Well Dined

16May/140

Sweetgreen

Well Dined | Sweetgreen

I have an obsession... with a salad shop.  This must be what being an adult feels like.  I never used to like salads AT ALL, and then I tried Sweetgreen and now a salad is my treat to myself after working out.  Not like, "oh don't wanna ruin that workout, so here's a salad;" but like "good job, now you GET to eat this salad."  Weiiiiiiiiird.  Who am I?

Well Dined | Sweetgreen

Anywho, Sweetgreen is awesome.  It's like any fast food joint (Chipotle, Subway, etc...) where you travel down the line and build your meal, in this case - a yummy salad made with local ingredients (check the blackboard to see which vendors they use).

Well Dined | Sweetgreen

They have a number of pre-designed salads (my favorite is the District Cobb) and one seasonal salad per month (above photo is the May 2014 salad), or you can go custom.  You can also customize a menu salad.  For example, I like to get the District Cobb but swap sweet potatoes in for tomatoes and change the dressing to balsamic vinaigrette (which is super good).  You get to choose how much dressing you want (light, medium, heavy) and also if you want bread (the bread is really good, but I try to resist).

11Apr/142

Spiced Cauliflower “Couscous”

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You guys, I am in love... with a recipe.  A recipe for cauliflower that is pretending to be cous cous and filled with herbs, spices, buttery cashews, and plump golden raisins.  It's so good it's stupid.  And easy, did I mention easy?  And low-carb and healthy and gluten-free and vegan and all the things.

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I am desperately trying to move away from grains and starches, but it is so hard when my brain had been programmed to think that dinner is meat, starch, vegetable (in that order in terms of importance).  So anything like this that I can find that satisfies my need to have a starch, without really being one, is awesome.  Oh yeah, and my husband LOVED it.

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I served it as a side to some store-bought kebabs because of the distinctly Middle Eastern flavors.  But I'm wondering if I can use the same technique and change up the flavorings (a la this post) to do some different things.  Speaking of flavorings, this recipe uses a spice blend called za'atar that is super yummy.  You should be able to find some in the spice section of your store, but if not here are two recipes to make your own.

14Mar/140

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

Well Dined | Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

Happy Pi/Pie Day!  I know that most people are probably celebrating with desserts, but what about a savory pie?  Or rather a savory dish with pie in the name that isn't actually a pie?  Whatever, don't judge me.  It's time for another vegetarian lunch with Melissa from Smells Like Brownies.  Be sure to check out her delicious Pi Day Coconut Cream Pie, it is sooooooo good!

Well Dined | Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

This vegetarian version shepard's pie is packed with veggies, topped with creamy goat cheese, and perfect for St Paddy's Day (which is never St Patty's by the way).  I mean, just look  at that gorgeous green topping.

Well Dined | Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

The base is made with roasted beets, eggplant, sundried tomatoes, and cherry tomatoes simmered in vegetable stock with thyme, caraway seeds, and fennel seeds.  I was a little scared that the fennel and caraway would be really strong and take over, but they added just the right amount of depth and a real Irish flavor.

20Jan/140

Miso Tahini Soup

Well Dined | Miso Tahini Soup

After a bit of a hiatus, Melissa (Smells Like Brownies) and I are getting back to our weekly vegetarian lunches.  Last week we tried this amazing soup recipe packed with veggies.  It is warm and comforting, with lots of flavor and texture - plus it's really easy to make.  It's also both vegan and vegetarian friendly.  And gosh, isn't it pretty?

Well Dined | Miso Tahini Soup

The soup starts out with sliced squash (we used acorn) and tiny cubes of turnip simmered in water until tender.  At first I thought that one small squash and one turnip wouldn't be enough, but they turned out to be plenty!  So don't go overboard and think that you need to get more/bigger.  The cooking water then becomes the base for the broth and miso, tahini, and lemon zest are added to round it out.

Well Dined | Miso Tahini Soup

You can garnish the soup however you like, but we stuck with the original recipe and used avocado, chives, toasted nori, and toasted sesame seeds.

Well Dined | Miso Tahini Soup

The soup can be served over a grain, and we choose to try out buckwheat.  We are both avoiding white rice for health reasons and thought this grain-like seed would be fun to try.  Unfortunately it cooks to a porridge like consistency instead of individual grains.  So I would recommend barley or brown rice instead.

9Jan/142

Raw Tahini Date Salted Caramels

Well Dined | Raw Tahini Date Salted Caramels

I'm about to get all raw food, vegan, and healthy on you.  If those words make you cringe, don't worry - these things are addictively delicious no matter what diet you follow!  Let's talk about dates - they are naturally super sweet and packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.  They are also low calorie compared to processed sweets.  In other words, they are nature's guilt-free candy.  Now let's talk about Barhi dates. Oh. My. Gosh.  These dates have a really short season and can be hard to find (I order them from here), but they are totally worth the hunt.  They taste like butterscotch candy or caramel, just on their own!  There is seriously a world of difference between Barhi and other dates, believe me.  And in this recipe?  Killer.

