Tzatziki Cucumber Salad

IMG_0863.jpg

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase using these links, Jennyblogs may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. This helps to support Jennyblogs. For further information see the privacy policy. Grazie!

Fresh, cool, crunchy, creamy, and delicious Tzatziki, which is basically a Greek cucumber salad made with thick, strained yogurt, and seasoned with dill and garlic. Uh, yum, right? If you’ve ever had tzatziki, you know what I’m talking about!

It’s funny because I’ve known about tzatziki for a long time, enjoying it at restaurants and such, that wonderful Greek yogurt sauce dip wonder. I’ve seen several cucumber salad recipes around this summer on some of my favorite recipe sites like foodgawker; German cucumber salads, normal cucumber salads, and others. It got me hungry, so I decided to make my own. And let me tell you, I got right on it because zero cooking or baking in a recipe is a wonderful thing when the summer here in Florence has been between 90-106°F / 32-41°C since June.

I noticed most of the recipes I came across used sour cream, but I used plain greek yogurt because it’s more nutritious. Once I found a nice balance between the flavors, I wrote down the recipe and decided to share it with you guys! Then I recalled that tzatziki has very similar flavors, and although I’ve never made it nor even looked up a recipe, my curiosity got the best of me to see just how similar they would be. What do you know, I basically made tzatziki and didn’t even know it! So much for making an original recipe, haha!

So what I’m sharing with you today is my accidental take on tzatziki, similarly enough to be called so, but not THE original. If you make the changes listed below, however, you can have yourself a delicious and authentic Greek tzatziki!

What are the differences from a traditional tzatziki and the one you see below?

  • The cucumber is usually grated and drained (either by squeezing or letting sit in cheese cloth over a bowl overnight) instead of sliced. I also use more cucumber to make a creamy salad rather than a dip that features cucumber. if you want to make real tzatziki, use a half of a large cucumber or a smallish one.

  • Traditional would have more yogurt so again, more of a sauce or dip rather than a salad. For real tzatziki, double the yogurt to 1 1/2 cups / 340g.

  • For the acidic element, I used lemon juice, but vinegar of some sort is usually called for. I’ve read in Greece they most often use red wine vinegar.

  • I added more fresh dill! Because I love dill. If you think about it, this is like a creamy dill pickle dip. It has the cucumbers, the garlic, the dill….no wonder I like it so well! For original tzatziki, use about 1 Tbsp chopped.

If you eliminate the cucumbers (or shred them like the traditional way), it makes an excellent and much healthier alternative to most veggie dips. I might even like it better than Ranch!


Tzatziki Cucumber Salad

Serves about 2

IMG_0852.jpg

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup / 170g plain greek yogurt or vegan yogurt

  • generous 2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill

  • 2 tsp / 10g lemon juice

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced, or 1/4 tsp garlic powder

  • salt and pepper, to taste

  • 1 large cucumber, chopped with skin/seeds removed as desired

  • extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling, optional

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl combine yogurt, dill, lemon juice, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

  2. If serving immediately, add cucumber and stir to coat; drizzle with olive oil. Otherwise, refrigerate until ready to serve, adding cucumber and drizzling with oil at the last minute.

Jenny’s Notes:

  • For optimal creaminess, I would use full fat greek yogurt. If you are vegan or dairy-free, use a thick/Greek dairy-free yogurt alternative!

  • In an ideal world the dressing would be made a day ahead of time and the cucumber added just before serving. This helps the flavors meld together and cuts the sharpness of the garlic a bit, without the cucumber sitting in the dressing for a day and losing its liquid. However, this makes a great last minute dish and it tastes just fine if eaten right away!

vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, gluten-free, veggie dip, cucumber, garlic, fresh dill, Greek yogurt, Ranch substitute
Side dish, lunch, sauces and condiments
Greek
Yield: 2
Author:

Tzatziki Cucumber Salad

Creamy salad form of the classic Tzatziki sauce: Cucumbers, Greek yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, and fresh dill.
prep time: 10 Mcook time: total time: 10 M

ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup / 170g plain greek yogurt or vegan yogurt
  • generous 2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tsp / 10g lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced, or 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 large cucumber, chopped with skin/seeds removed as desired
  • extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling, optional

instructions:

How to cook Tzatziki Cucumber Salad

  1. In a medium bowl combine yogurt, dill, lemon juice, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  2. If serving immediately, add cucumber and stir to coat; drizzle with olive oil. Otherwise, refrigerate until ready to serve, adding cucumber and drizzling with oil at the last minute.

NOTES:

For optimal creaminess, I would use full fat greek yogurt. If you are vegan or dairy-free, use a thick/Greek dairy-free yogurt alternative! In an ideal world the dressing would be made a day ahead of time and the cucumber added just before serving. This helps the flavors meld together and cuts the sharpness of the garlic a bit, without the cucumber sitting in the dressing for a day and losing its liquid. However, this makes a great last minute dish and it tastes just fine if eaten right away!

Calories

123.72

Fat (grams)

7.21

Sat. Fat (grams)

1.05

Carbs (grams)

5.89

Fiber (grams)

0.61

Net carbs

5.28

Sugar (grams)

3.78

Protein (grams)

9.30

Sodium (milligrams)

181.86

Cholesterol (grams)

4.25
Nutritional information is approximate.
Created using The Recipes Generator
IMG_0856.jpg

Pumpkin Pudding

IMG_5018.JPG

This post contains affiliate links. If you buy something using these links, Jennyblogs may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. This helps to support Jennyblogs. For further information see the privacy policy. Grazie!

