Millet and Kale Stuffed Acorn Squash

millet and kale stuffed squash

Millet and Kale Stuffed Acorn Squash recipe
Serves 8

I decided to do a twist on my favorite holiday vegan main dish (my Quinoa, Cranberry and Squash Bake) and instead make a stuffed squash version. I subbed millet (a gluten-free grain that cooks up similar to couscous) for the quinoa and used currants instead of the cranberries, and folded in some kale because I can’t help myself. I love the flavor of sage in holiday dishes, but feel free to sub rosemary or your favorite combination of wintry herbs.

4 acorn squashes
Drizzle of grapeseed oil
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
1 cup millet
2 cups vegetable broth
1 red onion or 2 shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb mixed mushrooms, stemmed and chopped into 1/4” cubes
2 tablespoons fresh sage, finely minced
2 cups lacinato kale, shredded
1/2 cup dried currants
Salt and pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 425.  Cut acorn squashes in half and scoop out seeds (if they are very large, cut into quarters).  Drizzle with grapeseed oil and roast for 30 minutes cut side down. Flip over and roast for 20 minutes cut side up.  

  2. In a small pot, heat drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and add millet, stirring for 3 minutes or until toasty.  Add vegetable broth, bring to a simmer and cover. Cook until all liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.

  3. In a large skillet, heat another drizzle of olive oil and and saute onion/shallots and garlic for 3 minutes.  Then add mushrooms and sage and cook until liquid is released and evaporated, about 10 minutes. Wilt in kale and season generously with salt and pepper.  Stir in dried currants and cooked millet.

  4. Assemble stuffed squashes: Take a scoop of millet filling and place into center of each squash.  You may have 1-2 cups of leftover filling depending on your squash size.

Homemade Elderberry Syrup

homemade elderberry syrup

Homemade Elderberry Syrup recipe

During cold and flu season, I’m constantly making trips to Walgreens and Whole Foods to pick up my beloved elderberry syrup. So this year, I decided to make my own with some added chai spices like cinnamon, clove, and cardamom. Find dried elderberries online (I bought these ones). You’ll need sugar or honey to make the syrup longer lasting (I’ll be keeping these in my fridge for a few weeks.) As will all herbs and herbal supplements, consult a doctor before consuming.

1 cup dried elderberries
3 cups water
zest from 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons grated ginger
5 cloves
5 green cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup raw honey

  1. Add all the ingredients except for honey to a small pot and simmer on the stovetop for 30 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and push the solids with a wooden spoon against the mesh to extract all the juice. You should have 1 cup of liquid.

  2. Let cool for 10 minutes then stir in honey to dissolve. Transfer to small bottles and store in the fridge.

Sheet Pan Salmon and Broccolini

sheet pan salmon and broccolini

Sheet Pan Salmon with Broccolini recipe
Serves 2

Sheet pan dinners are perfect for beginners in the kitchen or anyone who wants a night off from dishes. If you are creating your own sheet pan recipes, you have to be conscious that all your ingredients take the same amount of time to cook. For this recipe you can sub broccoli or cauliflower for the broccolini. If you use cauliflower, just cut it a bit smaller. Cauliflower is denser than broccoli so typically takes longer to cook.

2 6-ounce salmon portions, skin on
1 tablespoon tamari (soy sauce)
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 bunches broccolini (1 lb)
Grapeseed oil, salt and pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 400 and line a half sheet tray with parchment paper.

  2. Place salmon in center of sheet tray and season with salt and pepper.  

  3. In a small bowl, mix tamari, dijon, garlic and 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil.  Spoon mixture over filets and let marinate 10 minutes.

  4. Slice any large broccolinis vertically to make them all a uniform thickness.  Then toss with more grapeseed oil, salt and pepper and arrange around salmon.

  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes until fish is cooked (thinner fish will cook more quickly and thicker fish will take longer) and broccolini is crispy.

