spiralized sweet potato “noodles” with baby spinach, fresh basil, and organic uncured turkey bacon

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So here’s the part where I guiltily admit that I haven’t posted an entry in 7 months. Too busy to write about food? What could I have been doing!? Well, talking/writing about food! As a full time inpatient pediatric clinical dietitian AND a part time online nutrition coach, sometimes by the time I cook and eat, I just don’t have the energy to write about it. But tonight I was extra motivated by the arrival of our newest kitchen gadget… the spiralizer!

Let this post serve as both a quick recipe idea and a gentle warning about buying cheapie versions of kitchen gadgets. I’ve been eyeing spiralizers for some time now, but have been making do with my mandolin when I want to make zucchini noodles, or zoodles, because the spiralizers I’ve seen at my local kitchen gadget store are around $50. (Check out this helpful article for some background info if you’re unfamiliar with the recent spiralizer craze). But when my husband got an email deal for $10 spiralizer, we just couldn’t say no! The suspiciously inexpensive Mamazura SpiralMaster was ours just two business days later.

In theory, you can really spiralize any semi-firm vegetable or fruit: zucchini, beets, sweet potatoes, broccoli stems, carrots, apples, butternut squash, turnips… you get the picture. For the first trial, we decided to branch out and use a veggie other than zucchini, which I’ve kind of zoodled to death over the past year. So sweet potatoes won the vote.

The recipe I chose was inspired by this one, but I don’t eat pork so I swapped out the pancetta and made a few other small changes, the biggest change being not actually making noodles. First, I washed and peeled two medium sweet potatoes and spiralized them per the package directions (or rather my husband with his superior arm strength spiralized them… and by that I mean shredded them into an unrecognizable orange mess). This particular spiralizer couldn’t seem to produce long ribbons, no matter how far around you contort your wrist, and we ended up with what looked like a pile of shredded carrots. It also created unsuable torpedo-shaped leftovers of sweet potato core (pictured below for comedic value) which I guess I’ll slice up and bake into fries this week at some point.

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Once you have your graveyard of dead sweet potato shreds in front of you (or long delicately curled ribbons, depending on your device), heat about 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and sauté a diced white onion until translucent. Then add a large minced clove of garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes, cooking for about 2 more minutes. Then add in 4 slices of chopped uncured organic turkey bacon and cook until starting to crisp. Add the sweet potato “noodles” and season with salt and pepper. Then add 1/4-1/2 cup chicken broth (or vegetable broth) and a handful of chopped fresh basil. After the liquid has reduced completely, cook for about 3 more minutes or until the sweet potato thingies are cooked through. Finally add in 3-4 packed cups of baby spinach and cook until wilted.

What came out of my pan at the end of this was truly a sweet potato hash and not noodles in any way. In the end, a mandolin probably would have done a better job. But it was tasty! And I will battle the spiralizer again, maybe with a different object of more uniform diameter. Some suggestions for swaps: instead of turkey bacon, you could do grilled shrimp as a pescetarian option, or crispy tofu or chickpeas for a vegetarian option, or even a fried egg on top. Also, this would be pretty good with some shaved parmesan on top. Honestly the only reason it’s not on here is that I forgot to pick some up at the store and wasn’t going to go back out in a heavy thunderstorm to get some!

The morals of this post: don’t forget the parmesan in a thunderstorm, and don’t skimp on your spiralizer.

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whiskey-braised leeks and kohlrabi mash

One of the best things my mom ever taught me was how to braise leeks. And now I’m sharing her secret to leek perfection, because no one should have to go through life without eating these! While I’m at it, I’m throwing in how to make the kohlrabi mash we had tonight to accompany the braised leeks and seared scallops.

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Our whole meal tonight came from the Park Slope Sunday farmer’s market. I love shopping at the farmer’s market whenever possible, not just to support the local farmers but the food tastes so much better too. Leeks, especially when fresh from the farmer’s market, are notoriously full of soil, so washing them well is a key first step. Cut off the bottom and very top (about an inch and a half of the darkest green) and then slice open lengthwise. Then cut each half stalk into about three sections, and rinse well under cold running water, fanning out the layers. Finally soak the leeks in a bowl of cool water for about 15 minutes, swishing them around a few times to release any more soil, and then give them once last rinse. After draining, chop the stalks into about 1/2 inch slices. In a large pan, melt 1 tbsp butter and 1-2 tbsp olive oil and add the chopped leeks. Saute for about 2 minutes on medium-high heat, add about 1/8 of a chicken or vegetable bouillon cube, and then start gradually adding very small amounts of water. The water will boil off quickly; add a little more as soon as the pan looks dry. Keep doing this for about 10 minutes, or until the leeks are soft, stirring as you add the water. When the leeks are soft, add about 1 – 1.5 ounces of whiskey, stir, and let simmer for about 5 more minutes. At the end, add fresh pepper, a little salt if needed, and a generous squeeze of lemon juice.

