Category Archives: vegetables

12 Weeks of Wellness: Boost

I love vegetables! I think they are crisp and refreshing and vegetables provide nutrients vital for health and maintenance of your body. So add a few more to your diet throughout this, the 5th week on our journey toward wellness.

Tips:

There are many ways you can introduce more veggies into your diet. I will list a few here but for a printable list you can hang on your refrigerator click here.

  • Buy vegetables in season, when they are cheapest and at the peak of their flavor.
  • Stock up on frozen veggies that are simply a microwave zap away from eating.
  • Plan meals around vegetables, like a stir-fry, add other food to supplement.
  • Try a veggie salad for a meal.
  • Add shredded zucchini and carrots to meatloaf, casserole, quick bread and muffins.
  • Make your vegetables more appealing by serving them with dip.

This week boost: make sure to eat at least three vegetables each day

Click the week for more information on each of these topics that are important to your wellness.

Roasted Veggie Quinoa Salad (but mostly bugs)

My job with Parks and Open Space requires a lot of hiking. And when I say a lot I mean A LOT. On average I hike 4 miles every work day. And let me tell you the main thing I have noticed on my many, lengthy hikes through the plains and foothills of Boulder County. There are approximately thousands of different kinds of insects out there in the great outdoors (for once I may have been modest).

I promise there is a recipe in this post; it’s Food Fun Friday after all. I should be giving you a recipe or at least discussing why the food you’re eating is probably killing you slowly or something. First I would like to thoroughly ruin your appetite (just be glad I didn’t include pictures) by talking about insects, the least appetizing things I can think of.

Just a preview of what’s to come

I am going to be highly non-scientific for a minute so entomologists cover your ears. I have classified these insects I have encountered into five categories: the gross ones, the lovely ones, the dumb ones, the mean ones and the pesky ones.

The Gross Ones

These are the bugs that make me squirm: Spiders (I know not insects) and earwigs. But mostly spiders.

The Lovely Ones

The only bugs I will classify here are butterflies (or flutterbys as they should be called) because they are very nice to look at and they are curious but shy creatures who want to know what your business is in their neighborhood but won’t stay too close.

The Dumb Ones

Bugs that fall under this category include grasshoppers, cicadas and flies. I can’t tell you how many cicadas I have seen fly head first into the side of a hill or a tree trunk. They make a surprisingly loud crunch on impact then they take off again, apparently unscathed, on their journey. While I do enjoy the variety of colors you find, grasshoppers are especially dumb. when frightened, are critters that take flight (rather than stay and fight) and for some reason seem to think jumping right into my shins is the way toward safety. I’m sure you’ve used an outhouse at a trailhead at some point and know them to be often full of flies. Well they all panic when you come in and you hold the door open for them to escape into the wild and they just fly around frantically and never find the source of the fresh air.

The Mean Ones

This is the classification that encompasses wasps, hornets and biting flies. The ones that are just out to get you and leave a painful blemish behind. I haven’t been stung recently but I remain wary of these nasty buggers. Biting flies remain the bane of my existence; they are all just out to get me.

The Pesky Ones

These are the insects where the word bug comes from. They just bug the heck out of you. Mosquitoes for instance are extremely persistent and have that distinct buzz that really grinds my gears. I know they are just trying to survive by sucking my precious blood but seriously do they have to leave the obnoxious itchy red bump behind? I haven’t yet figure out what kind of fly it is that likes to circle my head as I hike 20 feet before flying off but when I do, they better watch out!

So, to return from my tangential story about pests; here is the promised recipe for quinoa and roasted vegetable salad for your enjoyment…

Start by cooking quinoa to package specifications. Chop up any veggies you find in your pantry. I used zucchini, summer squash, onions, carrots and potatoes. Toss all the vegetables together in a large bowl with 3 cloves of minced garlic, 1 Tbsp Herbs de Provence (buy herb mix or make your own), 2 Tbsp olive oil and 1/2 tsp salt. Then spread in a baking dish.

Bake for 30 minutes at 450°F stirring halfway through. Mix veggies in with quinoa and lemon dressing (juice and zest of one lemon, 2 Tbsp EVOO, 1 Tbsp Herbs de Provence) serve with chicken, or other protein, or by itself, whatever you want… what do I know? All I want to talk about is insects.

buzzz buzzz buzzzzzzzzz

Spiced Couscous and Turkey

It’s Foodie Friday Maggie’s Mind Mumblesians, and I have a recipe that would be a great to use for leftover turkey after Thanksgiving. If you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving you can go the deli at your local grocery store and ask for one slice of turkey cut 1/2 inch thick (chicken works well too). For me it cost about $7.00.

Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Spiced Couscous and Turkey

Start by breaking up the turkey with a knife into bite-sized pieces, and collecting the other ingredients…

Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Spiced Couscous and Turkey


Slice the 4 medium carrots and 4 spring onions. chop up 1/2 cup cilantro. Boil 2 1/4 cups of water, add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 teaspoon  salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add the carrots and cook about 3-4 minutes until tender but still crisp. Drain the carrots reserving the liquid (scroll down for a hot and steamy picture).

Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Spiced Couscous and Turkey

Measure 1 cup couscous into a heat-proof bowl, then add the turkey to the bowl and pour in 1 cup of the cook liquid. Stir until mixed and cover tightly. Let sit for 5 minutes then fluff with a fork.

Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Spiced Couscous and Turkey

Meanwhile, melt 3 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup sliced almonds and 1/4 cup golden raisins, the spring onions and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Cook, stirring constantly about 2-3 minutes until nuts are toasted. Stir in the cilantro. You can practically smell this picture!

Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Spiced Couscous and Turkey


Divide the couscous and turkey among bowls (serves 4), top with carrot and some of the cooking liquid. Sprinkle with almond mixture and more cilantro (we all know how much I love cilantro). Top with plain Greek yogurt and/or harissa or other hot sauce.

Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Spiced Couscous and Turkey

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Rainbow Chicken Fajitas

Rainbow Chicken Fajitas are named such because they are made with a rainbow of vegetables. I’m sorry to disappoint those of you who were expecting to see the newest addition to the My Little Ponies family.

This is Rainbow Fajitas; note the chile pepper cutie mark.

Anyway, it’s Food Fun Friday so I’ll get on with the recipe. This is a meal I have been making since I lived at home. It was one of those my mom taught me: basic and quick for nights when we had a lot going on and she didn’t have time to be super creative. Now that I live on my own I make it quite frequently (I often don’t have time to be creative). The point:

  • It’s a delicious meal that doesn’t take too much time (prep, cook or clean-up), basically a one pan meal,
  • I have made it for friends multiple times and always receive compliments, and 
  • when I tell my boyfriend it’s fajita night the response is always enthusiastic (and he doesn’t even like bell pepper that much!)

       Start by preparing your vegetables. I used red, orange and yellow bell peppers because they were a dollar per pepper at the grocery store. I wanted to add more color so I also used a red onion and some zucchini. Any vegetable you have in your inventory would work beautifully; traditionally peppers and onions are involved. Cut everything into somewhat equal-sized sticks.

      Set aside the veggies while you cook the chicken. I always use chicken for fajitas because it’s how I learned; I’m sure it is just as simple to use steak. King Soopers just introduced a new meat brand, which is free range, so they were having a sale on all meat produced by this brand (meat sales are the best sales, especially free-range meat sales).

      Slice the chicken breast into strips. Heat oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken to the skillet.

      Let sizzle for about 3 minutes then flip chicken strips. It’s important to not stir the chicken around in the pan too much because it makes the meat very tough if jostled too much. If you are worried about burning it, reduce the heat (and increase the time cooked).

      After another 3 minutes cooking on the other side they should be cooked through, if they aren’t done you can continue cooking now. They also continue cooking while wrapped in foil and later, when added to the skillet again with the vegetables. So I wouldn’t worry too much.

      Lay out a piece of aluminum foil on the counter, remove chicken from the pan and place on foil.

      Wrap chicken in the foil to keep warm while veggies cook.

      Add a little bit more oil to the skillet and heat over medium. Add the prepared vegetables to the skillet.

      You can buy the packets at the store, McCormick’s is the only one that I know of that doesn’t pack their seasoning packets with preservatives. I make my own mix and keep it in a spice jar. I use it for tacos and fajita’s both. Sometimes I mix it in with ground turkey for burgers as well, and it’s great for chili. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: multi-purpose is a college girls best friend.

      Here is the recipe for my mix:

      Cook veggies until tender. Then add about half a cup of water and 3 tablespoons of fajita seasoning, stir the vegetables to coat them in the seasoning. 

      Now unwrap your chicken. Pour any liquid that has gathered in your packet out in the sink, then add the chicken to the skillet and stir. Cook until water mostly evaporates.

      Serve wrapped in a warm tortilla with beans (I made “refried” beans the same day, what a treat to have beans straight from the crock-pot), cheese, sour cream, salsa, lettuce, etc. Whatever suits your fancy! Smaller fajita tortillas are really the best for this recipe, we only had burrito tortillas and they worked fine. We just had monster fajitas!

      Don’t show these to Chipotle; If I ever need a job there, this is evidence against my burrito wrapping skills.

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      Butternut Squash Autumn Stew

      The air feels crisp and cool, leaves are creating a beautiful mosaic of colors across the landscape and the days are growing shorter, which means it’s time to make soup!

