Sesame Steak Salad

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Women in my life are always complaining about salads. They don’t like them. They leave them feeling hungry an hour later. They’re not worth the hassle of makingSAM_5859

My goodness. If I had a penny for every time I heard that, I could buy a lot of salads. And most of those salads would probably be the Thai Chopped Chicken Salad at St. Louis Bread Co. or Panera to those not from St. Louis.

And I’d give a lot more than a penny to hear a man long for a salad. When pigs fly…

Ever on my mission to spread some helpful advice, I give the sad salad Sallies (and Sams) of the world one word of advice: protein.

Protein keeps you full. It helps you build muscle and powers you through the day. SAM_5864

And if you add protein to your salads, you will enjoy them more and stay fuller longer.

When I threw together this Sesame Steak Salad the other day, I meant to add edamame–an excellent source of protein–and completely forgot. I wish I had, so if you’re considering following this recipe and have some on hand, it would be a great addition!

Ingredients

1.5 cups Romaine lettuce

3 oz. sliced steakSAM_5863

1/2 red pepper, sliced lengthwise

a few red onions, chopped or lengthwise slices

1 t sesame seeds

radishes and chopped cabbage to garnish (although the cabbage makes for a nice crispy crunch if you need that and want to avoid fried wonton strips)

Directions

-It’s a salad, so: lettuce first, veggies next, protein on top, sprinkle sesame seeds on top, and toss in dressing of your choice. If you’re taking this to work, you’ll want to add the dressing later so the salad doesn’t get soggy.

And in choosing a salad dressing, choose a good one. I love Newman’s Own Sesame-Ginger dressing. So good, good for you, and does good by giving proceeds to charity.

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Zucchini Mac-and-Cheese

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My foodie-paleo friend Sara and I went to a cooking class a few weeks back on gluten-free cooking. Okay, this recipe is not gluten-free, but it’s inspired by the class instructor’s zucchini pasta recipe–the one I mentioned a while back with the delicious cashew cream sauce, remember?SAM_5885

love zucchini in the summer and I’m always looking for smart, tasty ways to incorporate veggies in my pasta-protein dinners, which I eat almost every night. So zucchini works great with cream-based dishes. My little lactose intolerance problem usually steers me away from cream-based sauces, but every once in a while I splurge or hybridize the sauce to my stomach’s liking. That’s what I did here, and hopefully this solo-culinaire creation pleases others with similar dietary situations.

Ingredients

1/4 cup whole-wheat macaroni noodles, drySAM_5884

1/2 cup shredded zucchini

pinch of onion powder

1/2 t Dijon mustard

1 wedge of Swiss Laughing Cow cheese

3 T non-dairy cheese shreds

1/2 T Parmesan

dash of pepper

DirectionsSAM_5882

-Use my easy Mug’O’Mac recipe to boil your noodles quick! Just put your 1/4 cup of dry noodles in about 3/4 cups water and heat in the microwave for 3 minutes, stir, and then 2 more minutes in the microwave. Drain when finished.

-Once noodles are dry, toss in zucchini. Mix around.

-For the sauce, break up the cheese wedge into chunks and spread around, sprinkle on the cheese shreds, then the mustard, pepper, and onion powder go in. Heat in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. Remove and stir quickly. If still not melty enough, heat for another 15 seconds or so. Toss around until noodles are evenly coated. Serve warm and garnish with Parmesan!

S’ghetti Squash Bake

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I eat a lot of squash. I’m no paleo fanatic, but I can’t get over how much I love these sweet noodles. So tasty!SAM_5825

So I’ve had my eye on some spaghetti squash bakes for a while. I finally decided to try this one. A lot of them are overloaded with cheeses–which you know will make me so sick–but this one is fresh and zesty. Plus, a sprinkle of parm on top gives it a nice cheesy taste that won’t upset the lactose intolerant.

Interestingly… When I went to make these, I thought it would be cute to place them in a ramekin. (You know, to be more single-serving like.) Imagine my surprise when all the noodles could fit into 3! What does this tell me?

First, these would make adorable sides.

Second, I eat a lot of squash noodles on a regular basis. I usually eat an entire one–a small one, but an entire one no less. And maybe that’s another reason why I like them so much. You get a lot of food that will fuel your body in a healthy way. That’s pretty great.SAM_5844

And pretty tasty.

