Thursday, February 27, 2014

Warm Lentil Salad

This lentil salad has almost become a staple in our house. The only problem is that we rarely have much left over so it's usually gone the second day. Maybe next time I should double the recipe...

Lentils are great as a side dish with fish or chicken, or you can have them as more of a main dish, with a side salad or roasted vegetables. These little legumes are quite versatile, and they're packed full of nutrients!

Lentils contain: Fiber, Folate, Magnesium, B-Vitamins, Iron, Potassium and Protein.
Plus, they help to stabilize blood sugar - so no afternoon crash if you eat these guys for lunch!

Warm Lentil Salad (serves 4-6 as a side dish)
2T plus 1/4C Olive Oil
2 Leeks, sliced 1/4" thick
2 Carrots, diced
1t Garlic, minced
1C Dried Lentils, rinsed. Sprouted lentils are great!
4C Broth (I like to use homemade veggie or duck broth)
3t Dijon Mustard
2T Red Wine Vinegar
Salt & Pepper

- Rise the lentils, and pick out any stones or discolored lentils.
- Cook the lentils in the broth. Bring to a boil, then add lentils and lower the heat. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the lentils are soft.
- While lentils are cooking, heat the olive oil in a saute pan. Add the leeks and carrots, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Set aside.
- When lentil are done, drain (reserve the broth if you want, I like to drink it!), and put lentils in a mixing bowl with the leeks and carrots.
- For the dressing, combine the remaining olive oil with the mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper. I like to do this in a small jar with a screw-top lid, and give it a good shake to combine the ingredients. Pour the dressing over the lentils and stir.
- Allow the lentils to cool slightly, about 10 minutes, and serve warm. They also can be put in the fridge and eaten cold or room temperature later.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Homemade Hummus!

With a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of paprika, it's ready to eat!
I've been wanting to try making my own hummus for a while now, but it wasn't until recently, when I was gifted a new-to-me food processor, that I finally got around to giving it a try! In our house, hummus is the easy go-to snack or lunch food that we eat with carrots, celery, cucumbers, bell peppers, or on crackers or rice cakes. It's a very versatile food, and is quite filling!

Buying pre-made organic hummus at the grocery store can get expensive, especially at the rate we go through it, and when searching for options that use olive oil and not canola. A container of organic hummus can be as much as $8, but a big bag of dried organic chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) from the bulk section of Whole Foods was under $4, and the rest of the ingredients we already had at home, so this is a good way to save some money on a kitchen staple!

Since this was our first attempt at making our own hummus, I followed a recipe from Einat Admony in her cookbook "Balaboosta"- which was a holiday gift to me from my guy. She has so many delicious recipes in the book! Our version of her hummus turned out delicious, and I've reprinted it below as it appears in her book. Next time, we plan to play around with the amounts a bit more and see how our own concoction turns out!

Soaking the chickpeas overnight.
A very full food processor!
The leftovers - hummus for the week!

Balaboosta's "My Hubby's Hummus" (makes about 5 cups - a lot!)
3C Dried Organic Chickpeas
2 1/2t Baking Soda
2 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
1/3C Tahini
3.5T Fresh Lemon Juice
5T Olive Oil
1 1/2t Sea Salt
1/2t Ground Cumin
1/8t Black Pepper
1/4t Sweet Paprika, for garnish

Note: Plan ahead! The chickpeas need to soak overnight, or for about 8 hours. You will also need to cook them for about 45 minutes and let them cool BEFORE making the hummus!
- Put the chickpeas in a large bowl, add 1.5t of baking soda, and cover with cool water. Leave them to soak overnight, or at least 8 hours.
- Drain the chickpeas, transfer them to a large pot of water. Add 1t baking soda and bring to a boil. Boil for about 45 minutes, until the chickpeas are tender. Skim off any floating shells.
- When chickpeas are tender, reserve about 1C of the cooking liquid, and drain. Let cool completely.
- When chickpeas have cooled, put them in your food processor with the garlic, reserved liquid, tahini, lemon, 3T olive oil, salt, cumin and pepper. Puree until smooth and creamy.
- To serve, spoon hummus onto a plate or shallow bowl and top with a drizzle of olive oil and paprika.
- Any remaining hummus can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days.

Have you made hummus at home before? How does this recipe compare to yours?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

My first time eating Spaghetti Squash!

You may be surprised, but I only recently tried spaghetti squash. I've heard tons about it, mainly from the Paleo crowd, but somehow I hadn't gotten around to making one yet. Since we don't do pasta in our house and zucchini is out of season, I was very interested in trying it this winter. My fiance and I both get nostalgic for the ground beef tomato sauce we grew up eating over spaghetti, and this squash seemed like the perfect substitute. We both LOVED the meal, and are looking forward to making it again soon!

