30 Thu, 2010 § 3 Comments
one nutrient-dense dish.
Traditionally “Cottage” or “Shepherd’s” Pie was made with minced [also known as ground] beef or lamb with a crust of mashed potatoes. Throw in a few veggies, ample amounts of cream, sour cream & butter, & you have a simple & rich greasy modern version.
Nothing about traditional shepherd’s pie appeals to me, but after my grandma passed along a version using lentils, I knew I could make it even tastier & healthier.
By using lentils instead of the traditional ground meat, we still get a good dose of protein but without all the disease-causing, saturated fat. The fat that is present in my pie is primarily “healthy fats” from sauteing the vegetables in olive oil.
Swapping out white potato for sweet potato means your blood sugar will rise about 30 percent less during digestion. Sweet potatoes are also a good source of vitamin A & have more vitamin C, calcium & soluble fiber [& they taste better].
I was given two different caloric totals per serving when I tried calculating the nutritional information on two different online sources. 252 or 450. Honestly, when you are eating whole foods & listening to your body, you really don’t have to count calories like a mad person. Eat slowly & mindfully until you are satisfied.
This pie packs nearly 8g of protein per serving.
18.4% DV Iron
Nearly 9% DV Calcium
Loads of Vitamin A & Potassium
Vitamins C, E & B6
Zinc, Manganese & several other key nutrients
Over-the-Top Sweet & Savory Shepherd’s Pie
Preheat oven to 350*F
- ½ C dried whole French Lentils
- 3 medium Sweet Potatoes, washed & cut into small cubes [I left the skins on, but feel free to peel.]
- 3 large sections of Shallot, peeled & chopped
- 3 small Carrots, chopped
- 1 large Tomato, chopped
- 1 C Kale, chopped
- ½ tsp dried Basil
- ½ tsp Sea Salt
- ½ T Braggs Liquid Aminos or Soy Sauce
- ¼ C Rice or Almond Milk
- 1T Earth Balance Butter
- ½ tsp Sea Salt
Simmer Lentils in a pot with 1 C of water until liquid cooks out, ~45-50 min.
Mash with a fork.
Meanwhile, boil Sweet Potatoes in a pot of water until they can be easily pierced with a fork, ~30 min.
Once Lentils are cooked,
- On medium heat, saute Shallots in 2T EVOO until soft & translucent, 1-2 min.
- Add Carrots & Tomato, cooking until carrots are almost tender.
- Add Kale.
- Once Carrots are tender, add the mashed Lentils, salt, basil & Braggs.
- Stir & simmer, uncovered, until the liquid cooks off.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mash [or food process] the cooked Sweet Potatoes, salt, milk & butter with a fork or potato masher.
Layer mashed Sweet Potatoes over the top.
Bake 15-20 minutes until heated through & slightly browned on top.
*Our pie was a bit “over-the-top” because the sweet potatoes were larger than medium & really towered over the lentils [see first photo]. No complaints here; we love our sweet potatoes. I may use more lentils in the future.
*This is a great recipe for “late” work days, because it can be prepared & assembled beforehand & kept in the refrigerate until you are ready to bake it.
*I like the simplicity of the basil, but next time I will try substituting cumin, coriander — maybe even red pepper flakes. Use whatever you have on hand or suits your taste — including other vegetables!
*Not a fan of Kale? This is a great way to “hide” it from Dave ;). He really enjoys this dish. I started with ½ cup, then added more & still would have liked more. Feel free to add even more kale or use spinach instead.
*This dish nearly has it all: ample vegetables, a protein; the only thing missing is a whole grain. You could add cooked brown rice or another grain to the “filling”; or do like I sometimes do & enjoy an evening snack made up of whole grains.
What are your favorite make-ahead dishes? What nutrient-dense meals do you love?
