Friday, December 31, 2010


My camera lens broke this last week, so I am working with limited material here. It is a shame because I have been cooking up a storm for several catered dinner parties, and would love to share what has come out! I am taking a break as we speak from preparing a Thai New Years Eve dinner for a group of 12 neighbors and friends. I can still smell the lemongrass on my fingers. Yum.

Oh well, it gives me a chance to share my kimchi recipe which I was hesitating to do. This is not a recipe for everyone, in fact, it literally scares Gregg, so I recognize that some of you will be excited while others will be completely uninterested. But maybe, just maybe, you will give it a try and be pleasantly surprised.

I remember when my landlord in Santa Cruz brought over my now kimchi container as a gift and I was so excited at my beautiful new piece for "when we bring soup to a potluck". Gregg looked at me as though I had lost my mind. Turns out I don't actually bring soup to too many potlucks, but now it has grown into a new role of housing saurkraut and kimchi production. Perfect.

Kimchi is a fermented condiment used in Korea. Simular to saurkraut, it contains potent probiotic properties (good bacteria) that aid digestion and help keep our internal flora healthy and ready to protect against foreign invaders. It has a very strong flavor and is meant to be enjoyed in small quantities as a component of larger meals. Completely raw, it is loaded with energetic enzymes, Beta-carotene (which our bodies turn into Vitamin A) and Vitamin C. As a cruciferous vegetable, cabbage has been shown to protect against a wide range of cancers as well as possess the ability to lower cholesterol levels. The remaining ingredients are pretty flexible so feel free to tailor it to your personal taste.

Fermented vegetables typically need 3 weeks to fully process, although they can sit for much longer. Most say that the flavor develops with time and advocate for longer fermentation periods, although I believe it is completely to taste and worth testing at different points.


1 medium head of Napa Cabbage, finely shredded
1 large carrot, grated
1 bunch scallions, finely sliced
6 inch piece of daikon radish, grated
1 inch piece ginger, grated with a microplane
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 small garlic cloves, minced
1 tbs. sea salt

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Fill a large ziploc bag with water and seal tight. Place on top of mixed vegetables and cover with something heavy-ish (to apply downward pressure). Let rest for 15-20 minutes, or until you notice that the vegetables have released their juices and are mostly submerged. If this does not seem to be happening naturally, use a meat hammer to pound the vegetables to encourage them along.

At this point, transfer kimchi to a large bottle with a tight sealing lid (a 1/2 gallon mason jar works well). Press down firmly to submerge the vegetables in their own juices. Cover tightly and store at room temperature for 3 weeks or longer. Once it has reached your optimal flavor, store in the fridge and enjoy a little bit each day.

Save some of the liquid from each batch and use it in the next batch to spur the lacto-fermentation. This way you can use less salt without running the risk of bacteria taking over before the lacto-acid has a chance to build up.

Relax. Eat Well.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sweet Pea Dumplings with Fresh Mint Dipping Sauce

I have been busy in the kitchen this week testing recipes for upcoming holiday events. Despite the endless pile of dishes, I really do enjoy spending the day in sweats and rocking out to christmas pandora while exploring previously unchartered terrain. Even though it does require a bit more recipe following than I usually practice, creativity and personal touches seem to work their way in pretty naturally.

This adorable appetizer origins began on Heidi Swanson's blog Keeping the basic idea the same, I tweaked some ingredients and techniques and found a dipping that paired beautifully. Appetizers are usually a little high maintenance for my style, but for special occasions, this is well worth the effort. The most tedious step is the rolling and layering, but take your time because the presentation pays off. Make sure to give each dumpling plenty of room in the steamer as they will quickly stick together when cooling, resulting in a sad mess of your hard work if overlapping.

The edamame in the filling offers high quality protein and fiber, while the ricotta and parmesan create a luxurious richness without being heavy. With a touch of lemon zest, the result is fresh, light and flavor packed. I loved this fresh mint dipping sauce as well, which contains no oil or salt, and compliments the peas beautifully.

A quick tip on lemon zest before I dish out the recipe: even if your recipe doesn't call for it, zest your citrus with a microplane or zester and freeze it in a ziplock bag for later use. This way you always have some zest in a pinch to brighten up sauteed vegetables, dressings, sauces and salads. Although the white pith is actually packed with bioflavanoids, it also tends to be bitter, so stick to the colorful outer layer using lighter strokes, unless using therapeutically.

