Posts Tagged ‘new years resolutions’

Butternut Squash Lentil Tacos

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Happy 2017!

I don’t know about you, but I spent the holiday season indulging a bit more than usual.

It’s the time of year when I find it hardest to turn down perfectly baked Christmas cookies and red wine while I cozy up by a fireplace.

I spent a week in Steamboat Springs, Colorado with my sister-in-law’s family the week before Christmas and Chanukah. To say it was delightful would be an understatement.

FullSizeRender.jpg I cooked almost every meal for 11 adults and 2 children and I didn’t hold back on the heavy cream or decadent cheeses.

While I’m not big on skiing, I love the culture around the sport. Meaning I thrive at sipping on hot cocoa or coming in from the cold for a big bowl of chili, and if I am very lucky, taking a dip in the hot tub to help relax the muscles.

I skied a total of one half day the entire trip, but partook in all the other activities like a boss.

FullSizeRender.jpg-6 The holidays are now over and reality has set in, which isn’t a bad thing.

I am not going to come at you with any New Year’s Eve clichés, but I thought it would be wise to post a recipe that you may want to make when you’re feeling kind of lazy, looking to stay on a budget, and want to eat a delicious, healthy dish. 

Here’s a little tip from me to you: MEAL PREPPING AHEAD OF TIME IS WHERE IT IS AT MY FRIEND! Planning what I am going to eat for the week and chopping ingredients in advance has saved me SO much time, money and stress in the long run. It’s simple- Meal planning makes cooking more enjoyable.

FullSizeRender.jpg-4 Anyone who knows me can tell you that I love going to restaurants, but it’s usually not cost effective. The urge to dine out is tempting since I live in Manhattan which is arguably the food capital of the world.

IMG_6477 Not only is eating at a restaurant expensive, there is a good chance that there are hidden calories laced into every scrumptious bite.

Also, when I spent that week in December with my two adorable nephews who are 2.5 and 8 months old, I realized that eating at home is much preferable for many families because… have you ever been at a restaurant with a toddler and a baby? Suddenly the idea of cooking even for 13 people for the week became tremendously more appealing.

I love the results that staying home and cooking new dishes has had on my skillz. The more I cook, the more I enjoy figuring out which meals scale easily and can be prepped in advance to accommodate various diets and food allergies.

FullSizeRender.jpg-7 FullSizeRender.jpg-5 The recipe I am sharing today is the perfect meal post-holidays when it’s time to put down the hollandaise, renew your gym membership, and make healthier choices. Aside from being vegan, this dish is easy to make and Sam and I LOVE the way it tastes! It is so versatile that it started off as a dish on it’s own, but then one day I had corn tortillas on hand, so I turned this meal into lentil tacos. Hello new taco Tuesday recipe!

IMG_6460 I am also going to give you another little tip to make this recipe 100 x easier: If you don’t have the time to do your prep work in advance, buy your butternut squash pre-cubed at the grocery store. You will kiss yourself later for spending the few extra shekels and ultimately saving yourself a little time and effort.

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Eating the filling on it’s own with baked tofu + cabbage soup is another great dinner option!

Butternut Squash Lentil Tacos
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs medium butternut squash (I used pre-sliced butternut from Whole Foods), peeled and sliced into 1-inch cubes
  • ¾ cup black lentils
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ½ cup crumbled goat cheese (optional)
  • 8 corn tortillas (certified gluten free if necessary)
  • Optional garnishes: shredded lettuce and guacamole
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line one large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for easier cleanup.
  2. To roast the squash: On your prepared baking sheet, toss the cubed butternut in enough olive oil to lightly coat all sides, about 2 tablespoons. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon chili powder and a pinch of salt and pepper. Arrange the butternut in a single layer. Bake until the butternut is tender throughout and caramelized on the edges, about 30 to 35 minutes, tossing halfway.
  3. Meanwhile, soak lentils for 10 minutes in a small bowl, then drain. Cook lentils in boiling salted water until tender but firm, about 30 minutes. Rinse with cold water, then drain and cool.
  4. Combine lentils, butternut squash, goat cheese, if using.
  5. To warm the tortillas: In a small skillet over medium heat, warm each tortilla on both sides before transferring to a plate and covering with a lint-free towel to keep warm. Repeat with each tortilla, stacking each warmed tortilla on the last.
  6. To assemble the tacos, spoon an ample amount of filling down the center of your taco, top a spoonful of guacamole down the side. Top with garnishes of your choice and serve immediately.

