Cauliflower Cous Cous and Vegetables

Lightly adapted from the Nutritionista

I love making one food out of another, healthier food. Like making pasta out of vegetables, a pie crust out of quinoa or cous cous out of cauliflower.

Curry (6)

I actually hardly ever cook using cous cous. I’d rather use quinoa since it’s gluten free and healthier, but there is definitely something about the texture of cous cous that makes it pretty ideal for meals. That’s why I was thrilled to discover a cous cous recipe that didn’t call for cous cous at all. You can easily use cauliflower instead for an all-vegetarian and gluten free dish that is just. so. good.

Curry (1)

What You Need:

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1 orange pepper, chopped
  • 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt

What You Do:

Curry (4)

Gently pulse cauliflower in a food processor until it resembles a cous cous-like texture. If you don’t have a food processor, just finely chop the cauliflower with a sharp knife until it becomes very small pieces.

In a large bowl, mix the cauliflower with the remaining ingredients. Stir well and serve!

This makes a great side dish, and while it screams summer BBQ, it really works just fine any time of year with your favorite meat, as a filling for stuffed peppers (stay tuned for that recipe), or just mixed in with a salad. The lemon juice and oil make a nice dressing so you don’t have to add the extra calories. Put some avocado in with it and you’ve got yourself a fantastic meal!

Pro Tip: This is a great dish to play with as far as adding your favorite herbs. Add freshly chopped basil, oregano, mint or cilantro or even chopped walnuts or dates to give it some different flavor and texture!

Curry (7)

Advertisements

Sesame-Ginger Vegetable Quinoa Salad with Cranberries and Walnuts, Lemon-crusted Haddock and a Side Salad

Egretti (7)

For my third day of Five Days of Farmer’s Market Meals, I made a smorgasbord (kinda) in order to get a better handle on my overflowing crisper drawer.

But I succeeded in using a lot of vegetables, and everything went together pretty nicely in the end! This recipe makes for a delightful little summery meal, and it’s got a couple completely different ingredients in it that really give it a unique flavor.

You likely won’t be able to find the same exact stuff at your market, but I address that in the ingredients list.

The farmer’s market ingredients used in this meal are:

  • Agretti
  • Culinary celery
  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Cucumber
  • Scallions
  • Wild-caught local haddock from the fish guy

I’d like you to meet two of my new favorite veggies: Agretti and Culinary Celery

Egretti (1)     Egretti (3)

What is Agretti? Agretti is a Mediterranean water-retaining plant that looks like it should taste like grass but is actually DELICIOUS and can be used in basically anything, including raw in salads, omelets, or sprinkled over pasta (which is how I would have used it had I not just made pasta. Poor planning!)

Culinary Celery will blow your mind if you don’t like celery, but will especially blow your mind if you don’t like parsley. This awesome vegetable creation is a divine marriage of the two that tastes just perfect and doesn’t have that often overwhelming flavor you get with celery and/or parsley.

Agretti can be tough to find unless you know a farmer or market that grows Mediterranean-type veggies, but if you want to try and use something similar, people claim dandelion greens come close-ish.

As for culinary celery, I’ve never seen this before but you might ask around for it. Otherwise, adding a tiny bit of both celery and parsley together would be fine just to get that flavor.

ALSO – NEVER FEAR! This dish is perfect without either of these things! It’s the sesame-ginger sauce that really brings it all together 🙂

Egretti (5)

What You Need for the Quinoa Salad

  • 1 cup quinoa cooked according to package directions
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 cup finely chopped culinary celery
  • 1-2 cups roughly chopped agretti
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (I used Craisins)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup finely chopped cucumber

What You Need for the Sesame-Ginger Dressing

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar (or substitute with honey)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • pinch red pepper or chili flakes to taste

 

What You Need for the Lemon-Crusted Haddock

  • 2 meyer lemons, cut into slices
  • 1/4 cup shredded parm
  • 1/4 cup panko (or your favorite bread ground up in a food processor)
  • Haddock

Egretti (2)

What You Do

Add the shredded veggies and chopped walnuts and whole cranberries to the quinoa in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Add sesame dressing, mix well, and set aside in the refrigerator to chill for about an hour, if you can wait. This dish is good both hot and cold.

While the quinoa salad is chilling, sprinkle the haddock with fresh lemon.

Mix together the shredded parm and panko, and gently dip the lemon-doused haddock in to lightly cover the fish, or sprinkle the mixture over the fish if picking it up isn’t really an option.

Bake, grill or pan-fry the haddock until cooked. Serve alongside the quinoa salad with a mixed-green salad on the side if desired! I made a quick salad with leftover agretti, spinach leaves and chopped scallions.

Egretti (6)

 

 

Healthy Black Bean Power Brownies

I have an obsession, along with 103,000 other people (and that’s just on Facebook!) with Chocolate Covered Katie and her healthy dessert blog. This obsession is borne from a life-long addiction to desserts and internal struggle between cravings and being healthy. Sure, I exercise multiple times a week. I run long distances and get up early to squeeze in a workout before heading to the office.

