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.

 

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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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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.

buckwheat zucchini walnut bread


Of course with all the zucchini in my garden I wanted to make zucchini bread! Served toasted with sunflower seed butter for a simple breakfast, or with Tomato and Serrano Pepper soup for a warming dinner– yes, I have lots of tomatoes and hot peppers in my garden too…

I wanted to make something hearty and healthy, gluten free: buckwheat is indeed gluten free (it’s not a member of the wheat family) and packs a healthy dose of protein and fiber. Here’s what I came up with– the carrot and raisins were a nod to my partner who especially likes them.

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ingredients

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • generous 1/2 cup oat flour
  • scant 1/2 cup regular oats
  • 1 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • slim 1/4 t sea salt
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t coriander
  • 1/4 t each nutmeg and cardamom
  • packed 2 cups zucchini, grated
  • 1/2 medium carrot, grated
  • 2 T butter, melted
  • 1 T coconut or canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • scant 2 T honey
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup raisins

instructions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Grate zucchini into colander, squeeze out water, then set aside to allow to drain further. Grate carrot. Set aside. Measure and combine the buckwheat flour, oat flour, and cut oats, and the spices, stirring together well. Melt the butter and coconut oil over low heat. Mash the banana then beat together with the eggs, then mix in the melted butter and oil and honey. Alternately add the flour and spice mixture with the grated vegetables, walnuts and raisins, stirring lightly just until fully mixed.

Lightly butter a baking pan, then fill 2/3 with batter. Bake about 40 minutes, 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 then wrapped the loaf in wax paper in a freezer bag. It freezes well.

a wee bit Irish with potatoes, cabbage, mustard and a twist


Indeed I’ve got a wee bit of Irish heritage. Of course cooking a big pot of food to share is a fine thing to do, for a gathering of friends at St Patrick’s Day or any other time…

ingredients:

  • 4-5 medium sized red potatoes, cut into chunky cubes
  • 1/2-1 head green cabbage, chopped into 1/4″ ribbons
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 12 oz tempeh, cubed
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 t black mustard seeds
  • 1 c walnuts
  • 1 c or so fresh cranberries

instructions:

Saute cubed tempeh in a large heavy bottom frying pan in 2 T olive oil until lightly browned and crispy outside but still moist inside. Set aside in a large serving bowl with lid. Add another 1-2 T olive oil to the pan, add the mustard seeds, then as they begin popping add the red potatoes, onion and garlic to saute until lightly browned; then add 1-2 T water, cover and steam on reduced heat until the red potatoes are soft but not mushy. Set aside with the tempeh. In the same frying pan over medium heat, saute the chopped green cabbage and yellow pepper for about 3 minutes, only until it brightens and softens just a wee bit. Add these to the other ingredients in the serving dish, mix all together well. When ready to serve, heat the 1 c fresh cranberries in just a little water in the microwave briefly or over low heat on the stovetop, only until they brighten and soften just a bit, slightly warmed. Serve these and walnuts generously as garnish. This will keep covered in the refrigerator well for a day or two, although likely there will be no leftovers.

Cooking the cabbage a bit reduces its goitrogenic factor when serving this to those who have low thyroid function. The tempeh and walnuts increase the protein sufficiently for vegetarians making this a “one pot” meal. I buy and freeze cranberries when they are plentiful and on sale during the holidays, then pull them out of the freezer for recipes such as this, to add a pop of tangy flavor and vitamin C.

pumpkin scones


ingedients:
1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c oatmeal
1/4 c brown sugar (not packed)
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
scant 1/4 t sea salt
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1/4 t clove
1/4 c butter (room temperature)
1/4 cup plain Nancy’s yogurt
1 egg
1 t vanilla
1 c pumpkin
1/2 c raisins
1/2 c chopped walnuts

instructions:
Preheat oven to 375, lightly butter cooking sheet.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Cut in butter using a pastry blender or two knives. Achieve finest texture by quickly rubbing flour/butter mixture between two clean dry flat hands. In a small bowl, stir together yogurt, egg and vanilla, add to flour mixture and stir to combine. Stir in the pumpkin, raisins and walnuts. Dough will be sticky, may have to finish mixing by hand.

Spread dough onto wax paper sprinkled with flour. Pat into circle of desired thickness, then cut into wedges. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned. Serve warm with melted butter. Fabulous with roasted root vegetable, fresh cranberry and rainbow chard frittata seasoned with marjoram and sage.

(Recipe based on the carrot scone recipe in Simply Scones by Weiner & Albright, modified on the fly this morning with my breakfast cooking friend Jackie pictured here. Thank you, Jackie.)

pesto


ingredients:
1 1/2-2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup parmesean cheese
1/4 – 1/3 cup walnuts
2-3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil

instructions:
Peel garlic then drop into running food processor. After garlic has been finely chopped, add walnuts. After walnuts are finely chopped, add basil leaves and parmesean cheese, process until smooth. Lastly add olive oil a little at a time, until pesto is desired consistency. Can be frozen for later use.