Top 13 Healthy Recipes of 2013

Goodness. This week has been a crazy one! Would you believe that I just started my Christmas shopping?! Yeah… I need to get better about that next year! Anyways, today I thought I would share my favorite recipes from the blog over the last year. Some of these recipes we have made a several times since I’ve posted them! Feel free to try them and add any of these dishes to your regular meal rotation – especially those looking to start off the new year on a healthier note. Since they are all healthy (ie. Dietitian approved) you can’t lose!

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Vegan Lentil Stew with Roasted Squash and Kale

Peppermint Macaroons 3

Dark Chocolate Mint Macaroons

Larabar in Jar

Homemade Larabar in a Jar

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Vegan Sweet and Sour Tempeh Kale Stir-Fry

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Overnight Chia Oats

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Superfood Bowl with Spicy Kale and Tempeh

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Pumpkin Spice Smoothie

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Spicy Tofu Curry

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Vegan Coconut Cream Cups

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Harvest Hot Toddy

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Vegetarian Stuffed Eggplant

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Pomegranate, Walnut, and Squash Salad

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Vegan Apricot Coconut Granola

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Cheesy Quinoa with Kale and Roasted Squash

Happy Veterans Day! So incredibly thankful for those who have served to protect our country. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to give back by working to make our Veterans healthier each day at a Veterans Affairs Hospital. To kick start the week, I just wanted to share this quick recipe with you today. Since we had a snowy day here in Chicago, I was craving a filling, warm lunch. So, I made up a batch of this cheesy quinoa with kale and roasted squash – all of my favorite foods melded together in one delicious dish. To make prep a little faster, roast your butternut squash before-hand and store in the fridge. I usually roast a winter squash or two over the weekend so I have something yummy to add to salads or dinner dishes throughout the week.

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Cheesy Quinoa with Kale and Roasted Squash

(Serves 3-4)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 4 oz. havarti cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1-2 large leaves of kale, chopped
  • 1 cup cubed, roasted butternut squash
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine quinoa, water, and broth. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Once simmering, cover with lid and cook 10 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.
  2. In a separate saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour and cook over low heat until mixture starts to lightly brown. Stir in milk and continue stirring until mixture begins to thicken.
  3. Stir in shredded cheese and continue to stir until it is all melted and you have a thick cheese sauce.
  4. Toss cooked quinoa into the cheese sauce. Stir in kale, squash, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Cook about 5 minutes. Serve warm!

Vegan Sweet and Sour Tempeh Kale Stir-Fry

Hello Friends! I have another recipe to share with you today (make sure you don’t miss out on yesterday’s either!). Will and I have whipped up this super simple and quick dish a couple of times now, but today I made sure to measure out the ingredients to share with you all. If you like spicy dishes, feel free to be a little more liberal on the spices to add a bit more heat. The spice amounts I provided will create a mildly spicy dish.

sweetnsour tempeh Vegan Sweet and Sour Tempeh Kale Stir-Fry
(Makes 2 servings)
Ingredients:

  • 1 large bunch of kale
  • 1/4 cup + 1/2 cup canola oil (divided)
  • 8 ounces tempeh, crumbled
  • 4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes (adjust to taste, increase to 1/2 teaspoon if not using the dried pepper)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (adjust to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 large dried guajillo chili pepper or other dried mild pepper, chopped (optional)
  • Salt (to taste)

Directions:

  1. In a large pot, heat 1/4 cup canola oil. Toss in kale and stir. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once the kale turns bright green, toss in the crumbled tempeh. Continue to cook for another 3-5 minutes or until tempeh is heated through.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup oil and spices. Heat over medium heat for 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in rice wine vinegar.
  3. Pour oil/spice mixture over the kale/tempeh. Toss to coat kale/tempeh. Cook for another 1-2 minutes. Serve!
What are some of your favorite ways to serve kale?

