Farro White Bean Minestrone

The perfect fall/winter soup

Minestrone is a classic Italian soup that can be made all year round using seasonal produce. In the winter, I opt for vegetables like potatoes, carrots and winter squash, but you can use any veggies that you have in your fridge. I love that it’s adaptable and uses ingredients that you probably have in your pantry. It also happens to be super satisfying and delicious with it’s rich tomato broth, hearty pasta + veggies and a healthy topping of parmesan.

One thing I don’t like about minestrone is how the pasta gets all mushy when you go to reheat it or eat as leftovers. This is why I decided to use farro instead of pasta. The farro adds a wonderful nutty flavor, chewy texture, and more protein, fiber, B vitamins and minerals.

How do you make minestrone soup?

There is not one solid recipe for minestrone. All regions of Italy have different ways of doing it. To put it simply, it’s a soup or stew with a rich tomato broth and seasonal vegetables. All you have to do is saute the aromatics, then add in the vegetables, beans and grains or pasta and let it simmer until cooked through and delicious!

How do I substitute different vegetables?

If you want to use different vegetables than what the recipe calls for, go for it! Just keep in mind how long each vegetable takes to cook. For example, you should add winter squash in the beginning and stir in broccoli more towards the end.

You can use winter squash or sweet potatoes instead of potatoes. Easily add in broccoli, green beans, zucchini (those should all go in towards the end as they take less time to cook).

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Farro White Bean Minestrone

Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp salt
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp dried oregano or Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 cup farro
1 (13.5 oz) can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
8 oz yukon gold potatoes, cubed (about 2 medium potatoes)
6 cups water
3 cups chopped kale 
Parmesan, for serving (optional)

Instructions:
In a large pot, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots and celery and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, fennel seeds, oregano, and red pepper flakes (if using) and cook for 30 more seconds. 

Add the tomato paste and stir to coat the vegetables and spices. Cook for 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally, to caramelize the tomato paste into a deep dark color. 

Stir in the farro, white beans, tomatoes, potatoes and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 25 minutes. 

Stir in the kale and simmer for 1 more minute.  Served drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with shredded parmesan (if using) and black pepper.

Tips and tricks for the perfect farro minestrone

  1. Make sure to cook the raw tomato flavor out of your tomato paste. This will add a rich, more intense flavor to your soup.

  2. As always, taste and season with more salt if needed. Everyone has a different preference for salt levels (I always go heavier on the salt!).

  3. Don’t skip the olive oil or Parmesan topping. This is also delicious with some crusty bread!

  4. If you have a block of Parmesan, add the rind into the soup along with the water. It will add a ton of cheesy, yummy flavor.

Thai Pork Larb

A Larb Story

Larb (along with Khao Soi) is one of my favorite Northern Thai dishes. I had tried it once in Portland, but really fell in love with it in 2016 when I spent a couple of weeks traveling in Thailand. I found myself ordering it at every restaurant that offered it. The crispy, caramelized pork bits with the aromatics and herbs, spicy peppers, and punchy lime and fish sauce flavor are to die for. So I set out to recreate it at home using ingredients that are easy to find and snuck in some veggies, of course!

This has to be one of the easiest Thai recipes out there. All you have to do is brown some ground pork, then add everything else in and your done! The key is to have all of your ingredients prepped, chopped and measured before you start cooking.

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What is larb?

Larb is a minced meat salad from Lao typically made with pork, flavored with aromatics, fresh herbs, and toasted rice powder. Larb is classically served room temp with either sticky rice or lettuce wraps. In the winter, I like to eat it warm served with white jasmine rice.

How do you make larb?

It comes together super fast! You brown the ground pork in a pan, breaking it up into small pieces and then letting it cook until deep golden brown. Then you add all of the ingredients in and cook for another minute or so to meld the flavors and you’re done! Serve it with white rice.

What is fish sauce?

Fish sauce is made from fish that are fermented in salt that’s used in many Thai and East Asian dishes. It may sound a little gross to you, but it adds so much flavor and ‘umami’ to dishes. It’s worth getting a good quality fish sauce — this one is my favorite!

You want these golden brown bits to form. They mean FLAVOR.

You want these golden brown bits to form. They mean FLAVOR.

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Thai Pork Larb

Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 cup jasmine white rice
1 tbsp oil
1 lb ground pork
1 cup finely chopped broccoli (about 1 small head)
3 cloves garlic, crushed or grated
3-inch knob ginger, grated
1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
4 red spicy chilis, thinly sliced (optional or substitute 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes)
1 stalk of lemongrass, bottom 1/3 only, tough outer layer removed, thinly sliced*
1 ½ tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp lime juice + wedges for serving (about 2-3 limes)
1 cup fresh mint leaves, divided
½ cup roasted peanuts, chopped, divided 

*Lemongrass is sold at most grocery stores near the fresh herb section. If you can’t find it, then just skip it. But I highly recommend using it if you can!!

Instructions:

Use a fine mesh sieve to rinse the rice until the water runs clear. In a medium pot, add the rice and 1 ½ cups of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, for 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed and rice is cooked. Fluff with a fork, cover loosely, and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over high heat. Add the ground pork, break it up into chunks and let it cook, undisturbed for 5 minutes, or until deeply brown on one side (this means flavor!).

Continue to break it up into smaller chunks, then give it a stir and let it cook undisturbed for 2 more minutes to continue to brown. If there is a lot of fat in the skillet, remove all but about 3 tablespoons. You want this fat to help keep it saucy and delicious!

Add the broccoli, garlic, ginger, shallot, chilis (if using), and lemongrass and stir to mix it all together. Stir in the fish sauce, lime juice, ½ cup mint leaves and ¼ cup peanuts and cook for 30 more seconds. Remove from heat. 

Serve the larb over the white rice and top with remaining mint, peanuts and lime wedges.

Tip and tricks for the perfect Thai Pork Larb

  1. Brown your pork AKA don’t touch it! Once you broken the pork into pieces, don’t touch it for at least 5 minutes. You’ll break it up into smaller pieces afterwards.

  2. This recipes comes together super fast, so prep all ingredients before starting the recipe.

  3. Taste! Once you’re done, taste the pork and add more salt, fish sauce or lime if you think it needs something.

Homemade Peanut Butter Snickers Bars

It’s Candy and sweets season!

We’re already halfway through October which means the next major holiday is slowly approaching — Halloween!! Oh how I wish I could go back to the days of trick-or-treating. It’s not nearly as fun when you have to go buy your own candy!

I remember the post-trick-or-treating candy trades that went down in my house. I always wanted to everyone's Snickers bars and Reese’s. Since I already have a Peanut Butter Cup recipe in Run Fast Cook Fast Eat Slow, I knew it was time to recreate my other favorite candy — Snickers bars!

I love recreating childhood favorite treats using real food ingredients without all of the refined sugar and other nonsense in commercial packaged candies. This homemade version is full of healthy fats, fiber and sweetened with maple syrup and dates. By using natural sugar and pairing it with healthy fats and fiber, you won’t experience the same blood sugar spike you get with a real Snickers bar.

