Archive for July, 2011

Raw Vegetable Soup

I did a cleanse a couple of months ago and one part of it was starting the morning with freshly made vegetable juice before breakfast.  The idea of juicing hadn’t appealed to me before this, because juice is not a whole food and I did not like the idea of all of the pulp going to waste.  The more I learn about it, though, the more I am intrigued by this idea of getting a whole bunch of concentrated vitamins into our bodies first thing in the morning and I actually find it quite powerful.  It’s also easy on the digestion first thing in the morning, because your body doesn’t really have to do any work to assimilate it.  Of course, I do not let the pulp go to waste.  I use it to make dehydrated crackers, I cook it into veggie pancakes, or I add it to breads, vegetable sautes, etc.

A couple days ago, I had to head out to my kitchen very early and I don’t have a juicer there.  It was too early to turn mine on before I left, as my whole family had been with me in the kitchen the night before until later than is prudent and I really wanted them to be able to sleep in.  So, I had to come up with an alternative that would provide all those good vitamins and minerals to start the day, but could be made without a juicer.  Fortunately, with the Summer produce in full force, my vegetable drawers were well-stocked, so I grabbed a few things and headed out.  In this case, I brought carrots, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado and fennel, plus some ginger and a lemon.  But, the options for this kind of soup are really endless – zucchini, cabbage, bell peppers, and romaine lettuce would all be good, and of course you can’t go wrong with fresh herbs.

This will make 2 servings – you can have it for breakfast and lunch or you can share it with someone you love.

  • 5 medium carrots
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 stalk fennel, or more to taste, reserve the greens for garnish
  • 1/2 inch of fresh ginger, more or less as you like
  • 1 small ripe avocado
  • juice from 1/2 lemon or lime
  • salt, to taste

Place the carrots, tomatoes, cucumber, fennel, and ginger in the blender and process until smooth.  Add the avocado and continue to blend.  Add the citrus juice and a generous pinch of salt, then taste and adjust as needed.  Garnish with the green, wispy fennel and serve cold.  Enjoy!

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Refreshing Mint Lemonade

I feel like Summer is finally kicking in – the days are hot, the kids just had a week of camp, and produce is abundant.  We are spending the day catching up on things long past due, so it will be nice to take a break and enjoy a refreshing glass of lemonade.  I am a water drinker, for the most part, and I tend to guzzle it on the run, but sometimes it’s nice to sit down and really enjoy a drink.  While today is a perfect day for cooling herbs like mint, there are many other options for flavoring this drink – it could blended with fresh berries along with the mint, rosemary or basil could replace the mint, limes would replace the lemons for limeade, it could be ginger or ginger-mint lemonade, and I’m sure you can come up with many of your own delicious options.

The sweetener in this recipe is stevia, which is a sweet herb.  I buy it here in Boulder at Rebecca’s Herbal Apothecary in dried form, though you can certainly grow your own stevia if you choose.  I choose stevia in this dried herb form rather than concentrated or extracted forms because I think it’s best to keep our ingredients as close to their natural state as possible; and because those other forms tend to have a bitter or unpleasant aftertaste which has not been my experience with the herb form.  I like to use a variety of low impact sweeteners and stevia herb is often my choice when I want to sweeten a drink.  This herb has become known by some as one of those miracle ingredients, in this case one that has been used safely for hundreds of years in other countries and will give you a sweet taste without affecting your blood sugar or adding empty calories.  In other camps, stevia is dangerous, untested, and questionable at best (that’s the FDA stance).  I’m not convinced it’s a miracle, but I’m also not convinced that it’s bad, so I like to use stevia herb periodically in unprocessed form and, of course, in moderation.

You will to filter out the stevia leaves and lemon peel before drinking the tea.  If you have a tea ball (a wire mesh strainer that encases the herbs), you can use that or a piece of cheesecloth tied with twine to encase them while they infuse their flavor into the drink.  If neither of those is available, you can make the lemonade in one container and pour it through a strainer into your pitcher or jar.

  • 4 whole, fresh lemons
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon dried stevia leaf
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint
  • optional: 1/2 cup blended fresh berries, extra mint, lemon slices, and fresh berries for garnishing

With a sharp knife, slice the yellow part of the lemon peel off your lemons and set aside, then juice lemons into a large measuring cup.  Add the water.  Crumble the dried stevia between your fingers and put it and the lemon peels in a tea ball or tie them into a piece of cheesecloth and add that to the lemon water.  Stir in the julienned mint and blended berries, if using.  Let it sit for about 15 minutes before removing the tea ball/cheesecloth.  Pour into glasses and garnish with fresh mint leaves, lemon slices, and fresh berries if you went the berry route.  Enjoy!

