Monday, July 14, 2014

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad


This salad is yummy.  I know because I ate it for lunch (and dinner) yesterday!  A friend at school made this for a potluck at the end of the school year, and I have made it several times this summer.  It's a great cold summer salad that fits in perfectly at any barbecue or potluck!  I think what I love most about it are the contrasting textures and flavors- the crunchy red onions and cucumber contrast nicely with the creamy chickpeas and feta cheese.  The refreshing and sweet cucumber and tomato pair well with the salty feta and olives.  The Greek dressing brings it all together nicely and gives just enough lemon and oregano flavor without being overpowering. Visit Closet Cooking for the recipe!  



Samoa Bars

I made these bars over the weekend and they were a hit with my friends!  If you are a coconut fan, you will LOVE these rich, dense, date-sweetened, creamy, gooey, coconut-filled bars!  The only added sugar comes from the thin layer of chocolate on top, so you can feel good about eating these treats that have lots of healthy fat and fiber.  I just wouldn't go eating the whole pan... make these to share with your friends so they're not sitting around your house tempting you, because I guarantee they will be calling out your name from the fridge!

I found the original recipe on the fantastic food blog Eat Good 4 Life.  Check it out!  



No Bake Samoa Bars

Slightly adapted from Eat Good 4 Life

Crust
1/2 c dry roasted macadamia nuts
1 1/2 c almond meal
1 c unsweetened, shredded coconut
4 dates
1 T coconut oil (add more if the "dough" seems too dry)


Filling
12 medjool dates (about 1 1/2 cups), soaked in hot water
1/3 c full fat canned coconut milk
1/8 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 c unsweetened, shredded coconut

Topping
1 c enjoy life chocolate chips

1. Heat up about 1 1/2 cups of water in the microwave.  Remove the pits from the 12 dates for the filling and submerge them in the water, letting them soak while you make the crust.
2. In the food processor, process the crust ingredients until well combined.  Add more coconut oil if it doesn't seem to be coming together.  Press firmly into the bottom of an 8x8 in. pan.  Put the pan in the freezer while you make the filling.
3. No need to clean out the food processor here (just scrape the crust out with a spatula the best you can!).  Put the soaked dates in the food processor and process until they form a paste.  Then add in the coconut milk and process until smooth.  Next, add the salt and coconut and process briefly til everything is incorporated together.
4. Take your pan out of the freezer and spread the filling over the crust, creating a smooth layer.  Put the pan back in the freezer for about 15 minutes.
5. After 15 minutes, melt your chocolate chips in the microwave (I melt them on 50% power for 1 min, followed by 30 sec intervals, stirring each time I take them out until they are melted).  Spread the chocolate layer on top of the filling.  

6. Refrigerate the bars for several hours, then use a very sharp knife to cut them into pieces!  I cut mine into 32 small bars, which worked perfectly because these are very rich!  Store in the refrigerator.
 


Sunday, July 13, 2014

"Pasta" Carbonara


Carbonara is a pasta dish made with bacon or ham, egg, and cream.  This version is a veggie-filled take on the traditional pasta carbonara, with several substitutions that make it very nutritious and incredibly delicious.  To be honest, it is actually very reminiscent of fried rice!  I'm pretty sure it's the peas and egg that give it that taste.  Either way, this is a unique dish that would be great served for breakfast, as a non meat-heavy main dish, or as a chicken side dish.  

"Pasta" Carbonara


1/2-3/4 lb. of bacon, cut into small pieces
2 candy onions (very small onions), minced (about 1/2 c onion)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups frozen peas
freshly ground pepper
6 egg yolks (I used yolks because I made biscuits with the whites the day before, but you could use 3-4 whole eggs instead!)
3 large zucchini or squash, spiralized

Cut bacon into small pieces and saute in a large dutch oven or high sided pot.  Once the bacon is crispy, remove the pieces but leave the fat in the pot.  Add the onion, cooking until soft, then add garlic and cook until fragrant. (This dish is very much based on feel- I don't have exact cooking times or temperatures, you just have to go by the look of the ingredients!)  Then add peas and saute until the peas are hot.  Sprinkle a generous amount of pepper on top of the peas.  Pour the egg yolks on top of the peas and stir everything until the egg yolks no longer look wet.  Then add the zucchini/squash noodles, and add the bacon back in as well.  Cook, stirring occassionally, until the "noodles" are soft.  For us, this made about 4 servings!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Green Chocolate Protein Smoothie

Ok here's one more smoothie recipe... I would have to say this is my current favorite.  I crave it every morning!  It is sweet, chocolately, and just delicious. 



