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Sarah Lawrence

Sweet Potato Walnut Pilaf

I don't know about you, but I am always trying to think of ways to feed my family healthy foods that taste great, are easy to prepare and economical too!  Tonight, I'm sharing part 1 of this two-fer dish.  It's quick (30 minutes including prep), tastes great and will do double duty for you tomorrow night!
Nutritional-Know-How: I use sweet potatoes because they are rich in vitamins A, C, B6, B3, B1, B2, copper, manganese, pantothenic acid, biotin, potassium and fiber!  These high pigment powerhouses are anti-inflammatory wonders, help balance fibrinogen.  It's important to include a little bit of fat when eating sweet potato to unlock the potential of the beta-carotene in your body.* Walnuts not only add an earthy flavor but also contain an omega-3 called alpha-linolenic acid(ALA), copper, manganese, molybdenum and biotin.  Walnuts are a great source of gamma-tocopherol (a form of Vitamin E that has been shown to provide significant for the heart). The levels of potassium, calcium and magnesium along with other antioxidants in walnuts has been shown to help regulate blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and bone health.* Mushrooms are anti-cancer nuggets that are amazingly supportive of the immune system.  They became a part of our daily diet when I reviewed the studies cited in some work by Dr. Joel Fuhrman that found that "frequent consumption of mushrooms has been shown to decrease the risk of breast cancer by 64%" -- and we're not talking about a ton of mushrooms... we're talking about the equivalent of 1 button mushroom a day!!! * Millet is a great choice for many reasons... it's gluten free, high in protein(6 g/cup) and fiber(2 g/cup), rich in copper, manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium.  It looks a lot like couscous and can be substituted for couscous to make recipes gluten free!*

Sweet Potato Walnut Pilaf IMG_7582 Here's what you need to get started:
  • 2 lbs organic sweet potato, cut into small cubes
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, minced
  • 1 cup millet, uncooked ~ rinsed and drained
  • 2.5 cups water + 1 Tbsp broth powder OR 2.5 cups broth
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 cup parsley, minced
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  While you're waiting, spread the cubed sweet potato onto a baking sheet, drizzle it with the olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.
  2. In a small skillet, over medium heat, sauté the onion and mushroom for about 5 minutes or until fragrant and soft.
  3. Add millet and water/broth and bring to a simmer, then cover and reduce the heat.
  4. The oven should be hot enough now, so go ahead and put the baking sheet with the sweet potato on in and set your timer for 20 minutes.
  5. When the timer goes off take the sweet potato out of the oven and shut that off.  Remove the lid from your millet and taste it to see if it's done.  It's okay for millet to have a little bite to it, but you can also take it further to get it softer if you prefer.  When you're satisfied with the millet, turn off the heat, toss in the cooked sweet potato, the chopped walnuts and parsley.  Taste and season with salt and pepper as you like.
ENJOY!  And pop over tomorrow for Part 2 -- you're going to love what we do with the leftovers!   *Sources: Sweet Potato Walnut Mushroom Millet

Sarah Lawrence

Apple Walnut Muffins (gluten-dairy-egg free)

