Tag Archives | gluten free

A Salad Double-Whammy

It’s often assumed that because I work in the food and health field I only order salad when I eat out at a restaurant. Au contraire! This may come as a surprise but I hardly ever order salad at a restaurant. Why? Because most restaurant salads are HUGELY disappointing, tasteless and completely lacking any imagination. Does anyone really enjoy a pile of iceberg lettuce, barely ripe cherry tomatoes and dried up slices of cucumber? It makes sense that you would douse that in calorie-laden ranch dressing! That’s the only thing that can make a salad like that remotely palatable.

Ok, so maybe I’m being really hard on restaurant salad selections. But, please know that salad shouldn’t be an afterthought and it can taste totally incredible, be completely satisfying and…. (drumroll please)……ridiculously easy to make!

I recently made the green salad I’m sharing with you today at the farmers market. One of my cooking class students stopped by to say hello and told me how she had been making some of the recipes (which always makes my heart happy). But then she said,

Tanya, you make salad taste better than movie theater popcorn!

And then, I almost passed out.

It’s certainly a high bar, but I have to agree. With a few pantry staples and some fresh ingredients a salad can be an incredibly satisfying and delicious meal or snack.

Here are my 4 essentials to making a killer, “better-than-movie-theater-popcorn” salad. There is no reason to eat another mediocre salad EVER again!

1) Fresh – It goes without saying that using fresh, seasonal ingredients is essential for a radically amazing salad. In the spring and summer use fresh baby greens. In the fall and winter cabbage and kale make wonderful hearty salads. Adding fresh herbs will also give your salad a little something extra. Visit your local market and farmers to get the best quality produce possible. Or, grow your own! It’s about time to plant kale so you have it in time the fall and herbs are super easy to grow in pots on your windowsill.
2) Sour – As a kid I would drink the salad dressing out of the salad bowl because I loved the sour, vinegar-y taste. Now….I still do that on occasion 🙂 There are so many different types of vinegars to experiment with – from fancy balsamic to simple white vinegar. Lemons and limes are some of my favorite additions as well. You can also add sour taste with different types of mustard. Don’t be afraid to experiment!
3) Sweet – For the longest time I thought that fruit had no place in a green salad. But, I’ve since changed my mind. Adding a some chopped apple or dried cherries adds a wonderful sweet taste to your salad that can be unexpected. Plus, by adding a little sweetness to your meal you’re less likely to crave the sweets after dinner is done.
4) Crunch – Crunch is key for completing your salad. I toast nuts and seeds ahead of time and store them in glass jars. Then, all it takes is a little sprinkle! They are a great alternative to croutons and pack a big nutritional punch. If they are missing from a salad Mr. Wes immediately asks “where are my nuts!” Yes, that one is always good for a laugh.

And now, on to the recipes!

The great thing about salad is that you can totally make it up. These recipes are just guidelines. You can add in any kind of fruit, shredded carrots, different herbs, fruit, nuts, seeds, whatever!

Cabbage and Greens Salad with Tamari Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Serves 4

Ingredients
½ cup pumpkin seeds
½ tablespoon tamari
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Juice of ½ lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
½ teaspoon maple syrup or honey
1 teaspoon mustard (Dijon or grain mustard work well)
Pinch of salt and pepper to taste
3 handfuls mixed salad greens
¼ medium cabbage, red or green
1 green onion, white and green parts chopped
1 tablespoon chopped herbs of choice (thyme, chives, tarragon all work well)

Instructions

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add pumpkin seeds and toast, stirring or tossing the seeds frequently so they don’t burn. The seeds should begin to puff up and brown slightly. When most of the seeds have started to brown, turn off the heat and add the tamari. (The tamari will make the pan sizzle loudly and steam will rise – don’t be afraid! This is totally normal). Start stirring the seeds immediately with a wooden spoon so they are fully coated in the tamari. Within a minute or two the tamari will have dried up. Put the seeds on a plate or platter in a single layer so they can cool.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, lemon, maple syrup, mustard, salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust flavor as needed. For more depth you can add a splash of balsamic vinegar.
  3. Cut the cabbage in half and then cut one of the halves in half again (so you have two quarters and one half). Finely slice one of the quarters using a mandolin or sharp knife. You can run your knife through the cabbage once or twice after slicing it if the slices seem too long. If you want more cabbage or your cabbage is a bit small slice the other quarter. Reserve the remaining cabbage for another use.
  4. In a large salad bowl combine the mixed greens, cabbage, green onion and herbs. Add half the dressing and toss until well combined. Taste the salad and add more dressing if necessary.
  5. Before serving sprinkle with a handful of the toasted pumpkin seeds. Store remaining seeds in a jar. They will keep for weeks and are a great addition to any salad instead of croutons! Or, as a snack as is.  Enjoy!