Green Chocolate Protein Smoothie


1 frozen banana (I cut ripe bananas in half and freeze them for smoothie making)
2 large handfuls spinach
1 scoop (14 g) chocolate whey protein (I use Tera's Whey)
3/4-1 cup water or nut milk
1 T ground flaxseed meal
2-3 ice cubes

Process in blender until smooth.  Drink up!

Tropical Green Protein Smoothie

Another smoothie for your drinking pleasure!  This one is tropical and very refreshing.  I just can't get enough of smoothies this summer...



Tropical Green Protein Smoothie


1 frozen banana (I cut ripe bananas in half and store them in the freezer for smoothie making)
1/2-1 c frozen mixed tropical fruit (I like mango and pineapple!)
1/2 avocado
1 scoop (14 g) unflavored whey protein (or vanilla whey would be good too!)
2 huge handfuls spinach or kale
3/4-1 c water or nut milk (for a super filling and thick smoothie, you could even use canned coconut milk)
3-4 ice cubes

Place all ingredients in large blender and process until smooth.  This is too much for a magic bullet, so you'll need a full size blender to process all of the ingredients.  Makes 1 large serving.



Saturday, June 21, 2014

Nut Milk and Nut Pulp Recipes! (Homemade Almond Milk + Homemade Brazil Nut Milk + Almond Pulp Freezer Cookies + Brazil Nut Pulp Fudge Balls)

The recipes I'm about to give you require some special equipment... a nut milk bag. These bags are basically very fine mesh strainers, in the form of a bag with a drawstring. They allow you to strain nut milk, chicken stock, and act as a cheesecloth for making your own yogurt.  I use mine mainly for nut milk, and I have been using it a LOT lately.  Since I've been on a smoothie kick, I've also been on a nut milk kick (since it tastes so good in smoothies!)  
Nut milk bags cost between $7-12 on Amazon and are SO worth it if you are interested in making your own nut milk.  In fact, I'm not really sure how to make it without one.  It's a small price to pay for such a valuable piece of kitchen equipment, so I encourage you to buy one!  Just search on amazon for "nut milk bag" and you'll find what you need.  




Homemade Almond Milk


1 c raw almonds
filtered water, to cover the almonds
4 c filtered water

Cover 1 c raw almonds with filtered water in a large glass bowl with a lid and let them soak overnight (really, anywhere from 4-24 hours).  You can let them soak in the fridge or on the counter, at room temperature.  When you're ready to use them, drain the water and rinse the almonds.  Place them in a high powered blender with 4 cups fresh filtered water.  Blend until almonds are pulverized, and then some (about 1-2 minutes).  Next, place the nut milk bag in a bowl with the mouth of the bag open.  Pour the milk into the bag.  The nut pulp will accumulate in the bag and the milk with accumulate in the bowl.  When you're done pouring, (with very clean hands), you will need to squeeze the bag to get the rest of the milk out.  You're squeezing the pulp to extract as much milk as possible.  When you're done squeezing, you'll have yummy almond milk in your bowl and yummy almond pulp in the bag (well, the almond pulp isn't really great by itself, but you can MAKE yummy things with it!).  This makes about 4 cups of almond milk. 

VARIATION: Vanilla Almond Milk
*Add 2 soft, medjool dates, 1/2 tsp vanilla, and a pinch of sea salt to the blender with the almonds and water.  I highly recommend this version!