Playing With My Food

In the midst of searching for a new apartment (from hundreds of miles away!), resume revising, and becoming a profession online application filler… I have been continuing to experiment in the kitchen. (Of course!). New recipes and my new love for the gym have been great stress-relievers in this scary, life-being-turned-upside-down time! I have also been working playing with my camera to try and improve the quality of my food pictures. Will bought me a great little light tent and spot lights for Christmas, which have made my amateur efforts at food photography so much more fun! I have a lot to research and a lot to learn… but I am finding that I enjoy it more and more! (Even if it does mean that my meals are never piping hot. Ha!) Here are a few images from the weekend – a blessedly long one thanks to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. I really needed that!

Spicy curry with seitan and mixed veggies!

Curry is such an easy and versatile dish! It makes an easy, low-carb vegetarian meal – something both Will and I can both appreciate it! I’ve been meaning to write an instruction post on how to make it. In this batch, we picked seitan as our vegetarian protein and added eggplant, bell pepper, and mushrooms for the veggies.

Braised monk fish with salad and roasted cauliflower. Yum!

This fish turned out great!! Monk fish is one of the more “meaty” fish like tuna and salmon, but with a bit more mild flavor. For this one, Will started by sauteing it with oil on the stove-top then adding broth and tossing it in the oven, pan and all. The broth cooks down and infuses it with delicious flavor. Yum.

Mmm… Look at those layers…
Served up with some delicata squash.

I saw this on Kath’s blog and knew I had to make it immediately! It’s a lasagna layered with pumpkin, kale, goat cheese, and mozzarella. Mmm… Loved it! I am so glad it made about 4 servings so I have plenty to munch on all week. 🙂
Hope you are all staying warm and eating well!!!

10 Things Tuesday

Goodness! It’s been a busy start to December, so I am feeling so behind on blogging! Oi. For a quick recap, I thought I would share 10 things with you today.
1. I had a major brownie failure on Monday! We had a little potluck at work to celebrate a few office birthdays so I made these espresso iced chocolate brownies. Since I needed to take them to work in the pan  I didn’t cut them or try one beforehand. Now I wish I had! For some reason, they were crunchy and too hard to get out of the pan. :-/ I must have omitted an ingredient or else the recipe was off. I was so embarrassed! Our new interns probably think I’m a terrible baker. Lol. I’ll have to make up for it at the cookie exchange next week – no pressure!
2. I’m excited to start PT this week for whatever is going on with my knee after seeing the doc. Hopefully, I’ll be running again around New Years! (Fingers crossed).
3. In the meantime, I have been enjoying this break from running by doing lots of yoga!! I had always been intrigued by this Bikram yoga studio out by Muddy’s cupcakes. They had a great deal for new students where you can get 1 month of unlimited classes for only $40, so I signed up! I’ve been to 3 classes so far and let me tell you, it is tough work! Bikram yoga is a series of 26 poses performed over the course of a 90 minute class in a room heated to around 100 degrees. That heat sure makes you sweat!

Good pic of us with a tree out front!

4. This weekend, Will and I went to the Christmas light display at the zoo. Although, the light show was a bit lame, we had fun seeing some of the nocturnal animals so active!

Yum…

5. I can’t get enough of this apple, cinnamon, sunflower butter oatmeal combo!

6. This song has been running through my head ever since I heard it on the radio a couple of weeks ago…

So pretty!

7. Even though it is winter, I still like finding fun new things at the farmer’s market to try out. This week, I picked up these pretty carrots. I’ve never had purple ones before!

8. I’m loving our newest book club selection – The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. It’s a fictional tale told through the eyes of a girl living through a strange worldwide phenomenon. In the book, without warning, the rotation of the earth suddenly begins to slow and the days grow longer every passing day – wrecking havoc on normal every day life. Such an interesting concept!
9. Christmas is only 14 days away! When did that happen?!?

Mmm…

10. I got this idea from Kath Eats where you add ingredients to a boxed soup to make it a little more interesting. A few day ago I picked up a roasted pepper and tomato soup from Whole Foods with this idea in mind. For this combo, I just sauteed a little kale and garlic and added it to the soup and heated it thoroughly. Topped with a little parmesan cheese, it was so delicious! I will totally keep doing this for a super quick and easy dinner!

