Cheezy Green Bean Crisps

Happy New Year everyone! Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2016 filled with delicious food of course.
Let’s start this year of right with a super simple snack. I find that when I make my own snacks at home, they’re less processed than what I can buy in stores, I save money, and I get to make recipes exactly for what I crave. When I have healthy snacks on hand it makes it a lot easier to eat well and not tear open a bag of chips.
For this recipe I used a dehydrator but you could also try baking them in the oven though they may not achieve the same crispiness that you get from using a dehydrator. Feel free to change up all the spices to make it exactly to your liking!

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Ingredients:
16 oz green beans
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/3 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon chili powder

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Directions:
Place all ingredients in a bowl and toss to evenly coat the green beans.
Place in your dehydrator for 8-12 hours until crispy and enjoy!

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Sweet Spiced Kabocha Squash

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Nothing says winter veggie to me more than squash. A great source of vitamins A & C, carotenoids, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties and a slew of other benefits, squash is a hearty vegetable that can be prepared in a variety of ways.
My favorite squash of them all is kabocha. Not to be confused with kombucha the fizzy probiotic drink, kabocha or japanese pumpkin is both lower in calories and carbohydrates, yet sweeter than other squash varieties.

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Serves 4 Sides

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or ½ teaspoon cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon each ground ginger and nutmeg)
1 medium kabocha squash

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Directions:
Preheat the oven to 425.
Cut kabocha squash in half and scoop out seeds and guts. Slice squash into pieces around 1 inch thick.
Cover a sheet pan with tinfoil (or alternatively with coconut oil spray) and spread out slices of squash onto one even layer.
In a small bowl combine the oil, sugar, and spices.
Drizzle/brush the mixture evenly on top of the squash pieces.
Bake for 30 minutes.

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One Pan Tofu Ratatouille

I love eggplant, but it often looks intimidating and I usually turn to more familiar squashes like zucchini or yellow squash. However, when passing it in the store the other day, I felt inspired to purchase a single eggplant and create a new dish.
Eggplant’s peak season is July-October, so while this dish is delicious year round, I always suggest focusing your meals on produce that is in season so it is freshest and often a more environmentally friendly choice.
I have never made ratatouille before, but I knew the gist of the ingredients and the texture of this signature Italian dish. I decided to add in some tofu for an added protein kick, which I added to the pan first to enhance its crispiness. The whole meal was made in about 20 minutes and all in one pan, which my boyfriend who is on perpetual dish duty was certainly grateful for.
This recipe makes two HUGE servings with are each under 200 calories, 23 grams of carbs (7.5 which are fiber) and 12 grams of protein!

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Makes 2 large servings or 6 sides

Ingredients:
1/2 large eggplant, cubed
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
1/2 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups fresh organic spinach
½ container extra firm tofu, cubed (you could use any protein of your choice)
1 cup organic diced tomatoes
¼ teaspoon each dried basil, thyme, oregano, red pepper flakes, cumin and garlic
3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
Himalayan sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:
In a large sauté pan, heat oil and garlic. Once fragrant, add in tofu to heat. Once tofu is lightly golden brown, add sliced onion and eggplant and let cook for 5 minutes, stirring often until onions are translucent and eggplant is somewhat soft. Add in chopped bell pepper and cook for an additional 5 minutes until heated through.

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Toss in your dark greens and mix. Once greens wilt, add in diced tomatoes and seasoning. Stir together and let mixture simmer for 5-8 minutes.
Top with chopped basil.

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Steamin’ hot!

