Spaghetti with greens and gorgonzola is the easiest vegetarian pasta dish! Just saute your favorite green leafy vegetables with garlic and red pepper flakes, toss with whole grain spaghetti and serve with gorgonzola and toasted hazelnuts! It's budget friendly and easy to swap whatever greens look good at the market.Read More
A salad you'll actually want to eat! Make this harvest salad with crispy cornmeal chicken, packed with tons of yummy seasonal produce, like watermelon radish and apples with pecans and an easy lemon-mustard dressing.Read More
Learn all about California almonds from my trip to Lodi, California where I got to see them being grown and processed! Plus, snag the recipe for this California inspired balsamic roasted peach and fig salad with almonds, blue cheese and bacon!Read More
So here's your useless bit of trivia knowledge for the day: did you know wild rice isn't rice? In fact, it isn't even a grain, it's a seed. Wild rice is actually the seed of an aquatic, reed-like grass, putting it in the category of pseudograins like quinoa and buckwheat. Who knew?
When I write about a specific food, I mostly share things I already knew. But as I sat down to write this post on wild rice, I realized I know nothing other than it's nutritious and I love it. So, I did some googling and I was amazed by what I learned.
Wild rice is native to North America, where it grows in the wetlands of Canada, Minnesota and throughout the Great Lakes Region. There is archeological evidence of it's consumption that dates back over 12,000 years. As the story goes, the ancestors to the Ojibwa and Chippewa tribes were told by their Great Spirit to go west, to the place where food grows on water, or perish. They traveled until they found wetlands full of wild rice, and decided to make it their home. They called it manoomin, which means "good berry."
These days, 80% of the wild rice sold is a cultivated hybrid, grown in paddies and machine harvested. Yup, that's right. Most wild rice isn't even wild. Blew my mind too. Authentic wild rice is hand-harvested using a canoe then dried over a wood fire, imparting a rich smoky flavor. Compared to cultivated wild rice, it supposed to have a nuttier flavor, lighter and fluffier texture, plus it cooks in about half the time.
This salad was made with a cultivated wild rice, which until today, I thought was the only wild rice. Now I'm dying to try it. Eden Foods, a company I love, sells authentic wild rice that's widely available.
Nutritionally, wild rice is rich in fiber and contains about twice the amount of protein as brown rice, making it a fantastic choice for blood sugar control. It's a rich source of vitamins A, C, and E and contains a wide array of minerals, including folate, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc. One study found wild rice has 30 times the antioxidants found in white rice.
- 1 1/4 cups uncooked wild rice
- 1 cup shredded leftover cooked chicken or turkey, preferably organic
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 2 small carrots, shredded
- 1/3 cup dried unsweetened tart cherries
- 1/3 cup chopped almonds, toasted
- 2 large green onions, chopped
- 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
- 4 cups arugula or baby kale
- 3 tablespoons cranberry relish (or any jam/chutney you have)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegary
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- First, cook the wild rice. I did mine in the pressure cooker with 2 1/3 cup water and 1/2 teaspoon of salt for 30 minutes. If you don't have one, bring 3 1/2 cups water to a boil, stir in rice, reduce heat and simmer 50 minutes until tender. Set aside to cool.
- When the rice is at room temperature, mix in the chicken, celery, carrots, tart cherries, almonds and green onions. Whisk together all the dressing ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Toss with the wild rice mixture. Divide the arugula among four plates. Top with wild rice salad, garnish with blue cheese and serve.
The best part of a salad? The toppings obviously! And this salad has all of them - sweet juicy cherry tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, smoky tempeh bacon, creamy gorgonzola cheese and a flavorful olive vinaigrette.
Confession time. Now, I know that being a dietitian and all, my choice of salad should consist of lightly dressed greens and plentiful amounts of raw vegetables, but if I'm being honest, I like my salad fully loaded. To me, a salad bar is a personal challenge to see how many things I can fit on one plate.
Salads are generally considered the healthy choice at restaurants. Unfortunately, after topping those greens with piles of bacon, cheese, croutons and 300 calories of dressing, you might as well have ordered a burger and fries.
If the toppings are your favorite part of a salad, and I presume most people fall in that category, then you'll love this recipe! Piled high with smoky tempeh bacon, blue cheese, hard boiled eggs and juicy cherry tomatoes then drizzled with a basil and kalamata olive vinaigrette, this salad packs plenty of big flavors.
