All the lentils, all the time

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Soo… mo’ lentils!

Mmm. For such a tiny little thing they pack a nutritional wallop and are astoundingly delicious.

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In other news… I love when I can walk outside and pick a snack out of my garden.

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And that the crepe myrtle in the front yard is practically exploding. When I was in school it seemed like I would always miss the blooms, but this year it’s making up for it in full force. See? Pink explosion.

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Anyway. OH! I almost forgot. Pluots are amazing right now, you should go eat one.

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Right. Lentil pasta. An excellent idea, not sure why I hadn’t thought to do this before. The sauce texture kind of resembles bolognese but is obviously meat-free, which is a nice alternative and just as delicious. Besides, lentils are cheap and filling and super good for you, so everyone wins! Besides all that there is essentially a metric ton of veggies crammed in here, so you can feel reeeeally good about eating it. Winner, winner, lentil dinner! Ha.

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I don’t think my brain is working too well on account of a really filling and tasty lunch (nap time? I think yes) soooo… I’m going to leave it at that. Pictures for you, hooray!

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Lentil Marinara

Recipe serves 3 for dinner, with bountiful leftovers (so really 4 for dinner with some change). Healthy and delicious, and relatively fast, this can be on the table in less than an hour.

  • 1 c  lentils, rinsed (I used French lentils, they’re smaller and chewier)
  • 2 c water
  • 1 onion, diced
  • a good glug of olive oil
  • 1/2 clove garlic (I used 1/2 of the little frozen chunks TJ’s sells)
  • fresh basil, marjoram, oregano and sage to taste (Dried is fine too)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/6 c (ish) good red wine (Optional. I never measure)
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • a few heaping handfuls of mixed greens or spinach
  • 1/2 zucchini, grated
  • 2 c green beans, parboiled
  • 1 can of tomato sauce (just tomatoes)
  • pasta noodles of choice for serving
  • avocado for serving, optional (but recommended!)

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Combine lentils and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let cook until the lentils have absorbed most of the water and are soft but still have a bit of bite, about 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a  sauté pan, toss in a bit of olive oil and heat over medium-low. Sauté onions until translucent, about 5-10 minutes depending on your onion-crunchy preference. Add garlic, basil, marjoram, oregano, sage, and wine and sauté a few minutes more. Add in bell pepper, mixed greens, zucchini, and green beans, and keep sautéing, until the veggies are cooked and delicious. Toss in the can of tomato sauce, salt and pepper to taste, and the cooked lentils. Cover and let simmer for about 15 minutes to get all those wonderful flavors to comingle… then serve over noodles! This is excellent topped with avocado, or cheese if that’s your thing!

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Life is too short for undelicious food

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Lazy girl’s idea of a meal, right here. In a HUGE bowl. I like to eat out of massive bowls sometimes, just for fun…. and then besides, when I make something in a huge bowl and then eat out of it, there’s less washing! See? Lazy.

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But also delicious. Because even when I’m being lazy I still want delicious (and obviously good for me) food. Duhhh. You invisible internet friends have known me long enough by now to know that life is too short for blah and undelicious food. Right? Right.

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Anyway. This is  a textbook example of my random thought process when cooking: “hmm.. I’m closing tonight. Need dinner. Have chunk of time in the middle of the day after lifting… hmmm… I’ll make cookies! Raw date newton bites, those are happening… need more dates… oh wait. Cookies aren’t dinner. Almond butter is dinner! Noodles. Soba. Veggies! Lots of veggies. Random tupperware in the fridge has beans.. corn.. chicken… sweet potatoes. Oooooh. They are ALL going in the bowl… oh wait. I’m HUNGRY! It’s lunch. These noodles are delicious, maybe I should just eat them… Waaaiiittt… this was supposed to be dinner!” *in the middle of a bite out of bowl* *slowly puts fork back down* … “fine. eggs. eggs are lunch. noodles are dinner…… is it dinner yet??” Oi. Sometimes I think my brain has a life of its own. Wait. I KNOW it does, otherwise how would it come up with some of this stuff?! Like putting spinach in way more places than it rightfully should go.

