Friday, June 29, 2012

Red, White & Blue Salad: Happy July 4th!



This salad was born from a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box last summer. It was only afterward that I realized it was a perfect red, white and blue dish! Now, many dishes you'll see for the July 4th holiday are made with artificial dyes. Who ever said it was acceptable to make a big bowl of Jell-o and call it a salad? This here is a real salad. And, even though our reds, whites and blues might not be quite as bright as the artificial stuff, they sure are a helluva lot healthier and tastier.

We start with a base of gorgeous red-leaf lettuce...


we throw in some berries and grapes and cheese and red onion...

and we get a beautiful, delicious salad. Serve it as a meal or a side dish. Just serve it!


These measurements are approximate—feel free to play around with amounts to fit your liking.

Ingredients
serves 2-4
  • 4 cups red leaf lettuce, torn
  • 1/8 cup red onion, sliced paper-thin
  • 3/4 cup blueberries
  • 3/4 cup red grapes
  • 1/4 cup bleu cheese*, crumbled (I used a Saga Blue)
  • 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • salt and pepper, to taste

*unpasteurized bleu cheese is not recommended during pregnancy.

Wash the lettuce and put in a bowl in the fridge to crisp. Cut your onions as thinly as possible; I use a mandolin to get them paper-thin.
You can see through these, they're so thin.
Add the oil, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper to a glass jar and shake vigorously; taste and adjust seasonings accordingly. By the way, I know that vinaigrette traditionally has more oil than vinegar. But I always prefer a lighter, tarter dressing. If your onion is very strong (or you just don't love raw onion), pour a bit of the dressing over the onions and let them soak for a few minutes; it'll break them down a bit and give them a milder taste.

Toss the lettuce with some of the dressing (you'll have more than you need in the jar; reserve the rest for tomorrow!) until it is lightly coated. Toss in onions. Then top with the blueberries, grapes, and crumbled cheese.

It's colorful, it's easy, it's light, it's nutritious...


 ...it's the perfect dish to serve on July 4th!


So, dig in! 


Happy Independence Day, friends!





Thursday, June 28, 2012

Red, White & Blue Antioxidant Slushie: Tea, Berries & Honey


Want to start your day off right? Want clean fuel and loads of energy? Then this low-calorie slushie for you. It's quick, it's easy and it's really, really good for you. This drink features three antioxidant powerhouses: tea, berries and honey. I've also tossed in some chia seeds, which provide omega-3s and have fantastic hydrating power: when chia seeds are put into liquid, they swell and hold on to that liquid. That means you stay hydrated longer. 

You can use any kind of tea you like. I chose an organic pomegranate white tea; its color and flavor are a nice match for the berries. White tea has the lowest caffeine content of all teas (and much less than coffee); it's a great choice for those of you who are trying to cut down on caffeine but still feel you need some to get going. I cold steeped my tea; just soak the tea bag in cold water for up to a couple of hours. You can also brew it in hot water and then just chill it for use in this recipe.
Pretty pomegranate white tea.
BONUS: If you use white tea, you can call this a red (strawberries and raspberries), white (tea), and blue (blueberries) slushie. Happy early July 4th!

Ingredients
yield: about 16 ounces
  • 1 cup of tea, cooled
  • 1 1/4-1/2 cups mixed organic frozen berries (I used blueberries, strawberries and raspberries)
  • 2tsp raw honey, or to taste
  • 2T chia seeds

Put everything in a blender. If your blender isn't very powerful, allow the berries to first thaw a little bit. Blend until smooth. Then enjoy the jewel tones, the refreshing coolness and the fabulous flavor.


I love seeing the little flecks of blueberry skins...


Want a sip?


By the way, this slushie doesn't have to be just for breakfast. In fact, I had it for dinner last night with some cheese and crackers. It was a perfectly light, refreshing meal after hours at the pool with my son.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Pasta with Garlic, Scallions, Cauliflower & Bread Crumbs


I was stuck at home all day yesterday, while we were having some work done on the house (we were getting central air conditioning installed; I can't live on cold cucumber avocado soup all summer!). Because we'd been away for a few days beforehand, we didn't really have much in the way of food. So I had to throw something together from what we had on hand. I call it "shopping your pantry." That's how this pasta dish was born.

