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Friday, March 30, 2012

Balsamic Swiss Chard

      This is a fast, easy, and super nutritious side.

      At the Farmer's Market on Saturday, Punky picked out a gorgeous bunch of colorful Swiss Chard from a local organic farmer.  I love Swiss Chard because it is so vibrant and beautiful in addition to being very, very good for you.

One bunch Swiss Chard (though you could do this with any fresh green - Kale, Spinach, Collards, Mustard Greens, etc.)
1 - 2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
One medium Onion
Half a Red Bell Pepper (optional, I added it b/c it was left over from the previous night's vegetarian Taco Salad)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp Grape Seed Oil or a splash of Veggie Broth to sautee in

      Dice the onion and let rest at least 5 minutes (I just trow it in the pam with the heat off). Chop the Chard. Do not discard the beautiful stems!  Dice the pepper.  Sautee the onion and pepper over med-high to high heat unti the onions start to brown.  Add the garlic and any other seasonings you desire.  I feel that simpler is better with this dish.

      Toss in the Chard and sautee until gently wilted.  Remove from heat.  Splash with balsamic and mix until evenly coated.  Serve immediately OR cool in the fridge for a cool summer lunch side.

       Please let me know if you try it!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Veggie Kabobs

       This is one of my favorite fast, easy dinners.  It takes a little forethought because you need a variety of veggies that aren't being saved for other meals to do it, but that's rarely a problem for Farmer's Market addicts like us.

       All you need is 4 - 6 different kinds of veggies, some Earth friendly re-usable skewers, a touch of olive oil (optional), and seasonings of your choice.  Last night, I used onion, zucchini, summer squash, broccoli, and cherry tomatoes.  I was really sad when I realized I forgot the pineapple chunks!  Other good choices include cauliflower, mushrooms, carrots, and all kinds of peppers.  That's another glory of this meal: it's so flexible that you can make it often, but it can always be different.  Especially if you have family members like MacGyver and Punky, who don't like to eat the same thing very often.

      Chop your veggies into hearty, bite sized chunks, keeping them big enough to easily skewer, but not too big to be bite sized.  I cut everything up into one big bowl so I can season it all together.

      I mist the veggies with just a touch of olive oil so the seasonings will stick.  Sprinkle with your chosen seasonings.  Last night I used garlic, pepper, garden fresh rosemary, and a touch of ground bay.  Be very careful with ground bay as it can cause upset stomachs. It's better to used bay leaves, you can even put the leaves on the skewers between the veggies.  Be creative with your spiced for variety.  I'm thinking of doing some Indian seasoning next time.

       Shake up the bowl to evenly distribute the seasonings, then just thread them onto the skewers in whatever kind of pattern you choose.  Older kids will enjoy doing their own, and littler ones can help pick their own veggies.

      Once your veggies are skewered, you can either throw them on the grill or broil them.  They are a great summer grilling out meal.  But last night time was my main concern, so I broiled them on a cookie sheet on high.  Broil for about 5 minutes (depending on your broiler), then turn.  Your goal is veggies that are just starting to brown all the way around.

      For even more variety, you can baste your veggies with a sauce.  Punky is a total BBQ addict, so as a special treat for her last night, I basted the veggies with BBQ sauce for the last couple minutes of cooking.  Use only sauces free of high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, and artificial colors.

       You can also use Teryaki, curry sauce, korma, etc.

       These are fun to eat right off the skewer, but easier if you slide them off into a bowl. 

      This is a really great, all veggie dinner, and it only takes about 20 minutes to cook, including veggie chopping!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

"Zucchini Noodle" Lasagna

      Oh, the wonders of Pinterest.  I saw this idea a few weeks ago and have been itching to try it. The recipe below is my own ethical, vegetarian take on it.

1 medium onion
2 cups diced mushrooms
2 cups cooked chopped spinach (you could also thaw frozen for this)
1 cup chopped asparagus (or veggie of your choice)
15 oz hydrated beans (or 1 can if you're not worried about BPA)
3 medium zucchinis
1 can diced tomatoes or the equivalent fresh/home canned
Seasonings to taste (garlic, oregano, pepper)
Optional : HUMANE cheese (something local, or Cabot or Organic Valley - do your research!)
Optional: HUMANE greek yogurt (Again maybe Cabot or Oikos)<
Optional: Seasoned breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 400

      As usual, all measurements are approximate and can be adjusted to taste.  Chop up you onion and put it in a large pot, NOT over heat (you want it to have at least 5 minutes off heat for max nutrition; the same applies if you're using fresh garlic and for most fresh herbs).
      Next dice the mushrooms and throw them in.