Sweet Pea Dumpling with Fresh Mint Dipping Sauce

Makes about 30 dumplings


2 cups (about 10 ounces) cups frozen peas
½ cup shelled edamame
2/3 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 tsp. fine grain sea salt

1 small shallot, minced
1/3 cup grated high-quality Parmesan

zest of one large lemon
ground pepper
a dash of nutmeg
1 package of spring roll wrappers

Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add the peas and edamame and cook until bright green in color, about a minute.
Drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking.

Pulse the peas, edamame, ricotta, olive oil, and salt in a food processor to a a chunky puree. Add the shallots, Parmesan, lemon zest, pepper and nutmeg and pulse a few more times. Taste and add more salt if needed.

To roll the dumplings, cut each wrapper in half on the diagonal to create two triangles. Drop a tablespoon of filling in the center and wet the two sides with a quick swipe of water. From the most obtuse angle, toll wrapper up, trapping the filling inside. Next fold each side over and wrap as you flip the dumpling, crossing the tips on the opposite side and pressing to seal. See pictures to the left for a visual aid. I tried several different rolling techniques and this was my favorite, but by all means, feel free to be creative to reach the size and presentation you most fancy.

I like these dumplings best steamed, but you can pan fry them as well in a tad of olive oil for a crisp golden case. If steaming, set up your steamer (bamboo works nicely) and arrange the dumplings in a single layer, being careful not to overlap. Steam for about three minutes - until the dumplings are tender and translucent. Sprinkle with a touch of salt and serve with Mint Dipping Sauce.

Fresh Mint Dipping Sauce

1 cup fresh mint leaves
2 dates, pitted
serrano chile, minced, to taste
fresh lemon juice, to taste
zest of one lemon
olive oil (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend thoroughly. Start with a small amount of minced serrano and add more to taste, as they can vary substantially in heat. Thin sauce with water or olive oil to reach desired consistency. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Blueberry Walnut Muffins

I recently realized that as the daylight slowly wanes, it is more and more difficult to capture cooking moments in natural light. That is my excuse for slacking, take it or leave it.

It has been a busy month filled with major house progress (roofing, plumbing, electrical... insulation and sheet rocking happen next week!) as well as more than a few hours split between the kitchen and the woodshop. I did finally finish one project though and am now a proud owner of one open shelving unit. Next up, a 36 incher and FINISHING THE ISLAND. If I announce it, it'll happen, right? I am also creating a few lighting fixtures out of salvaged materials and mason jars.... which means the "living room" has been converted into a "pile of ongoing projects". It will come together at some point, I swear.

Anywho, I made these muffins at work yesterday for a quick and easy breakfast with scrambled eggs. I like that they use a coconut flour base, which leaves them gluten-free without feeling forced. I did use xanthan gum, which is often used in gluten-free baking to add a certain starchy quality, but if you do not have any, try omitting it (and let me know how it works out!) They also happen to be vegan, using a flax seed slurry and bananas to replace the eggs in the recipe. It is a wonderful way to boost your fiber while binding your muffin together, although you will notice they will not rise much, so go ahead and fill the cups pretty full.

I used frozen Maine blueberries and walnut halves this time, but you could certainly personalize the fruit/nuts based on your freezer supplies or particular whim. I think next time I will try dried pear slivers and pecans for a holiday twist.

Next time I promise a main course post... I am going to test a few recipes this week for upcoming holiday parties I am catering. Any suggestions for fabulous vegetarian dishes you have created (or consumed) over the holiday season? I am all ears...

Blueberry Walnut Muffins
Serves 12

1 cup dried coconut
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. ginger powder
1/2 tsp. salt

2 tbs. flax seeds
1/3 cup water
2 very ripe bananas
3/4 cup water
1 tbs. coconut oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cup walnut halves
1 cup frozen blueberries


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a muffin tin with coconut oil.

Add the dried coconut to a food processor and process to a coarse flour. Mix in the rest of the dry ingredients (through salt) and combine well.

Grind the flax seeds in a spice grinder and mix them with 1/3 cup of water in the food processor until gummy. Add the remaining wet ingredients and blend well.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined, making sure not to overmix. Fold in the walnuts and blueberries.

Fill the muffin tin with the batter (filling each one quite full) and bake for 35-40 minutes.

