The Good Dirt

November 23rd, 2015

Brussels sprouts are sautéed with balsamic vinegar, then tossed with pecans in this holiday side dish. Cranberries, brown sugar and orange zest are brewed in Concord grape juice for a gourmet glaze to top these delectable Brussels sprouts. This recipe comes to us from Kathy of Healthy. Happy. Life.

Serves 6.

For the cranberry topping:

  • 6 ounces whole cranberries, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup Concord grape juice
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon orange zest
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

For the Brussels Sprouts:

  • 1/4 cup safflower oil
  • 16 ounces Brussels sprouts
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • salt, to taste

To make the cranberry topping:

Place the cranberries into a soup pot over high heat. Add the sugar, salt and grape juice to the pot. Stir and bring to a boil.

When cranberry grape juice boils, turn heat down to medium low. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until the berries pop. Stir in the orange zest and balsamic vinegar. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

To make the Brussels sprouts:

Place the oil into a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the Brussels sprouts and balsamic vinegar. Add 2 tablespoons of water and cover with a lid. Cook for 2-4 minutes, or until the Brussels sprouts become tender.

Remove the lid and season with another splash of balsamic vinegar. Cook for 1-3 minutes more, adding more water if needed. Add the chopped pecans and dried cranberries, tossing to ensure the ingredients are evenly distributed. Season with the pepper and salt to taste.

To complete the Cranberry Balsamic Brussels Sprouts:

Place the Brussels sprouts in a serving bowl in the center of the table. Top with the balsamic cranberry sauce and enjoy!

November 23rd, 2015

Yogurt stands in for ricotta cheese in these fluffy flapjacks. A sprinkling of pomegranate seeds makes for a slightly tart fruit topping, but for a more traditional take, try them with berries, sautéed apples or banana slices. This recipe comes to us from Cara and Phoebe of Big Girls, Small Kitchen.

Serves 1.

  • 1 egg, separated
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon butter
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup*


In a small bowl, whisk together the 1 egg yolk from the separated egg with the yogurt, flour and vanilla extract.

In a larger bowl, beat the 2 egg whites, sugar and salt together until they are fluffy and hold a soft peak.

Scrape about a third of the egg white mixture into the egg yolk yogurt mixture and stir gently until the mixture is lightened. Very gently, fold in the rest of the egg whites, trying not to deflate them.

Melt the butter in a small nonstick pan over medium-low heat. When the pan is heated, add half of the batter. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until brown, then flip and cook 3-4 minutes on the reverse side. Repeat with the remainder of the batter.

Top the pancakes with pomegranate seeds and syrup, if desired, and enjoy.

November 23rd, 2015

These delicious meatless morsels are the perfect starter for a holiday meal. Hemp hearts add protein, healthy fats and a hearty nutty flavor to this already umami-rich dish featuring mushrooms, onions and goat cheese. This recipe comes to us from our friends at Manitoba Harvest.

Makes 6 tartlets

  • 1 1 lb. (454g) package white button mushrooms
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. rosemary, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 4 oz. (113g) package of goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup hemp hearts
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 6 puff pastry shells

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Add all of the mushrooms except for about six of them to a food processor and pulse until they are chopped into fine pieces.

Add the olive oil, chopped mushrooms, rosemary and garlic to a pan over medium heat and sauté until the mushrooms are browned.

Stir in the flour until the mixture is well coated and then add the almond milk, goat cheese and hemp hearts.

Cook over low heat until the mixture thickens.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the parsley.

Cut the remaining mushrooms into thin slices and in a separate pan, sauté them with olive oil until they are cooked.

Cook the pastry shells according to the package instructions. Once they are done and have cooled slightly, remove the tops and add about 2 tbsp. of the mushroom mixture to each shell. You want them to be filled to the top.

Add two thin slices of the cooked mushroom to the top of each tartlet and sprinkle with extra hemp hearts.

Serve immediately.

November 23rd, 2015

Spinach is cooked with onions, garlic, cayenne sauce and nutmeg to contrast the polenta base with hearty greens. Your guests will be impressed at the beautiful greens spiral in the polenta, jelly roll style. Bonus: the dish can easily be prepared in advance and heated just before service. This recipe comes to us from Donna of Apron Strings.

Serves 6.

  • 5 cups low sodium vegetable stock
  • 2 cups coarse grind polenta
  • 3 tablespoons non hydrogenated margarine, divided
  • 1 cup Parmesan, Asiago or Romano cheese, grated & divided
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 10 ounce boxes frozen spinach, thawed & pressed dry
  • dash of nutmeg
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Bring the stock to a boil in a large pot over medium high heat. Slowly stir in the polenta. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, or until the polenta thickens significantly. Remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of the margarine and all of the cheese.

