Healthy Cookie: Eggplant Rollantini

Eggplant Rollantini is one of my all-time favorite dishes. It’s basically all the goodness of Eggplant Parmigiana rolled up, and you know how I love my Eggplant Parm. You know what I don’t love though? All that fat and calories. It’s kind of frightening. In fact, I’m eternally grateful that most restaurant menus don’t reveal the caloric count, because I’m pretty sure I’d have a heart attack on the spot. Even though I know deep down the Eggplant Rollantini I ordered in all its breaded, cheese-covered glory is going to tower into the 700-800 calorie vicinity, I prefer to ignore that.

So what is there to do when I want some Eggplant Rollantini without a side of guilt? Make a lighter version, of course! We make a couple of quick switches: lighter cheese instead of full-fat, spinach to bulk up the dish with vitamins, a light marinara sauce, and nix the frying. The last step is doubly helpful because not only do you save fat/calories, but you also avoid pain-in-the-butt breading and frying. Therefore, this Eggplant Rollanti is much easier than the standard recipe.

Just because we’re skimping on calories doesn’t mean we’re skimping on any of the good stuff. Each roll is so stuffed with creamy ricotta and fresh spinach that they’re bursting at the seams. And there ain’t just cheese inside the rolls; they’re covered in a gooey layer of mozzarella too! On a side note: has anyone noticed that I tend to whip out the word “ain’t” when I get really excited?

Well, there’s a lot to be excited about here: tender eggplant stuffed with cheese then topped with more cheese and zesty sauce. It’s such a comforting, filling meal that it’s easy to forget that you can have two honkin’ rolls of eggplant for under 300 calories.

Yay for being full of food, not guilt!

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. You can use part-skim mozzarella instead, which will taste more indulgent. It’ll cost you a few more calories, but will still clock in under 300.
  2. The thinner you slice the eggplant, the easier it is to cut.
  3. This dish actually has a LOT of protein, which makes it a great vegetarian meal.
  4. USE FRESH BASIL. Dried = icky.

Light Eggplant Rollantini
Adapted from Hungry Girl

Yield: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 large eggplant, ends removed, cut lengthwise into 8 slices
  • 1 10-oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 1/2 cups fat-free ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup fat-free liquid egg substitute (like Egg Beaters Original)
  • 2 tsp. chopped garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups low-fat marinara sauce (like Ragu)
  • 1 cup shredded fat-free, reduced fat, or part-skim mozzarella cheese (fat-free will be lowest in calories)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 baking sheets and a 9″ X 13″ baking pan with nonstick spray.
  2. Lay eggplant slices on the baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes. Flip slices. Bake until soft, about 5 more minutes. Leave oven on.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, thoroughly mix spinach, ricotta cheese, basil, egg substitute, garlic, pepper, and salt.
  4. Lay eggplant slices in front of you with the short sides on the top and bottom. Distribute spinach-ricotta mixture among the bottoms of the eggplant slices. Roll up each slice around the mixture, and place them in a single layer in the baking dish, seam sides down. You may want to use toothpicks to secure the rolls, but make sure you remember to take them out before you eat!
  5. Cover rolls with marinara sauce. Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove foil and sprinkle rolls with mozzarella cheese. Bake, uncovered, until cheese has melted, 10 – 15 minutes. Serve it up!

Serving Size: 2 rolls (1/4th of recipe), Calories: 288, Fat: 7.5g, Sodium: 937mg, Carbs: 30g, Fiber: 8.5g , Sugars: 15.5g, Protein: 24.5g (Note: Nutrition stats are calculated using part-skim mozzarella. Fat-free will have less calories and fat).


Guilt-Free Pizza Party!

Sorry for the exclamation marks in the title. I kind of hate people who put exclamation marks at the end of EVERYTHING. I feel they should only be utilized when something is truly exciting or alarming. In defense of my exclamatory title, this is something worth getting excited about. It’s a pizza party! And better yet, it’s guilt-free.

A Guilt-Free Pizza Party may sound like an oxymoron, but it’s not. It’s a beautiful reality, my friends. We’re whipping up quick and easy personal pizzas loaded with customizable toppings, all of which clock in around 200 calories. The best part? They’re completely pizzalicious!

Mushrooms, peppers, & onions

Spinach, onions, & Feta

Tons of ooey gooey cheese? Check. Thin, crispy crust? Check. Zesty sauce? Check. Mounds of awesome toppings? Check. These pizzas have it all! And their personal size means you don’t have to share. Everyone can pick the toppings they want, making these pizzas even more fun, customizable, and crowd-pleasing. No other pizzas could be more party-ready than these. They are so unbelievably delicious, you’ll be convinced you’re doing something bad.

Throw your own Guilt-Free Pizza Party tonight, and you can have it all. You get tasty, cheesy pizza with toppings for everybody’s tastes, plus nutritious benefits and low-calorie goodness. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to party!

Broccoli, onions, peppers, mushrooms

Spinach, onions, mushrooms, peppers

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. I find the 60-calorie pitas near the deli in my grocery store. I’ve also seen them at Walmart. If you absolutely can’t find  them, use a low-cal tortilla instead.
  2. This is a great family meal. It’s healthy, your kids will love eating pizza, and there’s no arguing over what toppings to get since everyone can pick their own!
  3. Just about anything goes for topping these pizzas.
  4. Easily cut down or double up the recipe to feed more or less people.

