Sunday, February 16, 2014
Despite the fact that I work in a kitchen, there are some days I come home with the realization that I've consumed nothing more than a cup of coffee, a spoonful of soup, 5 black beans, 3 cubes of roasted sweet potato, a couple bites of a raw kale salad and MAYBE a piece of fruit. Even though I'm surrounded by food 10 hours a day, I'm so focused on making sure that customers are getting fed that I sometimes forget that this girl needs to eat too!
I usually have myself a pretty healthy breakfast, but if I haven't had a chance to have anything for lunch, the low blood sugar, headache and crankiness starts setting in around 4:00, which coincidentally happens to be the busiest part of my day. I'm way too consumed to even THINK about eating, but know that if I don't get some nourishment ASAP I will end up stress eating an entire bag of chips when I get home. Not so good.
I'm a big fan of energy balls, bites, bars or whatever you want to call them. Packed with healthy fats, natural sugars and protein they are just the thing that helps tide me over until I can have a more substantial meal.
These energy balls are packed with dates, almonds, coconut, peanut butter, oats, and lots of seeds (pumpkin, flax and sunflower). They are amazingly good and good for you. They're AMAZEBALLS!
Almond Amazeballs (Makes 12-14 balls)
From Dishing Up The Dirt
1 c. raw almonds
1 c. dates, pitted and chopped
1/4 c. ground flax seed
1/4 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 c. almond butter (I used peanut butter)
1 T. coconut oil
1 t. cinnamon
pinch of sea salt
1/4 c. mixed seeds (I used pumpkin and sunflower)
1/2 c. oats
Place almonds in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add the dates, flax, shredded coconut, nut butter, coconut oil, cinnamon and sea salt and process until uniform, but still a little chunky.
Place the seeds and oats in a large bowl. Add the date mixture and mix well to combine. Roll into balls and refrigerate at least 45 minutes before serving.
Store refrigerated in an airtight container.
Monday, January 20, 2014
Fire cider is a delicious health tonic made with fresh horseradish root, ginger, garlic, raw onion, and turmeric (among other things) that is infused in a base of raw apple cider vinegar and sweetened with raw honey. Containing roots, fruits and herbs that have anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, this delicious concoction can help boost the immune system, stimulate digestion and improve circulation.
Most people reach for fire cider at the first sign of a cold or flu, hoping to kick the immune system into full gear. Speaking from experience, I've definitely put the breaks on a cold with this stuff, along with plenty of rest, liquids and clean eating.
I've gotten into the habit of making a large batch in October, so I'm well prepared when heading into cold and flu season. It's worth nothing that making fire cider takes a little advance planning. Whereas it only takes 10 minutes to prepare all of your ingredients, you must wait at least two months for all of those herbs, roots and fruits to fully infuse the apple cider vinegar. Once the 60 day wait is up, you simply strain the liquid into a large mason jar and add raw honey.
You can take fire cider by the spoonful (I try to take 1 T. every day, or 1 T. every three hours if I'm feeling under the weather), or by adding to some hot water (with or without some whiskey) to make a hot toddy. Although I've never cooked with it, I've read that you can use it anywhere you want a little added heat.. fried rice, salad dressing, stir-fry... or even throwing a shot into to your next Bloody Mary!
(Makes approximately 5 c. )
1 head garlic, peeled and smashed
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 c. grated ginger
1/2 c. grated horseradish root
1/2 seeded habanero, chopped
2-3 sprigs rosemary
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 orange, zest and juice
1/2 c. finely chopped turmeric root
1 liter apple cider vinegar
raw honey, to taste (I used 6 T.)
Divide the garlic, onion, ginger, garlic, horseradish, habanero, rosemary, lemon and orange juice and zest, and turmeric between two quart sized mason jars. Divide the apple cider vinegar between the two jars. Cover with lids, give it a good shake and place in a cool dry area, giving it a shake once a week.
After two months, strain the liquid into a large pitcher and stir in the honey. Transfer to glass jars and store in the fridge for up to two months.
