Sunday, May 17, 2020

Creamy Bean Pasta and Vegetable Casserole

I am a huge advocate of all the bean and lentil pastas that are now on the market. They serve as the "protein" in the meal as well as the "starch", so I tell clients you basically just need to add veggies to make it a complete and well-balanced meal (even frozen veggies are fine!). How easy is that? These pastas typically cook in 8 minutes or less, so they make for a quick meal when you don't want to spend much time preparing food. Furthermore, they don't have much flavor, so you can treat them like normal pasta by adding marinara, making into a creamy pasta dish, or even creating an Asian noodle stir fry. This particular recipe (below) eats like an indulgent comfort-food dish, but has been "healthified" by using bean pasta, lower fat dairy, and bulking up the quantity of vegetables compared to a traditional casserole. It's gooey and creamy and tastes like it's bad for you... but it's not! It's full of protein, fiber, and not a lot of fat. 

·         ~8 ounces bean or lentil pasta (such as Banza chickpea or Barilla/Trader Joe’s Lentil)
·         1 ½ cups 1% small-curd cottage cheese
·         1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach
·         2 cups sliced mixed vegetables of your choosing (e.g: broccoli, peppers, onions, cauliflower)
·         ¾ cup plain non-fat or low-fat Greek yogurt
·         ¼ cup fat-free milk
·         3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
·         2 teaspoons whole wheat flour
·         1 teaspoon dried dill or 1 tablespoon snipped fresh dill
·         ½ cup 2% or part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
1. Cook the bean/lentil pasta according to package directions; drain. 
2. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients except for the shredded cheese. Add pasta and toss to coat. 
3. Spray a 2 quart baking dish with cooking spray and pour pasta mixture into it. 
4. Top with the shredded cheese.
5. Cover and bake at 350° for 40 minutes. 
6. Uncover; bake 5-10 minutes longer or until heated through or broil on high for a few minutes to brown the shredded cheese. 
7. Let the casserole stand for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
NUTRITION FACTS for 1/4 recipe:
*Nutrient analysis conducted on Diet Master Pro software; ingredients are in reverse order (lightest ingredient to heaviest)
* Recipe adapted from Taste of Home's Ham and Noodle Casserole

Monday, January 20, 2020

Easy Greek Vegetarian Bowl

I'm really into Greek/Mediterranean food lately, and luckily, more of these types of restaurants are popping up all over. As far as eating out or getting takeout, Greek is the way to go. Greek salads are one of the better salads to order at restaurants since you actually do get some decent vegetables and not (m)any "bad" toppings. Nova Grill in Villanova is great because they even have salmon on their menu and whole wheat pitas. The Simple Greek in Wayne also has a lot of veggie options and whole wheat pitas to choose from. New Wayne Pizza in downtown Wayne has some Greek offerings as well, but I just like them because they have plentiful salad options.

Anyway, after having bought several Greek salads when eating out the past few months, I decided I should just buy these key ingredients to keep on hand. This led me to experiment and come up with new recipes. I have found one of my laziest meals, or for days I don't "have time" to make an omelet for lunch, is this Mediterranean bowl below. This bowl is full of veggies and protein, and is a good hit of fiber. It's quick, it's cheap, it's easy, and it's nutritious:

Kelly's Simple Greek Mediterranean Bowl
1/2 cup chickpeas, washed and drained
1/2 cup 2% cottage cheese (like Nancy's or Daisy Brand)
5 Kalamata Olives
2 tbsp Feta cheese
>2 cups vegetables (raw for salad, cooked for warm bowl)- I like spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes, kale, or whatever I have around

Optional toppings: lemon juice, balsamic glaze, sun dried tomatoes, parsley

1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. For a salad, eat as is.
2. If you are feeling cold and want a warm bowl- heat in microwave or on pan on top of stove until the cottage cheese melts.


Nutrition facts: The analysis was done using Diet Master Pro software based on 1 c cooked + 1.25 c raw vegetables + 1 tsp balsamic glaze as an optional topping. The sodium can be lowered by using a no/low sodium cottage cheese.