five friday favorites 08.28.15

I think there are three “new years.”  The first is obviously January 1, the beginning of the calendar year.  The second is the first day of spring, nature’s new year when nature has a rebirth of sorts and we ourselves may find ourselves making a clean, fresh start.  And then there’s my third new year, BACK TO SCHOOL!  Right before the first day of school, I find myself organizing like crazy, making meal plans, freezing anything that can be frozen and attempting to set everyone up for a smooth school year.  I’m exhausted before anything has even started, but we’ll have muffins until Thanskgiving!

Here are some of my favorites that I’ve been talking about in class lately.  Have a great weekend!


Trader Joe’s Super Seed and Ancient Grain Blend

Trader Joe's Super Seed & Ancient Grain Blend | pamela salzman

Trader Joe’s has really been on the ball lately with food trends and this new Super Seed and Ancient Grain blend is so exception. It is no secret anymore that seeds and grains are extremely beneficial to our health — high in protein, good fats and fiber, not to mention the minerals and anti-oxidants specific to each seed.  There are countless recipes on the web that help us incorporate seeds into our everyday diets – chia puddings, hemp seed dressings, flax crackers, etc.  But here, Trader Joe’s has gone and taken a slew of healthy seeds (chia, hemp, flax, buckwheat) and combined them with the healthiest grains/pseudo-cereals (quinoa, millet, amaranth) and put into a little bag for us.

The buckwheat and millet are sprouted which makes them more digestible and nutritious (and something I don’t always have time to do) and the quinoa and amaranth are organic. What I really love about this mix is the convenience factor; while I often have these same seeds and grains stocked, this saves me from having to pull 7 jars or bags from my pantry to get the same variety. It is all in one place, and the combination of these seeds and grains is so crunchy and satisfying.  I cannot get enough of these on my morning smoothie bowls and oatmeal. I have even thought how great these would be baked into a cookie, quick bread or granola bar…hmmm.. I see a recipe coming on, stay tuned!


Heath Ceramics

Heath Ceramics | pamela salzman

When I put so much time, energy and effort into the food that I cook, it really makes a big difference to me to serve it on dishes that I love, especially if I am entertaining. My best girlfriends gave me a few Heath pieces about 8 years ago and I loved them so much I proceeded to replace all my every day dishes with them.  In fact, most of the food images I take involve my Heath pieces.  So many people who have attended classes in my home kitchen have asked me about them, so I knew I’d have to include them in a Friday Favorites!

Heath Ceramics is known for their simple, matte ceramics that have a mid-century look. The dishes are heavy and durable and come in a variety of lovely muted neutral colors.  Most of my pieces are from the Coupe line in Opaque White.  I am lucky enough that they have a beautiful store here in Los Angeles, where they carry a slew of wonderful home goods as well. What I love about a company like Heath is they use recycled clay in all of their pieces and are committed to minimizing their environmental impact, and they take several steps to do so. These pieces are classic and timeless and whether you are getting a serving bowl, coffee mug, or bud vase you will have it for years to come.


Silicone Pastry Brushes

silicone pastry brushes | pamela salzman

Silicone pastry brushes are such a helpful kitchen tool. They make easy work of things like brushing a BBQ sauce onto grilled chicken, painting egg wash onto pastry or brushing oil onto a hot grill. The reason that I prefer a silicone brush to a natural one is because it is so easy clean, does not retain any odors, is completely heat resistant and does not loose it’s bristles onto the food, which can sometimes happed with natural brushes. Silicone is inert and doesn’t leach anything harmful into your food.  Also, the bristles won’t clump or frizz like natural hair bristles, which means that this will last you years in the kitchen. I have 3 different ones and they are in top condition after tons of use for many, many years.  There is a great one on Amazon by OXO and you can also get these at any kitchen store such as Williams Sonoma or Sur La Table.


Seasonal Produce: Plums

plums | pamela salzman

During summer stone fruit season, plums almost always get completely overshadowed by peaches and nectarines. This is unfortunate because plums are divine and the variety in which they come is nothing short of crazy. Purple, red, green, Flavor King, Santa Rosa (my personal favorite,) the list goes on and on. Plums are in season right now and I guarantee you if you can find some good local plums at your farmer’s market you will not be disappointed. Plums are extremely nutritious as well and are known for their high Vitamin C and fiber content. When choosing plums look for one that give slightly to gentle pressure and are slightly soft at the tip. I like to buy plums that are slightly on the firmer side and allow them to ripen at home. Store plums at room temperature on the countertop until ripe and the store in the fridge. Plums are often used in desserts like cakes and crumbles, but I also love them in salads with or without cheese. You could sub plums in any of these recipes of mine, below. Or, check out some other recipes from around the web for more “unconventional” ways to use plums!

Sub plums for apricots in this crisp or sub plums for peaches in this crisp.

Sub plums for some of the berries in this Mixed Berry Buckle.

Grilled Kale Salad with Ricotta and Plums from Bon Appetit

Heirloom Tomato and Plum Salad from Williams Sonoma

Purple Plum Torte by Smitten Kitchen

Grilled Chicken Breasts with Plum Salsa from Cooking Light


Superfood Spotlight: He Shou Wu

He Shou Wu by Sun Potion | pamela salzman

I definitely think there is a place in a healthy balanced diet for supplements like Chinese herbs. These herbs are not very common in the United States, but are sworn by in other countries due to their outstanding health benefits. Considering that the US is not necessarily one of the most healthy nations in terms of obesity and heart disease, I don’t mind taking advice from other cultures and countries and incorporating Chinese herbs into my weekly routine. The herb that I wanted to tell you about today is He Shou Wu, which I buy from a company called Sun Potion and it is sold in powder form. This specific herb, which is actually derived from a root plant, is known for its ability to nourish the blood, hair, skin and nervous system. It is often times taken to reverse and prevent gray hairs from appearing, so believe me when I say He Shou Wu had me at hello. This herb is also said to improve fertility in both men and women, and increases red blood cell count. It is available on Thrive Market for a great price (40% off what they sell it on their website for!)   I love that it comes in powder form because I can then add a spoonful to my smoothie or hot tea.

Five friday favorites — back-to-school snacks 08.21.15

To continue my back-to-school theme from last week, I thought I would highlight some of the purchased foods that seem to make it into my kids’ lunch boxes regularly.  Instead of Five Friday Favorites, I had to include a sixth.  I will admit, I do make a lot of snacks and sweets from scratch, but not everything.  In as much as I love to bake and create, I don’t have unlimited time!  Next week is my last week before the kids start school, so I will take two half days to bake many batches of cookie dough and quick breads to freeze.  Last year, this was really helpful and the rolls of cookie dough lasted me about 3 months!

The items I chose to highlight this week are the ones my students have been asking me about most often as of late.

Lundberg Brown Rice Cakes

favorite rice cakes | pamela salzman

Rice cakes are one of the few packaged foods that I always have on hand at my house and they are perfect for school lunches and quick on-the-go snacks. Our favorites for these are the Lundberg organic lightly salted brown rice cakes. The ingredients are clean (organic brown rice and sea salt) and while I wouldn’t necessarily say these are health food, they are a much better alternative to chips. My son is really the one that takes these to school most often and he likes them because they hold up well to healthy toppings like nut butters or hummus or smashed avocado. You can also break them into pieces to use with dips, or as an alternative to croutons in a soup or salad. I get mine at Whole Foods or Thrive Market.


