Posts tagged ‘vegetarian’
Ok, so here’s my first attempt at a recipe post. I have made this sandwich for lunch three times this week and bragged to Jen about it so she encouraged me to share it as my first post!
So, who doesn’t love grilled cheese? There is something so remarkably comforting about a simple grilled cheese sandwich, especially when paired with a bowl of tomato soup. I also love the flavor combinations of Greek food, especially Tziki sauce. I was inspired to make this sandwich from a post I saw on Pinterest.
I love to make my own Tziki dip, but who wants to do all that work for a quick lunch sandwich, so I came up with a cheater to still get the flavor. This sandwich combines all the flavors I love, pumpernickel bread, cucumber, dill, and goat cheese, which packs a punch with flavor.
To begin, I weighed my goat cheese on a kitchen scale. It is easy to completely load or sandwiches up with unnecessary fat and calories, and until you have a great understanding of servings, this is the easiest suggestion to monitor calorie intake. You may be surprised with how much you end up with, a serving often being larger or smaller than you think. After weighing out an ounce of cheese, I popped it in the microwave for 10 seconds to make if more spreadable. You can skip this step if you leave the cheese sitting on the counter for a little bit, but let’s be honest, who thinks that far ahead? I know when I’m hungry, it is time to make that sandwich and eat it!I This makes the cheese wonderfully spreadable. Then layer the cucumbers up on top of the cheese. This is the fun part. No measuring, just as much as you desire. Nobody got fat by eating too many vegetables! I personally prefer my cucumbers sliced very thinly so I can pile them up higher and feel like there is more on there, but feel free to cut to your desire! I also peeled my cucumber, simply because it is on it’s way out of being good (frugality at its finest!) On this particular sandwich I photographed I do feel like I would have liked more cucumbers. Live and learn!
On the other piece of bread I make my quick tziki. I simply spread a thin layer of greek yogurt on the other piece of bread, sprinkled some onion powder and dill. These flavors combined with cucumber very successfully imitates the tziki flavor, though I will post the recipe at a later time, being that it is one of my favorite dips to make for veggies. After the sandwich was assembled, I sprayed both sides with cooking spray. This way, you achieve the buttery flavor on the outside without loading up on the calories of spreading butter all over. It also helps crisp up the bread. I cooked my sandwich on my George Foreman grill because I like the lines and even texture it gives, but there is nothing stopped you from throwing it in a frying pan the old fashioned way!
I accompanied my sandwich with a bunch of plain baby carrots. For me it added the crunch and sweetness I needed to feel completely full and satisfied. If you are counting calories or doing WeightWatchers, this entire sandwich is 7 points, mostly due to the pumpernickel bread which is 2 points a slice, but feel free to find a different brand!
Goat Cheese and Cucumber Grilled Cheese
serves 1, 7 points total
2 slices pumpernickel bread
cucumber (however much you desire)
1 ounce goat cheese
1 tsp Greek yogurt
1 tsp dill
1 tsp onion powder
2 sprays cooking spray
Summer happened overnight in Boston, it seems. It has been warmer here than it has been in Southwest FL for the past few days! Now that is hot. When my thermostat reads 88F INSIDE the house, there is absolutely no way you can convince me to turn the stove on for longer than absolutely necessary, let alone even think about using the oven. I have survived 4 Boston summers with no A/C, but if it stays this hot for much longer I might break!
To beat the heat, I end up eating a lot of salads in the summer. While I love my leafy greens, salads don’t have to be so monotonous. Here are some of the things I have been making lately:
A lovely, multi-colored, Mexican-inspired salad that is sure to brighten up any meal. I mixed mine all together right away and have enjoyed it for lunch for the past few days. You can eat it plain, serve it as a side for taco night, or even fill a tortilla with it! For those of you afraid of the long ingredient list, most of the work is just simple veggie chopping! Jicama is the most unfamiliar ingredient, but is a wonderful, naturally sweet, tropical starch-y vegetable that adds great crunch and flavor. I can see this recipe easily becoming a summertime lunch staple! I think it would be fun to turn it into a layered jar salad the next time I make it!
