Tag Archives: Vegetarian

Squash is the Reason for the Season (and an Excuse to Make Quesadillas)!

butternutsquash_quesadillaThese butternut squash and feta cheese quesadillas made a comeback at my home for dinner recently. They were just as yummy as eva!

In case you’ve never seen the episode on how to make these and two more delicious and easy kid-friendly snacks, here it is!

And here are the recipes to follow yourself!

Thank Heaven for Turmeric Ginger Tea

 

Photo Sep 14, 3 48 31 PMThere’s a heat wave in LA. And this refreshing drink is my saving grace. It is also a bit of an apothecary, as this tea, made with gorgeous golden turmeric and ginger root are both known for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Besides the health benefits, I drink this tea all day, because it is so good! I make it in concentrated batches, and dilute them with water and ice. Though this tea would be wonderful warm as well, with a little almond or coconut milk. I know the black pepper is kind of a weird ingredient in this recipe. The simple answer is that black pepper helps the body absorb turmeric. I didn’t want to bog down this blog post with a lot of healthy talk – but there’s plenty of information on the internet about how super healthy these ingredients are and why.

Now onto the recipe.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2-1 tspn turmeric powder, or freshly grated turmeric
  • About 1 inch chunk of peeled and sliced ginger root
  • A few dashes of black pepper
  • Honey to taste


PREPARATION:

Combine the water, turmeric, ginger and black pepper in a pot. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for about 10 minutes. Let cool slightly, add honey to taste. Pour the concentrate through a tea strainer into a container, such as a mason jar. For a cold drink, add a little of the concentrate to cold water (ice optional). It’s really up to you to choose the water to tea ratio. I make it with about a quarter cup of tea to 1 ¾  cups of water. Once the concentrate has cooled, you may store it in the fridge. One large mason jar lasts me a couple of days, and then I quickly make more. Sip and enjoy!

Photo Sep 14, 3 51 25 PM

Just the Right Spice Makes this Veggie Burger So Nice

Chickpea Cauliflower Patties

This week, I was tantalized by a recipe I stumbled upon on The First Mess, a beautiful blog filled with many wholesome and delicious recipes, and wonderful food photography. The thing that really caught my eye, was the word “Old Bay seasoning” in the title of the recipe. Old Bay seasoning has a dear place in my heart, as my boyfriend turned me onto it, and then then I discovered it in my Christmas stocking from him that winter. :) It is great on roasted potatoes, eggs, beans, and anything with a mild taste (It was originally invented as a crab boil; my boyfriend attests it’s excellent on shellfish as well as chicken).

The photos on the blog were so tantalizing, and I am a sucker for a good veggie burger, plus my friend Stephanie was coming over for dinner this week, and I knew she would love for me to try the recipe out on her.

It is a bit involved. But the directions seemed more complex than the experience making them. Put on some good music, have a lovely beverage to sip on and have fun making these Chickpea & Cauliflower Veggie Patties with Vegan Cashew Lemon Spread. I made some personalizations to the original recipe by adding cayenne and turmeric for added flavor and a healthful boost.

Eating is the greatest reward

 

Chickpea & Cauliflower Veggie Patties with Vegan Cashew Lemon Spread
Makes 4 patties

Patty ingredients:

  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (I used canned)
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 tspn turmeric
  • dash cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • squeeze of lemon juice
salt + pepper to taste, keeping in mind Old Bay is pretty salty
  • 1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons chickpea flour
  • 1/2 of a shallot, chopped (original recipe called for 1/3 cup chopped chives)

Cashew Lemon Spread ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • splash of vinegar (original recipe called for white wine vinegar, I used rice vinegar)
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard (I used hot horseradish mustard)
  • 2 tbsp-1/3 cup filtered water
  • dash cayenne pepper
  • salt to taste

Sandwich ingredients:
Feel free to customize to your taste. I made mine with whole wheat pita bread, sliced cherry tomatoes, avocado and fresh arugula.

* The original recipe called for 1/4 cup chickpea flour and 3 tablespoons oat flour, with the option to use all chickpea flour – which is what I did. But if you’d like to use 3 tablespoons oat flour, you can easily grind oats in a food processor, vitamix or spice grinder to make it. Also, if you don’t have Old Bay seasonings (I’ve seen it sold at Target and Cost Plus World Market fyi), here is the link to make it yourself!

