Market Finds

Market Finds
Farmer's Market Bounty

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

BOOOOOOO-tifully Healthy Soup


For someone who is a bonafide scaredy cat, I love Halloween.  Costumes, candy, parties and Charlie Brown's great pumpkin are perennial favorites, and for me, this marks the unofficial start of the holiday season.  My most favorite time of the year.  
As the years go by, the candy collection has become less of an obsession, and now I channel my energy into making fun, whimsical and healthy foods (as you can see from the photos above) for my family, friends and clients.  Last week, I was positively giddy (and probably annoying to the rest of the kitchen crew) as I prepared my creations in my evil laboratory (a.k.a. The Cancer Wellness Kitchen).  Halloween certainly brings out every one's creativity and appreciation of some child-like fun.  
Although chocolates and candy corn may not be on my priority list these days, there is still a temptation to over indulge when the goody bags are lurking near by. So, ad the holiday season approaches, it's always key to keep healthy eating and moderation in mind.  One of my favorite holiday "elixirs"is my carrot ginger soup.  The soup is warm, slightly spicy and a boooooo-ti-ful orange autumn color.  Serve this soup on Halloween night.  It can be made ahead and kept warm in a slow cooker, while you are trick or treating.  The leftovers freeze well, so make a double batch and save some for another hectic weeknight.  

Happy Halloween and make every plate something to be passionate about!

Roasted Carrot, Ginger, Cashew Soup:

2 1/2 lbs. carrots, cut into one inch pieces
Non-stick cooking spray
1 teaspoon each sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
1 cup Roasted Cashews
2 red chilies, stems removed, ribs and seeds removed from one pepper only
4 cloves garlic
2 inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled
1 cup chopped yellow onion
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground garam masala
2 quarts vegetable broth
Optional Garnishes:
Non-Fat Greek Yogurt, Cilanto

Step One:
Preheat Oven to 425 degrees.  Place carrots on a foil-lined baking sheet and coat liberally with non-stick spray and salt and pepper.  Bake for 25-30 minutes in preheated oven until carrots are caramelized and softened.

Step Two:
While carrots are roasting, add cashews to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped, but not turned into a butter.  Remove from bowl and set aside.  Next pulse garlic, ginger and chilies in food processor until combined and finely minced.  Remove from bowl and set aside.

Step Three:
Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven, over medium-high heat. Add the onion and spices and sauté till onion has softened, about three minutes.  Add the ginger mixture and continue to cook, stirring frequently for another 2-3 minutes.  Next, add cashews and stir to incorporate.

Step Five:
Turn off heat and carefully use an immersion blender to puree the soup. Now you are ready to garnish and serve.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Who's Up For a Skinny Dip?

White bean dip with Greek inspired topping
Usually a skinny dip involves taking your top off, but my recipe today is all about putting your top on.  That is, piling a simple white bean dip with some beautiful toppings. I am taking a plain appetizer and turning it into a show stopper.

This dish is truly all about the presentation.  One can spread any type of thick dip on a large plate or platter and top with any number of accouterments. Guacamole is lovely when topped with chopped tomatoes, cotija cheese and cilantro.  Romesco sauce gets some added "olé" when topped with toasted marcona almonds, grated manchego cheese and fresh parsley.  My lemony white bean dip was garnished with kalamata olives, cucumber, tomatoes, feta cheese and fresh dill.  I am always looking for ways to sneak in more veggies and herbs into most everything I make and using these items for decoration is perfect.

So, get your dip out of the bowl, spread it on a platter and let your imagination run wild and as always, make every plate something to be passionate about!

White Bean Dip with Greek-Inspired Toppings:

1 16 oz can cannelini beans
1 16 oz can garbanzo beans
3 cloves garlic
Juice of 3 lemons
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and whizz until throughly combined and creamy.  Spread dip onto a large plate or serving platter and top with the following:

1/2 cup quartered grape tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped English cucumber
1/4 cup chopped Kalamata olives,
1/4 cup crumbled feta
2 tablespoons fresh dill

Serve with pita chips or crudité

Thursday, October 9, 2014

For the Love of Noodles

"Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti"
-Sophia Loren

I absolutely adore this quotation by the timeless Italian actress, Sophia Loren.  In our current age of gluten-free, wheat-free and carb-fearing diets, this statement seems downright rebellious.  Even as a person who cooks healthy food for a living, I'm still pretty adamant about my love for traditional noodle dishes.  As always moderation is the key to any healthy diet, and in order to not act on every pasta craving that hits me, I have begun collecting beautiful photographs and recipes of noodle dishes on Pinterest.  Over the past couple of months, I have amassed almost two hundred pins on my noodle board.  This is food porn at its finest!  