Relax. Eat Well.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Time is flying by me these days. Wait, no, more like whizzing. I was stunned when I realized how long it had been since the last time I had a moment to sit down and write a blog! My apologies, my friends. However, since the last time I wrote I have completed a week long Cabinets and Built-ins class at Yestermorrow and am on my way to building my new kitchen island, all with the help of a few amazing Yester-friends. Pretty cool. I am now way too excited by the idea of table saws, routers and wood grains. Not a bad new hobby though. Here is what we constructed in class, although we now have two drawers and 3 doors as well, just no picture. I'll make sure to post a picture of the finale when we are all finished.

Anyway, I realized I left you hanging months ago with the edamole recipe that I promised to post in August and then promptly neglected. So here it is, in all of it's green glory. It is the perfect spread for homemade veggie burgers, falafels and makes a beautiful dip served with pita chips or crackers. Popping with the spark of raw garlic, riding smooth with pureed edamame beans and finishing with a lemony tang, it is a truly rich dip.

Edamame as a whole bean is packed with protein, monounsaturated fats and fiber. If you are lucky, you can sometimes find it in the pod at the Farmer's Market in the summer, but this time of the year you will probably find it in the freezer section. Make sure to check that it is a non-GMO and organic source, as soybeans are, unfortunately, a commodity crop in the US these days and often compromised by science and synthetic pesticides. Save yourself some time and buy the shelled version for this recipe.

The raw garlic is perfect for this time of year as a powerful immune booster, due to the compound allicin, which develops as garlic is crushed and exposed to oxygen. A true medicine in and of itself.

Simple, stunning, and delicious, it doesn't get much better than that!

Serves  6

10 oz. package edamame, thawed
1 large garlic clove, minced
juice of one lemon, freshly squeezed
1/2 tsp. salt
dash of cayenne or hot sauce (to taste)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
freshly ground pepper to taste
cayenne or paprika for garnish

Blend all ingredients in a large food processor until smooth. Sprinkle with cayenne or paprika for a nice contrasting garnish.

Relax. Eat Well.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Living Fudge

For those of you with a sweet tooth, especially a chocolate one, this post is for you. Well, to be fair, for a dessert these chunks of magic aren't terribly sweet. They will, however, tease your tongue with a touch of sugar, loads of deep cocoa flavor and plenty of rich coconut. The perfect finale to a special meal, this fudge is as unique as it is satisfying.

The kicker is that they actually contain live Alfalfa sprouts. Sprouts for dessert????? Yes my friends, it's true. Believe me, you will never know you are consuming little bursts of enzymatic wonder all while enjoying a decadent treat. In my friend Lylee's words, they are little piles of joy.

I recommend growing your own sprouts for this recipe. It is amazingly simple, and believe me, you will get addicted. There is nothing like watching a plant come to life in your kitchen, I swear it actually breathes life into the room.

Here is what you need:

2 tbs. of alfafa, radish or clover sprout seeds (you can find these at your local health food store, often in bulk)
1 quart size mason jar

Place the sprout seeds in the clean mason jar, fill with water to cover the seeds, fit a piece of cheesecloth on top and screw on the ring to secure (or use a rubber band).  Leave to soak overnight. In the morning, dispose of the water, fill and rinse once more, shake dry and leave to drain upside down (in a bowl or sink drainer). Continue to rinse morning and night, leaving inverted to drain in between, until your sprouts have reached the desired size. Sprouts should begin to appear within 1-2 days, and are usually done within 3-4. 

It is possible to sprout whole grains, nuts and seeds with the same process. Basically, you are bringing a dormant seed to life, and growing the start of a leaf stalk in your jar. Because of this special moment in the plant's life, when it is fighting to establish itself and survive, sprouts are extremely concentrated in certain protective nutrients (antioxidants) such as vitamin A and C, magnesium and chlorophyll (varying depending on the plant). To boot, the enzymatic activity is sky high. 

A few notes about the recipe before I begin. To make this a truly raw recipe use raw cacao powder. If you are a cheater (like I was last time), go ahead and make it with regular cocoa powder. Agave is a nice neutral sweetener with slightly malty notes, but it would be fun to experiment with raw honey or maple syrup as well. Be flexible with your sprouts too, clover sprouts are really nice as well. 

