less…is quite often more

The other day I was running around like a busy person. Without even trying, thinking of what to make for dinner always sits in the back of my mind no matter what else is going on. I knew I needed to go grocery shopping but didn’t have the time. So I resigned to the idea that I would just work with whatever I had in the kitchen when I got home. By the time it was over, I was reminded that sometimes breaking the pattern of relying on regular grocery staples is just the ticket I need to get the creative culinary juices flowing. What is the point of this story? When you are charged with preparing dinner and all you have on hand is a yam, a beet, and some mushrooms, take a pause, make like you are in a cottage in Provence, and romance some garden herbs and that jar of Dijon mustard sitting in the back of the fridge! In most cases, simpler is actually a lot better. Embrace what you have, make it the star, and you will never go wrong!

provençal root vegetable stacks with wild mushroom ragout

Makes 4 “stacks”
1 medium-large yam (choose length over thickness), sliced into 8 thick slices, ends saved for another use
1 medium beet, cut into 4 slices, thinner than the yams due to difference in cooking time
4 tbsp. +/- olive oil
2 tbsp. mixed fresh rosemary & thyme, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped Read More

going loco for cauliflower

It’s hard to overlook cauliflower’s recent rise to food fame. It seems like everyone is going bananas for this cruciferous, that until now has endured a long reputation as a pretty boring vegetable. It’s because cauliflower is undeniably and extremely good for you, and therefore, more and more people are looking at ways to bring cauliflower to the forefront of their dinner plates. But what happens when you just want a good old taco? Can cauliflower hold up to carne asada, carnitas, or shrimp? Well, I gave it a whirl last night and it came out pretty yummy. Check out this vegan spin-off of the Baja style shrimp taco and decide for yourself.

cauliflower diablo tacos with mango slaw

Makes 6-8 tacos

for the taco filling
1 head cauliflower florets, broken into pieces for taco filling
1/2 medium onion, diced
1-2 tbsp. organic red palm or coconut oil
1 large tomato, diced
1 tsp. cumin seeds, crushed (can substitute ground cumin)
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. garlic powder Read More

there’s something springy & sprouted going on

This time of year, whenever I start to see fresh English peas and asparagus at the market, and the nasturtium flowers start to take over the garden, my cooking mind always wanders to spring risotto with asparagus and peas. So, the other night I was making a side dish of sprouted brown rice, and I noticed that the texture would probably lend itself well to a risotto-style dish. Well that’s all I needed to give this one a try…voila! A healthy, sprouted risotto that makes a great vegan entree or side dish!

sprouted “risotto” with asparagus, peas, fennel, & mint

Makes 2-3 entrees, or 4-6 side dishes
4 cups vegetable broth
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup sprouted brown rice
1/2 bulb fennel, with some of the stock and leaves, roughly chopped
1 small leek, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small heirloom (or regular) carrot, diced small Read More

chilling the chile relleno craving

Sometimes I crave the distinctive qualities of a good old fashioned chile relleno…you know- the one stuffed with cheese, battered, and fried. Well, I do indulge from time to time, but just to make a point, you can create an entirely healthy, and just as satisfying chile relleno experience, that might even resemble some real Mexican authenticity. And, you’ll get a bonus of added clean nutrition! Use a ceramic or safe clay baking dish with a lid if possible, for a great even bake, and a magnificent smell from the oven during preparation. If enjoyed with an open mind and a sense of adventure, this dish should stave off the unhealthy chile relleno craving for quite some time.

corn, black bean, & pepita chiles rellenos

Makes 4 chiles rellenos
2 large fresh tomatoes, cut into eighths and divided
1 large yellow onion, roughly diced and divided
2-3 garlic cloves, sliced into quarters
4-6 sprigs fresh thyme, divided
1 jalapeño or serrano chile, depending on how spicy you like it, sliced without the seeds
4 stuff-able poblano chiles
1/2 cup raw pepitas (hulled pumpkinseeds) Read More

simple, raw pleasures

I love it whenever I can take a yummy favorite and reveal how easily it fits into what may be considered a stricter, more sober health regimen. Take this variation on the spring roll, for example. Well, it may not really need pointing out, but this delightful dish is…(drumroll)…raw!! Tah-dah!! This crowd pleaser, starring a handful of raw plants, works well for your weekend saturday lunch, an afternoon tea party, or as an hors d’oeuvre for your evening get together.

rainbow spring rolls with almond sauce

makes about 6 whole rolls (18 pieces as pictured)

for the spring rolls:
1/2 red or orange bell pepper, very finely julienned
1/2 Japanese cucumber
1/2 avocado, pitted and thinly sliced without the peel
1 small-medium carrot
1 fresh mango, peeled and pitted
1/4 head julienned radicchio Read More

getting the burger basics

I am not a burger purist. The more different kinds of burgers the world can invent the better! This  point of view comes in particularly handy when it comes to creating healthier, maybe even meatless, burger recipes. Having said this, no matter what, a burger should pass some basic requirements in order to be considered feasible- not that I am some burger expert, but let’s just be practical about it! First and foremost, the burger must hold together in a two-bun sandwich or lettuce wrap scenario. If it crumbles, it isn’t exactly a burger. Next, the burger should satiate. You want to feel full and happy and be nourished after you have eaten one. And third, it should be quick and easy to make. If you have to run to seven specialty food stores and spend two hours in the kitchen before you even get to the part where you make it into patties, well, it kind of loses its “burger experience,” in my opinion.

Here is a super easy quinoa and black bean burger that holds up to the basics and tastes great! Enjoy this between any kind of bread or bun, or make a falafel patty and enjoy with flatbread or a lettuce wrap. Seriously, the total active prep time for this is less than 30 minutes!

“basic” quinoa & black bean burgers

Makes 4 small or 2 jumbo burgers
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 1/2 cups cooked and rinsed black beans, or 1 15.5-oz. can rinsed
1/2 tsp. cumin powder
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. nutritional yeast Read More

it’s a nut! it’s a grain! no…it’s buckwheat!

I’ll be frank: I love buckwheat!!! I have always had a fond place in my heart for buckwheat. I honestly can’t remember where in my childhood buckwheat took its place, I think an aunt used it, or maybe my mom. I just remember it being there somewhere.

When I started pursuing this healthier cooking thing, I was delighted to discover the nutritional benefits that buckwheat has to offer. Buckwheat is not actually wheat at all. It is a seed that comes from a sorrel-like flower. This makes it, in my view, a superfood, not to mention gluten free, plant based, and other great qualities many are looking for today. Unfortunately, buckwheat flour doesn’t behave quite the same as wheat flour, so its uses tend to be more limited, but you can find some good products that use pure buckwheat in simple and nutritious ways. You can also use it in recipes here and there, in baking, and always be confident that you are adding amino acids, fiber, and other essential nutrition to the dish. Here is a fantastic and quick way to enjoy ramen without the toxic craziness of the ubiquitous instant ramen. And, it is great on a detox! This recipe can be ready to eat in 20-30 minutes from start to finish.

buckwheat ramen with shiitake mushrooms & vegetables

Makes 2 large or 4 small bowls of ramen
4 cups vegetable broth, plus 2 cups water
1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms (fresh or rehydrated from dried)
2 100% buckwheat ramen noodle cakes

2-3 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2-3 teaspoons chopped garlic (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
1 cup broccoli florets
1 small julienned or grated carrot Read More