Spinach and Goat Cheese Omelets

So here’s another recipe from Easter Brunch that was a huge hit: Spinach and Goat Cheese Omelettes. People could not believe their taste buds and ears when I told them this recipe was completely diet-friendly! I was thrilled with how many compliments people gave these omelets. One person said, if this is diet food, I need to be on this diet. 🙂

So here’s what I did to turn a moderately healthy but high calorie recipe into an “Eat Clean” recipe that was both healthy and moderate in the calorie count (~150 cal if divided into 8 servings). I modified a Gordon Ramsay recipe to increase the number of servings, increase the nutritional value including more lean protein and veggies, and decrease the fat per serving while keeping all the flavor. To do that, I kept the number of whole eggs the same at 4 but added a carton of egg whites, equal to 10 egg whites. I increased the baby spinach from 2 oz. to 6 oz. I eliminated the 2 tsp. butter and decreased the olive oil from 2 Tbsp. to 4 tsp. I kept the amount of goat cheese the same at 4 oz. but increased the amount of Parmesan Reggiano from 2 Tbsp. to 3 Tbsp. and upped the quantities of sea salt and black pepper. Overall, this upped the number of proposed servings from two to between four to eight depending on whether this is the only main course or served in a buffet as we did.

Spinach and Goat Cheese Omelets for a Crowd


Special Equipment: Broiler, broiler-safe skillet, large sauté pan
Serves 4 as a main dish or 8 as a side dish

Ingredients

6 oz. baby spinach
1 tsp. olive oil
4 whole eggs
1 container egg whites, equivalent to 10 egg whites
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Sea salt to taste (I prefer red Hawaiian sea salt)
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
4 oz. goat cheese
3 Tbsp. finely grated Parmesan Reggiano

  1. Preheat the broiler. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. When skillet is hot, add 1 tsp. olive oil and tilt the pan to coat the bottom in the film of oil. Add the baby spinach to the pan. Stir and toss with a wooden spoon until the spinach is lightly wilted. Remove the spinach from the heat and place on paper towels. Tease the spinach leaves apart with a fork. Set aside.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the whole eggs and the egg whites. Do not add salt and pepper.
  3. Heat the broiler-safe skillet over medium-high heat (medium for cast-iron). When you feel a good heat rising, add 1 Tbsp. olive oil and tilt the pan to coat.
  4. Pour the whisked eggs into the skillet. Using a metal fork, continuously stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to ensure the eggs do not stick. When eggs are 2/3 set, stop stirring, making sure the eggs are evenly distributed prior to the next step.
  5. Add the spinach leaves, spreading them evenly over the surface of the eggs. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper to taste. Pinch the goat cheese into small pieces, spreading over the top of the spinach. Sprinkle the Parmesan evenly over the omelet. Turn off the stove burner.
  6. Place skillet under the broiler until the cheese is lightly browned but not burnt, about 1-4 minutes depending on your broiler and pan. Serve in the pan at the table or at the buffet.
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Whole-Grain Waffles for Sunday Brunch

This past Sunday, my husband and I hosted 25 friends for Easter brunch in our condo. As the RSVP numbers grew from 12 to 18 to 25, we knew we’d have to get creative with the menu, the serving method, and the seating plan. As usual, we had a coordinated potluck with guests bringing items that we had mutually agreed to. Instead of eating family style with china and fine linens, we had a buffet for most of the food and a self-serve waffle station equipped with three waffle makers and the waffle fixings.

As brunch progressed, more and more people came up to me and asked about the waffles, wondering what they were and what was in them. They repeatedly praised the waffles, their texture, and their depth of flavor compared with regular white flour waffles.

What I did was swap out some of the white flour for almond flour, flaxseed meal and whole wheat flour. This upped the fiber content, the nutritional value, and the flavor. I also substituted olive oil for butter so that we’d have a more heart-healthy fat. Then for an extra kick of fun I added Mexican Vanilla and Ceylon Cinnamon. (Another week I added Almond Extract and that was a hit too!)