Apple season is upon us and the bushel of apples on my kitchen counter are calling to me to use them!  These apples are so beautiful that you can shine them up on your pant leg and sink your teeth right in for an oh-so-sweet-crisp-tangy-amazing bite and be at one with the apple bliss.  That's a given.  But, so are these... Cinnamon apples, apple chips, apple slices, apple granola, apple smoothies, apple sorbet, apple butter, apple pie, apple cake.... and, ah, apple muffins! I make mini muffins more than full size muffins not only because they're cuter, but because they are easier to pack in lunch boxes, easier to freeze and just the right size to have with a cup of tea.  Check out the alternative fruit and nut combinations and have fun making muffins with or for your loved ones!  Know that you're getting whole grains and healthy fats in these little gems. Apple Walnut Muffins [caption id="attachment_478" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Apple Walnut Mini Muffins"]Apple Walnut Mini Muffins[/caption] (yield 24 mini or 12 regular muffins) Flour blend: ½ cup sorghum flour ½ cup quinoa or millet flour ½ cup amaranth flour ½ cup arrowroot flour 1 tsp xanthan gum ½ tsp salt 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp baking powder 1 tsp gluten free vanilla powder (or add 2 tsp gluten free vanilla liquid extract to the liquid mix) Liquid blend: ½ cup rice syrup or 3 medool dates, softened in ½ cup water and blended until smooth or ½ cup maple syrup 1 Tbsp chia seed ¼ cup hot water ¼ cup coconut oil 1 ripe banana, mashed 1 tsp apple cider vinegar Fruit/nut mix*: 1 ½ cups apple, small diced ¾ cup walnuts, chopped *other fruit/nut combos to try are pear/almond, banana/pecan, peach/cashew.  Substitute these fruits for the apple at the 1 ½ cup portion, however, for great results make sure to choose very firm, almost under-ripe fruits since these are all juicier or more liquid forming than apples.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Line the muffin pan of your choice with paper liners.
  • Combine the flour blend in a mixing bowl.
  • Combine the chia and hot water in a small bowl and set aside until the chia absorbs the water.
  • Combine the chia gel with the remaining ingredients for the liquid blend in another mixing bowl.  Make sure that the banana is very well washed and everything is quite a smooth liquid.   If you aren’t partial to the nubby bite that chia adds to baked goods, you can blend the liquid mixture in a Vitamix or other blender until the chia is smooth.
  • Pour the liquid blend into the flour and stir well to combine.  Fold in the diced apples and nuts.
  • Scoop tablespoon size portions into mini muffin cups or ¼ cup portions into regular muffin cups. 
  • Bake the mini’s for 12 minutes or until golden; bake regular muffins for 18-20 minutes.
  • Check the done-ness of one muffin by inserting a wooden tooth pick into the center and pulling it out.  If there is a goo on the stick, you need to bake for a few minutes longer.
  • Remove the muffins from the oven and transfer them from the tin to a cooling rack.  Gluten free baked goods have a tendency to be more moist than glutenous baked goods, so allowing these muffins to cool and get great air flow underneath the papers will help ensure bottoms that aren’t soggy.
  • Serve or freeze (freeze on a baking sheet and then transfer the frozen muffins to a zip lock or freezer safe container).


Sloppy Joes

[caption id="attachment_283" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Lentil Sloppy Joe with Vegan Cheese and Steamed Broccoli"]Lentil Sloppy Joe[/caption] I have fond memories of the sweet and tangy sloppy joe sauce that my dad made.  It was the stuff of finger licking legend.  Though I don't make my sloppy joes with ground meat, I love the hearty bite that the lentils give and the earthy balance of the portobello mushrooms.  Not to brag, but I think my sloppy joe sauce is good enough to earn a place in my children's culinary memory and in your recipe file.  Only time will tell!  But if clean plates and requests for seconds are any indication, I think I'm on the right track! The real key to incredible flavor for this meal is the smoked paprika... click on it in the ingredients list and you can order it from Penzey's if you don't have it in your cabinet. Enjoy! Lentil Sloppy Joes This multi step process is worth the effort.  You’ll be spending about an hour in the kitchen to get this done, but the batch is HUGE and makes plenty of leftovers that you can package up and bump into the freezer for a meal next week and the week after! Using you food processor or mad knife skills, mince the following: 1 large onion, minced 2 cloves garlic, minced 4 carrots, minced 4 celery stalks, minced 10 oz Portobello mushrooms, minced Add the minced veggies to a large stockpot in which you’ve warmed a tsp of olive oil.  Stir the veg while they brown and soften, about 10 minutes.  They will become super fragrant. Add: 2 cups lentils * 6-8 cups water *(I usually use brown or green lentils, but you can use red lentils too.  Reduce your liquid by a cup if you use red lentils.  They cook faster, so watch your time too!) Stir the pot and simmer for 40 minutes until the lentils are till tender and the liquid is absorbed.  (If your liquid is not absorbed after 40 minutes try the quinoa/millet add in noted in the next step.)  Stir in: 1 cup uncooked millet or quinoa (optional, adds nutritional value & helps if your lentils are liquidy!) 7 oz jar organic tomato paste 1 cup tomato sauce 1 cup ketchup (or a 2nd cup of tomato sauce) 1 Tbsp chipotle chili powder 1 Tbsp oregano 3 Tbsp smoked paprika (This is the key to fabulous flavor!!!) 1 Tbsp cumin 1 Tbsp cinnamon 2 Tbsp prepared mustard (I used a grainy mustard that has a nice vinegar kick) 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar Sweeten: 4 medool dates, pitted OR 1 Tbsp brown sugar (I prefer my sugars to be from whole foods, but if you don’t have dates then brown sugar will do) If you've added the quinoa or millet your pot will need about 10 -15 minutes more to simmer while those seeds absorb their liquids.  If you're not using the seeds just proceed.  Remove 1 cup and blend it in the food processor with the 4 pitted dates until smooth.  Add back into the pot and stir to combine. Serve your sloppy lentil ragout on a roll of your choice or just on a plate with a side of steamed broccoli and some fresh greens. [caption id="attachment_284" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Lentil Sloppy Joes without the bun are an easy Gluten Free Vegan meal!"]Lentil Sloppy Joes without the bun[/caption] Leftovers are even better.  You can also take half of your leftovers and season them with more chipotle chile and some diced tomato to make a good taco filling.  Top with fresh guac, crisp lettuce and sliced peppers and you’re on your way to another easy meal. ***Check out Lentil Sloppy Joes v2 by clicking here!


