Thursday, May 31, 2012

Broccoli Gribiche

Another fabulous recipe from "Super Natural Every Day" by Heidi Swanson.  I had a ton of broccoli from the CSA, and also had some local, free range eggs from The Happy Berry.  This looked like a great recipe to try.  Again, Heidi didn't disappoint and I loved this recipe!  It was even better after sitting in the refrigerator overnight.

I didn't have any tarragon and I substituted garlic scapes for the chives.  I got the scapes from the farmers market in Clemson last week and was so excited to use them!  I definitely recommend using scapes if you have them/can find them.  I also couldn't find fingerling potatoes, so I just used another type of small potato and they were delicious!

  • 1 1/2 pounds of small, fingerling potatoes
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • 12 ounces broccoli florets
  • 4 large eggs, hard cooked and peeled
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon capers, chopped
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chervil or chives

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2.  If the potatoes aren't tiny, slice them into pieces no larger than your thumb.  Use your hands to toss the potatoes with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, sprinkle with a big pinch of salt and turn out onto a baking sheet.  Roast until they are cooked through and starting to brown, about 30 minutes.

3.  About 15 minutes before you think the potatoes are done, toss the broccoli with 1 tablespoon of olive oil sprinkle with salt , arrange in a single layer and place in the oven as well.  You are aiming to have the potatoes and broccoli finish cooking at roughly the same time. 

4.  To make the dressing, mash just the yolk of one of the hard-cooked eggs in a medium bowl.  Very, very slowly add the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil, beating constantly; the dressing should look smooth and glossy.  Whisk in the vinegar, then the mustard.  Stir in the capers, shallots, herbs and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

5.  Coarsely chop the remaining eggs and egg white, and fold them into the dressing.  Put the warm potatoes and broccoli in a large bowl and gently toss with the dressing.

Health Benefits

Broccoli-  I found this interesting tidbit in an old issue of Taste of Home:

Broccoli is a cancer-prevention powerhouse, thanks to a batch of tongue-twisting compounds you never learned about in chem class.  Some make cancer cells self-destruct and others protect your gut against certain cell damage that can lead to cancer.  But when you overcook broccoli, you douse it's anti-cancer action.  Bring it back to its full health benefits simply by adding a jolt of mustard, horseradish or wasabi to your cooked broccoli.  "The spicier, the better--that means it's being effective," says Elizabeth Jeffery, professor of nutrition at the University of Illinois.  Her research team recently discovered that teaming cooked broccoli with those hot condiments, or with watercress, raw broccoli sprouts, arugula or radishes, can double broccoli's ability to prevent cancer.  Studies have shown that 3 to 5 half-cup servings of lightly cooked broccoli a week will help fight cancer.  To preserve broccoli's benefits, steam it for just 2 to 4 minutes, recommends Jeffery.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Quinoa and Grilled Zucchini


What would I do without 101cookbooks?  Her recipes are awesome!  This one is no exception.  My husband tasted it and referred to it as "good stuff."  Coming from someone who loves meat and probably only pretends to enjoy the food I cook because it's the only option, I take this as quite a compliment.  The dressing is amazing...and could easily be used for a number of other purposes.  I have an abundant amount of cilantro right now (from both my garden and the CSA), so I used a lot of cilantro in it.  I also got like 5 pounds of zucchini from the CSA this week...I don't know what to do with it all!
  • 1 large avocado, ripe
  • juice of 1 1/2 limes 
  • a large handful of cilantro
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 small container of Greek yogurt (about 1/4 cup)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 large zucchini, cut into 3/4-inch thick coins
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • couple pinches of sea salt 
  • 2 cups quinoa, cooked, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted (or pine nuts)
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
  • a bit of chopped cilantro for garnish

1.  Prepare the cilantro-avocado dressing by blending the avocado, lime juice, cilantro, garlic, yogurt, water, and salt in a blender (hand blender in preferred). Set aside.

