Recipe / Braised Kale + Roasted Chickpeas

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Rich, creamy braised greens and tahini meet their perfect partner with crunchy, smoky roasted chickpeas. I’ve been totally crushing on chickpeas this month. Some evenings i’ll casually leave a cup of dried garbanzos soaking. Some mornings I just wake up, open a can and see what happens next. It’s just me and you,  fiber-rich, protein-packed little legumes. What will this day bring us? (hint: better blood sugar regulation and lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol)

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It’s definitely been a good year for kale and at the brink of over-exposure, it still rules as one of the most versatile and reliable greens. It’s hearty enough to be the star of the entrée and healthy enough to play a supporting role. Keep greens interesting by switching up your cooking technique and finding inspiration from classic flavor pairings. Tahini and chickpeas (humus anyone?) are old friends, a great place to start a beautiful dish.

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Think about braising as a day at the spa for your favorite superfood. At the end of the day, your kale will still be vibrant green, relaxed, and ready to give you all it has to offer. Relying on heat and moisture, braising is the middle ground between sautéeing and steaming. Be careful not to overcook your greens, too much heat for too long and you’ll lose nutrients and end up a with lifeless mushy mess.

Ingredients / you might already have these on hand

2 bunches of kale – 1 lacinato and 1 tuscan

1 yellow onion

5 cloves of garlic

juice of 1 lemon (no more than 3 tbsp)

1/4 cup tahini

1 can or 2 cups cooked organic chickpeas

1 tbsp smoked paprika, pimenton la vera

1 tsp cumin

3 tbsp olive oil or high quality grapeseed oil

 

Directions : Easy as 1-2-3-4

Part One : Roasting the Chickpeas

1. Preheat oven to 400 F

2. Drain and rinse one 16 oz can of organic chickpeas. Toss with 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp pimenton de la vera (a smoky spanish paprika), 1 tsp cumin. Thoroughly coat the chickpeas adding more pimenton if necessary.

3. Line a cookie sheet with parchment and roast chickpeas for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.  They should be crunchy but not blackened.

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Part Two: Braising the Kale

1.  Wash and de-stem kale. Hold the base of the kale stem and run your fingers along the spine to easily remove leaves. Lay leaves flat and chop. I used a bunch of lacinato kale and a bunch of curly kale to create a more dynamic flavor and consistency.

2. Dice onions and thinly slice garlic.

3. In a cast iron skillet or a dutch oven, warm olive oil or high quality grapeseed oil. Add in onions and garlic. Sweat out until translucent, about one minute.

4. Add in kale. Sautée for a minute or two allowing all of the leaves to get contact with the heat momentarily. You might have to do this in increments if your pot is not very large. Season with salt, pepper or red chili flakes.

5. Add in vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer immediately.  Cover and let simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

6. Remove lid and let any remaining liquid steam off. About 3 minutes.

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Part 3 : Making the Dressing

1. Combine lemon juice and tahini. There should be slightly more tahini than lemon juice or else it taste too acidic. Experiment, taste, and trust your palate to create the perfect balance. 

2. Whisk together until creamy. You might need to add a little water or sesame oil to get it to your ideal consistency. Finish with a few turns of  a salt mill.

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Part 4 : Creating the Dish 

1. Toss braised kale with spoonfuls of dressing. Combine well and add in more until desired creaminess is reached.

3. Serve in individual bowls topped with crunchy chickpeas. Don’t toss the chickpeas with the kale too much, you want to keep their crunchiness. Creamy and crunchy together at last.

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From Scratch / Wild Rice + Mushroom Ricausso

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Ri·CAU·sso 

: A dish so good I had to make up a word to describe it.

: A deliciously creamy way to make a simple, dairy-free risotto using whole grain rice.

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What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of risotto? Cream, butter, cheese, a sore wrist (from stirring, c’mon)? With RiCAUsso, roasted and whipped CAUliflower mimics the rich texture of slow cooked starchy aroborio-based risotto. It’s a shortcut of sorts, but it allows you to use wild rice which is high in protein, calcium, vitamin A and iron. This means you get all the good-for-you without sacrificing the good-flavor-mmm.

