Category Archives: Vegetarian

Cheesy Portobello, Quinoa, and Kale Bowl

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Has it been too long since my last recipe for an actual meal? Yes. Is the title of this post too long? Absolutely. One of my goals for this long weekend was to post a recipe on here. With 3 days off, I knew I didn’t have an excuse not to.

I’ve been really into salads and grain bowls recently. I’ve been trying to incorporate more salads into my diet and have been hoarding kale lately (does anyone else wish it took up less space in your fridge?) If I’m looking for something heartier I’ll add some grains to the mix – either brown rice, quinoa, or couscous. For a long time I didn’t really like quinoa and thought it tasted like bird seed but finally my taste buds have evolved and it’s become part of my weekly menu.

Sticking to a healthy and basic diet can definitely become bland after a while. I’ve found that I can eat well for a couple weeks and then I start to feel like I’m depriving myself and fall back into eating whatever. After a few years of blogging, browsing other food blogs, and some recent trips to local vegan/vegetarian/organic restaurants, I feel like I’m finally discovering what food I really enjoy and what makes me feel good – and most importantly, what I can maintain in my diet and not get sick of.

This particular recipe was inspired by Portobella Protein Bowl on BeLeaf in Choice. The owner of the blog, Krysta, is a fellow healthy living blogger and also a classmate from high school. I often include mushrooms into my recipes but have never made them the main ingredient. I changed up the original recipe a bit, using sautéed kale instead of spinach and forgoing the other veggies. I also added some cheese for extra flavor and protein.

This bowl is simple, quick, and satisfying. It was so tasy I didn’t find myself missing the meat at all like I sometimes do with vegetarian meals. I hope you like it!

Cheesy Portobello, Quinoa, and Kale Bowl
adapted from Portobella Protein Bowl on BeLeaf in Choice

IMG_5795Ingredients:
Makes 2 bowls

  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed*
  • 1 cup chicken or veggie stock (water will do, too)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil + more for drizzling
  • 2 portobello mushroom caps, sliced into 1-cm strips
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced and divided in half
  • A few sprigs of rinsed kale, chopped or torn into small pieces (about 3 cups chopped)
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • Optional: diced avocado, Sriracha

*Rinsing the quinoa isn’t imperative, but I find that cooking quinoa straight from the bag leaves it with an earthy flavor I’m not fond of

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Your ingredients

Directions:

  1. Bring your stock or water to a boil and add quinoa. Cook according to box directions (it will take about 20 mins).
  2. While quinoa is cooking, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and add sliced mushrooms. Drizzle a little more oil on top. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they become tender and caramelized. Add half of minced garlic and cook for another 2 – 3 minutes. Remove from pan.
  3. Add chopped kale to pan that was used for mushrooms, along with remaining garlic, and cover. Cook over low heat and let leftover mushroom juices help steam the kale. Stir occasionally. The kale should be tender after about 5 minutes.
  4. When quinoa is done cooking, stir in parmesan cheese and let melt. Serve along with kale, mushrooms, and an additional sprinkle of cheese if desired. Top off with optional diced avocado and Sriracha and enjoy!
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While your quinoa is cooking, frizzle up your shrooms

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Steam your kale

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Add the cheese to your cheesy quinoa

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Prepare your bowl – quinoa, then kale, then mushrooms

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And top off with more cheese!

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I added avocado and Sriracha to mine, because why not?

Spicy Red Lentil Dip (Hummus)

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Spring weather has FINALLY arrived in Massachusetts and it is glorious. This winter was the longest, coldest, snowiest winter I can remember and it was starting to feel like spring would never come. Yesterday was a nice 65 degrees and I spent the day with Mirva, Naomi, Emily and Brian enjoying the weather and playing cornhole.

This Spicy Red Lentil Dip was inspired by a delicious hummus I picked up recently – Eat Well Embrace Life Spicy Yellow Lentil Hummus. It was so tasty but a little bit pricey so I decided to whip up my own. I love lentils and of course hummus, and find that sometimes dips made with beans other than chickpeas are just as good (if not better) than the traditional stuff.


