Saturday, February 28, 2015

Sweet Potato with Ground Turkey and Veggie Hash

Sweet potatoes!! Another delicious nutritious food that I recently started eating. Yes, at 30 years old, this is a newer food to me. For some reason, I always disliked the taste. What's not to like?? They're starchy, sweeter and packed full of health benefits.

I've been on a huge sweet potato kick the last two months. Usually, I eat them as a side dish but I saw a great recipe for sweet potato sliders, using the potato as the bun. I really liked the idea but wanted to make the meal more rustic and put together a burger-like hash. It was great! The ingredients came together making each bite very balanced from a flavor perspective.

1 medium sweet potato
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 lb ground turkey
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/4 cup of corn
1/2 onion, diced
1/4 cup mushrooms
1 clove garlic, smashed
Salt and pepper to taste

1) Wash then bake potato until fully cooked. I popped mine in the microwave so I didn't have to put in much effort.
2) Over medium-high heat, heat olive oil then cook turkey until fully browned. Add in onion, pepper, corn, garlic and mushrooms until all veggies are softened. Season with salt and pepper.
3) Cut cooked potato in half on a plate then spoon turkey and veggie hash on top.

Voila! A fully balanced dinner in 20 minutes or less.

Restaurant Review: The Little Beet Table

The Little Beet Table is my new favorite restaurant! I came across it while scrolling through the Find Me Gluten Free app. After looking at the menu, I could not wait to try it. Apparently, it is quite the hot spot. A friend and I tried to go on a Tuesday night and couldn't get a reservation for two until 9pm. We figured we'd risk it and wait for a table and lucked out by getting a great spot at the bar.

The entire restaurant is gluten free and has so many delicious menu options. Between the two of us, we figured we'd split an entree and two appetizers. Our server recommended all three items we had in mind  so that was very reassuring. For appetizers, we settled on acorn squash with hazelnuts, honey and pecorino and the grilled beets with Greek yogurt and pumpkin seed-almond granola. For our main dish, we had the mushroom flatbread with arugula, tomatoes, mozzarella and pecorino cheese.

Acorn Squash

The acorn squash was incredible. The sweet softness of the squash mixed with the crunch of hazelnuts and tang of pecorino felt like a little party for your taste buds! I had no shame enjoying more of my share! 

Grilled Beets

Next up were the grilled beets. I loved that they used both red and golden beets. The Greek yogurt was mixed with dill that added such a freshness and of course, who wouldn't a little sweet & salty crunch with the granola? This was a wonderful light dish.

Mushroom Flatbread

To round out the meal, we had the mushroom flatbread. The crush was very thin and had the perfect crunch (crunch seems to be the theme of this meal...) We did both agree that it could have used a bit more sauce or wetness though. The mushrooms, cheese and tomatoes paired with the crunchy crust left us wanting something a little juicy. 

Just when we thought we were finished, we decided to check out the dessert menu. Big mistake!! Mistake, in that we wanted all three of their menu items. :) Our server recommended the roasted apples with vanilla-walnut haroseth and battenkill cream. OH MY GOOOODDDD.... it was AMAZING! Everything you could ever want in an apple pie in a perfect little bowl topped with creamy, caramel goodness. Every bite was Heaven. 

Roasted Apples

If this hasn't sold you on checking out The Little Beet Table, I don't know what to tell you. It's got me thinking about the next time I can get back!

Best Care Package Ever!!

My mom is the bomb! She sent me the best care package for my birthday! When I was home over the holidays I picked up chia seeds to make my new favorite breakfast yogurt (recipe to come.) After realizing the seeds were $4.99 in Michigan compared to $11.99 for the same amount in NYC, I was angry! Why on Earth do New Yorkers have to pay twice as much to eat healthy options!?? The same goes for the Kind granola bars (The Maple Pumpkin Seed ones rock!) These run $4.99-$5.99 in NYC and $2.50 in Michigan.

Thankfully, my mom is awesome and offered to send me a stockpile of my favorite goodies. I was so excited when the box came. Ahh... the little things. :)

Protein Packed Spinach Salad

Sometimes after a long day I just want a quick, flavor packed meal. As I have started to shop for healthier options I've expanded my palate and have fallen in love with beets! I absolutely love putting beets in salads. Those Greek's really got it right with their salad prep. Tonight, I threw together an amazing, protein packed salad and even pushed my flavor envelope and included cooked lentils!