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Mmm. I just ate the leftovers for lunch. Out of a MASSIVE bowl. What an inspired idea…

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Lazy Girl Almond Butter Noodles

This is a riff on an earlier recipe I had on here—the peanut noodles, remember? Anyway, I’ve been off all things peanut for a while now, so almond butter has become my nut butter of choice (again). I love these because they’re a) delicious, b) come together in a SNAP (probably takes 15 minutes, start to finish), and c) suuuuper adaptable. Have leftover chicken or black beans in the fridge? Use them. Weird bits of veggies? Yup, those too. Anything and everything. Out of soba? Use whole wheat spaghetti. It’s delicious however you do it… but I’ll provide the framework for last night’s particularly delicious version. Recipe from… me! Serves 3… ish. With leftovers.

Gluten Free with gf soba noodles, vegetarian or vegan without chicken. Ginger: anti inflammatory and warming, among other amazing things. Soba: buckwheat, a whole grain. Almonds: healthy fats! Veggies: umm.. need I explain this?!

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  • Two heaping spoonfuls of almond butter (as in, your spoon runneth over)
  • about 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp Bragg’s liquid aminos (my version of low sodium soy sauce), with some extra to drizzle to taste
  • 2 bundles of organic soba noodles
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1/2 bag of TJ’s power to the greens (spinach, kale, chard, lots of delicious things)
  • 1/2 box of mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 sweet potato, sliced and microwaved until soft
  • 1/2 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 c corn, defrosted
  • leftover chicken, sliced

Firstly, raid fridge. Find all the odds and ends you want to use and assemble them on the counter.

I always slice the veggies first, since it takes the longest. This time, I steamed sliced zucchini, greens, and mushrooms. While the veggies are steaming, start yo’ noodles! Soba noodles cook quickly—after the water comes to a boil, time them for exactly 4 minutes. Once they’re done, drain and rinse them immediately to remove the starch (otherwise they get ruuuul clumpy). In a small separate bowl, stir almond butter, ginger, and bragg’s together. Add a bit of warm water to thin it out—it’ll look weird at first but keep stirring until smooth!

Grab a mega mixing bowl. When noodles and veggies are done, toss them in, followed by an odds and ends from the fridge (corn, beans, chicken, whatever). I like to try to time it so that the sauce goes over warm veggies or noodles, since it helps melt it a bit and distribute evenly. Toss sauce with the contents of the bowl until evenly coated. I usually end up adding a bit more bragg’s to taste towards the end.

Eat. Love your food that loves your body back!

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Sassy savories and other unphotogenic food items

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carpet picnic!

Woah woah woah.

Two savory posts in a row? Is she sick?

..

Nahh. Just inspired! You see… I do make savory food hugely often. Like, my mother says it’s impossible to keep me in vegetables. As in… I eat. Them. ALL. Alllll the time! (And applesauce, that too). Except that usually by dinner time, I have no interest in photographing my food because a) I’m hungry and b) by the time I’m finished photographing it’ll be cold and c) I’m lazy and d) … okay never mind there was no d. Whatever, suffice it to say this is the main list of reasons why I never get around to photographing savory dinners. Also because savory stuff can be kind of uncooperative on the photography front sometimes…. like it’s delicious but it’s freaking ugly. Or it sasses me and gets all unphotogenic when I think it’s going to cooperate. I hate when that happens! No one wants to look at ugly food, right?!

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Anyway… but this time things cooperated! Ish. And I’ve been keeping myself fully stocked in cookies, just so you know (I wouldn’t want you to get concerned, or anything). Besides, I need snacks for after my bodyrock and lifting sessions, durrrr. Sore and shaky definitely qualifies for a snack of a healthy cookie and kombucha…

This dish was a bit of an experiment, which happily turned out well. Gotta love that. It’s easy and comes together in a snap with pantry staples, which is also excellent. ANNDD I invented it! So you should doubly love it and go running to your kitchen, obviously.