Garlic Lentil Immune Boost Soup

Seems like everyone and their mother has the sniffles and sneezes these January days.  Truth be told, I woke up this morning knowing that my body is fighting off some little germ.  I eat really minimally when I'm not feeling 100%.  I like to give my body the opportunity to focus energy on healing and strengthening my immune system rather than on digesting.  Ever wonder why we lose our hunger when we're sick?  It's a signal to hunker down and rest so we can regain balance.  Dr. Joel Fuhrman goes into this topic in his book Fasting and Eating for Health.  Fasting is really misunderstood in the Western world.  As with all of Dr. Fuhrman's books, I think that this should be required reading for anyone interested in healthy living and anyone interested in researching ways to approach balanced health without  having to rely on drugs and remedies that attempt to hide the symptoms of disease rather than promoting resolution at the source of the disease. Right, enough of that for the minute.  I really want to share this soup recipe with you because it is an example of something that we can do to support our health in a simple nutrient dense way.  Whats even better is that this is a hearty, earthy soup that we can serve anytime. Why these ingredients?  Well, what I've learned over the years is that there are some super immune boosting foods that are truly helpful when we're battling the old cold.  Most of the players in this pot should be familiar to you.  The newbie is likely astragalus or milk vetch.  The root is the part of this plant that we're interested in using.  It is popular in Chinese herbal medicine and is known for its ability to stimulate immune function and fighting infection... respiratory infection in particular (the main reason I'm using it in this pot of soup.)  I also use it to make tea and sprinkle on things that can take a little earthy dust.  On it's own, you'll find it to be a pale greenish powder that is a little bit sweet and a little bit earthy.  I encourage you to research herbs before you use them.  If in doubt about herb safety for you and your health situation, please connect with an herbalist or practitioner who can advise you specifically. Garlic and onion are also known for stimulating white blood cells and boosting immune function.  The reason I went a bit wild with the garlic in this soup is because of the immune focus.  If you're not fighting off a sickness and want to cut back on the garlic you can adjust to suit your tastes.  I'll say that my 2 little boys each had 2nd helpings of this garlicky version... so you should know that the garlic isn't at all offensive or sharp. Millet is rich in vitamin E.  The carrots, squash and kale bring beta carotene goodness.  Lentils add zinc.  All in all, we're talking about a pot of good for us goodness here. Immune boosting Garlic Lentil Soup Garlic Lentil Soup 1 onion, diced 6 cloves of garlic, rough chopped 2 celery stalks, finely chopped 3 carrots, rough chunked 1 lb butternut squash, diced (if you can’t get fresh squash try frozen!) 1 Tbsp astragalus (mountain rose herbs is where I get my bulk herbs) 4 leaves kale 1/2 cup brown lentils ½ cup millet 3 cups cooked white beans (homemade or 1 large can, rinsed and drained) 8 cups water or homemade stock 1 tablespoon miso (I like Golden Millet Miso) salt and pepper to taste What you need: stock pot; Vitamix, food processor, stick blender or elbow grease! Let’s start by get our foundational flavors in the pot.  Saute your onion, garlic and celery in a bit of the broth until tender and fragrant. While that’s working for you, add the carrots, squash, astragalus powder and kale to your vitamix or food processor with a few cups of broth.  Whiz these guys until smooth.  If you don’t have a machine that can do this using raw veg my recommendation is to cook the carrots, squash and kale in the broth in a separate pot until they are soft, then puree with a stick blender of mash well with a fork or potato masher and then add to the onions, garlic and celery. Once the veggies are pureed we’re going to add them to the onions, garlic and celery.  The puree is an earthy color that is a greeny orangey brown.  It’s not going to win a beauty pagent, but it is going to taste good! Let’s stir in the lentils, millet, beans and remaining stock.  Once everyone is in the pot, cover and simmer for about 35 minutes until the lentils are cooked but not mushy. To finish things up, you’re going to take about ½ cup of the hot soup out of the pot and put it in a small bowl with the miso paste.  Mix the paste into the soup until it is well incorporated, then add the miso and soup mixture into the soup pot and stir to combine.  Before serving, taste the soup and adjust seasoning as needed with a bit of salt and pepper.


