Monday, 23 September 2013

pizza power!

As a native New Yorker, I grew up eating a lot of pizza. As I got older, however, I started to become more aware of healthy eating and my pizza intake declined.  I realized how HUGE a slice of pizza can be, how many slices I could eat in one sitting and how those calories can really add up.

Therefore, I decided to take matters into my own hands. Instead of being subjected to the unknown, it was time to make my own pizza!

Making your own pizza is super fun because you can be creative with the toppings and it's basically playing with your food! The pizza I'm showing here is a prosciutto, artichoke pizza with low-fat mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce. The calories are cut because I use less dough per person and the cheese is part-skim. Super simple, taste great and it's lower in calories than your traditional slice!

Toppings are ENDLESS.  For a more hearty and filling slice, add a ton more veggies-onions, mushrooms, peppers, etc. and a protein such as a lean turkey sausage or shredded chicken. For an extra kick, you can substitute a different type of sauce/spread such as pesto or barbecue sauce.  Yum!

Instead of reaching for that 2nd or 3rd slice, pair your homemade pizza which a fresh salad.  Together, it makes a very well balanced meal.  Enjoy!

Recipe for Basic Pizza (serves 4)

16 oz pizza dough
1/2 cup of tomato sauce
3/4 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. On a floured surface, shape pizza dough into desired shape (I made mine rectangular as it was in a baking sheet).

Place pizza with toppings into the oven, bake for approximately 10-20 minutes depending on how thin/thick the crust is.

Cut pizza into slices and serve immediately!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Eat Like A European

It was my first trip to Paris that I discovered the real beauty in food.  On just one street you could find bright and vibrant produce being sold right out of a cart, a nearby boulangerie where the smell of warm bread wafted into the street and a small storefront where a butcher served up the meat available for the day.

I loved the how each  vendor had their specialty.  Quality and taste were never compromised and shopping for an evening meal was truly a pleasure. It was later on that I studied abroad and traveled through Europe that I found most places ate this way and were much healthier than Americans. 

 A number of European countries follow what is known as the Mediterranean diet. This diet is heavily focused in plant based foods-fruits, vegetables, beans and nuts.  Olive oil is the main source of fat, providing heart healthy monounsaturated fats rather than butter (a saturated fat).  Meat intake is sparse. Rather, people consume more fish and lean proteins.  

Foods in this diet are minimally processed.  There is little question of what is in a dish because foods are prepared very simply without preservatives. 

Meals in these countries are something to be celebrated. People really take time out of their day to prepare and shop for a meal and sit down with family or friends to enjoy it. The emphasis is on mindful eating which has been shown to help curb overeating and keep portions under control.

The best news, of course, is that those who follow this diet around the Mediterranean get to drink wine! In moderation of course, but a glass at dinner every night fits in perfectly to this style of living. 

So just like Michael Pollan says: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." 

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Easy Weeknight Dinner-Green Curry Soup

There are just some days when I'm not in the mood to make a big production out of dinner. I want to make a meal that is quick, healthy and with ingredients I can easily find in my pantry.  

This green curry soup meets all my requirements. It provides the flavors of a more traditional Thai curry without being heavy and calorie laden  (because it is broth based) and it can be put together in about 20 minutes.  

This dish is also fun because you can mix and match your protein and veggies to whatever is available in your kitchen!

I started out with a yellow and green squash and a green bell pepper.  For my protein I cubed a block of tofu and patted some of the water out to help the tofu absorb more of the yummy broth.

The main flavoring agent was this Thai green curry paste which is super flavorful and not too spicy!

Patiently waiting for the veggies to cook

Green Curry Soup (serves 4)

1 Tbsp cooking oil
2 Tbsp green curry paste
1 cup low-fat coconut milk
4 cups low sodium broth (chicken/vegetable)
1 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce or fish sauce
5 cups diced veggies of your choice
3 cups protein of your choice (I used tofu)

In a larger saucepan heat oil over medium heat.  Once ready, add the curry paste and stir quickly for a few seconds.  Add 2 Tbsp of coconut milk to pot and stir to combine.

