Jun 062013

Hen of the woods, bears head tooth, giant puffballs and the shaggy mane.

They aren’t names of characters in a children’s book – they’re names of edible mushrooms!

Roasted Balsamic Mushrooms and Tomatoes

Roasted Balsamic Mushrooms and Tomatoes

Ever wondered how in the world people identify edible wild mushrooms?

Most of the store-bought mushrooms we eat today are grown on farms in sterilized environments – definitely my suggestion when choosing to nosh on these fanciful little fungi – but how interesting to learn about what folks do in the field when identifying edible mushrooms!

Most mushrooms have small gills under the cap where spores are produced.  These spores are released into the air beneath the mushroom, and are also one of the ways edibles can be identified.  The cap is placed on a white sheet of paper and the color of the spores examined – this is called a spore print. Some other methods that are used include color, odor, habitat and season, and in modern times, microscopically.

My suggestion, should you choose to try your hand at ingesting wild mushrooms, is to take a class on edibles, get a field guide to mushrooms in your area and to learn as much as possible prior to venturing out because eating the wrong type of mushroom can be deadly.  According to the experts- when in doubt throw it out!

There is only one type of mushroom it is VERY important to purchase. And that is the organic mushroom.  Mushrooms are so porous that they readily absorb pesticides, fungicides and any metals or toxins in their environment.  If you are concerned about the pricing of organic mushrooms – try your hand at growing them at home with a fun little box farm! Here is one example. 

Be sure to store your mushrooms in the fridge when you get them home because higher temperatures will result in the loss of nutritional value.  Many mushrooms have immune system boosting and anti-inflammatory properties, high amounts of b-12, and crimini (button) mushrooms in particular are a significant source of CLA, or conjugated linoleic acid, a type of fatty acid that can lessen the production of estrogen that some breast cancer tumors rely on for growth.

As for the taste? Earthy, meaty and a touch sweet with the balsamic vinegar and tomatoes with just the right amount of acidity.

Roasted Balsamic Mushrooms and Tomatoes

Roasted Balsamic Mushrooms and Tomatoes

Roasted Balsamic Mushrooms and Tomatoes

Serves 3
Vegan, Gluten Free
Printable Recipe


1 10oz pkg button mushrooms
2 vine ripe tomatoes
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp oil (I used avocado oil that is heat stable.)
1/8 tsp coarse sea salt
Fresh ground pepper, to taste


1. Preheat oven to 400F.  Wipe mushrooms clean of dirt and slice; slice tomatoes; toss mushrooms and tomatoes in balsamic vinegar, oil, salt and pepper; cook 25 to 30 minutes or until tomatoes and mushrooms are cooked through and caramelized.

Nutrition Facts
3 Servings
Amount Per Serving 

Calories 79.9
Total Fat 5.0 g
Saturated Fat 0.7 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.6 g
Monounsaturated Fat 3.3 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 111.1 mg
Potassium 388.0 mg
Total Carbohydrate 7.6 g
Dietary Fiber 1.6 g
Sugars 1.8 g
Protein 3.3 g

Vitamin A 5.2 %
Vitamin B-12 0.6 %
Vitamin B-6 7.1 %
Vitamin C 10.7 %
Vitamin D 17.9 %
Vitamin E 4.1 %
Calcium 0.5 %
Copper 16.6 %
Folate 5.3 %
Iron 3.9 %
Magnesium 3.3 %
Manganese 4.4 %
Niacin 19.5 %
Pantothenic Acid 15.2 %
Phosphorus 9.0 %
Riboflavin 24.3 %
Selenium 12.2 %
Thiamin 7.3 %
Zinc 3.5 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

