We make roasted vegetables all the time. They’re easy to prepare and take good advantage of the produce that we receive weekly from our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share. I introduce a little variety in the meal by varying the sauce. Here’s one of my favorites.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon molasses
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

Mix all of the ingredients except the peanut butter in a blender and puree until smooth. Add the creamy peanut butter and process until smooth.

peanut sauce
Peanut sauce straight from the blender…
veggies with peanut sauce
… then drizzled over mixed vegetables.

Here’s another absolutely delicious salmon recipe that takes very little time to prepare.

Ingredients:

  • salmon with asparagus, peas, and capers20-24 ounces salmon fillets
  • 1 pound asparagus, tough stems trimmed, stalks sliced into 1/2″ pieces and tips left whole
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, to taste
  • 1 cup thawed frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Heat oven to 450˚F. Rub salmon fillet(s) all over with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place skin side down on a lightly greased baking dish. Roast until cooked through, 8-12 minutes depending on thickness. (Note: We often use the microwave on the thicker portion for ~1 minute if not fully cooked.)

While the salmon cooks, add olive oil to a large skillet and sauté the asparagus for 3 minutes on medium-high heat. Transfer asparagus to a plate.

Reduce heat to medium and add butter to skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, until foam subsides and butter is a deep, golden brown. Turn off heat and stir in lemon juice, capers, peas, and asparagus. Season with salt and pepper.

Place a generous portion of vegetables on the plate and top with a slice of cooked salmon fillet. If desired, garnish with parsley and lemon wedges.

While we typically follow a whole food plant based diet, we enjoy the occasional meat, poultry, or fish meal. Salmon finds its way on the menu as a function of a friend who makes an annual sojourn to Alaska to catch wild salmon. We reap the benefits of his efforts with a few choice filets.

Wild salmon is one of the best sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. These fats promote heart and brain health, reduce inflammation, control blood sugar, and improve circulation and memory. Wild salmon also packs a protein punch – roughly 6 grams per ounce.

I always opt for wild salmon when I indulge in a tasty filet. It gets its brilliant pink color from eating krill and shrimp. Farmed salmon eat grain, which inhibits production of Omega 3s and confers a grayish color to the filets. Farmers use dye to get their products to pink up.

With just two of us at the dinner table, I decided to bake a nice-sized filet in our toaster oven. (Why waste all the energy firing up the main oven?) I set the salmon skin-side down on a buttered baking dish. I squeezed fresh lemon juice over the filet and brushed it with melted butter. I sprinkled flour, smoked paprika, and a little sea salt over the top. I baked it for ~14 minutes at 350˚F and then broiled it for a minute.

baked wild salmon
Ready to go into the toaster oven.
refried bean quesadilla
Ready to serve with mixed vegetables.

To finish out the meal, I microwaved some mixed vegetables and – Voila! – dinner was served. Super easy, super healthy, and delicious.

roasted veggiesOur Winter Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has helped us get in the habit of eating vegetables that are in season. As a result, we find ourselves feasting on Roasted Vegetables quite often. While the basic preparation stays the same, the contents vary as a function of what our wonderful farmers harvest. This week featured boro beets, satina potatoes, and delicata squash with the nutritional dense outer rind left on.

I’ll confess that to make things interesting, I like to make a tasty squash to pour over our vegetables. Homemade curry tops my list.

Ingredients:

Olive oil
2 large red peppers (or a red and an orange one) diced
2-6 jalapeño peppers diced, to taste
4 cups vegetable broth
2 or more tablespoons grated fresh ginger
6 or more garlic cloves finely chopped
2 tablespoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground caraway seed
1 can (13½ ounce) unsweetened coconut milk
Cayenne pepper and salt

Directions:

  1. Heat some oil in a large skillet; add the peppers, chilies, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne. Sauté over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add vegetable broth, as needed, to moisten the pan.
  2. Add the ginger, garlic, and spices and sauté for about 5 minutes. Then add the remaining vegetable broth and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  3. Decant the curry into a blender and puree until smooth. Add the coconut milk and blend everything together.

roasted veggiesI typically microwave some broccoli and/or cauliflower to go along with the roasted vegetables. I like them al dente, and roasting often makes them too mushy while the other vegetables cook through. (Yes, I could add them to the roasting pan after the other vegetables have cooked for a while, but it’s just easier to do it my way!) Anyway, I assemble my meal by lining the bottom of the bowl with broccoli and/or cauliflower, followed by the roasted vegetables, and then covered in curry. Delicious!

