Because, BEETS!!!

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I’m having a moment.

Like, RIGHT NOW.

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Because I just took a bite of my lunch and my insides kind of exploded, it was so good. BEST LUNCH EVER! Okay. Not really, probably, but extremely delicious at this particular point in my life and too good not to share. Because, lunch. Which can unfortunately be extremely boring and sad, if not given the proper attention. I know for me it goes something like this: “going about my day lalala… shmaybe some jazzercise, oooh I think I’ll bake bread! And clean things! And OMG I’M STARVING how is it already noon?? Wander wander into the kitchen, yank open fridge and… ugh. Nothing exciting and I am too starving to seriously consider making something interesting. So… eggs. AGAIN. For the elevendy billionth time. Someone save me from the inevitable scrambled eggs!!!” And then no one does so I eat them anyway. Laaaaame.

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BUT!! Today. Today was different.

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Because there were BEETS in the fridge!!! And I looooove beets [Probably excessively. I have never met a beet salad I didn’t like]. Alas, no goat cheese… but that forced me to improvise with cute my beet-lets. And so. Have you ever shredded a beet with cheese grater?? It’s actually quite fun, they’re easier than carrots and don’t fly everywhere like zucchini. No, I don’t spend ALL of my time grating different vegetables. Just kind of… a lot of it, apparently, enough to make me an expert on inadvertant grated vegetable projectiles. Ahem. Moving on.

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This bowl.

A perfect balance of sweet, savory, chewy, crunchy, eggy, nutty, beety. What more could you want out of your normally marginalized midday meal? Give your lunch (and indirectly, yourself) some love and make it delicious. I promise it makes your day ten billion times better! But seriously. This is super fast, easy and delicious… AND full of whole foods just doin’ all kinds of fab things for your bod.

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Red Beet, Roasted Corn and Zucchini Hash, with Egg and Avo

A Wait.. Are those.. Cookies original! Straight from my brain box, don’t say I didn’t warn you. But seriously… make it! Gluten free, full of antioxidants, and vegetarian. Serves 1 [adapt amounts as needed! It’s ridiculously forgiving]. This could also be a really good breakfast, if you’re weird like me and crave veggies in the am. Super fast as well, provided you’re using precooked beets.

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  • 4 steamed and peeled beets, shredded on the large holes of a grater
  • 1/2 a large zucchini, shredded
  • small handful of fire roasted corn
  • small glug of good quality olive oil
  • 4-5 pecans, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 of a perfectly ripe avocado, cubed
  • salt+pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is warm, toss in shredded beets, zucchini, and corn. Sauté for a few minutes, until the veggies soften but are still just a bit crunchy. Season with salt and pepper, and toss in chopped pecans. Turn off heat and let sit for a second. Make your egg (simultaneously, in separate skillet if you’re a talented multitasker) however you like (I like a runny yolk for this but mine broke, so it cooked through. Wah). Top beet hash with egg, cubed avo, and more salt and pepper. Devour like no one’s watching, it’s that good! Or maybe I was just super in the mood for beets. Either way, enjoy your lunch!

Oh… one last thing. Obligatory New Year’s Day eating: cabbage with BACON (!!!), black eyed peas with BACON (!!!) and hot sauce. All my southern heritage in one bowl.

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Hello weekends, I LOVE you

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I still can’t get over this whole weekends off thing. I’ve had one whole weekend to do whatever I pleased and I wasn’t on vacation and no one was covering my shifts and I almost didn’t know what to do with myself for a hot second.

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But only a hot second. Because I realized that I could a) go to jazzercise, b) go to yoga, c) go to yoga AGAIN, d) go out to dinner to eat Moroccan food in the outer Richmond and cookies from the Castro with my boyfriend and parentals (yay!), e) hang out with a bestie, and f) make all kinds of delicious food, and g) do ALL OF THOSE THINGS ALL IN ONE WEEKEND!!! It was amazing. Really. And now I’m writing this. And eating delicious things. Ooohoooh and I got to read my novel too!! Secret nerd?! Nope. Not even. Mostly just nerd.

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omg egg.

