Vegetable Grain Medley with Sweet Balsamic, White Wine & Sun-dried Tomato Reduction

Last week, I got over my fear of piercings and decided to get a nose ring.

It wasn’t that bad.

Last night, I got over my fear of cooking Italian food.

It was momentous.

Vegetable Grain Medley

with Sweet Balsamic, White Wine & Sun-dried Tomato Reduction

(Serves 3-4)

•1 cup 365 brand Rice & Lentil Medley, dry (or grain of choice)

•2 cups water

•2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

•2 cloves garlic, minced

•1/4 white onion, diced

•1/3 cup white wine

•1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

•1 tbsp sundried tomatoes, finely chopped (I used preserves in oil)

•1/2 tbsp honey, if desired

•4 asparagus spears, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces

•1 large carrot, sliced

•1/4 zucchini, sliced into half-moons

•1/4 summer squash, sliced into half-moons

•2/3 large portabello mushroom, sliced into thin pieces

•1 handful spinach

•1/4 block of tofu, cubed (if desired)

•1-2 sprigs of each: rosemary, sage, thyme

•Mozzarella style Daiya cheese, if desired

•4-5 cherry tomatoes, if desired

Combine 1 cup Rice & Lentil mix with 2 cups of water in a pot and bring to a boil (or cook same about of your grain of choice). Cover with lid and simmer for 30-45 minutes. In a small pan, heat 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat, add minced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes or until translucent. Add white wine, balsamic vinegar, sun-dried tomato and honey (if desired) and cook over medium-high heat for 15-20 minutes, or until reduced. It should steam, bubble, and reduce into a nice sauce (this smells amaaaazing on the stove!).

In the meantime, heat 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil in a medium to large pan. Add remaining vegetables, diced your fresh herbs, add them to the pan and cook until the veggies are tender.

Add tofu & reduction sauce when it is ready to the pan and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Serve with rice & lentil mix. Top with Mozzarella daiya cheese and sliced cherry tomatoes, if desired.

I tend to shy away from salty and oily dishes. I guess this is because I eat a LOT of nut butter and get my oils from other places. I let got of that hesitance with this dish and the turnout was delicious! It would have been nice to have sun-dried tomatoes that weren’t drowning in oil. You can cut out extra oil by steaming your vegetables and then mixing it with the reduction. As you can see, I don’t use a lot of salt – but I’m sure a sprinkle in the rice & lentil mix, as well as one on the vegetables would really bring out the flavor.

This was my first time trying vegan cheese, and I must say – I’m pleased. Daiya cold and fresh out of the package? Not as tasty as it melted over veggies and rice. Gotta give that stuff a little heat before it’s edible (in my humble opinion).

I also experimented with sugar-free pumpkin butter last week-

I’ll get that recipe up soon.

Until then. Eat, drink, and be merry.

And watch this marathon of the Nutcracker that’s on TV like me!




Cinnamon-Spicy Fall Vegetables with Red Lentils

When buying food on a budget, I tend to stray from buying foods that are too recipe-specific. This forces me to be extra creative in combining familiar ingredients for the meals I concoct on the spot.

On particular days where I’m missing that PERFECT ingredient in my pantry, this can be definitely disappointing to my taste buds. On other days – new combinations result in pure artistry.

I’d say today was one of those days.

With a fridge freshly stocked to sustain me for the last week and a half of this semester, I felt almost overjoyed at the amount of vegetables I had purchased. I purposefully chose veggies that reminded me of fall cuisine – as well as a bouquet of colors, textures, and flavors. I was ready to get choppin’ when I realized this would be my first recipe share – and to tell you the truth, it kinda psyched me out. I was constantly having to bring myself back to that moment, rather than follow the seductive thoughts of camera angles, measurements, fonts, and phrasing. (And having to press repeat on “All I Want For Christmas is You.”)

I gave it my best shot. Here’s what I got for you: gourmet college girl grub.

Cinnamon-Spicy Fall Vegetables with Red Lentils

Serves 4-5

•1 cup butternut squash, chopped

•1 carrot (about 3/4 cup chopped)

•1/4 zucchini, sliced

•1/4 summer squash, sliced

•6 asparagus spears, chopped into 1 inch pieces

•1/8 rutabaga (about 1/2 cup sliced thinly into pieces)

•1/2 small beet (1/2 cup sliced thinly into pieces)

•4 large cauliflower florets, chopped

•1/3 sweet potato (1 cup chopped)

•bunch of kale (4-5 leaves)

•1/4 white onion

•3 cloves garlic, minced

•2-3 tablespoons olive oil (or grapeseed oil)

•1 1/2 – 2 cups red lentils, *pre-cooked

•balsamic vinegar

•allspice, cinnamon, parsley, paprika, salt & pepper

(*I’ve realized this is a synonym for “I didn’t feel like spelling this process out for you.” to foodies.

I’ve fallen subject to euphemism!)

Start by gathering your vegetables and chopping them into small pieces. With this many vegetables, it’s okay to work with awkward amounts (1/8, 1/3, 1/4). You’ll waste less food and create more consistency. (I decided to nix the parsnips – they tend to take over, don’t they?)

Fill a large pot with an inch or two of water and place it over high heat. Using a steamer, cook your vegetables (omitting the garlic and onion) until you can pierce the sweet potato or rutabaga with a fork. This usually takes around ten-fifteen minutes.

In the meantime, place a large pan with two-three tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and stir-fry for a minute or two. Then, add the onion and cook until translucent. I like to add a little salt when I add the onions to carmelize them. One of my roommates bought some pink Himalayan salt I’ve been playing with lately.

Now, you can add your pre-cooked red lentils to the pan. I seldom measure out my spices – but toss in a pinch or two each of allspice, cinnamon, parsley, and pepper. Don’t be shy with the paprika. It’s magic red dust.

As soon as your steamed vegetables are easily pierce-able, transfer them to the pan with the lentils. This is where a bigger pan comes in handy. Drizzle a generous amount of balsamic vinegar over the mix – a few tablespoons should do the trick. Add another pinch of allspice, parsley, paprika, and pepper to coat the vegetables. Taste it – if you like it sweeter, add more cinnamon. If you like things spicy, add red pepper flakes like I did.

There’s really nothing more comforting than this smell. It is such a gorgeous combination of sweet and smoky! Reminds me of Moroccan dishes with the cinnamon.


– – –

Allowing myself some stillness after bopping around the kitchen all afternoon, I sat and indulged in the fragrances and warmth of this meal. It’s so important to spend a minute with your food before you dig in, no matter how hungry you are – not to mention staying present and having intention during the cooking process. It infuses your food with love and elicits a much more beneficial effect on your digestion than a meal made in a hurry/distressed state of mind.

Allow yourself the time to experience each bite in a new way. Each new crunch, sweetness, spice, and flavor – Revel in the gift that is food, and be grateful for the ability to sustain your life with good nutrition!

– – –

My newest tattoo – this raspberry – represents the spiritual meaning of “plenty.” If you’re cooking for one, experiment with using smaller amounts – this avoids the awkward leftover, and forces you to make more conscious decisions. Determine what “plenty” means to you – and cook in a way that brings joy to not only your tummy, but your spirit as well.

Looking forward to more recipes. Nom-aste!