Baked Green Falafel with Three Dipping Sauces Recipe

Baked Green Falafel with Three Dipping Sauces Recipe

Make this easy baked green falafel, packed with tons of herbs and pistachios! I serve them with three different dipping sauces for you indecisive folks - a spicy harissa tomato sauce, a creamy tahini yogurt, and a green herb chutney, along with pita bread. Vegan and gluten free too. 

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Spicy Hummus Pasta with Roasted Eggplant

A tub of hummus, a seasonal veggie and pasta is all you need to make this spicy hummus with roasted eggplant! Tastes like baba ganoush in pasta form! 

Hum. MUS. What is it good for? Absolutely everything

But really, it is. And I think this hummus pasta proves it.

Do you have pasta in your house? Of course. What about hummus? Duh, always. Some kind of seasonal veggie that likes to hang out in a hot oven and get all sweet and tender and caramelized? Darn it, you should! Because that’s really all you need to create this crazy delish and crazy easy dinner.

This pasta was the result of one of those days you come home, realize you didn’t plan anything for dinner and just can’t seem to drag yourself to the grocery store. Although my unreasonable fear of throwing away food has made me a pro at meal planning, sometimes I think my best creations come from days like this.

To make the sauce, I used Sabra's supremely spicy hummus. It creates a creamy, spicy and flavorful sauce that perfectly coats the pasta. Roasted eggplant takes on this buttery, melt in your mouth consistency. When the two combine, it kind of tastes like baba ganoush pasta! Not a bad thing as all my fellow baba ganoush lovers can surely attest.

What’s cool about this dish is that you can easily switch it up with different flavors of hummus and vegetables. Here’s some ideas:

Lemon hummus + roasted asparagus + peas + goat cheese

Jalapeno hummus + halved cherry tomatoes + roasted zucchini rounds

Horseradish hummus + smoked salmon + tomatoes + capers

Roasted garlic hummus + roasted zucchini + sun dried tomatoes

Olive hummus + spinach + oven roasted tomatoes

Possibilities = endless

Spicy Hummus Pasta with Roasted Eggplant

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1 medium eggplant, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium zucchini, grated on the large holes of a cheese grater
  • 12 ounces whole grain spaghetti
  • 1 10-ounce tub of spicy hummus
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons basil, chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss eggplant with olive oil and spread evenly on a baking sheet. Place in the oven and roast 25-30 minutes until tender and lightly browned.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti according to package instructions. Reserve 1/3 cup salty cooking water. Drain and set aside.
  3. While pasta is cooking, heat remaining teaspoon of olive oil in a large skillet. Add shredded zucchini and saute until tender and lightly golden, about 7 minutes.
  4. Toss pasta with hummus, thinning with reserved cooking water. Toss in zucchini and eggplant. Serve garnished with cilantro, scallion and basil.

More hummus friendly recipes:

Pita with Yogurt Chickpeas and Muhammara
Pita with Yogurt Chickpeas and Muhammara
Chickpea Hummus Salad Sandwiches
Chickpea Hummus Salad Sandwiches
Hummus Smorrebrod
Hummus Smorrebrod
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Pita with Yogurt Chickpeas and Muhammara

This whole grain pita with yogurt chickpeas and muhammara is packed with fresh Middle Eastern flavors! 

Don't get me wrong. I love hummus. But sometimes it's necessary to switch things up. A few months ago, I stumbled on muhammara at Trader Joe's. I'd seen recipes for the Middle Eastern red pepper and walnut dip, but never tried it. It's deep red color and pretty package were calling me, so in my cart it went!

Holy smokes guys. Go out and grab some muhammara immediately! It's got a rich, deep and slightly smoky flavor that's enhanced with a bit of tart sweetness from pomegranate molasses. Spread on a piece of warm whole grain pita, it's pretty much perfect.

Actually, I take that back. Spooned into a warm whole grain pita along with creamy chickpeas with yogurt and crunchy vegetables, now that's perfect!

If you're packing this for lunch, you might want to pack the chickpeas and yogurt separately because the yogurt might make the pita soggy. The pita and muhammara would also make a great base for my green falafel or bulgur and lamb kofte

If you don't have a Trader Joe's or other store that sells muhammara, this recipe from The New York Times looks pretty simple.

