Thursday, December 30, 2010

Creamy Tomato Basil Farro Risotto

It was dark outside, 5 o'clock, and I stood at the stove making a tomato farro risotto. I added the extra-virgin olive oil in the hot pot, and the chopped 1/2 white onion. I stirred it and peeled the garlic cloves. On my IPod, propped on the kitchen counter and a JBL speaker system, Frances Mayes read from her book "Everyday in Tuscany", an audiobook I have been listening to for a few days now whenever I do something in the kitchen. The onions were still white, nevertheless I grated the small garlic cloves into the pot and stirred, wondering if I added them too early and they would burn before the onions were translucent. Frances Mayes ".....even that I added the cold olive oil, the garlic browned so fast that I sometimes have to start again." I smiled. I added the measured farro into the pot with the onions and garlic and oil and stirred to toast it. Frances Mayes ".... I added the farro to the onions, and garlic and carrots and parseley and it would have all afternoon for the flavors to come together in the salad". I smiled again, feeling slightly eerie.  Frances went on to describe the building of her new pizza oven in the garden and the pizzas they made, 30 pizzas for friends at a garden party. And I finished making the creamy tomato basil risotto. I almost felt like being there, in the garden in Tuscany.

Makes 1-2 servings:
1/4 cup farro
1 TB extra virgin olive oil
1/2 white onion
1-2 large garlic cloves, grated (microplaned!)
1/4 cup white wine (red would be good, too!)
1/2 can no-salt added tomatoes (I like the Wholefoods brand)
handful of cherry tomatoes (or 1-2 roma tomatoes)
1/2 cup of un-flavored almond milk
1 ts Rapunzel vegetable bouillon
handful fresh or frozen basil

Pour the canned and fresh tomatoes and the almond milk in a food processor, and puree. Add it to a microwave safe container, and heat on high for 2min. Add the bouillon to it, and stir.

In a pot, add the olive oil, heat and add the chopped onion. Stir and heat through until they are translucent. Now, add the grated garlic, and stir gently. Cook until fragrant but the garlic is still on the white side (it gets bitter once it turns dark). Now, add the farro, and toast for 1-2 min, stir continuously. Add the white wine, stir, and simmer until all the wine is evaporated. Add 1/4 cup of the tomato mix at a time, and also add the basil  at this point (*). Slowly simmer on medium-low for 25 min (altogether), adding regularly 1/4 cup of tomato liquid at a time, and  simmer, until the farros is cooked and creamy, and the risotto thick (you might not need all the liquid). If non-vegan, grate in some parmesan cheese, if vegan just serve with some black pepper!

(*)Note: Typically, I grow a bunch of basil in the summer, often more than I can use. A good trick to preserve it is to cut the leaves off the stems, chiffonade the (roll 5-6 leaves like a cigar, and finely slice), and put it into ice cube containers. Basically you stuff the ice cube compartments with sliced basil. Add some water to each compartment so that it is filled, and freeze the tray. Once frozen you can store the individual basil cubes in a ziplock back in the freezer. --- It makes for a great addition to pasta sauces in the winter without needing to live in Florida or pay an arm and a leg for it.

Insalata Di Farro (by Frances Mayes)
Farro Salad
Farro is sometimes translated as spelt but is actually its own distinctive grain. Tuscans love it with chickpeas in a rousing winter soup. In summer, faro salad is an inspired choice for lunches because it is easy, abundant, and tasty. Leftover faro salad keeps in the fridge for 3 or 4 days and is handy for wraps or to serve in radicchio leaves on an antipasto platter. Serves 10

2 cups faro
4 tomatoes, chopped, or ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, diced
2 or 3 ribs celery, chopped
½ cup green olives, cut in half if they’re large
2 shallots, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
¼ to ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup basil leaves, torn
1 cup parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper

Follow the directions on the package of faro. Usually it cooks in less than 2 hours. While the faro is cooking, mix the other ingredients together. Drain the faro and add it to the vegetable mixture, correct the seasonings, and serve at room temperature.

And then there was skiing, and lots of it..

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Farrotto? (Farro Risotto)

Giada di Laurentiis was cooking a risotto with farro the other day on Giada At Home. I was enticed. Farro is a ancient grain and looks like wheatberries. It has a nutty flavor, and it works really well in salads. 

Her farro risotto is prepared like a regular risotto, and at the end she added sultanas, pine nuts, feta cheese and parseley. For me it ended with the sultanas, because I dislike anything raisins. So, I rolled with the base idea and turned it into a mushroom farro risotto, adding mini portabella mushrooms, dried porcini and some pecorino. It was very flavorful and creamy, and I must say I almost like it better than the arborio rice version because the nutty flavor and creamy texture of the farro went perfectly well with the mushrooms.

