Saturday, March 28, 2009

Heidelburg Recap

I had a fantastic day out at Heidelburg USA doing back-to-back lunch and learn sessions for Kaiser Permanente -- despite the monsoon-like weather.

As promised here are the links for the recipes, so that you guys can easily find them.

Gingered Baby Cabbage

Edamame with Broken Noodles (gluten free, wheat free)

Mediterranean Black Rice Salad

I hope you all get a chance to try them out. Let me know how they work for you and any innovations and improvements you make. Hope to see you guys in the Fall!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Food Find: Fast Alphabet Soup with "Dora Beans"

Ok for everyone who has a little picky eater on their hands, try this super fast alphabet soup.

I'm not even putting measurements in here, that's how easy this is.

We're going to cheat and make a tomato soup by diluting your kid's favorite spaghetti sauce with some vegetable or chicken broth until it's the consistency of a thin tomato soup. Add a small palm-full of alphabet pasta and simmer over medium high heat until the pasta is just tender.

Now the secret ingredient: the "Dora Beans." As you can see in the picture, these are organic soybeans from Sealpoint Farms, cleverly packaged with a popular children's character. Marketing, marketing, marketing... But if it gets my kid to eat a vegetable, I'm all for it.

Add the "Dora Beans" in the last five minutes of cooking and serve.

Zen's response was, "Alphabet soup? My favorite!" Although I don't think he's ever had it before. LOL. The next time I make it, I'll be sure my tomato product is smooth b/c he was hesitant to eat the tomato chunks.

So there ya go. Super easy, and yet fun for the kiddies.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Black Rice Salad with Fennel, Cucumber, Sun-dried Tomato & Lemon

Light and refreshing rice salad was well received today at the Georgia Organics Conference. As promised here's the recipe! The addition of goat cheese, toasted pine nuts, capers or olives would make this a wonderfully Mediterranean dish, much like this Mediterranean Black Rice Salad that I made a couple of weeks ago. Hmmm, I'm detecting a theme...

Black Rice Salad with Fennel, Cucumber, Sun-dried Tomato & Lemon

3 cups Japonica rice blend (cooked and cooled)
3 scallions (sliced, green and white parts)
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced then diced
2 garden cucumbers
1 cup sundried tomatoes
1 bunch parsley, chopped
juiced from 2 lemons
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Combine the fennel, scallion and lemon juice in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and allow to sit for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel, seed and dice the cucumbers.

Also rehydrate the sundried tomatoes by bringing them to a boil in a small sauce pan with about 1 1 /2-2 cups of water. Once boiling, remove from heat and let set until cool enough to handle. Drain the water off, and dice the tomatoes.

Add tomatoes, cooked rice, cucumber, parsley and olive oil to the fennel mixture and stir well.

Check for seasoning and serve or refrigerate, covered up to three days. Prior to serving check the flavors as you may need more lemon juice, salt or pepper.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Gingered Baby Cabbage

My mother brought me three of the cutest little cabbages from her garden. This dish features two ingredients that pair well with cabbage: ginger and mustard. I added a touch of agave nectar too for a hint of sweetness as a counterpoint to the subtle spice of the cabbage.

Gingered Baby Cabbage

3 heads of baby cabbage, leaves stripped, washed and cut into ribbons
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1" piece fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 cup water
1 1/2 tsp agave nectar
salt and pepper to taste

Heat butter and oil in a saute pan over medium high heat. Add garlic, ginger and dijon mustard and stir quickly.

Stir in cabbage (still damp) and saute until it begins to wilt and turn bright green.

As the bottom of the pan starts to brown add the water 1/4 a cup at a time, allowing it to evaporate between additions.

Season with salt and pepper, add agave nectar, and the last 1/4 cup of water. Cook until cabbage is tender.

Seaweed Soup with Dried Shiitakes and Silken Tofu

A soup made of sea vegetables is as good as a cure in my book! Sea vegetables contain virtually all the minerals found in human blood. Ocean water and human blood are close in mineral composition. Maybe that's why the sea speaks to so many of us, but I digress...

In the last Life Chef's "What's Cooking? Class" at Sevananda Natural Foods Market, we focused on meal planning, and using just three main meals as the focus of our shopping to keep us on the path to eating healthy and saving time and money. That short sentence really doesn't do the two+ hour class any justice, but suffice to say there's a chart, a grocery list and some shopping, cooking and eating involved!

One of the dishes we made was a shortcut version of my famous Curried Chick Peas with Kale, and the other was a take off of a favorite Tofu, Mushroom and Sea Vegetable Soup.

This version used:
1 block silken tofu
8 dried shiitake mushrooms, broken into pieces
1/2 package of Instant Pacific Sea Salad by Emerald Cove
3-4 Tbsp organic soy sauce and
6 cups of water.

Very simple. I finished with a splash of dark sesame oil, well, just cuz I like the flavor. Talk about fast. I dare say folks who initially wrinkle their nose up at the idea of a seaweed soup enjoyed this one.

