Spring Asparagus and Goat Cheese Pizza

Spring Asparagus and Goat Cheese Pizza

My black car is officially yellow, so it’s time to break out the asparagus recipes, starting with this spring asparagus and goat cheese pizza! While I am usually adamantly pro-tomato sauce on pizza, I love this pie topped with garlic oil, two cheeses, crisp-tender asparagus and thin slices of Yukon gold potatoes. Don’t be skeptical of potatoes on pizza - the crispy rounds of potato are so good! And as I’m writing this, I’m realizing proscuitto or bacon would be a very welcome addition.

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Patatas Bravas with Smoky Romesco Sauce and Garlic Aioli

Patatas Bravas with Smoky Romesco Sauce and Garlic Aioli

Patatas bravas are one of my happy foods! If you’ve never had it, it’s a traditional Spanish dish of fried or roasted potatoes tossed with a spicy and smoky tomato sauce and aioli. This version is made with a smoky romesco style sauce and garlicky aioli. I love to top it with sauteed kale and a fried egg to round it out into a meal.

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Hash Brown Breakfast Casserole with Peppers and Kale

Hash Brown Breakfast Casserole with Peppers and Kale

Looking for something yummy and comforting to make on Christmas morning? This make ahead hash brown casserole with peppers and kale has all the comfort ingredients - melty cheddar cheese and sausage - plus a ton of veggies for flavor and nutrition! It's super easy but special enough for a holiday breakfast! 

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Kale and Mushroom Stroganoff over Crispy Roasted Potatoes

Kale and Mushroom Stroganoff over Crispy Roasted Potatoes

This kale and mushroom stroganoff is a vegetarian spin on classic stroganoff. For extra comfort factor, it's served over crispy, roasted potatoes instead of egg noodles - although it's yummy over egg noodles too! It gets it's depth of flavor using a combination of fresh cremini mushrooms and dried mushrooms for a rich and flavorful sauce that gets soaked up by the potatoes. 

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Lentil Pasta with Roasted Fingerlings, Baby Kale and Crispy Garlic

Lentil Pasta with Roasted Fingerlings, Baby Kale and Crispy Garlic

Make this vegetarian lentil pasta with roasted fingerlings, kale and crispy garlic! It's packed with flavor despite the simple ingredients list from crispy fried garlic chips, caramelized onion and plenty of fruity, peppery olive oil! Using lentil pasta means it's also packed with protein for a balanced meal. 

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Nordic Salad with Smoked Salmon and Lemon-Dill Dressing

Nordic Salad with Smoked Salmon and Lemon-Dill Dressing

This nordic salad with smoked salmon and lemon-dill dressing was inspired by an upcoming trip to Iceland! Embrace the nordic diet trend with this salad that packs tons of common nordic ingredients and flavor into a fresh salad bowl - hard boiled egg, root vegetables, dill, peppery radish and a bright lemon-dill oil dressing. 

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Romesco Chicken with Kale Mashed Potatoes

This romesco chicken with kale mashed potatoes looks complicated, but only takes 45 minutes to make! This thick and tangy sauce is sure to become a new favorite! 

Popping in with a quick recipe post while Scott and I are exploring the northeast before my little brother’s wedding weekend in Boston. The hubs and I just spent the past few days road tripping through New Hampshire and Maine to Acadia National Park. I plan to share a recap next week or the week after, but until then, follow along with my adventures on Instagram!

This recipe for romesco chicken was adapted from a recipe by Rachael Ray. Is it just me or do her 30 minute meals take more like an hour and a half? I feel like there is some major false advertising in the Rachael Ray empire.

This dish took about 45 minutes, which is close enough for me, and it tastes and looks much more complicated. The quick romesco sauce adds such a unique flavor. Romesco is a Spanish tomato and pepper sauce thickened with breadcrumbs. It’s also really tasty with roasted asparagus, potatoes or tossed with whole grain pasta. This dish is pretty saucy, so you could always use half the romesco for the chicken and freeze/refrigerate the rest for later. Having yummy sauces on hand is such an easy way to dress up meals. Speaking of which, did you check out this post I wrote for Luvo on my favorite freezer sauces? Might have to add this romesco to the mix!

