Veggie Stacks with Quinoa Cakes


This recipe is my attempt to make eggplant parmesan (which I think we can all agree is super yummy, but not particularly good for you) into a healthier and more diverse dish. By removing the bread crumbs typical of eggplant parm, reducing the amount of cheese involved, and adding spinach, zucchini, peppers and onions (and quinoa, obvi) to the mix, this dish has been transformed into a lower-fat, proteinfiber– and vitamin-packed meal!

I have to level with you: this is not a super-quick meal to prepare. However, it’s easy to prepare with my Roasted Veggie & Quinoa Salad (recipe coming tomorrow,) so in 45 minutes, I’d made dinner with enough leftovers for tomorrow night (or my boyfriend’s lunch tomorrow…we’ll see who’s the sneakiest) AND I have tomorrow’s lunch waiting for me in the fridge. Not bad, not bad a’tall.

Ingredients (makes 3 servings):
1 eggplant, sliced into 1-inch thick rounds
1 zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
2-1/2 cups frozen spinach, thawed
1 cup tomato sauce
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella, or a few slices of soy cheese if you want to make the caesin-free version
1/2 TBSP olive oil
salt & pepper

Quinoa cakes:
1-1/2 cups cooked quinoa
1/2 cup diced red pepper (about 1/2 pepper)
1/4 cup diced onion
1 egg
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
salt, pepper, basil & oregano to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Thaw spinach. Make quinoa cakes: mix quinoa, red pepper, onion, 1 teaspoon olive oil, and spices. Taste to make sure you’ve spiced the mixture to your liking, then add the egg and mix well.
2. Lightly oil a baking sheet with about 1 teaspoon olive oil. Shape the quinoa mixture into 6 little balls, each with a diameter of 2 inches or so (about the length of your thumb.) Don’t worry if they won’t stay together very well, mine didn’t either; they’ll take their shape as they bake. Brush the tops of the cakes with the remaining teaspoon of oil.
2. Slice eggplant and zucchini and add pieces to the baking sheet (you may need to employ the use of a second sheet.) Using a brush, lightly coat one side of each piece with 1/2 TBSP olive oil.
3. Put everything into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, pulling them out after 10 to flip everything over (be very gentle with the quinoa cakes–if they immediately start to fall apart, let them bake for a few minutes longer. Using a spatula is very helpful.)
4. When the contents of the roasting trays are ready, pull them out and turn on the broiler. On the baking sheet, assemble: each stack begins with a slice of eggplant and is topped with a spread of spinach, 3-4 zucchini rounds, a quinoa cake, and finally 2 TBSP of mozzarella/half a slice of soy cheese.
5. Place the baking sheet under the broiler for about 2 minutes. While the cheese is browning, heat the tomato sauce in the microwave and spread 1/3 cup onto each plate. Top each plate with two veggie stacks. Viola!

p.s. seth attack is back, bringing us beautiful pics.

Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers


This easy, delish dish can be adjusted to fit the needs of vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters. I diced up a chicken patty for mine, but you can also try it with a veggie burger patty or crumbled veggie sausage. I used a cup of cooked quinoa from the batch I made for the week and added a cup of black beans and a cup of frozen white corn, which I roasted first for about 10 minutes to give it a great flavour. Add your cherry tomatoes, slather in chili or hot sauce, and stuff those peppers! It’s a good idea to make a little hole in the bottom of each pepper first, though, to let excess liquid drain. Serve these peppers over a bed of sauteed spinach or kale for an extra vitamin A kick! These peppers are also great for lunch the next day!

