Vegetarian “Beef” Enchiladas

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Okay, these are seriously good!  I was experimenting with a couple of vegetarian enchilada recipes last week as potential Superbowl options and we liked both.  I posted the Vegetable Enchiladas recipe for Meatless Monday and here is the second recipe, as promised. These enchiladas are based on a typical enchilada recipe using ground beef but using vegan ‘beef’ crumbles instead with surprisingly good results.  My meat lovers claimed they couldn’t taste the difference.  I also added whole corn kernels and fire roasted canned tomatoes to round out the flavors. It’s very easy to make this vegan by using a vegan cheese.

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Historically, I have not been a fan of substitute or vegan ‘meat’ products, just because I don’t usually like them.  However, the vegan food industry is exploding with really great products and Beyond Meat, in particular, has opened up a whole new world of vegan meat substitutes.  Their Beef-Free Crumbles are soy and gluten free.  They are made from a pea protein and provide the same amount of protein as ground beef but only half of the fat (which is canola oil). I have liked every product that I have tried so far, so you may see a few more recipes in the future using their products.  And for the record, they don’t pay me to promote their products or even know about my little blog (unfortunately). A couple of my other favorite vegan products are Miyoko’s vegan butter (and her soft cheeses), Kite Hill Ricotta and Just Mayo (which is also made from pea protein).  All three products are as good as or better than their dairy counterparts.

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TIPS:  I found that 6 enchiladas fit easily in a 13 x 9 glass baking dish. If you don’t have a larger one, you may want a little extra sauce.  Do not forget to heat the tortillas before filling them or they will split.

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“BEEF” ENCHILADAS

  • 1 15 oz can Red Enchilada Sauce (or more if using multiple pans)
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1 16 oz package frozen Beyond Beef crumbles
  • 1 15 oz can Diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes, drained
  • 4 oz Diced green chile peppers, drained
  • 1 cup frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese (or half pepper jack cheese)
  • 12 corn tortillas (6 inch)
  • Cooking Spray
  • 1 4 oz can sliced black olives (optional)

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  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray 2 13×9-inch glass baking dishes with cooking spray. Spread 1 cup sauce over bottom of baking dishes.

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  • Saute chopped onion until soft and translucent.  Add ‘beef’ crumbles and cook several minutes. Remove from heat.

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  • Stir in drained tomatoes, drained chilis, corn and 1/2 cup shredded cheese.

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  • Warm tortillas in damp papertowels in the microwave for 30-45 seconds to make them pliable and prevent splitting. Spread the middle of each tortilla with 1/4 cup ‘beef’ mixture. Roll up and place seam-side down in baking dish.

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  • Spoon remaining sauce over top of enchiladas and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese. Garnish with black olives or sliced jalapenos, if desired.

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  • Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake 20-25 minutes or until enchiladas are hot and cheese melts.

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  • Servings: 12 enchiladas
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 1 15 oz can Red Enchilada Sauce
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1 16 oz package frozen Beyond Beef crumbles
  • 1 15 oz can Diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes, drained
  • 4 oz Diced green chile peppers, drained
  • 1 cup frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese (or half pepper jack cheese)
  • 12 corn tortillas (6 inch)
  • Cooking Spray
  • 1 4 oz can sliced black olives (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 1 cup sauce over bottom of baking dish. If you are using more than one dish, you may want extra sauce.
  2. Saute chopped onion until soft and transluscent.  Add ‘beef’ crumbles and cook several minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Stir in drained tomatoes, drained chilis, corn and 1/2 cup shredded cheese.
  4. Warm tortillas in damp papertowels in the microwave for 30-45 seconds to make them pliable and prevent splitting.  Spread the middle of each tortilla with 1/4 cup ‘beef’ mixture. Roll up and place seam-side down in baking dish.
  5. Spoon remaining sauce over top of enchiladas and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese. Garnish with black olives or sliced jalapenos, if desired.
  6. Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake 20-25 minutes or until enchiladas are hot and cheese melts.

Cheesy Cauliflower Breadsticks

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These cheesy grainfree breadsticks are a guaranteed winner!  They are yummy enough to satisfy that carb craving that we all know so well, without adding empty calories and they are wheat and gluten free. This is one of the blog posts that went missing during my technically challenged summer, however, I certainly didn’t mind ‘having’ to make it again.  The first time I spread the cauliflower ‘dough’ into rectangles  (like a sheet pizza) and cut it into strips to serve.

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This time I decided to try making into individual strips or bars which can be picked up by hand to eat.  I am a crispy crust lover so I figured this would maximize the crispy edges and I was not disappointed.  I sprinkled the cooked breadsticks with fresh basil but you could also provide warm tomato sauce or pesto for dipping.

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Cauliflower is a great carb substitute and provides vitamins, and minerals plus fiber and very few calories (only 27 per cup), very low fat and no cholesterol.  It is a surprisingly excellent source of Vitamin C which we need more of, especially this time of year as flu season approaches.

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This recipe can also be used as a pizza, either rectangular or round.  Just add tomato or pesto sauce.  I would go light on toppings as it may not hold up. Here is a photo of my first Cheesy Cauliflower Breadsticks based on the recipe from Jo Cooks.com

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I have blogged about Cauliflower Pizza before.  My older recipe calls for the addition of almond flour which makes it more of a traditional crust and great for lots of toppings.  Check out my original recipe for Cauliflower Crust Pizza which also featured caramelized onions and mushrooms.

 

I have the luxury of fresh eggs from my own backyard hens.  I have 9 hens, most of whom have been rescued from Factory Farms where they lived in warehouses and never got a chance to go outside or eat fresh food.  (Yes, even my organic cage free hens.)  You can follow my ‘girls’ on their Facebook Page  Mrs Vs Rescue Chickens.  However, if you don’t have access to backyard chickens, please buy Pasture Raised eggs from the store.  That is the ONLY label that means that the hens got a chance to go outside.

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TIPS:  I used a food processor to ‘rice’ my cauliflower which is very easy, however, I am starting to see Cauliflower Rice in stores (even Costco) if you are looking for a shortcut. Then I steamed the cauliflower rice in the microwave which is the easiest way to ensure you don’t have excess moisture. If you prefer not to use a microwave, you can steam the cauliflower on the stovetop with a bit of water before ricing.  Just make sure any excess water is removed by squeezing with papertowels.

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CHEESY CAULIFLOWER BREADSTICKS

  • 1 large head of cauliflower (about 4 cups riced)
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (or a blend of cheeses)
  • 1-2 cups mozzarella cheese (optional topping)
  • 1 Tbsn fresh basil, chopped (optional topping)
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  • Preheat oven to 425 F degrees. Prepare 2 pizza dishes or a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

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  • Remove outer leaves and roughly chop cauliflower into florets.

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  • Add the florets to a food processor or blender and pulse until cauliflower resembles rice.

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  • Place the cauliflower in a microwavable bowl and cover. Microwave for 10 minutes. Let cool.

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  • Stir in the oregano, garlic, red pepper and salt and pepper. Taste (before adding the eggs) and adjust spices if necessary.

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  • Mix in eggs and 2 cups mozzarella.

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  • Divide the mixture in half and place each half onto the prepared baking sheets and shape into individual strips (about 5 or 6 to a pan) or into a rectangular shape that you will cut into breadsticks later.

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  • Bake the crust (without toppings) for about 25 minutes or until nice and golden. You may have to push the sides back in with a spatula if you see spreading.

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  • Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese and put back in the oven for another 5 minutes or until cheese has melted.

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  • Serve with fresh basil.

Cheesy Cauliflower Breadsticks

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 1 large head of cauliflower (about 4 cups riced)
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (or a blend of cheeses)
  • 1-2 cups mozzarella cheese (optional topping)
  • 1 Tbsn fresh basil, chopped (optional topping)
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F degrees. Prepare 2 pizza dishes or a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Remove outer leaves and roughly chop cauliflower into florets.
  3. Add the florets to a food processor or blender and pulse until cauliflower resembles rice.
  4. Place the cauliflower in a microwavable bowl and cover. Microwave for 10 minutes. Let cool.
  5. Stir in the oregano, garlic, red pepper and salt and pepper. Taste (before adding the eggs) and adjust spices if necessary.
  6. Mix in eggs and 2 cups mozzarella.
  7. Divide the mixture in half and place each half onto the prepared baking sheets and shape into individual strips (about 6 to a pan) or into a rectangular shape that you will cut into breadsticks later.
  8. Bake the crust (without toppings) for about 25 minutes or until nice and golden. You may have to push the sides back in with a spatula if you see spreading.
  9. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese and put back in the oven for another 5 minutes or until cheese has melted.
  10. Serve with fresh basil.