May 192012
Pattypan squash is what is known as a summer squash – all parts of it are edible, including the skin and seeds. There are TONS of benefits from eating this delicious squash. It’s full of vitamin C and A and specific antioxidants that are wonderful protection for macular degeneration and cataracts. It is great for regulating blood sugar due to the large supply of many B-complex vitamins.
Summer squash has anti-inflammatory benefits and provides excellent prostate health support. There are even anti-cancer properties due to the mixture of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that neutralize oxidative stress.
Summer squashes are among a family of plants called Cucurbitaceae and their relatives are cucumbers, winter squashes like pumpkins and melons, such as watermelons!
Of course, the best and most nutritious way to eat these little guys is raw.  I have an awesome Veggie Pasta Salad – perfect for a pot luck – that uses these squashes raw.  In fact, I think I need to do a recipe re-do as that was one of my favs. 
Steaming is the best way to cook summer squashes for maximum nutrient preservation.  There is new evidence that the squashes still retain many of their antioxidants after steaming.  In this case I grilled them, however, the cook time is still short and we don’t have water leaching the nutrients so I consider this the second best method of preparation.
For both zucchini and squash the best way to preserve if you have a huge abundance is to slice and “steam blanch” or quick steam for about three minutes, and then freeze on parchment paper on trays in the freezer and then place into freezer safe bags, pressing as much as the air out as possible. They will loose their firm texture once thawed; however, they will still retain most of their antioxidants.
Do keep in mind that summer squashes are high in oxalates.   High concentrations of oxalates in the body MAY contribute to kidney stones, so be sure to vary the veggies in your diet.   A CSA/Farm share is the PERFECT way to do this as you will get a much wider variety of veggies than you would normally buy.  
I have read that the best way to store these squashes is in a airtight container in the fridge, however, if you get them from KYV farm please keep them on the counter. They will last MUCH longer.   I found that in the fridge they will begin to get soft and grow little pits whereas on the counter they stay smooth and firm.


As for the interesting history of summer squashes, scientists found the seeds preserved in Mexican caves for over 10,000 years.  All the way back then people were already cultivating these veggies!
For anyone on a meatless diet, this is an awesome recipe for when you’re craving something heartier.  The bacon tempeh was surprisingly similar to the taste of bacon-though not the texture.  The texture is  a bit softer; however, grilling gives it that crisp outside that I missed when giving up bacon.  I used quinoa as a replacement for a grain, it is mild and a tad nutty and, since it is a seed, very high in protein-making this dish even more filling and satisfying.  The onions are super sweet when grilled and the squashes make for a perfect appetizer for a party or vegan option for a cookout.

 Grilled Pattypan Squash Stuffed with Bacon Tempeh, Quinoa, Vegan Cheese and Onions

Serves 4
Vegan, Gluten Free


4 pattypan squash
1 package bacon tempeh
1 cup cooked quinoa
½ cup shredded vegan cheese
2 onions
Cajun Seasoning, to taste

Splash of balsamic vinegar
Parsley to garnish


1. Preheat grill to medium high. Cut pattypan squash width-wise through the center and slice onions; spray veggies and tempeh with cooking spray; place on grill. Cook until outsides of squash and onions char, about 5 minutes, turn and grill an additional 5 minutes or until center of squash is soft.

2. Once tempeh is heated through, remove from grill and place in a medium bowl with quinoa and cheese; mix well. Remove squash and onions from grill; scoop centers of squash out and mix with tempeh mixture. Chop onions and mix in as well. Stuff mixture into hollowed out squash.

Nutrition Facts
4 Servings
Amount Per Serving

Calories 247.4
Total Fat 5.3 g
Saturated Fat 1.3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.0 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 369.3 mg
Potassium 361.1 mg
Total Carbohydrate 34.1 g
Dietary Fiber 8.0 g
Sugars 6.5 g
Protein 13.7 g

Vitamin A 0.0 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 2.0 %
Vitamin C 49.0 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 0.2 %
Calcium 37.0 %
Copper 1.1 %
Folate 1.7 %
Iron 17.0 %
Magnesium 17.8 %
Manganese 2.4 %
Niacin 1.5 %
Pantothenic Acid 0.4 %
Phosphorus 53.0 %
Riboflavin 42.9 %
Selenium 0.3 %
Thiamin 1.0 %
Zinc 0.9 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

**Post information sourced from Worlds Healthiest Foods

Mar 142012

Welcome to Wine Down Wednesday where I will feature some lovely wine pairings with a vegan dish – in this post, Garlic Balsamic Mushroom Pasta. This all came about a few weeks ago when my friend Gregg and fellow yogi (who also happens, lucky for me, to be the VP – Director of Sales for Broadbent Selections) approached me with a suggestion to do a wine pairing.

Here he is with Adi, the wine maker of the Chenin Blanc.
Gregg is the one in the white.

