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Still feeling like I need soups over salads while it has been chilly lately. Kinda burned out on stews and the slow cooker for awhile, but, the delicate Japanese broth known as miso has been so good for a quick meal.

I’m not crazy about how salty the packets are, but, you can always dilute them with more water, which is what I have been doing. Probably using double the amount of water that the directions recommend. Then, depending how I feel, I’ll add some quick cooking noodles right into the broth (in this case udon) while it’s boiling and whatever vegetables I have on hand. I have REALLY been feeling the bok choy lately. Plus, it comes in all different sizes, so you can make it work in any dish. And 100g of bok choy is only 13 calories! Lots of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins A & C and potassium.

Occasionally I will throw in some curry paste because I like spicy food. Finally added in some firm tofu. Probably takes 10-15 minutes altogether to prep and cook. Calorie load is minimal, satisfaction quotient very high.

 

IMG_5940That is the question. Well, not really, but I need a loose recipe goal in mind sometimes, so that’s where I’m at today. Found myself hungry, but also motivated…Leftover whole wheat couscous at my disposal, which in all honesty is dry as sh*t. Had a pretty good set of veggies also, so when all else fails I’m going to make a salad. In this case, a grain salad, which is way more nutritionally complete than just some greens and tomatoes.

I didn’t feel like chopping so I threw every ingredient in the mini food processor separately, which made the salad nice and uniform.

Ingredients:

Whole Wheat Couscous (cooked) – 1 1/2 cups (? more/less)

1/2 red onion

1/2 an orange pepper

1 carrot

Handful of cherry tomatoes

Sunflower seeds

Dried Cranberries

For the dressing:

Red wine vinegar

Toasted sesame oil

Maille mustard

Mint, Chives

Berbere, Ras el Hanout

Method:

In a medium to large bowl, throw in your cooked couscous. Then add in each vegetable one at a time, incorporating them into the salad. Once everything is mixed, mix the dressing into the salad (Yes, I also made the dressing in the food processor). You can pulverize the seeds and berries or throw them in whole, it’s really your preference. I chose to use some chopped Romaine for the base of the salad, but you could use it as a side dish or on its own it’s pretty good and very satisfying.

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Spruce up dull roasted vegetables by adding lots of color and flavor

Spruce up dull roasted vegetables by adding lots of color and flavor

I have to admit, I am not a huge carrot fan. I like them well enough, but, I don’t go out of my way to eat them regularly (I know deep in my soul this is probably a holdover from a long ago experiment with the Atkins diet, for shame!) They are a staple in my house though as a raw snack, usually with hummus and every so often they will be the steamed veggie of the night.

I don’t know about you, but, this long winter has been causing me some serious vegetable burnout, so I finally caved in and bought some of those colorful carrots I keep seeing in the food store. I know those colors provide some serious antioxidant powerhouse nutrition. I didn’t realize how gorgeous they would be as part of a meal! When I threw them in with a few other vegetables, I honestly felt like I was looking at a fruit salad. The only thing missing was a watermelon basket.

Recipe:

1-2 servings

Ingredients

4 carrots, peeled and cut into ~ 1/2 inch slices (I used purple, orange and yellow)

2 large stalks of celery, cut into 1/2 inch slices

5 medium radishes, quartered

2 pearl onions

1-2 tsp coconut oil (smeared along bottom of roasting pan)

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

1- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2- Chop all vegetables while oven is heating up.

3- Smear coconut oil along the bottom of roasting pan and add vegetables to pan

4- Shake the vegetables around in the pan until they are somewhat coated with coconut oil

5- Roast vegetables ~20-30 minutes, or until fork tender.

6- Sprinkle with salt and pepper. I like to use the Pink Himalayan salt for the big crystals and a little crunch.

This whole dish clocks in at less than 200 calories and a very respectable 9 grams of fiber! Not to mention over 250% of your RDA for Vitamin A. Your night vision will thank you.

Paleo NoodlesI’ve been experimenting with the Paleo diet lately to see how it feels, and it feels really good. I know it’s not a new diet plan, especially being all “caveman”-like, but, I never gave it much thought before on account of it seeming so difficult to follow. No grains, no dairy, no processed sugar. ARGHHHHH.

That always seemed hard to do, but, forays into intermittent fasting kind of opened the door to me thinking following this kind of diet plan is not so hard after all.

And actually I have made these kinds of noodles before, and was very excited to see a recipe for them in a paleo cookbook. Only a couple of changes to the sauce, peanuts are a no-no on the paleo diet, but all other nuts and seeds are okay.

