Wednesday, September 22, 2010

lemon herb roasted potatoes

Something has been munching on my recently planted cruciferous vegetable starts in the garden. I did some research online to learn about possible easy (and non-chemical) deterrents. A couple articles I read cited aromatic herbs as something that will fend off some unwanted insects and worms. Perfect. In addition to the pest deterrent (which seems to be working so far), I now have a lot of fresh herbs to cook with.

Here's how I put some of my newly acquired fresh herbs to use, together with fingerling potatoes from the CSA box and a lemon heisted from a neighbor's tree:

Lemon Herb Roasted Potatoes
Serves 2

2 handfuls fingerling potatoes, sliced into 1/2" thick rounds
the juice of 1/2 lemon
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, minced
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, minced
1 Tbsp. fresh oregano, minced
a generous pinch sea salt
a generous pinch white pepper
a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl. Arrange the potato rounds in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake in oven, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 30 minutes.

We enjoyed our roasted potatoes with broiled salmon and wilted spinach.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

fruit and nut oatmeal cookies

It has been a good deal of time since I've baked anything.

Even longer since I've baked anything with butter.

After a 4-week dietary detox of eating mostly fruit, vegetables, and whole grains, buttery cookies taste even better than I remember them.

I could have used a butter alternative in these cookies: coconut oil, for example, would have probably worked well. But the sticks of butter in my fridge have been ignored for so long that I decided to put one to use. I am glad I did.

This recipe is inspired by my mother. The last time I was in the Northwest, I brought her dried plums from the tree in our backyard. I was talking with her on the phone last week, and she mentioned that baked them into oatmeal cookies. What a fantastic idea. I knew as soon as the words were out of her mouth that I would need to follow suit. Here's what I did:

Fruit & Nut Oatmeal Cookies
Makes about 3 dozen cookies

1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
1/4 c. honey
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. + 2 Tbsp. whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. uncooked old fashioned oats
1/2 c. tart dried fruit, chopped (I used dried plums; dried cherries would also work well)
1/2 c. nuts, chopped (I used walnuts)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream butter with sugar and honey. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; mix well. Add oats, dried fruit, and nuts and stir to distribute.

Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto parchment lined baking sheets. Bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Move to wire rack to cool.

The tart plums together with the sweet honey and brown sugar and the savory crunch of toasted walnuts makes for some delightfully delicious oatmeal cookies.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

stir fried vegetables with peanut sauce

It's been a busy weekend (so much so that I'm catching up on my blog writing on Sunday evening - though it's typically a Saturday morning activity for me - and I have yet to make dinner tonight!).

Here's a quick recap:

Friday night's festivities were meeting up with friends at a local German pub. It was an adventure that included one of the biggest pretzels I've ever had the pleasure of enjoying - complete with brown mustard, cheese, and salami (my cleanse is officially over!).

Saturday was spent mostly in the sunshine in the backyard. My hibiscus plant has been transplanted from the pot it was inhabiting into the ground. I am the proud new owner of a tropicana lily that is past blooming this year, but is going to be breathtakingly beautiful next year. I planted some aromatic herbs in the garden to try to deter the bugs/worms that have been munching on my cruciferous veggies.

This morning was filled with a nice long run and a trip to the farmers' market. This afternoon, JR, Marika and I went into the city to enjoy Opera in the Park at Golden Gate Park. It was possibly my favorite Sunday afternoon of all time - we had a picnic of wine and cheese while listening to arias from Madame Butterfly, The Marriage of Figaro, and more. The sun was shining. It was lovely.

All of that has very little to do with the following recipe. But so it goes.

