Apr 182012

Free time has been a little non-existent for me lately.  If I’m not at work, then I’m in class, or babysitting, or at a cappella rehearsal, or doing homework, or complaining about how busy my life is these days.  And as many of you can probably relate, when life gets busy, nutrition takes a back seat.  When I finally had a little time in the kitchen, I wanted to make something packed with the nutrients my body was missing, and something that I could get a few meals out of.  So I made this forbidden rice salad with edamame, sweet potato, red pepper, green onion, and sesame.

Let me tell you, this salad is awesome.  I can’t take full credit for the idea…it was inspired by this salad I’ve had at this cute little cafe in Chappaqua.  It’s flavorful, filling, and easy to make.  You can have it as a side dish with chicken or fish, or as on it’s own for lunch.  It’s a great mixture of texture and flavor–between the nutty black rice, the sweet and tender sweet potatoes, the crunch from the red pepper and green onion, and the light sesame honey dressing pulls it all together.  And it’s just a bonus that it’s ridiculously healthy.

Nutritional Highlights: I’m calling this a “superfood” salad because it has so many ingredients that keep popping up on those “healthiest food” lists.  Edamame is packed with protein, B and C vitamins, and is one of the few natural sources of vitamin E.  Red pepper has tons of vitamin C and A (carotenoids) and it also adds and important crunch to this salad.  Sweet potato gets it’s orange color from carotene, fiber, and works as an antioxidant.  Black rice is packed with antioxidants as well as iron and fiber.  Bonus–this recipe is vegetarian, vegan, AND gluten free, so it can satisfy all your dietary needs :)

Forbidden Rice “Superfood” Salad

For the salad-

  • 1 cup black rice
  • 1 large sweet potato, small dice
  • 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 cup shelled frozen edamame, thawed
  • Optional: chopped cilantro and sesame seeds for garnish
For the dressing-
  • 2 teaspoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
Cook the rice according to the directions on the package (for mine it was 1 cup rice to 1 3/4 cups water, bring to a boil and cover and simmer for 30 minutes).  Meanwhile, chop the sweet potato into small cubes, and toss with 1 teaspoon olive oil.  Roast at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.  
Cool the rice and sweet potato cubes.  Combine the rice, sweet potatoes, edamame, chopped red pepper and green onion.  Combine all ingredients for the dressing and toss with the salad.  Top with cilantro and sesame seeds and enjoy!
Mar 082012

Growing up, meatloaf was a dinner staple for my family(not to mention my dad’s all time favorite food). As we became more health conscious through the years we switched from ground beef, to lean ground sirloin, to ground turkey, to lean ground turkey. This version takes meatloaf to a whole new level, taking the meat out all together. And while some of you are trying to come up with meatless meals during Lent (or just in life), this is a perfect choice. I was excited that this super healthy protein-filled loaf was still packed with flavor, and dare I say even a little “meaty”. I think even dad would give it his seal of approval.

The beauty of meat (or meatless) loafs or balls or burgers is that you can pack so much flavor in and they’re so easy to make. This one has a few extra steps than an average meatloaf because you saute the veggies first, but it was still easy to throw together. Even though it’s missing the meat, it was still really filling, hearty, and satisfying.

Nutritional Highlights: This loaf has tons of protein and fiber from the lentils and oats, and tons of vitamins and minerals from the vegetables. While your typical meatloaf has saturated animal fats that threaten to clog up your arteries, this one is very low in fat. Plus, it’s both gluten free and vegan…double win! I know I say it like a broken record, but I think we could all benefit from cutting back on our animal protein intake, and by finding tasty, healthy vegetarian recipes like this one, it’s pretty easy to do. This

Lentil Veggie Loaf
adapted from Healthful Pursuit


  • 2 tbsp ground flax seeds
  • 6 tbsp boiling water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, diced
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup spicy BBQ sauce (make sure to choose a gluten-free or vegan variety if you follow one of those diets)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups cooked green lentils, split into 1 1/2 cups and 1/2 cup (I use pre steamed lentils from Trade Joes–A big time saver!!)
  • 1 cup gluten-free rolled oats, split in half
  • 1/2 cup almond flour (Confession: I used regular whole wheat flour because I didn’t have almond flour so my version wasn’t quite gluten free)


