Savory oats: A healthy breakfast option

Breakfast, I love you. Oatmeal, you are amazing.

What’s great about oatmeal is that it doesn’t always need to be sweet and topped with fruit. This take on oatmeal packs all the benefits of the hearty whole grain, plus protein from… drumroll… lentils!

Lentils are a staple in vegetarian diets. They can be seasoned to take on a variety of flavors… and you’ve probably seen them in curry dishes, veggie stews and on hearty salads.

Yesterday we made this savory oatmeal dish at Om, Nom — my yoga and food series at Boston Public Market. We started with 60-minutes of yoga bootcamp followed by a tasting and quick explanation of how to put together a healthy savory oatmeal bowl.

Here is the nutritional breakdown of this dish:

Calories Fat Carbs Fiber Protein Sugar
Green lentils, 1 cup 680 2 115 59 50 3.9
GF Oats, 1 cup 300 5 54 8 12 2
Sweet potato, 1 cup cubed 114 0 27 4 2.1 6
Avocado, 1 322 29 17 13 4 1
Total 1416 36 213 84 68.1 12.9
Per serving (4) 354 9 53.25 21 17.025 3.225

Now, get to cooking.

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  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Healthy Savory Oatmeal

Ingredients

1 cup green lentils

1 cup gluten free oats

1 cup cubed sweet potato, cooked

1 avocado

1/2 cup salsa of choice

Optional toppings: eggs, mixed greens, tofu scramble

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Directions

  1. Start by cooking the lentils and oats at the same time. Follow the cooking  instructions on the lentil packaging, but also add the oats and 1 extra cup of water. You can also do the cooking in a rice cooker.
  2. After the lentils are cooked, top your oats with your favorite ingredients — greens, 2 Tbsp salsa, 1/4 avocado and maybe an egg.

How about the pico de gallo?! Recipe coming this week.

Rosemary Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Remember those Roasted Curry Carrots from last week? Well, while roasting those I also used some Japanese sweet potatoes I had laying around.

I love Japanese sweet potatoes because they are the perfect blend of sweet and starch. The average serving of Japanese sweet potato is 5 inches — or about 130 grams. This serving  size contains just under 120 calories, none of which come from fat. For my paleo and low-carb friends out there, sweet potatoes are a great carbohydrates to have in your diet.

To add, these potatoes are a great source of vitamin A (~200% of the recommended daily value). Prep these Rosemary Roasted Sweet Potatoes in a big batch to serve with meals throughout the week. They are delicious and filling.

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Rosemary Roasted Sweet Potatoes

(serves 2-3)

Ingredients

2 medium-large Japanese sweet potatoes

2 Tbsp olive oil

Spices

1 tsp rosemary

1/2 tsp basil

1/4 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, mix all of the spices together. Set aside.
  3. Rinse the sweet potato and chop into bite-sized pieces. Leave the skin on ( — it’s got the nutrients).
  4. Place the sweet potato on the baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Next, pour the spices on and use your hands to mix.
  5. Roast for 35-45 minutes or until they start to crisp and turn brown.

When you make these Rosemary Roasted Sweet Potatoes, take a photo and tag a #SHSHkitchen! Happy, healthy eating. <3

Roasted Curry Carrots

While working from home one Friday, I didn’t have time to get too creative during lunch since I had phone calls scheduled and deadlines to hit. I needed something quick and easy — oh, and preferably something that I could eat for lunch the next day too.

The solution: Roasted veggies. Lucky for me, two things I often buy in excess on grocery shopping trips are carrots and sweet potatoes.

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First up were these roasted “curry” carrots. I put curry in quotes because I made my own curry spice blend. Most curry powder recipes include coriander, cumin, chili peppers and turmeric. Other spices often included are garlic, ginger and cayenne. For my powder, the star is the turmeric.

Bake these curried carrots during your weekly food prep or as a side dish at dinner. They taste great warm — and pretty good cold too.

Roasted Curry Carrots

(serves 4-6)

Ingredients

10-15 large [rainbow] carrots, washed

2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted

Spices

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp red chili flakes

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, mix all of the spices  together. Set aside.
  3. Slice the carrots into sticks  and arrange them on the baking sheet.
  4. Pour the melted coconut oil over the carrots. Next, sprinkle the spice blend and start to get those hands dirty. Toss the carrots in the oil and spices until well-coated. Arrange them on the pan without overlap.
  5. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until the edges start to brown and crisp.

Enjoy fresh and hot — or store in the fridge for a few days.

What I’m Loving Lately: Meals and weekending in VT

Sometimes, you just need to escape to the mountains with your gal pals where there is no cell service, no TV, lots of wine and peak foliage. A couple of weekends ago, I did just that.

The plan for the weekend was to leave Boston around 6 p.m. on Friday to arrive at the cabin in Stockbridge by 8:30 p.m. Priorities upon arrival went as followed: Get the cheese board prepped, open wine and start on dinner. Saturday we penciled in a visit to the Long Trail Brewery followed by a stroll through Woodstock, VT. Then Sunday we planned for breakfast at Sugar & Spice and a fall foliage hike before heading back to Boston.

This was my second time venturing up north with these lovely ladies, the last time being over the summer. The trip was a lot different this time around. Instead of river tubing, we were bundling up in front of the fire watching snow flurries out the window!

Now, let’s talk about all the eats.

The girls suggested I prep a very Stay Healthy, Stay Happy dinner for Friday night — a challenge I graciously accepted. I planned a light and simple meal to allow for lots of cheese, wine and dessert consumption. Recipes below!

Autumn Pear Salad(serves 5-8)

Ingredients

1 bag of mixed greens

1 Asian pear, chopped into small cubes

1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds

1/2 red onion, sliced thin

Dressing: 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp honey, pinch of salt

Directions

Toss all the salad ingredients in a salad bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the dressing until the honey is well-combined. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss again.

Serve immediately. Note: Day-old leftovers were OK!

Autumn Pear Salad (1)(serves 8-10)

Ingredients

1.5 cup dried quinoa (cooked 4 1/2 cups)

1 small acorn squash

4-6 cups of chopped kale, de-stemmed

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Heat the oven to 375°F. Slice the acorn squash in half, de-seed and place flesh down in a baking pan. Add 1/2 inch of water to the baking pan. Roast the squash for 30-45 minutes, or until it is soft (poke with a fork).

While the squash is cooking, start the quinoa. In large pot, add dried quinoa and 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Stir occasionally until all of the water is absorbed and the quinoa is light and fluffy. Right before the quinoa is done (still a smidge more liquid to absorb), add the kale so that it can wilt. You can also steam the kale separately.

When the squash is done and slightly cooled, peel the skin off and chop into bite-sized cubes. In a serving bowl, add squash, quinoa, oil, vinegar, cranberries, salt and pepper. Toss and serve warm.

Autumn Pear Salad (3)Ingredients

10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 shallot, sliced thin

2 Tbsp fresh grated ginger

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 apple (your choice), slice thin

Directions

In a plastic bag or airtight container, marinade chicken with maple syrup, shallot, ginger and garlic for a couple of hours before cooking.

Heat the oven to 425°F. In a baking dish, add the apples. Arrange chicken with what would be the “skin side” facing up with no overlap. Drizzle the remaining marinade on top.

Bake for 20 minutes. Then, turn the oven to broil to crisp the tops of the chick for about 5-7 minutes. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

Moving on…

Saturday we rolled out of bed slowly and spent some time on the couch watching You Got Mail before heading out for activities.

breakfast

Saturday breakfast was simple. We bought yogurt, fresh fruit and I brought my simple maple, coconut granola. There were also some pumpkin muffins I made for a recent Boston Magazine post. (Taste the granola at my upcoming Om, Nom event at Boston Public Market. Boston Honey Company will be there to sample some delicious honey.)

After fueling, we were off to Long Trail and Woodstock!

Saturday day night we partied hard with more cheese, wine, leftover and apple cider margaritas. Oh my goodness we they delish.

Sunday we awoke to snow flurries. After cleaning up the house, we headed to breakfast at Sugar & Spice. The snow flurries (and hangovers) had us second-guessing the hike… but I’m glad we went up. It was gorgeous (even though it was freezing).


Where do you love to vacation with your friends? Do you have a go-to spot?

Tofu Glass Noodles

Last week, I had this weird craving for these bean threads. You can find bean threads at an Asian food store — or in the international section of your favorite grocery store (usually you’ll see the Saifun brand I used here). Serve this dish hot or cold as a simple weekday lunch or dinner. From start to finish, it takes you less than 20 minutes.

Keep in mind — any of the veggies can be swapped out for what’s in your fridge. As you’ll see in the photos, I added some mushrooms (I needed to use them up), but mushrooms are not 0n the ingredient list.noodles

Tofu Glass Noodles

Serves 3-4
Ingredients

5-6 ounces dry glass noodles (I used Saifun bean threads)

2 Tbsp sesame oil

 3/4 package of firm tofu, cubed (How to Prepare Tofu)

1 Tbsp ginger, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 large carrots, sliced into thin sticks

1 red bell pepper, sliced thing

1 bunch of kale, de-stemmed and roughly chopped

sesame seeds for garnish

Sauce for spicy noodles (this one is my favorite)

2 tsp garlic chili paste

2 Tbsp soy sauce

2 Tbsp rice vinegar

1 lime, juiced

Sauce for sweeter noodles

2 Tbsp. sweet chili sauce

2 Tbsp soy sauce

1 lime, juiced

Directions
  1. Noodles: Bring 6 cups of water to a boil (use an electric tea kettle — so easy!). Break the noodle bunches in half, place them in a large bowl and cover with boiling water for 10 minutes. Strain and divide into 3 or 4 serving bowls.
  2. Tofu: In a skillet, heat 1 Tbsp sesame oil (other oil works) over medium-high heat. Once hot, add cubed tofu and let it crisp. Fried it on each site until golden brown.noodles
  3. Veggies: In a separate skillet, heat 1 Tbsp sesame oil and then add ginger and garlic until fragrant. Add carrots, peppers and 1 Tbsp water. Cover and cook until they start to soften (like steaming them). After about 5 minutes, add kale and cook until it wilts.noodles
  4. Sauce: In a bowl, whisk together your sauce ingredients. If serving your dish hot, add your sauce to you veggies to warm it up in the next step. If serving cold, put sauce to the side for now. noodles
  5. Remove your veggies from heat and mix in the cooked tofu. If serving hot, mix in the sauce and tofu before removing from the heat. If serving cold, add sauce and let everything cool.
  6. Add the skillet ingredients to your noodles, toss gently and serve!
Stay healthy, stay happy!

Japanese Meatball Miso Soup (Niku Dango Miso)

I returned home after a sunny California vacation to a couple feet of snow and my car frozen to the earth. Welcome back to reality, eh?! I don’t dislike snow, but it sure is difficult to keep up with shoveling when there is no where to put the snow. This is one of the small sacrifices city dwellers make. Alas…

California was fantastic. We lucked out and only had one afternoon of rainfall (on our second to last day). My favorite part about the trip >> we were able to eat fresh, good-for-us food the entire trip. Usually I come home from vacation craving greens or fruits, but not this time!

Something I did start craving the minute my face hit the cold Boston air was soup. Plus, there is nothing better than a nice bowl of hot soup after coming in from shoveling snow (well, hot chocolate is up there too).

I made this soup before heading to California, but decided I’d make it one more time before taking pictures and sharing it with all of you. It is a detoxifying Japanese meatball soup or, niku dango miso (according to Ryo). The recipe is simple, but requires a few Japanese pantry staples: wakame, light/mild miso and hondashi. There are images of the products I buy below (you can get them at any Asian market like H-Mart in Cambridge/Burlington or Super88 in Allston).

Niku Dango Miso

(serves 2, or 4 if eating as a side dish)

Ingredients

Mini-meatballs

1/2 lb lean ground beef

1 tbsp soy sauce

salt and pepper to taste

1 large garlic clove, grated*

1 tsp fresh ginger, grated*

1 Tbsp sesame oil

*Invest in a ceramic grater like this Kyocera one

Soup base

1 Tbsp sesame oil

1 tsp fresh ginger, minced

1 larger garlic clove, minced

1-2 large carrot cut into circles

1 Tbsp soy sauce

4 cups water

2 Tbsp light miso paste

1 Tbsp hondashi

1 Tbsp dried wakame (fueru wakame)

2 handfuls of chopped kale (or other greens)

As always, add more or less of ingredients like ginger, garlic, or miso to satisfy your tastebuds. Taste the soup base as you add the miso. You might find that you want an extra tablespoon.

Directions

Meatballs

  1. In a small mixing  bowl, combine all ingredients except the sesame oil.
  2. In a medium-sized skillet, heat 1 Tbsp of seasame oil over medium heat. Using your hands, roll small meatballs (smaller than a ping pong ball) and place them in the skillet one at a time. *Tip:I was able to make 20. A melon scooper is a good gauge for size. soup
  3. Let them brown on the outside — tossing them in the pan every minute or so. Once they are brown on all sides, slice the biggest one in half to check doneness. Cover, remove from heat and set aside.

Soup base

  1. Heat 1 Tbsp of sesame oil in your soup pot. Add ginger and garlic. Sauté until fragrant.
  2. Add your carrot and cook for 1 minute.  Add soy sauce and 4 cups of water. Bring it to a boil for 2 minutes, and then reduce to a simmer. soupsoup
  3. Next, add your miso paste. Trick: Place the miso paste in a ladle and then fill the ladle with hot water from the soup pot. Stir the miso paste in the ladle until it dissolves and then add it to the pot. Be careful not to bring the soup broth to a boil — it’ll jeopardize the miso flavor. Taste the broth and judge whether or not you want more miso.
  4. Add the hondashi, wakame and kale. Keep the soup at a low simmer and cover for 5 minutes. soupsoupSAMSUNG CSC
  5. Serve hot! Divide meatballs in 2 or 4 bowls, then add broth over the top. Want it spicy? Add a dab of garlic chili paste.soup

Enjoy! I topped mine with a toasted mochi. :)

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Detoxifying Daikon Chicken Soup

Before we dive into anything recipe-related I must share…

Today, December 30th, is one of my favorite days ever! Why? Because it’s this guy’s birthday!

em

I’m so lucky to have such a supportive significant other — someone who motivates me to be the best version of myself every single damn day. Keep pushing my limits and keep me dreaming big. I promise to do the same for you. <3

~

My recent recipe development has been heavily influenced by what I’ve learned about Japanese food and culture. We can chalk that up to living with a Japanese S/O — oh, and binge watching Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown episodes where he says again and again, “Not many chefs can out-cook culinary masters of Japan” (or something of that nature). However, if my S/O and I hadn’t crossed paths, I do feel as though I would have eventually stumbled upon the delectable culinary creations of Japan. Not only are they tasty, but so good for you.

A couple of months back, I made Asian Beef Stew. On that day in particular, I was craving something my mom used to make when I was growing up. This past weekend, I was craving daikon and chicken soup. Weird, I know. What came about is my delicious Daikon Chicken Soup. It’s packed with greens (good for boosting immunities) and daikon/celery (inflammatory and aid digestion).

This is a one pot operation. The less dishes, the better (IMO). soup

Daikon Chicken Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • ½ lb skinless chicken breast/thighs/tenderloin, chopped into bite size pieces
  • 2 Tbsp ginger, cut into strips
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • 2 tbsp cooking sake
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 cups low sodium (organic) chicken broth*
  • 1 cup daikon, sliced into half circles
  • 1-2 cups snow/snap peas
  • 2 cups spinach**

*Sub in vegetable broth if you don’t have (or don’t want) chicken broth

**Sub in kale, cabbage or other greens

Directions

  1. Heat sesame oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add ginger, garlic, celery and chicken. Sauté until the chicken is fully cooked.
  2. Add sake and soy sauce and cook for 1 minute. Then add broth, daikon and snow peas. Bring everything to a boil and then reduce to a simmer (covered) for 15-20 minutes or until daikon is soft..
  3. Finally, add your spinach and simmer for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and serve hot.soup

This is the PERFECT winter detox soup. It has lean protein, leafy greens and digestive aids. If you need something sinus clearing, add a little chili hot sauce or chili garlic paste. Warning: Nose dripping will commence. Eat this soup while it’s piping hot — you won’t regret it.

Vegan Chickpea Coconut Curry

Cooking is my meditation — well, one of my many meditative practices. For me, meditation doesn’t necessarily require sitting quietly (though, that is most effective IMO). The whole purpose of meditation, in whatever form it takes, is to cultivate awareness and compassion.

Boston yogi, Rebecca Pacheco, describes it well:

It’s not possible to be bad at meditation.  There’s doing it and not doing it.  That’s all.  If you want to try: try.  And be assured that it doesn’t always look, sound, or feel Zen.  Sometimes, it feels wretched or boring or like nothing much at all.  It doesn’t matter how long or where you sit, whether roused by an antique Buddhist gong or iPhone.

 

All experiences of meditation are good and valuable because they cultivate the skill of being present, of strengthening the mind.

How often do you focus your attention on one thing or one task? When sitting in meditation, it’s about becoming still and maybe repeating a mantra to gain control of the mind and reach a heightened awareness.  On your yoga mat, it’s a matter of staying present and keeping your physically body and attention in the room. In Zumba class, it’s about staying engulfed in the rhythm, the movement and how your body feels as you move with the beat. In the kitchen, it’s about paying attention to the task at hand — slicing carefully, stirring thoughtfully and paying attention to the ingredients going into your body.

The goal of meditation is to become more aware of your physical and mental body — while also developing compassion, patience, generosity and forgiveness. The intended outcome of all things you do should be the same — to develop compassion, patience, generosity and forgiveness. This is especially true for the foods you fuel your body with, which is something I’ve been reading about in my Japanese home cooking book by Elizabeth Andoh, “Washoku: Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen.” Rhythm and flow in the kitchen is important — so is cooking with compassion.

Oh, you came here for a recipe?

The point of all of this is… I have found so much joy in cooking lately and I attribute that to the recent meditative nature of my work in the kitchen. I’m always attentive about what is going into my body (for many reasons), but I didn’t always engulf myself in the process. This recipe is based off of one from VeganSandra.curry

Chickpea Coconut Curry

Ingredients

1 Tbsp coconut oil

1 leek, just the whites sliced thin (or 1/2 white onion sliced thin)

1 tsp salt

2 tsp curry powder

1 tsp ground cumin

2 bay leaves

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 can of diced tomatoes

1, 14 oz can of coconut milk (I buy organic, light coconut milk from Trader Joe’s)

  1. In your soup pot, heat coconut oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add thinly sliced leeks/onions and salt. Cook for one minute. Add curry, cumin and and bay leaves. Stir and cook for one minute. Add drained chickpeas and cook for another minute. Add the entire can of tomatoes and let it simmer for a couple of minutes.
  3. Open the can of coconut milk  stir vigorously. Add about 1/2 of the can to your pot and simmer for at least 5 minutes.
  4. Final step: Taste test your curry and add more coconut milk if it’s not coconut-y for you. Mine was plenty coconut-y without the rest of the can — but, everyone’s taste buds are different.

