Babaganoush (Babaganouj)

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As the farming season comes to a close, I’ve been trying to scoop up all the veggies at the farmer’s market before they’re totally gone. Where I live, it’s prime time for eggplant – the shining star of my babaganoush recipe. Babaganoush is a delicious dip frequently served with pita bread in most Middle Eastern restaurants. If you haven’t had babaganoush before it is essentially hummus WITHOUT chickpeas and WITH eggplant. And it’s delicious (did I mention that?) Traditionally, the eggplant is grilled but I simply sliced mine up and roasted it for about 15-20 minutes. This recipe can easily be doubled for a large group of people. While even hummus has become somewhat of a common staple, this babaganoush is a creative recipe to serve for company. Side note: I always find it very difficult to tell when eggplants are ripe. If they’re overripe, they can be very bitter and who wants to eat bitter eggplant? I think the best way to tell if they’re ripe is to give them a firm but gentle squeeze and if the skin bounces back, then you’re good. But if the eggplant if soft and your fingers leave an imprint, the eggplant is likely overripe. Eeek!

Dietary info: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free
Yield: about 2 cups
Time: 30 minutes

•1 large eggplant
•1/4 cup tahini
•1 tablespoon lemon juice
•2 tablespoons olive oil
•2 large cloves of garlic
•1 teaspoon cumin
•Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: 1 teaspoon Zaatar*
Optional: Chopped herbs, such as parsley

* Zaatar (Za’atar) is a common Middle Eastern spice blend usually consisting of oregano, sumac, coriander, sesame seeds and thyme though there are different variations.

1. Slice eggplant into 1/4 inch coins and salt. Roast for about 15-20 minutes.

2. When eggplant is done (it will have shriveled a bit) you have the tedious option of de-seeding the eggplant. I do not do this. I am lazy. I also don’t think there is anything wrong with using the seeds.

3. Throw all ingredients into a food processor and process for about 30 seconds. Assess the situation. Is it super chunky? If you want it super chunky, then cool. You’re done. If you want it to be smooth, you probably want to scrape the sides and purée it for another 30 seconds. Garnish with Zaatar, herbs of your choice or just a little olive oil. Enjoy!

Oh, and you can use it as a spread on sandwiches too!

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Moroccan Lentil Soup with Chickpeas and Kale

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It just so happens that January is soup month! I love soup more than a lot of things in this world, which might be why I’m a January baby. This January has been especially frigid. In fact, today was 7 degrees (!!!) here on the east coast. So I thought, what better way to warm up than with a big bowl of hearty lentil soup? In celebration of soup month, I have made this vegan version of Moroccan Harira soup, traditionally made with lamb and served at Ramadan. Note: I added chopped kale but spinach is great too. Also, if you happen to have any garam masala laying around it really adds a lot of flavor!

Dietary Info: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free

Serves: 6-8

Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

  • 1- 1/2 cups brown lentils
  • 1 15 oz. can chickpeas
  • 1 28 oz. can tomato purée
  • 7 cups of water
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 large celery sticks, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups chopped kale
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 3 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Optional: 1 large pinch garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

    1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté for about 3 minutes. Then, add carrots and celery and sauté for another 3 minutes.

    2. Add tomato purée, water, spices, salt, pepper, bay leaves, lemon juice and lentils. Bring to a boil for several minutes. Cover and simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    3. Add chickpeas, kale, parsley and cilantro. Simmer uncovered for 15 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Note: The soup will be very thick by now, much like a stew. Add water if you would prefer it to be thinner. Remove bay leaves and serve, garnished with fresh parsley. Enjoy and stay warm!

    Spiced Zucchini Carrot Loaf with Walnuts

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    Brrrrrr! The “polar vortex” that has hit the Northeast has certainly kept me indoors (and dreaming of springtime) for the past few days. However, being cooped up inside has given me the opportunity to make some real yummy things! This zucchini carrot bread is the perfect winter treat, especially delicious right out of the oven! Note: You can change things up by adding 1/4 cup nuts (pecans would be good too!) and 1/4 cup raisins.

