Ever since I cut down on my red meat consumption, I’ve really missed one of my favorite splurges: the patty melt. Maybe they taste good going down, but then reality sets in. Indigestion, the meat sweats, that brick-in-my-gut feeling. So when I saw this recipe I just knew I had to try it.
I made these Portobello Patty Melts last night for dinner, and they were GOOD. Like, really good. A few things I did differently: instead of caramelizing the onions for 40 minutes, I did it for about 20. Also, instead of roasting the portobello mushrooms for 40-45 minutes, I put them in a pan with the marinade and sautéed them with a cover on until they were ready. It saved about 20 minutes which is huge when you have a hungry family.
My daughter hates mushrooms so she opted for a grilled cheese but my husband and I really liked them. I can’t wait to have them again. Maybe next week?
Maybe allergies are kicking my butt. I woke up yesterday with my ears completely clogged and everything sounded like I was underwater. I generally just didn’t feel great. So after I got home from picking up the 12 year old from school and it was time to make dinner, I was thankful I had planned on making this simple Rice Noodle Salad With Cucumber, Peanuts, and Basil. It took about 20 minutes from start to finish and there was absolutely no cooking involved. If you’re lucky, you have a kid that likes to cook and will make the dressing for you while you sit comfortably. This would make for a perfect summertime supper when it’s just too hot to turn on the stove. The recipe also fits with our Meatless Monday plans, which I would say we adhere to about 90% of the time. Going meatless once a week can reduce your risk of preventable diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. It can also help reduce our carbon footprint. Plus, it’s generally cheaper to make a meatless meal. Win/win!
The original recipe came from Redbook Magazine but I made some changes to the recipe and adapted it, so here’s my version:
Rice Noodle Salad With Cucumber, Peanuts, and Basil
Pour hot water over noodles to cover and let sit for about 5 minutes, until softened. Drain and set aside. Meanwhile, cut all the veggies up into thin slices, place the nuts in a baggie and whack them with a rolling pin to “chop”, and whisk together the dressing ingredients. Assemble the salads, drizzle dressing over the top, and sprinkle with sesame seeds. ENJOY!
NOTE: If you want more protein in your salad, it would be very easy to add rotisserie chicken, tofu, shrimp or any leftover meat you have. Maybe it’ll become a new family favorite.
Can we talk? It’s Friday, but it feels like three days ago should have been Friday. You know? There is 11″ of snow in the forecast and Saturday morning’s wind chill is supposed to be -35. MINUS THIRTY FIVE DEGREES. Let that sink in. I’ll wait.
Tonight, though, is family movie night. Kevin McCallister will be brilliantly foiling the Wet Bandits at every turn as they repeatedly try to break into his house. Meanwhile, his family tries (and except for his mom, they are not trying that hard, if we are being honest) to reunite with him back in the suburbs of Chicago.
There will likely be Thai takeout and decorating of gingerbread cookies and my grandma’s Chex Mix.
And then there will be a cocktail. It’s Friday night after all. A simple glass of red isn’t going to cut it.
Fun background note: Recently my friend Mimi and I were playing paddle (It’s like a shorter game of tennis/raquetball played outside in the winter) and I commented that she had a crazy good return shot that I dubbed “The Mimi Zinger”. Then we decided that sounded like the perfect name for a cocktail. I told her I would come up with a cocktail named after her and she requested it have pomegranate juice in it. I think this is a good fit.
If I can get to the store in the blizzard that I will buy the ingredients for this twist on a Moscow Mule (which is one of my all time favorite cocktails. I even have the copper mugs). Then we will settle in and hunker down until tomorrow morning.
Pomegranate Moscow Mule (i.e.: The Mimi Zinger)
2 oz. vodka
1 oz. pomegranate juice UPDATE: a bottle of pure pomegranate juice cost $11 at Whole Foods so I bought cranberry pomegranate blend for $4 and it was delicious!
1 tbsp. pomegranate seeds (optional)
1 tbsp. lime juice
1/2 c. ice
In a cocktail glass stir together vodka, pomegranate juice, pomegranate seeds, tbsp. lime juice, honey, and ice.
