Nov 272015

Thursday November 26th, 8:27 pm: “I will never ever eat again.”
Friday November 27th, 9:02 am: “I’m starving, where is the pie?”

It happens to all of us: After feeling more stuffed Thanksgiving night than the bird in the middle of the table, somehow we wake up the next morning even more ravenous than usual. May it’s the sugar hangover. Maybe it’s the regular hangover. Or maybe it’s the fact that we know there’s a fridge full of leftovers that have somehow become even more delicious overnight. To combat those pie craving and get back on track, I made this hearty Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal with stone ground oats, quinoa, and tons of healthy toppings. Let the leftovers wait until lunch time.
Homemade oatmeal is nothing like that stuff in the packets. By cooking it on the stove or in the crockpot with lots of spices (and in this case, a whole can of pumpkin), the flavor and texture are so much better than that instant stuff. And even though it’s not “instant”, it’s still pretty darn quick and can be done in 30 minutes on the stove (or overnight in the crockpot if you’re more a set it and forget it kind of person). The other secret to oatmeal nirvana is an amazing array of toppings–nuts, seeds, fruit, you name it. The world is your…bowl of oatmeal?
Nutrition highlights: In this recipe, I mixed two different grains (well one is technically a seed) to maximize nutrition. The steel cut oats provide complex carbohydrates and tons of fiber while the quinoa provide a complete source of protein, even more fiber, and lots of vitamins and minerals like manganese, magnesium, iron and folate among others. The can of pureed pumpkin (the unsweetened stuff!) adds more than just amazing flavor, it also is loaded with antioxidants, fiber, and beta carotene. This recipe has virtually no added sugar but can be adjusted to your taste. The toppings can be incredibly healthy as well, with protein, healthy fats, and fiber from things like chia seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, toasted pecans, or coconut. The best part about this is it’s will keep you seriously full until lunch time (but not in a unbutton your pants kind of way).
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Pumpkin Spice Quinoa Oatmeal Bowls
Makes 4-6 servings
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What’s in it:
1 cup steal cut oats
1/2 cup quinoa (any color is fine), rinsed
1 14.5 oz can pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (or 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg)
1 tablespoon maple syrup (admit for no sugar added, add more if you like a sweeter oatmeal)
3 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or any other milk you like)
Topping options (any combination of your favorites): pomegranate seeds, chopped apples or pears, chia seeds, hemp hearts, pumpkin seeds, toasted or candied pecans, slivered almonds, roasted coconut chips, (brown sugar or maple syrup if you have a sweet tooth).

Step -1. I skipped this part due to laziness, but many recipes recommend toasting oats/quinoa in a skillet with a little bit of coconut oil for 1-2 minutes prior to making the oatmeal.
1. Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan on the stovetop.
2. Once boiling, add the quinoa and steel cut oats, turn heat down to low/medium and let simmer for 5 minutes. Whisk in pureed pumpkin and spices and simmer for another 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
3. Add the almond milk and maple syrup and turn off the heat.
4. Serve with a little additional almond milk if you like a looser oatmeal. Top with your favorite toppings and enjoy!

*If you prefer to use the slow cooker, combine all the ingredients and cook on low for ~6 hours.

Nov 222015

When you’re assigned the task of making stuffing for friendsgiving, it is no joke. It is arguably the most important component of any thanksgiving feast, and the amount of recipes out there can be daunting. Corn bread or regular bread? Sausage or pancetta? Sweet or savory add-ins? But I’ve finally uncovered the secret to perfect stuffing–and it’s that there isn’t just one. The truth is that if you mix delicious bread, vegetables, herbs (and maybe some meat) and bake it all together, it’s going to be amazing. This version is a combo of all my favorite sweet and savory ingredients (corn bread + multigrain bread+ butternut squash + kale + cranberries + turkey sausage or mushrooms), and it might just be my favorite yet.
Since there were a few vegetarians attending my friendsgiving, I made half of these babies with turkey italian sausage and half with roasted mushrooms as the “meaty” component. This stuffing is slightly more labor intensive than other recipes, since it has the added component of roasting vegetables, but they add the best flavor and texture to these muffins. I prefer stuffin muffins rather than baking a whole pan for both cuteness and crustiness factor, but you can make it either way. The only difference in the muffin form is that you add a few eggs in so they bind together (added bonus of extra protein woo!).
Nutrition highlights: These stuffin muffins are definitely healthier than your average stuffing, but it’s still probably best to stick to just one muff. Although I used some cornbread (because, cornbread), the other half of the bread was a hearty and healthy multigrain loaf packed with fiber to fill you up. I also added more veggies than you normally see, including chopped kale, roasted butternut squash, and mushrooms (if you make the vegetarian version). If you are cooking for omnivores, that’s ok too–this recipe uses lean turkey italian sausage rather than it’s fattier pork friend.
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Butternut Squash-Kale Stuffin Muffins
Makes 12 muffins (double recipe for a big crowd!)
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What’s in it:
1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 2-3 cups)
Prepared cornbread*, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 3-4 cups)
Multigrain bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 3-4 cups)
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 cups chopped kale
1 1/2-2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 large eggs
1/2 cup dried cranberries
4 fresh sage leaeves
3 sprigs of fresh thyme (or 1 tspn dried thyme)
Salt and pepper to taste
For vegetarian version: 2 cups roughly chopped portobello mushrooms
For non-vegetarian version: 3 lean turkey italian sausages

