Category Archives: vegetables

Summer Veggie “Noodles” with Walnuts and Goat Cheese Recipe (Gluten-free, refined sugar-free, vegetarian)

My little organic gardenLate summer is one of my favorite foodie times of the year. My local farmer’s market is overflowing with a variety of colors and flavors, and my little organic garden is lush and happy (although I do find I am sharing more and more of my harvest with little critters that like to help themselves despite my fence!) I’m cooking with fresh herbs every day, and greens like kale, bok choy and beet greens are regular staples in my diet. I’m extra excited about my butternut squash, which I’m growing for the first time. It’s such a thrill to see the squash getting bigger! And you simply can’t beat fresh-from-the-garden heirloom NJ tomatoes!

Baby squash!

Baby squash!

This is also that time of year when everyone seems to have an over-abundance of summer squash. This recipe was born of that, and has become one of my favorites. It’s a riff on pasta, but much lighter. Enjoy it on its own or as a side dish. I hope you love it as much as I do!

I made this dish in the Pampered Chef 4-quart Rockcrok Dutch Oven that my wonderful Pampered Chef consultant Kathy Yellets sent me. (Disclosure: I was sent a free product for this review by an independent Pampered Chef consultant. I have worked for Pampered Chef corporate in the past in a consulting capacity, but corporate was not involved with this review. Although I was provided with a free product, all opinions expressed here are my own.)

Pampered Chef Rockcrok

When I received the Rockcrok and read about it, I was pretty excited. It can go on the stovetop, in the oven, in the microwave (with no plastic BPA worries!) and even on the grill (it can take the heat up to 752 degrees)! I love the fact that you can start a dish on the stovetop and then finish it in the oven without transferring pots. I found that it heats really evenly, too, which makes me think it will be great for a Korean dish I love called Bibimbop. That dish traditionally calls for a clay pot which holds the heat and crisps the bottom of the rice, which this pot should do well. This pot is definitely one I find I use almost everyday, because it’s so versatile.

You can see a video about the Rockcrok here: http://youtu.be/mrXfJ0QOEs8

So I am excited to share with you this recipe today. Please note that the variety of  veggies and amounts below are suggestions. Feel free to adapt this to whatever veggies you have on hand, in whatever amounts. It’s delicious no matter how you make it!

You’ll need to use a vegetable peeler to make thin slices of your zucchini, squash, pepper, and carrots. You’ll also want to chop your kale into bite-sized pieces.

veggies

Toast your walnuts while adding your onions and veggies to the Rockcrok. (I love how the steam looks in this picture!)

steamy veggies and nuts

When the veggies are pretty soft and cooked down, add your tomatoes and chopped rosemary, along with salt and pepper.

veggie noodles with tomatoes

When the kale starts getting a little crispy, add the goat cheese and let it melt into the “noodles.” Top with some of the toasted walnuts.

veggie noodles and melty cheese

Serve on a plate topped with additional goat cheese and walnuts. Enjoy!

veggie noodle pasta finished 3

Here’s the full recipe:

Summer Veggie “Noodles” with Walnuts and Goat Cheese
Serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side dish

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil (or olive oil)
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium yellow summer squash
  • 1-2 carrots
  • 1 sweet red pepper
  • 1 cup chopped kale
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup red cherry tomatoes
  • 1-2 oz goat cheese (to taste)
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves chopped and stems removed
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

Here’s What to Do

  1. Toast chopped walnuts in a small saucepan until fragrant and lightly browned. Set aside.
  2. With a vegetable peeler, slice zucchini, summer squash, pepper and carrots into long thin strips.
  3. Mince onions and chop kale.
  4. In Rockcrok or large saucepan or frying pan, melt coconut oil over medium heat.
  5. Add onions and saute for 3-4 minutes, until they begin to become transparent.
  6. Add veggie “noodles” and saute lightly for about 3 minutes.
  7. Add chopped kale, along with chopped rosemary, salt and pepper, and continue to cook and stir for 5-7 minutes, or until kale begins to look a little crispy.
  8. Add cherry tomatoes and stir for another minute.
  9. Add goat cheese and half of your toasted walnuts, and cook and stir until goat cheese melts into noodles.
  10. Remove to serving platter and top with additional goat cheese and toasted walnuts.
  11. Serve and enjoy!

veggie noodle pasta finished

What’s your favorite recipe with summer veggies? Please share in the comments below!

