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!

How to Sprout Most Beans

Sprouts are fun and easy to grow and are delicious, alkaline and packed full of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. These fun little projects are also a great source of vitamins E, C, B and A as well as potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium and protein. Sprouting unlocks the nutrients & protein inside the plant cells more readily and makes the protein found beans as well as nuts & seeds more bioavailable and more digestible. Sprouting as well as soaking, or fermenting foods also significantly reduces enzyme inhibitors, greatly increasing the digestibility and absorption of all nutrients in food, including amino acids.

For a more in-depth look at why sprouting is so awesome, check out my guy Dr. Josef Marcela’s article. 

FullSizeRenderStep #1 Select Your Bean & Quantity:
Use organic beans such as adzuki, lentils, mung beans or chickpeas. The beans beans will at least double in size during sprouting, so only prepare as many sprouts as you can eat in about 4 weeks. The fastest to sprout are mung beans and lentils, especially if you live in a humid climate. My favorite beans are adzuki beans (shown here) for their nutty texture, high protein and iron and anti-oxidant content. Most dry beans are good for sprouting but you want to avoid black beans as they can be toxic. Note that “split” beans or peas will not sprout.

Step #2- Soak Your Beans:
Place your beans in a wide-mouthed glass jar and fill with filtered water until the beans are covered by about 4 inches of water (use this rule for any amount for beans). Allow them to soak in the water overnight, or for about 8 to 12 hours and then rinse and drain them very well as they can go off if they are too moist. I do this several times inside the jar. Cover with a piece screen from the hardware store (shown here) or a piece of cheesecloth. Leave the jar in a semi-lit place while the beans sprout (I like my kitchen near the window).

Step #3- Rinse Your Beans:
Rinse and drain the beans well 2-3 times per day. The easiest way is to add water through the screen over the top as you can fill it and drain it without having to remove it. Watch your sprouts grow over the next few days. You can stop sprouting after 2-3 days or when the tails are about 1/4 to 1/2 inch long or as long as the body of the bean. You can also keep them growing up to 4 days for large, plump sprouts. Note: chickpeas or garbanzo beans get bitter if you sprout too long so you just want the very tip to be sprouted.

Step #4- Rinse and Store:
Finish sprouting by giving your beans a final rinse and then placing them in the covered jar in the refrigerator. Sprouts should last about 2-4 weeks; however, it will depend on the length of sprouting and amount of moisture on the beans when you placed them in the refrigerator. Make sure that you smell the sprouts for spoilage after 2 weeks and toss them if you are in doubt or you can gently cook them in a soup which is what I do if they are not super fresh as they still have plenty of nutritional value!

Uses~
I toss them in to salads, in a stir fry (at the end so they stay raw), right before I serve a soup or into a pasta. I also put them in to smoothies to add some living food and some extra protein! (more…)

Eggplant Bánh Mì Tacos with Pickled Veggies & Spicy Aioli

Austin LOVES tacos…well and who doesn’t quite frankly? I think we love them because they can be filled with just about anything- which is part of the fun. Get creative to celebrate National Taco Day or just follow the this delicious and plant-based and paleo friendly recipe below for Eggplant Banh Mi Tacos and you cannot go wrong. This recipe was developed in collaboration with our incredibly talented chef Heather Valdes for a summer cooking class. The initial recipe was made with shiitake mushrooms, yum! This one was adjusted to use up some of the bountiful eggplant happening in Austin & Miami right now. Whatever your filling choice, this is a great template for all sorts of interesting options.


Eggplant Bánh Mì Tacos with Pickled Veggies & Spicy Aioli

Quick Pickled Veggies~
1 medium carrot, julienne or grated (or butternut squash to be uber seasonal)
1-1/2 cups cucumber, thinly sliced into thin half moons
1/2 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1/3 cup filtered water
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon Himalayan salt

bahn-mi-tacosEggplant Filling~
3 Tablespoons coconut oil
1-1/2 pounds eggplant, cut into ¼ inch x 3 inch strips
3 Tablespoon reduced ­sodium tamari
2 Tablespoons filtered water
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
1 Tablespoon Siracha (or to taste)
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1” piece of ginger, minced
Freshly ground black pepper

Tacos & Optional Garnish~
8 small corn tortillas, warmed through either in the oven or on a stove top
Lettuce Wraps instead of tortillas
Generous handful of fresh cilantro and/or mint- tough stems removed
Scallions, thinly sliced on bias
Thinly sliced radish
Chopped Peanuts

Quick Pickled Veggies: Add all ingredients to a large glass jar, secure the lid, and shake for 10 to 15 seconds to mix. You’ll want to allow the vegetables to soak for at least 30 minutes (at room temp) up to 24 hours- the longer the better. If you plan to do hours in advance, place the jar in the fridge until ready to assemble.

Eggplant Filling: Whisk together the maple syrup, tamari, chili garlic paste, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger and black pepper in a small mixing bowl and set aside.

Heat a large sauté pan over high heat, add the coconut oil and the eggplant and reduce the heat to medium­ and cover. Cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring as needed to prevent burning.

Add the tamari mixture to the pan and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until the sauce is absorbed, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat.

To Assemble~

Fill each corn tortilla with a small spoonful of the eggplant and then the pickled vegetables. Drizzle with the aioli (recipe follows) and top with the fresh, cilantro, mint, scallions and peanuts if using. Serve immediately.

Tip & Notes~

This recipe would also be delicious with a variety of mushrooms or other veggies such as squash, peppers, cauliflower or broccoli.

Siracha Aioli

1/2 cup mayo of your choice (we like brands with very little ingredients- Just Mayo is a good one)
2 Tablespoon sriracha
Juice of one lime
1½ teaspoons smoked paprika
Salt to taste

Mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. Allow to sit overnight for flavor to develop if you have time.

Raw Chocolate Bark

Many of you know by now that I have quite the sweet tooth. I actually don’t do much baking for the particular reason (I would eat it ALL, sigh). This Raw Chocolate Bark has become my favorite go-to along with my Perfect Banana Ice Cream. I love it mostly because it’s easy, uber fast and I can take a few nibbles and be satisfied. It is also packed full of nutrients and minerals and won’t leave you feeling like you were naughty. It is also easy to customize to your liking so don’t be afraid to experiment!

Raw Chocolate Bark, quick, clean and naughty all at the same time ;)

Raw Dark Chocolate Bark

INGREDIENTS:
3/4 extra virgin coconut oil*
1/2 cup high quality raw cocao powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
4 drops liquid stevia**
A pinch of Himalayan Salt (more…)

Mixed Mushroom Parcels with Sherry & Herbs

Everyone is looking for exciting vegetable side dishes. These tasty little parcels are super fun, fast and a neat crowd pleaser. Many different veggies will work and you can even place a piece of fish inside the parchment for a full and flavorful meal.

Mixed Mushroom Parcels with Sherry & Herbs

INGREDIENTS:

6 cups mixed sliced mushrooms, such as shiitakes, oysters or chanterelles or portabellas, cleaned and de-stemmed
1 small head of fennel, tops and core removed and sliced very thin (I use a mandolin)
6 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
6 large stems of tarragon or dill, stems removed and chopped
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup dry sherry, marsala or madeira
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
6 slices of butter, about 1/8 inch thick (optional)

(more…)

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…)

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