Sweet potato, arugula, black bean, avocado salad with pomegranate vinaigrette

sweet potato salad bowlOne of my recurring resolutions is to try more recipes from the cookbooks I receive and amass throughout the year. I’m happy to say that I’ve whipped up the chickpea dressing recipe from the Dirt Candy comic cookbook—which is a fun read and an inspiring and innovative take on vegetarian and vegan cuisine.

lentil ball saucedBut the book that is getting more use right now is the Meatball Shop cookbook, which isn’t even mine. The latest recipe we tried, the vegetarian lentil “meatball” recipe, was enjoyed by vegetarians and carnivores alike. We followed it to the letter, but have some ideas about changing it up for next time, so stay tuned.lentil balls

To accompany the lentil balls, I put together a winter “comfort salad” of roasted sweet potato, arugula, avocado, black beans, and toasted almonds. I call it a comfort salad because it’s hearty and satisfying even on a cold day when you wouldn’t gravitate toward salad, and it could be a meal on its own, along with a thick slice of grainy bread. I dressed it with a pomegranate vinaigrette, but considered topping it with this tahini dressing. Continue reading

Spiced Lentil Sweet Potato Soup

IMG_4173After finding a lentil and coconut milk soup recipe on Sprouted Kitchen I filed it away for a cold day.  Today’s that day, with a light snow coating everything and encouraging indoor pursuits.

IMG_4166The recipe called for lemongrass, which would amp up the flavor and be quite delicious, I’m sure, but I was not amped up to search the suburbs for it. I also added sweet potatoes because almost everything is better with some roasted sweet potatoes. And then there’s the coconut milk, the quantity that I reduced from the original so that I could save some calories for those cookies hidden away in the freezer. If you like a creamier soup, go for the full 1 ½ cups of full fat coconut milk. Continue reading

Rosemary, garlic, and cannellini bean spread

rosemary, garlic, and cannellini bean dipWe like spontaneous and last-minute neighbor drop-ins and have been encouraging our friends to come by even when we don’t have longstanding plans. For these occasions, I’m assembling a collection of quick and simple appetizer recipes that can be made with what I generally have on hand.

This rosemary, garlic, and bean spread has lots going for it: It comes together in less than 10 minutes, has bold flavors, and works for all food constituencies (vegans, picky eaters, and those with food allergies). I serve the spread with crackers, grainy bread, chunks of fresh fennel, or celery sticks. You can do some substitutions—chickpeas, black beans, or other white beans will work well, and chopped shallot can stand in for the garlic. Continue reading

Kale quinoa Cobb salad recipe

Here’s my new favorite salad. The story of how it came to be is also the answer to the question, “what have you been up to this summer?”

I had been wondering about the Boston University Gastronomy program and decided to dip my toe in the pool and signed up for a summer class, “Nutrition and Diet: Why What You Eat Matters.” For the past six weeks, most of my conscious nonworking life involved studying, cramming my brain with how our digestive system works, where our food comes from, what nutrients and how much of them we need, what foods have these nutrients, what sustainability means, what causes obesity, and what research has found about various diets. Yep, all in six weeks. The weekly seven hours of class time was riveting, taught by a nutrition and obesity researcher epidemiologist rockstar whose sheer energy, knowledge, and output (on her blog alone!) is an inspiration. And I was joined in class by other foodies including this blogger. Continue reading

Vegan father’s day lunch: Sweet potato edamame sandwiches

vegan father's dayAfter I wrote about one of my mom’s creative dinner feats, many of you wanted to know about my dad. Did he do unexpected stunts while raising my three brothers and me?

I don’t have one specific story, but there are many things he did that kept his sanity and made us who we are: Every 2 weeks we went to the library, and there was no such thing as an overdue book. On a quiet back road near the 5 freeway, he’d do “crazy driver,” abruptly swerving the car back and forth to make us giggle with delight. He took us screenings of movies he loved, usually starring the Marx brothers, Charlie Chaplin, or Harold Lloyd. He and my mom were committed to exposing us to culture and dragged us to concerts, museums, plays, and ethnic restaurants. And, to this day, he has always encouraged us to pursue our dreams and passions, even if it meant we would move thousands of miles away. Continue reading

Polenta and roasted vegetable pie for Mother’s Day

Getting dinner on the table

 If you ask any of my three brothers to tell you about a time when they laughed the hardest as a child, they will either recount watching the Cheech and Chong “Up In Smoke” movie with my dad, or they’d recall one specific family dinner.

My mom cooked for our family of six every night, kept track of my three brothers and me, and did all the housework. This was before feminism came to our Los Angeles suburb, so my mom just did her job and tried to get us to help when she could. But sometimes we didn’t do our part (and who could blame us–we were 6, 8, 10, and 12 at the time of this memorable meal). My mom would yell and we might or might not be more helpful next time. Eventually she came up with a better strategy. Continue reading

Foolproof turkey and sweet potato chili

Chili makes for an ideal cold weather dinner. It’s my standby when I’m having friends over, not sure exactly what time we will eat, and I want to make it in advance. It’s also hard to mess up.

To make it special, you can serve it with all kinds of fun toppings (avocados, sliced jalapenos, olives, etc.), with a salad and cornbread to round it out. And it’s happy to to simmer on low heat as you wait for your guests to arrive. Continue reading