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.
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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.
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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!
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This will put your greasy take-out noodles to shame!
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Aug 052015
 

What’s this? A chicken recipe on tush cook? They’re pretty hard to come by around here, and that’s because I had been generally steering away from meat the past few years. But, I’ve been feeling a little low energy lately (which is NOT ok when you have just started your dietetic internship, which involves frantically running around all day seeing patients and trying not to screw up) so I thought I’d try out reincorporating small amounts a few times a week. When an AWESOME friend gifted me a week of meals with “Plated”, I thought that’d be a perfect opportunity to try it. And I have to say that this recipe reminded me that chicken can be pretty yummy. Also, cheese.
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First of all, these new programs that deliver ingredients and recipes to cook your own meals are pretty awesome. I know I’m in the minority in that I LOVE going to the grocery store (I am aware I have a problem) and coming up with recipes, but for people who don’t (ie, everyone else), these programs are a great way to get off your tush, add a little variety to your diet, and give your seamless account a break. This recipe for example gave me, a pretty frequent cook, a chance to use an ingredient I hadn’t before–baby artichokes. This recipe is simple but full of flavor, and perfect for any week night or even with guests.
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Nutrition highlights: Although I’m loving the meatless trends lately, I’m even more so a proponent of listening to your body and including everything in moderation. If you’re really feeling like a burger, maybe your body is telling you that you need a little extra protein/iron. Or maybe you’re just passing shake shack and you smell it and it’s all over, but that’s another story. At the same time, portion control is key, and one portion of meat is only 3 ounces (about the size of a deck of cards) so for this recipe I had half of the chicken breast and loaded up on veggies. If you’re looking for something different from your typical chicken recipes, this is a great one, and can be served over any combination of sautéed veggies you like (if the artichokes aren’t your trying).
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Fontina-Basil Stuffed Chicken with Baby Artichokes, Cherry Tomatoes & Spinach
Serves 2, adapted from “Plated”
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What’s in it:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons dry white wine
2 tablespoons vinegar (white win or red wine vinegar work well)
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 sprigs fresh basil, leaves removed and roughly chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
4-6 baby artichokes (if you don’t want to have to clean/prep them, just buy frozen or canned artichoke hearts)
1/4 cup shredded fontina cheese
2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves

How to make it:
1. Start by preparing the chicken. Cut the chicken breasts lengthwise (cutting almost all the way through but not quite to create a pocket). In a large bag, combine the mined garlic, oregano/rosemary, wine, and vinegar, and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes or up to 2 hours.
2. Meanwhile, prep the veggies. If using the baby artichokes, prepare them by cutting off the top third of the leafy portion and discarding. Then remove and toss about 3 layers of the tough outer leaves until you reach the more tender lighter green leaves. Peel the stems of the artichokes using a veggie peeler. Quarter the artichokes and scoop out the furry choke from the center. I know, it’s a lot of work but they’re super yummy! Save about 10 minutes by buying artichoke hearts frozen or in the can (although it’s not quite the same).
3. Remove chicken from the marinade and season both sides with salt and pepper. Open the chicken breasts and stuff with the fontina and half of the chopped basil. Close the chicken breasts.
4. To cook the chicken, heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and once hot, add the chicken, cooking for about 6 minutes until one side is browned. Flip the chicken breasts, cover, and cook for another 6 minutes. Check if the chicken is fully cooked. If you’re using very thick breasts and they need more time, cook for another 2-3 minutes per side until done. Set chicken aside and cover with foil or a pan lid to keep warm.
5. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan over medium-high and add the baby artichokes. Cook for 3-4 minutes without moving, then stir and cook for another 4-5 minutes until the artichokes are tender. Add the cherrry tomatoes and spinach and cook for 1 minute until spinach is wilted and tomatoes are warmed. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the basil.
6. Serve chicken over the sauteed veggies and enjoy. Bonus points if you stick to a 3 oz portion of chicken (probably about half of those monstrous breasts you get these days!
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Jul 072015
 