Pasta and bread crumbs may sound a bit heavy to you. Actually, the bread crumbs are light and toasty and add a nice crunch. Plus, the cauliflower (you know I'm obsessed with this cruciferous delightlends a non-carby element to balance this summery dish. I used frozen cauliflower, but feel free to use fresh. Just cut it into small pieces, so it'll cook through in the skillet; you may have to add a bit more liquid to cook it—use your judgement.

Ingredients
yield: we got two big bowls for dinner plus one small bowl that I consumed for breakfast 
  • 1T butter
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs (I used panko)
  • about 2T grated cheese (I used romano)
  • 6-8 ounces pasta (I used linguine)
  • 1-2T extra virgin olive oil
  • about 2 cups frozen cauliflower florets, thawed, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 5-6 cloves garlic
  • 3 scallions, chopped, white and green parts separated
  • 2-3T white wine
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • couple of pinches red pepper flakes, optional

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat until foamy. Then add bread crumbs, tossing to coat in butter, until toasted and lightly browned. Remove from pan into small bowl; mix in cheese and about a tablespoon of the green scallion tops.


In the meantime, begin to prepare your pasta according to the directions on the package. While the pasta is cooking, put about a tablespoon of olive oil in the same pan you used for the bread crumbs. Over medium heat, add the garlic, whites of the scallions, and cauliflower to the skillet. Saute until the cauliflower shows some caramelization. Then add the wine until the florets are tender-crisp. Add salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.

When pasta is just shy of al dente, reserve about a cup of the cooking water and drain the pasta. Add the drained pasta to the skillet—still over medium heat—with the veggies and toss with some pasta water, as necessary (I added a little at a time; I ended up using about 1/2 cup), till the pasta is coated and turns easily. You may want to add another little drizzle of olive oil. Again, taste and season accordingly.


Put into serving bowls and top with the bread crumb mixture. Sprinkle some more scallion greens on top. 



That's it! There's cauliflower in every bite. And that's a great thing.



Do you ever "shop your pantry?"


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Chilled Cucumber Avocado Soup with Yogurt and Kefir

It is hot here in New York today. Like, super duper, crazy hot. Did I mention I don't have air conditioning at home? So, it's even hotter in my house than outside. All this uncomfortable sweatiness means that there's (1) no way I'm going to cook and (2) no way I want to eat anything that isn't cold. This quick, easy, chilled soup was perfect. I ate it for both lunch and dinner.

This soup is filled with fresh veggies; well, cukes and avocados are technically fruits, but let's not get nit-picky here, mmkay? It's also got protein- and potassium-packed yogurt and kefir, so it's very satisfying and would even be a great post-exercise recovery meal. The grapes are a secret ingredient: they add just a touch of sweetness to counterbalance all the tart ingredients. Trust me, they work in this dish. I used persian cucumbers, but you can substitute a large seedless cuke (or maybe one and a half). I think it's a pretty flexible recipe, so feel free to experiment with measurements.

Ingredients
makes about 3 1/2 cups

  • 5-6 persian cucumbers
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion 
  • 4 scallions
  • small handful of grapes
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup plain kefir (can substitute buttermilk)
  • 1/2 avocado
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Rough chop the onions, and cut the cucumbers and scallions into big chunks; everything's going into the blender, so it doesn't have to be perfectly diced, or anything. (I'm experimenting with some different photo filters, so just bear with me.)



Toss everything in the blender with the lemon juice, yogurt, and kefir. Blend until smooth.


It should be a bit watery at this point, with no chunks. This is when you add the avocado and blend again. It should now be smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with some minced onion and chopped scallion, as I did at lunchtime. Or some big, crunchy croutons (that's what I did for my dinner version).


In case you're wondering—as I did—whether the soup would change a yucky color because of the avocado...it didn't. After a few hours it still looked the same to me. That being said, if you're serving it to guests and you want to ensure that it keeps its nice, pale green color, I'd get all the ingredients (minus the avocado) ready in the blender and then throw in the avocado and blend right before serving.

By the way, this is the color of the soup in natural light, no funky filters. Pretty, right?


Friday, June 15, 2012

Raw Food Rejuvenation Teleclass

from vegan-raw-diet.com


I'll be one of the instructors for this tele-class—I'd love for you to join me! Here are all the details:


Rejuvenate with Raw Foods!

Would you like to kick off the summer with more energy and a healthier outlook?

Want to eat more real foods and fewer processed “food products?”

Would you like to have a fuller plate at every meal, while consuming fewer calories?

