If you know me well, you know I like bacon as much as anyone. To counter that, my diet frequently slips into the realms of super new-agey yoga teacher. And you know what? I'm ok with that.
It's all about balance, right? Well, spirulina is definitely the yin to bacon's yang. This vibrant green, grain salad is one of my favorites. As a meal, the quinoa and spirulina create a complete protein, and spirulina is packed with B vitamins and iron. It's super savory, quick to make, and pretty versatile. You can adorn it with sliced avocado, diced tomato and pepita seeds, or eat it plain. Bonus: it turns your whole mouth momentarily emerald green.
1 cup quinoa, cooked according to package descriptions, until it reaches fluffy perfection
1 tablespoon spirulina powder
1 tablespoon cold pressed oil, such as olive, coconut, flax, avocado or nut oil
1 tablespoon Bragg's liquid aminos or nama shoyu
Crunchy garnishes (think raw veggies, seeds, etc.)
Let the quinoa cool until it's just room temperature. Mix all of the ingredients together with the quinoa, using a fork to fluff as you go.
Garnish as desired. Munch and enjoy!
The only thing more gratifying than creating a sumptuous, inspired mid-week meal, is to spend less time doing it. As someone who craves change, (a telltale trait you'd notice upon reading my resume), I have a tough time with leftovers. Whenever I make a big batch of something, I often find my taste buds tired after a day or two.
Unfortunately, as much as I'd love to come up with something exciting and tasty every day, my New York City lifestyle doesn't always allow for such luxuries. Thankfully, creative repurposing-- taking components of one night's dish and splicing it with new ingredients and flavors-- has come to my culinary rescue.
Consider these recipes a starting point to get your own creativity cranking. Because with meals, as with many things in life, sometimes more is better.
Spiced Lentils with
Brown Rice and
Seared Scallops with
Tomato, Fennel and Olives
Seared Swordfish with
Lentils, Tomato, Fennel and Olives and sautéed Kale
2 cups lentils, rinsed
6 cups water
1/4 C olive oil or virgin coconut oil
1 Shallot, minced
1 inch fresh ginger, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 T Turmeric
1 T cumin power
1/2 T fennel seed
1/2 T coriander seed
1/2 T Marash Pepper
1 T salt
Handful of cilantro, chopped
In a large pot, bring water and lentils to a boil, cover partially, lower to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes until the lentils are tender.
In a separate sauté pan, heat oil over medium/high heat, shallot, garlic, ginger, spices and salt until the onion is cooked through and even a little caramelized on the edges, and the spices are fragrant and toasted.
Add the spice blend to the cooked lentils. Finish with freshly chopped cilantro leaves.
1 Cup whole milk yogurt (goat or sheep's milk proffered)
1 handful of cilantro leaves
1 handful parsley leaves
1 clove garlic
1 t salt
1 splash water, for desired consistency
Blend ingredients in a vitamix or high-speed blender. Add more water if needed, to make it saucy.
Make according to package instructions. Enough for 4 servings.
To serve Meal 1:
At the bottom of a bowl, put a generous mound of brown rice. Layer on the lentils. Splash the yogurt sauce on top. Garnish with a cilantro sprig and some chopped almonds. Done!
Seared Scallops with
Tomatoes, Fennel and Olives
4 large wild caught sea scallops
2 T grapeseed oil
1 16 oz. can whole Italian tomatoes, crushed by hand (or 6 - 10 fresh Romas in the summer. chopped)
1 bulb fennel, halved and sliced vertically along the ridges
4 cloves garlic
3 T olive oil
1 splash white wine (optional)
1/4 cup pitted olives, chopped
For the veggies: In a large sauté pan, put the olive oil, fennel, and shallots. Cook over medium heat until they begin to caramelize slightly (about 10 minutes). Add the garlic; cook another two minutes until soft. If using, add a splash of white wine and use it to scrape off any golden bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the crushed tomatoes and their liquid and cook until some of the tomato liquid evaporates and everything is bubbling. Add chopped olives. Taste for seasoning. Set aside.