But anyway. In the midst of being super excited for having two weekend days off in a row for reals and forever (for now), I made shashuka! Essentially eggs poached in marinara sauce, served over something grainy or whatever and sprinkled with a fine grating of cheese. Which is delicious and exciting since I’d never made it before… and also kind of sounds like a type of dance?? Don’t you think? Do the shashuka? Right? Okay. No. Just eat it, you won’t regret it for a second. I think this is going on my regular rotation of things to make since it’s relatively fast, I generally have everything on hand, and it’s comforting and saucy and delicious.

melting. cheese.

melting. cheese.

Also, I never want my dessert to end. I made banana bread with caramelized bananas and no refined sugar and stuff and then I cut a piece in half and smeared chocolate peanut butter and salted caramel ice cream and chocolate malt ice cream [sorry I’m not sorry, it’s the weekend] all over the inside and now I don’t want it to stop. I would try to slow down eating it but it’s just SO GOOD. Can’t stop won’t stop. After all that shashuka… mmm. Food. And weekends. Doesn’t get much better than that.

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And now my eyes are droopy and tired and I might actually go to bed. At 8. Because I can. Muahahaha!

shashuka in the sun!!

shashuka in the sun!!

Shashuka

Most likely serves 3-4, though you could use as many eggs as you want. I made a full serving of sauce but only enough eggs for me so that I could make fresh eggs when I want leftovers. Gluten free! Please excuse the sometimes rather vague measurements, I never measure when I make marinara. The recipe is my own! Shahuka obvs isn’t my idea, but besides poaching eggs in tomato sauce, I get credit for the flavors!

  • a hefty glug of olive oil
  • 2 hunks of frozen basil (or else a good handful of fresh)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • a few sprigs of fresh marjoram
  • medium sized glug of red wine
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • double handful of button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small zucchini, grated
  • three good handfuls of spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 can tomato sauce [strictly tomato, not marinara sauce that’s prepared]
  • 2 good spoonfuls of tomato paste, until your sauce is as thick as you like
  • 1/2 tsp coconut sugar
  • salt+pepper to taste
  • 3 eggs
  • grated parmesan, to serve

In a saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add in basil, garlic, and marjoram. Once the oil has heated a bit, add diced onions. Let them cook for a minute or two, then add wine. Let that cook over low while you chop up the rest of the veggies. Add in mushrooms and let them brown for about 4-5 minutes, then toss in grated zucchini and spinach. Let it all cook down for maybe 5 minutes, until the spinach is wilted. Add in tomato sauce and paste, and let the sauce simmer for at least 20 minutes. Season to taste as it’s cooking with salt and pepper, as well as the 1/2 tsp of coconut sugar (add more to taste if things are a little bitter up in these parts). Turn heat to medium low, and make three wells in the sauce with the back of a spoon. Crack an egg into each well, cover the pan, and cook for 5 ish minutes until the whites are cooked though (the idea is to have runny yolks—if that freaks you out then let them go a bit longer). Serve over a grain of choice, with grated parmesan sprinkled over the top.

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Midsummer Pepita Pesto Shenanigans

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Ugh, here we go again with large hiatuses (hiati-i?!) in between posts. I miss you, invisible internet friends! I do hope things are going swimmingly and that your summer is fab. Defs no complaints on this end, other than a lack of time to blog. Obvs.

But let’s rectify that!

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Because I have this AMAZINGGGG summer dish to share today! Last night was date night so I made dinner {and chocolate covered strawberries mmmmm} and then E and I went to see How to Train Your Dragon: 2 [there are no words. I sat there with a silly smile on my face for the entire movie, except when I was frowning in consternation at the screen, willing bad things not to happen. SO. GOOD.] aaannnd then it was late and dinner was forever ago and guess what?! I wanted ice cream. Shocking, I know…

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So then because I’m really like five years old, this happened. Sprinkles make everything taste that much better.

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But anyway. Back to the real food shenanigans because I’m pretty sure that’s why y’all are here, not to listen to my probably semi-obnoxious rambles about inner fiver year olds. I mean… if you are, though, I could go on… ha. Let’s not.

