Black Lentil Muffins – Made from Leftovers!

I have a confession to make: I love leftovers! Absolutely love them. First of all, they allow me to get creative in the kitchen, which — you guessed it — I love. More than that, though, it’s great to know that I’m using up all of my food because ain’t nobody got time for wasted food.

So when I recently made Chicken Cacciatore and had leftover black beluga lentils and the delicious tomato-y sauce that the chicken was cooked in, I figured — ‘hey, I can make something DELICIOUS with that!’ Combined with a recent discovery of lentil loaf (thanks to my friend/master chef Pam), lentil muffins seemed like a natural choice.

Image

Did I mention these are incredibly easy to make? And that you can cook up a whole batch and then freeze them for later use? Leftovers of leftovers? Getting crazy here!

Recipe: Italian Black Lentil Muffins

Black beluga lentils can be found at most grocery stores. They are full of protein and fiber as well as anthocyanins (powerful antioxidant compounds). Nutritional yeast lends a cheesy, savory flavor along with protein and B vitamins. Find it at Whole Foods or a health foods store.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cooked lentils (left over from the night before)
  • 1 cup tomato-based sauce (also leftover from the night before)*
    • If you don’t have leftover sauce, use either pre-made pasta sauce or whip up a quick batch: 1 can no salt added organic diced tomatoes, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 2 cloves garlic – minced, 1 tablespoon dried basil, 1 teaspoon black pepper)
  • 2 cups organic arugula
  • Approximately 8 Kalamata olives, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons juice from jarred Kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 egg
  • pinch red pepper flakes (about 1/2 teaspoon or to taste)

Image

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. In large bowl, mix all ingredients
  3. Coat muffin pan (for one dozen) with cooking spray. Evenly distribute lentil mixture throughout panImage
  4. Bake for 20-30 minutes (until top is crunchy)

*Please note that due to the use of leftover tomato sauce in which chicken was cooked, this recipe is NOT vegetarian. However, if you use pre-made pasta sauce or make your own, you can keep it vegetarian.

 

Enjoy warm or cold, over salad, with eggs or by themselves. These are delicious dipped in hummus as well!

Image

Image

 

Advertisements

Wild Blueberry, Mint and Feta Farro Salad {Recipe ReDux Sponsored Post}

As you may know, I’ve gone wild blueberry crazy this week (not much different than most weeks).

Wild_Blueberries

But they are just so delicious and packed with nutrients. Do you know the difference between wild blueberries and regular, cultivated berries?

First off, wild blueberries have never been modified or messed with, meaning they are the same berry that existed 10,000 years ago. Which is pretty awesome.

Besides that, they have a more intense flavor and color, are smaller and thus you get more berries per pound and they have a higher concentration of beneficial phytochemicals — twice the antioxidants as compared to regular blueberries! Which means major health benefits (see laundry list below).

Wild_Blueberry_Farro_Salad

Wild Blueberries are the subject of hundreds of research studies looking at potential benefits to humans including:

  • Brain health
  • Anti-aging
  • Heart health
  • Diabetes prevention
  • Cancer prevention
  • Reducing oxidative stress
  • Preventing UTIs
  • Eye health
  • Most Wild Blueberries are frozen at harvest, locking in their intense blueberry flavor and antioxidant power
  • Frozen Fresh Wild Blueberries are just as nutritious as fresh and may even retain their nutritional value longer
  • Frozen Fresh Wild Blueberries are available year-round; they can be used right out of the freezer – no thawing required
  • Frozen Fresh Wild Blueberries offer consumers the most convenient way to have the Antioxidant Superfruit at hand at all times.
  • Frozen Fresh Wild Blueberries make it easy to get your “Daily Dose of Wild Blue”
  • Frozen Wild Blueberries are an excellent value, they offer consistent quality, ease of use, high antioxidant content, health benefits, less spoilage, affordability.

Learn more about the benefits of wild blueberries here.

And with that, let’s talk recipes. Healthy food is only good for you if you actually eat it, and while wild blueberries are delicious on their own, they also lend themselves well to both sweet and savory applications. Check out my recipes for Wild Blueberry Truffles and Wild Blueberry, Avocado and Corn Salsa for more inspiration.

And if you are looking for more ways to use wild blueberries (clearly you should), they pair well with honey, mint, cilantro, basil and lemon, to name a few.

Recipe: Wild Blueberry, Mint and Feta Farro Salad

Farro is one of the oldest cultivated grains — enjoyed for roughly 5,000 years. It has a texture similar to barley with a nice, nutty taste. Like wild blueberries, farro is delicious in sweet and savory applications. Plus, it’s packed with fiber, protein and a wealth of other nutrients.

