Vegetarian Ramen Noodle Soup with Shiitakes and Bok Choy

Vegetarian Ramen Noodle Soup with Shiitakes and Bok Choy

This vegetarian ramen noodle soup with bok choy and shiitakes is soooo good! The broth is super rich and flavorful thanks to an easy trick. Use whole grain ramen for extra fiber. Plus, you can make it in just over 30 minutes so it’s weeknight friendly!

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Vegetarian Polenta Lasagna with Kale, Butternut Squash & Mushrooms

Vegetarian Polenta Lasagna with Kale, Butternut Squash & Mushrooms

Inspired by my all time favorite vegetarian lasagna recipe, this weeknight friendly recipe for vegetarian polenta lasagna with kale, butternut squash and creminis is sure to become a new favorite! Use precooked lasagna rounds in place of lasagna noodles, which makes it gluten free too. Layered with caramelized fall vegetables, spicy arrabiata sauce, and lemony ricotta.

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Kale and Mushroom Stroganoff over Crispy Roasted Potatoes

Kale and Mushroom Stroganoff over Crispy Roasted Potatoes

This kale and mushroom stroganoff is a vegetarian spin on classic stroganoff. For extra comfort factor, it's served over crispy, roasted potatoes instead of egg noodles - although it's yummy over egg noodles too! It gets it's depth of flavor using a combination of fresh cremini mushrooms and dried mushrooms for a rich and flavorful sauce that gets soaked up by the potatoes. 

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Pasta Frittata with Broccoli Rabe and Baby Bellas

Pasta Frittata with Broccoli Rabe and Baby Bellas

Sharing highlights from my weekend + the recipe for this pasta frittata with broccoli rabe and baby bella mushrooms. This easy, make ahead recipe is one of my favorite ways to use up leftovers at the end of the week! If you've never tried pasta in your frittata before - DO IT! It's an easy way to sneak in whole grains to round out your meal and make it more filling. 

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Creamy Spring Pasta with Oyster Mushrooms, Asparagus and Mint

This creamy spring pasta with oyster mushrooms, asparagus and mint was inspired by a trip to the farmers market.

After taking an unintentional extended break from the farmer's market, I finally made it back last weekend with a girls trip to Soda City with my friend Katrina and my Bernese mountain dog, Savannah. It felt so good to be back! When we moved to Columbia five years ago, I was none too thrilled with it. When we discovered Soda City, our local farmers market, and saw all the passion behind the local food movement, it got me really excited about what this town could be. To see it grow from a tiny, ramshackle building on the outskirts of downtown to a huge affair the city shuts down Main St. for has been really cool! In that time, Columbia has grown into a town I quite enjoy living!

I'm not the most intuitive of cooks, but I'm always inspired to create at the farmers market. And with such delicious and beautiful produce, it's hard to go wrong!  I snagged a ball of mozzarella from Charleston Cheesehouse, fresh squid ink pasta from Rio Bertonlinis and finally a little basket of oyster mushrooms from City Roots. I sauteed up the mushrooms with some asparagus (I admit, from TJs, not the farmers market) in plenty of olive oil to let the freshness shine through!

To make the sauce, I simply used a little creme fraiche. If you haven't tried it before, creme fraiche is made by fermenting cream, similar to how you make yogurt from milk. The result is a rich, thick, and slightly tangy cream. If you can't find it, a few tablespoons of heavy cream will work just fine!

Creamy Spring Pasta with Oyster Mushrooms, Asparagus and Mint

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces fresh or whole grain pasta
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 bunch of asparagus, trimmed, cut into thirds
  • 1/4 lb oyster mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/4 cup creme fraiche
  • 2 tablespoons mint
  • 1 cup peas, defrosted
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cubed

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water then drain pasta in a large colander. Set aside.
  2. While pasta is cooking, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large skillet. Add asparagus and saute 2-3 minutes. Add oyster mushrooms and cook until asparagus is tender and mushrooms are browned.
  3. Turn off heat and add pasta to the skillet with the vegetables. Stir in creme fraiche, mint, and peas. Scoop into large serving bowl, stir in mozzarella, season with salt and pepper and serve.

