Tag Archives | herbs

White Bean and Olive Spread and Herbed Quark Spread

Finding a healthy snack or lunch option at work can be like walking through a minefield. First you have to make it past the office candy bowl full of Halloween chocolates, sneak around the cookies in the vending machine and avoid eye contact with the cupcakes in the office kitchen. When that midday slump creeps up on us it’s hard to not reach for the nearest sugary treat to give us a jumpstart.

Once you start fueling yourself with “the white stuff” you will be on the sugar rollercoaster all day long. Not fun! One minute you feel great and totally energized, the next your energy level has left the building and you’re sneaking back to the office kitchen for “just one more cupcake.” And, once you’re on the ride it’s nearly impossible to get off.

Bringing your own snacks and lunches to work is key in not falling down the sugar rabbit hole. However, not just any snack will do! Focusing on snacks and lunches with protein and healthy fats will help keep your blood sugar stable, your energy up and your mind focused. Plus, your sugar cravings will decrease and you won’t give that vending machine a second glance.

With everything else you have to do when you get home from work there isn’t a lot of time for packing a lunch. That is why I really love making spreads that I can use on a sandwich or as a dip for crackers and veggies. Just pack them in small glass container or jars and they are ready for you to spread away! Spreads and dips are also a wonderful protein-rich after school snack for your kids instead of sugar-laden cereals, cookies, crackers and pre-packaged trail mixes.

This week I’ve included 2 recipes for my favorite spreads. They can be used on their own for a filling veggie sandwich or in addition to a meat sandwich instead of mayo. If you want to make it super quick, then use them as a dip for your favorite cracker or veggies.

White Bean and Olive Spread with Sundried Tomatoes

Serves 3-5

1 15-ounce cans white beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons kalamata olives, chopped
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
Juice of ½ a lemon
Sea salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the beans, olive oil, olives, tomatoes and lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Roughly mash the mixture with the back of a fork.
  2. Store in an airtight container for 2-3 days.
  3. You can use this to make a sandwich with sprouts, thinly sliced red onion and avocado. It is also a wonderful dip for crackers or veggies.

Herbed Quark Spread

Quark is a type of cheese with a creamy texture similar to Greek yogurt and a refreshing tangy taste. It is very popular in Europe and used as a dip, spread, in cakes and even on the skin to alleviate pain and clear blemishes. Quark is a rich source of protein, high in calcium for strong bones and teeth, vitamin A for healthy eyesight and B vitamins to support the nervous system. Try it as a savory spread or as a sweet breakfast option with your favorite berries, nuts or granola!

1 container of quark
Selection of fresh herbs like parsley, thyme, oregano and tarragon
Lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the quark, herbs and splash of lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix until well combined.
  2. Store in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
  3. This spread is perfect on a hearty multigrain bread with thinly sliced radishes. It is also a great topping for baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower.
Comments { 0 } · Posted on October 25, 2013 in Healthy Recipes

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

Savory Bean Salad with Onions and Herbs

I’m a total bean fanatic. Not a week goes by that I don’t have a bowl of dried beans soaking on my countertop. White beans, black beans, scarlet runner beans, pinto beans…they all get a turn in soup, chili and salads. They also make appearances as dips, fillings for omelets or sautéed with a little chopped bacon. Yum! And, wherever I use beans, fresh herbs are not far behind. Combining rich, creamy beans with savory herbs is a mouthwatering combination that has no limits.

Here’s why you need to get on the bean bandwagon!

1.    Your Friend Fiber: Beans are a great source of fiber. Fiber is known for “keeping you regular” but it does so much more than that! It helps maintain normal cholesterol and blood sugar levels, while keeping unwanted pounds off.

2.    Protein Power: Beans are a great vegetarian source of protein and loaded with other nutrients such as calcium, potassium and zinc. Consider replacing one meat meal each week with a bean dish such as a veggie chili. If you need that meat taste sauté the beans with a little ham or bacon and then toss in a handful of chopped kale for a complete meal.

3.    Cook ‘Em with Kombu: Kombu is a seaweed that is sold dried in strips or sheets. Adding a strip of kombu to your bean cooking water helps increase your beans digestibility and prevents the “toot” that beans are well-known for. You can find kombu at most health food stores. The farmers market is overflowing with a huge variety of herbs right now.

You can use virtually any combination of herbs and beans in this recipe to change it up. Basil and sundried tomatoes would be amazing, as would black beans with avocado and mango. The possibilities are endless!

photo

Savory Bean Salad with Onions and Herbs

Serves 4

Ingredients
1 small sweet potato
1 cup dried beans such as pinto or great northern (you can also a 2 cans of beans)
strip of kombu (optional)
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon of savory fresh herbs, roughly chopped (sage, oregano and hyssop are good choices)
Small handful parsley, chopped
Juice of one lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon real maple syrup or honey
pinch of salt and fresh pepper

Instructions

  1. If using dried beans, soak the beans in water overnight. Add juice of half a lemon and 2 pinches of salt to the soaking water.
  2. To cook the beans, strain them from the soaking water. Put in a medium pot with 3 cups of water, the kombu and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes until beans are tender but still have a bite. Strain in a fine mesh sieve and place beans in a serving bowl and add the onion.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Place the sweet potato in a small covered baking dish and bake for 30-40 minutes until soft but not too mushy. You want the potato to hold its shape. Remove from oven and let cool about 10 minutes. Once cooled down, cut the potato into bite-sized pieces and add to the beans.
  4. Place the sliced onion in a bowl and cover with water. Let sit while you’re preparing the dressing.
  5. To make the combine the herbs, parsley, lemon, olive oil, mustard, honey, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk until well combined.
  6. Add the onions to the bean and potato mixture. Pour half the dressing over the mixture and toss to combine. Taste and add more dressing and/or salt if necessary. Enjoy!

Cooking tip: You can cook the beans and bake the potato a day or two ahead of time. Then, all you have to do is assemble! You can store this salad for 2-3 days in the fridge.

Comments { 0 } · Posted on June 7, 2013 in General