Vegetarian

Eggplant Cannelloni

This one is an easy dinner that’s sure to impress should you choose to have (the dreaded) company over. It’s also a great summer meal for those hot nights when you don’t want to break your back in the kitchen. Sure, the oven may be required, but the run time is short! If you’re looking for a little more protein, feel free to throw some grilled chicken, seafood, pork or beef on the side. I prefer to serve these vegetarian eggplant cannelloni’s with a fresh, roasted vegetable. Pictured below with sautéed spinach and lentils.

 

Photo Credit: Kimberly Sabada MS, RD, LDN

Photo Credit: Kimberly Sabada MS, RD, LDN

Eggplant Cannelloni

Serves: 4 main course

2 teaspoons olive oil
4 large shallots, sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 jars (12 ounces each) roasted red peppers, drained
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
2 medium eggplants, cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices
Cooking spray
4 ounces goat cheese
5 kalamata olives, pitted and minced
1 teaspoon drained capers, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

Preheat broiler.

Heat oil in a medium non-stick skillet over medium heat. Sauté   shallots and garlic until soft for 1-2 minutes, then reduce heat. Cook until golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Add peppers and juice; bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until peppers are soft, about 5 minutes. Set aside and cool. Place in a food processor and blend until pureed . Pour mixture into a 9″ x 13″ baking dish.

Meanwhile, coat eggplant slices with cooking spray and broil on a baking sheet until golden on both sides, about 15 minutes.

Heat oven to 400°F. Combine goat cheese, olives, capers and 1 tablespoon of the parsley in a bowl. Place 1 tablespoon of filling at the end of each eggplant slice; roll up. Lay seam side down in dish. Bake 10 to 15 minutes. Top with remaining 1 tablespoon parsley. Plate and enjoy!

Lentils Are The New Beans

I hope we all enjoyed the Mini Turkey Parmesan Meatloaves. I know you all made them over the past week. Don’t lie, it’s unbecoming. As Spring settles in and beach season approaches, if you’re like me, there’s one thing on that fine mind of yours: How can I eat more lentils? No? Oh that’s just me then. Let me put it to you this way, if lentils were ingestible self-tanner, I’d be Snooki.

Clearly lentils have nothing to do with beach season, but rather everything to do with finding an alternative, non-meat protein. I will not lie to you. I love a good piece of steak or salmon just as much as the next red-blooded American, but damn, can we ease up on the animal flesh? I don’t boast being a vegetarian, but I do try to limit animal proteins to one meal per day (excluding eggs, those things are absolutely delicious).

Lentils are one such example of a solid vegetarian protein source. They house themselves in the legume family along with their sister, beans. Little known fact, lentils are actually seeds originally harvested in central Asia. Grown in pods, you can find these little guys in either the whole or split variety. I prefer the whole lentils; I find them to be a bit meatier. Lentils are also available in a range of colors, but the green and brown varieties tend to hold their shape best during the cooking process. Readers take note: lentils can deteriorate under heat. Choosing the proper form and cooking technique are essential to avoid eating colored mush for dinner. Prepare as directed and trial and error are my two best recommendations when it comes to cooking lentils. Alas, I am not a cooking expert on everything.

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Lentils are an excellent source of B vitamins and iron. You menstruating or pregnant? You’re going to love these little suckers! Sorry boys. Lentils also carry a sizable fiber punch – one half cup serving contains 8 grams of dietary fiber. I’m talking the good stuff, the fiber that helps lower your cholesterol. Just dare me to take care of my heart! I’ll do it too, don’t test me dude! Lastly, as mentioned above, they are well endowed in the protein department with 9 grams (a little over 1 ounce) per half cup.

While lentils are loaded with nutrients, one to not ignore is their carbohydrate content. Lentils are what we dietitians call a ‘dual food’. Yes they pack the protein, but they also carry carbohydrate. Not a bad thing, but something to be conscious of nonetheless. If we return to the half cup portion example, lentils have about 20 grams of carb (equal to an average slice of bread). This doesn’t make them off-limits. Just don’t fool yourself eating them with a load of brown rice, a few potatoes and peas smothered in yellow curry sauce. Easy does it young grasshopper.

I have a few lentil tricks in my wheelhouse. Throw them onto salad or into a broth based soup. A favorite post-run snack of mine is lentils atop steamed broccoli and a little marinara. See below for picture-based knowledge.

