Sesame Ginger Soba Noodles

Last week, I went down to Marshfield to hang out with my sister, and babysit my niece Maggie, and nephew James. We played outside on the swing set, ran around the yard,  played hokey pokey in the sprinkler, laid on the hammock, and talked about our favorite things. Favorite colors, favorite animals, favorite songs, favorite movies, and of course – favorite food. If you were to ask Maggie any day, anytime “what would you like to eat”, chances are it will be met with a very enthusiastic “NOODLES!”. I don’t know why, but it makes me laugh every time. If she could eat noodles for every meal, she would be the happiest girl in the world.

As I mentioned in the Spaghetti squash post, I too have a love for noodles. Perhaps not as strong as Maggie’s, but it’s still there.  So this week, I decided to make one of my favorite noodle dishes, Sesame Ginger Soba Noodle Salad. You can really put anything on this, but I kept it pretty simple with just veggies.

In my opinion, it’s the perfect summer salad.  Not only is it packed with healthy veggies and ingredients, but it is so easy to make, there is essentially NO way to mess this one up.  My favorite recipes are brainless ones.  My one goal when cooking is: DO NOT BURN DOWN THE HOUSE.  If I have a home at the end of the night, I have succeeded in my cooking goals. Also, I don’t want to use 30 bowls and utensils, and pots and pans, MAKE the clean-up easy.  Especially as we head into the hotter temps – nobody wants to be sweating over the sink cleaning pots and pans.

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SESAME SOBA NOODLE SALAD
*makes plenty for leftovers

INGREDIENTS:
2 bunches Soba Noodles (I use KAME brand – it comes with two packages inside.  I use both so I have leftovers!)
2c. thinly sliced Shiitake mushrooms
3 Baby bok choy
½ c. edamame
1c. Snow Peas (give or take)
1c. Shredded carrots
3 scallions finely chopped
2 medium Garlic cloves
¼ c. Sesame Seeds
Olive Oil

Sauce:
¼ c. Reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce
2T Toasted sesame oil
3T Rice Vinegar
1T Honey
2t Freshly grated ginger
1t Chili garlic sauce or Sriracha

DIRECTIONS:

  1. To make the dressing, whisk to combine all ingredients, and set aside.
  2. Cook noodles according to package directions, and set aside until veggies are done.
  3. Add 1-2T Olive oil to pan, and sautée garlic until aromatic, then add mushrooms, peas, carrots, base of scallions (leave the darker greens for garnish), and bok choy. Stir occasionally, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until veggies begin to soften, and bok choy leaves begin to wilt just slightly.
  4. Add the noodles to the pan of veggies, and add 3/4 of dressing to the pan. Stir to combine ingredients, and let simmer for 3-5 minutes, or until the sauce has cooked into the rest of the dish.  Add the edamame and cook for one additional minute.
  5.  Transfer to large bowl, add the remaining dressing and sesame seeds, stir to combine.

This dish can be served, hot, room temp or cold…so really there is no BAD way to eat these noodles.

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

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I know, I know…this isn’t really acorn squash season, but whatever – it’s delicious. This was actually a recipe I made a while back, but never posted – and thought you guys might like it! I’m a huge fan of foods that carry other foods. Soup served in bread bowls, stuffed mushrooms, stuffed peppers, tacos…lol.

I love acorn squash. It just feels like comfort food. No matter how you cook it, it’s just makes you say “mmmmm” and smile a little. It’s naturally quite sweet, but still takes on so many rich flavors. I love pairing it with earthier sides like barley, wild rice, quinoa, etc to balance it’s natural sweetness. It doesn’t need a ton of seasoning, but when done right, it elevates to a whole new level of deliciousness.

