Tag Archives: cooking

Red Lentil Burgers

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Last week, I bought red lentils from Whole Foods because, for some reason, they were out of every single type of other lentil (perils of grocery shopping on Sunday night).  Unbeknownst to me, red lentils cook a little bit differently than green or French lentils and end up really soft and smooshy.  In other words, they are not good for making a lentil salad.  But they are absolutely perfect for burgers.  So this recipe happened.  I served it with the same roasted eggplant that I posted here, but you could serve it with a salad, soup, whatever your heart pleases.

What you need:

  • 1 lb red lentils
  • bay leaf
  • 1 carrot, cut into 3 large pieces
  • celery, cut into 3 large pieces
  • 1/4 of a small onion
  • 1/2 cup of panko bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 T parsley
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 green onion, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 t curry powder
  • 1/2 t ginger

What you do:

  1. Bring a medium pot of water to boil.  Add the lentils, bay leaf, carrot, celery and onion.  Cover and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes or until lentils are fully cooked (they’ll be a little mushy).
  2. Drain the lentils and allow to cool in a medium mixing bowl.  Add in the egg, parsley, garlic
  3. Once the lentils have reached room temperature, add in the rest of the ingredients and mix until it reaches a burger-patty-like consistency and the mixture can be packed into burger patties without falling apart.  If you need to, add more panko bread crumbs.
  4. Heat about 3 T of olive oil in a large skillet.  Using, a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop the lentil mixtures into balls and then flatten into patties.  Place in the skillet and allow to cook on each side for about 3-4 minutes or until golden brown.
  5. Enjoy!
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Learning to Cook with Chicken Breasts

I’ve always hated boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  They tend to be dried out, unflavored and generally taste like sawdust, so usually I avoid them.  I recently discovered that I don’t hate all chicken though, despite thinking for awhile that I did.  Roasted chicken, chicken thighs, chicken legs, these are all good things.  Organic, farmers’ market chicken also happens to taste better than all other chicken (not exactly a surprise).  Boneless, skinless chicken breasts though?  Still at a loss of what to do with.

I was digging around the internet in an attempt to avoid studying for my Anatomy Lab Practical (let me tell you, if I never have to differentiate between leukocytes ever again, it will still be too soon) and found a couple of ideas for how to cook boneless, skinless chicken breasts that don’t taste like sawdust.  Below are a few I found, but I’d really love to know if you have any recipes or ideas on how I can turn chicken breasts into my new favorite food!

How to Make Chicken Breasts in a Slow Cooker from Fifteen Spatulas

Photo: FifteenSpatulas.com

Lemon Chicken Breasts from Ina Garten

Photo: FoodNetwork.com

Parmesan Crusted Chicken from Martha Stewart

Photo: MarthaStewart.com

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An Oil Primer

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There are so many different kinds of oils out there, each claiming to have all sorts of health benefits, but how do you break it down in deciding which oils to cook with and when?  This is just a brief introduction to cooking oils, and I’m sure I’ve missed a few, so if you have more that I didn’t include, please share in the comments!

Olive Oil:  I try to use this for as much as I can, but the biggest problem with olive oil is that it has a low-tolerance for heat.  When cooking foods on high-temperatures, you don’t want to use olive oil because it can become carcinogenic if cooked at high-temperatures for long periods.  Carcinogens = cancer, so don’t do this.  Olive oil is great though for making salad dressings, lightly frying things, roasting, baking and dipping.

Vegetable Oil: This is for the high-heat cooking and frying.  Also some baking, but you can usually replace vegetable oil in any baking recipes with applesauce.  I mostly use vegetable oil to season my cast-iron pans and not for much else.

Coconut Oil: Coconut oil is a solid at room temperature.  Want to know why?  It’s a saturated fat.  After years of research telling us to avoid saturated fat, it turns out there is a difference between good and bad saturated facts.  Coconut oil contains a saturated fat called lauric acid which helps to increase the good high-density lipid (HDL) cholesterol in your body (yeah, there’s such a thing as good cholesterol too).  HDLs actually help to lower your overall cholesterol count and can help with some thyroid issues.  So that’s pretty cool.  Coconut oil is very stable (as it’s a saturated fat-anyone take Organic Chem?) and can be used for cooking at high temperatures.  You can also usually substitute any recipe that calls for oil or butter with this stuff.  It’s not lower calorie, but it’s definitely a better option.  You can also use coconut oil as a lotion, make-up remover, etc, so it’s really not a bad thing to have around.

Sesame Oil: I use sesame oil when making stir-frys or anything that I want to give an Eastern Asian flavor.  The light sesame oil has a high smoke-point and can be used for high temperature cooking whereas darker sesame oil is not good for deep frying or anything involving super high temperatures.  Instead, use it for lightly sauteing or stir-frying.  Sesame oil is not very stable, so it’s important that you remember to keep it refrigerated to keep it from going rancid and to protect the antioxidants it contains.

