Kale Avocado Salad

Healthy Decadence: Kale and Avocado Salad

Kale Avocado Salad

We’re deep into my salad season right now. You know that time of year – it’s so hot and sticky outside that I barely have an appetite after being out in the sun, and the last thing I feel like doing is standing over the stove. These are the days where a giant bowl of cool, fresh greens is the perfect light dinner. Added bonus: you’re eating super healthfully, meaning you won’t feel bloated and gross after your meal and you won’t dread wearing a tanktop in public. Win-win!

This recipe actually wasn’t created by me (gasp!) – it’s adapted from one courtesy of Saveur. Normally I wouldn’t bother following someone else’s recipe for a salad, for goodness’ sake, but this particular one popped up in one of my weekly Saveur email newsletters and I just couldn’t resist. After all, kale and avocado are two of my favorite foods. This dish is super, super simple, but it really doesn’t need anything extra. The luxurious creaminess of the avocado feels decadent enough to make this whole salad a treat, and the fresh citrus juices and soy are a lovely complement. It’s safe to say that I’ll be eating this a LOT for the rest of the summer… and beyond.

Kale and Avocado Salad

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Meaty–Yet Meatless–Spicy Lettuce Wraps

Meatless Lettuce Wraps

Between Cinco de Mayo two weeks ago and an especially booze-soaked girls’ getaway last weekend, my body is pissed. I’ve been stuffing myself with melted cheese, guacamole, and tequila for two straight weeks now and I’m not feeling my finest, on the inside or outside.

SO! What does this mean? Back to basics. Making a conscious effort to cook at home, using healthy ingredients. I’m trying to cut back on the meat and carbs for the next couple weeks, so it’s up to me to make eating tons of fresh vegetables interesting. The other night I cooked Asian lettuce wraps for boyfriend Rob (an ultra-carnivore) and our roommate Dayna (a vegetarian) and… the impossible was achieved! Everyone loved this dinner. Probably because it’s flavorful and meaty, yet meat-free and light.

The secret is my new fave vegetable protein, made by Gardein. Normally I don’t like packaged frozen foods, but I’ll make an exception for quick, healthy options like Amy’s, Kashi and certain Trader Joe’s entrees… and now I can add Gardein to the list. Luckily, their meatless meats are made from all-natural vegetable proteins (soy, wheat, and pea proteins plus vegetables and complex grains) so I don’t feel guilty about splurging on a little frozen shortcut. Apparently nobody else in my house minds either!

Meatless Spicy Lettuce Wraps

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A Healthier Risotto: Quinoa Faux-otto

Let’s face it. No matter how much I love to cook, some nights I’m just not feeling it. I’m tired, it’s getting late, I spent too much time watching reruns of Friends after work (whatever, not ashamed), I don’t want to go all the way to the grocery store in the dark, etc. You know the drill. On one such night, I was determined to make a delicious, inventive, and at least somewhat healthy dinner exclusively with things I already had in my fridge and pantry. Thus my quinoa faux-otto (faux risotto) was born.

This stuff is awesome because it’s rich, cheesy, and savory, just like regular risotto, but crammed with way more nutritional benefits than the traditional stuff. (Thanks, quinoa, I love you!) It also takes about half the time; no stirring required. Not that stirring is some great physical struggle—people complaining about stirring risotto is actually one of my culinary pet peeves—but this is great when you’re in a hurry or just feeling supremely lazy. My recipe reflects the produce and cheese I had on hand, but don’t be afraid to experiment with your leftovers. For example, I bet this would be delicious with some swiss, butternut squash, and bacon. Hmmm…

Quinoa Faux-otto with Brussels Sprouts, Spinach, & Parmesan

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Night of the Living Dread

Question: What do vegetarian zombies eat? Answer: “GRAAAAINS”

