Jul 072013
 

It’s that season again.  No, I don’t mean summer.  I mean oven hibernation season.  When you live in a 500 square foot apartment in New York City, 90 degree temperatures and oven use just don’t mix (unless, of course, you’re trying to do bikram yoga in your living room).  So, I rely on easy recipes that require minimal heat usage, like this amazing summer salad recipe with fresh apricots, kale, quinoa, red onion, and almonds.  Not only is it delicious and refreshing, but it just might help counteract the 4th of July beer and BBQ overload.  


The only cooking required here is  simmering the quinoa and toasting the almonds.  Other than that, it’s just some simple assembly.  Whip up a vinaigrette with whole grain mustard, apricot preserves, garlic, oil, and vinegar, and toss in you cooked quinoa, chopped kale, sliced apricots, toasted almonds, and sliced red onions.  It’s so easy to put together and I happily ate this 4 consecutive days for lunch at work and not only didn’t get sick of it, but was disappointed when it ran out.  


Nutritional Highlights:  This recipe is a lot of those scary healthy words- vegan, vegetarian, gluten free- but I swear it’s incredibly tasty (even my meat and potato loving boyfriend liked it).   You get protein from the quinoa (8 gram in a cup) and also some extra from the almonds.   The kale has tons of antioxidants, fiber, iron, calcium, and also vitamin K (which is great but be careful if you’re taking any blood thinning medication).  I chose apricots for this recipe because they are one of the first stone fruits to ripen in the summer and they are rich in vitamin A and C, but you could substitute peaches, nectarines, or plum if you’d rather.  Basically there’s nothing bad I can say about this recipe, health or flavor wise, so if you’re looking for a healthy summer side salad or lunch.


Apricot, Kale, and Quinoa Salad

Ingredients
1 cup quinoa
1.5 cups water
2 small or 1 large  clove of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon course-grain Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon apricot preserves 
2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 cups finely chopped, washed kale
4-6 pitted and sliced fresh apricots
1/4 red onion, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup roughly chopped or whole almonds, toasted

Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions
1. Heat a saucepan over medium heat. Add quinoa and water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 12 minutes. Allow quinoa to cool. (Note: most quinoa packages will tell you to use 2 cups of water to 1 cup of quinoa but I have found that leads to mushy quinoa, so I think 1.5 water to 1 cup quinoa is much better).

2.  In a large bowl (this can be the bowl you plan to serve the salad in, whisk mustard, garlic, apricot preserves, oil, and vinegar, and season with salt and pepper).  

3.  Once dressing is complete, add all you other ingredients right into the dressing bowl- kale,onion, apricots, toasted almonds, and cooled quinoa.  Toss the salad and enjoy!

Note:  the beauty of kale salads is they can last with dressing on them without getting soggy like other greens.  That’s why this salad will last a few days in the fridge!

Mar 012013
 

As you know from basically all of my previous posts, I have a moderate to severe cheese addiction and would prefer pretty much all foods with melted cheese on top.  If you don’t agree with me, you are wrong.  Sadly, we all know that cheese is one of the foods with the highest levels of saturated fat, so I’ve been trying to integrate a few more dairy free meals into my diet.  This one just so happens to be vegan as well.  The highlight was the wok-seared green beans, made with lots of sesame and garlic that brings your usual steamed green beans to a whole new level.  


The whole recipe only took about 15 minutes to prepare start to finish which is a big bonus considering I’m somehow busier than ever these days.  This is the perfect side dish to go with any asian meal, but I served mine with brown rice and some roasted tofu with a sweet and spicy asian glaze.  

Nutritional highlights:  I admit it, it’s sort of a weird time of the year for green beans, but I just had a craving.  Green beans don’t get a ton of press or labels as “super foods”, but they really are incredibly healthy and packed with antioxidants.  I also like green beans because I have found that a lot of non-veggie lovers (you know, the ones that cringe at brussels and kale) will eat green beans.  This recipe especially adds extra flavor but maintains the crunch of the green beans.  Plus, it’s a vegan recipe!