4 Wed, 2010 § 10 Comments
I have had such great responses after sharing one of my favorite cooling, summer delights [VOO Parfaits], I must share another one that is even more nourishing:
Do not be afraid. What exactly is a Green Monster? This is what Angela over at OhSheGlows deemed her green smoothies when she first started making them. It has caught on, because, well, it is simply fun to refer to that smoothie in your hand as a Monster. Try it. “Hey, would you like some of my Green Monster?” See? It’s fun. 😉
While Kale is my green of choice, many people opt for Spinach which has a milder flavor; I have even tried Radish Greens which was surprisingly quite delightful. Start small by adding just a little green to your smoothies, then gradually increase the amount. Next thing you know, you will be gulping down full-fledged Green Monsters. Once you amp up your monster with other flavors, the color will be the only reminder of the green nourishment — oh, & how great you feel! I like the “green” flavor though, so I keep mine simple.
Once you eliminate a lot of “unclean” foods from your diet & provide your body with nourishing whole foods, you will be amazed at how your tastes adjust to what your body actually needs to thrive. I crave Kale in the morning! Dave thinks this is nuts, but then again, he has never given it a chance. His poor body does not even know what it is missing. 😉
I LOVE my Magic Bullet &, because clean up is a breeze, I have been making some form of these regularly since I got it. Obviously, any blender will do though.
The trick to not “chewing” your smoothie? First add your washed & torn pieces of Kale to your blender with enough liquid to cover; blend until smooth. THEN add the rest of your ingredients. I once read if you freeze the pieces of Kale before pureeing it with liquid, it blends better. However, this was not the case for me; I get fewer chunks by using fresh, non-frozen greens.
My simple Green Monster:
- *Coconut Water [Most use almond or rice milk; I prefer electrolyte-rich coconut water as my pre/post activity replenishment. Use whatever you like best & matches your goals.]
- ½ – 1 Banana [I love banana with kale — fantastic!]
- *Hemp Protein Powder
- *Chia Seeds
- more liquid if needed
Blend to desired consistency.
I told you mine is simple. Lately I have been adding a couple fresh strawberries as well or fresh mango & raspberries. The fruit makes it sweet enough for me. Nourish your body & eventually you will not want all the fillers, sugar, empty calories, etc.
Now make it yours!
Experiment with other fruit — or even veggies! I think cucumber would be especially refreshing. Sometimes it is fun to add nut butter — even tahini is delicious & bumps up calcium content. What about ice? Maybe you like yogurt in yours? Amp it up with cinnamon. Go crazy!
Have I told you why I love these so much?
- It provides me with immense increases in energy.
- It reduces my cravings for sweets.
- It even nourishes my skin & hair.
- It is a great way to add more protein in my diet by using the hemp powder.
- It is refreshing in this summer heat.
- Just one more serving of vegetables to tack onto my day.
*Are you wondering why I use…
This is the clear liquid inside young [green] coconuts; as they mature, this water is replaced by coconut meat & air. Coconut water has long been a popular drink in the tropics — Dave & I were thrilled to sip it straight from the coconut, fresh from the trees while in Thailand — it is a natural isotonic beverage, with the same electrolytic balance as our blood. [source]
You mean, like Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia!? Yep, those same little seeds that sprout to cover those crazy Chia Pets are actually chock full of nutritional value. Packed with calcium, fiber, Omega 3’s & 6’s, the seeds have a neutral taste & are great for athletes because they are highly hydrophilic [meaning they absorb large amounts of water, making them a great enhancer in hydrating our bodies]. You can even add a few seeds to your bottled water during workouts. Thanks for sharing these mom!
Quality — not quantity — is most important when talking protein. You will actually need to consume less protein if you choose high-quality [whole food] sources. Complete — containing all 10 essential amino acids — Hemp boosts the immune system, hastens recovery & balances pH with its abundance of chorophyll. Because hemp foods are raw, they maintain naturally high levels of vitamins, minerals…& enzymes which allow the body to absorb & digest it easily, utilizing its benefits with ease. Can I tell a difference? Yes, & I prefer the sweet, nutty taste to that of isolated [processed] soy & whey. [This is fairly condensed, but I could write an entire post on why Hemp is a superior protein source nutritionally & concerning its environmental impact if there is any interest ??]
