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Winter Lentil Loaf

Winter Lentil Loaf

Hello winter.

I wasn’t quite ready for you. Even after you dragged your feet. And let 60-degree days creep into my December. I am still not prepared for your arrival.

I’m sorry. I wish I liked you. I really do. But for now, I cope with comforting foods. And warm blankets and faces and seven layers of sweaters.

Winter Lentil Loaf

As a vegetarian, sometimes you just need something comforting, and it’s not always as easy to identify those quintessential items as it is in the meat kingdom.

Sure, there is soup. Which I adore.

But sometimes I want mashed potatoes, and gravy, and something hearty. And wholesome, too, of course.

This meal satisfies all of the above.

Winter Lentil Loaf

You could consider lentil loaf akin to meatloaf…that is, if you don’t think meatloaf is yucky.

It looks a little dull, but if prepared right, it’s oozing with herbs and umami flavor and warmth that radiates up from your plate.

It also happens to be packed with some rather superb ingredients, like lentils and walnuts, and in this case, tomatoes and collards, too. Those latter two actually bring some color to this particular lentil loaf recipe.

Winter Lentil Loaf

I like to serve lentil loaf alongside some of my other favorite wintry dishes of comfort. However, the sides for this dish are endless.

It must also be mentioned, my absolute favorite is to sandwich the leftovers between two slices of whole grain bread with a healthy handful of sprouts and good smear of ketchup and/or mustard on top. No reheating needed.

Ketchup isn’t a bad condiment for it when hot, either. I’m always torn between that and a veggie gravy. Try them both out, and decide what appeals most to you.

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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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Collard Wraps with Carrot Hummus and Quinoa

Collard Wraps with Carrot Hummus and Quinoa

I was overwhelmingly swooned by the carrot-tahini combination in last week’s soup (kind of like when I stumble across cute, solo boys picking up veg at the farmer’s market). Ever since, I’ve been dreaming up ways to give the duo another go. It seemed almost obvious that I turn to hummus.

Tahini’s never been shy of chickpeas, but the flavors that resulted from this weren’t forecasted to me at all. It’s incredible what a little roasting can do to draw out taste, and what a simple addition to a classic recipe can do to entirely reinvent it.

Hence, I bring you Carrot Hummus.

Roasted carrots

I should’ve known from the soup, but if you haven’t caught my gist yet, this creation surpassed my expectations. Even more so after I wrapped it up in an almighty collard leaf and threw in a lemony quinoa tabbouleh. If I were to ever open a cafe, this is the kind of lunch I would offer.

Healthy, complex and portable.

Collard Wraps with Carrot Hummus and Quinoa

The lemon quinoa bestows a pleasant dichotomy between the sweet roasted garlic and carrots of the hummus. It adds a little crunch, too, but don’t worry, some toasted walnuts carry that idea out to its completion.

Wrap in aluminum foil if taking these on the go, or if you’re like me (a spill-food-all-over-my-white [insert article of clothing] kind of person) and simply want a less messy lunch to handle.

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