Saturday, August 22, 2009

Raw Food Lesson

It's been the perfect weather for making raw food lately. If it stayed hot and humid with temperatures in the 80s year-round, I could probably be 100% raw. For now, I'll just experiment with recipes and share them with those who would like some delicious and healthy treats.

This week we made a green soup with cucumbers and avocado. Very cooling and refreshing. The mandolin came in handy for slicing extra thin slices of cucumber which we then marinated in lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt and fresh dill. Just like pickles, only without the bite of vinegar.

This was followed by a lovely composed salad of romaine lettuce, avocado and beefsteak tomato slices topped with a teeny drizzle of olive oil, sea salt and fresh basil. At the center of the plate was a savory olive and walnut pate.

For dessert, we restrained ourselves to just a few bites of a freeform blueberry tartlet with cashew cream and almond coconut crust. The rich sweetness was balanced by the slight tang of orange juice and orange zest. A perfect way to end this decadent meal!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Red Pepper Stuffed with Sundried Tomato and Cashew Romesco (RAW)

I saw this recipe for Sundried Tomato and Cashew Romesco in Matthew Kenney and Sarma Melngailis' gorgeous Raw Food/Real World book and wanted to give it a try. It's a savory nut pate that can be served with veggies or crackers. The main seasoning is za'atar - kinda Mediterrannean, kinda Middle Eastern, with dried basil, oregano, thyme and sumac. I was thinking it might be a nice filling for stuffed peppers.

Since I need to eat more greens, I decided to top it with a big pile of arugula sprouts tossed in a simple Dijon vinaigrette. The slightly spicy dressing and bitter bite of the sprouts were the perfect contrast to the savory flavor of the filling and the sweet red pepper. To complete the light lunch, I served a simple slaw of shredded cabbage, carrot and red pepper on the side. More crunchy goodness!

The result: rich depth of flavor with gorgeous color contrasts. This one is definitely a keeper.

Red Pepper Stuffed with Sundried Tomato and Cashew Romesco, Sprouts and Dijon Vinaigrette
(serves 2-4)

2 red peppers, cut in half

1 Tbls olive oil

sea salt

1 cup sundried tomatoes

1 cup raw cashews, soaked, drained and rinsed

zest of 1 orange
(about 1 Tbl)
juice of 1 orange
(about 1/4 cup)
2-3 Tbl olive oil

¼ cup lemon juice

2 Tbl miso

2 tsp za’atar spice (1/2 tsp dried basil, ½ tsp dried oregano, ½ tsp dried thyme, ½ tsp sumac)

1 tsp sea salt

fresh black pepper

1 handful of fresh sprouts

1 Tbl olive oil

1 Tbl Dijon mustard
1 tsp agave syrup

pinch of sea salt

Cut and seed red peppers. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt, then set aside. Place all remaining ingredients in food processor and pulse until well combined. Add water if necessary to achieve thick, spreadable paste. Spoon ¼ of the mixture into each pepper half, then prepare sprouts. In a bowl, whisk together olive oil, mustard and sea salt. Toss sprouts in dressing, then place on top of stuffed pepper.

Stone Fruit Soup (RAW)

The other day I wanted to do something a little different with my baked tofu. I was planning to serve it with basmati rice and sauteed dinosaur kale, which would've been perfectly fine, but I decided it needed a sauce. Scanning my local independent grocer's produce shelves, I discovered some lovely Ranier Cherries.

(photo by InspirationDC)

Luscious, sweet and fresh, they glowed like a beacon, just calling out to be eaten. Their beautiful yellow skin with pink blush reminded me of peaches, which made me think the perfect accompaniment would be some fresh local peaches, which also happen to be in season.

I decided to combine the two along with some orange juice, cinnamon and mint, to cook down into a compote. Perfection!

The next day I had a raw food lesson with a client who, coincidentally, had asked me if I could come up with a recipe using peaches. I thought to myself, "I wonder if I can use these same ingredients and make a cool summer soup?" With a little tweaking and the addition of some sweet young Thai coconut meat and water for the base, I had the most refreshing summer soup I've ever tasted.

Stone Fruit Soup (serves 2-4)

1 cup Ranier cherries, pitted
3 fresh peaches, pitted and cut into chunks
meat of 1 young Tha coconut, plus about 1/2 cup of coconut water
juice of 1 orange (about 1/4 cup)
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of sea salt
1 Tbl fresh mint, chopped fine

Reserve several cherries, cut in half for garnish. In a high-speed blender, puree cherries, peaches, coconut meat, coconut water and orange juice until smooth. Add cinnamon, sea salt and fresh mint and blend briefly, just to combine. Garnish with cherry halves and fresh mint.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Picnic in Niantic

I catered a party this weekend at a lovely summer home in Niantic. The picture perfect setting was complimented by sunshine, fresh air, fresh flowers, and an array of vegan goodies.

