Chocolate Coconut Sweet Potato Muffins {Paleo, Gluten-Free}

Sorry for the lull in posting, everyone. We recently moved and, as I’m sure you can all appreciate, it sucked up a lot of my time. Now that we’re more settled, you can look forward to many delicious recipes and informative blog posts to come. And the coming recipes will have a theme…

SWEET POTATOES!

After getting 10 pounds (no joke) of sweet potatoes from my CSA, I have been dreaming up many different sweet potato recipes — both savory and sweet.

As an inaugural recipe, I thought some sweet potato muffins would do the trick (and set the bar high for a series of delicious sweet potato dishes).

These sweet potato muffins are amped-up with coconut and chocolate chips. In case you didn’t know, chocolate chips make any baked good better. This is especially true when you’re trying to lighten up a recipe. A little pinch of chocolate chips goes a long way, my friends.

coconut_chocolate_sweet_potato_muffins

These muffins are inspired by this month’s Recipe ReDux theme:

Creative Quick Breads: The holiday baking season is upon us. And this month we’re going way beyond grandma’s banana bread. From sweet to savory and whole-grain to gluten-free, show us your new quick bread creation fresh from the oven.

For those that are paleo, gluten-free, grain-free or trying to cut down on sugar, these muffins are for you. They are made mostly from a variety of coconut products (oil, flour and shredded coconut), plus sweet potatoes, eggs, maple syrup and seasoning. Literally — that’s it. Oh, and chocolate obviously.

So with the colder/snowy weather (at least in Chicago) here, it’s time to get your baking on!

chocolate_sweet_potato_muffins

Chocolate Coconut Sweet Potato Muffins

These muffins are perfect as a better-for-you-dessert, or for a breakfast treat, pair one of these with a protein shake. They are grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo and contain very little sugar. Enjoy!

Yields 12 muffins.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large sweet potato, cooked (baked or microwaved) and peeled
  • 3/4 cup coconut flour
  • 3/4 cup virgin coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mash cooked and peeled sweet potato in a large bowl.
  3. Add all remaining ingredients EXCEPT for chocolate chips and mix well.
  4. Add paper liners to muffin tin (or grease). Then, add 1/3 cup scoop to each muffin tin. Top each muffin with 1 Tbsp. chocolate chips. Then press chocolate chips into tops of muffins.
  5. Bake for 25-50 minutes, or until tops of muffins bounce back.

paleo_sweet_potato_muffins

Quick breads make a great gift — who doesn’t love a delicious, “Baked With Love” present? To see more delicious quick breads, whether you want them all to yourself or you’re willing to share with loved ones, check out the link below.

Red Velvet Protein Bites {Recipe ReDux}

Red Velvet doesn’t have to mean cake and artificial food dye. Beets lend the most beautiful reddish-purple to these protein bites, along with an earthy taste. Keep these bites in the freezer for a healthy, nutrient-packed-but-treat-worthy snack!

red_velvet_protein_bites

I know you’re probably already celebrating, but tomorrow is National Nut Day!! On this joyous occasion what else would you want to do besides eat some nut-tastic foods? Well, the ladies of Recipe ReDux are equally as nerdy excited about nuts so they tasked us with sharing a nut-filled recipe for this month’s post.

And who doesn’t also love a delicious protein/energy bite? They are a great way to disguise nutrition as a dessert. Us dietitians love to pull that shit. Healthy dessert? Me? Nahhh.

beet_hands

Well, if there’s one thing I don’t want in my dessert or any of my food, it’s artificial food coloring. I don’t understand why we need it. I mean nature is full of amazing colors and flavors and I quite prefer the natural-ness.

Which is why I’ve never been a big fan of red velvet cake. While true red velvet cake utilizes beets for the red color, most bakeries take the shortcut and use red coloring. And sadly, I can guarantee you that many Americans would choose an artificially-colored red velvet cake over a beet-colored cake. [Sighhh]

This recipe relies on the nutritious and humble beet to provide both a sweet and earthy flavor as well as a gorgeous color. I mean, just look at the number the beets did on my hands ^^.

red_velvet_energy_bites

Red Velvet Protein Bites

Keep these frozen as they maintain their texture best that way. These only have 2 tablespoons of sweetener for the entire recipe but pack lots of protein and healthy fats from the almonds (almond meal and almond butter).

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup vanilla protein powder, such as Gold Standard Natural
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 2 small beets
  • 2 Tbsp. honey, preferably local
  • 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp. almond butter
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash beets well and chop ends off. Then, dice beets and spread on a baking sheet. Bake until soft.
  2. Add beets to a food processor and process until smooth. Then add all remaining ingredients EXCEPT for dark chocolate chips and process until well-mixed.
  3. Line a tupperware container with plastic wrap, then pour beet mixture into the container.
  4. Heat chocolate chips in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until melted.
  5. Using a fork or spoon, drizzle chocolate over beet mixture. Stick the container in the freezer for 30 minutes, then cut into 1″ squares and store in freezer.