Today’s lunch required a measure of culinary creativity, a skill that I’d like to cultivate. I found myself with two small, rapidly-aging heads of bok choy and some comparably geriatric broccoli crowns. As I keep tempeh on hand, I thought the three ingredients ought to get acquainted.

stir fried tempeh, broccoli, and bok choyI started by creating a marinade with the following ingredients:

1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
6 smallish cloves garlic, also minced
1 tablespoon sesame oil

I chopped an onion and sautéed it in extra virgin olive oil with broken-up pieces from a package of tempeh. After about 5 minutes, I added the broccoli crowns and some of the marinade to the mix. After another 5-10 minutes, I added the boy choy and the remaining marinade and continued to stir fry the concoction until everything was cooked through.

The resulting dish packs a punch nutritionally. As a soy product, tempeh is a complete protein, which means it contains all of the essential amino acids. Broccoli is a rich source of vitamins C and K and contains moderate amounts of several B vitamins and the dietary mineral manganese. Bok choy is a good source of vitamins A, C, and K and contains respectable amounts of folate, vitamin B6, and calcium.

Best yet: This dish only dirties one pan and a cutting board. Fast clean up!

As a general rule, I really enjoy cooking. It’s especially gratifying when I can invite friends over and share fellowship over a delicious meal. But now that we’ve been in COVID-19 quarantine for 7 months, my enthusiasm for this activity has waned. So, I’ve looked for ways to create an easy-peasy, healthy meal that gives me a break from kitchen duty. A quesadilla with a side of fresh veggies does the trick!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 package of tortillas: Use gluten-free if you’re gluten-sensitive. I generally use a corn-flour blend.
  • 1 can refried beans: We use either the Wild Harvest organic vegetarian refried beans or their organic refried black beans.)
  • 1 package of shredded cheese: We use Miyoko’s Creamery Pepper Jack cultured vegan cheese; it’s the tastiest of the vegan cheese that we’ve sampled. (Check out nutritionfacts.org and search for “dairy” to see why we prefer vegan over dairy cheese.)
  • Broccoli florets
  • Salsa
refried bean quesadilla
Ready to go into the microwave.
refried bean quesadilla
Ready to eat with steamed broccoli and salsa.

Place the broccoli in a glass container with  a small amount of water on the bottom. Cover and cook in the microwave for ~3-4 minutes until just cooked. You may need to experiment with timing on your microwave to vary cooking time based on the quantity of broccoli you’re cooking and the relative strength of your microwave. You want your al dente broccoli, not mushy broccoli. Set aside when finished.

While the broccoli is cooking, lay your tortilla flat on a microwave-proof plate and spread 1/4 can of the refried beans on the top. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Microwave until the cheese melts. (It takes about a minute in our microwave.)

Add a little salsa to the cooked quesadilla and fold it in half. (Note: If the salsa has been in the refrigerator, add some to the quesadilla about halfway through cooking to heat it up.) Place some broccoli florets on the side and add some salsa to the top of the quesadilla and broccoli.

Enjoy!

fava beans in the podMy husband and I signed up for a share in Love Farm’s Community Supported Agriculture program this Spring. Every Monday afternoon from June through mid-October, this share entitles us to receive 8-10 servings of farm-fresh vegetables. Of course, week-to-week, we never quite know what we’re going to get.

Fava beans arrived a couple of weeks ago. Until Dr. Hannibal Lector’s infamous line in The Silence of the Lambs (i.e., “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”), I’d never even heard of them. I’ve since made a few recipes with dried fava beans, but I’d never had my hands on the real deal right off the vine… until now.

I was smart enough to know that the beans had to be liberated from their pods. Then, I consulted good old Google. I learned that I needed to drop the little darlings into boiling, salty water for one minute. Then, I drained the hot water and put the beans in ice water to stop the cooking process. Finally, I removed the tough outer skin to reveal the vibrant green beans. Yep – it’s a bit time-consuming, but you can always check out The Silence of the Lambs while doing it!

fava beans
Fava beans right out of the pod.
fava beans
Fava beans after they’ve been boiled and peeled.