Guilt-Free Personal Pizzas
By The Smart Cookie Cook

Yield: 4 pizzas

Ingredients:

  • 4 60-calorie whole wheat pitas (like Joseph’s)
  • 1 cup light marinara sauce (like Ragu)
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 4 light mozzarella cheese sticks (like Sargento)
  • 1/2 cup grated or shredded parmesan cheese or feta cheese
  • Toppings of your choice: sliced onions, zucchini slices, mushrooms, light pepperoni, spinach, peppers, eggplant slices, kale, black olives, turkey sausage, broccoli

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Lay pitas in one layer on baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes. Set aside but keep oven on.
  3. Meanwhile, steam any veggies you’re using in the microwave until tender. Drain and set aside. Pull the cheese sticks into strands, keeping them separated in four portions. Roughly chop until cheese is the size of shredded cheese. Set aside.
  4. Spread about 2 tablespoons of sauce onto each pita, using more or less based on your preference. Sprinkle evenly with garlic powder then top with one stick’s worth of mozzarella and 2 tablespoons of parmesan or feta cheese. Top with desired toppings and bake pizzas for 10 minutes, or until crust is golden and cheese is melted. Slice and enjoy!


Double Cheese Zucchini Pizzas

Let’s talk about cheese.

Melty, ooey-gooey cheese atop a crisp crust, paired with zesty marinara sauce, and crowned with fresh slices of zucchini.

Are you hungry yet?

These individual Double Cheese Zucchini Pizzas are going to change your life, no exaggeration. They are so good; I’m talking scarf-the-whole-thing-down-in-60-seconds good. But you know what?

They’re guilt-free. I’m talking low-calorie, low-fat, and packed with nutrients. Let me pause for a moment while we praise the pizza gods…

Since I’m so utterly obsessed with pizza, I am constantly trying new ways to get my pizza fix while still eating healthy. I’ve made everything from Light English Muffin Pizzas (AWESOME) to Pizza Burger Pitas (also delicious). It’s all been incredible, perfect for silencing the pesky voice pleading for pizza in my head. However, this zucchini pizza is the best guilt-free pizza recipe I’ve ever tried. Why? Because it tastes exactly like full-calorie, full-fat pizza!

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Heatlhy Cookie: Cheesy Spaghetti Squash Bake

Have you ever made spaghetti squash? How weird is it when you cut it open, start scooping out its innards, and find that the rumors are true; that it really looks like spaghetti?

Spaghetti Squash is one of the many wonders of food that has always baffled me. How does that little yellow guy naturally shape his squashy interior to resemble pasta? Why isn’t spaghetti squash just one big block o’ squash like other squashes are? Whatever the reason, you’ve got to admit, it’s pretty awesome. Mother nature has a few tricks up her sleeve, no doubt.

Spaghetti squash, like most other squashes, is a nutritious blank canvas just begging to be transformed into something extra special. Lately, on Pinterest, I’ve been seeing folks do just that: they take spaghetti squash and make it into decadent cheese-filled casseroles. We’re talking seriously drool-inducing recipes. The only problem is how fattening and calorie-cramming those dishes are. Isn’t there a way to make a tasty, cheese-tastic squash bake without all that bad-for-you stuff?

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Healthy Cookie: Sauteed Cannellini Beans and Kale

I know; I’ve been going kale crazy lately. But can you blame me? It’s so good!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: kale is the king of greens. It is chock full of nutrients and plain old delicious. It’s the tastiest of all greens in my humble opinion. With all that good stuff in such a natural, untouched form, kale is truly a bundle of benefits given as a gracious gift from Nature itself. In today’s day and age (especially as Americans), we’ve been trained to love foods that are processed, chemically enhanced, and filled with preservatives. Because of this, foods like kale can be confounding. Kale is untouched, a product of Mother Nature only. And yet, it is so delicious and nutritious.

Okay, so nature is pretty awesome sometimes.

Now, there is but one flaw when it comes to kale: it doesn’t have a significant amount of protein. So how do you balance out the meal? With beans, of course!

I love me some beans. Protein-packed, hearty, and plain old delicious, beans are a super food (much like kale). Therefore, they’re the perfect addition to a kale dish. Put beans and kale together, and what to you get? Sauteed Cannellini Beans and Kale.

This dish hits all the right marks:

Delicious? Check.
Nutritious? Check.
Protein-packed? Check.
Flavorful? Double check!

Talk about well-rounded!

Fresh kale and tender, creamy cannellini beans get sauteed with veggie stock, garlic, onions, and of course some spicy red pepper flakes to create a sizzling dish with a myriad of textures and flavors. The whole thing is topped off with reduced-fat mozzarella cheese for that little touch of indulgence that even a nutritious meal needs.

The best part is that this delicious meal is crazy low-cal, so you can stuff your face without having to stuff your bulging belly into jeans that no longer fit tomorrow morning. That’s the best kind of meal!

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. Not a fan of cannellini beans? Garbanzo beans (chickpeas) would be a delicious substitute.
  2. Craving meat? Add some strips of white meat chicken to the mix.
  3. This meal is super fast, perfect for a weeknight dinner.
  4. This would be delicious with some whole wheat pasta!

Sauteed Cannellini Beans and Kale
By The Smart Cookie Cook

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 generous cups roughly chopped fresh kale
  • 1/2 cup cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • salt, to taste
  • red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 reduced-fat or light mozzarella string cheese stick (like Sargento)

Directions:

  1. Bring a medium skillet filled with 1/4 cup of veggie stock to medium heat. Add the garlic and onions. Saute until aromatic and translucent, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the kale and cover. Let simmer for 5 minutes or until kale begins to wilt.
  3. Meanwhile, pull the cheese stick into strings then roughly chop. Set aside.
  4. Once the kale begins to wilt, add the beans, salt, and red pepper flakes and stir. Add up to another 1/4 cup of veggie stock if the kale is too dry for your like. Continue to cook uncovered until beans are hot.
  5. Turn off the heat, but keep the pan over the burner. Immediately sprinkle the cheese over the top then cover until cheese melts, about 1 minute. Grab yourself a bowl and enjoy!