Chickpea and Yogurt Salad Pita with Muhammara

Makes 4

Ingredients

Chickpeas:

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon dijon
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus zest from 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

Pitas:

  • 4 100% whole grain pitas
  • 8 ounces prepared muhammara, or 1 cup homemade
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1/2 cucumber, halved lengthwise and cut into thin half moons
  • 4 cups salad greens
  • 2-3 ounces crumbled goat cheese

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, mix together chickpeas and red onion, Add yogurt, dijon, parsley, lemon juice, zest, and smoked paprika. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Warm pitas in a toaster until lightly toasted, or microwave 20 seconds. Cut pitas in half and open each half to make a pocket. Spoon 2 tablespoons muhammara into each pita half and spread evenly. Stuff with salad greens, carrot, cucumber and spoon in 1/8th of the chickpea mixture. Sprinkle in goat cheese and serve.

More pita friendly recipes:

Zucchini Chickpea Balls
Zucchini Chickpea Balls
Lentil Veggie Balls
Lentil Veggie Balls
Baked Green Falafel with Three Dipping Sauces
Baked Green Falafel with Three Dipping Sauces

Good Mood Food: Homemade Preserved Lemons

Preserved lemons add a bright, citrus flavor to Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes. Save money by making them at home! 

Yellow is the happiest color. There’s a reason the smiley face, the best cartoon characters, and the sun are all yellow. Okay, maybe that last one has more to do with wavelength frequency, but you get my point. Science has even confirmed it.

Plus, it's my favorite color :)

For appearance alone, I'd call lemons a good mood food. If I was on top of my interior decorating game, I'd always have a big bowl of lemons in an olive wood bowl on the counter. Lemons brighten your food and your mood!

In the case of lemons, the outside gives us a clue to what's on the inside, because lemons are packed with mood boosting nutrients. Vitamin C is most associated with lemons and other citrus fruit. Important for immune function and healthy skin, researchers are starting to untangle important functions vitamin C has in the brain. One study found people felt less stressed when subjected to a stressor after receiving vitamin C supplements. Also, animal studies found vitamin C lowers levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.

Lemons are also a rich source of a group of flavonoids that can cross the blood-brain barrier, where they reduce inflammation, repair damage and promote the formation of new connections between neurons. One of those flavonoids, hesperetin, binds to opioid receptors in the brain, the same receptors affected by drugs like heroin, which is responsible for the feelings of euphoria.

Of course, lemon juice is a great way to add a hit of acid and fresh flavor to dishes, but I love to use the zest too - that's where most of the phytonutrients hang out! With preserved lemons, you get the benefits of the whole fruit. Brining lemons in salt removes the bitter flavor so they taste less tart and more citrusy.

You can buy preserved lemons at most well stocked grocery stores or order online, but it's so much more fun and cheaper to make your own! Plus, these jars look so pretty on your counter and just as happy inducing as that olive wood bowl full of lemons!

Preserved lemons are most commonly used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food, but once you've tasted them, you'll want to throw them in everything! Here's some of my favorite uses:

Would love to hear how you end up using them in the comments below!

Preserved Lemons

Adapted from Jamie Oliver's Food Escapes

Ingredients

  • 10 small, unwaxed lemons
  • 3/4 cup sea salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 sprig rosemary

Instructions

  1. Sterilize 1 large quart mason jar (I used two smaller mason jars) by placing them in a 225 degree oven for 20 minutes. Carefully remove from the oven using tongs and set aside until ready to use.
  2. Squeeze the juice from 5 of the lemons, discard the peels and set the juice aside. In the other 5 lemons, cut a deep cross in the top of each lemon about 3/4's of the way down, so they still stay joint at the base. Pack a teaspoon of salt in the middle of each lemon and place in the mason jar, layering with the salt, bay leaves, peppercorns, cinnamon and rosemary. Pour the lemon juice over the top of the lemons. Fill the jar the rest of the way with water. Place the lid on and seal.
  3. Give the jar a shake and place in a cool, dark place, shaking every few days to distribute the salt.
  4. After a month, the lemons will be ready. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini Dip with Tahini

Summer's best produce stars in this recipe for grilled eggplant and zucchini dip with tahini. Perfect for serving with toasted whole grain pita!

