Saturday, April 4, 2009

Down Home Kale (roasted kale)

We were in the mood for a down home meal. This meant baked beans! We also have these awesome veggie burgers called Sunshine Burgers. There source of protein comes from sunflower seeds and brown rice so you don't get all that unnecessary processed soy. They are super tasty too. This whole meal was pretty dang good. And the green on the plate? Roasted kale.

Roasted Kale is one of the easiest and tastiest green preparations. Chop's mom, Natalie, introduced me to this a few months ago and since, I have passed it on to clients and enjoy it myself. It is simple simple simple and if you don't know how else to prepare your kale, this is a great introduction.

1. Preheat oven to 400
2. Wash, destem, and tear up kale into 2-3 inch pieces
3. Olive Oil a baking dish and put kale into it
4. Drizzle kale with a little olive oil and sprinkle with a dash of sea salt, pepper, garlic powder (if you'd like)
5. Put in oven bake for 10-15 minutes stirring once.

The edges get crispy and it has a great rich flavor.

Quick and Simple De-stemming of Kale:

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Carrot Top Smoothies

Somebody hasn't had his green smoothie yet this morning.

Footloose and fancy free suggestion of the day: When you buy carrots or beets, purchase them with the greens intact, they are usually sold by the bunch and this way you definitely get more bang for your buck. Its like 2 products for the price of 1! Buying smaller bunches of carrots (as apposed to the giant bags) ensures freshness. Carrots do last a while, but enzymes die off every day. . .sad I know. You can add these greens to salads, stir fries, juices or smoothies.

Amazing blender or no amazing blender, I believe this is something anyone can do with a blender that is not rinky dink. I would suggest using just a bit more liquid and adding it as needed if you are using a standard blender.

Carrot Top Smoothie (not the comedien cuz that would be disgusting):
  • Banana-fiber, Vit. C, magnesium, Vit B6 and potassium
  • Strawberries with the greens attached-Vit, vitamin K, manganese, folic acid, potassium, riboflavin, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, copper, magnesium, and omega-3's
  • Frozen pineapple-calcium, potassium, fiber, and vitamin C
  • Frozen mango-rich in antioxidants, high in iron, Vit.A, E and selenium (prevents heart disease)
  • Cucumber-cooling, reduces water retention, great for skin
  • Whole boatload of carrot greens-blood purifying, promotes healthy lung function
  • Flax oil-Omega 3's- reduces inflammation in the body and is great for the brain
  • Aloe vera- 200 health promoting compounds, 20 minerals, 18 amino acids and 12 vitamins.

About the amazing blender. Its a Blendtec, they are pretty pricey, I received mine as a gift. I use it everyday and think that they are well worth the money if you can swing it. They are super duper powerful and as you can see it can blend whole fruit to liquid. You can also make nut butters, flours, milks (like almond, soy, etc), soups and sauces in minutes. Enough about my buddy, the blender, but I had to let you in...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Ahh Scerole! (intro to escarole/ simple salad dressing)

I was talking with a friend, who was also a client at the time, and I was making the suggestion to get greens in the diet any way that she could. I usually suggest making a game out of it, challenge yourself and get really creative. Slip spinach into a tuna fish sandwich, throw a handful of chopped kale in with a can of soup, etc. We were going over the greens and all of their potential, when we came upon escarole. Personally I had not had much experience with this green, and so I made a somewhat generic suggestion and she looked as unfamiliar with it as I. Then, like a flash, a lightbulb went off and a smile came across her face, "ooohhh scerole!" "I can put scerole in my soup like my mother does." That's where I had heard of this green before, it is popular in Italian cooking, with a quick search on google I just confirmed that it's origin is in the mediterranean basin. And it is in the chicory family, hmm who knew?

My second real exposure to it was at my friends in Georgia's Organic farm, there they make delicious salads with it every night and I really fell in love with its delicate, flavorful leaves.

So with no further ado...Escarole!

I decided to do it up real simple like and make a salad with strawberries and sunflower seeds.
This is the green that had the little buggies on it, so I had already washed and chopped it (see below a few posts back). Something, I suggest for anyone short on time throughout the week. When you come home and you're putting your groceries away, just go through your produce and clean, chop, de-stem, or bag anything that needs special attention. That way when you want to make a salad it's quick and easy and your produce will more likely make it to your plate than the compost bin.

To make the dressing I put about 1 Tbl EVOO, 1/2 Tbl Toasted Sesame Oil, 1 1/2 Tbl Apple Cider Vinegar, 1/2 Tbl honey, a little s & p to taste. Put the ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake shake shake. Its quick and easy and has a nice sweet taste to compliment the strawberries.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Ruby Ruby (braised chard & mushrooms)

Since I am not doing any specific diet for the next 10 days or the next 9 months for that matter (except of course the diet where I care for my baby and only feed it healthy foods), AND because I have this amazing bounty of greens I've decided to take you with me down the green path.

Today Ruby Chard:I usually like to just saute this up quick quick like with a little sea salt and garlic powder (I use those 2 a lot with greens), but tonight I wanted something a little more. I ended up modifying a recipe I took out of the Greens Glorious Greens cookbook, and adjusted it to fit my pantry.

Braised Chard and Mushrooms: braised sounds so fancy doesn't it? Basically it means slow cooked in liquid.

Original Recipe:
10-12 dried shitake mushrooms
1 lb ruby chard
1 tsp evoo
1 onion
1 lg garlic clove, minced
1 cup water
salt to taste ........SO Simple.

Modified to fit my cupboard recipe:
2 portobello mushrooms
1 bunch ruby chard
1 tsp evoo
1 spring onion
1 lg garlic clove, minced
1 cup vegetable stock
salt to taste

If you use the original recipe the dried mushrooms need to soak in boiling water for about 20 minutes till softened. You then put the juice aside and chop the mushrooms minus the tough stems.

