Miso Tip #8 – Try Miso Spice!

Miso SpiceAnd, Miso Spice makes 8! In the post, ‘7-Tips for Using Miso,’ I shared some miso basics and a few tips for using miso paste in cooking. Now, here’s one more tip for using this detoxifying, gut-friendly, enzyme-rich fermented food. Sprinkle it on savory dishes, showering them with umami goodness. Sprinkle miso on dishes as a condiment?  Continue reading

Award-Winning Vegetarian Chili Without a Recipe

Vegetarian ChiliLast year, on a whim, I entered a vegetarian chili cook-off at my alma mater. It was a festive evening, a great learning experience with my chili won a prize!  However, I can’t share the recipe with you, because I didn’t use one. But, read on and check out the guidelines I always use and customize each time -as you should as well.
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Turmeric Tofu Scramble is Breakfast Gold!

Tofu ScrambleTurmeric tofu scramble is a quick and savory option for any day. But, with its gorgeous sunshine yellow, this dish is also festive enough for guests. With about 8 grams of plant protein, it provides stable, yet light nourishment to start your day. Serve it with the suggested sides and toppings below, or bundle it up in a whole grain wrap and take it to go.

Not only quick and nutritious, this dish is also what I refer to as ‘a turmeric delivery mechanism’. That’s right, per serving, the scramble gives you a quarter teaspoon of turmeric, the anti-inflammatory ‘spice for life’. Further, it uses all   three ways to get the most from curcumin by using the whole turmeric spice and includes both fat and black pepper to maximize bioavailability.

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No-Recipe Spaghetti Squash Dishes

The stringy flesh of spaghetti squash resembles traditional pasta in appearance. But, does it taste like spaghetti? Does it have that unique ‘toothiness’ of an al dente pasta? Of course not. But, with about one-fourth the calories and carbohydrates of traditional wheat pasta, it can be a very satisfying, grain-free alternative —and a novel, creative way to enjoy a carotenoid and antioxidant-rich meal.  And, like regular ‘noodles’ the spaghetti squash pulp is like a naked canvas for flavorings. Almost anything goes. Check out these 4 tips for making delicious spaghetti squash dishes and 5 ideas to get you started!

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash

Just like preparing traditional pasta, the process can be as free-form and improvisational as you want. No recipes needed. In fact, think ‘Operation Fridge Clear Out’. Cooking spaghetti squash is as easy as making regular spaghetti noodles. But, you just need to allow for longer cooking time, about 40 minutes at 375° F, either whole or cut in two. (For step-by-step instructions, see above link.)

Spaghetti Squash with OilSpaghetti Squash Strands4 TIPS TO DELICIOUS SPAGHETTI SQUASH DISHES

  • Preparation: drain off excess water. For the best and most pasta-like  results, place the strands in a strainer and press out as much excess water as you can. This step is optional. But, it’s worth the effort, especially if you are cooking the squash ahead of time and/or are not using a fat-based sauce, such as a marinara.
  • Dressing: go fat! Due to the high water content of spaghetti squash, I prefer fat-based sauces. Healthy fats in moderation will help modulate the blood sugar response and increase satiety as will adding in some protein. Or, indulge with a little browned butter. Try these!
  • Seasoning: go bold! Like regular pasta noodles, spaghetti squash provides is a neutral vehicle for any variety of flavors. But, unlike regular pasta noodles, the spaghetti squash pulp won’t absorb the sauce and its flavors very well. And, these noodles don’t have much flavor of their own other than a slightly sweet earthiness. So, go a bit more bold with your seasoning than you might with regular pasta.
    Try these seasonings!

    • Basil, cilantro, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme
    • Black pepper, Cinnamon, chili flakes, nutmeg
    • Garlic, onions, scallions
    • Soy sauce or shoyu
    • Tomatoes (sun-dried or paste)
  • Add contrasting textures. Fold different textures into the strands and on top of the dish. These variations in texture gives makes the dish chewy similar to al dente pasta. Try these additions and toppings!
    • sautéed mushrooms
    • Toasted, chopped nuts, such as hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts
    • Bread crumbs or panko (regular or gluten-free).
    • Beans, such as adzuki, black, garbanzo or kidney
    • Cheese, such as mozzarella, parmesan or Gruyère

Cacio Y Pepe Spaghetti SquashCacio y Pepe-Inspired Spaghetti Squash

Base: Olive oil and garlic
Seasonings: A generous amount of fresh ground black pepper and sea salt
Additions: sautéed onions and shiitake mushrooms, roasted and shopped walnuts
Garnish: Italian parsley and basil

Spaghetti squash with mushrooms

Spaghetti Squash with Cinnamon-Nutmeg Vegan Cream Sauce and Nuts

Base: Cashew cream sauce
Seasonings: Cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper and sea salt
Additions: sautéed onions and shiitake mushrooms, toasted and chopped walnuts.
Garnish: Italian parsley

Spaghetti Squash with Indian Sauce

Indian-Inspired Spaghetti Squash

Base: Store-bought Indian simmer sauce (Maya Kaimal brand)
Additions: Garbanzo beans
Garnish: Cilantro or Thai Basil

Spaghetti Squash with Sun Dried Tomatoes

Southern Italy-Inspired Spaghetti Squash

Base: Olive oil, garlic and tomato paste
Seasonings: Red chili pepper flakes, black pepper and sea salt
Additions: sautéed onions, chopped or pureed sun-dried tomatoes
Garnish: Italian parsley or Basil

Spaghetti Squash with Pesto

Spaghetti Squash Tossed with Avocado Pesto and Kale

Base: Vegan avocado pesto
Seasonings: Lemon, garlic, black pepper and sea salt
Additions: Wilted kale
Garnish: Basil and roasted, chopped pecans

REFERENCES:

  • USDA National Nutrient Database
  • Page, Karen. The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York: Little Brown and Company, 2014.

