Open faced pesto omelet with kale and cherry tomatoes

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Not all mornings are created equal. And yet, it’s the way we handle them that can set the tone for the rest of the day. For me, the majority of my days start the same; I wake up at 5am, go to crossfit from 6-7am, shower and head to a long day of work followed by grad-school or yoga. I’m running a tight ship in the mornings, so I have to be pretty planful on what I’m bringing with me to eat, to make sure that I can get something healthy and nutritious to start my day. Planning, time-constraints, constantly on the go, these are the areas that I’m good at. This post is not about that.
My schedule switches around from time to time with work, and today was one of those days. I had the morning off and decided to try and slow my life down (something I’m terrible at) and sleep in, go to a later crossfit class and just enjoy the morning before I had to go into work for noon.
I went to crossfit and had a tough class. I felt awful leaving, and, because I had nothing planned, free reign, I went down the street to the local orchard with one thing on my mind…comfort food. I walk in there prepared to buy the whole display of freshly baked pies and cider donuts. Instead, I walk out with a grapefruit and a gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free pumpkin cupcake. I look at the cupcake, which I’m sure sounds like the most ridiculous type of treat to a lot of people, and I actually don’t even want it anymore.
My life, constantly on the go, has left little time for patience with myself. It feels like a whirl-wind where the tiniest slip up can send everything crashing to the ground. When, in actuality, that isn’t the case. Talking to a good friend pulled me back into reality; she grounded me again. Some days just aren’t good, and those are the days which it’s hardest to keep all the good things in perspective. It’s hard to hold it together all the time. And well, that okay. You just keep working hard, because the alternative is to stop and that’s just silly.
So I came home, put my cupcake in the fridge (I will still eat it, just at a time I can actually enjoy it) and decided to make myself a delicious breakfast. I knew cooking would make me feel better, and eating a hearty, nutritious breakfast would reset my off morning and set me up for a much better day.

Open faced pesto omelet with kale and cherry tomatoes
¾ cup organic cage-free egg whites (about 6 egg whites)
1 cup organic kale, washed and roughly chopped
About 6 organic grape tomatoes, quartered
1 tsp organic basil pesto (it’s easy to make your own, but I keep a jar on hand just to add a quick little bit to the occasional recipe, but if you have time to make your own, by all means!!)
Organic extra virgin coconut oil (I use the spray when cooking eggs, but you can use a little of the regular stuff, or even olive oil or your favorite other cooking spray)

Directions:
Heat a medium sized skillet on low to medium, spray with coconut oil
Sauté quartered tomatoes for a minute or two and add the kale. Continue to cook until kale is wilted.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl add 1 tsp of basil pesto to egg whites and whisk together.
Turn your pan down to low, give it a minute to come down in temperature, and then pour the egg white mixture over the kale and tomato mixture.
Cover the skillet (I just use my largest pot’s lid since my skillet doesn’t come with a cover, 🙂 Improvise!)
Let cook about 5 minutes or until the top of the egg is set. (Be patient, and don’t turn up the heat to make it cook faster because the bottom will burn! By covering it, the steam will help cook the top and you won’t have to flip it!)
And that’s it, just slide it out onto your plate and enjoy 🙂

Chilled ginger-citrus carrot and beet soup

Soup in the summertime seems like a ridiculous idea.  It’s already hot out; you don’t need your dinner to warm you up even more.  A chilled soup on the other hand, can end up being exactly what you might be looking for.  Last summer I had my first experience with chilled soups one Saturday afternoon while perusing the farmers market.  A woman was giving samples of her homemade cold soups, and after trying one I promptly bought 3 containers, it was that good.  The best one that I had was by far her chilled beet soup.  Beets are one of my favorite vegetables, I eat them hot AND cold so it makes perfect sense that a chilled beet soup would be a home run.  I wanted to see if I could do it.

Luckily, I got beets in my CSA this week! How convenient.  What makes this even better is that I have also been getting the most delicious Napoli carrots for the past few weeks too.  They are just the right amount of sweet with a clean crisp finish to them.   I can almost eat the whole pound raw in one sitting.  Good thing I refrained this week, because into my soup they will go!

organic beets

As with almost everything I make, I pretty much made it up as I went along.  I immediately knew the flavor profile that I wanted.  A bright note of citrus and a zip of ginger would definitely compliment the sweet carrots and earthy beets.  I thought back to my basic soup making knowledge and went at it.

