HOW TO :: Homemade Nut Milks

With health consciousness on the rise, more people are turning to dietary alternatives with the aim of avoiding allergens in their food. Why? Because many of these foods create internal inflammation of our tissues and joints and chronic inflammation can lead to disease and illness. homemade almond milkCommon food triggers are wheat, dairy, peanuts, soy, refined sugar. If you're following a paleo diet these and many more are on the no-no list. If you're doing a detox cleanse, you need not be as strict. Many things have easy, healthy substitutes - instead of white sugar, opt for raw local honey. Instead of peanut butter, try sunflower seed butter.

Dairy gets a little tricky because many of the substitutes have OTHER allergens and ingredients to steer clear from. Most shelf-stable nut milks contain carrageenan, "a gum extracted from certain species of red algae (also known as Irish moss) has thickening, gelling, and binding properties. It is used to stabilize emulsions in dairy products; to improve the quality of foods such as soups, salad dressings, sauces, and fruit drinks; and to give a creamy thick texture to milk products," states Prescription for Dietary Wellness: Using Foods to Heal by Phyllis Balch.

For this reason, I like to make my own nut milks at home. The process is easy and the results are great, as long as you're not looking for a thick emulsified product that mimics the consistency of cream. Not going to happen, no matter what 'they' say! Will it be close? Most def, but for anyone just making the change or those who are not vehemently committed to eating healthy (and therefore willing to overlook small things like a change in consistency), there will likely be an acclimation period.

To make homemade nut milk, seeds are first soaked. This not only helps to soften the nut meat, it activates sprouting in the 'seed'. This process makes the vitamin content of nuts more available to us and also strips the seed of their enzyme inhibitors. These inhibitors allow seeds to remain dormant until ready to grow, but are considered difficult to digest. Once seeds are exposed to moisture, the enzymes are neutralized. This is why it's important to soak and drain the nuts, before adding more water to puree them.

 

Pressed nut milkThe same process is similar for all nuts, if you want to experiment making nut milks at home. I'm posting my method, along with one from Prescription for Dietary Wellness. I would soak my nuts first, otherwise I liked the additions to that recipe and it's a great version for moms looking for a daily alternative for the little ones.

I have a different method from any recipe I've ever read for homemade nut milks in that I do a double soak. I feel like my how to method extracts a lot of the fats from the nut meat and adds to a richer milk, but that could be in my head. Try it both ways and see what you prefer.

Finally, if I'm using almond milk SOLELY for coffee or drinks, I roast the nuts for 10 minutes at 350 degrees, until fragrant. This lends the coffee a rich, nutty flavor that I LOVE. I don't miss 1/2 &  1/2 at all.

HOMEMADE ALMOND MILK

1 cup raw almonds, soaked over night or at least 8 hours 1 1/2 cups filtered water 1 1/2 cups warm filtered water

Drain the nuts and add to the bowl of a blender. Add half of the water and puree on high until the nuts are broken down and the milk is creamy. Using a fine mesh strainer, drain the nut meat from the milk, pressing down on the solids to release most of the liquid. Return nut meat to blender and add the warmed water. Let soak for until water is cool, about 30 minutes. Turn the blender on high and puree the nuts until milk is creamy, about 1 minutes. Using the same strainer, drain the nut meat from the milk, pressing down on the solids until all of the liquid is pressed out. Reserve nut meat for baked goods, or as a topping on a smoothie bowl, or dry out in the oven for later use.

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ALMOND MILK

This is an excellent addition to children’s and infant’s diets. It’s also good for adults as a milk substitute. Substitute almond milk for soymilk if you are allergic to soy. SOURCE: Prescription for Dietary Wellness: Using Foods to Heal

1 cup almonds 3 cups water ½ fresh papaya (optional; good for babies) 1 teaspoon blackstrap molasses (optional; a good mineral source) 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional) 1 tablespoon brewer’s yeast or wheat germ or both (optional)

1. In a grinder, food processor, or blender, grind the nuts into a powder. Gradually add the water and other ingredients while continuing to blend.