And so it begins: The Summer of the Squash.

Earlier this Spring, Scott came home with twenty squash seedlings, leftover from a community garden project at work. At first I fought him when he wanted to plant all twenty, knowing squash reproduce like rabbits, but then I remembered we kill everything we plant, so I let the boy have his fun.

Two months later, we could essentially cure a small developing nation of nutritional deficiencies with our backyard garden.

Good thing I really like squash.

Since you're about to see an ungodly amount of summer squash on the blog this summer, I figure now's the time to talk about why consuming ungodly amounts of summer squash is a good thing.

Summer squash are in the cucumber and melon family and were first cultivated in Mexico and Central America, where they were referred to as part of the "three sisters" alongside beans and corn. Yellow squash and zucchini are commonly found in the grocery store, but if you explore the farmer's market, you'll find heirloom varieties like pattypan (perfect for stuffing...coming soon!), zephyr, eightball and limelight. If you're growing squash in your garden, don't be like me and forget to harvest it for a few days - although the massive footlong zucchini are hilariously fun, they tend to taste woody and bitter compared to the more tender squash harvested around 6 inches.

Summer squash are a very good source of a wide variety of nutrients - folate, vitamin C, B6, copper, magnesium, and potassium to name just a few! It's also a good source of fiber with 2.5 grams in a cup, much of that fiber coming from pectin, which is especially beneficial for blood sugar control. Also, because you eat the seeds in squash, you get a little dose of omega 3 fats. Who knew!

Because I just can't bring myself to toss anything that came from our backyard, I've been working squash into as many meals as I possibly can. My breakfast for the next 3 months will likely be some variation on this shredded sauteed squash with basil (also from the garden), goat cheese and a fried egg. For diner, I've already made stuffed squash and more zucchini side dishes than you can imagine. And for snacks, I've been obsessing over this grilled vegetable and tahini dip. You could use almost any vegetable you like in this, as long as it's grill-able. Try peppers, mushrooms, onions or tomatoes. I do like the including an eggplant, since it's creamy texture makes it more dip-like. Serve this with whole grain pita, ak-mak crackers or tortilla chips.

Now, I'd like to offer a special for Columbia area clients. Sign up for coaching sessions with me this summer and you get a free bonus - a giant basket of zucchini!! Come get while the gettins' good!

Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini Dip

Feel free to use other vegetables like mushrooms, peppers or onion.

Ingredients

  • 1 large eggplant, sliced 1/2-in thick
  • 2 large zucchini, halved lengthwise and each half cut into 4 spears
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Instructions

  1. Heat a grill to medium-high heat. Spray or brush the vegetables with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Spread vegetables evenly on the grill and cook 7-10 minutes on one side. Flip and cook another 5 minutes on the other side until tender and lightly charred. Remove to a platter and set aside to cool.
  3. While the vegetables are cooling, make the dressing. Whisk together tahini, lemon juice, garlic, cumin and parsley, then season with salt and pepper.
  4. When vegetables are cool enough to handle, dice and place in a large bowl. Pour in dressing and stir to combine. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

You might also like:

Zucchini Fritters in Tomato Sauce
Zucchini Fritters in Tomato Sauce
Grilled Zucchini and Ricotta Pita Pizza

Grilled Zucchini and Ricotta Pita Pizza

Grilled Mexican Zucchini Boats
Grilled Mexican Zucchini Boats

Indian Shakshuka With Green Chutney

A traditional Middle Eastern of eggs poached in tomato sauce gets an Indian spin with coconut milk, ginger and Indian spices. My Indian shakshuka with green chutney is perfect for breakfast, brunch or dinner!

Egg lovers rejoice!

Last week, the committee that advises government's Dietary Guidelines announced they are dropping the longstanding warning against eating cholesterol-rich foods. The current guidelines are to limit daily cholesterol consumption to less than 300 mg. With almost 200 mg of cholesterol in one large egg, that warning didn't leave much room to indulge in a good sunny side up and over, despite multiple studies showing eggs do not raise cholesterol.