Ingredients:

4 medium sized beets – cut into small chunks (the smaller the pieces the faster it cooks!)

About ½ pound of carrots (I just couldn’t part with them all!) – also cut into small chunks

About 4 ½ cups of organic vegetable stock – low sodium

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 spring onion bulb, diced – I also received these in my CSA, they have a light, sweet, onion flavor that I knew wouldn’t be too overpowering.  If you can’t find them, try using a shallot.

1 TBS olive oil

Juice of ½ lemon

Juice of ½ orange

1 TBS grated ginger – As I’ve noted in other recipes, a good tip is to keep your ginger in the freezer.  It stays fresh longer and you don’t have to worry about peeling it, you just use a microplane and grate what you need!

 

Making this was pretty simple, here’s what I did:

  • Sautee the garlic and onion in the olive oil (you want to cook out the raw flavor)
  • Add the stock and bring to a boil
  • Add the beets and carrots and cook until they are fork tender
  • Add the lemon juice, orange juice, and the grated ginger to the pot, stir, and take it off of the heat. *The last thing you want to be doing is adding a hot liquid to your blender, so make sure you let it cool down!!*
  • Once it’s cool, pour it all into the blender and blend!
  • Chill in the fridge for about an hour and EAT!!

chilled ginger citrus carrot beet soup in blender

 

I garnished mine with some pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and it tasted great!!

chilled ginger citrus carrot and beet soup

You can definitely eat this soup hot too, so keep it in mind during the fall and winter months.  Just reheat it on the stove after you blend it and enjoy.

Spicy white bean, sweet potato and kale soup

“Well the weather outside is frightful”….ok ok I won’t start singing winter wonderland songs but it’s really quite true lately.  It’s been chilly and rainy for days with the exception of one nice day…where is the nice weather?!! So I decided to give in and cook myself something warm and comforting to cozy up on my couch with and embrace this crappy weather….and what’s better than soup?!! I wasn’t planning on posting this recipe on the blog, because for me, soup is EXTRA hard to pay attention to what I’m putting in it.  It gets a little of this and a little of that, and oh, no wait, a little more of that…soup is about tasting as you go and tweaking it to perfection by building the flavors.  But this was so simply delicious, I will do my best to explain it all 😉 and please, tweak as you go too! Start with little dashes and add more if you like the way it’s going, it’s a great way to introduce new flavors to your palate.

Spicy white bean, sweet potato, and kale soup

The basic ingredients:

2 TBS EVOO

½ white onion, diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 can of organic cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

About 2 cups of organic kale

1 medium sweet potato, diced into small cubes (I like to leave the skins on)

Organic vegetable broth, low sodium (I used about 3/4 of a quart container)

Seasonings:

Salt and pepper

Cardamom

Cinnamon

Ground cayenne red pepper

 

Instructions:

  • Heat the oil in a large pot over medium and cook the onion until translucent
  • Add the garlic and cook another minute, then add the kale and sautee until wilted
  • Add the beans and sweet potato and stir to combine
  • Pour the vegetable broth over everything until you have a little more broth than you would want if you want it soupy, or a little less if you want it thicker.  The broth will cook down and thicken up some so keep that in mind.
  •  Now I add my seasonings.  Like I said, dash and taste and figure out what works for you.  With the cayenne I started out with just a little bit and built it up to make sure it wasn’t too hot.  The cardamom and cinnamon, I did a couple dashes of each since I love those flavors together, especially with sweet potatoes! And as always, season with salt and pepper.
  • Bring up to a boil, cover and cook until the sweet potatoes are tender.
  • Once the sweet potatoes are fork tender, check your seasonings again.  You want a balance between the sweetness of the potatoes and cinnamon and the heat from the cayenne.  Adjust as needed and ENJOY!!

Baked Squash Stack with White Beans and Stewed Tomatoes

A little while back I had the pleasure of ‘talking food’ with one of my sister’s closest friends Emily and her husband Andy.  It’s not every day that I meet people who get excited about vegetables like I do, (and I completely plan to steal from their garden this summer 😉 haha).  But tonight’s recipe was inspired by them.  While we were swapping food favorites and looking through old pictures of dinners (because I’ve been taking pictures of my food long before I ever had a blog… I’m weird I know) Andy came across one that he immediately wanted the recipe for.  If you know me, or have read my blog before, then you are well aware that I am not good at recipe writing.  I also rarely make the same thing twice, partly for that reason.  However, I can always decipher what ingredients I had used in something and frankly, it’s more fun sometimes to use the same flavor profile but find new ways to re-invent it!!  This is a twist on the dinner that they saw and it came out delicious!!