Thursday, December 12, 2013
I've made (and eaten) ALOT of hummus in my day. This wonderful chickpea based dip is one of the first foods I started incorporating into my diet when I started experimenting with vegetarianism in my teens. Finding hummus in the grocery store fifteen years ago was almost unheard of, you had to venture to a health food store and even then the choices were very limited. So, from a young age I started making my own and began to prefer the taste and texture of homemade versus store bought even when I had the opportunity to get my hands on the stuff.
I basically lived off of the stuff in college (you know... that and cheap beer), using it as a dip for crackers or vegetables or smearing on a bagel piled with vegetables for a lunch that could be thrown together in the matter of minutes. The less time I had to spend cooking or thinking about meals, the more time I had for studying... and drinking.
After seven years of eating hummus day after day I began to tire of it...shocking, I know. I decided to take a break from what is thought of as "traditional hummus" consisting of chickpeas, lemon, garlic, sesame tahini, salt, and maybe some cumin or cayenne. I thought, why not add some fresh herbs, or roasted garlic, maybe some kalamata olives. Or... instead of chickpeas, use cannellini or black beans.
For several years in my twenties, I worked in a vegetarian restaurant where I made a different flavor of hummus each day of the week, so I made more variations of this bean based dip/spread that you could ever imagine.
It wasn't until recently that I came upon this recipe for mung bean hummus and my mind was blown.. why the heck didn't I ever think of that?? Mung beans have been used for thousands of years in both sweet and savory dishes, originating in India then cultivated all throughout Asia. They were used medicinally, dispelling heat from the body and aiding in detoxification. They are one of the main staples of an Ayurvedic diet, helping to bring balance to the body by improving digestion and enhancing overall health and vitality. Today, mung beans are consumed for their amazing health benefits, helping to lower cholesterol, control diabetes and help protect against breast cancer. Like most other legumes, mung beans are also high in fiber and low in fat.
Combining these beans with lemon helps to boost your vitamin C intake, sesame tahini gives your body a dairy free calcium boost and the garlic will help boost your body's immune system... not too bad for a snack food!
Mung Bean Hummus (makes 2 c.)
From 101 Cookbooks
1 1/2 c. cooked mung beans
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 c. sesame tahini paste
1 large clove garlic, peeled & smashed
1/2 t. sea salt
1/3-1/2 c. water
Za'atar spice and extra virgin olive oil for drizzling on top
Pita chips for serving*
Start by adding the mung beans to a food processor and pulse until a fine, fluffy crumb develops, at least a minute. Scrape the bean paste from the corners once or twice, then add the lemon juice, tahini, garlic, and sea salt. Blend again, another minute or so. Don't skimp on the blending time, but stop if the beans form a dough ball inside the processor. At this point start adding the water a splash at a time. Blend until the hummus is smooth, light and creamy. Taste, and adjust to your liking - adding more lemon juice or salt, if needed. Top with a sprinkling of za'atar and a healthy swirl of extra virgin olive oil. Serve with homemade pita chips.
* To make the pita chips, cut a couple rounds of pita breads into squares or triangles. Toss with a glug of olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt and arrange in a single layer on a large sheetpan. Bake at 350 until light browned and crispy (about 8 minutes each side), flipping them over halfway through.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Apples. I will never tire of them.
Weather it be in the form of hard cider, pie or just straight up snacking I will continue to eat the hell 'outta apples until citrus fruits come into the seasonal spotlight.
I've been fortunate to receive two massive bags of local, organic utility grade apples this fall, which automatically translates to lots of apple crisp. To avoid falling into a complete sugar coma I decided to take the remaining apples and make a batch of unsweetened applesauce.
Then I realized... wait, I don't even eat applesauce. It's not like I wouldn't eat it, but I would never go out of my way to buy it otherwise. In the attempt to not let this beautiful jar of sauce go to waste I scoured through old cookbooks and recipe files for some sort of baked good that would put it to good use.
The recipe for these apple hemp muffins had been tucked away in one of my many random recipe folders for a good two years. I would always pass them by because they had applesauce (which was something I never had the house), but now with my massive jar of apple mush, I finally had the opportunity.
