Arugula Pesto Dinner

Sliced tomatoes, arugula pesto, feta cheese and flax bread for dinner!

Sliced tomatoes, arugula pesto, feta cheese and flax bread for dinner!

With so much fresh produce exploding out of gardens everywhere it’s easy to create interesting, healthy, veggie based meals.  My dad recently harvested a whole bunch of arugula.  He used it as the base for ‘Salad Lyonnaise‘, in place of the traditional frisee, yum!  And I decided to turn the bunch he gave me into a spicy pesto.  Eaten with sliced garden tomatoes, crumbled feta cheese and flax bread, this is a filling meal perfect for al fresco dinning.  I saved all my left over ingredients in glass containers, so it was easy to replicate the next night.

Arugula is full of vitamin A, K, folate, can help guard against cancer and is good for your brain too!  You can use the following ingredients as a guide and enjoy this pesto on flax crackers, flax pizza, as a spread on sandwiches, a dip for crudities, grilled fish…pretty much everything!

Ingredients:

  • arugula
  • garlic cloves
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • fresh lemon juice, optional: zest the lemon first, then add juice to taste
  • salt
  • grated romano or similar hard cheese
  • walnuts

Method:

Pesto is the perfect food for just using what you’ve got and don’t worry about measuring anything.  It’s hard to go wrong, but if you need some numbers to help you out, I go with about 50% greens and 50% nuts, cheese and olive oil with small amounts of lemon, garlic and salt. I use my food processor but I bet you could use a blender as well.

Start with the nuts and the garlic cloves, use as many as you like, and pulse together until you’ve got fine bits.

Then add the arugula, enough olive oil to cover it well, and pulse again to combine.  You can also add parsley or basil, or both, as a compliment to the spicy, bitter arugula.

Add some grated cheese and lemon juice.  Blend well and taste.

Add salt to taste, more cheese or nuts, basically, at this point I start tasting and adding a little more or a lot more of whatever ingredient seems to be lacking.  And I want the consistency to be thick and smooth, so olive oil is key!  You can add lots of oil and lemon juice to make this pesto into more of a thin dressing for a fresh garden salad.  Or keep it thick and use it as a dip or spread.

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Serving Suggestion: Nachos

Cheesy nachos with chopped onion and cilantro and fresh guacamaole

Cheesy nachos with chopped onion, cilantro and fresh guacamole.

Ok, first, my apologies for yet another low quality photo, but, I think it’s better than no photo at all!  My version of nachos is fairly simple, more wholesome and healthy and yes, they are cheesy good too.

I started with a double batch of flax crackers, rolled out very thin between to pieces of parchment.

I used these fresh baked flax crisps in place of traditional corn chips, spread out fairly evenly on a baking sheet.

Dice up some onion, shred some cheese- a sharp, raw cheddar is what I used- mix the two together and liberally cover the flax crisps.

Bake or broil until the cheese is bubbly and starting to brown. Take them out and sprinkle with a generous amount of chopped cilantro.  These are nachos so feel free to serve/eat them right from the baking sheet.

Top with fresh guacamole: I make mine with pressed raw garlic, cumin and chili powder, salt, fresh lime juice and a couple of ripe avocados, plus more cilantro.

This is a hearty snack or meal that pairs well with a big green salad like this one made with mostly cilantro or this raw kale salad, just skip the cheese!

Carrot Ginger Soup

It’s that time of year again: I have about 20 pounds of carrots in my refrigerator from my Dad’s garden and our friends at Woven Roots Farm.  I also have about as much free time as…wait, what’s that?  Since the first week in September I have been busy and busier and I can’t complain about it one bit.  So this week’s recipe is all about carrots, and quickly!

My husband Dana and my brother Brian and I started selling our Fire Cider in stores around the Berkshires last September.  We have gotten so much support from so many people and local businesses (no, they are not the same thing!) all over the Berkshires and beyond: we are now officially in every state in New England and even Ohio.  It’s been a pretty amazing year for the three of us.  This fall for our one year anniversary we exhibited at the Big E for 6 days, handing out over 15,000 samples of our tonic.  This has led to us working pretty much nonstop for the past 4 weeks and counting.

