Sunday, January 24, 2010

Warm Moroccan Nights

Nothing is more wonderful than returning home from a long day of work on a cold and blustery day to the wonderful aroma of dinner cooking away.  A slow cooker is an essential tool in any kitchen especially for those crazy busy days with no time to cook.  I got my slow cooker last Christmas and it's been one of most favorite presents (Thanks Mom)!  With a little planning and prep work, on those busy days you can avoid the "drive thru" and come home to a nutritious, delicious meal.  Even if you don't have a family to feed (I'm a single gal cooking for me, myself, and I), slow cooker leftovers can often be frozen and saved for an emergency lunch or dinner!  Plus nothing is more tasty than a yummy stew seasoned with the tastes of a warm foreign country so I introduce

Moroccan Squash and Spinach Stew.


1 cup chopped carrots (about 3 medium)
1 medium butternut squash cubed (about 2.5 lbs)
5.5 cups shredded spinach
1 cup low sodium veggie broth
4 cloves chopped garlic
14.5 oz can no salt added diced tomatoes
1 tsp cumin ½ tsp cinnamon ½ tsp red pepper flakes
15 oz can no salt added garbanzo beans

1. Peel and chop butternut squash into half inch cubes and place in slow cooker
2. Chop 3 medium carrots (about one cup) and place in slow cooker
3. Chop/shred about 10oz of spinach (equals about 5.5 cups shredded) and place in slow cooker
3. Chop garlic gloves and place in slow cooker
4. Add 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes UNDRAINED to slow cooker
5. Add 1 (or 1.5) cups low sodium vegetable broth to slow cooker
6. Add spices and mix all ingredients
7. Cook on low for 5-6 hours depending on your slow cooker (very difficult to over cook-I cooked mine for almost 8)
8. Add 15 oz can of garbanzo beans and cook on high for five minutes
9.  Season with salt and pepper (I used garlic salt...muwhahahaha-I love garlic)
10. DEVOUR :)

Makes approximately 6 generous 1 cup servings.

Nutritional Stats (from Spark People): 163 calories, 1.6 grams fat, 10 grams fiber, 6.8 grams protein

In the slow cooker (doesn't it look pretty):

Because I'm lazy in the mornings, I chopped everything up the night before and put the pot from my slow cooker in my fridge overnight.  So the next morning, I popped it into the slow cooker and let it cook away while I was at work all day :)  It was a wonderful aroma to come home too especially on a cold, yucky, rainy day.  I put individual servings in containers and tossed them in the freezer so the next time I need a last minute meal-I have yummy stew waiting.

Do you have any good slow cooker recipes that you rely on?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Happiness Within Me

"Find happiness within yourself.  Then share yourself with others."

I love my Yogi tea and it's inspiration messages on the tea bag.  And I found the happiness within me today from my yummy dinner and now I'm sharing the secret of my yummy happiness with you: Cava Mezze Hummus.

I absolutely adore hummus.  I could live on hummus (and popcorn) for the rest of my life and die happy :) Now I'm a hummus snob and when I'm too lazy/tired/busy to make my own hummus there are only certain brands of hummus I purchase.  Typically I purchase Tribe Roasted Red Pepper Hummus or the ultimate "crack" hummus Sabra hummus (especially the Spinach artichoke hummus) BUT one of my fantastic coworkers introduced me to Cava Mezze hummus which is made locally in Rockville, MD (very close to my company's HQ).

This hummus is creamy, flavored to perfection with only a slight tahini aftertaste (I do not like strong tahini tastes in my hummus even though I know it's what defines hummus).  And check out these nutritional stats (per 2 tablespoons): 30 calories, 1 gram fat, 1 gram protein.  It's ingredient list is even more impressive: garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, kosher salt, garlic, and citric acid (I can pronounce all of those)!  This is definitely a case where less (ingredients) is more (taste, awesomeness, health benefits).

Now how do I consume my hummus? The real question is how I don't consume only hummus.  Well tonight I made one of my favorite hummus inspired meals:

Salad beast (hummus, spinach, brocoli slaw, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, balsamic vinegar) & grilled pita with hummus (plus a pear on the side).

I've shared with you the happiness within me (trust me there is plenty of this hummus in me).  Now what are some of your favorite hummus inspired meals? Or brands? Or recipes?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Southwestern Spaghetti Squash

For a long time I was scared of making any dishes involving spaghetti squash.  First, how did I get the noodles?  What would happen if I burnt the squash?  What if I hated the taste?  Finally I convinced myself that 2010 would be the year of eating outside the box and I was going to tackle the Spaghetti Squash.  I created a Southwestern Spaghetti Squash dish that was not only healthy and delicious but very easy with only a few ingredients.  Here's the recipe:

Sarah's Southwestern Spaghetti Squash  

-1 small spaghetti squash (2 cups of "noodles")
-0.5 cup black beans (I used Goya)
-0.5 cup chopped onion
-0.5 cup chopped mushrooms
-0.5 cup salsa (I used mild-but super spicy foods do not agree with my tummy)
-0.5 tsp taco seasoning

1. Chop spaghetti squash in half. Place squash cut side down in a baking pan filled with an inch of water. Roast squash at 400 F for 45-50 minutes.

