RECIPE simple & awesome guacamole

The most critical part of making good guacamole is to have perfectly ripe avacados—which can be a tough call, since they’re usually rock hard when you buy them and suddenly ripen before you know it (unless you check them by touch every day)!  Avacados are so creamy and flavorful, there’s really no need to add exotic ingredients or spices—the following ingredients can be found in most kitchens.

Ingredients

2 ripe avacados

Juice of ½ lemon (or lime)

½ medium sized red onion, minced

1 tomato, chopped

10-12 dashes Tabasco Sauce (or to taste)

coarse salt to taste

Preparation

Cut avacadoes lengthwise, remove pit and mash with fork.

Add lemon, onion, tomato, salt and Tabasco, and mix well.

Adjust salt and Tabasco to taste.

Serve with tortilla chips (we like Garden of Eatin’ Blue Corn Tortilla Chips).

RECIPE pumpkin spice bread

I’ve made this pumpkin bread for years–and though it’s not the healthiest recipe I have (it has some sugar, which I’ve reduced with some success; and flour), it has become a family favorite and a wonderful addition to any holiday table or potluck gathering.   Note:  I have tried this recipe with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Flour and it was not as tasty as with regular whole wheat flour (please let me know if you come up with a better gluten free solution!)

Ingredients

2 cups canned pumpkin (Farmer’s Market Organic pumpkin has BPA free cans)

3 cups sugar (can reduce to 2 ½  without much suffering)

1 cup water

1 cup vegetable oil (I use canola oil)

4 eggs

3 1/3 cups  whole wheat flour

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp nutmeg

¾ tsp ground cloves

optional: 2 Tbsp flax seed and/or 2 Tbsp wheat germ

unhealthy option: add ~3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin, sugar, water, vegetable oil and eggs.  Beat until well mixed.

Measure the other ingredients in a separate bowl and stir.  Slowly add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture, beating until smooth.

Grease two 9- by 5- inch loaf pans and dust with flour.  Evenly divide batter between the two pans. Bake for 60-70 min or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool 10-15 minutes.  Remove from pans by using a knife to loosen from edges of pan, then invert onto a rack and tap the bottoms.  Slice and serve plain, buttered or with cream cheese.

RECIPE quinoa salad with cranberries and walnuts

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

1 cup dried cranberries

¼ cup walnuts, chopped

¼ cup green onions, sliced (or  ½ yellow onion, minced)

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

1 ½  T olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

Preparation

Combine quinoa and water in medium saucepan, bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and continue to cook until all the water is absorbed.

In a medium bowl, combine the other ingredients.  Toss with cooked quinoa.

Cover and chill in refrigerator for at least 30 min before serving.

This cold salad has a refreshing nutty taste that complements the unique flavor of quinoa.  Easy to make and travels well for BBQs, potlucks or picnics.

RECIPE chicken and mango skewers

Chicken & Mango Skewers

Serves 4

Ingredients

6 tablespoons olive oil

¼ cup fresh lime juice

zest of 1 lime (optional)

1 teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch cubes

3 ripe, firm mangoes, peeled & cut into 2-inch cubes

Preparation

In large bowl, mix first 7 ingredients, add chicken and mango.

Cover and refrigerate 2-4 hrs (optional).

Heat grill to med/ med-high.

Thread skewers with chicken & mango cubes, alternating.

Brush grill with oil and arrange skewers on grill.

Cook until chicken is cooked through, 6-10 min, turning once.

Note:  to slice a mango, peel the fruit and then stand up on one of its narrow edges.  Cut down, just grazing the side of the pit (which is narrow & oblong); repeat on other side.  Place halves flat side down and cut into cubes.

RECIPE detox tea with ginger and turmeric

Detox Tea with Ginger and Turmeric

Note:  I still have to do my research into the “detox” phenomenon, but I do have to say I love this tea!  It is refreshing and has two ancient herbs with well known beneficial properties (look for an upcoming post on that topic). Too much of a good thing can be harmful, however, as turmeric (and to a lesser extent, ginger) can be toxic to humans at very high doses.

Ingredients

2 cups water

1/2  teaspoon powdered ginger

1/2  teaspoon powdered turmeric

1 tablespoon mayple syrup (I use 100% maple syrup)

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Preparation

Bring water to a boil, add the powdered herbs.  Simmer for ~10 minutes.  If desired, strain tea, and pour into 2 mugs (original recipe says this is one serving, but I break it up into 2 and reheat the 2nd at a later time).  If desired, you can add more water to dilute the spiciness of this tea to your preference.

RECIPE israeli couscous with cranberries & almonds

Israeli Couscous Salad

(adapted from online recipe, site unknown)

Ingredients

1 cup Israeli couscous (you cannot substitute with Moroccan couscous)
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth, low sodium
4 T olive oil, divided
2 cups dried cranberries
1 cup sliced almonds (or pine nuts)
1/2 cup scallions (white parts only), chopped
1/2 medium sized red onion, finely chopped
1 oz cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 shallot, minced
1/2 lemon
sea salt to taste

Preparation

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat 1 T olive oil over medium high heat. Add the couscous and stir about 1 minute, until the couscous is lightly browned. Stir in 2 cups of broth.* Cover with a lid and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the couscous has absorbed most of the liquid and is al dente. Drain in a colander but do not rinse. (Another method to rapidly cool the couscous if it’s a little too creamy: spread the hot couscous on a cookie tray in a thin layer, uncovered, for about 15-20 minutes). Once cooled, stir in the remaining 3 T olive oil to coat and separate the grains

In a serving dish, combine the couscous with cranberries, almonds (or pine nuts), scallions, red onion, cilantro, lemon zest and shallots. Spritz with lemon juice and adjust seasoning with the sea salt to taste.

Note: This can be a very seasonal dish; simply dice additional fresh vegetables (butternut squash in the fall, zucchini in the summer) and toss in.

* Of course, you can always boil it in plain water as you would pasta and drain it; but I prefer the extra boost of flavor that comes from using a broth.

RECIPE cauliflower with indian spices

This recipe is adapted from my cousin’s wife–thank you Kathleen! It is easy to make, is super healthy, reheats well and is absolutely delicious!

Cauliflower with Indian Spices

Ingredients
1-2 head cauliflower, cut into smaller florets (adjust the amount of cauliflower to your liking; I use 1.5 for this recipe)
1 large yellow onion, quartered and broken apart
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
3 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 tablespoon paprika (original recipe calls for spicy Hungarian paprika)
1 3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar

Preparation
Preheat oven to 450ºF.
Place cauliflower and onions in a roasting pan.
Stir spices, oil and vinegar together and pour over vegetables.
Stir vegetables to coat.
Cook for about 35 min, stirring occasionally.
(I prefer the vegetables a little crispy so I usually cook longer)