Wok-Seared Sesame Garlic Green Beans
adapted from Bon Apetit

Ingredients:
1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed
1 1/2 tablespoons oriental sesame oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2-3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar – I left this out
2 tablespoons black or white sesame seeds, toasted

Optional: red chili flakes or chili paste

Directions:

Start by blanching your beans: Bring a pot of water to boil and cook green beans briefly until crisp-tender, about 2-3 minutes. Drain. Transfer green beans to large bowl of ice water to cool. Drain again. Pat green beans dry. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Wrap green beans in paper towels and enclose in resealable plastic bag. Refrigerate.)  

Heat oil in heavy large wok or nonstick skillet over high heat. Add garlic and green beans and stir-fry until heated through, about 2 minutes. Add soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and chili pepper if using. Stir-fry until sauce reduces slightly and loosely coats green beans, about 2 minutes longer. Add sesame seeds and toss to coat. Transfer green bean mixture to bowl and serve. Enjoy!


Jan 122013
 

I was trying to get a healthy start this week (along with the rest of the world) so I wanted to have plenty of healthy food in my fridge.  Roasted vegetables are one of my favorite things to have around because they are soooo easy to make, and so versatile–you can eat them as a side, or throw them in a salad or sandwich. I usually stick with the the standard veggies like peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, but when I was walking through the produce isle I decided that I might as well use the beautiful root vegetables that are in season.  I used parsnips, carrots, acorn squash, beets, and onions, but you can use any combo you like.  

An in case you didn’t know what some of those vegggie look like, here they are below (I gave my boyfriend a quiz and he got 2 of the 4 correct).  Then you just cut them up into bite size chunks, toss with oil, salt, pepper, herbs (I used thyme and rosemary), and whole peeled garlic cloves.  Then you just throw it in the oven until they are soft, brown, and delicious.  Can’t think of anything much easier than that! 


Nutritional highlights:  Root vegetables are some of the healthiest out there.  The common theme among these vegetables are the high levels of antioxidants (flavonoids in onions, beta carotene in carrots, betalains in beets) which help lower inflammation and thus protect against various ailments.  Aside from all that, I love root vegetables because they have a slightly sweet flavor when cooked and they are slightly starchy so they keep me full longer than other veggies.  


Roasted Root Vegetables

Ingredients:

  • olive oil spray
  • 1 acorn squash, halved, seeded, and sliced (any type of squash works)
  • 6 carrots, peeled, cut into 1 to 2-inch pieces
  • 3 parsnips, peeled, cut into 1 to 2-inch  pieces
  • 4-5 beets, washed and cut into wedges (no need to peel)
  • 1 onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Other options: celery root, any type of potato, rutabaga, leeks
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped herbs (I used half rosemary and half thyme)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled

  • Directions: Preheat to 400°F and spray 2 baking sheets with olive oil spray. Combine all remaining ingredients except garlic in large bowl; toss to coat. Season generously with salt and pepper. Divide vegetable mixture between prepared sheets. Place 1 sheet on each oven rack. Roast 30 minutes. Stir vegetables and add 3 garlic cloves to each sheet. Continue to roast until all vegetables are tender and brown in spots, stirring and turning vegetables occasionally, about 30 minutes longer. Transfer roasted vegetables to serving platter and then serve.


    Enjoy!

    Jan 052012
     

    If you told my 9 year-old self that in 15 years she would like, dare I say LOVE, broccoli, she would probably say you were crazy.  I always hated broccoli.  So much so that my sister Jenna and I had an unspoken deal–any night we were served green beans (her least favorite) she would stealthily pass them to me under the table, and any night there was broccoli, she would sneakily eat mine.  But with this roasted broccoli there would be no deal, because it’s that good…for broccoli lovers and loathers alike.  So if your new years resolution is to eat your veggies, this would be a great place to start.






    I can honestly say this is the best broccoli preparation I’ve tried yet.  So good that I made it for Christmas dinner at my house and it was a big hit.  By roasting the broccoli, you get some nice charred edges while maintaining the color and texture of the veggie.  The combination of garlic, olive oil, lemon zest and juice just can’t be beat.  Add the warm nutty flavor of toasted pine nuts and the salty melty goodness of the parmesan and there you have it.  Also, check out my awesome new mini collander below.  Thanks Santa!!






