I was at the farmers market this week and guess what’s back? Winter Squash! I love, love, love every variety of winter squash from butternut to kabocha to acorn to delicata. So sweet and packed with nutrition, especially in the way of the carotenoids family of phytonutrients, winter squash can be made so many different ways and have a long shelf life (up to a few months!) But many people are intimidated to cook them because they don’t know how to cut them up. Here’s my latest video to show you how!
I had completely forgotten about this video I taped a few months ago for a chicken recipe I had posted in the spring. It is probably my favorite new chicken dish in the last couple years and it was a big success in my classes when I taught it. I had done this video though instead using cherry tomatoes instead of jarred tomatoes, and using fresh basil. I am still seeing local cherry tomatoes in our farmers markets, so you can still make this variation on the recipe. Otherwise, just view the tutorial and learn my technique for carving and presenting the chicken breasts. Check out my other videos on YouTube here!
For the recipe, please go to this post here!
I love summer rolls — crunchy, fresh, and flavorful all wrapped in a delicate rice paper wrapper. Summer rolls are one of those things I never thought I could make at home. The wrappers, the rolling, the sauce! Not only are they way easier than I imagined, but they can be quite the nutritious dish to boot. Filled with loads of raw veggies and herbs, a summer roll is like a salad all wrapped up in a neat little package. In the video above, I go a pretty traditional route with avocado, cabbage, carrots and herbs, but also I use less traditional roasted sweet potato sticks and shredded Brussels sprouts. Rice paper is so neutral. Who says you couldn’t put a cobb salad in there or poached chicken, corn, cabbage and barbecue sauce? I say the sky’s the limit and can we talk about perfect these would be for school lunches?! Per-fect!
If you want to make these in advance, cover them with a damp paper towel and refrigerate for ideally up to one day, but I’ve even kept them 2 or 3 days.
- For the sauce:
- 2 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter, preferably organic (or cashew or almond butter)
- 1 Tablespoon unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
- ½ Tablespoon raw honey (choose a mild flavor)
- ½ Tablespoon water
- ½ Tablespoon shoyu or gluten-free tamari
- pinch sea salt
- pinch cayenne pepper
- For the summer rolls:
- 8 (8-inch) rice paper rounds, plus additional in case some tear
- 1 large sweet potato, (peeled if desired) and cut into ¼” matchsticks
- unrefined coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
- sea salt and black pepper to taste
- 4 medium brussels sprouts, thinly sliced or shredded
- ¼ head of small red cabbage, thinly sliced or shredded
- 2 medium carrots, shredded, grated, or julienned
- 1 large avocado, cut into thin slices
- handful each of fresh mint leaves, basil leaves and cilantro leaves
- Other possibilities: cooked shrimp, chicken, tempeh or tofu, cooked rice noodles
- To make the sauce: whisk together all of the ingredients in a bowl or a glass jar and set aside. *
- To make the summer rolls: Drizzle the sweet potatoes with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in a 400 degree oven for 18-20 minutes until tender.
- Fill a shallow baking dish or a skillet with warm water. Soak 1 rice paper round (make sure there are no holes) in warm water until pliable, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove from the water and transfer to a plate or cutting board.
- Spread 2 teaspoons of peanut sauce on the rice paper (or omit and use as a dip once rolls are assembled) and top with 2-3 large mint leaves, 1-2 large basil leaves, a pinch of cilantro leaves, a
- pinch each of the Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and carrot, a few sticks of sweet potato, and a couple of avocado slices, taking care not to overstuff. Roll up rice paper tightly around filling, folding in sides and continue rolling.
- Transfer summer roll to a plate and cover with dampened paper towels.
- Make the remaining rolls in the same manner. Serve rolls halved on the diagonal.
- Store in the fridge covered with a damp paper towel 2-3 days.
You are going to have so much fun making these summer rolls!
If you’re new here, I am OBSESSED with veggie burgers. I have two posted on this website — a black bean and brown rice burger with smoky red pepper sauce and a chickpea burger. Both are hearty, flavorful and delicious. This black bean and beet burger might just be my favorite. If you don’t like beets (and I know you’re out there,) I’m not sure if this will change your mind since you can definitely see the beets, but the burger tastes like more of the spices in the mix than anything else. Check out my YouTube video here on how to roast beets.