More farmer's market inspired recipes for spring: 

Spring Salad with Avocado, Radish and Lemon-Mint Dressing
Spring Salad with Avocado, Radish and Lemon-Mint Dressing
Ultimate Veggie Avocado Sandwich
Ultimate Veggie Avocado Sandwich
Roasted Asparagus and Radish with Mint-Pea Pesto
Roasted Asparagus and Radish with Mint-Pea Pesto

Savory Oatmeal with Sautéed Mushrooms, Arugula and Fried Egg

Hopping on the savory oatmeal trend with this bowl of oats topped with sauteed mushrooms, arugula and a fried egg! 

While talking breakfast with one of my clients a few months back, she mentioned that she ate her oatmeal with a pat of butter and a drizzle of sriracha. Lightbulbs went off and I suddenly realized savory oatmeal was the one thing that was missing from my life.

I adore oats for breakfast, hence the multiple incarnations on this blog. It's filling, tasty and nutritious. But in the morning, I tend to gravitate towards savory over sweet.

Apparently my client is a trendsetter because all of a sudden, my inbox was inundated with recipes for savory oatmeal! And now I'm hopping on the savory oatmeal bandwagon with this version topped with sautéed mushrooms, olive oil drizzled oatmeal and fried egg!

Consider this a canvas for all your savory desires! Try these other savory oatmeal toppings:

ASIAN // Scallions + soy sauce + sriracha + egg fried in sesame oil + sesame seeds

SIMPLE // Sharp cheddar + olive oil + sea salt and cracked black pepper + toasted almonds

GREEN // Sliced avocado + sauteed kale or spinach + olive oil + lemon juice + salt and freshly cracked black pepper + chia seeds

CARNIVOROUS // Spicy chicken sausage + peppers + onions

FALL // Sauteed mushrooms + caramelized onions + goat cheese

SPRING // Roasted asparagus + oven roasted tomatoes + poached egg + dill


Savory Oatmeal with Sautéed Mushrooms, Arugula and Fried Egg

Serves 4-5

Ingredients

  • 2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 cup water
  • 2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped roasted red bell peppers

Toppings:

  • 8 ounces mushrooms, quartered
  • Olive oil
  • Arugula
  • Eggs
  • Nutritional yeast or parmesan cheese
  • Flaky salt (or truffle salt) and cracked black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Bring water and almond milk to a boil on medium-high heat in a medium pot. Stir in oats and reduce to a simmer. Cook about 10 minutes until oats are tender and oatmeal is thickened. Season with a pinch of salt and stir in bell peppers.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a teaspoon or two of olive oil in a large skillet. Add mushrooms, a pinch of salt and black pepper and saute until liquids are released and absorbed, about 8 minutes total. Set aside until ready to use.
  3. Heat a little more olive oil in a skillet and fry eggs as desired.
  4. Divide oatmeal between bowls. Top with a sprinkle of nutrition yeast, sauteed mushrooms, fried egg, a handful of arugula. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

For those who aren't quite ready to hop on the savory oatmeal bandwagon:

Chai Oatmeal with Sauteed Pears
Chai Oatmeal with Sauteed Pears
Healthy Fruit and Cream Oatmeal
Healthy Fruit and Cream Oatmeal
Coconut Steel Cut Oats with Dark Chocolate and Almonds
Coconut Steel Cut Oats with Dark Chocolate and Almonds

How to Make the Perfect Omelette + Recipe for Simple Mushroom and Goat Cheese Omelette

Learn my tricks for how to make the perfect omelette with a creamy, custardy texture, plus a simple recipe for mushroom omelette with goat cheese. 

Earlier this week, I read a really interesting article, "The Myth of 'Easy' Cooking." It got me thinking differently about the recipes I share and how I approach cooking. I encourage you to give it a read, especially if you feel like you're constantly strapped for time, running around like a crazy hot mess (i.e. me most of the time). If you're too busy to read it right now, running around like a crazy hot mess, basically, the summary is this:

Easy recipes aren't actually easy.

With the recent emphasis on clean eating, home cooking has become the gold standard of healthy eating. As someone who firmly believes in the power of whole food, I can certainly agree with that designation. In my practice, I spend a considerable amount of time with my clients teaching them how to make home cooking a realistic and regular habit.

