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nutritious

Quinoa Pizza Crust with Butternut Squash and Tahini Sauce

Quinoa Pizza Crust with Butternut Squash and Tahini Sauce

At the arrival of spring last week, sitting in a wooden basket in the corner of my kitchen, one lone butternut squash remained. A butternut from last year’s fall harvest and my days selling and slinging veggies at a weekly Saturday farmer’s market. Oh how time flies. And yet how sturdy and strong winter squash can stand through it all.

When I get all sorts of confused about life, which seems to happen a lot as a transient 20-something college grad, I remind myself to think like a butternut. Stay strong on the outside, but sweet and a little nutty on the inside, with the ability to open up and get all soft when the right times arrives. (That analogy is my nuttiness coming out…but I do quite adore and look up to the butternut.)

Red Quinoa

As time is flying, another growing season is upon us, and I am beyond psyched. Living in a city, I don’t yet have a garden of my own, but I do have some plans to get involved with some urban farms this summer, and of course, return home to help my parent’s kick butt in their own backyard plots. Heck yeah for spring. And please move a little faster! (It snowed here last night. I’m not the fighting kind of gal, but I sincerely wanted to punch the sky in the face.)

Until then, I feel fortunate to be savoring the last of the cold weathered season. With one golden squash remaining in my basket, I wanted to make sure it received some memorable treatment. As soon as I saw this pizza recipe from Dishing Up the Dirt, it was a no-brainer as to where that squash would be heading. The uniqueness of this dish had me hooked!

Quinoa Pizza Crust with Butternut Squash and Tahini Sauce

After making this pizza, I can 100% say that if you don’t already have a butternut laying around in your own home, it’s worth making the trip out to buy one. This was awesome! I honestly wish I could say I made up this recipe on my own because I just love how creative it is…I mean, quinoa-based crust made with a little love from the food processor?! How cool is that. (Props to you Andrea.)

Tahini Sauce

This obviously isn’t your traditional cheesy, red-sauced ‘za. But if you were craving that, you probably wouldn’t be eyeing this recipe anyway. The good news? It’s will make for an every-bit-as-satisfying pizza night, especially once you get that tahini sauce drizzling on top. This is the kind of healthy app I’d love to see at a restaurant. It feels light but rich all at the same time. If that makes any sense. Make this yourself, and you’ll get what I mean.

Quinoa Pizza Crust with Butternut Squash and Tahini Sauce

The pizza does take several steps to make, but all are incredibly easy to execute. A simple 3-ingredient quinoa crust presents a base for a naturally creamy sauce stemming from butternut squash – i.e., no dairy needed. It gives a very gentle sweetness that contrasts with the mildly tangy tahini dressing that goes on top. I’m always in favor of a saucy pizza. With this pizza, you get to have two. Their richness (though as I mentioned before, not in a heavy way) is cut by cilantro, and are then finished with a crunch via fresh chickpeas on top. A pizza that has everything going for it – health included. Heck yeah.

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Spring Green Smoothie

Green Smoothie

I bring you this recipe not because it’s a new, novel idea. Let’s get real. Green smoothies are so five years ago. However, a phased-out fad they are not. These powerhouse shakes can still be an incredibly life-changing diet addition and shouldn’t be forgotten. (Insert advertising slogan here. But seriously, they are wonderful.)

For that reason I must say, Green Smoothie, I am sorry for forgetting you. Once a daily drink, I let you leave my life for weeks and weeks too many. Never again.

I’m not sure when and how I fell off the smoothie bandwagon, but no fruit and greens have been spinning together in my blender lately. Kale, onions and herbs, yes, but no early morning, creamy green creations have been going down, that is, up until springtime finally hit.

I bring you this recipe because perhaps you, like me, need a reminder that green smoothies are a great way to kickstart your day and get your diet back in line. The nutrient-filled drink is packed with vitamins and minerals, meaning lots of energy for you.

As I use the spring season to take time to reorganize my life, I am realizing the value of clean eating and the energy it can provide. It is this energy that I need to prioritize what’s important to me and also to deliberate what is not. Lots of shifting, and changing, and goal reorientation is taking place for me right now. And with all of that, I want to revamp my diet too. A healthy body is a healthy mind, and a huge part of this stems from food.

