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.





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.





How To: Mango Cups

5 07 2012

Fear not, the mango.  Don’t let this juicy fruit scare you.  If might have a big ‘ole hard pit in the center and a slippery skin that’s hard to peel — all the more reason to enjoy its insanely sweet fruit.

Learn how to get the fruit out and save the cup for serving:





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!





Cool Watermelon Salsa

2 07 2012

This beautiful, fresh salsa highlights some of summer’s sweet melons.  Watermelon is a go-to favorite, but you can also use cantaloupe, canary, or buttercup melons for different colors and flavors.

Makes 3 cups, serves about 12 for appetizers

 

2 cups seedless watermelon, diced

1 seedless cucumber, diced

1 jalapeno, seeded and diced (for help on choosing one, check this video)

1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped

1 lime, zest and juice

1 head radicchio (for serving)

Toss together watermelon, cucumber, jalapeno, cilantro, lime zest, and lime juice.  Chill for at least 30 minutes (or better yet, overnight) for flavors to come together.  Portion into radicchio cups and served chilled.

Puree extras for a refreshing gazpacho.

 





Purple Sticky Rice Pudding

22 06 2012

This addictive dish works for both breakfast or dessert.  With natural sweetness from bananas and the rich flavor of vanilla bean, you can eat till the purple rice runs dry.

Serves 6

2 cups short grain purple sticky rice (if unavailable, substitute with short grain brown rice or steel cut oats)

2 cups blueberries

2 bananas

2 vanilla beans, seeds and pods (see how to do it here)

4 cups water

Combine all ingredients in a large pot.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low.  Stir vigorously to release the starches in the rice.  Cook until rice is tender, about 30 to 40 minutes.  Stir every 10 minutes or so to release more of the starches.  If mixture becomes to dry, simply add more water.

Garnish with diced mangos or apricots.





Strawberry Seduction

20 06 2012

You look up.  She catches your eye from across the room.  In a sea of browns and greens, her seductive red lures you in.  The laws of attraction elicit a deep breath as you inhale her sweet aroma.  Her glowing charm glints like the girl next door.  Her fragile skin hints at precious innocence.

All you want to do is grab her, pick her up, and take a big, juicy bite.

She is strawberry.

 

Let her radiance inspire you.  Fantasies of chocolate-dipped desserts, colorful breakfast bowls, and simple afternoons licking your fingers run through your mind.  Share company with her friends Blue, Black, and Rasp.  Let her meet your buds Almond, Arugula, and Ginger.

She’s not in it for the long-haul, little more than a summer fling.  But she’s good for every last, juicy drop.

You can find her at optimal beauty at places like:

Seedling Fruit (at Chicago’s Green City Market)

Whole Foods Market (all over the world)