I admit I'll poach an egg in this soup and call it breakfast. A super-powered breakfast!

Read about some of the ancient health benefits of eating sea vegetables (anti-inflammatory properties, promoting healthy thyroid function, preventing cardiovascular disease and more) at this like to World's Healthiest Foods website.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Crispy Seitan with Spicy Dipping Sauce

Photo from

Sometimes you just need something battered and fried! This Crispy Seitan hits the spot with a light crust made from whole-grain organic cereal flakes. It's a surprising and delicious way to add whole grains to your diet (and possibly offset the twinge of guilt for eating fried food). I made these delectable crispy nuggets during the Life Chef "What's Cooking? Whole Grains for Heart Health" Class on February 14 at Sevananda Natural Foods Market.

When foods are fried at the proper temperature and for the shortest amount of time possible, they actually absorb less fat than you may think. So splurge with this tasty treat every now and then. It's fast and delicious and will be a winner with the entire family. Don't have seitan? Use extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 2" strips.

What is seitan? It's wheat gluten. It may sound kind of scary if you're new to meat-alternatives, but it's used a lot in making "faux meats" like vegan pepper "stake" and vegan "chick'n" patties. Seitan is very mild in taste and has a meaty texture, even more so than mushrooms. Learn more here.

Crispy Fried Seitan
8oz “chicken style” seitan, drained
2 cups organic multigrain cereal (crushed or run through a food processor)
1 teaspoon each (or to taste)
ground garlic powder
smoked paprika
ground black pepper
ground turmeric
ground cayenne pepper
ground cumin
ground coriander
vegetable oil for frying

Heat vegetable oil to 375 degrees in a fryer, pot or deep skillet.
Add spices and pulverized cereal crumbs into a plastic bag and shake to combine.
Place drained seitan into a bowl and sprinkle enough of the seasoned crumb mixture over the seitan pieces to coat thoroughly.
Fry seitan in the heated oil until crisp and golden brown.

Serve with this Dipping Sauce:

3 Tbsp ketsup
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp Sriracha (or other spicy sauce)
2 Tbsp honey

Curried Chick Peas with Kale

Nope, it's not deja vu, this recipe has indeed resurfaced! Each time I make it it's a little different. This time I omitted coconut milk altogether and added a prepared Indian simmer sauce, Calcutta Masala. Why? One, to cut some of the fat of the dish and two, to show the short cut, yet flavor enhancing method of making the dish by using the simmer sauce. Saves a few minutes when you've gotta get dinner on the table in a hurry.

This dish was recreated, on the fly, as part of the Life Chef "What's Cooking? Meal Planning" class I taught last Saturday at Sevananda Natural Foods Market. The first hour of the class highlighted time saving, money saving, calorie saving tips while keeping healthy and delicious foods on hand and realistically planned into your life. Hopefully you can catch the next one!

Curried Chick Peas with Kale
1 can chick peas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 inches of ginger, peeled and grated
1 large tomato, diced
2 cups kale, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon each (or to taste):cayenne, cumin, coriander, ginger, garlic, black pepper, smoked paprika, cinnamon, allspice
1 cup Calcutta Masala Sauce
1 cup water
1 lime, cut into wedges (for garnish)
1 bunch cilantro (for garnish)

In a large pot, heat 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute the onions and garlic until tender, about 3 minutes.

Add ginger and tomato and continue cooking until tomato breaks down, about 5 minutes.

Add chick peas and spices (cayenne through allspice), and stir rapidly to toast spices.

Add water and Masala sauce, cover the pot and simmer for at least 10 minutes to combine flavors.

To serve, garnish with lime wedges to be squeezed over each plate and fresh cilantro sprigs.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Mahogany Rice with Curried Butternut Squash and Kale

This colorful and beautiful dish was created during the Life Chef "What's Cooking? Whole Grains for Heart Health" class at Sevananda Natural Foods Market. It was hearty, delicious and very flavorful. A wonderful vegetarian entree or a hearty side dish. If you haven't had the Japonica Rice Blend before please try to find it. You'll never eat boring old generic brown rice again!
Serves 6-8

Mahogany Rice with Curried Butternut Squash and Kale
½ butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp masala curry powder
1 Tbsp agave nectar
¼ cup water
2 cups mahogany rice (see picture)
½ tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs sun dried tomato slices
2 cups kale, stemmed and thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

In a small pan, heat 1 Tbs of oil over medium high heat and saute the butternut squash for about 3-4 minutes. Add the cinnamon and curry powder and stir occasionally until the squash starts to brown. Add the water and agave nectar and cook until the squash is tender.

Meanwhile in a large pot bring 4 cups of water up to a boil and add the rice. Stir in the sun dried tomatoes, cayenne and garlic powder and season with salt and pepper. Cover the pot with a lid, reduce the heat to medium-low and continue cooking until rice is tender, about 20-30 minutes. Stir in the kale in the last five minutes of cooking.

