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Coconut Whipped Cream

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Simple to make and with a deliciously rich flavor -- once you taste coconut whip you'll never go back. Coconut whip cream has slightly fewer calories than full fat cream, but with the added anti-inflammatory benefits of coconut. Not too mention this dairy-free swap is much better for digestion and adds a unique flavor twist to an otherwise expected dish.

Tips for success:

- I have had the best luck with the brand Native Forest. WholeFood brand is ok too (Image Below) 

- While overnight chilling brings the best results, if you are short on time you could use the freezer for 30 minutes 

- Experiment with added flavors! I love almond or cardamom extract or added orange zest 

INGREDIENTS 

2 cans of FULL FAT coconut milk, chilled overnight 

2 Tbs of honey or maple syrup

1 Tsp of vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

Begin by opening your chilled coconut milk cans and scooping out just the solid coconut cream layer that has solidified at the top of the can into a mixing bowl. Pour the leftover liquid into a container and save for another use (I add it to smoothies!)

Now add the maple syrup or honey, and the vanilla into your mixing bowl. Turn on your mixer and beat on high for ten minutes (until the whipped cream is fluffy and you can make peaks.)

**I have done this by hand with a whisk -- its possible, but be prepared to call for back up. It takes much longer than normal whipped cream. 

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Smoked Paprika Mashed Yams

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Smoked Paprika Mashed Yams

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This twist on a Thanksgiving classic is infused with a warming flavor that will keep all of your holiday guests coming back for more.  And vegetarians rejoice! The smokiness of the paprika mimics that roasted taste that is often lacking in a veggies-only meal.  Check out your new favorite holiday recipe ...

Ingredients: 

- 5 yams

- 5 cloves of garlic, diced

- 1 Tbsp. olive oil

- 2 Tbsp. coconut oil

- 1/2 c. coconut milk

- 2 tsp. smoked paprika

- Salt and pepper to taste

- Optional: toasted pumpkin seeds and hemp hearts to garnish

Recipe: 

1) Preheat oven to 375 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (this will make clean-up much easier since yams release a sweet sticky liquid while baking).

2) Using a fork, pierce the yams all over then place on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in oven and roast until soft (about 1 hour).

3) Once yams are cooked through, remove from oven and peel the skins off.  If fully cooked, this should be very easy and the skins will just slide off.

4) Melt the coconut oil in a pan over medium heat and, once hot, add the diced garlic and fry until aromatic and just starting to crispen.

5) Place peeled yams in large mixing bowl and mash.  Add the garlic, coconut oil, smoked paprika and continue to mix.  Next, add coconut milk and mix until you reach your desired consistency.

6) Season with salt and pepper to taste - add more paprika for added smokiness or more coconut milk for increased creaminess - then top with roasted pumpkin seeds and hemp hearts and serve!

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Shitake Mushroom Immune Boosting Soup

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Shitake Mushroom Immune Boosting Soup

Being sick is the worst! So I'm sharing a nutritious recipe to help you stave off the next cold. When you are fighting the latest seasonal bug, there is much you can do to boost your immune system using just the ingredients you have in your cupboard. This soup combines many of my favorite immune boosters like shiitake mushrooms, bone broth and ginger. Each of these foods have medicinal properties that promote strong immune response to viruses, lower inflammation in the respiratory system, and help you get all your needed vitamins and minerals through real food.

While you certainly can get away with using store-bought broth, I'd encourage you to adopt the habit of making homemade broth with your vegetable and/or bone scraps. Here is the full recipe for how to make broth from scratch.

Can a mushroom day keep the doctor away? Maybe! Shitake mushrooms are well researched for their immunosuportive and antiviral agents. During flu season, eat a variety of asian mushrooms every week. (Try shiitake, maitake, reishi and cordyceps.)

Ingredients 2 tbsp coconut oil (or grapeseed/ olive) 1 jalapeno, seeds removed, green flesh minced 1-2 tbsp ginger, peeled and minced 2 tbsp garlic, minced 2 green onions chopped (green and white sections) 1 lb shiitake mushrooms, wiped of dirt and chopped into slices. 2 1/2 quarts homemade stock (bone or a vegetarian mineral broth) 2 tbsp tamari (a gluten free soy sauce) 2 lemons, juiced 2 lemons, zested 1 block soft organic tofu (preferably Hodu brand) 2 cups carrots, shredded Fresh ground black pepper

Directions In a stockpot over medium heat, melt your oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Next add your minced jalapeño, ginger, garlic and the white part of your green onions and sauté until soft and smelling delicious. Then add shiitake mushrooms and sauté another 2 minutes, until they are softened.

While this is happening zest and then juice your lemons and set aside.

Now add your add your stock and tamari to the cooking vegetables, bring to a simmer and cook for about 5-10 minutes while the soup reduces.

Add lemon juice, tofu and carrots and cook gently for 2-5 more minutes to heat tofu. Season with black pepper.

Ladle this nourishing soup into your favorite bowl, garnish with green scallion and lemon zest, and eat wearing cozy socks. Feel better!

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They call me Miss Bi-Bim-Bastic

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They call me Miss Bi-Bim-Bastic

Korean food is my is my weakness: spicy meats, fermented ban chan, and that smokey hair smell that does not wash out for weeks.  I love it all, but could do with a little less greasy. So as you can imagine, I do a fair amount of research/ reading/ kitchen tinkering on Korean home cooking. Vegetarian Bim Bim Bop is a fantastic and easy recipe to spice up your weeknight's. Use the quinoa/ greens as a base and get creative with your favorite toppings.  I have shared with you a few of my favorite toppings, but any veggie sautéed with a little fresh ginger and garlic will go beautifully.

Weeknight Bi Bim Bop

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

2 cups cooked quinoa

6 cups mixed greens, baby spinach or arugula.

6-12 Shitake mushrooms

1 Japanese eggplant

3-5 radishes radishes

Favorite greens

6 cherry tomatoes

1/2 avocado

Kimchee (store bought or homemade no MSG.)

