Sides

Almond Butter and Spice Roasted Carrots

Have you ever had a dish out at a restaurant that immediately makes you want to try to recreate it at home? Maybe that’s just how my foodie brain works, but it’s where some of our home-run dishes get their inspiration from!

When Danny and I were dating, some of the experiences that helped to open his eyes and taste buds up to trying new foods the most was dining out. Whether it was on a date with me, lunch with his co-workers or bosses, or dinner with the future-in-laws, he was much more apt to giving something a bite in these settings. Yes, restaurant food has the added benefit of copious amounts of fat and salt added to make most anything taste out of this world, but it’s a start! Take a dish from a restaurant that was pleasing and run with it by cooking it at home, but adding a healthy, yet still very tasty, twist on it.

I went out to dinner with some girlfriends a few weeks ago and we shared a dish that I immediately thought, “Danny would love this and it would be another way to spice up carrots!” I was right on the money and Danny did in fact love my take on this restaurant-inspired vegetable side.

I promise you, the combination of nut butter and carrot is not as odd as you think!

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Almond Butter and Spice Roasted Carrots- serves 2 as a side dish

Ingredients

  • 2 large whole carrots, cleaned well and diced into 1-inch coins

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 4 tbsp crunchy almond butter

  • 2 tsp thinly sliced fresh red chile pepper

  • Juice from half of one lime

  • Sea salt to finish

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Clean and diced carrots into 1-inch coins. Toss with olive oil and spread in a flat layer on a foiled lined baking tray. Roast for 25 minutes or until carrots begin to brown and caramelize on the edges. Remove and place in a mixing bowl.

  2. To the carrots add almond butter, chiles, and lime juice. Use a spoon to gently toss so that the almond butter evenly coats the carrots. To serve, sprinkle with a finish of chunky sea salt and enjoy.

Plum Cucumber Salad

What do you consider cooking? Does cooking have to mean turning on a heat source? Or can it simply be getting hands-on with food by chopping, mixing, and serving? When I talk to patients, friends, and family about getting in the kitchen, people often shly admit to me that they don't know how to cook. When I ask them how they define "cooking" they start talking about their appliances- the stovetop and oven mostly. While I think those are invaluable kitchen fixtures that help prepare meals, they are not the end-all-be-all to cooking!

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Cooking can be as simple as picking up a knife, whatever kind you have in your kitchen, and guiding it through some fruits and veggies. Cooking can also be opening up a can of beans. It can also mean mixing ingredients in a jar and shaking them to make a dressing. None of these steps required a heat source, yet I consider them all methods of cooking!

That's what I wanted to showcase with this refreshing Plum Cucumber Salad. It's a raw recipe that's perfect for summer and anyone trying to add more plants into their diet.

If you've never mixed fruits and vegetables together in a salad you're missing out and I welcome you to try this recipe! The sweet, soft plums perfectly compliment the crunchy cucumber. To round it out, add in your favorite legume- I used canned chickpeas, but you could certainly do white beans or even edamame. And for the finishing touch, a nutty but sweet dressing that honestly goes well on any summer salad.

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I hope you all enjoy and find more opportunities to "cook" salads like this one. And don't forget to tag @eat.well.together on social media when you make this salad for a chance to be featured and help spread the message of easy cooking!

Plum Cucumber Salad- serves 4 as a side salad

Ingredients

  • 2 medium sized kirby cucumbers

  • 1 pint small red and yellow plums, about 10-12 plums

  • 1 can rinsed low sodium chickpeas, or 2 cups cooked from dried

  • 1/4 cup tahini

  • 2 tbsp honey

  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

  • pinch of salt

Directions

  1. To prepare cucumber, slice in half lengthwise, then cut those halves in half so that you have 4 long spears. Cut those spears into small-medium sized pieces (see photo for reference if needed, but really whatever size you like to munch on is good!).

  2. Slice plums in half, remove pit, and cut into quarters. To a large mixing bowl, combine cut plums, cucumbers, and chickpeas.

  3. In a glass jar (with a lid, such as a Mason or Weck jar), combine the tahini, honey, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Shake vigorously until combined, then drizzle over salad. Serve as a side at your next picnic, or make into a more complete light lunch by serving over spinach leaves and adding a whole grain, such as wheatberries or bulgur.

Eggplant Tomato Stew

One of my all-time favorite summer vegetables is eggplant. I absolutely love how versatile it can be- from eggplant rollatini and parmesan, to babba ghanoush or curried eggplant, this fiber-filled veggie is a staple in my kitchen throughout July and August.

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Although the temperatures have been brutal in NYC, I dared to turn on my stove to make an eggplant stew. I find it very helpful to cook up a large batch of one recipe and use it in different forms throughout the week at lunch and dinner, and a stew defintiely fits the bill for that. Luckily, Danny has turned into a major egg-head and this is one of the few stew recipes he enjoys, especially when there's lots of melty mozzarella thrown in!

Aside from all its deliciousness, eggplant is a great source of dietary fiber, high in vitamin C and the B vitamin folate, and contains a good amount of the mineral manganese, which is crucial in many reactions for proper nutrient metabolism. Despite what Tom Brady may have you believing, there are many, many benefits to consuming this nightshade!

Read on for the stew recipe, as well as two variations on how to serve it up. If you happen to make it, feel free to tag @eat.well.together on social media and I'll show off your creation!

Eggplant Stew- makes about 3 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 large to medium sized Italian purple eggplant, cut into cubes

  • 1 large garlic clove, minced

  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped

  • 2 tsp each-dried oregano, basil

  • 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce

  • Olive oil and salt

Directions

  1. Cut eggplant into cubes, about the size of playing dice. The smaller the cube size, the faster it will cook. Mince garlic clove, and roughly chop whole onion. Set aside.

  2. To a hot saute pan, add 3 tbsp olive oil, then toss in garlic and onion. Saute for a few minutes, careful not to let the garlic start to burn.

  3. Add in cubed eggplant and mix with wooden spoon. The eggplant acts like a sponge and will soak up the oil quickly- resist the urge to add more as you'll soon add in the tomato sauce and use that as your softening secret, rather than more oil.

  4. After five minutes, pour in tomato sauce and stir all together. Let mixture simmer on low heat for a few minutes, then add dried herbs and a pinch of salt as you like.

  5. Cover and let cook for another 10-15 minutes until eggplant is softened. I am constantly taste-testing my food for "doneness" and I recommend you do the same for eggplant- there's nothing worse than undercooked, chewy eggplant! When cooked to desired softness, turn off heat and prepare the rest of your meal components.

To Serve:

One way to serve this stew is by mixing it with 1 cup of cooked quinoa, a thinly sliced baked chicken breast, and a hefty handful of spinach leaves. Mix it all together and top it with shredded mozzarella or parmesan if so desired (I highly recommend!).

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For a slightly different take, make this into a meal for "bowl night" by adding olive oil massaged kale, a few spoons of quinoa (or any other grain you have cooked up, such as faro or brown rice), some sliced kalamata olives, and a sprinkle of ricotta salata cheese. This is a great option if you're wanting a meatless option during the week.

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