Who doesn’t love a trilogy? Toy Story, Mission Impossible, The Hangover, Twilight? (Oh, Twilight‘s not a trilogy? I guess I just gave up at #3.)
Trilogies prove that a story line has real leverage – real staying-power, a real ability to keep people coming back, wanting more..and more…and even more.
Not all movies can make trilogies, heck – a lot of movies can’t even make sequels. (Umm, Bring it On Again? Jaws 2? Grease 2? Legally Blonde 2? Like seriously…oh wow, like totally freak me out…)
So that makes it all the more impressive when a trilogy kicks ass, now doesn’t it!
Such is the case with cookbook author Terry Walters, of the Clean Food trilogy. Terry was able to write not one, not two, but THREE blockbuster plant-based cookbooks! (Clean Food,Clean Start,Eat Clean Live Well)
Each book is filled with incredible recipes, drool-worthy photos and really warm personal sentiments. Sometimes browsing her cookbook feels like you’re reading her holiday card…or diary. (I mean, the books come with those satin ribbon things that help you bookmark your page – just like the one in your high school diary! Point proven.)
But even more than the photos and personality, Terry’s recipes are truly, hands down, the easiest, most fail-proofed, HEALTHIEST (and tastiest) plant-based recipes around.
Terry’s books are those books that I grab when I want certainty that what I cook or bake that day will be an ultimate success.
I have made dozens of recipes from her cookbook trilogy and I have never ONCE not had that recipe be a home-run. (I mean, I guess one or two might’ve been a triple, but her books give me a really high batting average.)
The food I make from her books are demanded by family, friends and family friends for months and years after they ate it – “you can only come to my graduation party if you bring that berry tart” or, “can you make that carrot ginger soup? I’m sick [fake] cough cough” or “I’m mad at you. Make me Terry’s tofu kale lasagna and I’ll forgive you.”
Now, before you go thinking that Terry’s secretly paying me (with her amazing teff ginger molasses cookies – OMG I wish), let me assure you that she is not. It’s just my duty and responsibility as a plant-partier to share the best resources in plant-party-world, and Terry’s books are some of those best resources. I am lucky enough to call Terry a friend, however. I fortuitously grew up right next to her in the woods of good ol’ Connecticut. It’s a shame I didn’t start giving two hoots about healthy eating until I moved OUT of my Connecticut home and into my college dorm, or else I probably would’ve moved in with Terry (or at least hid in her kitchen).
So let’s talk about her latest installment in her series, shall we?
Her third book, Eat Clean Live Well, JUST came out! Wahoo! And while her previous two books were filled with personal anecdotes and backstories for her recipes, Eat Clean Live Well takes it to the next level. This time, you basically move in with her – into her garden, her kitchen, her pantry…no, not her bed you dirty mind!
The book tells (and shows) you the ins and outs of clean, healthy living – in a broader sense than just food. She talks about decluttering, gift-giving and gardening (which is 100% non-applicable to me in my tiny NYC apartment, my aloe plant is barely makin’ it…but it’s still fun to read about).
But my favorite part of Eat Clean Live Well and the entire Terry Walters trilogy is how her recipes are divided by seasons. Hands down, this part makes me giddy. No joke. Not an exaggeration. (Maybe kind of a weird thing, though.)
There’s just something so freaking exciting about finding a slew of recipes specifically for the current season. It’s like when Netflix gives you a list to watched based on “what you previously watched,” or when Spotify gives you new artists to check out based on your listening habits…or when Facebook pops up ads based on the secret piece of lingerie you bought for your anniversary, while you’re using Facebook in a public coffee shop…..
I love being in the middle of autumn and going to the “fall” section in her book (’cause autumn=fall BTW) and finding loads of squashy recipes. (And you know how I love my squash…)
Or being in the heat of summer and going to the “summer” section in her book (there’s really no second word for summer, is there?) and finding a bunch of peachy, watermelony and cucumbery things to make.
In fact! I did just this the other night. I turned to the “fall” section and found a “seared tart apple and kale sauté,” which worked perfectly with the bushel (literally) of apples I had recently picked with my own two hands, and decided to whip it up, knowing, with certainty, that the recipe would rock my wool socks.
Rock my wool socks it did, and now I’m going to share this simply easy recipe with you, from Terry’s latest book (GO BUY IT) Eat Clean Live Well. Oh! And I might as well share the recipe I made it with: Terry’s Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Peas. It’s from the “winter” section of her new book, but I figured since I can see my breath outside now, I’m allowed to make a “winter” recipe. (By the way – this “cheese” isn’t dairy cheese, it’s homemade dairy, soy and nut-free cheese.)
So lemme walk you though my totally comforting, healthy, delicious dinner from Eat Clean Live Well.
Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Peas and Chard, p. 258
(In case you didn’t know, sweet potatoes make excellent page holder-downers.)