Romesco Chicken with Kale Mashed Potatoes

Serves 4-5

Ingredients

Kale Mashed Potatoes:

  • 1 ½ lb Yukon gold or other waxy potato, halved or quartered if large

  • 1 bunch kale, thick stems removed, roughly chopped

  • ½ cup chicken broth

  • ¼ cup plain yogurt

  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Chicken & Romesco:

  • 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 1/2 lb skinless chicken breast or thighs, cut into bite sized pieces

  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • Salt and black pepper

  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped

  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs

  • ½ cup blanched slivered almonds

  • 1 14-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained

  • 1 can fire-roasted tomatoes

  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

  • Chopped fresh parsley, to serve

Instructions

  1. Cover potatoes with a few inches of salted water in a large pot. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes feel tender with a bite when pierced with a fork, about 10-15 minutes depending on their size. Add kale to the water and continue to boil until potatoes are tender and kale is wilted, about 5 minutes. Drain, then pour potatoes and kale back into the hot pot and place back on the stove. Add broth and yogurt. Mash with a potato masher to desired consistency. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Keep warm on low heat until ready to eat.

  2. While potatoes are cooking, prepare chicken in romesco. Sprinkle chicken with smoked paprika, salt and black pepper and toss to combine. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add chicken to the hot pan and cook, flipping every so often, until browned and cooked through. Remove from pan and set aside.

  3. Wipe pan clean with a paper towel. Add 1 tablespoons oil to the pan and set on medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds. Stir in panko and almonds and cook until lightly toasted, about 2-3 minutes. Scrape panko-almond mixture into a food processor or high powered blender. Add roasted red peppers, tomatoes and sherry vinegar. Blend until smooth and pureed, which will be seconds in a high powered blender and a bit longer in a food processor. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  4. Scrape romesco back into the skillet and set to medium heat to warm through. Stir in chicken.

  5. Scoop mashed potatoes in a large serving bowl. Using a spoon, make a large well in the center. Pour romesco chicken into the center. Garnish with fresh parsley.

Potato, Corn and Goat Cheese Empanadas with Avocado Chimichurri

Potato, Corn and Goat Cheese Empanadas with Avocado Chimichurri

Celebrate potatoes with these vegetarian potato, corn and goat cheese empanadas with avocado chimichurri dipping sauce! These empanadas are made with a whole grain crust for extra fiber and a yummy flavor! And you'll be obsessed with the creamy avocado chimichurri, which you can make extras of to enjoy over all sorts of different foods. 

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Camping in Blue Ridge & Campfire Potatoes, Veggies & Halloumi

A recap of our weekend hiking and camping in the Blue Ridge mountains, plus, a vegetarian campfire recipe for potatoes, veggies and halloumi cheese. 

You may have noticed the lack of a Sunday Paper this past weekend. That's because I spent the weekend camping in the Blue Ridge mountains with Scott (and Charlie!) to celebrate our third anniversary and my 31st birthday. Each year for our anniversary, we take a mini-trip somewhere in the South in lieu of trading gifts. The first year it was Asheville and last year it was Charleston.

Now just so you know, this was no "glamping." We did legit camping - tent, sleeping bag, peeing in the woods - the whole shebang. Okay, so there was a $40 bottle of wine involved, but other than that we were roughing it! Especially when the temps dipped into the twenties at night and we only packed our lightweight sleeping bag...thank goodness for a 135 lb Saint Bernard to spoon with.

After setting up camp on Friday, we hiked in Graveyard Fields to see both the waterfalls. Back at camp, we enjoyed our bottle of wine and a yummy campfire meal (recipe follows!). I was planning on making these halloumi and vegetable skewers from Naturally Ella, but we realized we left Scott's mini-grill at a friends house right before we left. So, we wrapped everything up in aluminum foil and threw it in the fire! I know this is my second zombie apocalypse reference in less than a week, but let me say, with my campfire cooking skills, you'll definitely want to protect me in the event!

The next day we woke up early and did some more hiking are Moore's Cove and to Skinny Dip Falls (no, we did not skinny dip, pervs). After spending the morning hiking, we decided to head into Asheville. We enjoyed a flight at Green Man Brewery and split a cubano from Melt Your Heart. Then we took Charlie on a walk around downtown, where he quickly became a local celebrity. At one point, we had 15 people surrounding him - to think that some family gave him up boggles my mind! We had an awesome dinner at my absolute favorite brewery on the planet, Wicked Weed, then closed out the night back at camp, enjoying the campfire and a slice of Theos olive oil chocolate cake from French Broad Chocolates! 

