If you haven’t had a shrub before, it’s basically a fruity vinegar concentrate that can be mixed with water / sparkling water / alcohol to make a super refreshing drink. I have also used this strawberry shrub to make a light vinaigrette dressing for a strawberry-baby spinach-candied pecan salad. I’m sure there is a proper way of making it, but I like the method below because it is easy. You can let it sit longer or shorter in the fridge prior to straining depending on how strong you want the flavors to be. I wait until the strawberries look washed out and have lost some of their color.
I tried Trader Joe’s Baked Sriracha Tofu a few weeks ago and loved it! It’s so versatile and totally changes the flavor of salads, sandwiches, stir fry, etc. Some days, I just end up snacking on it straight. However, I found myself adding a little more spice and sesame oil to the dishes I used it in… so why not make my own version at home?! The recipe below has become a staple in my fridge since it’s so easy to prepare in a big batch and use throughout the week. As an aside, I use the marinade left over from this recipe to make a stir fry sauce by dissolving 1/2 tsp of cornstarch in it and then cooking it on medium heat until it thickens and doesn’t have the whitish color from uncooked cornstarch.
As a kid, Nutella used to be one of my favorite spreads- on toast, on crackers, on cookies, in a spoon… But I’m far more conscious about ingredients and nutrition now, and the fact that Nutella is so loaded with sugar and palm oil somehow makes it less appetizing. On my quest to find a healthier chocolate hazelnut spread to satisfy my Nutella craving, the options seem to fall short. “Sugar-free” appears synonymous with “sugar substitute added” (and I don’t like the aftertastes). Raw and organic options were gritty instead of creamy. Some options had too many extraneous ingredients… Eventually, I figured I should just try making it at home to suit my preferences. Four ingredients and 3 batches later… I settled on a recipe that I love!
Tiger nuts, tiger nut milk, and tiger nut flour- YUM! Years ago, when I was visiting Spain, I tried these tiny little snacks called tiger nuts. They were sweet and nutty, and so addictive! Many of the places I visited also sold tiger nut milk, which tasted like dessert. I was so surprised when I learned that they are actually root vegetables, and not nuts! Anyhow, I saw some in the store and had to pick them up. I started munching on them the minute I checked out at the cashier. In addition to just snacking on them, I made tiger nut milk (soooo good when chilled). Since I couldn’t bear to waste any of the tiger nuts, I turned the fibrous pulp into “flour” and now have a new flour to play with in the kitchen. I’ll post recipes using the flour as I work on them.
I know you can buy marinated hearts of palm in a jar, ready to eat, but I just don’t like the flavor as much as marinating them myself at home (sans preservatives!). The recipe below takes about 5 minutes, and is totally worth the effort. I make the marinade so that I can use it as a salad dressing. A quick lunch idea is to chop up romaine, add a handful of nuts or pumpkin seeds and these marinated hearts of palm (without draining them).
This has been my breakfast for the last week- and I’ve loved every bite! It’s perfect for the season, and all the spices and flavors totally make up for not adding sugar. I really dislike the idea of using synthetic sugar substitutes, and I don’t enjoy the aftertaste of the ones I tried. That’s why I am always trying to come up with sweet recipes that don’t require sugar at all. The flavors and textures in this cheesecake, combined with the natural sweetness from the pumpkin and dairy, make this satisfying enough that I don’t miss the sugar. If want to add sugar, I’d go with a little maple syrup or brown sugar.
It’s pumpkin season!!! This is a quick, easy recipe for pumpkin “hummus.” I’m calling this hummus even though there are no chickpeas because the texture resembles hummus. The milder bean allows the pumpkin and spices to shine. I may be partial, but I think the Indian flavors complement pumpkin well to make a warm, autumny dip/spread. I served the pumpkin hummus at party this weekend with Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Soup Crackers. It seemed to vanish, so I’m not fussing with the recipe any more! =) You can make this a day or two ahead of time, and it will actually be better since the extra time will allow the flavors to meld better.
I’ve been really craving a chocolate dessert lately. I was walking around town, and none of the restaurants had chocolate desserts that were sugar-free (including no sugar substitutes) and gluten-free. So… I decided to play around with making one at home. Based on what was in my pantry, I came up with this super-easy “mousse.” I poured the mousse into these Hazelnut Coconut crusts. The final product is a rich, decadent, thick filling in a thin, nutty crust. As you can see in the photo, it sliced beautifully. I added a small amount of vanilla whipped cream before serving to lighten it up. As a result, one small slice was so incredibly satisfying =)
This is a quick and simple crust that I use as the base for tarts/pies. I love the texture because you can press it thin, and when it’s finished, it still holds together, but is crumbly and easy to cut with you fork/spoon. It’s also neutral (no sugar, pinch of salt), so it can be used for both sweet and savory tarts. You can also add flavors to the crust if you want (cocoa powder, Italian seasoning, etc.). The recipe below makes a thin crust for 2 4-inch tart tins or a medium thick crust for 1 6-inch tart tin. You can scale up as needed for bigger tarts.
