If I had to choose a favorite vegetable, it’d be winter squash. This time a year ago I was working at a little pumpkin market in my hometown – the farmer grew over 40 varieties of pumpkin & squash(!) – and right about now I’m missing my daily cucurbita intake and stocking up on my favorite varieties for the year to come.
It didn’t quite feel like squash season here in Austin until the past few nights when it got down to a chilly 55 degrees. Yes, time to leave the windows open and feel the cool breeze through the house at last.
These chilly evenings have also put warm, comforting curry on the mind, and soon after onto the kitchen table. Continue reading
You know you’re doing alright with healthy eating when you open the fridge and your leftovers consist of cooked quinoa, chickpeas, and extra batter from these sweet potato-carrot-apple cakes. I’m lucky enough to naturally enjoy eating (and taking the time to cook) all these foods over the processed, fried and fast foods inundating our supermarkets and restaurants. But where I don’t have such an easy time is my unrelenting sweet tooth…. will it ever go away?!
Healthy eating is also much easier when you already have prepared foods on hand – like leftover quinoa, chickpeas, and veggies that are ready to be tossed into a salad the minute you decide you are starving for lunch. Sounds a bit like me today! Sometimes my leftover concoctions turn out to be not as appetizing as I’d hoped, but this was one that magically combined so nicely that I had to write up the recipe to share with you – and so that I can make it again!
Sometimes I find it hard to eat salads as often in the winter. Cold and crunchy just doesn’t do it for me when it’s 14 degrees out! This salad was nice because I put a warm pan-fried veggie cake on top of spinach and arugula (rather than lettuce which does not stand up well under something hot) along with reheated quinoa and chickpeas and some fresh veggies. A warm, hearty and filling wintertime salad – perfect. Continue reading
A summer Indian feast.
Recently I started working on a small-scale organic farm (and am gaining a whole new appreciation for the hard work that goes into growing our organic food!) along with selling the fruits and veg of our labor at local markets. Although quite the exhausting and dirty workday, it’s great to be reunited with the outdoors during my favorite time of year (bring on the summer heat and tomatoes!) and to bring home some fresh-from-the-earth vegetables to throw on the grill.
We tend to have a good variety of unique vegetables that people are not as familiar with, like garlic scapes, caraflex cabbage, and the star of today – kohlrabi. Puzzled customers examine these alien-looking crops and ask “What is this? What do I do with it? Have you cooked with it?” And of course, I need to be able to answer! Never having tried kholrabi myself did not make it the easiest to explain to intrigued customers at my last market. So I brought some home, told my boyfriend to get excited for an Indian feast (our favorite when cooking a big scrumptious dinner) and decided to create a curry featuring this lovely, seasonal kholrabi.
Kohlrabi, I learned, translates from German as ‘cabbage-turnip’. To me it tastes very much like a broccoli stem when cooked, but eaten raw it is mildly sweet and crisp almost like a jicama. I imagine it would be delicious sliced up thin into slaw. But right now this curry — filled with chickpeas, lentils, butternut and lots of warm spices — has won my heart.
Forrest is a pro at the whole grilling thing, so he was in charge of that part of the meal. Not that I was surprised, but his tandoori chicken was awesome. Like only-marinated-for-10-minutes-yet-unbelievably-flavorful, crispy-on-the-outside-juicy-tender-on-the-inside …awesome. Mucho props to him.
And all together — doused in fresh cilantro and a dollop of yogurt on the side — this made one healthy, satisfying Indian feast, perfect to enjoy on the patio alongside a summer sunset. Continue reading
I really miss my falafel bar in Charleston. Can’t believe it’s been a year since my college graduation and FIVE years since I was a freshman, exploring and orienting myself around that amazing little city. A city with a wonderful, wonderful food scene. New restaurants were popping up on the narrow historic downtown streets every other day it seemed, having to compete in a food culture that demanded unqiue, eclectic, quality eats. And the day I saw the new Patat Spot Friet & Falafel pop up on one of the streets that ran right through campus, I was psyched. This girl is a falafel lover.
Plus this wasn’t just any order of falafel – you could get it grilled or fried, in a pita or on a bed of greens, and then head over to the ‘Garden Spot’ and fill your plate with over 20 toppings ranging from pickled beets to baba ganoush to tabouli. I surely did my best to keep them in business.