I was excited about this prospect as I rarely see wine pairing suggestions with anything other than meats or seafood -what a unique opportunity to offer an alternative!

Going into a wine shop can be overwhelming because of the numerous wine regions and the multitude of grape varietals.  While I’m no expert, I’m thrilled to learn more about wine. It will be nice to take this in small bites of two-at-a-time learning about the background of each wine to give it more depth in my mind. This informal section will post several Wednesdays a month.
Thanks Gregg!
  The selection suggestions for this dish are as follows:
BADENHORST ‘Secateurs’ Chenin Blanc 2011,
(Swartland, South Afria)
The proprietors, Hein and Adi Badenhorst, make the wine as naturally and biologically as possible.  The vines are un-irrigated and are grown from vines planted in the early 60’s. 

Chateau Musar Jeune Rouge, (Bekaa Valley, Lebanon).  In Lebanon, this wine is known as Cuvee Rouge and it is a blend of grapes; Cinsaut, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.  It’s all organic and has only a tiny trace of sulphites. 

The Categories
Category #1 – How well my dish turned out.
Category #2 – How well I (and fellow tasters) like the wine.
Category #3 – Pairing notes – How well each wine pairs with the dish.
Official Wine Rating Scale
Bleck -This wine is pretty bad.
Ho Hum- I would drink it if I was at a football game and there was nothing else in the cooler.
Nice -Good table wine. I would keep this in the wine cooler if it was a good value.
Yum – This is good, I would pay a fair bit more and have it for a special occasion.
Damn that’s Good – Self explanatory.
** We will use the same terminology for how the dish turned out and how well it paired.

Category #1 – The dish
Balsamic Garlic Mushrooms over Pasta
Rating of Damn that’s Good.  If I do say so myself.

This dish couldn’t have turned out better and is going under “favorites”. It had a great balance of flavor – tart, salty, sweet and aromatic. I preferred the mixed mushrooms as they had a bit more bite than the portabellas I tried this with first. The key is definitely the little dash of agave or honey. You don’t really know it’s there but it brings out the sweetness of the balsamic.

Category #2 – The wines

BADENHORST ‘Secateurs’ Chenin Blanc 2011, ( Swartland, South Africa)
Rating of YUM.
It was light and refreshing.  It reminded me of peaches and sweetness but without the sweetness, if that makes any sense.  It was nice and dry – just like I like it!
The Chateau Musar Jeune Rouge
Also Rating of YUM; however, two of the others that tried this gave it a Damn that’s Good.
Possibly because it was red I was thinking berries more than peach.  It had a bit more body than the white without being heavy. Interestingly this wine is similar to the chenin as far as being a dry wine with the perception of sweetness.
Category #3 – The pairing notes

The rating for the pairing on both wines gets a Damn that’s Good.  It was interesting how the two wines paired with this dish. I loved the meatiness of the mushrooms with the Jeune Rouge and the sweet/tart balsamic with the Chenin Blanc. Lip smakin’ good.

Since half the group really loved the red I would probably serve this dish with the Jeune Rouge but if it was just me I would go with the Chenin Blanc. I prefer dry to semi dry white wine because it seems to just go with the warmer weather in Florida.

Where to buy

All the wines will be for sale locally at the Grotto in San Marco. You can contact Mitch Woodlief, grottomitch@aol.com with questions and pricing and anyone outside the Greater Jacksonville area can contact E-MAIL: info@broadbent.com PHONE: US +1 415-931-1725.


Garlic Balsamic Mushroom Pasta
Inspired by Mushroom Stroganoff, E2 Diet
Serves 2-4
Vegan, Gluten Free, Dairy Free
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
10 oz mixed mushrooms, I used Woodstock Farms Organic Frozen (or any mushrooms you like)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tsp agave or honey for non-vegan
Coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
4oz Fettuccini, I used Tinkyada Brown Rice
Chives for garnish, optional
1. Heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Add onions and cook about 5 minutes, lower heat, add garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes; add mushrooms, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper.  Simmer about 20 minutes or until balsamic vinegar has cooked down to a sauce.
2. Meanwhile cook pasta to package directions.
3. Divide pasta and mushroom mixture over four bowls, garnish with chives.  Serve with BADENHORST ‘Secateurs’ Chenin Blanc 2011, (Swartland, South Africa) or CHATEAU MUSAR Jeune Rouge 2009, (Bekaa Valley, Lebanon).
Nutrition Facts
4 Servings

