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?

Jan 202015

Are you needs for comforting, hearty foods to fight the bitter cold at odds with your attempt to desperately hang on to your New Year’s Resolution? If so, this is the recipe for you. In terms of comfort food, few things top a good hearty bolognese, so I attempted to make a meatless (gasp!), vegan (double gasp!) and super healthy version (ok, you get it). The shocking thing is, it totally worked.
Despite being totally meatless, this sauce had a hearty meatiness to it, from the lentils and mushrooms. In addition to those two star ingredients, there are a whole lot of veggies hidden in there too, like carrots, shallots, celery, garlic, red pepper, and tomatoes. A little bit of red wine adds an extra richness that the sauce needs.
The sauce also isn’t hard to make, and is all done in one pot like a soup or stew. I think the flavors continue to develop as it sits, so if you make this in advance and refrigerate it for a day or two it will be even more flavorful than if you eat it right away!
Nutrition Highlights: Not only is this sauce meatless (that is if you skip the parm I sprinkled on top, oops), it’s also packed with nutrients. First off, it has tons of fiber from the lentils and all the veggies. The lentils also give you folate, protein, iron to name a few. There are so many veggies in here that talking about all the vitamins and minerals in there would just take way too long, but trust me this is seriously good for you. Now as to what you serve it over, that is up to you. If you’re trying to be SUPER healthy, try spaghetti squash or spiralized zucchini (or a mix of the two like I did). If you’re not ready to cold turkey the pasta, go for a whole wheat version and watch the portion size. Either way, this warm, hearty meal will keep you full and happy for hours, without derailing your 2015 resolutions.
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Lentil & Vegetable Bolognese
makes about 6 servings
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What’s in it:
2 Tablespoons olive oil
5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3 or 4 large shallots, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
2 large carrots, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 stalk of celery, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
10 ounces cremini mushrooms, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
1 cup green lentils
1 tablespoon italian herbs (I used half fresh chopped thyme and half dried oregano, but use any that you like, fresh or dried)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 cup red wine
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
2, 14 oz cans diced tomatoes (low sodium or no salt added, if possible)
14 oz water (you’ll fill one of those empty tomato cans to measure)
Salt and Pepper to taste

How to make it:
1. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil then the shallots and garlic. Saute for about 1.
2. Add the chopped carrots, celery, and red pepper. Saute for about 4 minutes until veggies begin to soften.
3. Add the chopped mushrooms and saute for another 3 minutes.
4. Add the lentils and herbs and a little bit of salt and pepper to taste (and optional red pepper flakes). Saute for 2 minutes.
5. Add the red wine and satue for 2 minutes so the alcohol can cook off.
6. Add the tomato paste and stir to coat the veggie-lentil mixture. Pour in the diced tomatoes and fill one of the empty cans with water and add that as well.
7. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce heat to simmer and cover. Cook covered for an hour, stirring occasionally. After an hour, taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. If the lentils are not soft enough, continue to simmer a bit longer. Adjust the thickness to your liking by adding additional water if necessary.
8. Eat right away, or for even better flavor, refrigerate for a day or two before eating it. Serve over whole wheat pasta, spaghetti squash, or spiralized zucchini, or anything else you can think of!
9. Optional- top with some parm. You’re eating a bowl full of vegetables–a little cheese if OK.
Step 10- drink the remaining 7/8 ths of the bottle of wine. Your welcome.

