vegan “spaghetti & meatballs”

There is no spaghetti in this recipe, nor are there any meatballs. But if you’re in the mood for something with the same sort of flavor without all the weight of a bowling ball in your tummy afterwards, try this healthier alternative! (Note: the “meatballs” don’t really taste like meatballs; I’d say they’re closer to falafel, but if you’re not expecting a meaty taste you won’t be disappointed).

I’ve been really into this vegan recipe website Oh She Glows lately. That’s where I got the idea for the “meatballs” – Italian Bean Balls really. Not only are her recipes awesome and creative, but the food photography is outstanding, and she’s all self-taught. Ok, so onto the bean balls!

Preheat the oven to 350. Take 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts and either toast in the oven for 7-9 minutes until fragrant or pan-toast (this is what I did) & set aside in a bowl. Put 3/4 cup oats into a food processor and pulse until it resembles coarse flour, then add to the bowl with the walnuts. Add 1 cup shredded carrot, 1/2 cup chopped parsley, 1/3 cup chopped basil (I used a little extra), about 2 large finely chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, and 3 large minced garlic cloves. Stir. Then drain and rinse a 15-oz can of kidney beans and toss them into the food processor until finely chopped and stir them into the bowl with the mixture. In a mug or little bowl, whisk together 2 tbsp ground flax seed and 3 tbsp warm water and let it sit for 15-20 seconds, then stir into the mix. Add 1/2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp oregano, 3/4 tsp salt, some ground pepper, and (optional) a dash of red pepper flakes. Shape the mixture into 18-20 balls (golf-ball size), packing them tightly between your hands. Place onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 20 minutes on each side.

I served mine with zucchini “noodles” but you could also do spaghetti squash – I didn’t, only because we just had spaghetti squash a few days ago. If you go the spaghetti squash route, just cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds and strings, brush with olive oil, salt and pepper, and bake face down on parchment paper at 375 for about 45 minutes. Then scoop out the contents, and add your toppings. For the zucchini noodles, use a mandolin with a tooth attachment (or grater, or food processor with some kind of shredding attachment) to create long ribbons of raw zucchini. Then either stir fry or microwave (about 2-3 minutes) until tender!

We had our “noodles” and bean balls with our favorite Arrabiata tomato sauce from Russo’s, a little Italian shop down the street. We’re completely obsessed with their homemade sauces. And if you’re not vegan, a little grated asiago cheese on top really takes it up a notch. So good…

Zucchini "noodles" with Italian bean "meatballs"

Zucchini “noodles” with Italian bean “meatballs”

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chickpea burgers with yogurt tahini sauce

So there isn’t much of a story behind this recipe, besides the fact that I have a whole lot of tahini in my fridge right now and a desire to use it, and I have a new love for this blog – Fat Free Vegan Kitchen. The recipes are not fat free by the way; they’re just made without extra added fats such as butter & oils.

I made chickpea burgers with yogurt tahini sauce from this recipe last night, although the sauce I made wasn’t vegan, as I chose to use Fage greek yogurt instead of nondairy yogurt. I’ve tried a few nondairy yogurts and haven’t been a huge fan so far. We ate them with lettuce & tomato on multigrain Kaiser rolls with a side of baked sweet potato “fries” with cayenne pepper.

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Chickpea burgers with yogurt tahini sauce


ginger-lime kale with squash, chick peas & pomegranate

Apparently I can’t stop cooking and food blogging while on break from classes – the thrill of free time!

So I just discovered a new magazine called Clean Eating, which I might even consider subscribing to if they didn’t have a million and one recipes on their website. “Clean eating” isn’t some trendy fad or diet by the way; it just means consuming whole foods as close to their natural state as possible. I’m sure we could all use a little clean eating right now – I know I could – after a holiday full of more fatty, sugary, alcohol-y indulgences than a good nutrition student should admit to consuming.

This wintery super nutritious recipe caught my eye and it is actually eye-catching with its multitude of colors. If you’ve ever heard the advice that you should eat the colors of the rainbow every day, it’s true. Different colored foods provide a wide range of nutrients that complement each other and contribute to a balanced diet. For example in this meal you’ve got kale, loaded with Vitamin K, C, and A, butternut squash for Vitamin A and beta-carotenes, chick peas filled with protein, zinc, fiber, and folate, and pomegranate seeds, a superfood of vitamins and polyphenols. Between the pomegranate seeds and the lime and ginger, it was not only a rainbow of color but a taste and texture explosion! And without further ado, the recipe:

Ginger-lime kale

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Toss 2 cups of peeled, seeded, chopped butternut squash with 1/2 tsp of olive oil, spread on a parchment lined baking sheet, and bake for about 25 minutes until tender. (Side note: I hate peeling and chopping squash – it’s extremely hard and I almost lost a fingertip to it last fall! Luckily the store across the street from me sells pre-peeled chopped squash). While the squash is in the oven, saute a diced medium onion in 1 tbsp olive oil for about 5 minutes. Then add 2 cloves of minced garlic and 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger. After about 30 seconds add 2 bunches of washed sliced kale leaves and cook for about 10 minutes. Then add 1 1/2 cups of chick peas, cover, and cook for 5 more minutes. Add the squash, remove from the heat, stir in 1/4 tsp sea salt, 1 tbsp fresh lime juice, sprinkle with 1/2 cup of pomegranate seeds, and serve! This can be served over rice, quinoa, or your choice of grain, or on its own. And to keep it tasting fresh when I take some to work for lunch tomorrow, I’ll bring the lime and pomegranate separately and add them after reheating.


wild rice salad

I made this for a baby shower potluck lunch at work yesterday. Very simple and good for a big group – but my wild rice salad came out looking nothing like the photo in the original recipe! The kind of rice I used (Lundberg Black Japonica) turned the entire thing dark purple. If you don’t want a dark purple salad, cook your white rice and wild rice separately, or buy normal wild rice that doesn’t “leak” color into the water.

Also, I substituted vegetable broth instead of chicken broth, since there are lots of vegetarians where I work. This actually makes the whole dish vegan, and you can make it gluten free by making your own broth or buying one that is labeled gluten free.

Wild Rice Salad


what’s-in-your-fridge asian salad

September. It’s that time of year again. I’m back to work and have started classes for my MS Nutrition program. So, as will be the case with many nights to come (apologies in advance for the serious decline in blog posts), I pulled myself away from my Biochem textbook and wondered what I could make for dinner that was fast and wouldn’t involve going to the store. I call this the What’s-In-Your-Fridge Asian Salad. This is what I did, but you can really substitute anything here for anything else, as long as it tastes good to you.

Boil vermicelli (rice noodles) for three minutes and then run under cold water. Using a mandolin (or just slice very thinly), slice cucumber, scallion, and red onion, and grate carrot. Arrange the rice noodles atop boston lettuce and baby spinach, and then pile the other veggies on top. Add dressing (1 tbs smooth peanut butter, 1 tbs rice vinegar, 1/2 tbs sesame oil, 1 tbs mirin, 2 tbs soy sauce, and red pepper flakes to taste) and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

It would be great with some grilled shrimp or chicken on top. And crumbled peanuts. But then it wouldn’t be a what’s-in-your-fridge salad, it would be a walk-to-the-grocery-store-and-buy-stuff salad. Try it! What’s in your fridge?

What’s-in-your-fridge Asian Salad