Purple Vegetables: So Hot Right Now

Hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgivings! Thanksgiving is one of our favorite holidays, but it’s not so kind to our waistlines. In fact, according the Calorie Control Council, the average turkey dinner (plus appetizers) clocks in around 4,500 calories — yowza!

Well, the good news is that you can have your fall-themed foods and eat them too. With greens like kale and Swiss chard in season, along with other Cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage, to name a few) and potatoes galore, fall vegetables can pack a major nutrition punch and can help you get back on track. Who says the holidays have to be entirely gluttonous? Enter, purple vegetables.

purple_potato

Seriously — look at these purple sweet potatoes! Such a gorgeous color!

I’ve been reading Jo Robinson’s book, Eating on the Wild Side: the Missing Link to Optimum Health, wherein she discusses the history of our favorite fruits and vegetables along with the most nutritious varieties found in stores/farmers markets and the best nutrient-sparing ways to prepare them. Through her book, I’ve learned that many of our favorite vegetables started out purple — corn, potatoes, carrots and many others. Most purple vegetables get their color from anthocyanins, a type of polyphenol (antioxidant), that may aid in cancer prevention and improve heart health, among other benefits. Thus, the original [purple] varieties of vegetables were often more nutritious.

It’s safe to say that since reading the book, I’ve been searching for purple or other “odd”- colored vegetables — orange cauliflower, purple kale and of course, purple potatoes. So you can imagine my excitement when I came across purple sweet potatoes at Whole Foods (seriously, it was embarrassing — people were staring). But check these things out (!):

purple_sweet_potato

Purple potatoes are the most gorgeous, jewel-tone shade of purple. While the USDA does not provide nutrition information for this variety, according to Stokes Foods, purple sweet potatoes contain 4 grams fiber per 4 oz (medium-size potato), along with 2 g protein and 20 percent daily value of vitamin C (making them an excellent source of the vitamin). They are so delicious, with a creamy, dense texture, that all you really need to do with them is bake them, add a little grass-fed butter or coconut oil and sprinkle with cinnamon. They would also be wonderful roasted with other vegetables such as cauliflower and carrots, with fresh rosemary.

Another, more common purple vegetable to which I’ve taken a fancy is purple (technically red, but it looks purple to me) cabbage. Purple cabbage is — you guessed it — a source of anthocyanins. It also provides vitamins A, C and K, fiber and potassium, all for minimal calories (less than 25 calories for a cup of shredded red cabbage). Nutritionally, it’s a star. However, many people are turned off by it’s bitterness. So, when preparing cabbage, you may need to give it a little extra lovin.

While raw purple cabbage is delicious when shredded and used in an Asian-style slaw recipe, I prefer cooked cabbage during the colder months. I have a Portuguese friend, Joana, who makes the most delicious purple cabbage by sauteeing it in olive oil with salt, pepper and onions (until it’s soft). While I love this method and use it all the time, I wanted to try something new. Since my answer for how to make vegetables crave-worthy is generally, “roast them,” this seemed like the perfect fit for cabbage.

roasted_cabbage

I washed the purple cabbage and cut it into wedges, drizzled with olive oil and roasted it at 375 for about one hour. Then I cracked fresh pepper over the top, along with Himalayan sea salt. It was ridiculously good. Nicely charred on top and bottom, but warm and soft on the inside. The best part was the bottom leaves, which had essentially been oven-fried in the olive oil that had coated the bottom of the pan. Naturally, I ate them all immediately. Look at that crunchy goodness!

cabbage_leaf

Have you discovered any purple vegetables? Let me know your favorite varieties and preparations in the comment section.

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Food Psychology: Trick Your Brain and Body to Eat Less

Food psychology is a complex topic, but can really be connected with the majority of our eating behaviors. Like plate size, for example, which has steadily increased over time. Could that factor into Americans’ expanding waistlines? Or monstrous portions at restaurants, at which we eat more often than we used to (home cooked meals, people – it’s not that hard!). I highly suggest checking out Dr. Brian Wansink’s website, and his various studies on food psychology and how the smallest tweaks (plate color, plate size, environmental cues, color contrast and many others) can greatly affect the amount of food that you eat.