Nov 112014

There is one great thing about the recent drop in temperatures…soup season is back! I typically stick to chunky vegetable soups and chilis, but I decided to see why people love creamy blended soups like butternut squash so much. I get it now.
I think butternut squash soups can be too sweet sometimes, but not this one. It was loaded with spicy red curry paste, and savory garlic and onions, to contrast with the sweetness from the butternut squash and coconut milk. Topped with some crushed peanuts, pomegranate seeds (it works, I swear), and cilantro leaves, this was the perfect lunch all week long.
Nutritional highlights: Butternut squash, like many winter squashes, is packed with beta carotene, which can be used in the body like Vitamin A, promoting healthy vision. It also has a lot of fiber, good for keeping things regular as well as lowering cholesterol. This soup is creamy, but still totally vegan! Light coconut milk and the natural starches in the squash give it the creamy texture we’re looking for without adding too much extra fat. The oil used in this soup is also coconut oil, which is a hot item right now. The research is still new, but coconut oil may be helpful with heart disease prevention, weight loss, and keeping our immune systems at their best (which we could all use this time of year).
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Thai Red Curry Butternut Squash Soup
makes 6 small or 4 large servings
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What’s in it:
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 onion (yellow or vidalia), chopped
1-2 teaspoons (depending on preference) grated fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 5 cups)
1 14-oz can light coconut milk
1/4 cup red curry paste
1/4 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
Juice from 1 fresh lime
Toppings: Cilantro leaves, chopped peanuts, pomegranate seeds

How to make it:
1. In a large pot over medium heat, head the coconut oil.
2. When it’s melted, add the onions and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the ginger and curry paste, and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
4. Add the squash cubes and vegetable broth. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until the squash is softened, about 20 minutes.
5. Let it cool slightly, and blend the soup until smooth (using an immersion blender or by transferring to a blender).
6. Return mixture to the pot and stir in coconut milk, lime juice, and salt (adding more to taste). Cook the soup on medium/low for another 10 minutes until it’s warm throughout.
7. Serve topped with peanuts, pomegranate seeds, and cilantro leaves. Enjoy!
You can store leftovers in the fridge for about a week, or freeze extra portions for your winter hibernation that we all know is coming.
Stay warm!

May 272014

If you’re a regular tush cook reader (hi, mom), you have probably noticed that I don’t make a whole lot of Indian food. It’s not that I have anything against it, but more that I find it a bit daunting. With other types of food, I feel like I understand the flavors enough to whip something up without a recipe, but I just don’t know where to begin with Indian spices. So why, you might wonder, was I inspired to make this dish? Well, a month ago my fiance left for India (am I that much of a bridezilla already?). Really it’s just for work, and thankfully he’s back in just a few days, but I still wanted to make something to feel a little closer to him while he’s halfway across the world. Without the food poisoning.
One thing that I do love about Indian food is that most of it is vegetarian. Another big plus is that most of it is spicy and has bold flavors. This recipe was all of those things and more–loaded with veggies, just spicy enough, and incredibly comforting. The kind of comforting you need when your fiance leaves for a month!
Nutritional Highlights: This recipe is both healthy and filling. It’s vegan and gluten free too! The lentils provide protein and fiber, and the greens (spinach or kale) and cauliflower give tons of vitamins. Garlic and onions are associated with heart health and ginger a happy GI tract (which I’m sure comes in handy when you’re traveling in India). There’s not a single unhealthy thing about this dish…well, aside from the quantity of naan I dipped in it while eating it.
Coconut Red Lentil Dal with Roasted Cauliflower
serves 4-6
adapted from Gourmet
What’s in it:

1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 jalapeño or serrano chile, finely chopped, including seeds (Note: if I made this again I would up it to 2 jalapenos)
2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups dried red lentils (10 oz)
1 (13- to 14-oz) can unsweetened coconut milk
1 14 oz can no salt added diced tomatoes
3 cups packed dark green leafy greens, like kale or spinach, roughly chopped
1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro sprigs
Juice from 1-2 limes
Roasted cauliflower (see recipe below)
Optional Accompaniments: brown rice or whole wheat naan

How to make it:

1. Cover red lentils with water and allow to sit for about 30 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients. Strain before use.
2. In a large pot, heat 1 T oil and cook onion, stirring occasionally, until edges are golden, about 6 minutes. Add ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add cumin, coriander, turmeric, salt, and chile and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
3. Stir in vegetable broth, drained lentils, diced tomatoes and coconut milk, then simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes. Stir in the kale and simmer, covered, until tender, about 5 minutes.
4. Squeeze in juice from one lime and taste. Season with additional salt or add more lime juice as desired.
5. Serve with roasted cauliflower and cilantro sprigs scattered on top. Enjoy!