Ingredients

1 small or half of one medium spaghetti squash

1 small roma tomato or a handful of grape tomatoes

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2 T onion, chopped & to taste

1 T parmesan

chopped basil

dash of cayenne

1 T olive oil

spritz of lemon
DirectionsSAM_5848
-To “bake” the squash in the microwave, you’ll want to halve the squash and spritz with cooking spray. Microwave on high for 3 minutes facing down. Turn squashes upward and microwave another 3 minutes. You may need to microwave for another minute if you can’t take a fork to the squash and pull out a few tender noodles with ease. Scrape out all the noodles into a medium bowl and set aside.SAM_5835
-Meanwhile, prep ramekins by spraying with cooking spray and setting broilers on high.
-Meanwhile and meanwhile, you can start sautéing onions and tomatoes in a small frying pan with cayenne, to taste.
-Now once your squash is finished and your veggies sautéed, mix both together in one large bowl. Now spritz with lemon and toss in oil and basil.
-Dish out the squash mix evenly into ramekins. Top with a little Parmesan, if desired.
-Broil until desired crispiness is achieved. I waited about 4 minutes, once the Parmesan crumbs had melted down a bit.
-Serve right out of the oven, nice and warm.
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A Healthier Egg McMuffin

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Two or three things I know for sure (about food)…SAM_5804

An egg should not be a “patty,” a hockey puck, or in any other unidentified form.

Good cheese doesn’t have to be pumped with antibiotic-laden dairy.

Bread should be made with whole grains and wholly nourishing, not white, sugary, and processed.

And nothing should be fried in hydrogenated oils, ever.

But McDonald’s classic Egg McMuffin sandwich goes against all of this. We know this. So why do people still want to eat them?

I know for sure there are a lot of reasons why people still order these sandwiches. Lack of knowledge, will power, and delay gratification are just a few.SAM_5816

But another big one is time. Let me be the first to tell you, that time can be on your side. I made this, my Healthier Egg McMuffin, in a pinch. Here’s what you need and what to do:

Ingredients

2 eggs

1 slice of soy-based cheddar cheese

1 whole-wheat English Muffin

optional: turkey bacon, sausage, or other meat, preferably antibiotic free

DirectionsSAM_5810

-Pull out your two eggs. Get ’em ready. If you’re using the whole egg, you’ll probably have quite a bit left over. If you’re going egg whites only like I did, you’ll be right at a good amount.

-In a small skillet, turn the heat up to medium. It should get hot rather quickly. And when you can drop a few droplets of water on the skillet and watch them sizzle, then spritz with a good deal of cooking spray and crack the eggs over. Cook for about 2 minutes until the outer edges firm up, and then turn the pan a bit, letting the runny egg that remains cook to the outsides. When a fairly thick bottom has formed, you’ll be ready to flip. If you wait too long, it’ll stick to the bottom of the pan.

-Meanwhile, get the muffin ready by toasting it lightly.SAM_5812

-When the egg is cooked all the way through, remove and fold gently to fit to the size of the muffin. Lay cheese over the top and watch it melt.

Easy, right? Like 10 minutes or less easy. You can’t be that. It’s cheaper than a McMuffin, and a lot better for you, too! You won’t feel yucky and bloated afterward, and if your arteries could talk they’d probably say thanks, just sayin’.

Protein-Packed Enchilada and Beef Eggs

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Contrary to popular belief, I am not a vegetarian. But I rarely eat beef or a lot of red meat, so I can understand why so many assume I am.

But every once in a while, even this plant-preferring omnivore has a carnivorous moment.SAM_5519

The perfect storm one Wednesday afternoon around lunchtime. An open can of enchilada sauce to use, leftover strips of roast beef from a Mother’s Day outing, and a hankering for some much-needed protein of egg whites led me to a delicious reconnection with a breakfast meal traditionally reserved for the more carnivorous types.

It hit the spot, and all that protein is enough to keep you full for a long time. Here’s what I used and how I did it:

Ingredients

3-4 egg whitesSAM_5533

Dash of minced garlic

½ Roma tomato, few slivers of onion, and black olives

1 T enchilada sauce

1 oz. roast beef

Dash of chili powder, cumin

Optional: sliced spinach or cilantro to garnish

Directions

Prepare your eggs as you usually would. I scrambled, but you could make sunny-side up or anything else work. Remove from heat.SAM_5520

In a small skillet, heat a few drops of oil and add garlic, then onion, then tomato. Cut beef into thin strips and add that, too. Sprinkle with chili and cumin powders and let sit for a few minutes ‘til warmed through and fragrant.

Plate the eggs. Top with meat and sautéed veggies. Pour the enchilada sauce over the top and sprinkle on the olives and any other garnishes you’d like to add. Serve hot.

This would be so tasty with some avocado slices, but I didn’t have any on hand. Drats. Next time the protein craving hits, and I’m sure it will in due time.

Mandarin-Edamame Salad

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You always know it is potluck season when you see me posting recipes for groups. This could be easily made into single-serving recipe though, just cut everything back. Use your best judgment.SAM_5482

I was reading around on a bunch of foodie sites I found on Pinterest.com about edamame salads. I still have a lot of shelled edamame leftover from my nutrition study, and wanted to incorporate it into this group recipe.