Living Fudge

3 cups shredded dried coconut
1/2 cup raw (or regular) cocoa powder
1/3 cup agave nectar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup alfalfa sprouts

In a large food processor, combine everything but the sprouts. and pulse until well blended. Add the sprouts and process until a large clump forms. At this point, you can press the fudge into a baking pan  to cut into traditional cubes, or press it into mini-muffin or tart pans for a more elegant presentation. Chill to harden. Serve with fresh, colorful fruit.

Relax. Eat Well.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fall Flavors

I have to say, as far as flavors go, fall is my season. Dark and malty beers dominate the breweries, winter squash line the farmer's markets and apples seem to find their way into every meal, breakfast, dinner and dessert. Although it marks the impending doom of cold feet and icy driveways, fall is a true celebration of the harvest in all of it's glory. As a foodie, that means culinary heaven.

And so inspired by the earth's bounty, this harvest meal transpired in my kitchen twice last week. It could be served at a Thanksgiving feast or, more appropriately, in September or October, when the apples burst with juice, the green beans grow plump on their vines and heirloom squash dot the fields. If it was past the bean season, I might use hearty kale or swiss chard instead.

Harvest Menu:
Mesclun Salad topped with White Figs, Maple Gingered Walnuts and Shredded Beets in Balsamic Miso Dressing
Wild Rice stuffed Winter Squash
Sauteed Green Beans in Shallot Butter
Herb Baked Tofu

Winter squash is rich with Vitamin A and beta-carotene, two powerful antioxidants which have been shown to help protect against lung cancer in smokers as well as those exposed to second hand smoke. They also boast an impressive amount of potassium and dietary fiber, helping to regulate blood sugar levels while filling the belly. Plus they are absolutely delicious! Try picking up a heirloom variety at your local farmer's market for a new and interesting twist. Buttercup, kabocha, delicata, carnival and turban squash all have unique flavors and textures while holding up well when roasted. Smaller squash often yield thin skins and do not require peeling, since it is tender enough to eat whole. With their buttery texture and earthy flavor, winter squash are a perfect match for the deep comforting winter spices such as nutmeg, clove, cinnamon and cardamon. This recipe creates a spiced oil which is rubbed into the flesh of the squash and then roasted at high heat before being stuffed. The result is heavenly.

The second time I made this meal for a dinner party, I used extra small carnivals and each guest received their own individual stuffed squash. I cut each one like a pumpkin to remove the top and seeds, and served them upright with stuffing inside. It looked great! For a less fussy effect, they are also wonderful served in larger halves.

Wild Rice stuffed Winter Squash
Serves 6

3/4 cup wild rice
3/4 cup brown basmati rice
3 cups vegetable broth, or water

6 extra small or 3 medium squash (see notes above about varieties)
3 tbs. coconut oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 small onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 shallots, minced
1 medium apple, diced
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. sage
1/4 cup currants
1/4 cup pistachios, toasted and chopped


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Put both rices and stock (or water) in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a very low simmer, cover and cook until all of the liquid has been absorbed, about 35-45 minutes.

In the meantime, cut into the squash (from the top like a pumpkin if using very small individual serving squash or in half if using larger ones) and remove the seeds and pulp. Combine 2 tbs. of coconut oil and the salt, allspice, cinnamon and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Place the bowl in the oven for a few minutes until oil has melted. Using a pastry brush, brush the inside of the squash with the spiced oil to create a generous coat. Place the squash upside down on a cookie sheet and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until quite soft when pierced with a fork and beginning to brown. Set aside.

To prepare the stuffing, heat the remaining tbs. of coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the onions until soft and golden, for about 5 minutes. Add the celery, shallots and apple and continue to saute for another 3 minutes. Add the thyme, sage and currants and cook for one more minute. Deglaze the pan with a touch of water. Mix in the prepared rice and salt to taste.

To serve, stuff each squash with wild rice filling and top with chopped pistachios.

Relax. Eat Well.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fresh Juice Cleanse

Last week I embarked on a week long fall juice cleanse. It was quite the journey. To be quite honest, it wasn't quite the roller coaster I expected. No huge fluctuations in energy, crazy cravings or bouts of hunger. A few times I felt like I was dragging a little, and sometimes I would get that rumbling in my tummy, but for the most part it passed quickly and I went right on my merry way.