I am excited to start bringing green smoothies back into my mornings and starting my days off on a high note. Whether you’re making some life changes or not, that’s never a bad game plan. Waking up with a healthy breakfast and a positive attitude is literally the best way to carry on life. Sometimes easier said than done, but I’d say this four-ingredient recipe is a pretty simple start. Enjoy.

Green Smoothie Ingredients

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Black Beans with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Kale

And so it begins. The food coma days move in and I start wishing I was a little Brown Bear so I could go rub my belly and then hibernate for a few.

Since, however, I’m not a bear (surprise, surprise), it’s these next few months where I need energizing, healthy-minded meals the most. To break up the holiday feasts and surrounding food-filled parties, I like to keep my home-cooked dinners on the nutritious side.

However, it is winter after all, so you’ll still find some hearty (but healthy) dishes on here and likely a lot of soups, too, to keep things cozy over the next few months. Exhibit one, this Black Beans with Roasted Sweet Potato and Kale recipe that combines several of my favorite all-star ingredients into one pot. Serve it over quinoa, and boom, I’m not sure you could get a much healthier meal. Though, this would also make a fantastic filling for corn tortillas, topped with a few slices of salted avocado. That definitely qualifies as a smart and revitalizing choice for the time between holidays, too.

For me, a regular running schedule and quality meals like this are key for this time of year. Too much heavy food in between gatherings of getting stuffed on stuffing and gravy, and my holiday cheer starts to go kaput. But with roasted sweet potatoes and kale, (sorry mom, dad, roommates), you can count on me caroling into the new year.

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Flourless Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pumpkin dessert on Thanksgiving is a must. Generally, I’d say there has to be pie, however, no one said you shouldn’t have options – or two desserts on your plate. These pumpkin cookies make a rather fine second choice for the table, especially for vegans and gluten-free’s.

I came upon this recipe and the chickpeas immediately caught my eye. A cookie made of beans and pumpkin? That sounds almost too healthy to be true – and tasty – an inclination I generally get when reading dessert recipes (though not entrees). Luckily, curiosity got the best of me and I went for it…chickpeas, chocolate, pumpkin and peanut butter all piled into my food processor.

Following a previous recipe for disaster that called for black beans in brownies, I had my doubts. After those results, I vowed to stick to sinfully indulgent brownie recipes from there on out. However, it’s possible the success of this one may’ve changed my opinion on health-altered desserts.

Unlike black beans, chickpeas are fairly bland, and you’d certainly never pick up on them in this pumpkin recipe. They give these cookies their oomph while keeping them moist, but it’s the maple, spices and chocolate that lend these their flavor. The results – a nutritious, protein-packed cookie, that while addicting, I wouldn’t feel guilty eating for breakfast.

For a holiday packed with more than enough indulgences, these make a great option that likely no one would ever guess is actually even healthy. On the whole, I’m all about making sacrifices in terms of nutrition when it comes to desserts, because if I’m going to indulge, I want it to be amazing. But sometimes you get lucky and find a recipe like this, where those kind of sacrifices truly aren’t needed for pumpkin perfection.

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Crispy Sweet Potato Burgers

I have been eyeing this recipe for months. And waiting and waiting, since April (!), to make this. Unlike many of the enticements I spot online and store away, this one didn’t get forgotten and then suddenly rediscovered in my recipe lost and found. No…this one’s kept an impression in my mind since its bookmarking, buying my excitement as I waited for its star ingredient to fall into season.

You see, though these would make a nice summer burger alternative, my dad harvests gallon buckets of sweet potatoes every early fall. It seemed silly for me rush out to the store in the middle of the spring just to make this recipe, when garden sweets would eventually be on their way.

Finally, October hit and the wait ended. On her last visit to Philly, my dad sent my mom up with a bushel basket full of butternuts and sweet potatoes (totally tubular, dude). The first few went straight into aluminum foil, into the oven, and then into my belly.

But the second few, they went into these gorgeous burgers. Seriously, the slider version from Love & Lemons, the blog where these were spotted, made sweet potato burgers look so cute that there was no way I could not make these.

This is a refreshingly interesting, slightly sweet burger rendition that pairs well with the recipes’ notable hints of rosemary and tahini. Add a few extra sprigs of rosemary if you really want a fresh herb feel.

For a light and healthy burger that doesn’t have the texture of rubber and looks amazing, too, this is it. For an even lighter treat, opt for the slider size, but likely you’ll want more than one.

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