7-ingredient sesame ginger noodle bowl sauce

What’s better in spring than a cold noodle bowl?

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FINALLY spring is here, and the fresh spring ingredients are starting to pop up on the shelves.  Crisp beans, tender asparagus, leafy greens…which all sound like great ingredients for a noodle bowl, if you ask me!  This month’s RecipeRedux theme is 7 ingredients or less, and my Asian-inspired noodle bowl sauce fits the bill.  I made them for Gracy’s self care group on Sunday, and used my go-to format of a make-your-own bar so people could choose which elements to add.  (And as always, I chose EVERYTHING!)

But the sauce!  It’s delicious. Savory, nutty, salty, and tangy – and very forgiving.  I often use rough measurements and it always ends up just fine…make a big batch and taste as you go to adapt it!

IMG_3360Sesame ginger noodle bowl sauce

Ingredients

  • 1/4 c sesame oil
  • 1/4 c soy sauce (can substitute soy-free aminos or homemade soy sauce)
  • 2″ fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1 Tbsp almond or peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp tahini (double if skipping nut butter)
  • 1 lemon’s juice
  • 1 clove garlic

Directions

Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor; mixture will be thick.  Drizzle in 1/4c -1/2 cup water until desired consistency is reached.  Taste and tell!  You could add a hit of hot sauce, a pinch of sugar, or more of any of the ingredients you want to play up.

Click the frog for other RecipeRedux 7-ingredient recipes for fast, healthy dishes!

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4 Turkey Alternatives (that will please any crowd!)

This morning I was featured on the local ABC7 to discuss alternatives to turkey for the holidays – my third DC area television appearance!  Check it out:

http://wjla.com/embed/features/good-morning-washington/turkey-alternatives-for-thanskgiving

Many thanks to the ABC7 team for making me feel so welcome and comfortable – they are as genuinely nice off the air as they are on it!

Want to learn how to do meal prep for healthy eating every week of the year with recipes personalized for you?  I offer personal nutrition assessment + cooking classes – check my package options to learn more!

Turkey Shortage?

A bout of avian flu in the midwest killed about 3% of the nation’s turkeys this year – though not before most of the frozen turkeys sold this November were already raised and frozen, according to the National Turkey Federation.  So prices may be higher ($0.59-1.99/lb for frozen birds in our area) but the supply is still robust.

To order a (DC-area) locally  raised turkey from a small farm, try:

But, since it’s unlikely that turkey as we know it was even present at the first Thanksgiving, why not buck the trend and offer something different?  Below are four ideas + recipes – each with their own claim to the place of honor as entree for the big day!

The other white meat: for meat-lovers who want something stuffed

A pork tenderloin is an impressive dish to serve, and could easily be stuffed with the same elements as a turkey – nuts, cranberries – and this recipe even include butternut squash!  The tenderloin has about the same amount of protein as turkey, and pairs nicely with similar ingredients.  Try this recipe by Gina (shes uses turkey tenderloin, but I used pork) – and don’t forget to visit your local farmer’s market to get higher quality, better-raised meats.

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The turkey shaped option: for visual effect

Cornish game hens are a breed or crossbreed of chicken; they’re very small, so these would make a nice individual-sized serving, or if on the larger side perhaps served by the half.  This recipe features some amazing fall flavors – lemon and sage – and Elizabeth shares my outlook on meat sourcing and portions to boot.

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The vegetarian/vegan option: for the meat-free

What would a holiday post be without something from Martha Stewart?  Her stuffed acorn squash includes beans, quinoa, and nuts for protein that the squash lacks with a beautiful outcome that any guest would be delighted to have.  It would probably go well with a bechamel sauce, too!

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The seafood version: a nod to our shellfish-eating forefathers

It’s likely that the early Thanksgivings included fish or shellfish, so serving a pescatarian option is very apropos!  Rosemary is one of my favorite cold-weather flavors, and oranges are in season now – added bonus, this dish takes under half an hour from start to finish: a big time savings so you can focus on side dishes.

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RecipeRedux: National Nut Day!

I guess there’s really a day for everything these days, isn’t there?  Really though, I try to encourage everyone to eat nuts on a daily basis – a handful is a serving, they’re high in protein, fiber, and unsaturated fats, and they can be stored at room temperature.  The perfect snack, breakfast component, and wonderful in dishes sweet and savory alike.   Easy to store and portion in the office, the car, your purse…and there’s got to be a seasoning mix to please everyone out there!  Ok – my ode to nuts is over, but definitely worth consideration if you aren’t already eating them regularly!

What if I’m allergic?