For more deliciously nutty recipes, check out these Cookie Dough Protein Bites, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Hazelnuts or one of my all-time favorite nut butter recipes, Toasted Coconut Cashew Butter.

Oh, and did I mention all the amazing nut-filled recipes from fellow ReDuxers? Click the link below for those (and look for even more tomorrow)! 

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. 

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  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.

olive_hummus_with_wine

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.

mediterranean_hummus 

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  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.

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.

heirloom_tomato_taco_salad

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.

zesty_heirloom_tomato_taco_salad

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

Ingredients:

  • 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)

Directions:

  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.

zesty_tomato_taco_salad

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!

rainbow_green_beans

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_green_beans

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.

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  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.

miso_mustard_green_beans

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_shepherds_pie

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!

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  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.

paleo_shepherds_pie

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!

Toasted Coconut Cashew Butter {Recipe ReDux}

Wow! I can’t believe it’s already May 21. That means t-minus one week until yours truly’s birthday AND it’s Recipe ReDux time! This month we were tasked with showcasing kitchen staples that we now make from scratch – but in the past purchased.

For me, that’s got to be nut butters. Ever since discovering how easy it was to make nut butter thanks to my Homemade Nutella recipe from a previous Recipe ReDux, I’ve been making a new type of nut butter weekly.

And I literally have to make a new jar weekly. The boyfriend likes to eat massive spoonfuls straight out of the jar, so we go through nut butters pretty quickly in our household. [I also eat it straight from the jar but in much smaller, daintier bites.]

coconut_cashew_butter

After making some bomb almond butter (#nerd) and delicious peanut butter, it was time for the big dog: CASHEW BUTTER.

This started out as one-ingredient cashew butter, but as the butter was “churning” in my food processor, the evil genius in me came out and I felt compelled to elevate the butta’ with, what else but unsweetened shredded coconut. Because coconut is delicious and full of healthy fat (yes, saturated fats can be healthy too). And because I’ve been wanting coconut in everything lately.

Whatever you do, please, pleeaasseee don’t be intimidated by “homemade nut butter” — it’s super-easy and while it takes about 10 minutes to get all dreamy and creamy, it only takes about 2 minutes of hands-on time and the flavor combinations are endless. Add some cinnamon, smoked sea salt, ginger or go savory with paprika, curry or rosemary. This is your nut butter party and you’ll add what you want to.

Toasted Coconut Cashew Butter

This really is amazing straight out of the jar, but is also fantastic drizzled over Greek yogurt, as a dip for fruit (pears are especially delicious) or as part of the most insane-good cashew butter and jelly sandwich known to man.

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz. raw, unsalted cashews
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp. sea salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lay cashews on a baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes, or until fragrant. toasted_coconut_cashew_butter
  2. Let cashews cool for about 15 minutes (or longer) — they get hot in the food processor so the cooler they are, the better.
  3. Add to food processor and process for about 10 minutes, or until it forms a creamy butter. See stages of nut butter chart below.
  4. Once cashews form a creamy butter, add coconut and sea salt and process another 2-3 minutes.

stages_nut_butter

STAGES OF NUT BUTTER

  1. Intact Nuts
  2. Nut Meal/Flour
  3. Giant blob of nut butter (it helps to smash this apart a couple times)
  4. Creamy, dreamy nut butter

Check out more amazing homemade creations from the talented Recipe ReDuxers by clicking the icon below. Enjoy!

Goat Cheese, Dried Plum and Rosemary-Stuffed Chicken Thighs with Sautéed Hazelnut Vegetables

By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by California Dried Plum Board and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Happy May, everyone! May is a beautiful month — flowers blooming, temperatures heating up, my birthday…(#justsayin).

Before the weather gets too warm to use the oven, I have been trying to cram in all the delicious roasted meats and vegetables I can. And delicious they are.

Stuffed chicken is always tasty, but for whatever reason, I find myself making my stand-by of baked chicken with BBQ or teriyaki sauce most of the time. Maybe stuffed chicken, meat, etc. just seems more complicated (even though it’s not), which also makes it look all-the-more impressive when you do break out a recipe like this one.

goat cheese_dried plum_rosemary_chicken

I owe the inspiration for this recipe to the California Dried Plum Board, who tasked us Recipe ReDuxers with developing creative ways to use dried plums — formerly known as prunes — in everyday cooking.

Besides May being my birth month, it’s also National Osteoporosis Month, something that we all should care about. I think so many times, we forget about bone health, but it is so crucial to health, especially as we age. Strength training and other weight-bearing activities can have a huge positive impact on bone health, not to mention overall health. Food is also important — and not just dairy! Enter, dried plums.

Emerging research shows that eating dried plums may have positive effects on bone health. Previous studies discovered that eating 100 grams (two servings; about 8- 10 dried plums) of dried plums for one year was associated with increased bone mineral density (BMD) and improved indices of bone turnover in postmenopausal women. Another study indicated that one serving of dried plums may be as effective in preventing bone loss in older, osteopenic postmenopausal women. You can read more about dried plums and bone health here.

BUT, as well all know, if we don’t enjoy the food being recommended, then we probably won’t eat it.

