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

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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)

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

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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

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  • 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.

 

 

Wheatless Wednesday – Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed with Eggplant, Tomatoes and Mozzarella

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If you are looking for an easy and delicious dinner, this is it!   Lovely and earthy portobello mushrooms are stuffed with a mixture of chopped eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, mozzarella and parmesan then baked to melty, oozy vegetable goodness.  I served my mushrooms over a spinach and arugula salad with persimmons, spiced pecans and pomegranate seeds tossed in a light oil and vinegar dressing. ( Will feature on GMD soon).  For a heartier meal, serve over a whole grain like farro or brown rice cooked in vegetable broth.  The beauty of this dish is that there is no sauteeing or pre-cooking any of the ingredients.  Except for salting the eggplant and allowing time for them to ‘sweat’ the excess water out, this is an easy to assemble meal.  Just toss the diced veggies, herbs and cheeses together, stuff the mushrooms and bake. Easy!  If you can’t find good ripe tomatoes, which can be hard to get this time of year, just substitute a can of diced tomatoes.  Drain them and reserve the juice for another meal (or add to cooking water if you are making rice for extra flavor).

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I only had three portobello mushrooms and the stuffing easily made enough to fill six, so I cut the tops off of three bell peppers and stuffed those too.  My husband had one of each and loved them both, although I think he liked the mushrooms a bit better.  However, if you have a mushroom detractor, this is a good option, just FYI. Most people will eat only one mushroom but some will eat two, so this recipe should serve four, especially if you are serving them with a sald or other side dish.

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The mushrooms are stuffed with fresh healthy veggies but the mushroom ‘bowls’ themselves are loaded with nutriion.  Just look at this handy list of their health benefits from Mushroom-Appreciation.com.  You might be surprised at what the lowly mushroom has to offer.

  • Protein – Most mushrooms have a high protein content, usually around 20-30% by dry weight. This can be useful for vegetarians or anyone looking to increase the protein content in their diet.
  • Fiber – Helps lower cholesterol and is important for the digestive system.
  • Niacin and other important B vitamins – As certain B vitamins are found in animal tissue but not plants, this can be another good supplement for vegetarians.
  • Vitamin D – Essential for the absorption of calcium.
  • Copper – Aids in helping the body absorb oxygen and create red blood cells.
  • Selenium – An antioxidant that helps neutralize free radicals, thus preventing cell damage and reducing the risk of cancer and other diseases. Mushrooms contain more selenium than any other form of produce.
  • Potassium – An extremely important mineral that regulates blood pressure and keeps cells functioning properly. A large portobello mushroom is said to have more potassium than a banana.
  • Other important minerals – Such as phosphorous, zinc, and magnesium.
  • Low levels of fat, calories, and sodium
  • No cholesterol

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TIPS:  The mushrooms can be stuffed ahead of time and cooked when you are ready.  They can be wrapped and stored in the refrigerator over night or they are fine resting on the kitchen counter for an hour or so.  If you refrigerate them, allow them to come to room temperature before baking.

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PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS STUFFED WITH EGGPLANT, TOMATOES AND MOZZARELLA

6 large portobello mushrooms
1 small globe eggplant (or 2 japanese)
2 Tbsn Olive Oil (or olive oil spray)
1 medium zucchini
1 large ripe tomato (or 1 can diced tomatoes, drained)
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz fresh or 1 cup grated Mozzarella Cheese
½ Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
1 Tbsn fresh herbs or 1 tsp dried (any combination of basil, oregano or thyme)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (or more to taste)

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  • Dice eggplant and place on a layer of paper towels.  Sprinkle liberally with salt and let sit for at least 15 minutes until they ‘sweat’ the water out.

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  • Dice zucchini, tomato and fresh mozzarell, if using, and mince herbs.

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  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large mixing bowl combine zucchini, tomato, mozzarella, garlic, fresh herbs, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and a drizzle of olive oil. Mix to combie and set aside.

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  • Clean the Portobello caps with a damp paper towel, remove the stems then set them aside.

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  • Brush mushroom caps and insides with olive oil (or olive oil spray) and place them cap side down in a baking dish. If you are using bell peppers instead of mushrooms, par-boil them or microwave them one at a time on high for 30 seconds.

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  • Add eggplant and parmesan to the bowl and mix to combine

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  • Spoon about 1/2 cup filling into each cap, pressing into place.

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  • Bake for 30 minutes. Check at the halfway point and readjust toppigs if they have come loose.  If it looks dry on top, spray or brush with olive oil. Broil for an additional 10 minutes if you prefer a golden brown crust.

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  • Serve hot or warm over warm rice or farro or with a colorful green salad.

Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed with Eggplant, Tomatoes and Mozzarella

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

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6 large portobello mushrooms
1 small globe eggplant (or 2 japanese)
2 Tbsn Olive Oil (or olive oil spray)
1 medium zucchini
1 large ripe tomato
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz fresh or 1 cup grated Mozzarella Cheese
½ Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
1 Tbsn fresh herbs (any combination of basil, oregano or thyme)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (or more to taste

  • Dice eggplant and place on a layer of paper towels.  Sprinkle liberally with salt and let sit for at least 15 minutes until they ‘sweat’ the water out.
  • Dice zucchini and tomato and mince herbs.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large mixing bowl combine zucchini, tomato, garlic, fresh herbs, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and a drizzle of olive oil. Mix to combie and set aside.
  • Dice fresh mozzarella, if using
  • Clean the Portobello caps with a damp paper towel, remove the stems then set them aside.
  • Brush mushroom caps and insides with olive oil (or olive oil spray) and place them cap side down in a baking dish. If you are using bell peppers instead of mushrooms, par-boil them or microwave them one at a time on high for 30 seconds.
  • Add eggplant, mozzarella and parmesan to the bowl and mix to combine
  • Spoon about 1/2 cup filling into each cap, pressing into place.
  • Bake for 30 minutes. Check at the halfway point and readjust toppigs if they have come loose.  If it looks dry on top, spray or brush with olive oil. Broil for an additional 5-10 minutes if you prefer a golden brown crust.
  • Serve hot or warm.

