the flexible foodie

Berries Throughout Winter and a Fruit Smoothie

Posted on December 10, 2013

It may seem a little odd to be talking about smoothies when many of you have snow falling outside your windows, but I am an all winter smoothie gal. Drinking a smoothie a few times a week during the colder months of the year is a great way to get your antioxidant fix when fresh berries are not in season, and we know how important antioxidants are…!  So, on to smoothies.

I can’t tell you how many times smoothies have saved me from food regret.

smoothie 1

You know, the feeling you get after you’ve just eaten an obscene amount of crackers straight from the box because you were starving when you walked in the door and didn’t have the energy for pots and pans.. yeah, that one…

At moments like this, when I’ve missed the window for dinner but don’t want to go to bed on empty, smoothies have time and time again proven to me that they can be nutritious and well rounded light meals all on their own.

 

I am crazy for smoothies; for breakfast, as a snack, and as I mentioned, even for a late night dinner fix. The amazing thing about them, is that you can throw in just about anything and invariably it will hit the spot. That said, as with most things, I have a favorite. Meaning, it usually wins out when I’m weighing whether or not to get newly creative with my ingredients. Feel free to substitute almond milk, fresh juice, or coconut water for the yogurt if you’re a vegan.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of organic frozen strawberries
  • 1/4 frozen of organic frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 of a banana
  • 2 tablespoons of unsweetened coconut
  • 1 tsp  fresh ground flax seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of almond butter
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened yogurt (I like greek for it’s high protein content)
  • 1 cup of baby spinach leaves (optional)

Instructions:

Throw everything in a blender and blend on high until it’s smooth!

How Do I Keep Fish on My Menu? and a Ted Talk by Dan Barber

Posted on December 6, 2013

In this inspiring Ted Talk, renowned chef Dan Barber poses a question that many ethical chefs face: “how do we keep fish on our menu?”. For many years I was a pescatarian (meaning fish was the only animal based protein I included in my diet besides eggs) but as I became increasingly aware of issues surrounding commercial fishing and it’s affect on ocean ecosystems I struggled with a similar question: how do I keep fish on MY menu?

 

Though fish is indubitably one of the healthiest sources of protein and minerals, overfishing and environmentally destructive fishing practices are threatening the health of our oceans, and to such an extent that the personal health benefits associated with the consumption of fish are not enough to outweigh the negatives of supporting the seafood industry.

 

What’s perhaps of even more concern is the fact that fish are exposed to more environmental toxins than any other animal, including humans. Trash, radioactive waste, heavy metals particularly mercury, and pesticides are only a few of the contaminants that fish absorb into their systems through water pollution. When we eat fish we are ingesting these toxins into our bodies and our bloodstreams, which is why pregnant women are cautioned to not consume seafood during pregnancy or even while breastfeeding, That’s how potent and toxic these pollutants are.

 

So what can we do? The absolute best resource for learning to eat seafood safely and with minimal deleterious affect on ocean ecosystems is the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood watch website.  They encourage consumers and businesses to purchase seafood that is fished or farmed in ways that don’t harm the environment. They also offer recommendations as to what fish can be eaten safely in regards to contamination.

 

As Dan Barber says, “we need a radically new conception of agricultural”, and sustainable fishing practices should be at the forefront of our agenda. Our seafood choices have the power to make this situation worse, or improve it.

 

Also check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s vast collection of sustainable seafood recipes. Not only will you find culinary inspiration here, but you can use this as a framework through which to educate yourself on safe seafood choices.

 

xo

mima

GF Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies

Posted on November 28, 2013

choco coconut cookiesTonight, my family and I are heading to see Catching Fire, the second installation in the Hunger Games Trilogy.  In keeping with the treat yourself theme of Thanksgiving I wanted to bring along something sweet for us to enjoy on this snowy night. I decided cookies would be the perfect moviegoers dessert as they are portable and have a relatively inaudible crunch so as not to disturb the other patrons.

So instead of indulging in the candies and chocolates of the HFCS containing variety that are normally found at movie theaters, we will be enjoying these delicious gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. These cookies are crumbly and moist with a very delicate crunch thanks to the shredded coconut. They are the perfect decadent treat but are so harmless in the nutrition department that they could be enjoyed even as a quick energy boosting snack in lieu of an energy or granola bar.

Happy Thanksgiving!

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate and 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/3 cup grade A maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together almond meal, dark chocolate chips, coconut, baking powder, salt and sugar.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat egg until uniform in color and doubled in volume.
  3. Whisk in the coconut oil and vanilla, then add to dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  4. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or even overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Shape dough into 1-inch balls, place on baking sheet with 1-1/2 inch space in between each. Press down slightly to flatten a bit.
  7. Bake until edges begin to brown, 12-14 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool before serving.

Recipe adapted from the Sprouted Kitchen

Saucy Eggs: Eggs Poached in Tomato Sauce over Polenta

Posted on August 13, 2013

IMG_0002

With all this rain we’ve been having, I’ve  been craving comfort foods in a bad way but with the height of summer upon us, I’ve been hesitant to indulge my desire for decadence. Thus arose my inspiration for this dish and let me tell you, it was positively dreamy. It is at once comforting and satisfying, without leaving you overly full or feeling like you’ve overindulged.

 

Imagine this: soft creamy eggs poached directly in rich marinara sauce served over polenta and garnished with parmesan cheese. Friends, it doesn’t get much better than this. The fresh basil lends a subtle peppery flavor, while the tomatoes give the dish a bright, sweet, mildly acidic taste.

