Eggplant + Hemp Meatballs

Photo: Kitchen of Youth

We had two beautiful eggplants in our fridge this week and we’ve been making varieties of eggplant parm around the clock lately [or so it feels]. We wanted to try something new this time= so, we came up with- Eggplant + Hemp Meatless Meatballs!! They are super, SUPER yummy. They also happen to be gluten free, paleo, + vegetarian aka all the plant based goodness! This is one of those recipes that even if you’re not an eggplant fan, you’ll love. It’s a great option for Meatless Mondays or really any day of the week! Pair it with pasta, spaghetti squash, salad, crumble it up and make a tortilla- the sky is the limit [as always].

We doubled the recipe + it lasted about a week.

ingredients

• 1 medium/large eggplant, diced

• 1 medium onion, diced

• 5 large garlic cloves, minced

• 1 Tbsp Hemp Seeds

• 1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil

• sea salt and black pepper to taste

• 1 cup almond flour

• 1 tsp fresh or dried basil

• ½ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded [can sub for vegan Parmesan]

• 1 egg white, beaten with a fork [can sub for flax egg. Find out how to make this vegan option here, The Incredible, Edible Flax Egg + Green Muffin Recipe]

recipe

1 Preheat the oven to 400°F.

2 Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

3 Place the eggplant, onion, and garlic on the baking tray and toss with the oil and a bit of salt and pepper.

4 Roast in the oven for about 45 minutes, or until you start to see some charred edges.

5 Remove from oven and now reduce the oven temp to 375°F.

6 Scrape the roasted veggies into a food processor. Pulse 10 times — you want there to still be some chunks in the mixture.

7 Transfer the veggie mixture to a large bowl and stir in the almond flour, basil, hemp, Parmesan and egg white. Combine well.

8 Roll into golf ball – size balls. (I found it easier to do this with wet hands).

9 Arrange the balls on the baking tray (use the same piece of parchment paper).

10 Bake for about 50 minutes, without turning the balls over. You will know they are done when they release from the parchment paper without sticking. Make sure you let the balls cool before you try to release them completely; this will help them release more easily without sticking.

11 Enjoy your balls with your favorite pasta, sauce, salad, sandwich..

Modified recipe from Kitchen of Youth. 

Photo: Kitchen of Youth

Enjoy guys + Happy Friday Eve!

– The Neilan Family-

Blueberry Muffies

Lets be honest- we all love the top of the muffin the best. Whenever I make a batch in the house, I end up with a bunch of muffin stubs laying around. This is exactly why the blueberry muffie recipe was born.

You can either bake these in a regular baking dish or a muffin tin! The bottom layer is from another recipe we’ve posted: [Vegan] Dreamy Banana Date Bar – because why mess with perfection. The middle layer is chia seed jam and the top portion is a oat, hemp + almond crumble. It. is. delicious.

about sugar: Usually when it comes to sweet in a recipe, we say “to taste” often. This is because depending on what kind of sugar you use on daily basis- what’s sweet to me, might not be sweet to you! I have actually weaned myself off of Splenda and artificial sweeteners because I didn’t like that it took more and more for me to taste the sweetness. That is why you see pure maple syrup and pure honey in a majority of our recipes!

ingredients: base

  • 2.5 cups quick oats
  • 2 tbsp ground flax
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 overripe bananas sliced in half lengthwise then chopped up
  • 8 medjool dates (68 g without pits), chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 packets Stevia or 1/4 C Honey – to taste
  • We added hemp powder [Manitoba Harvest: Hemp Yeah, Max Protein]

recipe for base

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Add the oats, flax, coconut, protein powder [if you’re using] and cinnamon to a bowl and stir to combine.
  3. Mix in the vanilla and almond milk. Fold in the chopped banana and dates. (Taste the dough and add a bit of stevia if you want them a little sweeter.)
  4. Place in either muffin tin OR baking dish
  5. Bake for 15 minutes.
  6. Set aside, it will go back in the oven after the jam + crumble topping.

