Orange + Almond Black Rice Salad

Orange + Almond Black Rice Salad | Our Four Forks | #vegan #glutenfree

I try to get all of my grocery shopping done on Friday night on my way home from work. I love grocery shopping, but if I don’t try to squeeze it in between 5pm and dinner my first glass of wine on a Friday, it takes up too much of my Saturday or Sunday. I hem and haw over what to cook for lunch and dinner for week, what to make for the blog, furiously flipping through cookbooks, Bon Appétit, Food and Wine, Cooks Illustrated, Pinterest and by the time I’m out the door, half of Saturday is gone and I’m starving.

Friday night grocery shopping doesn’t necessarily mean my decision making is easier, but it forces me to commit ahead of my old schedule. Last week, I decided to buy ingredients for a “Chinese salad” because 1. more salads and 2. Chinese New Year. The new South End Whole Foods has TWO AISLES of bulk bins and when I spotted bulk black rice (aka forbidden rice), I had a salad vision and went with it.

Orange and Almond Black Rice Salad with soy ginger vinaigrette is full of flavor and texture. If you’re like me and need a break from all the heavy winter foods, this salad will be satisfying. It’s filling, but full of light and crunchy veggies, like cabbage, snap peas and scallions. Isabel has been encouraging me to make these sesame clusters for a while now, and I regret not having made them sooner. Along with the roasted almonds, the sesame clusters give the salad another dimension, making it heartier and more filling than most, perfect as a main dish.

Orange + Almond Black Rice Salad | Our Four Forks | #vegan #glutenfree

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Crumbly Gingerbread Oat Bars

Crumbly Gingerbread Oat Bars | ourfourforks.com

While I was living in London, I discovered British flapjacks, often individually wrapped by the checkout counter in grocery stores.  They’re easy to grab and seemingly healthy – like a soft granola bar. I assumed they were a relatively smart snacking choice until, while eating my second (or third or fourth), I realized that they’re no different from American granola bars; sugar with some oats.

 

Isabel visited Boston this past weekend, so we got to do some healthy holiday baking. Inspired by flapjacks and the date and oat slices in one of my favorite cookbooks, Breakfast, Lunch and Tea: The Many Little Meals of the Rose Bakery, we decided to bake our own, healthier oat gingerbread bars.

 

These gingerbread bars have a soft base and topping made from gluten free oats, coconut oil and fresh ginger. Between the oat layers is a ginger spiced chewy date layer, which provides most of the sweetness. Cut these bars into any size (the smaller you cut them, the more crumbly they get) and enjoy for breakfast or an afternoon snack with tea. Or drizzle with a little melted white chocolate and serve for dessert.

 

Crumbly Gingerbread Oat Bars | ourfourforks.com

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Garlic Ginger Kale Bowl With Cauliflower Rice

Garlic Ginger Kale Bowl with Cauliflower Rice| ourfourforks.com

It’s full on holiday season, which means food is everywhere; Thanksgiving leftovers all weekend, treats in the office, buffets at holiday parties (mine had a candy bar, ice cream bar and cupcake station), wine at countless happy hours. It’s all so overwhelmingly bad for you (sugary, fattening, delicious), so when I’m weeknight cooking this time of year, I crave simple, healthy meals. I love the idea of one bowl dinners – I’ve been making things like pork and butternut squash stew and quick pho – and this simple garlic ginger kale bowl couldn’t be easier to throw together after work.

 

Simply chop up some garlic and ginger, stir-fry with some ground meat or a can of beans, add kale and voila; flavorful, healthy comforting garlic ginger kale bowl. The most complicated aspect of this dish is the cauliflower rice (which is not complicated at all – just throw in a food processor and pop in the oven for 20 minutes), but any grain like brown rice or quinoa would work well. I just like the idea of putting vegetables on vegetables.

 

Garlic Ginger Kale Bowl with Cauliflower Rice| ourfourforks.comGarlic Ginger Kale Bowl with Cauliflower Rice| ourfourforks.com

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Squash Hummus with Injera, Roasted Chickpeas + Ginger Brussels Sprouts

Squash Hummus with Injera, Roasted Chickpeas + Ginger Brussels Sprouts | ourfourforks.com

Two acorn squashes from my CSA have been sitting on my counter for several weeks now. At first I had planned to baked and stuff them, but our roasted almond butternut squash sauce gave me the idea for squash hummus. I had never made hummus without chickpeas before and the result was delicious. Creamy and a bit sweet, this squash hummus goes well with everything.

 

When I was living in Portland, my friend and I often went for Ethiopian food. I haven’t had it yet in Boston, but I had a craving for gluten free injera and thought it would pair well with the squash hummus. For added Ethiopian flavor and crunch, I made roasted chickpeas with berbere spice, a classic Ethiopian spice mix, and ginger roasted brussels sprouts; a seasonal take on the vegan feast served in Ethiopian restaurants.

 

Squash Hummus with Injera, Roasted Chickpeas + Ginger Brussels Sprouts | ourfourforks.comWHY IT’S HEALTHY// This squash hummus is vegan, gluten free and paleo. Squash is full of fiber, potassium, B vitamins and folate. It’s orange hue indicates high levels of beta-carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A. Tahini contains fiber, protein and some calcium. It also contains the unsaturated fat omega-3 fatty acid, which lowers cholesterol and fights inflammation. Tahini is also great for your immune system; it contains zinc, iron, copper and selenium. The ginger in the ginger brussels sprouts is great for digestion, is high in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. //

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Cauliflower “Couscous” with Dried Apricots & Cashews

Cauliflower Couscous | ourfourforks.com

I usually associate cauliflower with the fall and winter months, but when a cauliflower popped up in our CSA last week, I was pleasantly surprised. I’ve made cauliflower pizza crust, cauliflower mashed “potatoes” and cauliflower “rice,” but it dawned on me that I had never tried cauliflower “couscous.” Cold grain salads have always been a staple in my family in the summer months; they’re perfect paired with grilled veggies, meat, fish and even other salads. But if you’re trying to avoid grains or just lower your carb intake, this cauliflower couscous is the perfect alternative.

 

Cauliflower couscous has such a mild flavor, that I decided to spice it up with a ginger cinnamon dressing, dried apricots and cashews. The dressing, inspired by Ottolenghi, may sound weird, but trust me: you’ll want to put it on everything. This dish is seasonally versatile: eat it cold in the summer, serve warm in the winter. Either way, enjoy!

 

Cauliflower Couscous | ourfourforks.com

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