Smoked Salmon, Tomato and Bermuda Onion Salad

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Instead of chopping salads and tossing in a bowl, consider layering a few simple, main ingredients. Here nitrate-free smoked salmon is rolled and tucked into the layers of thick cut tomato and red onion. You might have to put that store-bought tomato in the sun for a solid week, to get some real tomato flavor, but buy ahead and don’t be tempted to refrigerate it into mealiness.

Salad of Layers of Smoked Salmon, Heirloom Tomato and Bermuda Onion

Dotting the presentation with briny capers and bright-flavored flat, Italian parsley tickles the eye even further. Drizzle with a simple fresh lemon juice, olive oil and Dijon mustard dressing. Finish with a dusting of ground fennel for extra flavor and as a digestive aid.

A Freelancer’s Lunch

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Those with office jobs or regular gigs all too often think freelancers are loafing at home, when we’re actually hard at work, though there are a few differences in our daily routines, to be sure. We race to our computers with a cup of morning caffeine and our office counterparts tout a cup-o-joe that’s probably cost them $4 and then crawl their way to work in their vehicles. Sure freelancers often don’t hit the shower until 3pm or 30 minutes before our first outside meeting, whichever comes first, but don’t let our bunny slippers convince we’re not as hard at it as gals in their pencil thin skirts and sensible pumps.

Now that I’ve defended freelancers’ work ethic, lets talk about the lunch time advantages! We break up the day by having lunch out once in a while, but for the most part, we eat when we are hungry and make it from home. It’s best of we can prepare something quickly so we can race back to work, but it can still be fabulous. Last Tuesday, I took a bowl of clams I soaking in water overnight and made a scrumptious noodle dish, you can concoct, too. I even tossed in leftover caramelized boc choy from last night’s supper.

Use this ingredient list strictly as inspiration, because when it comes to a noodle dish and fresh clams, it’s pretty hard to go wrong. The most important thing to remember is to get he broth going long before adding the clams to the pot, so those clams stay tender. Just cook ‘em until the shell pops and not a minute longer!

1 T coconut oil
2 cloves garlic
1/2″ fresh ginger root
1 whole leaf lemongrass
1 stalk celery
1 T coconut oil
8 oz clam brine
3 oz white wine
3 scallions
3 oz dry rice noodles
1 over-ripe tomato
2 baby boo choy heads
10 pink peppercorns
1 t dulse or kelp flakes
salt and pepper to taste
2 T hemp seeds

Freelancer's Clam 'n Noodle Lunch

Melt the coconut oil in a large saucepan set on medium-high. Toss in the garlic cloves, halved. Mince the ginger and add it. Slice the celery on the bias into 1/4″ slices and add to the pot to sauté for 3 minutes, stirring often. Add the briny water in which the clams have been soaking, lemongrass, pink peppercorns, salt and pepper and the dry noodles and push the heat to high until it boils. Toss the noodle around and remove them when they are almost tender enough to eat.

Chop the tomato. scallions, dulse or kelp and any left over cooked veggies on hand. Add the wine and stir. Add the clams and cover with a lid. In 3 minutes with the pot boiling, remove the lid add the noodles back in and wait for the clam shells to pop open. Remove one by one as they do. Pour the contents of the pot over the clams once the noodles are reheated through and soft. Garnish with hemp seeds for a great dash of amino acids and omega 3 fatty acids!

Note: Food continues to cook even after its removed from the heat, so pull it off the heat and out of a hot pot just a little before its perfectly done.

Popcorn Cauliflower

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Hmm, you say you don’t like cauliflower or your family won’t eat it? Well, I trick my party guests and even kids into eating my Popcorn Cauliflower every time!

The cauliflower of yesteryear was over-cooked, which much like broccoli, releases a stinky sulphur odor. Batter dip and roast instead of boiling, and I’m betting you’ll love it, too. I make it for parties because it can be done ahead and reheated easily and frankly, I just get a little thrill out of people freaking when they realize they just ate cauliflower and loved it. I will say the chili-mayo dipping sauce is strictly for kids though. Its also very inexpensive, compared to other party foods like cheese and boxed crackers, which areladen with fat. (I’ll save my calories for a marguerite, if you don’t mind!)

