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 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 warm filtered 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 not be disappointed, I promise!

Kelp Zucchini Noodles

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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 Mercola’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). (more…)

Spicy Southwestern Kelp Noodles with Avocado & Toasted Seeds

Raise your hand if you love noodles. I DO, I DO!!! Unfortunately they tend to be on the heavy side and often carry the “guilt factor”.  I prefer not to associate guilt with food but you know what I andoaean.

Kelp noodles are as light as light can be. They are made 100% with seaweed and water and have 6 calories per serving…”light” done right, au natural! The only thing is that they need some “umpf” injected into them as they rate 0 on the flavor scale.

I love to use peanut sauce, pesto, tomato sauce– you name it. I have been on a veggie and fruit cleanse the last couple of weeks (and liver cleanse to boot = no fun). Pretty much any kind of dressing will do. This Southwestern Kelp Noodle Salad recipe is one  I created to inspire my tastebuds & carry on. Check it out!

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Southwestern Kelp Noodles with Avocado & Pumpkin Seeds (more…)

Tomato Cucumber Salad with Sesame Oil & Lemongrass

Last Sunday I did an open house at Teena’s Pride farm. I just love, love, love basking in all the glory of such fantastically fresh and delicious produce! It is so easy to make it taste good…it already does! Much of the produce that we buy at the grocery stores are more than a week old (if not older, especially if it is from another country) and losing flavor and nutrients by the minute. This is a fantastic reason to get on board with a CSA (community supported agriculture) or to regularly visit your local farmers market.

This salad was the inspiration that came from the incredible bounty at Teena’s, easy, light, and uber fresh…perfect for the new year. You could also just blend all of the ingredients and make an Asian style gazpacho…yum!

Tom Cuke SaladTomato Cucumber Salad with Sesame Oil & Lemongrass

INGREDIENTS:

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
4 small Persian cucumbers, sliced into 1/4 inch rings
(or 1/2 English cuke cut into half moons)
1 teaspoon salt
2+ Tablespoons Umeboshi plum vinegar*
1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1+ Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons honey (local preferred)
2 teaspoons very finely chopped lemongrass (optional)
2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
1/4 packed fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts
Salt & freshly cracked pepper to taste

Serves 4

DIRECTIONS:

Place the tomatoes and cucumbers in a salad bowl and add the 1 teaspoon of salt. Toss gently and allow to sit for 15-30 minutes lightly tossing on occasion. This will allow the natural liquid to seep out (allowing for maximum flavor from dressing).

After this time has passed; drain off the escaped liquid and reserve for another use.

Mix the vinegar, oils and honey, lemongrass and ginger together in a small bowl and pour over the veggies. Add the remaining ingredients, season lightly with salt and pepper (the umeboshi vinegar is quite salty so keep this in mind) and toss gently but completely. Taste and adjust oil and vinegar if needed. Serve immediately!

Tips & Notes~

*The Ume vinegar is a vegan option for fish sauce, although it has more tang as fish sauce is mostly salty. Use this is Asian dishes as a vegan alternative. It is also amazing in partnership with other vinegars in all sorts of recipes. I just LOVE this stuff!

 

Pear and Fennel Salad Rolls with Toasted Walnuts

Everyone loves portable food, especially these days. These salad rolls wrapped with Asian rice paper wrappers are so easy to work with and can turn many different foods into a something that you can take on the go. Fill them with just about any kind of salad or cooked veggie and even add some protein and VIOLA…a meal on the go!

Pear and Fennel Salad Rolls with Toasted Walnuts

Ingredients:
5oz of mixed greens or arugula (1 bag)
1 medium ripe pear or apple, cored and sliced thinly
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dill, roughly chopped (optional)
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped*
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
Asian rice paper wrappers as needed**

For the Dressing:
1+ Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil Salt and pepper to taste

Servings varied depending on how big you make the rolls.

Directions:

Place all ingredients for salad up to the wrappers, into a large bowl. In a small bowl; whisk the vinegar, mustard and olive oil together and pour over the salad. Season with salt and pepper and toss well. Taste and adjust the vinegar and seasoning if needed.

Fill a wide bowl filled with a few inches of room temperature filtered water. Have a clean cutting board or counter (preferably wood or plastic) in front of you and the salad in arms reach.

Lightly oil a serving plate with olive oil and set next to the cutting board.

Dip the first rice paper in the water for about 8-10 seconds; making sure that every bit of the paper gets wet. Remove, shaking off the excess water and lay the wrapper on the cutting board in front of you.

Starting at the edge closest to you; place a good handful of the salad on the paper in a horizontal shape but not going all the way to the edges. The wrapper will begin to soften as you do this.

When the paper feels pliable; pick up the end of the wrapper closest to you with your thumb and forefinger and fold tightly over the salad and then fold in the sides. Do not let go and continue to roll using your pinky fingers to continue to tuck the sides in so that nothing is poking out. Roll until the end wraps around and sticks to the outside the paper. This may take a few attempts so have a few extra papers just in case.

Cut the finished rolls in half and place on the oiled serving plate. Repeat until you have used all of the salad. Cut in half and serve immediately.

Tips & Notes~

This salad works well with pretty much any kind of nut.

You can use these wrappers with all kinds of salad, they make a great portable meal or a party appetizer.

*To toast the nuts~ Spread them on a sheet pan in a single layer. Bake at 325 degrees until the nuts are toasted and fragrant, about 7 to 10 minutes. Let the nuts cool, and then coarsely chop.

**The rice paper wrappers are available in the ethnic section of many grocery stores or in an Asian market.

Marinated Cucumber Seaweed Salad

I used to always order a seaweed salad at a Japanese restaurant. That is until I realized that the bright green ones are artificially colored…ewww! Do not fret, you can always ask if the salad is “made in house”, if the answer is yes then likely to be the real deal. Or, you can just make it yourself…here’s how!

Cuke salad

Marinated Cucumber Seaweed Salad

Ingredients:

2 ounces dried wakame seaweed*

1 large seedless cucumber, peeled in alternate strips and sliced into ¼ inch half moons**
1/8 of a medium red onion, very thinly sliced
Thinly sliced chili such as Thai or serrano, optional
Toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Dressing~

4 Tablespoons rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons neutral oil such as grapeseed or rice bran oil
1 Tablespoon white miso paste
1+ Tablespoons nama shoyu or soy sauce
1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons honey
2 Tablespoons finely grated ginger
A pinch of salt

Makes 4 large servings

Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Add wakame and remove the saucepan from the heat; let stand until softened, 20 minutes. Drain and squeeze the seaweed out gently. If you have purchased the large leaves; slice thinly removing any very large tough ribs from the center. If you have purchased the “prepared”variety no need to cut.

Whisk all ingredients for the dressing in a large bowl. Add the wakame, cucumbers, onions and chili and toss well. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and serve.

Tips & Notes~

Add some very thinly sliced red bell pepper or carrot for some nice crunch and color.

*Wakame is a type of dried seaweed. It comes in packages of long strips or pre-cut, the pre-cut variety will save time. Typically it comes in 1.75oz – 2oz packages, either weight is fine for this recipe.

**If using a regular cucumber, use 2 large- and be sure to remove seeds.

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