Who said fruit salads are just for dessert? This Mango Blueberry Quinoa Salad also makes for another great lunch salad! The lemon-basil dressing is refreshing, and the blueberries and mangoes are unexpected but delicious. This is a must-make for any fruit lover!
The last summer salad I made to go along with these delicious Chipotle Shrimp Burritos with Avocado Crema. I would highly recommend these burritos – simple, spicy, and flavorful. I cheated on the avocado crema and simply mixed a store-bought packet of guacamole with a spoonful of Greek yogurt, some extra cilantro and lime. To balance out the spicy shrimp, I kept the salad on the lighter side. This literally came together with the odds and ends left in my fridge, freezer and pantry from the week! The palmitos are acidic, soft, and refreshing. The edamame provides protein and substance, and the corn has a great natural sweetness. The dressing is heavy on lime, giving it a nice, fresh summer flavor. It reminds me of a grown-up version of succotash with a little South American flavor. It could easily be made into a main meal by adding some avocado and increasing the portion size!
Question: How do you stay cool on hot summer days? My favorite response from a friend: “I eat popsicles in my underwear.”
serves 3-4 as a side dish
1 can hearts of palm (palmitos), drained and sliced
1 1/2 cups shelled edamame, cooked according to package instructions
2 ears corn, steamed (about 1 1/2 cups if using frozen)
1 cup loosely packed cilantro, minced
3 scallions, greens and whites, sliced
3 limes, juiced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1/4 tsp salt and garlic powder (or to taste)
Cook the edamame according to package instructions. Allow to cool. Steam the corn for 3-4 minutes. Once cool, cut the kernels from the cob. Mix the corn, edamame, and sliced palmitos together in a bowl. Add the sliced scallions and minced cilantro. Whisk together dressing of lime juice, olive oil, and rice wine vinegar. Season to taste with salt and garlic powder, then stir to combine. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.
You guys remember my awesome roommate, right? She has made her appearance a few times on this blog, mostly during our crazy roommate dinner adventures… You may recall the voluminous winter melon soup mishap or this tasty sugar-free apple crisp we created together. She is getting married in less than a month (yay!) and I was excited to think of creative ways to make her feel loved for her bridal shower a week ago.
First, the non-food details! I had the week leading up to the shower off from school and studying, and so unleashed a bit of my crafty side in making these party favors. The small potted plants were her original idea for wedding favors, but the dirt and the size made them a bit impractical at her venue. Since we held her bridal shower in a park, I decided to make her idea a reality! The 4-inch pots are cheap, about $1 each at the hardware store. The flowers were also bundled in bulk, and so came at a steep discount. The signs also came together easily with some cardstock, popsicle sticks, and gel pens. My grandma and sister were a great help and sat for an hour on the patio with me, making each of the 25 “Let Love Grow Wild” signs in assembly line fashion. I think they came out well, and everyone loved them!
Another paper craft, this time made by a good friend’s mom. On the shower invitations, we asked everyone to bring a recipe for my roommate and her fiance to try out in their new kitchen! We gave her this book to help organize the recipes she has collected, as well as her new ones to try! This book is brilliant: there are blank cardstock pages to paste in printed recipes or ones cut out from magazines, and there are envelopes to store cards from friends and relatives. I have one of my own and I love it! I use it often to write down what I am making for the blog, which helps me to stay organized. If you are interested in getting one for yourself, contact Debbie at Life Is A Special Occasion (email@example.com)!