One of the recent trends I've noticed on Pinterest is the "wonder pot".  Basically this is all the ingredients for a pasta dish cooked together in one large pot on the stove.  I am all for any recipe that cuts down on the number of dishes that I have to wash at the end of the day.  I jumped on the wonder pot bandwagon, and came up with a comforting homestyle chicken-noodle dish.  To me, this recipe is as warm and comforting as a hug from your grandma, or Sophia Loren.

Chicken Noodle Wonder Pot:
1 TB unsalted Butter
1 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 cup Yellow Onion, chopped
2 Celery Stalks, chopped
2 Carrots, chopped
2 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Dried Thyme
3 skinless, boneless Chicken Breasts
4 cups Chicken Stock
1 14.5 Oz can of Vegetable Stock
1 cup Carrots, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
1 12 oz package of Wide Egg Noodles
1 TB Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1/4 cup Cold Water
Sea Salt and White Pepper to taste
Fresh Chopped Parsley for garnish

Heat butter and olive oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the chopped onion, celery, carrots, turmeric and thyme.  Stir vegetables while sautéing for about 3-5 minutes, or until vegetables have softened slightly.  

Place chicken breasts in dutch oven and cover with chicken and vegetable stocks.  Bring liquid to a boil  then reduce to a simmer.  Cover the pot and simmer the chicken for 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 160 Degrees.  When chicken is cooked, remove from the cooking liquid and set aside to cool, before shredding.

Bring stock back up to a boil and add the noodles and carrot discs.  Boil pasta for 8-10 minutes, then add in the shredded chicken.  Season with salt and white pepper to taste. The recipe is now ready to eat, but if you prefer a thicker sauce, combine the cold water and whole wheat pastry flour, until flour is dissolved, then stir into the mixture in the pot.  Allow to simmer until desired thickness is reached.  Garnish with chopped fresh parsley if desired.

Noodles and carrots soaking up all that delicious chicken broth
Shredded chicken goes back into the pot 
For a thicker sauce, add in a slurry of whole wheat pastry flour and cold water
The finished recipe is a bowl full of comfort

Follow my noodle board on Pinterest at and don't forget to make every plate something to be passionate about!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Daring Greatly Dinner

Our guests were certainly daring enough to try black spaghetti with Thai flavored pesto
What does daring greatly mean to you?  In the healthy kitchen, it means introducing our diners to new and unusual ingredients, used in unexpected ways.  We recently had to opportunity to work with Cancer Wellness facilitator, Angela Buttimer, during her Daring Greatly workshop.  Daring Greatly, is a book by Brené Brown, that explores the power that can come from allowing ourselves to be vulnerable.  The name for Brown's book stems from the following quotation, from a speech given by Teddy Roosevelt in 1910:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”
I love these words and the older I get, the more I can relate to what Mr. Roosevelt was trying to convey.  I may not have always "dared greatly" in my personal life, but most certainly have always done so with my palate, and thus, welcomed the chance to  help create a menu with Chef Nancy for this workshop.

The challenge of turning meat and potatoes eaters, into healthy eaters is a task we face daily, and the Daring Greatly dinner was another opportunity to use some of our staple ingredients in new and exciting ways.  We started the meal with a seafood terrine, which was a huge hit with our guests.  They never guessed that we had added calcium rich sardines to their appetizer.  The entree consisted of cauliflower steaks with puttanesca sauce and black bean pasta, topped with a Thai style pesto.  Dessert was a trio of chocolate ricotta creams.  The participants had fun trying to identify the various flavors (Cayenne and Cinnamon, Cardamom and Orange) used in the dessert. 

I made the black bean pasta and Thai pesto and have shared the recipe below.  This dish certainly does not resemble any conventional pasta and pesto recipe, and that is Daring Greatly as far as I am concerned.  The guests devoured this odd looking meal with enthusiasm and gusto, which leads me to believe that they were most definitely paying attention during Angela's workshop.  I challenge you all to "dare greatly" the next time you are grocery shopping or planning a meal, and as always, make every plate something to be passionate about!

Thai-Style Pesto:

1 bunch Italian parsley
1 bunch cilantro
1 bunch Thai basil
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
5 cloves garlic
1 2" piece of fresh ginger, peeled
3 jalapeños (keep seeds and ribs for a spicier sauce)
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Juice and zest of 1 lime
1 tsp of sea salt
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Step One:
Place first ten ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine.  

Step Two:
With motor running, slowly drizzle in olive oil until mixture is fully emulsified.  Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.

Serve over pasta or rice.  This sauce is great for a cold or warm pasta dishes.  Its raw and vegan and when served over a gluten-free pasta or grain, you will be a rock star to all of your friends and family for having made a meal containing all of the most current culinary buzz words!