Tag Archives | lunch

Asparagus – for salad, side or super quick lunch

It’s here, it’s here! Asparagus season is here!

Our farmers market moved outside earlier this month and beautiful asparagus was on display at several stands. I was like a kid in a candy store (or, more accurately, a food nut at the farmers market) and dove right in picking out two big bunches. A few shoppers may have seen me skipping back to my car….

If you haven’t brought asparagus into your kitchen yet you MUST pick some up right away. Asparagus is a super special veggie with a pretty short-lived season so it’s now or never my friend! If you live in California you may have seen these beautiful green spears as early as February and will enjoy them at least until June or July. In the colder east coast our season is from May until July. Local, in season asparagus is tender, crisp and juicy and can even be eaten raw. If you remember it as tough and stringy you likely got asparagus at the grocery store which flew in from a faraway land. Not good! Check out your farmers market and get your local asparagus today!

As I mentioned, asparagus is a super special veggie – let me tell you what I mean. Asparagus is a great source of inulin, a substance that is not digested in the stomach. Instead, it makes it’s way to our large intestines where it supports the growth of good bacteria. By helping out those good guys we support healthier digestion, improve nutrient absorption, and can lower the risk of colon cancer. Plus, asparagus is loaded in vitamin K, important for bone health and blood clotting and vitamin B1 for proper energy production and nerve health.

Listen up ladies! Asparagus is rich in folate. That important nutrient that you need to load up on if you’re pregnant. Get it in!

If the health benefits don’t have you convinced, let me leave you with this. Asparagus is one of the easiest veggies to prepare. With about 5 strokes of your knife, a hot pan and some healthy fat you’ve got a fantastic side dish in 5 minutes. Yeah, I’m a sucker for convenience too!

When I got home from the market I stared at my two bunches of asparagus on the kitchen counter and thought, “this sure is A LOT of asparagus for two people!” So, I decided to create a dish that could be eaten hot or cold so I could easily eat it as a quick lunch. What resulted was a delicious spring dish that could be served as a vegetable side, a room temperature salad or a grab and go lunch. Win, win, win!

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Asparagus and Bean Salad with Lemon Ginger Aioli 

Serves 3-4

Ingredients
½ tablespoon organic extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon shallot (you can also use a yellow onion)
½ teaspoon ground coriander
1 bunch asparagus, about ½ pound, cut into pinky finger length pieces
1 cup chickpeas (rinsed and drained if canned)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon tarragon (or other fresh herbs you have on hand)
1 teaspoon parsley
sea salt
freshly grated lemon zest (from organic lemon!)

Instructions

  1. In a large sauté pan heat olive oil over medium heat. Add shallot (if using) and sauté, stirring occasionally 2-3 minutes until it begins to soften and become translucent. Lower heat if shallot begins to brown.
  2. Stir in coriander and sauté about 1 minute more until the spice becomes fragrant.
  3. Add asparagus pieces and stir until well combined with the shallot and coriander. Cook the asparagus, stirring occasionally, for a total of about 4-5 minutes until it just starts to become bright green. Add the chickpeas and stir until well combined. Cook about 3-4 minutes more until the chickpeas are cooked through and the asparagus is green and still has crunch.
  4. Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon juice, tarragon and parsley. Season with sea salt to taste. The lemon juice should release any yummy bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan.
  5. Put asparagus and bean salad in a serving bowl and garnish with lemon zest. Enjoy!

Serving suggestions: This salad is perfect warm, room temperature or cold as a leftover for lunch. It can also be combined with a grain like wild rice or quinoa to extend it or make a heartier meal. Also delicious with tuna, topped with a soft boiled egg or added to a homemade broth for soup. When asparagus is out of season substitute in another veggie like broccoli, summer squash or turnips. To make it even snazzier you can finish it off with toasted hazelnuts or almond slivers!

