July 14, 2016

Middle Eastern Feast

Dear friends of ours are getting married this fall. I have the honor of helping coordinate the wedding feast. Because the bride grew up in Jerusalem, they are choosing a Middle Eastern theme for dinner. 

Here are some recipes from the feast, which are perfect for cooling summer heat. They will tantalize your senses and get your creative juices flowing.

Tabbouleh


You will need:
1 1/2 cups bulghur wheat*
2 cups boiling water
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
3 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups minced scallions
1 1/4 cups chopped fresh mint leaves
1 1/2 cups chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 cucumber, unpeeled and diced
3 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half

*You can substitute cooked quinoa for a gluten-free version of this salad.
Place the bulghur in a large serving bowl, pour in the boiling water, and add the lemon juice, olive oil, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Stir, then allow to stand at room temperature for about 1 hour.
Add the scallions, mint, parsley, cucumber, tomatoes, salt, and pepper.
Mix well. 

Cover and refrigerate. 
The flavor will improve if the tabbouleh marinates for a few hours.

Watermelon Mint Feta Salad


You will need:
One 8 pound (approximately) watermelon
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 limes, juiced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup fresh chopped mint leaves
1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese (goat or sheep milk feta is best)

Chop the watermelon, remove the seeds, and place in a colander to drain.
In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, fresh lime juice, salt, and black pepper to create a dressing.
Place watermelon in a large salad bowl. Pour dressing and chopped mint over the watermelon and toss gently to coat.
Crumble the feta over the top ans stir gently to incorporate all ingredients.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Israeli Salad

This salad is delicious served with feta and olives or fresh pita bread.

You will need:
3 cups Roma tomatoes, diced (about 5 tomatoes)
2 cups cucumbers, diced (about 2 cucumbers)
1 cup yellow bell pepper, diced (about 1 pepper)
1 cup Italian parsley, chopped
3 tablespoons green onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Toss together all ingredients in large bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
This salad's flavors improve when given a few hours to marinate. Prepare it mid-day to serve at dinner.
Refrigerate until ready to serve. 

July 10, 2016

Salad Summer

Summer is a wonderful time to combine fresh ingredients and minimal cooking effort to create a delicious meal. Try these salad recipes to nourish and inspire you.

Arugula, Potato and Green Bean Salad


You will need:
1/3 cup walnuts
2 pounds fingerling potatoes, chopped
1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and cut in half
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon coarse salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 packed cups arugula

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven until fragrant, about 8 minutes. Let cool slightly, then coarsely chop and set aside.

Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add potatoes, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer potatoes to a colander to drain and cool. Set aside.

Return pan of water to a boil. Add green beans, and cook until tender and bright green, about 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to the colander with the potatoes.

Whisk together vinegar, mustard and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a small bowl; season with pepper. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until emulsified. Set dressing aside.

Arrange arugula, potatoes, and green beans on a platter. Season with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Drizzle with dressing and sprinkle with toasted walnuts; toss to coat.


Parsley Cilantro Chickpea Salad


For the salad:
2 cups cooked chick peas OR one 14 ounce can chickpeas. drained
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons each: salt, black pepper, allspice, cumin, and cardamon

5 packed cups of salad greens
2 cups cucumbers, diced (about 1 cucumber)
2 cups tomatoes, diced (about 3 medium tomatoes)
1/3 cup each of fresh cilantro and Italian parsley. chopped

For the dressing:
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon each: salt and black pepper

Cook and drain the chickpeas. If cooking dried chickpeas, soak them overnight and boil them in water for 2 hours until tender.
Place them in a skillet with olive oil, salt, pepper, allspice, cumin and cardamom. Saute on medium heat for 5 minutes. 

Chop cucumbers, tomatoes, parsley and cilantro.
Wash and drain salad greens.

Remove chickpeas heat and place them in a serving bowl with all the other salad ingredients.

Whisk together the dressing ingredients. Pour over the salad, toss well, and refrigerate to marinate for at least 1 hour.
Enjoy!

June 29, 2016

Whole Food Carrot Cake

The first carrot fronds are popping out of our rich garden soil. The long summer days are hot and we give the beets and carrots some extra water to encourage their growth.

As the first tiny carrots come into the summer harvest, I give thanks with this delicious, wholesome and protein-rich carrot cake.

