Friday, October 24, 2014

Refried Black Beans (with a side of greens!)

These refried black beans were served with the butternut squash and sweet potato soup. Since I'm not able to eat salads, or any foods that require chewing, I snuck in a pile of spinach to compensate for missed greens. Sure, cooked greens are never as healthy as fresh, but you have to make due with what you got, right? :)

Anyway, these beans can be whipped up in a snap. I used canned black beans, but you can soak your own beans prior to following the recipe below. Be sure to top it with cojita cheese or another spicy cheese to get the traditional flavor of black beans - you'll never know the greens are in there!

Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

The cooler fall weather calls for a warm soup - not that I'd know as I've been cooped up in my apartment taking care of my teeth. It looked cold out and I needed a soft food item, so it's a win-win.

This soup is a mega-soup. It contains four vegetables and one fruit, packing a punch of health and strong fall flavors. I served it with a side of vegetarian refried black beans to strike a balance with protein.

Peace Out, Mac & Cheese: Round Two!

It's been well over a year since my last post on Peace Out, Mac & Cheese. My blog was dying a slow death of intermittent, uninspired posts. Cooking is just not as fun when you don't have anyone to do it with/for.

Shortly thereafter, life changed for the better. I met a very special guy, Kirk, who is now my fiancé. The relationship totally reinvigorated my love of cooking - it's something we do together very often. Although we've made some pretty amazing, blog-worthy dishes, posting just wasn't as important as enjoying a meal without a photography session. However, many folks have asked for our recipes, and rather than use one-way communication, the blog seems like the best outlet.

Scallops? Sure!

There's two other reasons I decided to start up again: a temporary, soft-food-only diet and a healthy lunch club with my coworkers.

Soft-Food Diet (to clarify, this does not mean cat food)
I had some substantial dental work done and, as a result, I'm following a soft-food diet from now until November 10. While it's quite limiting, I thought it would be a fun challenge to prepare soft foods that are nutritious and creative ( mac & cheese!). I also follow a Paleo-inspired diet that adds another layer of consideration. More on that below...

Healthy Lunch Club
Shalini, Rebecca, and me!
One of the highlights of my job are my coworkers, and they're just not any coworkers, they're coworkers who are all in on eating healthy! Inspired by my office-mate, Rebecca, who takes the Paleo diet very seriously (with the exception of cheese and the occasional trip to FroZenYo), my coworker Shalini, Kirk (who works two blocks away), and myself joined forces with her to create the Healthy Lunch Club.

Basically, we each bring lunch for the group one day a week, and it can only contain protein, fruits, veggies, and light dairy (no beans, grains, bread, etc). We also choose an ingredient of the week that we all have to use in our dish - past ingredients include lamb, lemon, pork belly, and jicama, to name a few. It's a lot of fun and forces us out of our culinary comfort zones while keeping us trim at the same time!

The Healthy Lunch Club always has a great meal to share so I plan to post those recipes from time to time. Who knows - maybe I'll even have some guest writers from the club :)

Happy eating!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Black Bean, Veggie and Goat Cheese Enchiladas

Greetings, POMAC followers...all 29 of you!  Almost a month has passed since my last post and I'll admit that cooking has not been on the forefront of my activities.  Aside from a delicious Lentil and Sweet Potato Stew that I have yet to write about, I haven't done much cooking.  I've been feeling a bit uninspired and lethargic and have been internalizing the onset of my 29th birthday a bit too much.

Over the past few days, I experienced one of the worst illnesses I can remember.  I was completely wiped out, called out of work and slept for a personal record of 13 hours.  While some of this is unavoidable I believe that my sub-par diet played a huge role in my weakened immune system.  Once I started feeling better, my inspiration returned and I renewed my commitment to healthy eating.

My starting point?  These delicious vegetarian enchiladas.  Filled with sweet potatoes, carrots, onions and yellow squash, they contain a ton of fresh ingredients to get me back on track.  They're topped off with cilantro and avocado and a homemade tomato-based enchilada sauce.  If you're a fan of leftovers, this recipe makes enough for at least three meals.  Here's to your health!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Creamy Butternut Squash Risotto (without the cream!)

My closet friends know that I am NOT a fan of football but, like most people, I am a fan of food.  So, when my Baltimore Raven's-obsessed friends invited me over for a little game watching and snacks, I wanted to bring a healthy yet satisfying dish.

You'll notice that this butternut squash risotto doesn't contain any cream - the original recipe is actually vegan - yet it is a savory dish that is on par with more traditional risottos.  It also takes much less time than a typical risotto and does not require constant stirring of the dish (and, in some cases, multiple cooks watching the pot).  Just keep in mind that part of the flavoring of the sauce is from crushed cashews so it's probably best to check for food allergies in advance.

I encourage you to make this dish for your next event.  Super Bowl, anyone?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Following Tradition: Cream Cheese Potatoes

Whenever I think of the meals served during the holidays, Cream Cheese Potatoes is the first that comes to mind.  The main dish may vary, as well as other side dishes, but this potato casserole has been the staple of Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter meals for as long as I can remember.  They are flavorful but not overpowering, and taste better over time, so they can be made a day or two ahead and reduce the stress so often found during the holiday season.

Side note:  If you're traveling, I recommend cooking these potatoes in two smaller Pyrex dishes as opposed to a large dish.  This allows the food to be reheated quicker and is easier to manage as oven sizes may vary.

From my family to yours... :)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

White Bean and Rosemary Spread

It looks like I'm on a total Sheryl Crow kick these days, because this recipe comes straight from her awesome cookbook, If It Makes You Healthy.  It's super simple - all you need is a food processor and several kitchen staples and you'll be on your way to making a fantastic white bean dip that's perfect for easy snacking or even a holiday party.

I might be speaking too soon about kitchen staples; I think the most important ingredient in this recipe is smoked paprika.  This particular type of paprika is most commonly found in specialty food stores.  If you're local to the Washington, DC area, you might want to check out The Spice and Tea Exchange at 1069 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, although it looks like they have locations all over the country.  They have an amazing selection of specialty spices and teas.  However, I'm sure regular paprika will work in a pinch.