Although I am sad to see summer go, I can’t help but get excited about fall. It is most definitely my favorite season! Flannel, booties, skinny jeans, chunky sweaters, pumpkin everything – yes please! As we get teased with some cooler weather here in Chicago, I have found that my closet needs a bit of a remodel for fall. Although this isn’t typical for my blog, I thought I would take a break from food and share a few fall items I have on my wish list! Click the links below to find each of the items listed above.
Trail mix sometimes gets discredited as a healthy snack since it can be high in calories. It’s true that you have to be careful what bag of trail mix you pick up at the store as many include a lot of candy/sugar. If you are anything like me, you can’t help but pick out the chocolate! However, if you do it right, trail mix can certainly be a very healthy snack option. The key is to incorporate whole grain, protein, and healthy fat without a lot of added sugars (ie. candy!).
This trail mix is perfect for fall. One secret to lightening up this trail mix is the addition of popcorn. Popcorn adds lots of volume to each serving without adding a lot of calories. In fact, 3 cups of popped corn only has only 93 calories and 3 grams of fiber. Instead of candy, the sweetness of this trail mix comes from dried fruit: cranberries and apple chips. Of course, you could add just a bit of sweetness by mixing in a 1/2 tablespoon of brown sugar or a drizzle of maple syrup.
The recipe redux challenge for this month was to dehydrate your own food. Did you know that you can dehydrate foods in your oven rather than using a dehydrator? I was super excited to try it out! Apple chips seemed like a good start and it turns out they were actually really easy. All you have to do is cut your apples into very thin slices, place them in a single layer on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, and bake on low heat (200 degrees Fahrenheit) for around 2 hours. I sprinkled mine with some cinnamon and nutmeg before baking for some added flavor. Right out of the oven, they are a delicious crisp chewy. I stored mine in a ziploc bag overnight and found they lose a little of their crispness and become more chewy over time.
Feel free to adjust this recipe for whatever nuts or dried fruits you have on hand. I was thinking pecans would be a delicious substitute for the walnuts! If you want the prep-time to go faster, purchase your apple chips from the store and use a bag of microwave popcorn. Just make sure you check the nutrition facts label on the microwave popcorn to make sure it doesn’t have any trans fat. (A lot of them do!)
- For the apple chips:
- 2 apples, thinly sliced
- 3 cups water
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Dash of cinnamon
- Dash of nutmeg
- For the trail mix:
- ⅓ cup popcorn kernels (or 1 bag microwave popcorn)
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds
- ½ cup walnuts
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- Dash of salt
- To make the apple chips:
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
- To make the apple chips, thinly slice apples horizontally through the core with a kitchen knife or mandolin. Let soak in a large bowl with the water and lemon juice for 10 minutes. (To help prevent browning.)
- Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- Pat apple slices dry with a paper towel and arrange in a single layer on the cookie sheet. Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Flip the apple slices, sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg again and bake for another hour. When finished, chips should start to curl around the edges and turn light brown. Let cool on pan.
- To make the trail mix:
- In an enamel stock pot, add the canola oil and 2 kernels of corn. Heat over medium-high heat unit the kernels pop.
- Quickly add the ⅓ cup of kernels and cover. Let pop, shaking occasionally for about 5 minutes, or until you don't hear any more kernels pop for more than 15 seconds.
- Sprinkle popcorn with cinnamon and salt. Stir in the apple chips, cranberries, seeds, and walnuts.
Hey there! It has been way too long since I visited my little blog! I have basically disappeared from the world of the internet for the last 10 days. Ha. Over the break, I spent some time in the gorgeous mountains of Colorado where my college friend was married over the weekend. I love how my college friends and I can just pick up right where we last left off even though we haven’t seen each other in months. I feel like I haven’t laughed that much in a long time! I won’t bore you with lots of pictures from the trip, but here’s one to show off just how gorgeous the scenery was in Colorado!
We actually flew back to Chicago Monday night, but we have been having major issues with our internet connection at home all week. Hence no blogging. Boo. After having a tech come to the house for the 4th time now… I think we are back online. (Fingers crossed!!)