Ingredients (serves four):
4 bell peppers, any color
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 cup beans
1 cup frozen white corn, thawed (and roasted if you wish)
12 cherry tomatoes, quartered
chicken or veggie patty, diced (also try veggie sausage or shrimp)
black pepper, chili powder or chili sauce (or hot sauce if you’re hard core)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash the tomatoes and quarter the little guys. Rinse the beans (canned beans usually contain ALOT of sodium, and rinsing helps get rid of some of it.) Place corn on a baking sheet and pop it into the oven for about 10 minutes, ’til the kernels are nice and toasty lookin’.
2. Chop up your chicken or veggie patty or whatever protein you’re using (I’m assuming it’s pre-cooked, but if it’s not, follow directions on the package for cooking.) Mix the pieces together with quinoa, beans and tomatoes. Sprinkle with pepper, chili powder, chili sauce or hot sauce to taste.
3. Cut the tops off the peppers and poke a little hole in the bottom of each one. When the corn is ready, add it to the quinoa and spoon the mixture into the peppers. Transfer peppers to the baking sheet and bake them for about 30 minutes, until they’re warm through.

Betta Bruschetta


Having people over and feeding them is fun. It’s also a good social activity for lazy people who don’t like to leave their house, like me. You can make this bruschetta pretty quickly while you’re hanging out in the kitchen with your guests, and you only need to buy a couple of ingredients. Best of all, it creates feelings of warmth and makes people like you.

Ingredients:
1 loaf whole grain bread, sliced thin
1 pint cherry tomatoes, or 4-5 roma tomatoes, diced
1 bunch basil, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
optional: grated parmesan cheese, balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sautee minced garlic in a few drops of olive oil until it’s barely brown (you can use raw garlic, but it will be POTENT.)
2. Place bread slices on a baking sheet and drizzle them with olive oil (I like to pour a tablespoon or two into a dish and dip my brush into it. That way, I don’t end up accidently soaking the bread.) Top with garlic.
3. Heat the bread in the oven until it’s nice and toasty. Meanwhile, chop up your tomatoes and basil and flavour them to your liking with salt & pepper.
4. When the bread’s ready, top them with a pinch of grated parmesan (if your crowd doesn’t include any vegans,) add a spoonful of the tomato-basil mixture, and drizzle about 1/8 tsp. of balsamic vinegar over each. Let your guests toast you and take a bow.

Snack Like a Bunny


I know, I know, you’re probably thinking that brussels sprouts & sweet potatoes sound like a terrible idea for a snack, but I have news for you, ladies & gentlemen: you’re wrong, and I’m right–they’re delish, especially together! This combo became my snack of choice last summer, when I was babysitting for a couple of families and spending alot of time at the Brooklyn zoo. Snacktime by the sea lions’ pool became a regular routine, and I’m proud to say I actually got a couple of discerning two-year-olds to try a weird new vegetable! If you’re transporting them, I must warn you that cooked brussels sprouts smell a little…unpleasant after they’ve been confined to a baggie or a tupperware container. I found this out the hard way when I got some nasty looks on the subway.

Ingredients:
about 8 brussles sprouts
3 small, or 1 large sweet potato
1 TBSP olive oil
salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper if you like

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice veggies into whatever shape and size you prefer (I cut the brussels sprouts in half and the sweet potatoes into rounds or sticks,) and rub them with a little olive oil. Place them on a baking sheet and grind salt & pepper over the pieces. Sprinkle with a little crushed red pepper if you’re feelin’ feisty. Roast for about 20 minutes (this will vary depending on your oven; you want to cook them until the potatoes are a little soft and the sprouts begin to brown just a bit.)

Banana-Walnut Cinnamon Toast


The idea for this came from a muffin recipe I found in Women’s Health magazine awhile ago. I’ve made it a couple times, and was craving those muffins this morning, but who has time to make muffins on a Wednesday morning, fah crahin aht lawhd? So I took all my favourite muffin innerds and threw ’em on some toast! Voila, no-bake banana bread! To be honest, I totally impressed myself, cause this is definitely the most bangin’ cinnamon toast I’ve ever tasted. And although I’m usually famished in the morning, and my desire to enjoy chewing consistently wins out over satiation in the stomach region, I actually couldn’t finish both pieces of toast along with my yogurt (pictured above, for a nice round meal) so I saved the second piece for a mid-morning snack!

