Crazy About Kale

I know that the kale craze has been in full swing for a while now, but I must admit that I’m a relatively new convert to its virtues.   For the past several months I have been eating mostly vegetarian meals.  I’ve had three people very close to me diagnosed with various forms of cancer within the last year, so I’m really trying to up my healthy eating game.  Kale is high in vitamin K and iron, and overall has a great nutritional profile, so it’s a no brainer to add it to my diet.

 

Kale and Mushroom Sautee

Mushroom and Kale Saute

My massage therapist, Julie shared this super-easy and delicious recipe for Mushroom and Kale Saute.  It has only four ingredients: olive oil, red onion, mushrooms, and kale.  Rinse and chop the kale, then lightly coat it with a bit of olive oil and “massage” it.  Chop the red onion and slice the mushrooms.  Heat some olive oil in a skillet.  Add the onions and mushrooms.  If you like your kale on the softer side, add it with the onions and mushrooms.  If you prefer it a bit crunchier, add it for the last 2 or 3 minutes of cook time.  I served mine over quinoa.

 

Sweet Potato Kale Fried Rice

Caramelized Sweet Potato and Kale Fried Wild Rice 

I found this delightful recipe on Pinterest from Iowa Girl Eats.  She classifies it as a side dish, but this is also a perfect main dish for vegetarians.  I used Minute Rice’s Multi Grain Medley, which is a staple at my house.   Since I didn’t have pepitas (pumpkin seeds), I used chopped pecans instead.  This has become one of my new favorite dinner recipes!

 

kale-cucumber-and-pineapple-juice

Cucumber, Kale, & Pineapple Juice

Two months ago, I bought a juicer and many of the recipes I found on Pinterest had kale as an ingredient.  My favorite is super easy: juice one cucumber (peel it if you are not buying organic), 1 cup of pineapple chunks, and 2 cups of kale.  Even my hubby, who usually shuns my healthy juices, likes this one.

Do you have a favorite kale recipe?  If so, leave it for me in the comments!

 

Meal Planning Monday ~ Vegetarian Options for Holiday Gatherings

This week’s post is by Casey Lindberg-Coghill of Veggies & Glitter.

I’ll never forget my first Thanksgiving as a vegetarian.

While my family heaped their plates with smoked ham and oven-roasted turkey, my holiday meal consisted of pumpkin pie, brown sugar sweet potatoes, and several yeast rolls. Ironically, I had become a vegetarian for purely nutritional reasons, yet my feast was anything but nourishing. I knew that something had to change if I was going to successfully stick with this new lifestyle through the holiday season each year.

Since then, I have collected an arsenal of recipes that I can make and tote along to social gatherings from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Not only do I now have healthy options at holiday parties, but my friends and family have grown to look forward to these dishes as much as the meat-laden ones they have been devouring for years.

These five plates will brighten any holiday potluck spread, but they can also be served up as main entrees at home on busy weeknights. Whether you’re accommodating a strict vegetarian or just looking to lighten up on the amount of meat you consume yourself, these easy recipes will leave you feeling satisfied this season.

Monday: Butternut Squash and Wild Rice Salad

Image and recipe courtesy of The Vegetarian Times

Yes, planning a holiday meal is stressful, but I would argue that generating healthy meals during a busy week of school or work is just as taxing. Because half of this vitamin-rich recipe is prepared ahead of time, this salad is the perfect meal for a particularly manic Monday when ordering pizza seems like the only viable option.

Preparing the rice mixture on a leisurely Sunday and chilling it in the fridge overnight will make it possible for you to have an antioxidant-loaded meal on the table in less than a half an hour. To save yourself even more weekday work, also dice up the butternut squash and store it in the fridge one day prior to devouring this salad with your family!

Access the full recipe here: http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe/butternut-squash-and-wild-rice-salad

Tuesday: Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

Image and recipe courtesy of Whole Foods Market

I’ll be the first to admit that I only thought of the sweet potato as a dessert component until I had reached adulthood. After all, I had only ever tasted it when it was topped with marshmallows, smothered with brown sugar and butter, or incorporated into a pie. It never struck me that it was also a savory root vegetable packed with a slew of vitamins and nutrients, such as vitamins A and C, as well as iron and potassium.

