April 30, 2013

Strawberry Picking

U-pick season is in full swing here in Florida...

This was Darwin's first time in the field. We learned how to pick only when ripe ("pick the red ones, not the green ones,") how to spot strawberry-loving insects, and how to wait until our berries are weighed to eat them (well, mostly.)

We picked too many berries (it's so hard to stop!) so once home, I pureed and dehydrated some into fruit snacks. This is by far the cleanest way to serve strawberries to a toddler:

crispy tropical strawberry snacks (strawberries, bananas, unsweetened shredded coconut)

strawberry fruit leather

April 27, 2013

Curried Spinach and Sweet Potato Stir-Fry

Green and orange are the most nutritious and beautiful colors of the vegetable palate. Here they are together in a fresh, gentle, surprisingly sophisticated curry that takes, seriously, five minutes to make. I love it for lunch, with sprouted grain toast spread with peanut butter, and a clementine. Full disclosure: Darwin isn't a fan. What can I say? He doesn't like everything, every time. (This time, he spit it out and said, "you [I] don't like that bite.") I still serve it, and wait, more or less patiently, for him to come around.

The trick to serving up this dish quickly is to have baked sweet potatoes already in the fridge. I make a point of keeping already-baked sweet potatoes around anyway, because they're such a treat, so fast and healthy. Baking them couldn't be easier: prick the sweet potatoes with a fork and place them on a foil sheet in a 400 degree oven. Bake for 45 minutes or so, then slide the whole foil sheet onto a plate, cool a bit, and wrap them in the foil for refrigeration. No dishes! Except maybe that plate.

I usually leave the skins on sweet potatoes, because a lot of nutrients hang out in and just beneath them, and because they caramelize a little during baking, and taste delicious.

Spice snobs like me: you can grind your own curry powder to use in this and any other recipe that calls for it. Enjoy!

Curried Spinach and Sweet Potato Stir-Fry
10 minutes - Serves 2

1 large baked sweet potato, sliced into half moons
2 large handfuls fresh baby spinach 
2 cloves garlic, minced 
1 Tbls. virgin coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. good quality curry powder

In a large pan with tall-ish sides, or a large pot, heat coconut oil over medium heat and fry garlic for one minute (do not brown.)

Add spinach and curry powder and cook, stirring, often, until spinach just begins to wilt.

Add sweet potato moons and toss gently to heat and combine.

Remove pan from the burner when the spinach is fully wilted, but still bright green. Serve immediately.

April 24, 2013

Simple Plates #18

strawberries and grapes; kidney beans with brown rice, cheddar cheese and mild salsa; crispy broiled kale chips; baked sweet potato rounds

steamed carrots, cucumber pieces, orange pieces, peanut butter on sprouted whole grain toast

whole plain yogurt with blueberries, steamed spinach, carrots, frozen corn

kidney beans with corn and cheddar, avocado pieces, strawberry

at the park

clementine pieces and grapes, grass-fed beef chili with avocado over brown rice and oats, garlicky curly kale
Meat is occasional at our house, which lets us especially savor it. I used a pound of grass-fed beef in this spectacular chili from Cook's Illustrated. I halved the recipe, subbed out the refined oil for EVOO, and left out the cayenne.  I didn't have enough cooked brown rice to go under it, so we served it over steel-cut oats.

spinach cupcake-quiche, baked sweet potato chunks, apple slices

smoky vegan split pea soup, sprouted whole wheat pretzel, orange pieces
These pretzels (Unique brand sprouted "Splits") are the best you can buy, made from 100% sprouted whole wheat and extra virgin olive oil. Darwin is thoroughly conflicted about them, because he loves them, but they're too crunchy for someone with only four molars. See his ambivalence?

strawberry, spinach cupcake-quiches

grapes, steamed fresh carrots, peanut butter on sprouted whole grain toast

grass-fed beef chili over brown rice, baked sweet potato chunk, garlicky curly kale

April 22, 2013

Smoky Vegan Split Pea Soup

This is the ultimate un-fussy soup for getting high-quality plant proteins into big and little bellies alike. We all love it. Like, fight-over-the-leftovers love it. And it takes a whole five minutes to chop a couple of onions and carrots. I can get this going on the stove AND clean up while my two-year-old plays in the next room, which says something. It says, "yes!" And, "yum!" A fresh green salad or herby coleslaw pairs perfectly.

The inspiration for this soup came from this recipe from 101 Cookbooks.

Smoky Vegan Split Pea Soup
60 minutes (fewer than 10 minutes hands-on) -- Serves 4

1 pound green split peas (2 cups), rinsed and drained
1 + 1/2 medium/large onions, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
juice from half a lemon
few dashes smoked paprika
1/2 tsp salt

In a medium-large pot over medium heat, fry onions until translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add split peas and 5 cups water, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for fifteen minutes.

Add the carrots and continue simmering, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes, or until peas are almost completely broken down.

