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Sarah Lawrence

Warming Chai, DIY Warming Balm AND a chance to win!

Wow, is it chilly here in New England this morning! I'm pulling out a mug of cinnamonny chai and rubbing some warming balm into the soles of my feet... and I'm keeping on my fuzzy socks until the sun comes out!  {{don't judge!}}  It is June, right?! Anyway, if you're game to try, I've posted my recipes for my favorite Coconut Chai and Warming Balm below!  I'm also including a blurb about the bennies of Coconut Milk (which apply to Coconut Oil too).  I alternate dairy free milks depending on my mood and on what I have in the pantry... coconut, hemp, almond and cashew are easy to store and easy to blend into your perfect milk! (I'm hooking you up with my DIY Coconut Milk Recipe too... :)  ) I want to hear from YOU!  What do you do when you are chilly?  What is your go-to, warm-me-up, comfort-in-a-cup drink?  What other tricks do you have up your sleeve?  Share...  I'll be picking ONE or TWO people to send a tin of my gorgeous Warming Balm or a Chai Lip Balm... I'll let you choose.  But, you can't win if you don't share!  Get to it!    ********************************************************************* coconut-729059_1280
5 Health Benefits of Coconut Milk
  1. Calcium and Magnesium powerhouse ~ Coconut milk is higher in calcium than regular milk and almond milk! It is also rich in magnesium which can help relieve and ease sore muscles and promote a sense of calmness for relaxation and sleep.
  2. Nutrients galore ~ Coconut milk contains iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium, as well as vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6.
  3. Immune System Booster ~ Coconut milk and coconut oil contain lauric acid, which is anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. It’s a great tool to support a healthy immune system.
  4. Weight Management ~ The body uses the short and medium-chain fatty acids in coconut for energy. The fiber in coconut milk is also great for helping you feel full and satisfied AND it’s great for your colon!
  5. Dairy Free, Nut Free and Vegan ~ allergy friendly for those who need to be dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free and gluten-free.
DIY Coconut Milk
  • 2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 4 cups water
What you will do:
  1. Soak coconut in the water for an hour
  2. In your vitamix or high speed blender blitz everything – the coconut and the soaking water. You want to blend on the highest speed for about a minute. You’ll see that the solids will dissipate and the whole mess will get insanely creamy --- watch the sides of your pitcher for the change!
  3. If your blender doesn’t get the mixture completely smooth, go ahead and strain everything through a clean nutmilk bag or clean coffee filter.
NOTE:  you can add a little vanilla extract and a few drops of liquid stevia if you want to change the flavor.  Also, for DIY Coconut Cream, reduce the amount of water to 2 cups.  You may need to add a little water as you blend, depending on the moisture content of the coconut that you start with! Warming Coconut Chai What you will need:
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • ¼ tsp clove or 2 whole cloves
  • ½ tsp cardamom or 1 cardamom pod
  • 1 tsp cinnamon or about 1 inch of cinnamon bark
  • ½ inch fresh ginger, skin removed and minced
  • black tea – 2-4 teabags, depending on how strong you like your chai
  • raw honey, stevia, or coconut sugar (usually a tsp or two will do if you need it sweet)
What you will do:
  1. Crush any whole spices (not the ginger) in motor and pestle or put them in a baggie and gently bash them with a rolling pin; a clean coffee grinder also works as does a quick spin in your high speed blender with the coconut milk. Whatever your method, grind the spices and combine with the coconut milk.
  2. Heat coconut milk, ground spices and ginger to a simmer.
  3. Add tea bags and simmer for about 5 minutes, then shut off the heat and cover; the longer you let this steep, the deeper the spiced flavor will be – 10-15 minutes.
  4. Taste the mixture. Does it need sweetener or is the cinnamon enough?
  5. Strain your concentrate through a sieve or tea strainer.
  6. Reheat the concentrate and add some water to thin it if you like.
Whipped Chai Balm

