Sunday, November 9, 2014

SUPER IMMUNITY JELL-O

We've been enjoying a lot of jello in our house recently. I've made jello a host of ways with a variety of layers and flavors but this is the one I land on most often. It has both form and function - is delicious and beneficial. I don't add any sweetener to mine as I prefer the sour tilt but raw honey is a wonderful way to add some sweet as well as a nutritional boost.

[THE RECIPE]

2 c. cranberries, fresh or frozen
2 c. blueberries, fresh or frozen
1/4 c. dried elderberries
1/4 c. dried bilberries
1/8 c. dried hawthorn berries
4, 1-inch pieces of fresh ginger or 1 - 2 tsp. dried minced ginger
4 c. water
1/4 c. lemon juice
3 - 4 T. pure gelatin
Add-in options: raw, local honey [to taste], camu powder, ginseng powder, ginko powder, goji berries, coconut milk

Optional Roasting: Roasting really add depth to the flavor of this jello. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread berries onto baking stone or parchment lined baking sheet. Roast for 7 minutes [if using fresh berries] or 10 - 15 minutes if using frozen berries. Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly.

Place dried berries, ginger, and water in a medium size saucepan. Bring water to boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for 25 - 45 minutes [the more time you do the stronger the tea will be]. Remove from heat, strain out the whole berries and ginger, and set tea aside to cool slightly.

Prepare a 9 x 13 glass baking dish by rubbing it with a light coat of coconut oil. Set aside.

In a blender container, place [roasted] berries, tea, lemon juice, gelatin, and any addition add-ins you may have*.

Blend on high to very smooth. Pour mixture into prepared glass dish and place in refrigerator for 2 - 4 hours to firm.

Cut into small squares or use cookie cutters to create fun shapes. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

*If you want to make this a two layer jello, simply blend 1/2 the ingredients as noted above, pour into prepared pan and place in freezer to set quickly. Reserve out the other half. Add 1 additional tablespoon of gelatin and 8 ounces of regular coconut milk [or milk of choice] to the remaining ingredients. Blend on high to smooth. Remove the jello from the freezer and pour in creamed layer. Place in refrigerator as noted above.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

QUESADILLAS WITH "CHEESY" BUTTERCUP SQUASH FILLING


Because my girls and I don't eat much dairy, quesadillas have been a bit of a challenge for us. However, the simplicity of the meal has had me forever enchanted.

Buttercup squash seem to hold a wonderful solution. These little guys have a thick flesh when cooked, reminiscent of a sweet potato, which is enough to hold together two finicky tortillas. The nutritional yeast and spices give it a "cheesy" flavor although [here's my disclaimer], cheese is cheese no matter how you cut it and, if we call it what it is, there isn't a substitute for the real stuff.

However, there is a different kind of really, really good and this is it.

So, put your preconceptions of what a quesadilla should be [or has been] on the shelf and give this a whirl. You might be surprised by your lack of disappointment.


[THE RECIPE]
Makes 2 - 4 Quesadillas

For the tortillas:

4 sprouted corn tortillas
extra virgin, raw coconut oil
sea salt

Gently rub, using hands, a thin coat of coconut oil over one side of each tortilla. Sprinkle a pinch of salt on each. Set aside.

For the "cheesy" spread:

1 large buttercup squash [or other thick-fleshed squash or sweet potato], roasted*
1/2 medium - large onion [or one small], finely chopped
1 - 2 tsp. raw, unrefined extra virgin coconut oil
1/2 red, orange, or yellow sweet pepper, finely chopped
1 - 2 medium size carrots, shredded
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. powders of each: turmeric, coriander, and oregano
1 1/2 tsp. cumin powder [freshly ground if possible]
1 T. nutritional yeast
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 - 2 cups shredded greens [kale, spinach, pok choi, arugula, mustard greens, etc.]

Roast squash using instructions below [*].

In a medium cast iron or stainless steel pan, saute onion in a teaspoon or two coconut oil until onions are soft and just beginning to brown. Add pepper, shredded carrots, and garlic and saute for another minute or two until peppers are just beginning to soften.