Fall is coming fall is coming! Or, autumn is coming autumn is coming! Either way, I’m excited. I love the changing of seasons and the different nostalgias and expectations that come with each one. Living in Italy, the nostalgia is a little bit stronger. Autumn is still autumn, but the changes are a little less distinct, and the comfort of knowing where to pick out the best pumpkins and buy the best apple cider is not something I have down pat yet. It’s not even that easy, finding the new places to do the things you’ve always done, because some things aren’t done here, or at least not in the magnitude they are in the States. Pumpkins will be few and far between, unless you’re lucky enough to stumble upon some markets that have the mini gourds; apple cider is practically nonexistent; trick-or-treating happens, but most Italians wear scary costumes instead of characters; the leaf change is not the brilliant red, orange, and yellows like in Michigan, but more of a subtle green-to-yellow with the occasional leaves fluttering down. Despite the differences with what I grew up with, there are still oodles of things I love to do to make my home fall-y and to welcome the chilly evenings. Lighting candles, brewing tea, pulling out the fuzzy socks and sweaters (even if I’d be sweating if I actually tried to wear them yet) and baking and eating lots of fall goodies that include pumpkin, cinnamon, and spices, breads, soups, and hearty autumn recipes.

Now that I’m officially feeling ready for fall after dwelling in those thoughts, what are we making? Pumpkin Pudding! It’s like pumpkin pie, but without all the fuss of the crust. This is great to make in the time leading up to Thanksgiving, because you’re not ruining your appetite for pumpkin pie (you can’t call it pie if it doesn’t have a crust, therefore, totally different) while not wasting time NOT eating pumpkin. Oh, and so, so easy.

Recipe from my mama


Pumpkin Pudding

IMG_5023.JPG

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 15 oz / 425g pumpkin purée

  • 2/3 cup / 132g sugar

  • 1/2 tsp / 2.5g salt

  • 1 tsp / 5g cinnamon

  • 1/2 tsp / 2.5g ginger

  • 1/4 tsp / 1g cloves

  • 1 cup / 237g milk of choice

Directions:

Oven 375F / 190C. Lightly greased 8x8in / 20x20cm baking pan.

  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl until smooth.

  2. Pour into prepared pan; bake for 20-25 minutes in preheated oven until edges are bubbling.

Jenny’s Notes:

  • To dress this lovely and simple dessert up you can top it with confectioner’s sugar or crumbled cookies such as shortbread or Nilla Wafers, or serve with ice cream and/or whipped cream.

  • This recipe is gluten free, vegan (if you use a milk substitute like coconut or almond), and probably many of the other diet fads that I can’t quite keep track of. Eat up!

American
Yield: 4-6
Author:

Pumpkin Pudding

Like pumpkin pie but without the hassle of the crust. Gluten-free and can easily be made vegan.
prep time: 10 Mcook time: 25 Mtotal time: 35 M

ingredients:

  • 15 oz / 425g pumpkin purée
  • 2/3 cup / 132g sugar
  • 1/2 tsp / 2.5g salt
  • 1 tsp / 5g cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp / 2.5g ginger
  • 1/4 tsp / 1g cloves
  • 1 cup / 237g milk of choice

instructions:

How to cook Pumpkin Pudding

  1. Oven 375F / 190C. Lightly greased 8x8in / 20x20cm baking pan.
  2. Mix all ingredients in a bowl until smooth.
  3. Pour into prepared pan; bake for 20-25 minutes in preheated oven until edges are bubbling.

NOTES:

To dress this lovely and simple dessert up you can top it with confectioner’s sugar or crumbled cookies such as shortbread or Nilla Wafers, or serve with ice cream and/or whipped cream. This recipe is gluten free, vegan (if you use a milk substitute like coconut or almond), and probably many of the other diet fads that I can’t quite keep track of. Eat up!

Calories

198.32

Fat (grams)

1.49

Sat. Fat (grams)

0.88

Carbs (grams)

45.81

Fiber (grams)

3.85

Net carbs

41.97

Sugar (grams)

36.49

Protein (grams)

3.31

Sodium (milligrams)

279.59

Cholesterol (grams)

4.74
Nutritional information is approximate. Based on 4 servings.
Created using The Recipes Generator
The slowly melting confectioner’s sugar…

The slowly melting confectioner’s sugar…




Chia Persimmon Pudding (Vegan)

This post contains affiliate links. If you buy something using these links, Jennyblogs may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. This helps to support Jennyblogs. For further information see the privacy policy. Grazie!

I had never eaten a persimmon before living in Italy.  I probably couldn't have even picked it out from a line up of fruit.  But if you asked me, of course I would want to try a persimmon!  I had heard good things about them, especially the elusive "persimmon pudding."  

I used to go the market several times a week for my fruit and vegetables, one of my favorite weekly errands.  It was a large market, the ground floor of the Mercato Centrale if you’ve been there, with lots of vendors, but there was this dear old man that always had the best tomatoes and lettuce.  He would say "Ciao, bella," shake my hand, and always round the price down for me.  He also had this habit of sneaking in a fruit or vegetable that I hadn't ordered.  Whether that was a sweet gesture or a marketing strategy, I may never know.  One day, after getting my usual tomatoes, I arrived home to find this strange object that looked curiously like an orange tomato, but was most definitely not.  So....squishy and lacking that earthy, pungent, tomato vine smell.  After a little research, I found I had in my possession a kaki!  Okay, now what is a kaki?  