Now, onto the food. Since it was an afternoon affair, we served light picnic fair. I picked up a veggie platter at Costco, enlisted my wonderful boyfriend to carve me a watermelon basket for fruit salad, and threw together a quick Greek pasta salad. This salad has no mayonnaise, which makes it an ideal picnic and cookout side without fear of food poisoning. It also has some great bold flavors from the onions, feta, and olives. The dressing, borrowed from Ina Garten, brings the whole salad together. I made this in bulk, but halved the recipe below for more family-style cooking. If you are confused on the quantity of ingredients, I used entire standard-size jars of each ingredient labeled in ounces for the bulk recipe. (For example, a 6-oz jar of olives.)
Use your creative license with this salad – add some chickpeas, stir in some celery. Make it yours and bring it to your next summer party!
Greek Pasta Salad
1 boxes whole wheat elbow macaroni
3 oz pitted kalamata olives, drained and sliced
6 oz roasted red peppers, drained and diced
5 oz cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 cup artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
1/2 c feta
1 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (1/2 tbsp fresh)
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Meanwhile, slice the olives, red peppers and red onions and add to a large mixing bowl. Quarter the cherry tomatoes and chop the artichoke hearts; add to the bowl. In a separate small bowl, mix together the garlic, herbs, oil and vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the vegetables. Stir to combine. Add the dressing and stir until well coated. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours, then add the feta. Serve cold or at room temperature.
46F was our high today. With sprinkly rain and gloomy clouds. On April 23. That is cold, friends! Winter has not seemed to get the memo: GO AWAY. The trees are blooming, the birds are singing, the clocks have changed, and my sweaters are looking worn and tired. I have a new spring dress that is begging to be worn. The weather is just not cooperating with me here! Where is SPRING?
The only thing that can make a dreary and cold day better is soup, and this one hit the spot! This soup was inspired by a recent trip to the Asian food market. I was excited to see inexpensive Kabocha squash, so picked one up along with a bag of baby Bok choy. As I paid for my purchases, the squash rang up as “Japanese pumpkin.” And the idea for what would become of the Kabocha squash was born: miso soup! The bok choy and the squash seemed to be natural soup add-ins, and the mushrooms were a last minute thought to add texture and more body. Tofu would also be a natural addition, but I did not have any on hand and do not always love how soggy it gets in leftover soup. I used a “minute miso” paste to create this soup, which made prep minimal. I have never worked with real miso paste, so am not quite sure what modifications that would add, but most bottles come with general instructions on how to create the basic miso broth! Overall, this soup comes together in 35-40 minutes, with most of the cook time added from the roasted squash.
Is your town’s weather uncooperative as well? Then give this soup a try!
Kabocha, Mushroom and Baby Bok Choy Miso Soup
Vegan, serves 4 as main course or 6-8 as starter
1 clove garlic, minced
8-oz package white button mushrooms, sliced
6 heads baby Bok choy, stems cut off with leaves roughly quartered and separated
1 kabocha squash, sliced into 1-inch strips
1/4 cup miso paste
4 cups hot water
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame seed oil
Half the kabocha squash, and then cut into slices. Toss lightly with half of the sesame seed oil, then lightly salt and pepper to taste. Roast in a 400F oven for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, saute sliced mushrooms in garlic and remaining sesame seed oil. Add the soy sauce, then cook until half of the liquid is absorbed. Add the bok choy, then turn off heat.
Meanwhile, bring water to boil in a kettle. Measure out 1/4 cup miso paste and add to a large 4-cup measure. Add boiling water to bring the total volume to 4 cups. Stir, then pour over the vegetable mixture. Stir the greens until they are well wilted.
Once the kabocha squash is finished roasting, remove from oven and gently peel back the skin with a fork. Cut into chunks and add to soup. Bring soup back to a boil, then remove from heat. Stir and serve warm.
My most recent rotation left me with a lot of free time. Desperately needed free time. I had literally been praying for weeks, “I just need time to relax and recover!” Yet, when I got my free time (finally), I had no idea what to do with it! I realized I have been so busy for the past year that I had forgotten how to “waste time” or just sit and be. I lost track of what my hobbies were, what I would do for fun or to relax. I ended up sleeping a lot, working out a little, and watching TV more than I care to admit. However, after 3 weeks, I finally feel back to “me”. I am reading a book for fun again. I have caught up on the news. I know at least one recent event not related to health care. I have caught up with friends, with family, with blogs.
