Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sugar n’ Spice Walnuts


Did someone say party food!?  This recipe is perfect for parties or festive occasions.  You and your friends will be totally addicted to these coated nuts!

Ingredients
  • 3 cups raw walnut halves, unsalted
  • 1/8 cup raw honey
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with canola oil
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine walnuts with honey and spices
  4. Stir until nuts are evenly coated
  5. Taste one (cause it is fun to do that)
  6. Place in a single layer on your baking sheet
  7. Place in oven for 15 minutes until well toasted and golden brown
  8. Remove from your oven and let cool completely before serving
  9. Store in airtight container in your refrigerator

Walnuts and Your Health
Walnuts are often times referred to as a “superfood” for their outstanding nutrition content.  According to the American Dietetic Association, ¼ cup of walnuts contain over 90 percent of your essential omega-3 fatty acid, which may be good for your heart, promote better cognitive function and have anti-inflammatory benefits. Walnuts also may support your immune system and have several anticancer properties.  Plus, walnuts contain phosphorus, zinc, copper, thiamin, iron and potassium. 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Easy Cauliflower Mash

The point of this recipe is not to say that potatoes are bad – this is simply an opportunity to incorporate cauliflower in a fun way into your meal. Cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin C and is low in calories (just 15 calories per serving versus 70 calories per serving of potato).

Cauliflower works as a potato substitute because it has an almost identical texture when pureed, looks the same visually and has a mild flavor like potatoes.  No one will know the difference.  I promise.

Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, pressed
  • ½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil or canola oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Garnish with paprika, green onions or chives
  • Other spice ideas: Try with ground curry for some punch OR fresh rosemary
Preparation
  1. Peel off the leaves of the cauliflower and cut off the stem just above where the florets join together
  2. Cut florets uniformly so it cooks evenly
  3. Steam cauliflower florets (steaming better preserves the vitamin content than boiling, especially the B vitamins).  To steam, place florets in a steamer basket and place in a pot with 2 inches of boiling water. Cover for 5-8 minutes.
  4. Place in blender or food processor with all ingredients and puree until smooth.
  5. Garnish as desired
Buying and Storing Cauliflower
  • When purchasing your cauliflower, look for a head that is white or creamy white, firm/compact and heavy for its size.  Stay clear of speckling, brown patches or any discoloration.
  • Proper storage of your cauliflower is key for flavor.  You can keep it in the vegetable drawer of your fridge for 5-7 days and will want to store it with the stem-side up to prevent moisture from collecting on it.
I want to end by emphasizing that potatoes are not a bad food! They contain important nutrients including potassium, vitamin C and are also a rich source of fiber (most of the nutrients in potatoes are contained in the skin and just below the skin).  Potatoes mostly get a bad reputation for the way they are prepared.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Roasted Sesame Asparagus

Spring season always means fresh asparagus at your local market.  Asparagus can be enjoyed in so many ways.  My personal preference is the simpler the better.  This recipe is pretty basic but has enough of that *something special* to make it a crowd pleaser.

Ingredients
  • 25-30 asparagus spears
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp white sesame seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 shallot
  • ¼ cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cut off the hard end of the asparagus and discard (see Time Saving Tip below)
  3. Lay the remaining asparagus on a baking sheet or glass baking dish (one layer works best)
  4. Drizzle the olive oil over the asparagus and sprinkle with sesame seeds, diced shallots, whole wheat bread crumbs, freshly pressed garlic and ground pepper
  5. Cook in oven for 20 minutes
  6. Serve immediately 

Time Saving Tip
Asparagus typically come batched in a rubber band.  To easily find the perfect spot to cut off the hard part of the asparagus (that you won’t want to eat or serve) follow this trick:
  • Leaving the asparagus bunched in the rubber band, remove just one asparagus. 
  • Hold one end of the asparagus with your left hand and the other end with your right hand. 
  • Lightly bend the asparagus until it snaps.  It will naturally snap off where you should be cutting it.
  • Then, lay that asparagus piece next to the rest of the bound batch and cut the entire batch with one fell swoop at the same breaking point
  • Discard the hard ends and remove the rubber band and voila – you’re done! (So much better than guessing (which can lead to wasting your asparagus) or snapping each one individually (which takes way too long).

Chocolate Dessert Quinoa


This recipe takes quinoa to a whole new level.  I have featured quinoa as a hot entrĂ©e, cold side dish, breakfast option – and now I’m touting it as a dessert.  Stay with me here…

Quinoa is basically flavorless which allows for creativity in its preparation. It absorbs liquid and flavor well while staying light and fluffy. This is what makes it such a flexible food in terms of when and how you can serve it up. 

Similar to rice pudding, this dish is velvety and naturally sweet.  By adding just a small amount of dark chocolate (1 tablespoon) you get that rich, decadent flavor that you expect with any chocolate dessert.  This light dessert is nothing short of delightful.

Serves: One-Two Servings (depending on how much room you leave for dessert and how much of a chocoholic you are)

Ingredients
  • 1 ½ cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or ‘milk’ of your choice)
  • ½ cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 tbsp. dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Stevia to taste (optional)

Preparation
  1. Bring 1 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk to a boil on your stovetop
  2. Add quinoa, chocolate, cinnamon and stevia and stir until milk is fully absorbed (takes about 15 minutes)
  3. Garnish with extra chocolate chips if desired (they will melt anyways but not as thoroughly) and serve with ½ cup cold or warm almond milk as a topper (it will get absorbed by the quinoa fairly quickly so add more if desired).