Tag Archives: Cheese

Worlds (secretly) healthiest lasagna

I am sure 95% of people who read this will either cringe or roll their eyes, but… I don’t really like pasta. Or rice.

No, it isn’t that I just say that because I want to avoid carbs; I genuinely just don’t get much mouth bliss when I eat either. In my opinion, pasta and rice are quite bland and dilute the deliciousness of the flavors surrounding them. Basically, I was the kid that used two cheese packets on her Kraft and would be mocked “would you like some pasta with your meat sauce?” Perhaps it is that I have never had truly great pasta, but even in Italy, the slippery ribbons of wheat didn’t do much for me. I do enjoy some grains though, but that is because they have flavor in their own right. When preparing a dish that is typically tainted with pasta or rice, I usually sub in bulgur, amaranth, or more veggies. For example, last week I was having a strange craving for lasagna (which means I was actually craving meaty marinara) and decided to find a way to make it sans pasta. I still wanted layers of cheese, sauce, and meat, but I needed a new medium to act as the barrier. What is green and resembles doppia riccia noodles? Cabbage of course!

Not Your Mama’s Lasagna

Recipe: Makes 4 (huge) servings

1 lb beef, 90% lean

1 head of cabbage (you will use around the outer most half of leaves)

1 cup mozzarella cheese (full fat)

parmesan cheese

For the sauce - 

1 can TJ’s diced and fire roasted tomatoes with green chiles

1 can tomato paste

3 garlic cloves

3 tbsp chopped red onion

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp garlic grapeseed oil (I used Apres Vin, but you could also use extra virgin olive oil)

basil, a handful fresh or several shakes dried

oregano

garlic salt

dash thyme

dash parsley

salt

Directions – 1. Preheat the oven to 350. Brown the beef on the stove top and set aside.

2. Prepare the sauce by combining the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, onion, garlic, basil, oregano, thyme, sugar, garlic oil, parsley, garlic salt, and salt in a blender and pulsing until combined. You can make it as chunky or smooth as you wish. Taste test and add any more spice if desired. Pour into the pan with the beef and stir. You can let it marinate for a few minutes on low heat while you prepare the cabbage.

3. Steam the cabbage the lazy way by placing the entire head in a microwave-safe bowl with 2 tbsp water, covering with another bowl or plate, and nuking for about 2-3 minutes. Cut off the very bottom of the cabbage. Carefully peel off the leaves of cabbage and lay on a towel to dry.

4. Grease an oven-safe 13 x 9 x 2 dish with olive oil. Place a layer of cabbage leaves on the base. Add a layer of meaty pasta sauce. Sprinkle on a third of the mozzarella cheese and some parmesan. Sprinkle on more garlic salt, oregano, parsley and thyme. Add another layer of cabbage leaves. Top with a layer of pasta sauce. Add another layer of cheese and spices. Repeat once more or until you are out of pasta sauce and cheese. Bake covered with foil for 25 minutes and uncovered for ~10 minutes or until the cheese is browned to your liking.

Even my pasta and rice loving roomy Kristi loved this lasagna.

Benefits

Tomatoes * also contain a LOT of vitamin A and C. Vitamin A is a potent antioxidant that has been shown in studies to reduce the effects of smoking. This does not mean it is okay to smoke, but if you do, it is a VERY good idea to make sure are getting lots of vitamin A daily. Tomatoes are also rich in lycopene, which has been proven to halt the growth of cancer cells!

Lean beef *  An excellent source of iron, B vitamins, zinc, selenium, phosphorous, and of course protein. Don’t be scared of beef’s fat content! Check out my post on saturated fats here.

Basil * Has anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants called flavonoids. Flavonoids protect your cells from damage (and thus, in the long run, cancer).

I loved this lasagna. It was cheesy, hearty, and packed with flavor. No noodles to spoil the party ;).

Goat cheese, spinach, and caramelized onion stuffed sweet potato skins.