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Salmon Primavera with Polenta

Recipe from.. me! The polenta is my favorite recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook. The rest was inspired by the can of salmon lurking in the pantry. Serves 3, with a teeny bit of leftovers (though this does make enough polenta for another serving, there isn’t as much topping left).

  • 1.5  c polenta
  • 5 c water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 can of salmon, flaked and deboned (if necessary)
  • 1 zucchini, grated*
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 box of mushrooms (7-8ish), sliced
  • 3/4 c frozen peas, thawed
  • a good handful of fresh spinach
  • marjoram, basil, salt and pepper to taste**
  • grated parmesan, to garnish

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*I used whatever veggies we had, but any would be good. I like the sweetness of peas with salmon though, so try to have those at least (unless you hate them, of course)

**we grow fresh marjoram, so I used a few sprigs, and 2 frozen basil cubes. I salted the salmon a bit before use and then tossed in a bit later, and as for pepper, don’t use my family as an example as we’re pepper-nuts (read: we use an excessive amount on everything). Do what suits you!

In a saucepan, heat 4 cups of water to a a boil. Combine the polenta and salt with the other cup of water, stirring slightly (this prevents lumps). Once the water boils, toss in polenta and whisk constantly until the polenta thickens (for me, 11-12 minutes as I use a quicker cooking, not instant, polenta). Once thick (and you’ll know, as your arm will be about to fall off), remove from heat and stir in about a tablespoon of olive oil.

In a saute pan, heat a good glug of olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add marjoram and basil, followed by grated zucchini, bell pepper, and mushrooms. Saute until veggies are fork tender and the mushrooms have released some juices. Toss in spinach, peas, and flaked salmon and saute a few minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve over hot polenta with plenty of cheese (obvs)!

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Lightning-fast mooching abilities and other skills

Mmm. Kebabs.

Why is it way more fun to eat things on sticks? Is it some kind of childish relapse I’m having? I doubt it, considering I hated (no wait, loathed is waaay more accurate) corndogs as a child. Which is like the quintessential kid-food-on-a-stick. Gross. I STILL think they’re gross. Probably even more now than I did. Anywayyy. There’s something about eating chicken on a skewer which makes it waaay more fun than just eating chicken. Boooring.

Besides, then when you’re finished, you can poke your dinner partners with your skewers. Muahahhaa.

Not that I would ever do such a thing…

You know what that makes me think of?! The Mooch Fork!!! I WANT one of these: they’re basically a telescoping fork that can be used for swiping choice bits of food off of your unsuspecting dinner companion’s plates!! What a genius idea. They take poaching to an entire new level. No longer will I have to do one of these: “WAIT! Ohmygosh there’s a METEOR outside, look look look!!” *semi-spastically points out the window while simultaneously gesticulating wildly and sneakily swiping bread or whatever while no one is looking*. Oh no. With a mooch fork, I could just telescope away. No one would able to stop my lightning speed mooching. It might also be useful in the grocery store around the holidays—perhaps to fend off those crazies who try to steal the last can of pumpkin (long range poking might come in handy, you never know…). Does anyone know where to get one of these?! Because I want one, pleaseandthankyou.

Anyway. Food on a stick.

These kebabs are deceptively simple. All they really require is a bit of advance planning and some time. But they make a fab change from everyday chicken…AND you get to play with your food! Winning all around.

uh huh. MOOCHING

Caribbean Chicken Skewers

My family usually makes 6 skewers, so 2 per person. We use wooden skewers that we soak for at least an hour beforehand (to prevent them from burning), with 4 sticks per person (if you use two sticks per kebab, the meat can be flipped evenly on the grill without sliding around…does that make sense?!). I’ll include the amount of food we use for 3 people, so adjust according to your needs.