Scoop roasted squash out of the shell and place in a blender with spices, yeast, and salt. Using a tamper, blend until very smooth. Add water by the tablespoon if mixture is too difficult to blend. The spread should have a thick, paste-like consistency.

Once sauce is blended [taste and make any necessary adjustments], spread onto the non-oiled side of half of the prepared tortillas. Top with the sauteed vegetables and shredded greens, add any additional fillings of choice [see suggestions below], and top with the remaining prepared tortillas. The oiled sides should be facing out. Place on a hot skillet or panini maker and cook until filling is warm [about two minutes]. Remove and gently cut into triangle pieces. Serve immediately with sides of choice [see suggestions below].

Optional Fillings:

additional sauteed vegetables
soaked and cooked beans of choice [black, adzuki, white, etc.]
shredded goat cheese
shredded chicken, beef, or lamb

Optional Sides:

salsa
fresh cilantro
avocado or guacamole
Greek Yogurt or non-dairy plain cultured yogurt of choice
coconut milk kefir

*To roast the squash, cut squash in half and scoop out stringy flesh and seeds. Place haves face-down [shell up] on a cookie sheet and cook at 450 degrees for 20 - 30 minutes or until soft. Use a knife or fork and gently prick to check. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 - 20 minutes or until you are able to handle the hot squash. 


Monday, October 20, 2014

SIMPLE PIZZA CRUST


My girls, like their father, love pizza. When I say love I mean LOVE. I've tried a host of pizza crust recipes ranging from a cauliflower to bean base. From gluten-free flour blends and yeast to straight from a box. Each time they came out okay. You know, edible. An occasional visitor but not necessarily a mainstay at our table.

Then I came across a recipe from Julie Morris in her book Superfood Kitchen and wondered if maybe she had hit on something grand. It's really simple with a minimal ingredients list, something lacking in many of the other recipes. Of course I needed to adjust some ingredients based on our family's specific dietary needs. I subbed different grains for rice flour and sneaked in a bit of squash for the beans.

And then, I held my breath and gave it to my two little [tough!] judges. They plowed through five pieces each. I'd call that success.

[THE RECIPE]
Adapted from Superfood Kitchen by Julie Morris
Makes One Pizza Crust

1/2 c. sorghum, quinoa, or buckwheat flour
1/4 c. flaxseed powder
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 T. chia seeds
1 1/2 c. buttercup squash puree*
3 T. water

Mix all of the dry ingredients in a medium-size bowl. Add the squash puree and water and mix well using hands, a spoon, or a mixer [I find a mixer works best here but use whatever you have]. Let sit for 15 - 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Gently spread dough out on a parchment-lined baking pan or pizza stone. Smooth to a 1/4-inch thick. If the dough gets sticky you can sprinkle extra flour or wet/oil spoon or hands.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and add toppings of choice [I show pesto with shredded goat cheese here]. Bake for an additional 5 - 10 minutes or until everything is cooked to your preference.

Cut into squares and serve immediately.

Monday, October 13, 2014

RED-VELVET PANCAKES

Recently I've been experimenting with my basic pancake recipe, giving it a little pizzazz. If you've visited your local market you know there are beets aplenty - one of the many stars of fall. Can you think of a better way to put these little babies to good use than slipping them into a pancake and calling it chocolate? Me either.  


[THE RECIPE]
Serves 4

Dry Ingredients:

3/4 c. quinoa, buckwheat, or sorghum flour
1/2 c. millet or oat flour
1/4 c. amaranth or teff flour
1/4 c. carob powder [or raw cacao powder]
2 T. mesquite powder [optional]
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. sea salt

Wet Ingredients:

1 1/2 c. water [use cooking water from beets]
3/4 c. boiled and peeled beets [appx. 4 small]*
1/4 c. whole flaxseeds 
2 T. apple cider vinegar
1 T. molasses [optional]

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and set aside. If you're grinding your own flour using a Vita-mix, I like to add all of the dry ingredients to the dry-mix container and blend. 

Blend all of wet ingredients, separate from the dry ingredients, on high until the mixture is smooth and well blended. Slowly pour the wet mixture into the dry, mixing constantly either by hand or with an electric mixer. When everything has been fully incorporated, gently fold into the batter any add-in ingredients [berries, nuts, dried fruit, shredded veggies, etc.]. 