The main course was a ciabatta roll stuffed with mock chicken salad and garnished with happy Black-Eyed Susans, Butterfly Bush and hosta leaves from my garden. This is one of my favorite salads to make because it tastes delicious and you'd never know it's vegan.

The rest of the menu included hors d'oeuvres of Eggless Egg Salad in Endive Leaves, Cherry Tomatoes Piped with Avocado Cream, Nasturtium Leaf Canolis with Macadamia Nut "Cheese"(RAW), Olive Tapenade on Crostini, Curried Chick Pea and Quinoa Pilaf, and a Fruit Tart with Date Nut Crust (RAW).

(Eggless Egg Salad in Endive Leaves;
Cherry Tomatoes with Avocado Cream; Dill Blossoms)

(Nasturtium Cannolis with Macadamia "Cheese";
Olive Tapenade on Crostini)

(Raw Fruit Tart with Date Nut Crust)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Meatless Mondays at the White House?

(source: NY Times)
This spring, First Lady Michelle Obama planted the first organic veggie garden at the White House since the days of Eleanor Roosevelt's Victory Garden. Nearly 60 varieties of plants have been incorporated into the 1,100 square foot plot, and food has already been harvested by local schools and community groups.

“I wanted to be able to bring what I learned to a broader base of people," Mrs. Obama said. "And what better way to do it than to plant a vegetable garden in the South Lawn of the White House?”

(source: NY Times)

The Obamas will feed their love of Mexican food with cilantro, tomatillos and hot peppers. Lettuces include red romaine, green oak leaf, butterhead, red leaf and galactic. There's also spinach, chard, collards and black kale. For dessert, a patch of berries has been planted. And herbs will include some more unusual varieties, like anise hyssop and Thai basil.

Now. . . with all that produce available for the First Family and the White House kitchen, it would only seem logical to make eating veggies a regular part of the White House menu. Mrs. Obama advises that “by eliminating processed food, trying to cook a meal a little more often, trying to incorporate more fruits and vegetables,” one can live more healthfully. I couldn't agree more!

But may I also suggest, Meatless Mondays? I'd be happy to help with the menu. How about a raw vegan spread of Sunflower Seed Pate in Romaine Lettuce Leaf Tacos, Mexican Mole, and Strawberry Salsa with Cilantro Vinaigrette.

Join the movement, and spread the word. And let the First Family know you'd like to see Meatless Mondays on the Menu at The White House by submitting your comment here.

This week's menu

It's been a tough week for veggies. My mind is on healthy Italian staples like ratatouille, tomatoes & basil, but the garden just hasn't been cooperating. I did manage to pick a huge bunch of stringbeans, however, which happily made their appearance in a coconut curry earlier in the week.

My clients received a little taste of the season with some oven-roasted summer squash and baked stuffed zucchini. Meanwhile, I'll keep dreaming of tomatoes... some day...

  • Moroccan Curried Chick Pea and Quinoa Pilaf with Oven-roasted Summer Squash and Fresh Basil
  • Rice and Bean Stuffed Baked Zucchini with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
  • Indonesian Peanut Sauce on Rice Noodles with Tempeh and Broccoli

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Vegan Cooking Lesson

I had a request for a cooking lesson from a recent CHIP (Coronary Health Improvement Project) graduate. The lesson was a graduation gift from friends for her completion of the 26-hour educational program which addresses lifestyle factors that contribute to heart disease. Because CHIP recommends following a plant-based diet, she was ready to start cooking. And I was happy to help make it easy and delicious!

We started the meal with a "Sea"sar Salad made with Romaine Lettuce, Pear, Avocado and a Tahini Dulse Dressing. Creamy and crisp, savory and sweet, the textures complemented each other as well as the flavors.

Since my student is a fan of Indian food (as am I!), our entree was a dairy-free take on the traditional Saag Paneer made with Tofu instead of cheese, accompanied by a Curried Chickpea and Quinoa Pilaf. This high-protein, low-fat meal was quite filling.

For dessert, we enjoyed a luscious Red, White and Blue Tapioca Parfait made with sweet and plump strawberries and blueberries.

I am happy to have participated in this journey to healthy eating!