Sunday, June 28, 2009

frisee salad with smoked salmon and poached egg

The inspiration for this salad (like the pizza from earlier this week) came from the July edition of Cooking Light. The combination of ingredients sounds a little strange, I'll admit. But there was something about the poached egg in this recipe that was unexpectedly intriguing... 

The original recipe called for bacon (you may recall that I recently cut meat out of my diet, though I am still going to allow fish, so I substituted smoked salmon) and rye bread (which just sounded strange to me, so I left it out). I also added tomato, because it sounded like it would work well with the other ingredients. Here's how my version went:

Frisee Salad with Smoked Salmon & Poached Egg
Serves 2

1/4 c. white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh tarragon, chopped
freshly ground black pepper and sea salt, to taste

1 large or 2 small heads of frisee, torn into bite sized pieces
2-4 oz. smoked salmon, separated into small pieces
1 tomato, chopped (I used a large orange heirloom)
2 eggs
1 Tbsp. white vinegar

Whisk dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. In a large bowl, combine frisee, tomatoes, and smoked salmon. Pour dressing over top and mix well. Divide onto 2 plates.

Add water to a large skillet, filling it 2/3 full. Bring water to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Add vinegar. Break eggs into pan and cook for about 3 minutes, until desired doneness. Remove eggs with a slotted spoon and place one on top of each salad. Sprinkle with cracked black pepper.

I still think this salad sounds strange, but the flavors actually worked together really well. Also after consuming, I understood why the original recipe called for bread/croutons - without them, it wasn't super filling. Croutons or possibly rolls & butter on the side would fix this. 

Let me know what you think!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

amazing spinach and ricotta pizza

My cleanse is officially over! I made it through 4 weeks of no dairy, gluten, refined sugar, meat, caffeine, and alcohol (the cleanse I was following is outlined in The Complete Guide to Nutritional Health). I feel terrific - I'm sleeping better, have more energy throughout the day, am more motivated to exercise, and not really craving any of the items I've cut out. Not really craving, however I did complete my cleanse pretty excited to eat some cheese (and chocolate)!

In fact, I've been feeling so good throughout the cleanse that I've decided to continue to eliminate gluten, meat, and refined sugar from my diet. I'm also going to treat dairy as a special treat (like brie and crackers on Bachelorette night), rather than incorporate it into almost every meal, as had become the habit prior to the past month.

My first special treat post-cleanse was this pizza. If you've been following this blog for awhile, you may recall that I've posted before about the dismal pizza options on the peninsula. So when I want good pizza, I've taken to making my own. This obviously also lets you have complete control over the ingredients that go into the pizza, which meant in this case that I was able to test out a gluten-free crust. (You could certainly make this pizza with a non-gluten free crust as well.)

I was optimistic, but skeptical that a gluten-free pizza crust would be as good as a traditional crust. To improve my odds of success, rather than play around with combining various gluten-free flours, I decided to go with a packaged mix. I've had great luck in the past with Bob's Red Mill flours (you may recall the oat flour from my recent post, vegan gluten-free date newtons), so I went with Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Pizza Crust Mix (which even comes with yeast, so all you need to add is water).

The crust turned out awesome. I'm not sure if it's because this was the first time in a month that I'd ingested any dairy, but I'd list this pizza in the top 5 (maybe even top 3?) of best pizzas that I've ever eaten. It's based on a recipe from the July 2009 edition of Cooking Light, to which I made a few minor tweaks. Here's what I did:

Amazing Spinach & Ricotta (gluten-free!) Pizza
Serves 4

olive oil
dough for one large pizza (as mentioned, mine was gluten-free)
1 c. marinara sauce
2 c. baby spinach
3 Tbsp. freshly grated parmesan
5 oz. mozzarella, grated
1/3 c. ricotta cheese
2 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
about 1/4 c. fresh basil, chopped into thin strips
1/4-1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Lightly oil a perforated pizza pan. Place dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll into a circle. Transfer to prepared pan. (The original recipe calls for you to roll the dough into a 12-inch pizza. The pizza dough mix I was using allowed me to get the crust to 16 inches. I also followed the cooking instructions on the package - which I don't have any longer or would post here as well - which meant some pre-baking and a slightly longer overall cooking time than outlined below.)

Brush dough with olive oil. Spread sauce evenly over dough, leaving a 1/4 inch border. Top with spinach, parmesan, and mozzarella (in that order). Spoon teaspoonfuls of ricotta over mozzarella.

