Sweet and Spicy Roasted Acorn Squash

This work thing isn't working out! As you may have noticed, I have been a wee bit absent, since starting a new job. Today is the day that changes. I have been making excuses, telling myself that I will start again when I get used to my new schedule etc., but the reality is I don't think that will ever happen. Each weekend, as I am sure you know, I set off to do one or two things on my to-do list only to realize the couch feels so good! And let's get real Candy Crush won't play itself! Anyways.... I have decided to make a conciouse effort to do at least one post a week. If I cant do that....well then I guess I will just quit this ol' J-O-B of mine and get back to cooking! Along with that big change in my life, I have also decided to try the vegan thing again. I wouldn't say 100% vegan, but a solid 95% at least. I feel like life without cheese will be like amputating a leg rough to say the least, but I am stopping at the health food store on the way home to pick up some nutritional yeast, which I hear from vegans is a good cheese substitute. We will see.....we will see.

And of course I get out the dusty old camera to snap a pic.....and it is dead. Camera Phone it is!!

Sweet and Spicy Roasted Acorn Squash
1 acorn squash
1-2 tablespoons of chipotle sauce (depending on how spicy you prefer)
2 tablespoons cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon hoisen sauce
2 tablespoons ov olive oil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut your acorn squash in half and then into 6 wedges. Scoop out seeds and discard. Place on a lined baking sheet and set aside.

In a small bowl combined chipotle sauce, brown sugar, hoisin sauce, olive oil, garlic powder, and pepper. Using a cooking brush, cover squash wedges generously in the sauce. Place in oven and bake for 40-50 minutes until fork tender, removing every 15 minutes to glaze with remaining sauce.

Once done top with chopped cilantro, green onions, or sesame seeds or all three!!!


Red Kale, Asparagus and Mushrooms with Romano Cheese Polenta

I know, I know. I have literally been absent for months. I would come up with an amazing excuse....but I think it is just winter wearing on me. I only have so many hours of good lighting to take pictures with, and if I am not feeling the cooking vibe...well I think you know what happens. But now Spring is just around the corner. It stays light until almot 7:00pm! Despite the fact that there is a snow storm looming on the horizon because I live in Antarctica.... I mean northern Canada.... it seems like I can almost taste summer coming.  But since the first day of spring here.....is very different than the rest of the world I am doing a warm and cozy recipe with mushrooms and hot polenta.  A little asparagus in this recipe is just the spring I need to hold me over, until real spring gets here

Red Kale, Asparagus, and Mushrooms with Romano Cheese Polenta

2-3 cups purple kale, torn into bite sized pieces
1 cup dried porcini mushrooms*
1 cup asparagus, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 cup hot water
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup corn meal
1 cup mushroom or chicken broth
1/2 cup low-fat milk
3/4 cup shredded romano cheese (optional)
2 tablespoons chives, chopped
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

If you don't have dried mushrooms (and mushroom broth) , just used your favorite fresh mushrooms and chicken broth. I used a combination of dried and fresh. 

Place dried mushrooms in a bowl. Pour 1 cup of hot water, or enough to cover mushrooms in bowl. Set aside.

In a large pan heat olive oil or butter over medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally for 2-3 minutes until softened. Drain mushrooms, and reserve liquid for polenta. Add mushrooms and kale, along with a splash of mushroom liquid, stir reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Cook for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until kale has begun to soften. Add asparagus, cover and cook for another 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. 

In a medium pot,  bring mushroom liquid and broth to a boil. Whisk in cornmeal and milk and reduce to a simmer. Continue to whisk for 5-10 minutes until desired consistency is reached. Remove from heat and whisk in cheese, until melted. Immeditely plate and top with the kale and mushrooms. Sprinkle with chopped chives and some extra cheese.


Poached Eggs and Brussel Sprouts

This is what nightmares are made of. For kids. Runny yolks and mini cabbages. Ever since I started making  brussel sprouts this way I literally cannot stop. I have had them 1-2 times a week for a month. I recently added the poached egg for a great little lunch. I really need to invest in an egg poacher....because as you can tell from the picture....not my best performance. 

Speaking of performances I did a workout today that was the bee's knees. I will post it below this recipe!

Poached Eggs and Brussel Sprouts
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
3-4 cups brussel sprouts
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and Pepper
2 lemon wedges
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vinegar

Makes 2 servings

In a large pan melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and shallot and saute for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally until soft.

While garlic and shallots are cooking, peel off any damaged leaves of the brussel sprouts. Cut off ends, and then slice as thin as possible. If you have the slicing attachment for your food processor this works great too. Add sliced brussel sprouts to pan and stir. Cover and cook for 1 minute, then stir. Repeat 6-7 times, always stirring after a minute to prevent burning or sticking. Once the brussel sprouts have softened, season with salt and pepper and set aside. 

You can poach your eggs however you please. If you have the old fashion tools, bring water and vinegar to a simmer in a small pot. Slowly crack eggs into the pot, using a slotted spoon to help keep their shape. Cook for 2-4 minutes, depending on how runny you would like them. Remove from water with a slotted spoon and drain. 

Place a heaping spoonful of brussel sprouts on a plate, create a small crater with the back of the spoon and place egg inside. Squeeze a lemon wedge over egg and enjoy!

Thursday Burpee Pyramid

For this workout there are no breaks. You move from one exercise right into the other. I think that is why I almost puked felt amazing. The only pyramid part are the burpees, everything else is always a set of 10. 

10 burpees
10 squats
10 push-ups
10 box jumps
10 calf raises

9 burpees
10 squats
10 push-ups
10 box jumps
10 calf raises

8 burpees......

and so on down to 1 burpee

Death by burpees!


Red Quinoa, Apple and Carrot Ribbon Salad with Curry Citrus Dressing

I am sure one of you resolutions this years is to work out more, eat less junk food, or lose weight. I think 90% of resolutions made involve one of the above mentioned topics. My resolution is to eat more greens and to not get wrinkles  have at least 3 vegan days a week, along with some others you probably don't care about. Whatever you resolution is, I hope it last longer than the end of January and if it is to eat more healthy here is a great recipe for you!

Red Quinoa, Apple and Carrot Ribbon Salad with Curry Citrus Dressing
2 large carrots, peeled
1 medium apple
1 cup cooked red quinoa
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon yellow curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup fresh mint
1/2 cup fresh cilantro

In a small bowl whisk together shallot, garlic, honey, lime juice, olive oil, salt, curry powder and cumin. Set aside. 

In a large bowl use a vegetable peeler to create carrot ribbons with the two large carrots. Cut apple into matchsticks and add to bowl, along with cooked quinoa. Roughly chop mint and cilantro and add to bowl, reserving a few sprigs for garnish. Pour dressing over carrots, apples and quinoa and toss to coat. 

Remove salad to a serving platter and garnish with fresh herbs a some fresh cracked pepper. 


Roasted Spaghetti Squash and Kale Salad

I am borderline psychotic in need of a nap so without further ado..... a recipe full of winter veggies and roasted seeds. BAM.

Roasted Spaghetti Squash and Kale Salad
1 spaghetti squash
2 cups kale, torn into small pieces
1/2 medium yellow onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the insides, setting the seeds aside. Place skin side down on a pan along with the onion and brush with butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for 35-45 minutes until flesh of the squash is tender. 

Remove from oven and allow to cool. While squash is cooling place seeds in a bowl, and toss with olive oil and sea salt. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, until they begin to brown. Remove from oven and set aside. 

In a large bowl add kale and a little olive oil. Massage the oil into the kale leaves for about 2 minutes until they begin to soften. You could alternately sautee the leaves if you didn't feel up to giving a plant a rub down. After leaves have softened, use a fork to remove the flesh of the squash from the skin and add to the large bowl. Chop cooked and cooled onion and add to bowl along with parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Top with toasted squash seeds.


Coconut-Carrot Tahini Soup

So can we just talk about "it" foods real quick? This past year it was quinoa, goji berries,  and butternut squash. More recently the "it" food is kale. You literally cannot read an article on the good ol' in-tro-net without someone telling you how kale will make you skinny, have glowing skin, and your babies will be born with a full head of hair. K maybe I stretched that last one a bit. All I am saying is that people go through fads with food almost as frequently as the next hot diet or exercise craze. (P90X, Zumba, or Crossfit anyone?) The point of this rant is.... you should really be eating these "it" foods all the time,  because Gweneth Paltrow does they are always good for you! 

