Raw Okra Salad

Raw Okra
There’s a lot of chopping to this salad, I’ll say that up front. And yes, chopping vegetables can be time consuming. The plus side is that this dish is 100% raw, so no need to wait for the oven to heat up and the food to cook.

The salad calls for a lot of creativity – use what’s in season, what looks fresh, and what you can find organically. The rest is basically a personal art creation or kitchen experiment that can’t go wrong.

Suggested ingredients:
-Okra (2-3 cups, chopped)
-1 Heirloom tomato
-1 onion
-Celery ( a few stalks)
-Cauliflower (2-3 cups, chopped)
-Yellow pepper

-Garlic powder
-Lemon juice (1 fresh lemon)
-Red pepper flakes
-Black pepper

Chop all of the vegetables and combine in a bowl. Mix well. Squeeze lemon juice on top. Add a bit of black pepper, garlic powder, and some red pepper flakes. No oil needed and absolutely no animal products used. Easy!

Nutritionally, the okra and cauliflower bring a lot to this dish. Okra is high in dietary fiber, vitamins A, C, and K. Okra also contains B-complex vitamins. Cauliflower delivers a healthy dose of vitamin C, K, and folate. It’s also a good source of vitamin B6.

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Simple Beet + Black Eyed Peas Salad

When having non-vegans over for dinner, sometimes I feel the need to overcompensate for the lack of meat that I’ll have on the table. Perhaps a hang up from my meat & potato-filled youth, I’m always pleasantly surprised when friends and family don’t bat an eye lash at the “lack” of meat … rather they see the bounty of everything else. I love that.

I mixed together this really simple side dish to accompany a larger meal with friends the other night. I had the “where’s the protein/iron” moment before guests arrived and thus created this salad on the spot as beets and black eyed peas are both decent sources of iron. It was a last minute idea, and turned out really well.

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Ingredients:

-1 can of organic black eyed peas (if you have time, you could opt for dry beans)
–  ¼  red onion
– 1 yellow pepper
– 1-2 fresh beets

For the dressing:
– 1 lemon
– 6 Tbsp olive oil
– salt and pepper to taste

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Heat your oven to 400 F to cook the beet(s). Simply spear the beets with a fork – as you would a potato. Place in aluminum foil and put it in the oven for 45 minutes – 1 hour depending on the intensity of your oven.

While the beets are cooking, prepare the other vegetables and the dressing.

For the dressing, juice 1 lemon and whisk together well with the olive oil. Add a generous amount of fresh black pepper and salt (less generous) to taste.

Rinse the black eyed peas really well and set aside. Dice ¼ to ½ of the red onion and the yellow pepper into small pieces.

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When the beets are ready, remove from the oven and dice these as well. Add the vegetable ingredients to a bowl and mix well. Slowly add the dressing and continue to mix well. If you have time, allow this salad to sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before eating.

black eyed pea

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Simple detox salad

kale4It’s the weekend. Time to recharge! Although committing to an actual detox program over the weekend can be difficult, I love incorporating cleansing foods and drinks into that well-deserved 2-day break when I can.

Farmer’s markets burst at the seams with the variety of produce that becomes available in the spring – and it’s a great time to pause and become a little more conscious about what we’re putting into our bodies.

It matters.

Try incorporating an easy detox salad like this one into your weekend plans (sure, after a late night of too many cocktails with friends …no one’s judging.)

For this recipe, I used lacinato kale and dandelion greens for the bulk of this salad. If the flavor is too strong, you could try incorporating romaine lettuce as well.kale1Ingredients:

  • ½ avocado
  • Kale (I used lacinato kale)
  • Dandelion greens (purple or green)
  • 1 Tbsp. paprika
  • Lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Sugar snap peas

Wash the kale leaves and cut the avocado in half. Wash the dandelion leaves and sugar snap peas – cut into bite size pieces and set aside in the mixing bowl.

The next step may not be pretty, but it’s delicious. Scoop out a few tablespoons of avocado meat and massage the flesh into the kale. The kale will absorb the oils from the avocado flesh and make it really tender.kale7kale2Slice the kale into slivers and add this to the mixing bowl, accompanying the dandelion greens and peas.

For the dressing: Halve a lemon and squeeze the juice into a mixing bowl. Add a generous tablespoon of paprika and mix together.kale3Drizzle the dressing onto the greens and mix well. Add a bit of fresh cracked black pepper and serve.kale5Ingredient notes:

Dandelion greens have a very sharp flavor, and are frankly pretty bitter. I recommend using only a couple leaves in this salad. If you’re looking for a way to incorporate more dandelion greens into your diet, try blanching or sautéing (with olive oil, garlic, and lemon). It’s worth looking for ways to add this spring food to your diet regime – dandelion greens are incredibly high in vitamin K and calcium and help to purify the blood.

