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Posts Tagged ‘cleanse friendly’

Butternut Squash & Chickpea Coconut Curry (Crock Pot Recipe)

 

I absolutely adore my slow cooker. It is so perfect for those days where you kinda feel like cooking, but you don’t really have the time or desire to stand around stir this pot so it doesn’t stick, toss that thing in this dressing, cut up this and that. I always love eating at home and cooking my own meals, but sometimes after a long day of work, I just don’t have the energy to head to the kitchen and start on another 1-2 hour adventure. Though it hardly feels like work, sometimes it’s just hard to muster up the energy after a long and busy day. With a crock pot there is no preheating, no keeping an eye on it so it doesn’t over cook, no stirring. It’s just simple, easy home-cooking. When you are ready to eat, just head to the kitchen and serve yourself. I always tell Mark that my crock pot is the closest I will ever come to having a personal chef, it really feels like that.

This recipe is exceptionally easy, just toss all (well, almost all) of the ingredients in to your crock pot in the morning and check back later. I decided to keep out the peas until the end and wished I had done the same with the spinach, so I altered the recipe to reflect that. That’s it. You could certainly fuss with sautéing the onions and garlic ahead of time if you wish, but I really don’t see why you should bother. I tossed it all in and it was ready to go 6 hours later. I had some beautiful spinach and peas from the market so I decided to toss those in for some extra greeny goodness and that was our meal.

I truly think this was the best curry I have made yet. I personally have a wonderful yellow curry powder that I love, though I know many people swear by making your own mix, toasting the spices yourself, etc. I have yet to try that as I really love the powder I buy. If you prefer to take that route, please do. Beyond being extremely easy to make, this curry is loaded with flavor and is so satisfying. I served it over a small serving of brown basmati rice and topped it with fresh cilantro and a bit of unsweetened shredded coconut. The perfect cleanse-friendly, fall meal.

Butternut Squash & Chickpea Coconut Curry (Crock Pot Recipe)
serves 8

2 1/2 cups diced butternut squash
1 1/2 cups dried organic chick peas
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can organic coconut milk (you can use light here, I didn’t)
1 bunch of fresh spinach, rinsed and roughly chopped (you could also use kale here)
1 1/2 cups freshly shelled peas (you can use frozen here, if you wish)
1-2 large tomatoes, diced
3 cups vegetable broth or water
3 tablespoons yellow curry powder (you can use your own blend of spices here, I just happen to have a premixed curry powder from a local indian grocery store that I love)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped (save some for serving)

Rinse and sort through the dry chickpeas. Cut the skin off the squash, remove seeds and cut into 1 inch square cubes. Add all of the ingredients to your slow cooker besides the peas and spinach. Cook on high for 6 hours. About 20-30 minutes before serving add in the fresh peas and spinach, and give it a stir. If your sauce seems to be a bit too thin or watery when it is done cooking, you could make a quick mix of cornstarch and hot water and pour a tablespoon or two of the mixture into the crock pot, allow it to simmer a bit longer. This will thicken it right up.

Serve over brown basmati or jasmine rice topped with fresh cilantro, mint or basil and maybe even some shredded coconut.

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Red Quinoa with Spaghetti Squash, Spinach, Fresh Herbs and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Today is day 9 of my cleanse and I am feeling incredible. Besides feeling lighter, clearer and more awakened when cleansing, I really love the opportunity to play around with new dishes. I love the challenge of making fun cleanse-friendly, vegan meals that are loaded with whole, fresh ingredients and of course, flavor. I especially enjoy doing so this time of year, when there is so much exciting produce to play around with.

I am not going to sing the praises of quinoa once again, if you read my blog regularly you know what a nutritional powerhouse it is. I will tell you however, if you haven’t yet experimented with spaghetti squash, you must. It is such an amazing vegetable (well technically it’s a fruit, but whatever) and it is so versatile in vegan cooking. Many people like to eat spaghetti squash in replace of traditional pasta in recipes, I personally love pasta too much to do this on a regular basis, but I have before and it’s good. I had some for lunch today with a bit of the leftover vegan alfredo sauce that I made and it was delicious. Spaghetti squash is especially good simply tossed with butter or olive oil, garlic, fresh sage and some salt and pepper. Much like a pumpkin, you can also toast the seeds from a spaghetti squash, one of my favorite fall snacks. You could certainly use those on top of this recipe, just cut the squash in half before baking, scoop out the seeds and rinse them before toasting. I personally didn’t feel like hacking through the raw squash before baking, which is much harder than cutting into it when fully cooked, so I baked the squash whole. Plus I already had toasted pumpkin seeds from earlier in the day, on hand, ready to be used.

This meal is full of flavor and it quite hearty. Beyond the nutty crunch of the quinoa and the fall flavor from the squash, I love the taste and aroma from the fresh herbs, the slight crunch from the spinach, the subtle heat from the chile and the brightness of the lemon juice at the end. The crispy toasted pumpkin seeds on top were the perfect finish to the dish. For a dish that is incredibly healthy and light, this dish filled both Mark and I up perfectly. The leftovers are also just as delicious as a room temperature or cold salad.