2. Store almond milk in the refrigerator and serve chilled. Note: Using molasses and papaya makes this a complete milk for infants, especially for those who are allergic to cow’s milk. If you plan to use this as a drink for adults, start by adding ½ teaspoon of brewer’s yeast to the recipe and gradually increase to 1 tablespoon over a couple of weeks’ time. Omit the wheat germ if you plan to use almond milk for cooking or on cereals.

 

 

 

Key Ingredient: SEAWEED

Sushi Kappo Tamura's owner and chef dishes about the edible sea plant that packs healthy nutrients................... Seaweed, long revered in Japanese culture, is available as close as Puget Sound. But can we simply stroll down to Golden Gardens and harvest some fresh kelp for eating? “Yes,” says Taichi Kitamura, owner and chef at Sushi Kappo Tamura in Eastlake. “All seaweed is edible; it is just a matter of tasting good or bad.”

1215eatanddrinkseaweedSeaweed comes in various shapes and forms—pressed and dried into sheets for sushi rolls, salted in jars, dried whole and other preparations. “I like them all, but my choice is wakame,” says Kitamura. Dark green wakame is sold in both dried and jarred forms. Sometimes labeled as sea vegetables, it has an almost indistinguishable, subtle taste. The texture is satisfying. “It’s something in between melt in your mouth and chewy,” he says.

Add wakame to soup for instant health benefits. “If I’m cooking instant ramen at home, I feel bad about it, but if I add wakame to it, I feel l ate something healthy,” says Kitamura. “If I prepare a green salad at home, I add wakame to the top and toss it with a soy-ginger dressing.”

At Sushi Kappo Tamura, he serves wakame with nattō (a preparation of fermented soybeans that “has an aroma similar to stinky cheese”), cucumber and seafood in a sweet, vinegary sauce.

While nori, the dried sheets of seaweed used in making sushi, is more commonly known, “Wakame can be utilized in a lot of different ways,” says Kitamura, “but…people don’t know about it yet.”

Why you should try it: Wakame is packed with antioxidants and nutrients, including calcium, iron and magnesium—and has a sweet, slightly salty flavor and thick texture. “It is unusual to an American palate, but it’s full of minerals and fiber, plus has zero calories,” says Kitamura.
How to use it: Don’t overcook it. “Melted seaweed is not pleasant—it’s like slime,” Kitamura says. Soak wakame for about 10 minutes before tossing it in a vinaigrette made from lemon juice, soy sauce and sugar, and folding it into a green salad. Minced ginger adds flavor.
Where to find it: Metropolitan Market (metropolitan-market.com) and PCC; Uwajimaya (multiple locations; uwajimaya.com). About $6 for an 8-ounce package. Salt-preserved wakame should be boiled and strained.

Why you should try it: Wakame is packed with antioxidants and nutrients, including calcium, iron and magnesium—and has a sweet, slightly salty flavor and thick texture. “It is unusual to an American palate, but it’s full of minerals and fiber, plus has zero calories,” says Kitamura.

How to use it: Don’t overcook it. “Melted seaweed is not pleasant—it’s like slime,” Kitamura says. Soak wakame for about 10 minutes before tossing it in a vinaigrette made from lemon juice, soy sauce and sugar, and folding it into a green salad. Minced ginger adds flavor.

Where to find it: Metropolitan Market and PCC; Uwajimaya (multiple locations). About $6 for an 8-ounce package. Salt-preserved wakame should be boiled and strained.

Wakame and Shrimp Salad with Dijon Mustard Dressing Serves 4

  • 1 ounce dried wakame
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 5 ounces English cucumber, sliced thin
  • 4 ounces cooked salad shrimp

1. Put the dried seaweed into a large bowl, fill it with cold water and soak it for 5 minutes. For more tender seaweed, soak it for 10 minutes. 2. To make the dressing, combine the rice vinegar, lemon juice, oil, mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk together. 3. Drain the seaweed and use your hands to squeeze out excess water. Wipe out any excess water in the bowl, and then return the seaweed along with the cucumber and the dressing. 4. Toss thoroughly to combine. 5. Plate the salad and place the shrimp on top.

