From Scratch / Vegetable Broth

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Today I have something incredibly thrilling for you…vegetable broth made from scratch from scraps. It’s the simple things that get me going. Listen, it’s hard (not impossible) to compost in the city in the Winter. Make the most of what you’ve got by cooking from root to stalk.

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Every time I chop, dice, or julienne, I resist the urge to toss the tops, bottoms, and peels. Instead I keep them to make vegetable stock, the base of all delicious winter soups. There are two schools of thought on this one : freezer fanatics and fridge aficionados. Freezing will definitely allow you to wait longer to make the broth, but will take some of the flavor out of your water rich vegetables (I am looking at you celery). Storing in the fridge with a damp towel in the bag will keep your vegetables viable for up to a week.

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Once you’ve gathered all your bits and pieces, slowly cook them with water, vegetables on the verge of going bad, herbs, spices, salt, miso, mushrooms, seaweed, etc. It’s a slow process so keep tasting and tweaking until you feel like this liquid could be the beginning of a beautiful dish.

Ingredients: 

  • Saved scraps of vegetables from your masterful meals
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Miso is a nice addition
  • Any vegetables on the verge of going bad
  • Mushrooms are always a good idea
  • Nori or dried sea vegetables add a nice mouthfeelIMG_3311

Directions:

  1. As you make your dishes throughout the week, cut scraps down into 2 inch or smaller pieces. The smaller the cut of the vegetable the more flavor you’ll be able to extract. Don’t go too small or else you won’t be able to strain it out as easily. Keep these stored in a freezer-safe ziploc bag in the freezer or in the fridge with a moist paper towel.
  2. Pick a day when you’re going to be around the house for a couple of hours. Survey the fridge for any vegetables about to go bad. Cut them up and add them to bag.
  3. Heat two tablespoons olive oil, sesame oil, or high quality grapeseed oil over medium heat in a dutch oven or a stock pot. Add the veggies and sauté until fragrant.
  4. Fill the pot with filtered water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Leave the lid off to let the liquid reduce half way. This could take anywhere between 2-4 hours. The more you let it reduce the more flavorful the stock will be. Check in and stir every so often.
  5. Drain the stock through a colander and divide into different freezer safe containers. If you’ve reduced the stock enough, you can freeze it in ice cube trays. This dense of a stock can be rehydrated with water. I usually store half the stock in the fridge and half in the freezer.

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And there you have it. I just wrote 485 words on broth.

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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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Cookies for Breakfast

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Breakfast, you tricky little devil. I always forget about you. I’m not sure what you should be or what I want you to be.  Sometimes, I have you and an hour later I need more!

The most common question people ask me (and this is when you know you’re a health counselor) is “what do YOU eat for breakfast?” Most days of the week the meal that breaks the night’s fast should be quick and easy, insanely nutritious and hopefully delicious. This is the first meal of the day, the one that sets the tone and starts the engine. On busy mornings we often want to just “pick something up” or “grab something and go,” but what is that SOMETHING!?

Let me propose a cookie. That’s right, cookies for breakfast. Everyone I introduce to the breakfast cookie falls in love. They are seduced by the simplicity of the recipe and convinced by its hunger satisfaction. The dynamic duo of protein and fiber digests slowly which prevents blood sugar spikes and energy crashes.  With 7 grams of protein, 8.5 grams of fiber and no added sugar, these little guys will keep hunger at bay.

Nutritious, simple, delicious…let me introduce you to the Breakfast Cookie.

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BREAKFAST COOKIES

Yields 8-10 servings

Ingredients/ what you’ll need

1 cup gluten-free oats

2 mashed ripe bananas, or for a low sugar option use 1 cup pumpkin puree

¼ cup coconut flakes

2 tbsp almond slivers (optionally, experiment with other nuts)

2 tbsp raisins (or any other diced dried fruit, make sure there is no sugar added)

1/8 tsp vanilla

¼ tsp cinnamon

BC2

Directions/ Keep it simple

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350
  2. Mash banana and mix in all other ingredients (that’s it)BC3
  3. Scoop 2 tbsp of cookie dough onto parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, use fingers to flatten out dough balls into a “cookie shape.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes

Want freshly baked breakfast cookies? Shape the cookies and wrap in parchment paper. Store in freezer-lock container or bag. To re-heat, bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Enjoy warm,  with a glass of almond milk!

Breakfast cookies and almond milk

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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Kitchen 101 / Yup, you can freeze that

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Okay, lets go back to the beginning. After a particularly awesome sale on organic avocados at whole foods, I purchased a few too many of my favorite source of healthy fat. Fearing they would turn from vibrant, rich, and buttery green to slimy and mushy brown I took a leap of faith and froze my avocados. I quartered one avocado, peeled it and sealed it in a freezer safe bag. The second avocado was mashed with a squeeze of lemon before it met its frosty fate.

This winter has been a particularly busy season for my freezer. Storing abundant soups, curries, tomato sauces, and recipe elements has kept the cooler half of my fridge occupied. Freezing prepared foods as well as abundant ingredients helps save you money, prevent produce waist, and makes a home cooked meal a flash in the pan.

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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)