Saturday, January 21, 2012

Pancakes for One

This morning I woke up to snow. As a Californian, born and raised, this is something I don't think I'll ever get used to. But I love it. 

The weather makes me want to stay at home and watch movies all day, and what better way to start a lazy Saturday than with pancakes?

Clearly I like mine with lots of banana.
The only problem with pancakes is that most recipes make enough for at least 6, so I set out to make a pancake recipe for 1 this morning. I also wanted them to be healthier, so I used whole wheat pastry flour and an egg white instead of a whole egg. Obviously a whole egg binds better, but the egg white actually did just fine.

Whole wheat pastry flour is amazing because it is whole wheat but performs like white flour. This means that it is not dense like normal wheat flour, but heartier and healthier for you than white flour. It's really the best of both worlds. However, I know that you can't buy this at many places, and especially not outside of the US, so if you can't find any, I would use half white flour and half wheat flour

You'll notice I used greek yogurt in the batter, specifically Fage, which is my favorite. I like the texture using yogurt gives pancakes. It makes them a bit spongier. Try it and let me know what you think. 

Pancakes for One
Makes 2 pancakes
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup non fat greek yogurt
1 egg white
2 tbsp almond milk
1 tbsp Splenda
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp vanilla
frozen berries, optional
maple syrup for serving

Directions: Mix the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking soda), then add the wet (yogurt, egg, almond milk, vanilla). Scoop 1/3 cup onto a hot pan, sprinkle frozen berries into the batter and cook until bubbles form. Flip and cook until golden brown. The key to perfect pancakes is to cook them slow and low. If you cook them too high, they will burn and the center will not cook. Be patient

This made two largish pancakes and was the perfect amount for one person, and the best part is, the entire batter comes out to only 200 calories, which is half as much as diner-style pancakes. Also, there are 15g protein in these pancakes! A powerful way to start your day indeed. 

Nutrition Info
For entire batter
Calories: 197 
Fat: 1.5g
Carbs: 32.9g
Fiber: 4g
Protein: 15g

Friday, January 20, 2012

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

This smoothie is delicious and protein-packed, thus the perfect pre-workout snack

I have the most amazing blender. It's a Vitamix 5000 and besides the fact that it can blend anything you can imagine, it also makes soup- how cool is that? When it comes to cooking, I'm old school though and still prefer to make soup in a pot. 

This smoothie (almost) fulfills your daily protein requirement. 

Anyway, back to the smoothie. The best part about smoothies is that you can quickly get in a bunch of servings of fruit and veg and even protein. I use a non-whey protein powder. The brand is 'Garden of Life' and it's completely vegan. Combined with the peanut butter I added, this smoothie packs a punch. 

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie
1 banana
1 tbsp peanut butter (or any nut butter)
1 cup almond milk
1 tbsp protein powder (any more, and you can taste it)
1 square dark chocolate (optional)
3-4 ice cubes

Blend ingredients and serve. 

Nutritional Info
Calories: 270
Fat: 11g
Carbs: 38g
Protein: 11g
Fiber: 5g

Note: Depending on your daily caloric intake, snacks should be between 150 and 250 calories, so this is on the higher end of the spectrum. But considering how much protein and fiber this includes, and assuming you'll work out afterwards, it isn't bad. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

No Oil Split Pea Soup

I'm back in New York but extremely jet-lagged and don't even feel like I should be blogging right now because I probably won't make any sense. I didn't get any sleep last night so I feel loopy. 

However, I immediately went grocery shopping and whipped up this delicious, healthy, no oil split pea soup so I'd have something to warm me up this week. 

I love split pea soup because you don't have to use much (or any) oil for the soup to become really creamy and indulgent tasting. And the main ingredient (the peas) can come from your freezer, so it's an easy thing to make without having lots of fresh ingredients on hand. I've never made this with fresh peas but I can imagine it would be even more yummy. 

Sorry for the photo! My camera's broken. 
The whole 'no oil' thing might worry some of you, but honestly you can't tell at all. I feel like I should do a blind taste test to prove it, but maybe just trust me on this one. If you'd like, feel free to sauté the onions in a teaspoon or two of oil, but I'd recommend trying it this way first. 

No Oil Split Pea Soup
Serves 7
Recipe adapted from Weight Watchers website
1/2 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bunch leeks, cleaned and chopped*
2 cups Yukon Gold potatoes, diced
1 bag frozen peas (16 oz)
1 no-chickn' bouillon cube
4 cups water
salt and pepper to taste

For yogurt topping:
1/2 cup fat free Greek yogurt
2 tbsp chopped dill
salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Saute the onions in a thin layer of water until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add the leeks, potatoes, bouillon cube and water. Bring to a boil, then simmer until vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the peas and cook for a few more minutes. Meanwhile mix the ingredients for the yogurt topping and set aside. Puree the soup once it has cooled a bit. Serve soup with a dollop of yogurt topping. 

*Be careful with leeks, as they tend to hide a lot of sand within them. I recommend chopping, then running under lots of cold water. 