Now, about those Homemade Peanut Butter Snickers Bars…guaranteed to blow you mind! They are super simple to make and use ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen. Not to mention they don’t require a blender or food processor.  A dense layer of ‘nougat’ and a soft, chewy layer of peanut ‘caramel’ all wrapped up in dark chocolate. You have to try this one!

How do I make the nougat layer?

You mix together the oat flour, almond flour, coconut oil, maple syrup, salt and vanilla. That’s it!

What is oat flour and where can I find it?

Oat flour is made from finely ground rolled oats. I never buy it (although I’m sure you can) because its so easy to make at home. Just add rolled oats to your blender or food processor and process until a fine flour forms, scraping down the sides as needed. See instructions in the recipe below!

How do I make the caramel layer?

By using a combination of peanut butter, peanuts, chopped dates, almond flour, oat flour and vanilla! You simply mix everything together in a bowl until thoroughly combined and you’re done!

DIY/vegan/paleo ‘caramel’ is often made using dates that you puree with liquid into a smooth paste. Instead, I chose to just chop up the dates so you get chunks of chewy dates in the peanut layer. This also means all you need is one mixing bowl — no need for blenders or food processors.

Here are some step-by-step photos so you can see what I’m talking about!

Nougat layer gets chilled in the freezer while you work on the next layer…

Nougat layer gets chilled in the freezer while you work on the next layer…

Top the ‘nougat’ layer with the peanut ‘caramel’ and chill once more…

Top the ‘nougat’ layer with the peanut ‘caramel’ and chill once more…

Once they have chilled, cut them into bars (or squares or whatever you want!)

Once they have chilled, cut them into bars (or squares or whatever you want!)

Coat each bar in chocolatey heaven, top with peanuts and/or flaky salt, and freeze once more. DONE!

Coat each bar in chocolatey heaven, top with peanuts and/or flaky salt, and freeze once more. DONE!

Cross section shot: bottom nougat layer, top peanut caramel with chunks of crunchy peanuts and chewy dates. Heaven!

Cross section shot: bottom nougat layer, top peanut caramel with chunks of crunchy peanuts and chewy dates. Heaven!

Homemade Peanut Butter Snickers Bars

Makes 12 bars

Ingredients:
Nougat layer:
1 ¼ cup oat flour*
¾ cup almond flour
3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt 

Peanut caramel layer:
¾ cup peanuts
½ cup natural unsalted peanut butter*
½ cup finely chopped dates (about 6 large dates)
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
2 tbsp oat flour
2 tbsp almond flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp salt

Chocolate coating:
1 cup dark chocolate chips
2 tbsp coconut oil

Toppings (optional):
¼ cup chopped peanuts
Flaky sea salt

*To make your own oat flour, add 3 cups rolled oats to your blender. Blend into a fine powder, scraping down the sides as needed. This will yield about 3 cups oat flour.

*I used drippy peanut butter for this recipe. If your peanut butter is thicker and more pasty, add an extra tablespoon of coconut oil. If your peanut butter is salted, reduce to ¼ tsp salt. 

Instructions:
Line a standard 9x5 inch loaf pan with parchment paper.

To make the nougat: In a medium bowl, add the oat flour, almond flour, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla extract and salt. Mix together until thoroughly combined and a dough starts to form. Transfer to the prepared loaf pan and press into one even, compact layer. Place in the freezer.

To make the peanut caramel: Using the same bowl, add the peanuts, peanut butter, dates, coconut oil, oat flour, almond flour, vanilla extract and salt. Mix to combine. Transfer the peanut butter caramel mixture to the loaf pan and spread into one even, compact layer. Place in the freezer for 20 minutes to solidify.

To make the chocolate coating: In a small microwavable bowl, add the chocolate chips and coconut oil. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring after each time, until the chocolate is completely melted, about 1 minute total. 

Use the parchment paper to lift and remove the filling from the loaf pan. Place on a cutting board and cut into 12 bars. Roll each bar into the chocolate coating, scraping off any excess chocolate from the bottom, and place back onto the parchment paper. Sprinkle each bar with chopped peanuts and/or flaky sea salt. Place in the freezer to chill for at least 30 minutes. 

Store in an airtight container in the freezer or fridge. I like them best straight from the freezer but they can also be stored in the fridge for a softer texture.

Creamy Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup

fall is here!

Hi friends! I’ve been on a bit of a blog hiatus — it’s been crazy busy summer of work and travel, but now that Fall is in full swing, life is finally slowing down. The transition from summer to fall is always bittersweet and seems to be happening very rapidly this year. The hot summer days full of simple salads and cold summer treats are being replaced with warming soups, stews and heartier meals. We can finally turn our stoves and ovens back on!

With this transition, I bring you a recipe for this Creamy Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup. It’s comforting and filling without being too heavy. There’s nothing like scents of onion, celery, carrots, mushrooms and thyme cooked in butter to get you in the cozy, fall spirit!

A soup great for digestion + boosting mood

Need some digestive support? Soups are a great option because they are generally easier to digest.

Remember the Avgolemono recipe I sent out a while ago? It was a delightfully creamy, lemony soup thickened with eggs. I used that same technique to thicken this soup to avoid using cream or coconut milk, which are often hard for people to digest.

This soup is also loaded with ginger and lemon, making it perfect for days where you’re digestion is feeling off. Keep reading to learn why wild rice is so much easier to digest than other grains!

This time of year (especially in Portland) the winter blues can start to set in as days get cloudier and cooler. This soup is loaded with brain and mood boosting nutrients to prevent those winter blues. Egg yolks are a great source of vitamin B12 and vitamin D. Mushrooms are another plant-based source of vitamin D because they absorb sunlight as they grow.

Other favorite warming recipes for fall:

Chana Masala
Spiced Lentils and Rice with Garlickly Yogurt Sauce
Ginger Coconut Brown Rice + Banh Mi Bowl
Spice Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew

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What is wild rice?

Did you know wild rice is actually a type of grass? It’s called ‘rice’ because of it’s similar appearance and cooking method to other grains. This makes wild rice a great option for people who struggle to digest grains or are grain-free. It also has twice the protein as regular brown rice and is packed with fiber.

How to make a soup creamy without cream

Most of the time, recipes call for coconut milk as a dairy-free substitution for cream. I do this a lot, but sometimes the strong coconut milk flavor and sweetness aren’t what you’re going for! That’s where eggs come in…

When you whisk eggs together while slowly pouring in a hot broth, the eggs get gently cooked into a creamy liquid. Stir that back into your soup and you’ve got yourself a velvety, rich broth!

Try my recipe for Avgolemono (Greek Lemon Chicken Soup)!

How to make Wild Rice Mushroom Soup

Simply sauté the aromatics in butter to release their flavor. Then add in the mushrooms, wild rice, thyme and bay leaf and stir it all together. Then add water and broth and let it simmer, covered, until the rice is cooked!

To make the soup thicker and velvety, you’ll whisk together 1 egg and 1 egg yolk in a small bowl. Remove some of the hot liquid using a measuring cup and slowly pour it back into the eggs, whisking constantly. This way the hot water will slowly cook and emulsify into the eggs. Stir that back into the soup and watch the magical creaminess happen!

