ACORN SQUASH & BRUSSELS SPROUT SALAD

I got my first stalk of Brussels Sprouts and couldn’t wait to get it home and start experimenting. I ‘m one of those strange individuals who actually really likes these healthy little sprouts. I think they got a bad name from being horribly over-cooked. The key is that they MUST be crisp.

This is a tasty, satisfying salad that can be served either warm or at room temp.

 

2 cups steamed and cubed Acorn or Butternut squash

2 cups of brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved

1 cup pecan nuts

1/2 cup good olive oil

1/4 cup of sweet aged Balsamic vinegar

Sea salt and pepper

Goat or sheep’s cheese (optional).

Steam the sprouts for just a few minutes (about 4) until they are still crisp but tender enough to be able to slide a sharp knife into one of them. Shock them under cold or iced water to retain the crispness and color.

Dry-roast your pecan nuts over a hot cast iron skillet for about 2 minutes on either side.

Mix up your dressing.

Finally, combine all the ingredients in a pretty bowl and dress lightly. You can crumble a little sharp sheep or goat cheese over the top to make this into a hearty lunch or supper.

CHOCOLATE COCONUT COOKIES

 

2 cups almond flour

1/4 unsweetened shredded coconut

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 cup + 1tbsp raw coconut oil

3 tbsp runny honey

1/4 cup of goji berries or raisins

1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add the coconut oil and honey and combine well. Finally mix in the berries or raisins and chocolate chips.

Bake in the center of the oven for 10-12 minutes (check them after 10 minutes because I’ve found that almond meal can very suddenly burn!).

They will keep for up to 5 days in a sealed container.

CHOCOLATE COCONUT COOKIES

I’m just obsessed with almond meal (AKA almond flour). It’s so perfect for baking with because it’s gluten-free and makes cakes and cookies very light and buttery. These are my very favorite cookies in the world. I added goji berries because they are such an amazing superfood. I buy them from the bulk bins at Wholefoods. If you can’t get hold of them, you can substitute with raisins.

These take literally 10 minutes tops to make, and they are a seriously

 

2 cups almond flour

1/4 unsweetened shredded coconut

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 cup + 1tbsp raw coconut oil

3 tbsp runny honey

1/4 cup of goji berries or raisins

1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add the coconut oil and honey and combine well. Finally mix in the berries or raisins and chocolate chips.

Bake in the center of the oven for 10-12 minutes (check them after 10 minutes because I’ve found that almond meal can very suddenly burn!).

They will keep for up to 5 days in a sealed container.

 

 

CHICKPEA, DANDELION & APPLE SALAD

Now that apples are coming into season, I love to use them in salads whenever possible. I also love using dandelion seeds because they are great for cleansing your liver, and who doesn’t need a bit of a liver cleanse every now and again? Dandelion leaves, however, can be a bit bitter, so I like to saute them and then pair them with the sweetness of a crisp apple. This salad takes a few minutes to throw together and makes a perfect fall lunch or dinner appetizer.

1 can organic garbanzo beans*

2tbsp coconut or canola oil

1 large clove garlic, minced

1/4tsp red pepper chili flakes

2 cups dandelion leaves, washed and removed from stems

2 medium crisp apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped.

Balsamic vinegar (make sure it’s aged vinegar, as in the thick, syrupy stuff).

Sea salt and pepper

* I love Eden Foods ¬†for canned beans because their quality is excellent and they are one of the few companies that don’t use BPA in the linings of their cans.

 

Rinse and drain the garbanzo beans

Heat the oil in a large skillet

Add the garlic, chili flakes and leaves. Saute over a medium heat until the leaves have really wilted. Remove from heat.

Arrange the garbanzo beans on a dish and top with the wilted greens. Pile the apple pieces on top and drizzle with a little fruity balsamic vinegar.

Season with flaky sea salt and pepper.

YUMMY GLUTEN-FREE BREAD

I’ve tried a lot of different gluten-free baking mixes and I’m not always thrilled with the results in terms of taste and texture. I’m really fussy about my bread, and given that I do like a slice toasted almost every morning (with coconut spread and almond butter,) I’m on an almost constant mission to find the perfect mix. So, when I got send a box of Arnel’s Buckwheat Bread mix, I was extremely eager to give it a whirl.

Needless to say, it’s great! I wouldn’t bother to review it if it wasn’t. Not only does it make a soft, malty/nutty tasting loaf, but it’s soooooooo easy to make. You don’t need a bread machine and you only have to let it rise for about 1 hour.

It does help if you have a stand mixer because you can just throw in all the ingredients in the order listed on the packet instructions, and you’re good to go.

If you are sensitive to gluten, or if you’re a celiac, this will be a very happy find for you!