Elemental Superfood Bars

elemental bars | pamela salzman

It is no secret to anyone that one of the easiest portable snacks on the market come in the form of a bar. Bars have been a staple in the American diet for decades and while they were originally touted as being a health food or meal replacement, these things have been all over the board with ingredients. We have come a long way since the days of the Slim Fast Bar, but there are still several bars on the market that contain ingredients I want to avoid like processed oils, sugars, and protein isolates. It is so important to read the ingredients closely when choosing a bar because you might be surprised at how unhealthy many of them are.  While I love both this homemade granola bar and this homemade larabar that I have on my website, it is nice to have a good clean store-bought option for emergencies. These Elemental Superfood bars are so delicious and the ingredients are 100% clean and nutritious. They are gluten-free and dairy-free and come in a variety of flavors such as mulberry, cacao + spirulina and cranberry, almond + lucuma. I bought these at my local produce shop, GROW, and they are available on Elemnetal’s website here as well as Whole Foods.  They even have a crumble, which is a granola-like snack that would be a perfect topping for oatmeal, and smoothie bowls for a healthy breakfast!


Dave’s Killer Bread

Dave's Killer Bread | pamela salzman

Sandwiches are probably one of the most common and versatile foods for school lunches. There are so many whole, healthy and delicious fillings you could use for sandwiches- nut butters and chia jams, hummus and veggies, poached chicken and avocado, the list goes on and on. A big component of that sandwich is the bread, and I want to make sure that I am giving my kids a good, healthy bread that is full of fiber and protein rather than white flour, sugar, caramel coloring and processed oils.  I adore the sprouted breads from Food For Life, but they aren’t quite sandwich material (too dry.)   It has been challenging to find a bread to fit the bill, but I have finally come across a great sandwich bread—Dave’s Killer Bread. What I love about this bread (particularly 4 specific flavors- 21 Whole Grains, Good Seed, Seeded Honey Wheat, and Powerseed) is that there are at least 4 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein per serving, which is important if you want to keep feeling satisfied until your next meal.  Also, all of the ingredients are completely clean and organic, and there are no processed oils in the 4 specific kinds I listed above. While I have found several other healthful breads (organic, sprouted, and the like), I love this bread because it is soft enough to use as sandwich bread.   I should also note that this bread stays fresh a bit longer than a lot of the “healthy” breads which get stale after only a couple of days. Dave’s Killer Bread is sold at Whole Foods, and I have even seen it at Trader Joe’s in the past. You can check out their website here to see where they sell it near you.


Roasted Seaweed Snacks

seaweed | pamela salzman

While we all are knowledgeable about the benefits of vegetable grown on land, sea vegetables don’t get quite the same amount of attention. Sea vegetables (or seaweed as we more commonly know it) are actually extremely beneficial to our health. Seaweed has a very high protein content, which is especially great for vegetarians. It has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties, and it is a fantastic source of minerals and iodine, which is hard to get in the normal diet and extremely important for a healthy thyroid. While some seaweed such as arame and wakame can be a bit off-putting for kids, my son is happy to munch on these roasted nori seaweed snacks all day long. They are crispy, flaky and salty which does the job for him and I am happy because not only is this a great substitute for chips but he is also getting a few health benefits. These are perfect to throw in your kid’s backpacks for an afternoon snack or part of a healthy lunch. These sea snacks are available so many places—from Trader Joes to Whole Foods, Thrive Market, Vitacost, and Amazon. Make sure you check the flavor because these also come with different seasonings such as sesame and wasabi.


Mary’s Gone Crackers

Mary's Gone Crackers | pamela salzman

These crackers are a great option when you need a grab-and-go snack or a savory treat for school lunches. Mary’s Gone Crackers is committed to creating organic, gluten-free, non-gmo, vegan crackers, which covers all bases.  The crackers are so light, crispy and delicious I don’t think your kids will be able to detect that they are healthy. The ingredients are completely clean and consist mostly of organic brown rice, quinoa and a combination of flax and sesame seeds. They also have pretzels available which I have never tried but look like the cleanest and most nutritious pretzels I have seen on the market! They also have 3 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber per serving which is not too shabby for a side snack.  And back-to-school aside, these are great on a cheese board, especially if you are accommodating gluten-free folks.  I have seen these at my local Whole Foods, and they are also available on Thrive Market and Vitacost.


Santa Cruz Organic Peanut Butter

Santa Cruz peanut butter | pamela salzman

Peanut Butter is such a pantry staple for me all year, but especially during the school year.  It is great for breakfast swirled in some oatmeal, blended into a smoothie, quick and simple for a lunch sandwich, and even great for a healthy snack on a rice cake or piece of celery.   Because my kids love peanut butter, we go through jars of it often and I also like to make sure that I am getting a good, clean peanut butter so that I can give it to my kids with confidence, knowing that it is not full of pesticides and contaminated from a plastic container. Enter Santa Cruz organic dark-roasted peanut butter, which is the go-to peanut butter in my house. It meets the two most important qualities that I look for in peanut butter- organic, because peanuts are very heavily sprayed and conventional peanuts test high for pesticides; and in a glass jar, because foods that are high in fat usually cause the plastics to leach.  Glass is ideal for storing liquids and foods that are high in fat, and peanut butter is no exception.  This brand also is completely clean- there are no other oils, sugar, or salt added, just 100% roasted organic peanuts.  It comes in creamy or crunchy, and a new variety called “Light Roasted.”  The dark roasted which I get has a rich peanut flavor, but the light is (obviously) lighter in flavor.   I get this on Thrive Market where they have it for a great price, but it is also available on Vitacost and Amazon (way overpriced.)

For some more back-to-school food inspiration, check out my previous posts on Mastering School Lunch, Building a Better Breakfast, and Snack on This!

Five friday favorites — back-to-school lunchbox edition 8.14.15

It pains me a little to write a post about getting geared up for back-to-school, but it’s upon us.  In fact, I know there are some schools that are already in session!  I’m taking my daughter back to college next weekend and my other two begin just before Labor Day, so I have a little time before I have to start making lunches again.  I think having the right lunch equipment is part of the battle, so I thought I would devote today’s post to my favorite lunch accessories.  With three kids and about 16 years of lunch-making under my belt, I have definitely gone through my share of good and not-so-good lunch boxes.  One thing I did learn though, is that you get what you pay for.


planetbox | pamela salzman

PlanetBox has been accompanying my youngest child to school for years now, and I couldn’t be happier with the quality of this stainless steel lunch box and carry bag.  PlanetBox comes in three different styles depending on how many compartments that you want in each box. For my son, I have found the “Rover” style to be most useful as it provides multiple smaller compartments, which allows him to have more food options. The other styles are great if you normally pack just a salad and sandwich, or fruit and veggies.

PlanetBox does not work well with foods that might leak, but I have successfully used the “dipper” containers which come with the Rover for things like BBQ sauce, Ranch dressing and yogurt.  I do not recommend PlanetBox for older kids (middle school and above) because the box doesn’t accommodate a large amount of food.  So this might be my last year with PlanetBox.  🙁

These boxes can seem a bit expensive at $60 a pop, but trust me when I say they’re worth it- I have had my son’s PlanetBox for years and it is still going strong—I have replaced the outer carrying shell once, but the inner stainless steel compartment is going on its 4th year.   You can buy PlanetBox from the company’s website or limited styles on amazon.