 

Meatless Monday – Grilled Tofu with Jalapeno Pesto

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If summertime means throwing something on the grill for dinner, but you are trying to eat less meat for whatever reason, well this one is for you and ready in less than 30 minutes!  This tofu is grilled to crispy perfection on the outside but creamy on the inside and topped with a spicy, savory jalapeno pesto that will become your new favorite. Trust me, you will want to put it on everything! The first time I made this for an omnivorous crowd, I had to defend the platter from my meat eating friends to make sure there was something left for the vegetarians.  The next time I made a double portion and  it still disappeared…20160702_164054

I happen to be a big fan of tofu, and it’s an obvious and easy meat substitute, however many people think it’s boring-or even unhealthy.  90% of soy is GMO (genetically modified and pesticide laden) and most of that is processed to make soy bean oil.  What remains after the oil has been extracted is called soybean meal, much of which is fed to livestock (read meat) or turned into processed foods as soy protein. (both soybean oil and most soy protein should be avoided) Unlike soy protein, tofu is minimally processed and usually made from organic soybeans . Tofu is a great source of protein that is free from unhealthy animal fats. Best of all, it’s bland flavor allows flavors to be absorbed making it quite an adaptable food. It can be stewed, fried, grilled, baked, blended into sauces or even as a pizza topping. (Stay tuned for next week’s Barbecued Tofu Pizza which was also a fan favorite).-Joyce

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GRILLED TOFU WITH JALAPENO PESTO

1 block extra firm tofu
1/4 cup olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

JALAPENO PESTO
1 cup cilantro or parsley
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1-2 jalapeno or red chili peppers
1 lemon, zest and juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup pine nuts or pistachios

  •  Drain tofu and slice in half horizontally, then slice in half again, leaving 4 thick rectangular pieces.  You can cut those in half or leave as is. Place tofu slices in a single layer on a double layer of paper towels. Cover with another double layer and place a heavy object on top to help press the water out of the tofu. Let sit for at least 10 minutes or more.

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  • In a large ziplock bag, place olive oil, garlic and spices and shake to combine. Carefully arrange tofu in a single layer to the bag, seal and allow marinade to cover all sides. Set aside.

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  • Seed jalapenos and pulse them in a food processor until minced.  Add remaining ingredients, except for olive oil and pulse until if forms a paste. While running, pour in olive oil and pulse until combine. Spoon into a serving dish and set aside.

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  • Preheat oiled grill until smoking hot, about 550 degrees. Grill tofu in a single layer about 5 minutes per side.  Grill marks should be visible.

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  • Remove tofu to a serving platter and serve with jalapeno pesto.

Grilled Tofu with Jalapeno Pesto

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 cup cilantro or parsley
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1-2 jalapeno or red chili peppers
1 lemon, zest and juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup pine nuts or pistachios

  •  Drain tofu and slice in half horizontally, then slice in half again, leaving 4 thick rectangular pieces.  You can cut those in half or leave as is.
  • Place tofu slices in a single layer on a double layer of paper towels. Cover with another double layer and place a heavy object on top to help press the water out of the tofu. Let sit for at least 10 minutes or more.
  • In a large ziplock bag, place olive oil, garlic and spices and shake to combine.
  • Carefully arrange tofu in a single layer to the bag, seal and allow marinade to cover all sides. Set aside.
  • Seed jalapenos and pulse them in a food processor until minced.  Add remaining ingredients, except for olive oil and pulse until if forms a paste. While running, pour in olive oil and pulse until combine.
  • Spoon into a serving dish and set aside.
  • Preheat oiled grill until smoking hot, about 550 degrees. Grill tofu in a single layer about 5 minutes per side.  Grill marks should be visible.
  • Remove tofu to a serving platter and serve with jalapeno pesto.

Asian Lettuce Cups with Hearts of Palm (Vegan)

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Lettuce wraps are fan favorites of those trying to eliminate carbs, gluten or calories.  I just love them because they’re delicious with their warm, savory filling wrapped in cool and crispy lettuce leaves, topped with shredded veggies, salted peanuts and chili peppers. The best part is that they are easy to make and ready in about 15 minutes.  My son, Jackson, loves the Chicken Lettuce Wraps at our local Japanese restaurant.  I wanted to make a similar version at home but without the chicken and I may have taken some liberties but the concept is the same.  I used hearts of palm in place of meat in my Barbecue Pulled “Pork” Sliders with great success and thought I would see how it does as a substitute for chicken.  Well, the results were a resounding “Yum!”.  Click on the link below for the Slider recipe:

https://goodmotherdiet.com/2015/09/21/meatless-monday-barbecue-pulled-pork-sliders-with-spicy-slaw-vegan/

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I had warned that hearts of palm would be showing up in more recipes, especially once I realized that they are such a good meat substitute, both in taste and texture but also from a nutritional standpoint.  Hearts of Palm is harvested from the inner, less fibrous, part of various palm trees, most commonly the cabbage palm. It is definitely not empty calories as I originally thought. Hearts of Palm is naturally low in calories, at only 41 calories per cup(146 grams). It is also very low in Cholesterol and a good source of Protein (four grams in one cup), Riboflavin and Potassium, and a very good source of Fiber, Vitamin C, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Copper and Manganese. That is quite a list for the unassuming hearts of palm.

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TIPS: I love the crispy, juiciness of iceberg lettuce for wraps but butter lettuce, romaine or even kale or collard greens would work too if you like something a bit more substantial.  I recommend setting up a toppings bar and letting everyone decorate their own.  My favorites are roasted peanuts, scallions and red chili peppers but the sky is the limit.  Use your imagination. Sriracha is a good option too.

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ASIAN LETTUCE CUPS WITH HEARTS OF PALM

1 can hearts of palm
1 can sliced water chestnuts
1/2 large red onion (or yellow onion)
4 cloves garlic
1 zucchini (optional)
6 brown mushrooms (optional)
1/4 cup soy sauce (or gf liquid aminos)
1 Tbsn rice vinegar
1 Tbsn sesame oil
1 tsp honey
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

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TOPPINGS

8 lettuce leaves
1/3 cup roasted peanuts
2 scallions, sliced or julienned
2 red chili peppers, chopped or julienned
Sriracha or other hot sauce (optional)

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  • Drain hearts of palm and water chestnuts.  Roughly chop both and set aside

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  • Cut onion into small dice and chop garlic.  Prepare toppings, either slice, chop or julienne scallions and peppers. Coarsely chop peanuts. Cut stem end from lettuce and gently separate leaves.

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  • Heat olive oil on medium high in a heavy pan and brown onions, garlic and hearts of palm.  Cook about five minutes, or until veggies are seared and browned but not burnt.

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  • Reduce heat and add water chestnuts and zucchini/mushrooms and saute for a few minutes.

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  • Combine soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar and honey in a small bowl.  Pour over veggie mixture and cook several minutes.

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  • To serve, spoon veggie filling into  lettuce cups (I like a double cup). Top with scallions, peppers and peanuts.  Drizzle with srirachia, if desired.

Asian Lettuce Wraps

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 

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1 can hearts of palm
1 can sliced water chestnuts
1/2 large red onion (or yellow onion)
4 cloves garlic
1 zucchini (optional)
6 brown mushrooms (optional)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tbsn rice vinegar (or gf liquid aminos)
1 Tbsn sesame oil
1 tsp honey
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

TOPPINGS

8 lettuce leaves
1/3 cup roasted peanuts
2 scallions, sliced or julienned
2 red chili peppers, chopped or julienned
Sriracha or other hot sauce (optional)

  • Drain hearts of palm and water chestnuts.  Roughly chop both and set aside
  • Cut onion into small dice and chop garlic.  Prepare toppings, either slice, chop or julienne scallions and peppers. Coarsely chop peanuts. Cut stem end from lettuce and gently separate leaves.
  • Heat olive oil on medium high in a heavy pan and brown onions, garlic and hearts of palm.  Cook about five minutes, or until veggies are seared and browned but not burnt.
  • Reduce heat and add water chestnuts and zucchini/mushrooms and saute for a few minutes.
  • Combine soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar and honey in a small bowl.  Pour over veggie mixture and cook several minutes.
  • To serve, spoon veggie filling into  lettuce cups (I like a double cup)
  • Top with scallions, peppers and peanuts.  Drizzle with srirachia, if desired.

Root Vegetable Chips with Two Dips

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Root vegetables, I know – they’re homely and mostly relegated to salads and stews… but not any more!  These root vegetable chips will please almost anyone, especially people who love savory snacks!  They are like a potato chip on steroids, more flavorful and more healthful. Parsnips, red, yellow and pink striped chiogga beets sliced thinly, brushed with olive oil, dusted with salt and pepper, and baked into crispy chips.  They are absolutely delicious and crunchy and  a great way to get people to eat more non-traditional veggies.  I mean, who eats parsnips?  Well, a whole group of people ate them and came back for more at my house the other night.  I served them with a homemade Lemon, Parmesan Aioli (my go-to dip) and a traditional guacamole, but really they were good enough to stand up on their own. The dips are just extra for people (like me) whole love a good creamy dip or thinks chips can’t be served without guacamole.