Tempeh is one of my favorite meat substitutes. I discussed tempeh and other soy foods awhile back, so lets revisit it. Tempeh is made from fermented soy beans that are then pressed into a cake. It may not sound appealing, but it has a slightly meaty flavor and texture that makes it a much more appealing than tofu for many people. Another bonus point over tofu - tempeh is fermented, making it a source of beneficial probiotics when consumed uncooked. Also, by fermenting the soybeans, it breaks down compounds that can interfere with nutrient absorption and goitrogens, which can affect thyroid function in people with thyroid disease.
Tempeh bacon is made by marinating slices of tempeh in soy sauce (another fermented soy food!), apple cider vinegar and smoky spices. I definitely recommend making extra to throw into other dishes throughout the week. Toss whole grain pasta with tempeh bacon and roasted broccoli rabe for a quick vegan meal or mix it into South Carolina stone ground grits and serve with stewed tomatoes for one of my favorite low country breakfasts.
You could switch up this salad in so many ways. For a vegan version, leave off the egg and blue cheese and substitute cannellini beans and tofu chevre. I adore this kalamata olive vinaigrette, but if you want something creamier, try this vegan ranch dressing or my buttermilk-lime dressing. To save time, try using Lightlife's Organic Smoky Tempeh Strips, which I've heard great things about!
Tempeh BLT Salad with Kalamata Vinaigrette
Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, CDE
- [b]Tempeh Bacon:[/b]
- 8 ounces tempeh, halved lengthwise then each half sliced into 12 thin slices (for a total of 24 slices)
- 1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon molasses
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup finely chopped kalamata olives
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons chopped basil
- 2 tablespoons chopped oregano
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- Arugula, microgreens or romaine for four salads
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 4 hard boiled eggs, chopped
- 2 ounces gorgonzola cheese
- Arugula, microgreens or romaine lettuce for four salads
- First, make the tempeh bacon. In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, molasses and spices. Lay the slices of tempeh flat on the baking dish and pour the marinade over the top. Refrigerate to marinade at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Brush the bottom of a baking sheet with half the olive oil. Lay the tempeh slices flat on the baking sheet and brush with remaining olive oil. Bake 12-14 minutes until beginning to brown, then flip and bake an additional 8 minutes until crisp. Remove from oven and set aside to cool
- To make dressing, whisk together all dressing ingredients and season with salt and pepper.
- Divide salad greens among four plates. Top with cherry tomatoes, chopped hard boiled egg, cheese and crumbled bacon slices. Drizzle with dressing and serve.
A crispy flatbread with all the flavors of fall - pears, gorgonzola cheese, and creamy pumpkin. Serve as an appetizer or paired with a side salad for dinner. Garnish with a little truffle oil to fancy it up!
Technically, it's spring, but considering I'm currently wearing leggings under fleece pajama pants, wrapped in a blanket burrito with a space heater pointed at my feet, I think a pumpkin recipe is totally justifiable.
I quickly threw this dish together last night after my 6-7 pm yoga class and we were enjoying freshly baked flatbread and the most recent episode of Walking Dead before 8. Made-from-scratch flatbread may not seem like a weeknight meal type of endeavor, but it's totally do-able, thanks to Deb from Smitten Kitchen, who created the most delicious, fuss-free dough recipe, perfect for weeknight pizzas and flatbreads.
I shared my passion for knead-free doughs last summer with my post on grilled pizza. Traditional pizza dough recipes were not designed with a normal person's schedule in mind. Clearly, there is no concept of the 9-5 in Italy. For years, I've exclusively used Jim Leahy's no knead dough recipe, but even that had an odd 18 hour rise, which means making it at midnight or letting it go a few extra hours. Enter Deb. She figured out how to adapt his recipe to, well, a normal person's schedule, adjusting the amount of yeast for an overnight, all-day or quick rise. My hero.