Lacinato kale can be sautéed, steamed, or consumed raw. It’s an excellent source of vitamin A, K, and C. Kale is a solid source of calcium, iron and fiber as well. When buying kale, look for very deeply colored green or purple leaves with firm stems. Buy organic when you can, as pesticides used while growing kale are certainly absorbed into the leaves and will be ingested (think about how the kale leaves absorb the oil of the avocado and the dressing in this recipe).

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Walnut-Crimini Pâté

Cheese2These days … I’m into vegan pâté, homemade vegan cheese, and anything that’s spreadable and dairy/gluten free. Surprisingly, there are a ton of delicious options that can be born out of mixing some combo of nuts, mushrooms, and a liquid (oil, tamari sauce) in a food processor.

I was first introduced to this pâté by a friend who was on an intense 2-week raw/vegan/juicing cleanse (the same cleanse I successfully followed for two days …. 2 whole days ….). Despite my inability to stick it out for a couple of weeks, I was able to take away a pretty hearty recipe that checked the boxes of being both raw, vegan, and very savory.Cheese1Non-vegans, fear not – this is a spread I bet you can get behind. It was inspired by this porcini-and-pecan pâté. Frankly – there are a couple too many ingredients and steps in the original recipe, so I improvised based on the ingredients and time I had on hand. The recipe I’m sharing below is a version that is easier to make, but still very tasty.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw walnuts
  • ½ lb organic crimini mushrooms (about 10-15 ‘shrooms)
  • 2 Tbsp tamari
  • ½ Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • ½ Tbsp. lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
  • A few basil leaves
  • 1 Tsp miso paste

Remove the “trunk” from the mushrooms and wash the caps. Dry the mushrooms and chop roughly.

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Add the walnuts and mushrooms to the food processer.

In a bowl – whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, miso paste, tamari, and nutritional yeast. Add slowly to the food processor. Pulse until all of the ingredients are blended together and pretty smooth.

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If the mixture becomes too thick for the food processor, feel free to add a little bit of water. The key is a little bit. The mushrooms hold some water, and the end result could become too watery if you’re not careful.

Serving suggestion: top with some fresh cracked black pepper, and serve with a generous pour of red wine. Here, I spread the pâté on a fresh baguette to serve to friends, but usually eat it on gluten free crackers (like these).

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Ingredient notes

  • Nutritional yeast – You can find this in the bulk section at Whole Foods or at other specialty/organic grocery stores. The brand that I used here is Red Star Vegetarian Support Formula. It’s a nice source of vitamin B12, and unlike some other brands contains no whey (an animal product)
  • Tamari – You can find this in the same aisle as soy sauce and marinades. It’s similar to soy sauce, but is gluten free as it doesn’t contain any wheat (soy sauce does). I picked up a low sodium version after I looked at the label of the regular version and realized it had 900+ mg of sodium … for one serving!
  • Miso paste – You can find miso paste at Asian grocery stores or in most grocery stores. Opt for an organic, GMO free version if you can. I usually buy the light or brown miso paste as opposed to the red. For this recipe, I think the light miso paste is best.
  • Crimini mushrooms – If you can’t find crimini mushrooms, you could substitute Portobello or baby bella instead. I wouldn’t recommend white mushrooms for this recipe.
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Cucumber & Salmon Salad

salmon3The main theme of multiple recipes from here on out is going to be the following:

  1. Healthy (always #1 on my list)
  2. Urban-kitchen-friendly (read: small kitchen)
  3. Low maintenance (just like me!)

Ok, my boyfriend pointed out the slight lie inherent in #3, so we’ll skip past that for now. This recipe certainly checks the first two boxes on this list. By my count, the fresh, raw vegetables in this meal coupled with the salmon (high in selenium, omega-3’s, and B vitamins) make this one of the healthiest (and easiest) lunches to prepare.

The high maintenance factor comes in when I stand in front of the fish counter and debate for a solid 5 minutes which type of salmon to buy. I’m sure it’s annoying to people standing behind me, and it’s definitely a test in patience for whoever I’m shopping with. I get that. But there are a lot of factors to take into account when buying fish. There are the usual considerations – price, quantity, freshness, etc. And then there are the other factors – place of origin, wild caught vs. farm raised, organic vs. natural. And frankly, it’s overwhelming.

Recently, I’ve come out of that internal debate buying wild caught (often previously frozen) salmon. If you’re unsure about wild caught vs. farm raised, read about antibiotic use and lice in fish farming operations. Frankly, it’s enough to make me never want to eat fish again. But alas, the health benefits overpower my squeamishness and at this point, I’ve decided that wild caught is a good option for me.