I made this dish last week out of the random veggies that I had on hand. It's been awhile since I've made peanut sauce. This was a good reminder of how delicious it is. We ate it these stir fried veggies for dinner one night, then had enough leftovers to turn it into another meal by accompanying it with carrot ginger soup on the following night. Here's what I did:

Stir Fried Vegetables with Peanut Sauce
Serves 3-4

Peanut sauce:
1/2 c. natural peanut butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. tamari (can substitute soy sauce)
3 Tbsp. lime juice
2 Tbsp. agave nectar
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger root, minced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp. sea salt
about 4 oz. rice milk (can substitute lite coconut milk or water)

Stir fried veggies:
1 Tbsp. refined coconut oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, sliced
2 handfuls green beans, trimmed and cut into 2" pieces
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into 2" strips
2 tomatoes, sliced
a handful of button mushrooms, quartered
3-4 servings of brown rice

Cook rice according to directions.

Meanwhile, process peanut sauce ingredients (except rice milk) in food processor. Add rice milk 1 oz. at a time until desired consistency is reached (a little runnier than ultimately desired, as it will thicken slightly as it cooks). Set aside.

Heat coconut oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Add onions, green beans, and red pepper. Stir fry for 4 minutes. Add mushrooms. Stir fry 1 minute. Turn off heat. Add tomatoes and peanut sauce. Stir until combined and heated through. Serve over rice.

One year ago: cold quinoa salad

Thursday, September 9, 2010

walnut pesto tomatoes and green beans

It is the middle of week #4 of my 4-week cleanse. That's 4 weeks of no sugar, wheat, dairy, or meat. I am feeling fantastic: sleeping better, waking up with more energy, and just feeling generally really fit.

Vegetables continue to be a staple of my diet, although I am eating relatively less of them than last week. Or at least fewer that are raw. Weeks #2 and #3 called for 70% raw fruits and veggies. For this final week, I'm down to 50% raw fruits and vegetables.

This dish combines raw and cooked veggies. I thought it might be a little strange, but ended up being really tasty. Here's what I did:

Walnut Pesto Tomatoes & Green Beans
Serves 2

1 clove garlic, sliced
1/2 c. basil leaves, packed
1/4 c. walnuts
3-4 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 large handful green beans, trimmed

Combine garlic, basil, walnuts, and 2 Tbsp. olive oil in food processor. Process into a thick paste, adding more olive oil if needed to reach desired consistency.

Lightly steam green beans until bright green. Rinse under cool water and divide between two plates. Mix tomatoes with pesto. Top green beans with tomatoes. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

curried carrots

As I sit here writing this, I am eating the tiniest bowl of the tiniest curried carrots. They are tiny because they are from my garden and I am impatient. Rather than wait for them to mature to full size, I thinned my current crop to make room to plant more seeds, which will in turn become carrots that I will likely also pluck from the ground and eat before they grow to full size. True baby carrots.

My garden is evidence of the impending change of seasons: the tomato plant has stopped blooming and the ripening green tomatoes on the vine will be the last ones this year. The bell pepper plant that I put in the ground just a little too late has two tiny peppers on it that probably won't ripen (though if the hot weather we had today continues, it may have a shot). The strawberries are done. Check out the fall crops I planted this past weekend here.

Ok, back to the carrots. This is one of those times that I put together flavors that sounded good and ended up with an awesome result. As is, this would make a great side dish. Or you could turn it into a meal by perhaps adding garbanzo beans and cilantro and serving over rice. Here's what I did (I adjusted the volumes upward to yield normal serving sizes):

Curried Carrots
Serves 2

1 Tbsp. refined coconut oil
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger root, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
4 carrots, sliced diagonally
1 Tbsp. curry powder
1 tsp. agave nectar or honey
the juice of 1/2 lemon

Heat coconut oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger. Saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add carrots. Cook until crisp tender, about 3 minutes. Add curry powder, honey, and lemon juice. Stir and cook 1 minute. Serve hot.

Baby carrots from the garden!

One year ago: homemade granola

Sunday, September 5, 2010

peanut butter granola bars

I find Labor Day to be a bittersweet holiday. Sweet because of the three day break from work. Bitter because it seems to mark the point when people begin referring to summer in the past tense. I find it to be particularly tragic this year, since temperatures have been lower than normal so it doesn't feel like we've had much of a summer. But the weather gods decided to play nice for our long weekend, the fog that covered the area this morning quickly burning off and turning to sunshine by midmorning. Perfect weather for a hike.

