Category Archives: Breakfast

How to Make Your Own (Sugar-Free) Nutella + No-Bake Coco-Chia Balls

A friend recently posted on Facebook that she was shocked (well, more like bummed out) to learn Nutella contains partially hydrogenated oil, aka trans fat. (“Tell me it ain’t so,” she sighed.) Yep, it’s true, but more troublesome is Nutella’s sugar content: 11 grams per tablespoon! In fact, sugar is the first ingredient listed. (FYI: Ingredients in packaged foods and drinks are listed from most to least.) However, it’s not my friend’s fault for thinking Nutella is healthy; after all, it’s marketed as a wholesome spread for children (hyperactive, irritable, cavity-ridden children?) when it’s really a glorified sugar spread. I mean, a tablespoon of Nutella (and who has just one tablespoon?) packs a third more sugar than a spoonful of chocolate chips or a snack size Snickers.

The point of the story is that, coincidentally, I had made a Nutella-type spread a couple of nights prior. (Cue weird music.) Since then, I’ve made it a lot. In fact, I frost pretty much everything with it—bananas, sliced apples, rice cakes, toast (grilled banana chocolate sandwich, anyone?), hotcakes, cardboard—it’s good.

Feel free to play with the consistency (add more milk for more of a dip or sauce, which I bet would be delicious warmed and drizzled over fruit or Greek yogurt) and to use any nut or seed butter. I also tried it with coconut butter, but since coconut butter hardens in the fridge, my spread turned into fudge (not a bad thing, mind you).

Meg’s Sugar-Free, Better than Nutella Spread

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup hazelnut butter or peanut butter (if you’re frugal like me)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup almond milk (use less for a thick spread; add more for a thinner consistency)
  • 1 Tbs vanilla
  • 4 packets stevia blend (equal to 3 Tbs sugar or so), or to taste (I used Krisda Caramel stevia.)

Directions: Whisk ingredients in a bowl until smooth. Refrigerate. (It will thicken slightly in the fridge.)

Per Tbs: 41 calories, 3g fat (0g sat, 0g trans), 7mg sodium, 1g fibre, 0g sugar, 1g protein

(Per Tbs of actual Nutella: 100 calories, 6g fat (2g sat, 0g trans), 5mg sodium, 1g fibre, 11g sugar, 1g protein)

For another easy snack, make my No-Bake Coco-Chia Balls. If you close your eyes and try really hard, they kind of taste like brownies. Kind of.

So many ways to use “Not-Nutella”: as a dip for sliced pear, as a filling for banana-wiches, as frosting for muffins (these are actually protein pancakes baked as muffins). My No-Bake Coco-Chia Balls are on the right. Cocoa overload!

Feel like procrastinating some more? Me too.

  • Grey skies wearing you down? Take more vitamin D: studies link vitamin D deficiency to depression. (I take 4000IU daily.)
  • Socca, chickpea flatbread, is on my to-make list. Lebovitz’s or Bittman’s recipe—you can’t err with either.
  • Foam rolling helps to ease muscle tension and speed recovery; one of these days I’m going to use mine!
  • Spring clean, save money and breathe easier with DIY eco-wise cleaners.
  • Noise pollution: A pitfall of urban living (hi, 3am sirens), it can affect us mentally and physically.
  • Bored of sweet potato fries? Try green bean “fries”: low in carbs and calories!

How to Make “Pookies” (a.k.a. Protein Cookies) + Bonus Baking Mix

In my opinion, the key to eating healthfully (and for less money!) is to plan and to make your own meals and snacks. Just think, how many times have you been caught—at work, on your commute, while travelling—with only drive-thrus and vending machines to choose from? Suddenly, a Starbuck’s scone (or worse) is the only thing standing between you and a hunger-fueled meltdown. Friends and family members will confirm (eyes rolling) that I’ve always got snacks on me. Weddings, the airport, the mall, Costco . . . wherever I am, I’ve likely stashed an energy bar, a Vitamuffin knock-off, an apple or a “pookie,” a.k.a. protein cookie, in my purse. Preventive measures, people!

Are my pookies on par with grandma’s oatmeal cookies? Hell, no. But they’re pretty tasty, packed with protein, fibre and omega 3s, and easy to make. Although using protein powder, particularly whey isolates, in baking typically yields dry, hockey puck-like goods, these are fairly moist (do not omit the oil, however!). Though you can make smaller pookies, I prefer giant pookies—the larger size is perfect to wrap and grab on the go. Plus, each boasts 11 grams of protein, 3 grams of fibre and only 175 calories and 4 grams of (naturally occurring) sugars, making them ideal for breakfast (pair a couple pookies with iced coffee for a speedy, satiating meal) or after a workout.

