Archives for posts with tag: healthy

Seattle has been experiencing some particularly gorgeous spring weather lately.  So nice, in fact, that I scrapped my plans for an oven-based dish in favor of something cool and refreshing. Like a cold soup! Gazpacho has been on my to-do list for awhile and the sunny, breezy weather on Friday finally presented me with the perfect opportunity.

The recipe: I like all things tomato and spicy, so this recipe fit the bill.

gazpacho

Quick recap: If you are good at chopping veggies and have a good food processor, then gazpacho is probably the easiest meal ever. I used some fresh tomatoes in addition to the canned ones and added some parsley. I served it with some chicken picata and leftover dinner rolls.

gazpacho 2

The verdict: It tasted like… gazpacho! So if you like gazpacho, make it – it’s easy and healthy.

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You can probably tell by the title of this post that my body was craving something healthy — now that I’ve entered a new decade, I can’t handle all that birthday pizza, beer, and  the heavy chicken tikka masala like I used to. I looked around the kitchen and found a bit of barley and bulgur wheat. Both are nutrient-rich and good for soups and salad. But could you put them together and make them into something that actually tasted good? Ummmmm sure, that’s challenge worthy.

The salad (before I extracted the onions)

The salad (before I extracted the onions)

The recipe: I usually use barley in soups and bulgur wheat to make tabbouleh salad. I wanted to try something a bit different. This Orange-Dijon Bulgur Wheat Salad recipe sounded delicious and different.

Quick recap: I had to cook the barley twice as long as the bulgur wheat. I also doubled the dressing (and used honey mustard instead of dijon + sugar). I also added some raisins, cooked scallions, and roasted almonds (because nuts make everything better). I didn’t have edamame so I used peas.

The verdict: Holy red onion! Those things are potent – so much so that I decided to fish them out of my otherwise deliciously refreshing salad. They usually don’t bother me this much, so maybe I bought a bad onion? I’ll be using sauteed or sweet onions next time!

The neglected onions :(

The neglected onions 😦

I lived in Peru last year, where quinoa was a protein staple (along with every other animal meat possible). Unlike the potato, I can still eat quinoa. But I am definitely not as psyched about it anymore. So, I challenged myself to make something with quinoa that wasn’t a salad — and included some kind of vegetable that I am afraid of — like butternut squash! Okay, I think I’ve cooked with butternut squash before (maybe once about 10 years ago) and I really love it’s rich, slightly sweet, hearty flavors. But it is just so huge! And it’s shell is so tough! It is just so easy to stick with yellow squash or even acorn squash…

butternut squash

The recipe: Martha Stewart suggested that I make a quinoa pie. If Martha likes it, then it can’t be horrible, right? (PS – Did you catch Martha’s latest talk on NPR? She is sassy — and she dated Hannibal Lecter.)

Quick recap: I needed a recap on how to peel a butternut squash. I didn’t realize that you could do it with a regular vegetable peeler. Huh – that was easy. I didn’t have sage leaves, so I added extra dried sage. Cooking the squash and the quinoa was pretty standard.

quinoa pie 3

The verdict: It did not look as classy as Martha’s pie (mine kind of looked like a giant mound), but it was much better than I ever expected (and really good for you). We went back for seconds… and then thirds. Maybe I’ll even make a crust next time. And yes, there will be a next time. And I will definitely be cooking with more butternut squash.

Wow, this looks funny.

Wow, this looks funny.

It kind of looks like a pie slice when it was plated.

It kind of looks like a pie slice when plated.

Seattle is an active place to live. With all the hiking, biking, running, mountain climbing, kayaking, and rain-dodging, we are often on the go and in need of an easy, healthy snack. I have been shocked at how quickly we go through granola bars. And I have been equally shocked at how expensive (and full of sugar!) granola bars are. So granola bars seemed like a fitting challenge for this month. (Also, I didn’t feel like making a big meal after my Day 20 challenge).

granola bar

The recipe: I used this simple recipe as my base. It seemed quick and didn’t call for butter or oil. I added flax seeds, sweetened coconut flakes, and dried cranberries, reducing the amount of agave the recipe called for (because I barely had any left!).

Quick recap: Uh oh – I didn’t have enough batter to fill up my baking tray. Also, my batter seemed much dryer than the photos in the recipe (I had to press it into the cookie sheet). Even though I only left them in the oven for 15 minutes, I still managed to slightly burn the bottom of the bars (even though this is not the first time this has happened this week, I will blame this on my awful oven).

granola bar 3

The verdict: Luckily, despite all the mini disasters, they still seemed to come out okay. I’m not sure if they taste more like hardened cookies or like hardened oatmeal… but they are strangely addicting… even slightly burned!

Yesterday was a busy day followed by dinner at a friend’s house. I needed another quick recipe for my challenge. Luckily, the pears were starting to go bad! (I never thought I would rejoice in food going bad). You can never have too much fresh salsa lying around. Could pears be used in a salsa?

The recipe: Epicurious suggested that pears would be delicious in a salsa!

photo (98)

Quick recap: I borrowed some tips from the reviewers and used red onion instead of white onion. I also added a wee bit of agave syrup instead of a full teaspoon of sugar and de-seeded the jalepeno after all.

photo (99)

The verdict: Delicious! Why isn’t pear salsa more popular?

Yesterday was one of those, “I don’t have time to think, let alone cook!” kind of days. But a challenge is a challenge, so I decided to whip out one of my “emergency” recipes – something that I have wanted to make that doesn’t take too much time or effort. Like, “three ingredient cookies.” My friend swears by this family recipe, and offered the disclaimer that these cookies are “different” and not for those who have a major sweet tooth.

The recipe: An undisclosed mix of oats, whole wheat flour, and apple juice (heavy on the oats). Mix them together until you have a mushy consistency. Add whatever additional ingredients you have on hand. I added cinnamon, chocolate chips, coconut flakes, and dried cranberries. Shape into flat cookie shapes. Bake 10-12 minutes on a greased cookie sheet at 350 degrees.

On their way into the oven...

On their way into the oven…

Quick recap: I only had “quick” Quaker Oats on hand (my friend had warned me against using these), but alas, it didn’t seem to affect my cookies all that much!

The verdict: Surprisingly sweet (thanks to my extra ingredients, perhaps?) and tasty. Even my usual “healthy dessert skeptic” ate three in one sitting. These are a great, easy, healthy snack to make!

They even resemble 'more-than-3-ingredient' cookies

They even resemble ‘more-than-3-ingredient’ cookies