Black Bean Hummus

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Still haven’t decided what appetizers to serve for the big game?

I highly recommend black bean hummus. It’s got more oomph than a garbanzo-based hummus, and it’s just as healthy! Plus, you likely have most of the ingredients hanging around in your pantry and fridge already, which makes this hummus perfect for a last-minute dish.

There are tons of fun ways to serve it, from setting out individual hummus cups to spooning it into hollowed-out veggies. I love eating this hummus with bell peppers for dipping, but you can use any veggie or carb you like!

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Winter Squash Chili

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I just realized that the Superbowl is only a few days away.

Not that I actually care about football. To be honest, I don’t even know which teams are playing! But what I do know is that Superbowl Sunday goes perfectly with a large pot of chili.

When I was growing up, my mom always made white chili for the whole family on Superbowl Sunday–this was, in fact, the first way I learned to appreciate chili, probably thanks to the mountain of crushed Doritos and shredded cheddar cheese I piled on the top before I dug in. Yum.

But this year, I think we should skip the ground meat (well, that’s a no-brainer for me) and load in a rather humongous amount of winter squashes. This recipe uses winter squash in two ways: one, pureed pumpkin is mixed right into the saucy, tomato-y broth; and two, cubed for texture and bulk in the soup. It’s so delicious with a generous splash of balsamic vinegar and shaved pecorino romano on top!

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Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites

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If you had told me this time last year that I would be obsessed with desserts made out of dates, I would not have believed you.

Maybe I would have made a quip about going out on dates.

But probably I would just have looked at you like you were an alien.

Oh, one-year-ago-Melissa, what a wide world was ahead of you.

So I’ve been making variations on chocolate-date-nut balls all month. And then I had an epiphany that peanut butter would be amazing. Kind of like a Reese’s! Which is exactly what these PB bites taste like.

These little “cookies” are super easy to make. I used all-natural, no-sugar-added peanut butter (just ground peanuts and a touch of salt, the healthiest way to eat peanut butter, for sure), which I have recently converted to. You could roll them in a  little cocoa for an extra chocolatey punch, but I flattened mine with a fork, just like classic peanut butter cookies.

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Quick Breakfast Porridge

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So far, the biggest challenge I’ve faced in giving up refined sugar has been figuring out what to eat for breakfast. (Surprise!)

You see, I’ve been eating Frosted Mini Wheats almost daily for years. I love the chewy wheatiness and the fact that the sweet, frosted side isn’t overwhelming and does not dissolve into the milk in the bowl. I love that if I have to step away from my bowl (to, say, clean up something my son has strewn on the floor), the mini wheats do not turn into mush or breakfast cement in my brief absence.

But, as I’m sure you have guessed, Frosted Mini Wheats are not on the menu anymore. They aren’t as bad as most sugary cereals, but they certainly aren’t skimping in the sugar department.

So I decided, given that it’s the middle of a freezing winter, that instead of making eggs every morning or finding another cold cereal that has less sugar, I would turn to oatmeal.

This is a healthy, filling breakfast; it’s tasty, it takes very little effort to prepare, and I can really feel good about eating it!

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Citrus Ginger Kale and Tofu Salad

This is the best salad I’ve had in months.

It is, in fact, the first way I have ever genuinely liked tofu. Ever. I mean I eat tofu from time to time, but mostly I am tolerating it for the sake of protein. I don’t really know why I liked this so much…I think it was marinating, maybe, that really did it for me. The tofu just soaked up the spicy, gingery, soy marinade, and as it baked it became ever so lightly browned and crisp at the edges, and it was jsut heaven for me. I ate a good six or seven cubes while I was assembling the salad. Yum.

The dressing is bright and delicious. The salad is textured and fun to eat with chopsticks. With all those raw veggies and the buckwheat soba noodles…it packs a pretty hefty nutritional punch, too! Let’s eat healthy and act like we do that all the time. (And maybe let’s make it a habit!)

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Kale Gratin

Kale Gratin

It has been incredibly cold here this week. I am talking below-zero temperatures, here.

Definitely the kind of weather that requires comfort food of some sort. Like mac and cheese! Rich and creamy, hearty cheesy goodness. Perfect for bitter and blustery days.

Except there’s one problem. I just couldn’t bring myself to make macaroni and cheese. It’s not exactly a health food with all those starchy carbs in there.

So I peered into my fridge and found a mountain of kale greens just waiting to be turned into a gratin. Which, after all, is what macaroni and cheese really is, at its core!

And boy, this gratin is truly delicious! I can’t wait to make it again!

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Ginger Tamarind Brussels Sprouts

Ginger Tamarind Brussels Sprouts

You guys, I just can’t seem to get enough of brussels sprouts this season!

I keep finding new, awesome recipes to try! My husband, barely tolerant of brussels sprouts most of the time, has really been a champ throughout my quest for more and more and more and more ways to eat these babies.

This recipe was really a winner. The dish has almost a Thai flair with the ginger and tamarind. And they make really good “starter sprouts.” (You don’t know what that is? It’s what you serve someone who says they have never tried brussels sprouts, or they don’t think they like brussels sprouts for some reason.) The sweet and sour sauce and the warm ginger really sing in this recipe. In fact, the flavor of the sprouts isn’t very distinct at all! (It’s okay. I still like these. Despite the fact that the rich, bitter sproutyness is a bit disguised…)

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