Wild Salmon Poke Bowl

poke bowl recipe

Wild Salmon Poke Bowl recipe
serves 2

I loved the poke bowl idea ever since I was introduced to it a few years ago. Derived from the Hawaiian grocery store staple poke (a raw fish salad usually made with ahi tuna), poke bowls combine the fish with all sorts of colorful vegetables, rice, and seasonings. I love bowl meals like this because they are flexible and allow me to create different meals on weeknights with a lot of the same ingredients. Be sure to use sushi grade fish that’s been properly handled (i.e. defrosted in the fridge and not on the counter). I used King salmon from my fish CSA, Sitka Salmon Shares, so the instructions are written assuming you have a sushi-grade frozen fish but fresh fish would obviously be great too.

for poke:
8 ounces of Sitka King salmon
1 tablespoon shoyu or tamari
1/2 teaspoon of kelp flakes (can sub nori flakes or furikake)
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

for bowls:
1 cup cooked sushi rice or short grain white rice
Cabbage Slaw (see recipe below)
Roasted Maple Squash (see recipe below)
optional garnishes: microgreens, sliced avocado, sesame seeds, chopped nuts

1. Prepare salmon by defrosting for 24 hours in the refrigerator in the vacuum packaging.  (Since the poke is served raw, you shouldn’t defrost on the counter or using hot water.)  Before slicing, place salmon in packaging back in the freezer for 10 minutes—this will help it slice more cleanly.  Then using tweezers, remove any pin bones and using a sharp knife, cut skin off salmon.  Cut salmon into 1/2-inch cubes and place in a glass bowl. 

2. Toss with shoyu/tamari, kelp flakes, honey, scallion, and toasted sesame oil and chill in fridge for 10 minutes while you assemble the rest of your poke bowl with rice, slaw, squash, and garnishes. 

*Cabbage Slaw recipe
serves 2 

3 cups sliced purple cabbage
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 scallions, sliced
1 teaspoon white sesame seeds
1 teaspoon black sesame seeds
salt to taste

1.  In a large bowl, combine cabbage, rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, and salt and massage lightly with your hands to break down cabbage.  Garnish with scallions and sesame seeds.   

*Roasted Maple Squash recipe
serves 2

1 kabocha squash (or butternut, acorn, red kuri), cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1-2 tablespoons sunflower oil

1. Preheat oven to 425.  On a parchment-lined sheet tray, toss squash cubes with maple, oil and salt and roast until tender and golden, 25-35 minutes.

Vegan and Gluten-free Mac and Cheese with Broccoli

vegan mac and cheese with broccoli

Vegan and Gluten-free Mac and Cheese recipe
Serves 4

Yes I know this shouldn’t be called Mac and Cheese since there is no cheese and not even real pasta. BUT this creamy pasta recipe really hits the spot when you are craving something cozy and gooey, plus it’s a meal in a bowl that we never mind having leftovers of. One tip: don’t skip the tomato paste. Cashew sauces tend to skew very sweet, so you need to add plenty of salt plus something acidic (like tomatoes) to get a sauce more similar to cheese.

12 oz fusili rice pasta
1 head of broccoli cut into florets (stems saved for curry)
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes (1 1/2 cups)
2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 small russet potato, peeled and chopped into 1/4-inch cubes (1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup teaspoon nutritional yeast
Sriracha to taste (optional)
Salt to taste

1. Cook pasta a large pot of salted boiling water according to package directions.  In last 1 minute of cooking, add broccoli florets. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water to cool down.

2. In a large skillet, heat a drizzle of olive oil and saute chopped onion until it softens, about 5 minutes.  Add minced garlic, granulated garlic, onion powder, turmeric and tomato paste and stir. Add chopped potatoes, cashews, and 2 cups of water.  Simmer until potatoes are cooked, about 10 minutes.

3. Add ingredients from skillet to a blender along with nutritional yeast and sriracha if using.  Blend until smooth adding water to get desired sauce consistency. (I used 1/2 cup.) Taste sauce and season with salt to taste--you’ll probably need more than you expect because real cheese is salty!

4. Return pasta and broccoli to pot and add enough sauce to coat.  You may have some extra sauce. Save for topping veggies, for tacos, or for vegan nachos.

