Saturday, November 29, 2014

Orange, Artichoke, and Pistachio Salad : A Thanksgiving Salad Story

I created this festive salad to bring to Thanksgiving dinner. As you probably would have guessed, the fate of any salad on Thanksgiving day is a sad one. People scurry on down the line, piling high the mashed potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, roasted brussel sprouts, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, turkey, and stuffing, and ladle on a river of gravy, for good measure. Then they get to the salad, glance at their burgeoning plates with one eyebrow askew, walk briskly by the giant bowl of greenery, and sit down. I can't blame them- I did the same thing! It is Thanksgiving, and no one ever says, "My favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner is the salad" after all. (Thanksgiving salads are weeping all over America, people). 

However, this is a delicious salad, Thanksgiving or any other wintry day. It contrasts navel orange acidity, with gems of salted pistachios, little bursts of sugary-tart dried cranberries, and the je-ne-sais-quoi meatiness of artichoke hearts. This mixture lays atop a bed of romaine and spring mix, and is lined with a halo of chopped parsley, adding a touch more brightness.  

Here everything is, all lined up (sans glorious orange). 

I whipped up an easy balsamic vinaigrette to go with this, but I imagine a cider vinaigrette, honey mustard, or yogurt dressing of sorts would go with this beautifully. If you are so inclined, chunks of feta would make for a nice briney addition.

Luckily, a bunch of people took bagfuls of this home, so no, I won't be eating this salad for every meal this week. 

Orange, Artichoke, and Pistachio Salad
Serves 4-15 (4: main course salad, 15: side salad)


  • 2 romaine hearts, washed and chopped into bitesize strips
  • 4-6 cups of spring mix
  • 1/2 English cucumber, chopped into half-moons
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped 
  • 2 oranges
  • 3/4 of a 15 oz can of quartered artichoke hearts
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup shelled, salted pistachios
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Take an extremely large bowl, and fill it with the romaine and spring mix. Toss together. Layer on the cucumber and celery.
  2. Using a sharp knife, peel the orange by slicing off strips of peel, being careful not to remove too much flesh. Now, glide your knife close to a white segment separator. Glide it on the other side of the segment, and remove the segment. Voila, a lovely peeled orange piece with no nasty white pith. Repeat this until the whole orange is sectioned off. (My sister said what remains looks like a fish skeleton. Mmm, yummy.)Repeat with the other orange.
  3. Lay the orange pieces on the salad, along with the artichoke hearts.
  4. Sprinkle on the dried cranberries and pistachios. Top with red onion, parsley, salt, and pepper. (Hold off on the salt if you are not serving this right away.) Dress with balasmic vinaigrette, recipe below. Feast on!
Garlic-kissed Balsamic Vinaigrette
Makes 1 to 1.25 cups

  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2-3/4 cup olive oil
  1. Add everything to a dressing shaker. Use the lower olive oil amount if you like your dressing with a bit more acidity. Shake, shake, shake until a thick, glossy dressing emerges.
Notes: If you are serving this as a main dish salad, add a protein component, such as cooked lentils or chickpeas. A nice, crusty piece of bread with a schmear of butter, or a baked sweet potato completes the meal. I served this with balsamic vinaigrette, but any other vinaigrette, honey mustard dressing, or yogurt dressing, would go well.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

WIAW: Long Run Edition

This week, I am joining the What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW) party again over at Peas and Crayons.

I have been training for the Philadelphia Marathon half-marathon (I know, redundant, right?) and thus have been doing a long run each weekend. This past weekend, I ran 11 miles in preparation for the race this week. See below for an account of my eats that day. 

My day started off with my typical huge cup o' joe. I've been enjoying Trader Joe's Wintry Blend coffee these days. 

For morning sustenance, I had this frosty bowl: frozen berries + frozen banana + cucumber + 1/2 scoop Vanilla Sunwarrior + 1/2 scoop Amazing Grass Vanilla Chai + almond milk, topped with raw oats and almond butter.

For lunch, I downed this butternut squash wrap, which consisted of a large whole wheat tortilla, hunks of butternut squash, a few tablespoons of pecan butter, and a shake of cinnamon. (At this point in the picture, I had eaten 3/4 of it because I forgot to take a picture. Blogger fail.) I was going on my long run shortly after lunch, so I wanted something carby and easily digestible. This did the trick!

Around mile 7 on the run, I bursted out this tasty GU. It tasted just like peanut butter frosting. A-maz-ing. This is right up there with my other favorite GU flavors: Espresso Love and Chocolate Outrage. 

11 miles completed! (Yes, I am slow- don't mock me. However, I never stopped my watch, and took multiple walking breaks)

Dorky post-run pic.

Upon arriving back, I had a glass of coconut water to rehydrate. Coconut water is rich in magnesium and potassium for muscle repair. 