  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Add the ground flax seeds to a small bowl, pour the boiling hot water over and stir to combine well. Set aside and allow it to thicken and cool.  (If you aren’t vegan, you could substitute this step with one whole egg).
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the onion and garlic and sauté for 5-8 minutes until the onions are tender. Add in the mushrooms and cook another 3 to 5 minutes until the mushrooms are tender, add in the thyme and spinach and cook until the spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes. Add in 1/2 cup of the BBQ sauce, stir to combine and turn off the heat, add salt and pepper to taste, if it needs it.
  3. Process 1 1/2 cups of the cooked lentils and 1/2 cup of the oats in the food processor until smooth (some whole bits may remain, that’s ok). Spoon the mixture into a large bowl, add in the remaining lentils and oats, plus the flax “egg”, almond flour and vegetable mixture. Stir really well to combine. Then get your hands in there, just like you would with a regular meat loaf or meatballs, and make sure it is mixed and mashed together really well.
  4. Spoon the mixture into a parchment paper lined 9″ x 5″ loaf pan, (leave a bit of the parchment paper hanging over so you can easily lift the loaf out when it is cooked). Using your hands, you really want to press it in good. Brush on the remaining 1/4 cup of BBQ sauce over the top.
  5. Bake uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes at 375F. Cool in the pan for about 5, pull the loaf out by grabbing the sides of the parchment paper and lifting up and allow it to cool for another 5 to 10 minutes on a cooking rack. Slice and serve.

Dec 312011
Sorry I’ve been so MIA this week. I’ve been enjoying a long, belated Christmukkah/New Years weekend with my family in Chicago (and many of you know how I can go off the grid when in Lubin lockdown). I have a few recipes from our holiday dinner that I can’t wait to share (an amazing broccoli and a chicken marsala) but of course I left my camera cord back in nyc. But, I wanted to share at least one more recipe before 2011 has said see ya. So while we’re all thinking about our resolutions, one of yours might to be cut back on animal proteins. If so, here’s a crispy asian tofu I made a few weeks back in my food science class.
This method can work with essentially any marinade an flavor profile you want for your tofu. Step 1: drain the liquid out of the tofu. Step 2: create a kick butt (or should I say tush) marinade with lots of flavor for the tofu to soak up. Step 3: Thinly slice tofu and let soak in the marinade for at least 30 minutes. Step 4: Cook under the broiler (not too close so it doesn’t burn) for about 10 minutes or until brown and crispy, flipping the pieces half way through. This version would be perfect thrown in an asian salad or served with some brown rice.
A rough recipe for my favorite asian marinade: 
  • 2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • top with toasted sesame seeds and scallions

Hope everyone has a happy and healthy new year! And don’t worry, I’m going to get off my tush and give you plenty of New Years resolution recipes in the upcoming weeks!

Nov 172011

I think I brussel sprouts may be my favorite vegetable.  I know it’s a bold statement, as I hate to play favorites with my veggies.  It’s especially bold, because if you asked my mom, she’d tell you that she would often find them tucked in my napkin or under my cup when I was younger.  At some point, I had a brussel sprout revelation.  It was the probably the first time I tasted a roasted brussel sprout.  Not steamed, mushy, and cabbagy, but crisp, sweet, and tender.  And this recipe is an amazing version of roasted brussel sprouts–perfect for thanksgiving or any day of the week.

I especially like making brussel sprouts when you can find them on the vine like this–as fresh as you can get.  It looks a little terrifying, but you really just pop them off the stalk, wash, and cut as usual.  These were simply roasted with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then tossed in a yummy maple dijon vinaigrette. 

Nutritional Highlights:  Ever notice that a brussel sprout really looks just like a teeny tiny cabbage (so cute!)?  Well it’s in the same powerhouse family of cruciferous veggies.  Just one cup has 200% of your daily vitamin K (important for blood clotting) and 160% of your daily need for vitamin C (improves iron absorptions and protects you from free radicals).  There’s also research that suggests that brussel sprouts help protect against cancer…hooray! Cancer stinks!  So eat your sprouts!