Wild Rice, Mushroom and ‘Sausage’ Stuffed Pumpkin (Vegan)

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JUST IN TIME FOR THANKSGIVING! If you are looking for a glorious edible centerpiece for your table or you just want to stuff something that isn’t a turkey, how about roasting your favorite stuffing (or mine) in a pumpkin?  Pumpkins make a lovely serving dish and the rich and creamy pumpkin flesh gets scooped up along with the flavorful wild rice, mushrooms, pecans and vegan sausage stuffing.  It’s a wonderful and savory dish, sure to satisfy both vegan and meat loving friends.   This recipe makes a perfect Vegan main course or a hearty side dish for about ten people and is naturally gluten free.

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I have always loved the colors of Fall and the view from my window shows why. (Notice that roses in the lower left corner are still blooming too.) The gorgeous orange of pumpkins is the essence of the season. As the pumpkin bakes it gains a gorgeous dark amber color. I bought a Tutti Frutti Sugar Pie Pumpkin just shy of 6 lbs. Who can resist a name like that?  This is a dense, sweet smaller pumpkin that is great for cooking and less so for making jack ‘o lanterns.  ‘The bright orange color of pumpkin is a dead giveaway that pumpkin is loaded with an important antioxidant, beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is one of the plant carotenoids converted to vitamin A in the body. In the conversion to vitamin A, beta carotene performs many important functions in overall health.'(University of Illinois Extension)

Have you heard about the Great Pumpkin Shortage of 2015?  Apparently, it’s true.  If you see pumpkins in your market, don’t wait until the last minute.  Scoop them up or maybe try Farmer’s Markets.  Pumpkins (and all winter squash) can stay quite happily on your counter for  a week or two until you are ready to use them.  ‘The sugar pumpkins are grown primarily in Illinois, which produces about 90% of the supply each year.  But this year heavy rains hit Illinois and cut deeply into the sugar pumpkin crop.’ (CNN)

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Historically, I have stayed away from Vegan ‘meats’ and ‘cheeses’ because I usually don’t like either the taste or the texture but I keep on trying. I am not Vegan but I do believe in using non-dairy products as often as possible, both to promote all the new products (and encourage more) and to boycott the dairy industry, in particular, the factory farming/ Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO’s) which are crueltry beyond belief. Click on How Our Food Animals Are Raised it if you don’t already know.  The Vegan world is rapidly changing and there are some really good options out there now that are pretty good.  There are several really good vegan sausages, Beyond Meat Italian Sausages are a favorite.  I first made this using Field Roast Italian Sausages (made with eggplant, fennel garlic and red pepper) They also make some good vegan cheeses under the name of Chao. If you are gluten free, check the labels.  Some are made with vital wheat gluten. I threw these same sausages on the grill a few weeks ago during a family barbecue and we were all pleasantly surprised.  I thought that grilled they were a bit dry but with a great flavor and consistency.  I decided that next time I would brush them in olive oil before grilling or saute them in a pan with oil.  In this recipe I removed the casings and crumbled the ‘meat’ and sauteed it along with the onions and celery.  Of course this step is optional as there are enough other good flavors and textures in this dish without it.  See TIPS for some suggested substitutions.  NOTE: This is not a paid endorsement, just my personal opinion.

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The inspiration for this dish came from Vegetarian Times and I used their directions as a guide but created my own ingredients.  If you are interested in the original recipe which is also Vegan and includes wild rice, beans, corn and spinach, click HERE.

TIPS:  The stuffing can be made two days ahead of time and refrigerated unstuffed.  Substitute any ingredients that you and your family really like.  Some suggestions would be substituting chopped chestnuts instead of pecans, 1 1/2 cups of cooked cannelini, black or kidney beans instead of vegan sausage;  2 cups of fresh spinach instead of mushrooms.  For a bit of sweetness add 1/4 – 1/2 cup dried cranberries, yellow raisins or black currants.

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WILD RICE, MUSHROOM, PECAN & ‘SAUSAGE’ STUFFED PUMPKIN

Note:  Amounts are listed fill a 6 lb pumpkin. An 8lb pumpkin will call for 2 cups wild rice blend. Adjust accordingly.

1 1/2 cup wild rice blend (or 1/2 cup wild rice and 1 cup long grain brown rice)
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 large onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced (divided)
2 links vegan sausage (optional)
1 cup criminy mushrooms
2 Tbsn fresh sage, chopped (divided)
2 Tbsn fresh thyme, chopped (divided)
1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1 6-8 lb pumpkin*See note.
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  • Prepare wild rice blend according to package directions. Transfer to bowl and allow to cool.

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  • Heat 2 Tbs. oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion, celery,; sauté 5 minutes.

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  • Remove sausage from casings and crumble.

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  • Wipe mushrooms clean with a damp papertowel and chop. Add sausage and mushrooms, 4 cloves garlic, 1/2 of. sage and thyme to pan with onions and saute another 5 minutes or so until all liquid has evaporated.

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  • Toast pecans in a dry pan for several minutes until aromatic.

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  • Stir mushroom mixture into rice mixture. Fold in pecans. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if desired.

