Lentil & Spinach Soup

lentil & spinach soup fat free recipe

Lentil & Spinach Soup
Serves 6-8
Can be doubled | Can be halved | Makes great leftovers | Freezes well

We got a break in the hot weather earlier this week, and on a gloriously cool Monday morning I had lentil soup on my mind. I made a big pot of this soup for the cafe, and although the extreme heat and humidity have returned, we’ve served a lot of it! Dressed up here with a few key spices, herbs and frozen chopped spinach (and no added oils or fats), lentils are great any time of year. Even on a warm summer evening, how nice it is to have a big pot of lentil soup in the fridge. All you need is a quick reheat for your portion of soup, a slice of good bread and a big salad – you’ve got an easy, nourishing and not-too-heavy meal.     ~ Susan

Ingredients:

1 16 oz bag dried lentils
2 large bay leaves
1 cup diced onion
1 1/2 cups sliced or diced carrot
1 1/2 cups sliced or diced celery
1 1/2 teaspoons dried granulated garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach – partially thawed – Cascadian Farms organic spinach is perfect
sea salt & black pepper to taste

Instructions:

Sort through the dried lentils (spread them on a large plate or countertop) to be sure they are free of small stones or other debris.

Optional step: Soak dried lentils in a large pot of water for 4 – 6 hours, drain and rinse, then add 8 cups of water and 2 bay leaves. Soaking makes the lentils more digestible and the nutrients more assimilable. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered, for 30 minutes.

Quick version: put dried lentils in a pot, add 8 cups water and 2 bay leaves. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium low and cook, covered, for 30 minutes.

Add onion, carrot, celery, granulated garlic, oregano, basil, cumin and coriander.

Cover and continue cooking on medium-low for another 30 minutes.

Add the chopped spinach (don’t bother with draining it – just add the entire contents of the package). If it’s partially frozen that’s fine, the hot soup will take care of that.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. It’s ready to serve! It will taste even better tomorrow, but why not have some right now?

Serving Suggestions:

Top with fresh chopped herbs of your choice: scallions, parsley, chervil, cilantro, basil, chives… any of these are perfect.

If you like your lentils to taste a little more rich add a little dollop of good butter or a light drizzle of olive oil to each serving.

Try ladling this soup over a bowl of simply cooked whole grains (brown rice, barley, kamut, wheat berries, quinoa, or whole grain couscous), or serve each bowl of soup with a slice of whole grain bread. Add a big green salad – try mixed lettuces with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, sliced red onion and a light sprinkle of  feta, it’s a great match to the flavors of the soup.

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Shrimp in Caper Butter Sauce

Shrimp in Caper Butter Sauce
Serves 2
Can be Doubled| Can be Halved

This recipe is my take on the classic Italian lemon butter caper  sauce. Instead of using mounds of butter, I use a small amount of high-quality European style butter which tastes more indulgent and is creamier than the standard dairy aisle stuff.  I promise you, a little goes a long way. I’ve used shrimp here, but try this sauce with scallops, grilled chicken breast or any kind of light white fish such as tilapia or halibut. The instructions call for chopping the shrimp- I do this because I find that it picks up the sauce better than leaving it whole. The best part is that it takes less than five minutes to make and there is minimal chopping involved. There’s nothing better than that on these hot summer days!     ~Shivani

Ingredients:

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon of butter (European style butter such as Lurpak is far creamier than the regular kind)
1 teaspoon of capers
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)
chopped flat leaf parsley for garnish (optional)

Instructions:

Season shrimp with salt and pepper.

Warm a medium nonstick frying pan or grill pan coated with cooking spray over medium heat and cook shrimp until done, between 7 to 10 minutes. When done, chop it up into medium size chunks.

While the shrimp is cooking, melt butter over medium heat in a small nonstick frying pan.

Add lemon juice, garlic, capers and red chili flakes (if using).

Pour sauce over shrimp and garnish with flat leaf parsley.

Serving Suggestions:

Serve over a bed of quinoa as pictured here or couscous. Get your veggies in with a simple salad of your favorite vegetables and a balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing.