And I have created. This might possibly be one of the best recipes to come out of my kitchen to date. I made it twice before getting it right to share with you. It was inspired by two different lasagnas prepared by friends – one a twist on traditional lasagna with an Indian flare, and one made gluten-free with zucchini noodles. I decided to combine both ideas with my own vegetarian flare, and the results were DELICIOUS. Seriously. My roommate and two house guests would agree. Every bite sings softly with curry and a hint of spice, with the warmth and comfort of traditional lasagna. Better yet, it is incredibly healthy with zucchini for “noodles”, tempeh in place of ground beef, and a lot less cheese than you would normally expect.
The best part of this recipe is its adaptability. If you are a carnivore, you can easily use 8 oz. ground turkey or chicken in place of the tempeh. If you like your pasta, use noodles instead! Add more chili flakes if you really want that spicy factor. A note on the tempeh– a quick Google search informs me that there are gluten-free varieties. The kind I used had some barley grains and so technically wouldn’t be safe for the gluten intolerant. However, if you are both gluten-free and vegetarian, there are varieties that exist and are safe for you! If you haven’t explored tempeh before, I would also recommend adventuring to the store and trying it. The flavor is mild and the texture mimics ground meat well in this dish. Have fun with this recipe and enjoy letting your creativity flow in the kitchen!
Indian Spiced Zucchini Tempeh Lasagna
1 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large white onion, minced
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp corriander seeds
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
8 oz package tempeh
2 medium zucchini
4 oz goat cheese
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
In a large pan, saute garlic and onions in olive oil until onions are very soft and begin to lightly brown, about 7 minutes or more. Stir the spices directly into the onions over low heat. Stir in the tomatoes and tomato paste and continue to cook over low heat. Meanwhile, in a small pan coated with cooking spray, crumble the tempeh. Cook for a few minutes over medium heat to slightly brown the crumbles. Stir the tempeh into the tomato sauce and reduce to lowest heat. Cook until the sauce is thick.
Meanwhile, slice the zucchini into long, thin “noodles” using a mandolin set on the intermediate thickness. In a separate bowl, combine goat cheese and yogurt until smooth. Spray an 8×8 baking dish with cooking spray. Begin with 2 layers of zucchini slices to create the bottom layer. Top with half of the tempeh mixture, and then another 2 layers of zucchini. (I criss-crossed my layers to create a better faux noodle). Spread the middle zucchini layer with half of the cheese mixture. Top with the remaining tempeh and another zucchini layer, and then coat the top with the remaining cheese mixture. Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes, or until the inside is bubbling and the edges are lightly crisp. Cut into 4 squares and serve.
Recipes come to you in the strangest and most inappropriate of places… the shower, during exams, during church… However, after a long time of feeling stuck in a rut in the kitchen, I was thankful for some new ideas this weekend! When I first started receiving my Boston Organics box, I would often have no clue what to do with some of the vegetables. Collard greens, kale, delicata squash? I had never seen some of these things! In fact, my lack of random veggie knowledge is what introduced me to the blog world. However, this is my third fall receiving the box, so few veggies take me by surprise anymore. This has led to me repeating recipes (not always a bad thing) and feeling rather un-creative in the kitchen. Lately, I have started playing with new spices and flavor profiles instead of new veggies to keep my meals interesting! And thus, this recipe was born.
