After thanksgiving and being in two weddings in the past 3 weeks, I’m getting back to my healthy. That means more soups/gumbos and salads to combat the wonderful indulgences that the holidays and weddings provide.
Since I knew what was coming, I had already planted my winter crops and am excited to cook my first mustard green harvest. I’ve also already stocked my freezer with different soups and stews over the past several months, so the work is already done.
My salad crops of arugula, mixed greens and mustards are also nearing harvest. Growing is pretty easy and you can pretty much harvest any young greens for quick salads.
I’ve been trying my hand at growing everything from tomatoes and peppers this spring and summer to now garlic and turmeric. If you are interested in growing some of your own food, I’d encourage you to start with herbs or indoor micro greens. Both were great starts for me and after conversations with my local farmers, I’ve since expanded to other things and built simple boxes for my crops. Growing can be work depending on how much you are doing, but it’s been so rewarding to eat things I’ve grown myself.
To prepare these greens, I just rinsed, chopped and sautéed them in olive oil with garlic for 5 minutes; simple and tasty.
I’m considering a short spring growing series. What do you think? 🙂
Thanksgiving brings together family with food and fun and also brings the opportunity to share gratitude. In addition to time with family we all look forward to our favorite dishes for the Thanksgiving holiday. While I am certainly looking forward to mirliton dressing, I will also prepare a healthy side to share my gratitude for health in this season.
I fell in love with the oyster mushrooms from the Red Stick Farmers Market and wanted to share this tasty idea a side option. With multiple varieties of kale in season, I selected the tender Dino kale and sautéed them with garlic and the mushrooms for a quick and easy side dish. You can always substitute any other mushroom of choice. Check out the recipe below.
In addition to this recipe, the savory sweet potato dishes in my last post would also make great seasonal sides. I challenge you to make a healthy dish and add it to the mix this Thanksgiving. Be sure to share your creations!
Sautéed Kale and Mushrooms
4 cups of Kale
2 cups of oyster mushrooms diced
6-8 cloves of garlic minced
1 tbsp. Olive oil
1/2 cup of water
1 tsp. Red pepper flakes or cayenne
Salt and pepper to taste
- Rinse kale and slice leaves in half longwise before chopping.
- Heat oil over medium heat. Peel and mince garlic and add to oil. Add red pepper flakes.
- Chop mushrooms and add to garlic. Add in kale and stir well for one minute.
- Add water, top and reduce heat to low for 3-5 minutes or until tender.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
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
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
- In a medium pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil.
- Rinse and peel sweet potato. Cut in half then slice.
- Boil for 12-15 minutes or until tender.
- Strain water. Add butter and mash potatoes with a fork.
- Add milk, green onion and seasoning. Mix well.
Roasted Vegetable Medley
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
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Rinse and peel potatoes and turnips.
- 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.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Rinse and chop herbs.
- Add vegetables, oil, herbs and seasoning and mix until evenly coated with your hands or a spoon.
- 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.)
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!
There is something to be said about roasted vegetables. Add in some sausage and spice and it’s a win win! Check out this tasty win from today’s demo at the Red Stick Farmers Market!
2 cups large diced eggplant
2 cups large diced squash
2 cups large diced zucchini
1 cup chopped bell pepper
1 cup diced green onion
1 tbsp. olive or avocado oil
1 lb. Italian sausage (optional or sausage of choice)
1 14.5 oz can of tomato sauce
2 1/2 cups of water
1 tbsp. Sunny herb blend (Red Stick Spice) or Italian seasoning
1 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 tsp salt and black pepper
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Rinse vegetables. Cut ends off of zucchini, then cut in half and halve each half. Cut into strips, then dice. Repeat with squash and add to baking sheet.
- Cut ends off eggplant, the cut in half. Cut a half in half horizontally, but only midway through to stabilize it. Slice into strips then dice, repeating with remaining eggplant. Add to baking sheet.
- Coat in oil and mix well. Bake for 30 minutes.
- Rinse and dice bell pepper and onion. In a large pot, brown the sausage with the peppers and onion for 5-7 minutes over medium high heat.
- Once roasted veggies are done, add to the pot, then open and add the can of tomato sauce. Add one and a half cans of water to the pot. Reduce heat.
- Add seasoning, stir well and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
- Enjoy! (Can be served with rice or quinoa).
While I enjoy a nice tuna or salmon fillet, I’ve been itching to try the canned and pouched varieties with an inspired twist. Both varieties of fish are great sources of omega 3s and vitamins such as the B complex, selenium and magnesium which means they are great sources of antioxidants which fight oxidative stress in the body and helps defend the body from chronic disease. Fish is recommended to be consumed at least twice a week to get the best benefits from these powerful sources of nutrients and lean proteins. I started with salmon cakes, as an alternative to the traditional crab cakes and served it on a bed of arugula and mixed kale greens and cucumber from my local farmers market. Of course I was proud to add a few tomatoes from my own back yard. J To top things off I used a little lemon juice and black currant balsamic vinegar, though any preferred variety will work with this dish. Check out the recipe below. Please l note that no salt was used because of the wonderful addition of capers and Kalamata olives in the salmon cakes; however if you are not as fond of them as I am and prefer salt, a small pinch will do. Share your thoughts and enjoy!