Let sit for 15 minutes.

While batter sits, preheat oven to 200 degrees [F] and grab a glass baking dish. If you are using an electric skillet [one of the few times I do], heat the skillet to 315 - 325 degrees [you'll adjust the temperature as you go]. 

Pour 1/3 c. of the batter onto the warmed skillet. Batter should form a nice round but if not, gently spread it out with the back of a spoon or the measuring cup. Repeat 3 or 4 times, depending on the size of the pan. 

Cover skillet and cook for about 5 minutes or until the face of the pancakes begin to look cooked. Remove skillet cover and flip the pancakes. Return cover and cook for an addition 3 - 5 minutes or until both sides of the pancakes are browned. 

Turn off oven and place cooked pancakes in glass baking dish and warm in oven. Repeat with remaining batter. 

Once all of the pancakes are cooked and have had a few minutes in the oven, remove and serve immediately with ghee, real maple syrup [local if possible], and any toppings on choice.

*To prepare beets: scrub and rinse beets until all of the dirt has been removed. Place in a medium size pot and completely cover with water. Bring water to a boil. Gently boil until the beets are tender when poked with a fork. Remove from heat and reserve the cooking water / liquid [it should be bright red now]. Under cold water, remove skins of beets and discard. I like to do a large pot of beets and freeze the extra water and beet puree so I have some on hand when needed. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

SPICED APPLE PORRIDGE

As the cooler weather sets in, I naturally tend to gravitate towards the warmer blessings of life - a fire in the fireplace, endless mugs of hot tea [ginger is a favorite right now], heavy blankets, hooded sweatshirts, soups and stews and warm applesauce.

For me, this dish is nourishing with a hint of sweet, rich with flavor and depth, and helps keep me snug through these windy, cold days. The added spices are perfect for warming the body from the inside out.

Apples are in full swing if you choose to make your applesauce homemade. I prefer a mixed apple sauce and, here's a little secret, good farmers know their apples well. Generally they've been making applesauce from their own apples for years and can give you advice on which apples to choose. I've found asking my farmer to put together a basket of blended sauce apples is key to a successful end result. You can find an apple farmer at your local farmer's market or check out Local Harvest and search an organic farmer who grows apples [there are many out there who are uncertified but have amazing practices].


[THE RECIPE]
Single Serving

1 c. applesauce [unsweetened]
1/4 tsp. turmeric powder
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
pinch of ginger powder
1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp. Ceylon cinnamon powder [optional]
1/2 c. seed or nut milk of choice [walnut and hemp milk are lovely]

In a small saucepan warm applesauce and spices over low heat. Once the spiced sauce is very warm [but not quite hot], remove from heat and pour into a single serving bowl. Pour milk over sauce, serve immediately, and enjoy!

Additional Add-In Options: toasted walnuts or almonds, ground flax or chia seed, raw stevia / honey / maple syrup if added sweetness is desired, pinch of ground cloves or cardamom, toasted coconut flakes, soaked raisins or currants, dried fruit of choice

Thursday, August 14, 2014

ZUCCHINI "PASTA"


[THE RECIPE]
Serves 2

Necessary Utensils:
Spiral Vegetable Slicer or Vegetable or Julienne Peeler
Cutting board and sharp knife
Colander
Cheese cloth or kitchen towel, optional

1 - 2 tsp. sea salt
4 small - medium zucchini*
1 - 2 T. coconut oil or ghee or use steam method for oil-free**
1/2 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
choice of veggies: bok choy [thinly chopped], fennel bulb and fronds [thinly sliced], kale [thinly sliced], chard [thinly sliced], spinach, and / or tomatoes [fresh or sun dried]
Herb Dressing or herbs of choice [basil, chives, parsley, cilantro, etc.] or use lemon juice with herbs for oil-free
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, optional / to taste


Slice zucchini according to the Spiral Vegetable Slicer instructions [I use the smallest blade] or using vegetable or julienne peeler [as instructed by manufacturer] to make thin pasta slices or noodles. If you are using the peeler, only work as far as the soft, seedy middle and then discard [the seedy middle won't hold up and make for mushy pasta].