(makes 2 servings)

1/2 cup dried farro (available on or
1 TB olive oil
1 shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
salt, pepper
1 cup portabello button mushroom, chopped
1-2 oz dried porcini
3 cups of beef bouillon, heated
pecorino (or parmesan cheese)

Heat the beef stock, and add the porcini mushroom to rehydrate for 5 min. Remove and chop.

In a heavy bottomed pot, heat the olive oil and add the shallot, and saute for 1-2 min. Add garlic and saute for another 1 min. Add the farro and 'toast' it in the oil, shallot and garlic mix for ca 1-2 min. Add the white wine, stir and cook down the wine until almost evaporated (all on medium heat). 

Now, add all the mushrooms and porcini and 1/4 cup of the beef stock, and stir and slowly cook down the liquid. Once the risotto become dry, add another 1/4 cup of beef stock. Repeat until the farro is softened, about 25-30min. Always check, and stir, and add more liquid (you might need more or less than the 3 cups, but make sure to add hot broth). Once the farro is soft and creamy, take it off the heat, and grate in a few tablespoon of pecorino and stir. Serve!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Mediterranean Cauliflower

Flipping through food magazine at Borders, I came across a recipe that inspired me: an unusual combination -- anchovies and cauliflower?! But since I like both cauliflower and anchovies, chili flakes and olives, I decided to try it out together, it also looked pretty good in Jamie Oliver's christmas magazine. Taste test:  fabulous!

1/2 head organic cauliflower (or a bag of frozen cauliflower)
1/2 TB extra-virgin olive oil
1 ts chili flakes
3-4 anchovy fillets in oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt, pepper to taste

green olives, halved
cherry tomatoes

Clean the cauliflower, and cut into rosettes. In a large pot, bring about 1 quart of water to boil, and place the cauliflower florets in a steamer inset on top of the boiling water so that it does not touch the water, but is cooked only by the steam. Cover with a lid. (You can also cook it in water, but it will leech more vitamins). Steam for about 10-15min. 

In a non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil, and add the anchovy fillets. They will heat and melt into the olive oil. Now, add garlic, olives and chili flakes and brown garlic a little bit (be careful to not overcook it because it will get bitter). Now add the cauliflower, mix well and heat through. Serve! 

This can be a light lunch with a slice of bread or a savory side dish.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Cauliflower Curry

When I asked myself what I wanted to eat for Christmas Eve, I had a clear idea: cauliflower curry. A lot of cauliflower, some coconut milk and the curry spice part. Light, yet festive. 

1 bag of frozen cauliflower (or a half head, fresh, cut into florets)
1 ts grapeseed oil
1/2 ts black mustard seeds
1/2 ts cumin seeds
3-4 curry leaves
1/2 can light coonut milk
1 ts chili flakes
2 garlic cloves
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 ts red Thai curry paste

In a large skillet, heat the grapeseed oil and add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves, and wait until the mustard seeds start to pop like popcorn (in hot oil, ca. 30 sec.). Stir, and heat for ca 15 sec, and then add the cauliflower and the coconut milk. Mix well, and cover with a lid. Simmer on very low heat for ca 30 min, until the cauliflower gets cooked through and slightly mushy. Makes sure the liquid does not evaporated (therefore, simmering on REALLY LOW), or add a bit of water. Once cooked, add in the Thai curry paste and mix well. Serve with some blanched almonds.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Vegan Kale Alfredo with Spaghetti and Cherry Tomatoes

Today, I turned the proportion around from yesternight's alfredo dish: lots of kale, a few spaghetti, a bit of leftover vegan alfredo sauce and some cherry tomatoes. Very good!

3-4 large leaves of organic kale, stems removed and sliced into strips
2-3 TB of white wine
1 garlic clove, minced using a microplane
salt, pepper to taste
1 oz of leftover cooked spaghetti
handful cherry tomatoes, halved

Heat a large skillet, and add the kale, and the white wine, and let it wilt down for 2-3 min (I like to keep kale on the raw side to preserve the enzymes, etc.). Add salt and pepper, and the garlic clove. Stir well, and cook for another min. A spaghetti and cherry tomatoes, and cook another 2-3 min until heated throw. Add the alfredo sauce, and saute for 30sec to 1 min. Serve!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Vegan Spaghetti Alfredo with Porcini Mushroom, Kale and Sundried Tomatoes

A few days ago I accidentally caught a new show on Cooking Channel -- The Veg Edge. Not sure it is a new show, or was just a one-time broadcast. Nevertheless, all our favorite vegan youngster chefs were featured. From Post Punk Kitchen to the adorable Chef Chloe from LA. Her recipe for vegan fettucini alfredo looked interesting enough to give a vegan 'cheese sauce' a first try (I just cannot stand anything that has nutritional yeast in it!) Result? Love it! It is rich, and quite filling if you give it some time to sit in your belly. 

