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 »
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 »
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 »
Everybody knows the famous spanakopita also known as spinach pie, a combination of spinach and feta cheese. But something I like even more is a greens pie. It is one of the secrets of the Greek diet. Various greens mixed with herbs and a bit of feta (or not) tucked in layers of phyllo dough.
Within the traditional Greek diet, the consumption of greens, particularly wild greens contribute largely to the benefits of the diet. They are good sources of various antioxidants as well as omega-3 fatty acids. These greens can be consumed boiled or cooked in olive oil and accompanied with lemon juice and feta, but also in pites (pies). Pites are a fine way to eat vegetables and even more so greens. And this applies to kids as well; my kids happily will eat 2-3 pieces in one sitting. Read more »
This little recipe came about a few days ago. My parents came over and I had nothing in terms of vegetables to make a somewhat warm healthy appetizer, except carrots. Now carrots are great, they are an excellent source of beta carotene, antioxidants and fiber and have few calories, but you rarely come across them as an appetizer, with the exception of having them raw with dip. So with just carrots in the fridge I thought of making small bite-size patties similar to the Greek recipe for zucchini patties (kolokithokeftethes).
I kept these light and basically combined shredded carrots with some herbs and cumin and a touch of feta. Also eggs and bread crumbs to keep it all together. I tried these baked in a mini muffin pan but I also made a batch sautéed in a bit of olive oil, (see photo below). Both were gone within minutes, and the kids loved them, although I have to admit that the lightly fried ones had a better texture. Read more »
When you go to a traditional tavern in Greece you often see on the menu salata epohis meaning seasonal salad, in other words salad that is made with seasonal vegetables. In the winter that salad is cabbage and carrot (lahano-karoto).
Everything is shredded very much like coleslaw, but the dressing is not mayonnaise based but as expected olive oil based. Typically this salad is served with an olive oil-lemon (or vinegar) dressing with an almost equal amount of each with a ratio of about 4:3 (olive oil to lemon juice or vinegar). It may be served with some black olives Kalamon for decoration.
Obviously this salad is super-healthy and filling. Cabbage belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family along with cauliflower and broccoli. These vegetables are rich in certain compounds that appear to have anticancer effects, although it is still not clear to what extent. As with most vegetables, cabbage has very few calories, one cup has a mere 27 calories and it is a good source of fiber, vitamin C and folate. Read more »
I will continue with one more of my favorite olive foods: olive bread. In Greek it is called Eliopsomo. This bread is really something else; it can be a small meal, a snack, breakfast and an appetizer. I remember having a piece of this moist savory bread after a day on the beach and it just hit the spot. This bread makes a good snack nutritionally: the olives provide some fat while the feta some protein and the whole-wheat flour will give you fiber. These three nutritional components (fat, protein, fiber) provide satiety, making it an ideal snack or small meal. Of course you are getting some good antioxidants from the olives as well.
Now authentic Greek olive bread is of course vegetarian, and something Greeks could snack on during their religious fasts that prohibited animal products. My version includes cheese so although it wouldn’t be appropriate for Greek fasting, it is OK for vegetarians who also consume dairy. I also used half whole-wheat flour making it a bit healthier and heartier. Read more »
Now that it’s apparent why olives should be part of your everyday food routine, it is useful to have a variety of ways to include them in your diet. Of course you can eat them plain with some bread, cheese and tomato which I have to admit is one of my favorite ways to enjoy them, but another way is making an olive paste or as it is known olive tapenade.
Now a year ago I had written about olive tapenade and had mentioned that it really is not a Greek product, but Provincial French one. But is it? Well, apparently its origins may be in ancient Greece. We know that olive oil was one of the Three Fundamentals, the three most important components of their diet (the other 2 being bread and wine) of the ancient Greeks. A recipe of the time described using black olives and combining them with vinegar, honey, cumin, fennel, coriander and mint. When I had visited Crete, Cretan chefs and culinary students, explained that in Crete during times of war olive paste was a basic food for survival it was served on bread. So, olive paste really is also a Greek product. Read more »