Tag Archives: yogurt

Healthy Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip

30 Apr

Canada’s Food Guide recommends that we eat 7 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. For many people, getting in enough fruit is no problem. Sweet and portable, it makes an easy snack. Vegetables, on the other hand, tend to be harder to squeeze in. That’s where an easy, yet tasty and healthy dip comes in handy.

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When I don’t have the energy to plan out my lunches for the week, I tend to throw together a picnic of sorts. This usually consists of an easy protein like hard boiled eggs or canned tuna, whole grain bread or crackers, and two to three cups of chopped veggies with dip to meet my daily quota. But it’s hard to find a truly healthy vegetable dip. Most are mayo or sour cream-based, and loaded with fat and calories. So I turned to the Internet in search of a tasty yet healthy make-at-home option.

I was initially drawn to this ranch seasoning recipe because of the blogger’s stunning photos (which I poorly tried to recreate at home). But once I tried it out, it became clear that this recipe is a winner. Buttermilk powder forms the base (found at bulk food stores) and is pumped up with onion and garlic powder, and dried herbs like parsley, dill, and chives. As a bonus, the seasoning mix can be made in bulk and stored in the fridge to be used whenever you need a quick and easy dip.

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Low-fat Greek yogurt is the perfect foundation for any vegetable dip. It’s thick and creamy, yet low calories and high in protein. For the best flavour, I’ve found that adding a dollop of light mayo adds just the right amount of tang for a next-level vegetable dip. Low-fat sour cream can also act as a healthier dip base, but lacks the nutritional boost that Greek yogurt offers.

If you’re not meeting your recommended daily vegetable quota, try throwing together a batch of this skinny ranch dip. It will make raw veggies sing!

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Healthy Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip

2 tbsp homemade ranch seasoning mix (see below)
1 cup 2% plain greek yogurt
2 tbsp light mayonnaise

  1. Mix ingredients in a small bowl until combined. Can be served immediately or left overnight for flavours to meld.

Makes 1-1/4 cups. Per 1/4 cup serving: 91 kcal, 3.3 g fat (1.4 g saturated), 7 g carbohydrate, 0.5 g fibre, 8 g protein, 106 mg sodium

 

Homemade Ranch Seasoning Mix (from www.gimmesomeoven.com)
1/3 cup dried buttermilk powder
2 tbsp dried parsley
1-1/2 tsp dried dill weed
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp dried onion flakes
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried chives
1 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients together in a medium bowl. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 months.

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Loaf Potion #9: Cranberry Orange Nut Loaf with Zucchini and Carrot

14 Feb

Happy Valentine’s Day! February is heart month, where national organizations in both Canada and the US strive to increase awareness of heart disease. In addition to achieving a healthy body weight (check here to see where you’re at) and being physically active, diet plays an important role in reducing your risk for heart disease. Limiting sodium, saturated fat, and trans fats can help prevent heart disease along with increasing your intake of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, fish, nuts, and soy.

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Instead of making E’s favourite brownies for Valentine’s Day, I decided I would switch things up (much to his dismay) and make a healthy loaf full of whole grains, vegetables, and nuts— all for a happy heart. This loaf recipe has been one of my favourites since I discovered it many years ago. Grated carrots and zucchini add a hint of colour and texture, dried cranberries add a pop of sweetness, and the addition of orange zest and juice seem to bring all of  the flavours together really nicely. It tastes good the day it’s made, but even better the next, so make this loaf a day in advance for maximum flavour.

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In my opinion, there’s no better way to say “I love you” than with a heart-healthy loaf this Valentine’s Day. Or at least that’s what I keep telling E…

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Loaf Potion #9: Cranberry Orange Nut Loaf with Zucchini and Carrot
(from The Looneyspoons Collection)

1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour (the original recipe calls for all-purpose flour)
2/3 cup oat bran
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup chopped dried cranberries
1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
2 teaspoons orange zest
1 cup grated carrot
1 cup grated, unpeeled zucchini

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 9×5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray or coat lightly with oil. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, oat bran, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Make sure you get all of the lumps out of the brown sugar. Stir in cranberries and nuts.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, eggs, orange juice concentrate, and orange zest. Stir in carrots, and zucchini. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix just until dry ingredients are moistened.
  4. Spoon batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Bake on middle oven rack for 45 to 50 minute, or until loaf is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in centre of loaf comes out clean.
  5. Cool loaf in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove loaf from pan and cool completely on rack. Cover with plastic wrap and store at room temperature or in fridge. To serve, cut loaf into 8 thick slices, then cut each slice in half (this is easier than trying to cut into 16 thin slices!)

Makes 1 large loaf (16 slices). Per slice: 150 kcal, 5.3 g fat (0.8 g saturated), 24 g carbohydrate, 2.6 g fibre, 268 mg sodium, 4 g protein

Peachy Keen Whole Wheat Banana Muffins

20 Aug

Rarely has a day passed over the past month where my fridge or counter has been devoid of peaches.   We’re in the middle of peach season in Southern Ontario and I’ve been buying them by the basket since the first crop of the season popped up at the end of July.  My peach-a-day habit hasn’t led to taste fatigue but it’s definitely becoming more challenging to finish up an entire basket before the soft flesh starts to bruise and the skin starts to wrinkle.  So when I came across this banana muffin recipe last week calling for berries, I figured I’d swap in chopped peaches for a delightful treat.