Raspberry Campari Spritz

raspberry campari spritz

Raspberry Campari Spritz recipe
makes 1 spritz

It's not summer without a Spritz!  Here's my new favorite variation on this classic Italian aperitivo.  I use Campari instead of Aperol for a stronger bitter flavor and then a dash of kombucha for fizz and a little probiotic punch.  I used GT's Trilogy flavor (raspberry, lemon, ginger) but you could try plain or another citrusy or fruity flavor that you like.  Raspberries and oranges make the perfect festive garnish.

1 ounce Campari
2 ounces kombucha (I used GT's Trilogy Kombucha)
3 ounces prosecco
raspberries and orange slices

1. In your largest/most ridiculous wine glass, combine Campari, kombucha, and prosecco.  Top with ice, raspberries, and orange slices then head outside and sit on a patio.

Scallion Sardine Cakes

sardine cakes recipe

In my Omega 3 Fish class, I sing the praises of canned sardines because they hit the gold standards for sustainable seafood, affordability, low mercury content, and of course, high Omega 3 content.  The only issue is that they are really fishy tasting.  (Actually all high Omega 3 fish will be because the high fat/oil content is also what keeps that fishy taste.)  Plus most of the sardine recipes out there combine them with toast, pasta, or breadcrumbs which is fine, but not necessarily the best option if you want to include more anti-inflammatory ingredients in your diet.  These cakes (a play on crab cakes) have been my go-to pantry way to make a sardine dinner.  I find the Asian seasonings help fight the fishiness but you can also try them with Mediterranean seasonings like garlic and parsley instead.  Serve with a big side of veggies like roasted broccoli or sauteed kale.

Scallion Sardine Cakes recipe
serves 2

for cakes:
2 4.4-ounce cans of sardines (in oil or water; with bones or without)
1 egg
2 scallions, minced
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon tamari
1/4 cup arrowroot starch/flour
salt and pepper
drizzle of grapeseed oil

for dipping sauce:
1 tablespoon Sriracha
2 tablespoons mayo

1. Drain sardines and lightly mash in a small mixing bowl with a fork.  Add egg, scallions, ginger, garlic, tamari and arrowroot.  Combine into an even mixture with a fork.  (Sardines will continue to break up which is great.)  The mixture may look a little wet but it will still hold together because of the egg.  If it looks super wet or isn't holding together you can add more arrowroot.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet and drizzle a little grapeseed oil.  Form tablespoon-sized patties and fry lightly until they are golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side.  You should have 10 patties.

3. Combine Sriracha and mayo for dipping sauce and serve immediate with cakes.  They make good leftovers too!

Veggie Breakfast Bowl

veggie breakfast bowl recipe

Veggie bowls like this one have become morning staples for me.  I prep a big container full of chopped up cooked veggies on Sunday and then have them ready to go to just reheat on weekday mornings.  Typically I top with an egg, but take a look at my suggestions below on how to modify for your diet and dietary needs.  This has been my go-to for the mystery veggies in my CSA box that I don't know quite what to do with.  You can really make this with any veggies--this is just what I had on hand this week!

Veggie Breakfast Bowl recipe
serves 3-4

drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 portabello mushrooms caps, chopped into 1/2" pieces
1/2 lb green beans, chopped into 1/2" pieces
1 bunch Swiss chard, leaves and stems chopped into 1/2" pieces
salt and pepper
topping of choice (see below)

1. In a large skillet, heat extra virgin olive oil and add minced garlic.  Stir for 30 seconds until garlic is aromatic but not brown.  Add mushrooms and saute for 5 minutes until they release their juices.  Add chopped green beans and Swiss chard stems and saute for 5 minutes more.  Add 1-2 tablespoons of water to help sauteing process if it seems to dry.  Finish by wilting in chard leaves and seasoning with salt and pepper.  Top as desired and store extras.

