healthy recipes

February Fennel

For those of you who remember my matcha post from last month, part of my New Year’s resolution this year was to try a new ingredient every month. For February, I chose fennel. Fennel’s health benefits include aiding in digestion, stomach upset, and immunity due to it’s high anti-acidic, fiber, and vitamin C content.  I’ve had in dishes at my favorite restaurant in Nashville, Margot Cafe, but I was intimidated to cook it. Much to my delight, after doing some research there were countless easy ways to prepare the daunting vegetable. For starters, an easy way to prep your fennel for however you chose to make it is to first chop the stalk off the top, then slice the end of the bulb off, cut the bulb in half and go from there. Below are two of my favorites from the month!

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Raw Dijon Slaw

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Ingredients
1 cup assorted shredded or julienne sliced vegetables (I used fennel, beets, carrots, cucumbers, and celery)
1/2 cup white beans
1-2 cups spinach
1-2 tbsp walnuts
1-2 tbsp dried cherries
Dressing: 1-2 tsp olive oil, 1-2 tbsp dijon mustard, 1-2 tbsp apple cider vinegar and/or lemon juice, pepper to taste

Directions
1. Chop the vegetables into thin strips or use a vegetable grater or mandolin.
2. Mix dressing ingredients and toss with chopped vegetables.
3. Serve over spinach and top with white beans, walnuts, and dried cherries. (optional)

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Oven Roasted Lemon, Fennel, and Artichokes

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Ingredients
1 cup canned artichokes
1-2 tomatoes, sliced
1/2 lemon, sliced
1/2 fennel bulb, sliced
1/4 cup kamut (wheatberries), uncooked
Handful black olives
Dressing: 1-2 tsp olive oil, 1/2 lemon juiced, parsley, thyme, pepper to taste

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 425.
2. Prepare kamut according to package directions.
3. Line a baking sheet with foil and place fennel, artichokes, tomatoes, and lemon on it.
4. Mix dressing ingredients, pour over vegetables, and bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping in the middle.
5. Serve over kamut and top with olives. (optional)

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Brussels Sprouts Bonanza

So last week I bought a bag of brussels sprouts from Costco. With two pounds of raw brussels sprouts on my hands, I was determined to try as many different variations as possible throughout the week. To start I cut them all in half and roasted them at 425 for about 35 minutes, flipping them about halfway through. Then throughout the week I added this base to different recipes that you’ll find below.

My Classic Recipe

This is my go to recipe – the perfect mix of savory, sweet, and spicy. Roast with the remaining ingredients to intensify the flavor or simply add in afterwards. 

Ingredients
1 cup brussels sprouts
1-2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Drizzle of olive oil or melted coconut oil
Cinnamon and cayenne pepper
1-2 tsp maple syrup, optional

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

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Ingredients
1 cup brussels sprouts
1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Lemon juice, basil, rosemary, oregano, crushed red pepper
Drizzle of olive oil, optional

Mix roasted brussel sprouts with remaining and ingredients. Shown here served with diced tomatoes and quinoa

Sriracha Lime Brussels Sprouts

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Ingredients
1 cup brussels sprouts
2 tbsp coconut aminos (or sub soy sauce)
Lime juice, sriracha, ginger, crushed red pepper, sesame seeds

Mix roasted brussel sprouts with remaining and ingredients. Shown here served with black rice, kale, peanuts, and a poached egg. For a perfect poached egg, simmer a pot of water, pour an egg in and gently swirl for 3-4 minutes as shown below.

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Brussels Sprouts “Hash”

This last recipe takes a spin on a classic breakfast side dish by using shredded brussels sprouts, sweet potato, kale, and avocado instead of white potato, sausage, and cheese. 

