side dish

Roasted Acorn Squash with Herb Dressing

Winter squashe might be one of my favorite things about the fall. Aren't they just so delicious?

You can't ever go wrong with a baked squash of any kind. This recipe here is a simple go-to of mine that takes little preparation and packs a lot of flavor. 

What's best about winter squash varieties is that they are super nutritious. They are high in antioxidants (hence their bright color), contain fiber, and have good amounts of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron.

Squash is meant to be comforting on all levels for this time of year. Get cooking! 

 

Ingredients

Roasted Acorn Squash:

1 acorn squash

1-2 Tablespoon coconut oil, melted, enough to coat squash

Pinch of sea salt and black pepper

 

Herb Dressing:

½ cup parsley, finely chopped

½ cup cilantro, finely chopped

¼ cup basil, finely chopped

½ - 1 cup extra virgin olive oil, enough to cover herbs

Juice of ½ lemon

Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Pinch of chili flakes, to taste

 

giosquash_5.jpg

Procedure

To cook squash:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Cut squash in half from top to bottom. Scrape out seeds with a spoon and save (you can toast them or blend in smoothies). Cut into ¾-inch thick half moons.
  3. Toss squash with coconut oil, sea salt, and black pepper on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  4. Spread out evenly and bake for about 30 minutes, turning at 15 minutes, until squash is soft in the middle.

To make dressing:

  1. Place finely chopped herbs in a small bowl.
  2. Add olive oil slowly while whisking. Add enough olive oil to cover and create a dressing-like consistency that can be poured.
  3. Season with lemon juice, sea salt, black pepper, and chili flakes until you reach desired taste.
  4. Serve cooked squash and drizzle herb dressing over it.

Serves 2-3

This recipe was created for Oh My Drifter and photographed by the lovely Micaela

Spiced Sweet Potato Wedges + Avocado Superfood Dip

Spiced sweet potatoes featured image

There's something about sweet potatoes. Don't you love them? I do! Sweet potatoes are the healthy alternative to regular potatoes because they actually pack a punch of essential vitamins and minerals. They are anti-inflammatory and help balance blood sugar. The words 'yams' and 'sweet potatoes' are often interchangeable. They are actually two different vegetables, but are both great options.

Staying clear of all whites is always best (white breads, flours, sugars, etc.), but there is an exception... Japanese sweet potatoes. They are white-light yellow inside and have a purple skin. These are actually the most nutrient dense of all sweet potatoes. So enjoy your sweet potatoes/yams, especially the Japanese ones!

Spiced Sweet Potato Wedges

Ingredients

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges (I used yam & Japanese sweet potato)

2 Tablespoons melted coconut oil

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon turmeric

Pinch of cayenne

Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Place sweet potato wedges in an oven safe dish.
  3. Combine coconut oil and spices in a small bowl and drizzle over potatoes. Mix to coat well.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until tender. Turn broiler on towards the end if you want them crispy.
  5. Serve with avocado superfood dip (recipe below).
Spiced sweet potatoes

Avocado Superfood Dip

Ingredients

1 ripe avocado

2 Tablespoons raw tahini

1 teaspoon spirulina (I use HealthForce brand)

1 teaspoon raw honey

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2 cup water, or to desired consistency

Procedure

  1. Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Garnish with fresh herbs and enjoy.

What's your favorite way to eat sweet potatoes? Share your creations and recipes below or on social media with #apurifiedlife

Cozy Winter Vegetable Sauté

AsianWinterVegetableSautee FeaturedImage

I just can't get enough butternut squash and sweet potatoes this winter season. Who's with me? I like preparing meals that pack a punch of flavor and don't take hours to make. It's surprisingly easy to do so when using seasonal vegetables, herbs, and spices.

This can be made as an entree, side dish, or snack. You can enjoy with a side of hummus and crackers as a filling meal like I did (pictured below), or with anything else you please.

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil

1 clove garlic, minced

2-inch piece ginger, minced

3 green onions, sliced

1 butternut squash, peeled and diced

1 1/2 cups oyster mushrooms, coarsely chopped

1 bunch baby bok choy, ends removed

1 Tablespoon coconut aminos - Coconut Secret

Pinch of sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Pinch of dried chili flakes, to taste

Juice of 1/2 lemon, plus lemon wedges to serve

AsianWinterVegetableSautee

Procedure

  1. Heat coconut oil in a large pan. Add garlic, ginger, and green onion and sauté for a few minutes.
  2. Add diced butternut squash, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes, until tender but not mushy.
  3. Add mushrooms, baby bok choy, coconut aminos, and spices.  Cover to cook until greens have wilted. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  4. Serve and garnish with chopped herbs and lemon wedges.

Serves 4-6

 

Enjoy and share if you try this dish. What's your favorite quick and flavorful meal?

x,

Giovanna

Miso-Glazed Eggplant with Cauliflower 'Rice'

Miso eggplant featured image

Eggplant is one of my favorite vegetables, but one that I don't cook often for some reason. This recipe here took my taste buds to a whole other level of goodness. It's a great main or side dish for any dinner occasion. Treat yourself to this miso-glazed eggplant, you won't regret it.