But, we can't forget that it comes at a cost and that cost is time. Time is a precious commodity, especially for anyone with children, working a job more than 40 hours a week (hi!), multiple jobs, a long commute, or is active in their community.

With the barrage recipes marketed as easy, which I am absolutely guilty of too, it's easy (pun intended) to feel guilty for not having time to cook. Why can't I find the time to make homemade almond milk in three different flavors for the week?? The recipe says it only takes 15 minutes! And I know I'm not the only one who has taken well over an hour to cook a Rachael Ray 30 minute meal. With 19 ingredients, it takes me 30 minutes just to hunt down the ingredients in my kitchen!

The problem isn't you, it's the recipes. Not that the recipes aren't actually semi-easy or relatively quick if you've done them before. It's the fact that we're using recipes in the first place. As the author states, "real 'easy' cooking, if that’s what you’re after, is far too simple to sustain a magazine and cookbook industry. It relies on foods that can be purchased at a single point of sale and involves a bare minimum of ingredients and a small repertoire of techniques. It leans heavily on things your mom taught you."

Basically, it's not about knowing how to follow a recipe, it's about knowing how to cook. Sure, recipes are helpful for teaching people how to cook (and of course baking, which is much more scientific). But once you know how to cook, you can skim a recipe for inspiration without spending time reading it word for word. When you know how to cook, know what ingredients are extraneous and can be left out. When you know how to cook, you know what a teaspoon or a third of a cup look like, so you don't have to spend time measuring.

Inspired by that article, I plan to share more posts discussing basic cooking techniques rather than specific recipes. 'Non-recipes' that give you the basic instructions you need to create a gourmet tasting meal without spending a lot of time in the kitchen.

Alas, I give you a 'non-recipe' for omelettes. They've sustained me many a day! Whether it's for breakfast paired with fresh fruit or dinner with a side of toast and greens dressed with lemon juice and olive oil, omelettes are super simple yet feel gourmet when made with seasonal ingredients and good technique.

So, you probably know how to make an omelet, but do you know how to make a perfect omelet? Well, I probably don't either. Who are we kidding? I'm no chef! But...I do know how to make a damn good omelet, and I think that's good enough. Here are my tricks of the trade:

  1. Precook vegetables. With the exception of spinach, which wilts in approximately 2.5 seconds, there's nothing grosser than raw vegetables in an omelet. I often use omelettes as a way to use up leftover vegetables, or I'll batch cook vegetables on the weekend. Then there's the ultimate time saver - frozen, defrosted vegetables. #nojudgement
  2. Use a nonstick skillet. Save yourself the hassle. Just do it.
  3. If you can, use room temperature eggs. This is by no means a rule, because goodness knows I regularly forget to take my eggs out of the fridge in advance. But if you can, it helps give the eggs a custardy texture. Sometimes I'll put them in room temperature water to raise the temperature a bit.
  4. Beat the eggs with a fork until completely mixed and season with a little salt and pepper. Add dried or fresh herbs if you like.
  5. Heat the dry skillet on medium-high heat a minute or so before adding butter. This makes sure it's nice and hot, which will help the omelette cook quickly. On the topic, while I don't use a ton of butter, I am pro-butter vs olive oil when omelette making. It tastes so much better. The pan is ready when the foam in the butter subsides.
  6. Pour the beaten eggs into the hot pan then tilt so it covers the skillet. After it's in the pan, DON'T TOUCH THE EGGS! You want it to get a nice crust so it's important to let it sit.
  7. When the eggs are mostly set, but still a little wet in the middle, add the filling. The eggs will finish cooking with residual heat. If you cook it fully, your omelette will be dry.
  8. Immediately fold one side over the fillings using a wide spatula (I like this one). As you tilt the pan on to your plate, filled side first, flip the other side over the fillings so you've got a trifold.
  9. Cheese. This deserves a special note of it's own. Crumbly cheese like goat or feta should go one top, while shredded hard cheeses that melt and get gooey should go inside. This is not personal preference, but rather a cold, hard, scientific fact.