Simple guacamole (double if you love guac!)
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 large avocado, diced
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • ¼ cup diced tomatoes (optional)
  • Pinch of salt, more to taste
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, combine the diced avocado, lime juice, tomatoes and salt. Mash with a fork until the mixture is blended and no longer chunky. Taste and add additional salt if necessary.

Spinflower Soup

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I have been craving a soup that seems creamy, but doesn’t actually have any cream. You know what I mean? Like when you want to fit into your skinny jeans, but you don’t actually want to put in the effort of going outside, heading over to the gym, and then getting on the treadmill for 45 minutes. I was starting to think that my desire for a healthy soup that would taste unhealthy wasn’t going to be possible. My husband often tells me that I am a skinny girl on the outside with the thoughts of a very large (and in charge) person on the inside.

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Whenever my refrigerator is filled with produce that will go bad in a few days, my mind goes to combining all of these extra ingredients and making a scrumptious soup. This dish is easy to make a delicious lunch or light dinner. You can replace the cauliflower with broccoli rabe if you want a super green soup. I added the superfood spinach at the end to wilt.

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If you have an immersion blender, you are going to want to cook this soup in a nice, deep pot. Turn your heat way down, put your immersion blender all the way to the bottom of the pot, and stand back a little so you don’t get splattered. Then, just start whizzing that up and you have your healthy, vegan, no-cream creamy soup all ready to roll! If you do not have an immersion blender, you can just blend this soup in batches. I used my vitamix (a chef’s best friend) and the soup came to a perfect texture. My husband likes to add some grated parmesan cheese on top, which is over-the-top delicious, but I keep mine vegan and I love it just the same.

Spinflower Soup
Adapted mostly from Rachael Ray's Spinoccoli Soup
Author:
Serves: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter (omit butter and use more olive oil if vegan)
  • 2 leeks, whites and light green tops, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 small head cauliflower, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 large sweet potato, small cubed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • 10 ounces spinach, stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 handful basil, thinly sliced
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a medium soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Add butter and melt; when it foams, add leeks and garlic, and stir 2 minutes.
  3. Add cauliflower, sweet potatoes and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Raise heat to medium-high and cover to sweat 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add stock and bring to boil. Wilt in the spinach, then throw in the shredded basil and then blend with an immersion blender or purée in batches in a vitamix, blender, or food processor. You can add a cup of water if soup is too thick. Adjust seasoning.

 

Slimming Spring Salad Rolls

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I don’t know about you, but I am always looking for a healthy snack with fresh ingredients. The trouble is that these kinds of quick bites aren’t always easy to come by and when I want to munch on something to get “over the hungry hump” I am usually about to hit starvation mode. Often, my final decision is to just quickly shove something down the hatch and run along to the next activity on my schedule. The truth is, when one is trying to eat a healthy, it’s easy to get off track by choosing an easy-to-open packaged snack that is filled with sugar and processed ingredients.

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I love this recipe because it goes back to the basics. It’s a sexier way to snack on raw veggies. If you’ve read my blog in the past you know my feeling about a lackluster boring vegetable crudité snack. That’s why I call these spring salad rolls, because it’s taking all of those raw salad ingredients and wrapping them up into a thin rice paper, so you can bring your healthy ingredients on the go!

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Rice paper wrappers (also sold as spring roll skins) can be found in the Asian section of many markets. Cut all the filling ingredients about 3 1/2 inches long. Cut crunchy ingredients, like carrots or bell peppers, the thinnest; slice softer ones, like cucumbers, thicker. If making ahead, place rolls in a plastic container, cover with a damp towel and seal tightly. They will keep at room temperature up to 3 hours. I like to prepare all of these ingredients ahead of time, so that when I want to make these wraps in a pinch, it only takes me 2 minutes!

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I truly fell in love with Thai food when I was traveling in Sydney, Australia. They got it going on with their food scene down under in Sydney. I had spring rolls similar to these with the most delicious black rice and tofu curry and I thought, “I wish I could eat here all the time.” To my delight, I found that spring rolls are surprisingly easy and fun to make, while also looking pretty fancy at the same time. I put a spinach leaf on the top of my rolls not only for health purposes, but also because it makes them look so pretty. These rolls are a fan favorite with my guests.