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Sarah Lawrence

Coconut Almond Cookie Dough Bites

Who hasn't snuck a knob of cookie dough at one point or another?  Well, these tasty bites are the perfect thing, really.  I’m not going to suggest that they’re healthy.  No, even I can’t go that far with a sweet.  But, as cookie dough goes, popping one or two of these little gems isn’t a horrible choice.  Coconut oil is a source of Medium Chain Fatty Acids and has multiple health benefits, but of greatest note in 2012 was the research that showed significant improvement in Alzheimers patients who used a coconut oil protocol.  Almond meal is the bulk of the dough so there is nothing overly processed and no gluten to gum up the gut.  If you want to take these bites over the top, you can coat them in chocolate and even add a few mini chips to the dough.  This recipe makes enough for a party.  The dough can also be stored in the freezer wrapped well in plastic wrap or a Ziploc bag so you can make a few bites at a time. 006 Coconut Almond Cookie Dough Bites ½ cup coconut oil, room temperature ½ cup coconut sugar 1 tsp vanilla powder 1 ½ cups almond meal 1 cup Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips, ½ for melting and ½ for dough (optional, but yummy!) In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the coconut oil and coconut sugar with the paddle attachment until the coconut sugar has “melted” into the oil and is no longer grainy.  Add the vanilla powder and almond meal.  Beat again for a few minutes to get the almond meal incorporated.   You will need to stop a few times to scrape down the sides of the bowl.  The dough will not make a ball, but should keep together.  Because coconut oil is liquid at room temp, the dough will be soft.  At this point, if you want chocolate chips in the cookie, go ahead and stir in ¼ - ½ cup to suite your taste.  You can omit them and have a lovely treat all the same. Tip the batter into a smaller bowl and pop it into the freezer for about 5-10 minutes to firm up.  If you leave it too long the dough will go quite solid and will need to sit at room temp for a bit to be soft enough to roll.  We are looking to be able to roll smallish, teaspoon size balls of dough.  You can make the dough balls larger, but this size is nice for popping as the occasional sweet treat and it’s also great for potlucks and parties. While the dough is firming up, take the ½ cup of mini chips and put them in a small heat proof bowl.  You need to melt the chips.  If you have a tried and true method, go ahead and get on with your renegade self.  If not, follow the leader… I boil water in the kettle and pour it into a pan that is a bit deeper and bigger than the bowl I chose for the chips.  I set the chip bowl carefully into the water bath, being sure that the water doesn’t get into the chips.  Leave the whole thing to warm for a few minutes, remove and stir the melted chips. Voila! Now back to the dough.  It should be a good temp for rolling so go ahead and scoop out teaspoons-full and roll them.  If your dough is too hard to scoop and roll, just leave it ococonut almond cookie dough bitesn the counter a minute to warm up again.  Place the rolled dough onto a baking sheet or plate.  If the dough balls get too soft, you can pop the plate into the freezer to firm up before enrobing them in chocolate (doesn’t that sound so much sexier than dipping or drizzling?) Heavenly cookie dough balls, meet chocolate bath.  Roll them around in it and then rescue them gently with a spoon.  Place the drenched goodies onto a piece of wax paper or parchment or silpat.  They will need to go back to the fridge or freezer for a few minutes to firm up the coating before serving, so if the whole operation is on a plate, that’s great.  Once the chocolate has set you can serve them or pop them off the plate and store in a freezer safe container.  For freezing, position the bites so they aren’t touching much, and separate layers with wax paper so they don’t stick. At room temp, the chocolate coating is fabulously finger licking good.  We like these best right out of the freezer when the dough is super cold and firm. For a variation, roll the dough balls in finely shredded coconut instead of chocolate… or, (mercy) roll in chocolate and then top with coconut! (You’re totally welcome!)

