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Here is a simple colorful dish that can be eaten cold or at room temp.

You will need:
* 4   ounces soba buckwheat noodles     
* 8 ounces shelled edamame, thawed if frozen
* 4-6 ounces cherry tomatoes, cut in half
* 3 green onions, sliced thinly green & white
* 1 red, yellow or orange bell pepper or a combination chopped into 1/4 inch piece
* 1/4 c soyaki sauce and additional for drizzling  
* 1/4 c of unsalted peanuts chopped   (roasted are better, but if you prefer raw that's OK)
 
         Prep all veggies and set aside along with chopped peanuts and onions.              
         In a pot of boiling water cook edamame for 5 minutes then add soba and cook until tender.  Drain.              
         Toss drained soba and edamame in soyaki sauce in a bowl. Add veggies and stir to coat.
         If room temp is desired garnish with sliced onions and peanuts, drizzle soyaki to taste, serve immediately.
         If cold dish is desired, place covered bowl with mixture in refrigerator for 1 hour up to 2 days.
         Garnish with onions and peanuts and drizzle with soyaki to taste when served.
         Serves 3 with 1-1 1/2 servings of protein and approximately 2 servings of veggies per serving.



 
 
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OK, I know I said that the recipes I post here would be healthy, and the last one was loaded up with cheese...I did say it was a comfort food. Anyway I was feeling guilty,so to make up for it I am posting 2 salad recipes and using a lot less cheese.

 Mediterranean Quinoa Salad


*  2/3cup quinoa, rinsed
*  1 can low sodium chicken or vegetable broth   15 oz
*  1-2 cloves of garlic finely minced 
*  2 medium shallots chopped
*  1-2 large fresh basil leaves, finely chopped and 1-2 whole for garnish
*  1 sprig rosemary
*  10-15 cherry or grape tomatoes cut in half
*  2 stalks of broccoli, stalks removed, cut into small florettes
*  1/2 can of your favorite pitted olives...I use Kalamatra or black, cut in half or thirds 
*  2-4 oz crumbled low or nonfat feta cheese (optional)
*  1 medium Persian cucumber, chopped into small chunks to balance the size of the tomatoes
*  4-6 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped and 2-3 whole for garnish
*  juice of 1-2 lemons and 1-2 tsp zest
*  EVOO= same amount as lemon juice or to taste (I used 1/2 evoo to the amount of lemon
*  salt and pepper to taste , 
         In a small pot put the rinsed quinoa, garlic, broccoli ( you can steam the broccoli and add it with the tomatoes etc if you want a crisper veggie, 1/2 of the shallots and the chopped basil.
Pour the broth over the ingredients and stir to mix evenly.
Bring them to a boil, place the sprig of rosemary in the pot and cover with a lid, reduce the heat to a bit less than medium and cook for 15 minutes or until 95% of the liquid is gone. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
While the quinoa is cooking prepare the tomatoes, olives, cucumber, mint and lemon zest. 
In the bowl you want to use as your serving bowl whisk the EVOO, lemon juice, lemon zest, chopped mint, salt and pepper. 
Add the cooled quinoa ( toss the rosemary) to the bowl and coat evenly with the dressing. 
Fold in the tomatoes, olives, cucumbers and shallots ( if you are adding Feta cheese fold in now).
Refrigerate for 1 hour or more. Best if served slightly chilled.
 Makes 4 large or 6-8 small servings.
 This salad is a balanced meal with whole grains, protein and vegetables and can be eaten alone. Try it for lunch with tomato soup, iced tea or hot chai.
Quinoa has 8 grams of protein per cup according to Self Nutrition Data   
http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/cereal-grains-and-pasta/10352/2 



                                  Waldorf Salad
* 1 lb  sweet apples of your choice, pared and chopped into bite sized pieces
* juice of 1 lime and the zest as a garnish if desired
* 1- 11/2 cup celery sliced thinly
* 2/3 -1 cup low fat mayonnaise ( I use the kind made with olive oil) or
   2/3-1 cup of soy-o-naise  ( soy mayo) or
   1/3 cup yogurt with the balance of either of the "naise" choices ( to do the salad justice it tastes
   better with the tang of the "naise" flavors... see what you like)
* 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
* 3-4 tsp honey or stevia to taste
1-2 scant tsp of apple cider vinegar
        
         Place the apples in a bowl and sprinkle with the lime juice, mix to evenly coat (this will help the apples not to brown).
Add the celery and walnuts to the apples.
In a smaller bowl mix the mayonnaise, 2-3 tsp stevia or honey and thin with a splash of apple cider vinegar.
Pour the dressing over the fruit/nut/celery mix and fold together, covering all of the mix.
Taste the salad and add more honey/stevia to taste.
Garnish with lime zest as desired..I love this added little flavor zing.
Refrigerate at least 1 hour up to 8-12 hours, best eaten the day it was made.
Serves 8, each has a full serving of fruit and walnuts are a good source of Omega 3.    