I focus on keeping my Green Monsters simple & nutrient dense, but for those looking for a little more excitement or at least a few more ideas, check these out:
I am really excited to try Kathryn’s Breakfast Shake, sans Stevia [I am just not a fan. Sorry.]
Have you been making Green Monsters & not even realized it? What are your favorite blends?
3 Tue, 2010 § 6 Comments
Apparently the vegetables I most love & crave are also the most commonly despised. 😦
Caramelized Brussels Sprouts. Creamy Asparagus Soup. Roasted Beets. Sauteed Mushrooms. Steamed Kale. Wilted Collards.
Mmm. Don’t they deserve a shout out?
While Dave is coming around to some of these — ok one of these — he will not even consider touching the others. I have given up trying to create ways he might enjoy — or even tolerate — these. What is the point when he will not even taste a teensy tinsy bite?
Alas, I am left to savor these alone, so I take every opportunity to fill my lunch plates with these at home when Dave will not suffer from their presence 😉 Other than a little harassing, he is actually great about it; but, since we cook dinner together in the evenings, it is not exactly ideal to add caramelized Brussels Sprouts to the menu, when we could make something we both enjoy, like Cauliflower Steaks
This is my favorite way to prepare Brussels Sprouts for myself:
Caramelized Brussels Sprouts
- Wash, trim off the dry end [of the core], peel & discard any damaged leaves of about 10 Sprouts [obviously you can do more or less to your liking]. *To remove core, see instructions below.
- With stems down, slice the Sprouts thinly [this is supposedly the secret to making even B.Sprout haters fall in love — I cannot tell you if this is accurate — let me know]. Save & slice any leaves that fall off.
- Set aside.
- Over medium heat, saute 1-2 cloves crushed garlic in EVOO until fragrant.
- Add Sprouts & a dash of Mirin [Japanese cooking wine, but any white wine or broth should do nicely.]
- Saute for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. [Don’t skimp on the time as this is what caramelizes & gives them fantastic flavor. Add 1-2T of water to the pan to deglaze if they start to burn or stick.]
- Continue sauteing until Sprouts start to brown.
- Remove from heat.
- Toss with toasted sesame seeds — I bet substituting toasted sunflower seeds would also be nice.
- Season to taste with salt if you’d like.
*I just learned that removing the core will eliminate the bitter taste. Simply cut the Sprout in half & remove the core from each side by cutting a triangle, then slice thinly as above. This should make for a nice presentation of “strips” without any large chunks as well — though I kind of like the chunks. I am going to try this next time; if anyone tries it first, let me know!
Any hated veggies you must defend at home? What do you do when differing tastes arise? How do you not miss out & still keep the peace over great vegetable debates? 😉
29 Thu, 2010 § 5 Comments
A mere sampling of our car camping eats:
Angela’s In A Jiffy Curry Chickpea Burgers
The first time we had these, they kind of fell apart in the oven, but I loved the flavor. I do not know if it was the freezing before hand or the pan frying method, but they were an awesome arrival dinner our first night. The outside browned & crisped up just slightly. I’ll be making them like this at home. SO GOOD!
Process until smooth:
- ½ C Oats
- 2 Carrots
- 1 ½ tsp Curry
- ½ tsp Paprika
- ¼ tsp Tumeric
- ¼-½ tsp Sea Salt, to taste
- ¼ tsp freshly ground Black Pepper
- 1 tsp Parsley flakes [optional–did not use]
- 1 ½ C cooked chickpeas [add these as 1/2C increments]
- 1T coconut oil, melted
- 3T Sunflower seeds
- ¼ C Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
Wet hands & shape into patties. Angela suggests baking at 375* for about 20 minutes. Like I mentioned, freezing “raw”, then pan-frying seems to be the way to go though or at least finish them off on the grill if you bake them.
Flax & Oat Breakfast Power Muffins. Another treat from Angela [can you tell I have a blog crush on her yet?]
I love how I feel after eating these — not heavy & gross like many muffins leave me — but I will probably tweak this a bit, because I’m not completely loving the flavor & texture yet. If I discover a tweaking trick, I’ll share.
