Roasted Fall Veggies

Roasted veggies are probably one of my all-time favorite ways to enjoy various fall vegetables that are in peak season. Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, beets, sweet potatoes…hmmm what else! The caramelized flavor, the golden brown color, and the little crispy bits that get stuck to the pan, if someone doesn’t like a certain veggie – have them try it roasted and see if they like it! The veggies can be roasted in so many different ways, Italian seasonings, curry seasonings, sometimes I just prefer sea salt and pepper, or the veggies can even be mixed with Dijon mustard and then roasted. What are your favorite spices and/or herbs to use when roasting veggies?

Roasted Fall Veggies

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 cups fresh broccoli pieces
  • 1 head of cauliflower, broken into pieces
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and sliced in half
  • 2 beets, washed and chopped into cubes
  • 1 sweet potato, washed and chopped into cubes
  • 1-2 teaspoons sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Your favorite spices/herbs (I like thyme and cumin seeds ~ 1 to 1 ½ teaspoons)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine 1 tablespoon coconut oil and a tablespoon of water with the broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. Toss until veggies are coated with the oil. Arrange veggies on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper and half of your spice and/or herb mixture.

Using the same bowl, combine the remaining tablespoon of oil and a tablespoon of water with the beets and sweet potatoes. Toss until veggies are coated with oil mixture. Arrange on another baking sheet and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and your remaining spice and/or herb mixture.

Note: The veggies can be roasted at a higher temperature, but I prefer to keep the temp. at 350 degrees b/c any higher than that and the coconut oil will surpass it’s smoke point.

The sweet potatoes and beet tray may be placed in the oven first for a 20-minute head-start before placing the other tray in the oven. Once both trays are in oven, bake for an additional 30 to 40 minutes or until veggies are fork-tender and golden brown.


Walnut Crusted Wild Salmon

  • 1 lb fresh wild salmon
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1-2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a plastic ziplock bag, add the walnuts and Cajun seasoning. Using a rolling pin, crush the walnuts until fine crumbs form. This is my quick method but a food processor will work as well.

Place the salmon in a baking dish and add a bit of water to cover the bottom of the pan. Press the seasoned walnut mixture onto the salmon (sprinkle sea salt over the fish if desired) and bake in the oven until salmon is done and flakes easily with a fork (a rule of thumb is about 10 minutes for each 1″ thickness of the filet).

Serve the salmon over a bed of greens with a side of roasted vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes) and enjoy!

Roasted Red Pepper & Artichoke Salsa

Here’s a simple recipe that can be put together super fast for one of those days when you  have no idea what to have for dinner! This salsa is light and fresh with a spicy note from the cayenne pepper! For a dinner idea, enjoy it with whole wheat or gluten-free pasta with a drizzle of olive oil or mixed with cooked beans and topped with sauteed greens for a hearty dinner meal..or it’s perfect as a dip with crunchy crackers or tortilla’s.

  • 1 small jar canned artichokes, rinsed & drained (6.5 oz)
  • 1 jar roasted red bell peppers, rinsed & drained  (~12 oz)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until desired texture is reached. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. If I hand cilantro on hand, it would be a great addition. If you prefer a milder salsa, decrease the amount of cayenne pepper or omit it all together.

Creamy Tomato Soup

I don’t know about you, but my family’s garden is overflowing with tomatoes – little baby tomatoes to good medium-sized, bright red ones. Even though they are great enjoyed fresh with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, the vitamin A content found in tomatoes is better utilized in the body when heated and in the presence of a little bit of fat. One cup of raw tomatoes has about 30% of the Daily Value for Vitamin A.  

I had some onion, garlic, and coconut on hand and decided to put together an easy, creamy tomato soup. If you have fresh herbs in your garden such as basil, oregano, or thyme—they would be a great addition. To help bring out the vitamin A in this soup, a small amount of coconut milk was used, which provides great texture and flavor. Enjoy!

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped
  • ¼ cup coconut milk (full-fat)
  • 2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Fresh pepper to taste

Heat a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped onions with a half teaspoon of salt. If the onions begin to stick to the pan, add about a quarter cup of water. When the onions are soft and translucent, add the oregano, garlic and tomatoes. Cook over low to medium heat until the tomatoes breakdown and release their juices.

Once the tomatoes are soft, transfer the soup contents to a high powered blender and blend until smooth and creamy (be careful with the hot contents of the soup and allow some of the heat to escape when blending). Add in the coconut milk, and 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar. Re-blend and taste the soup, adjust seasonings accordingly (add more salt or vinegar to taste). Garnish the soup with fresh herbs and a sprinkle of fresh pepper!

What is your favorite way to use up all the tomatoes from your garden?

Quick & Easy Vegetable Saute

I love simple dishes that come together and are full of flavor. This is a perfect side dish to accompany scrambled eggs, grilled chicken or fish or cooked beans (chickpeas, my favorite!). Top the dish with chopped walnuts, toasted pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds for a nice crunch and added healthy fats. Ume plum vinegar is salty and slightly tart, yet provides lots of flavor…start with a small amount and adjust as necessary.

