Berry Bircher Muesli Recipe

Berry Bircher Muesli | Pamela Salzman

Forgive me, but I’ll have to be brief today!  We just finished shooting the cookbook this week and I was focused only on that.  Over the next few short weeks, I have to finish writing the book.  I am really excited to share these recipes with you, as well as all the great tips and tricks I teach in my classes.  The book is titled “Fresh Start” because I feel like everyone has moments when they want to reset with a new beginning.  The good news is that we are always given a fresh start every day.  It’s never too late to take control of your health and take care of yourself.  I’ll help you learn what you need to know to be the healthiest that you can be and it all starts with what you eat and cooking your own food.

 

Berry Bircher Muesli | Pamela Salzman

Today’s recipe is a version of one of my favorite breakfasts, Bircher Muesli, a very digestible soaked oat and fruit porridge.  The texture is wonderful with soft rolled oats, crunchy nuts and chewy bits of dried fruit.  I am crazy about this strawberry bircher which is even more delicious than the original. I blended fresh strawberries into the yogurt mixture and swapped dried strawberries for the raisins.  It has a bright, berry flavor and is satisfyingly filling.  There’s nothing better than waking up in the morning knowing that breakfast is already made and is a good one!

Berry Bircher Muesli | Pamela Salzman

You can eat this right out of the refrigerator or transfer some into a jar and take it to work and eat it at room temp.  In the winter, you can even heat the bircher over the stove for a warm version.  I went a little crazy on the toppings in these images, but that’s how I like to eat it, especially since berries are so amazing right now and they are antioxidant bombs!  The beginning of every day is your chance to wake up to a clean slate.  And this recipe is the perfect place to start!

Berry Bircher Muesli Recipe
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 apples, unpeeled, grated (I like using green apples)
  • ½ cup unsulfured dried strawberries, cut in half or in quarters if very large
  • ⅔ cup chopped hazelnuts (almonds or walnuts are nice, too)
  • juice of half a small lemon
  • 1 cup strawberries, hulled
  • 1⅔ -1¾ cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1⅔ -1¾ cups unsweetened kefir or yogurt
  • Toppings: fresh berries or sliced bananas, extra chopped nuts, raw honey or maple syrup
Instructions
  1. The night before: In a large bowl, mix the oats, apples, dried strawberries and hazelnuts. Place the lemon juice, strawberries, almond milk and yogurt in a blender and process until smooth. Add the mixture to the oats and apples and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. The next morning: add sweetener to taste, if necessary. Divide the muesli among four bowls and top with favorite nuts or fruits.
Notes
Keeps for several days covered in the refrigerator.
If you can't find dried strawberries, golden raisins or dried cherries would be great.

 

Roasted carrots with garlic yogurt recipe

© RB Photography
© RB Photography

I’m squeezing in another recipe before Mother’s Day in case you need a surefire hit for your lunch or brunch this weekend.  I taught this roasted carrot recipe in my March classes and I didn’t get one bite the entire month because there were never any left!  I made a huge quantity every time and it was never enough.  Everyone flipped for these.  So I know if you make them, they will be an instant hit.  Plus, this is the easiest recipe so I know you will have success!

multi-colored carrots

The inspiration for this recipe came from a guide we met while we were in Turkey last summer.  We had the loveliest guide, a very intellectual professor who was quite serious about the ruins he was showing us.  And then he asked me what kind of work I did and when I responded I was a cooking instructor with a food blog, he stopped in his tracks.  “I would love to be a food blogger,” he responded.  I thought that was so cute and endearing.  So of course, the history lessons went out the window because all our guide wanted to talk about was food, Turkish food especially.  This was fine with me because I am fascinated with cuisines from all over the world.  I always learn so much when I travel and our trip to Turkey was no exception.

making the garlic yogurt

Long story short, our guide convinced me there was an easy and delicious Turkish recipe I had to share with my American students.  He told me to quickly sauté grated carrots and top them with a thick garlic yogurt.  “That’s it!  And it’s so good,”  he proudly exclaimed.

