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 in-between season bowl

sweet potato + sausage hash over greens with a fried egg + avo crema

My food cravings are all about cold, fresh salads + smoothies in the summer, and warming, comforting stews in the winter. But what about these in-between days, when it’s 45 degrees at 7am but going to be a high of 81 a few hours later? That’s where this in-between season bowl comes in… and it couldn’t hit the spot better.

A bed of raw chopped baby greens piled with a warm sweet potato, rosemary, caramelized onion + sausage hash, a fried egg, cooling avocado crema and zesty salsa verde. It’s one half raw, fresh and light; one half warm, hearty and comforting. For confused cravings on these in-between season days. And in Austin, apparently, these days (before the full-on blazing heat) are few. Continue reading

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

Cajun oven fries!

crispy Cajun oven fries

I am about to write a post that came about from a trip to Five Guys and Subway. Never in envisioning my ‘healthy cooking blog’ did I think something like this would come up. But inspiration finds you in unexpected places, I suppose.

So here we were, my boyfriend and I waiting out the thunderstorm in a (particularly awesome) tavern before a great night of baseball: the Nationals vs. Orioles at the Nats stadium in DC. I had the thought of maybe grabbing a sandwich at Subway across the street rather than paying $12 for a greasy something-or-other in the stadium. Forrest was in, although he decided to go all in at the Five Guys next door. I admitted to him that I did love their fries—way back when I ate hamburgers—so he promised to share with me all the little fries I desired, as they stuff an entire brown bag full of them. What a treat!

The fries – their cajun seasoned ones which I had never tried – were greasy but delicious, with a much more ‘homemade’ taste than any other fast food fries I’ve had. And the cajun seasoning was just meant to be with them. I knew I’d be cooking up a healthier version as soon as I got home.

And that was that. Inspiration for my next recipe came to me from a greasy burger joint outside a ballpark. Although I love cooking and eating foods that are inherently healthy (kale salads, lentil stew, etc..) there is a great satisfaction that comes from ‘healthifying’ something that’s typically not so great for you. So here are some oven baked fries, smothered in Cajun goodness, thick and tender and crispy enough to rival any fast food joint.

Nats v Orioles, photo by Forrest

crispy Cajun oven fries

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Roasted sweet potato + black bean salad

A little sweet, a little zesty, a whole lot of nutrients.

This salad is good.

And good for you.

….There’s not much else to say.

But really, I could eat roasted sweet potatoes by the bucketful, and when you toss them with some black beans, red onion, cilantro, pepitas, and a zesty lime dressing, you get a hearty and healthy salad 13 notches above those plain roasted taters. Is that even possible? I’d say yes, but you’ll have to try it out and let your own taste buds decide.

I made this for the C of C Clean Eats potluck, a newly formed club at our school based on the Slow Food Charleston Chapter.

“Slow food aims to be everything fast food is not.”

The movement supports food and farming policy that is good for the public, good for the planet, and good for farmers and workers. We were asked to bring a dish made with local ingredients if possible, and to write the recipe down so we can compile a “Clean Eats Cookbook”! We had a delicious and nutritious variety of foods to sample, like roasted brussels sprouts with cherries and walnuts, local shrimp and avocado salad, and sweet potatoes with a yummy cinnamon yogurt sauce. It was great to get together with others who share the passion for good, clean eating, and to brainstorm events to get the campus community aware and involved in this movement.

So here’s my contribution, which I found much too tasty not to include on this blog!

Roasted sweet potato + black bean salad, inspired by this

  • 2 or 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled + cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1 1/2 cups black beans, or 1 can drained + rinsed
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup raw shelled pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 450 F. Toss cubed sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt + cumin and spread on foil-lined baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes, flip/toss with metal spatula, and roast 10-15 minutes more, until tender and edges begin to brown. Add warm potatoes to a bowl with beans, onion, and chopped cilantro. Toss with zesty lime dressing (below) and top with toasted pumpkin seeds (toast in a dry skillet for 3-5 minutes) and salty cheese like feta or cotija if desired.

Lime dressing:

  • zest of 1 lime
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1/4 t cayenne pepper
  • dash of sea salt + black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 t agave nectar

Combine all ingredients in a blender and toss gently with salad. You probably won’t need all of the dressing. Serve this salad as a side dish or over a bed of greens for a nutritious meal!

