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Salad Challenge

I dearly believe that children watch you, learn from you, and mimic you.  With that said, I want to be a great influence for them. Some days, my patience wears thin as I feel tired and worn out, but I strive to be an image for them that I hope will create great thinkers, adventurers, cooks, friends, and generally good people.

Meals are an important part of physical performance.  Being sensitive to my body chemistry, I can feel when I’ve had too much salt, sugar, bread, not enough water,  & not enough sleep.  Being that today marks a year since our move, I figured I’d give myself a challenge.  I already eat really well, mostly cook from scratch, extremely limit processed food items, and drink ample water each day.  Since watching FedUp, I’ve cut down heavily on the amount of sugar I was allowing; which quite honestly was not too shabby anyways…but I am trying to abide by the recommended 25 grams/day. So, what does that mean?  I figured my challenge was to have a salad a day for a month, with the aim to go longer once I hit that mark.

Having an organic garden within 30 steps from our place, this is completely feasible.  My mom is great at getting my children to taste things they would otherwise turn their nose up; if it were me suggesting it.  It’s pretty funny that kids will listen to grandparents over parents sometimes. I’m thrilled that my own parents create an environment of curiosity. They now regularly partake dandelions flowers, nasturtiums, violets, fennel fronds, alpine strawberries, arugula, uncooked green beans, sweet peas, etc. They pretty much eat their body weight in the fresh food from these 6 acres. They are always full of chagrin when they’ve spent time with my mom in the garden and are eager beavers to get busy making their own salad. There are so many salads one can make: bean salad, fruit salad, green salad, etc. Hopefully, my children will join me on my salad challenge.  Will you?

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Today’s Salad: swiss chard, arugula, nasturtiums greens/flowers, quinoa, fennel fronds, dried cranberries, avocado, & toasted pine nuts dressed with home-made Honey-Dijon dressing.

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Chilled Beet Salad

We left for Washington State on July 5th; just shy of a year ago.  It has been a bittersweet experience.  We miss our friends so incredibly much, and think of them daily.  Their companionship, conversation, laughter, shoulder to cry on, ideas to bounce back and forth, and their genuineness is something that cannot be replaced.

Our recent journey back to CA was incredible.  This recipe makes me think of one of my besties, Brianne Wells.  It was at her house, prior to her son’s birthday party, that I was asked to prepare this.  I love everything about it.  Thank you Brianne for this recipe.

I will miss gathering this year, as we have done for the last 14 years or so, to celebrate our favorite holiday alongside you and your family.  Cheers!  I’ll be eating this beet salad on Saturday, and be thinking of you guys.

Ingredients:

6 large beets or 5 1/2 cups of medium diced beets

1 cup dill pickles, mince

1/2 cup “mayo”

1/4 cup pickle juice

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. dried dill

1 tsp. sea salt or to taste

dash ground black pepper

Directions:

Steam diced beets until tender. Set aside and allow to cool.  In a mixing bowl, prepare “dressing” by combining pickles, mayo, pickle juice, garlic, dill, sea salt, and black pepper.  Whisk well.  Add the dressing to the steamed beets, and mix well.  Allow to chill for two hours.

 

 

 

Blueberry Bundt Cake

 A plethora of summer fruit at my fingertips lead me down this path…. Blueberry Bundt Cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1 teaspoon for blueberries
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup palm shortening
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. flax meal
  • 8 Tbsp. almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup vegan sour cream
  • 2 cups organic blueberries (frozen or fresh)
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, whisk 2 1/2 cups flour with baking powder and salt; set aside.

  2. In a mixing bowl, cream shortening, flax meal, sour cream, almond extract, and sugars on high speed until light and fluffy. Fold wet into dry.

  3. In a bowl, toss blueberries with remaining teaspoon flour; gently fold into batter. Coat a 12-cup muffin pan or a Bundt pan with cooking spray. Spread batter in prepared pan.

  4. Bake bundt cake at 350 for 70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Cool in pan 20 minutes. Invert onto a rack; cool completely, top side up. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

Lentil Chili

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The cornbread was gone before I could even snap a photo.  So you only get the recipe for the lentil chili that was the perfect accompaniment. It was the main reason I made the cornbread in the first place anyways. Hearty, with abundant flavor, and kid friendly (it won’t burn your ass coming out the other end due to it being too spicy) If you’re not a pansy like me, who sweats just from eating mustard (yep, total white girl), then by all means kick it up a notch and add some damn diced jalepeno to this betsy.

Ingredients:

1 bay leaf

1 16 oz. bag of lentils

2  Tbsp. olive oil

1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

1 jar bruschetta sauce from Trader Joe’s

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 (14.5 oz) can fire roasted tomatoes – Trader Joe’s

1/2 white onion or vidalia onion, chopped

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

3 boullion cubes  added to 32 oz. water or 32 oz. vegetable stock

4 tsp. chili powder

sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions: In a large pot, heat 1 Tbsp. oil along with lentils and stir frequently for 1-2 minutes. Add broth or water w/bouillon cubes and bring to boil, then allow to simmer for 30 minutes or until tender. While you are bringing the lentils/broth to boil, begin sautéing chopped onions, red bell peppers, and garlic for 5 minutes in a skillet along with the remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil. I like to sauté them and then add to the lentil/broth mix for extra flavor.  After adding the sautéed mix to the lentil/broth combo, add the can of fire roasted tomatoes, jar of bruschetta, and chili powder. When the lentils are tender (approximately 30 minutes), add the chopped cilantro and adjust with sea salt and pepper.

Delicious alongside cornbread smothered with earth balance and a smidgen of honey.

