Creamy Greens & Artichoke Dip

One of my favorite apps to order is a classic spinach artichoke dip. Nothing beats that warm, savory drip, spread across some crispy, salty pita bread (or any bread for that matter). And hey, there's spinach in it! And artichokes! it must be healthy. 

Eh, not so much. I wanted to give my best shot at making a healthier (but just as tasty) alternative. This version uses cashews and white beans instead of sour cream or cream cheese. You still get the creamy, savory texture, but this time with loads of extra fiber, protein, and healthy fats. I've also added an extra green, kale, to give it an extra nutrient boost. 

This version does still have cheese in it, a sprinkling of parmesan. However, if you "don't do dairy" you can eliminate this, and instead sub in nutritional yeast. I've made it both ways, and I think they're both bomb. 

Creamy Greens & Artichoke Dip

  • ½ cup cashews
  • ½ cup white beans
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced,
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup water, boiling
  • 1 can artichoke hearts
  • 1 cup kale, packed
  • 1 cup spinach, packed
  • Pita Bread for dipping

In blender or food processor place cashews, white beans, garlic, salt, parmesan and water. Blend until completely smooth. Add artichoke hearts, and pulse until well blended. Add kale and spinach and pulse again. Enjoy with pita bread.

To reheat: transfer to oven safe bowl and heat at 400 F. until warm.


Caramelized Onion, Sweet Potato, and Goat Cheese Frittata

I cannot believe this is the FIRST time I am posting this. If you've ever come to my house for any meal at all, I without fail will make something with this combination: caramelized onion, sweet potato, greens, and goat cheese. I've put it this on pizza, in tacos, and even layered it carefully into some sort of noodle-less lasagna.

I discovered this winning combination quite a few years ago at Emma's, a small Italian Pizzeria in Cambridge, MA. They had a sweet potato pizza with goat cheese that I just had to recreate. I've probably made it 30 times since then, and never once paused to take a proper photo.

This frittata is SO easy to make, plus it makes 4-8 servings (depending on what else you're serving and how hungry you are), so you can serve it at a party or save it to have for a quick breakfast throughout the week. Check out the recipe below.

Caramelized Onion, Sweet Potato, and Goat Cheese Frittata

  • 2 cups sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 2 cups greens of your choice (arugula, kale, spinach)
  • 1-2 onions, sliced into half moons
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled
  • Dash of salt and pepper

Using a basket steamer steam sweet potato until tender. Tip: If you don't have a basket steamer you can use a pasta strainer placed over a boiling pot of water. 

Meanwhile, place a large pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, throw in onions and a dash of salt. Toss them around until browned, adding a few splashes of water if they start to stick to the pan. Tip: the salt should draw enough water from the onions that you don't need to use butter or oil. 

Place the cooked sweet potatoes, onions, and greens in a bowl and rinse out and spray the pan you used for the onions and place over medium heat. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs and add a dash of salt and pepper. Stir in the vegetables and pour into the pan. Top with goat cheese.

Cook until the edges are cooked, and then place in the oven under a low broil. Watch this carefully as every oven is different! Keep in there until the top is cooked, and the cheese is slightly browned. Remove and cut into 8 pieces to enjoy!

Having a go-to is so great for last-minute meals (especially when company is involved). Let me know yours in the comments below!


Mayo-Free Potato Salad

I'm actually quite a fan of mayo... but I know a lot of people who just can't stand it. I guess something about the jiggly, slick texture? But, anyone, this recipe is for those peeps! Check out my Red White and Blue, Mayo-Free Potato Salad.  


Mayo-Free Potato Salad

  • 2 lbs creamer potatoes (I got a variety of red, white, and purple potatoes)
  • 1/2 lb string beans, washed and cut into 1-2 inch pieces
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 eggs, hardboiled and chopped (optional)

Fill a medium size pot with water and bring to boil. Add potatoes (whole) and boil about 10 minutes, or until fork tender. Drain and let cool for a few minutes. Meanwhile, steam the string beans in a basket steamer (you can also set a colander of a pot of boiling water). Using this method helps retain the nutrients by preventing them from leaching out into the water.  

Steam string beans for about 5 minutes (don't let them get soggy). 

Make the Cashew Mayo. 

Cashew Mayo

  • 1 cup cashews 
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup dill
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
  • Salt to taste

In a high speed blender, blend all ingredients until smooth. 

To finish: Dice the potatoes to desired size and throw in a large bowl with string beans, celery, and eggs. Pour the Cashew Mayo over them, toss, and cover to let the potatoes soak up the dressing. Salt to taste and enjoy! 


Blood Orange Broccoli

Broccoli has never been one of my favorite vegetables, but lately I've found myself craving it. Maybe I'm exaggerating a little... I usually crave cookies. But when I'm thinking about what vegetables to eat with dinner, broccoli has been on my mind! So when I went to the grocery store I did a little trolling around for something to liven it up a little. Since the change of seasons this time of year tends to make me a little more prone to getting sick, I decided to jump for the citrus fruits. Bright and delicious, but also high in vitamin C. I picked up some lemon and my new favorite - blood oranges (in season and on sale most places now)!

