Fall Flavors Series: Vegan Caramel Apples + Butternut Squash Curry

This fall, it’s my goal to go to the apple orchard (and to make the boy come with). Who doesn’t love to be surrounded by gorgeous fall foliage, delicious, freshly-picked apples and maybe an apple donut dipped into apple cider?

What’s even better, though, is when you get to take your freshly-picked, local apples and turn them into CARAMEL APPLES. And just in case you avoid dairy, are cutting down on sugar and/or avoiding corn syrup (often found in the caramel of caramel apples), are a vegan or just want a ridiculously easy, delicious, better-for-you caramel recipe — this caramel is perfect.

For a recent dinner party, I used Blissful Basil’s Five Minute Vegan Caramel as a part of a caramel apple “bar.” Imagine a sundae bar with all of the delicious toppings but instead of putting them on ice cream, you dipped your caramel apples in them.

Exciting, right?!


Vegan Caramel Apples with Toppings

This is a fun, hands-on and healthified dessert that makes a great option for parties. Kids would love this as well — just change out the toppings with whatever you have on hand/enjoy best. Thanks to Blissful Basil’s amazing recipe for making this happen.


  • 6 tart and crisp apples, such as Granny Smith, cut into wedges
  • Juice of one orange
  • 1/2 cup unsalted almond butter
  • 1/2 cup [real] maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup virgin coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • Toppings: unsweetened coconut flakes, candied ginger, candied pecans, and sea salt


  1. Add apple wedges and orange juice to a zip-top bag and store in the fridge until ready to use.
  2. Heat almond butter, maple syrup, coconut oil, salt and cinnamon in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to low-medium and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool (ideally in the fridge) for 20-30 minutes. Note, you can enjoy the caramel hot but it will thicken up the colder it gets.
  3. “Skewer” apple wedges using wooden skewers, popsicle sticks, or in our case — chopsticks!
  4. Lay out toppings in small bowls with spoons.
  5. Once caramel thickens, let your guests dip their apple wedges in and then choose their toppings.

I’d say these are some happy apple sundae-goers…

vegan_caramelvegan_caramel_apples caramel_apples

BUT WAIT! It’s not all about the dessert here. There’s also an amazing, easy entree: vegan butternut squash and lentil curry over coconut-lime cauliflower rice. Unfortunately, the curry didn’t photograph so well in the nighttime lighting so there’s no beautiful picture to show you. But just because there’s no photo, doesn’t mean it’s not insane-good.

Also, why have I not made curry in the crockpot before? It’s so easy and the longer you let it chill in the crockpot, the more the flavors meld together and the whole thing turns into this amazing, warming curry.

Butternut Squash and Lentil Curry over Coconut-Lime Cauliflower Rice

The cauliflower “rice” helps lighten this dish up a bit, making it lower carb AND higher in fiber and nutrients.

Curry Ingredients:

  • 2 butternut squashes, peeled, seeded and cubed (1/2″ cubes)
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and diced
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • 2 cups orange lentils (any color/type would work well here)
  • 1 Tbsp. yellow curry paste
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. turmeric

Curry Directions:

  1. Throw all ingredients in the crockpot and turn to high. Cook for 4 hours, or until butternut squash and lentils are soft.

Cauliflower Rice Ingredients:

  • 2 heads cauliflower
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • Zest and juice of 2 limes
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 2 Tbsp. virgin coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. sea salt

Cauliflower Rice Directions:

  1. Wash cauliflower, remove leaves, and cut in half. Remove cauliflower “core.” Chop cauliflower into chunks and add about 2 cups worth at a time to a food processor. Pulse for 1-2 second intervals until cauliflower is a rice consistency. You can also grate the cauliflower on a box grater or just chop it up really well for the same effect, sans food processor.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium. Add coconut oil and onions and saute onions for 2-3 minutes. Add cauliflower and saute for about 15 minutes. Add in lime zest and juice, shredded coconut and sea salt. Cook an additional 2-3 minutes.

Serve the curry over the cauliflower rice. And an expert tip here — make EXTRA and freeze the leftovers in individual containers for later enjoyment. I actually think it almost tastes better when re-heated.

Natural Hangover Remedies

So the wine was flowing a little too much last night, or your friends decided that Fireball shots at 1 AM were a good idea (NEVER a good idea). Now you’ve woken up with a splitting headache, stomach/GI discomfort, “out of it” feeling, extreme thirst or any combination of these symptoms. Hopefully this isn’t a regular occurrence, but if you do find yourself in this predicament, what to do?