The title says it all.

Christmas break has been lovely so far. I have seen Black Swan (so0o intense!), baked fruity cobbler muffins, co-hosted a dinner party (which featured the recipes in this post), gone to a party and seen people from high school and beyond (always entertaining), and danced my booty off at a concert.

Being back in Austin is very comforting. It is such a beautiful city and the food is damn good. Because I cook 3 meals a day-every day back at school, I am trying not to feel guilty about dining out er’ry day over break. Being out of schedule is a bit weird, but that is just one of those things you have to get over.

I have been staying at my friend Courtney’s house for most of break and on Monday night she decided to host a dinner party for the two of us plus 4 more friends. She is a vegetarian and I am just now beginning to appreciate cheese, so we decided to make a salad and sweet potato based meal.

Photography at night is the pits!

Goat cheese, spinach & caramelized onion stuffed sweet potato skins

Recipe: Serves 6

3 sweet potatoes

2 sweet onions

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 11 oz package goat cheese

2 cups baby spinach

sea salt

Roast the sweet potatoes at 375 for about 20-30 minutes, or until just soft enough to slice.

Meanwhile, slice the onions and cook on the stove top with 1 tbsp olive oil. Continue to cook, occasionally stirring, until they are dark brown and sweet.

Remove the sweet potatoes and slice them long ways into planks that are about 1/2-1 inch thick. Cut the planks in half. Place on a baking sheet lined with foil. Broil until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and top first with spinach, then goat cheese, then caramelized onion. Put back in the oven and broil until the goat cheese just begins to brown. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and serve hot.

Kale salad with creamy, citrus vinaigrette

Recipe: Serves 6

2 large bunches kale, washed

2 avocados, chopped

For the dressing –

3 tbsp exra virgin olive oil

5 tbsp apple cider vinegar

the juice and some pulp from 1 tangerine

1 tbsp finely chopped onion

½ tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp goat cheese

1 tbsp avocado

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a tall glass or shaker. Mix well. Use a little of the dressing to massage the kale stalks. Shred the kale into a large salad bowl and add chopped avocados. Toss salad with additional dressing.

Benefits:

Kale * Extremely high levels of vitamins K, A, and C! Also has manganese, calcium, fiber, and antioxidants.

Avocado * contains vitamins A, B, C, and E. Also contain phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, folic acid, zinc, and iron. Their greatest asset is their monounsaturated fat content, which is linked to lower cholesterol levels, reduced risk of heart disease, weight loss, and even alleviating depression.

Onions * contain anti-aging antioxidants phenolics and flavonoids. A study by Dr. Liu showed that pungent and Western yellow onions protected the most against colon cancer, while pungent yellow, Western yellow, and shallots protected the most against liver cancer.

Sweet potato * high in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, copper, and B6! The antioxidants in sweet potatoes work to eliminate free radicals (which damage the body) and are anti-inflammatory, so they can help alleviate symptoms of many conditions.

Need a break? Escape with a crepe!

Sorry the title is so cheesy. I mean, not really, but you know. Crepes are just so fun and easy to make and tasty! I never really thought to make them at home, but my friend Noelle wanted to cook and suggested we make dessert crepes.

Noelle! Goofy.

We made a batch of 5 crepes and decided to stuff them with whipped cream and fruit. Twas divine… the perfect light n’ healthy dessert.

The next day, I had one lonely little crepe left over. So I decided to make a savory crepe with chicken, parmesan, cheddar, garlic, shallots, and mushrooms! Served up with green bean fries and my special fry sauce.

Recipe: Makes 5 crepes

1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 egg

2 tbsp water

1 tbsp milk

1/2 tbsp melted butter

dash salt

Mix it all together and stick in the freezer for a few minutes until chilled. Pour a blob onto a hot non-stick pan and swirl around until a thin layer covers the bottom. Cook for about a minute until the edges are lightly browned and use a spatula to flip. Cook for about 30 more seconds and remove. Repeat until the batter is gone!

