Carrot Ginger Zinger Soup

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 As the colder weather sets in and the gray days get shorter, it is time for soup season to begin! This is one of my favorite soups to transition from the long summer days outside into the cooler autumn afternoons in my kitchen. My beloved soup pot eagerly awaits this treasure! The rich colors and flavors of root vegetables paired with the zing of fresh ginger make this a deliciously light meal that packs a nutritional punch. Lots of vitamin C and antioxidants boost the immune system for the cold and flu season right around the corner. I like to add steamed kale and roasted chicken to my zinger soup to make it a full meal deal with plenty of protein and leafy greens. InJoy!

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2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup chopped white onion

4 cups chopped carrots

4 cups vegetable broth

1 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh peeled ginger

1 tablespoon lemon juice

14-ounce can coconut milk

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1) Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.

2) Add the carrots, broth, orange juice, ginger, and lemon juice; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.

3) Remove from the heat. Puree with immersion blender or food processor, until very smooth.

4) Return the soup to the saucepan and stir in the coconut milk, salt, and pepper. Reheat the soup over medium heat until hot. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.

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Homemade Vegan and Grain-Free Almond Joy Bars

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This is the kind of recipe that should always be shared with loved ones. When I know I will be inviting a group of friends over or attending a potluck, I like to prepare the most decedent side dish or dessert I can come up with. The kind of thing I couldn’t consider making on any random day because I would single handedly finish it. Sometimes it’s dates stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in prosciutto. Other times it’s baked brie drizzled with fresh fruit preserves and slivered almonds. For this weekend’s ladies clothing swap, enter: the homemade Almond Joy Bar. This grain-free, dairy-free, no-bake dessert has six simple ingredients and is incredibly delicious! It was certainly a hit among the 20+ ladies surrounding the snack table in my kitchen on Sunday. Injoy!

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Ingredients:

   Crust:


1 cup almond meal

2 Tbls maple syrup

1 Tbls melted coconut oil

1/4 tsp pure almond extract

Pinch of salt

   Coconut Filling:


1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

2 Tbls maple syrup

2 Tbls. coconut oil

1 Tbls water

   Chocolate Topping:


1/4 cup raw cacao powder or cocoa powder

1/4 cup melted coconut oil

2 Tbls. maple syrup (at room temperature)

Instructions:

  1. Line a standard loaf pan with parchment paper and set it aside.
  2. To prepare the crust, combine almond meal, maple syrup, coconut oil, almond extract, and salt in a medium bowl, and stir well until dough is formed. Press it evenly into the bottom of the lined loaf pan, and set aside.
  3. To prepare the coconut filling, combine all of the filling ingredients in the mixing bowl and stir well. Spread the coconut mixture over the crust, then use a spatula to smooth the top. Set aside.
  4. To prepare the chocolate topping, combine all of the ingredients in the mixing bowl and use a whisk to create a silky smooth chocolate sauce. (If any of your ingredients are cold, this sauce will firm up. If that happens, simply place the bowl in a hot water bath briefly to liquify the ingredients again.) Pour the chocolate sauce over the top of the coconut layer and smooth the top with a spatula.
  5. Place the pan in the freezer to set until firm, about one to two hours.
  6. To serve, pull on the parchment paper to easily remove the solid bar from the pan, then slice into bars and plate directly from the freezer. These bars will soften fairly quickly at room temperature, so it’s important to keep them chilled until ready to serve. Injoy!

 

Zucchini Pesto and Goodbyes

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This week has been full of goodbyes. My garden vegetables and herbs spring up with their last hopeful reach for the sun before returning to the earth until next spring. Autumn is right around the corner, so the time has come to bid farewell to long, warm summer nights and hot, sunny days on the lake. And my least favorite goodbye, a good friend Kelly is moving out of state. Portland gets all the cool kids!

Like tend I to do, out of necessity in the process or simply as an excuse to cook and eat, I invite Kelly over for one last meal to share before she hits the road. This is also the exact meal at which summer fades into fall within my kitchen. Huge zucchinis and tomatoes plucked from the vines will be replaced by Crockpot whole chickens and bone broth simmering on the stove. For tonight though, we basque in summer, and fresh zucchini with sundried tomatoes and fresh basil pesto is about as much summer flavor as a plate can handle.

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Ingredients:

2 large, fresh zucchinis

1 cup walnuts

2 cups fresh basil

½ cup high quality olive oil

2-4 cloves garlic

1 Tbls. fresh lemon juice

½ tsp. salt

Dash of pepper

¼ cup sundried tomatoes (jarred in oil if store-bought)

Instructions:

  1. Grate the zucchinis on a box grater, through the food processor or if you’re super fancy a with a zoodler!
  2. Combine all other ingredients besides sun-dried tomatoes in food processor and blend until incorporated, but slightly chunky. Mix in tomatoes by hand.
  3. Serve like a cold pasta dish… Place zucchini in a bowl and top with pesto. Viola! Injoy!

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And farewell, Kelly Dear! So many well wishes, new meal memories and southward visits coming your way!