Yummy freshly blended cilantro-avocado dressing
2.  Hard boil the eggs. Place the eggs in a pot and cover with cold water by a 1/2-inch or so. Bring to a gentle boil. Now turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for exactly seven minutes. Have a big bowl of ice water ready and when the eggs are done cooking place them in the ice bath for three minutes or so - long enough to stop the cooking. Set aside.

3.  While the eggs are cooling start preparing the zucchini by tossing it with olive oil and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Prepare your grill (medium-high heat). If you are worried about the zucchini coins falling through the grill you can thread them onto kabob skewers (stab through the green skin). Grill until zucchini are tender and cooked through, roughly 5 minutes on each side. Remove from the grill and cut each zucchini coin into quarters.
Fresh zucchini tossed in olive oil with Himalayan pink sea salt
The zucchini that did not fall through the grill (I recommend skewering for sure!)
4. Crack and peel each egg, cut each egg into quarters lengthwise. Assemble the salad by tossing the quinoa with about 2/3 cups of the avocado vinaigrette. Top with the grilled zucchini, pine nuts, eggs, goat cheese, and a bit of chopped cilantro for garnish. 

Serves 4 to 6.

Health Benefits

Cilantro - I learned some random facts about cilantro from this months issue of Whole Living.
  • Prized throughout history for its ability to aid digestion, coriander was a common treatment for diabetes prior to the development of insulin in 1922.
  • Cilantro is one of 3,000 members of the carrot family.
  • Scientific studies have found similarities between the fat molecules in cilantro and those in soaps, lotions....and bedbugs.  The aversion that some people have to cilantro, in other words, may may triggered by their unconscious association of its aroma with inedible, even poisonous, substances.
Additionally, I found this list of health benefits here:
  • Powerful anti-inflammatory capacities that may help symptoms of arthritis
  • Protective agents against bacterial infection from Salmonella in food products
  • Acts to increase HDL cholesterol (the good kind), and reduces LDL cholesterol (the bad kind)
  • Relief for stomach gas, prevention of flatulence and an overall digestive aid
  • Wards off urinary tract infections
  • Helps reduce feelings of nausea
  • Eases hormonal mood swings associated with menstruation
  • Has been shown to reduce menstrual cramping.
  • Adds fiber to the digestive tract
  • A source of iron, magnesium, and is helpful in fighting anemia
  • Gives relief for diarrhea, especially if caused by microbial or fungal infections
  • Helps promote healthy liver function.
  • Reduces minor swelling
  • Strong general antioxidant properties
  • Disinfects and helps detoxify the body
  • Stimulates the endocrine glands
  • Helps with insulin secretion and lowers blood sugar
  • Acts as a natural anti-septic and anti-fungal agent for skin disorders like fungal infections and eczema
  • Contains immune-boosting properties
  • Acts as an expectorant
  • Helps ease conjunctivitis, as well as eye-aging, macular degeneration, and other stressors on the eyes.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Toasted Kale Salad with Coconut

I LOVE kale and eat it all the time.  My husband jokes that he has eaten more kale in the past year then he thought he would eat in his lifetime.  But it is so tasty and so healthy!

This is by far one of my favorite recipes.  Not only is it super easy to prepare, but the mix of salty and sweet is so yummy.  This recipe is from Heidi Swanson's book "Super Natural Every Day."  If you don't own it, I definitely recommend it!  Some of my favorite recipes are from this book.  I sometimes adjust the amount of sesame oil and tamari, usually adding more than the recipe calls for. 
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons tamari (shoyu or soy sauce can be substituted but contain gluten)
  • 3 1/2 lightly packed cups of kale, stems trimmed, large ribs removed (any kind of kale will work but dino/lacinato kale is my favorite)
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened large-flake coconut
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa (or other whole grain like farro if gluten isn't an issue)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 with two racks in the top third of the oven.

2. In a small bowl, whisk or shake together the olive oil, sesame oil and tamari.  Put the kale and the coconut in a large bowl and toss well with about two-thirds of the olive oil mixture. 

