Fish Tacos with Kale Slaw | Seeds and Sprouts |

Fish Tacos with Kale Slaw

Do you remember the first meal you made? I do. I was 11, and I was testing out my first cookbook. The recipe I chose? Tacos. I have no recollection why – tacos certainly weren’t my favorite food – but I suppose that perhaps, I enjoyed the challenge of making something so different from what usually appeared on my dinner plate. So, enlisting the occasional help of my dad, I spent hours meticulously chopping onions, measuring spices, and browning ground beef. The product: a build-it-yourself spread on the kitchen table where my family gathered around and pile their preferred toppings over ground beef. I was so pleased with myself, I refused to make anything else for a year.

Eventually, I moved on from tacos. I started cooking other things for my family: stir fries, salads, even whole-roasted chicken. In high school, I became more health-focused, and when I was 17, I stopped eating meat. I haven’t made tacos since I was young – until now. 

Fish Tacos with Kale Slaw | Seeds and Sprouts |

Going to school in Nashville has given me an affinity for fish tacos. There are a ton of great places around campus (Local Taco, I’m looking at you) that sell creative, fresh tacos. This is my interpretation of my favorite variety: grilled, tender white fish with fresh pico de gallo, citrus-y slaw, and avocado – all of it doused in lime. It’s easier than it seems, and the best part about making tacos is that everyone can build their own individually at the table. I can add extra avocado, my dad can add jalapeño and sour cream, and my brother can skip on the kale. Everyone wins! The main filling can be customized, too: marinated tofu, cooked black beans, and portabello mushrooms all make good fillings. Constructing dinner at the table makes it feel like a special night, and brings a true sense of togetherness. 

Fish tacos are perfect for summer. They’re casual, refreshing, and they beg to be eaten outside. Slaw for fish tacos is typically made of cabbage, but I created one out of kale. I usually have it lying around anyway, I love its strong, slightly bitter taste, and its a nutritional powerhouse. Feel free to use whatever veggies you like best. 

Fish Tacos with Kale Slaw | Seeds and Sprouts |

Fish Tacos with Kale Slaw
  1. 1 1/4 lb white fish, such as red snapper, mahi mahi, tilapia, halibut, cod, etc.
  2. 2-3 limes
  3. 1 clove garlic, minced
  4. 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  5. 1/4 tsp chili powder
  6. 1 1/2 tbsps olive oil
  7. Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  8. 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
  9. 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  10. 1/4 cup white or yellow onion, finely chopped
  11. 1 jalapeño, finely chopped (with seeds, more or less to taste)
  12. 2 cups kale, finely shredded
  13. 8 soft tortillas (corn, wheat, or whatever you prefer, gluten-free if necessary)
Prep the Fish
  1. Place the fish in a large, shallow dish. Pour the juice from half a lime over it. Then, add the garlic, cumin, chili powder, one tablespoon of the olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Turn the fish over a few times until it is evenly coated in the marinade. Set aside while prepping the rest of the ingredients - in between 15 minutes and an hour is ideal.
For the Pico
  1. Mix the tomatoes, 1/4 cup of the cilantro, onion, jalapeño, lime juice, and a few pinches of salt and pepper together in a small bowl. The pico will keep for up to one day in the fridge - just be sure to drain any excess liquid at the bottom before serving.
For the Kale Slaw
  1. In a bowl, combine the kale, the remaining 1/4 cup cilantro, 1/2 tbsp olive oil, and the juice from half a lime. Season with salt and pepper. Massage the dressing into the kale with your hands until the kale is noticeably darker and more tender. Set aside until serving.
Heat the tortillas
  1. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Place one tortilla in at a time, and flip after about 30 seconds, until warm on each side. Store the tortillas on a plate with tinfoil or a clean cloth over them, to keep warm.
Cooking the fish
  1. There are a few ways to cook the fish. You can roast at 400F for about 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of your fish. You can also pan sear it - be sure to divide it up into separate fillets for easier flipping - in a heavy-bottomed skillet with a bit of oil, about 4-5 minutes per side over high heat. To grill, heat the grill up to medium-high, and oil a fish rack (so that if the fish crumbles, it doesn't all fall through the grates). Cook about 3 minutes on each side. With all these methods, you'll want to make sure that the fish is white and opaque all the way through - this isn't the the right kind of fish to eat with a rare center. Transfer the fish to a serving plate - it's okay if it crumbles, because it's just going into a taco after all!
To assemble
  1. Place the warmed tortillas, pico de gallo, slaw, fish, and any additional toppings on the table, and enjoy.
  1. 2 Tacos - Calories - 318. Fat - 8g (Saturated Fat - 1g; Monounsaturated Fat - 4g; Polyunsaturated Fat - 1g). Carbs - 34g (Dietary Fiber - 5g; Sugars - 4g). Protein - 30g.
Adapted from CHOW
Adapted from CHOW
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 Fish Tacos with Kale Slaw | Seeds and Sprouts |