ingredients + recipe: chia seed jam 

  • 2 heaping cups of frozen mixed berries (or fruit of your choice)
  • 3/4 C water
  • 1-2 Tbsp of Pure Maple Syrup
  • 1 Tbsp Chia Seeds
  1. Place berries and water in a small sauce pot- turn on medium heat- and bring to boil. Stirring occasionally.
  2. Use a fork or spoon to help the fruit breakdown
  3. Once liquid has been absorbed and the jam is your desired consistency [we prefer some clumps of fruit], remove pan from heat and add maple syrup + chia seeds.
  4. Whisk for about 5 minutes to make sure chia seeds don’t clump up on you
  5. After the base has baked for 15 minutes, add a generous amount of chia seed jam on top. We put a generous amount but you might have extra jam regardless [yay!]

ingredients + recipe: crumble topping

  • 1 C Rolled Oats
  • 1/4 C Sliced Almonds
  • 1/4 Hemp Seeds
  • 1/4 C Honey or to taste

recipe 

  1. Mix above ingredients in a bowl
  2. Crumble over chia seed jam
  3. Place muffies back in the oven for 15 minutes at 350

PS: To switch it up and get a little crazy, you can always layer some jam in the middle + top too!

-The Neilan Family-

Eggplant [or Zucchini] Lasagna

Ok guys. This is a Romano Family delicacy and it. is. so. good. Every birthday I am always asking for 1 of 2 things [+ my mom typically makes both]. It’s always either this recipe or the stuffed artichoke recipe. For my vegan friends, we just made this on Sunday without cheese and it tastes EQUALLY delicious. So you know to do with the recipe- kick out the cheese + you’re good to go. Plant based, delicious meal comin right up. 

Two options for this recipe. The traditional family recipe calls for  pan frying the eggplant; however, you can also bake! When I make this recipe at home we bake + it tastes the exact same!

From the Dietitian: Eggplants are an excellent source of fiber, folate, potassium and manganese, as well as vitamins C, K, and B6, phosphorus, copper, thiamin, niacin, and magnesium! For these reasons eggplants are beneficial for healthy skin + bones.

From the Doctor: Why I love eggplant- besides the great taste? It’s great for heart health. One study found eggplants reduced inflammation and improved ventricular function. This is because they are loaded with cardioprotective compounds known as phytonutrients. Also, eggplants lower LDL “bad” cholesterol levels, which in turn, aids in avoiding any plaque build-up [which eventually could lead to blocked arteries].

Eggplants are also an awesome veggie for diabetics due to the low carbohydrate, high fiber content.

photo: savory simple

ingredients

  • 1 or 2 eggplant [you can sub 4 or 5 zucchini- we have made it both ways and you can’t go wrong either way]
  • 3 eggs beaten [for vegan friends, 1 C almond milk]
  • All purpose flour [feel free to use whole wheat, oat, sprouted flour, coconut- this is just to coat the zucchini/eggplant]
  • Seasoned Breadcrumbs
  • Sea Salt
  • Olive Oil
  • 1lb Fresh Mozzarella [grated or sliced thin]
  • Grated Locatelli [Parmesan] cheese
  • Marinara Sauce [click link for recipe]