Sweet potatoes are combined with fresh baby arugula and naturally sweetened with honey in this recipe, which is full of flavor without all of the processed junk that is often included in sweet potato dishes.

Access the full recipe: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/roasted-sweet-potato-salad

Wednesday: Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

Image and recipe courtesy of Sayyes.com

Vegetarians obviously won’t be indulging in the main protein source (turkey, of course!) in which most people indulge on Thanksgiving. But that doesn’t mean that “tofurkey” has to be at the heart of a meatless feast. Even as someone who is enthusiastic about sampling a wide array of meat alternatives, I’ll be quite honest that the idea of faux turkey sounds revolting to me.

This delicious recipe will undoubtedly appeal to both vegetarians and meat lovers alike, and it will save you from having to resort to noshing on “tofurkey” this Thanksgiving.  Quinoa is often thought to be a grain because it’s frequently used as a replacement for rice, but it’s actually a seed that can sprout into a leafy vegetable if harvested in a certain way. Like leafy greens, it’s also packed with protein. Served in half of a roasted acorn squash and topped with pumpkin seeds, it will leave you feeling more satisfied than turkey ever could.

Access full recipe: http://sayyes.com/2013/11/quinoa-stuffed-acorn-squash.html

Thursday: Spinach and Cheese Strata

Image and recipe courtesy of Annies-eats.com

A vegetarian strata recipe is ideal to have on hand over the holidays due to its versatility. Not only would you be hard-pressed to find someone who wouldn’t love to indulge in such a decadently rich dish, but it can also be served virtually any time of day. While this dish was a hit when I served it to my family at a Thanksgiving weekend brunch, I also enjoy making it on cool fall evenings when it’s just my husband and me together at home.

Even though this dish is not for those who are counting carbs, it’s also loaded with protein-rich eggs and fiber-filled spinach. It’s certainly a healthier “comfort food” option than most others you will find this holiday season!

Access the full recipe: http://www.annies-eats.com/2010/03/15/spinach-and-cheese-strata/

Friday: Roasted Apple Pumpkin Soup

Image and recipe courtesy of Eating Well Magazine

 One of my favorite things to do during the fall months is to go apple picking with loved ones. Regardless of how many times I tell myself to take it easy, I always come home with more apples than I can physically consume before they rot! This recipe is one of my personal favorites because it combines tart apples straight from the orchard with pumpkin, one of my other favorite seasonal flavors.

Because it makes a large batch of leftovers that will last for up to three days in your refrigerator, this recipe is ideal for a busy holiday weekend when you want to have an easy, healthy option on hand. Just remember that in order for this to be a truly vegetarian dish, you must use vegetable stock rather than that made with chicken.

Access the full recipe: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/pumpkin_apple_soup.html

In addition to running her wellness blog Veggies and Glitter, Casey Lindberg-Coghill is a freelance writer based out of Charlotte, NC.  Aside from being  a writer, Casey is also a huge bookworm and fashion enthusiast who has rather  unhealthy obsessions with Justin Timberlake and anything pumpkin-flavored.

 

Meal Planning Monday ~ Meatless Alternatives to Backyard Burgers and Dogs

Today’s post is by Casey Lindberg-Coghill.

Summer is the season of baseball games, beach vacations, and of course, backyard barbecues. Even though sharing a meal with close friends and family on a warm summer evening is something that any of us would enjoy, it can be an incredibly stressful experience for those who have removed meat from their diets.

While most people wouldn’t think twice about tossing a pack of hot dogs or a few hamburgers onto the grill for a quick meal, vegetarians are often left stuffing their faces with baked beans, potato chips, or other unhealthy sides because there simply isn’t anything else available for them to eat.

Vegetarians, there’s no need to starve or stay at home during the dog days of summer. This week’s Meal-Planning Monday consists of cookout-appropriate meals that are big on nutrition and that are easy to whip up on a whim. With just a little bit of forethought, you can indulge in a savory and mouthwatering meal alongside your meat-eating friends at your next summer social gathering.

