Two-Timing: Sweet or Savory Root Vegetable Pancakes

Seasonal. It’s a word that gets thrown around a lot these days. It’s part of the locavore, slow-food movement–of which I’m a huge fan but not necessarily a devotee. I try to buy produce that is in season, both for environmental and taste reasons. That said, I’ll be the first to admit that I relish the fact that I have the privilege to get avocados and blueberries year-round.
Not sure who Leon is, but I love this chart!

One website I love if you are looking to lower you and your family’s dietary impact on the environment and support local farmers is Eating Well’s seasonal food guide. You can even check out what foods are considered seasonal by state–no one size fits all here!

So what’s in season you say? With fresh local veggies and fruits dwindling, root vegetables, tubers and squash should be your nutrient-rich go-tos for the colder months. There are countless ways to incorporate these seasonal staples into your recipe arsenal. From soups to veggie burgers, cooking with root vegetables and potatoes makes hearty, healthy winter meals a breeze.

Shredded sweet potato, parsnip, turnip and carrot

In case you aren’t already sold, check out these nutrition benefits:

  • Since root vegetables are grown underground they absorb a lot of vitamins and minerals from the soil, namely vitamin C, vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene) and folate, and essential minerals like potassium, phosphorous, magnesium and even iron.
  • All root vegetables are an excellent source of dietary fiber which not only keeps your full for longer, but may also lower LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) and help regulate blood sugar levels. Forbes has a great article on the benefits of a diet high in fiber.
  • Potassium naturally prevents fluid retention and regulates blood pressure.
  • Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. It also helps your body absorb iron and make collagen for healthy bones and cartilage.
  • Folate is essential for having a healthy pregnancy and is a key B vitamin for women trying to conceive and those who are already pregnant.
  • Beta-carotene will keep your peepers in top shape as it has been linked to reduced incidence of macular degeneration.

Sweet or Savory Root Vegetable Pancakes

Sweet or Savory Root Vegetable Pancakes

What You’ll Need (Two Ways):

~Each version makes about 10 medium pancakes.~

Sweet (ONE): top w/ a light drizzle of maple syrup

  • 6-8 cups grated root vegetables (I used 1 sweet potato, 2 carrots, 2 parsnips and 2 turnips; other options include celery root and beets)
  • 1/4 cups corn starch or arrowroot powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • grapeseed oil for light frying

Savory (TWO):top with a poached egg

  • 6-8 cups grated root vegetables (I used 1 sweet potato, 2 carrots, 2 parsnips and 2 turnips; other options include celery root and beets)
  • 1/4 cups corn starch or arrowroot powder
  • 1/4 cups nutritional yeast or finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbs minced chives
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • grapeseed oil for light frying

How to Make Them:

  1. Grate all vegetables using a sharp cheese grater.
  2. For the Sweet version, mix together in a large bowl with corn starch or arrowroot powder, cinnamon, ginger and cayenne. For the Savory version,  mix together in a large bowl with corn starch or arrowroot powder, nutritional yeast (or grated cheese), chives and cayenne.
  3. In a separate smaller bowl, whip up your eggs.
  4. Pour egg mixture over veggie mix and toss until evenly coated.
  5. Heat 1-2 tbs grapeseed oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.
  6. Scoop out 1/4 cup of the mixture at a time, forming into compact balls with your hands. Place them into your hot pan and flatten each down using a spatula.
  7. Cook over medium heat, 3-5 minutes per side.

Serve immediately. For the Sweet version, plate two or three pancakes and serve with a drizzle of grade A maple syrup (the good stuff!) and a side of turkey bacon or fruit. For the Savory version, try serving two pancakes over a bed of arugula or baby spinach and topping it off with a poached or fried egg.

My Top 5 Green Smoothie Recipes

It’s officially Cherry Blossom season here in the District, which means spring (real spring, not teaser spring) is just around the corner! To honor the onset of my favorite time of year in DC, I thought I’d share 5 of my favorite “Greenie”recipes. My Greenies are healthy vegan  smoothies that bring together fruit, dark leafy greens, plant-based protein and nutritional superfoods in one tasty and satisfying blend. At under 400 calories for 16oz of smoothie (that’s two full glasses!), all of these recipes are are great way to start your day. They’re also packed with dietary fiber (thanks to the flaxseed and chia seeds in there) and protein to keep you full and focused. Best of all, they have anywhere from 3 to 5 servings of fruits and veggies so by the end of breakfast you’ll have either met or surpassed your recommended daily intake. Now, that’s no excuse to eat junk for the rest of the day, but it is mighty nice to know that you’re giving your body much of what it needs for optimal function from the get-go. Also, studies show that if you start your day with a healthy breakfast you’re less likely to be obese, more likely to have good/stable blood glucose levels (and consequently more energy and less moodiness), and less likely to be hungry later in the day.

If you’re not a fan of almond milk substitute your favorite unsweetened rice, hemp, soy, coconut or skim milk, or try fat-free plain Greek, soy or coconut yogurt in lieu of almond milk yogurt. Coconut water is another good liquid to swap, just beware of its sugar content. Several brands really jack that up. My favorites are Blue Monkey, C2O, and–la crème de la crème–100% Raw Coconut Water.



(1) Banana-Berry Breakfast Greenie:

  • 8 oz unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup frozen whole strawberries
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach
  • 1 tbs almond butter
  • 2 tbs ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

287 calories, 14g of dietary fiber, and 10g protein per serving.

(2) Blueberry-Kale Protein Greenie:

312 calories, 22g of dietary fiber, and 27g of protein per serving.

(3) Blueberry-Beet Power Greenie:

  • 8 oz unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 medium beets (boiled)
  • 1 cup frozen wild blueberries
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach
  • 1 tbs grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tbs hemp protein powder
  • 2 tbs ground flaxseed

319 calories, 21g of dietary fiber, and 25g of protein per serving.

