Moroccan Tagine with Sweet Potatoes + Beets, food for runners (or this runner)

Moroccan Tagine with Sweet Potatoes + Beets, food for runners (or this runner)

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There is nothing like a few days spent living with others to put into perspective how truly personal is our choice in food. While I will happily eat roasted broccoli or leftover kale salad for 9am snack (and frequently do), even the idea of kale salad at a seemingly more appropriate time of day might leave others running for the door.

 

 

This point is driven home in my frequent conversations about food with others. My work at the university has often left me chatting about the differences between foods here in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world–how everything is just sooo sweet–and how diets inherently change even without the individual really attempting to when taking up residence here.

 

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In sharing this recipe, I’ll make a point in saying first that I question the title and definitely the authenticity as I’ve never been to Morocco and have only eaten at one semi-Moroccan restaurant. And yet I love the flavors of “Moroccan” foods, particularly the tagines with sweet, savory, and spicy notes. So I’ll take liberty and call this my own version of a Moroccan tagine.

Second, I can see some camps loving this and others, again, running for the door because whoa, there are tooo many vegetables and don’t get me started on Rebecca’s fondness for spices.

 

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But basically I call this the type of food that I like to eat to fuel my running life. Or more adequately, it is the food I tend to crave before a big run or race. So when William and others were packing sandwiches for our relay race a few weeks back, I found myself making and then eating Moroccan sweet potato + beet tagine with quinoa to fuel my runs and turning to it again a few more times throughout the ensuing weeks.

It is also a recipe I know I will adapt and make further into the fall season and the months (and miles) to come.

 

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Moroccan Sweet Potato + Beet Tagine, serves 6-8
Inspired by Vegetarian Everyday

Though I tend to use a heavy hand with the harissa, I haven’t yet purchased or made one that has been nearly as spicy as the kind I’ve had in a restaurant–and its flavor tends to get muted by all the sweet notes of the apricots and currants. Use more or less, or even leave out, as you see fit.

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 inches fresh raw ginger, finely grated
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
1  1/2 teaspoons cumin
sea salt, to taste
2 tablespoons harissa
4-5 large tomatoes, diced
zest and juice of one lemon
3-4 beets, sliced into 2 inch pieces
1 medium eggplant, sliced into large pieces
1 medium zucchini, sliced into 2-inch pieces
2 medium sweet potatoes, sliced into 2-inch pieces
10 dried apricots, each sliced into about six pieces
2 cups cooked garbanzo beans
1/4 cup currants
thinly sliced fresh mint, to serve
cooked millet, quinoa, brown rice or other, to serve

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onion for a few minutes until it becomes soft and translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and the spices and allow to cook for about 30 seconds more.
  2. Stir in the harissa, diced tomatoes, lemon zest and juice. Bring the sauce to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer.
  3. Add the beets, eggplant, zucchini, sweet potatoes, and apricots. Stir well so everything is nice and mixed, then cover and simmer for about an hour. Keep it covered as much as possible, but stir a couple times throughout the hour.
  4. Once the vegetables are tender all the way through, add in the cooked beans and currants, cook for about 5 minutes more to heat through, and then season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.
  5. Serve over cooked millet or other grain with a garnish of sliced mint on top.

Sprouting Broccoli, Za’atar, Tempeh, + Harissa Yogurt

Sprouting Broccoli, Za’atar, Tempeh, + Harissa Yogurt

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Recently, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, and the question came up, What are you totally obsessed with right now? I love that question, and in lieu of sharing links and things, here are a couple of life updates/current obsessions:

 