This just in–trends are no longer just for clothes, shoes, and hair. Food trends are taking the world by storm. Kale, for example. I’m pretty sure kale existed in nature before 2013, but I sure hadn’t seen, tasted, or juiced it before. Now it’s everywhere all the time (and I’m not mad about it). Don’t get me started on “bone broth”. And if I see another instagram post of a big fluffy donut or ice cream sandwich…well let’s be honest, I’ll probably just like it. And finally, the trend I’m talking about today–toast. So simple, so versatile, so delicious. I’m jumping on the toast train with 2 simple toast recipes: Avocado, Lemon, Chili & Sesame and Blackberry-Nectarine Ricotta & Honey.
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Guess how long it took me to make not one but TWO awesome toast varieties you see below. Just GUESS. 10 minutes, that’s how long. The key to toast success is three fold. One, you need perfect toasted bread. None of that processed pre-sliced stuff here. My favorite is something sturdy and seedy like a multigrain loaf. Two, fresh, simple toppings. Here I used avocado brightened up by fresh lemon juice, and ricotta topped with seasonal fruit. Three, texture and color. Don’t underestimate the power of some black sesame seeds, chili flakes, and lemon zest or toasted pistachios and a drizzle of honey to make your toast that much more exciting.
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The real beauty of the toast trend is that it can be eaten for any meal of the day. It can be a perfect breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, or even an impressive appetizer when you have guests over. You can add a poached egg on top for extra protein, or some fresh greens to get in an extra serving of veggies. The possibilities are endless.
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Nutritional Highlights: Toast is an amazing vehicle to get a variety of macro and micro nutrients into one meal. Using a healthy whole grain bread provides fibers and healthy carbs. My avocado toast has tons of healthy fat (adding an egg would up the protein too). The ricotta version has healthy fat and protein from ricotta (which is pretty low calorie compared to other cheeses at 50 cal per 2 tablespoons) and pistachios, and tons of vitamins from the fruit. Skip the honey if you’re watching your sugar intake, but I love the touch of sweetness. The other great thing about toast is it’s essentially just an open faced sandwich (duh) so you’re only eating 1 slice of bread instead of 2 to manage carbs and portions. I’ll toast to that.
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Two Perfect Toast “Recipes”
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Avocado-Lemon Toast with Sesame & Chili

What’s in it:
1 slice of thick whole grain bread, toasted
1/2 large avocado
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and Pepper to taste
Optional (but encouraged) toppings: 1/4-1/2 teaspoon each fresh lemon zest, chili flakes, and black sesame seeds, a few cilantro leaves

How to make it:
1. Toast the bread.
2. Meanwhile, mix 1/4 of the avocado with lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Slice the remaining 1/4 avocado thinly.
3. Spread the toast with the mashed avocado and then the sliced (note: using the mashed and sliced combo is for aesthetic purposes only…if you’re not serving this to guests feel free to just mash it all!)
4. Top with the chili flakes, lemon zest, black sesame seeds, cilantro leaves, and additional salt as needed.

Ricotta, Nectarine, & Blackberry Toast with Pistachios and Honey

What’s in it:
1 slice of thick whole grain bread, toasted
3 tablespoons ricotta
Fresh fruit: I used 1/2 nectarine and about 8 blackberries, but any berries/fruit would work!
Optional (but encouraged) toppings: 1 Tablespoon toasted pistachio (or other nut) and a drizzle of good honey.

