Category Archives: Sides

Sauteed Shredded Brussels Sprout Salad

Sauteed Shredded Brussels Sprout Salad with Toasted Almonds & Pomegranate Seeds

I feel like I’ve been gone for so long and yet I’ve gone absolutely nowhere at all. I’ve been here, working hard.

With Robert’s crazy-long hours at work this time of year, I often revert back to my single gal meals. Soup, soup, and more soup. These gluten-free waffles, a fried egg (he’s not a fan of breakfast for dinner so I eat it a lot when he’s not around), and green juice. Roasted salmon and sweet potato. Not exactly exciting.

BUT. This salad got me excited about experimenting in the kitchen all over again. It came at a time when I had had it with soft food. I have eaten all of the soups, stews, and slow cooker meals I can possibly handle for a good, long while. I just can’t take it any more. I want light, crisp, and juicy! Food that requires molars!

The only problem? It’s still not warm enough to feel satisfied on raw veggies. That’s why this salad was exactly what I needed. The shredded brussels are sautéed, but still maintain a bit of crunch. Toasted almonds? More crunch. Pomegranate seeds? Crunchy and juicy. I made this salad with my absolute favorite vinegar that I discovered on our honeymoonFustini’s fig balsamic vinegar. I’ve gone through two big bottles since September and find a way to put it on everything. However, I’ve also made this salad with regular balsamic vinegar and it’s still totally delish.

I haven’t made an all Trader Joe’s recipe in a while and this is definitely one (not to worry– you can still find all of the ingredients even if you don’t live near a TJ’s.)  I love the packages of pre-shredded brussels sprouts and pomegranate seeds, which make this a super-quick,  superfood-packed easy weeknight (or any night) salad.

Shredded Brussels Sprout Salad with Toasted Almonds & Pomegranate Seeds

Sauteed Shredded Brussels Sprout Salad

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 10 oz shredded brussels sprouts (about 3 cups)
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 Tbsp fig balsamic vinegar or regular balsamic vinegar (feel free to taste & add more as you like)
  • 1/3 cup raw slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds

Preparation:

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat. Add shallot and sautee about 1 minute. Add brussels sprouts, season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 5 to 7 minutes, until leaves turn bright green and are slightly softened. Add vinegar and toss to coat. Remove brussels sprouts to a bowl. Allow them to cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Add almonds and pomegranate seeds.

Cranberry Orange Salsa

Cranberry Orange SalsaIf you’re like me then you sat down to your Thanksgiving feast, dove into the cranberry sauce and asked yourself, “Why on earth do we eat this goodness just one day a year?” Well, you don’t have to! Especially with this delicious variation I made that works with practically anything. Roast turkey? Sure does. But also: baked chicken, fish, roast pork, and definitely by the spoonful. It’s the ultimate (healthy) sweet to complement your savory.

I’m a huge fan of salsas all summer long like pineapple and peach, and this cranberry orange salsa is their wintertime counterpart. (Clearly I love the cranberry orange combo.) There are just a few ingredients: pulverized cranberries, orange zest and chopped segments, a tiny bit of red onion, and fresh mint. Yum. Whether you’re prepping menus for the next flood of holidays (hello Christmas and New Years…I can’t believe they’re almost here) or are looking for something to brighten up a wintery weekday evening this salsa aims to please.

Cranberry Orange Salsa

Ingredients

  • 20 oz fresh cranberries (or frozen and thawed)
  • 3 navel oranges
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup minced red onion (about 1/4 of a big red onion)
  • 3-4 Tbsp fresh mint (or more), chopped

Preparation

Pulse cranberries in food processor or blender (I used the Vitamix) until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a bowl. Zest 1 orange directly into bowl. Peel all 3 oranges so there’s no white pith. Using a sharp knife, cut between membranes and chop orange segments into small pieces. Add to cranberries. Add sugar, red onion, and mint. Stir to combine. Taste and make any adjustments such as adding more mint, if desired.

