Saturday, January 29, 2011

Easy Thai Flavored Staples

This week, we were both feeling a little under the weather so we needed something really easy to keep ready to eat in the fridge. Enter the Favorite ...


Thai Crunch Salad.
Thai Crunch Salad

There are a couple of ways to enjoy these flavors - as a salad and as lettuce wraps.
I have posted them both below.
If you want simple and tasty, it doesn't get much easier than this.

The Thai Crunch Salad

Ingredients:

Bag of shredded Cabbage
Bag of Broccoli Slaw
Bag of shredded Carrots
Bag of Mung Bean Sprouts
Cucumber, peeled, and chopped or julienned (depending how much time you want to spend.)
Raw Cashews, roughly chopped

If you have a larger family or more time, of course you can buy the whole ingredients and shred them yourself as well.

Put all but the cashews into a big bowl and mix well. Then put into a ziplock bag or container until ready to portion out and serve.

To Serve: grab a handful or so per person, add to a bowl, add dressing and toss. Plate and sprinkle cashews over top. This is perfect to take to work as well.

Dressing:

If you are fortunate to have a Trader Joe's Market around and are not concerned with eating peanuts, then the Asian Style Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette is a wonderful dressing!!

You can find it in the refrigerated produce section at Trader Joe's.

For a raw version without peanuts try this:

Mock Peanut Sauce
1/2 cup raw Almond Butter
1/4 cup Water
1 Tbsp fresh Lemon juice
2 tsp Agave Nectar or Maple Syrup
2 tsp Tamari
1/2 tsp crushed Garlic ( 1 clove)
1/4 tsp grated fresh Ginger
dash Cayenne Pepper
dash Sea Salt

Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Store in sealed container in the fridge. Should keep 5 days. Makes 1 cup

Raw Food Made Easy For 1 or 2 PeopleDressing Recipe found in Jennifer Cornbleet's Raw Food Made Easy for 1 or 2 people, which by the way is a really great book!
I haven't ever made something from this book that we did not like.





Thai Lettuce Wraps
Thai Lettuce Wraps

Ingredients:






Boston Bib Lettuce
Carrot -grated
Broccoli Coleslaw (comes in bag pre shredded)
Cucumber - julienned or cucumber salad (recipe to follow)
Sunflower Sprouts or Mung Bean Sprouts
Raw Cashews, chopped
Spicy Peanut Dressing or Mock Dressing from above

Assemble like a taco using lettuce leaves, putting dressing on top with a sprinkle of cashews to finish. 
Lettuce wrap

Cucumber Salad
cucumber- julienned
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp agave
1 Tbsp nama shoyu
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp sesame seeds

Mix all except sesame seeds and place in bowl over cucumber to marinate in refrigerator. 
Sprinkle sesame seeds on top at serving.

I hope you try this. It is so delicious!








Friday, January 21, 2011

Breakfast is Served

Tangelo Kiwi Cups
We are really loving the citrus right now and with the trees still ripe for the picking, 
we are still exploring new combinations.
These little gems were almost too beautiful to eat!
But we got over it.

Tangelo Kiwi Cups

As you can see the ingredients are pretty straight forward.

Ingredients:

3 Tangelos, peeled and segmented
2 Kiwi, peeled and sliced
Pomegrante seeds
Mint for garnish

To use the tangelos as cups, I just sliced them in half and segmented with a grapefruit knife. 
Then used the electric juicer to swirl out the insides and get any remaining juice (to enjoy as I worked.)
Assemble all into the tangelo shell or bowl and garnish with mint.

Tropical Fruit Salad

This has been a total surprise!
While I love pineapple and bananas,  R. doesn't care for either of them and yet
 he's already asking for me to make this on a regular basis.
Go figure!

This recipe would be great all thrown in the blender too!


Ingredients:

2 Tangelos, peeled and segmented
1 Mango, peeled and diced
1 cups Pineapple, peeled cored and cubed
1 Banana, peeled and sliced
1 Lime, juiced
1 Tbsp Agave Nectar
1/4 cup shredded Coconut, unsweetened

Assemble first 6 items in the bowl and toss gently to mix.
Cover and let chill for about an hour.
Sprinkle with Coconut and Serve.

