copycat squash vindaloo with cool ranch raita

Last weekend my husband and I had a stay-local date night at one of our favorite spots in the neighborhood, Thistle Hill Tavern. Some of their menu items change seasonally, and there was a new side dish that I knew I had to try the second I read it: squash vindaloo with cool ranch raita! It was every bit as good — or better — than it sounded. It arrived in a clay hotpot, this glorious piping hot bowl of Indian-spiced squash and a cool yogurt sauce with a kick to it. The server even brought us some thick slices of toasted bread to swipe up every last morsel from the bowl. I’m a copycat when it comes to my favorite restaurants, and I’ve stolen (attempted to recreate at home) some side dishes from their menu before, like their buffalo cauliflower with gorgonzola, so after one bite I said I wanted to try to make this one. So here goes!

IMG_6230Dice 2 medium sized yellow onions and sauté them until translucent in 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp coconut oil in a large heavy pot. While the onion is cooking, mix your spices together in a small bowl: 1 tsp garam masala, 1 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp coriander, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground cloves. Add the spices and 1 large minced garlic clove to the onions and cook about 1 minute. next add a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes with the liquid (my go to brand is San Marzano), and about 4 cups of cubed butternut squash. I was lazy with the squash today and bought pre-cubed squash at Whole Foods because it’s such a pain to chop. They didn’t have pre-cut acorn squash though, so I bought a whole one, poked some holes in it, microwaved it until it was soft enough to cut (about 6 mins), de-seeded it, and scooped the squash out. Finally, add the acorn squash, 1 tbsp tomato paste, 1 tbsp red wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp minced ginger, 1/2 cup water or broth, and 1 tbsp coconut sugar (you could use brown sugar instead) to the pot, cover it, and let simmer until the squash is soft, about 30-40 mins. At the very end, add salt to taste, about 1/2 tsp.

While your squash is cooking, make your yogurt sauce. I used about 4 oz plain greek yogurt and mixed in 1 1/2 tbsp fresh chopped dill, 1 tsp of a dill/onion/lemon/garlic/pepper seasoning mix called “it’s a dilly” (you could just use onion powder and some pepper), 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp paprika, and 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice.

Assemble your bowl of squash vindaloo with yogurt on top and a little dill or parsley garnish, served with a warm toasty slice of bread or naan, or on top of rice. The verdict? It’s no Thistle Hill, but it was really delicious. And a complete hearty vegetarian meal (vegan if you skip the yogurt) for cool fall nights, packed with flavor (and vitamin A)!

 

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healthy chocolate oat banana coconut almond cookies

ImageMy favorite food blog, 101 Cookbooks, does it again. These little dollops of cookie heaven are moderately guilt-free, delicious, and if you made a few adjustments, they could easily be made gluten free and vegan.

To make them gluten-free, just look for a gluten-free variety of rolled oats such as Bob’s Red Mill or substitute quinoa flakes (I’ve never tried them so I can’t vouch for taste). To make the cookies vegan, just substitute the dark chocolate chunks for carob chips or any chocolate without added milk fat, milk solids, whey, or casein, such as Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s chocolate chips, Organic Equal Exchange chocolate, or Green and Black’s Organic Dark Chocolate.

You can also try adding a number of other ingredients to play with the recipe: peanut butter, chopped nuts, dried cranberries, blueberries… the possibilities are virtually endless and I will definitely make this again and try some variations!

The original recipe is in the link above – I followed it exactly and used olive oil instead of coconut oil.


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.


black bean brownies

Black bean brownies

“Black Bean Brownies.” When I say these words together, people look at me like I’ve just offered them skunk on a skewer. Even my friend Tim wrinkled his face in disgust (over our vegan Thai dinner at Dao Palate last night) as I exclaimed that those were my project for the next day. But I’ve seen a lot of recipes for them and wanted to give them a try. After all, if avocado chocolate pudding was good, why not black bean brownies? And they’re gluten free (the beans act as a substitute for flour) and I’ve been promising my gluten-intolerant friend Erin some gluten-free recipes for some time now.

So, in my search for recipes, of course my favorite blog had just what I was looking for. Almost. The original recipe is here but I altered it quite a bit. See, I didn’t want to make a “healthy” brownie and then throw in a whole stick of butter. I’m sure it tastes amazing with a whole stick of butter, but it wasn’t quite as guilt-free as I wanted. So I did some research on butter substitutes in baking, and found out that if you’re baking something dark colored (like brownies), pureed prunes and maybe a touch of oil will substitute nicely. It was worth a shot. If the brownies were a disgusting mess, I’d just throw them out and try again with butter. Or oil. The other issue is that I don’t own an 11 by 18 inch baking pan – only 9 by 13 and smaller – so I divided the whole recipe by 3/4. So much room for disaster and failure it’s ridiculous. Substituting butter with prunes, using the wrong size pan, making 3/4 of the recipe (not even a nice round 1/2!), leaving out the walnuts (personally I like them, but I planned to give some of these to other people and some people aren’t nuts about nuts in brownies) and using espresso instead of coffee substitute. The whole time I was making them I couldn’t help thinking “these are going to be gross… so gross.”

Taste tester #1: Me! (come on, I’m not feeding crazy hippie brownies to other people without trying them first). NOT gross. Good! You can’t really taste the beans or prunes. I think the addition of the coffee is a crucial to mask the flavor. And as someone pointed out on Heidi’s blog, you could also add peanut butter if so inclined. They are fudgy, rich, and dense, just like brownies should be. They do taste kind of health-food-y… but, well, they are.

Taste testers # 2 and 3 will weigh in later… updates to follow.

(Side note: I felt it was my blogging duty to add a warning label. One probably should not consume too many of these at a time. Beans and prunes… both well known for their “digestive benefits.”)