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Sarah Lawrence

Sarah's Salted Coconut Caramel Sauce

Leaves are fallen and the smell of November is in the air.  Pumpkins are on doorsteps, in pies and crockpots, and flavoring lattes.  And the allure of the creamy, toffee colored, buttery, salted caramel has been teasing me… There are salted caramel chocolates and salted caramel lattes and salted caramel toppings and none of them are for me! Ah, such is the way of the “Free Birds” – the dairy free, the gluten free – the you-know-who-you-are-free-like-me’s!  So, this one is for you (and for me!)!  I give you Sarah's Salted Coconut Caramel Sauce ~ Now, I remember the buttery flavor of caramel from my former life and I can tell you that this culinary creation suits my memories while satisfying my need to be free.  Try it out and let me know what you think… I’ve spooned it over sliced banana, had a dollop on a piece of vegan chocolate, drizzled it over chocolate coconut milk ice cream and licked the spoon every time!   Salted Coconut Caramel (dairy free, gluten free, nut free, vegan) 1 cup thick coconut cream (the top layer in canned coconut milk or ½ cup Tropical Traditions Coconut Cream Concentrate mixed with ½ cup water) 1 cup coconut milk 1 cup medool dates, pitted 1 Tbsp vanilla powder 1 Tbsp Earth Balance, buttery spread (optional) Coarse Sea Salt or Salt Flakes for sprinkling
  • Soak the pitted dates in the coconut milk until they are soft.  Soaking times will vary depending on the freshness of your dates.  This step is really important if your blender isn’t a Vitamix or Blendtec or able to really pulverize the dates.  We want the caramel sauce to be creamy, so soft dates help ensure that regardless of your blender!
  • Once softened, place dates, coconut cream, coconut milk and vanilla powder in your Vitamix or high speed blender.  Start on low speed, then work up to the highest and leave it there until the mixture looks creamy and all of the dates are incorporated.  No flecks!
  • Turn off the blender and use a spoon to fetch a taste.  If you’re wanting something with a more buttery flavor, try adding the Earth Balance and go back to blending until everything is really smooth.
  • This sauce is pourable right from the blender.  You can thin it with more coconut milk if you prefer a thinner consistency.  To thicken it up for dipping or spreading, transfer the sauce to a nice bowl and cool it in the fridge for an hour.
  • For the salted caramel experience, put a dollop of the caramel sauce on your favorite fruit, pie, pudding, hot chocolate or latte and then sprinkle with your finishing salt.
Perfectly free to be you and me… buttery, toffee tasting, creamy, salted you and me!  Enjoy!

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Sarah Lawrence

Blueberry Pie, Oh My!

With a few pounds of beautiful blueberries left from our first haul of the season, it was high time to make a great blueberry dessert.  What I love about blueberries is that they are such nutrition powerhouses yet they taste fabulous too.  My kids gobbled their servings while I got the satisfaction of knowing that they got a hefty dose of healthy, whole food based fiber, omega 3’s, protein, good fats, vitamin K, Vitamin C, manganese, Anthocyanins and a host of other impressive phytonutients.     And even though my little people know that the things we eat we eat with health in mind, things like this blueberry pie still feel and taste like a treat.  This recipe yields 4-6 servings, is quick to prepare and easy to assemble.  Kid rating was 4 enthusiastic thumbs up.  Drop me a comment and let me know what YOU think!  Image Raw Blueberry Pie Crust: ½ cup cashews or almonds 4 medool dates, pitted ½ cup coconut flakes In Vitamix or food processor, pulse these ingredients until they form a coarse meal. Transfer to a small bowl if making individual servings, or press mixture into bottom of an 8x8 inch pan. Filling: ¼ cup chia seeds 4 cups blueberries (divided, 2 cup + 2 cups) Stevia – 10 drops of liquid stevia or ¼ tsp stevia powder Using Vitamix or other blender, blend chia, 2 cups of berries and stevia until smooth. Add 2 cups of blueberries.  Stir to combine. If you’re making individual portions, start with 1 Tbsp of the crust mixture.  Pat that down on the bottom of your plate or bowl.  Top it with a few spoons of the blueberry mixture and then sprinkle a bit of the crust mix on top. If you’re making a pan, spread the berry mixture over the crust that you pressed into the 8x8 pan earlier. Either way, let everything set up for about 10 minutes in the refrigerator before serving. Note: the blueberry mixture will turn an earthy blue when exposed to the air, so try to work quickly if the darker blue doesn’t appeal to you!

