Food

Kale Avocado Wrap Inspired by Anna Gannon

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I found this recipe from Anna Gannon for kale avocado wraps on MindBodyGreen. It’s presented as a lunch recipe, but I made it for dinner one night, along with some Annie’s macaroni and cheese. The sandwich filled my husband up, which is impressive, especially for a meatless meal. Avocado is a wonderful meaty fruit that serves well as a meat substitute. I did, of course, tweak the recipe just a bit, due to what was already in my fridge. The recipe below is for 1 wrap.

Ingredients

1 cup shredded kale (I used fresh kale from our garden; kale gets sweeter after a hard frost and our kale is the last thing standing in our garden this year!)

1 tbsp olive oil (I love California Olive Ranch)

2 tbsp lime juice (or you can use the juice of 1 lime)

1/8 tsp salt (I like Himalayan pink salt)

1 tbsp hummus

1/2 sliced avocado (I used organic)

2 tbsp feta cheese

Wrap (the recipe calls for spinach wraps but I used Flatout Multi-Grain with Flax)

Directions

Mix kale, olive oil, lime juice and salt in a small bowl. Set aside for the second step.

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Shredded kale from our garden!

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The kale mixture

Spread the hummus on the wrap.

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Add the sliced avocado.

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Spoon feta cheese over avocado.

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Add the kale mixture.

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Roll it up and enjoy! It’s a quick meal to whip up around the holidays when you’re short on time. It’s also a nutritious option to help offset all the Christmas cookies I’m eating (ahem). Enjoy!

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Flower Water: Fresh Chamomile Cold Infusion

photo (3)Along with my husband, I’ve made a conscious effort to cut sugary sodas and other drinks out of my diet. Although we’ll occasionally drink Sprite or ginger ale, for the most part we stick with water and tea. Water is the best thing we can drink, and it’s fun to flavor it to help meet hydration goals. We grow herbs that can be used to brew fresh teas such as nettle, lemon balm, and chamomile, and a couple weeks ago discovered the chamomile flowers can be used to flavor water in a cold infusion. Chamomile is easy to grow (in fact, you want to plant it somewhere you don’t mind it spreading), and the cold infusion is a snap to make.

Clip about a 1/4 cup of the chamomile flower heads.

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Put them in a strainer and rinse.

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Pour the flowers into a 32 oz. mason jar.

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Fill the mason jar with water (preferable filtered), and cap.

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Place the mason jar in the refrigerator for 8-12 hours.

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The finished infusion

 

Strain or scoop the flowers from the jar, and enjoy! The slightly sweet and delicate flavor of the water is so refreshing!

You can use the flowers you removed from the mason jar to make hot chamomile tea. Place the flowers in a saucepan, fill the pan with 32 oz. of water, and bring to a boil. The water will begin to change color, and it depends how strong you like your tea, as to when you want to turn off the burner. I then scoop out the flowers to add to our compost pile.

 

 

Buckwheat Peanut Butter Pancakes

Buckwheat peanut butter pancakes topped with organic strawberries and real maple syrup

Buckwheat peanut butter pancakes topped with organic strawberries and real maple syrup

Two winters ago, my husband and I started making our own maple syrup from five trees in our front yard. We keep and freeze some and like to share and give the rest away. As a result, people have asked us for maple syrup recipes. This is the first in what I hope will be a series of recipes involving maple syrup.

Ingredients
1-1/2 cups buckwheat pancake and waffle mix (Bob’s Red Mill is my absolute favorite)

1 egg (lately we’ve been getting farm fresh eggs from Point Farm)

1 Tbsp California Ranch extra-virgin olive oil

3/4 cup cold milk (I used SO Delicious coconut milk, a tasty dairy-free option)

2 Tbsp peanut butter (I love Jif Natural Creamy Peanut Butter Spread)

1 cup (or more to taste) organic strawberries (I try and eat organic strawberries as much as I can, since they’re part of the Dirty Dozen)

Maple syrup (the real stuff) to taste, a generous pour

Directions
Blend mix, egg, oil, milk and peanut butter until just blended. You may need to adjust the batter with more mix or milk if it becomes too thin or thick. Preheat cast iron skillet or griddle with olive or coconut oil. To make pancakes, I scoop batter out of the bowl with a 1/4 cup and pour into the skillet. Cook on medium heat until until you see bubbles in the center and the edges begin to brown. Flip pancake, cook for less than a minute. Stack pancakes on a plate and top with strawberries and maple syrup. Yields about 12 pancakes.