This morning's repeat.
Mmm....So good!

I called this breakfast but these are both good anytime!




Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Giving Trees

If you subscribe to the rationale that we are designed to eat along with the seasons, it makes sense that citrus with all its vitamin power would be the fruit for this time of year. What better time to fortify your body with antioxidants and vitamin C than what for many is cold and flu season.

As I drive around town and especially down our street, I can't help but notice the abundance of food in the trees.  We are fortunate to have so many citrus trees in our neighborhood. Whether they are the giant 30 year old trees or the newer ones with the fruit straining it's young tender branches, they all seem to be calling out the same thing-

 "Come and Get it!"
Desert Citrus Trees


While our trees aren't in a picturesque grove somewhere, but instead street side or along the parking lots, the fruit is still more than edible and delicious!

This is one of our favorites- the Tangelo Tree.


As you can see it is ripe for the picking.
So that's what we have been doing with our little picker basket.
Here we have about 10 lbs but there is still so much more in the tree.
Tangelos
We call these "Tangelo Bombs." 
These are so juicy.  If they hit the ground (or your car) they literally explode!
They really are best for juice or even better- sherbet!!
(sherbet recipe in previous post or click here.)

We also have an abundance of grapefruit right now as well.

With all these ripe trees, I can't help but feel like a clock is ticking. It's only a short amount of time until they are either all gone or all bad. I need to get busy!

It also makes me think about all the people they could feed, instead of the way this fruit is going unused and unnoticed by most. If everyone planted fruit trees in their yards, wouldn't that go a long way towards feeding people? Just a thought. 

For now I am making the most of our bounty. Here is a simple salad that really looks special:

Winter Citrus Salad
Winter Citrus Salad
Ingredients:

Tangelo
Grapefruit
Blood Orange 
Pomegranate Seeds.
Honey

Peel the citrus and slice. Sprinkle with seeds and drizzle the honey over top.
Enjoy. 

I have more citrus dishes coming up next.

How about you? Are you taking advantage of this bountiful season and getting your Vit C in?
Let me know what you are doing!





Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Greetings From Citrus California

Wish you all were here!
Vintage California Postcard
It's that time of year when citrus trees here in California are overflowing with goodness. There is so much citrus and so little time to explore it, that I decided the next few posts are going to be citrus related as I take advantage of this bountiful harvest time.
how cool is this old post card?
For most of my life, I was "sensitive to citrus" meaning I could not really eat it without problems, mostly painful heartburn or extreme tooth sensitivity, which lead to me not really liking citrus as a kid- go figure, right?  Since eating a more alkalized diet, namely cutting out most dairy and animal protein, I don't have this problem anymore. Added bonus: my 40 year battle with painful eczema is now a thing of the past!  Yahoo! ( I am amazed that all those doctors over the years never knew/mentioned the dairy/ eczema connection.)

But back to citrus: Turns out the sensitivity is acid related but not in the way people think of citrus as acidic. It's about Ph balance in the body. If you are not familiar with Ph and how it effects you, I highly recommend the book, The Ph Miracle by Robert Young and Shelley Redford Young. You will never think of food or illness the same way again.
The pH Miracle: Balance Your Diet, Reclaim Your Health

Another interesting thing I found out about citrus and even all fruit in general: 

If you had a high acid (meat, dairy, grain) or high fat meal the night before, you may also experience heartburn with your morning o.j. So don't blame the juice!

If you eat better, you feel better. It's really as simple as that.

So where to start with the citrus exploration? 
How about a little Cutie?
California Cuite Logo showing off the EZ peel.
This little gem shows up around the beginning of holidays and is sold in 3 or 5 lb boxes. 
But what is a Cutie? 
a mandarin? a clementine? a tangerine?
What's their story?
Here is what the grower says about them:

"California Cuties are actually two different fruits: Clementine mandarins and Murcott mandarins.
Clementine mandarins are harvested from mid-October through mid-January; Murcott mandarins from mid-January through April. But both mandarins are held to the same high growing standards, so they’re always sweet, seedless, easy to peel and the perfect size for kids and grownups alike."


