Parmesan Chickpea Croutons for Salads or Snacks

Parmesan Chickpea CroutonsParmesan Chickpea Croutons

Parmesan chickpea croutons are one of my favorite salad toppings. They add flavor, texture and protein to a salad, and bonus—they’re also gluten-free!  The croutons can be made a day in advance and, once completely cooled, stored in an airtight container. If using canned chickpeas, look for cans with BPA-free lining. Either way, be sure to make plenty. They make for an addictive snack, especially hot out of the oven! For vegans, simply skip the parmesan. 

Tip: For more of a parmesan ‘crisp’ with cracker-like shards of parmesan, freely add parmesan so that it covers the spaces in the pan between the croutons and let it melt!

Ingredients:

  • 15 oz can or two cups cooked chickpeas, well-drained and patted dry
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or grape seed oil
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Optional: black pepper to taste
  • Garlic, onion powder (or other seasonings of your choice) to taste
  • Optional: 1/2 cup grated parmesan

Parmesan Chickpea Crouton Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  3. When the oil is hot, add the chickpeas and cook.
  4. Sprinkle seasoning evenly over chickpeas.
  5. Continue to cook, shaking the pan frequently, until the chickpeas are lightly roasted and slightly browned.
  6. Sprinkle the parmesan over the chickpeas and place pan in the oven and cook for another 35 minutes, for a total of about 1 hour total cooking time. Enjoy!

Note: If chickpeas are not crisp after an hour, lower the heat to 250°F and let them dry out as long as needed. And if you won’t be around to monitor them, simply turn off the oven when they are close to desired crispness and let them continue drying in the residual heat of the oven.

Roasted Chickpeas 1

 Roasted Chickpea CroutonsParmesan Chickpea CroutonsParmesan Chickpea Croutons for Grilled Ceasar Salad

How to Make Mushroom Bacon

Mushroom BaconWe all know that ‘mushroom bacon’ is not really bacon. I’m talking about “bacon”. And while I get annoyed with food marketed as something else (tofurky), nothing communicates quite like a good metaphor in air quotes. So, while I’m not going to fool the pork lovers out there, using the ‘B’ word is aptly descriptive. It infers what you’re going to get; an earthy, dense bite of savory, slightly salty immune-boosting goodness. 

No, I won’t bash legit bacon. I have nephews who would never forgive me if I did. But, it’s good to know that these umami bombs are totally unprocessed. And even more important, they are free from the cancer-causing nitrates added to many processed meats.    Continue reading

Honey Dijon Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Brussel Sprouts When the farmer’s market has Brussels sprouts on the stalk, one is coming home with me and roasted Brussels sprouts are suddenly on the menu. 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.  Brussels Sprouts Trunk

 

According to Rebecca Wood, author of The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia, Brussels 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 Brussels sprouts from any region, select small sprouts with few yellow leaves. For best results, cut the sprouts in half or into quarters for bite-size pieces. They should all be cut about the same size for even cooking.

Prepped Brussel Sprouts

HONEY DIJON ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS

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. It has just a hint of sweetness. So, you may want to increase the sweetener for some palates.

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 convert a skeptic with your creativity. And little will they know that with Brussels sprout’s glucosinolates and isothiocyanates, they are reducing cancer risk through with every delicious bite.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 trunk prepped (or 1 1/2 pounds) Brussels sprouts
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (1 tablespoon reserved for after roasting)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8th teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (or fire cider or apple cider vinegar)
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons raw honey (or maple syrup)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400° 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 15-20 minutes, depending on their size.
  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.

Roasted Brussel Sprout Dish

Revised 10.22.16. Originally published 12.24.14.

Antioxidant-Rich, Healthy Cranberry Compote

Maine LR-4301

This antioxidant-rich and healthy cranberry compote deserves a place at the table year-round. Because cranberries bring a lot more to the table than just tradition and a dash of ruby-red. That favorite holiday condiment is actually a potent anti-microbial. In fact, cranberries could help keep you feeling festive all year-round.

Originally, the protective effect of cranberries was attributed to their acidity. This has long since been disproved. We now know that cranberry’s anti-microbial properties are due its high levels of a chemical compound called proanthocyanidins (PACs).

In plants, PACs provide protection against pathogens and predators. In humans, a unique structure of the PACs in cranberries essentially renders whatever bacteria it comes in contact with a non-stick surface. So, cranberry’s PACs help prevent an overall bacterial invasion that can result in an outright infection. If bacteria can’t stick to our cell walls —it can’t infect. And, if it does stick, it will have less chance of spreading.

Research shows that the PACs in cranberries inhibit bacteria (especially E. coli) from sticking to bladder walls, reducing urinary tract infections and may help prevent ulcers by suppressing H. Pylori infections. They may also prevent cavities by inhibiting unhealthy oral bacteria. This same non-stick ability may also lower the risk of atherosclerosis by inhibiting platelet aggregation and adhesion and by reducing cholesterol.  Clearly, cranberries have a place on the table the other ten months of the year!

HEALTHY CRANBERRY COMPOTE

Serves: 8
Preparation Time: 25 minutes

This quick, easy and healthy cranberry compote recipe uses fresh cranberries, rather than canned. Citrus, apple, pomegranate and cinnamon create a much more interesting and healthful flavor profile than a bunch of sugar ever could. This sauce is only slightly sweet, providing a nice contrast to the overall richness of holiday dinners.

If you don’t care for (or don’t have) pineapple, leave it out. However, you may want to adjust the sweetener. The arrowroot thickens the sauce, but is also optional as the pectin from apples acts as a thickener as well. Alternatively, thicken the sauce by either adding in a few tablespoons of chia seeds before cooking or cook it longer to reduce the liquid further.
Get creative in how you use this sauce. Surprisingly versatile, it’s not just for turkey! Try it with other savory items, such as sweet potatoes, as a topping on pancakes or even as a condiment for sweet dishes.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 12 ounce bags of fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pineapple chunks (fresh or frozen)
  • Juice and zest (reserved) of 2 organic oranges
  • 2 organic red apples, cored and coarsely chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar (or raw honey) or to taste
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup of filtered water
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot (optional)
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Place cranberries, pineapple, apples, cinnamon stick in a sauce pan.
  2. Combine the water and arrowroot, blending well to make a slurry, then add to the cranberry mixture.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to medium heat.  Stir constantly until the cranberries start to burst (about 10-15 minutes) and the mixture is thick and smooth.
  4. Cool completely, adjust sweetener as needed, then mix in the pomegranate seeds.
  5. Garnish with orange zest before serving.

REFERENCES:

Zhang L1, Ma JPan KGo VLChen JYou WC. Efficacy of cranberry juice on Helicobacter pylori infection: a double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trial. Helicobacter. 2005 Apr;10(2):139-45.

Concentrations of Proanthocyanidins in Common Foods and Estimations of Normal ConsumptionJ. Nutr. March 1, 2004 vol. 134 no. 3 613-617

Ofek I, Goldhar J, Sharon N. Anti-Escherichia coli adhesion activity of cranberry and blueberry juices. Adv Exp Med Biol. 1996;408:179-83. Review.

Woods, Rebecca. The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York: Penguin Books, 2010.

Carter, Jean. Food Your Miracle Medicine. New York: Harper Collins, 1993.

 Do you enjoy cranberries outside of the holidays? If so, please comment below and share!

3 Reasons to Love Sunchokes

Jerusalem ArtichokesSunchokes might not be on your radar —but for both culinary and health reasons, you may want to check out these tubers! They look a bit like ginger and come in a variety of sizes, shapes and even different colors, depending upon the soil in which they were grown. They are generally smooth, but can be very knobby, as in the heirloom variety. Not exactly the star of the farmers’ market, they are in the shadow of the more colorful fall and winter vegetables. But, here are three reasons you’ll want to bring them home. Skip the squash. It’s not going anywhere!

THREE REASONS TO TRY SUNCHOKES

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Pumpkin Curry Soup

Pumpkin Curry Soup The most festive and celebrated of gourds, pumpkins, enjoy a near celebrity-status in our apartment. By late September, the scouting begins, first for prospective jack-o-lanterns, then centerpieces and window adornments. Sadly, by early November, the carved ones have been decommissioned and the uncarved ones start giving hints that our time together is coming to a close. Their skin, once bright orange, leathery and taut, begins to dull and wrinkle. Their bodies soften, losing their denseness and familiar “thump” when tapped. Clearly, none of them will make it to Thanksgiving. Soup must be made. Continue reading

Raw Avocado Green Soup

 

Blended Green Soup

I’ve never, not once, considered ordering a cold soup off a menu, much less making one at home. In a word, they seemed B-o-r-i-n-g. Note the capital ‘B’? How could a cold soup possibly be satisfying? Gazpacho gets a pass once a year. Otherwise, not part of my cooking / dining repertoire. Next! Continue reading

Roasted Broccoli with Garlic Cashew Sauce

Roasted Broccoli

When I’m near Union Square and want a quick bite, I think Maoz. This international chain  is known for fast and affordable vegetarian mediterranean food, especially its signature falafel (gluten-free!) and flavorful sauces. But, it’s the roasted broccoli I save room for as I fill my self-serve bowl, then those the lid -with florets bulging at the edges. Yep. I was ‘that customer’. That is, until I was told “the broccoli won’t be ready for a few minutes”.  Then, I saw an employee dump broccoli into the serving container from a large basket. It was one of those tell-tale baskets which screams ‘deep-fryer’. Technically, according to the employee, it was ‘flash-fried’. Continue reading

Chipotle Coleslaw

Chipotle Coleslaw

This dish is all about the creamy chipotle avocado dressing. Combine silky avocado, zesty lemon and the smoky kick of chipotle pepper. You won’t miss the mayo!

Customize the vegetable and fruit blend to make it your own. Savoy cabbage is particularly good for slaw salads. Savoy cabbage is more tender and less bitter than the green or red cabbage typically used for coleslaw. As such, there’s no need to salt it before serving it uncooked. Dice, grate, slice…it really doesn’t matter much. But, keep the produce sections thin to ease even dressing coverage. Customize the volume as you like. But, who doesn’t like having a salad ready to go in the fridge? Chop now and be veggie-ready for days!

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Quinoa & Black Bean Confetti Salad

Quinoa Black Bean SaladIt’s not easy to love a minimum wage job at a mall. But, I loved my part-time job at Pasta & Co. In the 80’s, fresh pasta was a retail novelty. While Pasta & Co was one of Seattle’s first retailers to offer fresh pasta, it was their specialty sauces and prepared foods which captured my imagination. The owner, Marcella Rosene put a creative twist on everything in that store, from selecting unique and defining recipe ingredients, such as black sesame oil to her beautifully hand scripted product labels. In her stores, something as simple as croutons were memorable. Pasta & Co. The Cookbook, the first cookbook I ever bought myself, is still with me today, dog-eared and splattered. The book is now out of print. But, I noticed a few new copies available on Amazon for $215! Continue reading