Not only is it delicious, but eggplant has some pretty great health benefits:

  • High in fiber and potassium
  • Promotes hear health
  • Supports brain health

 

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons white or yellow miso (organic and non-GMO)

2 green onions, sliced

1 Tablespoon unrefined sesame oil

1 Tablespoon grade B maple syrup

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Pinch of black pepper

Pinch of red pepper flakes, optional

1 large eggplant, sliced to 1/2 inch thickness

 

Cauliflower 'Rice'

1 head cauliflower, roughly chopped

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Pinch of sea salt

 

Miso eggplant

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients, except eggplant, to make a sauce.
  3. Place eggplant on a baking dish and drizzle sauce over it. Use a spatula or spoon to coat eggplant well. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until cooked and tender.
  4. Cauliflower rice: place chopped cauliflower in a food processor and pulse until chopped into a rice consistency. Place in a large bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice and sea salt to taste. You may also cook it on the stove for a bit with coconut oil to warm it up and make it tender.
  5. When eggplant is done, serve over cauliflower rice and garnish with fresh herbs and seeds. Enjoy!

 

What's your favorite way to eat eggplant?

 

 

Summer Minty Gazpacho

minty gazpacho featured image

Perfect for a summer day. Gazpacho is also a great way to get in a variety of vegetables at once. The beauty of this recipe is that you can't go wrong with what ingredients you use. This is all I had on hand, but feel free to use any vegetables you'd like (still including tomatoes though). I would throw in some cauliflower and bell pepper, or broccoli, yum!

Ingredients

2 pounds ripe heirloom or early girl tomatoes, cores removed and roughly chopped

1 cucumber, roughly chopped

1 small red onion, peeled and roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves

2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Chili flakes, to taste

Sea salt, to taste

minty gazpacho

Procedure

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until combined, but leave chunks for texture. I use "pulse" setting instead of "process" setting to make sure not to over process. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  2. Plate and top with toppings of choice.

Serves 4

Enjoy! x

Cauliflower Mash

Cauliflower mash featured image

Cauliflower is often an underestimated. It seems like such a plain vegetable, yet it's loaded with nutrients and health benefits. Nutritional Highlights of Cauliflower:

  • High in vitamin C - immune support, cardiovascular support
  • Rich in antioxidant phytonutrients - help lower the risk of developing different types of cancer
  • Vitamin K - highly anti-inflammatory
  • Sulphur - anti-inflammatory, shown to kill cancer stem cells, helps detoxification
  • Vitamin B6 & Choline - two B vitamins important for brain health
  • Fiber - aids digestion

 

Cauliflower mash

 

This side dish has been one of my go-to's at home lately. My personal chef clients love it as well. It's comforting and doesn't leave you feeling stuffed. It makes a great dairy-free and low-carb alternative to mashed potatoes, especially for those watching their weight. It even tastes better, in my opinion.

I make a batch at the beginning of the week and then sauté or roast a ton of vegetables to go with it. Great for lunch, dinner, or snack.

Ingredients 

1 Tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil

1 yellow onion, sliced

1 large head cauliflower, chopped

1-2 cloves garlic, mashed

1/4 - 1/2 cup water

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil (melted)

Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Fresh herbs such as chives, parsley, or cilantro to garnish (optional)

Procedure

  1. Heat coconut oil in a large pan or pot. Add onion and sauté over medium heat until slightly softened, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add chopped cauliflower, garlic, and water (enough water to cover the bottom of the pan). Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and turn down heat to low. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally and checking to make sure there is still liquid at the bottom of the pan. If water has evaporates, add a little more. Steam until cauliflower is slightly tender.
  3. Remove from the heat and place in a food processor or high-speed blender. Season with oil, sea salt, and black pepper. Blend until it reaches mashed potato consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning. Mix in herbs at this time if desired, or garnish with them.

Note: If you do not have a food processor or high-speed blender, you may mash cauliflower with a potato masher. Cauliflower might need to be cooked a bit more to make it easier.

Serves 2-4

What's your favorite way to prepare cauliflower?

 

 

 

Dairy Alternatives + Cashew Cream Recipe

Cashew cream feature image

Like most foods, dairy has it's controversies. Is it good or bad? If you Google 'dairy and health' you will find thousands of articles supporting why it's good, and thousands supporting why it's bad. We grew up believing that milk is essential for bone health. Truth is, you don't need milk to be healthy nor to get these important nutrients that you would get from milk - calcium, potassium, and vitamin D. There are various reasons why one might omit dairy from their diet: being vegan, lactose-intolerant, paleo, casein sensitivity. Everyone has their own opinion on dairy, but my advice is: If you're going to have it, make sure it's good quality. Dairy isn't how it used to be anymore. It now comes packed with hormones and antibiotics. Reading the label is crucial when selecting dairy products. Learn what's in it and where it's coming from. Whatever it contains will be ingested into your body.