Maple Dijon Roasted Brussel Sprouts
adapted from Closet Cooking

2 pounds brussels sprouts (trimmed and halved)
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
1 clove garlic (minced)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup almond slices (toasted)

1. Toss the brussels sprouts in the oil along with the salt and pepper.
2. Arrange the brussels sprouts in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Placing them all cut side down will lead to great caramelization.
3. Roast in a preheated 400F oven for 30 minutes, until they start to caramelize, flipping them once after 15 minutes.
4. Mix the oil, vinegar, maple syrup, mustards, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
5. Toss the brussels sprouts and almonds in the maple dijon vinaigrette.
Nov 102011

In the fall I find myself just trying to dream up new ways to use sweet potatoes.  Last year I made sweet potato falafel, fries, and chips.  I really just can’t get enough.  I’ve found that my favorite preparations are ones that combine some heat with the natural sweetness of the potatoes–no brown sugar and marshmallows here.  This is a filling, healthy, veggie burger recipe perfect for a sweet potato lover like me!!

Nutritional Highlights: Take a look at the ingredients we have in here: sweet potato, black bean, oats, quinoa.  Pretty powerful cast don’t you think?  We have plenty of protein from the quinoa and black beans.  Tons of fiber from the oats and black beans.  Plus beta carotene from the sweet potatoes.  These burgers are totally vegan (no animal products used).  This also means that they can be a little crumbly so be sure to pack the mixture tightly when forming the burgers.  These are spicy, sweet, and filling, perfect topped with some healthy fat from an avocado.  Also, they’re gluten free!  Promise they’re not flavor-free though!

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers 
Adapted from edible perspective
yields 8 burgers – 
  • 15oz black beans, drained + rinsed
  • 3c cubed sweet tater, cooked + skin on [~1.5lbs]
  • 1/2c frozen or fresh corn
  • 2/3c finely chopped onion [1/2 medium onion]
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/2c cooked quinoa
  • 6T rolled oats, partially ground
  • 2T sunflower seeds
  • 1/2t salt
  • black pepper
  • 1t cumin
  • 1t oregano
  • 1/4t coriander
  • 1t chili powder
  • 1/4t cayenne [optional]
  • 1T olive oil
  1. Preheat your oven to 375* once you finish cooking the quinoa + potato.
  2. Mash half of the beans in a bowl until paste-like.
  3. Add in the rest of the beans and give a very light stir/mash to combine.
  4. In a large bowl, mash the sweet tater.  Each cube should be mashed, but you don’t want it creamy.
  5. Stir in the salt, pepper, oregano, coriander, chili powder, cayenne [if using] and olive oil, until combined.
  6. Mix in the onion, garlic, corn, black beans, quinoa, sunflower seeds, and ground oats, until just combined.
  7. Taste, and adjust seasonings to your liking.
  8. Form into balls, between your hands and flatten into 1/2”-3/4” thick patties.  This should make 8 medium/large patties.
  9. Place on a pan lined with parchment paper [or lightly greased pan] and bake on each side for 15min, flipping once, half-way through.
  10. Remove from oven + serve! 
*If you want to refrigerate or freeze them, let fully cool on a cooling rack.  Place in a sealed container for the fridge, or wrap in saran, then foil, then in a bag for the freezer.  If reheating a frozen burger, let it thaw completely.  Re-heat in a greased pan, over medium heat for ~3-5min per side, until hot throughout.
*To make the ground oats – Pulse your blender on + off, until you have the consistency about half way to flour.
*Instead of ground oats, feel free to sub – millet flour, oat flour, quinoa flour, whole wheat flour, etc.

Nov 022011

I was wandering the aisles of TJ’s last week (that’s Trader Joe’s in case you didn’t know, but we’re on a nickname basis at this point).  Anyway, I was in the produce section at Trader Joe’s, stocking up on the usual items–carrots, apples, spinach–when I spotted this little festive-looking acorn squash.  I had no idea what you do with an acorn squash.  Was it decoration?  Can you eat it?  How do you cook it?  Intrigued, I threw him into my cart and brought him home.  After much contemplation, I decided to roast it, and stuff it with some delicious mushroom barley pilaf.

