Peach Cobbler

Peach Cobbler Makes 18 pieces

 

Pureed dried apricots add a subtle sweetness to this healthy treat.  Serve with roasted peaches for a summery dessert or a sweet treat for brunch. 

½ cup dried apricots

1 ½ cups cornmeal ½  cup garbanzo bean flour 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed 2 teaspoons baking powder 1/8  teaspoon fine sea salt (optional) 1 cup non-dairy, WC-approved milk ½ cup unsweetened applesauce 4 peaches, pitted and cut into bite-sized pieces

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9x9 baking dish with foil. To make apricot paste:  Soak dried apricots in warm water for at least 10 minutes, to soften.  Place in a high-speed blender with a few tablespoons of water.  Pulse, then puree, until a paste-like consistency is reached.  Add more water as needed to reach a spreadable, smooth consistency.  Remove and set aside.

To make biscuit dough:  Whisk together cornmeal, flour, flaxseed, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In a separate small bowl, whisk together non-dairy milk, applesauce and apricot paste. Stir apricot mixture into cornmeal mixture. Stir until combined.

To make cobbler:  Place half of the bite-sized peaches in the bottom of a 9x9” baking dish or round cast iron pan.  Pour biscuit dough on top of peaches.  Spread the remaining peaches on top and press into the dough, just to even the surface of the cobbler.  Bake 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and cut into 16 slices.  Serve with remaining apricot paste.

*Gluten-free

Lemon Cake

This dish is a dance that took 12 months to create.  The foundation was simple:  Make a cake.  The rhythm was more challenging: No animal products... no eggs, butter, dairy.

No refined sugars... no honey, agave, stevia.

No oils... not olive, not coconut, not avocado.

Only whole wheat flour.

And make it taste good.

After 12 months of practicing the steps, this is my dance.

Lemon Cake

Serves 8

2 tablespoons flax meal

½  cup dates, soaked in warm water

1 tablespoons dried lavender buds

½ cup raw cashew butter, no-salt-added

1 cup non-dairy milk

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 ½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon turmeric

1/8 teaspoon salt (optional)

1 lemon, zest and juice

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 350.

To make flax eggs:  Combine flax meal with 6 tablespoons warm water.  Whisk together and let sit 5 minutes, until mixture is gelatinous and slimy, like eggs.

To combine wet ingredients:  Remove dates from soaking liquid.  Place in a blender or high-speed food processor with ½ cup of the soaking liquid.  Puree until well-blended and smooth.  Add dried lavender, cashew butter, non-dairy milk, and vanilla.  Puree until smooth.

To make cupcakes:  Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, turmeric, and salt in a large bowl.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry.  Add the lemon zest and juice and vinegar.  Stir well to combine.  Line an 8” round cake pan with parchment (or use a 12-cupcake silicon baking mold).  Pour the cake batter into the pan and spread evenly.  Bake 20-25 minutes for regular cake (10 to 15 minutes for cupcakes).  The cake will be done when it is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Let fully cool before frosting.

Lemon Frosting

Makes 1 cup

1 cup raw cashew butter, or 1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight and drained

8 dates, pitted and soaked in warm water

1 lemon, zested and juiced

1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric

To prepare the Lemon Frosting:  Place the cashew butter (or soaked cashews), dates, vanilla, and ¼ cup warm water in a high-speed blender or food processor.  Pulse the mixture several times, and then blend until the ingredients are thick, smooth, and creamy.  If needed add 1-tablespoon at a time of water to the blender until the desired consistency is achieved.  Cream can be use immediately or may be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.    

Freezes beautifully.

Apricot Bean Salsa

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

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!

Cauliflower: What is White?

What is white? Cauliflower.  Cauliflower is white.  It always has been, it always will be.  That's just the way it is.

Or, that's what I thought.  Then I met farmers.  I went to markets.  I read cookbooks, I talked to chefs, I tasted, explored, experience.

Now, cauliflower is still white.  And it's purple, green, and yellow.

My world opened up, my knowledge expanded, and my understanding changed.

In ten years, my visions has shifted:  From a world of only-white to a world of variety.

This world is changing.  Nothing is just white any more.  There's too much more out there to taste.

Purple Tomatoes and Purple Basil

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

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

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

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.