Topping suggestions for each serving portion:
protein: 1-2 fried or scrambled eggs; 1/2 cup black beans; 1/2 cup chickpeas; 3 oz seared tofu; 1/4 lb ground meat
fat: 1/4-1/2 avocado; 2 tablespoons tahini; 1/4 cup sesame seeds or cashews; guacamole
probiotic: 2 tablespoons naturally fermented veggies like sauerkraut or kimchi; 1/4 cup plain goat, cow, or nondairy yogurt seasoned with lemon and salt
flavor: crumbly cheese like feta or queso fresco; quick pickled onions or veggies; squeeze of lemon; Sriracha or other hot sauce; salsa; dulse flakes

Other veggie combo ideas:
These veggies may have different cooking times or methods, so cook as you would normally, but you can still saute or combine them together as a breakfast bowl.

sweet potatoes + spinach + cauliflower
beets + kale + summer squash
brocoli + squash + scallions
red onion + shiitake mushrooms + collard greens
asparagus + zucchini + potatoes

Zafrani Chai

zafrani chai recipe

There are certain comfort foods from childhood that you just can't replace.  For me, South Asian-style masala chai is one of them.  Here, I'm sharing how to make authentic masala tea with one unique twist: the addition of saffron.  I got the idea when I met with the founder of Heray Spice and we did a taste test with saffron from his family's farm in Afghanistan.  I'd seen YouTube videos of saffron masala tea (or zafrani chai) from Pakistan and put it together with the way that I typically make masala chai.  Here I use coconut sugar instead of white sugar because I like its caramel taste and it reminds me of the less processed sugar varieties (like jaggery) that you'll find in India and Pakistan.  I have masala chai all the time with nondairy milk, and it's good, but it's almost a totally different beverage.  So here I've given you the traditional whole milk preparation as well as suggestions for going dairy-free. 

Zafrani Chai recipe
makes 2 small servings

1 cup water
1/2 cinnamon stick
5 cardamom pods
2 cloves
3 black peppercorns
pinch of saffron
2 black tea bags (or 4 teaspoons loose leaf black tea)
1 cup whole milk (see directions below to sub nondairy milk)
2-3 teaspoons coconut sugar

1. In a small pot heat water with cinnamon stick, cardamom, cloves, peppercorns and saffron.  Let simmer on low for 10 minutes.

2. Add black tea and milk and let simmer on low an additional 10 minutes.  Strain and serve in two small tea cups or glasses garnished with additional saffron threads.

Note: Typically masala chai is made with dairy milk that is simmered along with the spices and tea.  However, when I've tried this method with nondairy alternatives, I find they tend to get a weird consistency and separate.  If you want to make this dairy-free, simmer the spices, tea and sugar with water only and then add your non-dairy milk of choice and let it heat up but not boil.  My favorite kind is actually soy milk (creamier) but you can also try almond or coconut milk.

Watermelon Chaat

watermelon fruit chaat

Watermelon Chaat
serves 8

Chaat is a blanket term in Indian and Pakistani cuisine that refers to all kinds of street food and snacks.  Fruit chaat is often simply cut fruit, sometimes with a sweetened syrup and even sometimes with hot and savory spices.  For this chaat, I skipped the savory spices to make it more Americanized and topped with lime, honey, and black sesame seeds.  Fruit salads can be bland or have too many mismatched fruits so this salad uses a few of my favorite decadent fruits like cherries and blackberries along with more affordable watermelon.  

6 cups cubed watermelon
2 cups pitted cherries, cut in half
2 cups blackberries
1 tablespoon honey
2 limes, juiced
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds

1. Assemble a platter with the watermelon, cherries, and blackberries.  Whisk together honey and lime juice and drizzle over fruit.  Sprinkle with black sesame seeds.

Spinach Gomae

spinach gomae recipe

Spinach Gomae recipe
serves 6

This Japanese-style preparation of greens has become one of my go-to ways to cook up a batch of greens for the week.  This recipe is traditionally made with spinach, I use all kinds of greens, especially the tops of veggies like beets, turnips, and radishes that come in my CSA. I'll cook thin stems like spinach but skip woodier ones like kale or collards. Although boiling seems to have gone out of fashion in the health-sphere, this method tenderizes the greens while removing their bitterness and perhaps increasing the bioavailability of some nutrients.  If you don't have a suribachi or mortar and pestle.  You can buzz up the sesame seeds in a spice grinder or blender or simply leave them whole.

