Spaghetti Squash Bake

We like to use spaghetti squash as a sort of healthy alternative to pasta. Not that pasta isn’t healthy, per se, but we always have a temptation to eat so dang much of it. This spaghetti squash bake functions kind of like a pasta casserole, with its tomato sauce and vegan parmesan topping, but it’s not too heavy. Most of all, it’s super tasty.

Spaghetti Squash Bake: A Healthy Dinner that Feels Indulgent

The nice thing about this is that it’s pretty hands off and easy to make. Nothing requires careful tending, just a little bit of work on the stove and in the oven and you’re set! It also reheats beautifully for work.

Now I know as well as the next guy that spaghetti squash isn’t the same as pasta. The consistency isn’t the same, the flavor isn’t the same, etc. That’s why I almost always insist on recipes that douse it in some kind of sauce. The squash soaks up that nice flavor, and baking it in the sauce softens it even a bit more, so you lose most of the crunch that can sometimes go along with spaghetti squash and distance it from bona fide pasta.

Spaghetti Squash Bake

Ingredients:

1 medium to large spaghetti squash
1 medium onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp + 1 Tsp olive oil
2 15-oz cans tomatoes, whole or diced
1/2 cup cashews, soaked for a few hours
1 cup pecans
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 Tsp salt

Directions:

Roast or microwave the spaghetti squash. Which one you choose depends on how much time you’ve got and how much your kids are screaming.

To make the tomato sauce, cook the onion and garlic in 1 Tbsp of the olive oil on medium high heat in a medium saucepan until the onion is translucent. Add the tomatoes, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until thickened. Once the tomato sauce is done, blend it with the soaked cashews. Mix the tomato-cashew blend with the cooked spaghetti squash in an oven safe baking dish.

To make the vegan parm topping, place the pecans, nutritional yeast, remaining olive oil, and salt in food processor. Blend until everything looks crumbly and delicious. Sprinkle the topping onto the squash in the baking dish and bake at 350° F for 20 minutes.

Getting the Most Value from Your CSA Box

Like everybody who gets home deliveries of fruits and vegetables, we’ve sometimes had a tough time figuring out how to make sure we use up everything from our box and waste as little as possible. Here’s a few tips that have helped us figure out how to get the most out of our box.

1) Prioritize

Take a look at your box and see what you need to use right away and what can wait a couple days. Root vegetables, winter squash and apples always last a good while. We’ve found that pears need to be eaten pretty quickly. Stuff like salad greens aren’t going to stay good for too long. Front load your week with the stuff that needs to be used right away to make sure you don’t have to toss it.

2) Invest in some plant-based cookbooks

Even if you don’t eat all vegan all the time, these cookbooks often have tons of new ideas for using vegetables that you may not have thought of. Discovering sweet potato enchiladas has literally changed our lives. They’re often indexed by ingredient or cooking method, so we’re always finding new and creative ways to use even old and familiar ingredients.

3) Prep early

At the beginning of the week, chop up veggies for salads or snacks, roast some sweet potatoes, etc. Have everything ready so there’s never an excuse for not eating your CSA goodies, even on the busiest day. Doing this has helped us almost always resist the temptation to go out for lunch at work.

4) Have a wilted veggie plan

For us, this is vegetable stock. Wilted kale, squishy carrots, as long as it isn’t rotten or moldy, it goes in the pot and adds to tons of delicious recipes throughout the week. You can even freeze it for later. You can use it in place of meat stocks to adapt non-vegetarian recipes into vegetarian versions, too!

5) Adjust your box size to fit your lifestyle

We keep an eye on our grocery bill and if we’re subsidizing our csa with a particular type of produce, we adjust our box accordingly. Currently we get two boxes, usually one with mixed fruits and vegetables, and one all vegetable. This fits our mostly plant based eating style and allows us a good bit of freedom in what we eat. I always know it’s been a good week when csa day comes around and there’s nothing in the crisper.

In Conclusion: Be Organized, Be Realistic, and Branch Out

Getting boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables every week has been really great for us. We eat a ton of healthy food, and we’ve discovered a lot of stuff that we love, even though we once thought we hated it (I’m looking in your direction, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts). We do a fair bit of planning and prepping on the weekends, but just having some standard fallback plans has helped immensely. Get yourself a go-to salad recipe that can be adapted easily. Find a root vegetable soup that’s quick and easy and tasty. The easier you make it to eat everything in your delivery, the greater the chances nothing will go to waste.