Typically, I slice up my acorn squash into cute little half moons, sprinkle them with whatever flavor profile suits my cravings – sometimes sweet with maple syrup (that’s definitely a treat), sometimes curry, or cinnamon, sometimes a kick with some chili or chipotle thrown in there.  But when I made this, I decided on stuffing the bowl with Quinoa, spinach, chopped up portobello mushrooms, onion and garlic.  Topped with a balsamic glaze, and it was pretty phenomenal.

INGREDIENTS:
1 Acorn Squash – halved, & seeds scooped out
2 Medium Cloves Garlic – minced
1/2c. Quinoa – uncooked
1c. Baby Spinach
1 Portobello cap – chopped into small pieces
1/4c. chopped red onion
1/2c. Balsamic Vinegar
Olive Oil
1T butter
*little bit of shaved parmesan (optional)

 

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DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat meat of the squash with 1 tbsp oil, sprinkle with pinch each salt and pepper and place meat side down on a large baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, cook quinoa according to package directions
  • when the quinoa is almost done, add 1T olive oil and butter to a small skillet, add garlic until aromatic, then add mushrooms until they begin to cook through, and onions until they become soft.  Lastly, add the spinach until it begins to wilt. This should all take about 5-6 minutes or so.
  • Once quinoa is done, mix this in with the mushroom/onion/spinach mix and mix around on SUPER low heat, this is just to let the flavors all mix together and stay warm.  Take off the heat and set aside until the Squash have finished cooking.
  • Remove the squash from the oven, flip them over, and fill them with the mixture, sprinkling the optional shaved parmesan on top.  Put them back in the oven for an additional 10 minutes or so.
  • While they are back in the oven, you will make the balsamic glaze.  In a small pan, add 1/2c. balsamic vinegar, and wait for it to boil.  Once boiling, lower temp and keep at a simmer for about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and let it get all saucy.  I found that it was almost ready after those 8 minutes – I prefer mine to be a bit runnier though.
  • Remove squash from the oven, and drizzle glaze over the top, and enjoy!

 

 

Sweet Potato Fries

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No matter how busy I am, I always ALWAYS have sweet potatoes in some form in my refrigerator ready to eat at any meal.  These come in various forms depending how I feel, Sometimes little cubes like a hash, sometimes big thick steak fry style, sometimes skinny little shoestring fries, sometimes if I’m feeling up to it, I will even make some sweet potato mash.  But regardless of it’s form, sweet potatoes are usually my first step in meal prepping because if something happens (I am quite literally ALWAYS assuming some catastrophic event is going to interrupt whatever I am doing), I will at least have my sweet potatoes done.  I’ve always done them the same way, but I was browsing around the interweb the other day, and saw a couple tricks I wanted to try out to see if they had any merit.  These may be common knowledge to some, but it wasn’t for me, my mind was blown that I could have been making EXTRA crispy fries this whole time and had not yet been told of these tricks!

TRICK #1 – SOAK YOUR FRIES
Once you have cut the fries, place them in a bowl of ice cold water so the potatoes are covered, and leave them there for an hour.  Now, some say hot water, some say cold…so I tried the cold this time around.  By soaking them, some of the starches are pulled out into the water.  This starch can hinder moisture escaping from the potato, so when it’s baking, it may leave the moisture in the fry…which recuses the crisp-factor.  Once you have soaked them, make sure to rinse, and pat dry before cooking.

 

TRICK #2 – PARCHMENT PAPER
Okay, so perhaps this one was a no-brainer.  I have always just put them directly on the sheet pan, but nope…the parchment paper crisps these babies up niiiice.

TRICK #2 – LEAVE ‘EM IN THE OVEN
When the timer goes off…turn off the oven, and leave them in there for another 5-10 minutes.  Again…perhaps this is common knowledge, but I somehow missed this memo.  So now I know.

TRICK #3 – SALT AFTER BAKING
I have gotten into the habit of salting things prior to cooking them.  Which for some things works!  But apparently salting those potatoes before baking them reduces the crispiness of the potatoes…so I gave it a shot!