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Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 tbsp butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
2 celery stalks, sliced
3-inch piece of ginger, grated (about 2 tbsp)
1 tsp salt
1 cup wild rice
8 oz mushrooms, sliced (about 3 cups sliced)
2 large sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf (optional)
4 cups vegetable broth (or use 4 cups water)
2 cups water
2 eggs (1 whole egg + 1 yolk)
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 cups packed chopped kale

Instructions:
In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, ginger and salt. Cook until softened, about 3 minutes. 

Add the wild rice, mushrooms, thyme and bay leaf (if using). Stir to mix everything together.

Add the broth and water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, for 30-45 minutes, or until the wild rice has burst open and is still slightly chewy. Remove from heat and stir in the kale to wilt.

In a small bowl, whisk together one whole egg, one egg yolk and the lemon juice until smooth. Remove one cup of the broth from the soup and slowly whisk it into the egg mixture in a slow steady stream. Slowly stir the mixture back into the soup. Add more salt and pepper, to taste. 

Serve warm garnished with olive oil, flaky sea salt and black pepper.

*See tips and tricks section below!

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Tip and tricks for the perfect Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup

  1. The amount of salt needed with depend greatly on the vegetable broth that you use, so add more salt if it is low sodium! Salt (and acid) is the KEY to tastier food at home.

  2. When whisking the hot broth into the eggs, make sure to pour it in a slow stream while you vigorously whisk it into the eggs. We don’t want scrambled eggs!

  3. Don’t have wild rice? Try using brown rice, but reduce the cook time to 25-30 minutes.

  4. Wild rice can take longer or shorter depending on what brand you buy. Just look for some of the grains to burst open. They should be a little chewy, but not crunchy!

  5. If the rice is taking longer and the soup is losing more liquid than you’d like, just add in some more water.

  6. Don’t have vegetable broth? Skip it and use 6 cups of water instead!

Greek Lemon Chicken Soup (Avgolemono)

The Perfect Spring Soup

Just because it’s almost Spring doesn’t mean soup season is over! This creamy, bright, lemony soup will blow your mind with it’s simplicity and deliciousness!

Also known as Avgolemono, this traditional Greek soup is a fun twist on chicken and rice soup. It has a secret ingredient that makes it extra luscious — eggs! No dairy, just eggs to create a creamy, velvety consistency.

The soup is topped with a generous amount of fresh dill for a herbaceous punch and black pepper for lil a kick.

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Can you put raw egg in soup?

YES! Slowly stirring in hot water tempers the eggs, sort of like chocolate, so that it doesn’t scramble. Instead, it cooks slowly at a lower temperature.

What is Avgolemono?

It’s a family of Greek sauces and soups where eggs/egg yolks are combined with lemon juice and hot broth to create a creamy sauce or soup.

What kind of rice is best for soup?

You can totally use white rice or even quinoa instead of brown rice. I just like the heartier texture of brown rice. Don’t worry about overcooking the grain, it adds to the creaminess.


Greek Lemon Chicken Soup (Avgolemono)

Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp salt, divided
Pinch salt
¾ cup brown rice
1 bay leaf, optional
1.5 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 qt low sodium chicken stock
4 eggs (2 whole eggs + 2 egg yolks)
¼ cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
3 cups spinach, optional
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup fresh dill

Instructions:
In a large pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add onion and 1/2 tsp salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the rice, bay leaf (if using), chicken and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20-25 minutes (uncovered), or until both the rice and chicken are cooked.

Remove the bay leaf and transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Use two forks to shred the chicken. Return the chicken to the pot along with the spinach (if using). Simmer until the spinach wilts, about 2 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the 2 whole eggs, 2 egg yolks and lemon juice until smooth. VERY slowly pour in 2 cups of the hot broth while whisking constantly.

Stir the lemony egg liquid back into the soup along with the remaining 1/2 tsp salt. Simmer it gently for a couple of minutes. It will become creamy — MAGIC! Taste and add more salt if you think it needs it (depends on the chicken broth used).

Stir in lots of cracked pepper. Serve topped with lots of fresh dill, a drizzle of olive oil and more black pepper.


Tips and tricks for the perfect Greek Lemon Chicken Soup

  1. Slowly whisking the hot broth into the egg/lemon is the most important part! It’s not hard at all, just maintain a slow drizzle while whisking away.

  2. The chicken may cook faster than the rice. If so, you can just remove the chicken and continue to simmer until rice is cooked.

  3. The soup is very lemony and salt helps to balance it all out. Don’t be afraid to add more salt if you think it needs it. A drizzle of olive oil also helps balance the lemon.

  4. Don’t skip the DILL!!! It takes the soup to the next level.






Quinoa Veggie Egg Cups

Quinoa Veggie Egg Cups

Mix up your usual oatmeal or egg breakfast with these cute little egg cups. They’re the perfect easy, make-ahead, protein packed breakfast to whip up during your next Sunday meal prep!

Layers of seasoned quinoa and mixed veggies topped with an egg baked to your liking! The best part? You can use any grain or veggie that you have on hand. Just follow the general instructions and you’ll end up with a delicious, customized breakfast bite!

I used mushrooms and spinach but feel free to improvise with other veggies or, even better, use up leftover roasted veggies! Quinoa works great but leftover rice would work as well. The recipe makes 6 but can easily be doubled to make 12.

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How long does it take an egg to cook in the oven?

At 350F, it will take about 20 minutes depending on the oven, size and temperature of the egg. It’s done when the whites are mostly cooked through and yolk is still a little runny. The eggs will continue to cook as they cool. If you prefer solid yolks then bake for longer!

What’s a good substitute for quinoa?

For this recipe, you can use any leftover cooked grain. Think white rice, brown rice, millet, etc… Since the grain is mixed with egg, they should hold up just fine!

Are pastured eggs healthier?

YES! Pasture-raised, free-range eggs are fed better diets and are just way happier than chickens that are caked up and can barely move. You’ll notice the difference in the golden orange egg yolks compared to the pale yellow most people are used to. Not only do they taste better, but those yolks are loaded with way more vitamins and minerals.

My favorite brand is Happy Egg Co. Runner up is Vital Farms. Both can be found at most grocery stores.

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Quinoa Veggie Egg Cups

Makes 6

Ingredients:

For the quinoa crust:
¼ cup quinoa (or about 3/4 cup leftover cooked quinoa)
1 egg
1 tsp dried oregano
¼  tsp salt

For the filling:
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 cup spinach, packed
1 cloves garlic, chopped (or sub 2 tsp garlic powder)
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup crumbled feta, optional
6 eggs

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a 6 or 12-cup muffin tin with 6 parchment muffin cups or grease well with coconut oil.

Add the quinoa to a small pot with ⅓ cup of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl and let it cool for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the spinach, garlic and salt and cook for 1 more minute, or until the spinach has wilted. Remove from heat and stir in the feta, if using.

Add the egg, oregano and salt to the quinoa and mix thoroughly to combine. Diving the mixture in heaping tablespoons between the 6 muffin cups.

Divide the veggie mixture in an even layer on top of the quinoa, leaving room for the egg on top. Crack an egg on top of each one. Sprinkle each egg with some salt, if you’d like.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the eggs are set and cooked to your liking. Allow to cool before storing in an airtight container in the fridge. To reheat, pop a couple into the microwave until warmed through, about 15 seconds.