Well Dined | Raw Tahini Date Salted Caramels

Now that we've established that you should totally use Barhi dates because they are way more delicious than any other kind, what else do you need to make these caramels?  Tahini, coconut oil, cardamom, and that's it!  Blend it all up in a food processor and press into a lined pan.  I had trouble getting all the coconut oil to incorporate, which didn't make any difference taste-wise, but made them less pretty.  Sprinkle liberally with sea salt and freeze until firm.

Well Dined | Raw Tahini Date Salted Caramels

Once they are firm, cut them into little squares and that's it!  You have to keep them in the freezer so that they stay firm, but that's not so much to ask, is it?  They are rich, sweet, and complex with the flavors of caramel, tahini, cardamom, and coconut coming together, and the sea salt just takes it over the top.  Good for you, delicious, fits any diet, and makes great gifts - why are you not making these yet?  Get on it!

Raw Tahini Date Salted Caramels
adapted from The Kitchn
*I made double

1 cup pitted dates (Barhi highly recommended)
1/2 cup tahini
2 tbsp coconut oil (room temperature)
1/2 tsp ground cardamom (optional)
1/8 tsp fleur de sel or other finishing salt

Combine the dates, tahini, coconut oil, and cardamom in a blender or food processor. You should have a very smooth, creamy, and thick paste.

Transfer the mixture to a parchment-lined loaf pan (or another equivalent container) and use a spatula to press it down evenly. Sprinkle with salt.

Freeze until firm. Remove from the pan and cut into bite-size pieces.

Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to a month.

One Year Ago - Glazed Figs - 2 Ways
Two Years Ago - Carnitas
Three Years Ago - Winter Soups

3Dec/130

Thanksgiving 2013

Well Dined | Thanksgiving

We alternate our Thanksgivings each year between our families in Texas and Oregon.  This year was an Oregon year!  (Read here for our last visit.)  My in-laws live in beautiful Bend, OR - which is such a nice town.  Check out the gorgeous mountain view from our hotel room!  We stay at the Oxford hotel when we visit, and I definitely recommend it.

Well Dined | FamilyWe hadn't seen most of the family in 2 years, and 3 years for sister Kailey!  So it was really nice to be all together again.

Well Dined | Thanksgiving

We had quite the spread, as usual.  We were so excited to see each other that we spent all of Wednesday talking and didn't get any prep work done!  So we didn't end up eating Thanksgiving dinner until actual dinner time, which was fine by us!

Well Dined | Thanksgiving

Here's Mom carving up that beautiful turkey!  They made sure to get one that was humanely raised.

Well Dined | Thanksgiving

I'd like to give a special shout-out to this gorgeous salad made by my Chef sister-in-law.  It was in keeping with her gluten- and dairy-free lifestyle and it was AWESOME.  It had two kinds of raw kale (massaged to remove bitterness), roasted beets, fennel, toasted walnuts, and pomegranate seeds.  I need to get the recipe from her for the yummy cashew dressing.

What was your favorite dish this year?  Leave a link or recipe in the comments!

18Nov/130

Chocolate Banana Pops

Well Dined | Chocolate Banana Pops

My friend Melissa (you know her by now as Smells Like Brownies) threw a Curious George themed birthday party for her 1 year old.  She wanted to have some kind of banana snack at the party (cuz duh - monkeys) but really hates bananas, even the smell of them.  So I volunteered to make something for her.  These banana pops could not be easier, and they ended up being a huge success!

Well Dined | Chocolate Banana Pops

Start by cutting bananas (however many you want to use) in half and carefully insert popsicle sticks.  Pop them into the freezer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make your chocolate dip.  Place chocolate chips into a microwaveable bowl - you can use either milk or dark, I prefer dark.  8 oz of chocolate will cover 2 bananas (4 halves).  Next, mix in some oil or butter - this makes sure the chocolate melts evenly and that it is shiny.  I used coconut oil for the health factor and because it tastes great with chocolate.  The ratio is 1 tbsp oil to 8 oz chocolate.  Stir to coat the chips evenly with oil, then microwave 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until the chocolate is just melted.  Do not overcook it - once you burn chocolate, you can't take it back.

Well Dined | Chocolate Banana Pops

While the chocolate is still warm, take the partially frozen bananas and dip them into the chocolate to coat.  You may need to use a rubber spatula to ensure that the entire banana is coated.  Allow any excess to drip off.  Working quickly (the chocolate will harden quickly on the frozen banana), sprinkle with or roll in whatever toppings you want to use.  I used sprinkles, walnuts, and toasted coconut.  Return the bananas to the fridge for at least 30 minutes.  Allow to soften for about 5 minutes at room temp, or longer in the fridge, before you serve them so that they won't be rock hard.  The banana inside should be the consistency of ice cream.