2 lbs spinach or leafy greens, washed
4 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted in a pan
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon mirin
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1. Bring a large pot of salted water up to a boil.  Add spinach/greens, pushing down and let cook for 2 minutes only.  Strain and run under cold water.  Squeeze out extra liquid and place on a cutting board.  Run your knife through it a few times and place on a platter.

2. Take toasted sesame seeds in a suribachi or mortar and pestle.  Grind sesame seeds until they crumble but you still have a little texture.  Add maple, mirin, tamari and sesame oil and mix together.  Drizzle over spinach to taste.

Ingredient notes:

*Mirin is a Japanese cooking wine.  I buy Eden Foods brand at Whole Foods.  Many cheaper brands are often filled with corn syrup.  If you can't find it, I'd add an extra teapsoon of maple syrup and a teaspoon of rice vinegar.

*Tamari is a Japanese-style soy sauce that's gluten-free.  Use any kind of soy sauce you like.  If you are watching your sodium, simply use less or try a low-sodium version or Coconut Aminos.  

Grilled Fingerling Potato Salad

grilled fingerling potato salad recipe

Grilled Fingerling Potato Salad recipe
serves 4-6 as a side dish

Grilling potatoes is a great way to modernize the potluck classic of potato salad.  Instead of a cold, creamy dish, we’ll serve this warm and amp up the smokiness of grilled potatoes and the brightness of the vinaigrette. Try using a grill pan or roasting the potatoes at 425 for 25 minutes if you are cooking indoors.

1 1/2 lbs fingerling potatoes
1/2 lb haricots verts or green beans
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
1/4 extra virgin olive oil
juice from 1 lemon (1/4 cup)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
salt and pepper

1. Bring a large pot of salted water up to a boil.  Add fingerlings and cook until just barely cooked through—you actually want them slightly undercooked.  Use a fine mesh strainer or tongs to remove potatoes so you still have simmering water.  Rinse potatoes quickly in cold water to cool down until you can handle them and cut them in half vertically.

2. Whisk together vinaigrette: combine grapeseed oil, olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, garlic, oregano, mustard and a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Toss about 1/3 of the dressing.

3. To simmering water, add haricots verts or green beans and let cook for 2-3 minutes until just tender.  Drain and rinse under cold water, shake off all excess and put in a serving bowl.

4. Grill marinated potatoes cut side down until grill marks appear, about 3 minutes.  Remove to serving bowl and toss with haricots verts and about 1/2 of the remaining dressing.  Taste and season for more salt and add more dressing as desired.  Save any extra for salads or other items for the grill.

This recipe is part of the Here's to Your Health event series sponsored by Here and presented at Mariano's in Summer 2018.  Find more details here

Oat Milk


Oat Milk recipe
makes 3 cups

Oat milk is a more sustainable and affordable alternative to almond milk that's been popping up at a lot of coffee shops lately.  Oats require less water to grow than almonds and are a Midwestern crop, which means I can source them locally if I like.  You can use either steel cut oats or rolled oats to make oat milk--I chose steel cut oats here because you are less likely to overprocess them in the blender (and make a slimy milk) and the remaining oat pulp is easy to fold into any kind of oatmeal for the next few days.  The oat milk and pulp will taste best if consumed within 3 days--store both in the fridge.  Soaking the oats for at least 30 minutes but up to overnight also helps make sure the final product is not slimy.

1 cup steel cut oats, soaked for 30 minutes in water
3 cups filtered water

helpful tool: a nut milk bag (I use this one*)
optional flavorings: pinch of sea salt, 1-2 teaspoons maple syrup, 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1. Strain and rinse soaked steel cut oats in a fine mesh strainer.  Combine in the blender with 3 cups filtered water and blend on medium for 10-15 seconds.  (Don't worry about it being totally smooth; overprocessing can make it slimy.)

2. Strain mixture through the fine mesh strainer into a bowl and remove and store oat pulp.  Pass oat milk through the nut milk bag into a quart mason jar (or whatever you'd like to store in it) to get the finer pieces of pulp out.  Store in the fridge for 3 days.

