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Foodist Approved: Lebanese-style Grilled Eggplant with Tomatoes, Chickpeas, and Quinoa

by | Jul 21, 2015
Grilled eggplant with chickpeas and tomatoes

Grilled eggplant with chickpeas and tomatoes

Vegans, vegetarians, and vegetable aficionados rejoice—you need not be a meat-lover to have fun grilling this summer. Vibrant vegetables (and fruit!) can benefit from the sear of a hot grill as much as a juicy burger or steak.

Thick slabs of eggplant brushed with olive oil and spices, transform into melt-in-your-mouth goodness when charred to perfection.

Grilling is faster than cooking on the stovetop and it requires less cleanup. Ready to get your grill on?! Here are a few tips to get you started:

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Foodist Approved: Maple Pecan Nut Butter

by | Mar 4, 2015
maple pecan nut butter

maple pecan nut butter

I have an affinity for nut butters. My freshman year of college, when I was running an insane amount of miles and living in the dismal dorms, I used to keep a jar of peanut butter by my bed. My roommate, to this day, still teases me about my by-the-spoonful, middle-of-the-night peanut butter snacking habit.

Years later when I worked in Geneva, Switzerland I kept a jar of almond butter in my desk drawer at work. Once again my nut butter snacking habit provided much entertainment. My co-workers thought it was hilariously odd that I ate almond butter imported from the US slathered on apples. Lucky for me, I never had to share, and they had no idea what they were missing out on.

Despite the ridicule over the years, nut butter spread on fruit or swirled into yogurt remains my beloved afternoon snack. After discovering that I could make a better butter at home, I’ve been experimenting with endless flavor combinations.

Compared to store-bought ones homemade nut butters have a richer nuttiness and deeper flavor, all of which adds up to some serious snacking satisfaction.

This Maple Pecan Nut Butter of mine is my new love. It only takes a small amount of maple syrup to bring to life the innate sweetness of the pecans. Adding almonds to the mix saves on cost without taking away from the butter’s better-than-pie goodness.

Serve it anyway you like: mash into a baked yam (trust me on this one!), swirl into whole milk yogurt, serve on top of baked apples or poached pears or simply slather on bananas, apple slices or thick slices of toast.

Homemade is more perishable than store-bought, so it’s best to make in small batches. Or better yet, make a large batch and freeze any amount that you can salvage from immediate consumption.

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Foodist Approved: Grain-Free Tabouleh Salad

by | Jan 14, 2015
grain-free tabouleh

grain-free tabouleh

This grainless variation of a Lebanese classic was specially requested by Darya’s husband, Kevin. Kevin came across a tabouleh salad made with cauliflower instead of bulgur while on a work trip and has been craving it ever since.

Because just about everyone can benefit from more veggies and many of us are sensitive to grains, it seemed like a genius substitution.

I love how much the roasted cauliflower resembles couscous once pulsed a couple times in the food processor, only sweeter and fluffier. A definite keeper!

Tomatoes in the wintertime remind me of soggy cardboard—flavorless and mealy—so I used reconstituted sun-dried tomatoes. Of course come summertime, feel free to swap back in fresh cherry tomatoes.

Thanks for the inspiration, Kevin!

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Foodist Approved: 4-Ingredient Silky Butternut Soup

by | Dec 31, 2014
butternut and leek soup

butternut and leek soup

I’ve got a feeling that 2015 is going to be a good year for you. Why? Because you’re finally going to learn to cook—and cook well.

So well that eating out just won’t impress you much anymore. Once you start donning that apron, you’ll find yourself thinking, “I could have made this better myself.”

This realization is kind of a bummer every time you eat out, but it’s definitely good for the wallet and waistline.

To get you warmed up (resolutions never last unless you ease into them), here’s a foolproof recipe for Silky Butternut Soup.

This flavorful wholesome soup requires just four ingredients and a few basic seasonings that are probably already sitting on your spice rack. The creamy richness you’re about to indulge in comes from the tahini, no dairy needed.

An immersion blender (stick blender) is a useful tool to have in your kitchen for pureeing soups and sauces.

To dress this soup up for a dinner party, top it with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a handful of toasted pecans.

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Foodist Approved: Toasted Turmeric Pumpkin Seeds

by | Oct 29, 2014
turmeric pumpkin seeds

turmeric pumpkin seeds

Boo!

It’s finally time to carve that giant pumpkin that’s been hanging out on your front steps for the last couple of weeks. I know I’ve been anxiously awaiting this moment, not because I can’t wait to carve a scary face (my carving skills are seriously lackluster), but because I can’t wait to get my hands on those slimy seeds.

The best part about carving pumpkins has gotta be the seeds. They’re a gooey, stringy mess coming out, but with a little love they can be transformed into a crunchy, crave-worthy salty snack. If you overdo it with sugar on Halloween night, they’ll provide some much-needed balance.

And here’s one more reason to not toss your seeds: pumpkin seeds are high in zinc, a mineral we could all use a little extra boost of this time of year. Zinc helps your body fight off nasty cold and flu viruses.

Happy carving!

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Foodist Approved: Roasted Parsnip and Cauliflower Hummus

by | Feb 12, 2014
Roasted Parsnip and Cauliflower Hummus

Roasted Parsnip and Cauliflower Hummus

I love making homemade hummus, but I don’t always love the process of soaking and simmering the chickpeas for hours in advance. Plus beans just don’t seem to agree with everyone (if you know what I mean).

So I decided to concoct a bean-free hummus with seasonal roasted vegetables. I chose parsnips and cauliflower to keep the creamy white of traditional hummus, and to lend an earthy, crave-worthy sweetness to this seasonal spread.

