Kenyan Cabbage Casserole

So much of the food that we eat is just plain old, everyday food.  Spaghetti sauce, roll, grilled cheese sandwich.  Don’t get me wrong, there is something wonderful, and comforting, and familiar, and home about those foods, but they are still just ordinary.

But there are some foods that are just special, that are different. It might be the first dumplings I ever had when I was traveling in China or Whit’s ice cream from when I was in college.  Foods that, just thinking about it, just take me back to that time and that place. That even sitting here just make me smile.

And once in a while, you catch a taste of something that thought you would never have again and maybe weren’t even looking for.  I was fortunate enough to find that in this unassuming cabbage casserole recipe.  With that very first bite, it transported me back to Kenya, to my homestay in Nairobi.  To a place where I struggled and grew, and learned about a different way of life and a different way of eating.  I wasn’t looking for this recipe, but the moment I tasted it, I knew that I had found something special and precious and dear.

I am so happy that I get to share it with you.  I encourage you to make this meal to celebrate the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita on February 8, as this extraordinary woman was originally from East Africa (the Sudan).

Kenyan Cabbage Casserole

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 60 minutes

Category: Liturgical Living, Allergy Friendly, Low Carb

Yield: 4 servings

Kenyan Cabbage Casserole

Enjoy this taste of Kenya. Serve with chapati or applesauce.

Ingredients

  • ½ lb ground meat (beef, turkey, or pork)
  • ½ yellow pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • ½ Tbsp dried minced onion
  • 16 oz tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup applesauce (no sugar added)
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • Dash salt and pepper
  • ¾ lb cabbage

Instructions

    STARTING PREPARATION:
  1. Thaw ground meat in the refrigerator overnight or in the microwave.
  2. Cut peppers according to directions (you can do this ahead of time and store them in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days).
    DIRECTIONS:
  1. Heat the skillet over medium heat. Brown the meat (cook, stirring occasionally until no longer pink). While that is cooking, shred the cabbage (similar to how you would for coleslaw but it does not need to be as thin). When the meat is done, if there are a lot of drippings, drain most of it from the pan; if there are no drippings, add a little bit of oil.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375F. Add the peppers, garlic, and onion to the meat and saute (cook, stirring occasionally). While they are cooking, combine the remaining ingredients except the cabbage in a bowl. Once the peppers are softened, pour the mixture into the skillet and stir together, scraping up anything stuck to the bottom of the pan.
  3. Pour half the mixture into the casserole dish, layer on all of the cabbage, and add the rest of the meat mixture. Bake for 40 minutes.
    MAKE IT YOUR OWN:
  1. You could substitute beans for the meat for vegetarian dish, with extra garlic, salt, and pepper to pump up the flavor.
  2. You can substitute collard greens or kale for the cabbage.
  3. For extra Kenyan flair, use pieces of chapati to pick up the casserole with your fingers.
http://www.meredithfamilyfarm.com/kenyan-cabbage-casserole

Tomato and Garlic Pasta Sauce

If you like pasta as much as we do, you’ll love this super quick pasta sauce!  Get dinner ready as quickly as spaghetti, with a fancy twist and a ton of flavor.  Enjoy!
Tomato and Garlic Pasta Sauce

  Tomato and Garlic Pasta Sauce

Needs Fulfilled: Quick Meal, Gluten Free, Allergy Friendly, Low Carb, Vegetarian/Vegan
Serve With: Salad and Garlic Bread
Prep: 0 minutes  Cook: 20 minutes
Time to Table: 20 minutes
Needed Equipment: Skillet
Serves: 4

STARTING PREPARATION:

  • None!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tsp minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
  • 2 Tbsp basil (I tried this basil stir-in paste, which worked really well, but you could also use chopped fresh leaves or even pesto).
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Dash pepper
  • 15 oz diced tomatoes

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Start cooking your pasta (see below).  Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the garlic and let cook about 1 minute.  Add in the remaining seasonings and let cook until fragrant (until it starts to smell very basil-y).  Add in the tomatoes, bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low.  Let simmer while the pasta cooks and the sauce thickens a little.  Toss the pasta with the sauce.

MAKE IT YOUR OWN:

  • You can use just about any kind of pasta that you choose – for a heartier meal, choose a penne or ziti noodle; for a more typical pasta night, go with spaghetti noodles!
  • Choose gluten-free noodles or use zoodles for a gluten-free or low-carb option.
  • Sprinkle with some shredded Parmesan or mozzarella, if desired
  • Add onions or switch the basil for oregano or marjoram for another flavor twist.
  • As always, adjust the basil, garlic, salt, and pepper for your family’s tastes!