2 eggs

1/2 cup rice vinegar or distilled white vinegar

Fresh garlic

Fresh ginger

1 Tbs sesame oil

2 Tbs olive oil

1 Tbs. Soy sauce, tamari or Braggs Amino Acids

Cook your quinoa using the 2:1 ratio: 2 cups water for every one cup quinoa. It cooks just like rice in about 15 minutes. If you'd like to soak your grains before hand, adjust your ratio to 1:1.

While your quinoa cooks, use the time to prepare each topping.  It is best done consecutively, using the same pan. This will allow you to tweak the flavor on each topping while, moving quickly through the process.

*Thinly slice the radishes and add them to  1/2 cup hot water, 1/2 cup rice vinegar for a quick pickle. Marinate them for 15 mins. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds when serving.

*Roast the Eggplant in an oven at 400.  Slice eggplant in half and then cut diagonal slices into the flesh of each half. Sprinkle with 1 tsp of sesame oil and salt and pepper. Roast for aprox 30 mins.

* Saute the shitake mushrooms with 1 tsp sesame oil,  1 tsp of freshly chopped ginger and 1 tsp of freshly chopped garlic. Remove and set aside.

* Add 1 Tbs sliced onions to the same pan and cook until soft. Then add your chopped greens, stir briefly, then add 2 Tbs water.   Cover with a lid and cook for 2 more mins. Remove, drizzle with 1 tsp of rice vinegar. and set aside. Remove any extra liquid left in pan.

* Now is your chance to add your favorite veggie.  Slice it and throw it in the pan with 1 tsp of soy sauce. Zucchini, carrots, bell peppers, sweet potato would all be great toppings.

When the quinoa is ready, you are set to assemble your Bi Bim Bop.  Using two bowls for serving, add 1 cups of quinoa and 1-3 cups of salad greens side by side in each bowl. Top the quinoa/ greens base with small piles of your many, prepared toppings.  Add prepared kimchee, and an option for Nori (seaweed) sheets. For an extra protein boost (6 grams in 1 egg) and Bi Bim Bop authenticity, fry or poach an egg (using no more than 1/2 tsp oil) and place it in the center of your masterpiece.

잘 먹겠습니다

(bon appétit)

The Skinny

Variety is the spice of life! The more variety you have in your daily vegetables, the more nutrients you're getting in your diet. Each vegetable offers a unique and important vitamin or mineral. For example: radishes contain high levels of folic acid and vitamin C, making them great for your skin and powerful cancer fighters; Shitake mushrooms are the king of the medicinal mushroom world. They contain all the B-vitamins and many trace minerals such as manganese, selenium and zinc. They are best known for their strong immune boosting properties and cardiovascular support. Eggplant, while sometimes controversial as a member of the nightshade family (best avoided for people with arthritis), has strong levels of the antioxidant nasunin which can protect the cells from oxidative damage. Etc.....

The bottom line is, eating a rainbow of veggies with bring you greater health.  Rather then relaying on multivitamins, first aim to meet your daily nutrient requirements from a full dose of colorful vegetables.

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Goji Berry Weekend Smoothie

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Goji Berry Weekend Smoothie

This smoothie is begging to be enjoyed in the sunshine! Treat yourself to some pampering over the weekend! INGREDIENTS 1 1/4 cups almond milk 1/4 cup goji berries 2 tbsp cacao powder or nibs 2 tbsp raw hemp seeds 1 tsp chia seeds (ground or whole) 1 heaping cup strawberries 1 date, or a few drops stevia for sweetness

DIRECTIONS

Blend all the ingredients in your blender or food processor. Enjoy~!

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Zucchini & Potato Gratin with Cashew Cream

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Zucchini & Potato Gratin with Cashew Cream

Zucchini & Potato Gratin with Cashew Cream

One of the challenges of turning a dish healthy is how to replace dairy. I'm always looking to replace saturated fats with something that still tastes rich and creamy. Behold cashew cream! This magical trick takes raw cashews and turns them into a cream that will enhance almost any dish, sweet or savory.

The key to making good cashew cream is to soak the cashews thoroughly beforehand; this will make for easy blending. It’s also essential to use raw cashews, as roasted ones won’t boast the same neutral flavor or blend up as well. Depending on how much water you add, it can be quite thick — like the texture of ricotta — or thin enough to resemble heavy cream. It demands very little effort — all you need is a food processor or a high-speed blender — and it’s incredibly versatile. Add a little maple syrup, and it becomes a sweet dessert cream. Add some miso or salt and a touch of lemon, and the cream (or crème, if you want to be fancy) turns savory. Mix in lemon juice, some sea salt, and a little Dijon mustard and you've got a vegan alfredo. Add some cocoa powder and vanilla, and you've made a vegan ganache. Your cream will last at least four days in the fridge, and can be frozen as well. Curious about what to do with cashew cream, other than simply eating it with a spoon? Here are a few of my favorite applications:

Zucchini & Potato Gratin with Cashew Cream

Serves six

INGREDIENTS 2 medium yellow squash, about 1/2 pound 4 small to medium red potatoes, about 1 pound 3 tablespoons olive oil 1/2 cup of cashew cream Salt and freshly ground black pepper 1/4 cup coconut milk 1 tablespoon thinly sliced basil, thyme leaves

1/2 Tbs of rosemary

Cashew Cream

1 cup raw cashews

½ cup water

Juice of 1 lemon

Splash of Apple Cider Vinegar

1/2 tsp sea salt

DIRECTIONS

To begin, soak your cashews in a bowl of water in the fridge overnight, then drain and rinse. To make your cashew cream, place all ingredients in a blender and blend at high-speed until smooth and creamy.  Your cashew cream can be stored in the fridge for up to four days.

To make your gratin, Preheat oven to 400°F.

Lightly grease a casserole dish with a drizzle of olive oil.

Next, use a mandoline (or a sharp knife) to slice the squash and potatoes into very, very thin slices, 1/8-inch or less.

Toss the sliced vegetables with the 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large bowl, add the chopped rosemary.