I originally wanted to use peas to mimic an Indian rice dish that a friend of mine makes, but none were to be found in my freezer. I saw, instead, a half of a zucchini leftover from another dish that was just begging to be finished. Summer and fall squash does not make for the most seasonal of combinations, so replace as you wish with peas or some other green veggie! The candied ginger is homemade and adds a great sweetness, and together with the cranberries play off well from the spicy garam masala. The Indian flare takes this out of my comfort zone, from more typical Italian and American herbs to a more exotic (to me) flavor profile. A sprinkle or two of goat cheese would also be welcomed if you aren’t looking to keep this vegan! This recipe invites playfulness, so try it the next time you are looking for some kitchen fun!
Stuffed Delicata Squash
2 medium delicata squash (about 1 lb)
1/2 cup quinoa, cooked
1 cup zucchini, shredded
1 tbsp candied ginger, minced
2 tbsp dried cranberries
1/2 cup chickpeas
1 tbsp garam masala
pinch salt to taste
Cook quinoa according to package instructions. Mix with shredded zucchini, ginger, cranberries, chickpeas and garam masala. Adjust salt to taste. Split delicate squash in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds and stringy insides with a spoon. (You can save the seeds to roast like pumpkin seeds, but there is a lot of string to pick through). Fill each squash with several spoonfuls of the quinoa mixture. Add a few tablespoons of water to the bottom of the dish and cover. Bake in a 350F oven, covered, for 20 minutes, then uncover and bake for 10 minutes or until the squash is fork tender. Serve as a main dish with a side salad or as a side for a special meal! (Note: the delicata squash has a “delicate” skin that can be eaten!)
Some days, comfort food is a necessity. Specifically, rainy days filled with grumpy patients, impossible automated phone calls, and traffic. After a rather benign but somehow still intolerable Friday, I dreamed up this comforting pasta bake while stuck in traffic on my way home. I had a bunch of leftover tidbits of ingredients from my Girl’s Night and a lot of leafy greens from my Boston Organics box that seemed to scream out for a creamy pasta dish. At first, I had an idea to make a grown-up version of my Mom’s amazing mac n’ cheese, which was inspired by our favorite white pizza. However, I saw the tomatoes and sauce calling out to be used and morphed this into a Tomato Basil Pasta bake. (I will have to come back to that other idea though!) To me, comfort equates to carbs and cheese, but done in a way that avoids the bloaty, to0-full feeling that plagues me after most rich pastas. For this dish, the ricotta adds the rich creaminess without making it too heavy, and the 1:1 pasta and greens ratio helps make this a healthier version of a typical cheesey pasta. Try this the next time a long day at work leaves you craving comfort!
Tomato Basil Pasta Bake
1/2 box whole wheat rotini
1 large bunch kale, stemmed and chopped
4 on-the vine tomatoes, diced (about 1 cup)
3/4 cup fat-free ricotta
1/2 cup low sodium pasta sauce
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 +1/4 cup parmesan cheese, separated
1 tbsp basil, chiffonade
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350. Cook pasta according to directions, but stop 1-2 minutes shy of recommended cooking time for very al dente pasta. Meanwhile, prepare the kale and place in your pasta strainer. Strain your pasta over the kale, allowing the hot water to slightly steam the kale. (You don’t want to cook it, just soften it so that it stirs into the pasta better). In a separate bowl, mix together the remainder of the ingredients, except for separated 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese. Mix in the pasta and kale. Stir until well combined. Pour into an 8×8 brownie pan coated with cooking spray. Top with remaining parmesan cheese. Bake at 350F for 12 minutes or until heated through and the cheese has fully melted. Cut into rough squares and serve!
Life has had more than a few new adventures for me in the last several months. I passed the first step of my board exams, started my third year clerkships (and completed the two hardest rotations!), and have begun to transition from being a book-based student to an apprentice. My days look dramatically different, and there has had to be some change to accommodate that. While I will never fully be able to settle into routine since my clerkships rotate on a close to monthly basis, I am starting to get the hang of “going to work” every day. I have never been happier to wake up each morning, excited to see what challenges face me and new things there are to learn. My days might be long and arduous, but even on the most difficult of days I know that I have made the right decision.