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Sarah Lawrence

No Bake Brownie Bites

[caption id="attachment_593" align="alignleft" width="300"]No bake brownie Bites No bake brownie Bites[/caption] It is a hot one in New England today.  Scorchers like today just don’t make me want to bake, but I’ve been itching to try a black bean brownie recipe that my friend Kerri created.  With the humidity though, not even a battalion of flying monkeys was going to make me turn on the oven!  So, a little blitzing with a batch of black beans and a few yummy raw staples and a nifty, no bake, nut free brownie bite was born.  My favorite bite was one I rolled with a few dried blueberries.  If you like an earthy flavor, go for the buckwheat.  Otherwise, try the GF oat flour for a mild canvas and a great bite of heart healthy oat fiber.  *nut free, gluten free, dairy free No Bake Brownie Bites 1 cup oat flour (choose gluten free if you need it) or 1 cup raw sprouted buckwheat flour * or a combination of both flours -- buckwheat is earthy, oat is neutral 12 medool dates, pitted, about 1 cup 1-2 droppers of liquid stevia or a few more dates to taste ¼-½ cup cacao powder 1 ½ cups black beans, unseasoned (drained and rinsed if from a can) ¼ cup water ¼ cup coconut oil Add ins of your choice – see end of recipe In your food processor, pulse the pitted dates a few times until they start to break down and get like a paste.  Add the black beans and process until smooth.  Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until you get a ball of dough.  You may need to add a bit more water or coconut oil depending on the moisture content of your beans and dates.  The consistency we’re going for is something like a stiff cookie dough or play dough. I like to line my small stone baking pan (8x6 or 8x8) with parchment paper, tip out the dough and press it firmly into the corners and then flat on the pan.  Fold the parchment over the mixture and refrigerate it so it firms up a bit more. Cut into ½ inch pieces.  Now you can get creative… you can roll the pieces into balls like truffles and swirl them around in cocoa or cacao powder, cinnamon, coconut, chopped nuts, matcha powder, powdered berries.  You can mix in dried fruit; dried blueberries and chopped dried cherries are my favorite.  You can leave the bites as squares and drizzle with chocolate sauce or spread with a thin layer of ganache.  Bottom line is that these are slightly sweet, fiber rich, heart healthy bites. *To make sprouted buckwheat flour start with raw buckwheat groats.  Soak them for about 2 hours, then rinse and drain.  Let the soaked groats sit in a sprouting bag or a glass container (lightly covered with a clean cloth) overnight.  Rinse the groats after 24 hours.  If they are sprouting, great… if not, let them sit another night.  Once the groats have nice sprout tails you can either set them on a baking sheet and let them dry before grinding them to flour or you can pop them in a dehydrator.  If you have a dehydrator, you’ll know what to do with it.  Otherwise, rinse the sprouts gently and drain them, then lay them on a baking sheet and let them dry out overnight.  You may need to stir them or flip them to help them dry evenly.  I used about 1 ½ cups of sprouted buckwheat groats to get my 1 cup of flour.  A clean coffee/spice grinder makes quick work of this job, but a food processor will work too. BONUS: My Daily Green --Red Cabbage, grapefruit and ginger Salad
  • thinly sliced red cabbage with grapefruit, pickled ginger and a splash of rice wine vinegar
  • a few handfuls of seasonal greens