Now you are going to build your gratin by layering the squash, potatoes and cashew cream in your dish. Place 1/3 of the squash and potato slices in the bottom of the dish — no need to layer them, just spread evenly — then season with salt and pepper. Top that layer with half of your cashew cream. Repeat with another 1/3 of the vegetables, seasoning again with salt and pepper and topping with the other 1/2 of the cashew cream. Finish by layering on the final 1/3 of the vegetables and seasoning with salt and pepper. Pour the coconut milk over the entire dish.

Bake, covered, for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake 15 more minutes, until the top browns.

Scatter on the fresh basil or thyme before serving.

Serve with a big green salad!

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Beet-O De Gallo

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Beet-O De Gallo

For me, beets are nostalgic. They remind me of family dinners and of my father.  Even way out in Hawaii, he always managed to bring beets to our table, along with stories of Californian farming and summers spent on river bottoms.  Lately, in my house, beets have been finding their way into the most unexpected of dishes.  New favorite: using rich, tangy and colorful beets to liven up salsas.  Take this delectable Beet-O De Gallo: Beet-O De Gallo

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cup diced tomatoes (1-2 tomatoes)

1 cup of diced, roasted beets

1/4 cup diced red onion

1 tablespoon diced jalapeño

1 tablespoon minced garlic

Two small limes, juiced

3 tablespoons loosely chopped cilantro

Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

1) To roast beets, first wash, then place in a large piece of tinfoil. Drizzle them with olive oil, salt and pepper and loosely wrap the tinfoil around them. Beets should be roasted at 400 for 20-40 minutes (or until they can be easily pierced).

2) Once the beets are soft, remove them from the oven and foil and let them cool for 5-10 minutes.

3) While the beets are cooling, combine all other ingredients in a bowl to make a classic Pico de Gallo base.

4) When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel.  If fully cooked, this should be easy enough to do with just your hands, although a small paring knife can be used as well.

5) After removing the skin, dice the beets and mix them into your tomato salsa base.

6) Transfer all ingredients to your serving bowl and season with salt, pepper and fresh chili powder to taste.

*My favorite way to eat this salsa is on a veggie-heavy tostada!

 

The Skinny

Why eat beets? Because beets, (especially the greens), are packed full of vitamins C, A, calcium and iron.  They also have high levels of folic acid, magnesium and potassium and are excellent sources of fiber.  They have long been used in treating liver disorders, by stimulating detoxification as well as for lowering cholesterol.

Beets have also gained attention for their anti-cancer properties.  The bright red pigment that gives beets their color, AKA betacyanin, is a powerful antioxidant and cancer-fighting agent.  Betacyanin works to inhibit cancer-causing cell mutations, specifically in the stomach.  To top it all off, the excellent fiber found in beets helps to increase bowel function and heighten detoxification, helping to cleanse the body of its toxins. (Micheal Murray, 2005)

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Artichoke Benedict with Garlic Cashew Cream Hollandaise

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Artichoke Benedict with Garlic Cashew Cream Hollandaise

Artichokes are beautiful vegetables that should be eaten whenever possible. They are rich and flavorful in the springtime and will turn any meal into a special occasion. So why not  marry them to the coveted brunch menu and place them atop the much revered Benedict?Behold the Veggie Eggs Benedict. While not entirely vegan (due to the protein rich egg), this towering pile of exquisite vegetables is topped with a cashew cream and roasted garlic hollandaise sauce, 100% butter (and guilt) free. With such delicious and indulgent flavors this recipe begs the question: Why not have artichokes for breakfast everyday?

While this recipe has a seemingly long list of instructions, most are simply a detailed expression of basic cooking skills. Once you have mastered the art of the poached egg and have learned to clean an artichoke properly, you will be able to add this exceptional recipe to your cooking tool repertoire and easily impress the breakfast crowd at any given moment.

INGREDIENTS

2 artichokes, outer leaves removed

1 medium sweet potato, scrubbed

1 sweet yellow onion, chopped into rings

2-4 eggs

**Cashew Cream Hollandaise**

½ cup raw cashews, soaked overnight (or a minimum of 2 hours)

1 clove garlic, roasted

4 Tbs. lemon juice

1 Tbs. nutritional yeast

½ tsp. finely ground sea salt

⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper

⅛ tsp. turmeric powder

1/8 tsp of smoked paprika

1 tsp. of apple cider vinegar (plus more for poaching)

1 Tbs. water

5 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil (plus more for cooking)

DIRECTIONS

Begin by soaking your cashews. Cover in water and set in the refrigerator for at least two hours. The longer you soak, the creamier your sauce will be. Overnight is ideal.

Cook and clean your artichokes

In a stock pot filled ¼ with water, steam the artichoke for 50 mins or until you can easily pull the leaves from the stalk.

To clean your artichokes, you will first need to fill a large bowl with ice, water and 1 lemon cut in half, squeezed and added to the water with peel on. This will be your artichoke bath and will help keep their color.

First peel the outer layer of the stalk with a vegetable peeler (many people waste this delicious part of the artichoke, but it tastes as good as the heart).

Next, start pulling away the tough outer leaves working, around the artichoke, until you reach the tender inner leaves. Exactly how many leaves you remove is something learned with experience, but don't be surprised if you pull 1/3 of the leaves off. (Put these leaves aside as they can be steamed along with the heart or used later to make an artichoke stock.)

Trim the tip of the artichokes, cutting about 1” of the tip off the remaining leaves, and then slice the artichoke in half, lengthwise. Place the first half into the ice bath, then,  using a knife, cut out the inner fuzz of the other half, ensuring that all of the fuzz has been removed. Do the same with the second half. Slice the cleaned heart into 6” lengthwise pieces and keep warm in the steamer until you are ready to plate the benedict.

Cook your veggies

Preheat the oven to 350.

Slice your yellow onion into rings and cook it in a big pan with 1 Tbs. olive oil. Cook on low for 30 mins, stirring frequently, or until the onions start to caramelize and turn soft and sweet.

