Baked Green Falafel with Three Dipping Sauces

Baked Green Falafel with Three Dipping Sauces

Make this easy baked green falafel, packed with tons of herbs and pistachios! I serve them with three different dipping sauces for you indecisive folks - a spicy harissa tomato sauce, a creamy tahini yogurt, and a green herb chutney, along with pita bread. Vegan and gluten free too. 

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Vegan Vietnamese Brown Rice Noodle Salad with Sesame Tempeh

Vegan Vietnamese brown rice noodle salad is packed with bright, fresh flavors from crunchy raw vegetables, fresh herbs, spicy sesame tempeh and a tangy sesame vinaigrette.

Happy Monday! Sending this post out from the airport on my way to Lodi, California, where I'm spending the next three days traveling with California Almonds. Very excited for this amazing experience, and to learn about my favorite nut along with some incredible RD bloggers. Follow me on instagram for updates!

This trip is the start to a season packed to the brim with travel. Next week I'm headed to Chicago, where I'll be spending a few days exploring the city with my mom before my cousins wedding. The week after that, we're headed up to Philadelphia a dear friends wedding. Then I'll have a few weeks at home before I head to Nashville for FNCE, the national conference for dietitians. From there (and I mean literally from there, like, the day after FNCE ends) I'm headed off for the two week trip of a lifetime with my hubs to....

VIETNAM!!

Hence this Vietnamese rice noodle salad, which I'm sure after eating authentic Vietnamese rice noodle salads I will look back on and cringe.

I won't lie, looking at my calendar, rapidly filling appointment slots and wondering when I will have time to keep up with this little blog of mine, it's a bit exhausting. But I mean, getting a free trip to California, having mother-daughter time in an awesome city, seeing lifelong friends and making new ones, going to freaking Vietnam...I really can't complain!

Right after my husband, travel is the love of my life. Nothing makes me feel more alive than exploring a new place and soaking up every last drop. Even if it's in our own state, it brings a joy to my life that I can't quite describe.

There's a saying attributed to the Dalai Lama to "once a year, go someplace you've never been before." I love this advice. Traveling, more than taking a vacation, expands your life in so many ways. It builds confidence, makes you a more compassionate person, opens your mind, makes you less materialistic, and (I think) sexier.

Travel can make you healthier. Looking back at my life, I truly believe traveling as a child was the single greatest factor in me becoming a dietitian and making my wellness a priority. Really. If you think travel is all about indulgent restaurants and skipping workouts, well, you're right, but there are other ways travel can make you a healthier person.

It's helps you see past the insanity of fad diets. When you travel around the world, you see a wide range of traditional diets. You also see how the people eating these different diets are generally pretty healthy, much healthier than we are here in the States. For example, in Peru, potatoes were a major part of every meal. At the farmers market, there was an entire potato section which consisted of two 30-foot long tables overflowing with dozens of different types of potatoes. I also saw native Peruvians absolutely whooping fit Americans on the Incan trail. Our guide said Peruvian guides hiked to Machu Picchu and back in one day. It takes other travelers three days, one way. It's kind of hard to give in to the low carb propoganda after seeing that.

Travel expands your taste buds. Picky eaters...not exactly the healthiest. Travel exposes you to new foods and flavors. When you're a more adventurous eater, eating healthy food is less about dieting and more about trying new and delicious foods.

Travel makes you appreciate what you have. In many countries, poverty is much more visible than we're used to. Seeing how people not only live, but in many ways thrive, with much less material possessions than we're used to, makes you truly appreciate what you have. When  you truly feel grateful for the food in front of you, it seems wasteful not to enjoy and savor it mindfully.

Travel motives me to be healthy later in life. Scott and I are planning our lives to ensure we're able to travel as much as possible, as late into life as possible. I am fully prepared to be that little old lady, cane in one hand, Scott's hand in the other, navigating the streets of some small European town.

You don't even have to travel to exotic places to get these benefits. Exploring new places in your own backyard can be just as beneficial, and fun! Some of my favorite trips have been less than a couple hours drive - camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains, hiking with friends in the upstate, and exploring historic sites in South Carolina. You can even learn a lot from exploring your own town with fresh eyes!

Do you love to travel? If so, how has it enriched your life and made you a healthier person? 