Makes: about 4 cups (serving size 1 cup)

*By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the Wild Blueberry Association of North America and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Farro_Wild_Blueberry_Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup semi-pearled farro
  • 1 cup wild blueberries
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese
  • 1/3 cup chopped mint
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (about 1/4 large lemon)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Prepare farro according to package directions (generally requires about 25-35 minutes of cooking).

Gently mix prepared farro with remaining ingredients, being careful not to smash the wild blueberries.

This salad is delicious hot or cold. Serve with vegetables (cauliflower “rice” below) and fish or chicken (BBQ chicken was especially yummy).

Wild_Blueberry_Farro_Salad_with_BBQ_Chicken

Nutrition information (for 1 cup farro salad): Calories 229; Fat 4 g; Carbohydrates 40 g; Fiber 7 g; Protein 8 g; Sodium 330 mg

More delicious wild blueberry recipes — follow the link below!

Purple Asparagus: Antioxidant Powerhouse

Chicago’s Green City Market has finally started back up! And with a spring farmers market comes asparagus AKA the only vegetable available in Chicago at this time of year. Lucky for me, I love asparagus. My newest obsession, however, is purple asparagus. With a slightly sweeter taste than regular [green] asparagus, it’s perfect both cooked and raw. Note, purple asparagus sadly turns green when cooked (see pic below), so if you want to keep the color intact, slice it thin and serve it raw in salads. A source of acid, such as vinegar or lemon juice, also helps to boost the purple color. Nutritionally speaking, purple asparagus contains slightly less fiber, more protein and more vitamin C than green asparagus. Check out the comparison below:

Left: purple asparagus, Right: green asparagus

Left: purple asparagus, Right: green asparagus

The purple color is not only pretty — it’s what makes purple asparagus a nutritional powerhouse. Anthocyanin, the flavanoid responsible for purple, red and blue colors in fruits and vegetables, is considered an antioxidant, able to remove free radicals (which can cause negative health effects, from inflammation to cancer). Various research has shown that anthocyanins also have antimicrobial properties and can decrease inflammation, improve blood pressure, improve eyesight and suppress the spread of cancer cells*.

The most important point to note with purple asparagus, however, is that it is delicious. It tastes less bitter than green asparagus and just looks gorgeous as part of a meal. Dietitians and other health professionals will tell you to “eat the rainbow” not only because it will provide a variety of nutrients, but also because we eat with our eyes, and a colorful plate is much more appealing that a monochromatic one.

With leftover salmon and purple asparagus on hand, I cooked up a delicious little meal. After cutting the asparagus on the bias, I sauteed it in coconut oil and minced garlic. This formed the bed underneath my salmon. I then drizzled with Trader Joe’s Balsamic Glaze (amazing stuff, by the way). A nice, light, low-carb lunch!

purple asparagus and balsamic salmon

 

 

*Source: J Biomed Biotechnol. 2004 December 1; 2004(5): 239–240.

Quinoa Power Breakfast: Gluten, Dairy and Egg-Free

Quinoa is often praised by dietitians and other health professionals as a super-food. While I find the term “super-food” a little gimmicky, it is mostly true in the case of quinoa. A grain, quinoa (pronounced KENN-wah) is a good source of both fiber (with more than 5 grams/cup) AND protein (more than 8 grams/cup). While we know that whole grains, like quinoa, generally contain fiber, we don’t always get that one-two punch of fiber and protein.

The best part? Quinoa’s amino acid profile is considered complete, meaning it doesn’t lack an amino acid like many other grain products do. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins for our body. Our body can make ten of the 20 amino acids we need to make proteins in our bodies, but the other ten — considered essential amino acids — must be supplied by the foods we eat. Most plant sources of protein don’t provide all of the essential amino acids, so it’s even more impressive that quinoa does.

I find that most people view quinoa as a savory food, often mixed with veggies and beans (and meat/poultry too) to create a quinoa salad. Think about it, though, quinoa is really just a bland-tasting grain when you get down to it. Thus, you can use it in sweeter preparations as well. Alas, Breakfast Quinoa! It’s a terrific option for when you have leftover quinoa from the night before (assuming you didn’t use broth or savory herbs to make it). Just mix with whatever fruit and nuts you have on hand, plus some cinnamon or other sweeter spices. It’s more filling than oatmeal, because it contains more protein and fiber (the satiety dynamic duo, if you will). Check out my delicious Banana Coconut Quinoa below!

Banana Coconut Power Breakfast Quinoa:

Breakfast_Quinoa

Ingredients:

  • One cup quinoa, cooked (1/2 cup dry)
  • 1/2 banana, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 1 tsp organic virgin coconut oil
  • sprinkle of cinnamon (about 1/4 tsp)

Directions:

Cook quinoa according to package directions or heat up leftover quinoa. Stir in coconut oil when hot, then top with sliced banana, sunflower seeds and cinnamon.