Besides getting hooked up to a banana bag, stat, here are some tips for getting over your hangover.


  1. Eat Fat. While I want everyone to include fat in their meals/snacks, it is especially important to eat fats before drinking. Fatty foods delay the absorption of alcohol. That doesn’t mean you should eat a big ‘ol fried meal. Go for healthier fats like olive oil, coconut oil, butter, avocado, nuts/nut butters or a combination of these foods.
  2. Take Your Vitamins (and Minerals). Many vitamins, such as vitamin C and the B vitamins — along with other nutrients such as potassium, magnesium and sodium — can help prevent dehydration, control hangover symptoms and help you detox faster after drinking too much. You can either pop a vitamin or include a variety of foods at your pre-drinking meal. Try having some meat, a variety of vegetables cooked in healthy fats (see above), sprinkled with sea salt, with perhaps some nut butter as “dessert.”


  1. Water. You’ve heard it before, but drinking water while you drink alcohol (ideally alternating water with an alcoholic drink) helps fend off dehydration. Better yet, add a little salt to that water as the salt will help you retain more water — a good thing in the case of drinking.
  2. Choose High-Quality, Clear Alcohol. Gin and vodka contain fewer congeners, which are toxic chemicals produced during the making of alcohol. Colored alcohol such as whiskey, cognac and tequila contain more congeners, and thus make for a more wicked hangover.
  3. Stick to One Type of Alcohol. Mixing different alcohol is not only bad for your tummy/digestive system; it also makes it harder to keep track of how many drinks you’re having.
  4. Drink Less (DUH). This is definitely easier said than done. Try leaving the bar/party on the earlier side — maybe have a code with your significant other or friend. Or, ask for the bartender to give you a larger glass and fill it with more club soda (not more booze). It will take you more time to drink this larger volume, i.e. you will drink less overall.


  1. Sleep in. While sleep won’t cure your hangover, it will help improve immunity, since a night of drinking takes a toll on the immune system.
  2. No Hair of the Dog. Having more alcohol the morning after drinking will only prolong your hangover. Try water with lemon — which can help detox your liver — and coffee instead.
  3. Eat a Healthy Breakfast. As much as you want crappy, greasy foods, they won’t help in the long run and will surely make that GI discomfort worse. Instead, try eggs, which contain cysteine that helps clear the liver of chemicals. Add some vegetables (read: antioxidants, vitamins and minerals) and healthy fats, like avocado, into the mix and you will feel better in no time.
  4. Get Moving. Are you going to run a marathon? No. But at least aim for a nice long walk. Fresh air and gentle movement is great for your hangover.

Cheers to a “healthy” night out, friends! If you have any other hangover remedies, please do share!

Fall Flavors Series: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Hazelnuts

Brussels sprouts get an upgrade with toasted hazelnuts and orange juice and zest. This side dish is perfect for the holidays or a random weeknight.

Happy Friday! This has definitely been one of those weeks that feels like it’s never going to end and then, all of the sudden, Friday sneak-attacks and all is good. Isn’t that the best feeling?

A couple of weeks ago, I got to cook dinner for a group of ten awesome women as part of a fantastic event, Your Mat, Our Table. The event brought together women interested in healthy food and fitness by combining a one-hour rooftop yoga class overlooking Chicago and then a multi-course vegan, gluten-free meal made by moi, featuring dishes like my Kale, Roasted Butternut Squash and Pomegranate Salad and this yummy Brussels sprouts dish.

The menu utilized almost 100% local foods procured from the Evanston Farmers Market, mostly from Green Acres Indiana and Geneva Lakes Produce.

I was like a kid in a candy store that day at the market — was awesome getting to see, smell, touch and ultimately taste all that great produce whilst chatting with the farmers and other market patrons.

Did I mention the farmers market is my happy place? #nerdalert


Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Hazelnuts and Orange Zest

These Brussels are gluten-free, vegan and most importantly, delicious. Either buy a bag of them or, if you’re a glutton for punishment like me, get a stalk or two and saw those puppies right off (try not to cut yourself).


