Lentil Dal with Spinach and Carrots {healthy recipe}

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When I was kid, my parents didn’t sneak vegetables into my meals, per se.  (Though, my step mom did occasionally “hide” Brussels sprouts under a blanket of Velveeta cheese.)  Rather, it seemed like they picked the vegetables they knew the kids would eat.  BROCCOLI.  POTATOES.  POTATOES.  POTATOES.  This worked out well for me, because as a kid I hated most cooked vegetables, including green peppers, tomatoes, and CARROTS.  Oh, how I loathed the mushy cooked carrot.

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This dal recipe has three cups of minced carrots and ten ounces (two regular-sized bags) of spinach (or more, if you like).  While the spinach is discernible, the carrots blend right in with the lentils and you forget they’re even there.  Hallelujah.  This lentil dal is a very healthy dish, yet hearty and satisfying.  I’ve made if many times over the last several months, and finally made the effort to write down the ingredients on the last batch.  This recipe is forgiving — add as little or as much of the seasonings as you like.  Extra veggies always welcome.

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Broccoli, Leek, & Potato Soup {vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, whole30 recipe}

I wrote this Broccoli, Leek, & Potato Soup post as part of a series for Tasteful Selections Potatoes, which is sponsoring Katie’s Krops, an awesome hunger-focused nonprofit fueled by kid-run gardens, through January 2016 (details below).  

This January, I’ve committed to refocusing on healthy living.  Just like the rest of humanity.  Sure it’s cliché, but in my mind New Year’s Day is like hitting the “reset” button on the Nintendo.  While I’m normally pretty health-focused, things got a little crazy last year (as they do every year), and I’m thankful for this month to refresh.  At this time last year, I was timidly beginning my first Whole30–a nutritional reset program focused on super clean eating for thirty days–and I’m doing the same this year.  When I mention the Whole30 in conversation, I often get concerned looks and questions of “wait… what the heck do you eat?”  In a nutshell, the Whole30 rules out grains, sugar, beans, soy, dairy, unnatural ingredients, and booze.  Which leaves us with protein, fats, and veggies.  Lots and lots of veggies.

Broccoli, Leek, & Potato Soup Recipe {vegan, gluten free, whole30}

(bowls by JMNPottery)

The secret to a successful Whole30 (or any clean-eating program, for that matter) is planning, and my plan includes batch cooking tons of vegetables each week.  This week, for example, I sautéed an entire head cabbage, roasted three pounds of brussels sprouts, sautéed three bell peppers and two onions, bought a giant container of baby spinach to toss in EVERYTHING, and made this hearty Broccoli, Leek, and Potato Soup.  More vegetables than a vegetarian, as they say.

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Easy as Potato Pie {vegetarian & gluten free recipe}

I wrote this Potato Pie post as part of a series for Tasteful Selections Potatoes, which is sponsoring Katie’s Krops, an awesome hunger-focused nonprofit fueled by kid-run gardens, through January 2016 (details below). 

There’s something simultaneously romantic and nostalgic about gathering for a meal while you’re still in your PJ’s.  And with all the eggs, potatoes, cheese, and bread, breakfast is the clearcut best meal of the day.  The problem with breakfast, though, is that most of us are too tired or too hungry to throw together a hearty meal first thing in the morning.  Oftentimes, I circumvent this issue by having a pre-breakfast snack.  Which, since I’m already starving, ends up being the equivalent of a normal-sized breakfast, and ultimately results in me eating two meals worth of food.  And then I have to go for a run when I really just want to curl up on the couch and drink my coffee dangit.

Kale & Onion Potato Pie

Easy breakfasts are key.  I call this easy recipe “Potato Pie” because it has lots of potatoes and it’s shaped like… a pie.  The concept here is simple:  thinly sliced potatoes, eggs, and whatever vegetables or leftovers you have on hand.  Use of a food processor makes quick work of the potato slicing, and using thin-skinned baby potatoes means no peeling is required.  I prepared this version of potato pie with kale, but there are lots of options.  Broccoli, squash, or mushrooms?  Perfect.  Cheese is always welcome.  To keep things light, I used a mix of whole eggs and egg whites, but if you aren’t on the egg white train, just use a dozen eggs.

The key to making a good potato pie is making sure the fillings taste great on their own.  Season them until they’re good enough to eat solo. Then be sure to season the eggs before you combine them with the potato mixture.

potato pie {gluten free vegetarian breakfast recipe via FerventFoodie.com}

Few things beat sharing breakfast with your loved ones, buy you can add a little more love to your meal by purchasing Tasteful Selections potatoes.  Through January 2016, Tasteful Selections is sponsoring Katie’s Krops, a non-profit organization that donates crops from youth-run gardens to help feed people in need by donating a portion of the profits from specially marked bags of Tasteful Selections’ Ruby Sensation and Honey Gold Potatoes.  So pick up a sack of their potatoes and give this Kale and Onion Potato Pie recipe a try!  If you’re interested in learning more about Katie’s Krops, check out this video.

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German Potato Salad {vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free recipe}

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I wrote this post as part of a series for Tasteful Selections Potatoes, which is sponsoring Katie’s Krops through January 2016 (details below). Thanks, Tasteful Selections, for sponsoring this post and for growing the adorable baby potatoes I used in this German Potato Salad recipe.