The below recipe is a “double recipe” suitable for larger brunches. If you a serving a small group, I recommend either halving the recipe or cooking all the batter and freezing the leftover waffles, wrapped separately. Reheat the waffles in the toaster oven for a quick breakfast.

Whole-Grain Buttermilk Waffles


Special Equipment: Waffle Maker
Serves 12

Ingredients

½ cup almond flour
½ cup flaxseed meal
1 cup whole wheat flour
1.5 cup white flour
2 Tbsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Penzeys Ceylon Cinnamon
6 large eggs, well beaten
6 Tbsp. olive oil
3 cups low fat buttermilk
1 Tbsp. Penzeys Mexican Vanilla Extract

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix well. Make a well in the center of the dry mixture.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the wet ingredients and whisk til well-combined.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients into the well of the dry mixture. Using a wooden spoon, mix using long, swift strokes until combined but mixture still has a pebbly look to it. Do not over-mix or waffles will be tough. Do not severely under-mix or you will have surprise pockets of flour.
  4. Using a preheated waffle iron, add the batter to the center of the waffle iron and smooth out gently with the back of a measuring cup or with the wooden spoon. Close the lid. The amount of batter will depend on your waffle maker. I have waffle makers that take from ½ cup to 1 cup for a full waffle. Experiment with your waffle maker to determine the amount, then use that size measuring cup to scoop the batter.
  5. Waffle is done when the steam stops escaping from the sides of the waffle maker and the waffle is golden brown. Waffle can be cooked slightly longer if a browner crust is desired.
  6. Serve hot with pure maple syrup, butter, powdered sugar, and fresh fruit.

Variation 1: Instead of vanilla extract, add 1 Tbsp. almond extract to the wet ingredients. Cinnamon is optional.

Weekend Brunch a Hit

On Saturday, I hosted a “coordinated-potluck” brunch for my friends. I was trying to keep the menu on the healthier side while still providing plenty of food. Check out the menu: Self-serve waffle station w/ pure maple syrup & sliced strawberries & whipped cream on request, Canadian bacon, turkey bacon, garden salad w/ avocado and cucumber tossed with homemade sherry vinaigrette, scrambled eggs, organic Guatemalan coffee, roobais chai tea w/ milk and Truvia, mimosas, and sparkling wine.

My friends loved the food, raving about the waffles as they polished them off. Meanwhile I nibbled on the relatively healthy bacon protein sources, scrambled eggs, the salad, and the unadorned sliced strawberries. I skipped the OJ from the mimosas, preferring to avoid the high sugar content and “just” have the delicious Brut sparkling wine from Louis Bouillout.

I wanted to make the waffles a little healthier so a made a few changes from my normal buttermilk waffles from the Joy of Cooking with ingredients in my pantry. For the flour, I changed out white flour to bread flour to add gluten to prepare for my two flour substitutes. I used 1/4 cup each of flax seed meal and almond flour as a substitute for 1/2 cup total of the flour (1 3/4 cup flour in recipe total). The flax seed meal and almond flour cut down on the carbs, added healthy fats including Omega-3s, and, I hope, cut down some on the glycemic index of the waffles. Olive oil replaced the butter, and I used the minimum quantity of added fat (4 Tbsp. instead of the normal 8 Tbsp.). Olive oil cut down on the saturated fat. To make the waffles more almondy, I added about 1/4 tsp. of almond extract–next time I would try adding 1 tsp. of extract.

Next time for the waffles, I’m considering trying whole wheat flour + gluten + flax seed meal + almond meal for the flour mixture. I’d like to get more fiber into the dish, lowering the glycemic index. If you have other ideas on how to reduce the highly-processed flour and increase the fiber, let me know!

For the salad dressing, we mixed 1 Tbsp. olive oil with 1 Tbsp. sherry vinegar and a touch of balsamic vinegar, red Hawaiian sea salt, and fresh ground black pepper. A touch of honey or agave nectar would likely have had the same general effect as the balsamic–to cut the acidity of the sherry vinegar by adding a little sweetness. We dressed the entire salad with this small amount, tossing with tongs to coat.

