Super easy cheesy spinach muffins

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Vegetarian

Healthy spinach meets earthy cheese in 12 tasty muffins

Spinach muffins will be your new breakfast, lunch and dinner. They are super easy and quick to prepare and soooo ridiculously tasty. I love muffins, they are just such a smart food. Not in the way we typically tend to thing now when we talk about smart food – as in hyper healthy. Though I would indeed classify it as a healthy eating option. I mean ‘smart’ as in handy. You bake it, it already comes in a perfect serving size for one and you can just carry it around with you without any fuss. Magic.

This muffin combines the healthy aspects of spinach in all its richness in iron, calcium and vitamin K with the earthiness of Swiss mountain cheese. Also, did you know that spinach is an edible remedy for high blood pressure? The potassium, folate, and magnesium in spinach have the power to help you lower your blood pressure.

Another super tasty spinach focused meal is ricotta zucchini and spinach dumplings. So make sure to check out the recipe and cook it on one of those nights, when you look for a new vegetarian recipe to try out.

At a glance

  • Servings: 12
  • Calories per serving: 12 kcal
  • Preparation time: 10 min
  • Oven time: 20 min
  • Total time from start to finish: 30 min

Ingredients

  • 2 Eggs
  • 5.5 ounces (160 grams) of creamed spinach
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 3.5 ounces (100 grams) grated sharp Swiss cheese a.k.a. Alpine cheese (like Gruyère, Appenzeller or Emmentaler)
  • 1 1/2 cups (225 grams) of flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teapoon of pepper

How to prepare cheesy spinach muffins

Step 1: Add the eggs, creamed spinach, vegetable oil, and milk to a bowl and whisk them until well combined. Next, mix in the grated Swiss cheese of your choice. If you have larger cheese chunks, the cheese will come out more prominent in the final muffin. If you use fine grated cheese, it will dissolve more into the dough throughout the baking process in the oven.

Step 2: In a next step, add the flour, baking powder, garlic, paprika, salt and pepper. Use a mixer to combine everything well. Don’t overdo it. Mix it for approximately one minute, that should do the trick.

Step 3: Afterwards, prepare a muffin pan with 12 molds by either buttering the molds or using a baking spray.

Step 4: Use a spoon to distribute the spinach muffin dough to the 12 muffin molds. Fill them to about 2/3.

Step 5: Bake the spinach muffins for 20 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit/180 degrees Celsius. Luckily, muffins – just like cupcakes – only take a few minutes to cool down. Besides, there is something extremely homely in eating freshly baked, warm muffins – to me anyways.

Protein rich broccoli fitness salad

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The kind of salad your life needs right now

Pens and notepads out or hit that shortcut button. This broccoli fitness salad needs to be on your weekday dinner routine list. Not only is it full of good nutrients, it also delivers in the taste department. Big time, in fact!

I am a huge fan of hearty salads after a workout or a day of hiking or loooong walks. I also believe in balance of soul food and healthy food as I strongly advocate to always try to find ways to form a strong union of the two in a meal. This broccoli fitness salad is all that and more as the bacon and the rotisserie chicken add an amazing richness in flavor and the perfect amount of protein to replenish your energy after excersising. You also got your naughty carb source in terms of the sweet corn. On top of that, you got a boat load of vitamins from the veggies.

What makes this broccoli fitness salad a clear winner in terms of dinner (woooooah, that rhymes), is the fact that you won’t feel hungry or crave bread on the side. Which is a negative side effect of so many supposedly healthy salads or meals. They are all nice and dandy and make you feel good, while eating them, but shortly thereafter you catch yourself pacing your kitchen, searching for something to eat like a grizzle bear preparing for hibernation. Which in turn makes your super healthy meal, super unhealthy, if you munch on a dry loaf of bread afterwards to make your stomach stop crying out in hunger pain.