With a couple modifications, these muffins came out great! The addition of hemp seeds gives these cake like, lightly sweetened vegan muffins a boost in protein and a healthy dose of essential fatty acids.
Apple Hemp Muffins
Makes 1 dozen
Adapted from this recipe
1 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour
1 c. oat flour
1/2 c. hemp seeds
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. sea salt
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. ground ginger
1 c. applesauce
1/2 c. maple syrup
3/4 c. almond milk
1 t. vanilla
3 T. coconut oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine dry ingredients, sifting in baking powder and baking soda. In another bowl, combine applesauce, maple syrup, almond milk, vanilla, and coconut oil and mix together. Add the wet to dry and mix until just combined. Spoon into lined or lightly oiled muffin tins. Bake 25-30 minutes, transfer to a cooling rack.
Store in an airtight container.
Monday, November 18, 2013
I've never been much of a snack person.
I'm one of those three meals a day people. I eat when I'm hungry and that usually only occurs around my designated meal times.
When I do my shopping for the week, I'm great at planning what I'll have for breakfast, lunch and dinner but I always forget to throw some snack foods in my cart for those occasions when I find my blood sugar plummeting at 4 o'clock because I didn't have a substantial lunch.
Truth is, most foods targeted as "snacks" are prepackaged foods with a long list of ingredients, many of which are unrecognizable.
Most times I'll just reach for a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts, but sometimes I wasn't something a bit more fun.. something that's a little more.... snackable.
My cupboards are almost always stocked with a variety of nuts and seeds (walnuts, pistachios, sunflower, pumpkin, flax, hemp, sesame etc..) to throw in baked goods, make milk, toss into granola, or add to a salad. Not only are nuts and seeds super versatile, they're also packed with healthy fats, protein, and are nutrient dense.
I was checking out some of my favorite blogs this past weekend and stumbled upon a new site called "She Cooks Macro"; most of the recipes focusing on macrobiotic cuisine. Macrobiotics is a dietary regimen that focuses on using whole, simple, unprocessed foods to achieve balance within the body to promote healing. The diet emphasizes whole grains, seaweeds, legumes, fruits, vegetables, some nuts and seeds and fermented soy products like miso, tempeh and tamari.
One of the recipes that caught my eye was this sesame almond nori brittle. This was primarily based on the fact that I had everything on hand to make it, but it was also chocked full of healthy stuff and looked highly snackable. The fact that it took 15 minutes to throw together didn't hurt either.
Sesame Almond Nori Crunchies
From She Cooks Macro
2 T. safflower oil
1/4 c. maple syrup
1/4 c. brown rice syrup
1 c. sesame seeds
1 c. almonds
1 t. tamari
6 sheets nori, torn into small pieces.
Preheat oven to 350. Combine the oil, maple syrup and brown rice syrup in a large sautee pan and bring to a rolling boil. Stir in the almond, sesame seeds and tamari. Add the nori and mix well to combine. Spread on a sheetpan lined with parchment paper and bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely, then break into pieces.
Store in an airtight container.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Pho is a Viatnamese noodle soup consisting of a rich clear broth usually made with beef bones or oxtail with charred onion, ginger and spices like cinnamon, star anise, cloves, fennel, peppercorns and cardamom. The sweet and savory broth is filled out with thin rice noodles and slim cuts of beef and topped with garnishes like Thai basil, cilantro, bean sprouts, scallions, sliced hot chilis, hoisin sauce, lime wedges and sriracha (a chili sauce).
After indulging in pho several times at Viatnamese restaurants I decided to try making it at home. The challenge was to make it without using any meat in the broth, a task some die hard pho lovers would deem impossible. Meat bones, no doubt add a layer of flavor that is pretty hard to replicate, but after a little tweaking I think I nailed it. Of course my version is in no-way traditional, adding shiitake mushrooms and bok choy (something you would typically find in miso soup) to give the soup a little more substance. One thing that I kept in common was the rice noodles (a must) and LOTS of fresh herbs, hoisin and sliced chili peppers which add texture and layers of flavor.
Don't be put off by the long list of ingredients. Many of them are spices that are added to the soup and once you get your broth going, you can cook your noodles and prep your garnishes.