For a dessert crepe: Stuff with whipped cream, bananas, strawberries, coconut, peanut butter, black berries, nutella, pumpkin butter, nuts, whateva!

For my savory crepe: Fill with sauteed shallots, garlic, mushrooms, and chicken and top with cheese. Microwave for 20 seconds, or until cheese is melted.

The green bean fries were inspired by How Sweet Eats but the fry sauce was inspired by In-n-Out. Who doesn’t love that crack sauce??

Crack Fry Sauce

1 tsp real mayo

1 tbsp organic ketchup

pinch of salt, cayenne, and chili pepper

Bloggers: Are you going to the Foodbuzz Fest in SF???

My morning routine

Good morning everyone :)

I am sitting here in the midst of my morning routine and feeling so cozy. Every day, I wake up and trudge to the kitchen. Then I drop a handful of coffee beans into my burr grinder and press ‘Start.’ For about 10 seconds there is this insanely loud mechanical noise that infiltrates my ears, rattles my brain, and wakes me up. Merciless. I feel guilty because I don’t want awaken the housemates (but I need my coffee). So far, it hasn’t woken anyone up, but how, I have no idea. I transfer the grinds to the coffee maker and during the 3 minutes it takes to brew the coffee, I load or unload the dishwasher and tidy up the kitchen. Then, I pour the coffee into my giant handmade mug. I painted it with my friend Courtney this summer in one of those kiddy pottery places. It took three hours.

Makes me happy with every use.

I add either heavy whipping cream or half and half or whole milk to my coffee, depending on my mood and/or the fridge. If you haven’t had heavy whipping cream in your coffee, go do it. It is amazing. And no, it is not more high calorie because you need to use less of it to get the creamy effect of half and half or milk. Then I go to my room and cozy in my bed mattress pad on the floor, set my laptop on my belly, and sip my coffee. Usually, I read blogs and Al Jazeera, but if it is Friday then I am studying for my 8am biochemistry quiz.

Biochemistry. So far, so fine. But apparently I am going to have to memorize literally every detail of glycolysis and metabolism. He scared me so much that I dropped 6 units after the first lecture. For the first time in my life I am only taking 13 units of class. My classes are:

Animal Biochemistry: the teacher is really cocky, but kinda funny. Definitely a demanding class.

Food Chemistry: so far I have learned everything already in Ochem, so cool

Cultural Anthro: a freshman class, so it will probably be an easy A. The teacher is precious, he is this old man that makes little under the table jokes and says um every 4 words. His lectures are actually infuriating. His sentences aren’t very coherent and he is extremely hard to understand, but it’s all good.

Today is Saturday, which means it’s the big Davis farmers market! Y’all, this is seriously the coolest farmers market I have ever been to. Actually, the Austin farmers market is tied with it, but I am slightly biased…….. Perhaps I will take some pictures of it today and post them later.

For breakfast today I had

Crunchy Cauliflower Quiche

So good. I forgot the milk though, so thats why it’s not fluffier.

Recipe:

1/2 tbsp real butter

1 clove garlic

1/2 sweet onion

3 tbsp water

1 cup cauliflower

1 tbsp milk

1 tbsp parmesan cheese

1 tbsp cheddar cheese

1 egg, 2 egg whites

sea salt

whole wheat bread crumbs

Directions –

1. Preheat the oven to 375. Melt the butter in the pan and saute the onions and garlic until the onions until the begin to get soft. At this point, add in the chopped cauliflower and 3 tbsp water. Cook until water has burned off and the cauliflower is slightly soft.

2. In a bowl, mix the eggs with the milk, cauliflower mixture, cheese, and salt.

3. Grease a baking dish and pour in the quiche batter. Top with a heaping 1/4 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes, or until the egg has risen.