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I couldn’t find yellow lentils (I’ve actually never seen them before, though I did consider buying yellow split peas instead), so I picked up some red lentils. Red lentils have a mild, nutty flavor and are not quite as earthy-tasting as brown or green lentils. I threw in all the ingredients you would put in hummus – tahini, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt – but I read recently that hummus literally translates to “chickpeas” in Arabic, which is why I’m calling this a dip instead of hummus (even though it’s the same concept).

In addition to the base of the recipe, I added a red fresno pepper, cayenne pepper, hot sauce, and smoked paprika to spice up this dip and bring it to life. I love how the lentils blend up super smooth and make a perfect texture for the dip. I love lentils not only because they’re tasty, but they’re also loaded with protein – 1/4 cup of dry split red lentils has 13g! Perfect for vegetarians/vegans, or for those looking for a filling snack.

Spicy Red Lentil Dip
makes ~2 cups


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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dry split red lentils, rinsed
  • 2 – 4 Tbsp Tahini (sesame seed paste – I love Trader Joe’s Tahini Sauce)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil (more if needed)
  • juice from half of one large lemon (about 2 Tbsp)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeño or red fresno pepper (use half for less heat)
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp mild hot sauce
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • sprinkle of cayenne pepper powder
  • salt, to taste
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Your ingredients, plus the spicy pepper

Directions:

  1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and cook red lentils according to package directions. They typically take about 15 minutes to cook. They may start to break down and become mushy or all of the water may not evaporate/be absorbed – this is okay and will make blending easier.
  2. While you’re letting your lentils cool, combine your tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and hot pepper in a food processor and pulse until smooth.
  3. Add in your lentils, hot sauce, paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt and continue blending, stopping to scrape down the sides when necessary, until well-combined and smooth. Taste and adjust any spices/salt to your liking. Serve with pita chips, carrot sticks, or on a sandwich and enjoy!
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Cook your lentils according to package directions. When they’re finished, they’ll look something like this.

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In your food processor, combine the tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and hot pepper. Pulse until smooth.

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Add the cooked lentils to your food processor and pulse until smooth.

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And there you have delicious & nutritious, creamy, Spicy Red Lentil Dip! 🙂

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Roasted Beet & Chickpea Veggie Burgers

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Last year I made veggie burgers for the first time, and while I enjoyed the flavors of the chickpeas, lentils, and curry, I found that they were a bit dry and just didn’t have the burger consistency I was looking for.

Fast forward to this year, when I stumble upon a recipe that claims to be the “best-ever” veggie burgers and I’m instantly intrigued as soon as I hear the ingredients list: Roasted beets, beans, brown rice, caramelized onions (!!), and oats. I’ve come to love beets over the past year or so, and caramelized onions are one of my favorite foods of all time. So I decided to put these veggie burgers to the test and I was not disappointed!

To be honest, I’ve only tried a few other veggie burgers to compare these to, but I still think this recipe is a winner. The roasted beets keep the burgers moist and sweet, the onions bring a nice savory flavor, and then there’s mustard and even diced prunes (don’t let them scare you!) for tanginess. The burgers use ground oats rather than bread crumbs, and just one egg to keep them together. I used a combination of chickpeas and cannellini beans rather than black beans because I prefer the flavor, but any type of bean will work. The original recipe also says it makes only 6 burgers, but I was able to make about 9 or 10 good-sized burgers.

These burgers do take a bit of prep work, and the “meat” needs to be chilled, but I think if you cook the beets and brown rice ahead of time, you’ll be able to whip these burgers up in no time. I really enjoyed these veggie burgers and I’m excited to share them with all my veggie and meat-eating friends alike out there!

Roasted Beet & Chickpea Veggie Burgers
slightly adapted from Best-Ever Veggie Burger on The Kitchn

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Ingredients:
makes 9 – 10 burgers

  • 1 lb. fresh beets (about 3 large ones)
  • 1/2 cup uncooked brown rice
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 – 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 2 15 oz. cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained (or cannellini beans)
  • 1/4 cup prunes, chopped
  • 2 – 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Spices:
    • 1 tsp cumin
    • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
    • 1/2 tsp chili powder, or cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper for extra heat
    • 1/2 tsp dried basil
    • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 large egg, whisked
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Your ingredients (ignore that pesky jalapeno…)