  • 2 lbs. Brussels sprouts, washed with outer few leaves removed
  • Zest and juice of one orange
  • 2 cups hazelnuts
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt


  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Cut ends off of sprouts and then quarter them. Toss with olive oil and orange juice, then spread on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Roast for 25-30 minutes, or until slightly charred.
  3. Meanwhile, chop hazelnuts and lay on baking sheet. Toast in the oven for 5-10 minutes, until the hazelnuts become fragrant.
  4. Sprinkle roasted Brussels sprouts with orange zest and toasted hazelnuts and serve.

Stay tuned for more recipes from the event, including vegan caramel apples. This Sunday, I’ll be posting the recipe for {crock pot} Butternut Squash and Lentil Curry with Coconut-Lime Cauliflower Rice. Get pumped!

Fall Flavors Series: Kale and Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

Happy Fall, y’all! With fall comes brisker weather — which as someone who is always warm, I quite enjoy — along with delicious foods. Pumpkin, anyone? See also: Brussels sprouts, squash in all shapes and sizes, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, etc.

I recently prepared a multi-course vegan meal for a group of wonderful women. A couple of friends came up with the idea for an event, GATHER: Your Mat, Our Table. The event included an hour-long rooftop yoga class and then a delicious vegan meal prepared by yours truly using almost completely local ingredients. Here’s the menu lineup (and credit to the farms that supplied the goods, AKA the veggies):

Lacinato kale,  cinnamon-roasted butternut squash and pomegranate salad with candied pecans and a fig-balsamic dressing

Roasted Brussels sprouts with orange zest and toasted hazelnuts

Purple and sweet potato fritters with spiced apple sauce

Butternut squash and lentil curry over coconut-lime cauliflower “rice”

Caramel apple bar

*Lacinato kale, purple and sweet potatoes from Green Acres Indiana Farm; Butternut squash, red onions, red peppers, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts from Geneva Lakes Produce; Apples from K & K Farms*

This was my farmer’s market haul for the event:


Many of the awesome ladies at the event were asking for recipes, so I figured I would do a series of posts. I want to first highlight my personal favorite dish of the night (and one of the easiest to make!): a roasted butternut squash and kale salad.

I’m all about color and texture in my recipes, and this one really offers it all. Crispy kale, the “pop” of pomegranate, the smooth, creamy texture of roasted butternut squash plus candied pecans on the side to add sweetness and crunch.

Drizzle it with a super-simple Mission fig balsamic vinaigrette and you’ve got a major crowd favorite.


Fall Kale, Butternut Squash and Pomegranate Salad

This salad is vegan but to add a little more protein, try topping with grilled chicken, salmon or to keep it vegan/vegetarian and up the protein, add some lentils or chick peas to the mix.


  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 2 bunches lacinato (AKA dinosaur) kale, preferably organic, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil plus 3 Tbsp. olive oil, preferably cold-pressed
  • 1 large pomegranate
  • 8 oz. pecan halves
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 2 tsp. coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp. fig balsamic (you can find at specialty grocery stores or olive oil/vinegar shops) Substitute balsamic vinegar if you can’t find fig balsamic 
  • 1 tsp. maple syrup


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Cut the ends off of the butternut squash then cut in quarters. Scoop out the seeds. Using a sharp knife, cut the peel off, then dice into 1/2″ cubes.
  3. Toss diced butternut squash and red onion with coconut oil, cinnamon and sea salt. Spread on a baking sheet and roast for 25-30 minutes, or until desired level of char (I like mine really charred).
  4. While squash and onions are roasting, add kale to a large bowl and drizzle with 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Using hands, massage oil into the kale. This will take out some of the bitterness and make the kale a better texture. Put the massaged kale in the fridge to marinate while you prep everything else.
  5. To remove the seeds from the pomegranate, roll the pomegranate gently around on the table (before cutting into it). You will hear and feel the seeds loosening. Then, cut the pomegranate in quarters and scoop out the seeds. Keep seeds refrigerated.
  6. Add 2 tsp. coconut oil to a pan and heat for 1 minute, then add pecans, 1 Tbsp. maple syrup and 1/2 tsp cinnamon to pan and toast, stirring frequently, for about 5-7 minutes.
  7. Using a whisk, mix vinegar, 3 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 tsp. maple syrup.
  8. On top of “massaged” kale, add pomegranate seeds, roasted butternut squash/onions and candied pecans. Drizzle with dressing.

Stay tuned for more fall recipes coming your way. And while I’m not generally a “vegan” cook, these recipes have mass appeal and include REAL foods that anyone can get behind. Hope you enjoy!