Line an 11 x 17 inch baking pan with plastic wrap and spray lightly with oil.

Pour the polenta onto a baking sheet and spread out evenly in a 1 inch layer using a spatula. Cool to room temperature.

Melt the remaining tablespoon margarine in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook for about 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Add the spinach and sauté for 3-5 minutes more, or until the liquid has evaporated. Season with the nutmeg, hot sauce and salt and pepper, to taste.

Spread the greens in an even layer on top of the polenta. Carefully roll up the polenta from the widest side, as you would a jelly roll. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour, or until set.

Remove the polenta roll from the refrigerator. Slice into 2 inch thick pieces and serve cut side up. Microwave for about 2 minutes, or until heated through and enjoy.

November 16th, 2015

Squash, kale and mushrooms abound in late fall, and these delicata squash boats are the perfect dish to whip up when you need inspiration after a trip to your local farmers market. This recipe comes to us from Caitlin and of So Hungry I Could Blog.

Serves 2 (makes 4)

  • 2 medium delicata squash, sliced in half lengthwise, seeds scooped out
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 medium shallot, diced
  • 2 cups diced mushrooms (any kind)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons panko
  • 2 kale leaves, ribs removed, shredded finely
  • 1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Rub a little bit of olive oil on all sides of each piece of squash. Grind fresh salt and pepper over the cut side of each piece, and set the squash face down on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes. The squash should be soft yet firm.

Meanwhile, prepare the stuffing. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a pan and add the shallots. Cook for 1 minute, or until the shallot is transparent. Add the mushrooms, thyme, and a dash of salt, and cook on medium heat until the mushrooms reduce, 2-3 minutes. Deglaze the pan with wine, and cook for another 2 minutes, or until the liquid has mostly dissolved. Turn off the heat, and stir in the panko, kale, and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. The mixture should be moist. Season with salt and pepper if needed.

When the squash is out of the oven, gently scoop out the center, and coarsely chop it with a knife. Be sure to leave the rind intact. Add the cooked squash to the mushroom mixture, and stir well. Spoon the stuffing back into the squash halves, sprinkle with more cheese, and place the stuffed squash on the baking sheet, cut side up. Bake for another 20 minutes, or until the cheese has turned golden brown. Serve hot.


November 16th, 2015

This breakfast proves lentils are delicious any time of day, as they are sautéed here with shallots, paprika, lemon juice and fresh parsley. The versatile legume stands in as a savory alternative to jam, as the spiced lentils top toast in this protein packed morning pick me up. This recipe comes to us from Trudy of veggie.num.num.

Serves 4

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 14 ounce can brown lentils
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • or
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 teaspoon low sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • juice from 1/4 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 4 slices whole wheat or multigrain bread, toasted
  • tahini, to taste

Place the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallots or green onions and sauté for 1 minute, or until veggies begin to become fragrant. Add the lentils and season with soy sauce, paprika and pepper and cook for 3-4 minutes more, or until the onion becomes translucent.

Add a good squeeze of lemon juice. Add the chopped parsley and stir. Taste for seasoning and add more soy sauce if desired.

Spread the tahini to taste over the whole wheat or multigrain toast. Spoon the spiced sautéed lentils over the tahini and enjoy.

November 16th, 2015

This simple, rustic dish is the perfect way to enjoy fresh goat cheese and makes an excellent companion to a simple salad. This recipe comes to us from Chef Jason Weiner of Almond.

Serves 8

For the Dough (for 10-11 in tart pan):

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 oz chilled butter
  • 2 oz ice water
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg white mixed with 1 tsp water

For the Caramelized Onions:

  • 2 medium white onions
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the Goat Cheese Filling:

  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 cup goat cheese
  • pinch salt
  • pinch pepper

In a food processor, cut the butter into the flour and salt. When mixture resembles crumbly oatmeal, slowly add water until the dough starts to come together but don’t let it form a ball. Transfer mix to a lightly floured surface, form a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least and hour. Later, roll dough into a disc about 1/8 in thick. Place gently over a greased and floured tart pan. Push down around edges to cut the edge of dough. Wrap in plastic and freeze. Remove plastic and place a piece of parchment on top of the tart and weigh down with beans or pie weights. Place in preheated 425 degree oven and bake for 12 min. Remove parchment and beans and brush with egg white wash and continue baking for 6-8 min or until the shell is lightly browned.

Sweat the onions low heat with butter and salt until you have deep caramel color. Set aside to cool. Blend goat cheese with the half and half and add salt and pepper.

