Vegetables: The New Noodle

No time to boil water for pasta? No problem. Just grab a couple summer squash, some carrots, and use a mandoline to create thin ribbons of noodliciousness.  Toss them with your favorite pasta sauce, a couple other vegetables, some toasted nuts or seeds and fresh herbs – you’ve got a quick, simple, and nutritious meal.DSC_0014

Carrot + Squash Noodles with Steamed Broccoli and Cilantro Tahini Dressing
2 medium carrots
1 medium squash
1 handful broccoli
2 T sesame seeds

2 T tahini
1 T vinegar (umeboshi plum, apple cider, lemon juice)
1/4 cup coconut milk or other nut milk
1 T minced ginger
1 T minced garlic
large handful cilantro
pinch salt

First make your sauce. Mix the tahini, vinegar, ginger and garlic. Add coconut milk until you reach your desired consistency. Add chopped cilantro, and season to taste.

Then cut or tear your broccoli into small florets. Steam until bright green and tender, but not mushy – between 5-7 minutes.

Meanwhile, use a mandoline to create thin strips of carrots and summer squash/zucchini. Eat them as broad noodles, or cut them into thin strips with a knife for smaller noodles.

Mix the noodles with the sauce and broccoli. Top with toasted sesame seeds and enjoy!

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The Healing Power of Soup

The arrival of fall, and thus, the arrival of soup. Fall, with its chilly mornings and evenings, crisp breeze, and subtleties, is a time of transition. A time of preparation for the winter ahead. Warming, soothing, nourishing foods bring us a sense of stability and groundedness. No wonder soup is a staple of nearly every culture. With a few fresh (or properly stored) ingredients, you can sit back, relax, reflect, and rejuvenate yourself with a nice bowl of soup. Here’s my simple, time-tested, mother-taught, farmer-approved recipe:

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The possibilities are endless! And you can have a great soup in 20 minutes! I tend to find that flavors tend to develop with more time simmering or simply sitting overnight – but can’t deny the value of a quick soup. Busy schedule, unexpected guests, a bunch of hungry farmers at lunch.

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It was harvest day,my turn to make lunch, and I couldn’t choose just one vegetable from our bounty…so I picked six. Onion, garlic, celery, carrots, broccoli, sweet potato. And with a few modifications to the recipe pictured, I had broccoli “cheese” soup in bowls with roasted peppers and a salad of fresh greens, carrots, beets and turnips in under an hour.

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Two great things about this particular soup:

1) Broccoli – an amazing source of vitamins and minerals that support the immune system and heart, produce energy and fight free radicals.

2) Nutritional yeast – a complete source of protein and full of B-complex vitamins, this nutty, cheesy delight is found in any health food store, and can be easily added to soups, sauces, salad dressing, or anywhere cheese might be desired.

I’ll have to do another post on root vegetables to discuss all their nutritional wonders. I’ve already talked about the multitude of ways to use them. But for now, just know to eat ’em up! The season is upon us!

Versatile Vegetables

Autumn is upon us! If you couldn’t tell from the cool mornings, crisp air and changing colors…perhaps your CSA box or local farmers market has made it clear: fall vegetables have arrived! I know I am ready for some hearty, warming dishes after a chilly morning’s work. So, I’ve been turning to root vegetables, and I hope our CSA members are too, since they’ve been getting quite a few in their share…

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One particularly rainy day, I decided to make potato-leek soup. Why? Well, potatoes are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, copper, potassium, manganese, and dietary fiber. And leeks contain sulfur, vitamins A, K, C and B6, as well as magnesium, calcium and polyphenols. But also because they are in season, they taste great together, we have them in abundance!

So the night before I was serving lunch, I cooked it up – soup always seems to taste better the next day…
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Creamy Potato-Leek Soup
5 leeks
1 head celery
7 medium carrots
5 cloves garlic
11 medium potatoes
Vegetable broth
Thyme
Salt & Pepper
Cashew milk

1) Soak 1 c. cashews in 2 c. water for 4 hours. Blend, and use like milk. Substitute most nuts or seeds.
2) Finely chop your leeks. Saute the dark green part – the whole darn thing – in a bit of oil in a large pan. Add the white parts, then finely chopped celery and carrots. Put a lid on the pan, saute on low until the veggies start to become translucent.
3) Add in some finely chopped garlic, and some thyme. Cook until fragrant.
4) Add in roughly chopped potatoes, and vegetable broth to cover. Bring to a low boil, then simmer until potatoes are tender.
5) Puree the soup with an immersion blender, add salt & pepper to taste, and cashew milk to creaminess preference.

Serve with a few drops of cashew milk, freshly ground pepper and some parsley, or go for a lunch worthy of a hungry farm crew…

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First, I threw together a braised cabbage & apple salad. Red onion, green cabbage, tart apples, apple cider vinegar and parsley – simple, sweet accompaniment to any fall meal.