Benefits:

Eggs * the yolk is where all the nutrients are! It contains tryptophan, selenium, iodine, B vitamins, and phosphorous, many of which are necessary for optimal metabolism.

Cauliflower * a good source of vitamin C, K, potassium, fiber, and phosphorous!

Whole wheat flour * more B vitamins, fiber, folic acid, calcium, zinc, phosphorous, copper, and iron than white flour. Whole grains reduce your risk for diabetes and have also been linked to weight loss and maintaining a lower BMI.

Truffled Mac n’ Cheese

I have been wanting to make this for months. I have put it off and put if off either because I was homeless or because I didn’t have all the ingredients or because the apartment fire alarm got pulled.

But I finally did the damn thang.

I was inspired by a mix of Heather’s mac and cheese and Mae’s humnut sauce, but I took it to the next level.

I mixed vegan with cheese.

I blended vegetarian with beef.

I dumped truffled salt upon healthy.

I crumbled carb onto low carb.

And it was good.

This might just be my favorite dinner. And it is healthy, despite all the jokes I am making about it. Two people could split the entire pan and walk away without a tinge of guilt. We certainly did…

“I had no idea healthy food could taste this good.” – Emily’s father

“OMG, Im sending a mass text out to the girls about this dinner.” – Emily

Recipe: Serves 2-3

Bake 1 medium spaghetti squash at 390 for 35 minutes.

In the mean time, mix together 1/4 cup hummus with 2 heaping tbsps of nutritional yeast. Thin with 2 tbsps water and stir. Then add about 1 to 1.5 ounces of fontina cheese and a large splash of milk. Microwave for 30 seconds, stir, and microwave again. Sprinkle in some truffled sea salt and stir until it is mostly smooth. This is your cheese sauce.

Saute 6 ounces of extra lean ground beef in a skillet until it is just thoroughly cooked. Set aside.

When the squash is done, scrape out the noodles into a large mixing bowl. Add in half a can of drained peas and the beef. Stir in lots of truffle salt. Pour in half of the cheese sauce and stir again.

Grease a casserole dish and pour in the squash mixture. Evenly spread the top with the rest of the cheese mixture.

Sprinkle 1/4 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs over the top and bake at 400 for a couple minutes. Turn up the heat to broil for 2 minutes to finish it off. To serve, sprinkle with more truffled sea salt!

Please make this soon, I promise you will not regret it. And you can easily vegetarianize or veganize it! Just nix the obvious ingredients and double up on the others.

Benefits:

Spaghetti squash * Contains vitamin C, thiamin, niacin, B6, and lots of fiber!

Lean beef * A lot of people look down upon beef because they think it is bad for their health. However, beef is actually very good for you as long as you buy lean cuts (I buy 95% lean) and limit your consumption to a couple times a week. I didn’t used to eat  red meat very often, but when I found out I was iron deficient, I started eating it at least 1-2 times a week. I have felt much better since! Lean beef is a great source of iron, B vitamins, and protein.

Know what I mean, Peaches n’ Cheese!

Hopefully someone got my crappy rap song reference…

The inspiration for this bombazz sandy came from Rebekah’s contest! The goal was to create a recipe using the ingredient of the week — peaches!

Grilled (Vanilla Scented) Peaches & Gruyere Sandwich

Food porn?

Recipe: Serves 1

Slice 1 ripe peach into thinnish rounds. Lay them out on a plate.

In a separate little bowl, mix together 1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar and 1 tsp vanilla. Pour this over the peaches and let it soak in for a minute or so.

Grill the peaches on the stove top for a couple minutes on each side.

Take two whole wheat slices of bread. Layer thin slices of gruyere on one.

Spray a large pan with canola oil and turn the heat up to medium high. Place the cheesed bread on the pan. When the peaches are done, layer them on top of the cheese and then top with the other piece of bread. When the bottom is browned, spray the pan again with canola oil and flip the sandwich over. When the other side is browned, it is finished!