One thing that has kept us going (aside from the Fire Cider, of course) has been sitting down for a home cooked meal together, at least a few times a week.  I am so used to cooking almost all of the food we eat that it’s been kind of a shock all this eating on the go- grabbing prepared food at the Co-op or The Creamery and  eating in restaurants at the end of a long workday, too tired to cook, or even go to our garden to harvest food.  So I feel reassured that once again, home cooking with farm fresh foods is the way to go for health, best flavor and my sanity as well.

Eating together is one of those things that is full of intangibles and is so very important to any family, be it your group of friends, your roommates or your parents, siblings and kids.  When we eat together we have a chance, maybe the only time all day or all week, when we are all doing the same thing, at the same time, together.  When we share a meal we have prepared together we share the energy and love we put into the food and we all receive the benefits.  Eating together is community building 101.  Speaking of the energy we get from our food, eating root vegetables helps me to to feel more grounded and connected to the earth, especially during times when I’m really busy!  This easy soup recipe calls for 3 root veggies: ginger, onion and carrots with some fresh herbs for a very colorful and nutrient dense meal.

This soup takes about 15 minutes of actual cooking time, with about 30 minutes of simmering and cooling, so make a double batch and save some for later in the week when you have less time to cook.  You can use the downtime while the soup simmers to sauté some greens in garlic and olive oil for a well-rounded, brightly colored meal that will surely leave you and your family feeling nourished, brighter and healthier.

Carrot and Ginger Soup with a swirl of cream or coconut milk, perfect fall food!

Serves 4 – Cooking Time 15 minutes – Total Time- 40 Minutes

Ingredients

 

Enough olive oil or coconut oil for sautéing the onion

medium yellow onion, sliced

1 & 1/2  pounds  carrots, cut into 1/4-inch rounds

4  cups  vegetable or mushroom broth

1  tablespoon or more fresh  grated ginger

1 1/2  teaspoons  salt

1/4  teaspoon black pepper or more to taste

Optional:

1/2  cup  heavy cream (Highlawn Farm!) or coconut milk

Fresh herbs for garnish: chopped parsley or dill

Procedure

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, 5 to 6 minutes.

Stir in the carrots, broth, ginger, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the carrots are soft, about 20 minutes. Let cool at least 10 minutes.

Using a wand blender or a vented stand blender, puree the soup until smooth. Return to pot and warm, if necessary, over medium heat.

If you want to add cream: whisk the cream in a small bowl until soft peaks form. Fold in a pinch of salt and chopped fresh herbs. Divide the soup among individual bowls and top with the herb cream.

For the coconut milk: use organic, canned coconut milk (not the light stuff, it just has water added) and blend well so that it is smooth.  Add the chopped herbs and serve the soup with ¼ cup swirled into each bowl.

If you are on a strict no sugar diet, try making this version of the soup using lots of leeks and just a few carrots for color and mild sweetness.

Dressing Up

This past weekend Dana and I followed our friends Mike and Becca to Falmouth on Cape Cod for the Harborside Music Festival; we sold Fire Cider and enjoyed the music, they silk screened tee shirts to go, you don’t see that everyday!

Mike silk screening tee shirts for his nephews, the ones they were wearing!

As part of our four days on the road, we drove to Springfield where we went to another Big E meeting; we are going to be exhibiting at the Massachusetts building for sure, we just have to figure out the dates.  From Springfield we went to Boston and got a chance to get out on the water, it helps when your sister is a sailing instructor!

Captain Elise with Dana, showing off her skills and the coolest Coast Guard approved P.F.D.’s

From Boston we drove to Cape Cod for the Festival and then back home to Pittsfield.  Dana and I were fairly well prepared as far as food goes but had to rely on some local grocery stores from time to time.  It is definitely more challenging getting enough green veggies to eat while on the road.  One of my favorite things to do is buy a box of spinach, slice up an avocado and add dressing- my kind of fast food.  We forgot to bring salad dressing so decided to buy some Annie’s Goddess dressing.  This used to be my favorite but I haven’t bought any in a long time.  You know me, I hardly ever buy something I can make myself so I was kinda looking forward to this but it was…disappointing.  Homemade is the way to go.  Not only because it tastes better but it’s fresher, has no ‘natural flavors’ or other mysterious ingredients in it and is way more cost effective.  So, here are some salad dressing ideas you can make in just a few minutes and have on hand for days.

