Golden Greens

With exotic Indian flavors and a wealth of nutritious benefits, I’ve really struck gold with these dark leafy greens. In this deceptively simple recipe, fresh kale is gently wilted in a savory base of onions, garlic, and garam masala, brightened with a golden turmeric-ginger broth, and studded with plump golden raisins.

I’ve mentioned before that I like my greens a little sweet and sour; so when my food brain started cooking up the idea for an Indian-inspired recipe, I immediately craved chutney. I understand that in India, “chutney” can refer to any number of different condiments in different regions, but what I had in mind was the anglo-influenced variety: a flavorful preserve contrasting savory onions and spices with sweet fruit, made tart with vinegar. This recipe doesn’t require you to have a jar on hand, but echoes the same flavors with a combination of fresh ingredients and pantry staples.

So, what makes these simple greens such a nutritional goldmine? Not only is this dish full of vitamins and minerals, fiber and phytonutrients like any old bowl of kale; it’s also enhanced with a powerful arsenal of culinary herbal medicine. Garlic, ginger, and turmeric don’t just bring bold flavors to the dish – they’re also rich in a wide range of anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting and cancer-fighting compounds.

The photo above features green curly kale, but any of your favorite hearty greens can be substituted: collards, Swiss chard, even beet greens.

Eat it over brown rice or quinoa for a light meal, or complement it with a protein like tandoori chicken or tofu. This dish is also a good accompaniment for fans of the frozen Indian food section at Trader Joe’s! Their frozen curries and naan can make a decent meal on a busy night, but you can really upgrade your dinner with just a touch of home cooking – adding a quick fresh vegetable like this will bring the plate to life.

Golden Greens

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: Serves 4 as a side, or 2 as a main dish

Golden Greens

1 tsp. coconut or olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 tsp. garam masala
1/2 cup vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 inch fresh ginger, grated (about 1/2 tsp)
1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
1 bunch of leafy greens (kale, chard, collards, etc.); tough stems removed and roughly chopped
1 pinch salt
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, for about 3-4 minutes until it begins to soften and turn translucent. Stir in the garlic, golden raisins and garam masala, and cook for another minute until fragrant. Mix the ginger and turmeric into the broth, and add it to the pan along with the greens. Toss to combine, and allow to cook until the greens are wilted. Season with salt and apple cider vinegar before serving.

https://flavorrd.com/2016/02/golden-greens/

[Instant Pot] Creamy Coconut Steel-Cut Oats

Resolving to Eat Better this year? Me too, but I’m not just talking about nutrition… I’m also always looking for new and exciting ways to ENJOY IT. That’s why I make this kind of food: wholesome, real ingredients coming together to make something indulgently nourishing for your “most important meal of the day.” It’s simple, but special. It’s rich, but still provides legit nutrition. And as a bonus, it will warm you to the bones not only by virtue of being a hearty porridge, but also by briefly relieving your winter weather woes with a mental tropical vacation.

So, what makes these oats so nutritious and filling? The winning combination of whole grains and coconut deliver fiber, complex carbs and a healthy dose of fat that provide lasting energy to fill you up and truly satisfy.

You can cook this on the stove, in a rice cooker, or a slow cooker, but I choose my pressure cooker. It couldn’t get much faster or simpler!

[Instant Pot] Creamy Coconut Steel Cut Oats

The secret to this recipe is the first step, toasting the oats and coconut, which enhances the nutty flavor in both ingredients (it’s easy as pie with Instant Pot’s saute function). Be sure to reserve some toasty coconut to use as a topping before dumping in the rest of the ingredients and locking down for pressure cooking.

You’ll open the lid to find some flawless oats: lightly sweetened and heavily fragranced with coconutty aroma. The flecks of toasted coconut offer a satisfying chew, while the coconut milk makes it extra rich and creamy. Top with fruit (fresh or dried), a drizzle of the coconut milk that’s leftover in the can, and an extra sprinkle of toasty coconut flakes.

