Roasted Beet Hummus

 

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Hummus….one of my favorite foods to eat and make but I love to experiment with new flavors and new, unexpected ingredients in my hummus.  This one is not only stunningly beautiful with it’s bright purplish red color but it is an excellent combination of earthy and sweet.

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Roasting the beets makes all the difference.  Cooking them with this method brings out their natural sweetness and gives a great depth of flavor to the hummus.

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Roasted Beet Hummus
 
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Try adding this earthy, sweet and visually stunning hummus to your repertoire.
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer, Dip, Spread, Vegetarian
Serves: 2½ cup
Ingredients
  • 1 heaping tablespoon tahini (roasted sesame seed paste)
  • Juice of ½ of a small lemon (1 Tablespoon)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 beets
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup or honey
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2-3 Tablespoons water - start with 2 and add another if it is too thick
Instructions
  1. For roasted beets:
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the stems off the beats and cut off the tip end so that you can lie the beet flat on the cutting board. Peel the beets with a veggie peeler. Dice the beet into medium chunks. I cut each beet into thirds, each third into a third again and then in half. Drizzle them with olive oil and blend them with your hands to distribute the oil evenly over the beets. Sprinkle with Kosher salt and black pepper. Roast for 35-45 minutes depending on your oven and the size of your dice. Check them and flip them around with a spatula after each 10 minute of cooking time. They’re done when a fork goes through them when pierced.
  3. Combine all ingredients except the water in the bowl of a food processor. Process until well blended. Add 2 tablespoons of the water and process again. If it is too thick, add another tablespoon of water.

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Try using it as a spread to make these delicious and healthy little appetizers.  Perfect for Spring ‘eh?

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Kale Tabouli

kaletabouli1 Did you know that kale is such a nutritional rockstar that it has its own day?  Yep, October 7th is National Kale Day! Ok, it’s a bit crazy but hey, everything else seems to have its own “National Day” so why not kale? Kale is really amazing in the nutrition department boasting so many vitamins and antioxidants for your body that it just boggles the mind. Here’s my top 5 good for you facts about kale….

  1. It is only a mere 33 calories per cup.  You can chop it up and add it to your dishes for an almost calorie-free nutritional boost.
  2. It is loaded with antioxidants.  It contains a lot of beta carotene (Vitamin C) which is known to reduce oxidative damage in the body.  Oxidative damage is believed to lead to aging and many diseases including Cancer.
  3. Kale contains substances that bind bile acids to lower cholesterol levels. Steamed kale is particularly effective for this.
  4. It contains Vitamin K which is crucial for blood clotting.  This is good if you’re an accident-prone gal like myself (hello tree-trimming incident this Fall).  So, your cuts heal faster without as much blood loss.
  5. Kale is high in lutein and zeaxanthin.  People who have diets rich in these two nutrients have a much lower risk of macular degeneration and cataracts, two of the most common eye disorders as we age.

Kale is quite easy to add to your diet.  Try chopping it up small and adding it to your salads like the tabouli salad I’m sharing here.  It is also great in smoothies, its taste disappears and it adds tons of nutrition. chicken.kofta4

5.0 from 1 reviews
Kale Tabouli
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Vegetarian main course, Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Ingredients
  • ½ cup cooked quinoa or couscous - cook according to package directions
  • ½ of an English (seedless) cucumber - diced
  • 1 pint of grape tomatoes - diced
  • ½ of a red onion - diced
  • 1 bunch of curly leaf parsley - chopped (flat leaf parsley works also)
  • ½ bunch of kale, stems removed - chopped (see notes below on stem removal)
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (1 large lemon)
  • 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. To de-stem the kale:
  2. Fold the kale leaf in half length-wise so that the stem runs along one side. Run your knife right next to the stem to remove it in one piece.
  3. Cook the quinoa or couscous according to package directions and place on a plate to cool.
  4. For the dressing:
  5. place the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk until combined.
  6. For the salad:
  7. Mix all the remaining ingredients into a bowl along with the cooled quinoa/couscous.
  8. Add the dressing and toss it with the salad to combine.
  9. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

So you go kale…..I’m polishing your crown as we speak.

Chopped Veggie Salad with a Thai Peanut Dressing

 

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This chopped vegetable salad is crunchy, colorful and really delicious.  There is just something about Asian inspired flavors that remind me of Spring and eating light.  This Thai Peanut Dressing is creamy and has a bit of a bite to it with the chili sauce.