Ahi Tuna with Super Lemony Aioli Sauce

Ahi tuna with super lemony aioli sauce served with tricolor quinoa and winter blend vegetables

Tuna is one of my favorite foods. So much so I have two other tuna recipes on this blog (check out Tuna, Veggie & Cottage Cheese Concoction and Winter Blend Tuna Pasta). As a nursing mother, however, I’m careful to limit my tuna consumption (it’s a smart idea for everyone though).

Today’s recipe comes courtesy off the back of a Bay Prime Ahi Tuna bag. As a modification, I super charged the lemon aioli sauce by using the juice from 1 lemon (about 4 tablespoons) with lemon grass and lemon zest. The original recipe says to use 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and either lemon grass or lemon zest. Warning: my version is not for the faint of heart. Make sure you really like lemon if you choose to make this my way. Otherwise, I’d use the recommended amount of lemon juice and pick one additional lemon ingredient.

Ingredients

1 lb. Bay Prime ahi tuna
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp (or less) sea salt
Lemon Aioli Sauce
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tbsp lemon juice (or the juice of one lemon, about 4 tbsp)
2 tsp fresh basil (my basil hasn’t sprouted yet so I used dried this time around)
1/2 tsp (or less) sea salt
1 tsp lemon grass and/or lemon zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp white pepper
4 cloves garlic, pressed

Directions

Thaw fish. Gently pat with a paper towel to dry. Salt and pepper tuna. Heat olive oil in cast iron skillet on high heat. Once pan is hot, add tuna and sear 2 minutes per side for pink center, or 3 to 4 minutes per side for well done tuna (I like all my meat and fish to be well done).
Lemon Aioli Sauce: Combine yogurt, lemon juice, basil, salt, lemon grass and/or lemon zest, white pepper and garlic. Mix well. Chill in refrigerator for 20 minutes. Scoop on the cooked tuna.

A Protein-Packed Pilaf that’s Not a Side Dish

I suffer from migraines, and along with magnesium supplements I’ve made an effort to eat more foods high in magnesium. I find magnesium-loaded foods to be helpful not only for prevention but to ease the pain during an episode (it may be all in my head, but there’s not one bad thing about a super food like quinoa, my favorite migraine-fighting food). Earlier this week a migraine (thankfully short in duration, about 5 hours) led me to look for a quinoa and red kidney bean recipe. I found this Quinoa and Bean Pilaf recipe on the Food Network and modified it for fun. At first I wanted to prepare it with some lemon pepper chicken, and when I started putting it together realized this is a protein-packed meal all on its own. Below is my version complete with photos. Enjoy, and if you try it would love if you left your thoughts and modifications in the comments.

Ingredients

2 bell peppers, 1 red, 1 yellow (the recipe calls for red and green peppers, and I think this would also be good with orange peppers)
6 scallions, sliced, separate the white and green parts (the recipe calls for 3 scallions but I love them so I went heavy on the scallions, no regrets)
2 stalks celery, sliced (I do not love celery and it’s easy for it to overtake a dish, so I went with the receipe here)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (I only had two cloves, otherwise would’ve used more garlic)
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Kosher salt
1 cup quinoa
2 15-oz. cans of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed (I used organic kidney beans, and you can use black kidney beans if you prefer)
4 cups organic baby spinach (honestly I grabbed 4 handfulls of the stuff)
1/2 cup shredded white mild cheddar cheese (the recipe also suggested pepper jack)
Sriracha sauce (the recipe says its optional, but it tasted bland without it, and any kind of hot sauce really brings all the flavors together. I’m not a hot sauce lovin person, either.)

Directions

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat (I love our cast iron skillet). Add peppers, scallion whites and celery. Cook and stir until soft, which will take about 5 minutes. Add garlic, tomato paste, cayenne and about a half teaspoon of salt (I actually used a little less). Cook and stir for about 2 minutes. Stir in quinoa, then add two cups of water and the kidney beans.
Simmer and cook, and stir often. You want most of the water to be absorbed and for the quinoa to be cooked through (should take about 15 minutes). The recipe suggests adding up to a 1/4 cup more of water if necessary, and I did need to add a little water before the quinoa was completey finished cooking.
Remove the skillet from the heat and add the spinach, then stir until it starts to wilt. The recipe suggests adding 1/2 teaspoon of salt; I went easy here and just added a pinch. Stir in half of the scallion greens and the shredded cheese.
Place individual portions on plates and sprinkle the rest of the scallion greens and cheese on top.
Drizzle with Sriracha sauce and enjoy!

Winter Blend Tuna Pasta

Here’s a quick, easy and healthy recipe to whip up before you head out into the holiday frenzy. The inspiration came from the Tuna Pasta recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks, Energy Food: Energy-Giving Food Solutions to Keep You Fully Charged Throughout the Day, by Beverly le Blanc.