Spiced Beef Stew {Recipe ReDux}

When the weather cools down, there’s nothing I love more than stew. Okay, maybe I love pumpkin more, but I digress.

Not only is stew fool-proof, but it allows for creativity. Have carrots? Peppers? Onions? Eggplant? Great! Now throw in some meat and seasoning and you’re good. You can change up the protein or vegetables or spices and create a completely new and delicious stew.

The true beauty of stew, though, is the leftovers! Make a big batch and freeze the leftovers in individual containers for a quick meal when you get home late from work or just don’t feel like cooking.

The whole make-extra-and-freeze-for-later principle was the theme for this month’s Recipe ReDux:

Fantastic Freezer Meals:

Share your tips and tricks for making one – or more freezer meals. It’s the end of the gardening season for some of us; let’s store away that produce in heat-and-eat-from-the-freezer-meals. Show how convenient healthy freezer breakfast, lunches or dinners can be!

My freezer meal is the aforementioned stew, but with a spiced Moroccan twist.

The key ingredient here is grass-fed beef, which provides a rich, slightly gamey taste that I absolutely adore. Look for 100% grass-fed beef because it, along with all 100% grass-fed meats, contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is the plant form of omega-3 fatty acids. In other words, grass-fed meat has a healthier fat source, not to mention it means the animal had a happier, freer life.

lamb chili

Spiced Beef Stew

Top this stew with a little quinoa or some sauteed potatoes and you’ve got a hearty, filling meal. Make a big batch of the quinoa/potatoes and you’ve got another side ready to go for later eating. 


  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil (virgin)
  • 1.5 lb. grass-fed beef cubes (such as sirloin)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 10 carrots, sliced
  • 1 small eggplant, cubed
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes, preferably no salt added
  • 2 tsp. curry powder
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. cardamom


  1. Heat coconut oil in a large pot. Add onions and saute for 2-3 minutes, then add beef. Saute beef for 5 minutes, making sure to sear all sides of the beef cubes.
  2. Add remaining ingredients, and bring to a boil, then simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until carrots and eggplant are tender.

For more amazing freezer meals, check out the link below! 

Olive and Red Wine Hummus {Sponsored Recipe ReDux}

I am currently blogging from #BlogBrulee at beautiful Smuggler’s Notch Vermont. I’m only half a day in and already I feel like I’ve learned so much and met the most amazing, inspiring bloggers. More on that to come – or if you can’t wait, check out my last post, which explains all about the awesomeness that is Blog Brulee.

I owe my ability to even go to Blog Brûlée to Recipe ReDux, which not only gives me creative recipe ideas every month and allows me to connect with fellow Recipe ReDuxers; it also means I get introduced to awesome foods/food brands/commodity boards like California Ripe Olives. They’ve challenged us ReDuxers to utilize and highlight California Ripe Olives in a unique and tasty recipe that also includes other flavors represented in the Mediterranean Diet e.g. vegetables, legumes, nuts, fish/seafood and more.


I received free samples of California Ripe Olives mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by California Ripe Olives and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

 If you haven’t gathered from my blog/social media food posts (which make up about 99% of my posts), I am a HUGE fan of Mediterranean foods, and being half Armenian, grew up eating the best.

My favorite Mediterranean food – hell, my favorite food period – is hummus. Hummus has the perfect blend of lemony-garlicky-olivey flavor that works just as well as a dip, spread, condiment or to eat with a spoon (guilty). Beyond the deliciousness, hummus provides great nutrition. My clients often think that hummus is “fattening.” Grrrrrr, the “fattening” comment AKA one of my dietitian pet peeves.

[Stepping on soapbox] First off, foods that contain fats, specifically the good ones – monounsaturated, omega-3s, etc. – do not make you fat. In fact, those fats bring down inflammation in your body, which can make you feel better and also decrease your risk for various health issues such as diabetes, heart disease and inflammatory issues like rheumatoid arthritis and IBS.

Second, let’s compare hummus to other condiments such as BBQ sauce, ketchup, premade salad dressings and all the other junk. Hummus generally contains whole, real ingredients, barely any sugar and not much sodium. It is an infinitely better condiment than the other aforementioned sauces, which are generally LOADED with salt, sugar/high-fructose corn syrup, weird oils, preservatives and more. [Stepping off soapbox]

Okay, back to my love affair with hummus and also my love for olives, which I’m not sure I’ve mentioned yet but which is real and true.