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I owe the idea for these veggie chips to my sister, Carole. Last weekend I attended a family event and stayed with Carole, who had a recipe for making chips from root vegetables that she wanted to try.  I had never made them before but we had fun making them together and were happy with the results.  They are very easy to make if you have a mandolin.  Just peel and slice the veggies and bake them on low heat for an hour and a half or so until they are crispy.  The original recipe my sister used called for them to be cooked at 195 degrees which I eventually increased the heat because they weren’t crisping fast enough for us. There are many root chip recipes out there that call for various oven temperatures (even up to 400) and lengths of time (as little as 30 minutes) but most of the commentary was not positive.  I decided this time to bake at 250 degrees because so much flavor is retained with the low temperature and there is little chance of burning.  It’s almost like speed dehydrating but it works and everyone loved the results!

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Root vegetables are a treasure chest of nutrients in spite of their unattractive and intimidating outer appearance.  However, once you cut them open, their jewel toned flesh is revealed.   These intense colors are not just gorgeous, they are indicative of their rich nutritional value.  Root vegetables are high in vitamins and minerals like iron, calcium and potassium that they absorb from the ground and they are an excellent source of fiber. Even parsnips, which look like white carrots, are loaded with nutrients like their more colorful cousins. Use a combination for maximum nutrition and to ‘Eat the Rainbow”.

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TIPS:  I sliced the parsnips and the chiogga beets on my mandoline on the thinnest setting  but sliced the red and yellow beets on the second setting because  I wanted to see if there was a difference in quality.  The thicker beets took about 20 minutes longer to cook and were definitly thicker.  The thicker you slice, the longer they take to crisp and the yield is smaller.  I prefered the thinner chips but the crowd preference was pretty split between thick and thin.  For thin slices, you will need one baking sheet per vegetable.

When selecting root vegetables from the market, choose larger specimens as they shrink quite a bit during baking.  Also choose smoother skinned ones, if possible.  The ‘hairy’ parts are harder to peel, in fact, I had to use the tip of my peeler to remove them.

Using an olive oil spray makes prep easy and fast but you can also use the old fashioned oil and brush. Feel free to add other spices before baking. Chili, curry or garlic powder, ground cumin and cayenne pepper are all good choices.

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ROOT VEGETABLE CHIPS

  • 4 root vegetables(any combination of beets, parsnips, rutabaga, carrots, sweet potato, etc)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil (or olive oil spray)
  • salt and pepper to taste

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  • Peel and trim root vegetables

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  • Using a mandolin or sharp knife thinly slice vegetables lengthwise

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  • Spray or brush oil on the bottom of each baking sheet and arrange veggie slices in a single layer. Spray or brush slices with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper

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  • Bake at 250 degrees for about an hour and a half.  Thicker slices can take up to two hours. Remove from oven when crispy and let cool

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  • Serve with dips if desired. (I made a quick Lemon Parmesan Aioli  and guacamole)

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LEMON PARMESAN AIOLI

  • 1/2 cup mayo (I love Just Mayo)
  • 1/4 cup parmesan, shredded
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • zest from one lemon
  1. Combine all ingredients and spoon into a small serving bowl

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QUICK GUACAMOLE

  • 3 ripe avocados, peeled and seeded
  • 1/2 cup red or yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves, garlic, minced
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. In a medium bowl, mash together avocado, lime juice and salt.  Mix in the rest of the ingredients and spoon into a serving bowl.

 

Root Vegetable Chips

  • Servings: 2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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ROOT VEGETABLE CHIPS

  • 4 root vegetables(any combination of beets, parsnips, rutabaga, carrots, sweet potato, etc)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil (or olive oil spray)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Peel and trim root vegetables
  2. Using a mandolin or sharp knife thinly slice vegetables lengthwise
  3. Spray or brush oil on the bottom of each baking sheet and arrange veggie slices in a single layer
  4. Spray or brush slices with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper
  5. Bake at 250 degrees for about an hour and a half.  Thicker slices can take up to two hours.
  6. Remove from oven when crispy and let cool
  7. Serve with dips if desired.

LEMON PARMESAN AIOLI

  • 1/2 cup mayo (I love Just Mayo)
  • 1/4 cup parmesan, shredded
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • zest from one lemon
  1. Combine all ingredients and spoon into a small serving bowl

QUICK GUACAMOLE

  • 3 ripe avocados, peeled and seeded
  • 1/2 cup red or yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves, garlic, minced
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. In a medium bowl, mash together avocado, lime juice and salt.  Mix in the rest of the ingredients and spoon into a serving bowl.
 

Wheatless Wednesday – Easy Roasted Sole with Lemon & Capers

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Easy and delicious! Forget fussing over fancy sauces or breading and frying.  This is a winner in every way! Delicate fillets of sole roasted in a sauce of lemon, capers, parsley, green onions and butter (of course). Best of all, it is ready in less than half hour and  it’s  such a pretty dish, your family will be impressed.

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I pretty much love anything that is cooked with lemon, butter, garlic and fresh herbs, so it’s no surprise that I liked this dish so much.  I mean, how can you go wrong?  Just toss it all together, throw it in the oven and voila! Dinner is served.  I served the sole with sauteed spinach and a combination of long grain brown and wild rice, which was great in sopping up the yummy lemon butter and provided fiber along with bumping up the nutrients.

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We all know that fish is a good, lean source of protein that is low in calories and fat but high in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B. When deciding to prepare fish, make sure it comes from a sustainable source.  Seafood Watch is a great source of information on purchasing seafood that is fished or farmed in ways that have less of an impact on the environment and the species.  They recommend that the Best Choice is to buy sole from the Western United States and The Gulf of Alaska.

TIPS:  If you can’t find sole, you can substitute another light fish, like flounder or seabass. Sole is very thin so most people will eat 2 or 3 fillets, so gauge your audience and their appetites.  You can also substitute shallots for the sliced green onions and chives for the slivered scallions, if need be.  Non dairy people can successfully use a non-dairy butter  that has been cultured, like Miyoko’s.  This is an easy company dish that can be prepared before guests arrive and roasted just before salads are served.  If you platter the sole, make sure you save the yummy juice to pour over side dishes or vegetables.

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EASY OVEN ROASTED SOLE

  • 1.5 lb Sole fillets (about a dozen thin fillets)
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsn capers
  • 4 green onions
  • 1 Tbsn parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
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  • Zest lemon and then squeeze the juice.

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  • In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil and melted butter, garlic, salt and pepper.

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  • Rinse and dry fish fillets and arrange them in a single layer in a large oiled baking pan.  Overlapping is fine if you need to fit them in the pan.

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  • Pour the lemon butter sauce over the fish.

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  • Slice half of the scallions into thin circles and slice the rest in half vertically and then into thin julienne slivers.
  • Sprinkle the fish with capers, parsley, lemon zest and green onion circles. Top with lemon slices and scallion slivers.

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  • Roast at 400 degrees F-heated oven for 10-15 minutes. Broil the last 5 minutes. (Yes, it’s done.  Don’t overcook!)

 

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  • Remove from the oven and serve warm. (That’s my plate.  You can tell I like my greens…)

Easy Oven Roasted Sole with Lemon and Capers

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 1.5 lb Sole fillets (about a dozen thin fillets)
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsn capers
  • 4 green onions
  • 1 small bunch parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  1. Zest lemon and then squeeze the juice. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and melted butter.
  2. Rinse and dry fish fillets and arrange them in a single layer in a large oiled baking pan.  Overlapping is fine if you need to fit them in the pan. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Pour the lemon butter sauce over the fish.
  4. Slice half of the scallions into thin circles and slice the rest in half vertically and then into thin julienne slivers.
  5. Sprinkle the fish with capers, lemon zest, green onion circles and parsley.
  6. Top with lemon slices and scallion slivers.
  7. Roast at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Broil the last 5 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven and serve warm.

Wheatless Wednesday – Eggplant Fans

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Here is a ‘twist’ that you will LOVE on the traditional eggplant parm. (pun intended) Whenever I suggest making Eggplant Parmesan for dinner, my husband’s eyes light up.  It’s one of his favorite vegetarian dishes.  This time, however, I decided to shake it up; same old ingredients but different preparation. This version is not breaded and fried but sliced and stuffed with fresh tomatoes, garlic, fresh mozzarella and herbs, then baked to a golden brown and melty goodness.  A sprinkling of parmesan on top adds to a nice golden crust.

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Eggplant and tomatoes make a good couple, which is why you see them paired together so often along with fresh basil and a variety of cheeses.    I used fresh mozzarella and parmesan but you could easily use crumbled feta or goat cheese depending on your preferences or what you have in your refrigerator. Eggplant is one of the few vegetables that are filling enough to star as a main course. I used medium/large eggplants and found that the two eggplants served four people but those with large appetites may not agree.  In addition to being a favorite and versatile veggie, eggplant provides quite an impressive array of nutrients. Eggplant is a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B1, and copper. It is a good source of manganese, vitamin B6, niacin, potassium, folate, and vitamin K as well as phytonutrients.

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TIPS: My new favorite kitchen hack is olive oil in a spray bottle. It makes brushing slices of anything SO much easier and with better coverage.  You can use your own olive oil in a plastic or metal spray bottle or you can purchase it from most stores.  They have come a long way since PAM.  Just make sure it’s a good quality of oil.  Avocado oil is a good choice too.

