Does eating right have to mean eating bland?

Not according to Food Network star Dave Lieberman, author of "10 Things You Need to Eat," who offers these recipes as proof!

Beet Mash Chocolate Cupcakes/Cake With Beet Frosting

Ingredients:

One 14.5 oz. can sliced beets, drained
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
½ cup vegetable oil
2 ½ cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
½ cup warm water
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup sweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

For the icing:
2 sticks unsalted butter
Approx. ½ a can of sliced beets, drained
1 pound confectioners sugar

Method:

For cake: Preheat the oven to 325ºF.
For cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

1) In a small bowl, mash the drained can of beets finely with a potato masher and set aside.
2) In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the melted butter, granulated sugar, oil, eggs, and water. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet. Fold in the mashed beets and mix well.
3) For cake: Pour the batter into a greased 10-inch Bundt pan. Bake about 70 minutes, until set but moist. Let cool, and turn out onto a large serving plate.
For cupcakes: Pour the batter in greased cupcake tins. Bake about 15-20 minutes, until set but moist. (Or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean)
4) Make the icing: Mash the ½ can of beets finely with a potato masher. Melt 1 stick of butter in a saucepan and add mashed beets. Simmer on very low heat for 5 minutes.
5) Meanwhile, cream the second stick of butter with a mixer in a bowl. Mix in the melted butter and beet mixture until fully incorporated. Gradually beat in the confectioners sugar. Ice the cake with a thick layer of icing. Each cake serves 12-15.

• Linguine and Quinoa Meatballs with Tangy Tomato Sauce
Serves 6

Traditional meatballs depend on bread to give them a light body, but I thought some cooked quinoa could also fit the bill and add an extra protein punch while we’re at it. Turns out, the quinoa works like a charm and the texture, while different from an Italian grandmother’s, is quite wonderful in its own right.

Ingredients:

For the sauce:
¼ cup olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 celery stalks, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
1 large carrot, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
One 28-ounce can tomatoes, chopped with juices
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the meatballs:
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 pound lean ground beef
1 ½ cups cooked quinoa
½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
3 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, very finely chopped
½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound linguine
1 large handful fresh basil leaves

Method:

1) To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrot, and red pepper flakes and cook until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes, garlic, and vinegar and simmer for 20 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside to keep warm.
2) To make the meatballs, preheat the oven to 425º F. Heat the canola oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, partially covered, until very soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
3) In a large mixing bowl, combine the beef, quinoa, Parmesan, egg, parsley, salt, pepper, and cooled onions. Stir until a smooth, homogenous mixture has formed.
4) Roll the meat mixture into 2-inch balls and set them on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet in neat rows. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until nicely browned but still soft to the touch.
5) In a large pot of boiling water, cook the linguine al dente. Serve the pasta with some meatballs and the sauce and top with a sprinkling of torn basil leaves.

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