Spinach-Tomato Quiche with a Quinoa Crust

IMGP2007The spouse and I find ourselves increasingly cutting back on meat and eating more vegetarian meals. So I am always surfing around the internet looking for interesting recipes that include quinoa and/or beans.

This dish began when I surfed onto the “Gazing In” blog where author Sarah had created a toil-free quinoa crust while developing her Spinach Quinoa Quiche.

How, you may be wondering, can a crust be toil-free? Here’s how: By adding uncooked quinoa to a liquid mixture where, during cooking, the grain falls to the bottom and thickens. Neat, huh? I also found that the quinoa crust kept thickening even when quiche leftovers took a time out in the refrigerator.

Sarah’s recipe looked good and easy, but it didn’t suit someone with lactose sensitivity who was dieting. Thus began my adaptation: Using non-cow dairy products, switching to liquid egg substitute, cutting back on the cheese, and making up for the missing cheese by adding pizza sauce for a tomato flavour, etc.

So, here it is—a tasty, dieter’s vegetarian dish that’s easy as pie…er, quiche!

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“Smoothie” Sailing!

Spinach Smoothie

Does the food blogosphere need yet another smoothie recipe? Probably not, but bear with me, please. There is method to my madness.

The smoothie story begins on the July 1 weekend when we were celebrating Canada Day on our boat with 3 grandchildren (all early teens) and one daughter.

We were having a grand time until a stomach flu swept through the boat in the middle of the night. I’ll spare you the grim details but it involved throwing up and fevers.

The only positive note was that I lost 5½ lbs.!

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Tomato Soup with Spinach Meatballs

As the weather gets colder, my taste buds yearn for hot, hearty soups.  This tomato soup is thick, rich, aromatic, and a dinner unto itself.  Two things set it apart from spaghetti sauce: the emphasis on fresh basil (it has no oregano), and the meatballs are made of spinach and three types of meat, rather than just beef.

This dish can be eaten simply as a soup or with noodles or rice.  If you’re dieting and want to add noodles, consider using shirataki which is almost pure fiber and won’t add to your calorie count.  Also, you can make the soup thicker (as I did) by using canned crushed tomatoes as well as diced tomatoes.

I was making this soup with two of my grandchildren who are avid beginner cooks.  To keep them busy and feed their early teen appetites, I decided to triple the meatball mixture called for in the original recipe.  Feel free to cut back if you prefer.

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Lemon Lentils with Spinach

I love the taste and dense richness of legumes and that doesn’t even count all the healthy nutrients they contain.  So when this recipe appeared in our local paper, courtesy of a restaurant chef in Calgary, I had to try it—with alterations, of course.  In addition to not using oil for sautéing, I increased the fresh spinach.  Why use only one cup when you can use four and reduce the calorie count per serving at the same time?  It’s a no-brainer for a food refashionista. 

According to the recipe, this dish will serve 6-8 as an accompaniment to lamb or chicken, but I used it as a main dish for lunch as it is filling and satisfying and got four 1-cup servings. 

This recipe also came with some restaurant touches (generated by a cook with lots of time and a larder full of ingredients) such as julienned onion and spices that begin as seeds and are toasted and then ground.  I’ve indicated this in the recipe below, but you can always just chop the onions and, if you’re like me and don’t have seeds only ground spices, you can use those.  This is not to say that looks aren’t important or that toasting the cumin and coriander seeds might not add an additional layer of subtlety and make this dish even more delicious—just that you can improvise with what you have.

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Makes 4 1-cup servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. chicken broth powder + ½ cup water or ½ cup chicken broth
  • 1 medium yellow onion, julienned (to do this just cut the onion into strips)
  • 4 tsp. minced garlic
  • 4 tsp. minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp. toasted and ground coriander seed (or just ground coriander)
  • 1 tbsp. toasted and ground cumin seed (or just ground cumin)
  • 1 tsp. ancho chili powder
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1½ cups red or yellow lentils, picked over and rinsed 
  • 1 lemon, skin washed
  • ¼ cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp. garam masala
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 cups packed fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • Goat yogurt as a garnish

Directions

  1. Heat chicken broth powder + water mixture or chicken broth over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, garlic, and ginger and stir until onions are tender.
  3. Add spices: cumin, coriander, chili powder, and cinnamon stick.
  4. Stir for 3-5 minutes, or until fragrant (if the pan gets dry, add a little water).
  5. Add broth and lentils.
  6. Cut lemon in half and squeeze juice into the pot.  Then add rest of lemon as well.
  7. Stirring often to prevent sticking, bring pot to simmer over medium-low heat for 30-40 minutes until lentils are cooked.  (Add more broth if lentils are getting dry but not yet cooked.)
  8. Remove cinnamon stick and lemon halves.
  9. Stir in cilantro, garam masala, and spinach.
  10. Cook until spinach is wilted.
  11. Top each serving with a dollop of yogurt.

For Weight Watchers: A 1-cup serving is 3 points on both the Points and PointsPlus plans.

 (Adapted from a recipe by Chef Andy Bujak, Boxwood Cafe, Calgary.)

Crustless Chicken/Turkey Quiche

My husband and I have a small cabin cruiser, called the Outrageous, which we use as a moveable cottage in the lakes near Ottawa.  We’ve been boating for 20 years and love to anchor or tie up somewhere and enjoy the sun, nature, wildlife, and living without a computer for a few days.