I have made this salad many times and sometimes I really spend a lot of time chopping all the veggies to the same size matchsticks and other times I just chop it all up different sizes.  It’s all in the presentation I guess but either way it tastes the same…..Yummy!  I tend to serve this salad with fish, the flavors work perfectly.

This dressing is also great over rice noodles with some bean sprouts and chopped snap peas or as a sauce for pasta with shredded chicken and green onions.

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Chopped Veggie Salad with a Thai Peanut Dressing
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Asian
Serves: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • Salad
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch scallions (green onions), thinly sliced
  • 3 cups snow peas, thinly sliced
  • 3 carrots, thinly sliced or shredded
  • 1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced or shredded
  • ¼ red cabbage, thinly sliced or shredded
  • ½ English cucumber, cut into strips
  • ½ cup peanuts, chopped (plus extra for garnish)
  • ¾ cup fresh cilantro, chopped (plus extra for garnish)
  • Note: I served mine over a bed of chopped kale, stems removed (optional)
  • Dressing
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • ½ cup seasoned rice-wine vinegar
  • ⅓ cup all natural creamy peanut butter
Instructions
  1. Toss all the salad ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. For the dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk all ingredients together until the dressing is smooth in texture.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss with tongs to coat.
  4. To serve, pile a helping of salad onto a plate over the kale (if using) and garnish generously with more cilantro and peanuts. The salad gets better as it sits and will keep for up to three days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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Spring Crostini – Two Ways

 

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It’s finally happened after another dreadfully long winter my “Bring Spring” chants have been heard!  Spring is officially here and with it all of the beautiful dishes that remind me of this glorious season.

I was talking to a child the other day and asking her to describe Spring for me.  She stated in a matter of fact way that “it just makes you happy to be alive.”  Well…..I could not have said it any better.  With longer days, more sunshine, warmer temperatures (hopefully) and flowers about to bloom what doesn’t make it a wonderful time to enjoy life?  Hopefully life outdoors again at that!

I hosted a dinner party for my girlfriends on Friday night and what better to begin with than a bright Spring appetizer.  These little crostinis are “blooming” with bright flavor and went over really well.  In fact, they were requested at our next girls night party!

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Spring Crostini - Two Ways
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer, light meal
Cuisine: Spring
Serves: 40 pieces
Ingredients
  • 1 baguette - sliced into thin rounds - I used 40 rounds for the recipe
  • 1 15 ounce container of Ricotta cheese - either whole milk or part skim
  • 1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 can chickpeas - drained and rinsed
  • 10 ounces of snow peas - ends cut off, chopped
  • ¼ cup pecans or walnuts - chopped
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Italian seasoning spice blend
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin
  • Olive oil - for drizzling
  • Spicy olive oil - I used Harissa - for drizzling
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
Instructions
  1. Lie the baguette slices onto a cookie pan lined with parchment paper or foil.
  2. Drizzle the baguettes with olive oil and sprinkle with the Italian seasoning, Kosher salt and black pepper.
  3. Bake at 400 degrees for 7 minutes until slightly browned and firm.
  4. Allow the baguettes to cool so they can be handled.
  5. Place the chickpeas in a single layer on a cookie pan lined with parchment paper or foil.
  6. Drizzle the chickpeas with olive oil and mix them with your hands to evenly coat them with the oil. Sprinkle them with the cumin and Kosher salt and pepper.
  7. Roast the chickpeas in a 400 degree oven until nicely browned and a bit crispy, approximately 12-15 minutes. Check them frequently to prevent burning them.
  8. Allow the chickpeas to cool.
  9. Mix the Ricotta, lemon zest, Kosher salt and black pepper in a bowl until creamy.
  10. Assemble the crostinis:
  11. Spread a nice layer of the ricotta mixture over the baguette rounds.
  12. Top ½ of the baguettes with the roasted chickpeas and the other ½ with the chopped snow peas and the chopped pecans.
  13. Drizzle the spicy oil onto the snow pea crostinis and the olive oil over the chickpea crostinis.
  14. Serve and enjoy!

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5 Small Lifestyle Changes For Better Health……With Lasting Results

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How are your New Year Resolutions going?  Are you still a regular at the gym?  Are you eating healthier?  Are you being more positive and getting your sleep?  If you’re like many, by February, those good intentions for improved health begin to fall by the wayside. Well, all is definitely not lost.  Drastic lifestyle changes may be tempting but can be tough to maintain after a few weeks.  A more realistic approach is to make a few small and easy to follow changes that are more likely to become a part of your daily routine.  These healthy habits add up to a noticeable improvement in your overall health.