Top off with ginger beer (I like Reed’s, which I buy at Whole Foods)
*Adapted from a recipe retrieved from Delish.com
Have a favorite cocktail recipe to share with me? Please leave it in the comments!
It occurred to me recently that I have done very little actual cooking. If you know me at all (like, AT ALL) you know I love cooking. I love reading recipes and chopping things and creating something nourishing and delicious for the people in my life.
But it’s December. And it’s hectic. I have one child who isn’t even close to being over scheduled, I work part time from home and go to school part time online, and yet here we are, running around all over the place. If I’m busy, just imagine what most other families are feeling.
Last night we got home from the third event of the day totally wiped out. We had gotten seven inches of snow the night before and during the day, so my husband went outside to start the cleanup. I had a Blue Apron recipe waiting in the fridge for me to make. It looked delicious — General Tso’s chicken. And yet. I was so tired I just couldn’t. So I did the next best thing, which was to open some containers of soup, throw together a salad from a bag, and pop a frozen multi-grain garlic baguette into the toaster oven. I microwaved some edamame that was leftover from God knows when (there was no visible mold so it was good enough for me) and sliced a single yellow bell pepper for the kid who at 12 still hates salad. And that was dinner. And it was good! Just as I was putting everything on the table a good friend texted that she had just enough leftover fruit crisp and vanilla ice cream for our family of three, and would we want it? She was going to take her dog for a walk and would pop over with it. It took me less than a heartbeat to accept her offer, and it was by far the most delicious ending to a meal we’ve had in a long time. It was so tasty, and better yet, it was such a kind gesture and just what we all needed at the end of our day.
So, I have no recipe for you today, no health snippets. I guess all I’m saying is sometimes the best meals are the ones that you throw together with what you have, and that canned soup might just be the perfect dinner when we are all doing the best we can.
The weather took a sharp turn here this week, with temps dropping into the 30’s overnight and 50’s in the day. It’s gorgeous, this crisp fall weather. It’s also that perfect time of the season where the last of the delicious garden tomatoes are at their peak and you just want to use them in everything before the frost comes and it’s too late.
Late summer/early fall tomatoes are perfect on pasta, I think. We love pasta in our house. We eat it about once a week, always with different variations of sauces. Over the years I’ve migrated from making white flour pasta to whole wheat to quinoa/brown rice blend. Recently I’ve started experimenting with legume pasta. I love that it is made with *only one ingredient*. In addition, legume pasta is high in protein and fiber. It’s also gluten-free, vegan, and in the case of Pasta Lensi, also Non-GMO Project Verified.
Pasta Lensi, an authentic Italian pasta company, has been around since 1920. And just this September they launched their line of legume pastas. They sent me three flavors to try, which is fun because I really enjoy trying new things (ask any of my friends, they are constantly hearing me talk about something new I’ve discovered).
This week I made the Chickpea Casarecce.It’s made with flour ground solely from chickpeas. I was told it pairs nicely with chunky sauces so I decided to make Pasta Caprese. Chunky tomatoes, shallots, lemon juice and fresh buffalo mozzarella –what could be better? (Of note: the chickpea pasta is a good source of potassium and iron. Iron is important when you eat mostly vegetarian, and so when you get it from non-meat sources it’s important to pair it with vitamin C. The tomatoes would be perfect for that.)
Sadly, while preparing dinner I realized my mozzarella had gone bad in the fridge. What I didn’t know is that the Chickpea Casarecce would impart a creaminess to the dish, which compensated for the lack of cheese quite nicely. I love that it has 22 grams of protein per 3.5 oz serving. The high protein content easily made up for the lack of cheese or meat in the dish. It also has 12 grams of fiber, which is just about 1/2 of an adult’s fiber needs for the day.
Dinner was favorably received by my family, and for that I am always grateful. My 11 year old gladly ate her whole bowlful. Here’s the recipe so you can try it at home.