Now, let's talk fillings. I'd love to hear your favorites in the comments below! Here are some of mine:

  • smoked salmon + goat cheese + tomatoes + avocado
  • red onion + corn + tomatoes + sharp cheddar
  • asparagus + brie
  • spinach + sun dried tomato + pesto
  • kale + olives + feta + oregano
  • chilies + black beans + tomatoes

And of course, garlicky sauteed mushrooms...

Simple Mushroom and Goat Cheese Omelette

Makes 2

Ingredients

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Shallot, finely chopped
  • Garlic, minced
  • Mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
  • 3 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
  • Butter
  • Goat cheese
  • To garnish (optional): truffle salt, chopped parsley

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium-high heat. Add shallot and garlic and saute 1 minute until fragrant. Add mushrooms and a pinch of salt and pepper. Saute until liquid is released and absorbed, about 10 minutes. Remove from skillet, set aside and wipe skillet clean if making omelette immediately. Or refrigerate until needed, then reheat briefly in the microwave.
  2. Crack eggs into a bowl and beat until completely mixed with a fork. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place clean skillet on medium-high heat. Add knob of butter, dragging it over the pan with the tip of your knife as it melts to cover the skillet. When foam subsides, pour in the egg, lifting the skillet to spread it evenly. Cook until eggs are mostly set, but still appear wet on top.
  4. Add mushrooms in a line down the middle. Immediately flip edge of eggs over the fillings. Press down slightly to 'seal'. Slide filled side of omelette out of the skillet and on to the plate while flipping the other side over the top to make a tri-fold.
  5. Crumble goat cheese over the top, garnish with truffle salt and parsley and serve.

Vegan Tempeh Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

Get #SoyInspired for the holidays with my vegan tempeh sausage stuffed mushrooms, the perfect appetizer for your Thanksgiving spread!

Disclosure: I was asked to participate in the #soyinspired campaign as a member of the Healthy Aperture Blogger Network. I was compensated for my time. Thanks for supporting the brands that make Avocado A Day possible! 

Is it just me, or are you guys also having a hard time adjusting to the fact that it's almost the holidays? Seems like just yesterday I was sweating in shorts and a tank top and today I'm bundled up in fleece lined sweatpants. Oh wait, it was just yesterday that I was rocking shorts and a tank top in 90 degree Vietnam and now I've returned to a freeze warning. So you're saying I have to adjust to a 60 degree temperature shift and an 11 hour time change?? Ugh...

Since I've already broken out my fuzzy holiday PJs, I suppose it's appropriate to start planning my Thanksgiving menu. It's only a month away! Since my mom and mother-in-law are in charge of making the classics, I get to have fun picking out new recipes to try.

My favorite thing to plan is our appetizer spread. Call me crazy, but I'll take cheese plates and homemade gravlax over turkey any day! Sometimes I end up eating more appetizers than dinner!

Since there's plenty of indulgence coming, I like to plan appetizers that are nutritious, but still Thanksgiving worthy. When the opportunity came to collaborate with The Soy Foods Council on a holiday friendly recipe, I knew I wanted to whip up something delicious for my appetizer spread!

If you've been following my blog for awhile, then you've probably picked up on my love for tempeh. Tofu is fabulous and miso is my jam, but tempeh definitely holds a special place in my heart.

Tempeh, which originated in Indonesia, is made by fermenting soybeans and pressing them into a cake. The fermentation process produces beneficial probiotics and makes the nutrients in soy more bioavailable. While I don't push people to become vegan or vegetarian (unless it's a step they'd like to take) I do advocate for eating less meat, both for health and environmental reasons. With 16 grams of protein in a 3 ounce serving, tempeh is a fantastic source of plant based protein. Once people get past the whole 'fermented soy bean' thing and taste it, they love it!

From a culinary standpoint, tempeh is great for replicating the taste and texture of meat. Crumble it up, saute in olive oil and throw it into chili, tomato sauce or tacos for a tasty meatless meal. Lately, I've been really into tempeh sausage, which I make by cooking crumbled tempeh with olive oil, garlic, onions and plenty of spices. It soaks up all those yummy flavors and makes a mighty tasty filling for these stuffed mushrooms.