The funny thing was that I gave up. With salads, you can follow an exact recipe or—as anyone can read in my culinary philosophies & such—you can do a little guess work and create something you like even better. Don’t get caught up in the tiny differences. Just go with your gut. Trust what you know about flavor pairings and you’ll surprise yourself.

That’s what I did this time. I knew ginger and sesame flavors are often paired with mandarin oranges or edamame. You don’t see both together often. Overwhelming?photo (1)

Hardly. My co-workers didn’t think so either. They raved about how much they liked my salad. Part of me wonders if it was the bright contrasts in colors. I’m still a firm believer that eating is 50% visual.

But part of me thinks it was the surprise of the beans with the fruit. Americans don’t see that much, but I think edamame can be bland and so the mandarins perked it up, plus some crunch red onions and sweet red peppers for pizazz.

Hope you like it as much as my co-workers did!

Ingredients

1 large or 3 small heads of romaine lettuce

½ cup red onion, sliced into strips

½ cup fresh mandarin oranges

½ cup shelled edamame

½ red pepper, sliced into strips

Newman’s Own Ginger Sesame Dressing

Optional: sprinkling of sesame seedsSAM_5479

Directions

Prepare lettuce as you normally would and place in large glass bowl.

Around the rim of the bowl, sprinkle the onions and the red peppers evenly.

In the center, add the edamame and then the oranges.

Sprinkle with sesame seeds if you’re using those. And at this point you can drizzle the dressing on, but I wanted to be kind to fellow potluckers like myself who hate with salads are drenched in dressing. That’s gross and inconsiderate, not to mention unnecessary, really. So I left it off and let them add as they liked. I know some people, like my step-dad, like their salads drenched, while others, like myself, do not. I always let guests choose because if I go light on the dressing, I know I’ll leave some wanting more.

You can toss the salad once you’re there, but again, presentation is key. I waited, was the first one to serve and so I tossed in front of them. Maintaining the pretty contrast in colors only heightened the experience, I’m sure.

Chipotle Black Bean Burgers

You know I love turkey burgers. Love them because they’re tasty, not a red meat, and quickly becoming a favorite in my family.SAM_5551

 

I also love a good veggie burger or bean burger. The spice in those patties is usually phenomenal–maybe because they have a lot of skeptics?

What I don’t love is that restaurants often make them in a way that’s super caloric and overdone, sometimes dressing them up too much or making them too large and squishy to enjoy.

Maybe that’s why I’ve avoided them for so long. I never thought it would be an easy recipe. I’ve also had my fair share of goopy bean burgers, and well those are just gross.

Then I found myself with about 5 cans of black beans leftover from that nutrition study and no great ideas for how to use them. I found this black-bean burger recipe from Ari’s Menu on Pinterest.com, and I thought, “Why not?”

Ari’s version supposedly crumbled easy, but I was surprised because mine didn’t at all. Maybe it’s because I ground the beans down a bit more than normal–I’ve adapted this one quite a bit. Or maybe my preference for broiling them is what helped them emulsify better? I’m not certain, but I’m happy they didn’t get goopy and fall apart.SAM_5535

Try them! You’ll love them, especially for a quick Meatless Monday dinner.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 ccup black beans, drained and rinsed
  • dash of minced garlic
  • a dash of each: chili powder, cumin, onion powder, red pepper flakes
  • 2 t ground oats or 1 t cornmeal
  • a few cilantro leaves, chopped
  • dash of hot sauce

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to broil. Lightly grease a broil-safe pan. Set aside.
  2. Place all ingredients in your food processor. Blend for 20-30 seconds until combined. Remove and set on a plate or other clean surface for molding. Use your hands to form the patty, being sure not to make the patty too thin or too thick. I recommend about 1/2 an inch in thickness and well packed.SAM_5554
  3. Place on pan and broil for about 3 minutes on one side, 2 on the other. Serve immediately on a toasty bun with all your favorite veggies and a little more hot sauce if you’re feeling crazy.
  4. If you have a can with 3 to 3.5 servings you can go ahead and triple the ingredients to make extra. The directions will stay the same, just be sure to serve warm. Or if you’re a singleton like me (with no roomates or family members to serve) store leftovers in refrigerator for up to one week, or 3 months in the freezer.

Do It Yourself: Healthy Doritos

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I am not gluten-free, but I love the creativity of gluten-free cooks. You can learn so much about cooking when you’re forced to be resourceful due to limited options.SAM_5531

At a “Gourmet and Gluten-Free” class my friend Sara and I attended in mid-May at Wheatsfield Co-op in Ames, we learned that a delicious, dairy- and gluten-free Alfredo sauce can be made with cashews and gets its cheesy flavor from…

Nutritional yeast? Really?