How to make it:
1. Toast the bread.
2. Top with the ricotta, arrange fruit, sprinkle nuts, and drizzle with honey.
3. Eat.
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Mar 302015
 

In honor of Easter, I figured it was appropriate to make some “rabbit food”. Some really really tasty rabbit food that you should eat ASAP. This is my favorite hummus I’ve tried in a while, and the color is absurdly awesome. I’m hoping that if I make enough springy food, then the weather might catch on and stop being so miserable and cold. Wishful thinking…
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Homemade hummus- SO much better than the store bought stuff it’s not even comparable. The best part is it’s also SO easy to make. You throw things in a food processor and press a button, doesn’t get much easier than that. This recipe does have an extra step to roast the beets, but the subtle sweetness and gorgeous color it gives is so worth it.
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Nutritional highlights: Beets get that awesome red color from a phyto-chemical called betalain, which have mega anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification properties. Simply put, it does good things for your body and you should eat it. In addition to the beets, we also have lots of fiber and protein from the chickpeas, heart healthy garlic, healthy unsaturated fats from the olive oil and tahini. One thing to note about homemade hummus: it doesn’t last as long as the store bought stuff (because it doesn’t have any of those nasty preservatives, duh). So eat in less than a week…don’t think that will be problem. Extra bonus: This recipe is gluten free and vegan/vegetarian!
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Roasted Beet Hummus
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
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What’s in it:
1 large or 2 small red beets
1 can chickpeas (15 oz, try for the less sodium kind)
1 lemon, zested and juiced (about 1 tsp zest and about 2-3 Tbspn juice)
2 small cloves of garlic (or one if they’re mega)
1 Tbsp tahini
2 Tbsp good olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

How to make it:
1. Roast your beets (this can be done in advance or you can use a few left over beets). Preheat your oven to 400. Cut the beets in quarters drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast for about 40 minutes until beets are tender (check by piercing the center with a fork). Set aside to cool.
2. Rinse and drain your chickpeas in a colander (this helps get rid of some of the extra sodium).
3. In a food processor, add the cooled beets, garlic, half of the lemon zest, all of the lemon juice. Pulse to combine.
4. Add the chickpeas and tahini. Turn on the food processor and drizzle in the olive oil. Pulse until smooth.
5. If the hummus still seems too thick, add an additional Tbsn oil or water (for lower cal/fat) to thin it out.
6. Season with salt and pepper to taste and pulse again to combine.
7. Garnish with a few chickpeas, remaining lemon zest, and a sprinkle of sea salt. Serve with any assortment of veggies, pita, or crackers, and enjoy!
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Jun 202014
 