1.Slice the onion and garlic and saute in the oil for about 5 minutes (till translucent)
2.Meanwhile wash the chard and strip the stalks from the leaves. Chop the stalks and then coarsely chop leaves.
3. Add the sliced mushrooms to the onion saute and brown for about 2 minutes
4. Stir in the chopped chard stalks and add either a cup of the mushroom soaking liquid (original recipe) or a cup of veggie stock (cupboard recipe)
5.Cook covered on med for about 5 minutes, till stalks are tender.
6. Add the chopped leaves and mix in. Cover and simmer for about 4-5 minutes, till they are about tender and wilted but still a bright green color.
7.Original recipe suggests draining liquid and setting aside to dip bread in. I added a little kuzu to my recipe as a thickener in order to keep it more like a sauce.
8. Season with salt and serve hot. Serve with some crusty bread .
To wash the chard I rinse in cold water and then hold up to the light to check for any bugs or dirt that may be stuck in place. They really stand out against that bright green.It is no wonder the green carries the name "Ruby" chard look at these gems.The pan before liquid was added
Chopped Ruby ChardThe final dish: Braised ruby chard and portobellos over mixed grains and roasted eggplant.

My original plan was to serve this over grains, but my mouth was watering for more. So while the grains cooked I sliced some eggplant and roasted it up. I love love love roasted eggplant! If the eggplant is fresh its good to go, if it has sat a while (they start to get bitter) it may need to be salted to expel the bitterness. Slice and salt, let sit in a colander for about 15 minutes and you'll see it start to sweat. Toss in olive oil and garlic powder and roast for about 15-20 minutes on 400. So easy and so delicious. I like to just do it up and then have it on hand for sandwiches, pasta, pizza, or just to eat as a snack.

With all of these recipes, they take me about 30-40 minutes start to finish. Not so bad right? It is really a matter of having the ingredients on hand and the more you do it, the more you will!

Green Life (Greens on green gnochi)

Ahhh Miami. I was there this past week for a Health Counseling conference. This conference came none too soon, as I had been lacking motivation since my morning sickness and waining energy. I got a nice healthy dose of Vitamin D, yoga on the beach, and a room full of 2oo Health Counselors who never cease to amaze. It was very exciting, motivating, and strengthening.

I returned home wanting lots and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately it will be a while before I can get any of these locally, and for now I rely on Wholefoods to provide me with Organic produce that looks beautiful and tastes good too. Although spring brings little to us here in the Northeast, lots is growing all around the country. I do my best to buy produce from the closest areas I can find, this ensures freshness and less fossil fuel reliance. It is so nice to see so much green!!

Clockwise from top left to right: spring green onions (the same as the bags of onions we get dry, but fresh out of the ground), Kale, Carrot greens (I cut these off of my carrots to use for juicing), Escarole, Beet Greens (cut these off my beets to juice or cook), asparagus, Italian flat leaf parsley, and Ruby Chard.

One difference I can really appreciate from the greens I buy at the farmer's market verses the supermarket is the elastic bands and twist ties the supermarket uses to keep each bunch together. One band works fine, the big farms ship so much that they have to use 2 or 3 bands and I always feel like I need to set my greens free! My poor escarole seemed bruised by its cinched waste I was happy to release it, wash it and store it.

The seasons tell us by what is growing, what we should be eating at that time. Greens are perfect for spring. We have all eaten a heavier diet this winter, we eat rich stews and warming foods to stay warm and full in the cold. As the buds green up the trees and the grass starts to grow, we can take full advantage and clean out out winter diets. I always introduce greens to a new clients diet, this helps their bodies to start to detoxify from all the pollutant foods they may have been eating, it oxygenates the blood, and gets much needed nutrients into their systems. Greens make the transition to a healthier diet much easier!

Step by step Greens on Green Gnocchi: So simple, this was not a recipe, but something I threw together for dinner after bringing home my bounty. I want everyone to realize how delicious and easy green cooking can be!

1. Slice 2 green onions and 3 cloves of garlic.
2. Heat Extra virgin olive oil in pan and saute for a few minutes till translucent.

2. In the meantime slice the asparagus in 2 inch pieces and add to onions.

3. While the asparagus is sauteing, rinse and chop the escarole. My escarole had little tiny buggies on it. This was comforting for me to see, if microorganisms and other life-forms can live off of my food I know that I can too. I rinse it, by plunging it into cold water and then straining, repeat this 2-3 times till all dirt and bugs have been set free. Escarole is a great versatile green because it is soft enough to enjoy in salads, but strong enough to stand up to cooking, and you know if you have any left over you can always throw it into soups!

4. The escarole will cook down pretty quickly, once you've mixed it all around made sure it all got hot you can add a handful of arugula. (Another green that goes both ways) As all of this cooks I sprinkled a dash of sea salt and a little garlic powder over all of it.

5. The greens start to wilt and should turn a nice bright green color, this is when you know they are at peak enjoyment time. I had a little left over pea shoot pesto which I mixed in with the greens. You can always use fresh basil pesto, or just garlic, olive oil and Parmesan for a nice fresh taste.6. I mixed the greens with the green gnocchi (colored with spinach) and a little extra Parmesan. It had a nice lite garlic flavor and the gnocchi's add a nice creamy texture without being overpowering. Deliciouso!

To learn more about these greens and other awesome Organic farming practices I suggest visiting my friend Madeline's new blog here

Her husband is a knowledgeable and smooth Organic farmer who walks the talk with providing beautiful, sustainable foods. They also have a pretty fantastic life which is always fun to follow!