In all, great food, friends, and conversation!

Salud!

Progress!

Since I started my low-glycemic diet with The Energy Club 2.5 weeks ago, I can tell that I’m losing weight and inches. My work pants fit just a bit looser. Just last Friday I fit into the jeans I bought last summer but couldn’t reasonably fit into after Christmas. As of last Wednesday, I’ve even lost five lbs according to the “official” gym weigh-ins. That’s a really good feeling.

The low-glycemic diet is working better for me than I ever would have thought. I really don’t get the same types of hunger pangs or blood sugar lows that make me feel like I’m about to scream. I haven’t experienced my typical morning and afternoon low points that I had attributed to Circadian Rhythms. I’ve been waking up more refreshed and ready to accomplish something during the day.

I’ve started to figure out what kind of schedule I need to have to eat healthy, yummy food all week.

Sunday I need to do my wholesale club shopping to buy my fruits and veggies for the week. Sunday night and Monday night I make my healthy high protein, high veggie content entrée for the week. So far it’s been the Turkey Bean Chili and then another soup last week, Black Bean, Sweet Potato, & Italian Turkey Sausage. I made the “Italian Turkey Sausage” on Sunday night and the soup that used it on Monday night after the gym. Unfortunately, the soup this week wasn’t as stellar as the chili experiment, though I know how I’d tweak it if I made it again. I’d ditch the Italian sausage and replace it with either a chorizo style sausage (preferably turkey based for lower fat content) or more beans, like kidney beans. The Italian seasonings in the turkey completely conflicted with the other spices and the sweet potatoes.

I make hummus once or twice a week and that helps with the protein and veggie categories because I eat hummus with veggies. Keeping my food processor clean is essential!

Next up on my “must-have list” is nonfat plain Greek yogurt from BJs. I’m loving it with Penzeys Baking Spice, a pinch of sea salt, Splenda, a sprinkle of flax-seed meal, and fresh fruit for breakfast or a snack anytime of the day. The Greek yogurt is super-high in protein, has no fat, and minimal sugars that are naturally occurring in milk products.

Each night I roast two ounces of almonds for the next day with whatever type of seasoning I’m in the mood for. This past week I tried Vietnamese Cinnamon, Mace, Cayenne, and kosher salt because I was craving the sweet spice smell of the cinnamon. A bonus: the house smells like I just baked! I snack on the almonds mainly in the afternoon and just before I head to the gym but occasionally I add a few to my yogurt and fruit for some crunch.

And I pack most of my lunch into sandwich bags the night before ready to throw in my huge Trader Joe’s insulated grocery bag. I pack the almonds in the morning so they don’t melt the baggie—yes, I learned the hard way!

And my new love as of last week? Red and Ruby Red Grapefruit! It’s part of my new breakfast routine on days I don’t feel like making or eating an omelet. I cut it in half and eat it at my desk at work topped with a little Splenda and flaxseed meal to add texture and healthy Omega-3s and to soak up the spraying juices so I can keep my work clothes clean. This is so simple it barely warrants a recipe, but it’s so delicious and healthy that I want to share it anyway!

Grapefruit for Breakfast


Special equipment to eat at work: Butter knife, grapefruit spoon, plate or bowl, plenty of napkins/paper towels
Prep time: 2 minutes Eat time: easily 10-15 minutes

Ingredients
1 red or ruby red grapefruit
1 packet Splenda
2 Tbsp. flaxseed meal (optional)

1. Using a knife, slice the grapefruit in half on a plate, making sure you have paper towels in your lap if at work. If using the butter knife at work, the slice will be messy. Use a Chef’s knife at home if you want it to look picture perfect.

2. Sprinkle half a packet of Splenda on each side of the grapefruit. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp. flaxseed meal on each side.

3. Using the grapefruit spoon, press the flaxseed meal into the grapefruit to absorb juices to flavor the flaxseed meal and to minimize spray.