Vegan Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad with Sesame Tempeh

Serves 6

Adapted from Thug Kitchen

Ingredients

Ginger-Sesame Tempeh:

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons sriracha
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-2 teaspoons coconut oil

Salad:

  • 8 ounce package thin brown rice noodles
  • 1 head of butter lettuce, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled into ribbons using a vegetable peeler
  • 1 large cucumber, julienned
  • 1 cup mint leaves
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 1 cup sliced green onion
  • 1/2 cup cashews, toasted
  • Lime wedges, for serving

Toasted Sesame Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Instructions

  1. First, make the tempeh. Cut the tempeh into 16 slices width-wise. In a medium bowl, whisk together the rest of the tempeh ingredients. Pour over the tempeh in a shallot bowl, flip to coat evenly with marinade. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

  2. When ready to cook, warm 1-2 teaspoons in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add tempeh slices and cook 3-4 minutes, flip, then cook 3-4 minutes on the other side. Remove and set aside while you prepare the rest of the salad.
  3. To make the salad, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the rice noodles and cook according to package directions. When they are done, drain, rinse under cold water until cool, then set aside.
  4. While the noodles are cooking, whisk together the dressing ingredients.
  5. Divide the salad greens between four plates or large bowls. Top with a scoop of rice noodles in the center. Place the carrot, cucumber, herbs and green onion in piles around the noodles. Drizzle with dressing, top with cashews and serve.

More recipes inspired by my travels:

Chermoula Roasted Eggplant with Bulgur Salad
Chermoula Roasted Eggplant with Bulgur Salad
Crispy Potatoes with Spicy Red Pepper Sauce
Crispy Potatoes with Spicy Red Pepper Sauce
Spanish Chickpeas and Greens
Spanish Chickpeas and Greens

Cedar Plank Trout with Asian Guacamole

Move over salmon! Get your omega 3s from this wild cedar plank trout with Asian guacamole, plus, learn what makes wild trout is a Good Mood Food. 

Almost weekly, my husband pesters me to open my own restaurant. I don't know much about the restaurant business, but I do know enough to know that I have zero desire to do such a thing.

Then every so often, I come up with a dish so perfect that I think to myself "maybe he's on to something!" This is one of those dishes. Fatty trout soaks up delicious flavors from the cedar plank and smokiness from the grill. Guacamole spiked with Asian flavors from ginger, lime, mint and cilantro adds a burst of fresh flavor and creaminess. And I'm pretty proud of the lemon glazed roasted radishes with pea shoots I came up with on a whim. I'd happily spend $25 on this meal.

Speaking of happy, the omega 3 packed trout in this dish is, you guessed it, a good mood food! There's probably no nutrient more intensely studied for it's role in brain health than omega 3 fats. If I had to name a number one food for mood, without a doubt it would be omega 3 rich fatty fish, like wild trout.

Since WWII, the rate of depression has increased 20-fold. Hmm, isn't that about the time real foods took a back seat to margarine, Swanson frozen meals, and cheez whiz. Coincidence? I think not. When processed foods went mainstream, intake of omega 3 fat declined dramatically.

Omega 3s in fatty fish affects the brain in many ways. All cell membranes are made of fat, but the only polyunsaturated fats the cell membranes in the brain can use are DHA (a type of omega 3) and arachadonic acid. The DHA fats create a more fluid cell membrane, improving brain functioning. Omega 3 fats also reduce inflammation in the brain and increase brain volume.

Studies have shown countries with the highest intakes of fatty fish have the lowest levels of depression. We also know people with depression have low levels of omega 3 fats in their blood. There's been many studies showing omega 3 fats can reduce symptoms of depression. 

So you may be thinking why not just take a supplement? While omega 3s are great, there are many other brain boosting nutrients in fatty fish. One 3 ounce serving has almost 100% your daily needs of B12. A deficiency in B12 has been linked to depression, irritability and cognitive decline and it's estimated that 40% of people have suboptimal levels of B12 (considered a deficiency in other countries). Wild trout also packs a dose of vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, also thought to be the culprit behind seasonal affective disorder. Almost 75% of Americans are deficient in vitamin D.

While I love salmon, the go to choice for omega 3 fats, I actually prefer trout, which is semi-local (North Carolina) to us. The taste is pretty similar to salmon, so feel free to swap out wild Alaskan salmon if that's easier to find. If you want to keep things local, my gulf coast friends could easily use shrimp!

Cedar Plank Trout with Asian Guacamole

Serves 4

Feel free to use any fatty fish you like, or try this with shrimp. Leftover guac is great as a dip with brown rice crackers.