I kept this recipe vegan, but you could also add crumbled feta or goat cheese to the filling for extra yums. And while we're at it, you could also throw in a beaten egg to help the filling stick together a bit better. It didn't fall apart, but if you're going for that picture perfect Thanksgiving layout, it might be helpful.

Learn more about soy from the Soy Foods Council, and/or follow along the #SoyInspired campaign on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook.

Vegan Tempeh Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

Makes about 30

If you have any leftover tempeh sausage, it's great tossed with whole grain pasta, over stone ground grits or mixed into scrambled veggies and eggs.

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces cremini mushrooms, stems removed and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup sun dried tomato, chopped
  • 8 ounces tempeh, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • Pepper jelly, optional, for serving

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add fennel, basil, oregano, sage, and pepper flakes and saute 1 minute. Add sun dried tomato and chopped mushroom stems. Season with salt and pepper and saute until mushrooms have released and reabsorbed their liquid. Stir in tempeh and soy sauce, scraping up any browned bits at the bottom of the pan. Saute 2-3 minutes, stir in nutritional yeast, and set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange mushroom caps on a large baking sheet. Divide tempeh sausage mixture evenly between mushroom caps. Place in the baking sheet in the oven and cook 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving garnished with a dollop of pepper jelly, if desired.

More #soyinspired recipes for the holidays:

Brussels Sprout Salad with Tempeh Bacon and Apples
Brussels Sprout Salad with Tempeh Bacon and Apples
Miso Sesame Green Pea Spread
Miso Sesame Green Pea Spread
Roasted Carrot and Quinoa Salad with Miso-Sesame Dressing
Roasted Carrot and Quinoa Salad with Miso-Sesame Dressing

Vegan Red Curry with Freezer Tomato Coconut Sauce

Make this vegetarian red curry with freezer tomato coconut sauce to save time! It's vegan, gluten free and vegetable packed. 

A few posts back, I shared my slightly embarrassing story of exclaiming my love for my freezer on the local news. Although my enthusiasm made me the butt of a few jokes, I still stand by my words, and by my hard working freezer.

The styled photographs on this blog and instagram probably make it look like I spend half the day in the kitchen, but that's not the case. I love to cook and truly believe it's the key to achieving health. I probably spend more time cooking than the average person, but just like every other person I've ever met, I simply don't have enough time to cook dinner from scratch every night.

Despite that, other than the couple of meals we eat out with friends each week, almost everything else is home cooked. It's not because I am a superhero. It's because I know how to make my freezer work for me.

Given my enthusiasm for my hard working little GE, I'm sure you can imagine, I was pretty excited when I saw this month's Recipe Redux theme - 'Fantastic Freezer Meals.' I think I've got a couple of those up my sleeve ;)

My favorite way to use my freezer is for storing leftovers. When I put time into making a soup, stew, casserole or some other easily freezable meal, it only makes sense to buy double the ingredients, spend a few extra minutes prepping and make extra to freeze for later. You might be surprised all the things you can freeze. Here's some of my favorite freezable meals from the blog:

The other thing I like to do is get a start on cooking by freezing sauces that I can add to simple stir fries for flavor, like this creamy Indian tomato sauce. I usually freeze it in sandwich or quart sized zip top bags then defrost before cooking. To make this meal, all you have to do is saute vegetables, add a can of chickpeas and Indian simmer sauce then cook to warm through. It's a fairly complete meal on it's own, but you could also serve it over brown rice. Use frozen or precooked brown rice if you want to stick with the time saving theme.

To make this, I always include chickpeas, lentils or tofu for protein and potatoes or peas as an unprocessed carb. For nonstarchy vegetables, I used zucchini, mushrooms and peppers in this dish, but you could also use spinach, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, greens, green beans, eggplant...basically anything!

Vegan Red Curry with Freezer Tomato Coconut Sauce

Serves 4

Feel free to use any vegetables you like - peas, eggplant, onion, spinach, green beans and greens all work beautifully. Simply adjust the cooking time accordingly. Freeze sauce in 2 cup servings in zip top bags. Curry sauce adapted from Jamie Oliver.