When my parents visited a few weeks ago they made so delicious carrot ginger soup. Fairly simple but so so so good. I thought I could add a few item to their original (i.e. spices and tahini)......mainly because lately I am using tahini like a sesame addict. It is my new "it" food. After I found out they are a great source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids....I basically put that ish on everything. 

Coconut-Carrot Tahini Soup

1 pound washed and peeled carrots (6-7 large carrots)
1 medium yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
4 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2  teaspoon corriander
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper 
1/3 cup tahini

Cilantro for garnish

Heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add butter and melt. Roughly chop onions and carrots and add to pot. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally until onions are translucent. Add minced garlic, ginger, spices, salt and pepper. Cook for an additional minute until spices are fragrant. Add vegetable broth, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until carrot are very soft. 

Remove from heat. Using and immersion blender (or regular blender if you don't have one) blend until smooth. Add coconut milk and blend until incorporated. Let cool for about 5 minutes, add tahini, and blend again for about 30 seconds. Serve with a few sprigs of cilantro on top. 


Carrot and Sweet Potato Lasagna with Basil Tomato Cashew Cheese Sauce

After my first experience with cashews used as a sauce, my mind was overflowing with ideas on how to change creamy sauces (which I usually hate) to something healthy and delicious. I love, love, love lasagna. It can be made vegetarian without meat eaters batting an eyelash. You can add any type of meat, vegetable, or cheese and usually you will get an amazing result.

My veggie friend Lacey made me some yummy vegetarian lasagna the other day, which included carrots and I loved it so much a had to expand on it. Carrots add a great texture that lasagna is usually missing. So then I thought..... why not substitute the ricotta with some sort of cashew cream sauce? The textures are similar enough....and like I said.... pretty hard to mess up....hopefully :)

Carrot and Sweet Potato Lasagna with Basil Tomato Cashew  Sauce

1 medium sweet potato*
2-3 large carrots
1.5 cups Basil Tomato Cashew Sauce (recipe below)
2 cups Roasted Tomato Sauce (recipe below)

* Next time I may just use carrots. The sweet potatoes make this dish a little too sweet for my liking. 

Basil Tomato Cashew "Cheese" Sauce

1 cup cashews
1/2 cup fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper
1/2 cup water

Soak cashews in water for 4 hours or overnight. Drain, rinse, and add to a blender with remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth, adding more water if necessary. IT should be about the same consistency of ricotta cheese. Set aside.

Roasted Tomato Sauce

3 cups tomatoes  ( I used assorted cherry & roma)
1 large yellow onion, cut into wedges
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper
1 cup tomato sauce
2 cloves garlic, peeled

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Toss tomatoes and onion in olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper. Place on a lined baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and place in a food processor along with tomato sauce and garlic and pulse until almost smooth.

To assemble :

Peel carrots and sweet potatoes. Using a vegetable peeler cut this ribbons with carrots and potatoes and set aside.  Using a 8x8 inch pan, add a thin layer of sauce. Continue with a layer of carrots and sweet potatoes, making about as thick as a standard lasagna noodle. Spoon half of the cashew cheese and spread evenly over the top. Next add a generous layer of sauce, followed by carrots and sweet potatoes and remaining cashew cheese. Follow with a layer of sauce, carrots and sweet potatoes, and remaining sauce.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes until sweet potatoes and carrots are tender.


Jicama and Grapefruit Salad with Persimmon Dressing

Your first thought: What is a persimmon? Your second thought: What is a jicama?

Both legit questions. I only know the answer to one. Jicama is a root of a ....vegetable/bean plant? It sort of taste like a cross between an apple and a potato. Super crunchy, slightly sweet, really confusing on your taste buds.

Persimmon....not so much. I grabbed a few because at the grocery store there we tons of them, so I figured they must be in season....and I love fresh fruits and veggies in season. After some google work I discovered that is is a fruit, with two varieties, that can be made into puddings. Not much help, so I just decided to cut a piece off and go for it. Surprise! For some reason I was expecting a tomato. It is a mildly sweet, smooth textured fruit.

So I thought I would make a salad out of two fruits/vegetables you will never see. But in case you inherit a jicama farm from your Latina grandma.... you are set.

Jicama and Grapefruit Salad with Persimmon Dressing

2 cups jicama, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 grapefruit
1 handful cilantro
1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 avocado, cubed
1/2 persimmon
1/2 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon grape
seed or olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Over a small bowl, peel and cut grapefruit into segments, catching juices in the bowl. Add grapefruit segments to a large bowl along with jicama, cilantro, red onion, and avocado.

