Sesame Kale and Brussels Sprouts Bowl

Heeeeeeey! Sorry I haven’t posted in a while- I keep cooking at night and all of my photos turn out like crap! But, I made this really easy bowl last week, and had enough leftover to snap a photo the following day for you to actually see what this looks like! I made this from ingredients that I had in my fridge, but really liked how it turned out, and hope you’ll enjoy it as well! If I had actually prepared to make this, I would have included some purple cabbage and sesame seeds. So, I’m going to include them in the ingredients for the recipe even though you won’t see it in the photo below. Lastly, I’m going to call this dish gluten free, but the recipe does have soy sauce which contains a scant amount of gluten- so I’ll leave that up to you no-gluten folks to navigate.

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Sesame Kale and Brussels Sprouts Bowl with Chicken and Forbidden Rice

Serves 2-3

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 rotisserie chicken
  • 1/2 cup black forbidden rice
  • 1 bunch lacinato kale, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 lb brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp sunflower seeds (raw or roasted)
  • optional- 1/4 red cabbage thinly sliced
  • For the dressing:
    • 1/2 shallot, finely chopped
    • 2 tsp honey
    • 1 Tbsp tamari soy sauce
    • 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
    • 1/4 cup sesame oil
    • 2 Tbsp grapeseed (or organic canola) oil
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • optional: 2 tsp sesame seeds

Instructions:

  1. Start by cooking the rice. I always cook rice like pasta, I add the rice to a pot and cover it with a lot of water, bring it to a boil, and let simmer until the rice is fully cooked. If this idea stresses you out, just follow the instructions on the package of the black rice. It takes a little less time to cook than brown rice, but at least 30 minutes, so give yourself time. And, don’t forget to generously salt the water!
  2. While the rice is cooking make the dressing and set aside. TIP- save a jam or mustard jar, and when you make dressings, just add all of the ingredients into the jar, give it a good shake, and you’re done- it emulsifies nicely and if you have extra dressing leftover you can just keep it in the jar and use it all week. If you don’t have a jar, use a small bowl and whisk, and start with the honey, soy, vinegar, salt and pepper and shallots, and stream in the two oils as you whisk it all together to emulsify the dressing.
  3. Rotisserie chickens are a staple in my refrigerator. I buy 1 or 2 a week and use them for a variety of things- salads, grain bowls (like this one!), soups, sandwiches, etc. Obviously, roasting your own chicken is ideal, but not always time-efficient, so using a rotisserie chicken when you can is a great substitute. For this recipe I just used half of a chicken and shredded the meat of 1 breast, a thigh, and the leg. If you just want to use white meat, you can use both chicken breasts and save the dark meat for something else- I leave this up to you.
  4. If you can’t find lacinato (or Tuscan) kale, it’s not the end of the world, but when I’m eating raw kale I really prefer lacinato because it’s more tender than curly kale. To clean it, rip the leaves off of the stem, stack the leaves, and roll them into a rough cylinder, and then thinly chop so you have ribbons of kale about the width of tagliatelle pasta. Throw the ribbons of kale into a salad spinner and clean as you would clean lettuce.
  5. To prepare the Brussels sprouts, trim the bottoms and discard the outer leaves. Then you can either thinly slice them with a knife, or if you have a mandolin, you can use that. IMG_2302
  6. In a large mixing bowl, combine the kale, brussels sprouts, thinly sliced celery, shredded chicken, dressing, and some salt and pepper to taste. Mix until everything is combined and set aside until the rice is cooked.
  7. Put the hot rice in a bowl, top it with a heaping portion of the salad, and top with sunflower seeds. Enjoy for lunch or dinner!

