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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fruit and Nut Bars


These home-made granola bars are easy to make and healthier than processed bars. Packed full of raw nuts, dried fruit, whole grain oats and coconut oil, they contain all three essential macronutrients: protein, healthy fat and fiber.

They freeze well so make a big batch and keep them on hand for quick breakfasts when you're short on time or healthy, portable snacks. Take them to school or work, the beach or hiking trail, or wherever your day may take you.

½ cup rolled oats
½ cup packed dried unsweetened apricots
½ cup packed dried unsweetened cherries (or substitute dried unsweetened cranberries)
½ cup packed dried unsweetened dates
1½ cup boiling water
½ cup raw cashews
½ cup raw almonds
½ cup raw pistachios or raw pumpkin seeds
Pinch cinnamon
Pinch sea salt
¼ cup ground flax seeds
¼ cup honey
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp organic butter, or substitute more coconut oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350F and boil the water.
  2. Place the apricots, cherries and dates in a glass bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside for 20 minutes.
  3. Line a 7”x11” glass baking dish with parchment paper. (You can use another size baking dish, but this will change the thickness and cooking time.)
  4. Melt the butter and stir in the honey. Set aside.
  5. Grind the flax seeds if they’re not already ground. Set aside.
  6. Add the oats, cashews, almonds, pistachios, cinnamon and sea salt to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
  7. After the fruit has rehydrated, strain it and reserve the liquid. Add the fruit to the nut mixture in the food processor, along with the ground flax seeds, butter and honey. Pulse to combine, adding the reserved liquid as needed to mix, about ¼ cup. Once the mixture is homogenous and well combined, transfer it to the baking dish and smooth into an even layer about 2 cm thick.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove it from the oven and set aside to cool to room temperature.
  9. Cut into bars and eat or store them in an airtight container, layered between sheets of parchment paper. Wrap some bars individually in parchment paper so they will be ready to go when you are. Store them in the fridge for one week or the freezer for one month.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Asian Salad with Tempeh and Tamari Vinaigrette

Tempeh comes in many varieties. It is made with soy but can also contain other grains like millet, barley, brown or wild rice, or even flax seeds. Like tofu, tempeh tastes like a blank slate. I actually like it better than tofu because it has a chewier texture and doesn't require pressing to remove excess water. And because it is a fermented food, it's easier to digest, the nutrients are more bioavailable, and it has a positive impact on intestinal flora.

Tempeh is easy to cook: just cut it into slices or cubes, sauté it in extra virgin olive oil until golden brown and crispy, and toss it with a vinaigrette or other sauce (teriyaki and curry sauces work well). Here, it tops my Asian Salad.

If you are avoiding soy, omit the tempeh or substitute cooked, sliced chicken breast or your favorite variety of cooked beans, like chick peas or kidney beans.

This recipe makes 2 main course portions or 4 side dish servings.

To make the Tamari Vinaigrette:

2 tbsp tamari
2 tbsp brown rice vinegar
1 tbsp honey or maple syrup
1 tsp raw sesame oil (not toasted)
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 tsp freshly grated or minced garlic
Pinch crushed red pepper (optional)

Whisk together all the ingredients in the bottom of a large salad bowl. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

To make the salad:

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, first cold pressing
4 oz tempeh, or ½ block, cut into cubes or strips
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 carrot, grated or shaved into thin strips with a vegetable peeler
1½ cups shredded red cabbage
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1 cup cilantro leaves
2 fresh clementines or mandarins, peeled and separated into individual sections
½ cup raw cashews
4 to 6 cups salad greens

Warm the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the tempeh until golden brown on all sides. While still warm, transfer it to the salad bowl and toss to coat in the Tamari Vinaigrette. Remove the tempeh and set aside.

Add the remaining ingredients to the salad bowl and toss to coat everything with the Tamari Vinaigrette. Arrange on a serving platter or individual plates. Top with the tempeh and serve immediately.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Calamari Salad with Olives and Roasted Tomatoes


Calamari are inexpensive and easy to prepare. Most restaurants serve them as an appetizer, breaded and deep fried, rendering them greasy and flavorless. A healthier alternative, cooking them quickly with just a little olive oil and sea salt, showcases their savory flavor and tender, chewy texture. But give them your full attention because if you overcook calamari, they can become tough and rubbery.