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Root veggies galore! Meanwhile, I chopped some beets, turnips, sweet potatoes and parsley root into thin strips, and roasted ’em at 375 for about a half hour. They were very lightly tossed in some coconut oil, salt and pepper. I recommended mixing them into the soup for added texture. You could also serve them as fries with ketchup.

With my oven already hot, I decided to pop some shishito peppers in there and give ’em a nice roast too. Five minutes later, they were blistering and perfect. I sprinkled them with a pinch of sea salt, and they were finger-licking good. Not too spicy, perfectly thin skinned, smoky deliciousness.

Once you go farm, you’ll never go back!!!

 

Food for a Crowd

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A last burst of summer before we head into autumn. The red new potatoes aren’t quite so new anymore. Baby green beans and carrots are showcasing their sweet, tender crunch. And cherry tomatoes are making one last stand before calling it for the season. This was the meal I made for my first foray into catering a couple days ago. Pictured above is actually my lunch the next day – aren’t leftovers amazing? – featuring the full vegan, gluten-free version. Most people ate some salmon instead of my rice & bean salad, what are you gonna do? One day maybe people will realize that vegetables have protein, too! Until then, eat your locally caught fish.

I tried to keep the whole dinner very simple, wanting to showcase the flavor of the vegetables, and making sure everything tasted good together (and with the fish). My recipes all follow:

Dinner Menu

Sungold & Black Cherry Tomato Salad
Lots of cherry tomatoes, halved
Red onion, sliced thin
Basil, chiffonaded
Parsley, finely chopped
Good quality olive oil
Juice of a lemon
Salt & Pepper

Let the red onion marinate in oil and lemon juice while you halve the tomatoes. Then delicately toss the tomatoes, basil and parsley with the marinade. Salt and pepper to taste.

Steamed Red Norland Potatoes
Lots of small new potatoes (or chopped large)
Garlic, minced
Juice of a few lemons
Good quality olive oil
Dill, chopped fine
Salt & Pepper

Blend the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix in the dill.

Bring water to a rolling boil underneath a steaming basket. Add the potatoes to the basket, and seal the pot well. Depending on the size of the potatoes, they’ll be soft and buttery in 20-30 minutes. Toss in the garlic-dill dressing and serve warm.

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Roasted Green Beans & Carrots

Lots of green beans, topped & tailed
Lots of baby carrots, topped
Shallots, minced
Garlic, minced
Mustard seed
Good quality olive oil
Juice of a lemon
Few sprigs fresh thyme
Salt & Pepper

Make the dressing by blending together a few shallots, garlic cloves, mustard seed, oil, lemon juice and fresh thyme. Salt and pepper to taste.

Roast the green beans and carrots in a 375 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes, until brightly colored, and just starting to crisp. Toss in the dressing and serve warm or room temperature.

Tongue of Fire Beans & Rice 
Brown rice, soaked overnight & cooked
Beans, soaked overnight & cooked
Huge handful parsley, chopped
Sweet peppers, finely diced
Red onion, finely diced
Juice of a few lemons
Good quality olive oil
Salt & Pepper

Simply toss all the ingredients together in the ratios of your choosing, and let marinate overnight. Serve at room temperature.

And apparently no catered meal is complete without dessert…so I gave it to ’em raw, vegan and gluten free. Surprise, surprise – no leftovers of this baby, but there were plenty of store-bought cookies and pies untouched.

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Blackberry Tart with Caramel-Almond Filling
2 cups walnuts
1 cup cashews
3 cups raisins

1/2 cup almond butter
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup date pastesprinkle of cinnamon
pinch of salt

Blackberries (or any in season fruit)

Blend the walnuts and cashews into a fine powder. Add the raisins, and blend until it reaches a sticky consistency. Press into a tart pan, and let set in the refrigerator for an hour or two.

Soak 3/4 cup dates in hot water, and blend together to make a date paste. Add in the almond butter, coconut oil, cinnamon & salt, and blend until smooth. Pour over the “crust” and let set for another half hour.

Top with berries, and serve!

I made another version of this pie a few days ago, and I have to say I think my artistic side came out a bit more. But when you’ve got Indian Blood Peaches & fresh raspberries…there’s just not a lot of competition.

Build a Better Breakfast

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The secret is out, right? Breakfast is the greatest meal of the day. And no wonder, it can help to improve concentration & performance in tasks throughout the day, gives you strength & endurance, and can help to lower cholesterol and maintain a healthy weight.

But not all breakfasts are created equal. If you’re grabbing a Starbucks & coffee cake, or putting a Pop-Tart in the toaster and running out the door, you aren’t doing your body any favors.

I have an easy, three-step formula that fulfills my body’s nutritional requirements, is completely customizable, and tastes fantastic. And you can do all the prep work on your weekend, and enjoy breakfast with little to no preparation throughout the rest of your busy week.

