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!