Thursday, April 25, 2013

2013 Dirty Dozen

I try to eat mostly organic. I think about where my food comes from. I avoid eating and cooking with wheat. I especially pay attention to where meat comes from. We have a garden, shop at the farmer's market when available, and live on a street book-ended by two local grocers. I cook in big batches, but eat it all week. We use everything. I know that eating ALL organic ALL the time is hard. It is expensive. The Dirty Dozen is a list that I try to memorize, and try to buy organic when at all possible. (Costco has done a great job lately of having organic produce. With new items increasing. Thank you Costco!)
 I like that there is a clean 15 list, so that during months when it is a little tight, or things are out of season- I can buy non-orgainc things from that list and feel ok that I am not totally poising myself with my 'healthy' foods. 

Below is the 2013 Dirty Dozen list- with Apples at the top. (Perhaps we should update the old 'An apple a day' saying....)


Bell Peppers
Cherry Tomatoes
Hot Peppers

This list was released by the EWG (Environmental Working Group). The above fruits and veggies are the highest in pesticide residue- even AFTER washing them! (read: It is important to buy the above fruits and veggies organic). 
Huffington Post, where I got this information, also released the 2013 'Clean 15' list. See below for the cleanest 15 veggies and produce:
Frozen Sweet Peas
Sweet Potatoes

I still have my qualms about GMO corn, and GMO everything really. But for me, the above list is really nice to have to reference, for when organic is not a viable option. 
I get mango, asparagus, avocado, cantaloupe and frozen sweet peas in bulk at Costco. If they start to turn, I freeze them (the fruits) and use them in smoothies. 
Here's a great salad recipe, that calls for asparagus and avocado- buying in bulk sometimes forces you to have a mass cooking of veggies, and this salad would be perfect for getting rid of those ones who are on the edge. So good!

Eat healthy, be happy. 


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Thai Peanut Rice Noodle Salad

Last night I made a super yummy Thai Peanut Rice Noodle Salad for dinner. I put the leftovers in jars, layering them sauce, noodles, tofu and veggie, in that order, top to bottom, for lunch the next few days. I was in a hurry to make dinner, so, didn't take exact measurements. (i posted this pic on Instagram... and was asked for the recipe- SO...) The measurements are guesstimates, and vary according to taste. Below is a basic guide to re-creating this dish. It is really, really good. 

tofu. + veggies.
1 8oz. package extra firm tofu (drained, cubed)
2 tbsp brown rice flour
sesame oil (about 3 tbsp.)
1 large red pepper, stemmed and seeded, sliced super thin
2 long broccoli stems, peeled and shredded
2 carrots, peeled and shredded
1 package rice noodles (prepared according to package directions- which is usually to submerge them in almost boiling water for 5+ minutes and then drain- do not boil. It will turn them into goo. Then, I drizzled them with a tiny bit of Bragg's liquid Aminos and sesame oil, to prevent sticking.)

Thai Peanut Sauce.- (again, this is a guesstimate- add stuff, taste it, adjust. No worries :)
2/3 cup natural peanut butter (I used Adam's Chunky)
1 tbsp-ish raw coconut vinegar (or rice vinegar- I had coconut so used that)
a few dashes lime juice- fresh if available
a drizzle or so of sesame oil
1/2 tbsp. Sriracha (i used more... we like spicy :)
2-3 tbsp. Bragg's Liquid Amino Acid (or gluten free soy sauce, or soy sauce if you aren't GF)
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 tbsp raw local honey (or any honey, or Agave)
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
(water, to thin to desired consistency, if needed)
Garnish (optional) toasted chopped peanuts, cilantro, lime wedges


Heat a few tablespoons of the sesame oil over med/high heat in a wok or heavy bottomed skillet. While it is coming to temp., squeeze the tofu chunks in a kitchen towel, not too hard, just to remove excess water. Sprinkle/toss with the rice flour. remove excess flour.
Add the tofu to the oil.
Let fry for 3 minutes, undisturbed. Toss. Leave another 3 minutes or so. Repeat process, until tofu is golden brown on all sides. Remove to a paper towel to soak up extra oil. Reserve.

Put water in a medium sized pan, bring almost to a boil. (until little bubbles form on the bottom.) Remove from heat, add rice noodles, cover. (set a timer for 5 minutes, check consistency. If they are tender but still have a little snap, they are ready. If they are chewy, keep in water covered off the heat, for another few minutes.) Once to desired consistency, rinse with cold water and very lightly drizzle with Braggs and sesame oil. 

Add all sauce ingredients except water and garnish. Whisk, adding water until creamy. You could put them all in a food processor, but I just whisked it in a bowl and it was fine. Reserve.

Layer in bowls (or jars), noodles, sauce, tofu (which is fine still warm if eating right away)- top with veggies (and garnish, if using.)


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Honey Almond Cake

This cake is so moist and delicious. I served it with honey drizzled Greek yogurt and sliced almonds on top. It would be great with fresh fruit as well. Perfect with tea in the afternoon, it is light and not too sweet. You'd never know it was gluten free!

