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Sweet Potato Crostini with Toasted Walnuts and Tahini

Sweet Potato Crostini with Toasted Walnuts and Tahini

Ain’t no party like a sweet potato party. Or a crostini party. Or a tahini party. Or a Friendsgiving party. Or a Thanksgiving soiree with all your family members you see but once or twice per year and still don’t really know what to talk about besides sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes and stuffing.

Sweet Potato Crostini with Toasted Walnuts and Tahini

I can’t say I’m a fan of the word ain’t. (In fact, I had to look up its spelling just for this blog post.) But, I’m a huge fan of parties, even those semi-strange family ones, and I’m  equally a fan of all the ingredients listed above.

Tahini. Sweet potatoes. Honey. Toasted walnuts and baguette. Now that’s a party in a single, not-entirely-too-awkward bite to eat.

I.e., you’re going to want to put this guy on your Thanksgiving party plate list.

Sweet Potato Crostini with Toasted Walnuts and Tahini

Aside from crostini packages that offer a ton of flavor in one fork-and-spoon-free bite, I’m a huge fan of healthy appetizers. Let’s face it, parties aren’t always the most health-friendly activities, Thanksgiving included. In fact, recent research for my day job informed me that the average American consumes 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving Day, or the equivalent of the calories you’d use to jog 10 hours straight. Yowza. That’s a party in which I’m not too interested.

Luckily, this recipe packs in the nutrition, sneaking in a little protein while it’s at it. That bean-powered protein and creamy sweet potato fiber will keep you satisfied till the main meal arrives, and keep you feeling good, too.

If that sounds great to you, I invite you to kick off your next party FFFreshAir style, and let this crostini start your taste bud tango. I promise, it’s got way better dance moves than I do.

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Roasted Eggplant Hummus with Toasted Cumin

Roasted Eggplant Hummus with Toasted Cumin

Real talk here – emojis are one of the best attributes to ever appear in the smartphone world. It’s not infrequent that I’m texting half in emoji-speak, and dying in my bed from my own emoji-induced laughter.

Emojis are great, and so are the other goofs who can appreciate them as much as I do. Hopefully that’s you, otherwise you’re probably praying for my sanity right now.

Roasted Eggplant Hummus with Toasted Cumin

While I am forever anticipating the creation of a carrot emoji, I can say I frequently get down with the eggplant icon while I wait. Its purple radiance, with its bright green top, does wonders to add life to my muted text messages.

Eggplant emojis, for the win.

Japanese eggplant

You know what else is an eggplant win? When you add its roasted form to your hummus. You’ll find a recipe for that below, which is essentially a babaganoush meets hummus situation that can only be described as yum-o.

Roasted Eggplant Hummus with Toasted Cumin

By adding roasted eggplant into the chickpea mix, you create a slightly creamier spread to smear across your toasted bread or pita. I wanted to throw a little texture back in, so I toasted up some cumin seeds and added them, too. Like poppy seeds on a cracker, their small pop works well here, and really takes the spice infusion to another level. The toasty aromatics and nuttiness you derive from the whole form of cumin seed is worth the extra step.

Spread on pita with thinly sliced cabbage, spinach, and maybe some feta, too, or serve simply as is with warm, toasted bread and a drizzle of EVOO.

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Healthy Pumpkin Recipe Roundup

‘Tis the season for pumpkin-everything. I much prefer mine in its whole form as opposed to its pseudo form, and so I give an annual “no thank you” to the kind that’s making appearances in places it shouldn’t be. No thank you “pumpkin” cream cheese. No thank you high fat “pumpkin” lattes. Yes please, pumpkin curry, pumpkin soup, pumpkin dessert, and everything else you’ll find down below.

Pumpkin does have its place, and I can certainly jump on the October pumpkin bandwagon, as long as it’s showing up on the right spoon. Are you with me?

If so, great. Let’s be friends. Let’s also dive into this pumpkin recipe roundup together containing some of my all-time favorite pumpkin creations. Here, you’ll find a little something for everyone (gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan), all meals, and occasions. You’ll also find a few pumpkin-y desserts, which are for sure worth the annual indulgence. That vegan pumpkin custard might be one of my favorite recipes of my repertoire, and it takes just 20 minutes and one pan to make! So come on already, pass over the pumpkin, please.