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curried sweet potato-carrot-apple cakes

Two years ago on Christmas morning, my sister Tara threw together these “pancakes,” which were more like a sweet and zesty stir-fry-hash-mixture of shredded carrot, apple, sweet potato, egg, curry powder, cinnamon and cumin. They didn’t quite stay bound in cake form as planned, but I could care less as I shoved forkfuls in my mouth and declared I would eat this every day of the year.

Unfortunately my hatred of shredding vegetables by hand kept me from making this 6+ times per week, but the few times I did reminded me that this combination is just deliciously worth it. The Indian flavors of curry, cumin and garam masala add savory heat to the sweet apple, potato and carrot. This time around I added a bit of chickpea flour to bind the batter together enough to form solid pancakes on the griddle. ‘Twas a success, but I must say the mixture is just as tasty in stir-fried-hash form. The key to this dish, I repeat the KEY to breakfast bliss, is serving your cakes with a dollop of sweet chili sauce, perhaps a squirt of sriracha mixed in.

Curried sweet potato-carrot-apple cakes, inspired by Tara, recipe by me

  • 3 cups shredded sweet potatoes, carrots + apples, in any ratio you prefer. I do about 1 cup carrot, 1 ½ sweet potato and ½ apple
  • 1 or 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup egg whites, or 1 egg
  • 1 T milk (I use vanilla soy)
  • ½ cup chickpea flour (any flour will do)
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t curry powder
  • 1 t cumin
  • ½ t garam masala, or cinnamon
  • 1 t sea salt
  • sweet chili sauce + sriracha to serve

Peel and coarsely grate sweet potato, carrot and apple until you have 3 cups, in any ratio you prefer. Set aside in a colander or bowl on some paper towels to drain.

Combine flour, baking powder, spices and salt in medium bowl and whisk to combine. Mix in egg whites and milk. Squeeze excess juice from potato-apple-carrot mixture (I recommend saving the juice because it’s a sweet and nutritious combination!) and add mixture to bowl with the flour-egg mixture. Add scallions and stir to combine. Batter should be moist but not runny. If too stiff, add a tablespoon or so of milk until consistency is right.

Spray a nonstick skillet with oil and heat over medium-high. Drop heaping spoonfuls or 1/8 cup of pancake mixture in skillet and flatten with back of spatula. Cook each side about 3-4 minutes or until golden brown and slightly crispy. Serve immediately with sweet chili sauce and sriracha. You may store unused batter in a container in the fridge for several days to use whenever you please!

*Alternatively, leave out flour and stir fry as a breakfast hash.

Pancakes (above) versus a big pile of potato-apple-carrot hash (below). A perfect breakfast or brunch!

Enjoy! –mich

This recipe is shared at My Meatless Mondays, & Fresh Bites Fridays

A holiday recap

The winter holidays at our house always revolve around food, whether we want them to or not. It’s always been a time to indulge – a time to make the Christmas cookies everyone’s waited for all year, a time for big healthy breakfasts and hearty, planned-out dinners. And as much as we all complain about the constant eating and having too much stuffed into the refrigerator, we all look forward to the lazy days of whipping up our favorite traditional recipes and new ones we’re eager to try.

This year we surpassed our typical homemade deliciousness with all kinds of handmade gifts. I don’t know what it was, maybe the our obsession with pinterest over the past year and all the inspiring ideas it presents. So we brought on the creativity and went wild with homemade gifts – or I did at least!

Tara worked on her laser-cut jewelry (which she has been selling lots of!), and made some adorable wooden painted wall hangers for air plants, which unfortunately I don’t have a photo of. Melissa and I spent a few days straight making t-shirt scarves inspired from pinterest, and she also made some adorable holiday-themed cake pops! I took on a hanging-plant-in-a-canning-jar project, created a bread baking book from scratch for my sister Tara (with many tasty sounding bread recipes I’ve collected around the blog world), made a couple photo calendars for family, and baked cookies and nuts and granola to package up all festively for gifts. Jamie made some beautiful (and so easy!) etched wine and drinking glasses, and Jeremy gave my parents some of his homemade “honey badger hard cider” and beautiful handmade maple wood cutting boards for several of us. Whew. That’s a lot of handmade goods, lots of time, and lots of love. It may be our most crafty Christmas yet!

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