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This is the beyond perfect dish for when it’s stupid hot out and you are really dying for pasta for some reason. I don’t know, it could happen! But this recipe involves only one stove burner for only about a minute, so it’s a [nearly] heat free solution. And it’s FULL of fruit and veg so obviously is my favorite thing ever. AND you can put cheese on it. So um… obvi. Clearly this is a perfect dish.

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Top it off with some chocolate covered strawberries [extra dark chocolate+coconut oil melted…having dipping fun…let sit in the fridge for a bit] and you can just consider yourself in gastro heaven. Extra points for the addition of ice cream and a boyfriend who really like ice cream too and will therefore indulge you when you NEED IT NOW.

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Pepita Pesto with Zucchini Noodles and Peaches

Vegan [w/o cheese garnish], gluten free. Serves 2 comfortably, with pesto leftover. Light, perfect for summer and peach season (this is obviously best with fresh ones). Recipe lightly adapted from the Vibrant Table cookbook via Food Loves Writing, here! This was such a near-perfect recipe I felt little urge to change it up. Delicious, fast, and summery.

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  • 1 c raw, unsalted pepitas
  • 1/2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 scant tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 c packed fresh basil leaves
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 clove of garlic
  • 3 large zucchini (I used 1 large, 2 small for E and I)
  • 1 large organic peach, diced
  • fresh basil for garnish
  • grated parmesan

In a saute pan, heat coconut oil over medium heat. Once the pan is heated, toss in pepitas and sea salt and sauté until they start to smell a little toasty, 3-4 minutes (I don’t time them, I just go by smell; if they start popping, take them off the heat!). Pour them onto a plate and let them cool slightly.

Blend the pepitas in a food processor until they reach a consistency like almond meal, or like very small breadcrumbs. Blend in olive oil, basil, water, lemon juice, and garlic until combined. I like mine thicker and on the chunky side, but if you’d like yours to be thinner, blend in more olive oil or water. This will make more pesto than you need for two people—refrigerate the leftovers in a lidded glass jar in the fridge.

Using a spiralizer, turn the zucchini into noodles! (My favorite part, we’ve already established that I’m pretty much a five year old). If you don’t own a spiralizer (which I recommend getting, I LOVE mine), you can use a veggie peeler to shave off zucchini noodles instead. I steam my zucchini noodles for a few minutes until softened but still with a bite to them.

Toss hot noodles with several healthy spoonfuls of pesto, and stir in the diced peaches. I added salt and pepper to taste at this point as well. Serve with grated parmesan and fresh basil for garnish!

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Lemon+curd=heaven, Just sayin’ (even though this post is actually about chickpeas)

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I’d like to announce two things.

One. I very nearly almost just fell off my balance ball that I’m currently sitting on. As in, I got up and when I tried to sit down again it had rolled away. Luckily, since I am of superior intelligence (no comments please), I outwitted it and somehow managed to land back on the rolly round thing. HA.

Two. I think I ate my weight in lemon curd today. Ugh those scones are just SO GOOD and then the lemon curd is just SO GOOD ALSO and I just.can’t.stop. I mean, it would be such a shame to waste any, right??! Right. Lemon+curd=heaven. Just sayin.

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And three. Even though I only said two, too bad. Aerial yoga! It’s fun!! Just hangin’ out on a casual Tuesday night.

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But also.

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Chickpeas! Or alternatively garbanzo beans. Or whatever. Regardless, they’re delicious. And a hefty source of protein and fiber. Nothing to quibble over here, they’re clearly good for you. I’m absurdly obsessed with this lunch. Varying my diet? Ha. As if. I feel like I’ve eaten this for lunch the last several days in a row. Minus today, of course, when apparently I ate scones and lemon curd for lunch (reference above picture if you were at all confused about my devotion to anything that combines the words lemon and curd in the same sentence).

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But anyway. This makes a fab lunch or dinner, and can be thrown together in less time than it takes to actually eat it, which in my book is a plus when I return from yoga and needfoodnow. Also, this is one of those fabby dishes where you take whatever is lurking in your fridge, and voila, lunch! Love that. Almost as much as I love lemon curd and very nearly but not really falling off my balance ball.