Preparation:

  1. Steam cauliflower florets in a steamer basket over a pot of shallow water for 7-8 minutes.
  2. Remove and run some cold water over it to stop the cooking process.
  3. Dry the florets lightly and place them in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the “S” blade.
  4. Add the chickpeas, garlic, Old Bay seasoning, turmeric, cayenne pepper, olive oil, lemon juice, salt + pepper.
  5. Pulse until you have a meal that clumps together when you squeeze it, trying not to blend up all of the chickpeas.
  6. Put the chickpea and cauliflower mixture into a large bowl, add the chickpea flour and chopped shallots until the ingredients are well mix and the flour is absorbed. Adjust the seasonings accordingly, if needed.
  7. Divide the mix into 4 equal portions and form patties with your hands. (This was my favorite part of not using eggs to form patties – no mess!) Wrap the patties tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
  8. In the meantime, make the cashew lemon spread. In a blender, place the cashews (that have been drained and rinsed), lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, salt, and 2 tablespoons of water.
  9. Blend scraping the sides and adding more water if necessary.
  10. The mixture should be a creamy mayo-like consistency. Place the spread into a container, cover, and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.
  11. Heat the pan over medium high heat, then lower the heat and add some oil in a pan (I used my cast iron pan, but you can certainly use any non-stick pan).
  12. Place a couple of patties in the pan at a time. Flip to the other side once they are lightly browned (this should take a few minutes on each side. Use your spatula to lift and move the patties as they’re browning, to make sure all the underside gets browned. You may keep the patties warm on a parchment lined baking sheet in the oven on a low temperature. I only made two, and kept my unmade patties wrapped in plastic, until they were ready for eating. You can certainly cook them all up at once and reheat as well.
  13. While the patties were cooking, I quickly warmed up pita bread over a medium flame on the stove. This only takes a few seconds – you just have to keep an eye on the pita so as not to burn it.

The first time I made the patties, I cut one patty in half and one pita in half. The second time I made it, I cut the top third of the pita and put an entire patty in. These are options depending on your appetite! It is a lovely, satiating, satisfying meal. Enjoy!

 

She’s So Fresh Watermelon Fresca

watermelon_aqua_fresca3

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I need something other than water to quench my thirst. This cooling watermelon fresca, made with mint and coconut water is hydrating, filling, thirst quenching and really, really yummy. I used the eye ball method to make it, but I’ll try to recreate the experience in a formal recipe.

Ingredients:

  • Watermelon (I used half of a mini watermelon, which was about 2 cups, and made about 2 servings worth. If you use an entire 6-8lb watermelon, you will have many servings worth.)
  • About 1/2 cup coconut water (obviously if you are using more watermelon, use more coconut water)
  • A bunch of mint – I used about 6-10 leaves

Preparation:

  • Cut Watermelon into cubes, toss into blender.
  • Add coconut water and mint leaves and blend.

I really did not find a need to add sweetener. The watermelon is plenty sweet. Lime juice would be a nice addition either as a garnish or in the actual drink.

And since it’s Friday morning, and happy hour somewhere, make it into a cocktail and add 1-2 oz of vodka!

That’s it! Happy drinking!

My New Favorite Morning Muffins

Muffin

I was attending an all weekend, all day seminar that I wasn’t too excited about. I knew I needed to prepare for my early mornings, with a quick and filling breakfast, full of fiber, protein and good grains that would give me sustained energy. And this whole grain, gluten-free, blueberry, chia seed, flax seed, walnut muffin is what I came up with. I used very little coconut sugar in it. In fact, next time, I would add in a couple of chopped dates for added sweetness. I took a basic recipe and customized it with all of these goodies. That’s sometimes a bit tricky to do with baking, because ingredient proportions need to be exact. My grade school arithmetic skills didn’t fail me this time.