Roasted Mushrooms with Creamy Polenta | Seeds and Sprouts

Roasted Mushrooms with Creamy Polenta

Mushrooms – people either love ‘em or hate ‘em. I’m definitely a part of the former group; I can’t get enough of these veggies’ chewy, juicy texture and rich, umami flavor. They’re great for giving extra oomph to omelets and frittatas and for mixing into a quinoa salad, but my favorite way is this: roasted simply with lemon, herbs, and a touch of parmesan, and enjoyed as the star of the meal. 

Usually, mushrooms require a bit of sautéing. This method, however, is foolproof: just chop them up, toss with dressing, and bake! That gives you plenty of hands-off time, in which you can whip up a quick batch of polenta, or whatever grain you choose to serve this over. Mashed sweet potatoes would be another good option, and paleos can use mashed cauliflower. 

Roasted Mushrooms with Creamy Polenta | Seeds and Sprouts

Besides the bit of cheese in this dish, there’s not a whole lot of protein – although there’s more than you’d think – and that puts some people off. I was fine with a lower-protein dinner today, because I just wanted a light meal and had already had plenty of protein earlier in the day. For those who want more protein, it would be easy to throw in a couple handfuls of chickpeas (canned and rinsed) into the mushroom mixture before cooking. This also makes a great side dish, accompanied with marinated tofu, white fish, or chicken – whatever’s your thing. 

I used fresh thyme here, but feel free to use whatever herbs you have on hand. Rosemary would be great – I may try that next time I make this. What I love about this meal (besides that it’s super easy) is that it really lets the flavors of all the ingredients shine. Since everything is prepared so simply, you can really savor the earthy mushrooms, fresh thyme, tangy lemon, and sharp parmesan. This meal drew enthusiastic compliments even from those who claim to be “meh” on mushrooms. 

Roasted Mushrooms with Creamy Polenta | Seeds and Sprouts


Roasted Mushrooms with Creamy Polenta
For the Polenta
  1. 3/4 cup dried polenta
  2. 4 cups water
For the Mushrooms
  1. 1 lb mushrooms (I used a blend of cremini and baby bella, but use whatever you like)
  2. 1 lemon
  3. 1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  4. 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  5. Extra virgin olive oil
  6. Salt and freshly ground pepper
For the Polenta
  1. Bring 4 cups of water to boil in a medium saucepan. Once boiling, slowly add the polenta while whisking vigorously. Keep whisking for a few minutes, or until the grains no longer settle to the bottom of the pan. Keep on low heat, stirring every couple of minutes for about 30 minutes. It will appear to be done before that; however, by cooking it longer the product will be softer, creamier, and far less meal-y. Add extra water if it begins to dry. Before serving, season with salt, pepper, a dash of olive oil, and a bit of leftover thyme and parmesan from the mushrooms.
For the mushrooms
  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. In a large bowl, combine the zest from the lemon and thyme. Add enough olive oil so that the consistency is liquid, about 1/4 cup. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. After rinsing the mushrooms and slicing them, add the mushrooms to the bowl and toss until the coating is evenly distributed.
  3. Cover a large pan with parchment paper, and add the mushroom mixture to the pan. Arrange the mushrooms so that they are in a single layer. Roast for about 10 minutes, or until fragrant and shrunken. Sprinkle on the parmesan, and return to the oven for about 5 minutes. When done, remove from the oven and serve on top of polenta, garnishing with extra parmesan if desired.
  1. Calories - 372. Fat - 27g (Saturated Fat - 5g. Monounsaturated Fat - 18g. Polyunsaturated Fat - 2g.). Carbs - 26g (Dietary Fiber - 4g. Sugars - 3g.). Protein - 11g.
This meal is a good source of the following nutrients
  1. Potassium (15% DRV), Vitamin C (12% DRV), and Calcium (14% DRV)
Special Diets
  1. This dish is naturally gluten free. To make it paleo, simply substitute mashed cauliflower or another paleo base for the polenta. To make it vegan, omit the parmesan cheese, perhaps garnishing with nutritional yeast at the end.
Adapted from Simple Provisions
Adapted from Simple Provisions
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Roasted Beet & Quinoa Veggie Burgers | Seeds and Sprouts

Roasted Beet and Quinoa Veggie Burgers

Veggie burgers get a bad rap. We vegetarians, vegans, and general plant-eaters are accustomed to a regular smattering of jokes at our expense (“don’t worry, this cow died of natural causes”) , well-meaning yet uneducated concerns (“but what about your protein?!?”), teasing (“just one little bite won’t hurt!”), and just plain sneers from those in our lives with distinctly different eating habits. And that’s okay. It really is. But I think veggie burgers get more than their fair share of teasing and snide comments, and I feel morally obligated to stick up for them. 