 

 

Curried Butternut Squash and Lentil Cakes

Happy Halloween! Are you up to your ears in nougaty, caramely, chocolatey-ness yet? Get back on the right (read: healthy) track and eat some veggies!

Since it’s Halloween you know that it’s also fall and with fall comes a whole slew of delicious and nutritious foods – cranberries, sweet potatoes, turkey and brussel sprouts to name a few. One of my favorite fall foods, though, is squash. Butternut, spaghetti and acorn squash are my top picks, though really I like them all – I don’t discriminate.

The other day I was baking my spaghetti squash and figured I might as well save time and make my butternut squash too. This was a great idea (gotta love efficiency!) until I realized that I had TONS of squash to use up.

One can only eat so much squash on its own, so I had to find a way to transform the squash. I set out to make squash cakes but in order to up the protein I also added in lentils (so that I could make the squash cakes my dinner rather than having to cook a protein to balance things out). Since I’ve been loving lentils lately (the split ones only take 15 minutes to cook!), I decided on a curried butternut squash and lentil cake. Butternut squash is an excellent source of vitamin A (more than 250% your recommend daily intake for just 1/2 a cup of the stuff) and vitamin C, plus iron. Lentils are also loaded with iron, along with protein and potassium. That makes for one fantastically healthy cake! Add some curry powder and other spices and top with an apple “salsa,” and they become a delicious cake too. Oh and an added bonus – because of all the fiber in both the squash and lentils, these will make you feel super-full without loads of calories.

Butternut Squash and Lentil Cakes
Curried Butternut Squash and Lentil Cakes
Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cooked butternut squash, mashed (about one whole squash)
  • 1/2 cup dry lentils (makes about 1 cup cooked)
  • 1/4 red onion, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp Sriracha sauce (or to taste)
  • 1 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Garnish:

  • 1 apple, diced
  • 2 Tbsp orange juice

A one-bowl preparation!

Directions:

Cook lentils according to package directions. Mash squash and lentils together and add remaining ingredients. Heat a large pan and spray with cooking spray. Form squash mixture into patties and drop into pan. Cook for about 5 minutes on each side.

Top with apple “salsa.”

 

Curry Butternut Squash and Lentil Cakes with Apple Salsa

*Note: mine were a bit fragile (mushy), so I baked them at 375 for 10 minutes just to stiffen them up a bit. They are delicious either way, though.

 

 

Farmers Market WTF: Part 4 – Eggplant

Turkish Eggplant

Bored of eggplant? Though eggplant is pretty well known (not really a “wtf” farmers market find), with its blandish taste, you may be getting tired of this vegetable.

Besides the old stand-by, Eggplant Parmesan, what else can you do with eggplant?

I set out to explore this question after picking up some eggplant from the Green City Market. I prefer a smaller eggplant, so I went with some Turkish eggplant (pictured above), along with Chinese eggplant, which is thinner than standard eggplant. The Turkish eggplants look like mini pumpkins, right?

Eggplants are often used as a meat replacement, though they are not high in protein. They are, however, high in fiber. For about a cup of eggplant, you’ll get 2 grams of fiber for only 20 calories. So, for 2 cups (enough to keep you satisfyingly full), it’ll only cost you 40 calories (plus the added bonus of 4 grams of fiber). Eggplants also contain potassium, which helps counteract salt consumption and aids in muscle function.

Keep in mind that fiber generally means filling, making eggplant an excellent addition to meals. I wanted to try using mine in a couple different ways. Let me say first that eggplant is delicious when roasted in the oven, but with the extremely hot weather in Chicago, I’ve been trying not to turn the oven on. So, the following two recipes were done on a stove top – sans oven.
Eggplant Recipe No. 1: Tempeh & Eggplant “Ratatouille:”

Tempeh & Eggplant Ratatouille

Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces tempeh (a fermented soy + grain product similar to tofu)
  • 1 Chinese eggplant, cubed
  • 1 ounce mozzarella cheese (I used a Trader Joe’s fresh mozzarella stick), shredded/chopped
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3-4 basil leaves, washed and diced
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Directions:

  • Sprinkle eggplant with salt (this will draw out some of the water from the eggplant, making it easier/better for sauteeing).
  • Heat garlic in olive oil for 1-2 minutes, then add eggplant and saute for about 5 minutes. Add tempeh and saute another 5 minutes. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and basil.

Easy, no? The above recipe is for a single serving. You can double, triple, etc. depending on how many people you’re feeding.

Eggplant Recipe No. 2: Eggplant Chips

Okay, so this one is not so much a recipe as much as a method for cooking the eggplant.

Eggplant chips, served with carrot top pesto smeared whitefish (over purple kale).

Directions:Cut eggplant into 1/4″ slices and sprinkle with salt to draw out moisture. Cook in a lightly oiled (or use cooking spray) pan for about 3-4 minutes per side (depending on how crispy you like the slices).

Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.