Ingredients

  • 2 cedar planks, soaked in water at least 2 hours
  • 1 lb wild trout filets, cut in four pieces
  • 1-2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Asian Guacamole: 

  • 1 avocado, pitted and peeled
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro (leaves and stems)
  • 1 jalapeno, stemmed and seeded
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions

  1. Set half the grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Drain the cedar planks and arrange the trout filets, skin side down, on top. Brush with sesame oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on the grill on the opposite side of the heat source, cover, and cook 20-25 minutes until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Remove and set aside.
  3. To make guacamole, place all guac ingredients in a food processor and blend until pureed and well combined. Taste and season with more salt or lime juice if needed.
  4. Serve trout with a heft dollop of guac.

Lemon Sesame Roasted Radishes

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 bunches radishes, leaves and stems removed, radishes halved or quartered if large
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • Pea shoots (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large, oven safe skillet on medium high heat. Add radishes and saute about 5-7 minutes until lightly golden. Move to the oven and roast 10-15 minutes until browned and tender.
  3. While radishes are roasting, whisk together garlic, lemon zest and juice, honey, red pepper flakes and sesame seeds in a small bowl.
  4. Remove from oven and place back on the stovetop on medium high heat. Add sauce and pea shoots if using, stir to combine. Cook 2-3 minutes until glaze is thickened.

Inspired to eat more fatty fish? Check out these recipes:

Sushi Un-Roll With Smoked Salmon and Avocado
Sushi Un-Roll With Smoked Salmon and Avocado
Mayoless Tuna Salad, Three Ways
Mayoless Tuna Salad, Three Ways
Taandori Salmon with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce
Taandori Salmon with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

Roasted Asparagus and Radishes with Mint-Pea Pesto

Roasted asparagus and radishes with mint-pea pesto is a beautiful and tasty way to highlight Spring produce. 

It’s finally Spring! Except if you’re here in Columbia...then it’s actually kinda, sorta summer.

I’m not sure what happened, but the temperature basically went from the 30s and 40s to the 90s in about two weeks, skipping the season of Spring entirely. Obviously we still got the insane amounts of pollen typical to this area. And massive thunderstorms that seem to be timed to start exactly 2 minutes before I have to leave the house. Oh well. What’s important is that Spring produce and the dogwood flowers are here and that's enough to make me happy.

This recipe is packed with everything I love about Spring. I’ve been obsessing over roasted radishes ever since I saw this article on The Kitchn. When The Kitchen tells you there’s a roasted vegetable that’s missing from your life – you listen. I love raw radishes in salsa, garnishing a bowl of posole or on rye crispbreads with a little butter and sea salt, but I honestly never thought about cooking them. Roasting radishes mellows their peppery bite and turns it into something sweet, tender and almost juicy. 

This recipe makes more pea pesto than you'll need, and you'll still wish you doubled the recipe! Use leftover pesto as a sandwich spread (it would be amazing on my smoked salmon breakfast sandwich), tossed with whole grain spaghetti, or as a dip for whole grain crackers. You can even freeze it, but you might want to put a light layer of olive oil over the top to keep the bright green color.

I whipped up this recipe during a photoshoot for lululemon's Columbia showroom with Celia from Celia G Photographie. It was so much fun! Celia is incredibly talented, fun to work with, and how cute is the outfit she styled? The Refine Crop I'm wearing is probably the most comfortable thing I've ever put on my body...and for the record I'm currently in 10-year old, hot pink Juicy Couture velour sweats. Don't judge, it's laundry day. And who knows, maybe they'll come back in style. Maybe??

Anyway, wanted to share a couple pictures from the shoot with you all as well as a sneak peak into my kitchen. Please know my kitchen is never this clean and is usually much more chaotic with the two big fluffy dogs at my feet!

Roasted Asparagus and Radishes with Mint-Pea Pesto

Serves:4

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch asparagus, woody ends snapped off
  • 8 ounces radishes, halved
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Pesto:

  • 1 cup fresh peas
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves, packed
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons walnut oil or extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the asparagus and radish with olive oil in a large bowl and spread evenly on a large baking sheet. Roast for 15-20 minutes until tender and lightly browned.
  2. While the vegetables are roasting, bring a small pot of salted water to a boil. Add peas and cook for two minutes. Drain and immediately transfer to an ice bath to cool and stop the cooking.
  3. Drain the peas again and add to a food processor along with the garlic, walnuts, mint, lemon juice, walnut oil, salt and pepper. Process until pureed, scraping down the sides as needed.
  4. Serve roasted vegetables dolloped with pea pesto, or toss it all together.