Meg’s Pookies (a.k.a. Protein Cookies)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups oat flour*
  • 1 cup vanilla whey protein powder (I like IsaLean Shake in Creamy Vanilla or IsaPro in Vanilla)
  • ½ cup ground flaxseed (use golden flax–not dark brown–for a lighter taste)
  • 6 packets stevia blend (equivalent to 4 Tbs sugar)
  • 1 Tbs cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ cup mashed ripe banana (1 medium banana)
  • 1 Tbs vanilla
  • 4 Tbs vegetable oil (e.g., olive, walnut, coconut)
  • ½ cup water or milk
  • 1/3 cup raisins or chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk flour, protein powder, flax, stevia, cinnamon and baking soda. Add banana, vanilla, oil, water and currants; stir to combine. Place six 1/3-½ cup mounds of batter on each baking sheet, spacing each at least an inch apart. Use wet fingers to flatten and shape. Bake 8 minutes (do not overbake!). Let cool; store in an airtight container (or in plastic wrap) in the fridge. Makes 12 BIG pookies.

Per pookie: 175 calories, 8g fat (1g sat, 0g trans), 119mg sodium, 3g fibre, 4g sugar, 11g protein

Tips & Variations:

  • *To make oat flour, grind oats in a blender or food processor to a flour-like consistency.
  • Don’t do dairy? Use rice protein powder (or other type), but you may need to use more or less liquid (banana, oil, water, etc.), depending on your powder.
  • Substitute canned pumpkin or unsweetened applesauce for banana (you may need to increase the amount of sweetener to ½ cup).
  • Use different extracts, such as almond or coconut.
  • Substitute chopped nuts, seeds, chocolate chips or other dried fruit for raisins.

Bonus: Meg’s Protein Pancake Baking Mix

Check out my protein baking mix to make delicious pancakes (or muffins) in a flash!

See, I told you I like ’em big! Wrapped and ready to eat, my pookies are on the left and my protein pancakes are on the right. As the saying goes, “fail to plan, plan to fail”!

Easy Chickpea Tomato Soup

It’s hardly gourmet fare, but this soup is perfect for cold, snowy (or rainy, in Vancouver’s case) winter nights.  Besides, why resort to (preservative- and sodium-laden) storebought soup when you can make a tastier, healthier version in minutes?!

Bonus: Studies show that eating canned tomatoes may protect skin from UV damage, thanks to a high concentration of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. In fact, cooked and canned tomatoes (e.g., tomato paste, tomato sauce) contain more lycopene than fresh.

Ingredients:

  • 1 32-oz. carton (4 cups) low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes (regular or with basil; salt-free variety preferred)
  • 1 cup low-fat milk or unsweetened non-dairy beverage
  • 1 19-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 Tbs basil pesto or fresh, slivered basil, optional

Directions:

In a large pot, bring broth and tomatoes to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat; stir in milk and chickpeas; simmer over low heat 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Ladle soup into bowls; stir 1 tsp pesto into each or garnish with slivered basil. Serves 6.

Per serving: 202 calories, 3g fat (0g sat, 0g trans), 431mg sodium, 9g fibre, 6g sugar, 10g protein

Yes, it's tomato soup. I added a couple handfuls of baby spinach during cooking, just for fun. (And don't mind the white-ish bits; I had stirred in some feta prior to taking the photo.)

Super (Simple) Salmon Burgers

These easy, tasty burgers combine some of my favourite foods: salmon, squash, oats and mustard (mustard is a food in my book). Ultra low in calories and carbs, they’re packed with fat-burning protein and omega-3s; heck, you could eat the batch in one sitting if you like. They may even rival my favourite Costco find: Trident Seafoods wild salmon burgers.            P.S. I haven’t yet made these with canned tuna, but I plan to, as I bet they’d taste great. For a vegan option, sub mashed cannellini beans for salmon.

Ingredients:

  • 1 213-g can wild salmon (no-salt variety preferred, e.g., Goldseal No-Salt Pacific Pink Salmon)
  • 1/2 cup cooked, mashed butternut squash or sweet potato
  • 1 Tbs whole grain mustard
  • 3 Tbs oat bran (or oats or bread crumbs)
  • 2 Tbs fresh chopped parsley, if you have it
  • Pepper and/or no-salt seasoning blend, to taste (e.g., Spike Salt-Free Magic)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400F. In a bowl, combine ingredients. Shape into 4 patties and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes; flip; bake 10 minutes more. Alternatively, cook over medium heat in a lightly oiled non-stick skillet, about 3 minutes per side. Serve over shredded cabbage, rainbow coleslaw or salad greens; top with salsa, avocado or guacamole, hummus or more mustard!