Pumpkin Coconut Overnight Oats

Pumpkin Coconut Overnight Oats

Breakfast made easy-peasy, creamy and delicious.

Pumpkin Pie Muffins

 Pumpkin Pie Muffins

Breakfast, lunch, snack-time, dessert…you name it. These half-whole-wheat, part-pumpkin-filled muffins, will make you feel good about the pastry in your hands.

Sage Pumpkin Hummus

Sage Pumpkin Hummus

 I love flavor variations of hummus. This one speaks of a harvest fall. Throw some toasted pita by its side and you have a wonderful appetizer for any gathering of the season.

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Artichokes with Creamy Vegan Dipping Sauce

I caught the tail end of artichoke season and finally succumbed to buying one of the steeply priced suckers.  I guess the flight from California orients the price tag, sending it a little out of my range. But the taste of an artichoke definitely proves worthy of a splurge, at least for one occasion during the season.

A simple steam and lemon oil/butter is really all you need to savor the delightful flavor of an artichoke.  Easy.

The steam part is definitely an essential. Unless you’re trying to get down with a tough, pointy thistle, artichokes need more than a little steamy lovin’ to loosen up their juicy goodness.  What you decide to pair the leaves with is when you can get creative.  As I just mentioned, a lemony oil/butter sauce is always a no-fail solution.  But there are tons of other easy-to-prepare sauces that go well with their unique flavor.

The one below was inspired by my roommate who is much more well-educated on how to use Mayonnaise than I am. She has showed me how well the ingredient can be used to create simple-to-make and addicting sauces.  Yeah, the whipped white stuff is gross when plain.  But add some spice, and voilà. I decided to create a vegan rendition of a curried mayo-sauce she once made, and paired it with the artichokes I bought.  Even Vegenaise isn’t the healthiest ingriedient, but when used sparingly to compliment a simply steamed, 60-calorie artichoke, it’s not looking too shabby.  A little oil certainly never hurt anyone.  (Ask yoga teacher Ana Forrest and she’ll tell you it’ll help keep you body loose.)

My roommate refused to tell me her recipe, but I believe my recreation turned out quite similarly, so now I can share it with the world (ahahaha).  The result makes me wish it wasn’t the end of artichoke season.  Although, I do believe the sauce would pair perfectly with asparagus…and broccoli…and all the other veggies on their way to my garden.
Click here for recipe…

Cilantro Guacamole

With final exams approaching, I won’t have time to do too much crazy celebrating this Cinco De Mayo. But I can always make time to whip up a little celebratory food, like the simple guacamole pictured above.

You really can’t go wrong in the kitchen with ripe avocados. The creamy, greenish-yellow fruit is like natural butter, and unlike the real stuff, I’d be happy topping off almost any meal with it. Not only do avocados taste great, but they’re filled with monounsaturated fats (the good kind that can actually lower your cholesterol when used in place of saturated fats). Combine them with some fresh cilantro and a kick of heat from some chili sauce, and you’ve got yourself a heavenly, healthy version of butter…AKA Cilantro Guacamole. And just like my other favorite butter (shout out to my fellow peanuts), this one’s worthy of a eat-by-the-spoonful approach.

But, if you’re looking for a recipe with which to pair the guac., let’s say, a vegetarian taco recipe in particular, click here. Along with the taco recipe, you’ll also find a brief history of the Mexican holiday that may be inspiring tomorrow’s feast.

Cilantro Guacamole

-2 small-medium avocados, peeled and pit removed
-1/2 lemon, squeezed
-1 1/2-2 tsp. chili garlic sauce
-2-3 Tbsp. cilantro, minced
-1/2 tsp. salt

Place avocado in a bowl. Add remaining ingredients. Grab a fork and a pairing knife, and start running the knife through the avocado to start breaking it into pieces. Continue slicing the avocado in the bowl with the knife, using the fork for leverage. Continue this motion until all ingredients are combined with the avocado and guacamole reaches desired consistency. If you prefer an extra creamy guacamole, use the fork to continue mashing out the chunks. Pair with chips, tacos, or any other bean and grain dish.

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