Berry and Avocado Summer Salad with Barbecued Tofu

berry avocado salad

I have been making this salad everyday for a couple of weeks now. It has all the perfect components for a summer dinner. The seasonal ingredients, the sweet and savory flavors, the cold ingredients easily thrown together in the kitchen, the hot ingredients cooked outside on the grill to keep your house cool, the bright happy colors- It’s summer in a bowl! If you don’t think you like tofu, you might not have tried it barbecued. I wouldn’t even say that it particularly tastes like barbecue sauce or feels like tofu. The sugar in the sauce caramelizes to a savory taste and the tofu firms up for a satisfyingly chewier texture. I like it better than tofu prepared any other way. This is an easy salad to throw together when you are having people over for dinner because it’s quick and looks so pretty. It is also packed with protein and  many healthy nutrients!

Berry and Avocado Summer Salad with Barbecued Tofu

Serves 2

6 oz of organic super firm tofu

1/4 cup barbecue sauce of your choice, or try this recipe if you want to make it from scratch!

3 cups baby arugula

6 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

1 sprig of dill, finely chopped

2 green onions, finely chopped

1/3 red bell pepper, very finely chopped

5 strawberries, sliced

1/2 cup blueberries

1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and thinly sliced

1/3 cup raw walnuts

1/4 cup balsamic reduction (you can buy this at the store- usually labeled balsamic glaze- or make it by simmering balsamic vinegar over low heat until it thickens, about 15 minutes)

Optional: 1/4 cup olive oil (I found that the fat from the avocados and walnuts was enough fat for me but to each her own!)

 

If you have bought a block of tofu, slice off two 1/2″ thick slabs, and slather them in the barbecue sauce. Heat up the grill to medium high heat and grease it with a little oil. Once the grill is piping hot, lay the tofu slabs on there and grill for about 10 minutes per side, or until you get those nice dark grill marks.  If you don’t have a grill, you can put them in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, turning once halfway through. I even make these in my toaster oven to keep the heat in the kitchen to a minimum.

While the tofu is cooking, get a big serving plate and spread out the arugula. On top of the arugula, sprinkle the basil, dill, green onions, and bell pepper evenly. Then, layer the strawberries and blue berries evenly. Do the same for the avocado and walnuts. I like to make a nice pattern and space everything out in an even, radial design. But, if you are not crazy like me and just throw everything on there, it will still be just as pretty, haha.

Finally, drizzle with the balsamic reduction and serve with the barbecued tofu slab on top. If you want you can slice the tofu up, which is what I did after taking the picture.

Happy Summer!

 

berry avocado summer salad (1)

Zucchini Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce

spaghetti with marinara (1)

What is a life without pasta, am I right? It would be a sad thing indeed. And a bowl of pasta with a good marinara sauce is such a simple and happy food. The only downside? I personally gain five pounds when I so much as see the word pasta on a menu. Others of you I know have issues with gluten, or rightfully hate the cardboard taste of whole wheat pasta. Yes, it’s a cruel, cruel world we live in. So what is a person to do who dreams of eating pasta everyday while proudly squeezing into a tiny bikini? The answer is Zoodles. Zucchini noodles that is.

I was skeptical of zucchini noodles at first because I don’t particularly like the taste of cooked zucchini, (it tastes like fishy rotten garbage to me.) I also am not a huge fan of spaghetti squash, (soggy) and all those lovely pastas made with grain alternatives like quinoa and brown rice still have that high-carb weight gain effect on me as regular pasta. But then I got a spiralizer and discovered zucchini anew! This tool costs like $13 and works great on zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, etc to make beautiful angel hair-like tendrils. I mean, come on, here is one for $8, just get one. They are the most fun kitchen tool ever! (By the way, I have no affiliation to any brand, I just did a quick google search and found this one, buy any spiralizer you like!)