Photo Credit: Kimberly Sabada

Photo Credit: Kimberly Sabada

In closing, if you want to get a little fancier, I really enjoy lentils in vegetable marinara. Free (hidden) recipe alert! Oh wait, this is all free for you. For 4 people, I’ll sauté 1/2 cup chopped onion, 1 chopped yellow pepper, 8 ounces of chopped button mushrooms, a few minced cloves of garlic and some chopped fresh herbs. Stir in marinara and precooked lentils. Serve over some whole-wheat pasta, top with a little shaved Parmesan cheese and BAMB! You got a mighty tasty din-din at your fingertips.

Come back next week for my all-time favorite lentil recipe. Clue – they are delivered in patty form and incorporate cashews. Get so freaking excited. I mean it, right now!

Shameless Product Placement of July

This weekend marked the beginning of the end. I have officially commenced packing up my apartment in preparation for my move at the start of next month. I will be living like a slight nomad for 3 weeks. My apartment leases didn’t align, so my parents will be taking me in for what’s sure to be an interesting 21 days. Cue eye roll. I can’t really run with this one because one of my future roommates is also my editor. But I will say this – deciding what to pack, what to take home, and what to throw away has been entertaining. Will I need twelve rolls of Scotch tape during my stay in my childhood habitat? What about my emergency Saturday Night Fever ‘Staying Alive’ flashlight? Needless to say, this past weekend felt like some weird marathon of Minute to Win It. Should it stay? Should it go? Decide now!

I’m still unsure what this month’s Hot Topic will be. While dragging my feet on all things ‘life’, I thought I’d give you the Shameless Product Placement of July. . .
Amy’s Quarter Pound Veggie Burger
I know what you’re thinking – this granola loving, tree hugging, birdseed eating chick is trying to make me eat cardboard. I promise you, my feelings toward vegetable burgers were lukewarm at best before I discovered Amy’s. If you’re a devoted meat-eater, these veggie burgers are not trying to resemble meat. Something about vegetable based products that attempt to resemble meat grosses me out. For instance, Tofurkey. Why? If I were so repulsed by the act of eating turkey, be it morally or biologically, why would I want to even touch a piece of tofu trying to pass itself off as the animal protein it’s clearly not.
Although the burger’s ingredient list is not exactly short, it is 100% readable. I don’t have the time to develop and make a decent veggie burger that isn’t loaded up with grain. One thing that erks me about homemade veggie burgers is they are often oat or rice based. Why bother? Being grain based, there’s a clear lack of protein and I’m just going to put it on a bun! I’m not anti-carb, but come on. Putting a rice patty on a bun is like putting macaroni and cheese on top of pizza. At some point it’s like okay, let’s just eat a loaf of bread and be done with it.
So what makes Amy’s so remarkable you ask?
One, 4-ounce burger brings a lot to the table. Let’s start with protein. One burger is nearly three ounces of protein. Amy’s does make other veggie burgers, but the Quarter Pound packs the most protein – hence the name. Trying to get in an adequate amount of protein is a common predicament I find myself in when trying to go vegetarian. Cottage cheese, eggs, nuts, and beans just don’t cut it when they must be eaten on a daily basis. And one of these burgers gets me halfway to my daily protein allotment.
These burgers deliver in both the protein and fiber departments. With six grams of fiber per burger, they don’t shy away from getting your bowels movin’. The average adult should aim for 25 grams of fiber a day.  Most of us don’t even come close to that number, so every little bit helps. I’ve mentioned it here before, fiber is an important part of our diet and should not be over looked. Return to The Shameless Product Placement of April for a fiber refresher.
Lastly, one of these burgers contains a mere 210 calories, 30 of which are from fat. Beside the all-too-common down fall of being grain based, many veggie burgers are often loaded with nuts and seeds. There is nothing wrong with fat, but sometimes a girl just wants to eat some protein and nothing more. These beautiful, delicious patties are 75% organic, kosher, diary-, lactose-, and cholesterol free. They’re also vegan, but who cares.

The only aspect of these burgers that I don’t care for is their sodium content: 600mg per burger is a wee bit steep. One burger is equivalent to two teaspoons of soy sauce. However, if I’m being totally honest, I was unaware of this small detail until I sat down to write this post. So reader, thank you so much for ruining this for me.  Stupid nutrition facts labels. 

Moving on, I like to put these burgers on either a whole wheat bun or one of those whole grain 100-calorie sandwich flats.  Top them with humus, spinach and tomato for the perfect lunch. I also enjoy them coated in barbecue sauce. Simply pop them in your microwave for a minute or two and they’re ready to go.  You can heat them in the oven or on the grill, but I don’t have the patience for all that hoopla.

Hop on over to Amy’s Website here.  Take a look all the wonderful items this company has to offer. Amy’s products can be found in most grocery stores or specialty health food stores (i.e. Whole Foods). Pot pies, soup, salsa, cake, or pie – this company is one to put stock in and I mean that figuratively.