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EGGPLANT TOMATO FANS
2 medium to large eggplant
3-4 large tomatoes
10-12 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
olive oil
salt
1/4- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
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  • Slice the egg plant lengthwise into thin slices taking care to keep the stem end attached.

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  • Salt each slice and let rest for 20 or 30 minutes to relase the excess water and any bitterness. Spray or brush olive or avocado oil onto all the slices.

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  • Layer tomato slices, mozzarella, garlic, half of basil and parsley in between each eggplant slice.

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  • Transfer to a baking dish and lightly press to flatten. Drizzle or spray with olive oil and bake for about an hour at 400 degrees. If too much water has been released into the pan, use a turkey baster to remove some of it.  The rest will evaporate.

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  • Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake another 20 minutes or so until golden brown and melty.

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  • Top with remaining fresh basil and serve hot or warm.

Eggplant Fans

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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2 medium to large eggplant
3-4 large tomatoes
10-12 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
olive oil
salt
1/4- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • Slice the egg plant lengthwise into thin slices taking care to keep the stem end attached.
  • Salt each slice and let rest for 20 or 30 minutes to relase the excess water and any bitterness.
  • Spray or brush olive or avocado oil onto all the slices.
  • Layer tomato slices, mozzarella, garlic, half of basil and parsley in between each eggplant slice.
  • Transfer to a baking dish and lightly press to flatten. Drizzle or spray with olive oil and bake for about an hour at 400 degrees. If too much water has been released into the pan, use a turkey baster to remove some of it.  The rest will evaporate.
  • Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake another 20 minutes or so until golden brown and melty.
  • Top with remaining fresh basil and serve hot or warm.

Black Bean Quinoa Salad with Avocado Citrus Dressing

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As promised, I tested the Mexican Quinoa Salad with Orange Lime Dressing from my Buzzfeed Life FB Post on Monday (25 Clean Eating Meals For Vegetarians). I mean, it has many of my food loves all in one bowl.  How could I resist – and why?  Of course I put my own spin on the original recipe, which will surprise no one. This salad is delicious and very satisfying with two great sources of protein in the red quinoa and black beans.  The avocado, in both the salad and in the dressing, adds a healthy fat and helps keep your belly feeling full and happy.  The Avocado Citrus Dressing is divine, just the right balance of creamy, savory and sweet and it’s easy to make spicy if that’s where your tastebuds are headed. Don’t be afraid to toss in a few tortilla chips to enhance the Mexican flavors of this dish.

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I like to use red quinoa in dishes that would normally be filled with ground beef or some other meat protein because it makes such a good substitute in both taste and texture. Quinoa is naturally high in protein and loaded with nutrition but low in fat and calories.  With the addition of black beans, this ‘salad’ becomes a real main course contender.  My meat eaters love it!  Red quinoa has a great consistency and when sauteed with onions, garlic and spices, just like you would with ground beef, it really picks up those savory flavors nicely. In fact, this black bean quinoa mixture is a great base for tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas or any other dish requiring a Mexican inspired filling.

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The vegetable toppings on this salad are so colorful, making this a dish worthy of company – or that pot luck that you never know what to bring.  It can be served slightly warm or at room temperature, making it a great busy day meal, especially when you have people going in many different directions.  If it were summer and corn was in season, I would use raw or grilled fresh corn kernels.  Since it’s winter, I used defrosted uncooked frozen corn. Each of these colorful veggies adds a whole new wealth of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants which is why we should try to Eat the Rainbow every day.

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Have you ever wondered how restaurants serve orange segments that are bright orange and have no pith?  Don’t peel them. Just cut off the top and then slice around the sides, then cut off the bottom.  Remove any remaining pith and then slice into gorgeous segments.  Yes, you lose a bit of the flesh but the result is so pretty and has no tough skins or bitter pith.  If you don’t care about that, peel and segment. Done!

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TIPS: This salad can be prepared as a layered, tossed or composed salad.  You can also make one large salad or prepare individual salad plates and cater to each of your diner’s tastes.  I combined the black beans with the quinoa mixture so that the beans would also absorb the garlic, onion and spice flavors.  If you want to make a composed or layered salad and want to keep the ingredients separate, you can serve the beans warmed up or room temperature.  I think they are fine plain with their natural salty flavor or you can sprinkle the beans with a bit of the spices and toss to coat.
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Original recipe from Minimalist Baker (link below).

MEXICAN QUINOA BLACK BEAN SALAD
  • 1/2 cup red or white quinoa (1 cup cooked )
  • 1 Tbsn olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed or 1 1/2 cup cooked
  • 5-6 cups mixed greens
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced or diced
  • 1 orange, peeled and segmented
  • 1/2  ripe avocado, sliced or chopped
  • 1 4 oz can sliced or whole black olives (optional)
  • 1 jalapeno or red chili pepper, sliced or diced (optional)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cup tortilla chips (optional)

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DRESSING
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 1 large lime, juiced  (1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 tsp honey (or other sweetener)
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/8 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or a dash of hot sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp fresh minced cilantro or parsley
  • 3-4 Tbsn olive oil or avocado oil
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  • Rinse 1/2 cup quinoa in a fine mesh strainer, then bring to a boil with 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook on low for 15-20 minutes or until the little ‘tails’ come out. Set aside

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  • Saute onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent.

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  • Add quinoa and spices to the onion mixture and saute several minutes. Taste and add another 1/4 teaspoon of each spice if desired.  If you like it spicy, add 1/4 teaspoon or more of cayenne pepper.

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  • Add black beans to the quinoa mixture (If you like a composed salad, skip this step and add the black beans separately to the salad. See TIPS.) Remove from heat and set aside. NOTE:  This quinoa black bean mixture is a great base for tacos or any other Mexican recipe.

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  • While quinoa is cooling, prepare vegetables.

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  • Place lettuces in a large bowl or on individual serving plates.

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  • Layer with warm or room temperature (not hot) quinoa mixture and top with corn, avocado, red onion, orange segments and olives.

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  • Prepare dressing by adding all ingredients to a blender or food processor and blending until creamy and smooth.  Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. For a less creamy dressing, leave out the avocado and simply whisk all ingredients together in a bowl.

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Drizzle dressing over salad and top with cilantro and tortilla chips, if desired.  Serve with lime wedges and extra hot sauce.cre

Mexican Quinoa Salad with Orange Lime Dressing

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 1/2 cup red or white quinoa (1 cup cooked )
  • 1 Tbsn olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed or 1 1/2 cup cooked
  • 5-6 cups mixed greens
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced or diced
  • 1 orange, peeled and segmented
  • 1/2  ripe avocado, sliced or chopped
  • 1 4 oz can sliced or whole black olives (optional)
  • 1 jalapeno or red chili pepper, sliced or diced (optional)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cup tortilla chips (optional)
DRESSING
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 1 large lime, juiced (1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 tsp honey (or other sweetener)
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/8 tsp chili powder (or sub extra hot sauce or chipotle powder)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or a dash of hot sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp fresh minced cilantro or parsley
  • 3-4 Tbsn olive oil or avocado oil
  1. Rinse 1/2 cup quinoa in a fine mesh strainer, then bring to a boil with 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook on low for 15-20 minutes or until the little ‘tails’ come out. Set aside
  2. Saute onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent.
  3. Add quinoa and spices to the onion mixture and saute several minutes. Taste and add another 1/4 teaspoon of each spice if desired.  If you like it spicy, add 1/4 teaspoon or more of cayenne pepper.
  4. Add black beans to the quinoa mixture (If you like a composed salad, skip this step and add the black beans separately to the salad. See TIPS.) Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Place lettuces in a large bowl or on individual serving plates.
  6. Layer with warm or room temperature (not hot) quinoa mixture
  7. Top with corn, avocado, red onion, orange segments and olives.
  8. Prepare dressing by adding all ingredients to a blender or food processor and blending until creamy and smooth.  Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. For a less creamy dressing, leave out the avocado and simply whisk all ingredients together in a bowl.
  9. Drizzle orange lime dressing over salad and adorn with cilantro and tortilla chips, if desired.  Serve with lime wedges and extra hot sauce.

Recipe adapted from Minimalist Baker, a great cooking site worth checking out.  

Mexican Quinoa Salad with Orange Lime Dressing

Green Bean & Chick Pea Salad with Goat Cheese & Lemon Herb Vinaigrette

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Sometimes I want a salad that goes beyond lettuce and vegetables, one that is hearty enough to have for dinner.  This green bean salad has it all; garbanzo beans for protein and bulk, spicy radiches, sweet cherry tomatoes and creamy goat cheese drizzled with a fresh herb vinaigrette.  I loved the combination of flavors and colors in this salad, with it’s array of green, red, purple, yellow, beige and white.  (Yes, even the beige and white provide important nutrients). You know when your meal is colorful that you are doing a good job of eating the rainbow. In other words, you are getting a wide assortment of nutrients from your food.

