vegetarian

Stupid-Easy Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers

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IMG_4922Good morning. Happy Monday. I’ve got a meatless recipe for you today.

Stuffed peppers were one of the first meals I learned to make as a college grad. They were so easy—and so cheap! For years, they were a weeknight staple, and I have no idea when and how they fell out of rotation. Until this weekend, I can safely say it had been ay least 3 years (if not longer) since I’d made them.

Go figure, it was this recipe from Self magazine that reminded me of how much I love lentil-stuffed peppers. Aside from being delicious, they’re a great source of protein, fiber, and iron—the absorption of which is enhanced by the vitamin C in the pepper. I decided to put a Mediterranean-style spin on it by using a blend of spices instead of salsa. I also topped mine with goat cheese and served it with mixed greens veggies mixed with hummus. Feel free to experiment.

Ingredients:

  • 1 halved bell pepper, cut in half and seeded
  • ½ cup cooked lentils
  • ¼ tsp each: oregano, rosemary, coriander, cinnamon, and cumin
  • 1-2 tbsp crumbled goat cheese
  • 1 large handful baby spinach
  • ½-1 cup roasted peppers, eggplant, onion, and/or zucchini, chopped
  • 1 tbsp hummus

Directions:

  1. Microwave pepper halves on High for 2 minutes to soften. Set aside.
  2. Mix lentils with spices. Divide between the pepper halves and microwave for another 2 minutes until warm. Sprinkle 1 tbsp goat cheese on top and microwave another 30 seconds or so until the cheese melts.
  3. Place spinach in a microwave-safe bowl and wilt by cooking on High for 30-60 seconds. Add veggies and microwave another minute. Add hummus and mix well. Cook another 30-60 seconds if desired.
  4. Pour veggies onto plate with pepper. Add the last tbsp of goat cheese if desired.

What was one of the first foods you learned to make? 

Red Lentil Chili

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Yesterday was cold.

I had the day off from my clinical job, but I had some other work to do that was going to require some time in front of the computer. Because I had day-off brain, I kept finding things to do instead of sitting down to my to-do-list items. Naturally, one of those things was to make soup.

Red Lentil ChiliI was thinking about making red lentil soup from this recipe, but I was also sort of in the mood for chili. So…this happened. Because red lentils cook so quickly, this comes together in no time at all. It’s the perfect weeknight dinner for the wintertime.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 medium butternut squash, cut into small cubes
  • 1 c red lentils, dry
  • 4-5 cups water or veggie broth
  • 1 24-oz can crushed or diced tomatoes (I used fire-roasted)
  • 3 c spinach, fresh or thawed from frozen

Directions: 

  1. Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, garlic, and celery. Cook a few minutes until fragrant and onion begins to turn translucent. Add spices and cook another 2 or 3 minutes.
  3. Add squash and lentils. Toss well. Cook a few minutes to coat and then add water. Raise heat and bring to a boil. Lower heat and allow to simmer 10 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes and spinach. Simmer another 15-20 minutes.

Enjoy hot topped with a little goat cheese—or, you know, slightly more traditional chili toppings. This would also be great over brown rice or quinoa.

What’s one of your favorite cold-weather weeknight meals? 

Red-and-Green After-Christmas Detox

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If you are like the majority of Americans who just celebrated Christmas, chances are you’re probably feeling a little, “OMG why did I eat that?” Or “Ugh, SO. Much. Pie.” Or at least feeling extra-motivated to hit the gym and “eat better” come January first. Why wait to feed yourself something healthy?

red and green detoxThis recipe is stupid-easy and super-satisfying. Yes, we are going to use a lot of hyphens for this one. Sorry, no bacon here, but maybe you’re bacon-ed out from all those holiday brunches and side dishes with their salty-crunchy garnishes?

I made this on the 26th and enjoyed the leftovers at work the next day. You can also serve this for two with some wine and crusty bread instead of seltzer from the soda fountain and a side of crackers in a Ziploc…

Ingredients: 

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch kale and/or spinach
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 handful grape tomatoes
  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed
  • red pepper flakes to taste

Directions: 

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and shallot. Sauté until fragrant and shallot is translucent.
  2. Add greens and cook until they start to wilt. Add red pepper flakes, if using.
  3. Add mushrooms and grape tomatoes. Cook until they begin to soften.
  4. Add chickpeas. Mix everything well and cook until greens are wilted, mushrooms and tomato are soft, and chickpeas are nice and hot.
  5. Serve garnished with grated cheese.

What foods do you like to make after a string of indulgent holiday meals? 

For Meatless Monday: Mushroom Lentil Bourguignon

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Julia Child

Perhaps I am hoping against hope here, but I like to think that Julia Child would get on board the Meatless Monday train once in a while, were she still alive.

I first became obsessed with the idea of a vegetarian take on her  classic beef bourguignon several years ago after seeing Smitten Kitchen’s Mushroom Bourguingnon recreated on another blog. It kicked around my head for a long time before I finally whipped up my own version for a Valentine’s Day dinner party with some lady friends back in 2011. Agh! I can’t believe how long ago that sounds! Anyway, I added some lentils to mine for a little extra protein, and I’ve been making it that way ever since.

This recipe is far from traditional (note the lack of butter), but I can promise that it is delicious and satisfying thanks to a generous amount of protein and fiber. It’s the perfect warming meal for a cold night, and it also happens to be a great excuse to open a bottle of wine. It’s often that thing I make when I just want to have a glass and need to justify opening the whole bottle. #SingleLadyProblems.

