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September 15, 2017

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

By mid-September we’ve all had plenty of chance to see the annual return of pumpkin-spice buzz, from flavored oatmeal and lattes to custards, Oreos, and even (!) Pringles potato chips.  Pick your pumpkin with care!  While real pumpkin is plenty nutritious and a food worth eating, many processed pumpkin-flavored snacks and sweets are full of non-food ingredients and mainly empty calories.

I shared some seasonal favorites with a local club this morning, featuring dishes with apple, pumpkin, and sweet potato.  I’m so grateful to those ladies for their enthusiasm, and I’m happy to share the pumpkin pancakes they sampled.  These are gluten-free and grain free; they make a familiar breakfast or brunch food, and they would also work well served at room temperature with a topping of your choice for an hors d’oeuvres.    Happy fall y’all!

Paleo Pumpkin Pancakes (adapted from Practical Paleo)

4 eggs

½ cup pumpkin (from a can of organic pumpkin)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons melted ghee or butter


Whisk together the eggs, pumpkin, vanilla, and maple syrup.  Combine the cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking soda and stir into the pumpkin mixture until well distributed.  Fold in melted butter.

Good for you paleo pumpkin pancakes!

Prepare a griddle over medium heat.  When a drop of water sizzles on the surface begin making pancakes.  I prefer bite-sized pancakes made from 1 tablespoon batter, but, of course, you can make any size you choose.  When you begin to see the surface bubble, your pancake is ready to turn over for about a minute on the second side.

August 30, 2017

Rosemary Raisin Crackers

My first batch of homemade crackers was made years ago teaching pre-kindergarten in New York City, and we made cheese straws in the classroom kitchen to be served at parents’ night.  Though I knew making crackers was easy enough for pre-schoolers to do, it seemed to me there were plenty of good crackers to purchase, so it wouldn’t be worth the trouble.  These crackers are so easy to pull together in five minutes flat while your oven preheats, and they are totally worth the clean up — especially if you whip up a few batches.  

Rosemary Raisin Crackers

1 cup blanched almond flour

2 tablespoons raisins

2 tablespoons cold water

1 tablespoon raw sunflower seeds

1 sprig fresh rosemary

1 ½ teaspoons olive oil

½ teaspoon sea salt


Special Snack for a Party or Any Day!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  

Blitz all the ingredients in the food processor.  Process for about 10 seconds, or until thoroughly combined.  The dough will form a ball in the food processor bowl.  Roll out the dough to  ¼-inch thick between two sheets of parchment paper.  Transfer the bottom sheet with dough to a sheet pan.  Using a large chef’s knife, cut the dough to make 1-inch wide rectangles or the shape of your choice.  Bake 12-15 minutes, until golden.  Let cool on a rack 15 minutes, and then break crackers apart.  

August 28, 2017

Jicama, Orange, and Fennel Salad

Nutrient dense and delicious!

Jicama, Orange & Fennel Salad

I don’t often think of serving oranges in summer, but this salad is so refreshing and the familiarity of the oranges encourages people to try it even if they aren’t familiar with jicama or raw fennel.  Because the jicama is a great source of prebiotic fiber and the arugula is a cruciferous vegetable, this dish is an especially healthy choice to add to summer cookouts or fall tailgate buffets.  

To make enough for a small platter of about six servings, you will need 4 navel oranges, 1 small jicama about the size of a small orange, 1 small fennel bulb, and 1 five-ounce box of mixed baby arugula and spinach.  

Prepare the oranges by slicing the segments away from each membrane, and set them aside.  Peel the jicama and fennel and slice them into thin strips.  

Whisk together for a dressing: 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1 garlic clove, minced, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and 2 teaspoons maple syrup; then whisk in 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. You can also boost the flavor by adding 1 teaspoon toasted fennel seeds to the dressing.  

Refrigerate the ingredients and dressing until shortly before you plan to serve.  Assemble the salad by putting down a layer of arugula and spinach and layering jicama slices over the greens.  Drizzle with dressing and then top with fennel.  Arrange the orange sections on top and perhaps add more dressing.  

Playing around:

Spicy: You could spice things up using radishes instead of jicama or add them to these ingredients.

Sweet: You could add blueberries or watermelon, or use either of these in place of the oranges.

Green: You could add cilantro or parsley to the bed of greens.

Serve at brunch after eggs, or with burgers and hot dogs at a cookout, or as an accompaniment to shrimp or fish tacos.  For a light lunch you could add pumpkin seeds and avocado and serve the salad on its own.

March 11, 2017

Lentil Quinoa Salad

Lentil Quinoa Salad with Tahini Dressing

¾ cups French lentils

1 cup quinoa, rinsed in a fine-mesh colander

2 cups water or vegetable broth

¼ cup olive oil

3 to 4 tablespoons lemon juice, to taste (from about 2 lemons)

2 tablespoons tahini

1 large clove garlic, pressed or minced

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped

1 bunch radishes, scrubbed and quartered

1 small zucchini, finely chopped

1 tablespoon chopped chives

 Rinse the lentils and place in a medium saucepan.  Cover with an inch or two of water and add a big pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil and keep at a low boil for 20-22 minutes until cooked through.  Drain and rinse, and set aside.  

