Celery Root Mashed Potatoes

Our Thanksgiving spread.

I love the flavor of celery root, and think it tastes great on its own.  Celery root, or celeriac, is the root that grows beneath celery stalks.  Last Thanksgiving, I volunteered to bring mashed potatoes to dinner, so I incorporated a couple of traditional Yukon Golds for a more familiar flavor.  Alex and I shared Thanksgiving dinner with Daniel, a friend from work, and his two young children.  We were joined by his long-time friend, Jessie, and savored a non-traditional menu.  Our meal did not stray from certain Thanksgiving themes – food, time spent together in the kitchen, board games and puzzles with family, and a leisurely gathering around the table for a variety of courses.  With the menu, we were a little more experimental and creative.  Before we arrived, Daniel spent the afternoon preparing delicious, crisp duck and a vegan pumpkin dessert.  Later on, Alex and I spent time playing games and puzzling (I am a huge puzzle fan!) with Daniel’s children.  Meanwhile, Daniel put the finishing touches on his signature “pink soup” (beets with vegan cream).  Before dinner time, he also prepared kale chips and fresh tostones – both of which barely made it to the dinner table!  Alex and I brought along rainbow carrot salad and my version of mashed potatoes.  We left the table feeling satisfied, but not overly stuffed, and returned to the floor for more puzzling.

Because of dietary restrictions, I made the celery root/mashed potatoes completely vegan for Thanksgiving, but feel free to try these at home with butter and milk or cream.  Next time I make this recipe, I am going to use just celery root and no potatoes.  Give it a try – you might not notice the difference!  Celery root tends to have a silkier texture, compared to the starchy texture of potato.  The two work well in combination.



Celery Root Mashed Potatoes – serves 6 to 8

For this recipe, feel free to adjust quantities of milk and butter for your desired taste.  At home, we usually add a lot of butter to Yukon Gold potatoes, but I find that I need less butter to add flavor to celery root.

You will need: 38e74300-2559-48f6-bfc2-45cc45020ff5

  1. two giant celery roots (about 1 pound)
  2. four Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1 pound)
  3. 1 – 2 T olive oil
  4. 1 – 1.5 C soymilk (or milk)
  5. 2 – 4 T vegan butter (or butter)
  6. salt and pepper to taste
  7. optional: vegetable or chicken broth to thin leftovers


  1. Cut off the root end of the celery first, so you have a flat surface to rest on.  Slice the gnarly bumps off the root with a small knife (this is much easier than using a peeler). Cut roots into approximately 1-inch cubes for even cooking.
  2. Peel potatoes.  Cube potatoes as well.
  3. Put celery root and mashed potatoes into two separate large pots, and cover with salted water.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, checking for tenderness after about 15 minutes.  When both root vegetables are tender (about 15 minutes for potatoes and 20 minutes for celery root), drain water and combine celery root and potatoes into one large pot for mashing.
  4. Reduce heat to low.  Drizzle with olive oil and mash.
  5. Add butter and stir to combine.  Gradually add milk, one half cup at a time, until your potatoes reach desired thickness.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  We usually like a lot of pepper!
  6. Serve warm.  To reheat your mash, add leftovers to a pot over low heat, and revive with a little splash of vegetable broth, chicken broth or more milk.

Warm Farro and Beet Salad

Concentric circles on a cross section of roasted red beet

Alex and I joined my teammate Sarah Cornish and her fiancé Justin Cash for dinner and the Oscars on Sunday.  We cooked under the watchful eye of their adorable French bulldog, Igor.  I have been wanting to cook warm salad with farro for some time now, and thought the Oscars were the perfect occasion to add golden beets to the mix!  We had steamed beets on hand from Trader Joe’s, and enjoyed those with the golden beets when those cooled.  I made more roasted red beets a few days later to enjoy on other salads at work.

Farro has even more protein than quinoa, at 7 grams per serving, according to an online article from Endurance Buzz.  Farro also offers more carbs and calcium per serving than quinoa or brown rice.  Learn more from Clemson University’s “Ingredient of the Month” feature.  Farro is especially satisfying when served warm, and makes a great substitute for rice in any dish!  Farro tastes great on its own, but I coated it in vinaigrette as a way of dressing our salad.

Perfect meal for a meatless Monday!



Warm Farro and Beet Salad – serves 4-6

We used golden beets in addition to red beets, in honor of the Oscars.  Both golden and red beets take about 45 minutes to cook, and can be roasted together.  If your beets come with greens attached, you can wash and cut the greens to serve with your salad greens, or save them to sauté later!  We loved starting dinner with a fresh baguette from La Fournette bakery in Old Town, dipped in our balsamic vinaigrette or topped with extra goat cheese and beets.

You will need:


  1. 4 or 5 medium beets, red and/or golden
  2. 1 C farro, uncooked
  3. 2 T olive oil
  4. 2 T balsamic vinegar
  5. salt and pepper, to taste
  6. 4.5 oz salad greens
  7. 3 T goat cheese
  8. fresh baguette



  1. Start by preheating your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Scrub beets and wrap individually in foil.  Arrange on a baking sheet and bake at 450 for 45 minutes
  3. Meanwhile, combine water and farro in a 3-1 ratio in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.  One cup of uncooked farro should yield plenty for four people.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 30′, stirring occasionally.
  4. Combine equal parts olive oil and balsamic with salt and pepper, to taste.  This will be the vinaigrette to dress your salad.
  5. When all the water has been absorbed or evaporated from your farro, remove from heat and dress with vinaigrette.
  6. Combine beet greens (optional) with salad greens.
  7. When beets are ready, let cool in their foil packets.  This will make it easier to remove their skins.  When cool, peel beets with fingers or the back of a knife.  The skin should slide off easily.  Cut beet into slices or chunks to top the salad.
  8. In a large bowl, combine salad greens and top with warm, dressed farro.  Add beet slices or chunks and crumble goat cheese over top.
  9. Serve with fresh bread and extra vinaigrette dressing.