Easy to peel, seedless, not too juicy makes them perfect for snacking. And that's pretty much what we mostly do with them. Trying to think a little out of the 4th 5 lb box, I decided to use up some of my cuties and some navel oranges and make a sherbet and I'm so glad I did!  This rivals any sherbet in the frozen aisle and the best part is that I know exactly what's in it.

Winter Citrus Sherbet
Winter Citrus Sherbet
First you are going to need some juice.
Navels and Cuties or Cutie Navels?

I'm not sure how much juice I made because as fast as I could juice it, someone else who will remain nameless kept drinking it! So I recommend making lots of juice. You can't go wrong with that.

I cut the recipe in half- silly me! But the full recipe is listed below.
Half the Sherbet Ingredients.

Ingredients:

2 young thai coconuts, meat and water separated. You will use mostly the meat.
2 cups fresh squeezed Cutie juice
2 cups fresh squeezed Orange juice
6 organic dates, pitted and soaked in juice a little to soften
1 tsp orange extract
6 packets of stevia
pinch of sea salt

I prefer to use an ice cream maker but if you don't have one or don't want to plan that far ahead you can freeze the juice in an ice cube tray. I've made it both ways and both are just as good.

For ice cream maker:
Blend the coconut meat, softened dates, orange extract, stevia and juice together until well blended. Taste for sweetness, add more stevia if needed.
Chill in refrigerator for about an hour minimum to cool. Then pour into ice maker and follow your ice cream maker's instructions. 

For ice cube tray method:
Blend all as above and put into ice trays and freeze. Once frozen, blend the cubes up in food processor or blender until nice and sherbet like.  If it's too soft, you may want to put into a freezable covered container and let it freeze up a little more.

I would tell you how long it keeps in the freezer but I made half the amount and it was gone the same day. I'll definitely be making more next time.

If you need tips on how to open the Thai Coconut check out this blog post.

OH!  and if you or your kids would like a Cutie bandaid:
So cute!


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Food From the Tree of Life

It's winter here in Southern California and that means two very unusual fruit items are still in season:
The Pomegranate
and

The Blood Orange. 

The Pomegranate has been around for centuries. The tree has even been called the Tree of Life. Some say that the apple mentioned in the bible in the Garden of Eden was actually a pomegranate, if translated more precisely.
While widely consumed in eastern cultures, and even though it was introduced here in the states in the late 1800's, it seems to really have taken off lately in the US.  I think part of that success has to do with this company: POM Wonderful
They are growers that have made the 100% natural pomegranate juice readily available and have no doubt helped spread the word about this fruit's super powers.  

It is being touted as a super food with all sorts of near miraculous powers. Its health benefits certainly give us a reason to get on board with it. For more about all the wonders of the pomegranate check out this link.

While the bottled juice is good in a pinch, it is still pasteurized. So if you want all those fantastic benefits, make sure you get the real fresh deal and buy the whole fruit.

My last blog post, how to open a pomegranate without a mess, should make that easier. It also gives ideas on how to best juice it as well.

The blood orange, or to be more specific for what I am talking about here, The Moro Blood Orange, is a type of orange that has a deep red flesh color. The flavor of a Moro is stronger in flavor and aroma than a normal orange. Also it has a distinct sweet flavor with a hint of raspberry.

While the pomegranate goes out of season in February the blood orange will be available through May, at least from our California growers that is.


The colors of these two are what drew me to put them together. But their unique tastes make them really wonderful. Here are a couple of ways to enjoy them:

Pomegranate, Blood Orange and Fennel Salad
serves two
Pomegranate, Blood Orange and Fennel Salad
I was surprised to hear R. say this was the best salad he ever had. Wow! "Light not too heavy of a dressing and a nice mix of flavors." What can I say? It is so simple too.

 Ingredients
The Salad Ingredients:

6 cups baby lettuce. I used Mache (pronounced Mosh) also called lamb's lettuce from Trader Joe's.
   A baby romaine or an arugula would also work nicely.
1 cup very thinly sliced fennel bulb
2 blood red oranges, segmented, I sliced in half and cut out with grapefruit knife.
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup pine nuts 

Pomegranate Dressing:
1/4 cup freshly squeezed pomegranate juice
1 1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp minced shallots
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Whisk together the juice, vinegar, shallots, olive oil, salt and pepper.