 Sesame-Ginger Rice Noodles with Cucumbers and Carrots

 Serves 3-4

Ingredients
8 ounces rice noodles
1 large English cucumber
2 medium carrots
3-4 green onions (scallions), white and green parts chopped
1/3 cup tahini
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
juice from half a lemon (you can skip the rice vinegar and use a whole lemon instead)
1 tablespoon white miso paste
2 teaspoons tamari (San-J brand recommended)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/3 cup water
cilantro or parsley to garnish
salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Bring large pot of water to a boil, add the soba noodles, according to the package directions. You want them to have a bit of a bite. Be careful not to overcook them! Drain and rinse under cold water. Put noodles into a large serving dish or bowl.
  2. Peel the cucumber and then cut in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds inside with a spoon. Thinly slice each cucumber half so you end up with “c” shape pieces. Add the cucumber to the noodles.
  3. Peel the carrots, cut in half and thinly slice them similar to the cucumber. Add the carrots to the noodles and cucumbers. Add the green onion as well.
  4. In a food processor or blender add the rice wine vinegar, lemon juice, miso paste, tamari, sesame oil and red pepper flakes. Give it a spin to start combining everything. Add a bit of the water and blend again. You don’t want your dressing to thick or too thin. Continue adding water until you have a nice creamy consistency. Try the dressing and add salt to taste. You can also add more tamari, sesame oil or lemon juice if it needs a little more flavor.
  5. Pour half the dressing over the noodle mixture and toss with tongs. Add more dressing if needed. The noodles and veggies can thin out the flavor a bit so have a taste and add more salt or other dressing ingredients if needed. Enjoy!
Comments { 2 } · Posted on August 5, 2013 in General, Healthy Recipes

On the Fly 7-Minute Stir Fry

I’m in the middle of my 4th move in less than 18 months. Yeah, you heard that right. My 4th MOVE! Thank goodness this will be my final move for a VERY, very, very long time.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Mr. Wes and I recently bought our neighbors house and are slowly but surely moving in. The houses are only about 100 feet apart so moving is a very manual process of shuffling things into the new place. Good thing Mr. Wes is so industrious and created this handy “moving van” with a built in clothes rack!

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It’s when he gets a little too industrious and suggests putting together a 9-hole golf course to entertain our wedding guests that I have to step in and put on the breaks.

But, I digress.

When things get crazy like this eating well can feel impossible, even for the most dedicated healthy eater. Yes, this girl included! Earlier this week, after endless hours of painting and cleaning I was starving and needed lunch FAST. I opened the fridge and was at a total loss. I had cooked brown rice. Boooring! I opened the freezer and found a bag of organic mixed veggies (corn, peas, carrots and green beans) and immediately thought of the “stir fry” my mom would whip up in a pinch when I was a kid. Ok, I admit….she made this for me just a few months ago.

Why 7- minute stir fry? Because, let’s be honest. Anyone who says they can cook something GOOD in 5 minutes or less is full of it.

So, instead of grabbing the cereal box take a few extra minutes and turn on the stove. Trust me, this is way better than a bowl of fruit loops and you’ll be back in action in no time at all!

This recipe can be made simply (as I’ve done below) or made more complex by using fresh veggies, more spices etc. Either way it’s a great basis for a quick and simple meal. So, when hunger strikes, the kids are whining or your other half is asking “is dinner ready yet?” whip up this stir fry and everyone will be oh so happy!