Benefits:

Peaches * a good source of potassium, vitamins A, C and K!

PS: If you guys go to my lovely photographer friend’s website, you might just recognize the first person you see….

The bare minimum

Happy Father’s Day everyone! If your padre is around, give him a call and tell him you love him. Not to be a debbie downer, but my father passed away when I was 8 from lymphoma. His name was Brian Henry DeDecker and he was an Emergency Room doctor. He liked to go camping, hunting, and fishing and worked as hard as he played. He was a great father and I miss him dearly. His death is what I believe has steered my career interests to cancer research. It is why I am so interested in the properties of food that prevent and combat cancer.  On a positive note, I have been blessed with a wonderful step father. My mom married a man named Steve Smith last year, and he is a truly kind and loving person. He is always smiling and would do anything for me and the family. I love my step papps. He is the proud owner of Spenco.

Anywhos!

This is now Food Blogging: Survivor Edition. Now that all my house mates have moved out and taken all of their stuff with them, I no longer have a blender, a toaster, a coffee maker  (or any kitchen appliance except a microwave), cinnamon, salt, pepper, random assorted spices, cable, or internet. Furthermore… on a hike yesterday this woman was running downhill as I was walking up the hill and she ran into me and sent my camera flying. Now the screen doesn’t work. What’s a food blogger to do?!

 

Rollin with the homies

This week has been lovely. I drove down to LA to stay with my friend Emily and we had such an amazing time. We celebrated our friend’s 21st birthday…

We visited the Getty…

and chowed down on In-n-Out.

Yes, this health food blogger ate fast food. But In-n-Out is the creme de la creme of comida rapida! I am the order at the top. A cheeseburger, animal style of course, with french fries, also animal style, and a vanilla milkshake. Animal style = melted cheese, caramelized onions, and “special sauce,” aka ketchup and mayo mixed together. It was completely delicious. Surriously.

I am not saying everyone should go out and eat burgers and fries smothered in mayo and ice cream. But it is my suspicion that my audience (and food bloggers in general) eat very healthfully and would probably get a twang of guilt if they ate a meal like this. There are also, of course, the people of the world who eat fast food all the time and dislike veggies and whole grains. But both of these lifestyles are not adequate for both the mind and body. We must eat whole, nutritious foods for the majority of our diet and simply enjoy our occasional junk food without guilt!

Anywho. Your healthy, delicious and nutritious recipe of the day is…

Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas!

This was fanfreakintastic. I am dead serious when I say you need to make this tonight.

Recipe: Serves 1

Preheat the oven to 400. Peel two small garlic cloves and slice a quarter of a green pepper into thin strips.

Spray a baking sheet with canola oil. Place 1 tomato, half of a sweet yellow onion, the two garlic cloves, and the strips of green pepper on the baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the veggies begin to brown and the tomato starts to ooze juice!

Combine all of the above ingredients, except the green bell pepper, in a blender. Add a few shakes of cumin, chili pepper, paprika, salt, pepper, and a dash of red pepper flakes. Blend until smooth.

Cut 1 chicken breast in half. Save one half and slice the other into thin strips. In a little dish, combine a few shakes of paprika and cumin. Add in a little cayenne pepper (or more if you are intense). Add a few drops of oil and water until you have made a paste. Rub the paste all over the chicken strips. Cook in a pan for 3-4 minutes on each side.

Take 2 whole wheat tortillas and lay them out. Slice off about 3/4 of an inch from 1 end of each. About an inch away from the other (rounded) end, make a line of chicken. Add a line of green peppers. Add a line of thinly sliced sharp cheddar (sharp has a stronger flavor, so you can use a bit less). Roll them up by taking the rounded end and curving it over and into the line of stuffing. Roll all the way up.

Spray a small, deep baking pan with canola oil. Lay the two rolled up enchiladas in the pan so that the loose end is on the bottom. Pour all of the tomato sauce over the enchiladas.

Bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes.