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Sarah Lawrence

Gluten Free Coconut Crusted Tofu with Apricot Salsa

Coconut crusted tofu with apricot salsaReminiscent of coconut crusted shrimp, these tofu pieces are warm and creamy on the inside while nicely crusted on the outside.  Paired with the sweet-hot bite of the apricot salsa, this one is a nicely balanced forkful of colorful, healthy yum.  Coconut crusted tofu with Apricot Salsa ¾ block firm tofu, drained and sliced into 4 pieces 1/3 cup arrowroot powder 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes ¼ cup rice flour ¼ cup almond meal (optional, but adds nice nutty flavor and enhances color) salt and pepper ¼ block firm tofu, drained ½ cup almond milk 4 Tbsp lime juice Salsa 1 apricot, diced 1 red pepper, diced 1 small sweet onion, diced 1 clove garlic, minced 1 tsp Thai red chili paste 1 tsp lime juice
  1. Prep the salsa so the flavors have time to combine.  Toss everything with the chili paste and lime juice until well combined.  Taste.  If you need to adjust the seasoning, do it.  Add a bit of honey, maple syrup or agave if you need a bit of sweet to cut the heat.
  2. For the tofu, drain the block and wrap it in a clean kitchen towel.  Set a heavy pan on top of the wrapped tofu for 10-15 minutes to encourage the moisture to drain.
  3. In the meantime, combine the coconut flakes, rice flour and salt and pepper in a shallow dish.  Set aside.
  4. Pull out your Vitamix or blender and whiz the ¼ block of tofu, almond milk and lime juice until smooth.  Pour into a bowl.
  5. Heat a skillet and a few tablespoons of olive oil or coconut oil.
  6. Slice the pressed tofu into 6-8 pieces.  Dust each piece in arrowroot, then dip into the blended tofu/almond milk/lime mix until coated.  Finally dredge in the coconut/rice flour mixture before placing in the skillet.  Repeat with remaining pieces.  Cook on each side for about 4 minutes or until golden.
  7. Serve a slice or two of tofu topped with apricot salsa and a beautiful mix of greens for a tasty lunch or light dinner.
  Note:  I am not a huge fan of tofu.  My preference is to use soy in a occasional way and mostly as edamame (because it is the whole, fresh bean) or miso (because it is fermented and easier on the digestive system).  On occasion, a bit of tofu will make it to our plates.  It is definitely not the staple in my kitchen that it was when I was transitioning off of chicken. The long and short of the soy story is that it is both good and bad...  On the plus side, soy foods contain isoflavones that have antioxidant activity and are protective against cancer.  Sticking to whole soy foods like edamame, minimally processed soy food like tofu and fermented soy foods like tempeh, miso and tamari is the way to go. Once we look at commercially popular fractionated foods like processed soymilk, isolated soy protein powders and imitation meats made with soy isolate we start to see big problems.  The solvents used to make these products are nasty and simply not something you want to be injesting.  Aside from the processed aspect, soy can be very difficult to digest, so the closer to the whole bean the better... and the more fermented, the easier on the digestive system.  Soy beans are also one of the most highly genetically modified crops in the US.  When eating a soy product, choose ORGANIC to avoid the horror of the GMO.  For those of you using infant formula that is soy based, please, please, choose organic for this reason.