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On the Fly 7-Minute Stir Fry

Ingredients
1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
1 cup frozen organic veggies (stir fry veggies, broccoli and cauliflower, corn, peas, carrots and green beans. Whatever tickles your fancy)
1 cup cooked brown rice or quinoa (Get in the habit of always having cooked grains in your fridge. They are perfect for a quick meal!)
2 eggs, beaten
Drizzle of tamari (This is real soy sauce. San-J brand recommended)
Drizzle of toasted sesame oil, optional
Pinch of crushed red pepper, optional
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once hot add the frozen veggies and sautee until they beging to defrost and soften. Add the rice and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until everything is cooked through and hot. 
  2. Push the rice and veggies to one side of the pan. Add another drizzle of olive oil and add your eggs. Give them a stir with a fork and let them cook for about 1 minute or so. Before they get too dry mix them in with the rice and veggie mixture until everything is well combined.
  3. Remove from the heat, add the tamari, sesame oil and crushed red pepper. Stir until incorporated. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

Do you have a quickie meal that is a stand-by in your kitchen? Tell me all about it in the comments below.

Comments { 0 } · Posted on June 28, 2013 in General, Healthy Recipes

Beet Slaw with Horseradish

Beets – you either love them or hate them. If you already love them, welcome to the club! If you hate them chances are you’ve had the misfortune of encountering the canned kind on a restaurant salad. I agree. That version is less than stellar. I’m here to convert the haters into total beet-lovers so they can join the club and reap all the incredible benefits. Because, not only is this club delicious, it will do amazing things for your health! Here are just a few reasons to put beautiful beets back in your diet.

1.     Love Your Liver: Your liver works 24/7 to keep to you clean and clear of toxins that enter your body. So, it’s important to give it a little love! Beets have long been used for medicinal purposes because of their ability to stimulate and liver’s detoxification processes.
2.     Beets for your Heartbeat: Beets are generally very supportive of the blood and circulation. Specifically, they contain important phytonutrients such as betanin and isobetanin and key nutrient choline that can inhibit inflammatory markers linked to heart disease.
3.     Grab the Greens: The most nutritious beets are those with the greens still attached. Cut them off as soon as you get home or they will begin to wilt. The greens are highly nutritious and shouldn’t be discarded. They are rich in folic acid, especially important for healthy development of the fetus during pregnancy. They are also an excellent source of vitamin K for strong bones and vitamin A for good eyesight and healthy skin. You can sauté with garlic them, add them to soups or use the tender greens in a salad.

I recently made this recipe at my local farmers market and it was a big hit! The lovers AND haters were big fans of this salad and everyone was amazed at how quick and simple the recipe is. The memorable response was a couple who stopped by once the crowd had subsided a bit. The woman asked for a sample and in the same breath told me how she really didn’t care for beets. She took a hesitant spoonful, paused, nodded and took another bite. Her response….”this is actually pretty good!” Her husband was stunned and said,

“I’ve been married to this woman for 30 years and I’ve NEVER seen her eat a beet before!”

What can I say folks…I’m here for all your foodie firsts! 🙂

Raw Beet Slaw with Horseradish

Serves 4

Ingredients
1 to 1 ½ pounds beets, scrubbed
1 large or 2 small spring onion
1 tablespoon fresh horseradish, or more if you like it spicier (Jarred works as well. Read the label to ensure you recognize the ingredients and it’s free of flavorings and oils.)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 sprig tarragon, minced (optional)
¼ cup parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
1. Grate the beets on the large grating insert of your food processor. (You can also use a box grater. If you grate them by hand rubber gloves can be very handy!) Scrape grated beets into a large bowl.
2. Peel the horseradish and grate it finely in the food processor or on a box grater. Add it to the beets and mix until well combined.
3. Add the olive oil, vinegar and herbs to the beets and horseradish. Combine well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Serving Suggestions: This slaw can be eaten with crackers, on a sandwich, with grilled meat or alongside a hearty green salad. When in season grated carrots are a nice addition to this dish and replacing the horseradish with ginger gives it a refreshing bite. You can store this salad, covered in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Photo from HERE

Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Mark Bittman
Comments { 0 } · Posted on June 21, 2013 in Healthy Recipes

Banana Scones with Seeds and Raisins

Summertime can be total crazy-time! Family travel, swimming lessons, summer camp, keeping the garden weed free, mowing the lawn and home improvement chores all seem to happen over the next few months.

Is it just me or does laundry seem to triple in the summer?

