merry christmas!

Merry Christmas from my happy little home to yours.

I'll be signing off for the next couple of weeks to enjoy time with family, friends, and fur babies. See you in 2016!



zucchini noodles with oil-free roasted pistachio pesto

This pesto is so good, it's the whole reason I started a blog.


I traveled to Turkey this summer with my sister and brother in law and the most memorable meal of our trip was this amazing zucchini noodle with pesto dish at a tiny vegan restaurant in Istanbul. The zucchini was the perfect al dente, the pesto was refreshing and creamy, and it was finished with a delicious almond cheese crumble on top. All three of us loved it so much, we went back to the restaurant a second time.

When I got home, I tried recreating it but with my own twist. Instead of a traditional pesto with pine nuts, I used roasted and salted pistachios. I also used vegetable broth in place of olive oil and mixed in white beans and sautéed cherry tomatoes. At first, I was a little intimidated by how to find a good spiralizer to make the zucchini noodles. I ended up buying a great, compact one at Bed Bath & Beyond for about $15 and know they can also be found on Amazon. If you don't have a spiralizer, it's a really great tool to add to your kitchen.

I love this dish because it's light and centered around vegetables but still super filling. If you follow a plant-based diet, you're probably all too aware that restaurants often rely on carb heavy entrées for their vegetarian options, pasta in particular. When you're first cutting back or eliminating meat, dairy, and eggs and not sure what to cook, it's easy to fall into this trap of eating mostly carbs for every meal, which can make you feel tired and weighed down. That's why it's important to eat a mix of veggies, fruit, protein, and carbs. This dish is a great place to start if you've been feeling out of balance because its full of delicious veggie goodness.

The pesto is really what makes this dish special. It's so flavorful and versatile, its become a staple that I make weekly and will add to just about anything I'm having. I love mixing it with more vegetable broth and using it as a dressing for salad or putting a big dollop of it in the middle of roasted veggies and quinoa that I'll bring with me to work for lunch.

I'd been thinking about starting a blog for a while, but when I created this pesto, shared it with friends, and received such positive feedback, I finally decided to go for it so I would have an outlet to share recipes like this one. I hope you give this dish a try and love it as much as I do.







Ingredients (Serves 2 with pesto leftover):
- 4 zucchini, spiralized
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/4 cup dry roasted & salted pistachios, shelled (I use the kind from Trader Joe's)

For the pesto:
- 1 cup dry roasted & salted pistachios, shelled
- 4 cups lightly packed basil (or 1 full TJ's basil container)
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 2 garlic cloves
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth

Instructions:
- To make the pesto, place all ingredients plus salt and pepper to taste in a blender or food processor and blend for a couple minutes until smooth. Set aside.

- In a nonstick pan, sauté the cherry tomatoes with salt and pepper to taste for about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

- Add spiralized zucchini to the nonstick pan with salt and pepper to taste and gently heat for a few minutes. Add pistachio pesto (you will likely not use all of it) to the pan and stir to coat noodles, adding more vegetable broth if needed. Cook for an additional minute or so until al dente. Remove from heat and toss in the sautéed cherry tomatoes and white beans. Place in bowls and top with leftover pistachios. Enjoy!








my favorite green smoothie

I've actually become totally addicted to this green smoothie.


There's so much hype around green smoothies right now and it really is warranted. Green foods are a great source of phytonutrients and have amazing healing powers. High in chlorophyll, green vegetables rejuvenate the body with incredible anti-inflammatory benefits, strengthen the immune system, and detoxify the blood. Thanks to the dark leafy greens, green smoothies are also a great source of non-dairy calcium, magnesium, and Vitamin C.

Unlike juicing, the fiber of the fruits and vegetables in smoothies is still intact, making them incredibly satisfying and filling. Making smoothies is also a lot easier and cost effective than juicing. When I first got my juicer, I was so excited to do my own DIY juice cleanse. This enthusiasm dissipated after I had spent $50 on the ingredients, cleaned up the mess, and was left with a pile of fruit and vegetable remnants. I love juicing every once in a while for an additional nutrition boost, but when it comes to something you can routinely have for breakfast, juicing isn't realistic. Smoothies are a breeze to make and clean up and you can feel good about the money you've spent because your body is receiving the full benefits of the produce.

This smoothie has the perfect combination of fruits and veggies so that it's full of nutrients and super energizing but still delicious. The kale, parsley, and cucumber provide the essential green vitamins and minerals while the apple, pineapple, and lemon round out the flavors and provide some sweetness. The flaxseed adds fiber, antioxidants, and most importantly omega-3 essential fatty acids, which are heart-healthy fats that are sometimes difficult to get in a plant-based diet because they're often found in fish. Coconut water adds a hydration boost and the coconut milk makes it rich and creamy.