The “cheese” part starts with butternut squash. Terry calls for a fresh, large butternut squash. I opted for cheap, easy, quick frozen squash. Fresh probably would’ve been more flavorful, but frozen was definitely more simple.
Also, Terry called for rice milk, but I had almond milk in my fridge so I used that instead. (Same diff – pretty much.)
Time to make the “cheese!” By processing the butternut squash, almond milk, nutitional yeast, miso, garlic powder and salt in a food processor.
Then blend it all up to be creamy dreamy.
Now onward to the pasta! I used my favorite gluten-free brown rice pasta.
And peas! I love peas! (The recipe also calls for swiss chard, but since I was making a kale dish alongside this mac n’ cheese, I figured I’d omit the chard. There’s only so many green leaves one can eat…)
Cook ’em both up, baby! And mix in that cheesy-cheeseee 🙂
Then I dumped it into an 8×8 pan (I didn’t have one so I had to buy a classy disposable one)!
And added some gluten-free breadcrumbs, which I mixed with 1 tbsp olive oil. Loved that crunchy addition!
Time to bake, baby, bake! For 30 ish minutes (I went a little over because I wanted those breadcrumbs extraaaa crispy).
So, while that was becoming the most delicious, dairy-free mac n cheese EVER, I figured I’d go ahead and make the kale.
Seared Tart Apple and Kale Sauté, p. 187
(Which was insanely easy and remarkably delicious, by the way.)
First, gotta throw some apples, lemon juice and ginger into a bowl. (Terry suggests adding jalapeños but I wasn’t feeling it.)
And then chop up 1/2 a red onion (Terry actually says to cut it into thin wedges, but I’m so used to chopping onions I got ahead of myself…)
Now, sear it all in a pan! (First the onions, then the apple, ginger, lemon mixture.)
Then take it out of the pan, and replace it with a BUTT-LOAD (aka 1 huge bunch) of KALE!
It’s insane how much it shrinks down…
Once it shrunk down (aka cooked and became that gorgeous bright green color), I just added the onion/apple mixture, gave it one more sec on the heat, sprinkled it with some pink sea salt and then it was ready to serve.
The whole thing took all of 5-6 minutes (except for the cutting and washing of the kale – which I did while watching a Shark Tank rerun).
Then, whattdya know – the mac ‘n cheese finished!
Honestly, these two dishes complimented each other fabulously. Whenever I eat something like pasta, it’s essential to balance all the starch with a ton of greens, and lucky for me, this easy, quick kale recipe was not just a good way to get in the greens, it was one of the most delicious kale recipes I’ve ever made! (And not because it brought out the flavor of kale. It actually disguised it. No kale flavor here – I promise.)
I ate this clean dish, and I lived well….
Another Terry Walters home-run!
- 2½ cups peeled and cubed butternut squash (about ½ small squash)
- ⅔ cup rice milk or water
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 3 tablespoons chickpea miso
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Generous pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- 8 ounces of gluten-free macaroni (about 2 cups, dry)
- 1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
- 1 cup chopped green Swiss chard
- ½ cup gluten-free bread or rice crumbs
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling baking dish
- Bring 1 inch of water to boil in medium pot with steamer rack. Add squash and stream until very soft.
- Transfer squash to food processor. Add rice milk, nutritional yeast, miso, garlic powder, salt and nutmeg and process until combined and smooth. Turn processor off, scrape down sides and pulse one last time to combine all ingredients. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil an 8 x 8-inch baking dish.
- Cook macaroni according to directions on package. When nearly done, add peas and chard to cooking water with macaroni and remove from heat. Drain and return to pot. Pour squash mixture into pot and fold to evenly coat pasta and vegetables. Transfer to baking dish and spread evenly.
- In small bowl, combine breadcrumbs with olive oil and mix until moist. Spread over casserole, sprinkle with paprika and bake 30 minutes, or until breadcrumbs are highly toasted. Remove from oven and serve.
- 2 teaspoons virgin coconut oil
- ½ small red onion, cut into thin wedges
- 1 tart apple (Macoun, Granny Smith or variety of choice), thinly sliced
- juice of ½ lemon
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- ½ jalapeno, seeded and sliced into rings (optional)
- 1 large bunch kale, chopped
- ¼ teaspoon coarse sea salt
- Melt coconut oil in cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sear until browned and barely soft (1-2 minutes). In bowl, toss apple slices with lemon juice, ginger and jalapeños (if using). Pour into skillet with onion and sear 1 minute on each side to highly brown (apples will still be crisp on inside). Spoon apples and onions back into their original bowl.
- Place kale in skillet and sauté until juice soft and bright green, adding water 1 tablespoon at a time as needed to deglaze pan and steam kale. Remove skillet from heat and fold into onions and apples. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt, fold to combine and serve.
Recipes from Eat Clean Live Well, Copyright 2014, Terry Walters
Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.