Red Lentil Soup with Toasted Cumin and Coriander

As a newly minted member of the Recipe Redux, I was overjoyed that my first recipe theme was “spooky” spices. “Great!” I thought, “I love Halloween and I love spices!” I had a million ideas, that was until I saw the complete description of the October theme. As I read on, it became clear that they were going with a different angle. It turns out that I had to find a spice that I was afraid of or one that I had used that turned out to be a total failure.

Embarrassingly, I have had plenty of total disasters involving spices. Let’s see, there was the curried chicken dish that I served my husband that tasted like glue. Or the pot of 9 bean soup that had a flavor profile that likely resembled fresh dirt. How could I choose? I settled on cumin seed. Years ago I had made a recipe that called for toasting cumin seed. I was young and just out of college, trying to impress my friends. Thinking that I knew what I was doing, I set the cumin seed in the pan, turned the heat to high and walked away. Anyone who has toasted spices knows this is a huge mistake. Those cumin seeds went from smelling wonderful to smelling like a 5-alarm fire. It was a mess and without any back-up seeds, I had to serve a sub-par dish. So here I am, many years later, ready and willing to tackle the cumin seed again. This time, I would make soup and being older and wiser, I would stand-by, keeping an eye on those precious seeds so that they wouldn’t burn.

Ironically, I now love toasting spices. It adds so much complexity and warmth to a dish. In this recipe I decided to use red lentils as a hearty neutral base because they accept spices so well. I included a trimmed and lightly macerated stalk of lemongrass to the cooking liquid to provide a refreshing hint of citrus. And to finish, I added light coconut milk which gives the soup a delightful creamy sweetness.

Fearful no more of toasting spices, I am instead grateful for the learning experience I got from those cooking disasters. I will continue to make mistakes, but from mistakes sometimes come the best results! Bon Appetit!

 

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Red Lentil Soup with Toasted Cumin and Coriander

Earthy red lentils cooked with toasted spices and lemongrass-infused broth then finished with a touch of light coconut milk.

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Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 stalks celery, diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup chopped onion)
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced (about 3/4 cup chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 3/4 cup red lentils, rinsed
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and smashed*
  • 3/4 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Set a pot over medium heat and add the oil. Once the oil is hot add the celery, onion and carrots and cook vegetables until softened, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the cumin seed, coriander and cayenne to the pot and cook, stirring frequently to toast the spices, about 1-2 minutes. Add lentils, broth and lemongrass and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until lentils are cooked and tender, about 20 minutes.
  3. Stir in the coconut milk and cook 5 minutes more. Add lemon juice, then remove pot from the heat.
  4. Using a stick blender or regular blender, puree the soup to a smooth consistency. (Note: If using a regular blender, stay safe and prevent unwanted burns by blending in batches and allowing soup to cool slightly before pureeing.
  5. Serve warm topped with a dollop of Greek yogurt.

Notes

  • To prepare the lemongrass for the soup, first remove the outer leaves from the stalk. Take off a few layers until you get to the more tender inner leaves. Trim off the root end and also cut off the top of the stalk, leaving about 5 inches of lemongrass. Gently smash the stalk using a meat mallet, the back of a large knife or rolling pin to release the oils and then add to the soup pot.
  • Portion is a generous 1/2 cup.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 6
  • Calories: 282
  • Sugar: 1
  • Sodium: 71
  • Fat: 13
  • Saturated Fat: 7
  • Unsaturated Fat: 5
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 18
  • Protein: 24
  • Cholesterol: 52

 


Upgrade Your Breakfast Sandwich

I love a good egg breakfast sandwich. Note that I said a “good” breakfast sandwich, which ahem, means one that has good-quality eggs, whole grain bread and lots of yummy veggies. Those fast food places have a knack for making something that could be such a nutritious start to your day, a complete disaster! Sure they can be quite delicious, but that flavor comes at a nutritional cost since they are loaded with sodium, saturated fat and calories.

My idea you ask? Make your own and take it up a notch! My version is prepared using harissa, a popular spicy condiment used in North African cooking. Harissa is low in calories, but is amazingly flavorful and packed with nutrition thanks to the olive oil, red peppers and spices. My version also uses a whole wheat English muffin to replace the processed white muffin and is topped with refreshing lettuce greens for added nutrition.

The trick in getting people to appreciate and enjoy healthier cooking is to provide recipes loaded with flavor. My family loves this sandwich and doesn’t seem to miss those fast food breakfast sandwiches loaded with processed meats and cheeses.

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Egg Breakfast Sandwich with Harissa

A flavorful twist on a delicious breakfast sandwich.