What’s Your Quick Meal? Contest + Spaghetti Sauce Recipe

Spaghetti SauceQuick meals – meals on the table in a flash – can save dinner when life gets hectic.  Our family’s go-to quick meal is pasta with homemade spaghetti sauce that we always keep stocked in the freezer, but I want to know, what is your family’s quick meal?  I’m looking for the best and the worst quick meals – those that your family loves and those that you are maybe a little embarrassed to admit that you actually eat.  Check out our family’s recipe then scroll to the bottom to find out how you can win one of 5 one week meal planning coaching sessions!

Spaghetti Sauce

Needs Met: Quick Meal, Prep Ahead, Allergy Friendly, Vegetarian/Vegan
Makes 12 cups

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 – 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • 12 oz tomato paste
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp dried minced onion
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 4 tsp minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
  • 4 tsp basil
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp parsley
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp oregano

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a stock pot. Partly cover, heat over medium low heat (avoid the urge to turn the heat higher, just let it be), and simmer for 2 hours, stirring regularly (if not, it will stick to the bottom of the pot and burn.
  2. Freeze in 1½ cup portions for 3 servings of spaghetti or 1 cup portions for 1 pizza.I use freezer-safe Mason jars (some people say you can use the regular Mason jars for freezing, but they are prone to breaking), but you can also use freezer zip-top bags.  Try it with the quick cooking pasta recipe.
So now it’s your turn!  What is your family’s quick meal?  Share your family’s favorite (or most embarrassing) quick meal by sending me an e-mail at ameredith(at)sparkmeals(dot)com or by sharing on Facebook or Twitter.  I will choose 2 of the best sounding recipes to share and 3 of the worst quick meal disasters – each winner will get a free one week meal planning coaching session for themselves or a friend or family member.  Entries must be received by May 1, 2017.  Don’t forget to sign up for the mailing list to get the winning recipes!

For the Love of: Asparagus

Asparagus has arrived at our grocery store, which means it’s spring!  Here are some tips and recipes to help you get the most out of your asparagus!
The thing that is so wonderful about asparagus is that it is one of those vegetables that truly is seasonal still.  While you can get canned asparagus (or perhaps frozen), it just is not the same as those crisp bright green stalks that are so delightfully fleeting.  So, to start off with, here are some basic tips for cooking your asparagus:
  • Keep the cooking time short to keep the crispness (cook it too long and it will get soggy)
  • If the bottom of the asparagus is woody (the bottom of it will look like wood), snap it off – where it snaps off will be at the top of the woody part
  • Keep your asparagus fresh longer by standing it up in a glass with a little water; cover with a sandwich bag, tie on with a rubber band, and put it in the refrigerator!
  • Boil your asparagus for about 4 minutes or steam for 6-8 minutes on the stove until crisp-tender.
  • Microwave your asparagus with about 1 Tbsp of water in a microwave safe container covered in plastic wrap for about 4 minutes.  Let stand covered for 2 more minutes and drain before serving.
  • Keep your asparagus bright green by putting the cooked stalks in cold water before serving.
  • Serve asparagus cold on salads or warm in sautes, soups, or side dishes.

Spring Vegetable Soup Spring Vegetable Soup

Needs Fulfilled: Prep Ahead, Allergy Friendly (with sub), Vegetarian/Vegan
Serve With: Saltine or oyster crackers
Prep: 15 minutes   Cook: 20 minutes   Time to Table: 35 minutes
Needed Equipment: Saucepan
Serves: 4
Because spring vegetables (like peas and asparagus) don’t take long to cook, this soup is ready relatively quickly – you can get the meal on the table even more quickly by doing the prep ahead of time!  This soup also made surprisingly good leftovers – even the potatoes and the asparagus stayed flavorful and crisp (I don’t recommend trying to freeze this one, though!).

STARTING PREPARATION:

  • Cut carrots, onion, and celery according to directions (you can do this ahead of time and store together in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days).