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  • The microbiome and its potential role in virtually all aspects of health and disease. I listened in to most of the Microbiome Medicine Summit last month, and all the new information only cemented this interest.
  • Herbal remedies for stress, sleep, and anxiety: I’ve been taking an introductory class on Herbal Medicine this term and at the beginning of January, we picked one herb to study in depth. I’ve been studying American Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) and I picked it for its nervine (nerve-supporting), anti-anxiety and anti-spasmodic properties. It’s been fascinating to learn about not only skullcap, but the whole host of other herbs that support sleep, stress, and anxiety, particularly because this is an area I’ve been struggling with. I’ve been carting around a review article titled Nutrients and Botanicals for Treatment of Stress: Adrenal Fatigue, Neurotransmitter Imbalance, Anxiety, and Restless Sleep and instead of reading feel good books, I’ve been re-reading it in my free time (see, obsession!). Also, I’ve been taking a series of herbal formulas which include valerian, lemon balm, chamomile, and passionflower, among others. Like skullcap, these are all sleep and stress-supporting herbs. I’ve been seeing positive results.
  • Positive self-talk and self-care: I’m almost done with my first term in nutrition grad school! It’s been an interesting few weeks, as I began with A LOT of class work, and then gradually dropped off the load and finished classes throughout the term. I have one week left of one class and then a couple weeks break. I’m already excited for next term and in particular, a foundation health and wellness class that focuses on self-care and behavior change. I consider myself somewhat good at self-care, but I’ve been obsessed lately with positive self-talk. As I work on it, I’ve noticed the negative self-talk is gradually improving. I’ve also noticed that I’m usually self-deprecating when I receive compliments, and though I’ve always thought it was just part of being humble, I’ve realized I do not have to make an excuse every time I receive a compliment. I can simply say, thank you, and leave it at that. There are huge things to be gained from building oneself (and others!) up, instead of tearing down.
  • Broccoli. I have eaten so much broccoli these last couple months in the form of broccoli raab, purple sprouting broccoli, romanesco, and just plain, straight-up broccoli. Every time I think I’m ready for a broccoli-break, it ends up in the fridge and I gobble it up. William likes broccoli too, (he’s the one that started this whole broccoli bandwagon), but tax season has him eating away from home so much that I’ve eaten the major share of our broccoli purchases. I’ve also been really into broccoli with tempeh. For forever, I avoided soy products, but something about the fermenty flavor and texture is just so delicious right now. I’ve been adding it in to meals every other week or so, and alongside roasted broccoli and harissa, it’s simply delicious. Also: if the amount of broccoli I’ve eaten parallels how many times I’ve written broccoli in this paragraph, it may be time for a mini-break!

 

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Sprouting Broccoli, Za’atar, Tempeh + Harissa Yogurt, serves 2

This is the kind of comforting bowl-food that I enjoy eating, always. Harissa, a north African hot sauce, is spicy and contributes a lot of the flavor. Add as much or as little as you prefer but keep in mind the yogurt balances the heat, as do the other ingredients. This is the sort of recipe that can easily be switched up depending. William is not so big a fan of tempeh, and I can imagine this would be just as good with any number of other protein types. Likewise, the harissa would be equally good mixed into a little thinned cashew cream for a different sort of sauce, sans yogurt. 

1-2 bunches sprouting broccoli, sliced into 2-inch pieces

coconut oil

6 oz. tempeh, cubed

1 Tbs. za’atar or more as needed

½ cup coconut yogurt

1-3 Tbs. harissa, to taste (I used Ottolenghi’s recipe, but you can also purchase)

steamed millet, to serve

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and toss together broccoli pieces, tempeh, za’atar and a little coconut oil. Roast for 20-25 minutes, stirring once or twice throughout.
  • While the broccoli is roasting, stir together the yogurt and harissa. Start with a small amount of harissa and adjust according to taste.
  • Once the broccoli is done, serve with steamed millet or another grain, and top with harissa yogurt.

 

Reference:

Head, K.A. and Kelly, G.S. (2009). Nutrients and Botanicals for Treatment of Stress: Adrenal Fatigue, Neurotransmitter Imbalance, Anxiety, and Restless Sleep. Alternative Medicine Review, 14 (2), 114-133.