To serve, stir the rice and the squash together and garnish with fresh herbs.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

EPA recap

(smokey white beans with parsley)

I truly enjoyed the folks from the Sam Nunn Federal Center (thanks to Kaiser Permanente, the EPA and the SSA). What a great crowd (a great food loving crowd, that is)! This Life Chef lunch and learn session focused on international flavors for healthful and delicious side dishes (or vegetarian entrees).

We made Smokey White Beans, which people swear has smoked meat but really is illuminated by Spanish smoked paprika and cumin, Mediterranean Black Rice Salad featuring whole grain goodness, and Broken Noodles with Edamame and Asian Vegetables (a gluten free, low carb pasta dish).

Mediterranean Black Rice Salad

This cold dish uses a Japonica rice blend, featuring the whole grain goodness of mahogany and black rice. If you're as tired of brown rice as I am, this blend is a welcome addition to your pantry. It's earthy, nutty, sweet and hearty! Add in some traditional Mediterranean ingredients like lemon, fennel, sundried tomatoes (skip the oil-packed variety and reconstitute your own to control the fat content), tons of fresh parsley and more, and you have a flavorful, healthful side dish that is also an excellent use of leftover rice!

1 cup Lundberg Black Japonica Rice
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes , rehydrated in boiling water and drained
1 cup of black olives, sliced
1 seedless cucumber, peeled adn diced
1/4 cup goat cheese or feta cheese
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
juice from 1 lemon
1/2cup thinly sliced fennel bulb
1/2 cup onion, small dice
salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 cup pine nuts for garnish

Bring 2 cups of salted water to a boil. Sir in the rice, cover with a lid and reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook for 30-40 minutes or until rice is tender. Rinse rice under cold water to stop cooking and remove excess starch. Set aside.

Meanwhile, combine fennel, onion and lemon juice in a large mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper and allow to marinate for at least 20 minutes while rice is cooking.

Add all of the ingredients, except the goat cheese and pine nuts, to the fennel-onion mixture, stirring to incorporate. Serve immediately or refrigerate for 24 hours.

Stir prior to serving and garnish with goat cheese and pine nuts.

Broken Noodles w Edamame & Asian Veggies

This dish inverts the garnish-to-pasta ratio for those who love their pasta but can't do all the carbs. Here, pasta is a garnish in the dish, instead of the focus. And as an added bonus, I used gluten free pasta, made from quinoa and corn, for those who are minimizing or eliminating wheat gluten from their diets. Locally, the pasta was purchased at the DeKalb Farmers Market (see picture below). If you are fine with wheat, substitute a whole wheat or buckwheat (soba) pasta for this dish.

4 oz Ancient Harvest Quinoa Supergrain Linguine (gluten free pasta)
1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
2" piece of ginger, peeled and grated
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 small nappa cabbage, sliced crosswise into ribbons
1 cup edamame (soy beans), thawed
1 Tbsp black sesame seeds
2 Tbsp dark sesame oil, divided
1 Tbsp wheat free soy sauce (or organic tamari, shoyu, low sodium soy sauce)

Bring 4 cups of salted water to a boil. Break linguine into 2" pieces and add to boiling water. Cook, stirring once or twice, for about 6 minutes. Rinse under cold water to stop cooking, drizzle with 1 Tbsp of sesame oil and set aside.

Meanwhile heat 1 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil in a pot or large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add onions, and cook until crisp tender, about 3 minutes. Add edamame, garlic, red pell pepper and garlic, stirring occasionally.

Stir in cabbage, soy sauce and continue cooking until cabbage is crisp-tender, about 4 minutes.

Stir in the pasta and the ramaining 1 Tbsp of sesame oil.

Transfer to a serving dis and garnish with black sesame seeds.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Garden Chimichurri

Some days the best way to get dinner on the table in a hurry is to put little hands to work. In this Garden Chimichurri, featuring seasonal herbs from the kitchen garden, you can let the kids wash and pick the herbs from the stem. Older kids can measure out the oil and the vinegar. And with mom or dad in charge of the food processor, there's no need to break out the knives.

The Garden Chimichurri can be used to marinate any meat, fish or even tofu steaks. Experiment with Garden Chimichurri to add a twist to roasted or grilled vegetables, or bring an Argentinian flare to your favorite pasta dishes.

Garden Chimichurri
makes 1 1/2 cups
2 cups parsley
1 cup cilantro
1/2 cup oregano
3 cloves garlic
1/2 jalepeno (seeded)
2 scallions (green and white parts)
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar (or lemon juice)
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
salt and black pepper to taste

Combine all of the ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor or blender until everything is well chopped.

Scrape down the sides, turn on the food processor and drizzle in the olive oil until the mixture has a pasty consistency, similar to like pesto.

Store unused Garden Chimichurri in an air-tight container for up to a month. To prevent discoloration, place a layer of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the sauce.