Mr. Wes and I have been going non-stop and it doesn’t look like things will be slowing down anytime soon. But, I’m loving every crazy-making moment! We recently bought our neighbors house in our quest to take over our little hillside in the boonies. So we’re in the midst of painting, fixing, buying furniture, packing and unpacking. All while keeping 6 acres of grass under control, massive landscaping and planning our September wedding.

Home Cooked Healing also getting quite a bit of attention which is AWESOME! Between writing articles for the local paper, cooking demos at the farmers market, running a cleanse, teaching classes and planning a 6-week weight management program I’m pretty much meeting myself coming and going. (And, usually seeing Mr. Wes when I’m going). It’s exhausting and exhilarating at the same time!

When things are feeling nearly out of control it’s essential to have a grab and go breakfast on hand. Skipping breakfast can lead to making unhealthy choices all day long and can put you in a seriously funky mood. Who wants that??? That’s where these delicious banana scones come in. They are a total cinch to make and everyone in the family can grab one on their way out the door in the morning. If you have a few extra minutes warm your scone up in a toaster oven and add a smidge of peanut butter. If you’re extra hungry pair it with hard boiled eggs and/or some fresh fruit.

I’m telling you, these scones are divine!

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Banana Scones with Seeds and Raisins

Makes 10-12 scones

Ingredients
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup rolled oats
2/3 cup brown rice flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened dried coconut
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup sunflower seeds

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a medium bowl, combine mashed bananas, oil, syrup and vanilla.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, combine oats, flour, baking soda, coconut, cinnamon and salt. Add the banana mixture to the dry ingredients and blend until just combined.
  4. Fold in raisins and seeds.
  5. Drop large spoonfuls of batter onto cookie sheet. You don’t need to roll or flatten – they will spread out on their own.
  6. Bake 20-25 minutes or until scones are lightly browned. Remove cookie sheet from oven. Place scones on wire rack to cool. Enjoy!

Storing and Serving: Store scones in an airtight container. Freeze if you plan on keeping them for more than 3 days.

Recipe adapted from Clean Food by Terry Walters

Comments { 0 } · Posted on June 12, 2013 in General

Sautéed Bok Choy with Garlic and Ginger

Bok choy has got it all! It has a deliciously sweet and mild taste. Its leaves are tender while its stalks provide a satisfying crunch. Plus, it cooks up quickly! It is most often used in Asian soups and stir-fries but can also be added to salads or served on it’s own as a fantastic side dish. Being part of the cabbage family it is of course also packed with amazing nutrients that are beneficial for your health

Here are 3 reasons to bring this tasty green home today!

Lower Blood Pressure Naturally: Bok choy is packed with potassium and calcium, both of which help to lower blood pressure.
Your Antioxidant Ally: This veggie is loaded in antioxidant vitamins A and C. One cup of cooked bok choy provides more than 100% of the RDA of vitamin A and almost two-thirds the RDA vitamin C.
Dynamic Digestion: Bok choy is a good source of fiber, which is essential for a healthy digestive system. Fiber also helps manage weight, balance blood sugar and helps eliminate toxins.

The farmers market is abundant with bok choy this time of year. Stop by the market this afternoon between 3 and 7 to pick up a few bunches. Then, stop by the demo tent to see me make this recipe so you’ll be ready to hit the kitchen when you get home!

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Sautéed Bok Choy with Garlic and Ginger

Serves 4

Ingredients
½ tablespoon coconut oil
2 bunches bok choy
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 clove garlic
2 teaspoon tamari
drizzle of toasted sesame oil
salt to taste
pinch of crushed red pepper (optional)

Instructions

  1. Prepare the bok choy by cutting the stalk parts from the leaves. Slice the stalks at an angle into 1-inch pieces. Layer the leaves on top of each other, roll up tightly and slice into 1-inch strips. Place stalks and leaves in separate bowls.
  2. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Sauté the stalks with a pinch of salt about 3-4 minutes, until they start to become translucent and tender. Add garlic and ginger and give a good stir to combine.
  3. Add the leaves to the pan and toss well so everything is combined. Sauté the leaves about 1 minute until they begin to wilt lightly. Add tamari and toasted sesame oil. Heat through about 1 more minute. Taste and add more tamari, sesame oil or salt as necessary. Enjoy!

