Lentil, Barley, and Kale Soup (Meatless Monday)

Lentils, a member of the legume family, should be a staple in everyone’s cupboard–especially for you vegans and vegetarians. These little earthy pillows are an excellent source of plant-based protein and have a lot of the vitamins and minerals that meat-abstainers often miss in their diet. A one-cup serving of lentils has only 230 calories, 16g of dietary fiber, 18g of protein, and 37% of the recommended daily intake for iron. This high soluble fiber content helps lower cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar levels.


Beyond the vast health benefits, lentils are cheap, easy to cook, and store forever. If you’re at a loss for what to do with them (aside from this recipe), check out the New York Times’ Martha Rose Shulman for some great ideas .


Lentil, Barley, and Kale Soup

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 tbs vegan buttery spread (I like Earth Balance’s Soy-Free Buttery Spread)
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tbs toasted sesame seeds
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup French lentils
  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • Juice of 1 lemon, plus 4 long strips of the peel
  • 2 1/2 cartons of reduced sodium vegetable broth
  • 3 cups kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (or parmesan cheese if you opting for a non-vegan version)
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill

How to Make It:

  1. Add buttery spread (or real butter if you aren’t vegan), olive oil, onions and a pinch of salt to a slow-cooker and cover on high for 45min.
  2. Add garlic, turmeric, pepper, cayenne, and toasted sesame seeds (crushing them between your fingers as you sprinkle them in) and cook for another 15min on high.
  3. Add lentils, pearled barley, broth, lemon juice and strips of peel (you’ll remove these at the end).
  4. Layer 3 cups of chopped kale on top but don’t mix it in. Cover and turn to Low for 3-5 more hours.
  5. Turn off your slow-cooker. Remove lemon peels and adjust for seasoning to taste. Stop here if you plan to freeze half and save for later.
  6. When you are ready to serve, add nutritional yeast (or parmesan) and fresh dill to taste.

Serve this with a slice of my Saffron Fennel Bread for a hearty weeknight supper or an easy-to-pack work lunch.

Dairy-Free Banana Bread Muffins

If you liked my Banana Bran Muffins and Blueberry Banana Muffins, you’ll definitely dig my healthy Banana Bread Muffins. Like both of those recipes, this one is made dairy-free by using banana, vegan butter, rice milk and apple sauce. They are soft, moist and a much healthier alternative to most bakery muffins which can pack a serious caloric punch at an average of 450 calories a pop. My version come in at under half that number.


Above being waistline-friendly, these muffins feature folate-full garbanzo bean flour, potassium-packed bananas and nature’s own multivitamin, raw honey. Raw honey contains Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and C, as well as minerals like magnesium, potassium, calcium, sodium chlorine, sulphur, and phosphate.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup garbanzo bean flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 1/4 cup cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil or Earth Balance “butter”
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 8 oz unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup rice milk (or almond/coconut)
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract
  • Optional: 1/2 cup of any of the following–dark chocolate bits, walnuts, dates

How to Make Them:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F; spray 12-muffin pan with oil or line with fun paper liners
  2. In a bowl, mix together dry ingredients (flours, baking soda and powder, spices and salt)
  3. In a separate, large bowl (or KitchenAid mixer if you have one), vigorously whisk together sugar, honey and vegan butter until smooth. Add eggs and whisk again on high until mixture stiffens. Add in your mashed banana, apple sauce,  rice milk, and vanilla extract.
  4. Slowly fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients.
  5. Once combined, gently mix in optional treats (dark chocolate bits, walnuts, dates)
  6. Evenly distribute batter across muffin pan; bake for 45 min (or until a toothpick comes out clean)

White Asparagus & Shiitake Mushroom Salad w/ Balsamic Reduction

In need of an idea for a quick summer salad that tastes delicious? I was too. Salad’s can get boring, especially for those of us that eat them on the regular. It’s important to change up the ingredients to keep your interest (and this healthy habit) alive and well.

On my first trip ever to the AdMo Harris Teeter, I was inspired at the sight of white asparagus. The pale sister of glowing green asparagus, white asparagus is rare to find fresh in the US. Luckily, I caught the tail-end of prime asparagus season and seized the opportunity to snag this porcelain beauty.

photo (2)

This spring treat boasts a pretty impressive nutritional profile. Not only does Asparagus provide a natural liver detox, it is fortified with folate and vitamins E, A, and C to help protect you against heart disease. Folate, or B9, has also been linked to cellular regeneration (aka healing power). Vitamin E is shown to help fight Type II diabetes, and vitamins A and C will steel you against certain types of cancer and cataracts. Asparagus also contains potassium (as does its green cousin the avocado), which helps lower blood pressure and may reduce LDL cholesterol (that’s the bad kind).

Having selected my star ingredient, I decided to pick up some yummy shiitake mushrooms and arugula to round out the salad. For dressing, I decided to go sweet and simple with a balsamic reduction. The mild white asparagus paired nicely with the earthiness of the mushrooms, bitter bite of arugula, and sweet finish of balsamic.

Give this easy recipe a whirl for yourself, and if you aren’t lactose-intolerant or vegan, a hit of pecorino romano shavings would be delicioso!