One of the biggest challenges to a high-fat low carb diet is not having the bread and crackers to snack on, use to dip, or round out a meal. Sometimes veggie sticks and cabbage leaves just don’t cut it! I love these crackers because they at fairly easy to make, full of good fats, filling, and last for a while in an air tight container (the ones in the photo are 2 weeks old). I have been using them to make open faces sandwiches, appetizers with flavored cream cheeses and herbs, croutons for salad and soup, and just plain as a quick snack when I get hungry. If you want variety, you can add spices to the mix.
Thanks to my vegetable spiralizer, this whole dish took less than 10 minutes! Spiralized zucchini is an awesome substitute for spaghetti. I like it in light sauces that don’t weigh down the zucchini. The best part of this dish is that it is so versatile. I used basil to add flavor since it’s growing on my balcony, but mint, oregano, rosemary, etc would also taste great. You can also add chopped nuts (pine nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, etc) if you want more flavor and texture.
I feel silly even posting this recipe since it’s only one ingredient, but the end product is so amazing, it’s worth it just to have people try it! I was very thankful to have my Vitamix for this recipe since it really works the motor. I imagine it would work in a blender or food processor, but may just take longer or be grittier. Also, I made it unflavored so it can be more versatile, but feel free to add vanilla, chocolate, cinnamon, sea salt, etc. to make whatever flavor you want.
Side note: I couldn’t bear the idea of cleaning out and wasting the coconut butter stuck to the sides of the blender container, so I made this Almond Milk right after the coconut butter in the same blender. The residual coconut butter resulted in a slightly thicker and sweeter almond milk- delicious!
August = peaches!!! Nothing beats fresh, ripe peaches in late summer. I got 4 peaches, a few tomatoes, and basil in my Hungry Harvest box this week. Instead of eating them straight or making a sweet dish, I decided to make a savory one. The 100 degree weather has really put me in the mood for a nice, chilled gazpacho. I wanted to add a little more flavor to the gazpacho without adding too many ingredients, so I grilled the peaches before adding them. I also had this Mango White Balsamic Vinegar, which added the tart and sweet flavors without being too punchy or overpowering the other ingredients. I listed the topping as optional since some people prefer smooth gazpacho, while I prefer the texture variation that the finely minced topping provides.
My Hungry Harvest box this week contained a gigantic, healthy head of cabbage. I couldn’t bear the idea of shredding it, so I decided to try making cabbage rolls. In my ongoing quest to avoid carbs, the giant cabbage leaves made a perfect wrapper for one of my favorite quinoa fillings. The recipe below looks labor-intensive (and it it is!), but it’s also easily modifiable to make a quick weekday dinner. I’d consider the recipe below more of a technique than a hard-and-fast recipe. You can use your favorite tomato sauce instead of making the one below. You can also stuff the cabbage rolls with leftovers!
Every now and then (especially after I get back from traveling), I just don’t have the produce I need to make a full meal. Luckily, I keep an assortment of sauces, stocks, and gravies in my freezer for these occasions! I normally make karela with onions, garlic, and tomatoes. But, since I had none of these in my kitchen, I decided to use a Coconut-Tamarind Gravy instead (it has onions, garlic, tomatoes and much more!).
This recipe is one of my staples. I love the tartness of the tamarind, the creaminess of the cashews, and the tropical feel of the coconut. I’m posting this as it’s own recipe because it really is worth making a double batch and keeping it on hand for a quick meal. You can add this gravy to fully cooked veggies and it makes them so much more satisfying! I like to go on the drier side when i use it in dishes, but you can thin it out with a little water when you add it to veggies to make it more saucy.
A few weeks ago, I made this Apple, Fennel, Manchego Salad. I used the fennel bulb in the salad, but was left with a whole cup of fronds. I couldn’t bear the idea of throwing them away, so I thought I’d stick them in vodka and see what happens. It’s delicious! It has a light, fresh taste and the pale green is so summery- it’s perfect for this weather! Today, I added a spoonful to sparkling water and it was really refreshing. Next, I plan on playing with a fennel-cucumber drink… stay tuned!
I was traveling for work the last few weeks and totally in withdrawal from not being able to cook. Luckily, my Hungry Harvest box this week had some awesome fresh ingredients like yellow squash, tomatoes, cilantro, and green bell peppers. They looked so tender and colorful, that I wanted to use them as soon as possible. To make the dish more balanced and filling, I added edamame and soya flour chunks (Nutrela).