Turn to seeds – sunflower, pumpkin, chia, flax…these have generally the same nutrient profile as nuts, but are different enough that most people with nut allergies aren’t triggered.  Make sure to check with your doctor if you aren’t sure which allergies you have!

Back to nuts

This recipe packs everything that tastes good about fall into one bite: pumpkin, pumpkin spice, apple, and almonds!  Add chocolate chips if you want a sweeter treat, and sub maple syrup for brown sugar if you have it on hand.  Delicious enough for dessert, but healthy enough for breakfast (try enjoying with plain greek yogurt!) – my favorite kind of recipe.  Don’t forget to check out the other nutty recipes by clicking the blue frog at the end of the post!

Pumpkin spice almond bars

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups old fashioned (rolled) oats
  • 1 c slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 apple, diced (keep skin on for more fiber!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 very ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chunks or chips (optional)

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 325° F.
  2. Spray an 8 inch by 8 inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl combine the oats, quinoa, almonds, chocolate chips, apple, pumpkin pie spice and salt.
  4. In a blender combine the sugar, banana, and pumpkin puree until smooth.
  5. Add pumpkin mixture to oat mixture and stir until all the oats are coated.
  6. Place oat mixture into the prepared pan and spread to be flat and even, packing down with the back of a spatula. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until golden brown.
  7. Let the bars cool, and cut into desired size (makes 10 snack sized bars).

Back to the table: chunky market veggie gazpacho

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Produce, produce, everywhere

It’s getting to that point of the summer when I actually have more produce than I can handle around my kitchen…between bringing home a load from the market weekly and visiting my mom’s garden on Tuesday, I have a glut of cherry tomatoes, beets, corn, peaches, and peppers.  One of the best problems to have, right?  Since this month’s RecipeRedux theme is “back to the table,” I decided to put out a bunch of yummy dishes and have an al fresco smorgasboard for a friend visiting from out of town.  Summer dinners are much more casual, but convening around food at the end of the day is an important family ritual to keep up, even if you don’t need to use silverware for all the food!

A word about gazpacho

Gazpacho should be easy.  After all, it’s basically a vegetable smoothie that you eat with a spoon.  Some recipes call for blanching and deseeding of tomatoes, peeling cucumbers, and chilling overnight but that all seems overly complicated to me.  Yes, my soup will have more texture than a restaurant version, but that means more fiber and other nutrients.  This article reviews the “5 mistakes of gazpacho” – and I’m making that one on purpose!  My friend said it was the best gazpacho she’d ever had, and that she loved the texture, so it goes to show that a few extra peels never hurt :)

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Chunky market veggie gazpacho

Ingredients

  • 3-4 medium [fresh, local] tomatoes (or about 3 cups of cherry tomatoes)
  • 2 small bell peppers (yellow, orange, or red work best)
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 clove garlic (this may be the only thing you want to roast – left raw, it gives the soup a spicy edge!)
  • 1 small English cucumber
  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • toppings: fresh basil, corn, croutons, parmesan cheese…try what you like!

Directions

Put all ingredients in a blender and pulse into chunks; puree to desired thickness.  Optional: add breadcrumbs for a thicker texture.

Farmer’s market recipe of the month: babaghanoush!

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This month’s RecipeRedux theme is produce from farmer’s markets or CSAs – my favorite kind!  I work for a farmer in my Columbia Heights neighborhood, and it’s one of my favorite parts of summer.  A place I get to talk about food, obtain beautiful produce, and share samples with people?  Sign me up!  Early on, I tried to provide handouts with my recipes on them, but copies are expensive and paper gets dirty/blows away/requires pre-printing, so I switched to sending out a monthly e-newsletter of all the recipes I sample (you can sign up here!).

This month, I made a tried-and-true favorite: babaghanoush!  It’s basically eggplant dip, and made with the same ingredients as hummus, but the cooked eggplant gives a delicious, silky texture.  Incredibly easy to make, and best served with cucumbers or even endive leaves (veggies on veggies!), this is a go-to for summer entertaining with a Mediterranean twist.  Also great as a spread for sandwiches or wraps! (Be sure to click the blue frog at the bottom to see all the ways Redux members used produce in recipes for some healthy inspiration!)

Babaghanoush

Ingredients

  • 2 medium eggplants
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1-2 Tbsp tahini or other mild nut or seed butter
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Directions

Slice the tops off the eggplant and then in half down the long side.  Sprinkle with salt, and grill, roast or microwave until the flesh is soft.  Puree with all remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor.