GoGreen Lunch Boxes

gogreen lunchbox | pamela salzman

My kids used GoGreen lunch boxes a few years ago and loved them.  Each box comes with a stainless steel water bottle that fits into its own compartment, plus four other compartments.  The compartments are deeper than PlanetBox which is good if PlanetBox seems to not hold enough food for your child.   The boxes are BPA- and phthalate-free and also come with a stylish carrying bag that comes in a variety of colors and cute prints.  And there is even an erasable white board on the inside flap for your special messages.  These boxes have a turn ‘n lock technology that secures each compartments with silicon bands when closed, ensuring that the compartments will not leak into the one other.  I never had an issue with leaking.  The case is also dishwasher-safe.  You can purchase GoGreen Lunchboxes from or you can check the site for retailers near you.



lunchbots | pamela salzman

LunchBot containers are my go-to containers for school lunches and travel. They are made of stainless steel, which allows them to be super durable, lightweight, and non-leaching. I often use these if my son is taking a thermos to school for his lunch and doesn’t need a full-size lunch box full of food, but rather just a smaller container with a few snacks. I also use these to pack snacks for traveling- the size is perfect for fitting right into my bag and they are not heavy or bulky. LunchBots come in a variety of compartment options- 1, 2, 3, or 4 compartments for the standard size box and there is also an “adult size” box with 5 compartments if you are looking for something bigger. I have had these containers for years and they really hold up well. One thing to note however is that these are not guaranteed leak-proof between compartments, so you do not want to use these for anything runny or liquid. They do have options for leak-proof round containers if you need those for liquids.

Lunchbots are available from and amazon.


thermos | pamela salzman

Believe me when I say I understand how challenging making school lunches can be. Figuring out a nutritious meal that can be eaten at room temp, is filling and satisfying, and can travel well is not exactly the easiest of tasks, especially when the “customer” is a little picky. Using Thermoses for school lunches has really been a game-changer for me. They allow me to pack hot foods for my kids, which has expanded the meal possibilities for us. I can pack them things like soups, stews, taco and burrito fillings, lentils and basically last night’s leftovers. The method that I use to keep hot foods hot until lunchtime is to first fill an empty thermos with boiling hot water. Let it sit in there while I reheat the meal.  Discard the hot water and then pack the thermos with the hot meal.  Preheating the thermos helps to keep the food warmer for longer. And of course, by the same token, thermoses are great for keeping cold foods cold.  I always use thermoses that are stainless steel on the inside.  You never want to store hot foods in plastic since that causes the plastic to leach.

I like the 10-ounce size, but a 7-ounce size may be just right for toddlers.  Thermoses are available in so many stores, including the camping section at Target, or online on amazon.


Unbleached parchment bags

unbleached parchment bags | pamela salzman

Even though the schools in my area encourage “trash-free” lunches, sometimes the kids need a disposable lunch for field trips and the like.  As you know, I am not a huge fan of plastic.  Sometimes it’s unavoidable, but I have a great substitute for ziploc bags in lunch boxes — unbleached parchment paper bags.   They are biodegradable and because they are unbleached they will not leach anything into your food. They are made from a natural, renewable source and compostable.   Obviously not 100% leak-proof, but the bags also have a natural barrier that prevents any grease or oil from soaking through.  Available at Whole Foods and, among other places.


Lunch Skins Reusable Bags

lunchskins | pamela salzman

My friend Nicole gave me a few Lunchskins reusable bags a several years ago and I went crazy for them.  If you’re trying to limit plastic and trash, these are fab.  They are made from food-safe fabric and are washable (by hand or dishwasher.)  Lunchskins are certified lead-, BPA- and phthalate-free and they come in a few sizes and patterns.  Most of the styles close with a velcro tab, but there is one size which closes with a zipper.   The bags can stain though, so I wouldn’t put anything in there that bleeds.  You can find these all over, like at The Container Store, Bed Bath & Beyond,, and many other places.


Reusable Water Bottles:  Klean Kanteen, Clean Bottle and BKR

waterbottles | pamela salzman

I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but I always opt for glass or stainless steel over plastic, even if it’s BPA-free plastic.  Our favorite reusable water bottles are by Klean Kanteen for my son, Clean Bottle for my husband and BKR for my girls and me.

Klean Kanteen is stainless steel, so durable and comes in so many sizes and colors.  My son has several which he uses for school and sports.  They have held up beautifully for years, despite being thrown around a lot.

My husband likes Clean Bottle the Square, which is has a stainless steel body and BPA-free lid and base.  I comes apart and is very easy to clean.

My girls and I like BRK, which is a glass bottle wrapped in a silicone sheath.  Very cute colors and even one style with a heart!  I like the 500 ml size for lunches, but there is also a 1 liter size which is good for bringing to the gym.

Ice Packs

cold pack from planet box | pamela salzman

I use ice packs regularly to keep food at a safe temperature.  The packs from Planetbox are nice and flat and don’t leak.

If you have some summer left, do enjoy.  But to make back-to-school a smooth transition, you’ll never regret getting prepared now.  For some school lunch inspiration, I wrote a post two years ago here, and all the suggestions are still relevant today.  Check it out!

Have a great weekend!

Five friday favorites 08.07.15

Despite the freak storm very early Monday morning that left us without power and phones (and wifi) for 36 hours, my visit with my family on Long Island has been divine!  With tons of kids running around, all you need is a pool and lots of grass and everyone is usually happy.  And a lot of fruit.  We have to go to the market every day, which is not my style at all.  But there’s no way to store more than a day’s worth of food given the quantities we’re going through.  Of course I haven’t had to buy a single vegetable with my dad’s flourishing gardens in the backyard.  My idea of heaven.

Here are a couple of new faves and a few staples I’ve been talking about in class:


Kite Hill Dairy-free Almond Cream Cheese

kite hill almond cream cheese | pamela salzman

I love trying new products, especially ones that can help people with dietary intolerances.  I have been testing out some dairy-free cheeses lately — some good, some not so good.  I gave Kite Hill soft cheese a chance last year and I was not in love.  But then my friend Alex told me to try their almond cream cheese product.  I was skeptical, but Alex has a great palate, so I bought it.  AMAZING.  I am loving it!  It is made with almond milk and some natural gums and tastes very much like cream cheese.  It is definitely not as thick as regular cream cheese, but I didn’t mind that one bit.

Truthfully, Organic Valley makes a perfectly high quality organic cream cheese without preservatives.  But not everyone can tolerate pasteurized cow dairy and if I can avoid it or at least find a great substitute, I will.  I couldn’t find this Kite Hill cream cheese at my local Whole Foods, but I did find it by my parents’ house.  I will ask my Whole Foods to start carrying it as well as the chive flavor.

I have used it on toast and crackers, but I don’t know if you can sub it for cream cheese in a cheesecake.

King Arthur Gluten-free Multi-purpose Flour

favorite gluten-free flour blend | pamela salzman

These posts are about my favorites and I very often have to make a gluten-free version of something in my classes to accommodate an intolerance, and this is my go-to GF flour.  I know I could make my own flour blend and I have many times, but sometimes I get busy and I just can’t start measuring a dozen flours.  I have tried many gluten-free flour blends, but certainly not all that are on the market so I’d love to hear if you have a favorite.  This one by King Arthur gives me a great result every time.