You see, it’s not the veggie burgers’ fault – they’re just always in the wrong place at the wrong time. They’re usually brought out at BBQs, where they stick out like a sore, green thumb in a sea of animal products. Everyone gets really jazzed about grilling up their meat, and the poor veggie burgers are looked upon as impostors, trying to masquerade as something they’re not. 

Roasted Beet & Quinoa Veggie Burgers | Seeds and Sprouts

Allow me to begin my defense of the veggie burger. First of all, they’re not trying to masquerade as a “real” burger – at least the kind I like the most don’t. That’s why meat burger-lovers shouldn’t feel threatened by them: they exist in two totally different categories. I don’t even like eating my veggie burgers with buns – although many do – so in that case, I guess its definition as a burger at all is a little hazy. 

Now, that being said, these particular burgers – and the reason I think they’re among the best ones out there – embody all the highlights of a juicy beef burger (while still being 100% vegan, mind you). The quinoa and crushed black beans provide the foundation for a chewy, ground meat-esque texture. The smoked paprika and well-done onions add a smoky flavor not often often found in vegetarian dishes. Most importantly, the beets lend a juiciness that is lamentably lacking in most veggie burgers (not to mention, they provide a positively gorgeous color). 

Roasted Beet & Quinoa Veggie Burgers | Seeds and Sprouts

These babies have been a runaway hit with everyone I’ve made them for – including those who “hate beets” – I promise, these don’t have an overwhelming beet taste! They’re insanely flavorful, while balanced enough to serve most any purpose, whether wedged between two buns with a slice of melted cheese, topped with an egg, or – my favorite – served over mixed greens with a few slices of avocado on top. 

Roasted Beet and Quinoa Veggie Burgers
  1. 3 large red beets
  2. 1 1/3 cups quinoa, cooked
  3. 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp olive oil or melted coconut oil
  4. 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  5. 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 2 tbsps apple cider vinegar
  7. 1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats or oat flour (use gluten-free oats if necessary)
  8. 2 cans black beans
  9. 1/4 cup prunes, chopped
  10. 1 tbsp flax meal
  11. 3 tbsp water
  12. 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
  13. 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  14. 2 tsps brown mustard
  15. 1 tsp cumin
  16. 1/2 tsp coriander
  17. 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  18. Salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Roast the beets - wrapped loosely in aluminum foil - until they are tender and can be easily pierced with a fork, about an hour. Set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a teaspoon of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until very well done - after about 10-12 minutes, the onions should be golden and just beginning to blacken. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Then, add the vinegar to deglaze. Stir the onions around, scraping the bottom of the skillet to pick up all the burnt bits - these will be key to adding the smoky flavor later. Set aside to cool.
  3. If using old fashioned oats, process them in a food processor until they are formed into a fine flour. Set aside.
  4. Drain and rinse the cans of beans. Place half of them in the food processor along with the prunes and pulse until chopped - but not so much that they become a paste. Place them in a large bowl, along with the rest of the (whole) beans.
  5. Peel the roasted beets, once they've cooled. You'll likely only need a spoon, the skin should come off easily. Grate the beets, and strain the gratings in the sink. Use a paper towel to press out as much excess moisture as possible. Once dried, add the beets to the beans in the large bowl.
  6. In a small bowl, mix together the flax meal with 3 tbsps water. This makes a "flax egg", and it'll help the burgers to stay together better. Let the mixture sit in small bowl for a few minutes to form a gel. Meanwhile, add the quinoa and onions to the beets and beans. Add the oil, smoked paprika, mustard, cumin, coriander, and thyme: mix well to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Then, add oats and flax egg, and mix well.
  7. Allow the mixture to refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours - overnight works well too. Then, form burgers with your hands - you should end up with about 8 large burgers.
  8. Heat a heavy skillet - such as a cast iron - with a bit of oil over medium-high heat. You'll want the heat to be relatively high so that the burgers form a delicious crust. Once the skillet is hot, sear the burgers - it should take about 4 minutes on each side.
  9. Serve on hamburger buns, over a salad, or even just snack on them alone!
  1. Calories - 209. Fat - 3g (Monounsaturated - 2g; Polyunsaturated - 1g). Carbs - 37g (Dietary Fiber - 9g; Sugars - 6g). Protein - 9g.
  2. Excellent source of dietary fiber and iron, providing 34% DRV for dietary fiber and 21% DRV for iron.
  1. The uncooked burgers will keep in the fridge for about a week. These burgers also freeze beautifully: just form the patties and wrap them individually - then, they're ready to defrost for a quick meal!
Adapted from The Kitchn
Adapted from The Kitchn
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Roasted Beet & Quinoa Veggie Burgers | Seeds and Sprouts