Kale, Squash and Cranberry Saute (Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free)

Kale Squash and Cranberry Saute from https://jenfongeats.wordpress.comI try to eat vegetables at every meal, in order to get 7-9 servings of vegetables a day. I’ve found it’s done dramatic things for my health and waistline. When it was summer, it was easy to find a variety of vegetables at the Farmer’s Market. But now that it’s winter, my options that are organic and not imported are a lot fewer. So I’ve been doing a lot of winter squash and kale.

I’ve been on a big kale and butternut squash kick recently. I eat both nearly every day in a variety of ways. Green smoothies, soup, stir fries, you name it. But one of my absolute favorite ways to enjoy both is in this hearty dish that I make for breakfast a few times per week.

This dish also uses cranberries, which I stock up on during the holidays and keep in the freezer. I love the way the cranberries in this dish complement the earthy flavors. So often we think of cranberry as sweet, since we typically add so much sugar to them. But in this dish the tangy, sour flavor of the cranberry adds a lot.

I hope you enjoy this healthy dish as much as I do!

Dec_Jan 2012-3 089

Kale, Squash and Cranberry Saute

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 slice nitrite-free bacon, sliced into small pieces
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 4-5 leaves kale, washed and trimmed from stems, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup roasted butternut squash, cut into bite-sized pieces (I typically prepare a whole squash, and keep the cooked cubes in the freezer)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh whole cranberries (unsweetened), chopped
  • 1/2 cup broth (chicken or vegetable) Note: Can also use water
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 1-2 eggs

Here’s What To Do:

  1. In a large frying pan, melt coconut oil. 
  2. Add chopped bacon and onion, and saute for 5 minutes over medium heat.
  3. Add kale, butternut squash, cranberries, broth, salt and pepper, and saute for 5-7 minutes or until kale reaches desired tenderness.
  4. Toss in pumpkin seeds, and stir fry for 1 more minute.
  5. Put on a plate.
  6. Wipe out saucepan, and then cook 1-2 fried eggs.
  7. Serve eggs over kale saute.

What’s your favorite way to serve kale and squash?

Kelp Noodle Japchae Recipe (Gluten free, Refined Sugar free, Grain free)

My beautiful babies (not so little anymore!)

My 3 kids are adopted from Korea. In learning about the culture as we prepared to adopt, I fell in love with the country, as well as the food. Korean barbeque (Bulgogi) is phenomenal, and kimchi is a spicy, addictive condiment that I love. (I even made kimchi once or twice…a process that takes several days…and my sweet son prefers mine to anyone else’s…good boy!) But one other dish I really enjoy is japchae, which is a stir-fried noodle dish made with sweet potato noodles.

The best japchae I ever had was cooked by my son’s foster mother in Korea. When we went to her apartment to meet our new son for the first time (he was 2) she had a huge spread of traditional Korean food. It was SO delicious!

I’ve made japchae in the past, but I always messed up a bit with the sweet potato noodles, which can easily be overcooked. However recently, I finally took the plunge and ordered some kelp noodles. I had been reading about them on various gluten-free food blogs, and I was curious. The reviews for them on the Amazon product page were really positive. They are not a grain, but rather a sea vegetable. And there are only 18 calories in an entire package (6 calories per serving.) For real!

But the best part is that they are, of themselves, fairly tasteless. They take on the flavor of whatever they’re cooked with, but they retain the texture of a rice noodle. Plus they’re full of nutrition. They have more than 70 minerals, including potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium and iodine. They also contains enzymes, vitamins, trace elements, and more than 21 amino acids. It’s safe to say they’re really good for you.

