SalmonBerry

Posts Tagged ‘mint’

Super Green Silent Quinoa Salad

In Mindfulness, Nutrition, Recipe on June 7, 2015 at 3:04 pm
green quinoa salad

Green Quinoa Salad

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” ~W.B. Yeats

Silence is golden. And not just at the movie theater. I am speaking about intentional silence. Not silence because you live alone and didn’t leave the house all weekend. I tried being purposefully silent.

For 27 hours and 45 minutes, I went entirely without electronic and verbal communication.

In my own home, on an ordinary weekend, I spontaneously designed a mini, silence retreat. Since I had attended longer, silence retreats with groups at Zen Buddhist centers in the mountains outside LA and ashrams in India, I thought to myself – I’ve got this, it’s only one day – failing to take into account how supportive it is, both energetically and physically, to attend an organized retreat with others. Everything is set up for your success. The environment and everyone in it is dragging you along to finish line with their earnest intentions of spiritual salvation.

So why bother trying this on my own? Why would I or anyone want to do this? Aren’t there many more “fun” things one could be doing with their weekend? Well, cost and convenience, for one. But, also, because I really needed it. I was actually craving it. And I found it to be an accessible undertaking all on my own.

sound of silence

The sound of silence…

At organized silence retreats, journaling and reading are strongly discouraged. You are instructed not to give your mind anything to hold on to or work with. Without distractions your mind goes ballistic and roves wildly and aggressively from topic to topic. The resistance hits a fever pitch within the first 24 hours and right when you’ve decided to sneak out of your bunk in the middle of the night and haul ass home so you can at least talk – or something – everything goes quiet and you are flooded with joy as well as relief.

Since this at-home silence retreat was only approximately 24 hours, I allowed myself the luxury of cooking as a distraction. This recipe is perfect for focusing your attention at the task at hand rather than letting your mind wander into the future or fantasy (those might be the same thing!). The making of the herb paste is tedious (really tedious) but only if you are focused on finishing. If you merely focus on individually separating each leaf from each stem, one leaf at a time, it becomes very meditative and quite Zen. Cooking in a gentle and mindful manner while being conscious of your thoughts leads to super duper delicious food.

Ingredients:

2 cups quinoa

2 onions, peeled and very thinly sliced into rings
2 TBSP (I like more) olive oil
1/2 – 1 tsp ground cumin (or toast and grind your own seeds)

Herb paste
1/2 cup parsley
2 cups cilantro
1/2 cup dill
1/4 cup tarragon
1/4 cups mint, fresh
3 TBSP olive oil (try citrus-infused olive oils)

1 cup shelled pistachios (or sub tamari toasted pepitas)

3 cups baby arugula (1 box works great)

Cook quinoa in 2 cups of water in a rice cooker or on the stove-top until all water is absorbed. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes after cooking and then fluff with a fork.

herbs

Herbs for green paste: dill, cilantro, tarragon, mint, parsley

Use an immersion blender to process de-stemmed herbs and oil until very smooth. Can be made up to 2 days ahead of time. I recommend making a large batch and freezing for future use. You can stir this paste into almost anything to add tons of flavor. And, yes, the herb paste is very tedious to make. So (if you aren’t on a homegrown silence retreat) put on some music, get really zen, maybe have a glass of wine, and hyper-focus on separating tiny leaves from their stems.

It can be a good idea to do this part the night before. Store the de-stemmed herbs between damp paper towels in plastic baggies. Herb paste can be stirred into greek yogurt as a topping for grilled fish or whipped into hummus or spread on sandwiches.

Meanwhile, in a small frying pan, heat oil and add cumin. Add onions and sauté over medium heat until soft and golden brown.

Add the herb paste to the fluffed quinoa and use fork to thoroughly combine. Add the hot onions to the arugula and toss well. Then add green quinoa and mix well. Lastly, top with pepitas or pistachios. Serve immediately or chilled.