I have been making zoodles almost every single day for lunch and just tossing them in different kinds of sauces to change it up. (If you scroll to the bottom of this page, you will find a ‘Category’ drop down menu. Select the category of “Sauces, Dressings, and Marinades” and you will find 20 other sauce recipes!) Zucchinis are the perfect weight-loss food. They have a high water content and only 33 calories each, plus tons of vitamin C. Eating a big bowl of zucchini noodles is a great way to feel full and satisfied while burning fat. I am definitely seeing the difference on the scale.

There are two ways you can eat zoodles- raw or cooked. Because I live in the 100 degree weather of Los Angeles and I love raw food, I tend to just eat them raw. They have a little crunch and the high content of water makes me feel full. However, you can also heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and toss them with tongs till they are hot and softened. This is where they REALLY take on the roll of pasta as the texture transforms in the pan

The same thing goes for my marinara sauce. This sauce is geared toward those who strive to eat a largely raw food diet, because we all know how good for you raw veggies are! However, this sauce heats up beautifully and works great on pizza or in lasagna too.

Maybe you’re thinking to yourself, zucchini noodles and marinara? Sounds boring. So you want to take it to the next level? You really wanna go for that red, white, and green, monster bowl of Italian deliciousness?  Try adding some vegan alfredo and pesto sauce to  your marinara zoodles for an incredibly creamy and satisfying meal.

Zucchini Spaghetti with Marinara 

Makes 2 servings

6 medium zucchinis, peeled and spiralized

Marinara:

makes about 1.5 cups

6 roma tomatoes, with tough stem ends removed

1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, soaked in warm water for 15 minutes and then drained

6 cloves of garlic

1 tsp salt

1 sprig each of parsley, basil, and oregano

1 medjool date, pitted

After spiralizing the zucchinis, sprinkle a little salt on them and set them aside in a colander over a bowl or in the sink. They release a lot of water, which can dilute the sauce, so I like to let them drain for a bit, and right before serving a give them a little squeeze to release the moisture.

Combine all the marinara ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. So easy!

 

Ready to take it to the next level?

 

Vegan Alfredo Sauce

makes about 2 cups

1.5 cups raw cashews, soaked for a few hours in a bowl of water to soften. Rinsed and drained

1/2 tbs nutritional yeast

juice of 1 lemon

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 tbs olive oil

a pinch of nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until very, very smooth.  As you are going, you may need to add a splash of water here and there along the way to get to that perfect Alfredo consistency.

And finally, the pesto recipe can be found right here!

Enjoy!

Italian flag pasta

zucchini pasta

 

Creamy Mac n’ Cheese

mac n' cheez

Oh Kraft Mac n’ Cheese. The mystery of its Day-Glo orange color, the flood of nostalgia from its delicious orange powder, the squelching sound of the sauce filling the hollows of the noodles as you stir– it’s all disgustingly good. Except, of course, the fact that it’s basically processed poison. From the shit storm of chemicals and food dyes, to the controversial palm oil (goodbye orangutan habitats and rainforests), the outrageous amount of salt and fat, and of course, the dehydrated bodily fluids from mistreated animals. Way to kill my mac n’ cheese reverie Kraft! Jeez…

Oh well, there are other cruelty-free options out there on the shelves like those from Daiya or Earth Balance, but to be honest, they are gross. Fake cheese in general still has a long way to go. In my opinion the best thing you can do is not try to make ‘fake’ cheese sauce, but use real, whole ingredients to make a WHOLESOME cheesy sauce. Sure, it’s still aiming to be that flavor that you know and love, but it’s taking the whole food route, instead of the chemical one. The result is much more palatable and WAYYYYYY healthier. I think this recipe tastes way more like the mac n’cheese I grew up on than those store-bought fake cheese alternatives.

There was one sure-fire test that I knew this sauce had to pass before I could post this recipe. It had to pass muster with the only person I know who had consumed as much poundage of Kraft Mac n’Cheese growing up as I did myself– that is, my brother.

