Smoky Sweet Potato Lentil Burgers

I’m a big fan of veggie burgers. Would you have EVER thought?

My all time favorite is the Northstar burger, no question. God only knows how they master that perfectly smoky beet, brown rice and black bean heaven in a meatless burger. It’s nothing short of magical.

I’m not always in the mood to give an arm and a leg and $12.50 for that burger… unless it’s Earth Day AND after 3:00pm in which the burgers are free and the never-ending line makes you wonder if it’s worth it.

On normal days, I make one of my favorite burgs: double bean burgers or Greek veggie burgers. I also love the homemade veggie burgers at Whole World. Amy’s frozen ones aren’t bad in a pinch either.  I avoid most frozen veggie burgers because they usually have 20 gazillion ingredients with highly processed soy protein isolate as one of the top few ingredients.

Veggie burgers aren’t  super hard to make. The formula is typically a can of beans, some veggies, 1/2 cup flour or breadcrumbs, an egg or flax-seed to bind it and some spices.  I find that refrigerating the mixture for a while prior to cooking helps them to stay together better once cooked.

One of the happier moments in my life when I was at Heinen’s in Cleveland and stumbled upon canned organic lentils.  Lentils are kind of a pain to cook because they take 30 minutes.  Pre-cooked lentils are definitely the way to go for these burgers.  Trader Joe’s sells pre-cooked ones as well. You could also just whip up a big batch of lentils and have them throughout the week to throw on salads, in soups or mashed on toast with avocado, egg and hot sauce. Uh, yum.

I’m mildy obsessed with putting smoked paprika in everything I make. I highly advise that you invest in some.  The natural smoky flavor it lends to savory dishes is amazing.  I saw that they’re now carrying it at Trader Joe’s!

These burgers are a quick one-bowl deal and they make fabulous leftovers.

Smoky Sweet Potato Lentil Burgers

-makes 4 burgers

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups cooked lentils (one can, drained)
  • ¼ to 1/3 cup cooked sweet potato flesh (one small sweet potato, or even pumpkin/squash)
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup chopped greens
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup corn (I used TJ’s frozen roasted corn)
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Poke sweet potato with a fork a few times.  Wrap loosely in a paper towel and microwave for 4 minutes, or until soft.  Set aside to cool.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, mashing lentils with a fork as you stir.
  3. Form mixture into 4 patties.
  4. Refrigerate patties for at least 30 minutes (I kept mine in the fridge overnight).
  5. Cook over medium heat in a bit of olive oil until browned on both sides.

Enjoy one on a bed of greens or on a whole wheat bun with loads of mustard.

Tonight’s post-dinner snackage included egg whites with hot sauce, mini Triscuits with kalamata olive hummus (recipe coming soon) and granola with soymilk.

Snack much?  Eeeee!

Banana Coconut Muffins (gluten-free)

Lately when I wake up in the morning for work I’m faced with a serious choice.

Like do I take the time to sit down at the table and eat my eggy oatmeal with hot sauce or use that time to tame my lion’s mane that we call hair?

Do I slap on a band-aid, embrace the blisters and sport the cute cheetah flats?

Do I take the time to dump pumpkin, soymilk, maple syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg into my not-yet-brewed-coffee when I’m already ten minutes late?

Um… yes to the first, second and third question.

The bottom line is that even if I wake up an hour early, I’m never ready on time. This morning I ate my oatmeal in the car in between red lights.  There may or may not have been Frank’s on the dash.  And my chin.

The bottom line is that if I don’t have mini greek quiches or pumpkin pancakes all cooked and ready to go when I wake up, breakfast is a scramble. And if it’s not eggs, I don’t want to scramble. So here is a mildly fabulous muffin recipe that you and me can grab and go for breakfast.

These muffins are super moist, packed with nutrition, low in added sugar and DELICIOUS.  Each muffin has about 165 calories and nearly 5 grams of protein.  You can get almond meal for $3.99 at Trader Joe’s and you can make oat flour by simply blending oats in the magic bullet or food processor.

Cheers to gluten-free goodness.  And getting to work slightly on time.

Banana Coconut Muffins

-serves 12, adapted from this banana bread

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil (or butter), melted
  • 1 tbsp applesauce
  • 1 cup mashed, overripe bananas
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, toasted
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Topping:

  • 1/2-1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Spray a muffin tin liberally with cooking spray.
  3. Toast coconut by microwaving it on a plate for 1.5 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds to prevent burning.
  4. In a large bowl, stir together maple syrup, eggs, melted coconut oil, banana and vanilla.
  5. Add in dry ingredients (including toasted coconut) and stir until just combined.
  6. Pour batter into muffin tins and top with a sprinkling of brown sugar and coconut.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a fork comes out clean!