Bake for 12 minutes or until mozzarella melts and crust browns. Let stand for 5 minutes. Top with tomato slices, fresh basil, and red pepper flakes. Cut into 8 pieces. Enjoy!

Friday, June 26, 2009

eggplant ricotta salad

Marika came over earlier this week to watch the Bachelorette (our weekly guilty pleasure). I had been planning on making an eggplant salad that I'd read about in the latest issue of Cooking Light. But the weather was so nice when I got home from work, I decided to squeeze in a run before starting the salad. By the time I got back, I was running out of time. The salad from the recipe was kind of involved (I needed to roast a pepper, puree things in the food processor, etc.). 

Too involved, I decided. So instead, I started pulling things out of the fridge that I thought would be tasty with eggplant. Outside of cooking the eggplant, this salad came together in less than 5 minutes. It was healthy and tasty and I will definitely make it again.

Eggplant Ricotta Salad
Serves 2

1 small eggplant, diced
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
2 c. baby spinach
1 large heirloom tomato, chopped
1/2 c. ricotta cheese

Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add eggplant. Stir and cook, adding more olive oil as desired during the cooking process (I added probably 4 Tbsp. throughout the cooking time). Stir occasionally and continue to cook until the eggplant is tender and begins to brown (15-20 minutes).

Mix spinach with about 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar and 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Divide onto plates. Top with tomatoes and eggplant. Spoon ricotta over the top. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

veggie veggie enchiladas

I made these enchiladas last week. Seeing the picture makes me wish that I had a serving right now! (It must be time to make dinner...) They are so tasty, you won't even notice that they are vegan. That's right - an enchilada without cheese. Or sour cream. I honestly didn't miss the dairy one bit. Here's what I did:

Veggie Veggie Enchiladas
Serves 4

olive oil
1 red onion
1 red bell pepper
1 medium yellow squash
1 medium zucchini
1 Tbsp. lime juice
2 tsp. cumin
15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
20 oz. of your favorite homemade or prepared enchilada sauce
10-12 small corn tortillas
1/4 c. cilantro, chopped
1/2 avocado, sliced

Dice onion, squash, zucchini, and pepper into smallish pieces. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook and stir until translucent. Add the pepper and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add the squash and zucchini. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until veggies are tender. Add beans, lime juice, and cumin. Stir until well mixed. Turn off heat.

Spread a couple of spoonfuls of sauce in the bottom of a glass baking pan. One at a time, fill each corn tortilla with the veggie/bean mixture, wrap into an enchilada, and place into pan. When pan is full, cover with sauce. 

Cover with foil and bake in 375 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 10 minutes longer for crispy edges. Top individual portions with chopped cilantro and avocado slices.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

gluten-free vegan date newtons

No wheat and no dairy? Then what's in these? you might ask. Magic. Delight. The best newton I've ever had. I'm not kidding - though I was very skeptical my science experiment in the kitchen would turn out well, it totally did.

The thought process went into motion when I realized that I had a lot of dates in the fridge (some leftover from the grocery, which needed to be consumed so I could justify buying the fresh, beautiful ones from the date guy at the local farmers' market). Then a couple of days later, I was walking down the cookie aisle at the grocery (probably a bad idea, I admit, given that I'm in the middle of a cleanse and allowed no refined sugar). I saw Newman's Organic Newtons and had a brief moment of excitement when I thought I might be able to eat them. But alas, the crust was made with flour. That wouldn't do.

I think probably a few more days passed. I still had newtons on the brain. And dates in the fridge. Suddenly, I realized that I could make my own date newtons, which would allow me to sweeten with whatever I wanted and omit the wheat and dairy. Perfect!

To come up with this recipe, I looked up several fig newton recipes online and then started thinking about substitutions... molasses and agave in place of the sugar... oat flour* instead of wheat... dates instead of some of the figs (though I had dried figs on hand, so I threw some of them in, too).

*Besides the actual cookies, oat flour was my favorite new discovery in this recipe. As you would probably expect, it's made from ground oats and tastes like it in a really good way. It's gluten free. I thought the flavor combination of the oat flour and the molasses was amazing and is one I'll definitely try again. Also the texture of the resulting cookie turned out just as you would expect with wheat flour.