Quinoa Almond Salad

Every week on Sunday I like to make a large jar of grains to use throughout the week. I don’t really like to meal prep because I like to be inspired by what looks good at the farmer’s market or grocery store and I can’t anticipate what I will be craving a few days in advance. However, I have found that making a grain in bulk before the week picks up really cuts down on my dinner prep time and adding a few simple ingredients keeps the monotony at bay.
I generally like to rotate between lentils, brown rice, wild rice, or in this case, quinoa. Switching it up each week means I don’t get bored of the same old grain.DSCN4778
For this recipe I added a few ingredients and was pretty surprised at how gourmet it tasted! While the rosemary olive oil is optional, it really adds to the unique depth of flavor in this dish. I received this olive oil and red wine vinegar from a friend and it comes from a vineyard in Napa Valley that has amazing wine as well as oil and vinegar. You can even sign up for wine or their “Food Lover’s Club” to get these delivered.
Though I ate my creation as a side dish, it would be great as a base for a quinoa bowl or served on a bed of greens as a salad.DSCN4793

Serves 1

Ingredients:
½ cup cooked quinoa
½ tablespoon sliced almonds
1 ½ teaspoons rosemary olive oil, I used Round Pond (regular olive oil is OK)
1 ½ – 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste

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Directions:
Put everything but sliced almonds in a bowl and mix. Add in sliced almonds and stir to incorporate. It’s that easy!

Lentil Tomato Mash

In an attempt to recover a batch of somewhat mushy lentils, I came up with this yummy and hearty side dish. With 13g of protein and 8g of fiber per serving in this trio lentil blend I purchased from Costco, you could easily make this dish as a main course served over some sauteed veggies or brown rice.
Now this dish certainly doesn’t look the prettiest so maybe not something for when you’re trying to impress guests at a dinner party, but it’s hearty, healthy and tastes darn good.

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Ingredients:
1 ¼ cup cooked lentils
1 cup crushed no salt added tomatoes
½ large white onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoons braggs liquid aminos/soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

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Directions:
Dice a ½ of a large white onion with 2 minced cloves of garlic and a bit of olive oil for a few minutes. Add in 1 cup of crushed tomatoes and 1 ¼ cup cooked lentils and stir around until heated through.
Sprinkle on paprika, chili powder, oregano, braggs liquid aminos/soy sauce and salt and pepper and stir to incorporate.

Siracha Honey Roasted Brussels

I’ll eat brussel sprouts in any form- sauteed, boiled, even raw, but roasting them is probably my favorite.
I wanted to create a simple recipe that had a unique spin on the plain balsamic brussel sprouts I often make. The addition of siracha and sesame oil has a surprising taste that when paired with honey is both spicy and sweet.
Enjoy these as a side dish or on top of some quinoa or a salad!

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Ingredients:
1 lb brussel sprouts
1 tablespoon siracha
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (or balsamic glaze)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons rosemary

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Directions:
Preheat your oven to 400F.
Slice brussel sprouts in halves or quarters, according to your preference.
In a large bowl, whisk together the siracha, honey, sesame oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper. Add in the brussel sprouts and toss to coat.
On a foil lined or sprayed baking sheet, spread out the brussel sprouts so that you create one even layer.
Place brussel sprouts in the oven for 35-40 minutes (cooking time will also be less if you cut them into quarters).
Remove from oven and sprinkle with rosemary.

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Buffed Up Pumpkin Butter

With Fall in full swing, there is no time like the present to fully embrace pumpkin flavored everything. I chose to revisit my original Buffed Up Almond Butter and make a version that is more seasonally appropriate.
This could not be simpler to make and is packed with protein, 0 added sugar, low carb, and reasonably low in fat is well (and what is there is good fats coming from nuts!)
You can really use any nuts, peanuts were just what I had on hand. For protein powder, I used vanilla, but nowadays there are so many options like cinnamon or even pumpkin spice that a variety would taste delicious.
So ditch the sugary and nutrition-less pumpkin options from stores and try this one out for size.
Warning: Not only white girls will dig this pumpkin flavored treat.

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Ingredients:
¼ cup peanuts (raw or roasted)
⅓ cup pumpkin puree
1 scoop protein powder of choice
½ teaspoon cinnamon/pumpkin spice
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
Stevia or sweetener of choice to taste
Pinch of salt

Directions:
Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor until desired consistency is reached. I chose to leave mine a bit chunky for some extra texture.