For the Roasted Cauliflower:

Preheat oven to 450. Cut 1 small head cauliflower into floretes (or about 3 cups prepared floretes). Drizzle floretes with 1 T olive oil and season with salt and pepper (feel free to add any other spices as well). Roast for about 20 minutes or until tender and brown.

Jan 112014

This is definitely one of the craziest winters I’ve seen in a while. In New York it has gone from 10 to 60 degrees over the course of the week. When I checked on the weather in Chicago earlier in the week to see how my family was doing , it said the “real feel” was -41. How does one even feel that? Anyway, it was a perfect week to try out my new slow cooker. I came up with this Tuscan Kale, White Bean, and Turkey Sausage soup, and it was the perfect thing to get me through this crazy week.
Nutritional Highlights: This soup is pretty nutrient packed. Kale is an amazing source of fiber and calcium, white beans have more fiber and protein, and the turkey sausage give you a little extra lean protein. You could leave out the sausage for a vegetarian soup, but if you do that’d I’d up the seasonings a bit. Best part about it is it’s almost completely hands off…just brown the turkey and throw everything else as is into the slow cooker and let it rip. This soup will definitely keep you full, warm, and happy this winter.
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Tuscan Kale, White Bean, and Turkey Sausage Soup
makes 5-6 servings
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What’s in it:
1 lb hot turkey (or chicken) italian sausage
1 small sweet onion (or 1/2 large), finely chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 tablespoon italian herbs
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
2 14.5 oz cans white beans (cannellini), rinsed and drained
2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted)
3 cups low sodium chicken broth (more or less according to desired thickness)
6 cups roughly chopped kale
optional (but encouraged): 1 parmesan rind (I always save the ends of my parmesan to use in soups. Adds such great flavor!)

How to make it:
1. Remove turkey sausage from casings and brown in a skillet over medium high heat. Break it up into small pieces as it cooks. Once brown, drain off excess fat and transfer cooked meat into your slow cooker.
2. Add the remaining ingredients except the kale and stir to combine.
3. Turn on your slow cooker to the 6 or 8 hour setting depending on how much time you have.
4. An hour before it’s done, add in the kale. Also, taste and season with salt, pepper, and red pepper as needed (I didn’t think this needed salt since it got plenty from the canned ingredients and sausage).
5. Serve topped with parmesan and with crusty whole grain bread. Enjoy!

Apr 202013

Spring has sprung, and so has my annual spring cold (womp womp).  Apparently “spring fever” isn’t just a phrase?  Instead of enjoying the blossoming flowers and frolicking in the sunshine, I’ve been laying in bed coughing my brains out.  But today it was so great out that I loaded up on cough syrup and took a walk to the farmers market and grabbed some amazing spring produce for a spring minestrone.  

My favorite of these ingredients is this–green garlic.  So gorgeous and so much garlicy flavor.  In addition to the garlic, this soup has asparagus, peas, artichoke hearts, purple potatoes, carrots, swiss chard, green onions, and chickpeas.  You can honestly use any combo of veggies you want, that’s what I like so much about minestrone.  The soup came together in less than an hour, and was so fresh and flavorful. 

Nutritional:  I may have potentially discovered the cure for the common cold with this one.  It’s so packed with nutrients that you body will be all like “bring it on cold, I got this”.  This recipe (before I added the pesto crostini) is also gluten free and vegan.        

Spring Minestrone 
adapted from Simply Recipes
(Serves 4-6)

Feel free to add or remove any vegetables per your preferences!


