Chana Masala with Ground Turkey

Chana masala with turkey for lunch, in under 30 minutes!

Last weekend Alex and I did our grocery run right after an exciting “I Love Sushi” sculling scrimmage.  We picked several recipes for the week from three cookbooks for inspiration: “Run Fast, Eat Slow“, “Racing Weight Cookbook” and “The Happy Cook“.  Thank you to my sister, Liz, for sending me a copy of “The Happy Cook” last week!  Because we were grocery shopping midday, we also needed a quick recipe to prepare right away for lunch.  The Chana Masala recipe from “Good and Cheap” has become a staple in our household, and takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.  We add ground turkey to the recipe, but if you follow the original ingredient list, chana masala can be served as a vegetarian entree on its own or over rice, or as a filling side.  Chickpeas are very filling and make this a great stand-alone meal option.

As with all recipes from “Good and Cheap”, the chana masala is budget-friendly and uses mostly pantry ingredients that you might already have on hand.  The idea behind Leanne Brown’s “Good and Cheap” was to provide healthy recipes for families on tight budgets.  The PDF is available online, and you can download and save a copy for free.  There are also hard copies for purchase on Amazon.

For this post, I set a timer as soon as I laid out all of my ingredients.  From start to finish, this meal took just under 27.5 minutes to prepare.  With the additional turkey and served over brown rice, this recipe provided about four meals.



Chana Masala with Ground Turkey – serves 4

Alex and I added turkey to this meal to increase the amount of protein per serving.  As an added bonus, the ground turkey adds volume and we are able to get about four servings with this list of ingredients.  I skipped the jalapeño that “Good and Cheap” recommends, and further simplified some of their steps.  I only use fresh ginger for this recipe half the time.  Make your own garam masala blend at home using this recipe if you do not have any on hand.  You could also use ghee (clarified butter) instead of butter and oil if you have that at home.

You will need:


  1. 3 t coriander
  2. 1 t turmeric
  3. 1/4 t cayenne
  4. 1/2 t garam masala blend
  5. 1 t smoked paprika
  6. 1/2 t salt
  7. 1/2 T butter
  8. 1/2 T olive oil
  9. 1 t cumin
  10. 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  11. 1 or 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  12. 1 t ginger root, grated (optional)
  13. 1 C canned tomato puree
  14. 1 lb ground turkey
  15. 2 1/2 C cooked chickpeas (we used canned, drained)
  16. 1/2 C water

Optional: cilantro, yogurt, naan or brown rice for serving


  1. Combine spices and set aside (ingredients 1-6).
  2. If you are serving chana masala with rice, now is the time to get your rice started.  For best results, follow package instructions for rice preparation.
  3. In a large pan over medium-low heat, combine butter and olive oil and heat until melted.  When the butter and oil begin to sizzle, add cumin and stir to combine.
  4. Add chopped onion and sautee for 2 minutes.  Add chopped garlic and stir for another minute.  If using ginger, add now and stir to combine.
  5. Add the spice mixture and the tomato puree, stir and then cover for 5 minutes.
  6. In a separate pan over medium heat, brown turkey while your chana masala mixture is cooking down.  Break up the turkey into small pieces with a spoon and stir to ensure even cooking.
  7. Check on the tomato pot now; you should notice that the butter/oil have started to separate from the tomato puree, which has reduced.  The surface will start to shimmer when the butter/oil separate.  At this point, add the chickpeas and water and bring your mixture to a boil and then simmer for ten more minutes.
  8. Whenever your turkey has cooked through, transfer the meat to your chickpea/tomato mixture.
  9. After your chana masala has simmered for about ten minutes, the chickpeas should begin to soften.  Using a spoon, potato masher or measuring cup, squish about half of your chickpeas.  The squished chickpea texture will thicken your chana masala sauce.
  10. Serve over rice for a complete meal, or as a side.


Source: Brown, Leanne. Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/day. New York: Workman, 2015. Print.  PDF link, page 93.

Meatless Monday in Fort Collins, CO: “Beyond Burgers” and Veggies


One big pan of pre-cut veggies!

Last month, I had the chance to visit my dear friends Hannah and Robby at their home in Fort Collins, CO. Hannah and Robby are both busy with work and school, and I was impressed by their system for getting fresh, colorful food on the table everyday. Keep these tips in mind for when you need to decrease your cooking time!