 

PUBLISHED SEATTLE MAGAZINE, Dec 2015

 

Rosehip Recipes :: Homemade Rosehip Granola Recipe

baking granolaRosehips are bright red ‘berries’ that form on the stems of rose bushes and trees after the blooms die back. These fleshy globes encase seeds for the roses and can be eaten raw or dried. Rosehips form in mid-autumn and are best harvested after the first frost. This homemade rosehip granola is best served over yogurt with a spoonful of honey. To learn how to harvest rosehips (November is a perfect month for it!), check out this post. For more rose hip recipes and inspiration, check out this post for Rosehip Sherry.

Rose Hip Granola

makes about 3 pints | start to finish: about 30 minutes active time

2 cups rolled oats 2 cups sliced almonds 2 cups raw, unsweetened coconut flakes 2 tablespoon untoasted sesame seeds 1⁄4 teaspoon salt 1/3 cup dried rosehips 1/3 cup crystallized ginger, chopped

rose hips for harvestingPreheat the oven to 350°F. Place the oats and almonds on a sheet pan and stir to combine. Put the pan in the oven and toast for 5 minutes. Add the coconut flakes and sesame seeds. Toss to redistribute, and spread out into a single layer. Toast until the coconut flakes are golden brown and sesame seeds are fragrant, another 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle on the salt. Add the rosehips and ginger and stir well to combine. Let cool completely before filling pint jars. washed jars • pantry storage

PHOTO FROM DELLA CHEN PHOTOGRAPHY

Chia vs Hemp :: A Health Lovers Guide

Nutritious eating has always been my game – I like getting the proper proportion of fats, protein and healthy carbs in on a daily basis. Like most people, I’m also following food trends and hoping to anticipate them. Flax meal? On it – you can catch a recipe or two in Urban Pantry. Fermented foods? Eat them – I have several jars in my fridge and eat them with a soft-boiled eggs as a quick lunch when I’m in the gardens. chia vs hemp Lately, it seems everyone is going ga-ga over hemp seeds and chia – me included. I wrote about hemp seeds in the February issue of Seattle Magazine and received a bag of 'cereal' at IFBC 2014 that included chia with hemp and buckwheat (and was delicious). Experimenting with healthy foods is fun, but I can’t help but wonder……why the fuss? What ARE these proclaimed super foods actually adding to our diet and do we need them? I had a vague understanding that both would add healthy fats and protein to my daily intake, but why choose them over my regular smoothie addition of a nut butter?

Here, I did a little investigative reporting, hoping to suss out the low down after I received a bag of seeds from Manitoba Harvest. While sources and packing information vary across brands, oddly, here is the essential caloric breakdown for both hulled/shelled hemp seeds and chia, based on a 1 ounce portion:

CHIA : 137 calories, 9g of fat (a significant portion of which are omega-3 fatty acids), 12g of carbohydrates (the bulk of which is dietary fiber) and 4g of protein

HEMP : 174 calories, 14g of fat (half of which are omega-6s), 2g of carbohydrates and 11g of protein.

From this, it’s clear that hemp has way more protein and chia has way more fiber. They both contain a decent amount of healthy fats, but chia is higher in omega-3 (like you find in salmon) and hemp is higher in omega-6, which is also found in poultry, nuts and whole grains. A healthy diet needs to balance the two, so increasing our intake of omega-3s is typically recommended. Not to get too heady, but these omegas are both essential fatty acids – we don’t produce these fats naturally so we must get them from our diet. They are used as an energy source, help to regulate inflammation and are thought to protect against diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Additionally, both have the ability to level out blood sugar, working to avoid spikes and valleys of energy while evening out our metabolic rate. Good stuff!