So I decided to attempt japchae again, this time with kelp noodles. And it was perfect! It’s safe to say I’ll never go back to sweet potato noodles for this dish again.

Some of the ingredients in the japchae

Kelp Noodle Japchae
Serves 3

Ingredients

  • 1 package kelp noodles
  • 3 Tbsp tamari (gluten free soy sauce)
  • 3-4 Tbsp sesame oil, divided (or more as needed)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped, divided
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 3 green onions, sliced, divided
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds, divided
  • 1-2 boneless organic chicken thighs
  • 1/4 cup carrots, cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 cup shitake mushrooms, sliced (dried are great in this but you have to soak first, you can also use fresh)
  • 1 cup baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 organic cage-free egg, scrambled

Here’s What To Do

  1. Rinse the kelp noodles in cold water.
  2. Boil some water in a large pot, and add the kelp noodles. Cook for 5 minutes and then remove from heat. Let it sit in the hot water until you’re ready to use the noodles.
  3. Meanwhile, combine 2 Tbsp tamari, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1 chopped clove of garlic, the ginger, 1/3 of the chopped green onion, and 1/2 of the sesame seeds in a small bowl.
  4. Slice the chicken thighs into strips, and add to the tamari marinade. Let sit while you slice the carrots, mushrooms and spinach.
  5. After all vegetables have been prepared, heat a tsp of sesame oil in a large frying pan, and add a little of the garlic. Add the chicken and all of its marinade, and stir fry until the meat is cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  6. Remove the meat from the pan and put on a plate.
  7. In the same pan, add another tsp of sesame oil and some garlic, and cook the carrot strips until softened, but still with a bit of crunch left.
  8. Remove the carrots from the pan and put on the plate with the meat.
  9. In the same pan, add another tsp of sesame oil and some garlic, and cook the mushrooms until softened, about 2 minutes.
  10. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and put on the plate with the meat and carrots.
  11. In the same pan, add a bit more sesame oil and garlic, and toss in the spinach. Cook for a minute or so, until wilted.
  12. Remove the spinach from the pan and put on the plate with the meat and vegetables.
  13. Add enough sesame oil to coat the bottom of the pan, and then add the scrambled egg. Tilt the pan to cover the bottom with egg, and allow it to cook in a thin sheet.
  14. When the egg is almost done, use a spatula to break it up into bite sized pieces, and then remove the egg to the plate with the meat and vegetables.
  15. Drain the kelp noodles.
  16. Add another tablespoon of sesame oil and the remaining garlic to the pan, and then add the kelp noodles. Stir-fry for 2 minutes to get up all the pan flavors that have accumulated into the noodles.
  17. Dump the plate of meat, vegetables and egg on top of the noodles, along with the remaining green onion, and stir fry it all together for another 2-3 minutes.
  18. Taste and add another Tbsp of tamari if the flavor needs it.
  19. Sprinkle the top with the remaining sesame seeds, and serve!

Hungry yet?

Have you tried kelp noodles? What did you think of them? How do you like to prepare them? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below!

Roasted Beets and Beet Greens with Dates and Goat Cheese Recipe (Paleo, Vegetarian, Gluten Free)

Do you have a vegetable you’re afraid of? Something you had an unfortunate experience with early on that completely turned you off to the whole institution? There are only a select few like that for me, and beets were near the top of the list.

If memory serves, I’m fairly certain the beets I was exposed to were pickled beets out of a can. I loathed them.

But recently I’ve been seeing more and more recipes with beets, and the nutritional benefits are huge. And I do believe that any vegetable can taste good if cooked properly. So I decided this weekend to pick up a bunch of organic beets, and give it a go.

Beets and their greens

I scrubbed them clean, cut off the greens (and reserved them in a glass of water), and cut them down to a relatively uniform size.

