Monday, May 25, 2009

Loving Salad & 'Dressing for Success'

Salad is my very favorite food in the whole world. There, I've said it. I have always loved creating and eating salad...I could eat salad for lunch and dinner every day and never tire of it.

It's the first item I make when preparing a meal for my family and guests, and my mainstay for picnics and 'potlucks'.
For me, a 'basic' salad includes romaine lettuce, spinach, shredded carrots, diced tomatoes, peppers, & cucumbers.

I really love tabouli salad, and lately I've been making it 'bulghar free' by just mixing
diced tomatoes, peppers, & cucumbers with finely chopped parsley, mint, lettuce & spinach (use the 'S' blade on your food processor to chop all the greens quickly and effortlessly) and then mix with olive oil and lemon/lime juice, a little sea salt & pepper, (garlic & onions optional). It is SO delicious and you can eat as much as you want!

Making a salad can bring out the 'artist' in anyone - you can be creative, spontaneous, experiment with color & texture, and 'throw' in whatever strikes you, and slice, dice, chop, shred, mince...

I find it relaxing, almost meditative, and really enjoy the process...listening to good music is a plus, and finding 'helpers' make things go quicker...I especially love working with my girls - Annette & Bettina - they are a great help all around, and have become experts in dicing...we have fun and a lot of love goes into everything we make.

There are so many options for 'adorning' a salad...alfalfa and bean sprouts are refreshing, sprouted lentils are delicious and crunchy, as are fresh corn kernels, fresh peas and chopped nuts...go 'crazy' by adding shredded coconut, chopped apples, jicima, tiny pieces of fresh pineapple, green or black olives, mushrooms, sunflower seeds, chick peas, avocado, tofu, raisins, (soak your raisins in water for 10 minutes to be plump)...the list goes on and on.

Any lightly steamed vegetable goes well in a salad, like broccoli & cauliflower florets, string beans, beets, zucchini...

'Dressing' a salad is most important...I usually use a blender and start with extra virgin olive oil and lemon or lime juice...most of the time I don't follow a particular recipe.

You can create your very own 'house dressings' by stocking up on and combining the ingredients listed below
...have fun experimenting!

Extra virgin olive oil
Juice from a lemon/lime
Bragg liquid aminos or soy sauce
Agave or honey
Fresh garlic
Black pepper
Sea salt
Onion powder
Cayenne powder
Curry powder
Ginger powder or fresh
Dijon mustard
Tahini (sesame paste)

  • Homemade dressings last for at least 3 days and are so much healthier, tastier and cheaper than store-bought, and they don't include MSG and other ingredients we should stay away from.
  • Soaked raw cashews or silky tofu mixed in with any of these ingredients gives it thickness and a ranch-like taste, especially with onion or onion powder.
  • Check on line for recipes for dressings with your favorite ingredients, there are 1000's!

You may not want to take the time to make a salad and dressing, all that chopping, cleaning the food processor, blender,'re busy, tired, wanna grab something quick...but if you create good habits by filling your fridge with an abundance of greens, veggies and herbs, and get organized by preparing certain things beforehand - you will feel so good, save a lot of money, and reap the health rewards big time.

Bon Appetit!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

'Shake' it up Baby!

If you like starting your day with fruit (like I do), a great way to do this is to drink your breakfast...all you need is a blender, some frozen bananas, creativity, and you're good to go!

When your bananas get brown after several days of being out, peel and freeze, so you always have some on hand...also keep a few strawberries, pieces of pineapple, mango and papaya in the freezer to make your shakes extra delicious.

Some tips and tricks...

  • Add water to get the shake going in the blender, no need for milk.
  • The fruit is sweet enough, no need for honey or sugar.
  • A handful of spinach thrown in is a great way to get more iron & extra vitamins in... it makes your shake green but isn't everything going green these days?
  • Mint tastes delicious in a shake.
  • A drop of vanilla adds 'yum' to it.
  • A spoonful of tahini (sesame paste) gives a special flavor.
  • Fresh squeezed orange juice is a good base.
  • A few walnuts add a great taste plus Omega 3 to your shake.
  • Some crushed flax seeds also add Omega 3 and is good for your heart.
  • Coconut adds a special flavor (unsweetened, organic is best).
  • Adding one tsp of Carob powder makes a real treat.
  • Any kind of berries - strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries - add great flavor.

The cup or glass you drink from makes a difference- should be strong and elegant, with a straw!

