vegetables

grapefruit guacamole

Posted by on May 7, 2013 in appetizer, condiment, snacks, vegetables | 0 comments

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I love avocados and I love grapefruit, so when I saw a recipe for grapefruit guacamole in a recent Living Without magazine, I naturally decided to try my own version.  Making guacamole is something my whole family does regularly because it is so darn easy.   To shake things up, we are always looking for ways to experiment with our guacamole.  This time, adding grapefruit segments was the new twist.

 

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Every guacamole starts out the same way – with perfectly ripe avocados.  I used two of them in this recipe.  In a medium sized bowl, I mashed the avocados with the juice of a lime, sea salt, and a minced clove of garlic.  Next I chopped white onion, cilantro, jalapeno, and pecans and added them to the bowl.  A local restaurant by Rob’s work that is a favorite of our family includes chopped pecans in their guacamole, so for years we have too.

 

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If ever there is a food I crave with intensity, it is grapefruit.  When I was pregnant – watch out.  I ate them nonstop every night.  My son is now almost as big of a grapefruit fan as I am.  To add the grapefruit segments to the guacamole, I started by cutting the grapefruit in half.  I ran a small knife around each segment to loosen each one from the peel and membrane.  I tried to remove as many seeds as possible while segmenting the grapefruit.  Using a grapefruit spoon, I gently scooped out each segment and folded them into the guacamole.  I squeezed a couple of spoonfuls of grapefruit juice out of the remaining grapefruit and added the juice to the guacamole as well.

 

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Guacamole can be eaten in so many ways!  Of course there is the typical chip and dip appetizer, or try slicing crisp veggies to use for dipping like radishes, cucumbers, or celery.  My family likes to use guacamole as a condiment, and spread it on wraps, sandwiches, or burgers.  One of my favorites is to top a couple of scrambled pasture raised eggs with a scoop of guac.  Let me know your favorite way to eat guacamole!

 

grapefruit guacamole
Author: 
Recipe type: appetizer, snack, vegetable, condiment
Serves: 6
 

Ingredients
  • 2 avocados
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • 1 small jalapeno, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoon chopped pecans
  • 1 grapefruit

Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, mash together avocados, lime juice, garlic, and sea salt.
  2. Add onion, jalapeno, cilantro, and pecans.
  3. Cut the grapefruit in half.
  4. Using a small knife, remove segments from the grapefruit and gently fold in the guacamole.
  5. Squeeze two spoonfuls of juice from the remaining grapefruit and stir into the guacamole.
  6. Serve with your favorite chip or sliced veggies, or use as a condiment on a wrap, burger, or sandwich.

 

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crunchy asparagus fries

Posted by on Apr 22, 2013 in featured, side dish, snacks, vegetables | 2 comments

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I think one of the most frustrating things about meal time with my children is getting them to eat their vegetables, especially green ones, beyond the obligatory two bites.  Vegetables taste and look exactly the opposite of anything that is remotely appetizing to a child thanks to all of the fun, colorful, sweet, and flavorful packaged convenience foods they like so much.  But these perfectly crunchy asparagus fries are ready to take on the kid taste test challenge, as they combine two aspects in food that at least opens the door for kids to try and maybe even like (?) a green vegetable.

 

First, asparagus fries are a finger food!  All kids (even big ones) like foods they can eat with their hands.  Any time you can package a food in a way that looks less intimidating is a step in the right direction.  The thin green stalks of asparagus, when hidden by a little gluten free breading and spices, make a decent attempt at mimicking an all time kid favorite – the French fry.

 

Second, asparagus fries can be dipped.  Condiments work miracles on any food.  To a kid, ketchup makes everything taste better.  Plus, dipping his or her food in the condiment of choice allows a kid to personalize the taste and have a say in how he or she is going to enjoy the food.  Every parent knows that kids love have a say in just about everything, including what and how they want to eat their food.

 

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Asparagus is one of the many green vegetables that comes in season during spring, and like other green vegetables, asparagus is loaded with all kinds of nutrients like vitamins A, C, E, and K and folate plus some trace minerals like chromium, which helps regulate blood sugar.  Asparagus is also particularly rich in the “mother of all antioxidants” – glutathione – a strong detoxifier and immune system booster.  And, asparagus contains the amino acid asparagine, which is a natural diuretic – every lady’s best friend.

 

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To make asparagus fries, I first dusted some clean asparagus stalks with a couple tablespoons of almond flour.

 

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Next, I prepared a breading for the fries by combining almond flour, flax seed meal, and homemade vegan parmesan cheese.  To make my parmesan cheese imitation, I processed together some pine nuts, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper.

 

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I cracked an egg into a long enough bowl to fit the asparagus and dredged the stalks in the beaten egg until they were completely coated.