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Ingredients
1 cup shredded brussels sprouts (or roughly chop whole ones)
1/2 sweet potato, grated
1 tomato, diced
1 egg
Drizzle of olive oil or melted coconut oil
Thyme, cayenne pepper, rosemary, lemon pepper
1/4 avocado, optional

Pan fry all ingredients (except the egg) until softened. Add the egg in last and cook to your desired consistency. Top with avocado, if desired.

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Cold Peanut “Noodles” and Sesame Tempeh

One of my favorite appetizers at chinese food restaurants growing up was cold sesame noodles. So with some healthy substitutions (mainly the broccoli slaw in lieu of noodles), I was able to recreate this takeout fav! I think I liked this version even better because I didn’t feel bloated and sluggish after eating it. It’s so fresh and flavorful and the sauce is UNREAL. Seriously I ate it for dinner one night and then leftovers for lunch and dinner the next day. And I even thinned the sauce out with some extra coconut aminos and water and made a delicious salad dressing! If that’s not a good testimony, I don’t know what is. Enjoy 🙂

Ingredients
serves 2, with leftover sauce
1 package broccoli slaw, shredded carrots, or spiralized zucchini
1 package tempeh
2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 cup coconut aminos (or sub soy sauce)
1/4 cup peanut butter (I subbed half with PB2)
1 tbsp honey
Spices: sriracha, ginger, cilantro, crushed red pepper to taste

Directions
1. Blanch broccoli slaw by boiling for 2-3 minutes and then soaking in ice water. Optional, but I think it tastes better than completely raw veggies. Also feel free to cook them more thoroughly with a drizzle of sesame oil in a pan.
2. Chop tempeh into cubes and sautée them with a tsp of sesame oil for 5-7 minutes, or until golden brown.
3. Blend all remaining ingredients and spices to make sauce.
4. Toss broccoli slaw with sauce until coated. Top with cooked tempeh and sesame seeds, optional.
5. You can eat it as is, or let sit 1-2 hours or overnight in the fridge (I think it tasted even better the next day!).

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Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Traditional Italian food is often fried and loaded with cheese and refined carbs making it a total diet demolisher. So does that mean you can never enjoy the rich, gooey, flavorful goodness of pizza, baked ziti, or lasagna ever again? Of course not! But with inspiration from This Rawesome Vegan Life and the help of my partner in crime Stacey, we created a healthy alternative using cashews, sun-dried tomatoes, broccoli, zucchini, and Italian spices. Raw cashews surprisingly take on a very creamy, savory flavor when mixed with lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and spices. It’s a common base for many dairy-free cheese substitutes, even cream cheese! The sun-dried tomatoes and broccoli create a fresh, lighter version of classic oil-filled pesto to compliment the heavier cashew “cheese.” Seriously y’all, I loveeee pesto, but I think this may be my new favorite! Although it may seem complicated with all the different components of the recipe, I promise it only took us under an hour to prep, cook, and clean (all just in time for our weekly Scandal viewing!)

Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boats

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Ingredients
serves 2

2 zucchinis
1/2 cup diced tomatoes or tomato sauce
sprinkle of non-dairy cheese, optional (I tried almond cheese for the first time this week, but I also love daiya or Trader Joe’s brand)

Cashew “Cheese”
1/2 cup raw cashews
juice of one lemon
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
salt, pepper, rosemary, oregano to taste

Sun-dried Tomato and Broccoli Pesto
1-2 cups broccoli (steamed and chopped)
handful sun-dried tomatoes
1-2 tsp olive oil (if the tomatoes aren’t packed in oil)
salt, pepper, basil to taste

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Prepare the cashew “cheese” by putting all ingredients in a food processor or high speed blender until smooth. Remove and set aside.
3. Prepare sun-dried tomato and broccoli pesto by putting all ingredients in a food processor or high speed blender, I preferred it on the chunkier side so I used a medium speed setting. Remove and set aside.
4. Cut zucchinis in half and scoop out the seeds to make room for the fillings.
5. Fill zucchini with tomatoes and then layer in cashew “cheese” and pesto (we alternated a dollop of each).
6. Optional, sprinkle your choice shredded non-dairy cheese.
7. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and zucchini is softened.

