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The Cooking Channel’s Nikki Dinki offers advice on making easy, healthy meals and finding true vegetable love. By Linda Childers

Who she is: It’s hard to believe Nikki Dinki, 33, 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 VegetableFocused 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

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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: BREAKFAST “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.” LUNCH “One of my favorite goto lunches is a healthy vegetarian version of a hot dog marinated with stock, soy sauce, vinegar, liquid smoke, chili powder, paprika,

Kale Egg Cups*

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium yellow onion

½ teaspoon kosher salt

DINNER “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.”

1 red bell pepper

½ cup shredded mozzarella

4 fully cooked breakfast

8 large eggs

SNACKS “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.

sausage patties

8 teaspoons grated

8 large kale leaves

Parmesan cheese


Line the bottom and sides of

1. Preheat the oven to 375

a prepared muffin cup with

degrees F. Grease an 8-cup

the 3 pieces, overlapping

muffin pan and set aside.

and making sure to cover

Place a medium saucepan of

the sides, all the way to the

water over high heat and

top. Repeat for each cup.

bring to a boil.

6. Put 1 tablespoon of the

2. Chop the onion and bell

mozzarella in each cup; top

pepper and cut the sausage

that with a spoonful of the

patties into ¼-inch pieces.

vegetable and sausage

3. One at a time, hold each

mixture, making sure there

kale leaf by its stem and dip

is still room in the cup for an

it into the boiling water until

egg. Crack an egg into each

it turns bright green, about 5

cup and then sprinkle one

seconds, then lay it on some

teaspoon of the Parmesan

paper towels or a clean

over the egg. When all 8

kitchen towel to drain.

cups are filled, place the

4. Heat the oil in a medium

muffin pan in the oven and

skillet over medium heat.

bake until the eggs are set,

Stir in the onion, bell pepper,

15 to 17 minutes.

and salt and sauté until

7. Transfer the muffin pan to

tender, about 5 minutes. Stir

a wire rack and let the egg

in the sausage and sauté

cups cool for 2 to 3 minutes.

just until it turns brown, 2 to

Run a table knife around the

3 minutes more. Remove the

inside edge of each cup to

skillet from the heat.

release anything that might

5. Pat each kale leaf dry with

be sticking. Gently lift out

a paper towel. Cut away its

the kale egg cups and place

stem and then cut the leaf

2 on each serving plate.

cross-wise into 3 pieces.

Enjoy them hot!

*Adapted from Meat on the Side: Delicious, Vegetable-Focused Recipes for Every Day by Nikki Dinki.



and ginger. It’s simple, healthy, and delicious.

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