Roasted Cauliflower Salad

One of my new(ish) favorite cookbooks is Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi. So, when my friends came over last week for book club, I decided to make a few recipes from the book. I think that playing with new flavor profiles and using different spices is a great way to add variety in your daily meals. Middle Eastern flavors are some of my favorite, but the combination of spices does not come naturally to me because I didn’t grow up eating this cuisine. Even the most seasoned cooks get stuck making the same rotation of dishes because it is what comes naturally to them- it is what they are comfortable making. This is especially common in the winter months when there is not a wide range of fruits and vegetables available to us (locally that is.) So, I think it is especially valuable to use herbs and spices to add variety. The other two main reasons why I (and I think many people) don’t branch out more often is because there are often more steps involved, and I don’t have all of the ingredients readily on hand. Good news is, once you make a couple of new recipes you will have a more fully stocked pantry, and it will be easier for you in the future.

I changed this recipe slightly to take out some extra steps. This will save you some time with prep and with cleanup. So, I hope you enjoy this simple, but new take on cauliflower, and I hope it inspires you to try some new flavors, and experiment more! Also, buy this cookbook! You will LOVE IT! I am going to post another recipe from it soon after I re-test some time saving techniques!

Roasted Cauliflower and Celery Salad

Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem: A Cookbook

Yield: 4 servings (as a side dish) | Prep Time: 10 mins | Cook Time: 25 mins

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 2 celery stalks, thinly sliced on a bias
  • 1/4 Cup celery leaves (tender light green leaves in center of celery stalk)
  • 1/4 Cup parsley leaves
  • 1/3 Cup pomegranate seeds (about 1/2 pomegranate)
  • 2 Tbsp hazelnuts, raw
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 tsp sherry vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cut the cauliflower into florets. Don’t know how? Let Martha show you how it’s done here.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower with the olive oil, salt and pepper, cinnamon and allspice. Spread on a baking sheet (lined with parchment paper for easier cleanup) and place on top rack in the oven. This will give the cauliflower more color and make it more crisp! Roast for 25-30 minutes until cooked through. (Can test with a fork or cake tester.)
  4. Set cauliflower aside and let cool (the salad will be served with the cauliflower at room temp)
  5. Decrease the oven temperature to 325 degrees, spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast for 15 minutes.
  6. I always peel celery with a vegetable peeler because the strings annoy me- but you don’t have to do this. Thinly slice on a bias (angled cut) with your knife, or if you have a mandolin, you can use that too. img_1936
  7. When hazelnuts are done, let cool, and roughly chop.
  8. Pick leaves of parsley and celery leaves. The leaves inside of the stalk of celery are delicious, and most people just throw them away. Start using them more!
  9. Layer all ingredients in a serving bowl, cauliflower on bottom, then celery, pomegranate seeds, (I just buy them pre-seeded because it is WAAAAY too much of a mess to do it from scratch. But, if you want to do it, cut the pomegranate in half, turn it upside-down over a bowl, and smack it with a wooden spoon- here’s a video for that too!) parsley and celery leaves, hazelnuts, and finish with sherry vinegar, a little more good olive oil, some salt and pepper, and done!

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Almond Milk

Almond milk, like granola, is another thing that I never made until recently. I just bought it because I thought that making it was too much of a hassle, and that there were plenty of great brands out there to buy, so why bother? Well, I’ll tell you why you should bother- it’s DELICIOUS!! Homemade almond milk is basically a completely different beverage than store-bought almond milk. Seriously, it tastes completely different! It’s creamy, nutty, rich, flavorful, thick, do I even need to continue? I still buy almond milk to have on hand, and to throw into a recovery smoothie, but I now try to make it at least every other week to have on hand. Like I’ve said, I am not vegan nor am I dairy intolerant, so I don’t use almond milk as much as some, but I’ve been putting it into smoothies, adding it to my oatmeal, and drinking it over ice at night before bed. (It NEVER goes into my coffee though! Sorry folks, thats strictly whole milk and half and half forever and always!)

