Spaghetti squash with mushrooms, Parmesan and parsley

squash

I don’t normally shop at Whole Foods, but I went the other day because I had a gift card. I was reminded of why I don’t normally shop there. Everything is so overpriced, and for it being a “whole” foods store, their produce section was actually quite small, while aisles of processed foods took over the majority of the store. I couldn’t even find spaghetti squash, which is very in season right now, so I still had to make an extra stop at Kroger.

This is especially weighing on my mind as I recently watched a documentary on GMOs called, “GMO, OMG” that showed how GMOs are still present in one of the largest health food chains, (Whole Foods). You should check it out. The documentary was very eye-opening. In actuality, it’s very hard to shop for non-GMO foods unless you mainly get your produce from a farmer’s market, which I know isn’t an option for our busy schedules or budgets, but it is worth thinking about what you put into your body, and the steps you might be able to take, however small they may be, to a more healthy lifestyle.

OK, now that I’m off of my soap box, we can get to the good stuff. I love spaghetti squash as an alternative to pastas, but I have never made spaghetti squash quite like this before. You might not normally expect all the flavors to go together, but somehow they come together to create pure magic. I could eat sauteed mushrooms all day, but combined with the squash and Parmesan cheese, with just the hint of parsley…. just perfection. I also made ahead the mushrooms and baked the squash on Sunday, so all I had to do for a week night meal was reheat it in the oven to cook it all the way through. It saved me some time, as I’m normally very hungry when I get home.

Ingredients

  • 1 small spaghetti squash (about 3lbs)
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups button mushrooms, roughly chopped (about 20 mushrooms, 8oz)
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 380Fº

Put the spaghetti squash on a baking tray and bake for about an hour, until squash can be pierced with a knife.

In a deep skillet (or large pan), add olive oil, garlic and thyme. Cook for 2 minutes over high heat and add mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms are golden brown. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Take squash out of the oven and let cool to room temperature. Cut in half and get rid of the seeds. Use a fork to scrape the squash into strings.

Add squash to the skillet (or pan), turn the heat to high and quickly fry with mushrooms. Sprinkle parmesan while sauteing for a minute.

Turn the heat off, season with salt and pepper and serve warm.

If you want to make ahead and save for later, I put the squash mixture back into the squash with the mushrooms, and set aside the cheese and the parsley. When I was ready to bake, I put the squash in a baking dish and covered it with foil and let it warm in the oven for about 25 minutes. When it was ready, I mixed in the cheese and parsley.

Quinoa cakes with goat cheese and peppers

quinoa cheese cakes

I’ve made quinoa cakes before and they are some of the easiest things to make since I usually have quinoa on hand, so it’s really about adding whatever else I have in the fridge or want to go buy. I had some leftover cheeses from other recipes, so I used an assortment of goat, cheddar and parmesan cheeses. All I needed to get from the store were the fresh peppers and jalapenos. The cakes were a bit hot (which is how I like them) so you can definitely tone down the spice according to your taste.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup soft goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup dried quinoa
  • 1/3 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese (I also used a blend of cheddar cheese I had a little left of)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons unbleached white flour
  • 2 red bell peppers, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, to taste
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions:

Cook the quinoa according to directions.

Mash the goat cheese with a fork in a large bowl. Then combine the quinoa, cheeses, 2 tablespoons of the flour, peppers, onions, spices, herbs, salt and pepper, and eggs and. Stir until well combined, adding more flour or oil as needed to achieve a fairly moist mixture that can be shaped into roughly 6-8 small patties.

Heat the remaining oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. When hot, fry a few patties at a time until golden brown — about 5 minutes each side. Remove and let drain on paper towels.

Super food bowl: sweet potato, broccoli, cauliflower, sprouts, bell peppers, avocado and egg

super food bowl

I’m glad this recipe turned out all right because I was inspired by three different other recipes I have seen and tried before. And you can’t really go wrong when you add egg to anything. I made it for my family in an effort to introduce some more healthful options, and they were really pleased with it. It left all of us feeling full and satisfied – but not weighed down by a ton of food.

You can add or take away anything from the dish based on your preference. But I love all of these super foods, and I loved the way I felt after eating them!

Ingredients:

  • one yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 bell peppers, chopped (any color, I used red and green)
  • 2 sweet potatoes, halved
  • 1 head broccoli, chopped
  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped
  • avocado
  • eggs
  • 1 package bean sprouts
  • olive oil, about 2 tablespoons
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake the sweet potatoes until softened, about 45 minutes.

