Hello, Team Booyah!

Don’t worry – I didn’t forget about you. I have a crazy busy week this week, and I haven’t had much time to make fantastic booyah creations in the kitchen this week.Β  As the unofficial vegan cuisine expert, I offered to coordinate a menu of vegan-friendly food options for visitors to my workplace this week, and so I put together a vegan-friendly menu comprised of some of my favorite recipes that I’ve previously posted here on Bubbles and Booyah. πŸ˜‰ I’ve added links to all of the recipes, so you guys can check them out too, in case you missed them the first time around. πŸ™‚

Main entrees:

  1. Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

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Red quinoa with garbanzo beans, spinach, tomato, bell pepper, onion, Kalamata olives, fresh herbs, hemp seeds and a red wine vinaigrette dressing

  1. Sesame Ginger Quinoa Salad

photo 3 (2)Quinoa with edamame, carrot, bell pepper, red cabbage, with a sesame ginger dressing

  1. Green Goddess Bowl

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Sprouted quinoa and sprouted lentils with steamed kale and broccoli tossed in a tahini-lemon sauce

  1. Mexican Quinoa and Tempeh Salad

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Mexican-inspired tempeh with quinoa, black beans, corn, tomato, bell pepper, onion, and lime

Side Dishes:

  1. Kale Salad

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Fresh kale with edamame, chickpeas, fresh herbs, carrots, craisins, almonds and an Italian herb vinaigrette dressing

  1. Fresh Tomato and Cucumber Salad

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Fresh tomatoes, cucumber, onion and fresh herbs tossed in a light apple cider vinaigrette dressing

Desserts

  1. Vegan Brownies

Recipe coming soon πŸ˜‰ Stay tuned!

  1. Raw Apricot and Date Power Bites

Apricot, dates, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, coconut oil balls rolled in flaked coconut

Β 

Ta daaaa! I have eaten my fair share of icky veggie burgers, sad salads and lame veggie sandwiches over the years while traveling, I would never impose any of those depressing meals on anyone. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Hopefully the menu appeals to the visitors’ tastes. I have high hopes they will enjoy the dishes I make as much as I have.

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In unrelated Booyah News, I *finally* returned to my beloved yoga studio for an intense bendy session. It was SO NEEDED. Like, way overdue. All I could hear in my head was my very dear friend and yoga instructor Rachel, who was telling me that the best thing for sore muscles (from logging all those miles and working out most days of the week) is to do gentle, restorative yoga stretching. Some of the poses can help you regain range of motion, reduce swelling in your legs, and improve circulation to speed your recovery. Remember when Rachel and I did a little yoga sequence during the Fourth of July weekend? She came up with a flow to help relieve the soreness I was feeling from running 10 miles. We held each position for at least fiveβ€”and up to 15β€”minutes, where I focused on relaxing my entire body and taking slow, full breaths. As last night’s yoga instructor said, “Do less.” I tend to tense my shoulders, face, everything – mentally instructing myself to “do less” when easing into poses helped me let go and just let my body naturally fall into position. I’m not that bendy or great at yoga (I can only touch my toes on a good day), but you don’t have to be a Cirque du Soleil performer to reap the benefits of yoga. Go on, try it out. You can do it right at home! Check out this 20 minute sequence on YouTube:

I hope you guys all have a great day today!! I’ll be back at the end of the week with Friday Faves πŸ˜€

With warmth,

L

Wicked Easy Quinoa Salad

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My sister has been making this quinoa salad for YEARS – it was her brainchild and even bears her name in a Nutrition cookbook. I thought, however, that naming it the “Wicked Easy Quinoa Salad” on B&B was better than calling it the J[REDACTED]’s Quinoa Salad. πŸ˜‰ Regardless of its name, she came up with it and it’s the ultimate bring to the BBQ/make for a party/take for lunch salad because it’s a) ridiculously easy – if you can chop vegetables, you got this; b) exceptionally delicious (and also full of stuff that’s good for you); and c) vegan (dairy & egg free), gluten free and soy free. YES on all levels. And since it’s about to be 86Β°F / 30Β°C and ridiculously humid today in Boston, it only requires one simmering pot of water – so it won’t turn your kitchen into a furnace. Love that.

