Couscous and Cheese Stuffed Zucchinis

DSC_0421DSC_0426Stuffed vegetable dishes are a great way to reduce your meal’s total calories while increasing your fruit and vegetable intake for the day. This couscous and cheese stuffed zucchini recipe is a quick and tasty dish that can be served as a main course or as a side. The use of fresh basil, oregano and parsley give this dish a bright Italian, but dried herbs work well too.

Other possible substitutions for this include: Parmesan cheese instead of Gouda                    Bell peppers instead of zucchinis.

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Couscous and Cheese Stuffed Zucchinis

Makes 3 full servings, 6 side servings

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil

2 shallots, diced

2 cloves of garlic. minced

1 medium tomato, seeded and diced

1/2 cup low sodium vegetable broth

1/2 cup giant couscous

1 cup Gouda cheese, shredded

3 tbsp fresh basil, chopped (or 1 1/2 tbsp dried basil)

1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (or 1/2 tbsp dried parsley)

1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped (or 1/2 tbsp dried oregano)

3 medium sized zucchinis

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a medium sized saucepan heat oil over low-medium heat. Cook shallots and garlic until softened. Add tomato and season lightly with salt and pepper.
  2. Add vegetable brother to saucepan and bring to a boil. Add couscous, cover and remove from heat. Allow to stand for 10 minutes
  3. Trim off ends of zucchini and slice lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out seeds. Leave about 1 cm thick walls.
  4. Mix in 2/3 cup of Gouda cheese, basil, parsley, and oregano.
  5. Divide couscous mixture among zucchini. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  6. Place zucchinis in a greased baking dish and cover with foil. Bake in 400 F until zucchinis are fork-tender ~ 20 minutes.
  7. Remove foil and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes, allowing the cheese to brown slightly.

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Sweet and Sour Lentils

DSC_0411Lentils are a great choice for any vegetarian meal. They are relatively inexpensive and are quick and easy to prepare. They absorb flavours well from other foods and seasonings, are high in folate, fibre, iron and protein, and are available throughout the year.

This sweet and sour lentils recipe has rich aromatic flavours and is great served over brown rice. It makes for a very filling main dish or can be served as a side. Don’t let this meal’s appearance fool you, it is actually very tasty! _______________________________________________________________________________________

Sweet and Sour Lentils

Makes about 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

2 cups lentils (red, green or a mix)

1 cooking onion, chopped

4 cups water

2 bay leaves

1/2 cup sunflower oil

1/2 cup honey

6 tbsp vinegar

2/3 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce

Directions:

  1. In a large saucepan, combine lentils, onion, water and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and then simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes, or until lentils are soft
  2. In a baking dish combine oil, honey, vinegar, spices and soy sauce.
  3. Add cooked lentils to baking dish
  4. Bake uncovered for 1 hour at 350 F, or until thickened. Stir mixtures a few times while baking.
  5. Remove bay leaves and serve over brown rice.

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Hot Cross Buns

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A hot cross bun is a lightly spiced, sweet bun traditionally made with currants or raisins and marked with a cross on the top. They are traditionally eaten on Good Friday, but have become a popular treat often sold in bakeries year-round. These sweet buns are nicely spiced with ground cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. You can adjust the amounts and types of ground spices to suit your own personal taste. I like to add in raisins or dried cranberries, but you can also try using other types of dried fruits such as cherries.

Hot cross buns are not difficult to make, but just like any other yeast bread they require about 2-3 hours to rise twice and then bake. ______________________________________________________________________________________

Hot Cross Buns

Makes 12

Ingredients:

1 cup skim milk

2 1/4 tsp quick acting dry yeast (1 package)

1/2 tsp white sugar

2- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp ground allspice

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp salt

5 tbsp unsalted margarine or butter, melted

1 large egg, lightly beaten

2/3 cup raisins or dried cranberries

Glaze:

1/2 cup confectioners sugar

1 tablespoon skim milk

Directions:
Option A: Using a bread maker
  1. Place all of the ingredients into the bread maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Select dough cycle.

Option B: Making by hand

  1. Gently heat the milk over low-medium heat until lukewarm.

  2. Add the yeast and 1/2 teaspoon sugar and stir to combine. Set aside for about 10 minutes or until the yeast is foamy.

  3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, sugar, spices, and salt. Once the yeast is foamy, gradually add to the flour mixture and beat until the dry ingredients are moistened.

  4. Add the melted butter and egg and mix until incorporated. Gradually add the dried fruit and continue to knead the dough until it springs back when poked. Add more flour if necessary.

  5. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a clean, damp cloth and then place in a warm spot to rise until it has almost doubled in size (about 90 minutes).

Both (After first rise cycle):

  1. Gently punch the dough down to release the air, and divide into 12 equal pieces. Form each piece into a small round ball and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover with a clean, damp cloth and place in a warm spot until almost doubled in size (about 60 minutes).
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut a ‘cross’ in the top of each bun.
  3. Bake buns for about 15 minutes, or until they are nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool completely before glazing.

    Glaze:Combine the confectioners sugar and milk and mix until smooth. Drizzle icing on in a cross shape.

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Quick Red Bean Burritos

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These red bean burritos make for a speedy dinner. You can bake them as per the directions below or if you are in a rush you can microwave them on medium-high for 2-4 minutes, or until heated through. They are great served with ripe avocado slices, fresh lettuce, additional salsa, and low fat plain yogurt. Each serving has >12 grams of protein and > 6 grams of fibre.

Kidney beans are a very good source of folate. They are also rich in dietary fiber (soluble and insoluble), which can help lower cholesterol and improve blood sugar control.

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Quick Red Bean Burritos

Makes 4

Ingredients:

1 19oz can red kidney beans

1/2 cup salsa

1 1/2 tsp chilli powder

1 1/2 tsp dried oregano

1 1/2 tsp cumin

4 9-inch whole wheat tortillas (usually the Blue Menu ones are lower in sodium)

4 green onions, chopped

1 tomato, chopped

1/2 large green bell pepper, chopped

1 cup reduced fat cheddar cheese, shredded (can use Mozzarella or a mix)

Directions:

  1. Drain and rinse kidney beans, then mass to a chunky paste.
  2. Combine beans, salsa, and spices. Mix well.
  3. Spread 1/4 of the bean mixture over each tortilla. Divide tomato, green onions, and green pepper between the tortillas. Sprinkle with 3/4 of the shredded cheese.
  4. Roll up each tortilla and place seam side down in a lightly oiled baking dish. Sprinkle remaining cheese over top.
  5. Bake in 400F oven for about 10 minutes or until the burritos are heated through and the cheese has melted.
  6. Serve burritos with shredded lettuce, ripe avocado slices, salsa, and low fat plain yogurt.

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Recipe adapted from Anne Lindsay “Lighthearted at Home”