    Nutritional Highlights:  Believe it or not, I think this is the first cook tush recipe in which broccoli is the star.  Sure, I’ve thrown it in a stir fry here or there, but I don’t think I’ve ever really showcased the broccoli itself.  Well now is the time.  It’s not a coincidence that there are tons of research articles focused on the health benefits of broccoli, whether it be for cancer prevention, digestion, or heart disease.  It’s also packed with Vitamin C and K, and is also a great source of folate, dietary fiber, and many B vitamins.  Sure, I’m adding a little fat in this recipe via the olive oil, parmesan, and pine nuts, but I’m also adding TONS of flavor.  This recipe is perfect for a dinner party or just for an any night party in your mouth. 





    Lemon-Parmesan Roasted Broccoli
    adapted from Ina Garten

    Ingredients
    • 4 to 5 pounds broccoli
    • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
    • 5 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
    • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • 3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted (I did this in the toaster on tin foil while watching closely)
    • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    • 2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves (about 12 leaves)
    Directions
    Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
    Cut the broccoli florets from the thick stalks, leaving an inch or two of stalk attached to the florets, discarding the rest of the stalks. Cut the larger pieces through the base of the head with a small knife, pulling the florets apart. You should have about 8 cups of florets. Place the broccoli florets on a sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Toss the garlic on the broccoli and drizzle with 5 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned.
    Remove the broccoli rom the oven and immediately toss with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon zest, lemon juice, pine nuts, Parmesan, and basil. Serve hot.
    Sep 282011
     

    I really really love lentils.  I’m not really sure why–they’re pretty boring when you think about it.  But something about the texture and the fillingness and the fact that they’re awesome for you has got me to thinking what you can do with them aside from the usual lentil soup.  So when I stumbled across this lentil salad recipe, I knew I had to try it.  





    Amazing discover of the week–trader joe’s sells pre cooked plain lentils.  That made this recipe SO easy (not that cooking lentils are all that hard, but still, saves a step).  I combined the lentils with grapes, toasted walnuts, fresh thyme, celery, feta, and an olive oil/red wine vinegar/honey/lemon dressing.  So simple but so tasty!  I plan on bringing it for lunch all week.  And shout out to my jewish half–would be a perfect vegetarian side dish for Rosh Hashanah.





    Nutritional highlights: Lentils are packed with protein and fiber and are a great staple when you’re trying to create a filling vegetarian dish.  It can also be easily be made vegan without the feta.  The lentils aren’t the only powerhouse here–walnuts are a great healthy fat,  low fat feta gives us calcium, celery gives us fiber, and grapes are a great source of manganese.  The fresh thyme, red wine vinegar, honey, lemon juice, and olive oil gives this dish so much fresh flavor without adding much fat or sodium.  Enjoy this as a side or a vegetarian main.


    Lentil Salad with Walnuts, Feta, and Grapes
    adapted from Martha Stewart

    Ingredients

    • 2 1/2 cups water
    • 3/4 cup French or brown lentils
    • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
    • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
    • 1 1/2 cups seedless red grapes, halved
    • 1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
    • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
    • 2 ounces feta, crumbled (1/2 cup)
    • Coarse salt and ground pepper

    Directions

    1. In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add lentils, reduce to a simmer, and cover; cook until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and rinse under cool water. (Or buy precooked lentils! my new favorite thing!)
      Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together red-wine vinegar, lemon juice, and honey. Whisk in olive oil. Stir in lentils, walnuts, grapes, celery, and thyme. Add feta. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

       

    Aug 302011
     

    There’s something really perfect about the combination of tomato, basil, and mozzarella. One of those perfect trios like the Three Musketeers, Rock-Paper-Scissors, or Destiny’s Child.  So you may think, why add another ingredient–4’s a crowd. But in this case, it’s just making a classic combo even better. Roasted eggplant stacks with tomato, mozzarella, and pesto.  Sometimes more is more.