Amount Per Serving

Calories 263.7
Total Fat 13.8 g
Saturated Fat 2.1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.2 g
Monounsaturated Fat 10.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 54.9 mg
Potassium 304.8 mg
Total Carbohydrate 29.7 g
Dietary Fiber 2.2 g
Sugars 3.5 g
Protein 4.5 g

Vitamin B-12 0.5 %
Vitamin B-6 5.6 %
Vitamin C 5.1 %
Vitamin D 13.5 %
Vitamin E 8.9 %
Calcium 0.7 %
Copper 12.0 %
Folate 3.7 %
Iron 4.7 %
Magnesium 2.1 %
Manganese 3.6 %
Niacin 21.4 %
Pantothenic Acid 11.0 %
Phosphorus 6.8 %
Riboflavin 17.7 %
Selenium 9.4 %
Thiamin 12.4 %
Zinc 2.8 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs. Pin It

Feb 102012
Just a few veggie photos from today’s CSA first.  Too gorgeous not to share.

My simple salad recipe. 
Press and marinate the tofu a day or so ahead and have it ready in your fridge when you’re pressed for time.

I once heard a critique of Rachel Ray that she simply re-edits her recipes rather than creating lots of originals, and is mainly an entertainer as opposed to a teacher.

Rachel Ray and I have something in common-I’m definitely no Martha Stewart either.  We take our favorite simple recipes and remake them.  I always have grand plans to make something original from-scratch, but then life seems to get in the way.

I left work five minutes later and it took me 45 minutes instead of 25 minutes to get home from work.  By that point everyone was really starving, so I threw together this salad.

I promise to post the casserole dish using the caramelized onion sauce soon.

Pinky swear.

Today’s world is so busy that I’m sure many of you are short on time just like me, hopefully you won’t mind if I pull a Rachel Ray and remake something similar to what I’ve done in the past.  Consider it fast food made from Slow Foods!

I got the spinach and tomato from my farm and whipped up some of my favorite oil-free 3-2-1 dressing, inspired from the Forks Over Knives companion book.  (If you don’t have it, buy it! The recipes are fabulous.)  Instead of making the marinade, I used a quality pre-made one, which shaved an additional few minutes.  In the time it would have taken for me to drive to a restaurant and go through the drive-thru, I had made a delicious meal at home. 

Island Teriyaki Salad with Fresh Spinach, Tomato and
Balsamic-Mustard-Maple Dressing
Serves 4
Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan
1 block Organic firm tofu
1 cup organic Island Teriyaki marinade, I used OrganicVille (or marinade of choice)
8 cups fresh spinach, chopped
4 plum tomatoes, sliced and quartered
1/2 sweet onion, sliced thinly
Coarse sea salt and Fresh ground pepper, to taste
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp coarse mustard
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1. Press tofu of water for 1 hour to overnight.  See how here. 
2. Cut tofu into cubes; pour marinade over and place in refrigerator overnight.
3. Preheat broiler; place tofu cubes on pan prepared with non-stick spray.  Broil about 20 minutes, turning cubes every five to 7 minutes to brown all sides evenly.
4. Meanwhile, mix dressing.
5. Place 2 cups spinach on each of 4 plates, top with 1 chopped tomato and 1/4th of onion.  Divide tofu evenly among plates.  Divide dressing evenly over plates.
Estimated Nutrition Info
4 Servings

Amount Per Serving

Calories 150.3
Total Fat 8.3 g
Saturated Fat 1.1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4.2 g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.7 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 511.7 mg
Potassium 707.5 mg
Total Carbohydrate 20.2 g
Dietary Fiber 4.4 g
Sugars 7.2 g
Protein 15.5 g

Vitamin A 123.1 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 13.1 %
Vitamin C 40.5 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 7.6 %
Calcium 62.8 %
Copper 22.6 %
Folate 38.1 %
Iron 23.8 %
Magnesium 26.6 %
Manganese 88.3 %
Niacin 5.9 %
Pantothenic Acid 3.4 %
Phosphorus 20.9 %
Riboflavin 13.6 %
Selenium 25.4 %
Thiamin 14.8 %
Zinc 12.8 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Sep 122011
I do believe I have discovered the dressing secret of my favorite salad at Mandaloun Mediterranean.  It is tart, tangy, sweet perfection and I think I figured it out by accident.  On a whim, while at the St Augustine Farmers Market I decided I would make a version of the fattoush salad with the organic kale I had just bought.  I got all the fresh herbs I would need, twice-baked my own pita chips for superb crunch, ruby red tomatoes, red onion instead of radish and Forks Over Knives 3-2-1 dressing recipe of 3 Tbsp vinegar, 2 Tbsp mustard and 1 Tbsp sweetener of choice (now my favorite oil-free dressing). 
How did I discover the secret of the dressing you ask? (Especially when theirs is laden with so much oil, as restaurants are known to do, and I have failed at my fattoush attempts in the past.)
I decided to try a reduction with the 3-2-1 dressing and when I tasted it, I knew I had hit gold.
It is almost an exact match, but oil free; tart, tangy, sweet and rich.  Oh baby it is SOOO good.  I was dipping kale leaves in and munching like they were potato chips.
Here is what I did.
Crunchy Kale Fattoush
Salad inspired by Mandaloun Mediterranean and dressing inspired by Forks Over Knives 3-2-1 dressing pp.118
Serves 4-5
1 bunch curly kale, washed and de-stemmed**
1 bunch fresh mint
1 bunch fresh parsley
1 bunch fresh oregano
1/2 red onion
2 large tomatoes, seeded
1 15oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed or about 1 1/5 cups cooked
1 cup pita chips, (bake your own from fresh pita*** or use Stacy’s Pita Chips)
6 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp mustard
1 1/2 Tbsp maple syrup
1. Heat the vinegar, mustard and syrup in a small pan to just boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring regularly, until reduced by half and has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and cool.
2. Meanwhile, chop kale and set in a large bowl. De-stem and chop mint, parsley and oregano finely and set aside (do not mix in with kale yet).  Chop onion and tomato and set with herbs.
3. Once balsamic mixture has cooled, pour over kale and massage in until it begins to wilt a bit; about 30 seconds.  Add herbs, onion, tomato and chickpeas; season with salt and pepper, toss salad to mix.  Top with pita chips.
**Romaine can be used in place of the spinach; do not massage dressing in first.  Add all ingredients together except pita chips and toss to mix.  Add pita chips and serve.
***To bake your own pita chips, preheat oven to 250F, cut edges from pita and separate sides.  Spray with cooking spray and lay rounds directly on oven racks, start checking at 10 minutes as different areas of the oven may brown faster, remove from oven, break up, season, place on tray and re-bake 3 minutes or until super crunchy.  Keep a close eye so they don’t burn.
Nutrition Information
5 Salads (Including 4 oz Stacy Pita Chips)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 281.4
Total Fat 5.7 g
Saturated Fat 0.6 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.8 g
Monounsaturated Fat 3.5 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 483.6 mg
Potassium 618.3 mg
Total Carbohydrate 50.5 g
Dietary Fiber 8.1 g
Sugars 6.4 g
Protein 9.7 g
Vitamin A 446.6 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 30.4 %
Vitamin C 140.5 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 7.6 %
Calcium 15.6 %
Copper 20.8 %
Folate 19.5 %
Iron 21.3 %
Magnesium 14.1 %
Manganese 67.4 %
Niacin 6.0 %
Pantothenic Acid     4.3 %
Phosphorus     12.4 %
Riboflavin 9.4 %
Selenium 5.3 %
Thiamin 9.2 %
Zinc 9.7 %
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Jul 202011
Before I am off to go camping once again I have resolution for those of you trying to figure out what to do with all those fresh figs off your fig tree.  Make fig chutney!
This chutney has some really nice layers I think you will like. Sweetness from the figs, raisins, agave and sweet caramelized onion, savory mustard, tangy balsamic and the clean finish of the hint of lemon.  This is perfect for toast or as dressing for a soon-to-be posted kale salad that came out so well I totally forgot I’m supposed to be missing meat and cheese right now.  I’m sure it’s going to hit soon though.

Florida Coastal Fresh Fig Chutney

Inspired by Emeril
Vegan, Naturally Sugar Free


1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 lb fresh figs, chopped
1 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup water
2/3 cup agave
1/3 tsp sea salt
3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup raisins and 1/4 mixed chopped dried fruit such as dates and apricots (or 1/2 cup raisins)
Zest of 1/2 lemon 


1. Spray a medium sauce pan with olive oil spray and heat over medium high heat.  Sauté onion about five minutes or just until translucent;  add figs, balsamic vinegar, water, agave, salt, mustard, raisins and dried fruit; reduce heat and simmer about 3 hours, stirring every now and then. 

2. Using an immersion blender, puree the mixture to smooth the consistency (or for a chunkier consistency simply skip this step).

3. Stir in lemon zest.  Let cool and store in refrigerator.

Jul 142011
I don’t know about you, but I loathe unloading the dishwasher.  It was so horrible that until recently would actually hand wash the dishes in the sink rather than unload the dishwasher.  Why the avoidance?  Because I had about 300 different plastic containers shoved in the “plastic container cabinet” with mismatched lids, brands and sizes.  It took about 30 minutes to try and figure out where the heck they fit and in the end I just shoved them all in and closed the door really fast in the hopes that when the door was reopened it wasn’t my hubby that opened it.  He is a teensy bit OCD when it comes to disorganization.  The you-know-what finally hit the fan when he opened the cabinet door to clean up after dinner and the mismatched plastic containers came out in a festive avalanche of colors and sizes.  He did not look very festive.
In the spirit of organization, I got rid of all the mismatched sets (for the second time) and bought glass containers in the hopes that any stray plastic one would make it back to it’s rightful owner and I wouldn’t be tempted to lazily stuff it in with my past menagerie.
As a bonus…I save 27 minutes putting the dishes away as there are quite a few less.
And as another bonus…they are cute.  Cute storage-ware is a must.
Now for the star of this post.  The salad.
I. Love. This. Salad.

When the barley with peanut butter pressed into it mingles in with the super sweet raisins and the crisp apples, it’s like a peanut butter and jelly party in my mouth.
Besides that, I’ve decided that barley is now my favorite grain.  This was a major decision, let me tell ya.  Rice was in the running and quinoa is technically a seed so that was out. Sorry quinoa. I know you were trying to fool everyone by calling yourself an “ancient grain”.  So barley it is.  I think it’s the hearty chewiness that makes it so satisfying.  Hopefully you all agree.
What is your favorite grain? Do you use plastic or glass storage containers?  What are your thoughts on cute storage-ware?  J
My lunch today

Peanut Butter, Barley, Apple, Raisin Salad

Serves 1


1/3 cup cooked pearled barley
1 Tbsp peanut butter
2 Tbsp raisins
1 small apple, chopped
2 cups fresh baby spinach
1 tsp ground flax (or sub your 2 Tbsp Mila here!)
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Dash of coarse sea salt


1. Press the peanut butter into the barley until it is mixed well; mix evenly through the spinach.  Toss the remaining ingredients together.

Nutrition Facts

1 Serving
Amount Per Serving

Calories 305.6
Total Fat 9.6 g
Saturated Fat 1.2 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.9 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.2 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 211.0 mg
Potassium 645.2 mg
Total Carbohydrate 48.6 g
Dietary Fiber 8.2 g
Sugars 12.1 g
Protein 7.0 g

Vitamin A 113.7 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 13.3 %
Vitamin C 39.2 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 8.1 %
Calcium 8.4 %
Copper 11.4 %
Folate 31.9 %
Iron 18.3 %
Magnesium 17.3 %
Manganese 38.2 %
Niacin 8.2 %
Pantothenic Acid 1.7 %
Phosphorus 8.0 %
Riboflavin 10.2 %
Selenium 7.3 %
Thiamin 8.8 %
Zinc 5.3 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Jun 232011
If you could come back in a second life as a vegetable what would you be?

For some reason this was a question that my dad and I would discuss on a fairly regular basis.

Now that I’m actually writing this I’m wondering if we are of sound mind.

