Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Nourishing Tuscan Hummus

While living in Italy, one late summer day, I was entertaining the thought of what to serve my guests for a lunch. I so wanted to impress them with my Cannellini Bean Stew graced with the addition of Sage, a Tuscan classic. 
It was still a bit warm out though and felt serving something refreshing was in order. So I cooked my Cannellini and turned them into Hummus.

Served with fresh loaves of bread from the Panetteria; A crisp Salad of Arugula, Spinach,Tomatoes and Red Onion; an assortment of Olives and several bottles of Barbera from a local Farmer. Oh yes, I was truly living La Dolce Vita, the sweet life!

Dry Cannellini Beans
Tuscan Hummus
4 Cups of Cooked Cannellini Beans
2 Cloves of Garlic
2 Lemons Juiced
1 Tbl Umeboshi Paste
1 Tbl Chickpea Miso
2 Tbl Tahini Paste
4 Tbl Olive Oil
3 Tbl Spring Water
2 Tbl of Fresh Sage
Sea Salt to taste (optional) 
Fresh Ground Black Pepper 
Fresh Sage
4 Cups of Fresh Cooked or Canned Cannellini Beans Rinsed and Drained
Puree in Food Processor with crushed Garlic, Lemon Juice, Tahini, Water, Olive Oil
Then add the Tahini, Umeboshi Paste and Chickpea Miso and Puree
Add Sea Salt (if needed) and minced Sage Leaves and Puree

 Crudités Plate
Spoon into a beautiful serving bowl, drizzle with your finest Extra Virgin Olive Oil and freshly ground Black Pepper 
Serve with an assortment of Olives, fresh loaves of Bread, a tray of crisp Crudités and don't forget the Vino!

Enjoy and celebrate La Dolce Vita!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Nourishing Quinoa Salad

As August is coming to an end, I cannot alleviate my desire to hang on to Summer just a bit longer. Grain Salads are a favorite at my table during the warmer seasons. So I bring you a refreshing addition to enjoy at Lunch or Dinner. This Quinoa Salad travels well to Work, School or Play and it is Gluten-Free. Consider this for your last Picnic of the Season this Labor Day Weekend!  

Quinoa Salad
Raw Quinoa
1 Cup of Quinoa
4 3/4 Cups Spring Water
1 pinch of Sea Salt
2 Tbl Red Onion Diced
1 Red Onion Sliced into Fine Rounds
1 Tbl Fresh Basil, Mint,Thyme, Parsley or Cilantro
1 Cup Cucumber Small Dice
1 Cup Cherry Tomatoes Halved (optional)
I Tbl Lemon or Orange Zest
3 Tbl Olive Oil
3Tbl Umeboshi Vinegar
4 Cups of Baby Greens
Cooked and Fluffed Quinoa
Soak Quinoa in 3 Cups of Spring Water for 20 minutes this will release the *saponin coating on the Quinoa
After 20 minutes, massage Quinoa in the soaking water and rinse several times and drain
If you choose to you can soak the Quinoa the remaining 1 3/4 Cups of Spring Water *see below 

Bring to a boil add your pinch of Sea Salt, Cover and simmer on very low flame for approximately 20 minutes
Turn off, fluff and leave covered for 5 more minutes
Remove Quinoa from the pot and place on a baking sheet to cool

Marinate the Onion Rounds in a bowl with 2 Tbl of Ume Vinegar for 20 minutes
Rinse onions and place on an impeccably clean Tea Towel to drain
The additional Tbl of Ume Vinegar will be reserved for the salad dressing

Once the Quinoa has reached room temperature, place in a Large Bowl and add:
Diced Onion, Herbs, Cherry Tomatoes, Lemon or Orange Zest,Olive Oil and Ume Vinegar
TOSS GENTLY and let sit for 15 Minutes in Fridge 

Choose a pretty shaped Cup or Glass, fill with Quinoa Salad and gently pat down to secure shape for unmolding
Unmold onto a Bed of Baby Greens
Garnish with a pile of marinated Red Onions

Quinoa (“KEEN-wah”) grains or seeds have a saponin coating in nature. This coating is a natural defense for the plant from birds eating the seeds. The saponin creates a bitter taste that the birds hate, and most people do as well. Further, the soapiness of saponin acts as a laxative when eaten. So an important step to preparing Quinoa is removing the saponin coating by washing or rinsing.

Another step in preparing Quinoa considered important by many is soaking before cooking Quinoa. This step that is easily overlooked is important in two ways. First, it softens the grains aiding in digestion, enough so that many people just wash and soak, then use uncooked Quinoa on salads or snacks.
The second reason for soaking is a little harder to see. Quinoa will actually germinate in two to four hours, when the seed opens from germinating, the amino acids or proteins are unlocked, causing Quinoa nutrition to multiply. Just how much of a boost can vary from lot to lot and year by year. But it is a good boost to the proteins for such a simple step.
A not so important benefit to soaking is apparent to some people with sensitive pallets. The soaking unlocks some of the flavor of Quinoa as well.
Studies show that people who eat at least three servings of whole grains a day have a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. They also seem to maintain a healthy weight more easily. If you would like to try a different grain from Wheat, Barley, Oats, and Brown Rice, consider protein rich quinoa. This grain is so mild-flavored and versatile, you'll find it very easy to incorporate Quinoa into many of your recipes. 


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Nourishing Blanched Salad

A blanched salad is a combination of vegetables that are crisp with upward rising energy. During the blanching process the vegetables turn bright colors, due to the water soluble vitamins B and C coming to the surface. Please vary your salad with seasonal vegetables and enjoy it several time a week. Serve this with your favorite dressing or try it with the Orange Umeboshi dressing recipe listed below.

Vegetables waiting to be washed 
4 Cups Spring water
1 Cup Summer Squash Cut in 1/2 inch Diagonals
1 Cup Broccoli cut into Florets
1 Cup Leeks sliced in 1 inch Diagonals 
1 Cup of Radishes cut in Halves

Fill saucepan with Water and bring to a boil
Add Summer Squash and cook for 1 Minute, remove with slotted spoon or Mesh strainer and place on a plate 
Add Broccoli Florets and cook for 2 Minutes, remove with slotted spoon or Mesh strainer and place on a plate to cool
Add Leeks and cook for 1Minutes, remove with slotted spoon or Mesh strainer and place on a plate to cool
Add 1 Tbl of Umeboshi Vinegar to water, bring back to a boil 
Add Radishes and cook for 3 Minutes, remove with slotted spoon or Mesh strainer and place on a plate to cool

Suribachi with Surikogi
Orange Umeboshi Dressing

2 Oranges
1 Umeboshi Plum 
1 Scallion
 Umeboshi Plums

Juice the oranges and place in a Blender or Suribachi
Add Umeboshi Plum
Blend or Grind by hand with a Surikogi in your Suribachi 
Once blended add finely sliced Scallion and serve with the Boiled Salad

Optional: You may add a tsp of Toasted Sesame Oil to the dressing during the blending process

Black Sesame Seeds

Place cooled Vegetables in a Bowl and Toss with Dressing and garnish with Black Sesame Seeds



Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Nourishing Macrobiotic Breakfast

A traditional Macrobiotic Breakfast will include but not be limited to: Miso Soup, Grain Porridge and Greens!

Miso Soup
2 cups spring or filtered water
1 inch strip of wakame, soaked in cold water for 5-10 minutes
2 inches of Daikon, cut into thin Half Moons
1/4 cup of Leek sliced into thin Diagonals
1 to 2 tsp South River Barley Miso
1/4cup of Tofu cut into small cubes (optional)
1/8 cup of Scallions thinly sliced

Soak wakame by covering with cold water for 5-10 minutes.
Place soup pot on stove with water and bring to a boil.
Remove Wakame from soaking water, cut into 1/2 inch squares
Add to soup pot and simmer for 1 Minute
Add Daikon simmer for 2 Minutes

Add the leeks and Tofu simmer for 1 more minute
Dilute miso into a small amount of soup stock, mixing in bowl until smooth
Turn off heat and add diluted miso just before serving 
Miso should be heated all the way through but not boiled, as boiling will destroy beneficial bacteria and enzymes
*Garnish with thinly sliced Scallions

Grain Porridge
1 cup precooked organic short or medium grain Brown Rice
Other choices could be Cooked Barley, Millet, Whole Oats
2 cups water
Vegetables: Winter Squash, Celery, Daikon, Corn (optional)

Place the cooked rice in a sauce pan. 
Pour water in the pot 
If you are adding the Vegetables place them in the pot add Rice and Water 
Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce flame and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until creamy. 
*Garnish with Toasted Sesame, Pumpkin or Sunflower Seed

Leafy Greens of choice: Boc Choy, Kale, Collards, Leeks, Broccoli

Steamed, Blanched or Water Saute for a few minutes. You want your Greens to be crisp and bright. From the energetic stand point, we eat greens in the morning because they are upward growing and this is exactly the type of energy we need to get up and go. Greens will also add lightness to your meal.

Next time a balanced Macrobiotic Lunch!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Nourishing Fruit Compote

Berry season has been in full bloom here in Vermont so the other evening I decided to serve my guests a Fresh Fruit Compote of assorted Berries and luscious Pennsylvania Peaches. 

I simply washed the Blueberries, Strawberries, Blackberries and Peaches. Removed the pit from the Peaches, sliced them and tossed them together with the Berries for a quick and easy Dessert. 

Fresh Fruit Compote
1 cup of each, Strawberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, 
4 Cups of Sliced Peaches
1 Tbl of Agave, 
1 Tbl of Water 
1 Tsp of Orange Flower Water 
1/2 tsp of Vanilla Extract

Wash the Blueberries, Strawberries, Blackberries and Peaches 
Removed the pit from the Peaches and sliced into half moons
Place all the Fruit in a Large Glass Bowl 
In a Small Bowl add  the Agave, Water Orange Flower Water and Vanilla Extract 
Toss together to coat Fruit with Marinade 

I prepared this right before my guests arrived and let it marinade in the Refrigerator till serving time!

Cashew Cream:
1 cup Cashews, 2/3 cup Water, 2Tbl Agave Nectar, 1 tsp of Vanilla Extract

Soak Cashews for 4 to 8 Hours, drain and puree in Food Processor or Vitamix (which is what I used with) 2/3 cup of water, and the addition of the Agave Nectar and Vanilla Extract

The Fruit Compote was served after Dinner with a large dollop of Cashew Cream. It was quite Simple, Refreshing, and Nourishing!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Nourishing Zucchini Capellini

Mary, Mary quite contrary, how does your Garden Grow? With Zucchini and Basil, Cherry Tomatoes and Garlic, Edible Flowers and... Ah, yes, my lush Garden is finally here, in full bloom and I am in rapture!  

I love the fact that I can serve mountainous piles of this glorious vegetable and not worry whether my guests have a wheat allergy or if they are counting calories. This is such a great way to get more vegetables on our plates. By simply running Zucchini through a spiralizer you too can produce  this light Angel Hair Pasta or in Italian, Capellini.

Zucchini Capellini with a nut free Basil Pesto

8 Large Zucchini
4 Cups of Fresh Basil stems removed
2 Cloves of Garlic
1/2 Cup of Extra Virgin first Cold Pressed Olive Oil
2 Tbl South River Chickpea Miso
2 tsp of Umeboshi Vinegar
1 Cup of Pumpkin Seeds
1/2 Tsp Sea Salt 
Fresh Crushed Black Pepper
Trim and Cut  Zucchini in halves so the pieces will fit in the Spiralizer and turn handle clockwise. Be sure to use the blade with the teeth so you form long Capellini like strands.
Add the Basil, Olive Oil, Garlic, Miso and the Umeboshi Vinegar to your Blender and blend.
Toss your Pesto and Angel Hair Zucchini in a Large Bowl then mound on serving dishes.
In a Mini Food Processor add your Pumpkin Seeds and Sea Salt and Grind up and sprinkle over each dish, this takes the place of Cheese and adds a wonderful texture as well. Add a quick twist of Fresh Black Pepper and you have before you a Fresh Living Nourishing Meal!

Cherry Tomatoes sliced into halves, Edible Flowers of your choice, and a  Drizzle of your finest Olive Oil
Zucchini: is a good source of Protein, Vitamin A, Thiamin, Niacin, Phosphorus and Copper, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Magnesium, Potassium and Manganese.
Basil: is a good source of Protein, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Riboflavin and Niacin, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Copper and Manganese.
Pumpkin Seeds: are a good source of Protein,  Potassium, Magnesium and Zinc.
Olive Oil: Mediterranean Diet studies have long associated olive oil intake with decreased risk of heart disease. However, a recent group of studies has provided us with a fascinating explanation of olive oil's cardioprotective effect. One of the key polyphenols in olive oil - hydroxytyrosol (HT) - helps protect the cells that line our blood vessels from being damaged by overly reactive oxygen molecules. HT helps protect the blood vessel cells by triggering changes at a genetic level. The genetic changes triggered by HT help the blood vessel cells to enhance their antioxidant defense system. In other words, olive oil supports our blood vessels not only by providing antioxidants like like vitamin E and beta-carotene. Olive oil also provides our blood vessels with unique molecules like HT that actually work at a genetic level to help the cellular walls of the blood vessels remain strong.