I don’t care for the flour blends that are bean-based because the flavor is just off in the finished product.  I cannot bring myself to buy Cup4Cup because the first ingredient is cornstarch (and it’s not non-GMO/organic.)  King Arthur’s blend includes brown rice flour, tapioca starch, and potato starch.  What you have to know is that many times you need to add a little xanthan gum to a gluten-free flour mix in order for it to be elastic and have structure.  Xanthan gum is easy to find at Whole Foods and health food stores.   I use the one by Bob’s Red Mill.  Some gluten-free flour blends already contain xanthan gum, but in my experience it’s not always enough.

I use King Arthur GF Multipurpose Flour one-for-one in place of wheat or spelt flour, plus xanthan gum according to the chart on the bag of xanthan gum.  You can find this flour on the King Arthur website, on amazon (more expensive, but free shipping with prime) and at health food stores like Whole Foods.  Be aware though that all of King Arthur’s gluten-free packaging looks the same and if you’re not careful you could end up picking up a box of gluten-free pancake mix instead.  (I’m sure you can guess why I would think to offer such advice.)

If You Care Unbleached Parchment Paper

unbleached parchment | pamela salzman

Here’s the situation:  nonstick materials leach chemicals when heated.  Untreated aluminum leaches when heated.  99.9% of baking sheets are either non-stick or aluminum.  I need to provide a buffer between the food and the cooking surface so that my veggies don’t absorb chemicals.  Yes, you can use a silicone mat, but oils that have been baked in can be tough to clean and you certainly wouldn’t want to cook something on a silicone mat that was very strong smelling.  Just for the record, silicone mats are great, reusable, and totally safe.  I’ll reference them in a future post.

My preference is unbleached parchment paper, which coincidentally is coated with silicone!  I don’t buy bleached parchment paper because it likely contains dioxin, a serious toxin which occurs in the bleaching process.

Here’s how I use unbleached parchment paper:

  • to line non-stick or aluminum baking sheets when baking or roasting;
  • to line pyrex and other baking dishes if I want to pull out the cake or baked good easily;
  • for baking fish in parchment;
  • to wrap sweet potatoes or individual beets or garlic, for example, and then wrapped in foil;
  • to make a faux baking sheet with parchment on top and aluminum underneath for cooking on the grill or reheating in the toaster oven.

If You Care unbleached parchment paper can be found in natural foods store and online.

Superfood Spotlight:  Ghee

ghee | pamela salzman

I am a big proponent of including healthful fats in the diet.  High quality fat fuels the brain, lubricates the joints, helps us absorb fat soluble vitamins, A, D, E and K, nourishes the skin and can even keep blood cholesterol in check.

Ghee is a high quality fat that I love.  It is a type of clarified butter, where the milk solids, impurities and moisture have been removed leaving a rich, heat-stable fat.  Because the lactose and casein have been removed, ghee is often tolerated by many dairy-free individuals.  This fat contains both saturated and unsaturated fats as well as a whole range of short-, medium- and long-chain fatty acids.  High quality organic ghee also contains Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), known for its fat-burning properties.

Ayurvedic tradition uses ghee to stimulate digestive functioning, build energy, enhance sexual vitality, nourish the skin and eyes, and feed the organs.  Ghee is known as a substance that gives longevity, its elemental qualities balance the aging characteristics by enriching the living body.  The purity of ghee allows it to be deep penetrating and nourishing as it passes through the lipid membranes of cells. For this reason, the vitamins and minerals from food cooked in ghee will be drawn deep into the body where they impart the most benefit.

In terms of cooking, one of the benefits of ghee is the higher smoke point (remember, no milk solids), so it is great to use in stir-fries, to cook eggs, in curries and roasting vegetables.  Ghee can also be used as a spread on toast or baked sweet potatoes, stirred into hot porridges, and blended into tea or coffee (think bullet-proof coffee.)  Ghee cannot be used one-for-one in place of butter in baking because the moisture content is different.  The flavor is also slightly different from butter in that it is much more intense and almost nutty.

I recommend purchasing only organic ghee.  Remember from this post that toxins are stored in our fat and animal fat, which is why non-organic butter contains such a high percentage of toxins.  Ghee is the same.  The mother of one of my students made me some ghee, which was the best I ever had.  It’s actually pretty easy to make, but I’ll admit I do buy it.  My favorite is Ancient Organics ghee which is made in small batches from the milk of grass-fed cows.  I also have used and love OMGhee and Purity Farms, both of which are organic and use milk from pastured cows.  All ghee is shelf stable due to the absence of water and milk solids so there’s no need to refrigerate it.

Seasonal Produce: Eggplant

eggplant | pamela salzman

If you went to a standard supermarket, you might think there is only one variety of eggplant and that they are grown all year round.  Not so!  There are so many varieties, shapes and colors and eggplants are a summer vegetable with its peak from July to October.  If you are finding eggplant outside of the summer, they are imported, usually from Mexico.

In addition to containing many vitamins and minerals, eggplant is also rich in powerful phytonutrients, many of which have antioxidant activity. Phytonutrients contained in eggplant include phenolic compounds, such caffeic and chlorogenic acid, and flavonoids, such as nasunin, which is concentrated in the skin.

Eggplants belong to the Nightshade family of vegetables which includes potatoes, bell peppers, and tomatoes.  It is said that nightshades aggravate inflammation in people with conditions such as arthritis.  I think it’s a good idea to be conscientious when eating nightshades and notice any reaction you may have.  Otherwise it is nothing to be concerned about.

Choose eggplants that are firm and heavy for their size. Their skin should be shiny, tight and smooth and the color should be bright. Scan the eggplant to make sure the skin is free of brown spots and indentations.   The stem should be bright green in color which indicates its freshness.

I can actually eat a dangerous amount of eggplant if it’s cooked properly.  My favorite way is simply grilled or roasted, but I’ll eat it any way it’s made.  Just be careful when you use oil when cooking eggplant, because it is like a sponge and will absorb a ridiculous amount of oil.  When grilling eggplant I use a brush to coat the slices of eggplant instead of drizzling oil.  I almost never saute or fry eggplant since too much oil is absorbed.  For eggplant parmigiana, baking the breaded slices is the way to go.  Much less work, too.

Some people find eggplant bitter and although I’ve heard the larger ones are more bitter than the smaller, I haven’t found that to be true 100% of the time.  One way to reduce the bitterness in eggplant is to slice it and sprinkle kosher salt on one side of each slice.  Arrange the slices in one layer and allow to sit for 20-30 minutes so that the salt will pull moisture (and bitterness) out of the eggplant.  Some people think that it also helps to soften the eggplant.  Rinse the eggplant and plat dry before using.

Here are some great recipes to help you enjoy eggplant this summer:

Eggplant Caprese

Grilled Eggplant and Lentil Salad

Stuffed Baby Eggplant with Lentils and Rice

Chopped Grilled Vegetable Salad

Eggplant Jam by David Lebovitz

Stir-fried Sesame Eggplant at Williams-Sonoma

Baba Ganoush by Yotam Ottolenghi

Enjoy these last bits of summer!

Five Friday Favorites 07.31.15

Here’s my summer conundrum:  I teach a little less in the summer which gives me more free time, so then I make a huge list of projects and stuff I’ve always wanted to get done (e.g. scan all the kids’ artwork and frame it), but then realize I need a break and cross nothing off my list and then see half the summer is over and it’s back-to-school in 4 short weeks.  GASP!!!  Thank you for allowing me to share my anxiety with you.

