Monday, December 22, 2014

Dark Chocolate Dipped Satsuma Oranges with Shredded Coconut

Yes, I realize I have taken a brief hiatus from blogging but it was what I needed to do for “me” at the moment. With teaching, consulting, clients, vacationing, settling into a new city, making my way through my first trimester (yeah!!!), etc., I just found the need to let the blogging go for a bit. But guess what? I’m now in my second trimester, it’s going to be a New Year in just over one week and most importantly…I really miss creating delicious, healthy and easy recipes in my kitchen.

So, without further adieu, I introduce to you the beautiful dark chocolate dipped satsumas! They look fancy but in reality, they will take you ten minutes to prepare. The best part, I swear they are better than any holiday cookie! YUM!

What is a Satsuma? A Satsuma is a member of the mandarin orange family, which also includes tangerines and clementines. They have a thick skin that practically falls off when you peel them, less pith than some citrus, less pulp and more sweet, melt-in-your-mouth goodness! These beauties deserve a category of their own.

Loaded with Vitamin C, these citrus babies are immune boosting, cancer fighting, skin glowing, and detoxifying. If you can find them, I highly encourage you to buy not one or two but ten of them!

3-4 Satsuma oranges (seedless mandarin oranges or clementines would also work)
1 cup of dark chocolate chips or chunks
Finely shredded coconut (unsweetened)

Peel the satsumas and separate the wedges. Line a baking sheet or large cutting board with parchment paper and set aside.

Use a double boiler (if you have one) to melt the chocolate. I don’t actually have a double boiler myself so I create one by using a saucepan and a smaller glass bowl. Fill the saucepan with water and then set the bowl on top so that the bottom of the bowl is submerged a few inches into the water. Continue to stir the chocolate chips until completely melted and creamy.

Set the glass bowl on a heat-safe counter top and begin dunking your satsumas. Continue to dunk away, setting your satsumas on to the lined pan as you finish them.

Sprinkle with coconut (optional) and cool in the refrigerator for approximately 5-10 minutes or until the chocolate has hardened.

Transfer your pretty little treats to a nice platter and voila! Eat, enjoy and be merry!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Summer Vegetable + Pesto Pizza

I’m en route to Wisconsin right now for the Fourth of July and let’s just say that I get bored very quickly on airplanes. I fanaticize about falling asleep the moment the plane takes off and waking when the wheels touch down again. You know, the person next to you, in my case – my husband, who is asleep the moment they sit down in their chair? Then there’s the girl who stretches in her chair, walks up and down the aisle, eats all her plane snacks and has all her magazines read within the first hour on a flight that is four hours long. Yes, that girl is me! As much as I believe in savoring each moment and living in the present, I don’t necessarily enjoy flying. I love the idea of getting from place to place quickly and adventures in new parts of the world; however, I don’t like breathing the same stale air as everyone else and being confined to a chair that is one foot by one foot. Perhaps, my 5’10 frame is just too large for a coach seat :)

Today, I’ll make the best of traveling and use my time in the air in the most efficient way I can – I will blog!

I adore spring and summer vegetables! Not only for the incredibly diverse assortment but also for the rainbow of color. With each new season I am again reminded of the beauty of the earth’s bounty and how fortunate we are to have access to fresh, organic and beautiful food! A few of my favorites for the spring and summer are asparagus, English peas and pea shoots.

This recipe takes a twist on an American classic, pizza, and slaps you in the face with something unique, light and lust-worthy. Use produce and herbs from your own backyard for even more love!

*Note, I used whole-wheat pizza dough from Whole Foods but you could also use this gluten-free crust recipe.

Whole-wheat pizza dough
2-3 cups of fresh basil (depending how much you pack it in)
1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil (plus an extra tablespoon)
Zest and juice from one lemon
3 large cloves of garlic
¼ cup of pine nuts (or walnuts, almonds, etc.)
1 bunch of asparagus, cut in 1” pieces
1 cup of fresh English peas
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced (green tops for garnish)
Pea shoots (optional)
Goats milk ricotta cheese (optional)
Himalayan pink salt (or sea salt)

Preheat oven 400°F or according to dough package.

Heat one tablespoon of EVOO over low heat. Add fennel slices and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Pour ¼ cup of water or vegetable stock in to the pan and add the English peas and asparagus bites. Cover and cook for 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

To make the pesto sauce, add the basil, garlic, pine nuts, lemon zest, lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of salt to a food processor. Start the food processor and slowly add the olive oil a little at a time. Continue to process until you have the desired pesto consistency.