With minimal added sugar and no added fat, I was surprised that these muffins turned out as sweet and moist as they did.  The chunks of peach are a pleasant surprise when you bite into the muffin, although the recipe would be just as good with blueberries or raspberries.  My only complaint is that the muffins didn’t rise very well, likely because of the extra liquid that accompanied the chopped peaches when I added them to the batter.

Hidden treasures of peachy goodness

Baskets of Ontario pears were spotted nestled alongside the peaches at the grocery store last week and I’m already drooling as I think of the possibilities.  I could really go for a pear, beet, and goat cheese salad right about now…

Not a perfect looking muffin, but tasty all the same

 

Whole Wheat Banana Peach Muffins
(adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health)

1-1/2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (about 4 bananas)
1/2 cup plain non-fat yogurt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp honey
1-1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 cup peeled, diced peaches (about 2 small peaches) or fresh or frozen raspberries or blueberries

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly oil a 12-cup muffin tin or line it with papers.
  2. In a mixing bowl, stir together the mashed bananas, yogurt, eggs, vanilla, and honey.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt and stir in the wheat germ.  Fold the dry ingredients into the wet mixture just until combined.  Add the peaches and gently fold into the batter (note: if using berries, toss with 2 tsp whole wheat flour to coat  before adding to the batter).
  3. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins and fill to the brims.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.  Muffins will keep in a well-covered containers for several days.

Makes 12 muffins.  Per muffin: 111 kcal, 1 g fat, 3 g fibre, 22 g carbohydrate, 4 g protein, 283 mg sodium.

Homemade Tart Frozen Yogurt

14 Aug

Summer has been here for awhile but it feels like the blissful, laissez-faire days have only just begun.   If my less-than-impressive blogging track record wasn’t enough of a hint, the past few months were busily spent working towards finishing my internship.  Now that I’m officially done my training I have some free time to give my neglected appliances and cookbooks a bit of TLC before I enter the real world of work.

Frozen treats scream SUMMER! so what better way to celebrate the season than with the purchase of an ice cream maker?  Every magazine and blog that I’ve read over the past few weeks has featured delectable frozen recipes that I haven’t been able to make without this very specialized appliance.  A new machine wasn’t in the cards given my lack of income.  Coincidentally, a friend recently held a yard sale to prepare for her move to England so I was able to scoop up (no pun intended) her quality, barely-used ice cream maker for a bargain.

The plot (er, frozen yogurt) thickens…

The plan was to make peach frozen yogurt.  After realizing that my local Ontario peaches aren’t quite ripe enough, I opted for a basic tart yogurt similar to those found at self-serve FroYo joints.  I reduced the amount of sugar by a touch but the recipe could have easily used less.  The final product was soft and creamy, sweet yet tart.  Plus, it contained a whopping 12 grams of protein per serving thanks to the Greek yogurt.  A solid first attempt.  My next endeavor will be a little bit more more exotic… perhaps banana coconut or dark chocolate cherry. I’m open to suggestions!  E suggested a savory treat… salmon ice cream, anyone?

The final product! Homemade FroYo

Peach frozen yogurt came to fruition after all

 

Homemade Tart Frozen Yogurt
(adapted from FoodNetwork.com)

2 cups plain, whole-milk (3%) yogurt
2 cups plain, non-fat or low-fat (2%) Greek yogurt
1/3 cup superfine sugar
3 tbsp light or white corn syrup

Whisk all ingredients in a large bowl to combine.  Pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.

For a soft consistency, serve right out of the ice cream maker.  For a firmer texture, transfer the frozen yogurt to a covered container and freeze before serving.

Makes 4 and a half cups.  Per 3/4 cup (2 scoop) serving made with 2% Greek yogurt: 190 kcal, 4 g fat, 12 g protein.

N.B. If you don’t own an ice cream maker, a fabulous frozen treat can be made by pureeing frozen, chopped bananas with a small amount of milk to form a smooth, soft-serve consistency.  If you’re feeling really exotic, use coconut milk or chocolate milk, or add cocoa powder to taste. 

Heart Healthy Apple Muffins with Oat Bran and Dates

4 Nov

As many of you know, apples are one of my favourite foods.  Crunchy, sweet-yet-tart, and very satisfying.  I won’t ramble on about the health benefits, but you know what they say: an apple a day…

When my friend Steph asked if I wanted to go apple picking with her earlier this fall, I enthusiastically gave her a big YES!!!! I’d never been apple picking before but it has been on my autumn “to-do” list for several years now.  So, a couple of weekends ago we braved the GTA traffic and drove up to an orchard in Brampton to spend the afternoon picking (and eating) apples with our other friend Steph and my sister J.