I like to use spelt flour to make whole grain doughs. Spelt is an ancient type of wheat. It produces a softer, less dense dough compared to regular whole wheat flour. I use it almost exclusively over regular whole wheat flour, unless I'm looking for a wheaty flavor, which I sometimes like in cookies or pancakes. I purchase it in bulk from the local health food store, but if you can't find it, you could order it online. Avoid spelt if you have celiac disease, as spelt does contain gluten. However, many people with gluten sensitivity and wheat allergies can tolerate it, because the gluten in spelt is slightly different than gluten in regular wheat. Also, I find many people on a low FODMAPS diet for IBS can tolerate spelt without digestive issues.
Pumpkin, Pear and Gorgonzola Flatbread
Makes 1 large thick crust flatbread or 2 thin crust flatbreads, enough to serve 4-6 people
I made a large thickish crust flatbread, simply because I was lazy and didn't feel like fighting with the dough, which can be a little difficult to roll thin. It turned out thinner than your typical thick-crust, takeout pizza (a good thing), but not quite cracker thin, which is how I prefer it. If you're feeling more patient, I definitely encourage you to stretch this into two. This should be about enough toppings for 2, although you may need a little more gorgonzola and rosemary.
- 3 cups spelt flour, plus additional for dusting
- 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea or kosher salt
- 1 1/4 cup water
- Small handful of cornmeal
- 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing/drizzling
- 1 14-ounce can pumpkin
- 2 teaspoons minced, fresh rosemary, divided
- 1 pear, halved lengthwise, cored and sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 2/3 cup crumbled gorgonzola
- Handful of microgreens or arugula
- Truffle oil, for garnish (optional)
- In the morning, mix the flour, yeast, and salt together in a large bowl. Slowly add the water while stirring until it comes together into a dough. Add another tablespoon or two of water if it feels too dry. Cover with a kitchen towel and place in a warm spot to rise about 12 hours, until doubled in size. If you don't have a warm spot in your house because your thermostat is set to 65 degrees after two months of $400 (!!!!) electric bills, turn the oven to 200 degrees, turn it off when it hits 200 and place the dough inside. After 12 hours, the dough should be loose, stretchy and sticky.
- About 30 minutes before baking the pizza, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add the onions and cook, slowly cooking and stirring every so often. After 20 minutes, the onions should be caramelized - jammy, caramel colored and slightly sweet. Season lightly with salt and set aside in a small bowl. You could also caramelize the onions the night before.
- Preheat oven to 550 degrees (or the highest it will go).
- Take your largest rimmed baking sheet, spray or brush lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle evently with cornmeal then spelt flour. Scrape the dough out of the bowl and onto the baking sheet. Press evenly across the baking sheet, starting with the outside of the dough and working in (this will keep it from getting too thin in the middle), then moving to the outside.
- Brush dough lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of rosemary. Take spoonfuls of the pumpkin and drop evenly across the dough. Spread evenly with a spatula, leaving room on the outside for a crust. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper across the top. Scatter caramelized onions across the pizza, then pear, then gorgonzola. Finish with the other teaspoon of rosemary and a little salt and black pepper.
- Place in the oven and bake 15 minutes until the crust is golden and crisp. If making 2 pizzas, it should take only 10 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool slightly and garnish with microgreens and truffle oil.
My trick for creating a creamy quiche without using cream? Create a quick bechamel-style sauce. Try it in this whole grain quiche filled with kale, mushrooms and Point Reyes blue cheese.
“I received a gift card to offset the expense of my ingredients. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the California Milk Advisory Board and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.”If I could trade my everyday life with one other person (other than whoever Joseph Gordon-Levitt is currently dating), it would be my sister-in-law, Caroline. Living in Sonoma, she has the most beautiful wine country for her backyard. If she doesn't feel like cooking, she can pick from dozens of the best farm-to-table restaurants. Her weekends are spent surfing, hiking and sampling incredible wines from the hundreds of nearby vineyards. If that's not enough to make you jealous, her town is also the mecca of artisan cheese. They even have a cheese trail. A cheese trail! It's my happy place.
For this contest, we were instructed to lighten up favorite recipes using California dairy. But I'm kind of bad at following rules. Plus I generally buy whole or 2% (organic) dairy. So instead, I used California dairy to give a rich flavor and luxurious texture to an already healthy dish.
