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High in fiber, low in fat, and completely adaptable to your taste, this soup is great for all seasons. Serve as an entree for a healthy, satisfying meal that comes together quickly for an easy weeknight meal.

1 Tbsp canola oil
1 medium onion, medium dice
3 medium carrots, medium dice
3 stalks celery, medium dice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1/2 cup white wine
1 28-oz can peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand
2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth to make it vegan)
3 15-oz cans black beans, drained
1 bay leaf
10 sprigs fresh thyme
Fresh cilantro (or parsley), rough chop, for garnish
Avocado, diced, for garnish
Lime juice, for garnish
Greek yogurt, for garnish (omit to make it vegan and dairy-free)

1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots, and celery to the pot, season with salt and pepper, and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
2. Add garlic and jalapeno and cook for another minute.
3. Stir in tomato paste, cumin, and smoked paprika and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
4. Deglaze the pan with wine, scraping the bottom of the pot to loosen any stuck-on bits; reduce by half.
5. Add tomatoes, chicken broth, 1 cup water, beans, bay leaf, and thyme; bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Remove bay leaf and thyme and roughly puree with an immersion blender or regular blender (it should still be very chunky; alternately, you could eliminate this step completely and leave it as is).
7. Adjust seasoning and serve with cilantro (or parsley), avocado, lime juice, and yogurt (all optional).

Initially posted without a photo on account of a stolen phone, photo below was retrieved from the magical cloud!
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The ultimate healthy TV dinner. I served this with a raw broccoli and grape salad (recipe to follow).

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2 avocados, sliced
1 cup all-purpose flour (can use gluten-free all-purpose flour)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs (substitute with gluten-free to make it, well, gluten-free)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup plain, non-fat yogurt (or Greek yogurt)
3 chipotles in adobo, roughly chopped, plus 2 tablespoons adobo sauce (feel free to scale down or up, depending on how spicy you like it; this makes it pretty spicy but not overpowering)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Set up a breading station: Combine flour with salt and pepper and place on a plate. Beat the eggs in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Combine breadcrumbs with salt and pepper and place on another plate.
3. Dredge the avocado slices in flour, then shake off excess and dip in the egg mixture. Allow excess egg to drip off before dipping in the breadcrumbs.
4. Place breaded avocado slices on a baking sheet.
5. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy.
6. Make the aioli by combining mayonnaise, yogurt, chipotles, and adobo sauce. Season with salt, to taste.

Generously serves 2 hungry people.

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Notes: Very tasty, but next time try a shallow fry in oil, which will lend tremendous flavor to the breadcrumbs.

3 T olive oil
1 onion, small dice
2 stalks celery, small dice
2 large carrots, peeled and small dice
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or substitute with water or vegetable broth for vegan soup)
1 cup red lentils
Garnish options: freshly squeezed lemon juice, chopped cilantro, sliced scallions, Greek yogurt, extra-virgin olive oil, spices (chili powder, cumin, cayenne)…

1. Heat oil in a pot over medium heat and then add onion, celery, and carrots. Season with salt and pepper and saute, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 6-8 minutes.
2. Add garlic and cook for about 1 minute, or until fragrant.
3. Stir in tomato paste, cumin, chili powder, and cayenne pepper and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring often.
4. Pour broth into the pot and stir, scraping the bottom of the pot to loosen any bits.
5. Add the lentils to the pot.
6. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked through.
7. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve with garnish options of your choice, depending on taste and whether you are making the soup vegan.

Serve with whole wheat naan or pita bread and you’ll feed 3 hungry or 4 normal(ish) people.

red lentil soup

The best part about this recipe? It gets even better as it sits. Make plenty so that you have leftovers throughout the week.

Mujaddara, though humble, inexpensive, and not terribly attractive, should be the star of your vegetarian dinner. Nobody puts mujaddara in a corner.

1 1/4 cup brown rice
1 cup lentils
1.5 tbsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
Juice of 1 lemon
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
2 onions, thinly sliced
greek yogurt, for serving
parsley sprig, for garnish

1. Prepare brown rice and lentils according to the package directions.
2. When both are done, combine and gently toss with cumin, chili powder, scallions, mint, parsley, salt and pepper.
3. While the rice and lentils are cooking, heat olive oil and butter in a large pan over medium-low heat. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to become translucent, about 10 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook for 5 minutes more, adding water as needed to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Then increase the pan to high heat to char the onions and crisp them a bit.
4. Serve the brown rice and lentil mixture warm, topped with the caramelized onions and a dollop of Greek yogurt and parsley sprig.

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I know that you’re supposed to have soup when you’re sick, but after trying this–gulp–vegetarian chili, it hit the spot. Maybe I still feel like $#!+, but at least I had a taste of comfort food, and all I had to do was a little prep work the night before, and turn the slow cooker on in the morning.

I came home from work, spooned some chili into a big bowl and topped it with Greek yogurt and sliced scallions.*

You can find the recipe here, on the Real Simple website. Take the opportunity to actually enjoy this meatless chili; I’m not saying it’s better than a beefy variety, but it’s damn tasty.

*Please note: when I am sick, there is little motivation for me to eat in my underwear; however, once I recover, I’ll be stripping down to enjoy this little number. And I won’t feel guilty after polishing off a bowl (or two).

A birthday celebration with my best friends from high school usually involves a high level of ethanol and specific foods fit for eating after a night of dancing and drinking. These foods are generally rich in saturated fats that plagues you with great guilt the next day.

Keeping this in mind, I made one of my best friends’ favorites to satisfy our cravings and alleviate some of the morning-after shame: French onion dip. This recipe replaces the sour cream with non-fat plain Greek yogurt, retaining creaminess and cutting much of the fat.

Caramelize sliced onions in oil and season with S & P. During the last minute of cooking, add minced garlic. Remove from the pan and cool. Once the onions have come to room temperature, combine with mayonnaise, yogurt and chopped fresh parsley. Season with lemon juice and S & P, to taste.

Refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight. This dip gets better with time, and you’d never notice that it contains half the fat of traditional French onion dip.

So whether or not you eat these in your underwear, your booty will thank you in the morning.