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Archive for the ‘Vegetables & Fruits’ Category

**Update on this** I tried making these on the grill tonight to avoid running the oven in the summer heat.  They were great!  Slice as instructed below and put in a pot of boiling water for about five minutes (heat up the grill while the water is coming to a boil).  Drain and dry on towel for a minute.  Toss in olive oil and a little cumin and paprika and put on a grill pan.  Grill over medium high heat for about 5-8 min per side.  I found about 6.5 min on each side was perfect for mine!

I have to admit, I have been struggling with the Paleo diet lately.  I’ve been having the same thing almost every day (fish and vegetables or meat and vegetables) for dinner and a salad for lunch, eggs for breakfast.  The routine has become a little mundane and I just feel like I need to shake it up.  You can probably also infer that this is the reason I haven’t been posting as often, I mean how much can you right about a piece of meat with asparagus, cherry tomatoes, and broccoli on the side, right?

Well, today while I was searching for some new and exciting recipes for dinner (there will be a Paleo-ish pizza for dinner tonight!), I stumbled across a recipe for Sweet Potato Rounds on one of my current favorite blogs, Everyday Paleo, (originally coming from Nutritionize – which is a new discovery!) that reminded me of my favorite home fries that I used to get at Aunt Sarah’s growing up.  I knew that I had to give them a try.  While I try not to have sweet potatoes too often, they say that people who work out a lot can work them in every once in a while.  Since I definitely qualify in that category, I am having some sweet potato home fries!

I will also add that I was skeptical of this recipe at first as I wasn’t sure how they would turn out – I’ve had mixed results in the past with some of my sweet potato recipes. It did not disappoint.  I couldn’t stop eating them – I kept going back for more!

Sweet Potato Home Fries

1 sweet potato, sliced into quarter inch rounds

2 egg whites

1 tbsp olive oil

A variety of spices (any mix can be used, but I used 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp hot chili powder, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp oregano)

Salt or salt blend (I used a creole salt blend I had in the cupboard)

Black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prep a cookie sheet with a piece of lightly greased tinfoil.

Whisk together the egg whites, olive oil, and spices (except the salt).  Dip the potato rounds one by one into the spice mixture until coated and place on cookie sheet.  Sprinkle the whole try lightly with the salt.

Cook for 20 minutes, flipping once.  Then, if you want them a little more crispy and browned, switch to the broiler for 5 minutes at most (keep an eye on them as they will brown fast).

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Parsnip “Fries”

I love to serve these along side my Paleo chicken salad for a tasty and balanced lunch.  I found this recipe from Aarti Sequeira from Food Network that I had to try because I do miss fries.  I didn’t set my hopes high but was surprised when I ended up loving these!  They are definitely a little softer and sweeter than fries, but the Garam Masala adds such an interesting flavor that I didn’t mind at all.  The beauty is that they are Paleo friendly and actually not fried in any way.

I just make a quick lunch size portion for myself, so adjust as necessary.

1/2 large parsnip, cut into fry size chunks (about 1/4 inch think)

2 tbsp grapeseed oil (you can also use olive oil or any other good oil!)

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp garam masala

A pinch of salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 F.  Put all of the ingredients in a plastic bag (I used a quart size ziploc bag) and shake away.  Make sure all the ingredients get coated.

Dump the parsnips onto a foil lined baking sheet and back for about 15-20 minutes – keep a close eye on them though as once they start cooking they can burn fast and all ovens are a little different.

If I weren’t doing Paleo, I would suggest serving them with a Chipotle Ranch dipping sauce – very nice combination.

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It’s a snow day!  I wish that meant that I didn’t have to work, but unfortunately through the magic of VPN there is no such thing as a real snow day anymore.  That being said, the ground is covered in snow, I haven’t been able to leave the house all day, and I just feeling like cooking up something warm and comforting.

My dog on the other hand (who usually will not set foot in the grass without a treat being thrown) seemed to be in heaven.

Who would have thought?  Well, anyways, I love Risotto.  When I stumbled across this barley risotto recipe on Smitten Kitchen, I had to try it.  I have made it about a million times by now exactly as written, but I’ll share with you here my variation.

Serves 4-5

Nutritional Value (Based on 5 servings)

5-6 cups vegetable or chicken broth (I used home-made veggie)

1 tbsp olive oil

1 medium sweet onion, diced

1 large carrot, peeled and chunked (I did little cubes)

7 oz pearled barley

1 tsp sage

1 tsp thyme

1/2 cup white wine (you can sub this with broth but the wine adds a unique flavor)

Half a bunch of asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces

1/2 of a zucchini

1 can mixed beans, drained and rinsed (you can use any beans you want or omit them altogether – sometimes I cook dried beans in the slow cooker and add them in)

2 tbsp butter

1/2 cup parmesan

salt to taste

In a pot on the stove, bring the broth to a boil.  Once bubbling, reduce heat and keep warm  (you need this to be hot as you add it to the pot of risotto, 1/2 cup portions at a time).