 

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I then rolled the egg-coated asparagus in the breading and placed the stalks in a single layer in a greased baking dish.  Another option would be to lay them out flat on a parchment lined baking sheet.

 

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I baked the asparagus fries for about 22 minutes and made sure to taste test for desired crunchiness before turning off my oven.  Although my kids prefer to dip theirs in ketchup, my dip of choice is a lemon hummus I picked up at Whole Foods.

 

crunchy asparagus fries
Author: 
Recipe type: snack, side dish, vegetable
Serves: 4-6
 

Ingredients
  • 1 bunch asparagus, washed and ends removed
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup almond flour, plus 2 tablespoons
  • ¼ cup flax seed meal or finely ground flax seed
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • pepper to taste

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. On a large dish, lay out asparagus and dust with 2 tablespoons almond flour.
  3. In a food processor, process together pine nuts, onion powder, garlic powder, sea salt, and pepper to make a vegan parmesan cheese.
  4. In a small bowl, combine this vegan parmesan cheese, almond flour, and flax seed meal to make the breading for the fries.
  5. Transfer the breading to a large plate.
  6. Crack the egg into a long bowl, and whisk with a fork until beaten.
  7. Dredge asparagus stalks through the beaten egg.
  8. Then roll each egg-coated stalk in the breading mixture.
  9. Lay the breaded asparagus stalks in a single layer in a greased baking pan or parchment lined baking sheet.
  10. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until desired crunchiness is achieved.
  11. Enjoy with your favorite condiment.

 

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brussels sprout bok choy slaw with creamy walnut fig vinaigrette

Posted by on Apr 15, 2013 in salads, side dish, vegetables | 0 comments

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This weekend, my daughter has a 3-day volleyball tournament.  It will be a busy weekend, but one I am looking forward to.  It’s been a fun season getting to know all of the parents, watching the girls come together as a team, and being initiated into the club volleyball scene.  The only thing I really don’t like about these weekends is the lack of access to descent food or any food with even a sliver of nutritional value.  Before the weekend, I decided to make up a few easily transportable salads to sneak in my tote of a purse each day.  This Brussels sprout Bok Choy slaw is one of those salads.

 

Since all the leafy greens are in season and look so fresh, I try to pick up several different varieties each week when I’m at Whole Foods.  Bitter greens are a great alkalinizing food.  Our bodies are constantly striving to maintain homeostasis, and part of that is keeping our bodies in a slightly alkaline state, so we can function like the well-oiled machine we were intended to.  The Standard American Diet can be quiet acid forming and therefore make it quite a chore to keep a body pH of slightly above 7.  To achieve an alkaline state when acid forming foods are repeatedly eaten, our bodies pull calcium from the best resource we have – our bones.  Leafy greens, especially in the raw form, are an alkaline promoting food, so eating them assists our bodies in achieving that necessary slightly alkaline pH.  Leafy greens are also great bone builders, as they have more vitamin K than any other food, which is crucial for the bone building proteins to function properly.

 

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Today, I decided to make a slaw.  Slaws keep and travel well, they’re raw, and they’re speedy to prepare.  Any leafy green can be made into a slaw, but I chose Brussels sprouts and Bok choy both because I have them on hand and because they’re two shades of green, so I thought the result would look pretty and appetizing.

 

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Making any leafy green into a slaw is as simple as pressing the “on” button on your food processor.  I just tossed the Brussels sprouts in the food processor bowl, and pulsed until they were thoroughly shredded.  Then I repeated with the Bok choy.

 

To make the walnut fig vinaigrette, I combined all of the ingredients in the Magic Bullet and blended them together.  I chose Lucini fig balsamic vinegar, which I love.  Over time, I’ve built up a variety of infused vinegars and oils as well as other interesting condiments in my pantry.  Every time I go to the grocery store, I try to throw a new one in my cart.  I think it’s the easiest way to prepare and cook different tastes with little effort.

 

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I also added some walnuts (I slightly toasted mine for extra flavor) and dried figs to the Magic Bullet, which ended up contributing a lot of taste and a creamy texture.  The figs with the help of a little maple syrup are also the perfect amount of sweet to combat the bitter taste of the leafy greens.

 

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After whipping up the vinaigrette, I just tossed and refrigerated the slaw, so the flavors could marinate a little.  Slaws are a sweet and crunchy way to eat your leafy greens.  You can easily store or transport them for busy lifestyles.  Even though I used Bok Choy to go with the Brussels sprouts, any dark leafy green would work – try kale or collard greens too.