Now I was ready to actually make something! Here are the details:

Make a Smoky-Maple Sauce in a small bowl using 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup vegetable broth, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 1 tablespoon liquid smoke, 1 tablespoon lemon (or lime) juice, 1 tablespoon tomato paste (or Thai Red Curry paste), and 3-4 cloves finely chopped garlic, and set it aside. (Note: If you really like the sauce, you can up the recipe by 50%.)

fava beans in the podChop an onion and sauté in oil until translucent, about 5-8 minutes.

Add boiled, peeled fava beans and sauté for an additional 2-3 minutes. Pour in the Smoky-Maple Sauce.

Add 1 good-sized bunch of fresh kale with ribs removed and leaves torn into small pieces. Continue cooking until the leaves wilt.

Serve immediately.

The resulting dish is high in nutritional content and quite delicious!

I love to eat a great, big salad for lunch. It’s a great opportunity to score a good chunk of my daily 5-7 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables while keeping me sated throughout the long afternoon.

healthy saladWhile I don’t follow a specific recipe, I choose vegetables with vibrant colors – e.g., diced bell peppers (usually red, yellow, or orange), shredded carrots, shredded purple cabbage, multi-colored kale pieces, and chopped tomatoes. If I’ve got them, I’ll add blueberries to the mix. Bright colors signal the presence of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals like carotenes, polyphenols, flavonoids, and anthocyanidins. These ingredients are also jam-packed with insoluble fiber that helps food move through the digestive track.

I typically use beans as a protein source, though I’ll add whole grains if I have leftovers with no other use. Beyond their gaggle of nutrients, these items provide soluble fiber that supports healthy digestion and feeds the good bacteria in the gut.

If I haven’t had my tablespoon of ground flax seeds in my morning oatmeal, I’ll add it to the salad. Flax seeds are a great source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids that aid in the absorption of vitamins A, D, and E, all essential for immune health.

I make my own salad dressing. It takes very little time and avoids ingestion of all the chemicals, sugar, and fat that the commercial brands contain. Again, I don’t really follow a recipe other than to combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a generous squirt of brown spicy mustard, and a splash of agave nectar. We lean a little heavily on the balsamic vinegar to provide ample coverage without adding calories.

By including a wide variety of plant foods in my salad, I’ve bolstered my immune system’s ability to respond to viruses and other pathogens that seek to make a home in my body. And, of course, I’ve delighted my taste buds while I’m at it!

While we don’t eat beef often, this recipe has been in our “standard rotation” of dinners for years. It’s delicious and ridiculously easy to make. The secret to success entails getting a really good piece of meat – preferably one with a bit of marbling to ensure the end result is tender and juicy.

Pot Roast1 (2½- to 3-pound) boneless beef roast
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 (12-ounce) bottle of beer or apple juice
2-3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 (16-ounce) jar Pace mild salsa
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced (optional)

  1. Trim visible fat away from roast. Place it in a crock pot. Add beer (or apple juice), sugar, and salsa.
  2. Cook and cover on high 3 to 4 hours. Add potatoes during last 90 minutes of cooking.
  3. Remove beef from pot and let stand for ~5-10 minutes before carving.
  4. Serve beef with potatoes and generous helping of sauce.

Here’s another one of our favorite recipes to serve for dinner guests. It’s takes very little preparation, tastes absolutely delicious, and cooks in one pot!

Asian Shrimp Pasta1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons hot chili oil
3/4 pound thin spaghetti
1/2 pound green beans, stem ends and strings removed
1 pound (51 to 60 per pound) fresh shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

  1. Pour 2½ to 3 quarts water into a stock pot and bring to a boil over high heat.
  2. Meanwhile, make the dressing by mixing soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, and chili oil.
  3. When water boils, stir in pasta. Cook, uncovered, 6-7 minutes.  Stir in green beans and shrimp.  Cook until pasta is just tender to bite and shrimp are pink, about 1-2 minutes longer.  Drain well.
  4. Return pasta mixture to pot. Add dressing, cilantro, and green onions and mix thoroughly. Sprinkle with nuts.  Serves 4-5.