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While traditionally pesto is made with basil, this recipe switches it up with vibrant, peppery arugula that goes perfectly over whole wheat pasta. I made arugula pesto in the past, but neglected to understand the value of recording the recipe. Here is my official first attempt at a delicious and deceptively healthy pesto.

5 cups packed arugula
3/4 cup pecorino, broken up into chunks
3/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 clove garlic
4 T extra-virgin olive oil
Juice 1 lemon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and whirl until smooth (alternately, if you like pesto with a bit more texture, pulse until desired consistency is reached).

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Use as a dip for vegetables or crusty baguette, sauce for pasta (makes enough for 1 pound), garnish for soups, condiment for sandwiches, etc. (I served it with whole wheat pasta, garnished with grated pecorino and freshly ground black pepper.)

There are times when you just gotta embrace your inner crunchy self. Previously, my most granola moment was when I made homemade nut milk. This venture, I believe, takes my hippie-chicness to the next level; this is my level “11”.

No matter the quantity or type of bean, the procedure remains the same:
1. Rinse the beans a few times in a fine-mesh strainer under cold running water
2. Place the beans in a bowl and cover with cold water by an inch or two
3. Soak at room temperature overnight
4. Drain and rinse the beans in a fine-mesh strainer under cold running water
5. Wrap the beans in a clean, damp kitchen towel, place it in a bowl, and keep in a dark place at room temperature for at least a day to sprout (I left mine for about 36 hours). The longer you let them sit, the longer their tails grow!

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Featuring spring carrots, these muffins are a healthy alternative to sweet morning confections. I started with a Carrot Apple Muffin recipe from Whole Foods, and tweaked it a good bit to make them vegan. The whole wheat pastry flour makes the muffins tender, applesauce keeps them moist, and coconut oil gently perfumes the end result.

1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 cup grated carrots (from about 3 medium carrots)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 Tbsp flax meal, soaked in 6 Tbsp water
1/4 cup almond milk (or any other milk alternative)
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. “Butter” (with coconut oil) and flour a 12-cup standard muffin tin or use muffin papers. Set aside. (I used a non-stick muffin tin and omitted this step with great results.)
3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
4. In a separate bowl, combine carrots, applesauce, soaked flax meal mixture, almond milk, coconut oil and vanilla.
5. Add half the carrot mixture to the flour mixture, stir until blended then add the rest of the carrot mixture.
6. Spoon batter into muffin cups and bake about 15-17 minutes or until a toothpick in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Serve warm.

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Notes from attempt #1: (Baking time: 20 minutes) Delicious, tender, moist, lovely! The only problem is the muffins are tiny tiny tiny–they barely rose in the oven. Definitely worth re-doing again (and again and again) to figure out what went wrong, because they are that delicious!

Notes from attempt #2: (Baking time 16 minutes) The muffins are still very small, but a tad bit larger than the previous attempt–but I’m okay with that! It’s a great guilt-free treat that compliments breakfast or completes a mid-afternoon snack.

Estimated nutrition facts: 130 calories, 6 g fat, 16 g carbohydrates (2 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 2 g protein, vitamin A 30%

I’ve been wanting to make this chilled soup for a while, but wasn’t expecting anything earth-shattering. This recipe, however, is pretty spectacular. Rich, luscious, and creamy, it is a meal in itself. A garnish of the soup’s main ingredients gives texture to the final dish, which looks like it came straight from a restaurant kitchen.

1 3/4 cups diced cucumber (1/2 large hothouse), plus more for garnish
1 cup green grapes, plus more for garnish
1 cup slivered or sliced almonds, plus more for garnish
1 clove garlic
1 cups cubed baguette (1/2 a demi-baguette)
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2/3 cups extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
Kosher salt, to taste

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender.
2. Add 2 cups water to the blender and whirl until smooth.
3. Divide evenly among bowls and garnish with diced cucumber, green grapes (halved), almonds, and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

Serves 2-4

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Born from a need to use whatever was in the fridge and to supplement a fabulous sausage hamburger (yup–you heard me), this relish is the perfect side dish for a barbecue.

10-oz bag frozen corn, thawed
1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced
4 scallions, thinly sliced on a bias
Juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste

Optional additions: blue cheese or avocado or jalapeño or feta, but it’s lovely on its own.

1. In a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, char the corn until dark golden brown in spots.
2. Combine corn with remaining ingredients.

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The first time I made Curried Cauliflower over Lentils, the whole was greater than the sum of its parts. Here, I’ve made only a few minor tweaks, but it was even better than attempt number one: brighter, bolder, cleaner–a bit more refined. The cauliflower is roasted with curry powder until it just caramelizes, creating a texture contrast to the bed of creamy lentils underneath. Pomegranate seeds add another pop of color, texture, and acidity, and a garnish of lemon juice and olive oil pushes the flavors just over the edge.

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 1/2 Tbsp canola oil, divided
1 Tbsp curry powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small onion, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/4 cups vegetable broth (or water)
1 cup brown lentils
1 small bunch cilantro, roughly chopped (can substitute fresh parsley)
1 pomegranate, seeded
Lemon juice, for garnish
Extra-virgin olive oil, for garnish

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1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
2. Toss cauliflower florets with 1/2 Tbsp canola oil, curry powder, salt, and black pepper. Spread out on a sheet pan and roast for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown and slightly crispy.
3. Heat remaining 1 Tbsp canola oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Sweat the onions, celery, carrots, and garlic until tender, about 5-7 minutes, stirring often to prevent browning. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Add broth (or water) and lentils to the pot. Bring to a rapid simmer and then reduce to a low simmer, cover, and cook for about 25-30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Stir in the cilantro and adjust seasoning to taste.
5. To plate, spoon lentils onto plate or into bowl. Top with curried cauliflower, garnish with pomegranate seeds, and drizzle with lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil.

A rendition on one of my absolute favorites, Vegan Kitchen Sink Salad, which was originally inspired by the Abundant Harvest Salad I gorged on at Dandelion Communitea Cafe in Orlando, Florida. Make this huge salad at the beginning of the week and enjoy for quick lunches and last-minute dinners all week long. Not only is it vegan and chock full of vegetables and fiber, it is a great allergen-free dish. I usually make it with quinoa, but this time I experimented with millet, a gluten-free grain-like seed that is more commonly known as bird feed. Literally. We’re eating bird food. Feel skinny yet?

1 1/2 cups millet, prepared according to package’s directions, cooled
3 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced on a bias
3 celery stalks, thinly sliced in a bias
1 small head broccoli, cut into small florets
1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
3 oz sprig mix, or other salad green
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
Lemon tahini dressing, for drizzling (though I made a bigger batch, 1/2 cup tahini and 1/2 cup water, to accommodate this bigger recipe)
Pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, to garnish, toasted or raw

1. Combine cooked millet with carrots, celery, broccoli, chick peas, corn kernels, spring mix, and tomatoes.
2. Drizzle with tahini dressing and garnish with seeds. (Leave the salad undressed and drizzle just before serving.)

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