Truffle Oil:  You don’t want to cook with this oil.  This is a finishing oil, as in, you drizzle it on top at the end of the cooking process.  Truffle oil is a gift from the heavens in my opinion and should go on anything and everything savory.  It’s not cheap, but if you only use a little bit at a time (which is what you should probably be doing anyway), it will last for ever.

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Kombucha and Probiotics

I have to tell you.  The first time I tried kombucha, I thought it was digusting.  I also thought it was digusting the second, third, fourth and fifth time I tried it.  I tried all different kinds of brands and flavors and could never bring myself to actually like it.  Until I found one with ginger.  Ginger does a great job of masking the sort of sour, fermented flavor that comes with drinking kombucha (it is is fermented tea after all) and after discovering that, I can’t get enough of it.

This is one of my favorite kombucha drinks.  Source: Synergy Drinks

This is one of my favorite kombucha drinks. Source: Synergy Drinks

The other great news is that kombucha is really good for you.  It has all sorts of vitamins (tons of B-vitamins to be specific_ and awesome probiotics that help to keep your digestive system regular as well as boosting your immune system.  A lot of recent research has come out proclaiming that probiotics do all sorts of great things, like reduce risks of cancer, heart disease and other illnesses.  Other sorts of fermented foods, like pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, cheese and yogurt all contain probiotics too, just different kinds, so it’s important not to rely on just one source for all of your probiotic needs.  Probiotics are the good bacteria that help to fight off bad bacteria.  It’s especially important, if you’re taking antibiotics or any other drug that may kill of some of the good bacteria in your system, that you help it to regrow by eating and drinking things that contain probiotics.  Of course, ask your health care provider before doing this, but for the most part, you should be fine.

Here are just a couple of things probiotics can do for you:

  • Improve digestion
  • Prevent and treat vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections
  • Treat irritable bowel syndrome
  • Reduce bladder cancer recurrence
  • Prevent or reduce the severity of colds and flu

Michael Pollan’s new book Cooked

, has a whole section dedicated to the beauty of probiotics and fermentation.  I really enjoyed reading this book and learned so much from it.  I defintiely recommend if you want to learn more about what you’re eating!

Let me know how you feel about kombucha in the comments!

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Discuss: Nutritional Information

This article just came out from Gallup about a recent study that was done on how much people pay attention to the nutritional content information that is posted on restaurant menus.  Apparently, only 43% of Americans pay even a fair amount of attention to this information, whereas 68% of Americans say they pay at least a fair amount of attention to nutritional content information that is posted on food packages.

Personally, I pay attention.  If I’m going out to eat, and I have advance warning, I’ll make sure to look up the calorie and nutrition content online beforehand to make an informed decision.  If I’m stepping out for lunch to grab something really quick to eat, I always always always look at the calorie and nutrition information when I’m making a decision.  I have regretted way too many times finding out that a particular tortilla is over 500 calories or that the cheese on a sandwich adds up to at least 250 calories.   Not to mention, knowing if your particular order comes smothered in mayonnaise or another cream heavy sauce, helps you to decide if you’re willing to put in that extra time at the gym to burn off that additional 200 calories or if you’d rather save that time and calories for something else and ask for that sauce to go on the side or to not go on your meal at all.

So I’d love to know, do you pay attention to the nutritional content that is posted at restaurants?  Has it helped you at all to make healthier, better decisions?  Or do you just ignore it and still eat what you want?

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Peach and Blueberry Whole-Wheat Crisp

Peach and Blueberry Whole-Wheat Crisp

Ever since I got a cast-iron skillet for Christmas last year, I’ve been trying to come up with new fun ways of using it.  I’ve done cakes in there, eggs in there, anything I can think of, I use that cast-iron skillet for.  So when my sister showed up two nights ago with bags of produce (including tons of peaches and blueberries) I decided to go ahead and make a crisp in the skillet.

What I used:

  • 2 fresh peaches, cut into slices
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • splash of vanilla
  • 1 stick of butter at room temperature

What I did:

  1. First I combined the flour, sugar, vanilla and butter in a bowl using a fork until it became crumbly.
  2. Then, I arranged the peaches and blueberries in the cast iron pan.  You can grease the pan if you want, but you don’t have to.
  3. Next I spread the crumbly mixture on top of the fruits and baked it in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until it was bubbly and the crumbly mixture was golden brown.
  4. Let it sit until cooled down and serve with frozen or regular yogurt (or ice cream, or whatever else delicious you want to put on top).
  5. Enjoy!

Peach Blueberry crisp

Let me know if there are any other kinds of fruits you like to add to your crisps!  I usually stick to the basics (strawberries, blueberries, peaches and rhubarb), but I’d love to know if you have any interesting suggestions!

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Falafel and Lamb Meatball Hybrid

Peach and Blueberry Whole-Wheat Crisp

Since I’ve known my boyfriend, he’s been intent on making a falafel/meatball hybrid. Well, the day finally came when we had ground lamb from our farmers market and falafel mix in our grocery store and voila, the day for making falafel/meatballs had come.

This was one of the more delicious things we’ve ever made. He just took the lamb, mixed it with the falafel mix from a box (lame yes, but also organic and much easier than making falafel from scratch). Then he baked the falafel/meat balls in the oven following the falafel mix instructions.

Peach and Blueberry Whole-Wheat Crisp

To serve, we made a wrap out of them. I put together a spinach salad with 3 of the most beautiful tomatoes from the farmers market, some sliced red onion, feta cheese and ground pepper. We used a lavash wrap and spread a layer of both tzatziki and hummus on the wrap.

This was so yummy and the perfect big meal after a long workout. It was also a pretty great way to start the week off right.

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Morning Smoothie

We start every morning off with a smoothie.  It’s a great way to get a ton of fiber, protein, vitamins and probiotics into your system before the day really begins.  Smoothies are super transportable (don’t put them in a metal container–it tends to alter the flavor in a bad way) if you’re running late to work or delicious as a side to a plate of scrambled eggs and toast when you have time for a relaxed breakfast.

Here’s what we had in ours this morning:ImageI use yogurt, banana, almond milk and spinach as a base in pretty much every smoothie I make (unless I happen to be out of an ingredient).  I play around with adding different fruits, seeds (flax or chia), sprouts and sometimes nut butters to make smoothies a little bit different every day.

This was my first time adding carrots to a smoothie, and it actually turned out really well.  The carrots blend really well and add a little bit of sweetness without the calories.

I’d love to know what you put in your smoothies! Any cool fruits or vegetable combos I should be trying?

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Collard Green Chili Paste Marinated Pork Loin

Pork Loin

This was our stay-in date meal last night, and it was REALLY good.  We bought the pork tenderloin and the collard green chili paste at the farmers’ market last week, as well as the Vitamin Greens.  Everything else was 100% organic and as fresh as possible.  We loved this meal, and hope you do too:

To make the Pork Loin:

  1. Prepare a marinade out of Collard Green Chili Paste (or any other kind of chili paste), bourbon, and a little bit of apple cider vinegar.  Rub all over the pork and allow to marinate for as long as you want.  We did about 7 hours, but you could do more.
  2. After waiting the desired time, remove the pork tenderloin from the bag and place into a glass baking tray.  Preheat oven t0 450ºF.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the brown rice.  Brown rice takes a little longer to cook than white, but that’s because it’s better for you and doesn’t break down so quickly in your digestive system.  Brown rice is about a 1:2 ratio, sometimes a little more.
  4. Once you have the brown rice going, put the pork into the oven.  It stays in for about 40 minutes or until the thermometer says its about 150ºF.
  5. While you have the rice and the pork tenderloin, start preparing your greens.  You can buy these pre-cut and bagged to save time, but usually things don’t come pre-cut and bagged from the farmers’ market, so time here will vary.  But once you have them read to go, start by sauteeing chopped onion and garlic until the onion is translucent.  Then throw the collard greens in with some apple cider vinegar and let it simmer until the greens are tender.
  6. After the rice has finished cooking, you’ll want to add some black beans (rinsed and drained if you’re using the canned kind) and some chopped up tomato.
  7. After you have the pork out, the rice done and the greens ready to go, slice up a banana and throw it into a pan with some olive oil until it turns golden brown.
  8. Serve, and enjoy!
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Beet-Pickled Duck Eggs

We moved up to Petworth, DC recently, which has been an awesome, amazing experience.  People are super friendly and it actually feels like we live in a neighborhood (a rarity in DC).  We were super excited to find out a couple of weeks ago that there is a farmer’s market every Friday about a block from our apartment.

The farmer’s market is a little on the small side (only about 10 or so stands), but it’s got everything you need.  There’s a great meat stand that sells really affordable happy meat, a couple of places that sell some really cool vegetables (vitamin greens anyone?) and a guy who sells some really awesome apples among other items.

When my boyfriend went a couple of weeks ago to pick up some happy pork tenderloin, he was disappointed to learn they’d run out already (people know this man has good meat).  Anyway, the man suggested instead that my boyfriend buy some duck eggs.  They were only $5, and came from the world’s happiest ducks.  Of course he said yes.

Now, a duck egg doesn’t work like a chicken egg.  It’s got a much bigger yolk and tastes a little bit different, but not really enough to notice.  But, since duck eggs aren’t something you have in your fridge every day, it doesn’t really make sense to scramble them up and have them for breakfast.  So after a few days of trying to figure out what to do with these delicious looking eggs, we finally stumbled upon beet-pickled duck eggs.

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Aren’t they beautiful?  We used this recipe and were incredibly happy with how they turned out.  The eggs can be eaten on their own or sliced up and put into sandwiches or salads.

Enjoy!

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