After a little more research, I found that kaki is what the Italians call persimmons. Sweet, mysterious persimmons.  Now...how to eat it?  I quickly realized they are like jelly on the inside when ripe, and it's only the skin that holds it together.  If that skin breaks, you have a real mess if you weren't prepared with a bowl or your mouth beneath it.  I ate that first one in hurry, before it all dripped from my hands onto the floor. 

From then on I bought them in packs and beautiful things happened, including various versions of persimmon pudding.  Below is a raw and vegan version of the Persimmon Pudding.  Makes for a great dessert, snack, or breakfast!  Kaki on.  

Recipe adapted from Blissful Basil.


*Note: Make the Chia Pudding the day before you want to eat the pudding, as it takes at least 8 hours to set up.  

Chia Persimmon Pudding

Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the Chia Pudding Layer

  • 2 cups / 474g unsweetened coconut milk or milk of choice

  • generous 1/2 cup / 90g chia seeds

  • 3 Tbsp / 60g maple syrup or honey

  • 2 tsp / 9g vanilla extract

  • 1/2 tsp / 1g cinnamon

  • pinch of cardamom

For the Persimmon Pudding Layer

  • 3 ripe persimmons

  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

You’ll need 4 small (about 12 oz), clear glasses or bowls.

Make the Chia Pudding

  1. In a medium bowl whisk together milk, chia seeds, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, and cardamom.  

  2. Cover and refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours.  

Make the Persimmon Pudding

  1. Remove the stems from the persimmons and place in a food processor or blender.  Add the cinnamon and blend until smooth.  

  2. Spoon about scant 1/4 cup Persimmon Pudding into the bottom of each glass.  Top with a scant 1/4 cup Chia Pudding.  Repeat layers until both puddings are gone.  Should make three layers of each, or 6 layers total in each glass. Top with additional cinnamon, if desired.

Jenny's Notes:

  • You'll want your persimmons to be very ripe and very soft all the way through; they should be bursting when you try to remove the stems.

  • Persimmons are a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and high in fiber.  

vegan, raw, no bake, chia pudding, persimmon pudding, dairy free, gluten free, refined sugar free
American
Yield: 4
Author:

Chia Persimmon Pudding (Vegan)

Layers of spiced coconut milk chia pudding and juicy persimmons are a simple, vegan, dairy-free, gluten, raw, etc. dessert, breakfast, or snack.
prep time: 15 Mcook time: total time: 15 M

ingredients:

For the Chia Pudding Layer
  • 2 cups / 474g unsweetened coconut milk or milk of choice
  • generous 1/2 cup / 90g chia seeds
  • 3 Tbsp / 60g maple syrup or honey
  • 2 tsp / 9g vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp / 1g cinnamon
  • pinch of cardamom
For the Persimmon Pudding Layer
  • 3 ripe persimmons
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

instructions:

How to cook Chia Persimmon Pudding (Vegan)

Make the Chia Pudding
  1. *Note: Make the Chia Pudding the day before you want to eat the pudding, as it takes at least 8 hours to set up. 
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together milk, chia seeds, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, and cardamom.
  3. Cover and refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours.
Make the Persimmon Pudding
  1. You’ll need 4 small (about 12 oz), clear glasses or bowls.
  2. Remove the stems from the persimmons and place in a food processor or blender. Add the cinnamon and blend until smooth.
  3. Spoon about scant 1/4 cup Persimmon Pudding into the bottom of each glass. Top with a scant 1/4 cup Chia Pudding. Repeat layers until both puddings are gone. Should make three layers of each, or 6 layers total in each glass. Top with additional cinnamon, if desired.

NOTES:

You'll want your persimmons to be very ripe and very soft all the way through; they should be bursting when you try to remove the stems.

Calories

266.73

Fat (grams)

9.61

Sat. Fat (grams)

2.90

Carbs (grams)

43.72

Fiber (grams)

12.46

Net carbs

35.76

Sugar (grams)

25.11

Protein (grams)

4.73

Sodium (milligrams)

12.43

Cholesterol (grams)

0.00
Nutritional information is approximate.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Enjoy your Kaki Pudding!

Quinoa Coconut Date Rolls

IMG_4728.jpg

This post contains affiliate links. If you buy something using these links, Jennyblogs may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. This helps to support Jennyblogs. For further information see the privacy policy. Grazie!

These little morsels are so named because they are rolled, and no, these will not get you a date nor would I suggest bringing them on a first date.  Not because these aren't scrummy (that’s scrumptious and yummy combined), but because "healthy" baking should always be treated warily.  You must already have a well established relationship with that person, preferably have treated them to some normal sugary delicious desserts so that they understand that you understand what a dessert "should" be, and can trust your taste buds when you then try to sell them on your spinach-spirolina-turmeric-kale-ginger-wasabi-moringa bars that are also dairy-free and refined-sugar free.  Whew, I'm out of breath.  But that relationship is important.  So if I've never eaten anything that you've made before, know that I might distrust you at first, in the most genial way possible.  And you should distrust me, until I gain your trust.  

Also understand what your taste preferences are, and if you don't like healthy desserts, well then, may I ask why are you reading this particular recipe? May I kindly redirect you to this decadent Peanut Butter Brownie Trifle?  Or if you don't like dates, we might have a problem.  But if you like healthy desserts, or are exploring in this arena, then you probably know what you're getting yourself into.  The quinoa provides protein and grains, the almonds provide good fats and more protein, while the dates give sweetness and carbs and coconut brings flavor to the party. 