Adapted from Bon Appetit 

Creamy Coconut Brown Rice & Edamame

creamy brown coconut rice with edamame

creamy coconut brown rice with edamame

Oh man I needed this kitchen success more than words could possibly say. Finally, after a streak of several kitchen flops something delicious (besides chocolate chip cookies) came out of my kitchen. I can’t say for sure the streak is over because the other components of this meal–red curry salmon and stir-fried bok choy–had a few flaws I’m still working out.

But this rice, oh this rice, is so ready for you to try. I didn’t even realize anything special was happening until I tasted it and proceeded to eat the rice straight out of the pan with a giant spoon. It’s so creamy! Add just the right amount of sea salt  (a generous sprinkle) and the subtle coconut flavor comes through even more. Then there’s the edamame, which gives the dish a variety in texture that takes it beyond your basic side of brown rice. I could eat this all day every day and I’m pretty sure it could be paired with just about any kind of protein you like. Although the rice comes out perfectly smooth, delicious, and flavorful I definitely suggest drizzling just a little bit of soy sauce right before serving for that final BAM your palate craves.

It’s simple, sure, but a great way to elevate brown rice for more variety in your daily grain repertoire.

Creamy Coconut Brown Rice with Edamame

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 cup long grain brown rice

1 cup light coconut milk

1 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 cups frozen shelled edamame

sea salt

soy sauce

Preparation

Combine brown rice, coconut milk, and water in a pot. Heat over high heat until boiling. Cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook 35-45 minutes until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, keep covered, and set aside for 5-10 minutes.

While the rice cooks, in a separate pot heat about 3 to 4 cups of water over high heat until boiling. Add frozen shelled edamame and cook 5-8 minutes until edamame is heated through. Drain and set aside.

After rice rests, add edamame and stir to combine. Sprinkle sea salt to taste. Right before serving, drizzle with some soy sauce.

Spiced Tilapia, Pineapple Salsa, and Brown Jasmine Coconut Rice

Do you ever have one of those weeks? One of those weeks where, for absolutely no reason at all, you seem to dwell more in your head than in your heart? I try to do everything I can to keep those weeks to a minimum, but last week….last week was one of those weeks. The thing I’ve learned about those weeks is you’re the only person on the planet who can bring yourself back into balance. So you have to dig deep into your arsenal of those things that make you feel like you even if it means reaching for every single tool you have. Eventually one will do the trick.

See that dinner above? That’s the one that did the trick. Although it was totally delicious that was just a bonus. A side effect of my pleasure. What truly did the trick was cutting the pineapple into tiny pieces, squeezing the last bit of juice from the perfect little limes, experimenting with simmering brown jasmine rice in coconut milk (a creamy, tropical-tasting success!), and getting lost in the stories of country crooners pouring from the speakers throughout our apartment.

I don’t know why and I don’t know how it worked. I just know that by the time I sat down to dinner it just did. My heart felt a little lighter. The room seemed a little brighter. And everything tasted a little sweeter.

I’m absolutely certain that this meal will bring you whatever you need. For some that may be dinner and for others it may be something more. I can also guarantee that even if the Sugarland Pandora station isn’t your thing it will still taste just as good : )

Spiced Tilapia with Pineapple Salsa
Serves 2

Ingredients 
1 pineapple, skin removed and flesh cut into small bite-sized chunks
1 red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, chopped
1 jalapeno, ribs removed, chopped, and keep as many seeds as you want for heat
1/2 cup cilantro, minced
1/2 red onion, chopped
Juice of 2 limes
Sprinkle of salt to taste
4 tilapia filets
Olive oil
Caribbean seasoning (my favorite is 365 Caribbean Barbecue Seasoning from Whole Foods)

Preparation
To make the pineapple salsa, combine ingredients pineapple through salt in a bowl. Mix with a spoon. Set aside.