Benefits:

Chicken * a lean source of protein and B vitamins!

Tomato * Known for their high lycopene content. They also contain lots of potassium, vitamin A, C, and folate!

Cayenne pepper * contains antioxidants and temporarily speeds the metabolism!

Cheese * good for the soul…….

Shrimp n’ Grits

In case y’all didnt know (or couldn’t tell), I am from the South. I hail from Austin, Texas and I’m proud of it! California is extremely different. Its beautiful here, and the liberalness is comforting, but I miss Texans. Or perhaps just Austinites? Austin is this gorgeous, liberal oasis in the middle of the big red state. There is amazing food, shopping, swimming holes, lakes, and the people are so weird (but in a good way)! I’ve been craving southern food lately (ahem, fried catfish…) and tonight was not an exception. I decided to make shrimp and grits!

This dish tastes like its clogging your arteries, but its pretty healthy! It is better for you than traditional shrimp and grits because it uses oats instead. Grits are dried corn kernels without the hull. They have almost no fiber and very little nutritional value. Oats on the other hand have lots of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Recipe: Serves 1

Thaw 12 raw, deveined shrimp. Shake some garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, seasoning salt, pepper, and cajon seasoning onto the shrimp and toss. Chop 1/4 cup onion and 1 garlic clove.

Spray a pan with canola oil and begin to saute the onion and garlic.

In a bowl, pour in 1/2 cup oats. Add just a tad under (both) 1/2 cup nonfat milk and 1/2 cup water. Add 2 tsps canola butter. Microwave for 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, throw the shrimp in the pan with the onions and garlic. Cook for a few minutes on each side, until white.

When the oatmeal is done, measure out 1/4 cup mozzarella shredded cheese. Mix about half of it into the oatmeal. Add salt. Top with onions, shrimps, and the rest of the cheese. Give it another sprinkle of paprika for cuteness.

Benefits:

Shrimp * extremely high in protein and low in fat! Contains selenium, tryptophan, vitamin D (key for bone health), B12, iron (needed for a healthy thyroid), phosphorous, B3, and zinc. The fat that shrimp does contain is the healthy monounsaturated kind.

Oats * A slow digesting carbohydrate that will keep you full for longer and not spike your blood sugar because of its fiber content. Also contains potassium, phosphorous, pantothenic acid, and magnesium.

Onion * Contains quercitin, an antioxidant that halts the growth of tumors! Also, studies have linked regular onion consumption with lower cholesterol and reduced risk of colon cancer. A prime source of chromium.

Don’t be scared…

Introducing… Cheeseburger in a Bowl. This dish doesn’t look very pretty, but it tastes damn good, especially when you’ve got a craving. The superfood in this dish is the bulgur, which is a chewy, nutty whole grain that has more fiber and than brown rice, corn, and bread. If you want to healthify it even more, you can add some spinach to the hot bulgur so that it wilts. I also wanted to use tomatoes instead of ketchup, but I didn’t have any.

Recipe: Serves 1

Microwave 1 cup of cooked bulgur and season with salt. If you want to add spinach to the bowl, wet the spinach and tuck it into the bulgur before microwaving.

Cook a lean ground beef patty (2-4 ounces) on the stove top with onions.

When the meat is done, chop it into small pieces and mix into the bulgur with a 1/3 cup cheese (I used mozzarella).

When the onions are translucent, add to the bowl.

Add AVOCADO and sliced tomatoes or ketchup and salt if you wish.

Benefits:

Lean beef * A lot of people look down upon beef because they think it is bad for their health. However, beef is actually very good for you as long as you buy lean cuts (I buy 95% lean) and limit your consumption to a couple times a week. I didn’t used to eat  red meat very often, but when I found out I was iron deficient, I started eating it at least 1-2 times a week. I have felt much better since! Lean beef is a great source of iron and B vitamins and protein.

Bulgur * Iron, lots of fiber, and other minerals!