Fortunately, this is not a concern with dried plums, because they are DELICIOUS and super-verstile in the kitchen. I prefer to use mine in a savory way, as seen here.

I’ve also been trying to cut down on and eventually eliminate added sugars from my diet, so I was thrilled to know that dried plums can be pureed and used as a replacement for refined sugar in recipes. Dried plums are naturally sweet but not as cloyingly sweet as straight sugar, which is a major win in my book. No need for uber-sweet desserts here, folks.

goat cheese_dried plum_chicken

Goat Cheese, Dried Plum and Rosemary-Stuffed Chicken Thighs with Sautéed Hazelnut Vegetables

You can choose to make just the chicken and pair it with another side, but the combination of the vegetables with hazelnuts and this chicken is scrumptious. Feel free to change up the vegetables used if you’d like — sautéed kale and other greens would pair also pair nicely.

Ingredients:

Stuffed Chicken

  • 1.5 lb. boneless, skinless, chicken thighs, pounded
  • 3/4 cup California Dried Plums, puréed or finely mashed
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. dried rosemary
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt

Vegetable/Hazelnut Sauté

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil, preferably cold-pressed
  • 2 cups spinach or other leafy green
  • 1/2 white onion, sliced
  • 2 cups carrots, thinly sliced into ribbons (you can also use a peeler to get this effect)
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lay hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes, until fragrant. Set aside to cool.
  2. Using a fork, mash California Dried Plums, goat cheese and rosemary together. Lay pounded chicken thighs on a baking sheet and evenly distribute goat cheese and dried plum mixture onto half of chicken thigh. Fold the other half of the chicken thigh over the mixture. If this sounds confusing, imagine the filling as a hot dog and the chicken as the bun.
  3. Brush the stuffed chicken with 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. sea salt. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the chicken reaches a temperature of 165 degrees. About 30 minutes in, brush with remaining balsamic vinegar.
  4. Meanwhile, while the chicken is baking, heat olive oil in a large skillet for 1-2 minutes, then add onions and saute for 2-3 minutes. Next, add the carrots and saute about 10 minutes, or until desired doneness. Add in the spinach and cook for 1-2 minutes, until just wilted. Turn stove off then add balsamic vinegar and sea salt and toss.
  5. Chop cooled toasted hazelnuts. Sprinkle over vegetables.

To see more ways in which Recipe ReDuxers use naturally sweet, convenient and nutrient-dense California Dried Plums, check out the link below.

6-Ingredient Miso Honey Roasted Chickpeas {Recipe ReDux}

Do you ever rummage through your fridge or pantry and think, ‘I really have to use up x before it goes bad’? It could be a random spice at the back of your spice cabinet, a condiment on your fridge door, a special kind of grain you only needed once (hello, arborio rice!), etc. Well, it’s spring which means it’s spring cleaning time! And spring cleaning should definitely involve food items too — which is why we’ve been tasked with doing just that for this month’s Recipe ReDux:

Spring cleaning: Go through your pantry, cupboards, freezer, or fridge; what ‘treasures’ have you found? Pick an ingredient/spice/condiment that’s been hanging out for a while and give it the attention it needs. Share a healthy recipe made using your new-found pantry prize.

Roasted_Miso_chickpeas

I had almost too much inspiration this month so I decided to combine two neglected ingredients into this recipe, which I have to give myself kudos for since this recipe only involves six ingredients total (for all you math nerds, that means 1/3 of the ingredients).

The first: chickpeas. I pretty much always have either canned or dried chickpeas — AKA garbanzo beans — in my pantry. For the most part, I end up hummus-izing them (yep, I just invented a new word). But then I found miso hanging in the fridge and thought, ‘hey, these could go together’.

Miso has such an amazing, umami flavor and adds a really interesting depth to recipes. I personally like to hit as many different taste buds with my recipes as possible, so added some sea salt, honey and citrus (lemon) to round things out.

This recipe’s beauty comes not just from its taste but also from its simple ingredient list and very hands-off preparation. Hope you enjoy!

miso_honey_roasted_garbanzo_beans

Miso Honey Roasted Chickpeas

These roasted chickpeas get super crunchy — almost like nuts or croutons — and make a great topping for salads and stir fries and are equally as delicious on their own!

miso_honey_garbanzos

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans chickpeas (about 4 cups), preferably organic, no salt added
  • 2 Tbsp. Miso (use a soy-free, chickpea-based version like the one pictured above if you want to go soy-free)
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil, preferably unfiltered, cold-pressed
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425. Add miso, olive oil, lemon juice and honey to a bowl and whisk until well combined.
  2. Add chickpeas to the miso mixture and toss to coat. Lay on a baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt.
  3. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until chickpeas are crunchy. (I like mine nice and charred as you can see from the photos). Note: the chickpeas will continue to harden after you take them out of the oven.

Warning: these are extremely addicting so try to control yourself when they come out of the oven. If you can’t, though — no worries. They’re not exactly junk food. 😉

To find out how other Recipe ReDuxers use buried food “treasures,” click the link below. Happy eating!