Make-Ahead Lunch: Mediterranean Orzo

In this house apartment, kitchen space is limited. The eating out budget is even more limited. Having an easy, inexpensive, make-ahead dish that you (or in my case, my husband) can grab-and-go for lunch is a must. Since the dish must appease both 1) my dietitian standards and 2) a hungry boy’s appetite, I have created a few go-to dishes that I turn to regularly that fit the bill. I might love spending time in the kitchen, but not every kitchen experiment of mine meets both of the aforementioned requirements, and constitutes a respectable meal. I admit, I have a knack for creating “snacks,” which the average individual would call a sweet. And smoothies. I love a good fruit and veggie smoothie.

But back to this fabulous vegetarian pasta dish. Orzo is the base. While it may look like rice, it is a pasta. I highlight this as it is not to be confused as gluten free, nor is it to be considered a healthy alternative to pasta, a la my husband’s thoughts. It is pasta, not a healthy pasta alternative. It just looks a little different from your typical fusilli or fettuccine noodles. If you are looking for something slightly more nutritious than regular Italian Orzo pasta, I recommend the Harvest Grains blend from Trader Joe’s. It is a combination of Israeli style couscous, orzo, baby garbanzo beans, and red quinoa. It has more fiber and protein, plus more texture compared to regular orzo. As with all of my recipes, feel free to substitute ingredients with whatever you have on hand to suit your taste preferences, diet, or budget. You can serve this hot, room temperature, or chilled. I think it’s also great over lettuce, or with a side salad. If you’re able to splurge on a little more at the grocery store, add in cooked shrimp or chopped, cooked chicken! I highly recommend making a big batch of this on a Sunday, and you have taken care of your lunch for a week! *Notice the serving size is for six. That’s because this dish also usually serves as dinner the night it is made. I am all about convenience, people.

Enjoy!

Mediterranean Orzo!

Mediterranean Orzo!

Mediterranean Orzo. Serves 6.

Nutrition Facts: 313 Calories, 5.2g Fat, 14g Protein, 54.6g Carbohydrate, 6g Fiber

1 1/2 cups uncooked Italian Orzo
1 cup Mini Pearl Grape Tomatoes, chopped
4 oz Light Feta Cheese, crumbled
1 1/2 cups Garbanzo Beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 English cucumber, chopped
1 tbsp Olive Oil Extra Virgin
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Ground Black Pepper

Cook orzo pasta according to package.
Wash/ drain one can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas) to remove sodium.
Chop tomatoes, cucumber, and crumble feta cheese. Add to bowl with chickpeas.
Whisk lemon juice and EVOO together with salt and pepper to taste. Add to cooled orzo pasta.
Combine lightly dressed orzo (this is to keep it from drying out and sticking together in clumps) with vegetables.

Add Garlicky Honey Lemon vinaigrette just before serving (Please note, vinaigrette not included in nutrition facts above).

 

Mediterranean Orzo over Kale

Mediterranean Orzo over Kale

Garlicky Honey Lemon Dressing:

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 lemon, juiced
2 Tbsp White Balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp honey
1 garlic clove, crushed
¼ tsp cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine above ingredients, store up to one week in a glass jar. Shake before using. Serve with everything, this stuff is fabulous.

Mediterranean Tuna Nicoise Salad

So this recipe does not actually resemble traditional Tuna Nicoise Salad aside from two ingredients: the tuna and the hard boiled egg. But because those two ingredients in aforementioned salad is what inspired me, the recipe is holding true to its namesake. My blog, my rules.

This salad makes a cheap easy perfect weeknight dinner or lunch. It is easy, inexpensive, and a protein powerhouse brimming with energy-boosting nutrients and vitamins. It’s also pretty to look at and many of the ingredients are probably in your pantry right now. Won and done. I expect this to be added to weekly meal rotations everywhere.

You are free to sub any of the salad toppers for what is actually in your pantry. In my world, salad is code for “throwing random stuff on a plate and calling it a meal.” Think of lettuce as your vehicle for just about anything. This recipe can also easily, like super easily, be increased to two servings since the below only uses half a standard size can of tuna.

Mediterranean Tuna Nicoise Salad. Serves 1.

Nutrition Facts: 370 calories, 16g fat, 31g protein, 28g carbohydrates, 15g fiber. Vitamin C, K, calcium, folate, and fiber from the kale and spinach; DHA and EPA (Omega-3’s) from the tuna; brain-healthy choline from the egg… every essential amino acid from the egg, actually; anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fats from the avocado and olive oil.

Mediterranean Tuna "Nicoise" Salad

Mediterranean Tuna “Nicoise” Salad

2 cups lettuce (I used spinach and Tuscan kale. Full disclosure, mixed greens would have been way more delicious in this, but I didn’t have them on hand)
2 oz canned wild albacore tuna* in water, drained (look for no salt added, or half salt)
1 hard boiled egg, sliced
½ cup white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed under cold running water
1 oz avocado, sliced
1 Tbsp lemon-olive oil vinaigrette (or half of what the below recipe makes)
Lemon wedge for squeezing over top

Tangy Lemon-Olive Oil Vinaigrette:

1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 Tbsp white vinegar (I used White Balsamic vinegar)
1 Tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

*If pregnant, no, I am not, use canned light tuna. It has a fraction (like 1/3 less) of the mercury that albacore tuna contains.