Something to note: Women’s Health boasts that the combo of walnuts’ magnesium, bananas’ potassium (to sooth muscles,) and the vitamin D & calcium found in yogurt (supposedly “mood stabilizing,” though as far as I know, the effects of the latter have only been observed in patients with severe mood disorders, not just cranky PMSers) are sure to relieve the backlash of Auntie Flo’s lil’ visit. Let me know if it works for you…mad props for the muffins, Women’s Health, but I think the blaring BEEP BEEP BEEP of my bullshit radar actually GAVE me cramps.

Ingredients:
2 slices whole-wheat or multi-grain toast
1 medium or large banana
2 TBSP walnut pieces (crush them up for optimal spreadage)
a drizzle of honey or agave
a sprinklin’ of cinnamon
a side of yogurt if you like, for a calcium & protein boost!

I think this one’s pretty self-explanatory…toast bread (you can make one super-stacked slice if you’d like,) slice banana over toast; sprinkle with walnuts & cinnamon and add a drizzle of honey. You won’t believe how delish this is, i promise!

Sesame Kale Stir-fry


Scanning my fridge today for a quick post-workout lunch, I found some leftover shrimp from last night’s pasta dish, and the kale remaining after I made Becca’s Cranberry-Almond Kale on Sunday. I liked what we had going here…(plenty of protein from the shrimp & some fiber from the kale–the two major things your bod craves after a workout–plus iron & tons of vitamins A & C.) …basics, check; now I just needed to accessorize. In came the reduced-sodium soy sauce (a classic with a modern twist,) the sesame seeds (for a nod to asian style,) a shaved carrot (slim lines are always chic,) and of course, a little Siracha hot sauce to turn heads. Start this off with a little garlic & olive oil–the underpinnings of any good meal–and you’ve got one stylin’ stirfry.

Ingredients (serves one as a meal or 2 as a side or snack):
1 small bunch or 1/2 a large bunch kale
1 medium carrot, peeled
1 TBSP sesame seeds (if you don’t have ’em, don’t fret; this stir-fry’s still delish sans seeds)
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
all the Siracha hot sauce you can handle
a handful of frozen, pre-cooked shrimp, thawed, OR 1 veggie burger pattie or 1 cup tofu, diced (you can also leave the protein out and just make this a side for a meal)
…if you want to make this a heartier meal, try adding a little brown rice!

1. Wash kale & tear into bite-sized pieces. Heat garlic in olive oil in a large non-stick pan. If you’re using uncooked tofu, sautee it now.
2. When garlic become barely brown, throw in the kale. Let it start to wilt, then shave the carrot over the kale leaves & mix in.
3. If you’re using pre-cooked shrimp, add ’em now; they only take about 1 minute to warm through. Sprinkle in sesame seeds, soy sauce and hot sauce, and stir everything around reeeeal good. Enjoy!

Homemade Pita Chips


Now, I’m sure ya’ll have tried pita chips (I won’t mention brand names; I don’t know what it takes to get a girl sued ’round here…) but my issue with anything you buy at the store, no matter how healthy, is that you can’t control what’s in ’em. Making things from scratch is often out of the question, but pita chips are a glorious exception to that rule. You can buy 100% whole wheat pita at pretty much any grocery store (read the ingredients to make sure they’re not full of preservatives and other long-named ingredients,) and as long as you have a little olive oil, s&p, and your favourite spice handy, you’re good to go! 

