Mesquite Banana Bread - The Clean Gourmet

Mesquite Banana Bread

No, this is not barbecue flavored banana bread.  Mesquite powder (or “flour”) is what boosts this banana bread.

Mesquite powder is made of dried and ground pods from the mesquite plant.  It has a toasty, sweet flavor, yet it’s extremely low on the glycemic index.  Renowned for its nutrition density, mesquite is high in protein, magnesium, potassium, iron, and zinc.  Also, thanks to its high proportion of fiber, it actually reduces the glycemic load of whatever you’re adding it to (baked goods, smoothies, oatmeal, etc.), giving you sustained energy and fewer snack cravings.

This banana bread is loaded with flavor and nutrition.  Aside from the addition of mesquite, it’s gently sweetened with bananas and a hint of coconut sugar, and is made with whole wheat and almond flours for extra fiber and minerals.

Mesquite flour tends to have stubborn clumps, so make sure to sift it, or else you’ll end up with pasty clumps of mesquite flour in the finished product.

To make it pretty, top with banana slices or pecan halves before placing in the oven to bake:).

If you find you love mesquite as much as I do, I highly recommend you try Warm Pecan Mesquite Milk– perfect for cozy fall and winter nights, it’s essence of mesquite in a mug.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup mesquite flour

1/2 cup almond flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Scant 1 cup mashed banana (about 3 medium bananas)

1/3 cup grass fed butter or 1/2 cup coconut oil

1/3 cup coconut sugar

1/2 cup European style yogurt (preferably grass fed cream on top) or buttermilk

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup pecan halves, broken into pieces

What you need:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a standard loaf pan with parchment paper (alternatively, makes 2 mini loaves).

Sift flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Beat butter and coconut sugar in a large bowl.  Add eggs, mashed banana, and yogurt.  

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing with a large spatula until just incorporated.  Fold in the pecans.  Bake for 40-50 minutes (30-35 minutes for mini loaves), or until a knife or toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in the pan 20 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.


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Basil Thai Noodles with Bison and Zucchini + Spicy Quick Pickled Cucumber

Bison (or Buffalo) is a sustainable alternative to beef, as bison don’t graze nearly as intensely as cattle and, since they are native to North America, are adapted to the American climate and natural food sources.  This means less land and energy needed for shelter/heating and we don’t need to spend gallons of water growing their food.

Aside from the ecological bonuses of eating bison rather than beef, the health benefits of bison meat include lower saturated fat, more omega 3s, more protein, and fewer calories. Another plus, it’s illegal to administer growth hormones to bison in the U.S and antibiotics are rarely needed since they’ve evolved to survive in North America.

So choose bison next time a recipe calls for beef!  Bison’s flavor is similar to, if not better than, beef and it’s becoming more and more readily available.

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Before you start working on the noodles, do the Spicy Quick Pickled Cucumber.  It takes five minutes to prepare and it’ll be perfect within 30 minutes, just when you’ve finished your colorful bowl of noodles.

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This answer to take out is a fun way to enjoy ground bison, but feel free to substitute the meat with tempeh for vegetarians.

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Basil Thai Noodles with Bison and Zucchini

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1/2 pound wide rice noodles

1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, divided

1 teaspoon sesame seeds

1 pound grass fed ground beef or bison (or tempeh if vegan)

¼ teaspoon salt

1 medium yellow onion, sliced

1-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons coconut aminos, or 1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 teaspoon coconut sugar

1 large carrot, thin matchstick cut or bias cut

1 large zucchini, medium matchstick cut

1 ounce Thai basil or regular basil (about 1 cup picked leaves), stemmed and left whole

juice of 2 limes

3 scallions, bias cut (reserve some of the green cuts for garnish)

1/2 cup roasted peanuts, to finish

What to do:

Cook wide rice noodles 9 minutes (may vary depending on the brand you buy- check package directions), and toss with toasted sesame oil and sesame seeds.  Set aside.

