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.

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.)

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!

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!

Immaculate Conception Salad


This heavenly salad gets its name because it was conceived of by my mom, Mary, and because it manages to combine something from EVERY FOOD GROUP (when served with a hunk of whole-grain bread) in the most delicious way possible. Remember that cereal that tried to pull off the same feat, Basic 4? Yeah…it’s alot better than that. And because it is basically a food pyramid in salad form, it boasts a wide variety of nutrients: protein from the chicken, calcium from the feta, vitamin A & fiber from the dark leafy greens, vitamin E and minerals (like iron & magnesium) from the pine nuts, and tons of vitamin C from the orange & sweet potato. Vegetarians could try substituting soy protein for the chicken; if you feel like trying a veg version of this salad, let me know how it turns out!

You can easily come home from work and prepare this salad in less than 30 minutes. It’s the kind of thing I’d suggest making in a giant batch, because believe me, you’re gonna want leftovers. The recipe below makes about four servings.
Ingredients:
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 large sweet potatoes, coarsely chopped
2 oranges, coarsely chopped
1 cup crumbled feta
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 bags (about 8 cups) dark salad greens
a little salt & pepper and olive oil for cooking
your favourite fruity vinaigrette (i LOVE Annie’s papaya poppyseed!)
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees while you chop the sweet potatoes. Spread the bite-size pieces onto a baking sheet, drizzle with a Tbsp. of olive oil, and rub them around to cover all sides. Grind or sprinkle salt and pepper over the sweet potato, and pop them into the oven for about 20 minutes.
2. Pour another tsp. of olive oil into a frying pan, and get the chicken going. Add a little salt and pepper while they cook.
3. Wrap a whole-grain baguette tightly in foil and pop it into the oven to warm. Check on the sweet potatoes, giving them a little stir with your spatula.
4. Wash and dry the greens and chop the oranges. Throw them into a bowl or onto a plate and sprinkle each serving with 1/4 cup of crumbled feta.
5. When the chicken is done, transfer it to a cutting board and cut it into bite size pieces (or serve it in breast-form for if you’d rather.) Throw the pine nuts into the frying pan and toast over medium-low heat, stirring. This only takes a minute or two and totally transforms the flavour of the pine nuts!
6. Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven and add everything to your salad. Drizzle with vinaigrette, and say a Hail Mary. 
p.s. thanks to my roommate seth for taking a great picture!

Maple Walnut Salmon with Cinnamon Mashed Yams and Roasted Zucchini & Squash


This salmon recipe is a work in progress, inspired by my boyfriend’s creation. I’ve been playing with the oil to syrup ratio and experimenting with other ingredients like cinnamon, soy sauce and garlic. This concoction works well and is quick and simple to make. I suggest using real maple syrup because it’s better for you than the high fructose corn syrup-based fake stuff, though I must admit, all we had in the fridge tonight was my roommate’s butter-flavoured Aunt Jemima, and that worked just fine! Feel free to substitute sweet potatoes for yams; I just used yams because that’s what I had in the kitchen. Flavour wise, I think they taste about the same; if you have any wise words on the differences between yams and sweet potatoes, please pass it along, I’m curious!

This meal is off the charts in the omega-3 department thanks to the salmon and walnuts, so prepare to have a happy heart, brain and immune system! Yams are a good source of fiber, potassium, and vitamins C and B6. Rounding out your meal with the zucchini-squash medley adds about half your Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamin A. So eat up, and give yourself a pat on the back for being so healthy!
Salmon marinade (for 2 4-oz. filets):
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp canola oil
3 grinds each of fresh pepper & kosher salt, or 1/4 tsp of each
1/4 cup walnuts
Cinnamon mashed yams (2 1-cup servings, plus some leftovers):
3 medium yams, cubed
1 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup milk
2 Tbsp light brown sugar, packed
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 grinds each of fresh pepper & kosher salt, or 1/4 tsp of each
1 medium squash
1 medium zucchini squash
1. Whisk together syrup, oil, salt & pepper for salmon marinade. Brush onto fish, coating each side well. Sprinkle with walnuts and marinate for at least 30 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
3. Cube yams and throw them into a big pot. Pour in about 2 cups of water. Cover & cook over medium-low heat until they’re soft enough to mash with the back of a big spoon. 
4. Slice zucchini and squash into half-moons about an inch thick (my 3rd grade teacher taught me to use the first joint of my thumb to gage the size of an inch, so I always measure things in thumbs.) Toss them into a pan at least 2 thumb-joints deep and sprinkle with enough water to create a very shallow layer at the bottom–I use this trick as an alternative to oil when roasting veggies to keep them fat-free. Sprinkle with a little s&p, and throw in a little crushed red pepper if you’re feeling frisky!
5. Arrange the salmon on a baking sheet, and bake both the salmon and squash medley for about 20 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through and flakes easily with a knife. 
6. Your yams are probably nice and soft by now. Drain them & return them to their pot. Stir in the butter as you mash, then add the milk, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt & pepper. Leave the lid on the pot to keep them warm while the rest of your meal roasts.
7. Serve the salmon on a big ol’ pile of mashed yams, and be sure to try a bite of each together–yum!! 
nutrition facts (1 4-oz filet; 1 cup mashed yams; 1/2 squash & 1/2 zucchini):
calories 878;  fat  37.4 g;  saturated fat  12.5 g;  cholesterol 82mg;  carbohydrate 99g;  fiber 11g;  protein 32.5g;  vitamin A 25% RDA;  vitamin C 155%;  calcium 31.6%; iron 18%

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%