Cheesy Broccoli & Rice Bake

Cheesy Broccoli & Rice Bake
Cheesy Broccoli & Rice Bake

This was the last weekend of winter break and I must say I am a bit relieved my son is going back to school tomorrow. I love having him home but with all the neighborhood kids constantly running in and out of the house playing it is hard to, 1. get anything productive done 2. have any alone time 3. listen to my music of choice, lol. Since I have been feeling a little behind I was in need of an easy, yet cozy meal. I get my Imperfect Produce delivery Saturday mornings to help replenish my fridge and pantry for the weekend without having to run to the store, which is such a life saver. Plus, I got most of the items I needed for this cheesy broccoli rice bake.

I’m always on the hunt to find new ways to get the most bang for my buck and produce less waste by utilizing all of my fruits and vegetables. One of my favorite ways to use my broccoli stalks is to make broccoli slaw. But in this recipe we will be incorporating both the broccoli florets and stalks by making broccoli rice. Watch your back cauliflower, broccoli is coming for ya…

Vegan, Gluten free – Serves 6 – Total bake time 1hr 15mins

Ingredients:

Broccoli Bake

  • 2 cups short grain brown rice
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 2 broccoli stalks florets cut into small to med pieces & stalks chopped into broccoli rice
  • 1 tsp pink salt

Cheese sauce (makes 3 cups)

  • 2 cups potatoes peeled & chopped
  • 1 cup carrots peeled and chopped
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tsp pink salt
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Add short grain brown rice, vegetable broth, garlic, onion and salt to a 13 x 9 baking dish or something similar in size.
  3. Cover and bake for 45 minutes.
  4. Boil carrots and potatoes until soft.
  5. Strain carrots and potatoes.
  6. Toss all cheese sauce ingredients into a blender and blend until you come to a smooth and creamy consistency.
  7. Prepare the broccoli by cutting the tops into small-med sized florets.
  8. Cut the stalks in half or in quarters and toss them into a food processor(or blender), pulse until the stalks are chopped into rice-sized pieces.
  9. After your rice has been baking for 45 minutes, take the baking dish out of the oven and fold in 1 1/2 cups of cheese sauce and broccoli rice. Mix well. Then top the rice mixture with the florets.
  10. Cover and bake for another 30 minutes.
  11. Once the rice is done baking, drizzle the top with the desired amount of cheese sauce and enjoy!

 

Advertisements

Fennel Fronds Pesto

I received my Imperfect Produce delivery over the weekend, which is always like Christmas for me. Among other great fruits and vegetables in my delivery box it had fennel. Two of them! I personally love fennel. It can be enjoyed raw, sliced thin and tossed in salads or quartered and oven roasted. I usually only eat the bulb of the fennel and toss the stalks and fronds in my vegetable broth for extra flavor. This week I was feeling the need to try something new. So I added the stalks to my vegetable broth bag like usual, only this time tearing off and setting aside the fronds as I went. I am thinking If I can make a pesto out of carrot tops I can certainly make a pesto out of my fennel fronds, right? So that is what I did! The fennel pesto was so vibrant and flavorful. This was my first time making it and certainly will not be my last. I prepared roasted potatoes for dinner and served them with the pesto right over the top. This recipe will also be awesome used as a spread for wraps and sandwiches or as a marinade for wild salmon.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of fennel fronds
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 a lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup of walnuts
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to your food processor or blender (I used a food processor) blend until your desired consistency.

Carrot Top Pesto

Carrots are the most commonly used vegetable in my home. They are tasty, affordable, and palate approved by my eight year old son. Aside from all that, I love that I can use the entire carrot. Skin, leaves, stems…Everything! If you skin your carrot, clean, season, and roast those skins up to make root vegetable chips or toss them in a bag with the stems and other vegetable scraps to make broth. Carrot leaves are also edible, delicious, and contain high amounts of protein, vitamins and minerals. Carrot leaves can be used in place of parsley in recipes or can be added to salads and dishes for extra flavor. I also enjoy making sauces like chimicurri or pesto out of carrot leaves. Making the most of your food is also making the most of your money, all while reducing food waste.

Just last week I made a batch of pesto. The recipe is creamy and flavorful. It’s also vegan, but If you are not and would like to add cheese to your pesto, cut the amount of salt in the recipe in half and cut out the nutritional yeast. This recipe makes enough to fill an 8oz. mason jar which gave me 2 meals. One meal was pesto tossed with zucchini noodles, diced tomatoes, and a side of carrots. The other with pasta, but you can serve this pesto over potatoes, pizza, with spaghetti squash.. the options are endless.