In my family, potato salad is a big freaking deal.  My Grandma June has been making her family-famous potato salad since before I was born–it’s been at every family dinner or cookout I can remember, just a bowling-ball-sized mountain of potatoes, green pepper, celery seed, and Hellmann’s mayonnaise.  Last Thanksgiving, I asked Grandma June where she originally found the recipe, but she couldn’t remember—she said she made it once back in the seventies, and it tasted good, so she just kept on making it.  And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how legends are born.  One time, my stepmom made Grandma’s recipe using Miracle Whip instead of Hellman’s, and the family was absolutely horrified.  NO ONE ate it, and she never attempted Grandma’s potato salad again.  Then, a few years ago, Grandma June passed the torch and transitioned potato salad making duty to my sister, Jenny.  Lucky girl.

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2 Easy Grilled Vegetarian Sides {recipe}

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If you caught my last recipe post, you already know I’ve been tricking myself to eat fish by throwing it in a taco and adding excessive toppings, like a parent hiding veggies in their kid’s mac and cheese.  It’s sad but true.  Of course, grilling fish makes it a little more palatable, plus nothing beats grilling in the summer (even if it is fish…).  Fresh.  Fast.  Flavorful.  And so darn pretty.

grilled corn

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Blackened Fish Tacos with Carolina Peach Salsa

Blackened Fish Tacos with Peach Salsa

I’ve been trying to learn to like fish ever since my dad brought home walleye cheeks that first time, fresh from Lake Erie, and my sisters oohed and aahed over how delicious they were.  I wanted in.  I desperately wanted to like fish.  Every bite though… just left something lacking.  It’s the texture that gets me, I think.  And the fishy taste.  So basically, I dislike every aspect of fish.  Except, of course, for the fact that it’s good for you.  So, in an effort to trick myself into liking fish, I’ve been making fish tacos all the time.  They’re super simple to throw together, and if you add enough toppings, you can’t even taste the fish.  I’ll consider that a WIN.

Blackened Fish Tacos with Peach Salsa


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As seen on WBTV: Three Awesome Sausage Toppers {recipe}

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Did you catch me talking sausage toppings on WBTV this morning?  Check out the video link below!

Here we are, in the height of backyard barbecue season, with literally dozens of ketchup and mustard covered hot dogs under our belts, and I.am.bored.  Don’t get me wrong, I love that classic combo, but sometimes I crave to shake things up a bit.  Get a little spicy, a little saucy, a little something like THIS:

Sausage toppings

TOPPING REMIX #1:  a Mexican-inspired sandwich using Johnsonville Chorizo Sausage  topped with some of my homemade guacamole and fresh pico de gallo.  Incredible flavor, practically impossible to eat just one.

TOPPING REMIX #2:  a Johnsonville Turkey Sausage with Cheddar topped with barbecue sauce and a simple lightened up slaw.  Hearty and healthified without sacrificing a pants size.

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Chinese Porterhouse Pork Chops {recipe}

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Growing up, pork chops were one of my least favorite family dinners.   Coated in Shake n Bake and cooked, and cooked until they were so firm a steak knife would bow as you sawed through them, it was one of the few meals I wouldn’t fight my brother for seconds on.  They ranked only slightly higher than hobo dinners, yet, just like those horrid foil packets of sliced kielbasa and mushy vegetables I dreaded, the chops required a vat of Ranch dressing to make them swallowable.   Of course, this was before the USDA revised the temperature guidelines for cooking pork.  The new rule-of-thumb is 145 degrees and 3 minutes resting time, which results in one juicy, tender chop.  Voilà:

hoisin pork chop 2

Speaking of revisions, did you know pork cuts recently underwent a renaming process?  I had no idea, until I started searching for this month’s North Carolina Pork Council Blog Network featured cut of pork:  the Porterhouse Chop, formerly known as the pork loin chop.  I found this handy reference image on the Pork Be Inspired website:

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For these chops, I was shooting for big, bold flavors and juicy meat — something a wee bit crazy to put the chops of my childhood to shame.

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Kale Caesar Salad with Pan-Seared Shrimp

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Back in 2010, I made a personal vow to focus on healthy eating (read all about it here). This was a challenge for me, the girl who considers bread, brie, and wine a square meal, so I started with small things, like packing a homemade lunch each day, instead of relying on Lean Cuisines and fast food. Slowly, I established a routine of making healthy choices whenever I was the one in control of the preparation (well, MOST of the time, anyway), which lets me enjoy eating at restaurants without worrying quite so much about all the salt and the butter and delightful carbohydrates I’m consuming.

One of my healthy eating goals for 2014 is to incorporate more kale into my diet, as part of the Kale Up campaign.  Kale is a green I’ve shied away from in the past, other than occasionally tossing a few handfuls into a nice bean soup. Kale is a very hearty green — you don’t have to worry about it going limp or getting soggy. I often find kale salads are even better when the kale has a bit of time to “marinate” in the dressing.

kale Caesar salad with shrimp

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Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Crumbled Goat Cheese and Blistered Tomatoes {recipe}

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Ohhhh pork.  How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.

Barbecue.

Tenderloin.

Barbecue.

Barbecue.

Wait.  Did I mention barbecue?

Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Crumbled Goat Cheese and Blistered Tomatoes 4

Seriously, though.  Pork tenderloin is a super simple, oober delicious and versatile cut of meat.  My all-time favorite tenderloin recipe is my Sweet Chili Pork Tenderloin.  Roasting the pork in the oven is so simple (arguably fool-proof), I decided to use the same approach for this recipe, which utilizes some of those sweet summer tomatoes starting to pop up in the markets.

This is the first of five pork recipes I’ll be creating for the North Carolina Pork Council Blogging Network in 2014.  Did you even know there was such a thing?  Admittedly, I did not, but when the Pork Council comes a knockin on your inbox,  you say YES, PLEASE.

Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Crumbled Goat Cheese and Blistered Tomatoes

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