Nov 242011

Some people like a really traditional thanksgiving (turkey with all the trimmings) and some people like to shake things up (with a deep fried turkey, a turduken or even tofurkey…ew).  I’ve gotta say I’m somewhere in the middle.  Most Thanksgiving traditions at the Lubin’s are pretty untouchable–my Mom and Aunt will always prepare and stuff our prefect turkey (which I have probably named…Herbert is sitting in our fridge as we speak).  My Dad will always don a very masculin apron and make not one, not two, not three, but FOUR amazing pies.  We’ll always admit defeat and buy our gravy rather than end up with lumpy gravy again.  My sister Jenna will probably try to start at least one fire lighting the candles. But while traditions are important, I sometimes try to make little twists on our favorites, like last year with new brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes.  This year for an early Thanksgiving with friends, I took my moms classic stuffing recipe and made some healthy swaps, plus made them into mini stuffin’ muffins!

My mom’s stuffing is simple but so perfect in my mind.  To her recipe with sauteed celery and onions, I added carrots and mushrooms for extra veg factor. Instead of pork sausage, I subbed ground turkey, seasoned with sage, thyme, and garlic to try to masquerade it as sausage.  And the final change, instead of stuffing it into poor Herbert, I mixed in a few eggs and baked it up in a mini muffin tin for individual little bites.  You can also make these with any stuffing recipe you like, just add an egg to bind it together!

Nutritional Highlights: I could say that you should make Thanksgiving healthier by exhibiting portion control.  I also would have to say that I have absolutely no intention to exhibit any of that tomorrow.  Free for all.  Anyway, these stuff muffs really aren’t so bad.  They have a lot of vegetables, lean ground turkey, and a mixture of white and wheat breads.  Plus, there is mega portion control by making them in these cute little muffins.  And you get the crusty exterior in every bite!  You can try these with your favorite stuffing recipe, just add a little egg to bind it together.

Mini Stuffing Muffins!

Ingredients for 24 mini muffs:

  • 1 bag herb stuffing cubes
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 lb ground turkey (I added dried thyme, garlic powder, and sage to try to make it seem more like sausage)
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg white
  • olive oil
Directions (a vague recollection of what I did):
In a large pan or pot, heat a little olive oil and sautee the carrot, celery, onion, and mushroom until tender and beginning to brown.  Remove for the pan.  Add a little more oil and brown the ground turkey with optional additional seasoning.  Turn off heat.  Add vegetables back into the pan.  Pour in stuffing bag.  Gently stir.  Add chicken broth and mix (add more if you think it needs more moisture).  Beat the egg and egg white in a separate bowl and mix into the stuffing mixture (this is to bind the muffins).  

Spray a mini muffin tin with non-stick spray.  Form little stuffing balls using your hands–try to press them relatively well so they don’t fall apart.  Bake in the oven at 350 for about 20-25 minutes or until the tops are crispy and the muffins are set.  You’ll be left with adorable little stuff muffs that are moist and tender in the center but crispy on the outside.  

Have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!
Nov 172011

I think I brussel sprouts may be my favorite vegetable.  I know it’s a bold statement, as I hate to play favorites with my veggies.  It’s especially bold, because if you asked my mom, she’d tell you that she would often find them tucked in my napkin or under my cup when I was younger.  At some point, I had a brussel sprout revelation.  It was the probably the first time I tasted a roasted brussel sprout.  Not steamed, mushy, and cabbagy, but crisp, sweet, and tender.  And this recipe is an amazing version of roasted brussel sprouts–perfect for thanksgiving or any day of the week.

I especially like making brussel sprouts when you can find them on the vine like this–as fresh as you can get.  It looks a little terrifying, but you really just pop them off the stalk, wash, and cut as usual.  These were simply roasted with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then tossed in a yummy maple dijon vinaigrette. 

Nutritional Highlights:  Ever notice that a brussel sprout really looks just like a teeny tiny cabbage (so cute!)?  Well it’s in the same powerhouse family of cruciferous veggies.  Just one cup has 200% of your daily vitamin K (important for blood clotting) and 160% of your daily need for vitamin C (improves iron absorptions and protects you from free radicals).  There’s also research that suggests that brussel sprouts help protect against cancer…hooray! Cancer stinks!  So eat your sprouts!

Maple Dijon Roasted Brussel Sprouts
adapted from Closet Cooking

2 pounds brussels sprouts (trimmed and halved)
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
1 clove garlic (minced)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup almond slices (toasted)

1. Toss the brussels sprouts in the oil along with the salt and pepper.
2. Arrange the brussels sprouts in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Placing them all cut side down will lead to great caramelization.
3. Roast in a preheated 400F oven for 30 minutes, until they start to caramelize, flipping them once after 15 minutes.
4. Mix the oil, vinegar, maple syrup, mustards, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
5. Toss the brussels sprouts and almonds in the maple dijon vinaigrette.
Nov 102011

In the fall I find myself just trying to dream up new ways to use sweet potatoes.  Last year I made sweet potato falafel, fries, and chips.  I really just can’t get enough.  I’ve found that my favorite preparations are ones that combine some heat with the natural sweetness of the potatoes–no brown sugar and marshmallows here.  This is a filling, healthy, veggie burger recipe perfect for a sweet potato lover like me!!