On my first night in Fort Collins, Hannah picked me up from the airport and we had dinner ready in just about 20 minutes.  We saved time by using pre-cut butternut squash and Brussels sprouts from the grocery store.  After we steamed the veggies for a few minutes in one large pan, we mixed them with fresh pepper and salt and a drizzle of olive oil.

The following day, Hannah and I spent a few hours at the climbing gym, where she taught me the ropes!  Rock climbing was thrilling and engaging, and I loved using my mind and body in a new way.  We arrived home hungry, and I was grateful that it did not take long to cook our dinner.  For dinner, we used pre-made meatless “Beyond Meat” burger patties  from Whole Foods.  The “Beyond Meat: Beyond Burger” is the best frozen, meatless burger I’ve had so far!  We wanted potatoes on the side, and to save time, we used small fingerling potatoes.  Fingerling potatoes cut your roasting time in half.  We again steamed our veggies for a few minutes before sautéing.


Beyond Burgers and Veggies – serves 4

You will need: img_7792

  1. 1 pound fingerling potatoes
  2. salt and pepper to taste
  3. 1-2 T olive oil
  4. 1 head of purple cauliflower, or broccoli or cauliflower
  5. 1 t garlic powder
  6. 4 frozen burger patties (we loved Beyond Meat Beyond Burgers) – thawed
  7. burger buns or wheat bread

Optional: ketchup, parmesan cheese, avocado


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Halve any large fingerling potatoes and scatter potatoes on a roasting sheet.  Drizzle olive oil across potatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roll around on pan to evenly coat with oil, then roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
  3. While potatoes cook, remove the stem from your head of cauliflower and chop into bite sized pieces.  Steam your cauliflower in a large pan over medium heat with just a little water (about 1/2 C) at the bottom of the pan.  Add a lid to your pan to speed up the steaming process.  After about 5 minutes, the cauliflower should feel softer when pierced with a fork.  Add a drizzle of oil and salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Keep stirring cauliflower occasionally – at this point, the pieces should begin to brown and become crisp.
  4. Finally, follow the directions on your meatless burger box and prepare the Beyond Burgers!  Check on your potatoes to make sure they are becoming golden and crispy.
  5. Serve with ketchup, shaved parmesan for the potatoes, and sliced avocado for the burgers.

Beet Burgers with Mint Yogurt Topping

Beet burger topped with mint yogurt

I made beet burgers for the first time about a year ago, when I found the recipe on a MyFitnessPal newsletter. I have been on a beet kick lately, so I thought I would try out a new version of that recipe, and a variation on the garlic aioli sauce that they recommend. My friend Danielle, who also rows for Lincoln Park Boat Club, and I got together yesterday to trade recipes and share feedback. She agreed to teach me a recipe for muffins if I came over to cook lunch. Danielle is a brilliant baker who earned her chops at the Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College and worked as a pastry cook at the University Club in Chicago. I would share her muffin recipe, but she has a blog of her own to start! For now, I have included a photograph of said muffin to whet your appetite.



Beet burgers with mint yogurt topping– serves 6

I like to use pretzel rolls with these burgers because they mold easily to your patty, and help to hold the burger together. You can use whatever buns you prefer. Pair this recipe with lentil salad or black beans for extra protein. I paired my beet burgers with a Greek yogurt-based topping instead of mayonnaise because I wanted to add extra protein to this dish, and I prefer the thicker consistency of Greek yogurt. For that reason, I am calling my mint yogurt a topping, rather than a sauce.

You will need:


  1. 2 large beets
  2. 1 medium sweet potato
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 1 cup walnut topping, or chopped walnuts
  5. 1 t apple cider vinegar
  6. 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  7. 3 garlic cloves, or about 1.5 T chopped garlic
  8. ½ C onion, chopped
  9. 1 t paprika

For your topping:

  1. 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  2. 3 T chopped fresh mint
  3. juice of half of one lemon
  4. salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. First, chop garlic and onion and set aside.
  3. Peel your beets and sweet potato and shred with microplane or grater.
  4. Combine all burger ingredients.
  5. Line a baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup. Divide beet mixture into six equal parts, and form six patties by hand, squeezing out most of the excess juice between your palms.
  6. Place burgers on foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, combine topping ingredients.

Serve with avocado slices and pretzel rolls.

Source: Davis, Deborah, MS, RD. “Beet Burgers with Garlic Sriracha Aioli – Hello Healthy.” Hello Healthy. My Fitness Pal, 2014. Web. 09 Mar. 2016.

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.” 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.