*affiliate link

DIY Flavored Sparkling Water

DIY flavored sparkling water recipe

DIY Flavored Sparkling Water recipes

Save yourself the effort of hauling a case of LaCroix up the stairs and start making your own naturally infused sparkling waters!  Fresh juices or even pureed fruit makes a great base and I also like to used brewed herbal teas like mint, peach rooibos, or hibiscus.  Fresh berries, citrus and fresh herbs all make great garnishes.  Typically 1 ounce of mixer to 4 ounces of club soda or sparkling water is a good ratio--use about 1/2 ounce for super tart ingredients like lemon and lime.  Here are a few recipes:

Grapefruit Sparkling Water
1 ounce fresh grapefruit juice
4 ounces club soda
slice of grapefruit

1. Mix in a glass and top with ice.

Lemongrass Lemon Sparkling Water
1 ounce brewed lemongrass tea
4 ounces club soda
slice of lemon

1. Mix in a glass and top with ice.

Mint Mojito Sparkling Water
1/2 ounce lime juice
4 ounces club soda
1 sprig of mint

1. Mix in a glass at top with ice.  Tear or muddle the mint to get more of the flavor infused.

Kitchari Jars

kitchari jars recipe for the instant pot

Kitchari Jars for the Instant Pot recipe
makes 1 jar which makes 3-4 servings cooked
Multiply for however many jars you'd like to make

Kitchari is an Indian home staple recipe and one of the foundational foods in Ayurveda.  It's nutritious and easy to digest and typically seasoned very lightly.  I often call it "Indian congee" to help people picture the desired consistency (like a thick porridge) as well as ways to customize it.  Kitchari is the perfect dish to make in your Instant Pot because pressure cooking really reduces the cooking time and makes it even more digestible.  These jars are a way to cut down prep even more; measure your ingredients all in one go and then have these jars in the pantry for months so you have a quick Instant Pot meal ready to assemble. These are the mason jars I buy on Amazon* as well as the mini plastic bags

for each jar:
3/4 cup white basmati rice
1/2 cup red lentils (masoor malka dal, link here)
1/2 cup mung dal (split yellow lentils, link here)

for each spice packet:
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon hing powder (also called asofoetida but can substitute granulated garlic)
1/2 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt (you can season to taste as well)

To make jars:

Fill mason jar with rice, red lentils, and mung dal.  Take a small plastic bag and fill with spice mixture.  Roll or fold the bag to fit in the top of the jar and then secure the lid.  

To cook:

1 Kitchari Jar
2 tablespoons ghee, grapeseed oil, or coconut oil (I prefer ghee)
2 cups chopped vegetables like zucchini, spinach, tomato, onion, cauliflower, etc (this is optional)
5 cups water
juice from 1 lemon
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (optional)

1. Open jar and remove spice packet and set aside.  Pour other contents of jar into a fine mesh strainer and rice thoroughly in cold water until the water runs clear.  

2. Turn on Instant Pot to Saute mode and heat ghee or oil.  Add spice packet and stir vigorously for 30 seconds.  You want to bloom the spices but you don't want them to burn.  Immediately add the chopped vegetables, if using, and then add the water and rinsed rice, lentils, and mung beans.  

3. Hit cancel to turn off Saute mode and secure lid (sealing).  Hit Manual to turn on High Pressure mode and set the timer for 10 minutes.  When timer goes off, let it natural pressure release for 15 minutes, then quick release until the pressure comes down.  Give the pot a little shake (to pop any trapped bubbles) then open lid.  

4. Season with lemon juice and additional salt if necessary.  Garnish with cilantro.  

Stovetop Method:

1. Heat ghee in a large pot. Add spice packet and stir vigorously for 30 seconds.  Immediately add the chopped vegetables if using and then add the water and rinsed rice, lentils, and mung beans.  Add 2 extra cups of water (for evaporation).

2. Simmer on low for 30-40 minutes or until lentils and rice fully cooked and kind of mushy.  If you have more delicate veggies like spinach, you can add them about half way through cooking.