    Yield: 1 loaf (12 slices)

    Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

    • 1 cup grated zucchini
    • 3/4 cup grated carrot
    • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 2 large eggs
    • 2/3 cup vegetable oil + 1 tablespoon for greasing pan
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
    • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grate zucchini and carrots and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs. Add sugars, vanilla and vegetable oil. Continue whisking until combined. Grease a 9-by-5 inch pan with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and set aside.

    2. In a small mixing bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt. Add flour mixture to the large mixing bowl. Stir until well combined using a large mixing spoon. Add grated zucchini, carrot and walnuts. Stir to combine.

    3. Gradually pour mixture into greased 9-by-5 inch pan. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean (baking times may vary). Allow bread to cool for 5-10 minutes in the pan, then transfer the loaf to a wire rack by inverting. Note: You may want to loosen the bread by using a spatula or knife. Allow bread to cool several minutes longer and then slice! Bread will stay fresh for up to 3 days. I usually cover mine in foil. Enjoy!

    Stove-Top Mediterranean Frittata

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    Dietary Info: Gluten-Free

    Serves: 4

    Time: 20 minutes

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/8 cup milk
  • 1 cup chopped spinach
  • 1 tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

    1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, dill, salt, pepper and cheeses. Set aside.

    2. Heat oil on medium heat in a small(ish) skillet. Add onions and cook for two minutes, then add garlic. Cook for two minutes then add spinach, stirring frequently. Cook for three minutes then pour in egg mixture. Once egg mixture has been added, do not stir.

    3. Using a rubber spatula, lift the edges of the mixture toward the center of the pan, allowing the liquid egg to flow underneath. Continue to do this until there is no liquid left, shifting the pan as you lift up the edges.

    4. Cover and cook on low heat for 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes. Divide into four separate slices and serve. Enjoy!

    Kale Salad with Balsamic Roasted Butternut Squash

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    I’ll be honest, I have been eating like a pig for the past few weeks. I’ve been spending way too much time by the dessert table at holiday parties. I love sweets and I love baking so I’ve also been making my fair share of holiday treats. While I love making holiday cookies for my family, I thought it might be time to balance out the baked goods with a superfood salad. This kale salad is topped with Candied Pecans, goat cheese, dried cranberries and roasted butternut squash making this the perfect salad for the holiday season (a great starter for Christmas dinner, perhaps?) The honey balsamic dressing adds the right amount of sweetness to help balance out the bitterness of the kale. Note: You can use agave instead of honey for the dressing (which also works great as a marinade)!

    Serves: 4

    Time: 45 minutes

    Dietary Info: Dairy-Free option, Gluten-Free

    For the salad:

  • 1 bunch of kale, chopped and cleaned
  • 2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 cup cranberries
  • 1/2 cup Candied Pecans
  • 1/3 cup goat cheese*

    *Omit for a dairy-free recipe.

    For the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the dressing by combining all ingredients and stirring vigorously.

    2. In a small mixing bowl, add butternut squash and 1/3 cup of the dressing. Toss to coat butternut squash. Add butternut squash to a roasting pan and place in oven for about 35 minutes or until squash is tender.

    3. While squash is roasting, prepare the salad. Throw kale into a large salad bowl, followed by cranberries, pecans and goat cheese. When butternut squash is tender, add to salad. Toss gently and serve immediately. Drizzle with sweet balsamic dressing. Enjoy!

    Soothing Herbal Tea Blend

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    I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather for the past few days, which happens to me at the start of winter every year. So, I made myself this little herbal remedy – a concoction consisting of peppermint (for flavor) and chamomile (for it’s calming properties). I also added mullein and echinacea, two herbs that help to combat respiratory illness and sore throats. I buy these dried herbs in bulk at my health food store but you can also buy them online. This blend is delicious and great for cold season!

  • 1/4 cup dried peppermint
  • 1/4 cup dried chamomile
  • 1/4 cup dried mullein
  • 1/4 cup dried echinacea

    Throw herbs together so that they are combined and store tea in an airtight container, such as a mason jar. Use 1 tablespoon of the blend per each cup of tea. I use a tea infuser, which can be found online but if you do not have one and do not want to invest in one, that’s not a problem! Just pour boiling water over the leaves and steep for 15 minutes then pour hot water through a strainer which should catch any loose leaves. Add a tablespoon of honey if desired (highly recommended, especially if you’re feeling under the weather). Enjoy!