recipe

  1. Preheat oven to 425
  2. Make marinara sauce recipe above first [or your own red sauce recipe or jar of sauce per preference]
  3. Cut off ends and peel eggplant or zucchini
  4. Cut lengthwise [hot dog style] into slices of about 1/4 in thick
  5. For eggplant, to remove any bitter taste, sprinkle with sea salt and place in a colander. Set aside for a 1-2 hours for best results; then, remove slices, rinse and pat dry [skip this step if you have a time constraint OR if you are using zucchini]
  6. Lightly flour each slice of eggplant or zucchini
  7. Then dip in beaten egg [or almond milk] making sure each slice is thoroughly covered with egg [or milk].
  8. You can either pan fry OR bake.
  9. For Pan Frying: Place about 1/4 C Olive Oil  in a large pan, fry each slice, turning over so that both sides are lightly browned; then, remove from pan and place on paper towel to soak up excess oil. For Baking: After dipping eggplant in both flour + egg. Place as many eggplant as you can fit on a baking pan and bake for 5-8 min [you should be able to easily place your fork through eggplant]
  10. In a large roasting pan- cover bottom of pan with a layer of red sauce. Place slices of eggplant or zucchini in a single layer, side by side to cover sauce; then, top the slices with mozarella and sprinkle with grated cheese. Begin again with sauce and repeat layers until all slices have been used.
  11. Top with sauce and grated cheese.
  12. Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes.
  13. Top with red pepper to taste.

Hope you enjoy one of our favorite meals of all time. It is so worth the bit of work that goes into it. We promise! Once you do it once, you will find it easy the second time around. Also, making red sauce in large batches and freezing – saves lots of time and helps avoid the “oh no, I’m out of time- have to grab a jar of sauce” situation!

photo: savory simple

Feel free to message us with any questions!

-The Neilan Family-

Baked Hazelnut Falafel

Hazelnut-falafels-8 (1)
photo: sails + spices

Hi everyone!! Apologies for going MIA for a few weeks- we were in Kiwi Nation aka New Zealand for two weeks! It was absolutely wonderful- from the people, to the landscape, to the food. Patrick gets about 4 weeks off a year from work [in two week increments] and we always try to take full advantage because the rest of the year is quite chaotic [in the best of ways]! But now it’s back to home cooking [I have to say, we totally missed it- even though the food was probably the best I’ve had in all our travels]. So here is one of my favorite recipes. Super simple if you have a food processor- basically does all the work for you. Falafels are a great source of protein and fiber and a great addition to spaghetti squash, pasta, pita, salad- you name it. The only problem is, typically store or restaurant purchased is fried [not all the time BUT a lot of the time], which kind of defeats the purpose! You can get it just as crispy + delish in either the oven or if you have an air fryer that is a great option too!

Tip: For some extra protein/fiber swap out the hazelnuts for 1 Cup full cooked green lentils! Another super delish falafel recipe!!

The recipe below, although modified, is from sails + spices!

ingredients 

  • 1.5 cups dried chickpeas [if using canned, add 1/4 C flour as mixture will come out too liquidy without]
  • ½ small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 red chili, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1 cup cilantro (coriandar) with stems, chopped
  • ½ cup parsley leaves, chopped
  • ½ cup hazelnuts
  • 1 tsp of baking soda

recipe 

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet or spray with olive oil
  3. If using dried chickpeas: Put the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with water by 3 or 4 inches—the beans will triple in volume as they soak. Soak for 12 to 24 hours, checking once or twice to see if you need to add more water to keep the beans submerged. (If the soaking time is inconvenient for you, just leave them in the water until they’re ready). Once ready, you should be able to break them apart between your fingers.
  4. Place all ingredients in a food processor + mix. We don’t puree ours because we prefer it a little clumpier; however, mix to your preference. It should look minced.
  5. Roll the mixture into balls, about 1½ inches each, then flatten them into thick patties. Put the falafel on the prepared pan and brush the tops with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Bake until golden all over, 10 to 15 minutes on each side.
Hazelnut-falafels-6
photo: sails + spices

We hope you enjoy!

