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Southwestern Black Bean & Corn Salad

Everybody loves black beans, or I should say I can’t imagine how they someone couldn’t like them. I love them! This is a great salad for the warm weather and holds really well. It’s perfect to make ahead and also great leftover and added to some hearty greens.

Black Bean Salad

Southwestern Black Bean & Corn Salad

Ingredients:

3-4 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon cumin
2 large ears of corn- removed from the cob
2 cans black beans, rinsed (3 cups)
1 cup small diced ripe mango (optional)
1 large tomato, diced‹ small
3 medium scallions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts or pumpkin seeds*
1/3 cup chopped cilantro, mint, basil or oregano
A few dashes of cayenne or hot sauce to taste (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Makes 8 large servings

DIRECTIONS:

Whisk vinegar, oil, garlic and cumin in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl; toss well and season with salt and pepper to taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Refrigerate or serve room temperature.

Tips & Notes~

Make ahead and cover and refrigerate for up to 4 days.

Toss with mixed greens and a little extra oil and vinegar and top with crumbled feta or goat cheese if desired.

Cut down on the vinegar and heat in a pan and serve warm.

*To toast nuts; place in a sauté pan over medium heat and toast for 4-6 minutes, stirring every so often. Note that pine nuts have a high oil content and will cook quickly.

 

Shaved Root Vegetable Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts

With the coming of fall, root veggies are inspiring. This Shaved Root Vegetable Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts is simple, fast, and even better the next day. There are lots of variations that you can do like adding some shaved cauliflower or even some jicama. No matter what the veggie, I like to use my Japanese mandolin for extra thin slicing! Watch my Mandolin 101 video for full details! 

Autumn Salad Recipe

Shaved Root Vegetable Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts

Ingredients:

1 small celery root, peeled, cut in half and very thinly sliced
1 small golden beet, peeled, cut in half and very thinly sliced
1/4 medium red onion, very thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, very thinly sliced on the bias
1 small fennel bulb, core removed and thinly sliced
1-2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
3 Tablespoons good quality extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tablespoons chopped dill, parsley or mint
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup hazelnuts, walnuts or almonds, roughly chopped & toasted read more…

Green Curry Vegetables with Tofu

I recently made this Thai Curry for a private class. It is vibrant, spicy and all around amazing!

Thai recipe

Recipe: Green Curry Vegetables with Tofu

Ingredients:

3 Tablespoons virgin coconut oil, divided 1 pound extra firm tofu
2-3 Tablespoons green curry paste
1 can coconut milk

1/2 cup filtered water
3 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon fish sauce* or light soy sauce* or light Tamari
1 Tablespoon coconut sugar or brown sugar
2 cups cubed japanese eggplants (about 1 medium regular eggplant) 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and julienne
2 medium carrots, sliced on the bias in 1/4 inch pieces
3/4 cup whole Thai Basil or Sweet Basil leaves
Juice of half a lime

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What Kind of Eggs Are You Eating?

Many of you that have been to my classes have heard me speak fondly of pasture raised eggs…even seen me pluck off a feather or two (much to the dismay of a few who didn’t realize that feathers might be involved with an egg at some point). This usually leads to a discussion about the difference between eggs and what all the labels mean. Well, there is a vast difference in price and an even more vast difference in quality of the production.

Bowl of brown eggs

Here is some insight and brief description on what it all means. You can also visit the Cornucopia website for the Organic Egg Brand Score Card for the best brand choices. As shoppers we vote every time we buy, the more educated we are the more we can make a diference.

“Farm Fresh” or “Healthy” – The cheapest eggs out there, and there’s a reason for this folks. The chickens eat the cheapest food (including leftover cow and chicken parts) and are raised like an egg-producing factory. They live in cages the size of a piece of copy paper and live in 24 hours of artificial daylight to keep them laying. Their beaks are also burned off so that they do not peck each other from the stress of this lifestyle.

“Vegetarian Feed,” “All Natural,” “Omega-3 enhanced” – Still raised in cages but fed grains like GMO soy and corn. A bit pricier but not at all a better life for the hen.

“Cage-free” – Not crammed into a confined pens but indoors their entire lives. They do get to walk around but often it’s over the dead body of a feathered comrade who has past away due to rampant disease of mass factory farming (enter vaccines and antibiotics). Their food may still consist of ground up animal parts if the label also does not say “vegetarian diet.”

“Free-range” – This means that the ladies have “access” to the outside. This typically means through a small opening at the end of the huge barn that they may never use anyway. It is estimated that only 3% – 5% of tens of thousands of hens even find the opening, chances are they never go outside.

“Organic” – They are fed organic feed and have not been given hormones, vaccines or antibiotics. This does not mean however that they have any better quality of life and may still be raised in cages or in large bands on top of each other and their beaks may still be burned off. Better for the human but not necessarily for the bird.