RiCAUsso was inspired by an evening in the woods with only cauliflower, wild rice, mushrooms and a bottle of white wine at our disposal. Culinary inspiration often comes from limitations. A cold night upstate with good friends and only a few ingredients available had me craving rich, rustic and warm.

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Comfort food warms you in the moment with it’s fatty, creamy texture but often leaves you feeling a little uncomfortable in the morning.  By substituting difficult to digest dairy for fiber and antioxidant-rich cauliflower, RiCAUsso is a healthier way to feel warm and cozy from the inside out. 

Ingredients/You only need these

1 head of cauliflower

4 cloves garlic

3 cups mushrooms, sliced (I used cremini)

3-4 sprigs of fresh or freshly dried thyme

1 cup uncooked wild rice, about 3 cups cooked

1 medium yellow onion

1 small shallot

fresh thyme

white wine (optional)

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Directions/Easier than it looks

1. Preheat oven to 400.

2. Prepare the wild rice by bringing 1 cup rice and 3 cups filtered water to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer until rice is tender but not chewy. This will take anywhere from 40-50 minutes depending on how wild your rice gets.

3. Break cauliflower head down into florets. Wash and toss with 2 tbsp olive oil and 2 tsp sea salt. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and spread florets out in one layer. Roast for 30 minutes or until soft and browned. Stir occasionally so the cauliflower roasts evenly.

4. As the rice and cauliflower are cooking,  slice mushrooms, onions, shallot and garlic. Warm about 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Sautée onions, shallots and garlic until translucent. Add in mushrooms and a pinch of sea salt, sautée until the mushrooms release their moisture (about 2 minutes). Cook for about 5-8 more minute stirring occasionally, or until all moisture has evaporated and the mushrooms are reddish-brown. Add in thyme and white wine, stir for 30 seconds more.

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5. Once the cauliflower is finished roasting, let it cool slightly and transfer to a blender or food processor. Slowly add in 1/4 cup increments of filtered water or vegetable broth and pulse until creamy. I ended up using about 2 cups of water, but this could vary depending on the cauliflower. Add salt and black pepper to taste.

6. Once the rice is finished cooking, drain out any excess water. Add mushrooms and creamy cauliflower to the pot and mix until well incorporated. It should become a rich, thick pot of goodness in a matter of seconds. Add more thyme, salt, pepper or white wine to taste. I like to have my vegetable to grain ratio be about 50/5 0, although the more vegetables the merrier.

7. Serve with a fresh, green salad and some good friends. If you don’t have any good friends nearby, share this dish with a handsome stranger and you’ll be friends in no time.

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Breakfast is Served / Overnight Oats

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Imagine waking up to fresh cooked, deliciously creamy oatmeal. Imagine after you empty the pot with the final scoop of that nourishing, energizing and warming meal you don’t even have to scrub the bottom of the pot. No, you aren’t still dreaming. No, you haven’t hired a private chef. You’ve just cooked breakfast in your sleep.

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At the risk of sounding boastful, overnight oats are one of the best things I’ve made for myself. They take one minute of waking time to make AND they slide right out of the pot (anybody who has ever made steel cut oats knows that the clean up is killer). Oh yeah, and they also provide just the right balance of low-gi carbohydrates, fiber and protein to keep you feeling energized and comforted all the way to lunch. Choose steel cut oats as they are the whole grain groat, the inner portion of the oat kernel, which have been cut into two or three pieces rather than flattened.

After reading this please rid yourself of those quick cooking oat packets. That nonsense is highly processed and filled with sugar. Overnight oats are a heart-healthy, cholesterol controlling whole grain. Imagine them as a blank canvas for your day. Feeling sweet or savory? Feeling like a nut? Add eggs or nuts for additional protein. Add tomatoes or berries for free-radical fighting antioxidants.