1 5oz can of boneless skinless pink salmon
2 tsp capers
5 kalamata olives chopped
2 tbsp. green onion chopped
½ tbsp. flour of choice
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp olive oil
2 cups of salad greens (mixed or preferred choice)
1 cup of sliced cucumber
½ cup tomato
1 tbsp. dressing of choice
1 lemon juiced
- Open and strain liquid from the can. Add to a small bowl.
- Rinse and chop green onion. Chop pitted Kalamata olives. Add both to bowl
- Add capers and pepper to the bowl and the juice of half a lemon. Mix well. Add flour and mix well.
- Add oil to a medium skillet over medium heat.
- While it heats, form two patties and once hot add to oil. Cook for 2 minutes or until it starts to brown then flip and repeat on the other side. Turn off heat. (It may break and if so, the other browned side will help bind the patty back together.)
- Rinse salad greens, cucumber and tomato. Slice cucumber and tomato and add to plates. Add cakes then a drizzle of lemon juice and dressing.
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
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
- Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil.
- Rinse vegetables and herbs. Slice tomato; cut peppers in half and remove seeds before slicing thinly. Chop rosemary.
- Boil pasta for 8-9 minutes. Chop whole olives or used canned, by straining liquid.
- Once boiled, add to a bowl, then add remaining ingredients.
- Mix well and enjoy.
Sangria is a great addition to any day whether celebrating the end of the week, hosting a girls night or simply having a staycation, sangria is a versatile, easy win. I love that you can add virtually any fruit to truly make this drink your own. It can me made ahead of time if you are hosting something within a few hours, and will last a couple of days in the fridge. I made this quick win with fruit I had on hand, and can’t wait to try other combinations! And of course you can always eat the fruit in your glass for an added bonus. While traditionally sangria is made with wine and brandy, I’m a big fan of trying out other liquors, or even a combination of a couple if you are feeling adventurous and empowered. Check out my recipe below.
1 bottle of white wine (table one or preferred mix)
1 cup of sliced grapes
1 orange sliced
1 lime sliced
2 sprigs of mint (orange or any preferred)
1/2 cup of tequila ( or 1/4 tequila and 1/4 gin or vodka)
- Rinse and slice fruit and add to a pitcher. Muddle gently with the back of a spoon or muddled.
- Add mint, top with wine and liquor. Stir and refrigerate until ready to enjoy.
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.
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
- Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil over medium high heat.
- Rinse and chop basil. In a large skillet, add sauce, basil and greens and wilt over low heat.
- Add fresh ravioli and boil for three minutes.
- Add ravioli to sauce and grate in fresh cheese.
So I did something I haven’t done in years; I burned a creation that I just knew would be mouth-watering delicious. I even shamefully ate it partially cold at lunch, afraid that it might smell a little scorched. While trimming my tomato plants, repotting herbs that I started indoors, and working on my spinach trellis, I lost track of time and my inspired dish suffered. Though my spicy stewed coconut chicken dish was not perfect as intended, the ginger basil fried rice was it’s saving grace as that had my full attention. It was also a good reminder that time waits for no one, so neglecting to set a timer thinking “this won’t take long” is a recipe for scorched food. I sufficiently learned my lesson. This is a pretty inexpensive dish, using chicken legs as a base which adds lots of flavor while being wallet friendly. Even the fried rice required little using items already on hand. If you’d like to try a non-scorched version, check out the recipe below.
Spicy Stewed Coconut Chicken
1 pack of chicken legs (4 count)
1 can diced tomato
6oz coconut milk
6 cups of water
2 cups of chicken stock
1 cup of chopped spinach
1 cup diced onion
3 cloves of grated garlic
2 tbsp. fresh basil
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. fresh ground peppercorn (or coarse black pepper)
1 tsp. cayenne (optional)
1 tsp. sea salt
- Bring water and stock to a boil in a medium pot. Rinse and add chicken legs, garlic powder and ground peppercorns or pepper. Boil for 18 minutes.
- Remove chicken and cut from the bone before adding back into the pot. Add diced tomato (with liquid), coconut milk, basil and cayenne. Grate in garlic or mince well and add.
- Peel and dice a small onion and add to pot. Cook for 10 minutes on simmer, then rinse, chop and add spinach.
- Simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
- Enjoy with plain or fried rice.
Ginger Basil Fried Rice
1 cup cooked white or brown rice (preferably a few days old)
2 tbsp. reduced sodium soy sauce
1 small carrot grated or in slivers
1 tbsp. sriracha
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. grated ginger
2 cloves of sliced garlic
3 tbsp. chopped basil
1 tbsp. oil (olive, avocado or coconut oil)
- In a wok or large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Slice garlic and chop basil while oil heats.
- Add garlic and basil and stir to infuse in the oil. Add rice and stir occasionally, lightly browning for 5 minutes.
- Grate ginger and add to pot. Peel carrot and grate or peel into slivers with a potato peeler.
- Move still browning rice to one side of the pan and add the eggs. Mix in well with the rice.
- Add soy sauce, sriracha and sesame oil and mix well. Salt and pepper to taste.