 

This dish comes together in about 45 minutes and is so easy to make. It would be perfect for an elegant brunch party but is also simple enough to throw together for a quick weeknight dinner.

 

Ingredients:

1 can of crushed San Marzano tomatoes

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove of crushed garlic

1/2 tsp of sugar

Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Eggs (as fresh as you can find)

Polenta

 

Instructions:

In a small skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Add crushed san marzano tomatoes and bring to a boil; season with sugar, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about fifteen minutes. Add 1 handful of chopped basil leaves.

 

Gently crack eggs into tomato mixture, cover, and let cook 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat, uncover, and let stand 2 to 3 minutes.

 

Using a slotted spoon, place each egg over a triangle of polenta. Spoon sauce over the top and garnish with cheese and fresh basil.

A Berry Birthday Cake with Buttercream Frosting

Posted on August 3, 2013

berry cake

Nothing brings me more joy than offering up nutritious and delicious recipes for you all to enjoy. That said, I’m a firm believer in the occasional indulgence. The key is moderation in everything, including moderation.

 

I made this Meyer lemon pound cake for a friend’s birthday picnic and the smiles it brought to everyones faces once again affirmed my belief that a sweet treat, every once in awhile, is a welcome component of a balanced diet.

 

Ingredients:

1 tbsp. butter, plus 8 tbsp. melted

1/2 cup whole blanched almonds

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. fine salt

1 1/3 cups plus 2 tbsp. sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk, at room temperature

2 tbsp. lemon extract

Zest and juice of 2 Meyer lemons

Instructions:

1. Heat oven to 350°. Grease two round eight inch cake pans with 1 tbsp. of the butter and line with parchment paper. Invert and tap out excess crumbs; set aside. In a food processor, grind the almonds until very fine, about 1 minute; set aside. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

2. Put the remaining butter into a large bowl and add 1 cup of the sugar. Mix with an electric mixer on low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating just long enough to incorporate, about 30 seconds. Add the flour mixture and milk mixture in 3 batches, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat until mixed after each addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, about 3 minutes total. Mix in the lemon extract. With the spatula, fold in the lemon zest and ground almonds. (The mixture will be thin.) Turn batter into prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean and dry, about 65 minutes. Let cool for ten minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack and let stand until completely cool.

For the buttercream frosting:

In a cuisinart, whip together 1 cup of organic cream cheese, 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt, 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract, and 1/2 cup of buttercream. Sweeten with either 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, or 1/2 cup of confectioners sugar. Adjust for desired sweetness and consistency. Frost the cake, and then pile high with your favorite seasonal berries.

Red Lentil Soup with Lemon and Turmeric

Posted on June 12, 2013

soup 1

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of dry red lentils, picked over and rinsed well
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of ground turmeric
  • 4 tablespoons of virgin coconut oil
  • sea salt
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons whole yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of two lemons or three Meyer lemons
  • 1 large bunch of chopped organic spinach
  • cooked quinoa or brown rice, to serve
  • whole Greek yogurt, to serve (skip if you want to keep the soup 100 % vegan)

Instructions:

Put the lentils in a pot with 6 cups of water, turmeric, 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, and 2 teaspoons of sea salt. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, until the lentils are soft and falling apart. Takes about twenty minutes or so. Puree with a hand blender or in a blender or cuisinart. Taste and add more salt as needed Keep the soup warm/hot.

While the lentils are cooking, prepare the onion. In a skillet over low heat cook the onion in 2 tablespoons of the remaining coconut oil along with the cumin and mustard seeds. When the onions have softened, roughly 8-10 minutes, add the cilantro and cook for a few seconds before removing from the heat. Add the onion mixture to the soup along with the lemon juice.

Just before serving, add the last of the coconut oil to the skillet, and saute the spinach until wilted. Stir into the soup and cook for another 2-5 minutes on low heat.

Serve by placing a scoop of rice or quinoa in each bowl, then ladle the soup, spinach, and a dollop of yogurt on top. 

 

Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison.

A Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake

Posted on June 10, 2013

choco cake

I’m fairly certain that chocolate cake is good for you, once in awhile… just saying. This one especially, since it’s gluten-free, made with coconut oil instead of butter, and contains only five simple ingredients: bittersweet (or semisweet) chocolate, eggs, coconut oil, sugar and vanilla. I served it warm with whipped greek yogurt that I lightly sweetened with honey and flecks of vanilla bean. It’s outrageously delicious and the ideal indulgence.

Ingredients:

6 organic (ideally free range) eggs

12 ounces of bittersweet chocolate (you can use semisweet if you prefer a slightly sweeter cake)

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

1/2 cup of coconut oil

1/4 cup of sugar

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a springform cake pan and dust with unsweetened cocoa powder. Set aside

Separate yolks and whites into 2 mixing bowls. Melt 1/2 cup of coconut oil in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add chocolate and whisk until it’s fully melted and the mixture is smooth and creamy. Let cool for a few minutes. Whisk egg yolks, vanilla and chocolate until fully combined. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites, slowly add 1/4 cup of sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold 1/2 of the egg whites into chocolate mixture, add the remainder and gently fold in. Pour batter into cake pan and cook for 25 minutes. Let cool for 5-10 minutes.

To make whipped greek yogurt, combine 3/4 cup of whole greek yogurt with 1 tablespoon of honey and the vanilla from 1/2 of a vanilla bean pod. Using the electric mixer, whip for 30 seconds.

 

*photo courtesy of Naomi Romm

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