Current Obsession: Winter Squash and Kale

Have you all been enjoying this glorious Fall weather as much as I have? I hope so! Do you know what else is glorious? Farmers market fresh kale and winter squash of course! I can’t even recall how many people I have seen blog about the versatility and wholesomeness of kale. No wonder, it is quite a nutrition powerhouse packed full of fiber and vitamins A, C, and K! I picked up a huge bunch of it at the market this past weekend and immediately made a “massaged kale salad” inspired by this “Go-To Kale Salad” by Oh She Glows. It turned out really well! I “massaged” about half of the bunch of kale I bought and kept it in the fridge in my salad spinner. Whenever I wanted another salad, I just added toppings to that kale base. Yum!


Massaged Kale Salad
Ingredients:
– 1 Large bunch kale, rinsed and patted dry
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
– 1 apple, chopped
– 5-6 cherry tomatoes, halved
– 1/4 cucumber, chopped
– 1 oz. cheddar cheese, cubed
– 1/4 cup chopped pecans
– Pepper to taste
Directions:
1. Chop the kale and toss with olive oil and vinegar in a large bowl. Rub the oil into the leaves a bit with your hands.
2. Take out a handful of the kale and toss with the other ingredients. Serve!
3. Store the rest of the massaged kale in the fridge; lasts about 2-3 days.

Sunday, I was in the mood to finally tackle the chopping and roasting of all of the winter squash I had. Again, I was inspired by the Oh She Glows blog to try out this squash called, delicata. Apparently you can eat the skin on these ones because it softens so much when you cook them. What?! I had to try them, so I was excited to see that they had them at the farmers market on Saturday. Yipee! I’m totally going back this week to buy at least 5 more. Haha.


From front to back: Delicata squash, acorn squash, and butternut squash!
Roasted and ready to eat!!!

These roasted squash were so simple and delicious! My will-power was sure tested as I tried not to eat the entire plate at one sitting! The butternut squash isn’t in this pile because I cubed it and roasted it separately to add to some lentils I made later. However, you could have used the same method to prep it as the others.

Roasted Winter Squash
Ingredients:
-1 Delicata squash, seeds removed and sliced
-1 Acorn squash, seeds removed and sliced
-1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
-1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
-Salt to season
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Toss squash, oil and syrup in large bowl. Once sqaush covered well in olive oil, spread in single layer on baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt.
3. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until squash is soft and starting to brown around the edges. Serve warm as is or chilled and tossed onto a salad.

I’ve begun to really enjoy baking and prepping lots of big dishes on Sunday afternoon so I have food to easily just heat and eat or pack in my lunch the rest of the week. Now, go out and get yourself some kale and winter squash!

Kale – The New Food Superhero

If you do any blog reading around the internet, I’m sure you will have run into recipes for the dark green veggie that everyone seems to be raving about – kale! After a few disappointing attempts to make kale chips, I decided to try a different approach for eating up a humongous bunch of kale greens I bought last week. One morning I decided I really needed to get started on those greens, so I threw a few leaves of kale in my smoothie for breakfast. I had seen this done before and I had some success doing it with spinach. Let’s just say… a little kale goes a long way! My breakfast that morning was a bit too umm, grassy for me. With a little more tweaking, it just might work though!

From this…
to salad in a glass!

After this, I was a little nervous about trying to come up with a different recipe for the rest of my kale. So, I turned to Mark Bittman for help. I decided on his super simple sauteed kale with tomatoes and feta recipe. This one was a winner! Will was in charge of making the delicious tuna salad on top of greens to go with. 🙂

For the kale, first cut the stems away from the leaves. Then, chop the stems into 1-inch long strips and saute these in oil until they begin to soften. In the meantime, cut the leaf part of the kale into strips. Toss the leaves into the pan with the stems. Cook until wilted and softened. Stir in 1-2 chopped tomatoes. Once the tomatoes have cooked a minute or two with the greens turn off the heat. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and 1/3 cup red wine vinegar. Stir. To serve, sprinkle with feta cheese – yum!
Speaking of reading blogs… I came across this one last night called http://spoonforkbacon.com/ and have been drooling over the recipes! Despite the fact that it has bacon in the blog name – ha! 
Want to know something else that I discovered the other week? This super-dark chocolate from Nashville! I keep savoring little squares of it every night for a bit of sweetness after dinner. 🙂