Slice your sweet potatoes into small disks and place on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt, fresh pepper and 1 Tsp. of smoked paprika. Cook for 20-30 minutes, removing once potatoes are soft.

Add a garlic head to the oven for roasting. Slice the top off the entire head, exposing the tops of each garlic clove. In a piece of aluminum foil large enough to wrap the garlic in, set in in the center and drizzle with a little olive oil and a pinch of salt. Bring the foil up around the sides and close at the top. Place that in the over with the potatoes and roast for 30 minutes.

Make your secret sauce

Once your cashews have been soaked, you can make your hollandaise. Add 1/2 cup soaked cashews, 4 cloves of roasted garlic, 4 Tbs. of lemon (or to taste), 1 Tbs. nutritional yeast, ½ tsp. sea salt, ⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper, ⅛ tsp. turmeric powder, 1/8 tsp. of smoked paprika, and 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar (also to taste.) Blend on high for one minute, then check the consistency. If you find it needs to be thinned out you can add water 1 tsp. at a time until it is to your preferred consistency. Taste and adjust sweet/tartness with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.

Once everything is prepped you are ready to poach your eggs. Simmer them in a shallow pan with a tablespoon of vinegar to hold them together. For a more in-depth look at poaching the perfect egg check out my tutorial.

While your eggs are poaching, assemble your vegetable tower. Timing is key to eggs benedict, so you make sure you are prepped and ready to plate with the vegetable base built and sauce in hand.

On a plate create a small stack of sweet potatoes in the center and surround it with sliced artichoke hearts. Place your poached egg in the center and drizzle hollandaise on top. Add a pinch of caramelized onions and a dash of smoked paprika and serve immediately.

The Skinny

The humble artichoke offers a bounty of flavor and nutrition. Artichokes contain more antioxidants than any other vegetable and are widely used by herbalists for cancer treatment and prevention. They are known to lower your bad cholesterol levels by boosting bile production and promote liver detoxification. Best of all: they are the unsung hero of the hangover cure. Thanks to their positive effects on the liver, many people swear by artichokes as a hangover treatment. Instead of the hair of the dog, try the leaves of an artichoke.

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Curried Cauliflower Soup

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Curried Cauliflower Soup

A good blended soup should be a go-to in your cooking kit of cooking techniques. They are easy to make, extremely nourishing and seem much fancier then they truly are.  All blended soups start with garlic, onions and vegetables. Get creative with whatever is in season. Cook vegetables until soft, season and then blend them until smooth. Wah lah! I love picking a good garnish. Garnish opportunities are endless! Some of my favorites are something with crunch (toasted nuts, whole-grain croutons, crispy tortilla strips), something creamy (yogurt or flavored oils), or fresh herbs (cilantro, basil, thyme.) Get creative! 

INGREDIENTS

Olive Oil

1/2 cup onion, diced

1/2 teaspoon ginger, minced

Salt & Pepper to taste

2 teaspoons of red curry paste

1 head of cauliflower, coarsely chopped

1 russet potato, peeled and chopped

1 can of coconut milk

4 cups vegetable or chicken stock (low sodium)

Greek yogurt, toasted pumpkin seeds and cilantro leaves for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Once it is hot, add the onions, garlic and ginger and generous pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until onions become translucent, stirring occasionally.  (4-5 mins)

Add red curry paste to the vegetables and cook another minute or until fragrant. Stir in your coarsely chopped cauliflower and your peeled and chopped potato. Add another pinch of salt.

Add about 4 cups of stock and increase the heat until it comes to a boil. Reduce it to medium heat and add in your coconut milk. Stirring occasionally, cooking until the vegetables are very tender. About 20 minutes.

Using a food processor, immersion blender or hand-held blender, puree the soup until it is completely smooth. Put the soup back into it's pot and reheat on low until you are ready to serve.

Serve hot in warm bowls and garnish with a dollop of Greek yogurt, a few sprinkled pumpkin seeds and cilantro leaves.

The Skinny

Cauliflower is part of my favorite vegetable family: The Cruciferous! The cruciferous family are known sulfuric vegetables that stimulate and detoxify the liver. for healthy detoxification you'll want to include a cruciferous vegetable 2-3 times per week.

Cauliflower itself offers huge doses of antioxidant Vitamin C, manganese and carotenoids. 1 cup of cooked cauliflower gives you  55 mg of vitamin C. Cauliflower also contains high amounts of vitamin K and omega-3 fatty acids, which help decrease inflammation. And, just by virtue of having antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, cauliflower is naturally protective against cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases.

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Breakfast for Dinner: The Big Green Omelet

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Breakfast for Dinner: The Big Green Omelet

This herb- and green-laden egg dish is a delicious celebration of spring and a great way to get your protein and veggies in one beautiful dish. Get creative by using whatever greens and fresh herbs you have on hand. You could also add shitake mushrooms, shaved zucchini or shredded carrots.  Serve it with homemade sauerkraut, salsa or avocado. It is also wonderful cold for lunch the next day. Serves 4.

INGREDIENTS

6 eggs

2 Tbs coconut oil (or cold pressed olive oil.)

1 large spring onion (shallots & leeks are also good options.)

1 lb greens (nettles, spinach, kale or arugula or a mixture work well), blanched and chopped

½- 1 small Serrano chili, diced

1 bunch mint, chopped

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

Salt to taste

DIRECTIONS

Pre-heat oven to 350 if you do not want to flip your eggs part way through cooking.

Heat a 2 Tbsp of coconut oil in a cast-iron pan (or any other non-stick pan which can go into the oven.).  Add onions over medium heat, salt well, and cook 5 minutes until tender and translucent.  Let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, beat eggs in large bowl.  Blanch your greens by dropping them into boiling water for 1-2 minutes.  Add blanched and chopped greens and the herbs to the beat eggs. It will seem like a ridiculous amount of greens, but that is the point.  Add the cooled onions and more salt and mix well.