Well Dined | Chocolate Banana Pops

I used a 32 oz bag of chocolate chips to make 16 banana pops (from 8 bananas).  These are super fun to make - I bet kids would love to get involved.  And there is not a lot of sugar, depending on what kind kind of chocolate and toppings you use, making it a healthy snack/dessert.  So go bananas!

27Sep/130

Not Pasta – Veggie Julienne

Well Dined | Sauteed Vegetable Julienne

I am trying to eliminate, or at least greatly reduce, my carb intake.  But, man, I just really love pasta.  If anybody else is struggling with this, and I'm sure there are many, this is a really great recipe.  I know what you're thinking - it's not the same - and you're right, it's  not.  But I don't think you will miss the pasta when you discover how much flavor and texture these have!

Well Dined | Sauteed Vegetable Julienne

Mmmm - veggies.  I got my mandoline out, thinking it would make this a breeze, but it turns out that my particular one really sucks at using the whole length of the vegetable.  So I switched to this bad boy and it worked brilliantly.

Well Dined | Sauteed Vegetable Julienne

The colors!  Now I really like using spaghetti squash if I have a great sauce, but this recipe has more color and flavor, making it great on its own.

Well Dined | Sauteed Vegetable Julienne

Bonus - I followed the recipe and used red onion and garlic, but I think that you could use shallot in place of both and make it even simpler!  Super bonus - it cooks in less than 5 minutes!

Sauteed Vegetable Julienne
adapted from Skinny Taste
serves 2-4

1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz zucchini, cut into julienne strips (with a mandolin or peeler)
8 oz yellow squash, cut into julienne strips (with a mandolin or peeler)
4 oz (1 medium) carrot, cut into julienne strips (with a mandolin or peeler)
salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add the oil and onions and cook until fragrant, 2 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more.

Increase heat to medium-high and add the remaining vegetables, season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook until the vegetables are tender-crisp, about 2-3 minutes.  Adjust salt as needed and serve hot.

25Sep/130

Melon Pops

Well Dined | Melon Pops

Here's another quick, end of Summer post for you - melon pops!  Half cantaloupe, half honeydew, all yummy.

Well Dined | Melon Pops

They are made with just melon pureed with a little agave (optional).  The layering looks really cute, and is easy to do, but you could do whole pops of one or the other melon.  Quick, easy, healthy treats - yay!

Melon Pops
Makes 10 pops

1/4 cantaloupe, cubed
1/4 honeydew, cubed
agave, to taste (optional)

Place the honeydew cubes in a blender and puree.  Add agave, if using, keeping in mind that the pops will be less sweet when frozen.

Pour the honeydew mixture into an ice pop mold, being careful not to fill more than halfway.  Freeze until slushy, about an hour.  (Don't be like me and let it freeze solid, preventing the layers from sticking together - doh!)

Repeat the process with the cantaloupe, being careful when adding it to the mold not to mix the layers.  Insert wooden sticks and freeze until solid.

11Sep/133

Vegan Chocolate Coconut Cake

Well Dined | Vegan Chocolate Coconut Cake

This recipe I found claimed to be for vegan fudge brownies.  Let's be honest - this is not a recipe for brownies.  It is, however, a delicious recipe for cake - even more delicious if you use coconut oil to give it some extra flavor.  Coconut oil is just the neatest product!  Good for your health, good for your skin and hair, it's even good as a supplement for dogs!  It turns from solid to liquid with a very small difference in temperature.  Heat or chill for just a few seconds to achieve the different states.  Of course if you don't like coconut flavor, use a neutral tasting oil and vegan spread instead.  Vegan friends and chocolate lovers in general - make this right now, you won't be sorry!

Vegan Chocolate Coconut Cake
adapted from Southern In Law
makes 9-16 small servings

For the cake:
2 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1 tbsp baking powder
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup coconut oil, liquid form
1 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond breeze

For the frosting:
6 tbsp coconut oil, solid form
6 tbsp cocoa powder
2 2/3 cup icing sugar/powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2-4 tbsp unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Preheat oven to 355°F; grease and/or line an 8x8 cake pan.

In a large bowl mix together flour, cocoa, baking powder, sugar, and salt.  Add in oil and almond milk and stir until combined.

Pour brownie batter into cake pan and bake for 25-35 minutes or until cooked through and a skewer inserted removes clean.

Cool completely on a wire rack.

Make the frosting: in a bowl combine coconut oil and cocoa powder.  Gradually mix in icing sugar, vanilla, and add almond milk as needed to create your desired consistency.

Frost the cooled cake.  Keep stored in the fridge in an airtight container and eat within 2 days.  If you want to top it with some shredded coconut or slivered almonds, I bet that would be delicious.