Healthy and Low Cal Veggie & Cheese Quesadilla with Beets
I don’t know about you guys, but this winter really threw me out of whack with my fitness goals. The weather has such a large impact on my motivation day to day, and when it’s cold, wet and rainy, I just don’t feel as motivated to be active and it gets easier and easier to make bad food choices. Now that it’s spring, and the weather has become quite pleasant, I am in the process of recommitting to my goals and trying to make healthy choices as often as I can.
That being said, I have been experimenting with ways to lighten up some of my favorite foods, so that I can still eat my favorite things while also staying on track with my calorie intake, nutrition, etc.
I loveee quesadillas, but with all that cheese and carbs from the tortillas, they definitely can’t be something that is eaten on a regular basis. So, I started experimenting with ways to lighten up this classic comfort food, and came up with the recipe below.
Based on my calculations, it clocks in at around 450 calories thanks to all the veggies, low carb tortillas, and mostly fat free cheese. The flavor is delicious and satisfying, and the best part is, this can be thrown together in about 10 mins, making it the perfect weeknight dinner.
Also—you’ll see from these pictures that this recipe contains beets! Which may be kind of weird to some because I don’t think this is a typical quesadilla ingredient, but if you like beets, then you must trust me on this one. They add a great flavor, color and substance to the quesadilla. I typically buy beets that have already been prepared/steamed from the produce section at my grocery store, so they are easy to add in here in a jiff. If you don’t have time to make beets and can’t buy them already prepared (or just don’t like them), you can leave them out and the recipe will still taste delicious!
Here’s how to make it:
2 low carb whole wheat tortillas ~8 inches (I use these)
1/2 cup fat free shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup diced onion
1/2-1/3 cup chopped mushrooms (I use baby bella)
~2 or 3 cups loosely packed chopped collard greens OR spinach leaves (I buy them in bags already cut/washed to cut down on prep time)
1/2 cup beets, cut/chopped into smallish, bite-size pieces
*Salt and pepper to taste
Measure out and add the two cheeses to a bowl and mix them together so they’re combined. Set aside.
Spray a nonstick pan with a light coating of cooking oil (olive oil or canola) and add the mushrooms, onion and collard greens (or spinach) to the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Saute, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms and onions are cooked through, and the greens have wilted and condensed, but still maintain a little bit of texture and crunch (~5 mins). Add the beets pieces in the last minute or so of cooking. Stir them around a bit to get them mixed in and warmed up.
When the veggies are done, pour them into another small bowl and set aside. Make sure you scrape everything out of the pan so you can use it to toast your tortillas. (I do this so I can get away with using just one pan. Alternatively, you could just bring out another pan rather than putting the veggies in a bowl).
Spray the pan again with cooking oil and place one tortilla in the pan. Sprinkle half of your cheese mixture evenly on the tortilla, then add your veggie mixture from the bowl and distribute evenly on top of the tortilla. Then sprinkle on the rest of cheese and distribute evenly over top of the veggie mixture.
Finally, place your second tortilla on top to complete the formation of the quesadilla. Turn on the heat and let it sit until the bottom tortilla is decently toasted (golden brown) and crispy. Flip the quesadilla with a spatula. Toast until the bottom side is crunchy and golden brown.
Note: you only want to flip once, to reduce the risk that your toppings fall out and the quesadilla comes apart. So wait until the bottom side is nice and toasty and somewhat firm (crunchy) so that it has enough structure for you to flip it over, without everything falling out.
Once the quesadilla is done toasting, transfer to a cutting board, and cut into slices using a pizza cutter.
Transfer to a plate and enjoy!