1.  DRINK MORE WATER

Water is a necessity for almost every organ in your body to work at his prime level.  It’s also great for beautiful and healthy skin, hair and nails.  To meet the recommended 8 cups of water per day it’s important to track how much you are drinking during a regular day.  If you’re drinking less than 8 (I know I was), try scheduling times to get in the rest.  For example, a glass of water before your morning coffee or tea really kicks off your day and gets your digestion revved up.  Try carrying a refillable water bottle with you to stay hydrated throughout the day.  Often thirst is mistaken for hunger.  Therefore, drinking more water can actually decrease your appetite allowing you to consume less calories…..BONUS!

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Infusing your water with fruit and herbs makes a refreshing and visually appealing drink that’s easy to make in batches and keep on hand.  Make it by soaking the ingredients in a pitcher for 6 hours or overnight.  The longer you soak the ingredients, the stronger the flavor will be.  Cut the fruit into thin slices to expose more surface area to the water to help the flavors meld.  Squeeze the fruit and muddle the herbs to release even more of their flavor directly into the water.

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My favorites fruits include lemons, oranges, strawberries and pineapple.  For herbs I like mint, a pinch of basil, ginger and rosemary.  My favorite veggie infusion is definitely cucumber.

 

2.  EAT WHOLE GRAINS

Whole grains are actually the seeds of the grains.  Wheat, corn and oats are the usual suspects.  They provide fiber, are packed with energy-producing complex carbohydrates and several essential vitamins and minerals.  Refined grains, on the other hand, have been stripped of many nutrients through the milling process.  Also, the healthy outer shells of the seeds have been removed.  Easy changes like eating whole grain bread and pasta and brown rice instead of their white varieties really incorporate whole grains into your diet.  Plus they taste great, really hearty and satisfying.  Here are some of my most favorite whole grains:

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QUINOA (pronounced “keen-wa”).  It’s a versatile, gluten-free whole grain that’s great as a side dish or a main course.  Learn all about it here.

 

 

kale_farro_saladFARRO.  It’s another ancient grain, like quinoa, but it has a more rice-like texture.  It’s a nutritional powerhouse with a unique nutty flavor.  Farro was a mainstay in the diet of ancient Romans.  It is high in fiber and a good source of iron and protein.  It is easily digested making the nutrients easily absorbed into the body.  Try two of my favorite farro recipes here and here.

 

3.  EAT FRUITS AND VEGETABLES

fruits.jpgOne great way to incorporate more fruits and veggies into your diet is by making smoothies for quick energy-rich breakfasts and snacks.  Berries, bananas and citrus fruits are all great smoothie choices but for an extra nutritional boost try adding spinach, kale or cucumbers.  The fruit masks the flavors of the veggies.

If you avoid fruits and veggies because of the prep work they require, try making them more convenient by washing and cutting them up at the beginning of the week and storing them in bulk in airtight containers in the fridge.  veggies.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

4.  EAT HEALTHIER FATS

avocado.2Fat has always been thought of as bad, especially when you’re trying to get healthy.  However, fat is an important part of the diet when it comes from the right sources.  Saturated fats and trans fats are mainly found in cream, butter and processed oils.  They raise cholesterol levels and therefore can increase the risk of heart disease when consumed in excess.

Unsaturated fats, on the other hand, come from vegetables and natural oils and are an important source of energy that can actually improve cholesterol levels.  Try replacing butter and fatty red meats with healthier alternatives such as olive oil, avocados, nuts and chicken.   Nuts.jpg

 

 

 

 

5.  EAT LEAN PROTEIN

canstockphoto4433902Lean protein is heart healthy and key for remaining satisfied and energized for long periods of time.  Since protein is vital for building muscle, this nutrient is highly effective when paired with exercise.  Fish, chicken and turkey are great protein choices.  White meat is generally a bit leaner than dark meat and removing the skin can help cut down on calories.  Baked, steamed, roasted and grilled are the healthiest cooking methods for your lean proteins.

There’s no better time than then the present to resolve to eat better and live a healthier lifestyle.  Do you have a positive change that you’ve made to your overall health?  As always, I’d love to hear about it.  Here’s to a healthy and happy 2015……..

