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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
Chocolate is not a common ingredient in Greek traditional recipes because it did not really exist in those parts. You could get a chocolate bar as a treat and only zaharoplastia (bakery/patisserie) offered chocolate cakes or sweets. Nowadays everyone uses chocolate and it is even being added to traditional dessert recipes such as baklava and melomakarona. Personally I think that ruins the dessert. Does juicy syrupy baklava really need chocolate? What’s the point? Don’t get me wrong, I love chocolate, but please don’t dip melomakarona in it.
Having said that, I’m always looking for ways to incorporate some healthier ingredients in chocolate based desserts that usually contain butter. And here we have it: Brownies made with olive oil and Greek yogurt. I basically replaced the butter with olive oil and Greek yogurt. Not only does this cut down drastically on any saturated fat from the butter, but these brownies contain about half the fat of a regular brownie because I replaced half the fat with yogurt. I also used slightly less sugar instead of 1 cup, I used 3/4 of a cup. Read more »
New year’s eve is approaching and apart from the food and drink, the Vasilopita is the center of attention. The vasilopita is a new year’s cake that has a coin hidden in it and is cut at midnight. It is traditional for each family to have their own vasilopita and a piece is cut for each family member. If the coin is in your piece you supposedly have good luck for the rest of the year. Sometimes the vasilopita is cut the next day and businesses as well as associations and ministries all have vasilopites that they cut during the first few weeks of the year.
The vasilopita is a moist cake made with ingredients everyone has at home: sugar, flour, eggs, milk and orange. There is another more bread-like version made with yeast, which is a bit, more time consuming, but in our family we make and like the cake version. Now obviously this is not a particularly healthy recipe, what with the butter, but you usually enjoy only one small piece and if you have leftovers you can enjoy it over the next few days with coffee or tea. Read more »
Continuing with the pumpkin theme, I thought I would share a little known recipe for a super easy, vegan pumpkin cake from the beautiful Greek Aegean island of Sifnos.
I associate the island of Sifnos with my first summer vacation without my parents (but that’s another story), but apart from the wonderful beaches and the charming towns, Sifnos is known for its good food and even better sweets. One of those being Loli. Now Loli means crazy in Greek, that’s right, the crazy cake. Apparently some stories say that they called it that because of all the ingredients they basically threw in a bowl and just mixed them all together… crazily. And that’s exactly how you make this cake: you put all the ingredients in a bowl and then you mix it it, empty it in a pan and bake. Read more »
There is a pear tree in the backyard of my parents house and when we ended up with a bagful of pears which were already somewhat ripe, I knew I had to make a pear cake. Over the summer I had seen on Chow a Greek stand in New York that apparently made a wonderful pear olive oil cake and I wanted one too. I tried several recipes and in the end I was happy with a slightly modified version of a recipe on this Spanish Olive Oil website.
Now, obviously this cake is not only great with coffee and for kids, it does have health benefits. Of course the fat is coming from the olive oil, rich in monounsaturated fats (good fats) that help lower the bad cholesterol in the blood. But with the addition of pears (about 3 cups) you get fiber, but not just any fiber. Pears are actually a good source of both types of fiber: insoluble and soluble. Insoluble helps your GI tract work smoothly, keeps you “regular” and the soluble fiber also lowers bad cholesterol and may be associated with lower blood pressure. I also used whole wheat flour in this version adding some more fiber. So, really, you have a heart healthy cake, that doesn’t taste heart healthy. Read more »
Continuing with the Ancient Greek theme, I came across several recipes while reading all these books about the food of the ancients Greeks, that looked quite familiar. When you look at these recipes, you would never think that they were “ancient”. In fact, they look very similar to recipes Greeks and others make today. So here are 3 Ancient Greek recipes (as described in the book The Classical Cookbook) that use ingredients that you probably have in your kitchen at this very moment, so try them out, they are for the most part healthy and easy. Read more »