Ok, here’s what you missed in my classes this week and what I’ve been talking about:


Gentle Souls Sandals

favorite Gentle Souls sandals | pamela salzman

I am too old to wear uncomfortable shoes.  If any of you out there is on your feet all day like I am or you do a lot of walking, you know it’s not worth it.  So when I find a shoe that is both comfortable AND cute, I’ll buy it in every color for me and my daughters and I tell everyone about it.

I have actually written about Gentle Souls sandals before, in a post about international travel tips here.  But it’s buried in the archives, and I had actually forgotten about it myself.  I thought to share these with you again because I wore my black Gentle Souls gladiator sandals on both flights to and from New York last week and I swear, all the flight attendants asked me about the shoes as well as the woman in the seat next to me and two women waiting for the bathroom behind me, and then some friends I saw at the farmers market the other day.

Here’s the deal:  they are the most comfortable shoes I own and they’re actually pretty.  The shoes have pillows of flaxseeds in the footbed to mold to the shape of your foot.  Memory foam is added to other key pressure points.  And the insole is lined with sheepskin.  And did I mention they’re cute?  I have been wearing Gentle Souls for at least 3 years, if not longer, and they are my go-to shoe for traveling.  My daughters and I have worn our Gentle Souls sandals throughout our long trips to Europe and no one ever complained of sore feet or blisters.

I won’t say I love all their styles, but the Break My Heart Gladiators and the Oak Sandals are my favorites.  The company was recently purchased by Kenneth Cole and that’s the best place to find a full selection of the current line of shoes with free shipping over $125.  On Amazon, you can also find random sizes and some other colors that have been discontinued, so it’s worth a look over there too, as well as Zappos.

Wooden Spatula (Turner)

wooden turner | pamela salzman

I know it seems silly to devote attention to a simple utensil like a wooden spatula, aka a wooden turner, but these posts are about my favorite things.  And every time I mention in my classes how I can’t live without my wooden spatulas, people start taking notes.  I have many utensils in stainless steel which I love, but you can’t sauté or stir with stainless steel because it will scratch or damage your pots and pans.  And although I also have silicone spatulas, they can start to break down, stain and absorb smells.  I prefer to use them for baking (scraping and folding batter.)  Plus they are too soft and flexible to properly deglaze a pan.  I do not use plastic utensils when I am cooking as plastic leaches when heated.

Wooden spatulas/turners are the best for stir-fries, sautéing, deglazing, and especially scraping, but not for flipping pancakes.  I love that the top is blunt and longer than the tip of a spoon so you can push around more food more easily.  Plus, they’re very inexpensive and I think wooden utensils look chic.  I hand wash mine, no dishwasher.

You can find great wooden spatulas almost anywhere, from Bed Bath & Beyond to Amazon to Williams-Sonoma to Sur La Table and even Target.


Napa Valley Naturals Aged Balsamic Vinegar

Napa Valley Naturals Grand Reserve aged balsamic | pamela salzman

Ok, this is actually not my very favorite aged balsamic, but I am using aged balsamic vinegar in my classes this month and understandably not everyone wants to spend $30 per bottle.  So I’ve been sampling this more more affordable Napa Valley Naturals aged balsamic and everyone has responded very favorably to it.  It is labeled “Grand Reserve Balsamic Vinegar 25 Stars.”  Unfortunately, it is one of very few of their non-organic products, but there are no additives which is hard to find these days in many balsamic vinegars.

Let’s first discuss the difference between “balsamic vinegar” and “aged balsamic vinegar.”  Traditionally, balsamic vinegar was an aged vinegar with a thick, syrup-y consistency.  To get the seal of approval, balsamic vinegar needs to have been aged at least 12 years.  But you can find bottles of thin, watery “balsamic vinegar” on supermarket shelves so how do you know what’s what?

Recipes should specify balsamic vinegar versus aged balsamic, but they don’t always so it’s good to know which you use for what.  The thin balsamic vinegar is good for marinades, salad dressings, roasting veggies. It is not expensive.  The aged balsamic is used in very small quantities as a finishing product, drizzled on salads, raw vegetables, cheese, strawberries or melon just before serving.  It is very expensive and usually runs from $25-50 per bottle.

Balsamic glaze is very often a cheap imitation of aged balsamic with additives like caramel coloring, gums, cornstarch, sugar and the like.  Read your labels to know what you’re getting!!  I never buy balsamic glaze.

If you want to make your own aged balsamic vinegar substitute, you can cook down balsamic vinegar until it thickens to a syrup.  Not the same as the real thing, but a more affordable, and perfectly acceptable option.

I think the Napa Valley Naturals Grand Reserve is a very good, economical aged balsamic for those of you looking for a clean product with a syrupy consistency and sweet, rich flavor that you would expect from an aged balsamic.  Napa Valley Naturals is selling the Grand Reserve aged balsamic for $7.64/bottle (a sale price.)  ThriveMarket has it for $7.95/bottle.  You can also find it at Whole Foods and many local markets.


Superfood Spotlight:  Carob Powder

carob powder | pamela salzman

You probably know that I love chocolate.  But I don’t always accept that chocolate doesn’t love me back.  I am sensitive to caffeine, even in chocolate, and sometimes chocolate causes me to break out.  Bummer.  For other people, chocolate can trigger headaches or migraines.  Even though it has its health benefits, it doesn’t always agree with everyone.

So what can offer a similar flavor to chocolate without the possible side effects?  Carob powder is fairly similar to cocoa powder in taste and texture.  But it actually has benefits that many don’t know about.  Carob is naturally sweet (unlike cacao and cocoa,) low in fat, high in fiber, contains calcium, potassium and no caffeine.  It is also vegan.

According to the Bob’s Red Mill website, “Carob is an excellent substitute for chocolate or cocoa powder in cakes, cookies, smoothies, beverages and confections. To substitute carob powder for cocoa, replace one part cocoa with 1½ to 2 parts carob by weight. To substitute for chocolate, use 3 Tbsp carob powder and 1 Tbsp water in place of each square of chocolate.” I actually sub carob for cocoa powder one-for-one, but you should also remember that since carob is naturally sweet, you can reduce the sugar a bit.  Huge bonus!

Don’t expect carob to taste exactly like chocolate though.  It is similar, and all brands are different.  ThriveMarket has an organic one at a good price.  And you can find carob at any health food store.

Here’s a link for my faux iced blended mocha with carob.

Carob-Avocado Pudding by Rachael Ray and Hazelnut Carob Cakes by Pure2Raw also look tasty.


Seasonal Produce: Peaches

peaches | pamela salzman

I saved the best for last.  Peaches are my favorite fruit.  As in, I like peaches better than any other fruit out there.  I am always excited when something new comes into season, but make no mistake, I am jumping for joy when I see the first peaches.  Even though I instagram my breakfasts and dinners almost every day, I don’t post every peach I eat in between.  And there is one every single day.  There’s nothing better than a sweet, juicy, drippy peach.

I actually love all peaches, but there are definitely distinct differences amongst the varieties, especially when it comes to yellow versus white.  I am partial to yellow, which have a more intense flavor, and are little more acidic.  White peaches are more mellow, but slightly sweeter.  Then there are donut peaches which look like they’ve been sat on.  My kids love those!