I made some changes to the original recipe (spaghetti instead of fettucini, and dried porcini instead of fresh shitake, and only half the ingredients, tossed the spaghetti with only half of the already halved sauce).  -- Makes 2 servings.

Spaghetti Alfredo (serves 2)

4 oz spaghetti 
1/2 TB olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 leaves of curly kale stems removed and chopped  
3 oz dried porcini mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced, and reconsistuted in hot water
4 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
Almond Alfredo Sauce (see below)

1/2 cup raw blanched almonds
1 cup water
1/2 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 small-medium sized loves garlic, minced  
1 teaspoon mellow white miso paste

Make alfredo sauce first:
In a skillet, saute the chopped onion with oil, salt, and pepper until soft and translucent (not brown). Add the chopped garlic and let cook a few more minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Add the almonds and 1 cup of water as well as the miso paste. Heat gently and just 1-2 min until the miso is dissolved. Cool.
Blend the mix in a blender (vitamix is best, no need for straining). If using a blender,  strain through a colander lined with cheesecloth set over a bowl or use a fine mesh sieve. Discard the solids. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Before use, heat the sauce over a very low flame until hot.

Cook the pasta according to instructions. In a large skillet, saute reconstituted porcini in olive oil over medium-high heat. Season with salt and pepper and cook until they are  lightly browned. Blanch the kale in boiling water for 15 seconds, drain and shock the kale in icewater so that it stays bright green.Toss the cooked pasta with the mushrooms, kale, sun-dried tomatoes, and almond alfredo sauce. Enjoy!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Free Vegetables

WeightWatchers overhauled its Points system. I am personally not familiar with the WW system, I roughly know that in the older system 1 point is about 50kcal. Eaten however you want it. Now, points are distributed differently. 

"The new plan, company officials say, is based on scientific findings about how the body processes different foods. The biggest change: All fruits and most vegetables are point-free (or free of PointsPlus, as the new program is called). Processed foods, meanwhile, generally have higher point values, which roughly translates to: should be eaten less" (source: NYT article)

So, Weight Watchers goes clean eating...
What will the Twinkie professor say about that?

Cheesecake Factory's Vegetable Salad

Do you copy-cat the food of your favorite restaurants? For me, salads have always been a major inspiration. This is a salad I love to eat in The Cheesecake Factory: Fresh vegetable salad. Since all portions at the CCF are ginormous, it is listed under the appetizer salads, and believe me, it is a full-meal salad. It consists of a large portion of equally sized cubed vegetables: apples, celery, cucumber, asparagus, green beans, roasted beets, edamame, and white cheddar and all on a bed of radicchio and romaine, and a pomegranate vinaigrette. I had it at different locations all over the US, and mostly the salad is more seasonal combination. Today, I felt like replicating it. Here is my version.

2 handfuls of fresh arugula
1/3 apple, peeled and diced
1/4 cup chickpeas
3-4 radishes, cubed
1 stalk celery, washed, cut lengthwise into 4 long strips, and then diced
1/3 English cucumber, peeled, diced
2 TB crumbled blue cheese (I like the crumbled Gorgonzola from Trader Joes)
salt, pepper

Arrange the arugula as a bed in the salad bowl. Drizzle with the vinaigrette. Mix all other ingredients in a separate bowl, and layer on the salad bed. Serve!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Brussels Sprouts Salald ?

I really like brussels sprouts. Sauteed. Roasted. But I never saw them as a salad vegetable. Giada di Laurentiis changed my mind. The combination is a winner -- arugula and shortly blanched outer leaves of brussels sprouts with a balsamic vinaigrette (add in some apple, radicchio and blue cheese). It helps to still have an abundance of fresh brussels sprouts from the weekend.

Criminal Soup?

Yesterday, not feeling up to par because of a lingering head cold, I was browsing the grocery isle and a (to me) new Campbell's soup struck my fancy: chicken wonton soup! What can be better than chicken noodle soup when you feel sick, and you don't even have to cook it yourself?

So, I bought a can. I heated it, diluted it with 1 can of water, and that was dinner. Until I read the label: this soup contains 870mg of sodium for a half can! So, if you eat this entire can, you have consumed 87% of your daily sodium intake. In one can. Now, that is truly criminal.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Original Brussels Sprouts

I love to see how vegetables actually grow. I can still remember the awe of seeing my first artichoke field in Central California, a huge tuscan kale plant, rice fields in Japan, or zucchini  and eggplants plants in a farmers market exhibition garden. This time, Trader Joe's brought the brussels sprouts to the store, including their habitat: a stalk. On top of looking picturesque, the stalk was also inexpensive. So, roasted balsamic brussels sprouts, sauteed endives, baby spinach and a handful of cherry tomatoes, all courtesy of Trader Joes, made up today's lunch.