 

Sweet Potato Chickpea Burgers

Photo Credit: Jen of Peas and Crayons

If you’re anything like me, there’s no time that you despise frozen meatless patties more than during the summer months. When I first embraced a meatless diet, I would sneak a little frozen soy disc onto the grill and choke it down while my friends munched on flavorful burgers and hot dogs. I don’t mean to show disdain for frozen veggie burgers, but let’s face it: Any meal begins to taste absolutely terrible when you have it three times a week.

If I’m craving a burger or know that they will be served at a summer party, I now whip up a batch of homemade veggie burgers, which are much more satisfying than any store-bought variety I’ve ever sampled. This particular recipe is one of my favorites because of its unique blend of spices and the fact that it packs tons of protein and essential nutrients.

My meat-loving husband actually begs for these on occasion, so you may find that your non-vegetarian friends will love them as much as you do!

 

Grilled Veggie Banh Mi Sandwiches

 Photo Credit: Kiersten of Oh My Veggies

I tasted my first Banh Mi sandwich when I decided to order one on a whim from a vendor at last year’s Southern Ground Music and Food Festival in Charleston, South Carolina. For those who may be unfamiliar with the concept, a Banh Mi sandwich has Vietnamese origins and typically consists of veggies, tofu, or cold cuts soaked in a vinegar-based marinade and served on a baguette.

While I personally loved the tofu-filled concoction I devoured in Charleston, this vegetarian version is more likely to sound appealing to those who would typically load up their sandwiches with meat, making it a great recipe to share with friends who unexpectedly show up on your doorstep. Because the veggies can be prepared on an outdoor grill, it would also be incredibly easy to serve this dish up as a vegetarian-friendly alternative to burgers or hot dugs at any backyard shindig this summer.

 

Three-Bean Salad with Quinoa

Photo Credit: Whole Foods Market

 A pile of fresh fruit, a leafy salad, or a handful of chips may be enough to get you through a cookout at a friend’s house, but it will leave you feeling starved and protein-deprived by the time you leave for the evening.

The next time you’re invited to a backyard burger party, bring along this chilled salad. Because it’s filled with protein, whole grains, and delicious veggies, you can enjoy it as a main entrée, while your buddies can enjoy it as a side.

To add even more essential nutrients to the dish, try cooking your quinoa in low-sodium vegetable stock instead of water and toss in any extra veggies you may have on hand!

Grilled Veggie Pizza

Photo Credit: Marie of Proud Italian Cook

 This recipe is the ideal solution when you’re in the mood for a weekend grilling party but you’re also having a hankering for pizza. Perfect for using up veggies from the farmer’s market that you may not have used throughout the week, this fresh summer meal takes only a couple of minutes to cook on your backyard grill.

Casey Lindberg-Coghill is a freelance writer based out of Charlotte, NC.  Aside from being  a writer, Casey is also a huge bookworm and fashion enthusiast who has rather  unhealthy obsessions with Justin Timberlake and anything pumpkin-flavored.

 

 

Meal Planning Monday ~ Get Back on the Wagon

Have you fallen off the Meal Planning wagon?  It happens even to the best of us sometimes.  Laid back summer schedules, vacations, and holidays can sometimes derail our meal planning, and that’s okay.  The trick is to get back on the wagon sooner rather than later.  If you’ve never done any serious Meal Planning, now is the perfect time to start!  With the school year starting up, most of us will be getting back to a more structured schedule this fall.  Here are some tips for getting on (or back on) the Meal Planning wagon, and my own Meal Plan for this week.

  • Start small.  I typically meal plan on a monthly basis.  This can seem overwhelming, so let’s just start with planning this week, or the remainder of this month for now.  (I like monthly meal planning because I only have to do it 12 times a year, instead of 52 times a year!)  Make sure that you’ve at least got a week of meals planned before you head to the grocery store.
  • Base your meal plan on what you’ve already got on hand.  If you’ve got an abundance of ground beef in the freezer, or canned tomatoes in the pantry, schedule a few meals to incorporate those ingredients.
  • Look at your schedule.  If you have a parents’ meeting at school on Thursday night, don’t schedule a complicated meal that day.  It may sound like a no-brainer, but save the labor-intensive recipes for days when you have the time to make them.
  • Plan around what’s on sale this week.  I usually plan my main dishes for dinner, but not always my sides.  I want to be flexible enough to work in the red potatoes, cauliflower, and asparagus that are on sale this week!
  • Don’t beat yourself up!  Feeling guilty about abandoning your meal plan isn’t productive, so don’t do it!  If you need extra help with Meal Planning ideas or recipes, check out my e-book, “The Coupon Sisters Get Cooking:  Discover the Magic of Meal Planning.”  (Use coupon code LEAH to save 10%!)  You can also find it on Amazon.