In a separate heavy-bottom pot (I used a dutch oven), heat the olive oil.  Once hot add in the onion and carrot and cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 min.  Add the barley and let cook for about one minute.  Add in the wine (or broth – your choice).  Reduce the heat to medium and stir the risotto until all liquid is absorbed.

In a separate pot, bring water to a boil and cook the asparagus for 4 minutes (I actually cook it right in the pot where I am keeping the broth warm instead).  After 4 minutes, use a slotted spoon to take the asparagus out and put straight into a bowl of ice water to keep the asparagus from cooking further.  Remove asparagus from water and set aside.

Add 1 cup broth (from the heated pot), and cook until the liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently.  Keep adding the broth in half cup portions and cooking until absorbed (about 8 portions, but you may need more), the barley should start to get more tender and the liquid will start to get thick and dense and will no longer absorb all the way – this usually takes about 4o minutes when I am making it.  The barley will still have a little bite to it as it doesn’t get as soft as rice gets (I love the texture).  Add the zucchini, asparagus, and beans and stir.  Add another 1/2 cup broth and cook for about 4-5 more minutes, until the zucchini is softer.

Remove from heat and add the butter and parmesan.  Let sit for a few minutes and then stir to incorporate it all together.  Portion it out into a bowl and top with more cheese.

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I am always in search of the perfect veggie burger.  The pre-made variety you can get at the store are good, but they are so expensive and I personally would rather know everything in what I am eating.  I have a couple of recipes that I have tried and thought were decent over time, but this was the first one that made me really feel like I was eating something special.  I followed this recipe pretty closely from The Golden Yoke.  It looks like the original recipe came from Moosewood Restaurant’s: Cooking for Health, but The Golden Yoke writer really brought it to life with the great photo’s.

I shook the recipe up a little by using the Maple Bacon flavored Tempeh.  I really think it added a nice kick and gave the burgers a smoky flavor.

I used the leftover sweet potatoes to make sweet potato chips (cooked them right next to my burger but had to take them out a little earlier so they didn’t get burned!).

Nutritional Value (I plugged the recipe into Calorie Count – based on 8 servings)

Serves 6-8

1/2 cup quinoa

3/4 of a large sweet potato, sliced very thin on a mandolin if possible

1 cup water

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 green bell pepper, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic

8 oz tempeh, broken into chunks – I used the maple bacon flavor – makes it smokey and a little sweet

1 tbsp Worcestershire

2 tsp oregano

1 tsp sage

4 tsp soy sauce

2 tbsp tomato paste

2 tbsp Dijon mustard

Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Start by putting quinoa and sliced sweet potatoes in a pot and cover with the cup of water.  I had to add just a touch more water to cover the sweet potatoes and quinoa.  Cover and bring to a boil, cook for 15 – 20 minutes.  Make sure the quinoa is cooked and the sweet potatoes are soft.

Meanwhile, heat a large saute pan and add the onions, green peppers, garlic and tempeh (I just chop and add in that order as I’m done chopping each).  Add in the Worcestershire, oregano, and sage, and soy sauce.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  When the onions are translucent and most of the water has cooked out of the vegetables (7-10 minutes), stir in the tomato paste and mustard.  Remove from heat.

Grab the pot of quinoa and sweet potatoes off the stove, drain as much water from the quinoa/sweet potato mixture as possible.  Mash together.

Combine the quinoa/potato and onion/pepper/tempeh mixture together.  Let cool in the fridge for 30 min – 2 hrs to cool.  To make all the burgers the same size, scoop out a half cup of the mixture and form into a patty, the size of the buns you will be using.

Because I only needed to make one for lunch, I formed all of the mixture into patties and cooked them all for about 40 minutes (I found after thirty they were still a little soft).  At this point, I froze off all but one.  I actually found that after freezing, the patties hold together much better.  I just pop them in the microwave to reheat them.

For the sweet potato chips, I just tossed the sweet potato slices in a little extra virgin olive oil, paprika, chili powder, salt and pepper and put them on the tray with one of the veggie burgers.  I had to pull a few off early as they crisped up very quickly and cooked at slightly different speeds.  They were SO good!  Sweet, salty, spicy.  All delicious.

I ate the burgers this time with just ketchup and mustard but think they would be tasty in a pita with cucumber,tzatziki, hummus and tahini as well.