Here are a few things you should get before you make this recipe. You need a high-powered blender. If you don’t have a Vitamix, I must implore you to save your money and buy one! It is so worth the investment! Seriously, I think it is the most essential kitchen appliance, and is worth every penny! (Side note: the company has a very interesting history, that you can read more about if you are interested here.) Second thing you need is a carafe or glass bottle to store the almond milk in when it is ready. And third, buy a nut milking bag. You CAN use cheesecloth, but it takes longer, can be super messy, and nut milk bags have a finer mesh so you will only have to strain your milk once. You can buy one on Amazon- I bought this one, but there are lots of options.

Almond Milk

Yield: 1 Qt | Prep Time: 5 mins plus 6 hour or overnight soak

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup raw almonds
  • 4 Cups filtered water (plus water to soak almonds- at least 2 cups)
  • 4 Medjool dates (or other good quality variety), pitted
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of sea or kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • optional: freshly grated nutmeg (2-3 grates on a microplane grater)

Instructions:

  1. Cover the almonds with water and soak overnight in the refrigerator, or for at least 6 hours. img_1867
  2. Rinse the almonds in the sink in a strainer under cold water for a couple of seconds and put in blender.
  3. This next part you could do in two different ways. I usually blend the almonds with the water first, strain it, and then add it back into the blender with the flavorings, and blend and strain a second time. But this is more of a hassle, and I honestly don’t think there is any difference in flavor. The consistency is just a little smoother. So, I’ll let you decide which way you want to do it, but here is the easy/time saver method- Add all of the ingredients into your blender at once. Cover tightly with the lid, and blend on high for 1.5-2 minutes depending on the strength of your blender. The result will be a frothy, white liquid with some brown almond flecks in it.71372293-0c17-421b-b296-537d29bf7d09
  4. Put your nut milk bag over a bowl and pour the liquid into the bag. Squeeze out all of the fluid.
  5. I would suggest pouring the liquid from the bowl back into the blender, and at this point you can adjust the flavoring, flavor it if you want to do the 2-part process, or just from there pour it into your bottle or carafe. This will save you from cleaning up a huge mess if you try to pour the liquid from the bowl into a bottle. Trust me!

The milk will be a little warm from the blender- the motor tends to heat it up during the blending- so if you want to drink it right away, maybe add some ice (unless you like warm milk, in which case drink up!) Or, just refrigerate for an hour or so before drinking! Enjoy it! img_1906

*Side note: the milk will separate in the fridge. The additives in store-bought almond milk (normally some sort of lecithin), are mainly used to extend the shelf life and emulsify the milk so it doesn’t separate. Just give it a little shake or swirl, and it will come back together! This lasts in the fridge for about 3-5 days.

**Another side note: you can leave out any of the flavorings and just make it plain. If that’s the case, I would keep the salt though. You can use 1-2 Tbsp of maple syrup if you don’t have dates, or you can leave out the sweetness entirely. Another slight alternative is to make almond/hazelnut milk- soak 1/4 cup of raw hazelnuts (skin can be on) with 3/4 cup of almonds and do everything else the same! Don’t be afraid to experiment!

***Lastly, I forgot to mention this when I published this post- you can save the pulp to make your own almond meal. I’ve never done this, but it’s what most vegan and gluten free bakers tend to do, to diminish waste and save money. An excellent idea that I will definitely write about once I actually do it myself. If you think this interests you, just freeze the pulp and reserch how to use it! Or gay tunes to when I finally try it myself! Ok that’s all for now! 

Basic Granola

Surprisingly, I have never made my own granola before. There are SO many great brands out there these days that I really like (Early Bird made in Brooklyn, NY is my jam!), so I never really had the urge to try it until recently. I had literally all of the ingredients in my pantry, so I decided to give it a try, and I am so happy that I did! So happy in fact, that since last Wednesday I’ve made it 3 times! Here are my top 3 reasons to make your own granola:

  1. You can control exactly how much sugar and fat to put in. And as much as I love other brands, sometimes I wish it wasn’t as sweet, or as coconutty (I know that’s not a real word), or didn’t have walnuts (don’t like them)…the list goes on.
  2. It makes your house/apartment smell AMAZING
  3. You can add anything extra to this recipe and empty out your pantry!
  4. Bonus reason- it makes a fun holiday gift! Put some in a small mason jar and tie a bow around it! Its healthy, yummy, easy, different, more yummy…

I made my granola with shredded coconut, golden raisins, pumpkin seeds, sliced almonds, and sunflower seeds, but you can add any combination of nuts and seeds and dried fruit that you want. Just make sure that they are RAW! If the nuts or seeds are already roasted, they will burn in the oven and your granola will become bitter. You can also play around with the ratio of sweeteners or types of sweeteners that you use. The first time I used more molasses than the second time- I decided I wanted a more mild flavor- but you can switch the ratios around, or use less, or add maple syrup instead of honey or molasses. Basically, you can’t really screw this up UNLESS, you don’t pay attention while its in the oven, and don’t use raw ingredients. So, here is my recipe. Enjoy!

Basic Granola

Yield: 2 Qts | Bake Time: 45 mins | Oven Temp: 300 degrees

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups rolled oats (Gluten Free if you have a gluten sensitivity)
  • 1/2 Cup shredded coconut, UNSWEETENED
  • 1/2 Cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 Cup sunflower seeds, raw
  • 1/3 Cup sliced almonds, raw
  • 1/3 Cup pumpkin seeds, raw
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 Cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 Cup honey
  • 2 Tbsp blackstrap molasses
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl (everything up to the coconut oil) and toss them together with your hands. img_1722-1
  3. In a microwave safe bowl, combine the coconut oil, honey and molasses, and heat in microwave until the coconut oil has melted- do it in 15 second increments. If you don’t have a microwave, you can do this in a small saucepan on the stove- just be very careful that it doesn’t burn. You really are just melting the coconut oil and making the honey and molasses less sticky and easier to mix with the dry ingredients.
  4. Add the vanilla to the oil and honey mixture once it is out of the microwave, stir, and pour into the oat mixture.
  5. Mix with a spatula until all of the oats are coated.
  6. Spread out onto the lined baking sheet, and place in the center of your oven in the middle rack.
  7. Here is the most important step- STIR granola with spatula every 15-20 minutes. This is super important so the edges don’t burn. You don’t have to go crazy with this, just push the edges towards the middle with your spatula, and the middle towards the edges, and pop right back into the oven.
  8. You will know that it is done by the change in color, the raisins will puff up to the size of grapes, and the smell! Don’t neglect your sense of smell to tell you when something is ready to come out of the oven! Try to pay attention to that! Here’s a before and after shot of the granola:img_1734
  9. When it comes out, mix it one last time and let cool before putting it into a jar. It will last probably up to two weeks in a sealed container- but I’m sure you will eat it all way before then! Hence, why I’ve made it 3 times in less than a week… I have issues!

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Gluten Free Banana Muffins

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I LOVE GLUTEN! Seriously, a life without bread, pasta and cookies (made with wheat flour!) would be a very sad one for me. But, my sister is both gluten and dairy-intolerant, so I want to learn and explore gluten-free baking a bit more. Side note: Making something gluten-free doesn’t suddenly make it healthy! I see this misunderstanding a lot, so I just want to put that out there! I have a lot of thoughts on this topic, but I’ll save it for another time- this is about banana bread (muffins)!

Banana bread is delicious, easy to make, and you most likely have all of the ingredients in your pantry and fridge already. Traditional banana bread however, is not the most healthy option. It generally contains a lot of fat and sugar, that I’ve found is not necessary for it to taste delicious! So, I took this gluten-free challenge as a way to bake with whole grains, unrefined sugars and healthy fats (a little butter never hurt anyone) and turn traditional banana bread into a great pre-workout snack or something you could bring on a bike ride for mid-ride fuel.