2. Remove spaghetti squash from oven and use a fork to make "spaghetti noodles".  Place spaghetti squash noodles in a strainer.

3. Chop mushroom and onion. Spray a skillet with cooking spray and saute onion/mushrooms for  a minute or two.  Add the black beans and taco seasoning.

4.  Add 2 cups of spaghetti squash "noodles" to the skillet.  Saute for another two minutes.

5.  Turn off the stove and place contents of skillet on a plate.  Add 0.5 cup of salsa and mix.

6. Devour!!

It took all my self control not eat this dish in five seconds!  The salsa and taco seasoning added just enough spice to my veggies and black beans.  This dish is easy and very adaptable to individual tastes (and fridge contents).  A combination of red peppers and cilantro could be yummy :) Plus if you like super spicy, add some red pepper flakes and/or chili powder.

Here are the nutritional stats (from Spark People): 249 calories, 1.9 grams fat, 14.3 grams fiber, 12.7 grams protein.

Have you ever tried spaghetti squash?  If so what, are you favorite recipes??  Plus do you have any food resolutions for 2010?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Decade, New Recipes

Happy 2010!  

It's a new year ( and a new decade)!  I believe in New Year's Resolutions but not unrealistic ones like going from never working out to running 5 miles everyday (or losing twenty pounds in a week).  I like resolutions that challenge me without being completely unattainable so I don't feel guilty for not accomplishing my resolutions.  This year one of my resolutions is to cook more often with different recipes incorporating different ingredients.  I love to cook so the actual "cooking" process will be relaxing.  However, I get lazy when it comes to finding recipes and purchasing the ingredients and taking the time to cook a new dish.  Plus the majority of recipes are 4+ serving size (I only feed me) and I'm scared of eating leftovers for the two weeks or wasting food.

BUT those are just excuses!  I can halve a recipe, I can modify a recipe with ingredients I have/like, and if I'm willing to wait thirty minutes to cook lentils I can take that time to prep/cook a new dish.

So I decided to attempt a soup recipe that my mother emailed me: Spinach-Tomato Soup.  Not the most challenging or different from my normal produce packed salads but at least I'm cooking (and not dumping a can of Amy's soup on the stove).  And I also attempted baking my own vegan whole wheat rolls to dip in my soup.

Spinach-Tomato Soup
(About 8 servings)

  • 10 oz. bag of baby spinach
  • 15 oz. can of no salt added diced tomatoes
  • 2 medium celery stalks, chopped (I strongly dislike celery unless its smothered in peanut butter so I didn't use it but definitely include it if you like it)
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped (I used about 15 baby carrots)
  • 1 large onion, choppped
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (low sodium)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 TBSP basil (dried)
  • 1 tsp oregano (dried)
  • 0.5 tsp red pepper flakes
  1. Toss all ingredients into a 4+ quart slow cooker
  2. Cook on high for 5 hours 
  3. Remove bay leaves
  4. Enjoy!
Nutritional Stats based on 8 servings  (using Spark People recipe calculator, 2 medium carrots, 2 medium stalks of celery): 41.1 calories, 0.3 grams fat, 2.3 grams fiber, 1.9 grams protein

Healthy Vegan Whole Wheat Rolls
(Approximately 8 rolls)

  • 0.5 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 0.5 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/8th tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp parsley (dried)
  • 1 tsp thyme (dried)
  • 0.5 tsp rosemary (dried)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth (low sodium)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  2. Mix dry ingridents in one bowl (flour, salt, baking powder, parsley, thyme, rosemary)
  3. Mix dry ingredients in one bowl (vegetable broth, applesauce)
  4. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients
  5. Spray a baking sheet with no stick spray (or cover in foil-less cleanup)
  6. Using two spoons (very sticky batter) place batter balls on baking sheet (whatever size you'd like)
  7. Bake for ten minutes (check them often to prevent burned rolls)
  8. Enjoy!
Nutritional Stats based on 8 servings (using Spark People recipe calculator): 59.7 calories, 0.3 grams fat, 2.2 grams fiber, 1.8 grams protein

Final Product

YUM!   I added a 1/4th cup cooked lentils to my serving of soup (I ate about a fourth of entire recipe).  I cooked the lentils while the soup was bubbling away in my crockpot and dump them in after I served my portion of soup.  I believe that you could add 1-2 cups of uncooked lentils (or other protein) to the soup ingredients to make it a more substantial meal.  The rolls were delicious (especially dipped in the soup) and I managed to display some self control and only eat one.  Next time I make the recipe I might play with a different combination of spices (adjust to your personal taste) and of course I was singing Scarborough Fair while baking the rolls.  I personally think the rolls ended up looking like whole wheat savory cookies but tasted delicious (might add some more baking powder and use a muffin tin next time).

Not a bad start to New Year's resolution.  I'm going to try to make one new recipe a week (and post my results on the blog) but I'm not making any absolute promises (another resolution: relax and enjoy food and not treat cooking/eating as a chore).  Maybe I'll make this recipe sometime this week.

Do you have any New Year's Resolutions?  Or any recipes you want to share with me?  Or tips for healthy, single serving, vegetarian food?