As I try to catch up on everything I’ve missed while I was gone, I thought I would share this delicious recipe with you! Savor the last of summer’s zucchini, basil and cherry tomatoes in this dish. We found some cute yellow tomatoes at the market the last time, which added some colorful contrast to this pasta. I roasted them in the oven to caramelize them, they were so good.
If you don’t have a spiralizer to make the noodles, you can cut the zucchini into long thin strips by hand, it just takes longer. If you haven’t tried zucchini in place of pasta before, you may want to do half regular pasta and half zucchini. Zucchini definitely doesn’t have the same texture, but they are a fun, low calorie and high fiber substitute for when you are feeling adventurous. (Or when you live with a low-carb guy and want to still have a “pasta” night every once in a while!)
- For the Pesto:
- 2 ounces Parmesan cheese
- 4 cups fresh basil leaves
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ cup walnuts
- ½ cup olive oil
- Dash of Salt
- For the Pasta:
- 3-4 zucchini
- 1½ c. halved grape or cherry tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Spiralize the zucchini and put into a colander. Salt liberally and set aside.
- To roast the tomatoes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread halved tomatoes onto a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Stir a little to coat the tomatoes in oil. Bake for ~30 minutes or until the tomatoes have just started to wilt or shrivel. Move to the broiler and broil on high for 2-4 minutes or until the tomatoes have just a touch of darkened edges. Pull out and set aside.
- For the pesto, combine all the pesto ingredients in a food processor and process until almost smooth. Set aside.
- Fill a pan with an inch of water and place steamer basket inside. Heat over medium-high heat until boiling. Add the zucchini and cover. Let cook for 5 minutes and then transfer zucchini back to your colander. Shake as much excess water as you can from the zucchini.
- In a large bowl, toss the zucchini with the pesto to coat. (Add about half the pesto to start and increase to taste. I used about ½ the recipe on mine.) Divide onto plates and top with roasted tomatoes and additional shredded parmesan cheese.
If it were acceptable, I think I would probably eat every meal out of a bowl. I just love the simplicity of it. No need to make several side dishes or dirty lots of dishes. Keep some staple ingredients on hand and putting together a tasty meal to serve in a bowl is simple. I always try to include some wholesome complex carbohydrate like quinoa or lentils which can be prepped in a big batch over the weekend and served at several meals. In addition, you could chop up your vegetables on Sunday so you can prepare your weeknight meals faster. To assemble a healthy meal in a bowl, you just cook up your vegetables and a vegetarian protein like tofu, reheat your grains and toss it all together in a tasty sauce. Simple!
There is a lot of goodness going on in this yummy bowl! Soy sauce, ginger, and fresh basil are mixed together to make a delicious dressing for the soba noodles and stir fried veggies. To lighten up the soba noodles, I spiralized a zucchini into the mix as well. (I used this handheld spiralizer from Procizion which works really well on zucchini!) This bowl is high in fiber and provides the majority of your vitamin C and K requirements for the day. Plus, it tastes like take out, but is so much healthier!
- For the dressing:
- 3 cloves garlic
- 5 tablespoons soy sauce
- ¼ cup basil leaves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root (~1/2" piece)
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- For the Bowl:
- 2 servings soba noodles
- 1 zucchini
- 1 small head broccoli, chopped
- 2 colored banana peppers, sliced
- 6-8 shitake mushrooms, sliced
- 3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
- 2 carrots, chopped into matchstick pieces
- 1 Lime, for serving
- In a small bowl, stir together all the ingredients for the dressing and set aside.
- In a large stock pot/saute pan, add 1½ tablespoons of the canola oil. Heat over medium-high heat for a minute and add the sliced shitake mushrooms. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally until they start to shrink and lightly brown. Scoop mushrooms out of the pan into a small bowl and set aside.
- In the same pan you used for the mushrooms, add the other 1½ tablespoons of canola oil and the other chopped vegetables (broccoli, peppers, carrots). Stir to coat in oil and then cover. Cook for 5-7 minutes with the lid on, stirring occasionally. Heat until vegetables are crisp tender.