I look for peaches with good, vibrant color and no green, which means it was picked too early.  And I smell them before picking.  Did you know peaches and roses are related?  So peaches should have a pleasant, sweet fragrance.  Don’t refrigerate peaches unless you have too, i.e. they are fully ripe or there are soft spots.  Otherwise they’ll get mealy and lose their sweetness.

I can go crazy listing all the amazing peach recipes out there, but my favorite way to eat a peach is out of hand with nothing on it.  That said, I freeze peaches for smoothies, add them to pancake batter, sprinkle chunks onto oatmeal and cold porridge, fold them into yogurt and add them to salads.  (Above are a few of my peach creations from the last couple of weeks!)  They go remarkably well with tomatoes and many cheeses.  I don’t think there is a food out there that I haven’t found a person who doesn’t like it or is intolerant, except peaches!

Arugula Salad with Nectarines, Tomatoes and Fresh Mozzarella (sub peaches)

Arugula Salad with Farro and Peaches

Peach and Blueberry Crisp

Warm Peach Pie Pots

Peach Pisco Sours by Katie Morford

Peach Lassi by Feed Me Phoebe

Tarragon Balsamic Grilled Peaches and Vegetable Platter by The Healthy Apple

Peach-Blueberry Crumble by The Crunchy Radish

Strawberry Peach Kefir Sorbet by Elissa Goodman

Shaved Fennel, Caramelized Corn, and Summer Peach Salad by Alex Thompoulos

Five friday favorites 05.29.15

I often think of the beginning of the school year as bustling, but the last few weeks of school are CRAZY.  I quite honestly can’t keep up with the number of performances, ceremonies, parties and permission slips.  I laughed out loud at this post on Buzzfeed titled “Parents at the Beginning of the School Year vs. the End.”  The lunch post I found to be especially cute.  I’ll admit I am slightly off my game from September, but I’m in good company.  One thing that I am really, really looking forward to is my older daughter coming from college on Saturday!  I am going to burst, I’m so excited.  Check out my Instagram and/or Facebook page to see what I cook up for dinner for her first night back!

Here are a few favorites I’ve talking up in my classes the last few weeks.  Check them out!


Go Raw Snacks

Go Raw Snacks

I often tell my students to avoid packaged snacks and foods at all costs and instead encourage making things at home from scratch.  There is almost always some type of additive in packaged foods, such as sugar, salt, preservatives, natural flavors, etc.  However, there have been some game-changing products on the market lately that are so clean I can hardly even believe it’s true.  These new snack “cookies” from Go Raw are my new addiction.  There’s nothing added, they’re 100% organic and raw which means most all nutrients are in tact.  I could argue these crisps are actually good for you in moderation.  And did I mention delicious?!  They are so crispy, perfectly sweet and satisfying and I nearly inhaled an entire bag the first time I ever opened one up.  They come in a variety of flavors including spirulina (which contains banana so it tastes just like banana chips,) carrot cake, chocolate and ginger snap (my personal fave).  These are available at my local Whole Foods, vitacost, Thrive Market (best price), and even Amazon!


Book:  The Life-changing Magic of Tidying up

the life-changing magic of tidying up

I thought I would share with you a book that I read a few months ago about the relationship between a person and his/her belongings or “things” or “stuff”.  It is interesting to think about how attached we become to inanimate objects and how emotional we become when challenged to part with them.  It is a reason why a lot of us end up with stuff coming out of our ears and our garages and closets filled to the brim with whatever we can stuff in there.  Can you remember the last time you were at someone’s house with an empty closet or garage?  Our culture has become focused on consumption and over-consumption! “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” was written by a woman from Japan who offers a very interesting perspective into the Japanese culture with respect to their “clutter.”  I am always looking to simplify my life and especially my home.  I feel more clear-headed and more in control when I am not overwhelmed with stuff and this book was very helpful to me in how to approach getting organized.  This book in the very least will inspire you to clean out your closet or maybe donate a thing or two to Goodwill.


All-clad Butter Warmer

All-clad butter warmer

We all have those certain pots and pans that are our absolute go-to’s in the kitchen.  For me, one of the pots that I use almost daily is my little All-Clad butter warmer.  I’ve turned on so many of my students to this indispensable little pot and they all report back how much they love it.  It is perfect for melting small amounts of butter and coconut oil, but also milk or a small amount of soup.   It is a nice petite size so it is easy to whip it in and out of its storage space.  One of the most common uses that I find for it is when I make pancakes- I can melt the butter for the batter quickly and then after that is done plop some coconut oil into the pot to use for brushing the griddle.  I am not a fan of microwaves and haven’t had one for years so I don’t know where I would be without my butter warmer.  Although I think I should rename it “coconut oil melter” since that is what it’s getting used for the most these days!

It is available at most kitchen stores including Williams Sonoma, Crate and Barrel, and Sur La Table.  It is also available on Amazon with prime shipping!


Seasonal produce: cherries

fresh cherries

The arrival of cherry season is one that is very much anticipated in my household.   Whenever May rolls around, I approach the farmer’s market this time of year I have my fingers crossed that there will be buckets overflowing with sweet red cherries.  And that time has finally arrived- it is cherry season!  Cherries are such a treat as they are only available for a few weeks in the end of spring/beginning of summer.  I think it is worth every second to pit these little fruits and indulge in a delicious handful.  Cherries are perfect for desserts and fruit crisps like the one here on my blog, but I think they are also great in fresh summer salads with a vinaigrette or even served along side some dark chocolate squares for a light dessert when entertaining.  I am really into cherries and raw cacao in an overnight oat porridge.  Yum!  And although cherries are perfectly sweet, juicy and have an addictive slight crunch, they are beneficial to our health as well.  Cherries work well to fight off uric acid (which causes inflammation in diseases such as arthritis and gout) and can also help soothe our muscles after a tense workout.  They also contain a significant amount of melatonin that helps to calm and relax our nervous system, so they’re perfect to eat before bedtime.

Check out a delicious cherry crisp recipe from my blog as well as a couple of others from around the web!

Apricot, Cherry and Almond Crisp

Wheat Berry Salad with Arugula and Cherries by Sprouted Kitchen

Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Cherry Salsa by The First Mess

Baby Potato and Cherry Flatbread by Green Spirit Adventures

Pluot Summer Salad with Cherries by 101 cookbooks


Superfood spotlight:  spirulina


Although spirulina has seen the limelight lately, this microscopic algae has been around for billions of years- literally.  I have talked about the benefits of sea plants in the past and spirulina is no exception.  This superfood is actually an algae and is usually sold in powdered or capsule form.  The powdered form can easily be added to juices and smoothies, but due to its seaweed-like taste, a lot of people actually use spirulina as a supplement in capsule form.  The health benefits of spirulina are out of this world as it is composed 65-70% complete protein, which is the highest of any other known food.  It contains 18 amino acids, is detoxifying, anti-inflammatory, and has no cellulose wall which makes it unbelievably easy to digest.  Spirulina can be found at most health food stores and is also available on thrive and vitacost!  Check out some ways to get spirulina into your diet!


Spirulina Smoothie by Deliciously Ella

Spirulina Chia Seed Pudding by Pure2Raw

Raw Spirulina Energy Crunch Bars by Healthful Pursuit

Five friday favorites 04.24.15

Yay, it’s the weekend!  I’ve been continuing with my Mexican-inspired classes this month and I’ve also been posting a few recipes on the blog in anticipation of Cinco de Mayo.  In other exciting 😉 news, I finally got around to eating at SQIRL, the more-hip-than-I-am cafe in LA, close to Silver Lake.  It’s quite literally the opposite end of LA County from me, but worth the trek since it was crazy good.  I now believe the hype.  Check my instagram for what I ate.