Banana and coconut are a seriously underrated combination by the way.

While we’re on the subject of delicious, does anyone remember that one guy from NSYNC that wasn’t really anyone’s favorite?  The one on the left?  The roommates and I are on a quest to find out his name.

Greek Mini Crustless Quiches

Step aside, Mr. Broccoliandcheesequinoaquiches.

There’s a new quiche in town.  And I don’t want to cause any drama, but these bad boys juuuuust might be better than you.  Ouch.

Now don’t get me wrong– the combination of buttery broccoli, freshly grated cheddar and browned onions with the sneaky superfood quinoa is definitley delicious.  I had three for breakfast every day until they were gone.  Tears may or may not have been shed.

As soon as I made the broccoli cheese ones, I knew I would want to make about a hundred variations, give or take.  Greek food is very close to my heart.  No, I’m not Greek.  While we’re on the subject, nor am I Arabic, Italian, Mexican, Indian and any other ethnicity that I’ve been mistaken for. Even though I’m not Greek and I can’t spell the word Mediterranean without going to Microsoft Word to type it out and spell check it fist, it’s by far my favorite cuisine.  If there is a Greek salad, Greek pizza, or Greek sampler platter on the menu, there is a more than good chance I’ll order it.  Same goes for anything involving hummus, baba ganoush, tabouli and falaffel.  Aladdins and Mazzah are a couple favorites. Moral of the story: If it has feta, kalamata olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions and spinach, I’m IN.  ALL IN.

P.S. If you are at work, do not click on the Aladdin’s link.  It will play an awkwardly loud ethnic tune that will overide your Pandora and make everyone stare at you.

The debacle is that you can’t really have Greek salad for breakfast.

Until now.

Have you ever tried Trader Joe’s feta with Italian herbs? SURPRISE…It’s amazing.  Greek AND Italian…aren’t we so diverse today?

These perfectly eggy, dare-I-say-MOIST, muffiny, vegified quiches of Greek heaven are one of those recipes that you need to make ASAP.

Easy? Check.

Just under 90 calories a pop? Check.

Utterly delicious? Check PLUS.

Greek Mini Crustless Quiches

-makes 12

Ingredients:

  • ½ large onion, diced
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 packed cups of fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • 5 eggs
  • ½ cup milk (I used soymilk)
  • ¾ cup feta cheese
  • 12 kalamata olives, chopped
  • ½ cup tomatoes, diced
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • pepper to taste
  • cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a muffin tin liberally with cooking spray.
  2. In a large pan over medium heat, sautee onion in a bit of oil for 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and spinach and sautee for a couple minutes or until the spinach is wilted.  It will look like a giant mound of spinach but it’ll shrink down to nothing. Remove pan from heat.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and milk.
  5. Add in cheese, olives, tomatoes, salt and pepper.  Stir in onion-spinach mixture.
  6. Pour into muffin tin using a 1/4 cup measure.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven, allow to cool for a bit, and devour.

Is it weird that I actually think these are ridiculously good-looking?

Nahhh, it’s normal.

* * *

In the news: Multiple brands of peanut and almond butter have been recalled due to a Salmonella outbreak. Check your cabinets and get the full list of contaminated brands here!

 

Easy Apple Granola Crisp

You may think that because I blog about food that I come home every night and whip up some fancy shmancy meal for myself.

Wrong.wrong.wrong.

After a long day of work + babysitting + working out, I walk in the door and think about the energy I don’t have to cook.  And the energy I especially don’t have to clean up the crazy mess I make every single time I cook.

Some nights I’ll have leftovers for dinner, like last night when I had a greek veggie burger that I made on Tuesday.  I try to pair it with something I can get together quickly like sweet potato fries or roasted zucchini.  Then I feel like Sandra Lee from Semi-Homemade.

Some nights I’ll heat up a luna burger, throw it on some arugula, douse it in tahini sauce and call it a day.

Some nights I’ll microwave an Amy’s burrito for “dinner” and then eat a million chocolate covered pretzels dipped in peanut butter thirty minutes later because let’s be honest with each other here, that ain’t dinner.

Some nights, like tonight, I’ll have Trader Joe’s multi-grain roasted vegetable lasagna (which is DELICIOUS by the way).

Some nights, I staaaay up cashing in my bad luck. Some nights, I call it a draw.

Now we all know finally know the words to the first line of that grossly underplayed song.

