Recipes

Smoked Eggplant Goulash

This is a great vegan/vegetarian take on classic goulash. If you’re looking for a way to increase your veggie intake, try this one out!

Ingredients:

• 2 eggplants
• 2 tbsp. olive oil
• 1 onion, diced
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 red bell pepper, chopped
• 1 red chili pepper, finely chopped
• 1 tbsp. lemon juice
• 1 tsp. smoked paprika
• 1 tsp. sweet paprika
• 1 can chopped tomatoes
• 1 tbsp. tomato puree
• 2 tbsp. chopped parsley

Instructions:

Wash the eggplant and cut them into ¼ inch slices. Season on both sides with salt and put aside for about 20 – 30 minutes, until the eggplant collects water.

In a large pot heat 1 tbsp. of oil and fry the onion for 2 mins, then add the minced garlic and cook together for another 1-2 mins.

Add the chopped red pepper and finely chopped chili peppers. Fry for about 4 minutes stirring constantly.

Dry the eggplant with paper towels and cut into cubes. Add it to the pot and add another 1 tbsp of oil. Fry for approx. 10 minutes, mixing occasionally.

During the frying, add lemon juice, season with both paprika powder and freshly ground black pepper (you do not need to add salt anymore because the eggplant has already absorbed the salt).

Add in the chopped tomatoes and tomato concentrate, stir and bring to a boil.

Cover and cook for another 15 minutes until the eggplant is soft. If necessary, you can add a few tablespoons of water to reach a desired consistency of the sauce.

At the end, add the chopped parsley and check the seasoning for salt.

Serve with brown rice or chickpea pasta.

   

Recipes

BEEF AND ROASTED EGGPLANT STEW

This hearty stew makes a perfect dinner for postpartum recovery. It’s packed with the veggies your body needs and gives you a good amount or iron from the beef and chickpeas. This is a great one to send to a friend or relative who wants to bring you a meal! Bonus: it also  freezes well, so you can prepare a double batch and save half for later.

Ingredients:

• 2 tbsp. olive oil
• 1 lb (450 g) lean  ground beef
• 2 medium eggplants, cut into bite-size pieces
• 2 cups (330g) cherry tomatoes
• 14oz. (400g) can chopped tomatoes
• 14oz. (400g) can chickpeas, drained
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, chopped
• 4 tbsp. tomato puree
• 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
• 2 tsp. mixed herbs
• handful parsley, chopped

Instructions:

Pre-heat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Place the cut eggplant into a baking dish and drizzle with 1 tbsp. olive oil and season with salt. Cook in the oven for 40 minutes until soft.

In the meantime, heat the remaining 1 tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Brown  the ground beef.

Add the onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 5-6 minutes until soft—then add in the mixed herbs, tomato puree, and cook for another 2 minutes.

Next, add in the chopped tomatoes, vinegar, chickpeas, and cherry tomatoes. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and continue simmering until the eggplant is ready.

Once the eggplant is soft, add into the tomato sauce and mix well. Serve with rice and chopped parsley.

   

Recipes

Mushroom Soup

Mushrooms, what?

That’s right. This soup is delicious and a great source of Vitamin D – making it a good choice for the winter. You can batch make this and freeze so you have easy lunches or dinner on a day when things get hectic.

Ingredients:

• 2 tbsp. coconut oil
• 1 onion, sliced
• 1/2 leek, chopped
• 5 1/3 cups (500g) mushrooms, sliced
• 1 small carrot, chopped
• 1 small parsnip, chopped
• 1 small potato, peeled, cubed
• 2 ½ cups (600ml) vegetable stock
• scant ½ cup (100ml) cream fraiche

Instructions:

In a large pot heat the oil, and sauté the chopped onion and sliced leek for about 3 mins.

Next, add washed and sliced mushrooms and fry for another 10 minutes stirring now and then. Add the carrot, parsnip and potato. Mix well and cook for 3-4 mins. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour in the hot vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Simmer, covered for about 15 mins. until the vegetables are soft.

Mix with a hand blender until smooth, add cream at the end and serve.

   

Health & Wellness

Healthy Shelf Stable Essentials

Alright, let’s talk about nutrition that can stay on a shelf. Healthy shelf stable essentials.

With many grocery stores having empty meat, produce, and dairy sections (and even frozen foods!) it’s easy to think that you have to revert to eating a diet that’s high in refined carbs and low in veggies.

And let’s be real: you know a few weeks without a lot of fiber or micronutrients can leave us feeling shitty. Not to bash mac&cheese, but there’s better options than that and ramen noodles available.

So what can you get that’s both shelf stable and good for you?

Shelf Stable Essentials

Here are a few of my favorites healthy shelf stable essentials.

