Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Arugula, Orange and Fiery Pumpkin Seed Salad

I love salads in the summer, but this particular one just shouts fall. When you start to find juicy oranges at the market, when arugula beats out mesclun and when hot gingery seeds provide that grounding effect we all seek this time of year. It tastes like red maple leaves fallen on a dirt road. Well, (thankfully) not literally.

The dressing is light and sweet with bursts of lemon zest and cilantro, while the greens are a bit spicy, bitter and in your face. I think it is important to strive for some opposites along with some compliments in a dish that combines so many individual ingredients. The orange segments offer a nice juice-factor, but a ripe pear would also compliment with the pumpkin seeds nicely. 

Pumpkin seeds are high in the mineral magnesium, which acts as a natural relaxant in our system. Particularly good for those of us with high blood pressure, heart disease or muscle cramps, magnesium works in conjunction with sodium and potassium to ensure flexible, hydrated cells.  I like to use them in granola and seeded breads as well as salad toppers.

Arugula, Orange and Fiery Pumpkin Seed Salad
Serves 8

1 lb. arugula (or for a less intense salad, use 1/2 lb arugula and 1/2 pound mesclun)
2 oranges
3/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1 tbs. tamari
1 tbs. maple syrup
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
a pinch of cayenne

1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
juice and zest of 2 lemons
1 tsp. mustard
1 tsp. mellow miso
1 tsp. maple syrup
stems from 1 bunch of cilantro, minced
1/4 tsp sea salt, plus more as needed


Cut rind off both oranges and slice each into 8 pieces. Cut each slice in half.

Heat a medium heavy bottom (I like cast-iron) pan over medium heat. Toss in pumpkin seeds, and stir until beginning to brown and becoming fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add tamari, maple syrup, cinnamon, ginger and cayenne and stir to combine. Cook for an additional minute or so, until liquid is evaporated, and remove from heat.

To make dressing, combine all ingredients in a blender. Season to taste with salt. 

To assemble the salad, toss the arugula with 1/2 cup of salad dressing. Test and add more dressing to reach desired taste. Place salad in individual bowls, top with orange segments and pumpkin seeds and serve immediately.

Relax. Eat Well.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Chocolate Cashew Truffles

This is another one of the posts without the best visuals, but you will have to be patient. My cameras drowned in the flood a few weeks ago, so I am without capturing abilities for a bit. Except for my words and your imaginations, so lets work with those for now.

These past few weeks have been a true test of spirits, not only for my family, but for my entire community. And what an amazing community has shown up to play, in so many ways, from so many corners: I feel nothing but blessed.  SO much thanks and love to you all.  For those of you who were also affected by good ol' Irene, I hope that you have been able to find your place of security in this shattering experience. For me, it has been an opportunity to re-evaluate what I attach myself to, identify with, and rely on in order to find my place of shelter in this space and time I call home. Not an easy road, but worthy none the less.

But back to chocolate. These truffles benefit from the rich density of pureed tree nuts, without having a distinctly "nutty" flavor. Although they can be tinted with a variety of flavors, they always manage to satisfy my cravings for true CHOCOLATE (I am a girl, ok?), while avoiding those annoyingly obvious healthy undertones found in some of my desserts. I promise, these will be a crowd pleaser no matter who you are surrounding yourself with these days. I might even bring some down to the construction crew sometime soon. Ok, that might be a going a bit too far. 

I hope this week you indulge in what makes you happy, surround yourself with positive energy, and take the time to appreciate the raw nature at your front door. I don't think I have ever enjoyed the crisp and cool fall air as much as I have this year.

Chocolate Cashew Truffles
Makes 15 medium truffles

The cashews can be replaced with almonds or walnuts. If using walnuts, omit the coconut oil, as they will be oily enough without it. Although I have not tested it, I would bet it would work with peanut butter (3/4-1 cup) or sunflower seeds as well, if tree nuts are an issue. 

1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight and drained
½ cup cocoa
¼ cup raw honey
2 tbs. ground flax
1 tbs. coconut oil
1 tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. salt
Optional garnishes: ground raw walnuts, toasted shredded coconut, cocoa powder

In a food processor or high powdered blender, blend cashews and cocoa into a smooth butter. Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth and blended. Remove to a small bowl.

Place desired garnishes in separate bowls. Taking 1-2 tbs. of truffle batter at a time, roll into a small ball and roll in desired garnish. Place truffles on a flat plate or baking sheet and freeze for at least 1 hour. Let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes before serving. 

Relax. Eat Well.