Archive of ‘Lunch’ category

Southwest Sweet Potato Stew

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So I am now on my third batch of this stew. I have eaten this for lunch nearly every day for the past month- with a few exceptions here and there. Every time I heat it up in the microwave at work, people say, “Wow. That’s smells delicious! What is that?!” Literally, Every. Single. Time. And the funny thing is, this was a recipe that I threw together on Sunday night as I was rushing to make lunch for the week ahead. I hardly had anything in the house except Thanksgiving-esque remainders like onions and sweet potatoes. I emptied my pantry and found quinoa, tomato paste, a can of coconut milk. At the time, I was becoming tired of the holiday leftovers and wanted something completely different. And thus this smoky Southwest stew was born! (more…)

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Sweet Summertime Quinoa Salad


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It’s Summer!! And you know what that means!!? Picnics and barbecues, pool parties and outdoor events day and night. It also means homemade and store-bought food sitting out in the heat for hours on end. Aside from the health risk of leaving gloppy, mayonnaise-based coleslaw, potato and macaroni salads out in the sun, it is just not very satisfying. After eating a creamy macaroni salad, as delicious as it may be, I feel weighed down…ready for a snooze- not another dip in the pool or a game of frisbee. I want something lighter that will give me not only energy, but great health benefits as well- and why not add a fresh and healthy option without skimping on flavor! That is why I LOVE this quinoa salad!!


Quinoa salad are popping up left and right. Just do a Google search and you’ll be able to find a multitude of options. Why is this? Because word of quinoa’s amazing benefits is spreading fast! Due it their small, round shape, they resemble couscous- and are often mistaken for couscous. However, they could not be more different. Couscous is actually pasta made from Durham wheat flour and water. Many people believe that they are making a healthy choice with couscous, but unfortunately it’s no different than white spaghetti or penne pasta. You might as well go for the macaroni salad! At least you aren’t being fooled with that option.

Quinoa on the other hand, is a seed, and technically not a grain. However, nutritionally it can be considered a WHOLE grain- but it is so much more! These seeds have a bitter exterior, called saponin, that is a natural defense designed to keep insects and birds away without the use of pesticides. For this reason, they must be washed before cooking. Most commercially sold quinoa is pre-washed, however, I like to give them a quick rinse before cooking just for good measure. Quinoa brings power punch of nutrients. To start, it is a complete protein. That means they contain all the essential amino acids that our bodies need but do not produce on its own. There are only a handful of plant-based foods that can say the same. With slowly-digestible complex carbohydrates, it is great for sustaining energy without blood sugar highs and lows. Containing iron, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, B-vitamins, and vitamin E, quinoa is a great source of vitamins and minerals. Because it is a WHOLE grain, toy are also ingesting plenty of fiber to keep you fuller longer, allow your digestive tract to function happily and healthfully, and potentially lower blood cholesterol. Quinoa’s plentiful array of antioxidants make it true contender, and now researchers have found very high levels of certain antioxidants present that may be even greater than some berries. It is naturally a gluten-free food and is thus suitable for those with a gluten sensitivity.

To top off all of this great news, quinoa is very easy to cook! Just bring 2 parts water to a boil, add 1 part quinoa, reduce heat to simmer, cover, and let the magic happen in 25 minutes or less. It can be eaten as a side in place of rice or pasta, as a hot breakfast cereal, as a sweet dessert (like a rice pudding), or cooled and served as a salad like I have made here.


This Quinoa Salad is both sweet and tart. Dried cranberries bring out the sweetness in the honey balsamic vinaigrette, while diced red onions and toasted walnuts add crunch and mixed greens bring a slightly bitter, but light and fresh quality. It is simple to assemble and an easy make-ahead as it only gets better with time.

Sweet Summertime Quinoa Salad


  • 1 cup dry (uncooked) quinoa
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
  • 7 cups Spring Mix salad greens
  • Vinaigrette:
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinaigrette
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


  1. Cook quinoa according to package directions and allow to completely cool.
  2. Add onions, cranberries, and walnuts.
  3. Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients, or pulse in a blender.
  4. Pour over quinoa mixture, and stir to combine.
  5. Add salad greens just before serving. Enjoy!