Pour the dressing into a bowl and then add the salad ingredients. Toss well to combine and serve.


Raw Food for Everyone: Essential Techniques and 300 Simple-to-Sophisticated RecipesThis salad was inspired by Alissa Cohen's new book,
Raw Food for Everyone.
The dressing came from there.



Pom-Orange Juice

pom- orange juice




Juice of 4 Blood Oranges
Juice of 1 Pomegranate
pinch of sea salt  (optional but it intensifies flavor)

pour into two glasses, if you feeling like sharing that is.

Enjoy!


No Mess Way to Eat a Pomegranate

Although Pomegranates have been written about since the book of Exodus, they did not cross my radar screen until I read about it in elementary school by way of Persephone in Greek Mythology. A fruit where the point was to open it and eat the seeds? This went against all convention.
Why did I not know about this fruit?
Photo Source: Food Matters
My mom put it off as long as she could but I would not relent until we went out and bought one. These were not the days of the easy to clean granite countertops but instead butcher block oak or tile with grout lines and my mom was cringing about the whole mess. The counter top, the clothes, a disaster but I thought these things were so cool! My mom? Not so much.

Since then the coolness wore off as the mess became my problem and my counter tops were either the vary stainable formica or now also wood.  I would limit myself to buying the seed kernels or juice already packaged. Since learning about raw, I know I have been missing out on both flavor and nutrients with the pre-packaged goods and that's the whole point, right?

So if the word pomegranate conjures up images like this in your mind:
( don't worry: this is not MY technique) photo source
Think again! 
Because I have learned the mess free trick to pomegranates!


Now if  you are wondering what all the fuss is about, let me just say pomegranates are classified as a super fruit meaning their health benefits range from lowering your incidence of high blood pressure and cancer to being a natural viagra.  I am being brief here because there are oodles of pages on the net like this one with tons of information.

My goal is to show you how easy it can be to open them yourself.

One of the first tricks I tried for getting the seeds out "without a mess" involved cutting open a pomegranate and smacking it over a bowl with the back of a spoon. 
Let me just say......  

photo source                                           
Have you ever watched CSI as they investigate blood spatter?  Because that's exactly what you and your clothes and kitchen will look like. Talk about mess!  Trust me. Skip this one!

Here is My No Mess Approach To Eating Pomegranates:

First find a nice heavy pomegranate that's not too soft. 
(To be honest I let this one sit too long so it wasn't the best.)
Notice that I placed it directly on the counter. 
I'm that confident that there will be no mess!

With the crown facing up, take a knife and score around the top.
 You are not cutting through just scoring or "scalping" if you will.


  As you cut lift up a little and then peel off top. No cut seeds, no mess.

In the center is the core of the crown, remove that with the knife.

Now you can see the outline of the seed chambers. 
You are going to score the outside where the rind part is in between the seed chambers.


Now get yourself a bowl of water big enough to put the pomegranate in and work with your hands 
with the water deep enough to cover the pomegranate.
( This is important or you will stain your clothes.)

Once in the bowl, pull apart along those scored lines. It will just break. 
Work the seeds gently out removing the membranes as you go.
The membrane pieces will float and the seeds will sink.



Skim off the membrane pieces and then strain out the seeds.
Pick through to get any mushy ones out and any remaining pieces of membrane.

There you have it! Pomegranate Seeds.  
And not a drop of stain on my counter!
BTW: One pomegranate yields about 1 1/2 cups of seeds.

This may seem like a fuss but it really isn't. It goes much faster once you know what to do.

To Make Juice:



Several Options here:

1.  Take the seeds and pulse in blender and then strain through sieve or cheese cloth to get the juice.

2.  Using a whole Pomegranate, cut around the middle and juice using a citrus press, just like an orange. Best to not use an electric juicer.  

Commercial Style Citrus Press
Jupiter Large Commercial Juice Press, Black

 3.  A  good old fashioned citrus reamer, again with a whole pomegranate cut in half.

You may still need to strain the juice with these press methods.

Next up:

My new favorite Pom juice blend and a Fabulous Pomegranate, Blood Orange and Fennel salad.

Now hurry and go get some pomegranates,
the season is almost over!













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