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Each color provides something different, which is why it’s a good idea to eat a variety of foods. The star of this salad, though is the green beans which I think are often forgotten about except for at Thanksgiving when Aunt Ellie brings out her traditional Green Bean Casserole topped with fried onions(Although I have to admit it’s one of my favorites too).  Green beans are a great base for a salad and pair nicely with beans, mushrooms or potatoes to provide a substantial belly-filling meal.  

Health Benefits of Green Beans

Green beans are low in calories and fat and contain no cholesterol. The fiber content of green beans is very high, and it also provides some of your daily protein requirements. They also act as an easy source for acquiring vitamins like A, C, K, B6, and folic acid. In terms of minerals, green beans are a good source of calcium, silicon, iron, manganese, potassium, and copper.

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I got the idea for the vinaigrette from a bit of Lemon Parsley Pesto that was left from my https://goodmotherdiet.com/2016/02/08/meatless-monday-roasted-artichokes-fennel-with-lemon-parsley-pesto/ post on Monday.  I had loved the flavors and thought it would make a good dressing, and it did!  So I recreated the recipe as a vinaigrette which you can make with or without the nuts, which I love and include every time I get a chance.  I did not include parmesan because I was already adding goat cheese to the salad, and I thought it might get too heavy, but you could certainly include a tablespoon of that as well, especially if you aren’t adding cheese to your salad.

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TIPS:  You can make the whole salad ahead of time and either let it rest, undressed, on the counter or in the refrigerator covered with a paper towel. You can also prepare the beans and vinaigrette the day before and toss the salad when ready.  Or if you are in a real hurry, just use your favorite prepared salad dressing. I like to make a lot of different salad dressings and recently bought several small glass containers, like the one I used for this vinaigrette, from The Container Store.  I usually don’t use it all and that way I always have a good homemade dressing ready to go.

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GREEN BEAN AND CHICK PEAS WITH LEMON HERB VINAIGRETTE

1 lb fresh green beans
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2-3 radishes
6-8 cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup feta, goat cheese (or vegan cheese), crumbled (optional)
small handful arugula or whole sprigs parsley(optional)

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Lemon Herb Vinaigrette

1/4 cup lemon juice (plus zest from one lemon, optional)
1 Tbsn apple cider or red wine vinegar (or more to thin)
2 Tbsn fresh herbs (parsley, thyme or oregano), minced (or 1 tsp dried)
1 Tbsn pistachios, walnuts or pinenuts, finely minced (optional)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

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  • Blanch the green beans in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender-crisp, 3 minutes. Remove the green beans from the boiling water, run under cold water for a few minutes to stop the cooking, and then drain and dry with a paper towel (add ice cubes, if desired to speed the cooling process)

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  • Cut radishes into thin slices, cherry tomatoes in halves and red onion in thin slices.

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  • Place green beans in a large serving dish.

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  • Spread garbanzo beans evenly among green beans.

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  • Top with radishes, tomatoes and onions. Sprinkle arugula leaves on top, if using.

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  • Mix together vinaigrette ingredients and set aside.

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  • Sprinkle with crumbled cheese.

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  • Drizzle vinaigrette or serve on the side.

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Green Bean and Chick Pea Salad with Lemon Herb Vinaigrette

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 lb fresh green beans
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2-3 radishes
6-8 cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup feta or goat cheese, crumbled
small handful arugula or whole sprigs parsley(optional)

Lemon Herb Vinaigrette

1/4 cup lemon juice (plus zest from one lemon, optional)
1 Tbsn apple cider or red wine vinegar (or more to thin)
2 Tbsn fresh herbs (parsley, thyme or oregano), minced (or 1 tsp dried)
1 Tbsn pistachios, walnuts or pinenuts, finely minced (optional)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

  • Blanch the green beans in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender-crisp, 3 minutes. Remove the green beans from the boiling water, run under cold water for a few minutes to stop the cooking, and then drain and dry with a paper towel
  • Cut radishes into thin slices, cherry tomatoes in halves and red onion in thin slices.
  • Place green beans in a large serving dish.
  • Top with radishes, tomatoes and onions
  • Mix together vinaigrette ingredients and set aside.
  • Sprinkle with crumbled cheese.
  • Drizzle vinaigrette or serve on the side.

 

Blackened Rainbow Fish Tacos with Spicy Avocado Sauce

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Looking for healthy and delicious goodies to serve at the Superbowl Halftime?  These yummy Blackened Fish Tacos will not disappoint.  They can be served as a make-it-yourself Taco Bar or as pre-made sliders to serve a large crowd and they are really fun, with a colorful topping of Rainbow ‘slaw’ that includes fresh sweet mango, avocado, black beans and jalapeno, and topped with a dollop of Spicy Avocado Sauce.  I like to include black beans in the slaw.  Their earthy saltiness adds a nice contrast to the crunchy sweet and spice of the rest of the fruits and veggies.  Plus the addition of black beans allows vegetarians or non-fish eaters to make delicious and satisfying tacos too. I know nutrition is not the top priority of SuperBowl cuisine, but you can rest assured that these tacos will be popular and pack a huge nutrional punch without all the extra calories.

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Well the good news is that Punxatawny Phil didn’t see his shadow yesterday on GroundHog Day, which means Spring will come early this year, although I’m not sure that Phil is a trustworthy predictor of spring.  In fact, according to the StormFax Almanac Phil has been right only 39 percent of the time. Since his first prediction in 1887, Phil has seen his shadow 102 times and not seen it on just 18 occasions, including this year.  I guess Spring will come when it comes but I can’t wait.  I know we need the rain in California but…

I love Mexican food, especially tacos!  The spicier the better in my book.  Halibut makes a great taco base since it’s mild in flavor and really picks up the wow of the spices.  It’s also firm in texture so it doesn’t turn to mush or fall apart in the taco even when you add multiple toppings. I used the smaller, slider sized, corn tortillas which are fun for large gatherings, if you can find them, like the Superbowl.  That way I get to eat two for the price of one… yum!  I also liked the way this avocado sauce set itself apart from guacamole (which I also love) and doesn’t include any sour cream or other fatty fillers, just lots of lovely flavor.  For a spicier sauce, include more jalapeno and some of the seeds.  The honey is added to offset the acidity of the apple cider vinegar and lime juice, not to make it sweet.  Of course, you could always omit the honey if you like it tangy.  For a creamier sauce, substitute yogurt and a little water for the vinegar.  It’s hard to go wrong with avocado, so feel free to experiment.

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TIPS:  To easily cut a mango into chunks, slice the mango lengthwise, on the flat side just to the right of the large pit.  Cut the fleshy part of the mango lengthwise and then crosswise (without cutting into the skin) and invert mango to expose mango sections.  Then easily cut off mango cubes.  The avocado sauce and the rainbow/mango topping can be made ahead of time and refrigerated.  I found that both Rainbow Slaw and Avocado Sauce held up really well overnight in the refrigerator.

For more SuperBowl recipes, check out my blog post this Friday. Cheers!

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BLACKENED RAINBOW FISH TACOS

2 lbs halibut, skin removed (or other mild fish)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsn cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Blackened Old Bay (optional)
1 tsp salt
8 corn tortillas (or 16 slider sized)
1 cup queso fresco (optional)

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RAINBOW MANGO TOPPING (Makes a generous salad/can easily be halved)

1 avocado, diced
1/2 mango, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 cup purple cabbage, shredded or chopped
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 jalapeno, diced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juiced (2-3 Tbsn)

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SPICY AVOCADO SAUCE

1 ripe avocado
1 jalapeno (with or without seeds)
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup cilantro
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 lime, juiced (2-3 Tbsn)
1-2 Tbsn honey (or more to taste)
salt and pepper to taste

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  • Wash halibut filets and pat dry.  Cut into bite sized pieces and place in a shallow container.

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  • Combine chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, Old Bay and salt in a small bowl.

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  • Sprinkle spice mixture over halibut and stir to cover evenly and set aside.

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  • Place all Rainbow Mango ingredients in a serving bowl and toss to combine.

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  • Place all Avocado Sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Start with just one tablespoon of honey and then adjust according to taste.  Pour into a serving bowl (top with avocado pit to keep from turning brown).

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  • Wrap tortillas in foil and heat in a 250 degree oven.  Heat olive oil in a heavy pan, cast iron if possible, until quite hot.  Add halibut to hot pan and cook several minutes, stirring to sear all sides.  Remove from heat to prevent overcooking.

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  • Assemble tacos, by placin a few pieces of halibut in each tortilla and a spoonful of Rainbow Mango Topping.  Top with a drizzle of Spicy Avocado Sauce

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Blackened Rainbow Fish Tacos with Spicy Avocado Sauce

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 20160127_203858

BLACKENED RAINBOW FISH TACOS

2 lbs halibut, skin removed (or other mild fish)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsn cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Blackened Old Bay (optional)
1 tsp salt
8 corn tortillas (or 16 slider sized)
1 cup queso fresco (optional)

RAINBOW MANGO TOPPING

1 avocado, diced
1/2 mango, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 cup purple cabbage, shredded
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 jalapeno, diced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juiced (2-3 Tbsn)

SPICY AVOCADO SAUCE

1 ripe avocado
1 jalapeno (with or without seeds)
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup cilantro
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 lime, juiced (2-3 Tbsn)
2 Tbsn honey (or more to taste)
salt and pepper to taste

  • Wash halibut filets and pat dry.  Cut into bite sized pieces and place in a shallow container.
  • Combine chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, Old Bay and salt in a small bowl and sprinkle over halibut and stir to cover evenly and set aside.
  • Place all Rainbow Mango ingredients in a serving bowl and toss to combine.
  • Place all Avocado Sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth.  Pour into a serving bowl (top with avocado pit to keep from turning brown).
  • Wrap tortillas in foil and heat in a 250 degree oven.
  • Heat olive oil in a heavy pan, cast iron if possible, until quite hot.  Add halibut to hot pan and cook several minutes, stirring to sear all sides.  Remove from heat to prevent overcooking.
  • Assemble tacos, by placin a few pieces of halibut in each tortilla and a spoonful of Rainbow Mango Topping.  Top with a drizzle of Spicy Avocado Sauce

Wheatless Wednesday – Ginger Miso Tofu Noodle Bowl

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The Japanese have known the health benefits of miso and scallions and have used miso soup to cure the common cold since ancient times, kind of like a vegetarian version of homemade chicken soup. We have all had miso soup in Japanese restaurants, that savory broth with tiny cubes of tofu and thinly sliced scallions  floating on top. Usually, in restaurants we consider it as a small starter before the main courses arrive but in Japan miso soup is a staple and eaten for breakfast and throughout the day loaded with eggs, fish and other garnishes.  So I figure that they must be onto a good thing and decided to create a miso soup that is simple to make but worthy of being a main course for lunch or dinner, and I came up with this Ginger Miso Tofu Noodle Bowl. For more on using miso soup to cure the common cold check out this article:  Miso Soup: An Ancient Remedy for the Common Cold by NJ Acupuncturist Robert Vena

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It is delicious and satisfying and can be made spicy or mild depending on tastes.  I simmered bok choy, carrots, snow peas and cubes of tofu in miso broth and then served them over rice noodles.  I offered a selection of garnishes which, in my opinion, really makes the dish.   Not surprisingly, everyone’s noodle bowl looked different.

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What is miso anyway?  Miso is a Japanese word that means “fermented beans”, which are almost always soybeans, although other grains can be added to achieve certain flavors, resulting in many different varieties of miso available.  I used a white miso, which is lighter in color and milder in flavor, however any kind of miso will work just as well.  Miso is a good source of fiber and protein and a great way to increase your nutrient intake while you think you are just adding flavor.  In fact, adding  two tablespoons of miso to a soup or stir-fry, is the equivalent of approximately one-quarter cup of a legume(like lentils).  Miso is also  a very good source of copper, manganese and a good source of vitamin K, zinc, phosphorus, and omega-3 fatty acids.  It also has naturally occurring pro-biotics, those beneficial bacteria that are so good for our bellies.

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TIPS:  Making miso broth is easy but you can also find miso broths already prepared or in dried form that are pretty tasty too.  When purchasing both tofu and miso, make sure they are labelled organic since a wide majority (90% in the U.S.) of soy based products are made from genetically modified soybeans, those dasterdly GMO’s which are to be avoided at all costs. Miso is generally simmered on medium or medium low to prevent the loss of nutrients, so don’t let your soup boil! One last tip, noodles tend to get soft and mushy if left sitting in broth, so add them to the broth just before serving.

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GINGER MISO TOFU NOODLE BOWL

8 oz medium width rice noodles (or soba)
3-4 Tbsn shiro miso (white fermented-soybean paste)
6 cups vegetable broth (or water)
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced (or ginger paste) or more to taste
1 lb extra firm organic tofu
2 carrots, roughly chopped or sliced
1 cup snowpeas
2 bok choy, sliced in half lengthwise

TOPPINGS (all optional)
3-4 scallions, sliced into rings
3-4 radishes, thinly sliced
1-2 red chili peppers(or sweet mini red peppers), thinly sliced into rings
2 Tbsn cilantro, roughly chopped

 

  • Place miso in a small bowl with hot water and stir until dissolved.

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  • Prepare noodles as directed, rinse with cold water and divide among four bowls

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  • Prepare all soup ingredients. Cut tofu into cubes and let drain on paper towels.

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  • Prepare all toppings.

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  • Pour miso and remaining vegetable broth into a stockpot or wide saucepan. On medium heat, simmer carrots for about a minute, then add bok choy, snowpeas and tofu and simmer about five minutes.  Don’t let it boil or some of the nutrients in the miso will be lost.

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  • Spoon vegetables between the four bowls and pour in the broth.

 

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  • Top with radishes, scallions, chili peppers and cilantro, as desired.  Sriracha is also a great spicy addition.

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Ginger Miso Tofu Noodle Bowl

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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8 oz medium width rice noodles (or soba)
3-4 Tbsn shiro miso (white fermented-soybean paste)
6 cups vegetable broth (or water)
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced (or ginger paste) or more to taste
1 lb extra firm organic tofu
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 cup snowpeas
2 bok choy, sliced in half lengthwise

TOPPINGS (all optional)
3-4 scallions, sliced into rings
3-4 radishes, thinly sliced
1-2 red chili peppers(or sweet mini red peppers), thinly sliced into rings
2 Tbsn cilantro, roughly chopped

  • Place miso in a small bowl with hot water and stir until dissolved.
  • Cut tofu into cubes and let drain on paper towels.
  • Prepare noodles as directed, rinse with cold water and divide among four bowls
  • Prepare all soup ingredients and toppings.
  • Pour miso and remaining vegetable broth into a stockpot or wide saucepan.
  • On medium heat, simmer carrots for about a minute, then add bok choy, snowpeas and tofu and simmer about five minutes
  • Spoon vegetables between the four bowls and pour in the broth.
  • Top with radishes, scallions, chili peppers and cilantro, as desired.  Sriracha is also a great spicy addition.

Pan Seared Halibut with Lemon Caper Sauce over Roasted Fennel and Garlic Mashed Potatoes

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One might think with the dearth of posts from Goodmotherdiet that I am still on vacation, or at least being very lazy.  Well the truth is that I was on a lovely vacation with our friends, Bob and Julie, in beautiful Anguilla (part of the British Virgin Islands)  where we enjoyed 82 degrees every day, long beach walks, bike rides through the countryside, yoga overlooking the ocean and mango margaritas at sunset. Yes, we were spoiled AND it was so nice to get out of the rain! I flew back several days ago, however, my suitcase, in a rogue attempt to extend it’s vacation in the tropics, stayed behind in St. Maarten.  Nestled in among my bathing suits and beach wraps was, you guessed it,  my laptop charge cord.  I had my laptop but without power it was very hard to use.  Rest assured that I do have several new recipes to post, once I get the photos downloaded and recipes written.  So stay tuned for Pasta with Parm Roasted Cauliflower and Power Greens and a Tofu Noodle Bowl.  The beauty of this guilt inspired post though is that it is really a triple whammie, three recipes that I think all work well together, but you can pick and choose at will.  Make just one or all three!

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I love this flavor combination. Halibut is a mild but flavorful fish with a really great texture that is gets crispy golden on the outside and light and flaky on the inside when pan roasted.  Served over the top of roasted fennel and creamy, smooth garlic mashed potatoes with the delicious and savory lemon caper sauce drizzled over the top of everything…heaven!  The halibut recipe is easy and fast.  The halibut cooks in about 6 minutes and the sauce takes another 5 minutes and there is very little prep work.  Add a salad and dinner can definitely be on the table in 15 minutes!  The fennel and mashed potatoes take a little longer but are totally worth it.

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I love fennel, both raw in salads and cooked, but my favorite preparation is simply roasted with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Fennel has a very elegant taste and has a delicate but sweet flavor when roasted. If you slice the bulbs into ‘steaks’, it is a very pretty presentation too. I’ll bet you didn’t know (I didn’t either) that fennel is in the carrot family. I would not have guessed that little fun fact.  Fennel is thought to have many health benefits and has been used in natural remedies since ancient times.  It is loaded with nutrients; iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc and vitamin K content present in fennel all contribute to building and maintaining bone structure and strength, so ladies in particular, take note.

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TIPS: I have written this as three separate recipes and you should be able to print them that way.  If you want to make all three (which I recommend), start by roasting the garlic and getting the potatoes boiling.  Then slice the fennel, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with spices and put that in the oven with the garlic. Finish off the mashed potatoes and take the fennel out of the oven and set aside.  Pan sear the halibut, make the sauce and dinner is served! Note:  garlic can be roasted way ahead of time and left to cool.

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PAN ROASTED HALIBUT WITH LEMON CAPER SAUCE

  • 4 Halibut fillets
  • 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning (optional)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsn butter
  • 2 Tbsn olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large lemon (about 1/4 cup lemon juice)
  • 2 tsp lemon zest (optional)
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 Tbsn capers
  • 1 Tbsn parsley, chopped

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  • Season both sides of fillets with salt, pepper and Old Bay, if using. Heat olive oil and butter in a large pan over medium heat until very hot. Place halibut fillets in pan and sear for 3-4 minutes, then flip and cook the other side for another 2-3.