Veggie & Black Soy Bean Scramble in Rice Tortillas
Scape & White Bean Dip via Ashley, who is amazingly creative in the kitchen.
We love hummus, but it’s nice to switch it up a bit; white beans are usually our next go-to. The garlic scapes give this a nice, pale shade of green & make me think this would be an excellent dip to sneak in some spinach [no one will ever know] & make it even greener & more fun! We devoured this with raw cauliflower & Olive chips.
- 4 Garlic Scapes, chopped
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 2 C White Beans, cooked
- ½ tsp Sea Salt
- Pepper, to taste
Stream in 1T EVOO at a time, alternating with 1T water until you reach the desired consistency.
- ¼ C EVOO
- 2-5T Water
I wanted an afternoon-energy-boosting-snack that was not oat based [since the muffins were primarily oats]. This granola, with its complete protein quinoa, seemed the perfect fit. It was lovely sprinkled over large lunch salads. Mmm…strawberries & balsamic.
I checked midway through cooking & decided it needed dried cherries thrown in; I’m glad I did. This simple granola is not super flavorful, so the cherries amped it up some. This creative spin on granola is sure a party, but not exactly a party in my mouth. Next time, I’ll follow Ashley’s suggestion & add coconut butter in the mix; I might also swap walnuts for cashews, which Dave will like more. Even so, I can’t stop munching on it — it’s great with rice milk — so it must have something my body needs.
We never have wine — alcohol for that matter — while camping, because…well, I guess it’s just not our usual style. For this trip though, we found this 2007 “earth friendly” Cabernet Sauvignon from California & even managed to safely pack the wine glasses. Neither of us really cared for this particular bottle; we found it fairly acidic. Dave & I enjoy saving & writing on some of our corks; we display them in a bowl at home: mini-journals of special occasions, friends, events, etc. [Thanks for the awesome idea Julie!]
Essential for me while camping. It warms me up on those cold, cold mornings & soothes my tummy in the evenings. Camping seems to throw my digestive system for a loop; & next thing I know, it’s off & I feel less than terrific. Ginger & Lemon Tea does wonders for calming my tummy, & I’m anxious to explore other blends that may help. Though the weather was generally quite hot on this trip, I still enjoyed my tea by simply adding cold water or rice milk after it brewed. In the future, I think I’ll take fresh lemon to add to water in the morning like I do at home. This is an amazingly cleansing way to start off your day.
Raw Brownie Balls
Rich. Decadent. Glorious. These are a favorite indulgent from TKD that do not feel indulgent; raw desserts are like that — they just seem clean & nourishing even — so I make these often. These little beauties are even growing on Dave: from his first taste test came this reply: “kind of nutty” [not a lover of nuts in treats] ; this time: “mmm, chocolatey.”
Process until coarsely ground:
- ½ C raw Walnuts
Add & pulse until well combined:
- ½ C Pitted Dates
- ½ C Carob Powder
- ½ C Maple Syrup
- ½ C Organic raw Almond Butter
- ½ tsp Pure Vanilla Extract [I used half a Vanilla Bean]
- ¼ tsp Sea Salt
Process until thick & smooth.
- ½ C whole raw Almonds
-Pulse a few times until combined, keeping chunky for crunch.
-Allow to sit outside the freezer for a couple minutes before devouring 😉
To me they taste like heaven & brownies [hence the name alteration — she calls them Raw Balls, which just sounds weird to say to people].
I made about 17 balls [my “golf balls” are kind of small, so I can eat two at a time & not feel bad :P]. I could probably get 18 out of these by the time I scrape all the sticky batter & stop “taste testing” — did I mention — they taste like brownie batter!
What do you normally eat while camping? I’m anxious to try other meals & make more of our camping experiences “gourmet”. 🙂
28 Wed, 2010 § Leave a comment
You know those weeks when you spent way too much $$$ camping over the weekend; so, now you are left to recover by pulling out all the creative meal stops, using what you have on hand & sticking to minimal grocery shopping? This is such a week.