I’m proud to say that after tasting a spoonful of sauce I got an enthusiastic, “This is what I’m having for dinner, make me a bowl now!” In other words, two thumbs up. I have to humbly agree, it’s delicious. It doesn’t taste ‘fake’. Also, it just so happens to have 28 grams of protein in the whole recipe of sauce. That means that if you compare it to a serving size of Kraft’s, you get 10 grams of protein per serving compared to Kraft’s 7 grams. And let’s face it, you are going to eat 2 servings right!? The other great thing is that this recipe doesn’t use any fake butter or added oil, so it’s very low in fat! One more bonus, nutritional yeast is full of B vitamins, (what up B12) folic acid, and other lovelies. Throw in some quinoa pasta to the equation and you have yourself an actual, whole food, healthy and delicious dinner. It’s a mac n’ cheezy miracle.

Creamy Mac n’ Cheese

Makes 6 servings

3 cups of dry macaroni (or pasta shape of your choice)

1 small peeled sweet potato (hello orange color!) peeled and diced

1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped

1/2 cup of raw cashews (soaked in water for an hour, then rinsed and drained)

1/4 cup soy milk (or whatever non-dairy milk you like best)

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (found at any health food store or online, this ingredient is KEY)

1/4-1/2 cup reserved cooking liquid

1-2 tsp yellow mustard

1-2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1 pinch of paprika

1 pinch of cayenne

Garnish: a few tablespoons of minced chives

Optional Bread Crumb Topping:

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder

2 tbs olive oil (disclaimer: this partially negates those low-fat claims above)

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp black pepper

 

First off, cook pasta according to its package, which generally entails throwing it into a pot of boiling water for about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, fill another small pot with about 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add the chopped sweet potato and onion and boil until fork tender, mine took about 15 minutes. When done, drain them from the water, while making sure to catch about a cup of the cooking liquid.

In a blender, combine the sweet potatoes, onions, cashews, soy milk, the nutritional yeast, 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid, 1 tsp of mustard, and 1 tsp of salt. Add the garlic, paprika, and cayenne. Blend it until very smooth. Give it a little taste, you might want to add another teaspoon of mustard to make it tangier, and another 1/2 tsp of salt, depending on your own taste. You might want to add another 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. (I always liked a super thick sauce while my husband likes a thinner sauce, so it’s up to your own tastes!)

Get out a 9″x 13″ baking dish and pour in the cooked pasta. Pour the sauce over the pasta and toss them together until thoroughly combined. You can either consider yourself done here or go for the topping!

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine all the topping ingredients in a bowl and stir well. Sprinkle the topping over the mac n’ cheese and put in the oven. Keep a close eye and take out when the bread crumbs have turned a nice golden brown.

Sprinkle with minced chives and enjoy!

P.S. This cheese sauce can be used on more than just pasta, pour it over broccoli or throw in some minced jalapeños and red bell peppers, maybe even some vegan butter and chili powder and pour it over tortilla chips for some epic vegan nachos!!!!!

 

vegan mac n'cheese

 

 

Roasted Red Pepper Lentil Hummus

image

With the full wrath of summer upon us, I’m trying to eat as many cooling raw veggies as possible. But what to dip them in? Something light, healthy, and full of protein? Something delicious? I have just the ticket. I’m not too crazy for your run of the mill store bought hummus, it tends to be really high in calories for the tiniest bit, and made with things like canola oil. Even the better ones out there have some protein, but not a great amount. So I went about making this recipe that is light and delicious, with no added oil, and a lot more protein! Lentils are a great improvement on chickpeas in my opinion, more nutrient dense and less mealy. Lentils are also packed with folate- 1 cooked cup provides 90% of the required amount- and they are high in protein, potassium, fiber, and iron. So go ahead and cut up some carrots and broccoli, and feel free to snack to your heart’s content!