Vanilla Bean Crepes with Orange-Cashew Creme

My family and I love waffles, pancakes, and crepes. I don’t make any of them often, as I see them more as a treat. But oh my goodness, when I do make them, they are so dang tasty. Typically a weekend morning splurge, we change-up the components on these bad boys to make them extra special.

This weekend we enjoyed some that I’d like to share with you. They are vanilla bean crepes; lovingly speckled with fresh vanilla bean and filled with home-blended cashew creme with a splash of orange extract. It’s almost like taking in the scent of budding flowers on afternoon day, while lying in tall green grass with the sun kissing your winter skin. It’s the simple things in life that need not be taken for granted.

Ingredients:

Batter: 

1 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/4 cup organic cane sugar

1 1/2 Tbsp. ground flax meal

4 Tbsp. expeller pressed safflower oil

2 1/2- 2 3/4 cups of almond milk, adjust if you need it thinner (I light mine a bit on the thicker side)

1/2 of 1 vanilla bean, scraped

1/2 Tbsp. cinnamon scented vanilla extract (by Edwin and Lesha)

Cashew Creme:

2 cups of roasted cashews

1/2 cup of filtered water

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 Tbsp. organic brown sugar

1/4 tsp. of orange extract

pinch of sea salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 200 degrees for holding prepared crepes until you are ready to fill.

For the batter: Add all dry ingredients to a bowl and whisk thoroughly (flour, baking powder, sea salt, sugar, and flax meal) Add wet ingredients in a separate bowl and whisk well (safflower oil, almond milk, vanilla bean, and cinnamon-vanilla extract).  Combine dry to wet and mix well.

For the cashew creme: Add  all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Set creme aside in a bowl.

To prepare the crepes: In a crepe pan, heat a small amount of safflower oil, and then place 1/4 cup of batter into heated pan.  Swirl into a circle and prepare the same way you would a pancake. Make sure one side is cooked before flipping to the other. Place on a cookie sheet in the warmed oven until you are ready to fill.  When you are done preparing the crepes, take each one and place 1 Tbsp. of cashew creme on half of the crepe and then fold in half, or roll.  It’s all up to you how you’d like to display or eat them. We like them folded two ways, and garnished with fresh fruit.

 

Black Bean Mushroom Burgers with Cilantro Aioli

My kids fought over who got the last burger. THAT is a good sign. This was an attempt on my part to create a gluten-free burger that was satisfying, full of flavor, and a great source of fiber/protein.  Cost effective, and easy to prepare, this recipe is definitely a keeper.

Ingredients (yield: 6 burgers)

Burger:

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 cup diced leeks

1/2 cup diced crimini mushrooms

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds coarsely chopped

1 Tbsp. garlic, minced

1 1/2 cups cooked black beans

2 Tbsp. flax meal

1/4 tsp. cumin

1/4 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/8 tsp. chili powder

1/8 tsp. cinnamon powder

Breading:

3 Tbsp. ancient grains GF flour

1 Tbsp. organic cornmeal

1 tsp. sea salt

Cilantro Aioli:

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1/2 clove of garlic

4 Tbsp. mayo substitute (Just Mayo)

1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup filtered water

1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds

1 pinch of sea salt

1/8 tsp. jalapeno pepper hot sauce

Directions: 

Burgers: In olive oil, sauté leeks, mushrooms, and garlic for 7-10 minutes. Add pumpkin seeds, and cooked black beans, sauté for 5 more minutes. Add flax meal, cumin, paprika, sea salt, chili powder, and cinnamon.  Saute for 5 more minutes.  While still warm, mash well with a potato masher, then set aside while preparing breading and aioli.

Breading: Combine ancient grains, cornmeal, and sea salt onto a platter.  Mix well.  Form burgers mixture into circular patties (about 2 inch L x 2 inch W x 1/2 H) Bread each side of burger with the platter mixture.  Lay on parchment and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for two hours+ prior to grilling.

Cilantro Aioli: This is not a traditional aioli. There are no eggs in this combination.  To prepare this mixture, you can place all the ingredients into a bowl and emulsify until pureed.

To Grill Burgers: When you’re ready to grill the burgers, heat olive oil in a pan and carefully grill on each side until darkened.  They are gluten-free, so handle with care. I served mine with avocado, butter lettuce, grilled pineapple, grilled red bell peppers/red onions, and cilantro aioli on a sourdough baguette. Sourdough, from research, is better for digestion. Some gluten-free folks believe it is okay to consume because of the fermentation that occurs when preparing. If you are incredibly gluten-free sensitive, and prefer not to take a chance, I know Udi’s make’s decent burger buns.

 

 

 

 

 

Coconut Matcha Tea Ice Cream

I’ve been on a matcha kick lately. Traditionally introduced in Japan as part of meditation, it is an incredible source for antioxidants, detoxification, enhances mood/concentration, and boosts metabolism. Additionally, it helps fight cancer, calms the mind/relaxes the body, and is an excellent source of vitamins. I typically enjoy matcha as a warm beverage, but decided to try it as a dessert component today. Subtly sweet, this creamy treat needs nothing but your smile.

Ingredients (yield: 1 1/4 quart)

32 oz. unsweetened coconut milk

1-14 oz. can of unsweetened coconut creme

1/3 cup unsalted roasted cashews

1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp. maple syrup

2 Tbsp. unsweetened matcha powder

1/4 tsp. almond extract

5 medjool dates, pitted

Directions: 

Combine all ingredients into a blender, and blend until completely smooth.  Add to an already frozen ice cream maker, and turn on until thoroughly frozen.  Enjoy with a smile.