Sauté ground meat in oil in a large high sided skillet over high heat.  Break it up as it cooks, but be careful not to agitate too much- you want to allow the meat to brown.  Season with salt and remove from pan with a slotted spoon or spatula and add to noodles, trying to keep drippings in the pan.

In the same pan you used to cook the meat, sauté onion, ginger, and garlic in drippings and remaining 2 teaspoons of toasted sesame oil over medium high heat, about 5 minutes.  Deglaze pan with coconut aminos and fish sauce. Add carrot and zucchini and continue to cook, tossing frequently, about 5-8 minutes or until softened.  Add vegetables to noodles, along with basil, lime juice and scallion.  Toss and serve.  Garnish with reserved scallion and more sesame seeds or some roasted peanuts.

Great with sesame roasted broccoli and spicy quick pickled cucumber (below).

Spicy Quick Pickled Cucumber

Ingredients:

1 cucumber, peeled and cut into quarter moons

1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled

pinch red pepper flakes

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar

1/2 teaspoon coconut sugar

What to do:

Combine all ingredients, cover, and let marinate 20 minutes or overnight.

 


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Pesto, Quinoa, and Chickpea Eggplant Bake

Woo!  My first video.  It’s a little rough, but hey, it’s a start🙂.  Scroll to the bottom to watch the assembly.  (FYI I forgot the chickpeas in the making of the video – doh! – just be sure to add them to the quinoa, as described in recipe instructions.)

I pretty much always have pesto and cooked chickpeas in my freezer; and quinoa, crushed tomatoes, and Parmesan are standard provisions as well.  I don’t think I’m the only one on this front, so if you’re only missing one or two of the above, this baked delight requires a minimal amount of planning to make.  It’s essentially a lighter eggplant parmesan with a quinoa pesto twist.

Marinara is pretty basic to whip up- garlic, parsley, and basil simmered in crushed tomatoes- but an organic store bought sauce will do.  Just look for one without sugar in it for authentic flavor and to avoid adding hidden refined sugars to your diet.

Pesto, Quinoa, and Chickpea Eggplant Bake - The Clean Gourmet

Pesto, Quinoa, and Chickpea Eggplant Bake

Serves 6

Ingredients:

2/3 cup quinoa (ideally sprouted)

1 1/3 cup broth or salted water

2-3 medium Italian or globe eggplant (about 1 lb)

1 tablespoon olive oil or avocado oil

1 cup cooked chickpeas

3 tablespoons pesto

About 14.5 ounces marinara sauce (crushed tomatoes, garlic, basil, parsley)

1/3 cup goat cheese, mascarpone, or ricotta

1/3 cup grated Parmesan

1 cup fresh basil, finely chopped

What to do:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Bring quinoa and broth to boil, then reduce heat to lowest setting and simmer about 18 minutes, until liquid is absorbed.  Set aside.

While quinoa cooks, slice eggplant lengthwise ¼” thick.  Sprinkle slices with salt and let rest in a large colander 15-20 minutes. Rinse, squeeze, and pat dry slabs with clean kitchen towel or paper towels.  Toss with oil and arrange on a baking sheet (alternatively, you can spray evenly with Misto oil sprayer).  Roast for about 20 minutes, until tender and browned.

Toss cooked and cooled quinoa with chickpeas and pesto.

To assemble:

In a medium baking dish, layer: marinara, half of eggplant slices, all of quinoa mix, goat cheese (or mascarpone, ricotta, etc.) and a bit of marinara, remaining eggplant slices, rest of marinara, Parmesan.

Bake 20-30 minutes, until sauce is bubbling and Parmesan is browning.  Top with fresh basil and serve.

Make ahead: Roast eggplant and cook quinoa ahead of time.  Assemble ingredients ahead of time in a metal pan (cold glass or ceramic may crack if placed immediately in a hot oven.)