Paleo Noodles (makes 4 servings)

Ingredients

2 large zucchinis

1 clove garlic

Juice of one lime

Red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar

1/2 teaspoon soy sauce (not paleo ingredient)

1/4 cup sunflower seed butter

1/4 cup almond milk

Method

1. Julienne the zucchini via a mandoline into noodles, set aside

2. Mix all ingredients from garlic to almond milk in a food processor to make a sauce, add almond milk after all ingredients have been blended.

3. Pour the sauce over the noodles, distribute evenly over all the noodles.

I added leftover chicken to the noodles, but, any protein will do or even some cut up veggies.

~125 calories, 450 mg potassium, 5 g/protein, 32 mg/vitamin C per serving

Basil Artichoke Hummus

Okay, I realize that Sriracha is more of a condiment and hummus is more of a spread/dip, but, my foodie antennae are telling me that this delicious healthy dip is on the verge of, if not already, having its moment, big time! It’s definitely been a staple in my diet for years. I also highly recommend it as a delicious healthy snack or spread.

I made a quickie version tonight with my new Cuisinart, rest in peace Krups speedy pro :-(, you will be missed…

Asparagus Basil Hummus with Cashew Butter

Ingredients

! can garbanzo beans – Rinsed

Juice of 1 lemon (I used a Meyer, it’s a little bit sweeter)

1/4 cup olive oil

1 clove garlic (browned)

5 spears asparagus

Handful of fresh basil

1 tablespoon cashew butter (replacement for tahini)

Salt and pepper to taste

Lemon zest (optional)

Paprika (optional)

Method

1- Combine all ingredients in food processor and pulverize until chickpeas are roughly chopped.

2- Slowly drizzle olive oil into ingredients while simultaneously grinding mixture

3- Taste the hummus. Add salt, pepper, more lemon juice if necessary and process until desired consistency is desired.

4- Sprinkle with smoked paprika

 

Incidentally, I’ve had several posts dedicated to hummus:

Homemade Hummus, Best Hummus Ever, A Lemon By Any Other Name

Salad Nom Noms

Salad Nom Noms

I do have a garden growing in the backyard, but, the yield has been spotty at best. We are talking like one green bean per day, a few snap peas here and there, shabby chard and broccoli that flowers before I get a chance to eat it. The tomatoes are coming along, but, they are still green. Oh yeah, and peppers that are at a stand still. Honestly, I have had better luck accidentally growing peppers in the refrigerator by leaving them in the vegetable bin too long. (that phenomenon is called “internal proliferation” and for you fellow food geeks, there is an explanation of it here.

So, even though I planned on making myself some killer homegrown salads this summer, so far, not happening. Thus I settle for a “refrigerator salad.” My herbs are doing well though, so I try to treat the basil like a “green.” I do always have on hand a few salad staples and they make for a hearty, healthy side dish or as a base for some fabulous protein topping (i.e. salmon or tofu.). If you have leftover of the salad, it can be used as a stir-fry base as well.

Ingredients

1-2 handfuls Snap Peas (Blanched) (1 cup has 44 calories and 4 grams of fiber)

1-2 heads broccoli (blanched)

2 carrots (peeled/blanched)

1/2 red pepper

1/2 red onion

Basil and any other herbs hanging around

Sesame oil (only used it because I was out of olive oil)

Red wine vinegar

Himalayan sea salt to taste

Method

1. Bring a medium size pot of water to a boil.

2. Prepare an ice bath to submerge the vegetables in after boiling.

3. While waiting for the water to boil prep all vegetables.

4. Once the water is boiling, throw in the snap peas for roughly 1-1 1/2 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon or strainer and submerge into the ice bath.

5. Repeat with the broccoli and carrots.

6. After all the vegetables are blanched, toss everything into a bowl, drizzle with some sesame oil and red wine vinegar.

7. Add the herbs and salt to taste.

Light and refreshing summer salad

Inspired by one of my favorite Tyler Florence recipes, Zucchini Carpaccio, I thought I’d try to make my own version using on of my favorite vegetables, the radish. Mr. Florence’s dish is an amazing appetizer salad which is very light, especially in the summer. It also has  nice tangy/savory taste which is somewhat addictive.

My version includes:

1 bunch of radishes (the bigger the radish, the better), thinly sliced by a mandoline

Olive oil

Juice of 1/2 fresh lime (lemon is preferable, but, I was all out)

Fresh chives

Crumbled blue cheese (~1/4 cup)

Arrange radish thins in 1 layer on a plate. Drizzle over the olive oil and lime juice and scatter with chives. I sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt.  Allow the radishes to sit for about 10 minutes in the refrigerator. Remove from refrigerator, sprinkle on blue cheese (or cheese of your choice), and enjoy!

