Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Cauliflower & Lentil Curry Stew

This weather! Early in April, it was snowing. Now it seems like it's raining every day. I know, "April showers" but what about April temperatures? None of this high of 49 business, I want the 60's! I guess the silver lining to this dreary weather is I can up my soup game. Last year, I made a lot of soups because of all the snow. This year was more about stews and slow cooker recipes.

This recipe comes from the Oh, She Glows cookbook. When I'm thinking about my meal prep for the week, I like to take a look through my cookbooks to see what's new and what I haven't tried before. Now that I've accepted that maybe cauliflower isn't the worst vegetable in the world, I'm open to giving it a go.

What's more is this also takes a second look at lentils. The lentil stew from a couple weeks ago was a hit with me, myself and I (what about you?) so was all in for trying red lentils. Fun fact: red lentils are actually orange and they don't really cook up to be red either. Huh.

Garlic and onion are sauteed in oil with spices to get things cookin'. Nice and fragrant. Next, we add the broth and lentils to start softening them up. Once the broth reaches a low boil, in goes the cauliflower and sweet potato. I had intended to add carrots but I forgot! The soup is left to simmer until the vegetables are nice and tender. I like to see how the cauliflower is dyed yellow from the curry powder.

Lastly, we add some greens. You can use kale or spinach, I went with spinach. Chop up a couple handfuls and stir into the stew. You can turn the burner off for this part, the hot soup will wilt the leaves all on its own.

Serve hot and curl up with dreams of summer dresses and picnics.

  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, chopped with stems removed
  • 1-2 handfuls of spinach, roughly chopped
  1. In a large saucepan, heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. Saute the onion and garlic until slightly translucent.
  2. Add the spices and cook until fragrant.
  3. Next, add the vegetable broth and lentils. Stir to incorporate the spices. Bring the mixture to a low boil.
  4. Once the soup is at a low boil, add the diced sweet potato and cauliflower. Return to a low boil, then reduce the heat and simmer (covered) for 20-25 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
  5. Lastly, add the chopped spinach. Stir into the soup and allow to wilt. It's okay if the burner is off for this part.
  6. Serve hot or save for reheat. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Cashew Chia Bites Two Ways

I've definitely fallen down the rabbit hole of obsession here. I wanted to try making my own snack bites or granola bars. My granola bar experiment of last year wasn't so great but I was willing to make another go of it. Key ingredient: Medjool dates. Note that this is very different from the dates you get in the little cardboard box in the dried fruit section. Not those dates, the ones that look like prunes.

I had never had a Medjool date before so was curious to try them. Lesson 1: they have a pit. Lesson 2: they are delicious. I snacked on too many of them and had to go back and buy more in order to make this recipe workable. Small sacrifices.

My go-to snack craving is all about the chocolate. My office has a lot of bad snack food around and candy at the reception desk so it's too tempting to just grab a handful of chocolate and call it a day. But there are so many variations of protein balls that I decided to try a non-chocolate one as well. Of course, that meant lemon.

Regardless of which one you want to try, all of the ingredients are blended in a food processor. I put everything in there at once but recommend processing the nuts first before adding your other ingredients. For the chocolate recipe, I used chocolate protein powder so needed to balance the dry ingredients with coconut oil to make everything stick together.

I was expecting the mixture to be scoopable but I still needed to roll the dough between my hands to keep everything compact (just like making cookies!). The last step is rolling in shredded coconut (again, like cookies!).

The second version had more cashews and lemon juice instead of protein powder so no additional oil was needed. Then they were also rolled in coconut but topped with lemon zest.

I can't decide which one I like better! And you would think it would be the chocolate one, right? Or the lemon one since this is Livin Lemon. Inconclusive.


Chocolate Chia

  • 12 Medjool dates, pitted (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/3 cup unsalted cashew pieces
  • 1/3 cup chocolate protein powder
  • 4 Tablespoons chia seeds
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil (more if the mixture is dry)
  • 3 Tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut, divided
  1. In a food processor, coarsely chop the cashews. Add the pitted dates, protein powder, chia seeds, 2 Tablespoons of shredded coconut. Pulse to combine.
  2. Add the coconut oil a little at a time. Mix in the food processor until the ingredients bind together. Add more coconut oil as needed until you can compress the ingredients together and they stay.
  3. Using a spoon or melon baller, scoop dough into your hands and roll into bite sized balls. Roll in remaining shredded coconut and place on a sheet of wax paper.
  4. You can freeze or refrigerate these until you're ready for a snack!