Aside from everyday eats, keep this recipe in mind when you have a home full of house-guests. Throw together a double batch, set up a toppings station, leave the steamy pot on keep-warm mode and allow your waking visitors to self-serve at their leisure. Oatmeal doesn’t normally garner oohs and ahhs… but this recipe is special enough to hold its own!

Steel-Cut Oat Pancakes

Leftover oats? You’re in luck – save a cup to whip up a batch of my #1 favorite pancakes. Imagine how good they’ll be infused with coconut!!

My Top 5 Weekday Breakfasts On-the-Go

Looking for more healthy breakfast inspiration? Get some fresh, practical ideas from my post on My Top 5 On-The-Go Weekday Breakfasts.

Loving your new pressure cooker? You can find the rest of my Instant Pot recipes here.

[Instant Pot] Creamy Coconut Steel-Cut Oats

Below is my pressure-cooker adaptation of this recipe from Shutterbean. If you’d rather use a rice cooker or the stovetop, use her instructions instead. If using a slow cooker, start the night before you plan to serve. Add an extra cup of liquid (your choice – either more water, coconut milk, or another liquid like almond milk), and cook overnight on the ‘low’ setting.

Serves 4. 

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes[Instant Pot] Creamy Coconut Steel Cut Oats
1 cup steel cut oats
1 cup coconut milk, plus additional for topping (I use full-fat canned coconut milk, but you can substitute lighter varieties if desired)
2 cups water
1 pinch salt
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick or 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon (optional)

Begin by toasting the coconut: add the dry coconut to the pressure cooker to cook over medium heat (with Instant Pot, press the ‘Saute’ button to begin cooking at medium saute heat). Stir frequently, and watch closely to avoid burning. When the coconut begins to lightly brown, remove half to set aside for the topping, and add the steel-cut oats to toast as well. Cook the oats and coconut for a few more minutes, until both are fragrant. Then add 1 cup coconut milk (reserve the remainder for topping) and the rest of the ingredients. Stir to combine, then cook under high pressure for 2 minutes (with Instant Pot, press ‘Cancel’ to stop saute mode, then close the lid and press ‘Manual’ to select 2 minutes).

When the cooking time is complete, allow 10 minutes for a natural pressure release before opening the valve and lid. Serve warm, topped with a drizzle of coconut milk, a spoonful of toasted coconut, and any other desired toppings.

 

Instant Pot Recipe Index

Avocado Fudgesicles

This summer, I’ve had two recipe-testing obsessions. The first involves whole-grain sourdough pizza crust*, and although it satisfies my endless curiosities into both bread baking and home fermentation, it also makes me feel like a crazy person every time I insist on turning on my oven. The other fixation is much more seasonally reasonable: the quest for the perfect healthy fudgesicle.

I’ve been dreaming of a deeply dark chocolate pop, lightly sweetened, and I had my heart set on achieving a rich and creamy texture from nutrient-dense avocado. I also set high standards for a classic fudge flavor (ie. I didn’t want this thing to just taste like chocolatey guacamole). It took a few tries to get it just right, but this is it!

Depending on the size of your avocado and the type of dark chocolate you use, this recipe comes out to about 200 calories per serving (with about 13g total fat, 4.5g saturated, and 13 grams of sugar). So it’s a legit dessert – but one that is built from real food ingredients, a dessert that will give you real satisfaction in addition to its richness in nutrients. You can also cut the portion size if you have smaller popsicle molds – my squeeze-pop molds hold about 1/2 cup of liquid.

I wasn’t about to waste my weekend trying to create beautiful images of tubes of brown goo, so you’re stuck with the quick pic above. They may not be photogenic, but they have a lot of good qualities that should convince you to try the recipe: a short list of simple ingredients, healthy fats, antioxidants, limited sugars, fiber (5g per serving!), vegan-friendly, and a super-easy technique that will leave you with plenty of time for summer fun.