This smoothie has become my go to because it's the fastest and easiest way to get my vegetables in right from the start and feel incredible all day.






Ingredients:
- 1 handful kale, spines removed
- 1 lemon, rind removed
- 1/2 cup frozen pineapple
- 1 green apple
- 1/2 cup cucumber
- 1 handful of parsley
- 2 tablespoons flax seed
- 1/2 cup coconut water
- 1/2 cup coconut milk

Instructions:
- Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.


sun-dried tomato and walnut dip

A delicious dip recipe is definitely good to have in your arsenal for the holiday season.


Does anyone else hate that stressful moment at the beginning of each December when you think of all the  holiday parties you're attending and ask yourself, "What am I going to bring?" Wine is always a nice option but not as nice when your bottle gets set next to the other dozen bottles brought by guests. You want to be just a bit more creative but then remember you still have to do your Christmas shopping, are stressed out from year end projects at work, and would much rather curl up with a peppermint schnapps hot chocolate and Netflix then attempt to bake something.

That's where this dip comes in. It's super easy, transports well, and won't be a repeat of what anyone else brought.  Even if you aren't attending any holiday parties this season (many would envy you), this is the perfect appetizer to make any meal you're having at home just a bit more special. Or heck, have it along with your peppermint schnapps hot chocolate and call it a night. Not judging.

This recipe is also great because it allows you to customize how rich you want it to be since the vegetable broth can be used in place of the olive oil and vice versa. If you want to go super light, you can use all vegetable broth and just finish it by drizzling a little olive oil on top. It will be packed with flavor either way because of the deliciously bold sun-dried tomatoes, earthy walnuts, and fresh basil. And it's red = bonus points.





Ingredients:
- 1 cup walnuts
- 2 cups basil
- 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
-1/4 cup vegetable broth
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (plus a bit to drizzle on top) or vegetable broth

To stir in:
- 1/4 cup walnuts
- 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil

Instructions:
- Process all ingredients besides the olive oil in a food processor for about two minutes. With the food processor still on, slowly drizzle in the olive oil or vegetable broth (if you are using vegetable broth, you may need more than two tablespoons). Process until smooth.

- Roughly chop the remaining walnuts and sun-dried tomatoes and stir into the dip. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil, some basil leafs, and flaky salt. Serve immediately.






roasted vegetable tacos with spicy cashew cheese

It's Taco Tuesdayy.


This recipe came about a few years ago when I was living with a friend in Palo Alto right after graduating from college and struggling a bit with my transition. I was at a job that didn't make me happy, in a relationship that would ultimately end, and just generally not excited about being in the real world. To make our weeks more fun, my roommate and I came up with a few themed nights we would rotate. The themes were whiskey and doughnut night, something we called Hawaiian night, which consisted of wearing leis and watching Law and Order SVU on repeat, and taco and tequila night.

If you ever watch Chopped on the Food Network where people have to create dishes with crazy mystery ingredients, you will know that the brutal judges, for the most part, enjoy every taco they're served. A wide range of ingredients will taste good between two taco shells, making tacos extremely versatile and adding to the fun of inventing new combinations. This one is without a doubt my favorite.

The first time I made this I just threw in the veggies and basil and it was absolutely delicious. The cashew cheese is something I invented to go along with these tacos later and it definitely takes it to the next level. The creamy, spicy cashew cheese is packed with flavor and tastes amazing with the roasted vegetables, fresh basil, and crispy taco. Although, if you're strapped for time or energy, like I was, and don't make the cashew cheese, these tacos are still a simple and easy way to brighten up any blah weeknight... especially served with tequila on a Tuesday.










Ingredients:
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 portabello mushrooms, stems and gills removed, quartered
- 2 zucchini, quartered lengthwise
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 2 tablespoons basil, chopped
- Corn tortillas, toasted

For the Spicy Cashew Cheese:
- 1 cup cashews, soaked in water for 4 to 6 hours
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
- Salt and Pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions:
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread cherry tomatoes, portabello mushrooms, and zucchini on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, oregano, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat and spread in an even layer. Bake for 10 minutes then remove from oven and toss (spread in an even layer again) and return to oven for an additional 10 minutes or until they've reached desired doneness.

- While the veggies are roasting, prepare the spicy cashew cheese by placing all ingredients in a food processor besides the olive oil. Process for about 2 minutes and then drizzle in olive oil while the processor is still going. Process for another couple minutes until smooth.

- Assemble by layering roasted veggies on a tortilla followed by spicy cashew cheese and basil. Serve immediately.



kale & roasted sweet potato salad with orange tahini dressing

My favorite thing about this salad is definitely the orange tahini dressing.


I love making salads but I feel like the dressing can be the hardest part. Too often I get stuck using slight variations of the same balsamic dressing only to get so tired of it I swear off salads for weeks. This orange tahini dressing is a breath of fresh air because it's flavorful, creamy, and packed with essential vitamins and minerals.