3. Spread the kale evenly across two baking sheets.  Bake for 12 to 18 minutes, until the coconut is deeply golden brown, tossing once or twice along the way.  If the kale mixture on the top baking sheet begins to get too browned, move it to the lower rack.

3. Remove from the oven and transfer the kale mixture to a medium bowl.  Taste.  If you feel it needs a bit more dressing, add some and toss.  Place the quinoa mixture on a platter and top with the kale.  Serve warm. 

Health Benefits

Kale - I don't even know where to start with the health benefits of kale!  It is one of the most nutrient dense foods you can eat and is so good for you.  Kale is full of nutrients with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits that help your body stay vibrant and youthful. Kale is also packed with chlorophyll. Chlorophyll removes heavy metals and chemical toxins from your body.   Check out this article on why kale is the new beef to learn more about the awesome health benefits of this dark, leafy green.

This is also a great kale resource!  Learn some helpful hints and how to cook it.

Friday, May 25, 2012

A CSA Mixturement

When I was little, my mom would let me make "mixturements."  I'm pretty sure she just gave me all the rotten food she was about to throw out and let me pretend I was mixing it up and cooking.  I thought I was pretty cool. Tonight I felt like I was making a mixturement.  I still had a fridge half full of vegetables that needed to be cleared out before I got the next load from the farm share.  I also have a garden full of kale I haven't used because I have so much food from the CSA.  So I created this!  The measurements are really suggestions....any combination of this stuff is likely good together, so use your best judgement :)  You could add all kinds of things to this...I think beans would be a great addition!

1 bunch of scallions
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons of olive oil
1 bunch of beet greens, chopped
1 bunch of kale, chopped
3 tablespoons of freshly grated ginger
1 yellow squash
1 zuchinni
1 egg
3 tablespoons of tamari (or soy sauce)
Sriracha (use as much as you want, or none of you don't like spicy stuff)
Freshly grated Parmesan


1.  Chop up scallions, garlic, beet greens, kale, squash and zucchini.

Green onions (from the CSA) and garlic
Yellow squash and zucchini from the CSA
Kale from my garden

2.  Heat one teaspoon of olive oil and add scallions and garlic.  Cook for about two minutes.

3.  Add squash and zucchini and cook for a few minutes.  Then add beet greens and kale.  Add tamari and ginger (you may need to add a little water depending on how many greens you have).  Cook until greens start to wilt and add ginger and sriracha.

4.  In another pan, scramble an egg (I had initially intended to fry an egg, but the yolk broke so I scrambled it instead.  This could easily be left out for those of you that are vegans).

5.  Add egg to the greens/squash and taste.  Add more tamari or salt if necessary.

6.  Top with freshly grated Parmesan if desired.

There you have CSA mixturement :)

Tassajara Warm Collard Salad

This is going to be a new go-to recipe for me, it was so tasty and easy to make!  My friend Heather suggested this recipe from 101 Cookbooks and recommended that I substitute collards for the cabbage because that's what I got in the CSA share this week.  Next week I'm thinking about trying it again with was that good!  I'm sure kale or another leafy green would work as well.

Fresh rosemary is a key ingredient in the recipe.  I'm not sure if dried would have the same effect.  If anyone reading this lives close to me, stop by my house and get some rosemary from the giant bush of it that I have.  I bought a small plant a few years ago, and that thing has survived multiple transplants, two or three winters and will not die.  I recommend making an investment in a rosemary will last a long time!
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 teaspoon natural cane sugar (or brown sugar)
  • fine grain sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 5 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch of collards (or a head of red cabbage or radicchio), quartered and cut into thin ribbons
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced
  • 2 ounces golden (or regular) raisins (or other plump, chopped dried fruit)
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • a bit of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to garnish

1.  Roast the sunflower seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat until golden brown. Sprinkle on the sugar, and a couple pinches of salt. Stir until the sugar melts and coats the seeds (you pan will need to be hot enough). Transfer the seeds immediately to a plate so they don't stick to the pan. Set aside.