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Chilled Gazpacho Soup

chilled gazpacho soup lowfat recipe

Chilled Gazpacho Soup
Serves 2 – 3
Can be doubled | Can be halved

Sometimes, on a hot, humid day, coming up with an appetizing meal can be challenging. On days like that we make gazpacho. Run out to the garden (or farmers market), pick up the goods, grab a can of tomatoes from the pantry, and make a date with your blender! It’s easy, quick, and tastes like a delicious, zesty blended salad in a soup bowl. You can serve it as an appetizer or a salad course with a larger meal, but it’s also perfect as a light lunch or quick snack on its own. Being free of any fats or oils, and made primarily from fresh veggies and herbs along with a squeeze of lemon and some sea salt, it’s naturally cleansing and invigorating for the body. You just feel good after enjoying a bowl of fresh, homemade gazpacho.     ~ Susan

Ingredients:

1 medium cucumber – roughly chopped
1 red or yellow bell pepper – seeded and roughly chopped
1 green pepper – seeded and roughly chopped
1/2 of a large vidalia onion – roughly chopped
1 large or 2 smaller garlic cloves – minced
2 roma tomatoes (or equivalent – roughly chopped)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 14.5 oz can of whole tomatoes plus the juices – we really like Muir Glen brand
sea salt & fresh ground pepper to taste

Instructions:

Put everything except salt & pepper in a blender (in smaller batches if needed) and blend until nicely pureed, while still leaving a bit of texture left in the mix.

Season to taste with salt & pepper.

You might like it with more lemon added, which really livens up the whole flavor.

Serving Suggestions:

Gazpacho is perfect “as is” but you can jazz it up when serving with a drizzle of olive oil, a dash of cayenne pepper, and/or a garnish of fresh snipped herbs such as parsley, chives or scallions.

Toasted whole grain bread topped with a slice of cheese makes this a complete meal, and one you’ll probably be craving again soon!

For a gourmet appetizer serve small bowls of chilled gazpacho topped with chilled cajun-seasoned shrimp and a sprinkle of grilled corn kernels. Gorgeous and delicious.

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Turkey Kebabs

Turkey Kebabs
Serves 3 to 4
Can be Doubled| Can be Halved| Freezes Well| Makes Great Leftovers

Kebabs are one of my favorite foods because they’re so versatile- you can fold them inside a pita for a great lunch or serve them as an appetizer before dinner or make it your protein for your evening meal. And, a well made kebab is just so tasty. They’re a mainstay at Indian restaurants and across the Middle East and countries like Turkey and Egypt. Unfortunately, many restaurants, especially Indian ones, fold cream cheese into the kebab mixture to make them more moist or brush them with loads of butter or ghee while they cook. My recipe uses NO oil, NO breadcrumbs and NO other fatty additions. Cilantro, ginger, onion and cumin combine well here to create a kebab that shines with flavor and softness. You will be amazed how good and easy they are. I always make a double or triple batch of these and freeze the extras so they’re easily on hand. If you love kebabs like me, I suggest you do the same!     ~Shivani

Ingredients:

1 pound ground turkey breast (I love the hormone-free kind from Plainville Farms)
1 large bunch of cilantro, washed and finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper or green chili, finely chopped (leave the seeds in if you like more heat)
1 tablespoon of grated ginger
1 teaspoon of cumin powder
1 medium onion, finely chopped
salt, to taste
slivered red onions and lime juice for garnish
coriander and tamarind chutney for dipping (optional)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine all of the ingredients together well in a large bowl except for the garnish and chutneys.

Using slightly wet hands to prevent sticking, form 12 to 14 kebabs that are around three inches long, and place on a foil lined cookie sheet.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until done.

Squeeze with fresh lime juice and top with red onion before serving. You can also dip into chutneys.

Serving Suggestions:

Tuck into a whole wheat pita or roll up in a whole wheat tortilla for a great sandwich (spread some chutney’s inside for extra flavor) or serve alongside My Mother’s Gobi or Bindi ki Sabzi.

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Steel Cut Oats with Spinach & Poached Eggs

steel cut oats with spinach and poached eggs low fat recipe

Steel Cut Oats with Spinach & Poached Eggs
Serves 2
Can be doubled | Can be halved

Being a busy bistro owner/chef, on my feet all day long six days a week, and in my 6th month of pregnancy, I have to keep myself well nourished. Last Saturday morning, after a very busy Friday night dinner rush and only a few hours of sleep before returning to the kitchen at 7am, I needed some serious fuel. And so this delicious “power breakfast” came to be! The oats are rich in complex carbohydrates, spinach is loaded with iron and other important minerals, and the eggs provide a nice protein boost. One great thing about steel cut oats – you can cook up a larger batch and keep it in the fridge for a few days – single portions are easy to reheat. Just put some cooked oats in a pot with a little bit of water, stir on medium heat until hot, and serve. Try this savory combination in place of the more traditional sweet versions of oatmeal for a change, and you just might become hooked. I am!     ~ Susan

Ingredients:

1/2 cup dry steel cut oats – we use Bob’s Red Mill brand, the best we’ve ever had
1 1/2 cups water
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
3 cups tightly packed baby spinach leaves
4 eggs
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
chopped scallions for garnish
hot sauce for extra flavor – try Frank’s Red Hot sauce, it’s one of our faves!