- While your vegetables are cooking, heat a medium saucepan of water over medium heat. Once it starts to boil, add the soba noodles. Cook for 5 minutes and then drain. Toss noodles with the spiraled zucchini and pour the dressing over top. Toss to coat.
- To assemble bowls, layer a serving of noodles into a bowl, top with vegetables and mushrooms. Serve with a slice of lime. For some added protein, add endamame or tofu.
Over the past few months, I have become a huge fan of podcasts. Will has always been an avid podcast and audiobook listener, but I thought it was a bit too nerdy to start. I enjoyed listening to my tunes on Pandora during my commute. However, over the last few weeks, I have changed my mind about podcasts. After finding a few good ones, I am all about them now. That’s right, now I’m the big nerd. Ha!
How about you? Any favorite podcasts? Over the last few weeks I have been loving these ones: Joy the Baker Podcast, This American Life, The Jess Lively Show, The Art of Simple, After the Jump, and Elise Gets Crafty. Whew. That sounds like a lot! However, I seem to go through them quickly each week. They are great for listening to at the gym too – I feel like it makes the time go by faster than listening to music.
Just like listening to podcasts has now become a habit in my life, this salad may make a frequent appearance in my lunch this fall! I picked up a few perfect pears this weekend that I couldn’t help but incorporate into a salad. The sweet pears were perfect paired with some peppery arugula and salty gorgonzola. The dressing is as simple as can be with just balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
- For the Dressing:
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- For the Pecans:
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- ½ cup pecans
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- For the Salad:
- 3 cups arugula
- 1 pear, chopped
- ¼ cup gorgonzola cheese
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- In a jar, combine dressing ingredients and shake well to combine.
- To make the pecans, pour pecans onto a non-stick skillet and heat over medium-high heat for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the maple syrup and stir. Heat another 1-2 minutes or until pecans are well coated with syrup. (They will be sticky!) Turn off heat and sprinkle with brown sugar. Toss to coat. Set aside to cool.
- Divide arugula into two bowls. Top with ½ portion of the pear, pecans, cheese, and cranberries. Pour ½ of dressing over top of each salad. Toss to coat.
If you don’t already read Half Baked Harvest’s blog, you are totally missing out! Tieghan’s food photography and recipes are incredible. I love how she always uses lots of fresh produce in her recipes – not only does it add a lot of healthy nutrients, but her dishes are so colorful too! For this week’s meal plan, you’ll find 5 of her vegetarian entree recipes.
Vegetarian Meal Plan for September 7-13
- Monday: Spicy BBQ Chickpea Crispy Polenta Bowls with Broccoli & Ranch Hummus Tieghan’s original recipe calls for roasted asparagus, but since it isn’t in season anymore I thought broccoli or green beans would be great too.
- Tuesday: Tuscan Summer Minestrone w/Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto - Serve with crusty bread or grilled cheese.
- Wednesday: Indian Crepes with Summer Squash and Tomato Chickpea Masala - Try something out of the ordinary with this Indian crepes dish.
- Thursday: Quinoa Crusted Baked Three Cheese Zucchini and Eggplant Parmesan - Serve with a side salad to round out the meal.
- Friday: Toasted Walnut Pesto and Caramelized Nectarine Pizza w/Spicy Balsamic Drizzle - Dress up your pizza a bit more this weekend by adding walnut pesto and caramelized nectarines. You won’t be sorry!
Farmers Market Shopping List Here is a convenient printable shopping list to take with you to the Saturday/Sunday morning farmer’s market. The portions on the list will allow you to make each recipe for at least 4-6 servings so adjust if needed. In addition to market produce, you’ll find a list for any store items or pantry staples you will need for any of the entree recipes this week. Pick up additional ingredients for side dishes based on my suggestions above or your personal preferences. To get a printable version of the meal plan and shopping list, click this link –> Half Baked Harvest Vegetarian Meal Plan
Are you a fan of Half Baked Harvest? Do you have any other favorite bloggers you would like to see featured in a meal plan next week? Let me know in the comments below!
