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lightened up

Asian Cabbage Slaw with Basil and Ginger

Asian Cabbage Slaw with Ginger and Basil

My blog is going on a 2 week vacation, while its author heads to the West Coast. (Hello California and Portland!) Before it says a brief adieu, however, we are leaving you with this excellent summertime recipe.

Asian Cabbage Slaw with Ginger and Basil

Have no fear if cabbages are ransacking your garden, farmers’ market or CSA share, and you haven’t a clue what to do with them. I can relate. Hence why I’m hoping to help you out here with this recipe before I jet-set away for a few.

That blank state of mind seems to be a yearly occurrence for me when cabbages starting forming into bowling balls by the masses. I really do enjoy cabbage. But what do you make with it that will use it up fast enough? A few shreds on top of some fish tacos won’t begin to peel off those layers. Nor will most pasta sautes and other recipes where cabbage comes in handy.

Of course the simple answer is coleslaw.

Cabbage

While as I said I love cabbage, there’s only so much coleslaw I can tolerate. Cabbage by the masses paired with mayo by the masses ends in feelings of eventual repulsion for the leafy veg.

Not that I’m a mayo-hater or anything. I just can’t eat it with slaw on a regular basis until my family and friends’ gardens stop crying me cabbage.

This Asian slaw however? It’s something my fork could get down with daily. Especially in the summer when almost every lunch/dinner screams for a crunchy, cool salad.

Asian Cabbage Slaw with Ginger and Basil

I like this because it’s refreshing, yet each bite hits you with an immense amount of flavor. You get sesame paired with summer basil, and a slightly sweet and spicy kick from the rice vinegar paired with the ginger. Use a food processor to make its assembly easy, and feel free to top with roasted peanuts or any other garnish of your choice.

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Millet Cauliflower Caraway “Mashed Potatoes”

Cauliflower Millet Mash

Cauliflower is trendy. It’s become the hip, harlem shakin‘, Sriracha loving, Ray-Ban wearing vegetable of 2013. It’s hot on demand and is quickly sneaking its way onto restaurant menus nationwide. Can’t say I predicted that.

I could’ve predicted the past year’s kale boom, the one that’s quietly beginning to slow. Leafy, vibrant greens packed with nutrients – it was only a matter of time before they shifted beyond garnish status on the plate. This whole cauliflower craze though, it really snuck up on me. I definitely didn’t see the day coming where cauliflower “steak” would push beef aside and become the highlight of a menu (at $34 a plate)! I could certainly argue with that price, but cauliflower shining across menus is fine by me.

Cauliflower doesn’t make my grocery list all that often, but I admit, its crowns have been the favored ones ever since I was kid. My mom would often steam it up alongside broccoli, the green monster I’d grimace at after every bite. For the cauliflower, however, there was never any kind of the “you won’t get dessert if you don’t eat…” convincing needed. Today, I probably eat more of the green crowns than the white, but again I admit, cauliflower is still the favored one. Cauliflower Millet Mash

Its relatively neutral flavor makes it great for dishes like this (and apparently pizza crust too!). Here, cauliflower is paired with a slightly nutty millet, and then whipped up in a food processor. The result is a creamy, mashed potato-like texture yielded without any butter or cream needed. In fact, you could call this a no-fat version of mashed potatoes, although with the caraway seeds, it’ll bring just a tad more complexity to the table. Feel free to skip the seeds altogether if you’re looking for a neutral side or straight-up mashed potato replacement. However, I find the caraway to really add a nice, unique element you seldom find outside of rye bread.

I served this up with a batch of sautéed baby portabella mushrooms and garlic. To do the same, simply slice up  8 oz. baby portabellas along with a couple of garlic cloves. Saute in a little olive oil, deglazing the pan with a splash of balsamic vinegar, and seasoning with salt and pepper. Feel free to add in thyme or other herbs, or keep it simple and let the millet mash speak for itself. The mushrooms will add a nice depth of texture to the velvety smooth cauliflower. Continue Reading…

Vegan Dark Chocolate Mousse Phyllo Cups

Chocolate Mousse Cups

Valentine’s Day rarely contributes much normalcy to my life. One year, I ended up at a Tex Mex themed bar in the middle of the ghetto. While neon-colored margheritas were ubiquitous, not a soul was dining on any food. Regardless, my date insisted we stay for dinner. The music was so loud it was hard to object.