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Chickpea Vegetable Sauté in Pumpkin Mustard Sauce

This recipe comes from my grey matter, and the depths of my fridge. Serves one, unless you mega increase ingredients. This is how I usually make it, with preferred ingredients, but feel free to substitute in whatever you have lurking about. Gluten free, dairy free, vegan, high protein, high fiber.

  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1/2 a zucchini, chopped
  • 4-5 button mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 good handfuls of greens (mine are usually chard+spinach+kale, or arugula)
  • a good glug of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 c chickpeas, if canned–drained and rinsed
  • 2 healthy spoonfuls of pumpkin puree
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a few squirts of stoneground mustard, to taste
  • sliced avocado for topping
  • chopped nuts for topping (I like cashews+walnuts)

Heat the glug of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Toss in celery, zucchini, mushrooms, and greens, and sauté them for a few minutes until the veggies begin to soften. Add chickpeas, pumpkin, and salt and pepper, and let cook until everything is heated through. Pour out in to a bowl, and stir in mustard. Top with avocado and chopped nuts! Diced cucumber is also good as a topper if you happen to have that around.

This makes great leftovers too, I’ve taken it for a work lunch more times than I can count.

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Nuts for texture

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My favorite part of Indian food is the dessert.

Once (not that long ago… ahem, possibly less than a month), my family went out for Indian food at this ridiculously delicious place in LA… and I was goaded encouraged to order dessert before dinner… and then a dessert for after dinner. And I thought, why not?! Because I always get so full with naan and curried goodness and end up eating dessert anyway, and then I can’t move for a week. Or maybe a few hours but it feels like a week.

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So this time I got smart!! A bowl of kheer to start the dinner… and a bowl to end it. A proper way to do things, if you ask me.

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Anyway. This isn’t exactly like the kheer you find in Indian places—it’s made with quinoa and rice milk rather than white rice and dairy (which obviously gives it a nutritional bump), but it’s close enough that I love it anyway. Give me some textural, lumpy puddingy thing and I’m totally sold. Seriously. I can’t stand mousse or regular pudding, but tapioca?! Oh yes. Rice pudding? In a heartbeat. Bread pudding? Bring it. You see? Nuts for texture.

Besides, this one is gluten free, refined sugar free, and full of protein! Why *wouldn’t* you eat this for dessert?! It’s perfect, provided you’re nuts for texture like me :) (or maybe just nuts, that’s a distinct possibility)

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Quinoa Kheer

Recipe adapted from A Brown Table, here! My fambam was in a pudding mood so it served three…
Gluten free, high protein, refined sugar free, and dairy free (if you sub in vegan butter)! What’s not to love?

  • 1.5 c cooked quinoa
  • 1 tbsp butter (mine is Kerrygold Irish butter, salted)
  • 4 dates, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 3 c unsweetened almond milk
  • 1.5 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • chopped pistachios for garnish

Melt butter over medium heat in a thick-bottomed saucepan. Add chopped dates and cardamom, and saute for just about a minute. Toss in quinoa, almond milk, coconut sugar, and honey, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, then reduce to a simmer. Let it simmer, uncovered, until the liquid has reduced significantly (you’ll be able to tell—it will become thicker, with a more puddingy consistency. It will still thicken as it cools, so I stopped mine when it was reduced by about a 1/3). Stir frequently as it simmers, as the milk will scald if left too long. Let cool at room temperature, then stick it into the fridge for another hour or two. Serve chilled with chopped pistachios!

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The perks of being a bulk squirrel

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Hiya!

It’s Sunday. I just came from a fab yoga class and now my joints feel all nice and stretchy and I also feel like there is a hole in my stomach. Mid-morning yoga always makes me SO FREAKING HUNGRY! Oi. But I’m currently placating it with a large bowl of sweet potato-egg-kale-avocado-salsa-ketchup (don’t judge) goodness sooo… things are headed in the right direction.

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And last night I made this!

YAY! for amaranth and lentils.

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If I had an alter ego it would probably be a legume….

