I love cheesecake especially the no-bake type. But sometimes all that butter from the crust and the fat from the condensed milk can be too much, so here is a lighter, “greeker” version that is also super easy to make. Since this is more of a mousse, it is also much easier to assemble, plus the single servings help you keep count of how much you eat.
This is a Greek style cheesecake because the main ingredients are Greek. I used the Greek cheese anthotyro which is a soft fresh cheese similar to ricotta (which you can also use) which is made from sheep milk. I also used lowfat Greek yogurt and the famous pistachio nuts from the island of Aegina. Since the cheese and yogurt are lowfat and not much sugar is used, it has fewer calories, with the fat being much lower than your average cheesecake. But don’t be fooled, this dessert may have less calories, but it tastes just like regular cheesecake. Read more »
Pasta is considered a comfort food for most. It is also a favorite among almost everyone, especially kids. Many people associate the Mediterranean diet with plenty of pasta and assume that this type of diet will make them fat. Well, first of all looking at the traditional Mediterranean diet, pasta was not consumed in large amounts. In the Greek traditional diet pasta was perhaps consumed once a week while in Italy pasta is often consumed in small amount as a first course. And let’s not forget that the rest of meal was rich in vegetables. So no the Mediterranean diet is not about eating large bowls of pasta everyday.
I occasionally make pasta adding several vegetables and cheese. My favorite type of cheese to add to pasta that also reminds me of my childhood meals with both my grandmothers is dry Mizithra or aged mizithra. Aged mizithra is basically made from the leftover whey from the milk. Usually from sheep or goat milk. It is a spicy, salty and hard cheese ideal for grating. Apart from the flavor, it is generally a lower fat cheese, which means you can add a bit more and not worry about it too much. Brands that are exported are often made with less fat, some companies add cream. I have found a dry mizithra here in Greece with very little fat but with a lot of taste. Also dry mizithra is not to be confused with fresh mizithra. Fresh mizithra tastes different, and has a different texture as well. It is almost sweet and soft similar to ricotta. Read more »
Lately I’ve been coming across all these articles about desserts made with olive oil or using olive oil in baking as if it is this new trend. Well in a way it is a trend, outside the Mediterranean that is. Many bakers are just discovering the beauty and merits of baking with olive oil. But here in Greece it is a common ingredient for baking.
This is probably due to two factors: First, olive oil was abundant and much cheaper then butter, which was considered a luxury item. Secondly, Greeks had all those fasting days where they were not allowed to consume animal products, so they had plenty of dessert recipes made with olive oil. And many recipes that require butter also have an olive oil version. Read more »
One of my all time favorite appetizers at a Greek tavern are kolokythakia tiganita (fried zucchini) with tzatziki for dipping. I generally don’t fry that much at home, and if you don’t either, you can enjoy these by baking them.
When baking sometimes you need some extra ingredients to add more taste and a crust. So I crushed regular Greek rusks this time (I will try crushed barley Cretan rusks next time), panko can also work well. Don’t use very fine breadcrumbs because they will not make a nice crust. I added herbs typically used in the traditional zucchini patties such as mint, parsley and dill. Also a touch of parmesan will help form the crust. Read more »
I often make banana bread when I want to have something at home that is sweet, but not a full-blown dessert with hundreds of calories. Now this bread is pretty much vegan as there are are no animal products in it, so it is suitable for those of you who are following the Greek fast (yes it is nistisimo).
But even if you are not a vegetarian or fasting, this bread/cake is delicious with very little saturated fat and no cholesterol. I used olive oil in the place of butter, no eggs, and I also added some slithered almonds which go nicely with the banana rather then the commonly used walnut. I also used a bit of whole wheat flour, just to add a bit more fiber to it. And yes, I added a few mini dark chocolate chips, just enough to give a hint of chocolate. Read more »
This is a nice and easy vegetable dish that really is a complete meal. Beans are one of the most important components of the Greek-Mediterranean cuisine, particularly during fasting periods. They are usually consumed 2 times a week as a soup or cooked (or roasted) with tomato and other vegetables, they also are often combined with greens. This combination is truly one of the most nutritious you can eat.
There are so many benefits to all the ingredients: spinach provides your vegetable serving along with fiber while the lentils are your source of protein, some iron and of course fiber. And all the ingredients including the olive oil and honey provide the antioxidants. Research has shown that beans provide improved glycemic control making them a good choice for diabetics, but also protecting from heart disease as they can help lower cholesterol levels. Read more »
Gliko koutaliou, which translates into spoon sweet, is basically a sweet made from sugar and fruit and sometimes vegetables. Popular spoon sweets include sour cherry (vissino), grape, bitter orange (nerantzi), but you also find eggplant and tomato spoon sweets. These sweets are made by boiling the fruit whole or in large pieces with sugar making a syrupy fruit preserve.
This type of sweet is traditionally served plain on a tiny dish with a spoon along with a cold glass of water. It is also served with yogurt or on top of ice cream. Since it is only fruit and sugar it is low in fat but also nistisimo, in other words it contains no animal products so it can be consumed during fasting periods.
This time I wanted to make beet preserves, I figured they are already quite sweet and so I wouldn’t need too much sugar to make them into a preserve. Read more »
Beets along with their greens are traditionally served here in Greece with skordalia, the delicious Greek garlic sauce. So wherever skordalia goes, beets go too. The beets were cut off from the greens and both were boiled in a large pot. Once they were cooked, they were served with skordalia, feta cheese and bread. This consisted of a whole meal. Yes, the beauty of the Greek diet, vegetable main courses. Many people think that beets are “fattening” because they are what we call a starchy vegetable.
Yes they are mainly carbohydrates, however they are a good source of fiber and they have very few calories: 3 ounces (100 grams) are about 40 calories. More importantly, beets contain several substances that can benefit our health. One of the them known as betaine is a nutrient that may protect from heart disease and stroke, research shows that it can lower homocysteine levels in the blood. High homocysteine is related to a higher risk of heart disease. Beets also contain betalain, a substance with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Now since you are cooking beets, it is good to know that a Cornell study found that processed beets lose very little of their antioxidant activity, and phenolic activity (another beneficial substance) was actually increased. Read more »
It is that time of year in Greece again. The big fasting period is approaching and its beginning is marked with Kathara Deftera (Clean Monday). On that day the food is special, people spend the day flying kites, dancing and eating taramosalata (fish roe dip made with olive oil and bread), olives, lagana (bread), shellfish, octopus and halva (you can read more about it here).
As this is a blog about the traditional Greek diet and food, I am always looking to make little tweaks here and there and make some recipes even healthier. I’ve been trying out some new ways for making taramosalata, and this one with whole wheat bread is outstanding. I have to say that I don’t like messing with traditional recipes if it is going change the taste drastically, but this recipe tasted great. The texture is a bit grainier compared to a taramosalata made with potato and the color is a bit tanner, but taste-wise there is not much difference. Read more »
Last year I posted a chocolate mousse recipe with olive oil that I had learned how to make from Greek patisserie chef Stelios Parliaros. This time around I made a lighter chocolate mousse, again with a Greek twist: I used Greek yogurt. The result is an airy, slightly tangy chocolate mousse.
This recipe is really easy to make and to remember; it needs only 3 ingredients: chocolate, milk and low fat Greek yogurt.
While I wouldn’t call this dessert “light”, I would call it “lighter” as it does have slightly less fat and calories, plus you get about 100 mg of calcium with each serving. Read more »