The marinade recipe is from The Cooks Illustrated Guide to Grilling and BBQ, and is delicious. It makes more than we need, so we’ll usually save some.

Whatcha need:

  • enough skewers to feed your peeps
  • 2 large or 3 smallish chicken breasts, defrosted and cut into chunks
  • 2 large bell peppers (I used one red and one purple), cut into chunks
  • 1 onion, sliced into skewer-able pieces
  • 2 apples, cut into chunks
  • mushrooms, halved
  • zucchini is good too, if you have it!

Marinade:

  • 1/2 c good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl.

About an hour before, soak the skewers in water.

Heat the grill to about 500 (ish), enough to get a sear on the meat.

Defrost the chicken, and cut into smallish cubes. Let it sit in the marinade for at least a half an hour, preferably an hour for the best flavor (although that never happens around here). While meat is marinating, cut up veggies so you’re all ready for blastoff…

Once meat has sat for a bit, thread the meat and veggies onto the skewers, alternating so they look pretty! Use two skewers, as I said before, so that you can rotate the meat on the grill without it just spinning on the skewer. Grill for 2 minutes per side, uncovered, rotating the kebabs a quarter turn every 2 minutes, until meat is fully cooked and meat/veggies/fruit are lightly browned (about 8 minutes total for white meat). Remove when there is no pink at the center and the meat is opaque. Serve immediately! I like mine with a sweet potato and mo’ veggies on the side :)

The ginormous dinner rut, and what to do about it.

easy pizza!

Okay, so I’m on a roll. Now that I’m not thesising, I have to come up with SOME way to entertain myself, right?! Heaven forbid I should be bored between now and graduation. Psssh..

Anyyywayyy. Like I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve been in a dinner rut the size of the Grand Canyon. BUT. I’m slowly starting to scale the walls towards more variety! Huzzah! I mean, I do love my steamed veggie-protein-grain combo, but hey, let’s face it… that gets just a wee bit old after awhile. At least, I like to eat this combo in a variety of forms, say like a quinoa bowl, savory oats, or a quesadilla. All delicious, to be sure. But I was… bored. And still (until yesterday) thesising. Which meant that dinner kind of got the short end of the stick. I did, however, stumble upon a fast and tasty quesadilla alternative in my quest for variety… tortilla pizza! Genius idea, you’ll see. It’s like… insta pizza. Especially if you like the super thin crust variety.

That being said, today’s post isn’t really a recipe, per se, but is rather more of a suggestion. This recipe is great since it’s infinitely adaptable… all you really need is protein of some form, veggies, and whatever else you want… cheese is nice, of course. I plan to keep experimenting with topping variations, since this has become my new favorite quickie dinner!

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Tortilla Pizza!

Dreamed up by my hungry thesis-brain. Serves one!

  • Tortilla of choice
  • veggie variety
  • protein? If you want it… chicken is good, and so is sausage.
  • grated cheese of some form, however much depending on personal preference.
up close and personal

Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly de-stickify a cookie sheet (I used a light smear of coconut oil). Place your tortilla of choice on the prepped cookie sheet, and bake for 10 minutes. While the oven is heating/tortilla is baking, prep your toppings. For mine, I tend to steam a variety of veggies: usually mushrooms, bell peppers, and spinach, and use some form of animal protein, either chicken or chicken sausage. Cheese is up to you—I’ve used both cheddar and toscano, and both have been delicious.Top the pre-baked tortilla with toppings of choice, and bake for another 2 minutes, ish, until the cheese is melty and delicious. Slice and eat immediately while it’s gooey and warm. Mmmm.

The pizza in the photos was a combo of steamed veggies, Trader Joe’s chicken-apple sausage, and Syrah-soaked Toscano cheese. It was unbelievably delicious, which is what prompted me to share this. Before eating, I tossed on some cucumber for extra crunch.

