Category Archives: Side Dishes

Roasted Beets with Toasted Walnuts and Dill Vinaigrette

IMG_3979I’ve been cooking up a lot of warm and cozy comfort food at work lately and popular every winter with clients are root vegetables of all kinds. Today I made this easy, versatile beet side dish. It’s super flavorful and would be good with different menus year-round. Try it with warm, freshly roasted beets or room temp at a BBQ in the summer.

Ingredients:
• 4 large beets, about 1 pound
• 1/2 to 1 c. walnuts, chopped
• 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
• 2 tsp. lemon juice
• 1 medium shallot, minced
• 1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh dill, minced
• 6 Tbsp. olive oil
• salt and pepper
• gloves, unless you want purple hands for the next few hours

1. First order of business is roasting your beets. Preheat the oven to 400. I roast them this way all the time — to put on salads, to eat plain or with a little lemon juice and salt and pepper and for other recipes. Rinse beets. Cut off tops and tails and wrap individually in foil. If the beets are really large (bigger than a baseball) I usually cut them in half and wrap each half in foil.

Place a sheet of foil on the middle oven rack. As the beets roast, they will leak juice (especially if they are cut in half).  Do yourself a favor with the foil — nobody wants to spend the night scrubbing burnt beet juice from the bottom of the oven.

Arrange beets on foil and roast for 1 hour. Leave wrapped when they come out of the oven. I usually leave them until I’m ready to wrap up everything else that I’m cooking (so they might sit there on the counter for another hour sometimes). More on that later.

2. Place walnuts in a dry skillet and toast over medium heat, stirring frequently, until they become fragrant (about 4 minutes).

3. Whisk the vinegar, lemon juice, shallot, dill and oil together in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.

4. Time to get back to the beets. By the time you unwrap them when you’re ready to put things together the peel will usually slide right off. If they don’t, grab your trusty vegetable peeler. Slice or dice or rough chop them — what you feel like. I often go for 1-inch cubes.

5. Toss dressing, beets and walnuts together in a medium bowl and dig in!

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Roasted Squash with Maple Brown Sugar

Tis the season for squash galore and this side dish couldn’t be easier!

Ingredients (Serves 2-4)
• 1 acorn squash
• 1 Tbsp. butter, melted (use yummy Earth Balance to keep it vegan)
• 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
• 2 tsp. maple syrup
• 1 dash of salt

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Using a large, sharp knife, cut squash in half. This recent Chow.com may help! Scoop out seeds.

3. Place cut side up in a baking dish (casserole dish, glass dish, etc.) and add about 1/2 inch of water to the dish so the skins don’t burn and get dried out (or wreak havoc on your dish. Trust me).

4. Coat the inside and rim of each half with the melted butter, then add a dash of salt as well as 1 Tbsp. of brown sugar to each half. Drizzle each half with the maple syrup.

5. Bake in the oven for one hour to an hour and 15 minutes, depending on the size of the squash, until the tops are starting to brown (I certainly could have cooked the above squash a little longer).

6. Spoon any of the brown sugar sauce that is melted in the cavity over the top of the squash halves and dig in!

Vegan Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash

I recently stopped by my favorite fruit and vegetable stand  to pick up a few things for dinner. I had glanced at a few recipes earlier in the day for stuffed acorn squash and knew I had most of the ingredients at home, so I just picked up two acorn squash, an onion, some mushrooms, some herbs and hoped for the best. Of course, I didn’t get around to making it, so when I had to run to my hometown this weekend I brought all the ingredients with me so I would have some “real” vegetarian food to eat while I’m here. I made it quickly when I got into town and, thanks to my early-riser nephews, I  have time to write this blog this morning.  🙂

There were several recipes for stuffed acorn squash that sounded good. Usually I end up combining several recipes, but when I came across this one on Healthy Crush: A Love Affair with Living Well, I realized I had all of the ingredients, so I decided  to make it verbatim.

This would be a great recipe for vegan Thanksgiving — it’s beautiful, it looks like fall and it tastes great. AND, there is a ton of extra filling so any meat-eaters could try it — it’s already gotten the thumbs up from 5 meat-eaters who tasted it last night. This recipe proves that eating healthy and eating vegan don’t have to be boring or bland.