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Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Quinoa Veggie Egg Cups

  1. Make sure to leave enough room for the egg on top when you’re layering the quinoa and veggies. If not, the egg will spill over and it will be a messy clean up!

  2. If you aren’t using muffin cups, make sure to grease really well or else it will be very difficult to get them out. Use muffin cups if you have them!

  3. TASTE! Make sure you taste the veggies to make sure the salt level is good.

  4. Bake the eggs to your liking. They will continue to cook a bit after you take them out of the oven. I like mine underdone with a runny yolk!

Spiced Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew

Spiced Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew

This Spiced Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew is loaded with some of my favorite cozy spices to use this time of year. The coriander, cumin, turmeric, paprika combo will warm you up from the inside out! The bites of sweet dates and salty olives combined with the spicy broth is to die for! BONUS — it’s loaded with immune-boosting foods to keep those nasty winter bugs at bay.

Lentils and chickpeas are my favorite legumes to use as plant-based options for dinners and lunches. While I love eating local, grass-fed, pasture-raised, etc… meats a few times a week, I try to make the majority of my meals plant-based for simplicity, affordability, and variety. The moment I tested out this chickpea stew, I knew it was going to be a weekly staple.

It’s super easy to throw together — simply sauté some onions and garlic, add your spices and chickpeas, mash them up a little to thicken the stew, then add the rest of the ingredients and simmer until done, voila!

I make a ton of stews this time of year because they keep well in the fridge or can be frozen for an easy meal. Make a double batch and freeze half, you won’t regret it!

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Whats the difference between a soup and a stew?

Soups have much more liquid, whereas stews are meats, legumes, and/or veggies that are simmered with enough broth to cover/cook until everything is tender and the broth is reduced and turned ‘saucy’. Yum!

How do you make a vegetarian stew?

Swap the beef, poultry or pork with some good old reliable legumes! Sauté your aromatics and spices/flavors, add the protein and liquid and simmer until everything is tender and liquid has reduced.

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Spiced Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew

Serves 4

Ingredients:
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
½ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp red chili flakes (optional)
2 (15 oz) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 medium sweet potato, cut into ½-inch cubes (about 1 heaping cup)
2 cups water
1 cup packed chopped kale
½ cup chopped pitted green olives
¼ cup chopped dates (or dried apricots or golden raisins)
Chopped cilantro, for garnish
Chopped toasted almonds, for garnish

Instructions:
In a large pot, warm the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic and salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the coriander, cumin, paprika, turmeric and red chili flakes (if using) and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly, to toast the spices.

Stir in the chickpeas, then use a fork to mash about ⅓ of them up. Stir in the sweet potato and water and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Stir in the greens, olives, and dates and simmer, uncovered, for 5 more minutes.

Serve with rice or quinoa and garnish with cilantro and almonds. This is also delicious with a dollop of plain yogurt!

Tips and Tricks for the perfect Spiced Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew

  1. Make sure to mash 1/3 - 1/2 of the chickpea to help release their starches and thicken the stew (thanks Alison Roman for the tip!).

  2. Some canned chickpeas are way creamier while others can be a bit mealy and dry. You definitely want CREAMY to thicken up the stew. I love the 365 brand from Whole Foods. If you cook your chickpeas at home (this yields the best chickpeas by far), then use 4 cups cooked chickpeas!

  3. Toasting the spices enhances their flavor, so don’t skip that step! But be careful not to burn them — stir it constantly and make sure there is still some oil in the pot. If not, add a glug.

  4. You still want the final product to have some liquid/sauce but not so much that it’s like a soup. Keep reducing the liquid (or add some) until it seems right.

  5. Make sure you taste and add salt/spices/maybe some lemon juice until you like it!

Spiced Lentils and Rice with Garlicky Yogurt Sauce

Spiced Lentils and Rice with Garlicky Yogurt Sauce

This is my go-to quick and easy meal for when I get home and have nothing planned for dinner. It only requires a few ingredients that you probably already have on hand in your fridge and pantry. It also freezes really well — I usually freeze half for easy future meals!

The ingredients couldn’t be simpler or more affordable!

  • Spiced Lentils and Rice: oil, onion, salt, spices, brown rice and lentils

  • Garlicky Yogurt Sauce: plain yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper

  • Fresh cilantro or parsley (optional)

  • Fried Egg (optional)

This meal may seem basic, and it is, but it’s also jam-packed with flavor and loaded with nutrition. The warming spices are toasted in oil and infuse the rice and lentils with tons of flavor and the browned onions add a little touch of sweetness. Don’t skip the the tangy, garlicky yogurt sauce — it makes the dish. SO GOOD!

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What are the health benefits of lentils?

Lentils are a nutrition powerhouse! They are loaded with protein, zinc, iron, and fiber just to name a few. The list seriously goes on and on. By far my favorite legume!

How do you make a yogurt sauce?

There isn’t a simpler sauce than a yogurt sauce. All you need is yogurt, water, salt and pepper for the most basic version. I like adding lemon juice and garlic for a more punchy flavor!

Does it matter what kind of lentils I use?

You you should use green lentils or black (beluga) would also work I think. Don’t use red lentils as they break down too much and are better for soups.

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Spice Lentils and Rice with Garlicky Yogurt Sauce

Serves 6

Ingredients:
3 tbsp avocado oil, divided
1 onion, sliced into half moons
1 ½ tsp salt, divided
2 tsp coriander
1 ½ tsp allspice
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1 ½ tsp cumin
½ tsp turmeric
1 cup dried brown lentils
1 cup brown rice
4 cups water

Garlicky yogurt sauce:
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
2 tbsp water, or more to thin it out
1 tbsp lemon juice
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
¾ tsp salt
Black pepper

Garnish (optional): fresh cilantro, paprika, fried egg

Instructions:
In a large pot, warm 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add the onion and ½ teaspoon salt and cook over high heat for 4 minutes, or until they start to turn light golden brown (see picture above).

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and spices and stir constantly to toast them, about 15 seconds.

Add the brown rice and lentils and remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and stir to coat them in all of the spices and oil.

Add the water, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer covered for 40 minutes, stirring halfway. If there is still water left in the pot, remove the lid and turn to heat up to boil it off.

Meanwhile, make the yogurt sauce by mixing together all ingredients in a small bowl. Taste and add more salt or lemon if needed. You may need to add more water to thin it out depending on the thickness of the yogurt you used.

Serve the lentils generously slathered in the yogurt sauce and topped with cilantro, paprika, and/or a fried egg, if desired.

Tips and tricks for the perfect spiced lentils and rice

  1. Cooking times can vary due to different factors: type of stovetop, brand of brown rice…so make sure to taste the rice to make sure its done. If there is still water in the pot and the rice is done, remove the lid and boil it off. If it needs more time to cook, just add more hot water.

  2. The lentils cook faster than the rice so they will be done sooner, but that’s fine, trust me!

  3. The lentils might rise to the top while cooking, that’s why its good to give it a stir halfway through so that the rice can cook evenly.

  4. This will stay good in the fridge for 5-7 days. It also freezes really well — just pop it in the microwave until thawed and quickly whip up some yogurt sauce!