Balsamic roasted brussels sprouts:
cut brussels sprouts off stalk
half, and line on a baking sheet lined with alu foil
salt, pepper, and drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil
roast for about 15-20 min at 375F.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

No-Bake Vegan Granola Bars

Anne (fANNEtastic food) inspired me with her 5 minute granola bars. I have been looking for a recipe to make my own granola bars for a while, and this seemed the right fit. I made several changes to the original recipes, plainly because I did not have the ingredients and had others I wanted to use. They still taste great! Especially, I love the goij berries.

No-Bake Vegan Granola bars
Dry ingredients:
1 & 3/4 cup multigrain flakes (similar to rolled oats )
1 cup crisp puffed brown rice cereal
1 TB sunflower seeds
2 TB chia seeds & cacao bits
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
1/8 cup finely ground flaxseed
¼  cup Goji berries

Wet ingredients: 
1/2 C brown rice syrup
1 TB creamy peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Add the dry ingredients to a large bowl, and mix them together. In a separate, microwave safe bowl  mix the wet ingredients, and microwave them for about 20 to 30 seconds (I actually did it for 1 min but my peanut butter still would not melt, so there was less in the mix than what the original recipe asked for). Now,  pour wet ingredients into dry and mix with a spatula and coat the dry ingredients to make them sticky! 

Layered a 8x12 baking form with parchment paper. Cut slits in tbe corners of the parchment paper, so that you can fold the paper at the corners and the parchment paper fits snuggly into the pan. Pour the mixture in the pan, distribute and press flat.  Cover with another parchment paper sheet, and chill in the fridge overnight.

On the next day, cut the granola 'sheet' into 12 rectangles, and package them seperately in plastic wrap. Store them in the fridge.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Balsamic Vinaigrette

After using the balsamic vinaigrette in many of my salad recipes, it is time that I actually post the recipe. I promise this is the best balsamic vinaigrette ever.

1/2 cup very good, smooth, at least 8 year aged balsamic vinegar (I use Fini or Fiore's Black Cherry Balsamic Vinegar)
2 TB excellent extra-virgin olive oil (currently, I used a price-winning Australian olive oil I got at Wholefoods)
1 TB grainy mustard (Maille recommended)
1 TB honey
1 garlic clove, microplaned

Add all ingredients in a vinaigrette bottle (or simply a jar with a tightly closing lid) and shake vigorously. Keep chilled in the fridge, and serve for salad.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Blog Bites: Feta Spinach Pumpkin Muffins

I cannot believe I have not blogged about them yet; I made them twice already! I favor savory things to sweets any day, and these are now my favorite savory muffins. My local farmers market sells a wonderful, strong feta, as well as fresh spinach and any type of winter squash, and these are the main ingredients. I adapted it slightly from the original recipe from 101Cookbooks, but they are also delightful in their original conception.

cooking spray (or butter for the muffin pan)
1 gluck of olive oil
255g cubed butternut squash, cut 1/2-inch cubes (I buy peeled butternut squash, less work)
salt and pepper to taste
1 large handful of fresh baby spinach, chopped
1/4 cup sunflower seeds kernels, roasted, unsalted
100g  cubed feta (full-fat, and best a local product from the farmers market)
2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
180 ml un-flavored almond milk
1 cup allpurpose flour
1 cup quinoa flour
4 teaspoons aluminum free baking powder
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt

Preheat oven to 405F / 200C, with rack in the top third. Grease 2 12-hole muffin pans and set aside.

Sprinkle the olive oil, salt and pepper over the cubed squash. Arrange in a single layer on a baking pan and bake for 15 - 25 minutes so that the squash is mostly cooked, but not mushy or dry. Set aside to cool.

In a bowl beat the eggs and almond milk together. Sift the flours and baking powder onto the mix, add in some salt and a generous dose of freshly ground black pepper, and mix until smooth. Fold in gently the spinach, sunflower seeds, feta, and all of the mustard. At last, fold in the baked squash.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan, filling each hole 3/4 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tops and sides of the muffins are golden, and the muffins have set up completely. Let cool for a couple minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Radicchio Salad with Grapes, Walnuts and Shaved Parmesan

Sunday mornings often start with tuning into Food TV or the Cooking channel, and sometimes this results in inspirations for a few meals. Today was such a day. The original salad calls for pecorino and pistachios (great idea! but I was out) and blistered grapes, but for me only the combination of radicchio and (raw) grapes stood, with balsamic vinaigrette and toasted walnuts and shaved parmesan. The combination of the crunchy, slightly bitter radicchio, the full-flavored balsamic vinaigrette and the juicy, sweet grapes with the crunch of walnuts is a wonderful combination.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Japanese Food Pyramid

The Japanese food pyramid, the food recommendation by the Japanese government, looks quite different than the U.S. one. Most of all, I like the person running around the water cup emphasizing the need for exercise!!

