When the weekend rolls around, we like to slow things down and start our evening meal off with Cinq à Sept, our version of the French cocktail hour. And that means a little something to eat before dinner. I discovered this refreshing Spring dip from Michael Symon on Food Network’s website recently and it has quickly become a favorite before dinner treat.
- 2 cups fresh or frozen peas (frozen peas, way easier and usually in my freezer anyway)
- Kosher salt
- 1 cup fresh sheep’s milk ricotta (okay, cheated – bought low-fat store-brand ricotta)
- Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (don’t even think about that canned stuff!)
- 2 TBSP chopped fresh (yes, use the fresh) mint
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
- Grilled bread for serving (whatever you substitute, make it crusty)
- Add the peas to a large pot of well-salted boiling water and boil the pease for about 30 seconds (here’s where I use my microwave). Remove peas to an ice bath.
- In a food processor, combine the ricotta, lemon zest, parmesan and mint. Drain the peas and add them to the food processor. Pulse just until the mixture comes together; you want to keep a little texture and not make it totally smooth. Season with salt.
- Spoon the mixture into a serving bowl, crack some pepper over the top and drizzle with olive oil. Serve the pea dip with grilled bread.
Whenever I can use up the remaining bits of something I’ve only partially utilized during the week, it’s a win. This week, I had most of a container of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt leftover from a spicy bean dish, and rather than just eat it or (horrors!) wait until it was no longer edible, I went on a search for a way to incorporate Greek yogurt into another recipe. The fact that this recipe not only used up the yogurt but was a dessert AND used dark chocolate was something like winning a lottery. Here is a recipe for Healthy Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Bars from A Mindful Mom’s blog. Be sure to check out blogger, Kristen for other great healthy choices.
Healthy Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Bars
- 1-1/2 cups oats (I used old-fashioned, not quick)
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- pinch of sea salt
- 1/3 cup Greek yogurt (I used 0% fat)
- 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2/3 cup dark chocolate, chopped (I used dark chocolate chips)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper or foil.
- In large mixing bowl, mix all dry ingredients together.
- Add oil, yogurt, egg, honey and vanilla. Mix until just combined.
- Stir in dark chocolate chips
- Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes. Allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before eating (good luck with that).
My curiosity got the better of me this past week as I searched for plant-based meals to use on our menu. I noticed a bit of buzz for a service based here in the Boston area, The Purple Carrot. For roughly $59, one can get nearly all of the ingredients for 2, 4-serving main dish vegan (plant-based) meals (choose from 4 offerings each week) and a snack. My order arrived this week, the ingredients look to be in excellent shape, and the packaging is minimal and responsibly made. Best of all, there is no minimum purchase or commitment.
Here is the result of the snack recipe for the week, an apricot and nut ball with oats added. The prep was quick; having the full recipe will make this recipe something I will most likely repeat in the future.
Learning to be creative using a more plant-based menu can be intimidating. I know I’ll be back to get more healthy ideas from The Purple Carrot.
1 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup oats
1 tsp vanilla
Rough chop apricots and place in food processor. Pulse until a uniform mix forms and then add pecans. Blend on high for 20 seconds and add oats and vanilla, blend until dough forms, about 20 seconds.
Transfer dough into a medium bowl. Scoop out 1 tablespoon of the dough and roll between your palms to form 1/2 – 1 inch balls. You can roll roughly 12 apricot balls (NB: I made smaller diameter ones and yielded 22 from these ingredients).
Apricot bites will last up to a week in the refrigerator. Enjoy!