*Posts on my new sourdough habit are coming soon! In the meantime, get your fermentation fix on my sourdough pinboard.

**Need more healthy frozen desserts to beat the heat? Try my Fresh Strawberry Frozen Greek Yogurt, or the whimsically named chocolate cookie variant: Joe-Joe Fro-Yo

Avocado Fudgesicles

Avocado Fudgesicles

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

Yield: 4 popsicles

Avocado Fudgesicles

2 oz. dark chocolate (~1/3 cup of chips/chunks)
1 small/medium ripe avocado
1 cup almond milk (or substitute coconut milk)
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 pinch salt

Place the chocolate in a small bowl or measuring cup and gently heat in a microwave (taking it out to stir after each 20 second increment) until smooth. Combine all ingredients in a blender (or attach a mason jar for easy cleanup). The chocolate will re-solidify, but it will still be soft enough to blend. Puree until very smooth and pour the mixture into popsicle molds. Freeze until solid, about 3 hours or more, depending on the size/shape of your molds.

https://flavorrd.com/2015/09/avocado-fudgesicles/

[Instant Pot] Everyday Lentil & Spinach Dal

These days I do most of my recipe-clipping on Pinterest, but I still have a recipe folder on my browser’s bookmarks bar dating back from the days before ‘pinning’ was a household term (shocking, I know). There’s a smattering of links from all corners of the web, but the heart of the collection is a sub-folder marked “Tried and True,” which holds those special recipes that I’ve come back to again and again… the keepers, if you will! Along with the formula behind killer pumpkin garlic knots and the original source inspiring my favorite chili (which has been tweaked and perfected and eventually taken over as Grant’s kitchen specialty), this folder is also home to an unassuming yellow dal bookmarked from Smitten Kitchen. I made this recipe for the first time in college, just starting to dip my toes into Indian cooking, and I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve served it up since then!

This dish has been a dinner staple in my house for a lot of reasons. For one, the recipe is really straightforward, easy enough to commit to memory. It’s also super inexpensive. I do my best to cook with economy and grace, and these tasty lentils make it easy: all of the budget-friendly benefits of dried beans, but with no soaking needed. It’s a hearty vegetarian (easily vegan) source of protein – about 14 grams per serving, before the yogurt garnish. And those healthy legumes are filled out with plenty of vegetables and nutritious spices. I’ve been putting more focus on anti-inflammatory foods in my diet lately, and the turmeric, cumin, coriander, cayenne and garlic in this recipe all offer functional health benefits to reduce inflammation in the body. This is definitely an example of getting your flavor from real food, and this enticing combination is so nutritious that it’s practically medicinal!

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Chimichurri in a Hurry

Flavor. We definitely consider it an essential part of the diet around here, but it’s not often that we talk about its direct relevance to nutrition. After reading a great article by Mark Schatzker last week, I was inspired to take a moment to highlight this underappreciated piece of the human nutrition puzzle.

Shatzker describes flavor as an “ancient chemical language,” which is such a beautifully fitting depiction of the science. “Flavor is the body’s way of identifying important nutrients and remembering what foods they come from.” We have evolved to seek out our favorite flavors, but we’re facing a problem because this synergy between us and our diet has been disrupted by our modern food supply. Factory farming and other questionable contemporary food production techniques yield lackluster products, in both nutrition and flavor. On top of that, a highly profitable industry of food scientists and flavor chemists have stepped in to fill the flavor void, adulterating products with enticing extracts and additives that tempt our senses but that provide none of the benefits that our bodies are craving. Shatzker’s new book, The Dorito Effect, is definitely going on my reading list. The message, which is very consistent with the way we do things around here, is to get your flavor from real food, because it’s what your body really wants.