This recipe uses dairy in two different ways. First, I used my absolute favorite blue cheese, Point Reyes to add a hit of intense flavor. Point Reyes is made from grass fed cows raised on coastal pastures in California, which is said to impart a unique flavor to the cheese. It is luxuriously creamy, without the dry, crumbly texture of low quality blue cheese, and has the perfect amount of tang. Point Reyes blue cheese is aged five months, and hey, did you know aged cheese is actually good for you? Not just saying this to rationalize my love for cheese - it is actually the richest food source of vitamin K2, may have anti-inflammatory properties in the mold of blue cheese, and if it's made from grass fed dairy, it contains omega 3 fats.
I also used milk to make a quick bechamel-style sauce I mixed with the eggs. It gives the quiche a creamy, custard-like texture without using heavy cream. Really, you must try this in your next quiche!
With cheese, I always recommend buying quality, which allows you to get a lot of flavor with a small amount. The artisan cheeses produced in Sonoma are some of the best, so definitely look for them at the store. Here are some of my favorites (yes, I've tried them all!) and ideas for incorporating them into healthy dishes:
Laura Chenel's Chevre - The absolute creamiest goat cheese. You can find it at Whole Foods and Earth Fare. Crumble the green and kalamata olive chevre over my citrus, arugula and fennel salad or use the truffle flavored chevre in baked eggs, sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts. Cowgirl Creamery Mount Tam - A triple creme cheese similar to brie, but with a much more complex flavor. For an elegant side dish or salad topper, filled a roasted portabello mushroom cap with greens sautéed with garlic and olive oil. Top with a slice of creamy Mount Tam and quickly broil. Vella Jack Cheese - Vella Jack cheese is perfect for melting. Use the pesto flavor to make Italian-style quesadillas with roasted tomatoes and spinach or the jalapeno flavor to garnish my quinoa chili.Bohemian Creamery Capriago - Use this aged asiago-style cheese as an alternative to parmesan to garnish pasta dishes, or stuff a chunk into a pitted date and drizzle with reduced balsamic for a simple, elegant appetizer. Cowgirl Creamery Creme Fraiche - Creme fraiche is made from cultured cream, resulting in a decadent, yogurt-like consistency. Whisk in honey and cinnamon and serve drizzled over fresh fruit.
Kale, Mushroom and Blue Cheese Quiche
Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, CDE
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 ounces mushrooms, brushed clean and quartered
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bunch kale, stemmed and cut into ribbons
- 2 tablespoons spelt or whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 4 eggs
- 1 frozen whole grain pie crust (I use Wholly Wholesome spelt crust)
- 1/4 cup crumbled California blue cheese
- Handful cherry tomatoes, halved
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and garlic, saute until liquid starts to release, about 3 minutes. When the liquid starts to release, add the kale and cook until wilted, about 5-7 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a small pot on medium heat. Add flour and whisk together. Cook about 30-60 seconds until lightly browned. Whisk in milk and cook about 5 minutes until thickened. Stir in oregano and season with salt and pepper. Turn off heat and set aside to cool.
- Crack eggs into a bowl and whisk in cooled sauce. Spread vegetables evenly in the crust, pour the egg mixture over the top. Sprinkle blue cheese and halved cherry tomatoes, cut side up over the top. Bake for 25 minutes until set.
Eggs are baked over a bed of diced roasted sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts and gorgonzola cheese for a dish that's perfect for breakfast, brunch or dinner.
Remember when the only decision you made when buying eggs was small, large or jumbo? Even then, it wasn't really a choice, because who buys anything other than large? Now you're presented with such choices as natural, organic, vegetarian fed, free range and what seems like a dozen different stamps (supposedly) guaranteeing humane treatment. When the price ranges from $2-7, it's important to know what's worth the extra dollars.
Local, organic eggs are your best choice. I usually get mine from Wil-Moore farms at our local farmers market. Eggs purchased locally are the most sustainable option - if pastured and organic, they are your most nutritious option too. Not only is there a difference in nutrition, but there is a huge difference in taste. The yolk is deep orange has an incredibly rich flavor. The white, or albumin is thicker and won't spread as much. Aesthetically, this makes a more appealing poached egg...and it keeps me from cursing like a pirate when peeling boiled eggs.
Farm fresh eggs are definitely worth the price tag, but sometimes it's not convenient to get a hold of them. We're often out of town for the weekend farmers market, so until a market selling local produce opened near our house, I was frequently left in the grocery store, pondering my 3,478 choices.