Ingredients

Tomato Coconut Freezer Sauce:

  • 2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • Thumb sized amount peeled, fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 4 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 14-ounce can full fat coconut milk

Curry: 

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled in 1/2 in dice
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
  • 2 medium zucchini, chopped in 1/2 inch dice
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained
  • Cilantro, for garnish

Instructions

  1. First, make the sauce. Place onions, carrots, bell pepper, garlic and ginger in a food processor and pulse until pureed.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large pot on medium heat. Add spices and cook 30 seconds until fragrant. Pour in pureed vegetables and stir to combine. Cook until most of the liquid is absorbed and it starts to look like a moist paste, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, broth and cilantro. Bring to a simmer and cook 20-30 minutes until thickened. Stir in coconut milk and turn off heat. If cooking the rest of the dish, start preparing the curry. Otherwise, let cool to room temperature and freeze in 2 cup servings.
  3. Before making the curry, defrost about 4 cups of curry sauce. To make the curry, heat coconut oil in a large skillet. Add potatoes, a pinch of salt and saute 5 minutes until starting to brown, stirring every so often,. Add peppers, stir and saute 3 minutes. Add zucchini, stir and saute 3 minutes. Finally, add the mushrooms, a pinch more salt and saute until all the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the curry sauce and garbanzo beans, stir, and simmer 5 minutes until warmed through. Serve over brown rice.

Mashed Bean Bowls with Roasted Vegetables

Mashed Bean Bowls with Roasted Vegetables

This mashed bean bowl with roasted fall vegetables is one of my favorite cold weather weeknight meals! It's perfect for batch cooking - just whip up a batch of mashed beans and roasted vegetables and you've got lunch all week. It's easy to change with the seasons by swapping different vegetables. Add a fried egg for extra protein! 

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Creamy Pumpkin Pasta with Mushrooms and Leeks

Canned pumpkin and coconut milk seem like an unlikely duo, but when blended with herbs, spices and bit of citrus, it makes a rich, creamy and complex pasta sauce. Top with sauteed leeks, mushrooms and peas to make it a meal.  

Since my teenage years, on a semi-regular basis, I've been mistaken for Italian. I've got German, Scottish and Latvian blood, but not a speck of Italian, at least to my knowledge. There's been some awkward moments, like when I was walking through Little Italy and a little old lady spoke to me in Italian...then gave me a death stare when I couldn't respond. Then there was that time a woman in Williams Sonoma asked me how I make pasta from scratch, to which I replied "uhhh, I put it in boiling water." And of course, we can't forget the rumor that went around in high school that my dad was in the mafia. Don't even ask how that one started.

I always presumed it was my olive complexion and dark hair, but after creating this dish, I think I've figured out the source of confusion. Rumor must have somehow got out about my excellent pasta sauce making skills.

If you've made my pasta primavera with cauliflower sauce, dairy free mac and cheese or horrendously photographed but amazingly delicious almost cheeseless pasta casserole, then you know this rumor to be true. This creamy pumpkin sauce blows them all out of the water.

This bowl of pasta was one of the most comforting things I've ever experienced, right up there with fleece-lined leggings and snuggles from my fur babies (one of which is doing a little better - thanks for all your well wishes!). Comfort food to the max. Plus, it's got the whole carb and carb thing going on - never a bad thing in my opinion.

I've used pureed pumpkin in pasta sauces before, most notably my vegan mac and cheese (one of the most popular recipes on this blog). But for this sauce, I wanted it to be almost alfredo-like and silky smooth. And for that, you need fat and lots of it!

I used two sources of fats to create this sauce. First, coconut milk, which adds only a faint hint of coconut flavor that actually melds together really nicely with this sauce. I also mixed in a couple tablespoons of almond butter, although you could use cashew butter or tahini even if you have it on hand. Both of these fats lend a nice mouthfeel to the sauce, but also a complex flavor as well.

Dairy Free Pumpkin Pasta with Mushrooms and Peas
Dairy Free Pumpkin Pasta with Mushrooms and Peas

Speaking of flavor, there's so much going on in this bowl! I added lots of sage, picked from our "herb garden," aka sage garden because that's what took over! Fresh orange juice brightens the sauce and sweetens it a bit as well. The turmeric adds a little peppery flavor, but mostly I added it in for the health benefits and gorgeous color.

