Saturday, March 28, 2015

Individual Huevos Rancheros


It was after I found out about my gluten allergy that I first discovered Huevos Rancheros on the breakfast menu. Before that, having beans and corn tortillas didnt much interest me in the morning. Once I had to avoid pancakes and waffles, I was looking for something more than just potatoes and eggs to fill me up. I now love the combination of tortillas, enchilada sauce and refried beans with my eggs to start the day.

A couple summers back I was cooking for a large group out on a farm and wanted to make them something different for breakfast.  They needed something filling to keep them going with a long day of farm chores. I created this constructed version of the huevos rancheros which they all named "mexican breakfast pizza". Some people ate it with a fork while others just picked it up and ate it like a taco.
I think this makes for a beautiful breakfast.  I say this recipe feeds 6, but fair warning, many will want more than one.

Individual or "Constructed" Huevos Rancheros


Ingredients

6 corn tortillas
1½ cups refried beans, black or pinto
¾ cup enchilada sauce
2 tbsp olive oil, divided (or a little bacon grease works great too)
6 eggs
chopped cilantro

Optional:
1 cup cooked chorizo
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Procedure:

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Place corn tortillas on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet. Spread ¼ cup refried beans on each tortilla. Then top each with a tablespoon of enchilada sauce, smoothing it out over the beans. 
Sprinkle with cheese and cooked, crumbled chorizo (if using).  
In a small non-stick frying pan, heat 1 tsp oil, and when hot, add eggs, and fry until whites are set, but not fully cooked, about 1 minute. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper while frying. 
Place egg on top of the prepared tortillas. Repeat with the remaining eggs, adding a little oil if needed to keep eggs from sticking to the pan.
Place baking sheet in oven for 5 to 8 minutes, until egg is slightly cooked, but yolk is still jiggly when the pan is shaken.  The whites of the eggs should be firm, the cheese melted, but the yolk still soft. How long this takes depends on how cooked the whites were when placed on the tortillas. If the whites were completely opaque, then this should only be closer to 5 or 6 minutes, if the whites were still transparent and runny, then keep in the oven closer to 8 or 10 minutes.

Remove pan from oven, drizzle a little more enchilada sauce over the tortillas and finish with a sprinkle of cilantro.  Serve immediately.

Chorizo:
**If adding chorizo, crumble and pan fry the chorizo first. Then place on the tortillas after the beans and enchilada sauce, but before the fried egg.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Asian Style Tempeh Kabobs



I have some coworkers that have never liked the flavor of tempeh. As soon as I heard this, I was determined to make my version for them and show them how good it could be. I first created this recipe about 5 years ago when I was working for many vegetarian clients. I have revised the recipe a little but am happy to say that it still stands up as one of my favorite vegetarian dishes.  I was a vegetarian for about 7 years back in my 20's and I still like to eat tempeh and tofu occasionally now. I now use this teriyaki style marinade for beef too. 

The key to really good tempeh is all in the marinade. Frying the tempeh first creates a crunchier texture plus adds some fat, and then the marinade gives it a rich, meaty flavor. Make extra of the marinade and save it in the refrigerator for quick meal prep later, or use it to marinate beef for a stir fry. 


Serve this over a bed of rice with a Pressed Salad and my Carrot Ginger Soup. Having a barbecue? Make the skewers up to 2 days ahead of time and then put them on the grill for about 5 minutes to reheat.

Ingredients

Marinade:
¼ cup tamari or soy sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons rice syrup or maple syrup
1 teaspoon ginger juice, or small piece of ginger peeled and grated
1 tablespoon garlic (2-3 cloves in a garlic press or minced)

Kabobs
1 package tempeh
3 tablespoon olive oil or high heat safflower oil
6 6-inch skewers

Procedure:
In a small bowl, mix tamari, vinegar, rice syrup, ginger juice, and garlic until rice syrup has dissolved. Set aside.

Cut tempeh into 1 inch cubes. Heat oil in frying pan over medium heat. Add tempeh and cook until browned on each side, about 2 minutes per side, turning over with tongs.

Pour marinade into frying pan, lower heat and simmer, about 8 to 10 minutes, turning tempeh occasionally so that they soak up the marinade evenly. (The marinade will thicken as it simmers). 


Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes until cool enough to handle. Place tempeh cubes onto skewers, 4 to 5 cubes on each, and place on serving dish. Drizzle remaining liquid from the pan over the skewers and serve.

Variations:
Add 2 teaspoons chopped lemongrass to marinade for a thai influence
Add ¼ cup pineapple or orange juice to marinade along with ½ tsp lemon zest
For a richer bacon-like flavor add a little Worcestershire sauce and smoky paprika powder


Will stay in the refrigerator for 1 ½ weeks
Reheat: Place skewers in a medium frying pan with a little oil over medium heat turning once until evenly heated through, about 5 minutes. If tempeh is too dry, sprinkle with some tamari or soy sauce.