Advertisements

Moroccan Carrot & Garbanzo Bean Salad

In Nutrition, Recipe on May 7, 2015 at 10:03 pm

“Life is a long preparation for something that never happens.” ~William Butler Yeats

peeled carrots

Carrots ready for the mandolin

Scientific inquiry has finally figured out why we consume sugar in response to stress. Apparently sugar reduces levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. For the general public, this big reveal was kind of a “so what?” or “duh!” moment. Any super stressed-out human being has known that they feel soothed after eating sugar. However, scientists and nutritionists are excited because perhaps understanding metabolic pathways sensitive to sugar will lead to answers for treating stress-related conditions.

moroccan salad

Carrots, mint, dried fruit.

It seems the human condition is forever chasing the solution to reducing stress levels because, well, stress will kill you (recommended reading: Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers). And, unfortunately, so will our most easily abused response to stress, sugar. When you are listening to Pink Floyd on a gloomy May Gray day (as I will admit to now), the inclination is to reach for something comforting. I recommend backing away from the dessert items (even if it is Chia Pudding) and embracing soothing sugars in the form of complex carbohydrates and fiber such as a salad of beans, root veggies, and dried fruit.

Yes, I am being serious. This approach is just as effective without the dreaded sugar hangover along with guilt. Luckily, this comfort food salad gets better with time so make a batch, store in the fridge and break it out for emergencies. All the sweet carbs – garbanzo beans, dried apricots & plums, and carrots – break down getting all mushy and marinated in the cumin, oil, lemon juice, and honey – yum!

Serve tossed with arugula and chopped almonds as a salad or layer it on a romaine leaf (a ala Salmonberry Spread) with avocado and more cayenne. Drink hot mint tea while consuming. Perfection. Here it is…

Dressing: 1 TBSP cumin seeds

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 TBSP fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

cumin and oil

Toasted and ground cumin seeds with olive oil.

Salad: 2 cups carrots, sliced whisper thin on a mandolin (shredded works too)

2 cups cooked garbanzo beans (or one 15- ounce can, drained and rinsed)

1/3 cup dried plums, chopped

1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped

1/3 cup fresh mint, torn or chopped

To make the dressing, first toast the cumin seeds in a dry skillet until fragrant and lightly browned, a minute or two. Let cool, and grind to a powder with a mortar and pestle. Yes, this is more work but totally worth it.

In a bowl or jar, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, honey, ground cumin, salt, and cayenne pepper. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the carrots, garbanzo beans, dried fruit, mint. Gently toss with dressing until everything is evenly coated and refrigerate. Store for up to 3 days in the fridge.

moroccan carrot salad

Serve on a romaine leaf topped with avocado and cayenne.

Spring Pea Soup with Mint & Coconut

In Recipe on February 25, 2015 at 5:25 am

mint pea soup

This soup is ridiculously easy and so delicious you’ll be caught moaning when you eat it. And, excepting the mint, most ingredients you already have on hand making this a very spontaneous soup.

1 TBSP coconut oil
1 onion
2-5 cloves garlic
2 cups shelled fresh peas or 16oz bag frozen peas (thawed)
1 tsp sea salt
10 sprigs fresh mint
1.5 cups vegetable broth
1.5 cups full-fat coconut milk

mint pea soup ingredientsCoarsely chop the onion and smash the garlic cloves with the back of your knife.

Heat coconut oil over medium-low heat. Add onions and garlic and slowly cook until golden and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Take your time with this step – it adds a depth of flavor. The rest of this recipe is cinch and you’ll be done with the soup in no time at all.

Add the vegetable broth, peas, salt, mint and coconut milk and bring to a bare simmer. Turn off the heat. Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. Add extra veggie broth, if desired.

Garnish with fresh ground pepper, cayenne, curry powder, or nothing at all.