So why choose one over another? Well, our diets do include a decent amount of omega-6  already (whole grains, nuts & poultry, remember?), so we’re not missing that fat as much as the omega-3s. That’s a +1 for chia! Fiber is filling and sustaining – that’s another +1 for chia, as carbohydrates keep us feeling satiated longer. Hemp, on the other hand, has way more protein - +1 for hemp if you’re a vegetarian or looking for an alternative protein source. Hemp is also a bit higher in calories - another plus for anyone hoping to gain weight. (Hey, it happens.)

seed table

Flavor-wise, the two don't really compare. The flavor of chia seeds is not strong - it’s more about the texture. Through absorption of an added liquid, chia seeds create a gelatinous exterior, similar to that of tapioca pudding or bubble tea. If you like this toothsome, custard-like quality, chia is a win. People like adding chia seeds to their morning smoothies, which makes for a pleasantly thick shake. Hemp, as you might expect, has a nutty flavor that is similar to pine nuts. When added to a smoothie, there is a distinct undertone of a nutty quality, though the seeds are soft and therefore blend well without leaving chunky bits behind.

Hemp seeds can also be soaked and pulverized with liquid to create a savory sauce or sprinkled over salads for a bit of crunch – a great option for anyone with nut allergies. Chia makes for a healthy snack by way of pudding. Cover the seeds in milk, coconut milk or nut milk and you wind up with a pudding-like treat. Adding cocoa powder and honey sweetens the bowl for a dessert, whereas adding cinnamon and maple syrup makes for a more breakfast-friendly meal.

So maybe the real trick is in adding both on a more regular basis? Instead of using only almond butter, try pureed hemp seeds. Or skip them both and opt for the fiber-rich chia a couple of times a week. That's definitely my plan, as well as stocking the fridge occasionally with a chia-coconut milk-cocoa 'pudding'.

And lest you get too carried away with all these fad-forward foods, don’t forget about good ol’ flax seeds, which are another wonderful plant source for carbs, fat and protein. (More on that here, from Nutritionist Monica Reinagel) Having had their day in the sun, they may not be as trendy just now, but pound per pound they’re less expensive than chia or hemp – a budget-conscious health-lovers dream.

 

Chamomile and Coconut Granola Recipe

chamomile granolaOriginally published in my book Apartment Gardening, this is one of my all time favorite recipes. This is also the recipe that was highlighted in this fun interview I did for the Wall Street Journal. (And YES, I still feel the same way about bacon.) With all that recipe sharing, I figured I should probably offer it here, too - right?! I often have a jar of this granola on the shelves of my pantry. It's a nutritious and filling topping for non-fat yogurt, making it an excellent choice for anyone trying to eat healthy or commit to a morning routine.

My friend Lynda worked as a cheese maker at a goat dairy. A few summers ago I got to spend a few days out in farm country with her, and every morning for breakfast I had a deep bowl of her perfect goat milk yogurt topped with spoonfuls of her homemade granola and a drizzle of honey. Her granola has no added butter or sugar, so it’s not gooey-crunchy like most granola, but it does have toasty, flaky bits like coconut, oats, and almonds. The flavor is intensified with some chamomile buds and sesame seeds. After trying this, you’ll never think of granola in the same way again.

Chamomile & Coconut Granola

Makes 6 servings

1 cup rolled oats 1 cup sliced almonds 1 cup raw, unsweetened coconut flakes 1⁄4 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon crushed dried chamomile buds 1 tablespoon untoasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoon flaxseed meal

Preheat the oven to 350 ̊F. Place all ingredients on a sheet pan and stir to combine. Place in the oven and toast for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and toss, redistributing granola into a single layer. Toast until the coconut flakes are golden brown, another 3 to
4 minutes. Serve by the handful over a bowl of plain yogurt with a drizzle of honey and some fresh fruit. Cooled leftover granola can be stored in the pantry, in a sealed container, for about 3 weeks. For MORE recipes using chamomile, check out my Chamomile Cordial recipe here.

For TIPS on harvesting and drying chamomile for recipes or medicinals, check out my How-To guide here.

Leafy Greens & Coconut Milk Soup :: Clean Eating

Leafy Green & Coconut-Broth SoupThe new year is a great time to recover from holiday indulgences. Personally, I'm so over food and drinks just now. Instead,  I'm craving clean eating foods that I know will work through my system quickly and provide me with energy. (I've been counterbalancing bourbon with green juice for a week!) Craving fuel, January 1 is when I typically make a shopping list and stock up on frozen cut fruit for smoothies, bunches of leafy, winter greens and make sure I have some lean proteins available for adding to meals.  