 Meanwhile, combine the rinsed quinoa and the water or broth in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then cover and decrease the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until the quinoa has absorbed all of the liquid, about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat, insert a clean towel or paper towel under the lid, and let the quinoa rest for 5 minutes, which gives it time to fluff up without any condensation falling back in to the pan.

In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, tahini, garlic, salt and several twists of freshly ground pepper. Taste, and add up to 1 more tablespoon of lemon juice and/or more pepper, if desired.  

Place the quinoa in a large bowl. Add the lentils, parsley, tomatoes, carrots, radishes, zucchini and chives.  Drizzle the dressing over the salad, and toss to combine. Serve immediately, or let it cool and refrigerate for later. This salad is a great make-it-ahead dish for work week lunches or a fun picnic.  

March 10, 2017

Think Outside the Box…

Think Outside the Box … of Crackers

Sweet Potato Toast 

Here’s a great healthy food swap that’s oh so versatile.  Use a round of toasted sweet potato in place of a cracker or bread for an hors d’oeuvres or even breakfast.  It’s Whole 30 compliant, and it’s a neutral start you can adapt for lots of different palates.  Make it savory or sweet… the possibilities are pretty much endless! 

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees or use a toaster on the highest setting if you are preparing one or two large slices.  Scrub the sweet potatoes and leave their skin on.  Any variety of sweet potato will work.  Slice them evenly to ¼” thickness.  I slice them crosswise if I’m preparing an hors d’oeuvres, as pictured here, and lengthwise if I’m using them for a larger gluten-free toast.  Lay them flat on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or place them directly on the racks of your toaster.  Bake them for up to 20 minutes, flipping over about halfway through cooking, until the slices are beginning to brown.  

For a light savory hors d’oeuvres with a distinctive taste, I paired Japanese sweet potato toasts with a bit of arugula and some Goat Lady Dairy Smoky Mountain chevre.  

Try it any other way you can think of or check out the nearly 7,000 posts at #sweetpotatotoast.


Toasted Sweet Potato topped with sweet or savory flavors

  • Almond butter, banana slices, chia seeds, and a sprinkle of cinnamon
  • Kite Hill non-dairy cream cheese and fresh blueberries
  • Good ole’ PB&J
  • Avocado and freshly ground black pepper
  • Cream cheese, smoked salmon, tomato, and chives
  • Goat Lady Dairy goat cheese and arugula or rosemary
  • Bacon, egg, and avocado
  • Beet Hummus and chives
February 13, 2016

Etti’s Herb Salad from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook

This salad is truly a labor of love.  It’s best made when friends or family gather in the kitchen and you have plenty of hands to keep busy.  Once you have spread out your mounds of fresh herbs, picking all these cups of leaves will probably still take a group of four about fifteen minutes – or at least that’s been my experience with a few chatty groups so far!

Etti’s Herb Salad                                     
From Ottolenghi: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi            Serves 6

2 cups cilantro leaves
1 ¼ cups Italian parsley leaves
2 cups dill leaves
1 cup tarragon leaves
1 ¼ cups basil leaves
2 cups arugula leaves
2 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter
1 heaping cup whole raw almonds
½ teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil

Gently immerse the herb leaves in cold water, and be careful not to bruise them.  Drain in a colander, then dry in a salad spinner or spread them out on clean kitchen towels and pat gently to dry.
Heat the butter in a pan, and add the almonds, salt, and pepper.  Sautéeé for 5 to 6 minutes over low to medium heat, until the almonds are golden.  Remove the almonds and transfer to a colander to drain.  Reserve the butter left in the pan, and keep it in a warm place so it does not set.  Once the almonds have cooled, coarsely chop them.
Assemble the salad when it will be served: Place the herbs in a large bowl; add almonds, cooking butter, lemon juice, and olive oil.  Toss gently and season to taste.  Serve immediately.

Why It’s Good For You
Fresh herbs deliver loads of chlorophyll to your body, which detoxifies your blood from metals and feeds the good gut bacteria.  The nutrient density of fresh herbs is really remarkable.  Consider this salad a powerhouse multi-vitamin:  Parsley and basil are high in vitamin K, which protects cells from oxidative damage, as well as vitamin A.  Parsley is also packed with iron to boost your energy.  Cilantro may reduce LDL cholesterol in the blood.  It is high in antioxidants such as beta-carotene, and a good source of folate, and fiber, as well as minerals calcium, potassium, manganese, iron, and magnesium.  Like so many herbs, cilantro is also a great source of vitamins K, A, and C.  Dill is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, and it is a good source of folate as well as minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium.  Potassium helps control heart rate and blood pressure.  Arugula’s sulfurous glucosinolates protect cells from DNA damage, lower inflammation and protect against UV damage.  Almonds are a great source of good-for-you fat as well as vitamin E.