spread the garlic yogurt on platter

I tried it shortly after we returned home and it was indeed an easy recipe and it was indeed delicious.  I loved the contrast of the sweetness of the carrots and the tartness of the yogurt.  But it was rather unattractive, especially after mixing the grated carrots with the yogurt.  I’m sure you can imagine.  So the recipe I am posting today is, I hate to say it, a more attractive twist on my Turkish tour guide’s recipe.  But it is just as delicious and just as simple.  I have served this for many a dinner.  It is delicious alongside roasted chicken or lamb, as well as salmon.  But I think this would be delicious on a brunch menu with a quiche or frittata and a green salad.

roasted carrots with garlic yogurt | pamela salzman

Carrots are incredibly delicious roasted, if you haven’t tried them this way.  Even standard orange carrots develop an incredible sweetness when roasted.  I love to use unrefined coconut oil when roasting because it just enhances the natural sweetness of the carrots and it has a higher smoke point than unsaturated fats, but you can use olive oil, too.  I very often see purple carrots at my farmers market and Carnival heirloom carrots at Trader Joe’s.  Those are especially beautiful to use for this recipe!  If the carrots are thin, I don’t even bother to cut them.  The larger ones I slice in half.

roasted carrots with garlic yogurt | pamela salzman

© RB Photography
© RB Photography

The one question I was asked more than any other was about the raw garlic in the yogurt and if there was a substitution.  There really isn’t that much of it and I personally don’t think the garlic flavor was really that pronounced, but for those people who really don’t like it, I would say to omit it or blend roasted garlic into the yogurt.  Roasted garlic is much more mellow and sweet than raw.  Check this link for how to roast garlic.  I also think there are other roasted vegetables that would be delicious with the yogurt, like eggplant or cauliflower, even curried cauliflower.  Here’s hoping someone makes this for you this Mother’s Day!

roasted carrots with garlic yogurt | pamela salzman

© RB Photography
© RB Photography

5.0 from 1 reviews
Roasted Carrots with Garlic Yogurt
Author: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • 2 bunches farmer’s market carrots, tops trimmed or 1 ½ pounds regular carrots, cut in half lengthwise
  • 4 Tablespoons unrefined coconut oil, melted or unrefined olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • za’tar (optional)
  • Garlic Yogurt: (if you love yogurt, double the recipe)
  • ¾ cup whole, unsweetened Greek yogurt
  • 1 medium-large clove garlic, grated
  • ⅜ teaspoon sea salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.
  2. Place the carrots on the prepared baking sheet and toss to coat with coconut oil.  Arrange carrots in one layer and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast carrots for 20-25 minutes, until tender but still with a bite.
  4. Meanwhile, make the yogurt sauce.  Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.
  5. When carrots are done roasting, sprinkle them with za’tar.
  6. Spread the garlic yogurt in the center of a platter and arrange the carrots on top.

Chicken souvlaki with tzatziki recipe

Chicken Souvlaki | Pamela Salzman

I thought since I am vacationing in the Mediterranean with my family for three weeks, I would post some new recipes that complemented my travels.  When I return (if I ever return!), I will definitely write up my itinerary and any do’s and don’t’s which I learned that might be helpful for your planning purposes.

chicken souvlaki collage

If you’ve hung around this blog long enough, you’ve read that Mediterranean food is my favorite.  It’s my comfort zone.  It’s exactly the way I like to eat – fresh, seasonal, organic food, mostly veggies, legumes and whole grains, olive oil, more fish than meat, a little sheep or goat cheese and yogurt,.  Mediterranean cuisine is also considered to be among the most healthful in the world.  More importantly, I think the food is just downright delicious, but simple.  Of course in order for simple food to taste amazing, each ingredient has to be the best.

Tzatziki

This is where sometimes we have trouble duplicating something we’ve eaten, even if we have the exact recipe.  For example, there’s no secret Greek salad recipe.  I have made and eaten a lot of them in my life, some forgettable and some outstanding.  It just comes down to the ingredients that were used.

Kebabs on the grill

Chicken Souvlaki is an easy, light dinner I can pull together quickly and one that I know everyone will eat.  It’s basically a grilled, marinated chicken and veggie kabob, which I love to serve with a very tasty cucumber-yogurt sauce called Tzatziki.   My family likes to eat it with grilled pita bread (which is literally store-bought pita that I put on the grill just to get a few char marks) or garlic rice.  You can also serve the kabob over a Greek salad which would make for a great light summer dinner.

