Whole Roasted Cauliflower Bagna Cauda-Style

Bagna Cauda Roasted Cauliflower

My Nonna introduced me to Bagna Càuda, a traditional Italian warm dipping sauce made with garlic, anchovies, olive oil and butter. Translated literally as ‘hot bath, the dish is typically eaten during the autumn and winter months, served hot in a communally with raw, boiled or roasted vegetables.

She prepared Bagna Càuda in her electric skillet for family gatherings. As the butter melted into the olive oil, the garlic would soften and the warm pool would eventually dissolve the anchovies and transform into a heady, salty and nutty sauce of umami goodness. The aroma was as unique to me as it was captivating. I knew I was smelling ‘the Old World’ before I even knew what that phrase meant.

Continue reading “Whole Roasted Cauliflower Bagna Cauda-Style” »

Vegan Pesto with Avocado & Kale

Vegan Winter PestoPesto isn’t just for summer! Using avocado as the base, substituting greens for basil and nutritional yeast for parmesan cheese, this vegan recipe is flavorful, rich and can be enjoyed year-round. You won’t miss the cheese. Your body will love this heart-healthy, low-glycemic and fiber-rich ways to dress pasta.  Continue reading “Vegan Pesto with Avocado & Kale” »

Juicing Versus Blending. The Plot Thickens….

Juicing Versus BlendingIn “Juicing Removes More Than Just Fiber”, Dr. Michael Greger throws a wrench into the ongoing ‘Juicing versus Blending’ debate. While, both can contribute to a healthy lifestyle, research is leaning towards blending as the victor. One of the main arguments against juicing is the fact that extracting juice from fruits and vegetables removes the plant fiber in the process. Adding weight to this argument, research shows that plant fiber is even more important than the well-established benefits to gastrointestinal health as well as managing blood sugar, weight and cholesterol. Fiber, it turns out, is a polyphenol carrier. Continue reading “Juicing Versus Blending. The Plot Thickens….” »

Teecchino: Life Without Coffee

Teeccino Coffee Substitute

Coffee. Love it. But, taking a break is not a big deal. However, flash back 10 years or so, and that was not the case. A Seattle native, I had developed a healthy habit with the roasted beans. It is not a coincidence Starbucks started in Seattle. Soundgarden fan or not, listen to ‘Black Hole Sun.’ You will then understand the need for comfort and relief from the pervasively dark, gray and damp days of the 47th latitude. Continue reading “Teecchino: Life Without Coffee” »

Curried Cauliflower Soup

Curried Cauliflower SoupShe had me at ‘vegetables’. The setting was the Q & A session following the opening of the 2014 International Food Blogger’s Conference in Seattle. An attendee asked the keynote speakers, James Beard Award-Winning authors, Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg what they thought would be the hottest new trend in food. In the spirit of ‘everything old is new again’, Karen declared simply, ‘vegetables!’ She then went on to discuss her latest book ‘The Vegetarian Flavor Bible’.

I was already a fan of their previous book, “The Flavor Bible,” a book which could not be named more appropriately. It is not a cookbook. There are no recipes. Rather, it is an invaluable compendium of alphabetical listings of foods that are paired together. Perfect for free-form cooks, those of us who like guides more than recipes.

After purchasing it, the book quickly became indispensable. It was like an old friend I could ask for ideas when pondering how to made a dish more distinct, or even where to begin. So, when I saw the dynamic duo in the hotel lobby during a conference break, I made a bee-line to them. I stood a bit star-struck among a small group chatting with them. As they had recently become vegetarians, my work as a nutritionist gave us common ground for an albeit short, but rewarding conversation. I then trailed off from the group satisfied.

Fast forward two months and three thousand miles away to New York City. I discover that Barns & Noble was hosting a “Flavor Bible” book signing with Karen and Andrew moderating a panel of chefs discussing vegetarian cuisine. When I approached them to get my book signed, imagine my surprise, shock really, that they remembered me! These two are really something special. They were so kind and sincere to all the panelists, so grateful for the leadership they had shown in vegetarian cuisine and such gratitude to their supporters. My only regret about the event is never downloading my book signing photo with them off their website! I can’t find it now.