Today I’m posting some of my favorites that keep coming up in class lately.  Enjoy the weekend! xo


Thrive Market website

Thrive Market is a membership-based online shopping club with a focus on products that support a healthy lifestyle.  Thrive Market positions itself as a Whole Foods meets Costco — selling health food, beautycare, and home supplies at warehouse prices.  I am very leary of paying for subscriptions, so when I first heard about, I was slightly skeptical.   Would I make back my membership?  Do I have to buy huge quantities of stuff?  What about shipping?  I’m so spoiled with Amazon Prime shipping!

Well, I wouldn’t be including Thrive Market in my Friday Favorites column if I wasn’t COMPLETELY OBSESSED with this website!  I think I made back my membership in my first order, and just on the olive oil alone!  I bought a Sun Potion powder on amazon for $55 only to see it later on Thrive Market for $33!  Thrive Market has amazing prices on so many of my favorite products—grains such as quinoa and millet, vinegars, nuts, seeds, nut butters, olive oil, and many other pantry staples.  Plus they carry supplements, baby items, household goods, natural cleaning supplies and so on.  You can shop by diet (vegan, paleo, gluten-free) which is handy and they have all different kinds of product suggestions, interesting articles and recipes.  Shipping is free on all orders over $49 and they have such a variety of products it is easy to meet that minimum.  When I realize I need something, I add something to my virtual cart and leave it there.  Days sometimes and the items stay in my cart until I check out.  As soon as I have added enough items to get free shipping, I place my order.

While it’s true I teach a lot of classes and have a reason to order a lot of stuff,  you don’t have to order in bulk.   You don’t need to order a case of 12 bottles of olive oil that are 2 liters each!  You can order one bottle of normal size olive oil or tomato sauce if you want.

But most of all, I love Thrive’s mission.  They’ve committed to giving a free membership to a low income family for every paid member who joins Thrive.  And if you’re wondering if I get anything out this, I do not.  I just really think it’s a great site and I have personally saved a lot of money.  This is a no-brainer.


Maldon Salt

maldon salt

It is no secret to any of my students or anyone who knows me for that matter that I love salt.  I think salt is the key to everything in cooking and can take any dish or food over the edge in terms of flavor.  Having said that, I am very picky about what salt I use from an additive-free kosher salt for salting pasta water and marinades to a grey celtic sea salt for most dishes to all different kinds of finishing salts.  Finishing salts are salts that are used to complete a dish- or finish it- and are only used sprinkled on top- and not typically mixed in or added during cooking.  My favorite finishing salt, the king of them all, is Maldon salt.  Maldon salt is a perfect flaky, crunchy, satisfying sea salt that I like to use for finishing salads or even chocolate, yum!  I recently put a pinch on top of some chocolate chip cookies before baking and it was the thing that everyone freaked out about.

Maldon salt is a bit pricey compared to your everyday table salt, but still completely affordable at about $5/box- and it will last you a long time as just a pinch goes a long way.  And, it is more for special occasions so you will only be bringing it out every once in a while.  Maldon is available at most kitchen stores such as Williams Sonoma and Sur La Table, and of course is available at all of the usual places like Thrive Market, Amazon, and Vitacost.


Kyocera Ceramic Knives

kyocera ceramic knives

My most important tools in the kitchen are my knives.  I have good carbon stainless knives which we can talk about in a future post, but I am dearly attached to my ceramic knives.  I have been using Kyocera ceramic knives for at least 10 years, before I started teaching cooking classes, so I am a loyal fan.  I was turned onto them by a chef who was using one in a cooking demonstration and I had never seen a knife that wasn’t metal.  When I picked up this knife which had a white, ceramic blade, I couldn’t believe how light it was.  This is such a huge bonus for me because I’m not a big person and big, heavy knives can start to wear out my forearm.  Also, because the knife is ceramic, it doesn’t rust and it doesn’t oxidize lettuce the way metal does when you cut it too far in advance.

I also love that these knives stay very sharp longer than my stainless ones.  But, and this is a big but, they are not indestructible.  If you wedge the blade in between two pieces of frozen bread and try to separate them, the blade will break.  If you try to cut a piece of frozen ginger with a ceramic knife, it will crack.  If you toss your ceramic knife into the sink and it hits the metal grate, it will probably snap.  Hmmm, let me think of any other ways my husband has broken my ceramic knife….. Oh yes, the time he tried to cut off the rind from a wedge of Parmesan cheese.  So the knife can break if you’re not careful, but the goods news is that Kyocera has a LIFETIME SHARPENING GUARANTEE so if you send it back to them with a check for $10, they will either sharpen the blade, replace the blade or replace the knife.  They have never said no to me or anyone else I know.  Great customer service.

I have 2 5.5 inch Santoku knives and a paring knife.  I bought them all at a cutlery store which carried the whole line.  But you can buy certain styles at Sur la Table, Crate & Barrel, Williams-Sonoma and Bed Bath & Beyond.  Amazon seems to carry them all and the Santoku shape comes in lots of different colors.  Very cute actually.

Seasonal produce: Rhubarb


There are certain fruits and vegetables that we see every single time we walk into the market, no matter what time of year; oranges, lettuce, onions- the staples that are always guaranteed to be available.  But then you have certain fruits and vegetables that only pop up for a few weeks here and there.  Rhubarb is one of those vegetables, and when I see it around the spring I like to snatch it up while I can!  Contrary to popular belief rhubarb is actually a vegetable and related to buckwheat.  It is, however, usually paired with other fruits (think berries, cherries and apples) and in baked goods.   It is no surprise to me that rhubarb has been dubbed “the pie plant” since it is often used in fresh pies.  This tart vegetable gets tender when it is baked which mellows out the flavor and makes it more compatible for sweets.  Not only is the vegetable one of the lowest calorically, but since it is actually the stalk of a leafy green plant, it actually has a lot of those same health benefits such as vitamin K, folate and calcium.  And of course we are getting lots of great phytonutrients from that unique red color!  When purchasing rhubarb you want to look for skinny red stalks that are firm rather than floppy.  You will be buying the stalks only since the leaves are actually toxic!

Store rhubarb in a bag in the refrigerator and it should last you a week or so as long as it stays firm.  I have a recipe for a delicious and easy strawberry-rhubarb sauce that my kids love putting on pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, and French toast!  Check out some other rhubarb recipes from around the web as well!

Spice Braised Rhubarb by Savuer

Rustic Rhubarb Tarts by Smitten Kitchen

Rhubarb Fennel Crumble by Beyond the Plate

Rhubarb-Strawberry Chia Pudding by The Year in Food

Spicy Chicken Thighs with Rhubarb-Cucumber Salsa from Bon Appetit

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble by 101 Cookbooks


Superfood Spotlight:  Camu Camu

camu powder

With all of the superfoods that are coming from the Amazon (that’s the rainforest, not the website,) maybe we all should just pack up and move there.  JK.  Camu camu, another Brazilian fruit loaded with tons of nutrition and health benefits, is available in the US in powder form.  It is grown in the flooded areas of the Amazon rainforest and are about the size of a lemon with a pale orange/red color.  While similar to its other Brazilian fruit counterparts, Camu Camu is loaded with antioxidants- but it is actually the Vitamin C content that this fruit is really known for.  Just one teaspoon of camu camu powder has 60 times more Vitamin C than an orange.  I think that is amazing.  And, since the Vitamin C is actually consumed in food form, it is more effective and absorbable by our bodies than any synthetic variety.   Camu Camu also contains essential amino acids, beta-carotene, and potassium, to name a few.  The flavor is a tart tropical fruit flavor that lends itself to being added to smoothies, juices, or fruity yogurts.  It is available at Whole Foods, and on Amazon, Vitacost and ThriveMarket (best price.)