The next year, I went out for pizza with one of my best friends. A boy, who would later become my boyfriend, ended up joining us out. Towards the end of the dinner, my friend accidentally tipped over her cup of ice water, which then went all over the boy’s lap. It was below freezing outside, but thankfully he took it well. There were no first kisses that night.

Last Valentine’s Day, I came home to a huge package in the mail. I was given a large bouquet of flowers, a box of chocolate, and an assortment of pastries from a local bakery. All sounds fantastic, right? Sure it was fantastic, but unfortunately the friend zone conversation I had to have with my admirer didn’t go over so well. He no longer speaks to me anymore.

This year? This year I’m flying solo with no plans in mind, and I’m fairly certain it will be the most normal Valentine’s Day I’ve had yet. Although, living in a city, you never know what could happen. If Valentine’s Day does end up as just another Thursday night with a square or two of dark chocolate and a good beer to myself, and maybe a phone call with a girl friend to BS about life, I’ll be 100% okay with that. Sometimes normalcy is fine by me.

Phyllo DoughPhyllo Cups

If you are, however, looking for something a little out of the ordinary to celebrate V-day, might I suggest this recipe. Chocolate mousse is a classic, and loved by all. But this definitely isn’t your classic mousse. While it tastes every bit as rich as the real deal, here, heavy cream is swapped for silken tofu to create a much lighter version of this chocolaty treat. Scooped into phyllo cups, whether its for your best friend or your lover, these are bound to impress your date. And trust me, unless you tell them, they’ll likely never guess the secret ingredient. If you want to keep the whole recipe vegan, simply ditch the phyllo cups for a graham cracker based crust. Make mini tarts for an equally adorable treat.

Click here for recipe…

Healthy Spiced Butternut Squash Crostini

Spiced Butternut Squash Crostini

“You must really like sauces,” said my sister as I aimed the ketchup onto my plate next to the Ranch, hot sauce and salsa. She was serving bean burgers that night, and while I’m sure only one condiment was really needed to moisten the buns, I just couldn’t help myself. I am known to be indecisive with the little things in life, especially when it comes to food.

Of course after the burger topping episode came a salad dressing decision. With a husband and three kids, my sister had FAR more dressing options than I ever keep in my fridge. I settled for balsamic on one half and a sun-dried tomato vinaigrette on the other. The looks I would’ve gotten for that one…luckily my sister already seated herself at the dinner table in the next room over.

I like options. And taste-testing. And creamy dips and sauces. Guacamole? Yes please. Hummus? I could easily eat it by the spoon. And peanut butter, too.

As I think about all of the different options, I’m pretty certain I’m not alone in holding this affinity. Which is why this past New Year’s Eve, it wasn’t hard for me to decide what I wanted to bring to my friends’ dinner party. I was going to bring some kind of dip – even if my boyfriend wasn’t all too sold on the idea. Fast forward to the taste-testing, and he didn’t question me again.

Spiced Butternut Squash Crostini

I chose to use up some roasted butternut squash and immediately thought to make this on the sweet and spiced side.  Given the occasion, NYE, I wanted to send a healthy option to dinner, hence where the beans and low-fat cream cheese came in. Combined with the butternut, they delivered a classic creamy dip with some surprising nutritional power behind it. Placed on lightly buttered, toasted baguette slices, this was a HUGE hit at the party.

Make sure to include the toasted pecans and drizzle of honey. It really completes the crostini. This recipe wouldn’t be the same without its toppings, so no indecision here

Click here for recipe…

Sage and Stuffing Seasoned Quinoa

Sage and Quinoa Stuffing

Feeling too stuffed is a sensation I prefer to keep to a minimum. (Though, I feel very fortunate and blessed to live a life that extends these opportunities.)

Eating stuffing, however, is an experience I could welcome all times of the year, multiple days per month. The taste bud lingering flavors of sage, rosemary and thyme create a combination from which I rarely tire. Although, I must say all that bread that embodies the traditional recipe could eventually make my body say “no more”. No part of me is an anti-bread, low-carb advocate, especially when we’re discussing whole grains. But too many meals of it probably isn’t the optimal choice.

Instead, I’ve created a variation of which no one could debate its healthiness, utilizing quinoa – a protein and fiber filled superstar of the grain world. It just so happens it’s gluten-free, too.

Granted, I wouldn’t go so far as to call this stuffing, particularly if you consider yourself a stuffing junkie. It’s a tad more on the chewy side in comparison to its fluffy, conventional counterpart. However, it’s certainly a wonderful, healthier alternative with all the same flavors, and will make your body feel good, too.

Click here for recipe…