Herbed Cucumber Smoothie

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Thanks to Loam Agronomics I got a new green to try this summer and also cooling, fresh and local cucumbers.  This herb is called Papaloquelite and has a very interesting flavor- it is not like any other herb.. but because it is quite strong.. I could say if you mixed up arugula and cilantro and maybe even parsley, it may still be hard to get its exact flavor.. because Papalo (if I may shorten it!) is quite unique!

Here is a shot of Papalo for you. I used it in my smoothie with cucumbers and mint. However if you don’t have Papalo you may use cilantro or parsley.

This herbed cucumber smoothie is very nourishing, refreshing, loaded with plant nutrients and fiber too, perfect for a hot summer day.

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Ingredients:

1 large or 2 small cucumbers rough cut

1 stalk celery

A few slices of ginger (I use a big piece since I love ginger!)

1/2 lime peeled

1.5 cups water or water kefir or coconut water (add more water if smoothie is too thick)

1-2 cups ice

1-2 tablespoons chia seeds

4-6 leaves mint

A handful or Papalo leaves or Cilantro or Parsley

1/4 cup fresh or frozen pineapple (add more if you need more sweetness to the drink)

 

Blend everything but the ice in the blender until smooth. Then pop in the ice  and blend till ice is all blended to make it extra chilled and refreshing! This makes one large serving or two smaller cups. As always adjust the amount of herbs, lime, ginger and water to suit your tastes.

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Coriander Cumin Summer Squash with Tomatoes

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This Coriander Cumin summer squash and tomatoes recipe highlights the best of summer flavors, sweet summer squash and juicy ripe tomatoes bursting with flavor, with just a touch of herbs and spices. Here I use two of my very favorites, cumin and coriander.  I have always loved this combination of spices in my food but the fresh green coriander from Loam Agronomics just takes this recipe to the next level! Both the squash and the tomatoes also came from Loam when I made the recipe and having local tomatoes and squash I think just makes all the difference in the flavor. If you don’t have access to green coriander you may use dried coriander seeds or coriander powder or fresh cilantro on top.

Ingredients

1 medium summer squash (about 4 cups cubed)

2 medium red tomatoes (cubed)

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 tablespoon ghee (or use your favorite cooking fat)

1 -2 tablespoon fresh green coriander ( I just the stems, seeds everything on the green coriander and love the flavor it imparts, you may substitute 1/2 teaspoon dried coriander seeds or 1/2-1 teaspoon coriander powder, or 4 table spoons fresh chopped cilantro)

1/2 teaspoon paprika (optional)

Salt to taste

Method

Add ghee to the pan, toast the cumin seeds until fragrant (if you are using dry coriander or seeds add them to the pan now as well). Then add the cubed summer squash (and paprika), and let cook till slightly soft but not mushy or completely done as we will need to let it cook a bit longer with the tomatoes. Add the cubed tomatoes and cook a few more minutes. The goal is to just let the tomatoes get soft and let their juices mix in but not disappear into the dish. Cook till your desired done-ness for the summer squash. At the end add your fresh green coriander or cilantro. Serve hot as a side dish or as a taco filling or over steamed quinoa. I eat it as a snack or with for breakfast with my eggs too!

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Marinated Beet Salad

Roasted beets are my favorite, but sometimes I need a change.. specially when the beets are so sweet and fresh. This marinated beet salad adds some greens and garlic for extra flavor and nutrients too.

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Ingredients:

2 bunches baby beets or 1 bunch large beets (about 6-7 small beets or 3 large ones)

3-4 cloves minced fresh garlic (add more if you love garlic!)

2 handfuls of fresh parsley

4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (I love an unfiltered one or any olive oil with a strong flavor)

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste (honestly I did not add any and loved it without salt and pepper!)

Method:

Roast beets halved or quartered for large ones at 375 F 30-35 minutes or so. Check if knife goes through easily. For this marinated salad I prefer the beets slightly crisp with a slight crunch. Add more time if you prefer softer beets. Whisk oil and vinegar in a bowl. Once the beets are done and cooled, cut into bite sized pieces and add to the oil and vinegar, also add the minced garlic, chopped parsley. Mix well and chill. Marinate for a few hours or overnight. Enjoy as a side or even as a snack.

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Tasty Dandelion Greens

 

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Everyone is familiar with dandelions in our yards and along sidewalks.. but did you know that the dandelion plant is very nutritious and beneficial to our health? The root can be used for making tea and the leaves can be eaten just like you would eat spinach. Always be sure to consume dandelions that are grown without pesticides and chemicals. I am fortunate enough to get some grown locally at Loam Agronomics.

There are so many benefits to eating bitter greens.  Of all the greens that I love to eat I would definitely say Dandelion greens are quite bitter but when prepared in this recipe.. the balsamic vinegar and the sweet caramelized onions really balance the flavor and cut the bitterness for me. To sweeten the deal I sometimes top them off with some roasted sweet potatoes!

So many reasons to keep enjoying these greens in spring and summer. As per http://healthyeating.sfgate.com “Dandelion greens provide four times as much calcium, 1.5 times as much vitamin A and 7.5 times as much vitamin K as broccoli. This leafy green vegetable also contains twice as much iron and three times as much riboflavin as spinach, and, while spinach provides no vitamin E or carotenoids, dandelion greens boast 17 percent of the daily adult dose of vitamin E and 13,610 international units, or IUs, of lutein and zeaxanthin per 3.5-ounce serving.  So are you ready to put some on your plate? Read more on the benefits here.

 

Ingredients:

1/2 bunch dandelion greens rinsed well

1/2 large red onion

4 tablespoons aged balsamic  (the more aged and luscious the better this recipe turns out!)

2-4 cloves of fresh garlic minced

salt to taste (I almost didn’t need to add much to this recipe)

Generous amounts of fresh ground black pepper to taste (more is great to balance the balsamic vinegar)

Optional -1 cubed sweet potato, 1 tablespoon avocado oil

2 table spoons olive oil (add more if needed)

 

Method:

Slice or chop red onion, saute’ in the olive oil till soft and caramelized. Once the onion is ready, add in the chopped garlic, saute a few more minutes till garlic is fragrant and soft.

Add the washed and chopped dandelion greens. Cook for a few minutes, add the pepper and balsamic. Cook till the greens are softened and the balsamic vinegar is melded into the greens.

If you prefer to add some sweetness.. you can top your greens with a cubed and roasted sweet potato as well. Cube a sweet potato, toss in 1 tablespoon avocado or any high heat oil, roast at about 375 F for 30 minutes or until done.

Plate your greens and sweet potatoes.. dig in and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Earth Day Tips from my Kitchen to Yours!

Heartful Earth Cuisine

How about we start with what is Earth Day and why should we care? Here is a good link on the history of Earth Day.

So how can we be better to the earth and to ourselves this year?  Reduce waste and increase reuse! I am sharing some of my simple and easy to implement ideas for Earth Day, from my kitchen to yours-

  1. Always think of using every part of your fruits and vegetables. Specially, if you are buying organic and from a local farm, its best to use all of the produce and be thankful for the earth’s bounty! Be sure to verify it is edible and safe to consume. Did you know you can eat watermelon rind and avocado seeds too?  I will be sharing my cooked watermelon rind recipe soon! And this is a news article on how to eat avocado seeds!IMG_3048
  2. On that note.. what do you…

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Spring time Chrysanthemum spring rolls with Sunbutter sauce

Loam Agronomics is growing edible Chrysanthemum greens in Houston and when they arrived in my CSA box I was very curious to how they would taste and what I would make with them.  Loam Agronomics clarified to me not all Chrysanthemum greens are edible. These edible ones are the Garland or Shungiku Chrysanthemum variety. To me they tasted almost like a raw or a green mango with a grassy flavor. I had originally planned to saute them with some mushrooms and make a stir fry but their delicious flavor made me want to eat them raw. They needed to be in a fresh recipes so I could enjoy their subtle flavor. Read more about the benefits of eating Chrysanthemum greens here.

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Ingredients:

For the spring rolls:

1 bunch Crysanthemum greens (if not available use your favorite green here)

1 avocado

1 mango

6-8 baby bella mushrooms

6-8 cooked shrimp (optional for vegan option)

1 baby kohlrabi

2-3 small radishes

6-8 Spring roll wrappers ( I use these brown rice wrappers)

 

For the dipping sauce:

1 cup sunflower seed butter (or use any nut butter)

4-5 table spoons coconut vinegar (or use apple cider vinegar)

1 teaspoon coconut nectar (or use maple syrup)

2-3 teaspoons sriracha sauce (add more or less based on your preference)

1/3 cup water (add more for mixing as needed)

2-3 teaspoons coconut aminos

1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger or 4-5 drops of ginger essential oil (if using ginger use a zester to avoid large shred of ginger, if using ginger oil ensure proper quality,  and to learn more about essential oils and the oils  I use please message me on facebook!))

salt to taste

Method:

For the spring rolls first prep all the ingredients that will fill your rolls, slice vegetables and toppings and have the mis en place ready to go. Wash and dry the greens well. It is important to have all the vegetables nice and dry and all prepped.

Feel free to add in other options as well. I would normally load up my spring rolls with fresh cilantro too ( I love cilantro and I did have a fresh bunch in my Loam CSA box too) but just this time I left it out to be able to enjoy the flavor of the Chrysanthemum greens. If you cant find these greens you can use spinach or chard and cilantro or romaine and cilantro

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Follow the instructions on your spring roll wrapper package. In my case I had two plates, one with water for dipping the wrapper and one for rolling. Take one wrapper at a time. Dip in water to wet well.  Then move to the dry plate, add your fillings. Roll half way, fold in sides and finish rolling. Keep the spring rolls separated with parchment paper to avoid sticking.

For the sauce mix all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Add extra water (a few more tablespoons) if needed. The sauce should be thick for dipping and not too runny.

Dip your spring roll in the sauce and enjoy!

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Thyme Roasted Carrots and Crispy Greens

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Ingredients:

1 bunch carrots (with greens optional)

3-4 springs of fresh thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons avocado or high heat oil

3-4 pinches of chili powder or paprika

1 -2 pods of fresh minced garlic

 

Method:

Slice carrots into large chunks (finger sized), toss with avocado oil, minced thyme, garlic, salt pepper and chili powder. You may also add some of the carrot greens ripped into bite size fronds. Roast in oven at 415 F for about 15 minutes. If you wish for carrots to be softer cook longer for 20 or 25 minutes. Cooking time varies based on how big your pieces of carrots are. The carrot greens will become nice and crispy and add a lovely crunch and texture to the dish! If you have a lot of greens try the carrot top pesto recipe or the carrot top crisps! Either way don’t throw away those tops and greens.. if you don’t roast them with the carrots and don’t make the pesto.. save them in your vegetable scrap jar or bag in the freezer for the next time you make broth! For more ideas in the kitchen visit the Earth Day tips!

 

 

 

 

 

Turmeric Kohlrabi “Fries”

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These beautiful Kohlrabis came from Loam Agronomics. Visit their farm in person and sign up for your own CSA box if you live in Houston!

Kohlrabi is a powerhouse of nutrients and a great source of Vitamin C, Potassium, fiber and more. Read more here.

These baked “fries” are easy and quick and a great addition to any meal or a snack too. Who doesn’t love fries?

Ingredients:

2 medium Kohlrabi

1 table spoon avocado oil

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon chili powder (add more if you like it spicy!)

Salt and pepper to taste (it is important to use black pepper in conjunction with turmeric, as some study has suggested it makes for better absorption)

For more on Turmeric benefits and uses visit an article I collaborated on with my friend Eric here.

Method:

Preheat oven to 415 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Peel the Kohrabis, (save  all your peels and skins in your freezer to make vegetable or bone broth broth  later!)

Cut into fry size wedges (see photo)

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Toss all the ingredients together in a bowl.

Layout on parchment paper baking sheet and  bake for about 6 to 8 minutes.

Flip over bake for an additional 4 to 6 minutes. Bake longer as needed.

I noticed the baking time can be a it shorter to longer based on if my Kohlrabi was at room temperature or from the fridge when I made these (I have already made these a few times now!!)

Also if you cut the fries thinner or thicker.. be sure to watch them after the 8 minute mark.

Enjoy topped with fresh topped cilantro as a snack or serve as a side – healthy fish and chips anyone? A good way to sneak in your nutritious Kohlrabi into your kids meals too.

If you try this recipe would love to hear how you enjoyed them!

 

 

 

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Carrot top crisps- Gone in 60 seconds snack!

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Have been enjoying some fresh carrot bunches that are sustainably and locally grown at Loam Agronomics and wanted to use up all these beautiful fresh carrot greens. At the same time I was craving something crispy and viola.. the first time I made these crisps and taste tested them I ate them all in less than a minute and made a few more batches until all my carrot tops were gone. These are so easy and quick to make that there is no reason anyone should throw away their carrot greens! If you enjoy Kale chips then you are going to enjoy these too.

Ingredients:

Carrot tops – 1/2 small bunch

Avocado oil-  1 tablespoon (enough to coat the greens)

Salt to taste

Nutritional yeast – 1/2 – 1 cup  (more for extra flavor and “cheesiness”!)

Chili powder – a few pinches or more for extra spicy

Method:

Wash and dry the carrot tops completely. Once dry, rip apart into chip size bits by hand, add avocado oil, chili powder, nutritional yeast and salt and mix well in a bowl.

Then lay flat on a baking dish or tray. Roast in a preheated oven for about 8 to 10 minutes at 385 F.

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Feel free to experiment with how you season them. I really enjoyed the combination of chili powder and nutritional yeast. Would you to hear from you on how fast you ate them!

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“Plum-alicious” chicken and more!

When my friend Trisha told me she had an abundance of plums she was harvesting in her garden this year and would love to get some ideas on what to do with them my mind started running in many directions! These gorgeous plums and photo courtesy Trisha!

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Fresh Picked Plums: Grown by Trisha!

Before we get into a recipe a little about my lovely friend Trisha! Trisha Tipton is a herbalist, Natural Living Educator and an expert in raising clean sustainable food for the table.  She resides on a small homestead in Tennessee and regularly raises the families meat, veggies, fruit and herbs.  She loves to help others learn how to improve their own health by utilizing a clean whole foods diet and also loves to empower others to take responsibility for growing their own foods whether it be on a small-scale or larger scale.  One of her passions is to show others how to make herbal remedies to keep their families healthy naturally and to discover the great blessing of getting back to the land and nature.

I am always learning so much from Trisha and her lovely blogs.You can find her website at: http://freerangehome.com/  And she is also on facebook at:  www.facebook.com/freerangehome

So here is the recipe I specially created for you  and your plums Trisha! Hope whoever is reading this joint blog that we both did with our love and plums will enjoy our post and the recipe and share your experience with plums, cooking, plum chicken and chickens with us!

When I cook I usually seem to think savory. I don’t end up cooking or baking a lot of sweet dishes or desserts and I don’t even use a lot of fruit in my recipes. With plums I  I thought of Moroccan style food with a mix of maybe Asian flavors too and viola here is what I came up with. This chicken is sweet, spicy, savory, hot, tangy and sour all at the same time.. !!

Ingredients:

2 medium (organic pastured) chicken breast

A few dashes or 2 table spoons coconut vinegar

A few dashes of coconut aminos

1/2 plus 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 plus a few pinches of ground cumin

1/4 plus a few pinches of paprika

a few dashes of cayenne- optional- only if you want to spice it up  more

3 cloves of garlic crushed

1 large shallot

1/2 teaspoon of fresh ginger finely chopped or grated.

Avocado or neutral oil

generous amounts of fresh ground pepper- to offset the vinegar

5-6 juicy plums

A few dashes of sherry wine- optional

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It all goes into the pan!

Marinate chicken breast as strips for better flavor in 1/2 teaspoon coriander, 1/4 teaspoon cumin and 1/4 teaspoon paprika, add salt to taste and plenty of black pepper, a few dashes of the coconut vinegar and coconut aminos. You can also use apple cider vinegar. Let the chicken marinate for 4-6 hours if possible.

Finely slice shallot and saute till soft in the oil, add garlic, ginger, extra spices and cayenne, cook well till garlic is fragrant, then add the 4 of the plums diced or sliced, cook till plums partially cooked through. At this time you may add the sherry wine and cook till it dries off. Then add the chicken and cook till chicken is done.

Serve hot with steamed quinoa and fresh plum slices!

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Plum Chicken

I like to get organic, local and pastured or at least organic when possible. This recipe was made with Katerra Exotics chicken breasts. For all my Houston friends: you can get local pastured meats at Katerra Exotics and also you can get whole pastured chickens, turkeys and more at Whitehurst Heritage Farms. Nothing like pastured chickens. My friend Trisha also raised chickens at her homestead! I have so much to learn from her!

Now over to Trisha and she is going to tell us more about plums about why we should eat plums, besides the fact that they are so delicious!

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Plums are one of my favorite fruits and right up at the top of the healthy fruits list. The plum season goes from the months of May through October. There are several different varieties of plums that are grown which appears to give them such a long growing season but it is simply because different varieties ripen at different times with Japanese plums being the first to ripen and the European plums ripening closer to October. This year was the first year that our trees were loaded with plums. It was so nice to be able to go out and just pluck a couple of plums right off the tree for my breakfast in the mornings!
Plums have a “stone” pit in the middle and are closely related to peaches, nectarines and even almonds. The fruits are medium-sized and range between 1 and 3 inches in diameter and tend to have more of an oval shape. The fruits peel is smooth and may have a tart taste and the flesh can range in color from white, yellow or purple depending on the variety.

Plums have some amazing nutritional and health benefits. Here are a few of them:
Fiber: I think when many of us think of prunes we may think of this benefit but just consuming fresh plums provide the same benefit. Not only do they contain the fiber but they also contain sorbitol and isatin which have been known to help regulate the digestive tract and get rid of constipation.

Antioxidants:Plums are loaded with antioxidants, which help to rid the body of the substances called free radicals that plays a major role in precipitating illness in our bodies. Some of the antioxidants they contain are lutein, cryptoxanthin and zea-zanthin which is very helpful for the retina of the eye and its ability protect itself from the UV rays our eyes are exposed to daily.
Iron Absorption and Vitamin C: Plums have been proven to help the body absorb iron which could be related to the fact that they are high in Vitamin C.
Vitamin C is essential for a strong immune system, healthy blood vessels and arteries and also great for anyone suffering any sort of arthritis. This is one of the reasons that consuming more vegetable and fruits high in Vitamin C are better for the body overall and may reduce risks of heart disease and strokes.
If you enjoy growing your own fruit trees plums might be a fruit you would like to give a try. First you will need to make sure you are growing a variety that will do well in your particular climate. As we talked about earlier there are many different varieties so do a bit of research for your area. The three categories are the European, which work in most climates in the U.S. The Japanese which seem to grow very well in close proximity to peach trees and then the Damson which grows in a variety of places around the U.S as well and tends to be more of a self pollinating plum. Plum trees should be planted in a well drained soil that is located in full sun.
This year we had our first crop! It was quite abundant so I was able to make some things with the plums to preserve them such as making fruit leather for a great healthy snack!

And as we end this “plumalicious” blog that we both enjoyed writing even though it took us a while! I want to leave you with this delicious sounding recipe I found that I want to try soon, when the next batch of plums comes in… make some chicken or this delicious Vienna Plum Cake!