3. Season with lemon juice and additional salt if necessary.  Garnish with cilantro.

FYI here's a pic of the final product:

kitchari instant pot recipe

*affiliate link

Cocoa and Coconut Energy Bites

cocoa and coconut energy bites recipe

Cocoa and Coconut Energy Bites
makes about 20

I'm constantly making different kinds of nut/seed/dried fruit energy bites based on what I have in my pantry at that time.  This coconut, pecan, and chocolate version is one that I have been making lately.  Chocolate is my go-to dessert, so this is a more nutritious option for when I'm craving a sweet bite.  As with all treats like this, you can substitute what you have on hand.  Play with the ratios if you like energy bites sweeter, less sweet, more chocolatey, etc.

1 cup pecans
2 cups medjool dates, pitted
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (plus about 1/2 cup more for rolling)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 cup cocoa powder
pinch of sea salt

1. In a food processor, pulse pecans until you get a coarse meal.  Then add dates, coconut, vanilla, coconut oil, cocoa powder and sea salt and blend until you get an evenly incorporated sticky dough.  

2. Spread coconut for rolling on a plate.  Roll tablespoons-sized balls of dough in your hand and roll in the coconut to coat.  Repeat will the rest of the dough and put in refrigerated for 2-3 hours to chill.  Store these in the fridge and eat cold (they taste best this way!)

Instant Ramen Jars with Miso and Veggies

instant ramen jar vegan recipe

I've seen this Instant Ramen Jar idea floating around the internet, so I decided to create my own version based on my favorite way to make ramen at home: with ginger, miso, mushrooms, and spinach.  In my googling, I found this comprehensive tutorial on other fancy pants variations from Serious Eats.  My version is very similar to Kenji's vegetarian version, although it's a bit more simplified.  (He also adds additional flavorings like tahini and pickled ginger which would probably be phenomenal.)  Any wide mouth 12-16-ounce glass tupperware or mason jar would work, but I like these wide mouth gasket jars.* 

I've heard my students sing the praises of Better than Bouillon vegetable broth base before, so I gave it a try for this recipe.  Not the cleanest label ever, but much better than other bouillons out there and, of course, better than the powdery packets that typically come with ramen.  If you want to skip it, I'd just amp up the miso paste and ginger.  Feel free to double the noodle quantity and/or the tofu to make this more substantial if you typically like a bigger lunch.

Instant Ramen Jar with Miso and Veggies recipe
Makes 4 jars

4 blocks rice ramen noodles (10 ounces; I buy Lotus Foods)
4 teaspoons low sodium Better than Boullion vegetable base
4 teaspoons white miso paste
2 teaspoons Sriracha (or to taste)
2 teaspoons grated ginger
7 ounces (1/2 of a block) firm or extra firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 large handfuls baby spinach, roughly chopped
1 3.5 ounce container of shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
4 scallions, thinly sliced

1. Cook your ramen noodles according to the package directions until very al dente, about 2 minutes in just boiled water.  You want them to be fully cooked but not already breaking apart since we will be adding more hot water when we serve them.  Drain and rinse in cold water and shake off any extra water.

2. Assemble your jars in any roughly 16-ounce container.  Put 1 teaspoon bouillon base, 1 teaspoon miso paste, 1/2 teaspoon Sriracha, and 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger on the bottom of each jar.  Then split the cooked noodles, cubed tofu, baby spinach, sliced mushrooms and scallions equally among the 4 jars.  Seal and store in the fridge for 3-4 days.

To serve: Add boiling water (from a kettle or your office water cooler hot water tap--the hotter the better) to cover all the ingredients.  At this point, I swirl my spoon at the bottom of the jar to break up the flavoring pastes and incorporate them.  Then reseal the jar and let it sit for 2 minutes.  Uncover and eat straight out of the jar or pour into a bowl if you prefer.

*affiliate link

Carrot Cake Oatmeal

carrot cake oatmeal recipe

Carrot Cake Oatmeal recipe
serves 4

This oatmeal recipe incorporates the flavors of carrot cake--sweet carrots, chewy raisins, warming spices and crunchy walnuts.  By simmering the carrots before adding the oats, I make sure that I don't get a raw or too vegetal taste from them in the final dish.  I like the carrots grated (like on a box grater) instead of the pre-shredded bags that you can buy because they are thinner and blend into the oatmeal better.  I've found that oatmeal is very personal, so feel free to add more or less liquid depending on your preference. Make one morning and have leftovers to reheat for the rest of the week.

