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?!

caramel_apples_with_toppings

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.

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  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.

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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

brussels_sprouts

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).

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  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!

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.

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!

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.

Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Coconut Curry Beet Sauce {Recipe ReDux}

Who doesn’t love leftovers? Cook once, eat twice…or three, or four times.

Instead of just reheating the leftovers, though — c’mon, you know that gets boring — why not repurpose them into a completely new and delicious dish?

That’s what we were tasked with doing for this month’s Recipe ReDux:

Two for One

We’re all about cooking once and eating twice. In short, double dinners are better. Show us how you take a favorite recipe already on your blog – and ReDux the leftovers into a new dish. Or, whip up a new healthy recipe and give suggestions on how to make it a second meal. For example, slow cooker pot roast could become shredded beef tacos; or grilled chicken breasts might morph into chicken salad.

roasted_carrots_coconut_curry_beet_sauce

A few weeks ago I made this delicious {vegan} Coconut Curry Beet and Butternut Squash Soup, and I packaged the leftover soup into individual containers and then stuck the containers in my freezer for future soup-eating occasions.

Now, the soup was delicious, don’t get me wrong, but after eating it for a week straight, I was completely beet souped out. And I still had a couple containers left.

What’s a girl to do??

(#firstworldproblems)

roasted_carrots_beet_sauce

MAKE IT INTO A SAUCE! And drizzle that sauce onto the most perfectly-roasted rainbow carrots.

Did you know that carrots started off as PURPLE — not orange? Some think that orange carrots were first bred in the Netherlands to honor King William of Orange, but whatever the real story, the orange color has seemingly stuck since that time.

I like all carrots, but rainbow carrots are just so gorgeous! And the different colors mean that they have a variety of nutrients — beta-carotene (vitamin A) in the orange carrots, anthocyanins (powerful antioxidants) in the purple carrots and Xanthophykks and lutein (linked with cancer prevention and eye health) in the yellow carrots.

Roasting them brings out their natural sweetness and earthiness. I could eat them straight out of the oven (with a little sea salt), but the addition of this beet sauce completely elevates them and will totally impress your dinner guests.

roasted_carrots

Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Coconut Curry Beet Sauce

Serve this delicious veggie dish with grilled chicken or steak — or keep things vegan with marinated/roasted tofu. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. carrots, preferably organic rainbow carrots
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
  • 3/4 cup leftover Coconut Curry Beet and Butternut Squash Soup
  • 1 Tbsp. lime zest (from organic limes)
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecan pieces
  • 1/4 tsp. smoked sea salt (regular, non-smoked sea salt would also work)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash/scrub carrots and cut the ends off. Lay carrots on a baking sheet and drizzle with melted coconut oil. Toss the carrots a few times to evenly coat them with oil.
  2. Roast carrots for 30-40 minutes, or until tender. Transfer the carrots to your serving platter.roasted_coconut_carrotsroasted_rainbow_carrots
  3. Using a spoon, drizzle carrots with leftover beet soup, then sprinkle with lime zest and pecans.

roasted_carrots_coconut_curry_beet_sauce

Check out the link below for infinite leftover meal ideas from the members of Recipe ReDux. Enjoy!

Holiday Salad with Pecan and California Raisin-Crusted Goat Cheese {Sponsored Recipe ReDux}

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

The holidays are certainly upon us. I’m not sure about you all, but we have holiday parties/festivities for the next several weekends (not that I’m complaining). That means lots of food, and most of it not very healthful.

My general plan of attack for myself (and what I recommend to clients) is to bring a couple dishes that you have prepared and feel good about eating. That way, when you’re surrounded by marshmallow and sugar-laden sweet potato casseroles, creamy vegetable sides and indulgent desserts galore, you at least can at least eat/feel good about eating the dishes you brought (and maybe skip some of those disgusting creamy casseroles).

brussels_butternutsquash_raisins_goatcheese1

For the holidays, my go-to dish is a salad. It’s the dish I volunteer to make for all my holiday parties, partially because I don’t trust others to make a good salad — I’m a control freak and I’ve never denied that — and partially because I make a damn good salad.