Blood Orange Broccoli

  • 1-2 heads broccoli, broken into florets (you can keep or lose the stems)
  • 2 blood oranges ; 1 peeled and chopped, 1 juiced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1-2 lemons, juiced
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated

Preheat oven to 425 F. In a medium pot, bring 1 cup water to a boil. Place broccoli in a basket steamer (or colander) and place in the pot with water. Let steam for 5 minutes. 

Place the broccoli in a bowl and add the chopped blood orange, the juice of the other blood orange, olive oil, salt and pepper and toss until well coated. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the lemon juice and ginger with the greek yogurt. Plate the broccoli and dip in yogurt to enjoy!

Red Lentil Dahl Soup

Ever make a recipe and then forget about it? That's what happened to me with this soup. I made this a looong time ago, thought it was one of the most delicious things I ever made, and then POOF erased it from my memory. I'm not sure why but I am sure glad that this soup is back in my life. Even though I can hardly contain my excitement for winter coming to an end - I am going to miss these hearty soups, so let's have one last hurrah! One thing you'll notice is that I made this stew without oil. Now, you can certainly use oil or butter, but if you're trying to cut back, check out my tip below for sautéing onions without oil.  

Red Lentil Dahl Stew

  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped (or substitute with a Soup Starter)
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, grated
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1, 28 ounce can whole plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 jalapeño, seeded and chopped 

In a large pot over medium-high heat, add onions and stir continuously. With a higher heat, the onions will contract, and release a lot of water, which will prevent them from sticking. If they start to stick, add a small amount of vegetable broth (only about 1 tsp at a time). Add the garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric, salt, and jalapeño, and sauté, continuing to add small amounts of vegetable broth if necessary.  

Add the lentils, broth, and tomatoes. Cook 30-45 minutes until all of the liquid is absorbed. Salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

Fall Comfort Foods: Butternut Squash & Barley Bowl

Fall is upon us which means its time for hearty, warming comfort foods! I don't know about everyone on the west coast, but here in New England, when Fall roles around I go into full blown hibernation mode. I cook cozy dinners, live under my yellow blanket, and wear lots of scarves.

Here's a delicious dinner I came up with last week and it was just the heartiest, most satisfying fall meal. The best part? I made a HUGE batch and ate it for lunch throughout the week with a side of rotisserie chicken.

Butternut Squash & Barley Bowl

  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • 1 small butternut squash, halved length wise
  • 1 head purple kale, deveined and chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp chopped sage
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup crumbled sheep's milk feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup roasted salted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

Preheat oven to 400 F.  On a parchment lined baking sheet, place squash cut side down.  Bake for 45 minutes or until fork tender.

Meanwhile, bring 3 cups water to a boil, add barley and simmer until all of the water is absorbed.  When the squash is finished, peel off the skin, scoop out the seeds, and roughly cube (tip: its MUCH easier to peel and scoop out the seeds of a cooked squash).  Stir in with cooked barley, kale, parsley, sage, olive oil, and feta. Top with pepitas and enjoy (tip: only add pepitas when ready to serve to preserve the crunchiness). Salt and pepper to taste.

What is your favorite fall comfort food?

Kelp Noodle Stir Fry

Ever heard of a kelp noodle? Me neither. Well not until a few months ago at least. See the beauty of working (or what feels like living) in a grocery store is that it lends itself to all sorts of discoveries. One of my favorite places to wander when I have a free moment is the 'International Aisle." Thats where I discovered the kelp noodle. I'm not really convinced its made of anything really. With only 6 calories for a pretty hefty serving, there's not much to these bad boys. So while you might be retaining some of the benefits kelp has to offer (high in iodine and calcium), I will just think of them as a similar composition to air. Upon my purchasing, I discovered that these suckers make a great substitute for noodles used in Asian dishes, but probably wouldn't recommend putting meatballs on top of them. They're slightly crunchy with a mild flavor so they retain sauces quite well - not to mention they're minimal carbohydrate content makes them a less-filling substitute to rice noodles or pasta.

But the best thing about this recipe? It only takes about 15 minutes to make!

Check out my recipe for Spicy Peanut Stir Fry (with Kelp Noodles) below.

Spicy Peanut Stir Fry (with Kelp Noodles)

  • 1 bag kelp noodles, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cups chopped veggies (I used broccoli, eggplant, grated carrots and red bell pepper)
  • 1 T toasted sesame oil
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • ½ cup cashews
  • 1 serving peanut sauce (ingredients below)

Put medium pan on medium heat. Toss the chopped vegetables with the sesame oil in the pan until cooked (or choose to keep them raw).

For the sauce

  • 2 T creamy peanut butter
  • 1 T honey
  • ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes or chili powder (more if you prefer spicy sauce)
  • 1 T grated ginger
  • 1 T minced garlic ¼ cup water

Whisk ingredients together in bowl. Pour sauce over kelp noodles and mix until noodles are coated. Top with veggies, cilantro, and cashews to enjoy! (You can always add a protein like chicken, steak, tofu, or shrimp to increase the protein content as well).

Have you ever tried kelp noodles? What do you think?