Baked Spinach with Goat Cheese; Eat Real!

Say No to fake food!

Excuse me while I get up on my soap box……

This subject has been simmering in the recesses of my mind recently. 

I was looking through a popular cooking magazine and saw recipe after recipe calling for fat-free this or low-fat that.

Why don't they just suggest using less?  Or using a different ingredient?

I doubt that many of you regular readers will be surprised to learn that I don't cook with or eat fake food.

I don't eat low-fat or no-fat or fat-free 'alternative' foods.

I take this abnormal position for three reasons: 

It seems that when something is taken out something else is added – remove fat, add sugar.

When they take out the real stuff they have to add unpronounceable alternatives that may or may not be a petroleum by-product in order to make it seem like the real food.  They always fail.

Fake food almost always tastes bad, has a horrid mouth-feel or both.

Now that my position is clear, let me also tell you that I am always on the look out for lower fat, natural alternatives.

Please, allow me to give you a few examples:

Sour Cream

Sour cream:    1/4 cup has 111 calories, 11.5 grams of fat, 63mg of calcium

Plain yogurt:   1/4 cup has 37 calories, 2 grams of fat and 74mg of calcium

Greek yogurt: 1/4 cup has 93 calories, 7 grams of fat and 113mg of calcium

Plain yogurt makes an excellent substitute for sour cream.  You do have to be careful not to heat it with tomatoes as it might curdle; add it at the end of cooking time.  It's also a bit thinner.

Greek yogurt is a perfect substitute – thick and creamy.  It's not a lot lower in calories but it is lower in fat and lots higher in calcium.  If you get sheep milk yogurt it's even better!

For a non-typical use: When I make something that calls for mayonnaise, like American Potato Salad, I use half plain yogurt and half mayonnaise.  Cuts both fat and calories considerably.  The mayonnaise flavor still dominates and the yogurt makes the dressing less stiff so you use less.

Cream Cheese

Cream cheese:         1oz has 97 calories, 9 grams of fat and 28mg of calcium

Soft goat cheese:     1oz has 76 calories, 6 grams of fat and 40mg of calcium

Probably not for cheesecake, but, hey, if you're making cheesecake you're not worried about calories…. Some things must be done right!

For savory dishes soft goat cheese is a great substitute – it has more flavor so you can use less, plus it has more health benefits.

Goat's milk and goat's cheese are the dairy of choice for most of the world.  They are more easily digested than the cow equivalent and may be suitable for some who are lactose intolerant.  

Ahem….. I shall now get off my soapbox for the food:

Baked Spinach with Goat Cheese

Baked Spinach with Goat Cheese

6oz (200gr) fresh spinach
1/4 cup soft goat cheese (chevre)
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp chives
1/2 tsp basil

Remove thick stems from spinach, if needed, and very roughly chop any large leaves; smaller leaves can be left whole. Put spinach in baking dish large enough to hold it easily. In a small saucepan heat milk over medium heat. Add chevre and stir until it melts. Add herbs and pour over spinach. Bake at 375F (190C) for 15 minutes. Serve from baking dish. 

New project – Sunday's posts are going to be about food – nutrition info, cooking techniques…. that sort of thing. 

And I'll take suggestions.  Any thing you are interested in or want to know more about? Anything at all? (Food related, please.)

Leave a comment with ideas for next week.

11 thoughts on “Baked Spinach with Goat Cheese; Eat Real!”

  1. Katie I am so with you on Fat Free Have you read the Good Fat Cookbook by Fran McCullough. I read this about 6 years ago I think you can get it on Amazon. After that no fat free anything just keep your portions down and you will be healthy. The spinach dish looks good

  2. Yep, I’m with you on it, too! I’d seen Greek yogurt but never really used it until I started using your service. Then I found out my littlest loves Greek yogurt topped with honey. So we were going through a lot of it here, until I found I could make fil mjolk very easily and she loves it, too!

  3. There is no margarine or Splenda in my stores at home. So I would have to agree with your philosphy Katie. This spinach dish was a surprise and looks so tasty:D

  4. Hi Katie – me too!! Nothing fake in my kitchen, let me tell you! Do you ever make yogurt cheese? I have used it many times in cooking, it can actually be a bit thicker than greek yogurt, but with less calories. I use it in place of sour cream, cottage cheese, and cream cheese. It is wonderful in pasta dishes,cream cheese dishes and curries too! Oh, and great in desserts. Ina

  5. That spinach dish is calling me ! Plus I need to eat a lot of spinach! I agree with you and get annoyed or when people want to talk about dieting; I tell them: quit eating! eat less! That’s it! No miracle! No mystery!

  6. I’m a real food eater, too and my cholesterol now is lower than way back when I was eating all that diet stuff. I used to subscribe to magazines that asked for those fat free ingredients, many of which I can’t even find here…Yoghurt is such a good alternative to sour cream!

  7. Here here! A chef after my own heart. Great post Katie; keep them coming. I don’t think enough can be said about fake food vs. real. Our fat pandemic today is a direct result of people falling prey to what they think is low-fat food: low-fat means one can eat more of it, right?. Laden with salt, sugar and those unpronounceable “ingredients”, it just makes us sicker and sicker.
    Goat cheese is always in my fridge. Now I will use it to make your spinach recipe. 🙂

  8. Hear! Hear! I can’t stand fake sugar, low fat, zero flavour quasi-food. I always wonder why people don’t use prunes, dates or bananas when they want to cut back on the amount of sugar in things. Or honey – because of its sweetness, less honey is required to achieve the same sweetness as more sugar. (How’s that for a really confusing sentence??)
    We too always have creamy goat cheese on hand. And, yes – it works in cheese cake. We have made our favourite cheese cake using half cream cheese and half goat’s cheese with very good results: exactly the same flavour. We haven’t yet tried making it with only goat’s cheese but I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t work.
    This spinach sounds delicious.

  9. This sounds so good! and so much simpler to make than my Baked Pasta with spinach & goat cheese. I could eat this every night. Kale, kale would be good with this.
    I have been really surprised when comparing the fat free, low fat and regular versions of the same things. Sugar, it just way too much sugar!!

  10. Gilli, thanks for the book tip. I see so many people eat twice as much because it doesn’t have fat or sugar, without paying attention to what it does have.
    Tracy, all good foods! I think kids will eat healthily – when we let them, right?
    Val, margerine – bleh! I hate the taset…. strangely, my mother, a good farm girl, prefers it. And why eat fake butter?
    Ina, I have made it, but not for awhile. Our dairy is so different here. We don’t have sour cream, cottage cheese or cream cheese – but we have more choices that are similar – and lower in fat.
    tasteofbeirut – something about calories in v calories burned… Simple math but people just don’t understand it.
    Meredith, and when I look at them in the US I wouldn’t want to eat them. My calories have to be worth it. I want to enjoy my food – and I’ll eat less of it if need be.
    Christine, peopke just don’t seem to pay attention and think ‘light’ means all you can eat.
    Elizabeth, I prefer to have all the fat, sugar and calories the whatever is supposed to have – I’ll just eat a smaller portion and enjoy every bite ;-))
    Tanna, super simple, and with spinach fresh from my garden, wonderful!

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