Anywho, one of my friends was giving me a hard time about the way I eat (as a veg, you learn to roll with the punches early on or having your eating habits questioned gets really irritating really quickly). For once, it wasn’t the ubiquitous “Omg don’t you miss eating bacon/steak/wings so much?!”/”Where do you get your protein?” (For the record, my new favorite response is “what’s protein?” with a blank look on your face. I’ve found you start to NGAF when you’ve been a veg for over half your life and have heard this shiz for the past 16 years, and as a biochemist, I mean – bitch, please. Don’t even talk to me about protein.)/”Blah blah blah blah” (Because you also start to tune it out after awhile too – my choices aren’t your choices, so you do you, boo. I’ll be doing me over here. BYE!). Okay, I could really go on forever on but I’ll save it for another time. This time, when given a hard time about my eating habits it was more of, “You don’t like cooking multiple dishes, do you? You basically cook one thing and just eat that?” My response: um, YES. Because I’m BUSY dude – I have stuff to do. And as much as I would love to stand around drinking red wine and cooking all day like the vegetarian Julia Child, I have a career, a life and I’m perpetually training for some physical challenge. And I’m pretty content with that. So yeah – the majority of the time during the week, yes. I do just cook one dish and eat it for part of the week: because it’s easy, you don’t have to do a million dishes, stand in front of the stove for a long time after you’ve already been standing in front of a laboratory hood for eight hours, and you’ve got a training run tomorrow at 5 am and have to go to sleep in like 45 minutes. I assume most people feel that way during the week – everyone loves a quick, easy, flavorful, filling and nutritious meal all in one shot, amiright?! Obviously, I love to cook (why else would I be writing this blog πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜€ ) and when I have the luxury of time I get to go balls to the wall. So, for everyone of you who are too busy loving life to stay chained to your stove – here’s another B&B QEFFN (quick, easy, flavorful, filling and nutritious, whose acronym looks dangerously close to “queefin” – I’m going to have to work on that) meal for you all to enjoy. It’s really, really delicious and shares zero resemblance to any embarrassing scenarios. πŸ˜› πŸ˜‰

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Here what you need for this quinoa salad: apple cider vinegar, olive oil, grape tomatoes, quinoa, grated carrot, bell pepper, radishes, scallions and chickpeas.

Wicked Easy Quinoa Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth or water
  • 2 cups of grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 bunch of scallions, chopped
  • 1 bunch of radishes, sliced
  • 1 can of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3+ Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Fresh herbs: basil, parsley, oregano, mint, etc.
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Step One: Cook your quinoa. Bring the veggie broth or water to a boil and add the quinoa. Turn the heat to love, and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the germ has separated from the seed (the tiny spirals that appear when the quinoa is done cooking). While your quinoa is simmering away, prep all of your veggies. Toss all of your veggies into a large bowl.
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Listening to some great summer tunes like Tom Petty is highly recommended.

Step Two: When the quinoa is finished cooking, add the olive oil and stir to coat all of the quinoa. Allow it to cool down to room temperature (or just slightly above, I’m super impatient) so it doesn’t “cook” the veggies.
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You want these veggies to be fresh to death.

Step Three: Combine the quinoa and veggies, stirring well to mix. Add the vinegar to taste.
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Don’t throw the hot quinoa in there! You will have major life choice regrets if you do. It’s so much better to let it cool out. πŸ™‚

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Stir it all up and add salt, pepper and vinegar to taste.

Step Four: Adjust any seasoning and add the fresh herbs. I only added a huge handful of chopped basil, because that is what I had on hand.

