Tag Archives: vegetables

Veguary day 11: healthy pizza time!

The other day I posted about making healthy swaps so you can still eat the foods you love. Because, really, who wants to live on salads forever and ever? Even if they are freaking delicious. One of my favourite swaps was introduced to me by my friend Chris at a pizza-making party (four people and a bottle of wine makes it a party, right?): using lebanese bread as pizza bases!

1 standard pizza base: 657 calories
1 piece of wholemeal lebanese bread: 287 calories

How good is that? It means you can eat twice as much pizza and still be consuming less calories than if you were using normal pizza bases. And this is for the full-size pita pockets, not the mini versions, although if you’re cooking for one and don’t want to make leftovers, you can always use those instead. Not only is wholemeal pita much lower-GI than traditional pizza bases (meaning you’ll get longer-lasting energy from them, and feel fuller for longer) but they’re physically thinner too, so your topping-to-bread ratio is much better. And I’m sure we all know that making food at home is better for you than if you were to buy takeaway pizza… for comparison’s sake, a veggie pizza from Pizza Hut packs a delightful 1472 calories. Eeek. Anyway, I love making homemade pizza – it’s so easy, you can add whatever toppings you feel like and/or have in the fridge, and next-day-pizza is famous for being just as good (if not better) than fresh from the oven!

Here are a couple I made the other night – a traditional veggie pizza and a slightly more ‘pizza nouveau’ option. You might as well make two pizzas at once for a bit of variety – if you’re an omnivore, you can do one with meat or one without, or if not you can do what I did and go for a tomatoey one and a cheesy one.

 

 

Image

 

Pumpkin and ricotta pizza

  • Half a butternut pumpkin
  • Light ricotta
  • Grated parmesan (or any other sharp cheese)
  • Grated mozzarella
  • 1 large wholemeal pita pocket

Preheat your oven to 180C. Roughly chop the pumpkin, cover with water and microwave for 5 minutes. Add a good sprinkling of parmesan and mozzarella to the ricotta (enough to thickly cover your pita bread) and combine. Drain pumpkin and mash roughly. Spread the cheese mixture on the pita, top with pumpkin mash and season with pepper and any herbs you have lying around. Bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes or until the pita is golden and slightly crispy.

Roast veggie pizza

  • 1 large portabella mushroom
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1/2 eggplant
  • 1 red capsicum
  • 1/2 small tub pizza sauce (I’m a Leggo’s girl, myself)
  • Grated mozzarella
  • 1 large wholemeal pita pocket.

Preheat your oven to 180C. Slice veggies thinly and roast in the oven for 15 minutes or until slightly softened. Spread pizza sauce on your pita. Add veggies, top with mozzarella, season with pepper and herbs, and bake for a further 5-10 minutes or until the veggies are soft and the pita is golden and crispy.

Serve with a side salad (or perhaps some cauliflower soup!) and enjoy the smug satisfaction of having made something delicious and super healthy. Smug face, GO!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Veguary day 6: Veggie soft tacos

I’ve already spoken about my obsession with soft tacos. I never understood how great they were until I left home and started cooking for myself. There’s no need for a side dish or any planning whatsoever – just chuck things into a tortilla and devour. My non-Veguary standard easy dinner is composed of: 2 soft tacos, 100g prawns (both of which can be kept in the freezer), enchilada sauce, spinach, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, capsicum, garlic and chilli (all of which I always have on hand in the fridge). The vegetarian version takes a little more forethought, but not much! It’s inspired (read: stolen) from Mad Mex, one of those Mexican ‘nouveau takeaway’ chains where you pick your burrito style, pick a protein, add one of a variety of salsas, and they make it for you on the spot. Kind of like a Mexican Subway, but… well, nicer, and somewhat less processed.

Roast veggie soft tacos!