 


Yellow Cauliflower and Squash Freekeh Bowl - The Clean Gourmet

Yellow Cauliflower and Squash Freekeh Bowl with Manchego

“What’s freekeh?”, you might be saying.  Freekeh is an ancient form of wheat that is truly delicious.  Nutty in flavor and creamy in texture, you can replace the rice in risotto or paella with this fun little grain for a more flavorful and faster cooking twist on such classics.  Freekeh is also higher in fiber and protein than rice, so why not try it?  (It is not, however, gluten free!  So keep that in mind when preparing for those with an intolerance.)

The key to this creamy, risotto like, dish is to use some really delicious, collagen-rich stock.  Stock is the main building block for flavor and a super creamy texture.  My favorite is made with chicken and venison bones, but a mix of beef bones and chicken wings is a great substitute.  Many specialty grocers and butchers now sell bone broth, so you don’t have to make it yourself if you’re not much into D.I.Y.-ing.  If I haven’t convinced you of the superior flavor of bone broth, the many health benefits of it are further reason to consider it (many resources online explain why).

Cooking the cauliflower and zucchini until very tender also contributes to the creamy texture.  I like the slightly cheesy flavor of yellow/orange cauliflower (a.k.a. “citrus cauliflower”), but regular white cauliflower will do fine as a substitute.

Note: The freekeh absorbs quite a bit of liquid when soaking, so you’ll probably want to use a bigger bowl than you think you’ll need for that initial step.  Of course, you can skip the pre-soak, but I recommend it, since it makes the grains more digestible and quicker cooking.

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Yellow Cauliflower and Squash Freekeh Bowl with Manchego

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

1 cup cracked freekeh, soaked overnight (if you forget or don’t have time, increase broth by 1 1/2 cups and cook additional 10-20 minutes)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large shallot, finely chopped

2 medium cloves garlic, minced

8 ounces oyster mushrooms, torn or cut into large pieces

2 yellow zucchini/summer squash, medium dice

1 small/medium head yellow “citrus” cauliflower (about 1.25 lbs), cut into small florets (white cauliflower is a fine substitute)

3 cups rich homemade stock

1 teaspoon sea salt

about 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 sprigs fresh thyme

half bunch parsley, very finely chopped

4 ounces Manchego cheese, cut into ¼” chunks

micogreens or more fresh parsley, to serve

What to do:

Drain and rinse soaked freekeh, then set aside.

Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add olive oil, shallots, garlic, and mushrooms, cooking until softened, about 2 minutes.  Add squash, cauliflower, drained freekeh, thyme and stock.  Stir well, bring to a simmer and cover.  Continue to cook until freekeh is cooked through and vegetables are nice and soft, about 20-30 minutes.  It’s best to stir a few times during cooking to prevent sticking and to increase creamy texture.  Don’t worry about the vegetables getting mashed- that’ll just make it more creamy:).

Uncover, taste to confirm that the grains are finished cooking, and stir in parsley and cheese.  Adjust for salt and pepper and top with microgreens or more fresh parsley to serve.

Great served with a peppery arugula salad and some baked chicken or white fish for protein.

 


Cucumber Melon Mint Smoothie - The Clean Gourmet

Cucumber Melon Mint Smoothie

Cucumber is actually a melon so, technically, the name is redundant, but no one probably cares.  I love a good theme, and cucumber and cantaloupe fit the melon theme perfectly.

I love cantaloupe (like other melons) for smoothies because its mellow sugar and flavor let you still appreciate a good homemade nut milk, while the low acidity makes for a super creamy smoothie that could almost pass off as a milkshake.

If you can’t have dairy, sub the yogurt with coconut cream.  You can either buy a can of it or open a can of regular coconut milk and scoop out the solids (a.k.a. the cream) that have separated from the liquid.

Note: If your cantaloupe and cucumber aren’t frozen, I recommend adding a few cubes of ice or frozen nut milk.