       Add the spinach, asparagus, beans, tomatoes, and seasonings. Simmer until juices are released and everything blends.  While this is happening, slice the zucchini into thin, lengthwise strips. I love my mandolin for jobs like this.
      Once the filling is ready, add a couple healthy dallops of the yogurt.   Stir in and allow to heat for a couple minutes. 
       Cover the bottom of your lasagna dish with a thin layer of the fulling mix.  Layer on the zucchini slices as you would lasagna noodles.  Add another layer of the filling, and another layer of zucchini.  Top with the last of the filling.  Cover with shredded cheese, or, for a vegan option, leave out the yogurt and substitute seasoned breadcrumbs for the cheese.

       Bake 20-25 minutes.  Enjoy!  Let me know if you try it.  This recipe is a lot healthier and faster than traditional lasagna, and by leaving the yogurt out and swapping breadcrumbs for the cheese, it becomes vegan and dairy free. 

       Anyone have any suggestions for making it gluten free?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Black Bean Burgers with Veggies

       Tonight, I made the delicious Black Bean Burgers from Happy Herbivore.  The are fast, easy, and have very few ingredients.  I added onions and garlic to the recipe.

       On the side, we had some of the most beautiful swiss chard I've ever seen.  I just wilted in gently by sauteeing it with a touch of garlic.  It is from one of our two favorite farms at the Farmer's Market - organic, local, and totally sustainable. This one is a very small family farm.  And swiss chard is packed with nutrients.  I always feel great after eating swiss chard.  The camera on my phone doesn't begin to capture the vibrant colors of this chard.

       For our green bean casserole, we use vegan cream of mushroom and local, organic beans.  I recommend Amy's brand for the cream of mushroom.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Veggie Stuffed Flax Bread

      Delicious, veggie filled, and fancy looking; this dinner centerpiece is easier than it looks.

       I took the easy way out and bought the bread.  Buy (or make) the biggest, roundest loaf you can find. 

Filling ingredients:
- zucchini
- squash
- onion
- shitake mushrooms
- turnip
- red bell pepper
- basil pesto
- rosemary, pepper, garlic

      I can't give specific amounts because it depends on the size bread loaf you have.  I used one of everything and about 2/3 cup of diced mushrooms.

      Dice the onion and let it sit.

      Slice the zucchini, squash, red pepper, and turnip lengthwise into wide slices.  Lay the slices out on lightly oiled cookie sheets, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with rosemary, garlic, and pepper.  The red pepper should be skin side up.

       Broil on high until it starts to brown.  In the meantime, dice the mushrooms and sautee them with the onions until the onions start to become translucent.  Cut the top off the bread and hollow our the loaf.  Save that bread to make my delicious homemade rosemary stuffing later!  Spread the inside of the loaf, including the top, with pesto.

      Once all the veggies are broiled and the mushrooms and onions sauteed, you just layer everything into the bread (with tongs! Don't burn yourself!).  Once the bread is stuffed with veggies, put the top back on and bake at 350 for just a few minutes, you don't want the bread to get to hard.

       Slice with a sharp knife to show off your creation!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Green Curry Vegetables

      It's no secret that I'm not a fan of processed foods, including jarred sauces.  The majority of them contain too much salt, sugar, or oil - not to mention preservatives and artificial colors, and most of them are much easier to make at home than people tend to think.

      That said, there are some nights when a mama (or daddy) just needs a break (these happen about once a week in our house!), and a good jarred sauce can be the answer to creating a delicious, healthy, homecooked meal in 20 minutes or so.

      For this reason, I always keep one or two jars of sauce in the cupboards.  I've sorted through and read the ingredient and nutrutional informations on dozens of sauces att the grocery store to try to find the most nutritious, and least processed, ones.  This is one of our favorites:

      World Foods Green Curry.

      It's also great for one of those nights when you've made everything on your meal plan, don't have much food in the house, and have no idea what to cook.

      Just take whatever veggies you have on hand - last night I had an onion, 5 organic carrots, 2 organic zuchinni, and a bag of frozen green beans on hand.  I was also going to add asparagus, but decided that would be better grilled on it's own.  So, you take what you have on hand, toss it in the wok (or big pot),  lightly stir fry it, add the sauce, and simmer for 10 minutes.  Bam.  Healthy and delicious.  I made ours with quinoa because it's high in protein.  And we were out of pretty much everything else...

       What kind of sauces do you build meals around?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Holiday Ham

      When I found out the family was coming for Christmas, I was very excited.  I immediately called Boo to talk about what they wanted to do while they were here.  I also asked him what he wanted for Christmas dinner.

      "Dangit!"  he exclaimed.  "I didn't even think of that."

      "Mom made the best honey ham for Easter, and I was really excited about having one for Christmas, but I guess that won't be happening at YOUR house."  READ MORE>>