Pasture Raised Eggs“Pasture raised” – The only ones that I will buy these days (unless in an absolute pinch and “organic free range” is all there is). This title means that they have been clucking about in a grassy field eating all sorts of insects, grubs, grasses etc. These eggs will not be labeled “vegetarian fed” however as an insect is not a vegetable…ya dig?

They are the most humane option, the best tasting and the most nutrient dense, as they are eating their natural diet and it has far more value than organic soy or corn. They are also the most expensive, but you can save some $$ if you buy them at farmers markets. It is worth it for the nutrient value and most importantly, for the chicken. Easiest way to tell that you are getting the real-deal? If your eggs are under $6/dozen don’t buy them.

I always say that pasture raised egg will change your life. If you have never eaten a fresh egg with a gooey orange center you are in for a treat!

Here is a comprehensive list that will help you make the best choices in the grocery store.
Organic Egg Brand Score Card

Check out this video to drive the point home!

What Should You Eat?

We are constantly inundated with food. Cooking Networks, fad diets, colorful ad campaigns, health dos and don’ts, all with conflicting points of view. If you are like me, much of the time you are confused on what to eat anymore. Vegetarian, imported organic, local conventional, gluten-free, dairy free, vegan, raw, the blood type diet or now this Paleo situation…I am exhausted just writing about it. Then every time you turn around there is some celebrity chef throwing caution to the wind and deep frying a hamburger and topping it with cheese and coleslaw (and getting paid a ton to do it)…what diet is that on anyway?

After a lot of research, a lot of eating and more than my fair share of cooking, I have decided that I am a “Qualitarian”. Thank you to my good friend and fellow qualitarian Chef Julie Frans for coining this phrase. It works for me. I leaves pathways open to express myself as a chef and to enjoy myself as an eater and to not be confined to labels, rules and expectations.

When the eggs are farm fresh and hail from chickens clucking about in the grass, I happily eat them. When the salmon was caught from a friend a few days ago, I dive in. I love myself some grass-fed short ribs but a few bites is enough for me. Most of the time I am vegan, just ‘cause I like to eat that way. I love my fruits and veggies and never, ever feel deprived. This “diet” works for me.

Not everyone can eat this way. Many folks truly feel like they need more animal protein (not to be mistaken with protein in general mind you, there is a ton of protein in a veg/vegan diet). It is clear that not everyone can follow the same diet and feel good. You have to find what works for you.

Whether you eat meat, gluten, dairy or wombat for that matter, the answer it to eat a ton of plants, no argument, this is not up for debate. The valuable minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants in fruits and vegetables will keep the doctor away, so will managing your stress levels but we’ll save that subject for another time. The fresher, more local and consciously raised food you put in your body the better. The Qualitarian Quest is not an easy one, nor is it cheap, but I promise you friends, it is worth it and delicious…your body and the planet will thank you!

Sun Gold Tomato Salad with Fava Beans & Buratta

This is an amazingly easy and delicious composed salad that I made during my trip to Sonoma County last week. Of course I can take much less of the credit than my parents for actually growing many of the ingredients, and quite frankly if the tomatoes are not outstanding don’t even bother. Oh but if they are…this is the perfect showcase!

Sun Gold Tomato & Fava Bean Salad with Buratta

Ingredients:

3 cups perfectly ripe Sun Gold Tomatoes or other cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 cups fava beans, shelled, blanched and skins removed*
2 large rounds (about 8 oz each) of buratta cheese, cut in half
1/4 medium red onion, very thinly sliced
A good handful fresh mint and basil, finely chopped
Good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar, even a fig or cherry balsamic is nice
1 medium lemon
Salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
Serves about 4

Directions:

Arrange the buratta cut-side up on a large platter. Scatter the cut tomatoes and the fava beans over the top. Drizzle with balsamic and olive oil and then using a microplane or fine grater; zest the lemon right over the top. Squeeze the lemon juice evenly over the salad and season well with salt and pepper. Top with the herbs and serve immediately!

*If you cannot find fava beans you can use fresh or frozen english peas, though not quite the same.

Avocado Fries with Curry Garlic Yogurt

This recipe is a winner, not that you could ever really go wrong with avocado. Still, it is not your typical guacamole application! It will impress your guests, or frankly, just be a treat for yourself!

Yummy avocado fries with curry yogurt dipping sauce.

Avocado “Fries” with Curry Garlic Yogurt

Ingredients:

Coconut oil or olive oil for coating the baking sheet
1/4 cup whole wheat flour (I like whole wheat pastry flour)
2 large eggs, beaten
1-1/2 cups whole grain or gluten-free breadcrumbs
2 firm-ripe medium avocados, pitted, peeled, and sliced into 1/2-inch wedges
Salt to taste
Grated Parmesan for serving (optional)

Makes about 3-4 servings

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