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Step Five: Serve with extra chopped herbs as a garnish. Enjoy! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

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Here’s what’s really great about this salad: you can serve it with tortilla chips at a party/BBQ/snack time, or you can eat a big ol’ scoop of it plain. Or you can put it on top of your lunch salad, roll it up in a wrap with hummus and veggies, put it on a mezze platter or whatever you are feeling like doing at the moment. It’s so versatile! It tastes fresh, crunchy from the veggies, light and refreshing – perfect for summer,Β  yet it’s still extremely satisfying and filling. And, according to My Fitness Pal, each serving (1/5 of this recipe, if you eat a beastly amount like I did) has 384 calories, 10 grams of fiber, 14.6 grams of protein (wait, did you hear that haters?! It has a bunch of plant protein!!) and is in the 80%s for both your daily value of Vitamin A and C. Whussup, now!

Dude, it’s just really good. I can’t wait for you to try it.

Hope you all are having fantastic hump days!! Also – FOUR DAYS TIL MY BIRTHDAYYYYYYYY πŸ˜€ Woo woo!

With warmth,

L

Mediterranean Quinoa Power UP Salad

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You guys all know how much I love a delicious quinoa salad (Exhibits A, B, C and D right here) – but this one just might be the all-time winner. Since it was 73Β°F / 23Β°C (!!!) in Boston yesterday, I figured I’d whip up this warm weather favorite – bright, refreshing and super flavorful – perfect for the first GORGEOUS day of the year! It combines a lot of my favorite summer flavors into one filling-without-being-heavy dish, perfect for your dinner dance party while listening to George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass album with the windows open, bringing to a summer BBQ (and simultaneously becoming the most popular person there because this dish is the fan fave) or just because you want something SUPER tasty.Β High in protein, fiber and veggies, it’s filling enough for a full meal. And it’s just really, really good – it’s that simple. Don’t be discouraged by the long list of ingredients – once the farmer’s market’s opens up and local produce arrives on the scene, you will probably already have a lot of these ingredients on hand. It’s a great way to use up extra fresh herbs, and you can tailor the ingredients to what you have available (make it easy on yourself, yo!). And, of course, it’s vegetarian and gluten free to please the masses (it’s easily vegan, as well – just substitute this awesome Mock Feta Cheese recipe I found for the feta). Here we go!! *~*~*Insert Summer Vibes*~*~*

Mediterranean Quinoa Power UP Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of dry quinoa
  • 2 cups of veggie broth
  • 2 handfuls of spinach, roughly chopped (~2 cups)
  • 1 16-oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup of grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 handful of kalamata olives, halved
  • 1 cup of crumbled feta cheese*
  • 1 handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 handful of fresh basil, chopped
  • Several shakes of dried oregano (or substitute 2 – 3 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano)
  • 1/4 cup of hemp seeds, heaping
  • 5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

*Ok, truth time – I added about 1/3 of a pound of feta, which is closer to 1 1/2 cups. πŸ™‚

Directions

Step One: Start your quinoa. Bring the veggie broth to a boil in a medium saucepan, stir in the quinoa. Allow the quinoa to simmer, covered, on low for about 20 minutes, or until all the broth is absorbed.
Step Two: While the quinoa is simmering away, prep your veggies. Combine the beans, tomatoes, pepper, onion, olives, cheese, herbs and spinach into a very large bowl (it’s really a lot of stuff – use the biggest one you’ve got!).
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This dish is brought to you by…. This amazing/gigantic popcorn bowl I bought at Target when I was a freshman in college. πŸ˜€

Step Three: Once the quinoa is finished, you can set it aside and let it cool completely. Or if you’re Impatient Annie like I am, let it cool for about 5 minutes and then dump the quinoa into the bowl with the veggies.
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The steaming hot quinoa actually makes the feta kinda like melt-y and extra delicious. YUM.