Once combined, pour in rest of coconut milk and broth. This is when you can add in the fish or soy sauce as well.  Once brought up to a boil, add your veggies and keep broth at a simmer.  Depending on your veggies this can be under a minute to around 5 minutes.

If you are using a protein such as tofu or shrimp, add just a minute or so before taking off the heat. Chicken/beef would take a bit longer so that needs to be accounted for.

After the veggies and the protein are cooked, the soup is complete! If you want to make this a bit more hearty you can add some rice noodles or any pasta on hand depending how hungry you are.

It's as simply as that. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Oatmeal Obsession

Oatmeal--One of the easiest, cheapest and healthiest foods that you can make for breakfast. To be honest, my go-to breakfast food as of late is a bowl of oatmeal with peanut butter. Like every. single. day.  I love it!

Oatmeal can be part of a low calorie breakfast that can keep you full until lunch.  Oatmeal contains both soluble and insoluble fiber-the soluble fiber is what can help lower cholesterol levels while the insoluble fiber expands and keeps you fuller for longer. It’s the best of both worlds.

Now I know oatmeal on its own may not be the most exciting thing to eat but the number of different toppings you can put on your breakfast makes the possibilities endless.
I decided to show off 3 very different oatmeal varieties but there are even more out there. Each oatmeal starts with 1/3 cup dry oats and 2/3 cup water. From there, toppings are the limit!

Apple Pie Oatmeal: this oatmeal reminds me of the beginning of fall. The cinnamon spice and apples are the perfect comforting foods when the temperature drops.

Cooked oats
1 Tbsp chopped walnuts
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp chopped apple
1 tsp honey drizzled over the top

This is a more dessert-y take on oatmeal but it can definitely be eaten for breakfast (if the choice was between a doughnut and this oatmeal, pick this)! It's sweet but it's a much healthier option and very satisfying!

Chocolate Banana Oatmeal

Cooked oats
0.5 oz of your favorite dark chocolate (about one large square of chocolate)
1/2 of small banana, sliced 

Now this oatmeal takes a twist on the classically sweeter breakfast dish and turns it into a hearty and savory option for breakfast.  It eliminates the potential for added sugar in the morning and there is an egg for extra protein to keep you going in the morning! This is just one savory way of changing up your oats. Different varieties could include sauteed vegetables, meat or cheese!

Lindsay's Savory Oatmeal

Cooked oats
1 egg or egg white (cooked to your liking)
2 Tbsp low fat shredded cheese
Pinch of salt (I used truffle salt to make this dish extra special)

There are so many different and delicious ways to make oatmeal, why ever go back to that sugary packaged oatmeal again?! 

Whats YOUR favorite oatmeal to make?

Monday, 2 September 2013

Panzanella, Simply Delicious

Nothing says summer better than panzanella, a Tuscan salad made with bread and juicy tomatoes. It's a perfect dish that takes no time to put together and there is no oven required.

For me, this dish is so rustic that a recipe shouldn't even be required. Mix together some fresh vegetables, a hunk of day old bread and a simple vinaigrette and you have a beautiful and delicious salad.

For my salad for two, I cut up 1 large tomato (around 1 lb) and a medium sized yellow bell pepper. Cut into bite size pieces, around 1 inch thick (same goes for the bread)

I also decided to include some fresh basil from my patio for an additional flavor component. I took about a handful of leaves for the entire salad

My bread of choice was a kalamata olive loaf that I bought from my local bakery (Rose and Joe's in Astoria). I thought this was a great choice-the olives gave the whole salad a nice salty bite that it needed. 

After that I made a simple dressing--2 tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil, 4 tbsp white wine vinegar, 1 garlic clove and salt and pepper to taste.  

Mix everything together and you've got a beautiful salad that should be served within 30 minutes of dressing!

Quick, healthy, delicious!