Olives are an essential part of the Mediterranean diet and contain monounsaturated fat (1.5 grams per 4-olive serving) – the good fat, as we’ve discussed. California Black Ripe Olives are as nutrient-loaded as they are tasty. They contain vitamin E (0.25 mg per serving), iron, (0.49 mg per serving), vitamin A (60 IU per serving) and fiber (0.5 grams per serving). California Ripe Olives are extremely versatile in the pantry.
Since I love hummus already, I figured why not pump up the olive flavor with California Ripe Olives? Oh, did I mention there’s also red wine thrown in the mix? Because sometimes when you’re making California Ripe Olive Hummus and drinking red wine, you have crazy ideas like adding said wine to the hummus. And sometimes these ideas actually turn out great, as they did here. Cheers to that!

California Ripe Black Olive and Red Wine Hummus

Serve this savory, briney hummus with your favorite vegetables, cheeses and meats or enjoy it spread on a sandwich or “dilute it” with some oil and vinegar like I do to turn it into a salad dressing.



  • 2 (15 oz.) cans garbanzo beans, drained and well-rinsed
  • 1 can California Ripe Black Olives, drained, with 2-3 olive reserved
  • 1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil plus 1 tsp.
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp. sea salt


  1. Add all ingredients, except for olive oil, to food processor and process until smooth.
  2. Drizzle olive oil through the feed tube and process until well-incorporated.
  3. Chop reserved olives and add to the top of the hummus as a garnish. Drizzle with 1 tsp. olive oil.

For more California Ripe Olive recipes, check out the link below.

Improving My Blog Through Blog Brûlée

It’s hard to commit to a behavior change when you feel that you have too much on your plate. I hear this from clients all the time…”work is stressful right now so I don’t have the energy to cook” or “I don’t have time to exercise because I have too many other things to get done.” There are many more excuses, and I will admit that plenty of them have come from my own mouth.

Recently, I came to the realization that in order to make positive changes, you MUST feel that there is a reason for doing it, i.e. eating better to manage diabetes or to lose weight or exercising to become stronger. For example, I never find it difficult to eat healthy because I feel a million times better when I eat well versus when I eat crap. And I can see my body changing and my strength improving with exercise, so of course I want to keep it up.

As much as I love blogging, it is something that I have to devote major time and energy towards without necessarily seeing a major benefit (as in, more readers or revenue). Consequently, I don’t post often, which means my readership doesn’t improve, which means I continue to not make money off of my blog. Kind of a vicious cycle, no?

Enter Blog Brûlée, also known as the kick in the pants, savior, inspirer and booster-upper that I’ve been seeking (okay, I haven’t gone yet, but I’m pretty confident that I’ll be saying these things — and then some — after the event). 

blog brulee

My attendance at the Blog Brûlée is/was partially funded by Sponsors of the Blog Brûlée (hyperlink to blogbrulee.com), and I received a discounted registration to the event in exchange for writing this post. Opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated for my time.

Blog Brûlée is an invitation-only, exciting, experiential weekend shared among a small, intimate number of healthy food bloggers and Registered Dietitian bloggers. The event is designed to provide education and professional development opportunities, as well as a forum for discussion and relationship building surrounding topics such as blogging and social media best practices, fundamentals of food photography, communication and marketing strategies, community niche development, brand identity and monetization.

I am sure that Blog Brûlée will provide many useful takeaways, but I am most excited to:

  • GET INSPIRED by like-minded bloggers, who are at all stages of their blogging journeys. There are truly some fantastic attendees going this year, who have already inspired me through their gorgeous photos, clever writing and delicious recipes. I CANNOT WAIT to meet these amazing ladies in person.
  • LEARN how to monetize my blog, take more captivating photos and communicate my food and nutrition knowledge to readers in a more engaging way.

But none of this would be possible without the masterminds behind Blog Brûlée. They are four amazingly talented women who continue to inspire me as a dietitian and [novice] food blogger: Regan Jones, RD (Healthy Aperture, The Recipe ReDux and RDs4Disclosure) Gretchen Brown, RD (kumquat), Deanna Segrave-Daly, RD (Teaspoon Communications) and Robin Plotkin, RD (Robinsbite).

