Monday, January 30, 2012

Roasted Eggplant and Feta Spread

Life can be crazy, right? We rush through our day, from one task to the next, and often times fail to pause and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us. We eat in our cars, at our desks, or skip meals all together. We live in a world that has not found the balance between work and life. We dedicate ourselves to our jobs and families and if there is time – we may squeeze in exercise. But what about community outreach, social activism, volunteerism? Where do these areas fit into our life?

Like many of you, I have spent my days in this this crazy, chaotic, not-so-perfect culture that is called life. Through my yoga practice I have found the ability to “be present” and to “just be.” I have realized the importance of channeling my positive energy into everyday life and dedicating time to a cause that I feel passionately about. I highly encourage you to do the same.

I joined the Slow Food Urban San Diego Food Justice Committee and focus my attention on educating teenage mothers in the areas of cooking, nutrition, and gardening. Each month we meet for a few hours to discuss the projects we are planning and of course we each bring a dish to pass. I had this gorgeous eggplant sitting on my counter and immediately decided I would whip up something that used this beauty. I began perusing my favorite online sites for inspiration and landed on EatingWell. I went back and forth debating between Baba Ghanoush and Roasted Eggplant and Feta Dip – feta won! I paired the dip with some Ezekiel pita bread and it was a hit! Everyone raved about this savory spread.

Eggplant is known for its beautiful deep-purple hue, glossy skin, and unique flavor and texture. In addition to its good looks, eggplant also boasts many wonderful nutritional benefits. High in dietary fiber and bone-building vitamin K and manganese, eggplant is also a good source of heart-healthy copper, vitamin c, B6, folate, and niacin.


1 medium eggplant, (about 1 pound)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup organic crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 small chile pepper, such as jalapeño, seeded and minced (I used a poblano pepper)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of agave (or sweetener of your choice)


Preheat the broiler. Place the eggplant on a pan lined with aluminum foil and poke small holes all over it for steam to vent. Broil the eggplant for 15-20 minutes, turning it every five minutes with a tongs. Remove from the oven and transfer the eggplant to a cutting board to cool.

Squeeze the lemon juice into a medium bowl. Cut the eggplant in half, length-wise, and scoop the flesh out into the bowl, leaving behind the skin. Mix with the lemon juice to prevent discoloring. Add the EVOO and stir until well mixed. Should be slightly chunky but feel free to mix up in a food processor if you’d like a creamier texture. Add all other ingredients, stir, and serve with your choice of pita chips, bread, crackers, etc. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Toasted Green Beans with Orange Spiced Tempeh

Last Sunday I ran my third half-marathon! Running a distance that great requires some “carb loading” and I definitely enjoyed my fair share. There was brown rice pasta, yellow curry, plenty of oats and green smoothies, and of course a chocolate chip cookie. Typically I feel great after running 13.1 miles! I mean…maybe a little stiff but otherwise I feel fine. This go-around was not the case. Sure, the stiffness set-in but it was my stomach that didn’t feel right. My body felt a little beat up. I thought about what I did differently, or what I didn’t do, and then realized that I nourished my body with one measly sip of water during the ENTIRE run! That’ll do it!

Anyway, I’m trying to make friends with my body again by re-fueling the right now - back to green smoothies, veggies, and whole grains. Last nights dinner was so yummy and exactly what my bod needed.

I decided to experiment with Tempeh. Tempeh is a fermented soy product unlike it’s unfermented brother, Tofu. To make tempeh, soybeans are slightly cooked and then formed into a patty. Many times other things grains will added. In this case, the tempeh was combined with millet and barley. Tempeh, like tofu, takes on the flavor of whatever it is cooked in but is textured and has a nutty flavor. It is high in both protein and calcium and contains magnesium, beneficial in cardiovascular health, and also riboflavin, important for detoxification of the liver.

* Please note that this recipe serves 4 people. I served this dish over the top of some coconut brown rice but it would be equally delicious served over any of your other favorite whole-grains.