Roasted Red Pepper Lentil Hummus

Makes about 3 cups

1 cup dry red lentils
3 cups broth or water
1 small red bell pepper
1 small yellow bell pepper
2 red jalapeños
1/3 cup tahini
6 cloves garlic
Juice of 2 lemons
1 tsp salt
Garnish: Sriracha, a spoonful of pine nuts, and a pinch of paprika

Bring the lentils and water to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes or until soft. It’s ok to over cook them a bit since they will be blended anyway. I used about 1.5 cups of the cooked lentils for the hummus, so you might have a bit leftover.
Turn the broiler on in the oven and lay all the peppers on a foil lined pan. Broil the peppers until blackened on all sides, turning with tongs every few minutes to get all the sides. Once blackened, removed the peppers and place in a colander until cool enough to touch. Remove the blackened skins, stems and seeds. Add cooked lentils, peppers, and all remaining ingredients to a blender (except garnishes) and blend until smooth. Taste to see if you need to adjust the flavor. Top with a swirl of sriracha, pine nuts, and paprika, and serve with cut veggies and/or crackers.

image

The California Sandwich

the california sandwich (1)

Besides the perfect weather, striking landscapes, and culture of positivity and innovation, one of the best things about being a Californian is the food. Whenever I travel to another state I am reminded of how spoiled I am to live in this land of  plenty, and how much I depend on it. My husband and I are leaving on a 3 week road trip in a few days to travel the Pacific Northwest and beyond. We are going to drive up the coast of California, through Oregon to Portland, maybe even up into Washington, then through Idaho to Wyoming, visiting Yellowstone National Park, then Utah and down to Arizona and the Grand Canyon, and back through Nevada and home again. Then we will catch a flight to Kauai for another week. One whole month on the road with as many national parks and waterfalls as we can find! We will camp and back pack through the mainland, then do Airbnb rentals in Hawaii. It is going to be an amazing month! I can’t wait to see the beauty our country has to offer.
Having said that, I know that life on the road means lots of camping food like trail mix and canned beans. We are trying to do the whole trip on the cheap. So with a few days left before we depart, I wanted to treat myself to the bounty that Los Angeles and California has to offer, which is when I came up with the California Sandwich.

 

California cuisine is diverse and covers everything from barbecue to fine french fusion, but there are some common themes that have emerged over the last 20 years or so. Being one of the main sources of produce for the whole country, California cuisine is foremost fresh and vegetable-centric. The emphasis on local, seasonal fruits and vegetables harmonizes perfectly with our liberal-leaning, health-conscious demand for organic and sustainable food. We love to take casual foods like burgers, pizza, and sandwiches and turn them into gourmet delicacies that surprise and excite the senses. We love to ‘fancify’ the little details of a dish to make them cool and new. We also love to nail the presentation, we’re vain like that. And, our on-the-go culture is the perfect place for hand-held food to be eaten on the road, on a hike, and generally outside under the sun. This sandwich is my personal interpretation of all those things.
Starting with locally baked La Brea Bakery ciabatta and topped with seasonal California grown veggies, I notched it up with unusually gourmet details like the garlic-basil mayo, added local touches like a splash of Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, and of course the star of the show is the California Hass avocado. I just so happened to have some California State Golden Poppy toothpicks to top it off and I highly recommend eating this creation poolside and under the sun! I hope you’ll try it and get a taste of the golden state for yourself! Peace out dudes.

 

The California Sandwich

Makes 2 sandwiches

1/2 loaf ciabatta bread, sliced into 2 loafs, each with a top and bottom

2 tbs vegan mayo (I like Hampton Creek’s ‘Just Mayo’, a San Francisco based innovator!)

2 cloves of garlic, minced or put through a garlic press

2 big basil leaves, minced (I used some from my own garden)

1 tbs olive oil

2 shallots, finely sliced

a splash of white wine

a dash of salt

2 big leaves of romaine, finely shredded

1 hass avocado, very thinly sliced

1 big tomato, very thinly sliced

a drizzle of balsamic reduction (I got this already made in a squeeze bottle at the grocery store but you can easily make it yourself by heating up some balsamic vinegar over low heat on the stove until it becomes thick and sticky.)

More salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

Start by toasting the bread or even better, throw it on a hot outdoor grill for a few minutes until it’s toasty. Set aside.