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  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil. Cut top from pumpkin, and scoop out seeds and pulp. Reserve seeds for roasting if desired.  See below for directions.

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  •  Combine remaining oil, garlic, sage, and thyme in bowl. Brush oil mixture over inside of pumpkin.

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  • Fill pumpkin with rice mixture, cover with top, and bake 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until pumpkin is tender when side is pierced with knife tip.

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  • Uncover, and bake 10 to 20 minutes more.

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BONUS:

ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS

  • Remove the large pieces of pulp from the seeds. Don’t worry, the smaller shreds will disappear in the second step.
  • Boil the seeds in really salty water for about 5 minutes. Drain and let dry.
  • Spread seeds on a baking sheet. Spray or coat with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, cayenne or any other spices you like.
  • Bake for 30 – 45 minutes at 300 degrees or until golden.  Remove from heat and let cool. Store at room temperature for up to a week.
  • Use as toppings for salads or soups if you have any left after you’ve been snacking on them.

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Wild Rice Mushroom Sausage Stuffed Pumpkin

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print
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Note:  Amounts are listed fill a 6 lb pumpkin. An 8 lb pumpkin needs 2 cups uncooked rice. Adjust recipe accordingly.

1 1/2 cup wild rice blend (or 1/2 cup wild rice and 1 cup long grain brown rice)
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 large onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced (divided)
2 links vegan sausage (optional)
1 cup criminy mushrooms
2 Tbsn fresh sage, chopped (divided)
2 Tbsn fresh thyme, chopped (divided)
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 6-8 lb pumpkin*See note.
  • Prepare wild rice blend according to package directions. Transfer to bowl and allow to cool.
  • Heat 2 Tbs. oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion, celery, 4 cloves garlic, 1/2 of. sage and thyme; sauté 5 minutes.
  • Remove sausage from casings and crumble.
  • Wipe mushrooms clean with a damp papertowel and chop.
  • Add sausage and mushrooms to pan with onions and saute another 5 minutes or so until all liquid has evaporated.
  • Stir mushroom mixture into rice mixture.
  • Toast pecans in a dry pan for several minutes until aromatic.
  • Fold in pecans. Taste aand season with salt and pepper, if desired.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil. Cut top from pumpkin, and scoop out seeds and pulp. Reserve seeds for roasting if desired.  See below.
  •  Combine remaining oil, garlic, sage, and thyme in bowl. Brush oil mixture over inside of pumpkin.
  • Fill pumpkin with rice mixture, cover with top, and bake 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until pumpkin is tender when side is pierced with knife tip.
  • Uncover, and bake 10 to 20 minutes more.

ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS

  • Remove the large pieces of pulp from the seeds. Don’t worry, the smaller shreds will disappear in the second step.
  • Boil the seeds in really salty water for about 5 minutes. Drain and let dry.
  • Spread seeds on a baking sheet. Spray or coat with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, cayenne or any other spices you like.
  • Bake for 30 – 45 minutes at 300 degrees or until golden.  Remove from heat and let cool. Store at room temperature for up to a week.
  • Use as toppings for salads or soups if you have any left after you’ve been snacking on them.

Wheatless Wednesday – Curried Carrot, Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup

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Happiness is…hot soup on a cold day.

On Monday I shared 25 things to make with sweet potatoes since I had just been gifted a big back of them…So which of the recipes did I decide to make?  Soup!   Curried Carrot, Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup to be specific.  It finally rained more than a few drops here in Northern California and when its cold and wet outside, soup is the ultimate comfort food since it warms you up from the inside out. I love this flavorful gingery soup, made creamy from the sweet potatoes and not from adding cream or butter.  At only 144 calories per serving (1 1/4 cups), this is a low calorie, zero cholesterol meal with a high nutrient payoff; 4.1 grams protein, 3.9 grams fiber, with loads of vitamins, including Vitamin C to help fight winter colds, plus iron and calcium.

This week we are eating orange on the rainbow.  So what does orange do for us?

“Most yellow and orange food is packed with carotenoids, which give them their vibrant colour. Three of the most common carotenoids – alpha-carotene, beta carotene and beta cryptoxanthin – can be converted from foods into vitamin A in the body. This nutrient is needed for good vision in dim light, normal growth and development, a strong immune system and to keep the skin and cells that line the airways, digestive tract and urinary tract healthy. But thanks to their antioxidant activity, there’s also evidence to suggest that carotenoids – and especially beta carotene, found in orange and yellow food – might help to reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers.

However, these findings haven’t always been shown with supplements of beta-carotene, so it’s much better to boost intakes through eating foods which are naturally rich in beta-carotene such as carrots and sweet potatoes.” (Weightloss Resources)

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TIPS:  If I have really fresh, youngish carrots, I like to keep their peels on since so many of the nutrients are in or just under the peel and it’s a shame to cut them off.  Just scrub them with a vegetable brush or sponge and rinse.  They should be smooth and shiny.  If you have older carrots, you may have to peel them because the skins can have a bitter flavor that is best removed.

CURRIED CARROT, SWEET POTATO AND GINGER SOUP

1 Tbsn olive oil
1/2 cup chopped shallots (2-3 large)
3 cups peeled sweet potato
1 1/2 cups carrots (2-3 large)
1 tablespoon grated ginger (or ginger paste)
2 tsp curry powder
1 quart vegetable broth
1/2 tsp salt

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  • Peel and cube sweet potato into about 1/2 inch pieces.

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  • Scrub carrots and slice or chop them into 1/2 inch pieces.

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  • Peel  ginger and grate about a tablespoon.

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  • Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots; saute 3 minutes or until tender.