2.  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and saute the onion for a minutes or two with a couple pinches of salt. Stir in the garlic, and the collards, and a few more pinches of salt. Stir and cook for just a minute or so, or until the collards soften up just a touch. Then stir in the rosemary, most of the raisins, and the vinegar. The collards will continue to get more and more tender even after you remove it from the heat, so keep that in mind, and do your best to avoid overcooking it - where it collapses entirely.

3.  Fold in half of the feta cheese, most of the sunflower seeds, then taste. Season with more salt if needed. Serve garnished with the remaining raisins, feta, sunflower seeds and Parmesan cheese.

Serves 4 to 6.

Health Benefits

Rosemary - Rosemary contains substances that are useful for stimulating the immune system, increasing circulation, and improving digestion. Rosemary also contains anti-inflammatory compounds that may make it useful for reducing the severity of asthma attacks. In addition, rosemary has been shown to increase the blood flow to the head and brain, improving concentration. Tea made from a thumb-sized piece has been known to lift spirits in people suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and hangovers. Infuse warm red wine with rosemary, cinnamon, and cloves to soothe winter colds.  More here.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

My Garden!

In addition to the CSA, I also planted a garden for the first time this year as part of my mission to eat as seasonally and locally as possible.  I didn't plant just one garden, but two.  I thought all I was going to have to do was till it, then throw some seeds in the dirt and then sit back and watch it grow.  WRONG!  The garden is pretty much where I spend all my time.  I'm either working in the garden, going to buy supplies or trying to read up on how to keep my garden alive.  I have a feeling that later in the season I will be spending a lot of time canning/freezing because it is becoming clear that I am going to have an abundant amount of food!  Oh dear...something else to learn about... 

I started with a patch of grass and this is what it looks like now (please excuse the mess of weeds to the right, that belongs to my neighbors).

Garden #1

What is in my garden?  Well, the row farthest to the left is squash (Butternut, pink banana, acorn, patty pan and baby zucchini).  I planted the seeds in the ground about the second week of April.  Behind that row is peppers (Serrano, Thai, purple peppers, yolo wonder, California wonder, jalapeno, habenero, and poblano).  Some are from the student plant sale on campus and the botanical garden sale, and the rest I started growing indoors in March.  There are also eggplants (long purple and black beauty).  The third row is tomatoes.  The ones in the middle I planted from seed.  I bought seeds in February, planted them in little containers and kept them inside until it was warm enough to start hardening them off.  So it's been quite a long process!  And finally, the back row is cucumbers (armenian burpless and lemon) and cilantro.  I read somewhere that cilantro helps to keep insects that like cucumbers away.  I planted all of this from seed too, but started them in the ground and not indoors.  I also have marigolds planted throughout the garden because pests are also supposedly turned off by the marigolds.

In case you were wondering, I got most of my seeds from Farmer D Organics outside of Atlanta.  Shannon and I were in town for a wedding and when I saw it I got really excited and had to stop.  It was a great store with lots of gardening supplies and seeds to pick from!  Most of my seeds are from Botanical Interests, with a few from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.  I also got a few random seeds from the farm supply store in town (Griffs).

These are my tomatillas. I started these from seed indoors and I am so excited to watch them grow!

Roma tomatoes that I started indoors from seed.  I'm so proud of how much they have grown!

My tomato plants

Garden #2

This is a portion of garden #2.  The rest of it needs some work before I'm ready to show any pictures.  The part I'm not showing is mostly kale, collards, swiss chard, beets, carrots, lettuce and sugar snap peas.  It is a hot mess of weeds at the moment, so more on that later.  The upper right section of this pictures is spaghetti squash, yellow crookneck squash, baby zucchini and patty pan squash (all planted from seed in April).  The green plants closest to the camera are cauliflower and brussel sprouts (I cheated and bought plants that were already started).  To the right of the brussel sprouts are peppers...lots of different varieties I bought from the horticulture students at Clemson, as well as some of my pepper seedlings.  In the empty patch in the upper left I have some fennel growing, as well as some tomato plants, carrots and radishes (all from seed!)