To the small bowl add juice of 1/2 lime, agave nectar, grape seed oil, salt, and garlic. Chop the persimmon into tiny cubes and add to dressing. Whisk until combined and pour over salad. Toss to coat and serve!


Sweet Potato and Oat Falafel

Healthy comfort food is sort of an oxymoron. "It is so cold out there today! I could really go for a salad" - said no one ever.  Well it is officially winter here and I was in dire need of a way to get some comfort food that wasn't loaded with cheese or made from chocolate. These aren't your traditional falafels, mainly because they are not deep fried, and do not contain any flour. But they do have chickpeas and are served with a delicious tahini sauce that is a great alternative to the greasy falafels you might be used to. You can stick 'em in a pita or enjoy them all by themselves.
Sweet Potato and Oat Falafel
2 medium sweet potatoes
1 cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup oats
2 cloves garlic
1 handful cilantro
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
Salt and Pepper
First you need to cook your sweet potatoes. You can do this by roasting at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes, peeling and boiling, microwaving, whatever works for you. Once they are cooked, scoop only the orange insides into a food processor.
Add all of the remaining ingredients, except for the oats and sesame seeds. Pulse until mixture is smooth.
Remove from food processor and add to a large bowl along with oats. Fold oats in until they are evenly incorporated.
On a non-stick baking sheet, place heaping spoonfuls about an inch apart and top with a few sesame seeds. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes until you see the tops to get a little crunchy and golden brown.
For these bite sized treats I made a lemon tahini dip! See below:
Lemon Tahini Dip
1/2 cup tahini
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons parsley
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup water
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until smooth .

All inspired by the awesome recipe below!


Raw Pad Thai


I recently stumbled on the most amazing website. I literally spent hours browsing through these amazing recipes, and when I saw this one I knew I had to try it. The unique thing about this website, is that is not only gave you a recipe, but it also gave you a breakdown for the nutritional value or secrets of certain foods. And it does this for all the recipes. Seriously guys, its amazing. So I made this Raw Pad Thai recipe, fully expecting it to be awesome. It was. The only thing I couldn't find was kelp noodles, so I used rice noodle instead, which I could have left out all together and it would have been just as delicious! There are a lot of ingredients, but don't let that scare you.  If you are on a clean eating challenge, wanting some more veggies in your diet, are vegan, or just want a good recipe, give it a try!

Raw Pad Thai
1/2  package Rice Noodles
½ head purple cabbage
2 carrots
1 zucchini
1 bunch green onions
1 each red and yellow bell pepper
1 serving marinated mushrooms (see below)
1 bunch cilantro (reserve a little for garnish)
Raw Pad Thai Sauce (see below)
sesame seeds
lime wedges for serving
Marinated Mushrooms
2-3 cups of mushrooms, roughly chopped (I used crimini and portabello)
¼ cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Whisk all ingredients together and fold on mushrooms. Allow to marinate, refrigerated, for a few hours, or overnight if you can. Stir occasionally.

Raw Pad Thai Sauce
1 cup cashews, soaked
1 inch ginger root, peeled
1 clove garlic
½ red chili pepper, seeds removed
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 ½ Tbsp. soy sauce
juice of 2 limes
1 tsp. ground turmeric
10 coriander seeds, or 1 tsp. ground coriander
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup water
Pad Thai
1. Remove rice noodles from package and rinse. Place in a pot of water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, let sit 3 minutes then rinse and drain and set aside.
2. Here is were all the work is. I used a vegetable peeler, potato peeler and knife. Peel the carrots, then use the potato peeler to make thin ribbons. Use the vegetable peeler on the zucchini, then cut those ribbons into thin, noodle like strips. Julienne the bell pepper. and thinly slice the cabbage. Slice green onions and roughly chop cilantro, including stems. Place all veggies in a bowl, along with marinated mushrooms (see below) and set aside.
1. Soak cashews for at least 4 hours, overnight is best.
2. Drain and rinse cashews well. Place in a blender and add all other ingredients . Blend until smooth (this may take a minute or two).
When ready to serve pour desired amount of dressing over the veggies along with noodles, and toss to coat. After plating add cilantro, sesame seeds, and lime wedges.
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