I am not one of those people that loves fruit based desserts. Give me all the chocolate, please! However, I do have a soft spot when it comes to fruit crisp. There is just something about that delicious crumb topping that I just can’t resist. With a few tweaks, there is no reason that a fruit crisp should be limited to just dessert. In this version, I’ve made a few adjustments so that you can enjoy this dessert for breakfast without feeling guilty!
It was a bit of a dreary, rainy morning here in Chicago and I was craving something different for breakfast. We had a few extra peaches, hence this crisp was born! Start with some sliced fresh peaches. Make your crumb topping with wholesome oats (soluble fiber!), ground flax seed meal (Omega 3s!), chopped walnuts (more Omega 3s!), and a bit of butter and brown sugar. Sprinkle the oat topping over your peaches and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the oats are browned and the peaches are good and bubbly. Mmm…
Once your crisp is done, let cool on the counter for 10-15 minutes. Serve warm or chilled with plain yogurt for breakfast or wait until after dinner and serve with a scoop of ice cream for dessert! This can easily be made vegan by substituting the butter for chilled coconut oil. Make it gluten free by using gluten free oats.
- 5-6 peaches, sliced
- ½ cup roughly chopped walnuts
- 3 tablespoons ground flax seed meal
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 cup oats
- 3 tablespoons butter
- ½ tablespoon vanilla
- Dash nutmeg
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Slice peaches, toss in the vanilla and nutmeg and then spread evenly into a 8"x8" baking dish.
- In a small bowl, combine walnuts, flax, brown sugar, and oats. Chop chilled butter and add to oat mixture. Using your fingers or two knives, break the butter into smaller pieces until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Sprinkle the crumb topping over the peaches in an even layer. Bake peach crisp for 35-40 minutes or until topping is lightly browned and the peaches have started to bubble.
- Serve warm or chilled with a dollop of plain yogurt.
Happy Saturday! While you are sipping on your coffee this morning, here’s a round up of a few of the recipes I have been drooling over this week.
- Savor some of that summer produce before it’s gone in this summer salad with sesame buttermilk dressing.
- Speaking of summer produce… this farmers market miso noodle bowl is just gorgeous!
- Dear single serving pumpkin muffin, I think you are going to be a regular in my fall breakfast rotation!
- Mmm… vegan frozen salted s’more sandwiches!
- I’ve been wanting to try a chilled soup all summer. This cold cucumber avocado soup with fresh herbs may be the one!
- Who needs snack pack pudding when you could have avocado and banana chocolate pudding?!
- Adorable –> homemade sprinkles with fruit and veggie based food coloring.
- I’ve got to try these veggie enchilada stacks with roasted tomatillo sauce.
- Make me a big bowl! –> Sesame garlic stir fry noodles
- Brown butter and funfetti!? I’m all in!
- Must make this simple oat and pecan blueberry crisp before summer is over.
- Chocolate for breakfast. Need I say more?
- Gummy bears grow up in this gummy bear sangria.
I have been a huge fan of Dana and Jon’s blog, Minimalist Baker for years. As minimalists, their focus on a more simplified lifestyle translates into easy recipes that are 10 ingredient or less, one bowl, or 30 minute prep that can be recreated by even newbie cooks. Not only are the recipes simple to prepare, they are usually gluten free or vegan to boot! In addition to Dana’s drool-worthy recipes, their blog is a treasure trove of handy tips for food bloggers. (I know I’ve learned a lot from them!) Needless to say, I was super excited to get in touch with Jon about using their recipes in this week’s meal plan!
Meal Plan for the Week of August 31 – September 6:
- Monday: Crispy Peanut Tofu & Cauliflower Rice Stir-Fry - Remember to start pressing your tofu about 1.5 hours before you plan to cook this stir fry. To adjust for 4 servings you’ll need just 1.5 pounds of tofu. Since most packages are 1 pound, you’ll have a little extra that would be a perfect addition to the coconut curry on Thursday!
- Tuesday: Simple Summer Corn Soup - Make sure to enjoy a few more ears of corn before the summer ends! Serve this soup with a hummus and veggie sandwich or simple side salad.
