Category Archives: dinners

On the Menu: Spiced Peanut Pumpkin Soup & a Hat Trick

The Runner’s World Festival week is here! Registration is still open and the discount codes are still up for grabs.

For the first time this season the soup-pot was busted out and the Veg Life Pinterest board was assessed for options. Currently working without a blender or functioning food processer means a little creativity is in order. Recently accepting that it’s no longer iced-coffee season and pumpkin is taking its reign worked out well for this dinner.

Thanks to MindBodyGreen’s Spicy West African Peanut soup, we had some inspiration to work with. This soup is a mixture of seasonal, spicy and dietary-restriction-friendly! Vegan (dairy-free) and gluten-free, but not missing a thing.

spicy peanut pumpkin soup

Spiced Peanut Pumpkin Soup

1 cup diced yellow onion
1 cup diced celery
1 Tbsp grated ginger (or dried to taste)
2 tsp minced garlic (or dried to taste)
1 Tbsp oil (EVOO or of choice)
Hot sauce to taste
Seasonings: cayenne, paprika, salt

1 can organic pureed pumpkin
2 cups Trader Joe’s Bloody Mary mix
3 cups water
1/4 cup peanut butter (natural, creamy)

Toppings: roasted kale, green onions & roasted pepitas

In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium. Sauté the celery, onion, garlic and ginger until softened. Add seasonings & hot sauce, continue stirring until cooked through. Add remaining ingredients one at a time, stirring thoroughly until well-mixed. Bring to a boil; simmer for 10-20 minutes until ready to serve (stir frequently). If you prefer a smooth soup, use an immersion blender to puree the sautéed vegetables.

Top with whatever your taste-buds want! We had kale ‘chips’ (i.e. roasted kale), sliced green onions and roasted pumpkin seeds (i.e. pepitas). It ‘twas delicious.

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There’s one other big item on the menu this week: a hat-trick!

On Saturday, I’ll be running two of three races (5k, 10k), and Sunday will round it out (half-marathon). Thursday I hit the road with Erika to join a host of other bloggers, Runners World team members and elite runners!

RW Festival_home

Come join a party  {festival} only RW could host!

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Filed under dinners, Meatless Monday, Races, recipes, running, vegetarian

Eggplant & Tofu Tacos

The grocery cart got a little overzealous last week, resulting in some new menu items and enough goods to actually take us through a weekend. If last year’s CSA taught me anything it’s that eggplant is partial to Maryland’s summer weather, but Trader Joe’s would have you thinking otherwise. It was in abundance on their shelves, and my taste-buds have had a long enough break to be okay with it.

We needed a fresh approach, and when there’s an avocado on the verge of browning you only have one choice: guacamole, it is.

Eggplant and tofu tacos

Eggplant & Tofu Tacos
Serves 2

Corn tortillas
1/2 block tofu, cubed
1 Tbsp. oil
1 red pepper, sliced
1/2 eggplant (cut length-wise), sliced
1/4 tsp. each – cayenne pepper, cumin
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
Guacamole*

Heat oil over medium in a deep skillet; add tofu and sauté for 3-5 minutes. Add eggplant, red pepper & seasonings. Cook until eggplant and pepper softens, and tofu begins to brown.

*Guacamole: 1 avocado, garlic powder, salt/pepper, cayenne, freshly squeezed lime juice. (Optional add-ins: chopped tomatoes, onion and/or jalapenos.)

Warm the corn tortillas in the microwave or in the oven, until softened. Line with the good green stuff (guac) and fill up with the eggplant & tofu mix.

Fold & enjoy!

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Filed under dinners, food, gluten free, lunches, Meatless Monday, recipes

Friday Four: Feats of Breaking Habit

In this week’s headlines, we have online dating hoaxes, Lance out and honest along with Obamas gearing up for putting another day in the history books. In this little world, we have small feats breaking big habits:

1) Oatmeal, take the bench. We have a new starting bowl in town:

egg & kale breakfast

We experimented with a few new cooking sauces this week (see #3), and while this breakfast bowl would’ve been just fine without the drizzle, that flavor bump made all the difference.

Scrambled Eggs + Kale + Almond-tahini sauce + salt/pepper

Just as easy to put together as my usual bowl o’ oats, and just as filling. Eating kale first thing in the morning seems to provide that defiant “I’m doing something awesome!” feeling. Super green + breakfast = winning. Eggs’ protein has the highest bioavailable value and that almost-tahini sauce added in a dose of healthy fats. Can’t go wrong here!

2) Sunday (Spicy Veggie) Slow-Cooker Stew
Say that five times fast.

It may take a little extra planning, thinking about dinner four hours before you want to eat dinner, but needless to say it’s worth it. This week I just threw in what we had on hand – no plan or recipe in mind – and voila! Dinner + lunch leftovers for two days*:

crockpot veggie stew

In the mix: cubed baby purple, red & gold potatoes, kale, orange pepper, diced fire-roasted tomatoes (with green chiles), diced red onion, vegetable broth & water (enough to cover all veggies), red pepper flakes, garlic powder & cumin.

*Let those red pepper flakes & green chiles sit and your mouth will burn. There’s your warning.