There are also some fantastic sponsors, for whom I’m very thankful and with whom I’m incredibly excited to interact. In fact, I don’t think I could have chosen better sponsors myself. I am a huge supporter of them all and feel completely confident promoting their brands. They all represent REAL FOOD, which is my number one nutrition motto (#JERF).

So much excitement and it’s still nine days away!! Check out the awesome sponsors for yourself:










Zesty Heirloom Tomato Taco Salad {Sponsored Recipe ReDux}

One of the best parts of summer is the amazing produce that’s available in Chicago — especially fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes (or fresh-from-the-CSA in my case).

Top those tomatoes with deliciousness in the form of taco-seasoned lean ground beef (plus some other goodies), and you’ve got a light summer meal.


By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by The Beef Checkoff and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Now, I am not a chicken breast all day, every day kind of girl. I love beef, whether it’s a perfectly-grilled steak, juicy burger, tacos, meatballs or meatloaf, beef frequents my table.

Beyond the delicious flavor of beef, it’s got loads of nutrition. First off, let’s talk protein. A 3-ounce serving of lean beef provides 25 grams of protein and 10 essential nutrients.

Emerging research indicates that evenly distributing daily protein intake at meals and snacks throughout the day (~20 to 30g/eating occasion) may potentially contribute to benefits for body weight management and appetite control.

On a related note, protein-packed foods — like beef — promote satiety which can help cut down on mindless eating. I’ve found that my clients who eat more high-quality protein and fats are better able to cut down on sweets and snacking throughout the day.

I especially love grass-fed beef, as it contains a better fat ratio (more conjugated linoleic acids, which function similar to omega-3s). You can find great grass-fed options at most grocery stores and your local farmers market.

To find out more about grass-fed and grain-fed beef, check out the Beef Checkoff’s infographic.


The Beef Checkoff program also offers a great interactive Butcher Counter where you can learn all about the cuts of beef, including which options are considered lean.

Zesty Heirloom Tomato Taco Salad

Salads don’t have to be made with greens! Top fresh tomatoes with all the toppings for a nice, light dinner. Heirloom tomatoes are super-delicious here, but cherry or regular tomatoes would also work great.

Serves 4


  • 1 lb. lean ground beef (90% or better), preferably grass-fed
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 4 tomatoes, preferably locally-grown (because they taste soooo much better)
  • 1 avocado, washed, peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 1 green onion, sliced (white and green parts)
  • 1 Tbsp. each lemon and lime zest
  • 1 lime, quartered
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • Plain Greek yogurt (optional)


  1. Add lean beef to medium skillet and sprinkle with cumin, ground pepper and chili powder. Saute until cooked through.
  2. While beef is cooking, wash and core tomatoes, then cut into 8 wedges. Prepare avocado, green onions, lemon and lime zest and cut lime into 4 wedges.
  3. Lay tomatoes onto four separate plates, then sprinkle cooked ground beef over tomatoes, and garnish with avocados, green onions and zest. Sprinkle with sea salt and squeeze a lime over each serving. Add a few dollops of optional plain Greek yogurt if desired.


For more awesome lean beef recipes, check out the link below! 

Miso Mustard Green Beans {Recipe ReDux}

If you follow me on Instagram (@danaartinyanRD), you know that I’m kind of obsessed with my CSA from Green Acres. It’s organic, locally grown and always exciting to see what treasures I’ll get in the week’s haul. I especially love all the weird exotic stuff, e.g. nettles (have to wear gloves when you handle them/cook them so that you don’t get a rash), Scarlet turnips, all colors of carrots and Swiss chard — though I guess that’s not so exotic, depending on who you ask.

I have a special place in my heart for vegetables that are “abnormal” in color: yellow cauliflower, purple asparagus, red carrots and so on. Growing up, my mom always made a point to make sure our meals were colorful, which I’ve carried into my own cooking. So the crazy-colored veggies fit in perfectly. Last week, I got these rainbow green beans and was thrilled to use them in this month’s “Fresh From the Garden” Recipe ReDux:

The season of bountiful produce has arrived. Whether your produce comes from the Farmers Market, a CSA share, or a plot of dirt out back, show how you are using fresh July fruits or veggies. And if you have gardening successes – or failures – please share!


