chilled carrot ginger & sunflower seed coconut balls for your sweet tooth


Yesterday I saw a facebook post from a friend out for a cool treat– an awesome looking seriously chocolate mousse-like cake with an icy adult beverage topped with whipped cream. Oh my, taste bud envy! Mindful of the impact of a super cold and sugary ice cream treat on the gut, I reflected on what would be a healthier option to satisfy my sweet tooth as this heat wave wears on and on…  and remembered this recipe. Ginger, coconut and lemon tropical cool sweetness! I’ll make this again, and keep looking for new treat options…  Here’s that recipe as originally posted:

Dinner and dessert at my friend Sharon’s house led to my discovery of the Living Candida Free cookbook by Ricki Heller, PhD, RHN…. and thus to this, my first attempt making my own modified version of her Carrot Balls recipe. Yum! My guests and I devoured these fast, and I think even my hardcore chocolate loving, non-vegan, non-gluten free, unabashedly desert centered sister would like these. A lot.

ingredients:

  • 3/4t fresh ginger root, finely chopped
  • 1 c raw unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/8 t cardamon
  • 2 t ground flaxseeds
  • 2 T coconut for balls, plus additional 6-8 T coconut for rolling balls in.
  • 1 T plus 1t lemon zest
  • 3 t lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 t blackstrap molasses
  • 1 t water, as necessary or skip the water and increase the lemon juice
  • 6-7 T fresh finely grated carrot

instructions:

Using a food processor, finely chop fresh ginger root, then add sunflower seeds, spices, ground flaxseeds, and coconut. Process until medium fine. Then add finely grated lemon zest, lemon juice, and molasses until it just comes together as dough– it will be rather heavy. Add carrot and pulse to mix evenly. Don’t be frightened by its dense texture! Form into small balls, then roll each ball in a small bowl of the additional coconut to coat well. Refrigerate in an airtight Tupperware type container until firm and chilled. Makes 18-20 balls, with 2-4 balls being a perfect dessert serving.

My guests and I all thought these were a great dessert. I think they’d be wonderful too for a light breakfast snack if I need a little energy before going to an early morning yoga class.

quinoa tempeh salad with plums, Serrano, mint, lime & pistachios


An extended heat wave wears away my energy in so many ways, including my desire to cook other than minimalist stovetop prep early in the morning. I find I have less appetite beyond munching on veggies and cool berries, yet know I still need to get good protein. I’ve been enjoying  wonderful nectarines recently for breakfast with plain yogurt, a handful of fresh blueberries and chopped walnuts. Seeing beautiful plums at the market made me think it was time for this quinoa salad with plums, cooling mint and fresh lime, and quinoa, tempeh and pistachios that make it a protein powerhouse while still being light. Served over a bed of fresh lettuce from the garden, it’s a full nutrient, light yet satisfying meal. This salad will be best when made with a variety of plum that is firm and tart to sweet-tart, rather than super sweet and juicy.

  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 package tempeh, cubed and sauted in 2 T olive oil
  • 4 large dark plums, coarsely chopped
  • 1 small bunch green onions, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 6-8 fresh mint leaves, diced
  • 1/2 Serrano pepper, minced
  • 1 lime, juice and pulp
  • 1/2 cup pistachio nuts, as garnish immediately before serving.

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instructions:

Rinse quinoa very well. Bring 2 cups of fresh water with a pinch of salt and quinoa just to a boil, then simmer on low heat for about 18 minutes until all fluid absorbed. Remove from heat, fluff with fork, allow to cool uncovered. Saute chopped tempeh in 2T olive oil, then transfer to casserole dish with airtight lid. Chop all remaining ingredients, then stir all together with cooked and cooled quinoa. Dress with juice and pulp of lime. If desired, press or finely mince 2-3 slices of fresh ginger root, add to scant 1/8 cup olive oil with a bit of fresh ground pepper for dressing. Refrigerate in air tight container. Serve garnished with pistachios, or another good alternative for garnish would be crumbled feta or roquefort cheese.

chilled broccoli soup with zucchini, caraway seed, basil, and lemon


While I had my morning coffee, I opened my house to cool with the morning breeze and quickly made this soup, chilling now for a refreshing dinner and lunch tomorrow during this heat wave! It was my first attempt at a vegan chilled broccoli soup, and I think it’s going to be very tasty, even better after the flavors have melded while chilling today. This made enough for 6 good sized bowls, next time I’ll try doubling the recipe and freezing some.

ingredients:

  • 1 medium head broccoli, chopped
  • 1 cup or so of zucchini, chopped
  • 1 medium red potato, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped or grated
  • 1 medium leek, chopped
  • 1 t caraway seed
  • 1/2 t black mustard seeds
  • 1 t fresh ginger root, diced
  • 4 medium fresh basil leaves, diced
  • 1/4 t salt, black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 large lemon, juice and pulp
  • 5 c water

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instructions:

Pare away any tough outer skin from broccoli stalks, then chop stalks and flowerets. Chop and dice all other ingredients. I happened to have some left over fresh zucchini, so I added that too, and I think looking back it was a good addition for both taste and texture. Saute leek and red potato in 2 T olive oil for 2 minutes, then add caraway seed and ginger root, continue to stir for 3-4 minutes until potato just begins to almost brown. Add chopped celery, carrot, zucchini, basil, and broccoli stalks and flowerets along with 1/4 t salt and 5 cups of fresh water brought first almost – but not to- a boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered to retain nutrients until potatoes, carrots, and broccoli stems are soft, about 5 minutes. Add juice and pulp of 1/2 lemon and black pepper. After taste testing, I added another 1/4 t salt, for health given that it is so hot now, and to complement the taste of all these veggies when served chilled. Remove from heat and cool — not wanting to add any unnecessary heat to my kitchen, I literally took my hot soup pot and placed it outside on a hot pad on my wooden deck bench to cool for a bit. Once cooled some, blend in batches until smooth.

This soup has a nice texture and fragrance. Refrigerate and serve chilled. I may try this garnished with a dollop of organic Euoropean style plain yogurt, for flavor and some protein, or garnish with roasted pumpkin seeds.  I may serve it with a small dish of chilled blueberries and walnuts? Yum, light and also satisfying.

yellow squash, snap peas, peppers and mint quinoa salad


Hot and Hotter: our ten day forecast shows high’s in the 90’s or 100’s, two of those days expected to be record breaking at 107F. That’s too hot for me! With an overnight low of 70F, the house and I don’t have a chance to cool off much. Early morning is clearly the time for me to get my food prep done, also walk my dogs, and water the garden.

Early yesterday morning I harvested from the garden too, before the excessive heat took its toll: lettuce and broccoli, yellow crooked neck squash, snap peas, basil and mint. One blessing of the heat is that my tomatoes and hot peppers will ripen so I can start to enjoy those too! For today and tomorrow, I’ll make some light cool and cooling meals from the garden– complemented with cooling hot peppers, mint and lemon. Ahhh…

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ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1-2 medium yellow crooked neck squash, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1-2 cups sugar snap peas
  • 1-2 stalks celery, chopped thinly
  • 2-3 shallots, diced
  • 1/2 medium Serrano pepper, diced
  • 1 t fresh ginger root, diced
  • 4-6 medium mint fresh leaves, diced
  • 1/2 lemon
  • walnuts or feta cheese

instructions:

Rinse quinoa well, cover with a generous cup of fresh water and dash of salt, bring to boil then simmer covered over low heat about 18 minutes, until all water is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff with fork. Saute chopped shallots in 1-2 T butter or olive oil for 2-3 minutes until just starts to lightly brown, then transfer to casserole dish with airtight lid. Using same pan, saute chopped yellow squash for 3-4 minutes, then add the diced ginger root and Serrano pepper with a couple tablespoons white wine (I used an open bottle of Pinot Grigio), cover and simmer until the squash softens a bit, but is not mushy, about 2 minutes. Remove squash to casserole dish. Turn the heat up a little and saute the chopped yellow pepper for about 2 minutes, just until it brightens. Add to casserole dish, mix all together well, and dress with juice and pulp of lemon. Refrigerate. I served this chilled over a bed of lettuce, topped with walnuts and sheep feta, with a cool glass of Pinot Grigio for dinner, then with fresh mint infused water for lunch the next day.

 

green pea soup with turnip & leek, mint and lemon thyme


This record setting long and wet Spring dovetailed with my lovely vacation in Paris and Tuscany, which means my vegetable starts were germinated and transplanted late. My garden is now boldly trying to catch up and/or make it through these periodic brief mid- to upper-80F days that are brutal for the earlier season vegetable varieties. I gambled and planted sweet peas late, will simply have to wait and see how the season comes on and if they can thrive…

I spotted plump fresh organic green peas at the market only a few hours after I had assessed my garden; I couldn’t resist picking those up, and rounded out my purchase with a leek, turnip, and large red potato. It was a cool and wet day, and I was thinking soup– Yes, I adore soup, warming and nurturing when it’s cold out, cooling and refreshing on stellar hot days. Reflecting, I realized I’d never made a fresh pea soup, only dried split pea soup! Here was my opportunity… I liked what I created; my partner’s first thought with a taster spoon from the pot was “Good! but perhaps less mint next time?” But when I served dinner, his bowl was quickly emptied. I especially liked mine drizzled with a little European style plain tart yogurt. I expected this would be great served cold on a warm day too, and that this batch along with the current weather forecast would allow me to test both warm and chilled serving options. Sure enough, when I tried it served chilled, I thought it was delicious.

