Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Double Chocolate Stuffed Dates





When I NEED something sweet without a sugar crash I love the simple combination of energizing dates stuffed with creamy nut butter and dark chocolate. Today was one of those days, but my chocolate craving was out of control, so I decided to take my dates a step further by using my chocolate-cinnamon-maple almond butter http://www.fig-mintblog.com/2013/11/salted-dark-chocolate-maple-almond.html. Use your favorite chocolate and any nut butter you have on hand. These little bites are sweet and salty perfection!







Monday, January 20, 2014

Butternut Squash + Kale + White Bean Stew with Chicken

After a long winter day I love coming home to a warm bowl of soup. This rich and hearty stew is  a meal in a pot full of greens, beans and vegetables. I like to add chicken for extra protein but can easily be made vegetarian by substituing the chicken stock with water or vegetable stock. This stew is built using basic techniques. Each step a layering of flavors. It can be customized with the seasons and whatever ingredients you have on hand. In the summer try using zucchini, fresh tomatoes, green beans and spinach. The spring, asparagus and shelled peas. But, winter for me is all about dark greens and sweet bright orange squash.



This stew also freezes really well I like to portion it out and freeze it in individual containers so I have a last minute meal with no fuss.

Butternut Squash, Kale, White Bean Stew with Chicken

1 cup dried Cannelini or Cranberry beans (or 2-3 cups cooked beans)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 celery stocks, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons salt
3 cups chicken stock or water
1 14 oz can fire roasted, chopped tomato
1 large bunch of kale, stems removed, coarsely chopped
2 cups butternut squash, peeled seeded and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
Chicken, cooked and shredded (optional)
Parmesan (optional)

Soak beans overnight. Drain. Place beans in a sauce pan and cover with at least 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 1/2- 2 hours, or until the beans are soft and fully cooked. Salt and set aside. 

In a large pot heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, and celery. Cook until tender, about 15 minutes.

Add bay leaf, sage, rosemary, garlic and salt. Cook for 5 more minutes. Add the kale and tomato for an additional five minutes. 

Add 3 cups of stock or water and simmer for 15minutes. Add squash and cook until tender about 10-15 minutes. Add the beans and chicken. Salt if necessary. Serve with ground pepper and grated parmesan.

Planning Ahead:

The night before-

1. Soak beans
2. Make chicken stock and reserve the chicken. 



Sunday, December 29, 2013

Baked Blueberry Oatmeal

December has been an exciting month full of adventure and firsts. I took full advantage of the holiday season exploring the city like a tourist. Visiting the christmas markets, the train show at the Botanical Gardens and the tree at Rockerfeller Center. Bundling up and taking long walks through Central Park, decorating a beautiful tree and Saturday afternoon brunching. Brunch may be my new favorite thing. Like ever.
blueberry oatmeal + gingerbread almond butter + scrambled eggs


Creamy scrambled eggs with grass fed butter, paleo pumpkin chip muffins, steamy cups of french pressed coffee and my new obsession; BAKED OATMEAL. This healthy oatmeal bake is total comfort food bursting with juicy blueberries.



This is a basic recipe with endless possibilities. Experiment using different fruit, nuts, and spices. I personally like my oatmeal a little soupy. If you like it drier scale back on the milk. I love it topped with nut butter but if you prefer a more crunchy texture then add 1/4 cup chopped almonds to the mix. Sliced bananas or pumpkin puree also made a delicious addition. It reheats beautifully so it can be made ahead of time. It is really simple and can easily be doubled to feed a crowd or can be made in individual ramekins for a perfect single portion.



Baked Blueberry Oatmeal
(makes 2 hearty servings)

Ingredients:

1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 egg
1 cup milk (fresh almond milk is my favorite)
2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 rolled oats (I like to used gluten free old fashion oats)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
optional: 1/4 cup almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped

Directions:



1. Preheat oven to 350 F

2. Sprinkle the blueberries over the bottom of a small (3-4 cup baking dish). Reserve a few blueberries to sprinkle over the top before you put in the oven

3. In a medium bowl whisk together the egg, milk, vanilla, maple syrup, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the oats and baking powder and pour the mixture over the blueberries.

4. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top is golden and the blueberries are bursting.



Saturday, November 30, 2013

Gingerbread Almond Butter

It is no secret that the way to my heart is through almond butter. Over the past few years (with the exception of my brief cleansing phase) I cannot remember a day without it. Only recently have I began creating my own nut butters. They are simple, inexpensive and far more delicious than anything you can buy in a jar. I am constantly experimenting and dreaming up new flavors.  December has arrived and mind is wandering to egg nog, gingerbread and mint chocolate.



Growing up during the holiday season my mother and I would always bake gingerbread cookies which I would frost to the point that that were completely inedible. The raw batter was my favorite part so my over enthusiastic icing skills did not interfere with my gingerbread fix. This festive nut butter brings me back to my dough eating days of a child. It has a slight bitterness from the molasses but is also sweet and warmly spiced. Everything you would want in a gingerbread cookie turned into a delectable spread.

Gingerbread Almond Butter:

2 cups almonds
1 tsp spice mix (see below)
1 TBSP molasses
1 TBSP maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp pink salt


Spice mix:

1 TBSP ground ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch of ground cardamon (optional)


Preheat your oven to 350.
Spread almonds on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 13 minutes. Turn 2-3 times while they are baking. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.

Transfer the almonds to a food processor and process until smooth, scraping the sides when necessary. Add the rest of the ingredients and continue to process. This will take a few more minutes.

Sage Roasted Butternut Squash

My recent market discovery turned obsession is a early winter squash variety called a Nutterbutter AKA Baby Butternut squash. These little babies are personal sized and have a sweet nutty flavor. I find them to be richer more intense then their grown up version.

Butternut squash is low in fat, high in dietary fiber and contains significant amounts of potassium. Its bright tangerine hue indicates its abundance of carotenoids. After one of my first squash binges this fall  I was feeling a little bit guilty, until I was informed that butternut squash contains 2/3 the calories and 1/2 the carbs of a sweet potato. So that clearly meant that I would replace my daily potato habit with double the amount of squash.


My favorite way to eat winter squash is simply roasted with olive oil and sage. Since Nutterbutters are not readily available (I have only seen them at Keiths farm at Union Square Market) Butternut squash makes a perfect substitute.


Sage Roasted Squash

1 lb squash, peeled and cut into cubes
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
salt + pepper
fresh sage

Preheat oven to 375
Line a baking sheet with parchment
Toss the squash cubes with olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper and a few torn sage leaves. Roast for about 45 minutes or until soft and caramelized.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Pumpkin Applesauce

This cinnamon spiced applesauce is my favorite healthy way to get my pumpkin fix. To keep me from over doing it on thanksgiving pumpkin pie I always make a batch of applesauce first thing in the morning to snack on throughout the day. This fall favorite is delicious served besides your turkey added to pancake batter or to sweeten greek yogurt.


Applesauce is one of my favorite snacks to have prepared when I am on the go. This afternoon I mixed it with the rest of my batch of cranberry applesauce and OMG was it heavenly! Like thanksgiving in a bowl... topped with nut butter of course :)

Pumpkin Applesauce

Ingredients:

2 1/2 pounds fuji apples, cored and chopped
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup apple cider
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

In a heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat, combine apples, cinnamon, vanilla bean (if you are using extract add with the pumpkin puree)  and cider (start with 3/4 cup and add the rest if needed while cooking. The liquid will not cover the apples. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat. Simmer the apples, partially covered for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the apples are super soft.

Once the apples are nice and tender, remove the vanilla bean.
Transfer apples to a food processor. Add pumpkin puree. Puree until smooth.

Store applesauce in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to a week.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Salted Dark Chocolate Maple Almond Butter with Cinnamon

Few things make me as happy as chocolate. Maybe boxing, Butt Blast Fridays (yes, its a thing) or gyrotonics come close. But lets be honest those really are just a means for me to eat more chocolate. I do have a sweet tooth so finding healthy ways to indulge is key to keeping my sanity. Dessert for me is not really dessert unless it contains chocolate. I would choose a few pieces of dark chocolate over an ice cream sundae any day so I could definitely have a worse vice.


My Cinnamon Maple Almond Butter http://www.fig-mintblog.com/2013/10/maple-cinnamon-almond-butter.html has become a daily addiction. So I started thinking... what could make it even better? Chocolate! This butter is straight up decadent. It has a slight bitterness from the cocoa but is balanced by the maple syrup. Not only is it totally delicious but it is also good for you. Almonds are rich in protein, maple syrup is full of vitamins and minerals. Cinnamon helps regulate blood sugar and chocolate is loaded with antioxidants.


Salted Dark Chocolate Maple Almond Butter with Cinnamon

2 cups of almonds
2 TBSP unsweetened cacao powder
2 TBSP pure maple syrup or more
1/8-1/4 tsp pink salt
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350.

Spread the almonds on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes. Turn a few times so the almonds don't burn. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.

add the almonds to a food processor and process until creamy and buttery. This will take some time. Add the rest of your ingredients and continue to process. Scraping the sides down. This butter took about 15 minutes so be patient...

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Cranberry Applesauce

Its beginning to feel a lot like winter and I am craving cozy comfort foods. So naturally I have to find guilt free ways to satisfy these cravings. Lately I have been doing this in the form of mugs filled of cinnamon spiced coffee, roasted winter squashes, a few too many scoops of almond butter and seasonal applesauces.


I use the same basic recipe for my applesauce and I let what ever ingredients are in season inspire me.  Cranberries have recently popped up on the stands so they were this mornings inspiration. Beautifully pink and deliciously tart they are usually prepared with lots of sweetener and are often limited to the holidays.

I like to use Fuji apples because they are naturally sweet and balance out the tartness of the cranberries for a delicious sugar free treat. This sauce makes a festive side for the holidays or the perfect afternoon snack topped with nut butter or swirled into yogurt. 



CRANBERRY APPLESAUCE

2 1/2 lbs Fuji apples, chopped
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1 apple cider (if you can find Raspberry/Apple or Cranberry/Apple is is delicious here)
seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean or 1/2-1 tsp vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon


In a heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat, combine apples, cranberries, cinnamon, vanilla bean and cider (start with 3/4 cup and add the rest if needed while cooking.) Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat. Simmer, partially covered for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the apples are super soft.

Once apples are nice and tender, remove vanilla bean. Transfer apples to a food processor and puree until smooth. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Will store in a sealed container for up to a week.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Maple Acorn Squash

My love of butternut squash tends to make me neglect some of the other seasonal varieties. I have basically been eating my weight in squash and this evening I felt like something special. This maple glazed acorn squash is like vegetable candy! Perfect for holiday entertaining but simple enough for a weeknight side.


My favorite way to roast this acorn squash is with grass-fed butter and a sprinkle of nutmeg but fresh herbs make a lovely addition.


Maple Glazed Acorn Squash

(makes 2 servings)

1 acorn squash
grass-fed butter, olive oil or coconut oil
maple syrup
freshly grated nutmeg
fresh herbs (sage, thyme, rosemary- optional)

Preheat oven to 400.

Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Slice off a small portion of the bottom so the squash can stand upright. Place squash on a parchment lined baking sheet. Add 1/2 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of maple syrup in each half. Brush the top with some of the syrup mixture. Grate some nutmeg or add fresh herbs.

Place in the oven. Roast for about 1 or more brushing the frequently with the syrup.





Saturday, November 9, 2013

Gingerbread Simple Syrup

My daily morning routine for the past few months has included 7:00 am trips to HU Kitchen for coffee. Now that I am required to bundle the walk to 14th St. has become a dreaded mission. So it may be about time for this little home cook to stay in her pjs and learn how to make a proper cup of coffee.


My father, who I must say makes one of the best cups of Joe I have ever tasted offered to show me his ways and shipped me an Amazon package filled with a fancy grinder, french press and a milk steamer. Now, I have no excuse... He explained to me the importance of fresh grinding right before the pour, the correct ratio of beans to water and the proper technique to steaming milk for a frothy "latte."

Thanksgiving is weeks away but I am already dreaming of December holidays. After creating the pumpkin spice simple syrup I began to think about other seasonal treats to sweeten my brew.

Growing up I always loved gingerbread. My mother had a friend in Woodstock who we would visit during the colder months. I remember sitting around the kitchen table drinking homemade chai and eating thick slices of spicy gingerbread topped with lemon curd. As I got older gingerbread became one of my favorite things to bake during the holiday season.


This syrup taste just like Christmas! Bittersweet molasses with a warm heat from ginger, cinnamon and clove this festive and comforting sweetener is a must try for gingerbread lovers.



Gingerbread Syrup

1 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup water
1 to 1 1/2 tsp gingerbread spice mix (see below)
seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla extract
1 TBSP blackstrap molasses


Spice Mix

1 TBSP ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Combine the coconut sugar and water in a small pan on a low flame. Mix to dissolve the sugar and then add the spice mix and molasses. Simmer stirring often for 5-7 minutes. Allow to cool and refrigerate.

Add to coffee with your favorite milk!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Roasted Brussel Sprouts


As a kid you could not get me to touch a brussel sprout. But now I absolutely love them and not just because I know they are good for me. These simple roasted brussel sprouts are salty and addictive. The outsides roast up brown and crispy while the insides are perfectly creamy.




Roasted Brussel Sprouts

1 1/2 lb brussel sprouts, trimmed
3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon course sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 400.

 Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Toss all the ingredients in a bowl

Roast for 35-40 minutes, mixing occasionally until the outsides are dark and crisp and the insides are tender. Sprinkle with more salt and serve!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Maple Cinnamon Almond Butter

As the weather gets cooler I really go into hibernation mode. Spending the next 6 months in my pajamas on the couch eating nut butter sounds pretty heavenly. This butter was a result of some breakfast food day dreaming. I was imagining making thick cinnamony sticks of ezekiel french toast and dipping them in a maple almond sauce. Pretty amazing.. I know. Well my birthday week has been filled with a few too many indulgences so I put the toast on hold and created another nut butter! This maple butter captures the cozy flavors of autumn, and will certainly do the trick until after I have to fit into my halloween spandex.



Maple Cinnamon Almond Butter

2 cups almonds
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp pink sea salt
2 TBSP maple syrup

Preheat your oven to 350. Roast almonds for 12-15 minutes depending on how dark and toasty you want your butter. Remove the almonds and allow to cool for about 5-10 minutes.

Add the almonds to your food processor and process until smooth and buttery scraping down the sides when necessary. Be patient. This takes time. Add the rest of the ingredients and continue to process until combined.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pumpkin Spice Simple Syrup

Determined to perfect the seasonal fall spiced latte I decided to experiment making my own clean version of a simple syrup. Since the Starbucks pumpkin latte is basically expresso with steamed milk and pumpkin-flavored syrup I figured a liquid sweetener would be a closer replica then my previous pumpkin creamer (which is an amazing indulgence of its own).

The Starbucks syrup we have grown to love does not actually contain any pumpkin but is made with condensed milk, sugar and high fructose corn syrup in addition to other artificial ingredients. I sweetened my syrup with coconut sugar and flavored it with fresh pumpkin and spices. Coconut sugar is a natural sweetener low on the glycemic index and full with vitamins, minerals and amino acids.



Make your own pumpkin latte by adding this syrup to your coffee along with your favorite milk. I love coconut milk in my coffee. This syrup would also be delicious added to autumn inspired cocktails!



Pumpkin Spice Simple Syrup

1 cup coconut sugar (I used vanilla coconut sugar but you can use vanilla extract instead)
1/2 cup water
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 heaping tablespoons pumpkin puree

Add the sugar and water to a small pot. Lightly heat, whisking to disolve the sugar. Add the pumpkin pie spice and puree and simmer on low for about 5-7 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Spiced Pumpkin Butter + Homemade Pumpkin Puree

Lightly sweetened with raw honey and spiced with ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves this pumpkin butter is what fall is all about! I am including two versions since I can't decide which one I like better. One using apple cider which I think makes a richer more traditional fall like butter. The second is bright and fresh with a touch of lemon. Use it as a topping for oatmeal, spread over toast, slathered on fresh fruit or as a filling for home made bars.



I am also including a basic recipe for pumpkin puree! I like to bake a few pumpkins at a time and then freeze the extra puree in 1/2 cup portions or make ice cubes to use for applesauce, smoothies, lattes...

Spiced Pumpkin Butter

Ingredients:

2 cups of pumpkin puree (see below)
1/4 cup apple cider OR 1 TBSP lemon juice + 1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 cup raw honey
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer over low heat for 35-40 minutes. Stir frequently or it will burn.


Pumpkin Puree

Preheat oven to 350

Cut your pumpkin in half and remove the seeds. Place face down on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake for about 90 minutes (until a fork can pierce through and the flesh is very soft.) Remove from the oven and let cool. Scoop our the flesh and place in a strainer to remove the excess water.

Transfer to a food processor and puree!


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Cauliflower Puree with Coconut Milk

One thing a lot of people do not know about me is that before cooking school I was a double major in college and studied art. I never really found my niche or medium until I started cooking and learned to express myself through food. Now the plate is my palate and I paint with vegetables. I don't like my food complicated so I try to pull inspiration from what is in season and then highlight the flavors with simple techniques.


My latest muse at the market was a head of deep purple cauliflower. My mind immediately went to a creamy lavender hued mash.



Not only is the color of this puree amazing it is absolutely delicious and could not be simpler.  Who  needs potatoes when you can have this low carb, dairy free coconutty puree ?! This can be made with any cauliflower but I love the dramatic color of the purple variety.



Cauliflower Puree with Coconut Milk

1 lb cauliflower, purple, yellow or white
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 TBSP coconut oil
1 clove garlic, smashed
salt + pepper

Steamed the cauliflower until soft.

Combine the rest of the ingredients in a small saucepan and gently heat for 1-2 minutes.

Transfer the cauliflower into a food processor and process until smooth. Add the coconut milk mixture and process to combine. Season to taste.

Chocolate Chunk Pear Bread

I tend to wake up very early in the morning. In the summer I blamed it on the sun, but now that autumn is here I play in the kitchen in the dark. I am usually making nut butters or grilling chicken and steaming vegetables for lunch. On this cool fall morning I felt like making something special and searched my drawers for inspiration. My kitchen was fully stocked with farm fresh eggs, sweet almond flour, fat juicy dates and fresh pears from the market.



The girls at work recently joined me in primarily eating gluten and dairy free so I decided to take a stab at baking and make them some treats. I am not much of a baker but there is nothing more comforting than an apartment filled with the scent of freshly baked goods.

I am not sure the best way to describe this early morning experiment. It is somewhere between a bread and a cake. And I imagine it would make a delicious muffin. Moist, sweet and cinnamon spiced with crunchy walnuts and chunks of dark chocolate.




Chocolate Chunk Pear Bread

2 cups chopped pears
1/2 cup dates
2 eggs
1 cup almond flour
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp himalayan pink salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
3/4 cup ruffly chopped walnuts
approx 1/2 cup dairy free chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F
2. Line a 8 X 8 pyrex with parchment paper
3. Combine the pears, dates and eggs into a food processer and process until smooth.
4. Mix all the dry ingredients and add to the batter while the processor is still running.
5. Slowly pour in the melted coconut oil until combined.
6. Fold in the walnuts and chocolate chunks.
7. Bake for about 45 minutes or insert a tooth pick in the center and it comes out clean


topped with grass-fed butter and honey

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Pumpkin Spice Coconut Creamer

It is officially fall, which in my mind clearly means scarves, apples and pumpkins! Pumpkin season always feels like a time to celebrate. Pumpkin pie, pancakes, muffins, oatmeal, smoothies, lattes... the possibilities seem endless! And there is nothing I love more than recreating clean versions of my favorite treats. This non dairy creamer is my healthy answer to the fall pumpkin latte craze. Naturally sweetened and pie spiced this creamy latte is reason enough to get out of bed.



Pumpin Spice Coconut Creamer

1 can full fat coconut milk
1 raw egg
2 TBSP melted coconut oil
2 TBSP raw honey or maple syrup
1 TBSP vanilla extract
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 heaping TBSP pumpkin puree


Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooh. Store in the fridge for up to 5 days.

To make a Pumpkin Latte combine 1 cup hot coffee and gently heated creamer to taste (anywhere from 1/4-1 cup) and blend until frothy. Top with cinnamon and enjoy.







Sunday, September 22, 2013

Roasted Vegetables with Maple-Balsamic Glaze


These roasted vegetables are perfect for late summer and early fall when summer squash and eggplants are still in season but beets and sweet potatoes have come to town. As the veggies roast they begin to crisp and caramelize releasing their natural sugars while the centers become soft and creamy. A final dressing of maple and balsamic elevates them from simple to completely hedonistic. Sweet and savory with a burst of freshness from the basil these vegetables are delectable.  



Roasting is one of my favorite ways to cook my vegetables and is a simple technique every home cook should have in their repertoire. It is especially useful during the colder months when you no longer want to fire up the grill and instead crave the warmth of the oven. Almost any vegetable can be roasted so you can use up large amounts of produce, they are great for serving a crowd or as leftovers.

For perfect roasting:

1. Cut your vegetables the same size- so they cook evenly
2. Coat evenly with oil and season
3. Hot oven- 375 -450
4. Time- the longer your vegetables cook the more they caramelize
5. For easy clean up I recommend roasting on a parchment covered baking sheet
6. Have fun combing different veggies- I like to separately cook starchy vegetables since they take longer to cook.


These roasted vegetables are all about highlighting the ingredients so I highly suggest you source the best quality vegetables, oil and vinegar you can get your hands on. I had a special bottle balsamic vinegar that I had been saving for a rainy day. Though more expensive than your average vinegar it is worth the splurge. Thick like syrup it transforms these vegetables into veggie candy! If a fancy balsamic is not in your budget and you still want a thicker dressing refer below on how to reduce your own vinegar.


Roasted Vegetables with Maple-Balsamic Glaze

2 summer squash, cut into rounds
2 red bell peppers, cut into 1 inch dice
2 eggplants ( I used the small japanese) , cut into 1 inch dice
1 red onion, cut into 1 inch dice
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
4 beets, peeled and cut into quarters
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp sea salt
pinch of ground pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Dressing

1/4 cup balsamic
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp salt
pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
basil

1. Preheat the oven to 375.

2. Place the sweet potatoes in one bowl. The beets in another. And the remaining vegetables in a third bowl.

3. Whisk the oil, salt, pepper and garlic and divide between the three bowls. Mix well to coat all of the vegetables.

4. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. On one place the beets and the sweet potatoes with enough room between the two so the beets do not bleed all over. Place the remaining  vegetables on the other sheet.

5. Roast for about 30 minutes or until tender and lightly caramelized. Tossing occasionally.  Remove the squash mixture and continue cooking the beets and potatoes for another 15 minutes or so. Let cool.

6. Mix all of the dressing ingredients in a bowl and whisk until emulsified. When the vegetables reach room temperature, place them in a large bowl, leaving the beets until last. Drizzle with dressing and gently combine. Transfer to a platter and scatter with basil.

If you are not serving the vegetables for a large group and would like to save some for leftovers I would put aside some undressed vegetables and toss before eating!


* Pour 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan and bring to boil. Lower the heat and simmer rapidly, uncovered, until the liquid is reduced to 1/4 cup, about 10 minutes.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Concord-Fuji Applesauce

This applesauce was inspired by a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Weird, I know, but one of my favorite snacks is cold applesauce topped with nut butter. So some how I figured the addition of grapes would satisfy the same craving  but without straying from my diet. Well.. I was right! This applesauce is rich and jammy and really yummy. Since Concord grapes have a very short season stock up now and freeze them for later.



Concord-Fuji Applesauce

2 1/2 lb Fuji apples, diced
1 cup seedless Concord grapes (fresh or frozen)
1/2 vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup apple cider



1. Combine all your ingredients into a large pot.
2. Bring to a boil and then simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes or until your apples are really soft.
3. Remove the vanilla bean and transfer into a food processor and process until smooth. If you like your apple sauce chunky then mash it by hand with a potato masher. Refrigerate.

Applesauce with Roasted Cinnamon Almond Butter

Roasted Cinnamon Almond Butter

Nut butters are my ultimate weakness. I have tricked myself into believing  that I only consume a tablespoon a day.  I do in fact measure it out with a tablespoon, but the spoon is usually completely overflowing with creamy gooey goodness. It is one of my simple pleasures along with coffee and dark chocolate and my day is not complete with out it. I really try to not have my nut butters for breakfast because it gives me something to look forward to all day.  This roasted cinnamon almond butter is my absolute favorite for fall. In the summer I prefer a much lighter toasted butter but when the chill hits the air I want a cinnamony cozy butter. Spread on apples, bananas or toast this butter is absolute heaven.


Roasted Cinnamon Almond Butter

2 cups almonds
1/8 tsp pink salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350.
Spread the almonds on a parchment covered baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Allow the almonds to cool and then transfer to a food processor. Process until smooth and creamy. About 15 minutes. Add the salt and cinnamon and process until well combined. Store in fridge.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Roasted Concord Grapes

I apologize for posting so many pictures of sweet potatoes but this fall inspired spud was just OUT OF CONTROL! This potato was first baked for about an hour. The filling was then removed and combined with goat cheese, cinnamon, nutmeg and maldon flaked salt. Returned to the skin, topped with more goat cheese and back into the oven for a few minutes. A final topping of roasted concord grapes, walnuts and honey drizzle to seal the deal.

If you are not a fan of sweet potatoes these grapes would be a delicious topping spread over toast or as an addition to your favorite cheese plate. A seriously easy brunch or appetizer to impress. The roasted grapes can be made ahead of time and served cool or at room temperature making them a special way to brighten your dish with no last minute fuss. 

If you have never had a concord grape I highly suggest you go to your local farmers market ASAP. They have a short season and are one of the jewels of early fall. Concord grapes taste like the jelly or grape juice you remember as a kid. Roasted they are both intensely savory and candy sweet.




Roasted Grapes

2 cups seedless grapes (concord or any other variety)
1 tsp olive oil
pinch of sea salt

Preheat your oven to 400.
Spread the grapes on a parchment covered baking sheet and toss with oil and salt. Roast for about 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Peaches and Green Popsicles

Fall is in the air so I am a little late experimenting with popsicles but I plan to enjoy the last few hot days of summer before my sweaters come out and pumpkins take over my life.  I know over the last few weeks I have been a bit obsessed with all things green but with my weekly deliveries of spinach and kale I am giving my vitamix a run for its money and going green.

These pops are one of my favorite smoothie recipes frozen into popsicle form. Refreshing and peachy they are a cool guilt free summer treat. Have fun experimenting making your own combinations! For a tropical escape replace the peaches with pineapple. Or for a creamier texture use almond or coconut milk in place of the water.




Peaches and Green 

1-2 handfuls of spinach
1  banana
1/2 cup mango
1/2 cup peaches
enough water to blend

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Pour into popsicle molds and freeze for at least 2 hours.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Garden Greens with Apple

I spent this past Labor day weekend visiting my parents, playing in the garden and cooking on the grill. I returned to my apartment with bags full of greens, fresh herbs and sun gold tomatoes. This time of the year I have a hard time not buying every vegetable in site or taking advantage of my mothers harvest so my fridge is completely over stocked. There is nothing I hate more than when food goes to waste so I have basically moved into my kitchen.  This morning for breakfast I had my absolute favorite green kale smoothie.


But by mid afternoon my craving for greens snuck up on me again. Could definitely be craving worst things :)  I pulled out whatever I had and began running my juicer. This juice was just perfect. Light, bright and slightly sweet.





Garden Greens with Apple

Large handful of : kale, spinach
parsley
1 large cucumber
1/2-1 apple

Run all ingredients through a juicer


Melon Milk

Summer is coming to an end and grapes, winter squash and the first harvest of apples are making their debut at the market. When September hits I stock up on berries and melons to freeze to preserve the tastes of summer.

I love making melon juice by simply blending cubed melon (cantaloup, watermelon or honeydew). The last batch of cantaloup I blended up was not as sweet and flavorful as I would have liked, so instead of drinking my melon juice I froze it in ice cube trays for a later use.



This afternoon I was cleaning out my fridge in order to make more room to fit everything I had purchased at the morning market. I was craving something light and refreshing. I had some leftover Almond milk with fresh vanilla bean in the fridge and decided to throw in some of my melon cubes, a pinch of cinnamon and a date to bring out the natural sweetness. I didn't expect much out of my mindless concotion but after one sip I wondered why I had never though of this before! If you are looking for a thick filling smoothie then this milk is not for you, but as a cool summery creamy beverage this totally hit the spot!

Melon Milk

one serving

Frozen Melon cubes (aprox 1/2 cup or more)
1 cup vanilla almond milk
pinch of cinnamon
1 date, pitted

Blend!

Vanilla Bean Nut Milk

1 cup almonds or brazil nuts soaked overnight
4 cups of water
seeds scraped from 1/2 vanilla bean
small pinch of celtic sea salt
A nut bag

In a high speed blender combine nuts and water. Blend for about 2 minutes and then strain in the nut bag. Return the liquid to the blender and add the vanilla bean and salt. Blend to combine. Store in the fridge for 2-3 days.

* I usually make my nut milks unsweetened so I can sweeten it later according to its use


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sweet Greens

Move over Popeye, Kale is the hottest green in town! Often referred to as the "new beef" "queens of greens" and a "nutritional power house" kale is all the rave. A leafy green vegetable belonging to the Brassica family, kale is extremely high in iron and rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It is a key ingredient in green juices and often used for cleansing and detoxifying. 

My favorite way to consume this superfood is blended up with plenty of fruit into a smoothie. I like using dinosaur kale, also known as Lacinato kale in my smoothies.  It has a sweeter more delicate taste than curly kale. Baby kale is also delicious.  Perfect for kids, or adults who don't eat their veggies, this smoothie is a refreshingly sweet and creamy way to sneak in some extra greens in your diet. For an added boost a scoop of protein powder makes this a perfect post workout shake! 



Sweet Greens

serves 1
3 large leaves of kale, no stems or a handful of baby kale
1-2 frozen banana
1 date, pitted
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup ice
1 cup almond milk 
optional: scoop of protein powder

Combine all ingredients in a blender, blend well! 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Baked Carrot Fries

Sweet potatoes are my first love so I tend to neglect some of the other heartier vegetables like carrots, beets and parsnips. I spent this past weekend in the Hamptons with a few friends and we spent a lot of time cooking. My friend Steve made the best slow cooked cedar plank salmon I have ever had. It actually took about 4 hours since we had a little mishap with the grill. More on that another time... Rob however made carrot fries, that may possibly have forever changed the way I view the humble carrot. Simply baked till crispy and golden these fries are are intensely sweet and salty and insanely addicting. Rob bought an excessive amount of carrots which I personally felt was unnecessary, but by the end of the meal there was not a fry in sight.

 My first stop Monday morning was at the farmers market where I picked up a big batch of carrots. These fries were just as magical coming out of my own kitchen and will definitely be added in to my regular rotation.



Baked Carrot Fries

1 lb carrots, skin on and scrubbed, cut into fries
Extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
pepper


Preheat the oven to 375.

Line a baking sheet with Parchment. Toss the carrots with 1 Tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper.
Bake for about an hour or so. Toss 2-3 times while they roast!


grilled chicken with steamed broccoli, romano green beans,
roasted fairy tales, avocado and carrot fries!

Check out my buddy Rob at http://www.bandanatraining.com/   Not only is he a fabulous cook (who knew?!) who is super knowledgeable about nutrition, but he is also a kick ass trainer who also does online coaching, and has one of the most hilarious but totally informative twitter/face book feeds. Rob is basically just awesome and you should follow him @Bandana Training!

Chia Jam

My mother recently came to visit and brought bags of blueberries from her garden. The berries were a little tart for snacking or to add to smoothies so jam felt like the way to go. She also included a jar of honey from her bees. So on a rainy Friday night I decided to bail on my evening plans and stay home, listen to music and experiment in the kitchen.

Growing up we made a lot of jam in my house. Using berries we picked minutes earlier and lots of sugar! I always loved how as the jam cooked the kitchen would smell of pie. A smell I have not experienced in a very long time. We would can our jam for the winter and I would eat endless peanut butter and jam sandwiches.

Cinnamon Raisin Ezekiel with Almond Butter and
 Blueberry Chia Jam


PB and J's were always my ultimate comfort food, and something I really do miss. I am a total nut butter addict so I do get my fix but I had accepted that fresh summer jam was out. So you can imagine my excitement when I developed a healthy alternative to a childhood favorite! This jam is lightly sweetened with raw honey and thickened with chia seeds and tastes just like summer! 



Baked Sweet Potato straight from the fridge with
Almond Butter, Strawberry Chia Jam and Cinnamon


CHIA JAM

3 cups berries (blueberries, strawberries or raspberries)
seeds from 1/3 vanilla bean or 1 tsp extract
3-4 TBSP raw honey or maple syrup
2 TBSP chia seeds

Add berries, 3 TBSP honey and seeds from 1/3 vanilla bean (if using extract omit this step)  to a pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often.

Add the chia seeds and cook for another 15 minutes.

 Remove from the heat and test for sweetness. Add another tablespoon of honey if necessary. If you are using vanilla extract add it now. Remove from the heat and let cool. The jam will thicken in the fridge and keep for about 2 weeks.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Fish in Charmoula

Last night my father came over for dinner, so it was the perfect excuse for me to break out of my routine and make a dinner to impress. When I cook for myself I eat a lot of the same things and don't really follow recipes. I usually just throw together whatever vegetables I find at the market, top them with grilled chicken and avocado and call it a day. I truly never get tired of these colorful bowls but when I entertain I love to pull out my cook books and dust off my spices. I like following recipes because I feel like I am eating someone else's cooking in the comfort of my own home. It forces me to think beyond my imagination and visit new regions and flavors of the world.

This fish in charmoula is an old favorite recipe of mine from Myra Kornfeld's Healthy Hedonist. Charmoula is a moroccan herb and spice vinaigrette which is poured over fish fillets and baked on top of a bed of caramelized onions, sun-dried tomatoes and olives.




This exotic dish is a delight for your senses and filled with surprises. It is bright with fresh herbs and well spiced without too much heat. Salty and savory with sun-dried tomatoes and briny olives. The sweet flaky fish is the perfect compliment to the intensely rich bold flavors.






Fish in Charmoula

Adapted from Myra Kornfelds, Healthy Hedonist


1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced (1 cup)
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in warm water until softened, drained, and cut into thin strips
1/2 cup olives, preferably Gaeta or kalamata
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup lemon juice (if you can find meyer lemons
salt
Four 5-ounce pieces stripped bass, red snapper or thick white fish fillets, skinned
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Warm 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions and sauté until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and the oilives, and saute to heat through. Pour the mixture into a baking dish that is large enough to hold the fish in a single layer.

Prepare the charmoula: Stir the garlic, parsley, cilantro, paprika, cumin, lemon juice, remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt together in a small bowl.

Sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper, and place it on top of the onion mixture. Cover the fish with the charmoula. Bake until the fish is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Serve hot


 
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