Raw veggies rinsed, cut up and ready to cook.

Simmering sauce. Smells so good!

"Noodles" with sauce. Not the prettiest photo, but tastes great!

Spaghetti Squash "Noodles" with Beefy Tomato Sauce (serves 4, cook time: 1hour)
- 1 Spaghetti Squash (see image above)
- 1lb Grass-Fed Ground Beef
- 1 Onion, chopped
- 2 Bell Peppers, chopped
- 1C Mushrooms, quartered
- 3 Cloves Garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 Jar Organic Tomato Sauce

- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Cut the squash in half lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds.
- In a baking dish, put about 1/4" water and place the squash, cut side down.
- Roast in over until tender, about 45 minutes.

While squash is cooking, prepare the sauce:
- In a large saucepan on the stove, over medium heat, cook the beef with the onions. Cook till beef is no longer pink, and starts to get crumbly.
- Remove meat from pan and place to the side.
- Put some oil in the pan, and cook the remaining vegetables (peppers, mushrooms, garlic) til done but not mushy. Add the tomato sauce. Add the beef/onions. Combine and simmer on low heat until squash is done.
- Taste, and add spices or salt/pepper if desired.

- When squash is tender, remove from oven and use a fork to shred the inside of the squash. It naturally comes out like a spaghetti noodle!
- Put the "noodles" on a plate, and top with the sauce.
- Serve and enjoy!

What's YOUR favorite way to enjoy spaghetti squash? Tell us in the comments!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Scenes from Sunny Southern California

Cruising the PCH in a convertible - yes, I was wearing a tank top in January.
Last week, I travelled to Los Angeles and San Diego to visit family. My sister lives in Los Angeles, and my cousin lives near San Diego. While I had the occasional splurge (hello pecan-salted-caramel sticky bun), I did my best to eat healthy while traveling, and I found some wonderful options! The warm sunshine felt great on my skin, we went to the beach more days than not, did a couple of hikes in the canyons, and it was wonderful to see some family members that I don't see very often. A long drive from San Francisco - about 6 hours down and 8 hours coming home - but it was worth it!

Lunch at Lemonade - wonderful salad options of all kinds! I want one of these to open near me.
L to R: Arugula, Roasted Broccoli, Quinoa Tabouleh, Watermelon Radish
Sunset over the beach in Malibu.

Sunset over Malibu Lagoon State Beach.

My attempt at a selfie of my mom and I riding bikes between Santa Monica and Venice.

The "Kale-Aid" juice at True Food Kitchen in Santa Monica:
Kale, Apple, Cucumber, Celery, Lemon & Ginger = YUMMY!

My mom's lunch at True Food Kitchen in Santa Monica: The "Inside-Out Quinoa Burger"
(We also shared some grilled Monterey Sardines, and I had a Mediterranean Chopped Salad.)

Window shopping in Manhattan Beach.

Strolling La Jolla's beautiful coastal walk.

Me. Loving the California coast!

How many sea lions can pile on to one rock?
Pelicans we saw in La Jolla - they're huge!

Walking Black's Beach with my mom and aunt. Looks deserted, but there were lots of surfers!

I love seeing signs like this at restaurants!
Taken during lunch at whisknladle in La Jolla.

A lovely sunset near Scripps Pier.

My cousin's beautiful outdoor wedding, just steps from the ocean!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Mashed Butternut Squash

I realize the title of this recipe may not sound all that appealing, but I promise it tastes delicious! I made this as a side dish at our Christmas dinner, and it was a bit hit with everyone. But it's not just for a holiday meal, you can easily make this recipe any night of the week. I perused the internet to find a squash dish to make, and came across this one. With a few small tweaks, it worked perfectly for us!

The finished product. Yum!

Sautéed apples and onions. Not so photogenic, but smells amazing!

Mashed Butternut Squash (serves 8-10, approx 1 hour to make)
- 4lbs of Butternut Squash (this is about 2 medium-sized squash)
- 2T Unsalted Butter
- 2 Apples, cored and diced
- 1 Yellow Onion, diced
- Salt
- 1 Clove of Garlic, minced
- 1/2t Cinnamon
- 1/2t Coriander
- 1/2t Cumin
- 1/8t Cayenne Pepper

- Set the oven temperature to 375.
- Rinse and dry the outside of the squash, then cut in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds. Line a baking sheet in tin foil, and place the squash cut side down. Bake under the squash is tender, keeping in mind that the neck will take longer than the bulb. It should take 35-45 minutes, depending on the size.
- Meanwhile, in a large pot over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the apples and onions with a dash of salt. Cover, and cook until onions are soft, about 5 minutes.
- Remove the cover and continue to sauté until the onions turn golden brown, about 10 minutes longer. Add the garlic and spices and stir to combine. When fragrant, about 30 seconds, remove from heat and set aside.
- When squash is done, scrape it out of the skin and add it to the pot. Use a large spoon or potato masher to mix and mash it all up.
- Serve and enjoy!