I like to do a cleanse when the seasons change, it helps clean out my systems and bring my body back into equilibrium so it can embrace the next season and the changing ingredients that come along with it. It allows the filtering organs (such as the kidneys, liver, gall bladder and colon) the chance to take and break, undergo a deep clean and recharge their batteries, resulting in better efficiency and less stagnant waste. It may seem like some hippy-dippy weirdo idea, but I guarantee it does make a difference and can benefit anyone, especially those fighting illness. Just ask Ghandi, he partook in cleansing fasts on a regular basis.

It has been a week now since I ended, but I have continued to make juices to supplement my diet all week in an effort to ease my way back. It is the perfect time of year for a cleanse, with the tomatoes bursting off their veins, fresh kale and chard shooting up and fall apples begging to be juiced. Just look at that collection of colors, not a bad lunch, right?? A week later, I am feeling light and springy, but happy to be reunited with warm soups and hot meals! I think that I might pick one day per week to do a mini-cleanse on a weekly basis though, to help maintain the benefits. Monday maybe?

During the cleanse, I usually did two juices at once, in order to save some time and energy. I have a heavy duty Champion juicer and I highly recommend it. Sometimes you can find good deals on used machines, and they are build to last so it is worth searching around. Sometimes I will just throw together anything I have on hand, but when I was planning it out last week I got into the habit of making a green and a red juice. They look so vibrant and appealing that way, which helps when juice is the only thing your taste buds have to look forward to!

Ingredients for red juice:

red chard
chili pepper

Ingredients for green juice:

yellow tomatoes

Let me know if you get inspired and decide to go on a cleanse yourself! They recommend 6-10 days, as well as a few transition days focused on raw fruits and vegis on either end. I would love to answer any questions that come up if you feel like you might enjoy some support!

Relax. Eat Well.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Miso Eggplant and Chard Salad

I just met with Barry from New England Kitchen Depot for the first time and my head is now spinning with thoughts of kitchen layouts, stainless steel and storage space. I never thought I would spend so much time understanding the ventilation system of a hood or the three-sink requirements for a commercial kitchen (as well as how to get around all the regulations!).

So I haven't officially mentioned it before because I didn't want to jinx the process, but Gregg and I are now SERIOUSLY building a house, commercial kitchen and all. CRAZY. We staked out the floor plan last sunday and excavation starts next weekend. CRAZY. Don't ask me how it happened, but it is...... Morgage and property tax, here we come!

When all is said and done we will hopefully have a cute little country home with a modest commercial kitchen where I can create my CSK (community supported kitchen) meals, as well as offer cooking classes and complete small catering gigs. uummm... CRAZY! It is like I am dreaming, except that it is becoming a reality before my very eyes.

Anyway, back to the juicy stuff (food), I prepared this Miso Eggplant and Chard Salad along with a Smoky Corn Risotto last week and brought it down to a neighbor (and friend) I prepare meals for on a weekly basis. I am not sure I ever got her reaction, but I loved it!!! A wonderful vegetable side dish that could easily become the center of attention tossed with a whole grain and a few cubes of marinated tofu. I hope you all enjoy it as well, and I would love to hear your impressions if you try it at home!

Miso is a powerful immune booster due to it's live beneficial bacteria, similar to yogurt or saurkraut. It adds a depth to sauces and soups while imparting a nice salty punch. This recipe works well with a variety of other hardy greens, such as kale or spinach, if you are not a chard aficionado. I have also tossed in summer squash (where don't you try and hide it this time of year?) and winter squash to the roasting team, which amps up the color and texture diversity. Be creative and adapt it to your tastes and seasonal garden bounty.

Miso Eggplant and Chard Salad

Serves 6 as a side


2 medium eggplants, cubed

2 tbs. olive oil

salt and pepper

3 tbs. balsamic vinegar

2 tbs. toasted sesame oil

1 tbs. brown rice vinegar

1 tbs. agave

1 tbs. red or barley miso

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 large bunch Swiss chard, sliced in strips

2 tbs. green onion, sliced


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Toss the eggplant with the oil in a large bowl and spread on two baking sheets in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes or until tender and beginning to brown, stirring half way through.

In the same bowl, combine balsamic vinegar through garlic and whisk to combine, making sure the miso is dissolved. Set aside.

In a large pot, bring 8 cups of water to a boil and add the chard. Stir until just wilted, about one minute. Drain in a large colander and rinse with cold water. Squeeze to remove as much liquid as possible. Add chard to the bowl with the vinaigrette and toss to separate the leaves (use your hands if necessary). Add the eggplant, stir and set aside to let the flavors marry together for about half an hour. Garnish with green onions. This dish can be served at room temperature or chilled, depending on your preference.