2 teaspoons coconut oil
1/2 a small red onion, chopped
1 bunch Swiss Chard, washed and chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 zucchini, sliced in half moons
1/2 teaspoon cumin, coriander and thyme
Ume plum vinegar
Red wine vinegar

In a large saute pan, add the oil and heat slowly. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the onions and saute until soft and translucent.

Add the Swiss chard, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, and spices. Stir vegetables and cover the pot until vegetables are tender, about five minutes.

When vegetables are tender, add ume plum vinegar and red wine vinegar to taste. Adjust seasonings, if necessary. Enjoy!

Stuffed Portobello’s

I was at PCC (the local co-op grocery store) the other day browsing around the vegetables and came across portobello mushrooms. Local and organic, I had to pick some up. I decided to do a little research on the nutrition of mushrooms, as there are so many varieties and thought I would share.

Mushrooms are a type of fungus known as mycelium and have been cultivated for years for food and their medicinal benefits. Hundreds of varieties of mushroom exist in an assortment of different sizes, shapes, colors, flavors, and textures including crimini, white button, shiitake, maitake, porcini, chanterelles, lobster, morels and oyster among many others. Interestingly, I found out that portobello mushrooms are actually crimini mushrooms that have grown to full size. Mushrooms provide a unique flavor to dishes known as Umami, which is known as the fifth taste sense and is Japanese for “savory taste.” They also have a meaty taste and commonly used as meat replacements in certain dishes.

In regards to nutrition, mushrooms are a great low-calorie food while providing many vitamins and minerals.  One cup of sliced grilled portobello mushrooms contain 35 calories, 4 g of protein, 5.3 g of carbohydrates, 2.7 g of fiber and 110 g of water.

Portobello mushrooms are a great source of B-vitamins including riboflavin, pantothenic acid, niacin, thiamin and pyridoxine, which are important for energy production, antioxidant function and DNA synthesis. In addition, they contain high amounts of selenium, copper, potassium, phosphorous, and trace amounts of zinc, iron, calcium, and manganese.

Below is a recipe for stuffed mushrooms. I had some canned, wild salmon on hand and decided to create a tasty mixture to use as a stuffing in the mushrooms. The combination of the spices, vegetables, and salmon turned out great.

 Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

When cleaning portobello mushrooms, remove any dirt with a damp cloth. Avoid cleaning them under running water, as this can cause them to become soggy. When storing mushrooms, choose a non-airtight container, as they need air to breathe. They can be stored in a paper bag or in plastic packaging, as long as their are holes to promote circulation and will last about a week in the refrigerator.

  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • ½ jalapeño, minced
  • 2 cups diced zucchini
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • Cajun spice mix, to taste (about a tablespoon)
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish, optional
  • 3 portobello mushrooms, stems reserved and cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the onion, jalapeno, zucchini, garlic, and carrot. Add in your favorite Cajun spice blend, the juice of the limes, the chopped mushroom stems, and stir to combine.

Scoop 1/3 cup of the vegetable mixture into each portobello mushroom and place on a baking sheet. Place in the preheated oven and bake for a half-hour.

Serve warm with a bit of chopped cilantro for garnish, if you prefer. Enjoy!

Chicken, Spinach, & Mushroom Quesadillas

Having trouble deciding what to have for dinner? Perhaps you need something that is easy, fun, and tastes great? Quesadillas are a perfect choice, as they not only use up any leftovers you may have in the fridge but are so versatile! You can choose to make them vegetarian by adding your favorite beans with vegetables including spinach, diced summer squash and tomatoes, or chopped bell peppers with a bit of your favorite cheese or vegan by mixing some delicious nutritional yeast to your filling. Other options include chopped chicken, ground turkey, or fish with endless options of seasonings from Mexican (chili powder, cumin, oregano), Indian (turmeric, coriander, ginger, cumin, cayenne), an Italian blend, or a mixture of allspice and thyme. Here is one recipe that I enjoy and feel free to experiment with different vegetables, seasonings, and fillings.

 Chicken, Spinach, & Mushroom Quesadillas

  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon jalapeño, minced
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups crimini or white button mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves, sliced into ribbons
  • 2 cups cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
  • 4 brown rice tortillas
  • 1 cup Cotija cheese
  • ¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • ½ cup salsa

In a large sauté pan, add coconut oil and heat until warm over medium heat. Add onions and sea salt and sauté until onions are soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add jalapeño, chili powder, cumin, and oregano and stir to combine. Add garlic, mushrooms, and baby spinach. Sauté until mushrooms are tender and spinach has wilted, about 2-5 minutes or until water from mushrooms has evaporated. Add chicken, stir to combine and turn the heat off.

Place brown rice tortillas on a cutting board or a flat work surface and cover one-half of each tortilla with ½ cup vegetable and chicken mixture, 1 tablespoon cilantro, and ¼ cup of cheese. Carefully fold each tortilla over in half.

Grease a skillet with a small amount of coconut oil and turn the heat to medium. Place the folded tortillas on the hot skillet and cook for approximately 2-3 minutes. Using a large spatula, gently flip the quesadilla over and cook for another 2-3 minutes or until tortilla is lightly browned and the cheese is melted. Repeat this method with the remaining tortillas.

Slice each quesadilla in half. To serve, place two halves on a plate and top with 2 tablespoons salsa and serve warm.

Yield:  4 quesadillas

Copyright 2009, J. Usdavin, Original recipe