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This recipe lists what I typically put into my spring salad rolls, but you can fill them with whatever you have or buy things that you think might be good. I dip these in a low-sodium tamari sauce, but they are also so good with a spicy almond dressing. If you find brown rice paper wrappers, grab those because they are hard to find!

Slimming Spring Salad Rolls
Author:
Serves: 6-10 Spring Rolls (depending on how much filling you add)
Ingredients
  • 12 8-inch round rice paper wrappers
  • 2 cups fresh spinach leaves
  • 8 oz. Thai-style baked tofu, cut into 24 strips
  • ¼ seedless European cucumber, cut into thin strips
  • 2 carrots, cut into thin strips
  • 1 green onions, cut lengthwise into strips
  • 1 small, firm, ripe mango, seeded, peeled and cut into thin strips
  • ½ red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
  • 1 ripe Hass avocado, pitted, peeled and cut into thin strips
  • ½ cup basil leaves, sliced
  • ½ cup mint leaves, sliced
  • Low-sodium tamari sauce
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges for garnish
Instructions
  1. Fill bowl with hot water; immerse wrappers, 1 at a time, until soft and it becomes flexible enough to wrap, about 1 minute. I do not do the wrappers all at once, I dip one in the hot water and then proceed to fill it up. If you leave it in the water for too long it will get soggy and tear and if you don't leave it long enough it will be too dry and snap. Gently remove the wrapper with both hands and place it on the constructing plate.
  2. Now it's time to put together your spring rolls. Lay spinach leaf on the middle of the wrapping paper. Arrange 3 or 4 strips each of tofu, cucumber, carrot, green onion, mango, bell pepper and avocado in center of lettuce; top with sprinkling of basil and mint. Starting at closest edge, lift edges of wrapper and lettuce up and over filling, then fold in sides. Roll into tight cylinder like a burrito. Place roll, seam side down, on platter. Repeat with remaining wrappers.
  3. Garnish with lime wedges, and serve with low sodium tamari sauce or a spicy almond sauce.

New Years Detox & Resolutions

Who is ready to detox with me after the holiday season?

This is the time to kick your booty into high gear and sign up for my 3-Day Detox! You will LOVE the way you feel after 3 days and it will help you to get started on your road to a healthier lifestyle.

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Click here to learn more about the cleanse and read below for healthy tips and ways to keep your New Years Resolutions:

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Did you eat and drink too much yesterday? Who didn’t?! Just look at me… I definitely was enjoying my champagne last night… We know the holiday season is a time when we overlook overeating all in the name of good spirit and celebration. And although we can’t take back everything we ate yesterday, we can take a couple steps to help detox and bring our bodies back to normalcy after much indulgence.

Here are a few tips you can use today to help your body feel great. Feel free to use the same tips if you just so happen to overeat again during the next couple holidays as well.

Drinking plenty of water can help start your cleanse.

Drink ginger tea which helps to improve digestion and green tea which helps eliminate toxins from the body. Watching a show like Downton Abbey makes me crave a spot of tea. Whatever gets you in the mood… drink your detox tea!

Eat leafy greens which can help eliminate extra sugars in your body from that extra cocktail you had last night. Arugula, cabbage, kale, and other greens can help. This cabbage soup is my New Years Day detox dream meal.

Get some exercise! There’s no better way to burn off the extra calories you ate then by getting up and walking it off. So if you’re going shopping even to the gym, park a little farther so you walk a little more today.

Here are my New Year’s resolutions for 2015:

A bad habit I’m going to break:
Procrastinating! I need to put everything in my google calendar and THEN make sure that the task gets done when it’s supposed to get done!

A destination I’d like to visit:
Somewhere with beautiful, exotic animals.

I’m going to work harder at:
Making time for exercise.

A project I’d like to finish:
Decorating my apartment and planning my wedding (which feels like a very fun project).

A class I’d like to take:
Nutrition courses & hopefully food photography.

I’d like to spend more time doing:
Giving back to others and volunteering.

A food I want to eat more of:
Raw fruits and veggies. They’re nutritional gold!

I want to wear more:
Dresses and jewelry. I love getting dressed up!

What are your resolutions for 2015?

Fill out the questionnaire yourself in the comments, or print it out and keep it as a reminder.

And if you want some extra pointers on making your resolutions last, check out my list of tips.