Because the calamari cooks so fast, this simple salad is a snap to prepare if you roast the tomatoes in advance. (Or, add them to the salad raw.) I used cilantro but parsley is a good substitute, or even fresh dill. I chose mixed pitted olives because I like a variety of flavors and textures, but you can use any olives you like.

This salad can be made an hour in advance and served at room temperature as an appetizer or main course, giving you time to prepare the rest of the meal.

1 pint grape tomatoes
Extra virgin olive oil, first cold pressing
Sea salt
1 pound small calamari (squid), cleaned
1 medium organic lemon, zest plus juice
Ground peppercorn to taste
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup pitted olives

Preheat the oven to 350F. Halve the tomatoes and add them to a baking dish. Toss with enough olive oil to coat, about a tablespoon, and sprinkle with sea salt. Transfer the tomatoes to the hot oven and roast for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through the cooking time. Turn the oven off and let the tomatoes continue to cook with residual heat as the oven cools.

If your fish monger hasn't cleaned the squid, hold the body and pull out the tentacles, allowing the head and innards to follow. Pull out the long cartilaginous quill from inside the body, along with any soft matter, and discard it. Chop off the tentacles and discard the head and innards. Feel the base of the tentacles to make sure it is soft. If you detect any hard parts, the beak is still inside, so trim it away and discard it. Reserve the tentacles and body tubes.

Rinse the cleaned tentacles and tubes (inside and out) and drain them well. Leave the tubes whole or separate the fins and chop the tubes into strips or rings. Transfer them to a bowl and toss with a pinch of sea salt and enough olive oil to coat all the pieces thoroughly.

Add the lemon zest and 3 tablespoons lemon juice to a large, clean bowl. Add an equal amount of olive oil, or more to taste, and the ground peppercorn. Whisk together. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Set aside.

Preheat a grill pan or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the calamari, taking care to not crowd the pan. If necessary, cook the calamari in batches, turning as needed to cook all sides. Whole body tubes may take longer to cook than rings or tentacles, but everything should be done in just a few minutes. The calamari will be ready when they become firm and curl up. Do not overcook.

As the calamari finish cooking, add them to the lemon and olive oil mixture and toss to coat them well. Add the roasted tomatoes, olive and cilantro. Toss to combine. Taste for seasoning again and adjust if necessary. Serve immediately while still warm or cool to room temperature and serve within an hour.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Rhubarb Raspberry Compote

Rhubarb was plentiful this morning at the farmer's market so I made it into a compote. When the weather warms up, cool desserts taste great. Make this easy compote ahead and chill it for several hours so you can serve it cold.

I used frozen raspberries because fresh ones are not yet in season. If you prefer, fresh strawberries are in season and would work wonderfully here. But unless I have an abundance of local, organic berries, I always opt to eat them fresh so I can fully appreciate their flavor, rather than cook them with other ingredients.

You could also skip the berries – rhubarb apple compote is a winner too – but I love the bright color and sweet-tart flavor they contribute.

2 cups chopped rhubarb, about 7 slender stalks
3 cups chopped apple, skin intact, Cortland or other, about 2 medium apples
¼ cup water
1 cup frozen raspberries, thawed, with juices
2 to 3 tbsp local honey

To garnish: (optional)
Organic cream, whipped and unsweetened
Organic plain whole milk Greek yogurt

Chop the apples and rhubarb stalks into pieces of similar size, about 1 cm chunks. Add them to a saucepan with the water. Cover and simmer over low heat until soft and saucy, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the berries and honey. Cover and cool to room temperature.

Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary, adding a bit more honey a small pinch of sea salt if desired. Transfer to a serving dish, cover and chill in the fridge for several hours.

Serve cold as is or top each serving with a dollop of freshly whipped cream or a spoonful of Greek yogurt. Or, serve it as a fruit topping with a bowl of regular whole milk plain yogurt.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Find Your Farmer's Market

Not sure how to find a farmer's market?

In New York City, visit the Greenmarket website and click on "Our Markets" in the menu on the right side of the screen.

Outside of New York, visit the Local Harvest website to search by zip code in the box in the top left corner of the screen.