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  • Add potato, carrots, ginger, and curry; cook 2 minutes.

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  • Add broth; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 25 minutes or until vegetables are tender; taste and add salt if necessary.

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  • Pour half of soup in a food processor; pulse until smooth. Repeat procedure with remaining soup.

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  • Clean saucepan and pour soup back in and reheat.

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  • Serve with a swirl of plain yogurt and cilantro with a pinch of paprika (optional).

Curried Carrot, Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
20151111_083542

1 Tbsn olive oil
1/2 cup chopped shallots (2-3 large)
3 cups peeled sweet potato
1 1/2 cups carrots (2-3 large)
1 tablespoon grated ginger (or ginger paste)
2 tsp curry powder
1 quart vegetable broth
1/2 tsp salt

  • Peel and cube sweet potato into about 1/2 inch pieces.
  • Scrub carrots and slice or chop them into a/2 inch pieces.
  • Peel  ginger and grate about a tablespoon.
  • Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots; saute 3 minutes or until tender.
  • Add potato, carrots, ginger, and curry; cook 2 minutes.
  • Add broth; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 25 minutes or until vegetables are tender; taste and add salt if necessary.
  • Pour half of soup in a food processor; pulse until smooth. Repeat procedure with remaining soup.
  • Clean saucepan and pour soup back in and reheat.
  • Serve with a swirl of plain yogurt and cilantro with a pinch of paprika (optional).

Wheatless Wednesday – Baked Eggs in Kale Cups

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Move over eggs and toast, Baked Eggs in Kale Cups is more delicious, nutritious and way cuter!  With easy preparation and few ingredients, breakfast is on the table in 30 minutes or less. This is the perfect weekend treat! The kale is crispy on the sides but creamy and garlicky on the bottom, while the egg is perfectly set with hints of parmesan, red pepper flakes and fresh basil. Delish and easy!  Just pop them in the oven and enjoy a cup of coffee and the newspaper while they bake.  (It will only look like you worked so hard…)  These pretty baked eggs are a good source of protein to start your day and the KALE  adds vitamin B6, dietary fiber, calcium, potassium, vitamin E, vitamin B2, iron, magnesium, vitamin B1, omega-3 fatty acids phosphorus, more protein, folate, and niacin. Whew!  That is why kale is king…. These little beauties are also elegant enough to serve at a brunch or even as a quick and easy dinner. Serve with fresh fruit or a tossed green salad. For a hearty appetite, add roasted or baked potatoes or sweet potatoes.

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I spotted this recipe in the November, 2015 edition of Vegetarian Times and decided to make it for Sunday brunch using  eggs from the backyard chickens next door and fresh kale from my garden.  I have a great arrangement with my neighbor, Sandy.  I give her all of my cooking and vegetable garden scraps and she gives me beautiful organic eggs from happy chickens.  Look at the gorgeous orange of the yolks.  Darker yellow/orange yolks usually means the hen had a varied diet and the resulting egg is richer in Vitamins and micronutrients like vitamins A and E plus omega-3. as compared to the anemic pale yellow, less nutritious standard supermarket egg.  Did you know that egg yolks are one of the foods that naturally contain Vitamin D?  Another egg fact you may not know is that the color of the shell doesn’t indicate how nutritious it is, just the kind of chicken that the egg came from. My Mom raised a variety of chickens who laid eggs that ranged in color from off white to green, blue and brown – all equally nutritious because they were raised the same, happy and on the earth.

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However, if you aren’t lucky enough to have chickens like my brother, Tom, and his wife, Kelle, or have  a neighbor with chickens, try to buy eggs that are labelled “Pasture Raised”.  Other egg labels are often meaningless and lies misleading as producers try to capitalize on people’s desire to make more humane and nutritious choices.  Just because something is labelled ‘Organic’ or ‘Free Range’ doesn’t mean the chickens were given nutritious food or had a chance to go outside and peck at the ground.  There is little to no oversight so producers just decide for themselves what those terms mean. Outside might mean a tiny concrete enclosure that the chickens may not even know is there or have real access. For a breakdown on what egg labels are supposed to mean and what they really mean, click HERE to read an article by NPR.  And, FYI, chickens are NOT vegetarians…

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TIPS:  I used lacinato kale because that is what I had ready in my garden, but you can use any kind of kale you like.  Curly kale would make extra pretty ‘cups’ in this dish.  When forming the nests/cups, use more kale than you think and make sure the muffin tin is completely covered to prevent leakage and that the fronds stick up out of the muffin tin, as the kale shrinks quite a bit during baking.

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BAKED EGGS IN KALE CUPS

      2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
      1 12-oz. bunch kale, stems removed
      2 Tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
      1-2 cloves garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
      6 large eggs
      1 Tbsn fresh basil, chopped (optional)
  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat extra-large six-cup muffin pan with 1 Tbs. oil or cooking spray.

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  • Place kale leaves in large bowl, add remaining 1 Tbs. oil, cheese, and garlic. Massage kale until tender and glistening.

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  • Line prepared muffin cups with large kale leaves, covering whole muffin cup, and leaving some of leaf edges sticking up (smaller leaves can be layered in cup).

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  • Crack 1 egg into each kale nest, and season with salt and pepper, more red pepper flakes and a sprinkle of parmesan, if desired.

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  • Bake 17 to 25 minutes, or until egg yolk is set.

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  • Cool 5 minutes before removing kale nests from muffin cups.

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  • Using a large spoon or a knife edge, carefully release the sides from the cupcake tin and place on a platter to serve. Sprinkle with fresh basil, if desired.