Keep scrolling to enjoy some of the pictures of our trip and get my recipe for campfire potatoes and veggies with halloumi cheese.

The Lower Falls and Graveyard Fields

The Lower Falls and Graveyard Fields

Waterfalls at Graveyard Fields

Waterfalls at Graveyard Fields

Graveyard Fields Blue Ridge Parkway

Graveyard Fields Blue Ridge Parkway

Upper Falls in Graveyard Fields

Upper Falls in Graveyard Fields

Looking Glass Falls in Pisgah

Looking Glass Falls in Pisgah

Hiking to Moore's Cove

Hiking to Moore's Cove

Moore's Cove Waterfall

Moore's Cove Waterfall

Skinny Dip Falls Blue Ridge Parkway

Skinny Dip Falls Blue Ridge Parkway

Dinner at Wicked Weed Brewing

Dinner at Wicked Weed Brewing

Campfire potatoes, veggies and halloumi

Campfire potatoes, veggies and halloumi

Campfire Potatoes, Veggies & Halloumi Cheese

Serves 2 hungry hikers

Simply make packets of the ingredients and toss it over the fire. If you have a grill, feel free to make kebabs or put the packets directly over the grill. Our campsite had a metal grill pan that went over the campfire. If you don't have one, just make sure the vegetables are in a cooler part of the fireIt's best if you can keep it slightly If you can't find halloumi, a type of Greek cheese that stays firm when heated, swap feta. It won't stay in chunks but it'll be delicious!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, quartered or cut into eighths

  • 2 large zucchini, cut into 1 inch chunks

  • 1 large red onion

  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 10 ounces halloumi cheese, cut into 1 inch cubes

  • Extra virgin olive oil

  • Garlic powder

  • Smoked paprika

  • Salt and black pepper

  • Plenty of aluminum foil

Instructions

  1. Spread a large piece of aluminum foil on the ground. Add the potatoes, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder and smoked paprika. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the aluminum foil so it's sealed then shake to combine. Throw it into the fire.

  2. Make another packet with the vegetables, season the same way and throw into the fire with the potatoes.

  3. Make another packet with the halloumi, omiting the olive oil. Throw it into the fire.

  4. The potatoes and vegetables will be done in about 10 minutes. If you need to peek, use a clean stick or long fork to open the packet a bit and give it a good stir. The cheese only needs a few minutes to warm.

  5. When vegetables and cheese are cooked, open and pour the cheese and it's juices over the potatoes, then enjoy!

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.

Cauliflower Mash Bowls on The Lean Green Bean

A big bowl of vegan comfort! Cheesy cauliflower mash is topped with garlicky greens and white beans then served with a rich mushroom and red wine gravy. 

Blogging has enriched my life in so many ways I never imagined when I clicked "publish" on my first post. It's forced me to learn and grow as a dietitian, cementing my personal food philosophy while expanding my knowledge of the field. It inspired me to follow my dreams and start my own private practice. It's brought incredible opportunities to my life both professionally and personally.

However, the greatest part of starting this blog has been becoming a part of a wonderful, caring and collaborative community of dietitian bloggers. I've seen, and sadly, been a part of so many workplaces where people compete for success, putting others down so they can get ahead. This beautiful community of health minded women (and men!) is exactly the opposite. If there is one thing I learned at Blog Brulee, community is the key to success and we definitely have a powerful and supportive community!

If RD bloggers are a community, then Lindsay of The Lean Green Bean is our model citizen! She is always sharing and promoting other peoples work to her massive following. She's the first to congratulate on successes. Lindsay even took time out of her busy schedule to give me advice on starting my practice way back when.

If you haven't checked out her blog, you definitely need to. She shares tons of simple, healthy recipes (including my personal favorite, blueberry cashew bars), workout tips, and tons of inspiration for Sunday meal prep. Lindsay is a pro at keeping things simple and efficient, so I know my mom or soon to be mom readers will gets tons of helpful info on raising healthy kids.

So when she asked if I'd like to guest post for her blog while she enjoys her time as a new mom to Baby Bean  patiently waits for a fashionably late little boy, I was ecstatic! Of course I'd help a sister out!

I went all out in creating this cheesy cauliflower mash bowl, topped with garlicky kale, white beans and a rich mushroom gravy. Vegan comfort food to the max! Although in hindsight, I probably should have created a spicy eggplant dish.

