Cheesy Baked Spaghetti Squash

I used to be a little wary of spaghetti squash. Its “diet food” reputation made me hesitate to view it as something to enjoy eating. Fortunately my desire to eat everything overcame my skepticism, because as it turns out, this squash can be really tasty. I started cooking it this way ages ago, on recommendation of one of the earliest posts of Edible Perspective, and never looked back.

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Weekend Aspirations and Healthy Food on Pinterest

Happy Friday, friends! My latest kitchen experiments are in need of further testing, so no recipe today. Instead I’m stopping  by to say hello, share some blog housekeeping, and rejoice in the coming weekend.

Life can be a little exhausting sometimes, and I think we could all stand to benefit from taking a deep breath and spending some time on ourselves. My self-enriching goals for the weekend:

  • Breathe some fresh salty air at the beach (I love you, California)
  • Take a long run while enjoying the new episode of the always delightful Joy the Baker Podcast
  • Bust out the yoga mat and stretch out my body.
  • Kick back with the new issue of Cooking Light (my food magazine of choice!)
  • Cook lots of delicious food to share with you!

Finally, I’ve been doing some revamping of my Pinterest profile, including creation of a new board – “Super Healthy” – to help organize the recipes that most appeal to my dietitian sensibilities. When you’re in the throes of a health kick, look no further!

I love finding new sources for inspiration, and since you’re here you probably have great taste. Just kidding, but seriously, if we’re not already connected, follow me! While we’re at it, I’d love to see how you’re taking advantage of your weekend on Instagram, too. What are you planning for yourself?

Garlic Kale & Feta Bagels

Before I made nutrition my livelihood, I wouldn’t think twice about grabbing a giant sesame-coated carbohydrate monstrosity on my way to a morning lecture. These days I still eat them on occasion (a life without bagels is no life for me), but dietitian thoughts creep in. I can’t help but think of the inflammatory properties of flour, the insulin spike caused by the high glycemic load signalling to the body’s fat cells to plump up, and the anticipation that the refined starch will digest in a flash, leaving me crashing before lunch. It’s funny because there are plenty of RD-dubious foods I eat without a care, in interest of moderation. Maybe it’s because bagels are breakfast, and I feel pressure to start the day off right. A wise person described breakfast as the “gateway drug” for the rest of the day’s eating… how apt is that!? I definitely find that my morning meal sets the stage for the day, and I love fueling up on a breakfast that makes me feel good. So I set out to see if I could achieve that experience while, well… still getting to eat a bagel.

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Bittersweet Chocolate Almond Pudding

I can understand the argument that Valentine’s Day is arbitrary and consumerized… but seriously, if anything is worthy of celebration, it’s love. We tend to take a pretty low-maintenance approach around here; he plants me flowers, I make him an extra-nice dinner, and then we eat chocolate pudding. It’s silly, but it’s our go-to Valentine’s dessert. It’s super simple, but still feels special enough for a celebration. It’s rich, but not overly heavy after the preceding indulgent meal. And as a bonus, its prepared ahead of time and chilled until you’re ready for it, so it’s accommodating to whatever spontaneity your night offers.

This year, I felt compelled to try something new, maybe add a little sophistication to my old standby recipe. I experimented with an addition of almond flavor and espresso, and I have to say, it felt pretty fancy. It morphed chocolate pudding’s childhood charm into a deeper, more complex, grown-up indulgence. Of course I couldn’t just stop there, and had to further gild the lily by topping the bowl with lightly sweetened whipped cream, dark chocolate and crunchy almonds… I regret nothing.

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Fresh Vietnamese Noodle Bowls

Last summer was my first time eating bún – a refreshing Vietnamese salad of cold noodles, charred meat and crunchy veggies. It was during a week-long trip to San Diego that I took with Grant to make preparations for our cross-country move

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Curried Chickpea Wraps

Last week I cooked up a big batch of chickpeas with intentions of hummus, but accidentally under-cooked them a little. They were tender enough to eat, but weren’t quite able to blend into a smooth puree, so I bagged them in the freezer for later use (in case you’ve never tried, this is a great way to store cooked beans – the texture doesn’t suffer at all from freezing/thawing).

When I rediscovered them while foraging my fridge for lunch on Saturday, I had visions of chana masala… but I needed something a little more casual. I don’t currently have a favorite recipe for the classic north Indian chickpea curry*, and at the time I wasn’t interested in dropping everything to find one. I just wanted the essence of the dish – spicy garbanzos – in a quick and simplified way. If I could also find a quick and simple substitute for the experience of an accompanying naan… that would seal the deal.

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Steak and Potato Salad

Man Food… it’s taking over the internet this week! In anticipation of Superbowl Sunday, folks are pulling out all the cheesy, greasy, chicken-wingy stops. While I could never pass for a sports fan, and (real talk) probably can’t even bring myself to watch the game, I can’t pass up a chance to indulge in some good old-fashioned Americana… dietitian-style, naturally. While not exactly football finger food, this salad is my veggie-lover’s take on the meat-and-potatoes movement.

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t eat a ton of meat, and red meat in particular is an infrequent grocery purchase in the flavorRD household. Partly because we find it heavy, and partly due to the expense – especially for the grass-fed beef we prefer. But occasionally, a good dense source of protein and iron (more on that later) is exactly what we need.

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Steel-Cut Oat Pancakes

I have a thing for steel-cut oats. These are the coarsely chopped oat groats that cook up with a nutty flavor and chewy/creamy texture. While I’m a long-time oat devotee, I had mostly only cooked with “old fashioned” rolled oats. I was stuck on the idea that they were the only way I could be guaranteed a bowl of hot oats in three minutes flat, and was convinced that the esteemed steel-cuts were only attainable for those willing to postpone breakfast in favor of 30 minutes of tending the stove. What I know now, is that steel-cut oats are perfect for reheating – seriously, good as new! We can cook up a mega-batch, refrigerate, and supply our healthy breakfast habits for a whole week.

Of course, no man can breakfast on porridge alone… sometimes the occasion* calls for pancakes. Back when I used to buy rolled oats on the regular, I hardly ever made a batch of pancakes without throwing a couple handfuls of oats into the batter. But now that my pantry is stocked with steel-cut (which I feared could break my teeth if given the same treatment), the oat pancake fix called for some creativity.

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On Cooking

why to cook

If you’re one of my regular readers, today you may feel a “preaching to the choir” kind of situation. The bulk of my content revolves around home cooking, the best ways to enjoy it, and how to use the skills to our advantage. A big segment of my audience spends their time away from the kitchen daydreaming about their next chance to pull out the chopping board, and I identify with that sentiment.

But not everyone feels this way about cooking. Whether you hate to cook, consider yourself a “bad cook,” or simply find making time to cook too often overwhelming,  my recipes alone aren’t going to be enough motivation to brave the kitchen (however tantalizing they may be!!). If you find yourself in any of these positions, do yourself a favor and take a moment to read today’s post about why I think cooking more for yourself at home could be the #1 most significant way to improve the quality of what you eat.

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