Asparagus & Kale Caesar Salad

asparagus

It seems like everywhere I dine out these days, I find kale Caesar salad on the menu. And for good reason! Everyone loves it – that garlic bite, the unctuous dressing, and the virtuous feeling that comes from eating dark leafy greens.

This riff makes the most of the season’s fresh asparagus. Leave the anchovy paste out to make the recipe vegan.

Asparagus & Kale Caesar Salad

Serves 3-4

1 large bunch of asparagus
1 bunch kale
1 garlic clove
1 lemon
1/2 avocado
2 tsp anchovy paste, optional
1/4 cup chopped, toasted almonds

Prep | Cook

Turn the broiler on high; place the rack 4″ from the broiler

Trim the asparagus.

Put the asparagus on a rimmed baking sheet and spray lightly with cooking spray. Broil, turning as necessary, until tender and slightly charred, 5-10 minutes.

Trim and slice the kale into ribbons and place it in a large bowl.

Check on the asparagus.

Peel and mince 1 clove of garlic; add it to a small bowl. Juice the lemon and add the juice to the small bowl with the garlic. Roughly chop 1/2 an avocado and add it to the bowl with the anchovy paste, if using.

Lightly mash together the garlic, lemon juice, avocado and anchovy paste. (You can also use a small food processor or blender to mix the ingredients into a smooth dressing.) Add the avocado mixture to the bowl with the kale and massage it into the kale, using your hands, until the kale appears slightly wilted.

When the asparagus is cooked, cut it into 2″ pieces and add it to the bowl along with 1/4 cup chopped, toasted almonds. Toss and serve.

kale&asparaguscaesar

Photo by John, used with permission

 

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta

pasta&sauce

Keeping with the roasted red pepper theme, I decided to pair them with pasta this week. The recipe could not be simpler – perfect for a busy weeknight!

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta

Serves 4

12 ounces spaghetti or linguine (see note)
1 small onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
14 ounce jar of roasted red bell peppers, drained (see note)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot powder
a pinch of red pepper flakes, optional
chopped fresh basil for garnish

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to the package directions.
  2. In a small skillet, sauté the onion and garlic over medium heat until soft and browned. Use a tablespoon or two of water to loosen the brown bits that form on the bottom of the pan as it cooks and keep everything from sticking.
  3. Transfer the sautéed shallot and garlic to a blender and add the roasted peppers, almond milk, nutritional yeast, cornstarch, and red pepper flakes, if using. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Once you pasta is done, drain and set it aside. Place the blended red pepper sauce in the pot you used to cook the pasta in and heat it over medium heat. Once it reaches a simmer, reduce heat to low and continue simmering until the sauce has thickened.
  5. Add the cooked noodles to the thickened sauce. Toss to coat the pasta with the luscious sauce. Serve, garnished with chopped fresh basil.

Notes: My current favorite pasta is an einkorn wheat pasta made by Jovial. It has this incredible nutty taste and an awesome texture. Make it paleo or gluten free by substituting zucchini “noodles” for the pasta. If you don’t have any jarred red bell peppers on hand, you can substitute two roasted red bell peppers for the jar of roasted peppers.

roasted red bell pepper pastaPhoto by James, used with permission

 

Sweet Potato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup

sweet potato soup

Last night I wanted to use up a few sweet potatoes that were lingering in my pantry. There are lots of sweet potato soup recipes out there, many of which have bacon. Bacon is easy (and not what Carry eats). I gravitated toward roasted red bell peppers and coconut milk instead. The results were marvelous!

Sweet Potato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Serves 4

6 cups chopped sweet potatoes
One 14-ounce jar roasted red bell peppers, drained
1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
3/4 cup flaked, unsweetened coconut
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup vegetable broth
2-3 tbsp lime juice, optional
salt and red pepper flakes, to taste

Combine the sweet potatoes, red bell peppers, onion and garlic in large soup pot and set aside. In a blender, blend the coconut, water, and vegetable broth until smooth and creamy. Add coconut mixture to vegetables and simmer until sweet potato is soft. Blend the soup in batches until smooth. Stir in the lime juice, if using, and garnish with cracked pepper and red pepper flakes.

sweet potato & red pepper soup

Photo by Jules, used with permission

To Your Health

browniesWelcome to To Your Health, the occasional link roundup on What Carry Eats. This week – weight loss, exercise, a funny video and a tasty brownie recipe!

Links

7 Common Calorie Myths We Should All Stop Believing <– People love to oversimplify nutrition. The perpetual echo chamber about the role of calories in weight loss is particularly irritating. Props to Mark’s Daily Apple for calling BS on these common calorie myths.

Lack of exercise responsible for twice as many early deaths as obesity <– Whether you are a healthy weight or not, something as simple as a daily 20 min. brisk walk could reduce your chances of premature death dramatically. Fascinating!