Per burger: 99 calories, 4g fat (1g sat, 0g trans), 84mg sodium, 1g fibre, 0g sugar, 12g protein

Yes, I love mustard! (For a quick, light dressing, whisk mustard, oil and lemon juice; drizzle over burgers/salad.)

“Secret Ingredient” Blender Brownies—Gluten- and Dairy-Free!

Black bean brownie recipes have been floating around the Web for a while, but I’d never tried them till recently. Based on my other dessert-type “experiments” with beans (such as my banana chickpea bars—fail), I’d figured they’d taste, well, like beans! But, and I kid you not, these brownies, which were inspired by this recipe, are moist and delicious and have no “bean-y” taste. And they take mere minutes to whip together. Gluten-, dairy- and totally guilt-free, they’re high in protein and fibre and low in carbs and sugar. If your New Year’s resolution is to eat better (and whose isn’t?), these are perfect. Try them!

Ingredients:

  • 1 398-mL can black beans (1½ cups), well rinsed and drained
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 Tbs vegetable oil (e.g., olive, canola or walnut oil)
  • 1 Tbs vanilla
  • 6 Tbs cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 15 packets stevia (equivalent to ½ cup +  2 Tbs sugar) OR ½ cup + 2 Tbs sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder (*Adding baking powder yields a more “cake-y” brownie; omit for more “fudge-y” brownies.)
  • ¼ cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line an 8-inch baking dish with parchment paper (or spray with cooking spray). Blend beans, eggs, applesauce, oil, vanilla, cocoa, cinnamon, stevia (or sugar) and baking powder in a blender or food processor until smooth. Transfer batter to prepared dish. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over batter. Bake 25 minutes. Let cool, then slice into 16 squares. Keep refrigerated.

Per square (using stevia): 65 calories, 3 g fat (1 g sat, 0 g trans), 19 mg sodium, 2 g fibre, 2 g sugar, 3 g protein

Meg's Black Bean (but Delicious!) Blender Brownies

How to Prevent a Hangover (& Fat-Burning Detox Shake Recipe)

‘Tis the season . . . for the hangover. Though I feel most people use the “It’s the holidays!” excuse to scarf shortbread, swap cookies (“I’ll trade you four dozen rum balls for rugelach”), spike everything with Bailey’s, and take a month-long hiatus from any exercise that doesn’t involve trolling the liquor store for more Cabernet, chances are good this free-for-all, “holidays are but once a year” attitude ain’t gonna change anytime soon. I mean, Jesus would want us to celebrate his birth with chocolate martinis, right?

So to keep feeling festive through January 1, use these preemptive strategies during the holidays (and throughout the year). And if—despite your best intentions, of course—you overimbibe, I’ve included some “morning after” remedies.  Hey, it’s the holidays!

Meg’s No-Hangover Tips

Before the Party:

  • Eat a nutritious meal or snack containing lean protein and healthy fats (e.g., turkey and hummus wrap; Greek yogurt with chopped apple, cinnamon and almonds; my Skinny Egg Muffin or Detox Shake) before imbibing will help you metabolize alcohol more slowly; fat- and oil-containing foods (e.g., nuts, nut butter, flaxseed, avocado, olive oil) also buffer the stomach lining, helping to prevent intestinal irritation and nausea. (Bonus: A preparty snack will help thwart a buffet binge.)
  • Drink . . . water. Or eat water-rich fruits or veggies, such as apples, oranges, cucumber and celery. A hangover is primarily caused by dehydration, thanks to the ethanol in alcohol which increases urine output (layman’s terms: makes you pee). Keeping hydrated will offset most of alcohol’s inevitable aftereffects (cue dry mouth, fatigue and a POUNDING headache . . . ).

Party Trivia: The ethanol in alcohol breaks down in the body to acetaldehyde, a potent carcinogen more toxic than alcohol itself. Congeners, toxic byproducts of alcohol fermentation, can also affect the severity of a hangover. Red wine (especially cheaper plonk) and dark liquors (e.g., bourbon, scotch, whiskey, tequila) have more congeners than white wine and clear spirits (e.g., vodka, gin, white rum).