Soft Pumpkin Molasses Cookies

Soft Pumpkin Molasses Cookies

One rainy, cold October day I found myself with a jar leftover pumpkin puree and a hankering for some fresh baked cookies. What cookie combo is more warming than rich molasses, spicy ginger and warming cinnamon?

This recipe uses simple ingredients that you probably already have AND all you need is one bowl! You’d never guess that they’re gluten and dairy-free!

The combination of pumpkin puree, almond meal and a touch of coconut oil makes these cookies super soft and moist. The molasses and coconut sugar add the perfect amount of sweetness to bring out the warming spices.

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Is molasses good for you?

Yes! Molasses is one of my favorite sweeteners because of it’s earthy, sweet, robust flavor. I always opt for blackstrap molasses because it has a much higher concentration of minerals like iron, calcium and magnesium compared to light and dark molasses. It also has a much lower glycemic index than most sweeteners, so it doesn’t spike your blood sugar as much.

How Do I Make Oat Flour?

Easy! Just put some rolled oats in a blender or food processor and process until it turns into a fine flour. I like to make a big batch and keep it on hand in my pantry for baking.

Can you substitute banana for pumpkin?

Most recipes that call for pumpkin puree can be substituted with banana. Just keep in mind the banana will add more sweetness, so you might want to cut back on the sugar.

What makes a soft cookie?

In general, soft-baked cookies tend to have more moisture and are baked at a lower temperature. Most soft or chewy cookies use more brown sugar or molasses as a sweetener because it contains more water/moisture than cane sugar. Using ingredients like pumpkin or banana will make a cookie softer because it also adds a lot of moisture.

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Soft Pumpkin Molasses Cookies

Makes about 14 cookies

Ingredients:
½ cup pumpkin puree
¼ cup blackstrap molasses
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 cup almond meal
1 cup oat flour
2 tbsp coconut sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, molasses, coconut oil, vanilla and egg. Add the almond meal, oat flour, coconut sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, baking soda and salt. Stir the batter until everything is thoroughly combined.

Scoop the dough in heaping spoonfuls onto the baking sheet . Use your hands to flatten them out as best you can until about 1/4-inch thick.

Bake 12-15 minutes or until the cookies feel slightly firm and the bottoms are golden.

Allow to cool completely. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Soft Pumpkin Molasses Cookies

  1. Make sure you flatten the cookies to about 1/4 inch thick. It helps to use wet hands so the batter doesn’t stick to your fingers!

  2. Substitute banana for the pumpkin if you’ve gotten overripe bananas on hand.

  3. Nut allergy? Try substituting the almond flour with 1 cup oat flour and increasing the coconut oil to 3 tablespoons or more until the dough is moist enough.

  4. To make vegan, substitute one flax egg (1 tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tbsp water, let sit for 10 minutes).

  5. Store the cookies in an airtight container for up to 5 days or in the fridge for up to 10 days.

Maple Miso Baked Tempeh

Maple Miso Baked Tempeh

This sweet, salty, tangy tempeh is like an umami-bomb in your mouth. If you’re wondering that that tastes like, just make this recipe and you’ll find out I promise!! The simple marinade features tamari, miso, maple syrup, rice vinegar and garlic. It’s a no fuss recipe because all you have to do is let the tempeh marinate and throw it in the oven — no pan-frying or splattering necessary. Throw it into your next grain bowl, it’s so flavorful you don’t even really need a sauce!

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What is tempeh?

Tempeh is traditionally made from fermented soy beans, but can also be made from other legumes and grains (brown rice, lentils, millet…). It’s made by cooking whole soy beans, then mixing them with a certain type of mold, forming it into a block, and then letting it ferment at a specific temperature.

What is better for you tempeh or tofu?

TEMPEH! Tofu is made from curdling and coagulating soy milk. Since tempeh is made of whole and fermented soybeans, it is much more digestible and makes all of the nutrients more bioavailable. It’s also higher in protein and fiber. Did I convert you yet??

What does tempeh taste like?

Tempeh has a firm, pleasantly chewy texture and a super savory, nutty flavor. It tastes nothing like tofu which is mushy, watery and has little flavor. If you haven’t tried tempeh, do it!!

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Miso Maple Baked Tempeh

Serves 2

Ingredients:
1/4 cup tamari
2 tbsp mellow white miso paste
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp rice vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 package tempeh, cut into triangles or cubes

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment.

In a bowl, add the the soy sauce and miso and use a fork to mash and mix the miso into the soy sauce so that it dissolves. Stir in the maple syrup, rice vinegar, garlic and red pepper flakes. Add the tempeh and toss gently to coat. Let it marinate for at least 20 minutes.

Transfer the marinated tempeh to the baking sheet, reserving as much marinade as you can, and spread in an even layer so they aren’t touching. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until caramelized.

Serve immediately drizzled with the remaining marinade. I love it in a rice bowl or on top of a veggie stir-fry.

Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Miso Maple Baked Tempeh

  1. This recipe is not nearly as good the next day because the tempeh absorbs a lot of the moisture. Try and eat it right out of the oven!

  2. Make sure to SAVE THE MARINADE from the tempeh. You’ll drizzle this all over as your sauce!

  3. As you bake the tempeh, it might start to look like the marinade is burning because of the maple syrup, but don’t worry it shouldn’t be burning on your tempeh.

  4. I cut my tempeh in half length-wise and then cut into triangles so that they were thinner (more surface area for the sauce to cling to!)

  5. This will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.

German Apple Tart

German Apple Tart (Apfel Schnitten)

One of my favorite fall activities is wandering amongst the apple trees with Mt. Hood in the background and a hot apple cider in hand. There are so many amazing apple orchards in Hood River with beautiful views of the mountain, it’s magical!

We obviously came home with an abundance of apples and the only logical thing to do is to bake a healthy apple treat, am I right? This one was inspired by my momma! When we were kids, my mom would always make these German tarts with whatever fruit was in season. In the fall/winter it was apples or pears and in the summer it was peaches or plums (my fav).

The original dough is a super simple tart dough, but loaded with refined sugar and flour, so I ‘health-ified’ by substituting almond flour and coconut sugar. The texture came out soo good — crispy yet slightly chewy and delightfully nutty!

Pre-bake

Pre-bake

Post-bake :)

Post-bake :)

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What is a German Apple Tart?

I asked my mom what the German name was for the recipe and she said ‘Apfel Schnitten’. I googled it and a ton of different looking recipes came up. We called it German apple tarts as kids so that’s what I’m calling it! Essentially it’s just a pie-like crush topped with fruit and nuts and baked until golden.

Which apple is best for baking?

I prefer using tart apples like Granny Smith, Empire, or Elstar but a sweeter variety like Honey Crisp works well too. You want to use an apple that is firm and crisp. A lot of it is just personal preference.

How do you make an apple tart?

It’s simple! Just throw together a basic dough, roll it out, top it with seasonal fruit + nuts and bake until golden. It’s the perfect vehicle for vanilla ice cream :)

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German Apple Tart

Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 cup almond meal
2 tbsp coconut sugar
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 egg yolk
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 small apple, cored, thinly sliced
1 egg, whisked (egg wash)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp chopped hazelnuts (optional)

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 325F.