For the fish, heat a pan on medium heat. Pat tilapia filets dry with a paper towel, brush one side of each filet with olive oil, sprinkle with seasoning. When pan is hot, place fish in pan seasoned side down. Brush the other side with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning. Cook two to three minutes, flip, and cook two to three minutes on the other side until fish is cooked through and flakes easily. Serve with pineapple salsa.

Brown Jasmine Coconut rice
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 cup brown jasmine rice
1 cup light coconut milk
1 cup water

Preparation
Combine rice, coconut milk, and water in a pot. Bring to a boil. Stir, cover, and simmer for about 40 minutes until liquid is absorbed.

Peach Salsa

Walk into any farmers market, produce store, or supermarket and it quickly becomes clear that stone fruit–especially peaches–are having a moment. Last weekend we stocked up at a farm stand on our way home from a trip to Michigan and this weekend we bought about a dozen softball-sized peaches at the Green City Market here in Chicago. Even before unloading our bags I knew that some of our bounty was destined to become peach salsa.

I had never made peach salsa before, but I’m a huge fan of homemade mango salsa and I knew this would be just as good. (Funny side note: Salmon with mango salsa is the first thing I ever cooked for Robert. It was also the first time I ever made mango salsa, which happened to be in January…with rock-hard, flavorless mangos. Perhaps I should’ve known then and there that it was the beginning of a lifetime in which he’d happily eat both my cooking successes as well as my flops. I’m sure the homemade margaritas didn’t hurt either….)

But this isn’t about mangos in the winter, it’s about fresh, juicy peaches in the summer! Is there anything more perfect? 

We ate the salsa alongside pan-seared salmon (that technique never disappoints) and raw baby spinach. Of course, I’d be lying to you if I told you I ate it as seen in the photo above. No ma’am. My plate looked like this: 

You know how I love a big bowl of food. Meanwhile, Robert’s peach salsa feast looked like this:

Just keeping it real around here.

Of course, you can serve the peach salsa countless different ways–on top of chicken, shrimp, tacos, or scooped up in a crispy tortilla chip. In other words, what are you waiting for?

Peach Salsa

Ingredients
3 ripe peaches, pits removed, cut into bite-sized pieces
3/4 of a red onion, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 garlic clove, minced
Juice of 1 lime
Sprinkle of sea salt

Preparation
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Taste and adjust any quantities as desired.

Source: Eat, Live, Run

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

In psychology, there’s a mental state known as flow. You’ve probably experienced it before. Flow occurs when you’re completely immersed in the moment, your mind and body are engaged on the same task, and you lose all sense of time. As a yogi, you’d think this would be a familiar state for me, but that’s not always the case. In yoga, I’m often so focused on my alignment and movements–making minor adjustments as I transition from one pose to the next–that it’s difficult to let myself go completely. But recently, I’ve been able to find my flow with increasing regularity while cooking in the kitchen. This dish is a perfect example.

This weekend Robert and I joined friends for picnics at Ravinia (an outdoor concert venue just outside of Chicago), both Friday and Saturday night. I decided to make one big picnic to last throughout the weekend. Not to get all Martha Stewart on you here (trust me, I’m the furthest thing from Ms. Stewart), but I like to choose a theme for my picnics to help me narrow down my food choices and ensure they’ll go together. (Otherwise who knows what will happen!) While talking to my mom last week, she reminded me that last year I made a French-themed picnic and then Robert and I went to France earlier this year. “So choose where you want to go next,” she joked. Done: The Mediterranean. Greece, Spain, Italy–I’m not picky. From there, the pieces fell into place and I spent one night late last week simultaneously putting together several items for the picnic including this chickpea salad (more recipes to come this week).