Baked EggS in Kale Cups

  • Servings: 3-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
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        2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
        1 12-oz. bunch curly kale, stems removed
        2 Tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
        1-2 cloves garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
        6 large eggs
        1 Tbsn fresh basil, chopped (optional)
  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat extra-large six-cup muffin pan with 1 Tbs. oil or cooking spray.
  • Place kale leaves in large bowl, add remaining 1 Tbs. oil, cheese, and garlic. Massage kale until tender and glistening.
  • Line prepared muffin cups with large kale leaves, covering whole muffin cup, and leaving some of leaf edges sticking up (smaller leaves can be layered in cup).
  • Crack 1 egg into each kale nest, and season with salt and pepper, more red pepper flakes and a sprinkle of parmesan, if desired.
  • Bake 17 to 25 minutes, or until egg yolk is set.
  • Cool 5 minutes before removing kale nests from muffin cups.
  • Using a large spoon or a knife edge, carefully release the sides from the cupcake tin and place on a platter to serve. Sprinkle with fresh basil, if desired

Wheatless Wednesday – Warm Scallop Salad with Lentils and Frisee

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I love Autumn salads which are a bit heartier than those we enjoy in summer.  With the advent of chilly evenings, we need more tummy-filling ingredients to keep us warm and satisfied.  It also helps that bikinis are soon to become a distant memory (unless you’re going on a tropical vacation).  I really like adding either grains or legumes to salads, especially if they are the main course and French green lentils are a favorite.  In creating this salad, I started with a bed of frisee which adds texture and interest, then a layer of French green lentils, tomatoes and oranges topped with warm seared scallops.  A final drizzle of mustard vinaigrette completes the dish. To make this dish vegan, substitute sliced hearts of palm instead of scallops. I don’t know how hearts of palm are when seared, so would recommend using them raw unless you are up for a challenge. It could be worth a try, though.  They sure worked well as a meat alternative in my Pulled ‘Pork’ Sliders. I may have to try…

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Frisee is an under-appreciated green, at least in the Univted States.  Frisee, also called curly endive, is part of the chicory family, along with Belgian endive, radicchio, and escarole.  Frisee is packed with nutrients, and very low in calories like most greens. It is an excellent source of folic acid, vitamin A and vitamin C, with approximately one third the daily recommended amount of each, in a single serving. It is also a good source of vitamin K, and manganese. It’s slightly bitter and nutty flavor makes it a nice addition to salads but it works best mixed with milder greens or with complementary flavors like sweet citrus, earthy lentils and a tangy vinaigrette.

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I often use French green lentils (De Puy) which I think are the most flavorful and they keep their shape when cooked, unlike red lentils which are soft and split open, making them perfect for soups and stews.  Brown lentils, which are the most commonly available, can be substituted.  Just be careful not to overcook as they also can become too soft.  Lentils not only delicious, they are high in protein, low in fat and are a good source of fiber and vitamins and minerals, including iron.

TIPS: When purchasing scallops, try to buy dry sea scallops.  Scallops are often labelled ‘dry’ or ‘wet’.  If they aren’t labelled, ask. ‘Wet’ scallops are treated with a solution called STP (sodium tripolyphosphate), which helps the scallops maintain their moisture. The STP solution gives scallops a longer shelf life and keeps them plump and fresh looking. As a result, you’ll not only pay for the added water weight (meaning you get fewer scallops per pound and possibly scallops that are less than fresh)  In addition, you’ll also have trouble browning these scallops—no matter how hot your pan—because of all that excess moisture. If you have had trouble browning scallops in the past, this could be the reason. You will still rinse and dry your scallops which shouldn’t effect the browning as long you dry them well with paper towels.

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WARM SCALLOP SALAD WITH LENTILS AND FRISEE

1 lb large sea scallops
1/2 cup French green lentils
2 ripe tomatoes
1 orange
3-4 scallions, sliced
1 head frisee
2 Tbsn olive oil
salt

VINAIGRETTE
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/8 tsp pepper

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  • Cook lentils as directed but don’t over cook.  They should be al dente.  Pour off any excess water, remove from heat and set aside to cool with lid off.

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  • Slice tomatoes into wedges.  Peel oranges and slice into rounds and then halves.

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  • Pull frisee apart and place in one a large platter or bowl.

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  • Spread cooled lentils over frisee.

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  • Top with tomatoes, orange slices and scallions.

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  • Whisk all vinaigrette ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

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  • Rinse and dry scallops. Heat olive oil over medium high heat until the pan is very hot. Arrange scallops in a single layer, uncrowded.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes and flip to cook the other side for another 1 1/2 minutes.

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  • Remove from heat and place on top of salad. Sprinkle with vinaigrette and serve immediately.

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Warm Scallop Salad with Lentils and Frisee

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
20150915_203424

 1 lb large sea scallops
1/2 cup French green lentils
2 ripe tomatoes
1 orange
3-4 scallions, sliced
1 head frisee
2 Tbsn olive oil
salt

VINAIGRETTE
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/8 tsp pepper

  • Cook lentils as directed but don’t over cook.  They should be al dente.  Pour off any excess water, remove from heat and set aside to cool with lid off.
  • Slice tomatoes into wedges.  Peel oranges and slice into rounds and then halves.
  • Pull frisee apart and place in one a large platter or bowl.
  • Spread cooled lentils over frisee.
  • Top with tomatoes, orange slices and scallions.
  • Whisk all vinaigrette ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Rinse and dry scallops. Heat olive oil over medium high heat until the pan is very hot. Arrange scallops in a single layer, uncrowded.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes and flip to cook the other side for another 1 1/2 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and place on top of salad.
  • Sprinkle with vinaigrette and serve immediately.