To save you the hassle and confusion, I've created a simplified guide to most of the egg labels you'll see. Save this reference guide for your next grocery trip.
Organic: Organic not only refers to the feed, which is organic, free of animal by prodcuts and GMOs, but also ensures some degree of humane treatment. In industrial egg production, hens are commonly kept in tiny cages, smaller than the size of a piece of paper. Cages are not allowed in organic egg production and hens must have access to the outdoors, although it may be limited. Usually, large scale organic egg producers build a porch attached to the henhouse, which counts as outdoor access. Use of antibiotics is limited. They are not allowed to be used as a preventative measure, a practice linked to the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria, antibiotics are only used during an outbreak of infection or disease.
Free Range: Free range is a difficult term to interpret, mostly because it's not regulated. The FDA has provided the loose definition as "hens are allowed access to the outside." So while this term might bring to mind visions of hens roaming through open fields, pecking at bugs and generally living a pleasant little life on the farm, it might not be the case. Some farmers may allow their hens to live free in large fields, while others, generally larger producers, may only provide a concrete porch attached to a crowded hen house. Also, free range eggs may not necessarily be organic or antibiotic free. If humane treatment of animals is important to you (and it should be!), do your research!
Cage Free: This means hens were not raised in tiny cages, but it does not mean the bird has outdoor access. Generally, hens are kept in a henhouse, but they might not have much more room than if they were kept in a cage. Cage free does not mean organic. Hens may be given antibiotics, as the crowded environment increases the risk of disease. This term is not regulated.
Vegetarian Fed: This means hens are fed a diet free of any animal by products. Since the discovery of "mad cow" disease or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, there has been concern about the presence of animal by products in animal feed. The disease developed because cows are legally allowed to be fed rendered cow carcass, which besides basically being cannibalism, is incredibly unsafe. Eggs labeled vegetarian fed ensures the hens were not fed animal by products. If purchasing organic eggs, this is also ensured.
Omega 3 Enriched: Nutritionally, this is a good thing. Hens are fed flaxseed or fish oil to increase the omega 3 content of their eggs. This label does not ensure the hens are treated humanely, antibiotic free or fed organic, animal by product free food. Eggs from pastured eggs naturally contain higher amounts of omega 3 fats.
Animal Welfare Approved: This is the most highly regulated of animal welfare labels for eggs. It is reserved for family farms. Hens are allowed constant access to outdoors and shelter. Beak cutting is not allowed. Hens are fed a vegetarian diet and no antibiotics are administered.
Certified Humane: Certified human is a regulated term which basically means hens have enough room to engage in natural activities, like perching and nesting. Cages are not allowed, but hens may be kept indoors or outdoors. No antibiotics are administered.
American Humane Certified: Hens are allowed access to adequate food and water and room to perform natural activities. Cages, hormones, and non-therapeutic antibiotics are not allowed, but beak cutting is. Hens may or may not have access to the outdoors. This certification is very similar to certified humane, but is considered slightly less stringent.
Antibiotic Free/Hormone Free: Since the use of hormones is banned in poultry production, hormone free is somewhat misleading. The prevalence of antibiotics in the egg industry is a bit of an unknown with the egg industry claiming minimal use. Either way, the label antibiotic free isn't regulated, so it's impossible to vouch for accuracy. If you purchase organic eggs, that will ensure it is antibiotic free.
Natural: This means nothing. Zilch. And not just for eggs.
Baked Eggs with Sweet Potatoes, Brussels and Roquefort
I served this with a simple arugula salad for a light dinner. This would also make for a fantastic brunch, served with fruit salad and whole grain toast. You could also swap the blue cheese for goat. Adapted from Naturally Ella.
- 2 large sweet potatoes, diced
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 cups Brussels, halved
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 6 eggs
- 3 ounces roquefort cheese, crumbled
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Place the sweet potato, onion, and Brussels sprouts in a large baking dish. Toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minute until tender.
- Remove the baking dish from the oven. Carefully crack 6 eggs over the top so you don't crack the yolk like I did. Sprinkle the cheese over the top. Return to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes until the whites are set and the yolk is still runny. Let sit for a few minutes then serve, being careful not to break the yolks.