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Ingredients

Harissa

  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • ½ cup roasted red bell pepper, drained
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Eggs

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 large eggs, whole
  • 4 large eggs, whites only
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 4 English muffins (preferably whole wheat), toasted
  • 2 cups arugula or mixed lettuce greens, cleaned

Instructions

To Prepare the Harissa

  1. Place a small skillet over medium heat. Add the caraway and cumin seeds and toast until aromatic, about 1-2 minutes. Swirl the pan while toasting to prevent burning. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chili powder and stir for one more minute. Remove the seeds and chili powder from the pan, transfer to a clean coffee or spice grinder (a mortar and pestle will work too) and grind into a fine powder.
  2. Add the ground spices to a food processor, followed by the garlic, roasted red bell pepper, olive oil, and sugar. Purée, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl, until the paste is smooth, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

To Make the Breakfast Sandwich

  1. Heat the remaining oil a non-stick pan over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add the onion and sauté for 5-7 minutes or until onion is softened.
  2. While the onion is cooking, whip together the eggs, salt and pepper.
  3. Add the egg mixture all at once to the pan with the onions and cook for one minute. Do not stir. Using a spatula, gently fold and lift the egg mixture, allowing the uncooked portions to flow under and cook. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until eggs are cooked, but still moist.
  4. Spread 1 tablespoon of harissa on each half of the English muffins. Divide the egg mixture evenly among the muffin bottoms and top with ½ cup of greens. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • Note: This recipe will yield approximately 1 cup of harissa. Leftover harissa can be used as a condiment for burgers, sandwiches and wraps. It can also be mixed with olive oil or yogurt and used as a marinade. Refrigerate in a sealed container and use within 2-4 days.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 4
  • Calories: 387
  • Sugar: 1
  • Sodium: 604
  • Fat: 21
  • Saturated Fat: 5
  • Unsaturated Fat: 15
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 31
  • Protein: 18
  • Cholesterol: 372

Simply Roasted Sweet Potatoes

 

Are you looking for simple, roasted sweet potato recipes and ideas for what to do with them? This recipe for roasted sweet potatoes is a breeze to pull together and is sure to become a household favorite. It requires very little kitchen prowess and is packed with nutrition and flavor.

Follow this link to Stack.com for the recipe!

A Recipe for Baked Ziti

 

Athletes love pasta. And why not? It’s tasty, filling and relatively easy to prepare. However, not every pasta dish is up to an athlete’s nutritional standards. Follow this link to my article and recipe for a delicious baked ziti that will fill you up without bringing down your nutritional standards.

 

Slow Cooked Oats with Roasted Pumpkin and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Slow cooked oats! Slow cooked oats with roasted pumpkin!!! I know, I know, it’s only September and yes, I suppose it’s a bit early to be publishing recipes highlighting pumpkin. To be honest though, I feel like I’m the one behind here considering Starbucks is already selling their Pumpkin Spice Lattes and the grocery has filled the “holiday aisle” with Halloween candy.

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Grilled Citrus-Scented Bananas

It’s almost Labor Day and you need a dessert recipe ASAP. It’s time to prep the grill and make this recipe for Grilled Citrus-Scented Bananas.

This recipe makes use of bananas, a delicious and relatively inexpensive fruit, that also packs a nutritious punch. Once grilled, bananas turn even sweeter, thanks to the caramelization happening from the heat. Sprinkle the bananas with a touch of cinnamon and orange zest and you’ve turned the basic banana into a sophisticated dessert.

Bon Appetit!

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Grilled Citrus-Scented Bananas

A simple, grilled dessert that will please any palate!

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Ingredients

  • 4 large bananas, no speckles on skin, washed with skin-on
  • 1 tsp butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp fresh orange juice
  • ground cinnamon, for dusting
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 2 tbsp toasted, sliced almonds

Instructions

  1. Cut the bananas in half length-wise (leaving the skin on), then in half width-wise. You will have 4 quarter-pieces of banana.
  2. Combine the butter, honey and orange juice in a small bowl. Brush mixture onto the exposed banana halves and top with a little dash of ground cinnamon.
  3. Place the bananas on the grill cut-side down and cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until bananas have grill marks. Flip over and cook until the bananas are warmed through. The bananas are done when the skin starts to pull away from the fruit.
  4. Serve in the peel and garnish with orange zest and almonds.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 8
  • Calories: 88
  • Sugar: 11
  • Sodium: 1
  • Fat: 2
  • Saturated Fat: 0
  • Unsaturated Fat: 1
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 19
  • Protein: 1
  • Cholesterol: 1

Make It Monday Series: Balsamic Reduction

It’s Monday!  That means it’s time for a new recipe, one designed to be used for the whole week.  Last week I started the Series off with Roasted Garlic.  I hope that you were able to enjoy those yummy sweet cloves in all of your dishes.  

This week I would like to introduce you to balsamic reduction.  You’ve used balsamic vinegar countless times, but did you know that when you cook it down it becomes a rich, thick syrup?  It’s a delicious, low-calorie treat with endless possibilities.  I like to use mine as a dressing for mixed greens or drizzled over a bowl of hearty grains. It’s also fantastic spooned over frozen yogurt or sliced strawberries.  