My personal life has also started to change as well. I have been dating my boyfriend for 5 months now and could not be happier. He has been a friend and constant source of encouragement for me as I face the shifting demands of third year of medical school. While we are best friends and have a lot in common, our thoughts on food are pretty opposite. He is a carnivore by nature and would be happy eating steak and eggs for the rest of his life if he could. He has been following the Paleo diet for the past few months, successfully losing 20+ pounds and gaining a substantial amount of muscle. This has forced me to do some reading and further research into healthy diets, and has left me with a softer and more moderate view towards food choices. My view on vegetables will never change: they are the cornerstone of a healthy diet, whether you are trying to lose or sustain your weight. However, there is good evidence to support that a sugar and carbohydrate heavy diet can be just as dangerous as a diet rich in red meat. I have also learned that diets lower in dairy consumption have also been shown to be healthier. My conclusion, not far off from where I started, is that life is all about balance. A healthy lifestyle is more than what we put in our body, it is also about gaining joy from what we eat and with whom we share our meals. Where does that leave me? I guess I am moving towards a more “flexitarian” lifestyle. I still cook and eat vegetarian/vegan meals at home. My diet is still based off of real foods. I have started using less dairy and wheat and have shifted to more whole grains like quinoa and farro. When I am in a giving mood, I will make my boyfriend a “side” of meat. When we go out, I will often choose the seafood option from the menu, since these tend to be healthier, less cheese-laden, and more creative. Living in New England means there is too much good, locally caught seafood to pass up. I am learning to let go of the rigid definitions of healthy eating that I have held, and to embrace enjoying food more fully as a cultural and creative outlet.
Outside of the hospital, I have still had time for a few fun adventures. To tie up a wordy post, I will leave you with a few pictures of the summer I squeezed in around rotations!
Sometimes, there is nothing more satisfying than making a delicious and healthy gourmet meal at home after a long day at work. Other times, I cannot stand to be on my feet for two more minutes and will gladly eat eggs or chips and salsa for dinner. Needless to say, my attitude towards cooking has been slightly bipolar over the past month while on my surgery rotation. The mornings are early, the days run long, and it is a physically demanding job. After running around on my feet all day, standing perfectly still while retracting or driving the camera in the OR, and constantly being questioned to flesh out my comprehension of disease and surgical interventions, more often than not I come home completely exhausted.
However, sometimes cooking a meal at home is exactly what the doctor ordered to remedy a stressful day. Cooking is my creative outlet. A place where I can experiment and the results will only cost food. The kitchen is now a place where I am confident that I know that I am competent, a feeling that is fleeting as a third year student. This recipe was born from a stressful day on my surgery rotation. My friend came for dinner to vent about our day, and we found solace and comfort in the creative process and constant attention that this risotto required. I have seen red wine risottos before, and had good results using farro as a base in the past, so decided to combine a few recipes I have made in the past to achieve this most delicious result. Hands down, this is the best recipe I have made all summer. It is perfect for the chilly fall evenings that are creeping around the corner, and can fix even the worst of bad days in just a few bites. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did!
Red Wine Risotto with Farro and Mushrooms
8oz package mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves minced garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup red wine
1 small onion, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cup farro (or arborio rice)
1/2 cup red wine
4 cups veg stock
1 tbsp dried parsley
shredded Parmesan cheese to taste (optional)
Begin by heating garlic and olive oil over medium heat. Saute mushrooms for several minutes, until they begin to soften. Add 1/4 cup red wine and simmer until liquid reduces. In a separate pot, saute onions in remaining olive oil. Add farro and remaining red wine. When all liquid has absorbed, add 1/2 cup vegetable broth. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until all liquid has been absorbed. Add the broth in 1/2 cup increments until all of the broth has been added and absorbed. The farro should have a chewy but soft consistency when fully cooked. Stir in the mushrooms and parsley. Heat through for 2-3 more minutes. Serve over wilted spinach with Parmesan cheese to taste.