Then you’ll want to take this 75-minute teleclass, to be held on July 19, 2012 at 8pm EST. In it, you will learn how eating an enzyme-rich, nutrient-dense diet that focuses on raw foods may help you:
  • Strengthen your immune system
  • Discover delicious foods to energize your body
  • Regulate your appetite
  •  Improve digestion
  • Lose weight
  • Feel satiated—instead of just “stuffed”—at the end of a meal
  • Find and maintain a proper acid/alkaline balance for your body

You may be saying to yourself, “This all sounds appealing—but also kind of overwhelming.” The Rejuvenate with Raw Foods class is here to make it all easy for you. We will guide you through the fundamentals; we’ll show you how to look at your refrigerator and your meals in a whole new way! We will cover topics including (but not limited to):
  • Benefits of incorporating whole, living foods into your diet
  • Juicing
  • Stocking your pantry
  • Simple, affordable ways to add more raw foods into your diet

Invest in Your Health
Sounds good, right? You know what else sounds good? The price! This 75-minute teleclass—led by two experienced health coaches who are certified through the American Association of Drugless Practitioners—costs just $15. And if you’re really excited and you sign up before July 9, you’ll pay only $10.

If you want to take the class, but you just can’t imagine fitting it into your crazy busy schedule, there’s no need to worry: the class will be recorded and sent to all participants. So, you can put the kids to bed and listen to the recording of the class at your leisure. We want to make this as easy as possible for you!
  
Fantastic Goodies for all Participants
Not only will you leave the class with loads of practical information, you’ll also receive some special gifts via email:
  • Simple, family-friendly recipes developed by Justine, who was recently named one of the Top 25 Foodie Moms by Circle of Moms; the recipes you’ll get will be exclusive to class participants and will not be found on the Full Belly Sisters blog
  • Guided meditation recording to provide self-care and to support your healthy lifestyle, led by Misia, who is an experienced Reiki healer and has taught yoga around the world.
  • Raw Pantry Essentials List so that you can have items on hand for all your new raw food adventures!

Still not sure if this class is for you? We get it—change can be scary! But if you are ready to feel revitalized, ready to stop starving yourself, ready to make time to put amazing fuel in your body…then you’re ready for this class. Sign up today.
Class details:
Thursday, July 19
8pm EST
register here
*upon registration, participants will receive a call-in phone number and PIN*


About your Instructors:
  
Justine Fontinell, Certified Health Coach, AADP
Justine is a co-founder of Full Belly Sisters, a unique health venture for women before, during and after pregnancy, and well into parenthood. Justine leads FBS’ nutrition and wellness programs, helping women to support a healthy pregnancy, boost milk supply during breastfeeding, or finally lose that baby weight. Justine works with all of her clients on cutting out processed junk and introducing more whole foods. This class is a perfect fit with that philosophy.

“Don’t worry if you’re not a raw foodist—neither am I!” says Justine. “You don’t have to exclusively eat raw foods to reap the amazing benefits. But there is tremendous value in incorporating more raw foods into your diet. Through this class, I will teach you how to make room in your kitchen, your schedule, and your budget so you can get more raw foods on your plate and in your belly.” 


Misia Denéa, Certified Health Coach, AADP
Misia "Mimi" Denéa    has a B.F.A. from Esther Boyer College of Music and Dance at Temple University in Philadelphia. Mimi also is a graduate of New York’s Institute of Integrative Nutrition and is a Certified Holistic Health Practitioner and a graduate of the Raw Food Institute. Her Yoga Classes are a vigorous vinyasa style, with a focus on flow, prana, rhythm and mindfulness.She has taught yoga through out the US and Abroad, at conferences, Universities , to homeless individuals, to HIV positive adults and has journeyed to Belize and India to teach/practice yoga.
 
  Mimi also teaches Yoga for Corporate Wellness, Yoga for Women who are curvy and sumptuous. If you are interested in hiring Mimi for holistic health and nutrition courses/retreats for groups and individuals who want to overcome emotional eating/overeating visit her website.



Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Smoothie - and, yes, it's RAW!




Friday, June 8, 2012

Cantaloupe Salad with Bacon and Garlic Scapes


I like bacon as much as the next omnivore. Or, maybe not. All these t-shirts and bumper stickers I see proclaiming that "Everything tastes better with bacon" just don't speak to me. I never understood bacon on a steak or a burger; I don't need to add a bacon-topped donut to my food repertoire. To my taste buds, bacon works best when paired with something fresh and juicy—like in a BLT, surrounded by loads of lettuce and tomato and (if I'm lucky) avocado.