- Wednesday: Vegan Roasted Red Pepper Pasta - Jazz up a boring spaghetti night with this dish. I would add a bit of protein by pairing with a sliced Italian vegan sausage and serve it with a side salad. Yum!
- Thursday: 30 Minute Coconut Curry - Curry is surprisingly easy and packed with flavor! You’ll want to make this dish over and over again.
- Friday: Goat Cheese and Caramelized Onion Pizza - Don’t let its simplicity fool you – this pizza is packed with flavor! An arugula based salad would pair really well with this.
Farmers Market Shopping List Here is a convenient printable shopping list to take with you to the Saturday/Sunday morning farmer’s market. The portions on the list will allow you to make each recipe for at least 4 servings so adjust if needed. In addition to market produce, you’ll find a list for any store items or pantry staples you will need for any of the entree recipes this week. Pick up additional ingredients for side dishes based on my suggestions above or your personal preferences. To get a printable version of the meal plan and shopping list, click this link –> Minimalist Baker Vegetarian Meal Plan PDF
Do you have a favorite food blogger you would like to see featured here? Let me know in the comments below! Be sure to stop by next Friday for a meal plan featuring recipes from Half Baked Harvest!
Will is the reason I like eggplants today. You see, whenever I used to try and cook them in college/grad school, they always turned out a bit bland and slightly bitter. Then Will came along and made these broiled eggplant slices in a soy ginger marinade that were amazing. Under his tutelage, I’ve learned a few key tips for cooking eggplant that actually tastes good!
- Choose eggplants that have a smooth skin and are firm to the touch. A fresh eggplant will be less bitter and more tasty than one that has been on the shelf longer. Summer fresh eggplants from the farmers’ market are always so much better than winter ones bought at the supermarket. When you buy an eggplant, use it as soon as possible after bringing it home!
- Globe eggplants need salted while long, skinny Japanese eggplants can be prepped without the extra step. Before prepping a globe eggplant, toss in salt and let sit in a colander for at least 10 minutes or until you see moisture beading on the surface of the cut pieces. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels.
- Cook your eggplant thoroughly to get the best flavor. Raw or half-cooked eggplant isn’t going to turn out well.
- Eggplant loves olive oil so be generous! Mediterranean inspired flavors are perfect for eggplant.
Let’s talk about what’s going on in this delicious bowl! Lentils packed with traditional Indian flavors make the base. On top of the lentils, pile on some tender roasted eggplant, garlic yogurt sauce, halved cherry tomatoes, and parsley. Give it a stir and you have one delectable vegetarian meal in a bowl!
- For the Lentils:
- 1 cup uncooked brown lentils, washed and picked over
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger (~1" root)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ tablespoon cumin
- 2 cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 small dried ancho peppers (optional)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- For the eggplant:
- 1 large eggplant
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- For the Garlic Yogurt Dressing:
- ½ cup plain yogurt
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons tahini (optional)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, rinsed
- Halved cherry tomatoes
- Chopped fresh parsley
- Heat lentils, broth, and spices (ginger through peppers) in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and cover partially. (Tilt the lid so some steam can still escape.) Simmer for 25-30 minutes or until vegetable broth is absorbed and lentils are tender. Stir in butter until melted.
- While the lentils are simmering, slice eggplant into ¼" slices. Layer in a colander and generously salt them. Toss to distribute the salt and set aside for 5-7 minutes. Rinse the eggplant and pat dry. Arrange eggplant slices in a single layer on a large cookie sheet (or two!). Brush both sides of the eggplant slices with olive oil and broil for 1-2 minutes. Check on the slices and turn if they are starting to lightly brown. Brush again with olive oil. Repeat until slices are tender and evenly browned. Remove from oven and sprinkle with a bit of salt.
- In a small bowl, mix the yogurt dressing ingredients together with a fork. Stir until evenly mixed.
- To make the bowls - divide lentils into 4 bowls, top with chopped eggplant slices, spoon yogurt dressing on top and garnish with fresh, chopped parsley, chickpeas, and halved cherry tomatoes.