Mushroom Lentil Bourguignon

Serves 3-4

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 pounds sliced Portobello or cremini mushrooms
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2-3 cups beef or vegetable broth (or water)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup cooked green lentils (or ½ c dry, cooked according to package direction)
  • 1 cup pearl onions, peeled (thawed if frozen)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

1.) Heat the one tablespoon of the olive oil in a heavy sauce pan or stock pot over high heat. Sear the mushrooms until they just begin to darken, (~3 minutes). Remove from pan and set aside.

2.) Lower heat to medium and add the second tablespoon of olive oil. Toss the carrots, onions, celery, garlic, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper and cook about 10, minutes stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to lightly brown.

3.) Add the wine to the pot, scraping up any bits that may have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Turn the heat all the way up and allow contents of pot to reduce by half (cooks off the alcohol). Stir in the tomato paste and broth/water. Add back the mushrooms and then the lentils and pearl onions.

4.) Lower heat and simmer ~ 20-25 minutes or until it reaches desired thickness.

The traditional way to serve this is over egg noodles with sour cream and sprinkle with chives or parsley, but I actually like it over steamed greens like kale or spinach with some crusty bread on the side for dipping. It’s also delicious with some crumbled goat cheese on top.

What do you think—would Julia Child be a Meatless Monday supporter? 

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

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roasted cauliflower soupAs you may or may not have noticed, I go through phases with posting recipes. At times, this has bothered me, but fortunately, in the past year, I’ve gotten better at just rolling with whatever it is I feel compelled to write about.

Interestingly, October and November have found me spending a lot of time experimenting in the kitchen—most likely it’s because cooler temps make it hard to throw stuff in a bowl and call it Salad.

A few weeks ago, I came across this recipe and couldn’t get it out of my head. I even went out and bought chickpea flour for the dumplings. Go figure, though, I forgot to see if I had any baking powder handy before I got to work. Next time, Gadget. No big deal, though. I made a few tweaks to work with what I had on hand, and I have a feeling this recipe is going to be one of those “in the vault” meals for the winter.

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • ~3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • a few drops liquid smoke
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth (or water)
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, no salt added
  • Parsley, minced, for garnish

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss cauliflower with 1.5 tbsp pool and salt. Roast cauliflower 30-45 minutes or until browned.
  2. Meanwhile, heat remaining oil over medium heat in a large stock pot. Add onion, celery, and carrot. Cook until soft, ~7 or 8 minutes. Add garlic, cook another 2 minutes, continuously stirring.
  3. Add spices, bay leaf, broth, tomato, and chickpeas. Turn heat up to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer 10-15 minutes.
  4. Add the cauliflower and simmer another 10 minutes.
  5. Serve hot and garnished with fresh parsley.

Do you cook more or less when it’s cold out? What are some of your favorite cold-weather recipes? 

Beyond Sushi

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One of the many wonderful things about NYC is the food—this is a town that caters to practically any kind of diet you can think of. It’s especially friendly to vegetarians and vegans. The other night, I had the pleasure of dining with a few herbivore friends at Beyond Sushi (which I think I maybe first heard about on Valerie’s blog?).

This place is the creation of Hell’s Kitchen, finalist, Chef Guy Vaknin, who saw a need for delicious, vegan sushi, and began creating gorgeous fruit and vegetable sushi. Each piece comes wrapped in either black forbidden rice or a customized six-grain rice blend. Tofu, veggie purées, and delicious sauces like toasted Cayenne, Carrot Ginger, Shiitake Teriyaki, Mango Chili, or White Miso take the place of high-sodium soy sauce (though you can still find it on the table). There are also delicious noodle soup bowls as well as appetizers and desserts.

There are only three small tables in the East 14th Street location, but we managed to score a spot by the window. Every single thing we ordered was delicious. My friends shared some sushi (and were kind of enough to share—I can totally vouch for the “Crunch N’ Munch” roll) and coconut curry noodles, while I went with a mushroom-tastic soba noodle bowl with white miso sauce. beyond sushi mushroom noodles

F-ing awesome. Did I ever mention that mushrooms are one of my favorite foods ever? If I lived closer, I would probably eat here all the time. I already can’t wait to go back. For those of you who prefer to stick to the west side, there’s also a location called The Green Roll in Chelsea Market. I’m looking for an excuse to visit soon. You should too.

Have you ever had vegetarian sushi? Do you like mushrooms? 

New Vegan/Vegetarian Food Pyramid

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I saw this the other day while catching up on some blogs and wanted to share. Though I’m not a vegetarian, I am a big believer in following a plant-based diet, which may or may not include some animal protein. For some, a vegetarian or even vegan diet can be a healthy choice if planned well.

At the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic’s Food and Nutrition Conference a few weeks ago, the nonprofit organization, Oldways, released an updated Vegetarian/Vegan food guide pyramid that had been created with the input of doctors, dietitians, and researchers.

I especially like that the base of the pyramid is physical activity and sharing meals with loved ones. That fruits and vegetables make up the biggest nutritional component (and not grains) makes me smile too. You can eat all the soy chick’n you want, but what good is a plant-based diet without the plants?

 What do you think of this food pyramid? Do you follow a vegetarian diet?