Winter Blend Tuna Pasta

Ingredients

1 package wholewheat pasta (I used penne pasta, my favorite)
1 tbsp olive oil
6 garlic cloves, diced
1 yellow onion, chopped
winter blend of broccoli florets and cauliflower (I bought a frozen blend and steamed them separately)
2 cans chunk white albacore tuna in water, drained and rinsed
juice of two lemons
Himalayan pink salt to taste
black pepper to taste
dried basil leaves to taste (which I would’ve had fresh basil but alas winter is here)

Directions

Cook the pasta according to package directions.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the garlic and onions and stir for a couple of minutes. Add the tuna and flake with a fork, then add lemon juice and pepper. Continue to stir and break up the tuna. Add basil leaves and Himalayan pink salt to taste.
Drain pasta and pour into a large bowl. Add the tuna mixture and steamed vegetables with a bit of olive oil and toss. Add more lemon juice and seasonings if desired.

Catfish with Fresh Herbs & Lemon Juice

Catfish with fresh herbs & lemon juice served with roasted garlic quinoa & steamed cauliflower

I Googled “herbs for catfish” and found the inspiration for today’s recipe post, “Herb-Baked Catfish” on Cooks.com. This recipe calls for dried herbs but I wanted to use fresh herbs from our herb garden. Here’s my version. Today’s featured herbs are:

Thyme

Oregano

Parsley

Basil

Catfish with Fresh Herbs & Lemon Juice

Ingredients

2 catfish fillets
1 medium garlic clove (I used a tbsp. of minced garlic since I didn’t have fresh)
1 tsp. Himalayan pink salt
1/2 tsp. fresh thyme
1/2 tsp. fresh oregano
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. pepper
3/4 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. fresh basil
2 tbsp. lemon juice
Directions
 
Mix minced garlic and melted butter in a small bowl, then spread over the bottom of a glass baking dish. Mix pepper, Himalayan pink salt, paprika, and the fresh thyme, oregano and basil and coat the fish on both sides. Put each fillet on the baking dish on top of the butter and garlic.Squirt the fillets with lemon juice. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until the fish flakes with a fork. Remove fillets onto serving plates, then stick the baking dish back in the oven for 4 minutes. Pour the butter and garlic over each fillet. Makes 2 servings.
The finished fish. Enjoy!

Tuna, Veggie & Cottage Cheese Concoction

 

Tuna, Veggie & Cottage Cheese Concoction wrap garnished with chives & served with (store bought) chick pea salad

I didn’t always enjoy cooking. In fact, cooking used to be a source of stress and anxiety, but it’s become a coping mechanism. My husband loves to cook and I began as a reluctant assistant in the kitchen. He made it fun and taught me things like how to time and pace yourself so all the food is ready around the same time, which eased the stressful parts. I first wrote a food post back in 2009, scrambled eggs and leeks, from a recipe book I still use and love, Energy Food: Energy-Giving Food Solutions to Keep You Fully Charged Throughout the Day, by Beverly le Blanc. 
 
Two other huge reasons I began to cook more were gardening and the Internet. My husband is also an avid gardener, and in the summer of 2012 we grew a garden overrun with yellow nutsedge (long story), but the garden produced the most yield we’d ever seen. We’d pick whatever was available in the garden that day, whether it be eggplant, tomato, zucchini or squash, and we’d Google ingredients, pick a recipe and make it, usually with modifications. We cooked a few food bombs but for the most part, ate healthy, delicious, pesticide and GMO-free food. I’m pretty sure that’s the healthiest eating I’ve ever done in a single summer. I lost 10 pounds and felt more energetic. My digestive system ran like a well-oiled machine. 
 
Along with the health benefits, I started to appreciate and enjoy the art of cooking. I love to chop vegetables (I’m a lot better at using a knife that I used to be, I had/have an irrational fear of knives, another source of anxiety), I love to saute and I love to follow and modify recipes. I used to get anxious if I didn’t measure out ingredients exactly, now I estimate and throw stuff in and add a little of this or that just for fun. In 2012 I made the transformation from horrible, awkward cook to a point where I now feel comfortable referring to myself as a foodie. 
 
Not only did I cook from our garden in 2012, I read two food memoirs that inspired me to want to write about food and cooking. The Irish-Hungarian Guide to the Domestic Arts, by Erin O’Brien, is a laugh-out-loud funny read that weaves recipes and life into a literary tapestry that will make you ponder long after you’ve stopped giggling. I read this book in February 2012.
 
 
In September 2012, my friend Jonathan loaned me Julie Powell‘s Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously, a national bestseller and a movie starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams (every author’s dream, a bestselling book made into a movie). It’s the story of how Julie Powell, almost 30 years old and unhappy in her clerical government job, cooked all 524 recipes from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year, and blogged about the experience in order to reclaim her life. Not only did she reclaim her life, she ended up with a book deal. Jonathan has given me his blessing to keep the book, and I’m so grateful because it’s such an inspiration to me.
 
 
 
In December 2012 I found out I was pregnant with our first child, and after three months of morning sickness my appetite kicked into high gear and I began cooking almost daily, without a vegetable and herb garden (going to the grocery store works just as well). I cooked through the whole spring and now that it’s summer, hit up the Howe Meadow Farmer’s Market on a rather regular basis and have cooked a few dishes with fresh herbs from our new raised bed herb garden. The vegetables are freshly planted, and while I’m no Julia Child, Julie Powell or Erin O’Brien, I figured it’s high time I write some foodie posts on this blog. While they’re in season, I plan to post recipes that feature herbs from our herb garden. If you try any of these receipes please free to modify them however it suits your needs, and I hope you’ll share what you did in the comments section. 
 
The first recipe comes from my mom, who made this for our family on 90 degree summer days in our non-air conditioned house when she didn’t want to use the stove or the oven in the heat and humidity. It’s light, refreshing, hydrating and filling. Today’s featured herbs are flat leaf parsley and dill.
 
Flat leaf parsley and dill
 
Tuna, Veggie & Cottage Cheese Concoction
Ingredients
 
1 cucumber, diced
 
1 red bell pepper, diced
 
i orange bell pepper, diced
 
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 tomato, diced
 
1 can chunk white Albacore tuna in water, drained & rinsed (or whatever kind of tuna you like, I use Starkist)
 
1 24 oz container of cottage cheese (I used Smith’s small curd 4% milk fat)
 
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dill
 
1 teaspoon flat leaf parsley
 
flat bread or pita bread
 
Directions
 
Combine cucumber, red pepper, orange pepper, yellow pepper, tomato, tuna and cottage cheese together in a large bowl. Stir until well mixed. Season with pepper, dill and parsley to taste. 
 
 
The filling all mixed together 
 
Scoop mixture onto flat bread or into pita pockets and serve. 
 
 
 
Roll it up and eat it!
 
Cover bowl and refrigerate leftovers. Can also prepare in advance and chill in fridge before serving. 

A Saturday Morning Post: Scrambled Eggs With Leeks


Every Saturday, my husband Mark and I traditionally wake up and cook a large breakfast, which usually consists of some form of eggs, bacon, wheat toast, coffee (our favorite is KC Coffee), and Tropicana Pure Premium orange juice, No Pulp, Calcium + Vitamin D (which is my pick, Mark indulges my persnickety approach to orange juice. I hate pulp!).

One Saturday in November I decided to try something a little different. I made scrambled eggs with leeks, a recipe pulled from a book called Energy Food: Energy-Giving Food Solutions to Keep You Fully Charged Throughout the Day, by Beverly le Blanc.

I found this book grocery shopping and bought it because I thought it might help me eat foods to keep the hypoglycemia under control. I have what is called mild hypoglycemia. When I eat foods that are high in protein and whole grains, I don’t feel jittery, sweaty, cranky, and clammy. This book is not specifically written for people with hypoglycemia, but it’s the best cookbook I’ve seen to help incorporate foods to keep my blood sugar steady.

Here’s the recipe for Scrambled Eggs With Leeks. It’s simple, delicious, and filling.

Serves 4

8 large eggs (we like brown eggs)
1 tbsp sunflower oil (we use olive oil)
2 tsp butter
1 large leek, trimmed, thinly sliced, rinsed, and patted dry
4 wholewheat muffins, split, toasted, and lightly buttered
salt and pepper
(we use a little sea salt and pepper)

Put the eggs in a bowl and use a fork to whisk together until blended, then set aside.

Heat the oil with half the butter in a large skillet over a medium-high heat until frothy. Reduce the hear to medium, add the leeks, and stir around for about 5 minutes until wilted. Use a slotted spoon to remove the leeks from the skillet and set aside.

Add the remaining butter to the oil in the skillet. Season the eggs to taste with salt and pepper, then pour them into the skillet, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring, for 1-1/2 minutes, or until the eggs begin to set. Return the leeks to the skillet and stir into the eggs until the eggs have reached the desired consistency.

Spoon the eggs and leek mixture over the hot muffins and serve.

YUM!!

This recipe was my first experience with leeks. I love the mild onion-like flavor. After you slice them you can push them up from the middle like a wooden circle tower. It’s also fun to trim them, as Mark displays with his creation, Benton the Rastafarian Leek:

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If you try this recipe, I invite you to tell me your thoughts! If you have your own Saturday traditions or breakfast recipes, please share those too!

Happy Saturday, everyone! I’m off to make some breakfast.