Well it has been a while. I’ve neglected blogging for some months now (3 to be exact) and you may have noticed my last post, sadly, was at the end of March. It’s unlike me, it’s true, but I do have a good excuse. I’m pregnant! Yay! I’ve also been so nauseous that last few months I could barely eat food, let alone cook it or write about it. So now you know why I’ve been so silent. We’re super pumped about another addition to the family due in just before Christmas.
Anyways, having recently cleared the first trimester, the nausea is letting up thankfully, but not 100%. I’m still pretty picky about what sounds good (whole glasses of milk and chicken pad thai? yes please!) and there are definitely things that still repulse me (haven’t been able to eat kale yet, and up until now the thought of any type of bean made my stomach turn.) Pregnancy is weird. You forget how bizarre the whole thing is until you do it again. Good thing these little babies are so darn cute.
This week I did actually get in the kitchen to cook a little (hooray!) and made this yummy whole wheat orzo pasta salad. I know the docs say to stay away from soft cheeses like feta in pregnancy but most of what comes into the U.S. is pasturized so I don’t worry too much about a little here and there. Plus, my 21 month old toddler absolutely loves it.
I didn’t actually measure out the pasta or the other ingredients, so I’m ballparking it for you here. I just go by what looks like a good balance of pasta to veggies and cheese. It made a ton and I’m still enjoying the leftovers. If you don’t have little ones in the house, I’d consider adding in some red onion and chopped garlic too.
Whole Wheat Orzo Pasta Salad
2 cups dry whole wheat orzo
1 large tomato, diced
1 cup black olives, diced
1 medium red pepper, diced
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 can garbanzo beans
1/2 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
Cook pasta according to directions on box and drain. While still hot, combine in large bowl with remaining ingredients. You can serve at room temperature or cold. Makes 6+ servings.
Ok these guys aren’t sexy. In fact, I hesitated even posting this photo for fear you may take one look and diss this recipe. I hope you don’t. My kale meatballs are worth trying if you can get past their crazy green hue.
I created these bad boys last week like most dinners I make: by experimentation. My dilemma? How to get my dear 18 month old daughter to eat more veggies (and isn’t that the challenge for every mom?). She loves broccoli thank goodness but even I can’t give her broccoli every darn day. So these meatballs came about quite organically as I followed something moms have known for years. Step 1: take vegetable of choice. Step 2: hide it in something your kid loves.
In my case, my daughter loves beef. So I figured if I pureed kale into meatballs, the texture would pretty much stay the same and I could pack a whole lot of veggies into one meal without a fuss. And boy was I right. These crazy green meatballs were a big hit. Kids don’t care that they’re green. Heck, they may even think it’s cool.
Luckily I made a bunch, so we had them for leftovers. I even took some and cooked them in tomato sauce for me and hubs which ironically enough made them turn brown again (remember from art class green+red=brown?)
Try it. Bake them if you are adventurous. Cook them in sauce if you want to fool your dinner guests. They’re totally worth it.
1 lb organic lean ground beef
1 bunch organic kale, washed and chopped (I used a pre-chopped bag from Trader Joe’s)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tbsp Italian seasoning blend (or oregano and basil)
2 cloves garlic
1 medium onion
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp pepper
Boil kale 7 minutes until bright green. Drain well, pressing out any excess water, and set aside. In food processor, blend garlic, onion eggs and 2 cups kale until smooth. In large bowl, add ground beef, kale mixture, herbs, bread crumbs and salt and pepper. Form into 2″ balls. Option 1: place on baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes at 350F and flip. Cook another 10 minutes. Set on paper towel to absorb extra grease. Option 2: place meatballs in large skillet with tomato sauce, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 25 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through.
I absolutely love being able to stay home with my daughter every day, but being a stay-at-home mom can get lonely at times. Long gone are the days of impromptu happy hours and gabbing around the water cooler with my co-workers. When I worked in microfinance in my 20′s I had tons of friends at work which was amazing and I got to see them every day. We even got to travel together. One year a group of 30 of us flew to Canada for a conference together, no joke (turns out my future husband was at that conference too but it wasn’t until a year later that our paths would cross again- that’s a story for another time.)
Anyways, since then I’ve found it much harder to spend time with friends without a regular place to go every day, and I missed that. So after nearly 18 months as a stay (and work) from home mom, I decided I needed to take action.
In January I emailed every stay-at-home mom I knew in the area and started a playgroup. Since then, we’ve met every Tuesday afternoon with our tots in tow, rotating houses each week. It gives the kiddos time to play together (or at least play with eachothers toys) while us mamas get to gab about preschool options, potty training and how bad we need a date night. It’s awesome.