Crunchy Carrot Salad

Lunch today was something wonderful. Sweet, sour, crunchy, chewy, spicy, mild, creamy and crispy ALL on one plate! How, you ask, is it possible to have such variety? As with most things I make, this was quick and easy… start to finish, we're talking about 10 minutes. I think that a raw food focus makes quick, healthy eating very accessible. Cooked foods are great too! As with everything in life, there's a need for balance. For me, that means balancing raw foods with cooked foods. That's how I can make a healthy 10 minute lunch with such great texture and flavor. These were the components of my lunch: Carrot = Sweet and mild Rice Vinegar and ginger = sour and spicy Fried tofu = chewy, creamy and crispy Chia and Millet = crunchy Tomato Coconut Sauce = mild, creamy and spicy Let's talk about balance. When we're eating something as rich as crispy fried tofu we definitely need something fresh and light to balance things out. In comes the humble carrot. Who doesn't love a carrot?! I often shred or grate carrots and make quick slaws for snack for my kids. My lunch salad took on a new twist and it's worth sharing! Raw chia is a favorite salad topper of mine, but the raw millet is something new. I've used millet as a component of date bars before. I've cooked millet and made killer pilaf before. The revelation today is that a bit of raw millet is a fantastic crunchy addition to salad and slaws and likely many other things! Crunchy Carrot Salad (serves 1) 1 large organic carrot, grated 1 tsp grated ginger – from about ½ inch piece of fresh ginger 1 tsp raw chia seed 2 tsp millet, uncooked Splash of rice vinegar Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss lightly to combine. Raw foods make up 80-90% of what I eat. Focusing on living foods means that things stay simple and fresh. (There is a summary of the basics of what I eat on my About Me page if you're curious.) Eating with a raw, nutrient dense focus gives me a bit of freedom when it comes to the occasional naughty fried food. Crispy fried tofu ends up on my plate maybe once every few months. It's a guilty pleasure, but a tasty one! Tofu isn't something I use much anymore because I don't like eating soy products. There was a time, as a young vegetarian, when I was eating tofu, drinking soymilk, steaming edamame and crunching on soy crisps daily. It was just too much. I wasn't terribly conscious of my soy dependence until I had a few allergic reactions to it. Giving it all up was hard to do, but it made sense and certainly made me feel better! I've been able to phase some soy back into my diet, but it is pretty rare now. When I buy a block of tofu I will use it a few ways during the week that it's in my fridge. Firm tofu freezes well and actually improves texturally for things like baking after it's been frozen. So I find that if I don't use up a block I freeze it and pull it out when I'm in the mood for baked tofu. The block I bought this week has been used in several dishes: I used small cubes of fried tofu on a kale salad, then diced uncooked tofu as part of my egg roll filling, and today the remainder of the block ended up as fried tofu. [caption id="attachment_126" align="alignright" width="300" caption="crispy outside, creamy inside"][/caption] (serves 1) 3 slices of tofu, about ½ inch thick ¼ inch olive oil in a small saucepan Slice and dry the tofu. Heat your oil in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Fry one slice of tofu at a time, turning after a few minutes so that both sides become crisp and golden. Remove the fried tofu and drain on a towel or rack. Repeat with the remaining pieces. Serve hot. Tomato Coconut Sauce (leftover) --- flavor is amazing because it's been sitting in the fridge for a few days. The sauce is thick, creamy and fragrant. I reheated it to serve as a dipping sauce for the crispy tofu. YUM!