Now…I don’t know which of any of these were most effective since I did them all on the same batch – perhaps I could have taken a more scientific approach by doing small batches with one trick per batch…but I just went all in, and the results were delicious.  Crispy, delicious, and absolutely perfect (well, as perfect as fries can be without that sweet sweet delicious deep fryer from heaven action).  Some of you are probably shaking your head at my naiveté in the world of cooking – how could I POSSIBLY not know these tricks.  But lemme tell ya somethin’…and I’m not ashamed to admit it…I know very little about a lot of things, and tricks in the kitchen is most definitely on that list. 

Below is the “recipe” for the sweet potato fries…not so much a recipe as directions, but here it goes!

INGREDIENTS:
2 Small-medium sweet potatoes, sliced into whatever size fry you want (I went on the thinner side)
2-3T arrowroot powder (or 1-2t. corn starch)
Cayenne, cinnamon, thyme, rosemary, turmeric, garlic powder, or any other SALT-FREE seasoning that you like (we’re adding salt at the very end)
Olive oil
Fine sea salt

DIRECTIONS:

  • Cut the potatoes to your desired shape/size, and place in a mixing bowl with ice cold water.  Let sit for about an hour. Once finished, drain water, rinse potatoes, and pat them completely dry.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Once dried, toss the sweet potatoes in either arrowroot powder or corn starch, then sprinkle in the seasonings of your choice.
  • Place the potatoes on the parchment lined baking sheet, allowing them to have their space – no piles of potatoes here…they will crisp up better if they aren’t touching each other. Drizzle potatoes with olive oil.
  • Bake the sweet potatoes for about 25 minutes, flip them, and then add another 15-20 minutes.  By this time, they should have some browning on them, but if they are not baked to your liking, simply add a little more time!
  • Once timer goes off, turn off the oven, and leave them in there for another 5-7 minutes or so.
  • Take them out of the oven, and sprinkle a little salt over them.  If they do not feel crispy right away…sometimes letting them sit for a minute or so out of the oven will help with that.  When they are piping hot, they usually won’t feel too crisp.  So just exercise your patience, and don’t burn your mouth by eating them RIGHT out of the oven!

 

Obviously you can eat these hot, but since I make up about 5-6 potatoes worth at a time, I let them cool a bit then put them in the fridge for the week.  I usually make 2 potatoes worth of fries, the rest I dice up because they tend to keep a little better, and store better – fries won’t stay cripsy forever in the refrigerator…they kind of turn into limp potato noodles, the little chopped cubes hold their shape a bit better over time.

I know, this was simple, and most of you probably already do EXACTLY this, but maybe you don’t, and maybe you just need some new kitchen tricks, maybe you just need to get some super basic meal prep ideas…whatever your reason is for being here, still reading this very long post…I appreciate it, and hope that you enjoy these potatoes as much as I do!

 

 

 

 

 

Garlic Hummus

Surpise, surprise!!  GARLIC!!  lol.  You may have caught on by now, that I will be happy IMG_3654 2with just about anything flavored with garlic.  YOU CANNOT GO WRONG.  However, if you are not into it, you can leave the garlic out for a more traditional flavor of hummus. Here’s the great thing about hummus though.  1) It usually leads me to make better choices with my food/snacks.  If I’m eating hummus, I’m probably dipping a veggie in it, or using it on a sandwich as a spread (usually instead of mayo), on a burger, you can put it on pizza instead of sauce, and the best part is, with all the flavor options you can create with this versatile spread, you can get pretty creative with how you want to use it!

Hummus is one of those things that is SUPER easy to make, but so many people don’t make it, and it’s usually because they don’t have one of the ingredients…tahini.  Every other ingredient you for sure have in the house already.  It takes about 5 minutes to make and you are set with a batch of hummus that will taste better than what you get at the store!  So here it goes!