Serving suggestions: You can serve this as a side dish alongside chicken or fish. It’s also delicious mixed with brown rice and topped with a fried egg for a quick and simple dinner.

Comments { 0 } · Posted on May 22, 2013 in Healthy Recipes

Easy-Peasy Bean Burger

I have a pretty serious hoarding problem. It’s present in pretty much every room of my house.

The good thing is that my obsession has to do with recipes. Not yarn balls, old comic books, plastic flower arrangements or kittens.

I scour newspapers, magazines, my favorite food blogs (TheKitchen and 101Cookbooks are two fantastic ones!) and Pinterest for recipe ideas. A file folder in my kitchen is overflowing with recipes that I’ve collected for several years now. There is a stack of cookbooks next to the bed that I like to leaf through for inspiration before going to bed. (Yes, I read cookbooks at night while other people read Danielle Steele). And, my desk always has a pile of freshly printed recipes waiting just to be whisked off into the kitchen.

While I love “recipe hunting,” it’s always a special treat when someone passes a tried and true recipe on to me. It’s the recipes you pick up along the way from family, friends and acquaintances you meet at pot luck dinners that always have special memories attached to them – who they came from, how we came about them, and why we’re so fond of them. And, when we make these recipes it’s impossible to not remember the person who shared it with us.

Making and eating food together is such a powerful way of connecting across generations, continents, coasts and cultures.

This week I want to share a recipe from my dear friend Gordon in San Francisco. Gordon and I completed our therapeutic nutrition certifications together and when I’m in his neighborhood he always invites me over for tea. We spend an hour or two catching up, discussing our latest nutrition discoveries and he ALWAYS shares one of his latest recipes with me. I saw him late April and he told me about a new bean burger recipe he had perfected that his clients were going totally crazy over. I thought, “yeah, yeah, I’ve seen a million bean burger recipes. They are messy and always fall apart.” I was skeptical but I promised to try the recipe when I got home.

Turns out, Gordon shared the ultimate secret to making a fool-proof bean burger with me! Chill it!

When Gordon walked me through the recipe he made a pretty big deal about needing to chill the burgers first. I’m not a fan of following directions very closely but I also didn’t want to mess up his recipe. I put my ego aside and followed his instructions. They turned out great! (Note to self….follow directions!)

I took the liberty of making a few little tweaks to his recipe and want to share it with you today. And, when you make these burgers think of me and my friend Gordon in San Francisco!

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In the comments below tell me what treasured recipe you’ve received that has some wonderful memories attached to it.

Easy-Peasy Spiced Bean Burger
Serves 4-5

Ingredients
1 can black beans (kidney beans work as well), drained and rinsed with hot water. The hot water helps to remove the metallic taste from the can. (Eden Organic brand recommended)
½ cup cooked brown rice or quinoa
½ cup old fashioned oats
1 tablespoon Tamari (San-J brand preferred)
2 tablespoons tomato paste or salsa
1 teaspoon each of cumin, coriander, smoked paprika (you can use your own mix of preferred spices)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 tablespoon coconut or olive oil

Instructions

  1. Place rinsed beans in a large bowl and mash with a fork or a potato masher. An immersion blender is great for this process. Adding a splash of hot water can help break up the beans
  2. Stir in the rice, oats, tamari, tomato paste, spices, salt and pepper and mix until well combined. If the mixture is a bit wet you can add a bit more oats. If it’s too dry add a splash of water.
  3. You can divide the mixture into 4 large balls or 5 medium sized ones. Shape into 1 inch patties and place them on a plate and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes. This is a crucial step as it will help keep the burgers together!
  4. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Grill the patties until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes on each side. Carefully flip the burgers so they don’t fall apart.

You can serve this alongside a shredded cabbage slaw, potato salad or with a fried egg on top for breakfast.

Comments { 1 } · Posted on May 15, 2013 in Healthy Recipes

Banana Almond Muffins

If your idea of morning breakfast is a cup of coffee and a morning pastry then I’m willing to guess that you’re ready for a snooze come noon. Our morning staples of caffeine, carbs and sugar get us out the door but leave us fried, frazzled and searching for the office candy bowl before lunchtime. Sound familiar?