Check out the recipe below:

This recipe made 6 muffins. Simply double it for a full dozen. Easy to freeze and defrost!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Dash cinnamon and cardamon (optional)
  • 1/4 cup oats (can use gluten free oats if you prefer)
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (or any of your favorite nuts)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted (can substitute with oil)
  • 1/4 cup cream (can substitute something lighter if you prefer)
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup blueberries (frozen are best, but fresh work too, and you can also use raspberries)
  • Optional: a couple of chopped dates

Directions:

  1. Place 6 muffin liners into a muffin tin. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the wet ingredients. In a larger bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (but not the berries). Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined (do not beat). Finally, add the berries and briefly mix again.
  3. Divide the mixture between the 6 muffin liners (I like to use a big ice cream scoop to do this) and bake for 20-25 minutes until the muffins are golden brown and set in the middle (If a toothpick comes out clean, they are ready). Leave the muffins in the tin on a cooling rack for 5 minutes, and then loosen carefully with a knife before turning out to cool completely.

 

DIY Carrot Ginger Dressing

I spent my late teens and early twenties consuming so much carrot ginger dressing, that my clothing and hair smelled of it. It was served at dirt cheap venues throughout the East Village in Manhattan, where I lived. Eventually, I wanted nothing to do with it. Now, *cough cough* years later, I suddenly got a hankering for it. So, I decided to give making it a try, and I have to say, it tastes much better than I remember! It had a bite, a perfect amount of nuttiness and tartness, and I think I have a favorite newfound/vintage dressing!

Carrot Ginger Dressing 2
Here’s the recipe that inspired me. And here’s what I did, based on my personal taste preference, and the ingredients that I had in my fridge and pantry:

Ingredients:

  • 1 shallot, roughly chopped
  • 1 big chunk of ginger (about an inch)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • About 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • About 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • About 1/8 cup olive oil
  • A dash or two of Salt, Pepper and Cayenne Pepper
  • About 1-2 tablespoons water, to desired consistency

Directions:

Combine all ingredients but the water in a food processor or powerful blender. After everything is blended, add 1 tablespoon water. If you desire a runnier dressing, add another tablespoon of water.

I added the carrot ginger dressing to a salad I made with a couple of chopped radishes, a few slices cherry tomatoes, a chopped Persian cucumber, chopped hard boiled egg, a quarter avocado, sprinkled with crumbled feta cheese and toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

photo 4Carrot Ginger Dressing

Scared of Squash?

If you are equally intimidated by the hard, funny shaped gourds, know that you’re not alone. I didn’t grow up eating or decorating squash or pumpkin, but having lived in the US for over 30 years now, I decided to embrace them as treats and decor, and even tried my hand at my own recipe, featuring an easy to cut one, delicata squash.

I incorporated black beans into my squash stuffing for the protein, and Brussels sprouts and mushrooms for the vegetables. You can certainly customize to your liking. I made them at my boyfriend’s place, and totally forgot to bring over onion, which I think would have deepened the flavors. Three cloves of garlic definitely helped. I also feel it was missing a fresh element. In the future, I may add fresh green onions as garnish, or incorporate a fresh herb into the vegetable sauté, like thyme, and/or make some thyme or green onion infused sour cream to dollop on top. But here’s what I did:

Ingredients:

  • Two delicata squash, halved and de-seeded
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 can black beans (I like to use Eden beans, because they are cooked with Kombu, for added nutrition)
  • About 10 oz Shaved Brussels Sprouts (I used a package of shaved sprouts from Trader Joe’s)
  • About 8-10 Mushrooms, chopped (I used cremini)
  • 1 slice cheddar cheese, sliced into thin pieces and handful shaved Parmeggiano Regiano (Or cheese of your choice)
  • A bit of olive oil for the squash roasting
  • Salt, black pepper, cayenne, smoked paprika, dash of nutmeg (or any herb or seasonings you enjoy)

Herb Infused Sour Cream or Greek Yogurt

  • A few Tablespoons of Sour Cream or Greek Yogurt
  • A big pinch of fresh herbs of your choice (my choice would be thyme, green onions or chives), chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. After you’ve halved (with a good, sharp knife) and gutted your squash, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, a bit of salt and a bit of nutmeg.
  2. Place them face down onto a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes. The squash should be a bit browned and caramelized on the edges. Flip the squash over and let cool slightly. Lower oven temp to 350F.
  3. While squash is baking, sauté onions until translucent on medium heat. Add garlic. When garlic is fragrant, after 1-2 minutes, add shaved Brussels sprouts. Sauté until the sprouts start to brown a bit. Add mushrooms and black beans. Make sure to season a bit more with each addition of ingredients. Continue to sauté on a medium-low heat until the squash is out of the oven, and cooled slightly.
  4. Scoop the sautéed veggies into the squash halves. Top with the cut cheddar and shaved Parmeggiano Regiano.
  5. Place stuffed squash into oven and bake for 5 minutes, or until cheese on top has melted.