The person who hosts usually makes a tasty treat to share with the group. Being my turn to host this past week, I turned to a recipe that my mama friend Emily shared with me last year for my Naturally Sweet program-these fantastic pumpkin quinoa muffins. We’ve adapted them to be gluten-free but you can also use flour if you like. This time around I added chocolate chips and some cooked sweet potato but those are optional. Oh baby. I can’t think of a better way to use leftover quinoa.
Quinoa Pumpkin Muffins
Adapted from Emily Wedick.
- 1 1/4 cups gluten free flour blend (I used Namaste brand)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1 egg
- 1 egg white
- 1/4 cup vanilla yogurt
- 1/4 cup olive or grapeseed oil
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
- 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375F. In bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon. In large mixing bowl combine maple syrup, honey, egg, egg white, yogurt, oil and vanilla and mix well. Stir in pumpkin and sweet potato. Add dry ingredients and quinoa and mix until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Place batter in greased or lined muffin tins and fill 2/3 cup full. Bake for 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes, then remove from tins and finish cooling on baking rack. Makes 12 muffins.
Not everything gluten-free turns out well. I remember the last time I tried making a gluten-free banana bread it turned out as hard and dense as a brick. And even though I’m the biggest banana bread fan ever (or pumpkin or zucchini) I couldn’t eat it. Throwing it away was so disheartening I haven’t tried to make anything like it in many months.
I came across a regular (gluten) banana bread recipe in my recent copy of Bon Appetit. Rather than letting the magazine collect dust in my bathroom with all the other issues, I decided to give this recipe a whirl. The article describing the bread calls it “a sultry night” and they’re right. Even subbing out gluten-free flour and making a few other changes of my own, this bread turned out decadent, moist and yup, downright sultry.
It’s not your light, fluffy banana bread. This is much more indulgent- and adding chocolate chips puts it over the top. No more brick bread in this house. This recipe’s a keeper.
Sultry Banana Bread
Inspired by a recipe in the March issue of Bon Appetit.
- 2 cups gluten-free flour blend (I used Namaste brand)
- 1.5 teaspoons baking soda
- dash of salt
- dash of vanilla
- 3 large eggs
- 1.5 cups unrefined sugar such as Sucanat or coconut sugar
- 3 medium mashed ripe bananas
- 3/4 cup oil (I used grapeseed)
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips and or nuts
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9x5x3 loaf pan with nonstick spray. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in bowl and set aside. In large mixing bowl, add eggs, sugar, oil and bananas. Mix to blend. Slowly incorporate flour mixture. Fold in nuts and/or chocolate chips. Pour in pan and bake until toothpick comes out clean about 60-65 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes, then remove from pan and let continue cooling on baking rack.
Yesterday was my birthday. I was showered with love all day long from calls from relatives, cards that made me cry and voicemails from friends singing me happy birthday (ok just one friend, but it was seriously awesome.) I was blown away by all the Facebook messages I received and as a stay-at-home mom who struggles with feeling isolated at times, I could not have felt more embraced, even virtually.
The other big highlight of my day was a pop-up birthday party thrown for me from my mommy group. What was supposed to be a normal Tuesday afternoon playdate for the kids (and hang-time for the mamas) turned into a champagne drinking, cake eating party in the park.
Did I mention the weather was nearly 60 degrees and sunny? For real. Does that ever happen in DC in February? It did yesterday.
It was a truly blessed day.
Since my birthday party was a surprise, I had no idea there would be cake waiting for me and so I whipped up a batch of these peanut-butter bites to share at the playdate. It took me all of 5 minutes to throw together and was a big hit with the mamas (despite the heavenly chocolate cake.) Claire and I even ate a few this morning for breakfast.
I folded dark chocolate chips into these (I love Ghirardelli 60% cacao chips) but you could easily substitute raisins or other dried fruit. I also didn’t have a full cup of nut butter (I used a combo of peanut and almond) so they were a little dry but still super tasty. I think next time I’ll use more nut butter or maybe a mashed ripe banana too. Sprinkle a little cinnamon on top and you’ve got one tasty little treat.
Great as snacks or healthy desserts for the kids, you can’t go wrong with these little protein packed nuggets.
No-Bake Peanut Butter Bites
- 1 cup nut butter, softened
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 cup flaxseed meal
- 2 tbsp honey or agave
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- coconut flakes
- dash cinnamon
Combine nut butter, oats, flaxseed meal and honey. Fold in chocolate chips. Using your hands, roll into 2″ balls. Place coconut in bowl and roll nut bites in coconut to coat. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Makes about 18 bites.