Image

  • 2 white corn tortillas
  • 1 portabella mushroom
  • 1/4 eggplant
  • 1/2 zucchini
  • 1/2 red capsicum
  • Handful baby spinach
  • 1/2 lebanese cucumber
  • 5 cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 125g can 4 bean mix (use black beans if you can find them!)
  • Old El Paso enchilada sauce
  • 1/4 brown onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 20g light tasty cheese
  • Olive oil and pepper

Pop the mushroom, capsicum, eggplant and zucchini in a baking dish, add a splash of olive oil, pepper and any herbs you have on hand, and roast on 180C for 30-50 minutes, depending on how hungry you are. When you’re 5 minutes away from hunger implosion, brown the onion and garlic in a small saucepan, then add beans and enough sauce to cover. In a dry (not oiled) frying pan, toast the tortillas for 30 seconds on each side. Layer each tortilla up with the roasted veggies and bean mix, with a few slices of avocado and a sprinkling of cheese on each one. Pop the tacos back into the oven to melt the cheese while you cut the cherry tomatoes in half, chop the cucumber into slices, and take the spinach out of its bag and put it onto a plate (salad: done!). Add the now-melty-and-delicious tacos to your plate. Arriba!

Total calories: 367.

PS: this is a very easy dish to make twice the amount of for the next evening. Just make double the roast veg and use the whole tin of beans (plus two cloves of garlic and half an onion instead of a quarter) and keep the roast veggies and bean mix in containers in the fridge, ready to reheat – you can toast the tortillas and assemble it all in no time the next day!

I really do implore anyone committed to the ideal of being healthy while maintaining absolute laziness to keep a selection of roast-able veggies in the crisper, ready to go. There’s nothing worse than getting home from a massive day and knowing that, before you can even EAT, you have to think of something to cook, go to the shops, and then cook the damn thing. Any meal involving roast veg generally tastes like it’s taken a bunch of effort, despite being very much a ‘set and forget’ kind of situation.

Also, I discovered the wonders of white corn tortillas at my local Coles while comparing labels. I was tossing up between the ‘light’ and ‘multigrain’ options when I noticed these little fellas on the bottom shelf. They’re super low in calories (90 calories for two – even the 96% fat free tortillas are 130 calories for one) as they’re made from corn instead of wheat. You do have to toast them lightly in a pan before you use them or they’ll taste a bit gluey. But at 45 calories apiece, you can afford to go all out with your fillings, which is a much more satisfying way to eat anyway!

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Veguary! My pledge to go veg (for a month)

So. I love vegetables. Quite a lot. Although I’m not vegetarian by any means, I like to think that the majority of what I cook is veggie-focused – although it may incorporate meat here and there (a bit of chicken in a stir-fry with six or seven different vegetables, enchiladas that are mostly salad and grilled capsicum with a few prawns), it’s fresh produce that usually runs the show.

We’ll just ignore the bulk batch of pulled pork I made last week. Ahem. (It was delicious, though.)

This is something that I’ve been considering for a little while now. I like cooking with loads of veg, and I often substitute non-meat proteins like legumes, cashews or haloumi in my dishes anyway, so what if I were to challenge myself to go vegetarian for a month? Say, the month of February… or as I have dubbed it with a shoddy almost-pun: Veguary? I’m excited about this for a few reasons:

  1. It will take me out of my comfort zone, cooking-wise. I’ll have to experiment with vegetarian proteins (although I love tofu, I’ve never cooked it myself before) and mix up my usual standard oeuvre of recipes.
  2. It will save me money. Meat can be pretty expensive, whereas lentils are outrageously cheap. Of course, I’m planning on working in a few interesting cheeses and fun new proteins (seitan?), which might up the price factor a bit, but since I usually buy free-range, high-quality meat (i.e. the expensive stuff), it should still work out cheaper. I’ll try to eat out a few times, too, and vegetarian dishes are almost always less than the meat-based ones in restaurants!
  3. It’ll be good for the environment and for animal rights. I’m not going to get preachy – we all know this stuff already. But even if you don’t go vego, even cutting your meat intake down a little bit is a good thing.
  4. Veg-based diets can be healthier. Sometimes. Vegetarians have to be super-careful to get enough protein in, but with enough forward planning, they can have a damn nutritious diet. Lots of veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans, yoghurt, grains and cheeses. Less calorific slabs of meat. Awesome.

So, now begins the process of recipe collation. I follow a few vegetarian and whole food blogs (Oh My Veggies and Sprouted Kitchen are a couple of great ones) and I have a few ideas up my sleeve, but to get through a whole month without resorting to my staple recipes is going to be tricky. Throughout the month I’ll be posting what I’m cooking, so if anyone wants to challenge themselves to a month of vego-ness, do it in Veguary! And if you have any favourite vegetarian recipes, let me know in the comments… I think I’ll need all the help I can get!

Tagged , , , , ,