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 8 green onions
  • 3 green garlic stalks, or 3 large garlic cloves
  • 1/2 pound baby potatoes, or Yukon gold potatoes cut into chunks
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 quart vegetable or chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 pound artichoke hearts (fresh or frozen), chopped roughly
  • 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas
  • 1 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 cups greens (dandelion, chard, spinach, kale, arugula, etc), sliced into thin ribbons
  • 1 handful fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • Optional garnishes:  grated parmesan cheese and pesto (or make whole wheat pesto crostini like I did, general instructions below)


1 Chop the green onions and green garlic and separate the white and light green parts from the green tops. If you are using regular garlic cloves, put them with the white parts of the green onions. Slice the potatoes and artichoke hearts into chunks you would want to eat with a spoon.
2 In a large pot set over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil for 1 minute. Add the white parts of the green onions as well as the garlic and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the potatoes, stir to combine and cook 1 minute.  Add the carrots, stir to combine and cook 1 minute.  
3 Add the diced tomatoes with their liquid and the quart of vegetable or chicken stock. Bring to a simmer, add salt to taste, then cover and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.
4 Add the artichoke hearts and cook another 5 minutes, then add the chickpeas and green peas and cook another 5 minutes. Remove the cover from the soup and add the asparagus. Cook 2 minutes. Add the greens, basil, and the green parts from the green onions and green garlic, if using. Stir well to combine and cook 1 minute.
5 Turn off the heat and serve topped with grated cheese (and along side pesto crostini!).
For the pesto crostini, preheat oven to 400.  Bake whole grain baguette slices for about 10 minutes until crispy, turning once.  Spread each piece with pesto and sprinkle with parmesan (and red pepper flakes if you want).  Switch oven to broil and return to the oven for 2 minutes so parmesan melts.  Serve along with the soup.  
Happy Spring!

Feb 102013

If I had to sustain on one food all winter long, without any doubt, it would be chili.  I love every variety out there- veggie, chicken, turkey, beef, you name it.  It’s spicy, hearty, filling, warming, and can actually be super healthy.  I decided to make a vegetarian version using lentils, which I decided would mirror the texture of ground meat.  And to add a little extra pizazz, a whole bottle of beer went into this recipe…so you can have your beer and eat it too (or something like that).  It’s a perfect meal to stay warm during a blizzard named after a cute animated fish, for example.  

Another reason I love chili so much is because it’s really quick and easy to make–an hour in the kitchen will leave you with at least 6 meals that you can eat immediately or freeze for a rainy (or snowy) day you want a quick meal.  Another huge benefit–it’s very budget friendly.   This is especially great, because I’m starting a school project that involves eating for a week on the budget of someone on SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program…formerly known as food stamps).  Stay tuned for a post next week to see how it went and if I stayed within my $46 budget for the week!

Nutritional Highlights:  This recipe proves that you don’t have to eat meat to get plenty of protein and iron.  The lentils and two types of beans in this recipe give you all that and more–and the more part is tons of fiber.  This recipe also has other healthy vegetables like bell peppers, tomatoes, corn.  With a little low fat cheese, avocado, and cilantro on top, it’s an amazing well balanced vegetarian meal that will keep you full for hours.  It’s also gluten free, and can be vegan if you leave off the cheesy topping (but that’s not something I’m willing to do right now).  

Vegetarian Lentil and Bean Chili (with beer!)

1 cups dried lentils (or 2 cups already cooked lentils)
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped

5 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 tablespoons chipotle hot sauce (can substitute chopped chipotle in adobo)
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 orange or red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

2 cans of beans- I used black and kidney but any are fine!
1 cup frozen corn
1 bottle of beer

option toppings:
shredded cheese 
avocado, sliced 
tortilla chips
scallions, chopped
cilantro, chopped
lime wedges

If using dried lentils, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the lentils and cook for 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.  If using already steamed lentils (my favorite shortcut) skip to the next part.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and satue for 3 minutes.  Add the bell pepper and jalapeno and sauté until the peppers are tender, about 3 more minutes. Stir in the spices (chili powder, cumin, salt, and chipotle hot sauce) and cook for 3 minutes.  Pour in the beer, crushed tomatoes, cooked lentils, beans and corn. Simmer on low for 20-30 minutes. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Eat chili immediately or refrigerate and eat the next day–I think it’s even better on day 2 because the flavors have more time to intensify.  

Serve with any of your favorite toppings and enjoy!