I can thank a former Recipe ReDux for my love for miso paste. It lends a savory flavor complexity that I get really geeked about. A couple months ago, I was cooking with friends and made some roasted green beans with a miso-mustard sauce, so this recipe is a play on that. It might sound simple or maybe even strange, but trust me, you will be DREAMING about these miso mustard green beans for days. You’re welcome.


Miso Mustard Green Beans

Try these with chicken, steak or grilled tofu. If you don’t have green beans, I’m pretty sure this sauce would be amazing on whatever you put it on, so not to worry. I especially recommend cruciferous vegetables and sweet potatoes.


  • 1 lb. green beans (multi-color if available), preferably locally-grown and organic
  • 3-4 large carrots
  • 1 Tbsp. virgin coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp. miso paste (I used a chickpea-based, soy-free version from Miso Master)
  • 1 Tbsp. grainy mustard
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. local honey


  1. Wash green beans and carrots well. Cut ends off of green beans and carrots. Julienne carrots (into small matchsticks).
  2. Heat oil in a medium skillet for 2-3 minutes. Add green beans and carrots and saute for 10-12 minutes, or until desired level of char is reached.
  3. While the vegetables are sauteeing, add remaining ingredients to a bowl and whisk until well-combined.
  4. Toss vegetables in miso mixture and serve warm.


Who else is obsessed with their CSA? What’s your favorite CSA treasure thus far?

For more great locally-grown recipes, click the link below!

Mediterranean Shepherd’s Pie {Recipe ReDux}

When I say PIE, you say…

Shepherd’s Pie (??)

To be honest, I’ve never actually had Shepherd’s Pie until today, but when the ladies of Recipe ReDux tasked us with showing our “Pie Love,” I wanted to go savory. And that’s where Shepherd’s Pie comes in.

I have been taking more of a paleo approach to my eating as of late, and eating more healthy fats and less carbohydrates. Most importantly, though, I’ve been trying to cut sugary foods out of my diet. At one point in my life, I was very addicted to sugar, and felt that I had to have dessert after every meal, with my snacks and really any time I could get my hands on sweets. While I still like sweeter foods, I’ve been working to cut junk out of my diet and eat real foods — e.g. fruit instead of cookies and donuts. I found that when I stopped eating a low fat/high carb diet and learned to embrace healthy fats, my sugar cravings naturally improved.

Thus, this is less of a traditional “pie” and more of a meal that you can eat time and time again, switching up the protein, seasoning, or mash (in this case, an amazing sweet potato-parsnip mash that is delicious in its own right).


Mediterranean Shepherd’s Pie (Gluten-Free, Paleo)

Grass-fed lamb adds a delicious flavor, and is pure perfection when combined with the natural sweetness of raisins and the freshness of mint, then topped with a delicious sweet potato-parsnip mash. Enjoy!


  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 3 parsnips
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, preferably cold-pressed, unfiltered
  • 2 Tbsp. grass-fed butter, such as Kerrygold
  • 3/4 cup beef stock
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil, preferably cold-pressed, unfiltered
  • 2 lbs. grass-fed lamb
  • 1 white or yellow onion, diced
  • 3/4 cup canned tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash sweet potato and parsnips well and cut into ~1/2″ cubes. Toss with 1/4 cup olive oil, and roast (I roasted mine in a cast iron skillet) for 35-40 minutes, or until tender.
  2. Add roasted sweet potato and parsnips to a food processor, add butter (it should melt from the heat of the roasted vegetables) and process 2-3 minutes. Add beef stock and seasoning (cumin, rosemary, sea salt and black pepper) and process until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Turn oven down to 350 degrees.
  4. In an oven-safe skillet, such as a cast iron skillet, add 1 Tbsp. olive oil and heat for 1 minute. Add diced onion and saute for 3-5 minutes. Add the lamb and saute until the cooked through. Add in the canned tomatoes and raisins and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture begins to thicken.
  5. Turn the heat off, and stir in the mint. Level out the lamb mixture.
  6. Spread the sweet potato-parsnip mash in a thin layer over the lamb, making sure the mash reaches the sides of the skillet. If desired, use a fork to make a design or write a message in the mash. Sprinkle the green onions around the outside of the skillet and press them into the mash slightly.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top starts to brown.


This is a great dish to make when you’re having company (a set and forget kind of thing) or as a part of meal prep, for a satisfying dish that will last you the whole week! Serve with green veggies, such as sauteed green beans or spinach, and you have yourself a complete meal!

For more PIE LOVE, click the link below!