In a bowl, mix together the almond meal, coconut sugar, coconut oil, egg yolk, vanilla and salt. Use your hands to knead the dough to make sure everything is evenly mixed. Form it into a ball.

Place the dough on the parchment-lined baking sheet and press into a square shape. Use a rolling pin (or wine bottle!) to roll the dough out until it’s about ¼-inch thick.

Layer the apples on top of the dough and gently press them down. Use a brush (or a paper towel or napkin) to spread a thin layer of the egg wash on top of the apples (helps them get nice and brown). Sprinkle with cinnamon and top with chopped hazelnuts, if using.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the edges of the dough are deeply golden.

Serve warmed topped with vanilla ice cream! I also enjoy it for breakfast cold or warm with plain whole milk yogurt on top!

Tips and Tricks for the perfect German Apple Tart

  1. If you don’t have a rolling pin or wine bottle you can just use your hands to press out the dough, it just won’t be as uniform.

  2. Don’t press the apples into the dough too hard, just gently so that it makes contact. When it bakes, the apples will stick!

  3. The egg wash helps the apples to get a little golden, but you can skip this step, it doesn’t change the flavor.

  4. I used homemade almond meal (just almonds blended in a food processor). You can use store-bought almond meal or the finer almond flour (haven’t tried with almond flour but it should still work).

  5. I made the recipe to serve 4, but you can easily double it for a crowd!

  6. Store in the fridge in an airtight container. Reheat in the oven or microwave.

  7. This will keep in the fridge for 1 week, but I promise it won’t last that long!





Chana Masala

Chana Masala

Now that fall is here all I want to do is eat soups, stews and roasted everything! This Chana Masala is a tomato-based chickpea stew that is full of warming spices and flavors. I love this recipe because it uses super simple, budget-friendly ingredients, and is a delicious, comforting plant-based dinner option that also freezes really well!

This recipe is very dear to me because I got it from one of my best friends mom who used to feed me A LOT of Indian food back in high school. I’ve never had anything quite as good since!

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How do you make chana masala?

First you pulse the jalapeño, garlic, ginger and onion so that everything is very finely chopped. Then you toast the spices in shimmering oil, which blooms them and makes it super fragrant. Next you add the onion mixture to the pot and let them caramelize a bit. Then you add the pureed tomatoes and cook that for a bit so that it thickens. Finally, you add the chickpeas and remaining spices along with spinach (if using) and then stir in the cilantro. Easy peasy!!

What is chana masala curry?

It is an Indian curry made with ginger, garlic, green chiles, onion, tomatoes, a warming spice blend, and chickpeas. It’s very simple yet super satisfying!

You’ll need a few spices for the delicious spice blend, but if you don’t have them they are totally worth investing in. Here is what you’ll need: cumin, coriander, turmeric, garam masala, and paprika.

Is chana masala good for you?

Yes!! It’s loaded with anti-inflammatory spices like turmeric and ginger. Since it’s a tomato-based stew, it’s high in vitamin C and carotenoids that are also great for reducing inflammation. The chickpeas add a healthy dose of fiber and protein. Add some spinach for an extra boost of calcium and iron!

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Chana Masala

Serves 4

Ingredients:
3 cups cooked brown basmati or short grain rice (about 1 cup uncooked)
1 jalapeno, deseeded
4-5 cloves garlic
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 yellow onion, peeled and quartered
1/3 cup avocado oil (or other neutral oil)
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes (or diced, but you will have to puree them)
2 (15 oz) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp paprika
2 cups packed spinach (optional)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Instructions:
In a food processor, pulse the jalapeño, garlic, and ginger until everything is finely chopped. Add the onion and pulse again a few times until finely chopped. This step really helps to finely chop and release the juices for maximum flavor.

In a large pot, add the oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the spices and let them toast in the oil for about 1 minute, stirring often.

Add the onion mixture and salt and cook for 5 minutes to let the onions cook down and caramelize and spices continue to release their flavor (this is key for a deep, rich flavor).

Add the tomatoes and simmer for 5 more minutes to thicken. Stir in the chickpeas, garam masala and paprika and cook for 5 more minutes. Stir in the spinach (if using) and cilantro and let the spinach wilt (if using). Remove from heat.

Serve on top of a bed of basmati or short grain brown rice. Enjoy!!

Tips and tricks for the perfect Chana Masala

  1. Make sure not to skimp on the oil. It allows the spices and flavors to bloom and gives the stew a rich, satisfying mouth feel.

  2. Don’t skip any steps! Caramelizing the onions, toasting the spices and simmering the tomatoes are all KEY to a delicious chana masala.

  3. You could try hand chopping everything if you don’t have a food processor. I haven’t tried it this way but am sure it will still be delicious. However, pulsing them released the juices from the garlic, ginger, etc… and leads to a better smooth texture in the stew.

  4. This will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week and freezes for several months!

  5. I always have some little bags of cooked grains (brown rice, farro, barley…) in my freezer so meals like these come together super quickly! Simply microwave the grains until warm or let them sit in the fridge overnight to thaw.

Stovetop Taco Chicken

Stovetop Shredded Taco Chicken

This Mexican-style shredded chicken is my go to for tacos or burrito bowls. It's super easy to throw together and uses simple ingredients that you probably already have on hand! You can easily sub ground chicken, turkey or grass-fed beef (see Tips and Tricks at the end of the post).

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How do I make shredded chicken?

Making shredded chicken at home is a great way to cook chicken for meal prep and it's super simple! Place it in a pot filled with enough water or broth to cover the chicken. Bring it to a simmer and cook, covered for 10-20 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken. Remove from the pot and use two forks to shred it up!

How do I make my own taco seasoning?

Making your own taco seasoning at home is super simple! You might be surprised to know that those little taco seasoning packets you buy have fillers, sugar and other nasty ingredients you don't need in your life. I keep it simple and use equal parts cumin and oregano, but you could add in chili powder, onion powder and garlic powder. 

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Stovetop Shredded Taco Chicken

Serves: 4

Ingredients:
2 tbsp avocado oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1.5 tsp cumin
1.5 tsp oregano
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup water or chicken broth
1 lb chicken breast, cut in half lengthwise if very thick 

Instructions:
In a medium pot, warm the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and salt and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. 

Add the garlic, cumin, oregano and tomato paste and cook for 1 minute, using a wooden spoon to stir and mash the tomato paste around so it's coating all of the onions. Add a splash of oil if it looks to dry in the pot (this will help bloom the spices and caramelize the tomato paste).

Add the water or broth and chicken and nestle it in the liquid. Sprinkle the chicken with an additional generous pinch of salt. Bring the liquid to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15-20 minutes, flipping the chicken halfway through. This may take longer depending on the thickness of your breast.

Once cooked through, transfer chicken breasts to a cutting board and use two forks to shred them. Return to the pot and simmer for another minute, to reduce the liquid into a thicker sauce. Add more salt and/or spices, to taste!

Serve it up on tacos or as a burrito bowl!