So now, using your own best judgment, allow me to introduce my friends, the Quinoa Coconut Date Rolls.

Recipe adapted from Skinny Ms.


Quinoa Coconut Date Rolls

Makes about 10-12 rolls

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup dry quinoa

  • 2/3 cup water

  • 12 whole dates

  • 1/2 cup almonds

  • 1/3 cup grated unsweetened coconut, plus more for rolling

  • 2-3 tsp water

  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips, optional

Directions:

  1. Combine quinoa and water in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat.  Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until all the water is absorbed.  Set aside to cool completely.  If you already have quinoa made, you'll need about 1 cup.  

  2. Place dates in a food processor and blend until they stick together in a ball.  Add the almonds, coconut, and quinoa; pulse until well combined.  Add water, if necessary, until the mixture holds together.  Shape into balls or roll.  Place extra coconut on a plate and roll the rolls around until completely covered in coconut.  

  3. *Optional:  Heat chocolate chips over a double boiler or in the microwave for 30 second bursts, until melted.  Drizzle chocolate over rolls.

  4. Store in an airtight container for up to a week, or freeze.  

Jenny's Notes:

  • For a chunkier roll, process for a shorter period of time.  

  • These rolls are also delicious if you add a 1/2 tsp of cinnamon. They could become autumnal if you add cinnamon along with a dash of nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. Yum!  

quinoa, coconut, almonds, gluten-free, vegan, dairy-free, refined sugar-free, vegetarian, healthy, nutritious, clean eating
snack, breakfast
American
Yield: 10-12 rolls
Author:

Quinoa Coconut Date Rolls (Vegan)

Nutritious Lara-bar like rolls made with quinoa, dates, coconut, and almonds with optional chocolate drizzle. Great for breakfast, snacks, on the go, and after workouts!
prep time: 25 Mcook time: 15 Mtotal time: 40 M

ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup dry quinoa
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 12 whole dates
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/3 cup grated unsweetened coconut, plus more for rolling
  • 2-3 tsp water
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips, optional

instructions:

How to cook Quinoa Coconut Date Rolls (Vegan)

  1. Combine quinoa and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until all the water is absorbed. Set aside to cool completely. If you already have quinoa made, you'll need about 1 cup.
  2. Place dates in a food processor and blend until they stick together in a ball. Add the almonds, coconut, and quinoa; pulse until well combined. Add water, if necessary, until the mixture holds together. Shape into balls or roll. Place extra coconut on a plate and roll the rolls around until completely covered in coconut.
  3. *Optional: Heat chocolate chips over a double boiler or in the microwave for 30 second bursts, until melted. Drizzle chocolate over rolls.
  4. Store in an airtight container for up to a week, or freeze.

NOTES:

For a chunkier roll, process for a shorter period of time. These rolls are also delicious if you add a 1/2 tsp of cinnamon. They could become autumnal if you add cinnamon along with a dash of nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. Yum!

Calories

104.45

Fat (grams)

5.81

Sat. Fat (grams)

1.93

Carbs (grams)

12.11

Fiber (grams)

2.28

Net carbs

9.82

Sugar (grams)

5.94

Protein (grams)

2.64

Sodium (milligrams)

36.53

Cholesterol (grams)

0.00
Nutritional information is approximate. Based on 10 servings and excludes chocolate drizzle.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Ratatouille

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase using these links, Jennyblogs may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. This helps to support Jennyblogs. For further information see the privacy policy. Grazie!

Rat patootie.  Ratatouille.  Only one of my favorite Pixar films AND one of my favorite foods.  A cartoon that takes place in Paris, is all about cooking, French accents, chefs, crispy baguettes....ah yes.  Never fails to make me hungry for cheese, saffron (although let's be honest, I've never actually had saffron that I am aware of, even though I bought some in Florence for a steal - UPDATE: as of 2018 I’ve now had saffron and learned how to tell if it’s real!) bread, and maybe some wine.  From the day I first saw it, in the theatre in New York City with my mom back in 2008, I wanted to make ratatouille.  I didn't know what it was before the movie, but Pixar animation made it look delicious.  

After some research and googling, I soon learned that there were many different versions of ratatouille, originally a hearty peasant dish from the region of Provence, France.  (Remember Igor's flashback to his mother's cooking and country home when he firsts tastes the ratatouille?) One source likened it to stew in America.  What kind of stew you ask?  This is exactly the point, as every region and cook in America has their own version of stew, and it can vary widely.  Apparently this is also true of ratatouille.  

After making this many times over the years, I came down to two favorite recipes.  

One involved sautéing the eggplant first for 10 minutes with the spices, then adding it to the bottom of the baking dish. The remaining vegetables were then layered over the eggplant, with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese between each layer of vegetables.

The second involved spreading a seasoned tomato sauce in the bottom of the baking dish and then alternating the vegetables around the dish in a pretty spiral, like it’s served in the film.

I could never decide which version I wanted to make, so finally I combined the two for the best of both worlds.  I omitted sautéing the eggplant, kept the tomato sauce on the bottom, and kept the cheese and the pretty spiral.

That combination is what follows.