Chicken Souvlaki | Pamela Salzman

Check out my recent Instagram and facebook pictures from Greece and Turkey.  We will be finishing off our trip next week in Venice and then Lake Garda, so expect some Italian recipes soon!

Chicken Souvlaki | Pamela Salzman 

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Chicken Souvlaki with Tzatziki
Author: 
Serves: makes 6 12-inch skewers*
 
Ingredients
  • 1 ½ teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
  • 2 medium cloves of garlic, finely grated, divided
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 Tablespoons unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ¼ pounds boneless-skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 2 Persian cucumbers, chopped or coarsely grated (personal preference)
  • 1 cup full fat Greek yogurt (Straus makes a great organic one)
  • ½ Tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint or dill (optional)
  • 8 small plum tomatoes, halved (or large ones quartered)
  • ½ small red onion, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 6 whole-wheat pitas (optional)
Instructions
  1. Whisk together lemon zest, 1 ½ Tablespoons lemon juice, 1 grated clove of garlic, oregano, thyme, 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, and ½ teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Add the chicken, and toss to coat. Marinate at room temperature for 45 minutes or refrigerated, covered, for up to 6 hours.
  2. Meanwhile make the tzatziki sauce: Stir together the remaining lemon juice and garlic, the cucumber, yogurt, vinegar, herbs (if using) and ½ teaspoon salt. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.
  3. Heat the grill to medium-high. Thread the chicken, tomatoes, and onion onto 6 skewers. Brush with remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil, and season with pepper.
  4. Grill skewers, turning, until browned on all sides and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Grill pitas until charred, about 2 minutes per side.
  5. Serve skewers with charred pitas and tzatziki sauce.
Notes
*Not all skewers are the same size.  This recipe would probably make 8 9 ½-inch bamboo skewers.

 

 

Bircher Muesli with Hazelnuts and Golden Raisins Recipe

Bircher Muesli with Hazelnuts and Golden Raisins | Pamela Salzman

I had no intention of posting this recipe today because I already have a muesli recipe on my site.  But that was from so, so long ago and I know I don’t even remember what I posted on this site back in the beginning so I don’t expect you to!  Plus this one is better and ironically I made it up on the spot.  I threw this muesli together on a whim on Sunday night because 1. it’s my favorite summer breakfast, 2. Mr. Picky was starting day camp on Monday and I needed one less thing to do in the morning, 3. it has actually been very warm and summerlike here in Manhattan Beach which never happens in the summer, just in September and October when everyone has gone back to school and resumed soccer on the weekends, and 4. I was a little naughty this holiday weekend which involved a homemade cherry pie, a new favorite rosé (did you see my instagram?) and some (a lot of?) mozzarella.  Ooops.  And that was after 9 days at my parents’ house which always involves too much pasta, pizza, wine and mozzarella.

Bob's Red Mill gluten-free oats

 

grate 2 green apples, skin and all

I always say breakfast will set the tone for the rest of the day’s eating, so you want to start off right, eat a good breakfast.  I had a good sized bowl of this muesli with some blueberries in the morning at 7:30 after a quick workout and then a little green tea at about 10:00 and I was completely fine until lunch at 1:00.  That just about never happens.  I am usually looking for a snack of some kind around 10:00 or 10:30.  If you have issues with sugar and sweets, try making this without any added sweetener or add a couple drops of stevia.  Of course, feel free to sub your favorite nut or seed for the hazelnuts and any good unsulphured fruit for the golden raisins (remember: sulphur dioxide is a preservative for dried fruit and it is not healthy for you, especially for people who have sensitive lungs.)

