the bowl.

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

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chili on a chilly night

Simple solution to a chilly-November-home-alone kind of night: go to Trader Joe’s, pick up some veggies and beans, make chili, cuddle up on the couch in your pj’s and a blanket and let the Christmas movie marathoning begin! This was me on the night I returned to my apartment after Thanksgiving break. I had this chili on my list of recipes to make for a while and mmmm… why did I wait this long to try it?! So simple, hearty, flavorful, just the right amount of heat (as in pretty spicy if you don’t like spice), and did I mention delicious?!

Don’t make the mistake I did and put this on your list of recipes to try, only to actually cook it a year later. Do it now!

turkey & kale chili, from here

  • olive oil
  • 1 pound 93% lean ground turkey
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1 1/2 T cumin
  • 2 t dried oregano
  • 2 t salt
  • 1 t pepper
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels (I like super sweet white corn)
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken or turkey broth
  • 1 small bunch lacinato kale, tough stems removed and roughly chopped Continue reading

Thankful for this

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving!

It was hard to come back to school knowing I only have a week left of classes. Sitting on the cozy couch with my puppies and baking Christmas cookies for the next month instead of going back to work was ooh so tempting….

But we did in fact begin the cookie baking while everyone was home—starting off with mom’s famous peanut butter balls. They’re usually the first to be made, and always the first to go.. sadly. Which is why we almost always end up making another batch closer to Christmas! (hey, we give plates upon plates of cookies away, and there would be some major disappointment if someone received a plate with missing peanut butter balls.)

Thanksgiving day was beautiful at home in Maryland—definitely not as cold as I was anticipating! We met up with mom’s neighborhood walking group along with some of my friends on a beautiful quiet country road for a nice Thanksgiving morning, pre-turkey run/walk. What a refreshing morning it was, and twenty-something people came out!

After that dad put us to work in the yard gathering leaves, chopping wood, and all the winter-preparation work he hasn’t been able to do. Then it was time to relax and cook the feast! We had possibly our smallest Thanksgiving ever, with just the sisters, mom, dad, Jeremy, and our two non-related family members, Melissa and Steve! Steve surprised us all with his gorgeous wild-rice and mushroom stuffed squash picked from his farm, and Melissa made a delicious side of sautéed kale, green beans and mushrooms. Tara wanted to try out her bread-making skills with a whole wheat country loaf. It turned out a little flat but almost had the consistency of ciabatta—I loved it! Mom brined and cooked the turkey and whipped up some mashed white + sweet potatoes and everyone’s favorite cornbread-cranberry-sausage herbed stuffing (which there were not enough leftovers of!). It was a fantastic meal and I was just perfectly stuffed, therefore had room to enjoy my vegan frozen pumpkin mousse pie! Yum. Writing about this makes me want to eat it allll over again.

Continue reading

healthy comfort meals for fall

This fall weather has me craving warm, comforting dishes, as you saw when I posted this kale sauté. Trying out new dishes only has me craving more, so I wanted to share a few ideas I’ve tried for quick, warm meals. I made polenta for the first time about a week ago and have fallen in love. It’s so comforting and tastes great with everything! Just add some cooked veggies or top with stew or chili for a wonderful cozy meal…..

The basic polenta recipe I’ve been using and find to work well is this:

½ cup polenta / yellow corn grits

2 cups vegetable broth

¼ t salt

1 T olive oil

Bring vegetable broth and salt to a boil in a pot. Add oil. Lower heat to simmer. Add the polenta in a slow steady stream, stirring constantly with a whisk. Whisk for about 5 minutes, until polenta is thickened. Keeping heat low, cover and let cook for 20 more minutes or so, stirring occasionally.

*I halved the recipe I found, so feel free to use 1 cup polenta and double the other ingredients for a larger batch.

Now you’ve got soft, creamy polenta to use as a base for anything! The vegetable broth is definitely what makes it so flavorful. I have yet to let the polenta firm up and bake or sauté it, but I can imagine it’s just as yummy.

Here (above) I had a hearty brunch of polenta, eggs scrambled with peppers, onions and kale, pico de gallo and feta cheese. I know it’s hard to see the polenta with all the yummy stuff on top!

And here I made a super simple lentil chili which I served over leftover polenta. I used this WholeFoods recipe for the chili and added some leafy kale. Continue reading

fall sauté

I’ve been eating this all week.

Or maybe every meal of every day of this week would be more accurate. Any way these ingredients come together—whether as a raw salad, a veggie-egg scramble, or a warm sauté served on a bed of quinoa—they make for a comforting, filling, and most importantly, healthy meal.

Let me explain to you how this goes: I chopped up a big bunch of kale with some onion, sweet peppers and carrots, and kept it in a bowl in the fridge. For breakfast I’d make an egg scramble with the veggies and beans, and top it with salsa. For lunch I’d have a big hearty kale salad with either more beans or shredded chicken, drenched in this lemon-tahini dressing. And for dinner I’d sauté the mixture in chicken broth with garlic, sliced apple and white beans, served on a bed of quinoa or brown rice and drizzled with more tahini sauce.

A pretty versatile meal, huh? The combination of textures and flavors makes it deliciously satisfying, and the protein and fiber make it filling. And I don’t think anything makes me feel healthier than eating a big bowl of kale. It’s a win-win-win-win.

All this was inspired by a salad my sister Tara made this summer with kale from mom’s garden…. the very moment I fell in love with kale. I knew I had liked it cooked, in soups and such, but I’d never tried it raw! I imagined it being tough and more bitter or pungent than other greens—which is exactly what I love about it. No it wasn’t my typical spring mix salad, but it was earthy and hearty and filling. Tara’s salad was pretty basic if I remember: a mixture of chopped kale, peppers, white beans, maybe onions, olive oil and lemon juice and a crank of black peppercorns.

So I found myself at the market with a big bunch of kale, remembering and wanting to recreate this delicious salad. And then it got cold….. therefore this warm sauté was born, accompanied by a mixture of brown rice and quinoa and a lemon-tahini dressing I’d been wanting to try.

So. Here I am today, just home from the market where I stocked up on more kale, and still enjoying every bite of this healthy, hearty meal in its various forms.

That is the story of my week.

for the sauté: Continue reading