Chocolate Tahini Cookies

We had chocolate. We had tahini. Buckle up for some chocolate tahini cookies, y’all.

Chocolate Tahini Cookies are Very Good

We like to take the opportunity to make food with our kids, especially when it’s fun food. Watson and Vivi love to each get a bowl full of ingredients to mix. They make an ungodly mess, but it’s adorable and who cares? You don’t have to clean the floor.

Watson has been very into Halloween lately, so he wanted to use his ghost cookie cutter to make some ghostly cookies. That didn’t work very well, since these cookies are very crumbly and fall apart pretty easily. They’re really better in a lumpy mound configuration.

Let me go on a short digression about tahini, if you will: tahini is great, you guys. It makes great sauces, it’s great in these cookies, it’s great in hummus, etc. Get some. Use it. Love it.

These are not cookies for folks with an extreme sweet tooth. They’re way more on the savory side. But they’re super tasty, and since they’re pretty crumbly, they offer a lot of delicious crumb-collecting fun once you’re done with all of the bits that hold together.

Chocolate Tahini Cookies

Ingredients:

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup tahini
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1 Tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp vanilla
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup almond meal
1 c flour of choice (we’ve used both spelt and rice flour with success, although the rice flour makes for a crumblier cookie)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425° F. In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients. Place tablespoon sized balls of cookie dough on a lined baking sheet, and press them down flat (but not too flat) with the heel of your hand. You can try rolling them out and using cookie cutters, like Watson wanted to do, but these cookies are pretty crumbly. The thinner they are, the more easily they fall apart once they’re baked. Bake each batch for 10 minutes and let cool on a wire rack.

Roasted Cauliflower Tacos

I don’t like to keep coming back to the same topic, but let’s be real: tacos are the bomb. It is less well-known, but no less true, that roasted cauliflower is also the bomb. You can probably guess that I believe roasted cauliflower tacos to therefore be the bomb. You would be right. I’m probably also making it clear that my grasp of post-nineties slang is not all that and a bag of chips, as it were. Sue me.

Roasted Cauliflower Tacos – A Delicious, Healthy Treat

We got ourselves some gorgeous purple cauliflower in our Hungry Harvest box this week, and we immediately knew we were going to make tacos with it. It turns out cauliflower is perfect for tacos. The nooks and crannies of the florets soak up cooking oil and spices, and they get nice and brown and crunchy in the oven. On top of a toasted corn tortilla, alongside an appropriate set of garnishes, there’s basically nothing better.

I wish I’d known earlier in life how delicious roasted vegetables were. I wish my kids were more receptive to my trying to teach them the lessons I wish I’d learned at their age. I wish that last sentence were easier to parse (but it makes sense, I promise!).

Roasted Cauliflower Tacos

Ingredients:

Cauliflower:

Two small heads of cauliflower (we used a pretty purple kind)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tsp garlic powder
1 Tsp salt
1 Tsp smoked paprika
1 Tsp cumin
1 Tsp chili powder

Slaw:

1 kohlrabi cut into matchsticks
1 carrot cut into matchsticks
1/4 cup mayo
Juice of 1 lime

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425° F. Cut cauliflower up into medium florets and toss with oil and spices. Roast on a lined baking sheet for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix all of the ingredients of the slaw together in a medium bowl. Toast a few corn tortillas lightly on the stovetop. Serve the tacos with diced avocado.

Simple Peach Pie Energy Balls

We love energy balls. Seriously, we really love them. We make them as snacks all the time. They seem small and unassuming, but they’re little dense bites of deliciousness, and they help stave off the hunger that creeps up between breakfast and lunch. As filling snacks go, these peach pie energy balls fit the bill quite nicely.

It’s also the end of summer and the beginning of fall, even if the weather hasn’t quite gotten the memo. Peaches feel like a summer food, but peach pie is what you make in the fall from all the peaches you thought you were going to eat and didn’t. These energy balls are the perfect fusion of summer flavor and fall comfort.

Peach Pie Energy Balls

This recipe really couldn’t be simpler. If you’ve got some measuring cups, a food processor, and five minutes, you’ve got everything you need to make these. When you’re getting meals ready for the week and there are three kids underfoot, it’s a small blessing to have a recipe that’s so simple. And one that doesn’t involve opening a hot oven when the kids are running around and curious.

These are also the kind of thing that makes packing lunches at 5:15 am a breeze. The more we’ve got already packed, that we can just grab and go, the better.