kefir or yogurt + almond milk

I actually think this muesli tastes more like the ones I have had a hotels both in the states and in Europe.  Although it is not technically the original bircher muesli which uses condensed milk (eeek!), it is very similar in taste and texture.  In my previous muesli, I used yogurt, water and orange juice to soak the oats with a little lemon zest.  Decidedly citrusy, which I love, but not necessarily uber authentic.  This one I used half almond milk and half kefir, although a nice think yogurt like Straus Family Creamery would be just as ideal.  (Did you know Trader Joe’s European style yogurt IS Straus?!?)  I still add shredded green apple which is a must, but for this batch I also included golden raisins and chopped hazelnuts and I was in heaven.  Yum, yum, and YUM!  Creamy, crunchy, lightly sweet.  Perfect. I am dreaming of being in a European hotel for breakfast.  And then I had to take Mr. Picky and his buddy to baseball camp. Wake up!

muesli in the morning

Bircher Muesli with Hazelnuts and Golden Raisins | Pamela Salzman

Bircher Muesli with Hazelnuts and Golden Raisins
Author: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 apples, unpeeled, grated (I like using green apples)
  • juice of half a small lemon
  • juice of half an orange
  • 1 ½ - 1⅔ cups unsweetened almond milk (click here for instructions on how to make your own)
  • 1 ½ - 1⅔ cups unsweetened kefir or yogurt
  • ½ cup unsulphured golden raisins or dried fruit of choice
  • ⅔ cup chopped hazelnuts
  • Toppings: fresh berries or sliced bananas, extra chopped nuts, raw honey or maple syrup
Instructions
  1. The night before: In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients, except toppings, in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. The next morning: add sweetener to taste, if necessary. Divide the muesli among four bowls and top with favorite nuts or fruits.
  3. Keeps for several days covered in the refrigerator.
Notes
I don't sweeten this ahead of time because I prefer it unsweetened. Since my kids like a little honey, they add it to their own bowls in the morning. But feel free to add 2 Tablespoons or so of honey or your sweetener of choice.

 

 

In the Veggie Kitchen: Fourth of July with Jenni Kayne and a Yogurt and Blueberry Tart Recipe

July 4th table setting

I once again had the pleasure of teaching the always stylish and gracious Jenni Kayne and her lovely friends a July 4th cooking class at her gorgeous home.  Although I teach at Jenni’s home every month, this was a special class in which we also partnered with The Chalkboard, one of my very favorite sites.  With Independence Day just around the corner, Jenni wanted to create the perfect holiday get-together that was festive, but relaxed.  My job was to come up with the deliciousness! July 4th menus

If you have seen some of the classes I have done at Jenni’s before, you know that every detail is so beautiful and perfect, you want to go recreate the whole thing on your own.  One of the best parts of Jenni’s Rip + Tan blog is that she generously provides sources for everything, from table linens to straws to jars.  What I just loved about the décor is that it was in the spirit of the holiday, but still beautiful and understated, without going overboard.  Please check out Rip + Tan for more photos and details about the decor. napkins   buffet table   Chic water dispenser

This year, I made five recipes that I think are easy, seasonal, healthful and perfect for summer entertaining.  We started with some delicious vegan beet and black bean burgers which I will be teaching in my classes this summer.  I love salads at this time of year and especially for entertaining since most of the ingredients can be prepped in advance.  At Jenni’s I whipped up a charred corn salad, a vegetarian antipasto chopped salad, and an arugula and farro salad with peaches.  All so yummy and healthy and I will post them all before July 4th!  For dessert, you will love this yogurt and blueberry tart in a graham cracker crust, which I am sharing today.

making the crust

Have you ever tried straining Greek yogurt overnight?  It comes out with a texture like cream cheese!  No joke!  I stirred in a little Grade A maple syrup and some vanilla beans (although you could definitely use vanilla extract) and the result is a super thick and creamy, spreadable yogurt for a delicious tart filling.  This tart is lightly sweet, which I love, and I think it would equally welcome for brunch as it is for a dessert. strained Greek yogurt   strained yogurt with vanilla and maple syrup remove vanilla seeds from pod tart ready for some blueberry sauce

Since I am beyond crazy for the fresh blueberry sauce I posted last year, I poured that on top for the perfect finish.  Of course you can do something more red, white and blue by topping the tart with fresh raspberries and blueberries.  These berry tarts from Martha Stewart look darling and can give you some inspiration for using fresh fruit.  Or you can use any type of fresh fruit sauce like peaches, cherries, or citrus in the winter.  So many delicious ways to enjoy this!

