Curried Tofu Salad

Curry is one of my favorite ingredients to add to creamy salads like this one, and the first curried tofu salad I tasted was at the Good Foods Co-Op in Lexington, KY. After daydreaming about it so much, I had to create my take on the dish, accompanied by plump golden raisins, crunchy almonds and Greek yogurt. Enjoy my Curried Tofu Salad as a wrap with spring lettuce or as a sandwich with whole wheat bread. Offering both bread and lettuce options and a few types of sandwich spreads is an easy way to entertain and delight your guests with a build-your-own option. For the meat eaters in your life, you could substitute chicken for the tofu in this recipe.

Ingredients:
1 (16 ounce) block firm tofu
⅓ cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons curry powder, divided
1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¾ cup shredded carrots
¼ cup sliced almonds

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the block of tofu between a few layers of paper towels and place a heavy plate on top. Set aside for 10 minutes to press and absorb the water from the tofu.
  2. Meanwhile, place raisins in a small bowl. Add enough hot water to cover and set aside.
  3. Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes and place in a medium bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon curry powder, toss to coat and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, flipping with a spatula halfway through the cooking time. Remove tofu from the oven and set aside to cool.
  4. In a large bowl, stir together yogurt, remaining curry powder, salt and pepper. Drain water from raisins and add to the yogurt mixture along with the carrots, almonds and tofu. Stir to evenly coat and serve immediately or store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Servings: 4

Sweet and Salty Peanut Butter Banana Cream

I love the occasional calorie splurge for ice cream, but most often I prefer more nutritious and lighter desserts. My Sweet and Salty Peanut Butter Banana Cream meets my regular sweet tooth criteria, while also delivering a decadent taste. A frozen treat that is reminiscent of peanut butter and vanilla ice cream with chunks of chocolate and bits of pretzels. This kid-friendly recipe is easy and fun to make, but plan in advance because the child in all of us may not want to wait an hour for freezing.

Ingredients:
3 bananas, sliced and frozen
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup peanut butter
⅓ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
⅓ cup chopped pretzels
coconut flakes for serving

Directions:

  1. Combine bananas and vanilla in the bowl of a food processor and puree until smooth and mixture resembles the texture of soft-serve ice cream. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue processing to reach this consistency.
  2. Add peanut butter and pulse gently to combine. Remove peanut butter banana cream and place in a freezer safe container. Stir in chocolate chips and pretzels.
  3. Cover and freeze for an hour. Serve in a cones and bowls and top with coconut flakes.

Servings: 4

From Scratch Turkey Taco Soup

This soup is perfect for those chilly spring days when you want a fun and festive meal. The weather may not be warm enough to grill fajitas, but you can serve up a pitcher of margaritas and invite your friends over for a bowl of my From Scratch Turkey Taco Soup. Don’t let the “from scratch” or long ingredient list make you think this recipe is hard to make. It’s super simple, but instead of using a ranch seasoning packet, you create the flavor with ingredients you most likely already have in your pantry. Turkey and black beans are great lean protein choices for this dish and no-salt added tomatoes and frozen corn make this a low-sodium, heart healthy dish. If you have farm-fresh canned tomatoes or tomato juice on hand, this is a great use for those gems!

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground turkey
1 bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 medium jalapeños, seeded and finely diced
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 (14.5 ounce) cans no salt added diced tomatoes
2 cups frozen corn
1 (14.5 ounce) can no salt added black beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups of tomato juice
3 cups water
shredded cheddar cheese, for serving
light sour cream, for serving
scallions, sliced for serving

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent. Add garlic and cook another minute until fragrant.
  2. Add turkey and cook, breaking up with a spatula. Add bell pepper and jalapeños and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add chili powder, cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, salt and pepper and continue cooking for another minute.
  3. Stir in tomatoes, corn, beans, tomato juice and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Serve with cheese, sour cream and scallions as toppings.

Servings: 6

Seafood and Bean Stew with Pesto

Fish, shrimp, beans and pesto make the most delectable combination in this heavenly bowl of soup that will have you reaching for leftovers. Go ahead, it is comfort food with a conscience packed with three types of lean protein and juicy tomatoes. When basil is in season and my CSA box is full of this aromatic green goodness, I make batches of pesto and freeze tablespoon-size portions using mini-muffin tins. I store them in a freezer-safe container and enjoy during winter months in recipes like this. Don’t have fresh pesto on hand? Store-bought pesto will also work well and taste delicious in this dish.