I could go on and on about Brian Wansink and other food psychologists/researchers, but let’s face it, you really only want to know how to cheat the system. AKA you want to know how put all the research and tactics to use. Now, this is not a comprehensive list, but it’s a good start. Let me know if you have other “food cheats.” I always love hearing about them!

1. SERVE EVERYTHING OPEN-FACED

Which looks bigger? This open-faced omelet….

Open-Faced Omelet

Open-Faced Omelet

Or the classic folded-over omelet?

Folded-Over Omelet

Folded-Over Omelet

By the way, both of the above are sweet omelets. The open-faced one has apples and walnuts baked in (with cinnamon sprinkled on top) and the folded-over one has pumpkin puree in the inside and on top (plus cinnamon sprinkle).

The open-faced rule goes for sandwiches, tacos/quesadillas/other tortilla-containing foods, gyros, etc.

2. ADD LOTS OF VEGETABLES. NOW ADD EVEN MORE.

Vegetables contain water (provides volume) and fiber for very few calories, meaning they will fill you up, not out. Try replacing some of your pasta with vegetables. Or add sauteed veggies to pizzas. Or grain dishes (i.e. quinoa, cous cous, brown rice with added veggies). Veggies also provide gobs of vitamins and minerals. And if you’re like most people, you’re not getting enough of those nutrients. Oh, and you’re probably not drinking enough water. Veggies help with that too.

3. USE SMALLER PLATES AND BOWLS.

Picture this scenario…You have a small plate overflowing with food. Now take that same amount of food and put it on a large (what we think of as normal) sized plate. Hmm…which looks like more food? Obviously the overflowing plate seems like more food, and thus your brain can be tricked into thinking that it’s getting a nice giant portion. And to really drive home the vegetable point, if your smaller plate was mostly loaded with veggies, you’d be even better off.

The same goes for bowls. A serving of cereal, for example, is usually 1 cup. However, most of our “cereal bowls” fit 2+ cups of cereal. If you’re not accounting for that, you’re getting hundreds of extra calories daily.

Cup size can undergo a similar phenomenon. Try using taller, thinner glasses as opposed to short, fat, highball-type glasses. You will feel like you’re drinking more in the tall, thin glass and will subsequently feel more satisfied.

4. ADD COLOR!

Having a “rainbow of color,” so to speak, adds visual interest to your meal and also makes the food look more appetizing. Also, the color of food often translates to the nutrients found in that food. For example, anthocyanins are antioxidants that provide the deep purples, blues and reds found in foods like berries, red cabbage and eggplant. Beta-carotene, which contributes to eye health and immunity, among other things, is what gives carrots and sweet potatoes their deep orange hue.

A or B??

A.

Thanksgiving_Turkey_Saute

B.

salmon_mediterranean

See?? Color makes the food look significantly more appetizing. And generally translates to more/a greater variety of nutrients.

5. DRINK WHILE YOU EAT.

Drinking water between bites not only helps you slow down, it also helps you eat less. Water acts as volume and thus fills your stomach up, tricking your stomach into feeling fuller. Broth-based soups have a similar effect, which is why you hear nutrition/health/weight loss experts suggest eating brothy soup before your meal. Basically anything that adds volume to your belly but doesn’t contribute major calories is a plus.

6. DID I MISS ANY??

Perhaps cutting your food into smaller pieces — gives you more bites of the food, but you’re still eating the same amount.

Or: always eat from a plate. Or bowl. Eating straight from the bag or original container makes it hard to keep track of how much you’ve eaten. For example, the chips and salsa provided as an “appetizer” at Mexican restaurants. I don’t know about all of you, but I could polish off a whole basket, mainly because I’m not keeping track of how many chips I’m eating (if I realized that I’d eaten 4 cups, 60 chips or some other concrete amount, I would probably not eat so many).

