No cheese? Who cares!

A guest post brought to you by my beautiful, creative, and talented cousin Ali.
I am in my early 30s and about a year or so ago I started to develop really bad adult acne. I was never a porcelain-skinned girl to begin with; I always had an annoying “zit” here or there that needed to be zapped and dealt with. But this! This was different. Deep, painful and embarrassing, I suddenly found myself with 2 kids and a face that resembled a 14 year old. My cheeks were swollen, red and ugly, my bathroom was full of lotions and potions from the drugstore and my excessively expensive dermatologist, and (even though I have a loving hubby who doesn’t care what my skin is doing) my self esteem was slowly sinking. I’d had enough.  ​
​Something had to change.
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And then the question…my mom was at her Esthetician and after describing my inflamed cheeks, jaw, chin and neck, asked her opinion​​ on what I should do. Without blinking she asked my mom,”Does she eat cheese?”​ “Yes,” my mom replied. “Tell her to STOP. She’s allergic”. And it all made sense. All the women, and lots of the men, in my family fall somewhere on the spectrum of lactose intolerance…myself included. If it upset my insides why wouldn’t it upset my outsides. The skin is the largest organ in the body after all. So there it was – an answer – but I LOVE CHEESE! I mean I! LOVE! CHEESE!!! Love. Love Love.
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But I did it, I gave it a go, and to my astonishment, gone went my acne. Not gone gone. Not yet. But over the 4 weeks or so that I have drastically decreased my lovely, delicious gift from the cows I can see improvement. I have to confess it is indeed working. So, sadly, I say a sad goodbye to my love affair with cheese (oh feta how I miss thee) and anything cheesy and set off for a future of clearer skin! Since I am not a big meat-eater and need protein from somewhere (as do my kids and carnivore hubby) I have started hunting for filling, healthy, dairy-free dinners.
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This is the bowl I made tonight. A bowl full of flavor and nutrients. I kept the ingredients simple as to not meld too many flavors. I wanted to taste the whole foods…and they were delicious. I even texted the hubby, after I sampled the sauce with a bit of noddle, to inquire when he would be home, and then swallowed the accumulating drool in my mouth as we awaited his arrival for the next 45 min. The flavor of the sauce is bold and slightly salty with a pop of garlic (which is raw. Read: good for you!) but not overpowering while allowing the flavors of the roasted veggies to come through. My 2-year-old son spent the meal requesting “more sauce please” and had seconds of everything. All the parts are made separately and can be stored in the fridge for a few days. This would be an excellent prepare-the-night-before dish or something to dig into for a few days of lunches. It can be served cold or warm and you can add whatever veggies you prefer. The original recipe was only for cauliflower, which I love for its earthy flavor, but I have an obsession with roasting brussels sprouts, so those had to go in. You can also add chopped red peppers, raw sugar snap peas, carrots, sunflower seeds, etc. The soba noodles can also be replaced with quinoa, rice, or any grain you desire.
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This was a delicious, easy dinner. I look forward to my leftovers. And I did not even miss the cheese.
Enjoy! -Ali
Soba Noodle Bowl With Miso Tahini and Roasted Veggies
8 oz buckwheat soba noodles
2 cups cooked brown or green lentils
1 medium head cauliflower, cut into medium-sized florets- bottoms trimmed and cut into quarters
1 tablespoon olive oil for roasting plus more for kale
1 bunch of kale
juice 1/4-1/2 lemon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Fresh black pepper
Sesame Seeds to garnish
For the dressing:
1/4 cup mellow white miso
1/4 cup tahini
1 cloves garlic
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup waterOptional: fresh herbs for garnish (dill, cilantro and parsley…) I used parsley. I also intended to add some uncooked  julienned carrots (for an added crunch and vitamins) but I forgot.Cook the lentils if you don’t already have prepared ones (1 cup dry is about 2 cups cooked.)

Cook soba noodles according to the package. Rinse with cold water to avoid sticking (rinse the pot with cold water too to cool) and return noodles to the pot.

Toss the cauliflower and brussels sprouts the with the olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl and lay on a large rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for about 20 minutes, stirring once half-way through, until they are cooked and nicely toasted.

Place chopped kale in a bowl and add enough olive oil to lightly coat (about 1 tsp), the lemon juice and a sprinkle of sea salt.  Mix or massage into the kale.

In the meantime, place all dressing ingredients in a small blender. An immersion blender worked great. Start with 1/2 cup water, and then add another 1/4 to thin, if you like.

Assemble the bowl:
Divide soba noodles into big bowls. Top with lentils, roasted veggies, kale and plenty of sauce. Garnish with herbs and sesame seeds and serve! Enjoy.

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