Cauliflower that is almost ready to be harvested!


One of my pepper seedlings.  Unfortunately, I wrote what kind it is on a stake with non-permanent marker that washed off and I have no idea what is going to come up! 

I also have a patch of watermelon, cantaloupes and honeydew.  This is also not pretty enough to show pictures of quite yet.

These are my gardens!  I hope to give updates throughout the summer, so stay tuned!  If you have any helpful advice on gardening, please feel free to share.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Red Lentil Soup with Mint and Beet Greens

Another beet recipe, yipee!  You should have seen the monstrous bunch of beets I got from the CSA this week.  I have enough beet greens to make this recipe five times I think.  And what I love the most is that when I got to the farm to pick up my food, they had run out of beets.  The guy asked me if I minded waiting a few minutes while they went and harvested some more.  Of course not!  I was so happy to get a bunch of beets that were directly out of the ground.  It doesn't get more fresh than that!  This is why CSA's are so awesome and I encourage everyone to get involved with a local CSA if possible.  I got a lot of other goodies this week including collards, green onions, squash, zucchini, turnips, lettuce, kale and radishes. 

Of course I modified this recipe quite a bit.  My husband gets upset when I don't follow recipes exactly, so if you're like him, see the original recipe.  And although I didn't include mushrooms this time, I think they would be a great addition!
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • a dozen or so mint leaves, chopped
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander
  • beet greens, removed from one bunch of beets, cleaned and sliced
  • 1o cups of water
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 cup millet, rinsed (the original recipe calls for bulgur wheat, which would probably be better but has gluten so that's why I switched it out.  Quinoa or another whole grain would be good as well.)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • extra mint, for garnish, optional
1.  Heat the oil in a medium soup pot. Add the onion and saute for a few minutes, till translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes longer, stirring frequently.

2.  Now, add the mint, salt, and coriander. Mix well and cook for another minute or two.

3.  Add the beet greens and cook for a few minutes till they are softened and heated through.

4.  Add the lentils, millet and about 10 cups of water.  More or less water may be needed depending on the amount of greens used, just be sure the water covers the top of the greens.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a very gentle simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes, adding water as needed if it seems too thick.

5. After the 1/2 hour of cooking, add the tomato and cook for about 10 minutes longer.

6.  Immediately before serving, whisk in the egg. Serve, garnished with mint if desired.

I'm not sure how to make this soup look appetizing.  It just wasn't pretty, but it tasted good!

What else can you do with beet greens?  Don't let these nutritional gems go to waste, so click here for some ideas!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Yellow Split Pea Salad with Cilantro Pesto

So this recipe is loosely related to anything that I got from the CSA this week, but I love it and I did have some fresh lettuce to go with it.  We also have an absurd amount of cilantro growing in our yard that needed to be used.  Fresh cilantro is amazing!  We bought one plant a few years ago and it has turned into at least 15 plants without any effort on our part. 

I wasn't sure whether or not to include a picture because I realize it does not look all that appetizing.  But I promise it's good.  My husband tells me he gets picked on at worked for all the healthy food he eats, but he shared this with some co-workers a while back and they asked for the recipe.  I consider that a success.

The cilantro pesto calls for freshly grated Parmesan.  Let me get on my cheese soapbox for a few minutes.  Please, buy a block of Parmesan cheese and grate it yourself!  I prefer using a microplaner, but a regular grater will do just fine.  Please do not buy that disgusting pre-shredded cheese.  It is full of chemicals and other nasty stuff to prevent it from clumping.  Like wood pulp.  I know it's easier, but it's gross and not good for you.  Freshly grated cheese tastes totally different and very yummy!  And also, don't buy reduced fat cheese.  Buy real cheese.  If it's reduced fat that means they have taken something out and replaced it with something unnatural and disgusting.  Calories are something humans created and do not matter.  If you eat real, whole food you'll lose weight without counting a single calorie.