 

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brussels sprout bok choy slaw with creamy walnut fig vinaigrette
Author: 
Recipe type: salad, vegetable, side dish
Serves: 6-8
 

Ingredients
  • 1 bag or 1 pound Brussels sprouts
  • 1 head Bok choy, stalks removed
  • ⅓ cup fig balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2-3 dried figs, chopped
  • ¼ cup walnuts, slightly toasted
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Instructions
  1. Wash Brussels sprouts, and transfer to food processor bowl. Process until finely shredded.
  2. Wash Bok Choy, remove stalks, and transfer to food processor bowl. Process until finely shredded.
  3. In a magic bullet, combine vinegar, olive oil, maple syrup, figs, walnuts, thyme, and salt and pepper. Puree until smooth and creamy. Add a little water if you need to thin out the dressing.
  4. Pour dressing over greens and toss to coat.
  5. Refrigerate.

 

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massaged kale, orange, and avocado salad

Posted by on Apr 2, 2013 in salads, vegetables | 0 comments

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Kale is definitely one of those foods that is new to me since making my healthy switch.  I don’t think I’d ever heard of kale growing up, had you?  Kale – the cruciferous fibrous leafy green veggie – has seen a huge jump in popularity recently, and I am on that bandwagon.  Kale has anti-cancer compounds and packs in so many other detoxifying, healing, and energizing nutrients that I am always trying to find new ways to sneak it into my diet.  Kale, with its bitter and tough reputation, may seem intimidating at first, or at least reserved for more hearty, winter recipes like soups, stews, and stir frys.  But kale can crossover into the spring and summer months and even be eaten raw by juicing it or blending it into green smoothies.

 

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Although a salad is the first thing that comes to mind when I think about eating greens, I’ve never really thought of kale as being appetizing in a salad.  It’s just so darn chewy!  I’m still trying to like the idea of putting all that fiber and bitterness into my smoothies (alas, I prefer spinach and romaine over kale in a blended drink), so the thought of eating a raw kale salad really doesn’t sound appealing.  But then I tried a massaged kale salad.

 

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The name sounds a bit weird, I know.  Massaging your food makes it sound even less appetizing than raw kale.  But, hang in there with me because I promise you will be pleasantly surprised too.

 

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Kale can be transformed into the most delicious of salads with just a little tender-loving-care.  A gentle massage turns the thick and hearty leaves into flexible (read chewable) soft pieces.  The tough, fibrous wall of cellulose breaks down, actually wilting the leaves, so they are easier to chew and digest.  Just drizzle a little olive oil over the salad bowl full of torn kale leaves (ribs removed), and start rubbing.  Give each leaf a bit of attention.  After 3 – 5 minutes, you will notice the leaves have started to soften and darken, and they might even shrink (or wilt) a little bit as the texture changes from rough and tough to smooth and silky.  If the thought of massaging your food turns you away, you can bypass that step by tossing your torn kale leaves in olive oil and then letting them sit and soften in the fridge overnight.

 

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For this massaged kale salad, I went for an Asian flavor and tossed in orange segments and avocado.  For a little crunch, I sprinkled sesame seeds and green onions in the bowl too.  I whisked together a little olive oil, honey, white wine vinegar, and tamari (gluten free soy sauce) for the dressing.

 

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massaged kale, orange, and avocado salad
Author: 
Recipe type: salad, vegetable, side dish
Serves: 2-4
 

Ingredients
  • 1 head kale
  • 2 clementine oranges, peeled and segmented
  • 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon tamari
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Instructions
  1. Tear kale leaves into pieces, discarding the ribs, and place in a salad bowl.
  2. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the kale leaves, and using your hands, gently massage oil into the leaves for 3 – 5 minutes.
  3. Add the orange segments, green onions, avocado, and sesame seeds to the massaged kale.
  4. To make the dressing, whisk together 2 tablespoons olive oil, vinegar, tamari, and honey.
  5. Drizzle the dressing over the kale salad, and toss to coat the salad in the dressing.

 

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kelp noodles with spicy peanut sauce

Posted by on Mar 11, 2013 in entree, featured, side dish, vegetables | 0 comments

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Howdy folks! My family just returned from our spring break trip and the most amazing experience aboard my brother’s catamaran in the British Virgin Islands.  The re-entry is always difficult when you’ve been spoiled (and we truly were spoiled!) like I have been, but alas, real life must go on…

 

So in memory of our unforgettable week aboard Sea Bass – I am making a simple (really, it’s the easiest!) kelp noodle dish that is the perfect light lunch or side at dinner.  Kelp noodles are one of my favorite foods for several reasons.  First, they are crazy good for you, as they’re loaded with all of the nutritious micronutrients from the sea.  Kelp is a seaweed, or a sea vegetable, that acts like a sponge as it’s growing in the ocean, soaking up all of the wonderful vitamins and minerals necessary for health.  Plus, although kelp noodles have the texture and shape that mimics traditional pasta, they contain almost no calories but are filling just like any other green vegetable.