OK so maybe I’m not quite Jiro (yet), but I did finally learn how to make sushi! Sushi making has been on the “things I want to learn how to do” list for quite some time, so I decided to sign Jeff and me up for a class with Sushi by Simon. Not only was the class hands on and super fun (the drink tickets didn’t hurt either), but I also walked away feeling confident that good sushi is something I can do at home. Andddd so can you! (PS pardon the low lighting photos in this post).
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There are only a few special tools/ingredients you need for sushi making. The first is a sushi mat, which are very cheap and easy to find. We were told to cover it in plastic wrap to save the trouble of picking out rice from in between the grates later–great call. Second is not required, but encouraged–a rice cooker. Perfectly cooked and seasoned rice is the key to sushi success, so it might be worth buying a small one, although you can get away with stove top rice if need be. Third, and almost as important and amazing fresh ingredients and sushi grade fish. Most super markets probably won’t have sushi grade fish, so you may want to find a specialty market in your are. Be sure to ask your fish counter for sushi grade fish and tell them your sushi making plans–they will cut it differently than if you were going to sear a tuna steak. In addition to the tuna and salmon, we also used avocado, cucumber, pickled daikon (it’s a type of radish that looks kind of like a white carrot), masago (the orange fish eggs), and black sesame seeds.
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Now check out this rolling technique. I need you all to know that this is literally the first time I have seen Jeff cook in our six years together (no, easy mac does not count). I’ve got to say I was pretty impressed.
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A brief overview on rolling techniques here but you’ve really just got to try it out yourself. For standard maki (seaweed on the outside), line your HALF piece of seaweed long ways along the bottom edge of the mat (closest to you). Spread a layer of rice (using wetted fingers so it doesn’t stick to much) on the bottom 3/4 of the sheet of seaweed. You leave about 1 inch along the top with no rice to help in the rolling process. You then lay your ingredients long ways in the middle of the rice. As tough as it will be, don’t put too much in there or you will have a rolling disaster. Then put your thumbs under the mat and your other fingers on top of the ingredients to hold them in place. Roll the mat up, over, and down over the ingredients, creating a little rectangular box and applying some pressure to make sure it is tight. Then do it again to finish the roll. Here’s the first one we made–a simple cucumber roll which was great to get the technique down.
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For inside out rolls (rice on outside) the process is similar. Start by putting the same amount of rice on the seaweed and put on anything else you want on the outside like sesame seeds/masago. Then flip the sheet so the seaweed is on top and the riceless portion is at the bottom of your mat closest to you. Put your ingredients on this riceless portion and then roll the same way as before. Serve it along with soy sauce, pickled ginger, wasabi, and, if you must, spicy mayo. A little etiquette I didn’t know about sushi condiments. You’re not really supposed to mix your wasabi into your soy, but rather just put a little bit right on the roll. Ginger isn’t supposed to be eaten with the sushi but between pieces as a palate cleanser. Last, spicy mayo is just something Americans made up (duh), and it’s essentially mayo + srirarcha. Sounds like a lot of rules, but I say if you’re making sushi at home, screw it and do what you want!
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Nutritional highlights: Making sushi at home can be super healthy because you have control over the ingredients. You can use mostly veggies and healthy fish–no shrimp tempura here! You can also use a thin layer of rice rather than a ton, and substitute brown rice for standard white rice. The fish used are high in protein and omega 3 fatty acids (especially the salmon). Sushi is gluten free (as long as you use tamari rather than soy sauce) and can easily be made vegetarian/vegan by omitting the fish and loading up on veggies. Feel free to get creative and use a variety of raw and cooked ingredients and see what you can come up with!
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And here’s the required awkward selfie from sushi class. And guess who made which hand roll?
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May 042014
 

Mexican food is probably my all time favorite genre of food. I know it is a bold statement, but Mexican food has so much going for it. First of all, avocados can be involved in just about every dish, and this is a great thing. Plus, there’s always a great mix of bold flavors, colors, textures, and ideally an aggressive kick. Obviously, with Cinco de Mayo approaching, I was not going to miss an opportunity to make something fiesta-worthy. After wandering the isles of whole foods with absolutely no game plan, somehow I ended up making these absurdly delicious spicy baked plantain chips with tropical fruit and avocado salsa.
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The plantain chips were very simple, seasoned with olive oil, chili powder, garlic powder, and salt. The salsa was also simple and fresh–a mix of avocado, mango, strawberries, serrano chile, red onion, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice. This is the perfect appetizer for your Cinco de Mayo party. Or really any of the days of Mayo. Or Junio or Julio o Agosto. You get it.
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I had never worked with plantains before, but you should know that even though they look like a green banana, they are really more like a potato in flavor and texture. They have a slight sweetness but are very starchy, which is why they make an excellent and super crunchy chip. They don’t peel as easily as a banana, but if you just run a knife down one side through just the skin, you can peel it off relatively easily.
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Nutritional Highlights: This app is definitely a big health improvement from your regular chips and guac. Instead of fried tortilla chips, these are baked with only a little bit of oil. Plantains are high in fiber, vitamin B, A, and C, and potassium. The salsa is also super healthy–with tons of vitamins and antioxidants from mango and salsa, and healthy fat from the avocado. Your favorite guac and salsa at a mexican restaurant may be loaded with salt and leave you bloated and thirsty, but I didn’t even have to add any salt to this salsa, since it was so flavorful on it’s own! Added bonus–this recipe is gluten free and vegan!
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Spicy Baked Plantain Chips with Tropical Fruit and Avocado Salsa
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For the chips:
2 green plantains
2 T olive oil
1 T chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