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Massaged Kale and Shaved Beet Salad

Raw kale isn’t at the top of everyone’s list of fav foods, but maybe this recipe will change your mind and at least get it on the list!  Massaging the kale with olive oil and salt will start to break it down, resulting in a more tender texture and a milder flavor.  The beauty of this is that you get a delicious salad with all of its precious vitamins, minerals, and enzymes intact.  And, you don’t have to turn your stove on at all.  The beets add a sweet flavor and a beautiful contrast in colors.  Feel free to add additional vegetables like carrots, cucumber, fennel, sugar snap peas, etc.  For this recipe, we’ll keep it simple and just garnish with some chopped almonds.

  • 1 small bunch kale, preferably a flatter variety like Tuscan kale
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 medium red beet
  • 1 medium golden beet
  • 2-3 Tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small lemon
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon coconut sugar, optional
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds

Wash and dry the kale.  Pile it up, one leaf on top of another and roll it up, then cut into ribbons.  Put into a large bowl with 1 Tablespoon olive oil and salt and begin to massage it with your hands.  Continue massaging for 2-3 minutes, or until the kale begins to wilt, then set aside.  Cut the ends off the beets and peel the skin off with a vegetable peeler and put the ends and skin in your compost.  With a very sharp knife, or mandolin if you have one, slice the beets as thinly as possible.  Add them to the massaged kale.  Wash your lemon and carefully peel the yellow outer skin off with paring knife.  Cut into thin strips and Add to the kale/beet mixture.  Juice the lemon and combine it with the olive oil and coconut sugar, then drizzle over the salad and toss thoroughly.  Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.  Sprinkle the chopped almonds over the salad.  Enjoy!

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Greek Lemon Potatoes

Many, many, many years ago, my now-husband and I went to Greece.  I have a lot of wonderful memories from that trip and, of course, some of them revolve around the simple, healthy, amazingly delicious meals we had.  We discovered gigantes, stuffed tomatoes…of course we ate a lot of Greek salad and almost every meal included these lemony, garlicky, absolutely delicious potatoes.

That trip to Greece actually inspires much of my cooking to this day.  Fresh, local produce was the center of every meal.  It was simple, well-prepared, and nourishing in every way.  The ambiance didn’t hurt either.

Since I just got a big bag of fresh, local potatoes at the Farmers’ Market, I was inspired to give this recipe a try for a 4th of July gathering.  I enjoyed the leftovers so much that I thought I should share it with you.  These potatoes do require cooking, of course, but I like to make a big batch and then eat leftovers cold with bean salads and the like.  In Greece, I imagine these are slow-cooked in Earthenware pots in the oven, but I am going to suggest using a crock pot because I know you are all out working and/or playing all day.  Plus I don’t think it heats the kitchen nearly as much.

  • 2 lbs potatoes, washed and cut into wedges or bite-sized pieces (no need to peel!)
  • enough olive oil to generously coat the potatoes, maybe about 1/4 up
  • 3 garlic scapes, sliced (or the equivalent in green garlic or garlic cloves)
  • sea salt
  • 1 whole organic lemon, washed
  • 1 bunch of parsley

Put the potatoes in the crock pot and stir the olive oil in with them so they are well-coated.  Stir in the garlic scapes and sprinkle liberally with salt.  With a paring knife, peel the yellow part of the lemon rind off.  It’s fine to get a bit of the white part with it, but not too much or it will taste bitter.  Julienne (cut in thin strips) the lemon peel and stir about 1/2 into the potatoes.  Reserve the other half in a sealed jar for adding at the end.  Juice the lemon and stir the juice into the potatoes.  Trim a few inches of the parsley stems, then start chopping them from the stem side until you reach the part that’s mostly leafy.  Reserve this part for later and add the stemmy-leaves to the potatoes.  Cover and cook on low for several hours until the potatoes are very soft and have started to brown.  Chop the remaining parsley leaves and stir them into the potatoes, along with the remaining lemon rind.  Season to taste.

You can also add some cooked beans toward the end of cooking, throw in some chopped spinach or beet greens, serve with hard boiled eggs for breakfast, add some chopped red onion for a more traditional potato salad, etc, etc.  Enjoy!

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