Summer Collard Wraps

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This time of year, my garden begins bursting with fresh, delicious greens and I know it’s time to start putting together my favorite summer snack… Collard wraps! This recipe utilizes lots of fresh veggies and is super simple to put together. Since myself, and many of the people I know practice a mostly gluten or grain-free diet, these wraps are a crowd pleaser no matter what the occasion. I make them for picnics and potlucks, for lunch at least twice a week and as a delicious and nutritious meal on the trail. They are best when eaten the same day, but can be kept in the fridge for a few days if need be. Injoy!

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Ingredients:

8 large collard leaves

1 ½ cups raw sunflower seed pate

Grated carrots

Sprouts

Sliced avocado

Cucumber (sliced in quarters length-wise, then in half)

**Other filling options you would include in a sandwich**

~Roaster turkey, cheese, salami, tomatoes, pickles, etc.

Instructions:

  1. Bring large pot of water to a boil and blanch each leaf for 30-60 seconds until just softened. Gently remove with tongs and set on a plate to cool.
  2. To assemble the wrap, place a collard leaf onto a large plate or cutting board. Place a spoonful or two of pate on one end, and add other filling options on top of the pate. Fold the sides over and roll tightly like a burrito.
  3. Refrigerate right away or slice and serve.

 

Lemon Walnut Green Bean Salad

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I recently needed a quick, fresh side dish idea for a potluck picnic. This time of year, delicious green beans are in season and offer the perfect spring flavor to any meal. This recipe is a breeze to prepare and with the balance of nutrients in the fresh vegetables and the awesome healthy fats found in walnuts, it is a wonderful complement to a community gathering.

This dish can be made ahead of time, but I suggest leaving the walnuts out until serving to maintain crispness. Injoy!

 

Ingredients:

1 ½ pounds fresh green beans, ends trimmed

1 cup walnuts

2-4 Tbls fresh snipped chives

2 Tbls extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbls freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ tsp lemon zest

½ tsp sea salt

freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Bring a medium sized pot of water to boil. Add green beans and blanch for about 4-5 minutes until tender but still crisp.
  3. Drain using a colander and run under cold water to stop the cooking process. Place into a large bowl.
  4. Place the walnuts into an 8 x 8-inch baking dish and roast for about 10 minutes. Watch carefully as they burn easily.
  5. Place on a plate to cool, then chop and add to green beans.
  6. Wisk the remaining ingredients in a small bowl and add to the green beans and walnuts. Injoy!!

 

ABC Fudgesicles (Avocado, Banana, Cocoa/Coconut)

 

 

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With the warm summer weather in full swing, it is a great time to play with some fun, frozen, kitchen concoctions! These naturally sweetened fudgesicles are a hit amongst adults and kids alike. The creaminess of the avocado and banana combined with the sweet delicate coconut flavor works wonders in this delicious dessert.

In addition, it’s always great to find alternatives to the highly processed, super sugar laden dessert options found in the grocery store. Below are the ingredients lists from two popular brands of fudgesicles.

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Yikes!! High fructose corn syrup, aspartame, guar gum, carrageenan, artificial colors and flavors, plus loads of other difficult to pronounce chemicals… this is not the stuff you want to ingest or feed to your kids! Carrageenan for instance, is a gumming agent that is known to cause inflammation in the digestive tract, which is the root cause of ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease and certain types of cancer. In fact, drug investigators have actually used carrageenan in the past to cause inflammation in the tissues of laboratory animals in order to test the anti-inflammatory properties of new drugs. Steer clear of this harmful additive also found in most shelf stable milk alternatives, boxed almond milk, coconut etc. by making your own! The freshness and flavor can’t be beat! Injoy!

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Ingredients:

8 Medjool dates

½ cup water

1 medium avocado, pitted

2 small bananas (or 1 ½ large)

1 cup coconut milk (from a can)

5-7 Tbls raw cocoa powder

2 tsp. vanilla

pinch sea salt

 

Optional additions before blending:

½ cup fresh mint

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

 

Optional additions after blending

½ cup chopped walnuts

zest from ½ orange

dried coconut chips

 

Instructions:

1. Place the dates into your blender and cover with water. Pack the dates down so they are completely covered and let soak for 30 minutes.

2. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. Depending on your blender, you may need to add a little more water or coconut milk.

3. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze for at least 6 hours. Remove by running warm water over the molds to loosen fudgesicles.

 

** This recipe makes 8 fudgesicles, I used half of the quantities to make the 4 pops pictured. Another option is to serve the extra as pudding. It is delicious as a creamy unfrozen desert as well! Injoy!

Seattle Tilth’s Edible Plant Sale!

 

 

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This weekend brought us another awesome season of Seattle Tilth’s Edible Plant Sale! An extremely popular event, selling tons organic, heirloom, locally grown and non-GMO seed starters for Seattle area gardens. Every year the varieties seem to get more interesting and abundant. I didn’t even know that many types of tomatoes existed! I have attended the last 5 years to stock up on seedlings for my veggie garden, but this year I decided to volunteer as a cashier. The experience was unforgettable! I highly recommend getting involved with this wonderful organization!