I use dosa flour in mine, because I’m off wheat entirely and it’s made from lentils, which are ultra-high in protein. This recipe is easy-peasy. You might even get the kids in on this one. It’s easier than pancakes and much better for them.

Popcorn Cauliflower is great for parties!


Popcorn Cauliflower

½ T butter
1 large head cauliflower
2 eggs
1/2 T butter
1 head cauliflower
2 eggs
¼ cup flour
2 T dulse or flaked kelp
½ T sesame oil
1 t Dijon mustard
¼ t sea salt
¼ t black pepper
¼ t chili powder
¼ cup water (as needed)

Chili May Dipping Sauce:

½ cup canola mayonnaise
¼ finely chopped marinated green olives
2 T lemon juice
1 T horseradish
½ t chili powder

Preheat the oven to 375º.

Mix all the ingredients for the dipping sauce in a small bowl and place in the refrigerator to chill.

Using your fingers, snap off individual cauliflower florets or cut them off with the tip of a sharp knife from the core. Slice any of the florets in half that are 2” round or larger.

Place a buttered, glass, baking dish or cookie sheet in the oven to heat that will fit all the cauliflower in a single layer and allow for space in between the florets.

Beat the two eggs together with a fork, in a large, deep bowl. Add the remainder of the ingredients with only as much water needed to form a thick batter that will not quite pour.

Toss the cauliflower florets into the mixture and coat evenly. Then spread the battered cauliflower out on the hot baking dish, leaving space between each floret. Bake for 20 minutes or until the bottoms are crusty.

Using a thin metal spatula to preserve the coating, turn the cauliflower and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until crisp and lightly browned all over. Serve hot with the chilled chili mayo.

 

 

 

 

Cucumber Coconut Manna Hors’d Oeuvres

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Cucumber Coconut Manna Canapés

Organic, Persian or Kirby cucumbers
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup  coconut manna
1 t dulse (optional)
½ t coarse salt
½ t pepper
¼ cup hemp seeds
1/2 oz red coconut oil

Choose cucumbers at the market according to best freshness and price.

Wash and cut chilled cucumbers on an extreme bias into thick, ½” oval shapes. Do not peel.

Heat coconut manna until liquefied. In a deep bowl, mix salt, pepper and dulse into yogurt to evenly blend. Pour in coconut manna and mix quickly and vigorously until it stiffens into a stiff cream, which takes only moments.

Pile 1/2 teaspoon of the mixture on to each cucumber slice. Sprinkle with hemp seeds and garnish with coarse salt and 1-2 drops red coconut oil. Serve immediately.

Nothing makes me happier than showing people superfoods are delicious and Nutiva certainly makes them. This recipe features 3 of their sensational products: coconut manna, hemp seeds, and their new responsibly harvested red palm oil! Party goers at Nutiva’s party during the Natural Product Expo gobbled up over 700 of these delicious, nutritious finger foods! Yum!

 

 

Bodacious Albacore Bisque

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Look out people!  This soup is Bodacious!! By that I mean not for the faint of heart. Hardy, yummy, meal-in-a-bowl soup. I made a huge stockpot full last week and have been rationing it out to friends and neighbors all week. It’s also a great recipe to make hours in advance of entertaining and then just letting guests ladle out a bowl for themselves at their leisure.

My goal was to make a thick seafood soup without roux, the classic french soup thickener that’s in pretty much every chowder you’ve ever had. Roux starts with butter and white flour and I thought, eh– why go there? Other than texture, what’s the advantage? There’s no real nutrition with processed, bleached wheat flour,  and butter–well, it’s not on the top of my list as a superfood either. As a tantric yogini, I want more energy, more life force from everything I ingest and roux just didn’t make the cut!

So after literally a few years of contemplation and the great inspiration of my pal, Joel, who went fishing way south in in the deep seas west of Mexico, I bring you Albacore Bisque. One secret to this recipe is the absolutely fabulous 2  1/2 lb. of line-caught albacore from Joel. The other secrets are more subtle, as follows…

To achieve the smooth cream-like soup without using dairy either, I implemented a bit of knowledge I learned from web-cohort, Heather Van Vorous site, HelpforIBS.com. The site makes clear the distinction between two kinds of fiber: soluble and insoluble. The latter is all the fibrous ruffuge one thinks of as high fiber, as in kale, celery and most vegetables that still require a lot of chomping even after cooking to break down the stringiness. The former is what we love about vegetables that turn to silky mush when cooked, such as yams, potatoes, turnips, carrots, etc. (By the way, if you have irritable bowel syndrome, you want lots of soluble (mush) fiber and insoluble fiber only when it’s been well softened by cooking. This management of fiber appeases the overly-active peristalsis that’s symptomatic of IBS patients.)