Cool Watermelon Salsa

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

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.

Chard, Mushrooms, and Butter Beans

If you haven't had butter beans before, do yourself a favor:  Find some, buy some, eat some.  Delicious.  Like Buttah.  If you must substitute, I guess cannelini would be okay.  But not quite "Like Buttah".

1 bunch Swiss Chard, leaves stripped from stems

8 oz cremini mushrooms, quartered

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 can butter beans, drained and rinsed

Loads of freshly ground black pepper

Heat a medium saute pan over high heat.  Chop the chard stems into bite-sized pieces, about the same size as the butter beans.  The mushrooms should also be about this size.  Add the chard and mushrooms to the hot pan and cook until they start to darken, just a few minutes.  Add the tomato paste and a couple tablespoons of water to the pan, lower heat to medium, and continue cooking until stems soften, about 5 minutes.  In the mean time, slice the chard leaves.  Once the stems are soft, add the leaves to the pan and cover.  Cook just until the leaves wilt, about a minute or two.  If needed, add another couple of tablespoons of water to prevent burning.

Toss beans with the black pepper.  Serve a big heap of the chard mix with a few big spoonfuls of beans.  Enjoy.

Combine leftover beans and chard for next day's lunch.  Or serve with whole wheat pasta for a hearty dinner.

Easy Chard and Quinoa

This quick dish is a great easy lunch or a tasty afternoon snack.  Enjoy warm or cold.  Add toasted sunflower seeds and currants for more flavor.

1 cup quinoa

1 bunch rainbow chard

2 sweet onions

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Place quinoa in a small pot and cover with 2 inches of water.  Simmer, covered, until soft, about 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, cook your chard.

Heat a large saute pan over high heat.  To cook your chard, remove the stems from the leaves of the chard.  Slice the stems into bite-sized pieces.  Cut the two onions into bite-sized pieces.  Add onion and chard stems to the hot pan.  Saute until the onion starts to caramelize (turn brown), about 5 minutes, stirring as needed.  Meanwhile, chop chard leaves.  When onions have caramelized slightly and chard stems have softened, add balsamic vinegar.  Scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pan and turn heat to medium-low.  Add chopped chard leaves to pan, cover, and cook just until leaves start to wilt, about 5 minutes.

Quinoa should be done about now.  Remove the lid from the pan, taste to make sure the quinoa is soft.  Fluff quinoa with a fork and add to the chard mixture.  Season with plenty of freshly-ground black and pepper and salt to taste.

Duo Talent: Rainbow Chard

Duo Talents are hard to miss.

Duo Talents catch your attention with a notable first impression.  They perk your ears with a clever joke.  They challenge your thinking with a poignant question.  They have incredible shining eyes, a bright smile, and glowing confidence.

And then, they get better.

Beyond that first impression, lies another layer.  It's the richness of self-motivation, the audacity to take risks, and the warmth of listening to your concerns.

The Duo Talent has two sides to entice.  They have a vibrant, crisp intro to attract.  Then they have a textured, soulful depth to keep you interested.

Rainbow chard is a duo talent.  It draws you in with bright, seductive stalks.  It keeps your interest with luxurious green leaves.  In one beautiful bundle, you get a two-for-one.  You can chop the stalks for braising, soups, sauces, or slaw.  The leaves offer layers for fluffy salads or wilted sides.

By enjoying both talents of this vegetable, you savor the many talents it brings to the table.  Just don't let the other mustard greens get jealous.

Lower on the Chain

To produce one pound of US steak (less than 1,000 calories of food), 45,000 calories of fossil fuels are required. 70 percent of the antibiotics we make are used on our livestock. And while Africa starves, half of the food we grow in this country goes to feed our livestock.

There was a time when meat cost more than vegetables. Chickens were reserved for special Sunday dinners, and, even then, every part of the bird found its way into giblet gravy and leftover soup. Now, these birds come in perfectly-portioned, uniformly-sized pounded breasts that cook in ten minutes. As Americans, we spend a smaller portion of our family budget on food then any other developed country. This is probably why we're okay with the genetically modified wheat and under-tested pesticides that are banned in the European Union: It's cheaper.