Since the bacon and the broccoli prepare themselves (in the oven and the pot), it’s not too labor intensive, which is another winning aspect of the broccoli fitness salad.

At a glance
  • Category: Healthy food, dinner, fitness food
  • Servings: 2
  • Calories per serving: 548 kcal (without salad dressing)
  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
Ingredients for broccoli fitness salad
  • 1/2 head of broccoli
  • 1/2 rotisserie chicken
  • 1/4 cucumber
  • 1/2 cup of sweet corn
  • 1 large carot
  • 5 slices of streaky bacon

How to prepare broccoli fitness salad

Step 1: Start with the bacon first, as it is the preparation step that takes the longest. For this, place parchment paper on a baking tray and lay the bacon strips on it. Then place the tray in the oven and only then set the temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit/175 degrees Celsius. Thereby the excess fat of the bacon can dissolve better, which is not the case if the oven (or the pan) are already hot. Bake the bacon for approx. 10 min. Then take it out of the oven and let it sit and cool down.

Step 2: Cook the broccoli florets for 5 minutes in a pot with lightly salted water. The idea being, that your greens are slightly softened, but still a bit firm and definitely not soggy or mashy.

Step 3: Next, shred the rotisserie chicken into smaller bits and place it in a large salad bowl. Cut the cucumber and carot into slices and add them to the bowl as well together with the sweet corn. Add the broccoli once it’s done.

Step 4: When the bacon has cooled down, place it in the center of a paper towel. Fold the towel and then crush the bacon into small bits. Drizzle it into the salad bowl as well.

Step 5: Toss up all the ingredients and then – as a last step to finalize your broccoli fitness salad – add a salad dressing of your choice, like simple olive oil and vinegar with a bit of salt and pepper or a creamy blue cheese dressing.

Loved the broccoli fitness salad and crave for more healthy dinner option? Look no further and check out great recipes for tasty healthy meals on Mareike’s Cozy Corner:

Light lemon couscous with cilantro

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Vegetarian

A zesty couscous salad to boost your vitamin C intake

How lemon couscous came into my life. Many moons ago, I had the amazing opportunity to spend a college year abroad in France. For many reasons, this was one of the best experiences I ever had and I will be forever grateful for all the great memories I collected there. While it deepened my love for France and French culture, it also introduced me to a great dish that I had not known of before: couscous.

Although couscous is not French, but from the Maghreb region in Northern Africa, it is widely available in France, thanks to the many French of Algerian, Moroccan, or Tunisian descent. When I returned home after my year abroad, I soon began to miss couscous and was very happy to be able to find it in Middle Eastern stores here so as to recreate it at home.

Couscous is amazingly versatile. It serves as a great side dish, but you can also have it stand-alone as a small meal. You can add just about anything to it that you think might be tasty, like tomato, pepper, meat or, as in the case of this recipe, give it a lemon character.

Lemon couscous is rich in vitamin C and will give your taste buds a zesty treat. This makes it a perfect healthy and uplifting light lunch or a unique companion for grilled chicken breast.

Lemon couscous at a glance
  • Food category: Side dish
  • Servings: 2
  • Calories per serving:
  • Preparation time: 5 min (if you use instant couscous), 15 min if you cook it
  • Soaking time for the couscous: 10 min
  • Total time from start to finish: 15 min
Ingredients
  • 1 cup (165 grams) of (instant) couscous 
  • 1.5 cups (360 ml) of low-sodium veggie broth 
  • 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil 
  • Freshly squeezed juice of ½ a lemon
  • 2 tablespoons of freshly chopped cilantro
  • ½ a cup of diced up artichokes
  • ½ a teaspoon of kosher salt 
  • ½ a teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes 

How to prepare lemon couscous

The first step will differ a bit, depending on the preparation instructions of the couscous grains you are using. In general, there are typically two different approaches to how to prepare the couscous. Option 1 requires you to cook the grains in a liquid, and option 2 or instant couscous entails boiling water, pouring it over the grains and letting it soak until tender. I tend to prefer the latter, as it’s more hassle-free.