INGREDIENTS:IMG_3652
1/4c. Lemon Juice
1/4c. Tahini (I used Sesame King Roasted Tahini)
2-3T Olive Oil
1 large clove Garlic – minced
1/2t. Salt
1/2t. Cumin
1/4t. Black Pepper
1 can Garbanzo Beans (chick peas) rinsed and drained
2-3T water

DIRECTIONS:

  • In a food processor, combine lemon juice and tahini.  Turn on and process for about 1 minute until it becomes light and creamy.
  • Add the olive oil, garlic, salt, cumin, and black pepper.  Continue to process for 30 seconds, scrape down the sides of the food processor, then process for another 30 seconds.
  • Add half the garbanzo beans, process for 1 minute, scrape down sides.  Process for another 30 seconds.  Add the other half of the beans, process for 1 minute, scrape down sides.  Add water as needed to make the hummus a bit creamier if it is too thick, but this is personal preference.  Start with just a little, then keep adding small bits – remember, you can always add more, but if you add too much water, you can’t take it out!  Once the desired amount of water is there, process for another 1-2 minutes.
  • Serve in a bowl, or store in an airtight container.  If serving, garnish with a little extra olive oil, or some fresh herbs.

I added my hummus to this delicious sandwich packed with veggies!
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Shaved Brussels & Kale Salad

It’s around this time of the year, when Spring weather is JUUUUST around the corner, but it is the longest corner ever…when I crave a big salad (and warm weather, maybe a beach, and some kind of drink with a little umbrella in it).  My current salad obsession is adding shaved brussels sprouts mixed in with the greens for my salad.  Today’s salad combines these with chopped kale, and keeps it super simple for the rest.  I had this plain, but adding grilled chicken, some shrimp, fish, crumbled bacon (for one particular person who squinched her face at the idea of a salad of Brussels sprouts and kale….you know who you are).  I found this recipe on Lasting Ingredient, but made a couple simple adjustments and changed up the dressing.  Another bonus of this recipe?? It’s another one of those “you-might-have-all-the-ingredients-already” kind of recipes! IMG_3647

INGREDIENTS:
1c. Kale – chopped
2lbs Brussels sprouts – shaved thinly with mandolin, food processor (with slicing disc) or just finely slice with knife (which is what I did since I don’t have either of the other options 😉
1/2 Small red onion – thinly sliced
1/4c. Walnuts – roughly chopped
1/3c. Pecorino Cheese – I used shaved, but grated would probably work best!

DRESSING:
1/2t. finely grated lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon
1t. Dijon Mustard
1/4t. Salt
1/4c. Olive Oil
1/2t. Dried Oregano
Black Pepper to taste
1 Medium Garlic clove – minced (I lightly sautéed mine to soften the flavor a bit – just until aromatic) **Garlic is optional

DIRECTIONS:

  • For the dressing – lightly sautée the garlic in a little of the olive oil until just aromatic. In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, dijon mustard, lemon zest, salt, pepper, and oregano,  stir in the garlic, then slowly whisk in the rest of the olive oil.
  • In the same pan, VERY quickly (only about 1 minute, sautée the kale and red onion – this is optional, but I like to soften it up JUST a bit, but this is just personal preference.
  • In a large bowl, add the shaved brussels sprouts, kale, red onion, pecorino, walnuts, and toss with the dressing.

Simple, delicious, and quick!

What would you add to your salad??  Or would you keep it as is?

Crunchy Veggie Quinoa Salad

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This week, I found myself in an interesting situation.  I prepped for a completely different meal to post about (and it WILL be posted someday), cooked it, and something seemed a bit off with the oven.  So…after my friendly Eversource guy came through, I am currently not able to use my stove, and will hopefully be back to cooking soon once I have a new oven!!

But, as I brought up to my nutrition group, these are the kind of situations that can sometimes throw people off their healthy eating/diet/nutrition plans.  What happens when you all of a sudden cannot cook? When the pans you had for your meals this week are now not possible? When the microwave is your only source of heating up food?  Well, you scrap the plans you had, and figure out something else.