Step Four: Whip up the dressing. Whisk together the vinegar and mustard, then slowly add the olive oil to form an emulsion. Pour over salad, sprinkle the hemp seeds on top and toss well to mix.
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As you can see (we are about to get Chemistry Nerdy up in here), there is a distinct meniscus between the oil and vinegar layer – this is NOT an emulsion. If you want your dish to be as bomb diggity as it possibly can, take the extra time to really emulsify this dressing. Otherwise, you can be lazy like me and just kind of dump the ingredients together, swoosh it once or twice and then dump it in. πŸ™‚

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Add those hemp seeds and give it a good stir.

Step Five: Taste, season with salt and pepper and enjoy! πŸ˜€

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SERIOUSLY – SO FRIGGIN GOOD! You guys are going to love this. It’s just really tasty. Okay, and I have some packed for my lunch today, and I totally broke into my lunch pack before 10 am to sneak a few bites. Shhhh, don’t tell. πŸ˜‰ This salad will be responsible for powering my long run after work tonight – it’s full of all the good stuff. Nomssss. πŸ˜€

I hope that you guys enjoy this recipe as much as I did – it’s deeeeeeeeelicious. YUM.

Happy Tuesday, all!! πŸ˜€

With warmth,

L

Tahini-Lemon Quinoa with Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower

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With all the craziness of travel, friends visiting, work being crazy (aka life in general), I haven’t been able to bring you a delicious L meal creation in a while. Well loves, the time has come! Last night I made an unbelievably fresh, bright and wholesome dish that is bound to get you as amped about life as I am. It was 56Β°F / 13Β°C yesterday (that’s basically tropical for Boston), and snow piles and hearts were melting everywhere. SPRING! FINALLY! I wanted something GREEN, fresh and bright that was simultaneously filling and wholesome. What better way than to whip up a little quinoa salad with some roasted veggies and a to-die-for sauce (pretty much marrying my favorite things to do with food)?? Well, not much. I created a Tahini-Lemon Sauce/Spread/Dip to give this dish its creamy-nutty-earthy flavor that is balanced by the bright acidity and freshness of the lemon. Basically, it is DAMN good (as well as vegan and gluten-free to boot – total crowd pleaser!). I had broccoli and cauliflower on hand, so I roasted those and added them into the mix; you can use whatever you have available or whatever you’re feeling in the moment. I added some extra protein with the addition of shelled edamame, you could add your fave bean (chickpeas, cannelinis, lentils) or some baked tofu/tempeh. It’s pretty much a freestyle dish that you can tailor to your needs and tastes. Let’s get this started, shall we?

Tahini-Lemon Quinoa with Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower

Ingredients

Sauce

  • 3/4 cup tahini
  • 3 lemons, juiced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic (heaping if you’re into it as much as I am)
  • Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Salad

  • 1 cup uncooked red quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cup water or veggie broth
  • 1 head of broccoli, chopped into florets
  • 1 head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • 1 cup of frozen edamame
  • Hemp seeds, for sprinkling on top
  • A few drizzles of olive oil
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Step One: Roast the veggies. Preheat the oven to 425Β°F. Place the broccoli and cauliflower in a single layer on a large baking sheet (or two medium baking sheets, if your oven is as small as my tiny apartment-sized one). Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and toss to coat the florets evenly. Roast for about 20 to 25 minutes, until crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned (you may want to toss them halfway but I didn’t and the world kept on spinnin’).

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Step Two: Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring the water or broth to a boil. Stir in your quinoa, cover and bring the heat to low. Simmer the quinoa for about 15 minutes; then add the frozen edamame and continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes.
Step Three: Still meanwhile, on the other side of the kitchen – whip up your Tahini-Lemon Sauce/Spread/Dip (I can’t think of a word mash up for that one a la “Stewp”, still working on it…). In a food processor, add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic and ginger. Blend until smooth. Mine was super thick – like more of a spread than a sauce. You have a few options here: you can add some olive oil (I simply added a drizzle to make the consistency smooth, but not more), or water/broth to thin it out to where you want it. I like it super thick because I use it as a spread on sandwiches/to dip carrots into while I’m waiting for dinner to be done, etc. It’s pretty flavorful, so you won’t need a lot and can save the rest for something delicious.