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Sarah Lawrence

Ingredient Adventure: Black Chickpeas

I love trying new ingredients.  This bag of Black Chickpeas has been in my pantry for a little over a month now and I decided that tonight was their opening night in our kitchen!  Most of the recipes I've seen that use black chickpeas describe them as a snack or side dish and use them in a spiced sauce with some gamey meat.  Instead of using these little nuggets in their traditional supporting role, I've used them as the star.  This meal was rounded out with a gorgeous saute of ripped kale, seasoned with a sprinkle of salt and pepper as well as a scoop of steamed quinoa.  I also created a Gingered Coconut Almond Cream to top the Chickpeas, just because... I love ginger and I love a creamy sauce that I can dip into or swirl into a dish.  About 1 Tbsp topped each serving of Chickpeas. The Family Verdict: My 9 year old enjoyed the meal; the 5 year old mixed everything together and ate all but a few bites; my sweet husband left some of the kale and noted that because the black chickpeas look like black beans he expected them to be softer.  I cooked the chickpeas just past al dente, but it would be really easy to cook them a bit more to soften them. Notes: the Black Chickpea soaks and cooks the same as a tan chickpea, though this variety seems much smaller than tan chickpeas.  The taste is also very similar if not the same as the tan variety.  My next 2 experiments will be dry roasting them and trying a Black Chickpea hummus. [caption id="attachment_475" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Black Chickpeas with Kale and Quinoa"]black chickpeas in Spiced Tomato Sauce[/caption] Black Chickpeas in Spiced Tomato Sauce (yields 6-8 servings) Adapted from this Chana-chanp recipe 2 cups dry Black Chickpeas, soaked 1 tsp coconut oil 1 lb Onion, chopped 1 cup coconut milk + 2 Tbsp lemon juice 1 lb Tomato, crushed 1 Tbsp cumin powder 1 tsp turmeric powder 3 Tbsp Garlic, chopped 2 Tbsp Ginger, chopped 1 Tbsp chili powder or a generous squeeze of Sriracha, optional handful fresh Cilantro, chopped Salt, to taste Prep: Rinse the chickpeas in cool water to clean them.  Soak the chickpeas over night; drain. Heat oil in a pan and fry the onions until soft.  Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, ginger, garlic, turmeric powder and cumin and boil until chickpeas are soft, about 45 minutes.  Once the chickpeas are cooked, turn off the heat and add the coconut milk/lemon juice mixture.  Taste.  Season with chili powder or sriracha as desired.  If you are serving children, you may want to reserve a portion before seasoning with the hot pepper options. Top with minced cilantro and serve.   Ripped Kale 1 bunch of kale, ripped or chopped into small pieces 1 tsp coconut oil Heat coconut oil in a wok or saute pan and add the kale.  Saute over high heat for 3-4 minutes until the kale is vibrant green and wilted.  Season with a hint of salt and pepper if desired.   Gingered Coconut Almond Cream (yields 1 1/3 cup) 1 cup coconut milk 1 cup raw almonds 1 tsp ground ginger or 1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger Combine all ingredients in the Vitamix or other high powered blender.  Blend until very smooth.  The flavor or the cream intensifies the longer it sits.  Fresh ginger yields a stronger flavor faster.

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creativecalligraphy

Easy Coconut Curry

My health coach, Tammi, gave me a challenge for this month... and I am not one to forego a challenge, so, this month I am experimenting with Macrobiotics.  Being introduced to macrobiotics this month has been really timely.  Traditionally a balancing and restorative way of approaching food and life, this philosophy has been a gift to me as I've been working to get my 5 year old through a particularly intense bout of croup and the respiratory ickies that follow.  The ease of cooking a huge pot of brown rice and using it as the base for our meals is making up for the lack of my beloved nightshade veggies.  I have a handful of recipes to post from the week, but this one was on our table last night.  I think it's macrobiotic... even if it's not 100% in keeping with the tradition, it was inspired by it and was tasty.   Easy Coconut Curry 1 knob of fresh ginger (about 2 tablespoons) 3 cloves garlic 1 onion, quartered 1 stalk fresh lemongrass (optional – see my note below) 14 oz can of coconut milk* 1 cup water 2 tbsp curry powder (use your favorite, we like Frontier Herbs) 3 cups cooked garbanzo beans 2 cups cauliflower, broken into small pieces 1 russet potato, peeled and cubed (about 2 cups cups) Put ginger, garlic, onion, lemongrass and coconut milk into your food processor or Vitamix blender.  Process until smooth.  (Note: I thought I processed my mixture well enough, but found strings of lemongrass in the finished curry.  They were not problematic, but it looked abit strange and might make people worry that they’re eating a piece of, gulp, hair.  So, my suggestion is to really blitz the mixture and then strain it if you aren’t sure that the lemongrass is incorporated.  Alternatively, chunk the lemon grass into large pieces and you can infuse the coconut milk with it in the next step and then fish the pieces out before serving.) Pour the spiced coconut milk into a large sauce pan and bring to a simmer over medium high heat for 5 minutes. Add the water, beans and vegetables and cook until the potato is soft, about 15 minutes. Serve with brown rice or quinoa and a nice salad. [caption id="attachment_451" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Easy Coconut Curry"]Easy Coconut Curry[/caption] *Homemade Coconut Milk is easy and is my preference, but not everyone has coconut in the pantry.   If you do, try this! 1 cup coconut flakes 2 cups  water Put everything in your Vitamix and blend on high speed for 3 minutes until the mixture is creamy.  Strain through cheesecloth or a nutmilk bag if you are drinking the coconut milk.  For this recipe, just use the coconut milk right from the blender! This video from tropical traditions will show you how to do it, though they use slightly different proportions than I do and they strain twice.  I love Tropical Traditions organic coconut flakes and they are the only brand I use!