Inspired by Wild Apple Magazine

Lemon Ginger Aioli

Ingredients
½ cup cashews, soaked in water 2-6 hours
½ teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon white miso paste
1 teaspoon flaxseed oil
3-4 tablespoons water
sea salt to taste

Instructions

  1. In a blender combine cashews, ginger, lemon juice, miso paste, flaxseed oil and 2 tablespoons of the water. Blend until well combined. Add more of the water and blend again if it needs to be thinned out more. You can adjust the consistency to your liking my adding more or less water.
  2. Taste and add sea salt to taste. Enjoy!

Serving suggestions: You can easily adjust the seasoning of this dressing by using other ingredients such as toasted sesame oil instead of the flaxseed oil or tamari instead of salt. If you don’t have cashews or forgot to soak them you can use the same amount of tahini in place of the cashews.

Serve the aioli dressing alongside the asparagus bean salad so everyone can add the right amount to their liking. Store the aioli in a glass container for 3-5 days.

Inspired by Heather Crosby, YumUniverse.com

 

Comments { 1 } · Posted on May 21, 2014 in Healthy Recipes

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

Kick Out Cancer with Cabbage

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and this weeks fall soup recipe is packed with a food that can help us kick cancer in the kitchen. By cooking and eating whole, unprocessed foods you are taking a huge step towards preventing and recovering from cancer and many other diseases. True health really begins in your kitchen!

The American Cancer Society’s key recommendation to reduce the risk of cancer is to eat cruciferous vegetables on a regular basis. Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage. This group of vegetables contains more phytochemicals (mostly in the form of glucocsinolates) with demonstrable anticancer properties than any other vegetable family. Popular studies have shown that the higher the intake of these vegetables the lower the rates of cancer, particularly colon, prostate, lung and breast cancer.

Cabbage is “king” of the cruciferous vegetable family because of its extra-special health powers. The glucocsinolates in cabbage work primarily by increasing antioxidant mechanisms and improving the body’s ability to detoxify and eliminate harmful chemicals and hormones. That means keeping cancer out and inviting health in!

If that wasn’t enough, cabbage also has more vitamin C than oranges. A weakened immune system doesn’t just open you up for the common cold but also creates a more hospitable environment for cancer.

Fall is a great time to fill up on cabbage and all its amazing nutritional benefits. The market has beautiful tender cabbage that is sweet, crisp and perfect for a warming soup. Stop by the demonstration tent between 3-5 pm this afternoon to see how this delicious soup is made and get the first taste. You’ll never look at cabbage the same way again!

Curried Cabbage and Potato Soup

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

½ head green cabbage (about 16-20 ounces)
1 tablespoon coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
4-5 medium potatoes, unpeeled, cut into smaller than bite sized cubes
2 tablespoons Thai green curry paste (you can also use Indian powdered curry)
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
5 cups of water or vegetable broth
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
sea salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Remove any ragged leaves from the cabbage. Halve the cabbage (so you have two quarters) and remove the core. Slice the cabbage into thin strips about as thick as a pencil. You can do this with a knife or on a mandolin. Cut the long strips in half once.
  2. Warm the coconut oil over medium heat in a large heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven. Add the potatoes and a pinch of salt. Cook the potatoes, stirring occasionally for about 5-7 minutes until they start to become tender and brown a bit. They may stick a bit but don’t worry. The water will help get those stuck bits off the bottom. Stir in the curry paste (or powder), garlic and onion. Cook for another minute or so.
  3. Add the water and chickpeas. Raise the heat and bring the soup to a simmer. Add the cabbage and cook for another 3-4 minutes until it begins to soften. Don’t worry if it looks like there’s a lot of cabbage. It will collapse quite a bit.
  4. Taste your broth and add salt and pepper as needed. If you want a stronger flavor you can add more curry paste or a few shots of tamari. Enjoy!

Serving Suggestion: This soup is delicious on it’s own but I really love it with a splash of coconut milk which gives it a very distinct Thai flavor. Or, you can add less water and put in a whole can of coconut milk – also delicious! You can also add a cup of cooked brown rice or millet to make it even heartier and filling.

Comments { 0 } · Posted on October 15, 2013 in 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

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