Roasted Chickpea Pitas

I think if I were a chickpea, I wouldn’t be very happy. Poor chickpeas. They’re always getting mashed, pounded, and ground up for things like hummus and falafel, or playing second fiddle as a side dish to meat. It’s rare that you eat anything in which chickpeas in their whole, unadulterated form take center stage. Can’t we give these little guys their time to shine?

Why yes, we can, in the form of Roasted Chickpea Pitas!

This tasty vegetarian Mediterranean meal features whole chickpeas roasted in a piquant blend of seasonings and paired with caramelized red onions. Finished off with some spinach, tomato, and creamy tzatziki sauce in a whole wheat pita, it’s a super healthy choice for dinner or a one-dish lunch. Every time I eat it, even without adding a side, it keeps me full for hours–probably because of all the “good carbs” found in the whole wheat and beans. Plus, chickpeas contain plenty of protein and even a little unsaturated fat. Can you really go wrong by adding more of them to your diet?

So if I were a chickpea, I’d like to think I’d approve of this recipe (even though I’d have to be roasted in a 400 degree oven). Worth it.


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Roasted Chickpea Pitas
Spiced roasted chickpeas and cool tzatziki sauce make a hearty filling in these pitas.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
For the roasted chickpeas:
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
For the roasted chickpeas:
Instructions
Make the chickpea filling:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together chickpeas and sliced red onions. Pour olive oil and all spices over the mixture, stir to toss, and spread on the prepared baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes, stirring once halfway through baking.
Make the tzatziki sauce:
  1. Meanwhile, make the tzatziki sauce by combining all ingredients in a small bowl.
Assemble the pitas:
  1. Assemble the pitas by filling them with the chickpea mixture, tzatziki sauce, spinach, tomato, and/or feta.
Recipe Notes

Inspired by Live Eat Learn.

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Stetson Chopped Salad

If you follow A Love Letter to Food on Facebook, you may have seen this picture before. (And if you haven’t liked my Facebook page yet, I’d be most honored if you would!) A few days ago was my birthday, and as an avid–or obsessive, depending on how you look at it–home cook, I typically would rather make something truly spectacular at home for my birthday dinner than go out. This Stetson Chopped Salad was THE ONE dinner I knew would be birthday-worthy this year.

What is a Stetson Chopped Salad? (And who in their right mind chooses a salad for their birthday dinner?) Well, in the Phoenix area, the Stetson is a local food celebrity. It’s pretty impressive for any salad to attain celebrity status, but somehow, sometimes, it happens. After all, you’ve heard of Cobb, Waldorf, and Wedge. These famous salads are like the old Hollywood starlets of healthy American cuisine. Classic, standard, glam. The Stetson Chopped Salad, on the other hand, is like the up-and-coming Western girl hitting the big time. Its humble origin lies with Cowboy Ciao, a restaurant located, appropriately, on Stetson Drive in Scottsdale.

A few years ago, some friends had us over for dinner and served a homemade version of the Stetson. It was an edible work of art, with a taste no less extraordinary than the presentation. But we definitely found ourselves in “why-do-these-flavors-go-together-this-makes-no-sense” territory. Who the heck thought of putting sweet (dried currants) with savory (corn and tomatoes) with smoked salmon and a creamy basil dressing?

IT MAKES NO LOGICAL SENSE.

But trust me, there’s a reason this salad is famous. You just have to go with it. And when you do, you’re gonna be like…

Even when my husband and I eventually ate at Cowboy Ciao and of course ordered the “real” restaurant version, it didn’t quite compare to the one our friend had made. (She is a trained chef, so that probably helped.) With this memory in mind, I made my own birthday version, and it was indeed an awesome mix of flavors, textures, and visual appeal. Definitely a salad worth choosing for a special occasion.

Oh, and the other reason I chose salad for my birthday? Cause I knew this was coming afterward!

Raspberry Almond Layer Cake for dessert definitely rounded out the birthday meal experience. 🙂


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Stetson Chopped Salad
You'll be amazed at how this unusual combination of flavors makes for a totally crave-worthy salad!
Instructions
Assemble the salad:
  1. Spread arugula leaves evenly on a large, flat platter. Cover with layered rows of couscous, salmon, pepitas, sweet corn, cranberries, and tomatoes.
Make the dressing:
  1. Combine all dressing ingredients in a measuring cup and mix with an immersion blender until smooth.
  2. Mix salad tableside, if desired, and serve with dressing on the side.
Recipe Notes

Based on this recipe from Key Ingredient.