1 8oz. package of tempeh, cut into bite-sized cubes
1 pint of green beans
1 cup of cherry tomatoes
½ onion, chopped
2 tablespoons of EVOO
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes

Sauce Ingredients:

Juice from 2-3 large oranges
Zest from 1 large orange
1 tablespoon of fresh grated ginger
2 teaspoons of tamari (or soy sauce)
2 teaspoons of honey (agave, maple syrup, or sweetener of your choice)
½ teaspoon of ground coriander
2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed


Heat the EVOO in a large skillet. Add the chopped onion and sauté for approximately five minutes, or until the onions are translucent.

Add the crushed red pepper flakes and tempeh to the skillet, and lightly fry until the tempeh turns golden-brown. Flip the tempeh cubes over and repeat on the other side.

While the tempeh is cooking, combine all sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Once you are finished cooking the tempeh, add the orange juice mixture to the skillet and simmer for approximately five minutes. Add the green beans and tomatoes and continue to simmer for an additional five minutes. Beans should be bright green with a slight crunch and sauce should be a nice thick glaze.

Spoon this tempeh dish over your favorite grain to make a complete meal. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Beautiful Beet Hummus

Who says hummus has to be brown or tan? What about a beautiful shade of magenta?! The other night we were invited for dinner and when I asked what I could bring I was told, “Either a healthy dessert or an appetizer. You always do a great job of making healthy food taste good.” Okay, appetizer or dessert? My decision – both!

I whipped up a batch of my Carrot Cookies and then searched through my cabinets and fridge. I was able to find chickpeas, garlic, tahini, and roasted beets from the night before. Oh yes – fresh lemons on the tree as well. What do you get when you mix all of these fabulous ingredients together - beet hummus!

Beets are definitely a favorite of mine. Not only are they beautiful in color but they are packed full of nutrients as well. Beets contain a unique phytonutrient called betalain, which is also what gives beets their bold color. There are two common betalains studied, betanin and vulgaxanthin, both of which provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support. They also contain nutrients that protect against heart disease, birth defects and some forms of cancer – specifically colon cancer. In addition, these little red veggies are a great source of folate, manganese, and fiber.

Beets are best steamed or roasted and are a great addition to fresh greens, added to hummus, eaten on a veggie pizza (recipe coming soon), or with oil and lemon juice. Enjoy!


2 cups of roasted beets
1 cup of chickpeas, drained
¼ cup of water
2 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons of sesame seeds (or tahini)
1 tablespoon of EVOO
½ teaspoon of cumin
Juice of one fresh lemon
Sea salt


Heat EVOO in a small pan, add the sesame seeds, and roast slowly until seeds are golden in color. Make sure that all seeds get coated with the oil and stir frequently to prevent burning. Add all ingredients to a food processor, or high-speed blender, and process until it becomes a creamy, smooth texture.

Transfer to a small serving dish and enjoy! I served this with dense flax bread; however, raw veggies, whole-grain crackers, whole-wheat pita chips, or any other favorite would work as well.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Ch-ch-ch-Chia Pudding!

I have been trying to incorporate this mighty superfood into my daily diet for a while now and this may be the award-winning recipe! Enjoy chia pudding for breakfast, snack, and even dessert! This pudding is delicious and tasty, not overly sweet, yet completely satisfying. The chia seed is one of the most powerful and nutritious superfoods in the world. Packed full of antioxidants, fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, and the richest plant-source of omega-3.

Just a measly two tablespoons of chia seeds provide you with more “omega-3 than Atlantic salmon, more antioxidants than blueberries, more fiber than bran flakes, more calcium than 2% milk, and more protein, fiber and calcium than flax seeds” (The Chia Seed).