As I’m typing this, it’s a Friday afternoon and usually by this time in the week I’m flat out exhausted. Truth be told, during many of my daughter’s naps last week I found myself resting in bed too. I even came down with a mild cold last weekend and spent most of Saturday sleeping. I just felt like I could never catch up (life with a 16 month old doesn’t stop and if it does, it’s not for long!)
What a difference a week makes! We’re on day 5 of my detox and I have to say I’ve enjoyed this detox more than any I’ve done before. We have an awesome group of ladies rockin’ out a gluten-free vegan diet and experiencing the incredible effects that clean eating can have on the body, mind and spirit.
I’ve steadily experienced an increase in my energy, as the days went on. I’ve cut out white sugar and caffeine (not an easy task for a coffee lover with a sweet tooth!) and feel more rested and energized than ever. Seriously.
Aside from energy, the other thing I love so so much about this detox is how much happier I feel! I’m normally kind of moody (just ask my husband) but this week I’ve felt even-keeled all week long. It’s a happy, lightness that I just don’t experience when my body is riding the sugar/caffeine roller coaster.
Last night, I wanted a little treat and so I dug out my favorite vegan cookbook, Veganomicon, for some inspiration. Adapted from the wheat-free chocolate chip cookie recipe, I whipped up these little morsels. After not having any sugar all week, they actually tasted a little too sweet! Next time I’ll use less maple syrup and a whole banana.
And when my daughter asked for a cookie, I didn’t hesitate to give her one of these.
Oatmeal Coconut Raisin Cookies (gluten-free, vegan)
- 1 1/4 cups oat flour (or you can use regular rolled oats and mill them)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1/3 cup coconut or olive oil
- 1 tbsp ground flaxseeds (flaxmeal)
- 1/4 cup soymilk
- 1/2 ripe banana, mashed
- 1/2 cup shredded coconut
- 1/ cup sliced almonds
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice mix (or cinnamon, nutmeg, clove)
- splash vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375F. Mix oat flour, salt, pumpkin pie spice mix and baking soda and set aside. In small bowl combine ground flax and soy milk and stir until well combined. Add maple syrup, oil, vanilla and whisk for about a minute. Stir in mashed banana. Mix wet ingredients into the dry oat mixture. Fold in coconut, raisins and almonds. Spoon onto ungreased baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. Yields 18 cookies.
I have been wanting to make a veggie chili for some time now, and New Year’s Day seemed like the perfect occasion for it. I know there are a ton of chili recipes out there and at the risk of getting overwhelmed by them all, I decided to just make my own impromptu creation sans recipe.
I kept this chili simple but included some of my favorite flavors like balsamic vinegar, maple syrup and soy sauce along with the essential chili powder. And for this special occasion I busted out the trusty Crock-Pot (normally kept in storage because we have no room for it on our counter.)
And boy did it turn out good! I love it when I’m surprised by my own random creations.
Just turn on the Crock-Pot, dump in the ingredients and 8 labor-less hours later you have a whole big batch of healthy comfort food. And guess what? For those of you detoxing with us week after next, it’s detox friendly!
It’s also perfect to freeze and pull out during a busy weeknight when you don’t want to cook (and believe me, I don’t always want to cook.) I’ve stashed away a couple of servings in my freezer already as a little detox week gift to myself.
Easy Crock-Pot Chili
- 4 cups assorted dry beans (I used a 16 bean soup mix), pre-soaked in cold water for several hours
- 2 small cans diced tomatoes
- 1 can tomato paste
- 1.5 cups water or veggie broth
- 2 cups frozen corn
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 1 squash, diced
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 2 cups sliced mushrooms
- 4 diced carrots
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 3 tbsp chili powder
- onion and garlic powder to taste
- salt and pepper
Directions: Place all ingredients in Crock-Pot and stir. Adjust seasonings to taste. Cover and cook on high for 8 hours or overnight.
Interested in detoxing with us? The New Year’s Detox that starts January 14th! Click here to get the deets.
It’s 6pm on a Monday and I realize I haven’t even thought about what to cook for dinner.
I’m feeling pretty good about what I’d accomplished for the day (load of laundry-started, stamps for the holiday cards-purchased, gym-check, take Claire to the park-yes ma’am) but going to the store and meal planning wasn’t one of them.
It’s nights like these that demand something that’s a no-brainer. And not the “let’s just order pizza” kind of no-brainer, as tempting as that may be.