Random lady who wanted her photo taken + the girls with Mutsu apples

I was surprised by the size of the trees– I fully expected that ladders would be involved!  Instead, the trees were relatively short and most of the apples were within reach.  First we picked some large, crisp, sweet Mutsu apples that were practically the size of our heads.  Then we moved on to the Ida Red trees, which yield a tart apple that is great for baking.  Although I wasn’t planning on doing a ton of baking in the near future, these apples keep for 6 months in the fridge so I picked quite a few.  Finally, we moved onto one of my favourite eating apples: the Empire.  They taste just like a nice crispy version of the MacIntosh apple… none of that mealy nonsense that you sometimes get with Macs!  For useful info on various apples and their uses, click here.

Mutsu trees

Ida Red apples

I now have 2+ drawers full of apples in my fridge.  Maybe I was a little overzealous with my picking, but at least this means I won’t have to lug home apples from the grocery store for another month or two.

Recently, a recipe for reeeeeeally healthy-looking muffins caught my eye and tonight I was eager to give them a try.  I must admit, the recipe looked almost TOO wholesome to be true.  No oil, lots of oat bran, and no brown or granulated sugar.  I was also a bit skeptical as the batter came together– it did not look like anything I’d ever seen before!  It was loose rather than cohesive… but I packed the “batter” into the muffin tins and popped them into the oven, hoping for the best.  In the end, everything seemed to meld together in the oven and the muffins turned out wonderfully.  There was just the perfect amount of sweetness from the molasses, dates, and apples, and lots of that hearty whole-grain texture from the oats and oat bran.  Something tells me these muffins won’t last long… I’ve already eaten 3 tonight!

Apple Muffins with Oat Bran and Dates

 

Apple Muffins with Oat Bran and Dates  (from Moosewood Restaurant: Cooking for Health)

1/2 cup plain non-fat yogurt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp molasses
3/4 cup finely chopped dates  (or chopped raisins/dried cranberries)
1 cup oat bran
2 cups finely chopped apples
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt   (I would reduce this to 1/4 tsp next time…)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup rolled oats
2 tbsp ground flaxseed

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together yogurt, eggs, vanilla, and molasses.  Stir in the dates, oat bran, and apples.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, rolled oats, and ground flaxseed.  Fold the dry mixture into the wet mixture until just combined.
  4. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean.  Cool in tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove muffins from tin and allow to cool fully on rack.  Muffins will keep in an airtight container for several days.

Makes 12 muffins.  Per muffin: 110 kcal, 3 g fibre, 2 g fat, 276 mg sodium

The Mighty Caesar

31 Aug

My apologies… this post is WAY overdue!  I made this Caesar Salad to accompany the Eggplant Parmesan from a week ago (er, two weeks ago) and I haven’t gotten around to posting the recipe until now.  The past couple of weeks have been busy– I had to pack up my kitchen into boxes, deal with frustrating movers, then try to find new homes for my gadgets while tripping over half-empty boxes and partially assembled furniture in my new “big city” apartment.  On the bright side, the unpacking is now done (ish) and I will be able to eat, drink, and be merry in my new space. Hurrah!

Enough of me, now onto the Caesar Salad.  I decided to call this the MIGHTY Caesar because the oil found in your typical Caesar dressing is replaced with cottage cheese and plain yogurt– good sources of protein and calcium, respectively– which will help make you… mighty!

As long as you have a food processor or a blender on hand, this dressing is a cinch to prepare and is so much healthier than traditional Caesar dressing.  I really like the tartness that the plain yogurt adds, although I must say that I’ve fooled a picky eater or two who thought this dressing made the salad taste just like “normal” Caesar salad.  See if you can fool your guests!

I love making Cajun croutons to accompany this Caesar dressing.  They, too, are incredibly easy to make and definitely beat the butter-laden store-bought kind.  Instead of bacon, I toasted a handful of sliced almonds in a dry pan over medium heat just until they were aromatic and a golden brown. Right before taking them off the heat, I added a splash of soy sauce and stirred quickly to coat.  The saltiness and crunchiness of the almonds made them taste almost like bacon bits (okay, maybe not) and complemented the salad well.
 

A Mighty Caesar Salad


 
Light Caesar Salad Dressing  (from EatingWell.com)

1 clove garlic, crushed
1/3 cup cottage cheese (1%)
1/2 cup plain non-fat yogurt
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
5 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon of salt, or to taste (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper

Puree garlic and cottage cheese in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Add yogurt, Parmesan, white wine vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce and pulse to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Makes about 1 cup.  Per 3 tbsp serving: 45 kcal, 1.6 g fat, 150 mg sodium

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Cajun Croutons  (from Cooking Light Magazine, July 1995)

2 cups whole wheat bread, cubed (I like to use whole wheat buns– you get a better crust to interior ratio!)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon Cajun seasoning

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a baking sheet with foil sprayed with cooking spray.

In a medium glass bowl, microwave oil, garlic, and Cajun seasoning on high for 40 to 60 seconds.  Add bread and toss well to coat.  Spread onto prepared baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, checking frequently to ensure bread doesn’t burn.

Makes about 2 cups of croutons.