Notes: I like my Pesto a prefer my on the creamy side. If you don’t, cut the pine nut measurements down to 1/4 cup.

Ingredients

  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup of pine nuts
  • Half of a lemon, juiced
  • 2 cups of carrot leaves
  • 1 – 2 springs of basil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon red chili flakes (double if you like a little spice)
  • 1/8 cup of nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 cup of evoo

Instructions

  1. Toss all ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until your desired consistency.

Never Purchase Broth Again!

Making broth from scraps

It is not too good to be true, I promise! My family loves soup, in fact, I could probably eat soup everyday, so this hack has really helped me in many ways… Saves me money, I have broth made from fresh organic ingredients with no preservatives and helps food waste and reduces trash. Making broth from scraps

All you need is a gallon sized freezer bag, preferably reusable. I got mine from Blue Avocado or a Tupperware you are willing to keep in your freezer to reuse will work just fine as well. Next, your vegetable scraps, stems and ends! Yup, that is it. Every time you are in the kitchen prepping your dinner take out your freezer bag and add your carrot peels, celery ends, onion and garlic skins, and herb stems to it then, put your bag back in the freezer until it is full. When you’re all full it is time to add soup to your weekly meal plan. Add the contents of your bag to a stock pot with about 10 cups of water with some salt & pepper maybe a bay leaf and a sprinkle of turmeric. Simmer for about an hour and let cool, strain out you vegetable scraps and you will have enough broth for a big pot of soup and then some! Leftover broth is good in the fridge for about a week, or you can choose to freeze your broth as well for future recipes, if you do this remember to leave room in your container for the broth to expand when it reaches its freezing point. Also, I may have only listed a couple vegetables to add to your freezer bag, those were just examples, don’t limit yourself! You can also add things like mushroom stems/ends or even insides of peppers, fennel tops. Really anything you think will maximize the flavor of your broth.

Making broth from scraps
Made a big pot of soup and still have this left over for the week.

Side note: This life saver hack is not my own. This is a tip I got from my Thug Kitchen  cookbook years back, and I feel it needs to be shared. If you are looking to introduce more plant based recipes into your diet this cook book is awesome and hilarious. The amount of money I saved on not having to purchase broth paid for the book in about 2 months (like I said we like soup)

Supplies

  • Reusable gallon sized freezer bag

Ingredients

  • Vegetable scraps
  • A teaspoon of Salt and Pepper
  • A bay leaf, a sprinkle turmeric and/or garlic powder if you have it

Instructions

  1. Collect enough vegetable ends, peels, stems to fill a gallon bag
  2. Add to stock pot with 10 cups of water
  3. Add salt and pepper, bay leaf, turmeric
  4. Simmer for about an hour
  5. Strain
  6. Make some soup

The Delivery Service That Helps Fight Food Waste

Back in April, my son and I were enjoying the Oakland Earth festival when we were approached by the sweetest young lady. She began to tell me all about Imperfect Produce, who they are and what they do. I was immediately hooked and ready to sign up!

Imperfect Produce is on a mission to find a home for the 1 in 5 fruits and vegetables that are deemed too ugly to be sold in grocery stores. This helps the consumer because they are able to sell the produce at a discounted cost because these fruits and veggies have been shunned from grocery store shelves due to size or discoloration. This also helps the local farmers sell their products and helps with food waste. The best part, you do not even have to step foot in a store for your food. Imperfect Produce delivers the food to you!

Imperfect Produce
Bunches of broccoli stalks are so tasty and nutritious! Something you do not find in the store often or at all…

Here’s how it works.  After signing up, they email you at the beginning of each week with a link to customize your box/order.  Log into your account and you can begin choosing your product, it’s that simple!  The offerings that week will be detailed with where it is from, if it’s organic or conventional, why it is imperfect, and how much it costs. You have complete control over what will be delivered to you. Now, If you are the adventurous type, you are more than welcome to let them chose what will be in your box so you are surprised when your delivery comes!  Also, you can sign up for weekly or bi weekly deliveries and it’s easy to skip a delivery if needed. Lastly, in your first box, along with your fresh food you also receive some storing tips. Knowing that the average sized family of four throws out nearly $1,600 worth of produce annually, I think we can all use some storing tips! All boxes after that come with a fun recipe.

Imperfect Produce
There is nothing imperfect about this produce!