4. Eat with the grapefruit spoon and enjoy the leisurely, instant gratification breakfast!

 

Sweet potatoes for dinner

“Yum, yum, yum,” I think to myself as I eat my baked sweet potatoes, seasoned two ways.

I needed a quick, healthy dinner before heading to my friend’s birthday party. So I baked up 2 sweet potatoes at 425 degrees for 45 min to an hour. I decided just to eat one for now and save the other for later.

I wanted to see if I could enjoy sweet potatoes without the added olive oil, butter or sugar of my traditional toppings. So I topped each half with red Hawaiian sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. On the first half I sprinkled Penzeys Baking Spice. On the second half I sprinkled Penzeys Vietnamese Cinnamon. No added fat except the 1/2 tsp. olive oil I rubbed on the outside of each potato prior to cooking and wrapping in aluminum foil.

The verdict for which version I liked better–Baking Spice or Cinnamon: Baking Spice wins by just a hair. I love them both, and I don’t miss the butter and brown sugar or the extra olive oil. Hurray!

Here’s how to make such healthy yumminess at home:

Baked Sweet Potatoes


Special equipment: Aluminum foil, baking sheet (any size)
Time: 1 hr; Prep Time: 5 min; Baking time: 45 to 60 min

Ingredients for each Sweet Potato
1 Sweet Potato
1/2 tsp. olive oil
Dash of Kosher Salt
Black Pepper, freshly ground, to taste
Red Hawaiian Sea Salt, to taste
Penzeys Baking Spice, to taste
Penzeys Vietnamese Cinnamon, to taste

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 425 °F.
2. Wash each potato and dry. Do not prick. Place potato on sheet of aluminum foil. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp. olive oil on potato, rubbing with hands to completely coat. Sprinkle a dash of kosher salt on both top and bottom of potato. Wrap in aluminum foil.
3. Place potato on baking sheet (this prevents the leaking sweet juices from burning on the bottom of the oven and setting off the smoke alarm). Bake in oven for 45 to 60 min until potato is soft when squeezed with gentle pressure with pot holder.
4. Serve potato with last four ingredients, choosing Baking Spice for one side and Cinnamon for the other. Enjoy!

 

Healthy Spinach Omelet

Add the goat cheese and parmesan at this step if using.

 

From here, slide the omelet onto the plate using the spatula to assist

 

 

Check out my new breakfast dish inspired by the Energy Club nutritionist’s recommendations. She says to make an omelet using 4 egg whites plus 1 whole egg for color. I jazzed it up a bit by adding some spinach that I wilted in the same pan and some spices. To keep it healthier/lighter, I left out the cheese I’d normally add. If you want to add cheese, I highly recommend goat cheese inside the omelet with fresh Parmesan cheese grated on top.

Healthy Spinach Omelet

Time: 10 min
Special equipment: Nonstick small to medium skillet

1 large egg
Egg whites equivalent to that from 4 large eggs
2 large handfuls spinach
Sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp. olive oil
Spices (e.g., garlic & shallots, Penzey’s Bouquet Garni, Penzey’s Sunny Paris, Basil & Oregano, etc.)

1. Preheat the nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the 1 tsp. olive oil when hot.
2. Add the spinach and a dash of salt to the pan. Stir the spinach until all is wilted. Remove to a paper towel and gently remove excess moisture.
3. Add egg white and whole egg to pan. Break apart the yolk with a spatula and stir to combine with egg whites. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Stir egg mixture as it cooks until several sections start to stiffen but top is still very runny. Let the eggs sit for about 30 seconds or so to set. Then gently lift up sides and tilt the pan so that the runny egg mixture can run under the omelet. Repeat until the top of the omelet is moist and glistening but not runny.
5. Return the spinach to the pan on top of the omelet. Sprinkle desired spices as well.
6. Using a spatula, lift up one half of the omelet and fold onto the other half. Let cook about 30 seconds more or until done to allow eggs to set.
7. Serve and enjoy!

Variation #1: In step #5, add 1 oz. goat cheese, crumbled. In step #7, top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese