I have to come clean - this is a recipe I whizzed up for the family rather than for myself! Honestly, those stodgy, heavier desserts are not my favourite, but my daughters absolutely rave about rice pudding. They would always pester me to buy those premade tins of rice pudding at the supermarket. Since I know they’re not too healthy, I reluctantly decided to come up with my own recipe! This isn’t a baked rice pudding recipe, which has that controversial skin on top that so splits opinion (I am against it! But I know that’s some people’s favourite part)! But a nice, soft and creamy stove-top vegan rice pudding. That’s right - vegan! But I promise, you won’t even notice the absence of dairy… If your kids love rice pudding too, they won’t be let down by this alternative - don’t worry, it doesn’t taste ‘healthy’! Being a vegan option too, it’s a great one to have up your sleeve - and it also works with other plant milks, as long as they’re nice and rich. Why not experiment with a coconut milk rice pudding, or hazelnut milk, for example? I particularly enjoy that slightly nutty taste that a nut milk adds, and a non-dairy rice pudding still feels just as luxurious as a full-fat cow’s milk option.
This recipe was cooked for us by some dear friends from Rhodes, when they visited us right before COVID kicked off and changed our lives! As a chef and his partner, they fed us a selection of tasty treats during their stay - but this was our ultimate favourite, and one I just had to ask them for the recipe for. They are very generous, and shared the recipe with us in a heartbeat. My thanks to them, always! Lasagna (or Lasagne is correct, I think, in the UK and Europe) is heart-warming comfort food at the best of times. But this veggie-based spinach lasagna recipe, using the iron-packed and healthy spinach in place of mince, and the addition of that mouth-watering lime, makes this dish a whole different ball game! You still have that ultimate comfort dish - but with a twist. You know you’ve knocked it out of the park when the whole table goes quiet after that first mouthful, silently savouring the wonderful flavour explosion happening in their mouths! A healthy spinach lasagna is great to have in your repertoire as a veggie - but this lime-infused one is all the more special. We didn’t even have the fooodlove site back when they made this recipe for us - but it’s the best spinach lasagne recipe I’ve ever tried, and one I simply HAD to share with you guys onsite! I hope you adore it as much as we do.
Lent is traditionally a fasting period in Greece, where the Greek Orthodox church still has a lot of power over the country’s traditions. From Shrove Tuesday to Easter Sunday we traditionally wouldn’t eat dairy, as well as abstaining from meat and fish (but not shellfish). But that doesn’t mean no enjoyable meals! No, in fact a whole Greek cuisine has sprung up around the culture of fasting - Greek fasting food is called Ladera, or Lathera - food that is full of veggie and made with olive oil, containing no meat or dairy products. This is the healthy heart of the Mediterranean diet (although this recipe doesn’t necessarily uphold this principle!) This Greek semolina cake recipe is unusual, but very authentic and moreish - I definitely urge you to try it. So plenty of dairy-free cakes have sprung up over the centuries to ensure Lenten fasting is still a seasonal celebration. This semolina halva recipe is one of my favourite desserts, whenever I eat it, and it is dairy-free, egg-free and butter-free. Turns out a Greek halva dessert ticks all the boxes as a perfect recipe to have up your sleeve for any fasting or vegan visitors (and is completely glorious for anyone not sticking to any dietary exclusions, too)!
What’s a Greek carrot cake, I hear you ask? Well, for me, all things Greek use Greek yoghurt wherever possible! So yes, this is a carrot cake without cream cheese -I substitute in that tart, rich tang of Greek yoghurt instead, to make for a slightly healthy carrot cake, as well as a yummy one. That tart, sweet tang is literally ‘the icing on the cake’ when it comes to carrot cake - that vegetable, spiced moist batter is just complemented so perfectly by a tangy sweet frosting. Carrot cake might just be my favourite cake - and that’s saying something! Being wholemeal flour, as well as containing carrots, raisins, and walnuts as well as eggs and plenty of spices, I can convince myself that this indulgent treat is at least doing me a little bit more good than a decadent fudge cake, for example. Yoghurt icing for carrot cake isn’t completely pioneering - it really does mimic that slightly sour-sweet tang that cream cheese frosting delivers, but with the added goodness of Greek yoghurt. A creamy Greek yoghurt frosting is just as easy to make as a cream cheese one, and we are always more likely to have Greek yoghurt in the fridge - so it just makes this cake a real easy store cupboard bake for our household.