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Step Four: Combine. Once the edamame/quinoa is done, transfer to a large bowl while it is still hot. Add three-ish heaping tablespoons of the tahini-lemon sauce and stir until it is evenly distributed. It’s okay if it’s kinda thick and clumpy (mine was!) but if you’re not into it, add a little water or a little extra drizzle of olive oil to thin the consistency. Add the roasted veggies on top and mix well to combine. Add any salt and pepper to taste, if necessary (I did not need any).

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Step Five: Serve warm with hemp seeds sprinkled on top. Enjoy! πŸ˜€

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Dude, this was so good. It has a definite Green Goddess feel to it that I was really digging last night. It really hit the spot; it’s nutritious, filling and flavorful (all of the things I generally go for in a meal). The best part is that you can make a sandwich wrap with the leftovers for lunch, or you can throw a scoop over your lunch salad (it is so good served over arugula!). It’s versatile and fresh, and tastes great served warm or right out of the container in the fridge (guilty). I truly hope you enjoy this dish as much as I did, it’s simple but the flavors are bangin’ (and dude – I am SO pumped that I have some of that bomb Tahini-Lemon spread left over, because I am going to eat that as soon as I get home tonight).

Hope you guys are having a great Thursday today! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

With warmth,

L

PS: Sarah’s bootcamp this morning was killer and I think my face will be bright red until lunch time. That is all.

Mexican Quinoa and Tempeh Salad

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Mexican Quinoa and Tempeh Salad – YES PLEASE.

Hoooooray! We all survived the holidays. Phew! I had an absolutely smashing time in Connecticut with my parents, sister, brother-in-law and my 9 month old nephew, who had us all in stiches dying laughing as he played with his new gifts. Being the nice Auntie that I am, Santa L brought him a sit-to-stand “bike” that had a dashboard with crazy car sounds and flashing lights. He loved it and spent Christmas Day bouncing away shrieking along with the car noises, all while holding the horn down a la a miniature Masshole-in-training. I couldn’t be prouder of my adorable little nephew (and of course, he is the most intelligent, advanced and cutest baby in the universe – I’m not biased at all). I know that my sister may want to shank me by New Year’s Day because of the level of crazy this toy brings out in her son, but at least I have a chance to dodge her from all the Stop Drop and Roll Burpees I’ve done in bootcamp recently. All in all, a fabulous time.

HOWEVER, I am going to Florida in two weeks (yay!) and I am feeling a *little* fluffy, probably due to the 35 Vegan Cut-Out Sugar Cookies I ate, along with the 12 Vegan Ginger Molasses cookies, a monstrous slice of Raw Vegan Pumpkin Pie and the 7 Apricot-Date Amazeballs (also, if you haven’t yet, check out my updated vegan cookie recipes – I’ve included pics from when I made them over Christmas. You’ll be able to enjoy my sister and bro-in-law’s 1970’s time capsule kitchen that is probably getting demo’ed as you read this). You may think I’m just exaggerating the amount of sweets I consumed, but I swear on Chanel I am not. I enjoyed each and every one of those amazing cookies but cannot look at a sweet treat for a long time, as I’ve fulfilled my quota for a while. So today’s name of the game is “Let’s get back on track!” – time for some healthy, flavorful and nutrient dense meals.