Re-heat pan over medium-high heat. Add egg mixtures and let cook 7-10 minutes until almost completely set. The middle will still be damp.  Don't let the bottom burn and adjust heat accordingly.  When the eggs are almost completely set you can either slide it onto a plate and then flip it back into the pan to cook the top for 2-3 minutes or you can slide the whole pan unto the pre-heated oven and cook it for 2-3 minutes until set but not too firm.

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Increase Brain Power through Nutrition

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Increase Brain Power through Nutrition

Eat protein for breakfast. Eggs, not oatmeal, give your brain the good fat it needs to function properly. Eggs will also help you boost your metabolism while keeping insulin levels low. That means more fat burning and less fat storing. Don’t like eggs? Try organic breakfast sausage and sautéed spinach or protein powder in a yummy shake.Keep your desk stocked.  By loading up your workspace with quick and healthy snacks, you can spend your time finishing that big project rather than daydreaming about the next meal. Shoot for protein and good fats for maximum brainpower: almond butter, apples, nuts, celery sticks, Lara Bars, string cheese, organic turkey jerky, fresh berries, Greek yogurt, etc. Skip carb loading lunch. Too many carbohydrates at lunchtime will leave you with a bad case of afternoon slumps. Carbohydrates of all kinds create a spike in your insulin and a crash in your blood sugar. If you plan on getting anything done after lunch, go for a lunch loaded up on lean meats, veggies, and less than a cup of whole grains or beans. Green caffeine boosts concentration. While one cup of coffee in the morning will get you going (followed by plenty of water, of course), it is not ideal for your digestion or your stress hormones. Try replacing your afternoon joe with a cup of green tea, which is proven to aid in concentration, boost the metabolism, and work to keep you looking young and vibrant. Eat more fat. While not all fats are created equal, healthy fats will bring better blood flow to the brain and improve mood and memory function. Omega 3’s are the closest thing to a miracle food for the mind, so stock up flax seeds, fish oils, coconut butter, avocado, and wild salmon. Add herbs to your diet.  Supplements like ginkgo, ginseng, and rosemary will improve your mental abilities.

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Thai Chicken Slaw

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Thai Chicken Slaw

I am always looking for delicious & nutritious salads that are easily made and can satisfy all week. This is my latest obsession. I was inspired to make a dish that was both full of crispy, fresh, summer veggies and also high in protein (and as usual, looking to add an Asian spin).  So I took the route of a colorful slaw, added some flavorful chicken and spiked the whole thing with spicy Thai chilies and fresh herbs. Yum, I'm hooked. This dish is fantastic eaten as a side dish, for lunch behind my steering wheel, or reinvented into an incredible dinner as kimchee lettuce wraps.

THAI CHICKEN SLAW

Ingredients: 

  • 1 chicken breast and 1 thigh (pan roasted, cooled and then shredded)
  • 1 head of purple cabbage
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 radishes
  • Handful of mint leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 1-2 Serrano pepper, Thai red chilies or 1/2 a jalapeno (to taste), seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 small shallots, finely chopped
  • 1" nub of fresh ginger
  • 1 green onion
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1-3 Tbsp fish sauce (optional)
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tsp toasted cashews or peanuts
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Directions: 

Begin by seasoning and roasting the chicken.  Toss it with soy sauce and fresh ginger and roast at 350 F for approximately 15-20 minutes.  Set it aside to cool and then shred when it cools down enough to handle.

Shred your cabbage and carrots and add them to a very large mixing bowl. Slice radishes (and any other crunchy veggies you have on hand) and add them to the large bowl as well.

Create a dressing by mixing the shallots, cilantro, soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, rice vinegar and honey to a small jar with a lid.  Shake the heck out of it. When the dressing is well shaken, add 1/3 cup of olive oil and shake again. Shake it, shake it.

Add chicken to the big bowl and mix evenly into the veggies. Cover the whole thing with dressing and toss together thoroughly.

You can mix in the toasted nuts now, or save them until right before you eat.

Eat all week and in every way possible.

HINT: This salad is amazing served in a lettuce cup with kimchee!

The Skinny: Cabbage is part of the cruciferous family, best known for their anti-cancer properties (known as glucosinolates).  Other cruciferous are broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, etc.  In fact, the anti-cancer effects are so well studied that it is one of the American Cancer Society's key dietary recommendations.  Beyond it's antioxidant qualities, cabbage also has very high levels of vitamin C, potassium and folic acid, biotin, calcium, and magnesium.  Cabbage also has an anti-bacterial effect which makes it particularly beneficial for healing peptic ulcers and indigestion. This is due to the strong amino acid L-Glutamine, which heals and regenerates the stomach lining.  And lastly, as with the rest of the cruciferous, cabbage protects and cleanses the liver. So eat it up, for a liver clean up!

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Poached Egg Miso

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Poached Egg Miso

Is it just me or did winter sneak up behind us, in the midst of our summer holiday?  True to San Francisco weather, we had  two precious weeks of 70 degrees, sunny park lunches, followed quickly with the a search for our wool hats and boot socks.  With the rainy weeks ahead I thought it the perfect time to talk soup. Those of you who know me, know that my relationship with soup has been a rocky road. My mom would always cook up big pots of everything-in-fridge-soup, that I would force down throughout the week. Resentful that I was once again face to face with the vegetables I had rejected so certainly just a week before. Once I was free to rule over my own kitchen, I vowed to ban all soups, stews and watery leftovers from my kitchen table.  But I admit, I have softened through the years. Maybe its due to chilly San Fran living, or that a blended soup offers something much more complex and intriguing. Or possibly that my 'ol mom was onto something and that I now recognize that soups are a great way to make a nourishing meal.  Whatever it is, I have turned a corner and am always looking for interesting new ways to make amends with my old enemy.

This week I was inspired by The Kitchn's  winter soup round-up and made this super easy, nourishing miso soup for dinner last week. It is the perfect prescription to rainy nights and fall colds and will leave you wishing your mom was around to fix you soup.

Poached Egg Miso 

INGREDENTS

2 quarts good broth

1/2 cup miso paste

One 12-ounce block soft tofu, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

1 small bunch scallions, green tops sliced thin

Greens (I used spicy broccolini in this version but bok choi, chard, pea shoots or dandelion greens would be great.)

Chili flakes

Kombu  (a seaweed that adds flavor, nutrients and digestibility to soups, grains and beans.)

For each  bowl:

1 cup cooked brown rice (or quinoa)

1 large egg

Soy sauce

Sambal (aka rooster sauce.)

Sesame oil

DIRECTIONS

Pour stock into a large saucepan.  Add a 3 inch piece of kombu to the cold stock and bring to a boil.  While stock is boiling ready the miso paste into a small bowl or measuring sup.  Add boiling stock to the miso and whisk until completely dissolved then combine with the stock.  Keep over low heat; do not let the broth boil after the miso has been added.

Stir in the tofu cubes and the sliced scallions, and heat just until warmed through.

Meanwhile add 2 teaspoons of sesame oil to a pan.  Once hot, add your greens and stir to evenly coat with sesame oil. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon- 1 teaspoon (depending on taste) over the greens, add a splash of water lower the heat and cover for aprox. 5 minuets or until the greens have wilted.

To prepare a bowl of soup Place 1 cup cooked white rice in each soup bowl. Poach an egg for each bowl of soup. (Alternatively, you can add an egg to a bowl of hot broth, cover it, and let stand for several minutes.)

Pour about 1 cup of miso soup over the rice in each bowl, place a poached egg on top and add wilted greens.  Serve with soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, and sesame oil.

The Skinny

Seaweed is a super food you should be eating. The Japanese have been cooking with sea vegetables for centuries to enhance both the flavor and  nutrition of their dishes. Seaweed offers the broadest range of minerals of any food as they contain every single mineral found in the ocean. The highlights are iodine which support the thyroid, lignans which offer cancer prevention, funcan substances dramatically lower the inflammation in the body.  Seaweed also has theraputic levels of folic acid and magnesium which protect the heart, cardiovascular system and support women in menopause. And last but not least a broad range of B vitamins to decrease stress and anxiety.  (Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, Murray, 2005.)

Adding pieces of kombu to your soup stocks, grains and beans will allow the nutrients to be absorbed by the food.  You can also try dulce flakes as a seasoning and of course seaweed sheets for making sushi and wraps.

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Chipotle Squash Enchiladas

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Chipotle Squash Enchiladas

If your like me, your wondering what to do with all the beautiful squash in the fall/winter months.  Look no further with this warming and EASY enchilada recipe. I came up with this one night after receiving a kambucha squash in my CSA box.  I didn’t want to leave the house and wanted to use up groceries I had sitting around.  I called on my pantry for canned black beans and chipotle peppers in adobe sauce (you could substitute green chilies if you have that in your cupboard.) Once you get that squash roasted (20-30 mins.), you’ll have the whole thing in the oven in 15 minuets. Make it. Share it. And definitely top it with my cumin, cinnamon pumpkin seeds.

INGREDIENTS
You favorite winter squash (butternut, kambucha, acorn, etc.)
1 can of black beans (Drained and rinsed)
1 small can of chipotle peppers in adobe sauce. 3-5 chopped chilies (depending on heat preference.)
baby spinach or kale
onions
garlic
salt/ pepper/ cumin
red enchilada sauce
tortillas
pumpkin seeds
greek yogurt
DIRECTIONS
Cut the squash in quarters.  Place skin side up in a backing pan with 2 inches of water.  Bake at 400 until soft. Aprox 20-30 mins. Let it cool.
Meanwhile sauté the onions and garlic. Season w/ salt pepper and cumin. Once translucent add to large bowl.
Add beans (rinsed), greens and chopped chipotle peppers to the bowl and mix the ingredients.
When the squash is cooled scoop the meat into the bowl with the mixture. Mix together.
To wrap enchiladas first pour the enchilada sauce into a wide base bowl.  Heat tortillas on a skillet  and then dip them in the sauce before adding filling (aprox. 3 TBS.) Roll enchiladas and place them in a shallow baking pan side by side.  Once pan is full cover with remaining sauce.
Bake for 20-30 mins.
Serve with dollop of greek yogurt and my cumin cinnamon pumpkin seeds.
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Kale and Roasted Pepper Pesto

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Kale and Roasted Pepper Pesto

Sauces and spreads are one of those foods generally bogged down with additives and preservatives.  Luckily, they are also one of the most simple things to make and even easier to freeze for later.  I like to put my pesto into an ice-cube tray, so that I have the perfect serving size for small dinners. So bust out your food processor and up the flavor and nutrients of tonight's meal. I found this recipie on the fabulous food blog Cooking on the Weekend, by Valentina Kenney Wein.  I LOVE her use of kale (of course) and also the smoky, burn of the bell pepper.

 

Kale and Bell Pepper Pesto

INGREDIENTS

2 cup Pecans, roasted

1 medium Red Bell Pepper, roasted

1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 to 4 large Garlic Cloves, roasted

4 cups packed green Kale Leaves (about 1/2 bunch)

Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS
  1. To roast the pecans: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and spread the nuts evenly on a baking sheet. When the oven is preheated, put the baking sheet in and roast until the nuts look a bit oily and are very aromatic, about 4 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. To roast the pepper: Place it directly on top of a high flame on the stove and let it cook for a few minutes. You’ll hear it crackle as the skin begins to char. Use metal kitchen tongs to turn the pepper as each side chars. It should be mostly, but not completely black. Then place the pepper in a bowl and cover it tightly with plastic wrap and let steam for about 5 minutes. Remove the plastic and let the pepper become cool enough to handle. Gently peel the skin off the pepper. Break or cut the pepper into a few pieces and then use a paring knife on the inside to remove the white membranes and seeds. Set aside.
  3. Wash, dry, and remove any tough stems from the kale.
  4. In a food processor, make the pesto by blending the kale with the roasted pecans, roasted pepper, and roasted garlic. Once it’s smooth, gradually pour in the olive oil and blend until it’s fully incorporated. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
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Egg Salad. Pure and Simple.

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Egg Salad. Pure and Simple.

Its "Unprocessed October" I am have been brain-storming ways to make whole-food and delicious lunches.  Today I called on an old friend: the egg salad sandwich. Its one of those classics that everyone loves but no one makes. I think this is the perfect time to revisit. Here is my spin: Egg Salad, Pure and Simple.

INGREDIENTS

2 hard boiled eggs

1 Tbsp of Plain Greek yogurt

1 tsp of unprocessed Dijon mustard

2 tsp of fresh herbs (today I used lemon thyme)

2-4 tsps of finely chopped shallots

rock salt and pepper to taste.

1/2 a piece of Trader Jo's Whole Wheat Lavash bread, (or another simply made bread.) For Paleo serve in lettuce cups.

Handful or wild arugula, lettuce, or mache

Home made pickles.

*NOTE: I like crunch in my egg salad so I generally throw in a small dice of whatever veggies I have available: cucumber, bell pepper, carrots, pickles, capers, etc. Chopped nuts can also be a nice addition.

*For an interesting variation try a curry powder, chopped apple and toasted pecans combination.

DIRECTIONS

Hard-boil your eggs (See directions below for a perfectly hard-boiled egg.)

In a bowl mix together shallot, mustard, yogurt and herbs.  Add the shelled eggs and roughly chop.

Fold the eggs and yogurt mixture together but allow it to stay course and not get too smooth.

If adding other veggies, fold them in also.

Serve over a salad, in a flat bread wrap or an open face dense rye bread sandwich. Add a spicy lettuce to contrast the creamy eggs and serve with home made (or fresh) pickles.

How To Perfectly Hard-Boil An Egg

1) Place eggs in a pot and cover with 2" of water.

2) Bring water to boil.

3) Once water boils, remove from heat momentarily and bring heat to medium. Place the eggs back on to simmer for 1 minute.

4) Remove pot from heat and let sit for 12 minutes. *NOTE: If cooking 5+ eggs, let sit for 15-20 minutes.

5) Rinse eggs under cold water. Ready to eat or save.

 

The Skinny

Yogurt has less fat and cholesterol then a vegetable-oil based mayonnaise. It can provide the creamy texture or moistness you are looking to add to a recipe. i.e- on tacos, in eggs, on sandwiches, in oatmeal, etc. Yogurt, unlike mayonnaise is a super food.  Yogurt can help improve digestion and immunity with its pro-biotic content; yogurt is a rich source of calcium; yogurt helps increase the bio-availability of other nutrients, yogurt supports healthy re-balance after antibiotics and yogurt is an excellent source of protein.

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Beet-O De Gallo

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Beet-O De Gallo

CSA Challenge, Part II For me, beets are nostalgic. They remind me of family dinners and of my father.  Even way out in Hawaii, he always managed to bring beets to our table, along with stories of Californian farming and summers spent on river bottoms.  Lately in my house, beets have been finding their way into the most unexpected of dishes.  New favorite: using rich, tangy and colorful beets to liven up salsas.  Take these two delectables:  Beet-O De Gallo and Roasted Beet Salsa.

Why eat beets? Because beets, (especially the greens), are packed full of vitamins C, A, calcium and iron.  They also have high levels of folic acid, magnesium and potassium and are excellent sources of fiber.  They have long been used in treating liver disorders, by stimulating detoxification. And for lowering cholesterol.

Beets have also gained attention for their anti-cancer properties.  The bright red pigment that gives beets their color, aka betacyanin, is a powerful antioxidant and cancer fighting agent.  Betacyanin works to inhibit cancer causing cell mutations, and when combined with beet's excellent fiber, helping to cleanse the body of its toxins. (Micheal Murray, 2005)

Roasted Beet Salsa

INGREDIENTS

2-3 medium red beets, roasted

4 ripe tomatoes  (Roma's work great)

1/2 an onion

1 jalapeno (adjust for heat)

3 cloves garlic (in their skins)

1 lime

handful of fresh cilantro

2 teaspoons of cumin

salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

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Heat the oven to 400.  Slice tomatoes and jalapenos length wise, remove seeds and stem. (Set aside half of the fresh jalapeno to add later.) Chop the onion into large chunks.  Add all the chopped veggies, plus the garlic cloves with skins intact, to a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with cumin, salt and pepper.  Roll the vegetables around on the pan to evenly coat. Place in the oven for 10-15 minutes, flipping half way through.

To roast beets, first wash then and then place all the beets in a large piece of tinfoil. Drizzle them with olive oil, salt and pepper and loosely wrap the tinfoil around them. Beets should be roasted at 400 for 20-40 minutes (or until they can be easily pierced.)

Once the tomatoes, onions and jalapenos are roasted, add them to a food processor along with a handful of cilantro (stems included), juice of 1/2-1 lime (to taste) and 1 teaspoon of ground cumin. Remove garlic from their casing and also add to the food processor.  Blend until smooth.  At this point taste the salsa for flavor and adjust cumin, lime, salt and pepper to your liking.  Cayenne pepper can also be added to increase the heat.

Put the roasted tomato mixture into a bowl.

Once the beets are soft, remove them from the oven and foil and let them cool for 5-10 minutes.  Once roasted, the beet skin should be easily removed by hand.  Remove skin and dice the beets.  Mix them into your roasted tomato salsa.

Enjoy with grilled or roasted meats, scrambled eggs, crustini with goat cheese, and of course, tortilla chips.

Note: the longer the beets sit in the salsa, the more sweet and purple the dish will become. I recommend making the night before.

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Beet-O De Gallo

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cup diced tomatoes (1-2 tomatoes)

1 cup of diced, roasted beets (see recipe above on roasting beets)

1/4 cup diced red onion

1 tablespoon of diced jalapeno

1 tablespoon of minced garlic

Juice of two small limes

3 tablespoons of loosely chopped cilantro

Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

In a bowl, mix together all the ingredients. Season with salt, pepper and fresh chili powder.

*My favorite way to eat this salsa is on a veggie-heavy tostada!

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Deceptively Creamy Broccoli Soup

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Deceptively Creamy Broccoli Soup

The C.S.A Challenge, Part 1 I have finally done it! With a little nudge from a Living Social Deal, I signed up for my first ever C.S.A box. These Farm-Fresh-To-You delivery boxes are great on so many levels, as they promote local and seasonal ingredients, AND encourage you to try cooking with vegetables out of your box (heh.)

Bright and 6:00am early this morning, on my way to teach a bootcamp, I was surprised to find sitting on my doorstep (open for the world sample from), the newly arrived C.S.A box.  I am embarrassed to admit as a Nutritionist, that it has taken me this long to sign up.  But the time is right! These days I am working/eating at home more often and have the time to truly commit 100% to the C.S.A challenge.

So I'd like to share my journey with you, as I delve into the depths of "the box" and together we will face all the challenges the veggies have to offer.  Because I imagine, like me, many of you might be sitting at home, hesitant, non-committal and wondering what would you do with all those veggies? Let's find out.

Box Contents

1 bu Beets 1 bu Carrots 1 bu Leeks 1lb Summer Squash 1 pt Blueberries 8 ct Black Plums 1 Cantaloupe 2 ct Cucumbers 2 ct Green Bell Pepper 2 ct Broccoli 1 bu Green Leafy Lettuce

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C.S.A Endeavor #1: Not-So-Creamy-Broccoli Soup

I currently have so much broccoli I can not close my vegetable drawers. I've been wondering: realistically, how much broccoli can two people eat? Well it turns out, that when cooked down and blended,  a lot!

I scoured my favorite cookbooks/journals for broccoli soup recipes, but all I found was

cream-heavy variations.

So then I turned to some

healthy blogs

and found many bland, vegan varieties. Something in between will suit my tastes best.  Lots of flavor without the junk.

The recipe I concocted is a classic broccoli soup meets nutritional boosters dish. I've added tofu for protein, and although that might seem scary to a few of you, the result is a creamy, full body soup. As some of you may know there is a controversy surrounding soy products.  One of the main issues is that soy does not contain a whole protein, so it can be difficult for the body to process. However, as demonstrated for centuries in the Asian diet, when combined with other proteins ( ie: fish or chicken broth), it becomes a whole and lean source of protein.

Secondly I've added nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast is a nutrient dense super food, packed FULL of B vitamins and happens to have a very cheesy flavor ( of course, dairy free.) I did use chicken broth to 'up' the protein, but feel free to go with vegetable broth if you prefer the dish vegan. So without further ado...

Leandra's C.S.Awesome Broccoli Soup

INGREDIENTS

1 pound of broccoli (stems included)

2 leeks

4 cloves garlic

1/4 white onion

2-3 Tbs olive oil

4 small red potatoes (optional)

1/2 container of tofu

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

4 cups of chicken broth (Proud to say, I used home-made)

salt, fresh pepper and cayenne (to taste)

DIRECTIONS

Heat 2 Tbs olive oil in a large pot. Chop the leeks (excluding most of the green tops), dice 3 garlic cloves, and thinly slice the potatoes. Add all to the heated oil and cook about 5-10 minutes until the leeks begin to caramelize. Lightly season with salt and pepper.  Then add 2 cups of chicken broth.  As this cooks continue to scrape the bottom of the pan to include the sticking bits. Once the chicken broth is added, cook until the potatoes soften (aprox. 10-20 mins.)

Meanwhile chop the broccoli (including the sweet stems!) in to large florets.  Remember, all of this will be blended later so the size is not important for the outcome. (But remember: slicing all your veggies approximately the same size helps them to cook at a more even pace. ) Once the potatoes are 85% cooked, add the broccoli to the pot and pour in the remaining two cups of chicken stock.Bring to a simmer and cook approximately 10 minutes, letting the broccoli cook until al dente.

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While the broccoli cooks put your tofu, white onion, remaining garlic clove and nutritional yeast into the food processor. Season with 1 tsp of salt and of pepper. Add a little of the soup liquid if    needed to help blend smoothly.  Blend until creamy. When the broccoli is cooked, add the "creamy" tofu mixture into the soup. Mix together.

Then in small batches, transfer the veggies and a little broth into the food processor and blend until smooth. Once blended add it back to the soup and continue until all veggies have been blended smooth. Season with salt and pepper and cayenne to taste.  Cook another 5 minutes to blend the flavors.

The soup can be served with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a sprinkling of nutritional yeast and ground pepper.

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World-famous, massaged kale salad!

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World-famous, massaged kale salad!

World famous? Well, maybe I am pushing it- but this indeed is my absolute favorite, scream from the roof tops, nutrition packed way to cook up this super food. Kale is part of the cruciferous family (related to the cabbage) and is touted as being one of the very most nutritious vegetable.  Kale is jam packed with carotenes, vitamins C, B6 and manganese, fiber and many minerals such as copper, iron and calcium. (Murray, 2005.)  Kale (and all cruciferous veggies) improve liver detoxification and have anti-cancer properties. So pick up a bunch at the next farmers market (it is always in season) and try on my massaged kale salad for size. Massaged Kale Salad

Raw kale salad is an easy, nutritious and adaptable recipe.  Feel free to alter dressing and additional ingredients to your tasting.

INGREDIENTS

1 bunches of lacinato/ dinosaur kale rinsed, de-boned and chopped into strips.

Juice of 1 lemon

½ teaspoon salt

4 tbsp olive oil

DIRECTIONS

1.     Put kale, olive oil, lemon and salt into bowl, then using hands massage the kale for 5 minutes to tenderize it.

2.     Then add the additional veggies, toss and let marinate for an 15 minutes or more.

3.     Additional options: avocado, shredded carrot, red bell pepper, shallot, parsley, sesame seeds, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, cilantro, fresh mint, tomatoes, kalamata olives, radish, splash of vinegar.

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