       My mother used to make this every year for Christmas- it was my Dad's favorite. The "kids" put on the holidays now and I'm not sure if they have it or not. I remember calling her to ask how it was made and marveling at the simplicity of the recipe. I have added a few twists of my own= lime juice/zest, apple cider vinegar, stevia, but it will always be Mom's recipe. I love apples, so Christmas is only one time of the year I make it. There is never any left over when dinner is complete. I meant to take a picture when I made it this time to figure out the measurements ( I eyeball most of my recipes), but it was my son's birthday and it went quickly. I would love to hear about your family favorites and maybe share them with my readers. You can leave a comment here or send your family favorite food stories to me at ashmends@gmail.com      see you soon, blissings  amber

 
 
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This dish is a rich and filling vegetarian comfort food like lasagna with a southwestern flair. Pair it with a salad for a warming Autumn dinner.

you will need:
1 medium zucchini sliced thinly
1 large ear of corn with kernels cut from the cob. If you stand the ear in a large bowl it will catch the kernels without them jumping all over the kitchen.
1/2 onion diced into small to medium sized pieces
2 cloves of garlic minced
1-2 cans of whole roasted green chilies sliced into 1/4 inch strips 

      A word here about chilies.  Chilies come in a wide variety and many are local species. Where I live flame roasted green chili is a way of life. Each autumn the smell of chilies being roasted outside of the local grocery is like the turning of the leaves. In other places local chilies flavor many of the local foods. Which chili type you prefer will depend on your heat desire index and where you presently live and how you grew up. I grew up in a family that used tomato sauce for enchiladas- no heat there. Now, after living in the desert southwest for 25 years, I love raw jalapenos in my salad and green chilies in just about everything. The point is= use the chili that you love in an amount that will definitely impart flavor without burning your mouth down.  Habenaros are HOT, Serranos and jalapenos are Hot, green chilies can be hot, (you will have to know your source), pablanos/passillas are smoky flavored without the heat. Roasted red peppers in a jar have no heat at all. Adobo is roasted red jalapenos and they tend to be Hot. The heat in the peppers is in the seeds and the inner rinds, if you remove them prior to cooking you will have a milder chili. If your'e not sure try the pablano peppers, dice a medium to large one and cook in with the aromatics and veggies. You will get a lovely chili flavor and very little to no heat. If you find you would have preferred a bit of heat, try it next time with the canned green chilies or an even hotter variety. Chilies are so versatile... I just love them!  Warning! the green chilies that I used when I was working out the measurements were freshly roasted and HOT! I loved it , but my nose was running, ahh New Mexico Green chilies. :D
 
6-8 corn tortillas
1- 1 1/2 cup sour cream(reg or light) or you can use Greek yogurt and some extra for a garnish
2- 2 1/4 cups of your favorite cheese shredded: I recommend 4 cheese Mexican blend, Monterey jack or cheddar
1-2 tsp grape seed oil
cooking spray for bake dish
Optional: cilantro leaves for garnish
green onions sliced thinly for garnish
fresh tomato finely chopped or thinly sliced for garnish
sliced avocado for garnish
salt and pepper to taste( I use neither: there is plenty of salt in the cheese and we are going for a different kind of pepper taste here...you be the judge)

Put the oil in a frying pan on medium heat, heating it slightly before adding the onions, garlic and fresh chili peppers if you are using them, corn and zucchini slices. Cook until the onions are translucent and zucchini slices have begun to soften. Turn off the heat and let cool as you prepare the rest of the dish.
Mix 1 1/2 cups of the shredded cheese with the sour cream in a mixing bowl. The mixture should be slightly on the dry side, not too heavy on the sour cream.
Warm the tortillas in the microwave until soft and flexible, meanwhile spray a glass loaf pan with the cooking spray coating the bottom and sides. A round glass casserole will work as well but you may need a few more tortillas to cover each layer.
Place 2 tortillas on the bottom of the pan and spread 1/3 of the cheese/sour cream mixture onto the tortillas, place a layer of chilies  and 1/3 of the veggie mixture on top of that and sprinkle with a thin layer of shredded cheese, repeat for 2 more layers ( if you cooked your chilies in with the veggies you will not have a separate chili layer). Top last layer of veggies with a slightly thicker layer of shredded cheese. Place loaf pan on cookie sheet to catch any spillover. Cover with foil and bake in a 350 degree for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake for an additional 15 minutes or until cheese on top is bubbly and browned slightly. Let sit on a cooling rack for at least 5-7 minutes before serving, garnish with dollop of sour cream and the other garnishes as you like.
Serves 6 to 8. 