Avocado Pops | Seeds and Sprouts

Avocado Pops

This post encompasses a hybrid of two of my favorite things to eat. First and foremost, we have avocados. I know, putting avocados into a dessert sounds blasphemous to those without a cult-like passion for the fruit, but keep in mind that avocados are just that: fruit! Cultures south of the border have been using avocados in sweet dishes for ages, and I personally am totally in favor of hopping aboard that delicious train. 

The other thing I love in this recipe is the fact that these are popsicles. Summertime in my kitchen means popsicles, popsicles, and more popsicles. The molds are inexpensive, and once you have them, you’re in store for desserts that require no heat (ideal for sticky weather) and are virtually goof-proof. Just mix up a few sweet ingredients and freeze ‘em in the molds, and they can’t be bad. 

Avocado Pops | Seeds and Sprouts

I got the idea to make avocado pops after having an avocado paleta from Nashville’s paleta place, Las Paletas. It was creamier than a fudge pop, just the right amount of sweet, and with a distinct avocado flavor that completely harmonized with the rest of the paleta. Don’t knock it ’til you try it: if you like guacamole in your burrito bowl, you’ll love this. 

I love a cold sweet treat at the end of a summer day, and there’s a lot less guilt involved with these pops than with ice cream; I know exactly what’s in them, and it’s usually just a mix of fruit and either coconut milk or yogurt. If you haven’t invested in a set of popsicle molds yet, dixie cups work really well – just tear off the paper cups when you’re ready to eat.  Soon, you’ll be a believer in avocado desserts, too: welcome to the club. 

Avocado Pops | Seeds and Sprouts


Avocado Pops
  1. 1 1/2 large ripe avocados
  2. 1/2 cup light coconut milk (the canned kind)
  3. 2 heaping tablespoons honey
  4. 1 tablespoon lime zest
  5. pinch of pink himalayan salt
  1. Blend all ingredients together, either by hand or in a blender. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze until hard, or about 5-6 hours.
  1. Calories - 183. Carbs - 18g. Sugars - 11g. Fat - 13g. Protein - 2g. Sodium - 22g.
Adapted from Brook & Lyn
Adapted from Brook & Lyn
Seeds and Sprouts
Lentil + Quinoa Love Sandwich | Seeds and Sprouts Blog

Lentil + Quinoa Love Sandwich

There’s a salad + sandwich place in Cape Town that’s wildly popular – even Michelle Obama ate there on her visit. It’s called The Kitchen, and it features fresh, plant-based dishes – no wonder the health-conscious first lady ate there! When I first tasted one of their “Love Sandwiches,” I immediately knew it had to be first on my list of meals to recreate when back in the states. It’s so simple, and yet it was one of my favorite things I ate while abroad.

Vegetarians and vegans out there know that a great veggie sandwich is a lot harder to find than a great meaty sandwich. Since it’s often easier to make a salad with greens and grains, I rarely make sandwiches anymore (unless it’s a grilled cheese, mmm…). The only problem is, sandwiches are just so perfect for days when you need to pack lunch and eat it on the go. I also think of sandwiches as a kind of comfort food, reminding me of the PB&J sandwiches I devoured daily growing up. 

Lentil + Quinoa Love Sandwich | Seeds and Sprouts Blog

This sandwich contains some key ingredients stereotypically found in healthy, vegetarian – dare I say hipster – foods: quinoa, goat cheese, pesto, and avocado. Hummus and roasted red peppers would be two excellent additions, in my opinion. The variations are endless: the main ingredient is the quinoa and lentil cakes that serve as the “meat”. Once you have those on hand, just pile them in with your favorite ingredients over the freshest, nuttiest bread you can get your hands on, and you’ll be in for a real treat. 