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And your spices

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Prepare your beets by washing them and removing skin with a vegetable peeler. Chop them into large chunks and toss them with about 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Place in a small baking dish and roast for 25 – 30 minutes, stirring about every 10 minutes, until they are nice and caramelized and can be easily pierced with a fork. Set aside to let cool.
  2. While your beets are roasting, cook your brown rice according to box directions and also begin caramelizing your onions. Heat diced onions over medium heat with 1 Tbsp of olive oil and a pinch of salt, stirring every few minutes, until they are golden-brown. Add minced garlic in the last 2 – 3 minutes and remove from heat.
  3. Pulse your oats in a food processor until they resemble a fine powder and set aside.
  4. Combine beans, prunes, scallions, olive oil, mustard, and lemon juice in food processor and pulse until roughly chopped, but not to the point of being puréed. (If you have a small food processor, you may have to do this in batches.) Remove from food processor and place in a large mixing bowl.
  5. Once your beets are cooled, grind them up in your food processor until shredded. Place in mixing bowl with beans, and then add in your caramelized onions, rice, spices, ground oats, and egg. Stir until well combined, and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  6. After the burgers are chilled, form into patties about 3 inches wide. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan, and cook the burgers for 3 – 5 minutes on each side. I found that covering them for half of the cook time helped to get the inside of the burgers cooked faster and more thoroughly.*
  7. Once burgers are finished cooking, serve on a bun with your favorite toppings, or atop a salad and enjoy! I loved them topped off with Trader Joe’s Goddess Dressing, spinach, and arugula.

*For an extra crispy crust, sprinkle Panko breadcrumbs on the burgers before cooking!

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Begin by peeling, chopping, and roasting your beets. Don’t the peeled beets have a cool design on them?

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While the beets are roasting, cook your rice to box directions and caramelize your onions. When they’re done they’ll look something like this.

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Combine your rinsed and drained beans, prunes, scallions, mustard, olive oil, and lemon juice in a food processor. Pulse until roughly chopped.

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Pulse your beets separately until finely shredded.

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Combine your shredded beets with the bean mixture and rice, along with your spices. Stir in oat flour and eggs until well combined.

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Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. (Notice how it resembles ground beef?)

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Once mixture is chilled, form into patties and frizzle up in your frying pan with olive oil and optional breadcrumbs.

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Enjoy burgers with your favorite toppings! Here I have mine on a Sandwich Thin with Goddess dressing, red onion, and spinach. Bon appétit!

Sweet Potato Hash

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This morning I was looking around my kitchen, trying to figure out what I could make to put on my blog. The sun was out, and I hadn’t posted a recipe in a few weeks. Back when I was posting recipes on here every few days, I would always have something planned. Lately when I post a recipe, I don’t really have a plan and I kind of just throw something together. I miss having lots of time to plan recipes, go grocery shopping and then cook and photograph the food. But I certainly do not miss not having a job, so I will squeeze in food blogging whenever I can.

Anyway, I stumbled upon some sweet potatoes that needed to be eaten, and also happened to have some fresh bell peppers. I’ve made regular potato hash, but not sweet potato hash before and my stomach was rumbling for some breakfast. Growing up, on the weekends my parents would sometimes frizzle up corned beef hash that comes from a can and I won’t lie – I still love the stuff. It’s chewy, crispy, and full of flavor. In light of attempting to eat better, I healthified (new word) my hash by omitting meat, subbing regular potatoes for sweet potatoes, and adding some fresh veggies.

This Sweet Potato Hash makes a delicious addition to a weekend breakfast, and I think it would also heat up well for leftovers. It’s sweet, spicy, and filling. I found it to go great with a fried egg and a light sprinkle of cheddar cheese. I do think this hash would be really good with bits of bacon, but it’s also delicious without! I cooked my sweet potatoes in a separate pan from my veggies because I wanted to make sure everything cooked evenly, but they could also be par-boiled. I just recommend being careful of overcooking your sweet potatoes, because then they will fall apart.