-The Neilan Family-

Mexican Spaghetti Squash Casserole

Mexican food is my absolute favorite. Definitely up there with sushi + Italian. My husband and I crave it almost on an every-other-week basis. So I knew I had to find a healthy alternative. I love burritos; however, I wasn’t about to indulge that often. At the same time- I wanted to satisfy our craving. Cue the spaghetti squash mexican casserole! Honestly this recipe was totally random. Didn’t see it on Pinterest, didn’t see a recipe- we just happened to have the ingredients around the house. Since then, we’ve probably made it about 20 times already. I just love it so much. But even more than I love it- my husband loves it. Every time I ask what he wants for dinner- this. is. always. the. response. When I’m tired of it- he never is! It’s a great family meal because it lasts awhile too. I make it for my husband often if I’m going away for the weekend because you throw it all together and boom it’s done and lasts! Also- I’m not a big rice fan- I actually prefer the taste of spaghetti squash. If you don’t like spaghetti squash- well before I even go there- try this recipe ONCE with the spaghetti squash and if you’re not a fan, you can always swap it out for some brown rice, quinoa or whatever sounds yum to you. We have a pretty good feeling you’ll like it though!

Of note, the beauty of this recipe is that you can really modify to your own preference! Meatless Monday? Leave out the ground turkey. Vegan? Leave out the cheese + swap the meat for beans. Don’t like corn? Leave it out!

One more thing- you will notice I don’t add salt and that is because the taco seasoning has enough for the whole recipe. No need to add. 

ingredients

  • 2 Large Spaghetti Squash
  • 1 Small Yellow Onion – diced [use half if a large onion]
  • 1/2 Avocado
  • 2 Tbsp sour cream
  • 1 Can Vegetarian Re-fried Beans
  • 1 C Corn [canned, fresh or frozen- we use frozen]
  • 2 Bell Peppers – diced
  • 1 Can Black Beans OR 1lb Ground Turkey Meat
  • 1/2 C Shredded Cheese [we use whatever we have- typically cheddar but have also used mozzarella]
  • 1 Packet of Taco Seasoning Mix [we use McCormick Organics]
  • 2 Jalapeño Peppers [optional] – sliced
  • Fresh Cilantro [optional]
  • Hot sauce [optional]

recipe

  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. Prep Spaghetti Squash: If my husband is home, he is able to cut the spaghetti squash in half. If he is not home, I will poke holes in the spaghetti squash with a fork (about 5 times) and throw in the microwave for 5-10 minutes (depends on size of squash). At this point, I am able to cut the squash in half. Then remove seeds (sometimes we save these and bake as a snack), drizzle with olive oil and pepper and throw in the oven for 35 minutes on 450. If you have trouble, check out: https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-cook-spaghetti-squash-in-the-oven-178036.
  3. While your spaghetti squash is baking- whip up the ground turkey meat (if using- if not, skip to step 5).
  4. Brown ground turkey in medium sized pan and follow instructions on taco seasoning packet.
  5. In a large skillet (separate from turkey meat) saute bell peppers, onion and corn with about a 1 Tbsp of olive oil and pepper for about 10-15 min on medium just to soften them up
  6.  Once spaghetti squash is done baking, reduce heat to 375.
  7.  Scrape spaghetti squash out with fork, creating stringy/spaghetti like squash!
  8. Place spaghetti squash in a 9 x 9 baking dish. Spread evenly.
  9. Layer re-friend beans on top (doesn’t have to be spread perfectly even. as it warms in the oven, it will spread)
  10. Then add either ground turkey meat or black beans on top (whichever you are using)
  11. Lastly, add corn/bell pepper/onion mixture
  12. Sprinkle cheese on top + add sliced jalapeño peppers on top
  13. Place casserole in oven for 20-25 minutes at 375

topping

  1. Mash/Mix 2 Tbsp of Reduced Fat Sour Cream with 1/2 Avocado for topping.
  2. Your done! We recommend a dab of hot sauce + fresh cilantro to top!
  3. If you like salsa, throw some on top! When in Rome (or Mexico bahaha)
mexican-spaghetti-squash-casserole-OPTM
photo: pickled plum

-The Neilan Family-

[Vegan] Dreamy Banana Date Bar

vegan-date-banana-oat-bars-healthy-running-on-real-food-5
Photo: Running on Real Food

We have added another delicious nutrient dense snack to the weekly rotations! We forgot about our bananas [again] – cue this delish recipe. Patrick was a huge fan and was eating them faster than I could whip them up. My favorite part about this bar is (well 2 things). 1. THE TEXTURE- it is so amazing. I can’t even begin to describe, which is why you MUST try for yourself. We love that there are so many different textures in one bar- you’ve got the overripe bananas for smoothness, coconut flakes for crunch, dates for a little gooey-ness, and oats to keep it all together! Then to top it all off- a very thin layer of dark chocolate- YUM! 2. We love that the ingredients are simple + healthy.