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Mindful Eating World Summit


This amazing online Summit is happening right now.   I have listened to 6 of the interviews that have been sent out since Monday and WOW, I am blown away.  My interview about my own health struggles and finding out I had food allergies is out now and you can hear it here.


My approach to health is pretty simple and I believe in the power of food to heal.  Eat more real food, less junk and be mindful of the foods that dont agree with you. The information coming from these health-focused experts is really down to earth and sensible. 

Please check this out. Even though the Summit started on Monday, these interviews are all available to listen to anytime until March 30th.

Here is a little more about this Mindful Eating Summit:

Do you want to become EMPOWERED with your own health and happiness; shed extra pounds, and truly feel WELL. Do you want to know what it means to have real VITALITY? Then check out this online summit.
My friend and colleague, Dr. Kellee Rutley has created the Mindful Eating World Summit. She has brought together over 28 POWERHOUSE experts, including me! Dr. Kellee has interviewed highly credible and respected Doctors, Naturopaths, Zen masters, Holistic Psychologists, Holistic Chefs and true Fitness Experts with decades of experience, all sharing this “virtual podium” to give YOU the answers you have been looking for.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Creamy Carrot Ginger Soup


I originally made up this soup years ago for a client who was eating a raw diet. I was delighted at how delicious and satisfying it was. I have made it for myself (a non raw food person) a few times during the hot summer months when I just don't want to heat up the kitchen cooking something.

Right now I am on day 20 of a juice only cleanse and I am starting to think about those first meals back on solid food. This soup came to mind as it is a good bridge between juicing and solid food. And boy does an avocado sound really good right now. 

This soup contains:
3 cups of fresh organic carrot juice (about 3 pound carrots)
2 ripe avocados
2 tsp fresh ginger juice
1 1/2 tsp good quality sea salt
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp agave nectar (optional)

Put the carrots through a juicer, then pour the juice into a blender. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend on low until mixed, less than a minute. Taste and adjust seasonings. 


This is now ready for you to play around with it. Want it more spicy?  Add more ginger. Add a little water if you want to create a thinner consistency.  The agave is optional depending on how sweet your carrots are. So don't add it until you give it a taste.  The avocados make it nice and thick and add enough fat to make this satisfying to the palate.

If you do not have a juicer, use a good quality, store bought carrot juice like Odwalla.

This is best served immediately after making it, or at room temperature if you save it for later in the refrigerator.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Chicken Stock from Scratch

This recipe is a combination of a rich chicken bone broth and a vegetable stock. I use this as the base for all my soups and well as sipping on it alone during cold winter months. It is full of minerals and nutrients like magnesium, potassium and calcium. Because of the long simmer of the chicken bones it also contains the bonus of collagen, great for your skin and nails.  

Homemade chicken stock adds robust richness and depth of flavor to your homemade soups. Have you ever drank a mug of store bought chicken broth?  Probably not. THIS stock is so good you can heat it up and slurp it down with nothing but a little added salt. 

I developed this recipe over many years taking some ideas from Rebecca Katz's Magic Mineral Broth (which is great for those going through cancer treatments or for healing digestive troubles), and the vegetable stock my Chef and I created during my time at Google. This recipe calls for starting the bones simmering first, for 3 hours. Then add the vegetables and simmer for 2 more hours. This helps to not overcook the vegetables. 2 hours is all you need to get the best flavor without anything turning bitter.

We drink chicken soup when we are sick, in fact we crave it, so our body is smarter than we think.  Chicken stock settles the stomach when we are sick, but it does so much more. A good cup of chicken stock helps with boosting gut health and fighting inflammation. I am currently doing a 30 day juice cleanse and on the super cold days or really long, hectic work days, I have been warming up a mug of this and it really helps to get me through. Plus adding in all the nutrients I am not getting through food.  

The difference between chicken stock and bone broth:
Bone broth typically has an acid in it like vinegar to help release the collagen from the bones and is cooked for an extended time, sometimes 24 hours. You end up with a gelatin like consistency once the broth cools in the fridge. I am calling my recipe stock, because I do not add the vinegar and it does not cook as long.  Mine is a 5 hour, semi bone broth, because it does come out slightly thick.

If you want to try out a traditional bone broth, here are two of my favorite recipes: Nom Nom Paleo and Zenbelly, both fantastic Paleo bloggers.

Bone broth has been getting a lot of attention in the media for it's health benefits. Could it be possible that we will be seeing people sipping on a mug of bone broth instead of coffee?  It is already happening in New York City. And another article, featuring quotes from Michelle Tam of Nom Nom Paleo, talks about how bone broth has been a part of our culture since the Stone Age.