Usually, tofu is the veg protein All-Star and soaks up its fair share of the lime light in the vegan/vegetarian scene, but in reality tempeh is The Boss, the dominating nutrient-packed overachiever (think Rihanna and Beyonce – Queen Bey is clearly on top, but RiRi is pretty much right up there). It’s made from whole soybeans, less processed than tofu, and has more protein and fiber per gram. If you’re a little wary of tofu’s weird-looking cousin, this is the perf recipe to try it out for the first time! This quinoa and tempeh salad is full of flavor, filling, and super nutritious – also packed with protein and carbs to support my semi-pathetic runs up and down the hills in CT (compared to where J & R live, Boston is a pancake). I actually made this recipe the week before Christmas and brought the leftovers with me and ate it over some baby spinach for a few lunches while I was at my sister’s. This dish is a super easy, one pot-esque (ok, to be fair it also involves one large saute pan too), and full of zesty and fresh flavor. It’s also a “bursting with nutrients” winner: it has about 10 grams of fiber, 17 grams of protein and only 350 calories per serving! Yes! Fear not the tempeh, because it f***in RULES (and it woke up like this). πŸ˜€

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All the ingredients for Mexican Quinoa and Tempeh: salsa, black beans, quinoa, frozen corn, grape tomatoes, red bell pepper, onion, tempeh, limes, cumin, and cayenne. YUM.

Mexican Quinoa and Tempeh Salad

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa
1 1/4 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, diced
1 (8-oz.) package tempeh, diced into bite-size pieces
1 cup hot to medium salsa
Juice from two limes
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup fresh corn (or frozen)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Salt and pepper, and fresh cilantro to taste
1 avocado, diced

*If you’re not into avocados, you can substitute a steamed/baked sweet potato, diced for a similar texture but different flavor πŸ™‚

Directions

Step One: Place water into a medium saucepan on high heat. Once it starts to boil, add the quinoa, reduce to simmer and cook for 12 minutes on low heat, and allow to sit for five. (I’ve found a pretty large variety in quinoa cooking directions, so just follow whatever yours says on the package. Make sure the quinoa to liquid ratio is correct too. You can substitute broth for more flavor if you’d like).
Step Two: While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the remaining ingredients. Place the tomatoes, corn and beans into a large bowl. Chop and prep the tempeh, pepper and onion. I find it super helpful and makes my cooking flow if I prep all the veggies first before I start sauteeing. Do whatever feels right to you. πŸ˜€
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First things first, I usually dump the easy, low maintenance ingredients right into the serving bowl first. It helps get it out of the way. Just throw the corn, beans right into the bowl and slice those tomatoes in half (or not, if you’re short on time!). Easy peasey.

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Next, prep your veggies that are going to be sauteed with the tempeh. Dice into bite-sized pieces.

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I chopped the block of tempeh into bite sized pieces and set aside while I sauteed the onion.

Step Three: Heat the oil in a large saute pan on medium heat, and add the chopped onion. Cook for 5 minutes, or until translucent.
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The name of the game is multi-tasking. While your quinoa is simmering away, saute the onion until translucent.

Step Four: Add the diced red pepper, tempeh, salsa, cumin, and cayenne pepper.
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Add the salsa, tempeh, red pepper and spices. Saute for about 15 minutes.

Step Five: Cook the tempeh mixture, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes.
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Most of the liquid from the salsa should be reduced and your tempeh should be beautifully coated with the spices and salsa. Your kitchen should smell like Mexico. πŸ˜€ Mmmmmm!!

Step Six: Once the quinoa and tempeh are cooked, pour both into a large bowl containing the beans, corn and tomatoes and mix together. Add the lime juice, cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste, and mix well.
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When your quinoa is ready, dump right on top of your veggies in the bowl.

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Add the tempeh mixture, and dress the salad with the lime juice. Sprinkle cilantro and add salt and pepper to taste. Give that baby a good stir.

Step Seven: Serve and top with a few pieces of diced avocado or sweet potato based on your preference. Enjoy as is, or use as a f-in awesome filling for tacos/burritos, or a serve as a salad over greens with an extra squeeze of lime.
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The finished product, with avocado. Yummmmmmmmmm.

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I threw half of a baked sweet potato right on there. It added a nice sweetness to offset the spiciness of the salad and was DAMN GOOD.

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You can dice a whole sweet potato and add it right in the salad as well. YUM!