These healthy blueberry muffins are a must for my daughters’ packed lunch boxes, or for those rumbling tummies at around 4 pm when dinner still feels far off. The wholegrain flour and oats make them more sustaining and low GI compared to white flour-based cakes, so your blood glucose levels don’t crash and burn like after a quick sugary snack. You can even substitute the quick oats for steel-rolled oats for even better slow energy release, but the texture is a little chewier - try half and half to begin with to make sure you like the substitution! These wholewheat berry muffins also work as healthy muffins for breakfast. We’re constantly running out of time in the mornings, and so I do like to have something on hand to push into a Tupperware for myself for later, or to give my daughters as they rush out of the door. This way I can make sure they’ll be eating something with slow energy release, protein, and even some fruit in it. Sure, these are cakes - there’s no avoiding that - but I feel much happier giving them these than the processed, sugar-filled breakfast ‘cereal bars’ that are another popular option. They’re also great to sub-in for a refined sugar sweet treat, as the aforementioned wholegrain content (the oats and the wholewheat flour) work together to make sure this sweet treat is sustaining as well as satisfying for that sugar craving. Give them a go - they might become your new favourite!
As you may know by now, I’m a veggie - but the rest of my family aren’t! Although they’re happy to eat tasty veggie meals a lot of the time, they sometimes ask for meat. So when they have a craving for meat-based products, I find chorizo an easy addition - it’s something I can have in the fridge and its flavour packs a punch. A little goes a long way, I find. These mozzarella and chorizo peppers are great quick and easy snacks to make with that bag of mozzarella cheese that you have in the fridge, and work well to ease those afternoon hunger pangs - what’s better for a meat eater than a mozzarella chorizo snack, after all? They’re pretty healthy too, so they’re a snack I’m happy to dole out to my daughters when they’re hungry after school. Because there’s the bell pepper and the tomato sauce it means they’re getting two portions of veg, and I often serve them up with an accompanying side salad for a light lunch or dinner, too - the pizza-like taste of the peppers means everyone’s happy to nibble up some accompanying greens without complaint! For a veggie version, I do mozzarella peppers for myself - still scrumptious. If you’re avoiding the chorizo, like me, or just fancy playing with the recipe, why not add a shake of paprika to the mozzarella for smokiness, or simply add a couple of basil leaves for that Mediterranean summertime taste?
This recipe is the perfect antidote to the January blues. Full of veggie goodness, as well as the anti-inflammatory powers of turmeric, garlic, leeks and onions, it has the heartiness of lentils and that edge of warmth, from the chilli, which come together to create a ‘hug in a mug’, as the famous soup advert once said! This sort of recipe is perfect in a thermos flask to accompany you on a chilly walk, or in your kids’ pack ups - you can be sure they’re getting at least 3 or so of their ‘5 a day’ target, and will be satiated for the rest of the day with the slow, constant stream of energy released by the lentils. It’s a recipe I often turn to as a midweek dinner through January, too - served alone, or with a hunk of bread and a piece of cheese, this recipe is everything I feel like I need to warm the soul after a grey, drizzly, dark day! It’s quick to create - it really only takes a little bit of chopping - and is so worth every moment you spend on it. For a different, smooth texture, try blending all of the soup, or blend none of it and eat it more as a lentil stew. We prefer this half-and-half mixture, which creates a chunky soup. The choice is yours.
These spinach and feta galettes are a mouthwatering veggie breakfast, or lunch, to satisfy and satiate. They work year-round, too. In the summertime, send your kids off with a healthy last-minute breakfast to eat on the school bus, pack them up for a picnic in the park, or serve as part of a dinner al fresco. Stick them in your kids’ (or your own) packed lunch to break up the monotony of sandwiches and wraps. In the winter? For me, the winter is a time when I cannot handle a cold salad for lunch, but I don’t always fancy a soup, or a big meal. Ditto for breakfast - something slightly warmed through made from buttery pastry ticks all my boxes! These galettes are the perfect light lunch, served warm with a fresh green side salad and a few juicy cherry tomatoes. Who am I kidding, any savoury pastry tarts are a go-to for me through those chilly months! The cheesy, buttery savouriness of flaking pastry and salty cheese complements the iron green tang of the spinach perfectly. These pastry morsels feel indulgent and satisfying, but allow you to feel slightly healthy at the same time. Those two things together? That equates to my favourite type of meal!
Fooodlove explores the main substitutions you can make with Greek yoghurt, to bring added flavour and health benefits to your meals.
This recipe for baked giant beans, or Gigantes Plaki in Greek, is a really flexible, useful one to have in your recipe bank! Gigantes are a really large variety of beans, known also as Butter Beans or Lima Beans. We buy them dried and soak them; these are my favourite to use in terms of flavour. Gigantes are a healthy addition to any diet, vegan, veggie or omnivore, as they are full of complex carbohydrates, fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals, keeping you fuller for longer, and satisfied, too. In Greece, sausage or bacon can be added - I have seen it with chorizo, too - but you really don’t need to add any meat to end up with the perfect Gigantes recipe, in my opinion. This is a wholesome and hearty vegan recipe, which is perfect served up with some feta and bread for a filling, healthy meal - a great one to have to hand if you’re inviting vegan guests over (minus the feta, of course!). It’s also a tastier (and much healthier) substitute for a tin of baked beans, so you can use it in the same way you would with those, too. Take your giant baked beans in tomato sauce and put them on top of a baked potato instead of the branded variety for an easy supper; you’ll be getting lots of extra veg and a lot less sugar than in the tinned stuff. Greek Gigantes are easily found in Greek food delis and in some supermarkets now, but butter beans will work for this recipe too.
This crustless zucchini pie is the perfect lunch for a sunny day in the garden. The recipe originally comes from a friend in Crete. It’s both easy, and a great way to use up the glut of courgettes we seem to enjoy every July and August! Accompanied by a side salad (and maybe a chilled glass of white wine!), this courgette tart is so savoury and satisfying. The feta, parmesan and eggs give it that cheesey, almost quiche-like consistency, whilst the grated courgette/zucchini and the fresh herbs give it a real green vibrancy and fresh taste. Since it’s without a crust, it’s a really healthy, light option too. I’ve even been known to wrap the whole thing in tin foil and take it to the park for a picnic - and you can be sure that none ever comes back!
This pumpkin chocolate chip bread comes high on my list of healthy Halloween treats. This is a truly seasonal autumn recipe, that smells so good when it’s baking that I can barely bear to leave it in the oven long enough. It’s one of those breads that is really more of a cake - but I somehow feel slightly virtuous when enjoying it with a slather of butter and a cup of tea in the mid afternoon if I call it pumpkin bread! I love Halloween bakes; they’re a little break from the mountains of sugar and candy children seem to be fed around the 31st, but are still a really seasonal treat. This is one of the first recipes I’ll reach for, because it’s perfectly seasonal without being smothered in ghosts, ghouls and all things spooky! I’ll save those for the Halloween cupcakes recipe I’ll publish next week - so keep your eye out for those. The orange and spice combination means that this recipe shouldn’t be relegated solely to Halloween, either - it’s well worth its place on the afternoon tea table well through November and into December!
If you’re on the hunt for vegan chocolate treats, these vegan mint bounty bars are the one. In fact, as long as you like coconut, I can assure you that, vegan or not, you’ll love these! In fact, our family aren’t vegan but absolutely adore these little bites. I always find it so useful to have a treats recipe to hand that fits everybody’s dietary requirements. Homemade bounty bars might sound more effort than they’re worth, but nothing could be further from the truth. Plus, you know exactly what ingredients are going in. Easy homemade bounty bars, plus mint - they’re so satisfying, and actually, they’re kind of good for you as far as chocolatey snacks go! The healthy fat from coconut milk plus desiccated coconut and dark chocolate; this is indulgence without the guilt.
This recipe for filling, oat-based cookies is probably the healthiest biscuit recipe I’ve come up with so far! And ok, healthy might be a stretch, but the recipe has plenty of goodness in it, and none of the terrible preservatives etc you encounter in store-bought cookies. I came up with it while playing around with various ingredients with my young daughter. She had been given a school assignment to do some baking, and we thought that it would be great to pair her assignment with a recipe that I can post on fooodlove! These cookies are a treat. Their squidgy texture and their subtly spiced vanilla flavour, alongside the added sweetness from the honey, dried cranberries and chocolate chips, make them a definite sweet treat. But if you’re looking for a biscuit which is both a treat and has some goodness to it, this is a great option, as those oats give slow-release energy, making sure a nibble of cookie will keep you going as well as satisfying your sweet tooth!