And here is my second annual hand at pumpkin carving. Mine is the guy with the stitched mouth. We had a great time making these, and roasting the seeds after!

Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

 

PS Don’t forget, November is actually Movember!

During November each year, the organization, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men’s faces, in the US and around the world. With their Mo’s, these men raise vital awareness and funds for men’s health issues, specifically prostate and testicular cancer initiatives. Let’s raise some awareness and grow them staches, gentlemen!

movember_egg_stache

 

Oh Controversial Coconut Oil – Shall I Love Thee?

coconut_oil

Note: If you get to the bottom of this post, you will find a very yummy recipe!

 

 

 

 

My friend Marieke Klosse-Beeler has a wonderful company, Pamperosity, all about pampering yourself with all natural products. She asked me to share my knowledge in her blog this week about cooking with, as well as the health benefits of coconut oil. She was also kind enough to plug my blog and The Healthy Delectable Web Series, and announce the latest news, my upcoming Cookbook, that I plan to release on kindle later this Fall!

Check out Pamperosity and Marieke’s post about coconut oil HERE!

Coconut Oil went from being the “bad” oil in the 90’s to being hyped as a “cure-all” today.
So, what’s the truth about Coconut Oil?

According to a WebMD article, “Coconut oil contains an unusual blend of short and medium chain fatty acids, primarily lauric (44% ) and myristic (16.8%) acids. It is this unusual composition that may offer some health benefits.”

What does this mean? Because they are smaller, they’re absorbed intact, as opposed to long-chain fats, that have to be broken down in the small intestine.  Smaller and medium-chained fatty acids are delivered directly to the liver to be used for energy.

The other good news is, medium-chain fats don’t store in fat cells to the same extent as long-chain ones. Studies show that medium-chain fats appear to increase calorie burning in the body.

The WebMD article article also states, “Coconut oil, like all saturated fats, should be limited to 7%-10% of calories because it can increase risk for heart disease, according to the AHA and 2010 Dietary Guidelines.”

From my research, coconut oil shouldn’t be replaced with other important oils, such as extra virgin olive oil and grapeseed oils, for our diet, both of which are unsaturated.

Everyone loves a virgin, and according to a 2011 NY Times article, the key to the healthiest variety of coconut oil, is extra virgin. Generally speaking, anything that hasn’t gone through a chemical process is best, and easiest for your body to break down. The “bad fats” are trans fats, which was the proudest of food labels, before gluten free showed up on the market. The lauric acid in coconut oil, (also found in breast milk, by the by) is said to increase levels of good HDL (the good cholesterol). While researchers are skeptical, lauric acid is also said to have possible antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral properties. While there is no scientific evidence to prove it, the natural foods community believes these properties can help weight loss, treat digestive issues, skin problems, and perhaps also viruses, like H.I.V.

As for cooking with coconut oil, it has a wonderful mellow, nutty, slightly sweet flavor, and enhances sautéed and roasted veggies, has a high smoke point, and can withstand hotter temperatures, and makes an excellent substitution for baking with animal fats, such as butter and lard. As I stated in the Pamperosity post, coconut oil lends to an excellent flaky pie crust, makes baked good moist, and makes my favorite latest treat, a magic shell for ice cream sundaes (see recipe below).

It is also an excellent moisturizer for skin and hair.

Whether you air on the side of science, or keep up with the latest in the nutritional world, it seems that coconut oil is definitely good for you, in small amounts.