Relax. Eat Well.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Amaranth Porridge

Breakfast is quite possibly my favorite meal of the day. It seems like I get in grooves with my morning meals and will eat the same thing everyday for a month before I move on to something new. And I love every minute of it. I could never do that with dinner, I need total variety at my other meals, but breakfast is different. Usually it is something easy to prepare, a tad sweet and definitely flecked with ground flax seed. In the summer it might be a fresh fruit smoothie with almond milk and golden flax seeds. In the winter it might be a hot cinnamon multigrain cereal with big chunks of banana.

Lately it has been a gingerbread inspired amaranth porridge sweetened with a generous drizzle of molasses and a splash of vanilla almond milk. While I was in California I sent my mom a canister of the dry mix with instructions for finishing it off, and that is the recipe I am including today. It is easy to make the mix in bulk to have in the pantry for the week. If you are like me and eating it every day, go ahead and make a batch for the week and keep it in the fridge so you can heat up a single serving each morning for a super easy start. Just make sure to keep the flax separate (ground in your freezer) to stir in last minute once it is off the heat, as their volatile oils go rancid quite easily when heated or exposed to oxygen for too long.

Amaranth is an small ancient grain native to South America. It cooks up quickly (10-15 minutes) and has a nice gooey consistency, which is why it lends well to a morning porridge. I also like to throw in 1/2 a cup or so when cooking rice for a fun variation. It is a non-glutenous grain, making it easy to digest, and rivals quinoa in its protein content. A high quality protein, it contains a wide range of amino acids including lysine, one that is lacking in more commonly consumed grains such as wheat. It is also impressively rich in iron, calcium and magnesium.

Spiced Amaranth Porridge Mix

Serves 6


2 cups amaranth

¼ cup shredded coconut

¼ cup raisins

¼ cup date sugar or raw cane sugar

½ tsp. freshly ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp. freshly ground cloves (about 10 cloves)

1/8 tsp. ground ginger


Mix all ingredients and store in the freezer until using. To prepare, mix 1/3 cup mix with 1 1/3 cups water or almond milk and ½ tsp. vanilla. Simmer over low heat for 10-15 minutes, until it reaches your desired consistency. Place in a bowl and top with a few tablespoons of ground flax seed, a dash of vanilla almond milk, a sprinkle of salt and a drizzle of blackstrap molasses.

Relax. Eat Well.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Chilled Avocado Soup with Corn Relish

I love a good bowl of soup. Especially in the winter time when I can cozy up close, wrap my fingers and hug the bowl, letting the vapor kiss my cheeks. In the summer, when the heat is not so scarce, a cold soup can serve the same purpose, countering my internal furnace with some much appreciated chill factor.

This soup boasts a creamy consistency thanks to summer's ripe avocados, a sultry smokiness from the chipotle chili powder and a pleasant crunch of the occasional golden corn kernel. The lovely oleic monounsaturated fats from the avocado allow it to act as an entree soup, giving it a rich and satisfying mouth feel as well as some substance in your belly. This same lipid has been proven to help lower cholesterol, and paired with avocado's high levels of potassium and folate, it makes this delicious creamy vegetable a heart-health superstar. Enjoying your vegetables has never been so easy.....

Serve with a hearty multigrain bread and a bright carrot salad to round out the meal. Last night we enjoyed it with a wheat-free flatbread topped with an edamame spread and it was delicious. If this looks good to you, feel free to anxiously await the recipes later this week...

Chilled Avocado Soup with Corn Salsa
Serves 12
2 small tomatillos, husked and rinsed, chopped
1 large serrano chile, seeded and chopped
1 medium white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
6 cups light vegetable stock
¼ cup lime juice
1 large cucumber, peeled and chopped
4 large ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 ear of corn, kernals cut off
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste

2 ears sweet corn, shucked
2 Tbs fresh lime juice
1 ripe red tomato, seeded and cut into¼-inch dice
¼ cup minced red onion
1 serrano pepper, seeded and minced
2 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro
1/8-1/4 tsp. chipotle chili powder
salt and pepper, to taste

Add the tomatillos, serrano, onion, garlic, and 2 cups stock to a soup pot. Bring to a simmer for 5 minutes, until the tomatillos start to soften. Place saucepan in a ice bath to cool quickly.
Add the lime juice, avocados, cucumber, corn, cilantro and spices to a blender and blend until smooth. Add the cooled mixture from the saucepan. Put back in the fridge to completely chill.
To prepare the salsa, cut the kernals of corn off of the cob into a bowl. Add the rest of the salsa ingredients and taste for seasoning. Adjust if necessary and set aside.
To serve, take the soup out of the fridge and season to taste. Adjust any flavors if necessary. Ladle into small bowls and garnish with the corn salsa.

