Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Challenge #63 - Purple Potato Chips!

Normally I stay away from regular potatoes, but the farmer's market had these Peruvian Blue Potatoes so I had to by them because of the color!  I know, I know I have a thing for purple and blue (naturally!) vegetables and fruits!  So I decided to make some homemade chips for my husband, and have one or two myself.

Peruvian Blue Potato (or any kind you like)
Sea Salt
extra virgin olive oil

Step #1 - Thinly slice potato.  Add salt, pepper, and olive oil and toss.  You only need a very small amount of olive oil, I used about 1/2 tsp, just enough to coat.  Place in dehydrator for 4 hours on 105 or until crisp.
You can make these in the oven, which I have tried before but it's a bit tricky to get them to bake evenly.
 For me, the seasoning and the technique worked to make the chips, however myself and my husband did not care for the actual potato.  I did bring them to work however and a couple of people enjoyed the rustic, earthy flavor of the potato.  I am going to try this again using parsnips, which I love, so stay tuned for these in the next few weeks.

Challenge #62 - More Carrots

So I am really enjoying the variety of colors that are available for carrots.  So I bought a bunch of different kinds and create a simple salad.

Yellow Carrots
Orange Carrots
Maroons Carrots
1/4 red onion finely diced
1/2 juice of lemon
Several sprigs of times
Salt and pepper to taste

Step# 1 - Peel and slice carrots, dice onion.  Remove thyme from stem.  Add all ingredients into a bowl, add salt and pepper.  Mix and enjoy.  Super simple and colorful.
I have been enjoying making a variety of raw vegetable salads lately, so stay tuned for more simple ideas.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Challenge #61 - Carrot Salad and Sweet Potato Hummus

I made a very simple lunch the other day, a carrot salad with simple tahini dressing and raw sweet potato hummus with veggies.

Ingredients for Carrot Salad:
2-3 Carrots
Handful of raisins
Handful of grape tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon raw tahini
1/2 juice of lemon
1 garlic clove (zested or minced)
Sea Salt if desired

Step #1: Shred carrots, add raisins, & tomatoes into bowl.  Mix tahini, lemon juice, and garlic in cup.  Pour over carrot salad and mix.  Enjoy.
I had raw sweet potato hummus from Rande at For the Love of veggies along with the carrot salad.  Check it out. Sweet Potato Hummus Recipe
I cut up some veggies to use for dipping (peppers, zucchini, roman hearts)
 Beautiful colors, simple, and delicious.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Challenge #60 - Reworking the Deconstucted Burrito

This one is a take a deconstructed burrito in a bowl that is grain free!  Yes grain free.  I am replacing the millet from the previous challenge with cauliflower rice.  Now I'm not giving up the other version, this is just a new take when you want something a bit lighter.  Oh and I am also a huge fan of cauliflower.

Colored peppers
Salt and pepper to taste

Step #1: Rice cauliflower in food processor.  Add to boiling water and cook.  I like mine al dente, but you cook cook more thoroughly if desired.  Only takes a couple of minutes.
Step #2: Drain cauliflower rice and set aside.  Saute peppers, garlic, and zucchini, season as desired.  Any veggies desired here will work, this is just what I had in the fridge.  Usually I like to throw in spinach as well.
Step #3: Add cauliflower rice and veggies to bowl.  Top with guacamole (yes I used a lot because I LOVE it) and salsa.  Enjoy!  I like to mix everything together as I am eating it to blend all the flavors together.

Challenge #59- Be A Kid Again

This is a quick little snack inspired by a childhood favorite Ants on a Log, but with grown up flavors.
Simple, easy and delicious.