Gluten-Free Vegan Date Newtons
Makes about 30 newtons

1 c. dates, pitted
1 c. dried figs
2 Tbsp. almonds
1/4 c. lemon juice
1/4 c. pomegranate juice

2 1/2 c. oat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 c. agave nectar
1/4 c. molasses
1/4 c. coconut oil, melted
1 Tbsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. rolled oats

To make filling: Process dates, figs, and almonds in a food processor until they begin to form a paste. Add lemon juice and pomegranate juice and continue to process until you have a smooth paste.

To make the outside of the newton: Combine dry (except rolled oats) and wet ingredients in separate bowls. Mix wet into dry. Press half of crust mixture into bottom of an oiled 8-inch square pan. Spread the date mixture evenly over the crust. Smooth remaining crust over the filling. Sprinkle rolled oats over the top.

Bake 25-30 minutes in a 375 degree oven, until lightly browned.

Once cool, cut into squares. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

spinach and berries salad with curry dressing

With fresh berries filling the farmers' markets (and if you're lucky, your garden!), June is the perfect time of year for this salad. The recipe is one of my favorites and is from my friend, Melissa, in Saint Paul (hi Mel, if you're reading this!). Here's how it goes:

Spinach & Berries Salad with Curry Dressing
Serves 2

about 4 handfuls of spinach
fresh strawberries
fresh blueberries
1/4 of a red onion, sliced thinly
walnuts or pecans

2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. honey
2 tsp. dijon mustard
1 tsp. curry powder
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Add salad ingredients to a large bowl. Top with dressing and mix well. 

Thanks for the great recipe, Mel!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

sesame sugar snap pea salad

Crunchy. Garlicky. Gingery. Yum. Here's how it goes:

Sesame Sugar Snap Pea Salad
Serves 2 as a side

2 handfuls of sugar snap peas, trimmed
1/2 red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
1 tsp. tamari
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 tsp. honey
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
sesame seeds

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well. Allow to marinate in fridge 30 minutes to an hour (or longer!) to allow flavors to meld. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

seared tuna salad with avocado vinaigrette

Week 3 of my cleanse has me down to 50% raw fruits and vegetables (from 70% last week), which means more fish, rice, and quinoa this week! Tonight, I'm going with fish - fresh ahi from the farmers' market.

When JR first saw the salad, he didn't think it would fill him up. Turned out he wasn't even able to finish it! 

Seared Tuna Salad with Avocado Vinaigrette
Serves 2

1/4 ripe avocado
2 Tbsp. red onion, minced
1-2 Tbsp. lime juice (to taste)
3 Tbsp. olive oil
salt & freshly ground black pepper

1/4 - 1/2 pound ahi tuna, seared
15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
remaining 3/4 avocado, sliced
2 tomatoes, chopped
lettuce, chopped

Whisk vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside while you chop veggies and sear tuna. Toss lettuce, tomatoes, black beans, and vinaigrette in a large bowl until dressing is well distributed. Scoop onto plates. Top with seared tuna and avocado slices. Enjoy!

fresh tomato salad

I ate this for breakfast this morning. I agree - it sounds a little strange - tomatoes in the morning? Without eggs? Yes. And it was easy, healthy, flavorful, and filling. Here's what I did:

Fresh Tomato Salad
Serves 1

1 large superfresh heirloom tomato, diced
1-2 oz. firm tofu, diced
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. fresh basil, torn into small pieces
1/2 tsp. fresh oregano, torn into small pieces
freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

treasures from the farmers' market

JR and I ventured out today to explore a new farmers' market - the Saturday market in San Mateo. It was only a short drive and probably five times the size of our neighborhood's Sunday morning market. Which meant a lot more variety (and also, we noticed, much more competitive pricing!). Including the treasures pictured above.

Here's what you see:

1. Lychee - Native to China and the Philippines. It's rich in vitamins B, C, magnesium, potassium and bioflavonoids. According to one source, it "enhances the feeling of well being". I've seen lychee popping up as one of the supposed new superfoods, but this was the first time I'd seen one in person or consumed one. It was very tasty - the texture of the fruit (which is hidden inside the dimpled shell and wrapped around a small pit) is the texture of a grape and a unique light, sweet taste.

2. Rambutan - Native to Indonesia and Southeast Asia. In Indonesian, rambutan means "hairy", which certainly seems fitting for this strange looking fruit. It's a relative of the lychee and is high in vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. The fruit is a similar texture to lychee, but the taste not quite so good. JR gave it a thumbs down. I thought it was ok - but not something I'd likely buy again. Still, it was fun to see what hid beneath the hairy spikes of the shell.

spinach salad with oranges and avocado

I'm currently on week 2 of a 30-day cleanse. I had thought embarking on this cleanse that I wouldn't have anything worth posting about (or at least not anything that anyone else would want to eat!). I was wrong.

