Mashed sweet root veggies

mashedsweetroots4More comfort food coming your way! If you are a fan of mashed potatoes (see my recipe here), give this yummy seasonal variation a try. Very simple and oh so starchy and fluffy, with a lovely bright orange color thanks to the yams. It’s fun using a mix of various types of yams and sweet potatoes, but I think the most important flavor element of this recipe comes from the parsnips (a close relative of carrot and parsley), which add an earthy, aromatic, unique dimension you won’t find in regular sweet potato dishes. Thanks to some key ingredients, this dish tastes just as rich as the non-vegan version, but is much better for you. Serves 3-4 as a side. Fair warning: this stuff is addictive!

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Tasty brown rice n’ pea pilaf

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I’ve been on a comfort food kick recently…and I think this nice carby side dish counts 🙂 Its easy to put together with a few very basic ingredients, and much more interesting and flavorful than plain cooked rice. The extra step of toasting the rice in the olive oil adds a subtle nutty flavor dimension that I love. This side is high in fiber and complex carbs, and I have learned it keeps really nicely in the fridge for up to a week, and reheats well to. What more could you ask for? I made a nice big batch at my dad’s house for a family gathering (at which there was waaay too much food, as usual) and have enjoyed the leftovers with all sorts of accompaniments including yummy grilled vegetables! This recipe serves 6-8, or fewer with leftovers.

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Carrot salsa

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Salsa with tortilla chips is one of my favorite snacks, ever. I’ve been tasting lots of creative salsa variations lately, so here’s another one to add to the mix. Carrot works surprisingly well as a stand-in for tomato in salsa, and strikes me as a great any-time-of-year vegetable so you don’t have to settle for mealy, flavorless out of season tomatoes from who knows where. This is a super easy recipe thanks to the magic of the food processor. Makes a pretty and unique appetizer. Also a healthy snack, or a condiment with a Mexican meal. Who doesn’t need a burst of bright orange in their life? This recipe makes enough for 2 people, but can easily be scaled up as needed.

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Apple-peach-pear sauce

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I never outgrew my childhood affinity for applesauce. It is such a ridiculously simple food, and a favorite healthy snack. I am not talking about the oversweetened packaged super-homogenized kind of commerical apple sauce. I was lucky enough to grow up with my mom’s rustic, chunky, delicious homemade apple sauce which she taught me how to make. Here is a multi-fruit version inspired by her recipe, taking advantage of the last peaches of summer that are not quite as glorious and tempting to eat as-is, as were their earlier in the season counterparts. Also a great way to use up those few sad apples in your fridge drawer that might have slightly passed their prime. Delicious hot or cold, and goes beautifully with hot breakfasts (serve it with pancakes, waffles, or french toast, or atop a bowl of oatmeal – or heck, even stirred right in!) or as a cold snack with yogurt, cottage cheese, you name it. Or perhaps a healthy light dessert, if you fancy…super easy recipe, can be easily scaled up or down (this recipe makes about 1.5 pints worth, roughly enough for 4 as a condiment served alongside a breakfast).

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Easy gazpacho for an unseasonably warm day

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We got a nice little bit of Indian summer in the Bay Area this past weekend, after several chilly days that felt like early winter (well, winter in SF anyway). So instead of the hot dinner I’d planned on making, I decided to celebrate what might be summer’s last hurrah with the classic summery cold soup: gazpacho. There are so many variations on this theme out there: some thicken it with bread crumbs, others use lots of garlic and hot spice, but I wanted to go for something fresh and flavorful yet mellow in this recipe. This version lets the perfect  tomato essence shine through, complemented by the clean crunchiness of cucumber and red bell pepper, with a hint of cilantro and purple onion for a nice little bite. The sweet paprika adds a little je ne sais quoi, pulling all the flavors together. Makes 4 servings as a first course, serves 2 if it’s your main dish.

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A simple white bean stew – healthy comfort food

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Not sure why I seem to be on a white bean kick at the moment, but hopefully you’re not sick of them yet! My husband has been asking me to dust off the slow cooker (received it as a gift from my mother-in-law – so useful!) and make a hearty soup, so this weekend it finally happened. This comforting, starchy, nostalgic-tasting soup is loosely inspired by cholent, a traditional Jewish Sabbath stew that has a very interesting multicultural history (read about it here)…minus the meat/eggs. Super easy to put together, and even more so if you have a slow cooker – you can just throw all the ingredients in, set it and go to sleep…and then wake up to the wonderful smell of delicious hot soup! (Yes, soup for breakfast works for me!) Makes a nice large batch, easily enough for 6-8 people, just cut recipe in half or freeze the leftovers for later.

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Tropical green smoothie

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As promised, another variation on the green smoothie theme. Living without a blender last month, I came home with quite a craving for green smoothies. I like mine very smooth, no bits of green leaves getting caught between the teeth and such. This tropical version is a refreshing cold drink that tastes a bit like a pina colada, with a creamy silkiness from the coconut milk. It is super-easy one to make – all the ingredients can be easily found at your local Trader Joe’s.

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