Celery sticks
Almond butter
Ground flax seed

Step #1: Clean celery.  Spread almond butter onto celery sticks.  Add raisins and sprinkle ground flax seed over.  And done!  I actually wanted this with dried goji berries, but I didn't have any handy so raisins worked in a pinch.  Next time I will go with the goji berries.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Challenge #58 - Veggie Sushi Again

In class we made sushi rolls with jicama as the rice.  There are also a bunch of recipes online for similar rolls as well, so don't hesitate to spend a few minutes looking around the internet.  I decided to try a couple of different rols with some of my favorite ingredients-asparagus, cucumber, carrot, avocado, & sweet potato.

Nori Sheets
Carrot - julienned
Cucumber - julienned
Asparagus - lightly steamed
Avocado - sliced
Sweet potato - mashed
Nama Shoyu for dipping (or regular soy, or tamari for the gluten free)
Ginger - thinly sliced

Step #1 - Peel and cube jicama.
Step #2 - Pulse jicama in food processor until "riced"
 Step #3 - Jicama contains a lot of water.  Before using for sushi, you will want to squeeze out excess moisture.  Place jicama rice into towel or cheese cloth and squeeze.  You will be surprised how much liquid is in the bowl.
Step #4 - Add jicama rice to bowl and set aside.  Continue until all jicama is done.  In picture 2 below you will see the second batch it formed a "rice ball" when I removed it from the towel.  You will want to break that up in order to make the sushi, I just thought it was cool and wanted to share.

Step #5 - Begin to assemble sushi.  The pictures below are a little blurry, but I wanted to still show the steps.  Layout Nori sheet on a bamboo mat and add jicama rice.

Step #6 - Add ingredients of choice.  I did a couple of combos: cucumber, carrot & avocado, then avocado & sweet potato, then asparagus and carrot. Some pictured below.

Step #7 - Start to roll.  If you have not done this before, I recommend taking 5 minutes and watch a youtube video on how make a sushi roll.

Step #8 - Cut down the center, then into equal pieces.
Step #9 - I served mine with sliced ginger and a little nama shoyu for dipping.  I made 6 rolls total, 3 for each of us.  Below is one of each of the 3 kinds of rolls.
Yum!  But I also happen to be a huge fan of jicama.  I actually had some of this jicama rice left over which I added to my salad for tomorrow's lunch.  The asparagus roll was my favorite as well as my husband's.  We were both so so on the sweet potato one.  I will probably omit that next time and try a mushroom roll instead.  There are many possibilities.  We were also just talking about other options to use as rice as he is not 100% sold on the jicama...so stay tuned for more sushi ideas in the future.  We also had some roasted  Japanese eggplant to accompany the sushi rolls.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Challenge #57 - Coconut Banana Smoothie

This is one of my favorite smoothies to make.  I love it sometimes before or after a workout, plus you don't need to add any sweetener.  Previously, I have made this using only fresh coconut water, so if you don't have access to the a whole young coconut, that's ok.

Meat and water from 1 young coconut
2 frozen bananas
Few handfuls of spinach

Step #1: Throw all ingredients into blender and blend.  You will not taste the spinach, just banana and coconut.  Great way to get in some extra greens.  Personally I find this sweet enough, but you could add some stevia if desired. Enjoy!
Note if you have a Vitamix (unlike me) it will most likely blend completely smooth.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Challenge #56 - Conquering the Coconut

I finally picked up a couple of coconuts yesterday now that I know how to open them!  I have now conquered my fear of opening them. 
So this evening I had this to drink after dinner...
I got lucky, I opened it and it was filled to the top with delicious coconut water.
I then scooped out the meat.  For this I have a tip...used a grapefruit spoon (has little teeth at the end) to help  get all the meat out.
I plan to make a smoothie with the other coconut within the week, which I will post.

Challenge #55 - Maroon carrots!

 I have not  posted a trying something new in  awhile.  I was at the store this weekend and walked past Maroon Carrots.  Yes beautiful, deep purple carrots.  Carrots are not out of the ordinary but they were just calling to me to try them.  So I bought a bunch.