Eating 70% raw fruits and vegetables (the basic rule for the current week of the cleanse) means that I'm trying all sorts of new combinations with fresh ingredients. I tend to eat a lot of vegetables, but not such a high proportion of raw vegetables, so this week is becoming an adventure. This salad is something I'll definitely make again. The combination of flavors is great. Here's how it goes:

Spinach Salad with Oranges and Avocado
Serves 2

1 shallot, minced
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. champagne vinegar
sea salt & freshly ground pepper

4 cups baby spinach
2 oranges, peeled, sectioned, and cut in half
1 medium avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced

Make dressing by whisking dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Combine spinach, orange sections, and avocado slices in a large salad bowl. Pour dressing over top and mix well. Top with freshly ground black pepper.

As I was eating this salad, I was thinking that walnuts and blueberries would both be great additions to it. I'll try that next time. Let me know what you think!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

walnut spinach basil pesto

What happens when you don't have all of the "normal" ingredients for something on hand? Magic.

Walnut Spinach Basil Pesto
Makes about 3/4 cups

1/3 cup walnuts
2 garlic cloves
1 cup spinach
1 cup fresh basil
1/3-1/2 cup olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Toast walnuts in a 350 degree oven until golden, about 8 minutes. Process walnuts, garlic, spinach, and basil in a food processor until well mixed, scraping down the side of the bowl as necessary. Continue to process while pouring the olive oil slowly through the top of the processor, until desired consistency is reached. Enjoy over your favorite pasta or as a fresh veggie dip!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

carrot oatmeal cookies

Carrots in cookies?!?! Crazy, I know. But also amazing.

I got the recipe from Heidi Swanson's 101 cookbooks. I didn't change a thing, so rather than repost here, I'll direct you straight to the source

Sylvia, if you're reading this, this is the recipe you've been waiting for! (Sorry it's taken me so long to post it!)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

cashew ginger tofu

I love peanut sauce. JR and I eat the following formula probably at least once per week:

grain (typically rice or quinoa)
+ green vegetable (kale, broccoli, sweet peas, green beans)
+ protein (almost always tofu)
+ peanut sauce

It's flavorful, healthy, and filling without being heavy. And while this combo with peanut sauce isn't getting old (I think I could possibly eat this every night and still like it), Dreena Burton's cashew variation sounded intriguing. The following recipe is from her cookbook (one of my favorites), Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan.

Cashew-Ginger Tofu
Serves 4

1/3 c. cashew butter
3 1/2 Tbsp. tamari
3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 Tbsp. agave nectar
3/4 cup water
12 oz. firm tofu, cut into 1/2 inch squares

Combine cashew butter, tamari, vinegar, garlic, ginger, and agave nectar in a food processor and puree until well mixed and smooth. Add water and puree again until smooth. Pour some of the mixture into an 8x12 baking dish, spreading to cover bottom. Add tofu to dish. Pour remaining sauce over tofu to cover evenly. Allow to marinate for 30 minutes to an hour.

Cover with foil and bake 15 minutes at 375 degrees. Remove cover, stir well, and bake again uncovered for 5-7 minutes, until sauce has thickened (but don't overcook, as sauce will become too thick).

The cashew sauce turns out incredibly creamy and delicious. So I guess now our standard will gain another variation:

grain (typically rice or quinoa)
+ green vegetable (kale, broccoli, sweet peas, green beans)
+ protein (almost always tofu)
+ nut sauce (peanut or cashew)

On this particular evening, we enjoyed our cashew-ginger tofu over quinoa and steamed kale. It was tremendous!

Monday, June 1, 2009

garlicky, salty, sweet quinoa

Why is this quinoa so good?
was the question JR posed to me as we were eating dinner. Um, did you see the title? You can't really go wrong with garlicky, salty, sweet from my perspective. I think this might be the best quinoa ever. Here's how it goes:

Garlicky, Salty, Sweet Quinoa
Serves 2

2 cups quinoa, cooked
olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 inch piece of ginger root, peeled and minced
3 Tbsp. tamari
3 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
2 scallions, thinly sliced

Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring occasionally until the garlic begins to brown. Add quinoa, tamari, maple syrup, and sesame oil. Stir thoroughly to mix. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with scallions and enjoy!
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