Healthy Vegetable Lasagna

Spring, where art thou? Today in NYC I woke up to ice-covered steps and snow-dusted cars on my street. Just 48 hours ago I was blissfully prancing around Central Park in a tank top. Mother Nature. Wake up, it is spring. Embrace it. Due to the chilly weather, my recipe idea for today changed. Somehow a picnic-themed dish didn’t seem appropriate as I don my puffer coat, for the billionth time this year, but hey, who’s bitter? This recipe is both comforting and warm, yet light enough to keep you feeling healthy and in shape for shorts season, should it ever decide to grace us with its presence.

Traditional lasagna can be very heavy and low in vitamins. I’ve lightened it up by replacing traditional full fat ricotta cheese with cottage cheese and cramming in tons of healthy vegetables. I’ve also omitted the traditional meat sauce in favor of a veggie sauce. Not because I don’t support meat, I mostly just cannot afford to consume it on my starting-salary income. Hence, healthy flavorful vegetable lasagna!

Healthy Veggie Lasagna. Serves 6.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
16 oz cottage cheese (I used non fat/ low sodium)
10 oz frozen broccoli florets, thawed, chopped, squeezed of excess moisture
2 Tbsp parmesan cheese
2 tsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp ground mustard, optional
3/4 cup part-skim shredded mozzarella
3 cups baby spinach (or 1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed
of excess moisture)
2 cups marinara sauce (I used Trader Joe’s Tomato Basil Marinara)
6 No Boil lasagna noodles

Heat oil in medium skillet over medium heat.
Add onion, 1/4 tsp salt/ pepper and cook until tender, 8-10 minutes.
Add garlic, cook for another 1 minute but do not let garlic burn (it can happen fast). Add parsley. Remove from heat.
Blend cottage cheese and broccoli in food processor or blender until smooth.
Transfer broccoli mixture to bowl and add parmesan, lemon zest, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, oregano, ground mustard, 1/2 cup mozzarella, 1/4 tsp salt/ pepper and spinach.
In separate bowl, mix marinara sauce with sautéed onion mixture.

In an 8-inch baking dish (or 2 loaf pans if you’re cooking for two, which is what I did so I didn’t have to cook it all at once. Genius. Just halve the following amounts):

Spread 1/2 cup marina on bottom.
Top with two noodles.
Cover with 1/2 cup marina.
Spread half of broccoli mixture.
Top with two noodles.
Cover with 1/2 cup marina.
Then remaining broccoli.
Add two more noodles.
Top with remaining marinara, sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese
(maybe another few dashes of parmesan cheese for good measure).

Either bake or freeze at this point. If freezing, cover tightly first with plastic wrap then foil to prevent freezer burn. When ready to eat, allow to thaw in refrigerator overnight.

Preheat oven to 425.
Cook at 425 for 35 minutes total, the first 20 minutes covered in foil, the remaining 15 minutes uncovered.

Curious about the nutrition facts? Of course you are. Per serving:
250 calories, 7 grams fat, 18 grams protein, 27 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber. Lots of Vitamin C, K, calcium, and folate from the broccoli and spinach; sulfur, an antioxidant and anti-carcinogen from the onions and garlic; anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fat from the olive oil. Enjoy!

Welcome!

Welcome to Hauser Health, a website dedicated to providing you with nutritious recipes and healthy inspiration to help you be better answer the question, How’s Your Health?!

I know what you must be thinking:  Oh great, another food/ recipe blog adding to an already oversaturated online space. Yes, that market IS oversaturated, and yes, this blog WILL feature food and recipes, but it is coming to you from my perspective making it unlike any other blog out there : )

About Me:

I am a Registered Dietitian with a Master of Public Health Nutrition. My absolute favorite activity is helping people incorporate healthy foods into a balanced diet regardless of budget, cooking skill level, dietary restrictions, and other common obstacles. Eating healthy is delicious, affordable, and fun. Promise!

Before you invest your time in reading my site, you deserve to know (at least a little) about the person on the other side of your screen. I attended The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for undergraduate where I spent a semester abroad in Florence, Italy. There, I really fell in love with cooking and eating fresh, local foods. I have always had an interest in health through nutrition and fitness, but certainly did not always know I was going to make a career out of it. (My resume proves this!). After undergraduate, I moved to New York City, worked on the sales and marketing team of a large fashion company, and quickly fell in love with the fast pace and energy of the city.  The fashion industry? Eh, not so much. I was constantly looking for healthy recipes and reading about nutrition so I could experiment in the kitchen, and finally decided to go after my passion! After 3 ½ tough years of studying, internships, and exams – I graduated from the UNC School of Global Public Health in December 2013 and became a Registered Dietitian. I strongly believe in the importance of equipping people with the knowledge and motivation to live a healthy, balanced life through proper nutrition and physical activity. This site is here to inspire you to take control of your health through recipes, nutrition, and tips for health. Thanks for stopping by and I can’t wait for you to join me in this journey of eating well for a healthier life!