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!

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!

 

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!

 

Mystery Box Challenge: Persimmons, Jicama, Anaheim Chili, Mint, Fresh Ginger and Lamb Chops

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Every so often I like to pretend I’m on Chopped (one of my favorite cooking programs) and participating in a Mystery Box Challenge. You know the one, the box of several mystery ingredients that usually don’t pair well, and a limited amount of time to create an awesome dish to present. In my version, I imagine myself closing my eyes and spinning around in circles in the middle of the produce department of my grocery store and throwing the first few items I point at into my basket. In reality I peruse the brightly colored shelves and give myself 1 minute to choose 4 random items that I’ve never worked with before and take them home to play in the kitchen. And I don’t give myself a time limit, just try to engage my creativity and come up with something seasonal and delicious for dinner.

On this particular foggy Tuesday afternoon, I stopped at the produce stand a few blocks from my home. I had gone to pick out a few items for a dining room centerpiece. Hard, colorful little bundles of decorative corn on the cob, a bumpy dark green gourde and a perfectly round white pumpkin. As I shopped, more veggies were being loaded in from the farm truck and I started to get inspired. Persimmons, about 9 different varieties of squash and lots of leafy greens were beginning to stack up near the entrance. Mmmmm! A perfect opportunity for a Mystery Box Challenge!

I glanced at my watch and begun the 1 minute countdown. I knew those perfectly ripe persimmons were coming with me, so I immediately put 4 into my basket. After that, I passed the pyramid of jicama, a yam-like vegetable from Mexico. I had no idea what to do with that, perfect! Into the basket. Next, I walked quickly over to the herb section. Mint and fresh ginger jumped out at me. Not a likely pair. I very rarely cook with mint unless it’s sprinkled on a fruit salad, so that was a great addition. And ginger I’ve mostly only used in smoothies, tea and an occasional pumpkin pie. Into the basket they went. Lastly, I knew I wanted something with a kick. I grabbed the first hot pepper I saw, which happened to be an Anaheim chili. Great! Done! On the way home, I also stopped by the butcher and picked up a couple of lamb chops for protein and snipped a few sprigs of rosemary from my neighbor’s enormous hedge.

Back in the kitchen, my culinary adventure began. Without realizing it initially, several of the ingredients come from the warmer southern region and actually pair together quite nicely. I used the jicama and fresh mint in a slaw with green apples and carrots. The persimmons I made into chutney with the chili and ginger along with golden raisins, green apple and other warming spices. This went perfectly with the lamb chops, for which I made a rub with the fresh rosemary and some garlic and sea salt. It all came together beautifully! In addition I did sauté up some kale and onion with coconut oil as the plate was looking a bit void of greenery.

When is the last time you challenged yourself in the kitchen or in other areas of your life? Where do you become your most creative self? Do you tend to stay within your comfort zone much of the time? There is a popular saying ‘Magic happens outside your comfort zone.” I certainly agree with that sentiment and the delicious meal created that day is a shining example. This week, think outside the box. Pick up an ingredient you’ve never worked, or try a new technique in the kitchen you’ve never tried (wok much?). Challenge yourself, get creative and have fun! Injoy!

 

Jicama and Green Apple Slaw

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Ingredients:

1 cup matchstick-cut Granny Smith apple

1 cup matchstick-cut jicama

1/2 cup matchstick-cut carrots

1/2 cup fresh mint leaves

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons white vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

Instructions:

1. Toss apple, jicama and carrots together in a large bowl.

2 Place mint leaves, olive oil, sugar, vinegar, Dijon mustard and garlic in a food processor. Pulse until blended but slightly chunky, about two 10-second intervals.

3. Pour dressing over apple mixture; toss until well mixed. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

Persimmon Chili Chutney

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Ingredients:

2/3 apple cup cider vinegar

3/4 cup water

1 cup chopped onion

1 large tart apple – peeled, cored and chopped

1 cup golden raisins

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 Anaheim chili pepper, chopped fine

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1 teaspoon ground coriander seed

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

4 Fuyu persimmons, peeled and chopped

Instructions:

1. In a large saucepan combine the apple cider vinegar, water, chopped onion, chopped apple, golden raisins, sugar, lemon juice, chili, ginger, lemon peel, coriander and cloves. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until mixture thickens, stirring frequently, about 25 minutes. Add the persimmons and simmer until the persimmons are tender about 5 to 10 minutes.

2. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. Cover and refrigerate chutney. May be made a day or two ahead.

 

Rosemary Crusted Lamb Chops

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Ingredients:

1 pound lamb chops or rack of lamb

2 Tbsp minced fresh rosemary

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 garlic clove, minced

4 Tbsp olive oil, divided

Instructions:

1. In a small bowl, mix the rosemary, salt, pepper, garlic, and 2 tablespoons of the        olive oil together. Coat the lamb chops with the mixture, massaging it into the meat with your fingers. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes.

2. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a sauté pan over high heat. When the oil is shimmering hot, sear the lamb chops on all sides, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.

3. At this point, if you want your lamb chops rare, they are likely cooked enough. Remove them from the pan; cover them with foil and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. If you would like your chops more cooked, you can put them in a 400°F oven for 3 to 5 minutes, or keep them in the hot pan, remove from heat, and cover the pan for a few minutes. Then remove from the pan to a plate or cutting board, cover with foil and let rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving

Breakfast Chicken Sausage

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While shopping for breakfast protein recently, I discovered that my beloved turkey bacon brand had begun to include carrageenan in their ingredient list. This is bad news. Carrageenan is an additive with no nutritional value that is derived from raw seaweed and is widely used as a thickening agent in milk alternatives (boxed soy, almond, rice milk etc.), ice cream and yogurt. One of the main reasons I started making my own Almond Milk.

Carrageenan is known to cause inflammation to the digestive system, and in the past, drug investigators actually used carrageenan to cause inflammation in tissues in order to test the anti-inflammatory properties of new drugs. In addition, when laboratory mice are exposed to low concentrations of carrageenan for 18 days, they develop “profound” glucose intolerance and impaired insulin action, both of which can lead to diabetes. More bad news for our country’s already soaring diabetes rates. Best to stay away from Carrageenan.

Alas, a delicious homemade breakfast sausage recipe, nutritious and free of pesky preservatives! Injoy!

 

Ingredients:

1. 1 lb ground chicken

2. 2 tsp fennel seed

3. 2 tsp dried rosemary

4. 1 ½ tsp garlic powder

5. 1 ½ tsp dried sage

6. ½ tsp salt

7. ¼ tsp black pepper

 

Instructions:

1. Grind the fennel seed and the rosemary in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle to break down the spices (recommended).

2. Combine all of the spices together.

3. Incorporate the spice mixture into the chicken.

4. (Optional) Fry 1-2 tsp of the meat in a skillet to see if you need to adjust the seasoning.

5. Form into 10 equal patties.

6. Heat 1 Tbsp of oil, in a large skillet, over medium-high heat and brown the patties for 4-5 minutes per side or until cooked through.

7. Serve with your favorite vegetable.

 

Almond Chia Pudding

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Chia seeds are known for their many excellent health benefits. Just two tablespoons pack lots of fiber, Omega 3 fatty acids and tons of antioxidants and minerals. This tasty pudding is a great way to incorporate some of those wonderful qualities into your diet. Super quick and simple to prepare, this recipe comes out a bit like tapioca. Smooth and creamy with a nice texture and subtle sweet flavor. Also, I recommend making your own almond milk if you have a high-powered blender. The ability to control how creamy you make the milk is a great advantage. And, none of those pesky preservatives! I add an additional ¼ cup of almonds to the milk for extra creaminess. Injoy!

Ingredients:

2 cups raw almond milk

6 Tbls. whole chia seeds

1-2 Tbls. maple syrup

Instructions: 

1. Place almond milk, chia seeds and maple syrup into a glass jar, cover, and shake.

2. Place in the refrigerator overnight, or for about 8 hours.

3. Serve with fresh fruit, toasted coconut and hemp seeds.