Apricot & Almond Crunch

Serves 6

6-8 apricots

1/3 cup Elderflower cordial (or fresh orange juice)

1cup almond meal

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

1/2 cup light brown sugar + 2tbsp for topping

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup sliced almonds

 

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F

De-stone apricots and roughly slice them. Place them in a baking dish (greased generously with butter).

Pulse the topping ingredients in a food processor.

Top the apricots with the almond meal mixture.

Sprinkle the sliced almonds and the extra sugar on top.

Place in the oven for 1/2 hour or until lightly browned on top.

Apricot & Almond Crunch

I can’t get enough of apricots! But, here’s the thing: I like them cooked unless they are at peak ripeness. Cooking (grilling, baking, frying) apricots brings out that deep, unique flavor. I’ve used a lighter topping that a traditional crisp, because I wanted this summer dessert to be lighter, but still have a crunch. It took me 10 minutes to put together – so a very easy dessert.

Serves 6

6-8 apricots

1/3 cup Elderflower cordial (or fresh orange juice)

1cup almond meal

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

1/2 cup light brown sugar + 2tbsp for topping

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup sliced almonds

 

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F

De-stone apricots and roughly slice them. Place them in a baking dish (greased generously with butter).

Pulse the topping ingredients in a food processor.

Top the apricots with the almond meal mixture.

Sprinkle the sliced almonds and the extra sugar on top.

Place in the oven for 1/2 hour or until lightly browned on top.

BEET CARPACCIO

This is my new favorite appetizer for when I’m trying to be super-healthy. You can use any kind of beet and actually this dish looks stunning if you use different colored beets, especially a golden and a red. I made this one from the Candy Stripe beets that I can only find in my farmer’s market in the Summer.

You do need a Mandolin. I purchased one of these scary slicing devices a couple of years ago and use it much more than I thought I would. However, every time my husband sees me whipping it out, he gets afraid – I did slice of the tip of my finger not so long ago!!! So, be warned, use one of those prong things to hold the food you are slicing. The great thing about beets is that they have a big thick stalk, which can kind of act as a handle.

Set your mandolin to it’s thinnest setting and slice away at your beet. You need the slices to be paper-thin.

Drizzle with walnut oil, and then top with a generous squeeze of fresh lemon, a pinch of smoked paprika and a flakey sea salt.

I also toasted a handful of walnuts, crushed them and sprinkled on top (optional).

If you can’t find walnut oil, go with a good olive oil

THE PERFECT TOMATO SANDWICH

I went out for lunch yesterday with my husband, and we paid about fifteen bucks apiece for a very mediocre/unsatisfying salad. So, this morning, I took off to the farmer’s market in search of the perfect tomato for a good old-fashioned tomato sandwich.

My husband comes from Georgia, where his father has an amazingly abundant garden – tomatoes being his speciality. As a result, my hubby was raised eating tomatoes every which way, and he believe that when you have a perfect tomato, there is no better way to eat it than in a sandwich, BUT the sandwich has to be simple and unadulterated with fancy ingredients such as Buffalo Mozzarella.

It’s all about the tomato and the bread. I happened to have a loaf of sliced Sourdough Bread (from the farmer’s market last week), so was fine in that department, plus I have a huge planter of basil which is crying out to be picked. However, the tomato?? I wandered through the market looking at all kinds of expensive heirloom varieties that I knew my husband would turn his nose up at, and then I found it – a deep red (almost scarlet) perfectly round, just-soft-to-the-touch, fruit. I knew it was the one. Although not “organic”, the farmer promised me that he never used pesticides, so I took his word. It cost me one buck.

Lunchtime rolled around and I lightly toasted the bread. Then I smeared a generous amount of Spectrum Organic Mayo on both slices (don’t skimp on the mayo). I sliced the still-warm tomato (never put it in the fridge because it will lose its flavor). I laid the slices on the toast, topped with a few large basil leaves, flakey sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

My husband agreed that it was the best lunch we’ve eaten all summer. We bit in, and the sweet juice ran down our chins. He was reminded of sitting at his mom’s kitchen counter after jumping through the sprinkler on a hair-dryer-hot day. The lunch probably cost about 50c each and there wasn’t a restaurant in Los Angeles that could have delivered a more perfect sandwich!

WILDWOOD

I think Wildwood does the best ever meat substitutes. If you are a taco lover, you will LOVE the Wildwood Tofu Taco Crumbles, which are a brilliant ground beef/turkey substitute. I prepared some for “Taco Night” last week, and also prepared some ground turkey for my daughter who said she didn’t want tofu – however who ate all the crumbles?? Aside from being delicious, they’re also fuss-free because all you have to do is warm them up. I tossed the leftovers into a salad the following day with a homemade Ranch dressing – YUM!