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cashew “cheese”

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sun-dried tomato and broccoli pesto

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filling the zucchini

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mozzarella flavored cheese made from almonds – pretty mild taste and browns nicely!

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before the oven

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ready to eat (and watch Scandal!)

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bon appetit!

Monday Munchies: Sriracha and Roasted Garlic BBQ Sauce

My latest grocery store find came just in time for Super Bowl Sunday! I used this amazing Sriracha and Roasted Garlic BBQ Sauce from Trader Joe’s to make a delicious and healthy alternative to the classic Super Bowl appetizer, battered and greasy buffalo chicken wings. My version uses cauliflower as a base to soak up this finger-licking sauce!

BBQ Cauliflower Bites

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Ingredients:
1 head of cauliflower, chopped into bite-sized florets
1 tbsp earth balance spread, melted (or sub olive or coconut oil)
1/4 cup TJ Sriracha and Roasted Garlic BBQ Sauce

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425F.
2. Roast cauliflower on a baking sheet with earth balance or oil for about 15 minutes.
3. Pour the sauce over the cauliflower and return to the oven for another 15-20minutes.
4. Broil for an additional 5 minutes for extra crisp!

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Monday Munchies: Ezekiel Cereal + Bonus Recipes

I’ve been a fan of Ezekiel bread for quite a while now, but I never really explored their other products until recently. Their cereal is by far the tastiest, healthiest I’ve ever had or made. The reason behind their high nutritional value is because the grains they use are sprouted. Sprouting grains causes a biochemical reaction that increases their nutrient content and partially breaks down the starch, lowering their carbohydrate content.

The cereal definitely has more of a crunchy granola consistency, so it’s great on top of chia seed pudding or even just plain with fruit and almond milk. I also experimented with some recipes using it, so I included them below!

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Bonus Recipes

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Bran Muffins

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1.5 c Ezekiel Cereal
1/2 c Buckwheat Flour
1/2 c All-Purpose Flour (I used Bob Mills GF)
1/2 c Applesauce
1 c Almond Milk
1 egg
4 Dates, pitted and chopped
2 tbsp Coconut Sugar (you could sub maple syrup or sweetener of choice)
1 tbsp Coconut Oil
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Cinnamon to taste

Directions:
1.  Soak cereal and almond milk for 10 minutes.
2. Mix in the remaining ingredients until well incorporated.
3. Pour into a greased muffin tin and bake at 375F for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes clean.
4. These are extremely low in sugar, so if you prefer a sweeter muffin, add some maple syrup to the batter or drizzle them with honey or nut butter afterwards.

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Energy Bites

2 c Almonds
1 scoop Protein Powder
1/4 c Water
1.5 c Ezekiel Cereal
Optional: 2 dates pitted or 1-2 tbsp maple syrup to sweeten

Directions:
1. Blend first 3 ingredients (and sweetener, if using) until smooth and creamy.
2. Mix in cereal.
3. Roll into small bite-sized balls and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

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Za’atar Parsnip Chips

Za’atar is a very common spice in Israeli foods, so naturally I bought a large bag of it from a market in Jerusalem when I visited in December to experiment with some creations back home. While in Israel, I often snacked on pita chips and crackers baked with za’atar so I decided to try to make a healthier version with parsnips. Parsnips are also a great alternative to potatoes because they have a mild flavor and hearty texture with less calories, more fiber, and more vitamin C. Similarly, they can be eaten boiled, mashed, roasted, or baked in chip form as I detail below.

Ingredients
2-3 parsnips
1 tbsp olive oil
1-2 tbsp za’atar spice (or sub thyme, oregano, sesame seeds)
salt/pepper

Directions
1. Thinly slice parsnips (easiest with a mandolin, but works with a small knife).
2. Drizzle the oil over the sliced parsnips.
3. Toss with spices to evenly distribute.
4. Bake for 15-20 min at 400, or until crispy.
5. Enjoy with hummus, sriracha, or dip of choice.