Place sliced zucchini in colander [lined with cheesecloth or a towel, optional] and toss with  1 - 2 teaspoons of sea salt. It's important to make sure all the "noodles" are covered as this will pull the water from the vegetable. Set in either a glass baking dish, large bowl, or sink to collect water. Let stand for 30 minutes [minimum].


Meanwhile, warm oil in large cast iron skillet. Saute onions over medium-low heat until transparent and beginning to brown. Toss in garlic and veggies of choice and saute until vegetables are bright green and tender or wilted. Remove from heat and set aside until zucchini noodles are ready.

When zucchini noodles have sat for at least 30 minutes, rinse well under running water. If you used a cheesecloth or towel, gently pick up keeping the noodles in the center of the towel. Begin to gently ring out the water using the towel or cloth to hold the noodles. If you are using just the colander, gently press down on the noodles, pushing out water or pick up and squeeze. The point is to get as much water out of the noodles as possible.

Place skillet back over medium - high heat and add zucchini noodles. Stirring frequently, heat noodles until just hot and only slightly cooked.

Remove from heat and add Herb Dressing or toppings of choice. Top with toasted nuts or seeds, cooked quinoa, or shredded goat cheese. Lamb meatballs or a broiled fish filet are also delicious if you choose to add meat but remember, keep the servings at 80% vegetable pasta and 20% protein of choice [nuts, cheese, meats].

*Zucchini on the smaller side are the best choice in this case. The larger squash tend to have seedier, mushier centers which can be difficult to put through a spiral cutter. If you are using a vegetable or julienne peeler than size really doesn't make a difference although the younger zucchini tend to have a better flavor in my opinion.

**To steam: place prepared zucchini pasta in steam basket with a medium size pot. Fill pot with 1-inch of water [water should stay below basket]. Turn heat to high and bring water to boil. Steam for 2 - 3 minutes, turning pasta each minute, until just soft.


Monday, August 4, 2014

TWO SUMMER SALADS, ONE HERB DRESSING

Every March it happens. I become so giddy with the idea of fresh herbs I start, what seems like, way too many seeds. Then July rolls around and I am so grateful for the endless supply of basil and other decidedly "summer" flavors. I've been enjoying this dressing alongside almost every meal, preferably while sitting on the patio with a small glass of coconut water kefir.

The dressing is really easy to make and, if you don't have a garden, you can easily find herbs in bulk at your local Farmer's Market. Don't let a missing herb stop you - blend together whatever combination suites you and sub herbs you love for ones you may not favor. This recipe is a combination of my favorites but really, go nuts with whatever you've got.

Within this post you'll also find two of my go-to salads. I love the balance of raw greens with cooked vegetables and tend to make a large batch of the veggies so I have them at the ready when meal-time rolls around.


[HERB DRESSING RECIPE]

Note: This recipe makes a larger batch, about 4 or 5 half pint jars. I make large batches of this dressing and freeze it in small glass jars for a bit of summer flavor come winter chill. 

2 cups organic, extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. sea salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 c. Genovese basil leaves
2 c. roughly chopped chives
1 c. lemon or lime basil [optional, if you don't have this simply add another cup of the Genovese basil]
1 c. parsley leaves
6 sprigs tarragon leaves

Optional Additions: toasted sunflower or pumpkin seeds; toasted walnuts; nutritional yeast; garlic - raw, powdered, granulated, or roasted; onion powder; cayenne pepper

Pour oil into a large blender or food processor. Add salt and pepper. If you have a blender with a tamper you can layer all of the herbs [except the Genovese basil] into the blender and blend to smooth. Add the Genovese basil and blend again to smooth. If you are using a food processor or basic blender, add herbs in stages and blend to smooth before adding the next herb. Mixture should be thicker than standard dressing. If you prefer a pour-able dressing you can add a bit more oil and a couple pinches of salt.

Store in an airtight glass jar or freeze in small glass jars for winter use. I love this dressing with just about everything: salads, butternut squash hashbrowns, zucchini pasta, quinoa, fish, etc.