love this blueberry sauce Yogurt and Blueberry Tart   yogurt and blueberry tart

 

 

Yogurt and Blueberry Tart
Author: 
Serves: makes one 9-inch tart which serves about 8 people
 
Ingredients
  • For the Graham Cracker Crust:
  • 9 whole graham crackers, broken into pieces (click here for my recipe for homemade graham crackers. The recipe is gluten-free adaptable.)
  • 3 Tablespoons coconut sugar or cane sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon sea salt
  • 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • For the Filling:
  • 3 cups Greek-style full- fat yogurt, strained 4 hours or overnight*
  • 2 Tablespoons Grade A maple syrup, raw honey or cane sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped (use the pod to flavor sugar or discard)
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries for garnish or blueberry sauce (recipe below)
Instructions
  1. To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Blend graham crackers, sugar and salt in a food processor until graham crackers are finely ground. Add butter and vanilla; process until moist crumbs form. Press crumb mixture onto bottom and sides of a 9-inch round tart pan, springform pan or pie plate. Bake crust until deep golden brown, about 12 minutes. Cool completely.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the strained yogurt with the maple syrup and the scraped beans from the vanilla bean. Spread the yogurt mixture in the crust and smooth the top. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for a few hours.
  3. Garnish with fresh blueberries or pour blueberry sauce over the top. Store leftovers in the refrigerator, however crust will be soft the next day
Notes
I have tried this recipe with alternative yogurts, such as coconut, but they will not strain to the same thick, cream cheese-like consistency as the Greek yogurt.

*To strain yogurt: place a thin, clean tea towel/flour sack towel or a double layer of cheesecloth inside a colander. Place the yogurt in the tea towel and wrap up to cover the yogurt.  Place the colander in a large bowl or on top of a plate to catch any drips and place in fridge overnight.

FRESH BLUEBERRY SAUCE

make 1 1/4 cups of sauce

 

1 ½ – 2 teaspoons arrowroot powder (depending on how thick you want it)

1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 pint blueberries

3 Tablespoons Grade A maple syrup

3 Tablespoons water

 

 

  1. In a small bowl, whisk the arrowroot in the lemon juice until dissolved. Set aside.
  2. Place the blueberries, maple syrup and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 4 minutes.
  3. Add the arrowroot and lemon juice mixture and stir to combine. Simmer for another 3-4 minutes until blueberries are very soft and sauce has thickened.
  4. Serve warm over pancakes or ice cream or refrigerate up to 5 days for later use.

 

Homemade ranch dressing recipe (dairy-free and vegan-adaptable)

Homemade Ranch Dressing | Pamela Salzman

For all of you out there who were like me and just hoping for a good game last night, was that a disappointment or what?!  We started counting how many times someone in the room said, “Are you kidding me?!”  At least the commercials and the half-time show were entertaining and eats were tasty.  We kept everything very simple with a taco bar, Mexican chopped salad and pizzas.  For snacking during the game, we had lots of guacamole, salsa and chips, naturally, and a huge raw vegetable platter with hummus, spinach dip and this homemade Ranch dressing.  I was very happy to fill up on lots of veggies so that I didn’t overdo it on pizza and tacos later.

Kefir, Vegenaise and Greek yogurt

base of the Ranch dressing before adding herbs

I had to come up with a cleaned up homemade Ranch dressing years ago for my husband because it’s his favorite on salads and I just can’t handle buying the bottled version.  Just read the ingredients on a label of Hidden Valley Ranch and you’ll understand why.  Even though I prefer a lemon juice or apple cider vinegar-based salad dressing, I think Ranch can sometimes really hit the spot and I do like it as a dip for crisp vegetables, too.  I taught this dressing in a summer cooking class over big slabs of ripe tomatoes and avocado with some raw corn.  So good!  And I love the idea of pouring a dressing into little cups with a few raw vegetable sticks for a party appetizer.