For dinner, the boyfriend and I were starving our faces off, and whipped up this quick and hearty Thai Peanut Stir-Fry. It was basically a bunch of fresh veggies (included protein-packed edamame), stir-fried and mixed with a homemade peanut sauce that incorporated thai curry paste. It was all served on bed of Jasmine brown rice, and topped with green onions and julienned basil. I had this bowl, and half of another. 

Dessert was a bowl of greek yogurt + banana + boysenberry jam + peanut butter.

About an hour later, I had a second dessert: a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie (Angela's recipe) and a glass of homemade almond milk. 

That's it, folks. Hope you enjoyed a glimpse into my long-run eats!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Borani Kadoo (Afghan Curried Pumpkin)

One dark, rainy night, the boyfriend and I ventured to Paradise. Kabab Paradise, that is. Our elbows resting on the cool tabletop, we sat in a large, sparsely decorated room that was squirming with children and families. Intermittent baby cries could be heard, and a general hub-bub muffled our ears. People were walking about, and servers were bringing large trays of food to each of the tables, for which you were given a number after ordering at the counter.

Your typical hole-in-the-wall, mom-and-pop quick food joint was my impression as we sat at the table, waiting for our platters to arrive. The boyfriend assured me that this place is much-beloved by his coworkers, who come often to gorge themselves on one of Paradise's infamous platters. Our entrees arrived- both of us ordering the falafel gyro platter, heaped with rice, a carrot slaw, chunks of falafel, and amply doused in yogurt sauce. Okay, folks- getting a bit real here- even though this was tasty, it was very heavy, and a bit too greasy for me. However, 4.5 stars on Yelp as rated by 196 people really cannot lie. Call me an outlier; I digress.

Anyway, due to this heaviness, I wanted a little something else that was a bit fresher. Kadoo Qorma, aptly described as "Pumpkin (Vegetarian Meal)", piqued my interest. When do I not like pumpkin? Really never. And so it was ordered. Upon arrival, it was not what I expected- more of a mash of pumpkin, served with warm Afghan bread, and drizzled with a stark white yogurt sauce. Pressing the warm bread into the garlicky, sweet pumpkin and the dabs of creamy yogurt made me close my eyes and sigh. The boyfriend's eyes perked up, too. We were indeed in Paradise, and finished the entire plate despite having already eaten half of our platters. It was that damn good. 

It may be obvious to you by now that I clearly felt the need to replicate it in my own kitchen. After much diligent Googling, with "Kadoo Qorma" not resulting in much of anything, I discovered that the recipe is often called Borani Kadoo. With that stealthy information, I was able to scrounge up a couple of recipes, but they all seemed to be based off of one: Kate Sullivan Moford's San Francisco Chronicle article, from 2008 (Come on people, was 2008 the hey-day of the Borani Kadoo recipe- at least for English-speakers? That's 6 years ago. The web needs more Borani Kadoo recipes!). So, using Moford's and Veggie Belly's (who also uses Moford's as inspiration), I created mine, eager to spread the Kadoo love. 

First, I peeled the pumpkin by shaving off the hard skin with a sharp knife. Ah, nakey pumpkin! Then I chopped it into chunks, mixed in garlic, ginger, and spices, and simmered it until soft. Borani Kadoo was born. 

I paired it with roasted green cauliflower, and scarlet runner beans drizzled in tahini (+ toast as pictured in first photo). A pumpkin-garlic mouth explosion. 

Borani Kadoo (Afghan Curried Pumpkin)
Serves 4


  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, pureed
  • 3/4 tbsp minced garlic (or 0.5 tbsp if garlic averse)
  • 3/4 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1.25 cups water
  • 2 tbsp sugar (or 3 tbsp for added sweetness)
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 sugar pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and cut into 4" wedges
  1. Heat oil in large skillet. Add pureed onion, and sautee for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, ginger, tumeric, coriander, and cayenne and cook for 2 minutes. Then add in the tomato paste, water, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil. Add in the pumpkin, and reduce heat. 
  3. Simmer the pumpkin, covered, for 20 minutes, or until very tender. Add more water if needed when cooking. Drizzle with garlic yogurt sauce, as detailed below. Happy feasting!

Yogurt Sauce
  1. Combine 1 cup lowfat or full fat yogurt with 1 clove of minced garlic. Salt to taste. Drizzle over kadoo and enjoy.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Perfect Crunchy Almond Butter

I am an ardent consumer of nut and seed butters. I would guesstimate that I polish off a jar every week to week and a half. Globbed into a yogurt bowl, whisked into salad dressings, drizzled over roasted veggies, or smeared onto toast- I eat nut or seed butter at almost every meal. Due to this obsession, I usually keep 4 or so jars in my fridge at any one time. All are different varieties; a girl's got to have choices! Right now, for example, I have a (half-devoured) jar of this Perfect Crunchy Almond Butter, pumpkinseed butter, 8 lbs of hulled tahini (we can chat about that later... haha), some un-hulled tahini, crunchy peanut butter, and pecan butter. Told you I was obsessed.