This is one of my favorite dishes that I make. It’s so simple, but really packs a lot in there – both nutritionally and flavor-wise. YUM! You can adjust the level of spice to taste as well – I like it VERY spicy, so I cook mine with hot salsa and a few extra shakes of cayenne pepper. The spiciness is completely up to what you’re down for. πŸ˜€ It’s a great way to kick off your healthy goals for 2015. It’s never too early to start getting back on track and healthy for the New Year (or if you’re afraid to try on your bikini right now for your Florida trip in less than two weeks). I hope you all had a FANTASTIC holiday, and I can’t wait to keep up all this healthy amazingness in 2015! YES!

With warmth,

L

xoxoxox ❀

Roasted Butternut Squash, Cranberry and Power Greens Quinoa Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

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Roasted Butternut Squash, Cranberry & Power Greens Quinoa Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

Whew! That’s a mouthful right there.

If you ever peruse my Instagram photos, you would know that I got a pretty legit haul from the farm stand last week: local butternut squash and Cape Cod cranberries included. This weekend, I wanted to throw together a “one pot” meal that I could eat for lunches during this short week instead of my usual salad. I combined a few of my favorite things: roasted butternut squash and red onion, fresh cranberries, power greens (baby spinach, baby kale and swiss chard) and a really vibrant dressing to pull it all together with fresh orange juice and zest. The orange vinaigrette dressing in and of itself is really delicious, and it elevates the dish past a thrown together (fridge clean out-esque) veggie salad with quinoa. To add some crunch and extra protein, I added hemp seeds and chopped pecans. I bet almonds or hazelnuts would also be amazing here, as well. If you’re looking for an addition to your Thanksgiving meal, this would be a pretty solid contender. It’s delicious, packed with flavor, eye appeal (lots of colorful veggies!) and with just enough of a twist to keep it interesting, but still accessible enough to please a wide variety of palates. You’ve got a serious crowd pleaser right here. And furthermore, it’s loaded with antioxidants and vitamins (so you can feed the ones you love the things that will make their bodies happy).

Roasted Butternut Squash, Cranberry and Power Greens Quinoa Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups of fresh cranberries
  • 5 oz container of power greens (baby spinach, baby kale and swiss chard)
  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Dressing:

  • 1 large navel orange
  • zest of 1/2 the orange
  • 2 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Step One: Roast the squash. Place the butternut squash and chopped onion into a shallow baking dish (large enough so the squash cubes are in one layer), toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 400Β°F for 30 minutes, or until the squash is tender. Stir at least once halfway through.
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The roasted squash should be tender enough to stick a fork in one of the pieces but not mushy.

Step Two: Meanwhile, prepare the quinoa. Boil 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan. Once the water is boiling, add the quinoa, cover and turn the pot down to low. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes, then add the cranberries to the saucepan, stirring to incorporate. Cover the pot and continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Once the quinoa is cooked, remove from the heat, keeping it covered.
Step Three: Make the dressing. Combine the orange zest, orange juice, balsamic vinegar, honey, garlic, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl (or in the blender). Whisk (or blend) until smooth. While whisking, add the olive oil slowly to create an emulsion. Transfer to a container for storage.
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Use a hand grater to zest half of the orange. You can zest the whole thing and place the other half of the orange zest into a plastic baggie and stick it in the to use at a later time for other recipes.

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I had white wine vinegar and used that, but (regular) balsamic vinegar would be great here too. I always have jars of chopped and minced garlic on hand in my fridge, so I just added 1 tsp of chopped garlic (the equivalent of one minced clove of garlic).

Step Four: Roughly chop the power greens and place into a large bowl. Add the warm quinoa mixture on top of the greens and toss together to allow the greens to wilt. Once the squash is done roasting, add the squash and onion to the salad and toss to mix. Add the hemp seeds and pecans, and dress the salad to taste with the orange vinaigrette dressing. I used about half of the dressing, and stored the other half in the refrigerator for use on other green salads.
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It’s important to keep the quinoa covered and warm so that it wilts the greens in the salad.