So, you’re asking, what does this have to do with refashioning food? 

Well, to make a long story short, the boat’s galley (kitchen) is the size and shape of a shower stall.  (In the photo, the 2nd porthole in the bow of the boat is the galley’s window.) In it is a scaled-down refrigerator, a microwave, and a cooktop with three burners, except that I can only use one burner at a time because our inboard generator can’t handle more.  Not surprisingly, I prepare as much food as I can at home beforehand, such as washing salad greens, making a quick bread, steaming broccoli, mixing up a batch of spaghetti sauce, and so on.

After a recent trip for which I had roasted a plump chicken, we came home with leftovers.  Needless to say, the allure of chicken had worn quite thin so I decided on a gustatorial disguise—a crustless quiche made with Swiss chard, mushrooms, and sheep romano cheese. Voilà!  The rich, dark taste of the vegetables and the sharpness of the cheese completely overpowered the white and dark chicken meat hidden within.  Oh, and it was delicious too!

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Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

    • 8 oz. cooked chicken or turkey
    • 1 bunch Swiss chard or spinach (I used Swiss chard and had 8 cups worth)
    • 1 cup water
    • ½ cup of chicken broth or 2 tbsp. chicken broth powder + ½ cup water
    • 2 tsp. garlic, minced
    • 1 small yellow onion, diced
    • 8 oz. of sliced mushrooms, any type
    • Spices of your choice (I used 2 tsp. of chopped fresh sage)
    • 1 cup liquid egg substitute (approx. 4 regular eggs)
    • ½ cup sheep romano cheese, grated
    • ¼ – ½ cup soy milk or other alternative milk, if necessary
    • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. Chop cooked chicken into small pieces and put in a large bowl.
  2. Prepare chard by soaking in cold water to clean and removing hard stems.  Drain and then cut in two steps: first lengthwise (creating ribbons); then crosswise, chopping coarsely.
  3. Put chard in a saucepan, add 1 cup of water, and cover.  Cook for about 10 minutes over medium heat until leaves are wilted.  Drain and press out additional water.
  4. In a non-stick frying pan, heat chicken broth until bubbling.  
  5. Sauté garlic, onions, mushrooms, and spices in broth until soft.
  6. In the bowl containing the chicken, add all other ingredients: drained chard, sautéd onion and mushroom mixture, egg substitute, and cheese.  (If your mixture seems too thick, you can add ½ cup of milk.)
  7. Spray 10″ x 10″ pan and pour mixture into it. (I wasn’t sure I could fit the mixture into a 10″ pie plate.)
  8. Bake in 350°F oven and cook for 40-45 minutes or until dish is set and edges are brown.

For Weight Watchers: One serving is 4 points on the Points plan and PointsPlus plans.  Note: If you want to add milk, the addition will not significantly affect the point count.

(Adapted from “Swiss Chard and Mushroom Squares” at Kalyn’s Kitchen blog.  Thank you, Kalyn!)

Egg-White Omelette with Spinach and Tomato

A dieter’s dream omelette that—and I was amazed—tasted as if it were made from whole eggs: in other words, delicious!

The original recipe called for less vegetables but, in the spirit of more-vegetables-are-better, I added green onions and used an entire package of spinach rather than the called-for cup of loosely packed spinach leaves.

I knew that this would create a lot of filling and likely mean I wouldn’t have a  picture-perfect omelette, but damn such consequences, I say.  I’d rather have a diet-perfect omelette.  Full speed ahead!

By the way, eggs and spinach seem to be a match made in heaven, but you could try this with other vegetables and, if you don’t mind some additional calories, use soft goat cheese instead of sheep romano.

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Lentil Lover’s Soup

 A hearty and filling peasant soup chock full of lentils, tomato, and spinach that is fast and easy to make.  The original recipe also called for 2 Thai, cayenne, or serranco chiles—that’s too hot for me, but might be perfect for you.

 A great accompaniment to this soup is either Yummy, Tummy-Friendly, Sugar-Free Cornbread or Sweet Quinoa Cornbread

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Full of lentils, tomatoes, and spinach.

Full of lentils, tomatoes, and spinach

 

  Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  •  1 tbsp. minced garlic
  •  2 cups of cooked lentils
  • 4-6 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 ½ cups of diced tomatoes with liquid
  • 2 (8-10 oz.) bags of spinach, rinsed and coarsely chopped
  • Salt

Directions

 

  1. In large pot, mix onion, garlic and lentils with 4 cups of chicken broth.
  2. Heat to boiling and then simmer.
  3. Add tomatoes (and chillies, if desired).
  4. Cover pot and simmer until flavours are blended, about 15 minutes.
  5. If soup is thick, stir in 1-2 cups of broth.
  6. Stir in spinach and simmer until wilted.
  7. If necessary, add more chicken broth if the soup is still too thick for you.
  8. Salt to taste.

For Weight Watchers: Only the lentils have a point-value—a total of 8 points for the entire pot of soupon both the Points and PointsPlus plans.  I ended up with 12 cups of soup so a 1-cup serving would be .5 points.

 

(Adapted from “Lentil-Spinach Soup” in Best of Weight Watchers Magazine.)