The Veggetti Spiral Slicer

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Is the Veggetti Spiral Slicer on your Christmas list?  No you say?  Well, it should be!  This little kitchen gadget may have a very naughty sounding name but it’s definitely on the nice list.  It takes ordinary zucchini, carrots, yellow squash and cucumbers and turns them into beautiful curly noodles and spirals either thin or thick cut.

I have been very impressed with the Veggetti but I’ll admit I haven’t tried any other spiral slicers.  There are several models on the market but the Veggetti was inexpensive, $14.99, and came recommended by my friend who is a true foodie so I knew it must be good!

It did not disappoint.  I’ve made only a couple of dishes so far but both of them have turned out really delicious.  The Veggetti works great and does what it promises.  Take a look for yourself….

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Stay tuned for my zucchini noodle recipes, they’re easy, healthy and really yummy.  I hope Santa puts a Veggetti in your stocking this Christmas.

 

A Bountiful Late Harvest

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Well, the inevitable task of picking the remaining vegetables and removing the garden was upon me last weekend.  We had beautiful sunshine and near 70 degree temperatures which I thought might make the sad task a little more tolerable.  I was right, sort of.

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I picked over 100 grape tomatoes, at least half that many heirloom tomatoes and a few peppers.  Here’s the beautiful late harvest bounty…. stay tuned as I turned these into a really nice roasted tomato sauce.

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And, it’s a good thing I did all this last weekend because I woke up today to a rockin’ and rollin’ 26 degree start to the day……whatever!

Winter Squash, one of my favorite things about Fall

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Winter Squash is, in my opinion, one of the most perfect foods.  There many different types and all are so versatile.  They can be stuffed, used to make soups, casseroles, side dishes, desserts, and main courses.  Whether it be butternut, acorn, spaghetti, pumpkin, delicata, hubbard or kabocha they can all be roasted or baked and turned into delicious and visually stunning meals.  As far as the nutrition benefits, winter squash is one of the best plant sources for anti-inflammatory nutrients such as omega 3s and beta-carotene that are good for boosting the immune system and warding off colds and flu.

Ok my fellow foodies, now is your chance to shine.  Please send me your favorite winter squash recipes.  I will be choosing my faves from your faves and then posting them, along with a picture of you making it if you so desire.  So get busy, I look forward to sharing this Fall classic with you!

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Roasted Butternut Squash

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I really love most of the winter squashes but by far my favorite is the butternut squash.  It’s mild taste is comforting and so delicious, I look forward to it every year!  My favorite way to prepare it roasting it in the oven with a little olive oil, salt and pepper until soft.  It’s the perfect meal with a bowl of hot soup.

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Okay Fall, I’m finally beginning to embrace you and all of the beautiful seasonal foods you have to offer.  Stay tuned for my butternut squash soup, it’s a real treat!

Roasted Butternut Squash
 
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My most favorite winter squash is by far the butternut squash. It's mild flavor is comforting and so delicious. My preferred way to cook it is by roasting it until browned and soft.
Author:
Recipe type: Vegetarian, side dish
Cuisine: Fall comfort food
Serves: 2-4
Ingredients
  • 1 butternut squash - peeled, cut in ½ lengthwise, seeds removed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Lay the squash on a baking sheet lined with foil.
  3. Drizzle olive oil over the squash (approximately 2 Tablespoons)
  4. Mix the olive oil over all sides of the squash pieces with your hands.
  5. Roast the squash for 20 minutes then move/flip it around with a spatula.
  6. Continue roasting approximately 5-10 more minutes until fork tender and slightly browned.

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This Artist’s Palette

 

colorful.plate1The title for this post came to me when I looked at my dinner plate one night last week.  It literally looked like an artist’s palette.  I think in many ways cooking is an art and I do feel like an artist creating a masterpiece on my canvas which is a plate.

This dinner was born from needing to use the produce that was in my refrigerator.  I roasted purple and green cabbage and sweet potato and sautéed some green and red bell pepper.  I finished it off with some fresh turkey sausage, casings removed, that I’d picked up at our local meat market on the way home.

The result, one of the most colorful pieces of “edible art” this cook has created!

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How many colors are on your plate?  Nutritionists have always urged us to eat as many different colored foods as possible in order to obtain all the healthy nutrients they  possess.  There are six colors here, do I hear seven?

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