Cucumber Melon Mint Smoothie

Serves 1-2 

Ingredients:

⅔ cup nut milk (I love almond sesame milk from scratch for this smoothie) or grass fed cow’s milk

1 ½ cups cantaloupe chunks (ideally frozen)

½ medium cucumber, peeled and cut into chunks (ideally frozen)

1 teaspoon cold milled flaxseed

4 fresh mint leaves

½ teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/4 teaspoon vanilla powder

⅓ cup yogurt or 1/4 cup coconut cream

1 Medjool date

Optional: 1 scoop protein powder (I use Tera’s Whey Grass Fed Plain)

What to do:

Place all ingredients in blender and run at high speed until smooth, 1-2 minutes.  Serve immediately.

 


Greek Summer Vegetable Gratin - The Clean Gourmet

Greek Style Summer Vegetable Gratin (Plus a Bonus: Greek Style Lemon Potatoes)

I live in a very Greek neighborhood of Queens, but rarely go out to eat.  That’s not to say I’m not piqued by what I see in the specialized grocery stores in my area.  Seasonal produce, an entire wall of olive oils, SIXTEEN kinds of fresh feta, and ready meals that are not fried chicken and mushy macaroni salad, name a few examples.

This is usually a quick mid-week dinner, served alongside sautéed broccoli rabe or a simple salad with oregano and red wine vinaigrette.  However, if we want something heartier, I’ll also make some classic Greek style lemon potatoes.  Bonus! I’ve included said recipe below- no photo, but trust me, they’re delish😉.

Greek Style Summer Vegetable Gratin

Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

⅓ cup quinoa (or ½ pound ground lamb, turkey, or beef for grain free/high protein version)

½ teaspoon salt

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

¾ tsp sweet paprika

¼ tsp ground allspice (ground clove is a good substitute)

¼ teaspoon crushed coriander

¼ teaspoon dried dill

⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper (I do about 6 turns on a pepper mill)

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 small/medium yellow onion, small dice

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into rounds (cut on the bias if your carrots are skinny)

⅓ cup vegetable or chicken broth

14.5 oz can tomato sauce

1 tsp honey

2 medium zucchini or summer squash

1 small eggplant (I like white, Japanese, or Italian varieties)

Handful fresh parsley, finely chopped

For the topping:

2 eggs

½ cup grated Parmesan

⅔ cup 2% Greek yogurt

A few grinds black pepper

What to do:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Cook quinoa in 2/3 cup water with a pinch of salt.  If using meat, brown in a pan with a bit of oil over medium/high heat until fully cooked, breaking it up with a heat resistant spatula or wooden spoon as it cooks.  Scoop out with slotted spoon and set aside.

Assemble spices (salt, cinnamon, paprika, allspice, coriander, dill, black pepper) in a small bowl or cup and set aside.

Meanwhile, sauté carrots, onion and garlic with olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Once soft, add spices and sauté for 1 minute, until fragrant.

Add broth, zucchini, and eggplant, cover and simmer on medium for 10 minutes.

While the zucchini and eggplant cook, mix eggs, Parmesan, yogurt, and black pepper for topping in a small/medium bowl and set aside.

Add tomatoes, cooked quinoa (or meat), and honey and cook an additional 5-10 minutes, covered, until vegetables are just tender.

Pour into casserole dish and spread yogurt topping over stew.  (If your pan is oven safe, skip a step and pour the yogurt topping right over stew in the pan you’re cooking in.)

Place in preheated oven and cook for 20 minutes, until topping is set.  Sprinkle with a generous amount of parsley and serve.

Inspired by: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/11/health/nutrition/11recipehealth.html?ref=kale

Greek Style Lemon Potatoes

Ingredients:

2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered lengthwise

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon garlic flakes

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 cups vegetable broth

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

What to do:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Toss all ingredients together in a baking dish and bake one hour, or until potatoes are fork tender.