Lemon Coconut

  • 1 cup unsalted cashew pieces
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 8 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons chia seeds
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  1. In a food processor, pulse together the cashews, oats and coconut until they are combined and resemble a course meal.
  2. Add the dates, water, chia seeds and lemon juice. You can also zest some of the lemon into the food processor for more lemon flavor. Pulse to combine.
  3. In a small bowl, add some coconut flakes and lemon zest. This will be for rolling.
  4. Set up a tray with wax paper. Using a spoon or melon baller, scoop the dough out of the food processor and roll between your hands.
  5. Roll in the coconut and lemon zest before placing on the wax paper. Repeat until all of the dough is used.
  6. I kept these in individual containers in the fridge as a grab and go snack but you could also freeze them!
Each recipe makes about 10 snack bites

Friday, April 8, 2016

Protein Waffle for One

I love waffles. Growing up, my dad would make big Belgium waffles on Sundays, complete with Cool Whip, strawberries and a hefty side of bacon. Doused in syrup, it was a kid's dream. For my birthday this year, I decided I wanted a waffle for breakfast but felt guilty just thinking about the loaded version of my youth. So I did some research (aka: trolled Pinterest) and found a recipe for protein-packed waffles.

This waffle recipe was extremely easy which is good because trying to make complicated breakfast first thing in the morning is dangerous. It also had the perfect amount of batter for one full waffle without making a ragged edge or over-flowing the waffle iron.

A ripe banana, two eggs, almonds and protein powder are blended in a food processor. The end. That's all. Pour into your waffle iron (mix in blueberries or chocolate chips if desired) and cook to perfection.

I used chocolate protein powder because chocolate but you could pick your favorite!

  • 1 ripe banana
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup protein powder
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Handful of blueberries or chocolate chips, if desired
  1. Preheat your waffle iron according to its instructions. 
  2. In a food processor, blend the banana, eggs, protein powder, almonds and vanilla.
  3. Gently stir the fixins into your waffle batter.
  4. Lightly grease the waffle iron and pour batter into the center and allow to spread evenly.
  5. Cook until golden brown.
  6. Top with fresh fruit and maple syrup!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Avocado Deviled Eggs

Last year I discovered that deviled eggs are an extremely tasty snack. Even though I'm an adult person (most days), I still hard boil and dye Easter eggs every year. Just for me and just 'cause. This year was no exception and like last year, I decided to make them into deviled eggs.

However, I wanted to try something that wasn't mayo-based. I don't normally have mayo around and buying a jar of it just for this dish seemed silly. So I found that most alternatives involve yogurt instead or are a complete departure from the traditional filling.

Well, I'm a huge fan of avocado so avocado-stuffed eggs sounded like a great plan. Instead of mayo, use one avocado and mash it with the egg yolks. If I were to do this over, I would season with some onion powder too but initially, I just added lemon juice and the standard paprika.

As long as you aren't expecting traditional deviled eggs, you're in good shape. As with many other healthy substitutions, if you think you're going to be eating the exact same thing, you'll be disappointed. Suspend your disbelief!

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 6 hard boiled eggs
  • 1 lemon
  • Paprika 
  1. After hard boiling the eggs, gently peel off the shell and cut the egg in half. 
  2. Remove the yolks and place in a bowl to the side. Place the empty white portion of the egg on your platter.
  3. Pit the avocado and add the avocado to the bowl with the egg yolks. You can also add cilantro, garlic or onion for more of a guacamole flare. 
  4. Mix together the avocado, egg yolks and juice from the lemon. I found using a large fork was the best way to mash everything together.
  5. Spoon the avocado mixture into the egg whites.
  6. Sprinkle with paprika for garnish.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Lentil & Vegetable Soup

Remember that day a couple weeks ago when it was close to 80 degrees outside? People emerged from their offices, skirts without leggings were worn and the sun was shining. Wasn't that the beginning of spring? Apparently not because once again, it's chilly and windy and I just want to be outside without a jacket on.

So I guess that means it's still soup season too. This soup is another great recipe from The Perfect Portions Cookbook. I added some leftover Easter ham to this as well but it's delicious as-is.

I didn't think I liked lentils, probably from being force fed them as a kid along with brussel sprouts and cauliflower, but my taste buds have matured with age. Onions, garlic and carrots are sauteed to give them a head-start in the cooking process. The lentils are added along with the broth and diced tomatoes.

Everything is brought to a boil and then simmered until the lentils are nice and soft. The last step is adding some chopped spinach or kale for some extra greenery.

This soup is carrying me through the (hopefully) final days of chilly weather, warming my frosty heart as it pines for summer.

From The Perfect Portion Cookbook
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup green lentils
  • 1 15oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup chopped spinach or kale
  1. Saute the carrots, onion and garlic in a saucepan with a little olive oil (about a Tablespoon).
  2. Once the onions are soft and slightly translucent, add the lentils, tomatoes and broth.
  3. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  4. Cover and cook until the lentils are soft.
  5. Stir in the chopped spinach or kale.