For the kohlrabi (we used purple kohlrabi tonight, but the green/white and purple both taste the same), remove the leaves (you can use these in another dish, stir fried or steamed), and peel off the tough outer peel. At this point I usually slice off a few little pieces to eat raw because it’s so tasty, and then cut the bulbs into quarters, and boil them in lightly salted water for about 30 minutes. When soft, add about 1/4 milk, 1 tbsp butter, 1 tbsp olive oil, and puree with a hand blender or food processor. Add salt and pepper to taste. And in case you’re wondering, there is no real recipe for the seared scallops. My husband is usually in charge of the scallops, and he just dries them well, seasons with salt and pepper, and sears them for about 2 minutes on each side in very hot mixture of coconut oil and butter. They key to the beautiful golden color is to not move them around in the pan while searing!

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potato-kohlrabi puree

I should be ashamed of my non-blogging. Not a single post since May 29th – and that one wasn’t even food related! I have a new awesome kitchen, a weekly pick-up of fresh veggies from Sang Lee Farms, and no posts to show for it. I can’t even blame my busy schedule since I’m not at work or in classes (although I am putting in almost-full-time hours at a pediatric obesity clinic in a hospital for my fieldwork). So enough of my lack of excuses, and onto my kohlrabi obsession…

Every time I’ve walked through the farmer’s market for about the past year and seen kohlrabi, I’ve been intrigued. If you’ve never seen it, kohlrabi is a bizarre looking creature. It’s as if cabbage, Brussels sprouts, a radish, and a potato all mated with Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors. Technically, kohlrabi is a wild cabbage and can be prepared in a few different ways. The first time it arrived in our mystery bag of CSA farm veggies, I was really excited to experiment. I peeled it (and we ate a few slices raw, which kind of tasted like sweet radish), tossed the slices in spelt flour and spices, and sauteed them in a pan with a spritz of olive oil to make kohlrabi fries. The second time, I did the same thing but an oven roasted version instead of fried. I also stir-fried the green leaves and stems with some garlic and sesame oil, and they took a while to get tender but had a great flavor. These were super delicious side dishes, but the third time kohlrabi came around this summer, I decided to mix it up, especially since we had potatoes and onions in the bag too.

Kohlrabi can really be substituted for potatoes in most recipes, but a combination of potatoes and kohlrabi is a popular mix if you google search some recipes. For my recipe, I combined a few ideas I found and ended up with this:

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Potato-Kohlrabi Puree

Trim the stems and leaves off a kohlrabi bulb, and peel off the tough outer layer. Wash 1-2 cups of potatoes (peel on or off is up to you – I did peel on) and dice both into about one inch cubes. Bring a saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil, and add the potato and kohlrabi cubes. Reduce the heat and simmer until tender (test with a fork) for about 15 minutes. While the potatoes and kohlrabi are cooking, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and cook 3/4 of a cup of diced onion until it’s soft. Drain the potatoes and kohlrabi and either add the onion to the saucepan if you’re using a hand blender or put all three in a food processor. Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/4 cup of low fat milk, and salt and pepper to taste, and pulse until you get to your desired smoothness (I like mine fairly chunky). If you’re feeling fancy, serve with a little drizzle of olive oil over the top. I think I like the taste even better than regular mashed potatoes!

Anyone out there have any other great kohlrabi suggestions? It’s become one of my new summer favorites and hopefully there’s more coming my way…


sweet potato & beet hash

Sweet potatoes and beets happen to be two of my favorite foods on this planet, so incorporating them both into one meal is pretty much perfection for me. No offense to the regular potato, but my philosophy is why have a potato when you can have a sweet potato? You don’t get as much Vitamin C with a sweet potato, but you can make up for that elsewhere, and you do get about 7,000 times the Vitamin A! Yay for good eyesight.

I wanted to make a sort of hash-browns-esque side dish to go with our scrambled eggs for brunch this morning (thank you, presidents, for the day off!). There are a lot of recipes out there for sweet potato beet hash, but I went with this one since it was simple and didn’t require a whole lot of extra ingredients. I used organic turkey bacon instead of bacon, but you could go with some kind of veggie-bacon or skip the bacon entirely if you wanted to make this vegetarian. I also used two different kinds of beets. There was a stand at the farmer’s market that had huge bins of all different shaped wild beets, so I got one long skinny one that was the usual deep purple on the inside, and another that was round and had knobs and tails coming off of it, and was swirled magenta and white on the inside (looked like marbled beef when you cut it open).

The result: a little charred as a result of my non-precise timing with the oven, but tasty!

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Sweet potato beet hash