What you nourish your body with first thing in the morning will determine your mood, focus and energy for the rest of the day. When you wake up in the morning you haven’t eating for at least 8-10 hours or more. Your body has been fasting and needs some good quality protein, complex carbs and healthy fats to get the engine running and humming until lunchtime.

That is why I love these Banana Almond Muffins for breakfast. The almonds are a great source of protein and heart healthy fats and the bananas provide powerful potassium, which is important for your cardiovascular system. Cinnamon helps to balance blood sugar, which is crucially important first thing in the morning. Paired with some natural peanut butter or honey these muffins make the perfect breakfast or late morning snack. They also happen to be gluten free. If that is something you are interested in experimenting with then these are a great way to start.

Banana Almond Muffins

Ingredients
1/4 cup plain organic yogurt or milk (dairy, rice, hemp, almond and coconut milk all work as well)
1-2 TBS. honey or real maple syrup
3 eggs, beaten
3 mashed extra-ripe bananas (looking really brown and splotchy)
3 cups ground almond flour or almond meal (Bob’s Red Mill is a good brand)
Pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice
1 tsp baking soda
½ cup walnuts or pecans, chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place 12 cupcake liners into a muffin tin.
  2. Mix together yogurt, eggs, and bananas in large bowl and stir until well combined. Mix almond flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and walnuts into the wet ingredients.
  3. Pour batter the lined muffin tin and bake 25-30 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Let cool for about 5 minutes before removing from the tin. Place muffins on a wire rack and let cool completely.
Comments { 1 } · Posted on May 4, 2013 in Healthy Recipes

Let them eat truffles!

“Do You Eat Brownies???”

Last week I attended a women’s business conference and this question came up when the person learned that I work in the nutrition field. I get this question pretty regularly in different forms….”do you eat chocolate? Do your clients have to give up sweets? Can you tell me how to say no to chocolate chip cookies? Please tell me you eat dessert!”

So, I’m going to declare it right here. I, Tanya McCausland eat dessert!

Sweets and treats are part of exploring and savoring amazing food. When we deprive ourselves of the occasional piece of chocolate we’re setting ourselves up to inhale the entire bar. Yeah, we’ve all been there!

This week I’ve been in San Francisco visiting with some of my dearest friends. One of our favorite things to do is cook and enjoy a meal together. There is something absolutely magical about roasting potatoes, chopping herbs and grilling fresh sausages and is amazingly heartwarming and soothing – especially when you’re doing it in a tiny but bright San Francisco apartment kitchen! Alas, no meal is complete without a sweet treat at the end. The other evening we shared some amazing dark chocolate with almonds and dried cherries while we finished our wine and laughed late into the night. It was fantastic in every way possible!

So yes, this girl DOES eat dessert. But, I have standards that make eating it enjoyable instead of totally shameful.

How to Eat Dessert

1) Spot Cravings: How do you feel when you go scouting out the office candy bowl? Are you angry, frustrated, stressed, sad, tired? We tend to reach for the treats when things aren’t going our way. But, guess what? After you inhale the Snickers Bar you’ll still be angry, frustrated, sad and tired. Weird how that works, right? Instead, address your feelings with an appropriate action like taking a 10 minute walk outside, talking it out with a colleague, taking three cleansing breaths or even looking up cute kitty pictures on Pinterest. Or, do all three!

2) Splurge: There is a ton of cheap, crappy candy out there. Don’t fall for $2 bags of mini chocolate bars or 2 for 1 deal. Your body is not a garbage disposal so don’t treat it like one by feeding it junk. Your body deserves only the best and that includes the best chocolate you can find! Go for quality, not quantity. Spend the extra couple bucks on the “fancy” organic dark chocolate bar or the macaroon from a local coffee shop. Then, move on to step 3.

3) Savor: Now with your treat in hand take time to really enjoy it instead of inhaling it in mere seconds. That little piece of luxury deserves full attention! Sit down, and deeply inhale the deliciousness you’re about to eat (yes, I said smell your food!) and then take a bite. Close your eyes and thoroughly enjoy the taste and texture of this amazing treat you just took the time to savor.

4) Share: Eating is a communal activity and that includes dessert! It’s much more satisfying, enjoyable and profoundly feeds the soul when we can share food with another person. Cut your muffin in half and offer it to your office mate, share dessert with your love (one spoon only!) and crack open that bar of chocolate when the girls come over for dinner.