Try it for yourself! It happens to be vegan, gluten-free, grain-free, and sweetened only with dates.

Grain-Free Carrot Cake


You will need:
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup almonds
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup dates, pitted
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon each: cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and nutmeg
A pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups carrots, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Oil a cake pan with olive or sunflower oil.

Place all ingredients EXCEPT carrots in a food processor. Blend well.
Fold in carrots.
Smooth into cake pan and bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make coconut frosting to go on top.
Enjoy!

Coconut Butter Frosting


You will need:
1/2 cup coconut butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Place all ingredients in a small pot. Heat gently, whisking and stirring to blend.

Spread a light layer of frosting onto baked carrot cake.

With gratitude to My Whole Food Romance for this inspiration.

June 25, 2016

Sustain Your Energy! Healthy Summer Treats

During these long summer days, we can support ourselves and maintain balanced energy with healthy treats. Instead of grabbing something quick and chock full of preservatives when you are starved, pack some of these treats in your snack bag.

As always, be well and enjoy whatever you eat.

Maple Pecan Fudge


You will need:
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup almond butter
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon each: cinnamon and nutmeg
Place all ingredients in a blender and combine.

Fold in 1/2 cup pecans.
Pour into a loaf pan lined with parchment/waxed paper.

Allow the mixture to cool in the freezer or fridge into solid. Slice into small 1 inch by 1 inch squares or slices. 

Because of the coconut oil, these will melt if not kept in the fridge or freezer.

Protein Power Squares


You will need:
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 banana, mashed
1/3 cup nut butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup chocolate chips
1/4 C chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon maca (if desired)

Mix everything together. Shape into squares. Refrigerate and enjoy!


Chocolate Peanut Butter Snack Bars


You will need:
1 cup peanut butter (no sugar, organic) - substitute any nut butter you prefer
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 cup chopped almonds, cashews, or pecans
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Melt peanut butter and maple over low heat.
Once all of the mixture is all melted, add the rice and chopped nuts.

Mix all of it together and press it into a 9×13 pan.

While the rice part is cooling, melt the chocolate chips, cinnamon and vanilla over low heat. I just use the same pan for this part to save on dish washing.

Spread the chocolate chip mixture over the rice base, put in the fridge to let cool and soften.

June 19, 2016

Get Your B Vitamins!

Many kinds of B vitamins are important to human health: thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, biotin, pantothenic acid, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin B12. Each of the B vitamins has a unique and essential function:

Vitamins B6, B12, and folate: red blood cell production and nervous system health

Biotin and pantothenic acid: healthy metabolism

Niacin and thiamin: cardiovascular health and energy production

Riboflavin: production of skin cells, nails, and hair

The B vitamins are necessary cofactors in an essential cellular process called the methylation cycle. In this cycle, all three B vitamins are used to convert a potentially damaging molecule called homocysteine into the useful amino acid cysteine. When levels of these B vitamins are low, blood levels of homocysteine rise—a situation that has been shown in numerous studies to significantly increase the risk for heart disease and Alzheimer's disease.

Luckily, homocysteine levels can be kept in balance by eating a diet high in the following foods.

Whole Grains (high in B6 and B12):
brown rice
oats
kasha (toasted buckwheat groats)

Vegetables (high in folate):
spinach (also contains B6)
parsley
broccoli (also contains niacin & riboflavin)
kale (also contains niacin & riboflavin)
beets
turnip and mustard greens (also contain B6)
asparagus
romaine lettuce
bell peppers (also contain B6)

Fruit (high in B6):
banana
mango
avocado (also contains pantothenic acid)

Legumes (high in folate and niacin):
all lentils
green peas

Nuts / Seeds (high in B6, B12, folate and niacin):
almonds
walnuts
sunflower seeds

Animal Protein (high in folate, B6 and B12):
beef
chicken / beef liver (also contains biotin)
chicken (also contains niacin & riboflavin)
pastured eggs (also contain biotin, niacin & riboflavin)
wild salmon (also contains riboflavin

Be sure to include food sources of B vitamins all year round! Some of us may need supplementation of specific B vitamins. If you would like to learn about ways to tailor your dietary needs to your personal constitution, please schedule a nutritional consultation here.

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