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Fast Day #9: Cracking the Calories in Palak Paneer - 210 calories

~ just as good and half the calories ~

 Homemade Palak Paneer
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Last week I was very distraught over my Trader Joe's Palek Paneer (Indian Creamed Spinach with Paneer cheese) dinner entree. Ever since then I wanted to make a lower calorie version. I scoured the internet and found plenty of recipes and hodge podged a recipe together.


Though this didn't quite taste as delicious as the Trader Joe's entree, it was almost half the calories! This recipe needs a little bit more tweaking to get a deeper, richer flavor but this is one hell of a start.


Trader Joe's Palak Paneer: 250 calories
White bread: 50 calories
Total: 300 calories
KT made Palak Paneer: 165 calories
Wheat bread: 45 calories
Total: 210 calories


142 g of palak paneer from Trader Joe's is 250 calories versus 165 calories for my homemade version. I know it's not that much of a difference but on Fast Days, every calorie needs to count!







Plus do you see how much more paneer is in my homemade version?! This was surprisingly easy to make even with the homemade paneer. I imagine that the homemade version will freeze just as nicely as the store bought one. So you can mix up this batch and freeze the rest in small portions. The 142 g portion was pretty good for an afternoon snack.

I also switched up my bread from Safeway Pantry Essentials White bread (50 calories per slice) to Safeway Pantry Essentials Wheat bread (45 calories per slice). 5 calories is 5 calories!

To really bust up the calories in this dish, I could substitute the 1 lb of paneer with 1 lb of firm tofu. That would make this dish 0.6146 calories per gram with tofu instead of 1.0284 calories per gram with the paneer.

Another good idea would be to make the spinach mixture (0.564 calories per gram) and leave the protein component to the last minute so you can tailor it depending on your calorie intake for the day. You could throw in leftover chicken, or whatever you had handy!

P.S. This was so good that I ended up eating this dish again for my Fast Day dinner meal too! But with two pieces of bread and 194 g of Palak Paneer. The super spinach flavor is really addicting. I'm wondering how this dish would do taste with kale instead of spinach???

KT made Palak Paneer: 1.0284 calories per gram

Ingredients:


For Paneer:
  • 1 gallon whole milk (not ultra pasteurized)
  • 2 - 4 T lime juice (vinegar, lemon juice, or citric acid will work as well)
  • pinch of salt
For Palak:
  • 1 tsp Cumin seed
  • 1 tsp Fennel seed
  • 2 tsp Coriander seed
  • 1 tsp Red pepper flakes
  • 1 T Butter
  •  230 grams Onion, chopped (8 oz)
  •  1 tsp ginger (grated or 1/2 tsp ginger powder)
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 T Tomato paste
  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • 453 grams frozen Spinach (1 lb - defrosted and drained) 
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 519 g Paneer (1 lb 2 oz)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

  

Instructions:

  1. To make paneer
    • Bring milk to a gentle boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium low. You should be able to feel and see steam rising from the top. 
    • Add salt for flavor. Stir well
    • Add lime juice 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring slowly but well after each addition until the milk proteins clump up and you see lots of greenish whey
    • Scoop or drain curds into cheese cloth
    • Rinse curds under cold water briefly
    • Hang to drain excess whey for 30 minutes
    • Form cheese into a circle or square and place between two a rimmed baking sheet and a cutting board
    • Place an empty stock pot (I used the one I made the paneer in) on the cutting board for 2 -3 hours
    • Place pressed paneer into a container submerged in water until ready to use
  2. Defrost and drain frozen spinach. Set aside.
  3. Place cumin, coriander, fennel seeds, and red pepper flakes into a hot pan and toast until fragrant. Remove and grind finely - I used a mortar and pestle.
  4. To the hot pan on medium heat, add 1 T of butter and onions. Saute until soft.
  5. To the onions, add ground spices, turmeric, ginger, garlic powder and tomato paste. Saute until fragrant.
  6. Add spinach and mix well.
  7. Using a hand blender, puree the mixture to desired consistency
  8. Add cream. If the mixture is too thick, thin out with water or chicken broth (chicken broth will increase the calories)
  9. Add salt and pepper to taste
  10. Cut paneer into cubes and add to spinach mixture. Fold in gently

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