 You Might Also Like:

Roasted Green Beans and Mushrooms with Herbed Breadcrumbs
Roasted Green Beans and Mushrooms with Herbed Breadcrumbs
Spring Salad with Avocado, Radish & Peas with Mint-Lemon Dressing
Spring Salad with Avocado, Radish & Peas with Mint-Lemon Dressing
Caramelized Cauliflower with Golden Raisins
Caramelized Cauliflower with Golden Raisins

Indian Shakshuka With Green Chutney

A traditional Middle Eastern of eggs poached in tomato sauce gets an Indian spin with coconut milk, ginger and Indian spices. My Indian shakshuka with green chutney is perfect for breakfast, brunch or dinner!

Egg lovers rejoice!

Last week, the committee that advises government's Dietary Guidelines announced they are dropping the longstanding warning against eating cholesterol-rich foods. The current guidelines are to limit daily cholesterol consumption to less than 300 mg. With almost 200 mg of cholesterol in one large egg, that warning didn't leave much room to indulge in a good sunny side up and over, despite multiple studies showing eggs do not raise cholesterol.

I, for one, was happy to hear this news. Although I clearly promote a plant focused diet, when it comes to animal based protein sources, pastured eggs are one of the best. In fact, nutritionally, I would place them right behind fish. Let's take a look at some of the benefits:

  • Pastured eggs, from chickens raised on their natural diet of grass, seeds, and insects, produce a yolk with over 600 mg of omega 3 fats. These fats are well known for heart health, but also have tremendous benefit for the brain. Omega 3s alleviate depression, improve cognition and have even shown efficacy in the treatment of schizophrenia.
  • Eggs are the richest food source of choline, an essential vitamin that 90% of Americans are not consuming adequate amounts of. Choline is needed to build cell membranes and to produce neurotransmitters, the signaling molecule in the brain.
  • An egg contains 10% daily needs of vitamin A, a critical nutrient for healthy skin and eyes.
  • Eggs are a rich source iodine and selenium, two minerals crucial for thyroid health. An egg contains 20% daily needs of iodine, a key component of thyroid hormones and 30% daily needs of selenium, a mineral which helps activate thyroid hormones. One of the thyroid glands many roles is regulating metabolism, so eggs may be particularly beneficial for weight control.
  • It's true, eggs raise cholesterol - but in a good way! Studies have found eggs can increase HDL cholesterol, the good kind that protects against heart disease.
  • With protein and fat all in a nice little package, eggs are quite filling, especially when compared to the cereal, pastries, white toast and other breakfast items people often eat instead.
  • Although eggs are an animal protein, they can actually help cut back on total intake of animal proteins. Think of it this way, it's not unusual to eat 6 ounces of chicken for dinner. But eating 6 eggs? Unless you're Gaston, that's unlikely.

I encourage you to seek out organic, pastured eggs. Bonus points for locally sourced. Because pastured chickens eat a healthier diet, their eggs contain more nutrients, especially vitamin A and omega 3 fats. Conventional production of eggs is harmful to the environment and the chickens are kept in cruel conditions. To find pastured eggs, check out your local farmers market, or if you're shopping at the grocery store, check out this post I wrote on egg labeling for guidance.

Shakshuka, a dish of eggs poached in tomato sauce, may be my favorite way to enjoy eggs. It's a traditional Tunisian dish, now popular all over North Africa and in Israel. Traditional recipes are fantastic, especially when served with spicy harissa or hummus. But I love to use a basic recipe for inspiration and take different spins on it. I've added beans, corn and chilies to make a Mexican version, mixed in squash and pesto for an Italian flair and most recently, created this Indian spiced version!

Indian Spiced Shakshuka

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1 lb fingerling potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 28 ounces canned tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 6 eggs
  • 100% whole wheat naan, toasted, for serving
  • Green chutney, recipe follows, for serving

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook 15 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, cut the potatoes in half.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Heat olive oil in an oven safe, large sided skillet on medium high heat. Add onion and peppers and saute until tender and lightly golden, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add garlic, ginger and spices. Season with salt and pepper. Cook 1 minute until fragrant. Add tomatoes, boiled potatoes, and coconut milk. Simmer 10 minutes. Season with salt.
  5. Make 6 wells in the tomato sauce and crack an egg into each. Place skillet in the oven and bake 15-18 minutes until whites are set and yolks are still runny. Dollop with green chutney and serve with naan.

Green Chutney

Makes 2/3 cup

Ingredients

  • 1½ packed cups cilantro
  • ½ packed cup mint
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 dried red chili or ¼ teaspoon crushed chili flakes
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • ¼ cup coconut cream or yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey

Instructions

  1. Blend all ingredients in a food processor until they form a pesto-like sauce. Season to taste with salt.