Moving on....this is another fabulous recipe from 101 Cookbooks!
  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, toasted (divided) 
  • 1 bunch cilantro leaves and stems, well washed and lightly packed
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, peeled
  • juice of 1 medium lemon
  • 1 serrano chile pepper, minced (2 jalapenos will work just fine if you can't find a serrano.  If you like things spicy you can easily add more...I usually do)
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups cooked yellow split peas
  • 2 handfuls lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces

1.  To cook the dried yellow split peas bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan, add 2 cups (rinsed) dried split yellow peas and cook for 20 -30 minutes, or until tender. Drain, salt to taste and set aside. 

Yellow Split Peas
2. Make the cilantro pesto by blending 1/3 cup of the toasted pumpkin seeds, the cilantro, Parmesan cheese, garlic, lemon juice, and chile pepper with a hand blender, food processor or standard blender until smooth. Continue blending as you gradually drizzle in the olive oil until the pesto comes together into a vibrant green sauce. Taste and add a pinch or two or salt if needed.

Freshly cut cilantro from our garden in the food processor! 
3. In a large bowl toss the yellow split peas and remaining pumpkin seeds with the pesto until everything is coated. Add the lettuce and gently toss again (or you can serve this on top of the lettuce if preferred).

Serves 6 or so.

Health Benefits 

Yellow Split Peas - Split peas have soluble fiber, resulting in lower blood sugar and cholesterol.  This can also help with conditions like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis. A single cup of cooked dried peas in your daily diet provides 65.1% of the recommended daily fiber. They also provide a good amount of protein, two B-vitamins, and several important minerals. Peas also include isoflavones, which are helpful in reducing the risk of breast and prostate cancer.  More info here.

Pumpkin Seeds - Also called pepitas, these are a very healthy snack!  Be sure to buy raw ones and not the flavored processed ones you find in a lot of stores.  For men, they can help with prostate health and with bone protection.  Because they are high in zinc, pumpkin seeds are a natural protector against osteoporosis. Low intake of zinc is linked to higher rates of osteoporosis.  They also contain L-tryptophan, a compound naturally effective against depression.  1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds contains 92% of your daily value of magnesium, a mineral in which most Americans are deficient.  Pumpkin seeds effectively reduce inflammation without the side effects of anti-inflammatory drugs as well.   Visit here or here for more info.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Beet Green Chopped Salad

Finally a recipe with beets!  I feel obligated by the name of my blog to at least have a few beet recipes on here every once and a while.  I don't have a particular love for beets or anything...I just couldn't think of a better name and it seemed to fit with the vision I have for this blog.  Anyway, I got a bunch of beets in the CSA share this week and thought this recipe sounded good.  I always feel guilty throwing the beet greens away because I know they are so good for you, but I never know what to do with them.  
This recipe was really good!  While the amount of dressing was adequate, it might have been nice to have a little more.  If you enjoy dressings/condiments like I do, I would suggest increasing the amount of each ingredient in the dressing.  It was super tasty and I would have liked to have had more!

As a side note, I'm still getting the hang of taking pictures while I'm cooking.  It's quite inconvenient and I hate having to stop what I'm doing, wash my hands and try to take a lovely picture of something that may or may not look lovely.  A big reason I got a fancy new camera was to take pictures for my blog, but I'm still learning how to use it.  I hope the photography will improve with time!  Anyhow, on to the recipe:  
  • 1 bunch of beets, including fresh looking greens
  • olive oil and sea salt for roasting beets
  • 4 scallions, white and light green parts
  • 1 cup cooked and cooled quinoa
  • 1 small avocado, diced
  • 1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds

Tahini dressing
  • 2 Tbsp. tahini
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1-2 tsp. honey (or agave nectar), depending on desired sweetness
  • 3 Tbsp. water, or as needed
  • hefty pinch of salt and pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely minced
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped chives (I didn't have chives and it was just fine without them)
1.  Preheat the oven to 450'.
Beets ready for roasting 
2.  Cut the greens from the beets at their stem. Rub a bit of olive oil on the skin of the beets, sprinkle with salt and wrap them all in a foil pack. Set on the middle oven rack and cook for 45-55 minutes until you can easily piece through with a knife. Set them aside to cool.
3.  While the beets roast, clean and dry the greens. Chop off and discard the long red stems. Chop the greens and put them in a large mixing bowl.  Also begin cooking the quinoa.  Rinse it well, bring it to a boil and cook for about 15 minutes and then let it sit with the top on for about 10 minutes before allowing it to cool off.
4.  To prepare the dressing, whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, vinegar, honey and water. Mix in the garlic, hearty pinch of salt and pepper and drizzle in the olive oil while whisking. Add more water if you prefer it thinner. Mix in the chives. Adjust to your taste and set aside.   
5.  Once the beets are cool enough to touch, you should be able to just push the skin off with your fingers. Use a paring knife to help it along. Dice the peeled beets. Thinly slice the scallions. Add the beets, scallions, quinoa and avocado to the mixing bowl and toss with a generous amount of dressing (note: the salad will turn pink from the beets. If this bothers you, you can toss everything without the diced beets, and sprinkle them on top). Sprinkle in the sunflower seeds, give it one more toss.
Health Benefits

Beets-  These colorful root vegetables contain powerful nutrient compounds that help protect against heart disease, birth defects and certain cancers, especially colon cancer.  More info here

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) -  Many of you may have heard of quinoa because recently it's been talked about a lot as being a superfood.  Quinoa is not a grain and is actually a seed related to the spinach family.   It actually cooks and tastes like a grain, making it an excellent replacement for grains that are difficult to digest (and it's gluten free!).  Quinoa is full of phytonutrients, antioxidants AND can even help balance your blood sugar.  Quinoa is a complete protein.  It contains all 9 essential amino acids that are required by the body as building blocks for muscles.  It also contains high levels of magnesium, which helps relax your muscles and blood vessels and effects blood pressure.  This also helps with migraine headaches.  Visit here or here for more info on this great food!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Asparagus Salad with Broccoli and Radishes

All I've got to say about this recipe is yum!  It seems so simple, yet it is so tasty.  I borrowed the recipe from my favorite, 101 Cookbooks.  I used broccoli instead of broccolini because I had wonderful, fresh, organic broccoli from the CSA.  I also used almonds instead of pine nuts (because pine nuts are so darn expensive).  This recipe turned out well and it is something I'll definitely make again!
  • 12 spears of thick asparagus, sliced into 1/4-inch thick coins (the slicing into coins is optional, but I think it made it better)
  • 1 head of broccoli, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • juice from one lemon
  • big pinch of sea salt
  • 1 small shallot, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted, and coarsely chopped
  • 7 tiny radishes, washed trimmed and very thinly sliced
  • zest of one lemon
  • a bit of shaved Parmesan (if you are vegan, you won't miss the cheese)

1. Wash the asparagus, break off the ends and chop into coin size pieces.

Radishes from the CSA
2. Wash the broccoli and chop it into bite-sized pieces.  Steam the broccoli for a few minutes.  Don't cook it all the way because you will be cooking it with the asparagus later (the original recipe calls for broccolini, which would not require steaming.  The asparagus cooks a lot faster than the broccoli, so it's important that the broccoli has a head start).

3.  While the broccoli is steaming, make the dressing by whisking together the lemon juice, salt, shallot and olive oil.   

4. Place a splash of olive oil along with a couple pinches of salt in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot add the asparagus and broccoli. Toss well and cover the skillet with a lid. Cook for one minute. Stir again, taste a piece, and cover again for another minute - but only if needed. You don't want to overcook the vegetables here, they should be bright and with a bit of bite to them. When the vegetables are cooked, remove them from the heat and stir in the radishes and lemon zest. Toss with the dressing.  Taste, add a bit of salt if needed. 