(4) Pineapple-Mango Vitamin-C Greenie:

  • 8 oz unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup frozen mango
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen pineapple
  • 2 handfuls of kale
  • 1 tbs chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

341 calories, 13g of dietary fiber, and 10g of protein per serving.

(5) Dark Cherry Goji Greenie:

381 calories, 21g of dietary fiber, and 25g of protein per serving.

10-Day Cleanse: Smoothies

Here are the recipes you’ll need for breakfast, days 1 through 4 of my 10-Day Cleanse.

Blueberry Beet Smoothie w/ Ginger:

Amy’s 10-Day (Moderate) Cleanse: Breakfast, Days 1 and 2

To Make: Blend together 1-2 medium raw beet (cleaned with skin on, roughly chopped), 1 cup frozen wild blueberries, 1 tbs grated fresh ginger, 2 tbs fresh lemon juice, 1 cup water, and a handful of ice. (Optional: substitute half of that water for a 1/2 cup almond milk)

  • This energizing smoothie is bound to put some pep in your step. The blueberries boast a high concentration of antioxidants and the raw beets are full of folate, vitamin B, and fiber.

Pineapple Banana Kale Smoothie:

Amy’s 10-Day (Moderate) Cleanse: Breakfast, Days 3 and 4

To Make: Blend together 1 cup fresh pineapple (cubed), 1 banana, 2-3 kale leaves (chopped with stems removed), 2 tbs ground flaxseed, 1 cup water, and a handful of ice. (Optional: substitute half of that water for a 1/2 cup almond milk)

  • This powerful smoothie is not only naturally sweet, but packed with dietary fiber, two powerful antioxidants (carotenoids and flavonoids) that are proven to help prevent cancer, and vitamins A, K and C.

Keep in mind this is a cleanse, so while these will taste refreshing and healthy they won’t be as sweet as a typical smoothie. If you are really struggling, try adding in the optional almond milk and 1 tablespoon of maple syrup or raw honey to these recipes–with the sweeteners these would also be great non-cleanse smoothies too.

Beet & Black Rice Risotto

Another one of my twisted classics, this beet and black rice risotto will deliver the same satisfying, creamy comfort of a traditional risotto with some major health upgrades. Believe me, my genetics (and last name) make me a ‘rizzotto’ expert.

Let me drop some knowledge on you. Beets are packed with vitamins A, B (1, 2 and 6) and C–take that common cold! They also contain phytonutrients, naturally occurring chemical compounds with demonstrated antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxification properties. Stemming from this burgundy root vegetable (pun intended) are its greens, which boast a higher concentration of iron than spinach.  They are also an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, copper, phosphorus and sodium. Not to be neglected are the mighty nutritional characteristics of black rice (which actually turns purple when cooked). By eating 10 spoonfuls of cooked black rice, you are ingesting as many anthocyanins (a potent antioxidant) as one spoonful of the well-known superfood, blueberries.

Now that you know how good the two main ingredients are for you, let me tell you how to make it! Bonus: this can be made vegan simply by omitting the optional goat’s milk gouda.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup black rice (I use Forbidden Rice)
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • 1 bunch beet greens, stemmed and washed
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup arborio rice
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3 large beets (~1 lb) roasted, skinned and diced (Note: advance prep time needed!)
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 tbs finely chopped Italian basil
  • OPTIONAL:1/2 cup goat’s milk Gouda cheese, grated

How to make it:*

  1. Before tackling steps 3-8, wrap your beets in foil and roast in an oven pre-heated to 350°F for 45 min-1 hour. When you can stick a fork in and pull it out with ease, they’re done. Immediately remove them from the foil and dunk them in cold water.  Use a spoon to pull the skin away, dice them up and set aside.
  2. Additionally, you’ll need to pre-cook the black rice. To do so combine with 2 cups water in a saucepan, add salt to taste and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 30 to 40 minutes, until all of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. Remove from the heat and let sit for 10-15 min.
  3. Now, onto the main attraction. Bring vegetable stock to a simmer in a saucepan. Season with salt & pepper and reduce heat to low.
  4. Take your washed beet greens (you could also use swiss chard), stack them up and cut crosswise into 1/2 inch strips. Set aside.
  5. In a large saucepan–I use my Le Creuset 5 qt. dutch oven–heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion. Cook until the onion begins to soften (~3 min) and add the arborio rice and garlic. Cook until the grains of rice begin to crackle (~3 min).
  6. Here comes the labor of love part. Add in the wine and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. When the wine has almost evaporated, stir in a ladle of the simmering stock (enough to just cover the rice). Cook, stirring continuously, until it is just about absorbed. Add another ladle of the stock and continue adding and stirring like this when the rice is almost dry for 10-15 min.
  7. Add in the greens, the diced beets and black rice and continue adding more stock, stirring often, for another 10 minutes. If all goes as it’s supposed to you’ll know because the arborio rice will be chewy but not hard in the middle–not soft like steamed rice. If it is still hard in the middle, continue adding stock and stirring for another 5 minutes or so. Add salt to taste.
  8. When the rice is properly cooked, add a generous amount of pepper, stir in another 1/2 cup of stock, the goat Gouda (again, optional) and the basil. Remove from heat. If the risotto isn’t creamy, add a little more stock, stir for another 5 min and serve.

*Disclaimer: this, like all risottos, is a labor of love. Definitely allocate at least an hour to make this from start to finish–and that doesn’t include the prep step of roasting the beets.

Adapted from Martha Rose Shulman’s “Black Rice and Arborio Risotto With Beets and Beet Greens” featured in NYT on Sept. 4, 2012.