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 lb new (or fingerling) potatoes, in 1” chunks (some I left whole, some I cut in half, and some I cut into quarters depending on the size – I bought mine at the grocery store but they were like these)
  • ½ bunch asparagus, cut into 1 ½” pieces
  • 1 cup frozen peas (or fresh if you can find them!)
  • 15 oz Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat the oil in the saucepan over medium-high heat.Add the carrots, onion, and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.While that is cooking, prepare the potatoes.
  2. Add the salt, pepper, garlic, thyme, and basil and cook for another minute.Add the bay leaf, water, and potatoes.Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for 8-10 minutes until the potatoes start to soften.
  3. Add the asparagus, peas, and beans, return to a simmer, and cook for about 4 minutes until the asparagus is crisp-tender.

MAKE IT YOUR OWN:

  • Substitute 1 lb browned ground meat for the beans
  • Substitute cannellini or small red beans for the Great Northern beans
  • Add 2 cups fresh spinach or kale with the asparagus

Asparagus-Artichoke Vegetable Sauté

Needs Fulfilled: Quick Meal, Allergy Friendly (with sub), Vegetarian/Vegan, Grain-Free (with sub)
Serve With: Quinoa and a side salad
Prep: 5 minutes  Cook: 15 minutes   Time to Table: 20 minutes
Needed Equipment: Skillet
Serves: 3
This is an Italian-spiced version of a vegetable sauté – one of the first recipes that I ever invented when I was first cooking for myself, so it holds a dear place in my heart.  If you prefer a meat option, check out the “Make It Your Own” section below.

STARTING PREPARATION:

  • Cut up asparagus and artichokes (you can leave the artichokes in fairly large pieces, but remove any harder outside pieces – they stay hard even after you finish the saute).

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 12 spears asparagus, cut into 1” pieces
  • 2 tsp minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
  • 6 oz artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 ½ cup frozen okra
  • 15 oz diced tomatoes, undrained
  • ¾ tsp dried minced onion
  • ½ tsp basil
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat the oil in the skillet over medium heat.Add the garlic and asparagus and cook for about 1 minute.Add the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes until the asparagus is crisp-tender and everything else is heated through.

MAKE IT YOUR OWN:

  • Brown ¾ lb chicken, diced, first in the oil in the skillet (cook, stirring occasionally until it appears brown – about 5-8 minutes).Drain most of the excess fat and continue with adding the garlic and asparagus.
  • Add in 15 oz chickpeas (garbanzo beans) or kidney beans for a vegetarian protein option
  • Substitute in ½ lb of other vegetables, such as diced carrots, peas, kale, spinach, zucchini, broccoli, or cauliflower.
  • Boost the vegetables by about a 1/3 each and serve without the quinoa for a grain-free, low carb meal!

Cook Once – Eat Twice: Ratatouille and Rice and Middle Eastern Vegetable Soup

Ratatouille and RiceThis easy slow cooker ratatouille pairs with a simple garlic risotto for one dinner, and easily transforms into a delicious, spiced soup the second night.  These two recipes work well together by easily creating different flavors and textures in the second meal for a whole new dish!  You will be making a double batch of the ratatouille (stewed eggplant, squash, and tomatoes) and risotto (a creamy, but dairy-free rice dish) and using half of it for the Middle Eastern Vegetable Soup.  It is important that you have the second meal the next day, as rice that has been kept longer than one day can make you sick even after being thoroughly reheated.

Ratatouille and RiceRatatouille and Rice

Needs Fulfilled: Slow Cooker, Prep Ahead, Cook Once-Eat Twice, Allergy Friendly, Vegetarian/Vegan
Serve With: Fruit Salad
Prep: 10 minutes   Inactive Cook: 3-8   hours   Active Cook: 40 minutes
Time to Table: 40 minutes
Needed Equipment: Slow cooker, 2 saucepans
Serves: 3
Arborio rice is a particular kind of short grain rice that you can find with the grains and beans at the grocery store.  It is essential for making the risotto that you use this type of rice as long grain rice does not form the right kind of starch when it cooks to give the risotto is creamy texture.  Eggplant is a very tricky vegetable to get right.  You can tell it is done when it starts to taste good – if it is chewy and bitter, it is not done yet.  If you would prefer to avoid this finicky food, you can substitute 2 yellow squash.

STARTING PREPARATION:

  • Cut eggplant and zucchini according to directions (you can do this ahead of time and store together in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days – the eggplant will turn brown but it doesn’t affect the taste or texture and you cannot tell once it is cooked).