I adapted this recipe from a few different ones that I found, and decided to use rolled oats, almond flour and millet flour for the dry ingredients. This is not a vegan recipe, so I used eggs, a little butter (my sister can tolerate butter, just not other dairy…who knows!?) and coconut oil for the fats. I used organic cane sugar and maple syrup as the sweet components, along with the bananas of course! And added coconut for flavor and texture along with golden raisins. Here are some of the ingredients/brands that I used:

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The first time I tried this recipe, I made it as a loaf, and it was a little too crumbly. I adjusted a few things, so I think this recipe would work as a loaf too, but I like the muffins because they are easy to carry with you as a grab-and-go snack or like I mentioned before, to put in your jersey pocket for a bike ride. Also, its built-in portion control!

Gluten Free Banana Muffins

Yield: 24 muffins | Bake Time: 20-25 mins | Oven Temp: 350 degrees

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup organic dark brown cane sugar, packed down
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg (grind fresh if possible)
  • 1 1/4 cups almond flour
  • 1 1/4 cups millet flour
  • 1 1/4 cups gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. I use a convection oven on convection bake, so if you are using a standard oven, your bake time might be slightly longer.
  2. Spray muffin tin with non-stick spray. I didn’t use muffin liners, because I think they’re annoying, and not necessary if you grease the tin well, but you can use them if you’d like!  (My muffin tins make 12 muffins each, so you can use 2 tins or make this in two batches.)
  3. Mash bananas with a fork- should be chunky so you have big pieces in the muffins. Melt the butter and coconut oil on stove top or in a microwave. Do not let it simmer! Coconut oil has a low smoke point and will burn very quickly! Set aside and let cool.
  4. Add butter and coconut oil to bananas along with all of the other wet ingredients- everything through the almond milk. Stir with whisk.
  5. Add all remaining ingredients, and stir until combined.
  6. Use and ice cream scooper or 1/4 cup measuring cup to pour mixture into muffin tins. This guarantees even sizing and keeps the edges of the tin much neater.
  7. Place the tins on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes until the tops are golden brown.
  8. Cool on baking rack, and enjoy!

**If you want to make a loaf- banana bread instead of muffins- this amount will fill one standard 9x5in loaf pan. Adjust cooking time to 45-50mins.

***Also, this is not a vegan recipe, but you could make it vegan by replacing the egg with flax egg, and using all coconut oil instead of butter.

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White Root Vegetable Soup

Ok, here we go…blog post #1! I thought I would share the recipe for the white root vegetable soup that I posted to Instagram last week. If you live in the North East of the United States, you may be starting to get sick of butternut squash, acorn squash, pumpkins, pumpkin spice lattes, shall I continue? But it is a long fall/winter, so you have to find new and exciting ways to eat your root vegetables!

img_8623I love this soup because the white root vegetables are often the forgotten ones. What are these you might ask? Well, potatoes are one, parsnips, celery root, turnips, and sunchokes (or Jerusalem artichokes). These vegetables are the base of my soup, but you don’t have to use all of these- pick 2 or even 1 if you don’t want to lug huge, heavy bags home from the farmer’s market. Also, I love making my own stock, and really believe it adds a depth of flavor and warmth to all soups, but if you don’t have time, this soup is just fine with store-bought organic chicken (or vegetable) stock.

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White Root Vegetable Soup

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 leeks (white parts only)
  • 1/2 bulb fennel
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 3 medium parsnips
  • 2 medium celery root bulbs (1 large)
  • 1 small turnip
  • 4 Jerusalem artichokes (about 1/2 lb)
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar to finish

Instructions:

  1. Sautee onions, garlic and leeks in olive oil until soft.
  2. Add celery and fennel and cook for another couple of minutes.
  3. Peel and medium dice all remaining vegetables and add to pot.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Add stock, bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer and cover.
  6. Cook until all vegetables are tender- about 30-40 minutes.
  7. Blend in batches in blender (Vitamix is the best!) until smooth.
  8. Return to pot, season with salt and pepper. Add apple cider vinegar and serve.