I, for one, was happy to hear this news. Although I clearly promote a plant focused diet, when it comes to animal based protein sources, pastured eggs are one of the best. In fact, nutritionally, I would place them right behind fish. Let's take a look at some of the benefits:

  • Pastured eggs, from chickens raised on their natural diet of grass, seeds, and insects, produce a yolk with over 600 mg of omega 3 fats. These fats are well known for heart health, but also have tremendous benefit for the brain. Omega 3s alleviate depression, improve cognition and have even shown efficacy in the treatment of schizophrenia.
  • Eggs are the richest food source of choline, an essential vitamin that 90% of Americans are not consuming adequate amounts of. Choline is needed to build cell membranes and to produce neurotransmitters, the signaling molecule in the brain.
  • An egg contains 10% daily needs of vitamin A, a critical nutrient for healthy skin and eyes.
  • Eggs are a rich source iodine and selenium, two minerals crucial for thyroid health. An egg contains 20% daily needs of iodine, a key component of thyroid hormones and 30% daily needs of selenium, a mineral which helps activate thyroid hormones. One of the thyroid glands many roles is regulating metabolism, so eggs may be particularly beneficial for weight control.
  • It's true, eggs raise cholesterol - but in a good way! Studies have found eggs can increase HDL cholesterol, the good kind that protects against heart disease.
  • With protein and fat all in a nice little package, eggs are quite filling, especially when compared to the cereal, pastries, white toast and other breakfast items people often eat instead.
  • Although eggs are an animal protein, they can actually help cut back on total intake of animal proteins. Think of it this way, it's not unusual to eat 6 ounces of chicken for dinner. But eating 6 eggs? Unless you're Gaston, that's unlikely.

I encourage you to seek out organic, pastured eggs. Bonus points for locally sourced. Because pastured chickens eat a healthier diet, their eggs contain more nutrients, especially vitamin A and omega 3 fats. Conventional production of eggs is harmful to the environment and the chickens are kept in cruel conditions. To find pastured eggs, check out your local farmers market, or if you're shopping at the grocery store, check out this post I wrote on egg labeling for guidance.

Shakshuka, a dish of eggs poached in tomato sauce, may be my favorite way to enjoy eggs. It's a traditional Tunisian dish, now popular all over North Africa and in Israel. Traditional recipes are fantastic, especially when served with spicy harissa or hummus. But I love to use a basic recipe for inspiration and take different spins on it. I've added beans, corn and chilies to make a Mexican version, mixed in squash and pesto for an Italian flair and most recently, created this Indian spiced version!

Indian Spiced Shakshuka

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1 lb fingerling potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 28 ounces canned tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 6 eggs
  • 100% whole wheat naan, toasted, for serving
  • Green chutney, recipe follows, for serving

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook 15 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, cut the potatoes in half.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Heat olive oil in an oven safe, large sided skillet on medium high heat. Add onion and peppers and saute until tender and lightly golden, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add garlic, ginger and spices. Season with salt and pepper. Cook 1 minute until fragrant. Add tomatoes, boiled potatoes, and coconut milk. Simmer 10 minutes. Season with salt.
  5. Make 6 wells in the tomato sauce and crack an egg into each. Place skillet in the oven and bake 15-18 minutes until whites are set and yolks are still runny. Dollop with green chutney and serve with naan.

Green Chutney

Makes 2/3 cup

Ingredients

  • 1½ packed cups cilantro
  • ½ packed cup mint
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 dried red chili or ¼ teaspoon crushed chili flakes
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • ¼ cup coconut cream or yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey

Instructions

  1. Blend all ingredients in a food processor until they form a pesto-like sauce. Season to taste with salt.

Za'atar Roasted Cauliflower with Golden Raisins Recipe

Za'atar Roasted Cauliflower with Golden Raisins Recipe

Upgrade your regular “sprinkle of salt and pepper” roasted cauliflower recipe to this flavor packed sweet and salty goodness! Za’atar roasted cauliflower with golden raisins is the perfect combination to turn even the pickiest eater into a veggie lover.

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