asparagus and black beans salad with ginger and lemon


It’s Spring! yet after a few days of lovely warm sunshine, it’s now gray out, cool and wet again. Sigh. Cooking with the seasons– and in sync with my internal energy levels based on my personal local environment and activity level– is harder when the temperatures whiplash up and down. With this in mind, for this meal I chose warming and grounding black beans with ginger and brown rice, paired with bright lemon and Spring asparagus. The peppery arugula was a perfect complement, and a nice stimulant to the liver for “Spring cleaning” too.

ingredients:

  • 1 lb asparagus, woody ends removed then cut into 2 inch lengths
  • 1 16oz can organic black beans, well rinsed
  • 2/3 cup brown Basmati rice
  • 1 lb firm tofu, rinsed and cubed
  • green onions, chopped
  • 2 T fresh ginger root, diced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • black and red pepper, sea salt to taste
  • 1 lemon
  • mix of baby spinach and arugula

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instructions:

Rinse rice, cover with 1 1/2 c fresh water and a dash of salt, bring to boil, then cover and reduce heat to simmer until water is absorbed, about 35-40 minutes. Remove from heat, fluff with fork. While the rice cooks, saute the tofu and chopped green onions in 2 T olive oil until the tofu is lightly browned. Set aside in a covered casserole dish together with the rinsed black beans and cooked rice. Melt 2 T butter (or olive oil for vegans) and saute the minced garlic and ginger for just 1 minute, then add asparagus and cook for 3-5 minutes depending on the thickness of the stems, turning continually until asparagus is just al dente– slightly browned on the outside and still a bit crunchy inside.  Add cooked asparagus to the casserole dish and mix all together well. This will hold well if covered and refrigerated for 1-2 days. I served this over a bed of baby spinach and arugula, dressed with a drizzle of olive oil and fresh lemon.

tempeh & root veggies with lemon and sunflower seed butter


I went grocery shopping in a cold 50F downpour, knowing the forecast called for a quick blast to a single day of sunshine and 80F. Thus bridging seasons and needing something fulfilling, as I looked at the vegetables available to make a satisfying one pot meal, I chose a spring leek and summery yellow pepper, cauliflower and root vegetables, lemon and sunflower seed butter. Yum!

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Ingredients:

  • 12 oz tempeh, cubed
  • 1 medium leek, chopped
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 Jalapeno pepper, with seeds, diced
  • 1 medium jewel yam, pared and chopped
  • 1 medium turnip, chopped
  • 1 small rutabaga, chopped
  • 1 small head cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 fresh lemon
  • black pepper to taste
  • sunflower seed butter
  • mixed greens (baby spinach, mizuna, chard and kale)

instructions:

Saute chopped tempeh in 2-3 T olive oil ’til brown, then remove to large casserole dish with lid. Saute chopped leek for 2-3 minutes, stirring ’til lightly browned, and set aside with tempeh. Using same frypan, saute yam, rutabaga, and turnip with minced garlic and diced jalapeno pepper for 3-4 minutes, then add a tablespoon or two of water, cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 4-5 minutes until root veggies are just soft but not mushy. Remove to casserole dish. Using same frypan, saute chopped cauliflower for 2-3 minutes, then add tablespoon of rice vinegar, cover and simmer for another 2 minutes or so until just soft; remove to casserole dish. Lastly add yellow pepper to the frypan and saute for 2-3 minutes or so, until brightened and slightly softened. Remove to casserole dish and stir all together well. May be refrigerated in a closed container before serving, warm or cold, over a bed of mixed greens (I used some heartier greens and some with peppery zip), dressed with the juice of the lemon, and several happy informal dollops of sunflower seed butter (as I wasn’t inclined at the time to prepare a separate dressing.) For extra protein and crunch, serve garnished with walnuts.

Tuscan white bean soup


I’ve just returned from a lovely spring vacation– adventuring in Paris, Florence, and the Tuscany region. So much yummy food and wine, so much fun! Now home in the Pacific Northwest, I’m tired from long days out exploring, late nights having fun, and most of all from jet lag; I made it to my favorite grocery store and mowed my crazy long grass my first day back. The weeds in my garden will wait another day while I cook some nurturing food, channeling Tuscany. I love eating out in other cultures, and love cooking just as much.

ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 dried cannelli beans
  • 1 head Lacinato kale, stems removed, cut into ribbons
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 small turnip, chopped
  • 1 small rutabaga, chopped
  • 1 14 oz fire roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 3 T tomato paste
  • 6-7 leaves fresh sage, finely chopped, or 1 T dried
  • 1-2 t basil
  • 1/3 c fine corn meal
  • juice of 1/2 large lemon
  • 1/4 t salt, fresh black pepper to taste

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instructions:

Cull and clean dried beans, then soak overnight in fresh cold water. Drain, cover with water, and simmer for an 1- 1 1/2 hours or so until soft. Remove from heat. Saute chopped onion in 2-3 T olive oil in a large soup pot for 2 minutes, then add minced garlic and spices and stir for another minute or so. Add 1/2 of cooked beans with 1/2 of their fluid, the chopped turnip and rutabaga, the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir together well. Puree the other half of the beans and their liquid, then add puree to soup pot. Place lid on, and simmer for 10 minutes or so, until root vegetables are softened but not mushy. Place corn meal in a measuring cup, add the lemon juice, then fill with cold water to make 1 cup, whisking together well. Add to soup pot, stir well, then add chopped kale; cover and simmer for 5 minutes or so until kale is bright green and softened, but not mushy. Remove from heat. Serve topped with grated Pecorino Romano cheese, a Tuscan Sangiovese wine, and simple green salad with walnuts and black olives.

spelt balls with figs, apricots, walnuts and pumpkin seeds


This Valentines Day I wanted to create something special for my partner, a healthy treat to enjoy with a good cup of coffee or tea at work… My recipe was inspired by Speltbolletje that we img_3805-1stumbled upon in December at an open air morning market while on vacation in Amsterdam– a local woman waiting beside me said they were the Best item made by the Best baker at the market. Her guidance was great, the Speltbolletje were delicious!

I could translate the words on the signs, and then guess how to create my own… Here’s my first attempt. YUM! These are a good texture and sweet with the dried fruit, so delicious with dark coffee for breakfast, or tea for an afternoon pick-me-up. I think all I’d do differently next time is swap out a little of the dates for more walnuts, and double or triple the recipe.

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To make a less sweet version, I think I’ll try using some juicy fresh orange instead of the banana, reduce the maple syrup by half, add more walnuts and also sunflower seeds?

ingredients:

  • 1 c spelt flour
  • 1/2 c rolled oats
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/8 t sea salt
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t each nutmeg, coriander and allspice
  • 3 T butter
  • 1 T coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 T maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 banana, mashed
  • generous 1/3 c dried black Mission figs, chopped
  • 1/4 c dried Turkish apricots, chopped
  • scant 1/4 c dried Medjool dates, chopped
  • 1/4 c yellow raisins
  • scant 1/4 c walnuts, chopped
  • about 2/3 c raw pumpkin seeds

instructions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Melt butter and coconut oil over low heat, then add maple syrup, let cool a bit. Combine flour, oats, and spices, stir together well. Beat egg, add mashed banana, then beat together well with melted butter, coconut oil and maple syrup. Add in flour mixture and mix briefly and gently, then add all chopped fruit and walnuts. Stir together well, but stir as little as possible. Lightly butter a baking sheet. Shape dough into a ball in your hand, then roll in pumpkin seeds pressing firmly enough that the pumpkin seeds will stay in place after baking. I baked for 10 minutes, rotated my pan, then baked for another 5 minutes– and the balls then passed my first toothpick test. My taster ball was delicious right out of the oven! This recipe made 10, each ball about 2 1/4-2 1/2 inch in size.

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inspired carrot spread


While on vacation in Portugal with my daughter and our partners, torrential rain and gusty winds diverted us one day to the Chiado Museum Nacional de Arte Contemporanea where we truly enjoyed seeing the “Paradoxical Image” photography exhibit of Francisco Afonso Chaves’ (1857-1926). Some of the other disconcerting displays not so much– those led us to seek dry comfort and a good meal to revive our joie de vivre.

fullsizeoutput_16d7Thanks to Google we found Cafe Lisboa nearby. Oh my, what a find! The place itself is lovely, the food sublime starting with the freshly baked bread and carrot spread. I tried to isolate the complementary flavors in the luxuriously textured spread… then complimented the chef and asked the server, what were the ingredients please for the delicious carrot spread? Here now while the memory is fresh are my thoughts for my first attempt at recreating the simple yet inspired treat.

ingredients:

  • carrots
  • cream
  • vinegar – I’ll try rice vinegar, with perhaps just a few drops of Balsalmic
  • garlic – just a little
  • cumin
  • black pepper

instructions:

I’ll update this post as I play with this recipe…

vegetarian lentil soup- revisited


A cold rainy night and a potluck dinner with extended family, old friends and new – that calls for big pots of chile and vegetarian lentil soup. This lentil soup has been my favorite for as long as some of those childhood friendships! It’s healthy and satisfying, smells and tastes great, is inexpensive and easy to make, and a virtual “bottomless pot” as it’s delicious as a thick stew or as you add more water while it simmers to feed more people. Goes great with a glass of red wine or a chilled microbrew, a mixed green salad or a bowl of chips, depending on who shows up.

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ingredients:

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 medium red potato, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3 red Serrano or red thai hot peppers, minced
  • 1 medium rutabaga, chopped
  • 1 medium turnip, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 cups lentils, culled and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup brown basmati rice
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2-3 T each oregano, basil, thyme, and sage to taste
  • 2-3 T red cider vinegar
  • 1 t salt and fresh black pepper to taste, added after soup is cooked
  • Parmesan cheese

instructions:

In large 5 quart soup pot with lid, saute chopped onions and red potato in 2-3 T olive oil. After 2-3 minutes add minced garlic and red peppers, chopped rutabaga, turnip, carrots, and celery, oregano, basil, thyme, and sage, continuing to saute for 2-3 minutes. Add carefully culled and rinsed lentils and basmati rice, stir well. Add canned tomatoes including juice and red cider vinegar. Put 8 cups water on the stove top to heat til near but not boiling, then add 6 cups to the soup pot and stir well. Cover and bring to simmer, then lower heat and cook with lid just slightly cracked open for 1 hour-1.5 hours or so, checking and stirring occasionally. Add more water as it cooks, getting all 8 cups in to create a thick stew, or yet more water to create a thick soup. Test rutabaga, carrots, and lentils for doneness. Once vegetables are soft, lentils and rice fully cooked, add 1 t salt and fresh black pepper to taste. Serve topped with Parmesan cheese. Tastes even better the next day. Freezes well.

buckwheat pumpkin bread with cranberries & yellow raisins


Wanting to further explore baking gluten free and jonesing for pumpkin bread that is healthy, I searched but couldn’t find a recipe that meet all my criteria when I think of “healthy”. I wanted to avoid making a dense flat bread as sometimes happens with gluten free recipes. I did not want a cakey bread or a loaf that would crumble apart or was oily, and I didn’t want to use sugar or honey. I did want to use black strap molasses and all the spices that smell so wonderful, with pumpkin and cranberries because, well really, it’s the end of October, it’s cold and rainy and I want a healthy hearty slice of toasted bread with soup for dinner, or for a dessert treat with a good cup of tea. I took a swing and … oh my, this rose beautifully, holds together well, and is so good!

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ingredients

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t sea salt
  • 1 generous t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t allspice
  • 1/2 t coriander
  • 1 generous cup canned organic pumpkin puree
  • 3 T butter, melted
  • 1 T organic coconut oil, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 banana, mashed
  • 1 T blackstrap molasses
  • 1 T organic maple syrup
  • 1 c fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup yellow raisins

instructions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Measure and combine the buckwheat flour, oat flour, and the spices, stirring together well. Melt the butter and coconut oil over low heat. Beat the eggs, then mix in the mashed banana, the molasses and maple syrup, the melted butter and oil, and pumpkin. Alternately add the flour and spice mixture with the cranberries, walnuts and raisins, stirring lightly just until fully mixed.

Lightly butter a baking pan–I used a glass 8.5 x 5 x 3 inch pan– then fill 2/3 with batter. Bake 45 minutes, check with a toothpick and continue baking another 10 minutes or so   until it passes the toothpick test. Cool in pan on rack for five minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely. I sliced this thickly into 11 slices then wrapped the loaf in wax paper in a freezer bag. It freezes well. I did the math, and it came out to 204 calories per slice, with 4 g of fiber and 6 g of protein.