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste (I love flake sea salt)
1.5-2 lbs chopped in-season tomatoes
1 pound Pasta Lensi Chickpea Casarecce (or any pasta of your choice)
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup torn fresh basil
Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, shallot and garlic in a medium bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Gently stir in the tomatoes. Let sit for at least 15 minutes so that the flavors combine. In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs. (This pasta, like all the legume pastas I’ve tried, creates a foamy layer on the top of the water. Make sure to use a pot bigger than you need and watch so it doesn’t boil over.) Pour the pasta into a large bowl and spoon the tomatoes mixture on top, then stir to combine. Add the mozzarella and basil, and season with salt and pepper if needed. Garnish with whole sprigs of basil. Serve hot or room temperature.
Please let me know what you think of this recipe! Don’t hesitate to share with with your friends!
*I was provided product and compensated for my post by Pasta Lensi. All opinions are authentically mine.
How are the first few days of fall treating you? I’m always so surprised by how quickly summer turns to fall here in the north. Thoughts turn to soups and roasts and brisk walks with the dog while bundled up.
Fall can bring about new stressors. Back-to-school, changing weather patterns, and a suddenly full calendar all seem to conspire to make us frazzled and frenzied. The impending holiday season will only make things more hectic, so now is a great time to check in with yourself and make any adjustments. I loved this article about how even the best nutrition can’t always counteract the inflammation that chronic stress creates. But don’t fret, there are so many ways to deal with stress. Mindful meditation is one of my favorite ways to quickly feel better. In fact, I have the Headspace app on my phone and use it regularly. Regular exercise is always a great bet. It releases endorphins that boost your mood.
And when all else fails, sometimes a hot bowl of comforting soup is just what you need. Here’s one of our favorites, tried and true. This hearty lentil soup is full of flavor, has great nutrition, and is vegan. Sure, you can add some chicken if you’d like. Whatever makes you happy.
Happy Wednesday. It’s a short week! For that let’s celebrate. Surely all the kids are back in school and this week is probably hectic for many. Here’s some good information and a quick recipe to get you through to Friday.
I’ve always believed that if more people got in the kitchen and cooked meals for themselves and their families, they would be healthier overall. An acquaintance once lamented that she felt like there were so many nutrition rules that it felt impossible to feed herself and her daughter “the right way”, so she gives up and resorts to takeout. I say that the nutrition and wellness community has failed her if that’s what she (and likely so many others) feel. The truth is, a jar of decent quality pasta sauce and a box of whole wheat noodles with a bagged salad on the side is vastly healthier than a drive-thru burger and fries. So, if that’s where you are starting, that’s ok. Trust me, you will progressively become more confident in your cooking and before you know it you will have a repertoire of healthy and delicious meals that don’t feel overwhelming to make on a weeknight. I loved Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl’s take on this in her article “The Cure Is in the Kitchen” in Experience Life’s recent issue. Take a look.
Speaking of making things easier in the kitchen, one approach that I’ve always practiced is to make extra for the freezer or fridge. When making soup, I often double the recipe and fill up Ziploc gallon bags with the excess. Lay them flat in the freezer for easy stacking. On busy nights just pull out a bag and reheat. Sides like roasted veggies are delicious warmed up or cold from the fridge all week long. In fact, I just bought another rimmed roasting sheet on Monday so I can easily make even more. After this hectic week of back-to-school and houseguest coming on Friday, I will also start using my weekends or Mondays to make a big batch of quinoa or other healthy salad that I can eat throughout the week for lunch.
And finally, here’s a simple and delicious looking recipe for your next Meatless Monday or whenever you want to load up on veggies. These Vegan Thai Curry Vegetables look fantastic for a cool fall day, and the gentle spice should be well tolerated by all in your house. I would serve them over brown rice and fruit on the side and call it a day. In fact, it’s what’s for dinner tonight.
That’s it for this week. I hope you enjoyed reading. As always, please pass it along, post it to your pages, and subscribe if you did! And I would love to hear what you think in the comments.
This week I bring you a delicious cookie recipe that happens to be vegan and wheat free (whaaaat?!) and some information that will hopefully enrich your life a little and maybe even make it better.