At the Party:

  • Pace yourself and—wait for it—don’t drink to excess. Remember, the key to avoiding a hangover (aside from not drinking!) is to stay hydrated, so alternate an alcoholic drink with a large glass of flat or sparkling water.
  • Nibble wisely: for every drink, nosh a few nuts, a couple of cheese cubes or a smoked salmon crudite to moderate alcohol absorption.
  • Keep it clean. That is, mix spirits with club soda or sparkling water only; not only are juices, pop, punches and drink mixes laden with sugar and calories, but many contain artificial preservatives, sweeteners and other additives, which can cause or exacerbate headaches, nausea and allergies.

More Trivia: Many alcohols, including wine and beer, contain preservatives such as sulphites, which Health Canada ranks as one of the nine allergens most likely to cause a severe reaction. So if you’re sensitive to sulphites in foods, you’ll likely react to sulphite-containing alcohols, notably red wine.

After the Party:

OK, so you didn’t take my advice, and twinkling tree lights now resemble a spinning disco ball. Seek relief (and relieve your liver) with these hangover remedies:

  • Rehydrate with water first thing. (Sorry, the “hair of the dog” “cure” is anything but!) Skipping coffee will probably exacerbate a throbbing head, so drink an extra glass of water to counter caffeine’s diuretic effects.
  • Pass on greasy breakfast fare, but make it sunny-side up: eggs are full of cysteine, a protein that binds to and removes hangover-inducing acetaldehyde from the body. Or sip my detox shake, which contains whey (also high in cysteine) and mineral electrolytes.
  • Get out for a walk and fresh air; exercise and oxygen raise the body’s metabolic rate, which will assist the liver in eliminating alcohol’s toxic metabolites. Sweating in a sauna or hot shower or bath will also speed detoxification.

Hangover No-No: Don’t take acetaminophen (Tylenol) for a hangover; the combination (alcohol + acetaminophen) can cause liver damage.

Drink Responsibly: Alcohol can be addictive, and it may raise the risk of some cancers; the maximum recommended intake is one to two drinks per day. (A standard serving is five ounces of table wine, 12 ounces of beer or 1½ ounces of spirits.)

Megan’s Detox/Fat-Burning Shake

This delicious shake is full of alcohol-depleting mineral electrolytes, including calcium, magnesium and potassium. It also contains vitamin C, a potent antioxidant, and metabolism-boosting B vitamins, including vitamin B12 and vitamin B1 (thiamine), which may reduce brain accumulation of glutarate, a compound linked to headaches. Bonus: Studies find whey protein is a proven fat burner.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup filtered water
  • ½ cup frozen peaches or strawberries (can also sub ½ cup ice)
  • 1½ scoops vanilla whey concentrate powder (I used 1 scoop IsaLean Shake and ½ scoop Isapro)
  • ½ tsp orange-flavoured powdered vitamin C/electrolyte powder (I like Energenix by Isagenix)

Directions: Add ingredients to blender in order listed. Blend until smooth. Drink immediately. Serves 1.

  • Delicious and detoxifying - give that liver a break!

    Delicious and detoxifying – give that liver a break!

Meg’s Deep Chocolate VitaMuffin Knock-off Recipe (Ready in Two Minutes!)

Homemade for the win. My VitaMuffin knock-off has more protein and less sugar and is much cheaper, too!

Have you seen VitaMuffins in the freezer section at the grocery store? I’ve been tempted to buy them, but at roughly $6 per package (for four tiny muffins!), I’ve resisted. I knew I could make my own for less, and I knew I could make a more satisfying (did I mention VitaMuffins are tiny?), lower-sugar, higher-protein version. In two minutes. I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve made this mini cake at least once a day every day for two years. I vary the ingredients all the time, using different extracts, flours, etc.—experiment to your heart’s delight. (Cocoa powder happens to be good for your heart, as if you needed another reason to make this . . . . )

Meg’s Single-Serve Deep Chocolate VitaMuffin Knock-off

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbs oat flour*
  • 1 Tbs cocoa powder
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 2-3 packets stevia (equivalent to 1.5-2 Tbs sugar) (I prefer things slightly bittersweet and use 2 packets of Sugaresque, my favourite sweetener. Here’s a $1 coupon!)
  • 1 egg white or 2 Tbs liquid egg whites
  • 2 Tbs plain Greek yogurt or regular plain yogurt
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp mini chocolate chips

Directions:

Mix ingredients in a small bowl. Transfer batter to a lightly sprayed ramekin, coffee mug or small dish. Microwave on high 90 seconds. Remove cake from dish; split in half and “frost” with cream cheese, mashed berries (cream cheese + mashed berries = delicious), ricotta, yogurt, peanut butter whip, nut/seed butter or a few dark chocolate chips.