Instructions:

Bring the 1 1/2 cups water to boil in a small pot with lid. Add steel cut oats and the 1/8 teaspoon sea salt, stir well, reduce heat to a very low simmer, cover and cook for about 30 minutes, until oats are done to your liking.

A few minutes before oats are done cooking, boil enough water in a medium saucepan to poach the four eggs. I like my poached eggs on the very soft side but a good rule of thumb is to give them about three minutes in the poaching water which will yield partially cooked yolks while still being somewhat soft.

Stir the spinach leaves into the steel cut oats, add a couple of tablespoons of water if necessary to help them mix in, and let the mixture sit, covered, with the heat turned off, for a couple of minutes.

Spoon the oat-spinach mixture into two serving bowls and top each with two poached eggs. Garnish with the chopped scallions and let each person add salt, pepper and hot sauce to their own taste.

Serving Suggestion:

This is truly a meal in a bowl! Start it off with some fresh fruit, add a cup of your favorite tea or coffee and you’ve got an excellent power breakfast to keep you going all morning long.

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Ground Turkey Breast Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Ground Turkey Breast Stuffed Poblano Peppers
Serves 3 to 4
Can be Doubled| Can be Halved| Makes Great Leftovers

I’m not exactly sure why had a craving for stuffed poblano peppers, but for a few weeks, I had been pining for a “Tablespoon” version of this classic Mexican dish. You’ll find it on Mexican restaurant menus as chiles rellenos- the peppers here are stuffed with cheese or fatty beef and sometimes deep fried before being topped with copious amounts of cheese. I love the very slight hint of spice from the peppers and also can’t get enough of Mexican spices like cumin and cilantro- no surprise since these are also staples in Indian food- but I’m not a fan of the calories and fat in the traditional version. Last week, I played around and came up with this recipe. Mahir, ever the skeptic, declared these as my best creation ever- I have to admit that’s pretty high praise from someone so particular! The end result looks impressive, but it’s really easy to put together. You’ll wow anyone who you serve this to even if it’s just for yourself!     ~Shivani

Ingredients:

1 pound ground turkey breast (I love the hormone-free kind from Plainville Farms)
6 to 8 poblano peppers, halved, cored and seeded
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of salt-free fajita seasoning (try the Spice Hunter brand) OR 1 teaspoon each of cumin power, coriander powder and garam masala
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (optional)
1 large handful of cilantro, finely chopped
3 to 4 tablespoons of pepper jack cheese

Instructions:

Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees.

While oven is heating, warm a large non-stick skillet over low to medium heat and coat with cooking spray.

Add garlic and onions, and cook until soft stirring frequently, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Add turkey and spices, and cook until meat is done stirring frequently, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Add tomatoes, and cook one more minute.

Mix in cilantro.

Fill the peppers with the turkey mixture. Place them on a foil lined cookie sheet and bake about 30 minutes or until peppers are soft.

Uncover, top evenly with cheese, and bake until cheese is melted- this will probably take 2 to 4 minutes.

Let sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 minuted before serving- this helps the peppers firm up.

Serving Suggestions

A side of brown rice tossed with cilantro and lime juice is good starch option. Get your vegetables in with a romaine lettuce salad that uses cucumbers, radish and jicama and a dressing of a olive oil, lemon juice and a little cumin.

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Tuna Salad with Green Apple, Red Onion, Parsley & Celery

tuna apple salad low carb

Tuna Salad with Green Apple, Red Onion, Parsley & Celery
Serves 2
Can be doubled | Can be halved | Makes great leftovers

This record breaking heat wave across the state of New York = lots of salads on the menu! Here’s my all-time favorite tuna salad. It’s got a great mixture of textures, colors and flavors. You can eat a large portion of this salad and still not get too full, because it’s mostly vegetables and apples with some tuna mixed in! We make up a double batch of this recipe every couple of weeks and enjoy two meals for two  from each one. Day 1: we put it over a salad for dinner. Day 2: the leftover tuna salad makes a great sandwich!      ~ Susan

Ingredients:

1 can chunk light tuna in water or skipjack tuna in water (lower in mercury than white albacore), or, check out American Tuna for a good, sustainable and safe-to-eat tuna
3/4 cup finely diced green apple
3/4 cup finely diced red onion
1/2 cup finely diced parsley
3/4 cup finely diced celery
1 tablespoon mayo of your choice
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions:

Open the can of tuna and drain only half the liquid into a small bowl.

