Tag Archives: healthy

Farmer’s Market Bounty: Simple Asparagus Dishes

16 Apr

Sweet potato fries and asparagus

I got a little over-excited at the farmer’s market last weekend. I’m just so excited that we are finally seeing a couple new vegetables after a very long winter, that I had to buy a ton even though I knew I already had a lot of food in the house. I’ve been most excited about seeing asparagus everywhere (though as soon as the rhubarb comes in I’m sure I’ll be buying that up by the truckload), but I’d gotten bored of steaming it so I decided to do a couple other, equally simple, dishes with it this week.
The first was my justification for buying a pint of fingerling sweet potatoes, purely because they were adorable. I figured they would be perfect for baked sweet potato fries– hardly any cutting to do! And since roasted asparagus is delicious, I plonked some asparagus on to the pan for the last ten minutes of baking. Perhaps not a complete meal, but a delicious one.

Fingerling sweet potatoes from farmer's market versus massive sweet potato from Whole Foods

The next night I realized I still had a ton of asparagus, and my swiss chard was quickly looking very sad indeed. So I sauteed up the vegetables, added some lemon and spaghetti, and made a delicious pasta. Hooray for spring!
Baked Sweet Potato Fries and Asparagus
Baking sheet, sharp knife
As many sweet potatoes as you want
As much asparagus as you want
About 1 tbsp olive oil
Salt, pepper, chili powder, and cinnamon, to taste
Method: Preheat the oven to 450F. Peel the sweet potatoes if you want, but I don’t find it necessary. Cut the sweet potatoes into some sort of fry-shape (with the fingerlings, I just quartered them lengthwise). Toss in olive oil, and sprinkle over any seasonings you want (I used those listed above). Spread out into a single layer on the baking sheet, and put in the oven for about 15 minutes. While baking, break off the tough ends of the asparagus, and toss in bowl you tossed the sweet potatoes in, adding more oil if you want.
After 15 minutes, the sweet potatoes should be fairly tender. Stir them around a bit, and throw the asparagus on top, trying to spread it out evenly again but don’t worry if it doesn’t fit in one layer. Put back in the oven for about 10 minutes, at which point the asparagus should be done, and the sweet potatoes crispy in places. Devour in one sitting.

So many good things in one pan

Spaghetti with Swiss Chard and Asparagus
Equipment: Pot, frying pan, knife
One bunch swiss chard (it will shrink a lot)
Half a bunch asparagus (or more)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
Juice 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper
Method: Put a large pot of salted water on to boil. While waiting to boil, roughly chop the swiss chard. Break off the tough ends of the asparagus (if you bend the stalk, it will naturally snap where it is tough). Discard or save for another use (such as in broth). Cut the stalks and heads into roughly one-inch pieces. Peel the cloves of garlic, and smash with the broad side of a knife. When water boils, add enough spaghetti for about two people. While it is cooking, heat olive oil in frying pan over medium heat. Put garlic in oil, and cook until it softens at edges, about a minute. Add asparagus and swiss chard. Season with salt and pepper and saute, stirring occasionally, until swiss chard is wilted and asparagus is cooked, but with some bite, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat if it is done before spaghetti.
When it is cooked al dente, drain spaghetti and toss into frying pan along with 1 tbsp butter and juice of half a lemon. Return pan to heat, and toss with vegetables until butter is melted. Taste, and add more lemon juice or seasonings if desired. Eat immediately. Serves two.


Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

27 Feb

Yummy stuffed peppers.

I saw this recipe a few weeks ago in Shape magazine, and despite my aversion to anything with the word “diet” in it, thought it looked like a pretty delicious lunch or dinner idea.  Plus, I’d been looking to experiment with quinoa (can we please just spell it qeenwa from now on?) since I keep hearing about how it is some crazy superfood that makes you live forever.  Or something like that.  I changed this recipe a bit, mainly making it much less healthy by adding more cheese than necessary and laughing at the idea of only using “salt free herb seasoning”.  But it ended up really well, and was extremely filling- I made two peppers at once but ended up saving most of one since the quinoa and vegetable stuffing was very hearty.  If you don’t want to go through actually putting the stuffing into the pepper, the filling would be very good as a side dish to a main course of chicken or fish.  Once you get the hang of cooking quinoa (apparently Gina had some sort of quinoa accident once, but it’s really not hard), it’s very easy to add to cold or warm salads as well.