Per cake: 205 calories, 5 g fat (2 g sat, 0 g trans), 65 mg sodium, 4 g fibre, 6 g sugars, 11 g protein

Tips & Variations:

  • *To make oat flour, blend oats in a food processor to a flour-like consistency. I like oat flour because it lends a slight natural sweetness and, unlike whole wheat flour, doesn’t have a “wheat-y” taste, but you can swap it for other flours (e.g., brown rice, whole wheat pastry, half white/half whole grain flour).
  • For even more fibre, replace 1 Tbs flour with 1 Tbs wheat bran or oat bran.
  • Make it more fudge-y by using more cocoa powder and less flour; add extra sweetener.
  • Substitute canned pumpkin, unsweetened applesauce, ricotta or mashed banana for yogurt.
  • Add ¼ teaspoon cinnamon for natural sweetness and antioxidants. (Studies show cinnamon helps to lower blood sugar levels, which helps with weight loss.)
  • Sub other extracts for vanilla (e.g., almond, maple, coconut, peppermint).
  • Swap carob powder for cocoa powder. When using carob powder you can usually add less sweetener, as carob powder has a slight natural sweetness.
  • No microwave? Oven-bake 15 minutes at 350F.
  • Peanut butter cupcake: Spoon half of the batter into dish; top with a teaspoon of peanut butter, then top with remaining batter. Bake as directed.
  • Coconut cupcake: Add 1 Tbs unsweetened flaked coconut. Sub coconut extract for vanilla. Bake as directed.
  • Oat doughnut: Omit cocoa altogether; add 1 tablespoons oat flour (or 1 Tbs oat bran or ground golden flaxseed), ¼ tsp cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg. Bake as directed.

A just-baked "Vita-not" muffin and one halved and topped with yogurt & shredded coconut. Delicious! (Note to self: Register for a photography course.)

Big-Batch Recipe:

In a large bowl, mix 1¾ cups oat flour, ½ cup cocoa powder, 2 tsp baking powder, 2 tsp cinnamon, 16 (or more) packets stevia (equivalent to 2/3-1 cup sugar), 8 egg whites (1 cup liquid egg whites), 1 cup plain yogurt, 1 Tbs vanilla extract and 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips. Bake in parchment paper-lined muffin cups for 15 minutes at 350F. Freeze for when the chocolate craving strikes . . . .

How to Make Skinny Coffee Drinks

If you know me, you know I am frugal (which means using coupons at Whole Foods, so it’s all relative) and I hate spending money on things I could easily make myself, such as protein bars. As such, I almost never buy coffee drinks, but I am, unashamedly, a coffee addict. I got into drinking iced coffee last summer, when I got my teeth whitened (coffee, black tea and other acidic drinks can weaken and stain enamel, so my hygienist advised sipping coffee through a straw), and now I prefer it to hot coffee, even as temperatures plummet. Though coffee has bonafide health benefits (studies show caffeine may protect against stroke, some cancers and Alzheimer’s disease), to sleep easy, I drink one (huge) glass in the morning, then switch to decaf green and herbal teas.

Making your own coffee drinks is super easy and will save you buckets of cash and calories. Exhibit A: A 16 oz. Starbucks frappuccino (no whipped cream) can pack 300 calories and 60 grams of sugar—14 teaspoons worth!

Meg’s Skinny Iced Vanilla Almond Coffee

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups cold brewed coffee*
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk (or other milk) (I prefer Almond Fresh; the Almond Breeze brand tends to curdle in drinks.)
  • ¼ tsp vanilla or other extract (try peppermint or almond)
  • 1 packet stevia, or to taste (I like Sugaresque—it tastes and mixes like sugar and has no aftertaste)
  • few shakes cinnamon, optional
  • coffee ice cubes*

Directions:

In a shaker bottle or jar, add coffee, milk, vanilla, stevia and cinnamon. Shake! Pour into a tall glass over ice.  Enjoy with my 2-Minute Banana Bread or Pumpkin Spice Pancakes for a better-than-Starbucks breakfast! Serves 1.