What's your favorite way to enjoy squash? Tell us in the comments!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Mushroom, Onion & Goat Cheese Frittata

After a whirlwind tour of spending one or two nights with various family members over the holidays, C and I recently (finally) had a relaxing morning to ourselves in our own apartment. It was HEAVEN to have a full night's sleep in our own bed again! Because we were in and out so often these past two weeks, we had some things in our fridge/pantry that needed to get eaten before they went bad. Enter...the frittata!

Frittatas may look fancy, but they are like soup in that you can throw leftover bits and pieces into them and have a delicious final product as a meal! Frittata is great for breakfast with a side of pasture-raised bacon, or for lunch and/or dinner with an organic side salad or greens. The frittata I make serves about 6 people, so we have leftovers for the next couple of days. You can reheat a slice, or just eat it cold or at room temperature.

Here are my step-by-step photos...the recipe is written out at the bottom of this post.

Sautéing the onions.
Next up: Sautéing the mushrooms!
Mix it all together with the eggs and pour into the pan.
Added the goat cheese and walnuts, waiting for the edges to set.
Out of the oven, with two slices cut out for breakfast. Yum!
I'm going to do my best to write this recipe for you, as I didn't measure anything. To be honest, the amounts aren't really that important here. Use however much looks good to you, and it will most likely still taste good! Besides burning the whole thing during the final step, there isn't much you can do to mess up a frittata. Happy eating! :-)

Mushroom, Onion & Goat Cheese Frittata (serves 4-6, about 40 minutes)
- Butter (or ghee) for the pan
- 1 Onion, sliced
- Approx. 2 Cups of Mushrooms, sliced
- Thyme, fresh is great but dried also works
- 8 Pasture-Raised Eggs (Remember, you're not eating the whole thing in one sitting!)
- Soft Goat Cheese, such as Chèvre
- 1/4 Cup of Walnuts, broken in half

- Select a frying pan to use. The larger the pan, the shallower the frittata and therefore the faster it will cook. A smaller pan will result in a deeper frittata, which I think makes a nicer presentation. Do not use a non-stick pan, as the whole thing needs to go in the oven.
- Turn on the broiler in your oven. You want this hot for the final step!
- On medium heat, melt some butter in the pan and sauté the onions until they just begin to brown.
- Put the onions aside on a plate, and put the pan back on the heat. 
- Add a little more butter to the pan, and sauté the mushrooms until they release their water and begin to brown. Add the thyme. When they're done, set them aside with the onions.
- Let the pan (and the onions/mushrooms) cool a bit.
- Crack the eggs into a large bowl and beat them until mixed. Add some salt and pepper, if desired.
- Add the onions and mushrooms into the bowl with the eggs, and mix together gently. You can also use up leftover greens by mixing them into the egg mixture too - things like kale, spinach, chard all work really well!
- With the pan back on medium-low heat, add some butter and make sure to melt some on the sides of the pan. Pour the egg mixture into the pan - DO NOT mix!
- Sprinkle some pieces of goat cheese around the frittata.
- Add the walnuts as a topping.
- Continue to cook on the stove until the edges become firm. Do not mix!
- When the edges of  are firm, put the whole pan in the oven under the broiler. It will only be in here about 2 minutes or so. Keep a close eye so you don't burn the walnuts (like I did here)!

Slice the remaining frittata and put it in a glass container for easy leftovers!
 Have you enjoyed a frittata before? Either homemade or at a restaurant. 
Write in the comments what was in it to inspire us when we make our next one!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Scenes from the holidays

Spending the holiday season with family means I wasn't always able to take photographs of our activities. When I'm around the people I care about, I do my best to be WITH them in mind, body and spirit and not be distracted by things like my phone and camera. That being said, I was able to capture some wonderful moments we had together, a sampling of which is below. 

As the calendar changes tonight from 2013 to 2014, I wish you and yours health and happiness in the new year!

I made a butternut squash dish for Christmas dinner, and found this beautiful heart shape inside!
(Recipe to come in another post.)

C and his granddad rowing around Elkhorn Slough near Monterey, CA.
A beautiful place to see all sorts of wildlife!

A very exciting Christmas present to me! Can't wait to try out some recipes!

Some shots from a Spanish tapas cooking class that C and I took just before Christmas. It was a belated anniversary outing, and lots of fun!
Local honey, used in one of the recipes. 
Squid tentacles, which we chopped up and served on flatbread.

