The Greenest Wrap

One of my favorite ways to eat more greens is to use them in place of bread or crackers.  Nothing against burger buns or sandwich bread but you can skip the processed wheat and grab a bunch of crispy Romaine or collard greens instead.  I use Romaine lettuce like a taco shell- fill it up with whatever you like- sliced avocado, tomato, homemade mayo and bacon for a healthier B.L.T.   Bibb lettuce is soft, flexible and makes for a great little wrap.  Want to eat that salad with your hands?  Wrap it up in the biggest lettuce leaves from the outside of the bunch.  Look at you, doubling down on your veggies!lettuce leaf B.L.T.

Using large collard leaves makes for a sturdier wrap that can hold such awesome summer foods as cheese burgers or the ultimate sunny seed hummus wrap.  You can use the leaves raw or lightly steamed — these are best for hot foods or for bigger wraps.  The folding is easy and unlike regular wraps, these stay sealed. The only prep work you need to do is to carefully trim them rough stems.

Cut the end of the stem off and then lay the collard leaf flat and slice off the rough stem that sticks up, so that the leaf is flat and entirely flexible, like in this photo from MindBodyGreen.com’s tutorial on how to use collards like a wrap!

MindBodyGreen.com collard trimming for wraps

Don’t worry if you tear the collard leaf a bit, you’ll get the hang of the stem trimming and can fold around any small tear.

If you want to steam your collard leaves so that they are more flexible and easier to use and eat, there are a few methods that work well.  This video from Plant Powered Kitchen.com has my favorite technique for when you just want to make up a few wraps.  Get some water boiling in your kettle and open the spout so you’ve got a nice stream of steam coming up.  Hold your raw collard leaf by the stem and wave it over the spout of steam, lightly steaming the whole leaf until it’s bight green and soft enough to fold.  Then trim off the stem as described above.  Repeat until you have enough wraps.

Or, follow the quick blanch method I found on Mind Body Green.com– bring a wide shallow pan of water to a simmer.  Take your de-stemmed collard leaves and give them a 10 second dunk in the pan, one at a time, using tongs to get the collard leaves in and then out and into an ice bath.  Dry in layers using tea towels. Once you’ve got all your wraps ready, fill as desired!

The wrapping part is easy, and there are a number of ways to do it, but this photo tutorial from Honest Fare.com is easy to follow:

HonestFare.com collard wrap- wrap up in 4 photos

Add your filling to the center of one or two overlapping leaves.  Fold the sides in to contain the filling.  Then, starting at one long end, roll the leaf over the filling and keep rolling, making sure the ends stay tucked in. Slice in half and enjoy!

bareburger collard wrap                                                  Above, a collard wrapped Bareburger – it’s as good as it looks!

Leek Gratin

This is my new favorite way to cook and eat leeks.  My Dad made this on a whim, without a recipe, for Christmas dinner and it was amazing, no leftovers at all!  You can easily make double this recipe, which is what I did since I had a whole bunch of leeks from my Dad’s garden and wanted to cook them up all at once.  I cooked all the leeks, about 10 cups total, and baked half right away.  The next day I baked the other half for another dinner.  This is a nice addition to a pot luck dinner and if you do have leftovers they are great hot or cold.  Prepping the leeks takes the longest, especially if you are getting them from your root cellar and not fresh from the store.  Leeks are a great storage veggie, as you can easily peel off the less pretty outer layers and find a perfectly preserve leek inside!

leek gratin 1

Ingredients:

5 cups sliced leeks, white and light green parts only

Salt and pepper to taste

3 Tablespoons pasture butter

1 large egg

a shy 1/2 cup cream or half and half

Method:

Prepare the leeks: strip away any rotten or damaged outer layrs, slice off the root tip and trim the top to the light green part.  Thinly slice all the leeks until you have about 5 cups.

leek gratin 2

Preheat the oven to 355 degrees.

In a large sauce pan or pot, I used my enamel coated cast iron soup pot, add the butter, sliced leeks and sprinkle with salt, then add as much black pepper as you like.

Over medium low flame, sweat the leeks until they are just past bright green, cooked though and reduced dramatically in size.

leek gratin 3

leek gratin 4

Let the leeks cool.

Whip together the egg and heavy cream.

Combine the egg, cream and cooked, cooled, leeks in glass or ceramic baking dish, I used a 1.5 liter pyrex square.

Spead the mixture evenly and top with a sprinkling of cheese, Gruyere is my favorite!

leek gratin 5

Bake the gratin until it’s set and staring to brown around the edges, about 30 minutes.  You can brown the cheese under the broiler at the end if that sounds good to you.  Enjoy!

Zucchini and Basil Sautee

Zucchini chopped into bite sized pieces.

Zucchini chopped into bite sized pieces.