Lentil + Quinoa Love Sandwich
  1. 2 slices of your favorite bread
  2. 2 quinoa cakes, warm or room temperature (see separate recipe)
  3. 2 slices of eggplant, seared in a cast iron skillet or roasted (warm or room temperature)
  4. 1/3 of an avocado, sliced
  5. Small handful of mixed greens
  6. About a tablespoon of goat cheese
  7. About a teaspoon of basil pesto
  1. Lightly toast bread, if desired. Spread basil pesto on one piece, and the goat cheese on the other. Place the quinoa cakes on one slice of bread, followed by eggplant and avocado slices. Top with mixed greens and the remaining slice of bread.
Special Diets
  1. Vegan - this sandwich can be made vegan by substituting hummus in for the goat cheese, and using flax seed meal in place of eggs in the lentil + quinoa patties
  2. Gluten Free - this sandwich is gluten free as long as you use gluten free bread, and gluten free oats in the lentil + quinoa recipe
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The Big Kale Smoothie | Seeds and Sprouts Blog

Kale, lemon + ginger smoothie

I love green smoothies in the morning. There’s nothing like the sound of the blender, the smell of lemon, and the kick of ginger and cayenne to wake me up in the morning. In fact, I never feel the need to drink coffee when I begin my morning with a smoothie. 

The exact contents of my morning smoothie largely depend on what’s in my fridge. Some days I rely heavily on a few ingredients if that’s all I have, but my favorite smoothies incorporate a large variety of ingredients.

The Big Kale Smoothie | Seeds and Sprouts Blog

Even though my smoothies vary, I still follow a basic formula for them:

  • 2 cups leafy greens. I almost always use kale, but you can use spinach or any other dark leafy green, or a combination.
  • Banana. I always include a banana to add creaminess and substance. Frozen ones make the drink colder (I suppose that’s obvious), but I usually forget and just use a plain ol’ banana. 
  • Fruit. More fruit to add sweetness – I usually use half a large apple, or a cup of frozen fruit. You can even use half an avocado if you’re feeling particularly crazy.
  • Liquid. We’ll need one cup of liquid – it can be water, milk, or a combination of the two. I usually do half coconut milk, half water. 
  • Extras – make the veggies taste good! I add in a bit of cucumber and a stalk of celery if I have them on hand – they add nice flavor and some extra liquid. Other add-ins in my repertoire include juice from half a lemon, a bit of ginger, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, turmeric, and fresh parsley.

The Big Kale Smoothie | Seeds and Sprouts Blog

Everything in this smoothie packs a big nutritional punch. Because it contains so many superfoods, this is a good breakfast to start the day fresh and “reset” after an indulgence. For example:

  • Kale is just about the most nutritionally dense food out there, because it contains a crazy amount of essential nutrients such as iron, vitamin K, and calcium while still containing very few calories.
  • Besides containing a ton of potassium, bananas help regulate blood sugar (so you won’t crash mid-morning) and help your body produce the feel-good neurotransmitter, serotonin.
  • The fat in the coconut milk helps to raise good (HDL) cholesterol; in addition, the magnesium helps regulate blood pressure.
  • The high vitamin C content in lemons not only boosts the immune system, but also helps the body absorb all the other nutrients efficiently. Lemons also help balance the body’s pH system, resulting in a wide variety of benefits from preventing bone loss to warding off UTI’s. 
  • The rich vitamins and minerals found in parsley are excellent at strengthening the immune system and healing the nervous system.
  • Ginger also helps with vitamin and mineral absorption; it also is great at clearing up sinus congestion.
  • Cayenne helps with digestion and boosts metabolism.
  • Cinnamon helps lower blood sugar and bad (LDL) cholesterol. 
  • Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is a powerful anti-inflammatory and has also been shown to have cancer prevention properties
Kale, lemon + ginger smoothie
  1. 2 cups kale (or other leafy green vegetable)
  2. 1 banana, broken into pieces (fresh or frozen)
  3. 1/2 apple, chopped, OR 1 cup frozen fruit (I used mango)
  4. 1 celery stalk, chopped
  5. 1/4 of a large cucumber, with peel, chopped
  6. Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  7. 1/2 inch of ginger root, peeled and chopped
  8. Several sprigs of parsley
  9. Sprinkle each of turmeric, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper
  10. 1/2 cup milk (coconut or almond are best, or simply use more water)
  11. 1/2 cup water
  12. small pinch of pink himalayan salt and black pepper
  1. Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth.
  1. Calories - 275; Carbs - 60g; Sugar - 31g; Fat - 3g
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lentil quinoa cakes 1

Lentil + Quinoa Cakes

I’m baaack! After an indescribable 5 months abroad in South Africa, I’m finally back in the USA and ready to get back in the kitchen. It’s time to jump into summer after weathering through the beginnings of a harsher-than-expected South African winter, and for me that means veggies, veggies, and more veggies! While I loved my South African food, after months of indulging in samosas, rotis, Nando’s, and the weekly Old Biscuit Mill binge (anyone who’s been to Cape Town knows what I mean), I was thrilled to hit up the old farmer’s market and fill up on some greens.