My stock pot is 12 quarts, a pretty big one. If you do not have a pot this big, take the recipe down to half. 

CHICKEN STOCK



Ingredients
5# chicken bones, can be made up of wings, necks, legs and backs
2 medium yellow onions, peels removed and chopped into quarters
5 medium carrots, chopped into quarters
5 celery stalks, chopped into quarters
1 leek, well washed, white and light green parts, cut into 3 inch pieces
1 small celery root, peeled and cut in large chunks
1 fennel bulb, fronds removed, cut in large chunks
6 medium garlic cloves, peeled, left whole
6 sprigs thyme
10 sprigs parsley
3 grams dried mushrooms
15 peppercorns
12 Juniper Berries
2” piece Kombu
2 bay leaves

Procedure:

1.  Place chicken parts in large stock pot and cover with water to about 3 inches above the chicken. Place over high heat. Once the water comes to a boil, (about 20 minutes) reduce heat until gently simmering. Let simmer 2 hours.  While chicken is simmering, gather the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.

2.  Add the remaining ingredients and fill the pot with more water until the vegetables are covered with about 3 inches of water. Bring heat back up to high, and bring to a boil, once boiling reduce heat to about medium, or to where the water is gently bubbling.  Let simmer for 2 hours.

3.  Remove from heat and let cool about 1 hour on the stove. Strain the stock by pouring through a chinoise, or fine mesh strainer into a heat resistant container. This could be another large pot, do not go directly into something plastic while the stock is still hot. If you do not have a fine mesh strainer, line a regular strainer with cheesecloth and pour stock through.

4.  If you have a layer of fat at the top of the stock, pour into a gravy separator, (you know, that thing you use only once a year on Thanksgiving?)  This helps to separate the fat from the stock.  If you do not have one of these, it is ok, the fat with harden once in the fridge and can be spooned off the next day before final storage in the fridge or freezer.

5.  Leave containers on the counter to completely cool, about another hour.  Cover and place in refrigerator.  If you are not going to use stock within the next 5 days, place in the freezer until ready to use. Will last about 5 days in the fridge and 3 months in the freezer. 


Saturday, March 7, 2015

Starting the Day with a little Lemon Water


I have heard for a long time that drinking lemon juice and warm water first thing in the morning is really good for you. I started doing it about 10 years ago when I did my first cleanse. I go back to it a few times a year like in the Spring when everything starts blooming and the air is full of pollen. This always kicks up my allergies. A cup of fresh squeezed lemons, hot water and a tablespoon of local honey really helps me get through it. My allergies actually calm down quite a bit. I also go back to this routine in the middle of winter when everyone around me seems to have a cold. I know my immune system needs a boost and I drink my mug of lemon "tea" instead of my morning coffee.

I am currently doing a 30 day juice fast (Reboot with Joe!) and lemon water is recommended as the first thing to drink upon rising in the morning. See, even Joe thinks this is a good idea.  

Here are just some of the many benefits:

  • Drinking lemon juice first thing in the morning  helps to clear the "Ama", an Ayurvedic term for undigested food particles lingering in your digestive system. It helps to reset your digestive system to begin a new day. 
  • Lemon juice encourages healthy digestion by loosening toxins in your digestive tract, and helps to relieve symptoms of indigestion like heartburn and bloating.
  • Gives your immune system a boost. Lemons are packed with Vitamin C!
  • It is good for your joints, especially if you tend to have pain on movement due to inflammation. Drinking lemon juice promotes the removal of uric acid, which is a main cause of inflammation.

Here is how I make my lemon tea:

2 lemons
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon good local honey (especially if you have suffer from seasonal allergies)

Squeeze lemons into a large mug. I use the largest mug I have which holds about 12 ounces of water.

Heat water in a small pot until just starting to bubble.  Pour water into mug and add the honey. Give a good stir, and sip throughout the morning. It is that simple!  Add a little more honey if you want it sweeter.   You can also add some sliced ginger to your lemon tea which really helps to warm you up and increase metabolism. Plus some people just really like the taste of ginger. 
Cut a few slices of ginger and add them to your mug, or place them in the pot with the warming water to help them simmer and impart more flavor. 

For more information about the benefits, check out these articles:

Food Matters TV: "16 Health Benefits Of Drinking Warm Lemon Water"  

and this from Elephant Journal: "The Two Week Lemon Water Challenge".

Friday, February 27, 2015

Roasting Cauliflower


I was just told my one of my cooking clients last night that she is becoming a cauliflower fan because of me.  She has been on a very restricted diet and was not eating potatoes for awhile and continues to stay away from rice. So on the evenings that I make the rest of her family something with potatoes or rice, I roast cauliflower for her. I either leave them whole like in the picture above, or I put it in the food processor after roasting to give it a mashed potato like texture.  This has created a flavor that she hadnt experienced before.