This is one of my favorite ways to enjoy all the zucchini that’s super fresh right now.  And it’s really easy, just some time and a few ingredients and you’ve got a healthy delicious side dish or meal to go picnicking with!

Ingredients:

Zucchini

Onion

Butter and/or Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Basil

Shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese

Method:

Chop up some onion, I usually use about a 1 to 4 ratio of onion to zucchini.

Add the chopped onion, a few pinches of salt (go easy on the salt if you plan to add cheese to the finished dish, which I highly recommend!) and a healthy dose of butter and olive oil to a heavy bottom pan, the wider the pan the better.   You’ll start with a lot of fat in the pan to cook the onions and then when you add the zucchini you can decide if you need to add more.  Cook the onions on medium heat.

While the onions cook, chop your zucchini.  I make some pieces smaller than others so when it cooks, the smaller bits get mushy and the larger bits keep their shape so you don’t end up with baby food.  Or maybe you end up with baby food, it’s really delicious either way!

Start with chopped onion and plenty of butter.

Start with chopped onion and plenty of butter.

When the onions begin to look translucent, add in the zucchini, some black pepper and saute, stirring all the while, til smushy and starting to brown on med to medium high heat.

Sautee the zucchini and onions

Saute the zucchini and onions

Once you’ve cooked the zucchini down, it will release a lot of water, so plan on stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes til you get a nice, thick consistency.  Take it off the heat and serve topped with fresh chopped basil and shredded hard cheese like Romano.  This tastes great warm or at room temperature and makes a nice take along meal for picnic’s or pot lucks.

Topped with cheese and ready to eat or take on a picnic!

Topped with cheese and ready to eat or take on a picnic!

Pudding? Frosting? Pie filling? Yes!

Our friends Megan (massage therapist extraordinaire) and James (one half of Red Apple Butchers) came up with a snack idea that I thought would make an awesome pie filling or frosting.  Or, yes, you can just mix it up and eat it with a spoon.  Let’s start with the star of the show, the cultured dairy pudding:

Ingredients:

This will make enough to fill a 9 in pie crust, frost a one layer 8 in cake or just mix it up and store it in the fridge for the next time you want a serving or two of pudding!

  • 2 cups creme fraiche or whole milk, unsweetened Greek style yogurt or use a little of each.  The creme fraiche is easy to make yourself and adds a nice tangy flavor.  The cream also whips up nicely for added lightness to this rich food.
  •  1 cup smooth nut butter, any one of these are delicious: almond, hazelnut or peanut butter
  • 3-4 dropperfuls of Whole Foods brand vanilla stevia
  • 2-3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
The nut butter sank to the bottom, all the ingredients ready for blending!

Creme fraiche and cocoa powder are so good together!

Method:

Add all the ingredients to a big bowl and use a mixer to whip them together into a smooth, fluffy bowl of deliciousness.   Taste and add more stevia or cocoa powder to your liking.  The mixture will be like pudding, you can make it thicker by adding more nut butter or thinner by adding plain heavy cream or more creme fraiche.

Now you have a cultured dairy pudding snack.  Which you can eat right now or use to frost a cake or cookies!

But, wait, what about making a cream pie?  Chill your pudding in the fridge while you get to baking.

Set your oven to 350

Chocolate Hazelnut Pudding Pie

Chocolate Hazelnut Pudding Pie

 Pie Crust Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups Blanched Almond Flour- I always use Bob’s Red Mill Brand
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted pasture butter
  • 1 large organic farm egg
  • a pinch of salt

Method:

Blend all of the ingredients together in a food processor.

Press the dough evenly into a 9 in pie plate and bake at 350 for 10-14 min, until firm and starting to brown.

Cool the crust completely and then add  the above pie filling.

Refrigerate the pie for at least an hour before serving.

When it’s time for pie, whip up 6-8 ounces of fresh cream.

Cover the top of the pie completely with the whipped cream and top with chopped roasted nuts and maybe even some chopped dark chocolate.  Sugar free has never tasted this good!

Yes please!

Yes please!

Updated Egg Salad

I love this new version of  egg salad that Heidi posted on her blog 101 Cookbooks, which if you don’t already rely on it for great recipes, now you know!  This is a nice, light update on a familiar classic, perfect for a new light filled season.

Here’s her recipe, I didn’t want to change a thing!

Perfectly cooked eggs

Perfectly cooked eggs

Ingredients:

6 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 small head of radicchio, shredded
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1 medium shallot, chopped
3 baby radishes, shaved thin

to serve: little dollop of salted creme fraiche and/or a drizzle of olive oil.