But when I delve into a pint of Ben and Jerry’s at night following a heaping plate of dinner food, I hear that nagging voice in my head letting me know I’m probably undoing all the good I had done earlier.

The solution to this battle between desserts and being healthy is to combine the two. Healthy desserts. And that is exactly what Chocolate Covered Katie does on her blog. My latest indulgence is brought to you today in the form of chocolately, ooey-gooey brownies made with – wait for it – black beans.

Brownie 2

They’re only slightly tweaked from this recipe on Chocolate Covered Katie – she’s basically a genius so I can’t really improve upon what she’s done here. I omitted some sugar and added flax seeds and a couple options for the flour mix. No biggie.

Enjoy!

Preheat oven to 350 F

What You Need:

  • One 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup quick oats OR whole wheat flour OR gluten-free flour OR cooked quinoa
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup or honey
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp whole flax seeds (chia seeds or hemp seeds or any other seeds you like work here too)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips

Brownie

 

 

What You Do:

Put everything into a food processor EXCEPT the chocolate chips and flax seeds. Blend well, stir in the chips and seeds, and then pour the batter out into an 8X8 brownie pan.

Bake for about 18-20 minutes. Let cool well for about 10-15 minutes before serving.

 

 

 

Pro Tip: Substitute the oil for applesauce maybe? I didn’t try it this way but it’s worked for brownies and cookies I’ve made in the past. If you do this, let me know how it goes!

Brownie 3

Healthy and Easy Quinoa Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Peppers4

Well, life got in the way of cooking for awhile but I’m back! I’ve been training pretty hard for my 20 mile race (which was May 29), so our dinners were mostly pasta, pizza, tacos or pb&j, and about as simplified as possible so I could go to bed at a reasonable hour. But I’m happy to report I beat my 2013 finish by 12 minutes and ran it 40 seconds faster per mile. It was such a good feeling when I finished, especially because the weather was terrible all day – just super rainy and cold. What a relief to be done!

1606281_10101050435251241_747843892_o

Approaching the finish line!

I feel like I owe some of my success to a massive carbo-load the night before the race. I inhaled more bread and pretzel in one sitting than ever before and it was really fun! But I was craving a real, home-cooked and healthy meal by the time my body was done recovering from the race, so I made the best recipe I could think of to deliver on all those cravings with as minimal time on my feet in the kitchen as possible.

That’s how we ended up with quinoa stuffed poblano peppers. I love this dish because it’s really easy and always delicious, and poblanos have a great taste – sweet with a little spicy kick.

 

Peppers3

I used 4 medium-sized poblano peppers. One stuffed pepper is more than enough for a single serving meal – even for Mike – and the leftovers are just as tasty reheated a day (or two or three!) after.

Preheat oven to 375F

Peppers2

What You Need

  • Poblano peppers (any number you want/need)
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jar sun-dried tomatoes, drained of oil and chopped
  • 1 jar tomato sauce (I made my own tomato sauce using this recipe)
  • About 1 cup Parmesan cheese

What You Do

Slice off the stem end of the poblanos, being careful not to take off too much of the pepper itself. Empty out the insides and seeds using your fingers.

Place the poblanos on a sheetpan lined with parchment paper and bake them in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the skin starts to pinch. (Leave the oven on when the peppers are done – you need to bake them again at the same temperature once they’re stuffed)

While the peppers are baking, cook your quinoa according to package directions. I boiled 2 cups of water and added one cup of quinoa, and simmered, covered, until the water was gone. Obviously if you’re stuffing more than 4 peppers, you might want to make more quinoa.

While the quinoa is cooking, put a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and heat the onions, jalapeno and garlic for about 5 minutes or until the onions become translucent and soft.

Stir the onion mixture into the quinoa until combined. Peppers

In a large bowl, mix the sun-dried tomatoes with the tomato sauce.

Stuff your slightly baked peppers with the quinoa mixture. Lay extra quinoa on the bottom of the baking dish like a bed for the peppers. Place the stuffed peppers on their bed and cover with tomato sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Bake at 375F for about 20 minutes.

Serve with additional cheese on top if you want. I love my cheese!

 

Pro Tip: You can really stuff quite a bit of the quinoa mixture into these peppers! Gently tap the bottom end of the pepper on the palm of your hand or a dish to pack down the quinoa. Once you near the top of the pepper with stuffing, push the quinoa down with your spoon for more room.

Peppers5

 

Jasmine Rice and Cooked Vegetables = Super Fast Lunch Recipe

I made this dish during my lunch break when I was supposed to be walking Madison. So it teaches us two things:

  1. It is a super fast and easy dish
  2. I chose food over my dog this week

(To be fair, she did get to sit outside the entire time and never fear – I did walk her after work).

chutney (2)

I made the decision to turn my lunch break in a small cooking adventure because when I opened the fridge to forage for scraps in my frantic state of mid-work-day hunger, I found myself face to face with this:

chutney4

I do not know what it is about this mango chutney from our local Hannaford supermarket that I love so much, but I do love it. It’s sweet and fruity with a little spice, and goes so perfectly with rice that sometimes I forget there is more to a meal than rice and a heaping dollop of chutney.