So what other smooth, silky things could I add? I added  a full cup of one of my fav superfoods kudzu root powder and 20 oz. of tofu. Those along my top notch, soluble fiber vegies (white potatoes, a few carrots, a parsnip and a turnip and a huge celery root)  lots of slow cooking and pureeing, and finally the most amazing bisque.

If tuna isn’t at a good price, I recommend trying mahi mahi, swordfish, cod, tilapia, sole, or thresher shark. Enjoy all those omega fish oils, and as always, live long and prosper, my dear cooks!

Creamy Albacore Bisque

(wheat and dairy-free!)

2 1/2 lb albacore tuna

2 T coconut oil

2 medium onions

5 medium thin-skinned potatoes

1 turnip

1 celery root

1 parsnip

2” inches fresh ginger root

1 quarts vegetable stock

2 quarts fish stock

1 cup water

1 cup powdered kudzu root

20 oz tofu

3 T sea salt

1 t finely ground black pepper

1 t ground cardamom

1 T dry mustard

2 cups sliced celery

1 cup chopped carrot

Peel and chop 2 onions and sauté them in the bottom of a large stockpot on medium high with 2 T coconut oil and 1 t salt until golden brown. Add the stock, the whole potatoes, turnip, celery root and parsnip. Coarse chop the ginger and add to the pot, bringing it to a boil for 25 minutes.

Turn off the heat and use tongs to remove all the whole vegetables to bowl and  rub them with a clean dishcloth to quickly peel them when they are cool enough to touch. Break them up a bit and return them to the pot. Puree the soup that has now cooled a bit with an immersable hand blender or in batches in a regular blender.

Measure 1 cup of kudzu powder into a measuring cup and fill with one cup of water. Mix thoroughly and add to the soup with the tofu, remainder of the sea salt, finely ground black pepper, dry mustard and ground cardamom. Remove the seeds and membranes from the red bell peppers, slice and add to the soup to cook for an additional 25 minutes. Puree the soup again to incorporate the peppers.

Slice 4-5 celery stalks and leaves to equal 2 cups of ¼” celery slices. Chop 2 carrots into ½” pieces.  Add to the smooth and thickened soup to gently cook for 20 minutes.

Tear the albacore tuna into 1” pieces, anticipating that they will naturally break up in the soup. Continuing to simmer the bisque, add the tuna at least 10 minutes before serving.

Fresh Corn Relish! Perfect BBQ salad

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Fresh Corn Salsa

3 ears corn

3 large leeks

2 blood oranges

3 T. rice vinegar (preferred) or white vinegar

1 t. raw sugar or unprocessed honey

3 sprigs fresh mint – minced.

2 scallions chopped

salt and fresh coarse-ground black pepper to taste

Select a pot large that will easily hold the leeks and corn, and pour in a few inches of water.  Put in a steamer insert, cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Cut the leeks in half lengthwise and trimming off all the tough green parts.  Wash the leeks under running water, being careful to remove all the mud that can collect between the layers. Chop the leeks into 1/8” slices and immediately add to the steamer to give them a head start cooking.  Strip the corn of its husk and silk and add the whole ears to the steamer, which should be steaming by now.  Steam the leeks with the corn for five minutes more on a medium-high heat with the lid on.

Peel off the skin and white pith of the oranges down to the flesh with a paring knife over a deep bowl, retaining the juice. Then cut the orange sections out as close to the membrane as possible, allowing them to drop in the bowl below. Then cut each orange section in half. When all the sections are cut out, squeeze the remaining membrane to extract the rest of the juice into the bowl.

Discard the mint stems and mince only the leaves. Chop the scallions into 1/4” pieces. Add the mint and scallions to the bowl of oranges, plus the vinegar, honey or raw sugar, salt & pepper. Mix with fork to dissolve the honey or raw sugar evenly into the dressing.

