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 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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
Ever get that craving for just bread and butter? I don’t eat much bread now, but every so often, I really just want bakery-fresh bread with a layer of butter. Today was one of those days. Sadly, I didn’t have the foresight to take the butter out of the fridge before going to the bakery… and I wasn’t willing to wait. The recipe below is a twist on whipped butter. Only 3 ingredients, but each of them matter. I start with unsalted butter, so I can add salt to taste. I like the slight mineral taste of pink Himalayan salt, so I used that- but you can use any salt you want and adjust the quantity to suit your taste. I also added olive oil so that it wouldn’t harden completely when I put it back in the fridge (oil doesn’t become solid when cold). I love the taste of olive oil, so I used a good quality cold pressed extra virgin olive oil. If you’re not a fan of the taste, you can always use a milder olive oil.
Summer = grilling! So why shouldn’t that extend to salads? It’s amazing how something as simple as grilling can change an entire dish. This recipe is centered around dressing up grilled romaine hearts. But really, it’s just to give you ideas… play with the dressing, cheeses, nuts, and other toppings! I like the thinner dressings like the one below since it soaks into the romaine between the leaves. The picture shows one romaine heart plain, and one dressed up with blue cheese and pecans.
We had an ice cream party at work this week, and the forecast for the week was in the 90s… totally put me in the mood for pina coladas and pain killers! The sorbet below started out as a pina colada sorbet with just pineapple and coconut. But, somehow, it morphed towards a pain killer as I kept adding/adjusting ingredients. I love how the final sorbet came out- a slight kick of ginger with a creamy ice cream-like texture. I will definitely be making it again this summer!
My breakfast for the week. I’m considering it relatively healthy since it has whole wheat flour, nut flour, and nuts. These can be modified to be vegan by replacing the milk with almond or coconut milk- both taste great with slight differences in flavor.
These little cookies really hit an Indian note with the cumin and black pepper. They are based on a recipe for Pepper-Cumin Cookies. I changed some of the quantities and replaced some of the all purpose flour with cashew flour since I like the texture more.
I love making these cookies because you can make them for any occasion by changing the shape in the middle. Plus, they look really pretty with the dusting of sugar on top. I tend to go light on the sugar dusting because I like the speckled look. I made similar cookies a few years ago (Almond Jam Cookies), but I’ve been playing with how to make them with less white flour and eggless so everyone in my family can eat them.
This jam came into creation because I really dislike ketchup. It’s sweet and doesn’t taste like tomato to me. I’ve made a more than a few batches of the tomato jam, varying the spices and sugars, until I settled on the recipe below. You can definitely make a smaller batch and keep it in the fridge if you don’t want to go through the whole canning process. I really like this jam as a spread (especially with cream cheese), as a topping for soups, spread on cheese or roasted veggies, and many other ways… It’s not ketchup, but I’ll actually eat this! =)
For onion lovers!!! This takes the bite out of onions, and results in a sweetish, melty, multi-purpose onion spread. Since this recipe does take a long time to cook down, I make a large batch at a time and then use it in all kinds of things- pizza, soup, sandwiches, mixed into dips, on veggies… sky’s the limit! The picture above has two of my favorite spreads on brie- caramelized onions (left) and tomato jam (right- recipe coming soon).
Think of pastel-colored after dinner mints that melt in your mouth… Then, think of Thin Mint cookies or Andes mints… Now smash them together! It took me a few tries, but I finally got these candies to be chocolaty, minty, and melt-in-your-mouthy! And the real treat is that they are super easy to make. =)
The first time I had quinoa risotto was in a Peruvian restaurant, and I loved the creaminess and texture. It paired my love of risotto with my love of quinoa, and has the added benefit of being a healthier dish. This was a first time experiment, and I really like how it came out. Peas and asparagus are in season, so I decided to make it a green themed dish. Continue reading →