Eggplant Lentil Soup

Eggplant Lentil Soup

Eggplant Lentil Soup

When I was in Florida a few weeks ago, I came across a classic flavor combination that I hadn’t experienced much: eggplant lentil soup. I was intrigued and ordered a cup, but found the soup to be bland and basically nothing special. I then proceeded to spend the rest of the meal thinking about how to turn those flavors into an incredible soup.

The answer came this week when I recreated it in my kitchen. The first key is to roast the eggplant to lessen its natural bitterness and enhance its other flavors. This requires almost no work and takes just 25 minutes in the oven.

At the same time, simmer the lentils with onions, garlic and broth, then bring out the secret weapon: the blender or food processor! Use it to puree the whole mess into a luscious, thick soup.

And finally, enhance the natural and fairly neutral flavors of the eggplant and lentils with spices. I used curry powder, which offered the perfect level of aromatic spice.

Originally I’d planned on eating the soup on its own, and even did one day this week when I brought the leftovers for lunch. But the night I made it, I had some leftover baked cod in the refrigerator and added it to the soup for a complete meal. It was AMAZING!

Cod is a healthy, flaky, neutral-flavored fish that added just the right level of texture to the soup without changing the flavor. In the end, I had a healthy, nutritious and filling meal, with plenty of leftovers to last throughout the week.

Here’s the recipe for Eggplant Lentil Soup:

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Spiced Shrimp & Spaghetti Squash

Spiced Shrimp & Spaghetti Squash

Spiced Shrimp & Spaghetti Squash

After a long weekend lounging in Florida and eating two desserts a day (hey – it was my birthday weekend, I was entitled!), I felt like I needed a break from the calorie-overload and made myself a healthy, flavorful, two-for-the-price-and-effort-of-one dinner: Spiced Shrimp and Spaghetti Squash.

This super-easy worknight meal that comes together in about 35 minutes was exactly what I needed to get my eating back on track without any feelings of deprivation. It was sweet, spicy, and incredibly flavorful. Plus, it contained a lot of healthy vegetables and protein-rich shrimp.

The most time-consuming part of the dish was caramelizing the onions, which were done using the technique I learned from this recipe for Caramelized Onion & Herb Dinner Rolls. But organization and planning save a lot of time, meaning you do most of the other work while the onions cook: prepare the spice rub for the shrimp, let it marinate, prepare and cook the spaghetti squash, and then finally saute the shrimp in the same pan the onions were cooked in.

Busy week? It’s the perfect opportunity to try this for yourself. Here’s the recipe:

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Blueberry Oat Muffins

Blueberry Oat Muffins

Blueberry Oat Muffins

In my quest to eat healthier I’ve temporarily given up so many sweet foods that I love (read: chocolate cake). While muffins weren’t among my sacrifices, I’ve found myself craving a healthy, slightly sweet muffin that I could grab for breakfast or quick snack without feeling guilty about overloading on sugar and fat.

These delicious blueberry oat muffins definitely fit the bill. Not too sweet or too dry, these muffins really are just right. They taste healthy, which was important for the mental guilt factor, but not in a cardboard way. They’re a bit on the dryer side but not at all crumbly, and have a nice crunch from pecans that had been folded in the batter.

Each muffin contains 184 calories with 5 grams protein and 3 grams dietary fiber (see below for complete nutrition breakdown), making them a smart choice for a filling treat. Plus, the muffins are chock full of antioxidants!

Blueberry Oat Muffins

Blueberry Oat Muffins

Here’s the recipe:

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Cauliflower Poppers

Cauliflower Poppers

Cauliflower Poppers

It’s hard to believe that just one year ago I couldn’t stand cauliflower. In my mind it could only be bland, dull and steamed with carrots and broccoli. It just didn’t appeal to me.

I’ve grown a lot since then and now I really like cauliflower, not as much as broccoli, but it’s become an enjoyable and even versatile vegetable for me. My favorite ways of preparing are soup (Curried Cauliflower Coconut), pureed like mashed potatoes, and roasted.

This recipe for cauliflower poppers is a simple yet flavorful preparation that was sent to me by a Twitter friend and fellow foodie Aviva Goldfarb of The Six O’Clock Scramble. The recipe is a favorite of Aviva and her family, and now a favorite of mine, too. I followed her recipe for the most part, the only difference being that I added a little ground ginger to the spice mix just for a bit more flavor and slightly decreased the amount of chili powder because I’m sort of a wuss when it comes to spice.

Either way, the cauliflower poppers are delicious as a side dish or, as in my case, a meal in itself.

Here’s the recipe:

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Chick Chick Bulgur

Chick Chick Bulgur

Chick Chick Bulgur

This is a great, nutritious meal that makes enough to feed a family or for a single person like me to enjoy throughout the week. The Chick Chick Bulgur, or bulgur with chicken, chickpeas and red peppers, was inspired by a recipe for North African chickpea and bulgur soup.

Instead of a soup, I decided to prepare the ingredients as a casserole. The most significant addition was adding chicken (the original recipe was vegetarian) for more protein. I like using boneless, skinless chicken thighs because they have better flavor and don’t dry out as easily as chicken breasts, which is important in an oven-baked casserole. Plus, chicken thighs are usually cheaper than chicken breasts; combine that with better flavor and it’s a win-win.

If you’re not familiar with bulgur, now is the time to try it. Bulgur is a whole grain loaded with fiber and protein, and is a great substitute for rice.

If you’re trying to eat healthy or simply want a filling dish, this is it. Try it, you’ll like it!

Here’s the recipe:

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