Nutritional Highlights: Take a look at the ingredients we have in here: sweet potato, black bean, oats, quinoa.  Pretty powerful cast don’t you think?  We have plenty of protein from the quinoa and black beans.  Tons of fiber from the oats and black beans.  Plus beta carotene from the sweet potatoes.  These burgers are totally vegan (no animal products used).  This also means that they can be a little crumbly so be sure to pack the mixture tightly when forming the burgers.  These are spicy, sweet, and filling, perfect topped with some healthy fat from an avocado.  Also, they’re gluten free!  Promise they’re not flavor-free though!

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers 
Adapted from edible perspective
yields 8 burgers – 
  • 15oz black beans, drained + rinsed
  • 3c cubed sweet tater, cooked + skin on [~1.5lbs]
  • 1/2c frozen or fresh corn
  • 2/3c finely chopped onion [1/2 medium onion]
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/2c cooked quinoa
  • 6T rolled oats, partially ground
  • 2T sunflower seeds
  • 1/2t salt
  • black pepper
  • 1t cumin
  • 1t oregano
  • 1/4t coriander
  • 1t chili powder
  • 1/4t cayenne [optional]
  • 1T olive oil
  1. Preheat your oven to 375* once you finish cooking the quinoa + potato.
  2. Mash half of the beans in a bowl until paste-like.
  3. Add in the rest of the beans and give a very light stir/mash to combine.
  4. In a large bowl, mash the sweet tater.  Each cube should be mashed, but you don’t want it creamy.
  5. Stir in the salt, pepper, oregano, coriander, chili powder, cayenne [if using] and olive oil, until combined.
  6. Mix in the onion, garlic, corn, black beans, quinoa, sunflower seeds, and ground oats, until just combined.
  7. Taste, and adjust seasonings to your liking.
  8. Form into balls, between your hands and flatten into 1/2”-3/4” thick patties.  This should make 8 medium/large patties.
  9. Place on a pan lined with parchment paper [or lightly greased pan] and bake on each side for 15min, flipping once, half-way through.
  10. Remove from oven + serve! 
*If you want to refrigerate or freeze them, let fully cool on a cooling rack.  Place in a sealed container for the fridge, or wrap in saran, then foil, then in a bag for the freezer.  If reheating a frozen burger, let it thaw completely.  Re-heat in a greased pan, over medium heat for ~3-5min per side, until hot throughout.
*To make the ground oats – Pulse your blender on + off, until you have the consistency about half way to flour.
*Instead of ground oats, feel free to sub – millet flour, oat flour, quinoa flour, whole wheat flour, etc.

Nov 022011

I was wandering the aisles of TJ’s last week (that’s Trader Joe’s in case you didn’t know, but we’re on a nickname basis at this point).  Anyway, I was in the produce section at Trader Joe’s, stocking up on the usual items–carrots, apples, spinach–when I spotted this little festive-looking acorn squash.  I had no idea what you do with an acorn squash.  Was it decoration?  Can you eat it?  How do you cook it?  Intrigued, I threw him into my cart and brought him home.  After much contemplation, I decided to roast it, and stuff it with some delicious mushroom barley pilaf.

If you’re looking for a festive way to present a side dish around the holidays, I think we have just found it.  The flavor of the squash was relatively neutral–not as sweet as butternut but especially tasty on the roasted parts.  The star of this dish though is the filling. This deceptively healthy barley that I first made in my food science class a few weeks ago has already become a favorite.  It’s savory and filling, and gets richness from the mushrooms.  I would eat it in a squash, I would eat it in a bowl.  I would eat it here or there, I would eat it anywhere!  (See what I did there?)

Nutritional highlights:Say farewell to white rice and hello to barley.   A cup of barley has HALF of your days requirements for fiber.  Fiber does more that just what it’s famous for…it also helps lower cholesterol–Hooray!  This dish gets all it’s flavor from the onion, garlic, mushrooms, and herbs, not from fat.  It’s a filling and hearty dish.  If you decide to put it in the squash, Acorn Squash, like all our other winter squashes, is a great source of Vitamin A (via beta carotene), plus vitamin C and potassium.  When we’re eating so many rich things around the holidays, this might be a great addition to help fill us up without filling us out.  And more good news–this dish is vegan and vegetarian!

Roasted Acorn Squash


  • 1 Acorn Squash, halved and seeds removed
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper
Directions:  Preheat oven to 425.  Once you’ve cut and cleaned out the acorn squash, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Place face down on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes or until tender and caramelized.  

Mushroom Barley Pilaf:

  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1/2 cup barley
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onion (about 1/2 a large onion)
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 8 ounces sliced cremini mushroom (baby portobello)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 small scallion, minced
  • Fresh thyme
1.  Bring water to a biol in small saucepan over high heat.  Stir in barley and salt and bring back to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat to simmer, continue cooking for 45 minutes or until barley is tender.
2.  Meanwhile, heat olive oil in large skillet over high heat.  Add onion, reduce heat to medium, and continue cooking and stirring until union has wilted (about 3-5 minutes).
3.  Mix in garlic and dried herbs, cook and stir for 2 minutes.
4.  Add mushrooms and water to onion mixture, cover and cook on low heat for 10 minutes.
5.  Add soy sauce and shallot, cook and stir for 2 minutes.
6.  Add barley to the mixture, cook and stir until heated through.  Stir in some fresh thyme leaves for color and sprinkle a few more on top.
7.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

If stuffing in an Acorn Squash, spoon the barley into the squash and serve!