There was no real measuring when it came to this salad but I included spinach, beets, lentils, edamame and low-fat feta cheese. I topped it with balsamic glaze, a little olive oil and black pepper. It was super delicious and filling. Each bite had the perfect mix of crunch, tang and creaminess. This will definitely be a new go-to salad for me.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Corn Tortilla Veggie Pizza

When I think of healthy dinners, pizza isn't necessarily the first thing that comes to mind. It's  absolutely delicious covered in gooey, yummy cheese topped with pepperoni or prosciutto and of course, once I start eating pizza, I can't put it down. Naturally, when making pizza at home, you have full control over the ingredients and can make healthier pizza pies!  I decided to do just that!

Rather than making or purchasing a gluten free crust, I used corn tortillas as my crust. Not only are they great for personal pizzas, but tend to be lower in calories than most crusts of the same size. I stuck to veggies and portion control on the cheese for these pizzas and they turned out delicious! I couldn't put my fork down.

1 corn tortilla
3 to 4 tbsp of your favorite marinara sauce (I am obsessed with New Jersey Gravy brand!)
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup of spinach
1/2 cup of sliced red and yellow peppers

1) Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
2) In a saute pan over medium high heat, heat olive oil then saute mushrooms, peppers and spinach until tender.
3) Meanwhile, on a lined baking sheet, spread tomato sauce on top of your corn tortilla. Once veggies are cooked through, spread evenly on top of sauce then sprinkle mozzarella.
4) Bake in oven for 6 to 8 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.
*Double recipe to make two pizzas. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Best Brunch Loaf Ever!

After taking a spin class today, a friend and I stopped by Cantine Parisienne for brunch. We tried The Egg Shop, which has gluten free bread options, but did not want to wait 90 minutes to two hours. Instead we walked around the corner and ran into Cantine Parisienne. After reading "gluten free health loaf with Nutella and bananas" on the menu, I was in!

We kicked off our meal with water, coffee and mimosas then ordered the loaf. For my meal I had Eggs Benedict over gluten free toast. It was good, however, after advising my server of my gluten allergy the restaurant still served me potatoes that had been fried with bread. Bad move! I was smart enough to avoid though. 

In any case, if you want the yummiest french toast loaf smothered in Nutella and sautéed bananas you have to try this!!!

Oh, and here is our wonderful hydration spread!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Tuna and Veggie Pasta in a Greek Yogurt Sauce

You know that awful feeling... when you can't think of what to make for dinner? That happened to me tonight. On my FREEZING walk home I tried to think of what the heck I had in my fridge that would come together as a health meal. (Unlike last Thursday, when I made popcorn and at that for dinner.)

I had plenty of veggies on the brink of spoiling, pasta, quinoa, tuna, frozen ground turkey, some frozen veggies and Greek yogurt. After staring into my pantry for what felt like 20 minutes I realized a yummy tuna pasta dish would be great! I grew up on buttered noodles with tuna and peas but wanted to incorporate a few more veggies so with a little finessing, I concocted a delicious tuna, red pepper, and pea pasta with Greek yogurt sauce! It was ridiculously easy and super delicious!

8 oz of your fave gluten free pasta - linguine, fettucine, or spaghetti
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 can of tuna, packed in water
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup of frozen peas
1 red pepper, diced small
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
ground pepper to taste

1) Cook pasta as directed on package. When the noodles have about one to two minutes left until finished, add frozen peas to pasta water to cook through. Before straining, reserve about 1/2 cup of pasta water to add to sauce.
2) Meanwhile, saute red pepper over medium high heat with 1/2 tsp of the olive oil, until softened.
3) Combine remaining 1/2 tsp of oil, tuna, yogurt, salt, pepper and garlic salt together in a bowl and stir until the tuna and all other ingredients are event distributed.
4) To assemble dish, combine pasta and veggies together in a bowl then add yogurt sauce and stir. The sauce will be a bit thick, despite the heat from the noodles so add a bit of the reserved pasta water to thin out until sauce is at a creamy consistency.

Enjoy this quick, healthy dish!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Quinoa, Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprout Hash

I have a small problem with walking into Trader Joe's or Whole Foods without a grocery list. As soon as I see stocked aisles of produces my mind reels. Whatever looks fresh and yummy usually ends up in my cart. My feeling is that I can always make a great salad or scrumptious soup.