I don’t know about you, but sometimes food goes down a lot better when it seems like a ‘treat’! These healthy banana oat pancakes are a real ‘treat’ - but nutritionally they’re good for you too, so it’s a win-win! Banana pancakes were always a weekend treat in our house, so I wanted to combine that ‘special’ breakfast feeling with something healthy and full of goodness that you really can enjoy everyday. Featuring oats for slow release energy as well as protein from egg and the natural sweetness of banana, these pancakes really will set you up for the day! Enjoy with a big dollop of Greek yoghurt on the side, and some fresh berries (we might take it back up to ‘treat’ territory with a drizzle of maple syrup on top!)
This whole wheat breadsticks recipe is what we use to keep hunger at bay in our house! Instead of a bag of crisps, we’ll nibble on a wholegrain breadstick whilst watching TV, or whilst dinner cooks in the oven. They’re a healthy snack that satisfy my need to nibble, without ruining my appetite. I use them to help steer away from unhealthy treats whilst watching TV. They’re also great to put on the table at a dinner party instead of bread rolls, or to go with a meze / antipasti-style meal. Wrap parma ham around the end for a tasty starter, or serve a dip or two to accompany the breadsticks - they go perfectly with my Spicy Feta Dip. Called “kritsinia” in Greek, they are a popular snack at all times of the day. They’re even enjoyed with a coffee at breakfast time. Similar to Italian grissini breadsticks, the kritsinia will be crunchy and biscuity, with that breadstick ‘snap’. If you prefer a crunchy exterior but soft inside, make your breadsticks thicker.
This simple and satisfying supper is one of the first “proper” meals I cooked for my husband when we got married! I had always been confident with all the egg options (always a go-to for our breakfasts), but I tended to stick to the safety of easy pasta dishes for dinner. So, I got this chicken with veggies recipe from my mom. And we’re still married…coincidence? Perhaps not! Haha! I’d say this recipe marks the beginning of my journey into love - for family, for food, and for cooking. This recipe for chicken with veggies is a similar dish to the chicken and red pepper mix that works so well in chicken fajita recipes - so there’s another serving option for you! We like to have it served simply with basmati rice. It’s a brilliant midweek meal, featuring lots of healthy lean protein as well as plenty of veg, for a really balanced meal. It’s pretty quick and easy, too. You can even enjoy it with rice one night and as the filling for chicken fajitas the next! I love batch cooking, as a great way to make sure my family has plenty of great food to eat through the week, without having to stand at the stove for ages every night.
This creamy zucchini penne (or courgette penne, for all my UK readers!) makes a healthy vegetable the star of the show. For this tasty dinner, the little tubes of penne are a great choice for catching the sauce, although rigatoni, maccheroni or even straight pasta like tagliatelle or spaghetti will do in a pinch. When there are lots of palates around the table, especially with little ones, it can be hard to leave everybody in the family satisfied. This is a dish that always succeeds for me in that regard! I am a veggie, but my family all eat meat. Nevertheless, this dish is a big hit, and a great no-meat meal to have in your repertoire.
This delicious baked brioche egg cups recipe is a perfect option for breakfast on the go. Sometimes on busy weekday mornings, getting everybody ready in time is a real challenge! Knowing that if time escapes us I can give my daughters one of these as they run out of the door just takes away some of the stress. These breakfast egg cups are super easy to make (and to takeaway), and make for a satisfying, wholesome breakfast. Mix it up if you like, adding pancetta, different types of greens, herbs or spinach, for example. Whatever suits you and your family! Packed with protein, similar to my omelette muffins, I just love an easy breakfast solution that is filling, substantial, yet easy to eat on the go, too. Knowing that their breakfast on-the-go (and mine!) can contain a couple of veggies and energy-packed eggs makes me feel I’ve given them a good, healthy start to their day.
Gemista, or Yemista, is a very popular and traditional Greek dish for stuffed vegetables. Using commonly available ingredients, this Gemista recipe is a vegetarian one (some add pork or beef mince). Every household in Greece seems to have their own, slightly unique Gemista recipe, but they tend to have rice and herbs in common as fillings - and are stuffed into a vegetable. Full of flavour and vibrancy, this recipe for stuffed tomatoes is healthy and fresh. ‘Gemista’ actually means ‘filled with’ or ‘stuffed’ in Greek, so literally that is the only thing you have to do - stuff a vegetable with a filling! Served as a starter, a side dish or as the main course, the Gemista is pretty flexible. We enjoy eating it for our main meal, often accompanied by feta cheese and fresh bread.