Peach Pie Energy Balls

Ingredients:

1 cup dried peaches
1 cup cashews
1/4 cup coconut
1 Tbsp coconut oil

Directions:

Just dump all of the stuff into a food processor, blitz until it’s crumbly, and then make it into balls and refrigerate. Eat one for a quick, delicious pick-me-up when you’re feeling hungry in the midmorning. That way you won’t be tempted to run out for a coffee and a donut because Royal Farms has Krispy Kremes and they’re delicious. Not that I’ve ever done that. Of course not.

Pumpkin Spice Cinnamon Rolls with Spiked Apple Cider Glaze

I don’t have to prove my autumn bona fides to you. I mean, I will, but I don’t have to. So what’s more fall than pumpkin spice? What’s more fall than cinnamon rolls? How about pumpkin spice cinnamon rolls, the diabolical fusion of the two?

These right here are some tasty cinnamon rolls. They came together wonderfully, the glaze and filling are delicious, and they taste like autumn wrapped up in a beautiful spiral bow. Go and make them and eat them. Please. I want this for you.

Pumpkin Spice Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients:

1 small squash
3/4 cup almond milk
2 Tsp yeast
1 1/2 cups spelt flour
1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1 1/2 sticks vegan butter (we used Earth’s Balance)
1 Tbsp honey
1/2 Tsp salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 Tsp ginger
1 Tsp cinnamon
1 Tsp nutmeg
1 Tsp cloves
1 Tsp allspice
2 cups apple cider
1/4 cup spiced rum

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425° F. Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds, and roast until brown and soft. Scoop out and mash up the inside of the squash (it should make about 2/3 of a cup).

Warm up the almond milk to room temperature (we microwaved ours for about 30 seconds). Sprinkle yeast on top and mix. Let sit for about 5 minutes. Knead in flour, 1/2 stick of butter, honey, and salt. Let rest until doubled while you watch Inhumans because you’re curious, and looking through Netflix for something you can both agree to watch sounds exhausting.

Roll dough into a rectangle. In a food processor blend together stick of butter, spices, and 1/4 cup of the maple syrup. Spread the butter mixture on the dough and roll up. Cut into slices and place in a baking pan, spaced out so the rolls have room to grow. Let sit overnight. In the morning preheat the oven to 400° F and bake for about an hour, or until golden. While baking, place cider, rum, and remaining 1/4 cup of syrup in a pan and reduce until 1/2 cup or so is left. Poor over hot rolls and let sit for about 5 minutes to cool and soak up the syrup. Enjoy your amazing pumpkin spice cinnamon rolls.

Hungry Harvest Review

We’ve writtena lotaboutHungryHarvest, but it occurred to us that we’ve never written a straight up Hungry Harvest review. Since we started participating in the Hungry Harvest Ambassadors program, we’ve been seeing so much more of what the service has to offer, and we wanted to share some of that with you.

Selections from this week's Hungry Harvest

First Things First: The Food

A food delivery service like Hungry Harvest lives and dies on the quality of the food. You might feel like you’re walking a tightrope with a service that proudly advertises that they make use of food that would otherwise go to waste. On this front we can confidently say that we’ve seen absolutely no reason for skepticism about the quality of the food that Hungry Harvest delivers. On their website, they tell you exactly how and why they got each piece of produce they sent you, whether it’s because farmers simply grew too much, or whether some items were a little too small or misshapen for the store. We’ve never had a case where we were sent food that was inedible.

We have been sent food that went bad a little bit quicker than we expected, but here’s the thing: this happens with food we get at the grocery store too. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve brought home a bag of oranges only to find, a day later, that one of them is entirely covered in mold. Does that happen with Hungry Harvest from time to time? Sure. But that’s just the nature of fresh produce. The food we get delivered is at least as high quality as anything we would otherwise get from the grocery store.

Next: The Delivery

Delivery is always prompt on Saturday morning, right around 8:00. We get a text message to let us know that the delivery is almost there, and the delivery person is always friendly and helpful and brings the boxes right up to the door. We’ve never been anything less than thrilled with the delivery portion of the service.

Customer Service

We’ve had a couple of times when mistakes were made. Maybe we ordered two portobello caps and only got one, things like that. Every time, when we’ve contacted Hungry Harvest to address it, they’ve been responsive and helpful. They’ve given us refunds where appropriate, and taken steps to address the issues to ensure they’re less likely to happen next time.

