Zucchini Pasta & Kelp Noodles with Sunflower Cilantro Pesto

Kelp noodles are one of my favorite ingredients these days and this Zucchini Pasta & Kelp Noodles with Sunflower Cilantro Pesto dish is a happy new addition to my growing repertoire of both kelp and zucchini noodle recipes..

I LOVE to eat, and while I don’t count calories, yet there is no denying that too many of them can be unkind. Enter kelp noodles! Now the words “kelp noodles” do not conjure up visions of an unctuous and mouthwatering morsel….however they have no flavor and are basically a vehicle for amazing sauces.

The only trick however is that while they do not need to be cooked, they do need to be soaked in filter water and baking soda for at least 20 minutes to let them soften. This is not something that you will find instructed on the packaging…it seems to be underground intel that I am happy to have, and happy to share! So whether you are ambitious to make the recipe below or you just want to throw some store-bought pesto or peanut sauce on these puppies you will to be disappointed, I promise!

Kelp Zucchini Noodles

Zucchini Pasta & Kelp Noodles with Sunflower Cilantro Pesto

For the salad~
1lb package kelp noodles*
1 Tablespoon baking soda
3 large zucchini (about 1.5lbs)
1/2 medium red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
3 medium scallions, thinly sliced on the bias

For the sauce~
1/2 packed cup cilantro leaves & stems
1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/3 cup filtered water
2 Tablespoons ume plum vinegar**
2 large slices raw red pepper
2 large cloves garlic
1 large pitted medjool date
Sriacha to taste (optional)
A generous pinch of Himalayan salt

Serves 4-6

Place the kelp noodles in a large salad bowl with enough filtered water to cover and add the baking soda, allow them to soak for 30 minutes. This will soften the noodles to a silkier texture, a must!

While the noodles are soaking; Trim the ends of the zucchini and then julienne lengthwise on a mandolin or with a julienne peeler until you get to the seeds. If the seeds are small you can go as far into the center as possible. You can also use a spiralizer. Save the core for another use such as a stir fry.

Add the shredded zucchini into a bowl with 1 teaspoon of salt and toss well. Set it aside for 20+ minutes to allow the salt to draw out the water of the zucchini.

Place all ingredients for the sauce in a blender and blend on high until smooth. Leave the sauce in the blender while you drain the zucchini.

After the 20 minutes; set a cereal-size bowl next to you and gather the zucchini into a pile at the side of the bowl with one hand. Tip the bowl and press very firmly on the zucchini to help the liquid that is releasing drain into the cereal bowl. Repeat again to get as much liquid out as possible. Reserve the liquid for another use such as cooking veggies or rice etc.

Drain the liquid from the kelp noodles and rinse well. Return them to the bowl, add the zucchini and sauce and toss well. Taste and adjust seasoning and salt if needed. Allow the salad to sit for 10-15 minutes to marinate. Serve room temperature or you can heat gently in a sauté pan on medium-low heat.

Tips & Notes~

You can add many different kinds of raw or cooked veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, asparagus, etc. All types of nuts work also in exchange for the sunflower seeds.

*Kelp Noodles are available on line or in the International section of many grocery stores. They are good heated or served cold.

**Ume Plum vinegar is made from fermented Japanese plums, full of flavor and has many medicinal benefits. It is available in the vinegar or international section of many grocery stores. If you cannot find; replace with lemon juice or rice wine vinegar and add extra salt.

Check out this article on umeboshi plums by One Green Planet to see what they are all about!

Vanilla Cashew Milk

This Vanilla Cashew Milk recipe is a revelation for me. Some of you know of my “milk conundrum”. That is, my long time battle with what kind of milk to take in my coffee. I used to use fat free organic dairy milk. If you don’t know what that was a bad choice read this post.

I switched to store bought organic almond milk. I follow the rule of not using anything with ingredients that I cannot pronounce…almond milk was my only exception. Why not make my own my own you ask? Because it’s grainy and separates in my coffee and I refuse to be annoyed before 7am. So then I went to grass-fed whole milk. This didn’t quite sit right either, as I try to lessen my environmental impact and eat vegan much of the time.

I went back and fourth for a long time. Then the “ahhhhh ha” moment came. Cashew milk was the answer! Creamy, rich, vegan, easy to make, no straining and it doesn’t separate in my coffee…victory! You can make it plain for universal applications or put vanilla or other fun stuff in it.

Creamy Vanilla Cashew Milk

Ingredients:
1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked in water to cover for at least 4 hours
1-1/2 cups filtered water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder* or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (more…)

Grain Free Banana Blueberry Coconut Muffins

During my trip to Idaho over the last month I experimented a lot with coconut flour. I LOVE it! It’s high in fiber, gluten free and has a delicious nutty flavor. The trick is that because of the high fiber it is quite drying so use 1/3 cup for every 1 cup of regular flour required. My clients are huge fans of sweet breads, and warm in the morning (frankly who isn’t?). This recipe I concocted is one of my faves so far. Experiment and enjoy!

Banana Coconut Muffin

Grain Free Banana Blueberry Coconut Muffins

Ingredients:
3 large pasture raised eggs
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 medium-large ripe bananas
4 medjool dates, pitted
2 Tablespoons coconut sugar or 10 drops of stevia
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped, plus more for the top
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
Shaved coconut flakes or more nuts for the top

Makes 6-8 muffins

 
Directions:
Place eggs, oil, bananas, dates and desired sweetener in a blender and blend on medium speed until well combined.

Add in coconut flour, salt and baking soda and blend on low until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and fold in walnuts and blueberries.

Scoop batter into a muffin pan lined with muffin papers (optional) and top with more walnuts if desired. If you like the “muffin top” the fill the cups up to the top. If you want them a little smaller fill 3/4 of the way. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes until the top springs back to the touch. Serve!