Salt Is Even Worse Than We Thought

We all know – or at least should know – that salt isn’t good for us. Sure, we need some salt in our diets. And by some salt, I mean 180-500 mg sodium/day. That’s chump change compared to what the average American consumes: close to 3500 mg! The Institute of Medicine (IOM) advises us all to consume 2300 mg of sodium/day or less, and for at-risk groups (those older than 50, African Americans, those with high blood pressure, and those with diabetes and/or kidney disease) the IOM recommends 1500 mg sodium max.

Yeah, yeah. Is it really that big of a deal to eat too much sodium?

YES! A recent study by Darius Mozzafarian (my epidemiologist crush and fellow Armenian) out of Harvard found that excessive salt consumption was linked to 2.3 million cardiovascular deaths worldwide in 2010 alone. For Americans, it was found that one in ten dies from excessive salt intake. The researchers concluded this based on, “247 surveys on sodium intake and 107 clinical trials that measured how salt affects blood pressure, and how blood pressure contributes to cardiovascular disease like heart attacks and stroke.” Read more about this study on abcnews.com.

That’s not the only downside to sodium intake. Several recent studies published in the journal Nature have linked sodium intake to increased risk for and/or exacerbation of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Their studies were so groundbreaking because scientists discovered the actual pathway for why this happens. Basically, sodium chloride (NaCl, or table salt) causes an increased production of T17 cells, a type of immune cell that promotes inflammation and triggers autoimmune diseases such as MS.

That’s kind of scary stuff, but on a non-Debbie Downer note, the above is totally preventable. Eat. Less. Salt. This is not necessarily an easy task. Remember the recommendation I discussed earlier to consume less than 2300 mg of salt? This is what 2300 mg of salt looks like:

Salt_Recommendations

Yes, that’s ONE TEASPOON of salt a day. So if you think of all the salt found in our food, especially processed foods, you will hopefully also think twice about using the salt shaker. Though restaurants, from fast food to gourmet, are absolutely guilty of over-salting dishes, guess what the top source of salt is in the American diet??

Wait for it….

Wait for it…

Does anyone else love How I Met Your Mother, especially Barney??

BREAD! Shocking, yes, but if you think of how much bread we eat (toast with breakfast, sandwich at lunch, etc., it makes sense. We eat a lot of bread and bread is naturally high in sodium (because sodium stops the growth of yeast and is thus an essential part of the bread-making process). Other top sources, as outlined by the CDC (in order):

  • cold cuts and cured meats
  • pizza
  • poultry
  • soup
  • sandwiches
  • cheese
  • pasta dishes
  • meat dishes
  • snack foods

This information makes avoiding salt seem as difficult as avoiding the bubonic plague, but I assure you, it’s not. Here are some recommendations:

Bread (since it’s the top source): sprouted grain bread (I love Trader Joe’s version) is a great swap for regular bread. It is lower in salt than other slices mostly due to the fact that sprouted grain slices are usually smaller than regular bread slices. You can also find no salt added breads, but they’re pretty gross-tasting (not gonna lie). Other options: swap bread for corn tortillas, wraps or even low sodium crackers.

For the salt shaker users: studies have shown that our taste buds adjust to less salt (same goes for sugar) after about 2-3 weeks. Try gradually adding less and less salt to your food so that your taste buds can slowly adjust.

Herbs and spices: a great replacement so that you can still add lots of flavor without all the sodium. Some of my favorites are rosemary (especially on roasted root veggies), basil (on everything!), pepper, chili flakes, cumin and lemon pepper. Even the line of Mrs. Dash seasonings aren’t half bad.

Acidity: lemon juice, vinegar and other acidic liquid can give the sensation of saltiness on the palate with having to use actual salt. Try making your own vinaigrette instead of using store-bought dressings (which are usually high in salt): just mix equal parts olive oil and vinegar.