So when the folks at California Raisins tasked us with creating recipes that are “naturally sweet for the holidays,” my mind went to salad.

When making a salad, I love taking seasonal vegetables and adding just a touch of sweetness, whether that’s a honey-infused vinaigrette, raisins, or both, as I’ve done here. California Raisins add natural sweetness with zero fat, no cholesterol and no added sugar. Plus, they offer 9% your daily fiber and potassium, and 6% of your daily iron.

brussels_butternutsquash_raisins_goatcheese

They’re a great choice for wholesome at-home or on-the-go snacking, plus they lend themselves well to both savory and sweet applications, where they provide natural sweetness.

They are seriously amazing for snacking, though, as evidenced by the fact that my roommate and I snacked on a pretty portion of the bag of California Raisins before I even started to create my recipes, to the point where I had to go back to the store to get several more bags. No biggie though, because California Raisins are the most economical dried fruit, according to the USDA.

As a sidenote, I love to pop a few raisins with peanut or almond butter — ants-on-a-log sans the celery, if you will — and also add them to my plain Greek yogurt to add extra nutrition and a little natural sweetness.

They also were d.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s. in my Vegan Moroccan Stew, which I made for another ReDux a few months ago.

Recipe: Raw Brussels Sprouts and Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Pecan and California Raisin-Crusted Goat Cheese

This salad is perfect for the holidays and because the Brussels sprouts don’t wilt like other greens, you can actually prep and dress the salad up to 1-2 days ahead of time. California Raisins add a great sweet note to the salad and the goat cheese brings just the right amount of tang.

brussels_butternutsquash_raisins_goatcheese2

Ingredients:

  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb fresh Brussels sprouts
  • 3/4 cup California Raisins, divided (1/2 cup plus 1/4 cup)
  • 8 oz. log Chevre goat cheese, sliced into 1/2″ rounds
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Directions:

  1. Peel butternut squash using a sharp knife then cut in half, lengthwise, and remove the seeds from the middle. Dice into small (~1/4″) cubes. Toss with 1 Tbsp. olive oil and lay on a baking sheet. Roast at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes, or until the squash is soft.
  2. While the squash is cooking, cut/shred Brussels sprouts, then wash and thoroughly dry them (or use a salad spinner).
  3. Mix 1/4 cup California Raisins, pecans and rosemary and gently press mixture into both sides of the goat cheese slices.raisins_pecan_rosemary_goatcheese
  4. In a large bowl, add balsamic vinegar, 2 Tbsp. olive oil, honey, pepper and salt. Use a whisk to mix.honey_balsamic_dressing
  5. Add shredded Brussels sprouts, roasted butternut squash, and remaining 1/2 cup California Raisins and toss with dressing.          brussels_butternutsquash_honey_balsamic
  6. Top with pecan and California Raisin-crusted goat cheese.

To make it a meal, try adding grilled chicken, turkey or fried eggs, as I did for breakfast yesterday.

CARaisins_GoatCheese_Salad_witheggs

See how other Recipe ReDuxers are using California Raisins by clicking the link below.

Cheesy Phyllo Bites {Recipe ReDux}

It’s almost Thanksgiving!! Have you figured out your Turkey Day menu yet? Holiday meny planning is a favorite activity, especially when done with my mom. Whether we’re physically together or discussing over the phone, we brainstorm back and forth to come up with the perfect menu.

Needless to say, we’ve been plotting what to make for Thanksgiving for a couple weeks now. We wanted to make something to honor my Grandma Sona, who passed away over the summer. She was truly a very special lady and we all miss her more than words can say.

