Tag Archives: summer

Cranberry and Cilantro Quinoa Salad

3 May

IMG_1718Here’s a quick and easy quinoa salad for all of your spring and summer picnics and barbecues, your weeknight dinners, and your lunchbox fillers. Jam-packed with a rainbow of bell peppers, carrots, leek (or scallion), dried cranberries, and fresh cilantro, and dressed with a few squirts of lime juice and some olive oil. Quinoa cooks very quickly, usually within 10 to 15 minutes. The rest of the salad is just chopping, squeezing, and tossing, and that’s about all I want to handle when the sun is shining here in New York City after such a long winter. IMG_1721 Easy, delicious, healthy, and portable. A salad that pleases vegans, gluten free-gans, and vegetable lovers. Continue reading

Finding the Right Ratio: Basic Chia-Yogurt Mix

1 Oct

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I publicly announced my dabbling with chia pudding over the summer. Even though I adore chia seeds sprinkled in smoothies and oatmeal and baked goods, for a long time, I could not bring myself to adore chia pudding. Finally, after gleaning through what seemed like a zillion different variations on chia pudding and nixing the few not-so-great combos I tested at home, I found my go-to ratio that I truly do adore:

2 tablespoons chia seeds to 2/3 cup yogurt-water mix (a heaping 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt + a scant 1/3 cup water)

I think the yogurt is really key. The thickness of the Greek yogurt provides a nice consistency, and the water loosens things ever so slightly. Mix everything in a jar the night before. The next morning, spoon the mixture into a bowl (or keep in the jar for an on-the-go breakfast) and add toppings! Coconut chips, granola, fruit, and nut butter are my go-to’s.

The berries in the picture above were frozen and I heated them in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. Sometimes I toss the berries in when they are still frozen. Different strokes.

Last month, I attended an acai bowl class at Sweetgreen taught by Ksenia of Breakfast Criminals. Her class inspired me to start “decorating” my breakfast, and I definitely feel more excited about eating when my bowl/plate looks colorful and pretty.

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I have been eating variations of my Basic Chia-Yogurt mix for the last month, at least two or three times a week, so I can now say that this ratio has been well-tested and given my seal of approval.

Sometimes I use a mix of chia, buckwheat, and hemp seeds instead of plain chia seeds. Change it up. Use the Basic Chia-Yogurt Mix as your starting ratio, then add in whatever looks good.

Basic Chia-Yogurt Mix

serves 1

The night before, mix together in a jar:

2 tablespoons chia seeds

heaping 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt 

scant (aka slightly less than) 1/3 cup water

Stir, let it sit for 5 minutes, then stir again and place in the refrigerator overnight.

The next morning, either keep the chia-yogurt mix in the jar, or pour it out into a bowl. Sprinkle in your favorite fruity/crunchy/creamy toppings. I like a sprinkle of each of the following:

granola // coconut chips // fruit (fresh, frozen, or dried) // nut butter 

Blueberry Compote (with gin!)

1 Sep

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David Lebovitz said I should put gin in my blueberry compote. So I did.

In the headnote of his recipe, Lebovitz writes, “…Gin’s herbaceous flavor does indeed marry nicely with blueberries–it can hardly be tasted once cooked, but somehow it just rounds out the blueberry notes…”

I was immediately sold. I took out a saucepan, set it on the stove, and proceeded to make what is now my favorite fruit-based “condiment” of the summer (I imagine another similar summer berry, such as a blackberry, could be substituted for the blueberry).

Cooking the blueberries helped bring out that intense deep blue color and concentrated the flavor, giving off a quintessential blueberry smell. The texture of the berries changed, too, leaving the sometimes-mushy consistency of a fresh blueberry behind and highlighting a blueberry that bursts and oozes a juicy filling instead. Nature’s gushing candy!

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Toss blueberries in a pot with a little sugar and a little gin and cook the mix for just a few minutes until the blueberries soften and begin to release their juices. 

That’s the shorthand version of the recipe. 3 ingredients. 1 pot. 5 minutes.

Serve chilled, room temperature, or slightly warm. I have been enjoying the compote with a generous scoop of plain yogurt, and spooned atop pancakes. It would also pair well with: oatmeal, ice cream, cake, nut-butter toast.