The thing is, I don’t remember making it. (And no, I wasn’t drinking : ) ) I know it sounds bizarre, but that’s how I know I was in the flow. Juggling different recipes at the same time and allowing myself to focus fully on what I was doing meant the experience imprinted in my mind more as a feeling of fluidity than a distinct memory. The cool thing about flow is the more skilled you become at performing a certain task (such as playing an instrument or running) the easier it becomes to find your flow. I still have so much to learn when it comes to cooking, but it’s really neat to notice how in just two years I’ve gone from being clunky and awkward in the kitchen to perhaps a little graceful at times. Sure, there are still plenty of spilled things, the occasional (small) fire, and full-out flops. But when the stars align and I put all of my attention on what I’m doing, the success of the experience can be even more fulfilling than the final product. (Although this recipe did not disappoint.)

Although I may not remember chopping the mint or slicing the scallions, I definitely remember eating this light, yet satisfying salad at our picnics. I’d also suggest making it as a great summertime lunch–especially with the fresh parsley, mint and basil–or served alongside some lemony grilled fish.

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

Ingredients
8-10 scallions, white and green parts, sliced thinly
1 pound grape or cherry tomatoes, diced
1 hothouse or Persian cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 can (12 to 16 oz) of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Juice of 4 lemons
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper
Feta cheese

Preparation
Combine the scallions, tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas, parsley, mint, and basil in a large bowl and toss.

Whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil in a bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with feta. Serve with pita chips.

Source: Barefoot Contessa How Easy is That? 

Curried Couscous with Dried Cranberries

Need a super easy side dish to bring to a BBQ? I’ve got your answer right here. I promise it looks and sounds way fancier than it actually is. My recipe changes slightly every time I make this depending on the ingredients I have in my kitchen, which means it’s easy to adapt. In fact, the original recipe calls for parsley, but I had a huge bunch of cilantro so I used that instead. And you know what? I think I liked it even better. (Of course, you crazy cilantro haters feel free to sub in parsley. It’s delicious, too.) The other fab thing about this side is it takes no time to prepare. The couscous takes about five minutes to cook and you can accomplish almost every other step while you wait.

I brought this to a BBQ last weekend to celebrate one of my sweet yoga friends, Megan, who’s moving to D.C. this week. She’s super awesome, stylish, and talented (need proof? check out her paperie company Ruby the Fox). We’re all going to miss her so much. Isn’t it funny how, as an adult, you don’t make new friends very often? It’s not like when you were a kid and the girl on the swing next to yours instantly became your BFF. I didn’t realize this was the case until I started yoga teacher training earlier this year and met so many wonderful new people. Many of us have become super close and I know we’ll be in each other’s lives for a long time to come (even those moving to the east coast…tear.) When I walked into that first day of Teacher Training in January I was overwhelmed by the number of faces I saw in there. How would I ever get to know them all? Now, looking back, it’s hard to believe these people were ever strangers because we’ve become one big yoga family. I always know no matter which CorePower studio I go to and what time of day I go, I’m going to see someone I know and adore. As if I didn’t already love yoga enough this gives me even more reason to come back to my mat day after day. So here’s to all of my fabulous new friends: Thank you so much for sharing this amazing journey together. I can’t wait to see what the next chapter holds for each of us.

And just for fun here are some pics from the party (Melissa, thank you so much for hosting!)

Melissa, Me, Michelle, and Megan

Megan & Melissa

Katherine, Julia, Me, Kristen, Michelle

The gang : )

I almost forgot to include the recipe!

Curried Couscous with Cranberries

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups couscous

1/4 cup plain yogurt (plain Greek yogurt works, too)

1/4 olive oil

1 tsp white wine vinegar

1 tsp curry powder

1/4 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

1 carrot peeled and shredded

1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro

1/2 cup dried cranberries

2 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)

1/4 cup blanched, sliced almonds

1/2 red onion, diced

Preparation

Boil 1 1/2 cups of water. Remove from heat, add couscous, cover and allow couscous to absorb all of the fluid–about 5 minutes. Once cooked, fluff with a fork.

In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, vinegar, curry, turmeric, salt and pepper. Pour over couscous and mix well until couscous turns bright yellow color. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa