A Good Standard Curry

This curry makes a great jumping off point for a whole world of sauces. It’s based on this British-style sauce from Great Curry Recipes, but with amped-up spices, since I just can’t help myself. I also turned it into a full vegetarian meal, and it was delicious

gluten-free, vegetarian

A Good Standard Curry

2 yellow onions

Neutral oil

4 cloves garlic

1/2 inch ginger

1 carrot

2 bell peppers

1.5 cups crushed tomatoes

2 Tbsp. + ghee

1 Tbsp. curry powder (your favorite style)

1 Tbsp. cumin

1 Tbsp. coriander

1 Tbsp. asofetida (fenugreek was called for in the original; I used what I had)

1 Tbsp. smoked paprika

1 Tbsp. turmeric

To turn this into a meal:

2-3 potatoes

1 carrot

1 can chickpeas

1 c. water

Lemon juice

Finishing salt

Basmati rice

Thinly slice your onions. Add to a medium- large pan over medium heat where you’ve heated enough oil to cover the bottom till slightly bubbly.

Fry about 20 minutes until really soft and clear with a little color.

While the onions are working, chop the peppers & carrot. Mince the ginger and garlic and make a paste out of them by crushing with the back of a knife or grinding in a mortar & pestle.

When the onions are ready, add the peppers and carrot. Fry 5 minutes to get working.

Add the ginger, garlic and all spices but the turmeric.

Add to tomatoes and enough water just to cover.

Simmer :30, and remove from the heat. Cool until safe to whiz.

Whiz to make a mostly smooth mixture.

Add the ghee to the pan over medium heat and fry the turmeric :30 – 1 minute to bloom. Add the sauce back into the pan and simmer over low for 20 – 30 minutes.

Now to turn this sauce into a meal.

Set the sauce aside, and add a Tablespoon of oil back into the pan. Chop and add the potatoes, second carrot, and can of chickpeas (drained). Let sauté a couple minutes to warm up a bit. I had intended on putting a little color on the chickpeas but I lost patience with life.

Add a cup or two of the sauce and 1 cup of water. Simmer :30, covered.

Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice and a liberal sprinkle of finishing salt over basmati rice.

The dinner portion serves 4 easily, with enough sauce leftover to make at least 1 more big meal

Note: This curry is unsalted on purpose. The original recipe was unsalted as well, and I think that’s a good idea since it’s supposed to be used as a base for additions. I’ll be taking this curry and adding some fire next meal – along with more peppers and a deeper taste with tomato paste.

Fresh Shakshouka

This version of shakshouka makes a great topper for crusty bread, uses a good blend of fresh + pantry ingredients – and makes a bonus second meal if you swirl some of your leftover sauce in with noodles.

It’s also DH approved, and he’s not a fan of skin-on tomatoes. He could live without the spinach, but we had greens and needed chlorophyll.

This would also be great with chickpeas for added protein and either scrambled or poached eggs/substitute cooked in the sauce. I wanted to keep my eggs separate to maximize leftovers. Scrambled soft tofu would be fantastic.

gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan, halal

Fresh Shakshouka

1 small jar fire roasted peppers in oil

2 hands cherry tomatoes

1 large onion

4 Tbsp. zaatar

1 Tbsp. smoked paprika

2 Tbsp. tomato paste

1/2 c. tinned tomatoes (I used crushed but use what you have)

2 tsp. sambal olek (this is my favorite)

1/2 c. parsley

Baby spinach

Eggs

Crusty bread

3 – 4 cloves garlic – 2-3 minced and 1 or 2 whole with the end sliced off

Thinly slice the onion and sauté on medium in 1 Tbsp. of the oil that comes from the jar of peppers until soft and lightly brown in spots.

Add the sambal and 2 – 3 cloves minced garlic. Sauté a minute or two more to meld together.

While that is working, remove the peppers from the oil and roughly chop.

Add the tomatoes and peppers and sauté until the tomatoes burst.

While the tomatoes are doing their thing, roughly chop the parsley, slice the bread into thick slices and drizzle with some of the pepper oil.

Broil the bread until your desired toast level has been reached. Remove from the oven and rub with the cut end of the reserved garlic clove. Set aside.

When the tomatoes have burst (with or without a little help), add the Zaatar, smoked paprika, salt & pepper. Stir to combine and let sauté a minute or so to meld.

Add the tomato paste, canned tomatoes, and half a cup of water. Bring up to a boil, reduce the heat, add the spinach + half the parsley on top, and simmer 7 – 8 minutes. As soon as that spinach wilts and can be thoroughly mixed in is the time to add eggs if you are cooking them like a traditional Shakshouka.

If you are not, fry your eggs separately in a little of the pepper oil to your desired doneness.

Serves 2 for a light dinner + makes enough sauce to be used for another night’s pasta

Basil Lime Pumpkin Salad

This is a surprisingly light tasting salad for having not only chewy pearl barley but roasted pumpkin. I think it’s the dressing and all the fresh spinach.

If you make extra dressing, and I suggest that you do – it pairs great with a more traditional salad, simple cold noodles, and even as a dip for chicken or shrimp. It’s delicious.

vegetarian, vegan

Basil Lime Pumpkin Salad

1 big wedge pumpkin or a butternut squash

Baby spinach

2 large scallions

1/2 cup basil

2 cloves garlic

4 Tablespoons lime juice

2 green chilis

1/2 cup pearl barley

1/2 cup stock

1.5 cups water

Olive oil

Neutral oil

Smoked paprika

Garlic powder

Cumin

Salt & pepper

Optional: crispy chickpeas (this is one of my favorite brands)

First, get your pumpkin and barley working.

Preheat your oven to 200C/375F and prepare a baking sheet.

Peel the pumpkin and chop into bite-sized pieces.

Toss with a few good glugs neutral oil and liberal sprinkles of the smoked paprika, garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper.

Roast 25 mins or until soft and your desired brownness is reached. I could have let mine go another 5 – 10 mins, but I was impatient so mine turned out soft and only a little browned.

Put the barley in your cooking vessel of choice with the stock and water + a liberal sprinkle of salt. If your stock doesn’t have any fat in it, a Tablespoon of olive oil is good here. Cook according to package directions. I cooked mine in a rice cooker by hitting the ‘rice’ button.

While both those are working, slice the scallions thin. Add half to your blender or food processor.

Add the spinach, basil, garlic cloves, lime juice, chilis (rough chopped and de-seeded if necessary), 5 Tablespoons olive oil, and liberal sprinkles salt and pepper. Whiz to combine, adding a few Tablespoons of water if your mixture is too dry for your appliance. I ended up adding about 3 Tablespoons.

Taste for seasoning and add more acid or salt if needed.

To assemble, toss the pumpkin and second half of the scallions together. Add the spinach and toss. Add the barley to the top while still warm to semi-wilt the spinach. Toss, adding the dressing halfway through.

Taste the whole mix together, adding any salt or pepper if necessary. I added a big sprinkle of finishing salt to mine. I also finished each serving with a generous sprinkle of crunchy spiced chickpeas. This salad makes an excellent chickpea delivery service. Bonus: added protein!

Makes enough to serve as a side for a party or for 4 for dinner

Sheet Pan Miso Bowl

This is a simple and quick sheet pan dinner with a nice, light taste for nights when you *want* some super unhealthy Japanese takeout, but don’t want a bunch of grease – or to wait for delivery.

gluten-free

Sheet Pan Miso Bowl

1.5 Tbsp. miso

1.5 Tbsp. brown sugar

1.5 Tbsp. date molasses (or a smaller amount of honey or other sugar)

3 Tbsp. soy sauce, tamari or coconut aminos

3 Tbsp. sesame oil

1 bell pepper

2 – 3 carrots

2 – 3 chicken breasts or other protein

Preheat your oven to 200C/375F and prepare a baking sheet.

Combine all the wet ingredients together, mashing the miso with the back of a spoon to break it up better. Set aside.

Chop the chicken, carrots and pepper into bite-sized pieces, placing all onto the prepared baking sheet.

Pour 2/3 of the sauce over top and toss well to combine.

Spread the chicken & veggies out in a single layer over the baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes or until cooked through.

Take the last third of the sauce, zap it in the microwave about 20 seconds to ensure the sugar is melted. Add a Tablespoon of water to thin the sauce a bit. Stir well to combine and toss with the cooked chicken & veggies before serving.

Serve with rice, cauli rice, noodles, or alone.

Serves 4

Roasted Veggie Pizza

This is a dead simple dinner that’s quick to prepare and easy to make in bulk for meal prepping.

It’s also healthy – according to my DH, *too* healthy, and can’t be classified as ‘pizza’. 😆 Call it a flatbread, then.

I was a big fan, and ended up eating the leftover hummus & veggies in a bunch of different ways throughout the week.

vegetarian, vegan

Roasted Veggie Pizza

Mixed veggies: I used a combo of zucchini, eggplant, peppers, carrots and onions

Hummus

Some sort of pizza base: I used bran pita, but naan would be great here, as would tortillas or pizza dough flats

Edamame, cooked and shelled

Black olives

Sun dried tomatoes

Red pepper flakes

Zaatar

Oil, salt & pepper

Preheat your oven to 200C/400F. Chop your veggies into bite-sized pieces, and arrange on a prepared baking sheet in a single layer.

Drizzle some oil over and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Toss to coat and spread back out in a single layer.

Bake 15 minutes, flip, and bake an additional 10 – 15 minutes or until your desired brownness is reached. Remove and set aside.

The rest is simple. Prep your edamame if it came shelled like mine did. Set aside.

To assemble, spread hummus out in a thin-ish layer on your flatbread like you would marinara on a pizza. Arrange your roasted veggies on top, adding a sprinkle of edamame, olives and sun dried tomato to Zhuzh up your pizza a bit.

Sprinkle spices over top.

Bake on a cookie sheet 10 minutes or until crisp. Pull and slice.

Serves a few

Vegan Tofu Enchiladas

This is another recipe that started off as a suggestion from an article on nutritionist’s favorite grab-n-go items at Trader Joe’s.

As the last recipe, 100% sure this doesn’t taste like TJ’s, but it’s good. Surprisingly good. I completely forgot that tofu makes a super easy and tasty scramble – but it does. And doesn’t stink like wet dog.

A note on this one: I loved it; DH did not. He gave it the good old college try, but made the ick face. Possibly at the black olives. I personally, if I were making this just for myself, would have doubled the olive amount. But I love black olives.

gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan

Vegan Tofu Enchiladas

1 block firm tofu, crumbled

1 small white onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, diced

1 bell pepper – any color – diced

2 tsp. neutral oil

1/4 c. black olives, diced

1 c. frozen corn kernels

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 Tbsp. smoky chipotle seasoning

Salt & pepper

6 small corn tortillas

1 jar of your favorite enchilada sauce

Preheat your oven to 400F/200C.

Sauté the garlic, onion and pepper in the neutral oil over medium heat until softened.

Add the crumbled tofu, black olives, frozen corn and spices. Sauté until the mixture looks cooked and is well combined.

Carefully wrap filling in corn tortillas, flipping seam side down so they hopefully don’t burst apart – my dish held 6 comfortably, and I had a little leftover innards, which I sprinkled down the side. I *also* had at least 2 that completely came apart, but that’s neither here nor there.

Coat your hopefully not-disaster in a nice concealing layer of enchilada sauce. I dumped the jar out and then kinda smoothed the sauce out as much as possible.

Bake 20 minutes or until your desired brownness is achieved.

Serves 2 for dinner + 1 for lunch

Mexican Flag Vegan Tacos

Why Mexican Flag? Something about the green, white and red just makes me happy with this recipe. I had also forgotten how much I actually enjoy frozen corn kernels, so this was a great opportunity to indulge in a bunch of that.

I also served this mixture as a topper for some pearl barley a few nights later, and it was also awesome. This would make a great topper for pastas or roasted potatoes for a crowd if you want to stretch the ingredients.

gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan

Mexican Flag Vegan Tacos

8 oz. sliced mushrooms (I used crimini)

1 small white onion

1-3 red peppers (I used about 1/4 of a cup of long semi-hot peppers), diced

1-3 green peppers, diced (I used about 1/4 of a cup of a mix of hot and semi-hot peppers)

1 c. frozen corn

1/4 c. cilantro, chopped

1 tsp. oregano

2 Tbsp. smokey chipotle seasoning (or your fav. taco mix)

2 tsp. cumin

2 cloves garlic, minced

Neutral oil

Juice of 1 lime

Taco fixins:

Raw breakfast radishes, chopped fine

Cherry tomatoes, at least halved

Choula

Your favorite tortillas

In your largest pan, heat 2 Tbsp. oil over medium high until shimmering. Add the corn and mushrooms and sauté until the corn defrosts and mushrooms start to look like they may cook.

Add all but 2 Tbsp. of the onion and the garlic and sauté until the mushrooms give off a bunch of liquid.

Add all but 1 Tbsp. of each color of the peppers plus the spices and sauté until the peppers are softened.

Taste for seasoning, adding more if necessary.

Kill the heat and mix in the cilantro, lime juice, reserved raw onion and reserved raw peppers.

Serve as tacos as pictured or as a topper for something else. The toppings make enough to serve 4 as a taco, and can stretch further if needed

Mushroom Pea Pasta

Yep, it’s the middle of January, and yep, I’m craving green things. This recipe is quick to put together, can be dressed up in a bunch of different ways, and keeps like a champ for leftovers.

gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian

Mushroom Pea Pasta

4 servings of your favorite pasta (I used a standard penne, but my favorite rice fusilli would be great here and chickpea or paleo pastas would also be great – shiritaki would even work, if you’re keto or low carb)

8-12 ounces portobello mushrooms, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces

Neutral oil

Butter

2 Tbsp. fresh dill, chopped

2 Tbsp. fresh mint, chopped

1/4 c. fresh parsley, chopped

1 Avocado

1/2 c. frozen peas

1 c. frozen spinach

500g. protein of choice

Garlic powder

Onion powder

Nutmeg

Salt & pepper

Nutritional yeast (optional but adds a bit of a cheesy taste)

Set your pasta water (generously salted) to boil. Add the pasta and cook according to directions. Drain and set aside in a large bowl if ready before the rest of your ingredients.

While the pasta is working, brown your protein in a bit of neutral oil – season with salt and pepper and set aside in the large bowl.

To the pan, add your chopped mushrooms, 2 tsp. neutral oil and 2 tsp. butter. Sauté until the mushrooms are cooked through and a bit browned. Season with 1 Tbsp. garlic powder, 1 Tbsp. onion powder, salt & pepper.

While the mushrooms are going, defrost your peas & spinach.

Chop your herbs and avocado – chuck into the big bowl.

When the mushrooms are ready, add to the big bowl.

Add the peas & 1 tsp. neutral oil to the pan. Sauté until just beginning to brown. Add the spinach. Season with 1 Tbsp. garlic powder, 1 Tbsp. onion powder, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, salt & pepper. Sauté until the spinach is cooked through and the water has evaporated.

Add the green veg to the bowl.

Brown 2 Tbsp. butter in the pan and pour over the top of the pasta and veggies. Toss with 2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast.

Serve topped with more nutritional yeast if desired.

Serves 4

Roasted Squash & Barley Pilaf

This recipe is 100% inspired by one of my good friends & a master of all things philosophical, @Heidi. (It’s a NF forum thing)

I love her no-fuss approach to food and how she seeks meaning in what she uses to fuel her body.

This recipe is an interpretation of the flavor combinations she mentioned in a daily update post (I haven’t mentioned my fitness community lately, but if you’re looking for a great group of people to help give you a nudge going into 2021, check Nerd Fitness out).

I think we all need a little more @Heidi in our lives. For more reasons than that – hellooooo, badass.

Vegetarian, vegan

Roasted Squash & Barley Pilaf

1 cup Pearl barley (buckwheat groats would be a good gluten-free sub)

1 cup good stock

1 cup water

Big pinch salt

Good olive oil

Neutral oil

1 sprig rosemary

1/2 butternut squash

Curry powder

Large shallot

500g baby spinach

Garlic oil

1 tsp. oregano

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

Big hand full smoked almonds

Cook your barley with the stock, water and a generous pinch salt in a rice cooker or according to package directions.

Preheat your oven to 375F/200C. Prepare a baking sheet with a silicone mat or baking paper.

While the barley is working, peel your butternut, seed, and chop into roughly 1/2 inch cubes. Spread out on the prepared baking sheet, sprinkle liberally with neutral oil, salt, pepper and curry powder. Toss to combine. Bake 30-40 minutes or until nicely browned.

While those are going, set a medium pan over medium/medium-high heat. Spritz a couple of times with garlic oil. Rough chop a large shallot and add to the pan. Sautee until beginning to brown. Add some salt & pepper + the nutmeg and the spinach. Toss and cook until beginning to wilt.

When the barley is done, add the red wine vinegar, a finely chopped sprig of Rosemary (about 1Tbsp.), 1 tsp. oregano, and a couple glugs good olive oil. Stir to combine and gently fold in the squash & spinach.

Rough chop the almonds and use for garnish.

If you’ve got figs or pomegranate seeds (or both!) they would make fantastic additions. Finishing salt would also not go amiss.

Subsequent reheats are great with a fresh splash of vinegar and a touch extra fat to bring everything together. A shake of chili would also work well.

Serves 4 for dinner

Simple Korean-Style Bok Choy

This is a quick to put together and simple recipe with big payoff. So delicious, and just what my body needed mid holiday season.

I served mine with a bit of ground chicken; tofu would also be great here – the sauce would also make a fantastic tofu marinade for some oven-fried crispy tofu like this.

gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan

Simple Korean-Style Bok Choy

3 small bunches bok choy

2 cloves garlic

2 tsp. sugar

3 Tbsp. soy sauce, tamari or coconut aminos

1 Tbsp. rice vinegar

2 Tbsp. sesame oil

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

2 tsp. gochujiang

1/4 – 1/3 c. pine nuts

Sesame seeds for garnish

Sushi rice for serving

Thinly slice the bok choy, separating the bottoms from the leafy tops. Chuck the bottoms in a medium/medium-high pan. Mince and then add the garlic.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together the sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, oil, red pepper flakes, and gochujiang.

When the veggie bottoms are beginning to soften, add the pine nuts and sauté, stirring frequently, until the pine nuts are beginning to brown. Chuck the veggie tops in and stir.

Add the sauce and cook until the veggies are done to your liking and the sauce has been well incorporated.

Serve over a bowl of sushi rice and top with sesame seeds for a quick and light meal.

Serves 2 – 3