Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Baked Pear and Walnut Tart

I cannot believe how quickly spring come and gone. Yes I know, technically it is still spring. But in my eyes June qualifies as summer and with it being just two days away, I’d say summer is here! There are so many reasons why I LOVE summer; of course, fresh produce, BBQ’s and light summer meals top the list.

Every great summer picnic needs an even more delightful dessert, don’t you think? This tart is packed with nutty walnuts, sweet dates, juicy pears, and cinnamon. It can be prepared in less than 30 minutes and it is delicious! 

Besides the fact that pears are sweet, juicy and buttery - they offer much more than a delicious flavor. Pears are actually a member of the rose family and are high in vitamin C and copper - both of which are thought of as antioxidant nutrients and protect against free radicals. Pears also promote cardiovascular and colon health (the fiber keeps you regular).

1 cup of raw, unsalted walnuts
½ cup of rolled oats
1 cup of medjool dates, pitted (approximately 5 large dates)
½ teaspoon salt
2 pears, sliced thin
1 tablespoon honey
1-2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of coconut oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the walnuts, oats, dates and salt in a food processor and pulse until thick, sticky dough forms.

Grease a 9” tart or pie pan with coconut oil and press the dough mixture evenly along the bottom of the pan and slightly up the sides.

Place the pear slices in a circular layer on top of the crust. Drizzle with honey, sprinkle with cinnamon and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until pears become tender and crust is a light brown. Allow to cool for at least one hour.

Slice and serve with a dollop of yogurt or crème fraîche (optional) and enjoy! 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Red Pepper Tabbouleh

I’ve never really thought of myself as a gardener. I have often tried to grow fresh herbs and tomatoes in individual planter pots but lets just say that my thumb is not naturally “green.” Then again, who is a born gardener? Like anything, gardening is something you have to practice doing. It takes a little research, reading, and trial and error. This year I decided to have raised beds built for my fav veggies and herbs. I DO NOT use any pesticides, insecticides or miracle grow. My produce receives plenty of water, sunlight, and love and is purely organic! I absolutely love filling a large bowl with kale, spinach, and beet greens all from my very own backyard. But what do you do when you have an extreme abundance of parsley and mint? Oh yeah, you make tabbouleh!

Tabbouleh is a classic Middle Eastern salad loaded with fresh herbs, tomatoes, and lemon. Parsley is one of the key ingredients in a Tabbouleh salad and is so much more than a pretty garnish on your plate. Parsley contains healing properties and is highly nutritious. This vibrant herb contains volatile oils that can aid in neutralizing particular types of carcinogens (i.e. benzopyrenes that are part of cigarette and charcoal grill smoke) and has been shown to inhibit tumor formation. Parsley is also rich in flavonoids (that function as antioxidants) and vitamins C and A (vital nutrients important for disease prevention).

The next time you see this little green herb make its way onto your plate – eat it! Parsley deserves so much more attention than it gets as a garnish. Know its true worth and appreciate it for its healing and health properties.

2 cups of water
1 cup of bulgur wheat (fine or medium bulgur)
1 cup of tomato (diced)
1 cup of red bell pepper (chopped)
1 cup of cucumber (chopped)
2 cups of chopped parsley
1 cup of chopped mint
1 garlic clove (pressed or minced)
1 lemon (juice and zest)
1/3 cup of EVOO
Pink Himalayan sea salt

Bring the water to a boil. Put the bulgur wheat in a large bowl, add the boiling water over the grain (should be just covering the bulgur) and let stand for approximately 30 minutes. Drain and press out any remaining water. *Use any excess water for a cup of tea J

For the dressing, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice and zest, garlic and sea salt together.

Add the tomato, red pepper, cucumber, parsley and mint to the bowl with the bulgur. Toss with half of the dressing. Taste and add more dressing based on your personal preference. Serve and enjoy! 

* Serves 4-6.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

A few months back I was enjoying a post-yoga lunch with a dear friend. When it came time to make a decision (this café has a rather extensive menu) she asked aloud, “do I feel like eating with a fork or my hands?” I chuckled at the time because that thought had never really crossed my mind. Fast forward three months and I find myself asking that very same question. Sometimes I just want delicious finger food. There is something so liberating, and at times romantic, about eating with your hands. Pizza is a great example but is not always the healthiest option. Why not though?! Why can’t pizza be healthy? Or can it? J I say it can!