Ratatouille

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

IMG_4690.JPG
  • 1 1/2 cups / 355g tomato purée or sauce (unseasoned)

  • 1/2  onion, finely chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 tsp fresh oregano or 1/4 tsp dried

  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

  • 2 Tbsp / 28g olive oil

  • 8 oz / 240g mushrooms, thinly sliced

  • 1 medium eggplant

  • 1 medium zucchini

  • 1 medium yellow squash

  • 1 bell pepper, optional

  • 1 cup / 110g shredded parmesan cheese

  • fresh or dried thyme

  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Oven 375°F / 177°C.  Ungreased oval baking dish, about 10in / 25cm long, or 9x13in / 23x33cm pan. 

  1. Add tomato purée to a small bowl.  Stir in onion, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon of oil, salt, and pepper.  Spread in the bottom of the baking dish.

  2. Layer sliced mushrooms over tomato sauce.

  3. Using a mandolin or chopping by hand, slice eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, and bell pepper into 1/4 inch slices.

  4. Working in concentric circles, alternate and arrange the vegetables over the mushrooms.  You may have a small handful of misfit vegetables left over.  Save for another use (stir fry!) or lift a layer of your vegetables in the pan and sneak the excess underneath where the eye can't see. 

  5. Drizzle vegetables with remaining tablespoon of oil, season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle cheese evenly over top.  Sprinkle thyme over cheese. 

  6. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until tomato sauce is bubbling around edges of the pan and vegetables are tender when pierced with a knife.  

  7. Eat as is, or served over quinoa, rice, couscous, or with some crusty French bread!

Jenny's Notes:

  • 1 6oz can / 170g tomato paste mixed with 3/4 cup / 170g water can be substituted for the tomato purée.

  • Sometimes I omit the red pepper flakes and use a spicy oil in place of the plain olive oil.

  • If you want to save time assembling the vegetables you can layer them instead of alternating and making circles.  i.e. layer all the eggplant slices, then squash, zucchini, etc.  

  • You could add an extra layer of cheese between the mushrooms and vegetables.  

  • Feel free to add or substitute vegetables! 

Hello, World!

ratatouille, Pixar Ratatouille, thyme, eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, vegetables, healthy, gluten-free, parmesan cheese, tomato, mushrooms, peasant dish
Lunch, Dinner, Side Dish
French
Yield: 4-6 servings
Author:

Ratatouille

A classic French peasant dish made famous by the Pixar animated film "Ratatouille." This version has a tomato base, plenty of eggplant, zucchini, squash, and mushrooms, with thyme and parmesan cheese. Naturally gluten-free.
prep time: 40 Mcook time: 55 Mtotal time: 95 M

ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups / 355g tomato purée or sauce (unseasoned)
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano or 1/4 tsp dried
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp / 28g olive oil
  • 8 oz / 240g mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium yellow squash
  • 1 bell pepper, optional
  • 1 cup / 110g shredded parmesan cheese
  • fresh or dried thyme
  • salt and pepper, to taste

instructions:

How to cook Ratatouille

  1. Oven 375°F / 177°C. Ungreased oval baking dish, about 10in / 25cm long, or 9x13in / 23x33cm pan.
  2. Add tomato purée to a small bowl. Stir in onion, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon of oil, salt, and pepper. Spread in the bottom of the baking dish.
  3. Layer sliced mushrooms over tomato sauce.
  4. Using a mandolin or chopping by hand, slice eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, and bell pepper into 1/4 inch slices.
  5. Working in concentric circles, alternate and arrange the vegetables over the mushrooms. You may have a small handful of misfit vegetables left over. Save for another use (stir fry!) or lift a layer of your vegetables in the pan and sneak the excess underneath where the eye can't see.
  6. Drizzle vegetables with remaining tablespoon of oil, season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle cheese evenly over top. Sprinkle thyme over cheese.
  7. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until tomato sauce is bubbling around edges of the pan and vegetables are tender when pierced with a knife.
  8. Eat as is, or served over quinoa, rice, couscous, or with some crusty French bread!

NOTES:

1 6oz can / 170g tomato paste mixed with 3/4 cup / 170g water can be substituted for the tomato purée. Sometimes I omit the red pepper flakes and use a spicy oil in place of the plain olive oil. If you want to save time assembling the vegetables you can layer them instead of alternating and making circles. i.e. layer all the eggplant slices, then squash, zucchini, etc. You could add an extra layer of cheese between the mushrooms and vegetables. Feel free to add or substitute vegetables!

Calories

319.11

Fat (grams)

15.92

Sat. Fat (grams)

6.00

Carbs (grams)

33.75

Fiber (grams)

9.15

Net carbs

24.60

Sugar (grams)

15.12

Protein (grams)

16.35

Sodium (milligrams)

571.85

Cholesterol (grams)

19.80
Nutritional information is approximate and based on 4 servings.
Created using The Recipes Generator
IMG_4693.JPG

Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

Some people are adverse to the word healthy.  Don't be one of those people.  Oh, but what I would give to have a little slice of this pie right now, healthy or not!  Actually, I wouldn't give much.  But that doesn't mean I don't want it.  Yes, Whole30January is still happening.  It has gotten easier in recent days...but you can ask my mom who is doing it with me if that's a true statement.  So here is yet another recipe you can make and eat in my stead.  Please, for my sanity.  Just don't tell me how delicious it is.  I like to ask the people around me who are eating delicious nonWhole30food to tell me how disgusting it is.  It almost make me feel better.  Won't you be glad when Whole30January is over so you won't have to hear any more of my sardonic complaining?  Yes ok, on to this nutritious pie that somehow tastes like dessert!

Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

12-16 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans white beans or garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (navy, great northern, cannellini)
  • 1 cup oats or ground flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup applesauce or oil
  • 3 Tbsp oil (if you are not using applesauce, that would be a scant 1/2 cup oil total)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tsp stevia powder
  • 1 cup chocolate chips or chunks, plus more for sprinkling

Directions:

Oven 350 Fahrenheit.  Greased 8 or 9 inch pie pan.

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and mix until smooth.  Stir in chocolate chips. 

Scrape dough into prepared pan and sprinkle with additional chocolate chips. 

Bake in oven for 30-35 minutes.  Allow to cool before slicing and serving. 

Jenny's Notes:

This recipe is gluten-free, vegan, dairy-free, and nut free if you didn't already observe that.

I adapted this recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie.  She is very good about giving lots of options if you are gluten-free, vegan, have a nut allergy, etc.  I simply narrowed it down to my favorite combination of ingredients from her options, and preferred amount of sweetener so that it tastes like dessert without giving in to your sugar dragon too much. 

Feel free to add more sugar if you feel the need! 

If for whatever reason your batter comes out too thick or thin, (didn't drain the beans as much, the applesauce brand you use is soupier, etc.) you can add more oats or flax to thicken, or applesauce, maple syrup, or milk to thin. 

Adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie.

Pumpkin Coconut Bars

One week until Thanksgiving!  'Tis the season for baking too much, cooking too much, and eating too much.  But sometimes you don't want to wait until Thanksgiving for a slice of pumpkin pie, yet you don't want to ruin it, or sometimes you just want something of a lighter nature that you can feel good about eating.  The upcoming season of delicious foods and feasting does not mean that you should be eating plain lettuce, carrot sticks, and rutabaga all day to "save up" for the holidays.  In fact, if it's not delicious, then you shouldn't eat it.  I believe food is a good gift and should always be enjoyed, and never suffered through.  If it's not delicious, then something isn't being done right.  Nutritious can be delicious.  But delicious does not always have to be nutritious.  Everything in moderation.  Do you follow me?  Well, never mind.  Now for something that falls into the three most important categories: Delicious, Nutritious, AND Festive. 

Pumpkin Coconut Energy Bars

Makes 8-10 Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pitted dates

  • 1/2 cup nuts of choice, raw or unsalted

  • 2 Tbsp pumpkin seeds or chia seeds

  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened shredded or flaked coconut

  • 1/4 cup oats

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

  • 1/4 tsp cloves

  • 1/4 tsp ginger

  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a food processor.  Blend for several minutes, until slightly chunky or completely smooth, as you wish.

Line an 8x8 in baking dish with parchment paper.  Lightly sprinkle with oats or coconut to prevent mixture from sticking too much.

Scoop mixture into dish and carefully spread to the edges.  Use lightly oiled or wet hands to help this process.  Sprinkle with more coconut, pumpkin seeds, or both.

Place in the freezer for a couple hours, then slice into bars.  Store in at room temperature, in the fridge, or in the freezer, depending on how firm you want the bars to be. 

Jenny's Notes:

I used a combination of almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, cashews, and Brazil nuts.  Why use only 1 or 2 varieties of nuts when you can use 5??

Pumpkin Spice Energy Bites

These little balls of energy are all about that pumpkin and spice and everything nice, and health and wealth with all of that schmealth.  Or something like that.  These will not make you rich.  Or give you schmealth.  I would never wish schmealth on anyone.  That sounds like some terrible disease.  Nor will these actually bite you.  You bite them.  Nom nom nom.

The great thing about these is that they whip up so quick.  In less than 15 minutes you can have delicious morsels easy to grab for a snack, pack for a quick lunch, or take on long car rides.  They're so easy to make you might spend more time assembling the ingredients, or mis en place, than making them!  And if I would stop rambling you probably could've had them already made...Scusami.

Pumpkin Spice Energy Bites

Makes about 20 Bites

Ingredients:

    •    1 cup oats
    •    1/4 cup ground flax seeds or wheat germ
    •    1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    •    1/4 tsp cloves
    •    1/4 tsp ginger
    •    1/4 tsp nutmeg
    •    1/4 cup peanut butter
    •    1/4 cup pumpkin puree
    •    2 Tbsp maple syrup
    •    1 Tbsp honey
    •    1 tsp vanilla extract
    •    1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:

In a medium bowl combine all ingredients; mix well.

Roll mixture into approximately 1 inch balls.  Place in a container and store in the refrigerator, or freeze for snacking at a later date. 

Jenny's Notes:

With these types of recipes you do not have to be overly exact in your measurements.  If the dough seems too soft, simply add more oats or flax.  Too crumbly and you can add any number of things, honey, maple syrup, peanut butter...the choice is yours to personalize as you wish!

Now that didn't hurt, did it?  Happy snacking!

 

 

Peanut Butter Energy Bites

What is energy, and why do these bites have so much?  I'm not about to give you a lesson in physics, I'll leave that to Iggy Azalea, but basically they are filled with good calories (energy) from the nutrients and natural sugar.  If there is the word energy in the title, it probably just means it's high calorie.  But if they were called Peanut Butter Calorie Bites, who would make them?  Calories get such a bad rap, poor things.  Calories, I can't liiive without yooooou!  Literally. (If you just sang that to the tune of "Without You" by Badfinger, congratulations.  Me too.)  So if you need a boost of energy or a quick pick-me-up, these are your friends.  Also great if you are about to expend a lot of energy, like going for a run or playing Twister.  They are small but pack a punch, so they don't make you feel too full.  

Peanut Butter Energy Bites

Makes about 15 1-in. diameter balls

Ingredients:

A mass of energy...