Creamy Pumpkin Pasta with Mushrooms and Leeks

Serves: 4

Ingredients

Sauce: 

  • 14-ounce can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh sage, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter

Remaining Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 ounces shiitakes, sliced
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 8 ounces 100% whole grain spaghetti (I used quinoa spaghetti)

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a medium pot, whisk together sauce ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer 10 minutes to let the flavors combine.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add leeks and saute 5-7 minutes until tender. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds. Add mushrooms and cook until their liquid has released and reabsorbed, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in peas and cook until defrosted and warm. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Toss spaghetti with the sauce. Top with vegetables and serve.

Roasted Green Beans and Mushrooms with Herbed Breadcrumbs

Roasted Green Beans and Mushrooms with Herbed Breadcrumbs

A healthier and tastier take on green bean casserole - because who likes condensed soup anyway? This recipe for roasted green beans and mushrooms with herbed breadcrumbs keeps all the flavor of the original. It's easy for every day of the week too, not just the holidays! 

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Cauliflower Mash Bowls on The Lean Green Bean

A big bowl of vegan comfort! Cheesy cauliflower mash is topped with garlicky greens and white beans then served with a rich mushroom and red wine gravy. 

Blogging has enriched my life in so many ways I never imagined when I clicked "publish" on my first post. It's forced me to learn and grow as a dietitian, cementing my personal food philosophy while expanding my knowledge of the field. It inspired me to follow my dreams and start my own private practice. It's brought incredible opportunities to my life both professionally and personally.

However, the greatest part of starting this blog has been becoming a part of a wonderful, caring and collaborative community of dietitian bloggers. I've seen, and sadly, been a part of so many workplaces where people compete for success, putting others down so they can get ahead. This beautiful community of health minded women (and men!) is exactly the opposite. If there is one thing I learned at Blog Brulee, community is the key to success and we definitely have a powerful and supportive community!

If RD bloggers are a community, then Lindsay of The Lean Green Bean is our model citizen! She is always sharing and promoting other peoples work to her massive following. She's the first to congratulate on successes. Lindsay even took time out of her busy schedule to give me advice on starting my practice way back when.

If you haven't checked out her blog, you definitely need to. She shares tons of simple, healthy recipes (including my personal favorite, blueberry cashew bars), workout tips, and tons of inspiration for Sunday meal prep. Lindsay is a pro at keeping things simple and efficient, so I know my mom or soon to be mom readers will gets tons of helpful info on raising healthy kids.

So when she asked if I'd like to guest post for her blog while she enjoys her time as a new mom to Baby Bean  patiently waits for a fashionably late little boy, I was ecstatic! Of course I'd help a sister out!

I went all out in creating this cheesy cauliflower mash bowl, topped with garlicky kale, white beans and a rich mushroom gravy. Vegan comfort food to the max! Although in hindsight, I probably should have created a spicy eggplant dish.

Now, before I have you head on over to The Lean Green Bean, a bit of sad news. Well, sad news for you, not really for me :) In light of spending a bit more time nourishing my soul as well as I nourish my body, I'm taking a little break from blogging next week as I travel with my family. We'll be going to the Dordogne region of France, basically recreating my first trip out of the country when I was six (hopefully minus the chicken pox and episode when I sat on a chocolate cookie and cried for an hour cause it looked like I pooped my pants). In hindsight, that first trip is a big part of the reason I'm a dietitian today - it's where I fell in love with food! Although I won't be blogging, I'll be staying active on the tweeter and instagram. Be sure to share all your soul nourishing pictures with me using the hashtag #nourishyoursoul.

Now, check out The Lean Green Bean for the recipe!

Bulgogi Portobello Tacos with Gochujang Mayo

Bulgogi Portobello Tacos with Gochujang Mayo

Bulgogi - tender strips of grilled beef marinated in a sweet and salty sauce - is one of my favorite Korean foods! Try this vegan spin on fusion Korean tacos, made with portobello mushrooms. You’ll love these bulgogi portobello tacos with gochujang mayo and avocado as an easy weeknight dinner.