1 3/4 c. almond meal (i used bob's red mill) (OR 1 1/2 cup(s) whole almonds, toasted)
4 large eggs, at room temperature separated 

1/2 cup honey (preferrably local- I get mine here)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

(Optional- Greek yogurt, sliced almonds and honey for serving)


Preheat oven to 350.
If you are using whole almonds, spread them out on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven, stirring once, for about 15 minutes. They will become fragrant and lightly browned. (if using almond meal, skip this step)

While the almonds are in the oven- prep a 9 inch springform pan. Use the bottom of the pan to draw a circle on the parchment paper, then cut it out with scissors. Spray the pan with cooking spray, place the parchment paper in the bottom (with your marks down if you didn't cut them off), and spray the parchment paper too.

Once the almonds are toasted, remove them and let them cool. Once they are cooled down, process them in a food processor until finely ground. Reserve.

Separate the eggs. 4 egg yolks in one bowl, and the whites in another.

In the stand of a kitchen aid mixer (or using a hand mixer if you don't have one), combine 1/2 cup honey, vanilla, baking soda, and salt in using the paddle attachment on medium speed until well combined. Add the ground almonds and beat on low until combined.

Transfer the almond/honey mixture to another bowl and reserve. Clean out the KitchenAid bowl, and return to stand. Change the attachment to the whisk (from the paddle). Add the egg whites and beat over medium speed until the whites have doubled in size and are super shiny and foamy. DO NOT let them begin to form smooth, stiff peaks. 

(This could cause your cake to sink in the middle after you bake it. Also, it actually is important to make sure your eggs are room temperature. It has to do with science... something about the proteins ... I usually put them (in their shells, obvs), in my bra. No kidding. Body temperature=warm those eggs right up!... 4 might be a little hard to handle though... or maybe you aren't wearing a bra. Or maybe you are a dude. Anyway, you could also submerge them (in their shells) in a bowl of lukewarm water for a few minutes. Whatever you prefer.)

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the whites into the yolk/honey/almond mixture. 
Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan. 
Bake 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the middle. 

Wait 8-10 minutes before doing anything. Really. 

The cake should have pulled away from the sides when baking. If it didn't, run a knife along the edges to loosen. Undo the sides of the pan.  Let the cake cool completely.

Once cool, invert onto a plate and remove the parchment paper and the bottom of the pan. Then, invert again onto a cake stand.

Serve with sliced almonds and greek yogurt drizzled with honey. And tea


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Beet and Apple Soup

This is really, really simple. And healthy. And delicious.
It tastes like beets and apples, and has a little tang, a little sweet, and a little savory.

1 large red onion, chopped
5 medium beets, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 apple, cut into one inch pieces
2 cloves of garlic
4-5 cups of water (could use veggie or chicken broth. I used water.)
2 tbsp. cider vinegar (I prefer Braggs organic)
1 tbsp. honey
(this would be amazing with goat cheese crumbled into it... wait, isn't everything? I didn't have any. But will next time.)
1 tbsp. evoo

drizzle the evoo into a pan heated over medium high heat.
add onion, cook until soft. 
add beets and apple, cook 5 min.
add garlic. cook 30 seconds.
add in water. 
add vinegar and honey.
simmer 5 minutes.

transfer to a VitaMix. If you dont have a vitamix, you could use an immersion blender, regular blender, or food processor. (when blending hot things. make sure that you have the lid or plunger or whatever cracked so that the steam can escape. Otherwise, boom goes the dynamite. or beet soup, rather.)
Give it a taste test for spice, consistency, salt/pepper/ etc.
Tweak as you'd like.

Serve with fresh cracked black pepper and sea salt to taste.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Caprese Potato Salad

I've made this super delicious, extremely simple potato salad a few times lately. It changes every time, but below are some simple guidelines for a really excellent side or main dish (I like it served over fresh salad greens or baby kale as a lunch salad). I took it to a potluck and it was  a total hit- with several recipe requests. Well, here ya go!

Caprese Potato Salad.


6-8 medium large red skinned potatoes- peeled, diced and boiled al dente.
4 scallions, ends trimmed off and thinly sliced
3 handfuls of cherry tomatoes, halved
4 heaping tablespoons prepared pesto
2/3 cup fresh mozzarella (I just tore it off of a bigger chunk, but you could dice it or use those small, fresh mozzarella balls- whatever you've got on hand)
EVOO, salt and pepper to taste


Boil the potatoes and rinse  in cold water- let cool almost completely. (If you want to expediate this cooling process, after you rinse them, spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet and put them in the 'fridge to cool.)

Meanwhile, chop the scallions and half the tomatoes. Reserve. Tear the mozzarella and add it to the tomatoes/onions. 

Once the potatoes are cooled, drizzle with EVOO and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. 
Add the potatoes to a large bowl. 
Add the onions, tomatoes, mozzarella and pesto. Toss until evenly coated. 
Taste- add S&P as needed. 

(Excellent to make ahead- just might have to add a little olive oil and re-toss before serving.)