 

In general, avoid processed foods whenever possible (for many reasons, including the fact that processed foods are usually high in sodium). Prepare your own grains (Rice-A-Roni and even the healthier-seeming couscous packages are LOADED with salt). Use low sodium versions of products like broth/stock, premade soups, canned beans and veggies, condiments, etc.

Also remember to drink lots of water daily, as water sticks to salt in our bodies and helps “flush” it out. And potassium, found mainly in fruits and veggies, can counteract the effects of sodium. This is yet another reason to eat your fruits and veggies!

Whatever you do…PUT. DOWN. THE. SALT. SHAKER! I promise you’ll feel better when you’re not all hopped up on salt.

 

 

Vegan Pesto Made With Farmed Here’s Sweet Basil

I recently had the pleasure of visiting Farmed Here‘s vertical farm – a magical place sprouting with delicious basil and arugula. Their indoor aquaponic and aeroponic growing systems are extremely innovative and I feel truly are the future of farming.

The trip left me craving more basil, especially their delicious Sweet Basil variety. And what better way to honor basil than to make it into pesto. When life gives you basil, make pesto?? For the best pesto recipe, I went to my biggest (and best) cooking influence: my Mom. I tweaked her tried and true recipe just a bit to make it vegan, substituting nutritional yeast for Parmesan cheese and adding in the juice of a lemon to freshen it up and counteract the yeasty taste.

Next on my list is to make this recipe using Farmed Here’s Lemon Basil, which has the most amazing and bright lemon flavor.

Vegan Sweet Basil Pesto

Vegan_Pesto

Farmed Here’s box actually keeps the basil extra-fresh. I used it as a house for my jar of pesto.

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 tablespoon pepitas, toasted
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in food processor and process until smooth and consistent.

 

Tasted scrumptious on roasted cauliflower…

Roasted_Cauliflower_with_Pesto

 

 

Tandoori Tempeh Kabobs with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce

Tempeh is hands-down my favorite soy product. Pronounced temp-ay, tempeh is a fermented soybean product that also contains whole grains (I love the Organic 3 Grain Tempeh from Trader Joe’s, which includes millet, barley and brown rice), giving it a nice texture and crunchiness. High in protein and fiber and with mostly unsaturated fat, tempeh is a wonderful vegan/vegetarian protein.

What I like most about tempeh, however, is its versatility. I can cut it into strips, cube it, halve it and even mash it to incorporate it into various recipes. Tempeh originated in Indonesia and naturally pairs well with Asian flavors, however, I love using it for other types of cuisine: rustic, with carrots and onions and earthy herbs like rosemary, “down-home,” with BBQ sauce, corn and greens and even sweetened up with roasted acorn squash, nuts and dried fruit. Here’s my latest concoction: tempeh skewers (who doesn’t love food on a stick??) with peanut dipping sauce. You can also see some of my other tempeh creations below (blog posts to follow).

Tandoori Tempeh Kabobs with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce:

Tandoori_Tempeh_Kabobs

Ingredients:

Tempeh Kabobs:

  • 1/2 block of tempeh (I used the aforementioned TJ Organic 3 Grain Tempeh), cubed
  • 1 cup sliced carrots, preferable organic
  • 1 Tbsp tandoori spice
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Sriracha sauce, to taste
  • 2 skewers (can you tell I used chopsticks??)

Dipping Sauce:

  • 1 Tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 2 tsp low sodium teriyaki sauce (I like the Island Teriyaki version from TJ, which contains yummy sesame seeds)
  • Sriracha, to taste

Directions:

In medium saute pan, heat olive oil for 1 minute. Add carrots and saute 5 minutes. While carrots are cooking, toss tempeh with tandoori spice (or if you’re lazy, sprinkle tandoori over tempeh) and skewer. When carrots are done, transfer from pan to plate and add tandoori tempeh skewers to pan. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side, until you get a nice sear on all sides of tempeh. Serve skewers over cooked carrots and garnish with Sriracha sauce.

For dipping sauce, heat peanut butter for 20-30 seconds in microwave, or until the peanut butter is nice and melty. Add teriyaki sauce and Sriracha to taste.

