Walnut Sweet Potato Salad

Happy February!  Did you know that February is National Sweet Potato Month? (and also Fiber Focus month… just sayin')

I could go on about these guys, I loooove sweet potatoes.  Whether roasted, mashed, baked… I'll take 'em!  They are a great source of carbohydrates and they are deliciouseven better than regular taters in my opinion.  One of my other posts on sweet potatoes discusses the health benefits, but here is a little refresher: 

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Asian-Style Eggplant

Like I have mentioned before, I love eggplant.  Anytime I see it on a menu, I automatically want whatever it is.  And when I see asian-style spicy eggplant?  That is just a done deal. I'm sold.

Want more reason to eat eggplant?  See why eggplant is good for you and a great Eggplant Caprese recipe:  Eggplant 🙂

I attempted to re-create this dish and it turned out very good.  I would add pepper flakes to to increase the spicyness, but overall, it was a success!

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Usually for Christmas Eve, my mom makes a honey ham and we make some of our favorite sides to go with.  In the past, we have made sticky rice, creamed corn, roasted sweet potatoes, scalloped potatoes and other of our favorite mom dishes.  This year, we decided on roasted sweet potatoes and butternut squash and scalloped potatoes.  I have wanted to roast Brusselssprouts so we decided to try that out on the family as well.  

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Vegetable Gratin

I came upon a zucchini-tomato gratin recipe and thought it looked delicious!  I have never made gratin and I don’t even think I had eaten it before, but it looked like something I would enjoy.  I had a bunch of other veggies, so I figured I would throw those in as well.  So, it ended up being a zucchini-tomato-brussel sprout-asparagus-broccolini gratin! 🙂
This dish is packed with vegetables, making it very healthy by providing nutrients, minerals and antioxidants.  But did you know that the way you cook your vegetables can alter the nutrient content?  When you cook vegetables in water (blanching or boiling), many of these vitamins and nutrients seep into the water, going to waste.  The most common nutrient lost is Vitamin C.  In order to retain the maximum nutrients, cook your vegetables with as little water as possible.  By stir-frying, steaming, or baking/roasting (as seen here), you will be getting the most out of your vegetables.

Veggie Gratin

3 zucchinis
1 bunch asparagus
1 onion, chopped
15 brussel sprouts, halved
Baby tomatoes, halved
1 bunch broccolini
12 oz mozzarella cheese
Bread crumbs

  1. First, pan-grill the zucchini (this ensures they will be fully cooked)
  2. Toss chopped vegetables (minus zucchini) in olive oil and salt
  3. Layer the chopped onions on the bottom of an iron skillet or baking pan.
  4. On top of the onions, place the first layer of mixed vegetables
  5. Add a layer of zucchini
  6. Add a layer of cheese and sprinkle bread crumbs.
  7. Repeat until the pan is full
  8. Bake at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling
Layer of veggies
Add cheese and bread crumbs

Freshly roasted, right out of the oven

As you may know, I’m not a huge cheese person, so I went easy on cheese for half of the gratin, but on the other half, I loaded it on for my cheese-loving friends.  It was delicious right out of the oven, the bread crumbs were crispy and the veggies were well roasted!

There are plenty of vegetables in this dish, which means only one thing…. fiber!!  Although there is a lot of fiber, there isn’t much protein so I would recommend this as a side dish.  Nonetheless, it is still a filling dish and very tasty!  It can be made year-round with various seasonal veggies.  I can’t wait to make this with butternut squash in the fall.  Next time, I am going to add tofu or chicken to improve the protein content!

Roasted Asparagus

I have been really slacking at my blog lately.  Work was pretty crazy, and since it calmed down a week ago, I made sure to make up lost time with friends, at happy hours, in the sun, and working out… pretty much anything but being at a computer for additional time.  But I want to get back in the swing of things (yes, blogging at my computer is more fun than working at my computer!)  Side note: I read all these other blogs, and I am just amazed at how they keep up with it.

Anyways, it is the start of a new month (my favorite month too) and decided to start with something simple and in season.  Because asparagus is just in season, I picked up a fresh bunch and lucky me, it was selling at a GREAT deal.  I love me some sales!  It’s always best to buy foods when they are in season because by doing so, you will get the most flavor and freshness as well as the best price.

What’s in Season in April?

  • Artichokes
  • Arugula (Rocket)
  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Chives
  • Limes
  • Oranges
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet Onions
  • Turnips

That is just a short list of the foods in season now.  I am so excited for all the fruits that are starting to come into season.  There is nothing better than those ripe strawberries that you can buy at stands off the freeway and are warm from the sun, or fresh oranges on a hot summer day!

Usually, I pan-cook my asparagus, but I opted to roast them for the first time.  It was very simple, and I’m not even lying… I almost ate the ENTIRE bunch, it was so good!  I refrained, and was only able to save about 7 spears 😉

Roasted Asparagus
1. Clean and cut ends off of the spears
2.  Lay on a foiled dish pan
3.  Brush with a little bit of olive oil and garlic
4.  Season with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper
5.  Place in the oven at 425 degrees for about 11-12 minutes
6.  Sprinkle goat cheese, if you like!

Seasoned, raw asparagus
freshly roasted

topped with goat cheese

Mediterranean Couscous

Couscous is another grain that I love to cook with.  It is similar to rice and pasta but couscous stands out because it contains many more vitamins and nutrients.  It has about the same ratio of protein as pasta does, but a little more than rice does.  Couscous has a 1% fat-calorie ratio, whereas white rice has a 3% ratio and pasta 5% ratio.

As you may have seen, there are various types of couscous.  Three of the most common are:

  • Morrocan couscous: tiny grains of semolina
  • Israeli couscous: semolina pellets that are a little bigger than Morrocan
  • Lebanese couscous: this is the largest kind, about the size of small peas
Recently, I made a Mediterranean Couscous… it is a great dish to make ahead of time and pack for lunches/snacks for the week.
1 cup whole wheat couscous (from Trader Joe’s)
2 cups water
2 zucchinis
1 tomato
1 cup spinach
Feta cheese
All I did was cook the couscous according to the package, chop up the ingredients, and add it to the couscous.  Such an easy and quick dish!
Add zucchinis and tomatoes
add as much cheese as you like