Feel free to play around with whatever fresh herbs you happen to have on hand, sage would be nice here as well as rosemary, parsley, basil, oregano or whatever fresh herbs you can easily get your hands on. You could also use arugula instead of spinach which would bring a lovely peppery flavor to the dish.

Red Quinoa with Spaghetti Squash, Spinach, Fresh Herbs and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Red Quinoa with Spaghetti Squash, Spinach, Fresh Herbs and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
serves 4-6

1 cup red quinoa (you could also use regular quinoa here)
1 1/2 cups water
1 large peeled whole garlic clove
1 spaghetti squash
1/4 cup fresh herbs, I used chives and mint
1 spicy hot chile pepper, finely chopped, seeds removed for less heat (I used an heirloom lemon drop pepper, you could also use a jalapeno or dried red pepper flakes)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 cups organic baby spinach, roughly chopped
1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375º.
Place the whole spaghetti squash in a shallow baking pan, pierce with a knife or skewer and place in the center of the oven (this is a must so it doesn’t explode). Baked for 45 minutes to an hour, until you can easily pierce it with a paring knife.

While the squash is cooking, rinse quinoa well and place in a medium saucepan with 1 1/2 cups of water and garlic clove. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, until all the water is absorbed and it’s fully cooked. Fluff with a fork and place the cover on the pan until the squash is finished baking.

Meanwhile, cut up your fresh herbs, mince the garlic and pepper and add all to a large serving dish.

Once the squash is cooked remove it from the oven and allow to cool slightly, enough so that you can handle it. At this point, if your pumpkin seeds are raw you can increase the oven temperature to 400º and put them in to be toasted.

When cool enough to handle, cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise with a serrated knife. Scoop out the seeds and fibrous strings from the center of the cooked spaghetti squash. Gently scrape the tines of a kitchen fork around the edge of the spaghetti squash to shred the pulp into strands. Add the spaghetti squash to the serving bowl. Remove the whole garlic clove from the cooked quinoa and add the quinoa to the serving dish. Add in the fresh spinach and toss everything together to combine. Your spinach will wilt a bit from the heat of the quinoa and squash. If you want the spinach fully cooked, you can quickly saute it in the pan you cooked your quinoa in. I personally like the crunch from the fresh spinach. Squeeze the juice from half a lemon over the dish. Salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately topped with fresh herbs and a small handful of toasted pumpkin seeds.

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Sweet Potato and Black Bean Stew

 

This is what winter is all about – spicy, hearty and healthy! This was a delicious one-pot dinner for a very frigid winter night. I made this for dinner on the second to last day of my cleanse and it was hard to believe this was not only healthy, but cleanse-friendly. I had been avoiding corn throughout my entire cleanse, though I just couldn’t resist adding it to this stew, not only for taste, but for the lovely “pop” of the bright sunshine color in an already beautiful dish. Though this dish is vegan, it would satisfy the most ravenous of meat eaters, Mark was raving about it, which can be hard to get him to do sometimes without meat. It is reminiscent of chili but is a combination of flavors unlike any chili I have ever had. The subtle sweetness from the sweet potatoes is so perfectly unexpected. I personally love spicy, so I kept the seeds in on both the jalapeño and chipotle pepper, this stew had a pretty nice kick to it. If you don’t like spicy, you can certainly choose one over the other on the spicy peppers or leave out the seeds. The splash of fresh lime juice is such a perfect compliment to all the flavors and really brings a nice brightness to the dish. If you don’t like black beans or don’t have any on hand, so many other beans would work well in this dish, kidney, pinto, navy, etc. I also think this stew would be great with butternut squash or pumpkin, as well. If you aren’t vegan or on a cleanse and you love your cheese, grate some nice extra-sharp cheddar cheese on top of this stew when you serve it. It would be incredible. Avocado or sour cream would also be great on top. And, if you really like the heat, a few squirts of your favorite hot sauce when serving, would give you another kick of spice. Please do yourself and make this super easy and hearty stew before winter is over and you regret it.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Stew
serves 6

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 small-medium organic sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes (you basically want about 1 1/2 pounds of sweet potato)
2 small onions, peeled and roughly diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, seeds removed and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 jalapeño, diced (I left the seeds in, I like spicy, take them out if you don’t)
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 dried chipotle pepper, roughly chopped, again seeds left in
3 cups organic low sodium vegetable broth
1 – 15 ounce can organic black beans, no salt added, rinsed and drained
1 – 28 ounce can diced organic fire-roasted tomatoes
1 1/2 cups frozen organic sweet corn
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, plus more for serving
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, plus more for serving
3 green onions, thinly sliced

Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add sweet potatoes, onion, garlic, red pepper and jalapeño, stir well to coat. Sauté until onion and peppers are slightly soft, about 5-7 minutes. Add in the chili powder, cumin, salt, and chopped chipotle pepper, still well to combine. Add in the vegetable broth and diced tomatoes (including all the juice in the can). Bring the stew to a boil, stirring well to combine all the ingredients and remove any stuck bits or spices at the bottom of the pot, reduce the heat to a simmer, add in the frozen corn and allow it to cook 15-20 minutes longer or until the sweet potatoes are fork-tender.

Just before serving add the fresh cilantro and lime juice to the stew, season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in large soup bowls, top with a bit more fresh cilantro and green onions, you can add an additional squeeze of lime, if desired. Enjoy.

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