Shopping over the last week has left me with the following ingredients: spinach, butternut squash, brussels sprouts, onions, red pepper, grapes, pomegranate seeds, mushrooms, edamame and raspberries. So far, I've made a salads and had plenty of fruit filled snack breaks. Tonight, I wanted something warm, filling and comforting.  I think I put together the perfect dish! Quinoa, Butternust Squash and Brussels Sprout Hash. It turned out absolutely delicious!! If you prefer different veggies, feel free to swap for them. :)

1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1 lb Butternut Squash, diced square
1 small onion, diced
1 small sweet potato
1/2 lb Brussels Sprouts, finely chopped
1/4 cup mushrooms, diced
1/4 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

1) Pop the sweet potato in your microwave and click the baked potato button. A few minutes later, you'll be all set!
2) Next, cook the quinoa. Combine 1/2 cup of quinoa with 1 cup water in a stock pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil then simmer until water has evaporate. Quinoa will be moist and fluffy.
3) While the quinoa cooks, heat a sautee pan over medium high heat. Add the butternut squash and sautee for about 5 minutes. Next,  add onion and Brussels sprouts. Season with garlic powder, salt, pepper and cook for about 10 minutes. Finally, add mushrooms and sweet potato and cook until all vegetables are tender and browned. 
4) Add cooked quinoa to vegetable mix, stirring thoroughly. Once combined, top with pomegranate seeds. Serve and enjoy!

I loved the kick of sweet crunch the pomegranate seeds gave the dish! I could add those things to almost anything.

Restaurant Review: Pie by the Pound

New York City is famous for it's pizza. While I can't walk into any pizzeria on the street and pick up a slice, thankfully there are some great gluten free options. The very first gluten free pizza I had was two years ago at Pie by the Pound. It was perfect! The restaurant highly promotes their gluten free goods. Pizza, grilled cheese, cookies, brownies, ciders and beer; all gluten free. They also serve regular pizza by the pound - hence their name.

I was so excited to have pizza that I ordered my fave tried and true pie - cheese and pepperoni. After a short wait I was diving into the crunchiest, cheesiest pizza I've had in a long time! The crust is delicious. It reminds me of a Cheez-It. The texture is super crisp like a Cheez-It and has a bit of a cheese flavor to it. Topped with a little sauce, cheese and pepperoni - it was perfect!!

While sitting at the table, the owner over heard me talking about the pizza and he asked if I had ever been to his restaurant before.  When I replied "no" he insisted that I try a gluten free beer and second pie on the house!! I was so excited! He suggested I try their "Fresh Cubed" pie. It was topped with fresh mozzarella,  tomato sauce, cubed tomato, garlic, oregano, basil, arugula and olive oil. It was BEYOND delicious!!!

I've been back to Pie several times since my first visit and have never been disappointed. In fact, I am signed up for their loyalty club that gives me discounts on my check anytime I am there! :)
The pic above was from a time I ordered sausage, onion and arugula! Yum.

Also, they have board games all over the place to play... can someone say Jenga!!?

Cooking Makes me Happy!

There, I said it. Cooking makes me happy! It always has and I am sure (on most days) it always will. What doesn't make me happy? My time management skills. When I'm not at home whipping up something delicious, you can find me tasting my way around one of the many amazing restaurants in the city. The biggest problem I have is finding time to post about what I've cooked or tasted along the way. The more time goes by, the more backlogged my posts become; the more backlogged I am the more overwhelmed I get with "catching up." Then I get frustrated and avoid posting for long periods of time ( say, since last March!) :(

Over the last few weeks I've thought about my life: What makes me happy? What stresses me out? What do I want to spend my time doing? What do I want to let go of? All of these thoughts came to me while reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Rubin set out to write this book to discover what things in her life can make her more happier than she already is. It wasn't that she was unhappy or depressed, but more about how can she make small changes in her life to make her days even better. It really got me thinking... what does that for me? For so long this blog did and I let so many other things in my life get in the way. Not any more.

Enjoying what I cook or order then writing about it will only extend those little moments of happiness. How can that be so bad? Rather than getting worked up and trying to "catch up" on posts, I'm blogging at my leisure. So don't be surprised if you see 8 posts one week then don't hear from my for a week or two. I'm excited to get back into this! More yummy food to come! Stay tuned...