fresh parsley and chives

mince the herbs

Traditional Ranch dressing is herby and contains buttermilk and usually sour cream.  But I make mine with Greek yogurt, Vegenaise and kefir (pronounced kee-fer,) a fermented dairy product which is a little like a liquidy yogurt.  You can definitely use buttermilk and regular mayonnaise if you want.  But my girls really like kefir in the their smoothies and I usually have some in the refrigerator.  I also think it’s a bit better than buttermilk from a nutritional perspective.   Here’s an excerpt from  Sally Fallon’s book Nourishing Traditions  which is very interesting:Kefir is a cultured and microbial-rich food that helps restore the inner ecology. It contains strains of beneficial yeast and bacteria (in a symbiotic relationship) that give kefir antibiotic properties. A natural antibiotic–and it is made from milk! The finished product is not unlike that of a drink-style yogurt, but kefir has a more tart, refreshing taste and contains completely different organisms…kefir does not feed yeast, and it usually doesn’t even bother people who are lactose intolerant. That’s because the friendly bacteria and the beneficial yeast growing in the kefir consume most of the lactose and provide very efficient enzymes (lactase) for consuming whatever lactose is still left after the culturing process…kefir is mucous forming, but…the slightly mucous-forming quality is exactly what makes kefir work for us. The mucous has a clean quality to it that coats the lining of the digestive tract, creating sort of a nest where beneficial bacteria settle and colonize.”

homemade Ranch dressing | pamela salzman

If you can’t tolerate any dairy, even fermented ones, I do have a great vegan version of this recipe that you can follow below.  And if you don’t have fresh chives and parsley for this recipe, even half the amount of dried will do.  Like most dressings and vinaigrettes, Ranch can be enjoyed all year long.  However, keep in mind that creamy dressings go better with sturdier, more crispy lettuces like romaine.  No matter how you enjoy it, I think you’ll agree this is the freshest, best-tasting Ranch you’ve ever had!

homemade ranch dressing recipe (dairy-free and vegan-adaptable) | Pamela Salzman

 homemade ranch dressing recipe (dairy-free and vegan-adaptable) | Pamela Salzman

Homemade Ranch Dressing
Author: 
Serves: makes about 1 ¾ cups
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup soy-free Vegenaise or good quality mayonnaise
  • ½ cup full-fat Greek plain, unsweetened yogurt
  • ½ cup buttermilk or plain, unsweetened kefir
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 medium clove garlic, grated or minced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tablespoon chopped fresh chives or 1 scallion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
Instructions
  1. Whisk all the ingredients together in a medium bowl until smooth. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.
Notes
To make this dairy-free and vegan:
¼ cup vegenaise
¾ cup raw cashews soaked in water for 3 hours, then drained
1 cup fresh water
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 medium clove garlic, grated or minced
1 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne pepper
2 Tablespoon chopped fresh chives or 1 scallion, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped

Place everything except the herbs into a high-powered blender or food processor and blend until creamy.  Stir in the herbs by hand and transfer to a container.

Mediterranean turkey and zucchini burgers recipe

mediterranean turkey and zucchini burgers |  pamela salzman

I’m a happy mama since I picked up Mr. Picky from sleepaway camp on Saturday.  13 days is just too long for me to be apart from that guy.  I have been enjoying all the stories, hanging on every word as if he traveled around the world.  Bless his heart, Mr. Picky “snuck” some food from camp to bring to my husband and me.  Thankfully, it was from breakfast the morning he left and not from last week.  From his backpack he pulled out a paper cup with a few pieces of melon for me and a cup with mini cinnamon buns mixed with tater tots for my husband.  What does that tell you?

grated zucchini

While Mr. Picky can’t stop talking about his counselors, his bunk mates and all the competitions in which he participated, I had to find out about the food.  What was your favorite dinner?  Did you eat any vegetables?  What did you drink?  Blah, blah, blah.  I’m so predictable, but I have no self control.  I have to give the camp props that soda is not served.  I don’t know if I could handle that.

that's everything!

So what I have gathered is that Mr. Picky didn’t eat any protein at breakfast ever since, go figure, the camp doesn’t serve Organic Pastures Raw Organic Milk, and Mr. Picky still doesn’t eat eggs or cheese.  And it also sounds like the only vegetable he ate was cucumber.  So we have some catching up to do!  One thing that my son loves is any type of burger, even veggie burgers.  I made these turkey burgers the week before he left and he loved them so they’re going on the dinner menu again this week.  It’s another winner recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s “Jerusalem” cookbook.