In this unbelievably hot weather, we were in the mood for something tart and refreshing. Homemade sorbets are amazing because you can taste the freshness. As a bonus, you can also control the sweetness (I often find store sorbet too sweet). This kiwi basil sorbet really hit the spot in 90+ degree weather! I left the seeds in for the crunch and because it looks pretty, but if you want a smooth sorbet, you can strain them out.
Last week’s Hungry Harvest box contained a ton of zucchini. After using some to make a Veggie Lentil Loaf, I still had two zucchini left to use, so I made these cute savory zucchini cakes. They are so simple to make, and the best part is that they freeze well so it makes the perfect after work snack! Being a Marylander, I couldn’t resist using Old Bay to flavor them. You can also pan fry them, but I bake to keep things healthier.
My Hungry Harvest produce box this week came with 1 pound of watermelon radishes. If you haven’t had them before, they are tons of fun. The outside looks so boring- usually white or pale green, but then you slice it open and see bright pink/red! I find the taste is mildly peppery and slightly sweet. I usually just slice them thinly and put a little salt, pepper, and sometimes even butter for a fun snack. This time though, I wanted to make the 1 pound last for a while, so I pickled it. This pickle is great on a cheese board, in sandwiches, mixed into salads, or even just to munch on. I used a spiraler to get thin slices, but you can also just cut them by hand into thin slices.
One of the best things about getting fresh produce boxes is the surprise of finding what is inside and thinking of how to combine them in new ways. My food box this week contained a ton of fresh thyme and a pound of rainbow carrots so I decided to make some savory roasted carrots to use in dishes throughout the week.
Moussaka is a Greek dish that involves eggplant, potatoes, a tomato-based sauce, and sometimes a white sauce on top. Beyond that, it seems like everywhere that I’ve had moussaka, it tastes completely different. So I figured if anything goes, I may as well work on my own version. To keep it healthy, I grill the veggies instead of frying them. I like tasting all the veggies individually, so I cut them on the thicker side and do two layers of them. I also like multiple textures, so I use eggplant, zucchini, and potatoes. For a slightly Indian twist, I add red lentils (masoor daal) to the sauce to give it more body and protein (and it becomes a complete meal for me).
It does take a lot of time to prepare because there are multiple components, but the good news is that you can do most of it ahead of time. Actually, I prefer to make it the day before to let all the flavors meld ans let the layers settle down. The day of serving, I pull it out so it comes to room temperature and then bake is as described below.
This is an easy soup that has lots of flavor and really lets the ingredients shine. That being said, use good quality, fresh produce- it makes all the difference! If you are short on time, you can roast the veggies ahead of time and blend it later. The photo shows the soup topped with my attempt at a basil foam, but usually I just top it with basil ribbons.
Pumpkins seeds are possibly the best by-product of pumpkin season. For a little bit of extra work, you’ll seriously reconsider throwing away the seeds next time you carve/eat a pumpkin. The recipe below is a mix of techniques I’ve read on the internet, numerous discussions with friends about roasting seeds, and playing around all season. And, yes… sometimes I buy pumpkins solely for the seeds. =) Don’t worry- the squirrels are welcome to the pumpkin flesh.
Why did I ever buy pumpkin pie spice when it is this easy to make?!?! I ran out today as I was making some muffins. After panicking for a minute, I realized that I had all the spices that go in to pumpkin pie spice at home. So I played with mixing the spices in varying proportions (it was very scientific!). The recipe below is what I settled on. I listed everything in teaspoons so it is easy to scale up if you want to make a larger batch.
As promised in the last post, I’m posting one of the salad combinations that I really like using the espresso vinaigrette. I used seckle pears since they are in season right now, but I think whichever pear you like would taste good.
I made this dressing for my dad’s birthday a few days ago (you’ll be seeing a few more posts from that dinner soon). I wanted to make something with coffee since he loves it. Since this was my first time making this, I kept adding ingredients and changing quantities till I got a taste I liked- meaning I ended up with a lot of extra dressing- I’ve made a few different salads with it, and will post my favorite next: Pear Cocoa Nib Salad. The dressing has just a hint of espresso, so it actually is more versatile than you’d imagine. I normally use honey in dressing, but used sugar in this one because honey was interfering with the espresso taste.
I’ve been playing with a recipe for spicy nuts for a while now, and finally settled on this. I tried various combinations of spices and peppers, but ended up settling on one of the simplest ones… sriracha and lime with a little extra kick, courtesy of smoked paprika. While these are not as spicy as I was envisioning, they pack a lot of flavor so I’m happy munching on them.
We were talking about non-dairy milks at dinner last night, and hazelnut milk came up. I don’t know how I never thought of making this before! I made three small batches today to test different proportions and additions, and loved the recipe below. Toasting it really brings out a different flavor, which felt richer to me. I also added a small bit of chocolate to one batch and it tasted like a Nutella drink. You can also add sugar if you want, but I prefer it unsweetened. However, the recipe below is more versatile, so I’m posting the plain version.