This is my favorite one-pan, easy skillet meal. I adore Greek food, because I generally find it to be full of flavor and mostly healthy.
Let’s get real for a second. It’s no secret that I eat dessert daily, but I don’t battle my weight. When I meet new people and they find out how food-obsessed I am, they are baffled that I don’t have to buy two seats on an airplane when I fly. Can we talk about that? This subject makes me uncomfortable, but we’re going to work through it today, ok?
First: it’s easier to keep what you have than get what you don’t have. So, what I’m trying to say is that it’s easier to maintain weight than lose weight.
I’m going to share all of my skinny girl secrets. I’m doing this because I’ve noticed lots of you are doing juice cleanses in January. I’m jealous that I can’t do a juice cleanse with you. I have a weird allergy to raw apples, and most fresh juices rely on raw apples to keep them from tasting like…algae?
My Mom and I read this article in a magazine a few years ago about the secrets of skinny women, and all of the secrets rang true with us. My Mom is another skinny minnie. Genetics are definitely a part of the equation, but since my Mom and I both follow these rules, I think the rules are more powerful.
The Ten Rules of Skinny Chicks:
- Either eat dessert or have alcohol, never both. We talked about this last week over my Balsamic marinated fresh berries and frozen yogurt.
- If you want dessert FINE. Eat it, but please make it a child size portion. I consider one cookie or 3 to 4 bites of cake to be a serving. Furthermore, I order child size portions of entrées at restaurants all the time. I’m sure it embarrasses my husband, but it works for me.
- If you splurge on a big dinner, like say, a Five Guys burger with fries, FINE. You did it. Move on, and make your meals lighter for the next few days. If I eat a cheeseburger tonight, I’ll be having a salad for lunch for the next two days. But, keep in mind that I ordered the kids’ size burgers with fries at Five Guys.
- Don’t take the easy way out. I park in the furthest spot in the parking lot when I’m running errands. I always volunteer to take the laundry from the basement to the second floor. Why? It burns calories. You have the potential to burn calories during the day in more ways than just at the gym. I love cleaning the house while racing the clock with music blaring. I estimate that scrubbing bathrooms burns about 100 calories. All activity in your day adds up.
- This is my craziest idea, but here goes: I believe your stomach shrinks and expands. A few years ago, I dated a guy who only ate meat and potatoes. I gained 15 pounds while dating him. I dumped him, but I couldn’t dump the weight. I went back to eating healthy meals, but I was h-u-n-g-r-y. My stomach growled, but I stuck with it. I distracted myself from the hunger by filling my day with other activities, like shopping with a friend, getting a pedicure, reading a great book, etc. After 2 days, my body adjusted. I believe my stomach shrank back to the original size. Did I starve myself for two days? NO. I ate whole grains, lean protein, and vegetables, but I wasn’t getting the same amount of calories as the fried pork chops and twice baked potatoes I had been eating. It was a 2 day sacrifice at first, but then it was easy. In about 6-8 weeks, the 15 pounds were gone.
- Make all of the food you eat from scratch. This is way harder than it sounds, I know. I eat take-out, processed, or restaurant food once per week maximum. Home cooked food always has less salt and fewer calories. Always. Even Paula Deen recipes have fewer calories than chain restaurant food.
- Take the time to find a form of exercise that doesn’t make you want to slit your wrists as an excuse to avoid it. Personally, I love yoga and walking. I practice yoga once or twice each week. I attend the mellow, relaxing yoga classes, so I don’t count it as exercise per say, but at least I’m out of the house and not eating. Monday-Thursday, I go for a power walk after work each day. Yes, I’m one of those people that power walks…with arms flailing and everything. Ok, this is getting to be a little more embarrassing than I intended…
- Don’t count calories! Instead, count the number of fruit and vegetable servings each day. When I’m in a rut, I write down my servings of fruits and vegetables each day. It’s a bit easier to reach for baby carrots than chips each afternoon if I know I haven’t met my 5 servings of vegetables per day quota. I aim for 3 fruits and 5 vegetables each day. By the way, a serving is only ½ cup. When you think about it, it’s really not that much. I eat vegetable and fruit snacks between meals. I feel like I’m constantly eating throughout the day. Hint: this is why smaller portions of meals are satisfying…fiber-rich healthy snacks are never more than a few hours away! My favorite snack combos: hummus + carrots, seasonal fruit + stinky cheese, almonds +dates, or just a cup of yogurt. I’m also a big milk drinker, but you can substitute your favorite cow’s milk alternative, too.
- Speaking of drinking…oh my GOD stop.drinking.soda. It’s disgusting. Soda is literally an acid saturated with sugar. And in my opinion, diet soda is approximately one billion times worse than regular soda. I drink soda once or twice a year (in a child-size cup, of course). It’s always real Dr. Pepper. I am a Texan, after all. I drink hot green tea all morning, and then iced tea or water the rest of the day. During the winter, I love mugs of hot lemon water. When I crave the bubbly, I add a slice of lime to sparkling water.
- You don’t need meat at every meal. We eat vegetarian 2 to 3 times each week. The key to eating vegetarian dishes is cooking full-flavored, interesting meals, like this easy skillet spanakopita.
I’m not a nutritionist. Not even close. So don’t sue me (especially over the stomach shrinking part. Yeesh). I’m just a girl who manages to eat dessert daily and not have a weight problem, so take it for what you will. And if it makes you feel better, I’ve been made fun of my whole life for being skinny. That includes being called some not-so-nice names, so life as a skinny girl isn’t a beach vacation in a polka dot bikini skipping around with a handful of carrots. Sometimes, my ankles hit each other when I walk too fast and it really freaking hurts. Oh, and if you’ve never slammed your elbow into your own hip bone before, count yourself lucky. If you think the grass is always greener, maybe try watering and fertilizing your own grass. :)
Before the oven:
After baking in the oven in a small pool of butter:
I feel like I can taste the crispiness just by looking at this photo!
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided use
- 1 small onion, diced
- 20 ounces frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 3 large eggs
- heaping 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 2 teaspoons dried dill
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 5 sheets frozen phyllo dough, defrosted
- Preheat the oven to 375. In a skillet with a 10" cooking surface, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, squeeze the water from the defrosted spinach. Do this very well--I used a potato ricer, or you could squeeze a handful at a time between your fists. Water is not your friend in this recipe.
- In a large bowl, stir together the squeezed-dry spinach, ricotta, eggs, feta, dill, salt and pepper. Stir in the diced onion and the drippings from the skillet. Next, scrape all of the mixture back into the skillet.
- Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a small dish and have ready with a small pastry brush. Layer one sheet of phyllo dough on top of the spinach in the skillet (keep the rest of the phyllo dough covered to prevent drying out while you work). Brush the layer with butter.
- Next, layer another sheet of phyllo in the opposite direction to fully cover the spinach. Again, brush with butter.
- Finally, crumble the last 3 sheets of phyllo over the top of the dish. The more crumpled the top, the more flaky layers there will be. Drizzle the remaining butter on top. (In case you're tempted, don't skimp on the butter: phyllo without butter tastes like raw flour).
- Bake in the oven 35-45 minutes, until the dough is golden brown and crispy. Serve hot or warm.
Recipe is barely adapted from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food. Martha says this dish serves 4 and only has 381 calories per slice using full-fat ricotta, but I used part-skim ricotta because I'm smarter than Martha. (hah).