    The best part about this was it’s simplicity. The only somewhat involved step is roasting or grilling the eggplant, but then you simply stack with tomato, mozzarella, and (gasp!) store-bought pesto. Homemade is obviously better, but my meek little basil plant wasn’t quite up to that endeavor.  Serve as an app, salad, or double the stack for a meal!





    Nutritional Highlights: Tomatoes are filled with a powerful antioxidant–lycopene, plus tons of vitamin C. Basil has “flavonoids” that help protect cells from damage (like radiation) and has also been shown to have anti-bacterial properties, and this helps prevent unwanted bacterial growth. Nasunin in the skin of eggplant is an antioxidant that has been shown to protect the lipids in brain cells. Fresh mozzarella provides calcium and has less calories and fat than many other cheeses (in general, soft cheeses are better than hard cheeses). Basically, this is a healthy, seasonal, delicious appetizer or salad that will impress without leaving you exhausted!


    Ingredients:

    • 1 medium eggplant
    • 2 tablespoon each Balsamic Vinegar and Oil
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1 large tomato
    • Fresh mozzarella
    • Pesto (homemade or store bought)
    • Fresh basil and parmesan for garnish
    Instructions:  Preheat oven to 425.  Slice eggplant into 1/2 inch slices.  Now an optional step: Sprinkle the eggplant with kosher salt and let it sit for about a half hour.  This pulls out moisture and will help the eggplant hold its shape when cooked (but I don’t think skipping this step would be terrible).  Wipe off the salt and spread slices onto a sprayed baking sheet. Mix the oil, vinegar, and garlic and brush it on both sides of the eggplant slices.  Roast for 10 minutes, flip eggplant slices, and roast for another 10 minutes.  

    While eggplant cools, slice your mozzarella and tomato.  Create your stacks by starting with one piece of eggplant, top with tomato and mozzarella, and then another piece of eggplant.  Top with pesto, fresh basil, and parmesan.  Drizzle plate with more oil and vinegar to get extra fancy.  Enjoy!
    Apr 122011
     

     In case you didn’t know, March was National Nutrition Month!  I guess I’m a little late spreading the word, but better late than never, right? In honor of this important holiday, the hospital I work at had a healthy cooking demo with the head chef Pnina Peled(who’s been on Chopped a few times!) and a R.D. (registered dietitian for those of you that don’t know…and what I’m currently in school to become) about creative ways to prepare veggies.  This was one of the recipes she prepared, and it was so simple, colorful, and tasty that I had to give it a try.

    You’re going to be shocked when I tell you how few ingredients go into this–cauliflower florettes, chickpeas (optional), curry powder, olive oil, and salt (and I added some cayenne pepper for added heat).    This is a perfect snack or side dish…so curry up and make it (hahahah, get it? curry up?).  


    Nutritional Highlights:  The key point of the cooking demo was that just because it’s a vegetable, you can’t assume it’s healthy.  Do you like to cover your vegetables in butter, oil, or cheese?  Well you’re kind of missing the point there.  BUT,  did you know that the WAY you cook the vegetables influences their nutrient content.  For example, because many vitamins are water soluble, when you boil vegetables, all those nutrients seep out into the cooking liquid.  Also, cooking your vegetables too long reduces the nutrient content.  Therefore, the nutritionist suggested roasting as a way to preserve the integrity of your veggies.  Add a little bit of oil and lots of spices, like in this recipe which utilizes an incredibly heathy cruciferous vegetable.  So I guess we missed National Nutrition Month, but maybe we should try celebrating all year round??


    Curry Roasted Cauliflower


    Ingredients
    1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets


    1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (I used cayenne pepper for more heat)
    1 tablespoon curry powder ( or to taste)

    Optional–One can drained chickpeas (as dry as possible)

    Directions:  Preheat oven to 450.  In a bowl, toss the cauliflower pieces with oil and seasonings and spread on to foiled baking sheet.  Roast for about 20-30 minutes, shaking the pan halfway through. It’s done when the cauliflower is just tender and browned, and the chickpeas are slightly crisp.  Enjoy as a snack, side dish, or in a salad.