Nutrition Information: 
Calories: 106 
Fat: .9g
Carbs: 19.8g
Protein: 5.3g

Friday, January 13, 2012

Sugar-Free Low-fat Mini Cheesecakes

A lot of you have been waiting for this recipe for a while and I'm sorry for the delay. Time seems to get away from me easily these days. 

The almonds add a nice touch to the crust. 
This recipe was inspired by one I found on the Weight Watchers website, but I tinkered with it to make it even lower in fat and sugar free. Luckily this is one of those recipes that is just as great with Splenda. What's nice about these is that I believe they are the perfect serving. Enjoying one of these after dinner won't throw you off your healthy eating plan by any means. And even if you eat two, you've only consumed around 200 calories (one is around 110 calories) of dessert, which is much less than any other cheesecake you'll find on the market. 

I actually believe I can make these even lower in fat, and I've been meaning to get around to trying again, but haven't had the chance. Maybe in the next few weeks I'll be able to, but until then, if you have a craving for a delicious, healthier cheesecake, I highly recommend this recipe. 

Sugar-free Lowfat mini Cheesecakes
4 tbsp butter, melted (3 might be enough)
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs or, if in Istanbul, 1 packet 'sekersiz mavi yesil
1/4 cup crushed almonds
100 g or 7/8* cup full-fat cream cheese
200 g or ~1 cup  low-fat cream cheese
3 tbsp lemon juice
1.5 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup splenda
2 large egg whites

Directions: Heat oven to 375 degrees F or 190 degrees C. 

Mix melted butter with crushed graham cracker crumbs and almonds in a small bowl. Distribute this mixture among a cupcake pan either greased or lined with paper cupcake liners. You should get about 12. Refrigerate until ready to use. 

In another larger bowl combine cream cheeses (both kinds) until fluffy. I used a handheld mixer here, which works better than by hand. If you do by hand, make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature or it'll be tough to mix. Next, add lemon juice, egg whites and vanilla to the mixture and beat a little more. Pour cream cheese mixture over crushed cookie mixture. 

Bake for 15 minutes. 

Note: with cheesecake it's hard to tell when it's 'done' so just go by the time provided. If the tops begin to brown you left it in too long or your oven doesn't heat accurately (which can happen over time! An oven thermometer can help you gauge this). 

*I happened to use grams as a measurement for this recipe while making so if you have a kitchen scale, go with that, as I'm not 100% sure the cup measurements are spot on. 

I enjoyed mine with a side of sour cherries, which were delicious and cut the creaminess a bit. Bananas work well also. 

For any Weight Watchers people out there, one of these is 4 points. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Shrimp and Mushroom Fajitas

Wow, I can't believe it's been two whole weeks since I've written. One of my New Year's Resolutions will definitely be to write more. It's been incredibly hectic around here; between spending time with my family, my friends and my boyfriend, I feel like I barely have any time for the blog. I have been cooking and baking though, so I have a number of recipes lined up to share with you guys. 

This fajita recipe I created the other night was so fabulous, it's too bad the photo doesn't do it justice at all. I really think I might have to take an informal photography lesson from one of my talented photographer friends soon to really take this blog up a notch! 

So, this recipe was really easy, came together in under 30 minutes and can be adapted to whatever ingredients you have on hand. 

I'm not a big fan of shrimp. They remind me of little babies curled up, but for some reason I was craving it the other day. Actually this is something I want to talk about more in length in another blog post- I feel like I've been craving protein a lot more recently. Much more than normal. Which for me, translates into eating a lot of fish, being that I'm a pescatarian. I know that my body sends signals for certain reasons, so I'd be interested to get a check-up or blood work and see if everything is in order (maybe my iron is low or something?) Do any of you go through phases where you crave more of something? I don't mean chocolate :)

Shrimp and Mushroom Fajitas
1/4 lb fresh, deveined and cleaned shrimp
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 white onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup salsa, any kind
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp tomato paste
whole wheat tortillas
your choice of cheese

Directions: Saute the onions in olive oil until soft and translucent. Add the bell peppers and continue cooking until soft. Add the mushrooms and garlic and sauté for an additional 10 minutes until mushrooms have browned. Add salsa, tomato paste and cumin and let cook down a bit. Add shrimp at the last minute as they cook fast. Allow to cook for 3 minutes if you like them barely cooked like I do, or at least 5 minutes if you like them cooked a bit more. Toast tortillas either in a pan or in a toaster, add a sprinkling of either mozzarella or cheddar (or whatever you have on hand), spoon fajita mixture over and serve. 

The best kind of avocado. Photo credit
These fajitas were a great vehicle for lots of veggies (mushrooms! red and green peppers!) and were so delicious I think they might become a weeknight staple. The key here is the salsa which adds so much flavor you really don't have to do much yourself. When I go back to the states I might like to try this with a green salsa instead of red, just to mix things up. 

I can imagine this would work just as good with cubed seared tofu or canned black beans so feel free to swap whatever you have

And obviously if I had fresh delicious avocado on hand, I would have cubed some on top of this, but I didn't and the avocados in Istanbul tend to be flavorless anyway. I prefer Hass avocados which have a black and bumpy exterior, but aren't sold here. 

My awesome followers!