INGREDIENTS:

Ratatouille:
  • 1 small eggplant, cut into ½-inch cubes (peeled if preferred)
  • 3 zucchini, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 3 tsp minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
  • 30 oz canned diced tomatoes (I prefer the petite diced tomatoes with no salt added)
  • 1 Tbsp dried minced onion
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 ½ tsp basil
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeds and stems removed and cut into ½-inch pieces
Garlic Risotto:
  • 5 cups broth
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tsp minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
  • ¾ tsp oregano
  • 1 ½ cup Arborio rice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place all the ingredients for the ratatouille except the pepper into the slow cooker.Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours.
  2. Place the broth for the risotto in the smaller saucepan (if you have two sizes) on a back burner of the stove on medium-low heat (you are just going to warm it – you don’t want it to be boiling).Place the second saucepan on a front burner, add the oil and heat over medium heat.Add the peppers for the ratatouille to the slow cooker, cover, and place on high to continue cooking while you make the risotto.
  3. Add the garlic and oregano to the oil in the larger saucepan (front burner) and saute 1-2 minutes.Add the rice and saute another minute until the edge of the rice starts to be translucent.
  4. Add about a quarter of the broth to the rice.All the rice to cook until the liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently but gently (this helps to develop the texture). As the liquid is absorbed, add in another quarter of the broth, again allowing it to be absorbed while stirring frequently but gently. Once all of the broth has been absorbed, taste the rice and add the salt and pepper as desired. (If you need to, you can cover and let the risotto sit off of a burner until you are ready to serve.)
  5. Serve the ratatouille over the rice, remembering to save half for the soup the next day, storing them covered in the refrigerator in separate containers.

MAKE IT YOUR OWN:

  • You could add 15 oz Great Northern beans (drained and rinsed) or 1 lb ground meat, browned to the ratatouille with the peppers for a punch of protein.
Credits: The ratatouille and rice recipe is adapted from the “Provencal Vegetables and Rice” recipe in One-Dish Vegetarian Meals by Robin Robertson.

 Middle Eastern Vegetable SoupMiddle Eastern Vegetable Soup

Needs Fulfilled: Quick Meal, Cook Once-Eat Twice, Allergy Friendly, Vegetarian/Vegan
Serve With: Bread from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day (there are also gluten-free breads in there!)
Prep: 0 minutes  Cook: 15 minutes   Time to Table: 15 minutes
Needed Equipment: Saucepan
Serves: 3

STARTING PREPARATION:

None

INGREDIENTS:

  • Leftover Ratatouille
  • Leftover Garlic Risotto
  • 1/2-1 cup water
  • ½ tsp coriander
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Combine the leftover ratatouille and risotto with the water, coriander, and cinnamon in the saucepan over medium high heat.Heat through, stirring occasionally.Taste and add additional seasonings (salt, pepper, or more coriander or cinnamon) and serve!

MAKE IT YOUR OWN:

  • You could use other seasonings such as ½ tsp ginger for the coriander for a slightly sweeter flavor or ½ tsp rosemary with 1 stalk celery, chopped for both for a more Italian flavor.

Sausage and Broccoli Casserole

Sausage and Broccoli CasseroleThis broccoli and sausage sauté with noodles and tomatoes makes a great, quick dinner – with simple gluten free substitutions to make it your own!   Plan this meal the week after the Kale and Kielbasa Soup to use up any leftover sausage (because no one likes to waste food!).  Oftentimes, you can plan on having the same protein more than once in one week to simplify your planning.  Kielbasa, however, has a very strong flavor, so putting it on two different weeks saves you from feeling like you are eating the same thing twice.  If you want to have them on the same week, you can try out one of the substitute proteins below!

Sausage and Broccoli Casserole

Needs Fulfilled: Quick Meal, Prep Ahead, Cook Once-Eat Twice (with rice substitution) Allergy Friendly (with substitution)
Serve With: Applesauce (if you like – this meal is complete on its own)
Prep: 10 minutes Cook: 20 minutes Time to Table: 30 minutes
Needed Equipment: Saucepan, skillet
Serves: 4

STARTING PREPARATION:

  • Cut sausage and broccoli according to directions (you can do this ahead of time and store in separate sealed containers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days).