3 cups water
4 medium carrots, grated (you should get 2 cups)
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of sea salt
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup raisins
2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1. Bring 3 cups water and carrots up to a simmer and let cook 10 minutes.  

2. Add cinnamon, ginger, sea salt, rolled oats, raisins, and almond milk.  Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the liquid is absorbed. Serve topped with chopped walnuts and more raisins or almond milk if you like.

Shakshuka with Feta

shakshuka with feta recipe

Shakshuka with Feta recipe
serves 4

Shakshuka is a Middle Eastern breakfast dish and I have yet to meet someone who doesn't like it.  I make this for me and my husband for weekend brunches, but you can also make a double batch and use a 9X13 baking pan and feed a crowd.  Shakshuka is really defined by the eggs on top so you can't really skip them, but you can easily leave out the feta if you are dairy-free or use chopped kalamata olives instead if you like that salty, briny bite.  You can easily have this for dinner too--just include a piece of whole grain pita or sourdough to sop up that spicy sauce.

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon red chile flake
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 cup crumbled goat or sheep's milk feta
4 eggs
Parsley or cilantro to garnish
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat olive oil in a large high-side skillet.  Add onion, bell pepper, garlic and a generous sprinkle of salt.  Cook for 5-7 minutes until veggies have softened.

2. Add paprika, cumin, turmeric, red chile flake, and crushed tomatoes. Simmer for 10 minutes to let flavors blend. Preheat Broiler on high.

3. Stir feta into tomato sauce and pour into an 8x8 metal or cast iron baking dish.  Make 4 divots into the sauce with the back of a spoon and crack an egg into each. Broil for 12 minutes or until eggs are at desired level of doneness.  Garnish with parsley, cilantro, or extra feta.

Pan-fried Sweet Potato Cakes

pan fried sweet potato cakes with sriracha cashew sauce recipe

Pan-fried Sweet Potato Cakes with Sriracha Cashew Dipping Sauce recipe
serves 2 as an entree or 6 as an appetizer

After shredding up your sweet potatoes in the food processor, these cakes are a breeze to put together.  Although these look a little like latkes, the inspiration for these cakes was actually pakoras, deep-fried fritters made out of shredded vegetables and held together with chickpea flour (also called besan or garbanzo bean flour).  Chickpea flour is simply ground up chickpeas that can be used in savory recipes often in the place of white flour; just be sure to fully cook it, as raw bean flour tastes gross.  Raw cashews make a creamy dipping sauce while also adding extra protein and good fat so this can really be a balanced weeknight meal.  And sriracha is added because it make everything taste better.

for sweet potato cakes:
2 medium sweet potatoes
1/2 cup of cilantro, finely chopped
1 bunch of scallions, white and dark green parts finely chopped
1 cup chickpea flour (also called garbanzo bean flour)
generous sprinkle of salt and pepper
avocado oil to pan-fry

for dipping sauce:
1 cup of raw cashews, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes and drained
1/4 cup Sriracha hot sauce
1/2 cup cold water

1. Peel sweet potatoes shred using the food processor or a box grater.

2. Combine shredded sweet potatoes, cilantro, scallions, chickpea flour, and salt in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.  The mixture should hold together when you squeeze it in your hand.

3. Heat a little avocado oil in a large non-stick or cast iron skillet.  Make a test cake: take 2 tablespoons of the mixture and press together compactly.  Flatten into a freeform patty about 1/4” thick. Pan-fry the cake for 2 minutes on each side until golden brown and fully cooked.  Remove from pan and taste for salt. Add more salt to the rest of the mixture if necessary.

4. Make the rest of the cakes and pan-fry them in batches.  Remove to a platter.

5. Make the dipping sauce: Drain cashews from their soaking water and add to the blender with Sriracha and cold water.  Blend until smooth, adding more water if necessary. Serve sweet potato cakes on a platter alongside a small bowl of the cream.