Spicy Garbanzo & Barley Soup

In Nutrition, Recipe on December 24, 2014 at 7:36 pm

“It’ll destroy you if you try to make it mean anything to anyone other than yourself.” ~Henry Rollins

my eye

My eye after chopping onions for this soup

Eating Junior Mints (a leftover movie theater purchase) while taste-testing a spicy soup recipe does not mix well. Other things that do not mix well: my eyeballs with freshly chopped onions, soup-eating in sunny, 73 degrees F weather or milk with spaghetti (why do parents do that to kids?).

Tori Amos & Sarah McLachlan mix well together and used to accompany me on road trips to Ventura County during my previous life as an environmental consultant. Three hours of singing at the top of your lungs while cruising the empty PCH at 530am is cathartic. Singing at the top of your lungs while recipe-testing is also cathartic so I put both of those women on for good juju while exploring this Tunisian-inspired soup.

moroccan spices

Homemade harissa paste: water and olive oil added to chili flakes, garlic, parsley, caraway, and coriander.

This recipe is adapted from 101cookbooks.com who further adapted it from Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi, which according to my extensive Google research (not really), appears to be inspired by a common Tunisian breakfast soup involving garbanzo beans in a thin garlic and cumin broth served over stale crusty bread pieces and topped with, potentially, one or all of the following: egg, olive oil, harissa, capers, tuna, lemon, olives, more cumin, etc. It sounds amazing and inspired me to eat this soup again in the morning with a raw egg poached right into the broth. A smell a business idea for a food truck…that’s another topic…

The great thing about this soup is it uses only water as the base instead of a vegetable or meat broth. This allows all the fragrant North African spices and delicate flavors of the carrot and celery to really stand out.

Garbanzo Bean Broth:

garbanzo-barley soup ingredients

The thin, water-based broth perfectly highlights the spices and veggies that provide the base for this delicious soup.

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 small onions, diced

4 – 8 cloves garlic, depending on how much you love garlic, crushed

3 large carrots, peeled and diced

4 – 6 celery stalks, diced

2 tablespoons harissa paste

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 1/2 teaspoon whole caraway seeds

2 cans, drained, garbanzo beans

6-8 cups water

Fine grain salt and/or black pepper, to taste

Grain to Serve it Over:

barley or farro

Is it barley or is it farro?

1 cup barley or farro (which did I have on hand?)

3 cups water or vegetable broth

Creamy, Herby Feta Paste:

3 1/2 oz feta, broken into large chunks

1/4 cup crème fraîche (or sour cream)

1 cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped or just ripped from stem

1/2 cup mint leaves

1/8 teaspoon fine grain salt

*for a non-dairy version, add herbs to this cashew cream recipe

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring, until translucent. Add the garlic, carrots, and celery and continue cooking for another 5- 10 minutes. Add the harissa, cumin, coriander, and caraway seeds and cook for a another 5 minutes, stirring well, until fragrant. Add garbanzo beans and water into the vegetable mixture along with salt and plenty of black pepper. Bring to a boil and then simmer gently for 10 minutes.

barley garbanzo soup bowl

Hydrating and Hearty

Meanwhile, rinse the barley, add to a small saucepan, and cover with 3 cups cold water (or veggie broth for more flavor). Bring to a boil and simmer until most of the liquid is gone or barley is soft.

To make the feta paste, put the feta, crème fraîche, cilantro, mint, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a small food processor or hand blender until a smooth, creamy paste forms. Keep in the fridge until needed.

Serve by adding cooked barley to the bowl and spooning soup over grains and topping with a dollop of creamed/herbed feta paste. Garnish with cilantro leaves.

Watermelon-Jalapeño Gazpacho

In Nutrition, Recipe on September 6, 2013 at 12:12 am

watermelon gazpacho ingredientsThis sweet & spicy soup is nicely layered and nuanced with ingredients such as honey & ginger and mint & cucumber. I like savory, tomato-based, gazpachos but they also tend to be a bit acidic and dense. Using a lightly-sweet fruit as the main ingredient is so refreshing and hydrating during a heat wave. At my son’s request we planted mini, sugar watermelons in our garden along side the cucumbers. I fantasized about indulging in watermelon/cucumber recipes and juices all summer long. But, alas, we had very little sun this summer. The watermelon vine went rogue choking out the cucumber and producing very little fruit (we are still waiting for them to ripen). It’s finally hot and sunny so the weather is perfect for a sweet & spicy cold soup. Sadly, NONE of the ingredients came from my garden, but it’s delicious regardless.

