Lentil and Sweet Potato Chili

Monday.  Let me tell you guys something…it is even harder to get excited about Mondays when you spent a weekend away in Las Vegas with friends.  Add to that the fact that it’s been raining all day and well let’s just say I was feeling cozy and lazy today.

Lentil and Sweet Potato Chili

This weekend was filled with pool time (think 80s and sunny), a few adult beverages, some gambling, lots of dancing, and even more laughter.  Seriously, I feel like Seattle and the relationships I have developed out here feel more like home every day :)  They say surround yourself with those on the same mission as you.   A room full of passionate, ambitious, young, and adventure-seeking humans… makes for one epic vacation.

Lentil and Sweet Potato Chili

Well now I am home, cozied up to a nice warm cup of green tea, reflecting on the weekend, and sharing this twist on chili with you.  I needed some veggies in my life, but with this rainy weather I wanted some comfort food.  Drum roll please…VEGAN CHILI.  I decided to avoid beans in this chili and stray even further from the traditional chili recipe.  Mainly because lentils are packed with fiber and protein and are a legume so they replace the beans that you normally find in chili.  If you really are craving that beany taste, feel free to add a can of rinsed kidney or black beans.   I kept my batch on the sweeter side (corn and sweet potatoes) and added heat and freshness by topping each serving with pickled jalapeño slices and cilantro.  This is a great hearty dish that will warm your soul.

Lentil and Sweet Potato Chili

As always,

Bon Appeteek

More nutritional tidbits about lentils: high in folate, thiamine, phosphorous, and iron.  I was shocked when I found out that Canada is the largest exporter of lentils in the world…who would have thought?!?!

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4-6

The Players: 

1/2 red onion, diced
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed (2 cups of cubed sweet potato)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 green bell pepper, diced
14.5 oz can  stewed mexican style tomatoes
1 C green whole lentils, rinsed
1 C frozen corn
3 C water (additional water if needed to thin out the chili)
1 vegetable bouillon cube
1 heaping T ground cumin
2 t chili powder
1/2 t smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste

The Rules: 

  1. In a dutch oven, over medium high heat warm 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil.  Cook onion, celery, and sweet potato for ~5 minutes, until sweet potato starts to brown/soften and onion is translucent.
  2. Add bell pepper and garlic and sauté an additional 1-2 minutes.
  3. Combine the remaining ingredients in the dutch oven and bring to a rolling boil.  Cover dutch oven with lid and reduce heat to medium-low.  Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add additional water if desired and adjust seasonings to taste.  Remove from heat and allow the chili to cool for 10 minutes before serving.  Serve warm with fresh cilantro and pickled jalapeños.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

I love snacking.  I am pretty much a professional grazer.  I eat every 2-3 hours and constantly am perusing the grocery store for my next snack choice.  A snack connoisseur if you will.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Hummus.  Now this is a snack I get down with every week.  I figure why purchase store-bought hummus, when you can make a healthier version in less than 5 minutes.   You can also make any flavor you want.   Avocado, eggplant, olive, pesto, jalapeno are just a few I have toyed with.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

I will usually use garbanzo beans (chickpeas); however, white bean hummus has an amazing creamy texture.  Here’s a white bean recipe for you: https://bonappeteek.com/2014/10/12/reduced-guilt-hummus/

You can store the hummus in an air-tight container in the refrigerator, but it doesn’t last more than a day when Andrew joins me in snack mode.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

As always,

Bon Appeteek

The Players: 

15.5 oz can 50% less sodium garbanzo beans, rinsed
1 roasted red pepper (I use Trader Joe’s fire-roasted red peppers)
1/8 C extra virgin olive oil
2 t ground cumin
juice of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves
salt and pepper

The Rules: 

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth, creamy consistency.  (Note: you can leave the hummus chunkier if you would like)

10-Minute Broccoli and Tomatoes

When people ask me my favorite vegetable, I have a hard time narrowing it down (yes, people have actually asked me this question…I’m that cool).  In general, I have a hard time picking food on a menu.  Curse of a not-picky-eater.  I think I get at least one eye roll when I go out to eat with friends or Andrew.  Despite countless hours (no exaggeration) perusing menus prior to eating out, I rarely know what I want to order at a restaurant.