I was chomping through my second pound of bacon last Sunday while tossing around some ideas for a horror screenplay that I am writing, and I thought to myself, ‘How sad would it be if after you turned into a zombie you were destined to roam the world consuming only plant-based foods?’ Now THAT would be something that I would dread! Can you imagine? Laying there late at night in your boarded-up home, listening to the zombies munching on your garden and fruit trees? Huge groups of them wiping out fields of young corn and alfalfa, slowly chewing through farm stands like mindless, two-legged cows. And the remaining unaffected humans arming themselves and making a desperate last stand in front of their wheat fields. “Come on you grain eating devils!” a farmer screams as he drives his tractor into a crowd of attacking vega-zombies. “You’ll never take my plants alive!!”

What? Treating vegetarians as spooky, hollow-eyed creatures that repulse and shock us with their unstoppable lust for organic, fresh plants and vegetables? Don’t we do that already? I could film a version of this movie every day if I wanted. I would just sit in the local Whole Foods parking lot around noon and yell, “Action!”


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This Week at the Farmers Market: Summer Squash Pizza

If you’ve ever tried growing your own summer squash then you understand how quickly they can multiply and become overwhelming. Even inventive cooks can grow weary of its abundance before the dog days of August, and they are now all over the farmers markets. But with mild flesh and edible skin, yellow squash is easy to use in a variety of ways: cooked or raw, grilled, steamed, sauteed or baked. When picking out your squash at the market avoid spongy, flabby or overgrown ones and choose ones with taut skin, about 8 inches long or less.

This is a perfect way to enjoy veggie “pizza” without a ton of calories. You can make this light, tasty meal in the toaster oven on hot days when you don’t want the added heat in the kitchen. You can also eat it cool, rolled up as a wrap.

Summer Squash Pesto Pizza Roll-Ups

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Eating Jonathan Safran Foer


I haven’t read the book yet. I’m actually scared to.

I emailed with my friend Tim yesterday and I told him about my latest purchase and what I did on Tuesday night. Liza (of ES) and I saw Jonathan Safran Foer speak about his new book, Eating Animals.  As I wrote to Tim, I’m afraid that after I read it my pending vegetarianism will be cemented. Or I will only eat properly raised animals. Ugh. I just don’t know.

I’ve been on a mostly vegetable diet  for the past year and a half. There are a ton of reasons for the slow conversion, but reading Michael Pollan (Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, his New York Times Magazine pieces) has been undeniably influential. And of course my ritualistic dedication of eating what the farmers are selling at my local market has enthusiastically showed me how to eat produce with the seasons.

Andrew Sullivan, of Subway fame, introduced Foer at the 6th and I Historic Synagogue in DC. I had no idea that the already segmented gay Republican is also a vegetarian. He started with a story of his own book tour in Scotland. He’d been hammered with questions regarding his sexual orientation and was then innocently asked, “Do you eat meat?” With laughter from the audience, Sullivan joked with us that there were several possible answers to that question. He replied, however, that “No, never. It’s the only thing I can truly justify.”

And then Foer came on and pisted me off.

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Perfect Pattypans


Hey ESers, did you miss me? I missed you!  I’m afraid I’ve been gallivanting about for about a month and I have severely neglected ES in the meantime (and cooking in general).  I’ve been back for a week, and I must admit that my brain is a bit rusty and my cooking thus far has been less than inspired.  Does that ever happen to you all after a long time away from your kitchen?

I mean I was missing my kitchen the entire time I was gone, but my cooking muses seem to have expired during my brief journey, leaving me with only enough energy to cook a few stir-fries and throw together some salads.  Ugh….  Cookers’ block.

However, lucky readers, before I left for travels, I was struck by no such affliction.  In fact, just before I left I hosted a dinner party for which I pulled out all the stops. With my favorite summer ingredient at the ready  I made my most delicious  and complex pattypan dish yet:  Chickpea and Pesto Stuffed Pattypans:

stuffed pattypan with chickpeas topped with pesto

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