Ingredients
• 2 large acorn squash
• 1 Tbsp. olive oil
• sea salt and pepper to taste
• 2 c. quinoa, uncooked
• 1 med. yellow onion
• 4 cloves of garlic
• 1 c. chopped mushrooms (any variety)
• 1 pkg. organic tempeh or 1 c. chickpeas
• 1 c. chopped fresh basil
• 2/3 c. raisins (I used golden)
• 2/3 c. pine nuts, pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or sunflower seeds (I had pepitas on hand, so I went with those — I think walnuts would be good too)
• A few splashes of soy sauce or tamari
• A sprinkle of cayenne (mom’s not into heat, so she didn’t have any and I didn’t bring my own — so I omitted)
• A sprinkling of chopped fresh sage (I imagine jarred rubbed sage would be just fine too)

1. Preheat oven to 400. Cut acorn squash in half, scoop out seeds. Place in oven-proof baking dish face up. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 45 minutes.

2.  While the squash is baking — make the stuffing! First prepare quinoa according to package directions. Place 2 c. quinoa with about 4 c. water (I always do just under — maybe 3 1/2-3 3/4 c. water). Bring to a boil, reduce to low, cover and cook for about 15 minutes until all water is absorbed.

3. Dice/chop onions, mushrooms, garlic and tempeh and or chickpeas (I used tempeh because I had it on hand) and saute with a tiny bit of oil and a few splashes of soy sauce in a large saute pan. I actually started with the onions and garlic, then added in the mushrooms and tempeh. I sprinkled with salt and pepper, tasted and adjusted — adding a bit more soy sauce.

4. Add cooked quinoa to mixture and mix well. It seems like a lot — and it is. But the ratio ends up working really nicely together.

5. Add raisins, basil and nuts to the mixture.

6. At this point, the acorn squash should be just about done. (It really was perfect timing). Overfill with the mixture — I piled it as high as I could without it spilling over. If you’re aren’t vegan, Healthy Crush recommends topping with some goat cheese. I imagine feta or parm would be pretty good to. Place back in oven for 15 more minutes. The squash should be beginning to brown a bit and everything should be heated through.

7. Sprinkle with chopped/rubbed sage and dig in! There will be tons of stuffing leftover, but it’s delicious on its own too. If you like, the mixture will freeze easily for you to eat as a side dish another time.

Veggie Salad with Fennel and Tomatoes

I’ve had a nearly daily salad for the last week, so I thought I would share. I don’t usually get into food habits like this — I like variety — but for some reason this is sticking with me. It totally fills me up and I feel great when I eat it.

It all started at the cooking class I held a few weeks ago with health coach Gail Wyckhouse of Holistic Techniques.  She prepared a salad with tomatoes and fennel with a light cider vinegar dressing. Without looking at it, I basically expanded that recipe, but it’s almost identical.

I chop and toss tomatoes, fennel, parsley, green onion and cucumber, add freshly ground salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and add a splash or two of apple cider vinegar then toss again.

Not only is the salad light, these ingredients have various health benefits, many of which Gail brought to my attention. Here are just a few:

• Apple Cider Vinegar: My grandmother once told me she used to sip cider vinegar every day as a kid because it was really good for you, so in high school I started doing so from time to time and my mouth tends to water whenever I smell it. (Weird, I know). Well, she turns 95 in a few weeks, so I guess she can’t be all wrong.

Turns out, apple cider vinegar is said to aid in relieving muscle pain, promotes healthy skin, soothes dry throats, helps control weight, promotes digestion and pH balance, helps remove toxins from the body and is good for the immune system.

• Fennel: This fragrant, licorice-tasting vegetable (Sounds weird, but it tastes great) is said to be good for digestion, promotes healthy eyesight, may help ease hypertension, increases milk flow in nursing mothers, and may ease coughs.

• Parsley: This flavorful herb is said to fight cancer, help reduce blood pressure, increase the processing of sodium and water while increasing potassium absorption, and helps inhibit the growth of fungi and bacteria.

• Tomato: Tomatoes are said to be great for the heart and other organs, are rich in antioxidants and are said to help prevent prostate cancer.