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All you have to do is remember to set the stage before bed and when you wake up in the morning, you can pretend your personal chef is planning on giving you a healthy, happy heart this year.

Directions / Keep it simple 

1. Mix 1 part steel cut oats with 3 parts boiling water.

2. Add a pinch of salt. Stir and let boil for one minute.

3. Turn off heat, cover pot. Walk away. Get some sleep.

4. Wake up! Turn heat on low, add a splash of water or fresh almond milk, or half a mashed banana. Stir until warm.

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Now it’s time to get creative with toppings! Take yourself to the tropics with  a mix of toasted coconut flakes, toasted walnuts and mashed bananas. Brighten up your day with the sweet flavors of fresh red raspberries, toasted almond slivers and a dusting of lemon zest.

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Now go ahead, dig in and take on the world.

From Scratch / Kale Pesto Vol. 1

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Why hello there sexy, vibrant greens! Smooth and creamy, rich and light, this pesto gets around. It’s delicious versatility is matched only by it’s abundance of nutrients. The trick is to add in (some might say, sneak in) greens like creamy steamed broccoli and earthy, bold kale. Approach is key, by steaming the broccoli and kale you can create a rich and fluffy texture that eliminates the need for excess amounts of high- fat and calorie-dense oil and cheese.

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Rich in calcium as well as fiber and protein (that’s right there is protein in vegetables!)  kale and broccoli add something special to the classic pesto. Health-hero Walnuts add protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and zinc to the mix.  Let’s not forget the foundation of flavor, Basil. High in vitamin K ( your bones best friend), Basil is much more than a garnish.

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LEAN GREEN KALE PESTO

Ingredients / what you’ll need

1 cup Raw Walnuts

1 cup Basil packed, destemmed

1 cup Broccoli florets

1 cup Kale, destemmed

2 medium Garlic Cloves

1/2 Lemon, juiced

2 tsp Celtic Sea Salt

Black Pepper, to taste

1/4 cup cold pressed Olive Oil

Directions / fresh and easy

1. Chop broccoli and kale. Bring water to boil and steam until veggies become vibrant green, about 3 minutes with lid on.

2. Chop walnuts and garlic. Pulse in a food processor with olive oil.

3. Add steamed kale and broccoli, chopped basil leaves, and lemon juice to food processor. Pulse until smooth.

4. Add water incrementally until desired consistency is reached.

5. Add salt, pepper and honey to taste.

This recipe is simple enough to whip up for quick Quinoa Pasta & Veggie dinner and tasty enough to impress your guests with a pesto Socca Flatbread. It’s delicious as a spread, a dip or a dressing.  Enjoy!

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From Scratch / Almond Milk

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Let’s get one thing straight, I love almond milk.

Maybe you like almond milk. Maybe you drink it in your tea (or coffee), but you’ve never truly loved until you’ve made it yourself.

It’s rich and creamy. It’s a little sweet and nutty.

It’s packed with protein, vitamin E, magnesium, potassium and iron. It’s good for your heart, skin, bones and muscles.

And, to seal the deal – it’s unbelievably easy.

I, too, resisted making it at home. I hesitated and stalled. Then one night, I just poured some water over a cup of raw almonds and the rest was history.

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Ingredients/what you’ll need

yields 3.5 cups

Nut milk bag or turkey stuffing bag or cheese cloth

1 cup raw almonds, soaked

3.5 cups water

2-4 raw dates, I prefer less sweet and stick with 2

1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch salt

AM3

(dreamy)

AM2

(creamy)

Directions/see how easy it is

1. Before bed, or at least two hours before you press play on your blender, submerge 1 cup raw almonds in fresh filtered water.

2. Drain and rinse almonds.

3. Add soaked almonds, 3.5 cups filtered water, two dates, cinnamon and vanilla to blender.

4. Blend! Blend slowly, increasing from low speed to high speed until nuts are completely broken down.

5. Pour mixture through nut milk bag/turkey basting bag/cheesecloth. I used a turkey basting bag here and my french press liner to make less of a mess. I like to use a big bowl and then do about 2 turns of pouring, then gently squeeze to release the rest of the milk.

