Seasonal Sweet Potatoes

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Every fall, we are lucky to have the delicious sweet potato crop produce in abundance. Sweet potatoes, like all potatoes, have their share of nutrients and vitamins such as high fiber, iron, calcium, B vitamins (energy) and Vitamin C (immune boost). Of course by name alone, this starchy vegetable lends itself more to desserts; however sweet potatoes are a great addition to many savory creations. After purchasing a couple of sweet potatoes from the Chenier Farm at my local farmers market, I used the potatoes to make two sides: rosemary and garlic chive roasted vegetable medley and savory mashed sweet potato. These are great side dishes for any protein of choice. If you want to keep things simple, bake chicken, which you can season 2 to 3 ways on one baking sheet, and steam the leafy green veggie of your choice. Check out the recipes below.

 

Mashed Sweet Potato

Serves 4

 

Ingredients:

1 large sweet Potato (2 -2 ½ cups)

1 tbsp. butter

½ cup of milk

3 tbsp. green onion

½ tbsp. garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

  1. In a medium pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil.
  2. Rinse and peel sweet potato.  Cut in half then slice.
  3. Boil for 12-15 minutes or until tender.
  4. Strain water. Add butter and mash potatoes with a fork.
  5. Add milk, green onion and seasoning. Mix well.
  6. Enjoy.

 

Roasted Vegetable Medley

Serves 4

 

Ingredients:

1 large sweet potato (2 cups)

6 medium turnips (2-2 ½ cups)

1 tbsp. avocado or olive oil

2 tbsp. fresh chopped rosemary

2 tbsp. garlic or regular chives

½ tbsp. cayenne pepper (optional)

1 tsp. smoked paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Rinse and peel potatoes and turnips.
  3. Cut off both ends of turnips but leave stems to stabilize the root while cutting. Cut it in half, then slices. Dice the sliced turnips. Repeat with second half, remaining turnips and potatoes.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Rinse and chop herbs.
  5. Add vegetables, oil, herbs and seasoning and mix until evenly coated with your hands or a spoon.
  6. Spread vegetables into an even layer on parchment paper. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. (Test with a fork. Fork should slide easily into and out of the diced veggies.)
  7. Enjoy.

 

 

Easy Meal Prep

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Prepping ahead goes a long way toward helping you stay on budget and curbing the need for take out under the notion of “I don’t have any thing easy to cook at home.” It’s helpful to always keep a couple of quick cook options stocked in the freezer whether leftovers from a large batch of beans or meat sauce, or pre chopped veggies and seasoning that can be added to your protein of choice. Seasonal vegetables like squash, zucchini and potato can last for several months in the freezer and make an easy breakfast, lunch or dinner meal in a pinch. I’ve added sausage and have also smothered it with onion and garlic to go with chicken. It can also be seasoned a variety of ways to keep things interesting.

A quart size bag makes 2 to 3 servings and a gallon would make roughly 6-8 servings. It’s best to chop and freeze it in your preferred quantity. You can always add bell pepper and/or onion (green, white or yellow) to your mix for added flavor. Personally I prefer a higher ratio of the squash and zucchini to the potato for a higher fiber, lower card ratio.

After thoroughly rinsing the veggies, I chopped roughly a cup to 1 1/4 of squash and zucchini and a 1/2 cup of potato. when adding the onion and bell pepper, add only a cup of the first two veggies to make sure the quart size bag has space.

As some of you may have seen last week, I am attempting to add a videos to support these post. That will be a work in progress :). Please share your thoughts and happy prepping!

Not Your Average Pasta Salad

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I’ve been exploring gluten free dishes and pastas to better support friends and family with gluten sensitivities. Simple is best and adding great flavor is what makes it great. Pasta is a simple dish that can be dressed up many different ways and for this dish I went Greek with a dash of North African flavor. I was also excited to use some produce from my own backyard. I have been growing sweet peppers, tomatoes and of course fresh herbs such as rosemary and green onion. This was easy to pair with baked chicken that I seasoned two ways (lemon rosemary and garlic and herb) for some variation this week. Check out the recipe below and be sure to share your thoughts.

Gluten Free Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

1 cup of dry gluten free elbow pasta

1 cup sliced tomato

1/2 cup sliced sweet peppers

1/4 cup green onion

2 tbsp. harissa

2 tbsp. chopped kalamata olives

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 tbsp. fresh rosemary

1 tbsp. garlic infused olive oil

Directions:

  1. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. 
  2. Rinse vegetables and herbs. Slice tomato; cut peppers in half and remove seeds before slicing thinly. Chop rosemary.
  3. Boil pasta for 8-9 minutes. Chop whole olives or used canned, by straining liquid.
  4. Once boiled, add to a bowl, then add remaining ingredients.
  5. Mix well and enjoy.

Semi Homemade

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What’s in your pantry? It is always good to keep items on hand for easy, semi-homemade meals. I keep staples like canned beans, diced tomatoes (roasted and plain), olives and others in stock for quick and easy meals that are easy on my budget. I picked up some ricotta and arugula ravioli and pasta sauce to make this dish. This dish took ten minutes to make and is packed with nutrients and vitamins. Though I prefer to make my own pasta sauce, I enjoyed this three-cheese tomato sauce from Trader Joe’s and added some fresh greens and herbs. In the future I would likely add some mushrooms for added nutrients red pepper flakes for heat. Check out the recipe below. 

