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10 Early Fall Meal + Side Ideas Using End of Summer Veggies

As much as I absolutely love summer, I am enjoying the first bits of crisp air and the fact that the stars seem a little bit brighter this time of year!

As the seasons change, I slowly start changing some of what I am eating to include more warm foods and this time of year is perfect to use up the fresh, local produce in some warm dishes (although you can catch me eating soup any time of year). I am sharing a few ideas with you below!

  1. Use up veggies like fresh zucchini, eggplant, onions and peppers by chopping them up and grilling or roasting them. Simply add olive oil, salt and pepper and cook to the level of doneness you like. Fresh herbs, garlic and balsamic are also welcome additions. Use these throughout the week in a variety of ways:

    In the filling of an omelet, on a wrap or sandwich with some hummus or cheese, on top of a scoop of quinoa or brown rice with some greens and a protein, tossed on your favorite pizza crust that’s been topped with a sprinkle of cheese and a handful of spinach or arugula, mixed with your favorite cooked pasta (I love a lentil or quinoa pasta for extra protein!) a drizzle of olive oil and black pepper, in the filling of a crustless quiche or egg cups for a quick, microwave and go breakfast.

  2. Use a bounty of tomato and zucchini in this delicious and filling zucchini parmesan recipe.

  3. Use up extra peppers and even sub canned tomatoes for fresh ones in this amazing shakshuka recipe that is a favorite for brunch but also works a healthy lunch or dinner.

  4. Store bought tomato soup can contain thickeners and added sugar. Skip those and make your own! Chop up 3.5 lbs of fresh tomatoes, 1 large onion and 1 large red bell pepper. Place in a baking dish. Add 3 cloves of peeled garlic, a drizzle of olive oil and some salt and pepper. Roast at 450 for 30-40 minutes until vegetables are soft, stirring halfway through. Let cool for 10-15 minutes and then add to a blender in batches. If the soup is thicker than you’d like, thin it with some chicken or vegetable broth. I find this totally dairy free soup to be so incredibly rich and creamy but if you’d like, you could add a couple tablespoons of cream, yogurt or the milk of your choice.

  5. Use fresh corn, potatoes and bell peppers in this recipe for the perfect end of summer corn chowder. Swap out the chicken stock for veggie stock to make this vegetarian!

  6. Use up extra green beans, tomatoes, herbs and zucchini in one of my favorite soup recipes and swap out the frozen veggies for fresh. You could even replace some of the canned tomatoes with fresh ones! This is a super filling lunch and you could always freeze leftovers.

  7. Slice fresh tomatoes and pat off some of the excess moisture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and a pinch of shredded or grated Parmesan. Grill or broil until cheese is melted. Add balsamic if you’d like.

  8. Use up basil with this pesto recipe. Grill slices of veggies and top with pesto. Alternatively, cut the veggies in larger strips and serve room temperature with a mixture of Greek yogurt and pesto as a dip for a twist on a veggie tray or as an addition to your charcuterie board.

  9. Pack up raw zucchini cut into sticks with a side of hummus or your favorite dip as a great snack for work or school.

  10. Turn your tomatoes into “sun dried” tomatoes using this recipe. I did this last summer and they were absolutely unreal. I added them to any/everything!

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Sweet + Spicy Brussels Sprouts

I’m an olive oil/salt/pepper savory roasted veggie type of gal, but I wanted to come up with something a little different with some special “treat yo’ self” vibes as the holiday season is approaching. This recipe couldn’t be easier and the combination of salty, sweet and heat with the pecans bringing the texture is amazing. These Brussels sprouts are going to be especially welcome on the Thanksgiving table to bring a pop of green amongst the delicious but bland in color sea of traditional Thanksgiving foods!

Sweet + Spice Brussels Sprouts

Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Cook Time: ~30 Minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients:
~1 Lb Brussels Sprouts
1/4 – 1/2 Cup Pecan Halves
2 Tsp Hot Sauce (I used Syrachacuse Syracuse Style Hot Sauce from our new brick + mortar neighbors, Syrachacuse!)
2.5 Tbsp Real Maple Syrup
3 Tbsp Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce)
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tsp Garlic Powder

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 425. Wash and trim the ends of Brussels Sprouts, making sure to remove any damaged leaves. Slice in half length wise.

2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place pecans on baking sheet. When the oven is up to temperature, place the baking sheet with the pecans in the oven in a middle rack for 3 minutes.

3. While the pecans cook, make the sauce for the Brussels Sprouts by combining the hot sauce, maple syrup, liquid aminos, olive oil and garlic powder.

4. Pour the sauce over the Brussels Sprouts and stir well.

5. Remove the pecans and set aside.

6. Using the same baking sheet/parchment paper, pour out Brussels Sprouts and all of the sauce onto the baking sheet (it may look like a bit of a runny mess, but that is okay)!

Look at how the sauce is soaked up by the Brussels and caramelizes! YUM.


7. Bake for 30 minutes at 425, stirring once half way through. Remove from the oven and combine with the pecans. I broke my pecans up into smaller pieces. Serve warm or room temperature!

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Easiest Butternut Squash Soup

It’s officially squash season! Squash is versatile, hearty and is able to be kept for quite a while if stored properly. Additionally, squash is packed with nutrients! A one cup serving of butternut squash contains about 25% RDI of fiber, is absolutely loaded with vitamin a, and also contains plenty of vitamin c, manganese and potassium!

While I eat soup all year long, something about fall makes soup seem like a requirement. I oftentimes make a batch of soup to enjoy during the week as a quick lunch or even as a snack. This butternut squash soup is creamy, dreamy and also happens to be gluten free + vegan and the addition of turmeric enhances the color and flavor of this soup.

