earth day bowl

sweet potato + lentil stew topped with cilantro gremolata

“ Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. “

One of my favorite quotes, by Kahlil Gibran.

I hope you play in the dirt today. Plant some flowers, work in the garden, sit under a tree, take your dog to the park, get some grass stains and fully appreciate all the earth provides us !

texas blooms

And then… eat something meatless (and tasty!), for the earth’s health and yours. I chose this sweet potato and red lentil stew because to me is just tastes, well, like the earth. The vibrantly-hued potatoes and peas provide a touch of natural sweetness, cilantro adds some grassiness and lemon brightens it all up like the sun.

It’s comforting, flavorful, and can pretty much be grown from your garden. Continue reading

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the best all-purpose yogurt sauce + a warm winter salad

sweet potato-carrot-apple cake with sweet chili cilantro yogurt sauce

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!

a warm winter 'leftovers' salad

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

really good falafel

really good falafel

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.

falafel

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

juicy, crisp & super sweet raw corn salad.

Sweet summer corn in its raw state is totally under-appreciated.

Chomping down on a freshly husked ear from the field across the street; your teeth bursting a mouthful of crispy kernels into sweet, milky juice that runs down your chin….

There’s something so rich and pure and earthy that I feel is lost when the ears are cooked.

SO. If you have not experienced the sensation that is sweet summer corn, fresh from the field and raw, try out this easy recipe for corn bhel, a sweet and tangy Indian street snack. Give your traditional boiled/baked/grilled corn-on-the-cob a break, and enjoy all the extra nutrients from the raw stuff!

I first had corn bhel at Chai Pani, an amaazing Indian street food-inspired restaurant in Asheville, NC (highly recommend it if you’re in the area!). It was love at first taste… love that quickly turned into addiction. How could such simple ingredients combine to create something so brightly flavorful and complex?

As expected, I’m pretty sure the flavor owes much to the “corn milk,” as I like to call it, which is plentiful and so rich and pure on an uncooked ear. Be sure to slice the kernels off as close to the cob as it allows, and then scrape again and again til you’ve milked the cob for all it’s worth.

MMM mmmm. Then spoon it onto a green salad, grilled fish or chicken, scoop it like salsa onto corn chips, serve it over a fried egg with salsa and black beans, provide as a healthy side dish, or eat it straight out of the serving bowl when you want to snack on something awesome. Did I mention it’s incredibly addicting……

Corn Bhel (sweet raw corn salad), inspired by Chai Pani’s dish

  • 2 ears sweet corn, raw + kernels sliced fresh off the cob
  • ‘corn milk’  (the juices from the cob, every last drop scraped off :)
  • 1  red or white onion, diced
  • 4 small-medium tomatoes, diced (this is just an estimate – I used what we had from the garden)
  • 1 handful cilantro, chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 t roasted coriander powder
  • 1/2 t cumin powder
  • salt + pepper to taste

Hold each ear of corn on its end and slice the kernels off with a knife. Then continue scraping the cob ’til you get every last drop of juice. Combine all ingredients together in a pretty bowl and let sit in the fridge for at least 1 hour to let the flavors meld into deliciousness. Eat.

enjoy :) –mich

This post is linked to Wellness Weekends and Healthy Vegan Fridays :)

How to love cilantro

I have to confess. growing up I always affiliated with the anti-cilantro party, much to my mother’s disapproval. It wasn’t my fault, I was told, as some people are just born with the cilantro-tastes-like-soap gene.

But then one mysterious day about two years ago, my taste buds did a 180. I didn’t gag when a cilantro leaf made its way across my tongue. It was an unfamiliar flavor, for sure, but… did I like it?

Turns out from then on I was a convert, my ideals finally aligned with my mother’s, and she could wholeheartedly love me once again. A happily ever after for me and cilantro, but I still owe it to him to make up for all those lost years. So here’s what I do:

1. Attempt to grow it, and if the squirrels dig through your pot to steal every last seed (really, squirrels?), then resort to the grocery store or farmer’s market.

2. Make this cilantro-lime pesto.

3. Put it on everything.

Continue reading