 

Here’s my Meal Plan for this week:

Monday ~ Black Bean Soup with Blue Corn Tortilla Chips.

Tuesday ~ Grilled Chicken Bruschetta with Quinoa and a Salad.

Wednesday ~ Honey Lime Tilapia with wild rice and carrots.  This recipe is very easy and super tasty!

Thursday ~ Pizza & Chicken Wings.

Friday ~ Grilled Hot Dogs and Hamburgers.

Saturday ~ We’re going to my cousin’s wedding, so no cooking for me tonight!

Sunday ~ Grilled Chicken Tenderloins with mac & cheese and green beans.

 

 

 

 

Meal Planning Monday ~ Adventures in the Kitchen

          I love being adventurous in life and in the kitchen!  In the past month, I’ve tried two new foods that I’ve never had before, and one that I haven’t had in years.  The first one is Swiss chard.  For some reason, I’ve been resistant to trying greens other than my old standby, spinach (which I love.)  When I was on vacation last month, my Aunt Claudia and I bought some baby Swiss chard at the farmers market in Michigan.  My Uncle Paul cooked it up for dinner and it was delicious!  I can’t believe I waited so long to try it.  Now, I’m inspired to try other types of greens, too. 

            I made quinoa for the first time two weeks ago.  Quinoa is actually a seed, not a grain.  It’s high in protein and gluten-free.  It cooks up like rice and absorbs the flavor of the spices you mix in with it.  My friend and cooking genius,  Julie Brawley, gave me a recipe for a Mexican-style quinoa which was awesome with grilled chicken and a salad.  (Recipe below.)  I’m now hunting for other quinoa recipes to try.

            About a month ago I did a 6 Day Detox to recharge and rev up my metabolism.  Brussels sprouts were one of the veggies on the detox menu.  As a kid, I refused to eat these mini-cabbage looking vegetables.  I tried them a few years ago at my sister-in-law’s house, but they were cooked in bacon grease.  (Because bacon makes everything better – and way more fattening!)   So I steamed the sprouts for my detox and tossed them with some Mrs. Dash’s seasoning and bit of olive oil.  They were okay, but not great.  However, Leah sent me a recipe for Grilled Brussels Sprouts with Whole Grain Mustard.  So, I am vowing to give them one last try before I write them off completely.  I understand that not all of my culinary adventures will be a smashing success and that’s okay.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained!

Here’s my Meal Plan for this week.  What new food have you tried lately?

Monday ~ Turkey Chili.  Mondays are always busy, so I’ll make use of one of my freezer meals today.

Tuesday ~ Grilled chicken tenderloins, hash brown casserole, and Swiss chard.

Wednesday ~ FFY (Fend For Yourself!)  I’m having dinner with a good friend at Bonefish Grill for $5 Bang Bang Shrimp and happy hour cocktails!

Thursday ~ Chicken Marsala with quinoa (instead of the usual rice) and a side salad.

Friday ~ I am SO excited for Friday’s dinner!  I am hosting a potluck with my Facebook recipe group.  Everyone is bringing a dish to share.  There are so many good cooks in that bunch; I can’t wait to see what everyone brings!

Saturday ~ Grilled salmon, potatoes, and grilled Brussels sprouts with whole grain mustard.

Sunday ~ Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans.

 

Fiesta Quinoa Pilaf  (From EatingClean4Life.com)         

Ingredients:

1 tsp. olive oil

1 tsp. sea salt

½ tsp. black pepper

2 cloves of minced garlic

½ tsp. ground cumin

½ tsp. chili powder

¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

2 cups of cooked quinoa

2 Tbs. lime juice

¼ cup chopped scallions

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and thoroughly combine.  Serve hot or cold.

Note: I cooked my quinoa with chicken broth instead of water.  I also substituted red pepper flakes for the cayenne pepper, since I was out.  I think this would also be good if you decreased some of the quinoa and added black beans.