Cooking Channel Star Shares Delicious Veggie Recipes
Posted On Dec 10, 2020
The Cooking Channel’s Nikki Dinki offers advice on making easy, healthy meals and finding true vegetable love.
Who she is: It’s hard to believe Nikki Dinki, co-host of the Cooking Channel’s Junk Food Flip with Bobby Deen, was a veggie hater when you see her wondrous ways with produce. Look for her book, Meat on the Side: Delicious Vegetable-Focused Recipes for Every Day this June.
What she does: On both the show and her blog, NikkiDinkiCooking.com, she turns high-cal splurges into healthy meals. “I cook primarily ‘meat on the side,’ focusing on vegetables as the center.”
What drives her: “As a child, I hated vegetables and existed on bread and cheese,” It wasn’t until Dinki was in her early twenties that her diet proved problematic.“I had digestive problems and low energy levels. I wasn’t getting the protein and other nutrients that I needed.”
What’s her secret: If she tried a new food five times, Dinki found she no longer hated it. After eating a new veggie 25 times, she craved it. “Eating vegetable-based dishes instead of processed foods made me feel stronger and healthier.”
Her Meal Favorites:
“I start each day with a smoothie. I’ll take whatever veggies I have and combine them with pumpkin seeds, goji berries, and healthy Greek yogurt.”
“One of my favorite go-to lunches is a healthy vegetarian version of a hot dog marinated with stock, soy sauce, vinegar, liquid smoke, chili powder, paprika, and ginger. It’s simple, healthy, and delicious.
“I love having friends and family over for dinner and one of my favorite dishes to make is my carbonara with Brussels sprouts, pears, and chard. I love taking classic dishes and increasing the nutritional value while enhancing flavor; I’ve also learned how to cut calories by substituting ingredients, such as Greek yogurt for sour cream or mayo.”
“I like to make homemade cheesy kale chips or parmesan zucchini chips that I can take with me and snack on during the day. If I’m craving something sweet, I make my gluten-free chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies. I also enjoy tea or a warm glass of apple cider.
Kale Egg Cups*
1 medium yellow onion
1 red bell pepper
4 fully cooked breakfast sausage patties
8 large kale leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup shredded mozzarella
8 large eggs
8 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease an 8-cup muffin pan and set aside. Place a medium saucepan of water over high heat and bring to a boil.
2. Chop the onion and bell pepper and cut the sausage patties into ¼-inch pieces.
3. One at a time, hold each kale leaf by its stem and dip it into the boiling water until it turns bright green, about 5 seconds, then lay it on some paper towels or a clean kitchen towel to drain.
4. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion, bell pepper, and salt and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the sausage and sauté just until it turns brown, 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove the skillet from the heat.
5. Pat each kale leaf dry with a paper towel. Cut away its stem and then cut the leaf cross-wise into 3 pieces. Line the bottom and sides of a prepared muffin cup with the 3 pieces, overlapping and making sure to cover the sides, all the way to the top. Repeat for each cup.
6. Put 1 tablespoon of the mozzarella in each cup; top that with a spoonful of the vegetable and sausage mixture, making sure there is still room in the cup for an egg. Crack an egg into each cup and then sprinkle one teaspoon of the Parmesan over the egg. When all 8 cups are filled, place the muffin pan in the oven and bake until the eggs are set, 15 to 17 minutes.
7. Transfer the muffin pan to a wire rack and let the egg cups cool for 2 to 3 minutes. Run a table knife around the inside edge of each cup to release anything that might be sticking. Gently lift out the kale egg cups and place 2 on each serving plate. Enjoy them hot!