So, we are in for another vegetarian meal this week, and I am not complaining at all!! I first found this recipe on a site called AvocadoPesto.com, made just a couple modifications to it, and here we have an amazing quinoa salad (never cooked quinoa in the microwave before…who really needs a stove anyway?)

Can you please for a moment appreciate all gorgeous color???  Okay.  Moving on.  One of the modifications I made to the recipe on AvocadoPesto, is I doubled it…because after just looking at it online I already knew I would want more than a couple servings.

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This can be used as a meat-free dish, but to be honest, I would love some grilled chicken mixed in here!  While this does take a bit more prep time (lots of chopping), I don’t mind, because the end result is fresh and crunchy and absolutely delicious. PLUS…it’s basically a two bowl dish – one for the quinoa, one for the dressing, so my only clean-was the two bowls, a knife and the cutting board.  Doesn’t get easier than that!

INGREDIENTS:
yields about 4-5c. quinoa salad…so a lot.  
1c. Broccoli finely chopped
2c. Quinoa cooked according to package instructions
3/4 small red onion, diced (raw or very lightly sautéed – use your personal preference)
1/2c. Carrots, grated
1.5 Handful Cilantro, chopped
1/2c. Chopped Green Onions
1/4c. Slivered Almonds (original recipe called for peanuts which would be yummy too!)

DRESSING:
1 Lime – juice & zest (+ more juice to taste)
2t Sesame Seeds
2T Guten Free Tamari
2T Sesame Oil
2T Rice Vinegar
3 cloves garlic. minced, and very lightly sautéed
1 inch piece of Ginger, minced – add this bit by bit to taste – a little bit goes a long way.
1T honey (optional: I added this because I only had a little ginger – sweetened it up a bit)

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Directions:
1. In large mixing bowl, combine quinoa, raw broccoli, red onion, carrots, cilantro, green onion, almonds, and gently mix it up until it’s all combined.

2. In small bowl whisk together all ingredients for dressing

3.  Pour dressing over quinoa salad, and serve warm!  (I’m pretty sure it will also be delicious cold!)

4. Store any leftovers in an airtight container, or even better, divide it up into small containers to bring to work with you for lunch!

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Enjoy!

 

 

Breakfast made simple

We are back at it – posting weekly recipes, partially fueled by Hannah’s most recent ProCoach nutrition cohort that started this past week, but also because we have admittedly been less than consistent here. So, we are starting by posting a recipe up each week, and building from there. The goal with these recipes is not to give you the most extravagant meals you have ever seen, but to bring to you simple, healthy recipes that will set you up to succeed with your daily meal planning. Some will be “meal prep” style foods, some will be side dishes, crock pot dishes, soups, some will be veggie prep ideas, breakfasts, desserts, you name it, anything goes. So here goes entry #1, and we look forward to many delicious meals in the months ahead!

When clients reach out  to us about their nutrition, one common theme has to do with breakfast. Either they don’t know what to eat in the morning, or they feel that for some reason breakfast takes SO LONG to make that they just don’t have time in the morning.  There is always something that keeps them from starting the day out with some food in their belly.

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The truth is, breakfast is probably the fastest and easiest meal of the day, and you will hear us say this over and over…keep it simple, and set yourself up for success! If you google “quick healthy breakfast”, this will probably be one of the first things that pops up, which is one of the reasons why we wanted to start here. Egg muffin cups LITERALLY take about 5-10 minutes to prep, pop them in the oven, and you have breakfast for the week.