The recipe is simple and you can keep it in the fridge to use all week.  Just be sure to cover with a tight-fitting lid and keep below 40’F.

Use this link to get the recipe. 

The Cutting Board Blog

The Cutting Board header image

 

It is with great honor and excitement that I can finally announce the launch of The Cutting Board Blog. The blog is an amazing way to learn more about food safety (we make it fun and hey, it’s important to know this stuff!) and easy and delicious ways to prepare your favorite foods (pizza, pasta, all of your favorites!). Expect plenty of recipes, pictures, tips and fun.  

Come on over to the blog where I will be sharing some of my favorite recipes along with other awesome dietitians. So go ahead and bookmark this page, you’ll be glad you did!

Oh, and a special “thank you” to the amazing women who work on the blog behind the scenes! Kudos to you Allison MacMunn and Amanda Cohen. Beautiful work!

Make it Monday Series

Today is the launch of my “Make it Monday” series. This will be a regular post on my blog that features a new recipe (almost) every Monday that you can make early in the week and continue to enjoy the rest of the week. Sound good to you? Ok, then let’s get started with the first recipe.

This week’s feature is roasted garlic. I love this stuff. I love it so much, that I try to always have it on hand in my refrigerator. While I certainly enjoy garlic raw or sauteed, when it’s roasted with a little olive oil, it is simply magnificent. Not a fan of garlic? I bet I’ll convert you with this recipe. Raw garlic can be bitter and rather pungent, but roasting caramelizes the garlic, making it sweet, and providing a softer garlic flavor. You can use roasted garlic in so many ways. You can spread it on toasts to make delicious, guilt-free garlic bread or add it to Greek mayo for a sandwich spread. You can toss it into your next batch of hummus or stir into almost any pasta dish.

Why should you include garlic in your next recipe? Besides adding so much flavor, garlic may also protect your heart by helping lower LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure. Garlic also contains antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory and immunity-boosting properties.

So hit the grocery store on your way home and then get roasting!

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Simple Roasted Garlic

A sweet, spreadable way to enjoy garlic.

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Ingredients

  • 1 head of garlic, loose papery layers removed
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425’F.
  2. Slice off the top of the head of garlic to expose the cloves.
  3. Place the garlic with the cut end up on a piece of foil then drizzle with oil. Fold up the sides of the foil and loosely close at the top. Place on a sheet pan or directly on the rack in the oven.
  4. Roast until tender, about 25-30 minutes.

Notes

  • Yields about 8-10 roasted cloves

Nutrition

  • Calories: 44
  • Sugar: 0
  • Sodium: 1
  • Fat: 5
  • Saturated Fat: 1
  • Unsaturated Fat: 4
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 1
  • Protein: 0
  • Cholesterol: 0

Grilled Crouton Ensalada

Grilling isn’t just for hamburgers anymore! Celebrate the summer by preparing your next salad on the grill. It’s easy, flavorful and fun to make.

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Grilled Crouton Ensalada

A grilled salad recipe that easily serves a crowd.

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Ingredients

For the dressing

  • 1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • pinch of salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup grated Manchego cheese

For the grilled vegetables and croutons

  • 1 large whole wheat baguette, sliced in half length-wise
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into 1/4 “ slices
  • 2 large assorted bell peppers, seeded, cut into large planks
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the salad

  • 5 roma tomatoes, cored and diced
  • 3/4 cup Spanish olives, chopped

Instructions

  1. To prepare the dressing: whisk together the lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk in the olive oil in a slow stream. Add the chopped parsley, garlic and Manchego.
  2. Pre-heat the grill to medium. Lightly brush the bread halves, red onion slices and bell peppers with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Once the grill is hot, add the vegetables and grill until tender, about 4-5 minutes per side. Remove from the grill and set aside until cool enough to handle. Chop the vegetables into bite-sized pieces.
  4. Place the bread on the grill cut side down and cook until light brown in color and slightly crunchy, about 4-5 minutes. Turn occasionally to prevent burning. Remove from the grill and set aside until cool enough to handle. Chop the bread into large bite-sized pieces. Place the chopped bread, onions and peppers into a large bowl.
  5. Toss the bread and vegetables with the dressing, tomatoes and olives. Let stand at least 10-15 minutes before serving.

Notes

  • Add a can of rinsed and drained garbanzo beans or cannellini beans to make this salad a complete meal!
  • Raining or snowing? No problem, just make the recipe inside using a grill pan. Instead of cutting the bread lengthwise, cut horizontally into 12 pieces, slicing on the bias, brush with olive oil, then grill.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 12
  • Calories: 377
  • Sugar: 5
  • Sodium: 453
  • Fat: 16
  • Saturated Fat: 3
  • Unsaturated Fat: 12
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 53
  • Protein: 9
  • Cholesterol: 2
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