 So I came home and googled them find out more info and the first thing I came across was this site...  Carrot info.  Yup a history of carrots, who knew.  Anyway I decided to keep it simple.  I cut them and sampled them raw (yummy and juicy) and also lightly steamed them and added some cinnamon.  Nature's art -aren't they beautiful?
See how juicy they are?
Amazing colors!
In the steamer they go
Steamed with Cinnamon

I don't have kids, but this looks like a fun way to get them to eat their carrots.  The colors are amazing and if you have them help you, they will probably have fun having their hands turn purple. Don't worry it washes out.  Stains kind of like a beet would.  Photo below you can see the purple color on my hand and paper towel.  Have fun!  I think I am going to buy another bunch next week to make carrots juice.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Challenge #54 - Using some skills from Class

In class this weekend we "riced" cauliflower florets by pulsing them in the food processor.  I was actually going to experiment with a tabouli recipe this week using amareth, but I decided to try it with the cauliflower "rice" instead.

1/2 Head of cauliflower (I actually riced the whole head to use for something else tomorrow)
3 tomatoes  
1/2 cucumber    
1/2 green pepper
1 clove garlic
Handful of parsley
1/2 handful of mint
Salt & pepper

Step # 1: Cut cauliflower into florets and pulse in food processor until looks like rice
Step #2: Dice and chop tomatoes, cucumber, parsley, & mint. Zest garlic (or mince). Add to riced cauliflower.  Note, I made this for last night for today's lunch, so before I added the diced tomatoes, I put them in a paper towel over a bowl to remove some of the liquid so nothing would get soggy.
Step #3: Add salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste.  Mix and enjoy.
I brought this to work today and someone else tried it and enjoyed it as well.  And it was super simple to make.  This is tomorrow's lunch too.

Challenge #53 - Being Flexible and Timesavers

I thought I would share a couple of tips I used last night and this evening. 

Tip #1 - Be flexible and ready to adjust accordingly.
I ran to a small market last night to grab a couple of things, and they did not have some of the ingredients I wanted, including jicama, my favorite!  I usually go to the store with a basic plan, but if they don't have what I want, I look around and see what they have and adjust my menus depending on what is available. 

Tip #2 - Quick meal with Fridge Leftovers.
Tonight I did not feel like spending a lot of time in the kitchen.  So I threw together a quick salad that included some left over bruschetta (diced tomato, garlic, basil, salt, pepper), roasted eggplant slices that I cubed, some carrots and cucumbers.  The bruschetta served as a dressing so I didn't even need to use a lemon or make a dressing.

I also spiralized some zucchini really quick and threw it in a bowl with some lightly steamed broccoli and my leftover red pepper tahini dip from yesterday's lunch.  I often just see what I have leftover and add simple ingredients to pull together a quick meal.  Some photos below.  If you haven't used a spiralizer, it is a really fun tool (and inexpensive about $30).  It reminds me of being a kid and using the playdoh machine.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Challenge #52- Simple Colorful Lunch

Inspired by some of the recipes I learned from cooking class, I give you a simple lunch which instead of just throwing into plastic bags, I thought it might be nice to have it be more presentable, yes even if it's just for me.  We made plates full of beautiful colors and elegantly plated.  This isn't super elegant as it is still in a sectioned to go container, but I did the best I could with the "platter" at hand.  This is using one of the dips I learned and raw marinated veggie salads.

Sliced zucchini
Sliced yellow pepper
Radish salad: sliced radish, salt, parsley, & lemon juice combined (I chose not to use pepper since the radish already has a bit of a spiciness)
Simple carrot salad
Roasted red pepper tahini dip

Step #1: Cut up veggies, prepare chosen dip and salads.
Step #2: Arrange in to go container

I will have this for lunch tomorrow along side a salad.  Remember anything goes here for this.  Use all your favorites, just make it colorful.  I have quite a few colors covered below.

Challenge #51 - Cooking Class!!!!