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It’s not pretty, it’s probably not following tradition, but it is tasty.  This is by far and away my “go-to” dish.  The sweet, salty, spicy combination of crunchy vegetables atop a pile of rice is practically heaven for me.  It took me years to perfect this recipe to my liking as I could never find a version that came out quite right before I just started experimenting on my own.

The key for me?  I make it more like lettuce wraps in that I chop the veggies very small so everything kind of blends together.  I always add small diced celery as it really gives it the unique and crunch flavor I crave.  Sometimes, instead of putting this on rice, I put it in lettuce cups instead – perfection either way.

So here it is, take it for what it’s worth.  Make any vegetable substitutions you prefer – but as I mentioned – don’t leave out the celery (even if you aren’t necessarily a fan of it normally – like me).

Serves 2-3

1 tbsp olive or sesame oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

1 zucchini, finely chopped

1/2 green or red bell pepper, finely chopped

1/4 lb snow peas, sliced in 1/4 in chunks

1/4 cup peanuts, chopped

1-2 garlic cloves

1 inch piece ginger, minced (you can peel the ginger root with a spoon and save the leftover in the freezer)

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

2 tbsp reduced sodium soy

2 tbsp hoisin

Brown or white rice cooked or serve in lettuce cups

In a pan over medium high heat, heat oil.  Once nice and hot, add in the onions and carrots, cook for 2 min.  Add the rest of the veggies, peanuts, garlic, ginger, and red pepper.  Stir fry for about 6-7 minutes or until veggies are still a little crunchy.  Add in hoisin and soy – you can add more or necessary depending on taste.  Continue to cook over medium high heat for about 2 minutes.

Serve over rice or in lettuce cups.  Yum!!

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I know, again, you may be thinking, really???  Yes, really.  While up front my lunch de jour may not sound appetizing to all, it was very tasty.  Trust me – they are like little bites of luxury when roasted!

I think most people, as children, were turned off by brussel sprouts because some parent decided that boiling them until they were mushy was the only approach.  My parents never made brussel sprouts for me, so I never developed that aversion.  In fact, I didn’t even know what they tasted like.  Imagine my astonishment when I stumbled across them in a cheesy funnel filled with these little cabbages that were crispy and greasy on the outside and warm and soft on the inside. 

After having them for the first time, months passed and I didn’t get the nerve to make them on my own, but on a trip with a coworker, he told me about how his wife made them.  I finally broke down and decided to give it a whirl.

The result of this way to simple recipe?  Crispy popcorn like sprouts with a soft and toasty inside.  I could eat an entire bag of them.  They also happen to match nicely with my Smashed Cauliflower from last night and a little dollop of butter.

Serves 3-4 for a light lunch

What you need:

1 bag (about a lb) of brussel sprouts (trim off the stem and peel bag the leaves until you get to the cleanest layer – cut in half or leave whole)

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp salt

To assemble:

Preheat oven to 375 degree F.  Pour olive oil onto aluminum foil, sprinkle salt and pepper on oil.  Place brussel sprouts on top and roll around with hands until they are all oiled and peppered/salted.

Wash your hands and pop them in the oven for 30 minutes.  Shake the pan halfway through so you can get all the edges crispy.  If you like them less done or more crispy, adjust the time up or down 10 minutes.

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Before you avert your eyes, you need to know that these were an unexpected and delightful surprise.  I love potatoes, and while these were not “just like mashed potatoes’, they were a nice switch and felt indulgent the same way a bowl full of potatoes do.

I did not go into these with high hopes and didn’t even follow a recipe.  I basically just boiled the cauliflower with a few select ingredients and used my hand mixer to mash them up with some cheese.  Voila – tasty smashed cauliflower.  I was pleasantly suprised.  They were cheesy, creamy, and flavorful without any butter or cream!

I served them up with last night’s leftovers (beef brisket) but I think they would be great with just some veggies along side.

Try them – you won’t be disappointed (however, if you are, I take no blame :)).

Serves 4 as a side dish.

Simple, simple, simple:

1 head cauliflower (stem removed, broken into medium size florets)

1 clove garlic

3 cups chicken or veggie broth

2 oz gouda

1/2 cup shredded italian blend cheese

Throw your cauliflower florets into a pot and add the veggie or chicken broth along with a little pepper and the garlic.  Throw a lid on your pot and bring to a boil.  Once to a boil, continue boiling covered for 10 minutes.  After ten minutes, take off the lid and continue boiling over medium heat until the cauliflower is soft (mine took about another 5 minutes).  Once soft, remove the pot from the heat and drain almost all of the liquid out of the pot, leaving the cauliflower and a tiny bit of liquid in the pot.  Add in the cheese and get out your immersion blender (you could also use a food processor if that is what you have).  Blend to your desired consistency and enjoy.

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