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Cheesy Green Bean Fries

How do you make a vegetable taste good? Turn it into a fry! How do you make ANYTHING taste good? Put cheese on it!
I used to work for a dairy company and in every mini fridge were blocks of delicious organic cheese- completely free. (Although after getting almost run over by a cow that summer I think I deserved all the free cheese in the world but I digress…) Anyways, it took some serious willpower to pass by each kitchenette and not snag a slice, but instead I began to think of the myriad of ways in which I could incorporate cheese into a balanced recipe.

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These crispy, cheesy green bean fries are delicious combination of crunch and salty cheesy bite. Great as a snack or side dish, they are perfect for both the picky eater and vegetable connoisseur. Serve as is or even dipped in some organic ketchup for an authentic fry experience.

Ingredients:
3-4 cups of fresh green beans
¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese/nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons olive oil

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400F.
Cut ends of green beans.
Place trimmed green beans in a bowl and drizzle olive oil. Toss to coat green beans with the oil. Add all spices and cheese to the bowl and again toss to fully coat.

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Place green beans onto a baking pan/dish, making sure they do not overlap.
Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Next, broil for 2-3 minutes for especially crispy green bean fries.

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Vegan Garlic Cauliflower Mash

The idea of cauliflower mash is great. Replacing potatoes with a low carb, high nutrient vegetable is a dream come true. However, I’ve noticed that either this swap is so bland and completely unsatisfying, or there so much butter/sugar/cream is added to the equation that it defeats the purpose of making the healthy switcharoo in the first place.
I decided to take the task on myself to create a lighter, yet creamy and delectable version of cauliflower mash. This is super easy and seriously will not disappoint.
The heavy dose of garlic will be sure to keep any vampires or unwanted sexual advances very much away.

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Makes ~4 cups of mashers

Ingredients:
4 cups cauliflower florets
2 cloves garlic
1/2 small white onion
2-4 tablespoons cashew milk or milk of choice
1-2 teaspoons melted coconut oil
Salt and pepper to taste
½  cup parsley
Optional: ½ teaspoon garlic powder

Directions:
Heat oven to 375F. Place garlic cloves in foil and either spray/drizzle with oil of choice (coconut/olive oil). Place on baking sheet and set timer for 45 minutes.
20 minutes into roasting the garlic, place chopped ½ of a small white onion that has been lightly tossed/sprayed with oil of choice onto the baking sheet and return to oven for the additional 25 minutes of roasting time.
Meanwhile, steam your 4 cups of cauliflower.

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Once all veggies have been prepared, place them in a blender or food processor. Add in the 1-2 teaspoons of melted coconut oil, salt and pepper and optional garlic powder.
Blend the mixture, slowly adding tablespoon by tablespoon of milk until a smooth consistency is reached.

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Finally, add in parsley and blend until parsley is roughly chopped and sprinkled throughout mixture.

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Watermelon Salad

Knowing that California watermelon season is quickly approaching its end, I jumped on the opportunity to buy one when I saw a stand selling them this weekend at my local farmer’s market.
I have a history of accidentally cutting myself with knives, so I let someone else do the major chopping and then began enjoying the fresh and juicy slices.
Though watermelon is fantastic on its own, I wanted to mix it up and create a refreshing salad combining my farmer’s market produce.
This recipe is single serve but can easily be doubled, tripled or multiplied tenfold for a crowd. It is light, refreshing, sweet and crunchy all at the same time. For a creamier bite, a sprinkling of crumbled feta on top is especially delicious.

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Ingredients:
¾-1 cup watermelon
4 mint leaves
2 large radishes
1 small or ⅓ a large cucumber
¼ lime
½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon olive oil
Salt to taste
Optional: feta cheese

Directions:
Cut watermelon and cucumber into ¼ inch chunks. Either slice or dice radishes.
Place watermelon, radishes and cucumber into a bowl. Tear or chop mint leaves and sprinkle on top.
Squeeze juice from ¼ of a lime and drizzle ½ teaspoon of olive oil and apple cider vinegar on top of the salad. Add salt to taste and then toss to coat.

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For best results, stick it in the fridge for at least an hour.

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