lentil quinoa cakes 2

Today, I made a big batch of these lentil quinoa cakes, inspired by a dish I had while abroad. While at the aforementioned Old Biscuit Mill – a Saturday morning paradise filled with stands of local businesses selling brunch goods – I devoured the best sandwich of my life. The ‘meat’ of the sandwich was a delicious lentil and quinoa creation. Call it a cake, burger, patty, I don’t care: it was delicious. I recreated the sandwich here – and I did not disappoint my memory.  

lentil quinoa cakes 3

I’ve made a variety of veggie cakes in the past, and I love them because they’re wonderfully versatile. These lentil and quinoa patties are no exception. You can top one with a poached egg, throw a few on a salad, add bread and make it a sandwich, or make a yogurt-based sauce to dip some in. The possibilities are endless, and non-vegetarians tend not to feel as if they’re missing out on meat. Today, I ate them over mixed greens tossed with lemon and olive oil for a delicious lunch. 

With and iron-rich lentils and quinoa high in protein and fiber, the cakes are incredibly satisfying and keep me going for hours without growing hungry. One recipe makes a lot of little patties, so I’m looking forward to finding ways to gobble these up all week long!

Lentil quinoa cakes 4

Lentil Quinoa Cakes
  1. 1 cup dried green or brown lentils
  2. 1 tsp ground turmeric
  3. 1 tsp ground ginger
  4. 1 tsp ground cumin
  5. 1/2 tsp chili powder
  6. 1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed
  7. About 3 tbsp coconut oil (or other oil with a high smoke point, such as grape seed oil)
  8. 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  9. 2 garlic cloves
  10. 1/2 cup oats (or oat flour)
  11. 2 eggs, beaten
  12. 1 tsp each salt and pepper
  1. In a medium saucepan, add lentils, turmeric ginger, cumin, and chili powder to two cups water and bring to a boil. Let simmer until all the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. While the lentils simmer, add quinoa to a saucepan or rice cooker with 2 cups water and cook until all water is absorbed. Let both the lentils and the quinoa cool.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1/2 tbsp oil in a pan and sauté the garlic and onions until golden and tender. Remove from heat and let cool.
  3. If using oats, blend oats in a food processor on high speed to create a flour.
  4. When lentils have cooled, add them to the food processor and blend until only a few whole lentils remain. Add the lentils to a large bowl along with the quinoa. Add 2 tablespoons oat flour, eggs, salt and pepper. Stir until well-combined. If the mixture appears too wet, add more oat flour; if it appears too dry, add a bit more egg.
  5. Heat oil in a pan, preferably a cast iron skillet, over medium heat. With your hands, form patties by taking small handfuls, rounding the dough into balls, and flattening it out with your hands. Sprinkle both sides with remaining oat flour (this creates a nice crust). Sear the patties, letting them cook about 4-5 minutes on each side. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Special Diets
  1. Vegans can substitute each egg for one tablespoon of flax seed meal and 3 tablespoons water - just mix the flax seed meal and water together in a separate bowl and let sit for a minute or two before adding.
  2. To make this recipe truly gluten free (for those very sensitive to gluten), use oats or oat flour that are certified gluten free.
  1. Serving size: 2 small cakes. Calories: 234; Fat: 7.7g; Carbs: 32g; Protein: 11g
Adapted from MindBodyGreen
Adapted from MindBodyGreen
Seeds and Sprouts

Eggplant Tower

Eggplant Tower {with goat cheese, mushrooms, & beans}

There’s a coffee shop by my school that’s my go-to place for high-quality, inexpensive food. If you live in Nashville or watch the TV show, you’ve probably heard of Fido – I certainly didn’t discover it. My mom is the one who first told me about it; after helping me move in to my freshman dorm, she spent her evening there, sipping wine and relaxing with a book from the bookstore across the street. It’s typically packed with students and hipster Nashvillians, all gathering to grab cups of Instagram-worthy coffee.

Latte from Fido

When I go there for lunch or dinner, I nearly always get the same thing: the eggplant tower. It tastes like a deconstructed, sexier cousin of eggplant parmesan and features one of my favorite foods in the world: goat cheese. After nearly two months away from Nashville and from Fido, I decided to recreate the dish before I head off to Cape Town on Monday.

As with nearly everything I cook, I served the meal to three tough judges (plus one easy judge, who loves nearly everything I make). My mom, usually the most eager to try my cooking, despises eggplant. My dad and brother generally feel lukewarm towards my cooking, due to its distinct lack of meat. They all agreed upon a sole complaint about the meal: there wasn’t enough of it. They wanted more!

Eggplant Towers

I’ll admit that the portion size was on the smaller side – in the future, I would add a more substantial side dish like quinoa or simply make slightly more of the eggplant towers. But to be clear: this meal was eagerly gobbled down by a sworn eggplant hater and two men who denounce vegetarian dishes as rabbit food. Fido was definitely on to something.