Props if you’re super lazy and choose to microwave the lasagna for 16 minutes and throw it in the oven for 3. Major props if you put it in a glass dish because it’s more Sandra that way.

I don’t know what loser would ever do something like that.

Since I ate dinner from a box tonight, I wanted to end it on a homemade note.  Ya know, like Sandra.  This might be my favorite recipe on the blog thus far and it also happens to be BY FAR the easiest.  After I licked my ramekin clean, I ran back to the kitchen to make one for Danny and Ally.

I think they might both like me a tad more after tonight.

Easy Apple Granola Crisp for One

-inspired by this recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 apple, sliced or diced thinly
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp granola
  • 1 tsp melted butter
  • drizzle of pure maple syrup
  • cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray a ramekin with cooking spray.
  3. Combine thinly sliced apples, cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl.  Toss to coat.
  4. Place apple mixture into ramekin.  Top with granola.
  5. Pour melted butter over top of granola.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven, drizzle with maple syrup, and bake for 5 more minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and devour.

Some nights it’s all about the easiest dessert ever.

Coconut Pancakes for One

My mouth was exploding with happiness tonight.Seriously, people.  Exploding.

I had an awkward amount of coconut milk left and I’m not one to let all that deliciousness go to waste.  I wanted something sweet and coconnuty and man, these delivered. 

 They taste like coconut cake doughnuts with a warm crispy crust. Complete and utter perfection.  This is actually my favorite recipe on the blog to date.  Whole wheat, vegan, and nothing short of fabulosity.

Pretty please go to Trader Joe’s and get coconut oil.  It’ll only set you back six dollars.  Plus, you can use it as a natural moisturizer, eye makeup remover, and high heat cooking oil… pretty much the best six dollars you’ll ever spend.

Topped with toasted coconut, nutmeg and maple syrup, these pancakes are heaven in your mouth.

 I only ask of you three things:

Don’t skip the coconut oil.   Don’t nix the nutmeg.   Don’t change a thing. 

 We don’t want to mess with perfection now, do we?

Coconut Pancakes

-serves one

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour/whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 packet stevia (or 1 tbsp sugar)
  • 1 tbsp shredded coconut + more for toasting and garnish
  • dash of sea salt
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg + more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup lite coconut milk (from a can)
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp coconut oil (or butter), melted
  • coconut oil for cooking*

Preheat a large skillet over medium heat.  Melt about a tsp of coconut oil in the pan.  *This gives that fabulous crispy coconutty crust, but if you don’t have any coconut oil, then butter or cooking spray will do.

Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl.  Pour in wet ingredients (including the tsp of melted coconut oil) and stir until just combined.  Spoon batter onto pan, forming three pancakes.   If the batter doesn’t sizzle, then the pan isn’t hot enough!  Cook until pancakes begin to slightly bubble and lift from pan.  Flip and cook about a minute or so longer, but don’t overcook!

After you remove the pancakes, add a small handful of coconut to the pan.  Toast for about a minute, stirring frequently to avoid burning.  Remove from pan once golden brown.Generously sprinkle some nutmeg and coconut onto the plate and then add your pancake stack on top.  Top with more toasted coconut and maple syrup.

The last bite on my plate was really a low point in my life.Who needs pina coladas on the beach in 80 degree weather when you have warm coconut pancakes at your fingertips?

Okay, I wouldn’t mind the beach.

three’s a crowd

Mornin’ all.  It was hard for me to fall asleep last night because I was so excited about finally starting the blog, so naturally, I stared at the two lonely posts I had written and decided that they needed a friend.  A friend that would have to wait until tomorrow morning, after I dropped the kiddies off at camp.

I have the best job ever.  Everyday I get to hang out with two adorable, sweet, and extremely smart little girlies.  LiaBanana is wise beyond her years.

“Do you have a job?” 

“Yes, of course! This is my job, silly!”

“But this is too fun to be a job!”

Amen, sista.

Zoombezi Bay!

Then there’s the pet store, where puppy#1 is the cutest little bugger I’ve ever seen, puppy poopy #2 “has a pooping problem” and dog #3 (who was way too big to be called a puppy) scratches LiaBanana’s leg.  You win some, you lose some.

puppy numero uno, obviously

Look at those eyes!

still puppy#1

you guessed it… #1

Poopy#2 and dog #3 didn’t make the cut. Sorry, guys.  Just like Lia said, “That dog is never gonna find a home if he scratches everybody.”  True dat.

 
***
 
Back up to this morning, when I indulged in the most important meal of the day.  Lately I’ve been enjoying Trader Joe’s toasted oat bran.  In one serving, it packs 6 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein.  Not to mention 15% of the daily value of iron.  I don’t hate it.

the goods

WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN  BRAN ALL MY LIFE??
 
