Apricot Bean Salsa

8 08 2012

Salsa comes down to a few key ingredients: jalapeno, lime, and cilantro.  From there, the possibilities are endless, making it the perfect setting to use summer’s ripest fruits.  Adding beans takes it from side dish to main course.

2 cups cooked yellow eye stueben beans

2 large apricots, diced

1 jalapeno, seeded and minced

1 lime, zest and juice

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

To make salsa:  Combine all just before serving. Enjoy in bibb lettuce cups.

If making a day ahead, layer all of the ingredients in a large bowl, with the beans and cilantro on top.  Toss just before serving.  If you toss any sooner, you beans and apricot will get mushy.





Red Rice, Yellow Cauli

30 07 2012

Time to embrace color.  Red Himalayan rice comes from Southeast Asia.  Yellow Cauliflower is colored with the golden hue of Indian curry powder.  Make sense out of two perplexing ingredients.

Serves 4

2 cups red rice

1 white onion, diced

2 tablespoons curry powder, home-made or pre-made

1 large head yellow cauliflower, cored and cut into bite-sized pieces

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

To cook the rice: In a small pot, cover rice with a couple inches of water.  Simmer until tender, about 25 minutes.  Turn off heat, fluff, and keep covered until cauliflower is ready.

Meanwhile, to make your Yellow Cauli:  Place onion, curry powder, and 1/2 cup of water in a large saute pan.  Sweat gently over medium heat until onions are soft and the liquid becomes paste-like.  Add cauliflower to the pan and stir well to coat in the yellow curry paste.  Cover and reduce heat to low to steam cauliflower.  Cook until cauliflower is tender, about 10 minutes.  Add cilantro and stir well to combine.

Serve a big scoop of yellow cauliflower over a huge mound of red rice.  Enjoy!





Purple Tomatoes and Purple Basil

23 07 2012

Purple tomatoes?  Purple basil?  Sounds like the perfect match.

Serves 4

3 or 4 purple heirloom tomatoes, sliced

1 to 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons purple basil

Freshly ground black pepper
Place tomato slices on a large plate and fan out.  Splash on the white balsamic vinegar.  Tear apart the purple basil and scatter over the tomatoes.  Grind a few turns of black pepper.

Share with good friends and sunshine.





Butter Bean Leek Soup

18 07 2012

Creamy, rich butter beans provide body and texture to this addictive soup.  A classic take on French Vichyssoise, traditionalists will serve chilled.  I prefer it warm, straight out of a mug.

3 leeks (about 1 bunch), white and light green parts only, thinly sliced

2 white onions, diced

3 cloves garlic

1 carrot, diced

1 bay leaf

2 cans (about 7 cups) butter beans, no-salt-added, drained and rinsed

In a large soup pot, combine leeks, onion, garlic, carrot, bay leaf, and 5 cups of water.  Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until leeks and carrot are soft, about 10 minutes.  Add the beans to the pot.  Remove the bay leaf.  Puree half of the mixture using a blender (immersion blender preferred).

Cook a few more minutes to bring flavors together.  Garnish with chopped chives, parsley, or just freshly ground black pepper and serve.





Sweet Cauliflower and Currants

17 07 2012

Tiny currants provide bright pops to highlight the natural sweetness of cauliflower and the sweet licorice-flavor of fennel.  Other dried fruits like raisins, diced apricots, or chopped dates would also work well.

Serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon fennel seed

1 head cauliflower, stem and florets, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 white onion

2 cloves garlic

1/4 cup dried currants

2 tablespoons roasted sunflower seeds

Place fennel seeds in a large skillet.  Heat over high heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes.  Add cauliflower and onion to the pan.  Continue to cook until onions and caulifower begin to turn brown, about 4 more minutes.  Add the garlic, currants, and 1/4 cup of water.  Reduce heat to medium.  Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any bit from the bottom of the pan.  Cover and cook over medium heat until cauliflower is tender, about 7 minutes.  If the pan becomes to dry or garlic begins to burn, simply reduce your heat and add more water.

Serve over a mound of brown lentils and garnish with roasted sunflower seeds.





Cracked Wheat Greek Salad

9 07 2012

Cracked wheat is a low-maintenance whole grain.  How to cook?  Just soak in warm tap water.  No need to turn on the stove.  Now that’s what I call easy.

Serves 6

2 cups cracked wheat (also called bulgur)

1 red onion, diced

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 seedless cucumber, diced

1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

1 lemon, zest and juice

1/2 bunch fresh parsley, chopped

1/2 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

Place cracked wheat in a large bowl.  Cover with 4 cups of hot tap water.  Let sit while preparing other ingredients.  The longer it sits, the softer the cracked wheat will get.  You don’t need to cook the cracked wheat.  Just let it sit in the warm water.

Add all other ingredients to the cracked wheat.  Toss well to combine.  Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Best let sit overnight for flavors to marry.  Serve chilled.





Fear Not Carbs

3 07 2012

Recent tidbits in the media have reiterated the strengths of eating a Plant-centric diet.
Check out this fun video featuring some of our favorite diet guru.  Dr. Atkins is on there, as well as the writer of the Paleo Solution and some other low-carb heavy hitters:

Low-Carb vs Plant-Based

I’m usually not one to judge by someone’s personal appearance, but I highly doubt that ripped Cross Fit junkies would be motivated by the Paleo grandfather, Loren Cordain.
Beyond carbs, though, what is most important is eating whole foods.  So many times we think of “carbs” as the refined foods that have added sugars and fats.  We think of processed breads, cookies, crackers, pastries, doughnuts, and fries.  None of these are whole foods.  They have been stripped of fiber, protein, and nutrients and fortified with fats, oils, and flavorings to seem like food.  These are food imposters.

Whole carbs are plants.  They are whole grains (rice, oats, quinoa, corn).  They are potatoes (loaded with fiber, nutrients, and even protein and fat).  They are beans and legumes.  They are fruits.  They are complex, which means the body breaks them down slowly so that it can absorb all of their goodness without spiking blood sugar levels or raising insulin.

Even Women’s Health spent some time to quiet some of the myths of meatless eating:

5 Vegetarian Myths

The coolest thing I like on this list is that a Plant-Based diet is often more diverse then a meat-inclusive diet.  I think back to my chicken days.  The same chicken, 4 different ways, week after week.  Now, I eat all colors and sizes of grains.  I’m cooking beans I never knew existed.  I’m tasting different varieties of dark greens, potatoes, fruits, vegetables, spices, and more.  And if I do eat chicken?  Well, it tastes the same as it always did — boring.

Good luck, Plant-friendly eaters.  Please keep me posted on the progress.  May the plants be with you!