September 15, 2017
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)
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.
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
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
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 29, 2017
Here is a major short cut recipe:
Easy Black Bean Cakes
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup panko or other breadcrumbs
½ cup salsa
½ cup corn
½ cup chopped peppers
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tablespoon chopped red onion or shallot
Combine beans, breadcrumbs, and salsa in a bowl. Smash together with hands or the back of a spoon. Shape into 6 or more cakes or patties.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet. Cook black bean cakes over medium heat for 2- 3 minutes on each side. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold.
August 28, 2017
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.
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 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
1 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 … 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 8, 2017
It’s easy to forget a root vegetable can be packed with flavor. The bags of organic carrots at the supermarket don’t offer much big taste. But if you can get your hands on the real thing that grew in the ground near your home, well, that’s a totally different experience. There’s a new farmer from Hillsborough at my local farmers market, and the carrots she is selling are out of this world – juicy, crunchy, and so sweet. Now I’m hoping I can keep getting these carrots until the spring vegetables arrive in a couple months.
This warm lentil salad with carrots and parsnips concentrates the flavor of the vegetables whether you have access to fresh local ones or need to rely on grocery store produce. There’s a pretty substantial spice rub on the roasted vegetables, but the lemon at the end is the most prominent seasoning. It’s a hearty vegetarian main course, and it would also work well as a side for fish, chicken, or pork.
Warm Lentil and Root Vegetable Salad with Coconut Tzatziki
adapted from Food & Wine serves 4-6
1 cup French lentils
1 lbs. carrots, cut on a bias into 2-inch pieces
1 lbs. parsnips, halved lengthwise and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
½ teaspoon ancho chile powder
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 juicy lemons)
¾ cup chopped mint, plus torn leaves for garnish
¾ cup chopped cilantro, plus leaves for garnish
1 cup coconut milk or cashew yogurt (non-dairy brands such as So Delicious or Forager)
¼ cup finely diced seeded cucumber
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely chopped dill
1 teaspoon finely chopped chives
1 garlic clove, minced or grated
freshly ground black pepper
In a large saucepan, cover the lentils with an inch or two of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook uncovered for 20 minutes. Drain, sprinkle with salt, and set aside in a large shallow bowl to cool.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On a large sheet pan toss the carrots and parsnips together with the cumin, coriander, and ancho chile powder. Drizzle with ¼ cup olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast about 25 minutes, until vegetables are beginning to brown.
Add the roasted vegetables to the lentils and toss with lemon juice and ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil. Fold in the mint and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper.
To make the tzatziki, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and serve alongside the warm salad.
January 30, 2017
Colorful, versatile, and good for you. Here’s a grain salad that stands alone as a hearty main course and travels well for picnics and lunches to go. Add poached salmon or grilled meat for an easy make-it-ahead dinner. If you prefer gluten-free, substitute brown rice for the farro.
Winter Rainbow Grain Salad
Makes 6 servings
1 bunch Lacinato kale, stemmed and sliced into ¼” ribbons
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 cups butternut squash, chopped in ½” cubes
1 small head cauliflower or broccoli, cut into florets
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1½ cups farro
1 bay leaf
red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
½ lb brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
½ cup pomegranate seeds
¼ cup toasted pine nuts or shelled pistachios, optional
Toss the kale with the lemon juice and massage the leaves for about 1 minute. Set aside.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. On a large sheet pan, toss the cauliflower or broccoli with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast for 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces. On a second sheet pan, toss the butternut squash with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes until lightly browned. Set aside the roasted vegetables.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, combine the farro, 1 teaspoon salt, bay leaf, and a pinch of red pepper flakes with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes or until the farro is tender. Drain, discard the bay leaf, and toss the farro with the dressing.
To make the dressing, warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in a pan over medium low heat, add the minced garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Off the heat, add 2 more tablespoons olive oil and the balsamic vinegar. Whisk together and stir into the farro. In the same pan, heat 1 more tablespoon olive oil and sauté the brussels sprouts for 5 minutes or beginning to brown at the edges.
In a large bowl combine the farro, roasted vegetables, and brussels sprouts. Fold in the kale. Top with the pomegranate seeds and nuts, if using. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.
December 29, 2016
Starting the New Year with Luck and Money
Here’s a regional tradition this transplant to the South is glad to embrace. These are good for you, for sure, and they taste great. Of course, the traditional dish calls for collard greens, but a couple months ago I discovered Brussels Greens at our local farmers market, and I like them even better because they are a bit more tender and sweet, like very small collard greens would be. Black eyed peas are usually the only field peas available locally at this time of year, but if there are others in your area, don’t hesitate to use your favorite.
Ring in the new year with a helping of smoky stewed greens and black eyed peas.
Brussels Greens and Black Eyed Peas
for 6 servings
1/4 cup olive oil
1 yellow onion, minced
2 lbs. Brussels greens (or collards), stemmed and chopped into 1/4 inch ribbons
a big pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups cooked black eyed peas
3 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon adobo sauce from chipotle peppers
Warm the oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven or other heavy bottomed pot. Add the onion and cook until it is soft and beginning to brown. Meanwhile, toast the red pepper flakes in a dry pan for about two minutes over medium heat. Stir the chopped greens into the onions and add the toasted red pepper and a big pinch of salt. After a couple minutes, add the wine and reduce the heat to medium low. Stirring occasionally, cook for 30 minutes or longer, depending on your greens, until they are soft. When the greens are tender, stir in the cooked black-eyed peas and the cider vinegar. Bring to a simmer and stir in the adobo sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer 10 minutes.
This recipe is adapted from the James Beard award-winning Ashley Christensen, whose contributions to North Carolina’s food renaissance showcase the best of our foods from mountains to coast.
November 30, 2016
I’d rather not fill a prescription at the pharmacy, and it’s not just because of the crowds in line. The first seasonal colds and viruses circulating through my community, and more recently in my own body, remind me of the value of a good homemade “medicine.” It’s a boost to our immune systems when we eat whole foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, especially foods that deliver a great Rx of anti-inflammatory properties. I’ll take a bowl of soup or stew over a dose of NyQuil anyday!
You probably already have your favorite recipes for bone broths or chicken soup to nurse a cold or ward one off, so this recipe is a plant-based alternative that counts on shiitake mushrooms, butternut squash, lima beans, and kale to deliver a healing elixir.
Green and Gold Stew
makes 2.5 quarts, or 6 hearty servings
stems from wild mushrooms to make mushroom stock
extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 lb. shiitake mushrooms or other wild mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
5 cups butternut squash, cut in 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups frozen lima beans
1 bay leaf
8 cups homemade mushroom stock
6 cups thinly sliced Lacinato kale (leaves from a small bunch)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Clean the mushrooms one by one with a damp paper towel and cut off their stems. Place the mushroom stems in a medium saucepan with 8 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer while you prepare the rest of the stew. Heat about 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook the onion until soft and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Transfer the onion and garlic to a large bowl and set aside while you cook the mushrooms. Add a slick of oil to the hot pot and toss in about half of the mushrooms, cooking and stirring occasionally until they begin to brown. Add the browned mushrooms to the onion mixture and repeat with the remaining mushrooms. When all of the mushrooms have been browned, return the onion and mushrooms to the pot and add the squash, lima beans, and bay leaf. Remove the mushroom stock from the heat and strain it through a sieve into the bowl that held the onions and mushrooms. Discard the stems. Pour the stock over the stew vegetables and bring everything to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Season with a few big grinds of black pepper. Cook 40-50 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and add the ribbons of kale, stirring to combine. Cook 5 minutes longer until the kale is tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.