The blue cup at the top shows water and tea.

The yellow section is the largest, representing grains--mostly rice, bread, and noodles (5 to 7 servings a day). 

The green section represents vegetables--including an emphasis on mushrooms and seaweeds (5 to 6 servings a day). 

The brown section represents fish,  soy-bean dishes and eggs (emphasis in this order)(3 to 5 servings a day).

The last section is broken into two. On the left represents dairy products which you should get about 2 servings per day and fruits on the right side (2 servings per day).

There is a little string to the left representing sweets, alcohol, and coffee, which we should all be having in moderation...  or not at all.

The Japanese food guide is based on local conditions and ingredients that are seasonal, with an emphasis on rice. There is an absence of sweets and dietary supplements,  and a lot less dairy and red meat is used. A higher emphasis is placed on drinking tea (mostly green tea) and using fermented products (miso, shoyu, vinegar) with an emphasis on pleasing a presentation and moderate portions.

With no government subsidies of the dairy and beef industry, maybe the US pyramid could look similar.... (makes me think of this story).

Clean eating == japanese way of eating?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Almost Vegan Broccoli Leek Potato Soup

The weather is abysmal, ...dark, rainy, windy and with the end of daylight savings time, it seems to be nightfall at 4:30pm. Good to have tasty soup on tap. I was enticed by the idea of combining broccoli and leeks, and, of course, potatoes for the obligatory creamy thickness. The taste is phenomenally interesting and flavorful, and not flat as in regular broccoli cream soups.

1 bag frozen broccoli
1 small stalk fresh leek
3-4 tiny fingerling potatoes or 1 regular sized potato, quartered
1.5 quarts water (add more or less water as desired)
1 ts Mrs Dash herb blend (or fresh thyme)
1 garlic glove, micro-planed
a few dashes of Worchestershire Sauce (I like the fabulous sodium-reduced Lea & Perrins)

Cut the leek into small rings, and wash them thoroughly in water to get all the sand out.  In a large pot, heat the water with the broccoli, potato and leeks. Bring to a boil and simmer on medium-low heat gently for ca. 20 min until the potatoes are soft. 

Cool to room temperature, reserve a cup of cooked broccoli florets, and puree the remaining soup in a food processor (do NOT puree hot soup! the steam will make the soup 'explode' in the blender and you'll have it on your wall and yourself). Alternatively, use an immersion blender and puree the hot soup in the pot.

Pour pureed soup back into the pot, and add the bouillon, thyme, garlic and worchestershire sauce. Heat again, and simmer for about 2-3 min. Before serving, add the creme fraiche into the soup and mix it in.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Pinneapple Heaven

The Foodbuzz festival and the NYC marathon are winding down, it seems to have been a marathon of good eats, too, there in San Francisco, but here things are simple: fresh pinneapple, fresh promegranate, chopped boscop apple, frozen mango and cacao bit with chia seeds. I added almond milk. It was heaven.

Friday, November 5, 2010

While the rest of the world.....

While the rest of the healthy fit bloggin' world is off food paparazzing in San Francisco for the 2nd Foodbuzz Festival this weekend, I am stuck here in rainy weather on the east coast.  At least, some marathoners took the reverse trip to New York. Anyway, I am at home, working and enjoying another winter salad!

Vegan radicchio winter salad
1/2 medium sized head of radicchio
handful cherry tomatoes, halved
1-2 baby portabella mushroom, sliced
1 small organic pear, sliced
1 dollup of home-made hummus
1 TB pine nuts
fresh ground black pepper
some black cherry balsamic vinegar
some olive oil 
(or appropriately a non-lazy black cherry balsamic vinaigrette)

(photo source: Fitnessista)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Winter Salad

A wonderful combination of finds from Trader Joes (Belgian endive, cherry tomatos, corn salad from a jar) and Whole foods (mache).

Monday, November 1, 2010

Broccolini Monday

A bunch of broccolini was waiting in my fridge. One of my favorite way to prepare broccoli rabe is to cook it in the same water with pasta, and serve it with shaved parmesan and a spicy oil. So, I went the same route with this one, just a vegan option.