 
 
Ground turkey and frozen vegetables with a few Asian accents makes a quick, healthy dinner for two and it is yummy!

        Ingredients:
              1/3 lb ground turkey   You can use any ground meat that you like,
                                                  look for the leanest option to keep your saturated fat intake down. 
                                                  Tempeh also works well in this recipe, follow the nutritional
                                                  info for portion size.   
              12 to 16 oz package of a frozen vegetable combo 
                                                  I usually choose a mix with 3-4 different non-starchy vegetables.
                                                  Frozen vegetables work especially well in this dish and allow you
                                                   to eat out of to add to your variety.
                                                  Corn and peas work fine, but they will increase the carbohydrate load.
              2-3 cloves of garlic       Garlic should be sliced and allowed to sit 5-10 minutes before
                                                  you co maximum health benefits. If you love garlic you can
                                                  put some in near the end of cooking.
              1 inch piece of ginger grated     
                                                  Ginger that is grated does not need to be peeled and
                                                  as with garlic you can use more or save some for the end
                                                  of cooking to increase the flavor.
              handful of fresh shiitake mushrooms with stems removed and sliced about an 1/8 inch  
                                                   Shiitakes are in season in the fall and winter, but they are available
                                                   in most areas year round.  Dried ones can be reconstituted
                                                   by pouring boiling water over them  and letting them soak until soft,
                                                   but please use them sparingly after blotting them dry. Dried shiitakes
                                                   have a stronger taste and can over power a dish quite easily.
               Miran 1/4 cup or to taste
                                                    Mirin is sweet rice wine and is a common flavoring used in Japanese   
                                                    cooking. If you do not want to use wine in your food apple cider is a 
                                                    good substitute.  Water the cider down a bit if you are using an
                                                    unfiltered brand. Mirin is usually  found in the Asian food area of
                                                    your market or with the vinegars.
                Coconut  oil 1-2 tsp      You can use any medium heat oil like olive or grape-seed, but I love
                                                     the subtle coconut flavor the oil imparts. You can use cooking spray
                                                     as well because this oil is used to start the aromatics cooking.                  
                                                     You may need more oil spray if you add onions or jalapenos.
                                                     Don't overload the oil up front
                                                     because the meat will add some fat to the dish as well.
                Soy sauce to taste
                Options                       1/3 small yellow onion chopped to cook with garlic and ginger
                                                   finely diced jalapeno to taste, if you love spicy food (I do!)
                                                   green onions chopped for garnish, I only use the green ends
                                                   cilantro chopped or individual leaves for garnish
                                                   sesame seeds sprinkled as garnish 
                                                   drop or 2 of toasted sesame oil -careful a little goes along way!
        
              You will need a medium sized frying pan or wok with a lid.
              I use a cast iron pan which works fine and increases iron in your diet= freeby!

 Put the oil in the pan on medium heat and add the garlic and ginger ( onions and jalapenos here as well if
 desired).   
 Cook 2-3 minutes stirring once or twice then add the ground turkey and cook until all of the meat is browned.
 Add in the shiitakes and stir until  ingredients are well mixed, allow to cook for 3-5 minutes until the mushrooms 
 begin to soften. 
 Next add the frozen vegetables, the Mirin and soy sauce  (this is where you add garlic, ginger and 
 jalapenos that were held back for increased flavor) stir to incorporate and cover with lid.
 Cook for another 5-7minutes or until all of vegetables are warmed and most of the liquid has evaporated.
 Turn off the heat and let rest for 2-3 minutes before serving. Garnish as desired. 
              Serves 2 with a 2.6 oz serving of meat and 2+ servings of vegetables per serving.
              I usually eat this as is, but it is well complimented by adding a serving of whole grains like brown rice or
 quinoa.  If your grains are day old you can add them in with the frozen vegetables, adding a bit of water or
 more Mirin to compensate for the grains absorption factor. You want a bit of the liquid to remain at the end of
 cooking.  
                                Up next: Green and Yellow Veggie Enchilada Casserole
 

    Author

    Hi my name is amber and I've been cooking since I was about 16, but I've been eating for my whole life. I was a vegetarian for 25+ years, but now I eat a small amount of meat most weeks. I try to eat in season and choose organic when I can. My goal is to be healthy, eat food that tastes good and to be in the moment as I create meals for myself and my loved ones.

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