How do you like to prepare spaghetti squash? Share a tip! Leave a comment below.

 

3 Reasons to Love Sunchokes

Jerusalem ArtichokesSunchokes might not be on your radar —but for both culinary and health reasons, you may want to check out these tubers! They look a bit like ginger and come in a variety of sizes, shapes and even different colors, depending upon the soil in which they were grown. They are generally smooth, but can be very knobby, as in the heirloom variety. Not exactly the star of the farmers’ market, they are in the shadow of the more colorful fall and winter vegetables. But, here are three reasons you’ll want to bring them home. Skip the squash. It’s not going anywhere!

THREE REASONS TO TRY SUNCHOKES

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Pumpkin Curry Soup

Pumpkin Curry Soup The most festive and celebrated of gourds, pumpkins, enjoy a near celebrity-status in our apartment. By late September, the scouting begins, first for prospective jack-o-lanterns, then centerpieces and window adornments. Sadly, by early November, the carved ones have been decommissioned and the uncarved ones start giving hints that our time together is coming to a close. Their skin, once bright orange, leathery and taut, begins to dull and wrinkle. Their bodies soften, losing their denseness and familiar “thump” when tapped. Clearly, none of them will make it to Thanksgiving. Soup must be made. Continue reading

Black Bean Chipotle Bisque

Chipotle Bleack Bean Soup

It’s soup and sweater time! This soup, like one of my favorite sweaters, is warm, dark, and comforting —with a little sass. In this version, I added some coconut milk to make it even creamier and cozier. Rich in protein and fiber, it tastes like an indulgence, but it’s not. Bring on the cold. I’m ready.

The chipotle pepper really sets this recipe apart from other bean soups, providing a hint of heat and smokiness. The dried peppers can be found in the ethnic section of most larger grocery stores. You can create your own chipotle powder by simply grinding the dried peppers in a spice or coffee grinder. But, remove the seeds first if you want more smokiness than heat.

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How to Cook Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti Squash with Pesto

I’m finally on board with the ‘vegetable pasta’ trend, especially spaghetti squash. Of course, spiralized or shredded vegetables are a very healthy dietary choice. However, calling them ‘pasta’ seems a bit of a stretch, prompting disappointment by all but the most hard-core veggie eaters. Let’s just call them shredded or spiralized vegetables —especially if it helps you eat more veggies overall. Here’s a few tricks to cook spaghetti squash.

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Vegan Pesto with Avocado & Kale

Vegan Winter PestoPesto isn’t just for summer! Using avocado as the base, substituting greens for basil and nutritional yeast for parmesan cheese, this vegan recipe is flavorful, rich and can be enjoyed year-round. You won’t miss the cheese. Your body will love this heart-healthy, low-glycemic and fiber-rich ways to dress pasta.  Continue reading

Lemony Garlic Cauliflower Mash

 

Lemony Garlic Cauliflower MashTemperatures are atypically hovering around 70 degrees. While I’m ready for fall, I’m not quite ready for my favorite fall recipes such as cauliflower mash, aka faux mashed potatoes -a quintessential comfort food fake.

But, cauliflower is in season -now! As a member of the brassica family, cauliflower is a true ‘super food’. While over-used, cauliflower is actually worthy of this term. Rich in sulforaphane, indoles and isothiocyanates, cauliflower supports multiple body systems; detoxification, antioxidant, and the inflammatory/anti-inflammatory system [1].

Cauliflower is also high in vitamin C, with one serving providing 77% of the recommended daily value of vitamin C [2].  It is also high in fiber, and pretty much all the nutrients as it’s more popular and colorful cousin, broccoli. That is, of course, except chlorophyl. But, cauliflower has an edge over broccoli inside its cell walls, pectin. Just as pectin in apples provides thickening and gelling properties to applesauce, the pectin in cauliflower makes it creamy when cooked.

I love this recipe for its seasonal-neutral contrast of light citrus and subtle heat from the pepper flakes. The recipe is simple and quick to prepare, can be served warm or at room temperature and the texture is the same the next day. You can enjoy this and other cauliflower mash recipes year-round as the preparation works equally well with fresh or frozen cauliflower. However, keep in mind that while still nutritious, commercially packaged frozen cruciferous vegetables may lose many of the health benefits found in their fresh counterparts [3].

Lemony Garlic Cauliflower Mash Ingredients

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 head fresh cauliflower, chopped into florets (or 1 pound frozen)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, olive oil or butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (or 1 head roasted garlic)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon organic lemon zest (optional)
  • A few tablespoons coconut, almond or rice milk, if desired for texture

Steaming Cauliflower

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place chopped cauliflower into a steamer insert inside of a saucepan or stock pot with an inch or two of water.
  2. Cover and steam until very soft when pierced with a fork. For fresh cauliflower, this will take 10-12 minutes. Frozen cauliflower will take less time.
  3. Remove the cauliflower from the heat.
  4. Allow the cauliflower to rest in the steamer for another five minutes.
  5. Transfer steamed cauliflower into a food processor or blender.
  6. Add all other ingredients, except the zest to the blender and process until smooth.
  7. Add rice or almond milk, if needed for a smooth texture.
  8. Readjust seasoning to taste, if needed. 
  9. Top with lemon zest and serve.

REFERENCES:

[1] Nation Cancer Institute
[
2] World’s Healthiest Foods, Cauliflower
[
3] nutritionfacts.org – Video

What are your favorite ways to prepare cauliflower? Let me know!