One feature they’ve added recently is customization of our box, and we couldn’t be happier with it. For a small fee, we can change amounts of produce that we get. We try to leave things just about as they started, but sometimes we don’t have enough planned to use 8 mangos, so letting us customize the box gives us more power to ensure we’re fighting food waste at home just as Hungry Harvest is fighting food waste in its whole operation.

The Price

We’ve found that the price of what we get in our Hungry Harvest deliveries is about comparable to what we’d pay for the same stuff at the grocery store, and it saves us a trip. Beyond that, Hungry Harvest donates produce to people in need, so our grocery dollars are also going to an organization that’s helping directly fight hunger.

Vivian and Freddy playing with our Hungry Harvest delivery

Hungry Harvest Review: Conclusion

Hungry Harvest is absolutely worth your time and money. It saves us a trip to the store to get our produce, the kids love playing with the new fruits and vegetables, and it helps to fight food waste and hunger. Delivery is prompt, the food is fresh and delicious, the price is right, and the customer service can’t be beat.

If Hungry Harvest operates in your area and you’re interested in signing up, you can go to this website. If you use the code HERO5, you’ll get $5 off of your first delivery. #hungryharvesthero

Mini Vegan Frittata Cups

I tend to prefer savory breakfasts, but with our diet it’s a little hard to make savory stuff in the mornings. As a consequence we tend to just stick to oatmeal. We’re huge fans of chickpea flour omelets on the weekends however, and I knew there had to be a quick and easy way to make that happen for the the week. There had to be a way to use chickpea flour and make something like a vegan frittata portable. (Side note: this is not the only amazing thing you can do with chickpea flour)

Enter the Vegan Frittata Cup

I know what you’re thinking, and no, vegan frittata is not an oxymoron. Chickpea flour batter is not exactly the same as eggs, but it does a nice job of binding the veggies together, and it’s really tasty in its own right! These cups heat up well for a quick and easy work breakfast. The best part is that these vegan frittata cups are pretty light, so eat as many as you want with no consequences.

Vegan frittata cups

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 medium tomatoes
2 small zucchinis
1 cup chickpea flour
1/2 cup soaked cashews
2 cup water
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp everything spice (we used some from Trader Joe’s, you could also just pop in equal parts garlic powder, onion powder, poppy seeds and salt)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400° F. Sautee the tomatoes and zucchini until soft and the tomatoes have begun to break down a bit. Fill one and a half muffin tins to about a third of each cup (I used silicone cups to make this a bit neater; I would not recommend paper cups as we tried those as well and they kind of fell apart). Blend the rest of the ingredients until smooth and then pour over the vegetables, spreading evenly among the filled cups. Bake for 15 minutes or until the tops are dry.

 

Fall Kale Salad

It’s finally started to cool down a bit here and we’re super excited to be receiving some beautiful fall fruits and vegetables in our Hungry Harvest box. The kids have been going nuts over all of the grapes, and we’ve been going wild about all of the kale, sweet potatoes, and squash. Last Saturday night for dinner we made a giant fall salad that was filling, delicious, and felt like fall in a bowl. The dressing recipe makes a lot, so save it to use on grain bowls or to top veggie burgers later in the week like we did!

Our kids aren’t generally too into salad, but we gave them some of the roasted vegetable cubes and apples along with sandwiches so they were getting some of our food. Watson takes tiny, tiny bites in order to qualify to get a treat later, if we’re feeling generous. Sometimes Vivian just eats all of the sweet potatoes she can find. Freddy is our wild card. He often eats whatever we put in front of his face, but sometimes he turns up his nose at everything. I still can’t quite get a read on that guy.

Watson and a big fall salad

Ingredients:

Dressing:

1 cup pecans
Juice and zest of two oranges
1/4 cup tamari
2 cloves garlic
Juice of one lemon
1 Tbsp gochujang

Salad:

1 bunch kale, shredded
2 sweet potatoes, cut into small cubes
1 cup chickpeas, roasted with garlic powder and salt
2 carrots, cut into small cubes
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 apples, cut into cubes or matchsticks
1/2 cup kumquats, sliced and seeds removed
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

Directions:

Toss the sweet potatoes, chickpeas, and carrots in the oil and roast at 450 for about 30 minutes, or until the cubes are brown in places.

Meanwhile, blend together dressing ingredients until smooth.

Toss kale, roasted vegetables, fruits and about 1/4 c of the dressing, or however much makes you happy. Top with pumpkin seeds and devour.