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Kale, Mushroom and Blue Cheese Quiche {Sponsored Contest}

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.

Kale, Mushroom and Blue Cheese Quiche

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • 8 ounces mushrooms, brushed clean and quartered

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 bunch kale, stemmed and cut into thin ribbons

  • 2 tablespoons flour

  • 3/4 cup milk

  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 4 eggs

  • 1 frozen pie crust (I used Wholly Wholesome whole wheat pie crust)

  • 1/4 cup crumbled California blue cheese

  • Handful cherry tomatoes, halved

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Saute until mushrooms start to release their liquids, about 3 minutes. Add the kale and a couple tablespoons of water and cook until wilted, about 7 minutes. Add in a couple more tablespoons of water if it starts to get too dry.

  3. Meanwhile, heat remaining tablespoon of oil in a small pot on medium heat. Add flour and whisk together. Cook 1-2 minutes, whisking constantly, to take the raw edge off the flour, then whisk in milk and oregano. Bring to a simmer and cook about 5 minutes until thickened. Season with salt and pepper, turn off heat and set aside to cool slightly.

  4. Crack eggs into a medium bowl and slowly pour in cooled sauce while whisking constantly.

  5. Spread vegetables evenly over the crust, sprinkle with blue cheese, then pour the egg mixture over the top. Scatter cherry tomatoes over the quiche, then bake for 30-35 minutes until set.


Black Pepper and Lemon Sauteed Vegetables with Farro

Black Pepper and Lemon Sauteed Vegetables with Farro

This black pepper and lemon sauteed vegetables with farro was a perfect, easy to prepare dinner after a long day! Gotta love anything this simple that's still packed with flavor! Just saute peppers, onions and mushrooms with lemon juice and pepper and serve over farro. You could serve it over any whole grain you like - quinoa, wheat berries, or whole grain couscous would soak up the sauce equally well.

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Hazelnut and Cremini Loaf

You won't miss the meat in this vegetarian and gluten free hazlenut and cremini loaf, packed with flavor from sauteed veggies, herbs and a rich vegan gravy. 

This vegetarian hazelnut and cremini loaf is the kind of vegetarian comfort food I love! If you like meatloaves, you'll love this version made from grains and nutty hazelnuts. It kinda tastes like Thanksgiving stuffing to me, but in loaf form. If I were you, I might serve this as a vegetarian main on Thanksgiving if you're meatless. 

Hazelnut and Cremini Loaf

Serves 4-6

We served this with blanched green beans tossed with a lemon - dijon dressing sweetened with a bit of honey. Adapted from Green Kitchen Stories

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 medium to large leeks, white and light green parts sliced
  • 1 tsp thyme, minced
  • 1 tsp rosemary, minced
  • 4 eggs, preferably pastured eggs
  • 1/2 cup organic milk, unsweetened plain soy milk or almond milk
  • 1/2 cup brown rice, boiled and cooled (yields about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • zest from 1/2 lemon
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Vegan Onion Gravy: 

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a large loaf pan with olive oil or line with parchment paper.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large saute pan on medium heat. Add the mushrooms, leeks, and garlic. Stir. Add thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. Cook about 10 minutes, stirring every so often, until the mushrooms have released and reabsorbed their liquid. Remove from heat and let cool about 10 minutes.
  3. Mix eggs, milk, nutmeg, zest, salt and pepper together in a bowl. Stir in brown rice. Stir in the cooked nut and vegetable mixture. Pour this mixture into the loaf pan and bake about 45 minutes.
  4. Once cooked through, remove loaf from the oven and let cool about 10-15 minutes before slicing. Since the loaf is chunky, cut it into thick slices, otherwise it will fall apart.
  5. While loaf is baking, make the gravy. Heat olive oil in a small pot on medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until translucent. Add flour and stir to coat. Cook a couple minutes to take the raw edge off. Add soy sauce and stir to deglaze. Slowly pour in broth while whisking. Continue to whisk away all the clumps. Stir in nutritional yeast. Cook until thickened, 5-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.