Spoon and smear the pesto on the pizza crust. Using a slotted spoon, so any excess liquid drains out, top with fennel, asparagus and peas. Add small dollops of ricotta cheese (optional) on top. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until crust is cooked through.

Garnish with fennel greens and raw pea shoots. Enjoy the taste of summer!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Horchata Smoothie with a Superfood Booster!

When my husband and I lived in San Diego part of our weekly routine was walking down to the OB Farmer’s Market on Wednesday nights. We had our favorite stands for produce, flowers, hummus and fresh pasta that we’d pick up for the week and then there was also our favorite stand for dinner. Yes, dinner at the Farmer’s Market. If you haven’t had dinner at the Farmer’s Market yet – you should try it! Eating amongst fresh produce, artisan foods, handmade jewelry and crafts with live music in the background and the best people watching ever is something truly special. For us, our go-to was the stand Ortega’s Cocina would set up outside their restaurant. We would nosh on fresh tamales, pupusas and the most amazing horchata. It was probably not the healthiest of meals but definitely worth the splurge.

Horchata (or-CHA-tah) is a Mexican or Latin cinnamon rice milk or drink typically made with white rice, almonds or tiger nuts, water, cinnamon and sugar. It is smooth, creamy, sweet and so yummy! While I love horchata in its true form, I also enjoy “healthifying” recipes. It is so fun to transform a recipe into something a bit healthier (notice I didn’t say completely healthy J). This is exactly what I did in this horchata smoothie recipe. If you’d rather just have the milk, not the smoothie, simply leave out the bananaJ. I’ve also added Lucuma Powder to this smoothie as a superfood booster! Lucuma provides 14 essential trace elements, including calcium, potassium and magnesium, plus fiber, protein and antioxidants.

2/3 cup of uncooked brown rice
4 ½ cups of fresh water
1 cup of blanched almonds, skins removed
2 medjool dates, pits removed
1 large banana (if you’re making a smoothie)
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon of Sunfood tropical lucuma powder
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Add the uncooked brown rice to the blender and pulverize until you are left with a rice-powder.

Transfer the rice powder to a large bowl; add the raw almonds (skins removed), cinnamon stick and 2 ½ cups of boiling water. Let cool, cover and refrigerate overnight. 

Add the rice/almond mixture, dates, ground cinnamon, vanilla and remaining two cups of water to a high-speed blender. Blend on high until smooth and creamy.

Place a large metal sieve over a bowl and line with cheesecloth or a nut milk bag. Slowly pour the horchata mixture through the fine mesh stirring and using a wooden spoon to press the pulp against the sieve to extract as much liquid as possible. Lift the cheesecloth or bag and use your hands to squeeze the remaining pulp to get all the liquid out. Discard the pulp.
Pour the horchata into a glass bottle or pitcher and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

If you want to make a smoothie – keep reading!

Pour two cups of horchata into the blender. Add the large banana, Lucuma Powder and a handful of ice. Blend until smooth. Pour into one large glass, or two smaller glasses, and drink immediately! So delicious!!!

**Blanching Almonds**

Add the raw almonds to a large glass bowl. Pour boiling water over the top and let sit for one minute. Pour the almonds and water through a strainer and rinse with ice-cold water. Use your fingers to slide the skins off the almonds. That’s it!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Creamy Dairy-Free Tortilla Soup

This post has taken me an eternity to write and I have only myself to blame. When I blog, I like my posts to be complete, well thought-out, educational and to feature beautiful food photography. Herein lies the problem – time.

Since we’ve settled into Santa Cruz, my work has been pulling me in many different directions (good problems – not complaining ;), leaving me with less time to create and write about new exciting recipes. Last night I came to the realization that this is part of life. There will always be something we’d like to do IF we just had a little more time. Well folks, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but one day is equivalent to 24 hours or 1,440 minutes, and unless someone quickly builds a time machine – this is not going to change anytime soon. So…I am done making excuses. It’s time to take control of the time I have.

* I will find more time to do the things I love – cook, write, practice and teach yoga, support my clients, get lost in nature and spend time with my friends and family!
* I will spend less time wandering aimlessly on the Internet
* I will worry less about whether my blog posts are complete and instead feel excited to share what I have
* I will spend more time learning about nutrition, wellness and mindfulness
* I will find a way to volunteer my time to a cause I believe in
* I will make the best use of the time I have for ME and those who I love

I leave you with one question, how will you make the best use of your time for you, the things you love and for those you love?