Black lentils provide a crunchy, high fiber base for sauteed portobellos

I have been waiting with bated breath to cook up this package of black lentils from Whole Foods. They are smaller than the average red or green lentil and look almost like caviar when they are cooked. I also had some “Ginormous” Portobello mushrooms and a lonely jalapeno that needed to be used.

Basically, I cut up 1/2 a Vidalia onion, 1/2 a jalapeno (no seeds) and 2 cloves of garlic. I sauteed these with some fresh herbs from my garden (chives, savory, thyme, basil) and olive oil for 3-4 minutes. I then added the thinly sliced portobello mushroom and allowed them to cook together for a few more minutes. A little balsamic, sherry and red wine vinegar at the last minute. A dash of salt to finish it off.

The black lentils can be cooked in around 20 minutes, but, I used the slow cooker because I wasn’t sure when I started what I would ultimately do with the lentils, I just knew I wanted to use them.

This type of lentil really keeps its crunchiness and would make a great base for a salad. Since I made an entire bag, which yields at least 11 servings dry, I plan to try the salad option next.

Each serving offers a whopping 9 grams of fiber and almost a days worth of folate.

High in fiber and satisfaction, low in salt and calories

The problem with most processed dips is that they pack a lot of salt into a small serving size. For example, Frito Lay Black Bean Dip has 200 mg sodium per 2 tablespoons and Desert Pepper Black Bean Dip has 300 mg for the same amount. I don’t know about you, but, I am not likely to stop at 2 tablespoons, so, I try to make my own whenever possible.

For this recipe, I started with a 1/2 bag of uncooked black beans (8 oz). The beans have no sodium whatsoever, so I am able to add my own salt and seasonings to taste. It does take some time to bring the beans to the desired consistency (follow package directions), but at less than $1.50 a bag, it’s well worth a little extra time. (I did set aside some of the black beans to make black bean burgers at another time)

In my Cuisinart, I combined the pre-cooked black beans, 1/2 an onion, several fresh herbs (especially cilantro), a turn of olive oil, juice of one lime, some cumin, garlic powder and smoked paprika.

I pulsed the mixture maybe 7-8 times. At that point, I tasted the dip, and while the texture was good, it clearly needed a bit of salt to bring the flavors together. I threw in a couple of dashes of salt, but, definitely no more than 1/8 teaspoon for the entire recipe.

According to my calculations, the recipe yields 12 servings of 2 tbsp each. Each serving is ~45 calories, 27 mg sodium. If you want to make this dip even lower in calorie, you could decrease the olive oil or omit it altogether.

What’s your favorite homemade dip to make this summer?

 

The shiitake mushrooms I recently purchased at Fairway market inspired me to dust off my wok tonight. The mushrooms always look so eager to become part of a stir-fry or some such recipe, I can’t resist them.

I also happened to have the holy trinity of peppers (red, yellow and orange) on hand and this happy event obliged me to make a colorful, tasty dish.

Using the mandoline helped make quick work of slicing the vegetables (the thinnest setting makes the peppers almost noodle-like in their shape.) I was so excited about this combination that I just sat down and ate the whole bowl you see here. It may be hot outside, but, breaking a sweat was worth it for this meal.

Tons of vitamin C and potassium in this heart healthy dish

If you use about a cup of soba noodles, this dish clocks in about 400 calories and provides a ton of vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium.

If you want to give it a try, here’s what I used (you will have leftover noodles that can be used later for a different dish):

Ingredients:

1 package Soba Noodles (cooked according to package directions)

1 half package Trader Joes Sprouted Tofu (drained and cubed)

1 cup shiitake mushrooms

1/2 cup each of yellow, orange and red peppers

2 small carrots

1/2 yellow onion

4 cloves of garlic

Soy sauce and/or Hoisin Sauce

Ponzu Sauce

Rice Vinegar

Dark Sesame oil

Peanut oil (for Stir-frying)

Fresh herbs (chives, thyme, lemon balm, savory, sage)

Vegetable broth (1/2 cup)

Lime & sriracha (optional)

Directions

Prep all vegetables while noodles are cooking. Prepare wok by bringing to a very high heat. Once the wok is very hot, add a turn of peanut oil. Add onions, garlic, peppers to the wok, moving them around continuously until they become translucent. Add mushrooms, splash of soy sauce, ponzu, rice vinegar and sesame oil. Remove vegetables from the wok and put aside.

Add a small amount of peanut oil to the wok and cook tofu so that it’s browned on most sides (3 minutes or so). Add the vegetables back to the wok, combining all ingredients together. Add the soba noodles to the wok. If you want more of a noodle soup, you can add the vegetable broth in at the end, allowing it to heat through for a minute or so.

Salt and pepper to taste. I always add sriracha and lime juice to these types of dishes, but, they are entirely optional.

Enjoy!