In a skillet, saute the onion and garlic until browned, or about two minutes, then add the bell peppers and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Then add the broccoli and cauliflower and continue to cook another 8-10 minutes.

In a separate pan, fry the egg in a little bit of oil.

When the sweet potatoes are ready, peel the potatoes and cut them into bite sized cubes.

When the egg is cooked and the veggies are softened, serve immediately by placing the sweet potato and skillet mixture in first, add the avocado and sprouts, and top with the egg.

You can add any additional spices or sauces like sriracha or kale pesto, etc. Enjoy!

Kale pesto

kale pesto

I loved the idea of using kale in my pesto when I was researching and thinking of recipes for the week. Kale can be tricky because it is so bitter so I was intrigued to test the recipe out, but it ended up tasting great! I used it in a couple of recipes already, and even use it to dip raw veggies in for a healthy snack. Pesto really is so easy to make, the hardest part is the cleanup. This time I used my immersion blender instead of a food processor and the cleanup was much easier!

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups kale
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

To make the pesto: pulse all in the ingredients in your food processor or blend with an immersion blender until it becomes pesto.

Tabbouleh with pearl barley

Tabbouleh

I mentioned yesterday that I was trying to reset my week with some healthy options for meals. For some reason I had been craving tabbouleh, but had never made it for myself. It was actually very easy because you just have to mix all the ingredients together and let it sit to improve its flavor. Just let it do its thing, and enjoy!

Also, I was also glad to find out that I could buy the barley at Kroger. I was worried it would only be at Central Market or something and I would have to make an extra stop. Who has time for that???

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves (1 bunch)
  • 1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley (1 bunch)
  • 1 cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and medium-diced
  • 2 cups tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Cook the pearl barley according the package directions. Once cooked, remove to a large bowl and add the lemon juice, olive oil, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Stir, then allow to stand at room temperature for about 1 hour.

Add the garlic, mint, parsley, cucumber, tomatoes, 2 teaspoons salt, and the pepper; mix well. Season, to taste, and serve or cover and refrigerate. The flavor will improve if the tabbouleh sits for a few hours or over night.

The recipe would go great with baked or grilled chicken, fresh veggies and hummus.

Veggie spring rolls with cucumber, carrots and avocado

Veggie spring rolls

July has been a nonstop month for me. For some reason, I booked myself full every single weekend. Last weekend I went to Austin to visit some college friends who planned a barge party. While we had so much fun, I also ate and drank more than I normally do (duh). Not to mention, I missed out on my weekend City Surf workouts. So I wanted to reset the week with a healthy meal and incorporate raw veggies. Spring rolls are so easy to make, and so delicious. The avocado adds a nice healthy fat element so it will leave you feeling full. The sauce is also easy to prepare, so you’ll be eating within 15 minutes!

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (about 20) round rice paper wrappers (can be found in Asian section of grocery store; store in pantry until ready to use)
  • 1 red pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 carrot, cut into thin strips
  • 1 cucumber, cut into thin strips
  • 1 avocado, cut into thin strips (squeeze a little lemon or lime over this if you won’t serve it right away so it doesn’t brown)

Dipping sauce:

  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha (Asian chili sauce), more or less, to taste, depending on how spicy you like it

Instructions:

Set out all ingredients listed above. Just before serving, soak 1 rice paper at a time in water until it becomes oft and shake to drain. Lay rice paper out on a large plate or cutting board. Add ingredients of choice in a line across the lower quarter of the paper in the following order: peppers, carrot, cucumber, then avocado.

Close the rolls by folding the left and right sides of the paper towards the middle and rolling up tightly from the bottom of the roll.

Serve immediately with the dipping sauce.

Zucchini boats stuffed with tomatoes, parmesan cheese and bread crumbs

zucchini boats

This recipe is so easy and goes well with lots of meals. I like to pair it with tilapia or catfish. They are also really great to prepare for a dinner party since you can make a big batch very easily.

Ingredients

  • 5-6 zucchinis
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes
  • garlic
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the edges off the zucchini, and cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and trim a little off the bottom so it sit still in a baking dish.

Scoop out the center where the seeds are with a spoon and set aside in a bowl. Brush the surface with a mixture of crushed garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper.

In the bowl with the zucchini insides, mix in the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Spoon into the zucchini boats. Arrange halved grape tomatoes into the grooves.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes.