Jan 032012
 

Goodbye 2011, you were a good year. 
Let’s see…..I gave up meat and most dairy (that is a work in progress), hosted a farm to table dinner and held a Free Range Yoga workshop at the farm, went on LOTS of campouts, trips to St. Augustine, took an amazing trip to the Keys and finally, am at a point where I’m comfortable with myself.  For one, I don’t step on the scale every day any more, I don’t record every bite, and I’ve lost weight and feel better than ever.  After trying every diet in the book, I have finally settled into the aforementioned meat and dairy free diet.  I’ll admit I thought I was going to be tired, but I have more energy than ever.  In fact, on New Years I didn’t get to bed until 3AM!  I used to have to drink 5 Hour Energy and sugar Free Red Bull just to say awake until 11:00.
One of the biggest challenges was (is) not cutting meat from my diet, but how the people around me reacted and the availability of animal free foods at social events and during travel.  I can’t say how many times I’ve been told it is unhealthy to not eat meat and been asked how I get my protein and calcium. I have learned to still participate in social events but to bring along something delicious that everyone can eat and to not make a big deal about my abstention from meat.
For the New Years Eve party I attended, I decided to make a pesto with the fresh Meyer lemons that my friend Gregg brought me to yoga that morning and I paired it with herbs straight from my garden.  As “dippers” I skewered a small tomato, a bit of fresh beet green and broccoli-both fresh from the farm.  For the folks that weren’t into the “salad on a stick”, a loaf of sliced Cuban bread and a whole grain baguette were on the side as well.  It turned out so well I am going to make another batch for a dressing and sandwich spread.
As for my 2012 New Years Resolutions….. I finally settled on two.
  1. Meditate daily
  2. Stay in the present moment
  3.  
A BIG, HUGE thanks to everyone that has visited my site, supported me, tried my recipes and even introduced themselves to me when I’m out and about.  It is so fun to meet some of the folks that actually read my posts!  I love, love, LOVE every comment, suggestion and insight.
So THANK YOU and I look forward to the new year!
Now tell me…..what are your resolutions this year?
Fresh Meyer Lemon Pesto with Tomato, Beet Green and Broccoli Skewers
Inspired by Epicurious
Vegan, Dairy and Gluten Free
Ingredients
Pesto
2 packed cups of fresh herbs, I used basil, oregano, chives and parsley.
3 cloves of garlic
1 Tbsp coarse ground mustard
Zest and juice of one fresh Meyer lemon
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
For the skewers
1 pint grape tomatoes
4 fresh beet greens, stems removed and torn into bite size pieces
1 large head broccoli
Directions
  1. Add herbs through lemon zest and juice to a food processor or blender and pulse to chop finely; slowly stream in the olive oil until blended. Season with salt and pepper, taste and re-season if necessary.
  2. For skewers, thread one tomato, a rolled bit of beet green and a broccoli floret onto a toothpick.
Nov 302011
 


Is everything as crazy for you as it is for me?  The holidays, extra responsibilities at work, taking care of a 3 year old and keeping in touch with friends and family all contributes to the craziness.  But the other day, I was lying in bed, looking up at the ceiling, thinking WOW, I have it good.  Instead of getting overwhelmed I stopped and took a moment to be thankful for what I have….. 
….A crazy/awesome family, a supportive and loving hubby, a healthy baby girl (after many trials and tribulations), a way to get around, a roof over my head, a job to go to every day, both legs/eyes/arms and health, just to name a few.
It is so easy to get bogged down with all I have to do around the holidays and all the details that I have decided to make it my intention to STOP and focus on the present moment.  Just this morning I was in the bathroom getting ready for work and noticed the light shining through this beautiful glass vase made with all the colors of the sea; blues and greens, and realized that is what it’s like to be in the present moment.  I thought, how often do I even look at this vase?  I rush through the morning just trying to get out of the house, rush to drop my daughter off, rush to work as I’m usually running late, and rush home to get my baby girl, rush to make dinner, rush to the grocery….see a pattern?  I don’t think I’ll make it through this season unless I stop and take the time to appreciate where I am at that moment and all that I have.  We really do have a decision to be happy or unhappy.  I want to wake up each morning and make the decision to be happy.  Easier said than done some mornings, I know, but I will make it a habit and hopefully it will stick.
This dish was created as I was still had Thanksgiving in my thoughts.  I’m a big fan of cranberries so I had bought two fresh bags and decided to cook them up.  It’s SUPER easy and super tart.  If you like sweeter cranberry sauces simply add enough to suit your taste.  Paired with the sautéed organic spinach from my farm, scented with the hint of thyme and sage make dish somehow light but comforting at the same time.
As an FYI the nutrition info will be a bit off because there will be a LOT of cranberry sauce left over.  To create the nutrition info I had to list all the ingredients though so the calories will be a bit lower.

Cranberry Bowl with Sauteed Spinach, Black Eyed Peas and Couscous
***If you want sweeter cranberries add 1/4 cup brown sugar or agave.
Serves 4



Ingredients


1 bag fresh cranberries
1 tangerine, peeled and chopped
1 cup apple juice
1 can black eyed peas
1 bunch fresh spinach
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 head roasted garlic or 2 fresh cloves, minced
1/8 tsp thyme
1/8 tsp sage
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
2 servings couscous, cooked to package directions


Directions


1. Wash and pick through cranberries, add to a medium pot with tangerine and apple juice; bring to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes.


2. Heat 1 Tbsp oil over medium high heat; add onions; sauté 5 to 7 minutes; add garlic and cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes; add spinach, thyme, sage, salt and pepper and stir until wilted, about 3 minutes.


3. Serve each of four bowls with 1/4 cup couscous, 1/4 cup cranberry mixture, 1/4 spinach mixture and a large heaping spoonful of black eyed peas.

Nutrition Facts
4 Servings
Amount Per Serving


Calories 247.8
Total Fat 4.6 g
Saturated Fat 0.5 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.5 g
Monounsaturated Fat 2.5 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 319.5 mg
Potassium 641.0 mg
Total Carbohydrate 47.5 g
Dietary Fiber 11.5 g
Sugars 6.4 g
Protein 7.8 g


Vitamin A 179.7 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 14.2 %
Vitamin C 71.5 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 10.8 %
Calcium 23.4 %
Copper 9.7 %
Folate 44.7 %
Iron 21.7 %
Magnesium 19.9 %
Manganese 56.4 %
Niacin 5.8 %
Pantothenic Acid 4.9 %
Phosphorus 7.1 %
Riboflavin 11.6 %
Selenium 17.4 %
Thiamin 8.8 %
Zinc 4.9 %




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

Sep 072011
 
Last night I was at yoga and was talking to a couple about my upcoming trip to San Francisco and Sonoma. They were telling me what wineries to check out etc. when my friend Jodi came over to talk about how she just watched Forks Over Knives (great documentary about food and health and it’s now on Netflix!) and then we started discussing cow and goat products; specifically about casein, the protein found in dairy/cow’s milk. Casein is the main animal protein discussed in the China Study in relation to cancer growth, heart disease and a whole other host of diseases that Dr Colin Campbell believes are caused by the Western diet of animal foods.  When I looked up information on goat milk I found this interesting write up on it on the Worlds Healthiest Foods website that I trust when it comes to most nutrition info.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of goat’s milk, however, is that some people who cannot tolerate cow’s milk are able to drink goat’s milk without any problems. It is not clear from scientific research studies exactly why some people can better tolerate goat’s milk. Some initial studies suggested that specific proteins known to cause allergic reactions may have been present in cow’s milk in significant quantities yet largely absent in goat’s milk. The alpha-casein proteins, including alpha s1-casein, and the beta-casein proteins were both considered in this regard. However, more recent studies suggest that the genetic wiring for these casein proteins is highly variable in both cows and goats and that more study is needed to determine the exact role these proteins might play in the tolerability of goat’s milk versus cow’s milk.
 I take this to mean that there is some form of casein in goat milk but not at the same levels as cow milk.
I went further to look up additional information on dairy allergies/intolerance and found that, according to WHF, people who have full fledged dairy allergies that initiate an autoimmune response are typically caused by casein which is the dairy protein. Dairy intolerance being most typically caused by the milk sugar which is lactose.  They may not have enough of the enzyme called lactase to break this sugar down and this can cause uncomfortable bloating, flatulence and other unpleasant things. 
If an allergy or intolerance is present, then one must be careful about eating processed foods as well!  Look at this table where they show other foods that might contain hidden casein.
Processed foods that may contain casein:


Bakery glazes
Breath mints
Coffee whiteners
Fortified cereals
High-protein beverage powders
Ice cream
Infant formulas
Nutrition bars
Processed meats
Salad dressings
Whipped toppings

How does all this cow and goat talk tie in with the couple I was discussing my trip with?
When they overheard us talking about cow and goat they asked why we were talking about this, with an amused look.  I told her I write a food blog and Jodi and I eat similar meatless diets so Jodi and I are always talking about food.  
Then I found myself almost apologizing for/defending my choice, and after class I thought about it more.  I need to stop apologizing for this choice. When I started cutting most animal foods out I decided to just take one day at a time and not take an all or nothing approach and so far it has been a wonderful experience. Up to now, I have made an exception of the occasional honey, chocolate, fish and goat cheese.  In fact, I did splurge on some goat milk feta with olive oil, basil and garlic from Sharon from Terks Goat Farm at the St Augustine Farmers Market and it is delicious.  But, going forward, I think I might start cutting back on these even more too. 
The fact is that the plant foods have been so tasty that I haven’t wanted to allocate many calories to meats and cheeses.  No one really seems to believe me, especially about the cheese, but it’s true!

I promise that you can make these plant based foods taste so delicious on their own with just a little desire, planning and creativity. I love chickpeas smashed with seasonings, I love roasted veggies, I love nut and nut butters and I love my coconut-banana-chocolate Ice Cake and I love these Sunshine Falafel Burgers with Spicy Lime Tahini Sauce…..they are the perfect convenience food for those of us that need a quick fix!

I liked mine wrapped in lettuce but feel free to try it out with a whole wheat or gluten free bun.  It’s so much fun to experiment and play with recipes and variations. If you don’t consider yourself a great cook but want to try out the plant based diet this is a great way to start.  Roast yourself up a couple trays of veggies and grab some burgers and you’ll be on your way in no time!

 

Sunshine Falafel Burgers with Spicy Lime Tahini Sauce
Tahini Sauce inspired by Carol’s Falafel Sauce
Vegan, Gluten Free
Serves 4



Ingredients


4 Sunshine Falafel burgers
8 large leaves romaine lettuce


Spicy Lime Tahini Sauce
1 clove garlic
3 Tbsp tahini
3 Tbsp agave
3 Tbsp water
Juice 1 lime (about 3 Tbsp)
1/4 tsp cayenne
Dash coarse sea salt


Optional 
Sprouts
Tomato slices
Onion slices 


Directions


1. Cook burgers to package directions.


2. Blend sauce ingredients in Magic Bullet or small blender. 


3. Pour about 1 to 2 Tbsp sauce per burger.  (There will be some sauce left over.) Serve burger wrapped with 2 romaine lettuce leaves and additional toppings if desired.

Per Burger with Lettuce, tomato, onion and sprouts
Nutrition Facts

4 Servings
Amount Per Serving


Calories 243.1
Total Fat 11.2 g
Saturated Fat 1.0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 264.5 mg
Potassium 135.3 mg
Total Carbohydrate 27.7 g
Dietary Fiber 6.9 g
Sugars 1.0 g
Protein 10.8 g


Vitamin A 13.9 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 2.1 %
Vitamin C 14.0 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 1.0 %
Calcium 7.2 %
Copper 2.0 %
Folate 8.6 %
Iron 17.2 %
Magnesium 1.5 %
Manganese 8.8 %
Niacin 1.5 %
Pantothenic Acid 1.3 %
Phosphorus 2.1 %
Riboflavin 2.4 %
Selenium 0.3 %
Thiamin 2.9 %
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.

Spicy Lime Tahini Sauce
Nutrition Facts

About 12 Tbsp
Amount Per Tbsp
Calories 28.6
Total Fat 2.0 g
Saturated Fat 0.3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.9 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.8 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 17.3 mg
Potassium 21.0 mg
Total Carbohydrate 2.4 g
Dietary Fiber 0.4 g
Sugars 1.3 g
Protein 0.7 g

Aug 212011
 
Could I be the next Food Network Star with my Breakfast Burger with Fresh Tomato, Sprouts and Carrot Mustard Sauce? Something along the lines of a plant-based Sandra Lee Perhaps?

At first I was a little guilty.  It’s not like I was actually going to be making these burgers from scratch.  But after my first recipe-free veggie/bean burger attempt came out more like brown burger mush I realized I needed some help.  Hey, I’m sort of new to this totally meat-free thing. So when I came across these Sunshine Burger samples at Native Sun that don’t have soy or wheat in them (so my daughter can eat them) it was like the heavens opened up and light shone down.  I believe I heard angels singing. 

Why the excitement? 

Let’s just say my new way of eating is taking a bit of an adjustment period for the family, which is understandable.  My husband Chris grew up in Jacksonville Florida.  Now mind you, I love it here, but the main staple is meat.  Let’s see, we have Bono’s BBQ, Sonny’s BBQ, Longhorn Steakhouse, Roadh0use, Texas Roadhouse, Ted’s Montana Grill and on and on, all based solely on meat.  Ten years back my new husband and I got married and in the back of his mind he was probably thinking I was already a bit weird as it was, if you’ve read my background, but whatever,  we were shiny new newlyweds, young and in love so it could be overlooked.  Little did he know…..there was more (or shall I say less) to come. 
In 2008 we had a beautiful baby girl who happened to have some SERIOUS eczema issues that we were paying $300 a tube each month for steroid cream not approved for her age so she wouldn’t scratch her eyelids until they bled.  Against the recommendation of the pediatrician I had her allergy tested and sure enough she tested positive for food allergies out the wazoo.  I immediately announced we can’t feed our, at the time, one year old daughter, wheat, eggs, dairy, soy, cod fish, peanuts, tree nuts, seeds (she can eat moderately) and all those synthetic dyes like red 40.  At first no one really believed me.  After all, the doctors said it’s not food related and you can’t eliminate all that from her diet, right?  I just say give me a chance and let me try.  And it worked.  So we got used to that and switched her to all free range organic meats, organic veggies and fruits and few snacks that come from Native Sun. 
And then I read the China Study. 
And then I made some seriously mushy bean burgers.  
My poor hubby doesn’t know what hit him.

So there you go.  That’s why the excitement over finding some seriously delicious, convenient burgers we can all eat. I needed an easy and tasty and cheap option.  Another bonus was that these were on SALE so they came to just over $1 per burger and with working full time the convenience factor won out.  Hellooo it’s like my very own dollar value menu or whatever they call it. Normally I  make most everything else from scratch so I had to let go of the guilt. 

And buy eight boxes.

Here is what I bought

Two breakfast:
Ingredients:
Organic sunflower seeds
organic brown rice
organic adzuki beans
organic hemp seeds
organic onion
organic bell pepper
organic herbs
organic paprika
organic black pepper
sea salt

Two Falafel
Ingredients:
Organic raw ground sunflower seeds
organic brown rice
organic chick peas
organic split peas
organic tahini(ground toasted organic sesame seeds)
organic sesame seed paste
organic parsley
organic cumin powder
organic garlic

Two Southwest
Ingredients:
Organic ground raw sun-flower seeds
Organic Brown Rice
Organic Carrots
Organic Black Beans
Organic Bell Peppers
Organic Cilantro
Organic Garlic
Organic Jalapeño Peppers
Organic Ground Cumin Seeds
Organic Onion
Sea Salt

Two Garden Herb
Ingredients:
Organic Ground Raw Sun-flower Seeds
Organic Brown Rice
Organic Carrots
Organic Herbs
Sea Salt
The first one I tried out was the morning after my purchase…the breakfast burgers.  I paired it with a slice of toasted sesame Ezekiel bread, some juicy fresh tomato, sprouts and I thought about what I used to like on my breakfast sandwiches in the mornings.  Typically a slice of Kraft yellow American cheese that I promptly threw out once I read the ingredients on the low fat slices I had, way back when.  I wanted to create a nice substitute, but I have a hard time calling something “vegan cheese” that doesn’t have cheese in it.  This sauce is made with carrots, nutritional yeast, spices and mustard but it just happens to taste a bit like cheddar and is delicious in it’s own way.  I’m reminded of my friend Cara when she talks about spaghetti squash.  Don’t eat it as a replacement for spaghetti.  You’ll have a hard time loving it.  Love it for the delicious squash that it is.  As for the burger, in every bite I could taste the perfectly seasoned brown rice, nutty sunflower and hearty hemp seeds.  It was the burger I had set out to make after the last perfection I ate at Cafe Karibo in Fernandina, but the best part about this is I can have it every day for just over a buck. 
Another option is to add some roasted veggies which would be delicious. For those of you new to my blog I roast four trays of veggies every weekend and sometimes more during the week and add them to everything.  But that’s another post.  This time I just wanted to keep it simple.

Breakfast Burger with Fresh Tomato, Sprouts and Carrot Mustard Sauce
Serves 1
Vegan

Ingredients

1 Sunshine Burger, Breakfast Burger (or bean burger of choice)
1 slice sesame Ezekiel bread, toasted, or bread of choice
1 slice fresh, organic, ripe tomato
Sprouts
1 leaf fresh organic romaine
Drizzle of Carrot Mustard Sauce (will make lots of extra for later)

Carrot Mustard Sauce (blends and cooks down to about a cup)
Inspired by this recipe
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup water
4 Tbsp non-GMO cornstarch
4 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp each onion powder, garlic powder, ground mustard
1/4 tsp sea salt

Directions

1. Blend carrot mustard sauce in a magic bullet or blender; heat in a small sauce pan over medium high heat, stirring constantly, to just gently boiling, reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about three minutes.  If too thick add a bit of additional water.

2. Cook burger to package directions; top toast with lettuce, burger, tomato, drizzle of sauce and sprouts.

****I did the nutrition info separate as you may have other bean burgers on hand or different bread.

 

Nutrition Information
Per Tbsp Carrot Mustard Sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 10.6
Total Fat 0.1 g
Saturated Fat 0.0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.0 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 39.6 mg
Potassium 55.4 mg
Total Carbohydrate 1.7 g
Dietary Fiber 0.6 g
Sugars 0.3 g
Protein 1.8 g
Vitamin B-12 16.6 %
Vitamin B-6 60.6 %
Niacin 35.2 %
Riboflavin 70.8 %
Thiamin 80.3 %
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Nutrition Information
Breakfast Hemp Burger
Amount Per Serving
Calories 210
Total Fat 9 g
Saturated Fat 1.0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.0 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 300 mg
Total Carbohydrate 26 g
Dietary Fiber 5.0 g
Sugars 1.0 g
Protein 8.0 g

Nutrition Information
1 slice Ezekiel Bread
Amount Per Serving
Calories 80
Total Fat 0.5 g
Saturated Fat 0.0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.0 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 80.0 mg
Potassium 75.0 mg
Total Carbohydrate 15.0 g
Dietary Fiber 3.0 g
Sugars 0.0 g
Protein 4.0 g
Aug 142011
 

That is it.  I’m toast.  I’ve finally made my own fresh pasta sauce and I now can never go back to jarred. 

What prompted this craziness you ask?

The last two times I made pasta and used a jarred sauce it was so tough to get downI actually had to throw it out….it seemed so salty to me.  I used to think the jarred kind was fine but possibly since I’ve been making most everything fresh now I have lost my taste for it.  Dressings are a cinch but I was a bit intimidated by sauce.  I think it was the blanching of the tomatoes, but when I realized it is literally one minute and peeling almost happens without any help, I threw in some onion and garlic, seasonings and two of my favorite things ever; red wine and balsamic vinegar.  Once I added all the ingredients, I tasted it before the forty minute simmer and didn’t need to add one thing.  And, of course, did lots of sampling at the finish and it was perfect! 

Use this over pasta, as pizza sauce, as a bruchetta topping or just do what I did and eat it with a spoon.

Sweet, salty, tangy and savory with a spicy kick at the finish (feel free to leave out or reduce the crushed red pepper if heat isn’t your thing).Don’t let this innocent photo fool you.  This sauce will knock your socks off!

Fresh Tomato Sauce with Balsamic and Red Wine
Inspired by Wolfgang Puck

Ingredients

5 medium ripe organic tomatoes
1 tsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1/8 cup good quality red wine
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp each dried sea salt, oregano, thyme, basil
1 Tbsp turbinado sugar

Directions

1. Boil a medium pot full of water and prepare and ice bath to dunk the tomatoes after blanching; cut a cross in the skin on the top of the tomatoes.  Place into the boiling water for 1 minute then drain and dunk tomatoes into ice bath.  Peel skin and set tomatoes aside.

2. Heat 1 tsp of olive oil in pot tomatoes were blanched in over medium high heat. Add onion, sauté 4 minutes, add minced garlic, sauté an additional 1 minute.  Add remaining ingredients, reduce heat and simmer 40 minutes.

Nutrition Information
Entire Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 353.1
Total Fat 6.9 g
Saturated Fat 0.9 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.4 g
Monounsaturated Fat 3.7 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 1,251.3 mg
Potassium 1,811.3 mg
Total Carbohydrate 71.0 g
Dietary Fiber 10.9 g
Sugars 12.1 g
Protein 8.4 g
Vitamin A 76.6 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 43.4 %
Vitamin C 130.6 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 15.8 %
Calcium 10.3 %
Copper 32.2 %
Folate 33.7 %
Iron 20.7 %
Magnesium 24.5 %
Manganese 65.3 %
Niacin 21.4 %
Pantothenic Acid     18.2 %
Phosphorus     24.1 %
Riboflavin 21.0 %
Selenium 7.6 %
Thiamin 31.6 %
Zinc 7.4 %
*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

Ingredients

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 

Directions

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.

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



Ingredients


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


Directions


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

Jun 192011
 
 There is one question that I almost always ask before I ever take a bite of food at a new restaurant.  The answer to this question will almost always tell me what the quality of the food will be and whether I will return.
So far my question has had a 100% success rate.  How is that for stats?
Granted this is all subjective.  You could try this and most definitely tell me I’m full of it.  I’ll admit there are a few times when I walk in and already know the answer is no but I choose to make an exception for one reason or another (typically because someone else chose the place and it would be rude to decline).
Enough already so what is the question!?
Do they make their own dressings and sauces? 
If a restaurant cares enough to take the time and spend the money on fresh ingredients for their dressings I automatically know I will like the food there and I would most likely return unless the service convinces me otherwise.
There is just something about store bought dressing (with the exception of a very few such as Annie’s Naturals) that I can’t get past.  Even if the dressing sounds amazing, without fail it will sit in my refrigerator far beyond the expiration date until I say enough is enough and do a full fridge cleanout.
The beauty of home made dressing and sauce is that they can be whipped up in a jiffy and used for so many things; such as a dip for some steaming hot crusty bread, or a flavorful marinade for meat.
I made this sundried tomato vinaigrette to go over the same caprese salad I recently made over Memorial day weekend.  The sweet-tartness of sundried tomatoes is what always makes me so weak in the knees; with a bit of mustard and hint of thyme this is a perfect alternative to a balsamic based dressing or even over some sautéed chicken.
Happy Father’s Day!

Sundried Tomato and Thyme Vinaigrette
6 2-Tbsp Servings

Ingredients

3 Tbsp sundried tomato oil (I used the oil that the tomatoes are packed in.)
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1/2 tsp dry mustard
2 Tbsp coarse ground prepared mustard
2 Tbsp honey
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/3 tsp dried thyme
2 Tbsp water

Directions

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

Nutrition Facts
6 2-Tbsp Servings
Amount Per Serving
Calories 111
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 104.8 mg
Potassium 11.7 mg
Total Carbohydrate 7.5 g
Dietary Fiber 0.2 g
Sugars 5.7 g
Protein 0.2 g
Mar 232011
 
What I love about blogging recipes is the daily challenges and wins.The challenges make the wins so much sweeter. There are days when a recipe I fully expect to come out perfectly is just not that great and other times when a recipe turns out so much better than expected. Those are the days that get a food blogger super excited about posting and sharing. All I can hope for is that one person be inspired to eat healthier or try something new or enjoy one of my recipes. We bloggers are people lovers.

I even dream food and cooking now. It’s better than laying awake at night thinking about global warming or nuclear reactors or tsunamis or, what used to be my big one, dog fighting. (I’m still very angry at Michael Vick and conspirators.) Ok, so granted I do have a few nightmares about Monsanto and pushing their genetically modified garbage on us in the name of “feeding the world” when it’s really about big business and how they can make the most money and hold our government in a vice but at least I feel like I can use my small space of the internet to stand on my soap box about it.

I digress; here is what we had for dinner.

For this one I would love to share what went into each taco and the exact serving size but it’s so hard to judge since my hubby and I both use different size tortillas, like different toppings etc. I very rarely do this any more but I’ll just give you the general idea and leave it to you to be creative.  The only thing I did measure out was the avocado-honey sauce.  A little sweet, a little tart and really creamy.  Enjoy!

Pan Seared Shrimp Taco with

Avocado-Honey Sauce and Fresh Cilantro

 
Ingredients
 
Avocado-Honey Sauce:
1 Avocado
1 Tbsp honey, or to taste
1/3 cup non fat plain Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp sour cream
1 lime, juiced
Water (to thin)

 

1 lb fresh shrimp
Cooking spray
Jerk lime seasoning
Fresh lime
Splash of beer

 

Tortillas
Topping Ideas:
Cilantro
1 tomato, chopped
Shredded, reduced fat Mexican blend cheese
Additional sour cream


Directions


1. Blend the avocado honey sauce ingredients in a small blender. 


2. Season shrimp with jerk lime seasoning and squeeze juice of half lime over.  Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, spray with cooking spray.  Add shrimp and cook 2 minutes per side or until outside is golden and shrimp is just cooked through.  If needed, add a splash of beer to degalze pan and prevent burning.


3. On each tortilla place shrimp, 2 Tbsp avocado honey sauce and optional toppings desired.

Dec 172010
 
Ever since reading Heather’s post (from Where’s the Beach) about her amazing vegetarian Thanksgiving I vowed to make all the recipes; Apple Kabocha Kale, Honey Mustard New Potatoes and this, Chipotle Cranberry Relish. 

I was finally able to make it last night and was not disappointed.  This relish is spicy/sweet/tart and is SO good.  I plan to put it with some maple tempeh in a wrap and top some turkey cranberry sausage with it.  Simply Delicious! 

Chipotle Cranberry Relish

Ingredients


 1 bag fresh cranberries
2 large chipotle pepper in adobo, finely diced
2 tsp adobo sauce
3 Tbsp agave
Stevia powder to taste
1 cup orange juice 
1/2 cup water

Salt, to taste
1/2 tsp cinnamon

 Directions


1. Heat all ingredients in a  medium sauce pan and simmer on low about 1 hour.

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