Sometimes shooting from the hip in the kitchen really pans outs though. It is kind of fun not knowing whether dinner will be a flop or turn into a favorite. Monday night’s whim was the latter. I have found the simpler you keep it, the better shot you have at a win; but don’t let that stop you from pushing your artistic culinary limits.
I simply sautéed a couple cloves of crushed garlic in EVOO; added a shredded carrot & half a shredded bell pepper with a substantial splash of lime juice; once the vegetables started to wilt, I added about 3 sliced mushrooms; once those were nearly tender I tossed in two servings of cooked soba noodles to pan fry. This whole process took only minutes.
We scooped this stir-fry-of-sorts into romaine leaves my mom was nice enough to donate & drizzled with Peanut Sauce. Not bad, not bad at all. To supplement, we finished off the Garlic Scape & White Bean Dip from our camping trip with the assistance of sliced baby cucumbers & Food Should Taste Good, natural Olive Chips.
- ¼C *natural Peanut Butter
- 2T Coconut Milk
- 1 tsp Red Chili Paste
- 2T Maple Syrup
- 2T Lime Juice [I got just over 2T from one lime]
- 1 tsp Tamari or a couple sprays of Bragg’s Aminos
- Splash of Grape Seed Oil [I would have liked to have used Sesame Oil but I only have toasted which I don’t care for the flavor.]
Whisk all ingredients together, thinning with water if necessary to desired consistency. [I did not add any water, but I used Light coconut milk which made it thinner.]
*We only use fresh-ground nut butters with nothing else added. If you are using conventional, jarred peanut butter, look for one with the simplest ingredient list & adjust recipes accordingly. If it already contains sugar or HFCS [which I urge you to eliminate from your diet], you might want to leave the maple syrup out; if it has salt, you might use less tamari/soy sauce.
19 Mon, 2010 § 8 Comments
So, what on earth is VOO? Vegan Overnight Oats of course 🙂 I love muesli, but often after a few days of eating raw oats, my tummy doesn’t seem to completely agree. It’s so hot out, cooked oatmeal does not appeal at all. This overnight stuff though? Perfect! After soaking the raw oats, my tummy agrees & my taste buds love it too!
Now, if you’ve heard of Banana Soft Serve & have yet to make it, kick yourself; kick yourself all the way to those unused bananas on the counter & make it. Gina’s right: it will change your life–& it’s too simple!
Each of these are terrific alone — & I would probably partake from time to time — but I was not ready for the amazement of VOO Parfaits: a combination of these two dishes. Wow, wow & wow. I can’t get enough, & it’s just what my body craves on these hot, hot, hot summer mornings [& some afternoons]. Here I have created a cooling, afternoon delight — with fresh figs from California — that Dave & I shared after a long, hot bike ride on Saturday.
I simply stir sunflower seeds & pepitas (pumpkin seeds) into my VOO; spoon half the mixture into the bottom of a deep cup, place half a chopped fresh fig over that, then layer with half the Banana Soft Serve, repeat.
Banana Soft Serve [are you ready for the simplicity?]:
- Bananas–however many you want–I use one as a small serving
- Peel, cut into pieces & freeze.
- Place in the food processor & blend until smooth, about 5 minutes, stopping to scrape down as needed.
Now make it yours! Mix in nut butter or other fruit [I want to try raspberries); almond or rice milk; chia seeds to thicken it; carob powder. Top with nuts, cacao nips, coconut flakes, etc. Or simply enjoy the simplicity of the frozen bananas, which is how I like it in my parfaits.
Vegan Overnight Oats [VOO] I usually just scoop/pour & guess, but here are some approximates I’ve adapted from Angela’s version; just play around & decide what you like best.
- 1/2C Thick-Rolled Oats
- 1T Chia Seeds
- 1/2dose(2T) plain Hemp Powder, or other [flavored] protein mixture [I’ve been forgetting to add this lately & need to make a point of remembering, because I want the added protein], optional
- 1/2C-1C Unsweetened Almond or Rice Milk [I error on the lower end because I like my VOO thick; I actually pour to just cover the oat mixture]
- optional stir-ins: cinnamon & sea salt [I think these are essential & accent the flavor greatly, but you decide], vanilla extract, other spices
- Combine all ingredients, whisk together [I think the longer you whisk the thicker it will be] & place in the fridge overnight.