These are great for Meatless Mondays and so perfect for back-to-school since you can make a batch and freeze them for an easy weeknight dinner. I have pulled them straight from the freezer and cooked them frozen, just like you could with a store-bought one. I love to eat a veggie burger on a bed of greens with a sauce or spread of some sort, cooked onions and avocado. Of course the kids and my husband love eating them as a true burger on a bun with or without cheese. My favorite buns are any of the sprouted Food For Life Baking ones, toasted. The family is really into the “Million Dollar Buns” by Dave’s Killer Bread. I wrote about Dave’s Killer Bread in one of my Friday Favorites. Some of the varieties contain canola oil which I avoid like the plague (refined, pro-inflammatory, usually GMO, blech) and the buns contain canola oil so they’re a once-in-a-blue-moon kind of food.
Although I include all types of whole foods on this site, including animal products, I do think we should be eating a mostly plant-based, anti-inflammatory, low-glycemic diet. These burgers fit the bill and still keep all the burger lovers in my house very happy, too.
- 8 ounces beets, steamed or roasted, and peeled (1 large or 2 small)
- 3 cups black beans, or 2 15-ounce cans, drained and rinsed
- ½ cup cooked, cold brown rice
- ¼ cup dried figs, diced small
- ¼ cup oat flour
- ½ cup diced red onion
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons brown mustard
- 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Unrefined coconut oil for cooking patties
- Sprouted grain hamburger buns, for serving (optional)
- Accompaniments: grilled onions, avocado, tomato, cheese, sprouts
- Quarter the beets and pulse along with 2 cups of the black beans in a food processor until roughly chopped.
- Add beet-bean mixture to a large bowl, along with the next 13 ingredients (remaining black beans, brown rice, dried figs, oat flour, red onion, garlic, smoked paprika, brown mustard, ground cumin, ground coriander, thyme leaves, salt, pepper). Stir to combine, mashing the mixture together with a spatula or wooden spoon.
- Using a half cup measure, form six patties. Cover them with parchment paper or plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.
- In a large skillet or on a griddle pan, heat an ⅛ inch of oil. Add the burgers and cook over medium heat, turning once, until browned and heated through, about 6 minutes. Serve with desired accompaniments.
I love beets and I will happily eat them raw or cooked, warm or cold. Beets are part of the chenopod family which also includes Swiss chard, spinach and quinoa. They are quite good for you! Beets are high in vitamin C, fiber, and essential minerals like potassium (essential for good nerve and muscle function) and manganese (which contributes to healthy bones, liver, kidneys, and pancreas). They also contain the B vitamin folate, which helps reduce the risk of birth defects.
I recently taught a delicious salad in my summer classes which included roasted beets, burrata, hazelnuts and mint. Most people found it very helpful to watch a demo of how I cooked the beets from scratch. I say “most people” because some already knew how to cook beets, and some didn’t care because they are perfectly content to buy them already cooked at the market.
And believe me, I’m well aware that many grocery stores have cooked beets either cell-wrapped in the produce section or at the salad bar. You will pay a premium of course, and when you watch this video you’ll be convinced how easy it is to do yourself. The only flaw with the video is that my demo of inserting the tip of a knife into the beet to test for doneness was edited out. Frown. But the gist of it is that you want the knife to go into the center easily.
For sure beets take some time to cook, anywhere between 45 and 75 minutes depending on the size. So they’re not “instant.” If you have different sizes, set the cook time based on the largest beet. I generally like to prep them ahead either in the morning or up to three days in advance. Once they have cooled, pull them from the pan and store them in the fridge whole, peeled or peeled and cut.
I live and teach in Los Angeles where people grab onto a food fad and hold on for dear life. Until the next cool thing comes around. Acai bowls were all the rage a few years ago. Maybe they haven’t made it to your neck of the woods yet, but no matter because you can make one yourself. Not only are acai bowls delicious, but they are a pretty healthy snack. It’s almost like a not-as-sweet soft serve made with frozen acai, frozen bananas and frozen strawberries plus a little juice or almond milk to help blend it. But it’s the toppings (like granola, coconut, nuts, banana) that make an acai bowl even more delicious because of the contrast in textures. And then when acai bowls weren’t exciting enough, pitaya bowls came onto the scene.
And then someone figured out that you could pour your smoothie into a bowl and top it with any number of great toppings and eat it with a spoon instead of a straw. Genius.
Most people seem to make their smoothie bowls pretty liquid-y, but slightly thicker than a normal smoothie, at least so the toppings don’t sink. I personally like them as thick as an acai bowl or soft serve. I taught these in my breakfast classes last year and everyone preferred the thicker versions. There is no right or wrong way to do it. BUT, if you want to eat this as a meal replacement, I recommend getting some protein in the smoothie or in the toppings.
Protein could be:
- nuts or nut butter
- seeds, like hemp, flax meal, sunflower, pumpkin or chia
- protein powder
These are some of my recent creations that I have posted on Instagram and Facebook, but like I said — there are infinite possibilities. Watch my video if you’re a visual learner and also because I show you how to make a smoothie bowl in a Vitamix and a food processor.