 

Tips & Notes~

Use any kind of nut or any kind of berry.

Add some powdered ginger or cinnamon for a little spice.

 

 

 

Quick Strawberry Mint Sorbet

Light, refreshing and perfect for summer, this quick sorbet is simple and delicious. It also doesn’t have any of the weird ingredients or stabilizers that many of the store-bought brands have. Its also a great project to do with your kids and  keep them busy for a an hour or so (much needed this time of year I bet). So drag out that ice cream machine that has been collecting dust and get going. Please not that you may have the type of machine that requires that the container be frozen is advance (typically at least 12 hours- plan ahead).

There are many variations that you can do like changing out the fruit for something else that is ripe and fantastically in season. You can event get a little wild and use basil instead of mint or even exchange a bit of the puree for some coconut milk to make a vegan sherbet. I would recommend increasing the simple syrup by 1/4 so it stays smooth as it freezes. The sweet content is partially what keeps the consistency for being too icy so don’t try and substitute the simple syrup for stevia- it will fail. You can perhaps try some maple syrup but you will have to tinker with the ratio as it is a strong flavor. The other component that makes the consistency smooth is the rate at which the minute freezes- but the fast machines have freon built in and cost hundreds to thousand of bucks. Unless you are a serious ice cream or sorbet maker- the simple ones will probably do!

Strawbery Sorbet

 

Strawberry Mint Sorbet

INGREDIENTS:

2 pints fresh strawberries (1-1/2 pounds), tops removed
1-1/4 cup simple syrup (recipe follows)
1/2 packed cup fresh mint leaves
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Makes 1 quart

DIRECTIONS:

Purée the strawberries in a blender with the simple syrup until very smooth. Add the mint and lemon juice and pulse until the mint is broken down into tiny flecks. Transfer to an ice-cream machine and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Simple Syrup

1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons organic cane sugar
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons filtered water

Makes 1-1/4 cup

Combine in a sauce pan and gently warm until all the sugar has been dissolved.

Tips & Notes~

If you would like to remove the strawberry seeds you can strain the mixture before blending in the mint.

This recipe works well with raspberries or blackberries also but you will certainly want to strain!

 

 

 

 

 

Zucchini Cakes with Spicy Lemon Coconut Sauce

SUPER easy, vegan, gluten & grain free and YUMMY, what could be better? Get creative and change it up a bit with some other shredded veggies, the sky’s the limit!

zucchini cakes

Zucchini Cakes with Spicy Lemon Coconut Sauce

INGREDIENTS:

3 medium Zucchini, grated
About 1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup Chickpea Flour
1 Tablespoon Za’atar (optional)*
1 teaspoon Chili Powder
2-3 large green onions, sliced
Freshly cracked pepper
Coconut oil or olive oil for the pan

Makes 10 medium cakes

DIRECTIONS:

Place the grated zucchini in a bowl and toss with a good pinch of salt. Allow to sit for 15-20 minutes to let the moisture of the zucchini release. Add the remaining ingredients except the oil and mix well. The moisture that comes from the zucchini should be enough to turn this into a batter. If not, add a few tablespoons of water but be sure it is not runny, the mixture should be thick like pancake batter.

Heat a large sauté pan on medium heat and add about a couple teaspoons of oil. Using an ice cream scoop or a large spoon, scoop the mixture to the pan forming 5 small pancakes, spreading them with the back of the scoop. Brown on one side for about 5-6 minutes, flip and cook until golden brown on the other side, about 5 minutes. Repeat with the remaining batter, tenting the cooked cakes with foil to keep warm. Serve immediately with the spicy coconut sauce (recipe follows).

Tips & Notes~

*Za’atar is generally prepared using ground dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, mixed with toasted sesame seeds, salt and ground sumac. Available in middle eastern markets. If you cannot find you can add a few pinches of dries herbs and a squeeze of lemon.

Grated carrot or sweet potato also makes a nice substitution for some of the zucchini but you will need to add a touch of water to make up for the liquid in the zucchini.
Spicy Lemon Coconut Sauce

INGREDIENTS:

1 clove garlic
1/4 cup raw almonds, soaked in water for 4+ hours and drained
1/2-1 medium jalapeño or serrano chile, cut in half (amount depends on level of spice desired)
2 medium green onions, bottoms removed and rough chopped
1/4-1/3 cup coconut milk (full fat)
1-2 Tablespoons lemon juice
A good pinch of salt
About 2 Tablespoons+ fresh dill or cilantro

Makes about 3/4 cup

DIRECTIONS:

Place all ingredients except for the dill into the blender and blend on high speed until smooth. Add the dill and pulse a few times to break it up. Taste and adjust salt and lemon if necessary. If you want a thinner sauce use 3/4 cup of coconut milk.

Minted Watermelon Cooler

This is the perfect summer drink, especially with a little “kick” added to it. It is versatile and can be done with many different kinds of fruit. Accidentally add some silver tequila or vodka and voila, you’ve got a party in a glass!

Watermelon CoolerMinted Watermelon Cooler

3 cups cubed watermelon
1 cup water or coconut water, chilled
3-4 Tablespoons honey or maple syrup or stevia to taste
Zest of 1/2 a lime
Juice of 2 limes
6-8 large mint leaves

Makes 4 servings

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth but still slushy. If you have a vitamin you will want to use the tamper to help it along, not then stop the machine once or twice to give the slush a stir. Taste and adjust lime or sweetener if desired.

 

Tips & Notes~

You can use unfrozen fruit and add ice but the consistency will not be as slushy.

Add some chilled vodka or silver tequila in place of some of the liquid.

Swap out some or all of the watermelon for some frozen mango or berries.

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