Saturday, January 15, 2011

Great Giveaway for a Healthy New You!

And the Winner is:

# 19 Kristen


Please respond within 48 hours to claim your prize!

Thanks to everyone who entered! Check back for more great recipes and giveaways!

Did you resolve to eat healthier or save some money by packing your own lunch for work? Win your choice of a small or large personalized thermal lunch tote from Thirty-One Gifts with Tricia. Tricia is a dear friend of mine and an independent consultant with Thirty-One Gifts whose mission is to celebrate, encourage and reward women through offering quality products and an outstanding opportunity to become successful business owners. The products offered are exclusive to Thirty-One and provide style and convenience at an amazingly affordable price. From their signature purses and totes to kid's items and accents for the home, you'll find something to fit every personality and situation. They continue to develop new products built on the idea that the products must be stylish, functional, affordable and easy to give as gifts to encourage someone special.

How to enter:
  • First entry, "like" Tricia's page on Facebook. This is mandatory before other entries will be counted
  • Comment on her post "It's the New Year!  Which Thirty-One product would best help you accomplish your new year's resolution?". You can view the catalog directly from her Facebook page (and check out the cute lunch totes on page 26!)
  • Become a follower of my blog
  • Add me to your blog roll
  • Follow me publicly in google
  • Post this giveaway link on your Facebook page (1 per day)
Be sure to leave a comment for each entry and a valid email address. Open to U.S. and Canada only. Winner will be chosen by random integer selection. The winner will have 48 hours to claim the prize or a new winner will be chosen. Contest will close on Friday, January 14, 2010 at 5:00 PM EST. Good Luck!!!

Come back to The Simple Gourmand throughout the week for healthy on the go lunch options.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Roasted Beet Salad

I love beets, but have always been hesitant to cook with them since they can be so messy. I have a white kitchen and the thought of my cabinets and countertops being stained by beet juice is a little off-putting. Yes, I did say cabinets - it's not uncommon to find sauces and such splattered or dripped down the cabinets. I like to blame that on my boyfriend, but the truth is, I do most of the cooking around here so statistics would point to me. I digress....Late last week, I bit the bullet and bought some beets. I got the orange variety, not so much because I thought they'd be less messy, but because that's the only kind my grocer had. I hemmed and hawed for a few days before deciding what, exactly, to do with the beets. Then I was reminded of a delicious salad I had over the Christmas holiday at Wild Fire, a Lettuce Entertain You restaurant, where I had a delicious salad of mixed greens, beets, and goat cheese. So I decided to make something similar to pack in my lunches this week and here it is! (Don't forget to enter the giveaway for a super cute lunch tote from Tricia and Thirty-One Gifts)

Roasted Beet Salad
1 bunch of beets, 1 lb or less
Mixed baby greens
Crumbled goat cheese
Blanched slivered almonds
1 Tbsp Sherry vinegar
3/4 tsp Balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 C light olive oil
Freshly ground salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425°. Cut greens off of beets (beet greens sauteed with garlic and a little olive oil are delish, so retain the greens if you'd like). Scrub the beets and place them in a baking dish with a small amount of water or white wine (about 1/4 inch). Cover with a lid or foil and roast in oven for about 35 minutes or until the beets are fork tender. Let the beets cool in the baking dish. Once the beets are cool enough to handle, cut off the ends and the skin should slip off. Slice the beets.

Whisk the vinegars, oil, mustard, garlic, and salt and pepper together in a small bowl or jar.

Toss salad greens, beets, goat cheese, and almonds together with small amount of dressing.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Healthy Lunch Options

Lots of people make resolutions to get healthy this time of the year, so I've decided to make some posts this week in keeping with that theme. First, my dear friend Tricia is offering The Simple Gourmand followers a chance to win a cute lunch tote from Thirty-One Gifts - click here to enter. To go along with the giveaway, I decided to make a post on healthy and tasty dishes that are easy to pack for lunch. The first dish, Lentil Ragout, is from The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook. I will be completely honest and tell you that this dish turned out so much better than I was anticipating. I had tried lentils before, only to be disappointed by their mealy texture and bland flavor. This Lentil Ragout turned out smooth and creamy and the flavor was rich and savory - it did not disappoint!

Note: I made a few changes to the original recipe based on ingredients I had on hand, and one mistake (oops!). Since I really liked the way it turned out, I've posted it here the way I made it.

Lentil Ragout
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 C chopped onions
2 large leeks, white part only, washed and chopped
2 large celery stalks, trimmed and chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp crumbled dried oregano
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 C uncooked lentils, rinsed (I used red lentils)
1 1/4 C Flavor Kick (recipe below)
1 3/4 C vegetable broth

Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, leeks, celery, carrots, garlic, oregano, cinnamon, and cloves, and saute over medium heat until the vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes. Add the tomato paste and vinegar, and stir to blend. Stir in the lentils, Flavor Kick, and vegetable broth. Turn up the heat to medium-high and bring the sauce to a simmer. Cover and turn down the heat to medium-low and cook until the lentils are soft and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 50 minutes. Eat plain or serve over quinoa or on whole wheat pasta.

Flavor Kick
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large carrot, scrubbed, trimmed, and chopped
2 celery stalks, including leaves, chopped
1 large leek, including greens, washed and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1/4 C red wine (I used Sweet Vermouth instead)
1 bay leaf
2 tsp crumbled dried thyme
2 C vegetable broth
2 C plus 1 tbsp water
1 Tbsp cornstarch

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large nonstick saucepan. Add the celery, carrot, leek, onion, shallot, and garlic and saute until the onion is soft, about 8 minutes.

Stir in tomato paste to blend thoroughly with the vegetables. Still stirring, add the red wine, and let the mixture simmer until most of it has evaporated, about 7 minutes.

Add the bay leaf, thyme, vegetable broth, and 2 cups of the water. Let the broth simmer until it's reduced by half, about 40 minutes.

Blend the cornstarch with the remaining tablespoon of water in a cup or small bowl. Stir the mixture into the broth, and continue to simmer until it's thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Strain through a fine sieve, discard the vegetables, and refrigerate until ready to use. Or transfer to smalle containers and freeze.

As for my lunch, I packed the lentils, some roasted cauliflower, and a spinach salad with dried cherries, goat cheese, and blanched slivered almonds.