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.