 

 

Baby Bok Choy and Wasabi Roasted Tofu Stir-Fry

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Okay, so who here has fallen off their New Year’s Resolution wagon? I am sure that you had every intention of following through with each thing on the list you made in January, but March is upon us and, like every year, there are almost no resolution survivors. Am I talking about you? If so, don’t beat yourself up.  Any of you who live in the Northeast, or a place that has been on the same level of frigid like where I dwell in Cambridge, MA, I empathize with you because it can be really hard to stay motivated. There are many times where I am supposed to go to the gym, but I will come up with a hundred excuses not to go and some reasons are pretty terrible… i.e. “I really don’t feel like having to wash my hair” or “I need this extra layer of blubber to keep me warm in the cold winter months.” Isn’t being pasty white bad enough? Let’s not add insult to injury.

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(Motivating mixing bowls could help… thanks Mom!)

I want to help you by throwing you back onto your wagon so you can achieve those healthy goals you made just a mere two months ago. Actually, the truth is that I need your help too. I feel like if we are in this together, we can make it happen. Who’s with me?

Recently, I read that fewer than 2% of people actually follow through on their New Year’s resolutions. This makes me feel like we are not alone and that we are able to achieve our healthy goals if we stick together.

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One of my goals is to eat vegan dinners at least twice a week. I am a vegetarian, so you might be thinking that it shouldn’t be too hard for me, but it’s harder than it seems. I have one word for you: Cheese. Cheese is my best friend and my greatest achilles heel. As a self-professed cheese lover I don’t think I could ever give it up, but it would be great to replace the decadent pizzas that have been slowly creeping into my diet with a healthy, delicious vegan entree.

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If you are thinking that I am preaching to the choir right now, I am here to tell you that our lack of willpower for avoiding cheese might actually be rooted in something biochemical, so I got to wondering if there was hope. “Studies suggest that cheese, chocolate, sugar, and meat all spark the release of opiate-like substances that trigger the brain’s pleasure center and seduce us into eating them again and again,” says Neal Barnard, MD,Vegetarian Times’ Ask the Doc columnist and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. “These foods stimulate the same opiate receptors in your brain as heroin or morphine, albeit to a lesser degree. Luckily, there are many healthy dietary and lifestyle changes you can make to break food addictions.” To break from these addictive foods, the doctor suggests focusing on what you’re eating today instead of thinking of your diet change as a “forever” decision. “Focus on the short term. A three-week break will be enough to get you started.”

Bok choy tofu stirfry

The trick to eating healthy as a vegetarian or a vegan is the same trick to eating healthy as an omnivore: steer clear of greasy beige foods (French fries, onion rings, etc.) and stick to a colorful, balanced diet that includes whole grains, hearty legumes, leafy greens, and fresh fruit. This recipe fills practically all of the requirements.

It has shiitake mushrooms, which are great in a stir-fry. The dark leafy greens and the tofu provide a great source of protein. Best part? It is healthy and so easy to make. I love the way that tofu tastes roasted in the oven. If you haven’t tried it yet, you really should. It browns very well and saves time over the stove. Sometimes I serve this dish with steamed rice or quinoa.

4.0 from 1 reviews
Baby Bok Choy and Wasabi Roasted Tofu Stir-Fry
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbs. sesame oil, divided
  • 3 Tbs. canola oil
  • 3 Tbs. cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. gluten-free tamari sauce
  • 1 Tbs. grated fresh ginger
  • 1 ½ tsp. wasabi powder
  • 1 Tbs. cornstarch
  • 1 lb. firm tofu, drained and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 4 cups coarsely chopped bok choy, stems and leaves chopped separately
  • 1 cup chopped shiitake mushrooms
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450°F, and line baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk together 1 Tbs. sesame oil, canola oil, vinegar, tamari, ginger, wasabi powder, and cornstarch in large bowl. Add tofu, and toss to coat cubes in marinade.

  2. 2. Spread tofu in single layer on prepared baking sheet, reserve marinade and set aside. Roast tofu cubes 10 minutes, or until bottoms are dark golden brown. Flip, and roast 5 minutes more, or until all sides of the tofu cubes are dark golden brown and have puffed up.

  3. 3. Heat remaining sesame oil in wok over high heat.  Add bok choy stems and mushrooms, and stir-fry 3 minutes, or until wilted. Add garlic, bok choy leaves and stir-fry 5 minutes more. Add roasted tofu and reserved marinade; stir-fry 1 minute, or until sauce has thickened.