Broccolini and Pasta
1 bunch of fresh broccolino
2 oz spaghetti (or other pasta)
1 quart water
salt for the water
1 TB Daiya cheddar cheese
fresh ground pepper to taste
Mrs Dash garlic and herbs (to taste)

Cook the broccolini in the same pot as the spaghetti. First, bring the water to a boil, then throw in broccolini and spaghetti. They will cook in about the same time (ca. 10 min). With tongs move the broccolini and spaghetti to a bowl. Sprinkle with the cheese, pepper and Mrs Dash.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Clean Eating: Berry Extravaganza

This morning's smoothie was unbelievably tasty. I was out of fresh fruit (besides apples but I don't like them in my smoothies), but a bag of frozen blueberries was still there, somewhere in my freezer. And so it started. 

Vegan Berry Smoothie
1 cup almond milk
1/2 banana, ripe
1/2 cup of frozen blueberries
1/2 cup of fresh cranberries (local, from the FM)
1 pouch of Vega raw protein powder, berry flavor

Put in blender, and there you go -- Berry extravaganza on a Sunday morning. 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Clean Eating: Sauteed Belgian Endive

On my trip to Trader Joes yesterday, I snagged a bag of green and purple Belgian endive. In the winter, I like them best sauteed with a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper. The meal was rounded out with a wheatberry-wild rice salad and hummus mixed with organic ketchup. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Clean Eating: Vegan Overnight Oats

Oh dear. I think if you just read about something often enough, you will try it out eventually. Talk about brain washing/the influence of fellow bloggers. Overnight oats, especial in an almost empty peanut butter jar, seems to be a favorite on many of the health/running blogs I read. So far, I've been immune to the idea (similar to as to the idea of running a marathon), but looking for variety for breakfast yesterday, I gave it a try. The result? Oh my! So good!!

Vegan Overnight Vermont Muesli
1/4 cup Vermont Mountain muesli (King Arthur flour online shop)
1 cup almond milk
1 TB chia seeds and cacao bits
1/2 banana, sliced
1/2 scoop Sun Warrior raw vegan protein powder (vanilla flavor)

Mix all ingredients in the evening, and store in a glass jar with a lid in the fridge. Serve the next morning/lunch. The muesli is eaten uncooked and cold, just soaked overnight. Add dried cranberries, apple slices or nut butter (almond, peanut, etc)  if desired. I had it straight up, and it was SO GOOD!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Clean Eating: Home-made Hummus

Trying to avoid dairy for a while, I have been looking for a new spread on bread. Hummus is a likely choice. Not only is it tasty, natural and filling it also can be mixed with many flavors (at least according to the grocery aisle :-)). I decided to make my own batch, and go as natural snd gently prepared as possible: dried chickpeas, soaked over night, gently cooked with a garlic clove and fresh bay leaf,  mixed with with fresh meyer lemon juice, meyer lemon rind, fresh ground black pepper, tahini and extra-virgin olive oil. Throughout the preparation process I avoided salt; it really only needs very little in the finished product. Because it is made of dried chickpeas it has a very mild, sweet, almost nutty flavor. Love it!

Soaking Chickpeas:
1/2 cup dried organic chickpea/garbanzo beans
1 quart/ltr water (use plenty of water, 3-4 times more than the chickpeas, they will soak it all up!)

Soak over night. The chickpeas will absorb most of the water, and quadruple in size.

Cooking Chickpeas:
Soaked chickpeas
1-2 garlic cloves, peeled, halved
1 bay leaf (dry or fresh)

In a medium sized sauce pan, place the soaked chickpeas, and cover with water with about 1 inch water above the chickpeas. Add the bay leaf and garlic clove to the water. Bring to a boil, and turn down heat to a very low simmer, and simmer chickpeas for ca. 40min.  Discard the bay leaf, preserve the cooked garlic and the cooking liquid. 

Alternatively: place the chickpeas in a steamer inset, and the water, bayleaf and garlic cloves in the bottom of the pot, and steam the chickpeas for 45min. They will still absorb some of the bayleaf and garlic aroma, but loose less vitamins.

For hummus:
cooked chickpeas (and preserved cooking liquid!)
cooked garlic cloves
juice of 1 Meyer lemon (or regular lemon)
zest of 1 Meyer lemon (or regular lemon)
1 TB tahini (sesame nut butter)
1-2 fresh garlic cloves, peeled, quartered
3-4 TB extra virgin olive oil
fresh ground black pepper
salt to taste

Place all ingredients (excluding the salt) in a blender or food processor (I used a Vitamix and got a very smooth texture), and add a few ladles of the cooking liquid. You might need up to 5-6 ladles to get the right thickness and texture. Blend until smooth. Pour into a storage container, and add salt to taste.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Clean Eating: Vegan Strawberry Smoothie

Another vegan option: strawberry smoothie!