Method:

“Place the eggs in a pot and cover with cold water by a 1/2-inch or so. Bring to a gentle boil. Now turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for ten minutes (a couple minutes longer than I normally do). Have a big bowl of ice water ready and when the eggs are done cooking place them in the ice bath for three minutes or so – long enough to stop the cooking. Crack and peel each egg, then use the big holes on a standard box grater to grate the eggs. Place in a bowl and use your fingers to gently toss the eggs with the salt and pepper. At this point you can add whatever you like to the salad – I tossed in shredded radicchio, fresh dill, shallots, and shaved baby radishes. Serve topped with tiny dollops of something creamy – like creme fraich or plain yogurt, and a drizzle of olive oil. Just a bit of each so you don’t weigh it down.”

Serves 2-4.

Prep time: 5 min – Cook time: 10 min

Serve this salad on top of homemade flax crackers or store bought flax crackers!

Creamy Mashed Cauliflower

This recipe is so simple and so satisfying.  Oh, and good for you too!  I recently read an article published by John Douillard on his site lifespa.com titled “Eat Fat, Beat Sugar Cravings”.   Everyone, I mean everyone, right up until a few decades ago, knew that sugar and carbohydrates tend to make you gain weight and that healthy fats are essential.  When I was growing up there were all these new ‘diet foods’: low fat or no fat was the supposedly ‘healthy’ way to go.  Because fats make you fat, right?  I can’t believe I bought that crap!

Fat makes you feel full and satiated.  It protects your organs, it’s necessary for proper brain function.  It’s an important part of digestion.  When you eat sugar or carbohydrates you may find yourself continually wanting to have more, never quite full in the long run.  And have I mentioned that there is no such thing as an essential sugar?  There’s no essential carbohydrate either.  We need fats and proteins to function but humans can live without the sugar.

Give it a try, eat a high fiber, high fat food and see how it compares to a low fat, high carbohydrate food.  For example, try making low fat mashed potatoes as well as the following recipe for Creamy Mashed Cauliflower.  Have a serving of mashed potatoes for an afternoon snack one day.  Write down how you feel when you finish eating, and how full you feel an hour later.  The next day do the same thing with the mashed cauliflower.  I bet you’ll be surprised how the same serving of food can be so much more filling!  And how you won’t be craving cookies half an hour later.

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 3/4 cup of creme fraiche (the BEST!) or any of the following: heavy cream, coconut cream, full fat yogurt
  •  salt and pepper
  • optional: herbs, spices, grated cheese

Method:

Remove leaves, core and chop a head of cauliflower into large chunks

Steam the chopped cauliflower until tender.  About 10-13 minutes.

Blend the steamed cauliflower in a Cuisinart or using a wand blender along with 3/4 cup, give or take, of the creme fraiche plus salt and pepper to taste.

You can eat it now or add some paprika or other herbs and spices.

Save it for later by storing the whipped cauliflower in an over safe dish.  When you are ready to eat, sprinkle the top with some grated cheese and pop it in the oven to reheat.  Great as a pot luck dish or make ahead side dish.

Definitely eat this with meatloaf!

Meatloaf- It’s What’s For Dinner!

Meatloaf is hearty fare and it’s a classic from my childhood that I have been enjoying lately with a local twist.  Using humanely raised, organic beef, lamb and bacon from farms in Dalton and Cummington, MA, eggs from Hinsdale and cream from High Lawn Farm this is as local as meatloaf gets!  I replaced the traditional bread crumbs with ground flax so this recipe is gluten and carbohydrate free.  Served with a side of greens, like slow cooked collards and perhaps a bowl of broth, this meal will be sure to warm you up and keep you going.  When I made this recipe we were having friends over for dinner and I wanted to be sure to have enough for left over meatloaf sandwiches.   I added an extra pound of ground beef to my basic meatloaf recipe and it just barely fit in my glass baking dish.  This will serve 6-8 people or 4 people for dinner, twice.  And if you have time, this recipe is great for meatballs too!

Ingredients:

2 pounds ground beef

1 pound ground lamb (or pork)

1/2 pound bacon, half of it minced and half reserved in strips.

1/2 cup cream or milk

3 Tablespoons ground flax

1 extra-large farm egg

1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

1/2 small white onion, minced

1 tsp salt

1 tsp chili powder or hot pepper flakes

1 tsp paprika, smokey, mild or hot, whatever you’ve got!

1/4 cup fresh minced parsley

Ready to bake in about 15 minutes.

Ready to bake after just 15 minutes of prep time!

Method:

Pre heat oven to 350

Beat the egg into the milk and flax, add all of the other ingredients and mix well in a large bowl.

Shape into a loaf in a glass baking dish, make sure there is some room on all four sides.

Lay the remaining strips of bacon on top.

Bake at 350 for about 1 hour to 1.5 hours, until it’s firm and reads 160 degrees in the center!

Take it out, let it rest for about 15 minutes, transfer to a plate and serve.

Dinner four times two in about fifteen minutes plus baking time!

Dinner x 2 in about fifteen minutes plus baking time!

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