Now, before I have you head on over to The Lean Green Bean, a bit of sad news. Well, sad news for you, not really for me :) In light of spending a bit more time nourishing my soul as well as I nourish my body, I'm taking a little break from blogging next week as I travel with my family. We'll be going to the Dordogne region of France, basically recreating my first trip out of the country when I was six (hopefully minus the chicken pox and episode when I sat on a chocolate cookie and cried for an hour cause it looked like I pooped my pants). In hindsight, that first trip is a big part of the reason I'm a dietitian today - it's where I fell in love with food! Although I won't be blogging, I'll be staying active on the tweeter and instagram. Be sure to share all your soul nourishing pictures with me using the hashtag #nourishyoursoul.

Now, check out The Lean Green Bean for the recipe!

Cashew Cheese Fries with Indian Spices

Indian spiced potato wedges or topped with a spicy cashew cheese for a vegan take on cheese fries! 

I know my vegetarian/vegan readers saw this title and got really excited, while everyone said to themselves "cashew cheese...what on Earth?!?"

If you've never heard of cashew cheese, let me assure you it's delicious. Afterall, this is a self appointed cheese connoisseur here. I wouldn't lie to you! No, it doesn't taste exactly like cheese, since it's made with cashews and all, but it lends the same rich, complex quality and creamy texture.

A basic recipe for cashew cheese calls for soaking cashews until soft, then blending them with a few other flavoring ingredients like nutritional yeast, mustard, garlic and spices. It's a much tastier and less processed option than soy cheese for anyone who doesn't eat dairy.

I saw a cashew plant for the first time when we went to Costa Rica. The nut grows from the bottom of a cashew apple, the fruit of the cashew tree. In the shell, it looks like a green kidney or some sort of weird appendage. Very odd looking I must say!

Here's a look at the health benefits of cashews:

Copper

With a days worth of copper in one ounce, cashews are one of the richest sources of this essential mineral. Copper is a component of many enzymes, including antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase. Inadequate copper intake has been associated with arthritis, colon cancer, osteoporosis, nerve damage and elevated LDL cholesterol.

Magnesium

Cashews are also a rich source of magnesium with 30% your daily needs in a quarter cup serving. Magnesium is often referred to as the relaxation mineral, a term I love. Most medical professionals are aware of this effect as it's used to relax an irregular heart beat or bowel muscles before a colonoscopy. Regular and adequate magnesium consumption has been linked to a lower risk of many diseases including high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis and even insomnia.

It's easy to include cashews as a snack, tossed into an Asian slaw or mixed into a veggie stir fry with brown rice to round out the meal. But cashew cheese is now my favorite way to enjoy cashews. The rich, creamy blend can be incorporated into so many dishes! If you tried my dairy free macaroni and cheese you know how to incorporate them into a rich vegan sauce. 

Cashew Cheese Fries with Indian Spices

Serves 6

Cheese sauce adapted from Serious Eats, potatoes adapted from Cooking Light

Ingredients

Potatoes:

  • 1 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons mined fresh ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons yellow or black mustard seeds
  • 3/4 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala
  • Scant teaspoon salt
  • 3 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch thick wedges or sticks

Cashew Cheese Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1 medium Yukon gold potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup cashews, soaked 2 hours in water and drained
  • 1/2 cup water plus more to thin sauce
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk, plus 2-4 tablespoons
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • Lime wedges

Instructions

  1. First preheat oven to 400 degrees F for the potatoes.
  2. In a small skillet, heat coconut oil on medium-high heat. Add ginger, garlic and jalapeno. Saute until tender, about 4 minutes. Add mustard seeds and chilies and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add tumeric, garam masala and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, for another minute.
  3. Place potatoes on a large baking sheet. Pour spice mixture over the potatoes and toss to coat evenly. Place in the oven and bake until tender and browned, tossing every 10 minutes, for a total of about 40 minutes.
  4. While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the cheese sauce. Heat coconut oil on medium heat. Add onion, garlic and jalapeno. Cook until tender, but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add cumin and tumeric, stir, and cook 1 minute. Add potato and cashews and stir to combine. Cook until cashews are lightly toasted, about 4 minutes. Add water and almond milk, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes until potato is tender.
  5. Let cool for a few minutes, then transfer cashew mixture to a food processor or blender. Blend until pureed. Add 2-4 tablespoons almond milk to thin to desired consistency. Taste and season with salt and black pepper to taste.
  6. Serve potatoes topped with cashew cheese sauce and garnished with cilantro and lime wedges.