Another fabby combo was steamed mushrooms, bell peppers, and spinach, Tillamook sharp cheddar, and chicken tossed with cinnamon and curry powder. That one was uglier though, so it didn’t get to star in the pictures… I fully intend on making a black bean version of this at some point in the very near future.

Yum yum yum :) Easy and delicious. And quick. Added bonus!

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Never enough peanut butter

Double whammy on the blog posts… I’ve been making interesting things lately, I promise! They’ve just been… ugly. I really didn’t want to show you the amoeba-like beet and goat cheese ravioli… Tasty, but… ugly. Luckily, recipes lately have been delicious AND aesthetic, which appeases the art history major bit of me.

Anyway, recipe bonanza for you! Yay.

And no. This one isn’t even orange!

*gasp*

I told you, we’re striving towards variety! Besides, we have enough orange leftovers to last us a bit… I really don’t think we’re lacking in the beta-carotene department over here. Really. I definitely don’t want to venture into oompa loompa territory. Let’s not.

No, this isn’t exactly a recipe, either.

It’s a loose adaptation of a noodles and sauce recipe that Gillian and I discovered last year when we were sorta kinda studying for nutrition (but really having much more fun discussing vegan chocolate cake and baking techniques). However. Even though it’s not a recipe, it’s one of my favorites! Infinitely adaptable to whatever you have on hand (or whatever is lurking in the depths of the vegetable crisper), and ridiculously quick and simple to whip up.

Besides. Peanut butter is A-MAZING. Well. Actually all nut butters are amazing. I’m surprised I don’t resemble a jar of almond butter (perhaps with an orangeish tinge? Ew.)… I may or may not eat about a jar a week. (And I’ve gotten my roomie addicted, muahhahah). Although now I’ve fallen back in love with peanut butter, so I alternate. But still. There is a ridiculously embarrassing amount of nut butter consumed in this apartment weekly. Going with this vein, I really like finding new ways of conveying nut butter into my face, besides the obvious option of some form of bread/pancake/muffin/scone/carrotish thing. Pasta seemed like an excellent choice…. and then you can decorate with veggies! This way all those antioxidants can have a party in your digestive tract, and in the process, annihilate all of the free radicals floating about and trying to cause problems. And all that whole wheat from the pasta can party with the veggies, increasing your fiberous intake and lowering your cholesterol and blood lipids. Everybody wins! (Except those nasty free radicals, but we don’t like them).

Enter: Peanut Noodles with Veggies! Thai inspired, probably… but eventually simplified to be pantry and budget friendly. YAY!

Peanut Noodlies with Veggies!

Semi-created by Hayley and Gillian.

Simple, really. Boil water! Choose your fave pasta (I like whole wheat soba for this, but whole wheat spaghetti works too), and cook it until al dente (eewww, please no soggy pasta). Drain and rinse.

Slice up a block of tofu into smallish cubes, and set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine:

  • A decent amount of peanut butter (say, 2 heaping tablespoons)
  • juice of one lime
  • grated fresh ginger
  • a drizzle of honey or agave
  • a squirt (say, 2 tsp) of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or other soy sauce type thing)
  • Sriacha, if you like it spicy!
  • water to thin it out

Keep in mind all these measurements are approximate—I usually taste and fiddle as I go along, and I never measure for this one. Mix everything together until the consistency is as you like it, then let your cubed tofu marinate for a bit.

While the noodlies are cooking, steam or saute veggies of your choice. I like bell peppers, broccoli, snow peas, or carrots—crunchy veggies are always good in this. We topped ours this time with diced cucumber, which was quite tasty. Toss the marinated tofu and sauce with the veggies and noodles, and serve. Eat. Love!

Tales of a muffin tin

MUFFINS! On a Sigma Nu plate, naturally...

Once upon a time, there were gremlins. These gremlins resided in Hayley’s upper digestive tract, mostly in the area of the stomach. Small beings, probably technicolor (likely thanks to large amounts of sprinkles consumed. whoops).