5) Stir up Your Own: While I have a serious weakness for a good bar of dark chocolate, I do love stirring up my own sweet treats. Unfortunately (well, fortunately) I’m not much of a baker so my oven doesn’t see much cookie or cake action. But, I do make one tasty truffle! My Chocolate Chia Truffles are delicious and super simple. If you can push the button on your food processor you’ve got what it takes to make truffles. By the way, this recipe presents a great opportunity to invite your kids into the kitchen with you. Just beware of those messy fingers!

Chocolate Chia Seed Truffles

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups pitted dates, chopped
¼ cup unsweetened raw cacao or cocoa powder
½ cup whole chia seeds
½ teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
1 cup raw slivered almonds (can also use raw cashews, pistachios or walnuts)
½ cup shredded coconut for dusting

Instructions:

  • Soak chopped dates in hot water for about 10 minutes
  • Strain dates (reserve water) and puree in food processor until thick paste forms
  • Add cocoa powder, chia seeds and vanilla extract. Pulse until combined.
  • Add reserved liquid if needed. Add only a very small amount at a time so mixture doesn’t get too soft
  • Add almonds; pulse until well distributed throughout mixture
  • Form mixture into small balls and roll in shredded coconut
  • Place on wax paper in single layer and chill in refrigerator for about one hour. Place them in containers with lids. These will keep for about a week in the fridge.
Comments { 0 } · Posted on May 2, 2013 in Healthy Recipes

Lovely Lentils with Leeks, Mushrooms and Carrots

Mark Twain famously said “The longest winter was the summer I spent in San Francisco.” If you’ve ever been to northern California in the summer this will make you chuckle because it can be quite chilly. I’ve sat on a San Francisco beach in mid August huddled around a campfire wearing a down jacket.

Not to disagree with Mr. Twain but for me, the longest winter EVER was the one I just experienced in Central Pennsylvania.

When I moved back from California this past November I remember happily saying “oooh, I missed the cold weather and the snow!” Well, I’m eating my words now. It snowed AFTER the spring equinox and that’s really not fun! I’m getting tired of eating soups, stews and chilis. I don’t want to get brain freeze anymore while running or defrost our chickens’ waterers every morning. And, most importantly, I’m really sick of looking up San Francisco weather and seeing that it’s 61 and sunny!

Well, my prayers have been answered! The clouds have parted, the sun is shining, the breeze is warm and the birds are chirping. It’s 80 degrees outside! Of course it’s all a big tease, because the weather report is calling for temperatures to drop nearly 25 degrees in the next few days.

I find food most satisfying when it matches the weather and season. Strawberries in the dead of winter taste like plastic and hot soup in the summer is just…well, too hot. So, when the weather can’t seem to make up it’s mind it can be helpful to make food that can adapt to the weather and your busy schedule.

My Lovely Lentil recipe that I made over the weekend is the perfect example of a simple and flexible recipe. It still has a cool weather flair with a taste of spring. You can eat it warmed in a pita, cold as a side to a green salad, on top of a baked sweet potato or mixed with rice or quinoa for a hearty main dish. It also lends itself well as a snack with carrot sticks or crackers. Plus, it’s totally portable and doesn’t need to be kept refrigerated.

When I made this recipe Mr. Wes came in the house sniffing around for the big steak he expected to find me cooking.

When I told him it was this lentil recipe he didn’t believe me. And, after a taste he said “yeah, but you put meat in there somewhere, right?” Nope, no meat! Even the most voracious meat-eater couldn’t stop eating this!

Although this recipe is perfect for the spastic spring weather on the east coast it hails from beautiful California. My dear colleague, friend and mentor Jamie Dougherty shared it with me last year during a cooking class we did at a California winery. So, as I enjoy this lentil salad for lunch today I think that the weather here today is nearly identical to what it was on that day at that winery. Sun shining and warm breezes. But, off in the distance I see them. Rain clouds are gathering. According to my iPhone it’s 73 degrees and sunny in San Francisco. But, that’s ok. I’ve got a delicious lunch, wonderful memories and it’s supposed to be 72 tomorrow!