My Grandma was the most amazing cook, even though she would tell you she really didn’t like cooking. While she’s made quite a few memorable dishes, my favorite was always Boreg. It’s an Armenian savory phyllo dough casserole similar to Spanikopita, but with the spinach subbed out for cheese and eggs. It’s seriously divine.

So when the folks at Recipe ReDux challenged us to share one of our favorite food memories and the healthier “redo” of the recipe, my decision was easy-peasy.

cheesy_phyllo_dough_bites

I had made Boreg with my Grandma only one time, after convincing her to show me how. I quickly tried to jot down her recipe (or lack thereof) and eyeball how much cheese, milk, eggs, etc. she was using and managed to come up with a relatively straightforward recipe. We had a really great day cooking and hanging out together. And our Boreg was phenomenal, as always. She was very patient showing me how to handle the phyllo dough, brush the butter on, add the filling and bake it.

I had never actually made it myself, though, let alone made a healthier version of it.

boreg_bites

Grandma’s recipe called for one cup each of Parmesan, Romano and Feta cheese and up to one stick of butter. I’m all for eating fats, but that’s a LOT of fat!

To lighten it up a bit, I used low fat cottage cheese in place of some of the other cheese, cut down from one stick of butter to just 3 Tbsp., and used only about half of the package of phyllo dough, and I have to say that my version tasted almost as good — there’s no way I could ever beat Grandma’s — as G-Sona’s (our nickname for her).

Recipe: Cheesy Phyllo Dough Boreg Bites

These Boreg bites would be a perfect side or appetizer for the holidays. Try to work as quickly as possible when handling the phyllo dough as it dries out very fast. Don’t worry if the phyllo tears or gets crumbly — mine did and it turned out just fine.

boreg_ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 1 package phyllo dough, defrosted (you will only need about 1/2-3/4 of the package)
  • 1 cup low fat cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup Feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup Romano and Parmesan cheese blend (or 1/4 cup of each)
  • 4 eggs, divided
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tsp. baking powder

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Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Grease a one-dozen muffin tin with butter or cooking spray.
  2. Lay phyllo dough out on cutting board and cut into squares of about two inches by two inches.
  3. Lay 1-2 squares of phyllo dough in each of the muffin tin slots and gently press the phyllo into the slots. Brush the top layer with butter. Continue this process for 5-6 more layers.
  4. Mix 3 eggs, cottage cheese, Feta and Romano/Parmesan blend. Place a dollop of the mixture in each of the phyllo cups.
  5. Continue to layer 5-6 more layers of phyllo/butter over the cheese and egg mixture.
  6. Combine remaining egg with baking powder and water. Beat with a fork.
  7. Poke holes through the phyllo cups with the fork and spoon about 1-2 tsp. of the egg/baking powder mixture into each cup. It will nestle into the fork holes you just made.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until phyllo cups are golden brown.

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This one’s for you, Grandma! I wish you were here to enjoy them and know you would be proud of my work.

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What family recipes will you be preparing this holiday season? See what memories inspired fellow Recipe ReDuxers by clicking the blue guy below.

Quick and Easy Recipe: Warm Green Bean, Pomegranate and Sweet Potato Salad {Sponsored Recipe ReDux}

I received free samples of Libby’s new Vegetable Pouches mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Libby’s and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

With the cooler weather, I’m craving all kinds of fall- and Thanksgiving-themed foods. But who has the time to cook all the squash, potatoes, beans and turkey? Not this girl.

I’m all about the quick, simple meal using quality ingredients — and culinary shortcuts — to yield tasty, good-for-you dishes. So when the folks at Libby’s Fruits & Vegetables challenged us to create delicious appetizers, soups, salads or side dishes in 10 minutes or less using Libby’s Vegetable Pouches as the hero ingredient, I was ready to get cooking.

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Libby’s Vegetable Pouches are pretty snazzy little things. They’re microwaveable (DONE IN ONE MINUTE!), which means fewer dishes for moi to clean (this whole not having a dishwasher thing is really getting old). Libby’s is the first to offer ready-to-heat vegetables in pouches. I don’t have to feel bad about throwing the package away, either — I’m a hippie like that — because pouches use 75% less energy annnddd waste is easily compressed, reducing space in home disposal and landfills. An added bonus is that the pouches are made with BPA non-intent materials.

Tip: the pouches will be available nation-wide come the new year and can currently be found in select Walmart stores.

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But none of the aforementioned perks matter if it’s not tasty, right? Lucky for me (and you all), Libby’s Vegetable Pouches are delicious and come in five popular varieties – sliced carrots, sweet peas, cut green beans, mixed vegetables and sweet corn.

I chose the cut green bean variety as the star of my warm green bean, pomegranate and sweet potato salad.warm_thanksgiving_vegetable_salad

This salad is a GAME ˆ CHANGER. It would be a welcome addition to any Thanksgiving table and it takes LESS THAN TEN MINUTES TO MAKE! Not to mention it is no-bake (a microwave is the only cooking vessel you need), since oven space is quite precious on Thanksgiving. Plus, with “exotic” sounding ingredients like pomegranate, rosemary and cinnamon pecans, you’ll appear to be the best, most knowledgable chef around.

Recipe: Warm Green Bean, Pomegranate and Sweet Potato Salad

Enjoy this while it’s still warm, or refrigerate and eat cold. This would be delicious served alongside chicken or turkey — or eat it by itself! It’s really that good. If you don’t have pomegranates around, you can swap them for dried cranberries.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 pouch Libby’s Cut Green Beans
  • 1 cup pomegranate arils (seeds), or the seeds from one medium pomegranate (use the pre-seeded version to save time — I find them frozen at Costco or fresh at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2 cup raw pecans
  • 1 tsp. butter, preferably grass-fed
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. honey (look for an ethically harvested variety — find out more about the honey/bee issue here)
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper

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Directions:

  1. Poke holes in sweet potato using a fork. Microwave sweet potato for 2-3 minutes. Flip sweet potato over and microwave for an additional 2-3 minutes, or until it feels soft.
  2. While the sweet potato cooking, melt butter in a small skillet, add pecans and cinnamon and stir for 2-3 minutes to toast.
  3. Prepare pomegranate. The best way to do this is to roll the pomegranate on the counter before cutting it — you should feel and hear the seeds loosening up. Then, inside a metal or glass bowl (the juice could stain a plastic bowl) cut the pomegranate into quarters and dig out the seeds. Or, use pre-prepared pomegranate seeds to save some time.
  4. When sweet potato is done in the microwave, swap it out for the Libby’s Cut Green Bean Pouch and cook according to package instructions.
  5. While the green beans are cooking, cut the sweet potato into small cubes.
  6. Drain heated green beans and add to a large bowl along with remaining ingredients (including toasted pecans). Toss and serve warm.

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Voila! Enjoy this super-easy, amazingly delicious salad!

 

Avocado, Apple and Cabbage “Green” Slaw

Happy Labor Day, y’all! (I am not from the south and really should never use the term, “y’all” but it seemed necessary here).

If your Labor Day is going to see some BBQ action, make sure there are some healthy options available. This slaw is both creamy from the avocado and tart from the sour apple. It’s the perfect complement to meat or other grilled proteins. 

If you can’t find sour apples — mine were from my local farmers market — you can most definitely use tart green apples.

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Avocado, Apple and Cabbage Slaw

This recipe is perfect with meat, chicken or fish. The apples add a nice tartness that cuts through any fattiness of meat.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 head green or red cabbage
  • 1 fresh, ripe avocado
  • 1 sour apple, julienne-style (or use a green apple)
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar, such as Bragg’s
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Directions:

  1. Peel, seed and mash avocado
  2. Roughly chop cabbage (should be thin strands)
  3. Mix cabbage with mashed avocado, julienned apple, vinegar, lemon juice and salt. 

Happy grilling!

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