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CALCIUM RICH RECIPES: Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni Recipe

Eating for bone health can be yummy! Healthy, delicious, calcium rich recipes for osteoporosis prevention are a  great way for healthy eating. We want to share with you a healthy recipe for osteoporosis which is easy to make, looks good and it’s affordable! A super healthy vegan-friendly recipes alternative, also rich with calcium, is here too of course!

Why is this recipe perfect for osteoporosis and rich in calcium?

This easy and quick calcium rich recipe is made with  crepes. We love delicious crepes because they are easy to make at home. In case you don’t have time, you can  find some savory pre-made crepes in the supermarket. The ones with added sugar are better for desserts.

Spinach is loaded with calcium. Consuming spinach is a superb way  to get essential  minerals and vitamins for bone health! It can be incorporated  simply into any diet. Low-cost and efforless to prepare, spinach is rich with calcium and great for these recipes.

The next champion ingredient for osteoporosis prevention is parsley. Studies show that parsley is rich in vitamin K, which builds stronger bones by supporting bone-building cells called osteoblasts. This vitamin also boosts  proteins that increase bone mineral density. Lower mineral density is associated with the risk of fractures. Thus, diets rich in parsley may benefit bone health!

Read on for both non-vegan and vegan version of the recipe!

Spinach, ricotta, tomatoes, garlic, onion and other ingredients for calcium rich recipe

Non-vegan, Calcium Rich Version of the Recipe

This is one of the calcium rich recipes that doesn’t take long to prepare.

Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes (shop-bought crepes); 2 hours (if you are making crepes)

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Waiting Time: 10 minutes
Level: Intermediate
Servings : 6

Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil
150 grams chopped onions
50 grams sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, drained, and chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
500 grams fresh spinach leaves, cleaned and dried
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour / plain flour
500 ml semi-skimmed milk
1 bay leaf
01/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
400 grams skim ricotta cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
125 grams parmesan cheese, plus 1 tablespoon freshly grated parmesan cheese
100 grams freshly grated Romano cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
 450 grams tomato sauce
Savory crepes, recipe follows
or 1 pack of shop-bought crepes

Method:

To Make the Spinach Filling:

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onions, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté until the onions are tender, about 6 minutes. Add the spinach in  handfuls and cook until it is wilted and dry, about 6-8 minutes. Let it cool.

To Make the Parmesan Béchamel sauce:

In a medium-sized saucepan melt the butter. Sprinkle in the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until well-blended. Cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes until  golden-brown. This thin paste is called a roux. Remove the roux from the heat. In a separate medium saucepan, heat the milk, bay leaf, salt, pepper and nutmeg until the milk is steaming. Remove the bay leaf. Return the roux to the heat. Slowly pour the steaming milk into the roux, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Continue stirring over the medium heat for 3 to 6 minutes. When the mixture thickens, take it off the heat and stir in half of the Parmesan cheese until melted. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. If you would like to make the béchamel in advance, dot the surface with additional butter or place a piece of buttered waxed paper directly on the surface of the sauce to prevent a skin from forming. Gently reheat the sauce before using (don’t cook).

Continue the Spinach Filling: In a large bowl, blend the ricotta, egg and 100 grams of  Parmesan béchamel sauce. Add the spinach mixture, the other half of  Parmesan cheese, half of the Romano cheese, salt and pepper. Stir to combine and set aside.

Make the Crepes.

To make the Cannelloni:

Preheat oven to 190 C˚. Lightly grease a large oven dish and pour the tomato sauce in. Place the spinach mixture in the middle of a crepe and roll it up like a fat cigar, then repeat. Place the filled cannelloni on top of the tomato sauce. Pour the remaining béchamel sauce onto the cannelloni. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan and chopped parsley. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until the cannelloni is warmed through and the sauce is light brown and bubbly. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Vegan Spinach & ‘Ricotta’ Cannelloni

Non-vegans honestly won’t know that we have adjusted some ingredients here, and will still get to enjoy the calcium rich goodness of the recipe! Creamy with a pleasant tomato sauce and an enjoyable cheese on the pasta base certainly will win hearts! Vegan-friendly, with the aim of osteoporosis prevention and full with rich healthy vitamins is the best choice for an everyday meal.

Ingredients: 

Cannelloni

  • 14 -16 crepes
  • Extra virgin olive oil  
  • 400g spinach 
  • ½ tsp nutmeg 
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 
  • 2 x 400g/ tins plum tomatoes (or use chopped tomatoes) 
  • Zest of ½ lemon 
  • Handful fresh basil 
  • ½ tsp sugar or syrup (e.g. agave or maple – optional)
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 200g melting vegan cheese (e.g. Bute Island Sheese Greek Style)
  • Vegan parmesan

‘Ricotta’ 

  • 35g sunflower seeds 
  • 425g firm tofu, drained and patted dry
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil 
  • ¾ tsp salt 
  • Pinch black pepper 
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed 
  • 20g nutritional yeast 

Method: 

Cannelloni 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C
  2. In a large saucepan, add the spinach, a drizzle of olive oil, half the nutmeg (¼ teaspoon), a pinch of salt and pepper. Cover the pan and leave the spinach to sweat and wilt down, stirring occasionally. Pop in a bowl and set aside. 
  3. In a large pan fry the onion until soft and golden. Then the garlic and fry for a further minute. 
  4. Add the plum tomatoes and break them up with a spoon (or with your hands as you add them!). 
  5. Then Add the sugar, lemon zest and a few basil leaves. Simmer for around 20 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Add salt and pepper, try the sauce and add more until you get the desired seasoning. 
  6. While the spinach is sweating and the tomato sauce is simmering, make the ‘ricotta’. 

‘Ricotta’ 

  1. Blend the sunflower seeds in a food processor or using the milling blade on your blender. 
  2. Add the tofu and blend with the sunflower seeds until smooth. 
  3. In a medium sized bowl, combine the tofu/sunflower seed mix with all the other ingredients and stir thoroughly. 

Assembly

  1. Once the wilted spinach has cooled, squeeze the liquid out of it and cut it up into small pieces. Add it to the ‘ricotta’ along with the rest of the nutmeg (¼ teaspoon) and stir thoroughly. 
  2. There are a couple of options for getting the ‘ricotta’ mix into the cannelloni tubes: either pipe it in using a piping bag or if you fancy having a bit more fun then stuff the mixture in using your hands (after washing them)… kids love doing this! 
  3. Place the stuffed cannelloni tubes onto the bottom of an oven dish. Pour the tomato sauce over the top and spread evenly. Add a layer of basil leaves, then sprinkle over your preferred melting vegan cheese and top off with vegan Parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil. 
  4. Cover the top of the dish with a sheet of foil and tuck in around the edges. Place in the oven for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and pop back in the oven for another 15 minutes. 
  5. Enjoy with a green salad and garlic bread!

Follow our blog for new healthy recipes rich with calcium and other minerals! Try this one and tell us how you like it in the comments! We would love to hear your feedback! Send a pic or a video of the dish to our FB group or IG account for a chance to be featured!

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Sources:
https://cdn.nof.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Spinach-and-Ricotta-Cannelloni-recipe.pdf
https://www.veganrecipeclub.org.uk/recipes/spinach-ricotta-cannelloni

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