I am a self taught cook from watching mom and dad growing up.  I love being in the kitchen and when the opportunity came up to take a 3 day cooking class with the amazing Doris Choi, I could not pass up the opportunity.  I spend 3 days learning how to use tools, learning simple recipes with complex flavors for salads, raw foods, desserts, cooked foods, dips, drinks, and so much more, all properly combined of course! It allowed me to leave my comfort zone and become more familiar with other ethnic cuisine. It was a privilege being part of the class.  I left completely inspired a ready to get in the kitchen and get going oh and now I know how to properly use a mandolin AND crack open a young coconut.
So if you ever have the opportunity to take a cooking class, I highly recommend it.  It is amazing not only how many recipes you learn, but the knowledge you leave with to be able to create multiple variety by learning techniques.
I promise many recipes to follow!  I think my list is over a dozen at the moment for ideas to try.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Challenge #50 - Almond Joy and Mounds - Sugar free

Almond Joys and Mounds used to be a favorite of mine which I have not had in years.  We can all remember the commercial "sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't"... you know the rest.  Anyway I saw a ad for them recently so I thought I can totally make these sugar free (if desired).
Ingredients (Makes 8 - depends on your mold):
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut 
1/4 cup coconut butter (softened)
1 tbsp coconut oil
about 3 oz. 100% Dagoba chocolate (a little less than 1/2 the chocolate baking bar)
3 packets stevia (or as much as desired- I like super dark chocolate)
Raw almonds soaked (1 or 2 per chocolate)
Note: I am trying to have minimal amounts of sure so I went with sweetening 100% myself with stevia, but if desired you can melt down your favorite dark chocolate bar.

Step #1: Break chocolate into chunks.  Double boil to melt.  Mix in stevia, taste to adjust to desired sweetness.  Stir continuously until melted.
If you don't have a double boiler, you can use a glass bowl over a pot like I did.  You want the water in the pot to be low enough to not allow the glass bowl to be submerged.
Step #2: Begin to coat chocolate molds.  Place in freezer until hard (about 5 mins -chocolate is thin)
Step #3: While chilling chocolates, mix coconut butter, shredded coconut, and coconut oil together until well combined.  Remove chocolates from freezer, and begin to fill with almonds if desired and coconut filling.  Yes I have cute heart shaped molds but it allows for 2 almonds per chocolate!  Valenine's Day is around the corner, perhaps a yummy treat for loved one!
Step #4: Cover with more melted chocolate and freeze until chocolate is set (only about 5-10 mins).
Step #5: Remove from freezer and un-mold.  I just flipped upside down over a plate and gently tapped with the back of a butter knife until they came loose.
Step #6: Let sit out for a little before eating (unless you want frozen coconut filling)
I brought these into work and people enjoyed them.
I made these twice in order to get the recipe right.  Shown above was first try and my chocolate shell was a bit thick.  The next time I did use a chocolate paint brush to brush the chocolate around the mold to get a thinner and more consistent shell.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Challenge #49 - Extra Pesto = Eggplant Mini "Pizzas"

I had a bunch of pesto leftover from my previous recipe, so I looked around my kitchen to see what I could use it with and presto...Eggplant Mini "Pizzas"

Goat Cheese cheddar (or whatever kind you like)
Sea Salt and Pepper to taste

Step #1 - Slice eggplant into 1/4" disks.  Place on baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake on 350 for about 15 mins. Flip and continue baking.  Eggplant will brown on edges and begin to shrink.  You will notice in one of the photos below, a very crispy one.  I cut that one too thin and uneven, so try to cut slices as uniform as possible.
Step #2 -Slice up tomato and pepper and cheese while eggplant is baking.  Remove eggplant from oven when both sides are cooked.
Step #3- Spread pesto onto eggplant and top with tomato or pepper and finish with thin slice of cheese.
Step #4 - Put back into oven and bake until cheese melts.  Serve and enjoy.
These were simple and delicious.  My husband enjoyed them as well. We both agreed they could also be served as an appetizer for a dinner party.  Note, only one baking sheet is shown in photos, but my eggplant filled up 2 sheets.