 

A few of the awesome ways adding kelp noodles (and other sea vegetables) can boost your health:

  • Supports the immune system and blood health
  • Promotes an alkaline condition in your body
  • Fights aging
  • Nourishes your thyroid gland
  • Boosts your metabolism
  • Leads to healthy hair, skin, and nails

 

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A little more about kelp… Kelp is the most common sea vegetable and a member of the brown algae family.  It grows in the ocean in “kelp forests” and can be found in food products for you to enjoy.  Kelp noodles make a delicious gluten free, grain free meal or the granular form of kelp can be used in place of salt for a seasoning in your cooking.  Just a teaspoon of the granular form of kelp provides your body with 2000% of the daily recommended amount of iodine (needed for a well functioning thyroid) as well as good amounts of magnesium, calcium, and iron.  In addition to trace minerals, kelp also contains healthy doses of vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K and proteins.

 

Kelp noodles couldn’t be easier to prepare.  No cooking is necessary – just soak them in purified water, and top them with your favorite spices or sauce.  I chose a spicy peanut sauce for my noodles today, which got an enthusiastic thumbs up from all three of my family members (although Kayley preferred hers a little less spicy).  I used a gluten free curry paste (always check condiments to make sure they’re gluten free, as gluten likes to hide out in condiments) to add a kick to my peanut sauce, and whipped it up using my Magic Bullet blender.

 

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kelp noodles with spicy peanut sauce
 

Ingredients
  • 1 package kelp noodles
  • ½ cup organic peanut butter
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon water (or more until desired consistency is reached)
  • 1 tablespoon curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon tamari
  • juice of 1 lime

Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, soak kelp noodles in purified water for at least 30 minutes.
  2. In a blender, combine peanut butter, coconut milk, water, curry paste, tamari, and juice of a lime and blend until smooth.
  3. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the water from the kelp noodles.
  4. Toss the noodles with the peanut sauce, and serve.

 

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mashed rutabaga

Posted by on Feb 25, 2013 in side dish, vegetables | 0 comments

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Remember the vegetable game?  The one where you sit in a circle and everyone picks out a vegetable and you go around saying each other’s vegetable names with one catch – you can’t show your teeth, giggle, smile, or laugh.  When it comes time to choose your vegetable name, it’s no wonder someone always chooses rutabaga.  Try it now – try to say rutabaga with your lips covering your teeth the whole time.  Still makes me laugh.

 

Up until last weekend, I don’t think I’d ever eaten a rutabaga.  If I’m being honest, I’ve seen them sitting there in the basket at Whole Foods with the other root veggies like beets and turnips, but I’ve been happy to pass them by.  But last weekend, my family went to a hunting and fishing lodge nearby, and mashed rutabaga with Brussels sprouts was served with fish.  I just had to try, as I’m always up for a food adventure…well, a vegetable adventure.  Rob started laughing immediately because he knew we would be having mashed rutabaga at our table some time during the week.

 

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Well, he’s right.  On Monday, I picked up my first rutabagas.  Ugly little guys, but the purple tinge at the top is kinda pretty.  So I steamed them and “mashed” them in my Vitamix with a little coconut oil, salt, pepper, and nutmeg, as that was the spice I detected in my Rough Creek Lodge meal.  And…ew!!!  They were SOOOOO bitter.  Everyone in my family tried them, and we agreed – we did not like my mashed rutabaga.  But, I’m not one to give up.  I researched a little and turns out you are supposed to peel them before steaming them, and choose smaller ones to avoid bitterness.  So back to Whole Foods I go to pick up more rutabagas.

 

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Second batch:  roasted em with no skin to allow em to caramelize, bought small rutabagas.  Hmmmmm…much much better.  I added vanilla extract, but I’m still not satisfied.  So back to Whole Foods I go to pick up some more rutabagas.

 

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Third batch:  roasted em with no skin, bought cute little small ones, added vanilla extract, and ½ of a roasted butternut squash.  And…fantastic!!

 

So if you are like me and have never been introduced to the rutabaga other than during a round of the vegetable game, give them a try!  They’re rather healthy too, of course!  Rutabagas contain more than half the daily recommended amount of vitamin C – a good thing this time of year.  Plus, they’re super high in fiber, so they promote gut and heart health as well as a full tummy and weight loss.  Rutabagas provide a few trace minerals too – calcium, quite a bit of potassium, magnesium, and a little manganese.  They are a member of the cruciferous family, so they contain compounds that are good for detoxing and cancer protection.  Quite nutritious and delicious!

 

mashed rutabaga
Author: 
Recipe type: vegetable, side dish
Serves: 4 – 6
 

Ingredients
  • 3 small rutabagas, peeled
  • ½ butternut squash, seeds removed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup unrefined coconut oil
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Brush a little olive oil on them, and then roast the rutabagas and butternut squash for 1 hour.
  3. Scoop out the squash from the peel and put in a Vitamix or food processor.
  4. Add the rutabagas, coconut oil, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and vanilla.
  5. Blend or process until pureed.

 

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