 

More tempeh favorites:

Tempeh and Eggplant “Ratatouille:”

Tempeh_Eggplant_Ratatouille

 

Tempeh-Stuffed Acorn Squash:

Tempeh_Stuffed_Acorn_Squash

 

Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Cauliflower Pizza “Crust”

I will admit to being a total girl and getting the idea for a cauliflower-based pizza crust from Pinterest. I mean, let’s be honest though, Pinterest is amazing! What else would I spend my time on? Something meaningful and productive? I think not.

I had recently seen lots of pins about a cauliflower pizza crust and/or cauliflower “bread sticks.” After making Tandoori Cauliflower a couple weeks ago, I became cauliflower’s biggest fan (never really liked it before). I knew I had to test out the crust idea. Plus, at least half of my coworkers are allergic to either gluten and/or dairy. So I am always looking for recipes that they can also enjoy.

Most of the recipes I found on Pinterest contained mozzarella cheese, so I adjusted to my needs (dairy-free, gluten-free). I was skeptical as to whether this would taste great or gross, and must say that my expectations were blown out of the water! This was absolutely delicious. My only problem was that I didn’t make enough of it. I can’t wait to try it with different toppings and maybe a little cheese (I don’t have an intolerance, so why punish myself — cheese is delicious).

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Cauliflower_Pizza_Crust

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 head raw cauliflower, riced (using potato ricer) or grated (should look like little cheese-like crumbles)
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast*
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat olive oil in pan for 1 minute. Add minced onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add cauliflower and cook another 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to medium bowl. Add remaining ingredients. Mix until well incorporated.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread cauliflower mixture onto parchment. Shape into 8″-9″ circle. Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until top is browned and crust is crisp.

Top with your favorite pizza ingredients. I spread mine with tomato paste, sweet pepper jam, crunchy kale and kalamata and green olives and baked an additional 7 minutes. With the pepper jelly and an extra sprinkling of chili pepper flakes, it was the perfect sweet/spicy combo!

*Since the original recipes I saw called for 1 cup shredded mozzarella, I replaced with 1/2 cup nutritional yeast to give a cheesy taste without actual cheese. If you’ve never used nutritional yeast, it has a cheesy taste, is vegan and gluten-free and contains protein (6 g per 1/4 cup), phosphorous (supports bone health) and potassium (helps regulate blood pressure among other things). Not to mention that 1/2 cup (the amount used in the entire recipe) contains only 90 calories (plus 12 grams protein). You can find nutritional yeast at Whole Foods and/or at your local health food store.

 

 

 

Eggs Baked in Tomato Sauce

If you’re like me, you can’t get enough eggs. Fried or poached eggs, when placed over any food, create the most unctuous, delicious, satisfying meal (in my opinion at least). Seriously, what is better than a perfectly runny yolk? They’re just so creamy and wonderful and smooth and they really complete any meal….

Whoa, just had a little egg moment…I’m back now. One of the many reasons I love eggs is because of their versatility. Sweet and savory applications plus so many cooking preparations! Even with all the cooking options, I tend to rely on fried and poached eggs, along with omelets. So I felt that I should explore another egg cooking method: baked eggs. You can bake them in different sauces or even bake them in potatoes, tomatoes, avocados – really anything! I decided to try mine baked in a marinara sauce, because I also can’t get enough marinara.

Eggs Baked in Tomato Sauce:

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs per person (I made this for myself only, so I capped it at 2)
  • 1 cup marinara sauce, or if you don’t have any, mix 1 cup canned tomatoes with 1/2 tsp each garlic powder, oregano, basil and black pepper
  • cooking spray
  • For serving: 2 cups arugula (preferably organic)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 2 ramekins with cooking spray and fill each with 1/2 cup marinara sauce. Crack an egg on top of both. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until yolk is set.

baked_eggs

Serve over arugula (spinach or kale would also be good).

baked_eggs_over_arugula

Did I mention how wonderful eggs are for you? Only 70 calories/egg with 6 grams protein. Yes, there is saturated fat and cholesterol in the yolk (though there is nothing wrong with 1-2 eggs a day…anything more than that and I recommend supplementing with some egg whites), but the yolk is also high in lutein and xeazanthin, two compounds that may reduce your risk for macular degeneration. The yolk also contains vitamin A, choline (may help improve brain functioning and reduce inflammation) and even some protein (it’s not all in the white!).