The day began with a check-in at the Volunteer station! Delicious snacks, water and coffee were provided to kick the morning off right! At 8:15am (45 minutes before opening) I was greeted by a line of excited gardeners winding all the way around the park, waiting to enter. This was going to be a busy day!

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Tables full of awesome veggies, herbs and fruit trees waited to be chosen and taken home to their new plot of land. Volunteers checked every last table and stand to make sure everything was all ready to go.

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As the flood gates opened, anticipation and excitement filled the park with a rush home gardeners snatching up their favorite plant varieties!

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Meanwhile, lots of other activities, such as petting live chickens and goats…

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…and snacking on delicious local fare like Patty Pan’s (A farmer’s market personal favorite!) and fresh vegan doughnuts from Mighty O, were enjoyed by kids and adults alike.

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The ticket writing and cashiering went smoothly…

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…and Seattle gardeners found lots of baby plants to compliment their homes!

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All while being serenaded by some wonderful local talent!

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The Seattle Tilth’s Edible Plant Sale is scheduled twice a year, in March and May, and requires more than 400 volunteers to make it happen. Consider offering your time and expertise next year and and join all the fun! Check out Seattle Tilth for more information on this event and many other classes, events and tours they do. Injoy!

 

Raw Sunflower Seed Pate

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As the weather warms up and picnic season is in full swing, it is a great time to seek out healthy snack options. This sunflower seed pate is a versatile recipe to keep around your kitchen and prepare often. It is delicious as a dip for celery, carrots, cucumber or chips and crackers, is a great spread for sandwiches and an awesome compliment to lettuce or collard wraps. The seeds add a good amount of healthy fats and protein to balance out the carbohydrates in the above meal and snack options, and it is a tasty treat that will keep in your refrigerator for 7-10 days. Injoy!

Ingredients:

2 cups raw sunflower seeds, soaked 6-8 hours

1 cup chopped celery

¼ cup finely chopped shallots

2-3 Tbls. freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tsp. fresh time, chopped fine

½-1 tsp. sea salt

½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Drain and rinse sunflower seeds through a fine mesh strainer
  2. Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until desired consistency. I like mine fairly smooth with just a few chunks

 

5 Tasty and Refreshing Workout Waters

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Staying properly hydrated is the number one thing you can do for your body on a daily basis. When it comes to the health of our organs and digestion, fat loss, energy levels, sleep patters, brain function, our detoxification systems and nutritional choices… daily water consumption affects it all. And our bodies are made up of substantial amounts of water: The brain and heart are composed of 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water. The skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys are 79%, and even the bones are 31%. We need to drink plenty of water, plain and simple.

The problem is many people have a hard time getting in the ‘half your body weight in ounces’ recommendation. The #1 complaint I hear from clients is that they are bored with plain water. Skip the artificially flavored sugar packets and try these 5 refreshing, whole food based recipes to jazz up your water. I suggest investing in a water bottle that holds at least 32 ounces in order to track how much you’re drinking most efficiently. I really like my HydroFlask!

  1. ½ lime sliced thin, ½ lemon sliced thin, ½ cup packed fresh mint
  2. ½ cup chopped seedless watermelon, 3-5 sprigs fresh rosemary
  3. ½ cup chopped pineapple, ½ cup packed fresh mint
  4. ½ cup raspberries (fresh or frozen), 3-5 sprigs fresh thyme
  5. ½ cup blackberries (fresh or frozen), 3-5 sprigs of fresh sage

 

Also, get creative and come up with your own combination! Pretty much any fruit will work, aside from bananas. Use what’s in season in your garden or the farmers market. Mix with other fruits and berries and/or fresh herbs, add filtered water and voila! Injoy!

 

Stuffed Bell Peppers

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This is a deliciously hearty spring supper. Simple and quick to prepare, stuffed bell peppers are a crowd pleaser every time! I used zucchini and portabella mushrooms in addition to red peppers and served them with a helping of lightly blanched asparagus. Make a larger batch and freeze the leftovers for quick meals throughout the week. Injoy!

Ingredients:  

2 Bell peppers, halved, cored and seeded

1 Tbls. Coconut oil

½ Large onion, diced

Sea salt and black pepper

4 Cloves garlic, minced or grated

1 lb. Ground beef, bison, lamb of turkey

2 cups fresh spinach

Fresh basil to taste

Instructions:  

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Place the belle pepper halves facedown in a roasting dish and bake for 10-15 minutes.
  3. While the bell peppers are cooking, heat the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion, adding salt and pepper to taste, until translucent. Reduce to medium heat and add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.
  4. Add the meat and cook until nearly done.
  5. Mix in the spinach and cook until wilted. 1-2 more minutes.
  6. Add salt, pepper and fresh basil to taste.
  7. Remove the peppers from the oven (they should be just a bit softened) and flip them over. Spoon the stuffing into each one.
  8. Put peppers back into the oven and roast for another 15 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.
  9. Garnish with basil leaves and serve.
  10. Optional- use zucchini and portabella mushrooms in place of red peppers.