Tip: We doubled this recipe because we had 4 overripe bananas, and LOVED how they came out on thicker side. Even though they look dense, they’re actually a bit on the lighter side! One bar is about 120 calories! Low in protein (about 3g) without added protein powder. We added a combination of whey + plant based protein powder!

Recipe from: Running On Real Food

ingredients

  • 2.5 cups (275 g) quick oats
  • 2 tbsp ground flax
  • 1/3 cup (30 g) unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 overripe bananas (200 g) sliced in half lengthwise then chopped up
  • 5 medjool dates (68 g without pits), finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 packets stevia, optional, to taste
  • Consider protein powder per preference (ours is unflavored- I think if you have flavored protein powder that might add a bit of a weird taste)
  • Optional [topping]:
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 5 tablespoons cocoa powder (use 4 tbsp of dairy free chocolate chips to keep it vegan)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

recipe for bars

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Add the oats, flax, coconut and cinnamon to a bowl and stir to combine.
  3. Mix in the vanilla and almond milk.
  4. Fold in the chopped banana and dates. (Taste the dough and add a bit of stevia if you want them a little sweeter.)
  5. Bake for 30 minutes.
  6. Remove the bars from the oven, melt the chocolate if using and spread over the bars.
  7. Let cool before slicing into 16 bars.
  8. Store in the fridge- or in the freezer [We wrap one bar individually in tin foil and whip them out in the morning before work!]

recipe for chocolate topping

Melt the coconut oil then gently stir in the the cocoa powder and maple syrup. Spread the mixture over the bars once they come out of the over. This will harden into chocolate ganache after chilled in the fridge.

vegan-date-banana-oat-bars-healthy-running-on-real-food-3
Photo: Running on Real Food

We hope you enjoy friends- we sure are!

-The Neilan Family-

Matcha Smoothie

smoothie
Photo: Jessica Gavin

What a lovely day to post about Smoothies- it’s freeezzzzing over here on the east coast. We are in northern Florida and not used this 30 degree weather! But none-the-less smoothies are always yummy and a great way to get a lot of the good stuff in. I probably have on average- 4 to 5 smoothies (of some kind) a week. This one is a total favorite of ours! It has Matcha, so what’s not to love!

recipe – for one serving

  • 1 cup lightly packed baby spinach
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 teaspoon Matcha powder
  • 3/4 cup of coconut water or almond milk (increase based on preference)
  • Ice to preference
  • 1/4 Tsp Golden Milk (this is turmeric + date powder) – optional
  • 1/4 Tsp Spirulina – Optional
  • Scoop of protein powder- Optional (when we are hungry enough we will add a scoop of Patrick’s protein concoction aka an even mix of whey + plant based protein powder)

Have your pick of sprinkled organic honey, chia seeds, cinnamon and/or coconut on top! Smoothies are great because this is just a base but if you’re feeling extra hungry just add some Greek Yogurt or add blueberries to mix it up! I actually love the taste of blueberries and Matcha together. If you do add fruit- do about 1/3 of a cup! Feelin like you need more fiber in your diet? Add a Tbsp of ground flax! 

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Photo: Epicurious

One of my other favorite things is turning smoothies into a “bowl” aka more space to sprinkle goodies on top! Typically if I’m wanting to turn my smoothie into a bowl, I like them with a little more ice added so it thickens it up- but those details are all about preference! 

-The Neilan Family-