Vegetarian Pho (serves 2 large or 4 small bowls)
Adapted from My New Roots
2 lbs. onions, peeled and rough chopped
4 cloves garlic, sliced
3 inch knob of ginger, sliced thin
8 c. water
1 T. fennel seeds
5 cardamom pods, crushed with the back of a knife
3 star anise
5 whole cloves
1/2 t. coriander seeds
1/2 t. black peppercorn
1 cinnamon stick
1 T. salt
1 T. tamari
thin rice noodles
1 c. sliced shiitake mushrooms
couple large handfuls of baby bok choy
Garnishes: Use what you like and what you've got!
handful of thai basil leaves
handful of cilantro (leaves and stems)
mung bean sprouts
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the fennel, cardamom, star anise, cloves, coriander, and peppercorns on a sheetpan. Toast in the oven for 3-5 minutes until fragrant. Remove and set aside.
Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook for ten minutes, stirring occasionally until the vegetables start to brown. Add the salt, spices and water, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes. Turn off the heat, add tamari and let sit covered for 15 minutes. Strain the broth into another large pot using a fine mesh strainer, pushing down on the onions and spices with the back of a spoon to squeeze out every last drop.
Meanwhile cook your noodles according to the directions on the package. Drain, rinse under cold water and set aside (Most rice noodles only require a 5-7 minute soak in boiling water).
Slice your shiitakes and bok choy and prep any garnishes that you desire. I like to place all of my garnishes on a large plate so diners can add as much or as little as they eat their soup.
When you are ready to eat place the broth over medium-high heat until it begins to simmer. Add the shiitakes and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the bok choy and turn off the heat (The bok choy just needs to wilt a bit).
To serve, place the desired amount of noodles in each bowl. Top with the broth and add whatever garnishes your heart desires.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Turmeric is a quintessential ingredient in Indian cuisine, imparting a golden hue (to EVERYTHING it comes in contact with) with an earthy, bitter, peppery flavor. For years I've kept a tiny jar of the stuff in my spice cabinet, adding a pinch or two when whipping up a curry or lentil dahl. Beyond that, turmeric was never something that made an everyday appearance in my diet.
Several different cultures use particular herbs and spices in their cooking that we think of solely as a flavoring agents, but many of these were incorporated into their food for their amazing health benefits as well. The Italians use copious amounts of garlic which happens to have phenomenal immune boosting properties. Mexicans use all sorts of fresh chilis in their food, which stimulates digestion, improves circulation and increases perspiration, which may help to rid the body of toxins. Indian cuisine incorporates several spices that help improve digestion, such as fennel, black pepper, ginger, cardamom, and coriander. Turmeric, not really an herb or spice, but a rhizome (like ginger or it's close relative galangal) is prescribed as medicine in Ayurveda, the oldest form of medicine native to India.
Turmeric's health benefits are due to the presence of curcumin, the compound responsible for it's bright yellow color. Curcumin has powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It's known for inhibiting a number of cancer strains and the curcumin within turmeric can halt the advance of cancer cells or even downright destroy them. It can also improve digestion due to the phytochemicals that help assist the body's production of bile, which helps by breaking down the fatty components of foods. Due to it's anti-inflammatory properties, its also useful for several types of bowel issues such as ulcerative colitis. Turmeric also helps to detoxify the blood and boost the immune system and is also extremely beneficial for anyone suffering from arthritis since it reduces pain and inflammation around the joints.
After a recent wrist sprain, I decided to consume fresh grated turmeric everyday rather than pump my body full of anti-inflammatory drugs to see what effect it would have. Within a couple of days I've noticed a reduction in pain and it has no unwanted side effects that come with taking NSAID'S. One of my favorite ways to enjoy turmeric it is by making this ginger-honey-lemon turmeric tea, replacing the ground turmeric with a heaping spoonful of the freshly grated stuff.
Looking for some other ways to incorporate more of this amazing natural medicine into your diet?
Check out these recipes:
Chickpea and Swiss Chard Crepes with Mint and Ginger Raita
Paneer and Winter Squash Coconut Curry