Sitting too much? Do this. <– If a 20 min. walk is too much, researchers at Indiana University found that simply taking a five-minute walk can help maintain the healthy function of leg arteries that could otherwise be compromised during hours of sitting.

What Michael Pollan gets wrong about losing weight <– Yup. Even “real food” can be detrimental, especially if it triggers over-eating.

How to combat diet and exercise self-sabotage with mindfulness <– Even if you aren't into meditation, this is an enlightening read.

A funny video of a Vitamix owner trying to justify the cost of their expensive blender <– SNL nails it!

Date-Sweetened Brownies <– This looks fabulous. To be totally “Carry approved,” substitute coconut butter made with whole coconut flesh for the coconut oil called for in the recipe.

Banana Bread Waffles

banana bread waffles

Traditional waffles made give me a huge sugar rush that quickly disappears about an hour later. Best case, I’m starving until lunch; worst case, I bonk while hiking up a mountain.

These Banana Bread Waffles are in a different class. They are made with oats and walnuts, which have much more staying power than white flour and sugar. They are also ridiculously filling.

Even if you don’t think you’ll eat the whole batch in one sitting, make them all, freeze any extras, and microwave/toast one for a quick breakfast on the go.

Banana Bread Waffles

Serves 4

2 1/2 cups rolled oats (not quick cooking)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 banana
1 cup almond milk, or other non-dairy milk
1 egg or 1/4 cup flaxseeds

Combine the oats, walnuts, and cinnamon in a bowl. Place 2/3 of the oat mixture in a high-speed blender and process until powdered. Return the oat flour mixture to the bowl with the unprocessed oats and nuts.

Place the remaining ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Add the blended liquid to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. The batter will be fairly thick. Thin with additional almond milk if necessary.

Cook the waffles in a pre-heated waffle iron, according to the manufacturers directions. Top with fruit and/or syrup and serve.

banana bread waffles

 

Photo by Joy, used with permission

9 all-natural “vitamin water” recipes

IMG_3252The new year is full of resolutions to eat better, lose weight, and get “healthy.” If you made one of these resolutions, you are probably on your way to success by now. If you need some extra encouragement, this is for you!

An easy way to take action towards losing weight and improving your overall health is by only drinking unsweetened, non-caloric beverages. No milk. No pop (not even diet). No juice. No soy lattes. No wine (really). Nada.

The science behind why this is important is pretty simple: When we drink our calories, we consume more total calories than if we drink only water.

This is likely because fluids don’t provide the same feeling of fullness or satisfaction as solid foods, as the body doesn’t “register” liquid calories as it does calories from solid food. Eat 120 extra calories along with your breakfast and you’re likely to compensate for those calories by eating a smaller amount of your usual choices. But if those 120 calories come from liquids, studies show your caloric compensation will be minimal at best. In practical terms, if you drink a glass of milk with each meal, you’ll consume virtually the same number of food calories as you would have had you chosen a calorie-free beverage.

It is also possible that sweet-tasting drinks — regardless of whether they are sweetened with sugar or a calorie-free sugar substitute — might stimulate the appetite for other sweet, high-carbohydrate foods. Not only are we consuming more calories when we drink juice, lattes, and sodas, we are then more prone to eat more food! It’s a double diet whammy!

(You can read more about the science behind this at the Harvard School of Public Health.)

If you’re motivated to swap water for other drinks, here are a few ways to naturally flavor the water. I like to think of them as homemade vitamin water. Make these in the evening after work and let them sit in the fridge overnight. By morning, you’ll have a beautiful pitcher of flavored water to keep you happy all day!

  1. Lemon-Cucumber (pictured above)
    In a pitcher, mix 8 cups of water, 1/2 cucumber (thinly sliced), 1 lemon (thinly sliced), 1 sprig fresh basil leaves, 3-4 sprigs fresh mint leaves. Leave in the refrigerator overnight before serving.
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  2. Grapefruit-Basil
    In a pitcher, mix 8 cups of water, 1/2 grapefruit (thinly sliced), and 3-4 sprigs fresh basil leaves. Leave in the refrigerator overnight before serving.
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  3. Strawberry-Lime
    In a pitcher, mix 8 cups of water, 6 strawberries (frozen is fine), 1 lime (thinly sliced), 3-4 sprigs fresh mint leaves. Leave in the refrigerator overnight before serving.
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  4. Fennel-Citrus
    Bring 2/3 cup water to a boil and add 1/2 teaspoon of crushed fennel seeds. Simmer for 5 minutes and let cool. In a pitcher, mix 8 cups of water, the juice of 1 lemon, 1 orange (thinly sliced), 3-4 sprigs fresh mint leaves, and the fennel-infused water. Leave in the refrigerator overnight before serving.
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  5. Blackberry-Sage
    In a pitcher, mix 8 cups of water, 1 cup of blackberries (lightly crushed), and 3-4 sage leaves. Leave in the refrigerator overnight before serving.
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  6. Watermelon-Rosemary
    In a pitcher, mix 8 cups of water, 1 cup of cubed watermelon, and 2 sprigs fresh rosemary. Leave in the refrigerator overnight before serving.
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  7. Pineapple-Mint
    In a pitcher, mix 8 cups of water, 1 cup of cubed fresh pineapple, and 3-4 sprigs fresh mint leaves. Leave in the refrigerator overnight before serving.
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  8. Apple-Cinnamon
    In a pitcher, mix 8 cups of water, 1 cup of cubed apple, 2 cinnamon sticks, and 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon. Leave in the refrigerator overnight before serving.
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  9. Ginger Tea
    Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and add 1 teaspoon of ground ginger. Let it cool. In a pitcher, mix 8 cups of water, the cooled ginger tea, and 4-5 slices of fresh ginger. Leave in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