 

 


Baharat Spiced Lamb and Sorghum Stuffed Tomatoes and Peppers - The Clean Gourmet

Spiced Lamb and Sorghum Stuffed Tomatoes and Peppers

Sorghum is a gluten free grain that has yet to gain in popularity, but should be.  It’s a round grain that looks a lot like Israeli cous cous and has a mild enough flavor that it makes a seamless whole grain alternative.  Sorghum does take a while to cook, so I recommend soaking it overnight, like you would beans, before cooking.  If you have a pressure cooker, use it to prepare perfectly tender sorghum in a fraction of the time.

Of course, if you’re not into exotic ingredients or can’t conveniently access sorghum, cous cous or rice will sub just fine in this recipe.  But PLEASE, try the sorghum!  Like most things, you can buy it online.

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Since I cannot stand wasting food, I macerated the tomato guts with a bit of balsamic vinegar and salt to make a dressing/topping for a side salad, along with some ribbons of zucchini, which is so abundant this time of year🙂.

Spiced Lamb and Sorghum Stuffed Tomatoes and Peppers

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

4 bell peppers, cut vertically in half, gutted and blanched 3 minutes in boiling water

4 beefsteak tomatoes, tops removed and gutted

1 cup sorghum, soaked overnight (or 2 cups cooked Isreali cous cous or rice are fine substitutes)

1.5 pounds ground lamb

½ medium red onion

2 cloves garlic

1 bunch broccoli rabe, well cleaned and roughly chopped

1 ¾ teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon Cinnamon

1 tablespoon Ground cumin

1 tablespoon Baharat spice mix

½ teaspoon Garlic powder

¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped

1 bunch parsley, finely chopped

Panko mix:

⅔ cup panko

1.5 tablespoons harissa paste or 2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 tablespoon olive oil

Zest of 1 lemon

What to do:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Prepare a baking dish with oil or parchment.  Arrange tomatoes and peppers in the dish, hollow side up.

Cook sorghum in boiling water 40 minutes, until tender, and drain. (I like to use a pressure cooker at 10.5 psi for 9 minutes.)

Brown lamb in skillet, breaking up with a wooden spoon.  Remove meat with a slotted spoon into a medium bowl and set aside.  Discard grease, but do not wash out the pan.

Add onion and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes, then add garlic and broccoli rabe and cook until soft, about 8 minutes.  Season with salt, cumin, and baharat.  Add lamb, sun-dried tomatoes, and parsley.

Combine panko mix ingredients in a small bowl.  Stuff peppers and tomatoes with lamb mixture and top with panko.

Bake for 30 minutes, until golden brown.

 


Pasta with Leek, Pancetta, and Cashew Cream - The Clean Gourmet

Pasta with Leek, Pancetta, and Cashew Cream (Dairy Free)

This is one of the easiest things I make- easily done in 20 minutes, start to finish.  It’s pretty, too.

Instead of dairy cream I make a quick cashew cream.  The cashews can be soaked in cool water during the hours while at work, ready to go by dinnertime.  Otherwise, soak them for for 20-30 minutes in very hot water for times when planning ahead doesn’t work out.  Unlike almond milk/cream, cashew cream does not need to be strained, so it’s really just a matter of throwing soaked cashews in a blender with a bit of water and running it on high.

Try to find the thinly sliced big rounds of pancetta, otherwise just use prosciutto.  You really want those satisfying bites of umami scattered in your bowl, not the minced up pancetta that’ll just blend in with everything else.

As with any nut based sauce, cashew cream thickens with time, so if you’re making this knowing it’s going to sit for a bit before being enjoyed, add a little more of the broth at the end than is called for, up to 1/2 a cup.