Do you eat granola? And if so, do you consider it a healthier option than other popular breakfast foods? Nutritionist have long known that most commercial granola is chock full of sugar and consider it a dessert. I suppose that rings true with many of the granolas you’ll find on the shelves. I have found one I love with only good ingredients like oats, dried fruit, millet and quinoa. Purely Elizabeth has an ancient grain line that I love, with my fave being cranberry pecan. It has 6 grams of sugar per 1/3 cup. Ok, yes, 1/3 cup is a very small serving. I pour that much into my bowl and add slivered almonds, fresh blueberries and chia seeds. So, then I’ve got good proteins and fat and it isn’t overwhelmingly sweet. You can also use it to sprinkle on unsweetened yogurt. The thing about granola is that it isn’t meant to be eaten in large quantities. Think of it as an addition to your breakfast rather than the main event.
As you might have read in previous posts, my 11 year old is in the middle of an elimination diet. She’s about halfway through. It’s been a challenge, to say the least. But she’s getting used to it. Yesterday she told me she thought giving up wheat and dairy would be the hardest but actually it’s corn and nightshades, because potato starch and/or corn derivatives are in most packaged foods. Most gluten-free products contain one or both. Almost all candy has corn syrup (yes, candy isn’t healthy, we know that). It’s hard to avoid corn, no matter how much you might try, unless everything you eat is prepared at home from scratch (hello, unrealistic for most).One thing that she has missed is a good chocolate chip cookie. Most chocolate chips have dairy, but I found a brand called Enjoy Life that are vegan and also free of almost all allergens. Yesterday she made a batch of spelt chocolate chip cookies that were to die for. I’m not kidding, they are so good. She found the recipe here: Chocolate Chip Cookies. The only thing I did to help was put the cookies in the oven and take them out at the end. Don’t these look amazing?
And finally, if you’re like me and try to make meals using up your pantry items a few times a year, here’s a great list of things you can cook. My husband gets super excited when I do this because it means I’m being economical and there’s nothing sexy than being economical!
Here’s to a great rest of your week. As always, please share this post with someone you think might enjoy it. Even better, click to subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss any great tidbits!
Today is day 10 of my daughter’s modified elimination diet. Tomorrow is the first day that we start adding foods back in. She gets to eat 5-6 servings of one of the food groups that we’ve been avoiding, followed by two days of “watch and wait”. She has chosen nightshades because she really misses tomatoes, peppers and potatoes.
I’ll be honest: neither one of us has seen or noticed any changes since starting the elimination protocol. Maybe when we introduce things back into her diet she’ll notice something. Hopefully there won’t be a big reaction which would indicate a sensitivity and a need to avoid.
The last 10 days have been trying for her. I get it. When you’re told you can’t have something it only makes you want it more, right? But she is still being a trooper and I commend her for it. There has been no whining, no tantrums, no pushback. She’s stoic (like her dad) and while she really has disliked this experience intensely, she’s persevered.
We just took a three day girls’ trip and I packed much of our food. Eating out was a challenge but we found some places willing to work with us. Two of the restaurants specialized in vegan and gluten-free which usually means that they are more open to special requests. And both happened to be featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, so that was cool. Shout outs go to At Sara’s Table Chester Creek Cafe and Duluth Grill!
Now on to the new recipe I promised. These Easy Peanut Butter Balls are full of protein, healthy fats, and healthy whole grains. They really couldn’t be easier to make and they are guaranteed to please just about anyone. Make a double batch and keep them in your fridge for an easy grab-and-go breakfast for busy mornings and after school snacks.
EASY PEANUT BUTTER BALLS
1 cup natural peanut butter (I really like the no-stir Whole Foods creamy)
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup vanilla protein powder (I couldn’t get by without Orgain, which happens to be vegan)
1/2 cup honey (use local if you have seasonal allergies, as it’s thought to help with symptoms)
Optional: chocolate chips
Stir all the ingredients together, then form into balls the size of a golf ball. If they are too sticky, add a bit more protein powder or oats. Likewise, if they are too dry, add a bit of honey or peanut butter. Keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
Will you try these? Do you have a variation you like? Tell me in the comments!