I have crafted a quinoa pizza crust which was quite tasty but crunchier like a cracker. Recently I spotted a crust made with cauliflower and thought I’d give it a try (or something like it) in my own kitchen. The consistency of the crust is softer and fluffier like that of tradition pizza; however, it is made up of cauliflower so it’s healthy and awesome!

I’ll let you in on a little secret. Normally when I cook I just throw together some ingredients, a little of this and a touch of that. I don’t measure and I don’t time. I add until it tastes good and looks and feels like it is done. Blogging can be a challenge because I need to provide exact amounts. So…as you recreate this recipe, I encourage you to add your own special flare! Let your creative juices flow!

What’s so special about cauliflower? Though cauliflower is less studied than its cruciferous brothers and sisters, it has been linked to cancer prevention specifically in regards to the following: bladder, colon, breast, prostate and ovarian cancers. The connection between cauliflower and cancer prevention can be explained by its support for three key systems in the body: detox, anti-oxidant, and inflammatory/anti-inflammatory system. If any of these three systems are out of balance the likelihood of cancer increases. If there is a simultaneous imbalance in all three of these systems than the likelihood of cancer increases tremendously.

Cauliflower is high in antioxidant nutrients that are key to phase 1 and 2 of our bodies detox system. These nutrients rid unwanted toxins from our body and reduce damage that increases our cells’ risk of becoming cancerous. It is also extremely high in vitamin c and vitamin k – the king anti-inflammatory nutrient.

Tips for buying cauliflower: 1) Look for a head that is creamy, white and compact. 2) Buy the full head of cauliflower not pre-cut florets. Not only is it cheaper to buy the entire head of cauliflower, but also it will last longer, and you can use the stems and greens to make your own veggie stock.

1 head of cauliflower chopped finely (I used a food processor and stopped when I achieved a rice-like texture)
1 cup of almond flour (you can create this by grinding raw almonds in a food processor or high speed blender. Whole-wheat flour would also work)
3 eggs (or flax eggs if vegan)
1 clove of garlic pressed or minced
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of nutrition yeast (optional)

* Add whatever toppings you would like. I used a fresh marinara sauce from the farmers market and topped it with spinach, artichoke hearts, goat cheese and some raw Parmesan.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Transfer the “riced” cauliflower to a large bowl; add the almond flour, eggs (or flax eggs) and salt. Stir well until your mixture becomes a doughy ball. Lightly flour a pizza stone or line a baking sheet with parchment paper and begin to roll and spread the dough evenly.

Bake for 25 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven and begin to assemble your pizza. Top with sauce, your favorite veggies, and cheese if you choose. Return it to the oven for an additional 10 - 15 minutes.

Slice, serve, and enjoy with your hands! 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Non-traditional Bircher Muesli

I have yet to understand how some people dislike breakfast. I ADORE breakfast. Perhaps it’s because I’m a morning person…or maybe it’s the feeling of peace and solitude that fills me. There is just something so lovely about fresh pressed juices, a great cup of coffee or tea and a bowl of oats.

This recipe was actually featured in my Earth Day To Be Nourished Newsletter. If you haven’t signed up yet, click here. My newsletter is sent monthly and includes articles on healthy eating and living, a featured recipe, upcoming events, and favorite products. Now back to the Bircher Muesli J I enjoyed this Muesli so much that I thought I’d share it with all of you! This delicious bowl of “oat-y” goodness requires no electricity and can be prepared the night before. Now you have no excuse to skip breakfast because it’s quick, nutritious and delicious!

* Please note, this recipe makes 1 serving

½ cup of old fashioned rolled oats
½ cup of almond milk (coconut, hemp or organic dairy can be used)
½ cup of cultured almond milk (kefir, Greek yogurt, or organic yogurt can be used)
½ cup of mixed berries (or fruit of your choice)
¼ cup of raw almonds (thinly sliced)
Dash of cinnamon
Raw honey – just a squeeze (your preference)

Combine the oats, almond milk and cinnamon. Stir and cover in the fridge overnight.

Just before eating, mix in the cultured almond milk (or yogurt), top with berries and almonds and a squeeze of honey for sweetness.

Grab a spoon, dive-in, and enjoy!