I use nut and seed butters to replace other fats, such as regular butters / Earth Balance and oils. Why? For a few reasons:
  • I think they add more depth of flavor than oils to many dishes. (Of course, nothing beats dipping a hunk of crusty bread in olive oil, so fear not, I still use oils/butter.) However, I find for certain dishes (okay, most dishes, let's be real), like Asian noodle bowls, or for salad dressings, that nut and seed butters have a deeper flavor than their parallel oil
  • Nut and seed butters pack a protein punch. Oils and regular butter have 0 g of protein. Booo. See below for protein amounts in the butters I have on hand right now. All amounts based on 2 tbsp:
    • Peanut butter: 8 g 
    • Almond butter: 7 g 
    • Pecan butter: 4 g
    • Pumpkinseed butter: 9 g
    • Tahini: 6 g
  • Nut and seed butters have a wealth of micronutrients; oils contain micronutrients like vitamin e, as well, but nut and seed butters have a wider variety of these micronutrients, and often in higher amounts:
    • Peanut butter: high in niacin, vitamin e, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus
    • Almond butter: high in riboflavin, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese
    • Pecan butter: high in thiamin, manganese, copper
    • Pumpkinseed butter: high in vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese
    • Tahini: high in thiamin, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese
  • Nut butters contain fiber (1-3 grams usually), which helps increase GI motility and fullness. Oils and regular butter contain 0 g fiber

So, due to my ravenous consumption of these nut and seed butters, it is much more economical for me to make my own. Have you seen the price of a jar of pumpkinseed butter, people? $14.50 for 12 oz?! What nonsense. I bought a 1 lb bag of pumpkinseeds at Trader Joe's for $7. 

Anyway, I digress. It is indeed much cheaper to make these rarer nut butters at home. Employing my trusty Vitamix, I can easily whip up a batch in 2-3 minutes. However, for those without a high-speed blender (i.e. Vitamix or Blendtec or Ninja), proceed with caution before making nut butter. It could take you 20-30 minutes if you have a regular blender / food processor. Yes, I recall with much displeasure the first time I made a nut butter, cashew, for those curious, which took me a whopping 40 mins. Yes, I was persistent. Why I didn't give up 20 mins in, I do not know. And then I got my Vita, and life has been beautiful.

To make crunchy almond butter, set aside 1/2 cup of the almonds, and grind the rest into almond butter. Then just chop up the whole almonds and mix them with the almond butter. Crunchy bliss, ready to be slathered on some pumpkin muffins, or eaten by the spoonful out of the jar (Do it! I won't judge you. *cough* I do it every day *cough*).

Perfect Crunchy Almond Butter
Makes a 1-lb jar


  • 1 lb of dry roasted, unsalted almonds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Roughly chop 1/2 cup of almonds and set aside.
  2. Add remaining almonds and salt to high speed blender, such as Vitamix or Blendtec. Blend using tamper, increasing speed from 1-10. Blend on 10 for 2 minutes, or until smooth.
  3. Pour 1/4 of the nut butter into a jar. Add some chopped almonds. Add more nut butter, and more chopped almonds, alternating until all butter and chopped nuts are used. Then, using a spoon or butter knife, stir until combined. Your homemade crunchy almond butter is all ready!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Dreamy PB&J Oatmeal

Just popping in with an easy hot breakfast recipe. This steamy bowl combines tangy berries with a smattering of au natural peanut butter for a grown up version of the childhood favorite. A hearty scoop of nonfat greek yogurt is plopped in the center, with dabs of boysenberry jam topping it all off.

I dove into this after a chilly 4-mile morning run, and it warmed my belly and tickled my tongue with peanut butter (sometimes I just get insane peanut butter cravings- anyone feel me?) I tend to make oatmeal bowls like this quite often in the fall and winter, so perhaps you will be seeing a few more creative oat bowl recipes pop up within the next few months! 

Dreamy PB&J Oatmeal
Serves 1


  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 tsp chia seeds or ground flax (optional)
  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries 
  • 1/2 cup nonfat greek yogurt 
  • 1-2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp berry jam (see note)
  • honey, agave, or stevia, to taste
  1. Mix oats, water, chia, and frozen berries together in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 2-3 minutes, or until oats are tender and much of the liquid has been absorbed.
  2. Top with yogurt, peanut butter, jam, and optional sweetener. Enjoy!
Notes: I used boysenberry jam, but grape, strawberry, or raspberry should all work well. I used granulated stevia (from BJ's) to sweeten.