Let’s chat for a bit about these all star ingredients. As you can probably tell, I have a mild but healthy obsession with Trader Joe’s.  Their spices are only $1.99–good luck finding that anywhere else, excluding the value time ones that have been alive longer than I have.  Their peanut butter costs $1.79, and it only has two ingredients: peanuts and salt.  That’s where it’s at.  The chocolate chips don’t have any funky milk solids or preservatives–in fact nothing under the Trader Joe’s brand name has preservatives, which is humbelievableThe baby stevia hanging with the cocoa powder is what I use to sweeten my oatmeal.  It’s great in a pinch, and that’s all you need–a pinch.  No artificial sweeteners…I don’t haaaaate it. 
 
Reese’s Cup Oat Bran
serves one
  • 1/3 cup toasted oat bran
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk/whatever milk you don’t hate
  • 1 tbsp DARK unsweetened cocoa powder (for extra iron) or the reg. kind
  • 1 heaping tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1/2 banana
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • half a packet of stevia or to taste (or use sugar/agave/100% maple syrup)
  • handful of dark chocolate chips (optional required)

Combine everything except the nanner and chips in a covered bowl, tasting for sweetness.  Stir and then put that bad boy in the fridge before bed.  When you wake up, add more milk/water until you get a smoothie-like consistency.  Tear the half a nanner into big chunks and add to oat bran. The nanner will become gooey and carmelized and yummilicious a la Katie . Microwave  for a minute to a minute and thirty seconds until you like the consistency.  It shouldn’t need too long since the oats were soaking all night.  If you’re feeling sassy, throw in and some chocolate chips.  Stir, eat, repeat.   You’ll be full for hours.  Nothin to hate about that.

Looks don't matter. It's what's on the inside.

 

First Pealightful “Recipea”

I didn’t eat lunch today until about 3:30, which is NOT normal.  I usually stare at the clock until 11:30am, when I feel it’s socially acceptable to start noshing on everything in sight.  I scarfed down deeelish leftovers before picking up the kiddies from camp.  Leftover hoisin ginger tofu (courtesy of Mama Pea) with brown rice,  chick peas, steamed broccoli, and mmmm sauce.  AMAZING.  The good thing about cooking for one is that there are leftover for almost a week. 

con Siracha

Broccoli is loaded with folic acid, vitamin C, and potassium. Score!

And hey, when I get sick of them, there’s always Nikki.

me and the bestieroomie (aka Nikki)

When it came to the kiddies, LiaBanana and Saun-Baun wanted hummus after camp.  Sabra roasted red pepper hummus. YUMMUS.

That's my girl!

 The acorns don’t fall far from the nanny-tree.

It was hard to pick a recipe for dinner, but  I wanted something easy, so I flipped through the new cookbook.  Of course Whole Foods was out of whole-wheat hamburger buns, TJ’s was too far away, and although I love Target dearly, they don’t really believe in selling packaged food with less than a hundred ingredients.  I settled on one without HFCS and with only a couple things I couldn’t pronounce.  Beggars can’t be choosers.  Sigh.

I made the “better than ever black bean burgers” with some roasted brussel sprouts and carrot fries.  If you want the recipe, buy the book!! Bestieroomie, bestieroomie’s friend and I ate until we could eat NO more …except for  chocolate-chip zucchini muffins we inhaled for dessert.  Who would have though you could get so full on veggies? Fabulous.

Back up.   The three of us finished off a whole pound of carrots, a feat we could not have accomplished had they not been roasted into the disguise of carrot fries.  The kiddies love these, too.  They are a great way to squeeze in Vitamin A, shine-ifying your skin, bones, hair and eyes. Double score.

Carrot Fries:

-serves three, with the risk of turning orange

  • 1 lb. of organic carrots
  • Canola Oil Spray
  • 1  tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp sea salt

These measurements are estimates because I eyeball the spices, so go crazy! Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Wash carrots.  Using a sharp knife, carefully cut carrots into “fry” spears and spread onto a cookie sheet sprayed liberally with cooking spray or canola oil. Sprinkle with desired seasoning and then spray the fries once more.  Toss to coat.  If you’re feeling sassy, try coconut oil.   Roast for 20-25 minutes, turning if neccesary, until fries look crispy and spotted(or when it’s 9:00 and you told bestieroomie that dinner was at 8:00).  EAT!

Organic Kosher Dill Pickle Spears were on sale at Whole Foods today.  Home run.