This is an easy one pot dish that is ready in under an hour, so it makes for delicious weeknight (or busy night) meals. Additionally, if you’re like me, it’s composed mostly of bulk staples so if you’re a bulk squirrel like me, you likely already have everything. It’s also really adaptable. Don’t have spinach? Use some other leafy green thing. Hate peas? No probs, leave them out or put something else in instead.

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Besides being fast and easy, legumes + amaranth are super protein! Sort of like Super Legume Girl, or whatever my alter ego would be. Pair some super-protein with some free-radical bashing antioxidants from the veggies and all kinds of good minerals and amino acids from the amaranth, and you’ve got one nutritional powerhouse disguised as a delicious dinner.

Serve it for your next weeknight dinner and… BOOM SHAKA LAKA! Tell those free radicals they are NOT invited to your parties!

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Lentil and Amaranth Stew

Recipe adapted from Food Recipes HQ, here! I got a yield of dinner for three, plus leftovers for two.

  • 1 c amaranth
  • 1/2 c green lentils
  • 3 massive carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 garlic clove (1 clove if you like more garlic)
  • 1 carton of veggie broth (1 quart, about 4 cups), divided
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 c raw spinach
  • 2 c green peas, defrosted if frozen
  • 1/4 c nutritional yeast
  • small splash of Bragg’s liquid aminos, coconut aminos, or soy sauce (low sodium)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • chopped cashews, pepitas, and sliced avocado for serving

Heat a large pot over medium high heat (I used a large soup pot for this so I had lots of room for the raw spinach to wilt down). Add amaranth and toast for about 4 minutes, or until you can smell it toasting (it will have a slightly nutty smell to it). Add in lentils, carrots, two cups of broth, garlic, and olive oil. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for about 30-40 minutes, adding more broth as needed (the amaranth will start to thicken and absorb the liquid as it cooks). Once you hit the 35-40 minute mark, stir in bell pepper, spinach, peas, nutritional yeast, bragg’s, salt and pepper. Continue to cook for about 10 minutes more, until the spinach is completely wilted and the stew is heated through. Adjust seasoning to taste, and serve hot! The amaranth will thicken considerably as it cools—I like it thick, but feel free to thin it out with more broth when reheating for leftovers. Top with cashews and avo!

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Soup is just an excuse for bread, don’t try to deny it!

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Soooooop.

And bread.

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Because obviously you can’t have soup without some bready, carby side dish. We all know that soup is really an excuse for bread, let’s be real here.

But mmmmm, soup. I do love it (but I DO NOT love photographing it. Ugh). ESPECIALLY now that I have this fabby immersion blender!! Which means that I can dispense with all that silliness of attempting to blend soup in a food processor (no, I don’t own a normal blender), which is a dumb idea as a) soup is hot. Hot things expand and b) food processors aren’t watertight (rude). So instead of soup going slightly all over the counter, now I can just bust out the trusty immersion blender, stick it in the pot of soup buzz buzz buzz and low and behold!! Creamy soup, no mess required. Genius.

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Also. I bought a spiralizer. Possibly the BEST decision I have ever made. And also possibly the most fun kitchen utensil ever created.

See?

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Reeeeealllyyyy looooooong zucchini noodles! So much fun to play with. Obviously avoided if you do the smart thing and cut the zucchini in half first, but why spoil your fun? Incredibly long noodles are so much more entertaining. And delicious, especially when you top them with bison pasta sauce and other delicious things. Unfortunately, it was slightly too delicious and there went that before I managed to take a picture of anything besides the noodles. Whoops! Next time.

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Anyway. Let’s get seasonal! Hellooooo autumn, you’re my favorite. The day I made this, I ate three sources of beta carotene in one day. No eye problems for me!
This soup is very easy, comes together in a snap, and is (naturally) delicious. The muffins are awesome too, likewise easy and delicious. In fact, if you time it right, you can bake them while the squash is simmering, then blend your soup and have everything hot at the same time. Wheee!

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Ginger-Coconut Butternut Squash Soup

Serves 4, with leftovers. Recipe inspired by Whole Foods, here! Gluten free, can be vegan with veggie broth.