Now. Hayley normally has a very amicable relationship with the gremlins… except sometimes. They. Get. HUNGRY. And when they get hungry… well… more like hangry. Hungry-angry. You don’t want to be around them when they get hangry. Vociferous complaints start emanating from their subterranean hideout. And only a certain amount of vocal placating will suffice before they start rioting.

However, there is one thing that the gremlins love more than anything else.

Can you guess?

SNACKS!

Gremlins LOVE snacks. Especially home-made ones, that don’t come in packaging, and are derived from whole foods (not the store, silly!). What can I say, these gremlins are a bit picky (although  they prefer the word particular, thankyouverymuch). But. If Hayley can placate them with the right kind of snackies, life gets insta-better! No more hangry subterranean grumblings from small technicolor beings, and no awkward pauses in class when the gremlins attempt to loudly voice their dissatisfied opinion on the contents (or lack thereof) of Hayley’s stomach region.

Pause. Reverting to first person. As much as I like describing my gremlins in the context of their relationship to me in third person… Awkward.

Recently, I discovered a handy snackie that appeases the gremlins! MUFFINS! Thanks to Gillian, who gave me the bright idea of making a batch of muffins on the weekend, for snacks during the week. I knooooow all of my classmates are SUPER jealous when I roll into class with a homemade, healthy muffin. Yep, that’s right. Whole foods, non-processed, and a tastily convenient way to deal with all the random items in your fridge. Muffins are extremely forgiving :)

Whole foods+non-processed snackies=happy gremlins! (which in turn yields a happy Hayley, as we are a very symbiotic being…)

Here’s the recipe! I use this as a base, and throw in whatever I happen to have on hand, or whatever sounds good when the mood for muffins strikes. I cut these in half before I leave for class, and swipe some nut butter and jam or honey in the middle! Squash them back together and no one is the wiser ;)

down at muffin level

Muffin Madness, makes 6 (I make half the recipe, so it lasts me about a week)

Adapted from Easy Peasy Organic, here

  • 1 large egg (or flax egg, if you don’t have eggs)
  • 1/8 c olive oil (or whatever)
  • 1/2 c lowfat plain yogurt (milk, soymilk, or anything milkish is fine, I really like them with yogurt)
  • 1/8 c brown sugar (I prefer less sweet, if more sweet appeals to you, that’s fine! Honey also works, as does any sweetener)
  • 1/4 c rolled oats
  • 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 c oat flour (or whole wheat, I like to use two different kinds)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
**Any add-ins you might want! My favorite combos are:
*mashed banana with cinnamon and vanilla, chocolate chips, and huckleberries
*grated fresh ginger, mashed banana, unsweetened shredded coconut, and chocolate chips
*grated raw sweet potato, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla, choc chippies, and coconut
*anything, really. Just make sure you adjust the batter consistency to be not too runny (add flour), and not too thick (add milk/yogurt). It should be thick but not too thick, if you know what I mean… sorry for not being too specific! These are really forgiving. Don’t worry, I’m sure they’ll still appease your gremlins.
Preheat oven to 350, and lightly grease a muffin tin (I usually use coconut oil for this).
Mix the egg, oil, yogurt, sugar, and oats together. Add in whatever other wet add-ins you have (ie banana, vanilla, pumpkin, sweet potato, whatever), and stir to combine.
Mix your dry ingredients in a separate bowl, and then add liquid to dry. Be careful not to over-mix, since that makes for tough muffins! Just barely incorporate all the flour. Check consistency, adjust as needed.
Spoon batter into the jumbo muffin tin you are so justly proud of finding ON SALE at Sur la Table, and pop into the oven. Depending on your add-ins, bake time will vary, but I usually bake mine for about 20 minutes. Just keep an eye on them… I’m sure your gremlins will be happy to do that for you, as it means fresh, hot muffin for them, straight out of the oven! Excellent with earth balance, jam, nut butter, honey, or all of the above.
Enjoy the satisfaction of placating your own gremlins! (Don’t try to deny it, I know you have them too ;)