Stepping Out

On the springtime table

Inspire your innner chef as you spring into the season

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As the weather perks up and we’re enjoying some spring in our step, it’s a great time to recharge and refocus on our eating and dining routines.
The start of spring is the perfect time for new beginnings, including a fresh start on eating healthy. The trick is introducing smart nutrition habits so tasty and easy that your eating plan becomes more a way of life than a short-lived
commitment.
Although grilling season is not in full swing, we can still find seasonal inspiration as we move away from winter stews and soups into lighter fare using the latest crop of veggies.
One appealing way to stay on track with healthy, tasty eating is by adding watermelon to your diet, giving your body a low-calorie option to curb an appetite for unhealthy snacks. Watermelon can satisfy a craving for something sweet — it only contains 80 calories per two cup serving. Watermelon contains fiber and water, and packs a wealth of health benefits, including strong levels of vitamins A, C and B6.
Perk up your cuisine by getting everyone into the kitchen and see if you’ve got what it takes to be a “Top Chef.” Find inspiration with these recipes.

Watermelon Protein Bites
Recipe courtesy of Anya Shinall of Anya’s Eats

1 cup pitted dates, soaked in purified water
1 1/2 cups sprouted watermelon seeds, divided, plus additional for garnish
1 tablespoon coconut butter
1 cup fresh watermelon, chopped
1/8-1/4 cup roughly chopped beets (optional)

Chop dates in half.
Place dates in bowl of purified water and soak 1-2 hours.
Remove dates from water bowl and place them into food processor.
Pulse a few times then add 1 cup water-melon seeds, coconut butter and watermelon.
Add chopped beets, if using.
Blend until well combined, scraping sides of food processor as you go.
Add remaining watermelon seeds and pulse, leaving some seeds chunky.
For smoother texture, continue to blend.
Remove mixture from food processor, place in small bowl and cover, allowing to cool in refrigerator 30 minutes.
Remove mixture from fridge. With fingertips slightly wet, roll mixture into balls and place on a plate.
Once done rolling, add watermelon seeds to top.
Place watermelon bites in freezer 1-2 hours, or until frozen.

Roasted Leg of Lamb
1 leg of lamb (4 pounds)
8 small sprigs fresh rosemary
12 cloves  garlic, smashed, divided
11/4 pound red potatoes (about 4), peeled, cut in half
8 carrots, peeled, sliced
8 plum tomatoes, cut lengthwise in half
2 zucchini, sliced
1 onion, cut into 4 wedges
¾ cup Greek vinaigrette dressing
¼ cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400° F.
Pierce lamb in several places with sharp knife. Stuff rosemary and 8 garlic cloves into slits in lamb; place in large roasting pan.
Combine vegetables and remaining garlic in large bowl. Whisk dressing, mustard and oil until blended. Pour half the dressing mixture over vegetables; toss to evenly coat. Brush remaining dressing mixture onto lamb; sprinkle with pepper.
Remove potatoes from vegetable mixture; place, cut sides down, around lamb in roasting pan. Spread remaining vegetables onto rimmed baking sheet sprayed cooking spray.
Bake lamb and potatoes 50 minutes, reducing oven temperature to 350° F after 30 minutes Add pan of vegetables to oven. Bake 40 minutes or until lamb is done (160° F) and vegetables are tender.
For best results, let the meat and vegetables stand, covered, 15 minutes before serving.

Lamb Shanks Braised with Tomatoes and Coriander
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 punds lamb shanks
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups sliced onions
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped ginger
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon whole cumin seed
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
Pinch cayenne
2 cups canned tomatoes, with juices
3 cups homemade or low-salt canned chicken broth; more as needed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon whole cumin seed, toasted in a dry skillet until fragrant

Heat the oven to 350°F. In a Dutch oven or high-sided skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper. Working in batches, brown the lamb on all sides; transfer to a plate. Pour off all but a few tablespoons of fat from the pan.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are tender and just beginning to brown. Stir in the garlic, ginger, fennel, coriander, the whole cumin seed, the mustard seed, the cardamom and the cayenne and cook one minute more.
Return the lamb shanks to the pot, and add the tomatoes and enough chicken broth to barely the shanks. Bring to a gentle simmer on the stovetop then transfer the pot, uncovered, to the oven.
Braise in the oven, basting and turning the meat occasionally. Adjust the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer (barely bubbling). The lamb is done when it’s tender enough to cut with a fork and easily comes away from the bone, about 2-1/2 hours.
Transfer the lamb to a plate, let the liquid cool, and spoon off any fat. (For a smooth, refined sauce, strain the liquid and return to the pot.) Bring the sauce to a simmer and reduce until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Return the lamb to the pot.
When ready to serve, warm the meat in the sauce, basting frequently. Stir in the cilantro and toaste cumin just before serving.
Make Ahead Tips: The lamb is even better made a day or more ahead. Prepare the recipe through the step of reducing the sauce, then return the lamb to its sauce and refrigerate, covered, for up to five days or freeze for up to three months. To serve, reheat the lamb shanks in their sauce, and stir in the cilantro and toasted cumin.

Roast Chicken with Spring Vegetables
3 1/2 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken quarters
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper 
1 lemon, halved
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound fingerling or other small potatoes
2 bunches radishes
1 bunch scallions
1 bunch baby carrots
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

Preheat the oven to 500°F Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper, then place skin-side up on a rimmed baking sheet. Squeeze 1/2 lemon over the chicken and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Roast 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut the potatoes and radishes in half and cut the scallions into thirds. Toss the potatoes, radishes, carrots and the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a bowl; season with salt and pepper.
Remove the chicken from the oven and scatter the vegetables around it. Continue to roast until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is golden and cooked through, about 20 more minutes. Squeeze the remaining 1/2 lemon over the chicken and vegetables. Top with the dill and season with salt.