Relax. Eat Well.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Summer Wheat Berry Salad

I hate to start off with an apology, but I do feel a bit neglectful not having written in so long. We had a long and wonderful journey home, filled with loads of camping, climbing, marathon driving, one-pot meals and beautiful sunsets. It was the kind of trip that you look back on with a smile, as you sip your hot coffee and appreciate your clean feet. But we are back, and excited for the next chapter in the Upper Valley of New Hampshire and Vermont.

I always like to bring a dish when invited to a gathering, especially when I know the majority of the people there aren't so plant-based. It is a fun way to share my style of eating, and guarantees I will have something to enjoy without the hosts having to worry about accommodating my diet. This week we have been eating with family quite a bit, and this was the dish I brought for Gregg's mom's birthday celebration.

It was inspired by the golden wheat berries I found at Waitsfield's farmers market on Saturday, as well as the flavors of my mother's herb and vegetable garden I have been pillaging since being home. It involves both a fresh basil pesto as well as a quick balsamic vinaigrette, which soak into the wheat berries nicely for a flavorful bite. I enjoy the pop that comes with each mouthful of wheat berry, but you could substitute another grain as well, such as farro, spelt or an interesting wild rice mixture for a gluten free option. All provide ample fiber as they are unprocessed whole grains containing both the bran and germ. This salad will leave you satisfied if enjoyed as the main course with a leafy green salad, or as a side dish to anything off of the grill.

Summer Wheat Berry Salad

Serves 6 as a main course or 12 as a side dish


2 cups wheat berries

2 cups basil leaves

½ bunch kale, blanched (optional)

2 tbs. olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

¼ cup raw walnuts

1 tbs. lemon juice

1 tbs. nutritional yeast

1/8 tsp salt

3 tbs. balsamic vinegar

2 tbs. olive oil

½ tsp. honey

Salt to taste

freshly ground pepper

½ cup currants

2 tbs. pine nuts, toasted (optional)

2 summer squash

2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved


If possible, soak the wheat berries in enough water to cover overnight. Rinse, drain and place in a medium saucepan covered with water or stock. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until they are soft but maintain a pop. If unsoaked, increase cooking time to 90 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.

To prepare pesto, add basil leaves, kale (if using), olive oil, garlic, walnuts, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, salt and a few grinds of black pepper to a food processor and pulse until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. Taste and adjust seasonings.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining olive oil with the balsamic vinegar, honey, salt and pepper.

Place cooked wheat berries in a large bowl. Add currants, pine nuts and cherry tomatoes. Using a peeler, slice the summer squash into ribbons and run your knife through them several times to make bite size pieces. Add to the bowl with the small bowl of balsamic dressing and toss to coat. Add half the pesto, toss and taste. Continue to add pesto until you reach your desired flavor. Season to taste.

*This salad can be served immediately, or made earlier in the day and refrigerated until serving. The wheat berries do tend to absorb the dressing nicely with a little time to rest and marry together.

Relax. Eat Well.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Homemade Energy Bars

Preparing for our second cross-country voyage, I whipped up a batch of my Quinoa Breakfast Bars, which also double as homemade energy bars. It is always nice to have a wholesome, homemade snack on hand when you are on the road for weeks on end and at the mercy of convenience stores, dehydrated mixes, and packaged provisions. Replacing Clif, Luna and the crew, they survive well in the car without refrigeration for a week or so, and pack an impressive load of fiber, high-quality protein, healthy fats and vitamins into a small package. Made from quinoa flakes, a non-glutenous grain containing all of the essential amino acids, I feel good about eating these for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

These portable bars can be formed into a variety of shapes and sizes to meet your personal needs. I like to make some into small balls or cubes for snacks and some into larger rectangular bars to pack for a quick lunch on the trail. I am providing you with the base of the bars, and letting you own the final flavor, but not without a few suggestions of course. This time I made a full batch of the base and then split it in half, adding pistachios and dried cranberries to one and peanut butter and raisins to the other. In the past, I have done fresh grated ginger with dried cherries, as well as cocoa powder and dark chocolate chips, both wonderful. The amounts are completely to taste... since the whole thing is raw, you can start small, taste, and add more until you reach your optimal flavor.