Regardless, at first he said garlic, but later he began to lean towards onion.  Yes definitely onion now.  Garlic is more pungent and onion more mellow.
I’m inclined to agree with the onion decision.  Although, then again possibly a jalapeno?  I don’t use them as much but I love the heat of those little guys; and I do consider myself pretty spicy.  Eggplant?  Eggplant is amazing simply grilled with olive oil and seasoning and it’s perfect in so many Indian dishes that I crave.  But, then again, when it comes down to it the onion is so versatile and…delicious.  It can be slowly cooked over low heat and caramelized to almost a dessert, grilled to add a charred and smoky flavor, eaten raw over fresh salads or turned into dressing. Like this creamy sweet onion balsamic.  It is actually really light but the pureed onion makes it seem creamy.  This was one of the favorites at a recent pot luck I brought it to.

Creamy Sweet Onion Balsamic Dressing

6 2-Tbsp Servings


1 clove garlic, pressed
1/4 diced sweet onion
1/4 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp coarse ground mustard
2 Tbsp honey
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper


1. Blend all ingredients in a small blender or magic bullet.

Nutrition Facts

6 2-Tbsp Servings
Amount Per Serving

Calories 114.2
Total Fat 9.2 g
Saturated Fat 1.2 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.8 g
Monounsaturated Fat 6.7 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 108.4 mg
Potassium 24.2 mg
Total Carbohydrate 8.3 g
Dietary Fiber 0.3 g
Sugars 7.1 g
Protein 0.3 g

Aug 032010
Saturday we had a cookout at my friend Justine’s new place at the beach.  I’m so happy for her as they are close enough to ride bikes to the beach and her mom and aunt live less than five minutes away. 
My assignment for the cookout was to make the salad.  Originally I was thinking pasta salad but then I thought of Panzanella and started grazing in foodgawker
Panzanella is an Italian salad typically made with day old bread, fresh veggies, herbs, vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.  There are so many possibilities!
 The one I came across was the grilled panzanella from Food o’ del Mundo.  If you know me, I love grilling veggies, so this was right up my alley!
I prepped all the veggies at home.  (I didn’t actually use ALL this corn)
Nabbed two multigrain baguetts.
Some gorgeous baby arugula.
Fresh basil, of course.
And some parsley.
On to the grill the veggies went.
The dressing was mixed up with half olive oil and half of this seasoned dipping oil from Williams Sonoma.
When we got to Justine’s I cut up the mozzarella. 
Oops.  I bought the kind that comes in a roll.
The boys were outside grilling and of course my little one wanted in on the action.
Here is my amazing dinner.  Fish, red beans and quinoa and grilled veggie Panzanella.
I must say, each bite was even better than the next.  I’ll definitely make the fish and the red beans and quinoa again as well as the Panzanella!
All the fresh ingredients with the balsamic dressing was pure perfection.
Just look at the big chunks of crunchy grilled bread.
Perfect for soaking up all the delicious dressing!
Grilled Vegetable Panzanella with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Serves 10


2 loaves multigrain bread, sliced, sprayed with olive oil, seasoned with garlic powder, salt and pepper
6 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced

1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 large red onion, peeled and quartered
1/2 Cup Kalamata Olives 
1 8 oz package baby bella mushrooms
4 ears of bi color corn
2 bell peppers one Red and one Green
2 squash, sliced lengthwise
2 zucchini, sliced lengthwise
Handful fresh basil, chopped

Handful fresh parsley, chopped
Olive oil cooking spray
Coarse ground salt and fresh ground pepper
Garlic powder


1/8 cup olive oil
1/8 cup seasoned olive oil (or sub with regular olive oil)
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 good quality balsamic vinegar or balsamic reduction
2 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp honey
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper


1. Preheat grill to medium high heat and spray veggies on all sides with cooking spray.  Season with garlic powder, salt and pepper.

2. Grill veggies for 7 to 10 minutes, flip and grill an additional 7 or so minutes.  Remove from grill, cool and slice into bite size pieces.

3. Whisk dressing together as veggies cook.

4. Add sliced bread to grill.  Grill until just browning, about 5 minutes, turn and brown other side.  Remove from grill and cut each slice into quarters.

5. Layer arugula, veggies, fresh herbs, mozzarella, olives and dressing.  Add grilled bread and toss to coat.  Serve immediately.