For the salsa:
1/2 large mango, chopped
6 strawberries, chopped
1/2 avocado, cubed (or the whole avocado if it’s small)
1 small serrano chile, seeds removed and finely chopped
2 T finely chopped red onion
2 T finely chopped cilantro
Juice from 1/2 lime (or more to taste)

How to make it:
1. Preheat the oven to 400. Using a paring knife, cut a slit down one side of the plantain, just through the skin. Use your fingers to peel off the skin. Slice as thinly as possible on a diagonal, or use a mandolin to make thin chips.
2. Toss the sliced plantains with olive oil and spices. Spray a baking sheet with oil spray and spread the plantains in a single layer. Spray a little additional oil spray on top to help them get crispy and transfer to the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, turning the chips after 8 minutes and watching carefully toward the end as they can easily burn. Once they are browned and crispy, you are good to go!
3. While the chips are baking, make the salsa by simply combining all the ingredients. You can also make this in advance and refrigerate.
4. Let the chips cool and serve along with the salsa. Enjoy!

Note: these are best eaten right away but can be saved a day or two (although they will lose some of their crispiness).
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Feliz Cinco de Mayo, and enjoy this beautiful spring weather :)
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Apr 262014
 

Oh hey, Spring! So nice to see you again. I wasn’t even sure you’d ever come back after that miserable winter, but alas, here you are. So I thought I’d celebrate your return with a dish that screams spring–Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Arugula-Walnut Pesto. PS, never leave me again.
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Roasted carrots are one of my recent obsessions. Even just on their own with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, they are amazing. To be completely honest, this rainbow mixture I got doesn’t really taste any different, but it sure looks cool and rustic, right? So hip.
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I could have just stopped there, but the return of spring deserves something special. I decided to up the dish with a fresh arugula and walnut pesto to add a savory bite to the sweet carrots. It was a super quick pesto, made with arugula, toasted walnuts, garlic, lemon, olive oil, and parmesan. The combination was pretty flawless.
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And just when you think a dish can’t get any better, put a poached egg on top. It almost never fails. Runny yolks are magical. This is great if you want the carrots/pesto to stand on their own as a meal rather than a side dish.
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Nutritional Highlights: It’s hard to beat carrots in terms of nutrition. They give you about 200% of your daily vitamin A needs (via beta carotene), plus fiber, biotin, and and vitamin K to name a few. Carrots may help maintain eye health, and may prevent against cancer and heart disease. Also, if you buy organic carrots, you don’t even have to peel them, just wash and scrub off any stringy parts, which is awesome for the lazy chef like I am these days. Argugula is the other big nutritional star here. It is super low cal like most greens, but has a delicious peppery flavor and is packed with phytochemicals and folate. Walnuts in the pesto add healthy fat and a delicious nutty flavor.
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Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Arugula-Walnut Pesto
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For the Roasted Carrots:
2 pounds organic rainbow carrots (or the regular orange guys)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

For the Pesto:
3 cups packed arugula leaves
4 large cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup lightly toasted walnuts, a few reserved for garnish
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, plus a little extra for garnish
1/3 cup grated parmesan
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
1. Preheat the oven to 450.
2. Wash and scrub carrots but no need to peel if they are organic. Dry them off and lay out onto a baking sheet. Drizzle with 2T olive oil and rub so all the carrots are coated. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.
3. Roast for about 20-30 minutes, depending on how thick your carrots are, until slightly soft and browned.
4. While carrots are roasting, make your pesto. Combine the first 6 ingredients and pulse to combine. Drizzle in the olive oil and water, adding a litte extra if you think it is too thick. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. When carrots have finished roasting, lay them on on a serving dish and top with a scoop of the pesto across the center. Garnish with additional toasted walnuts and a sprinkle of lemon zest. Enjoy this amazing side and the return of Spring (finally!!).

**You’ll probably have extra pesto. I assure you this is a great thing. You can spread it on toast, top fish or chicken with it, toss pasta in it, or eat it with a spoon. Trust me, you’ll find a way to use it!