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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A Friendsgiving feast (+pistachio pumpkin biscotti)

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Happy Friendsgiving!

Yesterday I hosted my 11th Friendsgiving, which is a tradition I’ve loved since college.  Throwing an open-house style potluck with lots of friends is a no-fail way to have a great time, and this year was no exception!

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Along with this pecan pie, I also made biscotti. This month’s RecipeRedux theme is “creative quick breads,” and since biscotti are technically  a quick bread (leavened without yeast), I figured these fit!  Click the blue frog at the bottom of the post to see all the other healthier-for-the-holidays quick bread recipes from members.

No fewer than 3 different people at the party asked who made them, so they are as delicious as they are pretty!  Wrap some up in a cellophane bag with a nice ribbon, pair with a mug and you have a lovely hostess gift this holiday season. ;)

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Like the mug?  Check out StonewarebySarah for handcrafted gifts – lots of new items listed!

Pistachio pumpkin biscotti (adapted from Simply Recipes)

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups of flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons of pumpkin spice
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 6 ounces shelled pistachios
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of pumpkin purée
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Directions

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine dry ingredients (through pistachios) in a mixing bowl and whisk until evenly mixed.  In a separate bowl, beat eggs, pumpkin, and vanilla together, then add to dry ingredients.  Stir to combine, then used hands to knead into a ball.  Break into two even pieces and shape each into a flattened log.  Bake on a cookie sheet lined with parchment for 45 minutes, then remove and cool for 20.  Lower oven temp to 300F.  Slice rolls into 1/2 inch-thick pieces, lay out on baking sheet, and bake for an additional 15 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

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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).

Is red meat bad for you? (+grilled flat iron steak + peach salsa)

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I received beef product mentioned in this post at no cost. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by The Beef Checkoff and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Red meat: how much is too much?

Some people will tell you that any amount of red meat is unhealthy.  Some will tell you a diet of mostly meat is the way to go – so who’s right?  The truth is probably somewhere between the two: in the US, we eat a LOT of meat, and a healthy diet is all about balance.  We rank 3rd in world beef consumption at 85.5  pounds/person/year consumed (behind Uruguay and Argentina, in case you were curious), and the hamburger is basically synonymous with American food culture.

I believe the problem with way we eat red meat in this country is threefold: in context, amount, and source.  Context: most meals are based on meat and refined grains/fried foods (hamburger on a roll, steak and fries, meatballs over pasta, etc).  Amount: portions are huge!  Source: cheap meat is cheap because the animals were fed inexpensive grains, which alters the nutrient content from those fed a grass-based diet quite a lot.  If you change the context (a balanced meal, with lots of produce), the amount (small, to reflect that you don’t need much and 30-40g of protein is ideal for digestion/absorption), and the source (choosing grass-fed meat with a higher amount of omega-3’s), the healthfulness of the meal is drastically increased.  Eating meat this way, for a few meals a week, is good way to practice moderation while still enjoying the variety of cuts and luxury of availability we have!

For this recipe (part of a RecipeRedux contest), I wanted to combine some unexpected flavors: the sweetness of peach salsa with savory meat – it’s the onion and cilantro that really take it over the top!  I got my flat-iron steak from Country Vittles, a farm near my hometown about 2 hours north of DC.  The cattle spend their life from birth on the farm, and are grass-fed by the family who have generations in the business.  What I love most about buying from them (and all the market vendors) is that you can ask questions, hear the story, and get tips directly from the people who are doing the farming.

They were sold out of the skirt or flank steak I wanted by the time I got to them last week, but suggested using the flat iron instead, and it worked perfectly.  At $13/lb, it was one of their less expensive cuts, and I know that sounds like a lot – but remember, meat should be expensive!  It’s extremely labor and resource intensive, and reflects more closely the real price of eating animals (that you don’t have to go out and hunt yourself!).  A little reverence & gratitude for the life of the animal who provided it might also be in order!

So here it is: the recipe!  I’d love to hear your thoughts on eating meat, eating meat with fruit, and how you find balance…and don’t forget to check out the rest of the beef recipes by clicking the blue frog!