Warm White Asparagus & Shiitake Mushroom Salad:

(Serves 4)

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1 bunch white asparagus (substitute green if unavailable)
  • 2 cups shiitake mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 5 oz arugula (or 1 bag/box)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 cup good balsamic vinegar (for the reduction)

How to Make the Salad:

  1. Thoroughly wash your mushrooms, asparagus and arugula (unless pre-washed).
  2. In a large saucepan, heat 1 tbs olive oil over medium heat. Add your asparagus, spreading it into a single layer, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 min or until al dente (you can get a fork in but the spear doesn’t slip right off). Remove from heat and slice into 2 inch pieces.
  3. Simultaneously with step 2,  heat another large saucepan with  2 tbs olive oil over medium heat. Add your mushrooms and a pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté until mushrooms begin to brown, or about 5 min. Remove from heat but leave the pan on your stove. Add your arugula to the same pan and give it a quick warm up for 1-2 min.
  4. Plate immediately, starting with the warm arugula as your base and equally dividing the asparagus and shiitake between four plates.
  5. Drizzle with the balsamic reduction (recipe below) and enjoy!

How to Make the Balsamic Reduction:

  1. Pour your balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil.
  2. Turn down the heat so that the boil reduces to a simmer.
  3. Stir occasionally and allow to simmer until the vinegar has reduced by at least half – though I liked to let it go longer for a thicker consistency.
  4. Allow to cool then drizzle over your plated salads to finish.

Quinoa Black Bean Zucchini “Burgers”

I love a juicy burger as much as the next gal but let’s face it, scarfing a quarter pounder with cheese doesn’t exactly put you on the healthy train. I am not going to pretend that my vegetarian “burgers” made from quinoa, black beans, and zucchini will be as finger-licking good as your typical beef or bison burger, but they are yummy and darn good for you!

Quinoa is a whole grain and complete protein (meaning it contains all of the essential amino acids). It’s also a great source of fiber, iron, and magnesium.  As mentioned in an earlier post on my 3-Alarm Turkey Chili, beans are a full of fiber and phytonutrients—naturally occurring chemical compounds found only in plants that are proven to have important disease fighting and antioxidant properties. And zucchini? Well it’s an excellent source of vitamin A, beta carotene, and folate.

These patties are vegetarian and can be made gluten-free as well. Eat them on their lonesome, slap them on a salad, or top them with a poached egg for a protein-packed post-workout meal. Enjoy!


What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup quinoa (uncooked)
  • 1 can black beans, drained, rinsed and mashed
  • ½ cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1 medium zucchini, grated
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp coriander
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste

How to Make It:

  1. Bring 2 cups water and 1 cup quinoa to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the water is absorbed (about 10-15 min). Transfer the quinoa to a large bowl and spread out to cool for about 15 min.
  2. Add zucchini, black beans, eggs, breadcrumbs, lemon zest, spices, and salt and pepper to the quinoa. Use your hands to thoroughly combine all ingredients and squeeze the mixture to bring it together.
  3. Shape eight patties from your mixture. Place them on a large plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 30 min.
  4. Heat 2 tsp olive oil on a griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the patties, reduce heat to medium, and cook until golden brown (3-4 min per side).

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.

Lebanese Cabbage Wraps

Lebanese Cabbage Wraps

I’m a huge fan of Lebanese dolmas (stuffed grape leaves) with lamb, so when I was trying to think of a new recipe to put my healthy spin on these were a no-brainer. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with eating the delicious lamb version of these babies. That said, on those nights when I get back late from a double session at my studio–e.g. tonight my ass got handed to me in a power yoga class, immediately followed by my first pilates class in over a year–I like to have something healthy ready to go in my fridge so I don’t just punish a jar of peanut butter or eat a whole bag of TJ’s Dark Chocolate Honey Mints.

My version of dolmas are made with cabbage leaves instead of grape leaves and ground turkey meat instead of lamb. Cabbage is rich in vitamins K, C and B6, as well as folate. It also contains large amounts of glutamine, an amino acid that has anti-inflammatory properties—key for athletes and those with joint issues. 90% lean ground turkey delivers 30g of protein at only 150 calories for a 3.5oz serving. The best part? Infused with yummy turmeric, ginger and all spice, they taste really freaking good. Scout’s honor!

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 cup bulgur
  • 1 large head Savoy cabbage
  • 2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups finely chopped white onion
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp all spice
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 12 oz ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tbs grated lemon zest (divided)
  • 2 tbs lemon juice

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Prepare the bulgur according to package instructions and set aside in a large bowl.
  2. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  3. Bring 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Trim the bottom of your cabbage and separate the leaves. Place the 12 largest leaves in the boiling water, cover and reduce to medium heat. Cook the leaves until they soften (about 8 minutes) then remove from water and set aside to cool. Keep the remaining cabbage leaves uncooked.
  4. While the cabbage is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add your onion and shallot and sauté for 5 minutes. Add your garlic and sauté for an additional 2 minutes. Add your salt, pepper, turmeric, ginger, all spice and cinnamon and cook for another 2-3 minutes to combine and infuse the flavors.
  5. Transfer the onion mixture to your bowl of bulgur and let stand until cool enough to handle. Add the lightly beaten egg, parsley, 1 tbs lemon zest and ground turkey. Give the mixture a good knead until it all comes together, well blended.
  6. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with some of the uncooked cabbage leaves. Take the cooked cabbage leaves and place about a 1/3 cup of the filing at the root end of each leaf. Fold in the sides and roll it up like a burrito. Lay the rolls seam side down in the pan.
  7. Combine the lemon juice, remaining lemon zest, chicken broth and white wine. Pour the mixture over your cabbage rolls. Cover the pan tightly with tin foil.
  8. Bake the rolls for 40 minutes, or until the thicker veins of the cabbage leaves are very tender.
  9. Plate and enjoy!

I usually eat two or three in a sitting. They are so full of fiber and protein that I always feel stuffed after eating a few. One of my favorite things about this recipe is that they keep well. I’d say they’re good in the fridge for up to a week.
Hope you like them!