 

These recipes were submitted to the Virtual Vegan Potluck!VVLPButton

Protein vs. Fiber

 

In the above video, Dr. Gregor finally puts to bed the question of whether we are getting enough protein. He discusses a recent study on how much protein humans need and how much we’re actually getting, based on the type of diet we eat. (Spoiler alert: most people eat way more than the RDA!)

He also reveals the one nutrient that over 95% of people are not getting enough of, yet we rarely hear about. Fiber!

If we all followed Mark Bittman’s two rules for a good diet we would definitely fix this problem.

Apple-Berry Gelée

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agar

Do you have agar agar in your pantry? If you don’t, let me introduce you to this wonderful ingredient!

It is made from sea vegetables and has thickening properties similar to gelatin. It is sold in health food stores in both flake and powder varieties, and can be used to make custards, puddings, sauces, and even vegan marshmallows.

On Sunday I used it to make a simple fruit-on-fruit dessert that was a light way to end a beautiful meal. I suspect that you can use any type of chopped fruit and juice in this recipe, so experiment and let me know how it goes!

Apple-Berry Gelée

Serves 4

4 cups apple juice
4 tablespoons of agar agar flakes (substituting 4 teaspoons of agar agar powder is okay)
1/4 cup applesauce
1/2 pound chopped strawberries

Put the juice and agar agar flakes in a saucepan and heat on high until boiling. Boil for 10-15 minutes until the flakes are dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the apple sauce and strawberries.

Divide the mixture between four bowls and let cool for 30 minutes. Place in the refrigerator until solid (an hour or so). Serve chilled.

Calories - apple berry geleePsst! This is my submission for Virtual Vegan Potluck #16! Check it out if you want more cooking inspiration.

VVLPButton

 

Oil-free arugula pesto

arugulaWe had some arugula and a bottle of wine that said it went well with arugula pesto on Friday. Seemed like the perfect inspiration for dinner, except for the fact that almost every recipe for pesto I could find included tons of oil and cheese. We wanted something fresh and light.

I made one up, using miso instead of Parmesan to give it some umami. The lemon juice also helps cut the bitterness of the greens. And the white beans make it creamy.

We served it over roasted potatoes, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. This would also be excellent over pasta or as a spread for a sandwich.

Oil-Free Arugula Pesto

Yield: 4 servings

2 cloves garlic
1 cup arugula
1 cup cooked white beans, drained
2 tsp white miso
2 tbsp water
3-4 tbsp lemon juice

Peel the garlic cloves and process them in a food processor until they are minced. Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Add water a tablespoon at a time if it is too thick.

Calories - arugula pesto

Photo by Susy Morris, used with permission

Eggplant Tapenade Pasta Sauce

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eggplant

Kathy Hester published a delicious-sounding recipe for Eggplant Tapenade in her book Vegan Slow Cooking for Two. (Psst! It’s also available on her website!) I packed my slow cooker away for a few months but figured I might be able to make something similar in my pressure cooker.

Instead of a chunky tapenade the results were more sauce-like. We spooned it over fresh noodles last night and our taste buds did the happy dance. Nick, who has admitted to disliking eggplant, even thought it was great. He told me that he liked how the eggplant broke down and gave the sauce a creamy texture.

To speed up the recipe, start the water boiling before you start chopping vegetables for the sauce. The sauce and pasta should all be finished about the same time.

Eggplant Tapenade Pasta Sauce

Yields approx. 3 servings

1/4 cup water
3 cups chopped eggplant
1/2 cup chopped green olives with red pepper flakes (we found these in the deli section at Safeway)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons capers
1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes
1 to 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh basil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Add everything except the balsamic vinegar, fresh basil and salt/pepper to the pressure cooker. To avoid burning the dish, layer the ingredients in the order listed, adding the tomatoes last.

Bring to high pressure and cook for four minutes. Let the pressure come down naturally or release it.

Add the vinegar, basil, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

You can either leave it chunky or purée it in a food processor. Serve over hot pasta.

calories - eggplant tapenade saucePhoto by Jim, the Photographer, used with permission

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