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6. Pour into an adorable jar and keep in the fridge for up to seven days.

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Take the Meditation Challenge

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Starting March 11th, I’ll be accepting a challenge to meditate for 21 days in a row. Oprah and Deepak Chopra will also be there guiding me through the 3 weeks of reflection and mindful moments. A friend of mine made me aware of this awesome opportunity to get myself back into the meditation habit. The thing is, her brother told her about. Then a colleague from school brought it up. Then another friend said she was participating. And then another, and another, and another. At this point, it’s become clear to me that you should participate as well!

Meditation is a technique used to reduce stress, anxiety, manage depression and find motivation. Studies have shown that with regular meditation practice we can decrease our blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, use oxygen more efficiently and increase the anti-aging hormone DHEA. Personally, I have benefited from meditation with more restful sleep, increased energy, and ability to manage stressful situations. Perfect Health is the theme of this aptly named introduction to meditation.

Beginning to meditate can seem like a difficult task. Most people don’t know where to start or how to stop and be still. Guided meditations are a great introduction to this transformational practice.


It will be even easier to commit knowing my friends (including Oprah) will be right there with me.

Click here to sign up! 

From Scratch / Raw Sundried Tomato Basil Cashew Cheese

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Recently my favorite wellness studio Sapere had a fabulous party complete with group accupuncture, vinho verde and delicious snacks. As their resident health coach, I felt this would be a fun opportunity to wow people with my winning  combo of delicious + nutritious + easy.

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I have been making baked sweet potato chips recently and wanted to venture into raw vegetable snacks. The recipe is as simple as “cut vegetables thin, really thin.” Easy, right? If you have a mandolin, even easier. I opted for carrots this time around – using the thicker end to make a perfect little “chip.” The secret to having a fancy raw vegetable snack is in the cut.

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Adventures in Green Smoothies

Sunwarrior Smoothie 1This morning before my workout, I decided to add a protein boost to my Green Smoothie. I love Sunwarrior because it is a raw, vegan source of easily absorbed protein (bonus: it doesn’t have a weird powder taste or consistency). The warrior blend has a complete amino acid profile and 17 grams of protein per scoop! I add it to my smoothies when I want to feel energized for a work-out, or have a more sustained feeling of fullness. I also like to add some powerful omega-3s to my smoothies with a scoop of ground flax seeds. Rich in lignan fiber, and essential fatty acids, flax seeds promote healthy digestion and fight inflammation!

Blend, Drink, and Feel POWERFUL! 

  • 1 scoop Sunwarrior Warrior Blend
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
  • 1 giant handful organic baby spinach
  • 3/4 cup frozen organic mixed berries
  • 1 dash cinnamon
  • 1 cup filtered water (you can use more or less depending on your desired consistency)

					

Live your hustle, find your glow.

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For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated with nutrition. Growing up in a vegetarian household gave me the platform to explore different nutrition theories. I’m curious by nature so I ate information up faster than a bag of kale chips. In the past couple years, I’ve taken it a step further and become a health counselor. Health counseling has given me the knowledge and experience to help YOU take the guess work out of living a nourished life.

Nutrition and healthy living are my passion. Today, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with our busy lifestyle, the day-to-day hustle. I’m not only a health counselor, I’m a photographer, a writer, a comedienne, a fitness-lover, a traveler, a friend, a laundry-doer, you get the gist! My schedule is full and I like it that way. Unfortunately, a full schedule can make it tough at times to make the best choices for my health…or so I thought.

What I hope to accomplish with this blog is to share the very best information on how to live a clean, energized, glowing life with YOU.   Soon, you will discover how easy it is to eat well, use natural products, and find the time to nourish yourself.

So, follow me for email updates or stop by when you’re feeling hungry for healthy inspiration.