And if you really need an actual recipe just to get you started, see an example below. Or just make your favorite smoothie with a little less liquid, pour it into a bowl and add lots of toppings! Have fun and stay cool!
- 3 ripe bananas, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces, about 2 cups (if you’re using a Vitamix or another high-powered blender, you can cut bananas into larger pieces), FROZEN or 1 ½ ripe bananas, frozen and 4 frozen figs
- 1 cup frozen strawberries
- ¼ - ½ cup unsweetened almond milk or milk of choice (or even more if you want a pourable smoothie)
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)
- sweeten to taste with a few teaspoons (more or less) of raw honey, Grade A maple syrup or a couple drops of stevia, if necessary (you might not need any)
- Toppings: bee pollen, hemp seeds, raw cacao nibs, toasted coconut, chopped walnuts or almonds, granola
- Place bananas and strawberries in the bowl of a food processor or Vitamix or other high-powered blender. Add almond milk, vanilla and sweetener to taste. Process until smooth and creamy. I find that the food processor needs a little more liquid and a few more seconds to achieve the desired consistency, which is like soft serve ice cream.
- Transfer the ice cream to bowls and serve immediately with toppings, if desired. If eating this as a meal for breakfast, try to add protein toppings such as nuts or seeds or add a scoop of protein powder to the blender. If you use a sweetened protein powder, add a handful of ice to the blender so the smoothie is not too sweet.
- You can also store the smoothie bowl in the freezer for another time, but you’ll need to allow it to sit on the countertop to soften up for a few minutes before eating so that it’s scoopable.
- Notes: these measurements are flexible. Use more strawberries if you like or sub blueberries.
Another variation: chocolate smoothie bowl – use 4 frozen bananas, 2 Tbs. raw cacao powder, ¼ - ½ cup almond milk, ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract, sweetener if necessary
Mocha smoothie bowl: make chocolate smoothie bowl with 2 teaspoons instant coffee powder
Chocolate peanut butter smoothie bowl: make chocolate smoothie bowl with 2 Tablespoons (or more) natural peanut butter.
For those of you that are already friends with your food processor, feel free to bypass this post and I will see you back here on Friday! For those of you that aren’t, you are not alone. One of the most common requests that I get from my students is asking how to use their food processors. They are often intimidated by all of the parts and discs and blades, despite having had their machines for years!
A food processor is actually one of the most useful and versatile tools you can have in the kitchen, and there are so many ways you can use it that will allow you to really step up your game in the kitchen. In this video, I demo two different food processors- the Breville, which I own, and the Cuisnart, which I find that about 90% of my students own if they have one. If you take a few minutes to watch and learn with me, I guarantee you will be a food processor pro in no time. Which also means that you will be able to shred and grate all kinds of different veggies, cheese, you name it, in a matter of seconds. I also use my food processor for pureeing and blending and making pastry dough. See my pie crust video here.
So dust off your blades and discs and let’s get processing!
My fabulous 20th anniversary trip has come to an end. My husband and I returned yesterday from 6 whole days in Tulum, Mexico with our dear friends whom we met on our honeymoon in Tahiti 20 years ago. We have been close friends ever since and it was such a joy to celebrate our marriages and our friendship this past week. It was all of our first time in Tulum and I highly recommend a trip there if eco-chic, great food and a chill vibe is up your alley.
One of the many reasons the four of us get along is that we all love food. Some people think they love food, but they just like it. We are members of the clean-plate club, seekers of authentic, off-the-beaten-path dishes, and we plan our next meal before we’ve finished the one we are eating. “Maybe we should skip dinner,” was said never by any of us! If you follow me on Instagram, I’m sure you’ve observed what I’m talking about.
One of our favorite breakfasts of the trip was Chilaquiles, which isn’t exactly diet food. But then again, I pretty much eat off my normal plan when I am traveling. Chilaquiles are either fried pieces of corn tortillas or corn tortilla chips, topped with shredded chicken or beef, and/or fried egg or scrambled eggs, plus avocado, onion and either a red or green sauce. It’s ridiculous. See image below:
It occurred to me when I was thinking about my next blog post that I haven’t shared my secret to making scrambled eggs in a stainless steel skillet. There are a few questions that come up in my classes regularly and cooking eggs NOT in a non-stick is a biggie. I am not a fan of Teflon or most non-stick coatings which usually contain PFTE’s and/or PFOA’s, the toxic chemicals in Teflon which leach when heated. So I use either stainless steel, cast iron or enameled cast iron.Continue reading