I personally don't include dairy in my diet because I am lactose intolerant. I may have it every now and then (about once a month), and when I do, I choose organic and local goat or sheep as they are easier to digest.

Aside from being a discomfort for those with lactose intolerance, dairy is acidic and can cause inflammation for anyone. This is why I suggest to consume in moderation, about 1-2 times per week, and get calcium from other nourishing and anti-inflammatory foods.

Non-dairy foods rich in calcium:

  • Sesame seeds (more than milk)
  • Spinach
  • Collard greens
  • Almonds
  • Broccoli
  • Sardines
  • Kale
  • Mustard greens
  • Beet greens
  • Turnip greens

Here are some healthy alternatives to dairy products:

  • Milk: coconut milk, almond milk, cashew milk, hemp milk, oat milk, flax milk - homemade milk is best to avoid preservatives and additives. Recipe for almond milk here.
  • Yogurt: coconut yogurt, chia pudding
  • Butter: coconut oil, ghee (clarified butter - free of dairy)
  • Ice cream: coconut ice cream, rice milk ice cream, blended frozen banana, thick smoothie. Try my vegan chocolate-coconut ice cream, it's delicious.
  • Cheese: cashew cream/cheese, nutritional yeast (sprinkle it on food for a cheesy taste)

One of my favorite dairy alternatives is cashew cream. It's simple to make and so delicious. Cashew cream can be used as a dip, spread, dressing, pasta sauce, pizza sauce/cheese, burger topping, and anything else you can think of.

Cashew cream

Ingredients

1 cup cashews, soaked in filtered water for at least 2 hours

1 clove garlic

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 cup water or vegetable broth (or less for thicker 'cheese')*

juice of 1/2 - 1 lemon

pinch of sea salt and black pepper

Optional flavorings: fresh rosemary, red chili flakes, fresh thyme leaves, dried herbs, nutritional yeast

Procedure

  1. Soak cashews anywhere from 2-4 hours. Drain and rinse.
  2. Place in blender with the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.

*The amount of water or broth you use will determine the consistency. Only use about 1/2 cup of water to get a more cheese-like consistency. Play around with liquid measurements and see what you like best.

What's your favorite dairy alternative? Please share in the comment section below. 

 

 

Balsamic-Glazed Brussels Sprouts

balsamic brussels featured image

I don't know about you, but I LOVE brussels sprouts. They are currently in season and I just can't get enough of them. There are various healthy ways to cook brussels sprouts. You can roast, sauté, steam, or shred them and use in a salad. I like to roast them and play around with different seasonings.

Balsamic-glazed has been my go-to lately because it's such a simple ingredient that gives them so much flavor. Throw these tasty brussels sprouts on a salad, on a bed of lentils or grains, have with chicken or fish, or have them as a snack.

Ingredientsbalsamic brussels sprouts

1 pound brussels sprouts

1/2 Tablespoon coconut oil, melted

2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar

pinch of sea salt and black pepper

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Remove outer layer of leaves from brussels sprouts and cut in half. Rinse and drain. Place in a baking dish and drizzle with melted coconut oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt and black pepper. Roast in oven for 15-25 minutes until tender, check at 10 minutes and give them a stir. Serve.

Serves 2-3

3 Minute Green Curry Sauce + Vegetable Curry Dish

curry sauce feature image

There are many many types of curry sauces out there. I like to keep mine simple, but flavorful. This sauce took me 3 minutes to make and goes great on vegetables, meats, whole grain, and on salads as dressing. I like to make a batch and use it different ways throughout the week. It keeps for about 5 days in the refrigerator. Below is a recipe for my curry sauce and a very simple and delicious vegetable curry side dish (or main dish with the addition of a good quality protein: raw nuts or seeds, grass-fed chicken, pasture-raised eggs, goat cheese).

Curry Sauce

Ingredients

1/2 white or yellow onion, coarsely chopped

1 can coconut milk

1/2 lemon, juiced

1 garlic clove

2 T organic curry powder

handful spinach or basil

sea salt and black pepper

Procedure

  1. Place all ingredients into blender and blend until smooth. The more greens you add, the greener the sauce will turn out and the flavor might change a bit. Play around with it and season to your liking.

vegetable curry dish

Vegetable Curry Dish

Ingredients

1 Tablespoon coconut oil

1 head cauliflower, chopped into bite size pieces

1/2 pound green beans, ends trimmed and halved

1 yellow squash, sliced and halved

sea salt

1/2 cup curry sauce, or more to coat all vegetables

Note: you can use any vegetables you'd like for this dish (carrots, cauliflower, zucchini, squash, sweet potatoes, green beans, broccoli, mushrooms)

Procedure

  1. Heat coconut oil in a medium-size pan. Add vegetables and a pinch of sea salt and sauté until tender, stirring occasionally. Add curry sauce to pan and continue cooking for a few extra minutes until vegetables are cooked through and sauce heats up.

Serves 4-6