No, I do not work for Imperfect Produce, I just love their mission! Americans are leading the world in food waste and we need more businesses out there looking to make a change!! Unfortunately, this particular company only covers the LA and Bay Area but I am sure if you search hard enough in your area you can find something like this.  A lot of times we just don’t think to look for, it but green businesses are out there! If you are in the Los Angeles or Bay Area and this is something you might want click on the referral link to get a $10 credit

https://www.imperfectproduce.com/register.php?referral=80212

 

How To Use Your Left Over Almond Pulp

On Monday we made the most delicious almond milk but had all that leftover pulp.  So, let’s use it! Optimizing your food fights waste and gives you the most bang for your buck. Hopefully your pulp drained any leftover liquid because we are going to dry it out to make almond meal! This literally takes zero effort but it does take some time so I would plan to do this when you know you will be home for a bit. Once your almond meal is dried, it will last up to 9 months. The left over pulp should make about 1 cup of almond meal. Store this in a larger airtight container this way you have room to add to it as you continue to make your milk. Almond meal is very versatile and can be used as breading, for pancakes, or baking and is gluten free and paleo.

 

All you need to do is set your oven at the lowest temperature, spread your pulp out on a cookie sheet and pop it in the oven. The lowest my oven goes is 170, at this temperature it takes about 3 hours to dry out the almond pulp. I usually mix it up half way through then forget about it again but that is not a mandatory step in the drying process. Once your pulp is all dry, transfer to a food processor or blender and run on low for about 15 seconds just to break up and larger clumps. Lastly, store it away until you are all ready to use for something delicious!

How to make Almond meal from your left over pulp
How to make Almond meal from your left over pulp

Ingredients

•1 cup almond pulp

Instructions

  1. Set oven to lowest temperature
  2. Spread almond pulp onto cookie sheet
  3. Bake for 3 hours
  4. Once pulp has dried, blend for 15 seconds to break up bigger chunks
  5. Transfer to airtight container

How Do You Prepare Your Broccoli Stalks?

My entire life I had been limiting myself to the florets of the broccoli, until one day about three years ago I was walking through Trader Joe’s and saw a bag of broccoli slaw. I stood there for a moment and just stared with a big, bright lightbulb floating over my head…I was thinking, “wow, I can make that myself!” I felt enlighten and foolish all at the same time. I realized how much food I had been wasting all these years.

How to use your broccoli stalks

Both the Florets and the stalks have equal amounts of vitamin C, potassium, B vitamins, calcium and iron. The stalks actually being a little bit higher in fiber, stated on the University of Berkeley’s wellness site. But both having a tad bit different consistencies.  Towards the end of the stalk, it seems to get a little bit tougher and stringier, so I always just cut a little bit off the bottom before hand.

I have two favorite ways to prepare the stalks. One way is to throw it in my food processor and pulse into smaller pieces to make broccoli rice. You can even toss some cauliflower in there and make a rice blend. The other is to shred the stalks to throw in a salad or slaw.

Broccoli Rice & Slaw

     (left) Broccoli rice (right) Broccoli slaw

Fall in love with these Guilt Free Potato Chips

Who doesn’t like chips? I don’t know a single person that does not love them. Unfortunately, most brands of chips are unhealthy and let’s be honest here, you are paying for a lot of air in that bag. So lets talk about healthy, cheap, and delicious chips.

I made a stew that called for peeled sweet potatoes so, i peeled my potatoes and made my stew. But I was not going to throw out my peels, no way! The skin of the potato has more nutrients than the interior itself and is loaded with fiber and potassium. This recipe is a simple, awesome snack time treat and is almost free because you were probably going to throw your skins out anyway.  This little trick helps reduce food waste and since these chips aren’t coming from a bag, you’ll be saving space in your trash can.

Rinse, then dry your skins, drizzle with a little bit of avocado or coconut oil, sprinkle with sea salt and bake on 400 for 15-20 mins depending on your preference of crispness. You can even get adventurous if you like and sprinkle some cumin or paprika for extra flavor.

  • Potato skins
  • drizzle of avocado or coconut oil
  • sprinkle of sea salt

*Organic ingredients preferred

Enjoy your next snack!

BOGO Green Onions

 

Because who doesn’t love a good buy one get one deal? There are tons of cool ways to use your kitchen scraps. One of those ways is by regrowth. Green onions is probably one of the easiest scraps that you can regrow considering all you need is a jar, water, and some sunlight. When you have used your onions, leaving about an inch and a half at the bottom just toss them in a bowl or jar with about an inch of water and put them outside or in a sunny window.

I recommend giving your onions fresh water every few days. In my experience if you let the onions grow in murky water they tend to have a slightly murky flavor rather than the fresh crisp flavor you are looking for in a green onion. Give your onions about 2 weeks and voila`

Although these onions will keep regrowing over and over I suggest only regrowing them once. Each time you regrow your onions they get slightly thinner with less flavor and less nutrients, so in my opinion they are only good for one regrow. But hey, you still got 2 bunches of green onions for the price of one, enjoy!