 

Wheatless Wednesday – Cauliflower Quinoa Chowder Topped with Caramelized Shallots

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It’s starting to look like Soup Season – and this one is magic!  I just arrived at my house in Maine, where summer and fall are definitely having a collision. Summer is not over yet; the days are still sunny and beautiful, but once the sun goes down the temperature drops and sweaters come out. School is back in session, so that means that grownups have to actually go back to work too.  It is this time of year when I still eat salads for lunch but start to crave warm homey food for dinner.  Last night I made this savory vegan Cauliflower Quinoa Chowder topped with caramelized shallots (not bacon), parsley and sliced green onion.  Mmmm… a definite Winner!  This is an easy One Pot Meal that serves about 6 adults with generous portions. This will be one I make again and again.

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This soup has two magic ingredients:  cauliflower and quinoa.  Cauliflower is the chameleon of vegetables.  It can take the place of flour (Pizza Crust), pasta (Mac and Cheese), grain (Tabouleh) or potatoes (Cauliflower Puree).  Adding Cauliflower to foods is a sneaky smart way to get some nutrients in your diet.  Cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B6. It is a good source of dietary fiber, protein, omega-3 fatty acids and a whole host of vitamins and minerals.  I only used one potato in this dish and the cauliflower stepped in for the rest.  If you are trying to avoid carbs (even though potatoes are good ones), you can elinimate the potato altogether and add a bit more cauliflower.

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Quinoa is another master of illusion and can be the star of a main course casserole or added to veggies in a salad.  In this dish it is mixed in towards the end as a thickener and, as one of the Worlds ‘nearly perfect foods’ (as described on the package) it also provides a huge protein boost.  I used Pearl Quinoa which I have never used before, partially because I thought it would add good texture to soup (it did) but also to support the company, Alter Eco, a Fair Trade company who gets its organic quinoa from Quechua and Aymara farmers in who grow the grain 13,000 feet up on the arid and desolate Soar De Uyuni salt flat of Bolivia.  I want to support that kind of effort!  That said, any kind of quinoa will work, so use what you have.

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I adapted this recipe from  Foodie Crush but made a few changes to make it vegan (trying to use less milk and dairy) and based on what vegetables I had on hand.  She has a great recipe though, so you can click on the link to see the original.  I love the color and sweetness that the carrots added.  The original recipe called for red bell pepper which I didn’t have, so I added more carrots and a stalk of celery.  Follow your own tastes (or pantry).  I also used Original flavor coconut millk instead of regular milk and LOVED the added flavor.  This chowder gets it’s thick and creamy texture from the quinoa but also from pureeing one third to a half of the vegetable mixture before adding the quinoa.  If you like it chunky, puree less, if you like a smoother soup, puree more.  Its that easy!

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I love toppings and these really turn chowder into something special.  The caramelized shallots are worth the 15 minutes it takes, trust me.  I recommend making the shallots ahead or while the cauliflower and potatoes are cooking.  This is my Go To substitute for bacon and it works!  Be creative – or be a purist and go bare!

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I eased myself into Maine yesterday with a windy and challenging kayak across the lake where the headwinds tossed water into out kayaks at each wave.  Luckily we had the wind at our backs on the way back and breezed home but I definitely earned my dinner.  I was not disappointed.  I hiked Pleasant Mountain this morning instead of writing this blog (Sorry not sorry).  In the photo above you can see the White Mountains in the distance.  Now I’m looking for leftovers…

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CAULIFLOWER AND QUINOA CHOWDER

1/4 cup olive or coconut oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 russet potato, peeled and diced
1 small head cauliflower, roughly chopped (about 3 cups)
1 quart vegetable broth
2 cups coconut milk (or any other kind of milk)
2 bay leaves
2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 cup pearled quinoa (or regular quinoa)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

TOPPINGS: (optional)

Carmelized shallots*Recipe below
Chopped parsley
Sliced scallions

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  • In large stock pot, garlic and onions in oil over medium high heat for about 5 minutes, or until onions are opaque. Add celery and carrots and cook for about 10 minutes.

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  • Add potato, cauliflower, vegetable broth, coconut milk, bay leaf and thyme. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 10-12 minutes or until cauliflower and potato are softened.

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  • Remove bay leaf. Ladle about 1/3 to 1/2 of the soup into a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Add back to pot. Add salt and pepper.  Taste and add seasoning if desired.

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  • Rinse 1/2 cup quinoa in cold water and add to cauliflower mixture. Reduce to simmer and cook until quinoa is softened, about 15 minutes. If soup gets too thick add water and lower temperature.

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  • Add more liquid if needed.  Serve with desired toppings.  I highly recommend carmelized shallots, parsley and sliced scallions.

CARMELIZED SHALLOTS (makes about 1/4 cup)

6-8 shallots
1 Tbsn olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

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  • Peel and thinly slice shallots into rounds.

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  • Saute in oil for 15  minutes or so until golden brown.

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  • Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.

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  • Place in a small serving dish along with other toppings.