If you’re looking for a festive way to present a side dish around the holidays, I think we have just found it.  The flavor of the squash was relatively neutral–not as sweet as butternut but especially tasty on the roasted parts.  The star of this dish though is the filling. This deceptively healthy barley that I first made in my food science class a few weeks ago has already become a favorite.  It’s savory and filling, and gets richness from the mushrooms.  I would eat it in a squash, I would eat it in a bowl.  I would eat it here or there, I would eat it anywhere!  (See what I did there?)

Nutritional highlights:Say farewell to white rice and hello to barley.   A cup of barley has HALF of your days requirements for fiber.  Fiber does more that just what it’s famous for…it also helps lower cholesterol–Hooray!  This dish gets all it’s flavor from the onion, garlic, mushrooms, and herbs, not from fat.  It’s a filling and hearty dish.  If you decide to put it in the squash, Acorn Squash, like all our other winter squashes, is a great source of Vitamin A (via beta carotene), plus vitamin C and potassium.  When we’re eating so many rich things around the holidays, this might be a great addition to help fill us up without filling us out.  And more good news–this dish is vegan and vegetarian!

Roasted Acorn Squash


  • 1 Acorn Squash, halved and seeds removed
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper
Directions:  Preheat oven to 425.  Once you’ve cut and cleaned out the acorn squash, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Place face down on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes or until tender and caramelized.  

Mushroom Barley Pilaf:

  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1/2 cup barley
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onion (about 1/2 a large onion)
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 8 ounces sliced cremini mushroom (baby portobello)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 small scallion, minced
  • Fresh thyme
1.  Bring water to a biol in small saucepan over high heat.  Stir in barley and salt and bring back to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat to simmer, continue cooking for 45 minutes or until barley is tender.
2.  Meanwhile, heat olive oil in large skillet over high heat.  Add onion, reduce heat to medium, and continue cooking and stirring until union has wilted (about 3-5 minutes).
3.  Mix in garlic and dried herbs, cook and stir for 2 minutes.
4.  Add mushrooms and water to onion mixture, cover and cook on low heat for 10 minutes.
5.  Add soy sauce and shallot, cook and stir for 2 minutes.
6.  Add barley to the mixture, cook and stir until heated through.  Stir in some fresh thyme leaves for color and sprinkle a few more on top.
7.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

If stuffing in an Acorn Squash, spoon the barley into the squash and serve!
Oct 062011

My two favorite things about fall: 1- It becomes acceptable to eat soup again and I don’t sweat just thinking about it, and 2- My favorite fall fruits and veggies return, like butternut squash, pomegranate, etc.  So, I decided to combine those things I love about the cooler weather into one delicious and unique chili.  

It’s spicy and hearty like you want in a chili but with a hint of sweetness from the squash.  The swiss chard adds another fresh fall ingredient and makes this chili even healthier.  Topped with some cheese and avocado, it’s so filling and comforting…almost makes you forget that we are beginning the slow descent into the dark cold abyss that is winter. I’m getting ahead of myself though.

Nutritional highlights:  So many good things going on in this soup.  Butternut squash has carotenoids, a pigment with antioxidant properties.  The swiss chard is up there with spinach as one of the healthiest veggies out there and is packed with vitamin K, A, and C.  Like beets, chards has the phytonutrient betalin (which gives the red color).  Then we’ve got the main ingredient in the chili–black beans.  Like most legumes, black beans are full of fiber, folate, and protein.  Plus, leave off the cheese on top and it’s vegan.  And also gluten free if that’s important to you.  Making a pot of this gave me six healthy lunches to grab on my way out the door in the morning.  Saves money and calories! Double win.  

Black Bean and Butternut Squash Chili
adapted from epicurious

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled butternut squash
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed, drained (I substituted one of the cans of beans with a cup of frozen corn because I only had 2 cans of beans)
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 3 cups (packed) coarsely chopped Swiss chard leaves (from 1 small bunch)
  • Garnish: diced avocado, shredded cheese, cilantro leaves
  • Directions: Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic; sauté until tender and golden, about 9 minutes. Add squash; stir 2 minutes. Stir in chili powder and cumin. Stir in beans, broth, and tomatoes with juices; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until squash is tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in chard; simmer until chard is tender but still bright green, about 4 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle chili into bowls and serve.