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BYOL Coconut Curry Soup


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One of the “perks” of working as a clinical dietitian in a hospital is eating in the cafeteria at no charge. Although the wide array of food to choose from is far from healthy, there is a salad bar that is doable. As its reputation suggests, hospital food is not quite gourmet, but it is easy in a pinch. So after all of my pleas to BYOL (bring your own lunch), I myself had fallen into the trap of not bringing my own food every day. I have to admit, it was quite enjoyable not making lunch the night (or weekend) before, or dealing with the burden of preparing the lunchbox in the morning and then actually remembering to take it with me when I left the house. Not to mention the cost savings. So with all of these positives, there is no reason to go back to making my own lunch, right? Wrong- and here is why.

As I said, the healthiest option is the salad bar, and although it is full of color and selection, this selection NEVER changes. It is virtually the same salad every single day. So there I was, with this great opportunity to eat salads everyday for free. However, I quickly began to notice that this may not be so “great” after all.  I was finding that in order to spunk up the salad, I fell into the habit of adding buttery croutons, or wontons, or more than a little cheese, or changing the dressing to a creamier one because oil and vinegar or balsamic vinaigrette just wasn’t doing it for me anymore.

Let me be clear, there is nothing wrong with adding a few croutons here and there, or enjoying a creamy dressing on occasion. My problem began after lunch, when I got back to my office and attempted to return to work. It was near impossible. My brain fog was so thick that I needed to work twice as hard to focus. Every day I felt like I could just close my eyes and take a snooze. It was difficult for me to express my thoughts or use clinical judgment with my patients. I attributed this to not sleeping enough at night. So I made it a point to get to bed earlier to ensure proper sleep. This made no difference. I began drinking coffee in the afternoon in an attempt to regain my consciousness. As you can imagine, hospital coffee is far from hospitable, so of course I needed a little half and half to get it down. This became a daily cycle, until I started thinking about my past experiences at work. I never felt this crappy. Was it the job? Is this just me now that I am almost 30? Do I have chronic fatigue syndrome?! What’s going on here!?!?

It was this after-lunch malaise that forced me to reevaluate my lunchtime habits. I was completely sick of that salad bar anyway, so I decided to go back to my BYOL philosophy. By going to my local farmer’s market and keeping my lunches meat-free, I am able to load up on veggies and not break the bank. This way I don’t feel too bad about giving up my free lunches. As soon as I put the BYOL back into effect, I experienced a night-and-day difference in mental clarity. I had energy to complete the day strong, there was no more mid-afternoon coffee breaks, and I was able to rest assured knowing exactly what was in my lunch. Plus I really enjoy knowing that I am giving my cells the best possible nutrition. I implore you to do the same! photo 1


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I have expressed my love of soups in previous posts. They are such a great way to jam a plethora of vegetables into one bowl. I also love the fact that I can make a big pot on Sunday and have lunches for a week. I can usually even freeze some for those Sundays I don’t have time to hit the farmer’s market. This Coconut Curry Soup is a staple. It is loaded with amazing benefits. The coconut milk provides healthy fats while providing a rich mouth feel.  The curry, ginger, and garlic offer anti-inflammatory effects, while broccoli and onions provide the cancer-preventing punch. Now, rather than eating who-knows-what for lunch, I treat myself to this healthy midday elixir- and I hope you will too!