The chia seed has this amazing ‘gelling’ capability that allows it to thicken liquids. What happens when we eat something that is thick? We feel full! Because chia seeds can absorb so much water and have high soluble fiber levels, they slowly and naturally release stored carbs into the bloodstream – thus reducing cravings. These seeds are also energizing, increasing endurance and stamina and easily digestible. Sounds like a winning superfood to me!

Now you can make this recipe and indulge in your creation within thirty minutes; however, I prefer to whip my pudding up the night before and enjoy it for breakfast. This allows the pudding more time to thicken and it makes for a quick, convenient, and nutritious breakfast!


¾ cup of unsweetened almond milk (I like the vanilla almond milk)
¼ cup of chia seeds
½ banana, mashed (optional)
2 tablespoons of honey (or sweetener of your choice)
1 teaspoon pure organic vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon

* This recipe makes enough for one person, unless you are kind enough to share.


Add the mashed banana, almond milk, honey, vanilla, and cinnamon to a medium bowl and mix well. Add the chia seeds and stir quickly to prevent the chia seeds from clumping. 

Transfer the mixture to a bowl that can be sealed and place it in the refrigerator. Let the pudding thicken for at least thirty minutes (or overnight) before diving in spoon first. Enjoy!!!!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Veggies + Soba Noodles in a Spicy Peanut Sauce

Happy New Year to all of my incredible readers and hello wonderful winter weather! The weather in San Diego has been unseasonably warm this week. We’ve had temperatures in the mid-70’s every day with blue skies and a warm breeze. It feels like summer and it is so amazing! Because of the warmer weather my body has been asking for fresh, fabulous and sometimes raw dishes vs. my typical January roasted root veggies. This recipe is a fusion of Japanese and Thai foods or flavors with some barely steamed and raw vegetables. Scrumptious!

You may be asking yourself, “what in the world are soba noodles and where can I find them?” The answer is actually quite simple. Soba is the name for ‘buckwheat’ in Japanese and refers to a thin noodle. Typically soba noodles are served cold or with a hot dipping sauce. They can be found in the ethnic foods aisle in your local grocery store and the best part - they only take five minutes to make!

Soba noodles are not gluten-free as they do contain two parts wheat and eight parts buckwheat. They are chock full of amino acids; in fact they contain all eight amino acids, including lysine which is lacking in wheat products. Soba noodles also contain antioxidants, rutin and quercetin, and essential nutrients such as choline, thiamine, and riboflavin.

The next time you want noodles for dinner – think Soba! Your children will never know the difference and these noodles are quick and easy to make. Add any fresh veggies that you have on hand and some Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids or toasted sesame oil. Voila!  You have a tasty meal. In this recipe I created a spicy peanut sauce to accompany the soba and fresh veggies. Enjoy!

1- 8oz. package of Soba (buckwheat) noodles
2 cups of sugar snap peas, cut in half
1 large carrot, peeled into thin ribbons (using a potato peeler)
2 green onions, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons of fresh chopped cilantro

Spicy Peanut Sauce Ingredients:
1/3 cup of vegetable broth or stock
1/3 cup of creamy organic peanut butter
2 tablespoons of tamari (or low-sodium soy sauce)
2 tablespoons of honey (or sweetener of your choice)
1 tablespoon of fresh grated ginger
1 tablespoon of sesame seeds
1 teaspoon of fresh chili paste (I used sambal oelek)
1 clove of garlic, pressed or minced

Bring a pot of water to a rapid bowl and add the soba noodles. Cook the noodles for approximately five minutes or until al dente. Drain soba and rinse or soak with cold water.

Steam the sugar snap peas (or veggies of your choice) for two-three minutes in a vegetable steamer. I prefer my vegetables barely cooked, or under-cooked, because I like the snap and the nutrients!

Combine all ingredients for the peanut sauce and set aside. Once the soba noodles and sugar snap peas have finished cooking, add them to a large bowl with the carrot ribbons. Pour the peanut sauce over the other ingredients and mix well. Top with green onions, cilantro, sesame seeds and SERVE!