Pasta with Leek, Pancetta, and Cashew Cream

Serves 2

Ingredients:

½ cup cashews

8 ounces pasta (I like Jovial brown rice casarecce)

½ tablespoon olive oil

½ tablespoon grass fed butter (or neutral oil, such as avocado oil, for 100% dairy free version)

1 medium/large leek, white part only, small dice

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 ounces thin pancetta rounds or thinly sliced prosciutto

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (from about 1/2 lemon)

¼ cup broth or water

Salt and black pepper

Fresh thyme or chervil, to serve

What to do:

Make cashew cream:

Soak cashews in cool water for 2-5 hours (or 20-30 minutes in hot water if you haven’t planned ahead).  Drain cashews and blend on high setting with 1 cup water and ⅛ teaspoon salt.  Set aside.

Prepare the pasta:

Bring salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions.

In a medium pot or high sided sauté pan, sweat leeks and garlic in olive oil/butter mix over medium heat.  Try to avoid any browning.

Reduce heat to low and add pancetta/prosciutto to pot, twirling them so they cook up into little bundles.

Add cooked and drained pasta, cashew cream, salt, black pepper, and lemon juice to pan with leeks and prosciutto.

Remove pan from heat, taste, and adjust for salt and pepper.  Loosen sauce with broth or water and finish with fresh thyme or chervil just before serving.

 


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Creamy (Creamless) Summer Corn Soup

This soup is a celebration of summer corn- with few ingredients the creamy, sweet corn flavor really is what it’s about.  Adaptable for a fancy first course, a simple summer dinner, or a side for summer grilling, Creamy Corn Soup is a handy chameleon to have in your recipe bank.

This weekend, it was a simple Sunday dinner, accompanied by a Boston leaf, radish, and walnut salad.  I also made a quick sea bean chutney to dollop into the soup, as well as seared tempeh cubes for light protein.

For another winning dinner, drop in some seared okra chunks and serve it alongside this pork dish.

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Creamy (Creamless) Summer Corn Soup 

Serves 2-3

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon butter or avocado oil (or better yet, half of each- butter for flavor, avocado oil for cooking properties)

1/2 onion or 1 large shallot

1 whole clove garlic, peeled and quartered

2 ears corn

1/3 medium head cauliflower, cut into small florets (about 1½ cups florets)

⅛ teaspoon dried thyme or 2 sprigs fresh thyme

4 cups water

¼ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

⅛ teaspoon white pepper or finely ground black pepper

Fresh thyme, for serving
What to do:

Remove kernels from corn cobs.  Do not throw out the cobs!

Sweat onion and garlic in butter/oil. Add corn kernels, cobs, cauliflower, thyme and water.  Season with salt and pepper and simmer 20 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender. Remove corn cobs from soup, as well as thyme sprigs if using fresh.  Blend soup in high speed blender until very smooth.

Pour into soup bowls and sprinkle with fresh thyme.

Serving suggestions:  Top with a dollop of green bean chutney (pictured); chili seasoned seared tempeh cubes; seared okra chunks; or make it a side for roasted/grilled pork loin.

 


Breakfast Beets with Yogurt - The Clean Gourmet

Breakfast Beets with Yogurt

This is the sweet breakfast for savory breakfast fans, but a healthier, yet satisfying alternative for those who prefer a sugary start to their day.

Personally, I don’t tolerate much sugar, including fruit, first thing in the morning, but beets have a low/moderate effect on blood sugar (a.k.a. glycemic load).

If you exercise often, then I highly recommend regularly incorporating beets into your diet, as they’ve been shown to aid in muscle recovery, thereby boosting future performance.

For a dairy-free version, replace the yogurt with a drizzle of cold-pressed flaxseed oil.

Breakfast Beets with Yogurt

Serves 2

Ingredients:

3 medium beets, steamed until tender and cut into quarters

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons dried cranberries

1 teaspoon unhulled sesame seeds

Juice of 1 lemon

⅛ teaspoon salt

⅓ cup whole Greek yogurt (dairy-free version: 1 tablespoon cold-pressed flaxseed oil)

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint

Chopped toasted nuts and seeds (pictured: pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds)

What to do:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and serve immediately.