 

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Here, the good fats found in coconut milk satiate and homemade beef stock provides a calcium and phosphorous dense broth full of minerals providing a base for the Leafy Greens & Coconut Milk Soup. I fill a large, shallow bowl with torn spinach leaves, a handful of mixed herbs (whole cilantro, basil and mint are delicious and invigorating) and some finely chopped green onions. Add thinly sliced jalapeño for spice - they're especially great when you're fighting a cold as the capsaicin from the seeds (the compound that creates the spiciness) thins mucus and helps to open up your nasal passages.

 

 

Pour hot broth directly over the greens - the heat cooks the greens, allowing the soup to come together in minutes. Keep the pantry filled with at least one can of coconut milk (look for a pure brand that avoids adding carageen - a seaweed derivative that is thought to be an allergen) and keep a container of stock frozen in the freezer, for easy meal-making.

Leafy Greens & Coconut Milk Soup 2 parts bone broth :: 1 part coconut milk

Place broth and coconut milk into a small saucepan and heat to boiling. Meanwhile, fill a large, shallow bowl with greens, as above. When broth is at a low boil, pour over the veg and serve immediately.

Leafy Greens for soupFor bone broth, check out this recipe for beef pho from Andrea Nguyen of Viet World Kitchen. For a simple chicken bone broth made at home in a slow cooker, here's a goodie from the ever-healthful Nourished Kitchen.

Pineapple & Mint Drinking Vinegar Recipe

Making Pineapple Drinking VinegarDrinking vinegars, or shrubs, are refreshing beverages made from fermenting a combination of fruit, sugar and vinegar. Last week, in honor of my new SodaStream, I created a pineapple drinking vinegar recipe that is light, energizing and fresh. Shrubs are not a new idea - they were used in colonial America as a way to preserve quick-spoiling fruit. Lacking proper refrigeration, fruit turned quickly. Adding vinegar to the fruit solved the issue of decay and was a means of preservation, as vinegar is high in acid and prevents mold and spoilers from forming. There are no limitations to ingredients that can be combined and preserved safely, so drinking vinegars are a great way to experiment with preservation. I prefer softer and sweeter vinegars - apple cider or champagne work well with many fruits and vegetables.

Products like Bragg's apple cider are a great choice as they have healthy bacteria that is alive and active. (Read: Great for your gut!) Of course, you can also make your own vinegar at home, using a fermentation process. This is a great idea for apple season, and I have a recipe in my Apple Cookbook that is easy to follow and make.

Straining Pineapple Drinking Vinegar

Drinking vinegars and shrubs are alcohol-free, thus a festive option for anyone who does not drink alcohol. Add a spoonful of drinking vinegar to make juices more complex, or go straight for the sparkling water and make a brightly colored fizzy drink. (Here, I have a lot of other lovely ideas for homemade sodas! And here I have additional recipes for drinking vinegar, including one using beets.)

To age, I leave the drinking vinegar out on the counter for several days, covered with a thin linen kitchen cloth. This allows the mixture to breath and ferment, while keeping out insects. The pineapple-mint mixture fermented for five days, but a few days longer or shorter is also fine. Use your nose - when it's strong and yeast-y smelling, call it done.

Pineapple Mint Drinking Vinegar

I use my SodaStream to create fizzy water at home. I went for a big bubble in the water and compressed the machine seven times. The fruit juice is dense and thick and I wanted the water to sparkle in the mouth. To serve, spoon some juice into a glass and top off with soda water. Using more drinking vinegar results in a stronger, sweeter drink. Less is obviously more subtle. I'm in love with my new SodaStream!