Layer the cooled onions on the bottom of the tart shell and fill with goat cheese base leaving a little room at the top as the tart will grow slightly when baked. Bake in a 350 oven for roughly 12-15 min or until the center of the tart jiggles slightly. There may be some browning of the cheese along the edges. Cool slightly before cutting and serving.

November 16th, 2015

These apple cinnamon treats reinvent donuts the healthy way because the batter features nonfat yogurt and agave nectar in place of butter and sugar. Feel free to make them traditionally in a donut pan, or for a rustic approach, craft your own unique donuts on a baking sheet. This recipe comes to us from Cat of The Verdant Life.

Serves 6

  • 1 medium apple, peeled and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • or
  • 1 flax egg
  • 3/4 cup nonfat your favorite flavor yogurt
  • or
  • 3/4 cup nonfat nondairy yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a donut pan or baking pan with a light coating of nonstick cooking spray.

Toss apples with cinnamon and sugar and set aside.

Place the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl and stir until thorough mixed.

Place the egg, yogurt, canola oil, lemon juice and agave nectar together in a small bowl and whisk to combine.

Carefully add the egg yogurt mixture into the flour mixture. Gently fold in the wet ingredients until no dry spots remain. The batter should be light and airy.

If using a donut pan, divide the cinnamon sugar apples evenly amongst 6 donut cups.  Divide the batter evenly the cups on top of the apple slices, pressing down and shaping a bit with your fingers. The donut cups should be full. Bake 9-10 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Allow to cool 1 minute in the pan before inverting onto a wire rack.

If using a baking sheet, place the cinnamon sugar apples slices in 6 circular shapes on your baking pan. Divide the batter in rustic circles to top the apple slices, molding them with your hands to the donut shape. Bake for 7 minutes, flip, and bake 2-3 minutes more, or until the donuts are golden brown. Allow donuts to cool and enjoy.

November 9th, 2015

Bursting with the autumnal flavors of cauliflower, sweet potato and curry, this recipe is the perfect thing to cook up for you next cozy Monday night in. This recipe was created by our friend Ellie Krieger for her book Comfort Food Fix. It appears in Food Day‘s free Eat Real Recipe Booklet.

Serves 6

  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 1 1/2-inch length fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons yellow curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, broken into 1½-inch-wide florets (about 3 cups)
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch rounds
  • 2 tomatoes, cored and chopped
  • Grated zest of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 15-ounce can no-salt-added chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 5 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice, for serving, optional

Place the onion, garlic, ginger, curry powder, and cayenne pepper in a food processor and
process to combine. Add the oil and process until a smooth puree is formed. Transfer the
curry puree to a large pot and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture begins to darken,
about 5 minutes more.

Add the vegetable broth, coconut milk, cinnamon stick and ¼ teaspoon black pepper and
bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the cauliflower, sweet
potatoes, carrots, and tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and return to a boil. Reduce
the heat to medium low, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 25
minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick. Stir in the lime zest and juice, chickpeas, and spinach
and cook until the spinach is wilted, about 5 minutes. Season with up to ¾ teaspoon salt.

Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice.

November 9th, 2015

Brussels sprouts are browned and dressed in Meyer lemon juice. This tart coating is balanced by sweet medjool dates and herbal fresh dill in this diversely seasoned side. This recipe comes to us from Nimisha of Club Dine In!

Serves 8

  • 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, washed and trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Meyer lemon juice*
  • 1/2 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseeds**
  • 5 medjool dates, quartered
  • 3 sprigs fresh dill, fine chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste

*Meyer lemons are sweeter than standard lemons and found in the citrus section of many markets and grocery stores. Standard lemon juice can be substituted if Meyer lemons are not available.


**Fiber filled flaxseeds can be found in health food stores or the health food or grain section of many grocery stores.

Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the Brussels sprouts to the boiling water and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the Brussels sprouts are beginning to become tender. Drain the Brussels sprouts in a colander and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Cut the boiled Brussels sprouts in half and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add Brussels sprouts and season with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown. Remove from the heat.

Pour the lemon juice over the Brussels sprouts and stir well. Toss in the chopped pecans, flaxseeds, dill and dates. Season with salt and pepper to taste and enjoy.

November 9th, 2015

Switch up your pizza routine by using polenta as the crust, which is a whole grain and packed with fiber. It’s also a great gluten-free option. Use the toppings suggested here or get creative with your own! This recipe comes to us from Debi of Life Currents.