So, between 12:15 and 1pm I made this super simple dish using Jasmine Rice (my personal fav type of rice) as the base and then literally any veggie that happened to be available in my fridge.

What You Need:

  • 1 cup Jasmine Rice
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • A bunch of random vegetables, chopped (this is completely at your discretion – anything goes! I used sweet potato that I put through the food processor, onions, red and green bell peppers and one jalapeno for some zing)
  • Any kind of chutney (although as you know I highly recommend mango)

What You Do:

Chop the veggies, and heat, covered, in an oiled pan slowly over low-medium heat.

While the veggies are cooking, make the rice. If you are not using Jasmine rice, follow the directions for whatever rice you’re using. If you choose Jasmine rice, boil the water and rice together, then lower the temperature to simmer, covered, until the water has cooked off.

Plop the rice on a plate, and cover with a heaping portion of veggies. Add some chutney on the side for dipping (also your choice – any sauce or spices will also suffice) and enjoy!

chutney (3)

Pro Tip: Add a protein like tofu or chicken to make it a complete dish!

A Lovely and Filling Kale Risotto

There are a few things I am sure of in this life: A good meal in a pinch does not have to require a trip to the grocery store; a Sunday-night meal plan will invariably improve your week; and sometimes you just NEED chocolate cake.

IMG_3616

One important fact about me is that I like to run (like actually LIKE  it), and one of the biggest reasons aside from the obvious health benefit is that it makes me feel more comfortable about eating all of the foods I love in quantities that might scare average people.

335077_961440997481_1251305287_o

2-pound lobstah

But with winter in New Hampshire being a stubborn thorn in my side, it was easy to fall into a rut of not running as much, and instead eating the chocolate/cookies/leftover pie ruthlessly decorating our office kitchen table.

BUT I have a 20 mile race coming up at the end of March, so I’ve been making a much larger effort to make a healthy dinner every night and bring the leftovers for lunch so I don’t have an excuse to buy food out. Saves money and calories!

IMG_3605 IMG_3606 IMG_3610

Last night’s dinner needed to produce enough food to make two lunches, and since I didn’t get to start cooking until 8pm (ugh) it needed to be fairly quick. By 8:30pm we had this kale risotto, which was indeed both lovely and filling.

What You Need:

  • 1 cup uncooked Arborio (Risotto) rice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 of a large, red onion OR a large shallot (I don’t always have a shallot on hand)
  • 5 cups vegetable broth (need some in a pinch? check out this post)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cups chopped kale (no stems – unless you like them!)

What You Do:

Heat a large wok or skillet at Medium to Medium-High and add the oil.

Add the chopped garlic and onion, and stir to coat evenly in oil.

Add the cup of Arborio rice and stir to mix.

One cup at a time, add the vegetable broth, stirring continuously between adding each cup. You want the broth to be at a low simmer in the skillet.

Once you’ve added the last cup of broth, add the kale. Stir to combine and lower the heat. Stir and cook until the kale reduces and cooks fully. Taste tests are always helpful! 🙂

Pro Tip: If you actually stir the Risotto the entire time, it will come out AMAZING. I don’t care if you have to hire someone to stand there and do it – I have made this dish so many times and when I finally ignored the mess and dishes and actually stirred it continuously, the end result was SO worth it.

Ready for Anything Homemade Vegetable Broth

Do you ever feel a little bad about all the vegetable scraps that pile up while you’re preparing a meal? Onion peels (are they called peels?), the tops/stems of peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, broccoli and squashes – it’s a crazy amount of food in the end that you aren’t using in the actual recipe!

I did eventually start a vermicycle compost bin, which is a HUGE help, but one thing I love to do with these veggie scraps is use them again for my own personal mealtime gain before feeding them to the compost worms.

This vegetable broth recipe is a super simple solution to that problem that basically produces an entirely new meal AND will help you feel less wasteful. A win-win!

photo 1 (3)

Store all of your vegetable scraps in the freezer in a gallon-size bag and simply continue adding to it each time you cook. Then, whenever you need vegetable broth for cooking, all you need to do is follow these easy steps and you’ll have at-the-ready homemade broth.

                photo 2 (3)                                                    photo 3 (1)

What You Do:

  1. Boil a large pot of water
  2. Put a good amount of the frozen veggies directly into the boiling water
  3. Boil down until the veggies are soft and the water is visibly broth-like. Add salt or pepper if desired.
  4. Drain the water through a strainer directly into another large pot and it’s ready!

Pro Tip: Eliminate a step and make your dinner prep easier by making the broth ahead of time and freezing it. Then you can just defrost and use! (This photo is not great but this is a half-gallon container and I filled two with just one pot. Win!)

photo 4 (1)