Anyway, just reminiscing about how great I had it back in the day. Now I have to make it all myself and provide all the toppings?! Ugh. Fortunately, making falafel is pretty simple and the finished product is so worth it. I’ve probably used a different falafel recipe every time and this combination of ingredients definitely makes for the best, as does soaking and cooking my own garbanzo beans. Much better texture and easier on the digestion. I also wanted to experiment with baking vs. pan frying — both turned out equally delicious. When the time came to serve, the only form of bread in my house was corn tortillas so… I made do with a falafel taco. Not bad! If you’ve got pita, by all means use it or serve over a bed of spinach or romaine with a 20+ topping salad bar, ideally ;) Continue reading
I think at least 80% of the meals I make for myself end up piled into a bowl. I like it that way – the different flavors and textures blend together in each bite, and the combinations of veggies, grains, proteins, herbs, sauces and spices are endless…
I’m also often cooking for one, so it’s a convenient way to control my portions and season it just the way I like it. Then I take a big spoon, collapse on my comfy couch, and savor every bite :)
My creations typically involve some kind of grain (quinoa, polenta, or brown rice), steamed or sautéed greens, sautéed or roasted seasonal veggies, and either beans, eggs, lentils, tofu, veggie sausage or chicken. Then comes the endless flavor combinations concocted of herbs, cheeses, spices, and sauces, which I change up every time. The bowl concept is great because I always end up with a well-balanced meal, and it makes for easy eating whether at home, on the go, or leftover for tomorrow’s lunch!
I wanted to share a few of my favorite quinoa bowls as of late: Continue reading
I showed you the magic of beets and beans in brownies, and now I give you a decadent deep dish cookie pie….. made with chickpeas!
The use of beans in desserts is becoming more common to me so I was not too skeptical about this recipe. And the beans proved themselves once again. Mom and I made this one night while watching the Biggest Loser (nothing like eating a decadent dessert while watching people lose weight… but hey, at least this pie is somewhat healthy!) and I think her more skeptical taste buds were impressed as well.
We made half the recipe since there were only two of us, and put it in a smaller round pan (about 8-inch). Remember this is a pie rather than a crisp cookie, so it may seem gooey and under-baked – just let it be :] Then let it sit for 10 minutes after baking, seriously testing your willpower while wafts of sweet cookie aroma float past your nose. I know it’s hard. But then you can dish it up with vanilla ice cream and indulge in this dense, moist, half-baked fudgey cookie. Guiltlessly, of course!
healthy deep dish cookie pie, adapted from Chocolate-Covered Katie
this is the halved recipe that we made in an 8-inch round pan. Our pie was not too deep-dish as you can see in the photo, so use a smaller pan if you wish. If you want more servings, double these measurements and use a 10-inch round cake pan or springform pan, as called for in the original recipe.
* this is also gluten free if you use gluten free oats, and vegan if you use dairy-free chocolate!
- 1 can chickpeas or white beans (drained and rinsed well)
- ½ cup old-fashioned or quick oats
- 2 T unsweetened applesauce
- 1 ½ T canola oil
- 1 t vanilla extract
- ¼ t baking soda
- 1 t baking powder
- ¼ t salt
- 3/4 cups brown sugar **we used slightly less than ½ cup brown sugar, and ¼ cup erythritol [a natural calorie-free granulated sweetener] but I found it to be very sweet, so next time I’ll use ½ or 2/3 cup sweetener.
- ½ cup chopped dark chocolate (we used Scharffen Berger 70%) or chocolate chips
Blend everything (except the chips) very well in a food processor. Mix in chips, and pour into an oiled or parchment-lined round pan. Cook at 350F for 20-30 minutes, or until edges are crispy and golden. Let stand at least 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Best served warm with cool and creamy vanilla ice cream.
This post is linked to Allergy Free Wednesdays
This is one of my favorite soup recipes – it’s light but filling, vegetarian, and made with a unique combination of spices that fill the air with warmth. Cinnamon and cayenne give it a spicy heat, and my favorite part—the raisins—turn into plump little grapes bursting with an unexpected sweetness.
Oh yeah, it’s SO simple to make and healthy too!
Moroccan soup with quinoa + chickpeas, adapted from Women’s Health
Serves 4 or 5
- 3 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
- 1 can (14.5 oz) no salt- added diced tomatoes, with juice
- 1 cup zucchini, sliced into half circles
- 1/2 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 4 artichoke hearts, cut in half (frozen or packed in water and drained) *I left these out
- 1/2 cup quinoa
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced (including green tops)
- 1/4 t cinnamon
- 1/4 t cayenne
- 1/2 t basil
- 1/2 t oregano
Bring stock plus 1 cup water to a rolling boil. Reduce heat, add remaining ingredients, and simmer uncovered about 10-15 minutes, or until quinoa is just tender (don’t overcook as it will expand as the soup sits). Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.
As with many soups, it will thicken up over time, and I find it to be especially flavorful after sitting overnight.