How to make it:
1. Preheat oven to 325. Spread cubed bread on a baking sheet and toast for about 5-10 min until just beginning to toast (careful not to burn it!). Pour toasted bread cubes in a large bowl and set aside.
2. Increase oven to 425. Spread butternut squash cubes (and portobello mushrooms if making the vegetarian version) on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes until the veggies are beginning to brown. Add to the bowl with the bread cubes.
3. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet. Add the chopped onion and cook for 5-7 minutes until soft. Add the sage and thyme, kale, and salt and pepper and saute for another 2 minutes until kale begins to soften. Pour the veggie mixture into the bowl with the bread cubes.
4. If making the turkey sausage version, remove sausage from casings and brown in the saute pan, breaking up into small pieces, until cooked through. Add sausage to the bread/veggie mixture.
5. Add dried cranberries to the bread mixture. Taste mixture and add additional salt/pepper as needed.
6. In a small bowl, whisk eggs with broth and pour over your stuffing mixture. Toss to combine everything, adding additional broth if it seems too dry. If able, let the mixture sit in the fridge for a few hours or even over night.
7. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375. Spray a muffin tray with oil and fill each with a heaping spoonful of the stuffing mixture. Press each down into the tin so it holds together, then add a little more to the top so it has a nice rounded “non perfect” looking top. Bake for 15-20 minutes until muffins hold together and are browning on the top.
8. Enjoy!!

*Instead of buying a whole loaf of cornbread, I bought a few individual pieces from whole foods that the sell with the soups to avoid the danger of having leftover cornbread around!
Individual portioned stuffin with lots of veggies = you are less stuffed = more room for pie. It’s just basic math, people.

Nov 122015

We all know that when life gets busy, cooking is one of the first things to go. I’m guilty of it too, although due to my somewhat frugal nature (aka shamelessly cheap), rather than ordering take-out this means resorting to a combination of hummus, cereal, peanut butter, and anything else I can find in my fridge. I’ve been getting crafty though, and have realized delicious does not have to entail 20 ingredients and hours in the kitchen. Would you believe me if I told you that this meal, this beautiful restaurant quality, fancy-looking meal, took me a whopping 15 minutes to make? Well believe it.
Pan-seared salmon is the perfect quick and healthy meal, and for this one after cooking it I made a quick sauce in the pan with a whopping 4 ingredients (lemon juice, maple syrup, whole grain dijon mustard, and olive oil). Another time saving secret I use every week is to prep a big batch of grains and roasted veggies on the weekend, any kind you have/like. This week for me that included quinoa and roasted beets and brussel sprouts. I combined the two along with some salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oil and vinegar for a super fast side dish.
Nutrition highlights: We all know salmon is healthy, and I think any fish is better than none (since most of us don’t eat nearly enough)! Still, the truth is that NOT all salmon is created equal and lately even frugal-old-me has been spending the extra few dollars to get wild Alaskan or Norweigan salmon rather than farm raised Atlantic salmon. Not only does it typically have less toxins (like polychlorinated biphenyls), it also has about 1/3 less calories, almost half the fat and higher amounts of many healthy vitamins and minerals. This meal is rounded out by complex carbs/fiber from the quinoa and tons of veggies (brussels and beets) to make it the perfect balanced meal. Though the sauce has a little sugar from the maple syrup, it adds a sweet dimension to this savory dish that makes it incredibly satisfying.
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Pan-Seared Salmon with Maple-Mustard Pan Sauce
makes 1 serving (double it for 2!)
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What’s in it:
1 4-oz wild salmon filet
Juice from 1 lemon, divided
1 Tablespoon whole grain dijon mustard
1-2 teaspoons good maple syrup
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
Olive oil
Salt, pepper, (optional: garlic powder, dried thyme)
Optional: chopped nuts to top fish

How to make it:
1. Cut about 1/3 of the lemon off and squeeze over your salmon filet. Let sit for a few minutes (at least 5) while you get the other ingredients ready.
2. Heat a heavy skillet (NOT non stick is better to get a good crust) over medium-high heat. Dry off the salmon with a paper napkin, season generously with salt and pepper. Once your pan is very hot, add about 1 teaspoon olive oil and place the salmon in the pan (flesh down/skin up). Let cook undisturbed for about 4 minutes (more or less depending on thickness) and then flip and cook the other side for another 3 minutes.
3. Set salmon aside and reduce heat to low. Add another 1 tspn olive oil, 2 Tablespoons lemon juice, and the maple syrup/ mustard. Add salt, pepper, and optional garlic powder/dried thyme to taste. Simmer for 1 minute until the sauce thickens slightly.
4. Spoon sauce over salmon and top with chopped nuts for crunch. Serve with your favorite roasted veggies/whole grain for the healthiest meal in all the land. Enjoy!
Give your seamless/grub-hub/neighborhood chipotle a break this week and try a quick and healthy meal like this one!!