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BYOL Coconut Curry Soup


  • 1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
  • 2 Medium Onions
  • 2 2-inch Knobs of Ginger, Peeled
  • 6 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 5 Large Carrots, Thinly Sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons (good) Curry Powder
  • 8 Cups Water
  • Salt to Taste (start with 2 teaspoons and add more as you like)
  • Broccoli Florets from 1 Head of Broccoli
  • 2 Cans Light Coconut Milk
  • 6 Scallions, Thinly Sliced
  • ½ Cup Cilantro, Chopped


  1. Sautee onions, whole ginger, garlic, and carrots and curry powder in coconut oil until onions become soft and translucent.
  2. Add water and salt. Bring to a boil until carrots are tender and cooked through (usually about 15 minutes).
  3. Add the broccoli to the boiling soup and allow it to cook for 4 minutes.
  4. Add the coconut milk, scallions, and cilantro until just before the soup comes back up to a boil.
  5. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Remove the whole ginger peices before portioning into smaller lunch containers.
  6. This soup is easily reheated in the microwave. Enjoy!!



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Sweet and Spicy Greens



A new spin on greens…super flavorful, tangy, spicy greens that will tantalize your taste buds. This dish will make you forget you’re eating healthy, let alone collard greens. These greens are so tasty, even my husband will eat them! The secret is adding layers of flavor by way of garlic, ginger, soy sauce and vinegar. They get a serious kick from chili flakes (if you aren’t a fan of spice, then simply back off a little on the red pepper flakes), and a mild sweetness from luscious honey. 20140402-230010.jpg

This dish is pretty simple, even for a weeknight. Much of the bold flavoring comes from a generous amount of immune-boosting garlic and ginger. First, sauté garlic, ginger, and chili flakes until tender. Add the greens and allow to cook until thoroughly wilted. Then add the additional flavoring ingredients: soy, apple cider vinegar, sesame oil, and honey. Cook on medium-high heat allowing liquid to evaporate, while stirring occasionally.

Add a sweet kick to your meal, while getting the goodness of these cruciferous greens. I had mine on a bed of brown rice with a perfectly cooked poached egg. It was absolutely fabulous! Poached egg on top

SIDEBAR: I have to admit that I very recently learned how to make a perfectly poached egg from the Chew’s Clinton Kelly. The Chew is one of my absolute favorite shows. I hoard them on my DVR and usually watch while I’m cooking away in the kitchen. Btw I would totally recommend it to anyone interested in daytime cooking hilarity. Anywho, Clinton revealed the most ridiculously simple method to poaching eggs: Bring a pot of water to boil. Once it boils remove from heat, add egg, and set timer for 6 minutes. Remove the egg after 6 minutes, and voila! You have yourself a perfect little egg. You’re welcome.


Feel free to adjust the heat level of these greens to your liking. The amount of chili flakes in the recipe is for very spicy greens. You may want to halve or quarter the pepper if you are not as fond of the heat. You can remove the chili altogether to create sweet and sour collards. They too will be a smash hit!

Sweet and Spicy Greens


  • 1 lb Collard Greens, Washed and Roughly Chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 6-8 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1- Two Inch Section Ginger, Minced
  • 1 Heaping Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/4 cup Cilantro, Torn
  • 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce or Tamari (Gluten-Free)
  • 2 Tablespoons Apple Cider or Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Honey
  • 1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil


  1. Sauté garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes in olive oil on medium heat until cooked through.
  2. Add collards and allow to wilt until tender, about 5 minutes, while stirring regularly.
  3. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the remaining ingredients. Stir as to not to burn the greens but allow to caramelize.
  4. When most of the liquid has evaporated from the pan, the greens are done. Enjoy!

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Mediterranean Stuffed Collard Greens

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Finished Product 1 The lack of enthusiasm generated from my last post on collard greens made me wonder if it is due to the true unfamiliarity that many have with these large leaves. Being the ever-persistent little bugger that I am, I decided not to throw in the towel in hopes that all will instantly see the magic in collards. I will educate you on the versatility and deliciousness that these greens have to offer. This post kicks off the first of a three part recipe series on collard greens.

I decided to start off with Mediterranean Stuffed Collard Greens because the focus is not necessary on the green itself. The focus is on the delicious filling and rich tomato sauce that smothers each bundle of love. As with most of my more involved recipes, each step is unbelievably simple. So although it may seem like the recipe is complicated, just take it step by step, and you will be amazed with how simple it truly is. Like stuffed grape leaves or stuffed cabbage, these are a labor of love, so take your time and enjoy the process.