PINEAPPLE MINT DRINKING VINEGAR 

2 cups chopped pineapple 1/2 cup sugar or honey 1/2 cup mint leaves 1/2 cup LIVE apple cider vinegar

Add all ingredients to the bowl of a blender and puree until fruit is mashed and mint is chopped fine. Pour into a 1 quart jar and cover with a thin linen cloth and secure the cloth with a rubber band. (This prevents gnats and other insects from getting in.) Leave on the counter for 3 to 5 days to ferment. To serve, set a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and pour in the fruit, pressing on it to release all of the juice. Store any leftover shrub in a covered jar in the fridge where it will keep for many weeks.

Cabbage - Clean Eating

Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable, just like broccoli, kale, collards, turnips and MORE. Cruciferous veg are high in sulfur. Eating these natural compounds help your body produce anti-oxidant and detoxification proteins, which in turn help to eliminate biohazards from your cells. Seriously! Basically, what this does is increase your bodies cellular function   and help clean out your system - like a gentle internal cleanser. For these reasons (and more which surpass my scientific understanding of digestion), many health advocates contend that you should be eating raw cruciferous vegetables daily. Because of their cellular support, cruciferous vegetables are thought to aid in the prevention of many cancers. Studies have been done to prove this, but why wait for a study? Eating more raw (or cooked) leafy greens will never prove to be a BAD idea.Cabbage Pancake Here is one of my most favorite breakfast recipes - Savory Cabbage Pancakes. I've been a little obsessed with these lately and make them several times a week. Of course, this recipe shows up in my newly released eBook - Fresh Pantry - CABBAGE. You can purchase it here for $2.99 and get it on your phone, tablet or computer for more awesome and healthful cabbage recipes. Cabbage is one of the more affordable and functional vegetables available, and so the book aims to take advantage of this virtue all winter long.

For the pancake, cabbage is briefly sautéed and added to beaten eggs for the ultimate breakfast meal. Topped with chopped cilantro, fresh green onions and a spoonful of fermented kimchi or sauerkraut, they are tremendously deliciously and seriously satisfying. (Additionally, fermented foods support proper gut health - that's where the kimchi comes in. More on fermented foods soon!) You won't be reaching for a snack for several hours, which is awesome for anyone eating clean (who can tolerate eggs, of course) or trying to cut out unnecessary calories.

Fresh Pantry, cabbage pancakeCABBAGE PANCAKES excerpted from Fresh Pantry - Cabbage, Skipstone Books 2013

2 tablespoons olive oil 1 cup shredded green cabbage ¼ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon pepper 2 eggs 2 tablespoons water

For Garnish - chopped cilantro, chopped green onion, kimchi or sauerkraut, OR kefir

In a small sauté pan (about 5 inches in diameter), set the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil has warmed, add the green cabbage, salt, and pepper to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is wilted and soft, about 10 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and water until well combined. Pour the mixture over the cabbage and tilt the pan to distribute the eggs evenly. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the pancake edges are firm, about 6 to 8 minutes. Using a large spatula, flip the pancake over quickly and continue cooking the other side until the eggs are just cooked, another 4 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

 

 

Juicing at Home Without a Juicer - Clean Eating

It seems like the world is crazy for juicing just now. I had figured it for yet another American health craze for anyone hoping to drop five pounds, but recently I visited the Torvehallerne KBH in Copenhagen (essentially, a gourmet food hall) and even they had a raw juice bar. pear-ginger-collards

I love the concept of juicing - a nice clean, hit of nutrition for a mid-day pick me up or small meal seems like a smart idea. A veg-based juice or a fruit-based smoothie is a blessing for me, as I'm often on the move and don't  have time to sit for a proper meal. A hard boiled egg and some beet-kale-apple juice makes for a decent lunch when I leave my house early to get out to gardens, and they are easy to make ahead and toss in my purse. Additionally, I have never been a huge fan of breakfast - something about eating first thing in the morning never appealed to me. So, yeah……juicing has been great.

The problem is, I don't have the money or space for a home juicer. Yes, I know there are small versions and I know everyone swears by their Vitamix, but I figure that I have enough kitchen tools as it and I prefer to work with what I have. If you don't have a juicer at home, don't sweat it. Here's how to make your own with relative ease.