Next I put them in a foil pack with some olive oil, salt and pepper.

I sealed up the edges of the foil and roasted them in a 375 degree F oven for about 45 minutes. Basically, you roast them until you can easily spear them with a fork.

Once they’re done, let them cool enough to handle and then slide the skins off. I didn’t take a picture of this step (because my hands were full of purple beet juice!)

When you’re done, you’ll have a lovely plate of roasted beets. You can eat them like this, or use them in recipes like the Roasted Beets and Beet Greens with Dates and Goat Cheese recipe I’m sharing with you today.

Roasted Beets and Beet Greens with Dates and Goat Cheese
Serves 2 as a side dish

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 2 roasted beets, sliced
  • 1 bunch beet greens, stemmed and chopped into 3-inch pieces
  • 8 dates, sliced
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • 1 oz goat cheese

Here’s What To Do:

  1. Heat some olive oil over low heat in a frying pan. Add the sliced onion and saute about 5 minutes until carmelized and soft.
  2. Add the roasted beet slices, beet greens, and sliced dates, and cook until greens are wilted.
  3. Add salt & pepper to taste.
  4. Remove from heat and add goat cheese. Stir gently.
  5. Serve.

The Verdict: This was a lovely dish that convinced even this non-beet eater that beets can taste good. I think the sweetness of the dates and carmelized onions worked perfectly with the beets and greens, and the goat cheese added a perfect note to the overall dish. Thanks to this, I would make beets again!

What’s your favorite way to enjoy beets? Would love to learn about your favorite recipes in the comments below!

Sweet Potato Black Bean Hash (vegetarian, gluten free)

Canned corned beef hash…Yuck!

When I think of the word “hash” I hearken back to pink stuff that came out of a can with teeny tiny cubes of what I think were potatoes that my mother used to serve with eggs. Yeah…this isn’t that.

I love sweet potatoes. They’re delicious all by themselves. But they are also fantastic as a base for this delicious breakfast dish (that actually could be served at any time of day.)

I also have a bit of a problem when it comes to black beans. We buy cans of black beans by the case (yes I know I could do it with dry beans in my crockpot, but I haven’t gotten myself together enough to do that and properly store them.) I love that they are an amazing protein source that all of my kids will eat and be happy about it.

So it was a natural thing to bring sweet potatoes and black beans together for this dish. Then in keeping with my desire to add as many veggies to each dish as possible I threw some more in. The result was an absolutely beautiful (and totally delicious) hash that I think you’ll love. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Black Bean Hash
Serves 1-2

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 1 baked sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup torn baby spinach leaves
  • 1 Tbsp pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)

Here’s What To Do:

  1. Melt the coconut oil over medium heat in a large frying pan.
  2. Add the chopped onion and bell pepper. Cook and stir over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until fairly soft.
  3. Add the cubed sweet potato to the pan, and cook 2 minutes.
  4. Add the black beans to the pan, and cook 2 minutes more.
  5. Turn off the heat, and add the spinach leaves. Stir until JUST wilted.
  6. Place on plate, and sprinkle with pepitas.
  7. If desired, top with a fried egg.

 

Red Chicken Coconut Curry (Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free)

I originally  gave up bread and refined sugar to lose weight. (Then I started reading…darn the internet!) Since this was (at least originally) primarily about weight loss (and then maintenance) for me, I keep a close eye on the scale. And I find I do best when I make vegetables the foundational element in my diet. Now this doesn’t mean eating salad all the time. But it does mean that I try to incorporate vegetables in all 3 meals a day. In doing so, I get more nutrition, and I find that my weight remains stable.

But wait! you may be saying. Veggies for breakfast? Really? Yep. There are 2 primary ways I do it.

  1. Eggs and Omelettes. This is the easy one. Our favorite omelet is mushrooms, asparagus, spinach, and some cheese. Sometimes I’ll throw in tomatoes.
  2. Smoothies. I giggle inside a little when my son automatically reaches for the baby spinach in the fridge when making his own smoothies. Fruit-based smoothies can include spinach and carrots and, if you use blueberries, you’ll never know they’re there!