The first thing you need is a whole grain. I put together a handy chart on the wonders of whole grains, both those with and without gluten. This is your carbohydrate, your lasting energy. You can cook a huge batch on Sunday, and reheat it for porridge. You can toast up or dehydrate a batch with nuts & seeds (see below), and eat it as granola. Or you can go raw, soak up some grains, and eat it as muesli.

The second addition is various nuts and seeds. These are your proteins and healthy fats. I’d recommend soaking your seeds prior to consumption, but they’re still nutritional powerhouses even if you don’t find the time.

Seeds

The final step in the well-balanced breakfast is adding in some fruit. Some people claim fruit is high in sugar, and should be avoided. This is crazy. If you only eat coffee & a banana, your blood might not be too happy. But fruit in addition to complex carbohydrates, protein, fiber and healthy fats – that’s a wonderful thing. You can get so many vitamins and minerals to keep your body running at its optimal state.

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Here are just a few of my breakfast combinations…even I’m salivating a little bit remembering some of these…

Millet Porridge with Spiced Strawberry Preserves, Toasted Walnuts & Coconut

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Sprouted Buckwheat, Flax, Sunflower, & Sesame Seed Granola with Blackberry & Apple Jam DSC_0150

Raw Buckwheat & Chia Granola with Mulberries, Wineberries & Black Raspberries DSC_0129

Steel-Cut Oats with Almonds, Sunflower Seeds, Coconut & Wild BlackberriesDSC_0167

The photo at the very top of this post was Cacao Granola with Pumpkin Seed, Hazelnut, Currants & Gooseberries. 

If you’re not into cereal & milk (all almond milk for me), you can also do this in smoothie form, which I’ll admit, I’ve been doing the past few weeks. It’s been summer and the field calls my name earlier and earlier. I like to get a bit of work in and drink my smoothie to power me up.

Vegan Sushi: A Paradox?

Maybe, but who cares? Labels just create confusion, I think. Why can’t I just put together a plate of food, put it in front of someone, and have them eat it. Who needs to know what it’s called, or even what’s in it? There are vegetables in there, eat them! I suppose I could try and come up with new names, but that seems to create confusion as well. So, I’m sticking with sushi. Even though there is no rice, no fish and no seafood in these rolls. Ah well, they tasted delicious anyway.

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I wanted to showcase a delicious vegetable for the CSA this week: kohlrabi. I tried it out for my first time rolled up in 3 different ways in a piece of nori. See my recipe below for some nutrition facts, and different ways to use this crazy looking creation.

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Also, some quick information on sea vegetables. Here, I’m using nori, which is a dried, edible seaweed. Nori is about a third protein and a third dietary fiber, and contains high proportions of iodine, vitamins A, B, and K, and iron. As with anything, there are various levels of quality, so be sure to spend some time & money searching for the best nutritional bang for your buck.

Lastly, many CSA members seemed to think they had no time to prepare such an “extravagant” meal. This roll of sushi took me under 20 minutes to prepare!!! If you want to have rice , it’ll take a little longer, but seriously! It’s just chopping some vegetables and rolling ’em up!! It probably would take just as long to get in your car and drive to Chipotle. So give yourself a treat and make a quick roll, or throw a sushi party and have everyone bring their favorite vegetable!

A Cooling Combination

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There are hints of fall in the air. Crisp breeze, cool nights, and the alluring scent of ripe melons. After the hustle and bustle of a CSA morning, I was ready for a sweet, juicy meal. Some vine-ripened tomatoes, melons and cucumbers were calling to me, and I set out to combine these juicy fruits into a satisfying salad.

I grabbed a Sugar Baby melon, some Lemon cucumbers, a Green Zebra & a Striped German tomato. And here’s what I came up with:

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It may sound like a strange combination, but the flavors play off each other really well. The basil – or some herb – and lemon is definitely important to meld it all together. And texturally, it’s really nice. Crunchy cucumber, crisp melon, fleshy tomato. I’m sure this salad would taste pretty good with some feta cheese or something similar, if you’re into that kind of thing. Or give the salad some smokiness by grilling the watermelon first…! Yum.

This salad also happens to be packed with vitamins and minerals. Watermelon is full of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant phenolic compounds. It’s also rich in vitamin A and C. And the seeds have some iron and zinc, so don’t use ALL of them in a seed spitting competition. Cucumbers contain lignans that improve cardiovascular health, phytonutrients that help scavenge free radicals, and compounds that improve skin complexion. Tomatoes are rich in antioxidants as well, and also help to lower cholesterol. Even basil is a great nutritional addition – it’s a great source of vitamin K, iron, calcium and vitamin A. All of these fruits contain small amounts of protein…just like all vegetables…but if an all vegetable meal is still preposterous, toss in some toasted walnuts or pine nuts.

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Oh! And don’t just throw away your watermelon rind…especially if you’re getting delicious melons from your CSA or farmer’s market. If they aren’t sprayed with pesticides, they are delicious! Seriously! And they make great pickles, though what doesn’t….

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