- In the morning, give VOO a quick stir, adding nuts & seeds if desired.
17 August ~ Parfait Update!
I just made one of my favorite VOO Parfaits ever! Extra Whipped PB & J! Ok, so there really is no jam — though you could definitely stir that into your VOO — but the local strawberries I have are perfect. They are tiny, dark & sweet without being tart. Local produce is the best! Have you had PB Banana Soft Serve yet? It reminds me of those ice cream candy bars I use to have as a kid. Just blend Peanut Butter into your soft serve; I let it blend extra long today to give it a truly whipped texture. Yum. In general, I normally stick to Almond Butter but it is just not the same in soft serve. I am keeping a little PB on hand just for this. 🙂
16 Fri, 2010 § 1 Comment
Did you know peas are actually a pretty great source of protein? Just one cup of Sugar Snap Peas has about 10 grams. Paired with Edamame, in mere minutes, you’ve got yourself a perfect light, spring dish with a nice little dose of afternoon protein. This simple dish is from a great little cookbook, The Kind Diet.
- 2C Sugar Snap Peas, trimmed
- 1C frozen shelled Edamame, thawed
- 1bunch Radishes, trimmed & thinly sliced
Cook in boiling water for 1 minutes. Drain & rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. This is called parboiling.
- 1T EVOO
- 1 Garlic Scape, chopped
- OR minced garlic OR shallot OR whatever you prefer
Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic or shallot & saute 2 to 3 minutes until soft.
Add drained snap peas, edamame, radishes & 1/4 tsp sea salt; cook for 1 minutes or until heated through.
Remove from heat & stir in:
- 2tsp Lemon Zest, finely grated
- 1tsp Earth Balance butter
- 3/4tsp Umeboshi Vinegar (or other vinegar)
- Juice of 1/4 Lemon
- 1/4tsp freshly ground Black Pepper
13 Tue, 2010 § Leave a comment
You cannot imagine my excitement when I saw these beauties at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday!
What are they exactly?
As the familiar garlic bulb develops underground, a tiny shoot pops through, eventually becoming long & thin & glorious. Harvesting the scape allows the plant to put more of its energy into the bulb–& gives us these beautiful wonders to accentuate culinary attempts.
They taste like, well, garlic but with a lot less bite. Delicate & Delicious.
If you come across scapes–or are lucky enough to have your own garlic patch to harvest–rather than eying them with hesitation & fear, grab a handful & explore their flavor. Add them to eggs, pasta, rice, stir-fries & dips. I’m making pesto!
For my premier garlic scape experience, I added one to a simple Garlic Scape & Zucchini Frittata–made with local eggs of course 🙂
Fresh & simple–this is how I eat & cook–so I often don’t use exact measurements but rather cook by taste. I encourage you to do the same. Here are the basics for this frittata; but, use whatever vegetables you have on hand & prefer, use more egg (I like more vegetable than egg), different seasonings, fresh herbs–whatever you like–make it yours & have fun experimenting. Mushrooms, asparagus–par boil first–spinach, artichoke hearts are all excellent. I’ve found cooking frittatas slowly, using lower heat, keeps the eggs creamy & tender.
- I sauteed 1 chopped garlic scape in EVOO in a small oven-safe skillet on low-medium for 5 minutes or so.
- Added 1 small zucchini, sliced thinly with a vegetable peeler & sauteed until just tender yet still crisp.
- Whisked together one whole egg & one egg white with a pinch of dried basil & sea salt, then poured over vegetables.
- I left it over the stove for another minute or so.
- Then popped it in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes, until set (to my preference).
- I flipped on the broiler for the last couple minutes, because I enjoy my top & edges slightly browned.
- Slid it onto a plate & enjoyed with toast.
What has been your most exciting Farmer’s Market, CSA or garden find recently?