10-Minute Broccoli and Tomatoes

It usually goes like this: 

Other person: “Do you know what you want?”
Me: “I don’t know, I’ve narrowed it down to about 5 things.”
Other person: [first eye roll]
Waitress: “Are you guys ready to order?”
Me: [panic-stricken face] “Ummmmmmmmmm, well what are your favorite things on the menu”
Waitress: [Lists off a few favorites, none of which I had noticed previously]
Other person: [second or third eye roll]
Me: “Okay, I’ve narrowed it down to [item A] and [item B]…surprise me”
Other person: [third or fourth eye roll]

This is the curse of loving all food, wanting to try the entire menu, reason why I love tapas restaurants.

So after all is said and done, when I cook at home I try to create recipes that are flavorful and simple.  Flavor does not have to come at a price, high-calorie load, or a lot of fuss for that matter.  This recipe is the perfect example.  Minimal ingredients.  Low-calorie.  Bursting with flavor.  Nutritious combination.  Broccoli is high in Vitamin C, Fiber, and cancer-fighting properties, while tomatoes, provide additional Vitamin C and antioxidants.  This is a great side dish to add to any protein main or to just chow down on as a snack.

10-Minute Broccoli and Tomatoes

P.S. still not sure what my favorite veggie is, but broccoli sure is up there on the list.

As always,

Bon Appeteek

Prep time: 0 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4

The Players: 

12 oz broccoli florets, rinsed
10.5 oz cherub tomatoes, rinsed (alternatively any cherry or grape tomatoes)
1 T worcestershire sauce
1-2 t garlic powder (alternatively 2 garlic cloves, minced)
1/2 t dried chili flakes
optional sea salt and cracked pepper

The Rules: 

  1. Over medium-high heat, in a medium-sized skillet coated with non-stick cooking spray, sauté broccoli florets and worcestershire sauce for 3-5 minutes.
  2. Reduce heat to medium and add the tomatoes, garlic, and chili flakes to the skillet.  Cook an additional 3-5 minutes until tomatoes are heated, but not bursting.
  3. Adjust seasoning and add salt and pepper if desired.  Serve warm. (Note: I did not add salt and pepper)

30-Minute Vegan Fried Quinoa

Fried rice.  This is my ultimate comfort food.  My dad aka “The Big Guy” makes THE. BEST. FRIED. RICE.  His is loaded with rice, butter, chicken, seafood, veggies, and soy sauce.  It is probably the guiltiest fried rice I have ever tasted.  This was my request every time I came home from college.  Which is ironic because in college, I enjoyed Philly cheese steaks or chinese take-out at least once a week.  That pint of fried rice was necessary to survive mid-terms, finals, and countless late night study sessions.

30-Minute Vegan Fried Quinoa

Fast-forward to 2015 and the more health-conscious me… I have created something pretty fantastic.  Probably the skinniest twist on fried rice that is out there.  This recipe is nutritious, filling, and ready in less than 30 minutes.  It is also packed with flavor.

30-Minute Vegan Fried Quinoa

The quinoa is an amazing substitute for rice.  Quinoa hold its texture quite nicely and provides the perfect foundation for this dish.  Tofu as the scrambled egg substitute is another awesome food swap.  Tofu has a similar consistency to eggs and takes on the flavor of whatever you cook it in –in this case coconut oil, ginger, chili paste, and soy sauce…YUM!  I added in the veggies I had on hand, but you could toss in broccoli, carrots, scallions, etc. to switch up the flavors and textures.  If you have kimchi at home I would toss that in too!  Put a little Korean twist on the dish.

