Saturday, August 4, 2012

Zucchini Chickpea Pancakes

I think I may have mentioned a few weeks ago that I had more zucchini than I knew what to do with.  Well, after trying this recipe, this is where a good portion of this year’s crop has gone.   These pancakes are so tasty, I’ve made them at least five times in the last few weeks. 

Needless to say, my arms have gotten a good workout from shredding so much zucchini!  I should say my right arm.  I’ve noticed that it’s significantly stronger than my left and it finally occurred to me it’s from all the chopping, peeling, and grating of vegetables.  I’ve actually began to switch hands for some things, although, I don’t trust myself with a chef’s knife in my left hand just yet!

As you’ll see below, it’s best to squeeze the liquid from the zucchini to keep the batter on the thicker side.    Don’t throw away the juice, though.  It has a nice taste and is very refreshing.  If you can't imagine drinking it, use it to flavor your water, or add it to a vegetable smoothie.

Zucchini Chickpea Pancakes

2 medium zucchini, washed, dried, and shredded
½ medium Vidalia onion, grated
2 eggs, partially beaten
1T fresh lemon juice
1 c or more chickpea flour
1 t baking powder
1 t salt
½ t ground pepper
¼ t garlic powder
¼ t coriander
½ t cumin
coconut, olive oil, and/or butter

Using your hands, squeeze the liquid from the shredded zucchini and place in a large bowl.  Add the onion, eggs, and lemon juice and mix well.  

Combine the dry ingredients then gently mix into the zucchini mixture. 

Allow the batter to sit for 10 minutes, then drain any excess liquid that accumulates around the edges of the bowl. 

Heat a large skillet on medium then add a bit of oil and butter, if desired.  Spoon ¼ - ½ cup portions of batter into the pan.  Cook until lightly browned on the bottom, then flip and brown the other side and allow the center to cook through.  They will be slightly wet on the inside. 

Allow them to cool slightly before eating.   They’re good with pesto, tahini dressing, and I’ll bet they’d go well with a cool, lemony yogurt dip.  

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Zucchini Banana Muffins

This is about the time of the summer when the zucchini are growing so quickly that it’s difficult to keep up with them.  It’s also fun because I can step outside in the early morning to pick fresh vegetables to use immediately in a recipe, like this one for zucchini banana muffins.   They’re gluten-free and I’ve used coconut palm sugar, which has less of a glycemic load than other sugars.  I’ve also made them with maple syrup and with almond flour and they’re terrific either way.   Hope you enjoy!

Zucchini Banana Muffins

1.5 c shredded, unpeeled zucchini
1 med banana, mashed
3 eggs
2 T coconut oil
1/3 c coconut palm sugar
1 t lemon zest

1 ¼ c gluten-free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free flour)
¼ c unsweetened shredded coconut
1/8 tsp xanthan gum
1 t baking soda
½ t salt
1 t cinnamon
½ t nutmeg
½ c raisins or chopped nuts (optional)

Combine the first set of ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.  Mix the dry ingredients together and gently fold into the wet ingredients, just until incorporated.  Fold in the nuts or raisins.

Spoon into greased muffin pans (3/4 full) and bake at 350°F for ~20 minutes, or until lightly browned and they spring back when touched.  Let cool for about 10 minutes before removing from the pan.  Store in an airtight container.  

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Anti-inflammatory Juice

Lately there’s been a lot of debate over which is better, green juices or green smoothies.  I believe that there is not right answer; it depends on who you are and what you like.  In the past, I would load the blender full with cucumbers, celery, greens and other veggies, but found it to be a little too much fiber for me. 

So I switched to juicing because I could more easily control the amount of pulp that went into the juice and the slow crushing juicer I use does a nice job of extracting as much juice as possible.   If you’re concerned about the waste, you can use the leftover pulp to make veggie burgers and I will be posting a recipe for those soon.