After allowing the corn to cool a bit, firmly hold one end of the cob resting it vertically on a cutting board.  Use a sharp knife in a downward motion to strip off the corn kernels. Scrape the cob with the blade of the knife to release its milk. Add the milk and the corn kernels to the bowl. Add the softened leeks and mix all ingredients thoroughly. Marinate the mixture for several hours or preferably overnight.  Serve chilled.

Kudzu the Superfood

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Valerie recently inquired about one ingredient in the hummus recipe, and I’m glad she did. It’s the latest in my personal list of superfoods.

Valerie said:  Just curious how did you came upon kudzu? I live in the South, where kudzu grows wild and everywhere. In fact, people saw if you stand still too long in the South it will grow on you. My friend feeds it to his chickens. I have seen it on menus, but never tried it or looked into the nutritional or healing value. Can you elaborate?

So here is a bit of info about kudzu, which is sometimes spelled kuzu.

Kudzo is an interesting substance for sure. Yes, I am aware that it is the bane of many Southerner’s existence because of it’s fast-growing vine’s ability to overtake a landscape. It’s the root that has the curative powers, as most macrobiotic folks can tell you. As my friend Nigel said when he introduced me to it with his raspberry dessert, “You can make pudding out of anything with it.”

Ground into a powder, the root looks and acts much like the more common thickening agents, corn starch, arrowroot powder and agar agar. Kudzu is about double the cost, but it’s properties as an immune and digestive strengthener impressive and well-documented in traditional medicinal texts.

I hide it in everything I can now: salad dressings, sauces, soups, potato salad– you name it. It’s available on-line and in health food stores.

To use it, add it to cold liquid first to avoid lumps, just as you would corn starch or arrowroot or agar agar. As for the taste, really isn’t any, especially if cooked a bit. Recently, I made an Asian noodle and shellfish dish with some vegetables, spices and stock. My guest left some of the sauce in the bowl, only because he assumed a sauce so rich was surely to be buttery. It was kudzu.I’m going to experiment using it in pie fillings instead of all those cholesterol-laden egg yolks! It should also make up for the extra liquid I encounter when I substitute my favorite sweetener, agave syrup, in recipes that call for sugar.

If anyone out there has experience with kudzu, would you please chime in??

Homemade Hummus: Mellow and Pure

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About two months ago I read the ingredient list on the side of each of the hummus containers I found at Trader Joe’s, a chain of markets Angelinos think of as offering healthy, all-natural foods. I was shocked at the length of unfamiliar ingredients, including emulsifiers and other things that looked suspiciously like chemical preservatives. Isn’t hummus simply garbanzo beans, lemon juice, tahini (sesame paste) and a little garlic, if you want to get fancy?
Well it is now. I purchased lovely, sprouted garbanzo beans from the lady at the Hollywood Farmer’s Market the followig week, who when questioned told me she does it the old Moroccan way; not in plastic, but in silk. Hooray! I’m all for cutting down on the chances that petroleum from plastic containers is leeching its way into my food.
Truth is the garbanzos sat in my refrigerator for a week before I could get to them. I searched on line for a tip on how to cook them, because raw garbanzos are mighty hard to digest. I couldn’t find a single site that was using sprouted garbanzos and when they did mention raw garbanzos, a raw hummus recipe followed. I’ve made this and I like it, but one cannot achieve the smooth satisfying texture of cooked hummus with the raw recipes.
So I opted to simply cover the beans with filtered water and let them simmer for 30 minutes. Once they cooled, I found it was easy to pinch away the semi-translucent skins from the beans, which I figured would make it still easier to digest. (Thanks for your help with that part, Paul.)
Tossed into a food processor with a good ration of tahini, lemon juice, some water, a few cloves of roasted garlic plus salt and pepper and a tablespoon of my latest superfood discovery, kudzu. Added for its property of soothing the entire gastro-intestinal tract, I knew the texture of the hummus would make the kudzu undetectable. I pureed all the ingredients for a full two minutes until it was sooth, streaming a bit more water thru the top o the food processor until it was the right consistency.
Tasting it, I found the flavor very mellow yet absolutely buoyant compared to any other hummus I’ve ever had. I suppose it’s because canned beans (like all canned food) have so little life force remaining in them. Roasting the garlic mellows its bite, so this hummus was as mellow as I had hoped. Adding nothing else allowed the fresh, clean unadulterated flavors of the garbanzos and tahini to be the focus.
Lately, I’ve been experimenting with a return to foods with a mellow flavor for their soothing effect. It’s one way I self-nurture and attempt to heal from the stresses of work and the economy. I suppose this outlook is guided by my knowledge of Ayurveda, which touts that spicy foods stimulate our energy and those with strong onions and garlic can pull us into lower chakra energy. On the other hand, mellow, soothing foods help us ground ourselves, heal and tap into intuitive thought. So I suppose my hummus and I will be meditating through the week. Happy Sunday to all of you!

