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When I was younger, I claimed I was a vegetarian for two whole days. Having always been an animal lover, once I realized that the chicken on my plate was the same as the awkward bird I had seen on farms, I swore off all meat. Or so I thought. My parents made steak two days after this life-changing claim of mine, and I happily scarfed it down. Unbeknownst to my little 4-year-old self, meat is meat, whether or not it is called the same term as its living counterpart. In my young, innocent mind, chicken = chicken, steak < > cow.
Oh, to be young again.
After learning more about food as an energy source, I recently adopted a plant-based lifestyle once again. *high five, 4-year-old me* I started to realize that I never really craved crusty steaks, juicy burgers, or that tough-as-nails pork chop malarky. What I did crave, however, was vegetables. And fruit. And beans. And nuts. After incorporating more of these items into my diet, I began to realize just how delicious Mother Nature’s bounty can actually be. I’m not preaching that this type of diet is for everyone, it’s just what works for me.
This Green Machine Power Plate is packed with every good and green thing. While it’s vegan and gluten free, it is seriously high in protein (a whopping 20 grams of protein can be found in just one serving of this stuff!). It’s dishes like this one that makes me ready to combat these freezing temperatures because it is overflowing with the best winter vegetables for extra vitamin k, iron, and protein. Oh, and it’s ready to be devoured in less than one hour. Heaven on a plate; let’s see how it’s done.
Lentils are so versatile, and they are one of the best protein sources for vegetarians and vegans alike. While lentils are not considered a “complete protein” (they lack two of the 20 essential amino acids), they come pretty darn close while tasting pretty darn tasty. I love them cold in a lentil salad (think pasta salad sans pasta), or hot in a dish like this.
Before I talk about this next veggie, let me just say that if you have a strong aversion to them, you haven’t had them prepared in the correct manner. Brussels sprouts are my all-time favorite vegetables, and I seriously question this hostile movement against these tiny green flavor bombs. They’re crunchy, they caramelize beautifully, and they have a wonderful sweet flavor…if they’re roasted properly. I can’t get enough of these cruciferous vegetables, and if you follow my directions, I guarantee you’ll be in the same boat. Jump on in – there’s plenty of room.
I fell for broccolini during my semester in Italy. I prefer broccolini over its larger-stemmed cousin due its slightly sweeter taste. If you can’t find broccolini, broccoli is fine. If you’re going that route, cut the florets to about the same size as the brussels.
Oh, kale, how I love thee. I even received a KALE sweater from my brother for my birthday last year. #hipster. Kale is so versatile, but my favorite preparation for this protein-rich leafy green is roasting it until slightly crisp. For this reason, we add it to this meal because it gives us a different texture. And because it’s stupid delicious.
We’re flavoring our veggies with a simple mix of salt, pepper, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Salt and pepper should be in almost every layer of every dish. You need them to make your ingredients taste more like themselves. Be liberal with these two. They won’t let you down. We’re doing something a little different with our garlic: we’re peeling it and leaving it whole, allowing it to perfume and permeate throughout our brussels and broccolini. At the end of the roasting time, we remove the cloves. And please, for the love of all things holy, do not throw away this garlic. I just gave you the gift of roasted garlic cloves. Savor every last morsel. Add crushed red pepper flakes to the party if you’re a fan of the heat. Olive oil is our power ingredient here. It coats our veggies and makes them irresistibly tender in the oven. Olive oil is a great source of healthy fats, so we’re nourishing our bodies by flavoring our veggies. Win-win. Last, we create a balsamic vinegar reduction to drizzle over our plate. It’s sticky, it’s thick, it’s sweet…it’s perfection in brown liquid form.
Last, we serve this entire mixture in a hollowed-out zucchini half. You’re essentially making a boat out of a vegetable…talk about an easy way to get kids to eat their veggies!
As always, give me a holler if you try this recipe – I can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. I would ADORE hearing from you, so be sure to use #fooduzzi when your culinary side rears its beautiful head. A special shoutout goes to my wonderful professor, Jessica McCort, at The Owl’s Skull. She shared Fooduzzi on all of her social media platforms, and she even gave my Lemon Blueberry Chia Parfait a try! Thanks, Dr. McCort!
Green Machine Power Plate
|Prep:||Cook:||Yield: 2 servings||Total:|
This meal is incredibly nutrient dense - it's full of vitamins, iron, antioxidants, and nearly 20 grams of protein! This meal is vegan, gluten free, and packed with healthy winter veggies!
- 1/2 cup French green lentils, rinsed & picked
- 1/2 lb. brussels sprouts, cleaned & quartered
- 6 stalks broccolini, trimmed of leaves and woody stalk
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled & left whole
- 3 stalks kale, leaves removed from stalk
- 2 Tbsp.+ extra virgin olive oil, divided
- Salt & pepper
- Red pepper flakes (to taste)
- 1 zucchini, sliced lengthwise (optional)
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar or 2 Tbsp. balsamic glaze
- Cook your lentils: Once drained well, pour rinsed lentils into a medium saucepan with 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for 20-30 minutes, or until lentils are fully cooked. Keep an eye on the water amount in the pan - you will probably need to add more throughout the cooking process. Once tender, drain lentils of excess water and set aside.
- Roast your veggies: While the lentils are cooking, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place quartered brussels sprouts and cleaned broccolini stalks on a roasting pan lined with aluminum foil. Distribute the peeled whole garlic cloves evenly over the mixture. Toss with 1 Tbsp. olive oil, and season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
- Place kale leaves on a separate roasting pan lined with aluminum foil. Toss with 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil, and season with salt.
- Place brussels/broccolini roasting pan on the top rack of your oven, and place the kale below. Roast the kale for 10 minutes, and the brussels/broccolini for 20 minutes, until desired doneness. Remove roasted garlic cloves and save for future use or spread on crackers as a snack. Set roasted veggies aside.
- Grill your zucchini: While the lentils and veggies are cooking, heat a grill pan over high heat. Hollow your zucchini halfs to create zucchini boats. Do not hollow all the way through. Brush cut side with remaining olive oil, season with salt & pepper, and grill the zucchini. Allow zucchini to gain some color, then flip. Cook until slightly brown on both sides - it should still keep its shape.
- Make your balsamic glaze: Pour balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until the glaze slightly thickens. Be sure not to burn.
- Assemble your bowl: Place grilled zucchini boat on a plate, followed by the lentils, brussels, and broccolini. Top with roasted kale. Drizzle everything with balsamic glaze and olive oil, and season with additional salt and pepper if desired.
Stay classy, internet friends!
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