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup macaroni
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ¾ lb kielbasa, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
  • ½ lb broccoli, chopped (you can substitute frozen if you prefer)
  • 1 Tbsp dried minced onion
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 15 oz diced tomatoes

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions or with the following quicker-cooking method: Use a regular size saucepan filled about half to three-quarters full of water, then add the pasta right away. Add salt as desired (it helps to improve the flavor but is not necessary). Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-high so that the water continues to boil well. The whole time stir often! (This is the key because the smaller amount of water tends to make the pasta stick together.) Continue cooking the pasta until it is done (about 5-8 minutes after the water starts boiling). Drain.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the kielbasa and brown (cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts to turn brown). Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and the cooked pasta. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes until the broccoli is nicely cooked.

MAKE IT YOUR OWN:

  • For a gluten-free version, use 2 cups cooked brown rice (about 1 cup uncooked); omit step 1.Pair this recipe with a meal that uses rice the night before, saving the rice in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 day until ready to use.
  • Switch up the vegetables with the same amount of yellow squash, zucchini, or cauliflower.
  • If you cannot find kielbasa that will work for your family, you can use the same amount of ground meat or use this substitute recipe for 1 lb of breakfast sausage:
    • 1 lb ground pork
    • 1 tsp salt
    • ½ tsp dried parsley
    • ¼ tsp dried sage
    • ¼ tsp pepper
    • ¼ tsp dried thyme
    • ¼ tsp coriander
  1. Mix together in a bowl, then use as directed in the recipe.
Credits: The sausage and broccoli casserole recipe is adapted from Healthy Lunchbox by Rallie McAllister.

Kale & Kielbasa Soup Dinner

Kale and Kielbasa SoupWhen I made this hearty kielbasa and kale soup with potatoes and red beans, I made WAY too much, which turned out just perfect as it was even better as leftovers!  So, go ahead and make a double batch to have later in the week (but don’t freeze it – those potatoes will turn into watery nastiness).  I served this with hoecakes (fried cornmeal cakes), which were an adventure, but I recommend pairing this with regular cornbread.

Kale and Kielbasa Soup

Needs Fulfilled: Prep Ahead, Leftovers, Allergy Friendly, Low Carb
Serve With: Cornbread – I like this Old Fashioned Gluten Free Cornbread or Jiffy Cornbread Muffin Mix
Prep: 15 minutes Cook: 30 minutes Time to Table: 45 minutes
Needed Equipment: Saucepan
Serves: 6
STARTING PREPARATION:
-Cut the kielbasa and potatoes according to the directions (you can do this ahead of time and store the sausage for up to 3 days in a sealed container in the refrigerator and the potatoes covered in water in the refrigerator for up to 1 day).
INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 lb kielbasa, sliced
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 5 cups water
  • 3 potatoes, cubed (you can peel first if you prefer)
  • 15 oz red beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ Tbsp dried minced onion
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ bay leaf (or a small one)
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Heat the saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the kielbasa and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned a bit on the outside. Add in the garlic and cook for another minute.
  2. Add in the remaining ingredients except the kale. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes.
  3. Turn off the heat (or turn it very low if you have a gas stove) and leave the pot on the burner. Stir in the kale and let sit for 5-10 minutes until slightly wilted.
MAKE IT YOUR OWN:
  • For a low-carb option, substitute 1 lb of turnips, peeled and cubed for the potatoes.You can cut them ahead of time according to the directions and store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • For a legume-free option, substitute 1 lb ground meat for the beans.Brown the ground meat with the sausage, then drain any excess fat after sautéing the garlic.
  • You can use other greens, including spinach, Swiss chard, mustard greens, or collard greens, in place of the kale if you prefer.
  • If you cannot find kielbasa that will work for your family, you can use the same amount of breakfast sausage or use this substitute recipe for 1 lb of breakfast sausage:
    • 1 lb ground pork
    • 1 tsp salt
    • ½ tsp dried parsley
    • ¼ tsp dried sage
    • ¼ tsp pepper
    • ¼ tsp dried thyme
    • ¼ tsp coriander
  1. Mix together in a bowl, then use as directed in the recipe.
Credits: This soup was inspired by a recipe in At My Grandmother’s Knee.

Toasted Quinoa Southwest Salad

Toasted Quinoa Southwest SaladAll-in-one meals are my favorite, and this easy quinoa dish with avocado, tomato, corn, beans, and some serious Southwestern flavor is no exception!  Not only do they make fewer dishes (yay!) but they also make meal planning a breeze!

