Skip to main content

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

~ just as good and half the calories ~

 Homemade Palak Paneer

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


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



  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


Popular posts from this blog

Vietnamese Caramelized Shrimp Bowl (Tom Rim): 230 calories

One of my favorite dishes is caramelized pork belly and shrimp. Well since I'm back on the restricted calorie wagon (1350 per day). I decided to make just caramelized shrimp! Instead of paring with rice as usual I used the left over sauce to coat shirataki noodles for a low calorie, low carb meal!

I entered the nutritionals into myfitnesspal under "Vietnamese Caramelized shrimp (Tom Rim)", brand is "KT Homemade". The whole recipe makes 773g. Macros: 1045 calories, 175g protein; 43g fat, 83g carbs, .

For portion above, I used 150g of Caramelized Shrimp (Tom Rim), 10 oz shirataki noodles, 2 oz romaine lettuce - 230 calories. Macros: 230 calories; 8g fat; 21g carbs; 35g protein.

The recipe couldn't be more simple, especially if you have a jar of premade caramelized sugar in your pantry. If not, just make it as you cook.


This instructions assume you don't have caramelized sugar in your pantry like I do!Thai chili peppers are optional. It's more t…

Cracking the Calories: Hu Tieu (Vietnamese Clear Noodle Soup) - 250 Calories

Cracking the Calories: Hu Tieu
Vietnamese Clear Noodle Soup
Noodle soups are a mainstay in Vietnamese cuisine. Pho (pronounced: fuh), both chicken and beef, takes the spotlight in popularity. But there are many, many other noodle soups that range from spicy (Bun Bo Hue) to sweet (Bun Rieu) to seafood based broths (Hu Tieu) that are also quite delicious.

I wanted to cook something light and refreshing for Mr. J's return from a long, hard week at a client site and Hu Tieu jumped out at me as the perfect fit. Also it didn't help that Wandering Chopsticks was taunting me with wonderful Retro Posts all week on her Facebook page and this was one of the dishes.

Traditionally, this dish is made with a light seafood broth, topped with pork (BBQ for Saigon Style or boiled for Nam Vang style), shrimp, sometimes, crab claws, and always with lots of vegetables (lettuce, Chinese celery, chives, etc). The noodles are usually wide and flat made of rice…

Fast Day #19: Salmon Sashimi and Seaweed Salad - 293 calories

Salmon Sashimi and Seaweed Salad
Today was an inadvertent Fast Day. I woke up early and headed over to a friend's house for a cheesecake cooking tutorial (more on that later). We were so busy that all I had to eat all morning was a cup of coffee and 2 Vietnamese Steamed Tapioca Dumplings (Banh Bot Loc - more on that later too) for a grand total of 163 calories.

So when I got home, I figured that I should convert the day into a Fast Day and go for a light dinner. Luckily I had some salmon sashimi and seaweed salad in the fridge already.

I'm amazed how filling the salmon is. The richness really helps to keep me full all day. I barely miss the rice now - and that's a big thing for an Asian person to admit!

The seaweed salad (from the prepared section of my Japanese market) was a great addition. On its on own, the salad is very salty so you need very little soy sauce for the fish.

There's no recipe since nothing is cooked. Just slice …