Pan con Tomate, with various toppings: jamon, queso y anchoa

Squid stuffed with caramelized onions, getting grilled.

C putting the finishing touches on our Almond Cakes. Yum!

And with that, my last post of 2013 is complete. See you next year!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Seeing Michael Pollan LIVE

Everything in moderation, including moderation.
-Oscar Wilde

Me and my friend Valarie were SO excited to meet Michael Pollan!
This post is a bit belated...My birthday was about a month ago now, and what did I do that evening? I went with a couple of friends (who I met at nutrition school) to meet Michael Pollan and hear him give a talk in Yountville, California - the heart of wine country and a big agricultural area.

What I didn't realize until we got there was that the event was the culmination of a program held in the schools through Napa County Reads. The students read Michael Pollan's book Food Rules, and then created original recipes for a cooking competition. There was a cookbook of their creation for sale, and children's food-related artwork was hanging throughout the event space. You can see some of it behind us in the photo above. The middle and high school student-chefs also prepared all of the yummy hor d'oeurves, and walked around with platters for us to sample. I was impressed with how well they described each item - it was like being at a fancy party! My friends and I especially liked the demonstration that the St. Helena Montessori school had set up. The school has a bee-keeping class (and hives on campus!) and had huge pieces of honeycomb for us to sample. The two little boys working the booth were adorable, and the honey was delicious!!

After mingling about looking at the art and tasting foods, we got in line to meet Mr. Pollan. I brought my books with me for him to sign, but then left them in the car. Oops! When we got to the front of the line, I asked him if he'd take a photo with us instead of signing for me, which he agreed to. There wasn't much time for talking, so Valarie got her book signed, and we made our way into the auditorium.

Much of what he spoke about was geared toward the youth in the audience. In fact, at the end of his talk, he only took questions from the children. Those that asked questions were probably as young as 5 and as old at 18. It was truly wonderful to see a young audience engaged in this type of talk. It gives me hope for the future of our food!!

A few key points he made in the talk really resonated with me, and I wanted to share them with you here:

1. The difference Americans make in describing hunger. For example, a French person might say, "I have hunger" and "I no longer have hunger," and ask if one "feels satisfied" after eating. An American, on the other hand, usually would say, "I am hungry" and "I am not hungry anymore" and asks "Are you full?" to indicate being done eating. This, to me, is a huge difference - can you tell why?

2. On a personal note...Growing up, my mom would post health-related comic strips on the inside of our cupboard doors. One she had up for years, which my dad still likes to quote, said: "The whiter the bread, the quicker you're dead." I was astonished when Michael Pollan used this saying in his speech, and attributed it to Jewish and Italian grandmothers! Go, Mom!

3. The importance of cultural history when it comes to our food. That our food "rules" flowed from culture, not from science. People figured out what to eat long before science got involved. This made me think of the role of fermented foods (probiotics) in cultures around the globe, and how many different diets are healthy to many different cultures. There is no ONE right way to eat!

4. And last, the importance of cooking for yourself (and your family). It is the best way to eat healthy on a budget - after all, recipes and cooking originated with peasants using scraps to feed their families. If you're looking for help on how to get started cooking for yourself, take a look at some of the recipes on this site, and post any questions you have in the comments. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Thanksgiving Recap

Top Row, L to R: Wontons, Dungeness Crab with Homemade Mayo, Seafood Chowder, Pomegranate-Mint Relish.
2nd Row: Asparagus Soup, Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows & Creamed Spinach, Latkes, Chestnut Stuffing.
3rd Row: Turkey - whole and sliced, Beef Tenderloin - whole and sliced.
Bottom Row: Maple Pecan Pie, Apples (used in applesauce), Chocolate Souffle, Salted Caramel Budino 

Whoops! I thought I'd posted this, but it turns out I didn't. Better late than never, right?

It was another amazing meal at Thanksgiving this year. The photos above show most of the things we ate, but there were a few dishes that I missed getting a picture of. My step-mom's family has this awesome tradition where everyone has to make at least one dish (appetizer, side dish, or dessert) which means that we have quite a multicultural feast in addition to all the usual Thanksgiving staples like turkey and sweet potatoes. Learning to pace ourselves throughout the meal is key, as desserts (like my step-sister's Salted Caramel Budino and my Dad's chocolate souffle) can be awesome.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Latkes at Thanksgiving

Did you catch my guest blog post for Full Circle Farms?

Check it out HERE for my favorite latke recipe. Latkes will be on our Thanksgiving table this year!

Will you be serving any Chanukah-inspired dishes at your Thanksgiving dinner this year? Let us know in the comments!