[CUMIN CARROT-RADISH + HERB QUINOA SALAD RECIPE]

4 - 5 medium size carrots, rinsed and sliced
8 - 12 radishes, rinsed and sliced
1 - 2 T. coconut oil or ghee, melted
4 T. whole cumin seeds
1 tsp. sweet paprika
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 c. cooked soaked and sprouted quinoa* [this is a great way to use leftover quinoa from a previous meal]
1 T. herb dressing [see recipe above]
large handful baby greens or salad blend, rinsed and spun dry
1/2 avocado, sliced
1 - 2 T. raw, unpasteurized sauerkraut [optional]**
1 T. extra virgin olive oil [optional, I love using a lemon-flavored oil with this salad]

Place cumin seeds, paprika, a pinch or two of sea salt and ground pepper in a spice grinder or dry vita-mix container. Grind until seeds are powdered. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a baking sheet, toss carrot and radish slices with oil or ghee. Sprinkle ground cumin mixture over the oil-coated vegetables and mix well [using your hands works best here]. Bake for 20 - 30 minutes or until vegetables are soft when poked with a fork.

While vegetables are baking, heat quinoa in a cast iron skillet over medium heat for about 5 - 7 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low and add herb dressing. Toss until quinoa is well coated.

Arrange greens on plate of choice. Drizzle with olive oil and layer warmed herb-quinoa, roasted vegetables, avocado, and sauerkraut. Enjoy immediately or cool.

*Soaking and sprouting quinoa really improved digestibility. Place quinoa in a glass jar and cover with double the amount of water. You can add a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar to increase the benefits of soaking. Cover with cheese cloth or mesh sprouting lid and let stand for 12 hours. Drain water, rinse, drain, and rinse. Place in jar in a warm, light area and rinse once or twice throughout day. Sprouts should appear in 24 - 36 hours. After sprouts appear, rinse and drain once more. Place in a pot and fill with just enough water to cover quinoa. Cover, bring to boil, and reduce heat to low until all liquid has been absorbed. Let stand covered for 10 minutes and then fluff with a fork. 

**Raw, unpasteurized sauerkraut is packed with friendly bacteria. It's a great addition to any meal. If you purchase, make sure it is from a reputable source.

[GREEN BEAN + QUINOA SALAD RECIPE]

2 c. fresh green beans, cut into 1-inch size pieces
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 c. cooked soaked and sprouted quinoa* [this is a great way to use leftover quinoa from a previous meal]
1 T. herb dressing [see recipe above]
large handful baby greens or salad blend, rinsed and spun dry
1/2 avocado, sliced
1 small cut of wild-caught, sustainably harvested fish of choice [I enjoy salmon or halibut]
1 T. + 2 tsp. coconut oil or ghee

Warm one tablespoon of oil or ghee in a medium-sized cast iron skillet or medium. Add onion and saute until very soft and just beginning to brown. Add garlic and saute for a minute or so. Toss in cut green beans and saute until beans are bright green [or yellow or purple depending on variety] and just beginning to soften. Remove from heat and set aside. 

In another small skillet, heat cooked quinoa over medium heat for about 5 - 7 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low and add herb dressing. Toss until quinoa is well coated. Add quinoa to cooked green beans and set aside. 

In the same skillet used for quinoa, warm 2 tsp. coconut oil or ghee over medium-high heat. Rub fish filet with sea salt and freshly ground pepper [you can be generous here!]. Carefully place filet in pan with oil and cover. When first side is browned flip and return cover. Cook until desired level of done-ness has been reached. You could also bake or broil fish if preferred.

If beans and quinoa have cooled, warm over low heat. 

Arrange greens on plate of choice. Layer with warm herb-quinoa and sauteed beans, avocado, and fish. Enjoy immediately or cool.

*Soaking and sprouting quinoa really improved digestibility. Place quinoa in a glass jar and cover with double the amount of water. You can add a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar to increase the benefits of soaking. Cover with cheese cloth or mesh sprouting lid and let stand for 12 hours. Drain water, rinse, drain, and rinse. Place in jar in a warm, light area and rinse once or twice throughout day. Sprouts should appear in 24 - 36 hours. After sprouts appear, rinse and drain once more. Place in a pot and fill with just enough water to cover quinoa. Cover, bring to boil, and reduce heat to low until all liquid has been absorbed. Let stand covered for 10 minutes and then fluff with a fork.