Busy weeknights call for a recipe that is easy, versatile and actually tastes good.
So that’s exactly what this recipe is. And it’s one of my favorites because you can literally use any combo of veggies you find in you fridge or freezer (never had okra or collard greens in Thai food? Me either, but it turned out great.)
Even better, it’s vegan so even though its creamy and warming, it won’t leave you too tired to wrap all those Christmas presents stashed away in your closet (or is that just me?)
10-minute Thai curry
- 1 block extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into cubes
- 1 can coconut milk (I prefer regular, not lite)
- 2 tbsp Thai curry paste (found in int’l section of grocery store. Can be red, green whatever you like. Adjust amount according to how spicy you like it.)
- splash of honey or maple syrup
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 3 cups chopped veggies (literally anything you want!)
- Garnish options: lemon juice, bean sprouts, peanuts, sesame seeds, more chili if you like it hot.
Add coconut milk, soy sauce and honey to large saute pan over medium heat. Stir in curry paste and bring to a boil. Add tofu and veggies, cover and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. Serve over brown rice or with rice noodles. Garnish with your favorite toppings. Serves 4.
Ps-this is just one of the awesome detox friendly meals we’ll be enjoying during my New Year’s Detox that starts January 14th! Wanna learn more? Click here.
This soup was inspired by my Healthy Mama, Guille’s awesome squash and sweet potato soup that I made a few weeks ago. I luckily froze some before heading out for Thanksgiving and was so happy to find it waiting for me to enjoy when we got back. It was amazing reheated, but left me wanting more! So with a hankering for more root vegetables and warming comfort food, last night I threw together this stew.
Also inspiring this stew was the fact that I went to Trader Joe’s yesterday and found these awesome bags of pre-peeled and cut butternut squash and sweet potatoes, along with a bag of pre-rinsed, chopped and cut greens. Major score! It made this soup even easier to pull together in no time.
It was just what my body was craving. Savory and slightly sweet, it turned out creamy and delicious. And one thing I love about plant-based meals is that they never leave me feeling heavy or bloated. This was no exception.
Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Stew
CL note: if I weren’t planning to give this to my 14 month-old daughter I would also add a dried chili pepper to give it some heat.
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 medium onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- fresh sage, chopped
- 2 cups peeled, diced butternut squash
- 2 cups diced sweet potato
- 1 cup diced eggplant (optional, I threw it in bc I had some)
- 1 large can fire roasted tomatoes
- 1 can coconut milk
- 3 cups mixed greens (mustard, kale, collard, spinach etc.)
- 1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- salt and pepper to taste
- plain Greek yogurt (optional if you aren’t detoxing)
In large pot, turn heat to medium. Once hot, add oil and chopped onion, cumin and sage. Stir until onion is translucent about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add squash, sweet potato and eggplant and combine. Add tomatoes, coconut milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 20 minutes. Add beans and greens and cook on medium-low, covered for an additional 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over brown rice and with a dollop (or two!) of Greek yogurt.
Ps. This stew is perfect for detox week coming up in January! We’ll be eating all kinds of delish food that’s also super healthy. No going hungry on this detox, I promise!
In honor of my Healthy Mama program, this fall I am featuring whole foods based mom-favorite recipes that are good for you, taste great and easy to make-the trifecta of mom-friendly cooking. This week’s recipe is from my bff from childhood, Rachel. We’ve literally known each other since we were 3! I ‘m so lucky to have a lifelong friend like Rachel-not only is she the amazing mama of 3, she also lives on a farm, raises her own chickens and is all-around awesome!
Rachel’s Black Beans and Rice
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2-3 large cloves garlic, minced
- 3-4 Tbl extra virgin olive oil
- 2, 25 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2, 14.5oz. cans diced or chopped tomatoes, drained
- 1, 4oz. can chopped mild green chilies ( if you want more heat use the hot ones)
- 4-6 cups of your favorite rice
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
- 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
- salt and pepper
- low fat sour cream
- Heat olive oil over medium in a large pot and add onions, saute for 3-4 minutes.
- Then add garlic, bay leaf, and a little salt and pepper. Saute for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add black beans, tomatoes, chilies, cumin, thyme, oregano, and salt and pepper. Reduce heat to simmer and cover. Cook for 20 minutes. If it seems to have too much liquid then leave the cover off for a bit.
- Serve the beans over rice and top with a generous dollop of sour cream-Enjoy!
*If you have a recipe that you’d like featured on my blog this winter, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.