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Here is what mine looked like after all the ingredients were added. πŸ™‚ YUM!

Step Five: Enjoy!! πŸ˜€ Serve topped with extra chopped pecans and/or hemp seeds, or over a bed of greens, if desired.
photo 5 (2)

I served my salad over a bed of greens and topped with extra pecans. Delicious!

The blend of sweet, savory and tart proves to be a winning combination in this salad. The sweetness of the butternut squash is offset by the tart cranberries and the zesty orange dressing. The greens add a nice balance to the flavors, and the nuts/hemp seeds provide a great crunch to the texture of the salad. Overall, it is an amazing one pot meal that your family (and you!) will love. I am pretty stoked to have this for lunch today, not gonna lie. πŸ™‚ Soooo many delicious and nutritious things packed into this one dish – it’s a win all around.

Hope all of you are having a calm, stress-free day today as we near Thanksgiving.

With Warmth,

L

PS: Go Bills! We won! I Billeve!! Perfect gift for my dad’s birthday, thank you Bills! ❀ ❀ ❀ ❀

Carnival Squash Stuffed with Maple Dijon Quinoa and White Beans

Top view of stuffed squashLiving in New England, there are a ton of amazing farmers’ markets and farm stands that enable you to enjoy the cornucopia of deliciousness that arrives every harvest season. Being a vegetarian for the past 16 or so years, I always try to find the best, freshest, in-season and local produce to use in my recipes (as annoying and condescending as it sounds, it always tastes the best, is the best for the environment, and we are all trying to save the planet for the next generation to enjoy, aren’t we?). As a busy, always on-the-go single gal, I am a HUGE fan of one pot-ish meals that pack a powerful punch of flavor and are full of nutrients. Aren’t we all busy and hungry for something good?

I found this recipe on another blog that I read, and I modified it to my own needs. I used one carnival and one acorn squash, you can use any two small squash that you like – just be sure they are approximately the same size so they don’t have wildly different roasting times in the oven. I also doubled the stuffing recipe because it looked so good, I wanted to eat it plain!

Carnival Squash Stuffed with Maple Dijon Quinoa and Beans
Adapted from Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes

1 small carnival squash & 1 acorn squash, washed
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
2 cups of veggie broth
2 tsp coconut oil
2 leeks, halved, cleaned and white/light green parts thinly sliced
4 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
2 cup fresh cranberries
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 can of small white beans

1. Preheat oven to 425F.

2. Cut both of the squash in half. (If you can’t, the original writer of this recipe suggested to make a few small pricks with a fork and microwave it whole for 3 minutes on high, it should then be soft enough to cut in half). Scoop out the seeds. Rub the insides of the squash with melted soy butter (Earth Balance is the best, in my opinion!) or oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, if desired.

3. Place squash, cut-side down, on a aluminum foil-lined baking tray and bake for ~ 45 minutes, or until it is cooked through and a knife can be easily inserted.

4. Meanwhile, prepare your quinoa: In a small saucepan, bring vegetable broth to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add quinoa. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 15-20 minutes. Keep covered for an additional 5 minutes to steam. Set aside.

5. Meanwhile, in a large non-stick skillet, over medium heat, heat oil and add leeks and sprinkle with salt. Cook until softened, around 7 minutes. Stir in the sage, oregano and cranberries and cook a further 5 minutes. Stir in the mustard and maple syrup. The cranberries may begin to pop. Stir in the cooked quinoa and white beans and stir in combine. Set aside until the squash is finished.

6. Once the squashes are cool enough to handle, stuff each half with the quinoa mixture and return to oven, stuffed side up. Bake for another 10 minutes until heated through. (Sidenote: I was lucky enough to perfectly time the squash and filling being ready at the same time. My squash were pretty much cooked as much as I wanted them to be, so I only put the stuffed squash back into the oven for five minutes. It’s all up to you and what you prefer).

Serves 4.

Stuffed carnival squash

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

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