You may think cauliflower is a boring vegetable. no strong flavor or color. And when steamed it is pretty middle of the road. This is where cooking technique comes in.

Roasting at high heat creates more flavor and texture. I could live the rest of my life without steamed or raw cauliflower. But once it goes into a 475 degree oven and turns a little brownish black and crispy, well, get out of my way, and no, you cant have any. This method of cooking creates caramelization (the dark brown bits) and the flavor of the cauliflower changes to something buttery and nutty, without it being being drenched in butter. 

I hope you will give this a try.

Roasted Cauliflower

1 head cauliflower (about 1 1/2 pounds), 
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or just enough to drizzle and lightly coat the vegetable
2 teaspoons salt

Procedure:

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or tin foil. 

Heat oven to 475 degrees and place one of the shelves at the lowest point. 

Trim cauliflower down to medium to bite-size florets. How the florets look isnt important, but having them all around the same size is, or they will cook unevenly.
Place cauliflower on prepared baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. 
Toss the cauliflower around on the sheet to make sure they are all coated with some oil.  Sprinkle with salt and place on lowest shelf in the oven.
Roast for 10 minutes, and then check to see how they are doing.  They should be sizzling and the bottoms should be turning brown.  The picture below is the browning you are looking for.
If they are not browning yet, leave in oven and check again in 5 minutes. Pierce with a fork to test for doneness. You want the cauliflower to be slightly soft where the fork easily pierces through, but not mushy. They are extremely hot and will continue cooking once you remove them from the oven.  

Once the cauliflower has the beautiful, crisy brown edges, remove from oven, place in a serving bowl and serve.

And if you eat dairy, specifically parmesan, then add some grated parm at the end and let it melt, like in this recipe from Bon Appetit.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Pistachio Crusted Chicken


I find it hard to describe the flavor of this pistachio crust, sweet, salty, crunchy, and just over all high in YUM factor. The original recipe called for ¼ cup of parsley, and I have replaced half of that with basil. I love the flavor of basil, but I also really like parsley for its health benefits including improved digestion and lowering inflammation. This recipe would be great either way, all parsley, or all basil. Combining a little of both creates a well rounded crust.

This crust also really helps keep the chicken moist during baking. I like to trim each chicken breast into a couple pieces so as to increase the surface area covered with the pistachio mix.  This could work really well with chicken tenders also.

Makes 4 servings   (Makes enough to bread 1½ to 2 pounds chicken)

Ingredients
1 cup roasted, unsalted pistachios
1½ tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp packed fresh Italian parsley leaves
2 tbsp packed fresh basil leaves
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp salt, plus extra
4 chicken breasts, about 1½ to 2 pounds total

Procedure

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Place pistachios, garlic powder, parsley, basil, pepper and salt in the food processor. 
Process until a smooth meal is formed, about 30 to 40 seconds. 

Transfer to a sided, flat bottomed baking dish, suitable for breading the chicken.


Trim breasts to remove any fatty edges and separate the tender if needed.  Lay the breast on a cutting board and, similar to “butterflying”, place your hand flat on the breast to hold it still, and with the edge of a knife parallel to the cutting board, carefully slice the thickest part the breast in half width wise, cutting all the way through. This will leave you with one large piece and a smaller piece that are about the same thickness. Cut the large piece in half to create three similarly sized pieces.

Coat chicken by pressing pieces into pistachio meal, one at a time, coating all sides and pressing down on the breasts with your hands to make sure the coating stays on the chicken. Gently shake chicken to remove any loose coating. Place in large baking dish. Repeat until all pieces are done.
**TIP: if the pistachio crust doesn’t seem to stick to the chicken, or if the crust is super clumpy, it might be too moist. Add 1 tsp brown rice flour and 1 tsp tapioca flour, give the pistachio meal a good stir to incorporate the flour and try again. Add one more teaspoon of each flour if needed.

Heat large saute pan over medium high heat. Add 1 tbsp olive oil, and once hot (oil should move quickly across pan when tipped), add 3 to 4 pieces of chicken to pan without overcrowding, cook for 1 to 2 minutes until crust is browned, then flip and cook the other side. 

TIP: Use a flat spatula to flip the chicken when browning in the pan. If you use tongs, you may lose some of the crust as it tends to stick to the tongs.

Place cooked pieces back into baking dish and repeat until all chicken is browned. Place baking dish in oven for 25 minutes, (depending on thickness of pieces, could take up to 30 to 35 minutes) internal temp should be 160 degrees. Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes before serving.



Because this chicken tends to have a rich and slightly sweet taste, I would serve it with less fatty foods like an arugula salad, some steamed broccoli or sauteed kale, mashed or roasted cauliflower or a little buttered pasta.