Five friday favorites 3.13.15

It has been a great, but slightly exhausting week!  The change in daylight savings always throws me for a loop.  My daughter came home from college, made an appearance for a bit and then escaped to the desert with her friends.  I am feeling lucky that she graced us with her presence even if it was just for a couple days.  She came back yesterday and naturally I will start bribing her with food to stay put until she goes back to school tomorrow. 😉

I had a couple of requests for favorites this week.  Ask and you shall receive!  Speaking of which, I’m continuing to test recipes with almond pulp (do try the banana bread recipe with almond pulp) and all I can say is, GAME CHANGER!  Stay tuned for more!


Hook and Go Portable Folding Shopping Cart

hook and go foldable cart

I try to buy local food as much as I can, so I am often making trips to my local farmer’s markets to stock up on seasonal produce.  My trips have become so much more enjoyable since I started bringing this foldable farmer’s market cart, which I received as a birthday gift from a few friends several years ago.  This cart is so handy and compact (it folds up really easily) – I can keep it in my car so it is available whenever I need it.  And, I am doing my body a favor by not lugging around 10 pounds of produce on my shoulders!  Also, a major plus to this cart is that your bags each hang individually, so you don’t have to worry about smashing the produce at the bottom of your cart.  If going to the farmer’s market is on your weekly to-do list, this cart is defeinitely worth the investment.  You can get this cart directly from the company website and it is also available on Amazon!


Erin Condren Compliment Cards

Erin Condren compliment cards

I feel like there is a big movement happening right now in the world encouraging women to be supportive of other women.  I am all for that and it’s something that I would encourage my girls to do as well.   Erin Condren recently spoke at our Charity League meeting where she shared her inspiring journey about how she became such a successful business woman.  She was generous enough to leave each one of us (and there were almost 200 people there!) with a packet of her adorable compliment cards.

These cards are such a fun and cute way to send spread positive energy to anyone who needs it.  Some quotes include “You are capable of wonderful things” and “Trust me, you are lovely” on one side with colorful and stylish designs, and a blank space on the back for a personal message.  I think these are a great way for anyone, but especially young girls, to get into the habit of complimenting and being supportive of one another.  You can get a pack of 10 cards for $5 and they are available on her website.


Rubber Gloves for Multiple Kitchen Uses


These gloves may seem like they are useful only for household chores like cleaning and doing the dishes.  However, I have been using these gloves for years in the kitchen for things like deboning chicken to flipping turkeys at Thanksgiving!  Most of the time when meat comes out of the oven, it is too hot to touch with our hands, even after resting.  And sure a knife works to pull the chicken off of the bone, but I find that getting in there with my hands does a much better job.  Although I couldn’t do it without these gloves which help protect my hands from the heat.   Similarly, at Thanksgiving, I find it almost impossible to flip the turkey using any kind of kitchen tool even if it was designed for doing so.  Again, I like to use my hands and they can easily be protected by this pair of gloves.  While I have been using rubber gloves for years, I have recently become obsessed with these ones from If You Care, which is an eco-friendly, sustainable company that guarantees their rubber is sourced from a responsibly managed plantation.  They are also made from 100% renewable sources and do not test on animals.  Plus these gloves seem to last me a very long time.  Major pluses all around.  I get my gloves at Whole Foods (in the section with cleaning supplies), and they are also available on thrivemarketamazon and vita-cost.  They do run small, though.  The small size is good when I carve meats so that there’s no extra material to get in the way (and get sliced), but they are snug.  For washing dishes and everything else, I prefer the medium size.  If you just want one pair, go with medium, or if your hands are big, buy the large size.


Seasonal Produce: Sugar Snap Peas

sugar snap peas

I think the pea family is a totally underrated family of vegetables.  Crisp, refreshing and sweet, peas come in a wide variety- English, Snow, and Snap which are available in early spring.  You may be seeing some at your local markets right now if you’re lucky.  My personal favorite, the Sugar Snap pea, is a hybrid between an English pea (the most common kind that usually comes frozen) and the Snow pea.  Whoever invented the Sugar Snap pea was a genius for taking the sweetness of the English pea and pairing it with the edible pod to create the perfect Sugar Snap pea!  And since you are eating the pod, you are getting tons more fiber and Vitamin C than if you were just eating the pea.  Snap peas are also an excellent source of folic acid- which is a super important nutrient for expectant mothers.

When purchasing snap peas, look for ones that are bright green and feel crisp and fresh and pop when you snap them in half.  Avoid any cracked or limp pea pods.  Wash and trim your sugar snap peas before eating by trimming off the top of the pod and pulling the string off that runs along the curved edge.  I usually keep my snap peas in a bag in the fridge for 4-5 days.  While snap peas are perfectly delicious raw (Mr. Picky actually loves them!) with some hummus or in a salad, snap peas are also fun to use in other ways.  Check out two of my recipes below from my site plus a few others from around the web!

Minted Sugar Snap Peas

Three Pea Saute

Sugar Snap Peas with Lemon-Chili Breadcrumbs from Food52

Sugar Snap Salad from Bon Appetit

Roasted Sugar Snap Peas with Sesame Dipping Sauce from Edible Perspective

Ravioli with Snap Peas, Pea Shoots and Minty Pea Shoot Pesto from Sunset Magazine

Slightly Spicy Sugar Snap Peas with Mint and Lime from Fine Cooking


Superfood Spotlight:  Matcha


We have all heard about the benefits of green tea for some time now, right?  I don’t think it’s a newsflash to report that it’s more beneficial to swap your standard cup of joe for a more healing cup of green tea.   While green tea is a very powerful and nutritious plant, there is only so much of the nutrition you can absorb from the leaves steeping in your water.  Imagine if we could just eat the tea leaves directly, and receive all of the benefits that way!  Enter matcha which is a powder made of ground up green tea leaves, which if authentic, should be a deep green color with a grassy flavor.  Look out for matcha that is drab-colored since that is low quality and low in antioxidants.  I also avoid matcha that is from China.

Matcha is extremely beneficial to our health due to it’s high levels of antioxidants, phytonutrients, and amino acids.  Combined with the caffeine, matcha is supposed to keep you calm and focused for an extended period of time, rather than leaving you feeling wired and jittery like the traditional caffeine in coffee.  However, there is still about 25mg of caffeine per teaspoon of powder (about 1/3 of the amount in coffee), so this is not something that I would let your young kids consume.  Traditionally matcha is whisked into warm water to create a tea or added to steamed milk to make a matcha latte.  There are tons of other ways to use matcha as well, including adding it to your smoothie or oats, adding it to cookies, breads, and pancake batters, or even mixing it with some chia seeds and almond milk to make a matcha chia pudding (recipe coming soon!) to add a pale green tint.

I haven’t tried every brand of Matcha out there, but the organic ones I have tried and liked include:  Do Matcha ceremonial grade and Taste of Kyoto reserve.