A mass of energy...

  • 1 cup oats
  • 2/3 cup flaked or shredded coconut, unsweetened
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ, chia seeds, or ground flax seed
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients using a spoon or your hands.  If dough seems too dry, add more honey or peanut butter; if they seem too wet, add more oats or wheat germ. 

Form into balls and store in the fridge or freezer for when you want a quick snack.

Jenny's Notes:

For vegan bites, be sure to use diary free chips and replace honey with maple syrup.

For gluten-free bites, make sure your oats are certified gluten-free and use chia or flax seeds instead of wheat germ. 

Get creative with these bites, substitute or add to the chocolate chips with your favorite dried fruit or nuts, or even types of cereal, such as grape-nuts, puffed rice, granola, etc.

Adapted from Gimme Some Oven

No-Bake Pumpkin Date Bars

Happy Wednesday/Buon Mercoledì!! Still didn't quite make the "Baking Tuesday" but today I shall dub "Baking Wednesday."  And it shall be good.  And involve all things healthy disguised as dessert (did I just lose you? Don't go away just yet, I don't put gross food on my blog!), chocolate (there, now you'll stay), pumpkin, spice, and everything nice! Life is too short to eat and drink poorly.

"La vita è troppo breve per mangiare e bere male" - Eataly

These bars feature a creamy, pumpkin chocolate chip filling atop a wonderfully soft and chewy-sweet date crust .  They can easily be made gluten-free, vegan, and dairy-free.  And you can eat them anytime for breakfast or a healthy snack (to be pronounced snaaaaaack with the Italian hand going) because there is no refined sugar (except from the chocolate chips), protein from the beans, fiber from the oat flour and dates, antioxidants from the maple syrup and spices, and lots of vitamins and minerals from the pumpkin and above mentioned ingredients!  You guys, this is such a win-win.  In fact, these bars might help you not die.  That last claim is not backed by science. 

No-Bake Pumpkin Date Bars

Ingredients:

For the Date Crust

  • 1 cup packed dates
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • pinch of salt

For the Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip Filling

  • 1 15 oz can white beans (navy beans, great northern, etc.)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup packed dates
  • 5 Tbsp maple syrup or honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips, plus extra for topping

Directions:

Make the Date Crust

In a food processor combine dates, almonds, and salt.  Pulse until the almonds are finely ground and everything comes together into a soft, crumbly dough that sticks together when pressed between your fingers.  If after a few minutes the crust doesn't come together, add a few more dates.

Spread and press crust into a 8x8 or 9x9 in square pan.  Clean food processor, you are about to use it again.

Make the Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip Filling

In the food processor, combine all the filling ingredients except for chocolate chips.  Blend until smooth.  Scrape filling into a bowl and stir in chocolate chips.  Spread over crust and top with more chocolate chips. 

Cover and refrigerate for two hours before slicing and serving.  Of course, that's in an ideal world, if you just can't wait, it will be okay.  The center will just be softer.  (And I know this because...)

Jenny's Notes:

Vegan Version: Simply make sure your chocolate chips are vegan. 

Gluten-free: Use certified gluten-free oats.

Dairy-free: Make sure your chocolate chips are dairy-free.  Easy, no?

Don't have oat flour? Make your own! Put the amount of oat flour you need of oats in a food processor or blender, plus a little extra, and blend until finely ground into flour! Tada.

Regarding all spices ever, they should be ground for recipes.  I will indicate only if they should be whole.  For the most part I try to reduce redundancy, since most spices come pre-ground.  For optimal flavor I would recommend buying spices whole and grinding them as needed. A labor of love, but the flavor is so fresh.

If you like sweeter desserts, or are serving a crowd that isn't used to "healthy" desserts, you could always add an extra 1/2 cup or so of brown sugar to the filling.

Maple syrup made by my dad, home-ground oat flour, dry beans, homemade vanilla extract

Maple syrup made by my dad, home-ground oat flour, dry beans, homemade vanilla extract

Adapted from Imma Eat That

Healthy Chocolate Chip Banana Cookies

What has chocolate and oats in it, tastes like a cookie, but is sneakily nutritious for you?  These cookies!  Yay for things that taste good and are healthy simultaneously.  And don't forget fun to make!  So many wins, I want to make these all over again.  Instead, I shall have just as much fun writing out the recipe for you. 

Chocolate Chip Banana Cookies

Makes about 30 cookies

Ingredients:

  • about 15 dates (if medjool, you'll need less)
  • 1/4 cup milk almond milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 small very ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 12 oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Directions:

Oven 350 Fahrenheit.

In a blender or food processor, blend dates until very finely chopped.  Slowly add milk and continue to blend until a smooth paste forms.  If using a food processor, be extra careful adding the milk as it may splatter; food processors tend to not have as good of a seal as blenders.  

Add peanut butter, banana, egg, and vanilla to the date paste and beat well. 

In a separate bowl whisk together oats, baking soda, and salt.  Add to date mixture.

Stir in chocolate chips and pecans just until combined.  Refrigerate dough for 15 minutes. 

Drop by spoonful onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper and bake for 12-15 minutes until edges start to turn lightly golden.  Allow cookies to cool and set a bit before removing from pan. 

Jenny's Notes:

These can easily be made vegan, dairy and/or gluten-free: Make a flax egg instead of a normal egg by adding 1 Tbsp flax powder to 3 Tbsp water, use vegan chocolate chips, use certified GF oats and vanilla extract.  Voila!  Now anyone can eat these delicious morels. 