Back home with my “Flavor Bible(s)”, the original and the vegetarian version, I set to work improv-style in the kitchen. The result is this simple curried cauliflower soup recipe. My intention was to create something very flavorful and nutritious, with enough fat and protein to make it somewhat hearty. Want to take the comfort food factor up a notch? Simply add  extra cashew cream. You can also add more garbanzo beans for more protein and heartiness.

I have tried roasting the cauliflower first. But, I didn’t notice enough difference to merit the effort. But, it simply might be that any subtle flavor doesn’t really stand up to the garam masala, a great addition if you like your curry a little on the hot side. Omit it if you don’t.

To get the most health benefits from this soup, use fresh cauliflower, not frozen. Chop the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces. Then, let sit for about 40 minutes before cooking, one of the strategies outlined in a prior post about gaining the benefits of raw crucifers even when cooked. This recipe also supports improved bioavailaiblity of the curcumin in the curry powder, as detailed in another prior post.

CURRIED CAULIFLOWER SOUP

Serves 6-8.

Curried Cauliflower Soup Ingredients

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup almond or rice milk
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala (optional)
  • 1 medium head cauliflower (or one 16 ounce bag, frozen)
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups (1 15 oz can) organic coconut milk
  • 1 cup cooked garbanzo beans
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 cup chickpea croutons for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cover raw cashews with filtered water and let sit refrigerated for at least 45 minutes. Then, drain off the water, add the almond or rice milk and blend until smooth.

  2. Heat the coconut in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and salt. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Then add the curry powder and garam masala (if using) and stir to cover the onions and garlic thoroughly.

  3. Add the chopped cauliflower, then cover with the broth and bring to a simmer. Let cook until the cauliflower is very tender, about 10 minutes.

  4. Remove from the heat and add the garbanzo beans and coconut milk.

  5. Use an immersion blender to purée the soup, or process in blender in batches.

  6. Stir in the lime juice, adjust salt, if needed, and serve warm topped with chickpea croutons.

Mustard Seed Vinaigrette & How to Make Sulforaphane!

Make Your Own Sulfurophane!As discussed in an earlier post, there are three strategies to get the benefits of raw crucifers when cooked. This supporting recipe is not just a recipe for a mustard vinaigrette. When used to dress a salad containing cooked crucifers or to top cooked crucifers, it is a recipe for the wonder compound, sulforaphane!

This vinaigrette recipe includes mustard seed powder, which provides a source of myrosinase. Remember, mustard greens are crucifers. So, the ground seeds are a potent source of the all important enzyme. Theoretically, whole mustard seeds should work as well. However, do not roast, toast or otherwise apply heat to the seeds or you will denature the enzymes, rendering the seeds just another ingredient. Further, you can adapt any dressing recipe to make it a sulforaphane-maker simply by adding some mustard seed powder. Following is a recipe I now keep on hand and drizzle a little over steamed broccoli or cabbage. I have tried it with apple cider vinegar, but prefer the version with balsamic vinegar.

MUSTARD SEED VINAIGRETTE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (or other vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon organic prepared mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8th teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons honey, ideally raw and organic
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a clean jar or small bowl, add the vinegar, garlic, prepared and powdered mustard and mix well.
  2. Slowly add the olive oil while either whisking or stirring rapidly with your fork. Or, if using a jar, shake vigorously, adding the oil in stages until emulsified.
  3. Adjust seasoning as needed.

Do you have a dressing with mustard seeds or powder you like to serve with cruciferous vegetables? Please share!

21-Day Cleanse: Go!