On a hot day blend crushed ice with watermelon pieces (seedless) - it is a very tasty and refreshing Summer drink that you can make in less than 30 seconds.

Blended salads are a great way to eat healthy when you're on the need for chopping a lot and you get even better nutrition by drinking it rather than chewing...throw in a pepper, tomato, cucumber, sliced avocado some parsley, extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, seasonings and blend baby blend!...experiment with other veggies, add lettuce or spinach for extra green...tastes delicious and very refreshing, kind of like drinking salsa or gazpacho.

Enjoy & Bon Appetit!

Friday, May 8, 2009

'Spread' the Health

As a follow-up to my last post I decided to share some of my favorite healthy recipes for spreads...these are great to serve your family, your guests, bring to a picnic, a party, and to eat with vegetables, crackers, chips or to spread on a sandwich or wrap with chopped salad.

The tastiest and healthiest chips, in my opinion, are Pita Chips - the ones you make at salt is added, and they are a better value - a bag of pita (onion pita is especially yummy) is significantly less than a bag of chips, plus no extra additives - just slice 'em up, heat 'em up on a flat pan, and serve warm...

My favorite veggies to dip are baby carrots, celery stalks, red peppers, sweet pea pods, cucumber sticks, and the firm inner leaves of a Romaine lettuce.

* You will need a food processor for these recipes...hope you enjoy and create your own!

One can chick peas - rinsed very well (or dried beans soaked overnight and cooked)
4-5 tablespoons of techina (tahini)
Juice from 1 & 1/2 lemon
Dash of pepper (optional sea salt if you like)
Dash of paprika
A few dashes of cumin
2 garlic cloves minced or a few dashes of garlic powder
Small handful of parsley
* Optional - tablespoon extra virgin olive oil mixed in or dripped on top with toasted pine nuts

In a Food Processor or Blender mix all ingredients and add water, little by little, until the consistency is smooth, rich and thick. Process or blend for at least few minutes.

Black Bean Hummus
Same as humus, just add cooked or canned black beans to recipe.

Lentil Hummus
Same as humus, just add cooked or canned lentils to recipe.

Cauliflower Spread
1 whole cauliflower chopped into florets - lightly steamed
1 TB Dijon mustard
1 TB mayonnaise
(preferably the healthy 'veganaise' or homemade kind)
1 tsp agave or honey

Optional herbs - Dash of sea salt,
dill, basil, oregano, black pepper

Put all ingredients in food processor and mix until consistency is just right for you. S
erve immediately or refrigerate, stays for at least 2-3 days.

Vegetarian 'Liver' Pate
1 can of sweet peas (or dried peas soaked overnight and cooked)
1 onion - fried
1 handful of walnuts
Dash of black pepper
1 clove garlic minced
Dash of sea salt (optional)

Mix all ingredients in food processor until it turns to pate and serve immediately or refrigerate, stays for at least 2-3 days.

Black Olive Spread
1 can of pitted black olives
1 TB extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic minced
1 handful of fresh spinach leaves
A few parsley leaves
sun-dried tomatoes soaked (optional)

Mix all ingredients in food processor until it turns to pate and serve immediately or refrigerate, stays for at least 2-3 days. Delicious on everything!

Can of Tomato Paste (no salt added)
A few fresh tomatoes
1/2 green pepper
1 red pepper
1/2 cucumber
A few sprigs of fresh parsley (or dash of dried powder)
A few sprigs of fresh basil (or dash of dried powder)
A few sprigs of fresh oregano (or dash of dried powder)
Dash of black pepper
1 tsp Agave or honey
1 TB extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion (or dash of dried powder)
Optional cayenne pepper

Mix in food processor with some water. Serve immediately or refrigerate, stays for 2-3 days.
Perfect with pita or corn chips - preferably unsalted, with humus and guacamole nearby.

Vegetarian Tuna Spread
4 stalks of celery
1 can of chick peas
1 TB mayonnaise (preferably the healthy or homemade kind)

Added options: garlic, paprika, dill, seaweed flavor, lemon juice, onions, olives, pickles...

Using the knife in your food processor, chop 4 stalks of celery to very small pieces, a few seconds of 'pulsing' is all it takes. Take celery out and put into a bowl, chop or 'pulse' the whole can of chick peas for a few seconds only so as not to make it too 'mushy', the pieces should be chunky. Add to the celery and mix with mayo...close your eyes and taste - should remind you very much of the taste of tuna fish.

Bon Appetit!