  • a generous drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and diced (yield: 4 c diced)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 2 persian cucumbers, diced
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated or diced
  • 3.5 c veggie or chicken broth
  • 1/2 c light coconut milk (out of the can)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • pepper to taste
  • pepitas, for garnish!

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Toss in onion, carrot, and cucumbers, and let cook until the onion is translucent (about 5ish minutes). Add ginger, let cook a few minutes more. Finally, add stock, squash, coconut milk, sea salt, and pepper, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let cook, covered, until the squash is fork-tender (about 30 minutes). Once squash is soft, use an immersion blender to puree soup to desired consistency. An upright blender is fine too, just make sure the soup is cool enough.
Garnish with pepitas just before serving!

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Pumpkin Cornmeal Muffins

My yield was 10, in my so-called ‘jumbo’ muffin tins. I never fill them all the way, but these muffins came out a totally normal size. High in vitamin A, low fat, refined sugar free, and whole grain! Recipe adapted from Running to the Kitchen, here!

  • 1 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 c cornmeal
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 3 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 c lowfat plain yogurt
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted (I use Kerrygold Irish butter)
  • 1 c pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 375, and lightly grease muffin tins (I use coconut oil).

Whisk together whole wheat pastry flour, cornmeal, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and coconut sugar. In a smaller bowl, whisk together egg, almond milk, yogurt, melted butter and pumpkin puree. Combine wet into dry, mixing just to combine. Pour batter into the prepared pan, and bake for about 15 minutes (a tester should come out clean, and the tops should be slightly browned). Let cool for a few before turning out onto a cooling rack.
I’m sure these keep well, but ours didn’t last that long!

A lentil and squashlet autumnal party

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You can never have too many lentils.

Ever.

My nickname at work is lentil. That explains a lot.

Besides, lentils are bomb since they give you a protein source to pair with all of the autumnal squashlets (no, auto correct, squashlet IS in fact a word, so there). Wheeeee SQUASH! Not only did I use pumpkin yesterday, but I also got to bust out a (homegrown!) butternut squash! Get ready, there’s going to be an abundance of orange coming in the next few months…

I love that squash coincides with my birthday. It feels like nature’s birthday present!! Large, orangey deliciousness.

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Butternut squash always reminds me of a particularly memorable game of Cranium that took place ohhh, probably sometime in high school… my pair was supposed to be acting out butternut squash, and it was maybe one of the more hilarious things I’ve watched: First word: sounds like…*points at butt*… second bit: *mimes being a squirrel burying something*… lastly and rather violently smooshes hands together—-I had been guessing as she was miming and somehow I guessed it!! Excellent mime skills right there. But anyway… I can’t really cook a squash without thinking about that, hehe.

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Skillet Popped Balsamic Lentils

Recipe adapted from Happy Healthy Life, here! I made one cup of lentils, which, supplemented with all the veggies, fed my fambam of 3 with enough leftovers for at about one meal. My butternut squash was small, so it only made enough puree for 3. Feel free to play with the seasoning—mine was an eclectic bunch of flavors that somehow came out tasting good. Funny how that works, isn’t it?!

  • 1 c green lentils, rinsed
  • 2 c water
  • 3-4 tsp good quality balsamic vinegar, divided
  • a few grinds of cracked pepper
  • judicious sprinkles of salt
  • 1 butternut squash, cubed
  • a tbsp or two of milk beverage
  • 1 tsp butter (or vegan butter)
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 4-5 mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 massive handfuls of spinach, rinsed
  • a bit of chicken (or veggie) broth
  • a good glug of olive oil
  • seasoning to taste*

*I used fresh marjoram, basil, and oregano to sauté the onion, then added cinnamon, cardamom, nutritional yeast and coconut aminos (and more balsamic) to the veggies after I added them in to sauté.

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For the lentils:
Add 2 cups of water to a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Add lentils, reduce heat, and simmer until the lentils are done (about 30 minutes). They should be soft but still have some bite to them. Rinse and drain.