30-Minute Vegan Fried Quinoa

If you have not cooked with quinoa or tofu before, this is the perfect dish to experiment with the ingredients.  Your taste buds will not be disappointed :)

As always,

Bon Appeteek

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4-6

The Players: 

For the quinoa
1 C red quinoa (alternatively white quinoa)
1 1/4 C vegetable stock

For the fried quinoa 
1 T coconut oil (alternatively butter, if opting for vegetarian)
2 t ground fresh chili paste
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 T freshly minced ginger
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced (alternatively green bell pepper)
4 oz crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 package extra firm tofu, drained and sliced
1 C frozen corn
1 C frozen petite peas
3-4 T low sodium soy sauce

The Rules: 

  1. Place the quinoa and and vegetable stock in a medium-sized stock pot.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, place lid on pot and cook for 15-20 minutes.
  2. While the quinoa is cooking prepare the remaining ingredients:
    1. Chop/mince the produce.
    2. In a large wok or sauté pan, over medium-high heat, melt the coconut oil.  Add chili paste, ginger, garlic, onion and cook for ~3 minutes.
    3. Add the pepper and mushroom, cooking for 5 minutes until vegetables are slightly tender.  Transfer the vegetables to a plate and set aside.
    4. In the same pan, scramble the tofu, cooking for 3-5 minutes.
    5. Combine the vegetables you set aside with the scrambled tofu, frozen corn, and peas.
    6. Transfer the quinoa to the pan with the tofu-vegetable mixture.  Season with soy sauce to desired saltiness.  Serve warm with optional Sriracha drizzled on top.

Skinny Carrot Cake Cookies

Skinny Carrot Cake Cookies

To appease all the cookie lovers out there that are staying true to their New Year’s resolutions I have the perfect, healthy alternative to carrot cake…enter skinny carrot cake cookies.

This recipe is dedicated to my friend Erica: fellow pharmer (that’s nerd for pharmacist), fitness fanatic, and carrot cake connoisseur.  I thought I loved carrot cake, but man this girl is what you might call obsessed with carrot cake.  Erica is also the most dedicated runner I know and will brave the Wisconsin winters to train for marathons outdoors.  She even qualified for the Boston Marathon this year…”You go Glen CoCo!”  (Yes, that was a Mean Girls reference)  I can guarantee that Erica will be enjoying a big slice of carrot cake post-marathon.  Who’s counting calories when you’re burning thousands?!?!

Skinny Carrot Cake Cookies

I will be honest and say that this recipe is not as decadent as the real deal.  I chose to exclude a cream cheese frosting, since I wanted to keep these on the light side.  Also, cookies sans frosting = minimal mess = happy me.  I can grab a cookie (or handful) for breakfast, as a snack, or as dessert when I am running from place to place.  But don’t you worry, these cookies are packed with flavor: fresh grated carrots, cinnamon, ginger, honey, apple sauce, and oats.  They also stay soft and chewy, which is a requirement in my cookie-making kitchen!

Skinny Carrot Cake Cookies

I decided to top the cookies with some organic coconut flakes to add a little extra flare and flavor, but you can always splurge and drizzle on some cream cheese frosting.  I promise I won’t tell anyone ;)

Skinny Carrot Cake Cookies

As always,

Bon Appeteek

Recipe slightly adapted from Amy’s Healthy Baking’s Carrot Cake Oatmeal Cookies

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 12 minutes
Servings: 14-18 cookies

The Players: 

Wet Ingredients: 
2 medium carrots, peeled and grated (~1 C grated carrot)
1/3 C unsweetened apple sauce
1/3 to 1/2 C organic honey (alternatively maple syrup or agave)
2 1/2 T coconut oil, melted

Dry Ingredients: 
1 T ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground ginger
1 C quick oats
3/4 C whole wheat flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/8 t salt

optional: organic coconut flakes for topping

The Rules: 

  1. Combine carrots, apple sauce, coconut oil, and honey in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients, except the coconut flakes, in a small bowl.
  3. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients with the wet ingredient.  Stir until well combined, but do not over mix the batter.  Refrigerate the batter for at least 15 minutes. (Note: this will allow the oatmeal to absorb some of the wet ingredient and will make the dough easier to work with)
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 F while your cookie batter is setting in the refrigerator.  Spray a cookie sheet with coconut cooking spray.
  5. Drop 1 tbsp of the cookie batter, shaped into rounds and slightly flattened, on cookie sheet.  Space the cookies at least an inch apart.
  6. Top each cookie with a sprinkle of coconut flakes and gently press the coconut onto the cookie surface so it sticks.   Bake for 12 minutes.
  7. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.  Once the cookies are completely cooled, transfer to an air-tight container and store at room temperature.