Ingredients:

1 pack of ravioli

1 jar of pasta sauce (of choice)

1 1/2 cups of fresh spinach

1 cup of arugula

1 tbsp. fresh Parmesan 

2 tbsp. fresh basil

Directions:

  1. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil over medium high heat.
  2. Rinse and chop basil. In a large skillet, add sauce, basil and greens and wilt over low heat. 
  3. Add fresh ravioli and boil for three minutes.
  4. Add ravioli to sauce and grate in fresh cheese. 
  5. Enjoy. 

Post Labor Day Cleanse

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After Labor Day indulgences, I decided to make a couple of juice blends to detox and cleanse my system. While beets are not at the top of most people’s favorite list, beet juice has some incredible cleansing properties. Beet juice is known to help lower blood pressure, increase blood flow, boost stamina and improve digestion among other benefits. Beets are loaded with potassium, fiber, vitamin C and nitrates which specifically aid with blood flow and pressure. Adding in a power partner like carrots which increase metabolism, boost the immune system, strengthens vision and improves skin and it’s a no brainer. While carrots are naturally sweet, I boosted the flavor of the mix with a couple of small apples, lemon and ginger.

I also made another juice blend of cucumber, celery and lemon juice. Celery is good for more than just soup and a ranch dressing companion. Juiced, it has antioxidant properties, minimizes oxidative stress, has anti- inflammatory properties and also helps lower blood pressure. Cucumber of course help promote weight loss with a boost to the metabolism, it hydrates the body as it’s mostly water, acts as a natural laxative and boost immunity.

These are two easy juice blends to get you back on track with a healthful diet and weight management routine. The best part is you don’t have to kill your budget to make it work. I made 32 ounces of the beet blend for about $4.25 and the same amount of the cucumber juice for about $2.75. Organic beets can be found at Trader Joe’s for about $1.69, organic gala apples $2.99/bag, organic celery about the same and organic carrots for $.89 a bag. Cucumbers are in season and I brought four for $1 at the farmer’s market. Ginger is also available at most stores or produce stands and since you only need a 1 inch to 2 inch piece, it shouldn’t cost more than $.50. Lemons can be found almost anywhere inexpensively. So if you have a mind to give it a try, check out the recipes below. Enjoy!

 

Beet and Carrot Juice

Ingredients:

1 lb. organic beets washed and peeled

2 lb. organic carrots washed and peeled

3 small organic apples

2 inch piece of peeled ginger

1 medium lemon peeled

 

Directions:

  1. Wash and peel carrots and beets.
  2. Rinse apples and peel ginger and lemon.
  3. Add to juicer alternating between beets and carrots to push all of the pulp through. Add ginger then lemon and juice.
  4. Store in airtight containers in refrigerator for up to three days.

 

Celery Cucumber Juice

Ingredients:

½ lb. organic celery

3 medium cucumbers

2 lemon peeled

1 inch piece of ginger (optional)

 

Directions:

  1. Wash celery and cucumber well.
  2. Peel lemon and ginger.
  3. Juice celery and cucumbers first and then lemon and ginger.
  4. Store in airtight containers in refrigerator for up to three days.

Simply Granola

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Breakfast is the most important meal of my day. I tend to eat like a queen for breakfast and smaller meals through the rest of the day. To keep things interesting I like to try new things like homemade granola for my cereal or yogurt bowls. It’s an easy way to add in extra nutrients from foods like chia seeds, hemp hearts and pumpkin seeds which are loaded with fiber to keep you feeling fuller longer and wonderful omega 3’s for heart health and other health benefits. 

I was pleasantly surprised that this only took about 30 minutes to make and was enough for 6 servings. You can always bake it a little longer if you’d like more crunch or color. Check out the recipe below and share your thoughts.

Breakfast granola

2 1/2 cups rolled oats

2 tbsp. chia seeds

2 tbsp. flax seeds 

2 tbsp. hemp seeds

1/8 cup honey

1/8 cup molasses 

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/2 tbsp. sugar *optional

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl add oats and seeds. In a small bowl mix honey molasses and coconut oil well.
  3. Add content to oats and seeds and mix well.
  4. Add in an even flat layer to baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Stir with a spoon or fork to brown evenly and bake for 10 additional minutes.
  6. Let cool for 10-15 minutes and enjoy.
  7. Store in an airtight container in pantry or on the counter for easy use during the week.

 

 

Watermelon Cooler

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Seasonal fruit like watermelon are wonderful however I often struggle on how to use the whole fruit. There is no such thing as  a small watermelon when your a household of 2 or less. I got a sweet melon from @FrankFeketeFarm, a great local farmer and wanted to try using the melon in different ways. So to get the most out of my melon I cut up what would fit into a large container and decided to transform the rest into a refreshing beverage. This is something refreshing for kids and doesn’t have any added sugar. You can always add lemon or lime for lemonade or limeade for a more kid friendly drink. You can also add other fruits like pineapple or other melons and call it fruit punch. For adult beverages, a splash of tequila or vodka with a twist or lime is all your need.

Watermelon Basil Cooler

Ingredients:

6 cups of watermelon chunks (or as much as you have)

1/2 cup of basil

4 cups of water

Directions:

  1. Peel and chop watermelon into chunks. Add to a bowl to blend with a hand mixer or add to a blender. 
  2. Strain with a large mesh strainer into a pitcher by filling the strainer and pushing the liquid through with the back of a spoon to get as much liquid as possible. If it is a seedless watermelon, you can save the watermelon sauce and eat just like applesauce.
  3. Add basil and water and stir well. Let steep for 30-45 minutes and remove basil.
  4. Serve over ice and enjoy. Refrigerate and drink within 1 week.