Sweet Potato Hash
makes 3 – 4 servings

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil, divided in half
  • 1/2 Tbsp butter (optional)
  • 1 medium sweet potato, diced into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 small sweet onion
  • 2/3 cup diced bell peppers (I used red and yellow)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • seasoning to taste: paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper, and a garlic/salt/pepper blend
  • green onions to garnish

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Your ingredients

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Your spices

Directions:

  1. In a medium frying pan, heat 1/2 Tbsp olive oil or butter over medium heat and add diced potatoes. Cover with about 1/4 cup water and let cook for 8 – 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until water has absorbed and potatoes are softened but not yet mushy.
  2. In a separate frying pan, heat another 1/2 olive oil and add diced onion. Cook for about 10 minutes, and then add bell peppers. Continue to saute for another 10 – 15 minutes, until veggies are softened and beginning to brown. At this point I added a bit of butter to really ramp up the flavor, but that’s optional.
  3. Add cooked sweet potatoes to veggies, along with your spices. Cook for another 3 – 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, and make sure the spices are to your liking. Garnish with green onions and serve with eggs or a meat of your choice, and enjoy!

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Cook up your sweet potatoes until softened

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Saute your onions and peppers until soft and beginning to brown. Add garlic at the end.

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Mix your sweet potatoes in, along with spices. Cook for an additional few minutes. Garnish with green onions and serve! 🙂

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Avocado Greek Yogurt Dip

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Hello everyone! I apologize for my absence over the past two weeks. August 12th, as I mentioned, was the first day of my new job and needless to say I have been pretty busy and tired.

I’m still in training and learning the ropes, but I like my job so far. The people on my team and in the clinic have been very friendly and helpful, and I feel like I’ve already learned so much (but still have A LOT to learn). I really enjoy working in the hospital – each day is fairly busy and I’ve seen a lot of interesting things and people so far. Working in such an established hospital is a great way to get exposure to things you normally wouldn’t, such as rare diseases and conditions and witnessing groundbreaking treatment. Each day I get off the Longwood T stop, I feel proud that I made it this far and that I’m now an employee of one of the best children’s hospitals in the world, however small my role may be.

Adjusting to my new schedule wasn’t quite as challenging as I thought it would be. As long as I get enough sleep, I feel pretty good throughout the day (though coffee is typically involved) and I haven’t needed any naps so far like I thought I would. It’s a little hard only having a few hours of free time when I get home in the evening, but I think once I figure out how to make the most of that time, it will become easier. Even though I don’t feel the need for naps on work days, I am just tired enough that I’ve been too lazy to cook and put together a decent meal. That’s something I’ll definitely need to work on because my diet has been suffering a bit and it’s not very economical for me to buy lunch multiple times a week. But I do walk about a mile each work day (half a mile from the t to the hospital and back), so that’s a plus.

Anywho, food. I’ve missed food and cooking and blogging and generally being a foodie. I almost started to forget that cooking relaxes and distracts me when I have a lot going on. For now, I think I may only be able to blog on the weekends but perhaps as time goes on I’ll figure out how to update during the week, as well.

This Avocado Greek Yogurt Dip is inspired by Trader Joe’s Reduced Guilt Chunky Guacamole. TJ’s Reduced Guilt Guacamole is mixed with fat-free Greek yogurt, which cuts out about half of the fat. At first I was unsure how my beloved guacamole would taste mixed with Greek yogurt, but I found that I actually loved it. The yogurt adds a nice tangy creaminess to the dip and complements the flavors surprisingly well.

The base of the recipe is actually identical to my guacamole, but with the addition of the yogurt. I chose to call it Avocado Greek Yogurt Dip mostly because I liked the way it sounded and I already have two guacamole recipes on this blog.

Avocado Greek Yogurt Dip
makes about 1 cup

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Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe avocado, mashed
  • 1/4 cup diced tomato
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp diced red onion or shallot
  • 2 green onions, diced
  • 1/2 jalapeño, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small handful of cilantro, chopped
  • juice from 1/2 of 1 lime (about 1 Tbsp)
  • pinch of cumin
  • salt, to taste
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
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Ingredients (don’t mind the unattractive appearance of my avocado…)

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix thoroughly. Serve with chips, crackers, or veggie sticks and enjoy! Store in the refrigerator in an air-tight container and cover with plastic wrap to save for later.

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Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix it up

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and voila! Creamy, tangy, low-fat guacamole 🙂