Begin with the sauce. Often canned tomatoes have a very acidic “edge” to them, almost bitter really. It is quite common for a chef to add a teaspoon or two of sugar to balance that acidic bite. However, I recommend adding one whole chopped carrot to the sauce at the start. This adds a natural sweetness as well as a nutrient kick, without being detectable by taste. You can process the carrots in the food processor if you don’t want them to be seen by the naked eye. Trust me, no one will ever know. I just roughly chopped these, as I like the chunkiness. A truly delicious sauce needs the most important ingredient: TIME. So let this sauce simmer for at least an hour, and if you aren’t busy, let it go longer.

Sauce Ingredients

The filling is very simple. With brown rice, mushrooms, and beans, it is hearty enough to skip the meat. However, ground turkey or chicken breast and lean ground beef would do well in here. I would just recommend adding some of the tomato sauce to the filling to keep it from getting too dry.

Filling Ingredients

The collards should be washed and blanched for 2-3 minutes in a pot of boiling water. I recommend leaving the stems on, as they become much easier to fish out.

Collards Unwashed

Blanching collards

Once they are cooled, cut the stems out and overlap the cut ends to ensure a sturdy wrap for our filling. Add 3-4 tablespoons of the filling and roll up like a burrito, first folding up the bottom, then folding in the two sides, and finally completing the rollup. I like to have extra leaves to allow for error. If a leaf tears as you are rolling, just insert the whole thing into another leaf. A double leaved rollup is even better!

Placing filling

Place each little soldier in an orderly fashion in a baking dish.

Rolled Collards

Cover with sauce, then foil, and bake for 35-40 minutes.

Rolled collards top view

Topped with sauce

Mediterranean Stuffed Collard Greens

Yield: 8 Stuffed Leaves


  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 4 Cloves Fresh Garlic, Minced
  • 1 Medium Onion, Chopped
  • 1 Large Carrot, Chopped or Minced
  • 1- 28oz Can Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Dried Oregano
  • Handful of Fresh Basil Leaves
  • Filling
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 3 Cloves Fresh Garlic, Minced
  • 1 Can Cannellini Beans, Drained and Rinsed
  • 2 Cups Cooked Brown Rice
  • 6 Large Button or Crimini (Baby Bella) Mushrooms, Chopped
  • ¼ Teaspoon Salt
  • ¼ Teaspoon Pepper
  • 12 Intact Collard Greens, Washed


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.
  2. For the Sauce:
  3. Saute garlic, onion, and carrot in olive oil until tender. Add tomatoes, basil, and spices.
  4. Simmer for a minimum of one hour.
  5. For the filling:
  6. Saute the garlic and mushrooms until tender.
  7. Add the rice, beans, salt and pepper, and sauté until flavors have combined and all ingredients are heated through. Set aside.
  8. Preparing the Collards:
  9. Bring a large pot of water up to a boil. Place the collards in the boiling water for 2-3 minutes, just until they are bright green and pliable.
  10. After removing from water, allow the leaves to cool slightly. Remove the stems from the center by carving them away with a knife.
  11. Completing the Rollups:
  12. Overlap the trimmed ends of the leaf to create a smooth and sturdy wrap. Add 3-4 tablespoons of the filling and roll up like a burrito, first folding up the bottom, then folding in the two sides, and finally completing the rollup.
  13. If the leaf tears halfway through the process, simply insert it into another leaf, allowing for a double-leaved rollup.
  14. Align rollups side by side in a square baking sheet and cover with all of the tomato sauce. Wrap the top with foil and bake for 35-40 minutes.


*If the tomato sauce is still too acidic, you may want to add 1 tablespoon if honey to round out the flavor.

**These stuffed collard greens are delicious served hot or at room temperature. Drizzle with a thin stream of extra virgin olive oil if you so desire, and enjoy!
Finished product 2


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