Step 1: Mix the veggie broth, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and bring it to a boil. Then, add the couscous grains and either let them soak or cook them, depending on the preparation instructions provided on the package.

I always already add the salt, pepper and olive oil in this first step, as you thereby ensure that the grains are nicely infused and don’t become glued together like cement. You thus essentially ensure that you have a fluffy result.

Step 2: After the lemon couscous has sufficiently soaked, which tends to be the case after 10 minutes, the grains should have softened up and all the liquid should be gone. Now, fluff the couscous with a fork.

Step 3: Add the cilantro and artichokes to the couscous, as well as a pinch of red pepper flakes.

Voilà – your lemon couscous is ready. This is really about all there is to it, which makes this vitamin C-infused recipe not only a great and healthy side dish but also one that you can prepare without much thinking involved, a.k.a., perfect at the end of the day, when you just want to unwind and not focus too much on cooking and not risk burning anything.

Loved the lemon couscous recipe and want to discover more tasty side dishes?

Delicious goat cheese focaccia with sundried tomatoes and olives

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Goat cheese focaccia with sundried tomatoes and olives incorporates the full flavors of what we think about when we hear mediterranean food.

Italian focaccia is essentially a flat-bread that goes back to the Etruscans. The Etruscans date back to about 900 BC and their territory covered large parts of what is Italy today. They slowly assimilated with Rome, eventually became Roman citizens and were finally incorporated into the Roman empire around 27 BC. While their civilisation might have disappeared, they left us delicious food that we still enjoy today, like focaccia.

Focaccia is a bit like a thicker version of pizza bread and just like pizza, you can add all sorts of tasty toppings to it. This recipe for goat cheese focaccia bread uses sundried tomatoes and olives, which gives it a nice mediterranean flavor. So it’s essentially a little bit like going on a culinary short-trip to Italy.

I know, goat cheese to many is a bit of a love it or leave it kinda deal. You rarely see anyone saying they are neutral towards it. This is partially due to the unfortunate habit of some (cheaper) goat cheeses to have a very distinct goat-y flavor. Something I am not too fond of either. Good quality goat cheese is however simply devine and lifts up the deliciousness of any dish you add it to, like with my goat cheese galettes. This is why I made them the star ingredient of this simple goat cheese focaccia recipe.

At a glance

  • Yield: 1 bread
  • Servings: 10 thick slices
  • Preparation time: 10 minutes
  • Rest time for the dough: 90 minutes/1 hour 30 min
  • Oven time: 20 min
  • Time from start to finish: 2 hours
Ingredients for the foccacia dough
  • 10.5 ounces (300 grams) of bread flour
  • ¾ cups (7 ounces/200 ml) of lukewarm water
  • ¾ of an ounce (21 grams) of fresh yeast
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
Ingredients for the goat cheese foccacia topping
  • 5 ounces (140 grams) of goat cream cheese
  • ½ cup of diced-up black olives
  • ½ cup of diced-up sundried tomatoes
  • 1 generous tablespoon of (acacia) honey
  • ½ teaspoon of dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon of rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt

How to prepare goat cheese focaccia

Step 1: Let the yeast dissolve in lukewarm water a large bowl. Then drizzle in the flour, olive oil and salt and thenknead everything thoroughly until you have a smooth dough.

Step 2: Place the bowl in a warm-ish spot in your kitchen and let the yeast work its special growth magic for about one hour. During this time frame, the bread for your goat cheese focaccia should at least double in size.

Step 3: When the 60 minutes are up, form a flatbread out of the dough and let it rest for another 30 minutes. Don’t let it rest too long though, as the yeast will continue to let the dough rise and allow too much air being capitured in it. This would result in too many and too big holes in the dough, which is not desirable.