Homemade Brazil Nut Milk


1 c raw brazil nuts
4 c filtered water

Unlike almonds, brazil nuts do not need to be soaked before using them to make nut milk! Place 1 c brazil nuts in a high powered blender with 4 cups fresh filtered water. Blend until brazil nuts are pulverized, and then some (about 1-2 minutes).  Next, place the nut milk bag in a bowl with the mouth of the bag open.  Pour the milk into the bag.  The nut pulp will accumulate in the bag and the milk with accumulate in the bowl.  When you're done pouring, (with very clean hands), you will need to squeeze the bag to get the rest of the milk out.  You're squeezing the pulp to extract as much milk as possible.  When you're done squeezing, you'll have yummy brazil nut milk in your bowl and yummy brazil nut pulp in the bag (well, the brazil nut pulp isn't really great by itself, but you can MAKE yummy things with it!).  This makes about 4 cups of brazil nut milk

VARIATION: Vanilla Brazil Nut Milk
*Add 2 soft, medjool dates, 1/2 tsp vanilla, and a pinch of sea salt to the blend with the brazil nuts and water.  I highly recommend this version!




Almond Pulp Freezer Cookies

Now, I hate to waste food.  So I like to find recipes to use the pulp leftover from making nut milk.  These cookies are the first thing I ever tried making with nut pulp.  I am always on the lookout for more good recipes, so please post any recipes you have made with nut pulp!  I would love to try them!

1 c (128 g) almond pulp
1/4 c rolled oats
1/4 c coconut oil
1/4 c raw honey
1/4 c raw almond butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 T cinnamon
2 c brown rice puffs OR brown rice crisps

Mix ingredients in a large bowl until well combined.  Roll into balls then flatten slightly. Freeze on cookie sheets until frozen, then transfer to containers to store in freezer.  For me, this made about 32 cookies.

I was in the process of licking the food processor bowl clean...
So good...


Brazil Nut Pulp Fudge Balls

Adapted from Rawtarian

I'm not kidding, this might be my favorite dessert recipe of all time.  I tasted this and a smile literally broke out on my face.  They are DELICIOUS.  

Leftover brazil nut pulp from making brazil nut milk (a little less than 1 c)
1 c cashew meal (I find mine at Trader Joe's; you could also make this by pulverizing cashews in a food processor until they create a fine, powdery meal- it will have more texture than flour)
10 large, soft medjool dates, pitted (about 1 c) (I find mine at COSTCO)
5 heaping T cocoa powder
4 T unsweetened, shredded coconut
pinch sea salt

Process all ingredients in food processor until a huge "mass" forms.  Basically, you will see a large "ball" rolling around in the food processor.  At this point, all ingredients should be well blended.  Roll the mixture into small balls.  Store them in the freezer.  For me, this made about 25 balls.  





Thursday, June 19, 2014

Mujadara


Mujadara is a traditional Middle Eastern rice, lentil, and onion dish.  We've enjoyed it at many local Middle Eastern restaurants and have loved every version we've tried.  It was only a matter of time before we tried making it at home, and I am sure glad we did!  The complex flavors of this dish make it downright addictive, from the sweet caramelized onions to the toasted pinenuts and hints of cinnamon, it is the perfect combination of textures and flavors that makes you want to keep eating more!  

Mujadara


3 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
4-5 T grassfed butter
sprinkling of sea salt
1 1/2 c cooked basmati or long grain white rice
1 1/2 c cooked green or brown lentils
1/4 c pinenuts, toasted in a dry pan on high heat for 5 minutes
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cumin
pepper and salt to taste

1. Caramelize the onions by cooking them in the butter over medium-high heat for about 30 minutes.  Stir occasionally to make sure they don't burn.  You want them to cook down but not get too brown.  Part way through the cooking time, sprinkle them with a bit of salt.  
2. While the onions caramelize, toast your pine nuts by placing them in a small pan, turning the heat to high and toasting for 5 minutes, stirring the pine nuts often to make sure they don't burn.  They should start to brown a little and give off a nutty aroma.  At this point, remove them from the heat.  
3.  Once the onions are caramelized, stir the rice, lentils, pine nuts, cinnamon, cumin, salt and pepper into the onion mixture.  Then enjoy!

Honestly, you can use whatever quantities you want in this dish!  Have 3 cups of leftover white rice?  Throw it all in.  Love the taste of pinenuts?  Use 1/2 c instead of 1/4 c.  The quantities I used happened to work for us- we love the flavor of onions and wanted equal parts lentils and rice.  Don't like onions as much?  Only use 1 or 2.  Just don't leave anything out!  You'll lose some of the great complexity of the dish.