It was true! We tried it and it was so delicious. The flavor was more robust, I’d say, and my lactose-fussy tummy and her anti-gluten tummy weren’t churning in pain, much to our pleasant surprise.

The health coach mentioned that the cheesy flavor comes from the nutritional yeast, and she often adds it to the chia trips she makes in her dehydrator, which we also sampled (and found delicious).

So I thought I’d try this on my usual baked tortilla chip recipe.photo (2)

You know, because I still have a bajillion and five tortillas left from that high-fiber study I participated in this spring. My freezer will never be tortilla-less it seems.

So for those needing a Dorito fix—or just a change of pace from your normal chip—try this new, cheesy favorite of mine.

Ingredients

1 tortilla

A little cooking spray

1 t chili powder

1 t cumin

½ t garlic powder

1 packet of nutritional yeast

DirectionsSAM_5523

-Preheat broilers to high. Lightly grease a cooking sheet. Set aside.

-Using a pizza cutter, slice your tortilla into as many triangles as you can manage. Separate and transfer to prepared sheet. Spritz the other side with a little cooking spray.

-Sprinkle each spice evenly over the chips, using the order listed. The nutritional yeast should be sprinkled last and use your best judgment as to how much. I used most of the packet, but you may want less. If you prefer to have both sides coated—I don’t because flavor on one side is enough for me—flip and season the other side.

-Pop them in. My broiler toasts both sides perfectly in about two minutes flat. They’re thin, so they crisp up fast. Watch them. If you’re baking at a lower temperature, start with 7 minutes, checking every 1-2 minutes after that. Take them out once they’re golden brown and crispy.

Gluten-Free Enchiladas

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The cabbage kick is more or less over, but during my fascination I snapped a few pics of all the crazy recipes I tried.SAM_5423

Okay, they’re not that crazy. But because the Standard American Diet is something that doesn’t feature many veggies, especially not as grain replacements, it seems odd.

With this recipe, I boiled cabbage leaves as tortilla wrappers and used some leftover enchilada sauce from my Enchi-lotta Pasta recipe to make a quick and satisfying lunch.

Ingredients

4-5 Cabbage leaves

3 oz. cooked taco meat (turkey is what I went with!)

¼ cup enchilada sauceSAM_5426

Olives for topping

Optional: cheese

Directions

Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil. Add in leaves and boil ‘til tender.

Meanwhile, you can be preparing your taco meat. I added in lots of mix-ins to add more bulk, so onions, sautéed tomatoes and kale. If you need a healthy taco seasoning in a pinch, try my recipe for Preservative –Free Taco Seasoning.Preservative-Free Taco Seasoning

During this time, you’ll also want to get your oven ready. You can either broil the enchiladas on high if you need it faster (as I usually do) or preheat to 400 degrees. Prepare a pan with cooking spray.

When leaves are boiled and tapped dry and taco meat prepared, spoon equal portions of meat on the end of each leaf. Tuck in the sides and roll, leaving the end of the leaf tucked under the bottom so it doesn’t come undone. Transfer to pan. Drizzle the enchilada sauce and olives over the top.

If broiling, you only need only a few minutes. If baking, you’ll want longer, probably 18-22 minutes or until the leaves become somewhat translucent and crispy.

Moroccan Lentil Soup

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“Lots of lentils means lots of filling fiber.”SAM_5357

Or so wrote the editors of Eating Well in this year’s February issue. Can’t have enough of that, right? plus all the delicious spices that come with this recipe–somewhat adapted to my personal preferences–featured along a half dozen or so other soups they featured. I wanted to try them all.

Unfortunately I don’t have that much time.

I do, however, have a lot of lentils in my cupboard. And so, Moroccan Lentil Soup was in order.

IngredientsSAM_5351

  • 1 t olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions and carrots
  • dash of minced garlic
  • dash of each spice: cumin, coriander, ground turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper
  • 1 cup vegetable broth or reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2/3 cup chopped cabbage
  • 1/4 cups lentils
  • 1 roma tomato, diced
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh kale
  • a little chopped cilantro
  • 1 big squeeze of lemon juice

DirectionsSAM_5348

-In a medium pot (yes, a pot), heat oil; sautee first two veggies and tomatoes ’til tender with garlic. Then add in spices one at a time.

-Add in liquids, cabbage, and lentils. Boil until the lentils are almost perfectly tender. Turn down to a simmer, about 10 minutes at that heat.

-Stew in the kale a few minutes before serving, along with lemon juice and cilantro.

Pretty easy, yes? And it makes one HUGE portion. Okay, maybe more like two. But with so many healthy veggies, you should probably eat the whole thing and get those vegetable serving counts in any way. It’s good for you 😉