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups sprouted garbanzo beans

2 cups water

1/2 t. sea salt

1 T. kudzu powder

1/4 cup lemon juice

¼ cup tahini

¼ t. black pepper

1/4 t. cumin

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)

Directions:

Bring the garbanzo beans and 1½ cups of water to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes. In the meantime, create a foil pouch and place in it 3 unpeeled garlic cloves, 1T. olive oil and 2 T. water. Place in the oven for 30 minutes to roast at 350º.
After 30 minutes, remove the garlic from the oven and remove the soft centers when cool enough to handle. Discard the papery shells. Then strain the remaining water off the garbanzos, rinse with cold water in a mess strainer, and roll the beans around vigorously so the translucent skins pop off. Pluck most of the skins out with your fingers, but don’t feel the need to be fastidious and discard every single one. Place all ingredients into a food processor or blender. Pure for 2 full minutes, adding ¼- ½ cup water gradually, until the hummus is as smooth as peanut butter, but a bit thinner.

Serving Suggestions:
Chill and serve with raw vegetables, bread or crackers. Hummus also makes a great low calorie, high protein alternative to mayonnaise on sandwiches.

Tea: Good Sense for Cents

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Making your own teas at home is terrific for the mind, body and wallet! It’s nutritional alternative way to replace sugary sodas and adrenaline-stressing coffee. Ayurvedic practitioners have recommended drinking warm teas throughout the day for millennia.  The warmth soothes the entire digestive tract. Recently black and green teas have been touted in scientific studies as a great source of antioxidants. The volatile oils in naturally caffeine-free herbal tea have powerful nutritional benefits. For instance, ginger and fennel aid digestion. Raspberry leaf stabilizes female hormones. Mint relaxes intestinal tension. For the threat of a cold, rose hips provide high potency vitamin C, and slippery elm immediately coats a scratchy throat.

I make a full pot at least twice a day. For pennies most mornings, I make one of four varieties of loose Earl Grey tea that I purchase from a local teach shop in Los Angeles, Chado Tea Room. Loose tea is much less expensive than teabags and any Englishman will tell you, it’s the superior way to make tea. Without the constriction of a teabag or tea ball, the free-floating tealeaves flourish into a brew more fully and readily. Whether hot with half and half or chilled later in the day with lemon, I add a little bit of agave syrup to sweeten black and green teas without spiking my blood sugar levels.

Later in the day and right until bedtime, I drink all kinds of caffeine-free tea concoctions as a way to hydrate and nourish myself. Some of my favorite combinations for a full pot of tea are below.

Civilized Morning:

2 t. Earl Grey with lavender

Served with half and half and agave syrup

After Dinner:

1 inch sliced fresh ginger

½ lemon

1-2 T. agave syrup

Tummy Tamer:

2 T. fennel seeds

1 T. agave syrup

Romantic Afternoon:

1 t. lavender

3 T. rose water

2 T. kava kava

Cold Coming On:

1 T. slippery elm

1 T. rose hips

The best kind of calories!

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Did you know that the only food edible my man that has a negative calorie count is raw celery? (Ok, elephants can chomp thru all kinds of raw vegetation!) It burns more calories to ingest and digest it than it has.  That is because fiber takes a lot of power to break down, and particularly when celery is raw, its got lots of tough fiber.  My pal Stephen turned me on to one of my now fav juicing recipes: Celery, pear and ginger.  Fabulous!!