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Using a strong blender (or a mini-smoothie maker, like this one), add 1/4 cup of water, a handful of fresh fruit, 1-2 tablespoons peeled & chopped ginger & 3 whole leaf greens. The water helps the fruit and vegetables break up, and allows for easier straining. Process in the blender for 1 minute and turn off. Let mixture sit for one minute, before turning the machine on again and allow to blend for 2 to 3 minutes more. This will seem like an excessive amount of time, but the color will continue to change as the mixture is fully pulverized, promising to extract as much as possible from the fruits and vegetables.

Using a fine mesh strainer set over a deep bowl, pour in the juice and strain, pressing on the solids firmly to extract all moisture. This process takes about 2 minutes total. Use a rubber spatula to fold and press the pulp until it is paste-like and dry and stops releasing juice. Pour the strained juice from the bowl into a drinking class & enjoy!

It is good to note that this process will remove most of the fiber found in the plants skin, membranes and stalks. This fiber is very healthy for you, so you need not strain the juice, if you don't mind the pulp. I prefer a smoother drinking juice, though on occasion I'll add a small spoonful of the pulp back in for good measure. It's up to you!

home juicingThis is what I blended today -  pears offer a natural sweetness and clean flavor, collard greens are more gently flavored than kale leaves (and it's what I had in the pantry!) and I use ginger in my juices because of it's medicinal properties. Ginger is an excellent anti-inflammatory AND it tastes fantastic, adding a bit of a spicy kick to drinks.

Pear-Ginger-Collard Juice

1 whole pear, stem removed 2 tablespoons peeled & diced ginger 3 collard green leaves, cut into 2-inch wide ribbons 1/4 cup water

*You can add a small spoon of honey or maple syrup to sweeten slightly, if so inclined. Pears are still tasty this time of year, so you really shouldn't need it.

 

Clean Eating

IMG_9666Many people opt for health in the new year, particularly after weeks of festive parties and holiday cheer. This marks a new column for the site focused on Clean Eating. While you wouldn’t necessarily make the connection, many of the recipes I write are considered ‘clean’ - they take advantage of healthy fats, steer clear of inflammatory foods and maximize flavor. I don’t eat wheat, rely on fruits and vegetables for bulk, and count on lean proteins for their nutritional properties and ability to sate. I’ve been eating like this for years. It all started when…… A little over ten years ago, on my 29th birthday, I woke up tired, fatigued and overweight. As my eyes adjusted to the light, I thought “Twenty-nine….what am I going to do with my year?” and the answer came easily. I decided I didn’t want to be fat anymore. At the time I weighed close to 200lbs – a lot of heft on a 5’6” frame. I didn’t want to take the self-doubt, body hate and shame into my 30s with me, and I knew I had to make changes. So, I got up, put on some grubby clothes and snuck out for a run. I use ‘run’ loosely here, because in truth I lumbered down a block before I had to stop and gasp for breath. I kept walking and as soon as my breathing leveled off, I’d run another short bit until I was forced to stop.

And so began my journey into health. I’ll spare you the details, but give you the overview; I started exercising near daily – walking briskly at first, but eventually my body wanted more and I naturally became a runner. I invested in my health and started working out with a personal trainer three times a week for one month. (And then dropped into her group classes two nights a week.) I stopped eating bread. I’d have an occasional whole wheat pita, but never white bread. And I curbed my snacking, no small feat as I worked in the epicenter of Tom Douglas Restaurants, up in the corporate office. At first I got hungry during the day, but I allowed for a mid-morning snack of an apple with peanut butter and a mid-afternoon snack of a steamed cup of milk with some vanilla extract, cinnamon or a few shakes of nutmeg over the top. Over the course of 3 short months, I lost about 40 pounds. It was that easy. I made up my mind and made it happen through sheer dedication. And while I ate healthy, I wasn’t compulsive about calorie counting. I still drank wine and cocktails, and I still ate pork belly – I just did it all in moderation, balancing my nutrition across the week. (Interestingly, this is the time in my life where I took a clear pivot and starting making all of my food from scratch home and relying on whole foods for nutrition. This personal ethos provided the background for my eventual cookbook, Urban Pantry and food-writing career.)