Heat a skillet over medium, and add a small bit of olive oil. Once the skillet is hot, add about a cup of lentils, shaking the pan to ensure that they’re evenly spaced. They should sizzle and pop and make all kinds of fun noise. Let them sit for a few minutes, then toss in a tsp of balsamic and a bit of salt and pepper. Stir occasionally. You’ll know they’re done when they get a bit toasty and crispy around the edges. Remove the first batch, add more oil, and repeat until all the lentils are used.

For the butternut puree: Peel and dice squash, discarding stringy and seedy inner bits. Using a steamer basket or your preferred method of steaming, cook squash until very fork tender. Remove from the steamer and mash with a potato masher or a fork (or a food processor, but I didn’t want to do extra dishes). Add a bit of milk beverage (I used unsweetened almond) to smooth it out, and (obviously) a bit of butter and salt.

For the veggies, I did a simple sauté with a bit of chicken stock added. Chop and dice all yo’ veggies, add olive oil to a deep skillet, and let it heat over medium. Once hot, add onions and sauté until translucent. Add cinnamon and cardamom and a bit more olive oil, then the rest of the veggies (zucchini, pepper, mushrooms, and spinach. I added a bit of broth after about 4 minutes of sautéing, then chucked in all the spinach and covered the skillet to let it reduce. Add coconut aminos, nutritional yeast, Bragg’s, or whatever other seasonings you like here, add lentils, and let it cook on low for a few. Serve warm, over butternut squash puree!

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Apparently I love veggies. Who knew?!

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Stuffing things is fun!

It’s somehow very rewarding to encapsulate your dinner into a tidy little package. Or into a pepper, whatever. And it’s even better when there’s cornbread involved because seriously, when does cornbread NOT make things better?! Right, never, that’s what I thought.

But ick. Why do I always end up making things like this when it’s disgustingly hot outside? It’s like I’m hardwired to automatically want things that require baking as soon as it gets above 90. Because heating your oven to 425 on a day when it’s still over ninety after 5 pm is SUCH a great idea… not. I just love opening the oven door to be subjected to a massive blast of heat… not to mention sticking my face anywhere near it to check and see if things are done.

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Ughhhh. Is it fall yet? Because I have an abundance of winter squashes that snuck into our garden and I need to use them. And they usually rudely require ovens. Or at least sometimes. But it’s also too hot for soup and I sadly don’t have an immersion blender (anyone have an extra they want to chuck my way? Anyone? Anyone? … Bueller?) which makes soup making messy.

Okay. Enough whining because I can’t do anything about the weather and these stuffed peppers were delicious!! Easy and healthy too, so obviously they should go at the top of your to-make list immediately. Maybe just wait until it’s not ninety in the shade…

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Apparently I love veggies. Who knew?! I “discovered” this after I chopped up a metric ton very meticulously… there was a massive pile of greens in there too (natch) that didn’t make it into the picture (sneaky little suckers).

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Bean and Green Stuffed Peppers with Cornbread

Serves 3, with leftover bean/green mixture and cornbread (mostly because I looooove leftovers). Recipe from… the inside of my slightly disorderly brain! The cornbread is my favorite recipe—SO FREAKING GOOD. A little crumbly but properly hydrated (we know how I hate the ‘m’ word), and slightly sweet. So delicious combined with the beans and greens, and crammed inside a pepper. Vegan, full o’ veggies, refined sugar free, and whole grain. Wheeee!

For beans+greens:

  • 3 largeish bell peppers, de-seeded
  • 1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3-4 c mixed greens (I used spinach, chard, kale)
  • 1 zucchini, finely diced
  • bell pepper remnants from around the stems (waste not, want not!)
  • a handful of mushrooms, finely diced
  • a pinch of nutritional yeast
  • ~1 tbsp tahini
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil

For cornbread [lightly adapted from this bomb recipe, at Eat Well, Party Hard, here!] [refined sugar free, vegan]

  • 1 c cornmeal*
  • 1 c whole wheat pastry flour*
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flax+6 tbsp water)*
  • 1/4 c coconut oil, melted*
  • 1/6 c maple syrup (1/4 if you like a sweeter bread)*
  • 1 c non-dairy milk (I use rice milk usually)*

*Always organic!