Homemade Two Ingredient Magic Shell magic-shell-2-james-ransom-for-food52(Recipe adapted, and photo borrowed from Food 52)

This is a simple recipe. All you need is 2 parts oil to 3 parts chocolate. So, for 1 cup of magic shell, you will need:

  • 160 grams (about 1 cup) of good quality chocolate chips
  • 100 grams of coconut oil
  • Pinch of salt (optional)

Directions:

  • Combine chocolate and oil into a microwave safe container. Microwave in 30 second intervals until the chocolate melts. Stir to combine all the flavors. (You can also combine ingredients and melt over low heat in a bowl placed over a pot of simmering water) Allow the mixture to cool slightly, and then pour onto your scoop (or scoops) of ice cream!

Enjoy (in moderation)!!

Quinoa "Grits"

Healthy Quinoa “Grits”

Quinoa "Grits"

One of the curses and blessings of looking at and reading about food all the time, is it makes a gal hungry!

I saw a photo of cheesy grits this morning, and could not get the image out of my mind. It’s Monday. I had an ice cream sundae last night, and I try to keep my diet clean and healthy during the week. Then I got inspired to make a healthier version of the cheesy, grainy creaminess I was craving. Here’s what I did:

I cooked quinoa in salted water. When the water cooked through, I added some olive oil and closed the lid a moment to let it steam through. The olive oil added a nice layer of flavor and also kept the quinoa from sticking to the bottom of the pan. While the quinoa was still hot, I cracked an egg into the pot, and stirred vigorously to let the egg cook through. That added the creaminess I was craving. If you’re nervous about eating raw egg, you can keep the pot over a very low flame on the burner. And finally, to complete the need for a little more salt, fat and cream, I stirred in a small amount of grated Parmesan. So, while it’s not corn, with heaps of butter, cream, and cheese, which I save devouring on special occasions, it did the trick. And then to make it more healthy, I tossed the quinoa “grits” with fresh arugula, tomato and avocado. And the whole thing took me about 20 minutes to prepare, and really only about 5 minutes of active work.

I don’t know if they’re cowboy approved. But it sure made for a healthy and delicious lunch!

Ingredients:
(Serves 2)

  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • About 1/4 cup shaved or grated parmesan
  • salt and black pepper
  • big bunch of arugula
  • 1/2 – 1 whole tomato, cut into quarters
  • 1/2 avocado, cut into chunks

Directions:

  1. Toast the quinoa dry in a pot. When it starts to smell nutty, add water and salt, lower flame and cover for 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Once the water cooks through, turn off the heat, add olive oil and cover pan to steam.
  3. After a minute or two, crack an egg and stir vigorously. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you’re concerned about the raw egg, you can keep the pot over a very low flame while stirring the quinoa and egg mixture.
  4. Stir in parmesan.
  5. Place arugula, tomato and avocado into a bowl. Add quinoa and toss to coat. Taste, and season more to your liking.
Homemade Tomato Sauce

Mmmmm…marinara

Homemade Tomato SauceWanna know the secret to this homemade tomato sauce?

San Marzano tomatoes. When a friend of mine shared the secret to a great tomato sauce is canned San Marzano tomatoes, I made sure to buy a few cans the next time I was at the store. And after researching basic marinara recipes, I realized that this very simple sauce is very easy to make. I bought fresh basil and parsley at my local farmers market. The fresh herbs really infuse the sauce with a lot of dimension. So here’s what I did:

 


Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 24 oz can San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 big bay leaf
  • big bunch of fresh basil, chopped
  • handful fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder, cayenne or red pepper flakes

 

Directions:

  1. Add olive oil to hot medium sauce pan. Add onions and cook over medium heat 2-3 minutes, until translucent.
  2. Lower heat, add garlic, and cook 1 minute.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients, stir, cover pot and simmer for 20-30 minutes. You can just leave it alone, or stir from time to time and check to see if the flavor is developing. Don’t be afraid to use the salt! The tomatoes love it. Go to town with all of the spices – except the cayenne or red pepper. Just a pinch will do, if you like an extra kick. The spice will continue to deepen as the sauce cooks.
  4. Remove the bay leaf, and use an immersion blender to puree the sauce. Or you can leave it alone if you like a chunky sauce.
  5. Serve with your favorite pasta (Tonight, I made quinoa pasta, which is my favorite gluten-free pasta). Top with fresh basil and freshly grated parmesan. Mangia!