Cheese and Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
Adapted from Cinch!
Makes 2 stuffed peppers

Equipment: Knife, cutting board, small saucepan, frying pan or skillet, baking sheet or baking dish

1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup water
2 red or green bell peppers
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 red or white onion, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
1/2 cup shredded carrots (optional)
1/2 cup baby spinach
1/2 cup sliced white mushrooms
1/2-3/4 cup cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon breadcrumbs
A few fresh basil leaves, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place quinoa and water into a small saucepan, bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer, cover and let cook until all water is absorbed, about 20 minutes.  Cut the tops off the peppers, and remove the seeds and membranes.

Heat a frying pan or skillet on medium-high heat, add the olive oil, and once hot add the onion.  Saute for 3 minutes or until translucent, then add the garlic, carrots, baby spinach, and mushrooms.  Saute for another 5 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.  Add basil, and salt and pepper to taste, then take off the heat and transfer vegetables to a bowl.  Mix in the cooked quinoa and fold in the cheddar cheese.

Place peppers on a baking sheet or in a baking dish, and fill with the quinoa mixture.  Sprinkle breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese over the top.  Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes, or until pepper is slightly charred.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Turkey Meatloaf with Raisins

5 Feb

I have always had something of an aversion to meatloaf. I think for something to be called “comfort food,” you have to have eaten it growing up… and I cannot imagine meatloaf ever being served in the Spice household. The texture, shape, look… everything about meatloaf kind of puts me off, and though I’ve tried decent versions, it’s never something that I would choose to eat if there are other options. (The look, by the way, is why there are no pictures on this post. Nobody would make this if you saw a picture first.)

But then I randomly bought some ground turkey at the grocery store the other week, and needed to use it up. I realized that everything I would normally do with ground meat is tomato-centric (chili, pasta sauce), and I’m trying to avoid tomatoes. So I was about to just freeze it and use it up later, when I stumbled across this recipe. I think the raisins and cous cous won me over—it actually sounded pretty good, and I decided to give it a try.

Well, I’m not going to say that I’m a total meatloaf convert, but this was definitely very good, and one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever made. The spices work well with the turkey, and I love the raisins in it. The only thing I would probably change next time is to use a different, bigger grain. I think the cous cous added to the whole “weird texture” problem I have with meatloaf (also not helped by using ground turkey, which I find inherently weird). I would try using a bigger grain, but pre-cooked. Other than that, this was an awesome recipe that I will probably use again!

Note: Recipe below is how I made it, without accompanying sauce. Follow link for sauce instructions!

Turkey/”Moroccan-Inspire” Meatloaf (Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens)

Equipment: Mixing bowl, knife, loaf or square-shaped pan

1 cup raisins
1/2 small red onion
1/2 cup uncooked cous cous, or cooked other grain
1 tsp salt
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 lb ground turkey
1 egg, lightly beaten


Put water on to boil. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Roughly chop the onion, and combine in a bowl with the raisins, cous cous, salt, curry powder, and cinnamon. Pour in 3/4 cup boiling water and cover for two minutes. And the turkey and beaten egg, and mix well. Pour into foil-lined and greased (or just greased) loaf tin or 8×8 pan. Bake in the top third of the oven for 20-25 minutes, until baked through and no longer pink. Makes about 6 servings.

How to Survive Maine Winters

20 Jan

Gina has Le Creuset (and chili) envy

As Roxie keeps telling me, I’ve been extremely negligent about blogging recently. I ensure you that will change very shortly, but for now enjoy Emma’s scrumptious-looking white chili!- Gina

Greetings from Maine! Emma, here. I’m writing from my parents’ house in Bangor, where it’s currently 9 degrees outside and the forecast for tomorrow predicts 6-10 inches of snow. Needless to say, I’m doing everything I can to stay warm. That includes spending minimal time outdoors, outfitting myself from head to toe in fleece and wool, and cooking up cozy meals like this Creamy White Chicken Chili.

The perfect meal?!

I adapted the recipe (with only a few small changes) from one of my favorite food blogs, “Eat, Live, Run.”  I recommend serving this with a bowl of blue tortilla chips, if only to bring some color to the table. A great meal for a cold winter’s night!
Creamy White Chicken Chili (Adapted from Eat, Live, Run)
Equipment: one large pot
2 lbs boneless chicken breast, cubed
2 medium onions, small diced
1 T extra virgin olive oil
20 oz. chicken broth
2 cans cannellini beans
1 can kidney beans
2 4oz cans of green chiles (found in the Mexican food aisle…that took me a while)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper (less if you’re adverse to spiciness)
2 garlic cloves, minced
.5 cups half and half
8 oz. lite sour cream 


1. Heat the oil in a large pot. Saute the onion and chicken until the onion is clear and the chicken is seared (5-10 minutes).
2. Add garlic and cook for another 3 minutes.
3. Add beans, spices, chicken broth, and green chiles and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
4. Remove from heat and mix in half and half and sour cream.
Serves 6

An Interlude: Spinach and Chickpeas

21 Nov

I'm sure the Top Chef judges would fault my plating

First of all, because I’m sure at least some of you are wondering, let me reassure you that Roxie’s Thanksgiving dinner was a great success. The pie was awesome and made me very excited to get home and get baking for real Thanksgiving, and the rest of the dinner was delicious too. (The turkey came out perfectly, though I think they still had approximately half a bird left at the end of the night.)