The most important step in this recipe is drying out the eggplant with salt – that way, I avoided the soggy, rubbery texture eggplant sometimes takes on. With the moisture removed, the eggplant slices are blank palates, perfect vehicles for all the goodness that goes inside.

Roasted red onions

Beans, mushrooms, and garlic sauteed

The insides are layered with goat cheese, a bean and mushroom mixture, roasted red onions, and tomato sauce. I bought a high-quality jarred tomato sauce because I was feeling a bit lazy, but it would be even more fabulous with homemade sauce – I would recommend one with roasted red peppers in it.

Eggplant Tower

I’m still sad I won’t be returning to Nashville until August, but at least now I know I can replicate my favorite meal quite easily at home.

Eggplant Tower

Eggplant Tower {with goat cheese, mushrooms, & beans}

Yield: 4-5 servings

This irresistible eggplant tower is stuffed with cannellini beans, mushroom, goat cheese, red onions, and tomato sauce. Serve with a side salad for a light meal, or add an extra side for a more substantial meal.


  • 2 medium eggplants
  • kosher salt
  • 2 small-medium red onions, thinly sliced.
  • grapeseed oil (or another oil with a high smoke point)
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper, for seasoning
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 15-oz can cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp red wine (optional)
  • About 12 oz tomato sauce (1.5 cups)
  • 4 oz goat cheese


  1. Slice the eggplants into equal slices, about the width of your thumb. Place on a double layer of paper towels, and salt liberally with kosher salt - this dries out the eggplant to improve the texture. Let sit for at least 30 minutes. When finished, use a paper towel to wipe off the excess liquid and salt.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425F. Heat a skillet with oil and saute garlic until fragrant and lightly golden. Add mushrooms and cook until brown and tender, about 5 minutes. Add beans and season with oregano, paprika, red wine, salt, and pepper. Remove from heat and let sit.
  3. Toss sliced onions with grapeseed oil, salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet.
  4. When the eggplant is done drying out, brush sides with grapeseed oil and lightly season with salt and pepper. Place eggplant slices in a single layer on a baking sheet (or two, if necessary)
  5. Place both the eggplant slices and the onions in the oven. Remove the onions when they are soft slightly browned, about 12 minutes. After 15 minutes, flip the eggplant slices over and let roast for another 10-15 minutes. The slices should be golden and tender.
  6. Reduce oven heat to 375F. On a single baking sheet, make the eggplant towers. The first layer is a slice of eggplant. Then, crumble goat cheese on top. Add the bean and mushroom mixture, followed by a smattering of the onions. Top with a large spoonful of tomato sauce, and repeat the whole layer one more time. After completing the cycle the second time, top with a third eggplant slice. Finish off with another spoonful of tomato sauce and a few sprinkles of goat cheese. Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until heated through.
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Chocolate molten lava cake

Dark Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes {grain free}

I can never trust a person who says they don’t like chocolate. It’s just unnatural. How can a person not be tempted to indulge in the buttery and smooth, yet delightfully bitter flavor of chocolate? If you are one of these such people, I apologize if I’ve offended you, and you should probably stop reading this now – this recipe won’t interest you in the slightest.

Gluten free grain free clean eating dark chocolate molten lava cake recipe

For the rest of you sane people, carry on and learn about this delicious dessert. It’s so quick to make, you can whip it up when a chocolate craving strikes and it’ll be ready before the craving becomes unbearable. It’s so delicious, the first time I made it I forgot to add any butter or oil – and it still tasted fantastic.

That being said, I do recommend using some kind of fat – butter or oil – in this cake. Butter lends the best taste and texture, but coconut oil tastes equally sinful – the texture is just a bit dryer, less ‘lava-like’. To ameliorate the situation, try one of these three options:

  1. Use straight-up buttah. This is a treat, after all. Plus if it’s organic butter, you can feel a little better about it.
  2. Use coconut oil. Convince yourself that this dessert is so healthy that you could really have it every night if you wanted. Cook it for a little less time to keep it nice and lava-y.
  3. Use half oil, half butter. This is what I do for most baked goods – that way, you get the best of both worlds.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

To serve this up on a plate and make it look fancy-shmancy, grease the bowl, mug, or whatever you cook the lava cake in with coconut oil or butter, than coat with cocoa powder. This will keep it from sticking and looking like a (literal) hot mess when you try to flip it out. For me, that takes too much patience and effort – I can’t let it cool for more than a few minutes before I grab an oven mitt and eat it hot from the oven. Whichever method you choose, be sure to eat it soon after it comes out of the oven – otherwise it will just be a chocolate cake, sans lava.