Ingredients:
1 package whole wheat pita bread (4 whole pitas; 8 servings)
2 Tbsp olive or canola oil (both good for your heart)
fresh-ground salt & pepper
your favourite spices for a-shakin’ (my fave combos: smoked paprika & garlic powder or basil, oregano & parmesan cheese)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice pitas in half, then gently pull apart the two sides. Slice or tear the bread into bite-size pieces.
2. Spread the pita pieces out on baking sheets (you’ll probably need more than one; you can also do multiple batches.) Measure 2 Tbsp. oil (FYI: 2 Tbsp = 1/8 cup.) Despite what you may think by the time you’re through oiling the pita, you DON’T need more than this; keep it heart-and waist-line healthy, ya’ll.
3. Brush oil onto pita pieces, using a pastry brush or your finger. You really only need a dot on each side of the pita pieces. I have an awesome brush with rubber bristles, which comes in handy with this project, because I can really get all the hiding oil out when I mash the bristles down onto the bread surface.
4. Grind salt & pepper, and add whatever other spices you like. Bake for 10 minutes. Voila!

Becca’s Cranberry Almond Kale


My boyfriend’s sister, Becca, is a long-time vegetarian with great intuition when it comes to cooking. She also knows a lot about nutrition. I tried this kale recipe she sent me today and it was absolutely fabulous. Becca says: “This is a good recipe for veggies because kale is high in iron. Iron needs vitamin C for absorption–hence the cranberries. Almonds add a little protein kick without the saturated fat.” A little iron, a little vitamin C, a little protein–giiiirl, could you be any more fabulous? Please.

UPDATE: New photo by Chip Joffe-Halpern, who added some fresh mozz to increase protein, calcium and deliciousness! Thanks, Chip!

Ingredients (makes 2 big sides):
1 small, or 1/2 large bunch kale (about 4 cups)
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1-1/2 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash the kale and tear it into bite-size pieces. 
2. Spread the almonds onto a baking sheet and pop it into the oven (they only need to be in there for a couple minutes, until they start to become brown & aromatic.) Mince the garlic and toss it into a pan with the olive oil and cranberries. Stir the mix ’round until the garlic juuuust starts to brown. 
3. Add the kale, mixing all the ingredients around together. Toss the almonds in. When the kale looks nice and wilty, you’re ready to eat! 

Healthy Girl says: I didn’t have an orange on hand, but citrus and dark leafy greens are best of friends, as are cranberry & orange. Try squeezing an orange slice over the kale and let me know how it turns out!

Banana Almond Smoothies


Good morning! 

This smoothie is a great way to start the day. It’s full of potassium (good for your heart & other muscles,) vitamin B6, and healthy fats–the kind that keep your heart healthy and your skin beautiful! For an extra boost of sustainable energy, enjoy it with a slice of whole grain toast topped with 1 tsp. of butter or olive oil, or 1/2 cup of oatmeal with fresh berries. 
I love the flavour that almond milk brings to this smoothie, but feel free to use your favourite milk instead. Though most almond milks you buy have been enriched, they still lack calcium. Be wary of the sugar content in non-dairy milks, especially flavoured ones; they can pack ALOT of unnecessary sugar!
p.s. My smoothie was nice and sweet, thanks to my very ripe banana; if yours isn’t so ripe and you’re craving more sweetness, add a little squeeze of honey or agave!
Ingredients:
1 cup low-fat, reduced-sugar vanilla almond milk (like Pacific Organic)
1 Tbsp raw, unsalted almond butter (i like creamy!)
1 medium banana
Combine ingredients in your blender and give it a whirl! 
Tip: For great texture and a nice cold drink, try freezing sliced banana for your all smoothie needs.
nutrition facts
calories: 270;  calories from fat: 103;  total fat: 11g;  saturated fat 1 g;  polyunsaturated fat: 1.5 g;  monounsaturated 5.5 g;  Cholesterol 0mg;  Sodium 140 mg;  Carbs 41 g;  Dietary fiber 4.5 g (18% RDV); Sugars 24 g;  Protein 5 g
Vitamin A 12% RDV; Vitamin C 17%;  Calcium 11%;  Iron 8%;  Vitamin D 25%;  Riboflavin 30%