Step 4: Afterwards, poke little holes into the dough with your fingers and sprinkle it with a bit of olive oil. Add the chopped up olives and sundried tomatoes to the moulds you poked with your finger. Next, spread out the goat cheese and drizzle the thyme, rosemary, salt and honey on top.

Step 5: Bake the goat cheese focaccia for 20 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit (220 degrees Celsius) in the oven.

I love eating the goat cheese focaccia when it’s still a bit oven-warm and only with butter, as the goat cheese, honey, sundried tomatoes and olives provide all the flavors needed to make this a well rounded snack or bread on the side. Hope you enjoy this as much as I do.

Sugar-free low-carb cinnamon star cookies for Christmas

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Twinkle, twinkle little star!

The key ingredient to low-carb cinnamon star cookies is cinnamon. It is one of those ultimate Christmas spices, so naturally you should make some cinnamon cookies to get into the holiday cheer and Christmas spirit. Cinnamon stars are therefore a very traditional German Christmas cookie and oh so tasty. Like all festive treats, they contribute to the all-time favorite New Year’s resolution being made: to lose weight. Therefore, these cinnamon stars are a low-carb and sugar-free version of this classic sweet.

The recipe for low-carb cinnamon star cookies does not use regular sugar, but a sugar alternative. I list xylitol or coconut sugar, as they are my preferred ones and I highly recommend using one of the two. You can also use stevia if you like (in that case, double the amount) or erythritol. Be careful with the latter, as it can have a laxative effect.

These low-carb cinnamon star cookies are best for quick consumption, although you can of course also store them. In that case, as they tend to get hard relatively quick, store them with an apple, which will give them some moisture and thus keep them from hardening up.

At a glance
  • Servings: 25-30 cookies (approx. 2 baking trays)
  • Calories per serving: approx. 108 kcal
  • Preparation time: 30 min
  • Oven time: 11-13 min
  • Total time from start to finish: 45 min
Ingredients
  • 4 egg whites
  • 14 ounces (400 grams) of ground almonds
  • 1 cup (8.5 ounces/240 grams) of powdered sugar alternative like xylitol or coconut sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla aroma or 1 vanilla pod
  • A pinch of salt

Preparation of low-carb cinnamon star cookies

Start by adding the egg white to a large bowl and whisk it until stiff. Sieve in the powdered sugar alternative and carefully fold it in. Place 5-6 tablespoons of the egg white/sugar blend aside in the fridge. You will need it later as a topping for the cinnamon stars. Next, fold in the almond ground, cinnamon spice, vanilla, and salt until you achieve evenness in the dough.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit/150 degrees Celsius and prepare two baking trays with parchment paper. As the dough is super sticky – and I DO mean that – we’ve gotta proceed with caution when it comes to rolling it out.

Essentially, you have two options. Place a silicon mat or a large sheet of plastic wrap on your kitchen counter, drizzle a bit of powdered sugar alternative on top, then lay the dough on it and either wrap the kitchen roll with plastic wrap or place a large sheet of plastic wrap on top of the dough. I tend to opt for wrapping the kitchen roll. Btw, if you don’t have a kitchen roll, use a water or wine bottle. Roll out the dough until it is about ¼ inch/0.5-1 centimeter-thick.

Now you have a tough choice to make: which cookie cutter shape will it be? The traditional star shape, a Christmas tree, a reindeer, an elephant, or all of them in rotation? Cut out the cookies and place them on the baking trays. One great hack to avoid the dough sticking to the cookie cutter is setting it in water in between cookie cutting. Afterwards, use a cooking brush, apply the cold egg white from the fridge as a topping, and then bake the cookies for 11 minutes if you have 30 cookies or 13 minutes if you have 25 (as they are a little larger and thus need a bit longer).

When you take the cookies out of the oven, let them cool down on a cooling rack. They should be ready for serving after only 15 minutes.

Image gallery on how to prepare low-carb cinnamon star cookies