For the scallops: Quickly rinse the scallops under cold water and pat completely dry. Sprinkle with good sea salt and a crack of black pepper. In a sauté pan, heat the grapeseed oil until almost smoking. Add scallops to the pan and then LEAVE 'EM ALONE. 3 minutes. Once that lovely crust forms, flip them; cook 30 seconds to a minute more, depending on size of scallops.
To serve meal 2:
Warm last night's brown rice in a small saucepot with a splash of water and a tight fitting lid. Once warm, place a generous mound of rice on the plate. Put veggies down along side the rice, and serve the seared scallops on top.
2 3- 4 oz. filets of swordfish
1 T cumin
Salt and Pepper
3 T grapeseed oil
Season the swordfish with cumin, salt and pepper. Heat the grapeseed oil over high heat until almost smoking. Place swordfish in the pan skin side down (even if the skin is removed) and let it ride for 4 minutes. Once it has a nice crust on that side, turn it over. Cook for about two minutes more. It should be just cooked in the center with a nice hint of pale pink.
1 bunch lacinato kale, thinly sliced, rough stems removed
1 clove garlic
1 t chili flake
1 T olive oil
1 T preserved lemon, minced
Salt and Pepper
In a large sauté pan, heat the oil and shallots until translucent. Add the garlic and cook another 2 minutes, until it softens. Add the chili flake and the kale and cook quickly over high heat, keeping the leaves bright green and just barely soft. Finish with preserved lemon, salt and pepper.
To serve meal 3:
Heat the fennel and tomato mixture from the night before and add the kale once warm. Place the veggie mixture on the plate, top with the swordfish, and pour some herbed yogurt goodness on top.
A few years ago, inspired by a recipe I found in the New York Times that described a semi-savory version of the typically sweet stuff, I started making my own granola. As someone who craves salt over sweet (my favorite treats include dark chocolate covered pretzels, "adult" chocolate chip cookies finished with Malden salt, salted caramel goat's milk ice cream... you get the idea. In fact, as a kid, I remember stealing the saltshaker off the table, sprinkling copious amounts of salt onto my little hands, and licking it off in secret glee. Gross, yes. But true).
The thought of a slightly salty, crunchy, sweet snack got my taste buds and belly going. I was also intrigued by the idea of using olive oil as the base, which has numerous health benefits, and maple syrup as the sweetener (you know how I feel about maple). I couldn't have guessed that my Dad and friends would be even greater fans than I. Fortunately it's easy to make, so I can keep them happy and leave the kitchen... occasionally.
Our Favorite Granola
3 cups rolled oats (I like Bob's Mills, thick cut rolled oats)
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 T vanilla extract
1 cup pecans
1 cup almonds
1 T cinnamon
1/2 T cardamom
1 T coarse sea salt or Malden salt
1 cup dried fruit (such as cranberries, mixed berries, apples, or apricots)
Preheat the oven to 325. Combine all of the above ingredients, except the dried fruit, in a large mixing bowl. Stir well until the wet ingredients fully coat the dry ingredients and the salt and spices are fully distributed. Pour onto a baking sheet in one even layer. Bake for about 40 minutes, stirring occassionally, until everything looks golden and toasty and the smell of baked goodness is wafting through the air.
Allow the granola to cool slightly on the sheet, letting some larger clusters form. Before completely cool, break the granola off and place onto a new sheet or large bowl to finish. Once at room temperature, add the dried fruit (this step is important, as it keeps the already dried fruit from becoming rock hard with the added heat).
Serve over yogurt, ice cream, or with your favorite milk. Or grab handfulls of it and much away.
During the winter months, one of the things New York City and Costa Rica have in common is a small selection of interesting veggies. Yes, yes, New York, squash and root vegetables are great. And yes, Costa Rica, we all love bell peppers and avocados. But after a few months of the stuff, my belly wants more.
I know I've hit rock bottom when I start to fantasize about Whole Foods. Row after row of colorful (if totally tasteless) exotic, out-of-season produce. Oh the variety!
Oh the misery!