Tahini might sound unfamiliar but you probably encounter it more often than you think because it's the ingredient in hummus that makes it so creamy and delicious. It's made with ground sesame seeds and has the consistency of peanut butter. Tahini is rich in potassium, iron, vitamin E, and is one of the best sources of calcium out there. Tahini also has 20% complete protein, making it a higher protein source than most nuts.

In the instructions I say to massage the kale. It might seem a bit odd to massage your food, but I promise, it leads to amazing results. The citrus in the orange and a quick five minute rub down breaks down the tough cellulose structure and transforms the kale from being large and rigid to small and silky smooth. So don't be shy, get in there! It should feel similar to kneading bread.

Once you throw in the shaved brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, pomegranate seeds, and walnuts, you've got yourself an antioxidant power house that's filling but light and easy to throw together. 





Ingredients:
- 3 kale leafs (spines removed)
- 1 cup of shaved brussels sprouts
- 1 large sweet potato
- Olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons walnuts
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds

For the dressing:
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- Juice of 1 orange
- Zest of 1 orange
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Instructions:
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

- Wash the sweet potato and cut into cubes - about an inch thick. Place on a baking tray and cover in olive oil, paprika, salt, and pepper. Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes, turning halfway through. Note: I always double or triple this part to have leftover sweet potatoes.

- Place kale in a large mixing bowl along with the shaved brussels sprouts. Note: Trader Joe's sells pre-shaved brussels sprouts but you can also shave the sprouts with a mandoline, food processor, or knife.

- In a small mixing bowl, combine the tahini, orange juice, orange zest, and apple cider vinegar. Mix thoroughly.

- Pour dressing over kale and brussels sprouts and massage for a few minutes. Toss in the roasted sweet potatoes, pomegranate seeds, and walnuts. Serve immediately and enjoy!


healing miso soba noodle soup

Hello world!


Thank you for visiting for my first recipe post! If you'd like to learn more about who I am and what this blog is all about, please head over to my about page.

Now onto this soup! It's no secret that instant ramen isn't exactly the healthiest thing you can eat but its so delicious and perfect for a cold day. With Thanksgiving behind us and Christmas on its way, I'm already feeling the need to detox from all the indulgent food with something warm and restorative. Ramen had been on my mind, so I created this healthy version with miso ginger broth, fresh vegetables, chunks of tofu, and buckwheat soba noodles.

Miso is made from fermented soybeans and it's the fermentation process in part that makes it so high in nutrients. Like other fermented food, such as kombucha, miso increases the beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract (probiotics) that aid in digestion and strengthen the immune system. Miso is also particularly high in antioxidants, fiber, and has a large amount of complete protein.

Ginger is a root that is also packed with tons of essential nutrients and rejuvenating compounds. In addition to being a home remedy for several minor conditions, such as an upset stomach, ginger has been known to reduce inflammation and also strengthens the immune system. This miso ginger broth is delicious on its own and is definitely a good remedy if you're feeling under the weather.

One of my favorite times to have this soup is for breakfast. That might sound strange but in many countries, a hot soup for breakfast isn't uncommon. In the U.S. it's all about cereal, yogurt, eggs... none of my favorite things. I often look outside the traditional options and go for something like a savory quinoa, hummus toast, or this soup. I think of this miso soup a bit like the winter version of a green smoothie because it's packed with nutrients and is the perfect start to your day. I also love that it can be made ahead of time, heated up, and enjoyed at home before rushing out the door or transported in a mason jar. Give it a try and let me know what you think!





Ingredients for Ginger Miso Broth:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 2-3 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup miso paste

Add-Ins:
- 8 oz extra firm tofu (cubed)
- 1/2 cup sliced cremini mushrooms
- 1/2 cup corn, cooked
- 4 oz soba noodles
- 1 handful spinach
- Juice of one lime
- Sesame seeds and/or toasted sesame seed oil for garnish

Instructions:

- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the soba noodles according to the package directions (about 3 minutes). Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.

-Make the broth: Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook for about a minute, being careful not to burn them. Add soy sauce and stir to combine. Add the stock, cover, and bring to a boil. Remove lid, stir in tofu, and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.

- Ladle about half a cup of the broth into a small bowl and stir in the miso paste until dissolved. Pour the miso broth into the pot and cook for another minute or so.

- Assemble the Miso Soba Noodle Soup: Add the mushrooms, corn, and spinach to the broth and cook for a minute or two to soften. Stir in the cooked soba noodles or divide the soba noodles between two bowls and pour the soup over it.

- Add a squeeze of lime and garnish with sesame seeds and a drizzle of toasted sesame oil (if using). Serve immediately.






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