Today marks a day of new starts for many. I have always cherished the peace and pause a new year offers. This day provides a great opportunity to reset. For breakfast, I had a bowl of fermented kefir sprinkled with a handful of my Coconut-Chamomile Granola (from Apartment Gardening), a cup of fresh melon and a drizzle of honey. Good stuff.

In the coming year, I will host a series of posts here on Clean Eating. It could be an interview, a recipe, a trick, a nutritional factoid, a meal plan – whatever I’m doing at that moment in my own kitchen. I hope you’ll follow along and start experimenting at home in your own kitchens. You know, get a little bit healthier – support your goals with ease.  Who knows, maybe you’ll drop a few pounds? (I have about 8 to loose, ma’self!) If you’d like to learn how to do something specific, or have any questions along the way, holler out. Until then…….

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Here’s to a healthy 2014.

Chilled Squid with Pickled Peppers & Summer Herbs Recipe

Chilled Squid & Pickled PepperThis is a perfect dish for a cool and sunny autumn afternoon, from my ebook Fresh Pantry: PEPPERS. Eat as many peppers as you can before they are all gone - we're in our last days of harvesting them! My dear friend Ritzy, who seldom cooks but is always hungry said "omg. I love this salad so much! I gobbled up the entire grande bowl that you gave me." Chilled Squid with Pickled Peppers & Summer Herbs SERVES 4

This dish reminds me of a meal I ate in Croatia, along the coast where my cousins live. It draws on the fresh flavor of olives and parsley, and pairs both with a few slivers of pickled peppers. Little squids (aka calamari) can be intimidating for home cooks, but they are fast-cooking and actually

quite easy to work with. Most fish mongers sell squid already cleaned, so you need only worry about the timing. Cooked too long, squids go rubbery and are hard to chew. Cooked briefly, they are supple and lend a fabulous texture and flavor to this simple summer salad. This salad is also a great packed meal—make it ahead of time and bring it camping or on a picnic.

4 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters 1 green bell pepper, cut into thin strips (about 1¼ cups) 1 red serrano pepper, cut into thin strips 1-inch-piece fresh ginger, cut into thin slices 1 cup rice wine vinegar ½ cup sugar 1 pound cleaned squid, patted dry ¼ cup olive oil for frying, plus 3 tablespoons for salad ½ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon pepper 3 cloves garlic, smashed and diced 1 teaspoon red chile flakes 2 cups chopped fresh parsley (mint, cilantro, or basil also works well) 1 cup whole olives (green, black or mixed)

Set water to boil in a medium-sized saucepan. Boil the potatoes until cooked through, about 30 to 35 minutes. Drain the potatoes and set aside to cool in a large bowl.

Put the bell pepper, serrano pepper, and ginger in a medium-sized bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan, heat the rice wine vinegar and sugar until boiling; stir until all the sugar has dissolved. Pour over the peppers and set them aside to pickle while they cool.

To prepare the squid, cut the body portion into 1-inch rings. To cook the squid, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil over high heat in a large sauté pan. You want the olive oil to be rippling and very hot. Drop in the squid and sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic, and red chile flakes. Stirring constantly, cook the squid until just cooked through, about 1 minute. The squid may splatter and pop when it hits the heat, so be careful and wear an apron! Do not overcook the squid—it is ready quickly, when just opaque. You may have to cook the squid in batches if the saucepan is too full.

Remove the squid from sauté pan, using a slotted spoon, and add it to the cooled potatoes. Add the parsley and olives to the squid and potatoes. Drain the pickled peppers from the brine, reserving 3 tablespoons of the brine and discarding the ginger. Add the peppers and reserved brine to the squid-potato-parsley-olive salad. Add the remaining olive oil and fold gently to combine all ingredients well—be careful not to break down the potatoes. Serve immediately.

PANTRY NOTE: This salad holds well in the fridge, covered, for one day. Any longer and the squid loses its fresh flavor. Use any olives you prefer, or a mix of greens and blacks, but don’t scrimp on the olive oil. You want a nice grassy-tasting olive oil for this recipe, as with most salads.