Our stop at the market on our way out of town reminded me of a lesson that I know, but every once in a while am sadly reminded of in an unexpected way: sugar is in everything. I recall the initial time this struck me was in the bread aisle shortly after reading Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food, when I started becoming more conscious of the prevalence of high fructose corn syrup in the American diet. I was amazed how difficult it was to find a loaf of bread that did not contain it.

Today's culprit? Granola bars.

I stood in front of the granola bar display this morning reading labels, experiencing a bread-aisle-deja-vu. Apparently, this is the first time I've taken the time to read the label on what I thought would be a healthy bar: Nature's Valley Oats 'N Honey. I had assumed the main ingredients would be oats and honey. Wrong. Ingredient #2 on the list was sugar. This was true of all of the Nature's Valley bars. As well as pretty much every other package I looked at, including the fancy, health promoting individually sold bars on the display at the end of the aisle. Some packages advertised their lack of high fructose corn syrup, and while I will agree that real sugar is an improvement over this corn derivative, refined white sugar is not something I would categorize as healthy.

I finally settled on a box of Kashi Honey Almond Flax bars. They are sweetened with "evaporated cane juice crystals" - still sugar, but in a raw form, which means there is at least a chance some trace minerals and nutrients made their way in. Less refined sugar also tends to be sweeter, which means it's used in lower quantities (evidenced by the fact that it was near the bottom of the ingredient list, so relatively less of it than I was finding of sugar in the other bars).

As I was eating one of the bars mid-hike, I decided that I could make a healthier, tastier version. When we returned home from our hike, I did just that.

A couple pics from our hike on Russian Ridge in the Mid-Peninsula Open Reserve.

My granola bars are sweetened with maple syrup and honey. Yes, these are sugars as well. But they are in their natural state - unrefined - which means that in addition to the inclusion of trace minerals, our bodies react to them differently, absorbing the sugars more slowly and not creating as drastic an insulin spike in response to their consumption.

There is one thing my bars lack that the store bought varieties have: indefinite shelf-life. I'd guess these will last about a week in the fridge in an airtight container (they shouldn't actually go bad, but will probably dry out). I'm going to try wrapping and freezing a few. Then when we find ourselves in need of granola bars for a hike or bike ride, we can grab them from the freezer and should have some thawed out, healthy bars by the time we're ready for them. It definitely beats taking our chances at the grocery store.

Peanut Butter Granola Bars
Makes 12

1 1/4 c. rolled oats
1 1/4 c. unsweetened crisp brown rice cereal
3/4 c. walnuts, chopped
3/4 c. almonds
3/4 c. natural peanut butter
1/2 c. pure maple syrup
1/4 c. honey
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. sea salt

Line an 8x8 baking pan with wax paper. Set aside.

Toast walnuts and almonds in a 350 degree oven for 5-7 minutes, until the walnuts begin to golden in color.

In a medium bowl, mix oats, cereal, and nuts. Set aside.

In a large pot, combine peanut butter, maple syrup, honey, vanilla, and salt. Heat over medium-low heat until smooth and bubbly, about 4 minutes. Add oat mixture and stir well to incorporate. Spread into prepared pan. Refrigerate until cool. Cut into bars.

One year ago: fried green tomatoes

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

another tasty salad

This salad probably doesn't really need a recipe: you can pretty much decipher what it is comprised of from the pic. But just in case, here's what I did:

Fruity Dinner Side Salad with Maple Dressing
Serves 2

1 Tbsp. maple syrup
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 handful spinach
1 handful mesculin mix
1 handful bluberries
1 nectarine, chopped
1 pear, chopped

Mix maple syrup and balsamic in a small bowl.

Combine other ingredients in a large bowl. Toss with maple dressing. Enjoy!
Blog Widget by LinkWithin

Popular Posts