Toasted Quinoa Salad

Needs Fulfilled: Quick Meal, Prep Ahead, Vegan, Whole Grain, Allergy Friendly
Serve With: Nothing!
Prep: 10 minutes Cook: 20 minutes Time to Table: 30 minutes
Needed Equipment: Saucepan with lid and skillet
Serves: 4
STARTING PREPARATION:
-Cut up jalapeno and tomatoes. You can cut up the jalapeno and tomatoes ahead of time and store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
INGREDIENTS:
  • 8 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/3 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 tsp cumin
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cup canned corn, drained (about 1 can)
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pit removed, and diced
  • 15 oz canned black beans, drained and rinsed well
  • 4 Tbsp fresh cilantro, stems removed and minced (about ½ bunch)
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Heat 1 Tbsp of the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Rinse quinoa if needed according to the package directions. Add the quinoa and saute (cook stirring occasionally) for about 10 minutes until it starts to brown (be careful not to turn the heat up too much as you can burn it). While that is toasting (browning), cut up the avocado and cilantro.
  2. Add the water to the quinoa, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the “tails” start to pull away from the center of the quinoa and it is soft.
  3. While that is simmering, heat 1 Tbsp of the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin and let cook for about 1 minute. Add the jalapeno and garlic and let cook until the jalapeno starts to soften (2-3 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool.
  4. When the quinoa is done cooking, put the jalapeno mixture in a large bowl and whisk in the remaining oil (6 Tbsp), apple cider vinegar, and salt; taste for seasoning (you may need to add a bit more salt or vinegar). Add in the quinoa and the remaining ingredients and toss to combine.
MAKING IT YOUR OWN:
  • Not a fan of beans? Substitute 1 cup cooked chicken, chopped and warmed
  • You can omit the corn, tomatoes, and/or avocado – you could substitute in some peas or sautéed zucchini if you like
  • Like some heat? Increase the amount of jalapeno
  • Refrigerate and serve as a salad for a flavorful and refreshing dish
Credits: The quinoa salad recipe is adapted from the “Toasted Quinoa, Corn and Avocado Salad” in the Fresh & Fast Vegetarian cookbook by Marie Simmons.

Soy Sauce Substitute + Soy-Free Teriyaki Chicken

One of the biggest challenges for allergy-friendly cooking that I have faced is a good substitute for soy sauce.  There are of course aminos, but not everyone has access to them at their grocery store.  I have found, though, that this is a consistently good substitute for soy sauce!
Soy Sauce Substitute
Worcestershire sauce (equal to the amount of soy sauce in the recipe) + 1/8 tsp salt for each tablespoon of Worcester sauce
This easy combination can be used just like soy sauce in nearly any recipe that is cooked (the flavor of the Worcester sauce seems stronger when it is not cooked, so it does not work as well in salad dressings).  Note, though, that some Worcestershire sauces have soy in them (so, avoid those, of course) and others have fish in them (so you will want to avoid those if you have a fish allergy).

Soy-Free Teriyaki Chicken

Prep: 5 minutes Inactive: 60 minutes Cook: 35 minutes Total Time: 40 minutes
Needed Equipment: Casserole dish
Makes 4 servings
Traditional teriyaki chicken without the soy!  This is great served with brown or white rice and steamed carrots and asparagus.  You can make the teriyaki sauce and combine it with the chicken and freeze to use later – just use the time that the chicken is thawing as the marinade time!
STARTING PREPARATION:
-Thaw chicken (overnight in the fridge, for a few hours in a sink of cold water, or in the microwave). You can marinade the meat for up to 24 hours ahead of time.
  • 1 lb boneless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2/3 tsp ground ginger
  • 2/3 Tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp salt
1.Mix all the ingredients except the meat in a bowl. Put the meat in a plastic or glass container and pour the marinade over the top (you can put it in the casserole dish that you will bake in – be sure it put it in a cold oven, though, to avoid breaking it with the temperature change). Cover and refrigerate for 1-24 hours.
2.Put the chicken and the marinade in the baking dish (if you haven’t already) and bake at 350F for 35 minutes until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160-170F.  Serve the chicken with the marinade spooned over it.

Go-To Side Dishes: Vegetables and Fruit

When you have an exciting main dish and you just want a basic side dish, check out one of these recipes!  For more side dishes, check out the grains and the potatoes posts.