1 cup almond milk (silk, vanilla flavor)
1 cup fresh strawberries
1/2 banana
3/4 scoop Sun Warrior raw vegan protein powder

For decoration: dried tropical fruit

Place all ingredients in blender (preferrably a vitamix), and blend until smooth. Serve!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Clean Eating: Vegan Green Smoothie

Lately, I've been trying to eat vegan for a change (no dairy, no meat, no chemicals), so the green smoothie needed a revamping. This came out very, very well and tasty.

1 cup almond milk (vanilla flavor)
1 frozen banana
handful of tuscan kale leaves
1 packet wheatgrass powder
1/2 cup water
2 TB soaked whole raw oats

Blend and serve!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Southwestern Salad

Another arugula creation --- again with Whole Foods 365 Chipotle Ranch dressing, black beans (dry, soaked overnight and cooked for 45min with a bay leaf and garlic clove), diced leftover chicken and a mild red chili pepper from the farmers market. As Rachel R. would say: Yummo!  (Trader Joes sells a similar salad, just add some sweet corn).

Friday, October 8, 2010

Arugula Salad with Pomegranate Seeds and Spiced Walnuts

The farmers market still has the most crunchy and peppery arugula, and so one of my favorite salad this time of the year is still arugula salad. Often, just plain with a dressing and blue cheese, but today with the first pomegranate seeds, some gorgonzola crumbles and candied spiced walnuts. The dressing is Wholefoods 365 chipotle ranch dressing.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fall Greek Yogurt

The leaves are changing their colors into bright red and yellow, and the grapes in the garden are sweet this year, thanks to a long and sunny summer. Morning Greek yogurt got a fall spin.....

Greek yogurt
juice of 1/2 Meyer lemon
agave nectar
Vermont muesli (@ King Arthur Flour online)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Meatloaf in a ramekin

After I ate my last frozen stuffed Moroccan pepper for lunch today, I decided to make a new batch. This time  I filled a few ramekins with sliced roma tomatoes, and filled them up with stuffing mix. They are baked also 45min at 400F. A great snack or dinner component!

1/2 lb. ground turkey
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 c sliced baby portabella mushrooms
1/2 packet Knorr vegetable soup mix
3 TB Trader Joes red pepper spread
2 TB harissa
1/4 cup frozen sweet corn
2 TB panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup eggwhites
1 roma tomato, sliced
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Place a tomato slice on the bottom of the ramekin, and fill with turkey mix.
  • Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until the turkey stuffing is fully cooked.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Madeleine Time!

Hanging out at a Starbucks coffee shop, I typically manage to only take pictures of the bakery items, and rarely eat them, but they have one luxurious, guiltfree snack: madeleines. This winter  I made a batch from scratch, using this recipe. They were delicious, but a tad involved. Last weekend, Giada Di Laurentiis showed a simpler way to make madeleines using a bake mix. These madeleines are made in 10min and baked in 15min. To be honest --- they are addictive! But we are just having one with coffee, right?
  • 2 large egg whites or 1/4 cup eggwhite mixture
  • 1 cup yellow cake mix (recommended: Betty Crocker Supermoist Butter Cake)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1.5 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (I used orange zest)
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • Special equipment: 12 (3-inch) nonstick madeleine molds
Put an oven rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a madeleine mold with baking spray (ie. butter and flour spray) liberally and set aside (alternatively, butter madeleine molds liberally with butter and dust with flour).

Batter: In a medium bowl, using an electric hand mixer, beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the cake mix, butter, honey, water, orange zest, and almond extract. Beat the ingredients on low speed for 30 seconds. Increase the speed to high and beat until the batter is smooth, about 2 minutes. Spoon the batter into the prepared molds. Make sure to fill only 2/3 of each mold or less since the madeeines will rise.

Bake until the edges are golden and the center of the madeleines spring back when touched, about 15 to 16 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes. Using a small rubber spatula, remove the madeleines and arrange, scalloped side up, on a wire rack. Cool for 15 minutes, sprinkle with powder sugar and serve.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Spicy Asian Beef

After all these motivational posts, back to food! This is a quick and delicious dish, spicy asian beef. I make it with what Nigella Lawson calls 'minute steaks', very thin sliced steaks that fry in a minute on both sides. I cut them into thin stripes, the same with a red bell pepper, a hot pepper and a half red onion and some straw mushrooms. Throw into the mix  some garlic and indonesian soy sauce. Dinner in 10 minutes!

