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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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!!

 

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!

 

Blueberry Cauliflower Porridge

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I came across the original recipe for this sweet little morning meal while on the hunt for new grain-free, egg-free breakfast options. I’ll admit, I was skeptical at first, but cauliflower continues to impress me! While it’s about as void of color as a vegetable can get, its nutritional profile offers great reasons to incorporate it into your diet. With 1 cup racking up only 20 calories, it supplies 3 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber and is a great source of vitamin C. In addition, cauliflower, along with other cruciferous vegetables (kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, bok choy) has been proven to fight oxidative stress and help to detoxify the liver. Set a goal to get at least 3-5 servings of these vegetables a week. Make a cauliflower pizza crust, or perhaps some chicken fried cauliflower rice! It is easier on the digestive system when already pulverized into small bits as in these recipes. Injoy!

Ingredients:

1 1⁄2 cups riced cauliflower

(Pulse raw cauliflower in food processor until it resembles rice.)

1 cup coconut milk

2 Tbsp equivalent sweetener  (coconut sugar, maple syrup, honey, stevia)

2 tsp cinnamon

1 cup blueberries

1 Tbsp coconut flour

Directions:

1. Combine all of the ingredients, except the coconut flour, in a saucepan over medium- high heat. Bring to a rolling boil.

2. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 12-14 minutes. Mash the blueberries and stir occasionally.

3. Add coconut flour, 1 tsp at a time, until the desired consistency is reached.

4. Choose your own adventure toppings! The photo shows toasted coconut flakes and raw pecans.

In the Crockpot: Butternut Squash Soup

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This soup rocked my world this weekend! And got rave reviews from the friends I shared it with, I might add. An extremely simple recipe to create, just gather the ingredients, toss them into the Crockpot and leave it alone for 6-8 hours. At the end, blend it all up into a creamy pot of deliciousness and enjoy! This is the perfect type of meal to prepare the night before, set the Crockpot to ‘on’ before you leave for work and have a hot, delicious, nutritious meal waiting for you around dinnertime.

Recipe:

1 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed

1 large onion, rough chopped

1 can full-fat coconut milk or equivalent amount of homemade coconut milk

1 cup chicken broth

1 apple, peeled and cut into chunks

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ginger

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Place all ingredients in slow cooker and set to Low. Allow 6 to 8 hours to cook. When squash is soft, blend soup with an immersion blender or carefully transfer to a blender to process. Consistency should be smooth and silky.

Season with unrefined sea salt and pepper, and top with a swirl of olive oil or balsamic vinegar. In the photo, I also added a topping of crisp bacon for a little extra protein and green onions for a tasty zing. Injoy!

Stellar Supper: Fish en Papillote

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Living in the Pacific Northwest, my kitchen is fortunate enough to see the freshest and most delicious seafood of all kinds. And I do love all kinds of seafood. The snap of a plump shrimp being readied to grill. Fresh wild caught Copper River salmon with a simple lemon garlic sauté. The briny flavor of what my guy affectionately refers to as the bottom feeders… muscles, clams, oysters. It is all in regular rotation through my meal plans.

Tonight’s supper idea came from a local food writer Kathleen Flinn, and is a modified version from her memoir Kitchen Counter Cooking School. En Papillote is a French technique and simply means baked in paper. The preparation of this delicious and nutrient-packed meal is unbelievably quick and easy (It is more assembly than cooking, really.), involves very little clean up and the results are super fresh and flavorful. It really is a stellar way to enjoy fish.

And though I do recommend fish as an awesome source of nutrition, mainly packed full of Omega 3s, there is much controversy about the very real issue of overfishing, as well as the unfortunate health risks due to our ocean’s toxicity levels. I certainly do not want to be a buzz kill here, or detour you from eating fish, but I feel it is important to add a word on these challenges. It has been upheld by many health professionals that wild caught fish is the best overall for our consumption. These fish intake all of their natural nutrients, passing that awesome nutrition onto us, get adequate exercise doing what they do best, swimming, and live out their days in their natural state, being part of an interconnected ecosystem. Farmed fish on the other hand are often sectioned off in a coastal part of the ocean called offshore Aquaculture, which is detrimental to the oceans in those areas. Farmed fish, just like other livestock, live in overcrowded conditions and are fed antibiotics to combat the risk of infection. These drugs go into our oceans as well as our bodies when we consume them. In addition, the nutritional value is diminished greatly in farmed fish.

There has been a lot of research about farmed fishing, also known as Aquaculture, and is supported by many experts in the field including NOAA the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as a way to ease the pressure of overfishing on our oceans. This is a concern since we are rapidly overfishing to the point of extinction in certain species. Though this argument doesn’t quite hold up since it requires at least 5 lbs. of wild caught fish to raise 1 lb. of farm fish. Meaning we are still catching 5 times more wild fish to feed to our farmed fish. Not very sustainable. And since there is a real danger of mercury in our oceans, not to mention the 300 tons of radioactive water that is still being leaked into the Pacific daily from the crippled Fukushima Plant in Japan, it is best to moderate the amount of fish consumed. My recommendation is twice a week. Also, consult the Seafood Watch guide and select varieties that are the best choices for your region. Finally, if you enjoy catching your own fish in alpine lakes, all the better!

Alright, back to the yummy stuff. Aside from all the controversy surrounding fish, let me say again that it is an excellent source of nutrients and should be incorporated into a healthy, balanced diet.

Following is the recipe for the Fish en Papillote. Enjoy!!

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Ingredients:

(Serves 2 individual packets)

1 ½ Tbls. olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Two 4 to 6 ounce cuts of fish (I used salmon)

Few springs of fresh herbs (dill, basil, thyme, rosemary) I used thyme and rosemary

3 thin slices of fresh lemon

¼ cup water or stock

½ to ¾ cup fresh vegetables (zucchini, shallots, onion, broccoli, leeks fennel, mushrooms, carrots)

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 400

2. Start with 2 pieces of parchment paper, 10×12 inches each, fold in half

3. On one side of the middle crease of each piece drizzle the olive oil and a dash of the alt and pepper. Add fish and turn over to coat.

4. Place the rest of the ingredients on top and around the fish

5. Fold the paper like a book and crimp the edges securely to avoid allowing any liquid or steam to escape. Here is a quick video tutorial.

6. Place the packet on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Allow to sit at least 2 minutes after removing it from the oven.

7. Open carefully and serve immediately. Enjoy!