One more note – when choosing chocolate, spend a few extra dollars if you can to support brands that do not use child slave labor. ‘Organic’ labels usually aren’t enough to guarantee that your chocolate is slave-free – look for additional labels such as ‘Rainforest Alliance’ and ‘Fair Trade’; the best chocolates are those that say ‘bean-to-bar’ or ‘Direct Trade’. If you’re interested in learning more, read this helpful article.

Dark Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes {grain free}

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 2-3 servings

While it would be a stretch to say that any chocolate cake is healthy, this one comes close. Gluten free, grain free, and vegan, this dessert is a sweet treat for people of all lifestyles - and even those without any dietary restrictions won't be able to tell the difference.


  • 4 oz dark chocolate (75% or more)
  • 5 tbsps butter or coconut oil (or half of each), plus extra for greasing ramekins
  • 4 tsps coconut flour
  • 2 tsps cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 2 organic eggs
  • 2 organic egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup honey or maple syrup


  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Grease ramekins with coconut oil or butter, then dust with cocoa powder.
  2. Using a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter/coconut oil together. Once melted, set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix together the coconut flour, cocoa powder, and sea salt.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, and honey/maple syrup.
  5. Add the egg mixture and the chocolate mixture to the dry ingredients. Using a rubber spatula, fold the ingredients together until incorporated. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes to allow the coconut flour to absorb some of the liquid.
  6. Divide the batter equally into the ramekins. Bake for 9-12 minutes, or until the edges are firm but the liquid is still quite jiggly. Let sit to slightly cool for 2-3 minutes. Either eat out of the ramekin (be careful, the ramekin will be hot!) or, using an oven mitt, flip the ramekin over and serve the cake on a plate.


This recipe is naturally gluten free and grain free. To make it vegan, be sure to use coconut oil and/or vegan butter as the fat, and maple syrup or another natural vegan sweetener rather than honey.

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Recipe adapted from Healing Cuisine by Elise

Chocolate molten lava cake


Spiced lentils with creamy polenta

Indian Spiced Lentils with Creamy Polenta

Like a lot of vegetarians, rice and beans is a staple of my diet. Although the variations of dishes I can whip up with rice and beans is seemingly endless – and mostly quite delicious – every once in a while I need to give my old stand-by a break. Today, I wanted something with an extra kick, something to wake up my taste buds and get me out of my rut. Enter: Indian-spiced lentils.

Cinnamon, cloves, and cumin

I love making meals inspired by foreign cuisines. I’m familiar with the scents that accompany my traditional American fare, so switching up my routine is a nice jolt to the system – it’s a similar feeling to walking a different route to work or class than usual; it keeps the brain alive and curious.

Traditionally, lentils like this would be served over basmati rice, or perhaps with some naan. Today, though, I’ve been missing the city that’s become my second home – Nashville. It was there that I first tasted the creamy deliciousness that is grits, so I decided to whip up some polenta: Italy’s version of grits.

Indian spiced lentils

Making polenta is similar to making rice, with a  few tricks to getting the perfectly creamy – not gritty – texture.

  • The ratio. I use 5 cups of water: 1 cup dry polenta. Once the polenta is fully cooked, it will firm up if left to cool. to avoid this while waiting for the rest of the meal to finish up, I just keep the heat on low and keep adding a bit of water as needed to prevent it from drying up.
  • Get off to a good startOnce the water is boiling, gradually add the dry polenta while constantly whisking the water. Continue to whisk for a few minutes, or until the mixture is thickened and the polenta doesn’t settle to the bottom when you stop whisking. After that, whisk for a few seconds about once every minute.
  • Keep going. After about 20 minutes, the polenta will likely look done. It’s not. It’ll taste fine,  but after an extra 15-20 minutes it will be utterly smooth and creamy. Cook it for no less than 30-40 minutes – your taste buds will thank you.

Spiced Lentils with Creamy Polenta

Indian Spiced Lentils

Yield: 6 servings

Warm and flavorful with just the right kick of spice, these lentils are sure to delight the tastebuds - and they're easy enough to whip up on a weeknight.


  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 1-inch pieces of cinnamon stick
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsps fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tbsps fresh lime juice


  1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add cinnamon sticks, cloves, and cumin seeds and saute for a few minutes, until fragrant.
  2. Add ginger and garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add water, salt, turmeric, and paprika; bring to a boil.
  3. Add lentils and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until water is absorbed and lentils are tender, about 20 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and let stand. Remove cloves and cinnamon sticks. Mix in cilantro and lime juice, and serve over a grain such as rice, naan, or polenta.
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Recipe adapted from epicurious