Ingredients:
2 ounces pancetta, diced
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14 ounce) can no salt added diced tomatoes
4 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons pesto
8 ounces any firm white fish, such as cod or halibut, cut into bite-size cubes
8 ounces peeled and deveined shrimp
1 (15 ounce) can no salt added cannellini beans
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons pesto

Directions:

  1. Heat a large stock pot over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook until brown and crispy, stirring occasionally. Remove pancetta with a slotted spatula and place on a paper towel-lined plate.
  2. Add onion to the stock pot and sauté, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute until fragrant.\
  3. Add the tomatoes and vegetable broth to the stock pot and increase heat to medium high. Bring to a gentle boil.
  4. Reduce heat to medium low and add the fish and seafood to the soup. Cover and simmer for about five minutes.
  5. Remove lid and add beans, pancetta, salt, pepper and pesto to the soup, stirring to combine. Cook for two to three additional minutes and serve.

Servings: 4

Black Bean Hummus Vegetable Wrap

Beans and butternut squash are two of my favorite combinations, and they are bundled up in a whole wheat tortilla along with caramelized onions in my ultimate, comfort-food wrap. Enjoy for a hearty lunch or dinner. Creamy black bean hummus adds lean protein to this vegetarian wrap and also helps hold it all together. My Black Bean Hummus recipe, which you can whip up in less than five minutes, is perfect for this dish. If you want to give new life to your leftovers for a different meal the next day, serve the squash and onions on top of a salad and enjoy the hummus as a side dish with tortilla or pita chips.

Ingredients:
1 small butternut squashed, peeled, seeded and cubed
1½ tablespoon olive oil, divided
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter
2 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sugar
4 whole wheat tortillas
Black Bean Hummus
2 cups tightly packed spinach leaves

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. On a half baking sheet, place butternut squash and drizzle with ½ tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to evenly coat. Arrange squash in a single layer and roast for 30 to 35 minutes until tender and lightly brown, flipping with a spatula halfway through cooking.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat remaining olive oil and butter over medium-low heat. Once butter has melted, add onion slices and sprinkle with sugar. Stirring occasionally, let the onions cook about 20 to 25 minutes, until caramelized and golden brown.
Spread a fourth of the black bean hummus on each tortilla and top with a fourth of the butternut squash and caramelized onions. Add ½ cup spinach to each tortilla, wrap tightly to secure vegetables and serve.

Servings: 4

Black Bean Hummus

Looking for a healthy appetizer you can quickly throw together? Whip up a batch of my Black Bean Hummus in less than five minutes. Keep canned beans in your pantry and garlic and lemon in the fridge to make this a go-to dish when you want a delicious homemade snack. It is so easy to make and tastes much better than the store-bought variety. Serve it with carrot sticks, tortilla chips or whatever you like to dip. Make it a meal by spreading hummus in a wrap or on a slice of bread topped with your favorite roasted vegetables.

Ingredients:
1 (15 ounce) can no salt added black beans
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions:

  1. Rinse and drain beans.
  2. Fit a food processor with the steel blade. Add all ingredients in the food processor and pulse until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and serve.

Servings: 4

Barbecue Pork Nachos

Barbecue nachos are a game day favorite in my hometown of Memphis, Tenn., and they are about as popular as Elvis around my old stomping grounds. For my take on this southern classic, I recommend a tangy and slightly sweet sauce. I keep my pantry well stocked with my favorite barbecue sauces so I am ready for the Football World Series or any good sports event throughout the year. My Slow Cooker Drunken Pork recipe is great for this dish. Making the pork the day before turns this into an 8-minute recipe you can whip up during halftime, if you are willing to miss a few commercials. Cheers to enjoying these nachos with good friends and a frosty beverage as you watch the Battle of the Pigskin.

Ingredients:
4 ounces tortilla chips (about 56 chips)
2 cups pulled pork
½ cup barbecue sauce, divided
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 extra small red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 jalapeño, seeded and sliced
1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and diced

Directions:

  1. Preheat broiler to high. Line one half-sheet baking pan with parchment paper or use a non-stick baking pan.
  2. Arrange tortilla chips across the pan and top with pork. Drizzle half of the barbecue sauce over the pork and chips and top with cheddar cheese, onion slices and jalapeño slices. Drizzle the remaining sauce on top of the nachos.
  3. Broil until heated through and cheese is melted, 5 to 6 minutes. Top with avocado and serve.