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  • Remove from heat and loosely cover to keep warm.

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  • Lower heat and add the garlic and cook until fragrant. 2-3 minutes. Add lemon juice and wine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer 5 minutes, until thickened.

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  • Stir in the capers, parsley and lemon zest, taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

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  • Transfer fish to serving plates and spoon sauce over the top.

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ROASTED FENNEL

  • 2 large bulbs fennel
  • 1-2 Tbsn olive oil (or olive oil spray)
  • 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano or Italian Seasoning

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  • Remove fennel stalk and cut lengwise into thick slices.

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  • Brush or spray both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with oregano, salt and pepper.

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  • Roast at 425 degrees, turning once for about 25 minutes.

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GARLIC MASHED POTATOES

  • 2 large russet potatoes
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1/2 cup milk (or almond milk )
  • 3 Tbsn butter
  • salt to taste

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  • Slice top off of garlic bulb, exposing the cloves.  Drizzle with olive oil and wrap in foil.  Bake at 425 degrees for about an hour.  Remove from heat and let cool.

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  • Peel potatoes and cut them into chunks.  Boil about 20 minutes, or until very soft.  Drain potatoes and place them in a large bowl.  Squeeze garlic into potatoes and puree using a potato masher or food processor.
  • Add milk, butter and salt and pulse or stir to combine.

 

Pan Roasted Haliut with Lemon Caper Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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PAN ROASTED HALIBUT WITH LEMON CAPER SAUCE

  • 4 Halibut fillets
  • 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning (optional)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsn butter
  • 2 Tbsn olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large lemon (about 1/4 cup lemon juice)
  • 2 tsp lemon zest (optional)
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 Tbsn capers
  • 1 Tbsn parsley, chopped
  • Season both sides of fillets with salt, pepper and Old Bay, if using. Heat olive oil and butter in a large pan over medium heat until very hot.
  • Place halibut fillets in pan and sear for 3-4 minutes, then flip and cook the other side for another 2-3.
  • Remove from heat and loosely cover to keep warm.
  • Lower heat and add the garlic and cook until fragrant. 2-3 minutes. Add lemon juice and wine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer 5 minutes, until thickened.
  • Stir in the capers, parsley and lemon zest, taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
  • Transfer to serving plates and spoon sauce over the top.

Roasted Fennel

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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ROASTED FENNEL

  • 2 large bulbs fennel
  • 1-2 Tbsn olive oil (or olive oil spray)
  • 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano or Italian Seasoning
  • Remove fennel stalk and cut lengwise into thick slices.
  • Brush or spray both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with oregano, salt and pepper.
  • Roast at 425 degrees, turning once for about 25 minutes.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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GARLIC MASHED POTATOES

  • 2 large russet potatoes
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1/2 cup milk (or almond milk )
  • 3 Tbsn butter
  • salt to taste
  • Slice top off of garlic bulb, exposing the cloves.  Drizzle with olive oil and wrap in foil.  Bake at 425 degrees for about an hour.  Remove from heat and let cool.
  • Peel potatoes and cut them into chunks.  Boil about 20 minutes, or until very soft.
  • Drain potatoes and place them in a large bowl.  Squeeze garlic into potatoes and puree using a potato masher or food processor.
  • Add milk, butter and salt and stir to combine.

Wheatless Wednesday – Collard & Black Eyed Pea Soup

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How about a bowl of comfort?  It’s chilly outside, so we’re making soup; healthy, yummy goodness in a bowl.  I am making this soup for lunch today and the house smells heavenly.   Last night was a stormy and today is another dreary and rainy day in California.  It just doesn’t stop raining.  Can I call the dought over yet?  Our cup streets literally runneth over.   At least my delicious soup is warming me up from the inside out.   I already feel it warding off my seasonal sniffles…

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I don’t see fresh black eyed peas very often so when I do I get very excited as they are so delicious, nothing like their canned counterparts and I have to admit that I don’t often think ahead to soak dried beans overnight (although both of those options will work too).  Black eyed peas are not really peas.  They are beans and high in fiber and protein, and good sources of iron and potassium.  They are also delicious and a personal favorite. Then I spotted these giant collard leaves and the rest is history.

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I have often heard that the pairing of black eyed peas and collard is a natural fit, at least it is so in the South, so decided to give it a go.  Now, I can see why.  I have never used collard greens before, although last year my friend, Kerri begged me for collard recipes because she kept getting collards in her CSA box. Apparently, collard greens are more plentiful in Virginia than they are here. Well here you go Kerri, a year later.  I’m not sure what took me so long.  Collard greens are loaded with nutrition, add more fiber, protein and iron plus a whole slew of other nutrients.  Plus, they are great in this soup.  If you don’t have (or don’t like) collard greens, you can substitute kale or chard.

TIPS:  Black eyed peas are available fresh, frozen, canned or dried.  I have included cooking directions for each type.  For frozen peas, thaw and use as fresh.

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COLLARD AND BLACK EYED PEA SOUP

11 oz tub of fresh black eyed peas (or 1 1/2 cups dried or canned)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
6 cups vegetable broth
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp dried oregano or Italian seasoning (or fresh)
1 bunch collard greens
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
Cayenne pepper to taste

  • If you are using dried black eyed peas, pick through peas to remove any debris and rinse well. Transfer to a large bowl, cover by 3 inches with water, cover and set aside at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight; drain and rinse well.  If you are using fresh or canned peas, rinse and set aside.

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  • Heat oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add onion, garlic, celery and carrots. Saute until onion is translucent, 5 to 10 minutes.

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  • Add peas, broth and tomatoes and simmer, partially covered, until peas are tender, about 15-20 minutes for fresh peas and up to 45 minutes for dried.

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  • Rinse collard greens, remove tough stem and ribs and chop leaves.

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  • Add collard greens to soup and simmer until tender, 15 to 20 minutes more. Taste broth and season with salt (if needed), pepper and cayenne.

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  • Serve hot.

Collard and Black Eyed Pea Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 20160106_101124

11 oz tub of fresh black eyed peas (or 1 1/2 cups dried or canned)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
6 cups vegetable broth
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp dried oregano or Italian seasoning (or fresh)
1 bunch collard greens
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
Cayenne pepper to taste

  • If you are using dried black eyed peas, pick through peas to remove any debris and rinse well. Transfer to a large bowl, cover by 3 inches with water, cover and set aside at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight; drain and rinse well.  If you are using fresh or canned peas, rinse and set aside.
  • Heat oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add onion, garlic, celery and carrots. Saute until onion is translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add peas, broth and tomatoes and simmer, partially covered, until peas are tender, about 15-20 minutes for fresh peas and up to 45 minutes for dried.
  • Rinse collard greens, remove tough stem and ribs and chop leaves.
  • Add collard greens to soup and simmer until tender, 15 to 20 minutes more. Taste broth and season with salt (if needed), pepper and cayenne.
  • Serve with shredded or flaked parmesan, if desired.

Wheatless Wednesday – Chili Prawn Linguine with Wilted Greens

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Shrimp is America’s number one seafood, beating out salmon, crab, clams, tilapia and even canned tuna.  I can take or leave shrimp but my family really loves it so I do prepare it occasionally.  Even I really liked this savory Chili Prawn Pasta with Wilted Greens. This is an elegant and tasty dish worthy of company or a special dinner, but it’s deceptively easy and fast. If you buy pre-shelled shrimp, the prep time is very short and dinner can be ready in the time it takes to boil the pasta. Now that is what I call fast food!

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Pasta is often thought of as empty carbs but that is not completely true. In processing traditional pasta the bran layer and oil-rich germ is removed which gives an indefinite shelf life, a quick cooking time, a familiar texture and a mild, versatile flavor. Depending on the type, however, 50 to 90 percent of a grain’s nutrients and phytonutrients are removed during processing. To address this substantial loss of nutrients, the United States government requires refined flour to be enriched with specific vitamins and minerals, including iron and the B vitamins folic acid, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin, so it may not be as bad as you think.  Whole-grain pasta is an excellent source of B vitamins and iron, which occur naturally and provides significantly higher levels of essential trace minerals and fiber.  The most common whole-grain pastas are made from whole wheat or buckwheat, but there are many new combinations available now made with brown rice, quinoa, spelt, farro and kamut which are good gluten free options.  I tried a new multi-grain pasta for this dish, made with red quinoa and amaranth.  I liked the flavor but be warned that some whole grain pastas can get sticky if overcooked. I always save a cup of pasta water before draining and then adding some of it back to prevent the pasta from sticking together. Some whole grain pasta, this one included, don’t increase in volume when cooked so I had to double the quantity of dry pasta.