So how can we put this theory into practice? Today, let’s remember that it doesn’t have to be complicated to craft big flavors from natural ingredients. Serving as a prime example: Chimichurri in a Hurry. Just a handful of the highly flavorful and nutritious compounds in this classic Argentine condiment include antioxidant myristicin from parsley, antimicrobial allicin from garlic, and anti-inflammatory capsaicin from chili peppers. And we get to enjoy all of those whole-food benefits in just a matter of moments thanks to my favorite blender-hack.

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MyPlate Bake #2: Sriracha BBQ Tofu

The MyPlate Bake: Sriracha BBQ Tofu
Ready for take two? In case you missed it last week, this is the second installation of flavorRD’s special feature for National Nutrition Month. Every week in March, we’re biting into a healthy lifestyle with a new balanced recipe inspired by USDA’s MyPlate: the idea is that 1/4 protein + 1/4 carbs + 1/2 veggies = healthy dinnertime success made easy, all on a single sheet pan. This time around, we’re catering to the plant-powered people out there! Whether you’re vegetarian, vegan, or just trying to work in some Meatless Mondays, this spicy sweet garlicky goodness is a full-flavored way to power up your weeknight dinner table.

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[Instant Pot] Pressure-Steamed Artichokes

The artichoke: nature’s finger food.

Au naturale. Simply steamed. Is any other plain vegetable quite so botanically romantic? Maybe it’s the delicately sweet flavor. Maybe it’s because they love cool, salty California air, like I do. Maybe it’s because you’re literally eating a dang flower! Whatever it is, sitting down to share an artichoke is something special.

Unfortunately, the things have a reputation for being a pain to prepare – their tough structures definitely need some cooking before they’re ready to melt in your mouth. On the stove top, you’re looking at upwards of 40 minutes of babysitting the pot, making sure the water level doesn’t boil too low. This is where Instant Pot comes in (affiliate link). With my favorite set-and-forget pressure cooker on hand, the task really isn’t fussy at all.

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[Instant Pot] Vegan Caribbean Coconut Curry

Had a hard week? You need an easy weeknight dinner. Fortunately for us, this one is packed with nutrient dense vegetables and layers of slow-cooked flavors… without the slow-cooking. The veggies all cook quickly, so there’s no advance planning needed. Just a little therapeutic chopping and simmering while you decompress from the challenges of the day, and you can have this wholesome vegan dinner on the table in no time.

If you’re a seasoned Caribbean foodie, please note that I’m not claiming any authenticity. When I dreamed up this stew, I was going for a hearty foundation of powerful plant foods, tempered with tropical coconut milk and some warm spices as my simplified allusion to Jamaican jerk-style seasoning. Authentic cuisine? Not exactly. Super satisfying healthy dinner? Most definitely!

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BBQ Popcorn

After resolving last week to fill out my Recipe Index with more of my favorite quick weeknight dinners, I noticed another woefully empty blog category here at flavorrd: snacks! (!!!)

I’m definitely a snacker. I fully respect mindful eating, but there’s also nothing I love more after a long work week than a fully-stocked Netflix queue and a big bowl of something crunchy. And if you choose the right snack, there’s nothing wrong with that!

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Sweet Chili Tofu Salad

Some people start the day with a crossword puzzle, but my morning mental exercise regimen is a little more practical. It involves staring into the fridge, jumbling together edible odds and ends to fill a lunchbox balanced enough to sustain myself through a day at the office. I’m usually pretty good at this game, so that’s my excuse for not being super organized with meal planning. But the day that I struggled to find a better “protein” than a bag of Trader Joe’s peanut butter pretzels… I knew it was time to get serious.

Last weekend I made a very minimal investment of time and efforts, which yielded big lunchtime results. It started with an idea to attempt a copycat recipe for the sweet chili tofu cubes stocked at the Whole Foods salad bar. For a time I used to live in an apartment right across the street from Whole Foods, and since this was during my busy grad student years, I built a pretty strong affinity for some of their healthy convenience foods. That salad bar saved me for dinner many nights, and those sweet, chewy tofu cubes were always a welcome addition to my leafy greens.

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