I was craving something a little lighter in between that huge meal and the long weekend of eating that is in front of me, though, and this chickpea and spinach dish came to mind immediately. It’s hearty and flavorful, but also doesn’t make me feel like I’ve stuffed myself. It’s also made almost entirely of items I keep in stock, which is always a bonus. I think it makes a perfect lunch dish, except for the fact that it takes a little longer to make than I usually have for lunch– but it reheats really well, and I got three servings out of this recipe (which I halved from the original), when stretched with some toast.


The toast, mashed up as best I could

As Deb notes in the original, this is a very flexible recipe. I would say to add more spinach than you think you want, because it always shrinks so much. Add the spices conservatively, as there’s always time later on to taste and add more– one of the advantages of cooking without meat is it’s easy to taste-test! And don’t worry, we’ll get back to heavily-caloric Thanksgiving recipes without much ado.

Spinach and Chickpeas (Adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Equipment: Large saucepan, wooden spoon, food processor (optional), colander


2 1/2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 pound (225 g) spinach, washed

1 slice brown bread

1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced

1/2 tsp ground cumin

Pinch of red pepper flakes or  chili powder

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup tomato sauce (This time I used plain tomato sauce that you can find in little cans, last time I just used pasta sauce I had around. Both worked fine.)

1/4 tsp smoked paprika (optional)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Juice of half a lemon


Place a large saucepan over medium heat and add a tablespoon of olive oil. When it is hot, add the spinach with a pinch of salt (in batches, if necessary) and stir well. Remove when the leaves are just tender, drain in a colander and set aside.

Remove crusts from bread and cut into small cubes. Heat another tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat (I just used the same saucepan). Fry the bread for about 5 minutes or until golden brown all over, then add the remaining half-tablespoon of oil and the garlic, cumin and red pepper. Cook for 1 minute more or until the garlic is nutty brown.

Transfer to a food processor, blender or mortar and pestle along with the vinegar, and mash to a paste, or just bang it around with a wooden spoon off the heat until fairly mushy. Return the mixture to the pan and add the drained chickpeas and tomato sauce. Stir until the chickpeas have absorbed the flavors and are hot. Season with salt and pepper.

If the consistency is a little thick, add about 1/4 cup of water. Add the spinach and cook until it is hot. Check for seasoning and serve with paprika on top, or on toast.

Homemade Granola (aka Hippie Food)

16 Nov

Granola! (sorry for the weird lighting)

I feel like a hippie writing this, but I started to make my own granola this summer and it has become something of a hobby of mine. I’ve only ever used variations on Mark Bittman’s recipe, which I understand to be somewhat controversial because it doesn’t use any oil or other fat. While this does mean that there are no clumps in the granola, I think I prefer it this way. Granola really is the easiest thing in the world to make—just go to a good grocery or health food store and pick out whatever seeds and nuts you like, and toss it all together. I’ve been going to Whole Foods for this, but have been pretty disappointed by their selection—it seems they sell more pre-made granola in their bulk containers than they do seeds or nuts. I’ve put below the proportions I’ve settled on that matches my personal preference, but I urge you to go look at Bittman’s recipe for more ideas to figure out what you might like.

Homemade Granola Adapted from Mark Bittman

Equipment: bowl, brimmed cookie sheet, spatula/wooden spoon

My Ingredients:

6 cups rolled oats

Less than a cup sunflower seeds

More than a cup sliced almonds

3/4 cup dried unsweetened shredded coconut

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla

dash salt

dash nutmeg

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 and 1/2-2 cups dried fruit (mix of raisins and dried cranberries)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a big bowl, combine all ingredients except dried fruit. Spread on cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes or longer, stirring at least every 10 minutes to ensure it bakes evenly. Take it out whenever you feel it is done– the browner it gets, the crunchier it will be.

Remove pan from oven and stir in dried fruit. Cool on tray, stirring occasionally, and transfer to sealed container once granola reaches room temperature.

Enjoy with milk, yogurt, or as a snack on its own.