Combine the mayo, garlic and basil in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a small pan over low heat and add the shallots. Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the splash of white wine to deglaze the pan and add the salt. Cook another 5 minutes or so, stirring to prevent burning. You want to cook them until nice and golden.

I split all the ingredients in half to make two sandwiches. (I ate both, that’s right!) When ready to assemble, start with the bottom half of the bread and slather with the mayo mixture. Sprinkle on the caramelized onions. Then, add the romaine lettuce. Top the lettuce with the avocado slices, then the tomato slices. Finally, finish with a drizzle of balsamic reduction and some final salt and pepper before topping with the other half of bread. You’ll notice we are alternating ‘sticky’ and ‘wet’ layers, so it all holds together better. To see a cool timelapse video of the sandwich assembly, check out my instagram post

And there it is! A taste of the golden state before your very eyes. I hope you like it as much as I do!

For similar recipes, check out my beloved bruschetta or BLT!

openface california sandwichcalifornia sandwich.JPG

 

 

 

Creamy Carrot Soup

creamy_carrot_soup
Upon telling my husband that I was going to make carrot soup, he said, “Oh, I just love carrot soup!” I thought that was a rather odd thing to love so enthusiastically but anytime I can get that guy to eat vegetables, I’m not going to question it. After having made this though, I can see what he was getting at!

My mom and I got carrot soup at a restaurant the other day that tasted like baby food– yuck. It was gloppy and flavorless. I had to make a good carrot soup to remind myself that carrot soup is indeed delicious! You can spice it up in lots of different ways too. But it’s also nice as just a simple soup with some crusty bread on the side. We made it a meal with a big batch of bruschetta. Enjoy!

Creamy Carrot Soup

Makes 6 servings

1 tbs olive oil

1 yellow onion, diced

1.5 lbs fresh raw carrots, chopped into 1/2″ chunks

1″ piece fresh raw ginger, minced (or 1/4 tsp dried)

1″ piece fresh raw turmeric, minced (or 1/4 tsp dried)

7 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups vegetable stock

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

a dash of paprika

a dash of curry powder

a dash of cayenne

1 tbs vegan butter (butter is optional, I put a lot more in husband’s and he loved it, but it’s still delicious without)

fresh minced chives for garnish

 

Heat the oil in a dutch oven or large sauce pan. Add the carrots and onion and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the ginger and turmeric and cook another minute. Then add the garlic and cook another minute.

Add the stock and remaining spices and stir. Cover the pan with a lid and let it simmer for 15 minutes or until the carrots are very tender.

Going in batches if necessary, add the soup to a blender with the butter and blend until very smooth. You can add a little more broth if it’s too thick.

My blender keeps the soup hot as it blends but if you need to, add it back to the pan to reheat. Taste to adjust seasoning

Serve with chives sprinkled on top and maybe another dash of salt and pepper!

creamy carrot soup

 

 

Toasted Walnut Banana Bread

banana bread

So, you know how it goes: grocery shopping on a Sunday, all the best intentions in the world… meal planning… fresh fruits and vegetables….dreams of juicing. Then a week and a half goes by and you’ve had takeout three times and, well, some sorely neglected produce is languishing in your fridge and on your counter.  There isn’t much you can do about wilted lettuce and bendy carrots but bananas… bananas have been waiting for this moment all week. In fact,  sometimes I buy bananas knowing full well that what I really want in my heart is BAKED GOODS. Thus is the journey of this lovely fruit from the best of raw fruit intentions to the inevitable destination of cozy, indulgent afternoon cakes.

This banana bread is very moist, I suggest serving each slice individually toasted with a dab of butter and an accompanying maple latte as shown. Remember, the next time you are in the produce aisle, there ain’t nothing wrong with smoothie dreams and banana bread mornings!

Toasted Walnut Banana Bread

Makes 1 loaf

1/4 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used cashew)

1/2 tsp vinegar

1/2 cup vegan butter (I used a brand called ‘Melt’, it’s coconut oil based)

1 cup brown sugar

3 very ripe bananas, mashed

2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract, I just like the paste for the real flecks of vanilla)

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup raw walnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Once heated, spread walnuts out on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 5 minutes. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the milk and vinegar, stir and set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.