Cauliflower Quinoa Chowder

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
20150915_204149

1/4 cup olive or coconut oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large onion, diced1 teaspoon salt
1 stalk celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 russet potato, peeled and diced
1 small head cauliflower, roughly chopped (about 3 cup)
1 quart vegetable broth
2 cups coconut milk (or any other kind of milk)
2 bay leaves
2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 cup pearled quinoa (or regular quinoa)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

  • In large stock pot, garlic and onions in oil over medium high heat for about 5 minutes, or until onions are opaque.
  • Add celery and carrots and cook for about 10 minutes.
  • Add potato, cauliflower, vegetable broth, coconut milk, bay leaf and thyme. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 10-12 minutes or until cauliflower and potato are softened.
  • Remove bay leaf. Ladle about 1/3 to 1/2 of the soup into a food processor or blender and process until smooth.
  • Add back to pot. Add salt and pepper.  Taste and add seasoning if desired.
  • Rinse 1/2 cup quinoa in cold water and add to cauliflower mixture. Reduce to simmer and cook until quinoa is softened, about 15 minutes.
  • Add more liquid if needed.  Serve with desired toppings.  I highly recommend carmelized shallots, parsley and sliced scallions.

CARMELIZED SHALLOTS (makes about 1/4 cup)

6-8 shallots
1 Tbsn olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

  • Peel and thinly slice shallots into rounds.
  • Saute in oil for 15  minutes or so until golden brown.
  • Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
  • Place in a small serving dish.

Wheatless Wednesday – Mexican Street Corn Salad

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You’ve heard of Mexican Street Corn, fresh corn on the cob slathered in spices, herbs and savory cheese – delicious but messy.  Here it is ‘off the cob’ and ready to feed a big crowd – the same yummy ingredients but easy to serve. Served off the cob, the dish is called Esquites while the traditional street food grilled or steamed right on the cob is known as Elote. Traditional ingredients include mayonnaise, cotija cheese, lime juice, and chili powder but other herbs and spices are often included.

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I have been visiting family in Seattle for the last week, living like a hobo out of my suitcase and bouncing around the Seattle area from Tacoma to Seattle to Whidbey Island to Bothell.  I was lucky enough to see five of my sisters, two of my brothers and both of my parents.  Yes, I know. This is starting to require higher math, and three sibs were even missing!  As one of eleven children, I am used to large family celebrations where everyone brings something to share.  We are the masters of potluck.  Needless to say I was not in my kitchen, so obviously did no cooking myself, but I did watch my sister, Margaret, prepare this tasty dish for one of our family potlucks over the weekend.  With fresh corn, chili peppers, spicy seasonings and crumbly Mexican cheese, this is a definite crowd-pleaser, great for a family dinner or a potluck party.  For our large crowd, Margaret doubled the recipe.

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Guest Chef, Margaret Vandenberg, has made this recipe from The Kitchn before and admitted that she and her husband, Scott, have polished off leftovers with grilled salmon and tortillas as a great late night snack.  Sounds yummy to me!  This is the lovely view of Lake Washington from Margaret’s living room.  I can sit there for hours watching boats and birds and clouds….and then she serves wonderful food too.  No wonder I keep going back….

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TIPS:  I have not made this salad yet, but witnessed my sister in action.  This salad is delicious as is but if you want to make it even more ‘street’ you could try grilling or roasting the corn on the cob, before cutting off the kernels, for additional color and flavor.  Spicy food lovers could also add a dash or two of cayenne pepper to add more zest.  You could also serve with additional cotija sprinkled on top.

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Recipe Adapted From The Kitchn

MEXICAN STREET CORN SALAD

6 ears fresh corn kernels from the cob (or 4 cups frozen yellow corn)
2 Tbsn olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 hot pepper (jalapeno, red chili, etc)
3 Tbsn cotija cheese (goat or feta), crumbled
2 Tbsn mayonaise (vegan mayo or plain yogurt)
2 Tbsn cilanto, chopped
1 1/2 tsp Mexican style chili powder
2 limes, juiced
salt and pepper to taste

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  • In a large cast iron pan, saute the corn in the oil on medium-high heat until toasted, 15 to 20 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook another 30 seconds or so and remove from heat and let cool and place in a large mixing bowl.

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  • Cut the peppers into a fine dice and add to the corn mixture.

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  • Add all the other ingredients to the corn mixture and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings and add ingredients to suit your tastes.

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  • Serve room temperature.

Mexican Street Corn Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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6 ears fresh corn kernels from the cob (or 4 cups frozen yellow corn)
2 Tbsn olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 hot pepper (jalapeno, red chili, etc)
3 Tbsn cotija cheese (goat or feta), crumbled
2 Tbsn mayonaise (vegan mayo or plain yogurt)
2 Tbsn cilanto, chopped
1 1/2 tsp Mexican style chili powder
2 limes, juiced
salt and pepper to taste

  • In a large cast iron pan, saute the corn in the oil on medium-high heat until toasted, 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and cook another 30 seconds or so and remove from heat and let cool and place in a large mixing bowl.
  • Cut the peppers into a fine dice and add to the corn mixture.
  • Add all the other ingredients to the corn mixture and toss to combine.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings and add ingredients to suit your tastes.
  • Serve room temperature.

Wheatless Wednesday – Black Bean, Corn & Butternut Squash Tacos with Chile Lime Sauce

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Now we’re talking!  I’m loving my yummy Mexican food without the extra calories.  I guess you could call these ‘Skinny Tacos’. Black beans and butternut squash are two of my favorite ingredients, especially when the squash is roasted into a rich and tender little bites.  Throw in sweet summer corn, cumin and jalapenos and you’ve got the start of some delicious tacos (or quesadillas-scroll down for more on that).  So what is the skinny part besides the fact that these are vegetarian?  I have a long standing love affair with cheese but for a multitude of reasons (one of them being the calories), I’m trying to cut down.  The nice thing about this flavor combination is that it doesn’t need piles of cheese to make it yummy. Instead of cheese,  I opted to make a creamy yogurt dressing made with green chilis, herbs and jalapenos, which makes it cool but spicy.  Yes, I know, those are contradictory terms but that is what makes the sauce so much fun and the perfect complement for the earthy squash, corn and bean combination.

