Mar 292016

After a friend’s bachelorette party in Austin (read: bbq and booze) and a few too many chocolate Easter Eggs (OK, it was a lot of eggs), my body was desperate for something green. And it doesn’t get much greener than these Cucumber Sesame Noodles with Scallions, Asparagus, and Edamame.
This dish makes the perfect side dish or vegetarian main. I personally think it’s easier than traditional sesame noodles since there’s no cooking/noodle boiling involved. The sauce is creamy, spicy, garlicy, slightly sweet, and seriously addictive. You can add any vegetables and/or protein you want to this dish, but I kept it light, simple, and springy with raw asparagus, scallions, and edamame.
Nutritional Highlights: By replacing noodles with spiralized cucumber, this dish has far less calories than the the traditional version. Plus, it’s gluten free (if you replace the soy with tamari) and vegan! The creamy nut butter sauce (tahini, peanut butter, or almond butter all work) has protein and healthy fat to keep you full, plus the additional edamame adds extra protein. And although cucumber is super low cal due to the fact that it’s mostly water, it’s not necessarily the most nutrient packed vegetable, so I added asparagus which is packed with vitamin K, folate, copper and tons of other vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that contribute to it’s antioxidant properties. If asparagus isn’t your thing, try some chopped broccoli, shredded carrots, snap peas, green beans, shaved brussel sprouts, diced avocado…really all vegetables are welcome here. Looking to bump up the protein? Serve with a piece of grilled salmon, tofu, a few grilled shrimp, or anything you like!
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Cucumber Sesame Noodles with Asparagus, Edamame, & Scallions
Serves 3-4 as a side, 2 as a meal
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What’s in it:
The sauce:
1 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons tahini, creamy peanut or almond butter
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger (I use a microplane)
1 teaspoons finely minced or grated garlic (I use a microplane)
1 tablespoon sriracha (less if you’re not into spicy)

For the “noodles”
2 large English cucumbers, spiralized into thin noodles
4 scallions, diced (set a few aside for garnish)
1 1/2 cup one inch asparagus pieces*
1/2 cup edamame
1 tablespoon white and/or black sesame seeds

*If your asparagus is thin, simply cut into 1 inch pieces. If it’s thick, cut them lengthwise and then into 1 inch pieces since I used them raw. If you don’t like raw asparagus, substitute green beans, snap peas, grated carrots, small broccoli florets, or any other veggies.

How to make it:
1. In a bowl, whisk the sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, tahini/peanut or almond butter, honey, ginger, garlic and sriracha. Set aside.
2. Prepare all your veggies by spiralizing your cucumbers and chopping the other veggies.
3. In a large bowl, toss the “noodles” and vegetables with the sesame sauce.
4. Garnish with sesame seeds and scallions and enjoy!
This will put your greasy take-out noodles to shame!

Mar 132016

Sorry for the lack of posts recently, but there was a good excuse. Cramming for the RD exam unfortunately trumped cooking and blogging for the past month, but I am happy to say I am now officially a Registered Dietitian! There will be many RD approved (ahhh I can actually say that now!) recipes coming soon, and here’s the first–Pumpkin Turkey & Veggie Chili.
Odds are you have a neglected can of pureed pumpkin in your pantry from your unachieved fall pumpkin pie goals. Well here’s the perfect way to use it up before pumpkin and chili season are no more (which the groundhog says will be soon, thank goodness). I actually made this chili months ago and completely forgot about it until I gleefully discovered a container of it while scavenging my freezer for dinner one night. Although I love the added nutrients the pumpkin provides, I have to say the flavor is pretty subtle in this dish. Still, this recipe met all my chili requirements–just enough heat, lots of veggies and beans, and of course, enough to provide me with a weeks worth of meals (and then some).
Nutritional Highlights: I love making chili because it is incredibly versatile and can incorporate just about any vegetable, any bean, any grain, and any meat. This one is about 75% veggies and beans and 25% lean ground turkey, but you can easily make it vegetarian by subbing cooked lentils or quinoa for the turkey. You get a little extra fiber and beta carotene from the pumpkin puree in this recipe, plus a slight sweetness to balance out the heat. A serving of this chili is the perfect well rounded meal, packed with protein, fiber, and tons of vitamins and minerals.
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Pumpkin Turkey & Veggie Chili
Makes about 6 servings
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What’s in it:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 bell peppers (any color), cored, seeded and chopped
2 jalapeños, seeded and finely chopped (or leave some of the seeds in for more heat)
3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound lean ground turkey
1 can diced tomatoes, with liquid
1 can pumpkin purée
1 cup of pumpkin beer (water or broth work fine as well)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt (more to taste)
Ground black pepper, to taste
2 cans of beans (I used 1 kidney and 1 pinto), drained and rinsed
Optional toppings: Crumbled cheese (feta, goat, or cotija work well), cilantro leaves, toasted pumpkin seeds, lime wedges

How to make it:
1. Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell peppers, jalapeños and garlic and stir frequently, until tender and slightly browned, about 5 minutes.
2. Add turkey and cook until browned, breaking it up into small pieces with your spoon. Season with the chili powder, cumin, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and pepper and stir for another minute.
3. Add diced tomatoes, pumpkin, and beer/water/broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and add beans. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes more. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed
4. Serve and top with crumbled cheese (cotija, goat, or feta), cilantro, and toasted pumpkin seeds.

– I find that chili is even tastier the next day, so feel free to make a head and reheat the next day.
– Feel free to add any additional veggies to make this even healthier–like zucchini, squash, corn, etc.
– For a vegetarian version, swap ground turkey for cooked lentils, quinoa, or any other high protein grain!
Here’s to this being the LAST cold weather recipe I post for a while. Maybe? Pretty Please?