Combine the mashed banana, sugar mixture, and milk mixture.

In a medium bowl, combine all the dry ingredients except walnuts and stir to combine. Don’t over-stir, just make sure the dry ingredients get wet.

Add the dry to the wet and stir to combine, then fold in the walnuts.

Line a 9″ loaf pan with either parchment paper or spray with an oil coating and a dusting of flour.

Pour batter into pan and bake for about 35-45 minutes. Test to see if a toothpick comes out mostly clean.

Let cool 5 minutes in the pan before turning it out. If using parchment as I did, you can lift it out, with that pretty and crusty top.

Don’t forget to toast each slice with some butter and enjoy with a cup off coffee or tea. I mixed 2 shots of espresso-sweetened with maple syrup- with half a cup of steamed cashew milk….heaven.

 

Mushroom Tacos with Blackened Corn, Avocado, and Sweet Pickled Cabbage

Mushroom Tacos

Happy Cinco de Mayo! I love this day because I love all things Mexican food, but especially TACOS. They are the perfect food. Hand-held little bundles of joy. Versatile, flavorful, a happy food. Tacos can mean something different to every person. Tacos are life!

Okay I’ll calm down now. So to me, the perfect taco has multiple levels of flavors and textures: savory, sweet, crunchy, soft, fresh, salty, tart, spicy, creamy, dreamy, surprising, nostalgic… damn I’m getting carried away again.

These tacos in particular are going for a uniquely fresh California cuisine flavor. The savory and spicy mushrooms pair well with the sweet pickled cabbage. I hope these brighten up your Cinco de Mayo, or maybe just your next Sunday dinner. Want to create a whole taco fiesta? Check out my other ‘Cinco’ celebration recipes: Butternut Squash and Black Bean Tacos, Jackfruit Tacos, Perfect GuacamoleMini Chimichangas, and Cowboy Caviar.

Mushroom Tacos with Grilled Corn, Avocado, and Sweet Pickled Cabbage

Serves 4 (8 tacos)

1/4 head purple cabbage, thinly shredded

a 5:1 mixture of vinegar to agave, enough to submerge shredded cabbage

2 ears of corn

3 tbs olive oil

6 oz or about 15 cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced

2 large shallots

1/4 tsp each of cumin, chipotle powder, paprika, and black pepper

10 cloves garlic, minced (I used a garlic press)

2 tbs balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup white wine

salt to taste

1 avocado, thinly sliced

8 small corn tortillas (the 4″ kind) you can double up if they feel delicate.

cilantro and lime wedges to garnish

 

First, combine the shredded cabbage and vinegar/agave mixture in a jar or bowl and set aside in the fridge, you will have extra left over for salads and sandwiches (so good.)

Then, tear the husks off the corn cobs and boil them in water for about 10 minutes. Once it is done and cooled, I like to hold it over my stovetop flame with tongs, to get some nice char on it. You can also do this with just raw corn instead of boiling it, it’ll be just a little less tender. Lastly, slice it off the cob and set aside.

Heat the oil in a pan and add the mushrooms and onion, cook stirring about 5 minutes. Next add the spices and cook another minute, then the balsamic, cooking another 2 minutes. Add the white wine to deglaze the pan, scraping as you stir with a spatula, then the salt. Taste to adjust seasoning. Turn off the flame.

Lay each tortilla over a burner on your stove set to low, just about 10 seconds per side to heat them up.

