should be forming). Add mushrooms and continue to cook for 8 minutes. Remove from heat. When Pasta is returned to its pot and while it’s still hot, add the cherry tomato sauce, torn basil leaves, and goat cheese. Stir until goat cheese has begun to melt and all veggies and pasta are coated with sauce.

Serves: 4, 1.5 cups per serving (under 300 calories per serving)

Helpful Hints:
Wash and chop veggies earlier in the day to make this a super fast dinner
Use 6oz Reduced Fat Feta for a flavor twist
Mix It Up by using any combination of approximately 6 cups raw and sliced veggies
Make the entire recipe, even if it’s just for one person. The leftovers are great for later in the week, especially when you don’t feel like cooking.