Tips and Tricks for Perfect Stovetop Shredded Taco Chicken

  1. Be careful not to burn the tomato paste and spices by making sure there is still some oil in the pot, adding more if needed
  2. Want some heat? Add 1/4 tsp on cayenne pepper
  3. This will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 1 month
  4. Make sure to taste and add more salt or spices if you think it needs it (I usually end up adding more salt, depending on how much chicken is in there
  5. If using chicken, make sure its really nestled in the liquid so it cooks/steams evenly
  6. If using ground meat, use half the amount of water, adding more if you think it needs more moisture. There is no need to cover the pot, just add the meat to the pan and let it brown, then break it up into chunks and continue to cook until its cooked through and the sauce has thickened.

German Potato Salad

German Potato Salad

This recipe is inspired by my grandmother who would always make her famous German potato salad whenever we came to visit her farm in the summers. It's not your average mayo-heavy potato salad. Instead, I use a simple mustard vinaigrette which gets soaked up by the potatoes making them super flavorful. The cucumbers add a nice refreshing crunch to balance the starchy potatoes. This salad will be your new go-to side dish for parties and barbecues!

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What kind of potatoes are best for potato salad?

You want to use potatoes that are waxy and less starchy, such as new potatoes, red potatoes and fingerling potatoes. These potatoes will hold their shape much better than their starchy family members!

How do you make homemade potato salad?

Homemade potato salad is so much tastier and more nutritious than your average store-bought version. All you have to do is boil potatoes, let them cool enough to handle, then slice them thinly. Add to a bowl and toss with a vinaigrette to soak up the flavors. Add in any mix-ins like cucumber, celery, radish, nuts, herbs, etc... Toss with more dressing and serve!

Are potatoes bad for you?

A lot of people think potatoes are empty carbs and provide little nutrition value. You might be surprised to know that potatoes are rich in vitamins C and B6 as well as micronutrients like magnesium, manganese and phosphorous. 

German Potato Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients:
1.5 lbs new potatoes (or red or fingerling)
1 cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chopped dill
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp minced shallot (or sub 2 cloves garlic)
1/2 tsp salt

Instructions:
In a large pot, add the potatoes, enough water to cover them by 2 inches and a generous douse of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until easily pierced with a knife (this will depend on the size of your potato). Drain and rinse the potatoes quickly with cold water so they are still hot but cool enough to handle. 

While the potatoes cook, make the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, mustard, shallot and salt in a small bowl.

Once the potatoes have cooled enough to handle but are still warm, slice them into thin rounds and add to a large bowl. Pour half of the dressing over the warm potatoes and gently toss to coat. Let them soak up the dressing for 10 minutes. 

Add in the cucumber, walnuts, dill and remaining dressing. Toss everything together to coat. Taste an add more salt or vinegar if needed. 

Tip and tricks for the perfect potato salad

  1. Do your best not to over or undercook the potatoes. You want a knife to be able to slide in with a tiny bit of resistance. It's not the end of the world if you overcook, it will just be a little bit softer and might not hold together as easily, but still delicious!
  2. It's essential that you add half of the dressing to the sliced potatoes when they are still warm. Letting them soak up the liquid really boosts the flavor.
  3. Always start cooking potatoes in cold water for even cooking results.
  4. The salad will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  5. If making it a day ahead, make sure to taste the salad before serving. Often it will need a splash of vinegar and some salt to wake it up!

Maple Oat Cookies

Maple Oat Cookies

The most simple, delicious and healthy oat cookies EVER! It only takes 5 minutes to make the batter, 8-10 minutes in the oven AND uses only 5 ingredients that you probably already have! Bake them until the edges just start to turn golden brown, let them cool and then bite into the crispy edges and soft, maple oat center.

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I thought these up as I was enjoying  a rhubarb crumble at home and straight up eating the crumble topping with a spoon hoping no one would notice. There's no way I'm the only one who does this, it's the best part! I honestly believe that the ratio of crumble to filling should be about 2:1...maybe 3:1. 

How do you make your own almond meal?

I never buy almond flour anymore ever since I tried making it myself. All you need is a blender or food processor and some almonds. Pulse until a fine meal starts to form. 

What's the difference between almond flour and almond meal?

Almond flour is usually finer than almond meal and generally uses blanched almonds, meaning almonds that have been flash cooked so that the skins come off. Almond meal is the whole almond, giving you way more nutrition and fiber.

What can I use to replace almond flour for a nut allergy?

I always recommend that people try to use a seed flour in place of almond flour. You could try substituting oat flour or regular flour, but it will result in a much more dry cookie. Try pulsing sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds in a blender or food processor until a fine meal forms. 

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Maple Oat Cookies

Makes: 12 small cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup almond meal (see above how to make your own)
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a bowl, stir together the almond meal, oats and salt. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until a uniform dough forms.

Scoop tablespoon-sized cookies onto the baking sheet. Use your hands to flatten them (they will not spread), making sure they keep their shape. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until edges JUST start to turn light golden brown. Allow to cool for a bit so they hold together. 


Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Cookies

1. The cookies may not seem done, but will firm up as they cool. It's better to undercook them then overcook them, unless you like a super crunchy cookie. 
2. Store the cookies in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks
3. For a nut-free option, substitute pumpkin seed or sunflower seed meal (details in questions above) 
4. These cookies make amazing ice cream sandwiches!
5. Double the recipe and freeze half for emergency cookies!

Berries n' Cream Popsicles

Berries N' Cream Popsicles

Summer is here and HOT as ever! These fruity, refreshing, creamy popsicles are here to cool you down and wake you up from the summer heat. All you have to do is mash up some berries, mix together some yogurt, assemble and freeze!

I used to LOVE the berry Creamsicle Popsicles as a kid -- an inner layer of vanilla ice cream with an outer frozen berry puree. Well those aren't so good for my lactose-intolerant peeps AND they're loaded with refined sugar and fillers. This healthier version has layer's of fresh, juicy berries and slightly sweet, tart yogurt for the perfect fruity, creamy combo. 

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Are popsicles good for you?

Not all popsicles are created equal. The popular mainstream ones like Creamsicles, Ice Cream Sandwich, Strawberry Shortcake Bars, etc... are all loaded with preservatives, sugar, and a whole slew of ingredients you can't even pronounce. It's so easy to make your own healthy versions at home where you can control the ingredients and amount of sugar you put in. If you don't already have popsicle molds, here are my FAVORITE POPSICLE MOLDS that come with popsicle sticks so you'll have everything you need! Totally worth the small investment!

How were popsicles invented?

I bet you didn't know popsicles were invented by an 11-year old boy named Frank Epperson in 1905. He had mixed soda powder with water and left it out overnight with below freezing temperatures and when he found them he devoured them so fast and declared them Epsicles. He then sold them around town and got Popsicles patented. Talk about a young entrepreneur! 

How long do popsicles last in the freezer?

These popsicles will last up to a year in your freezer, but, lets be real, would they ever last that long? NOPE.  

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BERRIES N' CREAM POPSICLES

Makes: 6 popsicles
Prep time: 10 minutes (plus overnight or 8 hours for freezing)

Ingredients:
1 cup blackberries (~5 oz)
1 cup strawberries (~5 oz)
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
1 tbsp maple syrup
Juice of 1/2 lime
Pinch of sea salt

Instructions:
Place the berries in separate bowls and mash them up with a fork. If they aren't super ripe or juicy, add a couple tablespoons of maple syrup, or to taste.