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Oil-Free Banana Nut Granola

Granola is usually one of those foods disguised as healthy, but is actually filled with tons of hidden added sugar and fat. I’ve recently been experimenting with different alternatives to the traditional versions with oil and sugar as the main ingredients. It’s super easy to make yourself, and that way you know exactly what’s in it. You can make a big batch, and when stored properly in an air tight container (mason jars are great for this!), it can last several weeks.

This granola recipe is by far my favorite one yet. It uses mashed banana as a binder instead of oil, and also serves as a natural sweetener as well.

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Oil-Free Banana Nut Granola

makes about 12 1/4 cup servings

Ingredients

1-2 bananas, mashed (depending on the size)
1.5c oats
1/4c quinoa
1/2c asst. nuts (I used walnuts and TJ cinnamon almonds)
1-2 scoops vanilla protein powder + couple tbsp of water (I used Perfect Fit)
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 tbsp almond butter, heated for 30 seconds in the microwave
Vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg (to taste)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Combine all ingredients (except coconut flakes) in a large mixing bowl.
3. Spread the mixture out thin on baking sheet.
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes and then sift every 5-10 minutes until it is golden brown and crunchy.
5. Sprinkle the remaining coconut flakes on top, and bake for an additional 1-2 minutes.

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Peach Gazpacho

With the summer quickly coming to a close, I thought it was only appropriate to share my absolute favorite recipe from this summer. It’s a refreshing spin on a classic dish, and the best part is that it’s surprisingly insanely easy to make. The secret ingredient: white peach balsamic vinegar replaces the traditional red wine vinegar. You may recognize the peach balsamic from other recipes I’ve posted, and it makes an excellent salad dressing or dip for veggies on its own. I originally bought it at a boutique near the beach I go to in New Jersey. I couldn’t find anything that even came remotely close to it here in Nashville so I order it from back up north 🙂

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Peach Gazpacho

Ingredients
1-2 cucumber(s)
3-4 large tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 white peach balsamic
1 tbsp olive oil
Optional toppings: chopped peaches, grape tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, fish
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
1. Chop cucumber and large tomatoes and combine in a large bowl with cilantro, olive oil, and peach balsamic
2. Reserve 1/4 of the mixture for garnish and place the rest into a blender. Blend until smooth.
3. Taste and adjust seasonings.
4. Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours (the longer it sits the longer the flavors will be enhanced!)
5. Top with optional add-ins and serve!

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store the leftovers in a mason jar to maximize the shelf-life!

store the leftovers in a mason jar to maximize the shelf-life!

Baked Coconut Cornflake Tofu

Growing up, I’d always look forward to when my mom would make Cornflake Chicken. Since leaving for college and becoming a pescatarian, I haven’t had the dish in over two years, so I decided to use the same recipe but with tofu instead. Also, because of my love affair with all things coconut, I decided to add in coconut flakes to cornflake crumbs. It works great with shrimp, as well. In fact, I made the shrimp over winter break for my mom and got her seal of approval!

coconut shrimp

Baked Coconut Cornflake Tofu

Ingredients
1 block firm tofu
1/4 cup coconut flakes (I used reduced fat, unsweetened ones from Whole Foods)
1/4 cup cornflake crumbs (or your choice bread crumbs)
1-2 egg whites

Directions
1. Drain and press tofu for 10-15 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 350.
3. Cut tofu into small squares.
4. Place egg whites in one bowl and combine the coconut and cornflake crumbs in another.
5. Grab a handful of tofu cubes and place in egg bowl and then roll in crumb mix.
5. Lay out breaded cubes on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for 35 minutes, or until golden brown. Make sure to flip them halfway for an even crisp!

Goes great with the tropical dressing as a dipping sauce!

coconut tofu prebake

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