Add a scoop of the mushroom mixture, a slice of avocado, a scoop of blackened corn, and a few strips of pickled cabbage to each tortilla. Garnish with fresh cilantro and lime wedges.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mexican Red Lentil Stew

mexican red lentil stew

Hello food lovers! I am really proud to share this one with you guys. It’s pretty much the best stew I’ve ever made. It tastes like tortilla soup- hearty and filling, but without the empty calories from the tortillas. The texture of the lentils really mimics that of the tortillas, but let’s be real, I added some tortilla chips on top after taking this picture.:)

In addition to being totally delicious, this stew is also very filling, totally healthy, and costs about $1.50 per bowl. You get approximately 30 grams of protein per bowl, tons of fiber, and a big dose of folic acid and magnesium. The perfect blood sugar-stabilizing meal to keep you from late night snacking. You can omit the olive oil and cook the veggies in a little bit of the broth to make it fat free if desired. If you are on a budget or too busy to cook dinner every night, this is the perfect week night meal, and it tastes better every passing day.

Let me know what you think of it!

Mexican Red Lentil Stew

Makes about 6 big servings

2 cups dry red lentils, rinsed

4 cups of water

1 tbs olive oil

1 small yellow onion, chopped

1 small jalapeño, seeded and minced

1 big carrot, diced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp paprika

8 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups vegetable broth

2 tbs tomato paste

1 cup fresh (or frozen) corn kernels

3 sprigs fresh cilantro, chopped, plus extra for garnish

sliced avocado for garnish

1 lime cut into wedges

sriracha for garnish (optional)

Combine the lentils and water in a pot, cover with a lid, and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce the heat to low and let them cook for 20 minutes. Once done, pour off any excess liquid.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a deep frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion, jalapeño, carrots, and bell pepper and cook for 8 minutes or so, stirring often. If at any point the mixture gets too dry and sticks to the pan, add a splash of broth. Stir in the spices and cook an additional minute, then the garlic and stir for an additional minute.

Next, add the 3 cups of broth, cooked lentils, and tomato paste into the vegetable mixture and let it cook until the carrots are tender, stirring often for a few more minutes. Then add the cup of corn and stir it in until heated through. At this point I stuck an immersion blender into the pot and gave it a few pulses to thicken things up. If you don’t have an immersion blender, scoop out one cup of the mixture and put it in the blender for 5 sec, then add it back to the stew. This step can also be skipped altogether to save time and clean up.

Finally stir in the chopped cilantro and taste to adjust seasoning.

You could add all the lime juice into the pot of stew, but I think it was nicer to squeeze it over the top and get some layers of flavors to your bowl.

Serve each bowl with some sliced avocado, fresh cilantro, lime wedges, and sriracha, if you can take the extra heat!

Enjoy!

 

 

Spicy Basil Mango Dressing

IMG_4271Happy Earth Day! This seemed like a good day to end my 6 month blog hiatus. I had been working very long hours on a TV show that took all of my time and creative energy, and now that the season has ended, I am finding so much joy in coming back to my happy place- the kitchen! Now I can resume experimenting with and sharing all the yummy food with you guys that I can. Today I even planted an herb garden in my kitchen window box, so I am ready to jump back in.

I’ve seen a lot of mango dressings floating around Instagram and could never really imagine if it would be good or not, I always thought it sounded too sweet or odd on a salad. Yet now I can say that this is my new all time favorite dressing. Better than my beloved pesto or curry sauce even. The flavor is HUGE, bringing your salad to life with sweet, spicy, garlicky goodness. Not only is it delicious but this dressing is like a magic health elixir- with all raw ingredients, turmeric, lemon, garlic, the digestive enzymes of the mango- it’s incredibly good for your body! I poured this mango dressing over a big rainbow salad of arugula, diced tomatoes, shredded carrot, diced yellow bell pepper, micro-greens, and avocado with crushed almonds. Amazing!

Spicy Basil Mango Dressing

Makes about 4 servings

1 whole peeled and seeded mango, cut into chunks

4 tbs tahini

juice from 1/2 lemon

1 tb minced jalapeno

6 big basil leaves

1 tb fresh raw ginger

1 tb fresh raw turmeric

1 tb fresh raw garlic (about 2 cloves)

3 tbs of balsamic vinegar

pinch of salt

Throw everything in a blender and process until smooth! You don’t really need to pre-chop anything, just peel and break off knobs of the turmeric and ginger and toss them right in. Keeps in the fridge for about 5 days.

IMG_4305