2015 Cleanse

 

Today was the start of my annual cleanse. After the holidays, vacation, followed by a sales meeting, my sinuses are not happy, allergies are acting up, my waist has expanded and my energy is a bit sub par. I’m more than ready to get back on track. This year, I have invited others to join me. Some will be joining me for the full 21 days. Others are joining for 10 days, which is perfect for a first time cleanse. Whether you are participating or just following along, just to check it out, here a few things to keep in mind. Continue reading “21-Day Cleanse: Go!” »

Benefits of Raw Cruciferous Vegetables -When Cooked!

CruficersWhat do raw broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, radishes arugula and bok choy have in common? They are all members of the cruciferous family of vegetables and are the produce aisle-equivalent of a wonder drug for protecting the brain, eye-sight, reducing free radicals, eliminating toxins and preventing cancer [1].

Unfortunately, most individual’s intake of cruciers is low and their intake of raw crucifers is even lower. Raw Brussel sprouts anyone? While cooked crucifers are nutrient-dense, providing fiber, vitamin C, calcium and more, the cooked versions lack Sulforophane. Sulforophane is a molecule within the isothiocyanate group of organosulfur compounds. It is the equivalent of a pharmaceutical drug’s main active ingredient and is most responsible for broccoli’s health benefits. Continue reading “Benefits of Raw Cruciferous Vegetables -When Cooked!” »

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Roasted Brussel SproutsWhen the farmer’s market has brussel sprout stalks, one is coming home with me. I can’t resist. There is something so novel and (literally) fresh about pruning the little cabbages from their stem. For an urbanite, it is close as we get to the ‘harvesting’ concept. That is, unless you are one of those people who have actually attempted and succeeded with urban gardening. That’s not me.  Brussel Sprout Trunk

A compilation of many, this recipe is the Little Black Dress equivalent of Brussel sprouts recipes. It is classic and simple; a reliable ‘go-to’ recipe for weekdays or special events, which can not only be made in advance and reheat well, but can be dressed up in countless ways. Try tossing in carmelized onions, roasted and chopped nuts, bacon, soaked current, chopped dried cherries or (of course) cheese to the roasted sprouts. You just might create another Brussel sprout convert with your creativity. And little will they know that with Brussel sprout’s glucosinolates and isothiocyanates, they are reducing cancer risk through with every delicious bite.

According to Rebecca Wood, author of The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia, Brussel sprouts become sweet and tender after a frost. So keep growing region in mind when purchasing. Most Brussel sprouts come from California’s mild coastal area. Deborah Madison, in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, recommends stronger flavors for sprouts harvested without a frost, such as mustard, capers, and lemon. For the most flavor in Brussel sprouts from any region, select small sprouts with few yellow leaves. For best results, cut thesprouts in half. With larger sprouts, cut into quarters to obtain bite-sized pieces. They should all be cut about the same size to ensure even cooking.

Prepped Brussel Sprouts

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 trunk prepped (or 1 1/2 pounds) Brussel sprouts
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (1 tablespoon reserved for after roasting)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (or fire cider or apple cider vinegar)
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons raw honey

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 425° F degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl, toss brussels sprouts with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, sea salt and pepper. Transfer the brussels sprouts to the baking sheet.
  4. Roast the sprouts, stirring half-way through for even browning, until tender and caramelized, about 20 minutes.
  5. Return roasted brussels sprouts back in the bowl. Combine remaining tablespoon olive oil, vinegar and honey together and pour the mixture over the sprouts, tossing to coat evenly. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Gluten-Free Pie Crust

Gluten Free Pie CrustI was never a pie baker. Why bother when your mother and sister-in-law are masters of the art? But, when spending the holidays away from the family, the idea of baking my own gluten-free pie crust seemed a bit daunting, risky, and downright uninspiring.

This gluten-free pastry crust recipe from Marth Rose Shulman changed my mind and made a pie baker out of me. Although I must admit that I do not own a rolling-pin. A wine bottle works just fine. This crust is flakey, slightly nutty and pretty much fail-proof. I love the recipe for these reasons: Continue reading “Gluten-Free Pie Crust” »