Servings: 4

Savory Sweet Potato Muffins with Sausage

Not your traditional muffin, this savory version is packed with mashed sweet potatoes, hearty oats and maple breakfast sausage. Enjoy these warm muffins with a cup of coffee or hot tea to fuel up on a chilly winter morning. Getting an early start to your day? Pair a muffin with a boiled egg for a packable, on-the-go breakfast. Store leftovers in the refrigerator or freeze for up to three months and reheat when ready to serve.

Ingredients:
1¼ cups whole wheat flour
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon mustard powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon white pepper
1½ cups mashed sweet potatoes
2 large eggs
½ cup milk
1 tablespoon maple syrup
½ pound maple breakfast sausage, cooked and drained

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease or line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, oats, baking powder, mustard, salt and pepper.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together mashed sweet potatoes, eggs, milk and maple syrup. Gradually add dry ingredients to the bowl of sweet potato mixture, stirring to combine. Fold in sausage.
  4. Fill muffin cups and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown.

Servings: 12

Scrambled Eggs and Vegetable Panini

Eggs and vegetables are two of my favorite pairings and breakfast is one of my favorite meals, but this sandwich is not only delicious in the morning. It is also perfect for an easy weekend brunch with a Bloody Mary or for a quick dinner on a night when you would rather read a book than spend time in the kitchen. Spinach and swiss chard make great alternatives to kale and shiitake or white button mushrooms work well in place of the portabella. Enjoy your panini however you choose to make it and whatever time of day you decide to savor this meal.

Ingredients:
8 slices whole wheat bread
2 ounces herbed goat cheese
8 ounces baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
1 medium bunch kale, stems removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon salt, divided
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
4 eggs
2 teaspoons butter

Directions:

  1. Heat panini press to medium-high heat. Spread 4 slices of bread with equal amounts of goat cheese and set aside.
  2. Roughly chop kale leaves. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes, until brown and tender. Add kale and water to the skillet and sauté for a couple of minutes, until greens are wilted. Add balsamic vinegar to the sautéed vegetables and cook for another minute. Season with half of the salt and pepper and remove from heat.
  3. Place eggs and remaining salt and pepper in a medium bowl and lightly beat. Melt butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add eggs and scramble.
  4. Place ¼ of scrambled eggs on top of the bread slice with goat cheese. Add ¼ of the kale and mushroom mixture on top of the eggs and top with a slice of bread. Working in batches, place two sandwiches on the panini press and heat for about 5 minutes, until cheese has melted and light brown grill marks appear on the sandwiches. Repeat and serve.

Servings: 4

Italian Vegetable and Lentil Soup

Cold winter nights call for warm bowls of soup and this one is packed with vegetables and lentils and a dash of crispy, salty pancetta. Cooked with a Parmesan rind, this soup captures the sharp and nutty flavors of the cheese in every bite. If you are planning the perfect cozy night at home, enjoy a bowl of this delicious soup with your family and end the night with a mug of hot cocoa and good book by the fire. Cheers to nutritious comfort food and warm evenings at home this winter.

Ingredients:
4 ounces pancetta
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, trimmed and chopped
8 ounces baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
32 ounces low sodium vegetable broth, divided
1 cup lentils (any color)
1 (14.5 ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 Parmesan rind (cut from a wedge of cheese)
5 ounces baby spinach or 1 bunch spinach, chopped
Grated Parmesan cheese for serving

Directions:

  1. In a large stock pot over medium-high heat, cook pancetta until brown and crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove pancetta and place on a paper-towel lined plate. Drain all but about 2 teaspoons of grease from the pot.
  2. Reduce heat to medium and add onion, carrots and celery to the stock pot. Sauté until vegetables are tender and lightly browned, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add mushrooms and 2 tablespoons of vegetable broth to the mixture and sauté until tender and browned, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add lentils, tomatoes with their juices, the remaining vegetable broth, rosemary, bay leaf, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese rind to the stock pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until lentils are tender.
  5. Add spinach and pancetta to the soup and cook for another minute or two, stirring until spinach is wilted. Serve in bowls and top with grated Parmesan cheese.

Servings: 4