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Quinoa Burgers with Greens and Chilled Curried Peach Soup

 I am so excited to share this meal with you!  My boys absolutely gobbled the burgers and each had several "sippers" of Curried Peach Soup.  The burger makes use of three of my weekly staples: quinoa, homemade hummus and kale; and the gorgeous organic peaches we picked up at the market this week really shine while boosting up Vitamin A, C and Potassium.  

Quinoa Burgers with Greens and Chilled Curried Peach Soup
Quinoa Burgers with Greens and Chilled Curried Peach Soup

Quinoa is such a superb seed!  Not only is it incredibly easy to prepare, versatile and yummy but it’s a powerhouse of protein, B vitamins, iron, zinc, potassium, calcium & vitamin E.  Here, quinoa shares center stage with the amazing chickpea, aka garbanzo.  The chickpea takes on a big role as a binder, but is so mild and creamy that the other flavors come through.  

I love that only one pot and one skillet are involved on the messy side of things (if you need to make the hummus, you’ll have the food processor to contend with as well).  But, this one take relatively little effort to get great results.  To make this guy your own, try changing the spices.  You can use another green in place of the kale or try combinations of herbs instead (parsley and cilantro, thyme and oregano, dill).  Finishing the patties with rice flour gives a light crust and makes for a pretty golden brown burger. Use your hands to mix things and you will soon get the feel for the right texture so you will be able to adapt to the ingredients you choose.  My hummus recipe is a stiff hummus, actually much more stiff than commercial varieties, so if you are using a store bought hummus you may need to add in the garbanzo flour or rice flour to aid in binding and reduce the moisture level. Quinoa Burgers (Makes 6 burgers) 1 cup quinoa + 2 cups water 1 Tbsp organic onion powder 2 cloves garlic, whole and unpeeled 1 cup homemade hummus (recipe below) 1/4 cup minced kale (about 2 leaves) 1 teaspoon Frontier All Purpose Seasoning or your favorite herb blend 1 teaspoon smoked paprika 2 Tablespoons Bragg Liquid Aminos 1-2 Tablespoons garbanzo bean flour or rice flour (as needed) Fresh ground black pepper Brown rice flour 1 Tbsp Olive oil Preheat a skillet to medium high heat and pour in the quinoa.  Lightly toast the seeds for a minute or two until they start to smell nutty but are NOT burnt.  Add in the 2 cups of water, onion powder and unpeeled garlic.  Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the water is absorbed.  Remove from the heat and fish out the garlic. Put your softened garlic onto a plate or cutting board and, with the edge of a knife, lightly press on the garlic to squish it out of the peel.  Add this back into the quinoa mixture. Add the hummus, kale, herbs, smoked paprika, Braggs and several grinds of pepper into the quinoa pot and mix well.  I like to use my hands for mixing because I get a good feel for the stickiness of the dough and can tell if things are binding together or if I am going to need to adjust with the bean/rice flour and/or water.  So, once the ingredients are incorporated take about ½ cup of the mixture and make a ball.  If you can shape it into a burger type patty without anything crumbling off or wilting over, then you have the right consistency.  If you can’t, and your mixture is too wet, sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of garbanzo flour over the mixture and stir it in.  If your mixture is too dry, try adding a teaspoon of water at a time and mixing.  We are looking to make a mixture that it neither too wet nor too dry.  We want moist. Continue adjusting until you get a patty that holds well on its own. [caption id="attachment_445" align="alignright" width="300" caption="ready for mixing"]ready for mixing[/caption] Divide the mixture into 6 equal bits and form into balls which you will then shape into ¼ inch thick patties. [caption id="attachment_444" align="alignright" width="300" caption="shaping and dredging"]shaping and dredging[/caption] Get your cast iron skillet hot over a high flame and coat it with the olive oil. Turn the heat to medium.  Lightly dredge the patties with some brown rice flour that you’ve put in a shallow bowl or plate.  Get your burgers into the skillet and cook for 5 minutes on each side or until you get some browning. Serve on your favorite bun or GF bread or set up a pretty plate with greens and fresh tomato and avocado.  I think a grainy mustard is a wonderful condiment for this burger, but you’ll find your favorite.   Homemade Hummus 3 cups cooked chickpeas ¼ cup tahini 3 cloves garlic juice of one organic lemon dash of salt and pepper 1 tsp ground cumin ½ tsp ground chipotle pepper (optional) Put all ingredients in your blender.  Pulse to combine and then blend until a smooth texture is achieved.  If needed, stream in a tablespoon or two of veg broth or olive oil to thin the mixture (this step is really dependent on the moisture level of your chickpeas and tahini, so it will vary). Flavor develops more after a day in the refrigerator, but this is totally great right out of the food processor.  Use half the batch for the quinoa burgers and enjoy the remainder with veggies during the week or as an accompaniment for salad, or thin it out with water or almond milk to make a luscious dressing/dip. ************************************************** My kids LOVE this soup!  It’s a great soup for teaching, actually, because each of the components tastes so different on their own.  Taste the ingredients one by one before putting everything into the blender and then taste the final product.  When combined, the flavor of this golden peachy toned creamy soup is a little sweet, a little spicy.  Chill for an hour or more before serving, but don’t keep it for more than a day as the color will go a funny orange and the peach flavor loses something. Chilled Peach Soup 4 organic peaches ¼ cup coconut flakes 1/2 cup water 1 teaspoon curry powder ½ tsp fresh grated ginger Wash and pit the peaches.  Put everything into the Vitamix and blend on low speed for 10 seconds.  Whiz on maximum speed for 30 seconds or until the coconut is thoroughly blended and the mixture is smooth.  Transfer to a bowl or container and chill for at least an hour before serving. Note: blender or food processor will work but may not yield a smooth texture.  If you don’t have a Vitamix, consider using ½ cup of prepared coconut milk instead of coconut flakes and water.