A challenge to eat healthy and sustainably is a challenge to change the way we look at food. Take the meat off. Switch the plate around so that vegetables and complex carbohydrates are the foundation while meat is the rare treat. Eat whole foods. Eat more plants. You'll still get plenty of protein and fat, but probably in a form that is friendlier to your waistline and your arteries.

Other cultures have been doing this for centuries. Use them for inspiration. Mexico has its rice and beans. India has its red lentils and curried dal. Even our Native Americans shared corn and bean succotash.

Here we still have our grand images of the cowboy lassoing tonight's dinner in a heroic display of the hunter feeding his family a hearty meal. This is an idyllic image of the past, though. Our current image is the truth of claustrophobic factory farms filled with sick, mutated animals. Our image for the future is our choice, a choice we make three times a day, plus snacks. It doesn't have to be expensive or time-consuming. It just means a little extra attention and one simple rule: Eat lower on the food chain.

For more information, check out these worthy reads:

Michael Pollan's An Omnivore's Dilemma

Northwest Earth Institute's Menu for the Future

Quinoa Stuffed Anaheim Peppers

Quinoa Stuffed Anaheim Peppers

Serves 4

Anaheim peppers get their name from Anaheim, California. Their long, slender shape make them the perfect size for stuffing and snacking. Experiment with different varieties of peppers like Cubanelle, Poblano, or even just plain 'ole bell.

8 Anaheim peppers (or 4 bell peppers)

½ cup tricolor quinoa, raw

1 bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

1 red onion, diced

1 tablepsoon paprika

1 tablespoon chile powder

1 teaspoon cumin

½ cup corn kernels

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 lime, zest and juice

Heat oven to 350. Make like the Queen of Hearts and decapitate the peppers “Off with their heads!” Use your fingers to remove the seeds. Place on a baking sheet and pop into the oven to soften, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, place quinoa and 1 cup of water in a small pot on the stove. Cover and simmer until quinoa is soft, about 20 minutes.

 

While that is all happening, prepare the rest of your stuffing. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add the bell pepper, jalapeño, and onion and saute. Cook until the peppers and onions start to brown, about 5 minutes. If they begin to burn, add a couple tablespoons of water to slow the cooking. Once the peppers and onions start to brown, add the paprika, chile powder, and cumin. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook until you can smell the spices, about 5 minutes. Again, add water as needed to prevent burning. Add the corn kernels, and garlic. Cook just until garlic softens, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the lime zest and juice.

At this point, the quinoa and roasting peppers should be ready. Add the quinoa to your stuffing mixture. Spoon mixture into Anaheim peppers. Return peppers to oven to finish cooking, about 5 more minutes. Enjoy with fresh tomato salsa or guacamole.

To make extras, simply stuff all of your peppers and place in the fridge. Reheat in an oven or microwave just before enjoying. These also freeze really well for future snacking.

 

Green with Envy

My recent love of broccoli for protein comes only after my love for its beautiful green and sweet, buttery flavor.

Flavor first.

There you are, dear broccoli, hiding amidst your comrades on the produce shelf.  Beside you, crisp romaine reaches tall with its vibrant stalks.  Golden onions shine for your appreciation.  Even drab white cauliflower embodies untouched purity in its individually-wrapped package.  Yet broccoli rests with little enthusiasm.   Store employees bunch you to attain some form of cohesion, but your woody stalks and tufted florets scream more "alien" than "appetite".

Broccoli, old pal, you just need a friend.

I gladly pick you up and invite you over for dinner.  I happily cut your stalks long, making tiny trees from your bulky frame.  Water is boiled and salted -- heavily.  "To taste like the sea" echoes the voice of a past chef.  In the rolling, bubbling jacuzzi, down go your drab greenness.  In minutes, there is magic.

Your faded color makes way for glowing emerald.  Your woody trunks soften.  The salty cloud of water brings out the earthy, sweet flavors that hide in your stems.

A few minutes later, a knife easily slips out of your thickest stalk, and you are ready.  A quick shock into a bath of ice water locks in your crisp green.

Tossed with a squeeze of fresh lemon and a few grinds of fresh cracked pepper, you are beautiful.  You put romaine to shame.  Somehow you have transformed into this delight that plays between my teeth while also melts on my tongue.  Broccoli, my friend, you are ALIVE.

Take that, cauliflower.

The other veggies are green with envy.