    Candied Pecans with Sea Salt

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    A very quick and easy recipe, these sweet AND savory pecans are great for putting on salads or just for snacking! This recipe can be made using simple syrup but I’ve started using honey, which is just as yummy and a (somewhat) healthier alternative. A great little treat to serve at your holiday party, you can easily double this recipe. People will go nuts for these nuts! (I couldn’t resist)

    Time: 20 minutes

    Yield: 2 cups

    Dietary Info: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free

  • 2 cups of raw pecan halves
  • 1/2 cup local honey or agave syrup
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

    2. In a medium mixing bowl, drizzle honey over pecans. Add brown sugar, cinnamon and sea salt. Stir to thoroughly combine so that the pecans are evenly coated.

    3. In a single layer, place pecans on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Remove from oven and let cool for about 3 minutes before transferring to a serving bowl or airtight container. Enjoy!

    Vegetable Sauté with Quinoa and Black Eyed Peas

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    Time: 20 minutes

    Serves: 2

    Dietary Info: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free

  • 1/2 cup quinoa, cooked (yields 1 cup)
  • 1 cup black eyed peas, cooked or canned*
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 1/2 cup asparagus, chopped
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 1/3 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • dash of cayenne
  • dash of smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chopped parsley, for garnish
  • *If using canned black eyed peas, drain and rinse.

    1. In a small saucepan, bring quinoa and 1 cup of water to a boil. Simmer and cook covered for 10-15 minutes.

    2. While quinoa is cooking, heat oil in a medium sized pan. Lightly toast almonds for about 3-4 minutes then add garlic and onions, sautéing for another 3 minutes. Add asparagus, carrots and peas and sauté for another 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add black eyed peas, cumin, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper followed by cooked quinoa. Stir to completely combine for another minute or two.

    3. Serve, topped with chopped parsley. Enjoy!

    Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate Chips

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    Pumpkin and oatmeal and chocolate, oh my! These are my favorite cookies in the world. I bake them every year around the holiday season and they are always a huge hit- buuuut I can’t help secretly hoarding half of them for myself. Note: these are also really good with some chopped nuts! Mix it up!

    Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

    Yields: About 30 cookies

  • 1 15 oz. can pumpkin purée (or 1-3/4 cups of homemade purée)
  • 2-3/4 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 2-1/4 cup flour
  • 1 12 oz. bag chocolate chips
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt

    1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine flour, oats, spices, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.

    2. In a large mixing bowl, cream sugars and softened butter using an electric hand mixer. Add egg, vanilla and pumpkin purée. Then, add in dry ingredients and mix until combined. Add in chocolate chips and combine (but do not over mix). Refrigerate for 30-45 minutes.

    3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While oven is preheating, grease a large baking sheet. Roll dough into individual balls about the size of a golf ball. Place dough balls on the baking sheet about an inch apart. Bake for 18-20 minutes.

    4. Let cookies cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes before totally devouring. Enjoy!

    Huevos Rancheros with Pico de Gallo

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    This is the most delicious (and quick!) breakfast ever. Though Huevos Rancheros is traditionally served on top of a corn tortilla, I like mine over a bed of arugula, making it gluten free. I like to give my eggs a little splash of sriracha (while my boyfriend totally douses his) and a large pinch of smoked paprika, which really gives the dish a good flavor! Bonus: the Pico de Gallo is also really yummy served with chips!

    Serves: 2

    Time: 15 minutes

    Dietary Info: Gluten-Free

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup of corn, frozen, canned or cooked
  • 2 cups of greens (mesclun, arugula, etc)
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup feta
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/8 cumin
  • Pinch of cayenne (more if you like it really spicy)
  • Pinch of smoked paprika, for garnish
  • Optional: top with a splash of red chile sauce

    For the Pico de Gallo:

  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1/2 small jalapeño, minced
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

    1. Throw all the Pico ingredients together and set aside. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a medium skillet and sauté onions and peppers for 3-5 minutes. Add black beans, corn and spices. Cook for 3-5 more minutes, stirring frequently.

    2. In a separate skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil and cook eggs sunny side up for several minutes until done. Remove from heat and serve over a bed of greens. Top with Pico, feta smoked paprika and hot sauce if desired. Enjoy!