Grilled flat-iron steak and peach salsa

Ingredients
  • 8 ounces flat-iron, skirt, or flank steak
  • 4 lg peaches
  • 1 lg onion
  • 3 banana peppers
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 bunch cilantro
Directions

How to grill (or broil) the perfect steak:

  1. preheat grill to high; ensure that grates are well-oiled
  2. dab meat dry with a paper towel, then season with salt & pepper
  3. with grill hot (~450F), lay the meat down and close the lid
  4. cook for 5 minutes, then open grill and flip, close lid then cook for 5 more minutes (this will be rare; cook longer for medium or well-done)
  5. remove from the grill and place on a plate.  Allow to rest for 8-10 minutes (crucial step!)
  6. slice against the grain (make cuts perpendicular to the direction the muscle runs)

Dice and combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl to make the salsa.  Serve over strips of steak. (8 ounces raw meat should serve 2 servings of 3 ounces each cooked; salsa will yield 4-5 cups and is excellent as a dip for chips, too!)

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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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Should you eat egg yolks? (+Strawberry-Banana Meringue Pie)

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By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Davidson’s Safest Choice Eggs and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Eggs: the most versatile food…ever?

I’m an egg lover.  I came into dietetics at a time when the anti-egg guidance was finally starting to shift back to the “pro” side, and boy is that a good thing!  The white is almost 100% protein, while the yolk contains the vitamins, minerals, fat, and almost as much protein as the white – so I recommend keeping the yolks whenever possible.  Since eggs can be made in a myriad of ways on their own (I’m a sunny-side up girl, myself) and acts as a binder and protein boost in sweet and savory recipes alike, they could be one of nature’s purest gifts.  (By the way, the eggs we eat are unfertilized, so they would never grow into a baby chick.)

Why choose pasteurized?

Pasteruized eggs are treated to a warm-water bath to kill bacteria inside and on the egg’s surface.  I like to use them especially for populations with weaker immune systems (small children, the elderly, pregnant ladies) when the recipe doesn’t call for a fully cooked egg (like toasted meringue).  No risk of Salmonella!  This video describes the process:

Meringue pies: dessert of the summer!

What’s better in a summer dessert than a light, fluffy, creamy meringue topping?  Elegant to serve, and easy to make, the only problem with most meringue pies is that they’re way. too. sweet.  Makes it hard to enjoy the other flavors!  This pie is much lighter on the sugar, and higher in fiber and protein at the same time (loosely based on this Martha Stewart recipe).  Definitely something fun to try for your next gathering!  Click the blue frog at the bottom to see other sponsored contest entries.

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Strawberry-Banana Meringue Pie

Ingredients

Crust:

  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1 cup cashews and/or almonds

Filling:

  • 1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt

Topping

  • 2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1 lemon’s juice
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 300F.  In a food processor, pulse together the dates and nuts until the size of small crumbs.  Press into a pie pan (9″) with a a sheet of waxed paper.  Combine filling ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.  Pour into pie pan over crust and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown on top.  Meanwhile, combine strawberries and lemon juice in a bowl and allow to marinate for 10 minutes.  Using a hand or stand mixer, whip the egg whites on a slow speed and add the cream of tartar and sugar one tablespoon at a time.  Increase speed to high and whip until stiff peaks form (~4-5 minutes).  When pie is baked, spread strawberries on top and place meringue in dollops on top.  Using the back of a spoon, create peaks by gently swirling then pulling away.  Preheat broiler and move a tray to the second from top level in the oven.  When hot, place pie underneath and toast for 2-3 minutes, watching closely.  Meringue is done when brown on top.  (Alternatively, use a baking torch to toast.)

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DIY Ranch Seasoning

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This month’s RecipeRedux theme is “kitchen DIYs” – things that dietitians do themselves instead of buying!  Be sure to click the blue frog at the bottom of the post for everyone’s hacks.

I started blending my own garlic & onion mix years ago to put in greek yogurt as a healthy, easy dip, and I call it my Guilt-Free Ranch.  A few simple spices you probably already have on hand, and you’ve got the beloved Ranch Dressing flavor profile!  This is also a great base to add other dried herbs to – basil, dill, oregano…the great thing about spices is that they are easy to play with and add so much flavor (and even some phytonutrients and vitamins!) for 0 calories.

DIY Ranch Seasoning Base:

  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 2 tablespoons freeze-dried chives
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Mix ’em up, and put them in an empty spice shaker…OR a ceramic spice cell (which I also make and sell – contact me if you’d like one!)