As far as choosing eggs at the store, I recommend Organic, Free Range eggs from chickens that have been fed a vegetarian diet. While these are the most expensive, you are getting what you pay for: higher quality eggs from more ethically-treated chickens, sans the pesticides and antibiotics.

Inside_baked_eggs

Turkey Time

To keep with my recent theme of non-vegan/non-vegetarian foods, I decided to try my hand at some turkey recipes. I absolutely LOVE turkey, but besides its great taste, it has many nutritional attributes. To start, turkey contains the amino acid tryptophan, notorious for causing that sleepy feeling after Thanksgiving dinner (which is probably due more to consuming a giant meal than to tryptophan itself). Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin, which helps to regulate mood, metabolism and even sexuality. With regards to metabolism and mood, tryptophan acts as a mild appetite suppressant and helps decrease anxiety and improve focus, respectively.

Besides the positive effect of tryptophan, turkey can be a very lean protein option – specifically when you choose the white meat. For 93% lean varieties, here’s the nutrition breakdown, per ounce (info according the the USDA Nutrition Datatbase):

  • 59 calories
  • 7 grams protein
  • 3 grams fat
  • 30 mg cholesterol

One of the best parts of turkey? It is delicious and, when talking ground turkey, it’s a super-fast protein option. I have been in a Thanksgiving mood, so I made a Thanksgiving preparation two-ways: as a sauté and as a meatball turkeyball.

Thanksgiving Turkey Meatballs:

Turkey_Meatballs

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces lean ground turkey (93% lean or better)
  • 3/4 cup fresh sage, rinsed, dried and diced
  • 1/4 red onion, minced
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • Topping: 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together and form into 1″ balls. Cook at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes, or until turkey meatballs reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds over the top. Served here with kale chips (see below recipe).

Thanksgiving Turkey Sauté:

Thanksgiving_Turkey_Saute

Not the prettiest, but extremely tasty

Ingredients:

  • Same ingredients as above:
    • 8 ounces lean ground turkey (93% lean or better)
    • 3/4 cup fresh sage, rinsed, dried and diced
    • 1/4 red onion, minced
    • 1/2 tsp black pepper
    • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
    • 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt (to taste)
  • 1 slice bread, preferable sprouted whole grain, cubed
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika

Directions:

Sauté red onion in 1 Tbsp olive oil. Add turkey and cook for five minutes. Add sage, rosemary and pepper and continue cooking until turkey is no longer pink. Remove from heat (transfer to a plate) and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and salt (if desired).* In same pan, add cubes of bread and sprinkle with smoked paprika. Toast the bread cubes and sprinkle around or on top of turkey mixture.

*I added my pomegranate seeds WAY too early in the cooking process, which is why they turned a gross red-brown color (see above picture). Thus, I recommend adding them once you remove the mixture from the heat to preserve that beautiful bright pomegranate pink-red.

Kale Chips:

kale_chips

Ingredients:

  • Kale (the more, the better!)
  • Cooking spray
  • Salt (I love using smoked sea salt)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove kale from stems and rinse, dry thoroughly. Spread kale on baking sheet and spray with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt and other other seasonings you like (suggestions: salt & pepper, garlic powder, cumin, curry powder) and bake for 20 minutes, or until desired doneness (I like mine extra crispy).

Kale is an excellent source of vitamins A and C and a good source of calcium and potassium. It’s also loaded with antioxidants. And kale chips….don’t even get me started. They are delicious, crispity crunchy and really do satisfy a chip craving.