Crudites

Prep: 0 minutes Cook: 20 minutes Time to Table: 20 minutes
Needed Equipment: None
Serves: 4
Choose 3-4 of the vegetables below

STARTING PREPARATION:

None

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 bell pepper, cut into spears
  • 3 carrots, cut into spears
  • ½ lb broccoli, cut into florets
  • 4 spears celery, cut into large pieces
  • 20 cherry or grape tomatoes
  • ½ cucumber, sliced
  • ½ lb cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 avocado, cut into slices

DIRECTIONS:

  1. While your meal is cooking, cut vegetables and serve.

MAKE IT YOUR OWN:

  • Serve with ranch dressing with desired

Fried Apples

Prep: 10 minutes Cook: 15-30 minutes Total: 25-40 minutes
Needed Equipment: Skillet
Serves: 3
Spiced cooked apples! The fried apples recipe is adapted from this Fried Apples recipe.

STARTING PREPARATION:

-Peel the apples if you do not like the cooked skin. Slice the apples thinly and remove the core (You can use an apple corer if you have one and then slice the pieces more thinly. It is easier to slice the apples if you cut from the skin side.).

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cooking apples (red delicious golden delicious, Jonathon, or similar)
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • Dash salt

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat butter over medium heat in a skillet. Combine apple and seasonings in a bowl and mix to coat. Add the apple mixture to the skillet and cook stirring regularly until the apples are soft.

MAKE IT YOUR OWN:

  • Make it dairy free by using 1 Tbsp canola oil, vegetables, or regular (not extra virgin) olive oil
  • You can reduce the sugar to 1 Tbsp or substitute another sweetener such as honey or maple syrup

Fruit Salad

Prep: 20 minutes Cook: 0 minutes Total: 20 minutes
Needed Equipment: None
Serves: 6
Fresh fruit salad that will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days without going brown.

STARTING PREPARATION:

-Cut fruit as directed

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 apples, cored and chopped
  • 2 pears, cored and chopped
  • 1/2 lb strawberries, stems removed and sliced
  • 20 oz canned pineapple chunks in juice

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Combine fruit pieces with enough of the pineapple juice to coat (this helps keep the fruit from turning brown).

MAKE IT YOUR OWN:

  • Substitute ½ lb grapes, sliced, 1 pint blueberries or blackberries, or whatever fruit you prefer (although I don’t recommend bananas as they brown more easily)

Rosemary Peas and Corn

Prep: 5 minutes Cook: 10 minutes Time to Table: 15 minutes
Needed Equipment: Skillet
Serves: 4

STARTING PREPARATION:

-Cut herbs according to directions

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the herbs and saute for about 1 minute. Add the remaining ingredients and bring a sizzle, stirring regularly. Cook until the vegetables are heated through and crisp-tender.

MAKE IT YOUR OWN:

  • Substitute any other fresh herbs for the rosemary
  • Make it dairy free by substituting 1 Tbsp olive oil for the butter
  • Substitute 1 cup frozen carrots, cauliflower, or broccoli for the corn or peas

Side Salad

Prep: 10-20 minutes Cook: 0 minutes Total: 10-20 minutes
Needed Equipment: None
Serves: 4
Start with the lettuce and dressing then choose 1-2 topping to add!
Tortilla Casserole

STARTING PREPARATION:

None, although you can cut your vegetables ahead of time and store them according to this chart.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 oz lettuce, chopped
  • 4 Tbsp salad dressing of choice
  • ½ cucumber, sliced
  • 20 grape or cherry tomatoes
  • ½ lb snap peas
  • 1 carrot, shredded or diced
  • 1 bell pepper, cut into strips or diced
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pit removed, and chopped

DIRECTIONS:

  1. While your meal is cooking, prepare ingredients and toss salad with or without dressing, according to preference (if you are tossing with the dressing, wait until you are ready to serve).

Spaghetti Squash

Prep: 10 minutes Cook: 30-45 minutes Time to Table: 40-55 minutes
Needed Equipment: Baking dish
Serves: 3
Easy baked spaghetti squash (the magical squash that cooks up with a taste and texture very similar to spaghetti)

STARTING PREPARATION:

-Prepare squash by cutting in half lengthwise and scraping out the seeds and strings.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 spaghetti squash

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place the squash cut-side down in the baking dish. Add a little bit of water around the squash. Bake at 400F for 30-45 minutes until the squash is VERY soft (you should be able to very easily poke the flesh with a fork on all parts of the squash).
  2. Remove from the oven, remove from the baking dish, and allow to cool for a minute. Drag a fork lengthwise down the side of the squash (this will give you longer “noodles”), repeating until you have removed all the flesh.