Just when I think I can't take it any more, I remember my good friend, the simple Slaw. I'm not talking about the mayo-drenched, soggy, strangely sweet stuff of summer barbeques. No! I'm talking crunchy, zingy, colorful, and unexpected. Like the friendly, easily overlooked neighbor-next-door, this Slaw is a total undercover hottie.
Ok, enough. On to the recipe. The version featuring Granny Smith apple can be made in the winter in NYC. The other, with the addition of mango, is her more exotic, Costa Rican cousin. They are both extra flavorful, and will add texture and color to any meal.
1 head of purple cabbage, shredded
1 large carrot, peeled into ribbons
1 Granny Smith apple, cut into matchsticks
1 just-ripe mango, cut into matchsticks.
1 inch fresh ginger, grated
2 pieces pickled chilies, minced* (or a good squirt of Siracha hot sauce will do)
Juice of two limes
1 T Honey
Generous pinch of salt (taste it!)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro or parsley
Prep the vegetables and put together in a large mixing bowl. Add the ginger, chilies, salt, lime juice and honey. Massage the veggies with your hands until they tenderize and the dressing is fully mixed in. Finish with parsley or cilantro. Great fresh, but even better the next day.
* I made my own quick pickled chili peppers by slicing and de-seeding super hot Costa Rican cherry peppers (use gloves when handling the seeds) and simply packing them with some coarse ground sea salt. Leave them in the fridge for a few days, and you've got a nice, spicey bite to add to anything you like.
Every trip Kevin and I take to Costa Rica provides a lesson in culinary creativity. Despite the abundance of incredible fresh fruit and all the avocados one could ever wish to eat (and I can eat many), some of the items I consider staples are lacking. For example, when the only milk you can buy comes ultra-pasteurized and shelf-stable, my morning routine of Dirty Chai looses some of its glamour-- not to mention all of its possible nutrient properties.
In search of something equally rich and satisfying-- nut, soy and oat milks simply don't cut it-- I considered another option. Coconut milk!
Sadly, the stuff in a can though creamy enough, comes with a good dose of preservatives. And while fresh coconuts are plentiful here, the idea of wielding a machete every morning prior to my cherished cup of coffee was more than I could commit to. Oh, what is a jungle bunny to do?
Fortunately, I had to look no further than my local organic juice bar (also plentiful in Costa Rica). There, I found unsweetened, organic dried coconut pieces. With the possibility of fresh, coconut manna and cold-brewed iced coffee in my future, I couldn't get to my high-speed blender fast enough.
Homemade Coconut Milk:
1 cup dried, unsweetened coconut pieces
4 cups water
pinch of sea salt
drizzle of honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
Blend until completely smooth, then strain through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. It lasts about three days in the fridge.
Coconut milk might just change your life... or at least your morning routine.
Click here for more information about the health-giving properties of Coconuts.
If you know me well, you know I like coffee. I'm not an addict-- well, not a serious one anyway-- but I do like my one cup a day. In New York City, especially in the winter, my morning ride is something I like to call the Dirty Chai.
Here's how it works:
1. Make some good, strong french-press coffee.
2. While it's brewing, put about a cup of goat's milk in a pot on the stove. (If goat's milk freaks you out, you can use regular cow's milk, preferably local, and even raw if you can get linked in to the Amish black market... curious? Click here.). I prefer goat's milk because of the goaty tang and richness, as well as its lower lactose content. Mmm(oooo)!
3. Add a few crushed cardamom pods. Two cloves. A few black peppercorns. Half a cinnamon stick. And two healthy tablespoons of grade B maple syrup.*
4. Bring all of the ingredients to a gentle simmer over medium/low heat for at least five minutes. Grab your favorite mug. I like half milk, half coffee in my cup, but choose your blend accordingly. Try it. It's good!
*Grade B maple syrup is great to use in cooking. It has a deeper, richer flavor than Grade A, and because it is cooked down longer during processing, its nutrient content (including calcium and other anti-oxidents) is more concentrated. Maple syrup has a lower glycemic index than refined sugars, which means that it breaks down more slowly in the body, avoiding the spike in bloodsugar that higher GI foods create.