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.

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.

 

corona bean salad with lemon, basil & garlic, haricot verts and yellow pepper


Having just returned from a lovely spring trip to Paris then Florence, I am enthused by all the incredibly delicious French and Italian food we enjoyed! I’m also eager to see how I could incorporate more of the wonderful ingredients and combinations of flavors in my home cooking.

First up was my determination to source big beautiful Italian Corona beans– so buttery in texture, and seemingly versatile! After I found them locally, of course I wanted fresh basil and garlic with my Corona beans… It’s a wet Spring here in the Pacific NW, so French green beans — haricot verts– were a logical choice too for this bean salad over hardy mixed greens. A bright Tuscan sun yellow pepper, black olives, and red onion rounded out the picture in my mind, with photo here now for posterity. So simple, and so good. (Having enjoyed so much good cheese on our trip, of course I was tempted to garnish this with Pecorino Romano– now in my fridge. I resisted the urge this time, acknowledging it would be tasty.)

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ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups dried Corona beans
  • 1 lb haricot verts, chopped 1 in long
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6-8 large leaves fresh basil
  • 1 t fresh lemon thyme, diced
  • 1 lemon
  • black olives, quartered
  • fresh ground green pepper to taste

instructions:

Cull then rinse beans, cover with fresh water and allow to soak for 24 hours. Rinse, cover with fresh water, bring to boil, then simmer uncovered for about 1 1/2-2 hours, until beans are soft. Turn off heat, allow to cool in water. Drain, set aside in casserole dish. Saute  garlic for 1 minute in olive oil, then add haricot verts and continue to saute, stirring over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add a couple tablespoons of water, cover, reduce heat and simmer until beans are bright green and just slightly softened, about 2-3 minutes. Remove haricot verts to casserole dish. Saute chopped yellow pepper with lemon thyme and basil for about 3 minutes, until bright yellow and slightly soft, add to casserole dish, together with chopped red onion and black olives, stirring all together well. Dress with lemon juice and pulp, a drizzle of olive oil, ground green pepper to taste.

 

yellow split pea dal over rainbow chard


When Autumn arrives and the leaves start to fall along with night temperatures, I feel the cold even when my house thermometer says I should be comfortably warm. It doesn’t matter that I’m active and put on a comfy smart wool shirt and light down sweater coat. Afternoons I start to crave Good Earth herbal tea and savory dinners…

A heavy rainstorm forecast and yellow leaves swirling in the wind this last weekend made me think to make a yellow split pea dal with a kick of Indian spices. Happily it turned out delicious, and I never lost my power.

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One of the many great things about yellow split pea dal is that dried split peas don’t require soaking before cooking, and they cook in 30 minutes, a much shorter time required than for dried beans. They’re high in protein and dietary fiber, satisfying and healthy; I did the math and calculated this recipe has 310 calories per cup served over a cup of rainbow chard. I made a large pot of the dal, and served it on a bed of rainbow chard leaves cut into ribbons topped with 1/4 cup of Bhutanese Red Rice for an easy “one bowl” meal. Leftovers taste great, and it freezes well.

ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup yellow split peas
  • 1 large jewel yam, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 bunch rainbow chard
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 medium red Serrano pepper, diced with seeds
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1 t black mustard seeds
  • 3/4 t cardamom
  • 1 1/2 t cumin
  • 1 t turmeric
  • 1/4 t salt, black pepper to taste

instructions:

Cull through then rinse split peas well, cover with 4 cups fresh water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer covered for about 25 minutes, until quite soft.

Cut thick stems out of rainbow chard. Chop the stems and set aside. Cut the chard leaves into thin ribbons and set aside.

In a large soup pot with 1-2 T olive oil over medium heat, add the mustard seeds and allow them to heat up til they just start to pop. Add onions, garlic, and all spices, and stir until onions begin to turn translucent. Add the chopped yam, stir to coat well with spices, add a few tablespoons of water, reduce heat and cover to simmer until softened, about 4 minutes. Add yellow peppers, celery, and chopped chard stems, cover and simmer another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat. When split peas are soft, drain their water into a measuring cup to use later. Add split peas to large pot of spiced vegetables, stir to mix all together well, then add the cooking fluid from the split peas to obtain your desired consistency of dal.

Serve in a bowl over a lovely pile of chard cut into ribbons, and with Bhutanese red rice for a more substantial meal.

garden tomato & hot pepper soup


The warm days are ripening the last of my garden tomatoes and hot peppers, and the cooler nights tell me it’s the season again to roast some veggies and make a savory soup! I decided to make a tomato soup to enjoy with buckwheat zucchini bread, perhaps too a little grilled salmon?

ingredients:

  • 12-14 medium-large roma and heirloom tomatoes
  • handful or two of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 3-4 large cloves garlic
  • 2 large red serrano peppers
  • 2 small red thai peppers
  • fresh lemon thyme, oregano and marjoram
  • 1/4 t salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2-4 c water or stock
  • toasted pumpkin seeds for garnish
  • 1 cup spinach, cut into thin ribbons

instructions:

Cut roma tomatoes in half, heirloom tomatoes into quarters, cut onion into half then 1/4 inch slices, and place all into large bowl. Dice the fresh lemon thyme, oregano and marjoram leaves until you have about 2 T each. Pour olive oil over tomatoes, whole peppers and peeled whole garlic, add diced spices and mix well. Place on lightly oiled baking sheet and roast at 375 until tomatoes soften and onions caramelize– check after about  10 minutes. When all are nicely roasted, remove from oven and allow to cool some. Press roasted garlic into blender, roughly chop the the roasted onions, then puree all in the blender in batches, being careful not to fill the blender full with too hot vegetables. Return to large soup pot. Depending upon desired thickness and intensity of flavors, add fresh water (or stock you have on hand) a cup at a time to fine tune the soup’s texture and flavor. Season with freshly ground black pepper. To serve, place 1/4 c spinach cut into thin ribbons into a deep bowl then ladle in soup and garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds.

warming red lentil dal with ginger, yam & cauliflower


It’s the spring equinox today, a time to celebrate balance, warmth and hope. Today it’s also cool and wet, the sky dark gray, the earth and my garden muddy. Thinking about balance in our diet, and wanting to make a warming and bright meal to celebrate the equinox, I made this to share.

ingredients:

  • 1 cup red lentils IMG_1395
  • 2-3 shallots, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 t turmeric
  • 1-2 t curry powder
  • 1 t cumin
  • 2-3 t fresh ginger, finely minced
  • 1 jewel yam, cut into 1/4″rounds then pared, cut into chunks
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1/4-1/2 head cauliflower
  • 6 oz coconut milk
  • 6 cups fresh spinach
  • 1/2 lemon, squeezed, for optional dressing

instructions:

Cull through and rinse lentils, then cover with 2 1/2 c fresh water. Add a dash of salt, bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until fully softened and water is mostly absorbed. Set aside uncovered. Saute shallots in 2T or so of olive oil in a large frying pan until they start to turn translucent, then add chopped yam, minced garlic, turmeric, curry powder, cumin, and black pepper; continue to saute for another 2 minutes until spices are fragrant and yam is well coated with spices. Add several tablespoons of water, cover and reduce heat to steam yam for about 12 minutes until softened (but not dissolved into mush). When yam is soft, remove from pan into large casserole dish with lid, then stir in cooked lentils. Using same frying pan, saute chopped celery and cauliflower with minced ginger for about 2-3 minutes, then add the coconut milk and yellow pepper, stir to combine well, cover and steam for about 3 minutes until peppers turn bright and begin to soften. Add this to casserole dish, stir everything together well. Serve over fresh raw spinach.