Remove from heat and add salt, lemon juice, and smoked paprika, one or two dashes at a time, until the soup is just a bit smoky. (Be careful with this stuff. It's very smoky, so start small.)

April 20, 2013

Simple Plates #17

Swiss cheese, fresh mango and blueberries, garbanzo beans, avocado, Spanish quinoa

mango, Swiss cheese, curly kale, avocado

Spanish quinoa, sweet potato rounds, blueberries

easy dal with carrots and garbanzo beans, steamed spinach, apple slices, whole plain yogurt

Double-take! This isn't Darwin's plate; it's mine. For almost every one of his little plates, there's a big plate for mama that goes un-photographed.

steamed spinach, fruit-sweetened breakfast cookie, sweet potato fries, blueberries

scrambled eggs, mango, avocado, crispy broiled kale, Spanish quinoa

broiled asparagus with feta cheese, grapes, turkey-veggie meatball, smoky split pea soup
Smoky split pea soup recipe coming soon!

blueberries, sweet potato rounds, avocado, roasted cabbage, Spanish quinoa

cinnamon-raisin oats, blueberries, steamed broccoli with coconut butter

apple slices, spinach, cucumber, whole white pita with feta/olives/tomatoes/onions, easy dal with carrots and garbanzo beans

whole plain yogurt, avocado slices, grapes, sweet potato fries, smoky split pea soup

April 17, 2013

Spanish Quinoa

Today I share with you an invitingly savory recipe for serving up quinoa. Nutty, high-protein, whole-food quinoa seeds infuse with southwestern spices and rich, simmering tomatoes. Quinoa skeptics: don't pass this by. The flavors are IN the quinoa. It makes so much sense.

Barely saucier than Spanish rice, and more flavorful, you can easily make this a main dish with a simple salad on the side. My favorite part? With tender peas, sliced Manzanilla olives, and leafy cilantro, you get to eat three beautiful shades of green at once. Enjoy!

Spanish Quinoa
Serves 6

1.5 cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed well and drained
1.5 cups Pomi brand chopped tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup frozen peas
10-15 Manzanilla or black olives, sliced
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. paprika
3/4 tsp. fine-grained sea salt
handful fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

Set aside peas in a bowl at room temperature, to partially defrost.

In a medium pot over medium heat, saute onion in a swirl of olive oil until soft and translucent, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and saute one minute more.

Add salt and spices and stir to coat, then add quinoa, and stir again to coat. Fry briefly.

Add tomatoes and 1 + 3/4 cups water. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat to simmer, stirring occasionally, until water is absorbed (Note: stir often when the liquid becomes low to prevent sticking. You may add small amounts of water in the final few minutes to plump up the quinoa, but cook it off; the quinoa should not be too saucy.)

Remove quinoa from heat, and add peas and olives. Serve warm with a generous scattering of cilantro leaves.

April 15, 2013

Simple Plates #16

baked chili sweet potato fries, peas and corn with butter, clementine pieces
Not all frozen veggies are created equal. Starchier veggies like peas, corn, and limas hold up best during freezing; vegetables with a higher water content, like green beans or broccoli, turn mushy and tasteless when they defrost, so fresh is really best. Forgoing "medleys" in favor of separately packaged frozen veggies preserves their individual flavors. Plus, it's fun to mix them up yourself!

steamed broccoli with butter, whole wheat, fruit-sweetened banana nut muffin, clementine pieces

fresh mango, sweet potato and black bean chili, avocado, roasted cabbage

avocado, peas, clementine pieces, broiled asparagus, peanut butter on whole rye cracker

egg scramble with spinach, tomato, and cheese; kiwi half

Moroccan red lentils, turkey-veggie meatball, raisins, green salad with avocado
These very tasty Moroccan red lentils fed us for three days. I made them on the stove instead of the slow cooker, and threw in the herbs at the last minute, so they stayed super zesty-fresh.

whole wheat noodles, baked sweet potato chunk, egg scramble with spinach and cheese, kiwi half 

avocado; clementine pieces; collard greens, onions, and Swiss melt on whole wheat pita

medjool date, broiled asparagus, cucumber slices, turkey-veggie meatball, Moroccan red lentils

pear slices, crispy broiled kale chips, peanut butter on whole rye cracker, fresh steamed carrots

asparagus and fresh Parmesan"skillet-quiche," Moroccan red lentils, clementine pieces

apple slices, turkey-veggie meatballs, broiled asparagus, steamed carrots

leftover cheese omelet, steamed broccoli with coconut oil, berry-banana oats

quick chickpea curry, freeze-dried mandarin orange pieces
I made this curry--oops!--too spicy for Darwin. The freeze-dried orange pieces are a treat from TJ's.

scrambled egg, steamed asparagus, fresh blueberries

radish slices, kiwi half, Swiss cheese, buttery cabbage, garbanzo beans
Darwin's "smile-for-the-camera" smile

mushroom, onion, bell pepper and Swiss melt on whole wheat pitas, fresh steamed carrots, apple slices