Serve alone or over a bed of rice with a drizzle of soy sauce (or tamari). Nom, nom, nom!curry

Miso-Glazed Salmon

It’s no secret — I love salmon.

It’s funny, I never really loved fish as a kid. My grandfather would go fishing often and take us along with him, but I never really looked forward to eating the little fishies after. Nonetheless, I’d eat them… doused in butter. As I grew older, my love for shrimp, lobster and other seafood grew. (Really, my family knew not to but the shrimp platter out until I arrived to Christmas Eve dinner.) After I graduated from college, I really started getting adventurous with cooking fish — partly motivated by my gradual gravitation towards a vegetarian (or pescetarian) diet. I’m by no means strictly vegetarian, but I eat that way more often than not.

Anyways…

I recently purchased Washuko: Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen and The Oh She Glows Cookbook. I’ve had my nose deep in both of them for a week now. What’s great about Elizabeth Andoh’s Washuko is that she describes — in great detail — the art of Japanese cooking. I feel like she’s my soul sister in that didn’t know anything about Japanese cooking, culture or language, but started seeing someone of Japanese decent… BAM… now she’s a pro. Teach me your ways, Elizabeth, teach me your ways.

One of the first recipes I tried out was the miso-glazed fish. I’m still buying salmon and other fish regularly from Whole Foods (check out this salmon burger recipe). Let’s get right to it… here is an adapted/simplified recipe…

Miso-glazed Salmon

Ingredients

1 lb fresh salmon fillet

1/4 cup yellow miso paste

2 T mirin

sea salt

 Directions

1. Whisk together glaze ingredients.

2. Rinse your salmon fillet and the pat dry. Sprinkle each side with sea salt and let it “sweat” for 5 mintes.

3. Slice salmon into serving sizes, leaving the skin on.  Be sure to remove any bones or plan to eat it carefully. photo 1 (1)

4. Brush glaze over both sides of the fish. Place the fish in the refrigerator to marinate for 40-60 minutes.

5. After your fish marinates, pull it out the the fridge. Set your oven to broil, making sure your oven rack is situated 3-4 inches from the broiling coils. While the oven heats, scrape excess miso marinade off the salmon, leaving just a thin coating behind (you can save this glaze to use again on fish within a week’s time — just store in the fridge in an air-tight container).

6. Place salmon in the oven with the skin side up and watch carefully — every oven is different. Once the skin starts to blacken and blister, flip the fish over. Cook with flesh-side up for a couple minutes or until it reaches your desired darkness (I went for a golden brown).

7. Remove from the oven, let it cool and then serve with brown rice and veggies. I opted for asparagus, rainbow carrots (both cooked by Ryo) and a side of pickled ginger. The Washuko tradition is all about variety in color, taste, texture, dinnerware, etc.photo 2 (1)

Follow me on Instagram for real-time dinner updates. ;)

Enjoy!

Shrimp Gumbo with Apple Chicken Sausage

A long, long time ago, my friend Lauren brought some seafood seasoning back from New Orleans. Hey Lauren, I finally used it!gumbo

Inspiration struck when I found a shrimp gumbo “comfort food done light” recipe in Shape Magazine. While the recipe was pretty light, I decided to go lighter by nixing some of the fish, small okra, and corn. Then, I opted for whole wheat pasta instead of white rice. This cut down the prep time, cook time and calorie count.

As you can see, I did a number on the recipe page.

As you can see, I did a number on the recipe page.

Ingredients

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1/2 cup onion, diced

1/2 cup orange pepper, cut into strips

1/2 cup yellow pepper , cut into strips

1/2 cup celery, diced

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

3 garlic cloves

1/4 lb apple chicken sausage

1 + 1/2 cups vegetable stock

 2 tsp gumbo filé powder OR other spicy seafood/gumbo blend (I used my New Orleans’ treasure)

1/2 lb small shrimp, defrosted if using frozen (If using fresh shrimp, find cooking instructions here)

1 tsp chili powder or additional spicy seafood/gumbo blend

2 scallions, chopped

Directions

  1. In a large skillet or pot (something big enough for all the ingredients), warm vegetable oil over medium heat. Add onion, peppers, celery and tomatoes. Stir until soft, ~5-8 minutes.
  2. Stir in garlic, chicken sausage and seasoning. Cook for another 2-3 minutes and then add the vegetable stock.