Here are a few more ideas to inspire future batches:

Lemon Zest and Poppy Seeds

White Chocolate Chip and Macadamia Nuts

Chai Spice (Cinnamon, clove, ginger, vanilla and a touch of nutmeg)

Dried Blueberry and Cashew

Quinoa Breakfast Balls

To simplify the ingredient list you can decide to choose just one nut, and either dates or prunes, simply keeping the total amount the same.


6 tbs. raw cane sugar

1 tsp. agave or honey

1/4 cup shredded coconut

1/4 cup chopped raw walnuts

¼ cup chopped raw almonds

4 pitted dates

8 prunes

¼ tsp. salt

2 tbs. freshly ground flax seed

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

2 cups quinoa flakes

2-4 tbs. water

Additional flavorings of choice (ex. ½ cup pistachios and ½ cup dried cranberries, ¼ cup chocolate chips and 1 tbs. cocoa powder, 1/2 cup dried cherries and 2 tsp. ginger, etc.) See notes above.


In a food processor, add sugar through ground flax seeds and pulse until well chopped. Add melted coconut oil and blend until thoroughly mixed and gathering into a ball. Place mixture in a large bowl and stir in remaining ingredients until well blended. Using clean hands, shape dough into balls, bars or cubes.

Relax. Eat Well.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

California Sunshine Burger

An indispensable burger recipe is an essential element for any summer time cookout. After several frustrating experiences trying to develop a patty that upholds the core characteristics of structural integrity, firm consistency, wholesome ingredients and, of course, delicious flavor, I finally found my man. I introduce to you: The California Sunshine Burger. Smoky and earthy with a subtle sensitive side, this patty will not leave you disappointed.

It is a breeze to throw together, while vegan and gluten-free to boot! The black-eyed peas offer a certain creaminess as well as an impressive fiber boost, and the flax seeds bind it all together, while contributing a heart-healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids. I have not explored other beans, but I suspect other small beans would fit in quite nicely (think adzuki, anasazi or pinto). I prefer to sprout my seeds when I have the time, as it renders them easier to digest and chock full of active enzymes. Planning out your weekly menus allows for this type of foresight, as the process itself is quite simple.

Top it off with a buttery avocado and smear of chipotle ketchup and you are made in the shade. Sit down, relax and enjoy.

Black Eyed Pea and Chipotle Burgers

Serves 8

You can freeze these burgers for an easy grab-and-go lunch, simply wrap in wax paper and freeze individually.


1 cup raw sunflower seeds, (sprouted, optional)

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 scallions, chopped

2 cups cooked black eyed peas

1 chipotle pepper, rehydrated in water

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon cumin

1 Tablespoon tomato paste

1 Tablespoon vegan worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon tamari

2 Tablespoons flaxseed, ground mixed with 2 Tablespoons water

¼ cup masa harina (cornmeal)

1 avocado, sliced

1 large tomato, sliced

8 whole-grain burger buns

¼ cup chipotle ketchup (ketchup mixed with a few teaspoons of the chipotle soaking water)


If sprouting sunflower seeds, soak in filtered water for 6 hours the day before. That night, rinse and drain seeds, and leave them inverted at a 45 degree angle in a jar covered with a sprouting screen or cheesecloth. Rinse and drain again the next morning, and leave inverted until ready to use. If not sprouting, skip this step altogether.

Blend sunflower seeds in a food processor until ground. Remove half of them and set aside. Add garlic and scallions and pulse until ground. Add rinsed peas, chipotle (reserve soaking water), oregano, cumin, tomato paste, worcestershire, and tamari and blend well, stopping to scrape the sides as needed.

Remove mixture to a bowl. Stir in flaxseed mixture, masa harina and reserved sunflower seeds. Chill mixture for 30 minutes (or longer).

Take out mixture and form into small burgers (wetting your hands makes this easier). Heat a cast-iron griddle or pan over medium heat and cook burgers until brown on each side, about 10-15 minutes.

Serve with avocado slices, fresh greens, sliced tomato and chipotle ketchup on whole grain buns.

Relax. Eat Well.