Now back to the post J. The hubs and I LOVE tortilla soup but not all the heavy cream and cheese that often times goes into it. I started researching different ways of making tortilla soups “creamy” without the use of dairy and guess what I found? Tortillas! Yes, good ol’ corn tortillas to thicken the soup, making it feel thick and silky. What an incredible idea! I used this as inspiration for my own version – because I don’t know how to follow recipes. I always end up adjusting spices, ingredients, etc. Today I leave you with just a recipe and a picture, nothing more. And it will be okay J

4 cups vegetable broth
1 can (28-oz.) fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 can of black beans
1 cup cup of organic whole kernel corn
1 small yellow onion, cut into 6 wedges
3 cloves of garlic (still in the paper)
1 jalapeño
2 teaspoons dried cumin
2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
1 ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
Sea salt & pepper
4 corn tortillas, chopped (plus one extra for crispy topping)
Juice from 1 lime

Optional toppings
crispy tortilla strips
avocado, sliced
lime wedges
queso fresco

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss the onions, whole jalapeno and garlic cloves with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread on a large baking sheet and roast for about 20-30 minutes or until the edges of the onions darken. Toss them about halfway through. Remove the garlic after about 5 minutes, so it doesn’t burn and the jalapeno when the skin is blackened and blistering.

Place the roasted jalapeno in a small glass bowl and cover with a lid or plastic wrap (make sure the plastic does not touch the jalapeno). Let it cool for approximately 15 minutes. Using utensils, carefully peel off the skin and remove the stem and seeds, being careful not to touch your eyes when doing this.

In a medium pot, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil; add the onions, garlic (skin removed), jalapeno, tomatoes, oregano, cumin, chili powder, cayenne, paprika and some salt and pepper. Cook for 4-5 minutes.

Add a splash of apple cider vinegar and cook for 30 seconds more. Add the broth and chopped tortilla pieces and let simmer for 20-30 minutes. The tortillas will start to break apart. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Transfer to a high-speed blender and puree until smooth. Add additional broth or water if the soup is too thick for your liking. Squeeze in some lime, taste and season accordingly.

Stir in the corn and black beans. Serve with an extra drizzle of olive oil and the optional toppings of your choice J

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Lip Smackin' Delicious Acaí Bowl

A few days ago I snapped a pic of my breakfast, with my iPhone, and published it on various social media channels: Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Before I knew it I was receiving requests for the recipe on my blog. Instantly I thought, “shoot, I didn’t style this in a way that actually captured the true beauty of the food using a real camera.” Eek! But then I realized something, I am just an ordinary girl, in an ordinary world, who happened to post a picture of a not so special but equally delicious Tuesday morning breakfast. And guess what? People still wanted the recipe! Awesome!!!

{I have a confession. I made this again just so I could snap a better picture. The image has now been updated J}

Acaí bowls (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) are gaining popularity on the West Coast in vegan restaurants, organic cafés, Brazilian food carts and coffee shops. The downfall, these power-packed beauties can burn a hole right through your pretty little coin pouch.  The upside you ask? Thanks to brands like Sambazon, frozen acaí packets can easily be found in the freezer section of Whole Foods and other natural food markets. Score!

Acaí is a magical little purple berry that hails from a palm tree found in the Amazon rainforest. This small fruit is a nutrition powerhouse and known as the “beauty berry” in Brazil because of its properties to make the body look and feel good on the inside and outside. Acaí is rich in antioxidants, specifically one called anthocyanin, known for fighting free radicals in the body and anti-aging. In addition, it contains healthy fats - omega 3, 6 and 9, essential for great skin, hair and nails ladies, and more grams of protein than an egg! Still want more? These little berries contain NO SUGAR!!! Acaí is definitely a superfruit worthy of being added to your diet. Just be sure to read the labels, especially on juices, because companies love to sneak in other ingredients like sweeteners.

This recipe takes a quick 5 minutes to make and is super filling, energizing and delicious!

1 Sambazon frozen acaí smoothie pack
¼ - ½ cup of almond milk (depending on how thick you like it)
1 banana
½ cup strawberries (or berries of your choice; frozen is fine!) 

½ banana sliced
½ cup strawberries (or berries of your choice)
¼ cup of granola

Add all “bowl” ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Transfer to acaí mixture to a bowl, top with sliced banana, berries and granola. Take a big spoonful and eat J.