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Pantry dump & bake – with new Libby’s vegetable pouches! (+easy veggie casserole)

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I’m always on the lookout for new products – and sometimes, they come to me!  As  RecipeRedux member I get access to foods that might not even be on the market yet…like the new Libby’s Vegetable Pouches, which are easy to open, shelf stable, and cook in the micro wave in 1 minute.  They’re an alternative to canned veggies, and taste better in my opinion!

With the cold weather finally here on the east coast, tis the season for a warm, cozy, casserole – by using Libby’s vegetables, beans, and whole grain pasta, this is an all-in-one meal that reheats perfectly for lunches.  No pre-cooking, sauteing, or chopping here – just dump all the ingredients into a pan, bake, and serve.  While it’s in the oven, sneak in a workout, relax, or enjoy time with your family!

I received free samples of Libby’s new Vegetable Pouches mentioned in this post. I was not compensated for my time.

Easy Veggie Casserole

Ingredients

  • 1 pouch Libby’s green beans
  • 1 pouch Libby’s green peas
  • 1 pouch Libby’s corn
  • 1 handful chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 15-oz can pinto beans
  • 3 c broth
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 c milk
  • 1/2 lb whole wheat short noodle pasta
  • 3 oz mozarella or cheddar cheese

Directions
Grease a casserole pan (mine is 8″ diameter and 4″ deep) and preheat the oven to 350F.  Drain pouches and beans, and fold together with a spatula with noodles, broth, parsley, egg, and milk in a mixing bowl.  Pour in to casserole pan, and bake for 45 minutes.  Sprinkle on cheese and bake for another 5 minutes until melted.  Serves 4.

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National Pasta Month (+pasta puttanesca)

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The best place for pasta in Columbia Heights

is Maple.  They make their own noodles in house and the sauces from scratch.  I’m also partial because they source some ingredients from the farmer I work for at the CoHi market on Saturdays…but pretty sure I’d be a fan anyway, anyhow.  It’s comfy and casual, yet feels elegant, has a small but diverse menu (of which everything I’ve had is delectable), and isn’t pretentiously priced – if anything, it’s one of the best values in the city for the quality of food.  I had the linguine puttanesca there a few weeks ago and my mouth has been thinking about it ever since.

Entre national pasta month

If you didn’t know, don’t feel bad…I wasn’t aware that October is pasta month either, until the RecipeRedux challenge (sponsored by the National Pasta Association – yup, that’s a thing, too) was listed.  Even though pasta isn’t a central part of my regular diet, it definitely has a place in the American diet for its versatility, ease of preparation, and potential health benefits.

Nutritionally speaking

pasta is a concentrated source of carbohydrate, our body’s primary fuel.  Because it is a plant product, it contains dietary fiber – as long as you get a whole grain variety!  Fiber content is very low in white flour pastas, and quite high in those that are fortified with wheat germ or oat – usually around 6g (out of a 25g recommended daily) for a serving.  Which brings me to portion sizing.  Many restaurants have totally ruined our eye for judging a single serving of pasta, which is only 1 c of cooked noodles.  Getting 2-4 times that amount when you eat out isn’t uncommon (another thing I like about Maple – it’s not a huge serving!) and therein lies the problem.  Over consuming carbohydrate causes a surge in insulin, which signals energy storage (ie, fat) and can lead to insulin insensitivity over time.  So the takeaway: pasta = good, too much pasta = not ideal!

Pasta Puttanesca

is a chunky, tomato based veggie sauce that is loaded with great briny flavor from anchovies, capers, and olives.  It’s easy and fast to make, and pairs perfectly with any meat over a perfectly cooked noodle.  Having a half cup (the serving size for sauce) will be hard to do…so have two!  Veggies are what we need more of.  This version will have you at the table in half an hour and absolutely delighted…especially if you can’t make it to Maple :)

Linguine Puttanesca (a la Sarah, via Maple)

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb whole wheat pasta
  • 3 large red tomatoes (I used one large and a pint of cherry, ~2lbs), diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 3 Tbsp capers, drained
  • 1 tin anchovies
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 poblano (or red bell) pepper, diced
  • 1/2 whole black kalamata olives, diced
  • 1/4 c red wine
  • 1/2 c flat leaf parsley, rough chopped

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Directions

Heat a large pot with water filled halfway on the stove until boiling.  Cook pasta per box directions until al dente (slightly firm).  Heat oil in a sauce pan (4qt); add onion, garlic, and anchovies.  Saute until anchovies start to break down and onions become translucent (~3-4 minutes).  Add the tomatoes, pepper, and wine, reduce heat and cook, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the olives, capers, and parsley, cook an additional 5 minutes.  Plate pasta, scoop sauce on top.  Garnish.

Click the frog to see the rest of the pasta contest entries!