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ingredients:

  • 3 cups fresh peas
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 1 turnip, chopped
  • 1 large red potato, chopped
  • 4-5 cups fresh water
  • 12 medium leaves fresh mint, diced
  • 3 large sprigs fresh lemon thyme leaves
  • 1/2 large lemon
  • 1/8 t sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • European style plain tart yogurt

instructions:

Cover peas with 4 cups water, bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer covered for 2-3 minutes, just until peas are bright and becoming soft. Set aside. Meanwhile, using large soup pot, saute chopped leek, turnip, and red potato in 2T butter and a drizzle of olive oil, until leek is translucent and potatoes are beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add several tablespoons or so of white wine, cover and reduce heat; steam about 3 minutes, until red potatoes and turnip have softened, but are not mushy. Then combine cooked peas and all of their liquid into the soup pot, mix all together well, and allow to cool. (This is an important nutrient step: When you cook vegetables in water, much of the vitamins are lost into the water. Thus you want to retain the steam by covering while cooking, and use the cooking water in the recipe.) Once cooled some for safe blending, puree in blender in small batches, and return to soup pot. Assess thickness, and adjust as necessary with additional water just off boil. Add the juice of the lemon, sea salt, and fresh ground pepper. I wanted my soup fairly thick yet smooth. You may like yours not quite as thick and with a cup or so of fresh cooked peas added after you’ve pureed? If so, cook more peas and set some aside. I served this drizzled with a little European style plain tart yogurt and fresh thyme leaves, together with a mixed green salad with walnuts, currants, and daikon radish, and white wine.

 

 

corona bean salad with asparagus, artichoke hearts, leek and lemon


There are times when things go according to plan, and times when mixing things up on the fly is the better way to achieve your objectives…

Before I last went grocery shopping, I had checked the weather forecast and my calendar; I had plans in mind and a list in hand. Then my intended dinner guest declined to join me for dinner this weekend, and the weather forecast changed significantly– now calling for a 90F day or two. Hmmmm… Knowing it was going to be hot today, and that I needed to prepare my asparagus today if I was going to enjoy eating it, I decided to prepare a dinner salad in the cool of the morning. Yes! a perfect opportunity also to use the remainder of the corona beans I tucked into the freezer last week.

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ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups cooked corona beans
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 1 large bunch asparagus
  • 1 large jar artichoke hearts
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • a little Italian Pinot Grigio
  • 1/2-1 fresh lemon
  • fresh ground black and green pepper
  • mixed salad greens

instructions:

Snap each asparagus spear near its base to remove any woody ends, then delicately pare away any thick skin. Chop coarsely into 1-2 inch long spears. Saute chopped leek for 1-2 minutes in 2T butter and a drizzle of olive oil, then add garlic and asparagus, stir over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add a couple tablespoons white wine, cover, reduce heat, and steam for 2 minutes. Do not overcook, asparagus is never good soggy. Rinse artichoke hearts well, then slice. Mix the cooked corona beans (a logical substitute on the fly would be a can of white kidney beans or garbanzos) together with the leek, asparagus, and sliced artichoke hearts in a casserole dish with airtight lid. Refrigerate ’til meal time! When ready to serve, dress with the juice and pulp of the lemon, also a drizzle of olive oil, and finish with a little fresh ground pepper.

When it’s super hot tonight, I know I’ll be happy I prepared this earlier, and that I met my objectives of preparing healthy, tasty meals, without wasting ingredients. I’ll pour a glass of the chilled Pinot Grigio I’d intended for the weekend, maybe making a little hors d’oeuvre dish of a couple dried apricots or cold orange slices with a handful of walnuts. Then I’ll serve this over mixed greens including baby spinach, chard, kale, and radicchio. Buon appetito!

on breaking bread happily alone together


My daughter has been happily and successfully traveling the world for the last year and a half working as a freelance writer and photographer. As it happened to work out, she’s now in Tuscany, nearby where I recently traveled…
cor·re·spond·ence
noun
  1. a close similarity, connection, or equivalence.
  2. communication by exchanging letters with someone.

We share our news updates and thoughts via email and text; our correspondence is also often in the form of photographs, no words needed to convey the sentiment. We talk on Skype fairly frequently as a morning coffee date here as she has gets ready for dinner there. Healthy, delicious, and beautiful food is something she enjoys as much as I do. I like hearing what food she’s finding and relishing as she travels through varies countries, and it makes me smile to think how recently, when I caught a snotty head cold on a plane, she offered “drink ginger root and lemon tea”. Yes!

These days she’s not looking up her favorite childhood recipes on my blog– she’s a capable and creative cook, and she’s also jamming on article deadlines. And while we are now busy in time zones 9 hours apart, simple correspondence prevails in our daily experience. This was her visual message to me earlier today. I want to call it “Breaking Bread Happily Alone Together” because of course she is there now alone, while I enjoyed a similar experience of lovely brushetta– albeit with Prosciutto– and posted that here just a week ago. Such lovely meals, and such lovely shared experience.

IMG_5131(Photo credit: Lois Parshley)