Savor the Bounty of this Season with Appreciation and Grace for our Abundance! 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Nourishing Corn Chowder

As the Fresh Corn of the season begins arriving at our Local Farmers Markets we begin creating Appetizers, Entrees, side dishes and Soups with these ears of golden goodness.One of my favorite ways to savor this sweet Grain originally known as Maize,is to do a simple yet amazingly tasty Corn Chowder. 

The Organ Pair which is associated with the Season of Summer is Heart/Small Intestine 
Corn has a light, expansive, calming energy, particularly suited to hot summer days. Traditionally the grain used by Native Americans, Corn (Maize) is a grain to emphasize in the warmer months as it nourishes the heart and small intestines, the organ pair rule by the Suns Fiery Energy.

Corn Chowder Recipe: serves 4

Ears of Corn 
2 Large Vidalia Onion small dice
2 Cloves of Garlic minced fine
2 Tbl Olive Oil
1/4 tsp Sea Salt 
3 Cups of Broth made by Boiling your Corn cobs for 15 minutes with a 1inch piece of Kombu Sea Vegetable 
1 Tbl of South River Chickpea Miso

Cut the Corn Kernels off the cobs and set aside
In a six cup pot add 4 Cups of water, Kombu Sea Vegetable and Corn Cobs which I like to cut
or break in half, bring to a Boil and simmer for 15 minutes, then strain
In a Saute pan I saute the Garlic and Onions in Olive Oil and Sea Salt over a med/low flame until they are transparent
Add Onion and Garlic mixture to 1/2 of the liquid and bring to a Boil 
Add the Corn Kernels and simmer for five minutes 
Add the Miso which you pureed with some of your broth at the very last Minute of Simmering
Remove from stove and Pour 1/3 of the Corn mixture into a blender, blend and add leftover broth that we put aside when needed. This will help you decide just how thick and creamy you want your Chowder
Then blend the remaining soup in 1/3 quantities just as you did with the first batch adding liquid when you need it

Diced Red Pepper for your Garnish
1 bunch of Cilantro, 2 Tbl Olive Oil and 2 Tsp Umeboshi paste pureed in a Blender with 1/4 cup of Spring Water. This is drizzled in a spiral design and I like to dot with small diced Red Pepper and a sprig of Cilantro in the center

Some Nutritional Benefits of Corn include being a good source of many nutrients including thiamin (vitamin B1), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), folate, dietary fiber, vitamin C, phosphorus and manganese. Corn's contribution to heart health lies not just in its fiber, but in the significant amounts of folate that corn supplies. As for the connection to the Small Intestine the Folic Acid in Corn supports the health of the Small Intestine which is beneficial to us all and it is crucially important for people who deal with Celiac and Crones Disease.
Folate, which you may know about as a B-vitamin needed to prevent birth defects, also helps to lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that is an intermediate product in an important metabolic process called the methylation cycle. Homocysteine can directly damage blood vessels, so elevated blood levels of this dangerous molecule are an independent risk factor for heart attack, stroke, or peripheral vascular disease, and are found in between 20-40% of patients with heart disease. It has been estimated that consumption of 100% of the daily value (DV) of folate would, by itself, reduce the number of heart attacks suffered by Americans each year by 10%. Folate-rich diets are also associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer. A cup of corn supplies 19.0% of the DV for folate. In addition to its thiamin, corn is a good source of pantothenic acid. This B vitamin is necessary for carbohydrate, protein and lipid metabolism. Pantothenic acid is an especially valuable B-vitamin when you're under stress since it supports the function of the adrenal glands. A cup of corn supplies 14.4% of the daily value for pantothenic acid.                    
Although this is not a regular addition to my posts I have decide to begin adding some nutritional facts for those of us who are trying to grasp the nutritional value we are receiving from all this beautiful food we are consuming.

May you be Blessed to see the Abundance in your Life always!