Baked squash stack with white beans and stewed tomatoes

Baked Squash Stack with White Beans and Stewed Tomatoes

Ingredients:

2 medium yellow squash

1 medium zucchini (you can swap these two depending on which one you want more of; I just happened to have these quantities so I went with it!)

1 can organic cannellini beans (no salt)

1 can organic stewed tomatoes with Italian herbs

1 TBS extra virgin olive oil

Garlic powder

Italian seasoning

Directions:

  • Drain and rinse the cannellini beans and transfer them to a small bowl.  Using a fork, mash the beans into a chunky paste.
  • Also, drain the stewed tomatoes and put them in a separate bowl.  (squash give off a lot of liquid when they cook so you won’t need the extra from the tomatoes)
  • Slice your squash and zucchini into thin rounds, keeping them each in separate piles
  • Spray a baking dish (mine was 8×8) with non-stick spray and lay out an even layer of your first yellow squash in the bottom of the dish.
  • Season the layer with garlic powder and Italian seasoning
  • Take ½ of the mashed cannellini beans and dot it on top of the layer
  • Take ½ of the stewed tomatoes and using your fingers break them apart it into chunks, spreading it on top also.
  • Next, layer your zucchini and repeat the same seasoning steps followed by the remaining cannellini beans and stewed tomatoes.
  • Top with the final layer of yellow squash
  • Season with Italian seasoning and drizzle with 1 TBS of extra virgin olive oil to allow the top to brown up in the oven
  • Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes or until the squash are tender and cooked all the way through, test this by sticking a fork in it! (the bake time will vary depending on how thick or thin your rounds are and also the size of your baking dish)
  • Broil for a few minutes at the end to brown the top

Baked Squash Stack with White Beans and Stewed Tomatoes Overhead

Baked Squash Stack with White Beans and Stewed Tomatoes Sideview

I also think this dish would be amazing sprinkled with some fresh grated parmesan or pecorino cheese (but since I’m dairy free 😦 you’ll have to let me know!!!)

Mustard crusted salmon with grapefruit and avocado salad and sauteed bok choy

This happens to me all the time.  I look in the fridge and think to myself, ‘Oh man, I REALLY need to go grocery shopping, but I don’t have time to tonight, and I’m too HUNGRY!”  The produce is starting to run out, and it seems like  there’s nothing in the fridge…how on earth do I make myself a dinner?? But instead of resorting to eating out or making a frozen meal, I get creative.

mustard crusted salmon with grapefruit and avocado salad and sauteed bok choy

 

This dinner was 100% made up of “fridge stragglers”.  The piece of salmon was literally all I had left for protein.  The bok choy was leftover from the Thai peanut dish the other night, and the half of an avocado was in my fridge from the other day.  I saw the other half of my breakfast grapefruit in there too and thought, citrus goes well with salmon, and decided to give it a try!

I wanted to stray from anything too similar to the earlier night’s Thai-style dish so I went with bold, zippy flavors instead. Everything was simple, quick and tasted great together.

For the salmon, I smeared about a tablespoon of whole grain mustard on it and then baked for 15 minutes at 350F, broiling for the last minute or so to get a nice crust to form.  The bok choy I kept easy by sauteing it in EVOO with garlic, and the star of the dish was 1/2 an avocado and the segments from 1/4 of a grapefruit.  That’s it!  Separate, these items don’t look like much, but together it made for a delicious meal.  The slightly sweet tang of the grapefruit worked well with the creamy avocado and together it balanced out the punch of the mustard.  With the earthy crunch of the bok choy on the side, the dish was complete.

Of course there’s a “don’t forget” in here somewhere, and it’s not that you have to learn to think outside of the box (though, that is a good tip).  My don’t forget for tonight is, if you buy healthy food, you’ll eat healthy food! Keep yourself stocked with fruits and vegetables and healthy fats and proteins and you’ll use it! Re-think what you’re putting into your shopping cart each week and be more mindful of your choices and you will be less likely to go for the preservative and sodium packed frozen box, because you won’t have it in your freezer in the first place!