Fresh Herb Dressing

I have been making variations of this all summer since we have lots and lots of parsley, basil and cilantro in our garden. Herbs are so easy to grow, they just need a sunny windowsill and some water.  Grow your own and skip the high priced packaged bundles in the store.

Chop up a handful or more of your choice of herb, feel free to mix them up too!

Use a ratio of 3 to 1 Olive oil to vinegar, Apple Cider Vinegar if you are on a strict Candida elimination diet, otherwise red wine vinegar is a good choice.

Add salt to taste, a mashed clove of garlic (this will help preserve the dressing if you want to save some for later in the week) and pepper, black or red hot, to taste.

Mix well, use a wand blender if you want a smoother, emulsified dressing.  Taste and add more of the above ingredients until the dressing is flavored to your liking.

Basil Balsamic

Olive oil, balsamic vinegar, chopped basil, parsley, a pinch of dried or fresh oregano and garlic.  Salt to taste. Hot pepper optional.

Creamy Tahini Dressing

Start with a couple of heaping spoonfuls of Tahini (sesame seed butter) and mix with some sesame oil or olive oil.

Add apple cider vinegar and salt to taste.

Add your choice of one of the following combinations:

1. chopped cilantro, lime juice, chipolte pepper

2. minced ginger, chopped parsley, mashed garlic clove

Fire Cider Dressing

Mix 3 to 1 Olive oil to Fire Cider, salt to taste, a couple teaspoons of spicy Dijon mustard and mix well to emulsify.  Add a mashed clove of garlic for extra health booting properties!

Fresh Made Mayonnaise

It’s no secret that I love mayonnaise.  When I first started on the Candida diet, I stopped eating mayonnaise since, at the time, I couldn’t find organic mayo that was free of added sugar and vinegar.   Now, so many of my recipes use this versatile, egg based condiment that I thought it was about time to put up a recipe for making your own.   From a cost perspective, making your own mayonnaise is cheaper and pretty easy as well.  My brother will usually make the mayonnaise type garlic sauce that we traditionally eat with seafood stew on Christmas Eve.  It takes him about 10 minutes and it’s the best, nothing compares to fresh made mayo!  There is a garlic mayo version at the end of the recipe along with some other ideas for making your mayonnaise more flavorful and healthy, too.  The key is to slowly, slowly add the oil and to make sure it’s completely incorporated before adding more.

For the oil: I recommend using a neutral oil like sunflower seed or grape seed oil for a traditional mayonnaise.  Use a mix of half neutral oil and half mild tasting olive oil, or all olive oil, for a more flavorful mayo.   And lastly, use only farm fresh eggs, but you already knew I was going to say that!

Farm fresh eggs are not pasteurized and come in all shapes, sizes and colors!

The following is a recipe from a blog in San Francisco called Bay Area Bites and you can find the original post here.

Ingredients for 1 and 1/4 cups of Mayonnaise
2 egg yolks
1/4 tsp sea salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard or dry mustard
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup grape seed or other neutral-tasting oil
1/2 to 3/4 cup mild olive oil

Homemade mayonnaise is usually more yellow in color than the store bought stuff.

Preparation:
1. Using a blender or whisk, mix together egg yolks, salt, mustard, and lemon juice until just frothy.

2. In a very thin, steady stream, add oil while whisking or blending on low-speed. This is the most important step: you must add the oil in a very thin stream, a small amount at a time.  If you add too much at once the mayo will not thicken!  If your mayonnaise doesn’t thicken, that’s ok, it makes a great Caesar dressing in its thinner state, just add a few cloves of pressed garlic, have a salad and then go slower with the oil next time.

If using a blender, stop as the mixture thickens and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. Continue adding oil until the mixture is as thick as you want; the more oil you add, the more solid your mayonnaise will be.