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Vanilla Chai Granola

A friend of mine recently posted a bit of a rant on Facebook about food blogs that make you scroll through 6,000 pictures and an 800 word banal anecdote before you can actually get to the recipe. I get it. Certainly, recipes are the main reason people visit food blogs…at least, I assume so. That’s the reason I visit food blogs, anyway. We’re not here for the story of how your dog is so adorable and that somehow relates to this casserole, or how you spilled all your Worcestershire and were forced to make this sauce with soy sauce instead. (“But it turned out AMAZING!”)

The truth is, though, as a food blogger, sometimes it’s a bit of a stretch to come up with anything meaningful to say about, say, a salad that just came together on a weeknight and was good enough to share. Cause that’s kind of the whole story. And people end up trying way too hard, when maybe the recipe can speak for itself.

Sorta the case with this Vanilla Chai Granola. All I’ve really got to say is: it’s tasty, easy, and goes great with some Siggi’s vanilla yogurt and some strawberries in a breakfast parfait. Other than that, I could see it as a unique topping for a fruit crumble or a simple start to the day with a splash of milk.

So since I’m not talking your ear off about the recipe…can you forgive a couple extra pictures? 😉

 


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Vanilla Chai Granola
A mixture of warmth and sweetness make this Vanilla Chai Granola a special breakfast treat!
Course breakfast
Servings
Ingredients
Course breakfast
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees and spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. In a large bowl, stir together oats, pecans, and almonds.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine canola oil, maple syrup, brown sugar, and vanilla.
  3. In a small bowl, combine cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, coriander, and salt.
  4. Pour oil mixture over oat mixture and stir to coat, then do the same with the spice mixture over all.
  5. Spread in a layer on the baking sheet and bake about 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Recipe Notes

A Love Letter to Food Original Recipe.

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The New Nutrition Facts Label, Explained

Out with the old (left), in with the new (right).

If you’re particularly observant, or are a seasoned label reader, you may have noticed a change steadily creeping onto the sides (and tops and bottoms) of your food packages. Like your hair growing longer or the coming of fall, this change is happening by degrees. Have you seen it?

If you have, give yourself a pat on the back for perceptiveness! If you haven’t, don’t worry, the change is subtle, and for the time being, slow. The fact is, the Food and Drug Administration determined in May 2016 that it was finally time for an update to American Nutrition Facts labels. About time, if you ask me, since this is the first major redesign since food labeling was instituted in this country in 1990. This updated label was originally set to become mandatory for most companies as of July 2018. Unfortunately, as so often happens in the food industry, the legislation has been held up by lobbyists and may not be required until as late as 2021. Still, many forward-thinking companies are already adopting the changes, and I believe we will see that number increase as time the deadline gets closer.

As a nutritionist, I’m happy to provide a rundown on everything you need to know about the new and improved Nutrition Facts label so you can be ahead of the game when the changes are complete! Here are some of the most important updates, and what they mean for you.

From the top down…

  • Serving Size: Serving sizes will now be listed in bold for more visual distinction. Also, the FDA has stated that servings will be listed in more commonplace measurements–like 1/4 cup instead of 32 grams, because, you know…

In addition to more commonplace measurements, the FDA is getting wise and listing serving sizes in more realistic amounts–as in, based on what people actually eat rather than what they “should” eat. This means the infamous 1/2 cup of ice cream serving will be increased to 2/3 cup. Ever see this awesome Brian Regan bit about the silliness of itty bitty serving sizes?

“I think a serving size of ice cream is when you hear the spoon hit the bottom of the container.”

Serving size changes on the new label also mean that if a package contains between one and two serving sizes, the company is obligated to list it as one serving, since in all likelihood, people will consume it in one sitting.

  • Calories: Calories will now be listed in bold in a larger font to make them more salient.
  • Calories From Fat: No more calories from fat! I mean, they’ll still be in your food, of course, at 9 calories per gram, but the FDA has decided that the type of fat is more important than the amount of calories provided by overall fat intake. So this line item on Nutrition Facts is going away. (If you want to calculate it yourself, just multiply 9 by the number of grams of fat on the label.)
  • Nutrient Values: In the last 20-something years since the Nutrition Facts were established, expert nutrition opinion has changed about how much of particular nutrients should be required each day. These changes have never been reflected on food labels…until now. The most important value changes? Sodium, fat, and fiber.
    • Sodium: The new label will use a daily value of 2,300 mg of sodium/day, slightly lowered from the previous value of 2,400 mg/day.
    • Fat: Rejoice! We get to eat more fat! Daily value for fat has increased from 65 grams/day to 78 grams/day.
    • Fiber: The old Nutrition Facts used the daily fiber requirement for women as its baseline: 25 grams/day. (Yeah, did you know fiber requirements are different for men and women? 25 g for women, 38 g for men.) The new label has found more of a middle ground, setting the daily guideline at 28 grams.
  • Added Sugars: This one is kind of a big deal. With the original Nutrition Facts label, when you looked at the amount of sugar, you could never be sure how much of it was naturally occurring in the food itself and how much was added with sweetener. Well, wonder no more! The new Nutrition Facts require companies to disclose how many grams of sugars have been added. The hope is that this information will help consumers make better choices about Cause isn’t there something about seeing the words “added sugar” that makes you just go..