I prefer to do as little chopping as possible, especially on a hot day, so I recommend using a food processor first and then transferring to a blender when you add the last ingredient, the watermelon. Or use a high-speed blender, like a Vitamix, for everything.

watermelon gazapachoTo begin: Throw all ingredients EXCEPT WATERMELON into food processor or high speed blender and puree until everything is itty-bitty shreds. Next: Add watermelon (if not using a Vitamix, this is the time to switch from processor to blender or your soup will be all over the counter – I’ve done this many times!) and pulse a few times. I like the watermelon to be slightly chunkier than the other ingredients for a nice texture contrast.

Taste it to see if it needs an adjustment but I don’t recommend adding more ginger and jalapeño. This soup gets yummier and spicier over time! Chill for at least an hour to allow the flavors to marry.

Ingredients (4-6 servings):

8 cups watermelon, or about 1/2 of a mini watermelon

1 cucumber, peeled and roughly chopped into big chunks

1 red bell peppers, big chunks

1 small onion, quartered

1/2 -1 small jalapeño pepper, w/ or w/out seeds depending on your ability to take the heat!

1/4 cup lemon, juiced

1 TBSP olive oil

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves

1 piece of fresh ginger, about thumb-sized

1-2 TBSP  honey

Cool, Summer-version of Pad Thai

In Nutrition, Recipe on May 30, 2013 at 4:31 am

pad thai kelp noodlesThis cold, kelp noodle salad has a terrible name. I wanted to call it “No-cook, No Peanut Pad Thai” but that was pretty lame too. The good news is, this recipe requires NO cooking or processing only soaking, chopping, and whisking. I used an alternative to the ubiquitous peanut butter to make it accessible to everyone and change up the flavor a bit. The whole point of developing this recipe was to find a use for kelp noodles other than in soups. I have been struggling with a decent avocado sauce and now feel vindicated that I’ve finally put kelp noodles to good use with this Pad Thai-inspired sauce. Insanely low-cal kelp noodles pair perfectly with high-calorie nut-based sauces. I’m not a calorie-counter but it’s just common sense not to overload your palate or belly with a cocktail of high-calorie items…let’s keep it all in balance, people.

kelp noodles

No caption necessary…the bag says it all.

Kelp noodles are practically calorie-free (<10 calories per serving), gluten-free, and raw. Just soak in water with an acid (citrus, vinegar) and they remind one of glass noodles. Kelp noodles are made from brown seaweed, sodium alginate (a seaweed-derived salt therefore high in iodine), and water. Clear in color and quite bland, they are al-dente-like crunchy until soaked. Kelp noodles are low in fiber so if you are using them in place of whole grain noodles, up the veggie content of your recipe for balanced blood sugar levels.

This recipe is vegan and I would love to call it ‘raw’ because it’s very, very close; however, for bestowing the raw title you must drop the tofu, sub agave or raw honey (but then it wouldn’t be vegan…so many rules!) for the maple syrup, and the canned coconut milk is suspect (I believe there are raw versions of coconut milk available). Anyway, if you are a raw foodie, I’m sure you are aware of the appropriate substitutions. If you are not, carry on…

pad thai kelp noodles ingredients2

Tofu, red pepper, lime, and mint.

Ingredients:

1 bag kelp noodles, soaked overnight in water and juice of 1 lime

8oz tofu, extra firm, drained, squeezed, and cubed

1 red pepper, diced

1 cup shredded/grated carrot

Handful of bean sprouts

(Experiment with the veggies: sliced snow peas, shredded cabbage, grated beets, etc.)

Pad Thai Sauce (enough for 2 batches of noodles & veggies):

pad thai kelp noodles ingredients

Kelp noodles, ground/crushed red pepper, tahini, shredded carrot, and ginger root.