3. Taste for seasoning, adding more lemon, mustard, or salt as needed. Chill until needed.

Garlic Mayonnaise: Add 1-2 crushed cloves of fresh garlic to the egg yolk mixture. (If making by hand, mince garlic finely before using.) Smokey paprika is also a nice addition to the garlic.

Cilantro Cucumber Mayonnaise: Replace lemon juice with lime juice. After mayonnaise has thickened, add 3/4 cup cilantro leaves and 1/2 cup peeled, seeded, and chopped cucumber. Puree in blender until smooth.

Herb Mayonnaise: When mayonnaise has thickened, add 1/2 cup fresh parsley and 1/4 cup single or mixed fresh herbs, such as basil, tarragon, mint, or chives. Puree in blender until smooth.

Japanese Burrito

Tuna prepared with mayo, salad mix, sheets of nori and hot sauce: combine and eat!

I love nori, it’s a really versatile sea vegetable that makes a great wrap for sandwich fillings.  You can use any of your favorite cold sandwich fillings rolled up in a sheet of crunchy, mild tasting nori.  Today I grabbed a bag of baby salad greens, my favorite hot sauce and a couple of cans of tuna.  I prepared the tuna with mayo and onion, some spicy Dijon mustard, a splash of balsamic, salt and pepper and the juice of 1/2 a lemon.

Layer mixed salad greens, prepared tuna and some hot sauce, then roll it up!

A healthy wrap is a green wrap!

Nori is considered to be a “super food” because it is packed full of vitamins, nutrients and even some rare trace elements. Nori is very high in protein, iron and vitamin C. It is also a great source of vitamin A, vitamin B2, iodine, potassium and magnesium. Nori seaweed has been shown to moisturize dry skin, improve circulation and detoxify the skin.  SeaSnax is a company that makes roasted, lightly oiled and flavored nori sheets.  Their snacks are crunchy and salty and satisfy like potato chips with the added benefit of  being highly nutritious!

Sweet or Savory Coconut Flour Pancakes

Pancake breakfast made possible with coconut flour and happy, local eggs!

This recipe was recommend to me by my friend Alexx who is also eating for Candida balance.  At the time I was experimenting with a batter recipe I have, turning it into savory dinner pancakes.  That recipe is a bit more complicated so lets start with this basic recipe for light and fluffy pancakes! You can make it sweet with stevia, vanilla (or another extract you like) or maybe some orange zest and cinnamon.  Or savory with the addition of dried herbs, fresh chives and pepper.  Savory pancakes would go well with a bit of fresh goat cheese or fried eggs and the sweet version could be topped with yogurt or eaten plain.

This recipe makes a lot of pancakes, I cut it in half and got about 9-10 pancakes.  If you want to experiment with flavors and additions, make up the whole recipe, divide it into two bowls and then add different flavorings to each batch.  The batter will keep for a few days in the fridge or on the counter top.  I made my breakfast batter up the night before and left it out on the counter, covered with a cloth, to let the fermentation process start.  This is a great short video on fermenting foods and their health benefits!

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup milk (raw cow’s, almond milk, coconut)
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • coconut oil or butter for frying
Optional, for sweet pancakes:
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • a pinch of stevia
  • cinnamon & nutmeg
Optional for savory pancakes:
  • dried herbs
  • ground pepper like chipotle
  • your favorite Indian spice or curry blend

Directions

  1. Pre-heat griddle over medium-low heat. In a small bowl beat eggs until frothy, about two minutes. Mix in milk, vanilla, and stevia OR herbs and spices.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl combine coconut flour, baking soda, and sea salt and whisk together. Stir wet mixture into dry until coconut flour is incorporated.  The batter will be thicker than regular pancake batter.  You can cook the pancakes now or leave the batter out, covered with a cloth, overnight to begin the fermentation process which will aid digestion.
  3. Grease pan with butter or coconut oil. Ladle a few tablespoons of batter into pan for each pancake. Spread out slightly with the back of a spoon. The pancakes should be 2-3 inches in diameter and fairly thick. Cook for a few minutes on each side, until the tops dry out slightly, bubbles form and pop on the surface and the bottoms start to brown. Flip and cook an additional 2-3 minutes.

Monday morning pancake breakfast!

Original recipe is here.

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