Put tuna and remaining liquid in a mixing bowl and add all of the other ingredients.

Mix well, taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. If mixture seems too dry, add some of the remaining tuna liquid.

Serving Suggestions:

Serve tuna salad over a big bed of fresh greens with lemon wedges and a little drizzle of olive oil if you like.

Enjoy as a sandwich on whole grain bread with lots of lettuce piled on too!

I love it even more with a few dashes of hot sauce on top. I especially like Melinda’s original hot sauce for this one.

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Spinach, Leek and Mushroom Crepes

Spinach, Leek and Mushroom Crepes
Serves 2
Can be doubled| Can be halved

Mahir, Meenakshi and I are huge fans of masala omelets and were making them at least once a week for several months, but, as tasty as this spicy egg dish is, we were getting a little tired of the same old, same old.  I was about to make them again, but Mahir stopped me and said he wanted to try something new with eggs. He pulled out what we had in the fridge, and this crepe recipe was the result. It’s really delicious and something you would see at a top notch French restaurant but with loads of butter. The thinness of the crepe changes the texture of the eggs to something firmer but equally tasty- you might not even think you’re eating eggs at all. The combination of vegetables works harmoniously and makes this creation even healthier. We’ve entertained with this recipe for brunch several times, and our guests are always stunned by the impressive presentation and taste!     ~Shivani

Ingredients:

4 large eggs
2 leeks, thinly sliced
2 cups shitake mushroom caps, thinly sliced
5 to 10 ounces of fresh baby or regular spinach
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons of olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:

Warm the olive oil over medium heat in a medium-sized non-stick pan.

Add garlic and leeks and saute until leeks are soft, about two minutes.

Add spinach and mushrooms and cook for five minutes or until spinach is wilted and mushrooms are soft but not mushy.

Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Warm a large nonstick skillet over low to medium heat and lightly coat with cooking spray.

Beat two of the eggs lightly using a fork and season with salt and pepper.

Add eggs to pan and move pan so that the batter spreads evenly across the bottom of whole pan.

Cook 3 to 5 minutes or until done- the edges should be firm. They shouldn’t be overcooked or runny.

Fill the center with the veggie topping and gently fold edges over the topping.

Carefully slide off pan onto plate.

Repeat with the other two eggs.

Serving Suggestions:

A slice or two of whole wheat bread or a Food for Life English muffin is the way to go when eating these crepes. Spread them with a touch of butter, and you’ve got a satisfying pairing partner.

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Cool & Creamy Greek Yogurt Dip

cool and creamy yogurt dip lowfat recipe

Cool & Creamy Greek Yogurt Dip
Serves 2
Can be doubled | Can be halved | Makes great leftovers

This one’s a frequent snack in our house. It’s quick to make, delicious to eat, and good for you too! Greek yogurt (as opposed to American style plain yogurt) is the key ingredient for a nice thick dip, which mimics sour cream beautifully. We prefer Greek yogurt to sour cream not only because it’s so deliciously tangy and good for digestion, but also because when you want to make something lower in fat, a good quality low-fat or non-fat Greek yogurt is more wholesome than low-fat or non-fat sour cream (which has too many weird additives for our taste).  For a satisfying treat that you can feel good about eating, this is a perfect recipe. Veggies, crackers, chips, everything goes great with this dip!     ~ Susan

Ingredients:

1 cup low-fat or non-fat Greek yogurt – I’ve been loving Greek Gods brand lately
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon granulated onion
1/4 teaspoon Herbamare seasoned sea salt (or plain sea salt) – more or less to taste
1 teaspoon tamari soy sauce (I use San J wheat-free tamari to keep it gluten free)
optional – 2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions

Like it hotter? Add a tablespoon or two of chopped pickled jalapenos, a dash of cayenne pepper or some hot sauce to taste.

Instructions:

Put all the ingredients in a bowl, stir together until well blended. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking and start dipping!

Serving Suggestions:

A crudites of raw vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower, celery, carrots, peppers, snap peas, etc. is a great accompaniment to this dip, especially when you add the scallions to the mixture.

Any kind of crunchy cracker, crisp bread, or chip is a classic combination with a creamy dip.

It’s also perfect in place of sour cream on top of a baked potato.

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