Serves 4

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil, plus additional for oiling the pan
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup pizza sauce
  • 2 ounces queso fresco, crumbled
  • 2 jarred roasted red peppers, chopped
  • 1 small handful fresh oregano, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 400º F. Oil the bottom and sides of a 10-inch cast iron or oven-proof skillet, and set aside.

Bring vegetable broth to a boil in a medium pan over medium-high heat, and slowly stir in polenta. Stir polenta constantly until thickened, about 25 minutes.

While the polenta cooks, place 1 teaspoon oil in a heavy bottomed skillet, and heat over medium-high heat. Add chopped onions, and cook until onions soften and caramelize, about 20-30 minutes, stirring often. If onions begin to cook too fast, or burn, add a small amount of water to the pan and continue to cook. Once onions are done to your liking, remove from heat and set aside.

Pour cooked soft polenta into the prepared cast iron skillet, and bake in the 400º F oven for 15-20 minutes. Carefully remove the hot pan from the oven and top with the pizza sauce, queso fresco, caramelized onions, chopped red peppers, and oregano. Return the pan to the oven for 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove pan from oven, and allow to cool, about 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with additional fresh oregano if desired.

November 9th, 2015

Sweet pumpkin puree is seasoned with cinnamon and vanilla and paired with bright persimmons in these breakfast breads with a delectable texture. Pecans top these Autumnal treats for a crunchy finish. This recipe comes to us from Kristi of Veggie Converter.

Serves 12

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup yogurt
  • 1/4 cup nonfat sour cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 small persimmons, diced
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree*
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup pecans, crushed

*please note that canned pumpkin is not the same as canned pumpkin pie filling, which should not be substituted. To make your own pumpkin puree, cut a pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and roast, cut side down, in a 400 degree oven for 50-60 minutes, or until pumpkin flesh is soft when poked as a fork. For the smoothest consistency, puree the roasted pumpkin pulp in a food processor or blender.


Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a muffin tin with muffin cups.

Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together into a large mixing bowl.

Whisk the yogurt, sugar, persimmon, pumpkin puree, canola oil and vanilla together in a separate small bowl.

Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Pour equal portions into the 12 muffin cups. Sprinkle the crushed pecans on top.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean. Enjoy!

November 2nd, 2015

Sweet bell peppers are balanced by briny artichoke hearts and robust spinach. This crowd pleaser is quick to prepare and ideal for a potluck or family brunch.

This recipe comes to us from Vicki of The Funny Spoon.

Serves 10

  • 2 1/2 cups nonfat milk
  • 6 eggs
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 6.5 ounce jars artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, washed, picked over and chopped
  • or
  • 1 13.5 ounce can chopped spinach, drained
  • 4 slices 7 Grain Bread
  • 4 ounces Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded or grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat eggs and milk together in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in chopped red pepper, onion, artichoke hearts and spinach.

Tear bread into crouton-sized pieces and layer bottom of baking dish. Pour egg mixture over top. Sprinkle with cheese.

Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes, or until eggs fluff up and are fully cooked.

November 2nd, 2015

This curried tofu salad makes a great substitute for the ubiquitous lunch food for anyone who needs to avoid eggs. Curry powder gives the dish an extra punch of flavor, while almonds pack crunch and additional protein. This recipe comes to us from Melissa of For the Love of Food.

Serves 6 – 8

  • 1 block of extra firm tofu
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. curry powder
  • 2 tbsp. chopped onion
  • 2 tbsp. chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup vegan or regular mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. stoneground mustard
  • Dash of cayenne
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp. sliced almonds

Drain the tofu and wrap it in paper towels, setting a heavy pan on top. Let sit for 20 minutes, changing the paper towels once. This will dry up the excess moisture and allow the tofu to crumble more easily.

In a large bowl, crumble the tofu block with a fork until it reaches an egg-like consistency.

Add the curry, salt, pepper, parsley, onions and cayenne and mix.

Add the mayo and mustard and mix again. If you like your egg salad more creamy, feel free to adjust the mayo and mustard amounts.

Fold in the sliced almonds and refrigerate for an hour before serving.

Serve inside one half peeled avocado and enjoy!

November 2nd, 2015

A Middle Eastern dip with an Asian flair that’s perfect to bring to potlucks. The hot chili oil adds a subtle spice and lemon juice brings a citrus tang to this zesty hummus.

This recipe comes to us from Lindsay of Cook. Vegan. Lover.

Serves 8

  • 1 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and liquid reserved
  • 1 tablespoon sesame chili oil
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Place chickpeas, sesame chili oil, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and tahini together and blend until smooth.

Add 1/4-1/3 cup of the reserved chickpea liquid until the hummus has reached its desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with cut up veggies or pita bread.