I did three different flavors since I get bored easily from eating the same thing every day, but have fun with it, mix it up with colorful veggies, add a little cheese, throw some meat in there with the veggies if that’s your style. I chose the following three:

Spinach & Pepper
Mushroom & Scallion
Tomato & Basil


INGREDIENTS:
(yields about 8 egg muffin cups)
6 eggs
milk (I used unsweetened almond milk as an alternative to regular milk)
your choice of vegetables, meat or cheese
salt & pepper (to taste)

RECIPE: 

  • Preheat oven to 375 & spray muffin tin with cooking spray then set aside – only spray 8 cups unless you add more egg to fill the rest of the spots
  • Chop up all veggies/meat you intend to use into small pieces, including greens.
  • Combine eggs & milk (as if you were making scrambled eggs), salt & pepper into bowl, and whisk it up.
  • Pour egg mixture evenly into muffin tin to about the half way mark
  • Sprinkle ingredients into each egg cup, I like to go a bit heavy on the veggies, but if you like an eggy muffin, then do it up! The muffin tins should be about 3/4 full once ingredients are added.
  • Bake the egg cups in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until they are solid.

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Store in an airtight container, or divide them up into ziplock bags for an easy grab-n-go breakfast! I will usually warm them up a bit in the morning. These are a savior on many  rushed mornings. The pictures don’t do them justice, they are absolutely delicious!

I hope you enjoy them!  Comment here with different ingredients you have tried!

 

-TCU

 

SUPER SALAD

I was on my way to meet up with my sister for a picnic, and realized I should probably bring some food.  But being a single gal with a single guy’s fridge, and about 15 minutes until her arrival, I ran to the market to hopefully grab some stuff from the pre-made salad section (I know…shudder) for me and my vegetarian (meaning: no hotdogs or burgers allowed) sister.  Scanning their selection, I ordered some greek salad, an interesting bean salad, and a kale salad, which looked the most promising, but since it was from the Star Market deli, I wasn’t getting my hopes up.

I know, I know – I am not one for any pre-made anything from Star Market, but I figured you can’t go wrong with a few salads, and to my complete surprise, the kale salad was actually not bad!  There were a few things I wished were a bit different, the dressing, the toppings, etc…but the general idea?  Hell yeah I liked it!  So while the recipe below isn’t exactly the Star Market exact recipe, I think it may be a bit better, a bit healthier, and definitely fresher.  I usually make enough of this to last a couple days, putting the dressing on the whole salad at once so the flavors all absorb together over a day or so.

This has quickly become one of my favorite salads as it is bright, and full of flavor, and I know that each time I eat it I am refueling my body with everything my body needs to keep these workouts on track!

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INGREDIENTS:

There aren’t really any set measurements for this – it’s a salad – no need to measure here…you can’t really do this wrong.  I like to go a little heavy on the blueberries & almonds, and a little light on the craisins, but that’s just me!

Kale – spines removed and chopped to your preference – I like it in super small bites
Broccoli Slaw – I cheat on this – one time I made it from scratch, but it took way too much time and caused a MESS – then I saw that they sold it in the market in a bag – it’s shaved broccoli, red cabbage and carrots, and it’s ready to go for you. I will sometimes lightly sautee this and let it come back to room temp prior to putting it in the salad as sometimes the broccoli tends to be a bit rough for my liking.
Blueberries
Craisins
Sliced Almonds (if making a large salad to store for later, I leave these off and add them each time I serve the salad so they don’t get soggy from the dressing)

Optional Additions:

Avocado:  as if this is ever REALLY optional…
Chicken, Steak, etc…I tried it once with fish…but it is a little too much to be paired with a light fish in my opinion – needs the heartiness of some meat to be an equal match on the plate.

 

Dressing: Shallot/White Wine Vinaigrette

2T White Wine Vinegar
2t dijon mustard
salt & pepper to taste (about ½ t)
1 minced shallot
gradually whisk in ⅓ – ½ c olive oil

As with any dressing – doubling it is super easy.  I like to make mine in a mason jar so I can just shake it up instead of dealing with a whisk (anything to save on some dishes), and that way if you make a ton extra, you can just store it right in the jar for next time!
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