    My vegetable stock of choice.

    My vegetable stock of choice.

  3. While the vegetable stock simmers, toss defrosted shrimp with chili powder in a small bowl. Add the coasted shrimp to the gumbo pan/pot and let simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Add scallions and serve over a bed of rice, whole wheat pasta, quinoa or other grain. SAMSUNG CSC

Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Mac & Cheese

Vegan, gluten-free mac & cheese? Could it be?! Well, the vegan part is totally up to you. I used parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese in my batch — but you could leave it out or sub in a dairy-free option. This isn’t the first time I’ve attempted this mac & cheese, but it’s the first time I finally got it right! I mostly credit my handy-dandy hand mixer Ryo so kindly bought (so I’d make more cookies).

The key ingredients in this recipe are Trader Joe’s Organic Brown Rice Fusilli ($1.99), sweet potato and original, un-sweetened almond milk (though any dairy-free milk will do). The brown rice fusilli has only two ingredients (Yes, TWO ingredients): organic brown rice and water. 

mac and cheeseIn addition to those three core ingredients, add all the cheeses and spices your heart desired. I added basil, oregano, garlic powder, parmesan cheese and pepper.

mac and cheeseSweet Potato Mac & Cheese

(Serves 4-6)

Ingredients

3/4 package of Trader Joe’s Organic Brown Rice Fusilli (6 cups cooked)

2 cups sweet potato, mashed

1 cup unsweetened original almond milk

2 tbsp parmesan cheese (omit or use other)

1/2 tsp of each: Basil, oregano, black pepper (omit or switch it up)

*Bonus: Add some leafy greens like kale, spinach or arugula

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F.
  2. Cook Trader Joe’s Organic Brown Rice Fusilli according to package instructions.
  3. Cook the sweet potato in the microwave (or bake/boil) until mashable. I tossed mine in the microwave for time’s sake and peeled after letting it cool slightly. The skin comes right off the potato after microwaving — but you’re welcome to peel ahead of time.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, mash potato. Add almond milk and seasonings to the bowl, and then blend with a hand mixer. For creamier mac & cheese, add an extra 1/4+ cup almond milk.mac and cheese
  5. Stir in 6 cups cooked pasta and any leafy greens. mac and cheese
  6. In a non-stick or lightly-grease baking pan, pour mac & cheese, then top with a layer of mozzarella if desired.  Bake until cheese melts.mac and cheese

Honestly, you don’t have to bake it at all if you’re not melting any cheese. I was eating it out of the bowl before putting it in the oven. LMK if you try this recipe in the comment section below! Enjoy!

 

 

Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash

Like the rest of New England, I can’t get enough of these fall flavors. Each week I make a point to pick something different up at the market. So far I’ve baked up some butternut squash, spaghetti squash and now I’m onto acorn squash.

Acorn squash is a great, low-calorie source of potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A and dietary fiber. It will fill you up without weighing you down. Quinoa is also a great source of fiber and a fabulous alternative to pasta, rice and your other typically carbohydrates. Check out it’s nutritional value, here.

Below is a recipe for quinoa-stuffed acorn squash, but the recipe packs a lot more than those two ingredients. Follow my lead or pick up your favorite sausage and veggies to sub in.