Blueberry Compote (with gin!)

from David Lebovitz’s Ready for Dessert; makes about 2 cups

*When I made the compote, I had slightly under 2 cups of blueberries. I ended up eyeballing the sugar and gin to about 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 heaping spoon of gin. If you feel comfortable eyeballing to taste, go for it. The proportions listed below are the original ones used in Lebovitz’s book.

  • 2 1/2 cups (12 ounces/340g) fresh blueberries (or frozen)
  • 1/4 cup (50g) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) gin (I used Hendrick’s Gin)

Combine the blueberries, sugar, and gin in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the berries just begin to soften and release their juices. Remove from heat and let stand, uncovered, and let cool to room temperature. Taste for sweetness and add more sugar, if desired.

Storage: This compote can be stored in a jar or tupperware the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  This compote is actually better when prepared a day in advance, which gives it time to thicken nicely.

Variation: If you do not want to use gin, you can substitute water and a good squeeze of lemon juice.

Honey Lavender Ice Cream

15 Aug

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I just made a batch of Smitten Kitchen’s Maple Cluster Granola. She uses an egg white in her recipe as a protein “glue” that creates wonderful clusters. Genius. Since I have a “nothing to waste” attitude, I saved the yolk and immediately made room in the freezer for my Cuisinart ice cream bowl.

As I was putting the container of fresh-baked granola away in the pantry, I re-discovered my bag of Culinary English Lavender (grown in Long Island). With lavender, a little goes a long way, so I always have what feels like an endless supply of purple buds.

And so, Honey Lavender Ice Cream.

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I just got back from a trip to visit California’s Bay Area and Sierra Mountains. Lavender seems to grow wild there, and in many other places, so if you have fresh lavender accessible, skip the purchased bag and go pick some!

This ice cream smells and tastes like a delicate flower, in a good way. I am almost tempted to lather a cold honey-lavender-ice-cream-mask all over my face, but the temptation to just eat the ice cream is much greater.

(psst…since we are on the subject, have you ever tried Dr. Bronner’s Lavender soap? It’s my favorite!)

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Pair the ice cream with fresh strawberries or white peaches. Or serve it over your favorite summer fruit crumble, cake, or pie.

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Find more Figs in my Belly ice cream recipes and flavors in the Recipe Index.

Honey Lavender Ice Cream

adapted from Bakeology by Lisa, using David Lebovitz technique

I used 1% milk and one fewer yolk than the original recipe because it was convenient for me and a touch healthier, without compromising on taste or texture

  • 1 cup milk (I used 1% milk, but you could use whole if you want)
  • pinch of Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons culinary lavender
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 egg yolks (large or extra large work fine)

Place the bowl of an ice cream maker in the freezer for at least 24 hours.

Place the milk, salt, honey and lavender in a small pot and heat, stirring with a rubber spatula, until just scalding. Turn off the heat, cover, and let the mixture infuse for one hour.

Meanwhile, place the heavy cream in a bowl and place a mesh strainer over the top. Set the bowl of heavy cream into a larger bowl. Surround the larger outside bowl with ice water.

After an hour, re-warm the milk/salt/honey/lavender mixture. Mix the egg yolks in a small bowl. Very slowly and stirring constantly with either  a whisk or a rubber spatula, pour some of the milk mixture (about 1/2 cup) into the yolks.  Pour this mixture back into the pot with the remaining milk mixture. Continue to cook the custard over low heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Once thickened, pour the custard through the mesh strainer into the bowl of cream sitting in the ice water bath. Stir everything together and let it sit in the ice water bath until the ice cream base is chilled. Once chilled, refrigerate the mixture for a few hours. Churn it in the ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Yogurt Chia Parfaits

1 Aug

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I bought a 24-pound watermelon. Luckily, I purchased this fruit-the-size-of-a-small-child at my corner store, so I only had to carry the monster up one block. Yes, I know that smaller watermelons exist, but I wanted and I needed and I had to have a watermelon at that very moment when I walked by the store.

Besides munching on cold melon cubes right from the fridge, I am brainstorming creative ways to use my giant watermelon stash. Watermelon shrub is currently fermenting on my counter. My new smoothie crush involves frozen watermelon cubes, frozen banana chunks, milk, vanilla, and matcha green tea powder. I made No-Cook Watermelon Tabbouleh Salad and enjoyed it for dinner and lunch for a few days. The recipe is from the quarterly nutrition newsletter that I edit, The Grapevine. Find the recipe on page 19. 

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Watermelon is the epitome of a cool, juicy summertime treat. And that is just what I have been craving lately, something cool and refreshing. Since we “eat with our eyes,” it is important that my meals have lots of color in them. Watermelon’s bright pink color pairs so nicely with green foods. Notice the green cucumbers in the above photograph, and the green chia pudding in the photograph below.

These pink and green Yogurt Chia Parfaits are both fun to look at and fun to eat! Plus, chia seeds, yogurt, and watermelon are all very hydrating foods. These parfaits require a little bit of prep work, but once you have a jar of chia pudding, a container of plain yogurt, colorful fruit, and some homemade or store-bought breakfast cereal on-hand, you should be ready to roll.

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I discovered two lovely blogs this summer that both happen to be raw and vegan. Laura Miller of Sidesaddle Kitchen and Gena of Choosing Raw. Good inspiration for staying cool and creative in the kitchen.

Laura’s recipe videos are both hilarious and delicious, and her produce portraits are stunning. I made her chocolate pudding with avocado this summer, and it was a big hit around here. I also made her buckwheat breakfast cereal, which I love and highly recommend as a cereal alternative. Remember to buy raw or hulled buckwheat groats because the roasted buckwheat groats (aka kasha) have a completely different flavor and cooking requirement.

While I adore chia seeds in moderation, chia pudding has always irked me a little, with all of those tiny gummy seeds. But, since I had a few samples of matcha powder sitting in my cupboard untouched for the last six months, Gena’s matcha green tea chia pudding looked like a good way to conquer my chia pudding fears and simultaneously use up some matcha powder (the matcha powder is also good in watermelon smoothies).

I took Laura’s buckwheat breakfast cereal and Gena’s matcha green tea chia pudding and turned them into a semi-vegan, healthy, and colorful mini meal. The yogurt in these Yogurt Chia Parfaits can easily be omitted or substituted for some sort of frozen banana smoothie to make this vegan friendly.

To layer the parfaits, begin with a layer of fruit (I use a mix of cubed watermelon and quartered figs), a layer of plain yogurt, a layer of chia pudding, and a layer of buckwheat cereal mixed with granola. Repeat the layers for a full parfait. No need for exact measurements, just spoon out the layers to your liking.

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Matcha Green Tea Chia Pudding

from Choosing Rawmakes enough for about 4 parfaits or 1-2 servings of straight up chia pudding

I found the consistency to be a little too liquid to eat on it’s own, so I would add a touch less milk or even a scoop of yogurt to thicken it if you are going to eat it as is. Keep the portions below if you are adding this to a Yogurt Chia Parfait. 

  • 1 cup low-fat milk (I used regular, feel free to use non-dairy milk)
  • 1/2 teaspoon matcha green tea powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon agave or maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons chia seeds

In a blender, combine the milk, matcha powder, vanilla, and agave and blend for a few seconds until thoroughly combined. Pour the mixture over the chia seeds and stir to combine. Stir again every few minutes for the next 15 minutes. Then allow the mixture to sit for at least 1 hour (or overnight, in the fridge). Stir the mixture once more, and serve.

This chia pudding will be best within 4-5 days. Keep it in the fridge.

Yogurt Chia Parfaits

I am not giving exact portions here because you can layer these as you like. If you want more fruit, use more. If you like more chia pudding, use more. etc. etc. I like to use plain yogurt because there is already some natural sweetness in the fruit, and both the granola and the chia pudding have a little sweetener in them. 

  • Seasonal fruit-I used a mix of fresh, quartered figs and cubed watermelon
  • Plain low fat Greek yogurt- I like this brand lately
  • Matcha green tea chia pudding
  • Granola and/or homemade crunchy buckwheat groats cereal

Layer all ingredients into jars (I just use old jam jars). Begin with a layer of fruit, a few spoons of yogurt, a few spoons of chia pudding, and a layer of granola or buckwheat groats cereal. Repeat. I usually can only fit two layers into my jars.

I like to make these a day or even two days ahead. If they sit for longer, the granola may get soggy. A great on-the-go breakfast or snack!