My daughter was here visiting from California recently and we got into the habit of preparing a daily green juice.  I love them more and more as the weather gets warmer because they’re refreshing, energizing, and can help with your body’s cleansing process.   The juice below is one we prepared the most and I like it for its anti-inflammatory ingredients, like ginger, parsley, and tumeric.  Play around with the veggies and fruits or simply use whatever you’ve got because juicing is one of the best ways to get large quantities of vegetables into your diet. 

Anti-inflammatory Juice

2 carrots
1 cucumber
1 tart, green apple
2 stalks of celery
½ a lemon
a handful of fresh parsley  
1 inch piece of ginger

Wash, trim, and peel the vegetables (if not organic) and pass through the juicer.  Pour into a nice glass and sprinkle with tumeric.   Slowly enjoy the healthy decadence.

Some variations: 

  •        add in additional greens such as kale, collards, or spinach;
  •         include a small beet - this will change the color completely;
  •         use a sweeter apple, like a pink lady or Fuji, or a crisp pear;
  •        sprinkle with other spices such as paprika, curry powder, or cayenne pepper, or add a drop or two of tobasco sauce

Note:  if you don’t have a juicer, use your blender and strain the mixture through a colander. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Fruit and Nut Truffles

Lately, whenever I’ve wanted something sweet, I’d whip up a batch of these.  They’re quick to make and just as good with the substitutions in parentheses.  To minimize messy hands, I now shape them into perfect little mounds using a small cookie scoop.  The batter could also be pressed into a small pan, chilled, and cut into small squares. 

I love the combination of orange with the chocolate and fruit but it can easily be left out or swapped for almond or maybe some cinnamon.  Try them as an after school snack for the kids, or as a sweet treat after lunch or dinner.  They also travel well; I took them on a plane trip and they made it wonderfully.

Fruit and Nut Truffles

1 c raisins or dates
1 c walnuts
¼ c chopped good quality dark chocolate (or 2 T cocoa powder)
2 T unsweetened coconut
1 t vanilla
few drops orange extract (or 1 t orange zest)

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor until mixture gets crumbly.  Form teaspoon sized portions into tight balls or pack the mixture into a small cookie scoop to form more uniform mounds.  Chill to set and store in an airtight container in fridge.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tangy Tahini Sauce

As much as I enjoy using tahini in recipes, it wasn’t until my daughter showed up for a visit last month that it became a daily staple in the kitchen.  I normally use it to make hummus and she’ll use it plain as a condiment.  Below, she created this combination that works as a delicious dipping sauce or dressing for salads, meats and fish, vegetables, wraps, and whatever else you can think of that can use a little zing.   I've used it on a kale salad, on salmon, and on this tempeh, cabbage, and kale dish that's one of my favorite quick meals.  

The recipe below makes about 1.5 cups of sauce and is easily scalable. 

Tahini Dressing or Sauce

1/3 c fresh squeezed lemon juice
½ c tahini
¼ c sesame oil
½ c plus 2 T water
1 t curry powder
2 t cumin
1 t garlic powder
¼ t paprika
¼ t pepper
½ t salt

Whisk all the ingredients together in a glass or ceramic bowl until well blended.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge.  

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Recipe Makeover - Shepherd's Pie

One of the simplest and least invasive ways to eat healthier is to upgrade the meals you’re already eating using healthier ingredients.  This way, you can still enjoy the dishes you like as you begin to also explore new foods. 

Growing up, Shepherd’s Pie was a regular on our dinner table.  Truth be told, I didn’t like it.  The original recipe began with cooked ground beef and onions.  Layered on top of that was a can or two of creamed corn, followed by a thick layer of mashed potatoes.  It was baked in the oven until the top got a little crispy and was usually eaten with ketchup. 

Even to this day, I won’t eat this traditional version of Shepherd’s Pie, yet, the other day, I asked my daughter what she wanted to make for dinner and her answer was, you guessed it - ‘The Pie”.  Thankfully, she was all about a recipe makeover too, to make it more palatable for me and we were both on the same wavelength when we came up with the recipe below. 