Per serving: 25 calories, 2 g fat (0 g sat, 0 g trans), 97 mg sodium, 1 g fibre, 0 g sugar, 1 g protein

Tips & Variations:

  • Keep a pitcher of brewed coffee in the fridge. I use 1 heaping tablespoon dark roast ground coffee to 1 cup water.
  • Fill ice cube trays with cold coffee and freeze. This way you won’t dilute the coffee.
  • Mocha version: Use chocolate almond milk or add 1-2 teaspoons cocoa powder before blending; sweeten to taste.
  • For a pumped-up shake, add ½ scoop vanilla or chocolate protein powder before blending.
  • Like it hot? Whisk hot coffee, steamed almond milk (heat in microwave) and desired extras.

Meg's Skinny Iced Vanilla Almond Coffee

Meg’s 2-Minute Banana Bread

I created this recipe for an article I wrote on healthy breakfasts, and it was a hit dish in my kids’ cooking classes. Full of fibre, protein and omega-3 fats, with no added sugar, it also makes a great snack or dessert. (I always sometimes add a few chocolate chips to the batter when making this for dessert. Banana chocolate chip bread, anyone?)

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbs quick oats
  • 2 Tbs ground flaxseed (use golden flax—not dark brown—for a lighter taste)
  • ½- 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 2 egg whites (4 Tbs liquid egg whites) or 1 egg
  • ¼ cup mashed ripe banana (½ medium banana)
  • ¼ tsp vanilla or almond extract, optional

Directions:

Spray a microwave-safe ramekin, small dish or coffee mug with cooking spray. Add ingredients; mix thoroughly. Microwave on high 90 seconds. To remove bread, invert dish/mug over a plate. Enjoy plain, or slice in half and spread with nut butter or cream cheese. Serves 1.

Per serving: 232 calories, 8 g fat (1 g sat, 0 g trans), 107 mg sodium, 8 g fibre, 8 g sugar, 13 g protein

Variations:

  • Substitute unsweetened applesauce or canned pumpkin for banana; add stevia to taste.
  • For a chocolate version, add 1 Tbs cocoa or carob powder and omit 1 Tbs flaxseed.
  • Add a few chopped walnuts or raisins to batter.
  • Substitute 2 Tbs oats, oat bran or wheat bran for flaxseed.
  • You can also bake this in a regular oven (about 15 minutes at 350F).

Meg’s Low-Carb, Cheesy Tuna Bake Recipe

My cheesy tuna bake is a great go-to dish: easy, quick, economical and delicious. Plus, each serving boasts 36 grams of protein, 5 grams of fibre, over 30 per cent of the daily value for calcium and almost a quarter of the daily value for iron. I usually make it in a casserole dish (or halve the recipe and bake in large ramekins), but you can also bake the mixture in bell peppers or use the unbaked filling as a sandwich/wrap spread.

Raincoast Trading No-Salt Albacore Tuna

My favourite canned tuna is Raincoast Trading No-Salt Albacore Tuna; find it in health food stores or supermarkets’ natural foods section. This brand tastes great and uses sustainable farming practices. Albacore tuna, fresh or canned, is high in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are king among unsaturated fats; studies show regular omega-3 intake may alleviate arthritis, reduce heart disease risk, relieve dry, itchy skin . . . and more!

Meg’s Low-Carb Cheesy Tuna Bake

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup 1% or 2% cottage cheese
  • 1 tsp dried basil and/or no-salt seasoning blend
  • 2 300-gram packages frozen spinach, thawed and well drained
  • 2 large cans (120-150-grams each) solid white albacore tuna in water, drained and flaked
  • ¼ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes (or substitute ¼ cup tomato paste)
  • ¾ cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Lightly grease an 8-inch (2-quart) baking dish; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cottage cheese, seasoning, spinach, tuna and sun-dried tomatoes.
  3. Transfer to prepared baking dish, smoothing top with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake, uncovered, 25 to 30 minutes, or until heated through and cheese is melted. Serves 4.

Nutrition Information:

Per serving: 225 calories, 5 g fat (2 g sat, 0 g trans), 570 mg sodium*, 5 g fibre, 4 g sugar, 36 g protein (*To lower the sodium content, use low-sodium varieties of cottage cheese and canned tuna.)

Stuffed Peppers Variation:

  • Slice tops off 8 bell peppers; remove ribs and seeds from each pepper. If pepper bottom is uneven, slice a little off the bottom so it’s level.
  • Fill peppers with tuna mixture; sprinkle with cheese. Place peppers upright in a lightly greased 8-inch (2-quart) baking dish; bake as directed above. Serves 4 (2 peppers each).

Sandwich/Wrap Variation:

  • Spread the unbaked mixture on whole grain bread, wraps or crackers.