  1. Brown Rice: This contains carbohydrates (the good ones) for energy and fiber to help your digestion. It’s also packed with essential vitamins: B vitamins, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and selenium. All are needed for proper biological functioning (meaning, you need this stuff to feel good!)
  2. Black Beans (or your favorite kind): A great source of fiber, they also provide protein and vitamins like folate and vitamin K. Canned beans are fine. But if you find that you are sensitive to them (i.e. gassy), you may want to buy bulk dried beans instead. If you prepare them by soaking and then using a pressure cooker, the lectins in the beans break down, which makes them much easier to digest. Added bonus: dried beans are super affordable!
  3. Sardines: My favorite shelf stable protein option! These little guys are packed with protein, healthy omega 3 fats, calcium, AND they have the lowest mercury content for fish. I highly encourage you to give them a try. They are super similar to canned tuna in flavor. You can prepare them just the same!
  4. Greens Powder: Yes, I’m a strong advocate for eating actual food. Sometimes, that’s not possible and here’s where greens powders like the two pictured here come in. These are packed with phytonutrients that go missing when we aren’t eating a large amount (and variety) of veggies. Get a scoop per day to help offset that.

Honorable mentions for healthy shelf stable foods are: canned and jarred veggies that still taste great like diced tomatoes, artichoke hearts, pumpkin, and corn; olives and olive oils; avocado oil; nuts and seeds like chia, hemp, almonds, walnuts; and coconut.

Let’s not forget about snacks! Check out my list healthy snack suggestions here.

What are some of your favorite pantry items? Comment here to let me know!

Health & Wellness, Time Management, Uncategorized

The UnFancy Recipes

This is the second post in my Home Cooked with Takeout Effort series and it is going to focus on what I call Un-Fancy recipes. Too often, when we look for recipes online we find something that sounds too complicated, has too many ingredients, and takes too long to make. We don’t have an hour and 10 minutes on a weeknight to juillene carrots or chop up 10 different vegetables. We don’t have the time to brown the roast on all sides in ghee before cooking it for 20 minutes per pound. Then on “good days” where we actually do make a recipe we found online, we end up with too many dishes to wash, portions that were too small, and specialty ingredients that we don’t know how to finish before they go bad. So we feel like we wasted our time and money. All this often has a detrimental effect on our confidence in the kitchen “I’ll never be able to do that” or “I definitely don’t have that kind of time” or “Its ultimately a waste overall”

Here’s the secret though: most of us who cook regularly do not make things that are listed on a foodie blog. We cook in an Un-Fancy manner. We cook in a way that doesn’t seem worthy of posting online because the ingredients and steps are so simple. We use a standard “formula” to answer the “what’s for dinner?” question and go from there. It’s all very unglamorous. But it’s also very easy to learn, to implement, and to keep doing regularly.

This is my standard formula for a meal: make one protein, one starch/grain, and one veggie. I try to make sure the veggies are double the weight of whatever protein I am making. Thats it. The table below lists out examples of what falls into each of these categories.

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Now that we understand the formula, how do we keep it from getting “boring”? The secret here is keeping a few staple ingredients on hand and having several go-to spice blends. A huge hang up with recipes in general is that they cal for 1/2 teaspoon of 4 different spices, 1 teaspoon of 2 additional spices, and a tablespoon of 3 different sauces. Measuring out all of that (and even having all of it on hand) is a huge PITA (pain in the @#$) and time consuming. Having staple spice blends on hand eliminates this problem, while keeping your food super flavorful and delicious (and healthy to boot!). Here’s what I keep on hand in our kitchen:

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In addition to the spice blends, you want to have a few staple cooking ingredients on hand. These are a way to flavor your food without a lot of hassle. Keeping this list short helps you to use everything regularly. Using these regularly also has the added benefit of helping you learn how to use them efficiently and effectively to add flavor to meals. Here is a list of our family’s staple ingredients: olive oil, avocado oil, jar of minced garlic, apple cider vinegar (ACV), basalmic vinegar, lemon juice (get a glass bottle for way less hassle and many more uses than squeezing lemons), lime juice (optional, lemon works in most cases), amminos (healthy substitute for soy sauce), and avocado oil mayonnaise.

Ok, now how do we make this all work out to be easy meals that take you less time to make than takeout or delivery? Well, if you have a convection oven at home, you’ve hit the JACKPOT of easy home cooked dinners. In a convection oven, you can cook items on every rack in the oven at the same time. I will often place whichever baked chicken thighs we are having on the top rack, a pan of veggies on the middle rack, and a pan of carrots or potatoes (for the starch) on the bottom. The whole meal takes 35 minutes to be done once its in the oven, but it takes YOU only the 5-10 minutes of prep time to be actively “cooking” in the kitchen.

If you don’t have a convection oven, never fear! You can either roast your chicken and veggies side by side on the same rack and use an “instant starch,” OR you can use a steamed/sautéed veggie option. And if all else fails, a bag of salad is a great go-to option for the veggie choice (just be careful with the dressing, since they are often loaded with excess sugar).

Here are a few pictures showing how we usually combine items from the Un-Fancy Recipes. I encourage you to try this out ONE TIME this week. Swap out ONE take out or fast food run with one of these. When you do it, let me know how it worked!