12 patties

yogurt-sumac sauce

If you’re bored with plain burgers, these are so different and delicious.  And a great way to make a (small) dent in your zucchini crop.  They are moist, herby and they’ve got a great kick to them.  If spicy isn’t your thing, you may want to cut back to a pinch of cayenne.  Although if you make the sumac sauce, which is delicious, it really cuts the heat from the burgers.  But I’m not really doing dairy these days and Mr. Picky didn’t want any sauce, so I only made half the recipe for the sauce and I thought it was the perfect amount.  I also didn’t use traditional buns when I made these.  Bread will just detract from the tastiness of these burgers!  Instead we ate them on lettuce leaves with some chopped cucumbers and tomatoes, right up my alley.  Of course if you want a more traditional burger, you can probably get 6 “standard” size patties and pile them onto buns with all your favorite fixings.  Delish!

mediterranean turkey and zucchini burgers |  pamela salzman

mediterranean turkey and zucchini burgers recipe
Author: 
Serves: 4-6 (Makes about 18 1½ ounce burgers or 12 2½ ounce burgers)
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground turkey (I like dark meat)
  • 1 large zucchini, coarsely grated (scant 2 cups)
  • 3 green onions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped mint
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (perfect for us, but the original recipe called for ½ teaspoon; you can use even less if you don’t want them spicy)
  • unrefined olive oil, coconut oil or ghee for searing
  • For the Sour Cream & Sumac Sauce:
  • Scant ⅓ cup / 75 grams full-fat Greek yogurt
  • Scant ¼ cup sour cream / 50 grams (or use all Greek yogurt)
  • ½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • ½ Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ small clove garlic, grated or minced
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons unrefined, cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sumac
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Make the sour cream and sumac sauce by placing all the ingredients in a small bowl. Stir well and set aside or chill until needed.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the patties except the olive oil. Mix gently with your hands and then shape into about 18 burgers, each weighing about 1 ½ ounces or 12 burgers, each weighing about 2 ½ ounces.
  3. Pour enough oil into a large frying pan to form a layer about 1/16 inch thick on the pan bottom. Heat over medium heat until hot, then sear the patties in batches on both sides. Cook each batch for about 5-7 minutes on each side, adding oil as needed, until golden brown and cooked through.
  4. Serve warm or at room temperature, with the sauce spooned over or on the side.

Chocolate Banana Almond Flour Muffins with Chia Seeds Recipe (Gluten-free & Passover Friendly)

Chocolate Banana Chia Seed Muffins with Almond Flour | Pamela Salzman

There’s a new (but not really new) diet in town which everyone is talking about called the Paleolithic Diet or Paleo, for short.  Sometimes it’s referred to as the Caveman or Hunter-Gatherer Diet and it focuses on the foods humans ate pre-industrial agriculture.  The idea is that our bodies recognize certain foods and haven’t evolved to recognize other newer foods so we should stick to what was eaten during the Paleolithic time to be healthy and fit.  The diet allows lean grass-fed and pastured meats, eggs, nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables, coconut, avocado and healthy fats.  Easy, right?  But the diet does not allow anything processed or refined (like sugar, flour, packaged food), or any grains (wheat, rice, barley, etc.), legumes (beans, lentils), dairy, potatoes or processed oils.  I am not encouraging or discouraging this diet, which I think has its pros and cons, but merely giving a quick explanation since I’ve received a few questions about it recently.

all the dry ingredients

As I have noticed more and more people limiting gluten and grains, I have also noticed the increased popularity and use of almond flour, which is finely milled blanched almonds.  Almonds, like all nuts and seeds, are gluten-free, low in carbohydrates and high in protein.  Whereas nuts and seeds, generally speaking, can be slightly acid-forming, almonds are alkalizing.

I love Medjool dates!  Dice them when they're cold -- much easier.