Don’t forget about winter…Balsamic Roasted Acorn Squash with a Walnut Raisin Quinoa

While the calendar says that it’s Spring, it certainly doesn’t feel like it yet in Connecticut.  Everyone seems to be upset about the cold weather lingering, but I know that when it’s gone, I’ll start to miss the little things about winter that make it so special… like warm cable knit sweaters and soft cozy scarves 😉 .  I find myself going full-on winter right before it starts to get warm again because I know I won’t be seeing some of these things for quite a while.  This is especially true for the food.  Winter a time for hearty soups, roasted vegetables, warm spices, and so much more.  I find myself wanting that “warm you from the inside out” style of cuisine to stay in season just a little bit longer.  So, tonight I wanted to make somewhat of a last goodbye to everything winter; a meal that would make you want to curl up by the fireplace with a blanket and a good book before its too late and Spring arrives.

Balsamic roasted acorn squash with walnut raisin quinoa

balsamic roasted acorn squash with walnut raisin quinoa

Acorn squash is one of those perfect vegetables that you can just throw in the oven, forget about for a while, and it gets delicious on its own!  Paired with the slightly sweet, nutty quinoa, and the tangy bold balsamic drizzle, this dish absolutely represents the warmth of winter comfort foods while still being healthy and nutritious!

To make the squash: I used one small acorn squash for this recipe, which was enough for me to have as dinner with leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F
  • Cut off and discard the ends of the squash, and then cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Slice the squash into about 3/4 inch pieces.
  • Toss the squash with a drizzle of EVOO , a few splashes of balsamic vinegar, thyme, and rosemary, and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  • Roast for about 20-25 minutes, until the squash is cooked through and tender.

To make the quinoa:

  • Wash and add 1/2 cup quinoa to 1 cup of water.  Bring to a boil and then cover and lower the heat to a simmer for about 15 minutes, or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Fluff with a fork.
  • Mix in 1/3 cup of raisins, 1/4 cup roughly chopped walnuts, and a good sprinkle of cinnamon to the hot quinoa.

To make a balsamic reduction: Simmer balsamic vinegar in a saucepan until it cooks down to your desired thickness (for this recipe I was impatient, so its not that thick 🙂 )

Arrange slices of roasted squash on the plate and top with a healthy scoop of the quinoa mix.  Dust the top with more cinnamon and drizzle the whole dish with your balsamic reduction. And there you have it! My don’t forget about winter, ode to the cozy season meal.  Hope you enjoy it!

 

 

 

 

Soy and ginger marinated salmon with toasted quinoa and organic mixed baby greens

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Since this is a meal from my pre-blog days, I don’t have any measurements.  But this seems to be the most asked about recipe from my instagram so I figured it would be an appropriate first blog post!

To make the salmon: In a ziplock bag, I add some low sodium soy sauce (enough for the salmon to lay in it and absorb some) and grate about 1/4 teaspoon fresh ginger**into the bag and mix it together.  Add the salmon to the bag, gently mix the sauce around the fish and let sit for 20 minutes in the fridge.  Then bake at 375 for about 15 minutes.  The time depends on how thick your fish is so keep an eye on it, you want it to be opaque and flaky.

**I buy fresh ginger and keep it in the freezer so it lasts longer.  Also, when you keep it in the freezer it grates up nicely and you don’t even have to peel it, just grate the whole thing!!

To make the toasted quinoa and greens: Again, I don’t have any measurements, but quinoa multiplies in size when you cook it, so a 1/4 cup dry is usually good for 2 servings cooked for me.  To toast the quinoa, before you cook it, add it to a large dry skillet and heat it over medium heat swirling the pan around frequently, (the same way you might toast sesame seeds or almonds).  This gives the quinoa a nice nutty flavor since it’s pretty bland until you season it.  You can then prepare the quinoa according to the directions, and I like to use a little vegetable stock or chicken stock to replace some of the water also, which gives it more flavor.  Meanwhile, cut up some white onion and garlic and get that sauteing in a pan on medium low heat with some coconut oil or EVOO.  Add your favorite mixed green, this happens to be a mix of organic baby greens of spinach, kale, chicory, chard. collards and mustard greens.  Cook until the greens are wilted, then add your cooked quinoa and toss together.

Top the quinoa and greens mixture with the salmon, grate some fresh lemon zest over the whole dish and voila!!