Adapted from Veggies Don't Bite

Coconut Banana Breakfast Cookies

Everyone wants to eat cookies for breakfast.  And lunch.  And for a snack, and dinner, and second breakfastsies.  If you don't, then you might not want to read this post.  Just...leave quietly.  But before you go, these are no Chips Ahoy. (No judgment there, if that was your breakfast.  In fact, invite me over next time.)  These are delicious and nutritious and with no refined sugar.  Think bananas, coconut, pecans, and apricots with a light tough of maple syrup and oats.  Of course, I practically just gave you the whole ingredient list so let's just get baking, shall we?? 

Coconut Banana Breakfast Cookies

Makes about 15 cookies

Ingredients:

Directions:

  • *1 1/2 cups oats
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut or flakes
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped almonds
  • 1 Tbsp flax seeds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Oven 350 Fahrenheit

In a medium bowl, stir together oats, coconut, pecans, flax, salt, and apricots.  Add the bananas, coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla until combined.  Spoon generous mounds onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silpat. 

Bake 23-25 minutes, until lightly golden. 

Some raisins snuck into these ones

Some raisins snuck into these ones

Jenny's Notes:

Recipes like this are great because they can be so easily adapted to your tastes, or simply to change it up.  Feel free to use any kind of nuts you wish, or a combination of several, change up the dried fruit, or use honey instead of maple syrup.  I recommend also trying dried blueberries and dried cherries!

*Most recipes will list whether quick oats, rolled oats, or old-fashioned oats should be used.  You'll notice I don't specify unless I think the recipe really needs a specific kind of oat.  I've found that in most recipes the different kind of oats can be interchanged without affecting the quality of your product.  Just keep in mind that quick oats are more absorbent, so use slightly less than called for if substituting for old-fashioned or rolled, or slightly more rolled if substituting for quick.   

 

White Russian Tart

Mmmmm I love me a White Russian.  Or a Black Russian.  Or you can just give me the Kahlua.  But you know what I love more?  This tart.  Not to mention it is raw, gluten-free, refined-sugar free, and somehow delicious.  Nah I'm just kidding, there a lot of really delicious healthier desserts and foods out there, but the ones that aren't so much tend to get the attention and give the above labels a bad rap. 

When I'm experimenting and trying new recipes in the "healthy" department (as defined by trying to limit refined-sugars or flours, using a vegetable or bean or something that doesn't normally go in that there fudge brownie) I look for the 3 different categories of reactions from my tasters.  I tend to like some very strange things so I can't always judge by whether I like it or not...  Unsweetened cocoa powder by the spoonful, anyone??

  1. The category of "This is honest deliciousness."  When people ask for a recipe or have no idea that there are chickpeas or spinach powder hidden in what they're eating.  Something a normal or even picky eater would eat. 
  2. The category of "It's good for a healthy dessert!"  So it's palatable and they're not gagging, but most would still take a slice of cheesecake over it.  
  3. The category of "I would rather just eat a salad."  If I'm tempted to remedy the taste by adding cups and cups of maple syrup, then when that isn't strong enough, real sugar, it's probably beyond saving.  I know it's bad if I don't even like it.  No worries, those recipes won't come anywhere near this blog. 

This tart is a solid category 1.  Even my mom and brother approved this, and they keep me pretty honest when it comes to healthy desserts. 

I bounce back and forth between decadent desserts and healthier desserts.  I have a love and respect for both, and each have their place and time.  Some days it's honey, nuts, and coconut oil, and other days it's sugar, heavy whipping cream, and butter.  Variety is the spice of life.  Today, it's dates, avocado, and mascarpone.

White Russian Tart

Serves 8-12

Ingredients:

Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups almonds
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 8-10 dates
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Chocolate Vodka Cream

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (virgin, unrefined)
  • 1 Tbsp finely ground coffee beans
  • 1 large ripe avocado, peeled and sliced
  • 3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vodka
  • 1 tsp rum or Kahlua (of course the Kahlua option adds sugar)
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup

Mascarpone Cream

  • 8 oz mascarpone cheese
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

Make the Crust

In a food processor, combine almonds and coconut and pulse until small crumbles.  Add dates, vanilla, cocoa powder, and salt.  Process until well combined. 

Press into the bottom of a 8 or 9 inch spring-form pan or pie plate.

Make the Chocolate Vodka Cream

Heat coconut oil in small pan over low heat until liquefied.  Combine the melted coconut oil, coffee, avocado, cocoa powder, vodka, rum or Kahlua, and maple syrup in a food processor until smooth.  Stop and scrape down sides and bottom occasionally.  Spread over crust and place in freezer for about 30 minutes.

Make the Mascarpone Cream

Shortly before taking tart out of the freezer, combine mascarpone, maple syrup, and vanilla in a small bowl.  Take the tart out of the freezer and spread mascarpone mixture over it.  Place in fridge for about 2 hours before serving.   

Jenny's Notes:

This tart is not very sweet and really lets the mascarpone shine through.  However, if you or your guests prefer things a little on the sweeter side, feel free to add more maple syrup in either of the creams. 

Also, I like to use black cocoa powder in this recipe.  Sounds ghastly, but it's the stuff of Oreos.  (I didn't know the flavor of Oreo was supposed to be chocolate until I was an adult, but they get their unique flavor from black cocoa.)  If you can get your hands on it, it's really great.  I usually order it from Amazon. 

Adapted from The Clean Dish