Sources: “Farro: Ingredient of the Month.” Clemson.edu. ACFEF Chef & Child Foundation and Clemson University. Web. 2 Mar. 2016.

Hanenburg, David. “Farro – A Low-Gluten Grain Packed With Protein.” Farro – A Low-Gluten Grain Packed With Protein. Endurance Buzz. Web. 02 Mar. 2016.

Butternut Squash Vegan “Quesadillas” and Colorful Cauliflower Sides

Mixed greens with frisée, raspberries and raspberry vinaigrette.  Orange cauliflower, mashed.  Green cauliflower, roasted.  Black beans with sautéed onions.  Butternut squash mash.  Purple cauliflower, steamed.



“Eat your colors” – Michael Pollan, “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual”

Having devoured the “Omnivore’s Dilemma” on my recent travels, I stopped by Read It and Eat, my favorite cookbook bookstore in Chicago, in search of any other books by author Michael Pollan.  In “Omnivore’s Dilemma,” Pollan challenged readers by exposing the relationship between the food industry and the foods they consume; “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual” turns the truths that Pollan exposes in “Omnivore’s Dilemma” into digestible advice.  Pollan’s notions have become more visible in mainstream culture.  At one San Diego restaurant, True Foods, a Pollan quotation is chalked on the wall above the bar: “Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.” (from “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto,” which I will be reading next).

Last year, I began talking regularly with Georgie Fear, registered dietitian and sports dietetics specialist.  The most fun thing that Georgie has taught me is to include more vegetables in my meals!  I had to get creative to prevent roasted asparagus-induced boredom, and I’ll endeavor to share some of my favorite vegetable recipes with you in the form of “Intimidating Vegetable” posts.

On my last night in San Diego, I cooked dinner in Jess’s mother’s kitchen one last time.  I made a vegan meal for us, including half a dozen produce varietals.  I used a recipe for butternut squash “quesadillas” and black beans that I picked up when I trained in Seattle last March and stayed with Katherine Robinson.  With this final dinner, I made use of the rest of our produce from when Jess took me to the PB Farmers Market.


Butternut Squash “Quesadillas” – serves 4

Butternut squash is so flavorful that you do not even need to add cheese to your tortilla!

You will need: IMG_2218

  1. 1 large butternut squash, chopped (see below)
  2. 1 1/2 T olive oil
  3. salt
  4. pepper
  5. 14.5 oz can black beans
  6. 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  7. 4 tortillas
  8. 1 avocado, sliced
  9. your favorite salsa for serving


  1. Microwave your butternut squash for 2-3 minutes, with the skin on.  This will make it much easier to remove the skin. Allow several minutes for squash to cool before handling. When squash has cooled, chop into bite-sized chunks.
  2. Heat 1 T olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.
  3. Add butternut squash chunks and ½ cup of water, cover.
  4. Cook for 5-8 minutes or until squash begins to soften.
  5. Meanwhile, add 1/2 T olive oil to a pan over medium heat.  Add chopped onions and sauté for about 2 minutes, just until the onions begin to turn translucent.  Add black beans and stir to heat.
  6. Mash the squash with the back of your spoon, until about half of the chunks are completely smooth. You will want to retain some squash-chunk texture to enjoy in your tortilla.
  7. Remove squash and beans from heat.
  8. Serve with tortillas and avocado slices, with beans and salsa on the side.



Colorful Cauliflower Sides – serves 3-4

The cauliflower at the farmers market was so vibrant that we could not choose just one variety! I had three cauliflower heads, and wanted to retain their original flavors for accurate comparison, so I decided to keep my preparation simple. I roasted the green cauliflower, steamed the purple and mashed the orange. The orange cauliflower claimed to taste cheesy, and is otherwise known as cheddar cauliflower, so I knew I would not need to add much to make a satisfying mashed-potato alternative.

You will need:


  1. 1 head of green cauliflower
  2. 1 large garlic clove, chopped
  3. ½ T olive oil
  4. 3 t black pepper
  5. 1 head of purple cauliflower
  6. 1 t salt
  7. 1 head of orange cauliflower


  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Chop green cauliflower heads. Chop garlic clove into large chunks.
  3. Arrange cauliflower and garlic in a single layer on a baking sheet, coating with olive oil and 1 t black pepper.
  4. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the tops of the cauliflower pieces have begun to brown.
  5. Meanwhile, chop both the purple and orange cauliflower heads.
  6. Arrange orange and purple cauliflower into two separate pots on the stove, set to steam for 5 to 7 minutes. Check tenderness. When the purple cauliflower is tender, remove from heat and sprinkle with ½ t salt and 1 t black pepper.
  7. Steam orange cauliflower for a few additional minutes, until it is soft enough to mash with a spoon. For a smoother consistency, like mashed potatoes, transfer cauliflower to a food processor and blend for a minute before adding spices and butter, if desired. For this recipe, mash cauliflower with a spoon and then add ½ t salt and 1 t black pepper.


Pollan, Michael. Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual. New York: Penguin, 2009. Print.

Pollan, Michael. In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. New York: Penguin, 2008. Print.

Pollan, Michael. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. New York: Penguin, 2006. Print.