Leftovers, Revisited: Mint Chutney

If you tried the Tandoori Cauliflower with Mint Chutney featured in my last post, you know the deliciousness that is mint chutney sauce. Tasty as it was, I didn’t use up all the sauce on my cauliflower, and had about 1/2 cup left over. I like to think I’m the queen of leftovers; I love to re-purpose them into an entirely new and delicious dish. One of my many dreams in life is to be on Food Network’s Chopped because I get a thrill out of taking seemingly random ingredients and combining them to perfection close-to-perfection (er, most of the time). Instead of a basket, like they use on Chopped, I just look in my fridge to see what I can combine to create a new meal.

So, with leftover mint chutney on hand, I explored my fridge, freezer and pantry. Hmm…tortillas, canned tuna, frozen mixed bell peppers, red onions, curry powder. Sound random and weird?? Trust me, what I created – Indian Tuna Curry Tacos – was scrumptious!

Indian Tuna Curry Tacos

Indian Tuna Curry Tacos

Ingredients:

  • 2 small corn tortillas
  • 1 can tuna (half salt – from Trader Joe’s), drained
  • 1 cup julienne bell peppers (I used frozen tricolor peppers from TJ’s)
  • 1/4 cup minced red or white onion
  • 1 tbsp hot sauce (optional)
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Topping: 1/2 cup mint chutney (featured in my last blog post)

Directions:

Saute minced onions in 1 tsp olive oil for 2-3 minutes. Add bell pepper and saute another 3-5 minutes. Mix in tuna and sprinkle with curry powder. Cook for 1 minute. Distribute the mixture evenly into each corn tortilla, then drizzle each taco with 1/4 cup mint chutney and 1/2 Tbsp hot sauce (if desired).

Voila! Dinner in about 15 minutes. Plus omega-3 fatty acids from the tuna to reduce inflammation, improve cognition and promote heart health. And the added bonus of using up the food in your fridge – doesn’t it feel good to actually finish your leftovers??

Breakfast Dilemma Solved

Banana Pumpkin Omelet

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The Sweet or Savory Breakfast Dilemma

I’m sure you’ve had this happen. You’re at a restaurant or at home trying to decide: do you want the sweet pancakes, waffles or French toast? Or are you in the mood for a delicious omelet (e.g. the savory breakfast option).

I believe I solved this issue today when I made a Banana-Pumpkin-Cinnamon Flourless “Crepe.” This is basically a sweet omelet. I was inspired by the egg mixture that you dip bread into whilst making French toast. Why couldn’t I make an omelet like this? And before you get grossed out thinking about an omelet with fruit in it, let’s review all of the sweet applications for eggs: the aforementioned French toast, soufflé, meringues, any baked good…

Is it making sense now? Trust me, this was absolutely delicious with just the right amount of natural sweetness from the bananas and cinnamon, yet not overly sweet, which is usually what you find with a waffle, French toast and the like.

Protein Breakfast

Banana-Pumpkin-Cinnamon Flourless “Crepe”

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole egg + 1/3 cup egg white
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon (or about 2 “shakes”)
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 banana, sliced
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree

Directions:

Beat egg and egg white with vanilla and cinnamon until fluffy. Heat 1 tsp coconut oil in a small omelet pan. When oil is melted, add egg mixture to pan. Distribute slices of banana evenly in egg/omelet mixture. Put a lid on it and cook until omelet sets. When omelet is fully cooked, fill it with half of the pumpkin puree. Fold the omelet in half and drizzle remaining pumpkin puree over the top. Sprikle with cinnamon if desired. You can also add a drizzle of honey on top, though I didn’t feel it was necessary.

Pictured with a piece of Manna Cinnamon Date Bread (this stuff is amazing!).

This protein-rich breakfast will keep you full and also satisfy your sweet tooth. Plus it also contains potassium (banana, pumpkin), vitamin A, vitamin C and even a little iron – all from that delicious, fall-like pumpkin.

Banana Pumpkin Omelet