5.  Turn everything out onto a platter and finish with some shaved Parmesan and top with toasted almonds.
The finished product
Health Benefits

Broccoli - Broccoli is so good for you!  There are too many health benefits to list here.  Broccoli has been shown to lower cholesterol, help your body detox, repair sun damaged skin and help reduce inflammation.  It is high in potassium, vitamins C & K, calcium and fiber.  Check out 10 Health Benefits of broccoli here.  Always a great resource, the world's healthiest foods has a great explanation of how awesome broccoli is here.

Asparagus -Asparagus is also a wonderful source of nutrients for a healthy body and mind.  Due to the high inulin and fiber content, asparagus is great for digestive support.  It is also high in folate, which supports our cardiovascular system and can help prevent birth defects in pregnant women.  Find out more here and go here to read about nine health benefits.  

Shallots - Many of you may not be familiar with shallots.  They look sort of like a cross between an onion and garlic, but taste more like onions (but are a bit sweeter and not as intense).  The shallot itself is very high in vitamin C, potassium, fiber, folic acid, calcium, iron and is also a good source of protein.  There have been many studies over the years about the effects different fruits and vegetables may have on the health.  Shallots contain two types of sulphur compounds Allypropyldisulphine (APDS) and flavoniods such as quercetin.  People who consume a lot of flavoniods have been shown to have a reduced chance of developing cancer, heart disease and diabetes, due to the wonderful antibacterial properties they process. As an added benefit they are also anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anti-allergenic.  Shallots are especially good at helping the liver to eliminate toxins from the body, which is essential in the chemically processed foods that many people enjoy, as well as helping to process alcohol. Shallots also contain saponins which have been shown to inhibit and kill cancerous cells in the body, particularly liver and stomach cancer.  Read more here.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Tatsoi with Mushrooms and Indian Spices

I know many of you are wondering what tatsoi's not something you regularly see in the grocery store or even farmers markets.  But I got a bunch of it from the CSA this week and was not sure how I was going to cook it.  After a lengthy search, I found this recipe.  I used a combination of tatsoi and mustard greens, but wasn't impressed at first with the original recipe.  I made some modifications and I think it turned out pretty well, but I will probably make some changes the next time I make it (suggestions are welcome!).  It definitely has a different taste, but it was a good change of pace.

Tatsoi and mustard greens ready to be cooked!

  • 2 Tbsp. peanut oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 2. tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. coriander seeds (optional)
  • 2 big bunches tatsoi, bok choy or other mustardy/cabbagey greens, chopped, stalks even more finely chopped so they cook evenly
  • 1 (10 oz.) pkg. mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tsp, tamari (or soy sauce)
  • 1 handful of large flake coconut
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups rice

1. Heat oil in wok or large frying pan. Add garlic and stir, one minute. Add onions and spices and cook, stirring, another 1-2 minutes. 

2.  Add mushrooms, tatsoi, water and tamari and stir well to wilt, then cover and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Serve over rice.


Health Benefits

Tumeric - I can't say tumeric is my favorite spice, but I try to eat it as much as I can because it is so good for you.  I've read it is one of the best spices you can eat and has a lot of great anti-inflammatory properties.  Dr. Oz calls it "the spice that keeps you smart" as it helps clear up brain-clogging proteins.  It has many other beneficial properties and applications including: treatment of gallbladder problems, indigestion and infections; used for Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, asthma, athlete’s foot, boils, colic, dermatitis, diarrhea, gas, high cholesterol, inflammation, intestinal pain, irritable bowel syndrome, psoriasis and yeast infections.  Click here to see 20 health benefits of or here to learn even more!

This is what tatsoi looks like in case you were wondering!
Tatsoi & Mustard Greens - Mustard greens aid in digestion because of their ability to bind bile in the digestive tract, making it easier for bile acids to be excreted, which naturally lowers cholesterol. Cooked greens have a stronger binding ability. Two glucosinolates in mustard greens have well-documented cancer preventive and anti-inflammatory properties. Regular consumption of mustard greens in the diet is known to prevent arthritis, osteoporosis, iron deficiency, anemia and believed to protect from cardiovascular diseases, asthma and colon and prostate cancers. Click here for lots more info on mustard greens.