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So how does the nutrition of traditional pasta made with refined flour stack up with whole grain pasta?  A 1-cup serving of plain, cooked enriched spaghetti provides 221 calories, 8.1 grams of protein, 1.3 grams of fat and 43.2 grams of carbohydrates, of which 2.5 grams are fiber, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. By comparison, 1 cup of cooked whole-wheat spaghetti has 174 calories, about 7.5 grams of protein, less than 1 gram of fat and 37.2 grams of carbohydrates, of which 6.3 grams are fiber — an amount equivalent to 25 percent of the daily value for fiber. ( HealthyEating.SFGate)  Surprisingly, refined pasta is not a bad choice (thanks to the US government), so I no longer feel guilty when digging into a big plate of pasta in a restaurant.  When I cook at home, though, I prefer to use whole grains.

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NOTES ON SHRIMP AND PRAWNS:  When buying shrimp, look for wild vs farmed shrimp, if possible, and pay attention to where they are from.  According to Seafood Watch, wild-caught shrimp is generally a “Best Choice” or “Good Alternative” with the exception of shrimp fisheries in Mexico and Thailand, which are on the “Avoid” list for poor management. Most “Best Choice” shrimp is caught in Alaska, but there are other great farmed and wild options. Buy these first, then look for a “Good Alternative” like U.S. Gulf of Mexico shrimp. Only buy imported shrimp if you’re sure it’s from a “Best Choice” or “Good Alternative” source. Heads up: You’re good to go if the shrimp is caught in a way that reduces harm to sea turtles. Also, over 90% of our shrimp is imported. Farmed shrimp from the U.S. is also a good option.  However, 90% of our shrimp is imported farmed shrimp, mostly from Asia, and is generally on the “Avoid” list due to questionable practices including overcrowding, chemicals, poor quality of food and even abusive labor conditions. So even though they are likely to be more expensive than farmed, wild-caught shrimp are also better for you. Go to Seafood Watch for a current listing of shrimp fishing practices around the world.

TIPS:  The shelling process is not difficult but does take a bit of effort.  You can shorten the prep time by about 10 minutes by purchasing prawns that have already been shelled and deveined. Just make sure the tails have been left on for best presentation.  Don’t skip the step of drying the prawns or your shrimp won’t sear properly and might curl into tight little balls when you cook them instead of keeping their gorgeous traditional shape.

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CHILI PRAWN LINGUINE WITH WILTED GREENS

  • 2 lbs raw prawns
  • 8 oz linguine or spaghetti (wheat or gluten-free if desired)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp Creole Seasoning (optional)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
  • fresh red chillies, sliced thinly (or 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes)
  • 3 cups fresh greens (spinach, kale, arugula, etc)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsn fresh mixed herbs (parsley, oregano, thyme or basil), chopped (optional)

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  • Shell and devein prawns, leaving tails intact. There are two veins that should be removed; a white one that you remove along with the legs and a black one (usually) along the back that can be removed with a sharp knife.  The black vein (poopy vein) especially gets gritty when cooked.

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  • Dry prawns on a layer of papertowels.

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  • Cook pasta in large saucepan of boiling water, according to instructions, until just tender. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water then drain pasta and return it to the pan. Add a bit of pasta water if pasta seems dry or sticky. Meanwhile, heat half the oil in large frying pan. Cook prawns, without crowding, just until they just change colour.

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  • Turn to cook the other side and remove from pan and loosely cover. I love Tony’s Creole Seasoning with prawns, so I sprinkle a pinch on them while cooking but this is not necessary if you don’t have it.

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  • Heat remaining oil in same frying pan. Cook garlic and chilli, stirring, until fragrant.

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  • Stir in greens and saute until slightly wilted. Taste and add salt and more red pepper, if desired.

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  • Put prawns, reserved cooking liquid and greens mixture in with pasta. Toss to combine, top with fresh herbs and serve immediately.

Chile Prawn Linguine with Wilted Greens

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 20151224_194857

  • 2 lbs raw prawns
  • 8 oz linguine or spaghetti (wheat or gluten free if desired)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp Creole Seasoning (optional)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
  • fresh red chillies, sliced thinly (or 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes)
  • 3 cups fresh greens (spinach, kale, arugula, etc)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsn fresh mixed herbs (parsley, oregano, thyme or basil), chopped (optional)
  1. Shell and devein prawns, leaving tails intact. Make sure to remove the vein along the back as well with a sharp knife.
  2. Dry prawns on a layer of papertowels.
  3. Cook pasta in large saucepan of boiling water, according to instructions, until just tender. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water then drain pasta and return it to the pan. Add a bit of pasta water if pasta seems dry or sticky.
  4. Meanwhile, heat half the oil in large frying pan. Cook prawns, without crowding, just until they just change colour. Turn to cook the other side and remove from pan and loosely cover. I love Tony’s Creole Seasoning with prawns, so I sprinkle a pinch on them while cooking but this is not necessary if you don’t have it.
  5. Heat remaining oil in same frying pan. Cook garlic and chilli, stirring, until fragrant.
  6. Stir in greens and saute until slightly wilted. Taste and add salt and more red pepper, if desired.
  7. Put prawns, reserved cooking liquid and greens mixture in with pasta. Toss to combine, top with fresh herbs and serve immediately.
 

Wheatless Wednesday – 5 Ingredient Thai Pumpkin Soup

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Brrr…It’s cold outside.  Warm up with this easy and delicious hot soup.  With only 5 ingredients, including pumpkin from a can, this tasty vegan soup is ready in less than 10 minutes.  (Deborah, this one is for you!) With a bit of spice from red curry paste, this soup will delight your tastebuds and warm you from your head to your toes.  Best of all, the recipe is so quick and easy, making it a great last minute throw together meal with items straight from your pantry. It just tastes like it’s been bubbling away on the stove all day.  Just add crusty bread or a salad and dinner is ready. Sometimes you just need to get dinner on the table STAT or it’s going to be takeout again…This is a recipe I spotted on Foodie Crush which is a great source of foodie inspiration so check out her site, but I think the original recipe is from “The Instant Cook”‘ by Donna Hay.

We know that using canned pumpkin is a time saver and allows us to use pumpkin all year around and not just in the Fall/Winter when it is in season, but is canned pumpkin as healthful as fresh?  It actually appears that it does have some other  benefits than just being convenient.  ‘Canned pumpkin has a concentrated density so has more calories per serving than fresh pumpkin and higher amounts of several essential nutrients. One-half cup of canned pumpkin has 40 calories, 9 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 0.5 gram of fat, 5 milligrams of sodium and 2 grams of protein, according to the University of Illinois. One-half cup of canned pumpkin has 17,500 international unites of vitamin A, almost twice the amount one-half cup of fresh pumpkin provides. This serving also includes 4.8 milligrams of vitamin C, 40 milligrams of calcium and 2 milligrams of iron. Canned pumpkin offers more fiber, protein, vitamin A, calcium and iron than fresh, boiled pumpkin.’ (Jillian Michaels) Some cooks actually prefer canned pumpkin to fresh, especially in baking, probably due to it’s density of nutrients and thicker, less watery consistency.

So don’t feel like a deadbeat cook for using canned or boxed pumpkin.  Just think of yourself as making smart choices, but do make sure you buy organic canned pumpkin that does not contain any salt, spices or ingredients other than pumpkin. The label should indicate that it is organic pumpkin with nothing added, especially pumpkin pie spice and/or sugar.

TIPS:   If you are a purist and prefer to use a fresh pumpkin instead of the canned variety, choose a 2-3 pound pumpkin, peel, seed and chop it and simmer in veggie broth or water for about 5-10 minutes or until pumpkin is tender. Puree in a food processor, blender or with an immersion blender until smooth then return to the pan.OR you can cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and roast it until soft. Remove the skin, then puree it. Continue the recipe at the coconut milk stage. To add more protein, add chunks of tofu, toasted pumpkin seeds or cooked quinoa and cook until warmed through.

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5 INGREDIENT THAI PUMPKIN SOUP

2 tablespoons red curry paste
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth, about 32 ounces
2 15 ounce cans pumpkin puree
1¾ cup coconut milk, or a 13.5 ounce can, reserving 1 tablespoon or more
1 large red chili pepper, sliced

cilantro for garnish (optional)

  • In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the curry paste for about one minute or until paste becomes fragrant. Add the broth and the pumpkin and stir.

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  • Cook for about 3 minutes or until soup starts to bubble. Add the coconut milk and cook until hot, about 3 minutes.

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  • Ladle into bowls and garnish with a drizzle of the reserved coconut milk and sliced red chilis. Garnish with cilantro leaves if desired.

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5 Ingredient Thai Pumpkin Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth, about 32 ounces
  • 2 15 ounce cans pumpkin puree
  • 1¾ cup coconut milk, or a 13.5 ounce can, reserving 1 tablespoon or more
  • 1 large red chili pepper, sliced
  • cilantro for garnish (optional)
  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the curry paste for about one minute or until paste becomes fragrant. Add the broth and the pumpkin and stir.
  2. Cook for about 3 minutes or until soup starts to bubble. Add the coconut milk and cook until hot, about 3 minutes.
  3. Ladle into bowls and garnish with a drizzle of the reserved coconut milk and sliced red chilis. Garnish with cilantro leaves if desired.