A few years ago I found Elana Amsterdam’s great gluten-free website, www.elanaspantry.com, which I think started the almond flour revolution.  Elana has since turned paleo, and all her newer recipes follow those guidelines.  It’s really because of her website that I was inspired to experiment with almond flour and although I have had mixed results, overall I think it’s awesome once I figured out how to work with it.  I think it’s great to add some variety to our diet and I love getting some extra protein into Mr. Picky.  Almond flour also comes in handy around Passover, 8 days of no grains or legumes, except Matzoh which can start to get a tad boring after a few days.

Add dates to combined dry ingredients

I had a really delicious Chocolate Banana Chia Seed muffin at Le Pain Quotidian last year or the year before and I was intent on duplicating it.   The muffin was moist with the perfect amount of sweetness and I loved the crunch from the chia seeds.  They were kind enough to tell me the ingredients (although not the exact recipe) and I made a tasty version at home with whole wheat pastry flour and maple syrup.  The kids thought they were great!  When I tried using almond flour in place of the wheat flour, we all went crazy for them.  The almond flour version of the muffin was the best — super moist, chocolaty and a little denser, but in a good way.  Now when I make these muffins, I always use almond flour!

it's good to break up the date pieces

pour in the wet mixture

Before you start substituting almond flour one-for-one for wheat flour, stop right there.  It isn’t a perfect substitution.  Almond flour has no gluten, but does contain way more fat than wheat flour so there are a few adjustments to be made.  I would stop by Elana’s Pantry for a quick lesson on how almond flour works.  I also have found that specifically labeled “almond flour” is better than “almond meal” (like Bob’s Red Mill.)  Per Elana, I started buying almond flour from Honeyville Grain, which has a very good, fresh product and a very reasonable shipping fee ($4.50 flat rate.

fold in the mashed banana

batter with the mashed bananas

These muffins are not technically Paleo due to the yogurt, although if you can find an unsweetened almond milk yogurt, that would work here.  Or you can try making these without the yogurt and just add 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, although I have never done it and can’t guarantee the results.  I’m really posting these as a great gluten-free, Happy Passover muffin, although I make these all year.  In fact I made these recently and Daughter #2 had a few friends over and they inhaled half the batch in 2 minutes.  (I’m telling you, if you want the kids to hang out at your house, you need FOOD.)  To make this more of a dessert, you can certainly substitute chocolate chips for the diced dates.  The chia seeds are fun and obviously nutritious, but there’s less than 1 teaspoon per muffin so it’s not a dealbreaker if you want to omit them.

using an ice cream scoop makes this easy

ready for the oven

As always, I love hearing about your experiments in the kitchen and would especially be interested to know about your experience with almond flour or your favorite Passover treats.  Once again, I’m on dessert duty for Passover and I’m getting busy right now.  This weekend I will be making loads of Macaroons, both plain and dipped in chocolate, the Lemon Ice Torte which I have been making since 1991, and a raw cashew “cheesecake” which I will have to share another time.  There is also a recipe on my site for a (vegan) Coconut Tart with Strawberries which is perfect for Passover and Easter.  Lots of delicious options!

also delicious warm out of the oven!

Chocolate Banana Almond Flour Muffins with Chia Seeds
Author: 
Serves: makes 12 muffins
 
Ingredients
  • 1 ¾ cups blanched almond flour (not almond meal – I use Honeyville)
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 2 Tablespoons of chia seeds + 1 Tablespoon for muffin tops
  • ½ cup diced pitted dates, about 7 dates (easier to dice when they’re cold) (optional, or ½ cup chocolate chips)
  • 4 Tablespoons melted unrefined coconut oil
  • 4 Tablespoons whole unsweetened yogurt
  • ⅓ cup 100% pure maple syrup or honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 medium very ripe bananas, mashed
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 12-cup muffin pan with unbleached parchment liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and 2 Tablespoons chia seeds.  Add dates and break up pieces so they don’t stick together.
  3. In a blender, combine coconut oil, yogurt, maple syrup, eggs, and vanilla.
  4. Pour wet mixture into bowl with dry ingredients and stir until just combined.  Fold in mashed bananas.
  5. Divide the batter into the prepared pan.  (An ice cream scoop makes this job easy.)  Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out  clean.