This recipe is a 2-for-1. The first step yields an alluring tray of roasted veggies that you’ll want to snack on right out of the oven. That’s fine! Go ahead and relish—just make sure to set aside two and a half cups of them for the hummus. Otherwise the whole batch might get demolished by hungry peeps.

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Foodist Approved: Tuscan Red Lentil Soup with Kale and Farro

by | Jan 15, 2014
Red lentil soup with kale and farro

Red lentil soup with kale and farro

This past week has been a pinch hectic as my husband and I closed on our first house and are getting ready to move.

Dinners had to be quick and easy with minimal cleanup, meaning one-pot meals instead of my usual nightly disaster in the kitchen (which always keeps my husband busy scrubbing). But into those single pots I also needed to fit a lot of healthy goodness, as I’ve been extra hungry lately (have I mentioned that I’m pregnant!!).

My best concoction from the week was a creamy, hearty soup that I loved so much, I made it twice. This recipe takes less than fifteen minutes to throw together and then you can just sit back with a glass of wine and enjoy the smells while it simmers (no wine for me!).

I got lucky with how good this soup turned out as I was actually just trying to use up a few random ingredients in our pantry. I found a bag of red lentils that had been sitting neglected for a while. I like how red lentils take on a creamy texture when cooked in a broth. They’re perfect for thickening a soup and they add a healthy dose of protein and fiber.

I tossed in a cup of farro to make it a meal. That, combined with the kale, made this a one-pot meal loaded with both nutrition and flavor.

It also makes for a delicious vegan soup (there is no actual cream in this creamy soup). Simply use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth and skip the sprinkle of parmesan.

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Foodist Approved: Southern Black-Eyed Peas with Collard Greens and Quinoa Salad

by | Jan 1, 2014
Black-eyed peas and collard greens quinoa salad

Black-eyed peas with collard greens and quinoa salad

This recipe is inspired by my Southern roots. In the South we eat black-eyed peas and collard greens on New Year’s Day for good luck. Tradition says that eating these cute beans leads to a prosperous year.

Typically this dish is cooked in pork fat. I decided to skip the oink and instead created a vibrant salad. After all the holiday overindulging we need a little help detoxifying our digestive systems.

This recipe contains plenty of foods rich in fiber and phytonutrients, two things crucial to cleaning the ol’ pipes of toxins. You can make it ahead and pack for lunch all week to ensure you start your year right.

Here’s to a delicious 2014!
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Foodist Approved: Roasted Butternut and Leek Warm Winter Salad

by | Dec 4, 2013
Butternut Warm Winter Salad

Butternut Warm Winter Salad

It’s OK to let yourself indulge a little this time of year. The best part about the holidays is family, friends and… food. I can’t imagine how boring a holiday party would be without delicious eats and festive cocktails. And enjoying good food in the company of good friends is healthier than eating a salad by yourself at home in front of the TV.

But (and this is a big but) don’t be tempted to bring home the leftover cheese platter and pecan pie, even with Mom insisting.

To maintain your healthy lifestyle throughout the holiday season it’s important to eat fresh and light at home. Soups, salads, baked fish and roasted veggies are all great choices. They’ll balance out all the festive eating and drinking, and getting plenty of veggies this time of year is especially important to keep your immune system strong and your waistline in check.

When the weather is cold and rainy (as it so often is this time of year in Portland), I don’t crave salads. But I know that a salad is sometimes just what I need to recover from a night out. I’ve discovered that if I top my salad with warm roasted veggies, I get both my raw- and cooked-veggie fix together. Plus, a warm salad is so much more appealing. The key to a winter salad is to use a hearty green like arugula or spinach; leave the romaine lettuce for light summer salads.

I made an amazing winter salad the other night with leftover roasted butternut squash. I added it atop my usual favorite combo of arugula, walnuts and Parmesan, then added pomegranate seeds and a drizzle of hummus dressing. It was so good!

Butternut can be difficult to chop. I recommend heating the entire squash in the oven for 5 – 10 minutes so that it’s easier to get a knife through it. Or buy your butternut already cut (I promise I won’t tell). Just don’t use frozen butternut. After cooking it will have the consistency of baby food.
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Foodist Approved: Cucumber Wakame Salad with Oranges

by | Nov 13, 2013
Cucumber Wakame Salad

Cucumber Wakame Salad

Unless you’re Japanese, here are some words you’ve probably never heard: “Honey, we’re running low on wakame! Don’t forget to pick up another bag!”

But perhaps they should be. Sea vegetables (wakame is one) are one of the world’s most nutrient-dense foods. Sea vegetables make up 10% of a typical Japanese diet, and guess what people live longer than any other in the world? (Hint: it ain’t Americans.)

The ocean provides us with thousands of varieties of vegetables. Some varieties have a fishier taste than others, but marinating the vegetables in a lemon or vinegar dressing will offset that fishiness. My favorite varieties are wakame, arame, toasted nori and kombu. Because of its mild taste, arame is great for kids and those who’ve never tried seaweed. You can find all these varieties in most health food stores. They come dried in small bags and require soaking in water to rejuvenate, but are otherwise easy to store and can be kept on hand for days for when you need a good nutrition kick.

Below is a recipe for my favorite seaweed salad. You’ve probably had a similar dish at Japanese restaurants. The restaurant version has a lot of added sugar. Instead of sugar I use orange segments for a delicious sweet and salty contrast. This salad is easy to prepare and goes well with an array of main dishes, from baked fish to veggie stir-fries to steak or grilled chicken. Try it as a side with my Miso-marinated Grilled Chicken. I promise you’ll be happy and healthy!
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