      Every year I always elect to craft a butternut squash stew; to me it screams fall. Therefore every year as the sales on butternut squashes begin I pick one up. I must be blocking the fact that every year it’s actually me who’s screaming (and fall is not mentioned once in said screaming). I wonder why I never remember how awful it is to deal with butternut squashes probably some psychological blockage. Well I am reminding you now to save you the trouble. They are literally the worst vegetable. And here’s why:

      1. They are impossible to slice into when raw. Are they made of steel or what?
      2. You also cannot peel them when raw. They wear the armor of the gods.
      3. After you cook them, you can’t peel them without burning the skin right off your fingers.

        On the other hand, butternut squash is also one of the most delicious vegetables and they’re packed with vitamins and other wonderful things your body needs. So here’s my solution, buy a bag of frozen, cubed butternut squash and save yourself the hacking, prying, swearing, and crying.

        If you, like me, enjoy torturing yourself this is how you tackle the Monty-Python-and-the-Holy-Grail-bunny-like squash:

        (Aside: this is a somewhat obscure reference so I will spell it out for you: the knights in the movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, underestimated the rabbit because it was cute and cuddly and did not intimidate them; then the bunny lurched at one of them and ate his face off. The butternut squash appears inviting and agreeable but then it turns on you becoming an impenetrable fortress. Was this allegory too much of a leap?)

        Right, sorry about the silliness… Back to squash (which is in no way silly):
        1. Preheat the oven to 375°F
        2. Cut the squash in half. Spoon out seeds and goop (technical term); save seeds.
        3. Pour a thin layer of water into a baking pan or cookie sheet with sides.
        4. Place the cut side of the squash face down in the water.
        5. Slide tray into oven and bake for 40 minutes or until fork easily pierces flesh of squash.

        Toss the seeds with salt and toast in toaster oven until crispy 🙂

        While the squash is baking, prepare your other veggies. Finely chop 1 medium onion, peel 3 potatoes and an apple, then chop, setting one potato aside from the others.

        Bring 3 1/2 cups of chicken broth to a boil. Add 1 1/2 pound chicken thighs and boil until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove chicken from broth and place on a plate to cool. Pour broth into a bowl.

        Meanwhile bring about 3 cups of water to boil in a separate pot. Add the apple and two of the potatoes. Cook until tender then drain water and add to a food processor. When squash is finished baking scoop half of the squash into the food processor and set the other half aside to cool. Pulse the potato, apple and squash until smooth. This thickens and adds a creaminess to the soup/stew without adding fat.

        Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and the third potato cook until onions are translucent, add 2 minced cloves garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (we enjoy spicy food here, feel free to reduce or omit this ingredient if you prefer non-spicy), 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon allspice and 1/8 teaspoon ginger, 1/8 teaspoon ground mustard, and 1/8 teaspoon celery salt. Stir until you catch a strong whiff of garlic (about 30 seconds), then pour in the reserved chicken broth. Reduce heat to simmer.

        With a fork and knife and fingers… remove the skins from the chicken. Then remove the chicken from the bones. Add chicken to simmering pot. Then add pureed potato, apple, squash mixture to the pot. Add one 15-oz can petite diced tomatoes as well (with liquid).

        Return to the other half of the squash that you set aside. Cut cubes into the squash and remove skin. Add squash cubes to the pot. Then add 1 cup (ish) chickpeas/garbanzo beans. Stir until everything is heated. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper (or to taste).

        Serve over cooked quinoa or brown rice or with bread.

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        Ingredients

        • 1.5 pounds butternut squash, halved and seeded
        • 2 tablespoons olive oil
        • 1.5 lb chicken thighs
        • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
        • 1 can diced petite tomatoes
        • 2 cloves garlic, minced
        • 3 1/2 cup chicken broth
        • 3 large russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
        • 1 apple, peeled and cubed
        • 1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
        • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
        • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
        • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
        • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
        • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
        • 1/8 teaspoon ground mustard
        • 1/8 teaspoon celery salt
        • salt and pepper to taste (about 1 teaspoon each)
        • 1 cup garbanzo beans

        Well that’s a long list now isn’t it… trust me it’s worth it! (See that bowl of apples? my grandma gave me even more after I made the apple butter… look out for apple cake and applesauce posts coming soon!)

        What’s your favorite fall soup?

        Farmers’ Market Vegetable Stew

        It’s the time of the year when vegetables are plentiful and sometimes it’s hard to know what to do with them all. When I visited my mom two weeks ago we made this soup with many of the vegetables from her garden. 

        Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Farmer's Market Vegetable Stew



        Chop up 1/2 cup onions, 1 cup carrots, 1 pound potatoes, 1 bell peppers of your preferred color, and 2 zucchinis. Mince 3 cloves of garlic.

        Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot. Add the onions, carrots and garlic. Cook about 5 minutes until softened.

        Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Farmer's Market Vegetable Stew

        Add the potatoes, zucchini and a 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes (drained).

        Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Farmer's Market Vegetable Stew

        Stir together 2 tespoons dijon mustard, 1 teaspoons minced ginger, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon italian seasoning. Add 4 tablespoons vegetable broth then add to the pot. Pour in 1 3/4 cup vegetable broth.

        Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Farmer's Market Vegetable Stew
        Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Farmer's Market Vegetable Stew

        Add bell peppers and some fresh basil.

        Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Farmer's Market Vegetable Stew

        Then add the swiss chard.

        Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Farmer's Market Vegetable Stew

        Then pour in some leftover red wine 😉 we used about half a cup of cabarnet. Allow to boil then turn down heat to low. Cover and let simmer for at least 20 minutes. Add one can of chickpeas.

        Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Farmer's Market Vegetable Stew

        Serve with bread and wine. Have some plum cake for dessert.

        Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Farmer's Market Vegetable Stew

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        *Side note: Leftover wine can be frozen in an ice cube tray for use in soups and sauces.

        Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Freeze wine in and ice cube tray

        How have you used your fresh produce this season?

        Crispy-Outside, Soft-Inside Baked Tofu Cubes in Stir-Fry

        Here’s a story for you, the other day I went to the grocery store for a block of tofu and some yogurt. I went to the yogurt section (which by the way, I am convinced they move everything around before I arrive just to confuse me) and picked out a tub. A strange sight uncovered itself as I approached the tofu display: a large group of people clustered around curiously eyeing the suspicious white blocks of soy bean curd.
        I have never seen so many people looking at tofu. Here in Fort Collins most people pass by without batting an eye. Not today, it was tofu awareness day and I missed the memo. I excused myself through the ten or so people, checked prices, and grabbed a block of firm for $2.99.
        As I started to walk away one woman called after me, “Excuse me but, we’ve just been discussing and, how do you cook that?”
        Feeling like Martha Stewart must every day of her life, I walked back and told them.
        I said, “You can cut it into any shape and size pieces you like, slabs or cubes, whatever. Most people I know fry these in oil in a pan, which works just fine, but I personally have another technique…”
        cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies

        I went on to describe the following procedure, which results in crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, restaurant-like tofu cubes. In this method, the tofu is baked and not fry you can cut back on some (minimal amounts of) fat. I used the tofu I bought in a stir-fry.
        Cut the tofu into slabs, cubes of your preferred size. If you want to get real crazy, pull out some cookie cutters. Nothing says fun like star-shaped tofu!

        cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies

        Lay a cloth towel on the counter (NOT terrycloth, unless you enjoy bits of fuzz in your food). Arrange the tofu cubes on the towel in a single layer. Cover with a second cloth (again, I cannot emphasize enough, NOT terrycloth). I used a single cloth folded in half because I only had one clean.

        cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies

        Place a flat surface, like a cutting board, over the towel. Then put something heavy on the cutting board. Leave for 20 minutes. (Or skip all that nonsense and buy a tofu press).
        cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies

        While you wait cut up some veggies (yes I did make a yin-yang out of my peas and carrots). Use any combination of veggies you like. I’d recommend broccoli, carrots, snow peas, soybeans, water chestnuts, onions, bamboo shoots, bell peppers, corn, zucchini or other squash, tomatoes, mushrooms and potatoes. Really any vegetable is great. That’s the beauty of a stir-fry: you can use whatever is in your refrigerator or pantry at the time.
        Mix your sauce: I made a simple sauce of water, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar and cornstarch. This is another great thing about stir-fries, you can use whatever sauce you want. There are infinite combinations of sauces and vegetables.
        cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies
        After 20 minutes spray a baking sheet with cooking oil (I love my misto) and line the tofu cubes on the baking sheet. Set to the side.
        cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies

        Start cooking some rice, or noodles according to the package directions. Heat some oil in a large pan or wok over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and add some minced garlic and red pepper flakes. After about thirty seconds add your veggies and stir.
        cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies

        Turn your oven to broil and place the baking sheet in the oven for 5 minutes. The cubes like to jump around (sometimes off the sheet!)
        cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies
        Continue stirring veggies (Don’t forget to check on your rice or noodles!)
        cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies

        Remove the baking sheet of tofu from the oven and flip the cubes over to cook the other side for 5 minutes.

        cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies
        Add the sauce to the veggies; keep stirring. When the tofu is done add the cubes to the stir-fry (if you can stop yourself from eating them all straight off the pan).
        cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies

        cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies

        Serve with rice. 🙂

        cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies

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