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For the peppers, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, drop in peppers and cook until they’re soft, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from water and place in a casserole dish, and set aside.

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For the cornbread: Make flax eggs and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. In a smaller bowl, combine melted coconut oil, maple syrup, and rice milk. Add wet into dry, stir in flax eggs, and mix until just combined. Set batter aside temporarily.

Preheat oven to 425.

In a largeish sauté pan, heat a glug of olive oil over medium, and add diced zucchini, bell pepper remnants, and mushrooms. Sauté for a few minutes, then add greens and continue to let them cook (you may need to cover the pan to let the greens reduce in size a bit). Add more olive oil if needed. Stir in both types of beans, then nutritional yeast, tahini, and salt and pepper to taste. Let cook over low for 5-10 minutes, enough to let the oven finish preheating.

Fill the cooked peppers about 3/4 of the way with the bean mixture, then top with a layer of cornbread batter.  I had leftover cornbread batter, so I baked it separately into my two 6″ cake pans. Use whatever pan you have on hand, or else bake it on top of the remaining beans (sans peppers). I let my peppers go for 17 minutes, until a tester came out clean from the cornbread layer. The cornbread usually bakes for 15 minutes in a dark pan, but these went a bit shorter as they were smaller volume. Test as you go! Mine took about 10-15 minutes total, as I put them in with the peppers at first.

Serve hot!

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All the lentils, all the time

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Soo… mo’ lentils!

Mmm. For such a tiny little thing they pack a nutritional wallop and are astoundingly delicious.

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In other news… I love when I can walk outside and pick a snack out of my garden.

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And that the crepe myrtle in the front yard is practically exploding. When I was in school it seemed like I would always miss the blooms, but this year it’s making up for it in full force. See? Pink explosion.

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Anyway. OH! I almost forgot. Pluots are amazing right now, you should go eat one.

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Right. Lentil pasta. An excellent idea, not sure why I hadn’t thought to do this before. The sauce texture kind of resembles bolognese but is obviously meat-free, which is a nice alternative and just as delicious. Besides, lentils are cheap and filling and super good for you, so everyone wins! Besides all that there is essentially a metric ton of veggies crammed in here, so you can feel reeeeally good about eating it. Winner, winner, lentil dinner! Ha.

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I don’t think my brain is working too well on account of a really filling and tasty lunch (nap time? I think yes) soooo… I’m going to leave it at that. Pictures for you, hooray!

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Lentil Marinara

Recipe serves 3 for dinner, with bountiful leftovers (so really 4 for dinner with some change). Healthy and delicious, and relatively fast, this can be on the table in less than an hour.

  • 1 c  lentils, rinsed (I used French lentils, they’re smaller and chewier)
  • 2 c water
  • 1 onion, diced
  • a good glug of olive oil
  • 1/2 clove garlic (I used 1/2 of the little frozen chunks TJ’s sells)
  • fresh basil, marjoram, oregano and sage to taste (Dried is fine too)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/6 c (ish) good red wine (Optional. I never measure)
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • a few heaping handfuls of mixed greens or spinach
  • 1/2 zucchini, grated
  • 2 c green beans, parboiled
  • 1 can of tomato sauce (just tomatoes)
  • pasta noodles of choice for serving
  • avocado for serving, optional (but recommended!)

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Combine lentils and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let cook until the lentils have absorbed most of the water and are soft but still have a bit of bite, about 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a  sauté pan, toss in a bit of olive oil and heat over medium-low. Sauté onions until translucent, about 5-10 minutes depending on your onion-crunchy preference. Add garlic, basil, marjoram, oregano, sage, and wine and sauté a few minutes more. Add in bell pepper, mixed greens, zucchini, and green beans, and keep sautéing, until the veggies are cooked and delicious. Toss in the can of tomato sauce, salt and pepper to taste, and the cooked lentils. Cover and let simmer for about 15 minutes to get all those wonderful flavors to comingle… then serve over noodles! This is excellent topped with avocado, or cheese if that’s your thing!

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