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Lovely Lentils with Leeks, Mushrooms and Carrots

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup olive oil
2 leeks, white and soft green parts, sliced thinly
4 medium carrots, scrubbed and 1/2-inch-diced
1 cup slice mushrooms (shiitake or baby bella are good choices)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup French green Le Puy lentils
½ medium onion, peeled. Do not remove the stem so the onion stays together.
6 whole cloves
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Handful of parsley, chopped

Instructions

  1. Stick the cloves in the onion. Place the lentils, 4 cups of water and the onion with the cloves in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes, or until the lentils are almost tender.
  2. While the lentils are cooking, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium sauté pan, add the leeks, carrots and mushrooms with a generous pinch of salt, and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes until softened and fragrant. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Set aside.
  3. When the lentils are done, remove and discard the onion and drain the lentils. Put lentil and leek mixture in a serving bowl. Stir to combine.
  4. Whisk together the ¼ cup of olive oil, the mustard, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Add small amounts of the dressing to the lentil mixture, tasting as you go. Add salt and pepper if needed. Sprinkle with parsley, stir well and allow the lentils to cool until just warm, about 15 minutes.
Comments { 1 } · Posted on April 11, 2013 in Healthy Recipes

Holy Granola (Bar)!

I’ve been getting back into running and am in the middle of training for a 5K. It’s been quite an adjustment with the east coast weather but, Sky and I have been braving the cold. I sport my neon blue running shoes and she looks styling in her blue harness. We’re quite the pair!

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The one thing that gets me out of bed on a 30 degree morning is getting to eat one of these granola bars before we hit the road. Combined with half an apple dotted and a smidge of peanut butter, they make the perfect pre-run snack. They also satisfy Mr. Wes‘ crunchy cravings and are the perfect snack for him to take to work. He’s shared them with some of the other guys at work and they’ve gotten rave reviews!

I can guarantee that dad’s, kids, burley mechanics and other picky eaters will dig right in.

What I really love is that these are free of crappy oils, processed sugars and all those icky preservatives which the store-bought versions are loaded with. If you are looking for a gluten free bar then be sure to use gluten free oats (Bob’s Red Mill is a good choice).

I know you’re probably wondering why I’ve called them “Holy Granola Bars.” Well, I try to make time on Sunday evenings to prep a few meals or snacks for the week. Lately this means cooking some sort of big stew or chili and making granola bars. Hence the name. Plus, when Mr. Wes eats one he says “holy cow these are good!”

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Holy Granola Bars

Ingredients

6 cups old fashioned or rolled oats (they are the same thing)
1/4  cup unrefined coconut oil, melted. Plus more for greasing the pan (Spectrum brand is a good choice)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup honey or grade B maple syrup
1/4 cup water or apple juice
1/4 cup molasses
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups puffed rice (you can find this in the cereal aisle or natural foods section. Be sure you get the unsweetened kind)
1 cup freshly ground flaxseed
1 cup roughly chopped nuts (any combination of pecans, walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts works)
1/4 cup raisins

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees
  2. In a large bowl toss the oats with the melted coconut oil and salt until all the oats are coated. Spread the mixture on 2 baking sheets and toast in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Stir the oats every 5 minutes or so to ensure even toasting and prevent burning. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile in a medium saucepan, combine the coconut sugar, honey, water and molasses. Heat the mixture slowly over low heat, stirring until all combined the the sugar has melted. Stir in the vanilla.
  4. In the large bowl toss together the toasted oats, puffed rice, ground flaxseed, nuts and raisins. Pour in the coconut sugar, honey, molasses mixture stirring the dry ingredients as you pour. Stir with a wooden spoon until everything is totally coated with the sticky mixture.
  5. Grease a rimmed baking sheet with 2-3 tablespoons of coconut oil. Press mixture into the the baking sheet. It helps to use a piece of wax paper to do this so you don’t get half of the mixture stuck to your fingers.
  6. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.  Cut into pieces with a sharp knife and pack into individual granola bars.

Notes: This is a totally flexible recipes. Experiment with different nuts, seeds or dried fruit such as chopped apricots, cherries or goji berries.

Be sure to snack on all the delicious crumbs that are left over from cutting up the bars!

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Comments { 5 } · Posted on March 25, 2013 in Healthy Recipes