  • New Vitamins & Minerals: Ever notice how there are only four vitamins/minerals listed at the bottom of the Nutrition Facts? Vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron? Well, back in the ’90s, the thought was that these nutrients were ones Americans were likely to be deficient in. These days, however, the FDA believes Americans are getting enough vitamins A and C, but not enough vitamin D or potassium. Therefore, vitamin D and potassium will replace vitamins A and C as being required on the new Nutrition Facts.

There are, of course, other changes coming besides the ones mentioned here, but these are the ones I believe will matter to you! For the unabridged version, check out the FDA’s full write-up.

Tell me your thoughts about the changes! Like? Dislike? Wish they had added or taken away? Wish ice cream was calorie-free? Let me know in the comments.

 

 

Streusel-Topped Blueberry Custard Pie

Did you know that you can still actually enter pies to be judged at the state fair? There are many things I do not wish to be judged on (my fashion sense, the way I drive when my kids are late to school, the fine lines creeping across my face, to name a few), but if you must judge me, by all means, judge me by my pies.

This pie, specifically. I’m seriously considering entering this Streusel-Topped Blueberry Custard Pie in the upcoming Arizona State Fair Culinary Arts Exhibition in October. It may just be me and a bunch of old ladies from far-flung regions of this great state–places with goofy names like Tuba City and Why–people who still think of the state fair as an opportunity to display their skills instead of an opportunity to see Snoop Dogg in concert and eat fried Twinkies. But I’d kind of like the chance to showcase this gem of a pie, because it is deeeeelish.

Admittedly, “Streusel-Topped Blueberry Custard Pie” is a bit of a mouthful–literally and figuratively–and initially, sounds like a rather odd combination of flavors and concepts:

Streusel? On top of blueberry pie? Which is a custard?

But don’t let that deter you.

This is one special pie. Its mix of creamy blueberry custard with sweet, crunchy streusel is truly unique and has been a crowd-pleaser for its originality every time I’ve served it. If you’ve ever seen the movie Amélie, you may remember the title character’s delight at cracking the crust of a crime brûlée with a spoon to access the smooth custard underneath.

This pie offers a similar tactile pleasure, as its crunchy layer of streusel topping gives way to velvety custard beneath. And I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the way the cinnamony top complements the blueberry filling.

So what do you think? State fair-worthy? What pie would you enter in your state fair?

Nutrition Facts
Servings: 9
Per Serving % Daily Value*
Calories 276
Total Fat 12g 15%
Saturated Fat 4.5g 22%
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 29mg 10%
Sodium 204mg 9%
Potassium 91mg 2%
Total Carb 39.9g 13%
Dietary Fiber 1.9g 7%
Sugars 24.8g
Protein 3.5g
Vitamin A 5% · Vitamin C 11%
Calcium 2% · Iron 8%
*Based on a 2,000 calorie diet
Recipe analyzed by 
Print Recipe
Streusel-Topped Blueberry Custard Pie
A crunchy layer of streusel gives way to velvety blueberry custard underneath in this truly unique pie.
Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
For the crust and filling:
For the streusel topping:
Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
For the crust and filling:
For the streusel topping:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll pie crust to a diameter of 10 inches and place in the bottom of a 10-inch pie plate.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine sour cream, egg, sugar, vanilla, 2 Tbsp. flour, and salt. Fold in blueberries. Pour the mixture into the pie crust. Bake 25 minutes. (You may want to cover the edges with foil or a crust shield to prevent excessive browning.)
  3. In the meantime, prepare streusel: in a small bowl, combine brown sugar and flour, then work the butter in with a fork or your fingers. Stir in pecans.
  4. After 25 minutes of baking, sprinkle streusel over the top of the blueberry filling. Return to oven and bake an additional 15-20 minutes until the filling is no longer jiggly and the topping is nicely browned. Cool 30 minutes before serving, or serve chilled.
Recipe Notes
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