Quinoa-stuffed acorn squash

(Serves 2)

Ingredients

1 acorn squash, sliced in half with seeds removed

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa

1 cup water for cooking quinoa, plus more for cooking squash

1 cup kale or spinach, chopped

1/4 cup yellow onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup red bell pepper, green pepper and yellow/orange pepper medly, diced

2 cooked chicken sausage links

1 tsp Italian spices

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Get a large baking dish out, and add water to the bottom of it until the water is about ¼” tall. Place the squash cut-side-down into the dish and poke a couple of holes into the rinds with a fork.SONY DSC
  2. Bake for 30 minutes and prep the filling while the squash is baking.SONY DSC
  3. Cook the quinoa. In a pot, bring the water and quinoa to a boil. Reduce to simmer, cover and stir frequently until the water is absorbed. Set aside.
  4. In a wok or skillet, saute the onion and garlic in 1 Tbsp of oil over medium heat until fragrant. Add the peppers and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the chicken sausage to get a nice sear. Finally, add the kale and cook until it wilts.
  5. Stir the quinoa into the veggie/sausage mix.SONY DSC
  6. Once the squash is done: Drain the squash baking dish and flip the squash halves to face up. From here, you have a couple of options: a.) Put the quinoa right in the squash. Or, b.) Take a fork and loosen the squash from the rind and add it to the quinoa/veggie mixture, then re-stuff the rind.

I had tons of extra filling since my squash was tiny — enough for lunch the next day. Let me know if you decide to make it and what changes you make to the recipe!Stay healthy, stay happy, enjoy the Fall squash selection!

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Panko-Crusted Baked Tofu

The other day, I showed you how to prepare tofu for cooking. After going through those steps, you’re well-equipped to make a tofu dish of any kind. After preparing that tofu in particular, I make this panko-crusted baked tofu dish. So delish!

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Baked panko-crusted baked tofu

Ingredients

1 block of firm tofu, sliced into 10-12 rectangular blocks

1 egg

1/2+ cup panko breadcrumbs

salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly spray a non-stick pan with oil.
  2. Whisk the egg in small, shallow bowl, and then add 1/4 cup of panko to a second shallow bowl (keep the rest nearby and add it to the bowl when needed).
  3. Take one slice of tofu and dip both sides in the egg bowl, and then the panko. Place tofu on the baking sheet and do the same with remaining slices.
  4. Bake for 30-40 minutes, flipping the tofu halfway through (or as the underside starts to brown).

Enjoy over rice, on top of a salad or… by itself.SONY DSC

Vegetarian Lentil (meat)Balls

These aren’t exactly meatballs since they are lacking any kind of beef or poultry, but they are a delicious vegetarian alternative to traditional meatballs if you are looking for something to accompany your pasta. Being pescetarian for the month has led me to have some interesting cravings brought on my temptation and the simple lust for what I can’t have. The forbidden is always so desirable.

Earlier this month, I was tempted by my Aunt Karen’s famous meatballs. When I say famous, I really mean it. If she didn’t make them for a holiday or family gathering, people might riot. Real talk.

Anyways, here is my vegetarian spin on meaty, meaty meatballs. Enjoy!

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Red Lentil and Kale Meatballs

Ingredients

1/2 cup kale

1/2 small yellow onion

1 clove garlic, roughly chopped

1 Tbsp parmesan cheese

1 tsp olive oil

preferred seasonings (I used red pepper flakes, curry, chili powder. You could go all Italian with basil, oregano, garlic powder, etc.)

1/2 cup panko

1 egg

1 cup cooked lentils (1/2 cup uncooked)

palm full of flour* (optional)

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and begin by cooking 1/2 cup dry lentils according to package instructions.SONY DSC

2. Chop kale, onion, garlic, cheese and olive oil in a food processor, and then add the mixture to mixing bowl. SONY DSC

3. Add egg, panko, seasonings and cooked lentils (once slightly cooled) to the same mixing bowl and combine. Test time: If you can’t form compact balls, add a palm full of flour to the mixture. SONY DSCSONY DSC

4. Form lentil balls from the mixture (makes about 9 golf ball-sized lentil balls). Arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, turning half way through.

Serve with pasta, rice, tomato sauce… get creative! Yum yum yum! Once January is over, I might consider adding some ground pork/turkey to these lentil balls.

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