Baked Tofu

On a recent Sunday I decided to attack my refrigerator and make a handful of things to sustain us through most of the week. One of the reasons my clients turn to me as a personal chef is because they work hard, get home, are tired and sometimes make bad choices. Unfortunately, I’m no different. I get home after a cook day tired, hungry and reaching for whatever is easy.

So, I picked up a couple of things at the store but mostly wanted to use my refrigerator full of ingredients I had purchased with high hopes but hadn’t had time to put to use.

I already had decided to make black bean burgers, so I decided to put that ol’ block of tofu in the refrigerator to use as some sort of side dish — I decided just to bake it and make a dipping sauce.

I pressed it in my TofuXPress for about 30 minutes while I was making other things, then sliced it into halves or thirds (about 1/2-inch thick), then triangles. I whisked together soy sauce with a bit of sesame oil, rice vinegar, freshly grated ginger and minced garlic. I marinated the tofu for about a half four, flipping it every 10 minutes or so.

I’m not sure if I spritzed it with olive oil first or not, but I put the slices of baked tofu on my  favorite baking sheet, which nothing sticks too and always washes away (even the black stuff you can never get off of other pans).

I baked it at 350 for about 30 minutes. Flipping it a couple of times so it gets a little crisp on the edges and nice and chewy.  I threw together a quick peanut sauce (much like THIS ONE, but I doctored it up a bit with a bit of coconut milk and a few extra spices) and — voila! It was a hit. So much so I was asked not to make it too often because my squeeze had trouble holding back. That’s a review I can live with.

Chipotle Kale Chips

Soon after I took on a raw client for Fresh Chef Detroit, I bought an Excalibur dehydrator. Some research revealed it’s a favorite of raw chefs, including Ani Phyo.

Tonight I swiped a recipe from one of Ani’s cookbooks, “Raw Food Essentials,” and made delicious chipotle kale chips. I think these are going to become a staple around here. I think this will be my new favorite snack!

The recipe is simple:

• 1 head of kale
• 2 Tbsp. olive oil
• 3 Tbsp. agave
• 1/2 tsp. sea salt
• 1/2 to 1 tsp. chipotle powder

1. Wash kale and rip/cut into bite size pieces.

2. Toss with other ingredients in large bowl. My head of kale was small, so I should have used less oil and agave. They’re still DELICIOUS, but a little sticky. Next time I’ll start small, depending on how much kale I have.

3. If you have a dehydrator, spread pieces on 2 dehydrator trays and dehydrate for about 5 hours at 104 degrees. If you don’t have a dehydrator, bake at 300 degrees for about 15 minutes. Keep an eye on them — you don’t want them to burn!

They are spicy and sweet and crunchy and chewy and delicious. Way better than any potato chip I ever had (for real). Give it a try. You won’t be sorry!

Kale Chips

The first time I heard of kale chips, I thought something like, “Wait — what? Who? How? Huh?” Some months later, I decided I needed kale chips in my life. They were a big hit at our pre-Christmas holiday party and I decided I should just buy kale and make them all the time.

A true testament to the deliciousness of a kale chip was the fact that I scraped myself off the couch on New Year’s Day to make them. After a three-day bender (well, girls night out followed by getting engaged and celebrating too much followed by NYE) I knew I needed some vitamins and nutrients vs. the grease (like real chips) my brain said I wanted. It totally worked. I got the goodness my body needed and I got the crunch my bad habits needed.

Skeptical? Give it a shot. You’ll spend a couple of bucks on a head of kale and you’ll be surprised.

Ingredients
• kale
• 1 Tbsp. olive oil
• coarse salt

1. Wash and let dry one head of kale.

2. Cut leaves from thick stem and cut or tear into bite/chip-sized pieces, placing them in a good-sized bowl.

3. Drizzle in olive oil. I usually drizzle about half of it, then toss kale and drizzle the rest. You’ll think 1 Tbsp. isn’t enough for all that kale, but you’ll be surprised — it totally is.

4. Sprinkle with sea salt or another coarse salt (pink Hawaiian sea salt I got as a baby shower favor recently was delicious!). You can do this once they are on baking sheets or while tossing.

5. Spread on 1-2 baking sheets (depending on how much you have) in a single layer, but don’t sweat it if there’s a little overlap. They shrink a bit while baking.

6. Bake at 325 or so for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges of the kale begin to brown and the pieces are crispy.

Enjoy!