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Coconut Mocha Smoothie

I love a good smoothie in the morning.  There's nothing better than knowing that I am starting the day with a healthy nutrient rich sip.  My boys generally have some smoothie with me as well, so I know that they are getting at least one serving of fruit and veg right out of the gate! Using Tropical Traditions large coconut flakes, I find this smoothie to be really nice.  If you want to intensify the coconut flavor and you have access to fresh coconut, try subbing fresh coconut meat for the flakes.  Want to go over the top?  Sub coconut milk for the water.  You will increase the fat content in a big way, but if coconut flavor is what you need, it's okay to go for it from time to time.  According to recent science, the fat in coconut oil has considerable health benefits.  As with all fats, moderation is key. Wondering how this smoothie tastes?  Surprisingly, with all that spinach, you might expect it to taste "green", but it doesn't.  The cocoa and coconut flavor is dominant and the blueberry provides an undertone.  I like using the berries because of their antioxidant punch.  I make another version of this smoothie minus the berries, but that one feels more like a guilty pleasure than a nutritious start to the day! [caption id="attachment_404" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="Coconut Mocha Smoothie"]Coconut Mocha Smoothie[/caption] Coconut Mocha Smoothie (serves 2, yields 4.5 cups) 1 cup frozen blueberries 1 cup water 4 cups raw baby spinach  3 Tbsp cocoa powder ¼ cup large coconut flakes or fresh coconut meat 1 tsp powdered stevia or 1/2 dropper liquid stevia Blend everything in the Vitamix until smooth.  Serve.     Here's a peek at my lunch today.  Fresh romaine, arugula, kale, escarole and endive + fresh berries and apricot, leftover roasted red pepper and BBQ tofu that I cubed + a luscious dollop of white bean hummus.  A nutritious salad doesn't have to be greens and tomato and traditional veg.  Use what you have.  Use what you love... and you can't go wrong!  (The highlight of this bowl for me were the amazingly sweet peppers that I roasted last night paired with bites of kale and berries.): [caption id="attachment_405" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Salad with berries, apricot, roasted pepper, BBQ Tofu and white bean hummus"][/caption]

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