We preplaced the standard ground beef with organic ground turkey and added chopped celery in with the onions.  For the middle layer, we eliminated the sugary creamed corn and instead combined half of the onions and celery with frozen organic corn and peas as well as fresh, chopped carrots.   My favorite part was the top layer.  We roasted cauliflower and sweet potatoes and combined them for a sweeter yet less dense topping that carries a lower glycemic load than the traditional potatoes.

In the end, we have a cleaner, fresher, and I think, tastier version of one of my family’s favorites that doesn’t need condiments.   Since this dish requires a fair amount of work, my suggestion is to make a large pan and either have it for leftovers throughout the week, or freeze some for later.  Believe it or not, though, this dish did not last long...

Shepherd’s Pie

1 head organic cauliflower, washed and cut into florets
2 large sweet potatoes, washed, peeled, and chopped into 1” pieces
olive or coconut oil
1 lb organic ground turkey
1 large Spanish onion, chopped small
2-3 stalks celery, washed, ends trimmed and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup frozen organic corn (or fresh removed from cob if in season)
1 cup frozen organic peas
2-3 large carrots, washed, peeled, and sliced into quarters lengthwise, then diced
sea salt

Combine the cauliflower florets and sweet potatoes in a bowl.  Drizzle with oil and a dash of salt, stir to coat well, then transfer the mixture in a single layer to a baking dish and bake at 350 degrees F for ~45 min, or until both vegetables are tender.  Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, brown the turkey in a frying pan, adding herbs such as oregano and thyme if desired.  Transfer the meat to a bowl and sauté the onions, celery and garlic in the pan drippings until tender, adding a small amount of oil if necessary.  

Transfer half of the vegetables to the meat and combine.  Spread the meat into an oiled 13 x 9 baking dish.

To the remaining onions and celery, add the corn, carrots, and peas and a just enough chicken or vegetable broth to steam the vegetables.  Cook covered over medium heat until the carrots are almost cooked through.  Add salt and pepper to taste and layer the mixture on top of the meat. 

While the vegetables are steaming, place the cauliflower and sweet potatoes into a food processor and process until smooth.  Add a bit of broth or milk for a thinner consistency if necessary.   Spread the potato/cauliflower mixture on the meat and vegetables. 

Bake the pie in a 350 degree F oven until heated through, ~30-45 minutes.  Serve with sautéed greens and/or a crisp green salad.

You may also like:  Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Blueberry Quinoa Muffins

Lately, I’ve gotten into the habit of always having some cooked quinoa in the fridge because I’m never more than a few minutes away from a healthy meal.  For example, in the time it took to saute vegetables, I had this nice Confetti Quinoa ready.

In addition, there are so many unexpected ways to use it, like in the salmon burgers I made last night, and in the blueberry quinoa muffins below.  A friend emailed me for a blueberry muffin recipe and since I happened to have quinoa in the fridge, I was able to whip these up in no time.

By using a combination of whole grain spelt and buckwheat flours in this recipe, you’ll be reducing the gluten.  The quinoa will add protein and fiber, making them more filling, and you'll barely know it’s there…

Blueberry Quinoa Muffins

Dry ingredients:
1 ¼ cup whole grain spelt flour
½ cup buckwheat flour
½ c sugar like sucanat or turbinado sugar
1 ½ t baking powder
1 t  sea or Himalayan salt
1 t cinnamon
½ t cardamom

Wet ingredients:
¼ c coconut oil or butter, melted
1 large egg
1 c unsweetened almond milk
1 t vanilla
2 c cooked quinoa, cooled

1 c fresh blueberries
½  c chopped walnuts, optional

1.  Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix with a wire whisk. 

2.  In a separate larger bowl, combine the wet ingredients and mix well. 

3.  Gently fold in the dry ingredients and mix just until they are incorporated.  Fold in the blueberries and walnuts.

4.  Fill lightly greased muffin tins ¾ full with batter.  Bake at 350°F for ~20 min, or until cooked through.   Let cool slightly before removing from the pan.