But lettuce and tomatoes aren't the only fresh and juicy foods around. In this dish, I've paired bacon with some ripe cantaloupe. I was inspired by the prosciutto e melone that I adore (especially when consumed in a restaurant in Rome!). This recipe uses a lot less meat, but keeps all that sweet-and-savory deliciousness.

In fact, that's one thing that I do really appreciate about bacon: a little goes a long way. So you can add some wonderful flavor and crunch, using just a bit of the meat.

Ingredients
serves 4-6 as a side dish
  • large cantaloupe, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 3 slices bacon (I used this organic bacon)
  • 1/4-1/3 cup chopped garlic scapes
  • 1/2 large lemon
  • salt and pepper, to taste (optional)

This dish couldn't be easier. Cook your bacon until it's very crisp; drain on a paper towel. Add the chopped scapes to the hot fat and cook just until tender and a bit caramelized (a couple of minutes or so); remove with a slotted spoon. 


Put the melon in a large serving bowl. Crumble the bacon and sprinkle it and the scapes atop the melon. Squeeze lemon juice over everything. If you like, add a bit of salt and pepper. 


Then just dig into this salty/sweet, cooked/raw, hot/cold, soft/crunchy, yin/yang of a dish! 


We served this as a side at a casual barbecue we had...it was a nice balance to the heavier, hotter dishes. Plus, it added a nice brightness to everybody's plates!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Grilled Peach Melba with Vanilla Bean Frozen Yogurt



Summer really seemed to sneak up on me this year. But it's here and that means a few things: fresh fruit is delicious and affordable, everyone is readying their grills, and frozen desserts are a great way to stay cool on hot days.


All of those things led me to make this new and nutritionally-improved version of the classic Peach Melba. Nearly all recipes I've seen for it include piles of sugar; I think too much sugar gets in the way of the fruits' gorgeous natural flavors. My version uses honey (and not a whole lot), which provides sweetness as well as some nutritional benefits; I grill the peaches, to caramelize their natural sugars and highlight their sweet taste; I've also swapped out the traditional vanilla ice cream for lightly-sweetened frozen Greek yogurt—it's creamy and delicious and packed with probiotics and protein!




As we've discussed previously, peaches are a good source of vitamins A and C, as well as potassium and fiber. Speaking of fiber, raspberries are an amazing source—there are eight grams in just one cup of the vibrant berries! So, next time you're tempted to eat a super-processed Fiber One bar, reach for a bowl of raspberries instead. Anyhoo, back to the Grilled Peach Melba...


Ingredients
serves 4
  • 3 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 vanilla bean

  • 1 1/2 cups raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 T honey
  • 2 tsp 100% raspberry fruit spread

  • 2 large peaches, quartered
  • coconut oil for grilling


    Put the yogurt into a bowl. Slice open the vanilla pod and scrape the seeds onto the yogurt.




    We interrupt this regularly-scheduled blogpost to remind you not to throw out that empty pod! Toss it in a jar with your sugar to make vanilla sugar, for use in all sorts of baking recipes...


    OK, back to the yogurt. Add the honey and mix to combine all ingredients.  



    Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions.
    Look at those lovely flecks of vanilla bean!

    While your fro-yo is churning away, put your raspberries, honey and preserves in a small saucepan. Simmer on low for about 7-10 minutes, stirring a couple of times until the fruit has broken down and is well combined with the jam and honey. Remove from the heat and let cool until the mixture thickens.

    Brush the fleshy sides (not the skin) of each peach with some coconut oil. Place on a medium-low grill—indoor or outdoor—for a couple of minutes on each side (again, only the flesh, not the skin). You should have some nice grill marks on the peaches.



    Then you just need to assemble the desserts: divide the yogurt equally among your bowls or plates, top each with two peach quarters, and drizzle raspberry sauce over the whole thing! (If you have any leftover tart-sweet raspberry sauce, try it on waffles or mixed into yogurt or smoothies.)






    Although it's quite simple, it is a sort of fancy-looking dessert that could be served at a nice dinner party. But it's also fresh and bright enough to just call a sundae; let the kids help assemble them and the whole family can dig in. The perfect ending to a day of chillin' at a backyard barbecue.


    Don't have an ice cream maker? You can serve it with the un-frozen yogurt—it is equally creamy and luscious. It makes for a nice breakfast. I can attest to that because I had it for breakfast yesterday!






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