I’m laying low this week after a marathon of Passover cooking and baking last weekend! This year for spring break, we’re taking a little stay-cation at home and enjoying a visit from my mom. It has been nice to have her here without the hustle and bustle of getting school lunches ready and driving around to soccer practices and music lessons. And my house smells like espresso whenever she’s in my kitchen. Yum!
However, I did not forget about you, my dear readers. I have some fabulous favorites to share with you today!
Hedley & Bennett aprons
Sad but true, I probably get more excited these days about adding an apron to my collection than I do a new pair of shoes or cocktail dress. I love it when I can find a good quality, simple apron that doesn’t look like it came out of the 1950s! I recently purchased a couple of aprons from Hedley & Bennett and have hardly been able to take them off since! (Is that sad too?) The company was started by a young culinary student who was sick of the hot, stiff, boring aprons that they had to wear throughout school- she thought that there was room for a little style in the kitchen and I couldn’t agree more. They have several cute styles to choose from, and the are made with high quality materials (reversible and washable denim, linen, or chambray) and have features that I love such as an adjustable neck strap (very important for shorties like me,) double lap pockets, and a towel loop. Their aprons come in all different sizes, lengths, and colors and there is even a home line with napkins and potholders, plus children’s aprons that I think are adorable and a great gift! Check out their website here! http://www.hedleyandbennett.com
Nut milk bags
I don’t know what I ever did before almond milk rolled into town. I use almond milk almost daily for finishing my oatmeals and porridges, in smoothies and smoothie bowls, on granola, in quick breads and desserts, you name it. I am committed to making my own as all of the commercially prepared brands contain additives such as gums, natural flavors, and carrageenen, which are all “No’s” in my book. Plus nothing compares to the taste and texture of homemade. So I think it is very much worth it to make your own. For the step-by-step, check out my post on how to make almond milk.
If you want to make your own almond milk, you can use a fine mesh sieve, but the best nut milk comes from using a nut milk bag! Nut milk bags are great for making quick work of straining the milk after blending, plus it allows you to squeeze every last drop of creamy goodness out of the almonds. I prefer them over cheesecloth, which allows too much pulp to come through. The best nut milk bags are made from nylon which can stretch and twist without tearing.
Nut milk bags are rather inexpensive and should last at least a couple years. I have two that I bought several years ago that I use twice/week and they are still holding strong. When I am done using my nut milk bag, I turn it inside out, rinse it with warm water and let it air dry. My local Whole Foods sells nut milk bags near the almond butter and you can also get them on Amazon. This Vita Nut Milk bag for $9 and this one by Elaina Love for $6 are both great.
Since I can’t handle the caffeine in coffee, drinking hot tea is my daily beverage with breakfast or mid-morning. While there are many great teas out there that are so beneficial to our health, Tulsi tea is one of my regulars. Tulsi Tea is made from Tulsi leaves, which is a plant also known as “Holy Basil.” It reigns from India and used in Ayurvedic medicine to counter stress and was once worshiped by Europeans for it’s extreme healing powers. Today the Tulsi plant is still used for medicinal purposes for treating conditions from the common cold to tuberculosis. In tea form Tulsi can be very calming, soothing and stress relieving (who doesn’t need that??), mood uplifting, and contains many antioxidants.
I buy the Organic India brand of Tulsi tea, which I find at Whole Foods. There are actually more than a dozen flavors of Tulsi tea, but the original has a lovely, lightly sweet flavor that resembles a blend of mint, licorice and clove.
Seasonal produce: Artichokes
With their tough, thistle-y exterior, artichokes can be quite intimidating and often overlooked. However, this delicious spring vegetable is only available fresh for a few months out of the year and is super nutritious and not to mention delicious. While the heart of the artichoke is what usually gets all of the love since it can be purchased already prepared and because it has the most flavor, you shouldn’t write off the leaves just yet. Actually, most of the nutrients of this vegetable reside in the leaves- artichoke leaf extract is actually used medicinally to treat high cholesterol among other things! Artichokes are also high in fiber, packed with antioxidants, and contain extremely beneficial phytonutrients. When picking out a whole artichoke, look for ones that are deep green in color, have a tight leaf formation and feel heavy for their size. Store your artichokes in the fridge where they will keep for about a week. Preparing whole artichokes can be a little intimidating if you don’t know how, but once you have it down you will be steaming artichokes in your sleep! Check out this how-to video from my site https://pamelasalzman.com/cook-whole-artichokes-video/ for guidance. Here are a couple of artichoke recipes from my site as well as some others from around the web!
Roasted artichokes with Chorizo Dressing from Foodie Crush
Roasted Artichokes with Red Pepper Aioli from A Spicy Perspective
Steamed Artichokes with Light Balsamic Vinaigrette from Serious Eats
Superfood spotlight: Lucuma
I am always on the lookout for low-glycmemic sweeteners that won’t raise my blood sugar. Lucuma powder fits the bill and is a great addition to smoothies and juices, and can even be used as a sweetener for desserts. Lucuma is a Peruvian fruit that actually looks similar to an avocado but is bright yellow on the inside. This super nutritious fruit contains iron, zinc, calcium, protein and fiber just to name a few of the benefits. The flavor complex is pretty unique and similar to that of maple, caramel, and custard. Lucuma is actually a very popular ice cream flavor in parts of South America! The great thing about Lucuma is that while there are a variety of less-processed, unrefined sweeteners out there (maple syrup, honey, coconut sugar), this is a sweetener that is not only unrefined and low-glycemic but actually has lots of health benefits! Try subbing in lucucma powder in baked goods for part of the sugar, or stir it straight into smoothies, hot chocolate, yogurt, oatmeal, or puddings! Whole Foods sells lucuma and it is also available on Thrive Market, vitacost, and amazon!
Raw Vegan Lucuma Ice Cream from Sunfood
Coconut Fudge by Julie Morris
Lucuma Caramel Brownies by Vegan Wealth
Brownie Batter Balls by Amber Shea Crawley