I’ve also been known to do a soup for breakfast of broth and veggies. You can throw in rice, protein of your choice, or drizzle in a scrambled egg. If you like things spicy, adding some kimchi is delicious too (and you won’t be able to eat too fast, which ensures you’ll stop when you’re full.)

Here’s a quick and easy recipe full of veggies that my husband RAVED about when I made it. (And don’t let the word “curry” scare you. It’s not spicy at all!) His exact words were “It’s so buttery!” And there’s no butter in it at all!

Red Chicken Coconut Curry

Red Chicken Coconut Curry
This made enough for lunch for 2 adults.

Ingredients

  • 4 oz. raw chicken, cut into strips or bite-sized pieces
  • Salt & pepper (or all purpose seasoning of choice)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • coconut oil
  • 1/2 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp red curry paste (have I mentioned yet how addicted I am to this stuff?)
  • 1 cup cauliflower florettes
  • 1/2 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup prepared brown rice
  • 1 big handful spinach

Here’s What To Do

  1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, or seasoning blend of your choice.
  2. In a saucepan, heat the coconut oil over medium heat.
  3. Press the garlic clove into the oil.
  4. Add the chicken slices and cook until browned on each side.
  5. Add the cauliflower and carrots, and cook for 3 minutes.
  6. Add the coconut milk and red curry paste, and stir gently until well combined.
  7. Cover and let simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Add brown rice and cook for another minute.
  9. Remove from heat and stir in spinach. Stir until just wilted.
  10. Serve!

How do you incorporate veggies into your meals? Please share in the comments!

Jamie Oliver Food Challenge Day #1: Grilled Sesame Chicken Breasts, Sesame Soy String Beans, Steamed Rosemary and Thyme Potatoes

So if you read my last post, you know that I’ve pledged to cook even healthier meals for my family as a result of the Jamie Oliver Food Revolution show on ABC.  So I’m going to be sharing with you some of the meals I’m cooking for my family, in hopes that it will help inspire others to cook healthier too.

My main goals: use fresh ingredients whenever possible, increase the veggies, and reduce the use of processed food.    We are eliminating fried food entirely from our diets.  While we didn’t fry a ton before, my kids ate chicken nuggets when out, and I fried a couple times a month at home.

Here’s tonight’s dinner:

Grilled sesame ginger chicken breasts, sesame soy string beans, and steamed rosemary and thyme potatoes.  It actually was a cynch to make…under 30 minutes, not counting the marinating of the chicken.

For the chicken, I used a Sesame Ginger marinade I had on hand (I would make the marinade myself next time to reduce the sodium, but it was in my cabinet and I wanted to use it up.)  I put it in a ziploc bag with the chicken, and let it marinate for 24 hours.  To cook, I simply put it on my George Foreman grill for a few minutes, until cooked through.

For the string beans, I heated a combination of olive and sesame oil in a pan with a clove of chopped garlic.  Once it was hot, I added the string beans and stir fried quickly.  I added 1/4 cup of water and let cook until the string beans were cooked, yet still slight crisp.  Added a splash of soy sauce, and removed from heat.

For the potatoes, I chopped some regular baking potatoes into even, 1 inch or so chunks (you could also do this with baby new potatoes without chopping.)  I put them in a pan with a little water, covered, and let steam until potatoes were cooked through, about 10-15 minutes.  When done, I tossed the potatoes with a little olive oil, kosher salt, pepper, crushed rosemary, and thyme.  Easy!

I hope that this inspires you to cook some healthier food for your own family.  If it does, please let me know what you’re cooking!  And if you’re blogging about it, feel free to post a link to your meals on your own blog from within the comments.  It would be great to provide a resource of recipes for everyone.

Here’s to a healthier nation!