1 minute steak, thinly sliced into strips
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/2 red onion, cut into thin half moons
1/2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup straw mushroom (canned)
salt, pepper
Indonesian teriyaki sauce (other other soy or terikayi sauce)
1/2 ts canola oil or peanut oil

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet, add the onions, bell pepper and hot pepper, saute til softened. Add the garlic and beef, and saute until beef is cook through and browned. Add the teriyaki sauce, salt and pepper and the mushroom, and heat through. Serve!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Love as the Ultimate Superfood

I like reading the Crazy Sexy Life blog for its various guest post and reminders of inspiring messages of living a holistic life. Today's one is close to my heart. So, I take it straight from the blog post (click to read the entire post):

"Here are a few simple ideas to get that heart chakra opened up again:

-Laugh. Seems so obvious, but laughing is really the ultimate remedy. Nothing opens up the chakras (energy systems in the body) quite like a good, solid giggle.
-Rebound. Who wouldn’t be in a state of joy while jumping up and down on a mini-trampoline? I have yet to meet that person.
-Listen to music. Preferably songs that are fun, energizing, or emotionally moving!
-Nature: Get Outdoors and into Some Green. To be in the presence of nature is to be in the presence of magnificent love power.

So in my mind anything we could possibly eat, no matter the superfood status, pales in comparison to love!

Love feels good.
Love pervades.
Love heals all.
Love is really all there is.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pet Peeve Rant: why weightloss shows send the wrong message

I accidentally tuned in to the season start of "The Biggest Loser" (always think "looser" would be the right name, no?), and saw the new format of picking 3 candidates per larger city. They had to compete for a placement on the show by running 1 Mile. These guys/gals were around 300-400 pounds and had not run in  like 20 years. I am not a medical doctor, but this seemed medically dangerous, but, alas just made in heaven for reality tv high ratings. Promptly, one guy with dreadlocks collapsed, and had to be taken to the hospital. Reality tv drama, a necessary ingredient, right?

It makes me so mad that shows like this send the message that, well, if you want to have any chance to loose weight, you have to SUFFER, big time, because otherwise you don't deserve it and you already know it is impossible, right? We just want to make sure to confirm this message. You have to do impossible things, like run when you barely can get out of a chair, exercise for 5 hours a day while Jillian Michaels yells at you for not trying hard enough, just humiliation and beating yourself up all the way. 

While this might make for high reality tv ratings of overweight people sitting at home, and thinking, oh, yes, I should do this, I am so glad I am at home and don't have to do this (you know, like other people watching horror movies in the safety of their own homes...), this simply sends the wrong message. I firmly believe that any successful weightloss can only be accomplished by being gentle on yourself. Yes, it is ok to start small. Go for a walk, do something you can do and that feels pleasant. After walking for a month, you might feel more compelled to try a few minutes to run. Yes, you CAN do it, and you DON'T have to suffer and it is NOT IMPOSSIBLE, and it can actually be fun, and you can actually want to keep it up. Be gentle, go slow, love yourself.

Same crappy show: Thintervation with Jackie Warner. Yelling at someone "You don't know your strength, you don't know what you can do, but I know. Get rid of this princess attitude.", well., that borders on abuse. Jackie, go home. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Is your food cool?

If not, just bring along the new lunch cooler bag from Wholefood. In pink, of course.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Moroccan Stuffed Peppers

I saw this great looking dish on peanutbutterfinger, and so I had to give it a try. In the end, I changed quite a few ingredients around, but I guess this is how it goes..... Nevertheless, these are the tastiest individual moroccan spiced stuffed pepper (and skinny to boot!)!

1/2 lb. ground turkey
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 c sliced baby portabella mushrooms
1/2 packet Knorr vegetable soup mix
3 TB Trader Joes red pepper spread
2 TB harissa
1/4 cup frozen sweet corn
2 TB panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup eggwhites
2 large bell peppers, cut into rounds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix all ingredients besides the pepper sin a large bowl
Cut the bottom of the peppers, and fill them. Cut the remaining pepper (depending on size) into 1in high rounds, and fill with turkey mix.
Bake for 40-60
minutes to an hour, until the turkey stuffing is fully cooked

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Best Individual Meatloaves Ever

This is a great way to make meatloaf, and portion it: using a muffin baking pan. Also, all meatloaves will have a crust! The small meatloaves can easily be frozen and taste just as good as leftovers. 

1 lb extra lean ground beef
1/2 envelope onion soup mix
1/3 cup dry bread crumbs  
1/4 cup egg beaters
1/3 cup ketchup
1/3 cup water 
1/2 cup fresh corn
garlic powder, and pepper  (all optional) 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together but do not over mix or it will be tough. Use an icecream scooper, and fill a muffin pan. Bake for35-45 mins.  

If you like a glaze, use a BBQ sauce mixed with a little splenda brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder and pepper and spread it on top of the meatloaves for the last 15 minutes or so.