Easiest Butternut Squash Soup

Serves 6
Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Cook Time: 45 Minutes

Ingredients:

1 Butternut Squash
2 Tbsp Olive Oil, Divided
1 Sweet Onion, Diced
4 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
1 Tsp Turmeric
1 Can Trader Joe’s Reduced Fat Coconut Milk*
2 Cups Vegetable Broth
Salt
Fresh Cracked Black Pepper

*The Trader Joe’s Reduced Fat Coconut Milk is Amazing because it has less fat than regular coconut milk but more fat than “Lite” or light coconut milk which often contains added thickeners!

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Clean the outside of your butternut squash. Dry and slice lengthwise with a sharp knife. Using a spoon, scoop out the stringy parts and seeds from the bottom of the squash. Using 1 tbsp of olive oil, coat each half of the squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven with the cut side of the squash facing up and bake for ~40 minutes, or until the flesh is easily pierced with a fork.

2. When the squash has finished cooking, remove it from the oven and leave it to the side to cool. While it cools, sauté the diced onion and minced garlic in a sauce pan in the remaining tbsp of olive oil and a pinch of salt, stirring frequently so the garlic doesn’t burn. Continue to cook until translucent, about 8 minutes.

3. If the squash is able to be handled, use a metal spoon to scoop out the flesh away from the skin of the squash. Place the cooked squash in a bowl.

4. In a blender, add the squash, onion + garlic mixture, turmeric, coconut milk and vegetable broth. Depending on the size of your blender, you may need to do this in two batches!

5. Return the blended mixture to the sauce pan and heat through. Add salt and fresh black pepper to taste. Serve topped with fresh herbs, chunks of roasted butternut squash, pepitas or red pepper flakes.

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Zucchini Ribbon Salad

Nothing says summer like having copious amounts of Zucchini (and tomatoes and peppers)! To keep from getting sick of having such a bounty, it is important to switch it up and try using this item in new ways. This zucchini ribbon salad utilizes raw green and yellow zucchini, picked while still small and tender and before the seeds get huge and out of control. This is the perfect addition to any meal or also great for lunch!

Zucchini Ribbon Salad
Serves 2
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Rest Time: 20 Minutes

Ingredients:
3 Small Zucchini/Squash (I used 2 green and 1 yellow, any combination is fine!)
2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 Tsp Onion Powder
A small dab of honey
Ground Black Pepper
Salt
2-3 Tbsp Chopped Walnuts
1 Oz Goat Cheese, crumbled
Scallions or Chives

Instructions:

1. Wash and dry the zucchini. Chop off both ends. Using a good, sharp vegetable peeler or a mandolin, cut thin ribbons lengthwise down the zucchini, discarding the first piece that is all skin. When you reach the seeds, flip the zucchini over and start the same process on the other side. (I have found that the green variety tend to have fewer seeds). Once the piece of zucchini gets too thin to create ribbons or you have reached seeds, discard or better yet, set aside to use in a different recipe, like this amazing zucchini bread from Cookie + Kate!

2. Place the ribbons in a colander and sprinkle with 1 tsp of salt. Give the zucchini ribbons a stir to distribute the salt. Let sit for 20 minutes to drain out some of the excess water. During this time, you can prep your dressing by combing the apple cider vinegar, olive oil, onion powder and honey. Set aside. You can also toast your walnuts if you’d like. I recommend toasting them as it really brings out the flavor!

3. Using a lint free dish towel (a tea towel) or paper towels, gently pat the zucchini ribbons to remove any excess moisture. Transfer the ribbons to a bowl.

4. Pour the dressing onto the ribbons and mix. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with goat cheese, walnuts and some chopped chives or scallions!

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The Absolute Best Cowboy Caviar – A Healthy and Versatile Recipe!

A dip full of veggies has to be healthy, right?! This is NOT the case when you LOAD it up with sugar as is the case in some cowboy caviar recipes I have seen! This quick and easy recipe uses a little bit of agave and is loaded with flavor that is only enhanced the longer it is allowed to marinate for. 

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Cowboy Caviar 

Makes 8 Servings
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Rest Time: 1 Hour

Ingredients:
1 Red Onion, Minced
1 Green Pepper, Diced
1 Red Pepper, Diced
1 15 Oz Can Chick Peas or Black Eyed Peas, Rinsed & Drained
1 15 Oz Can Black Beans, Rinsed & Drained
2 Stalks Celery, Diced
1 Lb Tomatoes, Diced 
1.5 Cups of Corn Kernals, Cooked
Optional: Bunch of Cilantro, Parsley or Scallions, Minced

Dressing:
1 Tsp Chili Powder
1 Tsp Cumin
1 Tsp Garlic Powder
½ Tsp Sea Salt, More to Taste
1/3 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tbsp Agave Nectar or Sweetener of Choice
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Optional: Juice From 1/2 Lime

Instructions:

  1. Mix the dry ingredients for the dressing and slowly whisk in the vinegar, agave and oil. Mix well and set aside while you prepare the salad. 
  2. Combine the red onion, green pepper, red pepper, chick peas or black eyed peas, black beans, celery, tomatoes and corn in a bowl. Add the option herbs if you are using them.
  3. Add the dressing and stir well. 
  4. Refrigerate for an hour or overnight if possible, the longer this sits, the better it gets! 

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This cowboy caviar recipe is one of my favorites because it is so versatile. It works well served as a side dish (pair with grilled seafood or meat for a perfect summer meal!), a dip with crispy corn chips, as a topping on tacos, with eggs for breakfast and even on top of some crisp greens as a salad. Stir in some cooked quinoa to the cowboy caviar and you have a super easy weekday bring to work lunch. If you don’t like chick peas or black eyed peas, double up on black beans or add in pinto or kidney beans!