In a separate bowl, mix together the yogurt, maple syrup, lime juice and salt.

Get your popsicle molds out and start by filling them with a heaping spoonful of berries followed by a heaping spoonful of yogurt. Repeat this process until the molds are full. Make sure there are no air bubbles by pressing the spoon down into the molds, melding the layers together. Place popsicle sticks into each mold.

Freeze overnight or for at least 8 hours. To remove, fill a large bowl with warm water and dip the popsicle molds in for 3-5 seconds. Try and wiggle the popsicles out (if they aren't budging, dip them back in the water). 

Store in an airtight ziploc bag or tupperware container. 

Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Popsicles

1. You can make popsicles with any fruit you have on hand. Berries, peaches, watermelon, kiwi, etc...
2. Throw the fruit in a blender for a smoother texture.
3. Don't have popsicle molds? You could always use muffin cups, paper cups, anything sort of cylindrical and small. However, they are worth the small investment if you plan on making them often.
4. Most popsicle molds come with a lid so that it holds your popsicle sticks in place. If you don't have this, it helps to partially freeze them and then slide the sticks in so they don't fall over. Nothing wrong with a crooked popsicle though!
 

Red White and Blueberry Cauliflower Rice Salad

Red, White and Blueberry Cauliflower Rice Salad

This super simple cauliflower rice salad has the perfect balance of sweet from the blueberries, salt from the pickled red onions, and crunch from the toasted almonds. It's loaded with tons of fresh herbs and tossed in lemon juice, olive oil and salt. It will leave you feeling nourished, refreshed and wanting seconds!

Make this salad as a side for your next summer BBQ or weeknight dinner. My favorite way to eat it is with a juicy burger or sausage or a fried egg with a side of avocado.

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How do you prepare cauliflower rice?

It may seem like extra work but it's not that bad and totally worth it. Just cut the cauliflower into florets (or buy florets), throw them in a food processor and pulse a few times, until it turns into a coarse rice/couscous texture. After this, you can cook it either by microwaving (covered) in a glass bowl OR sauté on the stove for 2-3 minutes to soften. 

Can you buy cauliflower rice?

YES. You can find already 'riced' cauliflower at lots of grocery stores now either frozen or refrigerated (Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Costco has it). 1.5 lbs of cauliflower will make about 5 cups of cauliflower rice. This is a good alternative for those who don't have a food processor or the time to make it at home. 

Is cauliflower rice good for you?

YES. It's a great low-carb, nutrient-dense and gluten-free alternative to grains. Cauliflower is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, which is known for it's anti-cancer properties. It's packed with nutrients, like vitamin K, vitamin C,  B vitamins, potassium and fiber. 

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Red, White and Blueberry Cauliflower Rice Salad

Servings: 6

Ingredients:
For the pickled red onions (make a day ahead):
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 tbsp salt

Place the onions in a large mason jar. Add the water, vinegar and salt and shake vigorously to combine. Press the onions down to submerge them into the liquid. Cover with a lid and place in the fridge overnight or for at least 8 hours.

For the salad:
1 lg head cauliflower (about 1.5-2lbs or 5 cups cauliflower rice)
3/4 cup blueberries
1/2 cup pickled red onions, plus more for topping (recipe above)
1 cup loosely packed fresh mint, chopped
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt

Instructions:
To make the cauliflower rice, add the florets to a food processor in two batches and pulse a few times, or until a coarse rice/couscous texture forms.

Transfer to a skillet over medium heat and sauté for 3 minutes, stirring often, just to soften the cauliflower. Alternatively, place the cauliflower rice in a microwavable bowl, cover with a towel, and microwave for 1 minute. Spread the cauliflower around in a thin layer in the bowl so it can cool quickly. Place in the fridge to cool for 10-20 minutes.

Once cool, add the blueberries, onions, herbs, almonds, olive oil, lemon juice and salt and toss to combine. 

Serve topped with more pickled red onions. Enjoy!

Tips and tricks for Red, White and Bluberry Cauliflower Rice Salad

  1. Easily substitute 1 cup uncooked quinoa for the cauliflower rice
  2. Don't forget to make the pickled red onions a day ahead!
  3. This salad will stay good in the fridge for up to 5 days
  4. Pickled red onions stay good in the fridge for up to 3 weeks, but are best the first week
  5. Make a big batch of cauliflower rice and freeze half in ziplock bags to save time
  6. Add some lentils or chickpeas to turn into a one dish meal

 

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Ginger Coconut Brown Rice + Banh Mi Bowl

GINGER COCONUT BROWN RICE

I must have made this rice at least 10 times before nailing it (and probably made it 10 more times since then because I couldn't stop eating it!). It's sweet, salty, nutty, heaven! 

The coconut milk adds a mild sweetness and creaminess, the ginger makes it burst with warming, spicy flavor, and the cilantro adds a fresh, bright herby note. All of these elements paired with some delicious nutty, slightly chewy brown rice? YES PLEASE!

What do I eat it with?

So it's just rice...but what do you eat it with? Make a bowl!

M favorite combo is a banh mi bowl. Banh mi is a common Vietnamese sandwich that is full of pickled vegetables, fresh herbs, usually pork, and a spicy creamy sauce all nestled inside a French baguette. 

I make it by assembling a bowl as follows: Coconut Ginger Brown Rice, Pickled Carrots + Daikon, shredded chicken, some sort of vegetable (roasted veg, massaged kale), a ton of herbs (cilantro and mint are best), my Sriracha Yogurt Sauce, and some peanuts for crunch. 

Guess what? Recipes are all below!

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Ginger Coconut Brown Rice

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups short grain brown rice
2 tbsp minced ginger
1 can full-fat coconut milk
3/4 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Instructions:
In a medium saucepan over high heat, add the brown rice, ginger, coconut milk, water and salt.

Bring to a boil, stir, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 35-40 minutes. You know it's done when most (but not all) of the liquid has evaporated and the rice is tender but slightly chewy. You want a little liquid to keep it slightly 'saucy'.

Remove from heat and let it sit, covered, for 10 minutes to absorb the extra moisture. 

Add the cilantro and fluff it in with a fork. Taste and add more salt, if needed. 

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Pickled Carrot and Daikon Radish (Do Chua)

Ingredients:
1 large carrot, cut into thin matchsticks
1 large daikon radish, cut into thin matchsticks (or just use another carrot)
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced (optional)
1/4 cup organic cane sugar
1 tbsp sea salt
1 cup water
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar or white vinegar (apple cider vinegar will work too)

Instructions:
In a bowl, add the carrots, daikon, jalapeño (if using), sugar and salt. Use your hands to massage the sugar and salt into the veggies until it has disintegrated.

Pack the carrots and daikon into a large mason jar. Add the water and vinegar and shake to combine. Press the carrots and daikon down so they are submerged.

Allow to sit in the fridge overnight or for at least 4 hours. 

Sriracha Yogurt Sauce

Ingredients:
1/2 cup plain whole milk yogurt
1 tbsp sriracha or other hot sauce
2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
Water, to thin

Instructions:
In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients. Add water until it reaches a good sauce consistency. Taste and add more sriracha, lemon or salt if needed.