3) Pour on the special sauce

We’re branching far away from the usual balsamic vinaigrette, BBQ sauce & salsa toppings. D blended a few things together this week and officially spoiled our tastebuds. (My understanding is that it was something like: tamari, almond butter, raw almonds, salt/pepper, olive oil & fresh garlic.) I tested out Emily’s Tahini salad and have officially confirmed that it’s all about the special-sauce.

tahini sauce cauliflower salad

4) Be scared. Keep climbing.

To use up our 15 day pass and really get in some good practice, we headed back to Earth Treks last night for a post-work climb session. This time my hands actually reached the 40-ft top on 4-out-of-5 attempts. I could get used to this panicked-but-adrenaline-rushing feeling…

Climb step 1 Climb step 3

Climb step 4
Nope, safety was not compromised in the taking of these photos. I was all of 3-4 ft off the ground.

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what would you do if you weren't afraid

What habit are you ready to break?

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Filed under dinners, food, Goals, lunches, new things!, recipes, strength train too!, things that happen at the Gym

Vegan Almondmilk Broccoli & Sage Risotto

It’s been a while since we’ve sat down to have dinner together. Grab a fork, this is one of my favorites…

The first time I tasted risotto it was homemade; Denver lulu-friend/chef Whitney & I would have weekly cook-at-home dinner parties, and her kitchen skills weren’t to be messed with. A foodie at heart, this girl makes a mean risotto – dry white wine, authentic parmesan n’ all.

Fast forward two years: (mostly) giving up dairy might mean I don’t enjoy the salty taste of parmesan (nearly as often) these days, but it doesn’t mean recipes can’t be altered to create veg-friendly versions of a few favorites. Once I realized that quite a few dairy-free eaters enjoy homemade risotto, the experiments had to commence.

Risotto pairs well with any combination of vegetables – peppers, edamame, broccoli and mushrooms tend to be my favorite add-ins. This specific version balances seasonal butternut squash and chopped broccoli with fresh herbs and Silk Pure Almond Unsweetened Originalin place of heavy cream, saving a lot of calories and swapping in much healthier fat. (If you pick the almond milk over skim milk, you’re saving 30 calories! And lactose, too.)

And with this version? We’re clearing the bowls of every last bite.

Heather Calcote Vegan Sage & Broccoli Risotto

Vegan Sage Broccoli & Squash Risotto
Makes ~4 servings

1 cup Arborio rice
1 ¼ cup
Silk Pure Almond Unsweetened Original
½ cup light coconut milk
1 ½ cup water
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup broccoli, chopped
1 cup butternut squash, peeled & chopped
2 tbsp green onion, chopped
Salt/Pepper, to taste
1 tbsp. fresh rosemary
4-5 fresh sage leaves, chopped

In a deep sauté pan, heat oil over medium. Add squash, broccoli and green onion, sautéing for 4-5 minutes (until softened). Season with salt and pepper to taste (approx. ¼ tsp of each). Add rice and toss for one minute. In a separate bowl, whisk liquids with herbs. Add one cup of liquid mixture to rice and vegetables, bringing to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and continue mixing liquid in ½ cup at a time as it absorbs; stir frequently. Once all liquid is added (total cook time: 20-25 minutes), serve warm over a bowl of greens or as a side.

Silk2 010

Per Serving:
Calories: 245 | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: <1.0g
Carbs: 44g | Fiber: 5g | Protein: 4g
Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 150mg

If you compared this to a classic risotto, you’re looking at a 500+ calories per serving vs. 245, and upwards of 13g of saturated fat vs. less than 1g. This vegan-friendly option has a similar texture and better flavor, in my opinion, while actually providing the nutrients of a “side” vs. an entrée. Bring this to your next potluck and nobody will be wondering where the butter is.

The true taste test: I cooked this for our meat-lovin’ friends and it got two-thumbs up. Success!


This recipe post is part of a sponsored campaign with Silk and FitFluential, LLC. All opinions are my own.

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Filed under dinners, food, lunches, Meatless Monday, recipes, vegetarian

Holiday Office Potluck Dish: Pumpkin Sage Quinoa

We had our holiday potluck at WCS on Tuesday, and let me just say that an office full of foodies and wellness-junkies will not disappoint you for lunch (or dinner, or apps, or sweet treats). Our spread was colorful and equal parts healthy, savory and indulgent. There was a full-on table switch for the desserts, too, don’t you worry.

A little peak…

fruit dishQuinoa dishSalad
ChipsSalmon

A little show to go with the eats, courtesy of the talented Dale & The ZDubs….

Dale and ZDubs

And a little contribution from my kitchen, Pumpkin Sage Quinoa:

pumpkin sage quinoa

(pictured here as enjoyed for lunch: leftovers + greens)

Pumpkin Sage Quinoa + Chickpeas

1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1.5 cups raw quinoa (rinsed)
2.5 cups water
4-5 fresh sage leaves, chopped
2 tsp dried thyme (or fresh, if you have it)
1 can (15 oz) organic chickpeas, drained & rinsed
1.5 cups pureed pumpkin
salt/pepper to taste

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a deep saute pan. Add onions and cook for 4-5 minutes until softened. Add quinoa, water, sage & thyme, bringing to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 10-15 minutes, until most of the water is absorbed – stir every few minutes.

Add chickpeas, pumpkin, salt/pepper (to taste) and mix well. Continue cooking to heat everything through, for 3-5 minutes.  Serve warm or chilled!

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Does your office bust out the cooking skills for potluck days? Any menu faves we should add to our list for next time?

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Filed under dinners, food, holidays, in the kitchen, lunches, recipes