Now to the recipe – Here’s what you’ll need for 1 serving:

  •  Smoked Coho Salmon
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1 cup snap peas
  • 1/4 cup red onion

Dressing:

  •  1 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp mustard
  • 4-5 Tbsp. olive oil
  • fresh cracked peppersalmon5

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  • After washing the vegetables, dice the cucumber, snap the pea pods in half, and finely chop the onion. (If you want to add more vegetables, try tossing in some spinach or edamame, or add some almonds for calcium)
  • In a separate bowl: Juice the lemon, add the olive oil, include the mustard and whisk together.
  • Arrange the vegetables on a plate, and add the sliced Coho-salmon. Drizzle the dressing on top and finish with fresh cracked pepper.

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See? Easy.

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If you’re interested in the topic of sustainable and healthy fish options, there are a couple great books and some well observed articles that have been published recently.

Here are a few that come to mind:

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Drink up!

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With another epic snowstorm on the horizon for much of the East Coast, you may be tempted to overdose on hot chocolate (or hot toddies). And if you did just that, I would be the last person on earth to judge those life decisions!

However, if you’re looking for a warm and nutrient-dense alternative to a sugary hot chocolate or a boozy hot toddy, try making a mug of this sweet & spicy turmeric and ginger drink. The main ingredients bring a ton of flavor and also boast detoxifying and anti-inflammatory powers.

In addition to the ingredients, you really just need small pot, a stove that works, and a mug for this earthy drink.

Hot Almond Milk with Turmeric and Ginger

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 1 ½ cups almond milk
  • Heaping tsp of honey (see my previous note on organic honey)
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp freshly shaved ginger
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract

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Start by heating the almond milk on the stove top over medium heat. Dissolve the honey into the warm liquid and then add the turmeric powder. Stir until it dissolves.

Avoid bringing the almond milk to a rapid boil as it will cause the milk to burn. On the side, grate 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger. Add this to the mixture as well, followed by a bit of vanilla extract. Garnish with cinnamon or nutmeg.

Making this drink really doesn’t take that much longer than opening a packet of pre-mixed hot chocolate. And, it’s much healthier!

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Citrus Quinoa Salad

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In the dead of winter (insert here: bitter temps, lack of sunlight, and the urge to hibernate), this dish is a sweet reminder of those warmer, summer days. The scent of the coconut oil fused with the zing of citrus will temporarily make you forget about the Arctic chill.  Apparently, taking a whiff of coconut oil can alleviate stress and lower your blood pressure. On top of that, coconut oil’s antiviral and antibacterial properties make this a great immunity-boosting addition to most diets, especially during this time of year.

Eating fresh, whole foods stacked with vitamins and minerals (B vitamins and magnesium, for example) may positively impact mood. The quinoa and lentils are a good source of complex carbs (linked to the production of the feel-good brain chemical, serotonin), protein, and fiber so this animal-free dish is also satiating and mood lifting.

Overall, this recipe is pretty simple. If you multi-task (mix up the dressing while the quinoa and lentils are cooking), it’s not time consuming.  Here’s what you’ll need -

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Ingredients:

  • Quinoa
  • Red Lentils
  • Broccoli
  • Micro greens
  • Coconut oil
  • Sesame seeds (optional)
    Citrus dressing
  • Juice from one orange
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Salt/pepper
  • 3 scallions
  • Handful of parsley

In a sauce pan, boil 2 cups of water. Add 1 cup of quinoa. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the quinoa grains split and the water is absorbed.

In another sauce pan, boil 2 cups of water and add 1 cup of lentils. Turn the heat down to simmer, and cook uncovered for about 20 minutes.

When the lentils and quinoa are cooked, remove both pans from heat and set aside.

Heat a generous amount of coconut oil in a pan; add 1 chopped scallion and small pieces of broccoli. Stir to evenly coat with oil and heat, sautéing for 5 minutes.

For the dressing: Juice 1 orange and 1 lemon. Finely chop garlic and add to the citrus juice. Add oil, salt, and freshly cracked black pepper to the juice mixture. Whisk well. Finally, add chopped parsley and scallions. Mix well.

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Combine the lentils, quinoa, and cooked broccoli in a medium sized bowl. Add freshly washed micro greens. Pour the dressing on top, mix well, and serve. Serve slightly warm and top with sesame seeds.

Note on micro greens – Most grocery stores will sell some sort of organic micro greens, though a local organic grocery store will definitely sell them. If you’re thinking of skipping the micro greens step, I’d encourage you not to. It adds a different layer of freshness and extra vitamins. For more info on micro greens, take a look at this vintage NPR piece: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/08/29/160274163/introducing-microgreens-younger-and-maybe-more-nutritious-vegetables

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