1/4 cup tahini

1/4 cup almond butter

1/4 cup canned coconut milk, light

3 TBSP tamari, low sodium

3 TBSP maple syrup (agave or raw honey)

1-2 TBSP fresh mint, chopped

1 tsp crushed red pepper or cayenne

1 lime, juiced

1 tsp crushed garlic

1 tsp grated ginger

Place drained kelp noodles, tofu, and veggies in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the rest of the ingredients. Combine 1/2 of the sauce into bowl of noodles, tofu, and veggies. Mix well and refrigerate for 1-3 hours. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds when ready to serve. Cool, creamy, and layered with flavors and textures…yum!

Apple-Mint Bean & Grain Salad

In Nutrition, Recipe on May 21, 2013 at 6:19 am
bean & farro salad ingredients

Salad ingredients sans dressing.

I’m kind of on a pink kick these days. I find myself drawn to pink food in pretty jars: pink Himalayan salt, raspberry jam, cactus fruit kombucha. This Sunday, at the La Jolla Open Aire Market, my pink preference seemed to migrate to produce as I chose watermelon radishes and pink lady apples for this recipe.

salt and lemon

Pink Himalayan salt and Meyers lemons.

This delicious salad was served to me while at a friend’s house for dinner otherwise it’s rare for me to attempt  a recipe with this many ingredients. I really like to keep things simple when it comes to healthy eating and I don’t think more is better. This is exactly the kind of recipe I would have skipped while searching for a new idea. Too many ingredients, too many instructions. But…it’s really not so bad and the outcome is fantastic! Do not become overwhelmed by the long list of ingredients in this salad. Besides the prep for radishes and apples, it is actually quite fast and the dressing gets quickly processed – super easy! I used a filet knife when trying to ‘paper thin’ those radishes and almost sliced the tip of my middle finger off!

Crisp, soft, chewy, creamy, bitter, refreshing, filling – the beautiful texture and flavors in this irresistible salad make for a well-balanced meal complete with healthy, whole-grain carbs, plant-based proteins, and ample fat for satiety.

Here is the original recipe which uses cilantro and Greek yogurt instead of my substitution of mint and coconut kefir. Also, avocado doesn’t hold up well overnight and, since this salad just gets better over time, I decided to leave it out.

watermelon radishes

Watermelon radishes.

1 cup pearled farro (or short-grain brown rice, if gluten-free)

1 cup black beans

1 cup cannellini beans

5-6 radishes, sliced paper thin (good luck), then half-mooned

1/2 apple, sliced into matchsticks (the thinner the better), then halved

Salt & Pepper

1/2 Meyers lemon, juiced

Dressing:

bean & farro salad w kale

Served on a bed of marinated kale.

3 TBSP rice vinegar

1/2 Meyers lemon, juiced

1/2 apple, cored

3 TBSP olive oil

Handful of mint

1/4 of a shallot

Pinch of sea salt & fresh-ground black pepper

2 TBSP coconut kefir

Place 1 cup farro and 2.5 cups water in rice cooker. Press ‘cook’ button (I love rice cookers!). Or pot-boil with 3 cups water for about 15-20 mins and drain excess water when done. Drain and rinse beans, if using canned beans. Place beans in large bowl with salt & pepper. Thinly slice apples and radishes. Add radishes to bowl with beans. Place apples in separate bowl with lemon juice. When farro is done, cool in refrigerator. In the meantime, make the dressing by placing all ingredients in the food processor. When farro is cooled, add to large bowl of beans and radishes. Add in the sliced apples, remaining mint leaves, and dressing. Mix well.

Enjoy on a bed of kale (marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, and salt) or wrapped in a romaine leaf or just as it is.

Nutritional Info: 8oz (~1 cup) serving = 288 kcals, 8g fat, 40g total carbs (8g fiber), 8g protein. With 60% carbs, 30% fats, and 10% protein, I think this salad is perfectly balanced.