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Want to make them even skinnier?  Ditch the tortillas and use romaine lettuce leaves and you’ve got “Mexican Lettuce Boats” for a lighter, low-carb option.

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I also happened to have some sweet mini peppers which are delightful when roasted.  They get even sweeter and can be eaten whole, seeds and all, except for maybe the stem (actually, you can probably eat that too if you really want to).  They take virtually no preparation.  Just place them whole on an oiled baking sheet and roast in a hot oven for about 20 minutes, turning once, until charred and blistered on both sides.  Let cool and chop and use in salads or other dishes. You could even add them to this taco filling if you like.  They are great on an antipasti platter and their bright colors also make them a cheerful garnish.

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The black bean, corn and butternut squash filling is fairly loose and well suited for tacos but it also makes for tasty quesadillas if you add some gooey cheese to keep it together.  An alternative would be to mash up some of the beans and squash to give it a stickier consistency.  Regardless of how you serve them, these veggies taste great together and add oodles of fiber, vitamins and minerals to your diet!  Just make sure you buy organic, non GMO corn tortillas to keep your meal healthy.

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BLACK BEAN, CORN & BUTTERNUT SQUASH TACOS WITH CHILI LIME SAUCE

2 cups butternut squash (about one half squash)
1 can black beans
1-2 ears fresh corn kernels (or 1 cup frozen)
1/2 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, finely diced (optional)
4 cloves garlic
1 Tbsn cilantro, chopped
1 dozen corn tortillas

CHILI LIME SAUCE (Optional)

1/2 cup full fat plain yogurt (vegan or regular)
2 Tbsn canned fire roasted chopped green chilis
1 jalapeno
1/4 cup cilantro
1 Tbsn fresh lime juice
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt

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  • Process green chilis, jalapeno and cilantro in food processor or blender until finely minced.  Add yogurt, lime juice, cumin and salt.  Pulse until smooth.  Pour into a small serving bowl and let chill in the refrigerator. (It will thicken as it chills)

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  • Peel and dice butternut squash into a half inch dice.  Spread in a single layer in an oiled baking sheet. Slice garlic cloves in half and arrange around the squash. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Stir to coat with oil and roast at 450 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until soft and slightly browned on the edges.  Garlic may be brown.

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  • If you are roasting mini peppers, place them whole on an oiled baking dish and stir to coat both sides with oil.  Bake for about 20 minutes, turning once to blacken both sides. I used the same pan as the squash but kept them as separate as possible.

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  • Saute onion and jalapeno for several minutes until starting to soften, then add corn and cook several more minutes.

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  • Add black beans and cook another minute or two.

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  • Lower heat and add butternut squash and carefully stir to combine. Don’t overcook as squash will get too soft.

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  • To heat corn tortillas:
    • In the oven – Wrap stacks of five or so tortillas in aluminum foil and heat them for about 15 minutes in a 350° oven.
    • On the stovetop:  Cook them one at a time in a dry heavy pan and stack them as they are warmed.  For crispy shells, fry them in a good oil (like avocado oil) on one side for 1 or 2 minutes, turn using tongs and fold it in half to crisp then turn to the other side.  Drain on papertowels.
    • In the microwave: Wrap tortillas in barely damp papertowels and microwave in 30-second increments until they are warmed through.20150901_105412
  • Scoop filling into taco shells and top with chili lime sauce.  Serve with more sauce and fresh herbs on the side.

Black Bean, Corn and Butternut Squash Tacos with Chili Lime Sauce

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

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2 cups butternut squash (about one half squash)
1 can black beans
1-2 ears fresh corn kernels (or 1 cup frozen)
1/2 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, finely diced (optional)
4 cloves garlic
1 Tbsn cilantro, chopped
1 dozen corn tortillas

CHILI LIME SAUCE (Optional)

1/2 cup full fat plain yogurt (vegan or regular)
2 Tbsn canned fire roasted chopped green chilis
1 jalapeno
1/4 cup cilantro
1 Tbsn fresh lime juice
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt

    • Process green chilis, jalapeno and cilantro in food processor or blender until finely minced.  Add yogurt, lime juice, cumin and salt.  Pulse until smooth.  Pour into a small serving bowl and let chill in the refrigerator. (It will thicken as it chills)
    • Peel and dice butternut squash into a half inch dice.  Spread in a single layer in an oiled baking sheet. Slice garlic cloves in half and arrange around the squash. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Stir to coat with oil and roast at 450 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until soft and slightly browned on the edges.  Garlic may be brown.
    • If you are roasting mini peppers, place them whole on an oiled baking dish and stir to coat both sides with oil.  Bake for about 20 minutes, turning once to blacken both sides.
    • Saute onion and jalapeno for several minutes until starting to soften, then add corn and cook several more minutes.
    • Add black beans and cook another minute or two.
    • Lower heat and add butternut squash and carefully stir to combine. Don’t overcook as squash will get too soft.
    • To heat corn tortillas:
      • In the oven – Wrap stacks of five or so tortillas in aluminum foil and heat them for about 15 minutes in a 350° oven.
      • On the stovetop:  Cook them one at a time in a dry heavy pan and stack them as they are warmed.  For crispy shells, fry them in a good oil (like avocado oil) on one side for 1 or 2 minutes, turn using tongs and fold it in half to crisp then turn to the other side.  Drain on papertowels.
      • In the microwave: Wrap tortillas in barely damp papertowels and microwave in 30-second increments until they are warmed through.
    • Scoop filling into taco shells and top with chili lime sauce.  Serve with more sauce and fresh herbs on the side.